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The Race for Iran


We want to let readers know that we will be featured in a segment on the acclaimed PBS/Bloomberg interview program, Charlie Rose, airing initially in the United States on PBS on Monday, March 29.  Flynt first appeared on Charlie Rose on June 15, 2009, as part of a panel on the Iranian presidential election and its aftermath that also included Nicholas Burns, Hooman Majd, and Abbas Milani.  Along with an interview in Der Spiegel (in German and English and our Op Ed, “Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It”, Flynt’s appearance on Charlie Rose was an important and high-profile opportunity for us to begin advancing the arguments that Ahmadinejad has a considerable popular base, that his re-election was eminently plausible, and that what would come to be known as the Green Movement was not likely to be a catalyst for fundamental political upheaval in the Islamic Republic.  (Flynt’s performance on the Charlie Rose panel apparently made an impression on Abbas Milani.  Seven months later, when Milani wrote an article in The New Republic excoriating our January 5, 2010 Op Ed in The New York Times Op-Ed as “the most infuriating Op Ed of the new year”, he opened his article by referencing his appearance on Charlie Rose with Flynt.)    

We believe that our assessments have held up well with the passage of time.  We taped a long (roughly 60 minutes) interview with Charlie Rose a couple of weeks ago, on Iran and other Middle East issues, and are looking forward to seeing the edited segment.  Once the program has aired, we will post it on ww.TheRaceForIran.com.   

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett



  1. Fiorangela Leone says:

    One seldom hears discussions of Israel’s economic motives in merely threatening Iran, and, especially, sanctioning Iran and (through Stuart Levey’s office) frightening other nations from engaging in trade with Iran.

    Today Israel is doing pretty well, economically. It is riding a wave of technological and pharmaceutical trade. Earlier in Israel’s life, Iran was a major source of revenue, first, by means of an oil trans-shipment arrangement whereby Iran shipped oil to Eilat in tankers; at Eilat, it entered a pipeline that Rothschild financed in the 1950s. Some of the fuel was used for Israeli domestic consumption, while the major portion was shipped across the Mediterranean. This was highly lucrative and kept Israel afloat for about 15 years — ’til Khomeini turned off the spigot. The keen desire to reestablish this oil trade was one of Doug Feith’s motives in ginning up Iraq war: Feith, his partner Marc Zell, and Ahmed Chalabi cooked up a deal whereby Chalabi would displace Saddam, reestablish favorable relations between Iraq and Israel, and connect a pipeline from Kirkuk to Eilat (details may be fuzzy — that’s the gist).

    During the rule of Pahlavi, Israel had extremely close ties — commercial, political, and security — with the Pahlavi regime, and profited mightily. Sale of Israeli military hardware formed that major revenue stream from Iran to Israel. In fact, that stream still flowed through the duration of the Iraq war on Iran. Only in about 1990 did that revenue start to dry up, a bad time for Israel, as it was experiencing burgeoning growth as Russian Jews migrated to Israel by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. As it developed, those Russian Jews brought with them the intellectual capital upon which Israel’s tech boom is based.

    When Ephraim Sneh said, at the 2008 AIPAC conference, that Iran’s leader’s should be made to worry about how Iran’s 70 million citizens would be fed, he may have been reciting the worry that keeps him up at night: tiny Israel must constantly plan for the next revenue source in its resource-poor state.

    Sanctions are not the ‘least bad’ alternative to military attack on Iran; sanctions are the goal; the drumbeat of military attack is the (despicable) tactic to make sanctions look palatable. Economically strangling Iran will have the effect of driving business to those partners with whom Israel has better relations–Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example. Several years ago Solomon Wald wrote for JPPPI the plan for Israel’s increasing strategic engagement with China, which Israel forecast would be the world’s next economic and military superpower, as US power wanes. To decouple China from Iran would mark a major coup for Israel.

  2. kooshy says:

    Israel alone is in no way a military threat to Iran, it never was. Iran has no intention to attack any country in the region unless it is subject to an outside attack, all Iranian leaders and governments since the revolution have repeatedly explained Iran’s regional policy.

    The irony is, that since the Iranian revolution of 79 outside western hegemonic powers to prolong and justify their presence in the region, have implemented a policy of scaring the people of Middle East by a presumed Iranian intention, and at the same time scaring people of Iran by their presence as protectors of the region.

    For all intentions, Iran is actually trying to build security and trade alliances to expand its markets for its industrial and agricultural products in its immediate neighborhood.

    Since admittedly Israel is a client state of US (Forward Installation), the question is why Iran should be scared of an Israeli attack; Israel is incapable of attacking Iran without a green light or more precisely ordered to attack Iran by its creators. Israel without backing of US is even incapable of finding fuel for its military fighters nerveless planning to attack a country 10 times its size and thousand miles away.

