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PostSubject: Iran and the United States -- What Really Matters to Middle Eastern Publics?   Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:14 am

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference in Washington on Monday, Vice President Biden claimed that Iran is on the defensive in its own neighborhood: "When we came to office...Iran was on the ascendancy in the region. It is no longer on the ascendancy." In fact, the Obama administration has "left Iran more isolated than ever." And that matters, Biden said, because "God forbid, if we have to act, it's important that the rest of the world is with us."

Biden's words reflect an all-too-familiar trope about Iran -- that the non-Arab and Shi'a Islamic Republic can be easily isolated in its regional environment, thereby facilitating its ultimate demise. American elites have been making this argument virtually since the Islamic Republic's founding out of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Over the last decade, though, on-the-ground reality in the Middle East has not been kind to those espousing it. Indeed, by the end of George W. Bush's presidency, Western commentators were compelled to concede, by polls and other evidence, that Iran's opposition to America's hegemonic assertions, its support for groups resisting Israeli occupation of Arab populations, and its pursuit of nuclear fuel cycle capabilities in defiance of America and Israel had won it widespread approbation among Arab publics.

More recently, however, commentators have been asserting, with escalating intensity, that Tehran's heyday is over. According to them, a combination of international criticism of Iran's 2009 presidential election, President Obama's purportedly more "sensitive" approach to the Middle East, and the outbreak of the Arab Awakening has eviscerated popular support for the Islamic Republic across the region.

This narrative's latest iteration comes in Jim Zogby's new eBook, Looking at Iran: How 20 Arab and Muslim Nations View Iran and Its Policies. Zogby has long been a stalwart advocate for Arab-American rights and a more balanced U.S. approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict -- issues on which we are proud to have supported him.

more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/flynt-and-hillary-mann-leverett/iran-and-the-united-state_b_2821860.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

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