President Obama’s signal foreign policy “achievement,” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, guarantees and finances the Iranian regime’s development of a nuclear arsenal. It also enhances their regional power until that time. All in all, from the perspective of the national security of the United States and its allies, it must be the stupidest deal of all time.
Some Americans nevertheless see it as a brilliant stroke. Take, for example, New York Times “travel writer” Elaine Sciolino, as Lee Smith calls her. She thinks the deal with Iran, such as it is, is a marvelous idea.
The Washington Post called on Sciolino to review Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon’s new book, The Iran Wars. The Post puts the headline over Sciolino’s review “A journalist’s dark perspective on the nuclear deal with Iran.” The headline suggests that Solomon is guilty of a bad attitude.
Lee Smith reviews Sciolino’s review in “Washington Post tells readers to ignore inconvenient facts of Iran deal.” Smith provides a helpful context within which to Sciolino’s review in a context that is otherwise lacking. “[H]er published work on Iran at this point has little bearing on national security,” Smith writes. “She’s a travel writer.”
Smith quotes Sciolino’s recent article about tile work for Travel & Leisure: “Isfahan boasts tilework so dense and seductive that if you gaze at it too long, you feel slightly drugged. Swirling calligraphy and precise geometries are often unexpectedly paired with bright floral patterns.” Smith then notes:
Sciolino is a member of the Times’ “Tales from Persia” team, which includes other Timesmen, like opinion columnist Roger Cohen. “Tales From Persia” is one of the Times’s luxury travel packages that offers readers a chance to visit the places they read about, led by the people who write about those lands. The travel business is part of an arrangement between the Times and the clerical regime that the paper of record, especially its Tehran correspondent Thomas Erdbrink, not to go too hard on the ruling clique in Tehran, or it will shut down the business.
In other words, Sciolino has a stake in painting a favorable picture of the clerical regime. Exactly how much she is paid to lead tours of Iran the Times would not confirm by press time, nor would the Post confirm if its editors were aware it was assigning a review to a writer with a conflict of interest that touches on personal and corporate finances.
How did this happen? Or what had to happen to the media environment that a travel writer was given space in one of America’s last remaining newspapers to attack, on what the reviewer herself acknowledges are ideological grounds, a book written by a top national security reporter?
Smith concludes with this judgment on the merits: “The pro-JCPOA advocates won the deal but lost the national security debate. Insofar as rational discourse does matter, they were wrong. And thus they now have no choice but to keep peddling pretty, delicate, and colorful fictions, or the political equivalent of Persian tile work.”
If you have any interest in the subject, you will want to read the whole thing here.