    If US and its European client states are capable of fighting the entire Muslim population of the world (New Crusade) then it should plan/order an attack by Israel on Iran
    At the end of the day, if militarily, financially, and physically US policy planers are incapable of stomaching a new wider war in the region, then they should stop their tiring simulations and start negotiating, Iranians are not getting scared nor any one is writing home to hide the Americans are coming. Iran in its history has seen and repealed worst then Ken Pollack or Denis Ross or Hillary the obliterator.

  3. James Canning says:


    I heartily agree the US can achieve better relations with Iran, and of course should do so. However, I do not think Iran is actually a “threat” to Israel, and a fair assessment of Iranian intentions would put at zero the chances Iran would launch a surprise attack on Israel. (In absence of any prior attack on Iran.)

    If Hillary Clinton comprehends that better relations with Iran can be achieved, that is a step forward. The head of the IAEA opposes more sanctions against Iran, and Hillary needs to understand the basis of this thinking.

  4. Dan Cooper says:

    Sakineh Bagoom

    Re: Iran’s Ahmadinejad on Holocaust

    Shabnam, posted this link,


    Ahmadinejad has been systematically misquoted and demonized.

    Mr. Ahmadinejad did not say what the US Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy reported that he said:

    “They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets.”

    He actually said,

    “In the name of the Holocaust they have created a myth and regard it to be worthier than God, religion and the prophets.”

    This language targets the myth of the Holocaust, not the Holocaust itself –

    i.e., “myth” as “mystique”, or what has been done with the Holocaust.

  5. Dan Cooper says:

    Sakineh Bagoom

    Re: The fake quote “Israel must be wiped off the map”

    I agree with your suggestion that any answer should be prefaced with “Ahmadinejad never said it”.

    The fake quote “wiped off the map” has been spread worldwide by Israel lobby Organizations and I am sick and tired of hearing this fake quote from the lips of the world leaders and its corrupt media.

    There is a comprehensive and excellent analysis regarding this issue by “Arash Norouzi”


    You probably have read his article but for those who have not read it, it is highly recommended.

  6. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Drs. Leverett:
    I’d like to congratulate you on your performance on the Charlie Rose show. You both drove home all the important points that needed to be made. I would love to see MSM take lessons from this well reasoned discourse.
    Couple of points, and please take this as constructive criticism, and not to take away from your performance; this having to do Ajad’s various statements. Believe me, I’m no fan of Ajad, but the record for public consumption has to be set straight.
    1) On Ajad saying wipe Israel. This has been repeated in various venues ad-nauseam. I liked your nuanced answer with regards to I/P demographics; however, this is where no hemming or hawing will do. It should be refuted out-right. Any answer should be prefaced with “Ajad never said it”. This would make it clear case issue. It has been refuted and Juan Cole can be referenced (the regime [not the place] will vanish from the page of time).
    2) On holocaust denial: Someone posted a link earlier for Brian Williams’ interview with Ajad regarding this. It is clear that he is asking for a study of the historical records. Is he really in denial?

    Again, congrats and continued success!

  7. Persian Gulf says:


    You have described all noisy people in the community of Iranian intelligentsia in some of the best terms possible. Let me add a bit to the description.

    Abbas Milani: I really don’t consider him as an Iranian anymore. the best traitor one can even imagine! it just happened that he was born in Iran and knows Farsi. he has consistently endangered Iran’s interest with propaganda much more than a foreign enemy, and worse, even encouraged the U.S for an air attack!

    Soroush: ideologically bankrupt. unable to move on intelligently, so turn toward politics with his superficial political analysis. I really like non-political Soroush.

    Attaolla Mohajerani: hope he could get back to 1370s period. 80s turned out to be the destroying decades for him, personal life, political life…

    Mohsen Kadivar: hope he could have been wiser not to spend his hard gained prestige and intelligence by (recently) wrong taken approaches.

    Bazergan: his father was wiser. he is so disappointing.

    Ganji: messed up all the time! constantly in illusion.

    Hamid Dabashi: you are dead wrong Shabnam. he is not even an opportunist! an opportunist does have relatively big brain, high level of IQ, lots of wisdom and intelligence, common sense…. I am not sure of an i***t though.


    Makhmalbaf: you have always been great with your movies, even up to these days well you are the first man player (btw, your daughter’s movies, and the character, is not great at all). your recent style, comedy, is even better than the others! keep continue in the business!

  8. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Sakineh, sometimes it’s embarrassing to be an American: when someone as inarticulate as Ken Pollock gets airtime on an American radio program and mouths nonsense is one such time. (by the way, Israel ran its own wargame/war-on-Iran scenarios a few months ago — apparently it’s the newest fad, a successor to TWISTER perhaps. Anyway, the Israeli wargames had a much different outcome: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BL2PU20091222

    Michael O Hanlon also got hold of a microphone and used it to embarrass Americans (C Span, about 12:00 noon Mar 29).

