Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Was it necessary for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to inject his own opinions on the state of the incipient talks with Iran? Today in Egypt Gates promised the Egyptians that the U.S. would keep its "friends" informed as to negotiations with Iran.

By the way, why should the U.S. consider the dictatorial government of Egypt to be friendly as opposed to considering Iran an "enemy"? The Egyptian government routinely cracks down on dissenters, on people who criticize the government, on newspapers that oppose Mubarak. Furthermore, Egypt denies rights to women. And in Gates' view, Egypt is a "friend"?

We know why Egypt and other Arab countries in the Middle East oppose a detente between the U.S. and Iran. Iran is Persian in ethnic origin, but Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are all Arabs. Furthermore, the Arab countries by and large are Sunnis, Iran however is Shiite. So for both ethnic and religious reasons, Egypt and the others consider Iran a "threat."

But the U.S. and its government has no embedded biases. It happens that Iranians are better educated than most Arabs and are generally more sophisticated in the arts. The U.S. should not allow its foreign policy towards Iran be shaped by Iran's ancient antagonists, the Sunni Arab nations. And Robert Gates should keep his own counsel regarding Iran. He is not the president or the U.S. secretary of state.

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