CNN’s Blogger Bunch on Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, Middle East, Nukes & Obama

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CNN.com’s Reggie Acqi hosted a terrific discussion with four bloggers — Adam Kushner of Newsweek; Omid Memarian from Human Rights Watch; Fausta Wertz of Faustasblog.com, and myself from The Washington Note — on the subject of American engagement with problematic countries and leaders, like Libya’s Qaddafi and Iran’s Ahmadinejad, during the United Nations General Assembly.
Qaddafi really did make me chuckle when he said that the UN should be moved out of New York because of his jet lag — and that he thanked President Obama for hosting him for his first ever UN General Assembly visit, commenting that President Obama should be President for life.
As much as Colonel Qaddafi can frustrate folks as the UN’s court jester this week, we need to remember that in the realm of serious nuclear non-proliferation matters, Libya is a success story. Iran is not. I would be happy to tolerate all sorts of lesser problems with Libya in part exchange for getting off the rogue nation track. People need to keep that in mind as they ridicule Libya’s leader. I found that he made this week here much more dynamic and interesting – and he added some creative drama.
I also spoke about the Israel/Palestine meeting that President Obama organized yesterday, and the President’s home run speech today.
In my comments on CNN, I also got to reference that President Obama will be chairing tomorrow morning a head of state-level meeting of the UN Security Council on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament, though I said US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was chairing. Small goof, but Ambassador Rice is the key scripter of tomorrow’s historic meeting and also had major input into the President’s UN General Assembly speech today.
As a side note, I want to give a shout out to Basel Hamdan, a producer for Michael Moore. I had not met Basel until today, but he was kind enough to abandon the paparazzi-followed Moore for a moment in the Time Warner Building in New York and walk over to me and ask if I might be “the blogger.”
Basel has followed TWN for a long time — and I too am a big fan of Michael Moore’s provocative documentaries (and can’t wait to see Capitalism: A Love Story). And then Basel introduced me to Michael Moore who was gracious enough to say that he too had looked at the blog — made my day (!)….and got me hooked on his next film even before I’ve seen it.

Here’s the trailer to make it easy for you.
Moore has been saying he is going to give up making documentaries as the Dems got in and not a lot has changed. He wants to make some fiction. I want him to keep doing what he is doing.
So, enjoy the exchange posted above, but also — those of you who admire the iconoclastic Michael Moore like I do — ask him to stay in the business of holding a mirror squished against the American face. And if you aren’t into Michael Moore, well…keep it to yourself today.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

64 comments on “CNN’s Blogger Bunch on Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, Middle East, Nukes & Obama

  1. Doodiepants says:

    A-Jad is always good for a laugh. But unfortunately now he’ll be forced to exterminate himself.
    http://doodiepants.com/2009/10/04/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-forced-to-exterminate-himself-jewish/

    Reply

  2. Kathleen Grasso Adersen says:

    POA,,MM must have read your comment here about his apperance bec asue thisx week whenb he was guest on The Dailky show, he was cleanshaved, wore a nice sport coat..still had the baseball cap, but overall, he looked good…maybe it’s more synchroniucity???

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    Hey, y’all, I thought I saw that Iran admitted that they had this facility. So if that’s the case, is it still aluminum-tubesy?
    Kind of hope we don’t do much in the way of sanctions. They’re a nasty business.
    But it’s a Hobbesian world out there. Pretty fucking depressing.

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    I think it should be clear by now that there will be no military attack against Iran
    in this round. But there will probably be more or less harsh sanctions – depending
    on the vote of Russia and China. Here is some of what Robert Gates said to CNN:
    “US Gates: Any Military Action Against Iran Would Only ‘Buy Time’ -CNN
    Friday, Sep 25, 2009
    WASHINGTON (AFP)–Any military action against Iran would only “buy time” and delay
    Iran’s nuclear program one to three years, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said
    Friday.
    “The reality is there is no military option that does anything more than buy time,”
    Gates said in an interview with CNN.
    “The estimates are one to three years or so,” Gates said, when asked about military
    options over Iran’s disputed nuclear work.
    Gates said while the United States would not rule out the use of force, there is
    still time for diplomacy and sanctions to persuade Iran to give up uranium
    enrichment work.”

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    File this one right next to the “mobile biological weapons labs”.
    Damn, are Americans going to fall for this shit all over again???
    Change, my ass.

    Reply

  6. Outraged American says:

    In May 2005, I got the opportunity to question Bill Keller, editor-
    in-chief of the New York Times, because he was speaking at our
    mutual alma mater. I asked him if the New York Slimes was going
    to lie as much in the run-up to an attack on Iran as they did on
    Iraq. He said no, that the NYT would be much more cautious to
    check THEIR TOP REPORTERS’ SOURCES. Sanger’s article, or rather,
    LOAD OF BALONEY, in the NYT about Iran and the “secret nuclear
    plant” means that is obviously not the case.
    I’m betting this is aluminum tubes redux.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    “i am always shocked at the interest in iran acquiring nuclear ability, while
    israel is not signed on to the npt and it’s nuclear position is never discussed…
    it strikes me as extremely hypocritical or double standard… no rationale can
    explain this to me, but again we find our media focusing on only the former and
    never the later..”
    I absolutely agree. And this issue is BTW in all its aspects much more important
    than my rant against the permanent and boring anti-zionists on a thread above. I
    hope this discussion continues – critique of Israel included…

    Reply

  8. ... says:

    paul, things are unfolding very quickly and on track with your earlier prediction.. it’s clear this info on iran has been out for some time.. obama is using it and his recent drop of the shield for leverage with russia specifically.. this is also why iran decided to make the announcement now in advance of the pending announcement from obama/brown/sarkozy..
    i am always shocked at the interest in iran acquiring nuclear ability, while israel is not signed on to the npt and it’s nuclear position is never discussed… it strikes me as extremely hypocritical or double standard… no rationale can explain this to me, but again we find our media focusing on only the former and never the later..
    The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT or NNPT) is a treaty to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, opened for signature on July 1, 1968. There are currently 189 countries party to the treaty, five of which have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and France (also permanent members of the UN Security Council).
    Only four recognized sovereign states are not parties to the treaty: India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons. Israel has had a policy of opacity regarding its own nuclear weapons program. North Korea acceded to the treaty, violated it, and withdrew from it in 2003.
    The treaty was proposed by Ireland and Finland and they were the first to sign.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    The NYT article I linked to and quoted above has been extended during the last
    hours. I have to say that David Sanger and Steve`s friend Helene Cooper are not
    accurate when they claim that: “The enrichment program appears to run on a separate
    track from the weapons design program, in part because the Iranians claim the
    enrichment is solely for the purpose of producing fuel for nuclear power plants.”
    “appears to”?
    “the weapons design program”?
    They write as if the weapons program suddenly is a proved fact!
    The issue here is a secret plant. But neither Sanger nor Cooper can confirm that
    one of those is an enrichment program while the other is a “weapons design program”
    – can they? They don`t even know for sure where this site is. The information on
    this secret site is still scarce.
    Steve, could you please ask your friend Helene Cooper to be very careful with which
    words she and David Sanger chose to type on this issue?

