Colloquially, America goes by "Uncle Sam" and is known to many of its allies as "a beacon of hope." But a country with as many enemies as it has friends is bound to attract a fair share of taunts and insults, too. Below, what everyone loves to call the United States behind its back.

July 15, 2010

Pro-American sentiment in Iran is a priceless strategic asset for the US. A military attack would liquidate or at least severely weaken this asset. It would probably turn the most pro-American population in the Middle East into anti-Americans, further undermining the US position in the world's most volatile region.

In an ideal world, sanctions would be a diplomatic step to increase pressure that could be reinforced with the future threat of military force. Ultimately, if a country doesn’t cooperate and respond to sanctions, the international community can compel them to fall into line.

William Burns, US Undersecretary of State for political affairs, Tuesday told a panel hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that pursuing possible alternative approaches such as a fuel swap deal that was offered by Brazil and Turkey "was not off the table."

It is the friendship Western policymakers wish they could have prevented: Turkey- secular, Western-leaning, and a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - drawing close to a resurgent theocratic Iran whose nuclear program and geopolitical ambitions present a full-frontal challenge to the established international order.

Rising middle-level powers such as Turkey and Iran in the Middle East and Brazil in South America now are challenging the diplomatic supremacy of Washington. Earlier this month, the new contours of diplomatic power were on display in Istanbul.

Iran is a country whose culture and governance is not easily reduced to simple statements or characterizations. What we read in the corporate media is much different from our growing understanding of Iran.