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Figures in Washington Encourage US Confrontation of Iran

The following day, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a Washington think tank, responded to the op-ed by criticizing the New York Times for making itself a mouthpiece to what EMET referred to as pure Iranian propaganda.

The World Tribune republished EMET’s statement on this topic, which it used not only to criticize the op-ed’s authorship and its specific points but also to remind readers of the past crimes and continuing ideological makeup of the Iranian regime.

Accusing the Times of treating Iran like any rational, trustworthy world power, EMET says that in fact it is “a brutal, terroristic, and genocidal theocratic dictatorship,” and that this fact makes any communications by the official representatives of that regime highly suspect and unfit to be unquestioningly republished in US press.

Referring to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its official commitment to the destruction of Israel, its recent actions in Yemen, and its hostage-taking of American citizens, the EMET statement effectively serves as a reminder that Iran is a dedicated enemy of the United States and its allies. The statement can be said to tacitly encourage greater confrontation of that regime, in contrast to the unconditional engagement implied by the publication of Zarif’s op-ed.

Further contributing to the perception that Iran remains a staunch enemy of the West and an appropriate target of US defensive policy, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter compared the regime and its Asian allies to the Taliban in a speech to Georgetown University on Wednesday, according to Talk Radio News.

Though such comparisons could easily focus on Tehran’s Islamic fundamentalist ideology, in fact Carter was referring to the tendency of these US adversaries to constantly upgrade their capabilities and change their methods of confronting the US, prompting American policymakers and military leaders to adjust their policies of deterrence accordingly.

Carter’s remarks seem to presuppose the need for at least somewhat proactive policies against an Iranian threat that persists even as the country undergoes changes. This may be a small comfort to critics who believe that the Obama administration is cozying up to a sworn enemy for the same of a dubious nuclear agreement.

On the other and, such critics have been largely unmoved by the administration’s insistence that all options are still on the table and that it is not pursuing outright friendship with Iran or coordinating with it in mutual conflict against the Islamic State in Iraq. Some analysts have disputed that latter claim, noting that American air support has likely empowered Iran-backed Shiite militias and that such activities necessitate at least some level of coordination.

Still, there are at least some indications that there are limits to that coordination, even if it is unclear exactly what those limits are. For instance, Sky News reported on Wednesday that the US government had apparently taken umbrage with the announcement this week that Australia had agreed to share unspecified intelligence with Iran regarding the Islamic State.

In a possible sign that the US is interested in limiting Iranian influence among traditional US allies, the Obama administration pointed out that it was seeking more information about the Iranian-Australian agreement and that it would reserve judgment on the acceptability of that deal until the information was provided.


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