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Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TALKS WITH IRAN?....From Juan Cole:

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani revealed that during his visit to Tehran last month, Iranian authorities evinced their willingness to engage in talks with the Americans in order arrive at a mutual understanding that both sides would be pleased with -- and which would stretch from Afghanistan to Lebanon. Talabani explained the circumstances that caused both meetings that he attempted to arrange between the two to collapse.

That's quite a tease. I wonder if Prof. Cole or some other Arabic reader could let us know what Talabani said? I assume it's nothing very cataclysmic, but I'd still be interested in adding to my seemingly endless collection of reasons why talks between the United States and Iran are never advisable "at this time."

Kevin Drum 3:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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If a sane administration were in power, I would advise them to bypass the blowhard Iranian president, who, by the Iranian constitution, has no power at all over foreign policy, and deal directly with the clerics that really run the place. There have already been signs that they want to rein in Ahamdinejad.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 19, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmidinejad took his own thumpin' in an election recently. And when he appeared at his alma mater, the students protested and set alight pictures of him.

Cooler heads please. Preferably someone who gets subtlety and context.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

But didn't Condi Rice just say that it was the Iranians that refuse to talk to us?

Well, okay, I think her quote was something like (when asked if/when we'll talk to Iran) "A better question is why won't Iran talk to us." She then said something about all they would have to do would be to unconditionally give up their Nuke program, which I suppose answers her 'better question.'

Posted by: Tripp on January 19, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

You mean the Professor Cole who Rush Limbaugh has PROVED eats babies and is bin Laden's love child?

Kevin, this is low even for you.

Posted by: Al's Mommy on January 19, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

i want my dubya dubya three!

Posted by: al on January 19, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but O'Arrogantone said that such talk of dialogue with Iran and Syria as suggested by Hillary was "Kerry" talk and thus, not accepted by the voters. Of course, as Cheney has said, voting is simply a single day of polling and polling changes daily. That is why true despots never rely on the polls.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 19, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see our country

seek out the negotiators who display uncanny

people skills and patience.

These are the type of folks who can be trusted to

act in the best interests of us all.

Iran hasn't been in the Western camp since 1979.

That's a long, long time by today's standards, when stuff happens at the speed of light via the Internet.

What we are lacking is vision. Vision beyond our own myopic view of the world.

The planet has seemingly been thrust backwards, into a sort of middle-ages mentality.

Time for Iran and the US to move forward as constructively as possible for both countries.

If we are really so apalled by Iran's nuclear program, why can't others look at ours?

We have no right being the nuclear watchdog.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 19, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

We have no right? You wanna fairness us down the sewer of history?

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on January 19, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Do Cheney and Bush need a reason not to talk?..On the same thread, a little earlier Cole is not so coy.. Cheney shot down any notion of "talking to evil when Iran in 2003, offered to help stabilize Iraq and to cut off aid to Hizbullah in Lebanon and to Hamas." Talks might interfere with the Bush legacy of being the defiant war president 'in the ideological strugggle of the 21st century'. "What kind of Armagadden struggle would there be if there was a peaceful negotiation so early, to its end?

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 19, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: ..why talks between the United States and Iran are never advisable "at this time."

Or at other times, apparently:

An Iranian offer to help the United States stabilize Iraq and end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas was turned down by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003, a former top State Department official told the British Broadcasting Corp.
The U.S. State Department was open to the offer, which came in an unsigned letter sent shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, but Cheney nipped the deal in the bud, Lawrence Wilkerson, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told BBC's Newsnight in a program broadcast Wednesday night.
"We thought it was a very propitious moment to (strike the deal)," Wilkerson said, "But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the vice president's office, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil'...reasserted itself."
In return for its cooperation, Tehran asked Washington to lift its sanctions on the country and to dismantle the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian opposition group which has bases in Iraq. Iran also offered to increase the transparency of its nuclear program..

Talks are not advisible because Cheney says they aren't. Apparently that's reason enough.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 19, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. If they gained them, they would be able to sanction terrorist organizations without having to worry about being overthrown by the U.S. the same way the Taliban was. Iran already gives support to Hezbollah, who have attacked Americans before.

At the same time, Iran's leaders insist that they only want nuclear power for peaceful purposes. If this is true, then the U.S. and Iran can come to a peaceful agreement: Iran will operate nuclear facilities under the supervision of U.N. weapons inspectors.

It is time to talk to Iran. If this agreement can be reached, and if Iran is willing to hold up their end of the bargain, then war will be prevented and many lives will be saved.

If no deal is reached, and Iran pursues nuclear weapons or refuses to let weapons inspectors in, we must attack Iran. But at least we would be able to tell the American people we tried our hardest to prevent war. This will necessarily strengthen American morale, the American will to fight.

President Bush, however, is an ideologue who does not believe in talking to Iran until they give in to all U.S. demands. Also, Bush, worried about his legacy, may attack Iran, an action that may make him appear to be a Churchillian hero of sorts in certain circles.

The Democrats must declare that Bush does not have the Constitutional authority to attack Iran without a declaration of war from Congress. This will prevent the likely scenario of Bush conducting war with Iran without conducting good faith diplomacy first. Iran likely would not have nuclear weapons for at least four years; once Bush is out of the White House, and a Democrat is in, true diplomacy, and the prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran, can take place.

Posted by: brian on January 19, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Democratic leaders in Congress lobbed a warning shot Friday at the White House not to launch an attack against Iran without first seeking approval from lawmakers."

Posted by: Brojo on January 19, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

If no deal is reached, and Iran pursues nuclear weapons or refuses to let weapons inspectors in, we must attack Iran.

"We must attack Iran"

Ummm...whyyy was that again? Because this country, who in its history has never attacked anyone, might, many years down the road, make a nuclear weapon, if they feel sufficiently threatened?

Why didn't we attack the USSR in the post-war period? Could we "allow" Stalin to have the bomb? How about Mao? Surely not those Communists, who wanted nothing less than world domination.

Yet those folks did get the bomb, and a funny thing happened- they never used it, against us or anyone else. Even though both had plenty of "clients" that we worried about, they never gave a bomb to anyone else to use against us. And oddly enough, in all the years of posturing and posing, we never had to fight either one once they had the bomb. And they didn't take over the world- we did.

But these Iranians- they're craaaazzy. If they don't do what we say, we have to attack!

Sheesh.

Listen, I'd rather Iran didn't get the bomb. I'd rather Pakistan and India (particularly Pakistan!) didn't have the bomb. But they do, and they even got it outside of the IAE. And recently, we clapped them on the back and said well done!

But if Iran doesn't give up low-grade uranium enrichment, we have to attack because they might use this as a step, someday, towards having a bomb like their regional neighbors have today.

This is how we talked ourselves as a nation into going along with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney's excellent adventure last time, folks. Have we learned nothing?

Posted by: pdq on January 19, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: I'd still be interested in adding to my seemingly endless collection of reasons why talks between the United States and Iran are never advisable "at this time."

The Cheney administration will agree that talks with Iran are "advisable" when Iran agrees to install a US-backed puppet government that will hand over control of Iran's oil industry to Cheney's cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil companies and acquiesce to a large, permanent US military presence to enforce that control.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK
down the sewer of history? Walter E. Wallisat 4:14 PM
Your iddy bitty buddy Bush has already begun that process.
This will prevent the likely scenario of Bush conducting war with Iran without conducting good faith diplomacy first brian at 4:52 PM
No, it won't. Bush will defy Congress. Iran has a right under the Non-Proliferation treaty to develop nuclear power, which Egypt and now Jordan have decided they also need.

SecularAnimist:
That sounds about right: surrender first, talk later.

Posted by: Mike on January 19, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Advocating attacking another country because it is developing defensive atomic weapons to prevent an aggressive attack to steal its natural resources, disgusts me. It also makes me very angry and susceptible to hate. I would prefer not to hate my fellow citizens, but if the US should attack Iran I fear my soul shall overflow with that hideous emotion.

Posted by: Brojo on January 19, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

I can't understand why Iran won't talk with us, just because we require as a condition of starting talks that they concede what we want as a conclusion. We will talk with them about stopping their nuclear as soon as they stop their nuclear program.

Posted by: anandine on January 19, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Remember those Canadian spy coins?

Well guess what?

They were really Irani spy coins...

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 19, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

PS

Okay... Not Irani yet... but give it time.
The neocons are working on it...
Trust me.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 19, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez.

Why don't we just ask Israel to open themselves up to inspections?

That's ALL Ahmadinijad is asking for. (unless you get your "news" from Fox).

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 19, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

On Gorgeous George's appearance on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer,

http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/01/clean_language_just_doesnt_cut.php


Before I continue my rant against the moron who, unfortunately, continues to lead the nation, let me explain my anger. My wife missed our son's seventh birthday because she was in Iraq. She missed his sixth birthday because she was away training for the Iraq deployment. She missed his fifth birthday because she was in Afghanistan. She will probably be back in time for his eighth birthday, but that is far from certain. That is part - a small part - of the sacrifice that she has made. It is part - a small part - of the sacrifice that the rest of our family has made. Similar sacrifices have been made by tens of thousands of military families over the last few years, and those sacrifices are nothing, nothing compared to the sacrifices of the families of those who have lost their lives in this conflict.

Comparing sacrifices of that nature with getting a little worried after watching TV is quite simply obscene. It is disgusting. It displays an insensitivity to what military families go through that is absolutely, completely unforgivable, especially coming from the commander-in-chief.

Posted by: cld on January 19, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

cld wrote: "Comparing sacrifices of that nature with getting a little worried after watching TV is quite simply obscene."

Well, this is after all the same George W. Bush who, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, said that they proved the urgent necessity of passing more huge tax cuts for the ultra-rich.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Second paragraph above is also quoted and should have been italicized.

Posted by: cld on January 19, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Target Iran -- Countdown Timeline,

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-timeline.htm

Timeline goes to 2009(!) and includes link to an interactive chart Where are the Carriers?

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/where.htm

Posted by: cld on January 19, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get something done and end the madness, at least for awhile.

We've got bigger and more pressing concerns that face all of us, like climate change and ecological limit's we're quickly approaching.

We're heading into an era that by necessity be one of dialogue, consensus and cooperation, or we will face a swift decline.

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

dear kevin - the iranians are NOT arabs. the sooner this confusion is cleared up the better. i wonder if dubya knows this fact................

Posted by: lucretius on January 19, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

i am an idiot, i mis-read your post, KD. it's been a long week. i will self-flagellate all weekend.

Posted by: lucretius on January 19, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Why don't we just ask Israel to open themselves up to inspections? That's ALL Ahmadinijad is asking for."

That is essentially correct... and will never be reported or discussed on American TeeVee. He has proposed that the entire Mideast be declared a nuclear-weapon free zone with rigorous mutual inspections.

The Israelis, having enough 'secret' nukes to incinerate the entire region (and then some) aren't going to agree to that... and the US political/media system isn't going to buck the money that owns them.

Posted by: Buford on January 19, 2007 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

www.rawstory.com had a story up today about Ahmadinejad being told to "cool it" on the nuclear thing by Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other clerics. I think Iran wants to talk to us and the Iranian people are among the most modern and secular in southern Asia. Ahmadinejad is a lunatic with little popular support - much like Bush himself. We should not, and let me shout that, WE SHOULD NOT allow Bush and Cheney to preemptively attack Iran. If they do, there should be immediate action of impeachment'

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 19, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Advocating attacking another country because it is developing defensive atomic weapons to prevent an aggressive attack to steal its natural resources, disgusts me.

The murdering scumbag who is advocating war against Iran unless Iran does what they are already doing. Iran has signed an unprecedendant additiona protocol that gives the IAEA inspectors the authority to inspect any site in Iran without notice. The IAEA has published reports which state clearly "There is no evidence that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons at this time." You only have to go to the IAEA website and download all the files in handy PDF format. If that's to much pick up Scott Ritter's book "Target Iran."

Posted by: klyde on January 19, 2007 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

My Lord, people! Open your eyes.

There is a lunatic in charge of Iran now who wants to wipe Israel (read: us) off the face of the map! By the way, he wasn't around in 2003, maybe open a newpaper why don't you?

Bush is right not to negotiate with rogue states. It only rewards their rogue behavior and creates more instability in the future.

Posted by: egbert on January 19, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

From the New York Times:

Iran’s outspoken president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be under pressure from the highest authorities in Iran to end his involvement in the country’s nuclear program, a sign that his political capital is declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure. Less than a month after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear program, two hard-line newspapers, including one owned by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the president to stay out of all matters nuclear. In the hazy world of Iranian politics, such a public rebuke was seen as a sign that the Supreme Leader himself — who has final say on all matters of state —may no longer support the president as the public face of defiance to the West. It is the first sign that the president has lost any degree of confidence from the leader, a potentially damaging reality for a president who has rallied his nation and defined his administration by declaring nuclear power to be Iran’s “inalienable right.”

Posted by: asdfg on January 19, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "My Lord, people! Open your eyes."

You first.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 19, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

lucretius: "I will self-flagellate all weekend."

Some comments simply speak for themselves.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 19, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Donald Darling...

At the risk of juvenile taunting, have you checked your email lately?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

At least no one is going to self-emolate, and that wouldn't take all weekend anyway.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, a sane administration is in power and they will probably be able to speak effectively to many people in Iran who have not the slightest interest in Ahmadinejad's nonsense. The USA is on the verge of being able to broker a stable new relationship between Sunni and Shia in the Mid-East, a relationship that leaves Al Queda out to lunch.

Why shouldn't this happen? The majority of Iraniains want neither a nuclear jihad nor a new war with Iraq. The majority of Iraqis want only peace and a decent chance to modernize under a stable government.

Syria and Saudi-based extremists may want something else entirely, but Bush may have out-played them. If they can't raise hell in Baghdad it turns out their only real stage for tragic drama is in Anbar province, which won't get nearly as much press. Either that or they can turn back to International drama and try to blow up Paris or the London subway.

I am developing the opinion that George W. Bush has won already and that all the doom-saying is not going to become real doom because the elements of real doom are not present. The only thing that blows this assumption up might be a real WMD that gets loose somewhere, but liberals everywhere assure me that WMD's were all some type of right-wing fantasy in the first place.

Posted by: mike cook on January 20, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Yet those folks did get the bomb, and a funny thing happened- they never used it, against us or anyone else.

It's interesting that the same people who insist that having lots of guns around makes society safer, want preemptive oblivion when another country only might be arming itself. Could it be that wingnuttery is somewhat inconsistent and badly thought through? I wonder...

Posted by: craigie on January 20, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

My translation:
HEADLINE: The Iraqi President confirmed that he learned about the execution of Saddam from the news and repeaated his opposition to capital punishment.

President Jalal Talabani revealed that Iranian officials told him during his visit th Tehran at the end of last year that they were ready to begin talks with the Americans to reach an understanding acceptable to both sides stretching from Afghanistan to Lebanon and opined on the circumstances that led to the thwarting of two meeting he strived to arrange for the two sides.

And the Iraqi President was talking to "Al-Hayyat" in the guest suite of the "People's Palace" in Damascus that he is currently officially visiting.

And Talabani stated feeling "great pain and dejection and loss of hope about the peace process" while he reads about the numerous corpses that fill the Baghdad morgues or the numbers of civilialns that were killed. And he blames (ed. don't quite know if that is correct) the terrorist organizations, especially "al-Qa'ida" and accuses it of launching "a renewed war against the people of Iraq".

And he conceded the success of "death squads" in penetrating some of the police apparatus, pointing out that this apparatus is subject to cleansing/urging. And Talabani explained about his optimism to the new steps to impose peace in Baghdad, expecting its visible success to transfer the security ?????? (ed. missed the word) to the hands of the Iraqis. And he rejected a sudden American withdrawal from Iraq, pointing to supporters/elements of the Democratic Party not agreeing to a withdrawal without the realization of an acceptable situation in Iraq. And he pointed to the danger of a withwrawal of this type before the completion of a settlement.

And Talabani comfirmed the presence of killing resultinog from sectarian divisions and tht Suinni of Iraq are killing Shia and vice versa. But he considers that "the requisites for civil war don't exist". And he praised the role of the sayyid Ali al-Sistani is playing in preventing the poutbreak of civil war.

And the Iraqi president said that he didn't know the appointed time of Saddam Hussein's execution and that he knew about it from the news. And he renewed his opposition to capital punishment, pointing out at the same time that the execution ended any possibilities of return to power, and that obviously the majority of Shias and Kurds were happy with the announcement of Saddam's execution.

And he impressed on the necessity of the Iraqi administration to an agreement between all its political constituencies and without favoring one side or the other, [ed. couldn't translate the rest of the sentence] saying "the situation of Iraq demands the agreement and participation of all".

And Talabani explained his pleasure in having talks with President Bashar al-Assad, telling al-Assad that he would carry any message to the Americans. But he emphasized that any improvement in the relationship between Syria and the United States be reflected positivelt on the ground in Iraq and the same with the relationship between Tehran and Damascus. And he noted that Iran and Syria began assisting the Iraqi authorities.

Posted by: guachi on January 20, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

[replying to myself] As you can see, the rest of the article didn't go into detail and Juan Cole basically translated the first paragraph word for word.

Posted by: guachi on January 20, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

mike cook: I am developing the opinion that George W. Bush has won already and that all the doom-saying is not going to become real doom

That's wonderful. Now back to reality ...

liberals everywhere assure me that WMD's were all some type of right-wing fantasy in the first place

No, no, no. I can admit when I was wrong. Please post a link to the discovery of WMDs in Iraq, as I seem to have misplaced mine.

Posted by: alex on January 20, 2007 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Please post a link to the discovery of WMDs in Iraq, as I seem to have misplaced mine.

Who can forget "Bush: 'We Found' Banned Weapons" (May 31, 2003):

President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war. "And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," Bush said. "But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."

Posted by: asdfg on January 20, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that the same people who insist that having lots of guns around makes society safer, want preemptive oblivion when another country only might be arming itself.

Yeah. I think the difference though is guns they can own and can personally pack whereas nukes are at a remove. But yeah, nukes are the ultimate equalizer and were wingnut positions actually decided on the basis of the arguments they muster (rather than being mantra like cover for decisions of raw emotion), then yeah it should be the more nukes the merrier.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 20, 2007 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

But maybe for the sake of the biosphere we should just get it on and launch all our nukes. While disastrous to individual plants and animals, the area around Chernobyl is in toto (at the level of species and ecosystems) the best place in the ex USSR for wildlife cause us homo sapien locusts are largely out of the picture there and what we do on a day to day basis is far more devastating.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 20, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of the area around Chernobyl, have you ever been to this website? Truly creepy. Almost as blood-chilling as looking at the Bush family photo album.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 20, 2007 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

Guachi's translation seems accurate.

For Kevin Drum however, I would note however that the article links to an accompanying article of the interview w al-Hayat (what appears to be a partial transcript of the interview).

In that interview he responds to a question w respect to Iran and Syria, which I made some excerpts on this at 'Aqoul for those with further interest.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 20, 2007 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

If you guys venture outside the echo chamber one time this year, please read this MySpace entry by a soldier killed in Iraq last week.

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=46348938&MyToken=b6757d84-eb9d-4529-a6cf-3848a0e3b53c

If the link doesn't work you can get to it from several right-wing sites, including Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin. Please don't prejudge the guy because of your opinion of them, he was 23 years old and not responsible for their statements or opinions.

Posted by: current toady (the ex-minion) on January 20, 2007 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator
Scary tour. A forewarning?

Posted by: former marine in ny on January 20, 2007 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, _The Lounsbury_. I didn't notice the article linked to a partial transcript.

There is no way I am going to translate that, even for myself, and post relevant quotes. Although I should, if only for the practice. It's just too long.

Posted by: guachi on January 20, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

I already translated what seemed to me the most relevant parts at Aqoul, as linked supra. No matter, some items of interest in terms of phrasing, but nothing earth shattering.

Posted by: cat on January 20, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - What in God's name do you think Iran would want to "talk" about?

Let me give you a hint - Iran would want to talk about Israel. There would be demands for Israel to give up more land. Then Iran would demand the UN allow Iran's nuclear program to proceed.

And after years of "talking" what would we have? Israel would be less safe, Iran's nuke program would be more advanced, and the Left would pat itself on the back thinking it had given peace a chance.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on January 20, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Iran indicated it wants to talk about security. Pity of course that the overblown hand waving re potential and tangential Israeli security issues - which are Israeli state interest, not American - are being touted as a reason not even to talk. Queer really, like asking What would the Soviets want to talk about, it will just endanger West Germany..." as a rhetorical question to not talk at all.

Irrational and cretinous, but in keeping with the current American administration.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 20, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

asdfg writes:

Who can forget "Bush: 'We Found' Banned Weapons" (May 31, 2003):
President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war. "And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," Bush said. "But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."

Yes, that was very embarrassing for Americans to have on display a President so absolutely foolish.

And let’s contrast the above statement with what he said a few days ago in his interview with Scott Pelley:

The minute we found out they didn't have weapons of mass destruction, I was the first to say so. Scott, all I can do is just tell the truth, tell people exactly what's on my mind, which is what I do.

It’s impossible to know to what degree he is a jerk, and/or a liar, and/or an idiot when he makes these statements. Same for the people who agree with and support him.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 20, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I hihgly recommend watching this. Nothing directly to do with this topic. Yes, it is MEMRI, but they're just translating. A brave woman, who I hopes has lots of life insurance...

http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1050wmv&ak=null

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 20, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Clickable link version.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 20, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

current toady:

I read Mr. Daily's MySpace entry and, while I respect his courage, I think he has drunk too deeply of the delusional Kool-Aid served up by the Bushes. If his goal is to spread democracy to all of the countries of the world that are undemocratic and whose people are oppressed, he has his work cut out for him. Of the 180 or so sovereign nations in the world, over half do not have the sort of democratic republic we live in. Further, his historical context is lacking and not focused - he asserts that Iraq's problems began "centuries" ago. I would say more like when Great Britain occupied the provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra and jammed them into a country named Iraq after WWI. It should have never happened,and Great Britain experienced the same resistance we are facing today. Things got worse when the CIA supported a homicidal maniac named Saddam Hussein beginning in the late 1950s when Saddam tried to kill Prime Minister Qassim in 1959 and in 1963 when he finally succeeded in overthrowing him. This video summarizes the whole ugly affair nicely.

So, Mr. Daily may have noble intentions, it is simply too bad he is so misinformed and delusional about why the U.S. is in Iraq in the first place. Honor needs intelligence to be meaningful.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 20, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

It was recently revealed that Iran offered to talk to us and offer concessions, in think in 2003, and Cheney et al shot it down.

Posted by: Neil B. on January 20, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If they gained them, they would be able to sanction terrorist organizations without having to worry about being overthrown by the U.S. the same way the Taliban was.

Years too late, faux-moderate "brian" begins to latch onto the concept of "deterrence."

But of course, that sword cuts two ways -- if Iran used its nukes, they wouldn't have to worry about being overthrown by the U.S. the same way the Taliban was -- they'd have to worry about being obliterated by the retaliation.

If Iran "can't be allowed to have nuclear weapons," I nominate faux-moderate concern troll "brian" to do something about it, armed with a laptop, a bag of Cheetos and a squirt gun.

Posted by: Gregory on January 20, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Not-at-all-ex minion toady, someone who evidently reads Malkin and Hewitt for anything other than the humor value has no standing to lecture others about an "echo chamber."

Posted by: Gregory on January 20, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Iran wants:

* Symmetry in non-proliferation treaties.
* An anti-Sunni alliance with the U.S.
* Mutually Assured Destruction with Israel

Who agrees with Iran?

On the first point, symmetrical non-proliferation treaties, most Americans agree with Iran and not Cheney

On the second, most Americans want the entire Sunni world destroyed, all the way through Mecca. Americans are actually more hawkish than Iran on wiping out Sunni and their child molesting activities.

On a new MAD doctrine, that is Israel's problem.

All in all, I think Americans are allied with Iran.

The Republican party, under James Baker, has a defacto alliance with Al Queda, in fact, Baker represents Al Queda in court against American victims of Sunni terrorism.

The Republican party has always approved of Al Queda and their attacks on U.S. taxpayers. WItness the long standing relationship between Republican crooks and child molesting Sunni oil terrorists.

I am still wondering why American conservatives borrow money from the Chinese communists and support an American government attacks on the American tax payer.

Posted by: Matt on January 20, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Matt:

Not that I disagree with most of what you say, but you may be even more cynical than I am. I definitely agree with your point about James Baker - when he was being touted as the answer to the Iraq debacle, I almost threw up. His membership in the Carlyle Group has enabled him to profit enormously from the tragedy in Iraq and 90% of Americans don't even know it.

Here is some even more gloomy news about Dubya's plans for Iran. It seems he is not jusr planning surgical strikes against their nuke facilities, but all-out war against the entire Iranian nation.

We must stop this insanity before it starts! Support House Joint Resolution 14!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 20, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

my thanks to Guachi and The Lounsbury up above.

It is at least "interesting" that Talibani seems to believe that the "surge" will increase the ability of the Iraqis to take control of the security, and that he opposes a withdrawal of American forces any time soon.

If we are going to respect his optimistic comments about his talks in Syria and Iran (at least they sounded optimistic to me), then shouldn't we respect his other comments as well?

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK
….The Republican party has always approved of Al Queda and their attacks … Matt at 4:08 PM
According to the latest screed by Dinesh D'Souza, he claims that "Osama bin Laden is “a quiet, well-mannered, thoughtful, eloquent and deeply religious person”? And who notes that the Ayatollah Khomenei is still “highly regarded for his modest demeanor, frugal lifestyle and soft-spoken manner”? According to this whack, if the US only had a society more in line with fundamentalist values, Christian and Muslim, we would all be better for it.
… it is MEMRI, but they're just translating… Red State Mike at 11:45 AM
That is the entire point of MEMRI: dishonest and distorted translations. You need to come up with something reliable, not some outfit run by ex-Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet agents. Crap, their translations of Ahmadinejad have been laughable in the way they claim that Iran is going to attack Israel and the US should nuke first.
…keeping with the current American administration. The Lounsbury at 11:19 AM
Precisely. Lee Hamilton made an appearance before a congressional committee. His question, What is the Bush regime so afraid of doing, giving Washington DC to Tehran?
…There would be demands for Israel to give up more land…Frequency Kenneth 11:01 AM
Wow, you must have an inside line to the State Department to know all the negations before they occur. As it so happens, most of Israel is stolen from the Palestinians anyway. All its neighbors offered it recognition and peace if Israel returned to the '67 border. Of course, that was rejected out-of-hand for the prospect of stealing even more Palestinian land via the fence and other means.

U.S. plans envision broad attack on Iran
Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:49 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters)...
"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.
"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.
"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said….

Posted by: Mike on January 20, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

oh, and vice-versa. If we respect his comments about the American commitment, then we ought to respect as well his comments about his talks.

Too me, it seems sensible for the US to back the Iraqi government, and let the Iraqi government do the negotiating with the Syrians and Iranians, at least for a time. Any meaningful agreement with Syria and Iran concerning Iraq would require agreement of the elected Iraqi government, wouldn't it?

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

mike cook: I am developing the opinion that George W. Bush has won already and that all the doom-saying is not going to become real doom because the elements of real doom are not present.

That is a tad on the optimistic side. Do you want to elaborate what is causing that opinion to develop?

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmidinejad did not lose popular elections, his candidates were merely not allowed to run. If they had, it is likely they would have won. This was done primarily as a olive branch to the us, and we slapped it down. Pretending that Ahmidinjad is hated in his own nation may be comforting, but it's not true.

Posted by: Soullite on January 20, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

First, with respect to "Mike" supra, on this comment "If we are going to respect his optimistic comments about his talks in Syria and Iran (at least they sounded optimistic to me), then shouldn't we respect his other comments as well?" - perhaps, but one should put political statements in context, they are statements not of the real-world possible but of poltical posturing ( I mean that in the sense of maneuvering ).

What you can read from Talabani is (i) disapproval of a Syria and Iran war by the US, directly or indirectly, (ii) desire for pragmatic cooperation re stabilising affaires. These are wins for quasi independent Kurdistan. Most other statements are simply necessary political blather he has to engage in.

As to this comment: when he was being touted as the answer to the Iraq debacle, I almost threw up. His membership in the Carlyle Group has enabled him to profit enormously from the tragedy in Iraq and 90% of Americans don't even know it.

Queer, I work in Carlyle group realm and I am unaware that Carlyle has profited from Irag directly in a sense that would allow someone to make this sort of remark implying his judgement was impaired or influenced.

It would appear that the writer of this remark is, in typical conspiracy fashion, confounding firms such as Haliburton ( ac ontractor) with Carlyl - private equity group.

If the writer has some substantive evidence to support the accusation and to refute my impression of idiocy and confusion, well, I would love to see it.

Re MEMRI:
at is the entire point of MEMRI: dishonest and distorted translations. You need to come up with something reliable, not some outfit run by ex-Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet agents. Crap, their translations of Ahmadinejad have been laughable in the way they claim that Iran is going to attack Israel and the US should nuke first

I could not load the link, but although I and my MENA colleagues at Aqoul have long been critics of MEMRI, think you moderately overdo the critique. The translations are often althought not always spun, and not always dishonest. But the aggregate tendancy is to present only the articles athat reinforce the over-arching theme of the degerate, evil Arab world, and as we at Aqoul and others elsewhere have documented, they do engage in dishonest presentation, framing and editing.

Afraid this is a bit of nit picking but I would hope that the attack on MEMRI would not be overdone.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 20, 2007 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Lounsbury: First, with respect to "Mike" supra, on this comment "If we are going to respect his optimistic comments about his talks in Syria and Iran (at least they sounded optimistic to me), then shouldn't we respect his other comments as well?" - perhaps, but one should put political statements in context, they are statements not of the real-world possible but of poltical posturing ( I mean that in the sense of maneuvering ).

It was my comment (I mean to take the heat off Mike), and I don't disagree with your qualification. I don't think anybody should feel to confident when trying to distinguish between real political discourse and posturing. In politics, you practically never know in advance what is achievable, and some posturing is necessary. I think the claim is that, even if Syria and Iran are purely posturing, the US should engage and see whether something is achievable. As long as talking does not substitute for acting in the meantime.

MEMRI has an obvious bias, but they are worth reading, don't you think? I mean at least as long as nobody takes them as a sole source.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

This one is kind of bizarre:

http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009521


There are some interesting ironies. The US is allied with Shi'ites in Iraq and with Sunnis in Lebanon (sort of). Syria is allied with Sunnis in Iraq and with Shi'ites in Lebanon.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

With respect to MEMRI
MEMRI has an obvious bias, but they are worth reading, don't you think? I mean at least as long as nobody takes them as a sole source.

Perhaps. I don't need to read them, I am in the region and have direct access, and no need for translation.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 21, 2007 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

calibantwo:

A thing about those Syrian "alliances." Syria is run by a minority sect (Alawite) of a minority population group, and its government's Ba'athist ideology is nominally secular and pan-Arab. Since it has one of the most open resettlement policies in the Muslim Mideast, it's also choking atm on Iraqi refugees, the majority of them Sunni, probably mainly for geographical regions. So the Syrian government has every reason to be "pro Sunni" in its policies regarding Iraq.

I wouldn't necessarily construe support for Hezbollah in Lebanon as being "pro-Shi'ite," necessarily. For a number of reasons which I don't understand (and doubtless The Lounsbury does), Syria sees itself as the rightful hegemon over Lebanon. Perhaps this has to with the fact that Palestine, the Sinai penninsula, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria were all part of "trans-Jordan" before WW2. So support for Hezbollah by Syria is support for the resistance against Israel by a pro-Syrian Lebanese faction. I think this is less strictly sectarian than pure power politics. Recall that Nasrallah became a pan-Arab hero for a while after last summer's war. Only now with Saddam martyrized by his botched execution are Sunni Arabs beginning to once again turn a skeptical eye to Hezbollah as an instrument of Shi'ite hegemony ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this strikes me as odd:
For a number of reasons which I don't understand (and doubtless The Lounsbury does), Syria sees itself as the rightful hegemon over Lebanon.

Well, Lebanon was merely a province of the Syrian mandate until it was detached - indeed in Arabic one still sees this in its grammatical gender - by the European powers, effectively France.

But leaving this aside, one might well ask why the US sees Central America as its pre-carre. Silly question really.

In any case rmck1/Bob correctly sees the Syrian positioning with respect to Hezbullah and Iraq (where I think American posturing re Syrian official role is rather overdone) as one of interests, and not of religious alignment as such.

I would also discount the idea Sunni Arabs in the surrounding countries, on the popular level, are necessarily becoming skeptical of Hezbullah as such. It has quite a lot of street cred.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 21, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Mike
That is the entire point of MEMRI: dishonest and distorted translations. You need to come up with something reliable, not some outfit run by ex-Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet agents. Crap, their translations of Ahmadinejad have been laughable in the way they claim that Iran is going to attack Israel and the US should nuke first.

Did you check out the link? What was the topic? I actually thought it would merit sympathy here.

Did some background digging, turns out it is old news. The clip was Wafa Sultan giving an interview on Al Jazeera. She has an entry on Wikipedia, so Iassume everyone here has seen the clip.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 21, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

(POTUS SOTU ca. 2003)

"Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power." (and stay the course makes ching-ching for more bling-bling.)

"Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence (sic) in the affairs of men."
(yupp, no permit required ... fire in the hole!)

"And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country (Turkey, Syria, Saudi, Iran) -- your enemy is ruling your country (America.) And the day he (Bush) and his regime (Milawi) are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. (Applause.)"

"We seek peace. We strive for peace. We will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies -- and freedom." (and income taxes, and unemployment, and electricity for one hour a day)

"And if war is forced upon us, (sic) we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military -- and we will prevail." (someday, far from now, some future President will declare it)

"Some might call this a good record; I call it a good start." (Mission "Tar Baby" Accomplished)

"If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. (Applause.)"

Posted by: Peris Troika on January 22, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Actually your link did not work for me personally, although I suspected....

Wafa Sultan.

The MEMRI clip was edited and the translation actually rather skewed to make her look good. My colleagues at Aqoul did a full translation from the original.

And no, she hasn't had problems, although as part of the Evil Arabs industry, the idea her rather precious ultra-secular ranting being a new Satanic Verses moment has been beated into the ground.

Sultan is merely irrelevant.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 22, 2007 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK

The Lounsbury:

The Evil Arabs industry -- I like that :)

I confess that my only source is the NYT, but after Saddam's execution, they had a number of pieces on the reaction in the Arab street, and at least according to them, it appears that Saddam (who was, previously, acknowledged as a tyrannical butcher of fellow Arabs), his past forgotten, has been elevated into a martyr by the dignified way he went to his death -- in marked contrast to al Sadr's taunting goons.

Maybe the NYT is overstating this, but they conclude that it's taken some of the shine off of Nasrallah/Hezbollah (and by extention, Iran) as pan-Arab champions and increased skepticism regarding Iran/Hezbollah's true motives in the region.

FWIW as the Paper of Record, anyway ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

NYT is overstating and I think engaging in a bit of wishful thinking re Nasrullah and Hezbullah on the popular level.

However, it is true that the neighbouring governments have been trying to play this.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 22, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

The MEMRI clip was edited and the translation actually rather skewed to make her look good. My colleagues at Aqoul did a full translation from the original.

I read your full translation. Not sure how it differs in substance from MEMRI's. All her points are still made.

And no, she hasn't had problems, although as part of the Evil Arabs industry, the idea her rather precious ultra-secular ranting being a new Satanic Verses moment has been beated into the ground.

To you. That was the first time I'd seen it, and I found it refreshing and hopeful that someone from within might speak up against extremism in Islam.

Sultan is merely irrelevant.
Posted by: The Lounsbury

To you. Not to me, nor should she be to liberals and to people who believe in women's rights everywhere.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 22, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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