Josh Heit's blog


Sunday, October 19, 2003

Saturday recap plus:

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start....

I didn't attend the entire Democracy in Iran conference, but I did go to the first panel, on Iran and the International Community. The three panelists were Jillian Burns from the State Department, Patrick Clawson from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Tamara Cofman Wittes of the US Institute for Peace.

Burns essentially pushed the Republican line on Iran and the Middle East in general, that Iran's government is a danger because it supports terrorism and is pursuing WMD, and explained the IAEA's October 31st deadline in which Iran is to come clean about its nuclear ambitions, as per enforcement of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. She also expressed ways in which the U.S. is trying to reach the Iranian people about U.S-Iran policy, including radio stations and the internet.

Clawson spoke about why Iran was important to the U.S. He debunked the myth that Iran is one of the more democratic Middle Eastern countries, showing how real power is centralized away from electoral institutions. His example was from the late-90s when Iran's president protested attempts by the intelligence community to intimidate reformers. The president was given more control over intelligence, only to see a parallel institution under the revolutionary forces be given all the real power. He argued that a deal could not be made with Iran that would not sell out our democracy promotion.

Wittes spoke about how the removal of Saddam Hussein turned on Iranian leaders; they thought it would be an advantage, but instead it has focused more attention on their oppression of their people. She said that Iran would like to see a weak, fractured democratic Iraq. She also emphasized the role of the Middle East Partnership Institute in fostering democracy and hoped that it would be given a larger role, especially in grassroots outreach.

All three panelists saw success in Iraq as integral to Iran, because democracy promotion in the Middle East is now tied to U.S. policy, and failure in Iraq would doom it. During the Q&A session, commentators noted that Iranian democracy also hinged on allowing freedoms for ethnic and religious minorities, which the panelists agreed with. They also condemned the notion of considering surgical strikes until the IAEA process was complete, noting that it would undermine the process.

Moving along to...

Homecoming festivities! The parade at noon was quite fun, I actually got roped into marching in it with the College Republicans. Photos not available at the moment, I'll link to some if they become so, but the float was a golf cart turned into a giant eagle. This was followed by the homecoming soccer game, won by AU 3-2.

And for the evening, Cabaret! Absolutely excellent (what, like I was going to bash it? I'm a DPA shill, people! Not that it wasn't excellent even if I wasn't, but still. I realized I've wrecked all credibility with this statement, but I believe in full disclosure). An exciting, high-energy show with powerful drama. The authentic cabaret music pumped in between scenes was a nice touch. If you want to see it, from best I can tell from the ticket site, the weekend's shows are sold out, leaving Wednesday and Thursday night. Not much time if you want to see it!

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this. Gregg Easterbrook, author of ESPN's Tuesday Morning Quarterback and the Easterblogg has been fired from ESPN. It apparently stemmed from the remarks posted here, and see an example of the outrage, from Meryl Yourish here. However, it appears that now the backlash is on ESPN, see InstaPundit's running post here. I have nothing of substance to add, both the initial outrage at Easterbrook and the outrage at ESPN seem justified. However, Easterbrook apologized and it should be left at that. ESPN's treatment, on the other hand, of removing all his columns and not even noting the firing is downright creepy and appalling.


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Emails and such to josh dot heit at gmail dot com.


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