AIPAC-championed amendment pushes Obama into a corner on Iran

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 51 Comments
Hormuz map
The red arrow points to the Straits of Hormuz, a focal point in US-Iran tensions today.
(Map via Wikipedia)

President Obama is set to sign legislation attached to a military spending bill that would impose harsh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear energy program. The AIPAC-championed bill, known as the Kirk-Menendez amendment, has pushed the Obama administration into a corner, forcing the administration to maneuver between appeasing the Israel lobby while at the same time making sure that the new sanctions don’t batter the weak U.S. economy by spiking oil prices. And in the meantime, Iran has responded forcefully.

The New York Times ran this story yesterday on the escalating tensions between Iran and the U.S.:

A senior Iranian official on Tuesday delivered a sharp threat in response to economic sanctions being readied by the United States, saying his country would retaliate against any crackdown by blocking all oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital artery for transporting about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.

The declaration by Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, came as President Obama prepares to sign legislation that, if fully implemented, could substantially reduce Iran’s oil revenue in a bid to deter it from pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Prior to the latest move, the administration had been laying the groundwork to attempt to cut off Iran from global energy markets without raising the price of gasoline or alienating some of Washington’s closest allies.

Apparently fearful of the expanded sanctions’ possible impact on the already-stressed economy of Iran, the world’s third-largest energy exporter, Mr. Rahimi said, “If they impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz,” according to Iran’s official news agency. Iran just began a 10-day naval exercise in the area.

The escalation in tension came as The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake reported that the U.S., worried about Israel striking Iran unilaterally, “is trying to assure Israel privately that it would strike Iran militarily if Tehran’s nuclear program crosses certain ‘red lines.'”

Josh Rogin, who blogs at Foreign Policy, explained on MSNBC the high-stakes surrounding the Kirk-Menendez amendment, and also said the Obama administration was “forced” into signing the bill (though he didn’t say by whom). Here’s Rogin:

The Obama administration has been trying to avoid ramping up the confrontational tone with Iran, especially in an election year. The last thing they want to do is provoke a crisis.

And unfortunately, they’ve been forced into signing this new sanctions bill. It’s the Kirk-Menendez bill which puts crippling sanctions on the central bank of Iran. And not only that, it forces the U.S. to sanction third countries who do business. We’re talking about any country around the world. That’s every country, including allies like Japan and South Korea.

The administration is in a tough spot here. They have to enforce the sanctions. They have some leeway. But now is the battle over these third countries. And that’s what Iran is doing here.

They’re sending a message to all these countries around the world, if you follow these U.S. sanctions, we’re going to punish you. If you don’t follow these U.S. sanctions, the U.S. is going to punish you.

It puts all these countries into a horrible situation, a lose/lose scenario. And that’s exactly what the administration was trying to avoid…

Back here in Washington, the American economy will suffer if we put crippling sanctions on Iran that poised of course, world oil markets into disarray, that raise gas prices, and the Obama administration doesn’t trust that the average voter is going to draw the distinction between the benefits of delaying Iran’s nuclear program and the higher prices at the gas tank. It’s really a tough one to explain and it’s really a discussion they don’t want to have heading into their presidential election. It’s just not a good idea for them.

The important challenge for the Obama administration will be finding a way to both enforce the sanctions and prevent the oil markets from going haywire while keeping the lobby quiet in an election year where Iran will be an issue. But it’s clear the U.S. and Iran are hurtling closer to war, and this amendment is a key reason why. Stephen Walt recently explained why a U.S. war posture like this is dangerous:

The danger here is that if you keep repeating that preventive war against Iran is necessary, people gradually become comfortable with the idea and assume that it is going to occur eventually. In fact, if we beat the war drums for months but don’t attack, you can be confident that people like [Matthew] Kroenig will then argue that U.S. credibility is on the line and we have to strike, lest those dangerous Iranians conclude we are paper tigers.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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51 Responses

  1. bob
    December 29, 2011, 1:50 pm

    AIPAC Championed?
    Dec 7 2011
    This week Menendez stood by his approach on sanctions, which he developed in consultation with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

    Developed in consultation with AIPAC is even more telling.

    Just like the other AIPAC Iran sanctions bills, most notably the first one from the 1990’s that passed over the desperate objections from US and international Oil companies.

    • Krauss
      December 29, 2011, 2:10 pm

      Sort of proves that the Israel Lobby is even more powerful than Big Oil, which is saying quite a bit about it’s power. NRA may be totally dominant in it’s sphere of interest, but it’s still a very narrow, domestic concern. The Israel Lobby acts on the foreign policy on the Middle East but it also acts as an enforcer of the debate in the domestic media, smearing people as anti-Semites when it is feeling threatned.

      Bill Clinton called it the most powerful lobby group on the Hill.
      I’m inclined to agree. Both it’s power and scope is supreme, but not unbreakable.

