If all that’s alleged [regarding Khashoggi] is true, WeWork will be in bed with a regime that has expressed brazen disregard for virtually any norm of international politics. They should tread carefully before accepting a majority stake from a fund that’s in effect a Saudi investment vehicle.
[On Alex Jones' banning from Facebook and Youtube] It’s interesting they finally pulled the trigger. I think the biggest point of vulnerability on social media platforms is anti-competitive behavior. To me, it always seemed this is the way it would play out is for folks who disagree with the way the tech platforms are targeting the alt-right in particular or folks like Alex Jones. The leverage they have to get back on them is on they’re effectively a monopoly in control of online communication.
Power abhors a vacuum, and in the absence of strong U.S. leadership on Syria, Russia and Iran have been more than happy to move in. It's a measure of just how much they've come to dominate the conflict that they'll be the only major foreign powers at the summit. The White House has largely washed its hands of Syria. But with Iran entrenched in Damascus, and the Islamic State biding its time in the far countryside, it's likely only a matter of time before our hands are dirtied again. When that happens we'll likely look at these negotiations as a lost opportunity.
The main takeaway from Facebook's announcement is not just that Russia-style meddling is exportable, but that it's inevitable. If Moscow authored the playbook, Tehran read it word for word, and they won't be the only country to do so. Spreading disinformation on Facebook is so easy and effective that we need to assume every foreign adversary will now do it.
Sanctions relief may not have lifted the Iranian economy as a whole, but it has lifted the fortunes of Iranian elites. Zarif may frame sanctions in terms of the harm it’s doing to Iran overall, but he’s really concerned about the checkbooks of the political, financial and military elite that the regime in Tehran depends on for support and legitimacy.