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    To elaborate a bit on Obama`s tactical game here: He knew in advance about the
    secret facilities in Iran. Then he announced the abandonment of the missile
    defense system in Eastern Europe. And after that – just in the last couple of
    days – he informed the Russians and the Chinese about the hidden facilities in
    Iran.
    Clever.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    And here is Julian Borger from The Guardian on the breaking news:
    “Stunning news out of Pittsburgh. I have just been on the phone to the IAEA and they are running around
    trying to put a coherent line together, but they confirm the main facts of story, saying the best
    account of them to date is David Sanger’s in the New York Times.
    This changes every equation on Iran. All the estimates about how long it would take Iran to build a
    nuclear arsenal are built on the assumption that the process of enriching uranium was being closely
    monitored by the array of IAEA cameras and inspections in Natanz. IAEA inspectors calculated how fast
    Iran was producing Low Enriched Uranium Iran (it had amassed 1,508 kg by the last report in August) on
    the basis of the number of centrifuges it had installed there (8,000 by last count). The whole timeline
    was based on Natanz. So was Russia and China’s claim that there was still a lot of time for diplomacy
    to play out. Natanz was being watched, they argued, so any shift to produce Highly Enriched Uranium for
    weapons would be seen coming a long way ahead.
    All the estimates about Iran carried the caveat that there might be other, secret, enrichment
    facilities. The concern was heightened by the fact that IAEA inspectors were not allowed to visit the
    plant where the centrifuges were being manufactured, so they could not gauge if all of them were going
    to Natanz.
    This explains why Dmitry Medvedev emerged from his meeting with Obama in New York an apparently changed
    man, conceding that “in some cases, sanctions are inevitable”.
    Iran will have to do a lot now to avoid severe sanctions. It will first have to let the IAEA inspectors
    into the suspected plant at Qom. If the plant does exist – and it sounds like Tehran has already tried
    to prepare the IAEA for its existence with its recent cryptic letter about a pilot plant to the agency
    – then Iran would have to suspend all enrichment and agree to the IAEA’s additional protocol, allowing
    more invasive inspections.
    It will be interesting to see if next Thursday’s planned meeting in Geneva between the E3+3 group and
    the Iranians will go ahead. If it does, it will be an almighty showdown.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2009/sep/25/iran-nuclear-qom-g20

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Let me add to the comment above: I would also assume that there have been talks
    between USA and Israel on this issue in advance – implying that Israel sees it
    as more likely that a sanctions regime may be achieved, thus delaying possible
    military actions.
    Some confusing messages recently from Israel may perhaps also be seen in light
    of this, like Barak admitting that Iran was not an “existential threat”; Peres
    assuring Medvedev some days ago that Israel will not attack Iran; an Israeli
    official correcting this, assuring that “all options are on the table” etc. etc.

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    As those who have read the interesting discussions on this thread may have noticed:
    when Russia`s P.M. Medvedev said yesterday that “In some cases, sanctions are
    inevitable”, I interpreted this as connected to America abandoning the missile defense
    system in Eastern Europe.
    However, I am sure it`s also connected to today`s breaking news story, where USA is
    going to accuse Iran of having a secret nuclear fuel site. Here is the New York Times
    version, where they claim that “In advance of this morning’s announcement, Mr. Obama
    dispatched top intelligence officials to brief the agency’s top inspector, Olli
    Heinonen, and other American diplomats and intelligence officials shared their finding
    with China, Russia and Germany, all key players in the negotiations with Iran.”
    An excerpt:
    U.S. to Accuse Iran of Having Secret Nuclear Fuel Facility
    By DAVID E. SANGER
    Published: September 25, 2009
    PITTSBURGH – President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France will accuse Iran
    Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying it
    has hidden the covert operation for years from international weapons inspectors,
    according to senior administration officials.
    The revelation, which the three leaders will make before the opening of the G-20
    economic summit here, appears bound to add urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with
    Iran over its suspected ambitions to build a nuclear weapons capability. Mr. Obama,
    along with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of
    France, will demand that the country allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to
    conduct an immediate inspection of the facility, which is 100 miles southwest of
    Tehran.
    American officials say that they have been tracking the covert project for years, but
    that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in
    recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding
    the project. On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic
    Energy Agency, saying that it now had a “pilot plant” under construction, whose
    existence it had never before revealed.
    But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing about the plant during his visit this
    week to the United Nations, where he repeated his contention that Iran had cooperated
    fully with inspectors, and that allegations of a nuclear weapons program are
    fabrications.
    The newly-discovered enrichment plant is not yet in operation, American officials said,
    but could be next year.
    Mr. Obama’s planned announcement with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and
    President Nicolas Sarkozy of France will likely overshadow the meeting here of the
    Group of 20 industrial nations, whose leaders have gathered to plan the next steps in
    combating the global financial crisis. Instead, here and during the opening of the
    United Nations in New York, senior officials from several of the countries were pulled
    aside for briefings on the new intelligence, and strategy sessions about the first
    direct talks with Iran in 30 years that will include the United States.
    (…)
    For years, American intelligence officials have searched for a hidden site where Iran
    could enrich uranium in secret, far from the inspectors who now regularly monitor
    activity at a far larger plant at Natanz. (…) Administration officials could not
    immediately say if this site, built inside a mountain near the ancient city of Qom, one
    of the holiest Shiite cities in the Middle East, is included in that list.
    In advance of this morning’s announcement, Mr. Obama dispatched top intelligence
    officials to brief the agency’s top inspector, Olli Heinonen, and other American
    diplomats and intelligence officials shared their finding with China, Russia and
    Germany, all key players in the negotiations with Iran.
    read more here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/26/world/middleeast/26nuke.html?hp
    Readers and commenters, it looks like the WWIII scenario is a bit premature. I think
    we`ll enter the first phase of this duel: an economic sanctions regime – with or
    without the support of Russia and China – lasting for several years, just like the
    sanctions against Iraq during the 1990`s.

    Reply

  14. kotzabasis says:

    No, regrettably I have not read the essays you indicated above but having read some of his work long ago I always found Junger to be intellectually seductive.
    As for my “amphitheatre” and “gladiators” being a metaphor it’s explainable in itself once it’s ‘excavated’ from its origin in Roman history and from the shouts of the mob for PANEM ET CIRCENSES.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    “[the ‘fluid’ conservative realists have] “seen the Russian ‘Emperor’ with glee on his
    face dragging America’s benign power into the amphitheatre to be tangled in the net of
    the gladiators and slaughtered to the applause of the ignorant and ignoble crowd of
    anti-Americanism.”
    Could you be a little bit more specific on this, Kotz?
    Which amphitheatre, which gladiators?
    Fluid conservative realists… Kotz, have you ever read Ernst Jünger`s essays “Feuer
    und Bewegung”, “Der Kampf als innere Erlebnis”, or “Die Totale Mobilmachung”? He wrote
    all of them between the two world wars. I think you would appreciate them, but I`m not
    so sure all of them are translated. (They are available in French and Spanish,
    however).
    BTW, some months ago WigWag wrote some intriguing posts here on a possible mutual
    deterrence scenario between Israel and Iran, if the latter should obtain nuclear
    weapons. You may do a google search, because they are worth reading.

    Reply

  16. kotzabasis says:

    Norheim
    Of course Obama’s naive decision “on the missile shield” was to entice the Russians to come “on board” on sanctions. I predicted he would do this four months ago. But WigWag is not inflicted by the illusion, like you are that the Russians will come alone on sanctions. And as he correctly states, they will not do so unless they are offered much more such as “Nato expansion, support for Georgia and Ukraine, Kosovo and Bosnia/Republica Srpska.” Hence they will be putting a bigger noose around the neck of Obama’s diplomacy and will be pulling it so hard that there will be no flesh left on his neck, i.e., American power and prestige, other than the protruding bones of an anorexic superpower that would force America’s close allies to have second thoughts about the latter’s reliability. And the question then arises whether the Obama administration would go the whole hog, i.e., sacrifice all its allies on the altar of getting the by now out of the equation Russians, according to WigWag’s logic, since he believes that “harsh sanctions by the United States and Europe would still sting” without the Russians being on board.
    WigWag
    I’m surprised that you seem to see the conservative ‘brand’ of politics only in its old form of rigidity and not see the ‘new brand’ whose strength lies in its fluidity. It’s far from being the rather very simplistic case of failing to “stand up” to Russia. Analytically that is a very hacked and shallow conclusion. And you extrapolate an avalanche of wrong deductions from a possible American agreement with Russia on sanctions, while you irretrievably contradict your own argument. Russia is not in the game of strengthening America but of weakening it. And they see in Obama in his elemental personal debility and idealistic RESPECT ALL diplomacy, a perfect opportunity to achieve their great goal. It’s this that is of great concern to ‘fluid’ conservative realists and not because they carry some incurable virus from the “Cold War days.” It’s seen the Russian ‘Emperor’ with glee on his face dragging America’s benign power into the amphitheatre to be tangled in the net of the gladiators and slaughtered to the applause of the ignorant and ignoble crowd of anti-Americanism.
    And aren’t you contradicting your own argument when you say that “Russian acquiescence to harsh sanctions will be a real plus” (but at WHAT A PRICE) when you earlier stated that sanctions imposed by the US and Europe “will turn out to be more politically devastating” and at the same time taking the Russians out of the equation and hence making their “acquiescence” totally obsolete and thus saving the US from a politically and diplomatically ‘spending spree’? In view of this why even the stolid administration of Obama would not prioritize the interest of its strong allies in Eastern and Southern Europe next to an obsolete Russian “acquiescence?
    You also totally disregard Iran’s libido dominandi for the region and for the Islamic world that can be achieved more effectively in the carapace of nuclear weapons. To say therefore as you do, “but for the peace process, sanctions or military action against Iran would be far less likely,” is to be blind before the real aims of the theocratic regime and to assume that Western leadership will continue to be languidly supine before such a great threat.
    Lastly, it goes without saying, that the clever Israelis would of course welcome a Russian agreement on sanctions but would they be happy to see this at the expense of a weakened America, especially against Iran? And only one who has ‘rolling stones’ in his head would not see the great reasoning that lies in Israel’s good relationship with Russia. And how a brownie bird like you could have come to the conclusion that either Nadine or me disagree with Israel on this issue? I guess this could have only risen up from an errant nocturnal lucubration of yours.

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    paul, i think you have it basically correct…
    dan kervick, thanks for sharing your viewpoint which i am in agreement with..
    personally my view on empires is that they can decline a lot faster then some think is possible in this day and age.. teh way i see it, the usa is doing almost everything wrong, so a few more colossal screw ups are highly likely with the unintended consequence being the usa is relegated to the dustbin of history…it seems to me some posters are actively seeking this out(wigwag) showing much more loyalty to israel then the usa… this is my perception of him anyway.. with pockets of people like this, it’s much harder to keep a country together..
    wigwag quote “I actually foresee a day when Israel and Iran can be great allies.”
    i like how you articulate your priorities even if indirectly… the usa isn’t one of them.. you’d probably prefer not to be seen in this light.. with the lid coming off your well controlled appearance here at twn, it’s any guess as to when a few more wheels come rolling off..

    Reply

  18. WigWag says:

    There is little evidence that there is widespread “hatred” of Iran in Sunni Arab countries. Iran is viewed by many non-Iranians in the Middle East with concern or wariness, as is natural in the neighborhood of a very large and rising power. More Arabs now believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons than believed that last year. But a majority still believes Iran has a right to its nuclear program. (Dan Kervick)
    True enough; but the rulers of those Sunni Arab nations clearly hate and mistrust Iran. They’re the ones who Obama is relying on to grant concessions to the Israelis in order to facilitate the peace process. While I don’t think this strategy makes sense, Obama clearly does. It’s these leaders who are pressing Obama to do whatever it takes, including sanctions, to deter Iranian nuclear aspirations. By the way, it doesn’t matter whether you or I or anyone else thinks Iran has the desire to get nuclear weapons, the Sunni Arab leaders clearly do.
    Obama has made himself vulnerable to pressure from these potentates to press Iran hard because he so badly wants their cooperation in the Israel-Palestinian peace process. But for Obama’s desire to see a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, he would be freer to ignore Israeli and Arab pressure to impose sanctions on Iran.
    “I doubt these schemes are likely to endure. The United States, especially in it relations abroad, shows all the signs of a declining status quo power: a cynical, deeply corrupt elite at the top of a near-hopelessly dysfunctional political system; the hang-dog, top dog of a contracting economic order based on weapons, shakedowns…” (Dan Kervick)
    Every superpower in world history experienced decades of corruption, internal dissent, economic crisis and horrible foreign policy and even military disasters. Despite this, the life span of most empires/superpowers is measured in the hundreds of years. Events, that look to people living through them, as obvious precursors to decline, more often than not end up being much less consequential than the consensus opinion at the time believed. Superpowers tend to be far more resilient than most people give them credit for. But one thing that characterizes every superpower/empire is the fact that people living in it are always convinced that decline is just around the corner.
    “Over the long run, progressive change in the Middle East region is more likely to come from Iran – with its well-educated female population, richer history, more entrepreneurial and industrious spirit, and more politically engaged population – than from the ultra-conservative patriarchal monarchy of Saudi Arabia or its local cousins…” (Dan Kervick)
    I agree with this sentiment entirely. But obviously for it to happen the Mullahs need to fall and the well-educated, entrepreneurial classes that you’re referring to need to be empowered. These are the people who were chanting “No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will spill my blood for Iran” at the Al-Quds Day demonstration last week. And as we know, they put their lives at risk to do it.
    The question is how can the United States best empower this group of Iranians. I don’t know the answer to that; perhaps doing nothing is the right approach; perhaps some type of intervention is the right approach. What we do know is that sometimes interventions make progressive revolutions possible (e.g. French assistance to the American Revolution) and sometimes they make things worse.
    What we do know about the people in Iran that you’re pinning your hopes on to lead a progressive future in the Muslim World is that they don’t desire to emulate China or Russia and they don’t desire to emulate Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The country they wish to emulate is the United States. Its American culture, American intellectual achievement and American freedom that they admire.
    It’s rather remarkable I think, that most Iranian students don’t look to Britain or France or Denmark; they look to the United States for a brighter future. This must be particularly galling for the Mullahs. Perhaps it’s because Iranian exiles in the United States, who still have alot of friends and relatives in Iran, have prospered so much as a community. They not only have religious freedom to practice or not practice Islam, Judaism, or the Bahia faith; they’ve also done well economically. Many are professionals, many are in the academic world and most, while they miss Iran terribly, have a great love for the nation that took them in.
    If things go well for Iran, someday it has the opportunity to become the “Israel” of the Muslim world.
    I actually foresee a day when Israel and Iran can be great allies.
    Leaders of the Arab nations won’t like it; but then those leaderse seem on their way to becoming detritus, don’t they?

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    There is little evidence that there is widespread “hatred” of Iran in Sunni Arab countries. Iran is viewed by many non-Iranians in the Middle East with concern or wariness, as is natural in the neighborhood of a very large and rising power. More Arabs now believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons than believed that last last year. But a majority still believe Iran has a right to its nuclear program. When asked this summer to name the countries that pose the biggest threats, an overwhelming majority of Arabs chose either the US or Israel, with Iran down in in the low teens, just a bit ahead of China.
    At the elite level, there is of course great concern about Iran in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose old-guard, status quo leaders are more invested than most in the old, decaying balance of power. The Iraq war disrupted that balance of power, probably for good, along with the Saudi-contolled economic order that anchored it.
    Sectarian feeling has risen somewhat in the region, it is true, especially given the way sectarian and economic networks tend to overlap. The Iraq War was again ground zero for that rise in sectarian conflict, but conflict also appears to have been furthered by deliberate policies in the last couple of years of the Bush administration to promote a new sort of sectarian Cold War in the region.
    I doubt these schemes are likely to endure. The United States, especially in it relations abroad, shows all the signs of a declining status quo power: a cynical, deeply corrupt elite at the top of a near-hopelessly dysfunctional political system; the hang-dog, top dog of a contracting economic order based on weapons, shakedowns, Ponzi schemes and institutionalized embezzlement from their own people; antiquated and degenerate institutions so locked into place by established owners and stake-holders that it is incapable of transforming itself even for the sake of self-preservation; a belt of corporate-funded, wealth-serving beltway thinkeries in the place of an actual intellectual life in the nation’s capital; and a general decline of cultural life and the arts of civilization. I give Barack Obama credit for being willing to captain this rotting ship. Maybe his youthful optimism will enable him to see through to some better opportunity, and his growing realization of the depth of the problem will eventually give him the courage to stop trying to please the powerful, and do what has to be done.
    Over the long run, progressive change in the Middle East region is more likely to come from Iran – with its well-educated female population, richer history, more entrepreneurial and industrious spirit, and more politically engaged population – than from the ultra-conservative patriarchal monarchy of Saudi Arabia, or its local cousins. This is an area in which Bush’s policies might achieve some long-run good in a direction completely contrary to their actual intentions. Iran is the central spot in the future of the Middle East. Perhaps even Israel, with its well-developed intellectual culture, will manage to arrest its alarming rightward drift, and detach itself from its flirtation with the doomed, backward legacy states of the region.

    Reply

  20. pauline says:

    On Sibel Edmonds —
    “She discusses a well-organized foreign intelligence black market superstore, benefiting everyone from treasonous U.S. officials to operatives and governments in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, al-Qaeda, and beyond.”
    http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7427
    If the above has any truth, who really gives * r*t’s *ss about the rest of this misdirected foreign policy talk? hmm. . .?

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    IMHO the US would have attacked and occupied Iran long ago, except that there was no “cost free” way to do it. The only places the US has attacked since Vietnam are those that put up minimal resistance (Grenada, Panama, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan). The same is true of Israel, which is why they find bashing and humiliating Palestinians so much fun. Bashing Hezbollah used to be great sport, but those days are over. And the US should have learned something about supposedly “cost free” occupations from its misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    So if Norheim’s scenario is correct, the US will impose sanctions to weaken Iran, though Iran is quickly moving to power its vehicle fleet with natural gas, eliminating the effectiveness of sanctions on refined oil products. And the sanctions will probably be leaky, which means that the US will have once again exposed the limits of its power for all to see.
    So that puts the US in the uncomfortable position of having to attack an Iran that is not ripe for the picking, like Iraq was. Will the US be willing to risk really exposing the limits of its power? That depends only how much the US is obsessed with clinging to its bygone grandeur. Desperate bullies do crazy things.

    Reply

  22. Paul Norheim says:

    If I should make some wild guesses, I expect to see a combination of BOTH options in successive order:
    Economic sanctions of some sort during the Obama presidency (either universally applied and crippling,
    or “leaky” along the lines WigWag suggested); followed by military actions (by israel or the US) quite soon
    after the next US president is elected. The outcome of the health care reform efforts may indicate whether
    the bombs may fall after 2016 or as soon as 2012. This was how it happened in Iraq: first a decade of
    sanctions, then shock and awe.
    Just like Saddam, the leaders in Iran will in the end find it impossible to prove that they don`t have The
    Bomb hidden in a bunker somewhere deep in the mountains.
    The only event that may prevent this from happening is, I think, some “revolution” in Iran resulting in a
    pro Western regime.

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    wigwag quote “There is one common denominator between Israel, Fatah/Palestinian Authority and the Sunni Arab nations; hatred of Iran.”
    keep on talking about hatred and fanning the flames or sowing the seeds of the same…. it reflects poorly on you and particular ideology..

    Reply

  24. WigWag says:

    You make an interesting point here, Paul. I am fairly certain that Obama will do everything he can to make sure Israel doesn’t attack Iran and I am certain that the last thing in the world he wants to do is attack Iran either with air strikes or a ground invasion.
    This makes Obama even more dependant on Russian cooperation. The common wisdom is that for sanctions to be effective, they need to be severe and universally applied (as I stated in my comment at 11:15 am, I’m not sure I agree with that). Without Russian participation the sanctions regime will be leaky making it less likely to alter Iranian behavior.
    Obama is reluctant to attack Iran for all the right reasons, but he also has a political reason not to launch an attack.
    Unlike George W. Bush whose entire political strategy centered on keeping his base happy, Obama’s political strategy has been crafted around appealing to the great “center” in American politics, the feelings of the Obama base be damned.
    The “progressive” left that put Obama in office is already infuriated with him. They don’t like his wishy washy approach to health care, they’re highly suspicious of his strategy in Afghanistan and they’re about to be disappointed with his failure on the energy/climate front. If Obama attacks Iran, his political base will go ballistic (pun intended); it could get so bad that Obama couldn’t survive it politically.
    Obama’s best hope to avoid the need to attack Iran is to get Russian cooperation on sanctions which is why I think he will be willing to sacrifice alot to secure that cooperation.
    There’s another irony here. The very people who are most anxious for Obama to aggressively pursue peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are the same people most opposed to an American attack on Iran or even harsh sanctions on Iran.
    The irony of course is that but for the peace process, sanctions or a military action against Iran would be far less likely.
    If there’s to be a state in the West Bank, Israel can’t tolerate the possibility that it will procure rockets from Iran. If there’s no Palestinian state, there’s less reason to worry about Iran.
    If Obama wants negotiations to succeed he needs to weaken those actors that want to sabotage those negotiations; namely Hezbollah and Hamas. The only way to do that is to weaken their sponsor; Iran. Without negotiations this imperative wouldn’t exist.
    There is one common denominator between Israel, Fatah/Palestinian Authority and the Sunni Arab nations; hatred of Iran. If Obama didn’t need the cooperation of these parties to move the peace process forward, he could take a less belligerent position on Iran.
    It seems to me that supporters of an aggressive peace process are in the uncomfortable position of making a choice; do they want that “peace process” to move forward or do they want a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Iran.
    It seems pretty clear to me that they’re not going to get both.
    One last thing, Paul; I am sure you’re right. After a tough sanctions regime has been put in place, Obama’s going to turn to the Israelis, the Sunni Arab nations and the Palestinian Authority/Fatah and say, “I’ve delivered for you; now it’s your turn.”
    I hope he isn’t surprised when then all laugh in his face.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Make no mistake, an attack on Iran by the US, or Israel, could easily escalate into WW3.
    We have to consider the ineptitude, misteps, and outright malfeasance our government exhibited in its post invasion management of Iraq. (To say nothing of the lies and corruption of the pre-invasion marketing campaign). An inept military campaign against Iran would be disastrous. Worse, when we see the lack of unity that the Democratic Party is displaying towards our policies towards Israel and Afdghanistan, we are liable to be engaged in a deadly game that our leadership cannot reach a concensus as to what rules we play by, and what, exactly “winning” means.
    Should we refuse to support an Israeli attack on Iran, the Isrelis will simply go to plan “C”, a false flag Iranian attack on American interests directly following their attack on Iran.
    Plan “B”??? A false flag attack that gets US to initiate an attack on Iran.
    Plan “A”??? Insidiously and purposely impose suffering on the Iranian people, in the hopes that the unrest will weaken and unseat the current leaders so we can install some puppet, and create the same kind of clusterfuck we’ve created in Iraq with Maliki, and in Afghanistan with Karzai. Why have two rebellious, costly, and troublesome puppets draining the coffers when you can have three???? Besides, how can we get the entire Iranian population to hate our guts if we don’t fuck them over like we’ve done to the Iraqis and the Afghanis???
    Like Bush was fond of saying…..
    “Its haaaaard work”….
    (constructing a proper clusterfuck)

    Reply

  26. ... says:

    wigwag quote “and the U.S. President realizes that Iran is a major obstacle to the peace process…” i think he is smart enough to actually recognize how israel is ‘the’ major obstacle to a peace process, and ‘israeli controlled congress’ the next most major obstacle to a peace process…
    this is in spite of the constant spin of some here…

    Reply

  27. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    I basically agree with everything you say here – including your thoughts on the Sunni
    Arab perspective.
    You also said: “I think Obama’s true inclination is to be less belligerent to Iran.
    Unfortunately the logic of the peace process he’s so wedded to pushes him inevitably in
    the direction of confronting Iran. Every party to his peace process insists on sanctions
    against Iran and would actually prefer the U.S. to confront Iran militarily. Israel
    does; the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah does and every Sunni Arab State does.”
    True. Here is what I said about this in my original post from a few days ago (linked to
    in my first post about this, above on this thread):
    “The big irony here – if I am partly correct – is that when Washington allows itself to
    be pressured by hawks in Tel Aviv and rightwingers in the US Congress into a more
    confrontational position against Tehran, Washington itself may interpret such pressure
    against the mullahs in Tehran also as a pressure on the hawks in Tel Aviv in the next
    round.”
    And to add your point: Obama may also hope that such pressure may make the Sunni Arabs
    more forthcoming in the Peace Process.
    POA said: “This is a brilliant idea. Lets just cut off the flow of gasoline to Iran so
    we can cripple their economy and cause massive internal unrest. I mean it worked so well
    in Iraq, didn’t it? To cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children so we
    could eventually invade and kill a few hundred thousand more?”
    Yes. The big Western players may have steered the whole affair in a direction where they
    only provide two, perhaps three options:
    1) A sanctions regime akin to the US policies against Iraq under Clinton/Albright in the
    1990`s.
    3)a) A limited military operation, akin to the Israeli raids in Iraq in the beginning of
    the 1980`s – or b) on a bigger scale, more akin to the first Gulf war under George H.
    Bush. In both of these options, they may intend to withdraw instead of occupying the
    country and overthrow the rulers – hoping that the whole affair don`t escalate, and that
    the Iranian opposition will overthrow their own rulers.
    The outcome of all this options may be failure to achieve the objects, only resulting in
    the predictable “collateral damage”: immense suffering among civilians in Iran – and in
    case of the military option, across the border on an unknown scale.

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    Paul, there is simply no logical alternative to the basic idea you have suggested. Obama wants the peace process to move forward and the U.S. President realizes that Iran is a major obstacle to the peace process; Obama is right about that. You’ve pointed out that Israel insists on pressure on Iran if it’s going to move forward on the Palestinian front; that’s certainly true. But what you neglected to mention is that the Sunni Arab nations hate Iran as much or more than Israel does. I think it’s almost certain that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and, Jordan have told George Mitchell that goodwill gestures towards the Israelis (that Obama seems to want so badly) won’t be forthcoming unless two things happen; (1) the Israelis need to provide them with some positive gestures that allow them to save face and (2) the United States needs to pressure the party they perceive to be their most threatening enemy; Iran.
    Obama realizes two other things. He understands that the Israelis will never agree to a Palestinian nation in the West Bank if there is any chance at all that missiles constructed in Iran can ever find their way to a new Palestinian state. Secondly he realizes that weakening Iran further also weakens two fierce opponents to his peace process, Hezbollah and Hamas.
    I think Obama’s true inclination is to be less belligerent to Iran. Unfortunately the logic of the peace process he’s so wedded to pushes him inevitably in the direction of confronting Iran. Every party to his peace process insists on sanctions against Iran and would actually prefer the U.S. to confront Iran militarily. Israel does; the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah does and every Sunni Arab State does.
    From his perspective, to confront Iran successfully, Russian acquiescence to harsh sanctions will be a real plus. The result is that Obama has just started the process of trading chits to Russia in return for their cooperation.
    There is an irony in all of this. Conservatives like Kotzabasis and Nadine are far more suspicious of the Russians than the Israeli Government is. They can speak for themselves about whether my surmise is right or not; but whether it’s a carry over from the Cold War days or something else, conservatives are suspicious any time the United States fails to “stand up” to Russia.
    This is no longer true in Israel. Israel sees Russia as an increasingly important partner. A large portion of the Israeli population is Russian and has cultural ties to the “old country.” Russia and Israel have ever increasing commercial relations, especially in military equipment. Israel appreciates the fact that they never have to worry about criticism from the Russians on the human rights front (Russian behavior in Chechnya makes the War in Gaza look like a Girl Scout picnic). And Israel sees good relations with Russia (and China and India) as a counter balance to their overdependence on the United States. Israel also appreciates the fact that Russians don’t care about Palestinian aspirations.
    This is actually one of the few examples where people who have the views of Nadine and Kotzabasis disagree with Israel. Israel wants better relations between Russia and the United States for many reasons, not the least of which is that it increases the likelihood that harsh sanctions on Iran will be enacted.
    It’s conservatives who get nervous every time they see increased cooperation between Russia and the United States not Israelis.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This is a brilliant idea. Lets just cut off the flow of gasoline to Iran so we can cripple their economy and cause massive internal unrest. I mean it worked so well in Iraq, didn’t it? To cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children so we could eventually invade and kill a few hundred thousand more?
    Gotta love it, “crippling sanctions”. Who does it cripple, if not the people of Iran? How many million muslims can we kill if we expand our campaign of internatonal meddling?
    I am truly ashamed of my country to a degree I never thought possible. Every fibre of my moral being is offended by what we have become.

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    Interesting theory, …
    although I have no idea whether it`s true or not. But of course, it`s not unlikely
    that dismissing the Goldstone report is part of a bigger domestic game or horse trade
    of some sort.
    I think it`s appropriate on a foreign policy blog to once in a while try to figure out
    how Obama and other players are thinking – and to separate this from the expectations,
    or lack of such, of the commenters: the complex strategies behind certain actions and
    statements. WigWag is capable of doing this, others too. But with commenters like Kotz
    gluing the suggestions to what he perceives as the foolish hopes or wise pessimism of
    the commenters doesn`t get the discussion anywhere. Nor Nadine`s efforts to use these
    speculations as new vehicles to prove that black is black and white is white and Obama
    is a moron.
    My expectations as to what Medvedev or others may do, and how this may be good or bad
    in the big picture, is entirely irrelevant in these kind of efforts. The interesting
    thing question is: What is the thinking behind Obama`s, Medvedev`s, Netanyahu`s, or
    Achmedinejad`s seemingly separate actions or lack of actions on seemingly separate
    issues – independent of the likes and dislikes of the commenters. Mevedev`s statements
    yesterday showed that it`s very likely that Obama sees the missile shields issue in
    connection with the Iran sanctions issue, and that Medvedev understands this –
    regardless of the outcome, and regardless of any expectations that Paul Norheim or
    WigWag or Kotz might entertain.
    For ad hominem “thinkers” and strategy geniuses like Kotz, this is an exercise beyond
    their capabilities, and just another opportunity to bash his opponents for their lack
    of strength and amor propre in their cul de sac.
    But now that WigWag, whom Kotz sympathize with, actually agrees that possible
    sanctions were behind Obama`s decisions on the missile shield, and also seems to think
    that the likelihood of Russia getting on board on this might have increased a bit
    after Medvedev`s statement yesterday, I expect that Kotz will keep silent on this
    issue.

    Reply

  31. silver slipper says:

    I can’t believe Mr. Clemmons only says he got a chuckle from statements from Qaddafi rather than repulsion. Mr. Qaddafi has just been accepted into the UN, and he comes full of criticism. He accepts the terrorist Lockerbie back into his country as a hero – a man who killed 169 Americans + others. Then before the UN, he accuses the Security Council of being terrorists – terrorizing smaller nations with sanctions. I turned the speech off after 60 minutes of it. I couldn’t take anymore of his rantings.
    Has anyone also noticed that our allies are changing? President Obama takes time to meet with Russia, China, and Japan, but not with Britain. See the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/sep/23/barack-obama-gordon-brown-talks . I do understand his need to speak the those other three countries, but why not also with Britain – especially when being asked? Maybe President Obama is just holding a grudge against Britain? – See the article, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1091499/Barack-Obamas-grandfather-tortured-British-Kenyas-Mau-Mau-rebellion.html . Or maybe he just thinks our historical allies are not good ones, and that’s part of the change he believes should take place.

    Reply

  32. ... says:

    paul here is an interesting theory posited by philip weiss
    The Deal
    The fact that the Obama administration first communicated to Jewish leaders its determination to block the progress of the U.N.’s Goldstone report on Gaza is evidence of a deal. The Obama administration has cut a deal with centrist-liberal Jewish groups along these terms. We will forget Gaza ever happened. We will never say a word about Gaza. We will always state that the U.S. alliance with Israel is indivisible. We will work with other nations on Iran (but we won’t allow an attack on Iran). You must help us with your people and the settlements. We believe that freezing the colonization process is the only way to get a two-state solution.
    Obama, and Rahm Emanuel too, believe that they can gain enough of the Jewish leadership this way to bring American Jews along in support of Obama as he applies pressure. Because the intelligent Jewish leadership knows that Iran is not the main threat, Israel is in danger from the occupation, and this is the last chance for the two-state solution, to preserve the Jewish state. Notice that the Times is on board with the agenda; not a word about Goldstone; but the U.S. must use its power and pressure to bring about two states.
    Through this commitment from the Jewish center-left, Obama can then pressure Netanyahu on the two-state solution. It’s a gamble because of where the center breaks. Notice that Chuck Schumer is against him on this, and Anthony Weiner too, and Steve Rothman of New Jersey hasn’t been helpful. It is amazing that Weiner and Schumer have openly sandbagged Obama as he presses forward with his Cairo initiative. But these men will ultimately fall into line if Obama can grow his political base among Jewish Democrats. It’s a gamble, and the board is changing. If Obama said a word about Gaza, he figures, he will lose the game in a second. (Because the people who read this blog have no power in those chambers, where the deer and the Israel lobby play. We only have power in the discourse.)
    So: Will Obama come to the J Street conference next month? I say he will; and that his appearance there will be a giant boost to the progressive/centrist Zionist community and a slap in the face to AIPAC, and a sign to Rothman and Weiner and Schumer that the politics are changing and they better get on board, the new center.
    This negotiation is all taking place out of sight, but it’s happening. It’s the deal. But will it work? Ah, that’s another question. (And yes, there we have power.)

    Reply

  33. WigWag says:

    In my opinion there isn’t any question that Obama skunked the Czechs and Poles (who are both much more attracted to the United States then they are to their EU and Nato allies in Europe)in order to win Russian acquiescence to a sanctions regime against the Iranians.
    The Russians operate strictly on the basis of self-interest. They have important economic relations with the Iranians (including military ties that the Russians value solely for commercial reasons) but they also have a number of aspirations that only the United States can deliver to them.
    My bet is that the removal of missile defenses from Eastern Europe is only Obama’s opening gambit. To the Russians, who could easily overwhelm any deployable system, the issue was only of symbolic value anyway. To win Russian cooperation on Iran, the Obama Administration is going to need to horse trade on issues like Nato expansion, support for Georgia and Ukraine, Kosovo and Bosnia/Republika Srpska.
    It will be interesting to watch what Obama is willing to trade away in order to win Russian support for sanctions on Iran. But one thing is clear; the Russians will drive a hard bargain.
    Many, if not most commentators in Israel, are glad Obama relented on missile defenses because the Israelis are even more anxious to secure Russian cooperation on a sanctions regime than the Americans are. The Israelis have an increasingly positive relations with the Russians and commercial and cultural ties between the two nations are growing warmer all the time. Any lingering sympathies for the Palestinians left over from the Soviet days are long gone.
    President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have been reported to have particularly good ties with Avigdor Lieberman who is Moldavian by birth and temperamentally similar to the two Russian leaders. Israel will be thrilled if Russia joins a sanctions program not only because it hurts Iran but because it removes a competitor for Russian attention.
    Despite all of this, I have been wondering recently whether a sanctions regime vetoed by the Security Council (with either the Chinese or Russians voting no) and implemented unilaterally by the United States and Europe might not actually be the best alternative for everyone involved.
    Continued trade with the Chinese and Russians would prevent too much suffering in Iran and would neutralize the ability of either China or Russia to veto further action by the West; their commercial relations with Iran would be unaffected so politically they would no longer be part of the equation.
    But harsh sanctions by the United States and Europe would still sting, especially in the dynamic sectors in Iran; amongst the educated urban dwellers who represent the only hope for the country to have a prosperous future.
    The young and educated Iranians are anxious for a rapprochement with the West not with China or Russia. They aspire to possess western freedoms and they undoubtedly recognize that China, and to an increasing extent Russia, are authoritarian in the same way their government is. My guess is that those who want to read Lolita in Tehran understand that Lolita is also banned in Beijing, at least metaphorically (of course you can read Lolita in Moscow, Nabokov was, after all, of Russian birth)
    European and American sanctions may not be as economically devastating on Iran as sanctions imposed by the entire world but perhaps they will turn out to be more politically devastating for Iran.
    Roger Cohen has suggested that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad both understand that better ties with the West are the only way that the political turmoil sweeping Iran can be allayed. Cohen believes that both Iranian leaders think it is critical that they manage any reconciliation process not the Iranian opposition.
    Increasing isolation by the West might just turn the intelligentsia and entrepreneurial middle class in Iran against the regime more than they already are.
    Who knows, a porous sanctions regime that leaves the Iranian economy only moderately worse off than it already is, but increases Iran’s sense of isolation from the Western world might be just the trick to alter Iranian behavior.

    Reply

  34. kotzabasis says:

    Are you now repudiating all of your posts above your last one? “Russian Leader Opens Door to Tougher Iran Sanctions” and then you paste THE ASSOCIATED PRESS in all its positives on the issue with which you obviously agree. Then you follow this in your penultimate post with, “it now looks more like America is getting, than that it’s not getting something.” And only belatedly, after my own post, and after letting your guard down, you place your “if’s and if-not’s.”

    Reply

  35. Paul Norheim says:

    You`re distorting my words, Kotz.
    I don`t “believe” anything on these matters yet. There are too many if`s and if-not`s
    here. If it goes to the Security Council and Russia votes for sanctions in the
    Security Counsil, I`ll “believe” so.
    China delivered some critical statements on their part just hours ago. Time will tell.
    My initial point was an attempt to formulate how Obama seemed to see the missile
    shield issue, the relationship to Russia, the Iran issue, and the Israel-Palestine
    conflict as a connected and complex whole, and that this way of thinking contained a
    lot of unpredictable factors, probably too many if he has built a strategy on this.
    Perhaps my guesses are wrong, perhaps they are correct. But I see no particular reason
    for optimism on Iran and Israel-Palestine in the coming months and years. Is that
    clear?
    If you want to twist and bend this in any direction, go on.

    Reply

  36. kotzabasis says:

    Nadine, you are wasting your valuable time retorting to the political banalities of Norheim and his kindred spirits inundating TWN.
    Dmitry Medvedev’s “in some cases, sanctions are inevitable,” is the noose that the clever chess playing Russians are putting around the naive neck of the draught playing Obama. The operative words are “in some cases,” which the Russians alone will define and no one else. The political toddlers a la Norheim, enchanted under their inspirational wishful thinking, believe that the Russians will define these words positively in favour of sanctions, and like the stunted toddlers that they will always be they will be looking forward to Santa Klaus, Putin, on New Year’s Day to deliver to them their wishful ‘playful’ present.

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    Paul, if you think looking weak is the path to success in Mideast policy, Obama is giving you the chance to observe the results of the experiment. Wait and see what comes of Obama’s clear projection of weakness.

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    “Kill`em all” is more or less YOUR answer to ANY question,
    Nadine, for fear of looking weak in the eyes of the sand niggers.
    As to whether America got something from Russia, it now looks
    more like America is getting, than that it`s not getting
    something. Things will be clearer during the coming weeks.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    “better kill’em all”? that’s your answer to a serious question? Did we get anything from Russia or are we still “hoping” that Russia will reciprocate for Obama’s freebie?

    Reply

  40. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah,
    better kill`em all before they can nuke us.
    Unless or until Obama bombs a new country,
    WigWag, Kotz and Nadine will despise him.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    Paul, yes, if Obama didn’t get anything back from Russia he’s a loser. Now you tell me: did he get anything back? So far, all I’m hearing is low level murmurs – ‘In some cases, sanctions are inevitable,’ is very far from a Russian commitment.
    Wigwag, You said “Without the Iraq War (which made Qaddafi fear he might be next)Libya never would have given up its nuclear aspirations. Of course, it wasn’t worth it. The War in Iraq had so many terrible consequences that it would be far better if it had never been fought even if Libya would still possess nuclear aspirations.”
    When Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program, it also gave up AQ Khan’s Sams Club for Nukes, which we didn’t know about before that. You have to make a judgment of what AQ Khan would have been selling to whom before you can conclude the War wasn’t worth it. If we currently had Saddam, or worse, Uday, in charge of Iraq with AQ Khan’s nukes, that would not be a stable situation.

    Reply

  42. ... says:

    Netanyahu-Abbas-Obama summit leaves Israeli peace movement angry
    Two decisive steps would change things completely: an American effort to introduce Hamas into the negotiations and pressure on Israel to end the matter of the occupation. Simplistic? Perhaps, but the complex and gradual solutions haven’t gotten us anywhere up to now. Like it or not, without Hamas peace is not possible. The fact that Obama has put his trust only in Abbas’ Fatah has guaranteed failure, which was foreseeable. History has taught us that you make peace with your worst enemy, not with those who are seen as collaborators by their own people.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2009/09/netanyahu-abbas-obama-summit-leaves-israeli-peace-movement-angry.html#more-9391

    Reply

  43. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine`s response at that time was just as predictable as if
    someone had mentioned “Carter” to WigWag:
    “Paul, I think we can stop at step 1, which by your own
    description involves Obama giving away the rocket shield in
    return for nothing more than his “hopes” that it will make Russia
    more cooperative.
    What odds do you rate his “hopes”? Unless he got a deal, he just
    gave something away for nothing. There are names for this in
    foreign policy. They are “weak” and “loser”. Vlad Putin must be
    ecstatic.”

    Reply

  44. ... says:

    paul it is reasonable to draw the conclusion you appear to make…

    Reply

  45. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, we walked out of the UN assembly when Ahmadinejad spoke.
    I don’t blame us, he’s not a member of our exclusive club.
    Perhaps after he trumps up an excuse to murder a million non-combatants in a war based on lies, and dumps a few dozen white phosphorous bombs on an impoverished civilian population, we might listen to what he has to say.

    Reply

  46. Dan Kervick says:

    Paul, it does appear that when Obama and Medvedev met earlier this year, they might have come to some kind of tit-for-tat understanding that is being revealed this week.

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    “National Security Degree
    Online national security masters degree. Learn more and enroll today”
    If I enroll, will they teach me how to cultivate mystique? I always wanted to have mystique.

    Reply

  48. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres an ad from the top of Steve’s homepage….
    National Security Degree
    Online national security masters degree. Learn more and enroll today
    Ya gotta love it, doncha? Learn to protect us from those nasty terrists from the comfort of your own home. I wonder, do they teach ya how to do cavity searches at the airport terminal, or is that a skill you pick up later?
    “BOO!!!!” has become our national anthem.

    Reply

  49. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If I had to describe Moore in a crowd to someone seeking him, I’d say “Look for the heavyset slovenly guy wearing a ball cap”.
    To be real honest, it amazes me that we put people out front to press our causes that are less than photogenic or credible to look at.
    Yeah, I know, its petty and shallow. But Moore has to get in a few minutes of running his mouth before your mind finally says “Hey, this guy has something to say”. I think many people probably don’t hang around long enough to get to that point.
    And how in God’s name do we expect these “Code Pink” women to be taken seriously or really listened to? Their buffoonish costumery and antics hardly seem to be the formula for constructive activism. At times I almost believe they are in the room to make the left look bad.
    But, uh, I guess when you consider Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, Limbaugh or Coulter, things pretty much even out.
    Face it, if Kucinich looked like Edwards, we might not be talking about Obama at all.

    Reply

  50. Dan Kervick says:

    Which reminds me, was as Michael Moore invited to speak at Clintonpalooza? Or is he not pretty enough?

    Reply

  51. Dan Kervick says:

    “Maybe it’s that goofy baseball cap that he wears; never a sign of gravitas, eh?”
    Perhaps he is carrying just a bit too much gravitas around his waist?

    Reply

  52. Bart says:

    Bless Michael Moore, but it’s sad how the right makes him a buffoon. Maybe it’s that goofy baseball cap that he wears; never a sign of gravitas, eh?

    Reply

  53. Paul Norheim says:

    Russian Leader Opens Door to Tougher Iran Sanctions
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: September 23, 2009
    Filed at 5:31 p.m. ET
    Doug Mills/The New York Times
    NEW YORK (AP) — Giving some ground on a top priority of President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
    said Wednesday that sanctions are rarely productive but he opened the door to tougher ones to halt Iran’s suspected
    nuclear weapons program.
    ”In some cases, sanctions are inevitable,” the Russian leader said after he and Obama held talks on the sidelines of the
    U.N. General Assembly meetings.
    Negotiations are scheduled for Oct. 1 between Iran and a group of six nations, including the U.S. and Russia, over its
    nuclear ambitions. Obama wants to pursue tougher sanctions if those meetings yield nothing. And yet Russia, which has
    close economic ties with Tehran, has stood in the way of stronger action against Iran in the past.
    That made Medvedev’s admittedly muted support for sanctions bigger news, and something that pleased the White
    House.
    ”Unfortunately, Iran has been violating too many of its international commitments,” Obama said. ”What we’ve discussed is
    how we can move in a positive direction that can resolve a potential crisis.”
    He and Medvedev share the goal of allowing Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, but not nuclear weapons, Obama
    said. ”This should be resolved diplomatically and I am on record as being committed to negotiate with Iran in a serious
    fashion to resolve this issue.”
    However, if Iran does not respond during negotiations, ”serious additional sanctions remain a possibility,” Obama said.
    Medvedev said Russia and the U.S. could help ensure success by providing incentives for Iran to comply. He did not
    elaborate.
    Before the meetings, Russian news agencies had cited an official in Medvedev’s delegation in New York as saying Russia
    does not rule out new sanctions.
    For its part, Russia got some good news last week when Obama announced his decision to scrap a plan for a new U.S.
    missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that deeply angered the Kremlin. Obama has emphatically denied that the
    missile defense change had anything to do with trying to get better cooperation from Russia on Iran, and Moscow had not
    until now appeared to be moving closer to the U.S. position on Iran in response.
    To reporters, Medvedev called Obama’s missile defense decision ”reasonable” and that it took into account Moscow’s
    concerns.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was meeting Wednesday with her counterparts from Russia, China, Britain,
    France and Germany to prepare for the Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva with Iran. And White House press secretary Robert
    Gibbs said Obama as well as aides were spending considerable time this week, in New York and later in Pittsburgh at
    another international meeting, on the issue of Iran.
    ”This is a topic that comes up in virtually every conversation that he has,” Gibbs said.
    On Thursday, as his last act at the U.N., Obama was to chair a Security Council meeting on curbing the spread of nuclear
    weapons that is largely aimed at Iran.
    In his speech Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama singled out both Iran and North Korea, which has made
    more progress than Iran in becoming a nuclear power, as countries that now are at a crossroads.
    ”Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences,” Obama said.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/23/us/AP-US-Obama-Russia.html?_r=1&hp

    Reply

  54. Outraged American says:

    A few of your comments here really disturb me Steve. Iran is a
    signatory to the NPT as you and every kindergartner outside of
    the US well know. Its nuclear program is being monitored and
    Ahmadinejad is not in charge of Iran’s non-existent nukes. So
    why the aside about Iran’s nuclear program?
    I attended the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11 and was frankly
    shocked. Moore was there, as was his agent, Ari Emanuel (Rahm
    Emanuel’s brother and the basis for the Ari Gold character on
    the show Entourage. The real Ari makes the fake Ari look like a
    new born bunny — one of the most ruthless men in the industry
    and that’s saying a f-ing lot) and Harvey Weinstein. There was a
    Q & A afterwards, but no one asked any questions.
    My husband was still working in the industry, and my own old
    boss was there (not Harvey, although I also worked for Miramax
    at one point under the Devil and the Devil Incarnate, i.e., Harvey
    and Bob Weinstein) so I didn’t ask the obvious question which
    was, “Why no mention of Israel’s role in the second Iraq
    invasion?”
    Steve, delete this if you think it’s going to upset yourself and the
    burra sahibs (important men in Hindi), but I think that Michael
    Moore did more (pardon the pun) to shield the neo-
    conservatives ties to Israel than any other propagandists in the
    US. He’s limited hang-out, same as Chomsky, and thus
    infinitely more dangerous than Bill Kristol, who lies so poorly
    that you don’t even have to know anything about the topic to
    know that he’s lying.
    I would suggest that people re-watch the movie in light of what
    is now known about “The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy” —
    there was no way that Moore didn’t know about Israel’s role in
    Iraq. He just chose to ignore it and did the US a huge disservice,
    so he’s complicit. To deliberately obfuscate while telling a
    portion of the truth is worse than to lie, because you win a
    person’s trust while telling the bigger lie.
    Hope that didn’t ruin your day, but think of the ??? million Iraqis
    whose days we’ve ruined forever. BTW: We had Omid Memarian
    on our show too.

    Reply

  55. PÃ¥l Norheim says:

    Some minutes ago, Russias PM Medvedev held a UN speech saying that we may reach a point when sanctions against Iran
    are inevitable. I interpret this in light of what I suggested in a post some days ago:
    “Posted by Paul Norheim, Sep 19 2009, 1:25PM – Link
    Most people at TWN seem to agree that President Obama is a) intelligent and b) weak.
    However: Is his intelligence a strength, or a part of his weakness?
    There are good reasons to assume that Obama regards issues like Israel/Palestine,
    Iran, and Russia as intertwined on certain levels. Roughly, I think the strategy
    behind certain US actions and statements is the following:
    1) By abandoning the rocket shield in Eastern Europe, he hopes that Russia will be
    much more willing to cooperate with USA/EU on Iran. (And if Russia cooperates, China
    will hesitate to be the only power vetoing a resolution against Iran in the Security
    Council – that`s something they`ve avoided in the past).
    2) If Obama, with a little help from Russia, succeeds in bending Iran more according
    to the will of the United States/EU, his hope is that this will satisfy Israel.
    3) This will on the other hand put pressure on Israel to give more in peace
    negotiations with the Palestinians (Netanyahu has expressed that certain outcomes on
    “the Iran issue” is a precondition for negotiations with the Palestinians).
    Now, there are a lot of x-factors in such a strategy. What if Russia is unwilling to
    change course in its Iran policy? Secondly, what if the unpredictable, but
    predictably stubborn Achmedinejad is uncooperative? And thirdly: What if Benjamin
    Netanyahu, predictable both in his stubbornness and his hawkishness, just continues
    to demand more from USA, Iran, and the Palestinians, regardless of what Obama may
    achieve?
    (…)
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/09/guest_post_by_j_13/#comments

    Reply

  56. ... says:

    more propaganda from wigwag… i guess it never ends…

    Reply

  57. WigWag says:

    Paul, I have no suggestions for Obama but I do hope that he will be as successful with Iran as Bush was with Libya.
    Without the Iraq War (which made Qaddafi fear he might be next)Libya never would have given up its nuclear aspirations. Of course, it wasn’t worth it. The War in Iraq had so many terrible consequences that it would be far better if it had never been fought even if Libya would still possess nuclear aspirations.
    My only point is that if Steve thinks this is a success story, he should give credit where credit is due; Bush and the Iraq escapade are responsible for the disarming of Libya. And if Steve thinks Qaddafi shouldn’t be ridiculed surely he thinks Bush should be exempt from ridicule.

    Reply

  58. PÃ¥l Norheim says:

    Well WigWag,
    which country would you suggest that Obama should bomb in an
    attempt to make Iran his success story? Tunisia? Indonesia? Syria?
    Or simply Iran itself?

    Reply

  59. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    I knew that Michael Moore read TWN because last summer, when we were all waiting anxiously to learn who Obama would choose as his running mate. I commented here(8/17/08) that Caroline Kennedy could “pull a Cheney” and choose herself…. Michael Moore wrote a letter to Caroline Kennedy, 8/20/08, asking her to “pull a Cheney” and choose herself…the letter was cc’d to CNN and Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty starting saying the same thing…I commented on this at the time..arthurrr probably remembers…
    Synchronicity? I’ve agreed with MM a lot of times, so maybe he agreed with me, at least on that turn of phrase…I wasn’t suggesting that Caroline should choose herself..just that she could.

    Reply

  60. erichwwk says:

    Look fwd to listening to the four bloggers tonight.
    But… i just had to comment on how various use of force issue morphed into MM’s “Capitalism”, as a “side issue”. Bravo!
    I share Steve’s admiration for Michael Moore, a rational oasis in a political-economic world that’s not so much. I too hope he continues doing what he’s doing, with his closest competitors being Jon Stewart and the “yesmen”, my aside:
    http://theyesmenfixtheworld.com/

    Reply

  61. ... says:

    always dealing with wigwags propaganda is challenging!!
    “Country: Libya
    Status: Dismantled
    The regime of Muammar Kaddafi was considered a major proliferation threat for years. But in 2003, after the Iraq War, Great Britain brokered a deal whereby Tripoli agreed to dismantle its WMD program in return for improved relations with the West. The United States airlifted out tens of thousands of pounds of nuclear equipment in 2004.”

    Reply

  62. WigWag says:

    “As much as Colonel Qaddafi can frustrate folks as the UN’s court jester this week, we need to remember that in the realm of serious nuclear non-proliferation matters, Libya is a success story. Iran is not. I would be happy to tolerate all sorts of lesser problems with Libya in part exchange for getting off the rogue nation track. People need to keep that in mind as they ridicule Libya’s leader…” (Steve Clemons)
    You’re telling only part of the story here, Steve. Libya may be a success story but it’s George Bush’s success story. It’s his Administration that got Libya to give up it nuclear weapons and the unavoidable reality is that but for the invasion of Iraq (as foolish as it was) Libya would probably never have agreed to disarm
    Time will tell if the Obama Administration is as successful disarming Iran as the Bush Administration was with Syria.
    To paraphrase you Steve, people need to keep that in mind as they ridicule America’s former leader.

    Reply

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