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Iran: The Talk of the Town
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October 5, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's September 2007 visit to New York and the United Nations General Assembly pushed celebrity gossip and baseball battles off the front pages. In a speech at Columbia University, and in other public venues, Ahmadinejad lived up to his controversial reputation with statements about homosexuality, the Holocaust and Iran's nuclear capabilities.

But the political buzz about Iran is not just about its President, who, according to some Iran experts, is not the most powerful politician in the country. The talk got very tough — and the analysis very pointed. On September 26, the Senate approved a non-binding resolution calling for the administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization" and to impose economic sanctions. According to THE NEW YORK TIMES, "Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, warned Tuesday that an early draft of the proposal 'could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war.'"

So important is Iran to the political calculus in the U.S. that the Council on Foreign Relations has created a new political tracker. Simply go to their site and you can read what major administration and Congressional players — not to mention all the presidential hopefuls — have to say about Iran.

Learn more about Iran and world diplomacy and explore more of the coverage and commentary below.

Published on October 5, 2007

References and Reading:
Commentary and Coverage

"Bolton Wants Iran Regime Change," U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, September 12, 2007
"'My preference is regime change,' says Bolton, who is now affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. 'The regime is more fragile and has less support than people think.'"

"The Case for Bombing Iran," Norman Podhoretz, COMMENTARY, June, 2007
"As the currently main center of the Islamofascist ideology against which we have been fighting since 9/11, and as (according to the State Department's latest annual report on the subject) the main sponsor of the terrorism that is Islamofascism's weapon of choice, Iran too is a front in World War IV."

"Iran: The Next War," James Bamford, ROLLING STONE, July 24, 2006
"Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran."

"Is the U.S. planning to strike Iran?" MSNBC Commentary, Jack Jacobs, October 2, 2007
"We should never be averse to using the military instrument of power to achieve logical objectives, and we have done it successfully many times. And there are good military reasons to strike the facilities that produce Iranian weapons used against our forces. But if we've learned anything in the tragic adventure in Iraq, it's this: we should think clearly about what happens after the strike — we'd better do a good job of it."

"Same Time Next Year," THE ECONOMIST, September 24, 2007
"The annual 'general debate' of the UN's General Assembly is no debate at all.... But this time, even more than last year, when he also delivered a speech, the leader that all eyes are on is Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

"Senate Urges Bush to Declare Iran Guard a Terrorist Group," THE NEW YORK TIMES, David M. Herszenhorn, September 27, 2007
"Since last month, the White House has been weighing whether to declare the Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group or to take a narrower step focusing on only the Guard's elite Quds Force. Either approach would signal a more confrontational posture by declaring a part of the Iranian military a terrorist operation."

THE NEW YORKER's Seymour Hersh has been reporting on U.S./Iran relations in a series of articles.

"Shifting Targets" The Administration's plan for Iran,"
Seymour M. Hersh. THE NEW YORKER, October 8, 2007
"In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran....The President's position, and its corollary—that, if many of America's problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the Administration."

"The Redirection,"
Seymour M. Hersh. THE NEW YORKER, March 5, 2007
"In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The 'redirection,' as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims."

"U.S. vs. Iran: Cold War, Too," Robin Wright, THE WASHINGTON POST, July 29, 2007
"Unlike the Cold War, when there was a common frame of reference, when we and the Soviets and the residents of the Third World saw the lines drawn in the same way, we don't see the divide today in the same way as many in the Middle East," said Paul Pillar, a former senior Middle East analyst at the National Intelligence Council who is now at Georgetown University."

"War with Iran?," Ken Silverstein, HARPERS, February 13, 2007
In response to a GUARDIAN article stating that "'U.S. preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage," Silverstein interviewed a number of area experts on the possibilities and potential outcomes, or war with Iran.

"Iran's Proxy War," Joseph Lieberman, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, July 6, 2007
"The threat posed by Iran to our soldiers' lives, our security as a nation and our allies in the Middle East is a truth that cannot be wished or waved away. It must be confronted head-on. The regime in Iran is betting that our political disunity in Washington will constrain us in responding to its attacks. For the sake of our nation's security, we must unite and prove them wrong."


BBC News: Inside Iran
The BBC's extensive coverage includes background information, a guide to the political system, video and audio reports from within the country and from exiles and an archive of BBC documentaries on the nation and Persian culture.

The Council on Foreign Relations
Explore CFR's continuing coverage Iran though studies, opinion pieces and document collections.

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