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Iran And Trump And The Art Of The Empty Threat

Trump's words
Trump's words
Alidad Vassigh


Fox News opted for the verb "slam" to describe the first significant comments about Iran from new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "Tillerson slams Iran nuclear deal as "failed approach,"" the conservative network headlined its story yesterday, following Tillerson's remarks about the 2015 nuclear accord inked by President Obama. But there is another verb missing so far in the storyline of Tehran and the first 100 days of the Trump administration: There has been no talk lately about "tearing up" the nuclear deal, as candidate Trump had repeatedly vowed to do during last year's campaign.

Indeed, most Iran officials greeted Tillerson's remarks with a shrug. The head of the regular army's land forces, General Kiumars Heidari said that Iran was not threatening anyone and "nobody could deny" its stabilizing role in the Middle East. He said that for the first time in decades, Washington was giving the economy preference over security concerns in U.S. foreign policy.

The semi-official ISNA news agency also carried reports citing the Speaker Of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, who said he believed the nuclear deal would remain in force, even if Iran deserved harsher sanctions. The reformist paper Aftab-e Yazd noted that in spite of his own campaign vows, and continuing pressures from some Republicans, Trump is now working in a "more peaceful and reasonable atmosphere."

The perfect interlocutor for Trump?

Like elsewhere in the world, The Trump administration has shown it can wait and even change tack if necessary. In the case of Iran, perhaps Washington is waiting to see who will become Iran's next president, in elections late next month. The field is currently led by moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani, an architect of the nuclear accord; the more conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi; and the maverick former president hoping to return, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Though he is running in spite of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's public disapproval, Ahmadinejad has always presented himself as a plain-talking everyman. Could he be the perfect interlocutor for Trump?

As for Khamenei, his usual posture of standing firm, come what may, remains front and center. The state broadcaster IRIB cited him as telling Iranian generals earlier this week that "fear of the enemy is where misfortune begins." He then added, "verbal threats are the trick" of aggressive powers. Yes, written accords can be torn up, but supremely loud leaders everywhere also know that spoken words can be easily forgotten.

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Murdoch's Resignation Adds To Biden Good Luck With The Media — A Repeat Of FDR?

Robert Murdoch's resignation from Fox News Corp. so soon before the next U.S. presidential elections begs the question of how directly media coverage has impacted Joe Biden as a figure, and what this new shift in power will mean for the current President.

Close up photograph of a opy of The Independent features Rupert Murdoch striking a pensive countenance as his 'News of the World' tabloid newspaper announced its last edition will run

July 7, 2011 - London, England: A copy of The Independent features Rupert Murdoch striking a pensive countenance as his 'News of the World' tabloid newspaper announced its last edition will run July 11, 2011 amid a torrid scandal involving phone hacking.

Mark Makela/ZUMA
Michael J. Socolow

Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States of America on Jan. 20, 2021.

Imagine if someone could go back in time and inform him and his communications team that a few pivotal changes in the media would occur during his first three years in office.

There’s the latest news that Rubert Murdoch, 92, stepped down as the chairperson of Fox Corp. and News Corp. on Sept. 21, 2023. Since the 1980s, Murdoch, who will be replaced by his son Lachlan, has been the most powerful right-wing media executivein the U.S.

While it’s not clear whether Fox will be any tamer under Lachlan, Murdoch’s departure is likely good news for Biden, who reportedly despises the media baron.

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