Iran’s hardline media struggles to grasp Petraeus scandal


Serat News's story on David Petraeus, in case you happen to read Farsi.

Maybe it's not so hard to understand why the downfall of CIA Director David Petraeus might seem baffling when viewed from Iran's hardliner community. That a popular military commander and powerful spy chief would fall into overnight disgrace over a secret extramarital affair – thus toppling one of Iran's great American antagonists – might seem a bit jarring from the Iranian right-wing perspective. 

The editors of Serat News, an Iranian newspaper closely identified with the hardliner movement and to the state-run Kayhan, seem to have had a difficult time wrapping their minds around this story. Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, who covers Iranian media for Al-Monitor, translated Serat's Petraeus story, and it is something:

When the Terrible Organization kneels before a woman!

The forces that the CIA can bring to accompany it, the most elite of which can be seen with the existence of individuals like Petraeus, who even though the head of an important organization kneeled [when] confronted with an infiltrator and a woman whose spirit of militarism had distanced her from her family for years.

Paula Broadwell for close to ten years cooperated with the American military forces. Even though she has a husband and two children, but she enthralled herself to militarism and was present in countries like Afghanistan following Petraeus who was at the time the American commander in Afghanistan. … If we look at the course of the lives of the past leaders and managers of the CIA it can be seen to be full of these type of people in positions of power with a brutal soul.

The argument here is obviously a little tough to square – Petraeus both "kneeled" in apparent weakness and he has "a brutal soul"? – but it is nonetheless interesting to see the degree to which Serat can bend even this episode to conform with its view of the American spy agency. Note, though, that for all the dark assumptions about the CIA and about American "militarism," at least there's no condemnation of American society or culture itself. If anything, the story suggests that Broadwell's embrace of "militarism" had alienated her from other Americans, who Serat assumes do not share her condemnable views. So, it's not all negative, sort of.

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Max Fisher · November 14, 2012

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