Iran Is Paranoid and Israel Is Not (You’re Kidding, Right?)

“A country whose political culture is characterized by paranoia.”  What country would that be?  Israel, which has claimed victim status through seven decades of vicious land grab?  The United States, which has devastated Iraq pretending to look for imaginary weapons of mass destruction?

No, argues neoconservative Michael Eisenstadt, staff analyst at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy in a WINEP policy paper titled “The Missing Lever: Information Activities against Iran.”  Rather, according to him, unreasonable suspicion characterizes Iran, a nation that has for two hundred years not attacked another country, but is threatened daily by the far better armed Tel Aviv and Washington.  He is able to misrepresent Tehran’s defensive posture as “paranoid”  because he denies Washington’s widely reported subversion in Iran.

To make up for the illusionary past US inaction, Eisenstadt urges the Obama administration to adopt an “aggressive information policy . . . to ensure that the Iranian people can communicate with one another, keep abreast of developments inside their own country, and make their voices heard abroad.”  Decoded, his Cold War language means Iran’s leadership should intentionally be made paranoid so it will bend to US and Israeli wishes.  Casting typical pretension aside, the WINEP analyst does not claim that his proposed “strategic communications campaign” is good for Iranians.

The purpose, rather, is to keep “Tehran off balance,” Eisenstadt explains.  Iranian dissidents, in other words, are to be treated as US pawns, as are their counterparts in Cuba and other “enemy” states.  Eisenstadt’s colleague at WINEP, Patrick Clawson, similarly urged the Bush administration to use the Iranian terrorist group, MEK, as a “bargaining chip” to put pressure on Iran.

Eisenstadt laments, as have his neoconservative cohorts in other commentaries, that Washington makes inadequate use of what he calls “the informational instrument of national power . . .  despite progress on this front since the September 11 attacks.”  Ironically, as a well known Israel partisan, Eisenstadt lends support to the common belief in Tehran that (a) Zionists exert inordinate influence over US foreign policy and (b) Zionists accomplish their objectives by manipulating information (the media).  If the flow of information is a worthy cause, one may ask, shouldn’t Eisenstadt first protest the torment that nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has been subjected to in Israel?

Rostam Pourzal is a Washington, DC-based political analyst specializing in the politics of human rights.

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