AntiWar.com: “Obama Sends Mixed Signals on Iran“:
Appearing on this morning’s Meet the Press, President-elect Barack Obama attempting to clarify his position on Iran, but in many ways sparked more questions than he settled. Typifying his largely vacuous comments was the declaration that he was going to let Iran decide if “they want to do this the hard way or the easy way.”
To that end, Obama proposed “tough but direct diplomacy,” hitting out at what he termed “their development of nuclear weapons” and declaring “their threats against Israel are contrary to everything we believe in.” Obama left open the possibility of direct talks while adding “we may have to tighten up those sanctions.”
The United States has repeatedly hit out at Iran’s civilian uranium enrichment program, but while officials continue to accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, America’s National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran halted any efforts to that end.
In an attempt to convince the Iranian government to abandon the enrichment program, the US has pressed through an ever-increasing number of international sanctions on Iran. Iran has threatened retaliatory strikes if Israel follows through on its repeated threats to attack.
During the campaign, Obama hit out at President Bush for his unwillingness to hold direct talks with Iran. Today’s comments suggest Obama continues to be open to the direct talks, but seems determined to continue the Bush Administration’s policy of threats and sanctions.
In terms of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, on top of the NIE’s conclusion that Iran has halted any efforts toward developing a nuclear weapon, there are the reports of Russia, China, and the IAEA that I posted a couple of weeks ago:
Russia and China, Iran’s largest suppliers of nuclear materials, have been closely monitoring Iran every step of the way (which has included a demands to freeze their programs [in 2006]) [and] have rejected more expansive multilateral efforts (including U.N. intervention) . Russia and China have blocked sanctions as recently as [November 2008]. Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, cites Farideh Farhi as reporting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is saying that “Iran has satisfactorily answered questions about its past nuclear energy research, and that the international body can verify that Iran has not diverted nuclear material to weapons purposes.“
The other two concerns of Mr. Obama are “[Iran’s] funding of terrorist organizations [and] their threats against Israel are contrary to everything we believe in.“
What Mr. Obama fails to mention is that:
- By the literal definition of terrorism, Israel is a US funded State that finances and participates in terrorism when Israel uses “violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.”
- By the doctrinal definition of terrorism where an act is one of terror only when “they” do it to “us,” the US cannot make the case for Iran to halt funding of terrorist organizations if the US is funding Iran’s “them.”
- If Iran’s threats against Israel are against “everything we believe in,” so are Israel’s repeated threats against Iran, as well as Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people in Gaza, their blockade of the press to cover the region, and delaying the release of 230 Palestinian prisoners (in accordance with the agreement between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas).
From this angle, Iran’s nuclear compliance displays extraordinary restraint in a nuclear world. (Dare I say it!)
And Mr. Obama can get what he wants — a nuclear weapon-free Iran that doesn’t fund terrorist organizations or threaten Israel — the hard way or the easy way; the easy way being to hold the US and its allies to the same standards by which the US holds Iran.
This is an extremely conservative proposal that I’m making — of which I assume to be consistent with US public opinion:
- Strictly promote actions in accordance with the National Intelligence Estimate and the reports by the IAEA.
- Analyze the supervision and regulation by Russia and China.
- Do not deviate from the authority of the UN Security Council in which the US actively participates and agrees to abide by its Charter.
- Be morally consistent over giving in to allied preferential treatment.
If the rumor that Mr. Obama will end “blank cheques” to Israel from the US is true, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Prof. Chomsky says it best: “The only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it.“