Rapprochement, Not “Engagement + Threats” Must Be Tried With Iran

-

obama.iran.jpg
(Photo Credit: White House Photostream)
While at home in Boston this past weekend, I found myself google-news-ing (is that a word yet?) Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett to get their take on the Obama administration’s recent moves with regard to Iran and last week’s revelations concerning the uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qum.
I expected the Leveretts to offer an alternative to the familiar “carrots and sticks” policy – and I was not disappointed.
In today’s New York Times, the Leveretts take direct aim at the Obama administration’s Iran policy – which they view for the most part as a continuation of the Bush administration’s policy.
As the Leveretts have argued in the past and in detail, the chief goal of the United States with regard to Iran should be a strategic rapprochement a la Nixon’s trip to China.
Here are the key graphs from today’s piece:

Absent some agreement with Washington on its long-term goals, Iran’s national security strategy will continue emphasizing “asymmetric” defense against perceived American encirclement. Over several years, officials in both the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami and the conservative Ahmadinejad administration have told us that this defensive strategy includes cultivating ties to political forces and militias in other states in the region, developing Iran’s missile capacity (as underscored by this weekend’s tests of medium-range missiles), and pushing the limits of Tehran’s nonproliferation obligations to the point where it would be seen as having the ability and ingredients to make fission weapons. It seems hardly a coincidence that Iran is accused of having started the Qum lab in 2005 — precisely when Tehran had concluded that suspending enrichment had failed to diminish American hostility.
American officials tend to play down Iranian concerns about American intentions, citing public messages from President Obama to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, as proof of the administration’s diplomatic seriousness. But Tehran saw these messages as attempts to circumvent Iran’s president — another iteration, in a pattern dating from Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal, of American administrations trying to create channels to Iranian “moderates” rather than dealing with the Islamic Republic as a system. President Ahmadinejad underscored this point to us by noting that Mr. Obama never responded to his congratulatory letter after the 2008 United States election — which, he emphasized, was “unprecedented” and “not easy to get done” in Iran.
The Obama administration’s lack of diplomatic seriousness goes beyond clumsy tactics; it reflects an inadequate understanding of the strategic necessity of constructive American-Iranian relations. If an American president believed that such a relationship was profoundly in our national interests — as President Richard Nixon judged a diplomatic opening to China — he would demonstrate acceptance of the Islamic Republic, even as problematic Iranian behavior continued in the near term.

While the Obama administration has offered to talk to the Iranians, the past week’s events suggest that its goal remains the same: to treat Iran as an adversary and use carrots and sticks to influence its behavior. The problem with this approach is that it hasn’t worked and is a recipe for endless conflict.
The Leveretts are advocating that the Obama administration set in motion a different strategy.
In their own words:

INSTEAD of pushing the falsehood that sanctions will give America leverage in Iranian decision-making — a strategy that will end either in frustration or war — the administration should seek a strategic realignment with Iran as thoroughgoing as that effected by Nixon with China. This would require Washington to take steps, up front, to assure Tehran that rapprochement would serve Iran’s strategic needs.
On that basis, America and Iran would forge a comprehensive framework for security as well as economic cooperation — something that Washington has never allowed the five-plus-one group to propose. Within that framework, the international community would work with Iran to develop its civil nuclear program, including fuel cycle activities on Iranian soil, in a transparent manner rather than demanding that Tehran prove a negative — that it’s not developing weapons. A cooperative approach would not demonize Iran for political relationships with Hamas and Hezbollah, but would elicit Tehran’s commitment to work toward peaceful resolutions of regional conflicts.

In my view, the Leveretts have contributed to the policy discourse by providing an alternative strategy, when most everyone else in Washington has been arguing over tactical decisions like whether or not to “engage” (i.e. talk to) Iran.
Daniel Drezner obviously does not agree – and while I am sure the Leveretts could respond much more articulately than I can, I’m going to give it a shot. I want to be clear that I haven’t discussed their article or this post with them, so the views below are entirely my own.
My aim below is to directly counter six points made by Drezner in his post at ForeignPolicy.com.
First, Drezner criticizes the Leveretts for pointing out back in June during the Iranian election controversy what has undoubtedly been proven true – that the regime would survive, American interests vis-a-vis Iran would not change, and the Obama administration should not let the election controversy get in the way of striking a game-changing deal with the Islamic Republic. While the article’s title (Ahmadinejad won. Get over it) may have been unfortunate, the key arguments are sound.
Second, Drezner faults the Leveretts for citing Iranian officials while concluding that the Iranians will not concede to demands that they halt their nuclear program if such demands are made at the “five plus one” talks this week. Putting aside the issue of whether to believe the Iranian officials or not, does Drezner doubt the Leveretts key claim that the Iranians are not going to bow to an American ultimatum? The historical record certainly suggests that they will not.
Third, Drezner takes issue with the Leveretts’ contention that the Obama administration must deal directly with President Ahmadinejad. While one can quibble with exactly who the United States should talk to inside the Iranian regime, the Leveretts’ point must be understood in its larger context. The key is that engagement needs to be about constructing a better relationship, rather than merely offering carrots, wielding sticks, and delivering public speeches. It is sensible that Washington should respect Iran’s institutions as part of an effort to engineer a positive relationship.
Fourth, Drezner mischaracterizes the Leveretts’ fundamental assertion with regard to the Iranian elections. Their point is not that the Obama administration used the elections to try to topple the regime. The point is that the elections are not a game-changer when it comes to U.S.-Iranian relations. Instead of honestly addressing this argument, Drezner tries to take the Leveretts’ use of the term “regime-toppling” out of context. They certainly do not assert, as Drezner insinuates they do, that the Obama administration “fomented” regime-toppling instability in the aftermath of the elections.
Fifth, Drezner says that if the United States can garner support from China and Russia for debilitating sanctions, then Iran might capitulate on its nuclear program. But this ignores the extreme likelihood that China and Russia will not go along with crippling sanctions. It also ignores the fact that sanctions rarely work as a means of changing state behavior. Iran is an enormously important country and will find its patrons.
Sixth, Drezner says that “What the Leveretts seem to be proposing is a multilateral move to bring Iran in from the cold — which benefits Russia and China far more than it benefits the United States. In other words, I’m not sure how a Nixon strategy works in the P5 + 1 framework.”
This last point is wrong for two more reasons. First, ending Iran’s isolation in the context of better relations with Washington would bring enormous benefits to the United States. We, after all, are the ones with allies and security commitments in the Middle East – not to mention all of that oil and gas. Second, Drezner questions how this strategy would work in the P5 + 1 framework. But the P5 + 1 framework is not the Leveretts’ idea – and they have long argued for a bilateral agreement.
Continuing down the road of isolation and threats paved by the Bush administration will not get our relations with Iran to a place where we want them to be. Difficult as it would be to pull off, at least the Leveretts are offering an alternative.
Even if the Iranians were to give up their nuclear program at our behest – a possibility that appears extremely unlikely – we will still find ourselves enemies with perhaps the most powerful country in the Middle East. One way or another, this will eventually lead to war.
Contrary to what Drezner and others are saying, it is rapprochement, not “engagement plus threats” that must be tried.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

104 comments on “Rapprochement, Not “Engagement + Threats” Must Be Tried With Iran

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I replied to Nadine earlier this morning, but the comment was “held for approval”. It did contain three links to external content. Is that the reason?”
    Two links, max, Dan.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sure you are a neocon, but when I read you, I am more reminded of the militant trotskist,
    partisan heritage of that movement than the liberal roots”
    Too complicated. Just hone it down to racist pig, and you’ll be closer to the mark.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don`t mind reading your jokes about me
    having lice in my beard……”
    She’s joking?
    Damn, now I gotta change my Christmas list, and figure out who else I can give that aerosol can of DDT to.

    Reply

  4. arthurdecco says:

    It’s getting harder and harder to hear the pure and honest voices speaking here on TWN because of the appalling, never-ending din made by a small, (if elastic) virtual viral assemblage of annoying people with mystifying agendas, block-wide egos, an inordinate fondness for the sound of their own voices and a penchant for woeful distortions sometimes hundreds of concurrent lines long in the comment sections.
    So Kudos to JohnH for trying respectful reason and his individualist intelligence in his attempts to engage the group, to Katherine Grasso Anderson for her vivid and instructional memories, her highly developed ethical core and her good manners and to Outraged American for her (to me at least), almost always hilarious and pointed barbs of wit aimed at the loquacious and prattling egomaniacs who drape themselves in sanctimony, censoriousness and obfuscation 1000 words at a time, each taking turns (and way too much time) telling each other how insightful they are.
    The creative vitality of TWN is being threatened by this infestation of always-on-message, if not on-topic, always dishonest, mostly damaged propagandists.
    Please… Somebody – Anybody, break into their droning long enough to break the macabre spell poisoning what used to be respectful, if passionate, Interesting Debate…
    I’m too dispirited to try.

    Reply

  5. nadine says:

    OA, you lie. Here is the original 2005 CNN report: “new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away”. That’s the direct quote from Islamic Republic News Agency.
    Israel will be TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) — Iran’s new president has repeated a remark from a former ayatollah that Israel should be “wiped out from the map,” insisting that a new series of attacks will destroy the Jewish state, and lashing out at Muslim countries and leaders that acknowledge Israel.
    The remarks by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — reported by Islamic Republic News Agency — coincide with a month-long protest against Israel called “World without Zionism” and with the approach of Jerusalem Day.
    World without Zionism is a nationwide event the planners intend to hold annually, and Ahmadinejad made the remarks during a meeting with protesting students at the Interior Ministry.
    Ahmadinejad quoted a remark from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, who said that Israel “must be wiped out from the map of the world.”
    The president then said: “And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism,” according to a quote published by IRNA.
    The Jewish state has diplomatic relations with major Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, and the Gaza disengagement has improved ties between Israel and some other Muslim nations and leaders.
    But Ahmadinejad said the “new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away,” according to paraphrased statements in the IRNA report.
    He also described Israel’s disengagement from Gaza as a “trick” meant to make “Islamic states acknowledge the Zionist regime of Israel,” according to the report.
    The United States and Israel are sowing “discord among warring forces in Palestine and other parts of the Islamic world,” the report paraphrased Ahmadinejad as saying.
    In the process, such attempts were forcing Muslim nations to normalize relations with Israel, he said.
    Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying, “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/10/26/ahmadinejad/index.html

    Reply

  6. Outraged American says:

    What Ahmadinejad said was not “must vanish” but “WILL vanish”- a
    very important distinction.
    He was referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union and other
    “empires” under the weight of their own hubris.

    Reply

  7. nadine says:

    questions,
    Obama’s choices since he got into office have been driven by ideology, not pragmatism. If he has any belief in markets at all, you can’t tell by his choices, which have uniformly been for governmental control, either outright as in GM/Chrysler, or by regulation, as in the banks, energy or healthcare. Obama complains about the deficit he inherited yet he has quadrupled it.
    The public wants Obama to fix the economy but instead he has staked everything on a health care reform, for which there is little public demand and less money. But Obama makes policy as if he can borrow an infinite amount of money.
    Charles Gasparino wrote in the NY Daily Post how Wall St Guys are feeling burned:
    ” In the depths of the financial crisis last year, people like Morgan Stanley’s John Mack, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, Greg Fleming (then of Merrill Lynch), JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein were telling everyone that candidate Barack Obama was a “moderate,” and moderation was what this country needed.
    What a difference a year makes. They won’t admit it in public — but in private conversations, the top guys on Wall Street are feeling burned.
    The guy who seemed like such a steady voice — vowing to curb runaway spending and restoring order to the banking system and the economy as a whole — is instead so driven to achieve his big-government policy goals that he and his policy people are ignoring their own economic advisers on the severe economic costs that his agenda will cause.
    I’m told that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and chief economic adviser Lawrence Summers have both complained to senior Wall Street execs that they have almost no say in major policy decisions. Obama economic counselor Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman, is barely consulted at all on just about anything — not even issues involving the banking system, of which he is among the world’s leading authorities.
    At most, the economic people and their staffs get asked to do cost analyses of Obama’s initiatives for the White House political people — who then ignore their advice.
    It’s almost the opposite approach, the Wall Street crowd complains, from the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, whose main first-term achieve- ment — deficit reduction — was crafted by his chief economic adviser, Robert Rubin.
    Like Obama, Clinton and Rubin promised to raise taxes on the “rich,” and they did. But Clinton didn’t raise taxes to embark on a wild-eyed redistribution of wealth and massive programs. In the early Clinton years, Rubin convinced the president that he needed to avoid the grim consequences of runaway spending — and after the Republicans took Congress in ’94, it was no longer an option.
    …Obama, according to Wall Street people who regularly deal with his economic and budget officials, is acting as if he has a blank check to do what he wants, while ignoring the longterm costs of his policies.
    As one CEO of a major financial firm told me: “The economic guys say that when they explain the costs of programs, the policy guys simply thank them for their time and then ignore what they say.”
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/burned_by_obama_CRw506e4NQv1C9IkTVM7tO

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    “The neocons showed much greater strategic flexibility than either the pedantic left or right and that’s why they’ve were victorious.”
    Interesting post, Wigwag. But I think you are forgetting one big factor: 9/11. Both new left and the paleo-right had either poo-poo’d or denied the possibility of such a thing happening. When it happened, the new left’s answer was: America’s chickens are coming home to roost, to quote Rev. Wright. This callous response to mass murder caused a number of people to abandon the left, most notably Christopher Hitchens. It galvanized the idea among the right that wow, the left really DOES hate America. Even in the wake of mass murder, they have more sympathy for the terrorists than their victims.
    In contrast, the neocons had long warned of the dangers of the rise of Islamism, and when Al Qaeda struck, they had an answer ready: push to reform the Mideast, starting in the unfinished business of Iraq, so that the political answers of the Arab world no longer remain stuck between the autocracy of the Arab state and the religious fanaticism of the jihadi.
    You may not like the neocons’ answer. But that’s not the point. The point is, that they had warned of the dangers of radical Islam, while the left had downplayed them; and they had an answer ready when Al Qaeda struck. The left and the realists did not have an answer ready. In politics, the old rule is: you can’t beat something with nothing.
    The neocons lost favor with the difficulties of the Iraq War. Democracies rarely have the patience for long wars, and it will probably take a generation at least before the Muslim world figures out that Islamism is a cure worse than the disease. But you will be very foolish to count them out. Liberalism (in the classical sense) has a long track record, and a good one, against tyrannies of the both the left and right.

    Reply

  9. Outraged American says:

    Ahmadinejad is being deliberately mistranslated by pro-Israel
    outfits like SITE and MEMRI, whose mistranslations the
    mainstream media then swallows whole.
    I had Farsi translators to translate for our show, so yes Silver
    Slipper, I do know more than a few people who speak Farsi.
    Many of them have very good reasons to oppose the current
    Iranian regime, but they will translate accurately, as opposed to
    the Zionists who run Site and Memr, because as Iranians, they
    want the best for their people.
    Here are a whole bunch of New York Times articles on Haim
    Saban’s attempts to buy up European media, which Saban had
    stated was in order to make the European media more favorable
    to Israel.
    http://tinyurl.com/yegwv5t
    Paul, I’m an ANGLO-Indian, and look Swedish, which is probably
    why you hate me. Think Ingrid Bergman. Not.
    Sheriff Joe is my hero. After arresting the kids for being illegals,
    given that their relatives are from India and all, he only gave
    them 13 years in a tent city, which straightened them right out.
    Rather than playing Warcraft 24/7 and/ or randomly firing off
    guns, they now work emptying bed pans for AIDS patients and
    praying with recovering Mormons.
    We should get Sheriff Joe to do the same to Dumbya and Dick.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    Juan Cole also posted on his blog that Osama bin Laden committed 9/11 because of the (non-existent) massacre of Jenin, forgetting that Jenin inconveniently happened a year after 9/11. He is a propagandist, not a scholar, whatever his title.
    Ahmedinejad has many times in many ways denied the Holocaust (he even held a conference) and called Israel a “worm”, a “rotten corpse”, a “cancer” that must and will soon vanish from history. Typical of the New Left to rush in to defend such a character with excuses and denials.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    The US version of “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”
    is: We want regime change in Tehran.
    A longer US version was articulated by the current Secretary of State, Hillary
    Clinton, during the presidential campaign: “Because whatever stage of development
    they might be in their nuclear weapons program, in the next 10 years during which
    they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to
    totally obliterate them.”

