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Ear to the Ground

Iran Warms to Obama Overtures

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Posted on Apr 8, 2009
Flickr / Daniella Zalcman

“The Iranian people would welcome a hand extended to it if the hand is truly based on honesty,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday. The “hand” has so far come in the form of a New Year’s message from President Obama, a surprise direct diplomatic contact and a commitment from the U.S. to re-engage in multilateral talks.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, warned Israel’s hawkish new prime minister not to attack Iran.

New York Times:

Mr. Obama said in a message late last month that he wanted better ties with Iran and offered a new start in relations. Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties in 1979 after students attacked the American Embassy in Tehran and took its diplomats hostage.

“The Iranian people would welcome a hand extended to it if the hand is truly based on honesty,” said Mr. Ahmadinejad in a speech in Isfahan on Wednesday, the Fars news agency reported.

“Yet, if it has an honest appearance but is dishonest by nature, the Iranian people would give the same response that it gave to George Bush. Therefore the change should be in action, not in words.”

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By Inherit The Wind, April 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Ed Harges, April 13 at 6:53 pm #

ITW, I know you need to have the last word, and so be my guest. But whatever you write, be advised that I have not read your latest post, because I have, as so often happens, lost all patience with your willful obtuseness.
******************************************

Then how do you know it’s obtuse?

More importantly, I accept your concession that you cannot get around my argument and are using this ploy as an artifice to attempt to save whatever face you have left.

Remember EH: Never let facts get in the way of YOUR “truth”!

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By Ed Harges, April 13, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

ITW, I know you need to have the last word, and so be my guest. But whatever you write, be advised that I have not read your latest post, because I have, as so often happens, lost all patience with your willful obtuseness.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 12, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

Ed,

Go back to our fantasy world—Do you ever even QUESTION your absurd assertion?

Here it is: The MOST powerful nation in the world, and, in nominal, not relative terms, the most powerful nation EVER, subjects and sacrifices its national security and safety, its MOST VITAL ASSIGNMENT AND RESPONSIBILITY TO ITS PEOPLE to a small, relatively unpowerful, unpopular nation with very different national security interests.

Why, according to you?  For fear of being labeled “anti-semitic”!

Yet again, your fundamental premise isn’t just absurd, it’ LAUGHABLE!

Why do I waste time arguing with such nonsense?  Because I ALMOST believed you might actually be rational.  But with this assertion by you, I’m convinced you are not rational, nor capable of close reasoning.

Go back to looking for “Zionists” under your bed and in your garage!  Watch out! They may be in your basement! Or worse, living in your next-door neighbor’s house!

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By Ed Harges, April 12, 2009 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

Ross of course formally does answer to those with nominally higher rank. But Israel and its lobby (of which AIPAC is only one of many components) are effectively in charge of Obama and Clinton, and Ross is Israel’s man. The Obama administration does what it wants, as long as it’s what Israel wants. This is easiest to see when, as occasionally happens,  the Obama administration steps out of line, and is then cudgeled by the Israel-firsters for it. A recent example: Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair appointed to a top intelligence post the eminently qualified Charles Freeman, who was then was forced out by all the usual pro-Israel suspects because of his views on Israel.

As for how Israel maintains its decisive influence over our foreign policy (though of course it doesn’t get its way on every single matter every single time), the matter is much more complex than financial contributions to political campaigns or other similar examples of corrupting influence.

But this influence is huge, and is based mostly on the fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is the scarlet letter in American culture, and Israel’s critics have arrogated to themselves the right to define it.  The Israel lobby’s power is greatly multiplied far beyond mere financial clout by the fact that American Jews - who are disproportionately powerful in the most prestigious professions - typically consider it inherently anti-Semitic even to mention this lobby. You can do a lot of mischief in broad daylight if people are afraid even to say that you exist. This is the main source of Israel’s immense leverage.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 11, 2009 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

EH:

Your two fundamental premises are absurd.
1) Ross is put in charge of US relations with Iran and has not got to answer to either Clinton or Obama.
2) Our nation is in thrall to a much weaker, much poor, much smaller nation because of…AIPAC? Donations to political campaigns? Key placement in corporations and government?

It all falls out.  You can’t have all the banks and corporations running the Government which is the contention of the reason for the bailouts, and run by Israel at the same time BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE SAME PEOPLE!

Unless YOUR contention is the old libel that all the banks are run by Jews….And they are not.  The leaders of the banks and trading houses are most definitely NOT run by Jews. 

Paulsen is not a Jew, and he used HIS power given him by Botch, to protect his firm, Goldman, Sachs—not a Jewish firm, and to destroy his enemy: Lehman Bros, also NOT a Jewish firm.  LOOK at who was bailed out and is still being bailed out.

Your basic premises are not valid, and all of your conclusions therefore can be rejected.  There is no more logical reason for Israel to strike Iran than there is for Iran to strike Israel.  Only a fear and panic induced in these NATURAL allies could have led to this:

Figure out WHO would want Israel and Iran at each others’ throats and you’ll see the source of their fear and enmity.

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By Ed Harges, April 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

re: By Inherit The Wind, April 11 at 3:44 pm:

ITW writes:

“You gotta ask yourself..Who sets policy for the State Department: Ross or Clinton?  Ross or President Obama.”

ITW, putting Ross on the Iran desk (while yanking Charles Freeman off his intelligence assignment) is already major policy-making reflecting decisive Israeli clout. And in fact, Ross’s influence is utterly overbearing, “an empire” within the State Department, as Dreyfuss makes clear in the article which you evidently refuse to read.

Dreyfuss writes:

“When Dennis Ross, a hawkish, pro-Israel adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, was elevated in February to the post of special adviser on “the Gulf and Southwest Asia”—i.e., Iran—Ross’s critics hoped that his influence would be marginal….

“But diplomats and Middle East watchers hoping Ross would be sidelined are wrong. He is building an empire at the State Department….

“The Iran portfolio is his, says an insider. “Everything we’ve seen indicates that Ross has completely taken over the issue,” says a key Iran specialist. “He’s acting as if he’s the guy. Wherever you go at State, they tell you, ‘You’ve gotta go through Dennis.’”

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090427/dreyfuss

Look, ITW, Ross is totally running the show and dragging us toward war with Iran, and that is because everyone in Washington is afraid of Israel’s political power, and because the Israelis - including your imaginary “good guy” Israelis like Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak - want such a war. First choice, they want us to do it all for them; but second choice, they will start it themselves, knowing that their friends in DC will then force us to join in, to defend our so-called ally.

I know that you, ITW, don’t want such a war, but you can’t keep pretending that the Israelis - and not just the Netan-yahoos - share your wisdom. The Israelis want this war, and they have a hell of a lot of power. I don’t think they’d be above getting rid of Obama somehow if it became clear that he won’t go along with it. I don’t think Obama really wants such a war either, but I’m sure he also wants to survive, politically and physically.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 11, 2009 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

Ed Harges—You gotta ask yourself..Who sets policy for the State Department: Ross or Clinton?  Ross or President Obama.

The dog wags the tail, the tail doesn’t wag the dog.

And please, SPARE ME all your dire conspiracy plots that have Barack Obama as a puppet with shadow-meister’s arm up his butt fisting him to do whatever “they” want.

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By Ed Harges, April 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment

ITW, if you won’t listen to me, perhaps you’ll listen to Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation (or is that publication also “anti-Semitic”? Is there nothing left in the world that isn’t anti-Semitic with the exception of puppies, rainbows, and you?):

Like virtually all of his neoconservative confreres, Ross does not argue that negotiations with Iran should not proceed. Surrendering to the inevitability of a US-Iran dialogue, they insist instead that any such talks proceed according to a strict time limit, measured in weeks or, at most, a few months. In November, Iran specialist Patrick Clawson, Ross’s colleague at WINEP, described any US-Iran dialogue that might emerge as mere theater. “What we’ve got to do is…show the world that we’re doing a heck of a lot to try and engage the Iranians,” he said. “Our principal target with these offers [to Iran] is not Iran. Our principal target with these offers is, in fact, American public opinion [and] world public opinion.” Once that’s done, he implied, the United States would have to take out its big stick.

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090427/dreyfuss

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By Inherit The Wind, April 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

“Nothing has ‘moved on’.” 

Of course not. Because you have declared it has not therefore it cannot. You know all, see all, understand all.  But I searched and I just can’t find the name Ed Harges in the State Department or in any fact-finding or decision-making role.

We’ve had 8 years of blinders-on, right-wing ideologues messing up our foreign relations.  I don’t want to see them replaced with what YOU want: Blinders-on, left-wing ideologues who FURTHER mess up our foreign relations.

But that’s how ideologues like you function. Doesn’t matter if you’re “progressive” or “reactionary”—the method’s the same—no different than Jesse Helms blocking career diplomats their appointments and demanding a Re-Thuglican businessman be sent instead.

I’d thank God the adults are finally back in charge but I’m Agnostic…

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By Ed Harges, April 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

re: By Inherit The Wind, April 10 at 3:22 pm:

No, ITW. Nothing has “moved on”. A shallow pantomime is underway that cannot be taken seriously as a true shift in policy.

And the Obama administration has certainly not told Israel not to attack Iran, as you claim.

The signals are quite mixed. Biden has made a statement that at most frowns on the idea as non-optimal. But Biden’s comments leave plenty of room for deniability. After all, even Israel claims that it would rather not attack Iran unless becomes “necessary”.

More importantly, Biden does not question any of the Israeli bull-crap dogma and phony “intelligence” that justifies such an attack as even remotely necessary or desirable under any circumstances whatsoever.

Biden does not question the false Israeli claims of an “existential threat”; he does not put the lie to Israel’s wildly exaggerated claims of how soon Iran may acquire a nuclear arsenal, nor to the claims of Iranian threats to physically destroy Israel. He does not point out that in enriching uranium Iran is violating no treaty obligations whatsoever and is merely doing what it has every right to do; he does not mention that speculation about some other, secret Iranian nuclear program (other than the one that’s completely under the watchful eye of the IAEA and is not doing any weapons development whatsoever) is based on nothing at all in the way of evidence and therefore must be considered insultingly stupid and manipulative propaganda beneath consideration.

Not only that, but General Petraeus has been allowed to speak approvingly and very recently of a possible imminent Israeli attack on Iran, without being directly contradicted or reprimanded in any way by Biden or anyone else in our Israeli-occupied Obama administration.

Furthermore, Dennis Ross, the completely ethnocentric, bigoted Zionist hack who made sure that Clinton’s negotiations with Arafat went nowhere, and then made sure that the breakdown was falsely pinned on the Palestinians, has been put in charge of the Iran desk at State, AIPAC’s wettest dream, and Ross has made it clear that he favors negotiations with Iran only because it makes the best prelude to bombing Iran.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Same old, same old. I guess you are NOT paying attention.

And while you’re off and ranting, EH, Iran and the US are finally talking and Biden’s telling the Israelis they better keep it in their pants regarding Iran.

Things are moving while you’re stuck in the same old rut.

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By Ed Harges, April 10, 2009 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

re: By Inherit The Wind, April 10 at 12:41 pm:

ITW continues to subscribe (and I will insult him by allowing that he may be perfectly sincere - his demonstrated intellectual abilities do not suggest that sincerity would be impossible) to the inane notion that somehow Israel’s virulent and mendacious determination to gin up a war against Iran is somehow ascribable only to the “bad apples” like Netanyahu.

Listen, ITW, when it comes to the government of Israel and fomenting war against Iran, there have been nothing but the baddest, most rotten apples in charge of the Holy state for more than a decade — from Peres and Barak on the left to Bibi on the right.

There are no Israeli “good guys” out there. Israeli “liberals” and Likudniks have been making us eat this propaganda poop and smile and ask for more since at least 1992.

This is how Roger Cohen summarizes it in a NY Times op-ed:

[Cohen begins with this mystery quote:] “Iran is the center of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is in my view more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb, whereas the Iranians are trying to perfect a nuclear option.”

Benjamin Netanyahu 2009? Try again. These words were in fact uttered by another Israeli prime minister (and now Israeli president), Shimon Peres, in 1996. Four years earlier, in 1992, he’d predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.

You can’t accuse the Israelis of not crying wolf. Ehud Barak, now defense minister, said in 1996 that Iran would be producing nuclear weapons by 2004.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html?_r=3&ref=global

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By WriterOnTheStorm, April 10, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Ahmadinejad, the media’s favorite scapegoat-cum-bogeyman, has once again pinned the tail on the American donkey. Because honesty is probably the last thing this, or any other administration can offer to the people of the Middle East region. The NYT, which treats Iranian leadership as little more than a rhetorical dartboard, is the champion of the manipulative, underhanded, venal, and somewhat racists methods brought to bear against a country whose move toward communist Russia and radical Islam was largely fomented by the myopic actions American leaders since the 1950’s.

While Sideshow Makmoud and the fake nuclear threat distract, the true interests of the apparatus continue to be served. Avaricious dictators disguised as monarchs hold on to power with American weaponry and assistance in exchange for oil. Colonial fanatics disguised as allies subject indigenous peoples to cruelties of biblical proportions.

When an American leader can admit these things publicly, we might stand a chance of turning a new page. Until then, sit back and watch the atrocity exhibition. I recommend the view from the outlier’s camp.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 10, 2009 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

EH:
Haven’t you been paying attention? Or are you so wrapped-up in your anti-semitic and anti-Israeli rants you can’t see straight?
Joe Biden told them EXACTLY THAT.

Nor would I EVER claim that the What-a-Yahoo gang is the best and brightest ANYTHING.  They need to be handled with an iron fist in a velvet glove. 

In a way it’s an opportunity…Obama can be a lot more forceful and forthright in stopping them from being the jingoistic pricks they are without having to be so careful. Most( but unfortunately not all) American Jews detest Likud so he won’t get much flack from them for pounding on them to stay with the 2-state plan.

I could tell them—all they gotta do is read my posts here at TD.  Think you can get them to do that?  I think a LOT of Israeli policy would be a hell of a lot more sensible and a lot closer to real peace if they’d listen to Sepharad and me.

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By Ed Harges, April 10, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

re: By Inherit The Wind, April 9 at 9:28 pm:

ITW, it doesn’t much matter if Iran and Israel “naturally” ought to be allies. The Israelis - at least those who run the Israeli government and its Washington lobbying apparatus - clearly believe otherwise.

Please don’t explain to us, ITW, why it would be insane for Israel to attack Iran - even if Iran refuses to stop enriching uranium (which it has a perfect right to do under the NPT treaty). We get that. Rather, please explain it to Israel’s policy makers and lobbyists, because they clearly don’t understand it. And until they get it, our Congress will continue to act as though a war against Iran over this is a sane option.

Maybe the best and brightest of the Chosen State are not as good and bright as one might suppose?

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By Inherit The Wind, April 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

I TOLD everyone here at least a year ago that our enmity toward Iran was unnatural and that President Botch had spoiled a perfectly fantastic chance for rapprochement.  Notice that Biden is simultaneously warning the Whata-Yahoo fanatics that Israel had better not be planning an attack on Iran.

To my mind, Israel attacking Iran is even crazier and stupider than Iran attacking Israel—which would be pretty f***in’ stupid and crazy—nukes or not.

I keep telling you that Iran’s NATURAL allies are the US and Israel, REGARDLESS of what the government of Iran is.

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By JFoster2k, April 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

The bottom line is that labeling a nation as “Evil” and refusing to engage in any form of diplomacy does not engender warm & fuzzy feelings toward us.

Whether or not anything comes of this initial overture is yet to be seen, but it is certainly more promising than posturing and name-calling.

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By Anthony, April 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Two articles worth reading on the whole Iran nuke issue. One is from Roger Cohen of NYT titled: “Israel cries wolf” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html?_r=1&ref=global

Another one from Huffpost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trita-parsi/netanyahu-and-threat-of-b_b_183822.html

Netanyahu and Threat of Bombing Iran—The Bluff that Never Stops Giving?

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By Ed Harges, April 9, 2009 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Don’t get too excited about this. Obama has put ultra-Zionist hack Dennis Ross in charge of Iran policy. Dennis Ross has made it clear from his writings that he favors direct talks with Iran, but only as a way of legitimizing military action against Iran by the US (solely for Israel’s interests of course).

In any talks with Iran, the US must (in Ross’s view) insist on conditions that neither Iran nor any other self-respecting sovereign nation would agree to. Ross fully expects Iran to refuse, so that it can then be blamed and bombed to smithereens.

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By grumpynyker, April 9, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I suggest that Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs step up their nuclear program so the country can get US/Israel off their ass.  Doubt that Iran would waste their hard earned nuke on Israel;  just increase the missiles on the illegal colonies on Palestinian land.  Join forces with Lebanon and Syria if necessary.

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By Purple Girl, April 9, 2009 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

El Presidenta, worried about the next election? Ahmedi’s got to be worried his people are as sick of saber rattling as the American People are.sick of the ‘Evil empire’ as we were with ‘Axis of Evil’.
He’s no different than Bush- stoking the fires of conflict for self adulations and Profits. People are not only sick of hearing them Cry Wolf- we’ve become jaded by the oversatiation of the empty rhetoric. Notice the Repugs cries about Iran have lost their fervor? Because they are seeing it gets no real reaction- Yawn Stretch, next channel.
for Americans it’s even less effective when we are far more fearful of the whacked out sociopath living down the street.Let’s be honest 9/11 was devasting because of it’s sheer numbers killed all at once. But our ‘homegrown’ terrorists have accumulated a higher body count over the last 3 decades.9/11 attacks were on institutions (MIC)- the people were collateral. Those fellow citizens target People directly- individuals and Groups, with the buildings or institutions being of secondary consideration - if at all.
I am far less concerned about some psycho hanging out in the mountains of Afghanistan, then I am about the guy standing behind me at McDonalds

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By SteveK9, April 9, 2009 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

After 9/11 Bush could have normalized relations with Iran.  Then he declared them part of the axis of evil and invaded Iraq.  Not a surprise that Iran decided it had better develop a nuclear weapon.  I have never believed that Iran’s nuclear program was aimed at Israel (although the missile would be).  The policy is aimed at deterring a US invasion.  Why would Iran attack Israel with nuclear weapons short of a US invasion (probably not even then)?  Israel has ~ 150 nuclear warheads and such an attack would be suicide.

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By AFriend, April 9, 2009 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

I fail to see how this displays a warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Words spoken for public consumption are meaningless. Made even more meaningless coming from President Ahmadinejad.

——

Spiritgirl,

The U.S. is not crumbling. The U.S. is in it’s infancy.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

By Spiritgirl, April 8 at 7:00 pm #

“Frankly, I believe that the US should have had more than enough of “IMPERIALISM”, and should really be more than ready to reach out a hand of friendship!  Because lets face it the American empire is crumbling - fast, and America needs to be less willing to fight first ask questions later!”
===============================================
I agree with you, Spiritgirl, and particularly where you say that the “American empire is crumbling- fast, and America needs to be less willing to fight first and ask questions later.”

Of course, it would be more meaningful and dignifying that America now is motivated by a new vision of ethics, principles and practicality in reaching out especially to imagined and artificially-created enemies like Iran. However, if this new approach is motivated by the declining fortunes of the empire, though it’s less dignifying, it’s nevertheless a welcomed development that might bring about a much desired measure of world peace and harmony among the nations of the world.

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By Spiritgirl, April 8, 2009 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

“Yet, if it has an honest appearance but is dishonest by nature, the Iranian people would give the same response that it gave to George Bush.”

Frankly, I believe that the US should have had more than enough of “IMPERIALISM”, and should really be more than ready to reach out a hand of friendship!  Because lets face it the American empire is crumbling - fast, and America needs to be less willing to fight first ask questions later!

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