Iran: You Want to Change What?

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave us a hint of what Washington’s policy towards Iran might look like now that Trump has pulled the US out of the nuclear deal. A few observations from fellow Signalista Leon Levy:


The list of demands was formidable: Stop funding Houthi rebels in Yemen. Leave Syria. Cease threatening Israel. Halt all enrichment of uranium. The only thing missing was a demand for Tehran to acknowledge it heard “Yanny” instead of “Laurel.”

But there are a few takeaways worth mulling. First, if the administration wants to present a strong challenge to Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, it will have to find a way to do so that doesn’t clash with Trump’s pledges to bring US troops and dollars home from a region that most of his core constituents want no part of.

Second, Pompeo’s speech skirted a, maybe the, critical question: Does Washington want to force the current Iranian regime to change course, or does it want the country to change regime? Different objectives require different strategies.

Third, there was little sympathy for America’s European friends. After acknowledging that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal “will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends,” Pompeo then, in so many words, warned that the US has every intention of imposing those financial and economic difficulties, friendships be damned. As European Council President Donald Tusk bitterly tweeted last week: “with friends like that who needs enemies?” Indeed.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.