    Reply

  12. ... says:

    http://www.juancole.com/
    todays article is a good starting place silver slipper…

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    silver slipper,
    this has been pointed out several times at TWN and elsewhere. I think POA recently provided a link
    to a site giving a literal translation of that speech, but I can`t remember where.
    Here is another link:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/jun/02/comment.usa
    A quote:
    “Ahmadinejad never said them. Farsi speakers have pointed out that he was mistranslated. The Iranian
    president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah
    Khomeini, that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the
    Shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.”

    Reply

  14. silver sliipper says:


    So what was said in farsi? Do you or someone you know speak farsi? Or do you just assume that it was not translated correctly?
    The reason why Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a focus is because it’s leader says that Israel should be defeated. (If there’s another translation for what’s he’s said, please tell me what it is.) That’s not a rational statement from a country’s leader. An irrational leader doesn’t sound like the kind of person who should be carrying a nuclear football as our President does.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    “But now I’m hurling it again, because I think that some men on this blog are
    terrified of a woman who does call it like it is.”
    What terrifies me, Outraged, is not gender related, although this fact is of
    course highly provocative in itself. What really terrifies me is seeing an INDIAN
    who dare to call it like it is.
    And perhaps even more: someone from PHOENIX, where the sherif running the show is
    the infamous Joe Arpaio.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    “I think you make a mistake, Paul, if you see the role of the British Empire in
    black and white (no pun intended); the colonials didn’t.” (WigWag)
    And I don`t. It is of course more complex than that. Two hundred years from now, I
    guess even African historians will regard the British colonization project
    basically as a brutal way of modernizing the continent. Also the Italian fascists
    were excellent road builders; anyone driving in Northern Ethiopia today can confirm
    this.
    “Is it so unreasonable to question whether these prospects [in India] would be as
    bright but for the British Empire?”
    I agree that some of the most positive aspects of India today are unthinkable
    without the British Empire. History is full of ironies.
    On neocons: I think their bad reputation today is well deserved. Using the American
    military as a tool both to dominate and revolutionize the world is not an idea that
    I approve. Their influence over the Bush administration had fatal human, military,
    political and economic consequences.
    And this gets us to JohnH. “Paul Norheim–I don’t know how closely you follow
    American domestic politics.” During the early Bush years and the invasion of Iraq,
    I subscribed on the New York Review of Books, one of the very few excellent sources
    of information and reflexion during these dramatic years. Decades ago the magazine
    was actually one of the main forums for many of those who later became neocons.
    During the Bush years, they criticized the neocon project, the invasion of Iraq and
    the policies of Bush/Cheney in an intelligent and informed way.
    John, I don`t watch US politics and debates as closely as some commenters here, but
    I read the NYT, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and some magazines and blogs more
    or less regularly, besides watching the European version of CNN. Occasionally also
    Rachel Maddow.
    I agree that the influence of the neocons is very regrettable. The “realists” have
    a PR problem; their ideas are rather vague, lacking contours. And a lot of stuff
    can pass as “realism”. Besides: complex approaches are difficult to communicate to
    broader audiences.

    Reply

  17. Outraged American says:

    I think you guys need to lighten up. I call it as I see it and I’ve
    seen a lot.
    I made my life into what it was — worked my way out of poverty
    to what I have now — and, seriously I have never hurled the
    accusation of “anti-feminism” against anyone except for one
    college Physics professor at Amherst, which had just gone from
    being an all -male school, who told me ON THE FIRST DAY that I
    would never be able to pass his class because I didn’t have
    enough math, when all that was required was first semester
    Calculus. I had at that point gone so far past that in math
    courses it was…anti-feminism or just plain anti-woman.
    But now I’m hurling it again, because I think that some men on
    this blog are terrified of a woman who does call it like it is.
    You prefer to natter on and perhaps just hate, in some cavity of
    your id, superid, or whatever, that women can achieve
    somethings you’ve never been able to do, for whatever reason.
    And I’m not judging.
    I know what the fuck I’m typing about in terms of US foreign and
    domestic policy.
    That I choose in your opinion to trivialize it is because the best
    way to reach Americans is through humor. We’re a dumbed
    down population.
    And because when you’ve seen as many pictures of dead kids as
    I have on a daily basis, you kind of just have to back-off and
    appreciate what’s in your own life.
    Not that I’m reaching anyone at this point, but, when I get my
    own radio show, which will be after the possible trip to the
    Middle East, I will use all my accumulated skills to build that
    Mo-Fo into a powerhouse, including my random sense of…what
    some, even on this blog, have called “humor.”
    And then you guys can just sit around and keep banging on,
    though probably not in the physical sense, and instead of
    reaching a much wider public with your well thought-out
    academic nitter-nattering and achieve a whole bunch of
    “change.”
    I sent Steve an email, so you Paul, and Dan, have my email
    address if you want it.
    Kathleen — get that earthquake kit ready! Enough for at least
    a month!

    Reply

  18. Kathleen Grasso Adersen says:

    sanuelburke…thanxoxoxo. I always trust what Scott Ritter says.
    Arun…thanxoxox for mentioning the fatwa….especially considering Iran’s recent proposal that a global system for eliminating nuclear weapons be formed….as for all the bellicosity towards Iran over allegations of secret nuclear weapons….HELLOOOO, anybody home upstairs? What about the fact that UN Weapons Inspectors are on the ground in Iran, as we speak, and that Iran has invited the UN to run the recently discovered facility?
    This is not some unconscious selective inattention on the US’ part…it has to be conscious disinformation…
    JohnH…you’re right about debating being just about winning and not about the facts, these days…it wasn’t always that way…
    I’m old enough to have gone to an all girls’ prep school.. we were on the honor system, in a serious big way…no cheating, plagiarism, improperly attributed sources, etc. As a member of the Debating Team, it was a matter of honor, to be sure that your side of an argument was based on the facts, to the brest of your knowledge..the winner was usually the person with best knowledge and ability to formulate convincing arguments and rebuttals, which requires you to know the other side of the argument… it would have been a matter for expulsion, if anyone knowingly misrepresented the facts, merely to win… it just wasn’t done…The UN Charter, requires that, to be a Member in Good Standing, your representatives cannot knowingly make false statments to the International body… a few names spring to mind here…Bolton, Powell…
    Boy, have things changed.
    Guys, I hate it when we squabble and call names…

    Reply

  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Outraged,
    I addressed and questioned some of your statements
    and writings at TWN, not your activities outside
    this blog.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    this goes right into johnh and paul conversation on coverage as i see it…..
    silver slipper quote “How do we ignore Iran’s claims that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israel should be wiped off the map?” by actually learning what did get said in farsi, as opposed to what the mainstream and lying media told you got said… makes for good script in maintaining the hostility though, and that is indeed what many of the main players want…
    silver slipper do you ever think about how the focus is always about irans nuclear ambitions, but never about israels opaque position with regard to the same???? there are reasons why some stories are told ad museum while others aren’t…

    Reply

  21. Outraged American says:

    Dan and Paul, I’ll ask Steve to give you my email address,
    should you have the courage to receive it.
    easy e not only got it, but also had the courage to meet me, in a
    dark and shady bar, where I had easy access to a dull knife.
    Go for it boys.
    Again, I am up for a trip to the Middle East, so don’t want to
    jeopardize it, because Israel’s new visa restrictions are severe: if
    one goes to both the “Occupied Territories” and Israel “proper.”
    And based on my past anti-Zionist activity, done under an
    assumed name, I would prefer not to be hauled into an Israeli jail
    with 10,000 Palestinian men who’ve been there since 1948.
    But I will tell all in a private email exchange.
    Paul did say that the anti-Zionists are obsessed with Zionism.
    Hands-up, I am.
    We are marching towards World War III, which will be the War to
    End All Wars because of Israel’s control of us. We, and almost
    every other person on Earth, will suffer.
    And Dan, it’s been proven that most Americans get their news
    from comedians – that’s the only way it’s palatable — but for
    me, after having to cover my own and other countries’ atrocities
    for the last five years, the only way I don’t cry is to laugh.
    Emailing Steve now. Dan, (and Paul) you are getting your chance
    to stop kvetching and figure out if I’m lying or not. Take it.

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    i 2nd johnh’s 11:57am comments… and to add to this, the white house and etc seem fond of hiring hollywood type writers to put icing on the cake of fake bs they feel they need to peddle… political discourse in the usa and to an extent here in canada is nothing more then a debate where the facts are way down the list in terms of relevance…

    Reply

  23. JohnH says:

    This piece on the neocon columnist William Safire illustrates my point beautifully:
    http://original.antiwar.com/david-bromwich/2009/09/30/william-safire-wars-made-out-of-words/
    In comparison with Safire, realists avoid public debate and mostly stammer and stutter when they do.

    Reply

  24. silver slipper says:

    I don’t see how it’s possible for the US to establish a rapprochement with Iran without causing hostility with our current allies. And while that seems to be the goal of some posters on this site, it seems ill advised. How do we ignore Iran’s claims that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israel should be wiped off the map? I was taught in history class (many years ago) that the US tried to stay out of world affairs. That foreign world view caused us to not get involved in WWII until we were attacked on Pearl Harbor. At that point, the war had so intensified, we lost many young American men in war, but in the end we and our allies were victorious. Europe remained free. We remained free. I’ve understood that since WWII, we as Americans have been more willing to enter wars with the idea that if we get in quickly it may cause less destruction of life. That philosophy of course was damaged by the Vietnam war, and now we are very indecisive about what any of our foreign policies should be. But to make friends with Iran with the goal that they will only use their nuclear power for peaceful purposes seems far fetched – seeing as Iran’s leader is so irrational.
    The comments about by Norheim are interesting to me. I believe that Britain was exploiting colonies and expanding to new territories for the sake of riches. Just like they wanted to keep America within it’s grasp to continue to tax us like crazy and limit our freedoms. It was for power & riches. I would agree that many people in power originally do want to do good, but power eventually gets to their heads and then it all becomes about them. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I wish that did not apply to our government today. I believe the US republic has been an attempt to avoid corruption by having a system of checks and balances. I believe our system has been severely hampered by the creation of the Federal Reserve and the centralization of our banking. Just think of it. The Federal Reserve benefits no matter what. When we go to war, we borrow from it, and have to pay interest. When we go into a recession, we borrow from it (now for a WAY TOO BIG stimulus package), and we have to pay interest. If the economy improves, then interest rates will go up, and the fed still benefits. The federal reserve is what I believe has become the source of absolute power in our country. And now that we are in financial crisis, it seems our government is willing to sacrifice it’s principles for financial gain – example – Secretary of State Clinton was unwilling to address human rights issues with China because the pressing issue at the time of her visit was to ensure that China bought our bonds to help cover our debt.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    Paul Norheim–I don’t know how closely you follow American domestic politics. Political discourse here resembles an ongoing debate. And if you recall the rules for debating, the goal is to win, to force your opponent off balance. Winning has to do with the ability to convince people of the strength of your argument and the weakness of your opponent’s.
    So far I have said nothing about facts. Facts are just one tool in the arsenal, as good as any plausible assertion. In a debate, you are not scored on accuracy, only on perception. In that regard, political discourse resembles advertising. It’s an exercise in convincing people to buy what your selling.
    I also see many of the debates about foreign affairs in these terms. There is no question that neocons are better debaters. They make their case on extremely plausible grounds. But if you scratch just below the surface, their assertions are usually no more than talking points, often made up. Since no one challenges them, which is usually the case, then they can say just about anything, as long as it passes the plausibility test.
    Compared to neocons, realists are pathetic in their attempts to make their case. I’m not even sure they really try, except behind closed doors where they seem to prefer to operate. As a result, whatever realists and other schools of thought are thinking is a mystery to most Americans. Their view of the world, if it different from that of the neocons, is simply missing in action.
    The leaves the field of American public opinion wide open to framing by neocons and their ilk. And so, we are led to believe that Saddam had WMDs, that Iran is led my mad mullahs, that Afghanistan is more fertile ground for Al Qaeda than elsewhere, that Russia attacked Georgia, that Israel wants peace with Palestinians, etc.
    It’s bad enough that Americans know nothing about foreign affairs. It even more pathetic that public discourse is conducted in away that pays little attention to addressing Americans’ ignorance, but instead tries to warp their minds to whatever agenda the neocons and their ilk are pursuing.

    Reply

  26. WigWag says:

    Nadine and Paul Norheim made two very interesting statements on this thread last night.
    “Well one cheer for acknowledging that the neocons believe in something (actually they believe in quite a few things, since the neocons are what used to be called “liberals”).” (Nadine)
    Nadine is right that necons are what used to be called “liberals.” This is really quite paradoxical. To claim that neocons have more nefarious motives than acolytes of what we now call the left or the isolationist right is absurd. Only the intellectually infirm and the emotionally immature dismiss those who disagree with them by questioning their motives instead of their actual positions. Unfortunately this isn’t a trait limited to many Washington Note readers. There are numerous websites and blogs where neoconservatives congregate, where a quick look at the comment section, reveals equally dismissive and insulting missives about the motivations of those in the majority around here. I guess this is the terrible legacy of institutions like Fox News and MSNBC.
    I’ve been thinking about the neocons ever since Steve Clemon’s provocative post about Irving Kristol last week. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced Nadine is right; Kristol, Podhoretz and the rest didn’t convert from one set of policy views to another; their policy views remained relatively constant; it’s the world around them that changed. For the most part, Kristol and colleagues never rejected the New Deal ideology like conventional conservatives did; they embraced it. What they were unwilling to embrace was the domestic and foreign policy priorities of the “New Left.” To put it another way, they said “yes” to the SEC, the NLRB, the FDIC and Social Security and they said “no” to the “Port Huron Statement.”
    What distinguishes the neocon founders, I think, was their strategic flexibility; flexibility they learned from their days as “Party Members” or “Fellow Travelers.” What they learned from Lenin and Trotsky was how to infiltrate a movement and then capture it from within. This is precisely what the neocons did to the Republican Party. They were willing to affiliate with the traditional, isolationist wing of the Republican Party and the realist wing in order to overwhelm and essentially destroy them.
    The neocons showed much greater strategic flexibility than either the pedantic left or right and that’s why they’ve were victorious. The “realist” Republicans no longer matter and the “isolationist” Republicans hardly exist any more. In fact, the neocon philosophy has become so successful that it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish it from the philosophy of the liberal interventionist Democrats. This is why the progressives in the Democratic Party is so suspicious of Obama’s foreign policy.
    Nadine is right; the “liberals” have won; at least for now. We just don’t call them liberals anymore.
    “Did the advocates of the British Empire really believe that in addition to exploiting the inferior races and their territories, they also helped spreading “civilization” and virtues they attributed to their own race throughout the planet? I believe that many of them believed that they did so.” (Paul Norheim)
    There’s simply no question that the British were brutal racists and that they constantly berated the colonials and exploited them terribly. It’s a truism that the surest way for a colonial administrator to be fired was to be “lamentably deficient in bigotry.” But there’s more to the story than this.
    While some British subjects rebelled constantly and hated London (e.g. the Irish) other subject peoples had a more nuanced relationship with their imperial overlords (the Australians, Kiwis and Indians come to mind).
    At the outset of World War I, the British Army (160,000 men) was dramatically outmanned by the Kaiser’s Army (660,000 men). A few years earlier Bismarck had quipped that “if the British Army invaded the Reich he would send out the police and arrest it.”
    The Kaiser assumed that the colonials would see the onset of War as the perfect time to rebel against their imperial overlords; in fact he counted on it.
    But that’s not what happened. Even though Parliament declared War on Germany without even consulting its imperial subjects, British colonists almost everywhere rallied to defend the Empire. The Irish (who hated the British) fought bravely side by side with British soldiers. The Indians fought with gusto and in huge numbers to defend the British Empire against Germany; even Mahatma Gandhi temporarily put aside his pacifist ways to help recruit Indian troops for the war effort. And we all know about the bravery of Australian troops at Gallipoli.
    I think you make a mistake, Paul, if you see the role of the British Empire in black and white (no pun intended); the colonials didn’t.
    As I may have mentioned before, a great book on the subject is “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire” by Piers Brendon.
    India, is generally recognized as a budding superpower; Indians are justifiably proud of their history, their culture and their prospects.
    Is it so unreasonable to question whether these prospects would be as bright but for the British Empire?

    Reply

  27. questions says:

    Nadine,
    Obama is a U of C-market-preferring-but-realizing-that-markets-fail kind of guy.
    Markets do fail. Markets do need regulation. Rules for all make the system more predictable and easier to negotiate. But rules benefit everyone, and markets still have that core desire for self-aggrandizement. So participants in markets, being the individuals they are, work to game the system. It’s actually quite Darwinian/evolutionary, when you think about it. The system has to respond with new, ummm, antibiotics as the old ones lose their effectiveness.
    Obama is aware of the truly inhumane side of markets — poverty, immiseration, the inability of some to grab any share of anything, the treatment of the ill and infirm, the commodification of every aspect of life such that life becomes simply too expensive for some of us. Think about that notion!
    And the response to the nastier side of individual gaming of lives is an ever-evolving rules regime. Not “socialism vs. capitalism”, but managed competition vs. stupid and self-destructive and wicked pursuit of private desire.
    Read the Republic again. Note the problems with selfishness. Note that the really rich tyrant isn’t very happy, and that the seemingly deprived guardians are happy. Note that getting everything you want doesn’t really help. Wanting less actually does.
    It’s not “socialism.” It’s philosophical awareness of what matters, and it’s game theory/economics awareness of what happens when people take free rein.

    Reply

  28. nadine says:

    Well Paul, what Obama actually believes in is a matter for open debate, as it certainly bears little resemblance to a number of things he said he believed in last year. I hear that a number of big Wall Street honchos, who were persuaded to support him on the grounds that he was a cool, moderate guy who would steer a steady course, are now feeling quite burned. Obama ran as everthing to everybody; many politicians do; but he hid himself to an extraordinary degree, aided by a fawning media.
    As for how socialist Obama is, there are many degrees of socialism between believing in free markets and believing that the government should maintain a monopoly on the means of production. Many statists of the European Socialist variety are content to let private property exist, so long as it is heavily regulated and taxed to support a government regulatory/welfare state that consumes 50% of GDP. It is reasonable to ask just how capitalist any system can be in which every businessman is more dependent on pleasing the politicians in the capital city than he is on pleasing his customers in the marketplace. German business was in such a state of semi-government control by the end of the Weimar republic, and boy, was this a convenience when Hitler became Chancellor.
    Think this is an exaggeration? The Supreme Court has just confirmed that the EPA can regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, and can regulate CO2 “pollution” and “polluters” by regulatory fiat. Emitters of CO2, now classified as polluters to be regulated, include all life on earth and every economic activity. The House Cap and Trade bills and the just-introduced Senate Cap and Trade bill introduce a scheme of carbon emission credits, in essence a secondary currency which will be made necessary to every industry by this legislation. In short, every energy producer or consumer must now pay government to sell him carbon indulgences so he can stay in business! Unless he has friends in high places, in which case he can get them for free and get a big leg up on his competition. If this passes, how will we be different from Weimar Germany?

    Reply

  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine,
    Sure you are a neocon, but when I read you, I am more reminded of the militant trotskist,
    partisan heritage of that movement than the liberal roots.
    I agree with what you said about Nazism.
    “At least the neocons don’t believe that they have been gifted with such acumen as to be
    able to regulate every aspect of the economy on a command basis.”
    Neither do I believe that this is possible. And your propagandistic claim that Obama is a
    socialist doesn`t make sense, because he doesn`t believe in that either. If you stepped
    out of the domestic GOP/Dem context, you would immediately see that Obama is a firm
    believer in capitalism as a system.
    Somewhere above on this thread, you said: “And to all of you on this thread who call
    yourself liberals, why is a hater like arthur never reproached, while I am called a racist
    and all manner of bad names?”
    I usually don`t define myself as a liberal (or anything else for that matter). However, I
    can assure you that before you arrived on this blog, some of us said things to Arthur that
    didn`t make him happy. If you`re in doubt, WigWag may confirm this; Questions too.
    Believe it or not, but even POA occasionally accuses others of anti-semitism. And it`s a
    shame that you didn`t see POA harass a militant Palestinian in several discussions less
    than a year ago, during the bombardment of Gaza. I mention this to inform you that there
    may be less group thinking here than you think.

    Reply

  30. nadine says:

    Paul,
    Well one cheer for acknoledging that the neocons believe in something (actually they believe in quite a few things, since the neocons are what used to be called “liberals”).
    Shall we compare the lies of the neocons to the lies of the socialists? At least the neocons don’t believe that they have been gifted with such acumen as to be able to regulate every aspect of the economy on a command basis. All for the good of the “oppressed”, naturally – not to mention the good of the apparatchiks doing the regulating.
    Certainly the Nazis tapped into real values; they could not have succeeded as a party had they not. They tapped into three powerful ideas which were in the ascendancy in the post WWI period: nationalism, racism, and socialism, forming a National Socialist Party which had racism as one of its central planks.

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    Dan, Obama is losing independent voters. Here are today’s results from the Rasmussen Tracking Poll (Rasmussen got the closest results in the last two Presidential cycles)
    “Overall, 49% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. Fifty-one (51%) disapprove. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Democrats approve while 78% of Republicans disapprove. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 60% disapprove.”
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    Dan, are you unaware that the US Army, Marines and Special Forces are the ones who said that the Irbil Five were Qods Forces? Or that there have been several cases where the US Forces have killed Qods Force officers inside Iraq?
    Are you ignorant of this? Or do you include the US Military among the “right-wingnuts” and just ignore everything they say? That must make it soooo much easier to make your mind up. Just remain ignorant of facts that don’t fit.

    Reply

  33. Paul Norheim says:

    JohnH,
    This is a subject I find very interesting: the psychological aspects of power and
    ideology. You asked about the neocons. You may as well extend it, and ask:
    Did the advocates of the British Empire really believe that in addition to
    exploiting the inferior races and their territories, they also helped spreading
    “civilization” and virtues they attributed to their own race throughout the planet?
    I believe that many of them believed that they did so.
    Of course you often have the naive idealists promoting noble causes on one hand,
    and tough cynics in politics, commercial enterprises and the army doing the “real
    work” on the other hand. There are also a lot of strange paradoxes here. For
    example, the socialists and communists of the 19th and 20th century talked much
    about the fundamental economical realities being imperative, but were often acting
    as if they were idealists. On the other hand, the conservatives have often talked a
    lot about ideals, but been more concerned about hardcore economic realities…
    However, on a very general level, I believe that these tendencies (cynicism and
    idealism) are both present in the minds of many significant players within
    different political systems.
    I think many (not all) powerful people don`t want to see themselves as monsters or
    pure cynics. Many of these people are sentimental as well, a tendency that
    especially goes hand in hand with brutality.
    Also the Nazi ideology contained certain (national) values. Without these values, I
    sincerely doubt that their enterprise would have been so successful, so awful.
    The same applies even more, I believe, to the British and American Empire. And I
    think these values even made it easier to lie. You believe that the American Dream
    and way of life is far superior to the communist societies. This makes it easier to
    lie for the big cause, and think in nasty geopolitical terms concerning prosaic
    issues like oil, deterrence, national security etc.
    I think idealism and values constitute the “oil” that keeps the brutal and prosaic
    machinery going, and that not only the workers, but often also the owners of the
    machine believe in those values. In psychological terms, the values provide them
    with a certain dignity, confidence and convictions while they do the dirty work.
    Yes, I believe that some of the neocons, and also George W. Bush, had idealistic
    motives in addition to power, energy and hegemony. To implement something really
    big, you have to sell it to the public. But you also have to sell it to yourself.
    This was the basic trick of Fukuyama`s theory about end of history: Capitalism,
    democracy and peace are three aspects of the same phenomenon: the triumph of the
    West. Greed is good. Greed promotes peace and democracy.

    Reply

  34. Dan Kervick says:

    If you’re so serious about saving the world from Zionists why don’t you stop acting like such a damn clown? I’ll take Paul’s well thought-out reflections from the fjords over your stream-of-incoherence gonzo ramblings any day.
    Paul has been here for a long time, producing comments at least slightly above the level of Chelsea Lately, and doesn’t need to prove his bona fides to a catty joker like you.
    You keep bragging about all these amazing world-saving interviews you’ve done after you sacrificed Tinseltown gossip glory for the saintly anti-Zionist desert crusade. Please show me where to find them so that I too can feel the mighty foundations of Zionism crumbling.

    Reply

  35. JohnH says:

    Norheim–you talk above about “neocon values” including freedom and democracy. I consider those “values” to be nothing more than noble rhetoric, talking points to sell their very undemocratic, inhumane policies to a gullible public? Do you think they actually believe what they say?
    Personally, after the pack of lies that the neocons sold us about Iraq, I would never trust anything any neocon said, particularly if it implied noble intentions.

    Reply

  36. ... says:

    outraged american – there are very few reasons for me to support wigwag, but his view on you is something i am close to sharing..
    i have always found paul a thoughtful considerate poster here.. the fact you are suggesting crap that isn’t true is a poor reflection of your character..

    Reply

  37. Paul Norheim says:

    Outraged,
    I think I get it now.
    Non-Americans like me are sitting comfortably in a boat on the fjord, and should
    have the decency to shut up. On the other hand we have Mother Theresa`s like you
    and samuelburke, real American citizens, regularly cutting and pasting a dozen
    anti-zionist articles a day; typing a dozen of associative rants about your
    satanist neighbor and your dogs — hard, unpaid work in an effort to prevent
    World War III.
    I`m impressed and humbled by watching your heroic efforts. Speaking about
    schutzpah, you`re the first person at The Washington Note who have consistently
    asked me to shut up on the Iran issue and Israel due to my nationality.

    Reply

  38. Outraged American says:

    Norheim, because I covered both Haim Saban and his stated goal
    of turning European media pro-Israel. He boasted it about it to
    the New York Times, and if I weren’t about to pass out I would
    go look up the article.
    I also worked for the fucker, for literally one day, then quit.
    I also covered the new Israel lobby in the EU, which has been
    incredibly effective, as evidenced by the fact that US intelligence
    agencies are being sane while the Europeans are being rabid pit
    bulls about Iran.
    Your posting does seem like an academic exercise, but an attack
    on Iran will not be an academic exercise for anyone in the US,
    Iran, and who knows where else.
    The US is on her knees, subjected to the whims of the rogue,
    apartheid, terrorist state of Israel, and yet you, in your boat on
    the fjord, think you can lecture us about Zionism.
    I don’t know if “chutzpah” is a purely Yiddish word, or if it has
    its roots in German, but that’s exactly what you’re exhibiting.

    Reply

  39. JohnH says:

    Wigwag–your whole assessment of Iran seems to revolve around the basic assumption that “the leaders of Iran are still religious fanatics burning with ideological grievances…There’s no sign that they seek moderation and like all religious zealots (including Christian, Jewish Sunni Muslim and Hindu) only a fool would trust them.” You consider your opinion to be indisputable.
    Yet your opinion is open to considerable dispute. In fact, it is the CONSENSUS OPINION of the US intelligence community, published in the NIE, that the Iranian leadership consists of rational actors. If the US intelligence community is correct, as I believe, then Leverett and Mann’s proposal makes good sense.
    Maybe you could provide some evidence as to why you think Ahmadinejad is any more a religious zealot than, say, Netanyahu.

    Reply

  40. Paul Norheim says:

    “And Norheim, if you hate anti-Zionists as much as you claim to,
    start a pro-Israel lobby in Norway — although there probably is
    one already.
    I’m not joking on this one –”
    ————————————————————–
    Outraged, do you really believe in the crap you`re typing here?
    And if not, why the hell are you saying it? I don`t mind reading your jokes about me
    having lice in my beard, but you should be familiar with my opinions on issues like
    the Middle East and the Israeli government.
    You seem to interpret “free speech” as if anything goes. I would have tolerated it if
    this was some kind of internal discussion forum where everybody knew the positions of
    the respective commenters. But TWN readers who may not be familiar with what you or I
    have said about Israel in the past, may believe in your and samuelburke`s claim that
    I defend the actions of the Israeli government.
    Both of you know very well that this is not true.

    Reply

  41. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    you were less generous than I expected last time I enquired you, and much more
    generous and precise in your answer this time than I had expected. Thanks, I
    appreciate that.
    As for your “ambivalence” on Iran, I`ve noticed it, and do not expect that you`ve said
    the last word on this issue. I would also like to remind you of what I said in one of
    our discussions several months ago (regarding the Iranian unrest and the opposition
    after the election): The Iranian revolution against the Shah in 1979 lasted for 6-12
    months – on and off…
    “When speaking about Iraq, Colin Powell, who’s no neoconservative, got it right when
    he said “if you break it, you own it.” The United States broke Afghanistan (…) I
    think the United States is ethically responsible to fix what it broke; no matter how
    long it takes and what the costs to America are.”
    This is a good example of what I meant last time, when I said that on some issues,
    your insistence on certain ethical principles go far beyond any realistic or pragmatic
    considerations.
    I agree with Powell: If you break it, you own it. But let`s assume that it is
    sometimes impossible to repair what you`ve destroyed? Let`s assume that what Bush set
    in motion when he invaded Iraq, or Carter/Brzezinski by supporting the Mujahedin in
    Afghanistan back in those days, both have it`s own dynamics (which history clearly has
    demonstrated), some of which are difficult or impossible to control? If you still
    insist on “fixing it” in such circumstances, you may end up continuing to break it,
    increasing the cost both to America and Afghanistan – despite the morally impeccable
    intentions motivating you.
    If you don`t insert a dose of realism and pragmatism – searching for a compromise
    between fixing it and washing your hands – your “ethical responsibility” will simply
    lead to more destruction.
    To be honest, I think you realize this. I think you are more in line with Kotzabasis
    on this issue, seeing Afghanistan as a part of a bigger scenario: Fighting militant
    islamism and defending western values, regardless of the costs.

