Guest Post by Jon Weinberg: A Decade Makes a Difference

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iran99.jpgJon Weinberg is a research intern with the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force.
Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the 1999 student protests in Iran. The protests, which began with the government shutdown of the reformist newspaper, Salam, bear several striking resemblances to those that have taken place in the aftermath of the country’s recent June elections.
Nevertheless, perhaps the greatest disparity between the current Iranian protests and those of a decade ago is the existence of websites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. These websites keep Iranian protesters informed about their progress and give the world a firsthand account of what is happening on the ground.
During the July 1999 protests 21 year-old Ahmad Batari became his movement’s de facto poster child for appearing on the cover of that week’s Economist holding a blood-spattered t-shirt of a fellow protester.
In some ways, this image of Batari offers a salient parallel to the video footage of Neda Agha-Soltan (known by her admirers and mourners simply as “Neda”), taken on June 20th when the 27 year-old aspiring singer was shot during while peacefully protesting in Tehran.
Yet, it is the stark contrasts between Ahmad’s and Neda’s stories that highlight why the events of the past four weeks do not have as strong of a historical precedent as many believe. In 1999, the Iranian government could effectively restrict communication and media outlets. Those were the days when journalists and the rest of the world had to settle on an old photograph of Batari and the bloodied shirt.
Now, two videos of Neda’s death are circulating around the internet. News of the videos spread like wildfire, mostly via Twitter after the government disabled SMS texting. On July 3rd, a third video–which was taken from a rooftop–emerged on YouTube confirming Neda was guilty of little more than proximity to a crowd shouting marg bar dictator!— “Death to the dictator!”
I have no doubt that similar, though hopefully less tragic, footage will emerge from yesterday’s protests. Again, young Iranians have gathered around Tehran University chanting “Death to the dictator.” This time, protesters were met with tear gas and nightsticks instead of bullets, perhaps as a result of the Neda videos.
Thus, despite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ostensible electoral victory, it is to their disadvantage that the Iran that they control is fundamentally different than the Iran of 1999. Even if Ahmadinejad’s supporters can prove the election results of June 12th, in all probability it will only get easier for the tens of millions of Iranian dissidents to make themselves heard–and even easier for anyone with an internet connection to hear them.
— Jon Weinberg

Comments

63 comments on “Guest Post by Jon Weinberg: A Decade Makes a Difference

  1. Franklin says:

    JohnH,
    If my sanity and worldview hinged on the belief that the “U.S. is on a march to War” is a matter of non-negotiable doctrine, then I might be sympathetic to your response.
    But I mean come on, g-ve me a f-cking break.
    Adults at least have the capacity to keep diametrically opposed ideas in mind — they have the capacity for doubt; and they are willing to leave space for reasoned disagreement.
    Yet you accuse me of being a shill, various other ad hominems, and willfully obtuse?
    Come on, I’m not the one doing mental somersaults to ignore the statements of the outgoing IAEA chief inspector, and the IAEA’s own report.
    If questions still remain about the military use issue, then it means that Iran has not satisfactorily resolved those issues. These controversies have come into play with North Korea and Brazil in the past as well — so this isn’t a first.
    You may ignore the claims, or twist into contortions arguing simultaneously that “Iran doesn’t want a bomb, so it’s not an issue, but if they do it’s OK; no wait they aren’t, so it’s not an issue, but it’s OK if they do.”
    But I guess, I’m just being obtuse about the whole matter.
    As the saying goes: “Whatever”.

    Reply

  2. Ahmad says:

    Yes, “A decade does make a difference” and new technology is changing the rules for hanging on to power and money but what Jon has missed is that technology has had a much greater impact on public opinion in this country than in Iran. Yes everyone in Iran is armed with a cell phone and they are sure to start recording when they witness a crime but very few in Iran have access to internet and they cannot see these You Tube videos or follow Twitter. They still get their news by word of mouth from those who attend the demonstration. However, in this country, TV news has basically abdicated any kind of investigative reporting and is simply showing everything that appears on the social networking sites and what people are seeing are people much like themselves in Iran and thinking wow that person who is being savagely beaten looks and sounds like my dentist or the parents of the kid on my son’s soccer team who brings oranges to every game and all of a sudden “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb! Bomb, Bomb, Iran!” does not sound so funny even at a republican gathering and all this talk about Moslems hating us because of our freedoms does not take because we are watching people who are clearly sticking to their religion and they do not sound like they hate us. If you do not think things have changed in this country check this 4th of July picnic out in Montana.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnspMSB9Fb4
    As an Iranian American who lived in Iran before the revolution, I guess I believe in conspiracy theories as much as any in my generation and I cannot explain why we see Iranian Basijis beating up peaceful demonstrators on You Tube but no footage of any atrocities by American soldiers in Afghanistan or Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Maybe the couple of hundred million dollars that Bush spent on starting something up in Iran was focused on Technology in some weird way that gives more access to Iranians. I do not think he meant to soften up the American general public about Iranians but he clearly has.

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Uh oh. JohnH is getting a bit upset, bordering on rude. Will his posting “tone” now become the topic of discussion?
    Theres a parallel here. People like Wig-wag , in their commentary, would have the Palestinian people peacefully, meekly, and quietly succumb to the human rights atrocities, blockades, and land thefts of Israel. Any violent resistance on the Palestinian’s part is labeled as “terrorism”, and touted as the reasoning behind the Israeli inflicted carnage and suffering.
    So too does the discourse here go. We are subjected to blatant propaganda, lies, obsfucations, and condescending pseudo-sincere CRAP on a daily basis from a few posters, and they expect us to respond to this pap respectfully and politely. I note the collective patience for such unreasonable expectation is wearing thin, with even the most measured of the commenters here beginning to inject sarcasm and incivility into their responses to this insincere horseshit.

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  4. JohnH says:

    Franklin’s willful obtuseness leads me to believe that he must be a paid propagandist.
    1) He asserts that if one supplier of enriched uranium failed to deliver, Iran could simply switch suppliers. Sure, Franklin, like they did with refinery parts suppliers. Apparently Franklin chooses to be ignorant of the effects of the current sanctions regime, which blocks Iran from building new oil refineries and having enough gasoline. The same could happen with uranium supply, if the Iranians were to depend on foreign, particularly Western, suppliers for their power plants. Good job, Franklin!
    2) Then Franklin asserts that the West could not possibly be false pretenses (like Iraq) to preparing the public for an eventual war to control Iran’s energy resources. He asserts that that cannot possibly be because Iran’s oil fields are declining. Once again, he chooses to ignore four facts:
    1) Statistics on world oil reserves still place Iran in second place behind only Saudi Arabia.
    2) Because of the sanctions regime, Iran is one of the more unexplored places in the Middle East, rivaling Iraq.
    3) Iran has vast natural gas resources.
    4) Iran is ideally suited to host pipelines carrying oil and gas from the Caspian basin to the Perian Gulf or to the Indian Ocean for transport to Europe and the Far East.
    Franklin is oblivious to all these facts. He is probably oblivious to the fact that oil supply is becoming tight and that the West is feeling urgency about securing new reliable, low cost supplies of oil and gas.
    Wow!!! Can Franklin be this oblivious? NO. He must a paid propagandist. The only other explanation is that he must be the fool that he is playing.

