Guest Post by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett: Reading Russia on Iran

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This is a guest note by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett. Flynt directs the New America Foundation/Iran Project and is a former Senior Director of Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council. Hillary is chairman of Stratega, a political risk consultancy. They are co-publishers of the new blog, The Race for Iran.
Yet again, U.S. officials, Western media, and various “experts” are telling us that Russia is finally coming on board for really tough sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities. See, the latest media report on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev “joining forces” with President Obama on the need for tougher sanctions against Iran here.
Frankly, we’ve lost count of how many times U.S. officials, across the Clinton, George W. Bush, and, now, Obama Administrations, have claimed that, this time, Russia is really on board for severe sanctions against Iran. With the inauguration of Barack Obama at the beginning of this year, some observers speculated that America’s “smart lawyer” President would find a soulmate in his newly installed and relatively liberal (by Russian standards) counterpart.
Many more commentators continue to trot out tired arguments about how Russia’s interests overlap with America’s with respect to not wanting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, so, if the United States adopted a “smarter” Russia policy than that pursued by President George W. Bush, Moscow would eventually come around to the American position on sanctioning the Islamic Republic. For this camp, Obama’s self-proclaimed interest in hitting the “reset button” with Moscow will surely facilitate closer Russian-American cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue.
It is remarkable how such shallow analysis – fundamentally at odds with observed reality in multiple ways – continues to have considerable traction in public discussions of Iran policy in the West. First of all, the Obama Administration’s efforts to hit the “reset button” with Moscow have not been all that adroit, particularly with Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton popping up regularly to offer various anti-Russian statements, in contrast to President Obama’s somewhat more disciplined approach to the English language (which may be why Obama has found it necessary to have five of his own meetings with Medvedev over the past ten months).
More importantly, as Dmitri Simes and Paul Saunders pointed out recently, “neither Barack Obama’s charm nor appeals to common interests will persuade Russia’s unsentimental leaders”. In particular, Russia’s posture toward the Islamic Republic is shaped by calculations about important economic, political, and strategic interests; these calculations are not going to shift dramatically simply because Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allowed Medvedev to take custody of the Kremlin keys.
What interests shape Russia’s Iran policy? Most immediately, Moscow clearly attaches a high priority to keeping the Iranian nuclear issue in the United Nations Security Council–where, as a permanent member, Russia has considerable influence–because it is the only forum where Russia can at least potentially constrain U.S. unilateral action. Largely for this reason, Moscow has supported three sanctions resolutions against Iran over its nuclear activities since 2006. (These resolutions are available at The Race For Iran.)
However, on every one of these resolutions, Russia pushed back hard against British, French, and U.S. drafts to ensure that only narrowly focused measures (e.g., asset freezes and travel restrictions) targeting individuals and entities directly linked to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs were authorized. By doing this, Moscow made sure that multilateral sanctions authorized by the Security Council would not impede Russia’s pursuit of important longer-term economic, political, and strategic interests vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic.
Among these longer-term interests are selling nuclear and other high technology items and military systems to Iran, cooperating with Tehran to contain the spread of Sunni extremism in Russia’s sphere of influence, and working with the Islamic Republic to weaken America’s strategic position in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Moscow may well end up supporting another Security Council resolution expanding the existing sanctions regime against Iran – giving just enough to keep the United States from taking the issue out of the Council and forging a “coalition of the willing” or of the “like-minded”. Beyond its interest in keeping the Iranian nuclear file in the Security Council, Moscow is not happy with Tehran’s ambivalent reaction to a proposal that Russia helped to develop and advance, to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor using a significant portion of Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Conversations with Russian officials suggest that Moscow may also be looking for ways to show displeasure with alleged Iranian slowness in making payments for various weapons purchases and (perhaps) on the Bushehr nuclear reactor project.
Furthermore, while Russia does not want to see a military confrontation between the United States (or Israel) and Iran, Moscow also does not want to see an overly rapid rapprochement between the United States (or Europe) and Iran. Among other considerations, Russian policymakers and the leadership of Gazprom are keen to prevent head-to-head competition between Russian and Iranian gas, especially in Europe.
These considerations notwithstanding, it remains highly unlikely that Russia will support proposals from the United States and its European partners to go beyond exclusively proliferation-focused sanctions and target key sectors of Iran’s economy. To do so would put important Russian interests – including access to the Iranian market for high technology and military goods, strategic cooperation with Tehran, and the prospect that Gazprom and other Russian energy companies could develop upstream positions inside Iran.
The bottom line: whether with regard to prospects for Russian cooperation, prospects for Chinese cooperation, or the likely impact of additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic itself, the Obama Administration remains attached to a delusional sanctions policy.
— Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

Comments

33 comments on “Guest Post by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett: Reading Russia on Iran

  1. Outraged American says:

    If the Leveretts actually read these comments, this is a MUST
    READ analysis on Iran by Professor Muhammad Sahimi. He is a
    USC professor and an expert on Iran’s nuclear program:
    The Israel Lobby, the Neocons, and the Iranian-American
    Community
    Ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected Iran’s president
    in June 2005 and began using strong rhetoric against Israel, the
    neoconservatives and the Israel lobby have been trying to
    provoke a war against Iran, or at the very least persuade the
    United States and the international community to impose
    crippling sanctions on Iran. Their efforts have been multi-
    pronged, ranging from spreading exaggerations, half truths,
    and even outright lies about Iran’s nuclear program, to planting
    anti-Iran articles in the mainstream media, and pressuring the
    Congress to pass tough Resolutions for sanctions against Iran.
    The campaign has spread to cyberspace. Every popular Iranian
    website (such as Iranian.com) has some bloggers who strongly
    advocate crippling sanctions and even war with Iran, and
    support Israel’s position.
    ENTIRE ARTICLE (h/t antiwar.com)
    http://tinyurl.com/yk5ou6m
    Just rolling my eyes at other stuff…my eyes are going to roll out
    of their sockets soon.
    …, you and your viewpoint will be missed. Happy trails to you
    and your fellow Canukistanians. Please try to get the the good
    people of Canada to not to be accomplices in UsRael foreign
    policy!

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “WigWag is a genius”
    Right. Her attacks on my family are especially indicative of a high intelligence. And her insinuations cast at her ideological opposites, regarding penis size, surely cinch the observation that she must be a true mensa.

    Reply

  3. BlameGame says:

    I come here for three reasons; to read comments by WigWag and Dan Kervick and to read posts by Ben Katcher.
    WigWag is a genius. His comments are topical and very interesting. In just the past few months, he has written on topics as diverse as T.E. Lawrence’s sexual preferences, General Sherman and the Civil War and pharmaceutical research. I also like his critiques of Flynt Leverett’s posts even though I don’t always agree with him. He is a major asset to this blog and I am sure that many lurkers come here regularly just to hear what he has to say.
    Dan Kervick’s writing is magnificent. He’s like a cross between Charles Dickens and J. Peterman. Frankly, he is probably wasting his time posting at the Washington Note; instead he should be a journalist or even a novelist. Mr. Kervick’s writing is so good, I sometimes find myself reading his comments several time just for the sheer fun of it.
    Ben Katcher’s posts on Turkey and Iran are very informative. Most blogs are so full of bombast. Rarely is their an opportunity to learn something new. Mr. Katcher’s posts are an exception. I learn something new every time I read one. I mean no disrespect to Steve Clemons when I say that in the case of Ben Katcher, the student frequently surpasses the teacher.
    Steve Clemons should close the comment section down if he wants to. But if he does, he should offer to make WigWag and Dan Kervick regular guest posters. They are a credit to his blog and I am willing to bet that they have loyal readers. And the more of Ben Katcher we get, the better.
    Just some advice from a fan of the Washington Note.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It won’t be long before this comment section will be a short line of kiss-ass pretentious jackasses, carrying apples to the teacher’s desk. Composing essays designed to “sound smart”, even when founded in fantasy, there will be no opposition offered to the think tank mentality, whose vapid analytical inanities has brought United States foreign policy to its current state of disrepair.
    I too have been considering the final adios to this community. Like all my past addictions, this one will be hard fought to overcome, if I choose to do so. But the condescending and pretentious posture some of the posters here have assumed will certainly aid me in combating my withdrawal symptoms.
    When this comment section loses its personality, than it has lost its humanity. And without its humanity, it kinda mimics current United States foreign policies, doesn’t it?
    There are TWO sides to the brain. Experience has taught me that one side is nothing without the other.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    paul, thanks for saying something…i view your communicating with others is an act of sharing and kindness..
    i think the idea of spontaneity freaks some out… anyone who views what gets said on the net as some sort of gospel, or that all the subtleties are here- end of story would appear approach the comment section differently then me… throw in a sense, or appreciation of humour which might be absent in some as well and one is screwed for just about anything one says by these same ‘correct’ people…. misunderstandings are easy, steves interpretation of my words in connection with zathras being a case in point..
    i have noted for a while steves displeasure at my input and presence here…consequently this will be my last post.. happy trails everybody!

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    …,
    You said in a response to Dan K. – before he had elaborated on his suggestion to keep the
    comment section closed – that “you can always opt out of commenting or reading what gets
    posted here.. no one is forcing you to be here..”
    I sincerely doubt that you really meant that Dan should stop commenting here, but then,
    unfortunately, Zathras responded, 3 comments later: “No one is forcing me to be here,
    either. So, I’m gone.”
    If Zathras leaves, I assume that this is a result of the general tone and frequent off
    topic rants here, and not your comment as such. I hope that he will reconsider his
    decision to leave.
    Bottom line: regular commenters like Zathras and Dan, who usually write on topic
    comments, are rare and valuable animals here, and should by all means be encouraged to
    stay, not to leave.
    I often disagree with Zathras – but that`s a completely different issue.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    steve, i think you’re wrong to characterize me as running zathras off… nothing i said was directed specifically to anyone other then dan kervick, i spoke to him in a respectful manner.. i don’t get it with you sometimes and this is a good example..

    Reply

  8. Steve Clemons says:

    LET ME BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT I EXPECT FROM COMMENTS…
    POA, Dan Kervick is absolutely right. I have no more patience for the personal fight-baiting that goes on here. I will delete comments at will with no explanation and am beginning to block commenters. I see no reason why a vigorous, serious, high quality debate can’t take place here with out vile, in the gutter attacks. I simply won’t tolerate it.
    And to “…”, if you run anyone else out of the comments section as you encouraged Zathras to do, and I will ban you. That was disrespectful and wrong. So listen to me absolutely carefully — YOU WILL BE BANNED if you folks can’t learn how to become decent, respectful human beings to each ohter as you discuss and debate matters.
    Zathras is a much desired, valuable member of the comment community here — and …’s flippant remark that he could leave if he wanted was out of line. That kind of attitude is not the tone I expect to dominate this comments section.
    I work hard on this blog — and I try to read and respond to as many of the comments as I can…but I do not do this blog for the commenters. I enjoy the value that sometimes is provided here — but the comments are in no way my objective.
    If you all raise the costs of my maintenance of this, then I will have no choice but to do what many other high level bloggers have done and simply not have them.
    So — this is my requirement. No more baiting, no more ad hominem attacks. I will try to review comments and if I see items that go over the line, you get no warning — I will just delete them. Don’t email me — and don’t be complaining to me about other people if your own behavior is wanting.
    Serial offenders banned — period. I do not want to be engaged in an idiotic wrestling match over the quality of comments.
    So, thank you to those of you who respect this blog and others with whom you either agree or do not agree to maintain a civil posture in your commentary.
    But to all of those who know you are over the line, YOU DO NOT SET THE TONE HERE. I will block you — even the best several known of you.
    If I sound pissed off, then know that I really am. I will not invest more time in over-monitoring disrespectful people here.
    Grow Up. Be Respectful. Fix this.
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    POA, Steve complained about comments that “are not in any way constructive, civil, fair-minded, or policy-oriented,” and “rampant ad hominem attacks.”
    It’s pretty easy. If someone writes something you disagree with, then you can respond in a couple of very different ways. One is,
    “Here’s what’s wrong with THAT.”
    That’s the constructive, civil and policy-oriented approach, at least when followed up with an argument. Good. Then there’s,
    “Here’s what’s wrong with YOU.”
    That’s the non-constructive, uncivil and ad hominem approach. Not good.
    I would also suggest it is non-constructive, uncivil, and just plain childish to taunt, bait, goad and provoke other commenters, for the sheer sake of dialing-up the emotional pitch and increasing the likelihood of rambunctious and passionate personal conflict. It is evident that lots of people get jollies from this kind of activity, apparently because they just find fighting and verbal combat to be loads of fun, and tend to treat whatever forum they are in as an online sex toy for their own entertainment and emotional self-gratification. But when the tempers rise, the intellectual quality generally goes down – especially here, as anyone who has spent any extended time here well knows.
    It’s bad manners for guests not to attempt in any way whatsoever to help their host achieve his ends. Steve is clearly trying to promote serious discussion of important national and international issues, and has graciously offered a spot where people can jump in and talk about the topics he and his guest posters introduce. But while there is plenty of interesting discussion, there is also a lot of distracting, voluminous and irrelevant sparring and flaming among commenters. That sort of stuff acts like an invasive weed that spreads rapidly and chokes off productive growths. Steve shouldn’t have to waste time pulling and spraying the weeds, or acting like a dorm hall monitor, erasing the graffiti and telling the rowdies to pipe down.
    Is it too much to hope that commenters here might stop talking about *other commenters*, and spend their time talking about what those other commenters *say*?
    It’s a silly error to associate the attempt to moderate discussion and keep it moving in a productive direction as equivalent to an attempt to censor political content or “end dialogue”. Steve has almost never stepped in to declare some political content out of bounds, no matter how extreme or loopy. The only thing he has tried to stop are the hateful, snide and belligerent personal characterizations of one commenter by another, and the tendency for discussions here to degenerate rapidly away from the topic at hand and toward the personal characteristics of the discussants themselves.
    Talking smack to Nadine, Pissed Off American, WigWag, Outraged American, Dan Kervick, questions, …, or Paul Norheim is not speaking truth to power, unless one of us possesses a lot more heft in this world than I am aware of. US policy toward Afghanistan, toward Japan, toward China, toward Israel, toward Turkey, toward Venezuela and toward Iran are interesting and very important topics. And most of us commenters are neither deeply interesting nor very important. So to the extent that commenters here become the topic of discussion, TWN becomes a less interesting and important place for someone to visit.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Pahalavan,
    I think you completely misunderstood my post.

    Reply

  11. Pahalavan says:

    Some are advocating to end all dialogue simply to relieve themselves from what they consider “nasty tones” or “personal attacks”. Is that suppose to be good for America?
    Turning a blind eye (be it by design or by lack of IQ) to poor one sided reporting and propeganda may have worked well in the 50’s, but thoes days are over. This is a new integrated world and America needs objective dialogue to dig itself out of the hole that pirates that have hijacked our political system have dug all the american tax payers in to.
    Maybe A month long houseswap with someone in Iraq (or anywhere in the middle east for that matter)will help you see how it feels to be on the opposite end of a short sited foreign policy.

    Reply

  12. ... says:

    paul, i like what you have to say…it isn’t worth it naming names… everyone who has been here a while has gotten to know the regulars here… some are intelligent, some arrogant, some are noxious, some a combo of all these traits, some take only one side of an issue and are hostile to those with an opposite view… all this leads to less appreciation of others and the educational value the commentary might be able to offer.. frustration only goes so far and then what do you do? humour goes further in my mind anyway.. it might not resolve a lot, but it makes the trip more enjoyable..

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    Perhaps the (perceived) lack of quality in the comment section is also related to the
    current political circumstances and the general atmosphere – at least to a certain
    degree?
    Just a short reminder: First 8 years with Bush/Cheney – the disbelief, anger and
    desperation seeing how they made one fatally wrong decision after another.
    Then the excitement and debates during the election – and the optimism among those who
    invested in Obama.
    And then the disappointment, now almost universal.
    The events in 2009 have given the cynics on both sides regarding Israel/Palestine (and
    several other issues) good arguments. And both are now saying: “I told you so!”
    The pro-Israel crowd is in a triumphant mood; the pro-Palestine crowd doesn`t have much
    else to say than: “I knew this wouldn`t work” – and to express their habitual anger –
    and they direct it at the triumphant pro-Israel crowd – frequently ad hominem. And
    certain commenters from the pro-Israel side respond inspired by the “eye for an eye,
    tooth for a tooth” ethos – ad hominem back and forth.
    In short: a huge change in optics – and no change in substance in US foreign politics.
    And this may be reflected in the comment section at TWN, both among former optimists
    and die-hard cynics – translated to: not even optical changes in the comment section of
    TWN.
    In addition, I have noticed that since I started commenting here (autumn 2007), several
    formerly regular commenters have stopped writing posts, or at least comment much less
    frequently than before. Newcomers since 2007/2008 who have become regulars?
    OutragedAmerican and Nadine. Anyone else?
    People come and go. But there is little fresh blood in the sense of new regular
    commenters. And I think this is partly due to the frequent ad hominem fights and often
    nasty tone in the threads. But I think the mood and tone right now is also related to
    the political environment and the topics we`re supposed to discuss.
    The cynics may have been proven correct at the end of 2009. However: “I told you so” is
    not a position that triggers interesting and substantial debates.

    Reply

  14. ... says:

    dan kervick – i appreciate your response and know what you mean… unfortunately this type of dynamic seems to exist on most sites that i visit… perhaps it is a bit more noxious on this site at times with some of the posters…. i don’t know if there is an easy answer but closing the commentary section would seem a bit much… i understand your pov and thanks for the commentary you do give from time to time..

    Reply

  15. Outraged American says:

    Hey, who you callin’ “rundown” & “mangy”? I’m going to have to
    go look-up “ad hominem” although I think Dan just gave us a
    Webster’s Dictionary style example.
    I admit that my skin hasn’t touched water for awhile, except
    yesterday, when our neighbors down the street were forced to
    move out of their house because the guy lost his job and they
    couldn’t afford to even rent a house anymore and we had to take
    their irrigation or the neighborhood would flood, so I was knee
    deep in sewage.
    Does that count as a bath in Dan’s world?
    Housing crisis, what housing crisis?
    No, killing the old people and children of Iran, especially the
    preemies like Saddam “did” to Kuwaiti babies ((TM Tom Lantos/
    Hill & Knowlton), is more important than these young,
    hardworking, and frankly very nice, AMERICAN people, with two
    very cute young kids, having a roof over their heads.
    Bombing Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program is more
    important than generating real jobs — our cities are a mess —
    why not a pubic works program, by which I mean one that
    doesn’t involve deployment? — rather than keeping the Wall
    Street crooks who got us into this mess in their Gucci loafers so
    they can stomp on us more.
    I for one think that POA has more integrity than anyone in DC,
    and I think that his voice and the voice of populists, who tend to
    be pragmatists because they lead real lives, are tragically not
    listened to inside the Beltway, which is the biggest echo
    chamber in the world.
    I’m surprised Congress can even hear their own bellicose
    rhetoric directed at a country on the other side of the friggin’
    world given how loud the sound of them patting each other on
    the backside is, and the ka-chink of coins pouring into their
    coffers from the Israel Lobby.
    So Congressman Berman (D-Israel) that louse whose district I’m
    still registered in, mostly to avoid jury duty — the last time I had
    jury duty the judge threatened me because I couldn’t stop
    laughing — wants to allow travel to Cuba.
    That’s great. I have a really rich friend who used to go to Cuba
    to get laid, not the Hawaiian type, and she said it was fantastic,
    but how does that affect the fact that Berman is the leading soft
    hawk on Iran?
    An attack on Iran will necessitate a draft, so I would guess that
    is more important to AMERICANS, the operative word being
    “Americans” than being able to get their ya-yas out pouring a
    mai tai down some hot Cuban salsa dancer’s g-string.
    People don’t have jobs — we won’t have to travel to a place most
    of us could never afford to go to see attractive young college
    students strip for money. They’re joining the military to eat. So
    we already have a poverty draft, but we will have a real one soon
    if Israel gets her way.
    I do agree with Dan that Steve needs to protect his reputation,
    even though getting to pop off to Italy or the Hamptons is a real
    chore and Steve’s probably miserable despite that he’s doing his
    part in job stimulus by single-handedly keeping the hospitality
    industry alive.
    But I don’t think that any of the yuckballs inside the Beltway care
    one whit about what we think, we’re just little numpties to them,
    so they might as well enjoy us and our clownish, primate
    attempts at humor. Or not read the comments of people they
    find offensive.
    It is Steve’s decision.
    In terms of flinging feces, I let the kids have mud fights, and
    honestly, I think it’s about a billion times better to have a mud
    fight than to sit watching TV, which is feces -strewn in content –
    – ever seen a Jerry Springer show?- or playing a violent video
    game that will only desensitize them to kill for when they are
    drafted because of assholes in DC and Tel Aviv. And yes, there
    are studies to prove this.
    By letting the kids fling mud at each other, and the house, I’m
    priming them for a lifetime in politics. Giving them Mud Fight
    101 as it were.
    Saddam offered to sword fight Junior — how much better would
    the world have been should Dumbya had taken up that offer?
    How much less likely would an attack on Iran be if Congress
    were forced to send their kids and not ours?
    And with that I’m off to feed the dogs, two of whom had mange
    when they were rescued, so I must attract it. POA are you
    scratching too?

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Dan, do you REALLY think that the comment section here is attended by individuals that want to see stuffy status quo Washington think tank commentary exclusively succeded by stuffy status quo Washington think tank commentary?
    Why not just copy and paste the essay we are responding to? Blahblahblah followed by blahblahblah, with a little more blahblahblah thrown in.
    We’re human here, buddy. We got warts.
    You don’t think Berman’s COMPLETE resume is an issue when looking at one small part of it? Fine. But at least allow me the right to strongly disagree with you. Do you laud the pedophile loading your kid into the car because the guy had the charity to offer your kid a piece of candy in exchange for his “cooperation”??
    Well, me, I want the WHOLE picture of what Berman is all about. And that ENTIRE picture ain’t pretty. I think it is perfectly reasonable to question the sack of shit’s motives in one arena when he has displayed despicable behaviour in another arena.
    Feel free to disagree. But you don’t hafta get all Stewarty on me.
    Truth is, Dan, I’m reasonably sure that some tune in to read your kind of commenting, and some tune in to read my kind of commenting. Do you see me attacking you? Deciding what kind of “reader” Steve’s blog should attract? Who is stopping you from commenting in the manner you prefer, or from ignoring the comments you aren’t interested in?
    So I joked about sending Wig-wag off to Israel on an inflatable dildo. So what? Don’t read it. You find Nadine’s lies and propaganda more intellectually fitting for this format? Great, feel free to read her to your heart’s content. No one is stopping you. Or may I suggest you cruise on over to Wackjobsville, that bizzarre take on reality that Kotz has compiled under the guise of political sanity.
    Lighten up, man. Steve was down on the viciousness, not on the levity. And you had every opportunity to comment on this thread in your usual astute and serious manner. But hey, I forgive you, I realize its hard to concentrate when you’re having a bad Corn Cob day.

    Reply

  17. Zathras says:

    I agree with Dan Kervick. No one is forcing me to be here, either. So, I’m gone.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So much for anonymous screen names. I think I’ll just start calling Dan “Stewart”.

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    …, as I understand it, Steve closed the comments section in an attempt to convey a message about personal attacks and off-topic commentary.
    But no sooner did the comments open up again than we immediately began getting more of the personal attacks and off-topic commentary. In fact, it is clear that many people seem to come here primarily to entertain themselves with idle personal rows with their favorite adversaries, and to bang their repetitive off-topic drums on post after post. We are apparently incorrigible.
    I think Steve should probably wipe the slate clean; ban the lot of us, and start with a new crew, because the current one is more often than not an embarrassing monkey pen filled with clownish primates throwing their own feces at each other, a run-down, mangy carnival sideshow that Steve has to carry around as a burden on his reputation.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    dan kervick, i almost always have great respect for your viewpoint, but you got me here… no one is forcing you to be here or read the commentary.. on the other hand you can say something of value if you choose… i don’t know why you hold the dark attitude about the comment section that you do here today… is it the weather in vermont or something specific?
    you can always opt out of commenting or reading what gets posted here.. no one is forcing you to be here..

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…..particularly with Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton popping up regularly to offer various anti-Russian statements, in contrast to President Obama’s somewhat more disciplined approach to the English language….”
    Is this a suprise? Hillary seems intent on undermining Obama’s policy advocations, as does three quarters of Congress. There is NO consistency to the Obama Administration’s foreign policy stances, they are all over the ballpark, whether it be Honduras, Isr/Pal, Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
    There is something gravely inept about it, at least in appearances.
    It better get better, or we are in deep shit, (as if we aren’t already). Is anyone actually sure this country can survive another Presidential Administration as disasterously destructive, corrupt, and inept as the last one was? It looks like we might be about ready to find out.

    Reply

  22. Outraged American says:

    What is “Corn Cob Syndrome” and does Rumsfeld have a huge
    financial stake in its vaccine? Is it north, south, east or west of
    Baghdad like Rumsfeld said the “WMD” were?
    These questions do baffle me, so much so that I routinely
    scratch my head wondering why Iran, a signatory to the NPT, is
    at the middle of our bull’s eye while Israel gets to chose all of
    our bulls’ eyes.
    Dan, I give the kids prunes, organic of course, and cranberry
    pills, to get rid of their constipation, and hopefully cut the risk of
    colon cancer. The kids have a history of colon cancer with one
    set of grandparents, and not to be rude at all, but maybe you
    should try this?
    And I really don’t mean to be rude. I really don’t. I’ve just been
    covering the suffering that the Israel/ military/ terrorism/
    industrial complex has caused the world for five years and I’m
    focking sick and tired of it.
    Steve has a channel to DC, we don’t. However I have to amend a
    previous statement — we also had Ron Paul, Mike Gravel,
    Kucinich and Bob Barr on the show, plus some other congress
    people including McKinney. We were one of only two
    independent TV news shows in the US, so you can figure it out.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What IS your problem, Dan? Are you miffed because we aren’t, once again, acting like armchair policy makers, casting pearls of wisdom about how best to punish Iran for doing what it has a perfect right to do?
    Sanctions, eh? Lets screw the Iranian people over like we did the Iraqis, see if we can’t kill a few hundred thousand Muslim kids in the process?
    Whats to talk about? Its obvious what these bastards in DC and Tel Aviv are going to do, come hell or high water, the truth be damned.
    So why not some levity? Why not talk about sending Wig-wag to her homeland of choice with TWN commenter donated swim fins, bathing cap, nose plugs, and a big ‘ol inflatable dildo? Hell, I find that picture far more uplifting than a bunch of Iranian kids not being able to get food and medicines because these asssholes in Washington didn’t learn anything from the last clusterfuck they lied us into.
    You might wanna grease the next corn cob up a bit, improve your attitude some. Try smilin’ a comment or two in our direction. You might as well, because the hand writing is on the wall as far as Iran goes. If Israel can’t get us to screw the Iranians by bullshit and forged documents, then, by golly, they’ll just entertain us with another terrorist skit, or bribe, blackmail, and intimidate us into it.
    Hey, its “diplomacy”, Israeli style.

    Reply

  24. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve was right to shut this place down last week. He should probably keep it closed.

    Reply

  25. John Waring says:

    JohnH,
    Yes, I also am pining for the day when 100,000 American troops are roaming the Hindu Kush at $1,000,000 per soldier per year. What a fabulous use of non-existent American resources.
    The American empire will end in bankruptcy, which seems to be the common fate of Those Who Over-extend.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Kotz, you oughta lose that dictionary and start talkin’ “common folk” again. Delusional sells so much better when its packaged in a plain wrapper.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I thought Wig-wag was fouling the air in Florida, not NY? Perhaps she reconnoitering for the next false flag terrist extravaganza.
    Or maybe she’s on a pilgrimage. Anyone wanna chip in a quarter as a donation for her transportation to Israel? I understand Toys-R-Us has a sale on inflatable hotdogs, and I’ve got an old oar I’ll donate.

    Reply

  28. kotzabasis says:

    The Russians as consummate chess players in that handshake of Putin with Ahmadinejad will check any hard sanctions against Iran. And it’s long time ago that the “smart lawyer” of Harvard proved to be dumb and dim-witted in foreign affairs, as some of us knew from the beginning. Putin is not in the game of strengthening America but of weakening it. And will use all opportunities handed to him to accomplish this Russian irreversible strategic goal.
    Flynt and Hillary Leverret might just disabuse Clemons and some other commentators of TWN from their sanguine view that the Russians-or the Islamists-would be more congenial to the cultured polished Obama.

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  29. JohnH says:

    You’re right. I should have said,’when will OFFICIAL Washington begin to LISTEN to experts who are actually grounded in reality?’
    I wish the debate on military policy in Afghanistan was bound by the same rules as health care–extra expenditures ought to be budget neutral AND DOD spending should finally be submitted to an audit.

    Reply

  30. John Waring says:

    JohnH,
    Washington has experts who are actually grounded in reality. Those experts simply are not listened to.
    Read “The Chimera of Victory” by Colonel Gentile.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/opinion/31iht-edgentile.html?_r=3

    Reply

  31. JohnH says:

    Iraqis will greet the Occupation with roses. It goes without saying that we cannot withdraw from Afghanistan. Russia will support sanctions on Iran. Star Wars will work. The Shah cannot be overthrown. Pigs will fly.
    All evidence that group think is endemic in the Washington foreign policy establishment. A foreign policy bubble like the financial bubble, waiting to be popped. When will Washington begin to hire experts who are actually grounded in reality?

    Reply

  32. OzzyUpstateNY says:

    wigwag here … DC, Obama, Deficits and the Reset Button, well when we are peparing to take all that on a the same time realitically … so everyone `feels safe from unilateral invasions and bombings around the world,’ along with trillion USD borrowing from China, Japan, the Arabs, the Russian Federation and Europe – then we can dictate terms, Right? So wait another 10 years before that answer is complete!

    Reply

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