Arabic Interview on Obama’s Middle East Options

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Asharq Al-Awsat.jpg
I have the privilege of chatting with many political, economic and foreign policy journalists from around the world. I generally like almost all of them and appreciate their interest, but some stand out above the others on occasion — and Hoda Husseini of Asharq Al-Awsat was one of these.
My interview with her ran in Arabic, and I can’t read it (yet) — but some of you may be able to handle it.
Now, back to Rome — where I was just blocked from visiting Octavian’s home (Augustus Caesar) on Palatine Hill by some uncreative and unresponsive bureaucrats running an otherwise great archaeological site of one of the world’s key ancient power sites.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

37 comments on “Arabic Interview on Obama’s Middle East Options

  1. questions says:

    Nice to know there are other veggies around! Happy basil and tomato season, then! Far better than tofu hot dogs anyway.

    Reply

  2. ... says:

    actually i practice vegetarianism and was offered a hamburger with cheese last night.. i told them to hold the burger and i would put some condiments with the cheese! they have some ingenious ways of using tofu these days… you’d be surprised..

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    (smile) Is being Canadian your way of avoiding tofu hot dogs every July 4th? Pretty sneaky!

    Reply

  4. ... says:

    thanks question! alas i am a canuck and the celebration passed by gracefully without incident!!!

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    To you too, …. (period after ellipses)
    Have a tofu hot dog with mustard to help celebrate.

    Reply

  6. ... says:

    questions – happy 4th of july..

    Reply

  7. questions says:

    Once again I am outed….
    Actually, if you note, I make similar arguments about the health care lobby and other lobbies as well. I am unconvinced about the power of lobbying to alter the landscape — any and all lobbying. I am, as I have noted plenty of times, uncomfortable with the focus on AIPAC. Nothing new here, and nothing sneaky, underhanded or the like.
    (is it a distraction because my hasbarism has been outed? enquiring minds want to know!)
    In fact, thinking the way I do sort of immunizes me from the dastardly influences of lobbying. I don’t believe what Exxon says, and I don’t believe every diary on kos either. I don’t believe all the lobbies are oh so powerful stuff, and I am capable of thinking that full disclosure of all money relations is likely good public policy, and that the revolving door issue is possibly a bigger problem than the donation issue in terms of shaping the legislative agenda. A hundred thousand dollars for a Senate campaign, vs. lifetime employment for the senator’s chief of staff…. Even I could get suspicious.
    A little skepticism on any and all claims can go a long way towards better thinking.
    Please note that somehow, POA, decco, Paul, …, Carroll and others have managed to escape AIPAC’s public diplomacy/propaganda programs. How is that possible?
    Please note again, that a pro-AIPAC vote in Congress may actually be a pro-district defense jobs vote and may have nothing at all to do with AIPAC or Israel.
    I do not insist that I am correct in my interpretation and I have stated repeatedly the kind of evidence I would believe and that would, on its face, force me to change my opinion.
    When lobbying is isolated from other possible causes, just as is done in medical testing, then it becomes clear that lobbying is the cause. Nate Silver does much of this kind of work, puts reasonable cautions and brackets around the points and is worthy of respect for doing so.
    On health care, he has made a prediction about the number of people who may well be swayed by money, and he has posted reasonable cautions, and so we will wait and see how these people vote and then measure the model’s accuracy. But I suppose this view is either subversive or stupid.
    People who are convinced that vaccines cause autism are creating a potentially huge public health problem from their bad thinking and their mere blogging where evidence doesn’t matter because it’s just a blog. People who are convinced that lobbying by large interests is the driver of policy may well miss out on other ways to push the political system and the focus on the wrong pressure point is problematic.
    For me, evidence well beyond instinct or a sense that it has to be so, or it only makes sense if — is necessary. The jury is out on the lobbying issue. They may well come back with a guilty verdict — nothing I say precludes that. But for now, I am a skeptic.
    The correlation/causation issue is really really huge, and clearly not entirely understood. Quack medicine makes money for a lot of hucksters because of this fallacy in thinking. Bad policy comes in the same way. My concern is with better public health and better public policy.
    Sometimes it takes an actual statistic to figure out what’s going on. How do you think effective drugs are developed, tested, approved? Why, with statistical analysis. If a cancer drug with horrific side effects improves life spans by an average of NEGATIVE 45 minutes, do you really want to be taking that stuff? How do they calculate this kind of data? Statistical analysis. Shocking that it can be humane and human and kind to use stats. Really really shocking.
    Is there an ulterior motive here? Think what you need to think. And note that even as I am being accused of creating endless straw men, so you too may be guilty of the same crime.
    And …, I’m glad you’re enjoying this as well!
    Paul, you write,
    “Watching your recent arguments, watching how you use
    skeptical arguments, analysis, empirical research and loads of
    data, watching how you concentrate all of your energy on ONE
    PARTICULAR STATEMENT – i.e. that AIPAC is a powerful lobby –
    (instead of simply stating that EVERYTHING said here is highly
    questionable, because it certainly is – in light of philosophical
    skepticism and empirical research),”
    And somehow the parenthetical remark makes the rest of the point a little odd to my ear. That “because it certainly is — in light of skepticism and empirical research” note seems to contradict your more central point that I’m wrong or horribly biased on a single issue.
    If empirical research calls into question the power of lobbying, and if the concept of power itself has some problems, then why is it suspicious that I call it into question? And here we come right smack to the “hasbara” issue. If I have problems with a concept that is problematic, and if I have problems with claims that aren’t really backed up by empirical data, then I’m the one who’s suspect? I’m working on this one.
    Also, “loads” of data? A few links from 538 dot com, and a mixed piece on language politics in Canada don’t make for “loads” of data IMHO. I’m not a statistician as I have admitted frequently. I wish I had the math fluency to study the field because I find it to be way more relevant than I ever used to think. Sadly, it’s one of the many things I don’t know well enough to put into practice.