    But then, to end the day (Charlie Rose is on at 11:00 pm in my part of the country), Drs. Leverett stated the case for rational and strategic thinking about Iran, with a view to promoting the best interests of the US. They gave no ground, and retained their equanimity.

    Hillary stole the show: “The best way to ensure Israel’s security is to turn Iran. WE CAN DO THAT.”
    Hillary had already urged that the US must replicate Nixon’s confidence-building measures toward China: Nixon told CIA to stand down from actions in Tibet; that caused the Chinese to assess that Nixon had the power and the intent to deal seriously with China. Hillary said that (one of the founders of the Revolutionary Guard) had told her that Iran looked for such an action from the US, such a demonstration of good faith.

    Flynt got the last word in: “Now you see why I fell in love with her.”

    Makes you proud to be an American.

    Well done, Drs. Leverett

  9. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Bravo! Bravo! Drs. Leverett, you have undone the Gordian knot:

    “The best thing that can happen to ensure Israel’s security is for Iran to turn, and we can do that. The US did it in Egypt; Kissinger and Nixon did it in China. A US rapprochement with Iran is in the best interest of Israel and the US.” (paraphrasing)

    Yes We Can!

    Alright, shoulders squared, sleeves are rolled, brains on full alert: how can we help you make this happen, Flynt and Hillary and Ben?

  10. Goli says:

    Flynt and Hillary,
    Who cares about Abbas Milani! Really!

  11. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    War, War, War! Well, alright, war games.
    NPR had this today under “Results Of Simulated Israeli Strike On Iran”.
    At least more and more people are realizing how silly this volley / first strike can be. Nobody called in to ask what right do these countries have to strike Iran.
    Hear more here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125311250

  12. Dan Cooper says:

    The messages coming to the White House from Riyadh and Amman, then, were starkly clear: If you don’t rein in your Israeli friends, Tehran won’t be the only Middle East capital where American flags will burn.


  13. Dan Cooper says:


    Yes, you are right, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, does not believe Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons. He also makes a valid case against sanctions.

    The link below is related to what Turkish PM Erdogan has said:


    Turkey makes case against sanctions on Iran

    In meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish PM Erdogan says, ‘We are of view that sanctions are not a healthy path…best route is diplomacy’

  14. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    Dennis Ross is finally catching some flack for his virtually unquestioning “support” of whatever Israeli government is in power. If Netanyahu gets dumped, so what? The point for the US should be to press Israel to do the right thing, meaning get out of the West Bank. This need not mean expulsion of the illegal Jewish settlers.

    Turkey’s prime minister continues to say publicly that his country does not believe Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, and he (and Ahmadinejad) want the Middle East free of such weapons.

  15. James Canning says:

    kooshy – – Interesting article. There was a major Persian exhibition in London this past year. The history of Persia before the Muslim conquest, and the culture (and religion), offer almost unlimited potential for reaching out to many countries in the region.

  16. Dan Cooper says:

    As much as many of us enjoyed watching the humiliation of Israel and PM Netanyahu in Washington this week, I am reluctant to suggest that the emerging crisis between America and Israel may also be a red light warning for all of us. The current crisis may lead to some devastating consequences as far as Palestine, Iran and the Middle East are concerned.

    “Netanyahu and Obama are at a point of no return” claims Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar. “As far as President Barack Obama and his senior advisers are concerned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for nothing less than damaging the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East and the Muslim world.”

    It may be possible that the Americans have started to gather that there is no partner for peace in Israel. America clearly has had to shun its ‘kosher ally’. The American military and political elite already admitted this week that Israel is a strategic burden on the U.S. Seemingly, the only people who genuinely believe in the American Israel strategic bond are AIPAC and its list of obedient ‘Sabbath Congressmen Goyim’. But unfortunately, this is just one side of the story.


  17. kooshy says:

    An interesting good new article by Dr. Afrasiabi, regarding a new cultural dimension, which could expand Iran’s regional strategy between its immediate neighbors.
    Iran not only is using its Muslim strategy, but now is also expanding on its Iranian culture strategy, which obviously will bring in more dimensions to balance its power in its immediate region.

  18. James Canning says:

    Great news. Another Charlie Rose interview of great merit was with the Emir of Qatar, which should be required viewing for the entire Obama administration.

  19. Kathleen says:

    Flynt, Hillary and Ben would you folks be willing to attend the Net Roots conference in July in Las Vegas to discuss the situation with Iran? Will contact the crew at Firedoglake, but know it would be honor to have you folks there. Just thought I would ask.


  20. Kathleen says:

    Flynt your debate with Micheal Ledeen was great. He kept using fearmongering statements. You kept bringing the conversation back to facts, history. You blew Ledeen out of the water with facts and reason.

