Nelson Report Says Bush Still on Diplomatic Track with Iran

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Chris Nelson who writes the bloggish “Nelson Report“, rarely posted on the internet and just packed with great analysis and often good gossip, has a good report on Iran tonight. I post this in full with his permission.
I should note that when I last wrote about Iran, I stated that analysts I recently met with think that even if there is only a bleak binary option of either acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear pretensions or bombing Iran, the diplomatic option must be ‘credibly’ pursued. Rumsfeld and Cheney are making the feat of credible diplomacy more difficult, but it is clear that even if he attends to strike Iran later, Bush must ‘act’ like he is pursuing non-military options.
Tomorrow though, Iran will spurn the UN Security Council deadline.
Here is Chris Nelson’s superb analysis of the Iran mess as it is thus far:

The Nelson Report — Samuels International Associates
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
BUSH IRAN FOCUS STILL TALK, NOT FIGHT, DESPITE US MILITARY FEARS
SUMMARY: Iran will not “meet the deadline” tomorrow at the UNSC to suspend its nuclear activities. . .that everyone accepts without question. So the US will follow-through with its determination to pursue a sanctions regime, via a second resolution, one with the continued support of the EU, Russia and China.
Also note that while Iran won’t meet the deadline, it’s response is not expected to be a clear “no”, although this may be difficult to discern, given the usual rhetorical habits of President Amadenijad. More on Iran’s possible negotiating position, below.
Further, say our sources, the White House fully understands that it is embarking on a process of weeks, even months, and that if the US pushes too hard, or demands the impossible, that both China and Russia will drop out of the international coalition, thus reducing US options, and raising international fears of a genuine crisis.
Full acceptance of the current White House posture remains to be gained, given continued opposition to serious negotiations with Iran held by Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. That’s why mistrust of the motives and judgment of the Bush Administration remains strong, within the US military establishment quite as much as with US friends and allies, and in both parties on Capitol Hill.
Everyone should calm down a bit, while remaining vigilant of both Bush and Iran, say sources who feel they are familiar with the real intentions of the President at this time.
No one, of course, is comfortable predicting the internal workings of the Iranian regime. But it sounds like the President, at least for now, is listening to Secretary of State Condi Rice, who in turn is listening to Undersecretary for Political Affairs (and possible Deputy Secretary to be?) Nick Burns. The result: Burns will be in Europe next week, testing the waters to see just how far the EU is prepared to go on sanctions to pressure Iran.
The real conversation, of course, will be between Burns and the Russians, and the assessment of Moscow’s willingness to allow anything more than very limited sanctions remains what it has been for months.
So, say sources familiar with the current White House thinking, Burns’ task will be to keep the EU, Russia and China on the same page. The anticipated agenda will discuss specific, very limited sanctions such as partial travel bans, and possible bans on nuclear related sales, perhaps also weapons. . .all to be hammered out over the next few weeks.
This elastic sense of timing is key to understanding the nature of the current stage of the Iranian nuclear “crisis”, our sources argue. While they understand that the US military community is aghast at the very notion of a shooting war with Iran (and Rumsfeld’s latest bloviations show exactly why the brass detests and mistrusts him, not to mention Capitol Hill critics now being accused of “appeasement”) our sources maintain that barring some dramatic move or provocation by Iran, the President’s focus remains on a diplomatic track.
Assuming that Burns’ negotiations start to bear fruit, and at some point this Fall the UNSC agrees to a program of limited, targeted sanctions, it still will take months, not weeks, to see what effect, if any, those sanctions are having on Iranian policy and nuclear programs.
This means that there will be ample time, and constant opportunity, for Burns and Secretary Rice to keep US allies calm, and to keep at least a façade of unity, while exploring quiet negotiations with Tehran over possible solutions to the crisis.
That’s the current, hoped for scenario, our sources maintain. But of course there must be planning for “what if” the UN process starts to break down, or just fails quickly. That would seem to open the door for the more testicular thinking of Cheney and Rumsfeld, however much the President is represented as understanding the need for time and care.
But if the UN track seems to falter, then expect the President to authorize the “coalition of the willing” approach to more a more vigorous sanctions regime, one which will bring new pressures and tensions between the US and current allies.
Expect, for example, renewed emphasis by Treasury on going after trade credits, lending and investments in Iran, which means deepening the current dialogue with the EU and Japan (a replication of the current, increasingly successful efforts against N. Korea).
In short, sources maintain that military moves are not on the agenda, even as contingencies. . ..at this time. . .and despite Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neo-con die-hards who have learned nothing from Iraq.
That assessment relies on current intelligence estimates that even if Iran continues, without check, its current course of nuclear research and development, that it would not be able to produce a workable nuclear bomb any sooner than four years from now. Bearing in mind that all such estimates are guesstimates, four years is an eternity in politics, and it helps explain why President Bush, at least for now, thinks he has time to give diplomacy a real chance.
So that leads us to the question of whether Iran is simply playing a stalling game, and that it will stall right up to an announcement that a bomb is ready. . .something many observers of N. Korea now think is clearly the case for the DPRK.
About the only thing our sources agree upon is that the Iranians are immensely clever and sophisticated negotiators. But for every expert who thinks that a real Grand Bargain, or leveraged buyout of the Iranian nuclear weapons program is possible (you know the suggested “package”, which includes full diplomatic relations, trade, etc., etc.) there are experts who continue to maintain it’s all a trick.
Certainly, the State Department is willing to let time produce some of the answers, and to send interesting signals. . .see the decision to grant a visa to former President Khatami, who will deliver peace lecture, no less, at the National Cathedral in Washington, on Sept. 7. State claims there are no plans for private meetings with the presumed leader of Iran’s presumed moderate faction, but you can be the judge of the likelihood of letting that opportunity go by.

Nick Burns is an extremely capable diplomat, but part of the problem in this particular diplomacy is that Iran’s leadership weighs the value and consequences of a hot collision with America differently.
Former Iran President Khatami — who will be in Washington on September 7 — wants to avoid further aggravation and tension, but he’s not going to run against the perceived will of the majority of the Iranian public and step away from nuclear energy. There are lots of options on how that path can be maintained in Iran without proceeding down a war path.
The problem, however, is that I feel that Ahmadinejad does invite war. It’s the easiest way for him to validate himself as the new true leader of the Middle East. America must not give this guy what he wants. He’s egging Bush on with the call for a debate, for christening the start of a major heavy water nuclear reactor, and other obnoxious moves.
More later. But thanks to Chris Nelson for this great thinking and writing.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Nelson Report Says Bush Still on Diplomatic Track with Iran

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  4. Den Valdron says:

    Yep, yet another hysterical article from Steve expounding on the imaginary Iranian threat.
    The Iranian threat, as nearly as I can determine, consists of the Iranians refusing to surrender immediately and outright on every point of dispute, and continuing to undertake activities which they have the legal right to do, under non-proliferation treaties. The issue of the day would seem to be Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program, repeatedly renounced by the Iranians, but still putting the fears into the US.
    It’s both tiresome and boring.
    I find myself wondering if, back in the day, Steve was wildly in support of the invasion of Iraq?
    And before that, in the previous day, Steve saw the merit in the Bush administration’s decision to focus on rogue states and ignore stateless terrorism.

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  5. Pissed Off American says:

    “In short, sources maintain that military moves are not on the agenda, even as contingencies. . ..at this time. . .and despite Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neo-con die-hards who have learned nothing from Iraq.”
    Israel will make the initiial “miltary moves”, and we will be “sucked into” it by design.

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  6. David Studhalter says:

    Interesting analysis and comments. But Mr. Nelson needs an editor. Too many spelling and punctuation errors.

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  7. Hedley Lamarr says:

    Why are offers for meetings and debates called obnoxious? Since when did Nicholas Burns start working for peace in the ME? Since when are we the ones who decide who gets nuclear power?

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  8. ahem says:

    “In short, sources maintain that military moves are not on the agenda, even as contingencies. . ..at this time. . .and despite Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neo-con die-hards who have learned nothing from Iraq.”
    But there’s a dangerous diplomatic double-game at work, driven in part by the election cycle. Jaw-jaw is not what the GOP base wants to see right now, alas, and although saber-rattling in public to appease that base might also have a diplomatic purpose, it runs the risk of forcing the White House to deliver — and deliver in the only way possible given the state of ground forces right now.
    If the UN process gets us past November, then it will have succeeded. After that, what’s needed — as always in situations like this — is a solution that allows both sides to act as if they’ve won. And Iraq, of course, is a factor that can’t be accounted for in any reliable way.

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  9. bAkho says:

    It would be utterly stupid for the US to attack Iran. I have no confidence in Bush foreign policy or State under the leadership of Rice. Bush has made too many mistakes and refuses to even admit mistakes let alone learn from them. Rice was the worst NSA in the history of the job. I would no more trust her judgement on Iranian aquisition of nukes than her faulty judgement on the crackup of the FSU (and her a supposed “Soviet expert”).
    The Bush administration has an ideological perspective that is not shared by most Americans. But they have intimidated all critics to get a free pass on their whack. The Bush administration is terribly misguided and full of mischief. They need more policy guidance from the American people.

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  10. tucker's bow tie says:

    marky,
    I don’t think Chris Nelson calling anything right or wrong here but summarizes, courtesy of Steve, the perspective from his sources for you and me. I read this as a sign that the situation is already so bizarre and crazy that dissenting voices from the inside need to be publicized through channels like this.
    In any case, I totally agree with Dirk further up: Let’s call a spade a spade:
    A Heavy Water Plant IS NOT a Nuclear Reactor. Period. See Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk and Cheryl Rofer for more.
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1172/heavy-water-plant-not-nuclear-reator
    By the way, check out George Perkovich, Barbara Slavin, Ray Takeyh, Trita Parsi and Jim Walsh on Iran. (NOTE: the conference call audio is up until the end of today only, so go there now if you’re interested.)
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1170/iran-ear-candy
    Also, while you’re at ArmsControlWonk, read Gary Sick on the recent “Fleitz of Fancy”..

    Reply

  11. btree says:

    marky,
    I don’t think Chris Nelson calling anything right or wrong here but summarizes, courtesy of Steve, the perspective from his sources for you and me. I read this as a sign that the situation is already so bizarre and crazy that dissenting voices from the inside need to be publicized through channels like this.
    In any case, I totally agree with Dirk further up: Let’s call a spade a spade:
    A Heavy Water Plant IS NOT a Nuclear Reactor. Period. See Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk and Cheryl Rofer for more.
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1172/heavy-water-plant-not-nuclear-reator
    By the way, check out George Perkovich, Barbara Slavin, Ray Takeyh, Trita Parsi and Jim Walsh on Iran. (NOTE: the conference call audio is up until the end of today only, so go there now if you’re interested.)
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1170/iran-ear-candy
    Also, read Gary Sick on the recent “Fleitz of Fancy”:
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1171/tcb-on-fleitz-of-fancy

    Reply

  12. eCAHNomics says:

    mlaw230 beat me to one of my points–Ahmedinejad is doing just what Rove would do in similar circumstances. In my words, the only reaction to a bully (W) is to bull him back.
    As for Iran’s possible military & other objectives, please remember that in the neighborhood, Israel, Saudi Arabia (LOL), and Pakistan all have more powerful militaries & 2/3 have nukes. So just what do you think Iran is going to do, huh? Worst case: act thru proxies, which doesn’t hurt the U.S.
    So take a deep breath and construct your air raid shelters in preparation for when W starts nuking Iran before his term is up, as he has promised.

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  13. Dirk says:

    Let’s just get one thing straight about the alleged “heavy water reactor”.
    The actual “reactor” is not due to be completed until 2009, that’s right 2009. What was completed was the plant that produces the “heavy water”. Here is one accurate news article from AFP via yahoo:
    “http://tinyurl.com/galsw
    Please note: my preference would be that Iran worked with a “light water reactor”, which produces a minimal amount of plutonium.

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  14. Carroll says:

    Why the Dems Will make no difference…the assault on the Palestines and the ME will continue one way or another, thru war or trade embargos…there will be no fair settlement…the US will continue spending billions on Israel….they are all whores…Vote them out…all of them…start over.
    Get ready for the Democrats
    By Shmuel Rosner
    WASHINGTON – Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, ran into a problem – he unintentionally found himself in the camp of Israel’s enemies. All he wanted was an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon. A few weeks ago, as the war raged, he sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and asked her to do something. He was trying to take aim at the Bush administration – which is what a Democrat is expected to do on the eve of elections – but it turned out that this is not how Israel’s friends saw things. Van Hollen was called in for a little chat with officials from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
    Some accepted his explanations – he did not apologize, just clarified his statements – but others thought that was not enough and that Van Hollen had crossed the red line.
    At the root of the American administration’s support for Israel lies the assumption that this is not a subject of controversy. One can attack George W. Bush, but not at Israel’s expense. Van Hollen’s district in Maryland is very pro-Democrat, and is also populated by many Jews. Some of them may reconsider their congressional choice.
    Advertisement
    The midterm election campaign committee is scheduled to meet next week and throw the Democrats in high gear, which will probably lead them to victory. They can expect to take over the House of Representatives for the first time after a decade of Republican control, and they may even succeed in gaining control of the Senate. Until the 2008 presidential elections, political life will look different. The president will lack a congressional majority, and some of the most senior senators will be busy trying to win reelection campaigns.
    The pro-Democrat voters are eager for a victory. Their support for Israel is stable, but their views differ from those of the Republicans. A Pew survey taken three weeks ago showed an interesting response to how much the U.S. should be involved in Lebanon. Most Republicans felt that the administration is intervening appropriately; however, many of the Democrats felt their country should be both “much more involved” and “much less involved.” In this they reflected two common approaches of voters on the left: that calling for diplomatic intervention to settle conflicts, and that demanding the U.S. avoid interfering in such areas.
    The main issues on the Middle East agenda will surely be influenced by a Democratic victory in the elections. Most of the Democratic voters no longer support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, but they may change their minds. They will want to dispose of the problem, and not retain it for the next president to deal with, one who may be from their ranks. On the issue of Iran they face a dilemma: should they bypass President Bush on the right and present themselves as hawks, or should they take a moderate stance and present the administration as threatening to draw America into another military adventure?
    The basic attitude of Congress toward Israel is not likely to change, according to some AIPAC officials busy trying to insure just that. Given history they are likely to be correct, and the general support can be expected to continue. But there are times when the details also matter.
    When a congressional majority comes from the ranks of the opposition, it may choose to fall in line with the president or to attack his administration. If it chooses to attack – it has the option of doing so from the right or the left. Traditionally, supporters of Israel have managed to keep its interests bipartisan. However, this task may now become more complicated: So long as Israel’s affairs were at the sidelines of the American political agenda, an opposition party could easily forgo using it as a tool to confront the administration – since it was not a controversial issue. However, as the issues pertaining to Israel become increasingly central to U.S. foreign policy, it becomes more enticing to make use of them for political purposes.
    The crisis with Iran, Lebanon, terrorism, the confrontation with Islam, democratization in the Middle East and the price of oil – these are all issues directly linked to Israel. Can a Democratic Congress avoid using these against the president, sometimes even at Israel’s expense? This is an intriguing question. A partial answer has already been offered by Chris Van Hollen, and this does not necessarily herald easy days to come.

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  15. Carroll says:

    http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/winter_2003/ft_diplomat.html
    Interesting article on Nick Burns for those interested.

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    BTW…anyone have any idea who this “high ranking US official” is?..considering that we just gave Israel an extra 3 year extension on our 10 billion loan to them..in addition to their usual 3 to 5 billion in aid this year…I want to see this congress give those midget nazis one more dime of taxpayer money.
    US may consider additional aid to IDF
    By YAAKOV KATZ
    If Israel asks, the US would “seriously consider” granting the Defense Ministry additional financial assistance because of the huge expenses incurred during the war in Lebanon, ….a high-ranking US diplomat revealed Wednesday.
    According to ministry estimates, Israel spent close to NIS 30 billion on ammunition, fuel and other expenses during the war. The defense establishment has already asked the Treasury to be compensated for that amount. The US provides Israel with military assistance of more than $2b. annually.
    “A request has not yet come,” the US official said. “But we would consider it seriously.”
    According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, the government was considering asking for additional aid – one report said a request might be for $2b. There was also talk in Washington of a large-scale financial package to help rebuild southern Lebanon, in part to keep the Iranians out of the process. Israel was apparently hoping to fold its aid request into this package.
    He said the US viewed Israel as the victor in the war from a military perspective, although not from a political standpoint. “Militarily, Israel did more damage to Hizbullah,” he said. “Hizbullah suffered greater damage.”

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  17. Carroll says:

    I don’t think Ahmadinejad “wants” a war….but I think he has thought about “preparing” for one.
    It is a mistake to me for anyone to assume he is some egotiscal buffon. I think he is perfectly capable of playing the limelight for effect and to impress the Arab world, and at the same time be calculating all possible moves and outcomes.
    Just like Putin,… men like these two don’t survive in the enviroments they have navigated in by being stupid. If he is presenting himself as a wildcard in this game there is a stragety behind it.

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  18. Marky says:

    A person who thinks that Ahmedinejad wants war with the US is truly a lunatic. What he wants, obviously, is to taunt Bush and NOT be attacked. He gains greatly in stature this way. On the other hand, if Iran is attacked, possibly with nuclear weapons, his homeland will be utterly destroyed. Even if the US will not be able to hold the territory, do you really think Ahmedinejad wants to follow down the path Iraq has taken? That’s just crazy talk.
    The degree of insanity among the so-called sensible moderates of this country is breathtaking. This goes double for the people who seriously believe that Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel.
    Now, you might use Osama as someone who truly wanted a war… but Osama is stateless, and wasn’t bringing down a war on his own country.
    For all that he wanted to see Iraq attacked, do you really think he wants to see Saudi Arabia attacked by the United States? I am almost certain, based on his stated beliefs, that a US attack on Saudi Arabia is the last thing Osama wants.

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  19. Easy E says:

    Posted by steve at August 30, 2006 07:55 PM:
    …..The problem, however, is that I feel that Ahmadinejad does invite war. It’s the easiest way for him to validate himself as the new true leader of the Middle East. America must not give this guy what he wants. He’s egging Bush on with the call for a debate, for christening the start of a major heavy water nuclear reactor, and other obnoxious moves.
    Steve, I must say your analysis is quite disturbing. How does this differ from extreme right neocon position that wants absolutely no debate or diplomacy??? Sad.

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  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve wrote:
    ***The problem, however, is that I feel that Ahmadinejad does invite war. It’s the easiest way for him to validate himself as the new true leader of the Middle East. America must not give this guy what he wants. He’s egging Bush on with the call for a debate, for christening the start of a major heavy water nuclear reactor, and other obnoxious moves.***
    On the contrary, Steve. I believe that while Ahmadinejad does indeed enjoy and seek rivalry with the US, which elevates his global profile, and gives him the global audience he craves, he does not want war. I don’t think Ahmadinejad is eager to gamble his rising stature on a war that – even if it goes well for Iran as a whole – may end him up with him dead or rotting in some US dungeon like Saddam or Noriega.
    First, his ambitions are global, not just regional. Much like his friend Chavez, he appears to see himself as the leader of a sort of global movement presenting a new civilizational model to the world, based on the traditional political and social morality of the monotheistic religions, on economic justice, and on opposition to the dominant Western powers. A good part of his rhetorical appeal is grounded in his castigations of the military aggression and selfish individualism he sees represented by Western liberal democracy, particularly the British and American models. I don’t think real war is part of his game plan – although I’m sure he is preparing for the possibility – but he does seek to goad the US into an increasingly bellicose, imperial posture, so Iran can benefit politically from US high-handedness and domineering.
    I would recommend re-reading the letter he wrote to Bush on May 9th. In my view, that letter is the real deal – it present the real Ahmadinejad, and must have been written by Ahmadinejad himself, given its stylistic exhuberance and absense of diplomatic polish. It contains passages such as this:
    **Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?
    Do you think present policies can continue?
    If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states, and extinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts, were would the world be today? Would not your government and people be justifiably proud?.**
    I think we also have to understand that this guy loves to talk. That should be something we can use to our advantage. Ahmadinejad apparently has a lot he needs to get off his chest. He writes long letters and gives long speeches. He craves the spotlight and an audience. He doesn’t play things close to the vest. His vision and ambitions are out there for all to see. What, I wonder, will he trade in exchange for an opportunity to declaim his vision to an American audience?
    I think the debate proposal is completely in earnest. Ahmadinejad believes that in a head to head with Bush, he will absolutely win, have the better of the arguments, and accumulate global friends and followers in the process. He even thinks he can win over the American people if he can find a way to get through what he sees as the opaque wall of US government and US media propaganda, suppression and disinformation.
    I don’t particularly see either the reactor opening or the debate offer as “obnoxious” moves, although the debate call for debate is humorous and immediately puts Bush in a bad light.
    Probably among the Washington power elite, Ahmadinejad is seen as just a cretin and a buffoon, who nobody can take seriously. Their reaction is a haughty or sniggering one: “Oh that rube! What effrontery! What gall! How dare he seek an open debate with, and honest interrogation of, the President of the United States! Doesn’t he know that not even Americans themselves receive that sort of consideration from their chief public servant? What does he think this is? The British House of Commons?!”
    But I wonder if that is the view shared everywhere else in the world. I imagine that around the world there are many people saying today “what are the Americans afraid of?” The sniffing American rejection of the debate proposal only cements the growing view of Washington as the new Kremlin. If America has the strongest case, people will surely ask, why are they afraid to make it publicly and defend themselves in debate? If Ahamdinejad’s case is so weak, why is he the one willing to lay it out before the world?
    Here is Ahmadinejad:
    “Isn’t it time that international relations are founded on democracy and equal rights of the nations?” he asked. “I suggest holding a live TV debate with Mr George W. Bush to talk about world affairs and the ways to solve those issues.
    “The debate should be go uncensored in order for the American people to be able to listen to what we say and they should not restrict the American people from hearing the truth.”
    I’m not saying it’s not a very clever move. Ahmadinejad knows Bush is an idiot in global affairs, and would probably be made to look so. And he knows Bush and his handlers know this. If the US President was Clinton, or even someone like Nixon, perhaps he wouldn’t be so eager to jump into the fray. If Ahmadinejad pulled his Holocaust denial crap on Clinton, the latter would be wll-prepared to obliterate him with facts.
    I have to say, it’s a sad day when Americans, the supposed apostles of openness and democracy, would describe any offer to debate as “obnoxious.” Why has America become the country of silence and secrecy, and given our rivals the golden opportunity of presenting themselves as the advocates of open debate?

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  21. marky says:

    I have a question about (for) Chris Nelson.
    Back in 2002, did he believe that war with Iraq was a done deal, or did he beleive that Colin Powell was providing a moderating influence and that negotations were likely to succeed in averting war?
    I don’t know what the answer is, but I would find Nelson’s reassurances more comforting if I knew that he called it right in 2002.

    Reply

  22. Marc says:

    fyi:
    taken from http://www.juancole.com
    “…I object to the characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having “threatened to wipe Israel off the map.” I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel’s Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people.
    But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.”

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  23. Marc says:

    Ahmadinejad was misquoted on his desiring the destruction of Israel (see correct translation at juancole.com). Iran signed on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allowing them the technology legally. No verifiable evidence has been given that proves Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. So then why is a military option being considered? Because their government calls ours the ‘Great Satan’? They do so because we overthrew their democratically elected premier in the early 1950s on behalf of British oil interests and installed a horrific dictator, the Shah, who ruled until the Revolution of 1979. Our leaders need a history lesson first and foremost.

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  24. daCascadian says:

    mlaw230 >”…How long has Iran maitained this supposed atipathy toward Israel? I do not recall it in real terms…”
    Well they have, apparently, had “back channel” activity for decades; see Iran-Contra etc
    When in a house of mirrors beware what you think you see…
    Smoke screen might apply
    “…the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion…but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” – Samuel P. Huntington

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  25. Mike Gredell says:

    I really don’t know why anyone would characterize R. Nicholas Burns as “an extremely capable diplomat.” Certainly not based on his public utterances: see Der Spiegel interview 12/20/05, for example. I think “an extremely insulting person” describes him better.

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  26. John says:

    News of US negotiating with Iran and Israel looking for help from Arab countries–in the same week! Incredible insights like these are why I keep returning to this site.
    I loved the paragraph “No one, of course, is comfortable predicting the internal workings of the Iranian regime. But it sounds like the President, at least for now, is listening to Secretary of State Condi Rice…” I thought Condi worked for the US. Of course, given that the administration’s policy in the Middle East has consistently improved Iran’s strateguc position, maybe Condi is working for Iran after all, making Nelson’s statement a Freudian slip. Or maybe Chris Nelson meant to say, “No one, of course, is comfortable predicting the internal workings of the American regime…”

    Reply

  27. mlaw230 says:

    Why obnoxious moves? It appears that we are in a position of extreme weakness. We have “written a check…” our military can’t cash, nor would I recomed it if we could. He knows that we would be foolish to attack him and if we do attack him his stock will rise, yet we have put a great deal of dwindling national credibility on the issue. How do you sanction a country that is stretgically self sufficient and if you do, why isn’t the result the same as it always is, i.e. a greater sense of unity and purpose in the sanctioned regime?
    We seem always to fear that some or the other mideasterner would become the leader of the middle east, isn’t that a good thing? It appears to me that the middle east has suffered from the lack of real leadership since before the Ottomans.
    Call it appeasement if you want, but the answer is to grant diginity, i.e. respect, and actually cede some authority to the leaders and culture of the region. Pressure should be placed on liberal values, such as a free press, independant judiciary, freedom of religion, etc. but soft power has a chance of winning, while military power does not.
    The President of Iran is doing exactly what Rove would do if he were the President of Iran, he is goading the decision maker and he has bough himself a argaining chip, (recognition of Israel) which means almost nothing to Iranians, yet a single state visit to Iran by Bush would accomplish far more than all the bombs in our arsenal. As a negotiator I have frequently seen this gambit, i.e. claiming some issue is of paramount importance so that it can be traded away later. How long has Iran maitained this supposed atipathy toward Israel? I do not recall it in real terms.
    My limited exposure to Iranians is they actually LIKE americans, and America. They do not consider themsleves “Arab” and although they feel a generalized sympathy for the Palestinians, this is not their jijhad. 20 years from now when the 20 somethings now are in charge, Iran would, could, should be a a leader of a liberal middle east.
    Unless of course we take the “long view” and bomb them so that it will take an extra three years to make a bomb, which they could never use, and an extra two generations to get over the slaughter.

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