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  8. ... says:

    are you folks having fun yet? all at questions expense, it seems! lolol!

    Reply

  9. arthurdecco says:

    “Being well read is not the yellow brick road to character, questions.” posted by POA
    He’s NOT well read, POA – he’s SELECTIVELY read. And selectively self-interpreted.
    Like all shallow thinkers are.
    U and I and all the rest of us who think while we’re living – we’re wasting our outrage on robotic, unresponsive imbeciles – ya know that?
    (So…what does that make us?!? [rolls eyes])

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Intent and context define “pro-israel” in my comments. When used to describe you, yes, its an unflattering label, because you have shown me time and time again that “pro-Isreal”, to you, means you will spin, twist, bullshit, and obscure unabashedly to lay down your particular line of horseshit.
    But when describing the actions of groups such as Peace Now, or individuals such as Jimmy Carter, “pro-israel” takes on a totally different meaning.
    So once again, questions, you’ve made a big effin’ deal out of nothing, in your perpetual quest to obscure, over-intellectualize, and create strawmen.
    Being well read is not the yellow brick road to character, questions.

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  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Ok questions,
    here we go – hopefully for the last time on the AIPAC issue.
    You claim that:
    a) AIPAC has NO significant influence in US politics.
    b) Lobbies in general have NO significant influence – because if
    they win, it`s because many people and organizations agree
    with them, and if they lose, it`s because so few people and
    organizations agree with them. Ergo: No influence! Lobbies are,
    according to your view, entirely superfluous entities. A waste of
    money and efforts.
    c) It is impossible for anyone to claim that AIPAC has any power
    unless they define power philosophically, and can prove with
    statistical material and credible analysis that some entities have
    any kind of influence on anything.
    Right?
    Well, to me this sounds like sophism masked as philosophical
    skepticism and empirical research, or unacknowledged
    sympathies and antipathies camouflaged as philosophy and
    hidden behind loads of data.
    As a perennial student of philosophy, you know very well that if
    you want to go there, you may end up at a place where no
    statements make sense. You`ll end up in muddy waters defining
    even the simplest concepts, the simplest statements.
    Fine. Most commenters here may not have visited those
    philosophical landscapes, or they may have said to themselves:
    “No thank you”, because they want to act within, or say
    something that may be meaningful in a political context.
    Anyone may effortlessly demonstrate that any kind of statement
    is not ultimately based on absolutely certain fundaments. But
    bloggers may be content with less than absolutely certain
    statements— because they may be aware of the fact that
    absolute certainty is not available among mortals, or simply
    because they want to say something that makes sense within a
    political language!
    Given this, you may either claim that everything said at TWN is
    bullshit, in accordance to your methods, or accept certain
    inaccuracies – because THIS IS A BLOG, AND NOT A SCIENTIFIC
    OR PHILOSOPHICAL INSTITUTE.
    Watching your recent arguments, watching how you use
    skeptical arguments, analysis, empirical research and loads of
    data, watching how you concentrate all of your energy on ONE
    PARTICULAR STATEMENT – i.e. that AIPAC is a powerful lobby –
    (instead of simply stating that EVERYTHING said here is highly
    questionable, because it certainly is – in light of philosophical
    skepticism and empirical research), make me and others think
    that you may have a very strong reason to try to convince us
    that AIPAC has no significant power. In addition, you argue
    against strawmen – as I have pointed out before.
    So, due to your methods, due to your choice of statements to
    argue against, due to you insistence, I am forced to look at
    possible motives – an aspect I usually try to avoid on internet
