Since the signing of the yet-to-be-implemented Geneva nuclear deal, we’ve been wondering what it’s really all about; the media was quick to congratulate but slower to explain. Two recently published articles in important media outlets seem to provide the missing context and insight.
A recent New York Times oped by a relative unknown academic in the UK suggests that Geneva “offers an opportunity for a much bigger breakthrough” than just an agreement to ease sanctions in return for Iranian concessions. Rather, it is a window to “rapprochement and, eventually, even strategic cooperation with Iran.”
The article’s gist:
America must now begin to think about a gradual realignment of its Middle East policy, one that aims to reintegrate Iran into the international fold and, over time, transform an enemy into an ally.
Quite a weightly policy recommendation for the paper of record. The NYT‘s decision to run the piece can probably be attributed more to the idea – which the outlet has been quietly pushing for some time – and less to the writer (who plays no more than an instrumental role here, perhaps at the request of the paper itself). Its publication also raises the question, of course, whether the idea of Iran as a reliable ally was invented in the NYT building and stops at its door.
That question seems to be answered by the Washington Post’s publication two days earlier of a similar oped – suspiciously also written by a relatively unknown academic, as if an unseen hand was behind all this – which praised President Obama’s “realism” for “bringing down the curtain” on what it described as America’s “30-plus-year military effort to pull the Islamic world into conformity with American interests and expectations.”
The article’s main point emphasizes
When Obama’s national security adviser tells the New York Times that the president refuses to “be consumed 24/7 by one region” and intends to reassess U.S. Middle East policy “in a very critical and kind of no-holds-barred way,” that’s realism seeping through the Washingtonese.
(The NYT, again…)
The media narrative described above – that the Geneva deal proves Iran’s worthiness as an ally – seems raw at best, misguided at worst. If nothing else, it ignores the fact that if Iran is indeed a desireable ally now, the reason is essentially its ability to offer assistance in calming Mideast flames that Tehran itself has worked so hard to fan for decades.