The Wizard of Oz
Last weekend the New York Times published an article asserting that neocon Bill Kristol's Emergency Committee for Israel has "dominated the debate" on the push for war with Iran. No surprise there. One voice we have not heard much of in the mainstream media in this 'debate', is the voice of ordinary people who either outright reject or are uninterested in another war.
Ordinary voices have been drowned out, ignored and vastly underrepresented. Who represents us in the mainstream media? Us--meaning people like me who have no interest in another war.
This morning Mondoweiss commenter piotr directed us to a recent NYT editorial, Iran, Israel and the United States, reflecting "It is hard to believe, but the comments in NYT look like Mondoweiss." What if the readers' votes on comments reflect a wider swath of mainstream opinion than we've been led to believe by polls and pundits?
Here are the reader's 13 top pick comments published unedited:
This is a high risk situation above my pay scale since I don't have access to the sensitive intel those calling the shots (no pun intended) have. But it's frightening the way the rhetoric has ratcheted up in the past few weeks (no help from the NYT!) from the GOP candidates and Netanyahu.
After an exhausting 10 years at war, including one with incorrect or doctored facts (Iraq) I'm strongly in favor of Obama's full press to let sanctions and diplomacy play out. It lends credibility to us and undermines the ready-fire-aim crowd.
Of course I support Israel and its right to exist. But it gets my blood pressure up when I see members of Congress and candidates for president genuflecting at AIPAC year after year. The craving of money and votes from a specific powerful demographic doesn't exactly reassure me that our best foreign policy interests are at the top of their list. Winning an election is.
Obama has it right and it IS reassuring.
March 5, 2012 at 11:50 p.m.
I am really struggling with President Obama's approach on this issue. Military action against Iran would be pure folly - it would either get us mired in another long term military quagmire that we cannot afford, or it would do little except further alienate and undermine the pro-democracy activists in Iran. Both US intelligence agencies and Mossad say that Iran is not currently trying to develop a nuclear weapon. And even if Iran were, a containment strategy is no more risky than is military action. As such, President Obama's willingness to keep military action on the table is highly disturbing.
That being said, I suspect that Obama has determined that the commitment to a military backstop is the only way to reign in the hawks in Israel and keep them from acting rashly. And making sure there is not a rush to war, such as the one with Iraq, is critically important.
And in evaluating President Obama's approach, it is important to compare it to that offered by his Republican opponents. Bloodthirsty folks like Santorum and Gingrich are virtually salivating over war in Iran, while Romney is showing once again that he cannot stand up to the reactionaries that have taken over the GOP.
March 5, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.
MT Vernon, NH
Here we go again.
Ramping up the rhetoric, sanctions, threats, etc. I guess the war lobby hasn't had enough.
I keep hearing pundits declare Israel our strongest ally. Why is that exactly? Aren't they the same country that essentially thumbed their nose at Obama and his efforts to bring peace to the region? Not sure how strongest ally is defined.
We should be telling Israel now that if they unilaterally attack Iran, they are on their own. We should not get sucked into yet another conflict in that part of the world. Time for us to focus on the US and quit trying to be the policeman to the world -especially since the last few adventures we have embarked on have arguably made the situations worse, unless of course you are looking at war contractors' bank balances and corrupt leaders' Swiss bank account balances. Our adventurism has only hastened our decline in world standing and is close to leaving us broke.
March 6, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.
The U,S. should not let its foreign policy vis a vis Iran be dictated by Israel, but that is what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is trying to do. And he has been willing to go around President Obama to AIPAC and the U.S. Congress to accomplish his goals.
All available information says that Iran is not currently working on developing a nuclear weapon. Thanks, probably, to sanctions either already in place or threatened, Iran is showing renewed interest in negotiating. We should follow this path, even if it leads nowhere, before engaging in saber rattling.
I think that we should make it clear to Netanyahu that if he starts war action against Iran, he may wind up acting on his own. Apparently, that's what Obama would like to do, but he is being pushed by AIPAC and Congress to say something stronger in order to placate Netanyahu. But the risks and costs of the U.S. becoming involved in a war with Iran would be high, so that should be a very, very last resort!
March 5, 2012 at 11:50 p.m.
This is a disgraceful and even shocking editorial. Obama and Netanyahu "share responsiblity" for the strains in their relationship! I guess The Times thinks Obama's to blame for his pathetic and quickly-abandoned effort to get Israel to abide by international law and stop building on Palestinian land. Israel is the country that actually has nuclear weapons, not Iran, and it is the country that is occupying and subjugating another people.
March 6, 2012 at 5:53 a.m.
We Americans should make a clear distinction between Israel and its people vs. Benjamin Netayahu and his backers in analyzing the Iranian issue. In contrast to many of his predecesors and a good portion of the Israeli people, Netayahu is a not very bright, highly malicious hawk intent on taking Israel to war and dragging the US into the battle at any cost to consolidate his power in Israel.
Proof of his maliciousness is the fact that he would choose this moment in the US election process to put Obama up against a wall: Either you back us or you will loose the Jewish vote and hence the presidency is what he in effect telling Obama.
Neither the US nor the world can allow themselves to be dragged into a conflict between two mad men, one in Israel and the other in Iran who are only concerned with their personal political success.
Israel will be just fine even if Iran gets a nuclear bomb. Israel, Pakistan and many other countries today have nuclear bombs, yet no one would dream of using them for fear that if they did, it would be a prelude to their own distruction. We survived the cold war based on the principle of mutually assured destruction. There is no reason why that principle should not work now.
March 6, 2012 at 4:32 a.m.
Prof.Jai Prakash Sharma,
Without even waiting for any conclusive evidence to surface about the threatening nature of Iranian nuclear programme either through the IAEA or any reliable independent international observer group or individual, how far is it justified to malign Iran and put it on a media trial, as the NYT Editorial seems to be doing, rather prematurely pronouncing an adverse judgment on its nuclear intentions, ignoring even the legitimate claims of Iran to pursue its nuclear course for peaceful purposes as a sovereign NPT signatory nation well under the IAEA watch? Does it not amount to extending a blind support to the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who under his extreme paranoia and belligerence seems hell bent to arouse war hysteria against Iran without considering the serious risks involved in such a course, much against the US persuasion, his own people's desire and international opinion? It all seems to have been cleverly timed with the impending US presidential elections, thinking that, his actions might escape retaliation or the US censure due to the domestic electoral compulsions involving the strong American Jewish vote bank. Nonetheless, if Netanyahu goes ahead with such intransigence, it might really prove catastrophic for Israel, the Middle East region, and the world at large. The world can't afford to have yet another flash-point ( may be nuclear) in the Middle East just because of an overly ambitious and self-aggrandising individual, like Netanyahu.
March 5, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Israel has the support of the United States; however, Israeli interests are not necessarily American interests. Our American President is not beholden to Israel, or AIPAC. If Republicans continue to spoil for a unilateral ground war with Iran, this will establish their bona fides as a party with no regard for American troops or American treasure. I hope we don't allow ourselves to be fooled again.
March 6, 2012 at 5:53 a.m.
William M. Shaw
Both the editorial and the readers' responses are thoughtful in the deepest tradition of the NYT. The US cannot stand another war. We wish Israel well, but we cannot allow Netanyahu to embroil us in yet another war that we cannot win. Stand tall, Mr. President.
March 6, 2012 at 4:24 a.m.
A few important items have not been mentioned in either the Times editorial or the comments so far:
The use of force or the threat of force is prohibited by the UN Charter, except in response to an armed attack or under the authorization of the Security Council. A "preventive" military "strike" (war) by Israel or the United States is simply illegal. Why is this off the agenda in this discussion?
Israel is the state in the Middle East that has started a nuclear arms race. In cooperating with Israel's policy of "nuclear ambiguity" - by not bringing the fact of a nuclear-armed Israel to the discussion - the Times and President Obama undermine the possibility of realistic diplomacy. Why are Israel's nuclear weapons off the agenda in the Times reporting?
According to UN Security Council Resolutions supported by the United States, the UN has committed to the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. The Times has published excellent pieces in the past advocating a nuclear weapons-free zone. Why now, when this is such an obvious solution to the threat of war, is discussion of a nuclear weapons-free zone not permissible in the Times editorials?
March 6, 2012 at 5:37 a.m.
New York, NY
There's no doubt that Iran has Israel in its sights and I'm not for one minute negating Israel's precarious proximity to Iran. *However*: it would be incredibly unwise for Israel to preemptively attack Iran, and I fervently hope that neither we nor the Israelis have to take retaliatory action down the road.
Unlike George W. Bush - who was actually the worst kind of "friend" Israel could have, despite his assertions to the contrary - President Obama is the *best* friend Israel has, and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.
March 5, 2012 at 11:50 p.m.
'President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel share responsibility for the strains in their relationship. But there should be no doubt about Mr. Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security'.
Tell me--what is it that President Obama has done to be responsible for the 'strains in their relationship'? If anything, he has reason to feel strong antipathy to Netanyahu--a foreign leader who is also effectively a member of the opposition party in the United States, and who is timing these escalating tensions in a transparent effort to manipulate the U.S. presidential election. Americans should be sick of the bizarre conflation of their national interests with the interests of the Israeli far-right--as evidenced perfectly by this NY Times opinion piece. Americans should be sick of being told that their government cannot afford to provide them with healthcare, but can afford to shower billions of dollars of foreign aid on another country, whose government does provide its citizens with free healthcare, so that that country can continue its belligerent occupation of another people. Americans should be sick of the obvious disrespect with which Israel treats the United States, as if it were an Israeli colony, a vast, off-shore military base for the Israeli government's territorial ambitions.
The United States should declare its independence from Israel and AIPAC.
March 6, 2012 at 5:35 a.m.
Israels demands on Iran seem disproportionate and hypocritical. Disproportionate because they aim to negate Iran's their nuclear industry based on suspicions that this will lead to a secret project to build their bomb. Netanyahu has gone an extra length to warn the whole world not to negotiate with Iran. Well that leaves only one option; force. And, hypocritical because Israel won't sign the NPT, they built their bomb surreptitiously , and more seriously, they continue to build a secret nuclear arsenal that goes beyond just self defense in the region, that has become an offensive nuclear capability with an intercontinental range. Why is this necessary? Why is this not out in open to scrutiny. Add all of this to the fact that Israel has ignored the international call to resolve the Palestinian issue, only to be brushed aside as they keep their relentless occupation plans. In sum, Israel is no victim, Israel is very much part of the problem.
March 6, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.