    discussions.
    Why are you so eager to prove that AIPAC is impotent, among
    all the issues you could use your analytical powers and
    knowledge to focus on?

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  12. questions says:

    Thanks you two, you can always be counted on!
    And POA, instead of insulting, maybe you could correct…. What does it mean, for you, as opposed to for my interpretation of you, for someone to be “pro-Israel?” I think I’m pro-Israel, and yet a critic, but you accuse me repeatedly of being a hasbarite. And what you say about WigWag…. So go ahead and correct my reading so that I don’t argue against straw men. I’d prefer to get your views correct than to turn you into a scare crow and leave you out on a field somewhere.
    What does it mean to be “pro-Israel?”
    And arthurdecco, I really don’t understand your phrase, “Densely wrapped in statistics to the detriment of reason.” Please explain. And feel FREE to CAPITALIZE all YOU wAnT.

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  13. arthurdecco says:

    Posted by questions, “I’m sorry to be dense, if I am.”
    “If” you are!?! Ha Ha…Oh yessirree! You are without a doubt dense, questions. Densely wrapped in statistics to the detriment of reason.
    (Can I capitalize that for emphasis?)
    … DENSE!!!!!

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    “I’m not convinced of this point actually. I suspect that many posters here think that AIPAC actually structures the political process more than that it participates as one actor among many.” questions
    Of course we do.
    We’re informed, not delusional or dishonest.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “When POA (here I go again) says “pro-Israel” my sense is that POA means it as a slur and means it to suggest that anyone who is “Pro-Israel” cannot conceive of criticisms of it”
    Well, thats because you’re an asshole, and can’t drool your over-intellectualized pap without consistently creating strawmen to argue against.
    But thats OK questions, you long ago lived down to my low expectations of you, so don’t change tactics now. You’ve made a science out of creating strawmen, why change it?

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    I’m sorry to be dense, if I am.
    I’m not sure I would want to characterize any one factor as the “tipping point” in decision-making. I don’t think first-hand accounts are very accurate in weighing what the “tipping point is” — I bought the ice cream cone, in the end, because someone gave me money for it — does the money outweigh the craving for ice cream, the heat of the day, the high butterfat content, the chocolate, the Pavlovian ringing of the ice cream truck bell? Now, maybe the money was the last thing on the list, but that doesn’t really mean it tipped the scale, for I might well have gotten it absent the money, just before the truck pulled away. Decision-making is, dare I say it, (aaarghhhh!) complex.
    So still, the status of money can’t be determined with any kind of precision — which point has been my major issue throughout. Posters seem to want an exactitude that doesn’t seem to exist, and simultaneously determine very significant policy based on this inexact reading, and simultaneously, hold on to a kind of self-certainty and righteousness that the “evidence” doesn’t warrant.
    If you want to say that US politics is screwy, say that. Don’t create merely seeming-factual accounts of perversions of the right and true way. Be an ideologue. It’s more intellectually honest than talking about objective power and objective influence and perversions of national purpose and “tipping points” that, IMHO don’t necessarily tip.
    And if you want to call money the tipping point, why not call your favorite uncle who told you about Israel the tipping point, or a story you read when you were a kid, or a staffer, or a potential challenger who is the child of a Holocaust survivor and can tell moving stories? Anything could be a tipping point, so I don’t want to single out money.
    Hope I’m not being obtuse. And I hope I’m not driving you crazy….
    (And allergic to metaphorical numbers — I think it’s a newer trait, but yeah, I probably am at some level for which I will not supply a metaphorical number.)

