"In a bombshell revelation sure to reverberate around the world, the Washington Post quotes a senior U.S. intelligence official seeming to suggest that the United States goal is now the collapse of the Iranian regime. The story's headline: 'Goal of Iran sanctions is regime collapse, U.S. official says.'
I say 'suggest' because the Post never directly quotes the official saying outright that regime change is the policy ... Pursuing regime change in a well-armed country of 78 million is no small matter, nor is it the sort of thing that can be ascertained from a blind quote that's immediately contradicted by other sources. (It's also very much worth noting that the harshest sanctions -- on Iran's central bank -- were imposed by Congress over the White House's objections.) Still, as my colleague Dan Drezner notedyesterday, the Obama team may be hoping that sanctions can open up fissures within the Iranian regime and provoke internal political strife -- thus giving the United States and its allies more leverage. That's not quite the same thing as regime change, however. It's important to remember that Iranians themselves haven't called en masse for regime change. The protests that broke out over the stolen 2009 presidential election were mainly about calling for a recount or a revote, not about bringing down the entire clerical system. More Iranians may eventually conclude that 'everything must go,' but as far as we can tell they aren't there yet. There is a certain political appeal in calling for regime change in Iran, I'll admit. Obama is being pilloried daily by the Republican presidential hopefuls for not doing enough to stop Iran's nuclear program, and he seems highly unlikely to agree to a bombing campaign that may or may not succeed in doing the job. But if he can say that he's trying to overthrow the mullahs rather than negotiate with them, he might be able to neutralize that line of attack." (ForeignPolicy)
"Last night at Doubles, Ambassador Brenda Johnson and Howard Johnson hosted a book signing for Sally Bedell Smith and her new book, 'Elizabeth The Queen.' The Elizabeth in Sally’s book is the current Queen ... It has been excerpted in Vanity Fair although I hadn’t read it. I was most interested in it because 1. This is not the first or even second or third biography of the Queen, and 2. Sally Bedell Smith is a pleasure to read. Her research is vast and trenchant. She writes very objectively and respectfully, but frankly, about her subjects; I was curious to see what she could bring to the subject that was fresh ... Last night’s reception drew a big crowd of New Yorkers. I saw, or saw on the guest list: Martha Stewart, Susan Magrino, Robert and Barbara Taylor Bradford, John Eastman, Christy Ferer, Jeanette and Alexander Sanger, Sharon and Stephen Baum, Deeda Blair, Gerry Fabrikant, Toni and James Goodale, Anne Sutherland Fuchs, Dick Nye and Francesca Stanfill, Daisy Soros, Virginia Coleman and Peter Duchin ..." (NYSocialDiary)
"Kate Moss serenaded her pals on New Year’s Eve in Jamaica with a karaoke rendition of Blondie’s 1980 hit “Rapture.” The song was a fitting shout-out to one of her fellow revelers, Fab 5 Freddy, who’s name-checked in its lyrics. Partying with Moss and Freddy at Chris Blackwell’s GoldenEye estate were Moss’ rocker hubby, Jamie Hince, Grace Jones and fashion photographer Terry Richardson." (PageSix)
"Yes, New Years Eve at Goldeneye in Jamaica was amazing but the Post didn't mention that choreographer Fatima Robinson was DJing and the crowd was jamming. Kate had just mentioned she's a big Blondie fan, jumped on stage, grabbed the mic from Grace Jones and sang Rapture to me. A very Wow, moment." (Fred Brathwaite)
"When Frances Schultz and Tom Dittmer invited us to come to his California ranch to celebrate New Year’s Eve, we jumped at the invitation ... so fast that there was no possibility of them retracting the kind offer! Frances and Tom really know how to put on a weekend, in gracious ways that are virtually non-existent these days. It is sort of like going to the highest end summer camp imaginable, coupled with the best food and wines and superb company ... We were asked to bring dinner jackets and jeans for the men, long dresses for the ladies, (for New Year’s Eve) and then whatever else we would need for shooting, riding, and playing at being ranchers." (Nina Griscom/NYSocialDiary)
"f there is one group of people who have the knowledge and experience to identify the year's best directors, it's . . . directors—which is why we should pay special attention to yesterday's Directors Guild of America award nominations. Because not only are their best-director picks solid indicators of which filmmakers may be nominated for an Academy Award later this month—information that could benefit you in a high-stakes state-trooper pool and/or help prepare you for the disappointment of not being selected for what you thought was an innovative Adam Sandler cross-dressing comedy—but this year, they’re pretty surprising! This year's nominees are: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Martin Scorsese (Hugo)" (VanityFair)