    “It is certainly true that every administration has tried in some way to engage the Islamic Republic. Those attempts at engagement have been narrowly focused. Usually on some specific tactical issue. In most cases the Iranians have in fact cooperated with us on the issue in which we sought to engage them. And in many cases the Iranians cooperated with us on this narrow tactical issue because they thought by doing so it might actually prompt us to rethink our willingness to live with the Islamic Republic. The historical record is that it is typically the American administration which pulls the plug on the tactical cooperation. Either because of domestic political blow back in the United States. Or because of some perceived Iranian provocation in some other arena that is not connected to the issue that which the United States and Iran are co-operating”

  21. Kathleen says:

    Hillary and Flynt Leverett. Thanks for all you are doing to inform the public about the details of the situation of Iran. To counter balance the beating on the strike Iran pre-emptive war drums that has taken place in our MSM ever since the invasion of Iraq. I have heard Reuel Marc Gerecht, Cheney, Bolton, Micheal Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, Liz Cheney and so many others repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran on the Diane Rehm Show, Talk of the Nation (Neil Conan let John Bolton repeat so many unsubstantiated claims about Iran with absolutely no challenges to those claims during several programs) I have heard Fresh Air’s host Terri Gross not only allow unsubstantiated claims about Iran to be repeated. I have heard her repeat those false and debunked claims herself. “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map” (debunked by Prof Juan Cole) I have also heard her reference the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program as if it all ready exist or that there is “hard evidence” to back up those endlessly repeated claims.

    I heard Chris Matthews allow Senator McCain repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran during the campaign. Also George Stephanpoulous allowed McCain to do the same with absolutely no challenges, no questions about these claims. On Face the Nation during he campaign Bob Schieffer allowed Obama to get away with repeating such a claim. No challenge.

    Hell I have heard the so called liberal Rachel Maddow repeat the unsubstantiated claims about Iran.

    So many of our MSM outlets have allowed these claims to be repeated with no challenges . NO CHALLENGES. To the point where many in the public all ready believe that Iran absolutely has a nuclear weapons program.

    I know history repeats itself but this is insane. One would think that close to a million Iraqi people (according to the Lancet reports) dead, who knows how many have been injured and millions displaced would be enough of a reason to hesitate and examine far more closely these unsubstantiated claims about Iran. The hard fact is that the majority of Americans do not give a rats ass about the unnecessary and immoral death and destruction that has taken place in Iraq. The minimal amount of empathy and compassion demonstrated by the American people is terrifying.

    The warmongers understand this psychology and have and continue to manipulate this lack of concern about the “others” lives successfully.

    Thank you Hillary, Flynt and Ben for presenting information based on facts and not fear. Keep spreading your articles through the blogosphere

  22. Arnold Evans says:

    Wow. Congratulations.

    It is impossible for the United States not to become, even if only in a small way, a better country for this interview being aired.

  23. Shabnam says:

    It is good to see you are invited back to Charlie Rose, however, I would not trust Abbas Milani for anything. He has no credibility inside the country and abroad among Iranians except the monarchist and the Zionist lobby specially Patrick clawson who works for notorious Israeli think tank ‘the Washington institute for near east policy’ where has recently received another puppet, Attaolla Mohajerani, Mousavi supporter, which was widely publicized and attacked by many Iranians including people who identified themselves with Green. He and 4 others, Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar, Bazegan, Ganji, were criticized and ridiculed when they announced that they have founded the Green ‘think tank’ and presented themselves as the brain of the ‘movement.’ Another opportunist, Hamid Dabashi, finally had to write an article in Persian to criticized people like Mohajerani and Makhmalbaf – without mentioning their names – which have gone Washington to meet with the Zionist lobby that are pushing for a military action against Iran for years.


    Iranian people elected Ahmadinejad for the second term with no DOUBT. The election ‘fraud’ was nothing but a hoax to create chaos to bring Mousavi from Rafsanjani’s camp to power. Rafsanjani is the father of neoliberal economy in Iran and one of the supporters of article 44 of constitution which was passed in parliament under Khatami in 2004. The market economy started under Rafsanjani when he was a president and reached to its peak during Khatami’s presidency. The main opposition group against Ahmadinejad is from Rafsanjani’s camp. Most of these people are pro American market economy and liberal policy. Milani and other stooges share Rafsanjani’s love for the neoliberal economic policy against Ahmadinejad. The speed of privatization decreased during Ahmadinejad first term in office although all of them preach the same economic policy. The corrupt business man, Rafsanjani, is protected against demonization campaign by the West, unlike Ahmadinejad and Khamenai.

  24. Pirouz says:

    Great news! Voices of reason to get more attention in the mainstream media. Looking forward to the show, and thanks for the heads-up.