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    “And please don’t use numbers like “47/53%” of the time —
    there’s no basis for that unless you have a data set and the
    analysis.”
    What?!
    I noticed the other day that you personally happen to be allergic
    against the common use of numbers metaphorically, but I, like
    most people, actually use numbers as metaphors when they may
    clarify my point.
    49/51, 48/52. 47/53… Tipping the scales… Influence…
    Do you understand what I`m saying, or do I have to provide a
    data set and the analysis? Come on, Questions!

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    “Absolutely
    everybody understand that AIPAC does not exist in a vacuum, or
    in an exclusive interaction (“political process”) with members of
    Congress.”
    I’m not convinced of this point actually. I suspect that many posters here think that AIPAC actually structures the political process more than that it participates as one actor among many. After all, we’re often regaled with tales of AIPAC’s unstoppable force and unbelievable success in everything it tries. Mere mortals lose their jobs for no other reason than AIPAC’s preferences. Money moves only because AIPAC says so. Facts disappear, nations disappear, options disappear, former congresswomen disappear and so on.
    And the descriptions don’t ever seem to carry with them reasonable qualifiers. Is it because everyone already knows the qualifiers? I’m not so sure. I think it’s because the story tellers don’t believe in the qualifiers.

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  19. questions says:

    It’s a theoretician’s issue what the nature of power is and if the word makes sense to use. I can’t say as I want to die any time soon, and I can’t say as I want to be beaten to death by a police officer. So a police officer in a sense has power over me, but that power really rests on my fear of death.
    In Iran right now, many people are overcoming that fear of being beaten to death by police and so the police are losing power over many people.
    What, then, is this power? Is it in the police officers’ batons, in their muscles, in the laws, in the people’s fear of death? It’s unclear to me entirely what “power” is.
    In the same way, as I noted above with the Justice Jackson thing, power is powerful when everyone or most want what power wants. And power isn’t much of anything when what power wants is unwanted by everyone else.
    So again I say that AIPAC’s alleged power comes more from the fact that what AIPAC wants fits in with what defense contractors, constituents, and lots of other interests all want. So is it AIPAC or is it a collective desire?
    I think this distinction is crucial for understanding how political systems work. Power is much more amorphous, much less locatable, much more unclear than the AIPAC/TWN model would allow.
    And please don’t use numbers like “47/53%” of the time — there’s no basis for that unless you have a data set and the analysis. And what is “methods”, I’m unclear. “Money” I get. Procedure, constituents, ideology, media, other branches of government, staff ability, staff interest, opposition research, re-districting, personal preference, personal experience, world-historical events, life-altering situations…. All of these can have HUGE impacts on voting records. Does it all fit under “method”? It certainly doesn’t fit under “money.”
    (MCs who have had major health crises might overcome money and or ideology to support the public option because they “get it”. And MCs who already oppose the public option might well get extra money from a lobby….)
    It’s kind of the opposite of Platonism, actually. At TWN, power is reified. In my brain, it isn’t.
    And totally and completely off topic, is Palin facing: book money, Fox News money, a move to the mainland, a major scandal, mommy fatigue, an internal Alaskan debacle she doesn’t want to deal with (budget or the like), or what? “A full-court press” doesn’t seem really likely to me. Enquiring minds want to know!

