Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TALKING TO IRAN....Here is Christiane Amanpour's latest from Iran:

As I sat down recently with a senior Iranian government official, he urgently waved a column by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times in my face, one about how the United States and Iran need to engage each other. ''Natural allies,'' this official said.

....He insisted he was describing the thinking at the highest levels of the religious leadership -- the center of decision-making power in Iran. I asked whether he meant Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself. "Yes," he said.

...."Each of us is afraid of looking weak if we take the first step," he said. "We have this fear in common with America. Before contemplating recognition, each side feels it necessary to convince the other side that 'I am not weak.'"

Look: Iran is not some wayward child with a heart of gold that can be made into our bosom buddy by sitting down and swapping a few stories. It's a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades. But the weird thing is that this senior official is right: there really aren't any fundamental geopolitical reasons that Iran and the United States need to be enemies. Iran isn't territorial, they're happy to sell their oil to the highest bidder, and they really do hate al-Qaeda.

1979 was a long time ago, and in the past few years Iran has made overture after overture toward us. Some of those overtures have been kind of weird; they've been interspersed with plenty of hostile rhetoric; and they don't always follow up on them. But they keep making them, and no country does that unless they really are looking for a rapprochement of some kind. What's more, Iran did cooperate pretty significantly with us immediately after 9/11. That's pretty concrete evidence that there's at least a chance of working out some kind of acceptable modus vivendi with them.

I know, I know. There's still Israel. And obviously I don't have any magical solution to that. But even there, there might be a deal to be struck. Not an easy one, or a quick one, but something. But we'll never know unless we actually make a serious effort.

Seems worth it to me. The Soviet Union turned from implacable enemy to semi-friend in a remarkably short time, and that conflict was far longer lasting and more deeply rooted than our conflict with Iran. And remember: Ronald Reagan ensured his legacy by cutting a deal with the Soviets during his final two years in office. Maybe Bush should try to do the same.

Kevin Drum 12:17 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Comments

Wow, I can't believe I agree with Friedman.
I've been saying for years that Iran is much more of natural ally than any other ME country, except Israel I suppose. The people like us, have more in common culturally, than the Arabs, who mostly hate and mistrust us. Mostly because of Israel, we can't make peace with Iran, which is so funny because Israel and the US have had no problem helping Iran make war with Iraq!

Posted by: Marky on February 22, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

And obviously I don't have any magical solution to that. But even there, there might be a deal to be struck.

The US was allied with both Israel and Egypt before Camp David. I'm sure it didn't hurt.

Maybe Bush should try to do the same.

Sure, or more plausable, he should be impeached. Wouldn't that be a great article of impeachment? Forget the crimes and misdemeanors: "We'd just like to try some grown up diplomacy now."

Posted by: Boronx on February 22, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Haven't you heard? We've actually been at war with Iran since 1979. Who knew?

Posted by: Boots Day on February 22, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

"there really aren't any fundamental geopolitical reasons..."

Great. Now how about looking at ideological reasons?

Posted by: am on February 22, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Check out what Wesley Clark and Votevets.org are up to [link]:

    Please join the Iraq War veterans at VoteVets.org and me and sign the petition to President Bush today. Military force against Iran is not the solution now, and if we adopt the right strategy, perhaps it need never be. Urge him to work with our allies and use every diplomatic, political, and economic option at our disposal to deal with Iran. War is not the answer

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

We should not talk to Iran until they (1) stop killing American troops in Iraq, and, (2) comply with the UN and stop their nuclear program.

Until then, no talks with Iran. None. Let Christiane Amanpour spout all the Iranian propaganda she wants, who cares.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on February 22, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Until then, no talks with Iran. None. Let Christiane Amanpour spout all the Iranian propaganda she wants, who cares.
Posted by: Frequency Kenneth

Apparently Wesley Clarke and a bunch of Iraq veterans care, but what the hell do they know compared to the wisdom and experience of FK?

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to the fact that the Iranian people like us and want to be part of the modern world, unlike the people of many of our political allies in that region, if the Iranians can move past their Islamist government at their own pace and in their own way, it will be extrenmely good for us in combatting Islamist terrorism. Others in the region will see that Islamic fundamentalism is not the answer to their very real problems.
It would be an enormous wasted opportunity to turn the Iranian people into enemies and turn the washed up corrupt Tehran regime in a hero for Muslim people everywhere. They couldn't do that. Only we can.

Posted by: Kevin Rooney on February 22, 2007 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Why wouldn't Iran love us? They are by far the biggest beneficiaries of our Iraq debacle.

It's criminal that Bush has been ideologically unwilling to capitalize on Iran's delight with the elimination of Saddam.

And no - it's not about any damm principle. It's not about the fact that Iran is a dictatorship. Cf. Saudi Arabia. And it's not about the fact that Iran aids people in Iraq who want to kill Americans. Cf. id. And it's not even the "axis of evil" thing. After all look at the recent deal with NK.

So what is the problem?

Posted by: mkultra on February 22, 2007 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, you'd think W and his Bush League minions would WANT to talk to a bunch of religious fanatics who feel that only persons of the one true faith were capable of being trusted to run a country, that liberal democracies were destroying their nation's moral fiber, etc.

Oh, wait - wrong religion - and the Saudis don't like them. Bummer

Posted by: RepubAnon on February 22, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

...1979 was a long time ago...

Right there. That crystallizes the chasm between the western rationalist mindset and the middle eastern world view. 1979 was not a long time ago to us, and they are still nursing grudges for acts committed in 1211.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

1979 was a long time ago to us. Sorry.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

We should not talk to Iran until they (1) stop killing American troops in Iraq, and, (2) comply with the UN and stop their nuclear program . . . Until then, no talks with Iran. None. Let Christiane Amanpour spout all the Iranian propaganda she wants, who cares.

Okay, then, you just sit there and hold your breath until your cheeks puff out and your face turns blue.

In the meanwhile, the grown-ups will follow the wisdom of Yitzak Rabin: "You only need to make peace with your enemies - you are already at peace with your friends."

We need leaders with the courage to do what is best for the country. This macho posturing just promotes more pointless death and suffering. It doesn't lead to any actual resolution of the issue, for good or ill.

The Bush adminstration believes in money more than it believes in God, country, rational thought, or common decency. They should be able to buy the Iranians off and come out ahead on the deal.

Posted by: Berken on February 22, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "Ronald Reagan ensured his legacy by cutting a deal with the Soviets during his final two years in office. Maybe Bush should try to do the same."

The decisive difference between Ronald Reaghan and George W. Bush is that the former was far more politically pragmatic than his bellicose Cold War public rhetoric had often otherwise led us to believe, while the latter is just as distressingly doctrinaire and hopelessly superficial as he sounds on television.

Reagan also once offered a chillingly astute political observation about the current president's father when both were rivals for the 1980 GOP nomination: "The problem with George Bush is that he never stands for anything that isn't to his own personal benefit."

Like father, like son.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 22, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Global! - Welcome back to the living! Just hasn't been the same without you. Kevin is right though. Whether we like the theocracy or not, how in the hell do we not seriously engage Iran? It is absolutely stunning that Congress can manage no more than meek and mild little bleatings on this

Posted by: bmaz on February 22, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that if we can deal with Texas, we ought to be able to deal with Iran.

Posted by: craigie on February 22, 2007 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

Oh I agree - we talk to Iran even if it takes six months to order lunch. i was just pointing up the cultural/mindset differences that we will have to deal with. We might even have to forsake the ethnocentrism for a minute...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

But Craigie, keep in mind the damage Texas has caused the US the last six years.

Posted by: bmaz on February 22, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Long before the USSR collapsed -- when they were communist, repressive, murderous, corrupt, and fighting us through proxies around the world -- we dealt with them in a number of ways. We succeeded in developing several levels of arms limitations, anti-ballistic missile agreements, weapons in space, etc., etc.

Difference: they already had nuclear weapons. Now Putin is Bush's buddy and Russia is capitalist, repressive, murderous, corrupt, and (most likely) fighting us through proxies around the world.

I think we have no reason not to talk with Iran.

Posted by: notthere on February 22, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl,
The people of Iran are pissed because we installed the Shah. The CIA helped depose Mossadegh. He was a popular leader at the time, but the West hated him because he nationalized the oil fields.

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on February 22, 2007 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Look: Iran is not some wayward child with a heart of gold that can be made into our bosom buddy by sitting down and swapping a few stories. It's a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades.

The U.S. has also been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades we have that in common. However, the harm done to Iran by U.S. terrorism far outweighs anything done by Iran to the U.S. so we should open dialogue with an apology.

Posted by: antiphone on February 22, 2007 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

TMKF: I sing that tune regularly. I can't say the name John Foster Dulles without spitting and I need a shower just typing that sequence of letters.

We had a discussion three weeks ago about negotiating with Iran, and I posted this.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hear, hear, antiphone, but at the moment we also seem to be a illiberal, theocratic plutocracy so all the more simpatico when they sit down.

Posted by: notthere on February 22, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

The people of Iran are pissed because we installed the Shah.

They got to know the kind of work Rumsfeld and Cheney do long before most of the American public did. But it’s all ancient history now…

Posted by: antiphone on February 22, 2007 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

[off topic] notthere: the name you were looking for on the other thread is Marine General Paul Van Riper. Sharp guy.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's be perfectly blunt.....the ideology....the philosophy....the strategy on all of this is cheney and bush believes in him and the underlying principle of it all is that the solution to everything in foreign affairs is showing who has the biggest cojones.

Now the fact that this approach has already proven disastrous has absolutely no impact on mr. cheney or mr. bush. If something isn't working, the solution is more of what didn't work and larger firepower along with making sure that opponents understand that there is nobody who will outdo us when it comes to torture.

until these people are out of power (and it is to be fervently hoped but unlikely) in prison for their lies, this country will continue to chart a course towards the very real possibility of a new conflict with Iran and one which could well evolve into the use of nuclear weaponry by either ourselves or Israel.

Posted by: dweb on February 22, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

They have the Shah issue; we have the 1979 hostage issue, and there are many other issues on both sides to carp about. These, however, do not constitute reasons to refuse diplomatic engagement, they are reasons we SHOULD engage. History is to be known, understood and respected; but should not serve as a bar to intelligent conduct in the future. The Iranians have much to gain from us, we have much to gain from them; that is all that is required for successful diplomacy.

Posted by: bmaz on February 22, 2007 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

The Shah's father wasn't exactly a legitimate power. he was a puppet of the Brits and AIOC.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan ensured his legacy by cutting a deal with the Soviets during his final two years in office.

The legacy questions the media obsess over are such bullshit. On the one hand no one really cares to take an honest look at the history of American foreign policy, and on the other there is a lot of overblown reference to one president or another’s “Legacy”. Presidential legacy is nothing more than mythology created entirely for domestic consumption.

Posted by: antiphone on February 22, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks cyntax. Yes, I read a really good article about the exercise. He was not a happy guy. He had blue beat but they refloated the fleet he had already sunk or damaged. They needed to do that so they could continue the exercise. But he wasn't using radio, he used runners so they changed the rules and started interdicting his instructions.

I guess they learned something if they plan to fly from carriers in the Gulf of Oman, but that just underlines the danger in the Persian Gulf for tankers -- just as big, unarmoured, slower, undefended and totally combustible.

I think it is just madness not to sit down. Bush just isn't a big enough man. Actually, I don't think he's man at all. And I saw on BGRS' link some think nuclear weapons could possibly be used. Any use of force by the US and the Europeans will be on the streets. Nuclear, I think the Europeans would go ape-shit and I would hope the people here would too.

Posted by: notthere on February 22, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

I have to bow out for the night and get some sleep but all my greatest Iran hits are readily available on my site and at the new place - Just type Iran in the search bar on either blog.

It's good to be back amongst the wired, most assuredly. Talk to you soon.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Iran already made an offer ('A Grand Bargain) to compromise on many of the issues with which the US has concerns in 2003. It was far more than 'helping' with Iraq and included ending support for Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups as well as making their nuclear program more 'transparent' and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two state solution in the Israeli/Palestininan conflict. Their only request was that the US end hostility towards them. BBC and WP report that Cheney's office 'rejected' the offer outright. Amazingly, Rice was questioned about this offer recently in a congressional hearing and this particular offer had 'slipped' her memory. She said something like "We get offers all the time. I don't recall this particular one." What a liar she is. Here is a WP link:

In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue

And here is an account of Rice's bad memory:

Rice 'Disputes' Claim of Iranian Overture

Posted by: nepeta on February 22, 2007 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yesterday I was wondering if all this movement of stuff toward Iran might not be a feint and they might end up dropping the whole thing into Waziristan.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2007 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

As a highly trained psuedo-realist here at the RAT Institute I have to consider as many of the
'known, knowns' as possible. One of these is the fact that small particulate matter blocks out the sun. We need a ' nuclear autumn' to buy us more time in order to deal with runaway global warming.
A side benefit of dropping some bunker-busters on the Iranian Islamofascists might be to further delay the Senate phase 2 report on the alleged political use of twisted intelligence that we needed to bomb the Iraqi Islamofascists.

Don't change horseheads midstream. Third terms a charm. The impossible we can do today - unknown, unknowns take a little longer. Fool me twice - Cheney on you. Hard radiation for lack of a better term, is good. Radiation works, cleans your teeth and expresses the finest and highest part of the devolutionary spirit.

What are you anyway?

Some kind of terror-Lover?

It's a free country Drum - If you don't like it here try the DPRK - you can save on power bills that way.

Posted by: professor rat on February 22, 2007 at 5:09 AM | PERMALINK

I think if we impeached and imprisoned Bush and Cheney and told Iran we wanted to make a fresh start with them, the Iranian people might dump Ahmadinejad (sp?) and do the same. Both Bush and Ahmadinejad are fringe lunatics who most of the population despises.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 22, 2007 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

It's a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades.

The point of that column was that this is also a description of Saudi Arabia. One could quibble about whether it's a "state" sponsor of terrorism, but al qaeda largely exists as a result of Saudi subsidies. There's also the uncomfortable role the US played....

But not to go off on side issues. There is a lot of common ground with Iran. There's no reason not to explore that common ground. There does seem to be a Sunni/Shia split in our foreign policy establishment--the "realist" Carlyle group folks supporting the Saudi Sunnis, and the neo-con "idealists" supporting greater Shia influence. I'm not sure what motivates the latter, but it seems to be there.

Posted by: jayackroyd on February 22, 2007 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

As long as our foreign policy is run by people beholden to the Likudites of AIPAC and to the House of Saud, there is zero chance Secretary Rice will ever return an Iranian phone call. Right now America is a mindless giant being lead around by two or three alleged "allies" telling us to club their adversaries.

Peace might break out if America were to gain control of its own foreign policy.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 22, 2007 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I know, there's no rule that says that if we normalize relations with Iran, we can't bomb the bejebus out of them if, for some suicidal reason, they decide to attack Israel.

Posted by: keptsimple on February 22, 2007 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

As a sign of my strength and effectiveness as a leader, I propose a policy of not talking to my enemies until they first agree to stop being my enemy.

You can't fail if you don't try. I'm pretty sure of that.

*Special thanks to FrequencyK for inspiration and moral support.

Posted by: obscure on February 22, 2007 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: It's a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades.
And the U.S. is a harsh, illiberal plutocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades. To its possible credit, Iran is arguably more democratic than the U.S., as its citizens--unlike ours regarding our plutocracy--are largely in favor of the theocratic system under which they live.
AM (quoting Kevin):"there really aren't any fundamental geopolitical reasons..."
AM: Great. Now how about looking at ideological reasons?
Your ellipsis pointlessly (well, I'm sure you had a point, but it certainly wasn't to save space) clips a few words which are pertinent to Kevin's statement, as well as to yours. What Kevin actually said was: "there really aren't any fundamental geopolitical reasons that Iran and the United States need to be enemies." Enemies, eh? In other words: adversaries in a war. Yes, there certainly are ideological reasons why imperialists/authoritarians would want to make war with Iran. But all of those reasons serve only the interests of those who profit from war making, not the general populations of either country.
AKA GLOBAL CITIZEN: That crystallizes the chasm between the western rationalist mindset and the middle eastern world view. 1979 was not a long time ago to us, and they are still nursing grudges for acts committed in 1211.
I don't see a difference in mindsets. Clearly, the U.S. doesn't have a history it can trace to 1211. But if it did, and if it believed itself a victim of injustices committed against it then that were still being felt today, I have no doubt but that the U.S. would still harbor resentments. If you don't believe that, ask some native Americans how they feel about the genocide committed against them and its lingering effects; or ask some African Americans how they feel about their enslavement and its lingering effects.

To the extent that the U.S. was victimized by others (ie, England, Germany, Japan), the reason for little lingering resentment is that we were victorious over them and prospered as a result. That those defeated nations mostly don't hold grudges can be traced to the fact of their initial aggression and primarily to the U.S. victories not resulting in their forfeiture of sovereignty.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 22, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Don't know how much this has been said already in the comments (so sorry in advance for repeating), but I've noticed more and more that my friends who lean pretty strongly conservative are convinces, and I mean CONVINCED, that Iran wants war above nothing else, and that engaging in talks would not only make us look weak, but also empower Iran to go to war with us.

Posted by: Cassidy on February 22, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: "It's a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades."

Cheney will call you out for talking about the United States this way.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on February 22, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

It's nice to breathe some fresh air here, Kevin. How do our "leaders" become so overwrought that they lose sight of the fact that it's in everyone's interest to avoid war?

Posted by: clem on February 22, 2007 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

This "Iranian official", if he exists, is just a wacko with his own agenda, and doesn't represent Iran's true motives. If Iran wanted to talk to us back-channel, they would do it through a third embassy, not a journalist. That's the way things are done at the highest level.

Amanpour was played for a fool.

Posted by: Al on February 22, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Re: "...I know, I know. There's still Israel. And obviously I don't have any magical solution to that."

Why does this require a solution? Aren't our leaders supposed to represent OUR interests? Who cares what Iran's policy is towards Israel?

Also, it takes a lot of nerve to say that 1979 was a long time ago. How many hostages did they kill again? Zero?

The 1980's were more recent. In that decade, we supported a murderous war of aggression against Iran, and shot down a civilian Iranian airliner, killing everyone on board. So, what you should be saying is that the 1980's were a long time ago, so hopefully our misdeeds during that decade can be forgotten.

Posted by: Jim W on February 22, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK


AL: If Iran wanted to talk to us back-channel, they would do it through a third embassy, not a journalist. That's the way things are done at the highest level.

Speaking of levels, Al--as you sit there in the basement, does it occur to you at all that Iran is so desperate to talk to us and so weary of having their back-channel efforts ignored, that, as a last resort, they made their desires known to a journalist? No? It's because you want more people to have their bodies blown apart, isn't it?


Posted by: jayarbee on February 22, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Speaking of levels, Al"

Please give him a break - Having flunked his A-Level and even the O-Level of political thought, Al is desparately studying for his Z-Level exams.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 22, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

We won't talk to Iran when it doesn't serve our further long-term global strategy of holding China, Russia and other developing powers back from developing into equal rivals. This war has already been decided.

Posted by: Amos Noble on February 22, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it so hard to make conservatives' unwillingness to negotiate with our enemies look as stupid and counterproductive as it actually is? Al, Frequency Kenneth, and the rest of you conservative numbskulls, we negotiated a friggin' constitution with slaveowners, for Christ's sake, and kept negotiating with them after they tore the country in half over their sacred right to own other people, and brought them back into the fold after they caused the deaths of nearly 2 percent of the population, and kept negotiating with them for another century while they denied a third of their population basic civil rights. But we can't negotiate with the Iranians? It's really that simple: if you can stomach negotiating with violent white supremicists, you can damn well stomach negotiating with violent theocrats.

Posted by: dcbob on February 22, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

>"Aren't our leaders supposed to represent OUR interests? Who cares what Iran's policy is towards Israel?"

ROFL! SMTN ! [snorted milk through nose].

AIPAC owns the congress. It's gonna take 50 million people in the streets for the people to get it back.

Once a system become structurally corrupt it's nearly impossible to correct without tearing it down and starting over. [literally be definition]

Posted by: Buford on February 22, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

i guess its going to take a few thousand more body bags filled with whats left of your mighty army before you dumb americans see the light. oh well, i should have my broker move my portfolio over to allied plastics or dupont or whatever firm supplies the americans with saran wrap for thier dead sons and daughters. cheers.

Posted by: redmike on February 22, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Who came up with our current stance towards virtually all diplomatic negotiations?

"First make the most important concessions to us, and then perhaps we will deign to negoitate with you on what else you should give us."

Posted by: chasmrich on February 22, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Based on the anecdotal evidence I have read about the attitudes of the typical Iranian, there may be hope for the future, but I suspect the mullahs will have to give way before a real reapproachment can take place. The ideological divide between them (the Iranian leadership) and us is quite a chasm, and I see no real way to close that.

Posted by: Lucifer on February 22, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'm getting a little tired of people trotting out '79 or '82.

We assassinated a president of their country and incited and funded the other side of a war that killed 500,000 Iranians.

Posted by: SAO on February 22, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

The worst thing about this story? Is that it is going to straight to Friedman's head, and confirm his delusions of grandeur that he is a Wise Man of Washington. We'll never hear the end of it.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on February 22, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Memo to Libby:

We are not paying Frequency Kevin enough.
Bump up his salary and throw in some more Halliburton options.

The guy is a tenacious brick thrower who will shit any color we ask him to...

Also in regards to Amanpour:
I want this bitched tar and feathered with nightsoil.
She's a fucking traitor cunt.

Do whatever you have to do.
And do it now.

I'm going to go shoot some caged birds.
I want action by the time I return.
Now were's my fucking nigga shotgun?

Posted by: Mumblings from The Bunker on February 22, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "... they're happy to sell their oil to the highest bidder ..."

Well, that is of course the central problem. Iran is not willing to hand over the vast majority of the profits from their oil to Dick Cheney's cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil companies -- as the US-written Iraq Oil Law will require Iraq to do -- so, regime change is necessary.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 22, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

We'll never hear the end of it.

If the price of peace is 3-4 more Friedman bestsellers I'll gladly read/pay it.

Posted by: SAO on February 22, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Yo Buford -- Hear! Hear!

Israel is easy, Kevin! Call in the loans, all of them, which means instantly freezing all current assets: require immediate adherence to all Sec Council Resolutions ----- 242, 338, et seq. which include Right of Return, Restitution and Compensation and then there would ensue discussions as to how many of the immigrants might be permitted to remain.

as Buford has pointed out, The Best New Congress Money (The Lobby's money, that is!) Can Buy is not going to do it.

Of course Congress will not do it. This is the United States congress which was prepared to spend trillions of its citizens' money and to kill hundreds of thousands of people on behalf of Israel. ----- I shall repeat it, before Buford gets to it ---- it was `set out in "A Clean Break: A Strategic Plan For The Realm" (The realm being Israel) in 1996, acknowledged to have been written by Perle, Wurmser, Feith etc.

Our Congress is so controlled that it just rolled over. IT might take more than 60 million, Buford.

ttPaul --- so it is "Os" and "As" Hah! I got Highers myself...... a little to the North.

Posted by: maunga on February 22, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

This "Iranian official", if he exists, is just a wacko with his own agenda, and doesn't represent Iran's true motives. If Iran wanted to talk to us back-channel, they would do it through a third embassy, not a journalist. That's the way things are done at the highest level.
Amanpour was played for a fool.
Posted by: Al

Through a third party you say? Really? Like maybe a Swiss ambassador named Tim Guldimann? Oh yeah, that's they did when we snubbed them back in 2003. They should definitely do that again.

What's funny here is your answer reveals a pyschosis common to the BushCo dead-enders: keep doing the same thing over and over again until it works. Here's Pelosi describing a conversation she had with Bush on the surge:

    "He's tried this two times — it's failed twice," the California Democrat said. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.' "

I really am warming to the idea that you're a parody troll Al.


Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I would agree a deal could be struck on Israel. Something along the lines of they agree not to do anything militarily against Israel, including support of terrorists. But they still get to use the anti-Israel rhetoric. Really they need that to play to the theocratic base.

Posted by: john on February 22, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Psst... we don't care what they THINK, much less believe. Even after endless negotiations, we don't even much care what they say.

We care how they ACT.

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 22, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

SOA: We assassinated a president of their country and incited and funded the other side of a war that killed 500,000 Iranians.

What President of Iran did the US assassinate? Prime Minister Mossadegh lived to a fairly ripe old age in exile after we overthrew him, am I missing someone else? Perhaps you have him confused with Diem or Allende, who were killed by their domestic rivals while we were somewhere between encouraging and looking the other way.

Posted by: just sayin on February 22, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Psst... we don't care what they THINK, much less believe. Even after endless negotiations, we don't even much care what they say.
We care how they ACT.
Posted by: theAmericanist

Psst... Americanist, you don't know what you're talking about. We very much should care what they think and believe because we have a hostile relationship with them. We'll let Lt. General Paul Van Riper break it down for you:

    I think one of the fundamental lessons that should have been learned from Afghanistan is the ability to understand another culture. As Americans we're sort of arrogant in many, many ways about other cultures. We don't study them, we don't appreciate them. If we'd gone in there with units on the ground who didn't appreciate the culture, who couldn't immerse themselves in it and adapt to it, we'd have had a lot different outcome than we did. So if there's anything we need to look to in the future beyond continuing to develop the technology, it is to understand how we want to fight, and to become much more aware of the various regions and peoples of the world—how they think, how they understand the world, and how we relate to them.

Take your jingoism back to the kids table, cause it doesn't help us keep the peace, and it doesn't help us win wars.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

A small historical fact, just for fun: I remember a conservative, long ago, who insisted that "it wasn't proven" that we overthrew Mossadegh.

As it happens, Kermit Roosevelt (TR's son) did the deed, and wrote a memoir about how proud he was of it. Basically, he hired a mob for $1 million in cash and IIRC, and was quite open about the net result: the Brits wanted us to knock off Mossadegh because he wanted to nationalize the oil fields, which would've meant taking 'em from the Brits, so we installed the Shah... who let US have the oil fields.

(The Roosevelts loved to stiff the British: FDR, too.)

Moreover -- another little recalled fact -- it was the Shah who delivered the first oil price shock, months before the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973: Kissinger put him up to it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 22, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

A brief quibble Paul - It was Kim (Kermit Jr.) who was the other force, along with John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of state, who conceived of the CIA coup. to appease the Brits.

(This is a pet topic of mine. While all other 16 year olds were watching the revolution with one set of eyes, I was looking for the older brothers of acquaintances.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 22, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Neocons are distinguished by their unwillingness to entertain the interests of the other side. This is their break from the realpolitik of the Kissinger Era. The only interests of the neocons is to win outright no matter what the cost. Absolute power and hegemony is their only goal because they regard every fight as a fight for survival. They reject the philosophical and strategic implications of détente, which implies the other side has some form of legitimacy. Neocons, like all ideologists, believe that they defend universal principles, mostly of a nationalist nature, against absolute enemies. Their world is a world of perpetual war against the perpetual enemy within the state and beyond its borders.

It is stunning that people still feel Dick Cheney and his fellow travelers can be brought by some opportunity or turn of events to embrace a moderate position. The neocons have fought all their lives against moderation and seek everywhere to undermine it.

"But always -- do not forget this, Winston -- always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

George Orwell
1984

Posted by: bellumregio on February 22, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I have to pile onto Kevin with all the folks criticizing him for his blatant use of the "state sponsor of terrorism" slur against Iran.

I thought everybody understood by now that one person's "terrorists" are another person's "freedom fighters" and that use of these terms are for rhetorical, not descriptive, purposes. Every nation with an interventionist foreign policy supports and/or engages in acts of terror, and as other have pointed out, the US ranks right up at the top of the list.

Those who are serious about negotiations and peace are better advised to drop the shock rhetoric. (I'm looking at you, Kevin.)

Posted by: Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Drum: Ronald Reagan ensured his legacy by cutting a deal with the Soviets during his final two years in office.

Here:

Ronald Reagan ensured his presidency by cutting a deal with the Iranians before his first term in office.

Fixed it for you, Kev...

..they're happy to sell their oil to the highest bidder..

That's the problem. Having to make a higher bid means lower profits, unless you can successfully pass the increase to the end consumer.

..and they really do hate al-Qaeda.

Yep; the US had really done Iran two huge favors; removing al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan on its northern border and Saddam Hussein from its western.

You'd almost think that Iran planned it that way.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

AIPAC owns the congress. It's gonna take 50 million people in the streets for the people to get it back.
Once a system become structurally corrupt it's nearly impossible to correct without tearing it down and starting over. [literally be definition]
Posted by: Buford

Really? Not sure that is the case. I'm thinking of the fact that we rejected Iran's 2003 overture to us which offered rapproachment on the Israel issue. If Iran was willing to recognize Israel and AIPAC truly controls Congress, why'd the 2003 offer get scuttled?

What the Iranians weren't willing to sacrifice in 2003 was their nuclear program. But to believe that's any threat to Israel, you'd have to believe that Iran would be willing to kill millions of Palestinian Arabs, risk destroying the Al Asqa Mosque in Jerusalem, and of course risk nuclear retaliation from the US and Israel. Color me skeptical.

But if Iran had nuclear capacity they would gain standing in the Mid-East, standing and influence that might be on par with Turkey. And that would not be to the benefit of any of Iran's neighbors in the Gulf region.

For my money, scuttling the 2003 offer benefitted the Gulf states much more than it did Israel. But BushCo doing something for the House of Saud and the rest? Naw, that can't be it.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yep; the US had really done Iran two huge favors; removing al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan on its northern border....

Aha! Finally an explanation for why the GWB admin has allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda to reconstitute itself in Afganistan!

Posted by: Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Iranians may be able to help us with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan/Waziristan.

I don't know, but wonder if Iranian influence might be better for Afghanistan than Pakistan. Pakistan has been a disaster for us. It wouldn't hurt to have more leverage over them.

We recognize Iran and guarantee it's territorial integrity in exchange for a non-agression deal, giving up nukes, and maybe we could get them to cut Hezbollah loose. Perhaps that would qualm Israel/SA.

So we put in the Shah, they trashed our embassy and kept diplomats hostage, we shot down an airliner full of innocent people. Even?

But I don't trust our foreign policy, and that goes for Democrats as well as Bush idiots. It seems to me that we prefer a certain amount of tension in all regions so that we can keep the arms flowing. Not a good idea to have military/industrial complex types running our foreign policy, IMO.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Aha! Finally an explanation for why the GWB admin has allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda to reconstitute itself in Afganistan!
Posted by: Disputo

Exactly. How'd Dur Leader put it?

    'Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again'

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 12:03 PM:

Finally an explanation for why the GWB admin has allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda to reconstitute itself in Afganistan!

Nah. I'd chalk that one up to Dubya's general incompetence and the dedication of already-scarce resources to the Iraq theatre.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

What the Iranians weren't willing to sacrifice in 2003 was their nuclear program. But to believe that's any threat to Israel,

That's because you are only seeing the direct threat to Israel from Iranian nukes, which is admittedly non existent.

The real threat is indirect. Israel's nukes make it the regional hyperpower, and allows it to do pretty much whatever the f it wants without fear, eg, murder 1500 Lebanese civs in retaliation for the capture of two soldiers. Any threat to their nuclear monopoly threatens that hegemony.

Posted by: Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

The real threat is indirect. Israel's nukes make it the regional hyperpower, and allows it to do pretty much whatever the f it wants without fear, eg, murder 1500 Lebanese civs in retaliation for the capture of two soldiers. Any threat to their nuclear monopoly threatens that hegemony.
Posted by: Disputo

But it also threatens the influence of all those oil-producing Sunni states like Saudi Arabia. So it's a two-fer!

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's [Iran] a harsh, illiberal theocracy that's been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades.

I disagree. Iran is a limited democracy, much like the US. It's religious council is much like our Electoral College. Iran has elections. Americans object to the limits placed on those elections by the religious council, but they ignore the restrictions to enter political contests in the US that basically prevent any opposition to the Democratic and Republican monopoly from taking place. Our democracy is not perfect nor is Iran's.

The sponsoring of terrorism charge is serious. I do not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. Iran supports the most abused peoples of the Middle East and is called terrorist for it. I do not consider the limited support to Iraqi insurgents terrorism. Most Americans do not consider the US support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets terrorism. I would have to guess the US has sponsored more terrorism than Iran ever has. I am thinking of Nicaragua during the Reagan administration and the recently bombed bus in Iran. Iran has certainly not armed another country and then encouraged it to bomb its neighbor.

Whatever Iran does that is unsavory, the US does thousands of times more.

Posted by: Brojo on February 22, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 12:06 PM:

The Iranians may be able to help us with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan/Waziristan.

Given the non-success of the Soviets and now the US in Afghanistan, the Iranians would be stupid to involve themselves militarily in that area.

Not a good idea to have military/industrial complex types running our foreign policy, IMO.

Agreed, and then some.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

So "Reagan assured his legacy by cutting a deal with the Soviets?" This is the kind of nonsense that liberals are dispensing these days. From the first days of his presidency Reagan began an economic offensive against the Soviets that weakened the USSR a great deal... Truth is more important than ideology.
Posted by: mhr

[snore]... Huh? What? Did I miss something?

Oh, just mhr doing his revisonist history thing and misconstruing a correlation for a cause.

Big whup.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

SDS was derided by liberals

I challenge you to name one liberal who derided Students for a Democratic Society....

Posted by: Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

So we put in the Shah, they trashed our embassy and kept diplomats hostage, we shot down an airliner full of innocent people. Even?

you left out: we helped saddam target the WMDs he once had against the iranians. "even" would signify christlike magnanimity on their part.

and as Blue Girl so thoroughly documents (you rock, blue girl!), installing the shah wasn't just trading one dictator for another. we were strangling middle east democracy in its crib.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Even?

Americans have this idea that each American's life is worth one million lives of 'others.'

In order to teach the world a lesson after 9/11, we have to kill three billion people. We've only just begun.

Kind of like three Blackwater assassins' lives are worth killing a whole city.

Posted by: Brojo on February 22, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

THIS CANNOT BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH!
and as Blue Girl so thoroughly documents (you rock, blue girl!), installing the shah wasn't just trading one dictator for another. we were strangling middle east democracy in its crib.

And, I'd like to add, shooting ourselves in both feet, repeatedly.

Posted by: kenga on February 22, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Soviet Union turned from implacable enemy to semi-friend

That is a funny statement. The Soviet Union went from friend and ally to implacable enemy much quicker that from implacable foe to semi-friend.

In order to justify the continuous US subsidy of the defense and oil industries, it is necessary to always have an implacable enemy. Iran and the 'terrorists' have become the enemy du jour.

Posted by: Brojo on February 22, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush:
Given the non-success of the Soviets and now the US in Afghanistan, the Iranians would be stupid to involve themselves militarily in that area.

Not military aid. WTF would we need that?

Intelligence, that's what the Iranians could bring to the table. They're vastly closer in geography, language etc. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they knew far than we more about what AQ & the Taliban are doing.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

benjoya:
you left out: we helped saddam target the WMDs he once had against the iranians. "even" would signify christlike magnanimity on their part.

What kind of agreement do you envision?

Posted by: Horatio Paker on February 22, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Bush should try to do the same.

Maybe monkeys should fly out of my butt.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 22, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I was a liberal and voted against Reagan four times.

Sure. I don't know why so many posters from the right-wing fringe think their arguments will gain acceptance if only they throw in "I was a liberal." Personally, I think it should read: "I once was a liberal, but in recent years I have lost my mind."

Posted by: chasmrich on February 22, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it wonderful. The Near and Middle Easts were muddling along reasonably peacefully, with even the armistice between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries holding up, until The Lobby, controlling Johnson, got him to back-door the Six Day War. That was the genesis of Arab fury. Until June 1967 the ultimate safe passport to have in that whole area was a US Passport. The US was seen as fair (unjustifiably, but it was the case!), and generous, an Americans, when encountered were seen as friendly, unthreatening and personally generous.

The US covert and underhand support for Israel in its build-up and then action in the "Six Day War", especially that it did not protect its then closest friend in the Arab world, the HK of Jordan...... ("Look what they do to their friends!") and then Johnson nailed it all home when he did nothing to Israel when the USS Liberty was destroyed by the Israeli Airforce.

Bear in mind that "neocon" is a synonym for the PNAC/AIPAC/The Lobby. These are the guys who were the WHIG and who took us to Iraq.......

Kermit R was pretty slick, really; he put Mossadeq in and then because he was just too Left and Commie-supporting he moved him right out again. Oh that our spion were so flexible and slick today . If they actually knew`something of the character of their subjects, they might, of course.

Posted by: maunga on February 22, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of agreement do you envision?

i don't know, maybe the kind of thing they floated in 2003. maybe condi will get around to reading it this time.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

manuga, i was under the impression that mossadegh didn't have to be "put in" by k roosevelt or anyone else, that he was popularly elected, that iran actually was something approaching a democracy at the time. am i wrong?

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 12:59 PM:

Not military aid. WTF would we need that?

Our military is stretched a bit thin at the moment, in case you haven't noticed.

Intelligence, that's what the Iranians could bring to the table.

And what happens when it becomes public knowledge that Iran is actively, openly assisting the US?

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yep; the US had really done Iran two huge favors; removing al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan on its northern border and Saddam Hussein from its western.

You'd almost think that Iran planned it that way.

Yes, sometimes one has to wonder whether or not the plan is consolidate half the world's known oil reserves in the hands of a few extremist shia.

Especially with this latest effort to force underequipped soldiers into new smaller outposts and underarmored vehicles, just at the same moment they may be facing more adversaries with large (chemical) truck bombs and better anti-tank weapons. It doesn't make sense from the standpoint from which it's being offered to us.

And my apologies regarding a post before, I guess I mixed up which foriegn leaders we assassinated and which we simply overthrew.

Posted by: SAO on February 22, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I think it should read: "I once was a liberal, but in recent years I have lost my mind."

It prefer this reading: "I acknowledge that I am an idiot, and so would like to pretend that I was once sane."

Posted by: Disputo on February 22, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush:

Our military is stretched a bit thin at the moment, in case you haven't noticed.

We're not trying very hard, if you haven't noticed. Total guns and butter approach, a joke in terms of military effort.

Anyway, the type of action I'm talking about isn't large unit stuff, more like covert ops.

And what happens when it becomes public knowledge that Iran is actively, openly assisting the US?

I give up, what happens?

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of agreement do you envision?

benjoya
i don't know, maybe the kind of thing they floated in 2003. maybe condi will get around to reading it this time.

Or maybe you'll read it.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

from a link by nepeta about the 2003 offer: "What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran," said Rice, who was Bush's national security adviser when the fax was received. "Now it is Iran and the international community, and Iran has to answer to the international community. I think that's the strongest possible position to be in."

On other occasions, the Bush administration is criticised for acting alone. Here and in NKOR they have chosen to act in concert with allies.

Rice, and others, also said that the U.S. receives plenty of offers. They do not believe most of the offers are genuine.

However, Iran is in violation of the NPT. Since they did sign the treaty, and since they did and still do receive support for their nuclear power program, it is not unreasonable to require that they comply with the NPT before new negotiations start.

I have always thought that it was a mistake for the U.S. not to condemn the Iraqi invasion of Iran, and not to condemn the Iraqi use of chemical weapons in that war. However, the Iranian regime is diffucult to deal with. It's foolish to accept all these Iranian criticisms of the U.S. at face value when the President of Iran repeatedly threatens to destroy Israel and has rearmed Hezbollah.

I would like to see a photo of Rice sitting with the Iranian Foreign Minister and discussing a multitute of issues, but I also think that she is right that nothing would come of it.

Posted by: spider on February 22, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

But we'll never know unless we actually make a serious effort.

You don't have any evidence that the administration isn't making serious efforts. What you have are a few publicized non-responses to particular documents. This is an area where, before Bush was non-successful, Clinton was non-successful.

Posted by: spider on February 22, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio, you got a point (other than "kill the brown people")?

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I have always thought that it was a mistake for the U.S. not to condemn the Iraqi invasion of Iran, and not to condemn the Iraqi use of chemical weapons in that war.
Posted by: spider

By "not to condemn" I assume you meant "to actively support" and "to sell chemical weapons to."

Posted by: Nads on February 22, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 1:57 PM:

We're not trying very hard, if you haven't noticed. Total guns and butter approach, a joke in terms of military effort.

Soooo...You are suggesting that the US be put on a full war footing, complete with price controls, rationing, a draft, and what's left of US manufacturing capability devoted to arms production?

Or do you mean that we need to start throwing around nukes to show everyone who's boss?

Or do you mean that our military isn't putting enough effort into the task at hand?

Please clarify.

Anyway, the type of action I'm talking about isn't large unit stuff, more like covert ops.

And what happens when it becomes public knowledge that Iran is actively assisting the US?

I give up, what happens?

If you can't even hazard a guess at to what the possible repercussions are, then you might want to back off your 'covert ops are way cool' approach to foreign policy.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Iran is in violation of the NPT.

pure BS. the sanctions that were brought have nothing to do with the NPT.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe you'll read it.

I sure as fuck would if I were the Secretary of State. Idiot.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

and fwiw to a tool like yourself, i did read the memo.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

You don't have any evidence that the administration isn't making serious efforts.

absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

Posted by: donald rumsfeld, bush's gift to the world on February 22, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Please clairfy

I'm just making the point that where we are now ie stretched thin is with a fraction of our capability. And that's due to politics. Ergo, we don't need Iran as a military ally.

I don't want to expand to military, to the contrary, I would cut it's budget in half. I'd get out of Iraq, close a bunch of bases and cancel some weapons systems. I don't think the most important part of our foreign policy is to keep a bunch of fat-assed soldiers and consultants in cushy jobs.

If you can't even hazard a guess at to what the possible repercussions are, then you might want to back off your 'covert ops are way cool' approach to foreign policy.

Can you? IMO, repercussions from Iran/US intelligence/covert cooperation would be none to minimal. So I'll ask, again, what is the BFD?

And I'm not enamored of covert ops. I just think it's a potentially useful tool for AQ/Taliban/Waziristan, seeing as Pakistan is a so-called ally.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wes Clark sent out an email yesterday promoting a new website --- StopIranWar.com --- which he has put together with VoteVets. It's a place to go to sign petitions and learn how to stop the upcoming war.

Clark has been working hard for a long time to try to bring attention to the problem and pressure the Administration into using diplomacy. It is, in fact, why he is not yet in the presidential race --- he's afraid it will damage his credibility as an objective policy wonk in this area.

Clark has a history of caring more about saving lives than about his career.

Posted by: catherineD on February 22, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK
The Soviet Union turned from implacable enemy to semi-friend in a remarkably short time,

No, it didn't.

It turned from an implacable, seemingly powrful enemy to a obviously toothless enemy to a defunct entity in a fairly short time.

Perhaps several friends and semi-friend rose from the corpse of the Soviet Union, but the present regime in Washington is doing its best to make the biggest of those into an enemy again.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I sure as fuck would if I were the Secretary of State. Idiot.

That's reassuring.

and fwiw to a tool like yourself, i did read the memo.

If you want to throw rocks and then not explain yourself, fine. No need to get nasty about it.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the most important part of our foreign policy is to keep a bunch of fat-assed soldiers and consultants in cushy jobs.
Posted by: Horatio Parker

While I'll grant that our military supports what is probably one of the world's largest bureaucracies in the world, I'm going to take issue with your characterization of our current foreign policy as having a salutory net effect on the soldiers. The Army and Marines are stretched very thin right now and current rotations through Iraq aren't cushy and don't promote fat asses.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

strike the redundancy here: "one of the world's largest bureaucracies in the world"

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

suggesting that we should negotiate with iran is "throwing rocks"? yeah, i've also heard that ignorance is strength.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

unless you wanted to debate the contents of iran's 2003 offer. but if that were the case you would have debated the contents of iran's 2003 offer. you apparently just wanted to blow off some methane.

i just assumed you knew about such things. my bad.

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax

I'm going to take issue with your characterization of our current foreign policy as having a salutory net effect on the soldiers. The Army and Marines are stretched very thin right now and current rotations through Iraq aren't cushy and don't promote fat asses.

Of course I'm not talking about the grunts. I thought that was self-explanatory. Whose version of the military/industrial complex includes the front liners?

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Of course I'm not talking about the grunts. I thought that was self-explanatory. Whose version of the military/industrial complex includes the front liners?
Posted by: Horatio Parker

Fair enough, I interpreted what you wrote as referencing our current foreign policy, which is only remarkable for nearly wrecking our military, not its continued support of the military industrial complex. But if you're talking about our foreign policy over the last 50 years, I see what you mean.

Posted by: cyntax on February 22, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

benjoya
suggesting that we should negotiate with iran is "throwing rocks"? yeah, i've also heard that ignorance is strength.

No, throwing rocks and not explaining is suggesting that having helped Saddam would be a deal breaker and then saying, "I dunno" when asked about an alternative.

And further, if "ignorance is strength" is indeed refuted, then we can dispense with your continued experimentations in this area.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 2:31 PM:

I'm just making the point that where we are now ie stretched thin is with a fraction of our capability.

So...that means increasing the number of troops, thus expanding the military?

I don't want to expand to military, to the contrary.

Guess not. I'm still a bit unclear as to what you mean by, "We're not trying very hard...a joke in terms of military effort." Do we have enough troops, armor, supplies, et cetera or not? Are they doing their job or not?

Ergo, we don't need Iran as a military ally.

'Iran/US intelligence/covert cooperation' doesn't qualify as a military alliance?

..to the contrary, I would cut it's budget in half. I'd get out of Iraq, close a bunch of bases and cancel some weapons systems.

No disagreement there.

I don't think the most important part of our foreign policy is to keep a bunch of fat-assed soldiers and consultants in cushy jobs.

Who does? But that's off point, isn't it?

Can you?

Yep. It involves Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, the US, and the rather complex relationship between the leadership of those entities....No, I haven't figured out the details at this time.

IMO, repercussions from Iran/US intelligence/covert cooperation would be none to minimal.

Why do you feel that way?

So I'll ask, again, what is the BFD?

It seems to be in Iran's best interest at this time not to aid the US in Afghanistan, that's all. I really don't see what Iran has to gain by such an action.

I just think it's (covert ops) a potentially useful tool for AQ/Taliban/Waziristan, seeing as Pakistan is a so-called ally.

Like covert operations haven't been happening in Afghanistan at all. What makes you think that covert operations initiated by Iran will work better than covert ops initiated by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Britain, the US, and others?

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kermit did not put Mossadegh in power, don't listen to that crap without evidence. Deposing him, on the other hand, there is much evidence:

***

On April 12, 1999, in an offhand remark in front of the captains of industry, President Clinton said:
Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations. I think sometimes it's quite important to tell people, look, you have a right to be angry at something my country or my culture or others that are generally allied with us did to you 50 or 60 or 100 or 150 years ago.

(The Washington Post, May 1, 1999)

Of course, had the President, who was now apparently "feeling our pain," devoted some of his extracurricular activities to reading Kermit's book, he might have given a better speech in terms of who did what to whom and when. But given his limitations, this was the best that he could do to please the corporate crowd.

But the greatest admission of guilt came from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who in a meeting of corporate lobbyists in March 2000 stated:

In 1953, the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh...the coup was clearly a set back for Iran's political development and it is easy to see why so many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affair.

(US Department of State, March 17, 2000)


Unfortunately, this opaque confession did not console us much, since it was not a genuine expression of sorrow but merely an attempt to improve relations with the Iranian clergy in order to open the floodgates of corporate profit.

After Albright's speech, on April 16, 2000, The New York Times broke what its writer, James Risen, called the US's "stony silence" by devoting a number of pages to publishing parts of a still classified document on the "secret history" of the 1953 coup.

The history was written by one Donald N. Wilbur, an expert in Persian architecture and one of the "leading planners" of the operation "TP-Ajax." The report chronicled gruesome details of the events in 1953: how, by spending a meager sum of $1 million, the CIA "stirred up considerable unrest in Iran, giving Iranians a clear choice between instability and supporting the shah"; how it brought "the largest mobs" into the street; how it "began disseminating 'gray propaganda' passing out anti-Mossadegh cartoons in the streets and planting unflattering articles in local press"; how the CIA's "Iranian operatives pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with 'savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh'"; how the "house of at least one prominent Muslim was bombed by CIA agents posing as Communists"; how the CIA tried to "orchestrate a call for a holy war against Communism"; how on August 19 "a journalist who was one of the agency's most important Iranian agents led a crowd toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh's foreign minister"; how American agents swung "security forces to the side of the demonstrators"; how the shah's disbanded "Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the street"; how by "10:15 there were pro-shah truckloads of military personnel at all main squares"; how the "pro-shah speakers went on the air, broadcasting the coups' success and reading royal decrees"; how at the US embassy, "CIA officers were elated, and Mr. Roosevelt got General Zahedi out of hiding" and found him a tank that "drove him to the radio station, where he spoke to the nation"; and, finally, how "Dr. Mossadegh and other government officials were rounded up, while officers supporting General Zahedi placed 'unknown supports of TP-Ajax' in command of all units of Tehran garrison."

"It was a day that should have never ended," Risen quotes Wilbur as saying, for "it carried with it such a sense of excitement, of satisfaction and of jubilation that it is doubtful whether any other can come up to it."

***

http://www.counterpunch.org/sasan08192003.html

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

suggesting that having helped Saddam would be a deal breaker and then saying, "I dunno" when asked about an alternative.

i didn't say anything about our support of saddam being a deal breaker. as far as an "alternative" i expressed support for something that might resemble the 2003 offer from iran (which condi claims to have missed). your response to that, iirc, was" i know you are, but what am i?"

Posted by: benjoya on February 22, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you feel that way?

Iran would've given up it's nukes. We would guarantee their borders and they wouldn't meddle. Who is going to complain about the Iranians helping us with AQ?

It seems to be in Iran's best interest at this time not to aid the US in Afghanistan, that's all. I really don't see what Iran has to gain by such an action..

Why not? Pakistan and Iran aren't best buddies. Pakistan is a disaster for Afghanistan and for us vis a vis AQ/Taliban. A counter weight would help us there.

Like covert operations haven't been happening in Afghanistan at all. What makes you think that covert operations initiated by Iran will work better than covert ops initiated by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Britain, the US, and others?

Pakistans ops are conducted against us, so I don't even know why you include them. Pakistan is the force behind the Taliban. The Taliban is Pakistan's proxy to controlling Afghanistan. And as far as the others, what have they done? The only thing we can go by is that AQ/Taliban is growing stronger. But does this mean that we're even conducting covert ops? Do we even have a man in AQ?

Gotta go, it's been fun. I'll look back later.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

On the one hand, it's suspicious that Iran makes peace overtures as the UN deadline for sanctions looms. It just looks like they are just playing for time while simultaneously trying to make the US look more belligerent.

On the other hand, why is President Bush willing to engage in unilateral war but not unilateral diplomacy? He conditions our diplomatic initiatives on UN compliance ("no talks until you comply with the UN"), but feels no such hesitation before ordering the troops to invade and the bombs to fall.

The UN is only useful when they agree with us, it would appear.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 22, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Horatio Parker on February 22, 2007 at 3:30 PM:

Iran would've given up it's nukes. We would guarantee their borders and they wouldn't meddle.

Which is about what they have right now, less having to give up its nonexistent nukes.

Who is going to complain about the Iranians helping us with AQ?

Israel, maybe.

A counter weight would help us there.

Again, what is in it for Iran? Extra shipments of the Baywatch DVD collection?

Pakistans ops are conducted against us, so I don't even know why you include them.

Cite, please. And remember that groups committing violent acts agains US troops in Pakistan does not mean the same thing as 'the Pakistani military is conducting ops against us'.

Wow. And here I thought Pakistan was an ally of the US:

Five years ago, Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. That all changed after September the 11th. President Musharraf understood that he had to make a fundamental choice for his people. He could turn a blind eye and leave his people hostage to terrorists, or he could join the free world in fighting the terrorists. President Musharraf made the right choice, and the United States of America is grateful for his leadership. ... Pakistan now has the opportunity to write a new chapter in its history, and the United States wants to build a broad and lasting strategic partnership with the people of Pakistan."
President George W. Bush, February 22, 2006

But I agree that Pakistan is using the US to strenghten itself militarily - advanced armaments, et cetera.

The Taliban is Pakistan's proxy to controlling Afghanistan.

Why do that when you can get the US to place your proxie in control for you and get non-NATO partner staus like Israel and South Korea, which allows you to bulk up your military with lots of cool gadgets?

And as far as the others, what have they done?

I have a relative in Afghanistan right now with the US military. He's doing something. The Brits are too...That's one of the reasons they are withdrawing from Iraq; to find success in Afghanistan, particularly in slowing down heroin production.

The only thing we can go by is that AQ/Taliban is growing stronger.

And we can examine the reasons why that's happening, as well.

But does this mean that we're even conducting covert ops?

Yes, I'm pretty sure the US is conducting several types of operations in Afghanistan.

Do we even have a man in AQ?

You're asking me? I don't have that information, and even if I did, I wouldn't pull a Cheney and leak it out, jeez.

Gotta go, it's been fun. I'll look back later.

Yes, it has. Thanks.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

al: Amanpour was played for a fool.


"These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th." - President Bush 10/11/2006

there's a february-30th?


is that from another signing statement?

Posted by: mr. irony on February 22, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

From the most recent personnel count on the DOD website, last updated 12.31.04:
The total strength of the military at that time was 1,711,916 including the National Guard & Coast Guard

From recent media reports, our current troop strength is about 500,000+. Even deducting for support personnel, seems like there is a lot of fat that could be trimmed from the military. Many of the troops are stationed elsewhere in the world or getting a needed break from the war. Some Army units are in their 3rd tour in Iraq, and National Guards units serving their 2nd. Military enlistments are poor now. Believe they will be much worse if this situation continues. Like Colin Powell said a few months ago, "The Army is broken."

The point? Bush has no choice but to negotiate. To the guy who said Iran would not cooperate with the US, you forget they openly supplied us with intelligence & used their troops to close their border with Afghanistan after 9/11. This was in spite our our differences regarding the nuclear issue or Muslim opinion of their actions

Talking with them doesn't mean capitulation, nor that an agreement will be reached. We do have common interests & exploring them seems like a good idea. A possible split with Syria & Hezbollah has been discussed between them & Prince Bandar (the former Saudi Ambassador to the US).

I realize the die hard neocons will rip me up over the idea, but it is worth a try. Considering we are losing in Iraq & Afghanistan, even Big Oil would rather have half a loaf than none at all.

Posted by: rbch1944 on February 22, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

rbch1944 on February 22, 2007 at 5:49 PM:

To the guy who said Iran would not cooperate with the US, you forget they openly supplied us with intelligence & used their troops to close their border with Afghanistan after 9/11.

Nope. I just said that I don't know what incentive Iran has to cooperate with the US. Particularly now.

During the time that you mention, the US wasn't as antagonistic towards Iran as it is currently.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"State sponsor of terrorism" means "Doesn't kiss Israeli ass", and is so designated by the State Department.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 22, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

We certainly need an alternative to another war!

From an article by David Suwanson on alternet--
"The collection of Iran War Lies is starting to catch up with the endless list of Iraq War Lies.

But let's keep one thing in mind as we demand a thorough investigation of both sets of lies -- lies made by the same set of people: In neither case, even if every single claim were 100 percent true and accurate, would there have been established a legal case for war. If a nation's possession of WMDs were grounds for launching a war against it, the United States would be subject to legal invasion immediately.

So, while debunking the fanciful claims of Bush, Cheney, and Gates may be entertaining, we may actually do more good if we brush them aside and point out that it does not matter whether their claims are true or not. Aiding a nation in repelling a foreign occupation is not grounds for war. The U.S. still brags about having done this in France 60 years ago. If Iran were doing it in Iraq now, which no evidence yet suggests, the crime would lie in the foreign invaders' refusal to leave, not in the aide supplied by the Iranians."

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 22, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bushites had the best possible reason (in their twisted world) to reject overtures from Iran: That's what Clinton would have done/did. Their spite is just that simple, that stupid, and that destructive. Some of them have even been quoted admitting it.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 22, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if George would just look President Ahmadinejad in the eye, he'd be able to "get a sense of his soul," and things would be okay.

It worked with Putin.

Posted by: josef on February 22, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

With regard to Iran being a "state sponsor of terrorism," exactly what terrorist acts have they sponsored? I hear this accusation all the time but I have never heard of a concrete example of this terrorism. Leaving aside aid to Hezbollah, who most people in the world regard as freedom-fighters, where are the terrorist acts?

Posted by: RJ on February 24, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

One more time:

The Saudis were the brains, money and braun behind 9-11.

The Saudis put the Taliban in charge in Afghanistan, and are funding and supporting its return.

The Saudis are arming and financing the Sunnis killing Americans in Iraq.

The Sunnis are our enemy.

Iran had nothing to do with 9-11, except offering help to capture those responsible afterward.

Iran opposed and fought the Taliban from the beginning, and offered to help us in Afghanistan.

The Iranians are working hard to prop up our Shia allies in the Iraqi government.

The Iranian mullahs may be fanatics, but they are secular humanists compared to the nutzoids who run Saudi Arabia.

The Iranians have repeatedly shown the potential and willingness to be our allies.

80 years of alliance with Saudi Arabia has gotten us nothing but grief.

Refusing alliance with Iran - and pulling stupid stunts like deposing Mosadegh - has caused us nothing but grief.

See a pattern here?

Oh! Almost forgot. The ones who have their hands 30 inches up the Usurper's rectum are not the Iranians.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on February 25, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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