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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’
November 18th, 2011 at 8:11 am
Podcast: Iran, GOP Presidential Field, ObamaCare and More
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Ken Blackwell, American Civil Rights Union Senior Fellow and contributing editor for Townhall.com, discusses the potential for an Israeli strike against Iran, the strengths and weaknesses of GOP presidential candidates and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review ObamaCare.

Listen to the interview here.

October 18th, 2011 at 6:06 pm
How to Eviscerate a Pundit
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Regular readers of the blog know that there is a small gallery of Washington pundits that I simply cannot abide; not because I disagree with their views, but because I despise the predictability of their positions, the ballast of their prose, and the intellectual laziness of their work.

That’s a group that includes Tom Friedman, Joe Klein, and E.J. Dionne, amongst others. But there’s a special place in pundit hell for the professional joiner: the columnist who always has to march in lockstep with Beltway fashion. That’s why it’s so delightful to see the once-respectable Fareed Zakaria get noted in the New Republic’s list of over-rated DC thinkers. The précis is priceless:

Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle. He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus. When Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

Indeed. Fareed Zakaria is a man who writes Gallup polls in paragraph form. Nice to see the media take notice.

September 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm
Top 10 Craziest UN Speeches

Foreign Policy offers a Top 10 list of the “craziest things ever said during a United Nations speech,” to help give context to today’s request for statehood recognition by the Palestinian Authority.

Among the leaders contributing to the list are Russia’s Nikita Khruschev (shoe banging and epithet); Palestine’s Yassir Arafat leading a “Zionism = racism” movement; Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez comparing President George W. Bush to Satan; and Iran’s Mahmoud  Ahmadinejad blaming the South Ossetia war on Israel.

Of the top ten, three include racist criticisms of Israel.  If Palestine gets statehood status and speaking privileges, expect that number to rise.

June 13th, 2011 at 10:30 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Iran’s Ahmadinejad: Look! Weiner!!
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 24th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
Pouring Cold Water on the Arab Spring
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The always-provocative strategist George Friedman (head of Austin-based STRATFOR) is out with a new analysis of President Obama’s Middle East policy today on RealClearWorld (caveat: Friedman is always provocative, but not always accurate. He wrote a 1991 book titled “The Coming War with Japan”). As usual, Friedman’s work is rife with insight, but no single passage deserves quotation as much as his dispassionate diagnosis of the Arab Spring:

The central problem from my point of view is that the Arab Spring has consisted of demonstrations of limited influence, in non-democratic revolutions and in revolutions whose supporters would create regimes quite alien from what Washington would see as democratic. There is no single vision to the Arab Spring, and the places where the risings have the most support are the places that will be least democratic, while the places where there is the most democratic focus have the weakest risings.

The piece deserves reading in its entirety for its thorough analysis of the region, but this is perhaps its most important point. The Middle East needs real change before hope becomes an appropriate response. Newsroom revolutions are not adequate.

February 18th, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Iran Tells Israel Not to Worry, Warships Sailing Past to Train in Syria

Who says Iran’s leaders don’t know how to lighten the mood?  With tensions in the Middle East boiling over – and Iran rumored to be behind many of the region’s revolutionary protests – the Islamic Republic is trying to downplay the threat of its decision to send two warships through Egypt’s Suez Canal and emerge off the coast of Israel.

Hard to blame Israeli officials in Tel Aviv for fearing the truth of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad’s repeated promises to destroy the Jewish state after getting the news about his navy’s surprise trip.  But as proof of Iran’s peaceful intentions the government offered two assurances.  First, the ships won’t carry any weapons or nuclear or chemical material.  Second, the duo is headed to Syria for training.

Unfortunately for Iran, its dishonest record of nuclear enrichment and ties to terrorist organizations in Syria and elsewhere aren’t fooling anyone – except the weakened Egyptian government looking to avoid a confrontation.

It’s worth noting that an Iranian warship going through the Suez Canal under the Mubarak reign is unthinkable.  Now, Israeli officials must consider more unthinkable scenarios with its sworn enemy soon sailing within sight of the Jewish homeland.

January 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Mid East Situation Tests Obama’s Foreign Policy Leadership

If drawing a word picture of the increasingly uncivil unrest in the Middle East – and especially Egypt – the image would be dominated by the words “democracy,” “protest,” “youth,” and “change,” among others.  If the on-the-ground reporting and television pictures are to be believed, the one word uniting these themes is “hope.”  Specifically, hope in an end to corrupt government that robs people of wealth and ambition, as well as freedom and justice.

