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City of Brass

Earlier I mentioned how neoconservatives are rallying to push the narrative that Ahmadinejad may have legitimately won the Iranian election, with the assumption that Ahmadinejad is preferable as a foil for their agenda and Israeli interests. Now, it seems that they are being joined by the New America Foundation, a relatively new and nonpartisan US-based think tank. Their writers tend to range all over the political spectrum, but as far as their Iran positions go there’s a disturbing group-naievete at work.

For example, Flint and Hillary Leverett urge everyone to “get over it” as regards to Ahmadinejad’s win. They cite polling data from another New America project by Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty (“Terror Free Tomorrow”) to argue that Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory was foretold, even though the actual data was so far in advance of the election and had such high undecideds that it actually throws more doubt, not less, on the outcome (see Open Left for a detailed analysis of that poll, and Nate Silver for more rebuttal of the notion that polling data predicted an Ahmadinejad win).

More disturbing is a new angle of attack against Moussavi, with an attempt to label him as no different from Ahmadinejad. Afshin Molavi, another fellow at New America, was quoted by CNN as saying “Moussavi was never a real reformer” and there’s a very similar argument in the Investor’s Business Daily which tries to blame Moussavi for the Iranian nuclear program. As John at Talk Islam points out, notice how the sole criterion for determining whether someone is a moderate or an extremist is their position on nuclear power. Contrast this with the refreshing piece in The American Conservative by Michael Desch, which dares point out that an Iranian nuclear capability wouldn’t exactly bethe end of the world.

Overall, it’s clear that Iran As The Enemy is a narrative that many in the West are loath to abandon. Ahmadinejad has allies, indeed.

Related: coverage at Talk Islam about the Terror- (and Fact-) Free Tomorrow poll, the attempted smear of Moussavi as just another mullah, and a discussion of New America’s agenda.

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