Iran Now Competing With Bush in Escalation of Missteps

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bushehr.jpg
(Bushehr Nuclear Reactor facility)
Over the last two years, Iran has played a shrewd diplomatic hand. It has negotiated with the Europeans and continued to do business deals with China and Russia. It has not done as much harm as it might have done inside Iraq, or even as a key sponsor of Hezbollah and Hamas.
While it’s not comfortable for critics of Iran to hear this, Iran could have been a far worse actor on the international stage than it has been. There are real limits to this logic, but the key question is whether Iran’s behavior can be steered away from being an international trouble-maker bent on exclusive domination of the Middle East, or whether Iran, America, and other key players are going to be drawn into what could evolve into a world war that alters the geopolitical terrain permanently.
Iran is now competing with George Bush as a champion of counter-productive, idiotic moves that undermine any international acceptance and legitimacy of its position.
Iran is now calling for the removal of the UN’s top Iran-focused nuclear inspector, Chris Charlier, and has banned 38 other UN inspectors from entering the country.
What should America’s next move be?
George Bush and Condi Rice need to embrace a diplomatic offensive now — and get on a plane to Moscow and Beijing. Bring Russia and China into this and make them stakeholders in this game. They can’t tolerate what Iran is doing — but currently are free-riding on America being the chief interlocutor (without even having real negotiations).
Iran has made a key mistake here — but only if smart strategists here in Washington and around the world quickly rally around this and demonstrate to Iran that the price to be paid for flipping off the United Nations weapons inspectors — winners of the Nobel Peace Prize — is not economic sanctions or a fleet of B-2 bombers, but serious brow-beating, scolding, and humiliation at the highest levels from players like Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin.
That would be the smart move.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

67 comments on “Iran Now Competing With Bush in Escalation of Missteps

  1. Pissed Off American says:

    Carroll, I think Eli was a bit intimidated by an informed audience. I believe he has taken his snake oil to another market.

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Finally, many of you betray your own credulity if you think ISRAEL is the only power now concerned about an Iranian nuke. Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis, who are probably exploring a side agreement with Rafsanjani right now.
    Posted by Eli Lake at January 27, 2007 12:53 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Dear Eli….how silly you are…do you really think most of us on here are not aware of how this temporary alliance of Israel and our client Arab states has come about and why? We have followed every turn of every worm in the can.
    Dear Steve…I have to quibble a bit, one day you seem to see clearly that the old power structure in the ME is over, the next day you seem to revert back to pushing info to support why the US MUST keep the old power balance. Maybe you have a purpose one way or another in this, but if so it’s really going to screw up your realist objectivity.
    Old rule won’t continue. It’s over. It’s changing and will keep changing in the future and all the kings horses and the all the kings men will not be able to keep the old rule together. Study the world map and human nature more and policy less and you will get it.
    And people like Eli make two mistakes. First they are so fanatically attached to Israel they can’t look at the ME objectively, and it shows.. and second, like the neo’s, they are so fixated on themselves only they underestimate their so called enemy….and way under estimate how far the US public has come in understanding the entire ME game and identifying all the various interest in the ME and the US and the people behind it.

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  3. rich says:

    Why should Iran be scolded by Putin or Hu Jintao?? Why wouldn’t they scold Bush instead? Or simply outflank Bush by assisting Iran in any and every way?
    Brow-beating & humiliating BUSH is absolutely ESSENTIAL–Bush has continually rejected Iranian overtures to establish working diplomatic relationships, substantive talks, & negotiations. It’s BUSH that needs the pressure. It’s BUSH that’s rejected talks and refused diplomatic means. It’s BUSH that wants war–at all cost.
    If BUSH can withdraw from treaties, there is EVERY reason IRAN can withdraw from ANY treaty they like as well. They have obligatin to: they UN & Bush have egregiously abused and manipulated treaties, etc., in relation to sovereign oil-producing nations. Exhibit A: Iraq. America would do that same, were they in Iran’s position. Manipulating laws doesn’t win Bush victories.
    It’s called a sovereign nation–but then, Bush is out to end nation-hood in general.
    The best possible outcome is for the US to SELL nuclear weapons technology TO Iran. By ANY possible cost-benefit calculation (using money, blood, political capital), the US and the world would be far better off. Respect sovereignty, forego war, avoid extreme costs, earn massive profits, repair diplomatic relations, win friends.
    Why? The spread of nuclear weapons technology is INEXORABLE. Better to get out in front of it, and reap some political wins. As ElBaradei said: you can’t bomb knowledge. Nor can you bomb political contests or just causes.
    Non-proliferation has never been about security or preventing threats or terrorism. It’s always been about denying adequate deterrents to sovereign nations. That’s an egregious betrayal of American democracy and every semblance of our national security.
    ElBaradei’s words should be heeded–
    from the link:
    >>At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran was trying to cut the number of inspectors but that inspections could continue.
    “This reduced somewhat the flexibility we have, but I should say we have over 100 inspectors in Tehran, so we have enough people to do the job,” he told CNN television.
    Speaking to invited journalists, he appealed to Iran and the West to declare a “timeout” and said face-saving gestures of goodwill, not preconditions for talks set by the council, were needed to stave off conflict that could inflame the Middle East.
    “(A) military solution … is absolutely bonkers. It would only strengthen the hand of (Iranian) hardliners. They would simply go underground. If you have the knowledge (to enrich), you cannot bomb the knowledge.”<<

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    Anyone else sick of Bush, Hillary, and Israel, lying to us?
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2000303,00.html
    Nuclear plans in chaos as Iran leader flounders
    Boasts of a nuclear programme are just propaganda, say insiders, but the PR could be enough to provoke Israel into war
    Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
    Sunday January 28, 2007
    The Observer
    An excerpt……..
    Iran’s efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.
    Iran’s uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes.
    Another excerpt………
    The detailed descriptions of Iran’s problems in enriching more than a few grams of uranium using high-speed centrifuges – 50kg is required for two nuclear devices – comes in stark contrast to the apocalyptic picture being painted of Iran’s imminent acquisition of a nuclear weapon with which to attack Israel. Instead, say experts, the break-up of the nuclear smuggling organisation of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadheer Khan has massively set back an Iran heavily dependent on his network.
    A key case in point is that Tehran originally procured the extremely high-quality bearings required for the centrifuges’ carbon-fibre ‘top rotors’ – spinning dishes within the machines – from foreign companies in Malaysia.
    With that source closed down two years ago, Iran is making the bearings itself with only limited success. It is the repeated failure of these crucial bearings, say some sources, that has been one of the programme’s biggest setbacks.
    Iran is also believed to be critically short of key materials for producing a centrifuge production line to highly enrich uranium – in particular the so-called maraging steel, able to be used at high temperatures and under high stress without deforming – and specialist carbon fibre products. In this light, say some experts, its insistence that it will install 3,000 new centrifuges at the underground Natanz facility in the coming months is as much about domestic PR as reality.
    The growing recognition, in expert circles at least, of how far Iran is from mastering centrifuge technology was underlined on Friday by comments by the head of the IAEA, whose inspectors have been attempting to monitor the Iranian nuclear programme.
    Talking to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Mohamed El Baradei appealed for all sides to take a ‘time out’ under which Iranian enrichment and UN sanctions would be suspended simultaneously, adding that the point at which Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon is at least half a decade away. In pointed comments aimed at the US and Israel, the Nobel Peace prize winner warned that an attack on Iran would have ‘catastrophic consequences’.

    Reply

  5. Chris says:

    Steve calls for “serious brow-beating, scolding, and humiliation at the highest levels from players like Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin” regarding Iran.
    While words are a thousand times better than bombs, Steve seems to disregard that Bush called Iran an axis of evil at a time when the Iranian moderate, Ayatolla Khatami, was assisting the US in the fight against AQ and the Taliban. The administration then tried to foment internal rebellion against Khatami’s tenure. So then Bush skates from his lies or should he get a serious brow-beating and humiliation he deserves?

    Reply

  6. Phill Hallam-Baker says:

    I posted a longer response on my own blog but I think that you are making the mistake of thinking that Iran’s primary objective here is to build a nuke rather than to avoid an attack by the US.
    Iran has had good reason to expect an unprovoked US attack ever since the ‘Axis of Evil’ state of the union address. There could be no clearer statement of his intention if he had called for the US to establish Liebensraum in the region. Say what you like about Ahmendinedjad, neglecting his study of Mein Kampf is not one of them.
    The political calculation for Iran must be to delay any attack. Bush has limited political capital and negligible credibility. If they can delay the attack by six months or so they may avoid it entirely.
    If they cannot prevent the attack they can limit the extent and the duration. Without political support in Congress Bush cannot do much more than launch a few missiles. Meanwhile the Iranians will threaten to sink any oil tanker that dares enter the straits of Hormuz. It does not take much to make that a credible threat.
    Getting the US entangled in the diplomatic process is exactly what Iran is seeking here. It would delay the attack for another few months and further run out the clock. It also replicates the Bush/Saddam narrative in the same way that the GOP attempted to replicate the Watergate narrative in their impeachment of Clinton.
    Everyone knows what the ultimate outcome of the Bush/Saddam narrative was, the WMD claims were proven to be bogus. Refusing to allow the inspectors in is another step in the Kabbuki theatre. The inspectors have to be denied entry so that they can be allowed entry. The US cannot possibly attack the installations while the inspectors are physically on site. So delaying the inspections delays the attack further.
    My expectation is that there will be an attack, Iran will close the straits and merry hell will errupt as Washington discovers that Iran does not need a nuclear weapon.

    Reply

  7. MP says:

    I guess it’s worth pointing out that most of the arguments here that justify Iran’s quest for the bomb–and its fear of aggression from neighbors–justify Israel’s quest for the bomb. Particularly back when Israel acquired the bomb.

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  8. MP says:

    David writes: “A frighteningly high stakes game of idiot chicken. The petro game is increasingly lose-lose for the planet and its “higher” carbon-based life forms. Unfortunately, the Iraq debacle and the game of “who’ll blink first?” so constricts the international conversation that we don’t seem to be able to actually move constructively on the greatest challenges for the wellbeing of our collective posterity.”
    Yes, yes, and yes.

    Reply

  9. David says:

    A frighteningly high stakes game of idiot chicken. The petro game is increasingly lose-lose for the planet and its “higher” carbon-based life forms. Unfortunately, the Iraq debacle and the game of “who’ll blink first?” so constricts the international conversation that we don’t seem to be able to actually move constructively on the greatest challenges for the wellbeing of our collective posterity. Thanks for nothing, Cheney and the rest of you retro-myopics. Ditto to Baker for getting the Supreme Court to select the losers in 2000. Steve, you are at least offering the best alternative to this American/Iranian exercise in congenital idiocy.

    Reply

  10. MP says:

    Dan writes: “The Saudis, of course, are running OUT of oil and are producing at capacity. Their window of opportunity is closing. Iran and Iraq have much oil left and many fields yet to be developed. If the US were able to form a strategically cooperative relationship with Iran, which leads to a stabilization of Iraq under Shia rule, friendly Iraq-Iran relations, a US military presence in Iraq, and a new US-Iraq-Iran petroleum axis in the region, then Saudi fortunes would be reversed dramatically.”
    There have been serious reports that Iran is running out of oil, too. Perhaps by 2015. Hence the press for civilian nuclear power.

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  11. MP says:

    Dan writes: “What the Saudis are worried about above all is the potential for a diplomatic thaw between the Iran and the US. A closer relationship between the US and Iran is a grave threat to the Saudi regime, not so much because of the threat of Iranian aggression against the Saudis, but because the regime’s power is anchored in its “special relationship” with the United States, a relationship which is in turn founded on the Saudi’s role as the chief petroleum producer and supplier in the region.”
    Why so? During the Shah’s time, the US and Iran were chummy. Did that hurt the US-Saudi relationship?
    Please explain…

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  12. bob h says:

    I wonder how Russia will react to Israel’s bombing of the Busehir reactor.

    Reply

  13. ET says:

    Report: Iran Denies Centrifuge Work
    An Iranian nuclear agency official has denied claims made by a top lawmaker that the Islamic Republic had begun installing 3,000 centrifuges at an uranium enrichment plant, Iran’s state-run news agency reported late Saturday.
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAN_NUCLEAR?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME

    Reply

  14. memekiller says:

    George Bush and Condi Rice need to embrace a diplomatic offensive now — and get on a plane to Moscow and Beijing. Bring Russia and China into this and make them stakeholders in this game. They can’t tolerate what Iran is doing — but currently are free-riding on America being the chief interlocutor (without even having real negotiations).
    No, Bush and Condi need to get on a plane, and head to Texas to retire. But that’s not going to happen any sooner than your wishful thinking. Since Iran’s move is just evidence that Cheney’s provocation is working, perhaps it might be more productive to discuss what Congress should do…

    Reply

  15. Joel Rutstein says:

    SAN DIEGO — USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group (CSG), with more than 5,000 sailors, will surge deploy Jan. 27, while USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.
    The Ronald Reagan CSG is deploying under the Navy’s Fleet Response Plan (FRP) and will operate in the western Pacific in support of U.S. commitments in the region. FRP provides the U.S. with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces and the ability to rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice.

    Reply

  16. Pissed Off American says:

    http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=27490
    Families Ready as Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Deploys
    Story Number: NNS070127-02
    Release Date: 1/27/2007 5:24:00 PM
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Stephanie Tigner, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific
    NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) — USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and attached ships of the Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) surge deployed to the 7th Fleet Area of Operations from Naval Station North Island on Jan 27.
    Surge deployments are part of the Navy’s Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which ensures ships are able to respond to real-world situations by maintaining high states of readiness during their surge windows.
    “The biggest thing is getting yourself and your family mentally ready,” said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Reagan’s commanding officer.
    According to the wife of Lt. Cmdr. Nick L. Rapley, “I kind of got used to the routine of not having my husband around [during the ship’s maiden deployment last year.] It doesn’t mean it’s not hard being alone, but with him being in the Navy, we are always ready for things like this. The ship’s ready, my husband’s ready, and I’m ready to help support him while he’s gone.”
    Other families have come up with creative ways to deal with the absence of deploying sailors.
    The wife of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Dennis P. Anders, created what she calls, “Daddy Kisses.” Their four children each get a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss before bedtime as a way of saying goodnight to their father.
    “They each have a picture of him by their beds and we make calendars to count down the days. We also talk about him, write letters and send packages,” she said.
    Sailors also have ways of communicating with their families back home with family video conferencing, phone calls, e-mail, and United Through Reading, a program in which families receive videotapes of their Sailors reading books to their young children.
    “I am so proud of the Sailors and their families. It’s never easy to deploy, but the support of America is so important. It’s so important to cherish that,” said Regan CSG Commander Rear Adm. Charles W. Martoglio.
    The Reagan CSG is comprised of, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Commander Carrier Strike Group 7 (CCG 7), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Detachment 15.
    Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, “Peace Through Strength,” was a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
    For more news from around the fleet visit http://www.navy.mil.

    Reply

  17. ET says:

    Documents From The Trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby at:
    http://wid.ap.org/documents/libbytrial/index.html

    Reply

  18. DonS says:

    Surely the Libby trial couldn’t require that much of a distraction. Could it?
    Haven’t been able to goole anything. Could it be on rotation with one of the carrier groups already there?

    Reply

  19. Den Valdron says:

    Well, that makes my day, not.

    Reply

  20. Joel Rutstein says:

    I had read somewhere before that we didn’t really need to start to worry until the third carrier group headed by the USS Ronald Reagan went to the Gulf. Today it has.

    Reply

  21. p.lukasiak says:

    Someone needs to check the New America Foundation’s next funding disclosure report to see how much Steve is getting from AIPAC.
    **************
    the bottom line here is that Iran isn’t stupid. And the smart thing that a country that wants nuclear weapons would do is refine uranium to the point where it can be used to produce nuclear energy, build a nuclear power plant, and then extract the plutonium from the spent fuel rods.
    Extracting plutonium is MUCH easier than refining uranium to the point where its useful for a bomb…. and its easier to build a plutonium based bomb than a uranium based bomb.
    Given that, I seriously doubt that there is any evidence that Iran is actually intent on using its centrifuges to refine uranium to the point where it can build a nuclear bomb. A nuclear power plant….sure. And maintaining the potential to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods? Absolutely.
    So, if we want to keep Iran from getting nukes without bringing on armageddon, we need to convince Iran that a nuke isn’t necessary.

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    Gads, thats why Saddam had all them mean ol’ sprayer drones poised off our eastern seaboard!!!
    Posted by Pissed Off American
    Oh yeah, whatever happened to those drones? Did GW intercept them when he was flying that fighter jet to his Mission Accomplished speech?

    Reply

  23. Pissed Off American says:

    Today’s “BOO!!!” from the AIPAC homepage. Guess what folks, not only can’t they have nuclear energy, but they can’t have satellites either. Quick, lets bomb the bejesus out of ’em.
    http://www.aipac.org/
    Nuclear-Minded Iran Develops Satellite Launcher
    Iran is continuing its atomic work and increasing its military capabilities.
    As Tehran continues to defy the U.N. Security Council by pressing ahead with its illicit nuclear program, Iran has reportedly moved closer to developing a missile that can strike throughout the world, according to The Jerusalem Post. Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the head of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that Iran has converted its Shihab-3 missile – already capable of striking U.S. troops in the Middle East and Israel – into a satellite launcher that will be sent into space “soon.” According to defense expert Uzi Rubin, Iran could adapt such a launcher into an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type of projectile that nuclear powers would use in long-range atomic strikes. Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States and Israel.

    Reply

  24. Pissed Off American says:

    “I wonder who will be the latter-day Churchill to warn us that there is a Great Persian Rug descending across the Middle East. It hangs from the Clothesline of History. It’s central medallion is in Tehran; it’s secondary interior border stretches across Iraq and down the Gulf; it’s principle border is draped its across the Shebaa Farms on the lonely border between freedom and tyranny. And it secondary exterior border extends from the Muslim slums of London to Manhattan, and down the US coastline.”
    Posted by Dan Kervick
    Gads, thats why Saddam had all them mean ol’ sprayer drones poised off our eastern seaboard!!!

    Reply

  25. Dan Kervick says:

    I guess the “Shiite Crescent” metaphor is also supposed to play on traditional western fears and anxieties of the Islamic crescent, rising in the East to surround and encompass the star of Bethlehem.
    On the other hand, a Shite Crescent sounds like something you might buy from a street vendor in Najaf. You can perhaps buy one in a combo plate along with a Kebab of Instability and a double side order of Anarchy Pilaf.
    Mathematical investigation shows you take a Shiite crescent and put a skewer through it, and then rotate it around its Axis of Evil, you get either an Ellipsoid of Hatred or a Hyperboloid of Disorder, depending on the location of the skewer and the precise shape of the crescent.
    I wonder who will be the latter-day Churchill to warn us that there is a Great Persian Rug descending across the Middle East. It hangs from the Clothesline of History. It’s central medallion is in Tehran; it’s secondary interior border stretches across Iraq and down the Gulf; it’s principle border is draped its across the Shebaa Farms on the lonely border between freedom and tyranny. And it secondary exterior border extends from the Muslim slums of London to Manhattan, and down the US coastline.

    Reply

  26. rich says:

    POA,
    re “evidence,” I’m sure you’ll see Eli Lake and fellow surrealists claiming the Iranians named their facility the “Bushehr Nuclear Reactor” to mislead Bush into thinking it was one of his own.
    ‘Seee? Why would they name it “Bush-er” [sic] unless they’re a-tryin’ to foool us? Must be workin’ an a A-bomb!’
    Maye this surreal insanity is Kissinger’s doing.
    But at least have hard evidence Negroponte intentionally delayed the Iraq NIE til after the ‘surge’ ‘strategy’ [sic]. Our take on him was not far off.

    Reply

  27. Pissed Off American says:

    “Eli Lake: You strain all credulity. Come up with ANY evidence for what you say.”
    EVIDENCE??? Surely you jest. Asking for evidence is clearly anti-american, and pro-terrorist. And if that don’t shut ya up, there’s always the ol’ anti-semitic punchline.
    Evidence. Geez man, what you talkin about, you can’t ask for that here.

    Reply

  28. rich says:

    Eli Lake: You strain all credulity. Come up with ANY evidence for what you say.
    “Israel is not a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Thus, the IAEA lacks the authority under international law to inspect”
    So what?? Bush unilaterally withdrew from treaties–Iran has every right to do the same. Iran is a sovereign nation, and you have no right to punish them for that by meddling in their internal affairs.
    Iran has approached the US numerous times about diplomatic negotiations. Bush has rejected this numberous times. The EVIDENCE says Bush WANTS a war–and that Bush is the threat, not Iran.
    If we really wanted to outflank the players, WE’d deliver nuclear weapons technology TO Iran. A true Nixon-goes-to-China move. Iran has too many strategic partners to gain anything the hard way. Plus, we’d gain a third mega-ally in the region, the profit from the technology sales-transfers, and strategic advantage over China & Russia who’re likely to step in to fill the void.
    PLUS, we’d avoid the ENORMOUS cost of another war, both in dollars, lives, political capital and loooong-term strategic disadvantage.
    Steve,
    “REALIST” is bankrupt of all meaning. It’s just code for what the status quo erroneously believe “has to” be done because we “can’t” make other moves. Which is all nonsense: YOU YOURSELF said the Establishment–at that afternoon WINE-sipping soiree you posted on–was exhausted of all answers, and had NO SOLUTIONS LEFT at all. You were quoting THEM.
    The notion that War is somehow “Realist” just because DC is fresh out of ideas is flat wrong. This is a very grave mistake.
    Iran has been BEGGING for diplomatic talks. They should be given credit for that. The INEXORABLE spread of technology dictates that Iran will gain nukes whether we like it or not. Might as well get the credit, cash, and security that comes from selling it to them.
    If WAR really was our concern–then we’d AVOID war by doing just that. That’s why nonproliferation is such a fraud. It’s never been about stopping a threat–it’s ALWAYS been about stopping a DETERRENT. And the US could benefit from Iran having a few deterrents.
    “Sy Hersh in the New Yorker.”
    So the tactical nukes story is true.
    TH CIA intel and IAEA docs BOTH state Iran has no nuclear capability. Eli Lake would be well advised to avoid assertions that, so far as we know, amount to lies.

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    The FACT of their lying must be front and center in the current discussions.
    Posted by marky
    More importantly, the fact that this fresh batch of carefully packaged frauds, such as Hillary and Edwards, are lying to us as well. We must not be taken in by these gift wrapped pseudo saviours.

    Reply

  30. marky says:

    This is a perfect time to highlight the total collapse of Cheney’s credibility in light of the testimony in the Libby trial which shows that Cheney had been totally obssessed with Joe Wilson, while later he said he never heard of Wilson before the news stories about Novak’s article.
    It’s very important that the debate about the upcoming war with Iran not be centered solely on the facts. The White House lies with impunity, and because of its access to sensitive intelligence, it is in the best position to cover up any lies, or bolsters its lies with misleading releases of intelligence.
    The bottom line is that no one should trust one word Bush, Cheney or their puppets say. In fact, given the history of the White House planting false stories in the media, both here and abroad, one should be loath to trust any story which the White House uses to back its case on Iran.
    Bushco want to play the media and the public the same way they did in 2002-2003. The singular difference this time consists not in knowledge of Iran’s intentions, which remain murky, but in the revelation of White House mendacity.
    The FACT of their lying must be front and center in the current discussions.

    Reply

  31. bob mcmanus says:

    God Bless Dan Kervick.

    Reply

  32. Linda says:

    Quite simply this country has to take the lead in getting us back to talking with ALL nations about nuclear disarmament and doing that ourselves instead of proposing development of nuclear weapons. There probably needs to be a new nonproliferation and disaramament treaty with strong international enforcement that all nations including Israel should be encouraged to sign and efforts to safeguard all nuclear materials, something still not done about those of the old Soviet Union.
    Given the proximity and relatively small areas of countries in the ME, it seems to be that using nuclear weapons against each other would likely cause some radiation problems for friends as well as foes depending on how the wind blows.
    Until we do that, there will endless heated debates, confrontations, etc., and the atomic clock will move closer to midnight.

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  33. Den Valdron says:

    Dan Kervick,
    Regarding your comment respecting Shiite domination of the middle east, its an interesting example of how notions and ideas will gradually morph into ever more ridiculous forms.
    “Iranian Domination” seems to be a descendent of the notion of the “Shiite Crescent”. That is, that Shiite movements would be ascendent in a series of contiguous states which would then form some sort of political/economic/social/military bloc.
    The “Shiite crescent” starts with Iran a Shiite Persian Islamic Republic, obviously, then it moves to the Shiite majority dominated Arab Iraq, from there it dodges north to Syria where there is a secular dictatorship which is based principally on an Allawite minority, the Allawites being a Shiite sect. Then from there, we go to the polyglot Lebanon and Hezbollah.
    So…. Islamic Republic, Arab pseudo-theocracy majority, Secular dictatorship with aberrant sect, and a social movement in a larger society… Yeah, I can see how that’s going to open the door for meaningful power plays.
    Let’s ignore the fact that Syria and Iraq have been traditional enemies, as has Iraq and Iran. That Hezbollah plays Syria and Iran against each other. That this crescent will feature a bewildering cacophony of governments, economies and interests.
    The ‘Shiite Crescent’ has ever been more of a mapmakers conceit than a nascent political or social force.
    But never mind that. From Shiite Crescent, runaway paranoia leads to ‘impending Shia domination of the middle east.’ It’s as if Lebanon and Iran will join forces to push around Yemen. Right. What with the rest of the middle east being profoundly Sunni and most Shiites being oppressed minorities.
    But ‘Shia domination’ is too abstract. Where’s Shia on a map.
    And so the final stage of the toxic morphing is “Iranian Domination of the Middle East” – at which point, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon have all fallen away, except of course, for all these fractions arab states becoming Iranian finger puppets.
    As I’ve said, hysterical overstatement is great for tumescence. Not so great for serious foreign policy discussion.
    I find myself astonished at the a-historicity and a-literacy of the Washington class. They seem unable to even track the mayfly evolution of their own buzzwords. I’ve seen crack whores with more of an attention span.

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  34. ET says:

    Announcing the Reunion of the Class of Idiots. Remember the Aluminum Tubes?

    Reply

  35. Mike says:

    Dan Kervick, I think you are totally right that people are artificially manufacturing this “Shia threat” notion. While it is true that Shia Muslims from Lebanon to Iraq to Iran to Kuwait have gained more political power and influence, this is not necessarily a “threat” to us in the US. What this trend is is a threat to some of the current regimes that the US sponsors and props up, not least Saudi Arabia, which seems to me far less democratic and more repressive than Iran. What the US should do is gracefully step out of Iraq, reduce dependence on oil and switch to alternative energy, and generally withdraw from the Middle East unless we have a legitimate, specific reason to be there, which is now unlikely thanks to Iraq.
    Anyway, about what Dan was saying, I think that the Saudis in particular have been manufacturing this Shia Threat notion, and that’s how it gained its way into the rhetoric of the D.C. elite. It’s as manufactured as the notion of Iraq was in 03, but very intelligent people like Mr. Clemons still somehow spew it forth, as he is unalterably a product (if a more refined one) of the Beltway.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    Den,
    Steve’s reference to Iranian domination of the entire Middle East is the second such reference I have read in a week from a Washington-based pundit. Shadi Hamid at Democracy Arsenal this week actually talked about “the impending Shia domination of the Middle East.”
    A mad-hatter crazy domino theory seems to have caught on like wildfire in Washington. Following the mass suckering of much of punditocracy during the build up to the Iraq War, it’s astonishing to see this level of useful idiocy embraced so readily once again by the Best and the Brightest.
    Far from it being the case that Washington is home to a smart set of hard-headed skeptics, it looks to me like some of the most credulous people in America are drawn to the feast at the imperial capital, drawn by the prospect of gorging on tasty but unnutritious slabs of propaganda.

    Reply

  37. Den Valdron says:

    For the record, Eli, when I encounter a man who masturbates furiously to the notion of pre-emptively bombing innocent people, warmonger is probably the least pejorative name I can come up with.
    “While it’s not comfortable for critics of Iran to hear this, Iran could have been a far worse actor on the international stage than it has been.”
    Damning with faint praise indeed. But there’s a fair bit of truth to this. Iran manages to have normal diplomatic relationships with most countries, including Europe, India, Russia and China. It worked with the United States to try and stabilize Afghanistan. The claims that it has been destabilizing Iraq are largely spurious. Iran supports semi-legitimate groups in the West Bank and Lebanon, but then, America’s supports far more questionable groups.
    “The key question is whether Iran’s behavior can be steered away from being an international trouble-maker bent on exclusive domination of the Middle East,”
    And the evidence for this is where???? Let’s get real here, Steve. Where’s the evidence for Iran’s plotting exclusive domination of the middle east? Where’s the ability of an ethnic Persian shiite nation to dozens of Sunni Arab states comprising hundreds of millions? Where’s the ‘international trouble maker’ moniker coming from?
    Breathless paranoia may make for stirring tumescence, but actual foreign policy discussion?
    As for Eli?
    “In addition to building a nuke…”
    Hysterical fabricate much? The Mullahs have issued a fatwa denouncing nuclear weapons as Un-Islamic. The Iranian government has repeatedly and publicly repudiated nuclear weapons and has called for making the mid-east a wmd free zone. There isn’t actually any evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. There’s no compelling realpolitik motivation for them to build a nuclear weapon. And even the most paranoid assess that Iran is about 5 to 10 years from a working nuclear weapon, and you’d need at least 5 to 10 years after that for sufficient numbers of nuclear weapons and effective delivery systems to constitute a threat.
    Really, Eli, when you talk like this, why should any knowledgable person reply with anything besides contempt?
    ” their security services are paying off genocidiers in Baghdad,”
    Genocidiers? Is that really a word? And what have you got for evidence? F*ck all, the last time I looked.
    The last time anyone started looking for international connections underpinning Shiite death squads, the names that started turning up sounded like Negroponte and Steel… after which, the discusion went away.
    “arming Shariacrats in Mogadishu,”
    Proof or paranoia? So… you’re saying that the Shiite fundamentalist government in Iran was illegally arming Sunni fundamentalists in Somalia? That makes a lot of sense.
    So… who started out arming the warlords of Mogadishu? And who is funding the Ethiopian occupation?
    “underwriting Syria’s sabotage of Lebanese politics,”
    You mean, sabotaging Lebanese politics by conducting extra-border assassinations, raiding the country, launching airstrikes on buildings full of children, killing UN observers, and purposely demolishing civilian infrastructure and attempting to depopulate the south?
    Get serious, Eli.
    “aiding Hezbollahi hostage takers in the Bekaa, and according to the Israelis causing trouble in the West Bank.”
    Prrroooooooooofffff?
    “Whether aerial bombardment is the correct response I concede is debatable.”
    Wow. That’s mighty white of you, Eli. That’s big, real big. The accusations are fabricated and hysterical, but the aerial bombardment is for real.
    Let me give you the short form: It’s not debateable. Aerial bombardment is simply an act of war, an act of murder, and an international crime.
    Self defense is a legitimate right, on occasion, pre-emptive war can be justified. Bombing the shit out of people you don’t like is not a debateable issue. It’s a moral travesty.
    “Saying so does not make one a war monger, but instead (dare I say) a realist.”
    Realism involves this thing called reality. Reality deals with the rational analysis of evidence to arrive at a little thing called truth.
    A cascade of increasingly irrational and unfounded accusations leading into an a-rational conclusion that aerial bombing is a good way to pass the day really does sound like war-mongering.
    “Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis, who are probably exploring a side agreement with Rafsanjani right now.”
    Yeah, right. Because they really really think that a Persian Gulf War will be great for business. Tripe piled on top of tripe.
    “Because all those Gulf Arab puppets controlled by America (not to mention the Levant and Egypt) have threatened to annihilate Israel since its inception.”
    Lebanon is currently threatening to annihilate Israel? I guess that’s why Israel had to invade them twice. Egypt is currently threating to annihilate Israel? News to Mubarak. You’re blowing smoke Eli. What Gulf Arab state is threatening to annihilate Israel? And what’s the relationship to Persian Shiite Iran? Are you simply suggesting that Gulf Arab states are, despite puny irrelevance, naturally bellicose, like an aggressive pack of pekingese dogs? Are you inclined to rely on that bellicosity selectively?
    I don’t care much one way or the other about the Israeli dimension. I don’t see it as entering into the security or diplomatic issues surrounding Iran. To the extent that it is relevant, it is all too often a tedious distraction, shedding 99% smoke and bother to 1% insight and light.

    Reply

  38. Dan Kervick says:

    Lost in all this discussion about centrifuges and nuclear installations in Iran is a recognition of why the Iranians have such a pressing need for a domestic nuclear power program, and why the US and others are so eager to prevent the development of that program. Iran is facing rising domestic prosperity and soaring domestic energy demands. The pace of this increased demand could lead to a decline or halt in Iran’s oil exports in the future – in other words it’s chief stream of hard currency could flow to a trickle. These are facts that even Iran’s adversaries have begun to accept. Preventing Iran from making a nuclear-for-petroleum substitution domestically is a goal of anti-Iran strategic planners in the US and elsewhere.

    Reply

  39. Pissed Off American says:

    http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=56365
    Kucinich: The White House Is Up To Its Old Tricks; Is Preparing the United States for an Attack on Iran : President’s Actions Could Lead to Impeachment
    Washington, Jan 26 – WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 26) — Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) accused the White House of mounting a media blitz to prepare the U.S. public for an eventual attack on Iran. Today The Washington Post reported the Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran’s influence across the Middle East.
    “The White House is up to its old tricks again: Providing information by anonymous sources and portraying Iran as an aggressor in Iraq,” Kucinich said.
    “The President is mischaracterizing U.S. action vis à vis Iran. In fact, the U.S. is already engaged in offensive and provocative acts against Iran. The President’s strategy, by portraying our involvement as only being on the defensive, is laying out the groundwork for him to attack Iran and bypass authorization by Congress,” Kucinich said.
    The Washington Post article stated:
    “A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy. ‘This has little to do with Iraq. It’s all about pushing Iran’s buttons. It is purely political.’ The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States’ increasing inability to stanch the violence there.”
    Kucinich said, “The White House spin machine is at it again: this time providing justification for a new war — a war against Iran.” Kucinich pointed out that while the term ‘officials’ is mentioned 21 times in the Post article — not once are the officials identified by name.
    In his January 10 address to the nation, President Bush asserted that succeeding in Iraq begins with addressing Iran and Syria. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq,” Bush said.
    “The Washington Post is quoting strategically placed Administration sources who are providing justification for an attack against Iran,” Kucinich said. “This new twist on Iran, a country this Administration refuses to have free and open diplomatic talks with, is stating the Administration’s case for war.”
    “The degree to which this President continues to take steps to go to war against Iran without consulting with the full Congress is the degree to which he is increasingly putting himself in jeopardy of an impeachment proceeding,” Kucinich said.

    Reply

  40. ET says:

    Another Misstep?
    Iran Says It’s Installing Centrifuges
    Iran is currently installing 3,000 centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant, an Iranian lawmaker said Saturday, a day after a senior U.S. diplomat warned that the country’s plans to accelerate its nuclear program “would be a major miscalculation.”
    The Iranian lawmaker, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said the installation “stabilizes Iran’s capability in the field of nuclear technology,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
    “We are right now installing 3,000 centrifuges,” Boroujerdi, the head of the Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAN_NUCLEAR?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME

    Reply

  41. Dan Kervick says:

    Let’s try to understand the Saudi’s interests here, and identify the exact nature of the threat they perceive.
    What the Saudis are worried about above all is the potential for a diplomatic thaw between the Iran and the US. A closer relationship between the US and Iran is a grave threat to the Saudi regime, not so much because of the threat of Iranian aggression against the Saudis, but because the regime’s power is anchored in its “special relationship” with the United States, a relationship which is in turn founded on the Saudi’s role as the chief petroleum producer and supplier in the region.
    The Saudis know that the Baker Commission has in effect laid the groundwork for such a thaw with Iran, and that there is thus a substantial portion of the US strategic class that is in the process of developing a new, less Saudi-centric vision of the US role in the Middle East. That is the movement that the Saudis moved aggressively in the past few months to head off. They have mobilized support with hardline allies in the US, particularly Cheney and Bush Jr., mounted an aggressive campaign of public diplomacy, and begun working more closely with Israel and other countries who share an interest in weakening Iran, and preventing US-Iranian rapprochment. This propaganda seems aimed at driving the US public toward support of a regional Sunni-Shia Cold War in the Middle East, with the Saudis and minor Gulf States playing the role of the indispensible, petroleum-producing US allies in the region.
    The Saudis, of course, are running OUT of oil and are producing at capacity. Their window of opportunity is closing. Iran and Iraq have much oil left and many fields yet to be developed. If the US were able to form a strategically cooperative relationship with Iran, which leads to a stabilization of Iraq under Shia rule, friendly Iraq-Iran relations, a US military presence in Iraq, and a new US-Iraq-Iran petroleum axis in the region, then Saudi fortunes would be reversed dramatically.
    The Saudis are working to keep oil prices down because they know that runaway oil prices will lead to greater US domestic pressure to work with Iran to stabilize Iraq, and thus open up relations with Iran. And once the US and Iran re-establish a diplomatic relationship, with all the embassies, cultural exchanges and openness that entails, then the Saudi and Israeli ability to dominate the messages emanating out of the Middle East to the US public will be dramatically curtailed.
    The alleged nuclear threat from a supposedly implacable Iran is just the bait with which the Saudis and Israelis seek to drag us into this Cold War. They both know very well that Iran has made several gestures toward the US in recent years, with proposals to forge a grand bargain encompassing a number of issues – including the nuclear issue. The US could resolve its legitimate security concerns vis-a-vis the Iranian nuclear program by entering into discussions toward such a bargain. Because Bush and Cheney are captives of the Saudi and Israeli lobbies, they have worked energetically with the latter to shut up Flynt Leverett and anybody else who seeks to bring the American public the good news that this diplomatic option is available to us.

    Reply

  42. Mike says:

    First off, Iran does have a legal right to dismiss nuclear inspectors which it disapproves of. Other countries do it all the time. And they were worried that the chief inspector was leaking information to the press and otherwise using his office to apply additional pressure to Iran.
    Please, the only reason Iran has been given a major foothold and you think it’s appropriate to talk of “domination of the Middle East” is because the US toppled Saddam and the Taliban, removing Iran’s two nearest and most dangerous enemies. We did them this favor, and now in retaliation for them grabbing onto it, the US wants to hit them hard. It’s like giving something to someone with one hand only to take it away with another.
    Anyway, even if the move of sacking Chris Charlier was unjustified on its merits, still you need to put this in context: the US has been detaining Iranian civilians and diplomats who are NO danger to Iraq, simply as a political maneuver. In my eyes, that is much worse than dismissing some inspectors, which is a typical (though not to this degree) move.
    About Russia and China. This especially shows that your thinking is constrained to Beltway logic. Of course Russia and China will help Iran, in the face of obvious aggression by the US against it! Of course they will make profits of development off Iranian nuclear infrastructure and defense systems and other things, because it is A) in their interest to offset US dominance in the region, and B) they see, as many rational people outside of Washington and Tel Aviv do, that Iran is not really a threat against any of its neighbors, that there is no credible evidence (even according to the CIA) of Iran’s developing nuclear weaponry.
    I’m not saying I agree with what Iran is doing, but what they’re doing is in a way similar to what Russia is doing, and now China too: trying to spread “soft power” through ideological and peaceful (if provocative) means. The US is trying to spread “hard power,” bombing Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, making threats against Iran and North Korea, etc. My main point is this: I’m sure China and Russia recognize this soft/hard power difference, as they are more and more taking the soft power route, for instance the way Russia uses energy going to Europe through Belarus or Ukraine, to gain key political leverage in the region.
    So of course, then, Russia and China are already and have been for a while now “stakeholders in this game”. They have a stake in ensuring peace in Iran through diplomacy, so that they can continue to build on their soft power and increase financial assets. The fact that Iran has a bellicose leader doesn’t change a damn thing.

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    Eli says:
    “Finally, many of you betray your own credulity if you think ISRAEL is the only power now concerned about an Iranian nuke. Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis,”
    Since when has the US responded to the call for agression by these Arab/Muslim states. Isn’t this a bit disingenuous, if not a red herring? We do recognize the regional dynamics and are not required to respond to their perceived needs, right. Yet our track record is, on balance, abetting Israli agression.
    Easy E asks:
    “Also, just why isn’t Israel a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty? All countries that possess nukes should be.” . . .
    Eli replies:
    “Because all those Gulf Arab puppets controlled by America (not to mention the Levant and Egypt) have threatened to annihilate Israel since its inception.”
    I’m not meaning to be obtuse here, but just exactly what is the connection with threats to Israel and the failure to acknowledge/sign the NPT? Certainly that treaty has been observed in the breach and has not served to divest the sgnatories of their arsenals, mores the pity. Hopefuly your’re not suggesting that if Israel did sign they would be the one exemplar who would live up to the obligations under the treaty. That would be a big change from their obsrvation of, say, UN resolutions, for comparison.

    Reply

  44. km4 says:

    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I…I think Jim Webb did a great job at ah…in his eight minute talk about the President’s State of the Union. I agree with both points Jim Webb brought up. I think it’s true that uh, in terms of the economy there’s a lot of ordinary Americans out there working really really hard and not getting much for it compared to what the top level people are getting in this economy and I think in term of the War in Iraq, that adding 21,000 troops that it’s a political problem, it’s going to take diplomatic and political work, we need to talk to the countries in the region. This administration threatens Iran but it won’t talk to Iran. And Alan, my point is this: why will the most powerful country in the world not deign to speak to a country like Iran? You could…you’ve got all the trump cards you need on Iran, but can’t you at least…can’t we at least talk to them?
    Sean Hannity: You want to talk to Iran and here’s a guy…
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I do. Absolutely.
    Sean Hannity: Hang on, let me, let me finish my question. He wants to…he’s the guy that’s denied the Holocaust, um he’s pursuing nuclear weapons, has repeatedly talked about annihilating Israel, wiping it off the face of the map, “down with the USA” is a chant that he often makes in public. What would the first words out of your mouth be to the Holocaust denier? Would you try and talk him into the truth?
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well Sean, you know when I was the NATO Commander, I went down to Slobodan Milosevic and told him that if he didn’t comply with the UN Security Council resolutions that I would be told to bomb him and I would bomb him good. And so I do believe
    Sean Hannity: But do you really believe there’s hope in talking to him?
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I do believe that the United States, as the most powerful country in the world, should always talk to adversaries. I’m not saying take the military option off the table – it’s an option, but it’s a lot better for everybody in the region if we don’t have to use the military option.
    Sean Hannity: But do you…I agree with that, but do you really believe there’s even a smidgen of hope that the Holocaust denier, that the guy that threatens the US and Israel, do you really believe this madman is somebody that ultimately can be persuaded?
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well I don’t think he’s the only…Sean, he’s not the only guy in Iran. I mean there are a lot of people in Iran who are…who really want to see a change in the situation in the region. We’ve got to reach around Ahmedinejad one way or another. We’ve got to show a different vision for the region. We’ve got to help those in Iran who want a different vision in the region come forward. That’s our obligation as the most powerful country in the world.
    Sean Hannity: I think the single best security we will have against Iran is to have the biggest, strongest, toughest military and the means to back it up. Let me ask you this, sir. You said, you said…
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well you know the military is the last resort.
    Sean Hannity: I agree. You said
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: If we could change people’s mind without using the military, we’ll all be a lot more secure.
    Sean Hannity: I don’t believe you can change the mind of a madman like Ahmedinejad. I think that’s false hope.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I don’t think he’s the only guy in charge, Sean.
    Sean Hannity: Well I think it’s false hope and naïve.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I think you’re making the same mistake we made with Saddam. I think you’re trying to personalize a country around a single person.
    Sean Hannity: I’m not. I’m not, but he’s their leader.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: and that was the mistake in Iraq.
    Sean Hannity: He’s their voice.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: He is one voice in Iran. That’s all.
    Sean Hannity: If we could do anything, we ought to be working very hard with alternative voices in Iran and hope that the emerging, shifting, changing demographics and the desire…the…the inclination of the human soul takes over
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure.
    Sean Hannity: and foster the freedom movement there. I think it would be a far better plan than
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: but to do that, you have to talk to Iran.
    Sean Hannity: than any hope in Ahmedinejad. But you said talk to Iran.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: We’re going to have an embassy. We’re going to have to have relationships with them.
    Sean Hannity: That’s right.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: That’s what this administration won’t do and that’s what it needs to do.
    Sean Hannity: Alright. You said there was no new strategy. Let me tell you what the new strategy is ‘cause clearly uh I guess you’re missing what the President’s saying here. The prior strategy, and the President admitted that there were some mistakes made, was that they go in and they’d clear out the insurgency and they didn’t stay long enough or hold those areas long enough. Now the new strategy with the troop surge will be go in, remove the insurgents, hold the areas as pa…and also accelerate the training of Iraqi troops and police. That is a new strategy.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I don’t think that’s a new strategy. I
    Sean Hannity: Hold on a second,
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I’ve heard him for a year talking about seize, clear and hold.
    Sean Hannity: No. That’s what it is now.
    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: The problem is the US troops don’t do a good job of holding. We don’t speak the language, we’re not there.
    http://securingamerica.com/printready/transcript_070123.htm

    Reply

  45. ET says:

    Conflation of Issues 101?
    In the context of the UN condemnation of Holocaust denial on Friday, Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman made a reference to suspicions that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
    “While the nations of the world gather here to affirm the historicity of the Holocaust with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a member of this assembly is acquiring the capabilities of carrying out its own,” Gillerman said. “The president of Iran is in fact saying, ‘There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.’ ”
    Alejandro D. Wolff, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said “Iran stands alone in shame” for rejecting a resolution that was approved by consensus and sponsored by 104 countries.
    The vote came on the eve of the U.N.’s International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust.
    Venezuela, while supporting the resolution, said Israel’s “excesses under the pretext of legitimate defense has led to a new holocaust against the Palestinian people.”
    The South American country, whose President Hugo Chavez is harshly critical of U.S. foreign policy, extended the comparison to the American-led invasion of Iraq and the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
    Iran stood by its position that the Holocaust should be closely examined to determine its scope.
    “The seriousness and sincerity of this endeavor would be indeed undermined by rendering political judgments on such events and closing the door to any inquiry on their characteristics, scope and extent,” Iranian representative Hossein Gharibi said.
    Gharibi, an Iranian envoy to the United Nations, told the assembly: “In our view there is no justification for genocide of any kind, nor can there be any justification for the attempt made by some – particularly by the Israeli regime – to exploit the past crimes as a pretext to commit new genocide and crimes.”
    Excerpts from:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-holocaust27jan27,1,3679599.story?coll=la-news-a_section
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/060A9A7F-6A8C-4B96-8E69-5B158708272A.htm

    Reply

  46. Truth Wins says:

    Dan,
    I agree completely. I fear our pundits/analysts than those mulahs!

