News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 24th, 2010:

  • The Atlantic: Marc Lynch responds to Jeffrey Goldberg’s cover story on the likelihood of an Israeli air strike on Iran. Lynch disagrees with Goldberg’s assertion that a failure for the Obama administration to act militarily will result in an Israeli strike on Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities. “Instead, I see an attempt on the part of Goldberg’s Israeli sources to prepare a policy climate in which such an attack seems increasingly plausible and other options are foreclosed …” writes Lynch. He concludes that both Israelis and people in the United States are aware of the disastrous consequences of a military strike and are not nearly as fixated on the “never ending series” of deadlines as Israeli and U.S. hawks would like to suggest.
  • The Wall Street Journal: Gerald F. Seib suggests that as the costs imposed by sanctions on Iran go up, Tehran is looking for a face-saving “exit ramp” to give up its alleged nuclear weapons program. Seib disagrees with hawks, such as John Bolton, that Russia’s assistance in fueling the Bushehr nuclear power plant pushes Iran closer to having a nuclear weapons program. “By providing the fuel, and taking away spent fuel, the Russians have undercut Iran’s argument that it has to do its own enrichment,” said Seib. He continues, “Beyond calling Iran’s bluff, there’s a genuine need to find out whether Iran’s leaders—at least some of them—might actually be interested in a way out.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: Foundation for Defense of DemocraciesMichael Ledeen argues that internal conflict and sabotage are becoming more widespread within Iran and, “[e]ven the government’s campaign of repression seems increasingly sloppy.”  Ledeen has been one of the more vocal neoconservative supporters of the Green Movement, even when Iranian pro-democracy reformists have said that explicit U.S. support of the movement could damage its legitimacy within Iran.
  • Los Angeles Times: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim report on how international sanctions designed to punish Iran for its nuclear program are benefiting Iran’s most hard-line elite and the Revolutionary Guard. The sanctions are succeeding in increasing the cost on items of importance to ordinary citizens but, “key businesses and government operations controlled by the Revolutionary Guard have found ways to skirt the sanctions, which ban trade with state-run firms connected to the nuclear program, by enlisting private-sector firms as fronts.”  Well-connected firms are reported to be benefiting from a “sanctions-breaking” industry.