Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

An Election Foretold

As expected, Iran's regime has engineered the presidential race

As expected, Iran's regime has engineered the presidential race.

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Sanctions aren't only going to deny Iranians health, education, and hope for the future. They'll feed new grievances against the U.S.

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I don’t know whether it’s time just yet for someone, anyone to bomb Iran. But it’s been quite a few years since the wise folk in the strategy profession have been saying “sanctions need time.” This sounds very reassuring unless, of course, Tehran’s nuclear option beats out Tehran’s financial collapse. Just how much economic pain will the world’s self-appointed moral monitors permit even a repellent and perilous Islamic power to endure until all the strings of conscience are played and the will to act is foreclosed.

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Over-Rated Thinkers

Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Yesterday we named the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: DC’s most over-rated thinkers. NEWT GINGRICH Maybe it’s the Ph.D., his extensive bibliography, or his constant appearances on Fox News, but Newt Gingrich has held on to his reputation as the “ideas man” of the Republican Party for too long. Last May, when Gingrich was contemplating a run in 2012, Eric Cantor swooned over his intellect and The Washington Post published a story headlined: “Newt Gingrich has Ideas.

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As the world grants an audience to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, we would be better served to look upon Samiye Tohidlou. Samiye is a child of the Iranian revolution, born in 1979, when the current regime came to power. She comes from a family of educators; her father was a teacher who declared, after the arrest of his daughter, that he had been a staunch supporter of the revolution.

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Desperate Dictatorship

Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival By Maziar Bahari with Aimee Molloy (Random House, 356 pp., $27) Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran - A Journey Behind the Headlines By Scott Peterson (Simon & Schuster, 732 pp., $32) After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successor By Saïd Amir Arjomand (Oxford University Press, 268 pp., $24.95) Political Islam, Iran, And the Enlightenment: Philosophies of Hope and Despair By Ali Mirsepassi (Cambridge University Press, 230 pp., $85)  I. For the regime in Iran, opacity in politics, dissimulation in discourse, and the obfuscation

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Face-Off

A long simmering rift between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, has finally boiled over. For the last two weeks, the two leaders have been locked in a public battle over Ahmadinejad’s decision to fire his minister of intelligence, a close ally of Khamenei. And, in spite of indications in the last few days that a compromise has been reached—not to mention Khamenei’s repeated pleas that factional feuds be kept out of the media lest the dispute embolden foes and dishearten friends—acrimonious attacks by both sides have continued apace.

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I. “The standard left-wing person never seems more comfortable than when attacking Israel.” This is the novelist Martin Amis talking to Ha’aretz when he was in Israel this past fall.“Everyone else is protected,” Amis continued, “by having dark skin or colonial history or something. But you can attack Israel.” Freely! Of course, it’s not only the standard left-wing person who is so empowered, but also those who belong to mainstream Protestant churches associated with the National Council of Churches on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.

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As the dictators fall, the clichés fall, too. Cairo and Tunis and Tripoli are littered with the shards of platitudes about what is possible and what is impossible in Arab societies, in closed societies. Civilizational analysis lies in ruins. Idealism, always cheaply mocked, turns out to be a powerful form of historical causation, as disruptive of the established order as any economic or technological change, and even more beneficent.

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Libya’s Legacy

Not since Saddam Hussein’s regime was demolished in 2003 has an Arab head of state run a more ruthlessly repressive terror state than Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak were small-government libertarians by comparison.

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