A Western Education Does Not Mean a Pro-Western Outlook

The public commentator Reza Aslan recently announced on Twitter that “Iran currently has the highest number of US college alums serving in any foreign government cabinet in the world” and appended a sleek graphic illustration. In light of Aslan’s general position on U.S.-Iranian relations, his message is clear: the Iranian government is populated by congenial, well-educated “reonciliationists” who are eager to establish good relations with the U.S. However, writes Armin Rosen, given “the distressingly vast range of despotic and otherwise anti-Western figures [who] were educated in the United States or Europe,” Aslan has only succeeded in disproving his underlying assumption:

Exposure to the democratic world is no guarantee that an individual will develop any kind of sensitivity toward its values or outlook. It can have the exact opposite effect. . . . This is a troubling reality for believers in the idea that the arc of history bends inexorably toward a Western-democratic notion of justice and freedom. Some very smart people have been exposed to the realities of that system up close and have not only found it inadequate but violently rejected it, using their personal experience as the basis for a powerful and often highly resonant critique of Western and American values. They serve as evidence that backlash may be more probable than universal democratic triumph, and that that backlash can originate from the heart of democracy itself.

Read more at Business Insider

More about: Education, Iran, Islamism, Reza Aslan

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

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