    Reply

  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Saturday Night Express:
    (fair usage)
    “Bombings in Tal Afar and Baghdad killed 41 persons on Thursday morning.
    Tal Afar is a northern city with a mostly Turkmen population and some
    Arabs. US military operations in Tal Afar caused the Turkmen Sunnis to
    leave for the post part, leading to a take-over of the city by the
    Shiite Turkmen. The Sunni Turkmen were allied with a minority Sunni
    Arab community, and both had thrown in with the secular Baath regime.
    After the US overthrew the Baath, many Sunnis in the region turned
    toward vigilante fundamentalism or “al-Qaeda,” provoking a fight
    between the Sunnis and the Shiites. The Shiites won, with the help of
    US and NATO fighter pilots, and turned Tal Afar into a Shiite place..
    The angry Sunni guerrillas are the ones most likely behind the bombing
    on Thursday.
    That is,the massive ethnic cleansings in Iraq, under the nose of the US
    military forces, bodes ill for Iraq.
    Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declined
    yesterday to release from prison those prisoners who said they had been
    tortured. He said he would only release them if they were proven
    innocent, not because their human rights had been violated. Nobody, he
    said, seems to care about the human rights of the orphans and widows
    created by these murderers, just about their supposed rights.
    Meanwhile, the United Nations confirmed that the Iraqi government has
    carried out secret, unannounced executions.
    As a result of the likelihood that torture will be applied to them, the
    US military is declining after all to turn 26,000 Iraqi prisoners in
    its prisons in Iraq over to the Iraqi government. (Irony alert). The
    Status of Forces Agreement concluded between the Iraqi parliament and
    the Bush administration stipulates that the US must turn the Iraqi
    prisoners in its custody over to the Iraqi authorities. International,
    regional and Arab organizations, however, beseeched the US military not
    to turn the prisoners over until guarantees were by Iraq that their
    lives would be preserved. Their family members warned that there was a
    danger that the prisoners would be tortured and even executed unless
    the Iraqi government gives clear undertakings preserving them from
    torture and summary execution.
    Ahmad al-Mas`udi, a spokesman for the Sadr Movement, told al-Zaman (the
    Times of Baghdad) that he had proof that prisoners in Iraqi
    penitentiaries are being tortured. He said that for the past three
    years, the families of prisoners who died under torture have been
    filing lawsuits. Prisoners in the Rusafah and Kazimiya facilities have
    gone on a hunger strike to demand an end to the torture to which they
    are subjected by police.”
    End/ (Not Continued)

    Posted By Juan Cole to Informed Comment at 7/09/2009 02:41:00 AM

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry, but I can´t resist quoting a bit more from the hilarious
    Iranian “Mega-Embassy-in-Nicaragua” story i linked to above
    (from the Washington Post). It´s weird, funny, and quite telling
    as a piece of Western propaganda. It could have been a perfect
    background setting for an entertaining Graham Green novel
    from the early 1960`s:
    “Bayardo Arce, a senior economic adviser to Nicaraguan
    President Daniel Ortega, likened the elusive “mega-embassy” to
    the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “It doesn’t
    exist. They deceived the secretary of state,” Arce said. “We don’t
    have an Iranian mega-embassy. We have an ambassador in a
    rented house with his wife.”

    “In a country that President Ronald Reagan once famously said
    was just a 48-hour drive from Brownsville, Tex., even
    opponents of the Sandinista government are irritated by the
    report.

    “Who told Hillary that? Someone misinformed her,” said
    Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, a leader of the opposition
    Constitutionalist Liberal Party and head of a legislative foreign
    affairs committee. “I never cease to be astonished that a country
    with such intelligence-gathering capacities could fall for such a
    canard. What now? Is Obama going to start talking about the
    Axis of Evil?”

    The Iranian reappearance in Latin America has drawn concern
    from U.S. officials, who say Iran is involved in and supporting
    international terrorism, backing violent opposition to the Middle
    East peace process and possibly developing nuclear weapons.
    “The Iranian presence here, as elsewhere, is a concern to us,” a
    U.S. official in Managua said. “So, naturally, we pay attention to
    what they’re doing. But although they are here, we haven’t seen
    a lot of activity on their part.”
    “Analysts say Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has
    encouraged Iran’s Latin American expansion. Iran has signed
    scores of economic and political accords with Chávez’s populist
    government, and the Islamic republic has invested in factories in
    Venezuela producing tractors, bicycles and “ant-imperialist”
    cars.”
    “U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. told
    Reuters last year that U.S. officials “worried that in the event of a
    conflict with Iran, that it would attempt to use its presence in
    the region to conduct such activities against us.”

    Last month, Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) even told reporters in a
    call organized by the Israel Project that “the growing influence of
    Iran in the Western Hemisphere reminds me of the relationship
    between Russia and Cuba when we dealt with the Cuban missile
    crisis.”
    It is not clear where the report of the embassy in Managua
    began. But in the past two years, it has made its way into
    congressional testimony, think tank reports, press accounts, and
    diplomatic events in the United States and elsewhere.
    “Iran recently established a huge embassy in Managua,” Nancy
    Menges of the Center for Security Policy told a House committee
    last year. “Iran’s embassy in Managua is now the largest
    diplomatic mission in the city,” wrote Michael Rubin of the
    American Enterprise Institute.
    State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said that Clinton
    heard about the embassy during a recent meeting in the region.
    “If it turns out this is not happening, that’s good news,” he
    said.”

    Reply

  7. nicky says:

    air jordan
    Air jordan XVII

    Reply

  8. TonyForesta@hotmail.com says:

    Most discourse above links back to my original assertions, that (a) Iran’s nuclear weapons programs (if it exists – and we don’t really know for certain because of the incompetence of US socalled intelligence apparatti which are insanely misfocused on supertechnology, and woefully lacking in humint capabilities) are deterent in nature – and who can blame Iran given the last eight years of Amerikan predation, imperialism, adventurism, lawlessness, ruthless slaughter of innocents, systemic deception, marauding of soveriegn nations resources, and wanton warmaking and profiteering from warmaking, – not to mention cowtowing to Zionist elements of Israel, – and (b) there is really very little the US or any Western nations or Israel can do to prevent the development of Iranian nuclear weapons if in fact they do exist – because of the cost/benefit realities of a global economic catastrophe should Iran cut off oil supplies, or mine the Gulf of Hurmoz, order their Shia’ massmurders to go massmurdering willy nilly anywhere and everywhere on earth.
    In the end, it truly is and always will be “…all about the oil.”
    Better to plan for managing a nuclear armed Iran, and negotiate favorable terms that benefit the majority of American people, – and NOT the Amerikan oil, energy, military, and finance oligarchs and the predatorclass swindlers, thieves, and criminals who own and profit from those oligarchs.
    Of course Amerika is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the predatorclass, so we could very well be doomed. Amerika is trillion of dollars in debt. The interest payment on that monsterous debt is the 3rd largest government outlay ($500bn a year++) and soon to supercede Medicare/Medicaid, and defense as the largest US government expenditure – and that my fellow American is ONLY THE INTEREST ON OUR MONSTEROUS DEBT!!!!! There are three ways out of this economic horrorshow.
    Default and Amerika rapidly devolving into 3rd world banana republic.
    A great culling, wherein massive populations of human being are simply eliminated by bugs, chem, nukes, or whoknowswhat.
    Or a great big costly bloody neverendingwar and the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, ashes ashes, all fall down.
    Anyway you look at it – Amerika is doomed, and we deserve whatever fiery pit and hell our leaders hurl us into, because we have allowed fascists commandeer our government, PONZI scheme charlatans, thieves, swindlers repbrobates, psychopaths, and heartless greedmongering criminals to commandeer our finance sector and hense our economy, and succumbed to the numbnoneness of reality series falsely representing fake realities – and sensationalism fraudulently disguised and journalism, – and the twisted glorification carnival freaks, jackass idiots, and WWE comicbook charactors as heroes – in short Amerika has devolved into the great satan and deserves all the losses, pain and grievous suffering we certain to endure “going forward.
    Obama promised to give voice to the voiceless and gave us a moment of hope. But all those promises are hollow and moot, and all that hope has been shattered by the harsh reality that Obama’s policys are no different from Bush’s, and Obama like Bush is captured, as in owned lock, stock, and barrel by the swindlers, thieves, psychopaths, pathological liars, and criminals in the predatorclass.
    Let the games begin!!!

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Much Ado About Nothing?
    from the Washington Post today:
    “Iran’s Invisible Nicaragua Embassy
    Feared Stronghold Never Materialized
    By Anne-Marie O’Connor and Mary Beth Sheridan
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Monday, July 13, 2009
    MANAGUA, Nicaragua — For months, the reports percolated in Washington and other capitals. Iran was
    constructing a major beachhead in Nicaragua as part of a diplomatic push into Latin America, featuring huge
    investment deals, new embassies and even TV programming from the Islamic republic.
    “The Iranians are building a huge embassy in Managua,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned in
    May. “And you can only imagine what that’s for.”
    But here in Nicaragua, no one can find any super-embassy.
    Nicaraguan reporters scoured the sprawling tropical city in search of the embassy construction site. Nothing.
    Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce chief Ernesto Porta laughed and said: “It doesn’t exist.” Government
    officials say the U.S. Embassy complex is the only “mega-embassy” in Managua. A U.S. diplomat in Managua
    conceded: “There is no huge Iranian Embassy being built as far as we can tell.”
    The mysterious, unseen giant embassy underscores how Iran’s expansion into Latin America may be less
    substantive than some in Washington fear.
    Iran’s proposed investments in Nicaragua — for a deep-water port, hydroelectric plants and a tractor factory –
    – have also failed to materialize, Nicaraguan officials say. At a time when Iran’s oil revenue is falling, the same
    is true of many projects planned for Latin America, according to analysts.”
    continues…
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/12/AR2009071202337.html?
    hpid=topnews

    Reply

  10. Franklin says:

    Pahalavan,
    The U.S. helped both Japan and Brazil build light-water nuclear reactors. Presumably Iran could negotiate favorable terms on fuel delivery for the next several decades as a negotiated settlement through other countries including the EU, India, China, Russia, or the U.S.
    If the suppliers failed to honor the terms of the agreement, then they would have stronger basis for engaging in their own enrichment activities. The threat of independent reprocessing by Iran would be a strong incentive in itself for suppliers to honor an agreement.
    In reference to the government officials, I cite my reasons for skepticism. Ahmadinejad has no credibility as an honest dealer in my view. His reassurances have no currency. He is the George W. Bush of Iran.
    John H,
    In reference to concerns about the reliability of suppliers — see above. If one of the suppliers violates the terms of a supply agreement it is conceivable that Iran could receive the fuel from other sources (this would strike me as a reasonable concession to work into a negotiated settlement). If all suppliers were working in collusion to violate the agreement terms, then Iran would have a stronger basis for developing its own independent capacity.
    In reference to the theory that the current administration is simply going through the motions building a case for war — e.g. that this is Iraq redux — I think those claims are baseless. Given that Iran’s oil fields are already in decline — if the basis for the argument is “blood for oil or bust” — it strikes me that there are more plausible targets to fit the bill than Iran with a potential higher return on investment at a much lower cost. I also don’t buy the implicit basis of the argument that all U.S. administration’s are as close to Big Oil as the last one was. Big Oil’s influence in shaping state policy is not uniform across all administrations.
    Concerns about proliferation and concerns about Iranian intentions are sufficient in my mind to explain the path that the Obama admin, the EU, China, Russia, et al have taken on this issue.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Franklin’s comments are somewhat amusing. He laments Iran’s adherence to the terms of the NPT by stating that Iran’s ALLEGED pursuit of nuclear weapons degrades the credibility of the NPT. Yet he refuses to comment on what our own disdain for the terms of the NPT does to its credibility.

    Reply

  12. JohnH says:

    Franklin, you are being willfully obtuse. Why does Iran not want uranium processed by others? It does not take a genius to figure that out. Can you? Obviously not. Well, I’ll tell you. Trade sanctions. By relying on others to supply uranium and enrich it, Iran becomes dependent on the oil looters, who could cut their power supply off without notice or justification.
    I also answered your question on Section E–it has to do with historical loose ends not spelled out in the document you linked to. If I am missing something, maybe you could specify the specific problems that lead YOU and Western politicians to conclude that Iran is currently developing nuclear weapons. As for the IAEA, they have NO EVIDENCE, and they should know:
    http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-04-voa1.cfm
    Now I have answered your question–why don’t you answer my concern that the US is laying false pretenses for another $Trillion war. Doesn’t that bother you? The US already took control of Iraq, the country with the world’s third largest oil reserves. Why not Iran, with the world’s second? Come on, Franklin, you know very well that there is more at stake here that the nuclear weapons program, for which there is no evidence. Why not try dealing with something where the evidence is incontestable–the West’s vast unsated addiction to oil and their behaving like the true addicts they are–getting their addiction satisfied no matter what the cost.

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    and in other news… or is it a race to the bottom on who gets to be the most unethical, immoral culture/country at present?
    Obama orders review of alleged slayings of Taliban in Bush era..
    …The inquiry stems from the deaths of at least 1,000 Taliban prisoners who had surrendered to the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001…
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/12/obama.afghan.killings/

    Reply

  14. David says:

    Who is justified in having deliverable nuclear weapons? They simply exist at this point, constitute to a threat to humankind, and must be systematically reduced to extinction. For the world stage, the US and the Russian Repblic must take the lead, which Obama and Medvedev have indicated they intend to. In the Middle East, the burden is on Pakistan and Israel, and by extension in the region India. For the rest of it on the world stage, China, Britain, France, and screaming and kicking North Korea must follow the lead of the US and the Russian Republic. North Korea was, unfortunately, following the Bush administration’s lead when it decided deliverable nukes were its only national insurance policy. Thanks for absolutely nothing, Team Bush.

    Reply

  15. Pahalavan says:

    Franklin, Having internal enrichment capabilities is important for obvious reasons, and nuclear bombs is far from it. Controlling the fuel cycle is the only way Iran will become self sufficient. Without maintaining independant control of it’s energy production and consumption, they’ll be forced to buy fuel from another nuclear power, (that just about limits them to buying from US or Russia) and thus they’ll constantly remain over the barrell while negotiating for prices, quantity and transcation terms. That basically keeps them under our thumb. We are not under the thumb of oil by force, we are their by choice, and if they don’t sell it to us by our terms we dispatch 300 thousand soliders there and built our largest military installation on their turf without thinking twice about it.
    There is only 86 more years worth of oil left in Iran, yet it’s young population is set to pass over 100 million within a short few years. You say you’ve “heard” the iranian government, but you don’t explain why you don’t care to acknowledge this fact?

