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‘We can’t let Israel determine when and where U.S. goes to war,’ says Feinstein, but Hillary is quiet as a mouse

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Picking up the pieces on the new Iran sanctions bill that would kill Obama’s historic deal with Iran. And today’s bottom line is, Opposition to the warmongers is firming up.

Jim Lobe reports that Senator Feinstein’s speech (above) may have killed AIPAC’s hopes of passing the new sanctions with a veto-proof Senate majority, at least until the AIPAC policy conference in the spring. Lobe notes that financial incentives to block the Iran deal also affect media:

Tuesday’s floor speech by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein could bury AIPAC’s hopes of winning passage of what I have called the Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act of 2013…at least for the next month or so. The speech, which was remarkably comprehensive in rebutting virtually every argument made by AIPAC and the 59 co-sponsors in favor of the bill, comes amid a surprising spate of newspaper editorials against the bill, particularly given the dearth of actual news coverage about it. Newspapers that have taken position against the legislation in just the last few days include the Minneapolis Star Tribune, USA Today, the New York Times, and the often-neoconservative-leaning Washington Post. As cash-poor as they are, newspapers are still less susceptible to the kind of pressure exerted by AIPAC and its associated PACs that are able to provide — or deny — substantial cash for political campaigns.

So is the new Jeff Bezos/Washington Post showing a little vertebrae? And what about the new Chris Hughes/New Republic. Ryan Cooper has a piece up there trashing Cory Booker as a warmonger. Marty Peretz must be tearing out his hair.

It may seem to Booker et al. that dynamiting sanctions is the smart political play, given the strength of AIPAC and other neoconservative groups. Or it could be that he really believes this stuff: Booker has long been strongly pro-Israel, and has key rabbinical allies with similar views. Or perhaps he hasn’t grasped the danger yet.

MJ Rosenberg comments, “Although [Booker] is delighted by its cash potential, Israel zealotry comes as naturally to him as it does to former senator Joe Lieberman, who he is succeeding as Netanyahu’s favorite senator.” Back to the New Republic:

Regardless of the reason, Booker and company are making a serious error if they think that the anti-war left is dead forever, or that they’ll pay no price if they manage to successfully sabotage these negotiations. Despite Booker’s insistence that he “STRONGLY” favors peace, the bill contains a provision encouraging defense of Israel should they choose to attack Iran…

That’s the famous wag-the-dog language:

If Israel takes “military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,”  the U.S. “should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” (Per Gharib.)

Recall that the newspaper editorials denouncing the bill as a march toward war followed a forceful White House statement that called out the warmongers:

“The American people have been clear that they prefer a peaceful resolution to this issue. If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” said security aide Bridget Meehan.

That put AIPAC supporter Steny Hoyer on the defensive. Politico:

“There have been some that have suggested in the White House that those folks were more interested in war than they were in the resolution by peaceful means. I think that is absolutely untrue, [an] irresponsible assertion, and ought to be clarified and retracted by those who have made it within the administration,” Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday morning. “Nobody believes, as far as I know, that going to war with Iran is anything but a dangerous objective that none of us would seek.”

MJ Rosenberg reports that according to the National Journal, Senators Barbara Mikulski (MD), Tim Kaine (VA) and Dick Durbin (IL) are all going to support Obama.

“We should not impose additional sanctions against Iran in the midst of this diplomatic negotiation,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement Tuesday. “I support the current crippling sanctions regime, and I will gladly vote for additional sanctions should these negotiations falter. But now is the time to give diplomacy a chance.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said, “I don’t believe that passing new sanctions or threatening new sanctions at this point is productive.”

MJ Rosenberg’s question:

Where is Hillary Clinton on all this? (Quiet, very quiet).

Wait, didn’t Barack Obama run to her left in ’08 and wasn’t that the end of her? Hasn’t she learned her lesson?

Update: Jim Fallows is also coming out strongly against the sanctions bill. He has some mild criticism of Israel in his post, and a pointed caption on an AIPAC policy brief, from its site.

“3. America Must Stand with Israel. The United States must back Israel if it feels compelled in its own legitimate self-defense to take military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.”

Fallows says, “Note implications of point #3.”

Here is Feinstein’s speech, picked up from Jim Lobe. Notice her historical section: “I believe a nation can change,” citing Yugoslavia and South Africa as models for Iran. Yes and what about Israel, can it change?

