Former UK Ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton on “Iran: What Matters Now?”

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richard dalton Hasan Rowhani.jpg(This picture from November 2004 depicts then UK Ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton and Iran’s then top nuclear negotiator Hasan Howhani)
During my recent trip to London where I spoke at a forum organized by intellectual wunderkind G. John Ikenberry through the triad of the Princeton Project on National Security, Newsweek, and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), I was privileged to be on a panel with Newsweek Middle East regional expert Christopher Dickey, RUSI Professorial Fellow Malcolm Chalmers, and Chatham House Middle East expert and former UK Ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton.
Dalton is in Washington TODAY and speaking at the New America Foundation at a session I am chairing. The title of the event is “Iran: What Matters Now?”
If you are local and what to attend, please just sent me an email. The event will take place between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm EST and will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

94 comments on “Former UK Ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton on “Iran: What Matters Now?”

  1. erichwwk says:

    M K Bhadrakumar “Obama faces a Persian rebuff”:
    “The Iranian security establishment has begun digging deeper and deeper into what really happened. Gholam Hossein Nohseni Ejei, the powerful Intelligence Minister, has alleged from available data that there has been a concerted attempt to stir up unrest by world powers that were “upset about a stable and secure Iran”, and plots to assassinate Iranian leaders.
    Unsubstantiated allegations do not stick. But uncomfortable questions will arise in the coming days and weeks. Doubts arise already about the mysterious death of Neda Aqa-Soltan. Again, the dead included eight trained Basiji militiamen. Who killed them? Indeed, who led the charge of the light brigade? ”

    Obama faces a Persian rebuff
    By M K Bhadrakumar
    Twitter can now revert to its plan to shut down its Iran services and attend to maintenance work. Twitter goes into recess pleased that it probably embarrassed a resurgent regional power. The United States government owes Twitter a grand salute for having done something where all other stratagems of war and peace failed in the past three decades.
    However, Persian stories have long endings. The Iranian regime shows every sign of closing ranks and pulling its act together in the face of what it assessed to be an existential threat to the Vilayat-e faqih (rule of the clergy) system. Even if the US and Britain want to walk away from their nasty spat with Tehran, which would be an eminently sensible and logical thing to do, the latter may not allow them to do that.
    When Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used a colorful
    Persian idiom to characterize European and American officials and when he underscored that the ground on which they stood inevitably gets “soiled”, he made it clear that Tehran will not easily forget the fusillades of mockery that the US and Britain in particular fired over the past fortnight to tarnish its rising regional profile. In a veiled warning, Khamenei said, “Some European and American officials with their idiotic remarks about Iran are speaking as if their own problems [read Iraq, Afghanistan] have all been resolved and Iran remains the only issue for them.”
    Iran has had a tortuous history, overflowing with what US President Barack Obama in his Cairo speech called “tension … fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies with regard to their own aspirations”. The “red line” for Tehran through the past three decades has always been any foreign attempt at forcing regime change. That line has been breached.
    The Iranian security establishment has begun digging deeper and deeper into what really happened. Gholam Hossein Nohseni Ejei, the powerful Intelligence Minister, has alleged from available data that there has been a concerted attempt to stir up unrest by world powers that were “upset about a stable and secure Iran”, and plots to assassinate Iranian leaders.
    Unsubstantiated allegations do not stick. But uncomfortable questions will arise in the coming days and weeks. Doubts arise already about the mysterious death of Neda Aqa-Soltan. Again, the dead included eight trained Basiji militiamen. Who killed them? Indeed, who led the charge of the light brigade?
    It is a little-known slice of history that in the countdown to the Anglo-American coup in Tehran against Mohammed Mosaddeq in 1953, the US Central Intelligence Agency lost nerve just as the Tehran street protests – eerily similar to the recent unrest – were about to be staged, but the British intelligence outpost in Cyprus which coordinated the entire operation held firm, forced the pace and ultimately created a fait accompli for Washington.
    At any rate, Tehran is going after Britain – “the most treacherous of foreign powers”, to use Khamenei’s words. Marching orders have been given to two British diplomats posted in Tehran, and four local employees working in the British Embassy remain under detention for questioning. This is despite robust gesticulations by London that it is not stepping anything up on Tehran’s streets. A Foreign Office statement in London pleaded that it is Iran’s nuclear program that is driving Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and not outrage over civil rights or the death of innocents.
    London is manifestly anxious to vacate the scene as quickly as possible, and hopes it can be business as usual with Iran. But Obama faces a much more complex challenge. He cannot emulate Brown. He needs to get engaged with Iran. The challenge facing Obama is that not only has the Iranian regime not cracked, it has shown incredible resilience.
    Regime closes ranks
    If the rumor was that the intriguing silence of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani meant he was plotting in the holy city of Qom and challenging Khamenei’s writ, it was not to be so. On Sunday, Rafsanjani openly came out with a statement endorsing Khamenei. We see the unmistakable contours of an understanding.
    “The developments following the presidential vote were a complex conspiracy plotted by suspicious elements with the aim of creating a rift between the people and the Islamic establishment and causing them to lose their trust in the [Vilayat-e faqih] system. Such plots have always been neutralized whenever the people have entered the scene with vigilance,” Rafsanjani said.
    He lauded Khamenei for extending the Guardians Council’s move to extend the deadline by five days to review issues pertaining to the election and removing ambiguities. “This valuable move by the leader to restore the people’s confidence in the election process was very effective,” Rafsanjani pointed out. In a separate meeting with a delegation of majlis (parliament) members on Thursday, Rafsanjani said his attachment to Khamenei is “endless” and that he enjoys a close relationship with the supreme leader and he fully complies with Velayat-e faqih.
    On Saturday, the Expediency Council, which is headed by Rafsanjani, called on defeated candidates to “observe the law and resolve conflicts and disputes [concerning the election] through legal channels”. Meanwhile, Mohsen Rezai, the opposition candidate and former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and former majlis speaker Nateq-Nouri, the leading pillar in Iranian politics, have also reconciled.
    Thus, Mir Hossein Mousavi stands isolated. Disregarding Mousavi’s demur, the Guardians Council ordered a partial recount of 10% of random ballot boxes across the country in front of state television cameras. The recount reconfirmed late on Monday evening the result of the June 12 poll and advised the Interior Ministry that “the Guardians Council after studying the issues dismisses all the complaints received, and approves the accuracy of the 10th presidential election”.
    Monday’s recount showed a slight surge in the votes of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the province of Kerman. Mousavi is now left with the dicey option to resort to “civil disobedience” but he won’t exercise it – to the dismay of Western commentators whom he apparently impressed as “Iran’s Gandhi”.
    If the prognosis was that the speaker of the majlis, Ali Larijani, was showing promise as a potential dissident leader, it also has been debunked. On Monday, while addressing the executive committee meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference at Algiers, Larijani lashed out at the US policy of “interfering” in the internal affairs of Middle East countries. He advised Obama to abandon such policy: “This change will be beneficial both to the region and to the US itself.”
    The Obama administration has some hard choices to make. It was sustained criticism and pressure mounted by networks of anti-Iranian groups and powerful lobbies ensconced within the US Congress and the political class – apart from quarters within the security establishment which have an old score to settle with Tehran but have an abominable record of misreading the vicissitudes of Iranian politics – that forced Obama to harden his stance.
    Softening the hard stance will be a difficult and politically embarrassing process. Much statesmanship is also needed. The best outcome is that Washington can take a pause and resume its efforts to engage Iran after a decent interval. ”
    Full article:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KG01Ak03.html

    Reply

  2. samuelburke says:

    Had media outlets consulted any experts on Iranian elections, they would have discovered the simple explanation.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/alamin06302009.html
    In Iran, there is no requirement to vote in a designated district. People do not carry a voter registration card like American citizens. Each voter has a voting book allowing him or her to vote anywhere in the country. After voting, the book is stamped and the index finger is inked to ensure that no one can vote more than once. This fact was not unique to this election. In many previous elections, many districts had a high turnout when compared to the number of registered voters in that district because many Iranians had voted there while traveling or during their summer vacations.
    The example of the over-votes, not only demonstrates gross negligence by the media, but also deliberate deception. On June 22, Abbas Kadkhodaei, a spokesperson for Iran’s Guidance Council (GC), the official body in charge of investigating all 646 complaints filed by the defeated candidates, held a press conference. He gave details about the complaints under investigation by the Council.
    Kadkhodaei explained that the main complaint filed by Mousavi related to the elections was that the number of over-votes existed in as many as 170 cities, potentially affecting more votes than the margin between the top two candidates. Kadkhodaei then presented the GC’s preliminary findings, which showed that such over-votes existed (as they had existed in previous elections), but in no more than 50 cities across Iran, affecting no more than three million votes. In other words, there were no more than three million voters who had voted outside their districts. He emphasized that, with 11 million votes between the top two candidates, even if all three million votes were to be excluded (although there is no valid reason to do that), clearly the outcome of the elections would not be affected.
    But within minutes the German News Agency followed by Reuters, reported that the GC “admitted” that there were an excess of three million votes in 50 cities, leaving the listener and reader with the impression that these were fraudulent votes, rather than valid votes for people voting outside their districts like the spokesman explained. This report was instantly placed on the front pages of every major Western news media websites. The deception continued and made the front page of every major Western paper the following day.
    Opposition groups have relied on Internet communication technology such as text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and political blogs during their protests. In fact, Secretary Clinton took the unusual step in asking Twitter to change its maintenance schedule to accommodate Iran’s time zone and allow opposition groups the ability to utilize it. What is striking is that most of the postings were in English, not Persian, begging the question: who was the target audience of these tweets? Similarly, why were the protesters holding signs saying, “Where is my vote?” in English, rather than the language spoken by the voters of Iran?
    But a study by the website, http://www.chartingstocks.net, concluded that during three days after the election, the overwhelming majority of Tweets (over 30,000), were manipulated through a handful of accounts; all created within one day of the elections on June 13. It is interesting to note that only 0.6 percent of Twitter accounts are used by Iranians (as compared to 44 percent by Americans).
    In a recent interview with the BBC on June 19, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the foreign policy icon and ultimate insider, exposed Washington’s deep involvement in the Iranian affair.
    Dr. Kissinger said, “If it turns out that it is not possible for a government to emerge in Iran that can deal with itself as a nation rather than as a cause, then we have a different situation.” Translation: if our preferred candidate did not emerge a winner after using all our soft power… He continued, “Then we may conclude that we must work for regime change in Iran from the outside,” Translation: then the U.S. (or perhaps Israel) may have to resort to hard power, meaning military strikes.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    So here’s the dilemma. I utterly disagree with POA’s sense of the scope and powers of AIPAC. I think that the waning of AIPAC as discussed at 11:51 p.m. suggests that the alleged power of AIPAC is less than it’s been cracked up to be. And somehow, pointing this out is taken to be “rhetorical flourish” or wet enough to cause drowning.
    I really don’t think I’m exaggerating the ascription of power to AIPAC, and I really think the ascription is wrong on scope and scale. I think, as I’ve said many times, AIPAC is more pufferfish than powerhouse.
    And given the lack of references to the context in which AIPAC and other lobbies function, I think that the charges are even further off base. This, despite the fact that I don’t think AIPAC is right anymore than I think that Pharma is right, or the AMA, or HCAN, or the NRA…. Fact is, these lobbies get more or fewer grassroots members who actually send money and support despicable causes. [Heads explode at the analogy.]
    So “despicable” it is. Drowner of fine TWN posters. (Sorry Paul. Maybe sign up for swim lessons and wear a life vest, just in case!
    Rhetorician of flourishes philosophical and not. (Sorry, DonBacon. Maybe a silver bullet or a cross of gold will protect you from bamboozlement.)
    And, of course, excretory (hold your nose!), insectival (spray quickly!) and despicable (hold to your beliefs regardless, and you’ll be safe POA, for there is no chance at all ever that your emotions steer you off course.)
    And I, for my part, will continue to reconsider your views as I see them posted. I can tell already that POA’s sense of nuance doesn’t match mine — regarding the post right above. There’s just a fundamental disagreement, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating his views. But if I am, please tell.
    And if we get down to, say, only 15% of Americans still supporting Israel and yet no policy shift at all, I’ll rethink my sense of the alleged power of AIPAC. (Israel needs to sink lower than the Republicans, given that the Republicans still have regional support and so they have Senate strength and so they have some oomph on policy issues.) But at 69% recently, and only down to 49%, there’s still some serious popularity that drives policy. Lobbies don’t create from whole cloth.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But I honestly don’t remember seeing much in the way of modest suggestions that AIPAC is like other lobbies, that lobbies are a small part of the pressure/influence/legislative system”
    Well, perhaps its because thats YOUR line of bullshit.
    A “part”, yes. A “small part”? When it comes to AIPAC, you gotta be kidding.
    Questions, you’re an intellectual contortionist. I don’t mind admitting, I find it despicable.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF27Ak02.html
    Two sides to violence
    By Ira Chernus
    The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict – and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it’s only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the United States to side with Israel; now, only 44%.
    How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, “a narrative is the key to everything”. Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an
    innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.
    Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the US government to take such a position.
    Those numbers reflect the narrative that President Barack Obama recited in Cairo on June 4. He chided the Israelis for a few things they are doing wrong – like expanding settlements and blockading Gaza. To the other side, though, his message was far more blunt: “Palestinians must abandon violence.” Of Israeli violence, he said not a word.
    The president’s speech implicitly sanctioned the most up-to-date tale that dominates the American mass media and public opinion today: the Israelis ought to be reined in a bit, but it’s hard to criticize them too much because, hey, what would you do if you had suicide bombers and rockets coming at you all the time?
    That view is a political winner here. In the latest Pew poll, 62% of Americans say Obama is striking the right balance between Israel and Palestine; of those who disagree, three-quarters want to see him tougher on the Palestinians, not the Israelis. A Rasmussen poll finds even stronger support for a pro-Israel tilt.
    There are, however, two things wrong with his narrative. First, though it’s somewhat less one-sided than the story that prevailed during the George W Bush years, it is far from impartial, which means the US still cannot act as an even-handed broker for peace in the region. Since no one else is available to play that role, it’s hard to see how, under the present circumstances, any version of a peace process can move forward.
    The second problem is that the popular narrative just doesn’t happen to match the facts. In reality, unjustified violence is initiated on both sides – and if anyone insists on keeping score, Israel’s violence, official and unofficial, outweighs the violence coming from the Palestinians.
    continues……..