Writers of all stripes are focusing on the importance of President Barak Obama’s administration to ‘get it right’ on its position towards the protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon, and Jordan.  To date, Obama’s only foreign policy precedent in this realm is the lack of solidarity he showed towards pro-reform forces in Iran.  Could this week’s much wider conflagration see the implosion of Obama’s claim to be the worldwide symbol of change-hope-youth-democracy-uplift?

The complicating factor in all this is an American strategic interest that supports secular dictators over Islamist radicals.  Continuing that choice makes sense if those are the only options, but the remarkable thing about the protests is that Islamist groups (like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) are not (yet) at the forefront of the movements.  Right now, it seems like most people are rebelling against the type of Mafioso government that keeps vast swaths of citizens repressed.

If nothing else, the knowledge and skill required at this level of foreign policy should serve as a warning to any 2012 presidential contenders (including the man likely to want a second term).  In these situations, you only get one chance to make the right decision, so you’d better be prepared.

October 19th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
From Tehran, With a Warning

A parallel alliance between the world’s governing thugs continues to follow a James Bond movie scenario: buffoonish villains pursuing absurdly dramatic evil.  Other than a shared penchant for casual clothing and over-the-top rhetoric, however, there’s nothing funny about the increasingly close alliance between Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

This week, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is traveling to Russia and Iran to secure cooperation agreements on nuclear enrichment, oil production and other stick-in-the-eye measures to America and its allies.

At some point, Americans will wake up to a clutch of hostile nations that have nuclear weapons in volatile regions.  Hopefully, the Obama Administration is doing much more strategic planning than waiting for a Felix Leiter-type CIA operative to save the day.

August 25th, 2010 at 6:27 pm
Vladimir Putin, Action Star

You can tell a lot about a man from his pastimes.  According to the Associated Press (with associated photos), the former Russian president shot a gray whale with a crossbow from a rubber speed boat in choppy arctic waters.

This isn’t Putin’s first brush with staged danger.

He has been photographed fishing bare-chested in Russia’s Altai region, and was shown on television diving into an icy river and swimming the butterfly stroke.

In April he attached a satellite-tracking collar on a tranquilized polar bear. He also has shot a Siberian tiger with a tranquilizer gun and released leopards into a wildlife sanctuary.

While there’s no need for President Obama to wrestle an alligator or box with a grizzly bear, it would be nice if our dear leader could compensate by showing a bit more backbone in the foreign policy arena; especially towards Iran and the country that built its new nuclear facility.  (I.e. Russia)

August 16th, 2010 at 1:59 pm
The Unstoppable Bomb
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I’ve been writing in this space for months now that Western policymakers who believe Iran can be contained or deterred by conventional methods once it goes nuclear are deluding themselves. As I wrote in a commentary nearly a year ago:

In the 1930s, Winston Churchill – virtually alone – called for swift action to remove Hitler before he could wreak havoc.  What was the source of his clarity? Churchill simply understood that Hitler meant what he said in “Mein Kampf” and was developing the capacity to act on it. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe’s political sophisticates believed that Hitler’s rhetoric was purely for domestic consumption – a tool used to exploit the grievances of the demoralized Weimar Republic.
 
Today, a similar debate rages over Ahmadinejad and the mullahs whose regime he leads.  But the sincerity of their beliefs should be in doubt to no one.  The Iranian President is a man who, during his tenure as the mayor of Tehran, ordered the city’s streets widened in anticipation of the return of the Twelfth Imam, a figure who accompanies the apocalypse in Shiite Islamic theology. The American left would call for the head of any mayor in the United States who wanted to widen Main Street to prepare for the return of the Christ. Yet they apparently think a similar figure in the world’s biggest hotbed of religious fundamentalism can be expected to be a benign wielder of nuclear launch codes.

In the new issue of Commentary, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, in a piece entitled “Iran Cannot be Contained”, comes to the same conclusion from a different angle, rebutting those who think that because containment worked on the Soviet Union it can work on the Iranian regime:

… The most important difference between the Soviet Union and Iran may be ideological. A credible case can be made that Communism is no less a faith than Islam and that Iran’s current leadership, like Soviet leaders of yore, knows how to temper true belief with pragmatic considerations. But Communism was also a materialist and (by its own lights) rationalist creed, with a belief in the inevitability of history but not in the afterlife. Marxist-Leninist regimes may be unmatched in their record of murderousness, but they were never great believers in the virtues of martyrdom.

