Friday, January 24, 2014

24-Jan-14: The funny side of the Iranian regime's nuclear threat

Rouhani and colleagues celebrate June 2013 election victory of
their "Voice of Moderation" [Image Source]
This is the second time today we're leaning on something written by Jonathan Tobin in Commentary Magazine. Bear with us - we think you will agree that what he says deserves exposure and analysis.

He asks a pretty timely question (the words are ours): Why are so many smart, educated people ready to buy into Iran’s current PR campaign?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech [on Wednesday at the Davos Forum in Switzerland] sounded all the familiar Western-friendly themes that he has used throughout his charm offensive... Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons and seeks only peaceful reconciliation with the West... Most of the foreign-policy wonks and government officials in attendance... were only too happy to buy into his talk of “prudent moderation” and “constructive engagement”... Israel was alone in pouring cold water on the festivities, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the bad manners to note that Rouhani’s peaceful rhetoric was, in reality, belied by his country’s ongoing nuclear project, its ballistic missile program, its support for international terrorism, and its daily calls for Israel’s destruction. 
He points out that Americans seem to be falling for the "transparent deceptions" of the Iranian regime and wonders aloud how, given all we know about their sickening involvement in some truly appalling things, this can possibly be.
The answer doesn’t come from Davos but rather what preceded the international gathering last week in a segment on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart’s political comedy is a reliable barometer of what liberals are thinking... On Iran, Stewart has gone all out for the administration’s embrace of Rouhani
He illustrates his argument with a segment from a recent Stewart monologue entitled “Let’s Break a Deal”. All a person needs to know about why so many in the West refuse to give serious thought to the Iranian nuclear threat is there, says Tobin. Despite interweaving the analysis with some Justin Bieber references, he's pretty much right.

Click here to view the Jon Stewart "Let's Break a Deal" skit
In Tobin's words
Even if you strip away his vile slanders, the basic message of Stewart’s rant, like that of other defenders of the rush to rapprochement with Iran, is something much more basic: they genuinely don’t care about Iran’s lies or about the deadly nature of the Iranian nuclear threat. They just want the issue to go away and if that requires smearing the Israelis or fellow Americans who have given serious consideration to the terms of the deal, then that is exactly what they will do. Though Stewart pretended that it was the sanctions advocates who didn’t understand the situation, his unfunny tirade demonstrated his own ignorance and his lack of interest in the facts about what the Iranians have gained from the interim deal in terms of unraveling sanctions or how little they are giving up... People like Stewart and others who are buying Rouhani’s act aren’t doing so because they love Iran or even because they despise Israel and enjoy its discomfort at the prospect of a deadly enemy being embraced and empowered by the West, though some obviously do like that aspect. What they really like about Iran’s decision to create a new fa├žade of cordiality to the West... is that it allows them to pretend that there is nothing to worry about. Rouhani allows them to live in denial as Ahmadinejad did not. As long as an open villain like Ahmadinejad was the front man for the regime, it was hard to ignore the truth about Iran’s bid for regional hegemony or its desire to annihilate Israel. But with Rouhani they can, like the Obama administration itself, treat the Middle East as a former problem from which they may now withdraw in comfort.
Iran's strategy was on display yesterday in Davos in all its glory. Here's how one of the news channels reported it:
Rouhani took the annual Davos forum by storm on Thursday, touting investment opportunities on the horizon as his country works to get sanctions lifted and hailing a new day in Tehran's relations with the West. He even deemed it "not impossible" that the U.S. Embassy could be reopened. It was Part II of the new president's global charm offensive that was launched at the U.N. General Assembly in September and produced the historic preliminary accord two months later curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions... Rouhani said he saw Iran's status in the future global economy as a country "pursuing policies of moderation, prudence and hope," and predicted that Iran could be among the world's top 10 economic powers in the next three decades. He expressed the hope of improving relations and cooperation with "all countries that Iran has recognized," a pointed exclusion of Israel. [LA Times, January 23, 2014]
Then there's the matter of the accelerating Iranian orgy of oppression-by-hanging [condemned in this UN report 6 days ago] from which, for some odd entertainment industry reason, The Daily Show's creators chose to avert their gaze.

Obviously, it's no laughing matter, but we think even comedy/satire shows - when they choose to editorialize to their audience, which they very clearly are doing in this - have an obligation to put their political agenda into a context that makes sense and respects the facts. To put it mildly, "Let's Break a Deal" is not Stewart and Co.'s wittiest or smartest hour.

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