Iran’s Coronavirus Disinformation Provides an Opportunity for the U.S.

The Islamic Republic has been one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As its rulers try to cover for their own mishandling of the outbreak, David T. Glenn and Ari Cicurel argue that America should try to bring Iranians the truth:

Iran’s leaders are . . . pushing conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Ayatollah Khamenei, among others, has argued it is an American-made biological weapon. Likewise, Khamenei refuses U.S. aid, speculating that American “medicine is a way to spread the virus.” Both arguments are absurd, yet Iran continues to feed these lies to its people and spread them internationally, particularly online.

The United States must strive to reveal the truth about the Islamic Republic’s misdeeds by coordinating comprehensive technological and media responses with international partners. First, providing everyday Iranians with the tools to get truthful information weakens the regime. Much as the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty offered alternative programming in Soviet states during the cold war, supplying greater Internet access in Iran would decrease the effectiveness of false narratives.

Likewise, tailored cyber operations can advance policy objectives to disable or minimize the regime’s ability to spread false information. Introducing measured technological constraints on [Iran’s state-sponsored broadcasting network] can decrease its ability to disseminate the inaccurate narrative about the virus.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Ali Khamenei, Cold War, Coronavirus, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict