Haleh Esfandiari Released


First of all, this is excellent news.
Second of all, it will be interesting to learn the back story. There are three other Iranian-Americans still being detained, so there is still room for very bad things to happen in the relationship.
But my hunch here is that China is playing a balancing role behind the scenes. The U.S. is still working hard on lining up political support for a third round of UN Security Council sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program — but after the relatively mild and constructive IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear activities and now the release of Esfandiari — either this is part of backroom deal-making between the US and Iran, or is part of a confidence builiding process that the Chinese or Europeans are coaxing Iran through.
Alternatively, Iran may just be on the edge of a kind of “charm offensive” that it is directing on its own to balance the bleat that will soon start from the neocon crowd these coming weeks.
— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “Haleh Esfandiari Released

  1. MarkyMark says:

    arthurdecco isn’t just anti-Israel. That would be completely legitimate. He is known in Canadian blogland for putting forth certain…errrr….more discreditable views.


  2. Robert M. says:

    Dear arthurdecco
    Your response completely proved my point.
    With this statement — “Israel and its insidious and immoral American supporters have too much influence over American foreign policy” — you brand yourself as anti-Israel. Period. Full stop. No grays. Its all b&w.
    Now indeed Israel’s lobbying power may be greater than any other group, save for ALL of the Pentagon’s Suppliers. And both groups should have less. But I’d like to see the NRA go away too, and that’s not happening anytime soon.
    But the power within the Executive that some of those lobbyists have derives from Cheney/Addington, and the POLICY we are seeing is a Cheney/Addington policy.
    Israel & its existence & future is the background noise to a Fixation over Oil/Hormuz and American HARD Power. That’s Cheney’s THING and it predates even his service as Ford’s Chief of Staff. All those neocons/Israeli lobbyists are just TOOLS for Cheney. Without him, they’d have NO power. Zilch. Nada.
    Me two-dimensional? All I read above is vituperative flaying around over an idee fixee, when we should all be lobbying Pelosi over issuing clear declaration to boot that an attack on Iran is an illegal act & so impeachable.
    Do something concrete and write/call every damn congress person and senator. Call on all the groups you are affiliated with to do the same.
    But either directly engage with the substantive matter of Steve’s posts or go off to your own playpen. True discussion has evaporated here.


  3. arthurdecco says:

    “PLEASE get your Own Room, i.e. a Blog, and then link to it from here when you wish to make GENERAL points in your constant anti-Israel screeds. Its all Israel’s fault? There’s quite a lot of culpability to go around. And until such time as ANY woman can walk around outdoors in a Muslim country without wearing a head scarf, and no one takes official notice of it, then I know who stands with me on defending the practicable outcomes of Our Western Values–which were no mean things to achieve and are under seige from both “not-so-friendlys” and “friends” to boot.” posted by Robert M.
    Okay, who said it was ALL Israel’s fault? It seemed to me the posters were claiming Israel had/has plenty of enablers, apologists and propagandists helping out all over America.
    You seem to be advocating for allowing the Israeli-firsters to direct America into nuking Iran because the bastards in charge of Iran force women to wear head scarves, Mr. M.
    Surely, that can’t be possible…
    And as far as your contention that all three posters are the same person – could there possibly be three (or more) individuals reading the Washington Note that believe that Israel and its insidious and immoral American supporters have too much influence over American foreign policy – especially concerning the aggression on display directed at Iran?
    & as far as your instruction to all of us to tell Congress and the administration what to do goes… What the hell do you think millions and millions and MILLIONS of the American people have been doing since the war in Iraq started? And have Congress and the administration been paying attention?
    No, they have not.
    Because they’re already listening to those that sign their cheques, present and future – not to the citizens of the United States. For them the governing have only demonstrated contempt.
    Go and attack the guilty, Robert M – and leave the informed alone – we owe two dimensional overviews like yours no respect whatsoever…


  4. Robert M. says:

    To LURKER, ZIPSTER & EASY E [if you aren’t all the same person]
    It isn’t that I won’t take your cri de couers seriously, its just that they are all so OFF-OFF this particular topic that I as a willing-to-listen/read reader am PUT OFF by it all.
    PLEASE get your Own Room, i.e. a Blog, and then link to it from here when you wish to make GENERAL points in your constant anti-Israel screeds. Its all Israel’s fault? There’s quite a lot of culpability to go around. And until such time as ANY woman can walk around outdoors in a Muslim country without wearing a head scarf, and no one takes official notice of it, then I know who stands with me on defending the practicable outcomes of Our Western Values–which were no mean things to achieve and are under seige from both “not-so-friendlys” and “friends” to boot.
    And by the by you need to be daily writing & calling Da Speaker’s office because it is indeed a grave point in our political discourse if Cheney/Bush launch air strikes against Iran (1) without the Joint Chiefs active support [maybe some one of them would have the stones to resign but I doubt it], and certainly (2) without the troops needed to back it up–Bush has broken the Army, blunted the Spear of the Republic.
    The Senior Iranians of All Persuasions have reached an apparent consensus over short term tactics, objectively making use of the appropriate & good itentions of the Europeans & Chinese [o, how delicious the superpower irony is that] to put themselves in the eyes of the world as the “aggrieved party”. The release of Haleh, after demonstrating that they would /could indeed hold her forever, is a tactic within a tactic and doesn’t surprise me. It means that the Rationalist-Ultras are in ascendancy within the council groups. But yes I do not blind myself to the fact that they are Ultras in the end.
    And Our Tactics & Strategy is non-existent, and again has nothing in the short short term to do with Israel. That Condi has no leverage with Georgie anymore is evident by (1) our lack of anything but bluster in response, and (2) that the Northern Irish with the S&S’s in Helsinki(?) are pulling off a functional partition of Iraq without any input fromthe US at all.
    And lets be straight about this: Mr Phineas T. Bluster himself, ole Can’t Shoot Straight Dickie C, don’t need no hotshot Israelis to be where he’s at. Cheney vs Iran is just Cheney’s World Vision against the Mullahs. If Israel didn’t exist, he’d STILL be taking this tack because its about (1) Oil=Strait of Hormuz and (2) USA Global HARD-POWER dominance.
    That Dick can’t see that he’s undermining his own goals of (1) & (2) by pushing these air strikes with no ground troops to back him up is the absolutely worse foreign policy positioning this country has ever been put in. And the reverberations will be immense and bad.
    So stop telling Steve what to do and start directly telling all the congress people as well as the Speaker what to do. Its our job to push them to do their job. And having Pelosi put a shot across ole Big-Time’s furtive brow with an impeachment threat IF they attack Iran, period, is what’s got to happen now.
    Or Cheney/Bush will complete the job of destroying America’s foreign policy street cred utterly & for three generations. One is a twelve-year-old girl given to public tantrums and the other is a fifteen-year-old private school bully.
    Go attack them and not Steve.


  5. easy e says:

    “Do We Have the Courage to Stop War With Iran?”
    – By Ray McGovern
    “…It Is Up to Us
    Air strikes on Iran seem inevitable, unless grass-roots America can arrange a backbone transplant for Congress. The House needs to begin impeachment proceedings without delay. Why? Well, there’s the Constitution of the United States, for one thing. For another, the initiation of impeachment proceedings might well give our senior military leaders pause. Do they really want to precipitate a wider war and risk destroying much of what is left of our armed forces for the likes of Bush and Cheney? Is another star on the shoulder worth THAT?
    The deterioration of the US position in Iraq; the perceived need for a scapegoat; the knee-jerk deference given to Israel’s myopic and ultimately self-defeating security policy; and the fact that time is running out for the Bush/Cheney administration to end Iran’s nuclear program – together make for a very volatile mix.
    So, on Tuesday let’s put away the lawn chairs and roll up our sleeves. Let’s remember all that has already happened since Labor Day five years ago.
    There is very little time to exercise our rights as citizens and stop this madness. At a similarly critical juncture, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was typically direct. I find his words a challenge to us today:
    “There is such a thing as being too late…. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity…. Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.'” ”


  6. easy e says:

    By Ed Ciaccio
    Right now there are three massive U.S. aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf, and B-1 and B-2 bombers and many fighters on airfields in countries surrounding Iran. They are there waiting for Bush, with Cheney’s urging, to give the signal to repeat “shock and awe’, this time on the Iranian people.
    Right now another propaganda campaign, similar to that which preceded our 2003 Iraq invasion, is beginning, but this time charging Iran with unproven “evils” against our troops in Iraq. Again it is accepted without challenge by our compliant, corporate mainstream media with its many links to the so-called “defense” industry. Meanwhile, that same media distracts us with “coverage” of Larry Craig’s men’s room saga, or the death of Princess Di ten years later, or John Edwards’ haircuts, or Britney, or Lindsay, or Paris, or…
    And right now, Iranian forces are accused, with little, if any, solid evidence, of helping kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Meanwhile, ignored by our media, U.S. special forces and CIA operatives are in Iran selecting targets for our planes, drones, and cruise missiles and supporting anti-Iranian government groups there. In effect, we have been waging war on Iran from inside Iran for almost two years already (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4180087.stm and http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0620-31.htm ).
    And now Bush wants our always-accommodating Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to declare a part of Iran’s military as “terrorists.” This will enable him to attack Iran without Congressional authorization.
    These are also facts.
    So what will you do about this?
    Will you be a “Good German”?


  7. easy e says:

    ***Question for Mr. Clemons:***
    When will it be time to stop being “good Germans”????????????????????
    * * * * * * * * *
    Intelligence about Iraq was ?fixed? starting in 2002 to support Bush and Blair?s decision to attack Iraq (http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/ and http://globalresearch.ca/articles/SMI505A.html )
    The U.S./U.K. invasion and occupation of Iraq is illegal and constitutes the supreme war crime, that of an unprovoked, preventive war of aggression similar to Nazi Germany?s invasion of Poland in 1939 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661134.stm , http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/13670 , and http://www.counterpunch.org/freeman09172003.html )
    Over one million Iraqis died, including over 500,000 children, as a result of the sanctions imposed by George H.W. Bush after the 1991 Gulf War and then maintained by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush until the U.S./U.K. invasion in March, 2003 (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/iraq1/2002/paper.htm#summary , http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/418625.stm , http://www.infowars.net/articles/march2007/270307Iraq_toll.htm , and http://www.thenation.com/doc/20011203/cortright ) as all three administrations tried to provoke ?regime change? in Iraq
    Detainees held in U.S. prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq have been tortured (http://www.forbes.com/work/feeds/afx/2005/06/24/afx2110388.html and http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/project.jsp?project=us_torture_abuse )
    CIA ?Rendition? (kidnapping) of terrorist suspects to nations known to torture started in the Clinton administration, continued and increased under Bush, and was known by ?top officials? (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/04/60minutes/main678155.shtml and http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR510512006 )
    U.S. forces have committed war crimes by using weapons such as napalm (Mark 77 firebombs), depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and cluster bombs in Iraq (http://www.brusselstribunal.org/WMD.htm , http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/was-there-napalm-in-fallujah/ , http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11020.htm , and http://www.consumersforpeace.org/pdf/war_crimes_iraq_101006.pdf )
    Between 600,000 and one million Iraqis have died since the March, 2003 illegal U.S./U.K. invasion and occupation* (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/world/middleeast/11casualties.html?ex=1318219200&en=516b1d070ff83c15&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss , http://pressesc.com/news/99409082007/one-million-iraqis-killed-us-invasion )
    In spite of prior warnings, Bush failed to have the New Orleans levees repaired or see New Orleans was properly prepared for Hurricane Katrina (http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,372455,00.html and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11627394/ )
    Bush admitted he broke the FISA law, an impeachable offense (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1216-01.htm , http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20051230.html , and http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/19/1515212 )
    See “Are We Good Germans?”


  8. zipster says:

    I think that you are one of the first to write about some backroom confidence building moves encouraged by the Euros, China or Russia. Several events point to this:
    – the announcement of the release of Esfandiari occured at about the same time that the Iranians and IAEA were announcing a timetable in Tehran for Iran to resolve remaining issues;
    – according to the AP, “The decision comes two weeks after Safavi told the local press that the Guards would retaliate against Washington’s attempts to register it as terrorist” and
    (link: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAN_REVOLUTIONARY_GUARD?SITE=FLPET&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT)
    – as you’ve noted before, the IAEA report notes that Iran enrichment so far is below the levels expected. There is specualtion the either the Iranians have had technological problems or they have made a political decision to slow down.
    I also saw an interview with al Baradei about a week ago in which he proposes an international consortium along with Iran to enrich uranium but on Russian soil, at least until Iran’s intentions are more clear. The Iranians themselves have talked about enrichment through a consortium but on Iranian soil. If al Baradei is saying the enrichment can occur but not on Iranian soil until remaining issues are resolved, the parties respective positions are not that far apart, in the long view.
    My own hunch is that the Chinese and Russians are pressing the Iranians to come clean on the remaining issues and, if they do, China and Russia will oppose the Third Round of Sanctions at the Security Council. Also, the announcement by Muqtada alSar of a 6-month ceasefire by his militia might also be tied into a possible “charm offensive.”
    If there is no Third Round of sanctions, I just don’t see what hook Cheney et al. would have for initiating a strike on Iran barring some smoking gun on Iranian engagement in Iraq.
    Despite all the huffing and puffing on the net about a post-Labor push by the neocons for an Iran attack, I just don’t see it happening.


  9. Lurker says:

    Steve, why don’t you tell your buddies over in D.C. (like David Dreier) to back the hell off of Iran? SCREAM NO.
    For the first time in my life I understand the true reason behind the American Revolution — an overthrow of a tyranny was what our ancestors risked everything they had for — but look what we have now? We’re a fiefdom of Israel.
    And I’m glad that I come from a state with a lot of people who own UN-REGISTERED guns — they’re the ones who are going to save us as opposed to “liberals” who’ll think they’re brave when they whack their peace signs against Blackwater tanks.
    I always thought guns were barbaric, but now I understand that the Second Amendment exists for a reason.
    And I have never actually touched a gun and don’t own one. And never intend to, unless in defense of my family. We’re getting down the wire here, and the Democrats do nothing.
    First things first — get Israel out of U.S. foreign policy. Second — repair our relations with the world.
    We can live in peace, but it appear that we won’t because of Israel, and her supporters collusion — support of Israel is the one thing that unites “both” parties.
    Time for another party. One that tells Israel and her supporters to shut the hell up and get out of our business.


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