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  20. Paul Norheim says:

    QUESTIONS: “If I’ve used the phrase “utterly insignificant” it’s
    probably a bad choice of words, and I apologize for that.”
    PAUL: I used that phrase to describe what I interpreted as your
    position.
    QUESTIONS: “What I would contend, rather, is that it is a
    contextualized power”.
    PAUL: Not one of your opponent in the recent discussions have
    disagreed that AIPAC is a “contextualized power”. Absolutely
    everybody understand that AIPAC does not exist in a vacuum, or
    in an exclusive interaction (“political process”) with members of
    Congress.
    QUESTIONS: “…and may in a sense be illusory because it is not
    a unitary actor”.
    PAUL: That phrase is perhaps even worse than “utterly
    insignificant”.
    QUESTIONS: “Change the structures and the “power” may well
    evaporate.”
    PAUL: Who do you think would disagree with that general
    statement?
    You think in either/or terms: in absolute terms (because you
    interpret your opponent as thinking in absolute terms).
    The goal for AIPAC is not to “control America” or get all the
    votes, but to secure the majority of the votes. That is sufficient,
    politically. And in a, say, 47/53% situation, money and methods
    count. It`s as simple as that.

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  21. questions says:

    oops — confirmation hearing!

    Reply

  22. questions says:

    Paul, maybe this one will help — here’s one of the many characterizations of Supreme Court Justice Jackson’s view of executive power — it came up repeatedly in, I think it was, Roberts’s confirmatin hearing (maybe Alito?):
    “Executive power is at its highest point when the president acts consistently with express congressional authorization, at its lowest ebb when he acts in contravention of a statute, and somewhere in the middle when he acts without the legislature’s weighing in one way or another.”
    I think AIPAC works the same way. AIPAC’s power is highest when what it wants is what lots and lots of people want and so push their reps. It is at its lowest point when it wants what will unelect MCs who want to keep their jobs.
    I go a step further. If power is at its highest point when other power bolsters it, then where really is the power?
    If I’ve used the phrase “utterly insignificant” it’s probably a bad choice of words, and I apologize for that. What I would contend, rather, is that it is a contextualized power, and so is murky in its boundaries and may in a sense be illusory because it is not a unitary actor, but rather is a structural player. Change the structures and the “power” may well evaporate. Not quite the same as “utterly insignificant.”
    And don’t “be afraid” of my crazy positions. I’m open to being convinced that I’m wrong. And I would guess that if, say, Nate Silver came out with one of his beautiful data sets on AIPAC and a reasonable series of congressional votes and concluded that money was the only/main/most significant/really telling variable in play, not DW-NOMINATE (dynamic, weighted, nominal three-step estimation — ideological leanings) scores or PVIs (partisan voting index) or constituent pressure or a challenger in the offing, or executive pressure, or defense spending or the like, I’d be quite willing to say, “Oops. I was so wrong.”
    I don’t think that it’ll happen quite this way, but I am open to the future possibility of congressional scholarship. It’s really pretty interesting stuff.

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    “So, indeed, WigWag is “pro-Israel” but not in an unthinking,
    unnuanced way”.
    Fine, Questions – I agree with that statement. After watching you
    repeatedly describing AIPAC as an utterly insignificant player in
    US politics, I was sincerely afraid you were going to insist that
    WigWag is not pro-Israel – just a nuanced realist with no biases
    whatsoever…

    Reply

  24. questions says:

    Paul,
    Sorry to be inexact. I meant “pro-Israel” the way I see POA’s thinking about the phrase — as in “Israel is always utterly right, ought to be killing even more Gazans” and the like. Probably what I need to do is get POA out of my brain. I end up taking on his positions (or my sense of his positions) and attacks more than I should. I think WigWag’s position is far more nuanced than POA allows, and hence WigWag isn’t “pro-Israel” the way it seems to be defined here as completely supportive and wishing and dreaming of more.
    WigWag strikes me as quite able to criticize Israel’s actions within a reasonable framework of defending both Israel’s right to exist and Israel’s right to defend itself against what it sees as significant and credible threats. And I think that WigWag sees Israel as a super-realist state. Given that Steve has his own kind of realism, I think that WigWag’s suggestion of Israel’s realism shows an interesting tension between, I guess you could say, “My realism” (which is okay) and “Your realism” (which is taken to be unacceptable.)
    When POA (here I go again) says “pro-Israel” my sense is that POA means it as a slur and means it to suggest that anyone who is “Pro-Israel” cannot conceive of criticisms of it. WigWag expresses criticisms of Israeli behavior regularly enough that I take WigWag to be not insanely “pro-Israel”.
    So, indeed, WigWag is “pro-Israel” but not in an unthinking, unnuanced way, and certainly not in the way I take POA to mean.
    As for the lobbying issue, once again what I’m responding to is what I take to be a caricature of how lobbying works, and I don’t see AIPAC as this caricature. It is one factor among many, yadda yadda yadda, and its imminent collapse (if Carroll is right) suggests the same.
    I’m just not particularly motivated by conspiracy theories, by patterns found after the fact. I think the structures of institutions and the motivations of individuals make for a significantly more compelling explanatory mechanism.
    Once again,
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/07/who-voted-for-climate-bill-and-why.html
    the Nate Silver piece on the cap and trade bill. There’s more to legislation than bought and sold politicians. And despite the occasional protestation about how everyone here seems to agree that lobbying is only one factor, lobbying, especially AIPAC’s version, is so over-emphasized as to be almost comical.
    In fact, it’s really the only legislative motivation people bring up. I can’t remember a post that talked about the constituents of some district or other and how they pushed for something. I can’t remember anyone’s noting that there are ideologically committed MCs who, despite lobbying, will vote a particular way. There just seems to be a huge concern about lost masculinity and the one cause of that loss.

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  25. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    I notice that you`ve become an eager moral supporter of the
    democratic opposition in Iran – in contrast to your frequently
    expressed contempt for the “Arab streets”… instead celebrating
    the fact that the dictators of certain Arab states would like to see
    Israel actively weakening Iran and it`s allies. Touching.
    I admit that it`s a bit fascinating to watch you playing with your
    tin soldiers, hoping that the interests and aspirations of Israel will
    concur with the laws of Realpolitik.

    Reply

  26. WigWag says:

    “Ask any leader of the Arab states if Israel is NOT an aggressor, and I would be very surprised if they agreed.”
    I am sure that you are right, Paul. They would certainly say that Israel is aggressive. The fly in the ointment is that at least 50 percent of the time they appreciate that aggression.
    It’s pretty obvious that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority not only supported the Israeli invasion of Gaza, they encouraged it and they provided logistical assistance and diplomatic cover. Their only disappointment was that the Israelis weren’t aggressive enough with Hamas.
    It’s a rather extraordinary development that Egypt is now actually assisting the Israeli navy by allowing Israeli submarines to traverse the Suez Canal, on the surface where everyone can see, no less. Who would have thought the day would come when the IDF and the Egyptians would be allies? Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan (and probably the Palestinian Authority) not only want Israel to be aggressive with Iran they will probably assist Israel’s aggression both overtly and covertly.
    There are times the Arab States undoubtedly think the Israelis are to aggressive; but there are certainly times they wish Israel would be even more aggressive.

    Reply

  27. Paul Norheim says:

    I agree, …
    WigWag is as frank and open as anyone here with regards to his positions, sympathies and antipathies – and not
    “dishonest”, as some of his opponents have made it a habit to accuse him of being. During the Gaza attacks, WigWag
    expressed what probably was the mainstream Israeli position. To me he said in a comment some months ago that he
    supports Barak, and not Netanyahu. But after the Iranian elections WigWag clearly is on the same side as the hawkish
    rightwingers in Israel and the neocons in America: Attack! Attack!
    But sometimes his claims are dubious, like in a comment above:
    First he quotes DWG: “Israel, the PROVEN aggressor in the region?”
    WigWag`s comment: “You may see it that way, but the United States doesn’t see it that way and neither does the European
    Union which is currently considering pulling all of their ambassadors from Iran in mass.
    More importantly, most of the Arab States don’t see it that way either.”
    50 % correct, 50 % incorrect (with the exception of the United States). Ask any leader of the Arab states if Israel is NOT an
    aggressor, and I would be very surprised if they agreed – despite their position vis a vis Iran.
    And Questions, just like I don´t know what to say about your absurd claim that AIPAC was/is not powerful, and that AIPAC
    money and methods don`t play ANY significant role, I don`t know what to say when you claim (as you did on another
    recent thread) that WigWag is not pro-Israel – just a “realist”! For heaven`s sake, WigWag has several times openly said
    that he is pro-Israel, so I don´t understand why you are tempted to deny the obvious once again. These kinds of claims
    (and arguing methods) do not make you a disciple of Socrates at TWN, but of the sophists.

    Reply

  28. ... says:

    wigwag is a good source for expressing the exact opposite viewpoint, which some folks may overlook and appreciate reading… kudos for wigwag for expressing what appears to be a right winged israeli centric viewpoint so well…

    Reply

  29. Outraged American says:

    Why do you waste your time with The Wigster? Spend that time
    alerting “your” Congress Reps that your eyes are no longer closed
    RE: Israel and her meddling in our affairs.
    Alert your neighbors, grocery store clerks, dermatologist, lawn
    mower person should you have one, that Iran is not threat to the
    U.S., but if Israel gets her way their kids will be fighting the war to
    end all wars (because after it we’ll all be dead).
    To all: I’m guest-hosting two radio shows next week. Here’s your
    chance to rant at me and at our guests in person. If anyone is
    interested, let me know and I’ll post the call-in number on this site
    if it’s OK w/ Steve.

    Reply

  30. ... says:

    there are only three options for dealing with isreals’s nuclear weapons: (1) Feign ignorance ;(2) sanctions; (3) prepare for military action.
    wigwag are you capable of smoking what you are offering others here?

    Reply

  31. WigWag says:

    “Israel, the PROVEN aggressor in the region?” (DWG)
    You may see it that way, but the United States doesn’t see it that way and neither does the European Union which is currently considering pulling all of their ambassadors from Iran in mass.
    More importantly, most of the Arab States don’t see it that way either. They are obviously more comfortable aiding the Israeli military in the full light of day than they are with trying to reconcile with Iran.
    The Iranians are more alone than ever. They have their crazy buddies/vassals in Hamas and Hezbollah but even their friends, the Syrians, are looking at Iran more warily.
    You haven’t fallen through the looking glass, DWG, you just need to adjust your spectacles.
    Cohen has it all wrong. What has he been drinking? (David)
    Cohen’s been drinking the tap water in Tehran, David. That’s where he’s been for the past month. He’s witnessed the barbarity of the Iranian coup meisters first hand. He’s decided that if Obama were to negotiate with khamanei and company that he would be spitting in the face of the majority of Iranians who oppose the regime.
    Cohen’s decided that it’s in the long term interests of the United States to side with the Iranian people not the mullahs and thugs who masterminded the coup.
    There are only three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions: (1) Feign ignorance ;(2) sanctions; (3) military action.
    From his previous columns we know Cohen thinks an Iran with nuclear weapons is a bad idea so we know he doesn’t want to feign ignorance. That must mean that he now supports either sanctions or an attack.
    Perhaps before long Cohen will tell us his precise prescription.
    Perhaps, David, if you had spent the past month in Iran, your views might have changed too.

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  32. ... says:

    trust wigwag to remind us of war 24/7, who the enemy is and keep us up to date as free agent for israels pr machine..

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  33. David says:

    Iran is being put on notice for what? Who have they attacked, invaded, or threatened militarily? Cohen has it all wrong. What has he been drinking? The open hand has to stay open, and peaceful negotiations are the only sane policy, You are not going to intimidate Iran, and any attempts at intimidation, particularly nuclear intimidation, are a dead end street, and I do mean dead end.
    Tactical nuclear weapons, that love child of the American right? That’s like tactical chlordane or the tactical use of lead oxide in paint writ very, very large. The mindset is the same, the consequences unthinkable.