    Reply

  47. Pissed Off American says:

    Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis, who are probably exploring a side agreement with Rafsanjani right now.
    Posted by Eli Lake
    I’d like to see some sourcing for that. Who says?
    And, do you think that because Israel is not bound by treaties regarding nuclear weapons that that somehow erases the fact that they ARE a nuclear power, with delivery technology, and that it makes the blustering about the “Iranian threat” any kind of less laughable horseshit?
    And what about the CIA report. Are you just going to ignore that too?
    Fact is, we are seeing the EXACT kind of exaggerated threat assessments we saw in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. And considering the fact that this mess in Iraq was IRREFUTABLY launched by LIES and exaggeration, foisted on us by both Israel and this corrupt and treasonous executive administration, why in God’s name should we believe the same PROVEN liars telling the same exact kinds of tales?
    Personally, I wish Iran WOULD get nukes, and maybe this whole “threat” bullshit in the Middle East would once again be moderated by the concept of MAD. As long as one country can wield the nuclear hammer over another country’s head, there will ALAWAYS be a drive to acquire nuclear weapons by the threatened nation. Its predictable, and understandable. And considering Israel’s despicable use of cluster munitions in the closing hours of the Lebanon conflict, your admontion that Israel has not yet launched a nuclear strike is somewhat tepid in its delivery. One need only look to Lebanon or Palestine to make a judgement about Israel’s willingness to target innocent civilians. What regard for human life or dignity has Israel shown us in Lebanon or Palestine that tells us they will not resort to nuclear force?
    As far as nuclear threats go, maybe we should get our heads out of our asses and start worrying about Bush’s insane rejection of MAD, and his maniacal natterings about offensive nuclear strikes with tactical nukes, instead of exagerating a “Iranian nuclear threat”. The damned fool is actually fostering another nuclear arms race. Just what we need, another generation of advanced nuclear arms technology. Do you remember drop drills, Eli?
    And while you all are drooling over Iran, what the hell is Bush doing about the insecure arsenals of nuclear weapons in Russia?
    Frankly, Eli, I am sick of this bullshit. Until WE live up to our stated expectations about international behaviours, we ought to just shut the fuck up and clean up our own act. Particularly in light of the actions of THIS nation these last six years, we certainly have no right to be pointing fingers. I never believed I could feel this ASHAMED of the actions of my own government. 600,000 dead Iraqi non-combatants, and you are already drooling over the prospect of adding Iranians to the body count? One thing is for sure, as I typed these few short paragraphs, even more Iraqi’s died because of Bush’s lies and our Congress’s willingness to ignore or abet those lies. Ask those dead Iraqis how they feel about Bush’s GWOT, and the lies it was hatched on. Ask their families. Now we are being asked to accept and believe another set of these exact same exagerations and lies?
    You know what, Eli? It ain’t no wonder they hate us, and it ain’t because of our freedoms. And it ain’t no wonder why they want nukes.
    BTW, what boogie man were you selling when Bush’s “ally”, Pakistan, was selling nuke technology to Iran and N.Korea? And how stupid do you think Americans really are?

    Reply

  48. ET says:

    Conflation 101?
    In the context of the UN condemnation of Holocaust denial on Friday, Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman made a reference to suspicions that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
    “While the nations of the world gather here to affirm the historicity of the Holocaust with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a member of this assembly is acquiring the capabilities of carrying out its own,” Gillerman said. “The president of Iran is in fact saying, ‘There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.’ ”
    Alejandro D. Wolff, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said “Iran stands alone in shame” for rejecting a resolution that was approved by consensus and sponsored by 104 countries.
    The vote came on the eve of the U.N.’s International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust.
    Venezuela, while supporting the resolution, said Israel’s “excesses under the pretext of legitimate defense has led to a new holocaust against the Palestinian people.”
    The South American country, whose President Hugo Chavez is harshly critical of U.S. foreign policy, extended the comparison to the American-led invasion of Iraq and the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
    Iran stood by its position that the Holocaust should be closely examined to determine its scope.
    “The seriousness and sincerity of this endeavor would be indeed undermined by rendering political judgments on such events and closing the door to any inquiry on their characteristics, scope and extent,” Iranian representative Hossein Gharibi said.
    Gharibi, an Iranian envoy to the United Nations, told the assembly: “In our view there is no justification for genocide of any kind, nor can there be any justification for the attempt made by some – particularly by the Israeli regime – to exploit the past crimes as a pretext to commit new genocide and crimes.”
    Excerpts from:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-holocaust27jan27,1,3679599.story?coll=la-news-a_section
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/060A9A7F-6A8C-4B96-8E69-5B158708272A.htm

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    I can’t see how Eli Lake’s comments qualify as realist. Realists are supposedly expert at interpreting the actions states from the standpoint of those states own national interests. A realist would understand how most of the Iranian actions Eli Lake decries are rational and explicable when measured by the ordinary practices of statesmanship, practices which are as ancient as the institution of the state itself.
    1. Iran sits next to a country with which it fought a long, agonzing and immensely costly war. That war occured during a time when Iraq was dominated politically by Sunni Arabs. The continuing hostility toward Iran by members of that Sunni community is manifested daily, including in Saddam’s dying curses on the “Persians” who were executing him. Iran has a clear and compelling national interest in seeing to it that Iraq does not revert to Sunni Arab rule, and therefore in doing what it can to support the Shia and Kurdish communities in Iraq in their effort to establish their rule of the country. This it has done. Indeed, one would even have to say that – as Steve notes – its behavior on theis score has been quite restrained and cautious.
    2. Iran is only a few hundred miles from Israel, a country which ALREADY possesses several hundred nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. It is also a country whose parliamentarians, ministers and military leaders issue hostile warnings, threats and predictions regarding Iran on a daily basis, and hold public conferences and mettings in which arguments and plans for attacking Iran are publicly floated. In such a circumstance, any country in the world would esteem that nuclear power to be a threat to its own security, and would provide assistance to its allies in a neighboring country to check, harass and distract. Iran’s support for Hizbollah is not much different from US support of the Afghan resistance during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It is a way of drawing its adversary’s attentions toward a local problem, and also projecting some deterent capability beyond its borders to make it clear that an attack from the adversary can be met with a counterattack from a different front.
    3. The United States has a noose around Iran’s neck. It has a presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Iraq and Azerbaijan – and it is seeking to develop a presence in Turkmenistan. It is now moving to control the Persian/Arabian Gulf with its considerable naval forces. At the same time, US officials and pundits issue daily threats against Iran. Given this level of ultra-containment, accompanied by open threats, with US swords pointed at Iranian soft spots around its borders, backed up by an Israeli air force and nuclear arsenal, the hair-pulling in the US about the risks of “appeasing” Iran, are truly comical. The Great Expanding Shia Threat is one of the biggest jokes ever told to a laugh-happy US public.
    4. Now, Iran’s greatest “cash crop” is oil. And one of its best means of defending itself lie in its ability to develop oil-related commercial dependencies, and also the prospects of its strategic positioning, to other great powers with the capacity to check US aggression and hegemonic aspirations in the region. And Iran has surely noted that about the only thing that deters the US when it is bent on rubbing out a regime is a nuclear deterent or the threat of developing one. While one might find fault with particular Iranian calculations and moves in the very high risk game it is forced to play, it is easy to see why Iran would take the sort of steps it has.
    I would add that the Shia militia movement in Iraq, which has grown increasingly violent, developed in response to unrelenting violence from the Sunni insurgency against the Shia community. That violence continues unabated. In fact it has grown even more potent in recent months, with almost daily car bombings and mass slaughter. Since the US invasion, the bulk of the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence BY FAR has been perpetrated by Sunnis against Shiites.
    The current obsession with Iran in the US is in part a consequence of inter-regional rivalry between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a very effective propaganda campaign by the latter two. The notion that Iran seeks or is in a position to achieve some sort of “total regional domination” or hegemony is an outlandish, paranoid conspiracy theory that is not at all born out by the facts. There are only a few places in the region in which there is any chance at all of Iran-aligned Shia rule being established. Most of the region, including the Arabian peninsula, North Africa and Jordan are under firm Sunni Arab control.
    One thing Iran does lack is the ability to shmooze US pundits and foreign policy professionals in Washington and the Middle East with lavish parties and flattering invitations to confabs of the powerful. So Iran has a tough time countering the Saudi’s preposterous propaganda narratives with counter-narratives of their own.