    Reply

  42. Outraged American says:

    Well, Kennedy didn’t save a drowning woman, who he probably
    just did the nasty with, but that’s no reason to question his
    moral compass.
    Jerusalem is the third most sacred place in Islamic mythology,
    because the Dome of the Rock is where the Prophet ascended
    into Heaven. I doubt the Iranians are going to bomb their
    Disneyland.
    This is all a joke. A tragic joke for everyone who has to suffer
    the tremendous pain of losing someone they love deeply to
    UsRael and now EuroIsRael bombs.
    A joke for Americans because we can’t get single payer health
    care, but can gladly fund killing innocents for Israel.
    We have spent $12,000 on our health insurance this year, and
    paid $90,000 in taxes last year and have nothing to show for it
    beyond a few hundred thousand corpses strewn around Iraq,
    Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip and Pakistan. And I haven’t even
    been to a doctor or dentist yet this year.
    GET ISRAEL OUT OF US FOREIGN POLICY.
    And Norheim, if you hate anti-Zionists as much as you claim to,
    start a pro-Israel lobby in Norway — although there probably is
    one already.
    I’m not joking on this one — Israel started a lobby in the EU,
    and it’s been very effective, as evidenced by the Germans and
    the French being the harshest bitches on Iran.

    Reply

  43. Arun says:

    Around August 2005, the “Mad Mullah” Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, actually issued a fatwa stating that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons is against Islam.
    I can’t imagine, e.g., a US President saying that the production of nuclear weapons is against the Constitution (or a Bush-like President opining that nuclear weapons violate the spirit of the New Testament).
    What I’d really like is the authors of thewashingtonnote to tell us more about that fatwa. The information I can find is limited. In particular, the reasoning behind the opinion that nuclear weapons are against Islam, the reaction among the other Ayatollahs, and so on would be interesting to know. Are there any loopholes in the fatwa? (e.g., if “enemies of Islam” have nukes then nukes become legitimate in Islam?)
    And so on. I really wish I had a facility with languages so I could read the original Persian sources. But surely thewashingtonnote.com knows people who can provide information. And Iran is not a North Korea which is an information blackhole.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    Sorry, Nadine, but regarding the Irbil Five, I think that you are a victim of wingnut conspiracy theories hyped by folks like the Mujahedeen Al-Khlaq and the National Review, and then passed around dutifully by right-wing bloggers.
    The Iraqis – you know, the Iraqi government, *our* side in the Iraq War – have claimed from the beginning that the Irbil Five were in the country legitimately, that a botched US raid got the wrong guys, and that the US was too embarrassed to admit it. The government, even under Bush, had been looking for some time for a convenient time to let them go quietly without having to eat a lot of crow in public.
    The people who are up in arms about the Irbil Five are the same Ledeenite nincompoops who think the Quds force and Tehran are the “godfathers of Al Qaeda”, and the world’s “terror masters”, and have been promoting fables about Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of our 2001 adventure, fables which have been debunked by experts and high-ranking military leaders about as quickly as they are spread.
    I don’t think you appreciate how utterly ridiculous the neocons have become. Nobody believes a word they say anymore, given their well-documented track record of stupidity, lies and confusion.
    I’m not tone deaf. I can hear every screechy, whiny, tinny, predictable note in the Republican hit parade of woe. Obama is still popular. It’s not independents who don’t like him: it’s Republicans – the same jokers who didn’t vote for him in the first place. But Obama can’t worry about looking like the cute and humble little black neighbor boy to all those put-out Republican fussbudgets. The Republicans also didn’t like Kennedy, with his suave comportment, well-fitting suits, confident tone, smart friends and Camelot allures. Whenever any political leader has charisma, his opponents bitch about it. That comes with the territory. To his supporters, it just looks like the natural equipment of leadership.
    Obama, like every politician in the world, says stuff like this: “I’ve got a plan; I’m going to try to implement my plan; I think the paln is good for the country.”
    His enemies are, of course, aghast: Who does this buck think he is? Ideas!? A plan?! Good for us?! The arrogance of it all! What does he think he is, a messiah?! I don’t support his plan, and how *dare* he think his plan is better for the country than my obstreperous opposition to his plan!

    Reply

  45. WigWag says:

    “I would suggest that you’re close to Kristol père on the Iraq invasion (not very enthusiastic), and Kristol fil on a confrontation with Iran. I’m not talking about the tactical aspects, but the underlying values as expressed by the neocons freedom, democracy, US/Western hegemony etc). Any comment?” (Paul Norheim)
    I am happy to comment, Paul.
    I disagree with the neocons more often than I agree with them.
    Afghanistan
    Back in the 1970s when Carter and Brzezinski made the decision to fund the Mujahadeen, support them with covert help from the CIA and withdraw the United States from the Olympics, I thought it was a terrible idea and I thought the Cold War mentality that pervaded the Carter Administration was way over the top. The people who became the neocons were still mostly Democrats back then, but had the neoconservative movement existed at the time, I imagine it would have supported Carter’s Afghanistan quest; I didn’t.
    The neocons support a continuing and expanding role for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan; I agree with them but not for precisely the same reasons. When speaking about Iraq, Colin Powell, who’s no neoconservative, got it right when he said “if you break it, you own it.” The United States broke Afghanistan, or to be more precise, Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brzezinski did. In light of this, I think the United States is ethically responsible to fix what it broke; no matter how long it takes and what the costs to America are. After empowering the Taliban by backing the Mujahadeen, the United States can’t simply wash its hands of the situation and tell Afghan girls and women to put the veils back on, stop learning to read and forget about leaving the house without asking the husband first.
    Iraq
    The neocons supported the invasion of Iraq; I opposed it. My opinion was that both Israel and the West in general were safer, not less safe because of the competition between Iran and Iraq. At the time I agreed with Peter Galbraith’s assessment of the Iraqi situation and I still do. It should have been obvious to everyone that the Iraq invasion would empower the clerical establishment in both the Sunni and Shia communities. To reach this conclusion all anyone needed to do was examine what was happening in the broader Islamic World. In my opinion the neocons blew this one and blew it badly.
    NATO Expansion
    The neocons favor additional expansion of NATO, I oppose it.
    Kosovo
    The neocons and just about everyone else in the American foreign policy establishment supported the recognition of Kosovo; I didn’t and still don’t.
    On Russia
    The neocons are very skeptical about Russian intentions; I’m not. I appreciate the fact that when it comes to Russia; “what you see is what you get” Unlike the neocons, I’m glad that Obama gave up on the missile shield (I just wish he hadn’t been quite so dismissive of the Poles and the Czechs) and I think he should be prepared to do deals with Russia on a whole variety of matters. I’m sure that neocons would find this position outrageous.
    On Cuba
    The neocons are almost certainly hesitant to see the Obama Administration open up to Cuba too rapidly. I would be just fine with trading ambassadors with Cuba tomorrow. For kindly putting up with all of us crackpots at the Washington Note; I think it would be great if Steve Clemons could spend his Christmas vacation on the beach in Havana.
    On Iran
    Most neocons today probably wish George Bush had invaded Iran instead of Iraq. The neocons favor an attack by Israel, the United States or preferably both on putative Iranian nuclear installations. The neocons don’t think a nuclear armed Iran can be deterred.
    I do think Iran can be deterred and am at best ambivalent about a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. I’m skeptical that a bombing campaign will have a long term effect on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and worry that it will make those ambitions more acute rather than less acute. I agree with Ehud Barak when he says that Iranian nukes aren’t an existential threat to Israel. Unlike the neocons, I also think that competition between a nuclear armed Iran and frightened and angry Sunni Arab states can be a net plus for Israel and the United States.
    As of late, my thinking about Iran has begun to change.
    I am impressed with the tenacity and commitment of the freedom fighters defying the Mullahs in Iran. I think the United States should be assisting these freedom fighters to overthrow the Mullahs and take control of the Iranian Government. Were this to occur it would be good for the entire world; it would be great for the Iranian people, and it would be excellent news for the Palestinians and the Israelis. It would certainly be good for the United States. I worry that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons it would be somewhat harder for the United States to assist groups that I hope will start an insurgency against their captors in Iran. Thus I am more reluctant than I previously was for the United States to do anything that shows acquiescence to potential Iranian nukes. The more regime change looks like a realistic option in Iran the more anxious I am for Iran not to get nuclear weapons and the more open I become to military strikes.
    On International Institutions
    I’m not quite as skeptical as the neocons are about international institutions like the U.N., but nonetheless, I am very wary of the legitimacy and value of these institutions.
    On International Law
    I am a neocon on this issue.
    I hope that you find this comment responsive to your question, Paul.

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    Dan, according to the US Army, the Irbil five weren’t just any old intelligence operatives, but Qods Forces officers who were training the Iraqi insurgents in the use of shaped explosives. That goes beyond routine espionage, I think you will agree. They worked for the guy who is now Iran’s Defense Minister, Vahidi, the one who is a terrorist wanted by Interpol for ordering the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenes Aires.
    Your defensiveness on conservative reactions to Obama is tone-deaf. Jay Cost is far from a reflexive right-winger. Obama is losing the independents who put him into office. If he doesn’t wise up to the strength of popular opinion he will lose the Congress like Clinton did in 1994, and for the same reason, way over-estimating the size of his liberal mandate.
    Obama took over the banks far beyond the initial design of TARP (and wants even more control), took over GM and Chrysler outright, and wants to take over the US health care system. Oh, I forgot, he also wants to federally regulate the entire energy industry via Cap and Trade, down to federally imposed energy audits of your house.
    It isn’t just the right-wingers who think he’s a socialist. The day after Obama nationalized GM, Hugo Chavez was joking on Venezualan TV about “Comrade Obama” adding, “Fidel, you and I had better watch out, or we’ll wind up to the right of this guy.”

    Reply

  47. samuelburke says:

    Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter discusses the overblown “gotcha” revelation of the “secret” Iranian nuclear facility, how the wonkish debate over IAEA Additional Protocol minutiae turned into accusations that Iran is building nukes, the secret Saudi, U.K. and U.S. funding of opposition candidates in the Iranian election and the likely disastrous results of a war with IrAN
    http://antiwar.com/radio/2009/09/30/scott-ritter-9/
    Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer and a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq. He writes for truthdig.com and is the author of numerous books, including Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement and Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change

    Reply

  48. Paul Norheim says:

    Compared to Nadine, John Bolton and Richard Perle are doves and cowards.
    If Nadine had been an advisor for the White House, there can be no doubt that she
    would recommend a confrontational approach towards Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan,
    Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Russia, Belarus, China, Venezuela,
    Nicaragua, Cuba and several other rogue states and freedom-hating regimes
    conspiring to exterminate the Jews and the Americans.
    And if her recommendations were listened to and implemented, The United States
    would quickly be involved in so many wars, occupations and crippling sanctions that
    it would collapse within months.

    Reply

  49. Outraged American says:

    According to the Washington Post the Israeli company Odigo
    received advance warning of 9/11.
    Washington Post, “Instant Messages to Israel Warned of WTC
    attack”, 27 September 2001
    Why “Radical Islamic Terrorists” would want to warn Israelis
    before 9/11 and also warn Bibi Netanyahu before the London
    7/7 attacks, baffles me. Well, not really, because Netanyahu did
    say that 9/11 was a good day for Israel.
    Netanyahu was being typically humble though because 9/11 was
    a REALLY good day for Israel — Ferris Buehler’s Day Off for an
    entire country, which allowed Israel to continue her US funded
    slaughter across an entire region, with another country, Iran,
    son to be led to the altar of Zionism.
    We, the US, are taking out Israel’s enemies, sometimes two at a
    time (think the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in 2006) and yet we
    can’t be honest – -it’s like when the kids get an owie and moan
    about it until I sell them to the ice cream man.
    Jews had a hard time. So did many other groups including my
    direct ancestors, including my parents. Suck it up and stop
    trying to suck the world down your own Zion-centric vortex.

    Reply

  50. Outraged American says:

    According to the Washington Post the Israeli company Odigo
    received advance warning of 9/11.
    Washington Post, “Instant Messages to Israel Warned of WTC
    attack”, 27 September 2001
    Why “Radical Islamic Terrorists” would want to warn Israelis
    before 9/11 and also warn Bibi Netanyahu before the London
    7/7 attacks, baffles me. Well, not really, because Netanyahu did
    say that 9/11 was a good day for Israel.
    Netanyahu was being typically humble though because 9/11 was
    a REALLY good day for Israel — Ferris Buehler’s Day Off for an
    entire country, which allowed Israel to continue her US funded
    slaughter across an entire region, with another country, Iran,
    son to be led to the altar of Zionism.
    We, the US, are taking out Israel’s enemies, sometimes two at a
    time (think the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in 2006) and yet we
    can’t be honest – -it’s like when the kids get an owie and moan
    about it until I sell them to the ice cream man.
    Jews had a hard time. So did many other groups including my
    direct ancestors, including my parents. Suck it up and stop
    trying to suck the world down your own Zio-centric vortex.

    Reply

  51. arthurdecco says:

    Nadine, Here’s some facts to replace your usual hyperbole and flat out lies:
    Miami Herald makes up story on Zelaya, Washington Post and New York Times spread it
    http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2009/09/miami-herald-makes-up-story-on-zelaya.html
    By Wayne Madsen
    Online Journal
    September 29, 2009
    WMR usually does not comment on propaganda masked as news emitted daily by the corporate media, but the September 24 report in the Miami Herald deserves to be panned for its flagrant attempt to portray ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as a foolish “conspiracy theorist.”
    After sneaking back into Honduras with the help of loyal elements in the Honduran military, Zelaya has been besieged by Honduran police and military forces inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. The Honduran junta has sporadically cut off electricity, water, and food supplies to the embassy, a violation of international law on the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
    The Herald reported on a telephone interview with Zelaya and said the Honduran leader said he was being subjected to “high-frequency radiation” from Israeli mercenaries who are supporting the Honduran junta. The paper also reported that Zelaya said that the Israelis were using “mind-altering” gas and radiation. In actuality, that is not what Zelaya stated in his conversation on September 24 with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was attending the UN General Assembly session in New York. Chavez said he spoke to Zelaya by phone at 1:00 pm EDT and the Honduran leader said a piece of equipment on the rooftop of a neighboring home had been recovered and brought into the embassy by Zelaya loyalists. When Zelaya checked the gear’s serial number on the Internet, it turned out the equipment was a cell phone jamming device manufactured in Israel.
    What Zelaya stated to Chavez and presumably to the Miami Herald is that the junta and its Israeli private security company advisers were jamming the cell phones of those holed up inside the embassy. Zelaya never spoke of radiation death rays but that is the impression the Herald gave and it was quickly picked up by various neocon and Zionist-controlled media outlets, including the usual suspects that continuously debase this web publication, to describe Zelaya as an anti-Semitic lunatic. The same tactics by the neocon media have been used to mask propaganda as news in falsely reporting on comments and actions of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. The neocon blogosphere and the George Soros-funded faux progressive outlets were all quick to claim that Zelaya’s “mental state” justified the military coup against him in June.
    In a September 25 editorial, the Washington Post, controlled by neoconservative and pro-Israeli interests in the same fashion as the Miami Herald is controlled by right-wing Cuban exile interests, Latin American oligarchs, and Miami’s large Zionist Jewish community, deviously fed off the Herald’s unsubstantiated report on Zelaya’s comments by lending credence to the myth of Israeli “ray beams” and “poison gas.” The Post, echoing its co-ideologists at the Herald, wrote that Zelaya was “reduced to making hysterical accusations about being bombarded with radiation and toxic gases by ‘Israeli mercenaries.'” Zelaya and Chavez are constantly attacked by both papers while they hold up Colombia’s narco-terrorist President Alvaro Uribe as a shining example of democracy.
    The New York Times also got into the act in a September 25 story in which it claimed Zelaya made his “outrageous” statements about Israeli commandos planning to assassinate him and the Herald’s “poison gas and radiation” canard in phone calls to the Radio Globo station in Honduras. However, the Herald’s contributing reporter told this editor in New York that Zelaya made his claims in two telephone interviews conducted exclusively with the Miami Herald. The reason for the difference between the Herald, Post, and Times reports is clear: the Zelaya statement is not true but a propaganda operation that resulted in different slants on the same concocted story about “poison gas and radiation.” El Pais of Spain also reported on an interview with Zelaya in which there were no claims made by Zelaya of mind-altering beams or poison gas.
    The Herald also reported that Zelaya told them that he was being subjected to toxic gases. In fact, the Honduran military has used tear gas to disperse the crowds of Zelaya supporters outside the embassy grounds and the tear had wafted into the embassy through the windows and air conditioning system, resulting in breathing problems for Zelaya, the Brazilian diplomatic staff, and Zelaya’s family and supporters.
    One of the Herald’s only true reports is from eyewitnesses outside the embassy who said that the Honduran military used a high-pitched sonic device on the embassy. Such sonic weapons have also been used by police and military forces against protesters at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
    It is also factual that an Israeli security company was hired by the coup leaders in June to train Honduran police how to handle pro-Zelaya protesters on the streets. The charge of Israeli involvement was made by Andres Pavon, the head of Honduras’s human rights committee. There are reports that the Israeli company operating on behalf of the coup leaders is Delta Security. Israeli military advisers have been in Honduras since the 1980s when they arrived in the country with the approval of then-US ambassador John Negroponte to train Nicaraguan contra guerrillas based in the country. The Israelis also trained Honduran military units, as well as paramilitary death squads. The Israeli Likud support for the Hondurans and contras earned the condemnation of Yitzhak Rabin, who would later become prime minister of Israel and the first Israeli leader to die from an assassin’s bullet — a Binyamin Netanyahu supporter’s bullet. Rabin told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “What do we have with Honduras? , , , Israel’s military interference in Central America only complicates and damages her position, image, and her interests with the few friends she still has.”
    Two Israeli companies — NetLine Communications Inc., headquartered on Menachem Begin Street in Tel Aviv, and Special Electronics Security Products — are leading manufacturers of cell phone jamming equipment used by police and military forces around the world. NetLine manufactures a remote-controlled cell phone jammer that jams all cell phone standards simultaneously, including GSM, CDMA, TDMA, and Nextel. There are reports that what was found on the roof of the building next to the Brazilian embassy was a C-Guard cell phone jammer manufactured by NetLine of Tel Aviv.
    WMR can report that the Miami Herald story about Zelaya being subjected to ‘mind-altering’ rays was the product of a New York-based Israeli propaganda network that acts in lockstep with the Israeli government on every occasion when Israel is caught involved in foreign adventurism and espionage. The Miami Herald, which employs a number of Spanish-speaking reporters, did not verify that Zelaya’s words were translated correctly from Spanish to English but the tactic being used against Zelaya is familiar Israeli propaganda. A Mossad front in Washington called the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is well-known for mistranslating the comments of Arab leaders, as well as Iran’s Ahmadinejad and feeding the mistranslations to the corporate media, which avidly reports on the translations as factual news items.
    Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
    Copyright 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

    Reply

  52. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry,
    when I referred to “the iran/Afghanistan discussion
    on the tread below”, I meant: on this thread. (I
    first thought of posting the comment on the
    Eisenhower thread, and forgot to change it)

    Reply

  53. Paul Norheim says:

    “Anyway, it’s extraordinary how much the neocons led by the late Irving Kristol and
    Norman Podhoretz have captured the foreign policy agenda of the Republicans; the days
    of Republicans worrying about the military industrial complex or pursuing policies like
    detente are long gone.” (WigWag on the Eisenhower thread above)
    WigWag, apropos the Kristols etc. – do you yourself see any difference between the
    arguments you provide in the Iran/Afghanistan discussion on the thread below, and the
    ideology of people like Bill Kristol, the Kagan brothers, and Wolfowitz?
    I can`t detect any significant difference with regard to value issues and strategy. You
    may be a liberal or a leftist on many domestic issues, but on Iran and Afghanistan, you
    seem to be neither close to a realist nor a “liberal interventionist” approach, and
    more of a neocon – i.e. a typical Republican of today (and not of the Eisenhower or
    Nixon days).
    I would suggest that you`re close to Kristol père on the Iraq invasion (not very
    enthusiastic), and Kristol fil on a confrontation with Iran. I`m not talking about the
    tactical aspects, but the underlying values as expressed by the neocons (freedom,
    democracy, US/Western hegemony etc).
    Any comment?

    Reply

  54. Dan Kervick says:

    “Look at the Iranian economy, it’s terrible.”
    True enough, Nadine. But that does nothing to rebut the clear evidence that Iran has been very eager to expand its foreign trade over the past decade, or to substantiate your crazy claim that the mullahs have all the trade they need and don’t care about their economy.
    By the way, Iran signed a memorandum of understanding with Iraq earlier this year to boost trade between the two countries to $10 billion by the end of 2010. For several years, Iran has been invested in the security of the new Iraq, and their chief aim there has been to stabilize the government, prevent a long-term US occupation of a neighboring state, and prevent the return to power of of the minority Sunni clique that ruled under Saddam.
    The Irbil five, whom the US has now released, were low-level Iranian intelligence operatives in Iraq. No doubt many countries have operatives in Iraq as they pursue their interests. I’m not sure why you think this is a major deal. But I’ll make you a deal. If you want to get real about chasing all the Israeli intelligence operatives out of the US, I’ll take more interest in chasing all the Iranian operatives out of Iraq.
    Here is an older 2007 assessment of Iranian Foreign policy from the Army War College publication Parameters.
    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/07summer/bahgat.htm
    But you can find several more recent reports as well, reports that tell similar stories. Your “realistic” view of Iran seems to be based on comic books and action movies. Maybe you can get Jerry Bruckheimer to give us his intelligence assessment.
    When he isn’t analyzing data, Jay Cost’s free-form opinions aren’t impressive. Like a whole bunch of other right-leaners, he is miffed and threatened by Obama’s charisma and popularity, and so makes goofy anti-republican mountains out of plain old politico baby-kissing, salesmanship and charm. The pathetic silliness is captured by this paragraph from the article you cite:
    “That “Progress” picture is easily the most non-republican of the bunch. The image suggests that Obama’s campaign is somehow a source of goodness for the people. From a republican standpoint, the imagery in the picture should be reversed, with the people being the source of goodness from which the candidate benefits.”
    Um … yeah Jay. It’s so unusual for politicians to suggest their campaigns are sources of goodness for the people.
    And it’s no surprise that Cost likes the nutty Gerson column. It turns out most Republicans don’t like Obama, and find him arrogant and uppity. They think he is a nasty black socialist, and so are offended whenever he acts confident, whenever he doesn’t grovel before them, and whenever he dares to indicate that he is actually planning to change some things about the stupid Bushian red state craptocracy he was bequeathed. These folks are hypersensitive nuts who can’t get over the fact that Obama was elected, and as far as I’m concerned they can read it and weep. If Obama isn’t making loyal Republicans gnash their teeth and complain that he’s “too popular”, then he’s not trying hard enough.

    Reply

  55. nadine says:

    Dan,
    On a different topic: You were surprised I found Obama’s speech to the UN narcissistic. I was not alone in that. Lots of conservatives caught the undertone of “America used to do bad things, but then I came and corrected it” – Obama’s only praise for America was for America under his administration.
    Here is a good column from Jay Cost. Jay is an unpolemic writer who spends most of his time analyzing the results of polls, which he does very well. But he has a persistent problem with Obama’s grandiosity.
    Does Obama Have a Republican Problem?
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2009/09/does_obama_have_a_republican_p_1.html

    Reply

  56. JohnH says:

    Wigwag–as usual, you have totally misread my point. If you want to help women, children, gays and oppressed minorities, you don’t do it by sanctions and devastating military campaigns. As OA notes, you seem to think that “the best way to fix that pesky Iranian head scarf issue is to kill a few million Iranian women.”
    Now instead of simply repeating the nonsense you hear on TV, you might want to get some facts about Iran:
    “In three decades the regime has come close to eliminating illiteracy among the most-revolutionary generations, reducing the overall rate from 53 percent to 15 percent. The rate among women has fallen from 65 percent to 20 percent. The state has increased the number of students enrolled in primary schools from 4,768,000 to 5,700,000, in secondary schools from 2.1 million to over 7.6 million, in technical schools from 201,000 to 509,000, and in universities from 154,000 to over 1.5 million. The percentage of women in university student populations has gone up from 30 percent to 62 percent. Thanks to medical clinics, life expectancy at birth has increased from 56 to 70, and infant mortality has decreased from 104 to 25 per 1,000. Also thanks to medical clinics, the birth rate has fallen from an all-time high of 3.2 to 2.1, and the fertility rate—the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime—from 7 to 3. It is expected to fall further to 2 by 2012—in other words, Iran in the near future will achieve near zero population growth.”
    All in all, it sounds like women have done pretty well in the last 30 years. 62% of university populations are women!
    http://www.merip.org/mer/mer250/abrahamian.html
    But, wait, it gets better. Iran reduced their military budgets from 18% of GDP under the US backed Shah to 4%, despite being under constant threat and sanctions from the US. Per capita income is above average, despite sanctions. In fact, it’s about the same as Mexico, Uruguay and Puerto Rico. And Iran’s Ginni index is better than the US. So it’s ridiculous to claim that the mullahs don’t care about their economy or their people.
    I encourage you to read the whole article. It lays waste to your claims that the mullahs are as bad as the US backed dictators you mention.
    Oh, and as for Afghan women, show me where they’re better off after 8 years of war. That’s just more neocon nonsense.

    Reply

  57. ... says:

    wigwag, it seems to me johnh would neither support a regime as barbaric as the iranian or the israeli one… perhaps you are different, but i think most of us here see thru the attempts of some to suggest all is well in some places but not others….
    according to some it seems their is nothing a military intervention can’t do to help change it all… their are those of use who view this very differently as well… too bad some folks seem to have learned nothing from the usa’s actions of the past 8 years, to say nothing of the past stretching out further..
    reproachment instead of engagement seems to be a trait of many of the commentators here as well…
    kotz, take it away…

    Reply

  58. Outraged American says:

    Nadine, Wig and Questions should start a comedy troupe-
    they’re the Marx brothers with Apache gunship helicopters and
    DIME weapons to force their CAPTIVE audiences to laugh when
    one of them makes what must be a joke like this:
    Nadine quote, “Wigwag, you sound like an old fashioned liberal
    who cares about freedom and human rights.”
    While I hate to call anyone a “depraved sociopath” –beyond the
    Catholic Archbishop of Phoenix who lives down the street and
    my younger sister (who did meet the Pope twice, and is “pro-
    life,” but wouldn’t cross the street to help a dying baby, unless
    it was black or Mexican, in which case my sister would stomp on
    its head to make sure it didn’t grow up and procreate) — to try
    to persuade Wig that she herself cares about freedom and
    human rights when there is all evidence to the contrary, does
    border on the very comically insane.
    Without the three of you, Questions, Wig Wag and Nadine, my
    life would be empty and devoid of humor or purpose. Thanks,
    and I mean that.

    Reply

  59. nadine says:

    Dan, Iran has been sustained by rising oil prices, and is now being badly hurt by falling oil prices. Look at the Iranian economy, it’s terrible. They are rationing gasoline, in an oil-producing country! They send hundreds of millions of dollars abroad to finance Hizbullah, Hamas and others. If you don’t think I’m right about Iran’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan, I suggest you ask the US Army who the Irbil Five are and what they were doing in Iraq, or how Iraqi insurgents got hold of shaped charges and learned to use them.
    The point is, to have a realist diplomacy that actually is realistic, you have to look at affairs from the other guys viewpoint based on what he has been saying and doing, not on your rosy assumptions. Moussavi has long wished for better relations with the West. If he got in, things might change. But Khamenei and Ahmedinejad have the relations they want, which is enmity.

    Reply

  60. nadine says:

    Wigwag, you sound like an old fashioned liberal who cares about freedom and human rights. Good on you. But I’m afraid that puts you sorely out of step with modern liberals, who, having taken as an act of faith that everybody is rational and wants to find a peaceful solution, have lost the ability to tell the tyrants from those who yearn for freedom. Thus they always sell out the democracy promoters in their eagerness to make a deal, any deal, with the tyrants.
    Like you say, you can promote human rights and make a deal with tyrants if you see an opening for moderation. It’s when you play games of ‘let’s pretend’ that you sell out the democrats. Is Leverett even pretending that Ahmedinejad is moderating, as his thugs kill, torture and rape protesters by the hundreds and thousands? Does Leverett suggest it is the job of the US president to say a good word for the protesters?
    Not a bit of it. Obama is firmly anti-freedom so far, and so are his apologists:
    Iranian demonstrators against Ahmedinejad. Gotta engage, gotta engage.
    Poland, Czech Republic, Georgia against Russia Did we get anything for dumping them, at least? I’m still looking. Don’t tell me Russian support for sanctions against Iran because they ain’t happening.
    Honduras, where State is supporting the crazy Chavenista, who’s holed up in the Brazilian embassy complaining of Zionist conspiracies, against the supporters of the Honduran constitution.
    Show me where Obama, or Clemons his apologist, has sided with the democrats against the tyrants. Doesn’t happen. Obama’s instincts are pro-tyrant because they are anti-conflict at all costs.

    Reply

  61. jonst says:

    Wig-Wag wrote: “…..negotiations with Iran strengthen the ruling clique.”
    I, for one, anyway, am not convinced you are automatically correct about that. I can certainly conceive of scenarios where what you assert could be proven true. But I can also conceive of scenarios that would see the “ruling clique” weakened by sucessful negotiations.
    I can certainly imagine a situation where sanctions bring the people and the clique closer together. ‘All in the same boat’ and all that. This ‘moving closer’ is a dead certainty if Iran is attack.

    Reply

  62. Outraged American says:

    Amen Wig-the best way to fix that pesky Iranian head scarf issue
    is to kill a few million Iranian women.
    Muslim women always look better in shrouds anyway Ask the
    Iraqis/ Afghans/ Palestinians, and all the Christians we’ve
    slaughtered on UsRael’s mindless, endless rampages.
    Although with the Palestinian Christians in the Gaza Strip, their
    bodies were probably in too many tiny, irradiated, pieces to tell
    what religion they were, much less if they were of the fairer sex.
    I do think gay men are the fairest in very sense of the word, but
    they’ve never been persecuted in the US. Or Argentina.
    Wig: I’ll gently remind you that some sects of Judaism require
    their women to cover their hair, with either a HEAD SCARF or a
    WIG (which I will venture to guess is where your screen name
    comes from, make sure and check it for lice, Norheim is
    contagious), and to also dress modestly, covered from head to
    toe.
    Maybe we should “liberate” these Jewish women from their head
    scarves by killing them as well, which would be easy because
    they all live in the West Bank or Brooklyn.
    We’ll use one of the genetic weapons Israel is developing in
    reverse to make sure that the natives don’t get killed as well.
    And Wig have you ever seen a nun in a conservative Catholic
    order? They sure all dress like they’re about to pose for Hustler.

