Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Obama and Iran

Just when we thought that there might be a chance of progress with Iran, we received news that had GOP fear mongers foaming at the mouth in delight.

Map picture

President Obama and his allies raced Friday to use their revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment plant as long-sought leverage against Tehran, demanding that the country allow highly intrusive international inspections and propelling the confrontation with Tehran to a new and volatile pitch.

In a day of high drama at an economic summit meeting, American, British and French officials declassified some of their most closely held intelligence and scrambled to describe a multiyear Iranian effort, tracked by spies on the ground and satellites above, to build a secret uranium enrichment plant deep inside a mountain.

The new plant, which Iran strongly denied was intended to be kept secret or used for making weapons, is months away from completion and does nothing to shorten intelligence estimates of how long it would take Iran to produce a bomb. American intelligence officials say it will take at least a year, perhaps five, for Iran to develop the full ability to make a nuclear weapon.

But the finding so cemented a sense of what Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain called “the serial deception of many years” that it led to a rare Russian rebuke of Iran, and a milder warning from China, two countries crucial to Mr. Obama’s efforts to back up diplomacy with far tougher sanctions.

Mr. Obama’s aides and a raft of intelligence officials argued that the small, hidden plant was unsuitable for producing reactor fuel that might be used in a peaceful nuclear program. Moreover, its location, deep inside an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base about 20 miles from the religious center of Qum, strongly suggested it was designed for covert use in weapons, they said.

Late Friday afternoon, preparing to return to Washington, Mr. Obama issued a stark warning about the nuclear negotiations that are to begin next week, the first direct talks between the two countries in 30 years.

“Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on Oct. 1 they are going to have to come clean and they will have to make a choice,” he said. The alternative to giving up their program, he warned, is to “continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation.”

It seemed unlikely that by “confrontation” Mr. Obama meant military action. While the president said that option was still on the table, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said on CNN on Friday that “the reality is that there is no military option that does anything more than buy time — the estimates are three years or so.”

Mr. Obama said he had withheld making the intelligence public for months because it “is very important in these kind of high-stakes situations to make sure the intelligence is right”— a clear allusion to former President George W. Bush’s release of intelligence on Iraq seven years ago this month that proved baseless. Mr. Obama’s hand was forced, however, after Iran, apparently learning that the site had been discovered by Western intelligence, delivered a vague, terse letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday disclosing that it was building a second plant, one that it had never mentioned during years of inspections… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

I’ve already heard rumblings about Obama’s weakness and naiveté from the rabid right.  But they just don’t get it.  Obama knew about this since he took office, and instead of being blindsided, as the GOP would have you believe, he has planned a wise strategy to deal with it.

Obama-Pittsburgh Obama knew all along that Iran had a secret uranium factory. He may be more of a master strategist than his foes--and even his friends--have realized.

The key to understanding today's announcement on Iran is this: President Obama knew about the secret Iranian facility nine months ago. Before he began his strategy of engagement, he knew Iran was lying about its program. When he extended his hand in friendship, he knew Iran had built a secret factory to enrich uranium. Before he offered direct talks, he knew Iran was hiding a nuclear weapons breakout capability.

Each move was denounced as "weak" and "naïve" by the right. That talk looks foolish today. These were the moves of chess master, carefully positioning pieces on the board, laying a trap, and springing it at the opportune moment.

We now know that Obama was not acting on impulse, or philosophy or general principles, but on deep strategy. He knew better than his critics that Ahmadinejad could not be trusted. He just had a better plan for how to deal with him.

Obama is now well positioned to unite world leaders in a long-term strategy to back Iran away from nuclear weapons. While some nations mistrusted the previous administration--fearing a repeat of the Iraq War--they have more confidence in Obama. They don't believe he will use military force, except as a last resort.

Meanwhile, Obama's missile defense decision--a move that puts more military assets in position more quickly against the Iranian missiles--not only increases the pressure on Iran but allows Russia to move closer to the U.S. position without appearing to be buckling to America.

Obama's open hand also undercut Ahmadinejad at home. Previously, he was able to use the nuclear program as a nationalist rallying cry, posing as the warrior president defending the nation against Western attack. He kept the reform movement down and IAEA inspectors out. Obama's strategy of engagement has foiled Ahmadinejad, allowing the forces of reform to surge in Iran. Without the threat of a US attack, Iranian opposition leaders have more freedom of movement and are less vulnerable to the government claims that they are tools of US imperialism.

Internationally, Obama is restoring American credibility... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Imagine, if you will, what our response might have been id GW Warmonger were still pResident.  Cheney would be drooling  blood and demanding a nuclear strike.  Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck and the other GOP leaders would be blaming it on Bill Clinton.  We would have moved to immediate confrontation and launched a preemptive war.  Bush and the GOP were doing their best to manufacture an excuse for war with Iran.  Even the relatively mild John McConJob became infamous for singing “Bomb Bomb Iran”, not realizing that his microphone was live.

In contrast, consider Obama’s careful response.  He has already organized the international support needed to bring real economic pressure to bear against Iran while providing for the defense of Iran’s neighbors.  My biggest worry is the need to restrain Israel.  Qom is one of the holiest cities for the Shia sect and Iran’s center for Shia learning.  An attack anywhere near that location would spark a jihad from Shiites the world over.  And an Israeli attack would be deemed as having US sanction.  I trust that Obama’s reasoned approach will, in time, resolve the situation without Violence.


Brother Tim said...

I hope you're correct, Tom, but my skeptisism remains high with my BS Meter red-lining. It's a chess game alright, and we're playing against Masters. It won't end till someone calls 'checkmate', or the board gets knocked off of the table.

My post today also deals with this subject.

TomCat said...

I hope I am too, Tom. But I reasoned that, since Obama is a highly intelligent man, and since he has known about this for months, why would he have offered to talk all this time, if he wasn't playing it to his own advantage?

TomCat said...

OOPS! Make that TIM

Oso said...

The Iranians are extremely pragmatic people.They have massive oil and gas reserves,demographically are very young and want to modernize.

So the solution is simple.Drop the sanctions on trade,which will allow massive US investment in their aging infrastructure and export of our goods.

Drop Israel like the useless albatross they are.They aren't an ally, they're a sinkhole of US taxpayer $ and have never done us any good.

Make $ instead of wasting it.

TomCat said...

Oso, you make a good point, but considering the influence that AIPAC wields, the only way I see that happening is for the Jewish-American community to desert AIPAC in favor of a progressive Jewish organization.

Oso said...

Hi TomCat,
Yes you're right.just kinda daydreaming out loud. BTW no I don't have a blog,but I post on Madmikesamerica and Swiftspeech.Not the varsity guy-my posts are when the games out of hand and the coach empties the bench :)

TomCat said...

Keep dreaming, Oso. Sometimes good dreams like that become real. I used to dream of a time when the GOP would be out of power. It took many years and thousands like you and I, but it happened.

RealityZone said...

a major problem we have with our foreign ploicy toward iran is not only aipac, but also our own state dept. with shillary leading the charge. dennis ross a major zionist is helping to set policy again. the neo/zio/lib/cons are endless when it comes to their disinformation,and their beating of the war drums.

Oso said...

Reality Zone,
you're absolutely right,IMO.And in the long run we are hurting ourselves the most.
Checked out your sit BTW. some nice articles there.
thank you

the walking man said...

Her (finally) we agree. The president did this exactly right. Now let's wait and see how open the Iranian government is to the IEAE.

TomCat said...

Welcome RZ. Although my heredity is partly Jewish, I find Israels conduct reprehensible where the Palestinians are concerned. I think State will reflect the policies of the administration, but still thing that the best way to accomplish that is to defang AIPAC.

Oso, I agree. I liked RZ's site as well.

Mark, I find it refreshing that we can disagree as often as we do, while maintaining friendship and mutual respect. I understand Iran has agreed to allow the IEAE to inspect the site.

RealityZone said...

oso, and tom-cat; thanks for checking out my site. i just started it two weeks ago.
tom-cat; this really has nothing to do about being jewish. it is the zionists and their policies that i object to. my mother had to hide in germany under the nazi regime because her maiden name was jewish. within israel as well as in the U.S.A. there are many jews that do not agree with the govt. of israel. the zionists are the same as any fanatics [xtian-fascists] the are the persecuted that have become the persecutors. i hate walls any kind of walls. israel is building a wall, of course israel firsters call it a fence. lol we have to be in charge of our own foreign policy, we can not allow orgs. such as aipac aei pnac and others to control our destiny.

TomCat said...

RZ, I agree. It's not about Jewish people. The majority lean to the left. The problem is that AIPAC is considered the defacto voice of the Jewish people, even though it's dominated by minority zionists the extreme Christian religious right. However, the Jewish people are best equipped to correct that misperception.

Brother Tim said...

You're absolutely right, Tom. Zionist and Jew are not synonymous, ask any Orthodox or Reform Jew.

TomCat said...

Thanks, Tim