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  34. dwg says:

    And IRAN is the nuclear threat here? They don’t even have a weapon… or a delivery system
    but ISRAEL is allowed to sail around the region, rattling sabers with submarines bearing “nuclear tipped” missiles??!! Israel, the PROVEN aggressor in the region?!?!(see Lebanon 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006, Iraq 1981, Syria 2007 and of course, Gaza last January not to mention continuing aggression and violations of International Law in Occupied Territories.
    I believe I have fallen through the looking glass. Again.
    And I can’t think of a better reason why other Middle East countries would WANT to develop a nuclear arsenal.

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  35. WigWag says:

    Speaking of Middle East options, yesterday Israel sent a dolphin class submarine through the Suez Canal. These Dolphin Class submarines were donated at no cost to Israel by Germany and two more will be donated next year. The submarine is capable of carrying nuclear tipped cruise missiles although its torpedo tubes are too small to permit the firing of long range missiles. These submarines provide both a first strike launch capability against Iran and more importantly, gives Israel a second strike capability that is at the heart of deterrence.
    Interestingly, the submarine passed through the canal on the surface and not submerged which means that the intent was almost certainly to send a message to Iran.
    Of course these submarines could not pass through the canal without the express permission of the Egyptian Government. This suggests a further warming of relations between Egypt and Israel and suggests that Egypt as well as Israel is seeking to send the Iranians a message.
    One can’t help but wonder whether the opening of the Suez Canal to Israeli naval forces was brokered by George Mitchell as part of the Obama Administrations effort to provide Israel with incentives from Arab governments to implement a temporary settlement freeze.
    My guess is that the United States, Egypt and Israel are working together to send a message to Iran that Iranian bellicosity will have consequences.
    Even die hard advocates of engaging Iran like Roger Cohen are now recommending that Obama give up on talks with the Iranians, at least for a protracted period of time. This is what Cohen said in his column today.
    “…Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may begin to unclench their fist, as isolation and sullen defiance grow, in a bid to deliver what they would not allow the reformists to initiate: détente with America.
    Obama must leave them dangling for the foreseeable future. He should refrain indefinitely from talk of engagement.”
    It looks like Cohen’s sojourn in Iran has caused an almost total reversal of the ideas he was peddling just a few short months ago. Maybe Steve Clemons can arrange a hotel room in Tehran for Flynt Leverett; he might learn something too.
    Israeli naval vessels going through the Suez, although its happened several times before, is a very big deal. The importance of overt Egyptian assistance to the Israeli military is no small thing. Undoubtedly Egypt notified its Sunni Arab friends, especially the Saudis and Jordanians in advance to make sure they didn’t object.
    It may also mean that the Obama Administration is souring on the prospects of successfully engaging Iran and that it now believes that the time for more muscular action has arrived.
    This could be the start of a sequence of events vis a vis Iran that no one expected before the recent Iran election imbroglio.
    For those who might be interested, here’s part of the article from the Jerusalem Post,
    Jul 3, 2009 1:34 | Updated Jul 3, 2009 1:44
    In possible signal to Iran, Israel sends subs through Suez Canal
    By YAAKOV KATZ
    “After a long hiatus, the Israeli Navy has returned to sailing through the Suez Canal, recently sending one of its advanced Dolphin-class submarines through the waterway to participate in naval maneuvers off the Eilat coast in the Red Sea.
    …the Dolphin-class submarine sailed through last tonth to get from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Israeli officials said it passed through the canal above water, and that it was not done covertly.
    “It is a question of policy,” a senior officer explained. “Navy vessels have sailed through the canal on several occasions recently.”
    …In the event of a conflict with Iran, and if Israel decided to involve its three Dolphin-class submarines – which according to foreign reports can fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and serve as a second-strike platform – the quickest route would be to send them through the Suez Canal.
    The only way to get to the Gulf of Oman without refueling would be to go through the canal. With their reported 4,500 nautical mile range, taking the long way, around Africa, would require the Dolphins to make at least two stops for refueling at a friendly port, or for fuel to be replenished at sea.

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  36. Mr.Murder says:

    Informed Comment made some of the best notes of how news of bombings in Kurdistan shape or resulted from other actions in the north.
    Quite a contrast is offered in his blog, he contends the extended civil war will go on….

    Reply

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