By Daniel Luban
One of the more amusing aspects of the ongoing NIAC story has been the right-wing fixation on investor and philanthropist George Soros’s links to the group. The fact that Soros’s Open Society Institute helps fund the NIAC-affiliated Campaign for a New Policy on Iran — as well as his funding of J Street, another neocon bete noire — has led the usual suspects to portray Soros as the hidden power behind an anti-Israel, pro-Iran conspiracy in Washington. The Weekly Standard‘s Michael Goldfarb writes that the “the tie that binds [NIAC and J Street] seems to be George Soros,” and accuses them of being “closely allied with a Holocaust-denying regime that daily threatens the existence of the State of Israel,” while the American Thinker‘s Ed Lasky goes farther, headlining his piece “Soros tentacles wind through pro-Iranian groups”. (I have often found it startling how easily staunchly Zionist and philo-Semitic writers slip into the language of traditional anti-Semitism when talking about Soros — the latest incarnation of the shadowy Jewish financier whose “tentacles” extend throughout the corridors of power.)
Why is this funny? Because there is one other group that similarly views Soros as a shadowy, dangerous and destabilizing servant of the enemy, and it is the Iranian regime itself. For proof, see this rather hilarious Iranian government propaganda video from the summer, which depicts Soros in the White House plotting regime change in Tehran with none other than John McCain (!) and nonviolent resistance theorist Gene Sharp (!). (In the video, the nefarious Soros-backed conspiracy against the Islamic Republic is foiled by a loyal citizen who turns her brother in to the security services.)
So for the neocons, Soros is an Iranian stooge; for the Ahmadinejad regime, he is an American stooge. The man just can’t win.
Amusement aside, the coincidence is a revealing one. It is a reminder that both American and Iranian hardliners have a desire for increased confrontation between Washington and Tehran, and an interest in destroying moderates who seek to defuse tensions between the countries. We see this in the Iranian right’s attacks on Moussavi and Karroubi for being anti-Islamic Republic, and the American right’s attacks on them for not being anti-Islamic Republic enough; in the Iranian right’s terror of Soros-style peaceful civil society initiatives as velvet revolutions in the making, and the American right’s contempt for them as weak-kneed appeasement. And it is this logic that is driving the campaign against Trita Parsi and NIAC, critics of the Iranian regime who refuse to serve as enablers for a U.S.-Iran war. As Robert Farley puts it, “every country has its neocons,” and they frequently have the same enemies.
[Cross-posted at The Faster Times.]