Next Stop Iran? Podcast Perspectives from Two Sets of Experts

Ever since President Bush put the Iranian regime on notice during his recent State of the Union
address, we’ve heard more discussion in the media about the possibility of US military action in Iran. Listening to the talk, you can’t help but feel as if it’s 2002 again, as if we’re in the early stages of another drift toward war. Even though the talk is just starting and the rhetoric is fairly tame (at least from the US side), it somehow feels like it’s a given.

This week, we want to point out two podcasted radio programs worth your time. The first (iTunesfeed), coming out of San Francisco, features a panel discussion on US-Iranian diplomacy. The panel of experts features Abbas Milani, professor of Iranian studies at Stanford University and co-director of the Iranian Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution, along with Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who asserted in a 2005 article in The American Conservative that the administration was already preparing plans to go into Iran.

The most dispiriting idea to come out of this conversation is Abbas Milani’s assertion that Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad, two deeply unpopular leaders at this moment, might be looking for a Gulf of Tonkin style event that would offer a pretext for war. A war gives Ahmadinejad the best chance of saving his political life. And it would give Bush the chance to fulfill his administration’s hawkish ambitions, and perhaps even bolster his own support at home. If both sides are just waiting for the right pretext, war could be upon us more quickly than we thought.

The second program, "Passage Through Persia" (iTunesfeed), coming out of New York City, complements and adds to the first. It features a discussion with Ali Ansari, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at St. Andrews University, and Craig Unger, a Vanity Fair correspondent who has recently written on the Bush administration’s policy toward Iran. Together, these two podcasts will give you a good sense of the issues at stake and where things might be heading in the next couple years.

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