That is not the case with Shiism, which has been decisively shaped by a cult of suffering and martyrdom dating to the murder of Imam Husayn—the Sayyed al-Shuhada, or Prince of Martyrs—in Karbala in the seventh century. The emphasis on martyrdom became all the more pronounced in Iran during its war with Iraq, when Tehran sent waves of child soldiers, some as young as 10, to clear out Iraqi minefields. As Hooman Majd writes in his book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, the boys were often led by a soldier mounted on a white horse in imitation of Husayn: “the hero who would lead them into their fateful battle before they met their God.” Tens of thousands of children died this way.

The martyrdom mentality factors into Iran’s nuclear calculus as well. In December 2001, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—a man often described as a moderate and a pragmatist in the Western press—noted in his Qods (Jerusalem) Day speech that “if one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

We are, quite simply, running out of time.  We can try to ignore reality, but reality won’t return the favor.

August 12th, 2010 at 7:17 pm
Bibi Redux
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Back in March, after his speech to AIPAC, I offered the notion that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the last statesman left in the Western world.

Unfortunately, nearly six months later, nothing much has changed. Iran continues to develop its nuclear capacity, the United States continues to toothlessly chide the mullahs, and Israel continues to gird itself for a task that is only palatable in light of the alternative: to attack the regime in Tehran rather than to risk annihilation at its hands. Throughout all the world, only one man is treating this threat with the gravity it deserves. That man is the Prime Minister of Israel.

Netanyahu is tough, smart, and morally courageous: three things that you don’t see much of in politics these days. He deserves your respect and should gain even more of it in light of George Will’s profile of him in today’s Washington Post. From the coda of a piece that begs to be read in its entirety:

Arguably the most left-wing administration in American history is trying to knead and soften the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. The former shows no understanding of the latter, which thinks it understands the former all too well.

The prime minister honors Churchill, who spoke of “the confirmed unteachability of mankind.” Nevertheless, a display case in Netanyahu’s office could teach the Obama administration something about this leader. It contains a small signet stone that was part of a ring found near the Western Wall. It is about 2,800 years old — 200 years younger than Jerusalem’s role as the Jewish people’s capital. The ring was the seal of a Jewish official, whose name is inscribed on it: Netanyahu.

No one is less a transnational progressive, less a post-nationalist, than Binyamin Netanyahu, whose first name is that of a son of Jacob, who lived perhaps 4,000 years ago. Netanyahu, whom no one ever called cuddly, once said to a U.S. diplomat 10 words that should warn U.S. policymakers who hope to make Netanyahu malleable: “You live in Chevy Chase. Don’t play with our future.”

August 5th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Obama Outsources Iran Negotiations to Office of Cultural Sensitivity
Posted by Troy Senik Print

You know that obnoxious college undergrad who tries to prove his worldliness by being overly deferential to any foreign culture he comes across? He won the electoral college.

Buried deep in a report by ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour on the White House’s diplomatic engagement with Iran comes this little nugget:

A senior U.S. official said the administration is waiting to see if Iran comes back to the negotiating table after Ramadan as it has publicly indicated in the past, but there have been no direct contacts with Iran about engagement.

In politics, as in romance, deadlines mean something. And apparently Iran is busy washing its hair on Ramadan.

Let’s be clear: Iran blows us off when we ignore them and blows us off when we try to engage them. They’re irascibale when there are sanctions in place and irascible when there are none. They hate us on Ramadan and they’re not wild about us on Hanukkah.

Mr. President: They’re just not that into you.

July 17th, 2010 at 7:53 pm
Foreign Policy ‘Realism’ as a Proxy for Doing Nothing

There’s an interesting column in Foreign Policy I commend to anyone trying to make sense out of the realignment going on in the Democratic and Republican parties.  With former president George W. Bush firmly entrenched in the public’s mind as a neoconservative nation-builder, President Barack Obama did what most political opponents do – adopt the opposite strategy.

Thus, we’ve got a Commander-in-Chief who looks and sounds a lot like former president George H. W. Bush, the highest ranking member of the foreign policy “realist” school.  To my lights, foreign policy realism is shorthand for “The world is a really dangerous place run by a lot of bad people.  Since there’s nothing we can do to change it we might as well make nice with some of the friendlier dictators.”

Perhaps that notion is correct; at least in general.  Such a view of the world helps explain why President Obama can’t seem to summon his emotions when pro-democracy marchers are killed in the streets of Tehran.  Bad people do bad things, but hey; it could be worse.

But while Jacob Heilbrunn’s Foreign Policy article does a nice job of recounting the ebb and flow of Realism’s popularity with Republicans, he seems to miss a more obvious point about the kind of politician who would be attracted to the philosophy.  Consider the presidents Heilbrunn identifies as fans: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and now Barack Obama.  Their commonality?  Each president is motivated by pessimism about the world around him.

Eisenhower’s most memorable speech was his farewell address warning about a military-industrial complex.  Nixon had enemies’ lists.  Bush didn’t see the value of “the vision thing” and preferred to talk shop with elites instead of connecting with everyday citizens.  And then there’s Obama.  He might be the most negatively-oriented president we’ve had since Nixon.  The reason America needs “Hope” and “Change” is because everything is currently broken.  Besides, who are Americans to lecture the world on morals when it’s so obvious to Progressive faculty members that the United States is probably at fault for their problems?

Foreign policy realism may be a necessary corrective to neoconservative empire-building, but realism’s lack of popularity doesn’t mean it is right; just that if offers an unsatisfying view of the world.

June 7th, 2010 at 1:15 pm
The Former British MP Behind the Next Turkish Flotilla

It’s amazing in the modern era where information is so plentiful that news pieces more often look like a schizophrenic’s diary entry than a well thought out update on a continuing story.  Today’s example is courtesy of an article in the UK’s The Guardian.  The story begins with the serious, but by no means startling, news that Iran is publicly offering to escort future convoys to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Some readers may remember this is the same regime which sponsored a Holocaust denial conference, maintains a president who promises to destroy the Jewish State, and is the primary supplier of arms and rockets to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

Iran also doesn’t have much love for the United States.  Neither does one of radical Islam’s most corrupt Western supporters, former British MP George Galloway.  An unrepentant Socialist, Galloway seems like many other A-list apologists for totalitarian governments, having secured his status with a speech praising Saddam Hussein in the dictator’s presence, and excoriating American foreign policy in an appearance before the U.S. Senate.

Given just that bit of information, you might think mentioning him at the end of a news story about the coming flare up between Israel and Iran would be adequate:

George Galloway, the founder of Viva Palestina, announced in London that two simultaneous convoys “one by land via Egypt and the other by sea” would set out in September to break the Gaza blockade. The sea convoy of up to 60 ships will travel around the Mediterranean gathering ships, cargo and volunteers.

The paragraph could have introduced Galloway as “Current Hamas financial contributor George Galloway,” or “Oil for Food profiteer George Galloway,” to give a much clearer understanding of the man organizing the September “solidarity” sailing trip.    At the very least, the article could have quoted the announcement from the Viva Palestina website detailing that the talks to plan the trip occurred in Istanbul, Turkey, with Galloway saying he wanted Egypt to guarantee safe passage for the next convoy.  But instead of linking Galloway to the corrupt groups running various Middle East governments, the article reads like he is unconnected from the people he gets paid to support.

Thankfully, David Horowitz and the folks over at Discover the Networks provide much more background and documentation than The Guardian’s Middle East editor.

So, the next time you read or hear a news story and wonder if you’ve heard the name, place, or group before, run it through Discover the Networks before moving on.  Within ten minutes you’ll be way more informed than most of the information gatekeepers in the MSM.

June 4th, 2010 at 9:39 am
Turkey Illustrates the Obama Doctrine’s Failure
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As a candidate for the White House, when it was easy to throw rocks at the Bush Administration from afar, Barack Obama falsely attributed international disaccord to Bush’s policies.  Obama famously raised eyebrows in 2007 when he promised to meet such leaders as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il “without preconditions.”  As he sanctimoniously put it, “the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.”

At approximately the same time, Obama predicted that not only would Bush’s troop surge strategy in Iraq not succeed, it would somehow make things worse.

The scorecard three years later is not kind to Obama.  The Iraq surge has succeeded beyond anyone’s most optimistic expectations, while Obama’s doctrine of “peace through apology” is failing miserably.

Turkey now provides another vivid illustration of the continuing failure of this Obama Doctrine.

Not long ago, Turkey stood as an important pro-American ally.  Indeed, Turkey was Israel’s most friendly neighbor, and the site for one of Obama’s more disgraceful “Apology Tour” speeches.  Today, however, Turkey has shifted its friendly gestures from Israel to Iran.  Turkey also sanctions the militant group IHH that attacked Israeli commandos and attempted to run the Gaza blockade, and lectured Obama that his condemnation of Israel’s act of self-defense wasn’t strong enough.

Along with North Korea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Syria, Turkey provides another instructive illustration that Obama’s spineless foreign policy has degraded, not improved, international relations.

June 3rd, 2010 at 7:04 pm
Jim Woolsey Warns of an Iranian Moment

With all the attention focused on the aftermath of the Turkish flotilla incident, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey enlarges the picture to encompass Israel’s most lethal foe: Iran.  He pens a sobering essay outlining the similarities between the rise of the Nazis in Germany to the increasing power of Iran’s mullahs.  Both faced restrained opposition from the West due to domestic economic concerns, and elite opinion that a civilized culture cannot produce a totalitarian, neighbor-terrorizing regime.  They’re too smart for that.

Maybe not.  Or rather, perhaps elite opinion shouldn’t run the risk of assuming that all governments represent the will of the people they govern.

So, what’s America to do?  According to Woolsey, there isn’t much time left.

But now, as was the case in the mid-1930s, we may have very little time left. There still may be a chance for the U.S. and at least a few of its allies to do something effective: to impose on Iran crippling economic sanctions orders of magnitude more severe than the modest ones used to date, to provide substantial and effective aid to the Iranian reformers, or otherwise to help bring about a tectonic shift in the nature of the Iranian regime. We may still have an opportunity to keep “engagement” from becoming the “appeasement” of our time, a synonym for “weakness leading to war.” The key determinant is whether our leaders decide to use Chamberlain or Churchill as their model of statesmanship.

Much will hinge on their choice.

Hopefully, President Obama won’t need a Bay of Pigs disaster to serve as a rehearsal for his own Cuban Missile Crisis.

H/T: National Review

May 17th, 2010 at 5:35 pm
“The Triumph of Hope over Experience”
Posted by Troy Senik Print

That’s how Samuel Johnson defined a second marriage. But it applies with equal force to nearly every pronouncement that the international diplomatic community makes about Iran.

With news that the Islamic Republic has struck a fuel-swapping deal with Turkey, the hallelujahs are coming fast and furious. However, the subtle undercurrent for those who pay attention to such things is that this will only chink away at UN efforts to impose harsh sanctions (not that there’s much hope there — but even failure on such an incremental step redounds to Iran’s favor).

The less subtle upshot, however? Well, I’ll let the Iranians tell you themselves:

“There is no relation between the swap deal and our enrichment activities … We will continue our 20 percent uranium enrichment work,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.

On a good day, the West’s diplomatic strategy towards Iran is “pray”.  On a bad day, it’s “duck and cover”.

May 6th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
Comedy Central Returns to Its Roots

What better way to celebrate the Iranian President’s visit to America than for Comedy Central to announce plans to develop a half-hour show about Jesus Christ “wanting to escape the shadow of his ‘powerful but apathetic father’ and live a regular life in New York City”?

As CFIF Senior Fellow Troy Senik pointed out last week, this is the same network that heavily censored a “South Park” episode lampooning the Prophet Mohammed for fear of offending radical jihadists.  When asked whether there was a double standard in making fun of the founder of Christianity, the network’s head of original programming says, “In general, comedy in purist form always makes some people uncomfortable.”

Good to see Comedy Central getting back to its roots: attacking the pillars of Western civilization while making a buck.

May 5th, 2010 at 7:42 pm
Iran Taking the Feminine Mystique a Bit Too Literally
Posted by Troy Senik Print

From the people who gave you Syria and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission, comes the latest piece of evidence that the UN is an institution dedicated to the social promotion of vice: Iran’s elevation to membership on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Though press coverage of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at Turtle Bay on Monday largely focused on nuclear policy, Iran’s benevolence towards the fairer sex did come up yesterday. Per Fox News:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday appeared to defend his country’s recent re-election to a seat on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, arguing that Iranian women are “highly respected” in his country while 70 percent of European women are physically abused.

Speaking at a news conference in New York, Ahmadinejad said that a “woman is the symbol of beauty of God” in his country while there is “no dignity left for women in Europe.”

And how precisely is that dignity maintained in Persia? Just ask Tehran’s top cop:

Brig Hossien Sajedinia, Tehran’s police chief, said a national crackdown on opposition sympathisers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws. He said: “The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.

“We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.”

It’s a wonder that every feminist in the Western world isn’t a neoconservative.

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:15 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama’s Iran Strategy

Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.