Senator Dianne Feinstein
Remarks on Iran Sanctions
January 14, 2014

Mr. President, I come to the floor today to discuss a critical issue of national security—how to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.

As I was thinking about our troubled history with Iran and whether more sanctions at this time make sense for our national security interests, I asked myself these questions:

• Can a country change?

• Is it possible for an isolated regime to rejoin the community of nations and change its behavior?

• Must a country and its people be held captive because of the behavior of previous leaders in earlier times?

So I thought back on history.

I was a young girl during World War II. I remember when Imperial Japan killed millions in Southeast Asia, and particularly China, during its brutal wars of expansion. Today, Japan is a peaceful democracy and one of this nation’s strongest allies in Asia.

I remember when Hitler and the German Third Reich committed unspeakable atrocities across Europe– including the murder of six million Jews. Germany is now a close ally and a leader in the European Union, an institution created to ensure a war never again occurs in Europe.

I remember General Franco’s Spain which was so diplomatically and economically isolated that it was actually barred from the United Nations until 1955. Spain is now a close partner of the United States and a fully democratic member of the EU.

The former Yugoslavia, Vietnam and South Africa have all experienced tremendous change in recent decades.

• Independent states have emerged from the painful dissolution of Yugoslavia;
• Vietnam has opened itself to the international community, but still has much progress to make; and
• South Africa has shed apartheid and has emerged as an increasingly stable nation on a much-divided continent.

So I believe a nation can change.

This capacity to change also applies to the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

At one time, Sweden, South Korea and Argentina each pursued nuclear weapons.

• Following World War II, Sweden pursued nuclear weapons to deter foreign attack. It mastered nuclear technology and built and tested components for a nuclear weapon. It may have even obtained enough nuclear material to build a bomb. In 1970, it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and ended its nuclear weapons program.

• In the early 1970s, South Korea actively sought a nuclear device. The United States heavily pressured South Korea not to go nuclear. And in April 1975, it signed the NPT and halted its nuclear weapons-related activities.

• Throughout the 1980s – when it was ruled by a military junta with an egregious human rights record – Argentina had a covert nuclear weapons program. It built uranium production, enrichment and reprocessing facilities. And it attempted to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles before abandoning its nuclear weapons program and ratifying the NPT in 1995.

The question comes: is Iran willing to change its past behavior and abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon? It may well be. It is the job of diplomacy to push for this change.

Election of Rouhani

I believe there are positive signs that Iran is interested in such a change, and I’d like to explain my reasons.

The election of Hassan Rouhani was a surprise to many longtime observers of Iran because he campaigned in support of repairing Iran’s relationship with the West. And since his inauguration he has tried to do exactly that.

• For the first time since the Iranian Revolution, the leaders of our countries have been in direct communication with each other.

• Where once direct contact even between even senior officials was rare, now Secretary John Kerry and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman are in near-constant contact with their Iranian counterparts. Those conversations produced the historic Geneva agreement which goes into effect on January 20th.

Geneva agreement

Candidate Rouhani also promised to increase nuclear transparency, and he has delivered on that as well.

Even before the Geneva interim agreement was reached, Iran slowed uranium enrichment and construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor. Maybe for technical reasons, maybe not.
Iran has also re-engaged with the IAEA to resolve questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear activities.

What has been achieved in Geneva?

The interim 6-month agreement, reached between the P5+1 countries—the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany—freezes Iran’s nuclear program in place while a comprehensive agreement is negotiated in the next 6 months. This agreement:

• Caps Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium at 5 percent;

• Stops the production of 20 percent enriched uranium;

• Requires the neutralization of Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent uranium;

• Prevents Iran from installing additional centrifuges or operating its most advanced centrifuges;

• Prohibits Iran from stockpiling excess centrifuges;

• And it halts all significant work at the Arak heavy-water reactor and prevents Iran from constructing a plutonium reprocessing facility.

Most importantly, the interim agreement imposes the most intrusive international inspection regime ever. International inspectors will independently verify whether or not Iran is complying with the interim agreement.

For the first time, IAEA inspectors will have uninterrupted access to Iran’s:

• Enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow;
• Centrifuge production plants;
• Centrifuge assembly facilities; and
• Iran’s uranium mines and mills.

And finally Iran is required to declare all planned new nuclear facilities.

In exchange, the P5+1 negotiators offered sanctions relief limited to $7 billion–an aspect of the interim agreement that has been criticized.

Here are the facts on this sanctions relief, which in my view does not materially alter the biting sanctions that have devastated Iran’s economy:

• The vast majority of sanctions relief comes in the form of Iran repatriating $4.2 billion of its own money;

• Iran will continue to lose $4-$5 billion per month in lost oil revenue from existing sanctions;

• Iran will not have access to about $100 billion of its own reserves trapped by sanctions abroad.

• For perspective, the total estimated sanctions relief is valued at approximately 1 percent of the Iranian economy. Hardly a significant amount.

I would like to take a moment to detail what is not in the interim agreement.

• First, the interim agreement does not grant Iran a right to enrich.

The United States does not recognize such a right for the five non-nuclear weapons states that currently have enrichment programs, and we will make no exception for Iran.

But Iran does have a right to peaceful nuclear energy if it fully abides by the terms of its safeguards agreement under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

• Second, the agreement does not in any way unravel our core oil and financial sanctions.

Others have argued the suspension of any sanctions against Iran will unravel the entire sanctions regime.

The Obama Administration has taken action to make sure that does not happen.

Two days after the interim agreement was reached, the U.S. settled with a Swiss oil services company over sanctions violations. The settlement of more than $250 million was the largest against a foreign firm outside of the banking industry.

On December 12th, the Administration announced the expansion of Iranian entities subject to sanctions. These entities either helped Tehran evade sanctions and or provided support to Iran’s nuclear program.

On January 7th, the Administration halted the transfer of two Boeing airplane engines from Turkey to Iran.

Through these actions, the Obama Administration has made it abundantly clear the U.S. will continue to enforce our sanctions against Iran.

• Third, the agreement does not codify the violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

Critics have attacked the interim agreement for its failure to completely halt all of Iran’s nuclear enrichment by noting that six UN Security Council Resolutions have called on Tehran to do so and it has not done so.

The purpose of the UN Resolutions was not to suspend nuclear enrichment indefinitely.

Instead, the resolutions were designed to freeze Iran’s nuclear activities until the IAEA could determine whether or not Iran’s activities were for exclusively peaceful purposes.

This is an important point: the interim agreement achieves what the UN Resolutions could not.

It freezes Iran’s nuclear progress while a comprehensive, verifiable agreement is being negotiated.

The effect of sanctions on Iran’s economy

The interim agreement was only possible because a strong international sanctions regime has worked to convince rank and file Iranians that, candidly, enough is enough!

• According to the State Department, as a result of the sanctions, Iranian crude oil exports have plummeted from approximately 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to around 1 million barrels per day in recent months.

• This decline costs Iran $3 to $5 billion per month in lost revenue alone.

• In total, 23 importers of Iranian oil have eliminated or significantly reduced purchases from Iran.

o Iran currently has only six customers for its oil: China, India, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

• In the last year, Iran’s gross domestic product shrank by 5.8 percent while inflation is estimated to be 50 percent or more.

• Prices for food and consumer goods are doubling and tripling on an annual basis, and estimates put unemployment as high as 35 percent while underemployment is pervasive.

Menendez legislation

This body may soon consider the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, a bill to impose additional sanctions against Iran.

Before casting a vote, senators should ask themselves what would happen if the bill passes and a promised veto by the president is not sustained?

I sincerely believe that P5+1 negotiations with Iran would end and with it the best opportunity in more than 30 years to make a major change in Iranian behavior – a change that could not only open all kinds of economic opportunities for the Iranian people, but change the course of a nation.

Passing additional sanctions now would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see diplomacy fail.

Iranian conservatives will attack President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif for seeking a nuclear compromise and argue that:

• Iran exchanged a freeze of its nuclear program for additional and harshly punitive sanctions;

• If the U.S. cannot honor the interim agreement negotiated in Geneva, it will never lift sanctions after a final agreement;

• Above all, they will argue the U.S. is not interested in nuclear diplomacy—we are interested in regime change;

The bottom line: if this body passes S. 1881, diplomatic negotiations will collapse and there will be no final agreement. Some might want that result, but I do not.

Iran’s nuclear program would once again be unrestrained and the only remaining option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon would be a military action.

To date, the prospect of just considering this bill has prompted Iranian legislators to consider retaliation.

There is talk that the legislative branch, the Majles, may move to increase nuclear enrichment far beyond the 5 percent limit in the interim agreement and much closer to, if not achieving, weapons grade uranium.

So, the authors of additional sanctions here and Iranian hardliners there actually would combine to blow up the diplomatic effort of six world powers.

The bill’s sponsors have argued that increased sanctions would strengthen the United States’ hand in negotiations. They argue that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. They contend that additional sanctions would force Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
I could not disagree more.

Let me give you the views of other individuals who are knowledgeable in the arena:

Dr. Paul Pillar—a former senior U.S. intelligence official and current professor at Georgetown University—recently wrote:

It is the prospect of having U.S.- led sanctions removed that will convince Iran to accept severe restrictions on its nuclear program. Threatening Iran with additional sanctions now–after it agreed to the interim agreement–will not convince Tehran to complete a final agreement.

If this bill would help our negotiators, as its authors contend, they would say so.

This bill is an egregious imposition on the executive’s authority to conduct foreign affairs. In fact, our Secretary of State has formally asked the Congress to “give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs,” including no new sanctions.

To disregard this request is to effectively say we don’t care what our top diplomat says—the Senate will impose our will. And if it blows up this very fragile process, too bad! What a tragedy!

And we know what the Iranian reaction will be:

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif has clearly stated what the result will be summarized in five words: “the entire deal is dead.”

The Ambassador of our staunchest ally—the U.K.—warned this body not to pass more sanctions. Sir Peter Westmacott recently wrote:

“Further sanctions now would only hurt negotiations and risk eroding international support for the sanctions that have brought us this far. The time for additional measures will come if Iran reneges on the deal or if negotiations fail. Now is not that time.”

A vote for this legislation will cause negotiations to collapse. The United States—not Iran—becomes the party that risks fracturing the international coalition that has enabled our sanctions to succeed in the first place.

And it says to the U.K., China, Russia, France and Germany that our country cannot be trusted to stand behind our diplomatic commitments.

These allies will question whether their compliance with sanctions (and the economic sacrifices they have made) are for naught.

Should these negotiations fall apart, the choices are few and the most likely result, in my view, is the eventual and inevitable use of military force.

Is that really the choice we want to make?

Enforcing the Interim Agreement

Instead this body should concentrate on Iranian compliance with the interim agreement.

On January 20, 2014 the interim agreement will come into effect. Over the next six months, the international community will be able to verify whether or not Iran is keeping its commitments to freeze its nuclear progress.

If Iran fails to abide by the terms of the interim agreement, or if a final agreement cannot be negotiated, Congress can immediately consider additional sanctions.

Additional sanctions should only be considered once our diplomatic track has been given the opportunity to forge a final, comprehensive, and binding agreement.

Undermining negotiations now, after achieving meaningful, historic progress, defies logic and threatens to instantly reverse fragile, unprecedented diplomacy.

Candidly, it is a march to war.

As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know the many challenges Iran poses to U.S. interests around the world.

Iran’s patronage of the terrorist group Hezbollah and its support for Syria’s Bashar Assad through the Revolutionary Guard Corps are two of the most troubling.

And let me acknowledge Israel’s real, well-founded concerns that a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its very existence.

While I recognize and share Israel’s concern, we cannot let Israel determine when and where the U.S. goes to war.

By stating that the U.S. should provide military support to Israel should it attack Iran, I fear that is exactly what this bill will do.


The interim agreement with Iran is strong, tough and realistic. It represents the first significant opportunity to change a three decade course in Iran and an opening to improve one of our most poisonous bilateral relationships.

It opens the door to a new future which not only considers Israel’s national security—but protects our own.

To preserve diplomacy, I strongly oppose the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. seethelight on January 15, 2014, 1:11 pm

    I wonder what Lobby leader or group pissed off Feinstein so bad somewhere along the way that she would so aggressively and publicly argue against the Iran bill that Aipac wrote? Anyone know? Is there another reason?

  2. pabelmont on January 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Feinstein: “So I believe a nation can change.” Can Israel?

    Yes, well.

    • DICKERSON3870 on January 15, 2014, 3:51 pm

      RE: Feinstein: “So I believe a nation can change.” Can Israel?

      SEE: Is Change possible in Israel? [VIDEO, 07:49]
      Prof. Haim Bresheeth tries to answer this question – why can some Israelis change, and support the Palestinian cause, but change seems elusive in Israel? Should we wait and hope for such change?

  3. DICKERSON3870 on January 15, 2014, 3:30 pm

    RE: ‘We can’t let Israel determine when and where U.S. goes to war,’ says Feinstein, but Hillary is quiet as a mouse

    MY COMMENT: I can’t even begin to imagine why Hillary Clinton is so quiet on the new Iran sanctions bill.

    SEE: “Haim Saban”, by Matthew Yglesias, The Atlantic, June 10, 2007

    [EXCERPT] If you’re interested in the foreign policy views of major Hillary Clinton financial backer Haim Saban, there’s no need to follow the Atrios path of attempting guilt by association with Kenneth Pollack. He [Saban] discussed his views on the Middle East and Persian Gulf region in great detail in a reasonably recent interview with ‘Haaretz’:

    “When I see Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler. They speak the same language. His motivation is also clear: the return of the Mahdi is a supreme goal. And for a religious person of deep self-persuasion, that supreme goal is worth the liquidation of five and a half million Jews. We cannot allow ourselves that. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a religious leadership that is convinced that the annihilation of Israel will bring about the emergence of a new Muslim caliphate? Israel cannot allow that. This is no game. It’s truly an existential danger.” . . .

    SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870 on January 15, 2014, 3:41 pm

      P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Haim Saban]:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Saban says his greatest concern is to protect Israel. At a conference in Israel, Saban described his formula. His three ways to influence American politics were: make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.[22] . . .
      . . . Saban has been a generous and consistent donor to the United States Democratic Party according to his mandatory Federal Election Commission filings. Mother Jones, in an analysis of the major donors to the campaigns of 1998 election cycle, ranked Saban 155th among individual donors.[23] Amy Paris noted that Saban’s Clinton-era “generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President’s Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues.”[23] The New York Times reported that Haim and his wife “slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms.” Saban remains close friends with the former President. Clinton described Saban as a “very good friend and supporter.”[5] Saban contributed between $5 million to $10 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation.[24]
      During the 2000 presidential election, Saban increased his rank to 5th among individual donors with a combined contribution of $1,250,500.[23] Matthew Yglesias wrote that “Saban was the largest overall contributor to the Democratic National Committee during the 2001–2002 cycle.” [25] Saban’s donations during that 2001–2002 period exceeded $10 million, the largest donation the DNC has received from a single source up to that time.
      In September 2004, Hillary Clinton described Saban as a very good friend, supporter and adviser: “I am grateful for his commitment to Israel, to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to my foundation’s work, particularly on reconciliation issues.”[5] In May 2007, Haim publicly declared his support for Clinton in 2008 presidential election.[20] In June 2007, Saban and Steven Spielberg co-hosted a Hillary Clinton fundraiser at the house of Peter Chernin, the President of News Corporation.[26] According to the Los Angeles Times,[26] the fundraiser brought in over $850,000.
      In March 2008, Saban was among a group of major Jewish donors to sign a letter to Democratic Party house leader Nancy Pelosi warning her to “keep out of the Democratic presidential primaries.”[27] The donors, who “were strong supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign”, “were incensed by a March 16 interview in which Pelosi said that party ‘superdelegates’ should heed the will of the majority in selecting a candidate.”[27] The letter to Pelosi stated the donors “have been strong supporters of the DCCC” and implied, according to The Jewish Telegraphic Agency,[27] that Pelosi could lose their financial support in important upcoming congressional elections.
      On May 19, 2008, it was reported that Haim Saban had “offered $1 million to the Young Democrats of America during a phone conversation in which he also pressed for the organization’s two uncommitted superdelegates to endorse the New York Democrat [i.e., Hillary Clinton].”[28] . . .

      SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870 on January 15, 2014, 3:45 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “Haim Saban, Bill Clinton to Host Fundraiser for Democratic Convention”, By Ted Johnson, Variety, 5/24/12

      [EXCERPT] President Bill Clinton is headlining a fundraiser to raise money for the Democratic National Convention at the home of longtime Democratic donors Haim and Cheryl Saban.
      The event is raising money for the Committee for Charlotte 2012. According to the invite, tickets are $100,000 per couple, which includes a photo and lunch, as well as a “convention package” of the donor’s choice. One offers two hotel rooms and four credentials, the other offers one “premier uptown hotel room” and two “premier credentials.” Other tickets to the lunch go for $50,000 and $25,000, offering credentials to the convention. . .

      SOURCE –

  4. Citizen on January 15, 2014, 4:49 pm

    Hillary’s ambition to be the first female POTUS at whatever cost to anyone is what makes her so special. It’s as if she had a gigantic nose to smell herself. I hope Warren gets as interested in the “special relationship” as she did in Wall St. Not likely, but hope springs eternal.

  5. braciole on January 15, 2014, 5:18 pm

    Well the New York Times seemsto be hedging its bets with the usual fabrications and half-truths from Michael Doran and Max Boot.

  6. Jeff Klein on January 15, 2014, 6:00 pm

    Very strong statement by Senator Feinstein! I admit to being pleasantly surprised.
    Meanwhile, Chris Mathews on MSNBC had a good piece on sabotage of the Iran negotiations in Congress– except that the culprits were. . . the Republicans!

    GOP cannot sabotage peace process with Iran:

    The usual self-censorship. Even a commentator as dense as Matthews cannot fail to understand that it is Israel and AIPC. What is Menendez, Democratic chair of the Senate Foreign Relatiions Committee — chopped liver?

  7. dbroncos on January 15, 2014, 6:34 pm

    Hilary doesn’t understand just how much the Clinton brand is despised outside of her liberal elite bubble world. Her (shrinking) fan club is not a “base” which can win her the WH. I’ll wager that she’ll be ousted in the primaries – again.

    • piotr on January 15, 2014, 11:19 pm

      As a candidate, she actually had a better health plan then Obama etc., and she is well aware that she lost the primaries because of her engagement, however two-faced, with the war party. So this time she stays mum. I am truly curious what will happen.

  8. Ellen on January 15, 2014, 6:42 pm

    well….after reading this the impression is that 1) Feinstein has some very hard working and sharp people on her staff. 2) She understands — completely — the big picture, the really big picture and wants to be a part of what is likely to be an historical breakthrough on a global scale? And why not?

    That the intelligence and thoughtfull remarks to the Menendez bill have put him and all supporters to shame, revealing every one of them to be the petty little Gauleiters they are. (Look the word up, I can’t translate it.)

    Did AIPAC “piss her off.” No. She surely does not need their money. She is near the end of her career and does not want to go down in history on the coatails and dust of the likes a Menendez and Kirk who scrape on their knees for AIPAC money no matter what it means to the country and world.

    Hillary? I’ll get myself in trouble if I go there, but hope we never hear from her again.

  9. Kathleen on January 15, 2014, 6:44 pm

    Whoa shocking behavior by Senator Feinstein. In depth response. “Nations can change” but no where in what she had to say does she whisper about how absurd and criminal it is that the very nation pushing hard for these sanctions and a military attack on Iran DOES HAVE BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS THAT GO UN INSPECTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY BECAUSE ISRAEL HAS AND CONTINUES TO REFUSE TO SIGN THE NON PROLIFERATION TREATY. That the whole world is witness to this height of hypocrisy. She talks about South Korea choosing not to go nuclear weapons. But no mention of Israel and how they should sign the very NPT , open up to international inspections and play by the same rules that they want others to play by. So insane.

    The I lobby owns Clinton. She has made so many unsubstantiated claims about Iran tough to keep up. Especially during the campaign…she lost. If Clinton gets in in 2016 the next stop will be Iran.

    Big changes out of Feinstein. Welcome changes even if she misses the obvious

  10. on January 15, 2014, 9:19 pm

    Great article in the Guardian today. Israel has a bomb so why should Iran not have a bomb ? More people should say this. But the concept is suppressed.

    Guardian 15Jan 2014
    “The truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal
    Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if the Israelis won’t come clean?”

  11. RoHa on January 15, 2014, 10:00 pm

    “we cannot let Israel determine when and where the U.S. goes to war.”

    What? Why change now?

  12. Inanna on January 15, 2014, 10:06 pm

    This confirms what I have always believed (and I’ll try to put it in the most non-marxist jargon I can): no lobby has the power to drive a country to oppose its own interests, except maybe in the extreme short-term. What the administration is seeing (and what the lobby and their bots are not) is this:

    1. We are no longer in a uni-polar world. America needs to re-position itself in light of that reality, which is part of what the pivot to Asia is all about. Part of this as well is that the US does not need another mid-east war for all sorts of domestic and international reasons
    2. The sanctions regime against Iran is starting to unravel. China and Russia are pushing against it. The Europeans want back into Iran. Rather than lose face watching it happen, America needs to be ahead of the curve so that it doesn’t lose face.
    3. Unlike the propaganda, the US knows that Iran is a rational actor, hasn’t attacked anyone in how many centuries and the Saudi-Israeli decades of panic Iran is OTT so they know they can make a deal with it.
    4. Israel is a pain in the butt and many of its “supporters” in the administration and Congress would love nothing more than to stick the arse-end of a pineapple up its butt. What is said in private on the Hill and in the White House about Israel is very different to what is said in public and the establishment has shown in the form of Feinstein’s speech and those MSM editorials that there’s a new policy and the Israel lobby/ies is out of luck.

    • piotr on January 15, 2014, 11:13 pm

      Exactly! Importantly, from the point of view of a more rational Zionist, which presumably describes Feinstein, Wasserman-Schultz and perhaps also Haim Saban and quite a few others, the Senate resolution is very bad for Israel. Israel should stick to what it does well, like harassing villagers and forget about the dream of the second Gaugamela, a magnificent victory over Persian Empire. Green light or not, attacking Iran is exceedingly idiotic. So the outcome would be that poor Netanyahu would loose the easy excuse why he is not attacking Iran, and perhaps would have to admit that it cannot be done.

      Saudis and Israelis, a bit strange coalition, push in the opposite direction. Saudis at least do it rationally, assuming that they want to advance Wahhabi cause. By the way of contrast, Israeli motivation is quite delusional. So here I would differ a bit with Inanna. My guess is that Feinstein is as PEP as ever (she is not even that progressive), and “sticking it to Israel” is furthest from her mind, but some adults have to stop this childish horseplay (or empty grandstanding, the adult version of the same) before there is some real damage.

      • aiman on January 16, 2014, 12:50 am

        ” Saudis at least do it rationally, assuming that they want to advance Wahhabi cause.”

        The cause of the Saudis is the Saudis. The Saudi royals are interested in their material power and station, not ideology. Ideology is important in the sense of doctrine, not rule. The “advancement” of anything by the Saudis is defensive to the extent of their rule. That’s why they have a Communist-style police state. They don’t hate Iran for being Shias, indeed the Saudi founders would well have embraced Shia Islam if history were different.

      • Inanna on January 16, 2014, 2:41 am

        piotr, Saudis and Israelis are not a strange coalition at all. Both are sectarian states using religions for political ends. As such, the Saudis are as rational as the Israelis.

        As for Feinstein, she is merely speaking for the elites in the US who have decided the Iranian venture is no longer in American interests and it’s time to leave it and move on to the next thing. Whether she’s PEP or not (and I would argue there’s not much progressivism there to have any exception to) is not the point. She’s standing on a foundation of interests that have decided to move on from the demonizing of Iran and thus the rhetoric surrounding Iran has suddenly become very reasonable and rational. This is looked on with some glee by many on the Hill who have had their toes trodden on by the Israel lobbies, regardless of what their views on Israel actually are.

  13. German Lefty on January 16, 2014, 4:56 am
  14. Yani on January 16, 2014, 5:43 am

    Exactly, Israel should decide on if the US goes to war… corporations make those decisions.

  15. Truthbug on January 16, 2014, 9:29 am

    As usual, the subject of Israel instigates all kinds of nonsensical yak yak. Consider the Senate bill now being passed around, that increases sanctions on Iran and also commits the US to back Israel in a fight with Iran. Here’s the language:

    “If Israel takes “military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the U.S. “should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” (Per Gharib.)”

    Notice the word “legitimate.” It’s my understanding that Israel would be violating the UN Charter (international law) if it conducts a unilateral strike against Iran, supposedly to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Thus, this bill does not require the US to back Israel if it goes that route. Now, if Iran would unilaterally attack Israel, that would be another story, and no one would dare suggest that the US stay out of the conflict and there’s no need for a bill to cover that unlikely event.

    But don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly against this bill, for many reasons. But the issue only confirms to me that the subject of Israel is a looney tune play, scripted by idiots.

  16. seethelight on January 16, 2014, 11:40 am

    If the Israel Lobby loses in the Iran sanctions debate, as it did in its furious push for the US to bomb Syria, it will be 0-fer-2. Expect the Lobby response to be: “See, we’re not as influential as everyone believes. We’re just like every other lobby; win some, lose some.”

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