    Reply

  50. Eli Lake says:

    Easy E,
    Because all those Gulf Arab puppets controlled by America (not to mention the Levant and Egypt) have threatened to annihilate Israel since its inception.

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  51. Easy E says:

    Eli Lake – “Finally, many of you betray your own credulity if you think ISRAEL is the only power now concerned about an Iranian nuke. Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis…”
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    The “Gulf Arabs” you refer to are puppet regimes of the U.S. being railroaded into supporting Bush policies on Iran. Also, just why isn’t Israel a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty? All countries that possess nukes should be.

    Reply

  52. Eli Lake says:

    Steve,
    I concede that our diplomacy with Russia and China has not been skillful. But there has been senior level talks, it has been discussed between heads of state and it would be interesting to know what price (if any) would persuade Beijing and Moscow to isolate Iran.
    To the “What about Israel” caucus:
    Israel is not a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Thus, the IAEA lacks the authority under international law to inspect dimona. Also, the Jewish State’s nukes have been operational for about 40 years and there has not been a first strike. The sloppy references to tactical nuke threats come from anonymous sourced pieces by the Sunday Times of London and Sy Hersh in the New Yorker. Such stories are not the same as threats to incinerate cities with Atom Bombs. Also the IAEA report concedes that Iran has blocked access to sensitive sites to inspectors from the beginning of the inspections process.
    And as for the 200 inspectors still in Iran, I don’t understand the point. Unless the inspectors can go wherever they want to, then the exercise ceases to build confidence. There could be 2,000 inspectors in Iraq, it would not matter unless Iran upheld its agreement to allow spot inspections.
    Finally, many of you betray your own credulity if you think ISRAEL is the only power now concerned about an Iranian nuke. Seriously, the Gulf Arabs are now probably putting more pressure on Bush to bomb Iran than the Israelis, who are probably exploring a side agreement with Rafsanjani right now.

    Reply

  53. Pissed Off American says:

    And while we are on the subject of “blocking the IAEA”, I would like to know why Bush has consistently blocked the IAEA’s efforts to inspect the approximately twelve hazardous materials storaqe dumps in Iraq, where tons of yellowcake were allowed to be LOOTED out of these facilities immediately after the invasion. (One cursury inspection, under escort, was allowed at Tuwaitha. Otherwise, the IAEA requests to inspect the sites have been IGNORED by the Bush Administration.) I would also like to know how many Americans are aware that hazardous nuclear waste was flown out of Iraq into the United States without the oversight of the IAEA. Comforting knowing these inept bastards were instrumental in flying this shit over our heads as we slept, isn’t it?

    Reply

  54. DonS says:

    I was going to throw in the calculus of how many charred Iranian bodies (and American?) are considred acceptable to assuage Israel’s ongoing campaign. I had decided to delete it, but I see POA’s made the connexion anyway.

    Reply

  55. DonS says:

    “Whether aerial bombardment is the correct response I concede is debatable.”
    You can debate that all you want. I find it horrific that the CW around here calls starting another theatre of war “realist”. Seems like a realist is someone who has a secure bunker to retreat to or who gets paid to toss around obscene comments. Present company excepted.

    Reply

  56. Pissed Off American says:

    Realist corner? You continue to IGNORE the CIA report and the IAEA report?
    And in light of the fact that you people are continuing to do Israel’s bidding by LYING TO US, why the hell SHOULD Iran continue to humor the UN? If the IAEA issues reports that are going to be IGNORED, and if Iran faces sanctions and possible military assault DESPITE their cooperation with the IAEA, why should they continue to play the game?
    And why is Israel’s complete DEFIANCE of international protocol in regards to nuclear weapons being ignored as well? Who the hell, in the Middle East, developed nukes in underground bunkers, and LIED TO THE ENTIRE WORLD about it? Who REALLY poses a nuclear threat in the Middle East, and has both the nuclear weaponry and the missile technology to deliver Armegeddon? It sure as hell ain’t Iran, is it Steve? And what two leaders have both THREATENED the use of nuclear weapons, besides Ohlmert and this maniac Bush?
    Tell me Steve, has the IAEA ever looked at ISRAEL’S nuclear programs?
    Tell me Steve, how many UN resolutions is ISRAEL in VIOLATION OF?

    Reply

  57. Easy E says:

    The IAEA still has about 200 inspectors in Iran, so stopping 38 of them do not impede its ability to carry out inspections, according to U.N. Nuclear Chief ElBaradei. The 38 inspectors being withheld are from countries that have imposed sanctions on Iran. Let’s stop the warmongering disinformation and get the facts straight: the IAEA continues to have access to Iran. The same cannot be said about the IAEA’s access to Israel.

    Reply

  58. Steve Clemons says:

    Eli — welcome to the realist corner! I agree with a lot of what you suggest — except the point that we are working the China/Russia angle well. We haven’t really engaged China and Russia at the highest levels and assessed what their price will be for quality unified action against Iran. I am not suggesting diplomacy for diplomacy’s sake. I am suggesting that what looks like our diplomaic game today is pretty shoddy, and depends too much on other players just acquiescing to us and our views, and this includes at the UN. Let’s discuss this further as I think our positions are not that far apart. You should do an article perhaps on what China and Russia’s diplomatic price would be to seriously push Iran — and whether it is worth America paying.
    best, Steve

    Reply

  59. chophouse says:

    Eli, there is absolutely no evidence to support your statement that Iran is “building a nuke”. That is nothing but propaganda and scare mongering

    Reply

  60. Eli Lake says:

    Steve,
    I would like nothing more than for the mullahs to be snubbed by China and Russia–two countries who voted for the unanimous UNSC resolution last month. But we have been reaching out to these nations diplomatically vis-a-vis Iran. Their foreign ministers have attended parleys in Geneva, Paris and London to discuss Iranian intransigence. When Iran almost a year ago forced el-Baredei to remove the last inspector, he relented. In addition to building a nuke and defying the UN and the IAEA, their security services are paying off genocidiers in Baghdad, arming Shariacrats in Mogadishu, underwriting Syria’s sabotage of Lebanese politics, aiding Hezbollahi hostage takers in the Bekaa, and according to the Israelis causing trouble in the West Bank.
    Whether aerial bombardment is the correct response I concede is debatable. But as for negotiations, I think the civilized world must learn to take no for an answer from these terror clerics. Saying so does not make one a war monger, but instead (dare I say) a realist.
    Eli

    Reply

  61. Eli Lake says:

    Steve,
    I would like nothing more than for the mullahs to be snubbed by China and Russia–two countries who voted for the unanimous UNSC resolution last month. But we have been reaching out to these nations diplomatically vis-a-vis Iran. Their foreign ministers have attended parleys in Geneva, Paris and London to discuss Iranian intransigence. When Iran almost a year ago forced el-Baredei to remove the last inspector, he relented. In addition to building a nuke and defying the UN and the IAEA, their security services are paying off genocidiers in Baghdad, arming Shariacrats in Mogadishu, underwriting Syria’s sabotage of Lebanese politics, aiding Hezbollahi hostage takers in the Bekaa, and according to the Israelis causing trouble in the West Bank.
    Whether aerial bombardment is the correct response I concede is debatable. But as for negotiations, I think the civilized world must learn to take no for an answer from these terror clerics. Saying so does not make one a war monger, but instead (dare I say) a realist.
    Eli

    Reply

  62. DonS says:

    Iran (and its more radical current leader) may not realize that its supposed to play nice with GWB to avoid getting isolated and perhaps attacked. How much more the pity that the US “diplomatic” non-effort is run by a bunch of juvenile poseurs. Maybe someone could have acknowleded Iran’s “rights” and dignitiy as a people enough to not continually snub and provoke them on the playground. Amateurs.

    Reply

  63. tp says:

    Or, by your own logic, this may be another shrewd move or calculated risk. A rational leader might be willing to play the odds that Bush & Rice won’t embrace a diplomatic offensive, depending on the perceived gain from removing UN inspectors. Its only a mistake if the smart counter-move is made.

    Reply

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