By Fred Fleitz
In an October 23 Washington Post book review, former New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino is sharply critical of a new book on Iran by Wall Street Journal writer Jay Solomon, The Iran Wars, because he criticizes the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) instead of devoting his book to praising the deal as a magnificent achievement as all good reporters are expected to do. Sciolino accuses Solomon of having a “dark perspective” on the nuclear deal and claims “those who hope to sabotage the nuclear agreement under a new administration will find this book useful.”
Sciolino’s attack on Solomon’s book is strange because The Iran Wars is about much more than the nuclear deal and contains strong (and mostly unfair) criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s approach to Iran and the Iraq War. On the Iran deal, while Solomon is tough and factual, he often pulls his punches and leaves out some of the strongest criticisms.
For some reason Sciolino ignored Solomon’s dubious claims that the Bush administration invaded Iraq to weaken Iran and that Bush officials missed an historic opportunity for U.S.–Iran cooperation after the 9/11 attacks. She also omits Solomon’s credible account of how Iran and Syria exploited the aftermath of the Iraq War. As a card-carrying member of the foreign-policy establishment, one would think that Sciolino would jump to praise Solomon for making these points.
Instead, Sciolino devotes her entire article to attacking Solomon and his book. Her strongest criticism is that Solomon didn’t interview enough people, especially Iranians.
Sciolino sniffs that Solomon apparently only made one visit to Iran and that his book has a “paucity of official Iranian voices.” This is a ridiculous argument given how dangerous it is for American citizens to travel to Iran and the 2015 arrest of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who was held in an Iranian prison for 18 months before he was freed in January 2016.
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