Monday, November 25, 2013

Iran historical analogies

We seek to assess the difference between a smart column and a dumb column. As a control, we have chosen two columns that convey a position of skepticism about the deal between the U.S. and Iran.

One column, "In Iran, a bad actor gets a sweet deal," by David Frum, offers a historical analogy; excerpt:
Some in the Obama administration seem to have decided that Rouhani is an Iranian Mikhail Gorbachev, a leader with whom the West can do business. In this view, a "win" for Rouhani is important to the West, strengthening moderates against hardliners and opening the way to a broader detente. 
The trouble with this view, however, is that the evidence is strong that Rouhani is really the Iranian Yuri Andropov, the former Soviet secret police chief who preceded Gorbachev. Less doctrinaire and stupid than other Communist leaders, Andropov was no less hostile to the West. Rouhani led the long effort to dupe Western governments about Iran's nuclear program in the earlier 2000s.
There's every reason to fear that the "detente" he wants is one that allows Iran to obtain a respite from sanctions while continuing its development of weapons of mass destruction.
Analysis: One may of course disagree with the analogy of Rouhani to Andropov, but it provides a basis for consideration and debate. Its relevance to the current situation is clear, and there is a possibility a reader initially disagreeing with the author's position will reconsider in light of it.

Now, an excerpt from the other column, "Munich II," by James Jay Carafano, also dealing with historical analogy (indeed, more than one); note that "Munich" is a reference to the 1938 agreement:
The British think the deal with Iran makes sense. Then, again, it was a British government that believed Munich meant we could all get a good night’s sleep now. 
The Russians laud the deal. But it was a government in Moscow that believed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact solved all its problems.
Analysis: n/a.

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