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its amazing how much time we devote to arguing with a guy that is quite simply, and utterly, full of crap.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    DonS,
    please warn me if it looks like I`m about to drown in these
    waters!

    Reply

  8. DonS says:

    Bravo Paul, you wander into rhetorical waters where others fear to tread. And make no mistake, Questions, for all his/her lucid thinking, exemplifies rhetorical, if not philosophical flourish over all.
    Still, his/her insistence that there is an overweaning concern for Israeli influence on this blog appears, again, to me, disingenuous. It is clear that many commenters here are focused on the abberations in the system that Israel creates, and are determined to not let this go unnoticed . . . particularly since the US is Israel’s chief enabler on the international scene.

    Reply

  9. questions says:

    Fair criticism I will think about. Out loud, and out this evening.
    I think that advertising “works” when it has a hook that relates to people’s preferences. So, yes, people worry about having to change doctors, people generally like their current health care and are anxious about change, the motivation for change generally seems to come from worry about other people or other times. The health care industry has been successful in pushing these lines because they speak to worries people already actually have. Advertising doesn’t work to make us flip about things we don’t already have a predisposition to worry about. And I have some trust in people’s ability to recognize which end they might be stuck with. Some people will lose out on health reform.
    So I would say that there really are some stringent limits on how ads shape political views.
    Next, there is the whole separate issue of lobbying within Congress itself. Again, MCs already come to Congress with districts, with ideological preferences, with worries about re-election. These concerns, and more, again limit what lobbies can do within Congress. There is a fair amount of suggestion that positions attract money, there seems to be less suggestion that money attracts positions, but the jury is out.
    What I respond to in posts here, perhaps overly strongly, is the relentless focus on AIPAC and its ability to work seeming miracles. Somehow, AIPAC is responsible in large measure for US ME policy; somehow, AIPAC gets us to vote against some of the deepest interests we have; somehow AIPAC is a puppet-master and MCs are the puppets. Now if I’m over-reading the posts here, I’m willing to stop the practice. But I honestly don’t remember seeing much in the way of modest suggestions that AIPAC is like other lobbies, that lobbies are a small part of the pressure/influence/legislative system. In fact, I feel like I’m the one who generally makes the more modest points that AIPAC is one thing among many.
    In terms of accusing people here of false consciousness, I don’t think that’s the problem here. I think people are mistaken in attributing to one group larger powers than the group has. I don’t think that people’s basic identifications are off. That’s actually the charge leveled against people who would support AIPAC — as in, no rational American could ever support AIPAC, but rather any AIPAC supporter is either an Israel-firster and ought to move there, or is entirely bamboozled by ad campaigns and false myths about the history of Israel.
    So, after this, am I still seeming guilty of your charges?
    I’ll work on it.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    to me it looks like you regard advertising and propaganda as
    mere mirrors of what is already there (in people) – and to the
    degree it bends or distorts anything that is there, it`s powerless
    or non-significant. To me this is an absurd view of how modern
    media and propaganda works.
    Your argument is also strange: EITHER media/ propaganda/
    lobbies have absolute control over the minds of EVERYBODY, or
    they don`t have ANY significance at all, because, hey, we live in
    a complex world filled with billions of individuals with different
    motives. This also seem like absurd premises too me.
    You are distorting the views of your opponents beyond
    recognition. All the time you argue against absolute fictions or
    myths that nobody here actually believes in or have even
    thought of before YOU came up with them and claimed that
    these are the fictions and myths your opponents are victims of
    (strawmen again…), as if proving that these absolute notions are
    wrong, should make your own absurd claims about the non-
    significance of lobbies, media, propaganda more credible.
    And you certainly regard your opponents as victims of false
    consciousness – i.e. absolute myths and fictions that the people
    don`t share ( because the American people has a rather positive
    view of Israel!). But you are arguing against platonic absolutes
    all the time.

    Reply

  11. questions says:

    Carroll,
    NO PLEASE! Not the essay treatment!! (snark/smile)
    IMHO, your line that, “The story was controlled by AIPAC, Jewish orgs, the MSM and the Hollywood version of Israel” is inaccurate.
    I don’t think we’re entirely held prisoner by cultural production. I don’t think we’re duped by Hollywood, the MSM, Wall Street, AIPAC and the like. I’m not into naive false consciousness views of people. It’s too easy a view to hold and too full of contradictions. (How did anyone escape the grip of the culture, and how does the grip sometimes break of its own accord if it’s so incredibly powerful, and how much responsibility do we shed by saying, “Gee, it was Hollywood made me do it?” It’s like violence on tv — that’s not what causes violence in the streets. Our imaginations are drawn to violence, not the other way around — IMHO at any rate.)
    So I don’t think AIPAC etc. is the issue. I think Israel’s story resonates for some; I think that a variety of strategic issues I KNOW you dismiss are another set of issues, I think there is a range of bias and racism that plays a role. And I don’t think there’s some authentic notion of what needs to be done that has been perverted or masked or destroyed by AIPAC or by any other group. Again, I don’t really believe in the idea of rational national interests. I think the concept is murky and doesn’t really help much.
    There isn’t an underlying true AMERICA we need to create or return to (though I think you would disagree with this notion.) The constitution is a process more than it is a product, and we’re in the vicinity of an acceptable range of process — it’s a pretty big range with an enormous possible array of products including the support of Israel.
    I’m sure you’ll sigh and feel a need to go full essay, or you’ll simply dismiss what I’ve said, but I’ve said it anyway.

    Reply

  12. Franklin says:

    Don Bacon,
    All politicians are opportunists to one degree or another. Obama is not unique in this sense. In reference to his commitments during both the primary and general election campaigns I personally don’t feel snookered — his meaning was clear enough to me.
    Edwards was the only candidate during the primary who committed to a withdrawal in Iraq without qualification. Clinton and Obama both hedged in ways that were apparent to me at least.
    The fact that Obama enjoys a little over 60 percent approval right now suggest that the overwhelming majority of the people who voted him don’t feel betrayed by the compromises that he’s made — although clearly there are some exceptions.
    David above, also correctly identifies where many of these special interest road-blocks are taking place (e.g. in the Senate). If the goal is to reform banking, health care, or other issues pressure is apt to be most efficaciously applied on members of the Senate.
    I realize that there might be a tendency to delegate full responsibility and blame to the president, but in real terms, in a free society the legislature and the voters all bear some degree of responsibility in the process as well. No one should view him or herself as simply a passive actor in the process.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    Franklin,
    I’m sure you know that “Obama’s commitment on Iraq during the campaign” depends upon which campaign. During the nomination campaign he was a one-brigade-a-month guy, but during the presidential campaign he was a lets-do-it-next-year proponent.
    Obama could change his position on Iraq and move to the right not because the Iraq situation had changed but because Obama’s political situation changed. He was now running against McCain and not Clinton, who had predicted in fact that Obama would backtrack on Iraq. She recognized that he is merely an opportunist.
    I don’t have the time, but I hope someone someday will recap Obama’s position changes not only on Iraq but on the economy, jobs, health care, NAFTA, etc.
    It’s true that FDR was not an idealogue, rather he was an opportunist. But FDR was also a great persuader, not only in the political crowd but also with the American people. Obama is not such a great communicator, he in fact fancies himself as a compromiser and a conciliator, and the problem is that he is compromising the welfare of the nation by being this way. He is compromising with people who have their own welfare in mind, and not the nation’s. The military, the banks and the large corporations and investment houses have all gotten most of what they want, and the people are left with the dregs and the bills.

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jun 29 2009, 8:39AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You missed the point. I don’t want to have to do an essay on this.
    The support Israel may have had from the public in the past was because the story was controlled by AIPAC, Jewish orgs, the MSM and the Hollywood version of Israel.
    Those groups no longer control the story. The public has had access to a different story. They don’t like what they see. The prior mostly indifferent and uneducated on Israel now have reason to look into the whole US-Isr ball of wax.
    There was no ‘democratic’ process that created support for Israel,it was propaganda and lobbying politicans.
    I’ll just point out once again…who thinks Obama,despite his popularity, would have taken on Israel and taken on congress and his own party over Israel if he didn’t know 1)the public would support it or at minumun not give a damn…2)there were some cracks in congressional support for Israel.

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    On the medical establishment, I certainly think they’ve produced the “wrong” results. But my thinking, I have to admit, is ideological. I’m not a libertarian, I think the social contract is very very broad. I think health, education, welfare, safety and happiness are rights, not privileges. I share the planet with Ron Paul, who I doubt, would welcome a large government run health program.
    I share the planet with Abe Foxman, too. I don’t agree with him in the least.
    I have bumped into numerous libertarians, the occasional gold standard guy, lots of people opposed to legalized abortions, gay marriages, inflation, city services, high taxes, free tuition. I disagree with these views (and their holders) vehemently, but ideologically.
    If I were to get my way on lots of issues, we’d have a different set of problems, a different set of sufferings, a different set of deaths. I’m not so full of myself to think that if only we could get rid of special interests (whatever that means) then the world would be peachy and all would be well.
    Congress produces what it produces because of what I see as a fairly reasonable set of institutional responses to pressure and structure. I don’t have to like what they do, and I’m happy to work on shifting the pressures as I see fit.
    If you want to argue that lobbying somehow “distorts” preferences, then you have to put in place a notion that there is a “correct” distribution of resources. I’m not so sure on this one. Rawls makes a noble attempt to deal with distribution, and I like a lot of what he says about the rational/moral necessity of helping the least advantaged, but I have a general lefty sentiment that he gives rational justification for. Not everyone has that sentiment, and so many are enraged by his system of redistribution (and I do mean “enraged.”
    In the end, as I have said, I don’t support AIPAC, but I don’t think there is anywhere near the distortion of preferences that seems to be de rigeur around here. I think AIPAC works within the preference system in a fairly standard fashion. Somehow this modest view has turned me into a reeking duplicitous dissembling shill of a hasbarite. (Some bumper sticker that would make!)

    Reply

  16. David says:

    Highly organized, well funded, tireless special interest groups can always exert inordinate influence on government. Shifts in consciouness are also very powerful, but they are slow to have an effect, and the Senate, because of its very nature, is the most effective obstacle to change regardless of shifts in consciousness. And a military project in every congressional district is a fact on the ground of enormous consequence.
    One of the values of an activist Supreme Court is that it is the only federal institution that can reflect in a single decision a shift in consciousness regarding our notion of what is and is not just. The success of the right in villifying the notion of activist judges is one of the most crippling developments for essential justice in America. The other is the dominance of conservative justices because of Republican presidents appointing the majority of justices. One of the most refreshing ironies is those instancess when what was supposed to be a reliable right wing vote on the Court turned out to be a justice more driven by a sense of what is just and what is unjust than any particular political ideology.
    Related to this is the fact that a jury can acquit an indictee simply because that jury considers a conviction unjust. This can be used for misguided purposes, as it was in the Deep South in my youth, but the point is that what is supposed to define this nation, at least in the eyes of the founders, is a sense of justice for all.
    And to extend that to the argument regarding Israel, if there is a shift in consciousness occurring in America, especially at college campuses, perhaps it is because of the question Is that just? While we might, and I would argue, should be appalled by the massacre of innocent civilians by terrorist attacks, perhaps we are finally beginning to face the question of who is inflicting murderous injustice on whom? For me, that question has to be answered as comprehensively, factually, and intellectually honestly as possible. I think this is the point at which Jimmy Carter has arrived. I also think blind apologists for and enablers of the settlements in the Occupied Territories are enemies of justice and peace in the Middle East, as are those who are the architects of suicide bombings.
    So is every nation and non-state actor pursuing narrow interests, the common good be damned.
    To use that kind of worrisome term hope, I do hope Obama’s commitment to King’s arc of justice is real – and unrelenting – and that a shift in consciousness, without which civil rights would never have been realized for black Americans, is underway regarding the Israel-Palestine nightmare.
    If he isn’t, and it isn’t, business as usual will be everyone’s undoing in the Middle East. Why the Israelis elected the agent of disaster is as perplexing as why Cheney/Bush was granted a second term.

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  17. Franklin says:

    Don Bacon,
    Here’s Obama’s commitment on Iraq during the campaign . .
    “As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.
    In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html
    “In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments . . .” are political weasel words that I understood at the time to mean “the particulars may change, but the overriding objective is to remove troops from Iraq”.
    Commitments made during a political campaign are always aspirational in nature. If a person actually gets into office, those particulars will be subject to negotiations and modification. I take this as a given with any politician.
    I realize that some people may have a more fundamental disagreement with Obama on policy.
    As far as my own views go, I don’t feel that I’ve been lied too by Obama or that he’s a “the world’s biggest hypocrite”. There have been some disappointments like backing away from the Chas Freeman appointment. Some of his moves on civil liberties I’m watching. I understand though where he’s coming from and I also appreciate some of the substantial institutional challenges that he’s dealing with. It’s not all on him.
    Robert Reich hit on this topic in a short piece regarding Obama and health care reform. The central idea also applies to these foreign policy and civil liberties questions.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/06/29/reich/
    “A new president — even one as talented and well-motivated as Obama — can’t get a thing done in Washington unless the public is actively behind him. As FDR said in the reelection campaign of 1936 when a lady insisted that if she were to vote for him he must commit to a long list of objectives, ‘Ma’am, I want to do those things, but you must make me.'”

    Reply

  18. DonS says:

    Questions: “Maybe democratic process’ have led to the support of Israel?” vs “Lobbies can’t really make us do things we don’t want to do”. Ergo, AIPAC might be a factor . . . but only because it reinforces a ‘democratic’ consensus. Too much loose pulley work here. And, at the risk of indulging more sophistry, too much anthropomorphism. That aside, if there is an ‘us’ and, without being unduly prescriptive, a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ that the ‘democratic process produces, lobbies do indeed produce the ‘wrong’ results. Like the medical establishment in the US isn’t the ‘wrong´ result of that gigantic lobby?

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  19. questions says:

    Don, the disingenuous dissembler thinks maybe you misinterpreted my the/a point — if AIPAC is a significant cause, and if AIPAC hasn’t changed, then in fact support for Israel can’t wane because AIPAC’s support for Israel hasn’t waned.
    If support for Israel isn’t waning, then perhaps AIPAC is merely following Israel’s non-waning popularity.
    Lobbies can’t really make us do things we don’t want to do. They have a voice, and even a good healthy informative voice, on plenty of issues. They are most successful when significant numbers of constituents want what some lobby also wants.
    We are a society of many voices, including plenty of people who support Israel, current Israeli policies, and lots of military spending. It’s more disingenuous to deny that than it is to point it out. There seems to be a tendency around here to call for democracy against Congress’s corruption, but only if that democracy leads to what is seen to be the proper policy on Israel. Maybe democratic processes have led to the support of Israel?
    But I think I just heard POA’s head explode at the thought! Maybe it’s not self-evident that POA’s view is the correct view of the universe.
    Sincerely,
    DD: The Disingenuous Dissembler Who Shills for Israel but doesn’t really agree with AIPAC but really thinks Congress isn’t a house of horrors

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    The disingenuous dissembler returns!!!
    “The military contractor fight for Israel’s favor frees up AIPAC from shepherding the massive aid package to dedicate its considerable resources toward Iran sanctions.”
    And this point I have made before…. AIPAC’s “power” rests largely on a lot of coat tails. The defense industry wants what AIPAC wants, so military spending goes through. Mark Kirk wants what AIPAC wants (check out his district and see why he supports what he does), so Mark Kirk helps out.
    POA, you have a tendency to post isolated bits about the evil ways of AIPAC and its ilk without the institutional analysis and contextualization needed to understand the bits. Yes, AIPAC gets its way, but the context in which AIPAC functions has a lot more to do with those victories than does any special power of AIPAC.
    Retired $535,775 $535,775 $0
    Pro-Israel $414,681 $328,209 $86,472
    Securities & Investment $334,475 $310,975 $23,500
    Lawyers/Law Firms $278,054 $252,304 $25,750
    Real Estate $206,525 $187,025 $19,500
    Above is the opensecrets Mark Kirk file for 2007/2008. AIPAC/pro-Israel isn’t the only donor. (The three columns of numbers are total, individuals, PACs.) 75% of his money comes from individual donations. He raised over 5 million dollars, so that pro-Israel money isn’t the bulk of his funding.
    And the numbers still don’t indicate the direction of causality. Kirk’s district makes a pro-Israel vote pretty sensible all in all. Is it AIPAC or is it representation?

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  21. DonS says:

    Questions says “clearly AIPAC isn’t the driver of support for Israel” which is a clever but disingenuous statement. It is not ‘the’ driver, it is ‘a’ driver. But at whatever strength one gauges AIPAC, it remains a corrosive and maleficent influence on US politics and governance. We don’t need to reengage all the reasons why this is so, do we?
    As to Congress, that bunch of rascals cant be counted on to 1) follow the money and 2) stand on principle only so long as it is politically viable.
    Finally, while MC’s are influenced by significant constituent pressure, and while public opinion on Israel is perhaps shifting, I believe that perception of such shift is mainly anecdotal and greatly affected by, well by all the factors that go into defining the elusive ‘public opinion’. It will be a long time before pressure from constituents is a salient factor in member’s votes, and absent such salient pressure it is hard to imagine Congress getting out in front and leading on a saner policy towards Israel.
    What could change that equation??? What could suddenly wake up Congress – or appeal to members political instincts and herd mentality – to where they start thumping the lectern to have the administration (of course) stop coddling Israel? Where’s the political advantage?

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government.
    http://www.amazon.com/AMERICAS-DEFENSE-Departments-Register-Government/dp/0976443724/antiwarbookstore
    Editorial Reviews
    Review
    “Grant Smith renders great service. The secret documents reviewed in this volume will help any reader understand how a small but determined group of zealots for Israel have placed the United States in grave danger. It is a wakeup call that must be answered, if our noble experiment in representative government, which has long proclaimed justice for all people in all lands everywhere, is to survive. I choose those words carefully. This is no time to sit on our hands. Unwarranted fear of Israel has plunged us into an abyss that gets deeper all the time. All that is needed is a civilized discussion, one that this volume must surely bring forth.” — Paul Findley, Member of Congress 1961-83, author of three books on the U.S.-Israeli relationship, including the Washington Post bestseller “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby”
    “In America’s Defense Line, Grant Smith has penetrated once again into the murky waters that underlie the observable control of US Middle East policy by Israel and its aggressive American support base that have undermined the efforts of successive US administrations, be they Democrat or Republican, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. In Foreign Agents and now in America’s Defense Line, using recently declassified documents, Smith exposes the charade that the ‘pro-Israel lobby’ is simply a well-organized, overly zealous group functioning within the spirit of traditional American political advocacy. What we see is something far more sinister. America’s Defense Line should be required reading for anyone concerned with preserving what is left of the US political process.” — Jeffrey Blankfort is the former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and hosts the international affairs program “Takes on the World” on KZYX Pacifica Radio in Mendocino, California.
    “The Israel lobby is one of the most influential interest groups in American history. Yet there is insufficient public knowledge about its origins and operations. Grant Smith’s new book is a major step forward in correcting that problem. He provides a fascinating–and disturbing–account of how I.L. Kenen laid the groundwork for AIPAC, the most powerful organization in the lobby.” — John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and the author with Stephen M. Walt of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (2007)
    “This is an excellent book that brings together declassified material showing how the Israel lobby managed to sow corruption at the highest levels of the US government and even break US law. Like other excellent books by the author (e.g. Deadly Dogma and Foreign Agents), America’s Defense Line breaks new ground in research into the destructive role of narrow special interests in US domestic and foreign affairs. This latest contribution is a tour de force and is a must read for anyone interested to understand why we are embroiled in the quagmire of the Middle East and how we might get out of it (thus saving our economy and our global reputation).” — Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor at Bethlehem University and author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle”
    “This is vital reading for anyone interested in what really guides American attitudes towards Israel. Grant F. Smith reveals how the almost universal misunderstanding of the Israel-Palestine question in the United States, and the blind support for Israel in Government, the media and public opinion are not sentimental accident, but the result of assiduous plotting and planning by Israel, its agents, and friends to subvert the American system and freedom of speech over more than half a century.” — Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East Correspondent
    Product Description
    An unforeseen effect of the Iraq war is allowing more Americans to speak freely about the role of the Israel lobby. When and how was it born? While it is generally understood that American interest groups played a crucial role in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and supporting politicians who would stand up for Israel, other facts have remained elusive.
    Grant F. Smith reveals that many of the functions the Israel lobby smoothly and quietly executes in political life today were formed in the late 1950s and early 1960s: the crucial political contributions and unrelenting campaign to convince Americans that Israel and the United States share common interests and enemies, whether the old Communist bloc–or Islamic radicals in the 21st century. Smith documents the lobby’s awesome resistance to public accountability for its actions from Congress and the Justice Department. That fascinating history is the terrain of this book.
    Referencing over 1,000 previously classified documents released under a Freedom of Information Act filing, Smith follows Isaiah L. Kenen’s path from registered foreign agent for the Israeli government to founder of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC. Smith unearths a formerly secret non-prosecution agreement, the “subvention caveat” reached between the Israel lobby and the US Department of Justice. The agreement reveals a great deal about the operational latitude of the lobby and the US government’s institutional aversion to challenging it. America’s Defense Line may forever change the debate about US Middle East policy formulation.
    continues……..

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “3) Those who declare all things will remain the same with Israel-US are missing the signals..from Obama …and the public. Congress may stay the same…for awhile, but it too is now feeling the heat from dissenters in their ranks”-Carroll
    “If support for Israel is indeed waning (and it may well be), then clearly AIPAC isn’t the driver of support for Israel, as AIPAC’s support of Israel isn’t waning. When support for Israel was higher, AIPAC’s influence seemed higher. AIPAC hasn’t changed, but support for Israel has”-The disengenuous dissembler
    Subsidies for Israel,
    Sanctions for Iran
    by Grant Smith, June 29, 2009
    President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget request for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel is proceeding smoothly through the Congress. On June 17 the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a “markup” session on the budget. The subcommittee came under pressure from an antiwar group that sought to suspend or condition foreign aid over Israel’s use of U.S. weapons that left 3,000 Palestinians dead during the Bush administration. The subcommittee held its session in a tiny Capitol room, denying activists and members of the press access to determine whether there was any discussion on aid to Israel. The budget quickly passed and is now before the full House Appropriations committee.
    Israel enjoys “unusually wide latitude in spending the [military assistance] funds,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Unlike other recipients that must go through the Pentagon, Israel deals directly with U.S. military contractors for almost all of its purchases. This gives the U.S.-based Israel lobby, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), increased influence on Capitol Hill. Large contractors proactively segment many military contracts across key congressional districts to make them harder to oppose. The military contractor fight for Israel’s favor frees up AIPAC from shepherding the massive aid package to dedicate its considerable resources toward Iran sanctions.
    Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) sponsored an amendment to the foreign operations bill that would prevent the Export-Import Bank of the United States from providing loan guarantees to companies selling refined petroleum to Iran. According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Kirk is the top 2008 recipient of pro-Israel political action committee (PAC) contributions [.pdf]. Kirk received $91,200 in the 2008 election cycle, bringing his career total thus far to more than $221,000. Kirk’s AIPAC-sponsored sanctions legislation passed the House Appropriations Committee on June 23. While tactically positioned as a rebuke to the crackdown on Iranian election protesters, the measure is only the most recent of a raft of long-term AIPAC-sponsored sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. Israel contends Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons under the auspices of a civilian program, though no hard evidence has emerged. Yet one illicit nuclear arsenal in the region has been positively identified.
    The U.S. Army [.pdf], former president Jimmy Carter, and Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller have all recently confirmed that the only country in the Middle East that has deployed nuclear weapons is Israel. The Symington and Glenn amendments to foreign aid law specifically prohibit U.S. aid to nuclear states outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran has signed the NPT. Israel hasn’t.
    continues………

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  24. questions says:

    Carroll,
    I think your post does more to corroborate my view of AIPAC than you realize. If support for Israel is indeed waning (and it may well be), then clearly AIPAC isn’t the driver of support for Israel, as AIPAC’s support of Israel isn’t waning. When support for Israel was higher, AIPAC’s influence seemed higher. AIPAC hasn’t changed, but support for Israel has.
    What then drives AIPAC’s power?
    MCs aren’t going to vote in ways that cost them re-election. That means that, ultimately, constituents, not AIPACkers, are the driving force in policy.
    Still, I will amend my statement in the following manner: As support for Israel shifts (if indeed it does shift), so will the seeming power of AIPAC. If support for Israel wanes significantly (if indeed it does wane significantly), so will AIPAC’s seeming power. AIPAC will start losing, just like any other lobby, if supporting AIPAC starts to look like a losing proposition. AIPAC has seemed powerful because AIPAC has ridden a wave of popular support for Israel. AIPAC is less the driver of that view and more the beneficiary.
    Hope that this reading is more acceptable for you. I don’t think it changes much at all from what I’ve said before. Basically, there’s as much to AIPAC as there is to the Wizard of Oz. But you won’t find a recipient of AIPAC’s largesse saying this in public.

    Reply

  25. Franklin says:

    POA,
    From the Washington Post June 18, 2009
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/17/AR2009061701512.html
    “A Justice Department report focusing on possible ethics violations by Bush administration lawyers who approved waterboarding of terrorism suspects is still “a matter of weeks” from release, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told lawmakers yesterday.
    At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder said that officials in the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which investigates allegations of attorney misconduct, are reworking the 200-page draft report and incorporating comments from lawyers who have been the focus of the investigation.
    The conclusions of the five-year-long probe are hotly anticipated because they could shed new light on the interplay between the Bush White House, the Justice Department and the CIA in formulating an interrogation policy that critics assert included torture.”
    In other words, an administration review is still ongoing. The Senate JC is conducting its own parallel investigation.

    Reply

  26. Carroll says:

    1) Those who want to argue about the civilian screw up regarding Iraq need to remember the civilian crew in the pentagon and the Feith’s and Wolfowritz’s who were running the mess with Rummy.
    And all those teenage helpers of Bremers from the AEI.
    2) Obama is not going to attack Iran any time soon, if ever…barring some earth shattering event. Ross’s move isn’t going to mean jackshit. The die is cast, the soft power Obama plan is still the same.
    3) Those who declare all things will remain the same with Israel-US are missing the signals..from Obama …and the public. Congress may stay the same…for awhile, but it too is now feeling the heat from dissenters in their ranks.
    For posters like questions who says there is broad public support for Israel..I don’t know how many examples you need but here’s another one.
    JPost.com » International » Article
    Jun 29, 2009 1:28
    US professors: Support for Israel eroded
    By ABE SELIG
    Unwavering support for Israeli policy has eroded dramatically both on American college campuses and within the United States as a whole, according to a group of American university professors who on Sunday concluded an academic exchange program here, sponsored by the Yitzhak Rabin Center.
    “The mood in the United States is changing,” said Richard Samuels, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of MIT’s Center for International Studies. “And it’s changing in ways that I think deserve a lot of attention, especially from an Israeli point of view.
    “The ability to count on unquestioned support – we’re talking now not for the State of Israel, but for the government’s policies – I think has eroded, and I think has eroded very dramatically,” he said.
    Samuels and his colleagues also pointed out that the debate over Israel on many college campuses is often confused with a debate over Israel’s right to exist – something they all categorically rejected was the case.
    The debate, they said, was over Israel’s policies – most recently during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza – and which was now heavily focused on human rights issues.
    “There was a time when Israel had a near-monopoly on [the human rights issue],” Samuels said. “And that’s long ago gone. The human rights issue has become as large, for many people, as the security issue. And as it has inflated vis a vis the security issue, the standard narrative as become less persuasive.”
    Charles Kupchan, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, added that the “mood” Samuels had alluded to was translating into a US foreign policy shift in the region.
    “I think that this use of the word ‘mood’ is particularly appropriate,” Kupchan said. “I think that 10 years ago, the center of gravity was to give Israel the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t think that’s true anymore.
    “I would say that in the classroom – and I think this is reflective of the country as a whole – US policy in this part of the world is now up for grabs in a way that it was not until recently. I think the US is still going to be a very stalwart ally of Israel, but the terms of that relationship are changing.”
    Nina Tannenwald, an associate research professor of international relations at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, explained that the Israeli self-perception of an underdog was no longer a widely accepted narrative outside of Israel – another factor which now must be taken into account.
    “I’ve been struck by the way the Israeli self-narrative of a besieged underdog, no longer resonates to outside observers,” she said.
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    This confirms what I said before..that US Israelis and the Lobby and Israel and the MSM have lost control of the Israel narrative. The public now has their own and different opinion. Every day Israel defies Obama and the US that opinion will get worse.

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    prisoner release exchange
    According to the Asharq al-Awsat report, Arab and European officials say Shalit will be transferred “soon” to Egyptian intelligence in exchange for the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners by Israel, most of them women and children, as well as some Hamas members of parliament. Israel continues to hold 10,000 Palestinians and abduct an average of 400 more each month. Obama has shown no concern.
    he made overtures to the Iranian regime
    Referring to the recent interference in Iran’s internal affairs and insulting comments by certain western states abut Iran’s handling of protests after the presidential elections, Ahmadinejad said, “From now on we will take you to trial at every international forum.“ “How is it possible that those who have blood on their hands are now talking about human rights and believe that they can harm the Islamic system with their hollow and satanic statements and their propaganda stunts against Iran’s clean and humane system?“
    Obama has done exactly what he said he would in foreign policy.
    March 19, 2008: I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them [in] 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy.
    There were 133,000 US troops in Iraq in 2006.
    There are 133,000 US troops in Iraq now.
    Clinton was right: An Obama administration, she said, would not follow through on campaign promises to end the war.
    “I have concrete, detailed plans to end this war, and I have not wavered on my commitment to follow through on them,” she said.
    Obama has bee true in one area: Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government.
    Obama on NAFTA: NAFTA is “devastating” and “a big mistake”
    NAFTA is fine now, and Obama has hung auto workers out to dry with his GM rescue.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “In reference to detainee abuse, Obama released information and the legal process regarding legal sanctions continues on its own track within the DOJ”
    BULLSHIT.
    You just flushed your credibility right down the toilet.

    Reply

  29. Franklin says:

    Obama on Israel-Palestine:
    “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”
    Obama on Iran:
    “I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering in Iran’s affairs,” he said during a news conference at the White House on Tuesday.
    “But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.'”
    Same essential line. There are issues of sovereignty at stake, but there are universal principles at stake as well.
    In reference to the Freeman episode, if that represented a complete capitulation, the Obama administration would not have made a statement about ending settlements; there would be no effort to lessen the pressure on Gaza by opening its border with Egypt. The evidence that Obama has simply continued the Bush line of complete deference to Israeli hardliners does not exist. He has been actively engaged in finding a peaceful solution to the I-P crisis since day one.
    In reference to detainee abuse, Obama released information and the legal process regarding legal sanctions continues on its own track within the DOJ.
    As far as expectations go, by and large I think Obama has done a good job. Some people may think that the American presidency is invested with Supreme Powers — this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the office.
    A president’s powers are circumscribed by the courts and the legislature; they are circumscribed by the law itself.
    A president cannot unilateral declare, for example, that prosecutions in reference to torture must go forward. In our political and legal system, those questions are usually determined by the DOJ, not the president. The president can impose limits on a DOJ review, but so far, my understanding is that a review is taking place. It took almost a year for the Fitzgerald prosecution of the Plame Affair to result in charges against Libby.
    In cases where Obama has hedged, I understand the political pressures that are at work against him.
    I think your judgments of Obama assume that the president acts in a political vacuum where he can dictate his will. Your statements imply to me that you think citizens are impotent. They may be limited acting as individuals, but in the aggregate they can effect change. This requires the investment of time, energy, and resources on the part of individuals. It’s much easier to simply lob verbal grenades from the sidelines. If people simply want to vent without actively engaging in the political process, that’s their prerogative.
    Obama during his campaign was clear about this — A president can only push things as far as people allow him to go — his view is grounded in realistic expectations. Some people want to ignore the political context in which Obama is operating in. There are things that he can do to influence things from the inside, but without public pressure on the outside, his hands are more likely to be tied.
    In some cases a well-funded and well-entrenched minority can exert disproportionate influence in our political system simply because the opposition does not exist, or it exists in a very diffuse and disorganized fashion. The correct response isn’t necessarily to blame the president.
    The correct response is to organize a counter-balancing pressure that limits the influence of that other group. If there is genuine interest on the part of a large number of people, and if the group fills a genuine need, then in time that group will exert influence.
    If there is no interest on the part of the public at large, and the counter-balancing interests only represent a fringe group — then perhaps the group will become sympathetic to a more dictatorial form of governance.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As far as hypocrisy goes, a clearer illustration in my view is dismissing the crack-down in Iran by hardliners on the basis that Israelis are engaged in an immoral and illegal occupation of Palestine”
    Who is “dismissing” it? Pointing out the double standard in regards to Obama’s failure to criticize Israel’s human rights abuses is hardly “dismissing” the abuses in Iran.
    And as far as foreign policy goes, it seems we are still embroiled in two wars, and in fact, are currently escalating our military adventure in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Do you really think the American people voted for Obama because they thought he would escalate our military engagements?
    And his refusal to indict and prosecute torturers, while nattering some absolute garbage about “we are a nation of laws” is a betrayal to everything we are supposed to stand for.
    And how about that “new transparency” bullshit he threw at us? Obviously, you are one of the idiots still swallowing the con. Hows that “audacity of hope” and “change” bullshit working for us so far?
    BTW, you forgot to mention Ross’s recent promotion, and Freeman’s castration, that occurred with nary a peep of dissent from Obama.

    Reply

  31. JohnH says:

    Obama is beginning to remind me of Chuck Hagel, who could never muster the inner strength to vote for the foreign policy positions he advocated…
    Obama’s habit of speaking boldly, and then caving with barely a whimper to “political reality,” is becoming quite apparent now that he is waffling on the public option for health insurance. People will soon note the same pattern on settlements, preventive detention, and a whole host of other issues.
    I called him “slicker,” because Obama’s rhetoric skills are better than Bush’s so he can potentially maintain the illusion longer. But eventually he will meet his Katrina if he continues on this path.
    If Obama truly means what he says, he doesn’t have much time left to prove it. The first 100 days were a bust. Now there are only 6 months left before the 2010 election season starts.

    Reply

  32. Franklin says:

    Obama has re-opened diplomatic recognition with Syria. With Carter’s assist he has worked to re-open the Gaza-Egypt border and worked out a prisoner release exchange. He has been the first president since George H.W. to pressure Israel on the settlement question. From his first days in office he made overtures to the Iranian regime and the Muslim world. He appointed George Mitchell early to work on the Palestinian settlement issue.
    By and large Obama has done exactly what he said he would in foreign policy.
    He has failed up to this point in reference to the indefinite detention policy, but some of these constraints are as much about the cowardice and opportunism of his domestic adversaries as they are about him.
    As far as hypocrisy goes, a clearer illustration in my view is dismissing the crack-down in Iran by hardliners on the basis that Israelis are engaged in an immoral and illegal occupation of Palestine.
    The consistent answer is that both actions are wrong.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Bush was crudely transparent about it as applied to Iraq, Obama appears to be slicker”
    Obama is hardly “slick”. His transparent political posturing and blatant hypocricy in these matters is painfully obvious. The only reason he isn’t being more widely criticized is because he is still riding that “audacity of hope” horseshit he shoveled. But “hope” is rapidly being replaced by actual observation of his actions. And this guy is every bit as despicable as Bush, perhaps even more so. Personally, I think McCain woulda been a disaster too, but I believe he would have at least exhibited the honesty of striving to maintain and honor the platform he campaigned on. This lyin’ sack of crap Obama is exhibiting no such integrity.

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    OK, maybe I should have have a little more circumspect in my comments. But I do wonder.
    This is what Steve said on the evening of the elections in Iran, when he began to raise questions, even before the votes were all counted: “But did all of this matter? Yes, it does. Legitimacy matters — even in Iran.” A free and fair election was clearly important in Iran.
    But does legitimacy matter in Honduras and other places where the US government is less than enthusiastic about the regime? Let’s not forget that the Honduran coup took place hours before an election. If there was election fraud in Iran, then they tampered with the vote tallies, to our dismay. The Honduran military didn’t even bother with the niceties of trying to impose a fraudulent result on an election they were going to lose–they just preempted the election itself. Different means, same result. Same dismay?
    I’ve watched Washington for decades. The standard pattern is to care deeply about democracy and elections in countries we don’t like. Expression of that concern used to take the form of CIA operations (Arbenz in Guatemala and Mossadegh in Iran). Now NED and “color revolutions” are the vehicle, although the CIA was also invited back into the game with its $400 million authorization in Iran.
    The flip side of the pattern is that Washington shows no concern whatsoever when allied countries commit all sorts of abuses that reduce their legitimacy–absolutism in Saudi Arabia, fraud in Egypt, coups in Haiti and Honduras, jailing of elected Palestinian legislators, etc.
    No one in Washington will ever say publicly that they are selectively committed to democracy. But it’s clear that that’s the case. They’re for it when it helps their agenda. And that is a big problem, because the rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and human rights gets reduced to nothing more than its propaganda value. The expression of democracy is reduced to manipulating results to advance the American agenda. Bush was crudely transparent about it as applied to Iraq, Obama appears to be slicker.
    I think that informed people outside the “West” generally understand this. Even many who read the official television and print media in the West understand it. But do most informed Americans?
    When you see individuals who seem to fit the standard Washington pattern, it makes me wonder. And I think others should wonder, too, which is why I write what I write.

    Reply

  35. easy e says:

    Honduras shouldn’t be a surprise. School of The Americas, boilerplate for U.S. MidEast destabilization engagements, continues to be hard at work in Western Hemisphere.
    Honduras Becomes U.S. Military Foothold for Central America
    https://nacla.org/node/1425

    Reply

  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Journalists banned from Gaza Strip say Israel has offered no plausible explanation
    Star Tribune 2008-11-27
    TEL AVIV, Israel – The Israeli government has offered no plausible explanation for its unprecedented ban on international journalists entering the Gaza Strip, representatives of the foreign media said at a news conference Thursday. With the ban entering its fourth week, appeals to the Israeli government from foreign governments, the United Nations and the leaders of major news organizations have gone unanswered, the journalists said.
    continues……
    http://article.wn.com/view/2008/11/27/Journalists_banned_from_Gaza_Strip_say_Israel_has_offered_no/
    Iran lifts CNN ban after apology
    The Farsi word for “technology” was mistranslated as “weapons”
    Iran has reversed a ban on CNN, a day after the US network was banned for mistranslating a presidential speech. State TV said the reversal came after CNN apologised, saying the translator’s error had not been deliberate.
    CNN wrongly translated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Iran had a right to use nuclear “weapons”, rather than nuclear “technology”.
    Hardliners had described the mistake as a deliberate attempt to misrepresent Iran’s stance in a diplomatic crisis.
    continues…..
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4617754.stm

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    UK calls embassy detentions in Iran ‘unacceptable’
    Britain calls detention of UK embassy employees in Iran ‘harassment and intimidation’
    AP News
    Jun 28, 2009 08:51 EST
    Britain’s foreign secretary on Sunday described the detention of British Embassy employees in Iran as “harassment and intimidation,” calling it unacceptable.
    continues…….
    http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/06/28/uk-calls-embassy-detentions-in-iran-unacceptable/
    UK journalist arrested in Israel
    Israeli police have arrested a British journalist who interviewed Mordechai Vanunu – the man jailed for revealing Israel’s nuclear secrets – in 1986.
    The arrest of Peter Hounam, 60, has been confirmed by the Israeli prime minister’s office.
    Mr Hounam was making a documentary for the BBC, which said it was aware he had been arrested and was “very concerned”.
    continues…….
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3752043.stm

    Reply

  38. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, Tony, I knew you’d eventually see the light about Obama.
    And John, I gotta agree with Paul. I think your criticism today is unfair, and unfounded. Lord knows, I have taken Steve to task on the issue of Israel/Palestine, and would like to see more engagement from him on this issue. But accusing him of not being committed to “democracy” is a bit beyond the pale.
    Besides, what exactly is “democracy”, and where can I find some? We sure as hell no longer have it here, and I don’t see many leaders worldwide that are immune from the corrupting influence of power. I think it is just a catchword now, a crafty way of obscuring the truth. And the truth is, you are one of two things in this world, no matter where you live; a vassal, or a tyrant. And currently, the tyrants are holding all the cards.

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve hasn`t posted anything on his blog since Thursday, for reasons unknown to us. Then a coup
    took place hours ago somewhere on the planet – and JohnH immediately starts accusing him of not
    fulfilling his “commitments”!
    Commitments promised to who? JohnH? Democracy itself? God? The people?
    It reminds me of JohnH`s comments during the recent events in Iran: dozens of posts accusing Steve
    of not fulfilling his commitments during the Mexican election. Mexico. Mexico. Mexico. Or the
    thousands of comments during the last years accusing Steve of not having the courage or honesty to
    dedicate his blog exclusively to posts about the relationship between oil and US foreign policy.
    JohnH`s accusatory style is becoming more and more ridiculous and annoying.

    Reply

  40. TonyForesta says:

    No one can defend an oppressive government, including our own, but why is Iran demonized, and Saudi Arabia framed as a good friend. The Saudi Royals would snuff out any infidel uprizing in thier lands with the same kind of brutality we witness in Iran. Powers in power do not relinquish power peacefully. Even here in the land of Oz, the face of the WH changed, by the predatorclass domination and control of the government did not. In fact, NOTHING has really changed in America but the tone and the rhetoric, (at least Obama is articulate, and not single syllable brute and imbecile like bush), but practical application NOTHING changed. We are still fighting to nowin wars for oil and profiteering, we are still forking over trillions of tax payers dollars to the offshore accounts thieves and swindlers on Wall Street and in the predator class, America’s poor and middle class are still loosing jobs, healthcare, opportunities for higher education, homes, wealth, and hope at a radical pace, and our government still blathers on about freedom, liberty and justice for all, dictating to other countries about abuses that mirror our own. No nation on earth imprison more of its own citizens (predominantly poor and middle class of course) than America. Justice in America is defined as “JUSTUS” as in just the rich, just the predatorclass. Poor and middle class Americans get audited, poor and middle class American go to jail, and pay punishing fines, more and middleclass American get evicted, but the superrich, the predatorclass in America operate under a different standard and outside, above, and beyond the law and unaccountable.
    America should focus on our own demise and treachery and quit preaching or dictating to any other country about injustices or fraud.
    America long ago lost any hope of sense of credibility or moral high ground, and in fact has devolved in the last 30 years into one of the worlds most treacherous, abusive, wildly divided, oligarchic, and dangerous nations on earth.

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    Democratically elected president of Honduras ousted in a coup:
    “Mr. Zelaya, who has the support of labor unions and the poor, is an ally of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. During his three years in office, opposition to the president has mounted from the middle class and the wealthy business community who fear that he is planning to introduce Mr. Chávez’s brand of socialist populism into the country, one of Latin America’s poorest.”
    Honduran President Is Ousted in Coup , NYT, June 28, 2009
    TWN’s silence speaks volumes about its commitment to democracy.

    Reply

  42. Arun says:

    Mark Weisbrot
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/28-3
    If the Iranian election was indeed stolen, there would be a lot more evidence. There are potentially 700,000 witnesses.

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Isn’t it the responsibility of blogs like this to get beyond Twitter and the Washington/London cocktail circuit?”
    No. It is Steve’s blog, and it is not up to us to allocate his responsibilities, if in fact he has any “responsibilities” as the blog owner.
    As individuals, or even collectively, we can certainly form opinions about what we would like to see on the blog, but it is not his responsibility to adhere to our tastes or our schools of thought.
    (Gads, the next thing we know, some friggin’ cat owner is going to get on here and demand that Steve’s dogs fork over equal exposure.)

    Reply

  44. JohnH says:

    From Anonymous’ link: “All of Ahmadinejad’s three challengers promised to promote investor-friendly policies if elected.” That included trade liberalization, opening the markets to Western investors, too.
    Now you know why the Western media and think tanks, all funded by powerful Western economic interests, were drooling at the prospect of an Ahmadinejad loss.
    Their “support” for the protesters was only a momentary means to an end. They care no more about the people of Iran than about the people of Saudi Arabia. It’s all about getting their hands on Iran’s loot. Freedom, democracy, and support for the protesters are just a bunch of hooey.

    Reply

  45. Anonymous says:

    There is a truly fascinating article here:
    http://pulsemedia.org/2009/06/28/iran-what-about-class-
    warfare/#more-13354
    The kind of thing one would hope to find in more places:
    “With mass rallies for government accountability dominating the
    news from Iran since June 12, Western audiences are missing
    the underlying controversy that polarizes the country’s
    electorate. We hear much about the boastful social
    conservatism of president Ahmadinejad, whose contested re-
    election on June 12 fueled days of bloody protests led by his
    moderate challengers. But the battle is also about welfare
    reform and private property rights in an economy that has been
    state-dominated since the Islamic Republic was established
    thirty years ago. Whether Iran’s national oil revenue should now
    be directed away from grassroots priorities emerged as a major
    election issue this year. All of Ahmadinejad’s three challengers
    promised to promote investor-friendly policies if elected.
    The opposition insists that Ahmadinejad unfairly buys voter
    loyalty with consumer subsidies, low interest loans, and similar
    “handouts.” The president has especially enraged the
    managerial class with his wildly popular monthly rallies in the
    provinces, where he orders funding on the spot for the
    infrastructure needs of common folks. A special flashpoint is
    the pace of a long-anticipated privatization and deregulation
    drive that was officially launched a year ago but was not
    embraced by the Ahmadinejad administration….”
    ‘Welfare reform,’ ‘privatization’ of state industries, including oil,
    and other neo-liberal ‘free market’ notions promoted by
    Mousavi and his backers, may not be ‘wildly popular’ in the
    provinces. Rafsanjani, Mousavi’s most powerful backer, the
    richest man in Iran, by some accounts the most corrupt,
    nicknamed ‘the shark,’ is not Iran’s most principled democrat.
    As I understand it ten percent of Iran’s people live in Tehran.
    What do we know about the rest? Their lives, their issues, their
    opinions? They are not on Facebook.
    Isn’t it the responsibility of blogs like this to get beyond Twitter
    and the Washington/London cocktail circuit?
    Since the issue, ultimately, is war.

    Reply

  46. David says:

    75 tons of finely divided uranium inflicted on anyone anywhere is a crime against humanity, and because these are munitions used in military attacks, it is a war crime not by non-state actors but by those nations so ruthless in their quests for military victory that they will wreak toxic havoc on target areas.
    Here, children, is our present to you: finely divided leukemia-inducing “depleted” uranium for you to breathe and ingest. And here, military personnel, is one more thank you for your service to your country. Breathe deep, eat hearty, and do whatever you are ordered to do. Those explosions are just pictures on monitor screens.

    Reply

  47. Don Bacon says:

    Anonymous,
    I’m not defending the Iraq invasion, I’m commenting on the fiasco that ensued, which was a military responsibility.

    Reply

  48. Anonymous says:

    Don Bacon. What a peculiar interpretation of the events in iraq.
    So the ‘civilians’ had it right – Saddam had WMD, was a regional
    threat, was in league with Al Qaeda, and a direct threat to the
    United States, and further the iraqi people having lived through
    twelve years of sanctions, economy in ruins, hundreds of
    thousands dead, would have greeted us with flowers and candy
    if only the idiots in the military operating outside civilian control
    hadn’t screwed it all up?
    I think I’ll stick with Lang.
    And as for on topic, the same civilians, and their proxies, are at
    it with iran. Looking closely at what happened the last time we
    were assured that a large Muslim country was a threat that
    might justify a war – and how that war was brought about, and
    by whom, and with what results, might be useful. Seems on
    topic to me.

    Reply

  49. easy e says:

    Shalom PN!
    [x Remember personal info for next time?]
    -:)

    Reply

  50. easy says:

    Shalom PN!

    Reply

  51. Outraged American says:

    I have paid $12,000 so far this year for health insurance and not
    been to a doctor, much less a dentist.
    Havah Nagilah!

    Reply

  52. Paul Norheim says:

    Outraged American (and easy e):
    I thought OA was referring to residents “luxuriating” in their
    Brooklyn swimming pools – and not to settlers coming from
    Brooklyn. This also explains why you called them “Israelis”.
    I misunderstood, and apologize.
    But no thanks, I prefer my not-so-great health insurance.

    Reply

  53. Don Bacon says:

    Anonymous,
    You’re off topic but I’ll respond anyhow.
    Pat Lang is full of crap.
    Blaming civilians for Operation Iraqi Fiasco is ignorant.
    Nothing was done without full agreement by combatant commanders.
    Much is made about General Shinseki but he was not in the chain of command.
    The US military caused its own problems by arbitrarily killing, injuring, apprehending, imprisoning and torturing Iraqis, most of them young Sunnni males.
    Thus a liberated people were turned into a non-minimal resistance.
    That’s why the Iraqis say: Good riddance, USA.
    Good for them — the ones still alive.

    Reply

  54. easy e says:

    Let’s let ELLIOT ABRAMS in on the conversation:
    “Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements”
    WSJ June 26, 2009
    Despite fervent denials by Obama administration officials, there were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. As the Obama administration has made the settlements issue a major bone of contention between Israel and the U.S., it is necessary that we review the recent history……
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124588743827950599.html

    Reply

  55. Outraged American says:

    A considerable amount of the settlers in the West Bank are
    American Jews, a good percentage of whom migrated from New
    York City:
    Violence with a Brooklyn Accent: American Jews in Israel
    by Jeremy Milgro ( a rabbi)
    Unmistakable American accents surface in the Hebrew of many
    West Bank settlers
    (Entire article at link)
    http://tinyurl.com/lrcauz
    From the New York Times
    http://tinyurl.com/ku4be7
    Arab Sovereignty Is Not Acceptable
    “The late Prime Minister didn’t say it openly,” Mr. Harel said. “In
    the talks we had he hinted that he was not going to uproot the
    settlements, that his solution was that those areas would be
    transferred to the Palestinians, and we would be welcome to stay
    where we are if we were willing to accept another sovereignty.
    “I will not. I did not come to this country for this, those
    Americans didn’t come from the luxury of the United States to
    the hills of Judea and Samaria, to intifada, to be under Arafat’s
    sovereignty.”
    The reference to Americans was not chance. While Jews who
    came from the United States form a relatively small share of
    settlers, between 8 and 12 percent, they have been prominent in
    organizations and protests. The reason, according to Yehudit
    Tayar, a native of Chicago and a resident of the Beit Horon
    settlement, northwest of Jerusalem, is that Americans are
    taught, “If you believe in something, you have to go out and be
    active, not sit on the sidelines.”
    Mrs. Tayar’s history suggests another explanation, that those
    Jews who leave the comforts of America to come to Israel are
    usually not interested in the alternative comforts of Tel Aviv, but
    in fulfilling a quest.
    “There’s a link between why you come and who you are,” she
    said. “It’s not a religious question, but a Jewish question. I’m
    here because I’m Jewish, and if I’m Jewish, I seek to live in the
    most meaningful place for me — Jerusalem, or Hebron, or
    Yesha,” she said, referring to the settlements.
    Americans have also figured prominently among the militant
    religious nationalists in Hebron, though none of those rounded
    up after Mr. Rabin’s death have been from the United States. A
    settler from Brooklyn, Baruch Goldstein, achieved infamy when
    he opened fire on Muslim worshipers in Hebron last year, killing
    29.
    To David Wilder, a resident of the Qiryat Arba settlement
    adjacent to Hebron who is originally from New Jersey, Hebron is
    the “front line” in a struggle for the Land of Israel.
    “If Hebron falls, then Jerusalem would fall, and the entire Jewish
    state,” he said. “This is the front line.
    (Again, entire article at link)
    Hey Paul– stop being an armchair observer of UsRael, come on
    over and give up your great health insurance and fund these
    endless wars.

    Reply

  56. Paul Norheim says:

    Well, easy e,
    Perhaps it`s just that I`m ignorant about life in Brooklyn (only
    been there once). Perhaps you could explain it to me?

    Reply

  57. Anonymous says:

    What matters now certainly depends on what happened in the
    recent past, and why.
    From Col. Patrick Lang:
    “Al-Maliki is celebrating victory over the American invader.
    “A great deal of Mr. Maliki’s political support rests on the fact
    that violence has declined since the carnage of 2006 and 2007,
    that he has rebuilt the security forces, that he has presided over
    the beginning of the end of the American war. He rarely
    mentions any American role in the improved security in Iraq —
    though 130,000 American troops remain in the country.
    “We will not ask them to intervene in combat operations related
    to maintaining public order,” he said in an interview with Le
    Monde published last week. “It is finished.”” NY Times
    ————————————————-
    ——————-
    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocon scum will be held
    accountable somewhere, someday for their crimes against the
    American soldier.
    Here is a partial list of my accusations. It will be argued that
    some of these things are not technically “crimes.” I think that
    irrelevant. These specifically apply to Iraq. You may add your
    own and I may comment further:
    – “Planning and waging aggressive war..” Keitel and Jodl were
    executed for this. In this case the “aggressive war was against
    Iraq, a country that, however ill governed, had not attacked the
    United States and that did not have WMD weapons any longer.
    This latter point was in the process of being proven by the UN’s
    inspectors when the miscreants under dicussion succeeded, with
    the help of White House staff still in the public square, of
    deliberately propagandizing the American people by making a
    false case against Iraq in the public media. By carrying out
    these actions those charged involved the United States in a
    senseless war in which many thousands of American military
    personnel were killed or mutilated.
    – Those charged directly intervened in the operational planning
    of the invasion of Iraq in such a way as to risk defeat in detail in
    many smaller actions. They did this by denying to the ground
    component commander (Mckiernan) the forces that he
    reasonably and prudently requested and by “nickel and diming”
    him endlessly in such a way that the forces involved were still
    minimal and barely adequate. The success of these forces is not
    an indication of whether or not the force was adequate in
    strength. The additional risk assumed by fielding too small a
    force placed the troops involved at risk.
    – Those charged insisted on assuming in pre-invasion planning
    that Iraqi resistance would be minimal and that the coalition
    invasion force would be met with “open arms” rather than IEDs
    by the Iraqi populace. This foolish and willfully blind
    assumption caused the death or wounding of many American
    soldiers. Many experts tried to tell the accused that their
    assumption was wrong but they would not listen.
    – Those charged insisted on disestablishing the public
    institutions of Iraq; the army, the police, the civil service, etc.
    These actions were taken against the advice of US Army and
    USMC senior officers on the ground who were in the process of
    sorting out which units and commanders could be used to re-
    establish public order. Considerable progress had been made.
    These disestablishments drove many Iraqi officers and men into
    the various insurgent groups where they formed a hard core of
    competence that killed and wounded many American soldiers.
    – Those charged refused to accept the plain and abundant
    evidence present in the first two years of the war that what was
    faced by the coalition was nothing less than a full-blown
    national resistance insurgency. By so refusing, they caused US
    forces to operate in an inadequate planning environment that
    exposed US soldiers to much greater risks than might otherwise
    have been the case.
    – Those accused encouraged the use of brutal and illegal
    methods of interrogation of prisoners. This was done in spite of
    US doctrine and law that specifically forbade such conduct. Was
    this not a crime against the souls of the junior soldiers
    encouraged and pressured to do such things?
    I will stop at this point and wait for your comments. pl”

    Reply

  58. easy e says:

    Excellent point, Outraged American (and POA).
    I certainly understand what was meant in prior comments.
    What’s there to be curious about, PN?

    Reply

  59. Don Bacon says:

    Steve,
    Come back.
    You see what happens when we have to look at some fat guy in a sweater for two days?
    It’s not pretty.
    Let’s have some dogs, at least.
    all the best, Don

    Reply

  60. Paul Norheim says:

    Outraged American,
    you say that you had to “scurry down to my public lap pool to
    get an outdoor swim workout in because the city has cut the lap
    pool’s hours because the city is broke.” And this happens, you
    explain, “while “Israelis” from Brooklyn luxuriate in their
    backyard pools paid for by Palestinians’ blood and water and my
    treasure.”
    Do you mean real Israelis, or is “Israelis” supposed to mean
    something else?
    Wealthy Jews?
    What about wealthy Americans, say, of Irish or Italian ancestry,
    living in Brooklyn?
    Do they luxuriate in their backyard pools in Brooklyn?
    I am curious.

    Reply

  61. Outraged American says:

    And yet, while “Israelis” from Brooklyn luxuriate in their
    backyard pools paid for by Palestinians’ blood and water and my
    treasure, I have to scurry down to my public lap pool to get an
    outdoor swim workout in because the city has cut the lap pool’s
    hours because the city is broke.
    No, I do not think that Israel is the root of all of our problems,
    but I do think that endless war is at least the largest. We would
    not have a war against Islam were it not for Israel’s hostility and
    aggression towards her neighbors.
    If Israel had been put in South America or Africa like Zionisms
    founders proposed, we’d probably be at war with Brazil or
    Zimbabwe right now.
    If you have an allegiance to a country then live there. Instead
    even “cafeteria” Aipacers like Wig Wag, and the true Zionists in
    “our” Congress like McInsane and Israel and Weiner and Waxman
    and Harmon, do everything that they can to make sure that the
    U.S. ruins herself in endless wars for another country, one that
    they themselves don’t have the frigging guts to live in.
    I am by no means a nationalist, but I do think that our Bill of
    Rights is exceptional and worth fighting for. We have lost our
    Bill of Rights because of the “War on Terror” We would not have
    a “War on Terror” were it not for our funding and fighting of
    Israel’s wars.
    Again, if the Zionists had managed to put Israel into Africa or
    South America we would be fighting a “War against Catholicism
    or Descendants of Conquistadores or Meztitos or… or a “War
    against whatever Pygmies are – animists?”
    I could give a flying F about any religion, but one whose
    primarily secular adherents are actively having an effect on my
    ability to go for a nice long lap swim on a very hot day because
    my city and state is broke because of endless wars fought for
    their “homeland,” the one they won’t live in, as well as my ability
    to fly because of my outspoken hatred of the “Patriot” Act, just
    pisses me right the F off.
    The Zionists want to attack Iran. It’s going to happen. The U.S.,
    broke as all hell, is going to attack yet another Enemy o’ Yisrael,
    And I still can’t get an outdoor lap swim in because my city is
    broke. That pisses me off.
    National Priorities Project, people — find out what the cost of
    war means to your community:
    http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home
    So POA, I’m not quite ready to transgender to become you, but
    AMEN bro.

    Reply

  62. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a spending bill for U.S. foreign policy and aid efforts, directing $2.22 billion in security assistance to Israel for fiscal year 2010, Reuters reported. When combined with the recently passed emergency supplemental bill that provides $555 million in aid to Israel, the new legislation ensures that the Jewish state will receive a total of $2.775 billion, fulfilling American commitments under a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding calling for $30 billion in security assistance to Israel over ten years.
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#26119

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#26119
    “After the war, Israel left 75 tonnes of depleted uranium in the soil, while half of Gaza’s hospitals were demolished, and that’s just the infrastructure”
    “At least 1,440 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers and artillery whose aim, the establishment still maintains, was to neutralise Hamas fighters. Of those killed, 431 were children and 114 women, according to Palestinian sources”
    continues…..
    http://uruknet.com/?p=m55515&hd=&size=1&l=e

    Reply

  64. Don Bacon says:

    Kagel? No. Hagel.

    Reply

  65. Don Bacon says:

    Chuck Kagel, No False Choices, Feb 2007:
    We will fail to protect and advance America’s interests — in the Middle East and around the world — if we allow ourselves to be trapped in a self-constructed world based not on reality but on flawed assumptions and flawed judgment leading to flawed policy and dangerous miscalculations.
    The United States must approach the Middle East with a clear understanding of the complexities of the region. Our strategic policies must be regional in scope. . .integrating Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violent Islamic extremism, access to energy supplies, and political reform into a comprehensive policy equation.
    This should be developed through consultation, cooperation, and coordination with our regional allies Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel. This will require a new regional diplomatic and economic framework to work within. . .a new Middle East frame of reference.
    Steve:
    This makes so much sense. . .Hagel then advises that America be “cautious” and not “follow the same destructive path on Iran as we did on Iraq.” He writes:
    We blundered into Iraq because of flawed intelligence, flawed assumptions, flawed judgments, and questionable intentions. The United States must find a new regional diplomatic strategy to deal with Iran that integrates our regional allies, military power and economic leverage.
    Steve, again:
    I think that Hagel’s speech is visionary and, yes, I will say it — presidential. I think this speech says things, meaningful things. It makes concrete proposals about how to get America’s foreign and national security portfolio back in shape and offers suggestions that Americans can debate. Some will attack Senator Hagel — from the right and the left — but this will also serve as a clarion call to others to rally to this sort of sensible, problem-solving enlightened American realism in foreign affairs.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/no-false-choices-chuck-_b_41917.html

    Reply

  66. JohnH says:

    One would think that the US could engage Iran by simply being frank: “we need a secure, long term supply of oil at fair prices; you need a secure, long term market for oil at fair prices. Somewhere in there is a common ground.”
    But no, if the US doesn’t get full Iranian surrender, it will deprive the world (except China and Japan) of Iranian oil until Iran gives the US complete respect, which implies that the world’s last major pool of unexploited oil reserves would go to Big Oil on the cheap.
    For the US it’s all or nothing, which means there is simply nothing to negotiate.

    Reply

  67. Don Bacon says:

    interesting atimes piece, including a comment from The Honorable R. Nicholas Burns:
    “I was the point person on Iran from 2005 to 2008, and I never once met an Iranian official,” said Burns.
    but this didn’t deter The Honorable Nick in 2007:
    “Iran needs to learn to respect us,” he said. “And Iran certainly needs to respect American power in the Middle East.”
    Getting back to progressive realism, what about Chuck Hagel, a fave of TWN? Hagel in 2005:
    “Iran is a regional power; it has major influence in Iraq and throughout the Gulf region. Its support of terrorist organizations and the threat it poses to Israel (sic) is all the more reason that the U.S. must engage Iran. Any lasting solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program will also require the United States’ direct discussions with Iran. The United States is capable of engaging Iran in direct dialogue without sacrificing any of its interests or objectives. As a start, we should have direct discussions with Iran on the margins of any regional security conference on Iraq, as we did with Iran in the case of Afghanistan.”
    Steve Clemons, Sep 8 2007:
    “The next President should consider Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Alternatively — and only secondly — he would be a capable and credible roving emissary in the Middle East or envoy to the United Nations. His “no false choices in the Middle East” speech still stands out as one of the very best I have heard.”
    The US can’t engage a regional power while it’s undermining it. It’s one or the other. Call it progressive realism. Like how the US should deal with Saudi Arabia and Cuba, for two other examples.

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  68. JohnH says:

    If the last two weeks have shown us anything, it is a) that large swaths of Washington are intent on regime change, including “progressive realists,” and b) most of them know almost nothing about Iran!
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF27Ak03.html

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  69. bert swanson says:

    Dear steve,
    I realize you are a busy person, but I would like to learn your take the ross status shift. Was his status moved up, down, or stayed the same and why? My sense, in opposition to your support, he should not have been placed in a position where his beliefs were so likely to be in conflict. Likely in the new the position at nsa. Good policy wonks also have deeply imbedded values and loyalties the must be monitored by an outside source. Your support didn’t meet the requirement.
    Bert swanson

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  70. Outraged American says:

    Hezbollah fights for its own people, so what is Chris Hedge’s beef
    with it? Has Hezbollah blown-up a Burger King in Omaha lately?
    Seriously, we need to stay the F out of people’s business and
    concentrate on our own. If we had poured a miniscule fraction of
    what we’ve spent on wars we wouldn’t have Farrah (or anyone else)
    dying of cancer, or the state of California having to issues IOUs.
    We here in the U.S. don’t need an external bogeyman, we already
    have more than enough in our own government. This whole “War
    on Terror” is a War on Islam and anyone else who stands in
    UsRael’s way.
    We’re F ed in so many ways, and yet too stupid to connect the dots.

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  71. Don Bacon says:

    by Chris Hedges:
    I am no friend of the Iranian regime, which helped create and arm Hezbollah, is certainly meddling in Iraq, has persecuted human rights activists, gays, women and religious and ethnic minorities, embraces racism and intolerance and uses its power to deny popular will. But I do not remember Iran orchestrating a coup in the United States to replace an elected government with a brutal dictator who for decades persecuted, assassinated and imprisoned democracy activists. I do not remember Iran arming and funding a neighboring state to wage war against our country. Iran never shot down one of our passenger jets as did the USS Vincennes—caustically nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels—when in June 1988 it fired missiles at an Airbus filled with Iranian civilians, killing everyone on board. Iran is not sponsoring terrorism within the United States, as our intelligence services currently do in Iran. The attacks on Iranian soil include suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, sabotage and “targeted assassinations” of government officials, scientists and other Iranian leaders. What would we do if the situation was reversed? How would we react if Iran carried out these policies against us?
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/20090622_iran_had_a_democracy_before_we_took_it_away/

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  72. アットローン says:

    アットローンですがんばってくださいね。

    Reply

  73. Outraged American says:

    Preemie Kuwaiti babies were being thrown from incubators by
    evil Iraqi invaders! This straight out of the mouth of another
    pretty young woman, who unbeknownst to the world, WAS THE
    DAUGHTER OF THE KUWAITI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.!!!
    But, nah — the U.S. government NEVER, EVER lies to get what it
    wants. Grenada was a real threat too…
    I’m paraphrasing: one death is a tragedy, a million are a statistic.
    Neda’s death was tragic, but it’s not worth starting WW III over.
    And the lefties are or were all amped up about Iran. It’s the new
    Darfur. Thankfully, their short attention spans have now turned
    to the King of Pop/ Degenerate Pedophile, who, sheerly by
    kicking the bucket, has been miraculously transformed into
    some kind of semblance of an actual human being.
    Hey Wig Wag, I actually worked with MJ’s handlers back in the
    early 90s (I’ve done a lot, but solely in my mind, according to
    you) — IMO guilty of something unsavory in the first little boy
    case and I was in the front row although not in the bedroom.

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  74. samuelburke says:

    and who in their right mind would believe that what the iranian ambassador to mexico says can not be possibly true?
    The US may have been behind the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old Iranian woman who was shot to death in Tehran’s post election protest.
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=99133&sectionid=3510203
    “This death of Neda is very suspicious,” Iran’s Ambassador to Mexico, Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri said. “My question is how is it that this Miss Neda is shot from behind, gets shot in front of several cameras, and is shot in an area where no significant demonstration was being held?” CNN reported on Friday.
    He suggested that the CIA or another intelligence service may have been responsible.
    “Well, if the CIA wants to kill some people and attribute that to the government elements, then choosing women is an appropriate choice, because the death of a woman draws more sympathy,” Ghadiri told CNN.
    Ghadiri said that the bullet that was found in her head was not a type that was used in Iran.
    “These are the methods that terrorists, the CIA and spy agencies employ,” he said. “Naturally, they would like to see blood spilled in these demonstrations, so that they can use it against the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is one of the common methods that the CIA employs in various countries.”
    But, he added, “I am not saying that now the CIA has done this. There are different groups. It could be the [work of another] intelligence service; it could be the CIA; it could be the terrorists. Anyway, there are people who employ these types of methods.”
    Asked about his government’s imposition of restrictions on reporting by international journalists, Ghadiri blamed the reporters themselves.
    “Some of the reporters and mass media do not reflect the truth,” he said.
    For example, he said that international news organizations have lavished coverage on demonstrations by supporters of Mir Hossein Moussavi, who lost to the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    He continued that those same news organizations have not shown “many, many demonstrations in favor of the winner,” he said.
    Ghadiri went on to say that members of the international news media have failed to report on people setting banks and buses on fire or attacking other people. “The only things they show are the reactions of the police,” he said.
    In response, CIA spokesman George Little denied the allegations.

    Reply

  75. samuel burke says:

    …we’re a country that, for the last decade, acquiesced meekly and quietly as our Government transferred huge amounts of national wealth to a tiny elite; launched a devastating war based on purely false pretenses; tortured, spied on us and literally claimed the right to invalidate law and the Constitution; and turned itself over to the highest bidders. Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, 3/21/09
    but dont worry about anything cause were in the u.s and we are a democracy.
    banana republic writ large.

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  76. Don Bacon says:

    Ahmad Chalabi was an Iranian agent who helped suck a willing US into the Iraq fiasco.
    //Over a period of four years, the CIA’s Iraq Operation Group provides the Iraqi National Congress (INC) with $100 million, which the organization uses to set up training camps and propaganda operations in Northern Iraq. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; Ritter, 2005, pp. 128] During this time span, Chalabi allegedly misuses a lot of the funds. “There was a lot of hanky-panky with the accounting: triple billing, things that weren’t mentioned, things inflated… It was a nightmare,” a US intelligence official who works with Chalabi will say in 2004. [Newsweek, 4/5/2004]//
    http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?entity=robert_baer
    Later Chalabi re-emerged as a central figure in Iraq. His latest job: To press Iraq’s central government to use early security gains from the surge to deliver better electricity, health, education and local security services to Baghdad neighborhoods.
    Now we have another noble cause: “Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran.” May God save us from progressive realism.

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  77. ... says:

    don bacon thanks for that link.. i read one of the articles that linked to laura rozen in the l.a. times which i found informative… out of it i learned ” As much as $50 million of the funds requested will go to the Voice of America for Persian-language broadcasts. The State Department also is planning to send 15 foreign service officers to countries neighboring Iran and to capitals with large Iranian exile populations to serve as “Iran watchers.”
    looking into Voice of America a bit further i see
    “Under United States law (Section 501 of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948), the Voice of America is forbidden to broadcast directly to American citizens. The intent of the legislation is to protect the American public from propaganda actions by its own government.[30]
    Although VOA does not broadcast domestically, Americans can access the programs through shortwave and streaming audio over the Internet.”
    makes sense.. i wonder how many americans are aware the VOA is owned by the federal gov’t and that funds go to it for these types of activities?
    and also “At the Pentagon, the new Iranian directorate has been set up inside its policy shop, which previously housed the Office of Special Plans. The controversial intelligence analysis unit, established before the Iraq war, championed some of the claims of Ahmad Chalabi. A number of assertions made by the former Iraqi exile and onetime Pentagon favorite were later discredited.”
    one would have thought the mess created by the OSP would have been forever shut down, but clearly that is naive on my part to think that! when something can fly in the face of reality with impunity, or worse outright political support, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for the usa to ever get off the wrong track with its foreign policy…

    Reply

  78. Don Bacon says:

    Bottom line: The US has a long record of funding terrorist groups and dissidents in Iran with the goal of overthrowing the government, and now’s the time for everyone to get on board. While some call it an illegal interference in another country’s internal affairs, others call it progressive realism.
    http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2009/06/23/has-the-u-s-played-a-role-in-fomenting-unrest-during-irans-election/
    Obama has done: The administration is currently moving forward with plans to subsidize Iranian dissident groups with $20 million in the form of USAID grants, in addition to the considerable funds which have previously been committed.
    This represents a shift for the US. Previous efforts of this type, and there have been many, have been covert. Those days are over, for Iran, certainly, and who’s next?
    Bush reserved the right to bomb and invade countries suspected of this or that, which didn’t work out so well. Now we have a new paradigm (the previous one still being active) — openly and publicly supporting dissidents in any country designated (in this case by Israel, actually) as deserving of such attention. Thus American Exceptionalism takes on a new, modern, progressive approach, call it Progressive Realism.
    Ztahras is correct, leftys don’t particularly care. We’re more interested in more important matters, matters closer to our own lives, for heaven’s sakes. Health care, jobs, education and the economy. So it’s the ‘foreign policy experts’, the graduated coffee-getters, who are pushing this, and those concerned with Obama’s image. It does have the advantage of taking minds off of more difficult domestic matters, like Michael Jackson did. And it includes healthy doses of an American staple — righteous indignation directed toward alleged corrupt foreigners.

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  79. ... says:

    dan kervick – excellent comments and observations in your linked post here at 2;47pm… thanks! it would be great if obama was to read it and act on it.. hope springs eternal…
    one of your comments “The result is the same: enemies of Obama’s Cairo approach and agenda are trying to pull all the supports away from the policy that was emerging, and force Obama’s hand back toward the beltway consensus of the last two administrations. That consensus leads to the continued occupation, subjugation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, under the protective draping of unending and unproductive peace process rhetoric, and the cynical manufacture of perpetually deferred and ultimately idle hopes.” indeed…..and that appears to where obama is headed and to be subjugated to these same folks.. i agree he needs to take some bold moves, for example as you state to fire someone to show who is boss, not to mention any of the other ideas you suggest in your provocative post.. time is running out and it doesn’t look promising at this moment dan.. he is becoming more boxed in and soon will be unable to move in a commanding way… excellent commentary from you.. thanks again..

    Reply

  80. Zathras says:

    I haven’t seen much “deep discomfort on the left” over Iran. There haven’t been enough American liberals who know or care much about Iranian politics to get upset about it, and the Iranian government — the Twitter/Facebook loophole notwithstanding — has been effective in shutting down communication to the outside world from the opposition there. The chief way it has done this, incidentally, is by all but banning reporters from outside Iran from the streets. President Obama might have said something about this sometime during the last two weeks, if he weren’t so concerned about being accused of meddling.
    Has Obama followed the correct line of play with respect to Iran? I don’t think so myself. He started off convinced that his new approach to Iran was what was needed for a new beginning with that country; the election controversy took him and his team by surprise, and for the last two weeks they’ve been reacting to events — initially with a lag of several days, now more promptly. I think he’s been timid, afraid of being accused of things Iranian government officials were bound to accuse him of anyway. He’s missed an opportunity, in the short run, to put and keep the Iranian regime on the defensive internationally.
    What he hasn’t done is any damage to himself in domestic politics. The Iranian elections were in the news for a few days, but for almost all Americans and certainly for most liberals the key issues are the economy and health care. Very few of them were invested at all in the Iranian opposition, and the government there has no friends here either. Obama does face the likelihood that his willingness to negotiate with Iran isn’t likely to lead to much now, but there was nothing much he could do about that and no one here will blame him for it.
    Iran’s internal troubles are likely to make its government touchier and less confident in its foreign policy than it has been lately; the flow of information about Iranian politics to Western intelligence agencies will increase substantially after this month’s events. Over the long term, this should give Obama’s administration options in the region it didn’t have before, and these may end up being more important than the President’s missteps this week.

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  81. ... says:

    btw emptywheel has a good article up on torture as it relates the usa which some might find interesting..
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/06/26/wrong-agency-mr-president/#more-4368

    Reply

  82. ... says:

    steve thanks for your additional comments.. i was speaking generally as it pertains to the usa, as that is just how i see it – a double standard… however that may not be a fair characterization of you.. i realize that iran and saudi arabia are different situations which require a different response, but can’t help but wonder as others why the appearance of a double standard seems clearly at work.. perhaps when you have time, or someone more nuanced on these matters can explain to the lay person how singling out iran, or iraq for that matter can be justified on any obvious basis other then saudi arabia’s position with regard to oil and its close relationship as a consequence with a certain heirachy in the usa.. and i am not talking about where the 9-11 apparently came from at this point either… there are too many inconsistencies to it all and i feel the general characterization is an honest one..

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  83. Dan Kervick says:

    I believe the events in Iran have probably changed the playing field in a way that requires a tactical diplomatic shift from Obama. History has a way of doing that.
    I commented on this recently near the bottom of another thread:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/06/iran_an_egyptia/#comment-133041

    Reply

  84. Steve Clemons says:

    …, I disagree with the characterization. At another time, I’ll write about why Saudi Arabia and Iran are different situations. Essentially, I’m a progressive realist and don’t think that there is much utility in a single standard. That’s too intellectually thin an approach and too at odds with the realities we have to deal with in a world only occasionally sensitive to US notions about civil and human rights and our form of democratic practice. Our own abandonment of those principles during the last 8 years has made promulgating them all the more difficult. In any case, I recognize we are not on the same page on this but don’t want my views mischaracterized too rashly. all the best, steve

    Reply

  85. ... says:

    it is called a double standard don, and it comes into play whenever their is an underlying interest in fomenting hostility and discontent towards a particular regime more then another…. some folks are quite happy to play along with it all, and it seems especially the case with power brokers in washington who always have bigger fish to fry then the ordinary man who sees thru the bullshit..

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  86. Don Bacon says:

    cynical realism?
    As I recall Steve’s opinion is that we should not be concerned about the lack of universal suffrage in Saudi Arabia, where women can’t vote, because it was an internal affair and geopolitics trumps a lack of democracy. Why should Iran be different?

    Reply

  87. Don Bacon says:

    from The Telegraph:
    Mr Obama has given the protesters – who are calling for the enactment of his Cairo principles – the cold shoulder. Change in Iran, it appears, is the last thing he wants. Mr Obama clearly assumed that the election was over and that he would be dealing with Mr Ahmadinejad, thereby implicitly aligning himself with the theocratic Iranian regime.
    This has led to deep discomfort on the Left. Steve Clemons, a self-described “progressive realist” and senior fellow at the New America Foundation think tank, said that Mr Obama’s stance as it developed last week was “somewhat tragic” as well as flawed. “To a certain degree,” said Mr Clemons, “he’s undermining his own mystique and frankly his own effect, if in fact it does exist, with this premature, cynical realism.”//
    Has Steve aligned with the Butcher of Beirut?
    Mir-Hossein Mousavi, prime minister for most of the 1980s, personally selected his point man for the Beirut terror campaign, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-pur, and dispatched him to Damascus as Iran’s ambassador, according to former CIA and military officials. The ambassador in turn hosted several meetings of the cell that would carry out the Beirut attacks, which were overheard by the National Security Agency. Bloody attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 killed over 200 Americans.
    Or what should the US do in this internal Iranian matter? I don’t remember any Iranian interference in flawed USA elections.

    Reply

  88. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What happens now? What a question. Isn’t it obvious?
    Events have unfolded perfectly on script; Diplomatic engagement has become untenable, rendered such by the media extravagansa that has so underscored our detestable and immoral political posturing in regards to human rights and our concern for fellow man.
    The demonization rhetoric will continue, we will cripple the Iranian people with ever stringent sanctions that will do little to sway the actual Iranian regime, and this monstrous leech known as “Israel” will eventually find or create cause to spill the blood of American servicemen on Iranian soil. Or, like Israel is so fond of doing, we will simply bomb the shit out of the very people we just spent two weeks fiegning concern for, under the guise of “defending ourselves” from yet one more politically contrived “threat”.

    Reply

  89. TonyForesta says:

    The “ultimate boss” is the military and intelligence industrial complexes, and now thanks to the fascist in the bushgov, private military and private intelligence industrials complexes.
    I hold a little hope that the military would not train their weapons on Americans, because our volunteer warfighter and military are composed of mostly poor and working class Americans. The is no doubt about the intelligence, and private military, and private intelligence complexes who would shoot their own mothers, sisters, and baby daughters for the right price.
    This is what America has become. America has shapeshifted into a nation of predators. Not healers, not peacemakers, not manufacturers, – even science is ridiculed as ungodly unless the science is focused on weapons and warprofiteering. We are a nation of institutionalized PONZI schemes, and predation, wanton profiteering, and warmaking.
    America is crumbling, and unless and until the people replace FAILED managements, and FAILED institutions both of whom bruted FAILED models, and hold thieves and swindlers, and criminals accountable for their theivery, swindling, and crimes, – we are certain to devolve into the banana republic many of the detached (as in not captured, as in not purchased, or bribed), economists are describing and predicting.
    In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone biiiaatches!

    Reply

  90. ... says:

    ‘ultimate boss’.. i like that 2 word catchphrase!
    the us of israel is a plutocracy run by moneyed interests.. when it comes to what figureheads like obama actually have control over, i would say that it’s not much… money calls the shots and is the ‘ultimate boss’ in all of this….
    now what would iran have that money would like to get its greedy hands on????

    Reply

  91. WigWag says:

    “what are the chances of the usa of israel having a person who has a parent of islamic decent in a position overseeing israel???”
    I guess that it didn’t occur to you that Dennis Ross’ ultimate boss, the President of the United States, had a “parent of Islamic decent” (his father).

    Reply

  92. ... says:

    things would appear to be turning back to normal in the us of israel if that is the case wigwag..
    “Ross was born in San Francisco and grew up in Marin County. His Jewish mother and Catholic stepfather raised him in a non-religious atmosphere…”
    what are the chances of the usa of israel having a person who has a parent of islamic decent in a position overseeing israel???
    “In their 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, named Ross as a member of the “Israeli lobby” in the United States.[11] Ross in turn criticized the academics behind the paper.[11] Professor of political science Norman Finkelstein, in an article published in 2007 in Journal of Palestine Studies, held that all the concessions at Camp David came from the Palestinian side and none from the Israeli side.”
    meanwhile chas freeman is a small footnote somewhere off the page…

    Reply

  93. WigWag says:

    The Dennis Ross promotion is a done deal. According to Laura Rozen, “Dennis Ross will become Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region with overall responsibility for the region.”
    Rozen goes on to say,
    “National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon both have the rank of assistant to the president. NSC Director of Strategic Communications Denis McDonough and Chief of Staff Mark Lippert have the rank of deputy assistant to the president. Ross, along with Lute, will have the rank of special assistant to the president.”
    She quotes Aaron David Miller as saying,
    “This is really smart politics, and very smart policy…It’s smart policy because the administration lacks (and they know it) a strategic and integrated view. You need to think two or three steps ahead and very broadly how the pieces fit together. And Dennis is very good at this…It’s smart policy, because after we get done with the brouhaha with the Israelis over settlements, we have to deal with them in a very close and intimate way in the event we’re going to want to be able to succeed on Israeli-Arab peace and on Iran.”
    Yesterday Rozen said, “The other group said to be concerned by Ross’s perceived takeover of Middle East turf is the team of Middle East Peace special envoy George Mitchell, which now has to contend not only with resistance from all quarters of the region, but also a rival power center in the NSC that hasn’t tended to see Middle East peace issues the same way…”
    So Dennis Ross is back in the drivers seat again; there just must be something about him that Presidents really like; he’s had more comebacks than anyone in Washington except for David Gergen.
    Are the rumors true that when the Jim Jones is sent packing that Ross will be up for his job?
    And how will this effect American policy towards Iran?

    Reply

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