    Reply

  16. Franklin says:

    Pahlavan,
    I have heard the Iranian government officials position. They reiterate that the program is for civilian purposes.
    If so, what is their objection to the installation of light-water reactors? Why do they insist on doing the enrichment process on their own? The negotiated settlement would be a boon to the Iranian economy — even if the leaders continued to steer large portions of state revenues into their bank accounts.
    I also understand that while the program was stopped under Khatami, a very different kind of leader took his place in 2005. Given that Ahmadinjad has reversed Khatami in other areas, it stands to reason that the nuclear program might be yet another area of reversal. I think oral statements by Ahmadinejad and others have zero credibility.
    Personally, I am in favor of neither sanctions, nor military action at the present time. I think the U.S. position should be to only initiate low-level discussions with an eye towards forging some kind of compromise in 2010. I also do not believe that a war footing is a path towards sustainable economic growth. It would be a terrible way to pull the economy out of the current deep recession.
    I think our current military budget as it is is over-bloated and could probably be trimmed by a one quarter to one third with no risk to national security. The money could be directed towards more productive uses such as energy independence R&D, fixing the health care system, or for other near-term domestic projects.
    JohnH,
    You are once again dismissing the surmise of the chief IAEA inspector — as well as the finding found in the most recent IAEA report itself (section E). If we should heed the IAEA’s position then we must take it’s claims seriously that it can not make a definitive determination on the weaponization issue. This once again, is the whole purpose of the move towards negotiations.

    Reply

  17. Pahlavan says:

    Franklin, You’ve alreadey formed your opinion and ideology on Iran although the facts you render clearly demonstrate that you’ve yet to hear a full speech from any Iranian government official, let alone pay attention to their response in setting the record straight on mistraslations of words or phrases.
    I invite the audience to note that Iran did in fact stop it’s enrichment during Katamai’s era (the first time around) hoping for security gurantees in return for abondaning it’s enrichment program. Instead they got tired of waiting and finally realized that the US simply had no intentions of ever giving Iran any security guarantees.
    Face it, we are a hawkish nation and we want to reserve the right to attack any time our economy tanks, which is almost always created for the purpose of shifting wealth. Needless to say, if tommorrow the nuclear issues is put to rest, The Pelosi, Feinstein, Reid and AIPAC’s alike will engineer people like you to think the mullah’s turbins distrub world peace so they’ll find another excuse to win the support of people like you to once again threaten Iran.

    Reply

  18. JohnH says:

    No Franklin, my position is NOT that “Iran is justified in having a nuclear weapon.” I believe that the threat is contained by the IAEA inspections regime. And by Iran’s own signing of the NPT treaty and statements that having a nuke is contrary to Islam. So I don’t believe that there will be any particular regional impact from Iran’s nuclear power program, because it will not be converted into an active weapons program anytime soon.
    Does it bother me that the Iranian program could be used eventually to develop nuclear weapons? Yes it does, as much as it worries me that Brazil and Japan have that capability. (Who knows when they might stop being friendly to the US?) But what worries me more is that Israel, India and Pakistan already have nukes and are outside the IAEA inspections regime. It also worries me that the US, China, Russia, France, and UK are violating the terms of the NPT by failing to do much of anything to get rid of their nukes.
    It also bothers me that there is a great deal propaganda and misinformation being generated to demonize Iran and prepare the public for another war. The public campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons programs remains intense, despite reports from those whose job is to know these things that Iran does NOT have a nuclear weapons program.
    So Franklin, instead of worrying about what the Iranians are doing, why not worry about the US’ intentions for another $Trillion war justified once again by false pretenses. Why doesn’t that bother you?

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, Franklin, it is YOU that refuses to consider key points that affect the NPT. As I asked above, how do you think the NPT is affected by our demands that a member of the treaty cease and desist exercising their rights under the terms of the NPT? What countries are going to sign onto a trteaty, or consider such a treat as credible, when adhering to the terms of the treaty still results in threats and demonization from The United States and Israel? You can dream up ethereal “intentions” till hell freezes over, but unless the terms of the treaty mean nothing, we have no right to block ANY signing country from pursuing nuclear energy. And until evidence surfaces that Iran is in violation, our saber rattling and demonization efforts are the actual factor that is undermining the NPT.
    Of course, the fact that Israel is in violation of 62 UN Resolutions doesn’t exactly lend credibility to their moaning and groaning about violations of treaties and international law, does it?

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “The washington note is missing in action on the anti zionist front.”
    What the hell are you whining about samuelburke? Missing in action? You can come to TWN pretty much any day of the week to read a healthy diet of criticism of Israel, Aipac, etc., along with spirited debate on the issues. And TWN produces plenty on timely posts on the Israeli-Palestinian topic when events warrant them. But there are lots of other important countries and foreign policy challenges in this world, including some rather massive economic challenges, and those issues need coverage as well. Steve and his New America friends don’t have to jump at every peep out of the mouths of the Israeli government to prove their bona fides to paranoid obsessives like you. If you want to spend all your time down in the 24/7 antizionist yahoo bunker, that’s your prerogative. But grow up and stop demanding that the rest of the world should live down there with you.
    Now I’m sure you are busy with the tweezers trying to pull those Aipac-installed electrodes out of your ears, the ones that manufacture the Zionist Matrix, so I’ll leave you alone.

    Reply

  21. Franklin says:

    JohnH,
    Your position is then: Iran is justified in having a nuclear weapon. It does not bother you, because you think the basis for deterrence is sufficient. You also assume that the weapon would never be used for offensive purposes.
    You don’t engage the question about the impact for proliferation in the region, or the impact on the future of the NPT — presumably because you do not think these are questions that merit consideration.
    That’s OK. At least we have established some agreement on the fact that there is a reasonable probability that Iran intends to develop a nuclear weapons capacity (or at a minimum that we can not rule out this outcome). I think this is the right understanding at this stage.
    I take this understanding one step further: Even if the weapon is developed purely as a deterrent, or for purposes of national prestige, it is likely to undermine the NPT and trigger proliferation in the Middle East. This is one reason why Iran should be encouraged to pursue nuclear energy only for civilian use (in line with its treaty commitments).
    I can understand why regional players, the U.S., and the E.U. — and perhaps even Russia and China — would be concerned about an outcome that results in further proliferation.
    This reasoning may not be a sufficient basis for concern for you. That’s fine, but I’m glad that the current political leadership in the U.S., the E.U., Russia, and China — as well as Israel, and Arab states — are taking these considerations seriously. I believe concerns about further proliferation are well-founded.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    For weeks now our Secretary of State has been derailing the prospect for constructive engagement with Iran, declaring that “more stringent” sanctions are required, basically declaring that diplomatic engagement is a waste of time. Obama now seems to be taking the same “diplomatic” road. Such pre-meeting rhetoric is self defeating, and certainly telegraphs an insincerity in regards to any true intention towards constructive diplomatic engagement with Iran. You don’t go into successful talks by publically predicting failure.
    Obama is a posturing fraud, whose rhetoric rarely resembles his actions. And any sincerity on his part when he expresses a desire to change the dynamic in the Middle East is countered by these pieces of shit in Congress, like Reid, who is apparently bought and paid for by the leadership in Israel through their agents here in the US, namely AIPAC.

    Reply

  23. Franklin says:

    David,
    I agree with you in reference to the regime change policy.
    The Obama admin has stated that it does not support the Bush admins approach — the funding for various groups has also been put on hold in Congress for this year.
    The Obama admin has also dropped the pre-conditions equation from negotiations (e.g. that the uranium enrichment process must be stopped in advance of any discussions).
    As far as the purpose of negotiations go; it depends. If the idea is to dictate terms, then the whole process is more about PR than about a document that has any chance of lasting. On the other hand, a document may be ripe with concessions; however, one of the party’s to the agreement may have entered the negotiations in bad faith (see: North Korea).
    For obvious reasons I don’t think this is a good time for the U.S./E.U. and Iran to engage in high-level discussions. Odds are the concessions at this stage would be throwing the hardliners a life-line; and as soon as the hardliners re-establish their position they would violate any agreement that came as a result of the negotiations. Better to let the situation in Iran simmer for a while.

