LIVE STREAM: What Does the Iranian Public Really Think?

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The New America Foundation/Iran Initiative is hosting an event today to discuss what the Iranian public really thinks on key issues and the implications for US foreign policy.
Since the Iranian elections last June, there has been no shortage of commentary surrounding Iranian public opinion, but comparatively little evidence-based analysis.
WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO) will present the findings of an in-depth analysis of twelve well-documented polls from three different sources addressing the central questions of whether the Iranian people perceive their government as illegitimate, how they voted in the June 12th election, and how the opposition views the US and Iran’s nuclear program.
This event will STREAM LIVE today from 12:15pm – 2:15pm simultaneously here at The Washington Note and at The Race for Iran.
The full agenda is below.
Panel #1: Analysis of the Polling Data
Steven Kull
Director
WorldPublicOpinion.org
Jon Cohen
Director of Polling
Washington Post
Panel #2: Implications for U.S. Policy
Flynt Leverett
Director, Iran Initiative, New America Foundation
Publisher, The Race For Iran
Hooman Majd
Author, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ
Barbara Slavin
Author, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation
moderator
Steve Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation
Publisher, The Washington Note
— Ben Katcher

Comments

33 comments on “LIVE STREAM: What Does the Iranian Public Really Think?

  1. WigWag says:

    I hope Steve Clemons is not deterred from his idea for a debate between Flynt Leverett, Richard Haass and Robert Kagan by the fact that the Atlantic Council is planning a debate between Leverett and Michael Ledeen.
    Laura Rozen announced on her blog tonight that the details of the prize fight, I mean debate, have been finalized.
    This is what Rozen has to say,
    “Now that will be quite a debate. Michael Ledeen, the former Reagan NSC advisor involved with the early stages of Iran contra and a longtime advocate of backing regime change in Iran, debates Flynt Leverett, the former NSC official who advocates a grand bargain with Iran and has critiqued those who doubted Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy and electoral victory. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius moderates at the Atlantic Council, February 24th.”
    Haass and Kagan are both much smarter and much better debaters than Michael Ledeen. Ledeen is even too much for me even though I partially agree with him about Iran. Besides, anyone who has watched Ledeen perform at a microphone knows that he comes across as slow and poorly spoken. The one thing that he has in common with Leverett is that while they come from opposite points of view about Iran, they are both ideologues and they both tend to exaggerate. In fact, with the two of them sharing a stage, no one should worry that the facts will get in the way of what either of them has to say.
    Kagan and especially Haass are smarter, more articulate and more trustworthy than Ledeen.
    Note to Steve Clemons; your idea for a debate is better than what the Atlantic Council is planning. You should go for it!

    Reply

  2. easy e says:

    The Defense Industry and their War Profiteers thrive on fear-politics and scaring the public to justify their existance and continued spending. After the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Empire, the sheeple have bought into our potential destruction from the likes of Iraq WMD, Al Qaeda, Islamic military might, Iranian & Pakistani nukes, Dirty Bombs, etc., etc.,……all spoonfed by the Military-Industrial-Complex controlled Mainstream Corporate Media.
    Things will stay the course until federal media regulations, among other things (including ballot access), change to bring the citizenry out of its coma. Only then will there be any chance of “burning Washington to the ground and starting over”.

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  3. JohnH says:

    I didn’t see poll results posted anywhere, so here they are–
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/iran030210.html
    The reaction of Washington policy elites is quite predictable, since they had the same reaction to the “unbelievable” failure of Venezuelans to recall Hugo Chavez in 2004. Chavez won 59% of that vote. Two years later he ran for President again, garnering 63% of the vote with international observers present and publicly audited voting machines confirming the results.
    Washington simply cannot acknowledge that its candidates got crushed in a landslide. Instead of admitting failure, they impugn the legitimacy of the election.
    [I don’t know if the results presented at NAF are fresher, since the latest results in this piece are from last September. If not, I don’t know why World Public Opinion would have delayed release for 5 months.]

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  4. Carroll says:

    The most interesting thing to come out of Steve entire post to me was the World Public Opinion Poll’s findings on Iran.
    I think POA,myself and a few others on here were obviously correct in questioning the protest and exactly what it meant…and I/we did say that that the movement and it’s candidate, Mousavi,(and the protesters might not have known Mousavi as well as they thought) might not be all that much different than Ahamdinejad.
    These are a few findings of the poll:
    *An analysis of multiple polls of the Iranian public from three different sources finds little evidence to support the conclusion that the election was rigged or that Ahmadinejad didn’t win the majority vote.
    * Going into the election 57% said they expected Ahmadinejad to win. Thus it is not surprising that, in several post-election polls, more than seven in ten said they saw Ahmadinejad as the legitimate president. About eight in ten said the election was free and fair.
    * Mousavi supporters, like the general public, were quite negative in their views of the US government and were strongly committed to Iran’s nuclear program.
    * A majority of Mousavi supporters did favor diplomatic relations with the US, and were ready to make a deal whereby Iran would preclude developing nuclear weapons through intrusive international inspections in exchange for the removal of sanctions. However, this was equally true of the majority of all Iranians.
    *However none of the polls found indications of support for regime change. Large majorities, including majorities of Mousavi supporters, endorse the Islamist character of the regime such as having a body of Islamic scholars with the power to veto laws they see as contrary to sharia.”
    *Some analysts have suggested that if the opposition were to gain power this would lead to fundamental changes in the Iranian posture toward the US. Focusing on those respondents who said they voted for Mousavi, as an approximation of the opposition, PIPA found that a majority were ready to negotiate with the US on a number of issues, while the Iranian public as a whole was more divided.
    The conclusion was:
    “Steven Kull, director of PIPA, said, “Our analysis suggests that it would not be prudent to base US policy on the assumption that the Iranian public is in a pre-revolutionary state of mind.”
    So once again fellow observers…beware the media trojan horses, the agenda people and others who jump on bandwagons when they don’t know where they are headed.
    There’s been a lot of drumed up drama and rah,rah, in these protest by the usual suspects outside of Iran…the same ones that are pushing sanctions, a form of collective punishment on a population,…who hope the sanctions will make the people of Iran desperate enough to accept Uncle Sam’s rule again.
    Personally I don’t think it’s gonna work out that way.

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  5. Outraged American says:

    “Dirty bombs” aren’t that effective, except to spread paranoia,
    much like 9/11. And they’re not very easy to transport.
    Research them. IIRC maybe 10,000 casualties if set off in
    downtown LA or another densely populated center, and long term
    effects on others exposed, but hell, we caused 10,000 casualties in
    our first few days “liberating” Iraq.

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  6. questions says:

    DonS,
    You ask really good questions at the end. My answer, to the extent that it is an answer, is something like we are becoming exactly what we are.
    The state is a thing created to protect our lives, to render utterly certain our futures (that is, to create time) so that we can make plans, launch projects, do things, carry out tasks, be verbs, as it were.
    It’s hard to be a verb if there’s another verb out there like “destroy” or “explode” or “bomb” and so the goal of the state has to be to become the only source of verbs. I think I’d call this “the grammar of hegemony” were I writing it up for real.
    When the terriers provide other verbs, they interfere with ours and that interference is a source of the most fundamental fear there is — the end of being, the end of verbs, the end of time (note that time simply marks the grammar of verbs, action or change).
    If you are not a relaxed, easy-going person who doesn’t mind death in explosive and untimely fashion, the terrier threat isn’t much of a thing. Or, if you don’t fly often, or, if you feel yourself to be invulnerable, or, if you feel that the threat isn’t real, then the terriers are just barking puppies. But if your view is that you could die any second now, and you haven’t made peace with death, then you freak.
    The US has a couple of strands running through it on the terrier issue. It’s easy to demagogue the fear of death, so some pols are doing just that, there actually are some incidents and so there is some undefinable risk of untimely explosion, so it’s not hard to get worked up, and we really suck at all things death-related.
    Add to this the tendency to think, “Well, I have nothing to hide” and voila, US terrier policy.
    We could fear being picked up by the Feds and shipped off to Gitmo, but that seems far-fetched. We could simply not worry about being exploded in untimely fashion, but, hey, ya gotta freak about something. We could put the risk into perspective, but we can’t actually because we run up against epistemic limits. Unlikely but possible and utterly devastating events are difficult to “price.” Our sense of risk analysis is poor.
    So, in fact, it sadly makes a lot of sense to be terrier-anxious. When the First Amendment feels protective, we love it. When it feels risky, we trash it. We’re not committed to abstract rights, we’re committed to specific outcomes. Same with search and seizure, presidential power, and assassinations of US citizens. It’s outcomes, not principles. It’s utilitarianism, not Kantianism. Were we Kantians for real, we’d be dying like flies or like exploded bodies, but we’d be true to our principles.
    (If this post jumps more than usual, blame it on a wicked cold…. If it’s standard order for me, well, then, I’ve triumphed over a virus.)

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  7. DonS says:

    Here’s a link to Diane Rehm show.
    http://wamu.org/programs/dr/
    I’m pretty clear on my reading of what Wills was saying. Yes, it is the element of “fear” that is crucial. What he said today was that the results of doing unlawful acts, e.g., Japenese internment during WWII, were unwound after the fact; i.e., return to Constitutional norms. This changed with, e.g., the Bay of Pigs which continued as a coverup.
    The whole segment is worth listening to including for the role that the media plays in either covering up, e.g. WMD/NYT the lies, or surfacing contradictory evidence.
    Of interest to me was Wills definite opinion that Colin Powell was lied to about WMD by the necon cabal and that he did not know it when he was put up before the UN to do his dance. I’m not sure I believe it; but I don’t have Wills sources.

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  8. MarkL says:

    I have to disagree with Erichwwk on the narrow question of whether the atomic arms race was all bad, the way it played out.
    Look, the bomb was going to be developed; no amount of moralizing changes that fact.
    The atomic bomb is nearly unique among weapons in that it has NOT been used in war since WWII.
    I think the arms race and MAD can be judged a partial success simply because we have not experienced a nuclear war.
    Yes, I know there were close calls, but actual nuclear war hasn’t broken out yet, which I consider a miracle.
    The interesting, essential, morbid question about nuclear warfare that we must consider now is the following: what will the US response be if there is a terrorist attack on US soil using a nuclear weapon, or a “dirty bomb”?
    There can be no doubt that some terrorists which to make such an attack. Preventing the attack is the first priority, but I don’t even know what kind of response has been discussed in the event of a successful nuclear terrorist attack in the US (or anywhere, for that matter). Not that I read military sites—I’m sure the question has been discussed.

    Reply

  9. erichwwk says:

    Hmm. Thanks Don. S.
    I’d be interested in hearing that interview, as the impression you got from that is different than I get from the book [Bomb Power] I cited. His point in this book was specifically that it is ONLY the FEAR of war that is necessary to maintain this state in which Congress plays little effective role, and that this fear was created by the atomic bomb, and the techniques used to make Congress little more than a nuisance learned from being able to create the Manhattan project without Congressional knowledge, much less Congressional consent.
    Of course he has written MANY books, and that talk may not relate to this one. But from the inside jacket of bomb power:
    “The invention of the atomic bomb was a triumph of official secrecy and military disciple; the project was covertly funded at the behest of the President and, despite its massive scale [multiple states, billions of dollars, >100,000 employee] never discovered by Congress of the press. This concealment was perhaps to be expected
    in wartime but Wills persuasively argues that the Manhattan Project then became a model for the covert operations and overt authority that have defined American government in the nuclear era.
    Finally, the Manhattan Project inspired the vast secretive apparatus of the National Security State,including intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA, which remain largely unaccountable to Congress and to the American people”.
    My view:
    The worst part of the bomb is that it produces cancer, not brain cancer, although in fact it does that. The more serious cancer is the cancer of the mind and soul, the cancer that eats away at love, reason and compassion, and dehumanizes us to the extent that we no longer recognize, as virtually ALL of the early nuclear scientists did, that an atomic bomb is essentially a vary cruel mass genocide device, and that it should not be used, EVEN in retaliation. We have created a culture where secrecy now infests election returns, judicial decisions, condones torture, denies the public the right to know who they are the final recipients of the $180 Billion AIG payments, etc, etc.
    And worse corporations have learned, and the public accepted, the secrecy which is necessary for this control, and the military industrial contractors essentially do as they wish, with little effective deterrence from the American Public. In fact, in FY2009, 8 of the largest 10 federal contractors were nuclear weapons manufacturers.

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  10. DonS says:

    erichwwk, The Diane Rehm Show today had Wills on the program. His thesis of the development of the ‘national security state’ of course dovetails with with the Greenwald piece I linked to. Of course his thesis is built around the existence of an actual wars, whether the Revolutionary, Civil, or WWII, whereas the so called GWOT does not meet that test, much though the neocons and bedwetters may choose to wail. But his salient point that after those wars, the secrecy, lying, law breaking and general anti-constitutional behavior was specifically undone when the war was over; not so since after WWII.

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  11. erichwwk says:

    As the OT (as in “Off” Topic) is now OT (as in “On” Topic), there is now a book out by Garry Wills that shares the thesis that I do. While one could go back to the founding fathers as the root of :
    “All men are created equal, but those of wealth are created more equal than others”
    the Manhattan project that created the atomic bomb was a shift in magnitude, in terms of creating a military empire, where secrecy and executive power became the norm, with the president merely the figurehead for that office, and resource allocation decisions were made out of sight, by the governing corporate elite.
    The Project was immensely expensive, employed over 100,000 folks, yet was completed by essentially just the head of the executive branch in collusion with the head of the military. No member of Congress was in the loop, and even VP Truman was unaware of the project until after the death of FDR.
    Once the military realized how to circumvent the role of Congress in controlling the purse strings, elections and the legislative process became less and less of a part of decision making, and more and more an illusionary component offered to the public as diversionary tactic and to repel outright revolt. And now with control of the SCOTUS as well under Citizens United vs. the FEC, the governing elite have purchased an insurance policy, if all else fails, they can be out front in having Goldman Sachs be the “official” President of the United States, with Lockheed Martin as Vice President.
    We already have out Senators representing corporations, as in the Senator from Boeing, the Senator from Exxon, the Senator from ADM, the Senator from the Nuclear Industry, the Senator from Banks, etc. Why not just drop this Charade, and stop pretending we are other than a plutocracy at best? Is it not obvious that all this pomp and rhetoric is just that?
    The book is by Garry Wills and is Entitled:
    “Bomb Power:The Modern Presidency and the National Security State”
    While many others (notably Pat Moynihan) have written about the corruption of government through “secrecy” claims that usually turn out to protect malfeasance, incompetence, or political advantage, none have yet so thoroughly connected the dots on how we essentially became a military dictatorship. the book is here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Bomb-Power-Presidency-National-Security/dp/1594202400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265317218&sr=8-1

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  12. Paul Norheim says:

    It’s time for Obama to be honest and consistent, and award Addington and Yoo with the
    Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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  13. DonS says:

    Here’s another OT subject that should never be OT:
    Glenn Greenwald “on the claimed ‘war exception’ to the constitution”, and Dennis Blair’s testimony on targeting Americans for assassination.[much edited version of Glenn’s post; read the whole thing]:
    ” . . . the Obama administration has adopted the Bush policy of targeting selected American citizens for assassination if they are deemed (by the Executive Branch) to be Terrorists. . .
    Although Blair (Dennis) emphasized that it requires “special permission” before an American citizen can be placed on the assassination list, consider from whom that “permission” is obtained: the President, or someone else under his authority within the Executive Branch. There are no outside checks or limits at all on how these “factors” are weighed. . .
    ” That’s basically giving the President the power to impose death sentences on his own citizens without any charges or trial. Who could possibly support that?
    ” Remember when many Democrats were horrified (or at least when they purported to be) at the idea that Bush was merely eavesdropping on American citizens without judicial approval? Shouldn’t we be at least as concerned about the President’s being able to assassinate Americans without judicial oversight?
    “Adam Serwer wrote:
    ” This is the new normal for Republicans: You can be denied rights not through due process of law but merely based on the nature of the crime you are suspected of committing.
    “That’s absolutely true, but that also perfectly describes this assassination program — as well as a whole host of other now-Democratic policies, from indefinite detention to denial of civilian trials.
    * * * * *
    “The severe dangers of vesting assassination powers in the President are so glaring that even GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra is able to see them (at least he is now that there’s a Democratic President). At yesterday’s hearing, Hoekstra asked Adm. Blair about the threat that the President might order Americans killed due to their Constitutionally protected political speech rather than because they were actually engaged in Terrorism. This concern is not an abstract one. The current controversy has been triggered by the Obama administration’s attempt to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. But al-Awlaki has not been accused (let alone convicted) of trying to attack Americans. Instead, he’s accused of being a so-called “radical cleric” who supports Al Qaeda and now provides “encouragement” to others to engage in attacks
    “The question of where First Amendment-protected radical advocacy ends and criminality begins is exactly the sort of question with which courts have long grappled. . .
    “The Brandenburg Court pointed to a long history of precedent protecting the First Amendment rights of Communists to call for revolution — even violent revolution — inside the U.S., and explained that the Government can punish someone for violent actions but not for speech that merely advocates or justifies violence (emphasis added):
    “From all appearances, al-Awlaki seems to believe that violence by Muslims against the U.S. is justified in retaliation for the violence the U.S. has long brought (and continues to bring) to the Muslim world. But as an American citizen, he has the absolute Constitutional right to express those views and not be punished for them (let alone killed) no matter where he is in the world; it’s far from clear that he has transgressed the advocacy line into violent action. Obviously, there are those who justify such assassination powers on the ground that radical Islam is a grave threat, but that is what is always said to justify Constitutional abridgements . . . shouldn’t those who want the President to be able to assassinate American “radical clerics” without a trial also support the President’s targeting of Americans who advocate extremism or violence from a far right or extremist Christian perspective? What’s the principle that allows one but not the other?
    “In response to these concerns, Admiral Blair said yesterday: “We don’t target people for free speech. We target them for taking action that threatens Americans or has resulted in it.” But the U.S. Government — like all governments — has a long history of viewing “free speech” as a violent threat or even Terrorism. That’s why this is exactly the type of question that is typically — and is intended to be — resolved by courts, according the citizen due process, not by the President acting alone. That’s especially true if the death penalty is to be imposed.
    ” . . . Obama’s presidential assassination policy completely short-circuits that process. It literally makes Barack Obama the judge, jury and executioner even of American citizens. Beyond its specific application, it is yet another step — a rather major one — towards abandoning our basic system of checks and balances in the name of Terrorism and War. . . .
    * * * * *
    ” To justify the abridgment or even suspension of the Constitution on the ground of “war” is to advocate serious alterations to our Constitutional framework that are more or less permanent. Several points about that “war” excuse:
    “First, there’s no “war exception” in the Constitution. . . . Second, strictly speaking, we’re not really “at war,” . . Even the Bush administration conceded that this is a vital difference when it comes to legal rights.
    “Far beyond the specific injustices of assassinating Americans without trials, the real significance, the real danger, is that we continue to be frightened into radically altering our system of government. In Slate yesterday, Dahlia Lithwick encapsulated this problem perfectly . . .
    (Lithwick) ” America has slid back again into its own special brand of terrorism-derangement syndrome.
    ” Moreover, each time Republicans go to their terrorism crazy-place, they go just a little bit farther than they did the last time, so that things that made us feel safe last year make us feel vulnerable today. . . . In short, what was once tough on terror is now soft on terror. And each time the Republicans move their own crazy-place goal posts, the Obama administration moves right along with them. . . .
    ” We’re terrified when a terror attack happens, and we’re also terrified when it’s thwarted. We’re terrified when we give terrorists trials, and we’re terrified when we warehouse them at Guantanamo without trials. If a terrorist cooperates without being tortured we complain about how much more he would have cooperated if he hadn’t been read his rights. No matter how tough we’ve been on terror, we will never feel safe enough to ask for fewer safeguards. . . .
    ” But here’s the paradox: It’s not a terrorist’s time bomb that’s ticking. It’s us. Since 9/11, we have become ever more willing to suspend basic protections and more contemptuous of American traditions and institutions. The failed Christmas bombing and its political aftermath have revealed that the terrorists have changed very little in the eight-plus years since the World Trade Center fell. What’s changing — what’s slowly ticking its way down to zero — is our own certainty that we can never be safe enough and our own confidence in the rule of law.
    This descent has certainly not reversed itself — it has not really even slowed — with the election of a President who repeatedly vowed to reject this mentality. . .
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/02/04/assassinations/index.html
    And for those interested, the complete Dahlia Lithwick comment on “terrorism derangement syndrome”:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2243429
    Sorry for the length of the post. WTF is wrong with this country, and what are we becoming?

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  14. erichwwk says:

    Off topic, but the topic that SHOULD NOT ever be off topic anywhere.
    VERY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL REVIEW OF CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF DEMOCRATS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfLJIfRUBkU&feature=player_embedded

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  15. Pahlavan says:

    The reason the French are randomly rejecting the “second” uranium swap proposal is because they know the west has no intention of ever returning any enriched uranium back to Iran. The first time around they took 10 billion dollars to supply fuel for the plant in Bushehr, they never delivered the fuel nor did they ever refund their money.

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  16. Kathleen says:

    Barbara Slavin is a warmonger. Would not trust what she says.
    Wondering why Professor Juan Cole is not on that panel
    Please sign this petition whether you are Jewish or not. Please spread it far and wide. Please call, email your Reps and ask/demand that our Reps read the Goldstone Report and ask them to invite the Honorable Judge Goldstone to the hill to discuss his findings.
    Please sign this and pass it on
    http://www.petitiononline.com/UNreport/petition.html

    Reply

  17. samuelburke says:

    what do the intellectual polito types who read this site make of the western response to irans acceptance of the uranium enrichment issue?
    “French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iran’s acceptance of the deal, something France his repeatedly demanded, amounted to “buying time” and said he was “perplexed and even a bit pessimistic.” His German counterpart Guido Westerwelle said the acceptance was meaningless and called for UN sanctions against Iran for “its refusal to negotiate.”
    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/02/03/western-officials-slam-iran-for-accepting-western-demands-on-nuclear-swap/

    Reply

  18. Outraged American says:

    The final nail in the US’ coffin: the US Govt can now kill US
    citizens abroad says US Director of National “Intelligence”
    So does this mean when I make a run down to Nogales to pick
    up cheap Talavera pottery I have more to fear from my own
    government than Mexican drug cartels?
    Apparently. It’s time to change my TWN moniker to “Beyond
    Outraged American.” It’s time that the numpties in this country
    wake the hell up.
    Blair: US Govt Can Kill Citizens Overseas as Part of ‘Defined
    Policy’
    Director of National Intelligence Tells Congress Americans Can
    Be Killed Overseas
    Feb. 3, 2010
    In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee today,
    National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told representatives
    that American citizens can be assassinated by the US
    government when they are oveseas.
    Blair said the comments were intended to “reassure” Americans
    that there was a “set of defined policy and legal procedures” in
    place and that such assassinations are always carried out by the
    book.
    Continues (H/T antiwar.com)
    http://tinyurl.com/yc932jr
    And then this — Google is partnering with the NSA (National
    “Security” Agency for those under three and/ or never been
    wiretapped)
    http://tinyurl.com/ydqbjv4

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  19. DonS says:

    Leverett’s comparison between the way the US govt treats the results of the Iranian elections — insisting on their invalidity — and the way that the US govt went though transparent kabuki to “fall over itself”, as he put it to, install Karzi after international objection to fraud in Afghanistan, was telling. Slavin sought to mock Leverett’s analogy, but it clearly shows the thinly veiled “objectivity” with which the US seeks to manipulate the perception of international events. In the case of Iran, the US is reading tea leaves to seek to further destabilize the regime. While supposedly trying to hold off “cooperative” Israel from attacking. Very dangerous attempt at ‘balance’.

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  20. Outraged American says:

    Matt, I went to antiwar rallies in the run-up to Afghanistan and Iraq
    Part Two. The police presence there was menacing: I met elderly,
    completely non-violent, protesters who had been arrested and
    treated horribly by the LAPD.
    At one protest, after Junior wasn’t elected the second time, tanks,
    or at least what looked like tanks, showed up, replete with men in
    camouflage carrying guns. They blocked the street in front of us.
    This was in Westwood, a very posh area of LA right next to the
    UCLA campus.
    Tell me it can’t happen here, and I’ll tell you I’ve already seen the
    beginning.

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  21. M. S. says:

    Is there any way we can get the transcript?!

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  22. Carroll says:

    I am impressed with Leverett as always.
    Slavin?…not so much. she seems to have some kind of “fixed ideology”..neoliberal interventionist would be my guess.
    And she has a leaning toward the Israeli view.
    Good job Steve…but one of these days I want to see you bring on some non ideological, non political, non think tankers, non org members…maybe some “pure” ME academics…to discuss Iran, it’s “id’ and it’s people.
    Meanwhile I keep looking for some actual facts on exactly how and with what Iran would bomb or deliver a nuke to the US and destroy us all.
    So far I haven’t found any.
    Haven’t even found where Iran has threatened the US or any other country except Israel and exactly how they threatened Israel is questionable…and to date Iran hasn’t tried to get any country to bomb Israel for them.
    I can’t take this Iran hype seriously in any way except the US desire to preserve the status quo in the ME and Israel’s constant demand that we wipe iran out for them. I can’t take the nuclear proliferation excuse seriously either since we are not having fits about Pakistan or Isr’s nukes.
    It’s the Iraq hype all over again.

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  23. JohnH says:

    Yes, all the bleating about the “poor people of Iran” is clearly intended just to make a rhetorical point. If Washington gave a whit about “the people,” they could complain about human rights abuses in Honduras or make sure that Americans get jobs and health care.
    Whenever I hear about Washington supporting “the people,” I know immediately that they are just dengrating a government they don’t like.

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  24. Dan Kervick says:

    Great panel, Steve; and a constructive one.
    Steve, you posed a question regarding changing attitudes among Sunni Arab leaders, who appear to be less worried now about Iran than they were a few years ago. It occurs to me that those leaders have just calmed down a bit, and have stopped listening to the echoes from their own 2007 and 2008 echo-chamber – amplified by Bush administration propaganda – about the threat of the “Shia crescent” or Shia hegemony in the region, concerns that were always a wildly exaggerated reaction to the expansion of Iranian influence that followed the Iraq War. (Or were in some cases just a case of opportunistic adoption, for the benefit of American listeners, of the messages that seemed to be favored at the time in Washington.)
    I have been asking for years where this so-called hegemony is to be found, since it seems clear to anyone who looks at a map and knows anything at all about the power relations in the broader Middle East that Iran possesses nothing even *close* to hegemony in the region. There is indeed a significant expansion of Iranian influence because of the rise if majority Shia power in Iraq following the war – but it comes nowhere near hegemony. My own view, which I have expressed frankly several times, is that the expansion of Iranian influence is a good thing, at least if dealt with wisely by Washington, because a balance of power between the new Iraq-Iran bloc and Arab Peninsula bloc of the oil powers is good for the US, and good for long-term security in the region, especially given the fact that the hot-beds of the most violent extremism in the country are in Sunni countries, and that these are movements that the Iranians probably have a fairly good fix on.
    I hope the beltway sees the video of your panel, particularly the first half, and realizes that in the face of actual Iranian public opinion – to the best extent that we can understand it – the emerging regime change policy blowing out of Washington over the past few weeks faces, at the very least, a very, very hard uphill climb, and is most likely a prescription for failure, futility and a return to US international isolation and self-induced weakness. The US government is in danger of replicating the errors of the Bush administration by obstinately and dogmatically insisting on global cooperation with a Hail Mary policy that very few countries are seriously inclined to pursue in the first place, and most likely can’t be sustained over time. The US Congress, in particular, needs to remove their blundering, ham-handed and demagogic approach to foreign policy from the arena. Congress is significantly responsible for starting us down the corpse-strewn Iraq road in 1998, and they are playing the same stupid and reckless political games now.
    Slavin’s initial presentation was good, but her resistance to the China analogy, and her fixed insistence on the point that “Iran is Iran” and can’t be compared to anything else, strikes me as just frustrated denialism. I was also put off by what seemed to be her suggestion that the reason that we can’t undertake the kind of opening toward Iran that Nixon undertook toward China is that too many Americans have seen bad stuff happening to Iranians on You Tube. But resisting these kinds of short-range popular sentimental reactions to the Daily Outrage is precisely what responsible national leadership is supposed to do. Should Iranians back off of an opening to the US because they can see cruise the web and watch videos of Rodney King getting beaten up or Branch Davidians being burned alive?

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  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What a crying shame that we see the intellectual arguments being made in the “interests” of the average Iranian “man on the street”, but the moral argument is an obvious charade, underscored as such by the lack of discourse about Israel’s treatment of protestors.
    One can only consider this “concern” for the welfare, rights, and freedoms of Iranians as pure political posturing, in light of the silence about Israeli nighttime raids against the homes of people protesting the ILLEGAL separation wall.
    And why are these people such as Wig-wag or Slavin so quick to condemn abuses against protestors in Iran, yet silent about abuses of protestors in Gaza or the West Bank?
    This is political. And make no mistake, if it fits an agenda, these people expressing sympathy and concern for the likes of Neda, will turn right around and advocate incinerating a few hundred thousand “Nedas” without batting an eye.
    These butchers in Israel just acquited the IDF storm troopers that shot Tristan Anderson, at close range, in the head, rendering him comatose. His crime? He was standing on the periphery of a protest that had already ended.
    Have you seen this ass kissing AIPAC queen Hillary Clinton EVER mention Tristan’s name?? Obama??? Any of these subservient mewling cowards in DC? Have ANY of them made a fuss about an American citizen GUNNED DOWN while doing NOTHING to threaten Israel except be sympathetic to a protest of an internationally recognized ILLEGAL wall??? Have ANY of them protested or made an issue of how Israel treats protestors?
    What a bunch of insincere horseshit, this so called “concern” for the Iranian people. Ask the 500,000 dead Iraqi infants, killed by the ’92 thru ’03 sanctions, how much “concern” we have for nations whose leaders we demonize and whose people we feign concern for.

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  26. Outraged American says:

    I just want Steve to spell out exactly how Iran in a threat to the US.
    Easy e, there’s an amazing rainbow outside, look towards Piestewa
    Peak.

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  27. Pahlavan says:

    This was an excellent livestream and the organizers and participants should be commended for their work and effort.
    Although I must confess that I bailed back to work before Barbara Slavin took the mic. Mainly because of her earlier post on TWN, which fell very short in translation, depth or the comprehension of the “Expert” in what is supposedly her own subject matter.

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  28. Steve Clemons says:

    I thought that all of the panelists were solid. Thanks for the comments above — and thanks in particular to WigWag whose enthusiasm for the meeting really generated quite a bit of interest in the meeting from people who subsequently emailed after seeing Wig’s comments.
    best, steve clemons

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  29. Ken Donow says:

    Kudos to Steve Kull and Jon Cohen for their clear-headed presentation of research. If every survey done since 12 June comes to the roughly similar conclusion, that the government won re-election with about 60% of the vote, the arguments based on personal opinion or on what-everybody-knows stand out as beside the point. These data can’t be made up.
    Gracious, I thought Barbara Slavin came off badly. I thought she was clueless about the process of gathering information about public opinion. One can sympathize with the Green movement, but, until the facts that we have are refuted by other facts, then sympathies are sympathies and that’s all that they are.
    I was impressed with Flynnt Leverett, although the point about China at the end was taking the realist paradigm a bit too far.

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  30. DonS says:

    Agreed, excellent panel. My takeaway did not find Barbara Slavin nearly so impressive, and thought she was actually a bit impetuous and petty in her efforts to pick at Leverett, e.g., rushing to point to when it was Iran who had back away from engagement. She did try to clean up her nitpicking by noting the US and Iran have often been out of sync.
    Particularly note Majd emphasis on the importance of US engagement with Iran to the US achieving any big strategic goals in the ME.
    Also found the equation of Nixon going to China quite apposite in terms of the low esteem in which China was held in the US at the time, with much good reason. Also the parallel also with the Is/ Egypt peace deal when Sadat was thought a lightweight. Slavin’s rejoinder that the internet renders the China comparison irrelevant was weak.

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  31. WigWag says:

    “Obama’s willingness to meet with the Dali Lama…”
    I meant “Dalai Lama.” Sorry for the mistake.

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  32. WigWag says:

    What a truly excellent seminar!
    All the speakers were informative and eloquent. Barbara Slavin was particularly impressive; Hooman Maid took his usual position in the middle both figuratively and literally (he sat between Slavin and Leverett) and Leverett managed to keep his penchant for hyperbole mostly in check.
    Steve Clemons did a masterful job as always, although I have to admit that watching him moderate the discussion put me in mind of Alex Trebek hosting Jeopardy.
    Steve’s idea for a similar meeting with Richard Haas, Flynt Leverett and Robert Kagan is an excellent one. If he does put this together, I hope he will permit us to watch it by doing a web broadcast as he did with this seminar.
    At the end of the meeting when Steve brought up China, I think Barbara Slavin got it right. She dismissed Leverett’s theory about a similarity between China in the 1960s and Iran in the 21st century as if it was the ranting of an immature graduate student.
    She also gently took Steve Clemons to task for his apocalyptic view of what the Obama Administration’s latest moves pertaining to China mean. She suggested that the arms sale to Taiwan was merely the legitimate adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act and she pointed out that Obama’s willingness to meet with the Dali Lama was nothing new; after all his predecessors had done the same thing.
    Flynt Leverett’s ridiculous final comment that the Obama Administration was allowing the argument about sanctions on Iran to destroy its relationship with China was, as usual, over the top as was his assertion that somehow the United States was likely to suffer economically if China flexed its financial muscle. The naivety of Leverett’s views about this is hard to overstate.
    Overall, it was an excellent discussion.
    Congratulations again to Steve Clemons.

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