A former Obama State Department official says the refusal to negotiate with Iran is making war more likely VIDEO
Topics: Politics News
(updated below – Update II)
One of the most significant foreign policy controversies of the 2008 presidential election centered around Barack Obama’s pledge ”to meet separately, without precondition” with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. That seemingly off-the-cuff vow in response to a questioner at a July, 2007, Democratic primary debate was used first by Hillary Clinton, and then by John McCain, to depict Obama as naive, irresponsible, radical and — most ominously — overly sympathetic to America’s enemies (some liberal pundits echoed some of the same criticisms, while Mitt Romney is still trying to exploit that statement for those ends).
At the time, Chris Matthews pointed to this controversy, with his typical insight and prescience, to claim that Obama was too far to the left and it showed why “Hillary will win this thing” (Matthews: “They‘re putting this guy, whose middle name is Hussein, out there, saying he wants to go play in the sandbox with a holocaust denier. That‘s brilliant politics if you‘re a Democrat”). When the controversy first arose, I vigorously defended Obama’s pro-negotiating position, pointing out that a plurality of Americans and a majority of Democrats were in favor of having the next President meet unconditionally with those leaders, and I further argued that “it is a petulant refusal to speak to the Bad People that is the real fringe, dangerous, extremist position.”
But we have now a great irony: America’s increasingly tense and dangerous conflict with Iran is characterized (one could even say caused) by the unwillingness of the Obama administration to engage meaningfully with Iran’s leaders. After a few early, symbolic gestures, it has been the administration’s refusal to pursue the most fruitful path for resolving the various disputes between the two nations — namely, direct negotiations and diplomacy — that is most responsible for the stand-off. As preeminent Iran expert Vali Nasr — the former Obama State Department advisor and current Tufts University Professor of International Politics — brilliantly explains in this six-minute interview, one I urge everyone to listen to, this anti-negotiating stance has rendered an escalating sanctions regime the only available course short of war, one that is highly unlikely, Nasr argues, to resolve the dispute, but instead is far more likely to lead to war (unintended or otherwise, especially in an election year). Just please listen to Nasr’s argument and make your own assessment:
UPDATE: If there’s anyone doubting that there is a concerted media-aided fear-mongering campaign aimed at Iran, consider two article from today; first, this monument to mindless stenographic journalism, by The Washington Post‘s Greg Miller:
It begins with this warning: “U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States in response to perceived threats from America and its allies,” and adds that this “signals a potentially dire new direction in the adversarial relationship between the United States and Iran.” Dire. Then we have this, from Foreign Affairs today:
So, to recap: Iran is working closely with Al Qaeda and is ready to launch Terrorist attacks inside the U.S. Is it that hard to come up with new propaganda? Is recycling scary storylines really the best that can be done?
UPDATE II: In Salon today, Trita Parsi, president and founder of the National Iranian American Council, argues that “the pressure Obama has imposed on Iran has only brought the US and Iran closer to war and has not led to the resolution of even a single issue of concern” and:
Obama has completely bought into the idea that a “strong” Iran policy is one that is tough, punishing and confrontational. As on so many other issues, Obama has permitted the debate to take place on the Right’s turf. In doing so, he has betrayed his own platform of pursuing “smart” rather than just “tough” policies.
Parsi’s whole argument is worth reading, and is quite similar in key respects to the points made by Nasr.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Glenn Greenwald (email: GGreenwald@salon.com) is a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator and is the author of three New York Times Bestselling books: two on the Bush administration's executive power and foreign policy abuses, and his latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, an indictment of America's
two-tiered system of justice. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and is the winner of the 2010 Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.