    Reply

  24. David says:

    What is that basic principle of international negotiations, one must negotiate from a position of strength? Otherwise one enters the negotiations just to be told what to do. At least at the public level, the US is trapped in the stupidest of postures, with the stupidest of public rhetoric, if the goal is actual negotiations that are mutually constructive. And continued congressional funding for regime change in Iran only guarantees that the current Iranian regime will need to continue to seek nuclear weapons, unless they decide to use abandoning same as a bargaining chip, but then why should they trust the US or Europe, especially given Israel’s influence on US and EU Middle East policies? The current regime in Iran sucks, but then so does apparent US Middle East policy at the moment.
    John Bolton should never even have been appointed to any position in government, ever, nor should anyone who shares his nihilistic foreign policy/anti-UN pathological antipathy.
    Behind the scenes, Obama had better be working his ass off to remain true to his foreign policy positions during the campaign. They were smart, as is refusing to meddle internally in Iran, if that is indeed the current reality re US policy. Use the funds allocated for regime change in Iran for domestic American job creation, especially for infrastructure needs, or for humanitarian relief for Gaza (now there’s an intelligent policy coup if we would do it, but then we are the US and this is the Middle East and Jimmy Carter has been marginalized, so fat chance).

    Reply

  25. samuelburke says:

    Mearsheimer: Walt and I welcome a debate on the lobby with the director of the American Jewish Comittee
    http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/07/july-9-2009—-phil-there-is-not-going-to-be-a-debate-between-me-and-david-harris-as-you-know-he-previously-said-that-he.html
    On March 12, John Mearsheimer went on Philadelphia talk radio to discuss the Israel lobby, as reported here at the time. David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, was on next, and host Dom Giordano asked Mearsheimer to stay and have it out with Harris. Mearsheimer declined, saying that he had “to fly.” Since then Harris has said that Mearsheimer ducked a debate and has challenged him to “an open debate in a mutually agreed-upon public forum.” I emailed Mearsheimer to ask why he had declined to stick around for Harris. He writes:

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  26. JohnH says:

    Franklin, if the IAEA were seriously concerned about Iranian diversion of nuclear materials, it would have made front page headlines for months. It would also have prompted a military response by now. The fact that IAEA has made no such charges speaks volumes about their confidence in their inspections and about the weakness of your imaginings.
    Yes, the IAEA would like to dot some “i’s” and cross some “t’s”, mainly in the historical record. But fact is, these outstanding issues have not been important enough to make the IAEA alert the world about the Iranian program.
    POA makes a great point. Why would Iran want to reserve the capability to develop nukes as deterrence? How could they possibly feel threatened? I mean, its’ not like anybody has aircraft carrier battle groups stationed off their shores, is there? And there’s nobody spending hundreds of $million to effect regime change, is there? And there is nothing of value in Iran, is there?
    And why would the US be so opposed to a legal nuclear power program? Is the US afraid that such capabilities make hypothetically be used to impinge upon the US’ God given right to invade and occupy the place?

    Reply

  27. samuelburke says:

    the washington note is missing in action on the anti zionist front, why? Israel disses obama…our foreign policy is strongarmed by a zionist agenda which puts israels security interest before those of the u.s.a and what do we get…the iranian intervention. The more fronts that are opened up against this alien interest presently trying to exert its force on obamas foreign policy the better for this Great Nation..the u.s.of a.
    the forces of zionism are to be feared…we get it.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, I wonder why Iran “is reserving the military option”. I mean its not like they feel threatened, is it?
    They’d be crazy not to want nukes, considering recent and ongoing military actions of both the US and Israel, to say nothing of the ever escalating threatening political rhetoric.
    But wanting nukes for their game leveling function, or wanting them to attack Israel or the US is two totally different scenarios. One makes sense, the other is an effin’ fairy tale, like we were sold about Iraq.
    Remove all the bullshit, and it must be admitted that Israel is FAR FAR FAR more aggressive militarily than Iran has been. And the military policies of the US speak for themselves, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians a clear indication of our willingness to invade soveriegn nations that pose no threat.
    Israel is a far greater impediment to peace in the Middle East than any Arab nation is. Iran acquiring nukes just might be the most constructive thing that could happen. Perhaps then the racist Israeli leadership will actually stop incinerating Muslims.
    And Franklin, what good is the NPT if WE can’t even adhere to it? Our attempt to stop Iran from refining energy grade uranium is a direct violation of the treaty, is it not? Who is going to sign on to a treaty that Israel ignores, and the United States punishes you whether you adhere to the terms or not?
    Frankly, it is Isreal that has shown wanton disregard for human life through its use of cluster munitions and white phosphorous. If anyone is crazy enough to throw nukes around in the ME, its these racists running the show in Israel.

    Reply

  29. Franklin says:

    “The inspections regime is designed to detect diversion of nuclear materials for use in weapons. If that were happening now, the IAEA would know and would have alerted the world.”
    As highlighted in Section E the IAEA is not able to resolve all questions regarding military use under the current inspections regime, so your certainty about what the IAEA being able to detect is at best qualified at this stage.
    As far as nuclear proliferation is concerned, I think it is something that merits concern, and, no I don’t think all states can be trusted to the same degree to use the military capacity wisely.
    If Iran develops a military capacity it would be the second NPT signatory to violate the treaty — it would have profoundly negative consequences for the future of the NPT. That’s part of what is at stake here. Israel, India, and Pakistan were not signatories to the NPT. Iran is; and North Korea once was.

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  30. JohnH says:

    Franklin, I’m not rejecting this evidence. What you are talking about is an eventual, possible, hypothetical situation. The inspections regime is designed to detect diversion of nuclear materials for use in weapons. If that were happening now, the IAEA would know and would have alerted the world. Once that happens–and the IAEA is kicked out–then there will be cause for concern.
    Yes, Iran is reserving the military option, as are all nations with nuclear power industries (Japan, Brazil, Canada, etc.) that do not currently have weapons.
    You have chosen to single out the Iranian program–which is entirely legal–and hype its hypothetical dangers.
    Why not hype the dangers of the uninspected, unaccountable Israeli program? It is much more likely to represent a clear and present danger to world peace.

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  31. Franklin says:

    JohnH,
    What does the IAEA’s OWN work find from June 2009?
    Read: “Section E. Possible Military Dimension”.
    “there remain a number of outstanding issues which give rise to concerns, and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of a possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
    http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2009/gov2009-35.pdf
    If the IAEA was able to resolve these questions independently, we would not be having this discussion.
    Once again, what did the outgoing director general of the IAEA say this year:
    “It is my gut feeling that Iran would like to have the technology to enable it to have nuclear weapons, if it decides to do so,” said, Mr ElBaradei, director general of the IAEA.
    The EU has offered to assist Iran in the construction of a light-water reactor as part of a negotiated settlement. In other words, under the negotiated settlement the military use side of the equation becomes moot; Iran gets civilian nuclear power as per the NPT and it does so at a lower cost than the alternative. However, Iran continues to do its own enrichment processing.
    The evidence suggests that at an absolute minimum Iran is reserving the military option.
    You may reject this evidence simply because you don’t like where it might lead. World leaders don’t have this luxury.

    Reply

  32. JohnH says:

    Franklin said, “Compliance only can be assessed if there are independent monitors with open access to various facilities.”
    Franklin, that is exactly what the IAEA does! They inspect! Like I said, enough of the propaganda already.
    When you assert that they don’t have access, you must be thinking of Israel…

    Reply

  33. Mr.Murder says:

    If MLK Jr. were alive today he’d demand we stop these wars, but even if those were not issue he’d still demand the political recognition of Palestenians as a legitmate human rights issue.