    Reply

  63. WigWag says:

    One last thing, JohnH, you’ve assailed my motivations as having nothing to do with the plight of Iranians and everything to do with my support of Israel.
    But isn’t it equally plausible to suggest that but for your antipathy towards Israeli policy, that you would never support a regime as barbaric as the Iranian regime is?
    Other than Iran, do you favor partnering with any other regime that rules over a country where the President says gay people don’t exist? Which other regime that mandates women to cover their heads whether they want to or not are you anxious to partner with? What other regime that executes or brutalizes religious minorities as peaceful as the Bahia do you support?
    Did you support the Somoza regime in Nicaragua or the Pinochet regime in Chile?
    Of course you didn’t.
    But yet you want to “partner” with an Iranian regime that is as barbaric as those regimes were.
    Is it my motivations that should be questioned or is it yours?
    I have a sneaking suspicion that if only Somoza and Pinochet had been hostile to Israel that you might have felt a little better about them too.
    When questioning the motivation of others, it is usually wise to look in the mirror first.

    Reply

  64. WigWag says:

    “And BTW Wigwag, amidst all your bleating about the poor women, gays, and persecuted minorities of Iran, can you tell us how 30 years of confrontational policies have improved their lot? And how are these same groups faring under the American occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq? Pretty damn poorly, I’d say.” (JohnH)
    Sorry, JohnH, you’re mistaken again. In case you’ve forgotten, before the American invasion of Afghanistan, under the Taliban, girls in most parts of the country weren’t allowed to go to school or even learn to read. Women weren’t permitted to work outside of the home or even leave their homes without their husband’s permission.
    So in answer to your question, I would say that it’s pretty obvious that women are dramatically better off in Afghanistan as a result of what you call the “American occupation.”
    I won’t defend the invasion of Iraq because I didn’t support it; but I think it’s a mixed picture. The Kurds are clearly better off as a result of the American invasion of Iraq; they have greater freedom and live in a more liberal society than they did before.
    On the other hand, in the South where most of the Shia live, women are probably worse off than they were under Saddam. But that’s because the American invasion of Iraq stupidly empowered the conservative Shia clergy in the southern part of the country who are aligned with Iran. It’s Iranian influence in the south of Iraq that has made things worse for women, not American influence. The invasion of Iraq was a bad idea precisely because it gave the Iranian Mullahs more influence in Iraq. These are the same conservative Shia clergy that you want to “partner” with.
    As for your question about what 30 years of American policy towards Iran has meant for women, gays and persecuted minorities has meant; it’s hard to know. But there’s obviously no reason to believe that siding with the oppressors would do anything but make the lot of these unfortunate groups far worse than it already is.

    Reply

  65. JohnH says:

    And BTW Wigwag, amidst all your bleating about the poor women, gays, and persecuted minorities of Iran, can you tell us how 30 years of confrontational policies have improved their lot? And how are these same groups faring under the American occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq? Pretty damn poorly, I’d say. And so it’s obvious that the poor women, gays, and minorities of Iran–the very people you claim to support–would fare even worse than now under and Israeli/American occupation of Iran.
    So lets’ cut the crap, OK? The confrontational policies you promote will make things worse. But like I said, you only care about Israel being king of the mountain, regardless of the fact that 60 years of confrontational policies have failed to bring Israel the security it claims to want.

    Reply

  66. WigWag says:

    “But you, hypocritical Wigwag, are happy that the United States partners with the Saudis, who hate gays, severely restrict women’s freedom, and persecute religious minorities…” (JohnH)
    Sorry, JohnH, you must be mixing me up with Steve Clemons. He’s the one who is sympathetic to the Saudis; he’s the one who thinks greater cooperation between Saudis and Americans is needed and he’s the one who thinks highly of Turki Al-Faisal; not me.
    I wouldn’t be any happier with a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Saudis than a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians. And I would be delighted if a genuinely progressive, liberal group of government critics actually existed in Saudi Arabia; it doesn’t.
    I am happy that, for a change, Israel has a confluence of interests with its Sunni Arab neighbors, but that doesn’t mean I think highly of the Saudis or any other Sunni Arab government.
    In fact, I tend to agree with Dan Kervick about Iran. I think it has a rich history, an impressive culture, an educated female population and all the ingredients to play a very positive role in the world.
    The problem is that Iranians won’t be able to exploit any of those assets as long as the conservative mullahs you want to partner with are in charge.
    I’m against the Leverett grand bargain for many reasons; not the least of which is that it would require the United States to abandon the progressive elements in Iran in favor of supporting the elements in Iran that you want to partner with; the holocaust deniers, the morals police, the religious bigots, the Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guards.
    Is it so unreasonable to ask the Leveretts to provide us with a compelling case of exactly what benefits we will get from such a horrendous compromise of our values?

    Reply

  67. JohnH says:

    Sheer hypocrisy, Wigwag, you criticize me for “wanting the United States to partner with the religious extremist dictators in Iran who hate gays, insist that women cover their hair whether they want to or not, and persecute minority religious groups.” But you, hypocritical Wigwag, are happy that the United States partners with the Saudis, who hate gays, severely restrict women’s freedom, and persecute religious minorities. And you want Israel to partner with these same tyrannical Arab states to confront Iran. So let’s cut the crap, OK? You don’t care a bit about the people of Iran, just like you don’t care about people in any Arab country. You only care about Israel being king of the mountain, regardless of the cost to Israelis’ security.
    And you refuse the entertain the central question: why not give partnership and cooperation a chance? Confrontation has a long track record of failure. Why do you insist on pursuing the same failed policies and expecting different results?

    Reply

  68. WigWag says:

    “The European Union introduced democracy and economic prosperity across Europe through partnership. How many democracies has the US’ confrontational approach spawned in the time? Name one.” (JohnH)
    Oh really? Go to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and see if they credit the United States or Europe with the freedom that they enjoy today. And while you’re at it, ask the citizens of these nations whether they feel a greater sense of kinship with the United States or with their brethren in the European Union.
    When you finish that, head over to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia and see if they believe that their independence came about through European style cooperation or what you would call American style confrontation. If the independence of those nations is ever threatened again, do you think they will be relying on words coming out of Europe or counting on the military capabilities provided primarily by US forces in NATO?
    And JohnH, no one objects to partnerships. The difference between you and me is that you want the United States to partner with the religious extremist dictators in Iran who hate gays, insist that women cover their hair whether they want to or not, and persecute minority religious groups.
    I want to partner with the progressive elements in Iranian society; the people who aspire to pluralism, free expression and tolerance. The Iranians I want my nation to support believe in the value of higher education; the Iranians you want our nation to support believe in the value of religious education.
    The Leveretts don’t care about any of this; all they’re concerned about is whether Iranian oil makes Americans richer and whether the United States obtains some theoretical geostrategic benefit from aligning with Iran.
    If you think that you’re approach or the approach of the Leveretts is somehow more ethical or more efficacious, you’re deluded on both fronts.
    If anything, supporting the conservative Shia clergy ruling Iran makes your position less moral.
    As for the Leveretts; when it comes to foreign policy, they believe that people who even entertain the idea that morality might matter, should be treated as lepers.
    That’s why Steve Clemons calls Flynt Leverett a “crack-cocaine” realist.
    The problem for both Leveretts is that they are unable to make a cogent case for exactly how the United States will be so much better off by adopting the grand bargain they advocate.
    False analogies between Iran and China prove nothing.

    Reply

  69. Dan Kervick says:

    OK, just a brief one. Nadine’s claim that
    “The mullahs don’t need more trade than they have. For that matter, they don’t care about their economy.”
    is not backed up by empirical evidence. Iran’s imports and exports have both increased more than 2.5 times since 2000, and Iran has long sought WTO membership, even though the Us has worked to block that membership.
    I also don’t think she understands anything at all about Iranian foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Reply

  70. JohnH says:

    Wigwag-you seem to willfully miss the whole point.
    Stephen Colbert summed it up when he asked Julia Schweig regarding Brazil: “Why is it, when countries get oil, they hate America?”
    Why indeed? Is is because, as Schweig responded, that countries with oil can afford to be more independent? Or is it the other side of the equation–that the West starts behaving differently when oil is involved? Is it because the West starts to feel a sense of entitlement to the oil underneath the wogs territory?
    Leverett and Mann are talking about the benefits of partnering with suppliers, not bullying them. Partnership definitely has its benefits. Look at what American business has done by partnering with suppliers around the globe. Yet the politicians assume that bullying and confrontation will yield anything but more confrontation. What has confrontation yielded in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Cuba? Negative results. What has confrontation yielded Israel? Again, nothing. Confrontation just poisons the well.
    The European Union introduced democracy and economic prosperity across Europe through partnership. How many democracies has the US’ confrontational approach spawned in the time time? Name one.
    Japanese businesses partner with their workers to improve production. US companies engage in confrontation with their workers. Which auto industry now dominates the global market?
    Despite all the evidence supporting the ineffectiveness of confrontation, people like you and Nadine insist that confrontation is the approach, the ONLY approach.
    What makes you so doggedly determined not to give cooperation and partnership a chance? It has a proven record of success.

    Reply

  71. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, I don’t have the time to rewrite the comment. So screw it.

    Reply

  72. WigWag says:

    “And how many tens of millions of people did these “secular autocrats” dispatch to their deaths? My, we are very forgiving today.” (Jonst)
    No one is suggesting that the Chinese Communists weren’t brutal murderers, Jonst. The point is that when Nixon went to China, the days of mass murder and the reeducation camps of the Cultural Revolution were receding. China had just started down the path of economic pragmatism (which later accelerated dramatically under Deng) and the nation was moving in a more moderate direction.
    Contrast this with the situation in Iran where the ruling Mullahs have alot more in common with Jiang Qing than they do with Chou En Lai or reformers like Hua Guofeng or Deng Xiaoping.
    When Nixon went to China it strengthened the moderates; negotiations with Iran strengthen the ruling clique.
    Iran apologist, Roger Cohen has made the same point. He’s suggested that the only way for Iran to overcome its current internal turmoil is for Iran to develop better relations with the West. Cohen believes that the conservative clergy is desperate to manage this improvement in relations rather than permitting their more moderate political opponents to manage the process.
    What Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett (and presumably Ben Katcher) know but don’t like to talk about, is that the rapprochement with Iran that they advocate requires the United States to sell out the dynamic sectors in Iran that yearn for progressive change.
    The United States would have to commit to doing absolutely nothing to support the Iranian freedom fighters. Instead of acquiescing of the continued rule of secular autocrats who were moderating their behavior (imperfectly as the Tiananmen Square incident demonstrated)and moving in the direction of abandoning ideology in favor of pragmatism, the United States would be committing to indefinitely supporting the most regressive elements in Iranian society.
    Hillary Mann Leverett and Flynt Leverett don’t care. They are indifferent to the aspirations of Iranians and they scoff at people who aren’t indifferent. Of course, when asked to define how American interests will be advanced by selling out the Iranian people, the best they can do is come up with an anemic list similar to the one that Dan Kervick quoted above, that is very easy to poke holes in.
    If the Leveretts were to get their way, the people of Iran would be living under hyper religious autocrats far into the future; Iran’s economy would continue to be mismanaged; religious police would continue to patrol on motor scooters beating teenagers for daring to hold hands; Iranian leaders would continue to deny that there are any gay people in Iran at all; religious minorities like the Baha’is would continue to be viciously exploited and Iran would never achieve the greatness that its rich history justifies.
    I can’t see any American interests that justify relegating Iranians to that bleak circumstance.
    And a false analogy between China and Iran doesn’t make the Leverett’s case more compelling; it makes the Leverett’s argument less compelling

    Reply

  73. JohnH says:

    Dan Kervick–Too many links will get your comment held. I just replace the “.” with “[dot].”
    Wigwag and Nadine–weak responses. I’m surprised you couldn’t do better. Maybe hasbara has its limits.

    Reply

  74. samuelburke says:

    “Coming from someone who supported the Iraq war – a war based on completely made-up “intelligence” – Rosenbaum’s posturing takes the cake. But then again, as someone who sees Hitler under every bed, it wasn’t hard for Rosenbaum to be “had,” as he puts it: he and his pro-war confreres on what today passes for the Left – Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman, and the rest of that Legion of Lost Souls – were ready, willing, and perfectly able to be let themselves be deceived, because they didn’t care one whit for the truth.
    They still don’t. The accusation that Iran is going nuclear in order to make a bomb that it plans to drop on Israel is nonsense, and they know it. It is enough for them that Iran exists, and, for some, that it opposes Israel.
    The one word these people don’t want to hear is “Dimona” – the site of Israel’s nuclear weapons research facility. As Juan Cole puts it:
    “There is no good evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. It has offered to allow regular International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of the newly announced facility near Qom, which would effectively prevent it from being used for weapons production.
    “There is a secret nuclear facility in the Middle East, however, producing plutonium and not just enriched uranium, which has the capacity to make 10 nuclear warheads a year.”
    The idea that Israel could indefinitely maintain a nuclear monopoly in the region – enforced by the U.S. military – was never a very practical one. Israel’s attorneys in this country who argue that Iranian success in joining the nuclear club would set off a regional arms race are a bit late: the race started the moment Israel stole the technology from the West and made its own nukes with French assistance and over U.S. opposition. Israel has been threatening to attack Iran for years, and who is to say they wouldn’t nuke Tehran? Indeed, one prominent Israeli writer, Benny Morris, made the case for just that, no doubt with the encouragement of his government. It could be a bluff – but why take the risk?”
    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/09/29/our-intelligence-and-theirs/

    Reply

  75. questions says:

    Dan,
    Local lore suggests that 2 links is the maximum per posting.
    No one reads the posts before they are put up. This ain’t the HuffPo!

    Reply

  76. Dan Kervick says:

    I replied to Nadine earlier this morning, but the comment was “held for approval”. It did contain three links to external content. Is that the reason?

    Reply

  77. samuelburke says:

    The story line that dominated media coverage of the second Iranian uranium enrichment facility last week was the official assertion that U.S. intelligence had caught Iran trying to conceal a “secret” nuclear facility.
    But an analysis of the transcript of that briefing by senior administration officials that was the sole basis for the news stories and other evidence reveals damaging admissions, conflicts with the facts, and unanswered questions that undermine its credibility.
    Iran’s notification to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the second enrichment facility in a letter on Sept. 21 was buried deep in most of the news stories and explained as a response to being detected by U.S. intelligence. In reporting the story in that way, journalists were relying entirely on the testimony of “senior administration officials” who briefed them at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh Friday.
    U.S. intelligence had “learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised,” one of the officials said, according to the White House transcript. The Iranians had informed the IAEA, he asserted, because “they came to believe that the value of the facility as a secret facility was no longer valid.”
    Later in the briefing, however, the official said “we believe,” rather than “we learned,” in referring to that claim, indicating that it is only an inference rather than being based on hard intelligence.
    http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2009/09/29/us-story-on-iran-nuke-facility-doesnt-add-up/

    Reply

  78. jonst says:

    Wig-Wag wrote: “. While the Chinese communists afforded their citizens few if any freedoms, at least they were secular autocrats”.
    And how many tens of millions of people did these “secular autocrats” dispatch to their deaths? My, we are very forgiving today.

