News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 28:

  • The Atlantic: Jeffrey Goldberg lists his observations on the ongoing events in Egypt and mentions that friends of his, like FDD fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, advocate that democratically elected Islamist governments might be part of a “long-term process of gradual modernization.” But Goldberg is “not so sure” and suggests that not all democratically elected governments are worth ending “fifty years of peace” which have “meant propping up dictators for fifty years.” “I support democratization, but the democratization we saw in Gaza (courtesy of, among others, Condi Rice) doesn’t seem particularly worth it,” he writes.” Goldberg then tries to deny the importance of “linkage”—despite its embrace by the military establishment and the Obama administration—and concludes, “these uprisings are offering proof that Israel isn’t the central Arab preoccupation. Wikileaks showed us that Iran is the obsession of Arab leaders, and these mass demonstrations are showing us that the faults of Arab leaders are the actual obsession of Arab people.” (Jim Lobe and I took a closer look at those cables and found a very different message.)
  • The National Interest: Ben-Gurion University professor Benny Morris writes, “The regimes that have crumbled or appear to be on the verge of crumbling, are those linked to the West, and they are regimes characterized by a relatively soft authoritarianism, and are commonly perceived as weak, if not downright flabby, well past their prime.” He contrasts the end of Ben Ali’s rule and the escalating situation in Egypt with the suppression of protests by the Iranian government in 2009. “All of this stands in stark contrast to the Iranian regime’s successful suppression of last year’s street rebellion, triggered by the fraudulent elections that left President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in power,” he writes. Morris concludes, “What is clear is that the West, as usual, is faring poorly among the Muslims of the Middle East, where real savagery—sadly—wins respect, and irresolution, a kick in the pants.”