      • bob
        December 29, 2011, 3:01 pm
      • terry t
        January 1, 2012, 12:24 pm

        have u been wondering why Iran is so transparent?
        that they dont have internal know how and have to import
        foreign scientists technicians exposing its “secrets”
        that Iran is totally dependent on import of foreign electronics
        computers etc etc – while finding procurement very hard due
        embargo

        has it occured to you that all this equipment finds its way to Iran

        they cant test it – they need it in a hurry as more and more
        “secret” locations explode

        when people are brainwashed they can no longer see straight

        Israel with ten of billions usd worth of hi tech and mil exports
        needs petty business of $ 50 000

        Iran is like water whoever needs to know has bugged the entire
        place probably half of the thousands of foreigners are working
        for somebody

        how do u think “atomic” factories get eliminated on a dailt
        basis – give some credit to Obama

    • Abierno
      December 29, 2011, 4:02 pm

      Does AIPAC ignore the fact that several Israeli and US players are quietly,
      indirectly doing business with Iran? Are sanctions envisioned for these companies
      or are there differing/flexible criteria as to who is sanctioned? All of this at a time,
      when Israel is looking to ramp up trade with China, who will be all too willing
      to scoop any Iranian oil.

      Who represents all the soon to be unemployed when energy costs go through
      the ceiling and US products are no longer competitive in export markets? Who
      represents the people of the US when this precipitates an ongoing depression
      at a time when our debt load is such that we have no resources to counter act
      sky rocketing lack of demand and poverty? Does the US have to be pushed over
      the cliff in order for Congress to give a least a small priority to the needs of the
      citizens who elected them?

      We cannot afford social security, medicare, medicaid, education, vocational training
      or health care for our exisitng war veterans or other social services but we can – again – run up a multrillion dollar debt in war with Iran (which is opposed by many high level Israeli military commanders, present and retired). Perhaps this bill
      could be informally submitted for a national (albeit informal) plebiscite on-line,
      both in the US and in Israel to identify whether AIPAC really speaks for the
      US citizen or the Israeli citizen. Such data might well create some understanding
      among congressmen and senators of the orientation and interests of their constituents as well as give the Obama administration support for a more considered
      foreign policy from the White House.

      • bob
        December 29, 2011, 4:39 pm

        Does AIPAC ignore the fact that several Israeli and US players are quietly, indirectly doing business with Iran?

        Conoco, yes. Israeli trade, no.

        Weight of these threats grew over time. France Total 1997, sanctions didn’t deter its Iranian deals. Total today, is deterred by sanctions. (see AIPAC)

      • American
        December 29, 2011, 10:51 pm

        “Does the US have to be pushed over the cliff in order for Congress to give a least a small priority to the needs of the citizens who elected them? ”

        Yes it does. And they are doing it.

      • Kathleen
        December 30, 2011, 11:18 am

        Yeah just think about it Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder helped get Marc Rich who had done business with Iran off the hook . Clinton (both Clintons), Holder, Obama, US congress doing Israel and the I lobbies bidding. Aipac seems stronger than ever even after they were clearly caught once again undermining US National Security.

        And now Ron Paul’s brave stance on Iran , the I lobby, Israel being trampled

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 29, 2011, 2:00 pm

    awesome article alex. we are so on the same page here. the whole walt /kroenig/ daily beast fiasco…yes i have been following it..argh

    between now and whenever it is the american people decide to evict that hideous lobby out of the house there’s only one direction we’re headed, and that’s down hill.

  3. Annie Robbins
    December 29, 2011, 2:05 pm

    and one more thing…

    for the Obama administration will be finding a way to both enforce the sanctions and prevent the oil markets from going haywire while keeping the lobby quiet in an election year where Iran will be an issue.

    keeping the lobby quiet shouldn’t be obamas main concern, because they won’t keep quiet, they will keep pushing us to war. obamas main concern should be pacifying the left, because we are abandoning him in the droves.

    wake the f up

    • Hostage
      December 29, 2011, 6:06 pm

      for the Obama administration will be finding a way to both enforce the sanctions and prevent the oil markets from going haywire

      I’ll say. He is required to tell other countries where they can buy oil with no authorization from the UN Security Council to back him up. It’s a violation of international law to interfere in the relations or commerce between other states in that way.

      The danger here is that if you keep repeating that preventive war against Iran is necessary, people gradually become comfortable with the idea and assume that it is going to occur eventually.

      It’s a violation of the UN Charter prohibition against employing the threat or use of force in international relations. The danger is that Iran might respond to these threats. Iran could claim that these are acts of war or a casus belli with more than a little justification.

      • Abierno
        December 29, 2011, 7:38 pm

        Herewith Iran’s responses to sanctions and the weaponry (pictured)
        available – a far, far more formidable challenge than Iraq:

        link to zerohedge.com

      • terry t
        January 1, 2012, 12:31 pm

        HOW WILL THEY RESPOND
        THEY CLAIM THEY HAVE NO A BOMS
        40 YR OLD JESTS ANS FEW PRIMITIVE MISSLES
        AGAINST ENTIRE WEST? u may want to look at the great success of Iran military when they fought Saadam – the Iran reaction when few primitive missiles hit Teheran – they know almost all west air forces
        are all over the place – U seem to think Iran is israel problem..

    • Kathleen
      December 30, 2011, 11:21 am

      If there are many more aggressive moves towards Iran Obama is over. If he allows the I lobby to continue to dominate his foreign policy moves(even though Romney will be no better) he will be a one term president.

  4. Krauss
    December 29, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Eli Lake, the reporter who wrote the piece on Iran, is a known neocon but even more so than Ben Smith (at Politico, the one who wrote the inital smear job on Media Matters and the CAP bloggers who also took a lot of background sourcing from the now tarnished Josh Block).

    The role of Eli Lake is similar to Ben Smith’s, present a calm, bi-partisan facade while in fact having a highly biased neocon temperament and leaning. Both men act as a channel for the neocons when something is in the pipe, like now.

    Eli got his foot into the establishment via the Washington Times(ultra-right paper) and do you remember the ‘scandal’ when it was unearthed that J Street had in fact been funded by Soros? Do you remember the Lobby hounding J Street for ‘escorting Goldberg around the Hill’? Both stories came from him.

    When Friedman wrote his now notorious Israel Lobby-column on Dec. 13th, Rothman reacted as many of us remember. On Twitter, Michelle Goldberg responded in jest that it ‘proves the Lobby’s existance’.

    Eli Lake, the same guy, was immediately on her and asking her to explain herself.
    This guy is a known neocon source, and a reporter specializing on ‘national security’.

    The report doesn’t say anything, it’s just a propaganda piece aimed at pressuring Iran. But that it comes from him is more significant; the neocons are starting to coalesce on an attack but of course, as Alex pointed out, when Josh Rogin talked in vague terms of the Obama admin. being ‘forced’ he didn’t say by whom.

    Neither is anybody pointing out the background of Eli Lake, both very important facts to understanding the background here. Again, the lobby trumps the MSM and most people won’t comprehend what is happening here.

  5. Dan Crowther
    December 29, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Pepe escobar’s latest is helpful here:
    link to dissidentvoice.org

    ………As Pipelineistan goes, with Russia, Central Asia and Iran controlling 50% of world’s gas reserves, and with Iran and Pakistan as virtual SCO members, the name of the game becomes Asian integration — if not Eurasian. China and Russia now coordinate foreign policy in extreme detail. The trick is to connect China and Central Asia with South Asia and the Gulf — with the SCO developing as an economic/security powerhouse. In parallel, Pipelineistan may accelerate the full integration of the SCO as a counterpunch to NATO.

    In realpolitik terms, that makes much more sense than a New Silk Road invented in Washington. But tell that to the Pentagon, or to a possible bomb Iran, scare China, neo-con-remote-controlled next president of the United States.
    ————

    In short, if you want to guarantee the US becoming a second rate power, knock yourself out in Iran…or as Gen. Zinni put it: if you like iraq and afghanistan, your gonna love Iran.

    • Keith
      December 29, 2011, 4:30 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- I think the Pepe Escobar article is highly germane. Iran is emerging as the key area of geo-strategic confrontation in the 21st century, the very centerpiece of the Project for the New American Century. I think that US planners, particularly the neocons, sense a narrow window of opportunity to establish complete planetary domination, to be achieved by full spectrum warfare: financial, sanctions, destabilization, terrorism, political, media, bombing, special ops, drones, cyber war, etc. They are seeking global control of the three F’s : Food, Fuel and Financial. Iran is strategically critical. Russia and China are desperately trying to break free from US hegemony. With its oil, gas, and strategic pipeline location, Iran could provide the means for a counter hegemonic strategy. If the US is able to destabilize and control Iran, however, a real challenge to the emerging US/Corporate/Financial matrix of control seems unlikely.

      Of course, current US massive aggression is extremely dangerous. Current US leaders, however, are risk takers who are more concerned with acquiring power than the survival of the species. It should be noted that the US is currently engaged in low intensity aggression against Iran which is being escalated, the proposed sanctions blatant economic warfare. “If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” (Michael Ledeen)

  6. MRW
    December 29, 2011, 2:30 pm

    There’s another wrinkle here that no one is thinking about. An increasingly annoyed Pakistan. Look at the map. Right now, Iran controls the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman on its side. We land our supply ships for the Afghan troops at some port in Pakistan, probably Karachi, and supplies travel overland up from the Gulf of Oman through Pakistani territory. The Pakistanis are kicking the CIA out for the drone attacks.

    If things flare up with Iran/SofH, Pakistan may decide it’s not worth having Americans start WWIII in their backyard (more accurately: their western flank) and could deny US naval ships access to any Pakistani port.

    We don’t give the big wet checks to Pakistan anymore; our Afghan shenanigans have cost them $70 billion, and the populace is furious at us for killing their citizens.

    The Chinese and Russians are courting the Pakistanis and want it to be part of their Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is developing a “financing mechanism for joint projects, including special accounts and development banks.” (Announced in October 2011.) They dont want the US in any part of it. Leaving the US and the west to stew in their own oil problem by closing up the Pakistani beach-head (perhaps protected with Chinese and Russian soldiers) could forestall an attack on Iran and bring this country to its knees.

    Look at the map. If Pakistan closes up their beach-head, the US is screwed. China just made a deal with Turkmenistan to buy all their gas–as in the last 30 days: “China Plans To Buy All Turkmenistan’s Gas To Scuttle Sales To Europe…” which means Turkmeni gas won’t be rolling out to Europe as the US-backed pipeline is planned. The only other country that has a shitload of gas is Iran, and AIPAC just screwed our pooch on that.
    link to geofinancial.blogspot.com

    (Europe can only get it’s gas from Russia’s Gazprom.)

    • irena
      December 29, 2011, 3:46 pm

      MRW, you bring up an excellent point and goes a long to explain the flawed American foreign policy that has over the years burned Pakistan who has now realized their historical alliances with US has only damaged them. This is not to say Pakistan is innocent but a lot can be explained by US actions. Bill Keller, surprisingly, had a pretty good article on NYT (link to nytimes.com) which you should read when you can but I would like to quote an excerpt:
      The Pakistani version of modern history is one of American betrayal, going back at least to the Kennedy administration’s arming of Pakistan’s archrival, India, in the wake of its 1962 border war with China.
      The most consequential feat of American opportunism came when we enlisted Pakistan to bedevil the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Pakistan — with help from Saudi Arabia — created the perfect thorn in the Soviet underbelly: young Muslim “freedom fighters,” schooled in jihad at Pakistani madrassas, laden with American surface-to-air missiles and led by charismatic warriors who set aside tribal rivalries to war against foreign occupation.
      After the Soviets admitted defeat in 1989, the U.S. — mission accomplished! — pulled out, leaving Pakistan holding the bag: several million refugees, an Afghanistan torn by civil war and a population of jihadists who would find new targets for their American-supplied arms. In the ensuing struggle for control of Afghanistan, Pakistan eventually sided with the Taliban, who were dominated by the Pashtun tribe that populates the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier. The rival Northern Alliance was run by Tajiks and Uzbeks and backed by India; and the one thing you can never underestimate is Pakistan’s obsession with bigger, richer, better-armed India.
      As long as Pakistan was our partner in tormenting the Soviet Union, the U.S. winked at Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program. After all, India was developing a nuclear arsenal, and it was inevitable that Pakistan would follow suit. But after the Soviets retreated, Pakistan was ostracized under a Congressional antiproliferation measure called the Pressler Amendment, stripped of military aid (some of it budgeted to bring Pakistani officers to the U.S. for exposure to American military values and discipline) and civilian assistance (most of it used to promote civil society and buy good will).
      Our relationship with Pakistan sometimes seems like a case study in unintended consequences. The spawning of the mujahadeen is, of course, Exhibit A. The Pressler Amendment is Exhibit B. And Exhibit C might be America’s protectionist tariffs on Pakistan’s most important export, textiles. For years, experts, including a series of American ambassadors in Islamabad, have said that the single best thing the U.S. could do to pull Pakistan into the modern world is to ease trade barriers, as it has done with many other countries. Instead of sending foreign aid and hoping it trickles down, we could make it easier for Americans to buy Pakistani shirts, towels and denims, thus lifting an industry that is an incubator of the middle class and employs many women. Congress, answerable to domestic textile interests, has had none of it.
      “Pakistan was the cold-war friend, the Soviet-Afghan-war friend, the terror-war friend,” the minister said. “As soon as the wars ended, so did the assistance. The sense of being discarded is so recent.”
      A Boston University-educated economist who made his money in private equity investing — in other words, a cosmopolitan man — Shaikh seemed slightly abashed by his own bitterness.
      “I’m not saying that this style of Pakistani thinking is analytically correct,” he said. “I’m just telling you how people feel.”
      He waved an arm toward his dining room, where he hung a Warhol of Muhammad Ali. “We’re just supposed to be like Ali — take the beating for seven rounds from Foreman,” he said. “But this time the Pakistanis have wised up. We are playing the game, but we know you can’t take these people at their word.”

      That Shaikh dude seems to be right on mark with the “playing the game” comment given how Pakistan has rejected the (ludicrous) report on the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers and refused to take part in the conference in Germany. In addition to that, the most powerful institutions in Pakistan are the military and the intelligence agency, ISI, both of which acquiesced to the drone operations. Even Wikileaks cables indicated that the military intended to condemn the drone attacks in public to ameliorate the sentiments shared by the civilian population over the horrendous drones (link to wired.com) but at the same time, allow US to carry the drone attacks regardless of civilian loss. Why? Because it was promised military aid but now that the Congress wants to end that along with growing anger shared by the Pakistani people, the army will look out for itself and think three times before even considering support for any US operations.
      All of this will only lead downhill.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 29, 2011, 4:05 pm

        here’s a good current pakistan post on moon of alabama

      • irena
        December 29, 2011, 4:16 pm

        Great link Annie, and if you follow up with the three incidents of American ditching of Pakistani interests mentioned in the article I quoted, this move in Qatar can be said to be fourth. Another interesting point is Turkey’s significant shift in foreign policy which is directed towards the Arab world after EU consistently refused Turkey. And Turkey-Pakistan relations are VERY strong, add to that China’s alliance with Pakistan and you have Pakistan sitting in a tight spot with emerging world powers without the need of the fair-weather friend, USA.

      • MRW
        December 29, 2011, 6:25 pm

        There are two interesting comments on annie’s MoA link by a Don Bacon.

        One

        news report, Dec 27, 2011:
        Iran plans to export one million tons of oil products annually to Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing an agreement between the two countries. The products include gas oil, jet fuel and gasoline, the official news agency said, citing the accord signed yesterday by the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co. and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce. //

        So much for ‘crippling sanctions,’ and guess which country’s taxpayers will pay Iran for the fuel.

        Two

        The US appears to have made a strategic decision to ally with India and hang Pakistan out to dry. India has large investments in Afghanistan, as well as aid, and has built a road from Afghanistan to the Gulf of Oman. The Zaranj – Delaram road, built by India’s Border Roads Organization, is part of a larger Indo-Iranian project that will connect Kandahar and Herat to Iran’s Chahbahar Port on the Persian Gulf, a new Indian-financed port in Iran.

        The financing and engineering assistance from India is not limited to the port. India, wishing to bypass Pakistan, besides the Zaranj – Delaram road leading from the port into Afghanistan there is a planned railroad to Afghanistan. Iranian officials state that they wish to have Bandar Abbas remain as the port for Russian and European trade and have Chabahar become the port for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia.

        This would be the “Silk Road” that the U.S. is promoting. It wouldn’t involve Pakistan, but how to involve Iran? If the U.S. only had some troops in Southeast Iran to keep things ‘stabilized.’ Maybe there’s a way. Perhaps a new crisis could be invented?

        Not a chance. Pakistan won’t want two wars on each end of its country. Back to the map, and remember where the mountains are highest (google for photos…they are starkly magnificent). The US has already made incursions by proxy into southeast Iran, stirring up trouble and trying to destabilize the area, but if Pakistan closes up the access to Pakistan from the Gulf of Oman/Arabian Sea, and Iran protects the Indo-Iranian road coming down from Afghanistan from sabotage (because India is aligned with Israel and the US), then the game changes. Iran has a million-man military, highly trained too. (Could the Indians have been the ones that got the Stuxnet virus in?)

        Interesting times.

  7. MHughes976
    December 29, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I still think Obama will find a way to avoid an election-year war.

    • Krauss
      December 29, 2011, 4:09 pm

      He wants to find a way, but the question is if Israel will let him?
      And he knows very well that if Netanyahu decides to attack, Bibi will drop the idea mere weeks(at best) before it commences and then the lobby will force Obama to help out, or he’ll be smeared by just about everyone in the media as a muslim convert, an anti-Semite and worse.

      Of course, Obama isn’t a hapless victim. He knew who his masters were when he was sworn in. He serves the corporations in the first place, the Israel Lobby is more of a sideshow in his administration. But of course, since his administration has gone beserk on wars more so than any other administration, even he is vulnerable and that proves the enduring popularity by Ron Paul.

      If you look at the latest polls he has kept his numbers or in some cases even increased them. Granted, republican voters are very stiffnecked who view any contempt shown by the MSM as a badge of honor, so in some ways the smear might actually have given Paul a backhanded upward push.

      Nontheless, Paul’s not important here; it’s the deep resentment of war in America.
      In the story on Paul at the Forward, where Abe Foxman essentially dismisses all Paul supporters as ‘extremists’ and ‘anti-Semites’, there were a lot of Jews in the comments’ section saying they supported Paul.

      The American Jewish establishment is slowly going out of step with your average Jew, even if it’s a slow-moving process. Many are still trapped by Zionism(the new ‘Golden Calf’), but more and more have stronger and stronger affinities for America at the detriment of Israel. I’m not predicting a huge surge of support for Paul among Jews here, but I was surprised by the mixed reaction by people in the (left-leaning) Forward. I expected the usual claptrap about ‘nazi Paul’ and other gibberish.

      I think what the nation needs now is a Reagan-esque president, only this time coming from the left of Obama, going to war against the Wall St lobby, the Israel lobby, the Big Oil lobby, the pharmalobby and basically saying, it’s not enough to pass a few crap laws here and there. We need to root out money out of our system alltogether. Glass-Steagall needs to be reinstituted, foreign wars closed down and the rest of it.

      I think the country is ready for a genuine populist, an intelligent(which sort of makes the candidate more wittier than Reagan) but also a very charming candidate who doesn’t lack conviction or pure balls to go after the special interests. If the people are behind him/her, the lobby would lose in the end, even if the fight would be pretty bloody and brutal.

      Paul for me is a bridge – at best – he can never solve the problems facing this country but his foreign policy would be a huge bonus on the Obama disaster we now have. And this shows yet again in how he kowtows to the lobby without even fightning. I can understand if he loses after a long, hard fight. If the lobby simply gets the best of him, but he doens’t even try. He hardly raises an objection, just meeks a little bit and then folds in a flash.

      • ritzl
        December 30, 2011, 2:25 am

        @Krauss “Paul for me is a bridge – at best – he can never solve the problems facing this country but his foreign policy would be a huge bonus on the Obama disaster we now have.”

        My dream ticket would be Kucinich/Paul or flip. DK served exactly this role as mayor of Cleveland. He exposed the issues but was way to confrontational to solve them. Paul operates in the same “no man’s land”, imo. Point being, the issues need to be exposed to full national daylight and let the voters decide. None of the usual candidates/”suspects” will do that.

      • dahoit
        December 30, 2011, 1:25 pm

        Do you mean Dennis Kucinich of UFO fame?The guy is a good guy,but really,do you think Republicans will vote for him,or even Democrats?The latest I read over in Salon was Jill Stein?Really now,a Jewish woman for POTUS?Rocky Anderson?Gary Johnson?C’mon,this crap is just getting stupid.The newest angle from the alleged liberals is that Dr.Pauls statement that Israels affairs are Israels to rise or fall on their own decisions as being Pro war and pro Israeli are laughable.He’s just reiterating the principle of sovereignty,ours and theirs,is subject to it’s own agenda.
        No foreign aid for all of these independent actors.It’s not our business,America is.

      • Kathleen
        December 30, 2011, 11:30 am

        ” there were a lot of Jews in the comments’ section saying they supported Paul.

        The American Jewish establishment is slowly going out of step with your average Jew, even if it’s a slow-moving process. Many are still trapped by Zionism(the new ‘Golden Calf’), but more and more have stronger and stronger affinities for America at the detriment of Israel.”

        Talked with hundreds of Jews at the anti invasion marches before the invasion of Iraq. All were taking a stance against the lies being repeated. The pendulum is still shifting and Obama and team need to really recognize. Being a friend to Israel means taking away any support for their ongoing expansion of illegal settlements. Period. That is being Israel’s best friend.

  8. justicewillprevail
    December 29, 2011, 3:48 pm

    AIPAC runs US foreign policy. It couldn’t be clearer or more obnoxious. A belligerent little racist state forces the US into another war without end, one in which the racist state won’t have to risk anything, and will still take billions of the US taxpayer, whose kids’ lives will be on the line for their ideological fantasies. The whole of Congress are pathetic scumbags who pay homage to a cult whose interests are antithetical to the US founding principles. Not that they could care less.

    • Charon
      December 29, 2011, 4:31 pm

      Emphasis on the forcing of the US into another endless war. Embargoes and Economic sanctions are an act of war, especially when a nation’s economy is significantly impacted by them. Just ask Japan circa 1941. Iran has threatened to close the Straits before as a possible response to an attack on their nuclear sites. This threat is serious business. The US response saying they won’t allow them to do so doesn’t mean they won’t try and either way Americans are going to being paying the price at the gas pump in any scenario. An American response might as well be an attack on their nuclear sites. The result in either case is war. A war where congress prevents the US from any diplomatic approach, something that is all-out insanity.

      I agree with MHuhes976 above. Obama will do anything to prevent a war during an election year. These special interest groups are forcing his hand, backing him into a corner, but it’s only going to look bad for them in the end. It won’t lead to war. War destroyed our economy. War made our gas prices stabilize at a rate 3x what it had been for ages. Any US/NATO/Israel attack on Iran is a suicide attack.

    • Kathleen
      December 30, 2011, 11:31 am

      Willing to take us down

    • dahoit
      December 30, 2011, 1:28 pm

      Yes,they are belligerent out of all proportion to their size and importance,but aint we also?

  9. dumvitaestspesest
    December 29, 2011, 4:59 pm

    Interesting article from the Voice of Russia.
    “Another war for US”?
    link to english.ruvr.ru

    also Kyrgyzstan has no further intentions to host American military base on its territory.
    link to english.ruvr.ru

  10. ToivoS
    December 29, 2011, 5:21 pm

    I believe that the US, at the highest levels of the bureaucracy (military, CIA, DoS), decided against an Iranian war. It was clear Bush accepted this in 2007 as has Obama. What we are seeing here is a full court press by the neocons and Israel to force the US into this war. I remain optimistic that they will fail but if the chances are even 20% that they could precipitate an irreversible crisis that still means that Israel has way to much power inside the US. I suspect there are rational people behind the scenes that are pushing back hard. They should be worried. In fact, a measure of the worry was Thomas Friedman’s unbelievably candid article last week.

    The consequences for an all out shooting war for the US could be huge. First it is out of the question for the US to try to defeat Iran on the ground. Practically, that would require a million man army. We simply do not have a force that size. It would have to be an air and naval engagement. We would control the air but it is questionable that we could control the sea. It is quite possible that the US navy could lose all of its warships stationed in the Gulf (see my comments over at Walts blog to the article referenced above if curious). If that happened it is almost impossible to predict how the US would react — go nuclear? sue for peace? find a face-saving way to retreat?

    The political and diplomatic repercussions that would surely follow would be major. Again unpredictable, but I notice above that whatever happened Russia and China would reap the benefits and very possibly expansion of SCO to include Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is one silver lining in this largely dark cloud — the political backlash would be so severe we should be able to say good-bye to the lobby. Another possible plus is that Europe would dissolve Nato and ask to US to remove its bases.

    So much speculation for something that will probably not happen. But dangerous times to be sure.

    • MRW
      December 29, 2011, 9:04 pm

      ToivoS,

      Agree with you absolutely about the sea; not so sure about the air. We can’t fly in from the west. Iran is too well fortified in that mountain range (Zagros Mtns) and we would be flying a good 1/3 over Iranian territory before we get to anything Israel/US wants to bomb. We’d be (I was going to say ‘sitting ducks’) but we’d be just ducks in hunting season. Look at the topo of the region. Scott Ritter said those mountains are heavily fortified with advanced anti-aircraft missiles and equipment, and I don’t remember a war the US has fought in the last 50 years that was fought (1) at such high elevations, and (2) in such mountainous conditions. Look at Estafan. They’d have to run a gauntlet.
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      The only way we can do it is from the North (Russia has its fleet there) or the southeast, where Iran can use anti-aircraft missiles from their ships, or fire from the mountain tops as they proceed NW.

      The Israelis have never fought above sea level. Their idea of long distance air drills is to fly out over the beautiful Mediterranean to Gibraltar and back. Some of those mountains in Iran are 18,000+ ft. high…with guns in them.

      Israel is taking up too much national oxygen from us with these meshugenah pretensions and paranoid, psychopathic pipedreams.

      • ToivoS
        December 29, 2011, 11:24 pm

        MRW these are all very good points. I would imagine that the US AF could enter Iran and leave without unacceptable damage. But that war has not yet been fought so who knows what would happen. Serbia was a sitting duck and they managed to shoot down one of our supposedly “invisible” stealth fighter bombers so who knows what Iran might do.

        Having said that, if Israel attempted an attack on Iran it would be a fiasco. Or else militarily insignificant. I suspect that they could use those 6 submarines that were just gifted to them by Germany to launch a bunch of cruise missiles into Iran. However, if one looks into the size of the payloads on those missiles they would be militarily irrelevant. To be sure, they might be able to kill hundreds of civilians, but the most military significant fact of that kind of action would be to really piss off the Iranians. The Israeli AF is just too far away from Iran to be an important factor.

        The one thing an Israeli assault on Iran might very well trigger is an Iranian reaction to sink US warships in the Gulf. And I believe that is something they can do. My worry is how will the US react if Israel attacks Iran and the next step is a few thousand dead sailors from the US Navy. That would create one of those unpredictable situations. Would we go nuclear? No one knows.

      • MRW
        December 30, 2011, 7:48 am

        ToivoS, your last paragraph is the crux of it. Iran does have Russian ‘Sunburn’ and ‘Onyx’ missiles. One can obliterate a US aircraft carrier, and we have no antidote to it no matter what the bluster tries to say. It’s a matter of who says Uncle first, right? The consequences are terrifying. Like that guy who started WWI. I’m hoping the Iranians are more level-headed than we are. Israel should be hauled before the ICJ over this brinkmanship.

      • Hostage
        December 30, 2011, 7:57 am

        We can’t fly in from the west. Iran is too well fortified in that mountain range (Zagros Mtns) and we would be flying a good 1/3 over Iranian territory before we get to anything Israel/US wants to bomb.

        The main objection from the military would be to starting yet another unprovoked war against a Muslim country. That simply isn’t in the US national strategic interest. This war would also be a flagrantly illegal act under international law that would provoke demands for an appropriate response from the Iranian public and Shi’a or allied factions in other countries alike. With the advent of the ICC, those responses aren’t necessarily limited to military, terrorist, or non-penal options. For example, Iran has taken the US to the ICJ and to an international court of arbitration as a result of previous US military attacks, e.g. :

        In its Judgment, which is final, without appeal and binding on the Parties, the Court finds first, by fourteen votes to two, that “the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 and 18 April 1988 cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America under Article XX, paragraph 1 (d), of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between the United States of America and Iran, as interpreted in the light of international law on the use of force”

        –ICJ Oil Platforms case (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America) 2003 link to icj-cij.org

        The governent of Iraq had already threatened to join the ICC during the Bush era. They only reversed the decision under heavy pressure from the US and its occupying force. There is no statute of limitations for any acts committed after July of 2002, and the US occupying forces have departed. So, another attack on its powerful Shi’a neighbor might result in legal blowback for the US. It’s a certainty that the Pentgon and State Department legal advisors have pointed all of this out to the White House.

        Neither Israel nor the US are in any position to control the response of all of the other parties in the region. The USAF could undoubtedly employ B2 Stealth bombers on round trip missions from Whiteman AFB to attack the targets, but you can’t defend the Strait of Hormuz from Missouri. There would have to be multiple sorties, bomb damage assessment, and follow-up strikes in order to seriously impair Iran’s capabilities So, we are not talking about a single strike like the one on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Even if it were possible to protect oil tankers and pipelines in the region from attack, the effect of a war on the commodity trading and global reinsurance prices would probably be disastrous. If you look at the disruptions inflicted on the Egyptian pipeline to Israel and Jordan you can get some idea of the problems facing other countries in the region with hundreds of miles of strategic pipelines and groups of citizens opposed to US and Israeli intervention.

    • dahoit
      December 30, 2011, 1:40 pm

      How many Exocet missiles does Iran have?I distinctly remember the British being unhappily surprised by even those relatively outdated armaments which destroyed the Sheffield and immolated many British sailors.(the flash point of aluminum right?)
      Was the sinking of the retreating Belgrano a form of payback,or were the events in reverse,a payback by the Argentines?
      And don’t look now,but that area is heating up again,as Britain tries to retain lonely outposts of its imperialist past,a fruitless and stupid endeavor,sort of like an old whore putting on more makeup to hide her failing countenance,when she should try to regain her domestic constituents confidence by concerning itself with its peoples welfare.

      • Hostage
        December 30, 2011, 3:43 pm

        And don’t look now,but that area is heating up again,as Britain tries to retain lonely outposts of its imperialist past,a fruitless and stupid endeavor,sort of like an old whore putting on more makeup to hide her failing countenance,when she should try to regain her domestic constituents confidence by concerning itself with its peoples welfare.

        Yes. The Rome Statute doesn’t provide for member states to exclude territories under their jurisdiction. Great Britain caused a stir when it belatedly provided a list of some (but not all) of its dependent territories and claimed they were now effectively covered by the ICC’s jurisdiction. Argentina objected that the Falkland/Malvinas Islands were already covered by its accession. The bigger question was if Great Britain was trying to exempt dependent territories, like the Chagos Islands, where it has been accused of crimes against humanity in connection with the removal of the inhabitants and the lease to the United States of the base on Diego Garcia. See Territorial Declarations and the Rome Statute link to humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com

      • ToivoS
        December 30, 2011, 8:49 pm

        Dahoit to answer your questions. I believe Argentina had 6 exocets during the Falkland war, while Iran (an estimate made in 2003) has a ‘couple hundred’. Those missiles are deadly enough and by themselves could over whelm Aegis in a swarm attack even if they are subsonic. But we have been talking about two other antiship missiles that are even worse. These are the Russian provided ramjet, cruise missiles that are supersonic (too fast for Aegis to defend against) and self guided (no need for external radar guidance). These are the sunburn and yakhonts (onyx?) missiles (the Chinese also produce replicas that are called ‘silkworm’).

        In some neocon articles I have seen claims that the Iranians do not have these weapons but there are reports from about 2000 or so that they bought a number of sunburns from the Russians. A recent AP article by Lee Keith (link to news.yahoo.com) does not mention them at all. This could be some deluded thinking on their part if they really believe what they are saying.

  11. lobewyper
    December 29, 2011, 6:01 pm

    “There is one silver lining in this largely dark cloud — the political backlash would be so severe we should be able to say good-bye to the lobby.”

    Agree, but I sure hope you aren’t also suggesting America’s loyal Israeli supporters would change sides merely over a few dollars more in the price of gas… :)

    • ToivoS
      December 30, 2011, 1:37 am

      Dear lobewyper — no I do not think they would, but I do believe that many Americans who value our interests would stop listening to them. That would be major progress. Maybe I am too optimistic but that is what we should all strive for — stop listening to the Zionist. Is that antisemitic? I hope not because that is my position.

  12. jimmy
    December 30, 2011, 7:01 am

    the only thing that will stop aipac and friends from these types of sedation against the US..

    is for people to start barking and barking loud at their congresspeople…

    ask your congressperson to explain how any of this helps the american people…and dont accept anything less than their reversal of support…

  13. Theo
    December 30, 2011, 8:35 am

    As the war drums beat gets frenzier, the prices on the NYSE keep climing, proving the point made a long time ago: when the cannons thunder, buy all the shares you can.

    However, the majority of us will not like the consequences if this artificial hystery over Iran´r nuclear plans turns into a shooting war.
    I remember the 1973 oil embargo when in Europe driving on sundays were forbidden, and in my opinion that was just a mild reaction. This time the war will take place right in the center of the 40% supply of the world oil resources and if Iran should close the Hormus Straight, what in my opinion they will do, we must face a worse financial crises than the 1930 depression.
    Even without an oil crises we have a great financial crises that may turn into a deep depression, with a war with Iran it is a certainty.

    Why Iran and not N. Korea, a land I hold more irresponsible?
    They both have nuclear programs, however N. Korea is not in the sphare where Israel is building an empire called Erez Israel.
    Iran is, and it is the only power remaining in the ME who is not friendly to Israel, after we destroyed Iraq and Syria is destroying itself. Iran can face down Israel in military force, because an air power will never decide the outcome of a war and Israel have no army that can fight a long outdrawn conflict.

    Not the nuclear program of Iran is the main reason why we may end up in another war and a deep deep depression, but Israel´s hegemony in the ME.
    Are the average americans ready to pay another terrible price for it or will they finally grow balls and chase those traitors in Washington out of the office? Will they finally say, that is enough?
    I would not bet on it.

  14. VR
    December 30, 2011, 10:31 am

    For the most part I can tell that many people here still believe the rhetoric in regard to the “poor Obama” repetition, which means many have learned absolutely nothing. Few understand that those in power do not serve them, and that they will gladly gut you and do as they please – because you show them they can do it by the tenor of the conversations. Continuously hoping you will be represented to some degree of satisfaction in this farce, it is really getting old. What are you going to do when Obama wears the “war president” badge with honor like his predecessor? I think a quoted verse from the last post on my site amply shows the condition of slavish thought processes displayed here for the most part –

    “We justify our cowardice to the forces that oppress us with a discourse of moralizing humanism. The rejection of revolutionary violence is anchored in the spirit of those who oppose the system while defending the values it teaches.”

    ON MODERN SERVITUDE

    To not even understand what is thought of you by those you systemically bow too in this current nightmare just seems to be par for the course, why don’t you look at the public bills that address you (not just have a cursory article) that are going to be sitting on the “poor embattled” presidents desk which he intends to sign, what a joke –

    INDEFINITE DETENTION OF AMERICANS AND SOPA – THE WAR IS ON

    • Keith
      December 30, 2011, 1:19 pm

      VR- What many Mondoweissers fail to comprehend is that George W. Bush was “Obama Lite.” We are entering extraordinarily dark times.

  15. snowdrift
    December 30, 2011, 11:55 am

    the Obama administration doesn’t trust that the average voter is going to draw the distinction between the benefits of delaying Iran’s nuclear program and the higher prices at the gas tank. It’s really a tough one to explain

    God I love these euphemisms — no shit, the average voter doesn’t really care about Iran and is going to have a hard time grasping what are the benefits of sanctioning Iran, since there are none for the average American. Would you believe that! Voters don’t care about hegemonic games taking place thousands of miles away, especially when they’re being fueled by another country.

  16. kalithea
    January 1, 2012, 12:59 am

    Poo-poo lil’ pitiful O’bambi was presssssured. MY ASSSSSSS!

    Boooooooooo! Stop making O’bomb-a, lord of the Drone, look like a victim, already. He’s signed, sealed and delivered by the Zionist Lobby!

    I hope this move sinks the U.S. economy further and people ready their pitchforks to storm Congress and AIPAC’S headquarters — it’s time for the REVOLUTION!

    O’BOMB just signed onto AN ACT OF WAR. Was Iran naive enough to imagine that if they didn’t develop the bomb, they wouldn’t be attacked? Whether they have it or not is irrelevant to the lords of war. It’s not a question of “if” but “when”. They better be stocking their arsenal for what’s heading their way.

    F.U. O’BOMB-A for the fraud you turned out to be!

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