My highlight of the day: Lavelle discussing Iran's Soft Power with Marandi, Fisk, and Rhode.
Interesting to hear and certainly funny to watch.
Yet, the program makes a good point: Iran itself is very often demonized in the West, and the pervasive wishful thinking seems only to contribute to the underestimation of the extent of its influence and leverage (in the region in particular). The sanctions and the isolation might be working from the Western point of view. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that this perspective is not the only one (at least, not anymore), and there are groups and individuals who - for various reasons and purposes - seem to be leaning toward Iran.
Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon earlier this month highlighted this fact very well. It was a very smart move, as Hizballah indeed put on a great show, with the Iranian prez starring in the lead. And despite all the pressure from the West and efforts to undermine his government, he does deserve recognition for increasingly honing his public diplomacy skills, which, although rough at times, do address his own "constituent" audiences in the immediate region and beyond. What he still needs to learn, however, is addressing the more "hostile" public in the West, since antagonism, especially in his case, does not seem to be effective at all in the charming business.