Opinion

The Great Debate

Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

By
May 7, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

So what’s so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.

That simplistic solution to one of the most complex problems of the Middle East was part of a keynote speech greeted with thunderous applause by 6,000 delegates to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The speaker: Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

In the fourth month of the administration of President Barack Obama, who favors talking to America’s adversaries rather than ousting them, the Gingrich prescription sounded like a throwback to the days when neo-conservatives predicted that the U.S. troops invading Iraq would be pelted with flowers and sweets. Wishful thinking at its finest.

But in panel discussions and forums at AIPAC, one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States, the idea of sharply tightened sanctions had plenty of proponents. The preferred lever: cutting off gasoline supplies to Iran, which relies on imports for around 40% of its domestic consumption.

On the final day of the conference this week, several thousand AIPAC activists converged on Congress to press their representatives for passage of pending legislation to sanction companies that sell, ship, finance or insure gasoline exports to Iran. Firms that continued dealing with Iran would be banned from doing business with the U.S.

Would an additional layer to a stack of sanctions imposed since 1995 get the Iranians to drop what the West insists is work toward a nuclear bomb? There is no reason to believe it would. There is every reason to believe more sanctions would inflict hardship on the Iranian people.

“With all the economic pain sanctions have imposed on the Iranian economy, there has not been a single instance in which that pain has translated into a desirable change in the Iranian government’s policies,” Trita Parsi, the president of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, told a congressional hearing last month. “The Iranian people have suffered the brunt of the economic pressures.”

A MATTER OF NATIONAL PRIDE

That tends to be the case with most sanctions that seek to change a government’s behavior or its ouster. A case in point closer to Washington than Tehran — Cuba. Almost five decades of U.S. economic sanctions have failed to bring down Fidel Castro or the brother who succeeded him.

Iran introduced gasoline rationing in June, 2007, a move that sparked riots in Tehran, with angry citizens setting ablaze gasoline stations. It was one of the most visible demonstrations of anger against the Iranian government since President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad took office in 2005.

But by and large, say Trita and other Iran experts, a good deal of the people’s anger over economic duress is directed against the United States, more so because the nuclear program has become a matter of national pride. It enjoys such broad public support that no politician running for office would risk advocating its termination.

So it would be naïve to expect public Iranian concessions on the nuclear front before the June 12 presidential elections. Registration for candidates opened this week and Ahmedinejad is expected to run for another four-year term. His most serious challenger to have announced his candidacy so far is a moderate, Mirhossein Mousavi, who was prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.

When he campaigned for the presidency and announced he was prepared to open a dialogue with Iran, Barack Obama said he would do so without “self-defeating preconditions.” But he also spoke in favor of sanctions, including the idea of throttling gasoline supplies. Overall strategy is still a work in progress.

As far as “self-defeating preconditions” go, setting an August deadline for Iran to curb its nuclear program, as did Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman this week, must surely rank at the top of the list. It’s an either-or proposition which makes a mockery of the word diplomacy.

It remains to be seen whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on that timeline when he meets Obama in Washington on May 18. So far, they don’t seem to be of one mind on Iran, an absolute priority for Netanyahu, part of intertwined Middle East problems (including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) for Obama and his team.

Robert Satloff, head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israeli think tank, put it in stark terms at an AIPAC panel discussion when speakers were asked to predict the state of U.S.-Israeli relations in a year’s time: “I fear that if we and the Israelis are not totally on the same page from A to Z on this issue…next year we may be dealing with the most serious face-to-face disagreement in the 61 years of this relationship.”

Next year, if not before.

Comments
130 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Edward Blake,
Maybe you and I live in different worlds but North Korea and Iran are exactly zero threat to the U.S. You want to continue having 30-40% of your income taxed away to deal with your false fears of the world, that’s your choice, but there’s less and less people in this country following you here in 2009.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Let’s see. You live in a neighborhood and own its only gun. You also have a friend in a different neighborhood that owns more guns than anyone in ANY neighborhood and always backs your actions – right or wrong.

Yet you feel that no one in your neighborhood has the right to own, or even attempt to build a gun.

You also try to convince those in other neighborhoods that your arrangement, though unique among neighborhoods, must to be supported and maintained by all the world’s neighborhoods.

You deem those nations that don’t support your nation’s ‘unique’ position to be hateful of you.

Sound familiar? This is the scenario regarding Israel that AIPAC wants us to accept and maintain – at our expense – here in the U.S.

Why in the world do we continue to fall for such surrealism?

Posted by Petruccio | Report as abusive
 

Well by Mr. Ham’s logic we never should have fought in WW2 as the Nazi’s were no threat to us then either. I’d rather have my tax money spent on keeping nuclear weapons out of terrorists hands then pissed away on what the current regime wants to spend that money on. We’ll see how many people in this country want to spend on such wasteful things once we get attacked again. Perhaps then people will remember again that we are at war. Sadly a few years without an attack on our soil and we quickly go back to the idea that we are somehow safer by acting the doormat to the world. I’m not in favor of the cowboy go it alone preemption policies of the last regime, but I find playing the “humble” doormat to the world just as objectionable and just as dangerous. Don’t forget we were attacked before we started preempting, because we appeared weak.
It’s such a shame that we need regular tragedies to teach us that the world isn’t a nice place where everyone wants to get along. While wanting to talk doesn’t make you weak, it does give the appearance of weakness to those who understand nothing other than goonery and violence.
I still await the answers to where has diplomacy with thuggish despots has gotten anywhere and what alternatives there are to sanctions. All I see is more anti Israel screeds and America bashing.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

Anytime one state negotiates an agreement with another that is called diplomacy. Diplomacy is the “art of conducting relationships for gain without conflict. It is the chief instrument of foreign policy. Its methods include secret negotiation by accredited envoys (though political leaders also negotiate) and international agreements and laws. Its use predates recorded history. The goal of diplomacy is to further the state’s interests as dictated by geography, history, and economics. Safeguarding the state’s independence, security, and integrity is of prime importance; preserving the widest possible freedom of action for the state is nearly as important. Beyond that, diplomacy seeks maximum national advantage without using force and preferably without causing resentment.”
Mr. Blake if you want an example of where diplomacy has worked you need look further than the
Constitution of the Untied States. Diplomacy works most of the time. The examples you present are the few more difficult diplomatic situations of the current day. Rushing in with brut force does no more than what you have today in Iraq. Basically, war is a very costly mess in both life and wealth. You seem to think EU is not doing its far share on the Iran or Korean or Israel/Palestinian issues. Why would they? Israel is not their puppet. They had no beef with Iran or Korea. Unlike the US they do not go to war because an oil company can’t get their hands on another country’s oil fields. Why else would the US care about Iran? The US does not need one drop of Middle East Oil. There is plenty of oil in the US, Canada, Mexico, and South America that we could cut off the Middle east supply today and replace it in full with oil from the Americas. So what is keeping us there? What does the American Tax payer care about the Middle East? Why has US oil production dropped over the last 20 years? Did you know that only 17% of our oil consumption is from the Middle East? Did you know that our biggest oil importer is Canada? The only reason we are in the Middle East is because of the desire of Exxon to get its hands on Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi oil.
The reason why sanctions do not work is because the last to be effected are the Military and the political party in charge. All sanction do is anger the effected people. Not against their country but against those imposing the sanctions.
I do not think diplomacy will work either since, the real issues are not being made public and I see no reason for Iran to give Exxon “access” to their oil and gas fields nor do I seem them stopping their nuclear program.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive
 

So diplomacy works when in the simple cases. Let’s be real the EU isn’t doing anything anywhere. Where were they when Yugoslavia broke up in their own backyard? Yes it’s all about oil, yup you got it, what can I say once you ignore reality and go to the conspiracy theories and anti corporate hoopla you seem to love. I am no fan of MNC but they are not the devil behind all the world’s evils, but once you get into it with idealogues it’s pointless. Everything is some dire conspiracy of the Illuminati or Zionists or whatever particular bugbear they are railing against. I am not so foolish as to believe everything my government tells me, nor so gullible to believe what pampered leftists post on blogs either. You go about you life believing that crap and you’re just as bad as the jingoists who believe America is always right. The answer lies between the extremes, but that require thinking rather than regurgitating something you read on the internet.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

Lol, did I just read someone compare Hitler to the current Irani regime. Wow, our american, Rupert Murdochian fear machine media is working perfectly. To compare the Nazi gov’t and the Iranian gov’t takes a quality I don’t have I guess.

Great analogy by Petruccio, your post sums it up perfectly. There’s no gov’t in the world as hypocritical as ours here in the U.S. Our current gov’t is very very similar to the British lead government in the U.S. in the 1700′s. Crazy taxes on things that do us no good, our government in no way represents the desire of the people, and we all know how it ended that time when ppl got mad enough.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

LOL Did I see someone obviously completely miss what I was talking about? Oh yes I did. I certainly have a quality you lack it’s called perspective and objectivity. I’d explain what I was talking about but it’s clear most here aren’t interested in real debate but just want to spew the same invective at the same targets. Clearly the Iranian government, headed by a cabal of unelected theocrats ( religious fanatics can always be trusted to be rational actors) is a reliable source in the new world order where the West is always in the wrong. Good luck with that. I still await what to do, I know the Europeans hate the Jews, I mean where did those Israelis come from again. Nevermind, we forget the past unless it allows us to slander America.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

I think Mr. blake exposed who and what he really is. another one of those sad and depressed conservative americans who can’t play cowboy any more on the world stage. unfortunatelly people like him were “lassoed” up here in america. after 8 years of “playing” president, the GW bush act is up.our “european” president is only just starting to clean up the mess that you all left america and the world in.once again you sit at your computer, spewing the same “yippy cai yaaay” nonsense about “taking action” and “diplomacy is for wimps”. are you ready to see more coffins drapped with american flags??? cuz dick and george aren’t here anymore to tell the media to “not cover that” you ready to pay more taxes to launch another war?? you say where has diplomacy worked?? well see it shouldn’t matter whether we are using a war to not solve our issues or diplomacy, the point is, we are involved in conflicts we don’t need to be. some of these conflicts were there before america ever existed. do we really care about the israeli-palestine issue?? what benefit does israel provide america?? they are not a major trading parter, and they don’t have any resource we need. infact they are a burden because we have to send them money and aid and they have brought us into their conflicts. do we really care who runs the middle east, the sunni, the shias? saudia arabia? iran? who cares. let them fight it out, we’ll pay for what we need and let them decide their own fate. Thomas jefferson once said that our motto should be “commerce with all nations, alliance with none”. that includes israel, saudia arabia, pakistan, and anyone else who has been a thorn in our side for the last 20 years. i think its about time you get in touch with your own true american values.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive
 

Same old story, yes we get it you hate George Bush who doesn’t? But more to the point who cares? He’s no longer president, the anointed one is. I’ll type slowly, since you seem too dense to read what I said, where did I say diplomacy was for wimps? What I said is that in many place around the world, they feel that way. If you don’t believe that you are quite simply a fool. If the other side in a dispute thinks you are weak, where will talk get you? I still await an answer to where diplomacy has solved an issue with a regime like that in Tehran.
It’s amazing that if you don’t agree with the messiah and think America needs to debase itself in order to make up for Bush you are some kind of angry conservative. Wrong, I’m just not a head in the clouds , let’s all get together and sing Kumbayah ivory tower intellectual liberal dreamer. I don’t live in textbooks or the fantasy world where talking solves everything, even with people who only use talk to keep you busy until they get what they want.
I’d love to have a real honest relationship with the Iranian people, but the mullahs will never let that happen, how else can they stay in power with out the Great Satan to blame for their failings? It’s a shame that people can’t discuss this like adults, but I fear many of the posters are just barely adults and don’t understand enough of the real world. I was young once too and believed that the old fogies didn’t have a clue, then I grew up got a real education in the world, not out of books or listening to lectures or reading blogs. You will too and you’ll see, of course then you’ll be trying to rationalize to kids who think they know everything because they read it on the internet. I’m not angry, more sad that these things never change.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

“Lol, did I just read someone compare Hitler to the current Irani regime. Wow, our american (sic! – A.), Rupert Murdochian fear machine media is working perfectly. To compare the Nazi gov’t and the Iranian gov’t takes a quality I don’t have I guess.” – Posted by Michael Ham
____________________________________

Well, you definitely don’t have that little something that allows humans to see the facts as they are, and think based on these facts, not Obama/Ron Paul/Whatever smooth talker’s propaganda. Murdoch, unlike you, does have it, maybe that’s why he’s at the top of Forbes list, and you are not.
But let me try and educate you. You don’t see the similarities between Ahmadinejad and Hitler, do you? Let’s count.
1. Hitler was pathological Anti-Semite. Ahmadinejad is, too. He’s on record advocating “wiping Israel off the map” – many times over.
2. Hitler was ideology driven. Ahmadinejad is, too. Take Quran, replace “Muslim” with “Aryan” – you’ll get Mein Kampf. For Hitler, any one who was not pure blood Aryan was untermensch (sub-human, in case you don’t know German). Islam treats infidels the same.
3. Hitler aimed for world dominance. Iran is too small and weak for that – just yet, but already aims at regional dominance.
4. Hitler was trying to get his hands on wunderwaffe (wonder weapon) until his very last days. V2 rocket, Me262 jet, Maus superheavy tank – just a short list of candidates to that role. According to some historians, Hitler was at some point only a few months away from building nukes, before Allied bombing and Red Army advance put paid to his plans. Doesn’t Ahmadinejad’s persistence in making nukes look similar?

And just FYI, the word “American” is supposed to begin with capital A. Was it mistype or sign of disrespect?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

To all who say Israel must this, Israel can’t that, Israel should be made to whatever, pressed not to whatever else…
Israel is a sovereign state, not a banana republic. As any sovereign nation, Israel has the right to take whatever measures they see fit to ensure survival and security of the nation. Whoever dislikes it can stick their dislikes up their rear end, including BHO.
Israel will not sell out their land and their security because if they do, it will turn into liquidation sale – isn’t that the dream of Ahmadinejad, ben Laden, and Hitler? The 2 state solution, as outlined in Arab Initiative, looks very much like the final solution outlined in Wannsee.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Iran claims it has a peaceful nuclear industry.

Logically, this would mean that their facilities are open to investigation by the UN.

So why is Iran building further secret facilities, designed to resist military attack?

If their facilities have nothing to hide, then the UN should be able to investigate fully. And Israel will have no cause to attack them.

Oh well. There are two ways this will end:

1. Iran is destroyed in a month, much like Iraq was, without any chance to fight back. And this time, America will just let it lie there beaten, rather then occupy it.

2. Iran gets a bomb, and the UN security council is proven irrelevent in modern politics.

Trust me. The world will pick option 1. Option 2 is too dire to think about.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

The thing I’ve never been able to figure out is just what does the American tax payer get back from their open-ended blank-check? Does it get a voice on the issues, or are the voices supplied for them? As for Mr Anonymous’ assertion that Israel is a sovereign nation, why do they need so much “aid” and support from America? They look more like an apartheid regime to me.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

Israel doesn’t intend to use nuclear weapons against Iran. Attaching the precondition that Israel get rid of nuclear weapons in order to get Iran to stop pursuing them is nonsense. If a nuclear balance were needed, that need would have manifested itself by now.

You can’t side with tyrants just because they’re comparatively less powerful. These are the people who have killed Americans and Israelis under no pretense of self-defense.

Posted by Chris Rudolph | Report as abusive
 

I think there’s a very serious problem with Israel’s policies. On the one hand, the country receives billions of dollars in aid from the United States. On the other, Israel has nearly half a million settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a large number of nuclear weapons.

I have two questions for those who say that we should apply more sanctions to Iran and follow Israel’s objectives in this respect. First, how on earth can we expect Iranians or Iranian politicians to support denuclearization, when Israel clearly has a massive military superiority, due in large part to their undeclared possession of nuclear weapons, a situation which no major American or European politician has taken any steps to change? There are clearly double standards at play here, especially given that Israel, which isn’t a signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, has a large number of nuclear weapons, while for Iran, which is a signatory, there is absolutely no credible evidence that they’re in the process of developing nuclear weapons.

Second, more fundamentally, how is it that the U.S. government can continue to give billions of dollars in aid to Israel, while the latter takes no steps whatsoever to decrease its nearly half-million settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while trying to divert everyone’s attention to the “Persian threat”? I mean to ask this question not as a moral one, but as a strategic one. How could Americans possibly think that waging economic warfare on Iran and bankrolling Israeli settlements is going to further U.S. interests? It seems to me totally ludicrous.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

Israel is not an Apartheid regime.

Such a term is based on an error of logic. It proposes that the Jewish minority are ruling over a nation in which there is a Palestinian majority.

This is not true. Because Israel exists as a separate nation, in borders it has defined. In Israel, the Israeli’s are the majority.

The reality is that “Palestine” does not exist as a nation and has not for decades. Part of it is now Israel. The other parts are Gaza and West Bank.

The pretense that Israel is on occupied land is not relevent. Nobody cares. Least of all the UN.

The only reason Gaza is still considered occupied is because the UN does not recognise Hamas. It is considered “occupied” for political convenience.

There is only one truth. There is Israel, there is Gaza and there is West Bank. There is no apartheid.

Posted by Insert meaningful name here | Report as abusive
 

To Mr. Bernd Debusmann:

Most commentaries regarding Israel and Iran will always be lacking in maturity. Anyone seriously wishing to sort out the reasonable from the trash has their work cut out for them: there is nothing worthy of salvage. I speak not about your commentary on the current Iran nuclear ambitions, but about the people leaving commentaries who find your words to be an excuse to copy and paste their worthless rhetoric.

Posted by SG | Report as abusive
 

Dear, dear, “Insert meaningful name here” seems to have a poor knowledge of the meaning of apartheid appearing here. My understanding of the word, and the meaning in the Oxford dictionary is “noun: the official system of segregation or discrimination on racial grounds formerly in force in South Africa.” (I’d also include religious next to racial… a wee addition would would also put a lot of other Middle-Eastern regimes into the same basket[-case].)
As for assertions that nobody cares, and the UN doesn’t care that it’s compounds, hospitals and schools were recently bombed, is I would suggest quite simply wrong, although I can only speak for myself as I’m not in a position to speak for “everybody/nobody”.
To me the Israelis are a very clever, creative and country packed with good potential, being run by paranoid zealots who fear the seeds they have sown.
Perhaps you’d be good enough to explain what the American tax-payers’ get from their no-questions-allowed, seemingly bottomless blank-check policy?

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

It seems to me that the number of U.S. politicians that AIPAC has bought should lead to an investigation of treason for said politicians. I don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons nor Israel. I absolutely do not see what entitles Israel to nuclear weapons. Iran hasnt been invading other countries, Israel has, Iran doesn’t bomb red cross trucks, Israel does, Iran doesn’t bomb U.N. refugee camps, Israel does. The Likud party has a motto “The only good Arab is a dead Arab.” Apparently it applies to pretty much every non-Jew, they have even attacked American ships in the past. Best case scenario we just turn the middle east into a giant glass bowl, then insert pipes to suck out the oil.

 

The definition of the word is to an “official system of segregation or discrimination on racial (or other) grounds”.

In this case, the Palestinians cannot be considered to be segregated. This is because Gaza and the West Bank are separate regions from Israel.

The segregation argument is based on the Arab belief in a one-state solution. They believe that Gaza, Israel and West Bank are parts of a single Palestinian territory.

The mistake is that this treats the Arab-Israel war as a war of colonization, when it was actually a war of political independence.

To argue that the Palestinians are segregated from Israel is like arguing that the French are segregated from the English.

In the sense that “nobody cares”, I mean from that perspective. The existance of Israel as a sovereign separate nation is settled by the UN.

Regarding your “blank check” statement, the answer is simple. Israel can act with restraint as long as it maintains a qualitive advantage over their rivals.

While it is true that Israel receives military aid, other military goods are purchased by Israel as a customer. The nation does not exist on the single-handed sufference of America, as you seem to believe.

Posted by insert meaningful name here | Report as abusive
 

Thank you “Insert meaningful name here” for your response. It would seem our dictionaries are pretty nearly the same, probably just different editions. I am a bit uncertain about the “Israel can act with restraint as long as it maintains a qualitive advantage over their rivals” statement as it appears to me that there is a qualitive military advantage (on the Israeli side), and in the recent Gaza debacle (where the Hams’s morons displayed an appalling lack of concern for their “citizens” not to mention neighbours), I didn’t see much that was “restrained”.
The recent efforts by the AIPAC lobby to put Iran in to the cross-hairs also seems to me to illustrate an attempt to further minimise the possibility of peace in the region.
My wish for Israel and her neighbours is for one-year of uninterrupted peace. After one-year of uninterrupted peace, perhaps it might be possible to have another one afterwards, followed by many more. I suspect it will require brave concessions from both (or should that be many?) sides.
I would like to offer a link which I believe illustrates the problem of fanatics running any country, and one which also illustrates Israels potential. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/world/ middleeast/10jerusalem.html?pagewanted=2 &ref=global-home

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

I totally agree.

 

Well its seems there’s a lot more clowns in the van than you’d think, I always love that gag.

Let ME try to break it down and simplify for the board.

1.) Hitler killed 11 million people, Prez Ahmadinejad has said some one-liners neocons don’t like to hear, of which are normally twisted by their neocon talking head media puppets.

Well that’s it, end of the list, we understand?

The scariest thing is how you people have upmost faith in your political party in government, on both sides. Our foreign policy has been trash all 24 years I’ve been on the planet. Someday hopefully something will click in your children or grandchildrens minds that the republican and democratic parties are the EXACT SAME THING!!!!!!

Big bailouts- Republicans Check, Democrats Check

Big warmongering and nation building- Republicans check (mostly in Iraq), Democrats Check (mostly in Afghanistan)

Big taxes- Republicans check, Democrats check

Big welfare budgets- Republicans check, Democrats check

Blank check for the Drug war support-Republicans check, Democrats check

Open borders- Republicans check, Democrats check

Siding with monster foreign governments like Israel, Saudi Arabia, China, etc-Republicans check, Democrats check.

I love my country, and if any of you people do too you’ll stop siding with political parties who do nothing but tear it down and destroy it piece by piece.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Hi Peter H,

The following is the link to a piece by Rachel Shabi, an Iraqi Jew, which also illustrates Israel’s potential. She highlights some interesting facts that are often overlooked:

Israel, Land of Broken Promises

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/wo rld/middle_east/article6241582.ece

Posted by Nu'man El-Bakri | Report as abusive
 

So this means Mr Ham, that according to you the correct political party for America is:

1. Against banks and capitalism.
2. Isolationist.
3. Low taxation.
4. Against welfare.
5. Supporting drugs.
6. Closing the borders, and
7. One that actively wishes for America to stop being a superpower.

Forgive me, but this is unlikely to occur in America any time soon. Or in many other nations either.

But I wish you luck in finding one. Try Somalia.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Anon, wow, let’s start at the top.

1.) The bailouts are 100% anti-capitalistic, if a company can’t be supported by the free market it should fail. Ironically I work at a bank that received TARP funds and the whole thing was completely idiotic, banks should’ve either merged with good ones or just simply cut costs and changed strategies, again no bailout required.

2.) Isolationist politically sure, if that means better home security and of course I don’t want isolationist economics, I’m for limited gov’t and free markets.

3.) Low taxation yes, there we go, much better than having the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the world. Yet we get mad at companies for leaving for better tax rates (a capitalistic idea) and give the government a free pass, despite it being 100% their fault.

4.) Yes I’m against most non-medical welfare, but not for the reasons other people are. It creates generation(s) of people who would prefer to just get low gov’t checks and never advance themselves. The gov’t creates a feeling of dependence and never lets an enormous chunk of the country reach their full potential.

5.) I don’t support drugs, never done any illegal ones in my life. I support freedom of choice and people should be furious that americans don’t even have the choice of smoking something that grows in nature in the confines of their own house. It’s unforgiveable.

6.) Closing the borders no, protecting the borders. Currently our market can’t handle the rate of people coming in, if our tax policy were what it should be (10-15% corporate tax rate) than we could but that’s not reality.

7.) Which of my points of view makes us less of a superpower? I think having troops in 190 countries spreads us out and so thin that we can’t be a superpower. 8 years and we still haven’t defeated tiny afghanistan, anyone (including terrorists) can cross our borders without any problem, we have to beg communist china for money and we can’t even pull our own dead bodies while they float over one of our most historic cities weeks after the disaster.

I just get so let down and dissapointed when I read posts like Anon’s as he justifies how out of control the power, size and spending the U.S. government has become.

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both”-Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

I love how people bring out that Ben Franklin quote like it means anything in the modern world. Everyone gives up a certain amount of freedom for security, it’s obvious to anyone who has a grasp of the real world as opposed to the normative fantasy ideal world. It’s the same when Obama says some want to force us into a false choice between our values and security, it’s very clear that in the real world that isn’t a false choice. In a perfect world of course we wouldn’t need to make this choice, sadly we don’t live in a near perfect world.
I think it’s laughable that anyone would consider a nation run by a cabal of mullahs to be a rational actor, they believe some omnipotent omniscient god, who apparently is very concerned if we eat pork or how our women dress is the basis for laws. Sounds perfectly rational and reasonable to me, I mean why not let them have nuclear weapons, clearly they would be good stewards of them, unless God told them to use them or give them to one of their terrorist proxies. I mean it’s not like they have suicide bombers ( oh wait they apparently have a group of them as well as supporting proxies) or support terror organizations ( oh wait they do)….oh well since Israel has ‘em, let everyone have them.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

“Do not fear the man who has a hundred nuclear bombs. Fear the man who only wants one.”

Posted by Anon. | Report as abusive
 

That’s an interesting quote Anon, I’d be curious to know who made it. Interesting because the countries with most the nukes (U.S., Israel, Russia) are the ones who are quickest to use their military and start preemptive wars.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Michael Ham,
“1.) Hitler killed 11 million people, Prez Ahmadinejad has said some one-liners neocons don’t like to hear, of which are normally twisted by their neocon talking head media puppets.

Well that’s it, end of the list, we understand?” – Nope, just the beginning of the list. Here are additions and corrections.

Hitler killed many more than you think – only Soviet losses topped 20M. Check your facts. Wikipedia would be a good starting point.

“Some one-liners” by a mere clown should be treated as such. But if that clown is the head of a near-nuclear state, these one-liners are rightfully perceived as a credible threat.

There is no need to “twist” his one-liners, he said it in no equivocal terms, and he meant it. And that was reported not only by so hated by you “neocon” Fox, left of center Reuters and outright liberal CNN and BBC carried it, too. So there’s agreement across most of political specter. Which extreme outside of it you represent, left or right?

He didn’t just talk, he killed. The hangings in Iran compare only to Communist China and far exceed the notorious Texas death row, and applied not only to regime opponents, but to anyone who strays from their local brand of Islam. You can be hanged there for any reason, including sex outside of marriage, sexual orientation, or even a drink of alcohol. It’s not like “3 strikes you are out” long jail term for habitual criminals here in some states, it’s more like “3 drinks you are swinging”.

It would be only half that bad if he limited his murderous activities to internal affairs. Shia militias in Iraq, Hezbullah, and Hamas all are Iran proxies, and they do murder day in, day out. Road side bombs killing our servicemen (and scores of locals in addition) in Iraq are being manufactured in Iran. Hezbullah is armed and bankrolled by Iran. Hamas rockets – the most advanced ones they smuggle through the tunnels – made in Iran.

Ahmadinejad already killed as many as he could, and keeps doing so. The only reason he didn’t come close to Hitler’s tally is not his fault, it’s just that his killing capacities are limited. Hence his desire to get nukes – with these he’ll be many times over more capable to murder.

“…monster foreign governments like Israel, Saudi Arabia, China…” – you are lumping a democratic modern state with an absolute theocratic monarchy directly from Dark Ages, and a Communist dictatorship. What, in your opinion, makes Israeli government “monstrous”? Inefficient, bureocratic – maybe, but they don’t oppress their citizens, and don’t commit atrocities even close to the other 2. The last 2 compete each other and Iran in quantities of executions and apply capital punishment for economy and lifestyle transgressions. Israel, in all 61+ years of its being, executed only one man – Adolf Eichmann. Even the most notorious sadist of extermination camps Demjanjuk was let go because of a smidgen of doubt about his identity. While Saudis are among US “allies” (but only because of their oil reserves and OPEC influence), China was never considered one. It’s quite another matter that China is the largest holder of US debt – but you personally are at fault as much as any US consumer. Can you claim you never shopped at the likes of Walmart, and never bought Chinese made cr@p?

“Well its seems there’s a lot more clowns in the van than you’d think, I always love that gag.” – oh, you finally looked at the mirror?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

I forgot about that clown van comment, funny the lefty anti Israel crowd does need a van, the normal compact not sufficient to contain their numbers. I notice that Israel and America bashing are still all the rage. All those other regimes are just misunderstood and harmless, heaven forfend we actually trace terrorist funding back to a regime that is “standing up to America” is apparently wrong since some how Israel’s actions justify this.
I’m old enough to be used to this sad bitter nonsense from young liberals who don’t know better or old hippies who never learn. Not that the neo cons are right either, neither edge of the spectrum is right and they are often closer to each other, just blaming different culprits, than the realize.
I don’t expect to win converts today, but years from now much of the young crowd will realize that all this liberal guilt fades when you actually grow up and have to operate in the real world and are no longer discussing politics in the abstract drinking lattes on their parent’s dime. They won’t remember this, but they’ll know the same feeling when they read what the next generation is saying.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

Anonymous whether it’s 11 or 20 million people it changes nothing, so i’m not gonna waste time double-checking stats no one can be sure of.

I’m not defending Ahmadinejad in the slightest, just saying relating him and what he’s done to Hitler is enough for a mentally handicapped diagnosis. The only good thing about him is he’s not willing to let the West intimidate him and turn him into a puppet like we have so many other countries governments.

I don’t take one word CNN says about politics seriously, nor any of the Murdochian lies spread across Fox News/Sky News/New York Post.

No matter what Iran does, I can promise you the U.S. will be more quick to the trigger on killing muslims in some region and Israel with regards to Palestine. Like every other unbiased poster has said it’s 100% hypocritical for us to say who can have nukes when we have them and let our buddies have them.

This doesn’t surprise me, republican party-line voters like Edward Blake and anonymous will always side with whatever lies the gov’t spits them with regard to foreign policy and with regard to anything a republicans hands touch. Same thing democratic party line voters are doing now with Obama, he’s a replica of Bush but they still support everything he does.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

So Reuters is the only valid news source? I’d have to say you should stop listening to them as they pretty much tout the same line as the others you discount. Who should be believed, bloggers ..lol oh to be young and foolish again.
I enjoy your obvious lack of reading and understanding of what I say, I am no Republican, nor am I a Democrat, hell I voted for Bob Barr last time because I’m officially done with the “major” parties. Anyways I love a person who doesn’t let the facts get in the way of their ranting. You go kid!!

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

There are some interesting comments here, and some comments which to me reflect an intransigence on way or the other (and some which seem to be on the wrong topic!). The thing that worries me is the attempt by the AIPAC lobby (who appear to be very one-track-minded, with the end of the line being war) to hype up a potential nuclear threat from Iran.
I’m not particularly blessed with a great understanding of nuclear processing (maybe the “could have tried harder” comment on my old school reports might have had something to do with that one), but I do try to understand the issue. My understanding is that you need 90% refined uranium to make a bomb.
The following is an excerpt from the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding the Iranian enrichment program from the http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/Iae aIran/index.shtml website which describes enrichment levels of 5%, more in keeping with nuclear power production as claimed by the Iranians.

“4. On 29 September 2008, the Agency conducted a PIV at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), the results of which confirm the physical inventory as declared by Iran, within the measurement uncertainties normally associated with such a facility. Between 29 October 2008 and 15 January 2009, Iran fed a total of approximately 50 kg of UF6 into the 20-machine IR-1 cascade, the 10-machine IR-2 cascade and the single IR-1, IR-2 and IR-3 centrifuges. The nuclear material at PFEP, as well as the cascade area, remains under Agency containment and surveillance.3 Iran has transferred a few kilograms of low enriched UF6 produced at PFEP to the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories4 at the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre for research and development purposes.
5. To date, the results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP5 indicate that the plants have been operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment). Since March 2007, 21 unannounced inspections have been conducted at FEP.”

That is just an excerpt, the pdf is available at the website for anyone interested in further details.

Given the recent (seemingly fabricated/false) claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction which lead to an as yet unfinished, and rather messy regime change in Iraq, which followed on the heals of an operation in Afghanistan to apprehend Bin Laden and his Al Quaeda organisation (which seems to have morphed into something else and has left Bin Laden as a long forgotten issue [and it's worth noting he is a Saudi national]), combined with a nuclear armed Pakistan seemingly spiraling out of control, coupled with a “War Game” at the rump of the Cacuses which is rattling Russia’s cage, combined with a bit of an economic melt-down to which huge amounts of tax-payers funds might not even touch the sides of the hole, why is there such a desire to add even more chaos?
Personally I’ve just about totally lost all faith in my government (the UK) to tell the truth. It’s a bit early to tell what the President Obama is going to be like, (I won’t give up hope in the west, as to me it’s my only option… but the politicians really need to up their game, or should that be stop playing games?), I don’t believe a word of the AIPAC lobby. I don’t believe Amidinjad in Iran. But I do have a glimmer of belief in the International Atomic Energy Agencies report. Perhaps it’s a good time in history for all the parties to take a step back from the brink and rethink the best way to approach the problems facing not just the Indian Ocean arena, but the whole more-connected than ever world.
(Thanks for the interesting link Nu’man El-Bakri, I did notice it had a comment at the end of it I’d describe as intransigent, but unfortunately the Times is very selective over which comments it publishes. I’d rather read relatively unedited comments such as these, even the ones I don’t agree with, otherwise what’s the point in them?)

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

This is first time I see some one to come to terms and call a spade a spade. USA policies in Middle East were a disaster under Bush and the economic fall out of the Iraq war is still not fully realized. Isreal is the problem in Middle East. Looking at the atrocities commited by Isreal makes one think if the same people ever suffered the holoucast? If they had, they would not do what they do to the Palestinains with ethnic cleansing and torture. The label of terrorist to the Plaestanian Freedom Fighter is wrong. People under yoke of oppression and occupation have the right to fight the occupier with any and all means they can muster. Wake up America before Isreal leads you to other war with Iran which will destroy America of what is left over from Bush era. Iraq war was for benefit of Isreal and oil but it has back fired and Iran has gained which it could have never got so in regular course of events. Isreal’s threat of war against Iran is hollow and no matter what the think tanks and pundits sitting in west may predict, Muslim Middle East countries will unite against Isreal if it went to war against Iran as Isreal is the thorn in their flesh than Iran.

Posted by Rajesh Kumar | Report as abusive
 

Edward that’s fine if you wanna call me young and ignorant with my assessment of your voting standards, but rest assured you’re being 100% hypocritical because you’re calling me a lefty and in my 2 chances to vote I’ve wrote in Ron Paul, the most conservative representative member of our government in both our lifetimes.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Well that’s the danger that’s run when people make assumptions, the clear danger being when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me! That aside, I just wonder for all those who don’t trust the media, where do you get your info? I like to read various sources, if you get both ends of the spectrum, you know the truth lies somewhere between them. Plus I happen to be a well versed in actual sources, not some blogger who I have never heard of, or the current popular folks like Chomsky. Comes from a poli sci background and just being a veteran of political forums and debates with other informed people.
I’m really not slamming the younger set too hard, because I was much like that when I was younger. I thought I had all the answers, or at least where to find them. I learned as I got older that the whole right and wrong stuff becomes hazier as you have more to worry about than grades and beer. I prefer over eagerness to apathy. I’m sure you won’t let me discourage you and I wouldn’t want to, but at the same time I think you’ll come to understand if not agree with where I come from.
BTW I would have voted for Ron Paul but I started to really pay attention to what he said beyond his cool soundbites and found his foreign policy to be dangerously naive. Not sure about Barr’s but I figure the Libertarians need some votes. At least I can somewhat identify with their policies.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

“…I do have a glimmer of belief in the International Atomic Energy Agencies report…” – Posted by Peter H
__________________________

Do you? Iran showed only what they wanted to show, and IAEA swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. The inspection was one planned well in advance, limited in place, time, and scope. Somehow Iran doesn’t allow surprise inspections – why would be that? All the numbers you’ve copied so diligently contain not much more truth than Madoff’s financial statements.
No surprise here. Al Baradei seemed much more preoccupied with alleged Israeli nukes than with his direct responsibilities to police NPT members, be it Iran, Syria, or his native Egypt. Israel is not, and never had been a party to NPT, so IAEA is totally irrelevant with anything that has concern with Israel. 2 other non-members, India and Pakistan, both publicly declared and tested their nukes, yet all of them don’t attract as much of attention of both IAEA and some posters here as Israel. All that despite they don’t have any proof of Israel possessing nukes except for statements by defector (traitor by any other name) and convicted felon Vanunu, who tried to monetize his “revelations”.
IAEA did nothing to stop Saddam from building a reactor producing weapon grade plutonium (Pu) – Israeli Air Force did. IAEA did later nothing to inspect Saddam’s other facilities – US Army did. IAEA did nothing to destroy Syria’s illicit Korean-built Pu-producing nuclear reactor – Israeli Air Force did.
Do you still believe in IAEA?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Alright Ed, sorry for the assumption. I was an breath away from being a Liberatarian until they chose Bob Barr, to me he just seems out to get Republicans because they didn’t make him famous enough. He voted yes on both the Patriot Act and War in Iraq, I’m glad he’s acknowledged these as mistakes but his lack of judgement at the time really made it impossible for me to vote for him and I’ll probably remain an Independent for a long time.

I prefer Paul’s foreign policy, get out of NAFTA, stop the wars and secure the border.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Rajesh Kumar,
Who would shoot a pregnant woman at the wheel of family car, and then come to the car wreck and deliberately shoot 3 surviving girls still strapped in their child seats, all under 10? Freedom fighters, or are they terrorists?
The sniper that shot a baby girl sitting in the lap of her father – was he a freedom fighter? Her name was Shalhevet – google for it, if you don’t believe me.
Who would bomb a city bus full of civilians? Freedom fighters?
Who fires rockets at residential areas that have no military objects nearby? Freedom fighters?
According to your logic, the Bombay shooters are freedom fighters for Kashmir, aren’t they? Or these methods are legitimate only against Jews, but terrorism if used against your native India? Then I have a definition for your mindset – Antisemitism. As used to say Goebbels, “every Anti-Semite is a potential National Socialist”.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Yes Annonymous I do have a glimmer of faith in the the IAEA, they appear to have facts and figures from tests carried out to back up their report, as opposed to noise from the familiar voices (AIPAC being probably the loudest). Dismissing arguments with a blanket “irrelevant” isn’t an argument. Dismissing El Baradi because he is Egyptian might appeal to a certain sector of society, but it doesn’t do anything for me other than illustrate a racist, anti-everybody but me and my own kind attitude.
My understanding is that El Baradi isn’t conducting these tests all by himself (or with a team of Egyptians), there is an international team of scientists behind him (I could copy and paste more the the IAEA website, but the link is there for anyone who cares to look). The weapons inspectors, who inspected the Iraq weapons before the “Shock and Awe(fully conceived, executed and still unfinished despite having been there longer than it took to defeat Hitler)” campaign appear to have been right in their assessment of the Iraq weapons which also gives me reason to have faith in the IAEA assessments… or perhaps to you that is also “irrelevant”, maybe because they weren’t representatives of AIPAC? It is my own governments (the UK under Tony Blair) “Intelligence” report that was quoted by the American government that he did have WMD’s that over-rode that assessment. It appears that “Intelligence Report” once it got to Downing St wasn’t adamant enough and needed to be changed for some reason never quite explained.
And I’m sure you consider this response irrelevant. I consider your response to have about as much validity as a Madoff investment statement which you have introduced, possibly as some kind of distraction? But I would suggest that anyone who invests in the AIPAC contentions will get a similar return on their investment, and the hood-winkers will later be rolling around laughing at their investors gullibility and deride them for not having checked the investment more closely before investing, having ridden rough-shod over the rafts of legislation relating to reporting on financial transactions being policed by our politicians and judiciary, and if they are busted, there’ll be a fall guy to take the flack, and the tax-payers of this and the next generation, or two, will pick up the tab.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

The IAEA can only investigate what the nation chooses to show it.

If Iran wants to make a nuclear bomb, this means secret enrichment. Something the IAEA will not be able to determine.

So your faith in the agency is misplaced. But one thing is true.

If Iran does get a nuclear bomb, the IAEA will be blamed for it. Because they will be shown to be ineffective and incapable of upholding the NPT. And the agency will become irrelevent.

While America’s ‘shock and awe’ policy will once again be proven to be the best way to enforce UN demands.

Posted by Anon. | Report as abusive
 

Dear Annon, I can only refer you to my previous comment. As for you suggestion that “Shock and Awe” will be the best way to enforce UN demands, does that include the ones in http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews  /idUSTRE54A5MQ20090511 ? Or is that not relevant, because you don’t like it? Why should anyone believe you and not the IAEA?

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive
 

It seems that you are more in a mood to speak then to listen, Peter.

If you continue to believe in the IAEA and it’s ability to prevent non-proliferation, then good for you. Expect to be disappointed.

Regarding Israel, the comment is not valid to this discussion, as well you know.

Considering that Israel is in control of the West Bank, it can create those settlements.

Prior to Israeli control over that land, it was annexed by Jordan. Since 1950, West Bank has been a region without an owner.

And as there is no currently existing nation called ‘Palestine’, the right and control over that region is Israel’s as sole successor nation.

The ‘request’ by the UN to stop the settlements is not a crass demand and not based on any binding legal obligation. It was merely suggesting Israel meet terms on a peace process long since frozen.

So to equate it with the demands placed on Iran is a bit silly.

Posted by anon. | Report as abusive
 

I am amazed that people are actually debating whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Wow, it boggles the imagination, but then again what can you expect from uninformed people who believe anything from the IAEI. At least a good portion of people realize that Iran what Iran is up to. Of course they then want to argue since Israel does it that makes it okay.
I bet these people still believe that all the money in the oil for food program went to feed hungry Iraqis rather than greedy U.N. officials. It seems the US and Israel are the only dishonest players on the international scene.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

Here is 5 points metric to check if state can be trusted.

This metric roughly measures political stability, and how much gov can be influenced from outside and cares about own people. This metric is not about good vs. bad since many people here cannot put apart Iran from US

Pakistan, Iran, N.Korea and … Russia don’t score well.
Israel, US, UK, France do fine.

1. State don’t kill own citizens in numbers.

You can expect that government will avoid enormous civilian losses that associated with any major/nuclear war at any cost. It also give other states influence polices by applying pressure.

Iran know for it brutality during war with Iraq ‘human waves attacks’ cost 1,000’000′s. So Pakistan. N.Korea lost 1,000,000′s to simple starvation.

2. State has proven record of transparently passing power from one gov to another without major troubles.

It insures that next gov will not suddenly change curse. Other countries have time react by politics not force.

Iran know to ban many candidates without any explanation.

3. State don’t raise kids in hate/nationalism.
It takes ~7-10 yrs to grew generation of ‘hate’ using school system. ‘Generation of hate’ supports war and make society very unstable.

We all were/are subjects to ‘Patriotic’ education. What about school plays about suicide bombers like in Iran? What about geography lessons where maps Great Persia cover half of neighbor states? What about injustice lessons that fault West/infidels for everything?

4. Individuals who hold powers come from general society not from ‘elite groups’ like clerics or nobles.

Elite groups often don’t have kids and/or disconnected from the rest of society. They also cannot quickly produce new leader quickly to replace aging guy who hold power. Sound like Iran’s Ayatollah & N.Korea Kim’s.

5. State has history of successful passage through crisises.
Israel scores the best :). Russia lost territory/had cups. Iran lost territory/enormous casualties at war.

I also see that all nuclear powers don’t engage other nuclear powers. Once first shot fired they rush to negotiations (Russia/US, Russia/China, US/China).

I see Iran constantly engages US. I see Pakistan engages India. see N.Korea constantly engage US.

Posted by SKV_USA | Report as abusive
 

SKV_USA

You should’ve just used the condensed version of the list.

1.) Those who have money have better governments and use that money to buy influence and prop up puppet governments that bow down to them and to make examples of those “evil” countries.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Or you could have used the even simpler, the US is not to be trusted, unless they are grovelling and taking the blame for something.
I guess it makes things simpler if you don’t bother for nuance and just go with what all the cool kids are saying. Apparently there are no bad actors, again except the US, Israel and I guess you gotta go with the Nazi’s.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

Ed I really thought we were on the same page, you don’t have any faith in the Republican or Democratic parties but yet you still have unwavering faith in the US gov’t which is 99.9999% Republican and Democrat, how is that?

The countries SKV came down on aren’t any good, but I hate when people lower their standards of the US so far that we’re basing our quality of government in comparison to North Korea. I mean how far have we stooped to what we will and won’t accept?

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

I fail to see how pointing out how the US is always wrong to a large segment of the posters here equates to unwavering support. I find the unwavering attacks on the US to be just as bad as saying the US is right all the time.
BTW what countries would you like to compare the US to: Russia or China who are still totalitarian states with little freedom and a small ruling class, the EU what with their cowardly foreign policies and tax heavy welfare states, South American dictatorships or leftist regimes that use class warfare to divide people and steal elections. I want to know who should be the arbiter or good government.
I’m not saying the US is always right, or even often right, but the real world doesn’t exactly provide any good governments. You have to accept the lesser of the many evils. Do I like things the way they are..no, do I think they will ever change… sadly also no.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive
 

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