Weekly Links

Be in the know, Sept. 12-16.

Chairman Concerned Over Lack of U.S.-Iran Contact – Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

During a stop at the University of Miami yesterday, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said that the lack of contact between the United States and Iran is troubling.

“Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, U.S. officials could still talk with the Soviets,” the admiral said. In the early 1960s, U.S. and Soviet leaders had the Hot Line that went straight from the White House to the Kremlin. The United States and Soviet Union had the two largest armories of nuclear weapons. Both nations had nuclear-armed forces on alert at all times.

A must-listen: Columbia SIPA Professor’s Gary Sick’s keynote speech at the London School of Economics on Iran and the Arab world

The Road Not Taken Toward Iran – Paul Pillar, The National Interest

Last week the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency offered in a speech to allow international inspectors “full supervision” of all of Iran’s nuclear activities for five years if sanctions on Iran are lifted. The offer was vaguely worded, and issues of timing and sequencing regarding the sanctions part of the formula might be difficult to work out. But it would be a mistake to respond as Americans have too often responded, which is to assume the worst about the intentions on the other side and to act in a way that would make sense only if that assumption were true, even though we don’t know it to be true. It would make far more sense to act with the realization that as far as we know the Iranian statement could be anything from a major breakthrough to a phony bit of rhetoric. The only way to find out is to explore the unexplored road and talk with the Iranians about it. If the favorable possibility turns out to be true, talking could be the first step toward a comprehensive safeguards agreement. If the unfavorable possibility turns out to be true, little or nothing is lost; in fact the Western case for pressuring Iran would be strengthened by demonstrating that the West is willing to go the extra mile.

U.S. in a Bind Over Palestine’s Bid for U.N. Recognition – Barbara Slavin, IPS News

Chas Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, another Washington think tank, Monday that there will be “a war of attrition by the international community… against the U.S. effort to protect Israel from the consequences of its own actions in the occupied territories.”

Conflict in Israel?: A problematic speaking deal at The New York Times – Max Blumenthal, Columbia Journalism Review

Running the Jerusalem bureau for The New York Times is a tough job in a hypersensitive area, one that attracts more than its share of slings and arrows. So maybe it is best not to hand out extra arrows, as Ethan Bronner seems to have done.

In 2009, Bronner, who has run the bureau since March 2008, joined the speakers bureau of one of Israel’s top public relations firms, Lone Star Communications. Lone Star arranges speaking dates for Bronner and takes 10 to 15 percent of his fee. At the same time, Lone Star pitches Bronner stories.

Turkey, Egypt and Israel – Juan Cole, Informed Comment

Not only has Turkey moved away from a wounded Turkish secular nationalism, but Egypt has moved away from a naive Arab nationalism. With the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime, Egypt is groping toward a new, multi-cultural politics that makes a place for Muslim religious parties and for secularists alike. Many young Muslim Brothers speak favorably of a “Turkish model.”

Hawks Fret Over U.S. Withdrawal – Jim Lobe, IPS News

Such a plan “is completely at odds with the best advice of military commanders on the ground, undercuts the position of American negotiators(,) and suggests that Iraq’s future is of little importance to the United States,” wrote Max Boot, a neo-conservative at the Council on Foreign Relations, in the Weekly Standard.

“In fact, with such small troop numbers, U.S. commanders would be forced to all but close shop,” concluded Boot, whose views have in the past reflected those of former Central Command chief and current Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, Gen. David Petraeus.

Sanctions and Iran’s Growing Economic Woes – NIAC Podcast

Discussing Iran’s current economic situation, the effects of U.S. sanctions on Iran, and the prevailing attitude amongst Iranians towards sanctions with sociologist, Kevan Harris.

The Prescience Of MearsheimerAndrew Sullivan, The Dish (h/t Mondoweiss)

It took Obama to get this right, after I and so many got it so terribly wrong. And this is another reminder of the strategic brilliance of Mearsheimer, a man subjected to a vicious smear campaign because of his resistance to the Greater Israel Lobby.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.