    Reply

  34. David says:

    Dammit, Obama has to try to walk a line between smart foreign policy and Israel’s over-the-edge view of Iran, and unfortunately, wisdom too often has to play second fiddle to various domestic pressures, mostly in my experience from the right, both Republicans and old-school conservative Democrats, especially the old-school anti-communist, usually pro-apartheid Southern Democrats. But that kind of unwise, simple-mindedly pro-American, anti-some -ism mindset still prevails, and is one of the most debilitating aspects of the public discourse and various pressures in Washington. Sad, truly sad.
    Hope Obama has the smarts and the backbone to stand against it in the final analysis, but hope ain’t a strategy, so I guess I might be screwed.

    Reply

  35. Franklin says:

    JohnH,
    I’m familiar with the NIH assessment that Iran pursued nukes, but then decided to discontinue the program in 2003-2004.
    I’m also familiar with outgoing IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei’s comments this year that:
    “It is my gut feeling that Iran would like to have the technology to enable it to have nuclear weapons, if it decides to do so,” Mr ElBaradei, director general of the IAEA, told the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8104388.stm
    Compliance only can be assessed if there are independent monitors with open access to various facilities. That is the whole purpose of the current negotiations process.

    Reply

  36. JohnH says:

    Franklin, Franklin, Franklin, where do you get your information?–“in reference to the development of nuclear weapons, it is an open question whether they are simply being developed for defensive purposes, or whether they are being developed with the intention to be used.”
    You are making rash assertions unsupported by the people whose business it is to know such things– the IAEA and the US intelligence community. You may recall that the US intelligence community issued a CONSENSUS opinion issued in an NIA, which said that Iran had abandoned its nuke program. Furthermore, Iran is a signatory to the NPT and has formally agreed not to seek a nuke. (Israel is not a signatory and has made no such agreement.)
    Enough already with the propaganda!

    Reply

  37. Franklin says:

    TonyForesta,
    In reference to the development of nuclear weapons, it is an open question whether they are simply being developed for defensive purposes, or whether they are being developed with the intention to be used.
    This is an open question, much like the issue of whether the hardline regime intends to develop a weapons capability in the first place.
    The CIA aside, the outgoing IAEA chief would not rule out the weapons capacity; the incoming chief believes, on the other hand, that it is unlikely that Iran is pursuing the capability.
    My own speculative view is that the hardline regime is likely pursuing a weapons capability and that it will probably not develop the weapon with the intention to use it — the development would likely be based on deterrent capabilities, and based on the prestige that it believes would accrue with the capability (a belief that is likely misplaced — nuclearization hasn’t accrued benefits to N. Korea, for example).
    It is less ambiguous what the impact of an Iranian nuclear weapon would have in terms of proliferation within the region. The Saudis for example would have greater incentive to develop their own nuclear weapon capability.
    As far as what can be done, in an extreme situation an Iranian nuclear program could be set back years at a high cost in terms of lives and expense to all involved parties. The idea that nothing can be done is not true — something could be done in terms of economic pressure and a military response — albeit at extremely high cost. An air raid by Israel or some combination of powers would likely be insufficient to the task. If there is a fear that the nuclear weapon would be used, the costs in preventing that outcome would outweigh any costs associated with allowing the development to take place and then hoping for the best.

    Reply

  38. Sand says:

    –Netanyahu aide: No Golan pullout for peace
    MATTI FRIEDMAN AP News Jul 10, 2009
    Top adviser to Netanyahu [ARAD]: Israel will not leave entire Golan even in peace deal
    Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel would not cede the Golan to Syria.
    “…Israel needs to retain part of the Golan for strategic, military and settlement reasons.
    For water, landscape and wine,” said Arad.
    He nonetheless called on the Syrians to resume peace talks with Israel with no preconditions but “with each side aware of the other’s position.”
    Like the contacts with Syria, talks between Israel and the Palestinians have also been frozen since Netanyahu came to power.
    Under U.S. pressure, Netanyahu has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, while attaching conditions the Palestinians reject. But in the Haaretz interview, Arad took a dim view of the Palestinian leadership, saying he saw not a government but a “disorderly constellation of forces and factions.”
    There “could be worse” leaders than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Arad said. “But even with him I don’t see a real interest and desire to arrive at the end of the conflict with Israel. On the contrary, he is preserving eternal claims against us and inflaming them,” he said…”
    http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/07/10/netanyahu-aide-no-golan-pullout-for-peace-2/

    Reply

  39. TonyForesta says:

    US intelligence has not been correct, or actually succeeded in accurately predicting or stifling any event, or or movement, activity, or operation since WWII. US intelligence does a great job spying on college students opposing the fascists RNC, and taking down politicians who threaten the predatorclass deepstate domination of the government, but they (all US intelligence appratii) are WOEFULL CATASTROPHIC FAILURES at analyzing, predicting and thwarting threats. I do not believe ONE WORD bruted by US intelligence. In fact, history proves without a shadow of doubt the US intelligence is an oxymoron.
    That said – if Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons, those programs are deterrent not offensive and intended to prevent Israel or America from conducting preemptive unilateral regime change.
    Second, if in fact Iran is developing nuclear weapons, – there is NOTHING – NOTHING – NOTHING the US, Israel, or the G8 can do to stop it. NOTHING. Despite all the pimping of green shoots, and stabilization of the financial system, the world is one catastrophe or major default away from round two of the Supergreat depression of 2009.
    There is no way to wipe out Iran’s nuclear capabilities in a single shot, or even in a series of attacks. Our intelligence (incompetent politically motivated fools and idiots delirious with technological assets and woefully incapable of basic humint applications) cannot accurately target all of Iran nuclear weapons facilities.
    The reprecussions of an attack on Iran by any Western state would be devastating and global militarily, and economically.
    Any basic cost benefit analysis proves attacking Iran is a non’-starter, so – after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, and all blather and chari vari, and all the hollow impotent threats – there is very little the US, Israel or any G8 nation can do to stop Iran’s weapons programs, or the ruthless oppression Iranian people by the mullahs.
    Our only options are negotiations and cutting deals, and managing the reality of an nuclear armed Iran. Personally, I think an nuclear armed Iran is a good hedge against the duplicitous American hating wahabi fiends and shaitans in Saudi Arabia who are sworn arch enemies NOT FRIENDS of America.
    America’s power is waning militarily, politically, and economically. Face this hard reality and moveon. Our political leadership should be focused on restoring democracy, the rule law, and stability to America and getting poor and middle class Americans back to work.
    Quit dictating to other nations, who are no more and no less evil, or threaten, or focused on warmaking, or undemocratic, or lawless than America.
    Glass houses and all…..

    Reply

  40. Sand says:

    Iran to offer West ‘new package’
    BBC Saturday, 11 July 2009
    Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr is close to going online Iran’s government says it is preparing a new package of proposals to put to the West.
    Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it would concern “political, security and international issues”.
    He was speaking in Tehran hours after G8 leaders said they were appalled at Iran’s disputed presidential election.

    “We are going to present our package which will be a basis to negotiate all regional and international issues,” he told a news conference in Tehran, without giving further details.
    “The package can be a good basis for talks with the West.”
    The US has threatened tough sanctions if Iran rejects offers of engagement over its nuclear programme.
    Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but has been accused by Western countries of seeking nuclear weapons.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8145809.stm

    Reply

  41. ... says:

    amir, that kind of info is buried regularly by big biz media…if it doesn’t align with war in iraq or iran, or painting certain leaders out to be the next satan, then how will it help sell war??? this article does just the opposite, so it will get no publicity… can you imagine wigwag or questions touching it with a 10 foot pole? i’m cynical…

    Reply

  42. Franklin says:

    Great discovery Amir.
    The open question is whether they did the action on their own initiative to curry favor with the Supreme Leader; whether they took the public position on the matter at Khamenei’s instruction; or whether it was a collaborative decision. Still an interesting piece of historical background.

    Reply

  43. JohnH says:

    Dan Kervick: but we are being led to believe that the nuclear issue is the key to the dispute with Iran. What if the nuclear issue is a false pretense? Do the other, unsensationalized issues really explain US hostility? Or is there a paramount issue–like control of Iranian energy assets–that is lurking behind the media glare? That was the case with Iraq, which has the world’s third largest oil reserves. Why wouldn’t it also be the case with Iran, which has the world’s second largest. We saw that the corrupt corporate media and foreign policy mob were obsessive in their silence about the roots of the Iraq conflict. Why wouldn’t the same be true for Iran?
    Whether they go with the West or with Ahmadinejad, the noble protesters in Iran are screwed. Obviously, the West would like to exploit the situation to its best advantage, chew up and spit out the protesters.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    JohnH:
    “Actually, any need to do a deal should be moot. By signing the NPT and agreeing to IAEA inspections, Iran has already agreed not to make a nuke. So what’s to negotiate?”
    About a dozen other outstanding issues and opportunities for engagement between the US and Iran.

    Reply

  45. amir says:

    Do you know who was behind the shut downing of Salam?
    You don’t believe, but Ahmadinejad was the person who complaint against the newspaper and shut-downed it, although He was not a famous person at the time
    see the below link for a photo:
    http://fromtheearth.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/who-was-behind-the-18-tir9th-of-july-events-in-iran/

    Reply

  46. Zathras says:

    I don’t know how many Washington Note readers are interested in the point of Jon Weinberg’s post, but I’ll say briefly that point seems true but incomplete.
    All it took for news coverage of events inside Iran to evaporate from Western media was for Michael Jackson to die, first of all. Even before that, the Iranian government quite effectively stifled hard news about what was going on inside the country after June 12; all the new social networking and other communications technology allowed to seep out were images and impressions.
    We should also remember that governments with sufficient resources of force and ruthlessness are able to quash protest movements more often than not. The Iranian government certainly has ample resources of both. No doubt it has made a serious unforced error, permanently alienating a substantial part of the Iranian public — including many who had not questioned the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic until about a month ago. The consequences of that error could include some changes in the behavior of the Tehran regime, but fundamental change in the nature of that regime could be many years away.

    Reply

  47. Mr.Murder says:

    We’ve really got room to tell other people how to run a “Democracy” in light of such news:
    ‘Former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made a terse reference to other classified programs in an August 2007 letter to Congress. But Harman said that when she had asked Gonzales two years earlier if the government was conducting any other undisclosed intelligence activities, he denied it.
    “He looked me in the eye and said ‘no,'” she said Friday.
    Robert Bork Jr., Gonzales’ spokesman, said, “It has clearly been determined that he did not intend to mislead anyone.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090711/ap_on_go_co/us_domestic_surveillance
    Bork? A Bork shouldn’t be anywhere near a court of law. The Republicans are anathema to process, the scoundrels existence as part of the Executive cabinet is a scourge to the notion of democractic society. Nixon’s rulebreakers returned and gang raped our Constitution.
    Really, save your schadenfreude over Iran.

    Reply

  48. kotzabasis says:

    As I had predicted prior to the election of Obama, Americans had picked a lemon for president. Both on the issues of the post-election turmoil in Iran and the START Follow-on Treaty in Moscow, Obama chose to take a weak position to ‘save’ his new diplomacy, as I foreshadowed he would do in a paper of mine, which if you wish you can read at: http://kotzabasis3.wordpress.com
    In the case of Iran, astonishingly, neither Obama nor any of his senior advisers were able to foresee the great potential for regime change that the revolt of the educated modernist forces of Iran were and are fuelling in the near future, especially if the U.S. and its allies were taking a stronger stand against the Mullahcracy and Ahmadinejad. Obama however chose to take the position of least resistance, not to “meddle” only to be accused later, as expected, by the regime of meddling.
    In his negotiations with Russia, for the sake of an inutile unrealizable ABSTRACT GOAL of nuclear disarmament he sacrificed by putting in limbo the CONCTRETE GOAL of missile defence of its European allies, in which technically the U.S. holds indubitable superiority.
    But the great danger lies that by the time the lemon is squeezed dry America’s vital interests will be sacrificed on the altar of an erroneous and false diplomacy.

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  49. JohnH says:

    “Whatever, dude, we promise not to build any nuclear weapons. Now let’s make a deal.”
    Actually, any need to do a deal should be moot. By signing the NPT and agreeing to IAEA inspections, Iran has already agreed not to make a nuke. So what’s to negotiate? Does anyone seriously believe that a country can have a nuke program surreptitiously under the intrusive nose of the IAEA? If so, there could be dozens of NPT signatories developing nukes as we speak…
    My friends, nukes are not the issue. Nukes are a red herring that resonate with the fears of the Western mind. The real issues lie elsewhere (think Iraq: http://www.truthout.org/070309J ).

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    “If Iran doesn’t want and nuke and the G8 doesn’t want a nuke, why don’t they all sit down and negotiate? Why has the US refused to sit with Iran, instead delegating the negotiations to the Europeans? Methinks the US wants to keep the faux nuke issue on the table for its propaganda benefits. Otherwise, why do they refuse to negotiate unconditionally?”
    It is my understanding that the Obama Administration has offered to negotiate unconditionally with the Iranians (and not just through the Europeans who now have a worse relationship with Iran than the United States does.) Even though many commentators who once favored engagement like Andrew Sullivan and Roger Cohen, now favor putting of engagement for the forseeable future; my understanding is that Obama has rejected that advice and wants negotiations to start soon.
    If I’m wrong; please advise.

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  51. Dan Kervick says:

    Of course, I don’t know what the state of US intelligence is on the whole Iranian nuke issue. But assuming that it’s not that much different from what it was a year ago, and not much different from what the IAEA recently reaffirmed, then it could be that all this tough talk on the intolerability of Iranian nuclear weapons is just a way of taking advantage of a low-cost diplomatic bargain. It’s like Obama saying, “Neither the United States government nor the international community will tolerate genetically engineered, amphibious North Korean fish men! No fish men! Not on my watch.” Since there are no actual fish men in the scientific pipeline, this kind of statement is more or less a freebie. The President gets to talk tough, knowing that it is highly unlikely he will ever be put in a position anytime soon to have to put his money where his mouth is.
    The tough talk also gives the White House more space to make a deal later, without losing face and being accused by hawks of selling the store. All Iran has to say at an opportune time is, “Whatever, dude, we promise not to build any nuclear weapons. Now let’s make a deal.” The White House can then portray this as some big concession and gesture of Iranian submission to Obama-power.
    It’s not surprising that the US feels the political need to ratchet up the rhetoric following the Iranian election episode. But there is some evidence that in the non-verbal department, the US is continuing to make moves toward an opening to Iran, and has taken advantage of the diplomatic and clandestine wrangling between Europe and Iran to leapfrog over the Europeans into the leadership space on the Iran relationship. Meanwhile the Bush-era attempts to institutionalize a Sunni-Shia Cold War continue to fizzle:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KG11Ak03.html

    Reply

  52. JohnH says:

    If Iran doesn’t want and nuke and the G8 doesn’t want a nuke, why don’t they all sit down and negotiate? Why has the US refused to sit with Iran, instead delegating the negotiations to the Europeans? Methinks the US wants to keep the faux nuke issue on the table for its propaganda benefits. Otherwise, why do they refuse to negotiate unconditionally?