    Reply

  79. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I disagree with you very much about the dominant tendencies in Iran’s foreign policy toward Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is one recent analysis of the Iranian approach to Afghanistan:
    http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/columns/world/10351248.html
    … and one by an Iranian scholar on the policy toward Iraq:
    http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/Barzegar_Middle_East_Policy_Winter_2008.pdf
    I also think this comment is off the wall, and not born out by evidence:
    “The mullahs don’t need more trade than they have. For that matter, they don’t care about their economy.”
    Iran’s imports have nearly tripled since 2000, and its exports have risen by a comparable percentage. (I haven’t been able to find the most recent numbers, but between 2000 and 2005, they grew 2.48% according to the international trade center.)
    http://www.intracen.org/tradstat/sitc3-3d/ir364.htm
    Foreign direct investment in Iran and Iranian investments abroad have also risen sharply. Iran has sought membership in the WTO for years, but has been blocked by the US. Iran has shown itself eager to provide more prosperity for its people.
    Most of your criticisms of my list, grounded in your extremist assessments, amount to the claim that the changes aren’t going to happen, so we shouldn’t explore the possibilities in the first place. But you’re probably wrong on both scores.

    Reply

  80. Paul Norheim says:

    So now you`re suddenly in love with Old Europe,
    WigWag?

    Reply

  81. WigWag says:

    “Ah yes, the leaders of the West, those ever honest brokers. The folks who sold us Gulf of Tonkin, who sold us Saddam’s WMDs, and who sold us countless wild exaggerations about the capabilities of the Soviets.” (JohnH)
    That’s simply not true, JohnH. The Europeans, the Israelis and the Sunni Arab nations never sold us the Golf of Tonkin Resolution; it was the President of the United States who did that.
    And the Europeans (at least what Rumsfeld called “Old Europe) was always skeptical about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Two of the nations that are worried about Iranian nukes and are pushing harsh sanctions even more assertively than Obama, France and Germnany,actually opposed American intervention in Iraq and were ridiculed by President Bush for it. It seems to me that if you think the French and the Germans were right about Iraq you ought to consider the possibility that they might be right about Iran.
    As for those exagerations about the capabilities of the Soviets that you mentioned, I’m not sure precisely what you have in mind. But I’ll remind you that the President and National Security Advisor who thought the Soviets posed too much of a threat to continue Nixon’s policy of detente, were Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brzezinski.
    In light of Carter’s and Brzezinski’s “wild exagerations about the capabilities of the Soviets,” JohnH, I wouldn’t think you would take their advice on Iran too seriously either.

    Reply

  82. Neo Controll says:

    “And to all of you on this threat who call yourself liberals, why is a hater like arthur never reproached, while I am called a racist and all manner of bad names?”
    Oh, ‘nadine’ if you could stop outside yourself for a moment and view yourself objectively, “racist” would be one of the milder forms of obliquy you would choose to describe yourself, and you have proven you have a vast store of slime to wallow in.
    Talk about delusion. Spoken like a true Zionist zealot. As to Arthur, here calling Netanyahu a “blood soaked sociopath” doesn’t seem extreme, although I suppose Bolton might agree with you. But really, just tend your own garden if your so convinced of your righteousness.
    – NCHQ

    Reply

  83. Dan Kervick says:

    “Given the context, I assume that you intended to say “Adolf Ahmedinejad” and that
    “Ahmedinejad probably won” in your last comment?”
    Ooops. Yes, thanks Paul. Truly a Freudian slip.

    Reply

  84. nadine says:

    Is this what you hate, arthur? Here are Netanyahu’s words. And to all of you on this threat who call yourself liberals, why is a hater like arthur never reproached, while I am called a racist and all manner of bad names?
    “Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.
    But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?
    A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.
    What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.
    This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.
    Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.
    It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.
    The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day. Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially.
    It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.
    What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.
    I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.
    But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.”
    – Benjamin Netanyahu, Speech to the UN, Sept 24, 2009

    Reply

  85. arthurdecco says:

    “(Adolf) Netanyahu instead of Ahmedinejad. Talk about a Freudian slip.” Nadine
    Nothing Freudian about it – The Blood-soaked sociopath NutandYahoo IS indisputably the mad-bastard Adolf in that comparison to anyone with the curiosity to read what these two men have actually said and paid attention to what they’ve done.

    Reply

  86. arthurdecco says:

    “(Adolf) Netanyahu instead of Ahmedinejad. Talk about a Freudian slip.” Nadine
    Nothing Freudian about it – The Blood-soaked sociopath NutandYahoo IS indisputably the mad-bastard Adolf in that comparison to anyone with the curiosity to read what these two men have actually said and paid attention to what they’ve done.

    Reply

  87. nadine says:

    “I assume that you intended to say “Adolf Ahmedinejad” and that “Ahmedinejad probably won” in your last comment?”
    Netanyahu instead of Ahmedinejad. Talk about a Freudian slip.

    Reply

  88. Paul Norheim says:

    Dan Kervick,
    Given the context, I assume that you intended to say “Adolf Ahmedinejad” and that
    “Ahmedinejad probably won” in your last comment?

    Reply

  89. nadine says:

    “The many benefits of an entente with Iran are blindingly obvious, WigWag.”
    That’s like saying that the benefits of you giving me a million dollars are blindingly obvious, Dan. They are obvious to ME. But YOU will have a different opinion on the matter.
    Let’s have a look at your list from the point of view of the Iranian regime:
    1. Stabilize Iraq? Iran has been supporting both Shia and Sunni insurgencies for years, even sending their own Qods Force operatives in to train insurgents in the use of shaped explosives. Now, while the game of “get paid to put out the fire you started” is enticing, a stable democratic Iraq is very risky for Iran, as it only increases the already great internal pressure for democracy. So they prefer the “keep Iraq burning” strategy if they can manage it. If they play their cards right, they figure they can make Iraq an Iranian colony again, as it has been several times in the past. Scratch this one.
    2. Friendly relations with the US in the Gulf? Maybe you haven’t heard “Marg bar Amrika” (death to America) which this regime has been chanting for 30 years. Power in the Gulf is a zero sum game. If we have it, they don’t. They want it. Scratch this one.
    3. Energy security. That’s in our interest, but not in OPECs. Scratch this one.
    4. US/Iranian trade. The mullahs don’t need more trade than they have. For that matter, they don’t care about their economy. Just look at how they have been ruining it. Besides, same danger of regime instability as point 1. Scratch this one.
    5. Keep others (like China) from dominating Iran’s oil business. From Iran’s point of view, China is an ideal partner. No questions asked and no ambitions of ruling the Gulf. Russia and the US are both more dangerous. Scratch this one.
    6. Influence over Shia muslims. This wouldn’t even happen, frankly. Actually if their government liked us more, the Persians would probably like us less. They are quite pro-US now. But the regime certainly doesn’t want The Great Satan to have influence in Iran. Allah forbid! Scratch this one.
    7. Help with Afghanistan. Not in the mullah’s interest. See point 1. Scratch this one.
    8. Less bullshit on TV. Since TV isn’t even covering Iran, wouldn’t make a difference.
    Dan, none of these things is going to happen. Not a chance. So isn’t rather silly to list any of them as benefits?
    What kind of realist pretends that a rogue, terror-supporting, theocratic, revolutionary regime like Iran is actually cooperative and eager for democracy and trade? There are words for this stance, but “realist” isn’t among them.

    Reply

  90. JohnH says:

    Ah yes, the leaders of the West, those ever honest brokers. The folks who sold us Gulf of Tonkin, who sold us Saddam’s WMDs, and who sold us countless wild exaggerations about the capabilities of the Soviets.
    The leaders of the West, those folks chasing their tails around in Afghanistan without being able to articulate a good reason for why they’re there or, since they’re apparently clueless about their ambitions there, how to move forward. The leaders of the West, the same folks who, when all the reasons given for invading Iraq proved false, still couldn’t come up with a justification, so they just gave up and started leaving.
    Now isn’t it strange that some of the folks a lot closer to Iran than Washington–India, Russia, China–don’t seem to be half as concerned about Iran’s supposed weapons program as Europe and the US. Smell a rat there? “Most of the world” is not in fact all that concerned.
    And isn’t it strange that many of the same folks who lied the most to get the US into Iraq have not shifted their target to Iran? And Wigwag and Nadine are more than happy to be cheerleaders for whatever propaganda is produced by the neocons and Likudniks, without questioning whether it really serves Israel’s best interests or not.
    And isn’t it strange that the leaders of the West are ignoring the well informed conclusions of the folks that they are paying to investigate and publish highly informed conclusions about Iran’s motivations and capabilities? Smell a rat there?
    Well, I smell a rat. The same rat that said that Saddam had WMDs. The West has a hidden political agenda that China, Russia and India don’t buy into. And reports from the IAEA and the US intelligence community are inconvenient to that agenda, so they must be ignored, just like the IAEA and much of the US intelligence community was ignored before the invasion of Iraq.
    So the leaders of the West may drag us into yet another war, undertaken not because of any Iranian nuclear weapons program, but for other, unstated reasons–the same unstated reasons that prompted the US to maintain sanctions against Iran long before any nuclear program, sanctions that most of the world refused to participate in.
    Iran understands the game. It can either heel to Israel and the West, or it can try to maintain its sovereignty and pursue its own national interests independently. And it realizes that to continue pursuing those interests, it must be able to give any would-be attackers a bloody nose. The US hasn’t attacked any nation that could even modestly defend itself since WWII, and Iran knows this. So it has developed some level of deterrence, enough to lead many experts to conclude that an attack would be unproductive, and a war would not likely achieve US goals, either.
    Yet the West continues to beat the drums of war. What’s that all about? Grown men showing their evolutionary roots as jungle primates?
    And in response, Iran continues to build its deterrence. Anybody sitting on that much oil and natural gas and pipeline routes would be insane not to try to protect it from predators.

    Reply

  91. Dan Kervick says:

    “There is no remotely similar rationale for Obama to reach out to the Iranian Mullahs.”
    The many benefits of an entente with Iran are blindingly obvious, WigWag. Here are just a few off the top of my head:
    1. Substantial help in stabilizing Iraq as we withdraw from it, with the likely end of Sunni Iraqi scheming and rejectionism based on playing Iran and the US off one another, and with much improved prospects of ending up with a durable US-friendly government in Iraq. Big discount off the Iraq price tag for the American taxpayer.
    2. Friendly US relations up and down the Persian Gulf, thus saving us potential billions on CENTCOM’s mission of defending the Gulf and environs from potential attacks by hostile powers on US interests and threats to US energy supplies. Ka-ching again.
    3. Durable energy security based on good relations with all the major producers and players in Opec, with the possible entrée of US developers into the Iranian market, helping to recycle US consumer petrodollars back into the US economy.
    4. The opening up of trade between the US and a rising country of 75 million people, which in addition to the other obvious benefits is another way to prevent the bleeding away of petrodollars. Better prices on dates and fun tourist trips to Persepolis.
    5. Preventing the domination of the Iranian oil business by our chief global competitors.
    6. A more direct means of influencing the Shia Muslim communities in the Middle East.
    7. Substantial help in Afghanistan in sustaining a friendly government against the encroachments of Sunni Salafist nutjobs who are the common enemies of Iran and the US; help that might eventually even include basing privileges for drones or other military tools, so that we can act against any Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the future without having to conquer the whole damn country of Afghanistan to do it.
    8. A dramatic lessening of distracting, time-wasting, media-driven bullshit, giving the American television viewer more time left to waste on the other bullshit
    This whole Iran “crisis” is one of the stupidest episodes of melodramatic pretend political theater imaginable, and is a component of a whole stupid cycle of pretend. First we had to pretend to be in love with our oversold and unnecessary Eastern European missile system to justify the system’s big price tag and to convince our Czech and Polish friends that they are really, really, really important in our plans to defend the Free World from the evil armies of Peter the Great. Then the Russians had to pretend they really, really cared a lot about this system, since we made such an ostentatious fuss of installing it following their war in Georgia, giving them a new need to convince their own people how tough they are, and won’t put up with any fake American boondoggles parked nearby. Now we trade the missile system away so that the world’s most heavily armed nuclear superpower can get Russian help on a pretend Iran threat concerning a single warhead that doesn’t actually exist, and that our intelligence services inform us the Iranians aren’t building. Then our Secretary of State has to pretend that she can’t think of a single reason why the Iranian nuclear energy program might need a back-up enrichment facility, even though she knows that we and our allies threaten to blow up the rest of the system almost every week. We have to pretend that the IAEA doesn’t exist; and when they speak we pretend we don’t hear them; and when we hear them, we pretend we don’t believe them. Much of this pretend is to convince the Israelis, I guess, that we take their hyperventilating conniptions about getting wiped off the map by Adolf Netanyahu really, really, really seriously.
    Dennis Ross came up with the Engagement+Threats policy, and it was a politician’s dream come true. “Yes”, Obama thought, “now I can please my left flank by promising to talk, and please the right by threatening to blow up the nonexistent nukes. And I can do them both at the same time! It’s all just pretend anyway, but this will last for a while until I figure out something else to do.”
    What does it matter what the Leveretts or Dan Drezner think about Iran’s election, and whose intelligence services did what to whom? Netanyahu probably won, and it’s water under the bridge anyway. It has little to do with points 1 through 8 above.
    It’s easy now to think of Chou En Lai and Deng Xioping as “moderates”. But China at the end of the Cultural Revolution was a totalitarian hellhole five times worse than anything going on in Iran in 2009.
    Could we just cut make the freaking deal and get on with the 21st century? It’s obvious in what direction things are moving. How long do we have to play pretend?
    And once we hook up with Iran, Israel will probably have a lot less to worry about from Hizbollah and the nonexistent Iranian nukes. So why don’t they want us to get on with it? A cynic might suggest they are not afraid of war; they are afraid of peace.

    Reply

  92. nadine says:

    “But here’s my prediction; the more likely a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians becomes, the more likely an American military attack on Iran becomes.”
    Wigwag, chances for either are zero. Reports from the Mideast are that Fatah and Hamas will try to form a unity government under pressure; as the recent Fatah conference shows, they will unite on Hamas’ principles. The current official position of the Fatah is that a) Fatah no longer recognizes Israel b) Israel murdered Arafat (which means they have to take revenge somehow) c) the Al Aqsa brigades are the official military wing of Fatah (so much for Arafat’s claiming 1000 times that they weren’t his boys).
    So the only grounds for Fatah vs Hamas disagreement are secular vs Islamist government, and sharing power. Both agree now on destroying Israel. There will be no peace treaty.
    Unless the Iranian regime falls and is replaced by a government that wants to run Iran as a country instead of a fount of Shia Islamist revolution, the Israelis will strike at some point. They know that hatred this great, powered by religious fanaticism, translates from words to deeds. They can’t afford to wait for the day that Hizbullah gets nuclear missiles.

    Reply

  93. nadine says:

    “You would think it was Iran threatening its neighbors, not Israel.”
    Why, yes, if you lived in Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria or Lebanon or Yemen or Egypt or Israe/Palestine you would think that, because paid-for proxies of Iran are supporting insurgencies and/or terrorist attacks or are taking outright control in all those countries.
    No Israeli has ever called Iran a “rotting corpse” or a “cancer” or predicted or called for its being wipe off the map. But Ahmedinejad has said these things. Rafsanjani has called for a “Muslim bomb” to be dropped on Israel, saying the Muslim world could survive the reprisals.

