Time and Time Again, the U.S. Has Failed to Understand Iran

Since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power, American presidents and diplomats have consistently misunderstood the Islamic Republic, declaring its rulers moderate and liberal and defending the regime by praising Iranian culture. Amir Taheri writes:

As a [secular] nation-state, Iran has no problems with anybody. As a vehicle for the Khomeinist ideology, it has problems with everybody, starting with the Iranian people. The Khomeinist regime makes no secret of its intense hatred for Iranian culture, which it claims has roots in “the age of ignorance.” To admire this regime because of Iranian culture is like admiring Hitler for Goethe and Beethoven and praising Stalin for Pushkin and Tchaikovsky.

This regime has executed tens of thousands of Iranians, driven almost six million into exile, and deprived the nation of its basic freedoms. It has [probably] killed more Americans, often through surrogates, than al-Qaeda did on 9/11. Not a single day has passed without this regime holding some American hostages.

Iran as a nation is a solid friend of America. Iran as a vehicle for the Khomeinist revolution is an eternal enemy of “the Great Satan.” The only realistic strategy for the United States would be to help it stop being the Islamic Republic and become Iran again.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood