Guest Note by Flynt Leverett: China’s Persian Gulf Dilemma and Deepening Relations with Iran

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This is a guest note by Flynt Leverett. Flynt directs the New America Foundation/Iran Project and is the former Senior Director of Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council. He is also publisher of the forthcoming blog, The Race For Iran.
A lot of attention is being focused on Chinese policy toward Iran, particularly with reference to the Obama Administration’s threats to impose “crippling” international sanctions if diplomacy does not provide Washington with satisfaction (however defined) regarding Iran’s nuclear activities.
This week, the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS published a monograph on China-Iran relations that I co-authored with Hillary Mann Leverett and John Garver (an outstanding China expert at Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs).
All modesty aside, the monograph, Moving (Slightly) Closer to Iran: China’s Shifting Calculus for Managing Its “Persian Gulf Dilemma”, is the best work out there on this critical issue. The monograph documents how China is proceeding to develop an increasingly strategic energy relationship with the Islamic Republic – including a growing number of upstream investment positions by Chinese energy companies.
While China remains disinclined to challenge America’s longstanding hegemony in the Gulf directly, Beijing is becoming more assertive about advancing its own economic and energy interests in Iran. Under these circumstances, China is not about to support anything approaching “crippling” economic sanctions against Iran.
Of course, China’s developing ties to the Islamic Republic have broader geopolitical implications. Later this week, Hillary and I will launch a new blog, The Race for Iran, focused on the Islamic Republic and its geopolitics. We think that many readers of The Washington Note will also like The Race for Iran, and invite you to give it a try.
— Flynt Leverett

Comments

55 comments on “Guest Note by Flynt Leverett: China’s Persian Gulf Dilemma and Deepening Relations with Iran

  1. David says:

    POA,
    On the surface, I agree. And sometimes I wonder of the world of international relations runs on anything but bullshit as a cover for “vital national interests,” which never translates well for the objects of the more powerful party’s “vital national interests.”
    But Iran’s agreement to ship its nuclear fuel to Russia for processing and France for conversion into fuel rods, which cannot be used for weapons manufacture, is an intriguing back door development. What is hidden, which always pisses me off, is the actuality of US (and everybody else’s) administrations. They leave us to guess in the dark about what is actually developing until after the fact. One can make some pretty damned accurate guesses if one pays attention and is not blinded by ideology or ignorance, of course.
    I’m guessing Obama has bet his presidency on a peaceful resolution of the Middle East debacle, but I don’t yet know how he defines it. A just peace, or just peace? I don’t know, and I don’t know if any American president has the power to demand of Israel that it behave justly. Merely suggesting it got Jimmy Carter roundly excoriated, and he is only an ex-president.
    And I don’t know that the American public would have the president’s back if he sought genuine justice from the Israeli side of the equation. No problem at all, of course, demanding that the Palestinians eschew violence, never mind the violence to which they have been subjected for over half a century.
    The knives are long, very long, and none of them in the United States belong to Palestinian interests.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see Bolton has actually publically opined that Israel should use nuclear weapons against Iran, in a “pre-emptive” strike. Yet we expect Iran not to want to level the playing field?
    And what are these fucking cowards on the left doing to counter such insanity? Well, if feeding us the same propaganda about Iran that Israel is feeding us can be seen as a “countering tactic”, then fine. Otherwise, the argument can be made that the Obama Administration is actually encouraging insanity such as Bolton’s by hyping the “threat” that Iran poses with its PERFECTLY LEGAL nuclear program.
    Its intriquing that Clemons and the TWN crowd IGNORE the lies of Hillary Clinton, when she says things like Iran isn’t adhering to its “international obligations”.
    Whats truly scary is that Obama does not seem to be pursuing any avenues that lead anywhere other than towards more war. Decades of war. On such a path, its not beyond the realm of possibility that the Dems will suffer a resounding defeat in 2012, putting these satanic monsters like Cheney and Bolton back in power. Then, we may see their lunatic rantings become actions instead of just words.

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  3. rfjk says:

    The Bush/neocon/Likudnik axis annihilated the US unipolar world order into utter oblivion. Though Obama can talk a good game rhetoric alone is insufficient to undo that screw-up, or what the deceased Gen. Odom characterized as ‘strategic disaster.’
    The monograph asserts from China’s perspective its a “multi-polar world order” today, an assessment that’s probably right and many states besides China want. The sooner the US accepts a crowded stage of competing greater, regional and lesser powers, the more effective and respected the US will become in the global arena. The Russians and the Chinese do make a keen observation that dialog with Iran is rather moot when Obama, S/S Hillary and others are threatening the Iranians at the same time. Carrots and sticks only work when your the biggest guy on the block with no competition. Stupidity is being demonstrated here when its crystal clear Russia and China aren’t going to support severe sanctions.
    Accepting a multi-polar world order means the US will have to adjust, revise and likely make foreign policy, economic and strategic realignments across the globe. This is not going to be an easy process due to the death grip of legacy interests from the equally dead, US unipolar world order. In the Middle East this likely means deeper, entangling relations with Arabs and Iranians at the expense and downgrading of the US/Israeli special relationship . The longer the US delays the more untenable the US/Israeli relationship becomes in the 21st century great game over mineral resource and energy depletion.

    Reply

  4. Outraged American says:

    Dan,you missed last year when both the Senate and the House
    put forward bills that would amount to a military blockade on
    Iran. I worked against it with a transpartisan group and we, an
    many others, were able to stave it off for a year.
    Not that your beloved Democrats were leading the charge.
    Here’s some info:
    In Reversal, Democrats Shelve Iran Resolution
    Thursday 09 October 2008
    Falling from shoo-in status to widely rejected legislation
    within the space of four months, a resolution that would have
    opened the door for a naval blockade on Iran was officially
    shelved at the end of September, after several of its cosponsors
    withdrew their support.
    http://www.truthout.org/100908A
    This one is from April of this year (2009) From the Jewish paper
    THE FORWARD:
    Cherry blossoms have withered off the trees, Easter eggs have
    rolled off the White House lawn and now it’s time for two more
    Washington springtime perennials: An Iran sanctions bill is about
    to roll off the congressional presses, and thousands of AIPAC
    lobbyists are about to tumble out of buses to make sure it
    passes.
    Just in time for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
    annual policy forum next week, U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.),
    Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) introduced a
    major new Iran sanctions bill. In addition to Kyl, Bayh and
    Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, nine other
    Republicans and 11 Democrats signed on as co-sponsors,
    Capitol Hill sources said.
    Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of
    Representatives by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Mark Kirk
    (R-Ill.) and the House leadership is backing a bill that would
    facilitate divestment from Iran. The latter, modeled on a bill
    drafted by President Obama as a U.S. senator, is due for
    consideration this week by the House Foreign Affairs
    Committee.
    The bills come just weeks after the Democratic House leadership
    wrote Obama that Iran’s nuclear potential “must be dealt with on
    an urgent basis.”
    http://www.forward.com/articles/105224/

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  5. Dan Kervick says:

    Jeez, calm down. My point was just that there is no serious effort by *anyone* to enact sanctions aimed at regime change in Iran. So talk about the Iranian protesters in connection with sanctions, and whether or not they will be “betrayed”, is completely out in fantasy land.

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  6. WigWag says:

    It looks like the Obama Administration is serious when it says all options are on the table if Iran doesn’t surrender any aspirations it may have to acquire nuclear weapons. CBS News is reporting that the Pentagon has contracted to buy the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever created. Other sources say British, French and Israeli defense contractors are competing to develop a similar weapon that is technically extremely difficult to design and build.
    Here’ a little from the CBS story,
    Oct 13, 2009 9:00 am US/Pentagon Wants Bunker-Buster Bomb
    Massive Ordinance Penetrator’ Made to Destroy Fortified Underground Sites CBS News Interactive
    The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
    Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.
    The 15-ton behemoth – called the “massive ordnance penetrator,” or MOP – will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace.
    The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.
    Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind…
    The precision-guided bomb is designed to drill through earth and almost any underground encasement to reach weapons depots, labs or hideouts.

    Reply

  7. Outraged American says:

    Ditto: greater “Iran compliance” with WHAT? Iran offered UsRael
    almost everything we wanted in 2003! We refused to even
    consider the offer.
    Why should we sanction a country, Iran, that is abiding by her
    treaty obligations, while allowing a rogue state (Israel, in case
    you haven’t figured that out yet. Our 51st state, but with more
    power than the rest of the states put together times a billion,
    and with weapons that would make the US National Guards
    weapons look like bows with rubber arrows or dull kitchen
    knives) to lie us into another war?
    Sanctions will just start with killing the most vulnerable. Like
    pre-mature babies. Some of whom Wig, might have xx
    chromosomes, you recent champion of Iranian women’s rights
    you.
    Iraq used to have the highest percentage of female professionals
    and graduate students in the Arab world, and don’t pooh-pooh
    that because it was very high. The Palestinians did as well.
    Now Iraqi women are scared to leave their homes, except for the
    ones forced to walk the streets. Proving that men all over the
    world are the same no matter what “religion.”
    As I think JohnH pointed out 60% of Iran’s university students are
    female.
    Will we help women in Iran by sanctions, a blockade or an
    attack? Empirical evidence based on the Iraqis and the
    Palestinians strongly suggests no.
    Did we help the women of Afghanistan by funding the
    Mujahadeen? Historical evidence screams NO.
    I give up with the Wig. As I’ve said before, the pro-Israel
    “liberals” at TWN are like the pro-Israel “liberals” in Congress.
    Liberal until it comes to do with anything to do with Yisrael.
    That dumbass Sherman leads the pack in terms of Iran. Hate.
    Here — this one’s for all the pseudo-feminists who think that
    killing women is the best way to save them *BLOOD BOILING*
    Ask Awal Khan About Obama’s Prize
    But he (Obama) has had time to make an impact on people such
    as Awal Khan, who might want to weigh in on Obama’s prize.
    Khan was serving as an artillery commander in the Afghan
    National Army away from his home in the eastern province of
    Khost on April 8, when U.S. forces came knocking. In a case of
    “wrong house,” they killed his 17-year-old daughter, Nadia, and
    his 15-year-old son, Aimal. They also killed his wife, a
    schoolteacher who taught villagers for free. They killed his
    brother and wounded another daughter.
    After she thought the dust had cleared, Khan’s cousin’s wife
    walked outside. She was nine-months pregnant. She took five
    shots to the stomach. Her fetus died, but she lived. She might
    have some thoughts on Obama as a man who “created a new
    climate,” as the Nobel committee claimed.
    U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian said the slaughtered
    family had no connection to U.S. enemies. “It was an unfortunate
    set of circumstances,” he said.
    (Full Article)
    http://www.counterpunch.org/cooney10132009.html
    DISGUSTING.
    H/T Counterpunch via a poster on antiwar.com

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sanctions, if they are enacted, will be aimed at securing greater Iranian compliance, openness or cooperation with international nonproliferation demands. If the Iranians end up meeting those demands in response to sanctions, the sanctions will then be removed and more normal relations will likely then move forward”
    What a crock of shit. You mean like what happened in Iraq, where the fiction of “non-compliance” was used to the effect of over five hundred thousand children dying from food and medical shortages?
    Greater “Iranian compliance” with WHAT, Dan??? The terms of the NPT?
    Are you now the chief propagandist here at TWN?
    Tell us, Dan, what EXACTLY is Iran doing to deserve sanctions?
    Your first paragraph is out of place with your latter two paragraphs.

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Secondly, the Israelis heard Farsi used by officers on the front lines, which means the Arab-speaking Hizbullah lines had Iranian officers.”
    Hmmm, that was before they shot a group of Palistinians carrying a white flag, wasn’t it? And before they sequestered a Palestinian home so they could shit in the appliances and scrawl anti-Muslim graffitti all over the walls.
    Well, I’m sure they were better behaved in Lebanon than they were in Gaza, eh??
    Besides, they modernized their techniques. They went from cluster munitions to a white phosphorous/cluster bomb stew. Why blow kids hands off when you can cook them to a crisp instead? Or, better yet, blow their hands off THEN fry the little buggers.
    Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone though, Obama is hard at work hiding the evidence, out of grave concern for the “plight of the Palestinians”.

    Reply

  10. ... says:

    nadine quote “Secondly, the Israelis heard Farsi used by officers on the front lines, which means the Arab-speaking Hizbullah lines had Iranian officers.” – we can always trust the idf to tell us the gospel truth and nothing else, lol… keep the conversation on iran though… don’t want to let the non stop theme ever stop with a propagandist…

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    “Is Mr. Leverett suggesting that the United States sell out the millions of young Iranian demonstrators who put their lives on the line to protest the stolen election just so we can cash in on Iranian energy resources just like the Chinese are?”
    What does the matter of the Iranian protesters have to do with the sanctions question? Sanctions, if they are enacted, will be aimed at securing greater Iranian compliance, openness or cooperation with international nonproliferation demands. If the Iranians end up meeting those demands in response to sanctions, the sanctions will then be removed and more normal relations will likely then move forward.
    While there is still some chance that a broad-based sanctions regime might be put in place with those limited nonproliferation aims as their end, there is not the slightest chance in the world that a global regime of “crippling” sanctions will be enacted which aim toward regime change in Iran. There is simply no realistic prospect that the world is going to take on the project of satisfying the fondest desires of the Iranian protesters. And any attempt by the US to accomplish these ends unilaterally will only lead to profound isolation, and likely worse, for America.
    Let’s not lose ourselves in these neoconservative wet dreams. We know where they lead. The best policy remains, as before, engagement, exchange and patience. Fulminating about the politically unsatisfactory conditions inside Iran, and fantasizing about externally induced revolutionary pushes, is a recipe for unbalanced thinking and reckless action.

    Reply

  12. JohnH says:

    Nadine–I don’t doubt that Hezbollah may have had some Farsi speaking people on the front lines, although you can cite no sources. Or perhaps the source is your own wild imagination.
    So what exactly does that prove? Seymour Hersh reported that there are Israelis in Kurdistan. And he has a plausible explanation, one that does not intimate Israeli control of Kurdistan: “Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operative include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.”
    My guess is that Israel and Iran are playing roughly the same game–giving and getting a little help from their friends.
    Of course, your view is that when Israel does it, it’s perfectly acceptable. If Iran does exactly the same thing, it’s an existential threat to Israel!
    It’s akin to a five year old complaining about what his brother did to him, when in fact he had just done the same thing to his brother. My advice–grow up!

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    JohnH, this may be a news flash to you, but Farsi is not a common second language in Lebanon as English or Arabic or Russian is in Israel. Secondly, the Israelis heard Farsi used by officers on the front lines, which means the Arab-speaking Hizbullah lines had Iranian officers.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “So they have secret underground enrichment facilities?”
    You’re a lying sack of shit.
    “So they have secret warhead production facilities”
    Evidence????
    “So they have broken all their previous commitments?”
    Like their adherance to the NPT?
    Fact is, Nadine, it was Israel that developed enrichment facilities and warheads in secret underground bunkers. It is Israel that refuses to allow inspections. It is Israel that uses weapons designed for mass casualty on civilian populations. It is Israel that thumbs its nose at UN resolutions, more so than any other nation. And it is Israel that fuels the desire that Middle Eastern nations have for nuclear weapons. They’d be fools for living next to Israel and not feel threatened.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    Nadine said, “by this logic we rule China and India too.”
    No, Nadine, this was by YOUR logic. You said that BECAUSE some in Hezbollah speak Farsi, THEREFORE Hezbollah was CONTROLLED by Iran. I merely applied your logic to Israel and the fact that most of the leaders of the IDF speak English, therefore the IDF must be controlled by the United States. Ridiculous? You betcha! Exactly how your “logic” works.
    YOU are the one who takes the slightest nonsense and conflates it into an existential threat to Israel.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    Arthur,
    you`re just as paranoid as Nadine.

    Reply

  17. arthurdecco says:

    Why do so many intelligent and sensible commenters here engage Nadine as if she was worth the respect she garners by your ill-advised attentions.
    Fact: Nadine is a SERIAL LIAR who wouldn’t recognize the truth if it bit her in the ass.
    Fact: Nadine is an emotional cripple, perhaps even a sociopath.
    Fact: Nadine is a contemptible racist who cares nothing for anyone who isn’t Jewish and preferably Likud-like Israeli.
    In my opinion, if you all stopped wasting your time berating/debating/discrediting her and perhaps used the time to discuss these TWN issues amongst yourselves rationally, these conversations-as-policy-making would be miles farther down the road to salvation by now.
    Fact: She’s not worth it.

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    I think that anybody who has any moral bearings whatsoever should object to a “human rights commission” that allows the worst human rights offenders on the planet to be members so that they can cover for each other and spend their time passing more resolutions against tiny Israel than the rest of the planet combined. Some “job” that is! I think there are grounds quite separate from Israel to object to a “human rights commission” chaired by the Sudan, a regime that is actively committing genocide in Darfur.

    Reply

  19. Paul Norheim says:

    “No, I have no problem with calling El Baradei a scoundrel.”
    I`m not surprised. Anyone doing his job in the IAEA, as well as in the
    UN Human Rights Commission, would be perceived as a scoundrel by people
    who support Israel unconditionally.

    Reply

  20. nadine says:

    “I mean, I can’t think of any other possible reason for so many Israelis to speak English, except for the obvious one–that they are controlled by the US.”
    By this logic we rule China and India too. Have you considered that English was established in Palestine when it was a British colony, as it was in India and Hong Kong?

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  21. nadine says:

    Paul, nothing easier then wrenching a quote out of context and then claiming it’s a lie. Or cheaper.
    I was speaking in the context of strategic relations in the Middle East. In this context, could you please explain to me which countries officially “say” that Hizbullah works for Iran and have directed their complaints accordingly?
    Israel for sure, but response even from the US has been muted – even though Iran is responsible for the death of hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers. The US won’t “know” about the attacks officially (despite the efforts of the frustrated US military to spread the news) because then they would have to dos something about it.
    As for El Baradei, he has spent far more time covering up for nuclear proliferation than trying to do anything to prevent it. He is still saying there is no credible evidence of an Iranian nuke program. So they have secret underground enrichment facilities? So they have secret warhead production facilities? So they have broken all their previous commitments? So what? Nothing to see here, move right along, Israel is the real threat. No, I have no problem with calling El Baradei a scoundrel. The IAEA cares as little about nuclear proliferation as the UN Human Rights Commission cares about human rights.
    Victor Davis Hanson is a classical scholar and military history, and a grape farmer. He is also a prominent right-wing commentator, writing mainly for the National Review. But I’m not surprised you never heard of him. The Left is generally unaware of the arguments of the Right. The Right, having to live with the strong leftward slant of the media, tends to be far more aware of the arguments of the Left.

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  22. JohnH says:

    yes, Nadine, the official language of the IDF is Hebrew. But most everyone speaks English, which, according to your logic about Hezbollah, must mean that the English speaking officer corps is being controlled by the Pentagon.
    I mean, I can’t think of any other possible reason for so many Israelis to speak English, except for the obvious one–that they are controlled by the US.

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  23. JohnH says:

    Nadine wonders, “You think [Obama] will order [the Fifth Fleet] to attack Iran if Hizbullah begins a series of attacks on the Saudi Oil Fields?”
    No, I think Obama will happily do nothing as the industrial world’s biggest source of oil gets obliterated. I mean, hasn’t that been American policy since FDR?
    Gheez, Nadine, how stupid do you think we are?
    And, “Saudi Arabia has a parade military full of excellent American equipment.” Now why is it that Israel didn’t immediately take them over once they got a nuke? Seems to me they were ripe for the picking! I mean, you just hang a left at Eilat, and you’re almost there! But according to Nadine, Iran, which has never invaded anyone in modern times, will immediately take over Saudi Arabia, completely unnoticed by the drunken tweating US Fifth Fleet.
    All this will happen because Nadine’s vivid imagination is the delphic oracle of the 21st century!

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  24. ... says:

    wigwag will be okay with this, just as long as the idf doesn’t do that to the women in iran or afganistan…
    geez, he could even give the orders in hebrew!

    Reply

  25. ... says:

    when dropping white phosphorous on palestinians, the idf gives the orders out in hebrew… that is good to know nadine…

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  26. nadine says:

    “But doesn’t Israel has English speaking officers? ”
    Nope, they all have to speak Hebrew. On the front line the orders are in Hebrew. But on the front line in Lebanon, some of the orders are in Farsi.

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  27. nadine says:

    President Obama gets to say what the Fifth Fleet will do. You think he will order it to attack Iran if Hizbullah begins a series of attacks on the Saudi Oil Fields? I don’t.
    Saudi Arabia has a parade military full of excellent American equiptment. They hire pilots from Pakistan to fly the fighrer jets. This is not an army they will count on to die for Saudi Arabia. No, Saudi Arabia is addressing the threat in the tried and true fashion of the Ibn Sauds – they are trying to buy it off. King Abdullah went to Damascus last week to make overtures to Iran.
    It’s doubtful that Obama will be stupid or weak enough to abandon Saudi Arabia entirely. But he might make a blunder that Iran could take advantage of. I fancy King Abduallah has taken Obama’s measure, and adjusted his confidence levels accordingly.

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  28. JohnH says:

    nadine reports that “Israeli observers in the Golan report that Hizbullah now has Farsi-speaking officers.” Well, there’s a reliable anonymous source for you, along with all those reliable sources Nadine cites.
    But doesn’t Israel has English speaking officers? So that must prove that Israel is controlled by Washington! Oh, and BTW Washington set up that new military base in the Negev in 2008, staffed by the US troops. That must be conclusive evidence that Israel is controlled by the US!

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  29. Paul Norheim says:

    “…nor has Iran ever been made to pay a price for Hizbullah’s activities.” (Nadine)
    So what? Your original claim was actually that “everybody pretends they don’t know who
    Hizbullah works for”. And I replied that this is a lie. It`s as simple as that. And no
    matter what you add, this doesn`t make your quoted claim more true. Pig + lipstick = pig
    with lipstick.
    Now, as to your quote of an attack on Norway, let me quote: “So Norway loves to give award
    to all sorts of right-thinking frauds (Menchu), scoundrels (Elbaradei)…”
    I must admit that I know nothing about Victor Davis Hanson, but his characterization of
    Mohamed Mostafa ElBaradei as a “scoundrel” provides me with a wealth of information about
    his character and point of view.
    Do you agree, Nadine, that Elbaradei is a scoundrel?

    Reply

  30. JohnH says:

    More hilarity from Nadine: “Saudi Arabia never surrendered to Israel because Israel never tried to conquer Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia knew that Israel would never use the nukes except in a last-ditch defense.”
    But Nadine claims that Saudi Arabia will immediately and unconditionally surrender to Iran, convert to Shi’a beliefs, and make pistachios the national snack, all because of Iran’s unproven nuclear weapons program!!! And though Iran has never conquered anyone in modern times, and has no experience projecting power, Iran will do all that with half the military budget of Saudi Arabia, while the US Fifth Fleet totally misses all the action, whiling away its time tweating in the Gulf!
    Damn those Iranians. They must be super human! Either that, or Nadine’s paranoid ravings are ridiculous!

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    JohnH, The Israeli observers in the Golan report that Hizbullah now has Farsi-speaking officers. Many of government thugs who put down the demonstrations in Iran were reported as being Arab-speaking Lebanese. Reports coming out of Lebanon say that Iran has tightened controls on since they had to replace Hizbullahs rocket arsenal after the 2006 war. You can easily find videos of Nasrallah in Tehran promising fidelity to Khamenei. Hizbullah has always been paid by Iran, but now the chain of command is tight and visible to all.

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  32. JohnH says:

    Of course Hizbullah is supported by Iran. Nadine has difficulty distinguishing between “supported by” and “controlled by,” despite the fact Israel is supported by the United States. Oops–my bad–that must mean that Israel is controlled by the United States!
    Seriously, Hizbullah is a perfect fit for Iranian strategy. They are the only Arab organization to effectively stand up to Israel, putting those Arab tyrants, all fair weather enemies of Israel, to shame, but endearing Nisrallah and Ahmedinejad to “the street.”
    For Iran, it’s a cheap way to undermine those who seek to undermine their regime while supporting fellow Shi’a.
    Of course, the Lik-kudites (rhymes with Luddites) SOP is to conflate any opposition to their behavior into an existential threat. Wolf at the door! Wolf at the door! Wolf at the door!

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  33. nadine says:

    Paul, you have missed my point entirely.
    Sure, newspapers report that Hizbullah is tied to Iran, though the enormous sums of money involved are rarely reported. But my point was that Hizbullah has never been “officially” i.e. diplomatically tied to Iran, nor has Iran ever been made to pay a price for Hizbullah’s activities. This is huge effective reward to Iran for attacking its neighbors via terrorist proxy rather than using its own army. Note that the list of countries attacked by Hizbullah includes Argentina, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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  34. nadine says:

    “Nadine is simply spewing recycled, discredited domino theories. Saudi Arabia never surrendered to Israel because of its nuclear program. And nobody will surrender to Iran because of its hypothetical nuclear program.”
    That’s exactly the point! Saudi Arabia never surrendered to Israel because Israel never tried to conquer Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia knew that Israel would never use the nukes except in a last-ditch defense. Israel is a tiny country with only 7 million people in a tiny strip of land. Israel is not trying to conquer the Arab states. It is trying to survive the persistent efforts of the Arab states to conquer Israel. Saudi Arabia knows that. So they didn’t fear Israeli nukes.
    But Iran is an enormous country with 75 million people. It is an ancient land with a nationalist people that has at many times been the hegemon of the region and the outright ruler of Iraq and other regions. It would love to rule the Shia-inhabited oil field of Eastern Saudi Arabia. Iran is a real threat to Saudi Arabia and relations between the two nations have been very hostile for the last 30 years.
    Nukes in the hands of Iran are a completely different proposition to the Saudis than nukes in the hand of Israel.
    It’s not the nukes, it’s who owns them and what he intends to do with them. Maybe Vahidi would give one to Hizbullah. That would be reckless but lots of these guys are true believers in the Mahdi. Maybe one of them wants to bring on Armageddon. They already belong to a sect that sees no problem with mass-casualty terrorism even when most of the victims are Muslims. The point is, nobody can be quite sure they won’t supply Hizbullah. And that includes Saudi Arabia, the site of the Khobar Towers attack, which was done by Hizbullah on Iranian orders.

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  35. Paul Norheim says:

    “Or are you actually claiming that Hizbullah doesn’t work for Iran, despite
    receiving 100s of millions of dollars per year and Revolutionary Guards training?”
    Jesus, I didn`t realize that my English was so bad. What I`m trying to say is that
    Hizbullah is supported by Iran, and it`s a lie to claim that “everybody pretends”
    that it is not supported by Iran. Read any main stream international newspaper in
    the Western world, and you`ll see that they mostly confirm that Hizbullah is
    supported by Iran.

    Reply

  36. WigWag says:

    By the way, JohnG, out of concern that I might have been impolite to Flynt Leverett, I went back and checked Dan Drezner’s blog at Foreign Policy. Drezner responded to the position of the Leveretts in a post he wrote on Tue, 09/29/2009 – 9:22am.
    My comment is certainly no more impolite or even acerbic than Drezner’s. Drezner is a foreign policy expert and Professor of International Politics and Law at Tufts; I’m just a dilettante writing blog comments to stay busy.
    It seems to me that for Flynt Leverett or you to consider my first comment on this thread to be a “personal attack” you would have to be awfully thin-skinned.

    Reply

  37. JohnH says:

    I guess that if Nadine believes Hibullah works for Iran, then she must think that Israel is working for the United States! They’re all just a bunch of mindless robots being manipulated by the buttons on someone else’s keyboard!
    My tears of laughter are going to make my keyboard short out soon!

    Reply

  38. JohnH says:

    Wigwag said, “To me, their indifference to what happened in Iran inspires me to take their policy prescriptions far less seriously.”
    And Wigwag’s indifference to what happened in Gaza makes inspires me to take her policy observations far less seriously! Particularly, when she claims her heart bleeds for Iranian protesters.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    What is supposed to be the lie, Paul, that the Arab states and the US never officially tie Hizbullah’s actions to Iran, thus pretending that Hizbullah doesn’t work for Iran? Or are you actually claiming that Hizbullah doesn’t work for Iran, despite receiving 100s of millions of dollars per year and Revolutionary Guards training? It’s not I who linked Revolutionary Guards commander and now Iranian Defense Minister Vahidi to Hizbullah terror attacks, it’s Interpol.
    I’m not following the thread of your virtual reality world view here.
    And while I have your attention, here is an interesting take on Norway and the Nobel Peace Prize from Victor Davis Hanson that I thought you might like:
    Nobel Prizes from Lala Land
    Norway is a tiny country that was born lucky. It is weak and defenseless (and was quickly overrun in World War II [while neighboring, neutral Sweden sold the Third Reich 40% of its iron ore, that went for everything from Tiger tanks to kill Americans to the ovens at Auschwitz — with free shipping across the Baltic included as a favor]. In the late 1940s it would have been Finlandized during the Cold War, if not for American-led NATO. And the world’s largest military is still pledged to its defense, in case any of the nations, to whose icons it bestows awards, some day decides to send terrorists or nukes its way
    Second, it sits on or near enough to oil to allow what is otherwise a rather insignificant country to be the wealthiest per capita oil producer in the world, and enjoy the influence that many in the Gulf have grown accustomed to. Throw in minerals, natural gas, timber, and fish and the nation sits on a bonanza of natural wealth. No wonder there are philosophers who ponder how to dispense the largess and absenteeism is a national crisis (one receives almost ad infinitum the same cash whether “sick” at home or well on the job). The population of under 5 million is largely homogeneous (90% Nordic), and is thus stable, and both rich and safe beyond its wildest dreams. It does not border a Third World country; “difference” and the “other” — even with recent Islamic immigration — is still defined as speaking Swedish or Danish.
    Hollywood Nation
    In other words, Norway has the leisure to be utopian, and cannot quite understand why other countries are not as liberal as it has proven. So Norway loves to give award to all sorts of right-thinking frauds (Menchu), scoundrels (Elbaradei), terrorists (Arafat), Stalinists (Le Doc Tho), Elmer Gantrys (Jimmy Carter) and hucksters (Gore) — as it sits in judgment of others from Lala land.
    Remember, though, the Norwegians privately would not like to live under Central American communism of the Ortega brand, or right next to nutty nuclear Iran, or have Palestinian terrorists on their borders, or in general live the real life that the nation sanctimoniously advocates in the abstract. It sees what happens to neighboring Denmark’s cartoonists when they exercise free speech. It once saw what Neville Chamberlain wrought for its own neighborhood.
    Norway is, in other words, the Hollywood nation. Imagine it is as the son or daughter of a movie star, one who grew up in Malibu, and feels so terribly about it that he lectures the U.S. about everything from global warming to George Bush’s assorted sins — confident that he will never have to work at Ace Hardware, and never have to live near South Central LA. That’ sums up Norway.
    T-Ball Awards
    Effort and intention, not achievement, matter to these pious Europeans. We should honor preseason favorites, not 20-game winners; praise dazzling book proposals, not best sellers; gush about on-the-shelf Pentagon plans not battle victories. Don’t dare end the Cold War, or save millions in Africa from AIDs, or get rid of Milosevic; but most certainly do dare to convince the world that the Muslims jump-started the Renaissance. For that brave assertion, global peace will surely follow.
    Norway on the Potomac
    More seriously, the Obama Prize represents two recent larger Nobel trends: 1) an effort to curtail American foreign policy in favor of international deference (as in the case of rewarding Carter and Gore for their defamation of Bush in their opposition to Iraq); 2) a general disconnect from accomplishment in favor of leftist intentions, as in the case of Elbaradei or Rogaberta Menchu who accomplished essentially nothing (and spoke or wrote about that nothing in suspect fashion), but were a hit among international Western elites as authentically anti-Western non-Westerns.
    Anyone who has taught in the university over the last thirty years has witnessed dozens of mini-sorts of Nobel Prizes each year handed out to faculty on the basis of what they represent or said rather than accomplishment; but it is still remarkable to see such postmodernism hit the world stage, where reality is virtual and constructed on language and expressed intent.
    Think of the tiny Norway’s Machiavellianism: A utopian American President is now supported for his rhetoric — and yet also sent a signal that brave new Nobel Prize laureates simply don’t support Israel, pressure Iran, stay in Afghanistan or Iraq, or keep open Guantanamo. It is as if that Oslo is saying ‘our man in Washington’ is, well, now really ‘our man in Washington.’
    The vision of Norway is now to be the aspiration of the world, albeit with the understanding that in the era of cap-and-trade someone will still buy Norway’s oil to power their carbon-foot-printing cars, and its timber for their ungreen homes, and still offer icky planes, rockets, nukes, and carriers to ensure Norway is safe in a fashion that it was not sixty-five years ago. Quisling is still its chief loan word to the English Language.
    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson101109.html

    Reply

  40. Paul Norheim says:

    “…everybody pretends they don’t know who Hizbullah works for.” (Nadine)
    Another lie. She knows that we know that this isn`t true. But she doesn`t care, if some
    ignorant reader perhaps buys her propagandistic lies.

    Reply

  41. WigWag says:

    JohnG, I am happy to respond to you point by point but I do have one question I hope you will answer for me before I do; are you John Guyer? If you are, sometimes you comment under the moniker, “JG” and sometimes you use your full name. I am just wondering whether you are the person who works for the New America Foundation or whether you are just someone who shares the same first name and last initial as John Guyer. I note from his post that Flynt Leverett recently published an article with a “John Garver” at Georgia Tech. Perhaps you are him. Of course, if you prefer not to say, that’s okay. After all, I comment anonymously too.
    “You must be so pleased with yourself that you were able to launch a personal attack against your favorite “Ahmadinejad Apologist”, and the first comment to boot. Congratulations. Well done.”(JohnG)
    I didn’t call Mr. Leverett an “Ahmadinejad Apologist,” at least in this comment and I don’t see how you can suggest that my comment was a “personal attack.” I didn’t criticize Leverett personally and I didn’t allude to any aspect of his individual characteristics. For the record, I am sure that Mr. Leverett is a very fine person who must be highly intelligent and capable considering his current employment and his past jobs.
    Any fair reading of my comment makes clear that it is Mr. Leverett’s position on Iran that I am objecting to and that I critiqued it politely. That is what the “comment section” of a blog is for, isn’t it JohnG?
    As for my comment appearing first on this thread, where comments come out is pretty much the luck of the draw, isn’t it?
    “Please enlighten us with the details of the insidious conspiracy behind Mr. Leverett’s “hope” for a Chinese veto of sanctions.” (JohnG)
    There was no suggestion that Mr. Leverett was involved in an “insidious conspiracy.” But I do think it’s interesting to ponder what Mr. Leverett’s position would be if a sanctions resolution came before the Security Council. Mr. Leverett has told us that he believes China will veto any such resolution, but he hasn’t told us if he hopes China would veto the resolution or whether he would hope that China would allow sanctions to be imposed. It’s a mystery to me why anyone would find this question so objectionable.
    “What makes you think that Mr. Leverett is suggesting that the US “sell out” the demonstrators?” (JohnG)
    Mr. Leverett, along with his spouse Hillary Mann Leverett (who, for the record I am also sure is a fine and intelligent person) has become one of the prime advocates for a grand bargain with Iran. Although I disagree with that position, I certainly acknowledge that it is a legitimate position. Mr. Leverett and people who agree with him usually appear reluctant to spell out exactly what the American side of the bargain would be.
    It is self-evident that the United States would have to agree to abandon completely and for all time, any assistance to Iranians seeking to topple the regime. No military assistance would be allowed, no covert operations could be undertaken, and even the type of plain vanilla assistance offered by the Voice of America and similar institutions might have to be eschewed.
    In short, Leverett wants the United States to make common cause with the Mullahs instead of the student demonstrators; that sounds alot like selling out those student demonstrators to me.
    And what would the United States get in return for abandoning the most progressive elements in Iranian society in favor of the most reactionary elements in Iranian society? If Leverett’s post is to be believed, we would get to share in the same energy resources that he suggests the Chinese will monopolize if we don’t make his “grand bargain.” Leverett may think the U.S. quest for energy riches is enough to abandon the democracy demonstrators; I don’t. My guess is that millions of Americans don’t either.
    In my opinion, following Leverett’s advice would be like repeating the mistake with Mossadegh all over again. In 1953 we toppled an elected leader to install a dictator; the Iranian people were outraged. Now Mr. Leverett wants the United States to ignore the results of a free election to support the usurpers and the reactionary Mullahs. If we do, the United States will have compounded its mistake.
    “The policies that the Leveretts advocate today are the same policies that they were advocating several years ago, well before the June elections in Iran.” (JohnG)
    That is certainly true; the Leverett’s are a model of consistency. In an article recently, Mr. Leverett compared the policy he is recommending for Iran with the policy that Nixon pursued with China almost a half century ago. The differences between China in the 1960s and Iran in 2009 are so great that Leverett’s analogy between the two is just silly.
    The fact that both Leveretts are advocating the same policy today as they were before the Iranian election makes clear that they view the results of the Iranian election with indifference. At worst the Iranian election was stolen by the Mullahs, at best the elections suffered from severe irregularities; the Leveretts have made it abundantly apparent that they don’t care either way.
    Is the indifference of the Leveretts to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people supposed to make us more sympathetic to the Leverett’s point of view or less sympathetic? I guess it depends on whether you’re a “realist” or not. To me, their indifference to what happened in Iran inspires me to take their policy prescriptions far less seriously.
    “And what pray tell are the attributes of “crack cocaine realist?” (JohnG)
    My suggestion JohnG is that you ask the proprietor of this blog that question. Steve Clemons called Flynt Leverett a “crack cocaine realist” during a panel discussion on Iran that Leveret participated in a few months ago. The panel was simulcast at the Washington Note.
    Your best bet is to ask Steve. He knows more about “crack cocaine realists” than I do.
    And if you are John Guyer, asking Steve should be easy; his office is probably just a few doors down from yours.
    Cheers, JohnG!

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    More of Nadine’s paranoid ravings: “Saudi Arabia will kowtow to Iran – King Abdullah is already making nice. The other Gulfies will follow.”
    Nadine is simply spewing recycled, discredited domino theories. Saudi Arabia never surrendered to Israel because of its nuclear program. And nobody will surrender to Iran because of its hypothetical nuclear program.
    BTW–Saudi Arabia spends twice as much on its military as Iran. They’re not about to surrender to Iran, particularly as long as the 5th Fleet is prowling the Gulf.
    Gotta go–Nadine makes me laugh so hard that the tears are getting my keyboard all wet.

    Reply

  43. jonst says:

    Whatever Flynn wants or does not want, whatever the US govt wants or does not want, does or does not do, neither can ‘sell out the demonstrators’ in Iran. We don’t have enough leverage or influence, or trust with them to sell them out in the first place. All such talk is slogan chanting neocon/neoliberal nonsense designed to turn this complicated, delicate, situation into something akin a 1950s US Western melodrama on TV. While childish, it often works on Americans. And especially works on the MSM. Given that it ‘sounds good to them’.
    “””This is why relying on the international community sounds nice on paper but almost
    never works.”.
    Yes, well, (cough, cough)the Palestinian and Lebanese people know something about that.

    Reply

  44. nadine says:

    Paul, I don’t know if the Iranian overture was serious or a head-fake. I’ve seen opinions both ways. The Iranian track record on talks puts the odds on “head fake.” In retrospect, it might have been better to respond to it, while strongly and credibly hinting that if the Iranians didn’t negotiate in good faith, they would be next after Saddam. That might have given the talks a chance.
    Contrary to the Lefty party line, there have been lots of US-Iranian diplomatic contacts all along. There was even a big deal that Condi Rice thought she had negotiated in 2006, but which the Iranians welshed on at the last minute. The problem isn’t that the US won’t talk. The problem is that the Iranians only talk to buy time.

    Reply

  45. nadine says:

    Ha, ha yourself JohnH. If the US takes a “hands off” position and cedes Iran nukes, then the balance of power shifts without Iran having to invade anybody. Iran’s army may be weak compared to the US, but it’s a powerhouse compared to any of the Arab states. None of them can compare to what Saddam had in 1980, and he nearly lost the war even after a surprise invasion of Iran at their moment of greatest weakness. Saudi Arabia will kowtow to Iran – King Abdullah is already making nice. The other Gulfies will follow.
    As for Iran invading anybody – they’d certainly be very stupid to do it with their own Army when they can use Hizbullah and everybody pretends they don’t know who Hizbullah works for. The world has decided to hugely reward the use of terrorist proxies so naturally you will see more of it.

    Reply

  46. JohnH says:

    Funny Nadine! The international community is “perfectly happy to see Iran take over the Gulf.” You can certainly be credited for your wild imagination.
    Now for reality–Iran has not invaded anyone in modern times. They only devote 2.5% of their GDP to the military, a small fraction of what the US spends in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
    And you think they could take over the Gulf? Ha-ha-ha-ha!

    Reply

  47. Paul Norheim says:

    I think the diplomatic overture you refer to came in 2003 – but nevermind. The point
    is that the US unilateralists didn`t even bother to respond. That was a grave
    mistake.

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    “”This is why relying on the international community sounds nice on paper but almost
    never works.”
    While unilateral US actions almost always work.”
    Their track record is far from perfect, but it’s a lot better. Remember that the last Iranian diplomatic overture that anybody thought might be serious came in 2002, at a time when Iran thought they might be next after Saddam.
    Soft power works ever so much better when it’s backed by hard power. If the “international community” and the US worked together, they could contain Iran. But the international community is only interested in containing the US (happily for them, they’ve now got a like-minded President of the US) and is perfectly happy to see Iran take over the Gulf. Well maybe the Arabs aren’t so happy.

    Reply

  49. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, last time I checked, Iran hasn’t shot any American protestors in the head.
    Wigwag couldn’t care less about the Iranian protestors. When Israel or the US bombs Iran, and kills these people in great numbers, WigWag will simply shrug, and say they deserved it.

    Reply

  50. JohnH says:

    Wigwag’s heart is bleeding again for the Iranian protesters! Of course, her heart does not bleed at all for all the women and children killed in Gaza as thoroughly documented by the Goldstone Report.
    Of course, Wigwag chooses to ignore the tremendous progress made by women under the current regime: illiteracy among women has plummeted, and over 60% of university students are women.
    But Wigwag can rest assured. The US is not likely to sell out the Iranian protesters, because Iran is not likely to cede control over its vast energy resources to the US. As a result, the US regime needs the protesters in its quixotic efforts to destabilize the Iranian regime and get control of Iranian energy resources before Iran lets the Chinese fully develop them.
    Only if the US returns to its senses and decides to negotiate a fair deal with Iran, should Wigwag become alarmed.

    Reply

  51. Paul Norheim says:

    “This is why relying on the international community sounds nice on paper but almost
    never works.”
    While unilateral US actions almost always work.
    Yeah.

    Reply

  52. nadine says:

    From Reuters:
    “MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to win specific pledges from Moscow on tougher sanctions against Iran during a visit to Russia Tuesday but hailed progress in other areas such as arms control.
    A senior U.S. official had said before the talks that Clinton wanted to know “what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared for to join us” if Iran did not keep promises to the international community not to pursue nuclear weapons.”
    Oh gee, wasn’t there a lot of optimism that after the US gave up the missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, Russia would reciprocate on Iran sanctions? The Russian ambassador said something that sounded like reconsideration, and TWN was all a-twitter.
    Guess not, guys. Looks like the US stiffed our allies and gave up a bargaining chip for nothing. Not the definition of smart diplomacy in my book.
    As for China, they have never supported strong sanctions on Iran before. Now that they have a “strategic relationship” they are hardly more likely to support strong sanctions. This is why relying on the international community sounds nice on paper but almost never works.

    Reply

  53. JohnG says:

    Wig:
    You often post intellectually provocative and insightful comments, but other times…
    You must be so pleased with yourself that you were able to launch a personal attack against your favorite “Ahmadinejad Apologist”, and the first comment to boot. Congratulations. Well done.
    Please enlighten us with the details of the insidious conspiracy behind Mr Leverett’s “hope” for a Chinese veto of sanctions.
    What makes you think that Mr Leverett is suggesting that the US “sell out” the demonstrators?
    The policies that the Leveretts advocate today are the same policies that they were advocating several years ago, well before the June elections in Iran.
    And what pray tell are the attributes of “crack cocaine realist”?

    Reply

  54. ... says:

    let put sanctions on israel..we can start by banning their use of white phosphorous… we ought to be able to get every country except the usa to agree to that one…

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    It remains to be seen what China can or can’t be convinced to accept in terms of sanctions on Iran. Is Mr. Leverett sure that China will veto an enhanced sanctions program introduced at the U.N. Security Council or is he just hoping that China will veto sanctions on Iran?
    Is Mr. Leverett suggesting that the United States sell out the millions of young Iranian demonstrators who put their lives on the line to protest the stolen election just so we can cash in on Iranian energy resources just like the Chinese are?
    You bet that’s what he’s suggesting.
    After all, he’s a “crack cocaine” realist.

    Reply

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