    Reply

  53. Outraged American says:

    Yeah, and when I attended college there were quotas in the
    Univ.of CA system that discriminated against Americans of Asian
    descent.
    Wig, I know you’re like, 89, and your eyes are failing, but GET
    OVER IT.
    Jews have been persecuted and many were killed, BUT OTHER
    RACES, RELIGIONS AND JUST PLAIN PEOPLE STANDING ON
    STREET CORNERS WERE KILLED EN MASSE AS WELL IN THE LAST
    CENTURY.
    Israel is threatening Iran. Iran is not a threat to the U.S.
    By threatening Iran, and using the bought and sold whores in
    “our” US government and media to force an attack on Iran, Israel
    is threatening us. The U.S. — that’s what I mean by US.
    It’s just that simple.

    Reply

  54. ... says:

    it might take a few thousand years, especially with hypocritical people supporting hypocritical regimes, but people will hopefully stop supporting hypocrisy… the ‘do as i say, but not as i do’ crowd are quite a hypocritical lot… a few here seem quite okay with that too…

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    JohnH says,
    “It would appear that the AP article is a non-story. The G-8 doesn’t want Iran to have a nuke, and Iran has said that it doesn’t want one either. What’s the story here?”
    I can’t comment on the accuracy of the story but I guess the take home message here is Obama’s announcement that neither he nor the rest of the world will tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon. The element that is particularly noteworthy is that Russia, which has been more reluctant than most to criticize putative Iranian nuclear ambitions, went along with the G-8 statement.
    If Iran doesn’t seek to obtain nuclear weapons I assume that there’s no problem. But it seems like all the members of the G-8 and a substantial number of the G-20 nations think Iran does want a nuclear weapon. At the very least; they are highly suspicious of Iran.
    They seem to be putting Iran on notice that despite what it has said, if indeed it does have aspirations to obtain nuclear weapons, then the larger nations in the world will be acting in concert to see that those ambitions are stifled.
    The story also points to Iran’s increasing isolation. If Obama has succeeded in getting Russia to acquiesce to ratcheting up the heat on Iran(which he obviously has) then Iran has one less nation it can count on to take its side.

    Reply

  56. JohnH says:

    It would appear that the AP article is a non-story. The G-8 doesn’t want Iran to have a nuke, and Iran has said that it doesn’t want one either. What’s the story here?
    Or is the Iranian nuke meme just being repeated ad nauseum to justify something else–like a repeat of the Iraqi venture?

    Reply

  57. WigWag says:

    Speaking of Iran; here’s what Obama had to say today about putative Iraninan nukes
    Last update – 17:44 10/07/2009
    Obama: World won’t allow Iran to develop nukes
    By The Associated Press
    US President Barack Obama said Friday the world would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, a day after a senior Iranian official vowed his country would not back down “even one step” over its nuclear work.
    “We’re not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the development of a nuclear weapon… and wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse situation and unable to act,” Obama said at the close of the G8 summit concluded in Italy.
    The president stressed that he and others were not looking for their summit partners to embrace sanctions at this week’s meeting…
    Instead, he said, “What we wanted was exactly what we got – a statement of condemnation about Iran’s actions in the wake of its disputed presidential election…”
    Obama said Friday that G8 leaders voiced their concern about what he called the appalling events surrounding the recent elections and the violence that followed.
    “The leaders assembled at L’Aquila also addressed the threat of nuclear proliferation in Iran,” he said, “with a strong statement calling on Iran to
    fulfill its responsibilities without delay.”
    “I think the real story here was consensus in that [G8] statement, including Russia, which doesn’t make statements like that lightly,” he said. “Now the other story there was the agreement that we will reevaluate Iran’s posture towards negotiating the cessation of a nuclear weapons policy…”
    “We’ll evaluate that at the G20 meeting in September,” Obama said. “I think that what that does is, it provides a time frame. The international community has said, ‘Here’a door you can walk thorugh that allows you to lessen tensions and more fully join the international community…”
    He added: “If Iran chooses not to walk through that door, then you have on record the G8 to begin with and, I think, potentially a lot of other countries.”
    Obama said his hope is that the Iranian leadership will recognize that world opinion is clear.”

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  58. Outraged American says:

    I’m completely sympathetic to Neda, but the hysteria
    surrounding her death is yet another excuse for the long held
    plans of UsRael to “liberate” Iran by killing as many Iranians as
    possible.
    I’m extremely suspicious of this website (despite that I think that
    Steve is a very fair person) and the Huffington Posts’ seeming
    attempts to make a heroine out of Neda, when she wasn’t even
    trying to be a heroine herself, and when there are so many other
    Nedas around the world killed each day, many with my tax
    dollars.
    We should try to highlight deaths such as Neda’s very tragic one
    to put the public spotlight on oppressive regimes, but we should
    not use it to intervene in Iran or any other country. Because,
    while death is the ultimate liberation, almost every Neda would
    want to chose to live, I would guess.
    We nattered on about bringing “democracy” to Iraq, something
    that we don’t have here ourselves, and ended up killing more
    than 1 out of 25 Iraqis.
    Let’s give our sympathy and our best wishes to the Iranians, but
    let’s not let the neocons win by doing exactly what they want by
    attacking Iran under the guise of caring about a very nice young
    woman named Neda.
    Kuwait incubator babies — no more wars based on sob stories.

    Reply

  59. WigWag says:

    This very interesting post by Jon Weinberg (by the way there is a Jon Weinberg who was the Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs from 1976 until 1990; he died in August, 2006; are you related?)
    It brings up an issue that was commented on during the rioting, but perhaps not often enough; the class differences between the Ahmadinejad supporters and the Mousavi supporters.
    There’s no question that the students see regime change as critical because they recognize the autocratic and hyper-religious (read superstitious) Iranian clergy will never permit Iran to enter the modern world. President Obama may have his own secret and encrypted blackberry and Foreign Minister Miliband of Great Britain may be a blogger, but Ahmadinejad is lucky he knows how to read. While the Iranian students are twittering writing blog posts and dreaming of a better and more progressive future, large numbers of Iranians are still functionally illiterate. And many of the lower level Iranian clergy actually comes from this lumpenproletariat.
    Unlike the students, these Iranians may have little to gain from a modernizing Iran. A large number can’t read; many lack any skills that would have any utility in an Iran connected to the international marketplace. Large numbers have inhaled deeply of what Karl Marx called the opiate of the masses; religion.
    Convinced that the Mahdi will surely return in the same way that ultra orthodox Jews actually believe a messiah from the House of David is on the way or Christians who patiently await the second coming; modernity may offer less inducements for these lower class Iranians.
    It would be informative if someone who actually understood these issues could provide some commentary that explains how all of this might affect the future of Iran.
    Perhaps Jon Weinberg knows a little something about this. If he does, it would be great if he provided additional details.
    Thank you for the very interesting post!

    Reply

  60. JohnH says:

    Interesting how the spotlight remains intense on the horrors of the Iranian regime, something that the talking heads and hired pens on Washington’s payroll can do little about.
    Meanwhile they turn a completely blind eye on the horror shows next door, something that the US government not only can do something about but is responsible for: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KG11Ak02.html
    It continues to be interesting what is talked about and what isn’t…

    Reply

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