An incomprehensibly boring controversy emerged earlier this week after the Wall Street Journal published a poorly-structured piece about Iran involving the return of frozen Iranian funds in the form of cash, which coincided with the release four detained Americans. Naturally, this triggered Donald Trump’s paranoid imagination, and he began ranting about watching a “top secret” video, leaked by the Iranian government, of an airplane covertly delivering the cash. He described the footage as having been shot at a “perfect angle, nice and steady,” which could only have been the work of Iranian state media.
If Donald Trump seems like the kind of guy who, if he were perhaps a little less wealthy, might put a brick in an iPad box and try to sell it out the back of his car to a guy he found on Craigslist, that’s because he basically is: that scheme shares its general operating principle with the plan he articulated over the weekend for dealing with Iran.
In America, corrupt billionaires get off too easy. A man was recently awarded a prestigious trophy for artistically making this exact point. Iran, it won’t surprise you to learn, swings the pendulum far in the opposite direction. Yesterday, the country announced that it plans to execute billionaire oil magnate Babak Zanjani after finding him guilty on corruption charges.
Ali Shamkhani, chief of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, claimed today that U.S. Republican officials reached out to Tehran asking that the recent release of four American prisoners be delayed until after the upcoming presidential election. There are very good reasons to be skeptical of Shamkhani’s claim. If it is true, it is completely insane.
On Sunday, after a delay, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and two other Americans, released by Iran as part of a prisoner exchange deal, left Tehran on an airplane, the Post reports. The fourth American prisoner, whose detention seems not to have been reported before yesterday, did not join them.
After breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia claims that it remains as committed as ever to securing peace in Syria and Yemen. This weekend, majority-Sunni Saudi Arabia ordered the execution of a dissident Shiite cleric, and, in response, protestors in majority-Shiite Iran stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.
Did you know that Iran and a group of nations led by the U.S. reached an historic agreement over nuclear weapons this week that’s been decades in the making? Probably not, but who cares! Fortunately for you, Rihanna and Channing Tatum do. And they’re here (like Ryan Gosling and Kate Upton before them) to explain it to you.
On this day in 1971, President Richard Nixon, to the complete surprise of the American public, announced that he would be visiting communist China in 1972. It was an abrupt, about-face departure from a stance the vehemently anti-communist Nixon had campaigned upon. But the lost lives and political costs of the Vietnam war—as well as the insistent advice of Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger—led Nixon away from his intransigence and into a momentous meeting that would shape the course of American diplomacy and international affairs for decades.