‘Obama will only go as far on Iran as AIPAC permits him to go’

US Politics
on 33 Comments

The other day the Senate unanimously passed an Iran sanctions act upping the pressure in an effort to preempt the talks now going on between world powers and Iran. Here (thanks to MJ Rosenberg) is AIPAC’s press release congratulating the Senate: 

WASHINGTON — AIPAC applauds the Senate for passing the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012 (S. 2101) just days before the P5 + 1 sits down again with Iran. The unanimous passage of this bill signals the Senate’s determination to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. This bill will significantly ratchet up the sanctions against Iran and provide the Obama administration another tool to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The recently revealed explosives chamber on an Iranian military base further underscores the urgency of stopping the Islamic Republic in its tracks before the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism can acquire the capability to build a nuclear weapon.

And at Huffington Post, Rosenberg says that our whole policy is being determined by AIPAC:

There is a fundamental absurdity hanging over negotiations with Iran, and I fear it could doom the whole enterprise.

It is the position of AIPAC as adopted by the Congress of the United States. This president is likely to only go as far as AIPAC (or the Israel lobby at large) will permit him to go. Given that the Iranian government is aware of that fact and given that it knows that the lobby has been agitating for war for a decade, it can hardly be a surprise that Iran is not particularly responsive to our demands. It understands that the U.S. demands are AIPAC’s (ultimately Prime Minister Netanyahu’s) demands and it knows that there will be no satisfying them.

There are so many ironies here, the first being that AIPAC (and the Congress that is under its sway) is far more hawkish than the Israeli military and intelligence communities, not to mention the Israeli public….

The Israel lobby is the cloud hanging over the Iran talks. Even today, as the Iran talks reconvene, three Senate lobby stalwarts — Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) — have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal demanding that the Obama administration accept nothing less than zero uranium enrichment by the Iranians, even though that train left the station a long time ago. That is, of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position, one designed to sabotage talks, not to advance them.

Of course, there are other signs (which the Iranians no doubt see) indicating that the U.S. will not be negotiating in good faith. Just yesterday Vice President Joseph Biden met with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations to assure the assembled leaders that the U.S. has no intention of doing anything on Iran that Netanyahu would not approve. Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also met with the hawkish group to reassure them of U.S. fealty. On Monday, the Senate piled on new Iran sanctions on top of the ones we already have in place which are already inflicting heavy punishment on the Iranian people (although not on their leaders). And then there is the “no containment” resolution which passed the House overwhelmingly and which says that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, the president must attack Iran.

The bottom line is that U.S. Iran policy is made by and for Netanyahu and the lobby. No matter what progress comes out of the Baghdad negotiations, Congress — at the lobby’s bidding — will immediately move to thwart it.

The Israel lobby’s influence poses a threat to world peace now….

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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33 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    May 24, 2012, 10:42 am

    nobody is fooled here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/talks-on-iranian-nukes-in-limbo/story-e6frg6so-1226366141962

    several outlets said Iran had essentially been handed Israeli demands.

    • lysias
      May 24, 2012, 11:10 am

      The Australian is a Murdoch paper.

    • Ira Glunts
      May 24, 2012, 12:55 pm

      Along that line, Ha’aretz has a headline that reads, “Iranian official: The representatives of the [six] powers sound like senior Israel officials.” This is from an Iranian news source. The article refers to “an impasse” in the negotiations. Maybe, the Israelis are just flattering themselves. ; )

      It seems that stopping enriching uranium to 20% seems like a concession to the Iranians, since under the NPT they have that right to do so. However, the U.S. prefers, as the Israelis, that the Iranians do not enrich, so the U.S. may figure that “allowing” Iran to enrich at all, is a concession on their part. I think that Iran came to the table because the powers said that the talks would be conducted according to the framework of the NPT.

      The Russians officially criticized the US Congress for its recent sanctions resolution. The Chinese have also criticized imposing future sanctions. Both the Russian and Chinese met with the Iranians without the others.

      According to FARS there is some confusion as to whether this round is over.

      I read Iran wants the powers to call off the increased oil embargo scheduled for July 1.

      Who knows? It does not seem to be going smoothly.

      I wonder if David Ignatious still believes the an agreement has already been made and this is all show.

      • Kathleen
        May 24, 2012, 1:40 pm

        And we never hear any MSM host, Reps etc ever mention that as a signatory of the NPT Iran has the right to enrich uranium up to 20%. That there is no hard evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. That a deal was turned down by the U.S. where Iran agreed to I believe access enriched uranium via other legal outlets. What Aipac Jinsa and the nation of Israel who continues to be unwilling to sign the NPT are demanding is absolutely absurd

      • Ira Glunts
        May 24, 2012, 2:26 pm

        Yep, Kathleen, And we could add to that the shadow war that Israel and the US are waging against Iran.

        Next talks set for June 18-19 in Moscow, according to AFP.

        I am reading that Iran almost walked out a number of times. No real progress was announced, I believe.

        At least Barak and Netanyahu have keep quiet for the last two days. I did not see anything.

  2. Annie Robbins
    May 24, 2012, 10:55 am

    let’s hope this is true

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Iran-world-powers-agree-new-round-of-talks-Diplomat/articleshow/13453500.cms

    BAGHDAD: Iran and world powers agreed on Thursday to hold a new round of nuclear talks, a diplomat involved in discussions in Baghdad said, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to give details shortly.

    “There will be more talks,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity following two days of tough discussions between Iran and the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

    • CloakAndDagger
      May 24, 2012, 8:48 pm

      I think it would be fair for me to claim a “partial” or an “incomplete” on my prediction of the talks being successfully sabotaged – which they were. While “talks” took place, Israel did manage to render them moot, but luckily there is another window in June as this current door closes.

      I think I will be brave and predict that the June talks will reach a similar “impasse”, as Israel continues to have the west insist on total cessation of enrichment and/or closure of Fordow.

      I am still predicting that Israel will not attack Iran, but despite Taxi’s optimism, I am not equally confident that we won’t.

  3. gingershot
    May 24, 2012, 11:12 am

    I’ve been very hopeful about these talks but it now seems to be that this is down to the short ones and is really a test of strength now to see if Israel and her Lobby can totally botch the recent positive developments, just as they have successfully done over the last several years

    If Israel and her Lobby are deadset against not being free to attack Iran – which they are – will success in these talks and an Israeli attack be able to be thwarted?

    • justicewillprevail
      May 24, 2012, 11:49 am

      If the talks were conducted by countries in good faith with a modicum of intelligence, I have no doubt that an agreement would be reached, one which all sane people would welcome. Unfortunately, one of the most eye-popping aspects of this round is the ease with which Israel has dictated the US position, taken over its Congress and put it in a position where Iran cannot trust it. How humiliated the US are by the upstart hooligan wanting other people to fight on their behalf.
      The best hope is that the other countries (barring the UK, who are desperate to suck up to big brother) will make headway with a rational agreement, isolating the US/Israel, highlighting the indefensibility of their aggressive attitude. Israel is behaving like a demented dictator, although I believe it has an ulterior motive much closer to home, aka transfer and ethnic cleansing, under the cover of more US bodybags.

  4. Citizen
    May 24, 2012, 11:23 am

    Sure looks like Congress is pushing Iran to crack under the pressure and slip out some pretext for Israel and USA to attack it before the presidential campaign is over. Remember the sanctions on Iraq for so many years before we attacked it, each time?

  5. lysias
    May 24, 2012, 11:33 am

    Obama is scheduled to award the Medal of Freedom to several individuals this afternoon. Reuters: Dylan, Albright to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Among the 13 people scheduled to receive the honor are Shimon Peres and Jan Karski, the Pole who revealed the Holocaust in the West in 1942-3. Karski died in 2000, and so his medal will be awarded posthumously. Peres will not attend today’s ceremony, and so will receive his medal at a ceremony at a later date.

    Oddly, the White House press release on today’s ceremony does not name the recipients.

    • Sumud
      May 25, 2012, 6:51 pm

      It’s all too repulsive lysias – Madeline Albright, the witch who said that the US thinks having 500,000 Iraqi children killed “is worth it”, gets a medal from Obama.

  6. piotr
    May 24, 2012, 11:35 am

    There is this “New Yorker map of the world” style of political pundintry based on the belief that world affairs are determined by lobbying in Washington. However, USA is overstretched militarily, economically and morally (excessive hypocrisy yields similar problems as overfishing, yields can drop catastrophically).

    I think that Russia, China and several other Asian countries like Pakistan and India determine how far USA can go. If those countries are strongly opposed to an attack on Iran, it may lead to a siege of American forces in Afghanistan, cut-off of all supply routes, even if Iran unleashes supplies to insurgents and instigates Shia insurgency.

    A serious attack on Iran may lead to tolerating a temporary blockade of Hormuz. Iran must have some support for such a move because eventually it has to trade with SOME countries. Yet more serious attack on Iran may lead to nuclear brinksmanship with Russia.

    For the same reason, if USA exceeds reasonable parameters in negotiations with Iran, the Asian countries + Russia may basically dismantle a major part of sanctions. The reverse applies to Iran, of course.

    At the end of the day, whatever a Washington lobby does, Israel is a small country that is not particularly relevant in the Great Game of Eurasian politics. Recall that before the last round of talks with Iran an idea was floated that Iran should be required, as a precondition, to dismantle Fordow. Someone, somewhere explained that this is exceedingly dumb and we did not hear about it again.

  7. lysias
    May 24, 2012, 11:41 am

    Obama’s commencement address at the Air Force Academy yesterday was full of the usual blather:

    After all this, you would think folks understand a basic truth — never bet against the United States of America. (Applause.) And one of the reasons is that the United States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world affairs. It’s one of the many examples of why America is exceptional. It’s why I firmly believe that if we rise to this moment in history, if we meet our responsibilities, then — just like the 20th century — the 21st century will be another great American Century. That’s the future I see. That’s the future you can build. (Applause.)

    I see an American Century because we have the resilience to make it through these tough economic times. We’re going to put America back to work by investing in the things that keep us competitive — education and high-tech manufacturing, science and innovation. We’ll pay down our deficits, reform our tax code and keep reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We need to get on with nation-building here at home. And I know we can, because we’re still the largest, most dynamic, most innovative economy in the world. And no matter what challenges we may face, we wouldn’t trade places with any other nation on Earth.

    I see an American Century because you are part of the finest, most capable military the world has ever known. No other nation even comes close. Yes, as today’s wars end, our military — and our Air Force — will be leaner. But as Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow us to make the mistakes of the past. We still face very serious threats. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, with al Qaeda in Yemen, there are still terrorists who seek to kill our citizens. So we need you to be ready for the full range of threats. From the conventional to the unconventional, from nations seeking weapons of mass destruction to the cell of terrorists planning the next attack, from the old danger of piracy to the new threat of cyber, we must be vigilant.

  8. Kathleen
    May 24, 2012, 1:49 pm

    I thought Obama has said some things that indicate he knows Iran not only has the right to enrich uranium as signatories of the NPT but that he knows that the reduction in the percentage will be as far as they go…right now.

    What happenned to the Rand Paul legislation trying to block any military strike on Iran based on these unsubstantiated claims?

  9. Kathleen
    May 24, 2012, 2:14 pm

    There is an analysis about this situation over at Race for Iran “Did Obama Take The Military Option Against Iran Off The Table” Worth the read

  10. Ira Glunts
    May 24, 2012, 3:23 pm

    The BBC reports that British ministers are discussing Britain’s role if Israel attacks Iran.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18170328

    However, I have learnt that UK ministers are discussing not just the possibility of a military confrontation but what role, if any, Britain might play and whether any involvement would be legal.

    Last week in London, the National Security Council discussed what would happen if the latest set of negotiations with Iran failed and if Israel carried out its threat to launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Ministers were told that this could trigger a wider war in the Middle East in which Iran might respond not just by attacking Israel, but also by closing the vital trade route – the Straits of Hormuz – through which more than a fifth of the world’s oil shipments are carried.

    I understand that the government’s law officers are now examining the legality of any British involvement if this happens.

    They are looking at options ranging from British diplomatic support for Israel through to the possible involvement of the Royal Navy in the region

    Also, US or Israel Air Strike Against Iran by 12/31/12 futures have shot up since yesterday on Intrade. I know this is a bit sick, but ….

    http://www.intrade.com/v4/markets/contract/?contractId=750356

    • Keith
      May 24, 2012, 6:04 pm

      IRA- According to your link, the current estimate of probability of a US and/or Israeli air strike against Iran by year’s end is about 34%. My personal estimate is 50%, allowing for the possibility that the US can achieve its minimal objectives through economic strangulation and covert operations. Iran is critical to the empire. Both Russia and China are trying desperately to wiggle free from the imperial tentacles. This involves secure energy resources. There are plans in the works involving pipelines, etc. An independent Iran is critical to these plans. Should Iran be reabsorbed into the empire, Russia and China would remain vulnerable to imperial pressures. The imperial elites calling the shots are myopic power-seeking risk takers. According to strategic analyst Michael T. Klare, we have entered an era of resource wars. These are dangerous times.

      • Ira Glunts
        May 24, 2012, 6:51 pm

        I think your figure is better than the one at intrade.com. The Iran War Dial is at 37%, down from 48%.

        Although, you can probably get better from ToivoS. ;)

        Yes, these are dangerous times. It will be interesting to follow the Russian and Chinese moves in the next month in regards to the negotiations.

        I heard Russia delivered a proposal to Iran, but you do not hear much if anything about it. I read the Russian proposal was disowned by the EU and US.

      • ToivoS
        May 25, 2012, 1:52 am

        I am a betting man but I do not bet on my political predictions. In January of 2003 I was still convinced that the US would not invade Iraq — it seemed obvious that a war against Iraq was not winnable. All those people who ruled then must know that as well as I did. That was one big error on my part. Fools ruled then. I am assuming that these fools may have learned a lesson.

        In any case, one can put down 2 c notes on no war with Iran today and collect 3 c notes at the end of the year provided there is no war. Good rate of return, but I will decline for now.

      • Ira Glunts
        May 25, 2012, 9:33 am

        ToivoS,
        “I am assuming that these fools may have learned a lesson.”
        I hope you are correct.

        I also am a betting man, but never has bet on politics. It is somewhat more difficult to bet politics in the US than in other countries, from what I understand.

      • ritzl
        May 25, 2012, 9:14 pm

        So the handicappers at inTrade give a 40% chance of global economic meltdown by the end of the year.

        Low enough risk, I guess, to bomb a non-existent nuclear weapons program to salve a un-salvable “ally” to get money/media to get re-elected. I mean it’s better than 50-50 that there won’t be a global economic meltdown, isn’t there? What’s everybody whining about? This is the kind of leadership I can really cast a vote for. True dice-rolling, bet-your-farm risk takers don’t come along very often.

        BTW, InTrade is great for the handicapping, but they don’t always pay their bets.

      • lysias
        May 29, 2012, 4:21 pm

        If you win that bet (no war with Iran,) the dollar will still be worth something. On the other hand, if you lose the bet, it won’t, and paying up won’t be much of a loss.

  11. ToivoS
    May 24, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Time for another round of diplomatic tea leave reading.

    It appeared recently that the US was willing to allow Iran to enrich U to the extent of making fuel for its reactors. Apparently this concession was not made in the Baghdad talks that just ended. However, the talks will continue a month from now. Then they will continue a month from that day. Each of the 5 + 1 countries will presumably host a talk one month apart. Gee, that takes us to late November. That I believe is a reasonable target date. Obama has a delicate balancing act on his hands. On one side keep the talks going with reports of progress and set-backs etc and on the other side keep AIPAC under control. Netanyahu will continue with his hysterical braying but we all know by now that Israel is powerless to move without US support.

    I think Obama could pull this off. Iran will keep its Fordow facility, will continue to enrich for fuel and will probably trade the 20% enrichment for some returns. Bottom line, no war.

    • CloakAndDagger
      May 24, 2012, 8:56 pm

      If Obama can successfully postpone any decision until November, then we are out of the woods. I can’t really see NuttyYahoo or congress giving him so much latitude, since they know that as well.

      Its war they want, and they know that after the elections, their leverage on Obama disappears. An alternate scenario with Ron Paul winning also leaves them with no success for war. Only the unlikely victory of Romney could help.

      So, I expect Israel to do everything in its power to trick us into attacking Iran. Keep a sharp lookout for false flags in the weeks or months ahead.

  12. Ira Glunts
    May 24, 2012, 5:18 pm

    Wendy Sherman, the US representative at the P5 + 1 talks, is flying directly from the Green Zone to Jerusalem for a meeting with the Israeli PM. She is probably there already. This is a great chance for Bibi to issue a provocative comment on Iran and the negotiations.

    Hillary Clinton just made a statement something like, The ball is in Iran’s court now. Lovely.

    Joe Lieberman suggests that the name P5+1 be changed to P6+1, adding who know who.

    Attack Iran futures continue to climb at Intrade. Will be interesting to see the next prediction at the Iran War Dial in the next few days.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/05/iran-war-dial-odds-of-conflict-now-at-37/257425/#

    • CloakAndDagger
      May 24, 2012, 9:00 pm

      Joe Lieberman (I – Tel Aviv) – as treasonous as the night is dark. Connecticut has a lot to answer for. Joined as he is at the hip to John McCain (Hanoi John pardoned by Nixon), son of Admiral McCain, who hushed up the USS Liberty enquiry, another viper in our bossom, for whom Arizona has a lot to answer. John was not even born in the US or one of its colonies, so a “birther” case could be made against him as a senator.

  13. Les
    May 24, 2012, 7:18 pm

    To prove their genuine support for Israel, a majority of the Congress will have to agree to move to a new and permanent site in Tel Aviv. Nothing less will satisfy!

    • Sumud
      May 25, 2012, 7:05 pm

      Not Tel Aviv Les, but occupied Jerusalem.

      Israel has been asking countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem for ages but very few have and *nobody* recognises Israel’s unilateral annexation of Jerusalem from the early 80s.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 25, 2012, 7:07 pm

        very few have

        really? i heard none had. who’s got their embassy there?

      • peeesss
        May 26, 2012, 1:52 am

        Honduras and/or Guatemala, I believe.

      • Sumud
        May 26, 2012, 2:42 am

        Right you are Annie – I said very few because I recall that there were a few there but I couldn’t recall who, and was feeling a little too lazy to look it up :-)

        As of now there are no countries that have their Embassy in Jerusalem – there have been about a dozen in the past which have now all moved out.

        Apparently South Sudan announced last year that they will locate their embassy in Jerusalem – hardly an auspicious start for that country.

  14. RoHa
    May 24, 2012, 8:58 pm

    “a majority of the Congress will have to agree to move to a new and permanent site in Tel Aviv

    But not these guys and gals.

    http://www.infoplease.com/us/government/111-congress-african-americans.html

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