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Posts Tagged ‘Iran

Clinton and Obama on Iran – Diplomacy 101

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subtlety? that's the other guy's problem

subtlety? that's the other guy's problem

To say that the Obama administration is all over the place on Iran is an understatement.

During the campaign, President Obama assured us that he would work hard to start a dialogue with Iran. His view remains, apparently at least, that engagement is the best way to deal with Tehran, their sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas, and most importantly the thorny issue of their nuclear ambitions.

Take today’s diplomatic shuffle on Iran. During her flight from Ramallah to Brussels after meeting Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made the mistake of holding court with the press during which she gave Tehran a piece of her mind with rhetoric that was straight from W’s dusty old “axis of evil” playbook. HRC suggested that Iran seeks to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.” She went on to say “It is clear that Iran intends to interfere with the internal affairs of all of these people and try to continue their efforts to fund terrorism, whether it’s Hezbollah or Hamas or other proxies.”  Yeah, Hil, we’ve heard this about fifty thousand times before.

During the same in-flight interview, probably after a whisper from an advisor, she remembered that she was working for Obama, not still campaigning against him, and went on to reassure the press corps that the President was in fact still seeking to engage Iran in a dialogue, “but wanted to make sure it’s constructive”.

First Hilary lambasts the Iranians then she wants our negotiations with them to be constructive.  Uhh.  Okay, what’s the best way to put this? 

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of the word “diplomacy”.

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Leaving Iraq. More Powerful Arguments Against.

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there are some gambles that you just don't take. nation-building in iraq is definitely one of them

there are some gambles that you just don't take. nation-building in iraq is definitely one of them

Tom Ricks’ new book “The Gamble” is going to make some waves, and the author’s interview on NPR this morning is just the latest. This blog is an advocate of Obama leaving US troops in Iraq for the long term. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place in his Iraq policy. If he leaves he runs the risk of renewed violence after we’re gone. If he stays, he’ll be charged with breaking his promise to withdraw.

But facing the political heat at home in the short term would be far wiser than risking a bloodbath in Iraq after we close the door behind our last guys out, which will be bad news for US foreign policy and would cause an about turn from a fickle US public who’d suddenly tell him he should have stuck it out. Ricks makes the point in his NPR interview that he has ‘sympathy’ for Obama. Clearly, Bush left him with an intolerable mess and it will take superior leadership from our new Commander-in-chief to escape the jam with minimum damage. But in order to do so, hard choices have to be made. Obama has yet to prove he’s a tough choice kind of guy, despite his rhetoric to the contrary. Iraq is an arena that he has to get right.

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Written by coolrebel

March 4, 2009 at 10:49 am

Obama’s Letter to Medvedev – A New Diplomacy in Action

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the russian bear likes a good bargain.

the russian bear likes a good bargain.

President Obama’s not so secret letter to his counterpart in Russia, President Medvedev, seems like a strong beginning to a new, more robust and directed diplomacy. Applying an unspoken quid pro quo that the serious application of pressure by Russia on Iran to stem Tehran’s nuclear ambitions could mean the removal of the US nuclear shield in Eastern Europe draws a big lesson from history. During the missile crisis, Khruschev seriously overreached when he planted missiles in Cuba. Kennedy didn’t back down, but instead offered to give up some obsolete missiles in Turkey in order to save the world from Armageddon.

Okay, we’re not quite on the edge of the nuclear abyss just yet, but Obama’s clearly done his homework on dealing with the Russians. He shrewdly realizes how important ‘saving face’ is to in the machismo world of Moscow foreign policy, rightly regards the missile shield as an expensive boondoggle, and understands why Moscow is less than enamoured of Bush’s feeble remonstrations that the shield was primarily in place to protect against Iranian missiles headed for the US or Europe (about a thousand times less likely than a briefcase bomb which would bypass the shield altogether). Add to that the very strong likelihood that the shield won’t work even if challenged and the prospect of canning it isn’t exactly a stretch. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

March 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Potus Heralds a New Era on US-Iranian Relations? Bad Start

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Mullen says Iran has enough fissile material for a bomb on the same day that Gates says they’re not close to getting a bomb. Now it’s true that these two statements are not mutually exclusive on a factual basis, but they are contradictory in terms of their diplomatic intent. Potus, Pentagon and State need to control communications channels a little better. It doesn’t look good.

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Written by coolrebel

March 1, 2009 at 8:25 pm

The Rise of Neo-Liberalism

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it all starts right here

it all starts right here

The Neo-Cons are dead. Long live the Neo-Libs.

It’s not just conservatives who believe that the continued hegemony of the United States is critical to the wellbeing of human-kind.  But the Neo-Lib prescription veers from the Neo-Cons very substantially after that. We neo-libs do not feel that military power is the key to our continued dominance. Instead Neo-Liberalism calls for a Wilsonesque revival of America’s power through goodwill and largesse, backed by  a Rooseveltian (and I mean Teddy) “big stick”. For too long, under the Neo-Cons, we talked loudly and carried a stick that frankly got smaller and smaller the deeper we fell into the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It may seem like an odd time to be talking about American hegemony.  Our nation is in an economic crisis unlike any it has experienced in decades. The threat to our continued power is probably at its highest point since the Second World War, which would seem a perfect time to reassert it. Fortunately, our adversaries around the globe aren’t in any better shape than we are, and in many respects have further to fall. Even more fortuitous is the presence of a new President who could be the beacon for Neo-Liberalism. While Obama may have shown some early weakness on the domestic policy front, particularly with his reluctance to detach himself from tried-and-failed centrism, but on the foreign stage, he has an opportunity to rebuild and reinvigorate US power.

So let us begin to forge a plan for the rebuilding of American power. Here’s how. Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody Fights in Afghanistan and Wins.

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do we look like we're joking?

do we look like we're joking?

From a superficial perspective, the idea of diverting US forces to Afghanistan as we draw down troops in Iraq seems like a good idea. But Afghanistan is a deeply inhospitable, corrupt, backward, and highly unstable failed state with an almost feudal social structure. It’s been resisting modernity and foreign control for millenia.

Before we do anything we need to make a strategic decision about our goals. It’s clear that the Taliban must go, but forget democracy, stability is just fine. It’s equally clear that increasing US ground forces by a few combat brigades will not do the job. The war would slog on for many years at great cost in lives and treasure. The Kush would be a graveyard for our grunts. There has to be another way. And there is.

There are two connected ways to beat the Taliban. We need both to win. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

January 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Bush Laterals to Obama. Mid-East Peace

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don't fumble my legacy, dude

don't fumble my legacy, dude

Among all the other total disasters Bush is handing over to Obama is the small matter of finding peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the current attacks on Gaza are part of an old school of thought. The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a completely new landscape.

Benny Morris, a prominent historian of Israeli History wrote a superb primer on Israel’s current predicament in the New York Times. To sum it up, Israel faces unconventional enemies in both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, as well as the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the demographic ticking time bomb of the increasingly radicalized and fast growing Arab-Israeli population that is likely to outnumber the Israeli Jews by 2040 or 2050. Read the rest of this entry »