Iran: Sabers and Sobriety

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Much has been written already about General David Petraeus’ and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s two days of marathon testimony on Capitol Hill this week, including plenty about the degree to which they also testified about Iran’s influence both in Iraq and in the greater Middle East. Petraeus was quick to call Iran’s influence in Iraq “malevolent”, but less quick to reconcile that influence with the fact that Iran is on friendly terms with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Just hours after the two men wrapped up their show, President Bush kicked up the rhetoric. According to the Times> of London, “President Bush warned Iran [] that if it did not stop arming and training Shia militia in Iraq then ‘America will act to protect our interests and our troops.'”

Interestingly, while Petraeus and Crocker sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, the National Iranian American Council hosted a conference, drawing on the expertise of journalists, scholars, former chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to examine America’s best options if it seeks to keep Iran’s nuclear weapons program dormant. Iran, which recently claimed to be installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, could restart its weapons program, and preventing that, the guests noted, will likely require direct U.S. diplomatic engagement with the Islamic Republic.

That process would no doubt have an impact on Iran’s influence in Iraq, and it might well prove to be a positive one. “Iran recently proved helpful in brokering a ceasefire between Prime Minister al-Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr’s JAM militias in Basra, Feinstein noted. “Clearly, a more positive relationship with Iran might be helpful in stabilizing Iraq.” That ceasefire is by no means destined to hold, and will by no means solve the fundamental political rifts that keep Iraq ablaze. But it has knocked violence down noticeably, which is something all sides no doubt welcome.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate