Archive for the ‘Iran’ Tag

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President Obama “Good evening. Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community. So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian president earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged. I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall. Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s foreign minister. And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the European Union.

Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.”

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Text-of-Obama-statement-on-nuclear-deal-with-Iran-5007012.php

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR:

But, first, here’s my take: It’s difficult to know what to make of the failure to arrive at an agreement between the West and Iran. The high level talks have ended. Negotiations will resume at a lower level in 10 days.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments seemed the most sensible. “It was always going to be hard to arrive at a deal with Iran when the mistrust was so deep and had gone on for so long.”

But what was remarkable was the tone of the negotiators as they broke up. Both the Iranians and the main Western negotiator, Catherine Ashton of the European Union, were positive and constructive believing that much progress has been made.

There were voices that were much less positive. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized what he described as, “The deal of the century.” His aides explained that Iran was going to get everything it wanted in return for nothing. “A mess of pottage,” said one of them, making a biblical allusion.

The other critic of the deal appears to have been French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. France’s hard-line position actually allowed Washington to look reasonable though, for some, it proved that no matter what position the United States takes, you can count on France to try to sabotage it.

But the criticisms of the deal sound like alarmist hype to me. The basic agreement that might have been inked was that Iran would temporarily freeze its nuclear program including its uranium enrichments in return for some relief from Western sanctions.

During that period, about six months, serious negotiations would take place to arrive at a final agreement. The key here is what kind of sanctions relief were the Iranians going to get?

The answer is clear, not much. The Obama administration was not proposing that any of the major sanctions against Iran be lifted or even suspended. Those are all passed by Congress and couldn’t be lifted easily anyway.

It was proposing to take pretty minor steps. Europe has more flexibility on sanctions, but, from what we’ve heard, those countries were also proposing relief of very small kinds.

Now, the argument is that Iran should make significant concessions, but that the West should make none at all, that’s not negotiations, that’s a requirement that the other side surrender.

Which makes one wonder, do the critics of this negotiating process want a better deal or do they really want no deal at all so that it opens up another path to deal with the problem, which is war.

In that case, the danger for those critics was not that the Geneva negotiations were failing, but rather that they were succeeding.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1311/10/fzgps.01.html

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square.

“But, first, here’s my take. In the debate over U.S. intervention in Syria, there is a striking mismatch between ends and means. Proponents of intervention want to defeat a ruthless and powerful regime, rescue a country from civil war and usher in a new democratic political order.

But these people say, at the same time, that they want to achieve all this with the most limited methods. “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria,” says Senator John McCain.

We’re often told that the goal of this intervention is to stop the killing, but sending more arms into the mix will actually increase the violence. That’s fine, say the interventionists, because the real goal is to oust Assad.

But as we learned in Iraq, ousting the dictator is only the beginning of the task. The actually goal here is the creation of a democratic Syria in which all sects can live in peace.

Now, the United States tried that in Iraq with an almost decade-long invasion and occupation spending over a trillion dollars and it hasn’t quite worked. But, now, we’re going to achieve a better outcome in Syria and just with a no-fly zone? In the mid-1980s, the scholar Samuel Huntington pondered why the United States, the world’s dominant power, which had won two world wars, deterred the Soviet Union, maintained global peace, was so bad at smaller military interventions.

Since World War II, he noted, the U.S. had engaged militarily in a series of conflicts around the world, but, in almost every case, the outcome had been inconclusive, muddled or worse.

Huntington’s answer was we rarely entered conflicts actually trying to win. Instead, he reasoned, U.S. military intervention had usually been sparked by a crisis, which then put pressure on Washington to do something, but Americans rarely saw the problem as one that justified getting fully committed.

So, we would join the fight but in incremental ways and hope that these incremental moves would change the outcome. It rarely does. Instances where we have succeeded, 1990 Persian Gulf War, Grenada and Panama, were all ones where we did fight to win, used massive force and achieved a quick, early knockout.

In Syria, the interventionists have lofty ends but no one wants to use the means necessary to achieve them. So we are now giving arms to the opposition and hoping it will bring the regime to the negotiating table.

But, as Huntington observed, “military forces are not primarily instruments of communication to convey signals to an enemy; they are instead instruments of coercion to compel him to alter his behavior.”

This reminds one of the strategy of the Johnson administration in Vietnam, use force to pressure the enemy to negotiate. But the enemy is fighting to win not to play a negotiating game.

The chance that our current efforts in Syria will do enough to achieve even our objectives is small. Eventually, the contradictions in U.S. policy will emerge and the Obama administration will face calls from people like John McCain for further escalation.

They should resist them and it’s possible that they will. The scholar Daniel Drezner argues in his blog on ForeignPolicy.com that the new move “is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik Obama policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years.”

“The goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished, he writes, “at an appalling toll in lives lost.”

If this interpretation of the Obama administration’s behavior is correct, then the White House might well be playing a clever game, but it is Machiavellian rather than humanitarian games.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1306/23/fzgps.01.html

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John Fugelsang:

Every year on Ronald Reagan’s birthday there’s always so much pressure about how to best celebrate.

Should I declare ketchup is a vegetable for all those overfunded public school kids or shut down all those defunded mental hospitals so those nice folks can get some fresh air? Or just never mention AIDS? Oh, too late, I just mentioned AIDS. Well, maybe I should just bake a big expensive cake that most Americans will never get a piece of and then make your grandkids pay for it.

The point is, there are so many ways to honor Reagan’s achievements.

Achievements like vetoing any sanctions against South African apartheid while talking a lot about freedom. Or union-busting the air traffic controllers even though he used to run a union and all. Or signing California’s Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967 into law. Just Google that. He really did that.

How about running for president promising to never negotiate with terrorists, then secretly selling arms and weapons to the same Iranian terrorists who helped kill our Marines in Beirut while already arming the Iraqis that they’re at war with — arming both sides in the same war — using that money to illegally fund the contras in Central America after Congress passed a stuffy old law saying he couldn’t, lying about the size and amount of shipments, saying he forgot he did all that stuff, and then helping his VP become president, who then pardoned everyone convicted so they could all walk away clean?

Pretty impressive when you consider Bill Clinton couldn’t even pull off one lousy Hummer.

Now, some of our conservative brothers and sisters might think this is mean, my reciting several actual things Reagan actually, really did. But Reagan always seemed like a nice guy. I don’t want want to be mean to him. If I was gonna be mean, I’d mention how he tried really hard to keep Martin Luther King Day from ever becoming a national holiday — because he did.

So what about the positives?

Like raising the debt limit 17 times. Or raising taxes 11 times because the economy needed it. Giving amnesty to 10 million undocumented immigrants. Obama’s only offered the Dream Act, which makes them actually work for it.

Reagan talked to our enemies, dreamed of a world with no nukes, he grew government by 61,000 jobs — he did, Department of Veterans Affairs. Ronald Reagan banned all torture and did all kinds of other stuff Fox News really wants you to forget. Reagan even defunded the public school system, which wasn’t a good thing, but it probably led directly to MTV picking up “Jersey Shore.”

Look, I’m gonna celebrate by remembering the young president of my union, the Screen Actors Guild, the young Ronald Reagan who once said, “One of the most elemental human rights is the right to belong to a free trade union.”

And I’m gonna wish peace on his soul, and I’m gonna support an assault weapons ban — just like gun violence victim President Ronald Reagan did in 1994.

http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/john-fugelsang-celebrates-reagans-birthday-by-remembering-what-fox-news-wants-you-to-forget/

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Yasser Arafat’s body has been exhumed for investigation, bringing back memories of the unpredictable Palestinian leader and the Middle East in which he operated.

The news broke at a time when a conventional wisdom began to take hold that the Middle East today is much more dangerous, unstable, violent and anti-American than before. So let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1980s, the newly empowered, radical Islamic Republic of Iran unsettled the region with its promise to spread its revolution elsewhere. Lebanon was in the midst of a bloody civil war that engulfed not only itself but also the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran and Iraq fought a gruesome war with over 1 million casualties. Hezbollah attacked U.S. armed forces directly, forcing a humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. A CIA station chief was tortured and killed, and U.S. secrets and interests compromised. And that was just in one decade.

Or consider those days from Israel’s point of view. During the 1980s, Jerusalem faced well-armed regimes in Iraq and Syria, leading members of the so-called rejectionist camp that urged permanent hostilities against Israel. No Arab regime other than Egypt would dare speak openly of peace with Israel. The official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat’s chief tactic was terrorism against Israelis, Europeans and Americans.

Today the Soviet Union has collapsed, Saddam Hussein is gone, the Syrian regime is tottering. Israel, on the other hand, has grown to become a regional military superpower.

Its defense budget is larger now than that of all its neighbors put together. Its technological advantages put it in another league. The Palestinian Authority affirms Israel’s existence and works with it regularly.

Iran remains a real threat, but it is isolated, sanctioned and contained like few other countries in history. It is also roiled by discontent at home and facing the combined opposition of the secular Arab states, Israel and the Western powers.

Amidst the disorder, there is a broader contest for regional power. Israel has by far the most powerful economy and military, but it lacks political power for obvious reasons. Turkey has economic and military power as well, and it also has growing regional clout.

Egypt, meanwhile, is the natural leader of the Arab world, but at the moment is not in a position to dominate. Its economy is a shambles, its military second rate and under pressure from its people, and its democracy still very fragile.

President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab is worrying, but the public opposition to it has been reassuring.

So the Middle East today is mixed, complex region that is changing fast. Grand generalizations about it are likely to be undone by events. But it is a more vibrant, energetic, open, even democratic place than the Middle East of a generation ago.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1212/02/fzgps.01.html

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Fareed Zakaria “Another telling indicator of dissent is the number of silent objectors in the army. According to the “New York Times,” a growing number of Syrian soldiers, many of whom lack the means to flee, are staying home. But to ensure their continued silence and neutrality, these officers continue to draw salaries and pensions. Money is the main reason to believe that Assad’s regime cannot last. Inflation is said to be as high as 30 percent, according to some reports. Assad and his cronies are freely printing money. The Syrian pound has depreciated against the dollar by more than half on the black market. Meanwhile, the regime is running out of cash. 90 percent of Syria’s oil used to go to the European Union. But sanctions have put a stop to that. Tourism and trade have, of course, plummeted, and monetary support from Iran cannot be counted on indefinitely. Tehran itself is buckling under unprecedented sanctions. And there was a report last week that Iran might be weakening in its support for Assad. An Iranian ambassador gave an interview in a Tehran paper criticizing his government’s support for the Syrian regime and saying that Assad’s days were obviously numbered.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1207/15/fzgps.01.html

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Fareed Zakaria on the Bill Maher show  speaking of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi ” Look, I think this guy is a pretty hard line Muslim Brotherhood guy.  The only correction to your statement I would make is, it’s not Muslim leaders.  This guy is a political Islamist leader.  There are lots of Muslim leaders, the leader of Indonesia, the leader of, you know, Turkey, these guys are secular democratic, right?  But these people who come from parties like the brotherhood, this guy is, from what we can tell, a nasty piece of work.  But, remember though, he has never got more than 25% of the vote.  In the first round he got 25% of the vote.  The secular candidates in Egypt, which were two main ones, got 39% collectively.  In the second round the guy gets 50%, but there was 50% turnout, so still only 25% of the Egyptian electorate has ever voted for this guy.  The army is still there, and I never thought I’d be saying it, but you know, they will be a check on some of his ambitions.  There will be a certain amount of struggle.  If this guy had absolute power in Egypt, I think it would be very bad news.”

Zakaria later in the show “One Muslim country where, ironically, the population is very pro American, you know, you go to Egypt and they don’t like us, you go to Pakistan and they don’t like us.  We’re pouring money into them.  You go to Iran, I was Iran about six months ago, they love Americans.  It’s a great tragedy that’s the one country we want to bomb.”