The CIA’s Poorly Timed Demonstration of Weakness toward Iran

Oct. 13 2021

The Central Intelligence Agency recently announced that it is closing its Iran Mission Center, which means that it will be paying less attention to the Islamic Republic. To Elliott Abrams, the decision sends an unambiguous message that the Biden administration desires a “softer approach” toward the ayatollahs:

This is exactly the wrong moment to send such a message. Iran is violating not only the Obama Iran deal, [formally known as] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), every day, but also the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and continues to refuse the International Atomic Energy Agency access that is required of every NPT signatory. As is becoming clearer by the day, Iran is not intending to return to the JCPOA, and the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is taking a far harder line.

At this exact moment, it seems dangerously unwise to make bureaucratic moves that signal a softer line on the Iranian threat and less attention to it at the top. . . . The deeper problem, of course, is that this message may give an accurate sense of the Biden administration’s policy. Iran’s conduct grows worse and worse, but there is no sign that the Biden administration is yet contemplating the tougher steps it must take as Iran proceeds apace toward possessing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. Dreams of a return to the JCPOA seem to die hard. And the great danger the administration seems most acutely determined to avoid is any move that might invite comparison to its predecessor and the “maximum-pressure” campaign of 2019–21.

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Read more at National Review

More about: CIA, Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter