Edward Luce wrote this a few days ago in a column on Iran:
On Wednesday they hold the first presidential debate in three weeks. As in previous ones, commercial breaks are likely to air a spot calling on Mr Obama to remove the MEK – the Mujahideen e-Khalq, the armed Iranian opposition group – from the US list of foreign terrorist organisations.
The MEK is believed to have carried out the recent assassinations of Iranian scientists on Israel’s behalf. Its US front organisations have paid hefty speaking fees to dozens of prominent figures, from Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, to Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Many of the Republican candidates also support lifting the ban.
Michael Auslin overreacts:
Yet even more incomprehensibly, Luce then notes that at the upcoming Republican presidential debate, there likely will be televised commercials calling for the delisting of Iran’s armed opposition group from lists of terrorist groups. Not only does this have nothing to do with the issue at hand, does Mr. Luce think the commercials are being paid for by the GOP? If not, then what’s his beef with the free market — whoever can afford a commerical can buy it. Just ask SEIU, which kept up a constant barrage in favor of Obamacare last year.
As the quote from Luce shows, the MEK issue is perfectly relevant to a discussion of Israel and the Iranian nuclear program because Israel has allegedly used MEK operatives to kill Iranian nuclear scientists. I assume Luce’s point is to draw attention to the fact that there is televised advocacy for de-listing a terrorist group that has recently been implicated in acts of terrorism against Iran, and these attacks form one part of the covert war being waged against Iran because of its nuclear program. Some of Romney’s advisers have publicly supported de-listing the MEK, and Gingrich and Santorum are on record endorsing the assassinations the MEK has reportedly carried out. One problem is that the MEK’s American advocates are often paid for their advocacy, and the other is that three of the Republican presidential candidates apparently have no objection to acts of terrorism so long as they are committed against the right people.
If this were any other terrorist group, it would be unthinkable that its advocates could run television commercials calling for the group’s removal from the FTO list during presidential debates or at any other time, but because it is a group dedicated to overthrowing the Iranian government it is somehow considered acceptable and unobjectionable. I am guessing Luce’s inclusion of the MEK material in his column was intended to highlight how biased in favor of confrontation the Iran debate in the United States is. That Auslin thinks it is plausible or appropriate to compare advertisements on behalf of a recognized foreign terrorist group with legislative advocacy by an American union confirms it.
By Daniel Larison