Over a Barrel
May 29, 2009

As the Obama administration prepares to engage Iran diplomatically, sentiment in Congress is rising in support of applying greater pressure on Tehran. The current centerpiece of this strategy is legislation recently introduced by a bipartisan set of congressional leaders to sanction companies that sell gasoline to Iran or help upgrade Iran’s gasoline refining capacity. Despite the appeal of leveraging Iran’s apparent dependence on imports of refined petroleum, the legislation is unlikely to have much impact.

The Year of the Elephant
May 20, 2009

“YES, SOMETIMES I GO into the room with my advisers and I start shouting. And then they say, ‘And then what?’” The question hangs in the perfectly cooled air in Sa’ad Hariri’s marble-floored sitting room, where Beirut appears as a sunlit abstraction visible at a distance through thick windows. Hariri’s father, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, martyr of the Cedar Revolution, arches his black eyebrows from a giant poster near the sofa, looking out at his son with a sidelong, mischievous glance. “It hasn’t been a joyful trip,” Sa’ad Hariri is saying.

Iran Vs. Pakistan, Shi'a Vs. Sunni
May 19, 2009

Barack Obama didn't sound exactly sanguine as he spoke with Bibi Netanyahu about the atomic threat that Iran poses to neighbors near and nearer. But he seems to grasp that Tehran may not think the U.S.

And A Few Words From Roger Cohen's Friend...
April 24, 2009

 From MEMRI: According to reports in the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toned down his speech at the Durban Review Conference, held April 22-24, 2009 in Geneva, due to public criticism. However, when he returned to Iran he stepped up his anti-West and anti-Israel statements.

Obama's Trap In Tehran
April 18, 2009

In Iran, the Obama administration is in a trap at least partially of its own creation. This is the essence of a very smart full-page piece by Daniel Dombey in Friday's Financial Times. As the president and Dennis Ross, his special (not yet) envoy to the ayatollahs, plus Mrs. Clinton, try to set the paradigms of the American re-encounter with Tehran, Iran's "nuclear programme is gathering pace all the while." Dombey says we simply don't know just how far Dr. A'jad's scientists and technicians have progressed with their nuclear adventure.

Conditions For Iran, Cont'd
April 16, 2009

It seems that, contra what the Obama team is supposedly discussing, the French are insisting that Iran take the pot off the kettle if nuclear talks are to proceed: A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said that France stood by the proposition made to Tehran in 2007 by the six-nation Iran contact group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States. Under this initiative, Tehran would halt all nuclear activity beyond its civilian site in Bushehr, including all uranium enrichment, while the contact group would in exchange promise not to seek new UN economic sanctions. Durin

His Heart's Desire
December 09, 2008

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, that "the best route to avoiding the spread of nuclear weapons is building international trust." What an epiphany!

What Will The Candidates Say?
March 03, 2008

The Bush administration has made numerous erroneous judgements -- actually, devastating judgements -- in the matter of international security.  The Democrats have made much of some of these, about Iraq, in particular.  Curiously, however, but actually predictably, they have largely ignored the National Intelligence Estimate of December 3, 2007 which absolved Iran of attempting to produce nuclear weapons.  In fact, the Democrats more or less endorsed the N.I.E.

The Usual Suspect
October 08, 2007

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pp., $26) In October 2002, Osama bin Laden issued a statement in which he analyzed America's inexhaustible number of sins and prescribed ways of repenting for many of them. The statement was, by the standards of bin Laden's cave encyclicals, unusually coherent.

Meanwhile, In Iran
May 10, 2007

Good news?: The mayor of Tehran has been re-elected in a vote seen as a victory for moderate conservatives in Iran and a sign of waning support for the country's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf is considered a likely rival to Mr Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election. "This is an important event.