    Reply

  94. WigWag says:

    Nobody cares what Nadine and WigWag think, JohnH.
    It’s what Presidents Obama and Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel and Prime Ministers Berlusconi and Brown think that matters. And now it looks like President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin may be coming around. And let’s not forget the concerns of President Mubarak, President Abbas, King Abdullah (of Jordan) and King Abdullah (of Saudi Arabia). Apparently they all think Iran has aspirations to become a nuclear power and apparently none of them like it very much.
    While some Arab nations may pay lip service to Israel’s nuclear arsenal it seems like most of the world is far more concerned about nuclear weapons in the hands of the Mullahs in Iran.
    It’s got nothing to do with whether Israel or India or Pakistan or China or Russia or France or Great Britain or the United States are more entitled to nuclear weapons than Iran is; it’s a question of what the world finds tolerable and what it’s willing to act on.
    It would appear that there is an increasing consensus that nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians are intolerable while nuclear weapons in the hands of the states that possess them (except for North Korea) are tolerable. The world is unprepared to act to take nuclear weapons away from any nation that possesses them (except perhaps North Korea) but is entirely prepared to deny a nuclear capability to Iran.
    That’s why Iran is likely to face sanctions or even military attack while those other nations aren’t.
    It’s not about WigWag, Nadine or JohnH; it’s about the fact that a significant number of nations in the world with the power to do something about it, don’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons.
    Who knows, if Iran was still led by the Shah or run by secular autocrats the world might feel differently; but it isn’t.
    What’s so hard to understand about that?

    Reply

  95. JohnH says:

    I’m surprised that it took so long for Wigwag and Nadine to start thumping their chests. They won’t settle for anything less than war, and then more war, dire though the consequences may be.
    You would think it was Iran threatening its neighbors, not Israel. You would think that it was Iran that had a history of repeatedly invading its neighbors, not Israel. You would think it was Iran that had nuclear weapons, not Israel. Their imaginations run wild with delusions, projections of how Iran might behave. And how do they know? Because that is the way Israel would behave if they were in Iran’s place. And, of course, that is the way that Israel has been behaving for 60 years. Attack, devastate, annihilate, and then bomb some more.
    It would never occur to Wigwag and Nadine that Iran might be governed by rationale actors, as the NIE states. Or that Iran’s nuclear materials may all be accounted for by the IAEA. Or that the Iranian government may not have a nuclear weapons program, as both the NIE and the IAEA both have concluded. Oh no, Iran must be governed by mad mullahs, because the obsessively paranoid Israeli government cannot believe anything else. And Wigwag and Nadine have to march in lock step to whatever Israeli hasbara is being spewed at the moment. And they know that the Iranians must be cheating because the Israeli government has hidden its own program for 50 years.
    Come on, folks. Iran is not Israel. Iran signed the NPT. And the IAEA is on site doing their job. The IAEA has a lot more credibility than a bunch of Israeli whack jobs constantly crying “wolf.” Besides, I already saw this script played out in 2003. The apologists for war have simply changed Iraq to Iran. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Reply

  96. WigWag says:

    Nadine, I’m extremely skeptical that a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians will be reached during the Obama Presidency.
    But here’s my prediction; the more likely a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians becomes, the more likely an American military attack on Iran becomes.
    The less likely a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians is, the less likely a military attack by the United States on Iran is.

    Reply

  97. nadine says:

    “So how exactly is it expedient for the United States to prop up the Iranian clergy?”
    The same way appeasement is ever expedient – it avoids conflict, or seems to. Quite often, as history shows, it creates worse conflict down the road by emboldening the the most aggressive players.
    Obama has a “go away and don’t bother me” foreign policy. I cannot conceive of a more provocative policy when dealing with an Ahmedinejad, a religious nutjob who ends every major speech by praying for the Mahdi’s imminent return (including his recent speech to the UN).
    Leverett (and Clemons too for that matter) are all about providing rationalizations for Obama. It didn’t take much insight to realize that Ahmedinejad could not possibly have won exactly 2/3 of the vote in every precinct in Iran, including his opponent’s home towns, as the regime claimed. Anybody who entertained the possibility that the election was honest in light of that information is simply whoring for some intellectual cause.
    Good post btw, Wigwag.

    Reply

  98. WigWag says:

    When reading anything written by the Leveretts, I am always struck by the fact that their words are always a size too big for their thoughts.
    Their op-ed in the New York Times is wrong-headed in so many ways that it’s almost hard to recount them all. But the Leveretts did get one thing right; sanctions are unlikely to work and even if they could modulate Iranian behavior, sanctions severe enough to be successful are unlikely to be enacted over Russian and Chinese objections. Roger Cohen made the same point in the Times earlier in the week.
    Of course all this means is that the dye is already cast. The only alternative is a military strike followed by a crippling blockade (and targeted assassination of Iranian leaders and Revolutionary Guard commanders) or, alternatively, a robust system of deterrence which worked impeccably during the 40 year history of the Cold War. It’s hard to see how anyone can credibly maintain that Iran can’t be successfully deterred from using any nuclear weapons it may eventually obtain. Unlike their co-religionists in Al Qaeda, the Shia clergy in Iran seems less enamored with the prospect of martyrdom, which is ironic given the important symbolic role martyrdom plays to the Shia. Perhaps it’s just that Ahmadinejad and Khamanei have concluded that it’s beyond the powers even of Allah to find 40 virgins who would have them.
    The reason that military intervention or deterrence are the only two realistic alternatives is clear; the strategy proposed by the Leveretts is so absurd that its chance of being adopted is nonexistent. How the Leveretts can be called realists (even of the “crack cocaine” variety) is beyond me; they don’t live in the real world; they live in a dream world. Perhaps instead of calling them realists we should call them “dreamists.”
    I don’t usually like Dan Drezner but his critique of the Leverett’s proposal absolutely demolished their strategy. Ben Katcher’s attempt to rescue his New America Foundation colleagues, while noble, does little or nothing to challenge Drezner or resurrect the position of the Leveretts.
    First of all, Katcher mischaracterizes both Drezner and Flyntt Leverett. At the time of the Iranian election Leverett actually had the temerity to suggest that the election was honest, that Ahmadinejad won fair and square and that the Iranian opposition were sore losers. This contradicts not only the reports of observers on the ground (including Roger Cohen who was himself an apologist for the Iranian regime until he saw them in action first hand) but also goes further than any mainstream critic of Obama’s Iran approach is willing to go including Steve Walt and Andrew Sullivan (okay, Sullivan’s not exactly an Obama critic).
    At the very least, Leverett had no more basis for suggesting the election was honest than other critics sitting in think tank office suites in the United States had for claiming the election was dishonest. But of course, this didn’t deter Leverett one bit; why should it? He’s only interested in facts that support his argument not facts that challenge it.
    Katcher also tries to rescue the Leveretts from Drezner’s criticism of their point that Obama made a mistake by reaching out directly to Khamenei. Katcher distorts Drezner’s point by suggesting that we don’t take the Leveretts words seriously but that instead we see their point in “the larger context.”
    Here’s the larger context, Ben; both Flyntt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett have pointed out in writing and in speeches on more than one occasion that the real “decider” when it came to the nuclear weapons question in Iran was not Ahmadinejad but was Khamenei. In light of this, their criticism of Obama for going over the head of Ahmadinejad is just plain nonsense; it’s also pure hypocrisy.
    Where Katcher really falls down in his rescue mission is his failure to even mention the fundamental flaw in the Leveretts argument; their claim that Obama should treat Iran the way Nixon treated China.
    The differences between China in the sixth decade of the 20th century and Iran in the first decade of the 21st century are so profound that the idea that Nixon’s strategy towards China can provide any insight at all for Obama is just plain dumb.
    Nixon’s motivation in going to China was plain; he wanted to take advantage of the fact that China and the Soviet Union were in the process of becoming bitter enemies, arguing over disputed territory (and engaging in actual armed conflict). His strategy was to turn the two communist giants against each other and to reduce Chinese support for North Viet Nam and the Viet Cong. There is no remotely similar rationale for Obama to reach out to the Iranian Mullahs.
    When Nixon went to China, it was in the process of emerging from a period of intense internecine conflict. The Cultural Revolution was ending after brutalizing tens of millions of Chinese and throwing the Chinese economy into a tailspin. Millions of Chinese harbored intense dislike for the cultural revolutionaries many of whom themselves were being forced to confess their mistakes. The point is that China was moving from a period of intense ideological fervor to a period of practicality and moderation. While Mao Tse Tung was still alive, he was aging and unwell and most of Nixon’s dialog occurred with the more reasonable Chou En Lai. It would only be a few short years later when the Gang of Four (including Mao’s wife) would be toppled and imprisoned.
    There are no Chou En Lai’s to dialog with in Iran and there are certainly no Deng Xiaopings to talk with. When Nixon went to China the ideological warriors were in the process of going down to an ignoble defeat and the moderates were winning out. This is in sharp contrast to Iran where the ideological warriors have beaten, bloodied, killed and raped the forces of moderation. Nixon negotiating with the Chinese reinforced the strength of the moderates; Obama negotiating with Iran would reinforce the strength of the radicals.
    Is there any question that the leaders of Iran are still religious fanatics burning with ideological grievances?
    Of course not. There’s no sign that they seek moderation and like all religious zealots (including Christian, Jewish Sunni Muslim and Hindu) only a fool would trust them. While the Chinese communists afforded their citizens few if any freedoms, at least they were secular autocrats. It should be obvious to all but the terminally obtuse that dealing with and negotiating with secular autocrats whose goal is to modernize their country has a lot more to recommend it than dealing with and negotiating with religious autocrats who see themselves merely as ambassadors of the deity.
    Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett and Ben Katcher are all wrong if they think that the mere assertion that Nixon’s policy towards China should be a precedent for Obama’s policy towards Iran is going to convince anyone.
    If they think there are compelling similarities between the two situations, they should tell us exactly what they are.
    Otherwise they’ve made no argument at all.
    And while they’re at it, perhaps the Leveretts can explain how the United States and its allies will be safer and wealthier if we sell out the Iranian freedom fighters and side with the conservative and barbarous Mullahs.
    After all, that’s what foreign policy realism is all about, isn’t it? Ignoring what’s right in favor of what’s expedient.
    So how exactly is it expedient for the United States to prop up the Iranian clergy?

    Reply

  99. Outraged American says:

    Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program period, so how
    can you say “bravo” to dear, chivalrous, Ben?
    Israel does have nukes and has delivery systems, including
    Dolphin submarines that the US gave her, which can reach
    Russia, most of Europe, North Africa, blah, blah, blah, then
    BOOM.
    And then Germany gave Israel more subs.
    The Germans, ein Volk, and the Jews, the Chosen, truly deserve
    each other. I’ll take bets that with Merkel at the helm the Germs
    and the Israelis will form the Fourth Reich.
    Arbeit macht das leben suss.
    Sorry if I misspelt it: Indians are congenitally lazy, which is why
    we’re going to be the commandants of this century according to
    Wig Wag and people who are equally on acid, or crack, which the
    Wig has admitted to in her own meandering way.

    Reply

  100. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “……with regard to Iran and last week’s revelations concerning the uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qum”
    What “revelations”??? From what I can glom out of these propagandizing sacks of shit in Washington and the MSM, these are not “revelations”. We’ve know about this facility for over two years.
    And now, Obama is pulling a publicity stunt by drastically speeding up the development and manufacture of ten super bunker buster bombs. But if we’ve know about this facility for over two years,why should we consider this “speed up” of these bombs anything other than the same kind of POSTURING BULLSHIT that they lied us into Iraq with???
    This has all the shades of the “mobile biological laboratories” that Powell shoved down our throats to justify invading Iraq and killing more than a few hundred thousand Iraqi non-combatants.
    In short, anyone with half a brain can see we are being conned once again.
    “Revelations” my ass. The only “revelation” in this whole thing is that Obama is the same kind of lying posturing war mongering hawk that Bush was.

    Reply

  101. JohnH says:

    Bravo, Ben! The conventional approach to Iran is just chest thumping and more chest thumping, eventually leading perhaps to a devastating war that serves no one’s interests, except the merchants of death.
    It’s high time that someone offered an alternative to the fantasy that we are constantly bombard with by by the merchants of death, their neocon hired pens, talking heads, Senators and Representatives.

    Reply

  102. samuelburke says:

    these world leaders are talking about the murder of human lives when they finally decide to attack iran…real human lives.
    But, as best the IAEA can tell, after years of exhaustive on-the-ground inspections, the Iranians have never even attempted to conduct an operational test of such a device, using natural uranium instead of weapons-grade U-235.
    How can they be sure of that? Because even natural uranium is an NPT-proscribed material, and the production and storage — as well as any chemical or physical transformation of any quantity of it – has been subject to IAEA Safeguards since 1974, made especially rigorous since the fall of 2003, when Iran began to voluntarily implement the Additional Protocol to the their agreement in advance of its ratification by the Iranian Parliament.
    Now, it is conceivable that the Iranians might be willing to risk not even functionally testing a gun-type nuke design with natural uranium. Perhaps conceivable they would then announce to the whole world their intentions to reconfigure their existing IAEA-Safeguarded uranium-enrichment cascades in a several-year-long attempt to produce a thousand pounds or so of almost pure U-235, the amount required for a half-dozen or so gun-type nukes.
    But it is not conceivable that the Iranians would be willing to take such a risk if their intention was to produce almost that much pure U-235 for implosion-type U-235 nukes that had not even been functionally – electrically, explosively, hydrodynamically — tested.
    But, that is exactly the risk the Likudniks and their enablers and fellow-travelers are apoplectically insisting that the Iranians long ago decided to take!
    No matter that, according to our intelligence community, whatever it was the Iranian military was alleged to have been doing in the past, they continue to have “high confidence” that the Iranians quit doing it in 2003 and “modest confidence” they have not resumed doing whatever it was they are alleged to have been doing, which – whatever it was – has been determined by the IAEA not to have involved any amount of NPT-proscribed materials and, hence, determined not to be a violation of Iran’s NPT-related Safeguards Agreement.
    Of course, the Likudniks and their enablers don’t care what the Iranians are doing or are not doing. They regularly announce their intention to attack and destroy – in violation of the UN Charter and of the “restraining order” placed upon them by UN Security Council Resolution 487 – Iran’s IAEA Safeguarded guaranteed-to-be-peaceful nuclear facilities.
    http://original.antiwar.com/prather/2009/09/18/why-no-dancing-in-the-streets/

    Reply

  103. samuelburke says:

    “You see, Bonkers Bolton’s successors and acolytes in the Obama-Biden administration had attempted to get Iran singled out by name as an example of a State not in compliance with its NPT “obligations” – and hence, ineligible to enjoy the benefits of the peaceful use of atomic energy guaranteed them by the NPT – but the Russians and Chinese objected.
    Why did they object?
    Because as they – and the vast majority of the heads of state of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – know, it is the United States which for decades has been in outrageous non-compliance with its NPT obligations.
    In particular, Iran’s principal NPT obligation is to not “manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,” and to conclude a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), covering certain NPT-proscribed “nuclear materials” in Iran and all activities involving their chemical or physical transformation, “with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons.”
    As a result of exhaustive on-the-ground inspections and on-site monitoring of Iranian Safeguarded activities, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei continues to “verify” the non-diversion of all Iranian NPT-proscribed materials.
    Furthermore, ElBaradei has – pursuant to requests made of him in several of the UN Security Council Resolutions cited in UNSCR 1887 – also conducted exhaustive inspections of Iran’s import records, going back several decades, as well as inspections of certain military and commercial sites, alleged to have been somehow connected to an attempt by Iran to “manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.” As of this writing, ElBaradei has been unable to find any evidence of any such attempt.
    In other words, according to USCR 1887, Iran continues to be assured of receiving all benefits available without discrimination to NPT-signatories in good standing.”
    http://original.antiwar.com/prather/2009/09/25/enough-rope-yet/

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *