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Iran wins points from Brazil to State Dep’t (even as Bill Kristol calls for another Iraq war)

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Bill Kristol, at Rightweb

Bill Kristol, at Rightweb

Today in Brazil, Iran scored a point by drawing Nigeria in the World Cup, and the Iranian president is proud.

Rouhani’s happy about something else too: Over the weekend many American voices have been saying we must engage Iran to deal with the crisis in Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is necessary. Just as important, the usually-reliable hawk Lindsey Graham has come out for doing so.

And the hard-core neoconservative faction is flipping out over the idea. Today Bill Kristol has actually called for American boots on the ground in Iraq so that we don’t have to deal with Iran. Israel’s interests are obviously at the core of this conversation.

A sampling.

Secretary Kerry told Katie Couric of Yahoo News that the U.S. might even do a military coordination with Iran, before the Pentagon walked that part back.

QUESTION: You – will you reach out to Iran, and how can that country be helpful? Or is that like entering into a hornet’s nest, because that will inflame the Sunnis?

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re open – look, we’re open to discussions if there’s something constructive that can be contributed by Iran if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform —

QUESTION: Can you see cooperating with Iran militarily?

SECRETARY KERRY: I – at this moment, I think we need to go step by step and see what, in fact, might be a reality, but I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability,

The State Department echoed Kerry: 

does cooperation mean coordination and consultation, or is it possible that there could be some cooperation?

MS. PSAKI: It means both… if there was a constructive – something constructive that could be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform, that that would be what we would discuss.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham has defected from the neoconservative bloc on this:

“The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn’t fall,” Graham said on CNN’sState of the Union. “We need to coordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without [Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki.]”

John McCain doesn’t agree.

As for the chattering classes, tonight Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman agreed that the U.S. should work with Iran to attempt to stabilize Iraq. Earlier today Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations said the same thing on All Things Considered:

GELB: I can imagine that the Iranian leadership – these guys are pragmatic. So I think people are sufficiently desperate at this point – that if the Iranians are willing to play the kind of role they talk about, we would work with them.

[Robert] SIEGEL: How would the U.S. be able to work together with Iran in Iraq while supporting, I gather, the end of the Assad regime in Syria, where that regime is backed by the same Iranians?

GELB: This is all interconnected. And the real enemy, as far as I’m concerned, in Syria are the jihadis as well.

Last Friday Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the Nation slam-dunked David Brooks on NPR and also mentioned Iran as a force for good:

Any lasting solution has to be regional in nature and must address the political interest of all the major factions and it must involve Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. Perhaps the most promising development is that Saudi Arabia is now willing to tone down sectarian war and possibly even cooperate with Iran on Syria and Iraq.

Brooks seemed to be missing his talking points. He sought to blame Obama for pulling out of Iraq, and George W. Bush for pulling into Iraq, a move Brooks cheerled in the event.

Other neocons are now flipping out. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post says this is the time for the U.S. to exercise power. She’s frankly Israelcentric:

It seems the president will do anything to avoid using U.S. power in the region, even if it means accelerating Iran’s influence in Iraq. Imagine the reaction of our allies in Egypt, Sunni Gulf states and Israel when we let on that we are going to be assisting Iran’s hegemonic vision and thereby bolstering the state sponsor of groups including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In lieu of strengthening U.S. influence in the Middle East, Obama seems ready to bolster Iran’s. And if he is bent on this course, surely he’ll not challenge Iran and its puppet in Syria. Why, that might “upset” Iran and either wreck a nuclear deal or force Obama to handle Iraq on his own.

Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies e-mailed, “To enlist Tehran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, in a fight against ISIS, a non-state terrorist organization, makes as much sense as stocking a river with crocodiles to deal with a piranha problem.”

Now here are Bill Kristol and Frederick Kagan at the Weekly Standard: They want US boots on the ground, and say now is not the time to “relitigate” the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. It would be “disastrous” to strengthen Iran. Instead, we must “act boldly and decisively to help stop the advance of the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—without empowering Iran.” More from these armchair warriors: 

This would require a willingness to send American forces back to Iraq. It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have…

Throwing our weight behind Iran in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq, as some are suggesting, would make things even worse. Conducting U.S. airstrikes without deploying American special operators or other ground forces would in effect make the U.S. Iran’s air force. Such an approach would be extremely shortsighted. The al Qaeda threat in Iraq is great, and the U.S. must take action against it. But backing the Iranians means backing the Shi’a militias that have been the principal drivers of sectarian warfare, to say nothing of turning our backs on the moderates on both sides who are suffering the most. Allowing Iran to in effect extend its border several hundred kilometers to the west with actual troop deployments would be a strategic disaster. In addition, the U.S. would be perceived as becoming the ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran against all of the forces of the Arab and Sunni world, conceding Syria to the Iranian-backed Bashir al-Assad, and accepting the emergence of an Iranian hegemony soon to be backed by nuclear weapons. And at the end of the day, Iran is not going to be able to take over the Sunni areas of Iraq—so we would end up both strengthening Iran and not defeating ISIS.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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55 Responses

  1. John Douglas on June 16, 2014, 10:08 pm

    The neo-cons pretend to want Obama to be strong, a real leader; strong as in getting American troops killed and maimed and further alienating a potential ally, Iran, achieving nothing for the U.S., all to advance Netanyahu’s corrupt vision for Israel. Who in the mainstream will be the first to call them traitors?

  2. Kay24 on June 16, 2014, 10:11 pm

    Someone please send Bibi a big box of tissues, he must be sobbing his heart out. On the other hand be prepared to hear and see Bibi throwing a huge temper tantrum.
    His war mongering has backfired. It seems the US is getting closer to Iran – Bibi’s worst nightmare. Heh.

    • seafoid on June 17, 2014, 3:39 am

      not looking good for HaBotim
      Poor Zionism. The world is bigger than Israel, the world’s problems are bigger than Israel’s and the solutions are bigger than Israel’s needs

      “Israel’s greatest concern is whether, with the likely failure of sanctions, the United States will fulfill its reiterated undertakings to resort to military action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The repeated articulation of “engaging” rogue states is regarded by many observers as a prelude to the US substituting its policy of preventing Iran from obtaining the bomb, with a wishy-washy containment approach which paves the way for Iranian regional hegemony or obliges other Arab states to seek to obtain nuclear facilities.”

      • Kay24 on June 17, 2014, 7:45 am

        Things are certainly turning, not sure if it for the better, but to your point and comment below, so far Iran has been shown restraint and caution, for years, and not attacked it’s neighbors, unlike the only “democracy” in the middle east. Now there are strong signs that the US will work with them regarding the Iraqi situation, which is another surprise. Poor Beebs, all that chest pounding and showing cartoon bombs, came to nothing.
        I think Israel could have put all that money training hasbara to better use, despite the doomsday scenarios and lies, it seems the world is more impressed with the cooperation shown by Iran, and not impressed with the lack of cooperation by Israel when it comes to peace talks.

    • Shingo on June 17, 2014, 8:14 am

      Someone please send Bibi a big box of tissues, he must be sobbing his heart out.

      Yeah kinda.,7340,L-4531195,00.html

  3. wondering jew on June 16, 2014, 10:22 pm

    The danger of a jihadi takeover of Baghdad has people in an uproar. The choices seem to vary from bad to very bad. Monday morning quarterbacking is not the order of the day, but far be it from me to decide how this challenge should be handled. I doubt the generals wish to put boots on the ground in Iraq and there is no doubt that the American people are in no mood for such dramatics. Iran’s ascendancy began when Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 and this is the next step in Iran’s progress. How this meshes with the nuclear talks, I don’t know. A mess.

    • ritzl on June 17, 2014, 2:16 am

      @yonah- Certainly a mess in some [big, important] respects, but I think more significantly it’s a move toward inevitable and organic FP and political equilibrium. Toward a natural state of balanced interests.

      I keep using the term political entropy. This is what it looks like in real time. So much energy has been expended to contrive and enforce a condition that isolates a huge country of 75M people smack in the middle of/crucial to all our perceived regional interests. We simply don’t have the political energy to pour into enforcing that artificial condition anymore. Iran was always going to be involved, and now it is. Messily so, as you say.

      My bitterness comes from the fact that millions of dead people didn’t have to die for this “messy” realization. The realization was both foreseeable and inevitable.

    • seafoid on June 17, 2014, 3:40 am

      The need to work with Iran destroys all the Israeli hasbara about mad Iran. The Iranian leadership is very dependable, very rational.
      The apartheid running bots are mad.

      • surewin on June 17, 2014, 6:53 pm

        Iran is probably going to get even better after Khamenei passes on. Good chance there will be a reformation of the government in which unelected Supreme Leaders will be replaced by elected non-supreme ones. And there’s no reason to expect the country to depart from its tradition of cautious and non-inflammatory foreign policy. The U.S. should most definitely cooperate with Iran on the present Iraq troubles, and should reject the advice to do it ourselves in such a way as not to strengthen Iran. The only people who have anything to fear from Iran are those who want all the Muslim countries in the region to be or become failed states.

  4. Walid on June 16, 2014, 11:59 pm

    “Secretary Kerry told Katie Couric of Yahoo News that the U.S. might even do a military coordination with Iran, before the Pentagon walked that part back.”

    That was Kerry’s second time to extend a hand to Iran. He first did it and probably to Israel’s worst horror by also including Hizbullah in Beirut 2 weeks ago in talking about resolving the conflict in Syria when he said that Russia, Iran and Hizbullah must engage. From Nahar:

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Wednesday Russia, Iran, and Hizbullah to help end the war in Syria, saying that Lebanon has felt the impact of the crisis more than any other country.

    He said: “Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah must engage in a legitimate effort to bring this war to an end.”

    • Justpassingby on June 17, 2014, 12:54 am

      he mean Russia, Iran, Hezbollah is responsible for the war and must stop their activivities.

      • Walid on June 17, 2014, 3:55 am

        It’s hard to understand the US being against the Sunni fundies and backing the Shia dictator in Iraq while at the same time arming the Sunni fundies and opposing the Alawite (Shia) dictator in Syria.

      • ritzl on June 17, 2014, 5:14 am

        Exactly. Completely incoherent – on the surface.

      • Sumud on June 17, 2014, 5:54 am

        Right – on the surface.

        Nations that are imploding in a civil war can’t effectively work against Israel, and that appears to be the decades-long and (ongoing goal in Iraq), and the goal for Syria also.

        Lindsay Graham [my emphasis]:

        We need to coordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without [Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki.]”

        Why would the Iranians work with the US to oust Al Maliki and therefore limit their influence and reach in Iraq? Will a new Sunni puppet-leader that Lindsay Graham approves of be likely to facilitate transfer of weapons from Iran to Syria and southern Lebanon?

        Either this is about finishing off Assad by cutting the supply lines between Iran and Syria, or about hobbling Hizbollah in the same way – probably it’s both.

      • LeaNder on June 17, 2014, 12:08 pm

        Walid, we don’t know all of it. Maybe the funding of the Syria fundies was an unintended outcome. Initially it was meant to go pro-democracy forces. Maybe the problem was partly the channels? Or did the information how they can be tapped spread?

        What is needed may well be more serious discussions about the lefts underhand pro-democracy support and the interests behind it. Just as the rights creating-democracy-via-war. I have the diverse color revolutions in mind, which lately aren’t so colorful anymore. Maybe since it suggests quite a bit of planning behind it? On the other hand at least in the Ukraine all it sweeps up are the powerful oligarchs and related respective interests.

        If you create revolutions ultimately the dynamics are out of your hand. Just in Iraq forces may take over that you really didn’t want to start with. That’s were the two different approaches meet.

      • Walid on June 17, 2014, 3:57 pm

        LeaNder, not much that happens is unintended. Terrorists arriving in Syria from 80 different countries via training camps in Jordan and Turkey and arriving with arms couldn’t be unintended. Think back to the mixture of people released from prisons that were allowed to join the fight in Libya and you’d see that those fundies that arrived in Syria are very much intended to be there by the West. It’s odd how today Western countries seem to know exactly how many jihadists left their home countries to join the takfiris in Syria, how many are still alive and the risk they would cause to their Western countries upon their return, such as the alleged Brussels assassin. I still remember the refugee tent cities that were set up inside Turkey’s borders weeks before the actual rebellion broke out and refugees started fleeing from Syria.

        A while back, I read that the bogus popular Egyptian people’s revolution’s slogan about the people wanting a regime change had been the product of a professional PR campaign. Here’s an interesting video on pre-planned revolutions and regime changes including the one of Ukraine that you mentioned, from Russsia TV (of course):

    • Shingo on June 17, 2014, 8:17 am

      That was Kerry’s second time to extend a hand to Iran. He first did it and probably to Israel’s worst horror by also including Hizbullah in Beirut 2 weeks ago in talking about resolving the conflict in Syria when he said that Russia, Iran and Hizbullah must engage.

      It’s mind blowing stuff Walid. Never in a million years did I ever think I would hear a Sec of State give such regard to Hizbullah.

      • John Douglas on June 17, 2014, 9:24 am

        Kerry turn out to be the Realist extraordinaire and to have some backbone to boot. I think he’ll keep saying nice things about our “ally” Israel, but I think too that he’s written Bibi off for now. I say, for now, because if he can accomplish a “détente” between the U.S. and Iran then the Israelis will have to stop thumbing noses at the U.S. and a solution of sorts may emerge for I/P. If that even seems likely Kerry, contrary to my previous thoughts of him, will be treated well by history.

  5. ritzl on June 17, 2014, 1:52 am

    The ole “boots on the ground” refrain, eh? The commentariat should ask Kristol and Kagan whether their kids and grandkids are going to enlist in the Marines to kill and be killed to support that “vision.”

    What these people seek to do exclusively with the blood of OPK (other people’s kids) is repugnant in the extreme.

    Thankfully, people in the US are recognizing that this is exactly what’s happening and are reacting with appropriate visceral disgust (as reflected by SC Sen. Graham, imho). I think that popular upwelling is what is going to relegate neocons to the proverbial dustbin, not some editorial decision.

    And the more these clowns are given a national platform to spout the “bad for Israel” line as first principle in the spilling of OPK blood, the more dangerous this becomes for Jews in general, innocent as well as not-so-innocent. One would think that this very real danger (i.e. Israel continually maintaining that it represents all Jews) would be recognized and addressed within the Jewish community and these neocon crazies would get slapped down hard from within. There’s just no good outcome to what Kristol, Kagan, Brooks, etc. etc. etc. are advocating, on every conceivable level. When your kid/dad/husband comes home dead or permanently damaged in yet another neocon war, advocated by a group increasingly identifiable as Jews, for the explicit, Sunday-morning-talk-show-stated benefit of Israel, the “anti-semite” charge becomes viscerally meaningless.

    I sure don’t want any of this to happen (well, except for the slapped down hard part), but when people that have been proven so catastrophically and destructively and expensively wrong start advocating that “more of your [not my] kids must die for my selfish interest” to people that have already paid such a heavy price for the very same policy, they are playing a very very dangerous game.

  6. Walid on June 17, 2014, 3:45 am

    Ritzl, it’s not so much about Kristol and the gang as much as it’s a Sunni-Shia rumble that started with Syria and has now spread to Iraq. Russians and Americans are playing supporting roles in all of this with other players from the West and from the Gulf taking sides. Saudia in its religious zeal has become a runaway horse that the US cannot or dares not rein in, so it’s going for a second best option by somewhat siding with Iran simply to snuff out the fundy fire that has grown out of control. This piece is back to having Israel and its friends at the center of the universe with everything revolving around them.

    • ritzl on June 17, 2014, 4:58 am

      Walid, To me you have to go back further than Syria (4 years?). The Sunni-Shia antagonism has always been there. Kristol/gang have been pushing to exploit it for a few decades now. They succeeded in 2003 in getting Bush II to violently, abruptly, and for no discernable reality-based reason to uncork that bottle.

      Now as the products of their success become apparent, they want more US kids to be used to contain the forces they unleashed.* While they are not, as you say, the basis of the conflict, they are centrally responsible for how deadly acute and widespread it has become “over there” because of the disastrously [mis?]calculated policies they shepherded through in the US (explicitly for Israel). Another way to say that is that this situation doesn’t escalate to the level it’s at now without US/Gulf support (imho, the Russians were trying to de-escalate Syria – pre-Ukraine [Hmmm…]).

      Heck, even in the ’80s we were arming both sides of the Iran-Iraq war (as I saw Robert Gates “wink-wink” about in a Senate hearing a few years ago). To me, the question becomes whether the long-simmering Shia-Sunni conflict would have boiled over as it has without Kristol’s, et. al. efforts here domestically. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it would have. Their choice of method was and is whacking the proverbial hornet’s nest.

      I agree about KSA as motivation for this current approach to Iran. Though that seems reactionary and situational rather than a product of any foresight.

      I’m not sure I understood your last sentence, specifically “This piece…”

      I really do try to keep comments short, but you raise so many great contextual and subtextual points that it’s hard.

      * There’s the whole separate moral/[geo]political/practical discussion on how Hussein kept those forces in check in ethnically-diverse and colonially-devised Iraq, and how less repression could have been organically homegrown.

      • Walid on June 17, 2014, 5:38 am

        Ritzl, about it being homegrown or nurtured by the West, it goes back much farther back. It’s about fundy Islam having been first used by the British in the early 1920s to maintain their colonial hegemony over the ME and when they decided to walk away from their colonial enterprise in the early 1950s, the Americans rushed to to take their place to use fundamentalist Islamism as a tool for subversion, especially in its conflict with the USSR. What we are seeing today in uncontrolled fundamentalism among sicko Muslims is the fruit of that British/American enterprise. After the Muslim Brotherhood’s failed attempt to kill Nasser in the early 50s, they fled to Saudi Arabia that became the breeding grounds for various fundamentalist movements that fought the USSR in Afghanistan and later for their own accounts as al-Qaeda. This is what happened in the current Syrian uprising and now in Iraq. It’s only just the beginning.

        Interesting historical essay on the West’s use of Islamic fundamentalism here on MW:

    • piotr on June 17, 2014, 7:33 am

      My private metaphor is pet cobra. The inspiration comes from Sunni extremists supported by ISI, and from a Polish tale on a peasant saving a viper, only to be bitten when the viper was warm and energetic. Turkey and the Saudis have a nice bunch of pet cobras there, so they could be the putative “runaway horses”, but I did not see a trace of an effort to reign them.

      The casuistry that we should identify the good terrorists and prevent them from selling stuff or getting robbed by the bad terrorists is either utterly stupid (can they really believe in it?) or indifferent (just drop weapons in heaps on Turkish border, and whoever will pick them up, Assad will suffer and he is a bad guy).

  7. ToivoS on June 17, 2014, 5:12 am

    This hopefully leads to a lessening of tensions between Iran and the US. Poor Israel is left sucking eggs on this one.

    An important contributing factor in empowering ISIS was the Obama admin deciding to support the rebellion against Assad in Syria. Now the US is forced into the uncomfortable position of having to fight Assad’s enemy. Even though Obama tried to send our supplies and support to the FSA, much of that material ended up in the hands of the Islamists. Today FSA is no longer a factor in the civil war but all of those weapons we sent are still on the battlefield. This was our contribution while our allies Turkey, Qatar and the Saudis (which we encouraged) provided even more direct support.

    These facts need to be known by the American people. Especially, since it was Hillary Clinton who was the main proponent inside the Obama admin for supporting the rebels. This fact is not in dispute. Indeed, Hillary in her recent book even chastises Obama for not being more aggressive as she wished. This needs to be an issue when Hillary announces her candidacy for the presidency.

    • Walid on June 17, 2014, 5:53 am

      “Even though Obama tried to send our supplies and support to the FSA, much of that material ended up in the hands of the Islamists. ”

      The 70-planeloads of arms from Croatia did not end up in the hands of the Islamists, they were expressly delivered to them via Jordan and Turkey. The initial arms route had been from Libya, until the American ambassador there was killed. The US saying that the arms were destined for the FSA is putting lipstick on a pig.

      Interesting comment by the Sayyid today:

      Nasrallah: ISIS in Beirut if not for Hezbollah
      June 17, 2014 11:23 AM
      The Daily Star

      BEIRUT: If Hezbollah had not gotten embroiled in the war in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) would have taken over Beirut by now, the resistance party’s chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned.

      “If we [Hezbollah] hadn’t intervened in Syria the right way and at the right time, ISIS would be in Beirut now,” Nasrallah told leaders of Mahdi Scouts, in remarks published Tuesday in As-Safir newspaper.

      He questioned the role of “some Gulf and regional countries” in the violence in Iraq and raised doubts about the U.S.’s position on what is going on there.

      “Trust me. The magic will turn against the magician,” he warned. “Gone are the days that allowed the demolition of religious sanctities.”

      The U.S. administration has signaled that it is willing to enter into talks with Iran over the advance of Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

      Nasrallah, nevertheless, lauded the position of the religious authorities in Iraq’s Shiite holy city Najaf, saying their call to arms against terrorists “was not intended to protect a particular sect but to protect the entire Iraq.”

      Hezbollah has fought openly alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad against the largely Sunni rebels since the beginning of 2013. Their involvement in the Syrian civil war has drawn considerable criticism from domestic political rivals. The resistance party came under increasing pressure to withdraw after a series of bombings in Lebanon, claimed by Syrian rebels in retaliation for Hezbollah’s role in Syria.

  8. piotr on June 17, 2014, 7:48 am

    A crazy speculation: weak Iraq can be to some degree boon to Iran. As a de-facto ally, Maliki government was somewhat disappointing, but with Baghdad relying on Quds force and militias trained by Quds force, they will be obedient.

    And the government in Baghdad should have plenty of cash, with oil export being double of Iranian — what do they do with all that money anyway. Furthermore, it was reported that Iranians supply Syria with 0,130 mbd of oil per day, so there must be pipelines or something (tankers?) to deliver Iranian oil to Iraq. Thus Iran could sell its oil as Iraqi oil, Iraqi banks getting the payments and passing to Iranian (after coverting to Chinese currency?). You cannot move that much stuff and money without being noticed (tens of millions of tons, tens of billions of dollars), but Americans do not want Baghdad government to fail and ISIS to take over, so they would have to close their eyes.

    The tricky part for Iran will be to regain land route to Syria quickly, while Iraqi cities will be retaken at leisure. But this is a sensible strategy anyway.

  9. piotr on June 17, 2014, 7:56 am

    What is the first wrong thing with that sentence: “To enlist Tehran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, in a fight against ISIS, a non-state terrorist organization, makes as much sense as stocking a river with crocodiles to deal with a piranha problem.”

    To me, it is a proposition that “we” can enlist Tehran or not. Whether Tehran will be enlisted or not, and on what conditions, is being negotiated between Najaf and Qom and “we” will not after the fact what they have decided. Don’t worry your little heads, neocons.

    • just on June 17, 2014, 8:07 am

      In order to deal with the root of the massive problem and our own deception, we need to acknowledge that we in the West and Israel are integral to and perpetrators of ‘terror’ ourselves.

      This needs to be fully addressed, imho. The whole idea of “GWOT” is disingenuous, to put it mildly.

      • piotr on June 17, 2014, 4:51 pm

        I would argue that my answer is better because the first BS in the sentence is “to enlist Tehran”, but the author managed have only commas as non-BS. For example, restoring the population of Orinoco crocodiles could be a sensible way to address the surfeit of piranhas, if that were an actual problem.

      • just on June 17, 2014, 5:03 pm

        LOL, piotr! Brilliant.

      • Feathers on June 17, 2014, 6:12 pm

        This needs to be fully addressed, imho. The whole idea of “GWOT” is disingenuous, to put it mildly.

        A good starting point for “addressing …GWOT … fully” would be the Jerusalem Conference at the Jonathan Institute, July 1979, presided over by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu. At that conference the blueprint for the global war on terror were rolled out for a western audience that included George Herbert Walker Bush. Bibi edited the book that recorded the conference’s proceedings, International Terrorism: Challenge and Response.

        Milemarker 5 must be Benji Netanyahu’s appearance before a US Congressional committee chaired by Dan Burton on Sept. 12, 2002, the same day George Bush the younger appeared at the United Nations to state his rationale for invading Iraq. Netanyahu the younger urged the committee to endorse Bush’s plan, since, Bibi argued, “Iraq is the keystone of a network of terror that includes Iran, Syria, Libya … Take out the keystone and the rest will fall.”

        In response to Dennis Kucinich’s question about the position of Iran on the list of Middle East nations to be “taken out,” Bibi responded that Iran’s young people could be “subverted” by beaming in “Beverly Hills 90210” and similar programming calculated to turn young people into consumers with insatiable appetites.

  10. Shingo on June 17, 2014, 8:20 am

    These developments are incredible.

    Hillary Mann Leverit and her husband Flynt must be smiling. They have said for years that the US has must sooner or later face the fact that it cannot solve it’s problems in Iraq and Afghanistan without dealing with Iran first.

    My head is still spinning that Lindsay Graham has joined the chorus.

    It’s also worth mentioning that if Kerry has raised this matter in public, it’s very likely that Washington and the Iranians are already talking and a good deal of the way too.

  11. Shingo on June 17, 2014, 8:28 am

    Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post says this is the time for the U.S. to exercise power. She’s frankly Israelcentric:

    I can’t believe that harpie still has a blog at WAPO. I used to read it occasionally for laughs seeing as 99.9% of comments shred her to pieces. All I can say is that Fred Hiatt must be pulling some huge favours to keep her on staff.

  12. a blah chick on June 17, 2014, 8:34 am

    “Now here are Bill Kristol and Frederick Kagan at the Weekly Standard: They want US boots on the ground, and say now is not the time to “relitigate”…

    I will refrain fron “relitigating” if Kristol, Kagan, et al will refrain from offering advice about a mess they helped to create!


  13. just on June 17, 2014, 8:34 am

    Wm Hague is ready to open UK embassy in Iran……

    Netanyahu must be gnashing his choppers– better wear the dental guard!

    • MHughes976 on June 17, 2014, 8:54 am

      Well, I’ve called Hague a twerp. Perhaps I owe him an apology.
      The Great West, centred on the United States but extending to the wider ‘traditional’ English-speaking world, to the Euro-NATO countries and by adoption to Israel, is still overwhelmingly the strongest force in the world but, as we’re finding out, not the strongest force at every point in the world and not able to defend all our widespread interests without reference to anyone else. This applies to cultural and financial and increasingly even to strictly military power: we found this or were reminded of it in Ukraine the other week. We do not have enough money, enough readiness to endure hardship or (most important of all) enough numbers to be kings and emperors for ever.

      • Feathers on June 17, 2014, 2:02 pm

        bully for the UK, opening an embassy in Tehran, but if I were Iran, I would be a bit wary. Iranians did not take hostages at US embassy on a college lark, they did so after discovering in inadequately shredded documents evidence that US was spying on and subverting the interests of the Iranian people, under the protective cover of the US embassy.

        There’s a lot of mistrust that will have to be rebuilt before High Fives are celebrated all around.

    • ritzl on June 17, 2014, 10:04 am

      Wow! Is enough finally becoming enough?

      Hope so.

  14. amigo on June 17, 2014, 9:10 am

    I was about to post that just.

    Great news and so annoying for our zionist friends.

  15. hophmi on June 17, 2014, 12:30 pm

    What’s your view, Phil? Aren’t human rights activists supposed to be critical of the idea of the United States working with dictatorships with poor human rights records? Aren’t you the people who never tire of reminding us how the United States worked with Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s? So why are you endorsing an alliance between the United States and Shia fundamentalists today?

    • Feathers on June 17, 2014, 3:14 pm

      I’m not Phil, but it’s worth observing that the US “works with” Israel, a state that routinely violates human rights.

      btw, precisely whose human rights are Iranians violating, hophmi, and what makes you so concerned about them?

      • hophmi on June 17, 2014, 3:45 pm

        Seriously? It’s one of the least free societies in the world.

      • Feathers on June 17, 2014, 6:19 pm

        whoa, hophmi is hitting me with — with — with Freedom House!

        Well, I’m convinced.

        Ruth Wedgwood wouldn’t dissemble, and Kenneth Adelman doesn’t have an axe to grind. Freedom House vice-chair Thomas Dine has no conflicts of interest, and Joshua “We Must Bomb Iran” Muravchik is the soul of objective analysis.


      • Shingo on June 18, 2014, 2:37 am

        Ruth Wedgwood wouldn’t dissemble, and Kenneth Adelman doesn’t have an axe to grind. Freedom House vice-chair Thomas Dine has no conflicts of interest, and Joshua “We Must Bomb Iran” Muravchik is the soul of objective analysis

        Oh snap!!

        Nicely done feathers – mind you, Hop walked right into that one. Next thing he’ll cite Bill Krystol and David Horowitz.

      • hophmi on June 18, 2014, 3:47 pm

        “Well, I’m convinced.”

        Yeah, you should be. Freedom House was started by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie. Its annual reports are highly regarded by political scientists.

        But, no problem. In the 2012 Democracy Index, conducted by The Economist, Iran ranks tenth from the bottom. Convinced now?

      • Shingo on June 18, 2014, 7:27 pm

        Its annual reports are highly regarded by political scientists.

        Which political scientists?

        In the 2012 Democracy Index, conducted by The Economist, Iran ranks tenth from the bottom. Convinced now?

        And Israel ranks 47th – behind countries like Indonesia, Guinea, Ghana and doesn’t even qualify as a democracy, but is considered a hybrid regime.

      • piotr on June 17, 2014, 7:33 pm

        Indeed, Iran is worse, according to Freedom House, than Saudi Arabia in “Press freedom”, “Legal environment” and “Political environment”, eking a bit better only in “economic environment”. That really got me interested. Is Saudi press more free? Web search. Saudi Gazette. Cut and paste:

        With regard to the article “What makes TV ‘halal’ and cinema ‘haram’?” (June 13), inshAllah cinemas will never be allowed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are of absolutely no benefit for people in this life or in the Hereafter.

        Further clicking showed that this was a reader opinion, and the full discussion included another opinion:

        It seems to me that this article is using one bad thing to justify another bad thing. Here are a few facts: 1. Many TV programs and films show things that Islam does not permit us to watch. 2. Millions of TVs operating for hours every day consume hundreds of millions of watts of electricity. 3. Watching TV and films is a nonproductive activity. 4. You could use this time to interact with your family to create stronger family bonds.

        [Interaction with future family members is one of the chief reasons to watch movies in some countries, but I guess this is my inner cultural imperialist thinking.]

        A spirited discussion! And what a spectrum of opinion at the Opinion page, behold and admire:

        The distressing constraints on young couples

        Abdul Qadeer Khan and the peaceful use of nuclear energy

        Putin’s masterful game

        Middle East and the Kingdom seem so tranquil this week!! After lugubrious fare here in Mondoweiss, Saudi Gazette restored my composure.

        I was also interested in Bahrein, an important ally with a US naval base, but you get those reports by hovering over the map, so it is hard for a small country.

      • piotr on June 17, 2014, 7:40 pm

        Actually, I would recommend the article about Abdul Qadeer Khan, because it explains how Saudis understand the phrase “peaceful use” (making bombs that are subsequently not used), and consequently, why they are not totally convinced that peaceful used of nuclear energy by Iran is a good thing. Plus, some of you may not know how admirable is Abdul Qadeer Khan.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 17, 2014, 4:03 pm

      Hey, hoppy, did you get around to condemning the Israeli for murdering those two Palestinian teens on Nakba day, or are you too concerned with the mote in Phil’s eye?

  16. Feathers on June 17, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Graham’s comments should be listened to and assessed very carefully, with the history that he glibly used to introduce them clearly understood (see Why a False Understanding of [History] Matters ).

    Graham’s opening implied that US should use Iran just as US used Stalin’s forces in World War II. To date, many Americans think that the US won WWII single-handed; that (false) triumphalism was celebrated again on the 70th anniversary of D Day.

    The facts are that Russian troops destroyed Berlin (from the ground) while Eisenhower held Allied forces out of harm’s way. From Berlin, Russian troops stormed into Poland and initiated about four decades of misery and suffering as the region was divided and the US exchanged a hot war with an “ally of convenience” for a Cold War against that ally-turned-adversary.

    Hillary Mann Leverett assessed Lindsay Graham’s proposal with history fully in mind, and offered this nuanced analysis:

    durn it, can’t embed the video clip —

    here’s the link —

    from 7:00 to 10:12 min.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 17, 2014, 4:31 pm

      “Graham’s opening implied that US should use Iran just as US used Stalin’s forces in World War II.”

      Yeah, that’s stupid.

      “To date, many Americans think that the US won WWII single-handed; that (false) triumphalism was celebrated again on the 70th anniversary of D Day.”

      That is true. We did the bulk of the work in the Pacific and the Soviets did the bulk of the work in Europe.

      “The facts are that Russian troops destroyed Berlin (from the ground) while Eisenhower held Allied forces out of harm’s way.”

      Not true. There was some talk about the Allies dashing across Northern Germany to get to Berlin first, but it was never a likely scenario, given the successes of Bagration and the failure of Market Garden (not to mention the Battle of the Bulge. By February ’45, the Red Army was within 50 miles of Berlin and the Allies hadn’t yet reached the Elbe). And the Allied troops in the West weren’t “out of harm’s way,” not by a long shot. (The Germans put 200,000 men into the Battle of the Bulge, for example.)

      Further, it would have been foolish for the US to try to take Berlin, given the fact that the post-war occupation zones had already been decided upon and Berlin lay well in the Russian Zone. The US was going to be in Southern German and Bavaria (stemming, ultimately, from how the US forces were amassed in Southern Britain, interestingly enough), so there was no military purpose in the US capturing Berlin. I think the notion that Ike could have gotten Berlin first but didn’t is a bit of 50’s anti-communist hype.

      “From Berlin, Russian troops stormed into Poland and initiated about four decades of misery and suffering”

      Actually, since the Red Army had to cross Poland to get to Berlin, they didn’t “storm” back; they were already there by that time. The Soviets already had a communist-led provisional government, the Polish Committee of National Liberation, also known as the Lublin Committee, and installed them after the Red Army took control. (Insert discussion here about whether Stalin halted Bagration to permit the Nazis to crush the Warsaw uprising so as to prevent a native Polish government to arise without it being dominated by the Soviets…)

      • RoHa on June 17, 2014, 7:54 pm

        ” There was some talk about the Allies dashing across Northern Germany to get to Berlin first,”

        Montgomery allegedly put forward a plan for going from Sicily or Italy to Yugoslavia, landing on the part of the coast held by the partisans, and then heading straight north across central Europe to Berlin. This plan meant that there would be no need to fight for a beachhead, and, perhaps more importantly for Monty, it would limit the Soviet advance into Europe while at the same time putting the German forces into a very tight squeeze. Obvious disadvantages of the plan are the logistics and then moving the huge forces over the Yugoslav mountains.

        “We did the bulk of the work in the Pacific”

        But it would be nice to see an occasional acknowledgement of the fact that MacArthur’s advance in the Philippines was made possible by the Australians doing all the hard work in New Guinea.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 18, 2014, 10:45 am

        “Montgomery allegedly put forward a plan …”

        I’ve heard of this, but don’t know how serious a claim it is. Given the mess that the Italian campaign became and his response to it, I’d have to believe that if Montgomery seriously proposed this, it would have been so early on not to have been much more than a musing. (And, frankly, it’s kind of a stupid plan that had no chance of success. It eliminates the use of some allied air assets, has impossible to defend supply lines, would be a logistical nightmare, provides plentiful opportunities for German defense, and prevents the Allies from using one of their key assets: its ability to field a strong, broad-front attack to weaken or eliminate the ability of the Germans to mass troops and asssets.)

        As for the Australians in New Guinea, I agree completely. I think that the Australian contribution to the Pacific War was overlooked, especially considering the proximity of the fighting to Northern Queensland and the Northern Territories. Mostly, I think it’s because the way that the war ended: the Northern island-hopping thrust through the Gilberts and the Marshalls and the Marianas was seen to be “the” Pacific War, after air power provided to be the main weapon in the attack on the Japanese Home Islands. This is unfortunate because it casts the action along the southern route: in the Solomons, New Guinea, the Philippines, etc., almost get cast as a sideshow, which is totally unfair.

      • RoHa on June 18, 2014, 9:24 pm

        As I recall, Monty had this idea just as they were taking Sicily. Something on the lines of “I’ve got the eighth army here. I’ve just beaten the Germans in North Africa. Just keep going North.” Not much more than a musing, I agree.

        I’ve read an analysis that suggests the southern Pacific action was actually unnecessary, and that if Nimitz’s thrust across the Pacific had taken Taiwan, that would have been sufficient to cut Japan’s supply routes and end the war. I doubt it a bit. (I’ve also read a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the allies would have won just as quickly if all the Americans had stayed home and concentrated on producing weapons. I doubt that, too. Australia was running out of manpower, and the British, Indian, and Canadian forces were all fully extended. The Chinese were busy. To man a fleet the size of the US Pacific fleet would have needed left-overs from the USSR and New Zealand. But it certainly recognizes the importance of the immense industrial capacity of the US.)

        MacArthur’s offices here in Brisbane are a small museum. Nonetheless, there is residual resentment at the way a man with less battle experience than many of the Australian commanders and troops was set above them, referred to them only as “Allied” troops, and left them on the sidelines.

  17. bilal a on June 18, 2014, 9:59 am

    Romney and Kristol are caricatures of the blood thirsty fanged parasite.

    Bill Kristol’s son-in-law declares combat war on opportunistic social climbers

    Questions About Romney’s Sons and Military Service

    C: How old were you in 1972?

    K: 19.

    C: That’s old enough.

    K: No I was in the lottery for one year, and Nixon canceled the draft, and so I didn’t volunteer.

    C: Great man.

    K: [Uncomfortable laughter.]

    Enough with economic war by proxy.

    Make the sons and grandsons of Bain and Heritage F. in the first battalion to hit the beach.

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