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The Race for Iran


Hillary was interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio today, you can listen to it here, to discuss Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and the various public statements, by Netanyahu and President Obama associated with the visit.  The Obama Administration congratulated itself over not letting Netanyahu tie it to a specific red line for Iranian nuclear development, short of building an actual weapon, which Obama would “enforce” with American military power. But Hillary points out that Obama has let Netanyahu push him into a more dangerous position–namely, that unless the Iranians surrender their current nuclear program (which they won’t), Obama may now be on the hook to use American military power against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear infrastructure.  All after November 2012, of course.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett



  1. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Germans are deeply prejudiced against Islam.

    No doubt.

    And I cannot fathom or understand their attitude; they have no direct experience with Muslims (barring Turkish immigrants in Germany) – unlike the English or the French.

    I suppose they annihilated the Jews and now they need some one else to hate.

    On the national political level, they are in the pocket of Israelis.

  2. BiBiJon says:

    The world is flat, and can spin on a stick

    Thomas Friedman wants you to believe Israel is not doing everything it possibly can to push the US into another war of choice.


    Click on the Reader Picks of the comment section to see why Tom is spinning.

  3. ToivoS says:

    Catellio says: “Given what FYI, Eric, BibiJon, Photi, ToivoS, and others have written, they believe her to be wrong.

    Is that right?”

    Not really. Hillary has been right about too many things to make such a blanket statement. We disagree with one of her conclusions. A little background. The Leveretts are diplomats and in my estimation good ones. The disagreement I had was in the political interpretation of Obama’s actions over the last few days. In spite of his continued belligerence against Iran and promises of obeisance to Israel, these were all statements that are normal boiler plate for national politicians. Those statements should be ignored. What was significant is that Obama drew his red line at Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, not nuclear capability. This was a big thumb in the eye of Bibi and was the big political story.

    I do not expect diplomats to be politically savvy. I just finished reading George Kennan’s professional autobiography. Here was a man that might very well have been the best American diplomat of the 20th century. One thing that was clear he did not have very good political judgement. He went on and on about his frustrations dealing with Ukrainian and Croation ex-patriot constituencies in the US that interfered with rational diplomacy. (In those days it was the politics of anticommunism, today it is of Zionism). Anyway, he really did not know how to deal those groups. So the Leveretts are in good company.

  4. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Castellio: “Given what FYI, Eric, BibiJon, Photi, ToivoS, and others have written, they believe her to be wrong. Is that right?”

    That group are the suckers who believe an Iran war is fundamentally impossible or that the US is too weak economically or militarily to do anything.

    They’re wrong. They’ll find out.

    fyi: “The United States does not have the power to effect regime change in Iran. She has the power to wreck Iran.”

    That part is true. And that is the point of the exercise – to make money wrecking another country.

  5. Richard Steven Hack says:

    fyi: “If the P5+1 discussions in April ends with no progress, then yes, there will be war.”

    I’ll remember your commitment here…

  6. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Arnold: “If that’s true then either NATO is willing to take air casualties and attack Russian forces directly or Russia has a veto over NATO air operations in Syria. And if that’s true there will not be NATO air operations in Syria.”

    We’ve discussed this before. The odds are that no Russians will be (overtly at least) in control of Syria air defenses, nor that US and NATO aircraft will target Tartus (overtly at least).

    If any of what you suggest were true, Russia would say so and the US Pentagon would acknowledge that fact.

    You’ll also notice that the General did not say it could be done, but only that it would require a “significant commitment” – which is just being obvious. There is no such thing as an air defense system which cannot be degraded with repeated attacks in the manner used in Iraq and Libya – cruise missiles take out the radar in the first wave of attacks, high altitude smart bombing takes out more of the rest, and precision lower altitude bombing takes out the remainder. It will be done sector by sector if necessary to create a corridor for attacking aircraft to reach the flanks or further into the country.

    This is not something the US has any real problem with. The number of aircraft loss would be in the single digits, if that many.

  7. James Canning says:


    None of the German commentators quoted by David Gordon Smith at Spiegel.de today even mentioned Iran’s offer last September to stop enriching to 20 percent. Interesting to write about Iran’s refusal to negotiate and not mention a specific constructive offer.

  8. James Canning says:


    There is an astounding volume of financial instruments about, as you say. Reining in the banksters is a difficult task, and they may bring on an even worse financial crisis down the road.

    But EU will remain world’s largest economy, for decades to come.

  9. James Canning says:


    I personally think Obama would not attack Iran without clear indication Iran was going forward with building nukes. But, if Iran stockpiles enough 20% U, this may be taken as proof of intent to build nukes.

  10. BiBiJon says:

    From http://hir.harvard.edu/irans-nuclear-dilemma-understanding-the-iranian-threat

    On Iranian attitudes towards Jewish people, an objective assessment of the historical record speaks for itself. Iranians over millennia and with few exceptions have been friends and allies of the Jewish people. As the Book of Ezra informs us, it was none other than an Iranian emperor – Cyrus the Great – who championed the struggle of the Jewish people, freed them, and facilitated their return to the Promised Land. Countless examples of Iranian contributions to Jewish history or amicable partnerships are imprinted in the annals of time: i.e. the Second Temple’s construction was financed by the Iranian treasury, the Babylonian Talmud was finally written under Iranian rule, and Jews fought victoriously as brothers-in-arms with Persian-Parthian soldiers against invading Romans. More importantly, in more recent history, during World War II, the Iranian government of a predominantly Shia’ Muslim country saved the lives of the 150,000 Iranian-Jews by convincing Nazi ‘race experts’ that they were fully assimilated and Iranian diplomats throughout Europe readily issued visas to European-Jews, facilitating their escape from the Nazi killing machine. Iran today houses the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East after Israel. The Iranian Jewish community benefits from constitutional protection and is allocated a seat in Parliament. There is little interference with Jewish religious practice, yet the legal system does discriminate against religious minorities — this is an ‘institutional’ issue to be differentiated from the discourse of the Iranian people. The average Iranian, irrespective of religion, is also a victim of the limitations of Iran’s legal system.

  11. BiBiJon says:

    Castellio says:
    March 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I disagree with Hilary.

  12. Fiorangela says:

    Empty says: March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    re Esther, Purim, and “Jews could not defend themselves” — and the underlying notion that Persians were enemies to Jews, ever —

    The Persian Conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE compared with the Islamic conquest of 638 CE, Its Messianic nature and the role of the Jewish exilarch

    Either Netanyahu is unaware of the history of his own people or he willfully chooses to ignore it.

    Now we know, and knowing’s half the battle.

    “Explores the conquests of Jerusalem in 614 and 638 within the context of previous attempts at Jewish restoration. Discusses reasons for a Persian-Jewish alliance and later a Judeo-Arab alliance. In an attempt to reconcile contemporary sources, an account is given of Babylonian Jewish Exilarch Nechemiah ben Hushiel, his brother (Salmaan Farsi)and his nephew . . .who played pivotal roles in these conquests. Proposes that the twelve men who went to Mecca to meet with the Prophet were Jewish refugees from Edessa, by way of Medina. Suggesting that the authors of Sefer Zerubavel and the Prayer of Shimon bar Yochai were Jews from Medina. . . . [end of Abstract]

    It is estimated that about six million Jews lived throughout the Roman Empire and another two million lived under the Persian Empire. The Jews living in the Persian Empire were wealthier and enjoyed a much greater degree of freedom than their co-religionists living in the Roman Empire. At times the Jews in Persia attained semi-autonomy, collecting taxes and managing their own small army. . . .”


  13. Karl says:


    Yes its something absurd with Purim, or rather hostile espcially in these times. Celebrating the genocide/mass murder on religious grounds. Just imagine if it were the other way around. That Iran celebrated such a feast. Oh that would be antisemitism and Iran had to be bombed due their immoral feasts.

  14. Fiorangela says:

    Eric A. Brill says: March 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for linking to New York Times comments.


    It’s helpful and hopeful to know that one is not alone.

  15. Empty says:

    “permission from”, rather

  16. Empty says:

    “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a gift to President Obama: The Book of Esther.”….“I return from a very important visit to the US and Canada I was received warmly, we have many courageous friends. We are returning for Purim, and this evening we will read in the Book of Esther about those days in which Jews were not masters of their fate and could not defend themselves. Today we are in a different world and a different era; we have a strong state and army. The threats have not disappeared, but we can defend ourselves. We have very many friends that stand at our side and will do so at all times.”


    So, does that mean that he has gotten the permission of Xerxes Obama to spill 75 million people’s blood to match the 75,000 of their book?!

  17. fyi says:

    Castellio says: March 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I will directly comment on that.

    The United States does not have the power to effect regime change in Iran.

    She has the power to wreck Iran.

  18. Castellio says:

    Hillary Leverett repeats a few times that President Obama has “sown the seeds” for future military actions to effect regime change… no one has directly commented on that.

    Given what FYI, Eric, BibiJon, Photi, ToivoS, and others have written, they believe her to be wrong.

    Is that right?

  19. BiBiJon says:

    Eric A. Brill says:
    March 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Cyrus Safdari blogged: http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2012/03/making-israel-the-issue-in-iran-affairs.html

    “this is what’s strange: The Israelis are successful at pushing their issues into the spotlight and onto the agenda. And yet this is a double-edged sword: by doing so, they also inadvertently also make US relations with Israel an issue in the same spotlight.”


    Here’s the thing. Israel is not asking for the US citizenry to take a blind eye to Israel doing whatever she likes to Palestinians, and neighboring countries. They’re not asking for US to declare global war on (the tactic) of terror. Those kinds of things almost goes under the radar for the average person. But to do an Iraq*3 I.e. 3 times the number of dead, injured, and 3 times the treasure spent is making a lot of people wonder: in service of what debt? Cyrus is right.

    Here’s another prediction. Tipzi Livni will be PM by May, this year, and Hilary Clinton will find pressing family matters too important to continue at the state dept.

  20. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Clearly the German commentators are more ignorant, more stupid, and more prejudiced that American ones.

    I will discard everything they say.

  21. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    That might be, but the geopolitical position that obtained for US and EU prior to the implosion of their financed-based economies in 2011 is irretrievable.

    Consider: there are close to $ 750 trillions of US-EU created financial instruments floating around in the world economy.

    They cannot be redeemed even at 10 US cents on the dollar.

    Yes, there is a real economy in the world based on tangible assets and services.

    That economy will function.

    Iran is part of that real economy and US-EU, with their imploded economies, cannot destroy her.

    US-EU leaders have not yet assimilated this new geopolitical situation.

  22. James Canning says:


    I agree with you that Hamas does not want Gaza smashed again by the Israelis.

  23. James Canning says:


    London will remain a major financial center. Too much of the UK economy (and US economy) was in finance. Delicate balancing act, in a way, for London to keep its primacy within the EU while UK remains out of eurpzone.

  24. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/world/middleeast/obama-cites-window-for-diplomacy-on-iran-bomb.html?ref=global-home#commentsContainer

    I suggest others click on the link above, which will take you to the “Readers’ Picks” among the 660+ comments on a recent NY Times article on Israel/US/Iran. No need to read all the “readers’ picks.” Just scan the first 100 or so, and then ask yourself whether you see a pattern.

    You might also try the “NYT Picks” tab. Even there, one can’t find many reader comments expressing support for what Netanyahu had hoped for: a firm US commitment to bomb Iran tomorrow morning, if not sooner.

    A reader need not pass any test to submit comments to the New York Times, of course, but commenters nevertheless tend to be more educated and articulate than the average person in the street. I recognize that many here insist that, even so, American public opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m confident that most people who understand politicians in this country know otherwise — at least when public opinion is as one-sided and strongly expressed as it is in those reader comments.

  25. James Canning says:


    The EU is richer than the US. Full stop. Temporary problems are significant, and retirement age is going higher in a number of countries. EU will remain world’s largest economy, prabably for decades to come.

  26. James Canning says:

    German commentators are not optimistic about the new round of talks between Iran and the Six Powers. Spiegel.de report today on it.

  27. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: March 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    There will be no grand bargain with Iran within the medium term ( less than 5 years).

    Iranians no longer need that – they are entrenched in Syria and in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

    Nor the United States is capable – within the next 5 years – of making any such adjustments in her posture towards Iran.

    The best and the most likely scenario is the settlement of the Iranian nuclear file over several months in order to remove an incipientg threat to global security.

    [A threat that the Americans themselves created – by trying to use the Iran nulcear file in order to cause regime change and by, at the same time, cuddling their local thugs – Israel.]

    There could be covert agreements about Shia Crescent’s posture vis a vis Saudis and others.

    Even that much would require supreme level of competence and finesse from US Leaders [US Diplomats can do this, if they have the right marching orders.]

  28. Rehmat says:

    India blacklists Israeli military industries

    It looks like the Zionist regime has lost another “ally” against its ‘War on Iran’. It already lost Turkey and Egypt.


  29. BiBiJon says:


    “it’s all but certain that Iran’s US critics will insist that Iran was merely “negotiating” in bad faith just to buy more time.”

    One of the things that gives me hope we’re on a ‘grand bargain’ trajectory (and bless The Leveretts’ hearts for all they do to promote this goal) is Obama stating that it won’t all be resolved in a day.

    He was boxed in by Netanyahu in 2009 by not being allowed to see if a few more ‘Norooz’ messages could not have turned Iranians into jelly. He has obviously learnt his lesson — time, and plenty of it, is of the essence.

  30. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    That may yet occur but the foundations of their geopolitical power of the NATO states is gone, finished, kaput.

    EU states are now even more dependent on US and have to toe the line coming out of Washington.

    For Washington and EU, they cannot make whole the damage that they inflict on other states in their confrontation with Iran. They no longer have that capability.

    And, in an analogous manner, they do not have the economic power to buy off other states at acceptable prices.

    Just look at WTO.

    It is moribound.

    Membership in WTO was supposed to be a great concession to Iran in 2003; it is worthless now; when states – even US – are going around signing bi-lateral free trade deals.

    25% of UK GDP came from the City before 2007.

    Do you think that UK will ever go back to that?

  31. BiBi Jon,

    Your observations on “then and now” are entirely appropriate. The starting point (and ending point) for Iran/US talks — about anything, not just nuclear matters — will always depend considerably on their relative strengths, and even more so on the US’ perceptions of those relative strengths. I don’t know what the US really believes about Iran’s strength these days — whether, for example, it really believes its near-daily pronouncements about Iran’s “increasing isolation,” or its “sanctions-wracked economy,” or the overwhelming desire of the Iranian people to overthrow the “mad mullah” regime the first chance they get — but it’s pretty clear that the US has become a bit more humble (aka “realistic”) about the US’ own strength. It’s always been my feeling that Iran will get a better deal with the US if it can hold off until the parties’ relative strengths become even closer to equal — ideally to the point that Iran won’t even need to strike a deal unless the US can offer something really valuable in return. Until then, Iran should just work toward that favorable position and avoid getting bombed in the meantime.

    Of course, if an opportunity arises during that interim period for striking a deal, Iran should consider it, as I suggested in my previous post. Even so, it should be careful. I don’t know that Iran is anywhere close to a strength level that permits it to expect a favorable deal from the US. If it restarts talks but comes to that same conclusion and so no meaningful deal is struck, it’s all but certain that Iran’s US critics will insist that Iran was merely “negotiating” in bad faith just to buy more time.

  32. James Canning says:


    I think you overstate the significance of the current financial crisis in Europe. It likely will lead to a deeper union of an inner group of countries within the EU.

  33. Karl says:


    How will it make sense for them getting bombed?

  34. James Canning says:

    In the Financial Times March 6th (“An explosive mix”), Geoff Dyer and Richard McGregor wrote that the rising price of oil “is partly the result of sanctions placed on the Iranian regime because of its effort to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

  35. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    March 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree.

    Also, with that comes entirely different way of perceiving adversaries’ playing nice. Its no longer taken as a sign of weakness, or a euphoric feeling of being on a roll; it is taken as welcome ‘constructive’ gesture.

  36. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: March 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    The crucial element in “Now” is the final collapse of the Finance-based Economy of the Axis Powers in 2011.

    This event is at the same level of geo-political significance as the Collapse of Communism in 1991.

  37. fyi says:

    Karl says: March 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    It makes sense for them.

    They will receive Iranian aide, they are not enemy of US (or EU), and they are sitting this one out.

  38. BiBiJon says:

    Then, and Now

    Eric A. Brill says:
    March 7, 2012 at 11:46 am


    Then ….

    US had a $400 billion surplus
    The European economies were doing fine
    Operation Iraqi Freedom appeared like a resounding success
    The only worry about Egypt was Mubarak’s age
    All options on the table had not been answered by the dire straights of Hormoz
    etc, etc, etc.

    Don’t be hard on the Iranian government to have approached the debacle with playing ‘nice.’

    Now … things aren’t quite as one-sided.

    Your advice is sound. Not just suspension of enrichment, but also anything else that makes the West comfortable in persisting in endless negotiations while continuing hostile acts.

    In all, I am encouraged (opposite of dejected) by the narrowing of the gap between our respective takes on the issues.

  39. Karl says:

    Hamas deny they wouldnt help Iran. Makes me wonder if the article yesterday was planted/fabricated.

    Hamas denies it intends to stay out of Israeli war with Iran

    Not sure it would really be in Hamas interest since Israel will bombard Gaza more than ever before in such a case.

  40. Rick Taylor says:
    March 7, 2012 at 9:55 am

    That strikes me as sound analysis, your essential conclusion being: If Obama really meant that Iran must terminate its nuclear program entirely, why would he say that Iran’s (non-existent) nuclear program must be closely monitored?

    We might add that Obama also told Israel that negotiations with Iran won’t even get started if the West insists that Iran stop enriching uranium as a precondition to those talks. And more important even than that: If you read carefully the passage quoted above by Rick, Obama isn’t even saying that the END point of the negotiations necessarily must include a termination of Iranian enrichment. In other words, what Obama said allows for a deal in which Iran continues to enrich uranium on its own soil, more closely monitored than it is now. The fact that Obama’s language allows for that possibility does not mean, of course, that the US government would not insist on other conditions that Iran would find unacceptable. Nonetheless, a deal is at least possible if the US is willing to drop its long-time insistence on “no enrichment.”

    Agreeing to hold talks with Iran without insisting that Iran suspend enrichment during the talks would be an important step forward for the US toward the eventual “grand bargain” that the Leveretts envision (though I won’t hold my breath — many more steps would remain to get that far). It would be an even more important step forward if those talks were held without the US having closed off, in advance, the possibility that the talks would yield an agreement under which Iran could continue indefinitely to enrich uranium.

    By contrast, I think this possibility did not exist several years ago when Iran agreed to suspend enrichment to talk things over. Then, Iran apparently believed the conditions were essentially as I think they may be now: the talks would, or at least could, yield an agreement that would permit Iran to resume enrichment, albeit under closer monitoring than before. Unfortunately, I believe now and believed then, no such possibility was then envisioned by the US and Western European governments. Instead, they intended and expected that negotiations would end up with a deal under which Iran would permanently cease enrichment in exchange for a commitment by other countries to provide Iran with enriched uranium to run its nuclear power plants. I think they “telegraphed” that intention clearly enough by insisting that Iran suspend enrichment, as a demonstration of its “good faith,” while those talks were being held.

    Put more bluntly, I think now and thought then that Iran did not understand the meaning of the word “temporary” when the West spoke of a “temporary suspension of enrichment.” “Temporary” meant “permanent.” Iran’s apparent belief, at the time, that the US and Western European governments were prepared to sit down and talk with Iran, and then announce to their people that they’d struck a deal that permitted Iran to restart its enrichment facilities, struck me as reflecting a degree of naivete that I did not think a modern-day government could possibly possess. Some might reply that what I now claim as foresight is nothing better than 20-20 hindsight, but I’ll insist that I understood this just as well in advance.

    In short, Rule Number One for Iran in negotiating with the US and Western Europe should be this: If Iran wants to end up in Status 1 (enriching uranium), it should not start talks in Status 2 (not enriching uranium) and hope to bargain its way back to Status 1.

    If Iran ignores this Rule, as it did last time, it can bet its bottom dollar (or rial) that the US government, before the talks even begin, once again will have persuaded the American public that Status 2 is a “done deal,” and that the talks thus are being held only to work out the details of the West’s quid pro quo. Since Status 2 will be the bulk of what the West wants out of the deal, it will be predictable (as in 99% likely, one point shy of the percentage last time) that the US and Western Europe will be in no hurry to work out the details of what Iran will receive in return. The “temporary” Status 2 (no enrichment) during the talks will be just fine with them, as it was last time.

    That is why Obama’s language strikes me as promising: He’s not saying that Iran has to stop enriching uranium while talks are held, which means Status 1 (enrichment continues) can remain in place while talks are held. If the US wants Status 1 to change to Status 2, it will need to take significant steps to change the Status, not merely sit back and remain content with the “temporary” Status 2 as it did last time.

    The talks eventually could reach an impasse, of course, if the West insists that Iran switch to Status 2 (no enrichment). But holding talks during Status 1 has another advantage for Iran: the other side gets used to Status 1, and becomes more and more willing to let it continue — to impose limits and conditions, to be sure, but nevertheless to let it continue.

    Many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip, of course, but, for these reasons, I can’t help thinking that Obama’s language is promising.

  41. Karl says:

    Panetta Says U.S. Weighs Military Action on Syria


    What are US afraid of? Im thinking of this constant reason they give…

    “…he cautioned that the opposition and international support aren’t unified enough to intervene now. ”

    What does it matter if the opposition is unified or not? Like this premise even was thought of in the Libya case. Interesting nonetheless that US think its ok to threat whoever with war these days. There is no law left.

  42. BiBiJon says:

    apparently Israel got the message

    “With Israel speaking increasingly loudly of resorting to military action to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, the [(sustained constructive dialogue)] talks could provide some respite in a crisis that has driven up oil prices and threatened to draw the United States into its third major war in a decade.”


  43. Bob Marshall says:

    The non-proliferation Treaty which Iran signed and Israel would not is designed to limit nuclear weapons development. facilitate availability of nuclear energy and lead to global disarmament. The IAEA was created to inspect and verify any country who signed the pact does not refine fissionable material beyond energy grade (3-5%) to weapons grade(over 85%). Why did Iran sign, yet Israel refused to sign?

  44. BiBiJon says:

    On the Ghazvini slang, ‘I have your back’

    The context established by Obama’s interview, Aipac speech, press briefing, etc says to me this:

    Israel has no excuse to lash out pre-emptively based on a feeling of insecurity; While We have your back, nobody is going to dare harm you; Where you had vulnerabilities we have plugged the holes with the Iron Dome, etc.

  45. Rick Taylor says:

    “But Hillary points out that Obama has let Netanyahu push him into a more dangerous position–namely, that unless the Iranians surrender their current nuclear program (which they won’t), Obama may now be on the hook to use American military power against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear infrastructure.”

    I’m not sure you’re right about this. Obama was disappointingly vague about exactly what he wanted Iran to do, but he did say, ““That includes all elements of American power—a political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.” That would seem to imply that Iran would have a nuclear program that is “monitored,” rather than completely abandoned. When he spoke about drawing a line, it was always in terms of Iran not having a nuclear weapon.

  46. fyi says:

    paul says: March 7, 2012 at 7:41 am

    War with Iran does not make strategic sense for US.

    If Mr. Obama takes US to war with Iran, it will be for the purpose of discharging his debt to the “Liberal Zionists” in US who helped him get elected.

    “Liberal Zionists” are secular Jews who support the State of Israel and think that accomodation with the Arabs (but not with Islam) is possible.

    They operate, under the dangerous delusion, that they can fight Islam on behalf of Israel.

  47. Photi says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    March 7, 2012 at 1:14 am

    I agree with your logic that if there is no attack, there will be no weapon, and so therefore it seems to me the problem is solved.

    In your opinion, what will need to occur in order to reverse these ghoulish sanctions currently imposed against the Iranian people? Are the sanctions to be around indefinitely encouraging the slow-drip method of Iranian destruction or is there a quicker way to ax these sanctions for the inhumanity that they are?

  48. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill says: March 7, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Also get a few more billions of dollars in weapons.

  49. fyi says:

    ToivoS says: March 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I agree.

    Also, Mr. Netanyahu and indeed Israel are quite isolated globally on Iran.

    If Mr. Netanyahu is not careful, given the opposition within and without Israel to attacking Iran, he may experience the same fate in the hands of IDF as that of the late Mr. Rabin.

  50. BiBiJon says:

    Strongly recommend (re)reading the following posts:

    ToivoS @ March 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm
    Eric A. Brill @ March 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm
    Arnold Evans @ March 7, 2012 at 1:14 am

    And for my 2 cents:

    Obama and US military/intelligence establishment see clearly that time is not on their side. The ideological grip that Likudniks have over MSM (and thereby public opinion) and over the US legislative branches have put the US options in a tightening vise.

    You cannot say “you’d have to be crazy to commit U.S. troops to wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan” (Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets) and at the same time allow yourself to be inescapably boxed into precisely that eventuality.

    Obama has bought himself time not in order to kick the can further toward the precipice, but to solve the issue “permanently” before it is too late. This is not a matter of choice. The famous ‘expired expiry date’ will unravel the sanction coalition at immense cost to US’ prestige. The “military component” is simply unthinkable, undoable, and frankly, “crazy.”

    Europeans, China, India, Turkey and Russia all agree with US military/intelligence folks that the world does not revolve around Likhud’s recurring nightmares of Holocaust. Indian trade with Iran, Russia’s collaborative relations with Iran, China’s energy security, etc. cannot be trifled with for another 10 years based on some Netanyahu crazy talk. Therefore, the status quo, keep Iran weak through sanctions, and covert war, a) have not succeeded as Hilary points out, and b) involve way too much sacrifice on the part of Russia/China/India/Turkey to be sustainable.

    Baroness Ashton’s reference to “sustained process of constructive dialogue” was on behalf of all the six members of P5+1. A new clock has just started ticking. That clock face says April-de-escalation, August-permenant-solution.

    As for Israel, I alluded to it in a previous thread. Obama is making sure Israel perceives her interests within the context of US’ global interests, i.e. “you are us and we are you.”

  51. fyi says:

    Dan Cooper says: March 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I think the sanctions against Iran has had the utility of forcing Iranians to stand on their two feet and – at the same time – to disabuse very many of their leaders of their delusions about the nature of global power and the role EU states play in it.

    This has been a very painful experience for Iranian people and leaders, no doubt.

    But I trust that the lessons have been learnt and internalized.

  52. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says: March 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I am willing to predict that the P5+1 will do that whatever else it takes to diffiuse the potential for war with Iran.

    If the P5+1 discussions in April ends with no progress, then yes, there will be war.

  53. Karl says:


    I agree on most, one could add that its makes therefore no sense for Iran to engage in talks since US and Israel goal is regime change. Thats why there is no progression in talks to begin with.

  54. Arnold Evans says:


    The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said the advanced air defense weapons Russia has provided to Syria would make it difficult to establish a no-fly zone there as part of an effort to help the rebellion. Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee it would take a significant military commitment even to create safe havens in Syria where aid could be delivered.

    I think this is right about Russian air defense weapons. I remember reading that Tartus itself has among Russia’s most advanced air defenses and that the agreement to maintain Tartus also provides coverage – maybe in the form of anti-aircraft batteries or maybe a large enough umbrella from Tartus – over Damascus.

    If that’s true then either NATO is willing to take air casualties and attack Russian forces directly or Russia has a veto over NATO air operations in Syria. And if that’s true there will not be NATO air operations in Syria.

  55. Z.P. says:

    @ M. Ali “Interestingly, Neo, it seems there are a significient group of people like us who post on the english blogs defending the current situation, who used to be ex-greens & voted for Mousavi. More than Ahmedinijad supporters, which is what we should pay attention to, because it fits exactly in the narrative. Mousavi supporters were louder and internet-savvy (in regards to English blogs) than Ahmedinijad supporters, so it might have seen they were more.
    This is to the Green’s biggest failure.”

    This is the failure from the very beginning of the IRI, not only from the Greens now but from the US in particular. When the Shah was ousted almost nobody in the Carter administration dared to ask themselves who these millions people were who crowded the streets in the whole country. Instead they behaved like wounded cattle and Obamas mentor Brzezinski and Senator Javid emphasised how it must have been devils work that the US backed Pahlavi regime has been toppled and thus the subsequent Javid Resolution. This sentiment prevailed until today, nobody in the White House is seriously interested in dialogue with Iran, instead they focus loudly on every alleged opposition like the Greens, or MEK, or Jundullah etc…

  56. Richard Steven Hack says:

    M. Ali: “The fact seems that the race towards Iran has been slowed down this last 1-2 weeks, based on the huge propaganda we had last month…”

    Really? But this week the only thing IN the papers is Iran because of the AIPAC conference. The only thing in the public’s mind is who will attack Iran FIRST – not whether Iran SHOULD be attacked or even what the justification should be.

    One CANNOT make decisions on these matters based on the level of propaganda from week to week or month to month or even year to year. You have to look at the REASONS the situation exists at all and the facts developing on the GROUND. Propaganda is manipulated in various ways. In the end, it means nothing except the influence on the public. And the public is IRRELEVANT.

    Actions speak louder than words. How many times have I said this here?

    Don’t listen to people’s words. Look at their actions and the reasons for the existence of the overall situation.

  57. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Just got around to actually listening to Hillary’s Antiwar Radio interview.

    Nice to see she mentioned Israel calling for a naval blockade…

    I see where some people think Obama was just being casual when he talked about Iran “changing course”, i.e., that Hillary’s belief that Obama means that Iran must abandon enrichment is not accurate.

    But then these same people make the point that Obama was being PRECISE – and NOT casual – when he specified that the US would not attack Iran unless Iran clearly attempted to acquire a nuclear WEAPON, as opposed to nuclear weapon “capability”.

    I come down with Hillary on this. I think Obama was stating what the US intends to do in his usual vague manner that he can use to justify whatever the US does, and at the same time he was directly LYING about what the US intends to treat as a “red line”.

    There are two separate problems here.

    1) First, we all KNOW that the so-called Iranian nuclear weapons program is nothing but “the excuse”. As Hillary pointed out, the real goal is “permanent” regime change. Therefore WHATEVER Obama says about the nuclear issue is a deliberate LIE because he KNOWS there IS NO Iranian nuclear weapons program.

    2) Second, Obama also KNOWS that ISRAEL KNOWS that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. So whatever Obama does or does not say to Netanyahu on that is irrelevant because Israel knows the entire point of this crisis is regime change.

    Hillary is partially correct when she says that Israel wants Iran attacked NOW rather than when Iran might start to obtain a nuclear weapon.

    The reason she is partially correct is because Israel doesn’t give a fig about Iran’s program, nuclear energy OR nuclear weapon. Israel wants Iran WEAKENED and preferably DESTROYED. (Once again for the developmentally challenged, it DOES NOT MATTER whether that can be achieved IN REALITY…That is STILL Israel’s INTENT.)

    So does the US.

    BUT the main point she either misses or cannot allow herself to repeat in public is the real issue: that the US wants this war not just because the US and Israel will benefit geopolitically if Iran is weakened or destroyed but ALSO and perhaps PRIMARILY because the US RULING ELITES WILL MAKE MONEY FROM IT.

    This is why WHATEVER Obama says about Iran’s program or what the US will do about that program is completely IRRELEVANT.

    The ONLY thing that matters is the confluence of purpose between the US ruling elites and Israel’s ruling elites. This is the same situation that obtained prior to the Iraq war. The US and Israel – and for that matter, the EU, Saudi Arabia and the GCC – ALL want Iran weakened or destroyed for their own particular reasons.

    As I said below about Syria, it does not matter WHAT Obama says – unlike Khomeini and HIS pronouncements about nuclear weapons being un-Islamic, which would be hard for him or his successor to walk back – Obama can ALWAYS walk back from ANY promise NOT to start a war and make any excuse to do a 180-degree course reversal and start the war anyway.

    Why? Because Obama will never suffer a single problem from doing so. And neither will anyone else in the US ruling elites or their toadies in Congress and the White House and elsewhere in the US government.

    Obama is a politician. He made numerous campaign promises in 2008 – and he has reneged on virtually ALL of them, with the sole exception being his promise to continue the war in Afghanistan (accelerate it against Pakistan). And he still stands to be re-elected in November. And even if he isn’t, it hasn’t cost him one thin dime to be a serial liar.

    Hillary even points out that Obama in his interview with Goldberg has explicitly disavowed his own claim that he came in with a policy of engagement.

    She also points out that Obama is pushing the line that the US “has Israel’s back” which in itself gives him an out from not starting the war himself, but using Israel as his justification for reversing his “promise” not to start the war.

    One could even come to the perfectly logical conclusion that Obama and Netanyahu have just AGREED that Israel CAN launch its own attack and that Obama has committed to Netanyahu that the US WILL support Israel if they do so.

    Obama – or more precisely the US ruling elites – may STILL wish Israel to hold off until the sanctions are proven to have failed in order to make the “justification” for the war hold up better. And frankly I think Netanyahu fully intends to do so.

    I believe this entire back and forth between Obama and Netanyahu has either been nothing but a “show” for the public – to excuse both men for whatever happens – or has been nothing but a minor disagreement on the TIMING of the war.

    Anyone who takes Obama at his word on this issue is a fool. And clearly there are MANY fools…

  58. Empty says:

    Just to add (and clarify), you cannot see a light that is always present with the same intensity (or the sound that buzzes with the same intensity and regularity). Highs and lows, if manipulated correctly, could slow the speed of a desensitization.

  59. M. Ali says:


    I respect Ahmadenijad’s group a lot more now. A lot of things he said and did seemed to be that he wanted to change the system within the system, and appeal to a population that is largely conservative.

    When I looked back, I realized that the so-called liberals & reformists were a bunch of dinasour clerics (Khatami, Rafsanjani, Karroubi, etc) with their leader being part of the old gaurd elite, while on the other hand, the so-called conservatives, were a bunch of young people wanting to challenge the status quo.

    Because a manage a compartively big company in Iran, my paths sometimes pass by different governmental departments, and I notice some of the changes Ahmedinijad has done. His sides are young (30-40 year old) managers, willing to actually DO THE WORK.

    I mean, look at the post-election situation. While the Greens and certain groups of the government were clashing against each other, Ahmedinijad and his group has went ahead and did their day to day work. How much time did Ahmedinijad allocate to talking about Mousavi and etc after the election?

  60. Empty says:

    M. Ali,

    RE: The fact seems that the race towards Iran has been slowed down this last 1-2 weeks…

    A word of caution, the preparation for an all-out war has two major facets: One is the public dimension and the other is the secret dimension. The “quiet” periods are exactly when the most dangerous preparations are happening. This is in part to persuade the other side to let its guards down a little so that sudden attack is more effective. From a population psychology angle, it is also to prevent a “desensitization” of the public ear to the drumbeats. The time that you stop hearing a buzzing sound is when it is present all the time (or, you cannot see the light that is always on).

  61. M. Ali says:


    I’m not making my prediction based on believing Obama. I don’t believe any politician, not even the side I support, at face value.

    Situations can change day by day, and does. I say it seems less likely now than it did last month, but all this is guesswork (at least on my side) based on the pieces I see. The fact seems that the race towards Iran has been slowed down this last 1-2 weeks, based on the huge propaganda we had last month, specially with the appearance of suddenly 3 bomb plots by “Iranians”, which concerned me a lot.

  62. Empty says:

    Adapted version, of course, of the 12-step program…(LOL)

    “Hello, my name is ________, and I am a Greenolic.”

    1. We admit we were powerless over the “green” such that our lives had become unmanageable.

    2. We have come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    3. We have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    4. We have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    5. We have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
    of our wrongs.

    6. We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    7. We humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.

    8. We have made a list of all persons (well, 70 million is too long; abridged version will do) we had harmed, and became willing to make
    amends to them all.

    9. We have made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
    so would injure them or others.

    10. We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.

    11. We seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
    God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us
    and the power to carry that out.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we are trying to
    carry this message to “greens”, and to practice these principles in all our

  63. Neo says:

    M Ali,

    I would agree. The Greens were more of a side event than we realised. The more immediate and relevant struggle is between the secular nationalists and the Islamic ones. It goes to the heart of current constitutional debates. In my own case, I mistook Moussavi for a secular force. It turned out Ahmadinejad was the guy, despite the Mahdi rhetoric.

  64. paul says:

    Isn’t it quite obvious that Obama leads the Iran war narrative, than he backs off and pretends to be the peacemaker who is holding the warmongers back, then he leads the narrative, then he pretends to be the peacemaker – one would think that sturdy ‘analysts’ would see through that, would point to that obvious pattern of hypocritical warmongering.

  65. M. Ali says:


    Interestingly, Neo, it seems there are a significient group of people like us who post on the english blogs defending the current situation, who used to be ex-greens & voted for Mousavi. More than Ahmedinijad supporters, which is what we should pay attention to, because it fits exactly in the narrative. Mousavi supporters were louder and internet-savvy (in regards to English blogs) than Ahmedinijad supporters, so it might have seen they were more. And in the post-election world, it is then not surprising that we, the ex-greens, are also louder now.

    This is to the Green’s biggest failure. They lost their PR advantage due to their tactics, because people like myself, yourself, and Mohammad would now have been passionately defending them in such websites to the rest of the world, if the Green leaders did not lie to us. If they had been honest & truthful, we would have worked hard to try to win more support come next election, but instead, a big number of us have left their side altogether.

  66. Neo says:

    M. Ali,

    I really identify with your comments on the Greens in the last thread. I too voted for Moussavi and got caught in the ‘where’s my vote’ nonsense for a while.

  67. Neo says:


    “But I submit to you that the illogic of wasted lives, frustrated hopes, and damaged psyches cannot be compensated.”

    I hear you…

    Somehow, Milan Kundera’s ‘unbearable lightness of being’ comes to mind.

  68. Richard Steven Hack says:

    M. Ali: “Richard, I think your predictions on an Iran war seems less likely now.”

    I repeat – absolutely nothing whatsoever has changed – other than Obama has lied again and everyone has bought it – which in itself is no change.

    “The likehood of Syrian falling is less likely now than a few months back, the opposition seems to fizzling out.”

    The opposition can not fizzle out as long as it has a safe haven in Turkey, arms smuggling routes via Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, and the support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar – neither of whom, you will note, has said ANYTHING about backing down.

    And of course, we have US politicians like McCain calling for air strikes. While Obama has lied once again yesterday saying that a US intervention is not going to happen, all this can change in a blink of an eye, just like it did with Libya.

    “Some analysists were making a big deal about Hamas not supporting Syria anymore, but neither Syria nor Iran were really depending on them.”

    Of course not, the situation is the other way around – Hamas depends on Syria and Iran. Hamas frankly is not a significant factor geopolitically, other than the influence it has among the Palestinians. They don’t have squat for weapons and the IDF can kick their butts on any given day. They’re irrelevant strategically.

    “its unlikely they would ever be much of a help as an offensive proxy.”

    I don’t think anyone has ever suggested they would be.

    The issue is that Syria has been a supporter of Hamas. If Hamas turns against Syria, it’s Hamas’ loss, not Syria’s. This is the whole point. Hamas is being STUPID for turning against Syria.

    “Hamas needs them more than they need Hamas.”

    As I said above. Which is why the issue is not whether they’re some “proxy” for Iran, but rather the stupidity of burning their Syria bridges before they have some else to support them.

    Saudi Arabia and Qatar couldn’t care less about the Palestinians and never did. If they had cared, Hamas would be flush with Saudi money and loaded with Milan antitank missiles from Qatar…

  69. Richard Steven Hack says:

    ToivoS: “Why is steven richard hack allowed to continually spam this site with his irrelevancies.”

    As long as it has to do with Iran, it’s not irrelevant. Which would be obvious to you if you weren’t a cretin…

    “I do not think that Obama has committed the US to go to war with Iran. Obama was quite clear…”

    So you’re believing Obama now? That makes you doubly a cretin.

    “It should be clear that the US is now willing to accept continued U235 enrichment by Iran as long as it is monitored by the IAEA.”

    There is NOTHING in Obama’s statement or any other statement which indicates that to be the case.

  70. Z.P. says:

    Eric A. Brill: “One particularly cynical (and, therefore, quite possibly correct) view of Netanyahu’s objective on this visit was mentioned today in one or two articles I read. The writers pointed out that there was very little, if any, attention paid to the “peace process” (remember that term?). Iran was the sole focus; the Palestinian issue was ignored almost entirely.

    If that indeed was Netanyahu’s purpose, he succeeded”

    This is exactly what Haaretz has already observed:

  71. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Jay: “Mr. Fitzpatrick has said a lot of nonsense over the years.”

    But not in this interview…

  72. Neo says:


    I agree with the gist of fyi’s comment on the question you had put to me in the previous thread. Iran is ‘winning’ against the West in how its geopolitical sphere of influence, economic power and scientific advancement are expanding. The ‘real’ conflict is not about the nuclear issue or any such matter. It’s about the rise of a power of a kind that brings an imbalance to the neocolonial order. Iran’s power is steadily growing while the West is steadily sinking along with Israel. On top of the West’s economic and energy vulnerabilities (caused in the main by what I would call ‘energy incompetence’ of a technological kind – similar to what many refer to as the West’s ‘oil addiction’**), the Middle East is morphing into something quite different. On top of this – or as an inherent manifestation of the same – the West is still trying to learn how to extricate itself from a war quagmire. So now is not the time for USA to take huge risks with its own future, or that of its allies. Sit and wait is their best strategy. And this gives Iran the upper hand.

    The uranium enrichment debate is an irrelevant and ineffective smokescreen designed to hold Iran back through sanctions. The sanctions themselves have enormously positive longer-term impact, strengthening Iran’s increasingly self-reliant economy.

    ** This would be an interesting case study of how the ‘free market’ has totally failed to respond to what one would expect to be a very profitable field – i.e. renewable energy. Instead, the ‘market’ has done the exact opposite, ensuring a near-monopoly for the strongest (rather than the most innovative) private sector actors in energy at the expense of competition and the planet’s health. Socialism’s superiority could be postulated in this instance.

  73. Empty says:

    Cognitive illusions.

  74. James,

    “Obama in his speech Sunday said “There is still a window that allows for a dip;omatic resolution to this issue.” But what is “this issue”?”

    That’s been my question for a while now. Iran’s nuclear program is always presented as a confrontation, a crisis, that, for some compelling reason I never quite comprehend, needs to be resolved very soon, one way or another. Why?

  75. M. Ali,

    “Richard, I think your predictions on an Iran war seems less likely now. The likehood of Syrian falling is less likely now than a few months back, the opposition seems to fizzling out. Assad will come out stronger and more confident after this…”

    I agree with all of that, but I do hope Assad doesn’t backpedal on his promise to implement fully the new constitution that Syrians approved a couple of weeks back. If that turns out to have been just “for show,” I’ll be quite disappointed.

  76. M. Ali says:

    Yes, initially when you come across the reports of the video, you assume that the media has obtained actual torture scenes. At first, my first thought was, “How sure can I be that the people doing the torturing during the film were actually members of the Syrian army?”. But even that doubt needed have existed, because apparently, there is no film of any actual torture, but people in the hospital. That would like me filming a boy, and then saying that he was sexually molested, but providing no proof of that.

    But like you said, even that’s too much, because I also havent seen the video yet.

  77. Arnold,

    “Israel would rather see the US attack Iran and then Iran build a weapon than the US not attack and Iran continue to build its capability in theory as Japan has. The US does not share that preference.”

    That’s a cynical view, with which I agree entirely.

  78. M. Ali says:
    March 7, 2012 at 2:13 am

    “There is no accountability in the media [concerning Syria]. …’Channel 4 said the footage was filmed covertly by an employee at the Homs military hospital and smuggled out by a French photo-journalist identified only as ‘Mani.'”

    I tried without luck to find this Channel 4 video. In the several reports of this broadcast I’ve read, none includes either the actual video (or even part of it) or any claim by a journalist or independent person to have actually seen the video. Instead, each report merely states that Channel 4 broadcast a “grainy” video whose images were unclear and could not be verified, and then quotes at great length a Syrian opposition member who claims to have seen all sorts of torture and killings committed by Syrian doctors, nurses and other hospital staff on dozens or hundreds of helpless wounded victims. Oddly, neither the journalist reporting the story, nor even this opposition figure, claims that the horrible events being described actually appear in this “grainy” unshown video, but the reader apparently is expected to understand that this is the case.

    Frankly, I’d like to see the video. I’m more than a little skeptical.

  79. M. Ali says:

    Good article.

    Quote from the article,
    “Our part of the bargain is not to tell their story, but the story. We are not, and cannot be, the propaganda wing of any movement – whether Syrian dissidents or US Marines. They have no duty to die for us, any more than we have for them. ”


  80. M. Ali says:

    Its ridicolous how one-sided every story on Syria is.


    There is no accountability in the media. They rely on sources which are,
    “Channel 4 said the footage was filmed covertly by an employee at the Homs military hospital and smuggled out by a French photo-journalist identified only as “Mani.””

    Some of the quotations from residents make no sense,
    “They are shooting everything that is moving, even animals.”

    Homs should have a population close to a million, if they are shooting everything is moving (even animals! what barbarians!), then shouldn’t there be close to a million people dead?

    We have many different records of how many there were killed, but FSA says 700 civilians killed (if FSA says it, then it is a exagerrated lie, but lets take their word for it…). Thats 0.07% of the population, hardly “they are shooting everything that is moving”, unless the Homs people all stopped moving to fool the Syrias soldiers.

    They also do the usual media trick, by putting everything the government says in quotation. So,
    “weapons the presenter said belonged to “armed terrorists.” ”

    Armed terrorists goes in quotations, so the article can tell its reader, the evil tortorous government CALLS the armed terrorists, but since we put that phrase in quotes, pfft, we don’t believe it, they’re peace loving harmless hippy protestors who happen to use guns as decorative props.

  81. M. Ali says:

    This is ammusing. So I have a cooking blog in process and, it gets lots of spam comments, full of junk with links to their site.

    Anyway, the recent spam was this,
    “I personally consider its crazy that we would even contemplate heading to war with Iran. We have significantly also numerous problems of our individual to cope with. ”

    Even spambots support Iran now!

  82. M. Ali says:

    Richard, I think your predictions on an Iran war seems less likely now. The likehood of Syrian falling is less likely now than a few months back, the opposition seems to fizzling out. Assad will come out stronger and more confident after this, and probably strengthen its alliance even more with Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, and trust the others even less. It could also make a renewed push towards Lebanon (indirectly via Hezbollah) since he probably realizes its geostragetic importance for his country’s security. At the same time, he might even support Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, to strike back against Turkey, which would weaken Turkey. Unfortunately, Turkey showed its true colors in this conflict, towing the western party lines, and it seems its previous rifts with Israel was just for public consumption.

    Some analysists were making a big deal about Hamas not supporting Syria anymore, but neither Syria nor Iran were really depending on them. They have never really been a significient player in defending against Israel in their own land, as a defensive measure, so its unlikely they would ever be much of a help as an offensive proxy. I think Syria & Iran’s assistance to them was really a genuine desire to help the Palestanians, Hamas needs them more than they need Hamas. Lets see how much help Hamas gets from their new friends, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which always had Fatah in their pockets. But I imagine, that behind the scenes, they have not really cut their ties with Syria, and once this conflict is over, they will slowly and smoothly get back in bed with them.

  83. Arnold Evans says:

    I also don’t think Obama is boxed in or has made it impossible not to attack Iran if Iran does not stop enrichment during the next US presidential term.

    The status quo is not optimal, but is preferable to active warfare for the US and active warfare is not expected by the US military to be an effective way to prevent Iran from gaining the capability to build a weapon.

    With no attack, Iran will not cross the red line Obama actually describes, deploying an actual weapon, unless attacked or provoked by something like forces staging at the border. In other words, it is by far most likely that Iran will not build a weapon at all for the next decade if the US does not attack.

    If the US does attack, Iran will have a strong reason to make a weapon a fait accompli. It is by far more likely that Iran will have an actual weapon ten years from now if the US does attack than if it does not.

    Israel-firsters like this lie that there is no difference between the capability to make a weapon and an actual weapon. There is a big difference in real life.

    Israel would rather see the US attack Iran and then Iran build a weapon than the US not attack and Iran continue to build its capability in theory as Japan has. The US does not share that preference.

  84. One particularly cynical (and, therefore, quite possibly correct) view of Netanyahu’s objective on this visit was mentioned today in one or two articles I read. The writers pointed out that there was very little, if any, attention paid to the “peace process” (remember that term?). Iran was the sole focus; the Palestinian issue was ignored almost entirely.

    If that indeed was Netanyahu’s purpose, he succeeded.

  85. delia ruhe says:
    March 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    If you want to see an extremely different “take” on what Obama told Netanyahu, read Jay Solomon’s article in today’s Wall Street Journal. Based on that account, one can easily imagine Obama riding in the cockpit (with Netanyahu) of the first Israeli warplane dive-bombing Tehran.

  86. ToivoS,

    “First, I must admit that she has a better sense of Iran than I do and I think the interview with Scot Horton was very good. However, I disagree with her major point. I do not think that Obama has committed the US to go to war with Iran.”

    I agree with you. I thought Obama held the line well. Hillary seemed to base her conclusion a great deal on a statement by Obama that “Iran must change its course.” She argued that, since Iran’s “course” is enriching uranium, changing course means no enrichment — or else.

    I took Obama’s “Iran must change its course” statement as not part of his “official” statement of his position. It seemed to me that, solely as context for that statement, he was tacitly accepting the assumption that Iran indeed is developing nuclear weapons, and that that is the “course” that Iran must change. I do not think that he intended to accept that assumption generally, though. In other words, what he really meant was: “If Iran is developing nuclear weapons — and it’s so secretive that we have to assume that it might be doing just that — then Iran must change its course.”

    Obama generally is a careful speaker, especially when he’s stating the US’ formal position on such a key issue, and I thought he was quite clear in sticking with the “nuclear weapons” red line, not taking the bait to move it into vague “nuclear capability” territory. But anyone, including Obama, is likely to let slip an occasional remark that may be taken by listeners for more than he meant by it. That’s what I think happened here.

  87. Jay says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    By relying on Mr. Fitzpatrick’s pronouncements and validating your comments by comparing it to his you demolish your credibility!

    Mr. Fitzpatrick has said a lot of nonsense over the years.

  88. ToivoS says:

    Why is steven richard hack allowed to continually spam this site with his irrelevancies.

    Getting back to the topic of this thread — Hillary’s interview — I have a few comments.

    First, I must admit that she has a better sense of Iran than I do and I think the interview with Scot Horton was very good. However, I disagree with her major point. I do not think that Obama has committed the US to go to war with Iran. Obama was quite clear when he said that the red line was nuclear “weapons”, and not nuclear “capability”. His words to the affect that the US insists on Iran “changing courses” is no a commitment to future war. That statement is so vague that any concession Iran might make during negotiations could be interpreted as “changing course”.

    It should be clear that the US is now willing to accept continued U235 enrichment by Iran as long as it is monitored by the IAEA. Enrichment for nuclear power plant fuel — OK, enrichment to 20% for isotope production, OK. Enrichment to 90%, not OK. Iran can, and has, accepted that.

    Obama conceded nothing to Netanyahu, but he did succeed in isolating Israel politically if it goes to war against Iran over its current nuclear program.

  89. delia ruhe says:

    Like all of the doubletalkers around this issue, Obama wants to have it both ways. He wants people like M.J. Rosenberg to announce happily that the prez has stood up to Bibi (which M.J. has done), and he wants Bibi and the AIPAC crowd to understand the prez as having given Israel his unconditional support (as Hillary has read it).

    The only thing that remains to be seen is whether Bibi will force Obama’s hand before or after the election. The other purpose of this doubletalk, including Obama’s criticisms of the GOP’s warmongering is to make this lead up to war appear as unlike as possible the lead up to the Iraq fiasco.

    Or one might look at it another way — one of several suggested by Richard Silverstein — “Alternately, if Obama has told him he can attack Iran but won’t get any help from the U.S., Obama’s goal may be to give Bibi enough rope to hang himself.” In my view, that is the most positive spin one could put on it — but it is a highly unlikely interpretation.

    So, in other words, brace for impact.

  90. Richard Steven Hack says:

    The article referenced by Glaser below.

    Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Lessons for Iran

  91. Richard Steven Hack says:

    The Nuclear Double Standard on Israel is the Main Obstacle to Peace


    But, as Micah Zenko pointed out yesterday, the double standard is even more glaring than this popular narrative suggests. The history of Israel’s development of nuclear weapons is strikingly parallel to Iran in 2012.

    End Quote

  92. Richard Steven Hack says:

    The Syrian Mirage

    More members of Assad’s government are Sunnis than you might think…

  93. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Debunking yet another stupid rumor…

    Information Fallout: Tracing Implications that North Korea Tested Nuclear Weapons For Iran

  94. Dan Cooper says:

    No matter how many nuclear bombs Israel possesses,

    No matter how many war crimes Israel commits,

    No matter how many women and children Israel murders,

    No matter how many Palestinians, Israel makes homeless,

    No matter how many UN resolutions, Israel violates,

    The USA and the European countries will not impose any sanctions against Israel but they are so eager to impose sanctions against Iran.

    The sanctions against Iran are illegal, unjust and immoral.

    We, the international community who were educated on the values of liberty, justice, honesty and peace, cannot accept it.

    The Zionist government of Israel is not only the obstacle to peace but also a monster apparently beyond control.

    This rouge, racist and apartheid regime also possesses well over 200 illegal nuclear bombs.

    As Israel is already an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm and not to Iran.

    The West preaches democracy yet violates its fundamental principles.

    The hypocrisy is almost impossible to stomach.

    Much of the uproar, Lies and propaganda over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons is done by the Israeli lobby.

    It is merely a way to paint Iran as a threat in order to brainwash the international public opinion and justify an attack.

    Under pressure from Israel lobby, Obama is now employing the same tactic, creating fear over nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons.

    If we don’t heed the lessons of history about the evil propaganda that USA and Israel used against Sadaam’s WMD, and if we ignore how sophisticated and evil the present PR campaigns are against IRI and Iran’s none existent nu-clear weapons, then we will have another tragedy in Iran far greater than Iraq.

    This will be the catalyst for a million more tragedies in the years to come – the only difference being that you will not see the deaths of those Iranian victims being broadcast on the BBC, Fox News or CNN, as the tragic death of Neda was for propaganda purpose.

  95. Richard Steven Hack says:

    How Iran might respond to Israeli attack


    “Iran’s ability to strike back directly against Israel is limited,” says Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

    “Its antiquated air force is totally outclassed by the Israelis and it has only a limited number of ballistic missiles that could reach Israel.”

    Mr Fitzpatrick says Iran’s missile arsenal includes “a modified version of the Shahab-3, the Ghadr-1, which has a range of 1,600km (995 miles), but Iran only has about six transporter-erector launchers for the missile”.

    “Iran’s new solid-fuelled missile, the Sajjil-2, can also reach Israel, but it is not yet fully operational,” he adds.

    But, Mr Fitzpatrick argues that “both of these missiles are too inaccurate to have any effect against military targets when armed with conventional weapons”.

    “Nor are they a very effective way to deliver chemical or biological weapons, and Iran does not have nuclear weapons.”

    In summary, he believes that “an Iranian missile strike would be only a symbolic gesture”.

    [MY COMMENT: Exactly as I’ve said here before. – RSH]

    Mr Fitzpatrick believes Iran is more likely to respond against Israel “asymmetrically, and through proxies”. Its ally, the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, has more than 10,000 rocket launchers in southern Lebanon, many of them supplied by Iran.

    “These are mostly 25km-range (16-mile) Katyushas, but also Fahr-3 (45km; 28 miles), Fajr-5 (75km; 47 miles), Zelzal-2 (200km; 124 miles) and potentially Fateh-110 (200km) plus about 10 Scud-D missiles that can pack a 750kg (1,653lb) payload and hit all of Israel.”

    [MY COMMENT: Which is why Israel would like Hizballah taken out first. – RSH]

    Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told me: “If they respond too little, they could lose face, and if they respond too much, they could lose their heads.”

    “Iran will want to respond enough to inflame the regional security environment and negatively impact the global economy – in order to bring down international condemnation of the US or Israel – but stop short of doing anything that could invite massive reprisals from the United States.”

    “Frankly,” Mr Sadjadpour says, “I’m not sure how they do that. If Iran tries to destabilise world energy supplies – whether launching missiles into Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern province or attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz – the US isn’t going to stand aside idly.”

    [MY COMMENT: Exactly. There is almost NOTHING Iran can do to prevent the US from getting involved – which, of course, Israel knows and is WHY Israel wants to attack Iran itself IF it cannot provoke the US into doing it first. – RSH]

    But Trita Parsi, author of the recently published, A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran, says that if Israel attacks, Iran’s position will change considerably.

    “I have not come across any observer who does not believe that the Iranian government’s determination and desire for a nuclear deterrent would increase several-fold if Iran is attacked.”

    [MY COMMENT: He hasn’t read anything I’ve said here… :-) – RSH]

    The US assessment, he says, is that in the wake of an Israeli attack “the Iranians will push their program further underground, exit (or threaten to exit) the Non-Proliferation Treaty, kick out the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and dash for a bomb”.

    [MY COMMENT: Parsi is an idiot. Iran could not develop nuclear weapons and especially not delivery systems under constant air attack conditions or a ground war and could not use them effectively even if they did. Therefore Iran will not bother to try to develop nukes at least until AFTER the war is over – and at that point they don’t need them either. – RSH]

    End Quotes

  96. Richard Steven Hack says:

    And the suckers gets lured in again…

    Obama says new Iran talks should calm “drums of war”

    Putin apparently gets it…


    On Tuesday, Ryabkov said he hoped fresh talks with Iran would address a proposal by president-elect Vladimir Putin for global powers to formally recognise Iran’s right to enrich uranium, Tehran to submit its programme to full IAEA supervision, and international sanctions to be lifted.

    End Quote

    Note that Putin wants EXPLICIT RECOGNITION of Iran’s right to domestic enrichment, exactly as I’ve said Iran should make a formal demand for that as a condition of any other concessions.

    But there’s NO WAY the P5 + 1 will agree to that because it undercuts their entire propaganda.

    So these new talks will go no where, as expected by the West and will thus be used as justification for more sanctions (assuming any more can be found), and even more strident calls for war from Israel. And next year, whoever is President will call for a naval blockade as that is the only option left other than a direct surprise attack on Iran.

  97. James Canning says:

    At alternet.org today, Ed Kilgore has excellent piece: “Mitt on Iran: Foreign Policy As Conducted By a Teenage Boy With An Energy Drink Addiction”.

  98. James Canning says:

    And what purpose is served, may one ask, by Israel’s demand that Iran stop all enrichment of uranium? For Israel, the idea is to prevent any negotiations. How can this be the US position too?

    Obama in his speech Sunday said “There is still a window that allows for a dip;omatic resolution to this issue.” But what is “this issue”?