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Obama gets on the same page with Iran (‘we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past’)

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on 32 Comments

The Iranian nuclear talks are continuing another day in Vienna. Indications are that the parties are getting closer all the time:

Presence & dialog bet @JohnKerry& @JZarif during extended period of time is highly significant& shows determination.

Laura Rozen:

[State Dep’t spokesperson Marie] Harf: [Sec’y of State John] Kerry will remain in Vienna to continue discussions with P5+1, EU high rep [Federica] Mogherini & Iran FM [Javad] Zarif

Though Andrea Mitchell poured cold water over the deal last night on NBC. And Ted Cruz wants Kerry to come home.

But (as we noted yesterday) Iran is pushing the deal so as to fight “extremism” in the region. And President Obama seems to be on the same page. Yesterday, just in time for the Vienna talks, made a statement about fighting “this scourge of violent extremism” — Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, ISIL– and his message contained several signals that he wants Iran’s help as a partner:

It is not enough for us to simply send in American troops to temporarily set back organizations like ISIL, but to then, as soon as we leave, see that void filled once again with extremists.  It is going to be vital for us to make sure that we are preparing the kinds of local ground forces and security forces with our partners that can not only succeed against ISIL, but then sustain in terms of security and in terms of governance.

Because if we try to do everything ourselves all across the Middle East, all across North Africa, we’ll be playing Whack-a-Mole and there will be a whole lot of unintended consequences that ultimately make us less secure.

And was this a sign that he is distancing himself from Israel, and its neverending denial of Palestinian rights?

Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies.  Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States….

We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. That was the president’s powerful statement praising “change” last week when he announced reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba:

The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can -– and will –- change…

Time and again, America has demonstrated that part of our leadership in the world is our capacity to change.  It’s what inspires the world to reach for something better.

A year ago, it might have seemed impossible that the United States would once again be raising our flag, the stars and stripes, over an embassy in Havana.  This is what change looks like.

“This is what change looks like” also applies to the Iran relationship, of course. Obama is deadset on making the Iran deal part of his legacy.

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Philip Weiss

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

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32 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on July 7, 2015, 1:43 pm

    I HATE TO SAY THIS, BUT:
    I almost hope they don’t reach an agreement, because I don’t want to hear all the caterwauling from Netanyahu and the Likudniks (including much of the U.S. Congress)!

    • RoHa on July 7, 2015, 8:45 pm

      That’s not a proper caterwaul. It sounds more like “Come and play with me”, as heard at two-thirty in the morning. A full caterwaul is the sound you get when a strange cat comes and looks in your window.

      • JLewisDickerson on July 8, 2015, 4:54 pm

        I know, but it was so damn cute!
        Perhaps this will be more to your liking:

      • JLewisDickerson on July 8, 2015, 5:14 pm

        Or this one:
        “Caterwaul” by And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

        P.S.
        ISRAEL: “You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead”

      • RoHa on July 8, 2015, 9:25 pm

        Ooops! I started playing the bobcat one, and the sound woke up Her Highness. She started looking around to see where the interloper was. I had to turn off the sound and explain to her it was just the odd machine.

        Yes, that is the sound.

  2. HarryLaw on July 7, 2015, 1:43 pm

    “The dispute between the US and Iran about its nuclear activities was made in Washington. It arose because the US attempted to deny Iran its “inalienable right” under the NPT to engage in uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity for peaceful purposes under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA)”. So say David Morrison and Peter Oborne http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/made-washington-how-us-manufactured-iranian-nuclear-threat-1783807235 Obama’s willingness to do a deal would not be part of a comprehensive rapprochement, in my opinion this was never about nuclear weapons, rather a determination to hold back Iran’s economic growth and regional influence [the arc of resistance] at the behest of Israel and Israel’s new friend the Saudis. The Iranians are now pretty well self sufficient, thanks to their Russian and Chinese friends, the sanctions regime would soon collapse when it becomes obvious that the US was being unreasonable

  3. Bumblebye on July 7, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Isn’t it odd that the story of an unnamed country spying on the talks a week or two ago just disappeared within 24 hours. Did it even reach your side of the Atlantic?

  4. lysias on July 7, 2015, 3:14 pm

    I heard Philip Gordon interviewed on radio a couple of days ago. He said that we have interests in common with Iran (like wanting to eliminate ISIS) and that it would be a catastrophe if Assad were overthrown in the present situation.

  5. hophmi on July 7, 2015, 3:18 pm

    “Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies. Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States….”

    And you believe that making a deal with the leading state supporter of terrorism, a theocratic dictatorship, reflects this?

    • lysias on July 7, 2015, 3:27 pm

      Iran is a greater supporter of terrorism than Saudi Arabia?

      • Mayhem on July 8, 2015, 9:19 am

        @lysias what terrorist proxies does Saudi Arabia nurture?

        Iran is pushing the deal so as to fight “extremism” in the region

        What sort of puffery is this? Nobody heard of Hezbollah?

    • annie on July 7, 2015, 3:39 pm

      iran isn’t the leading state supporter of terrorism, not by a long shot. that’s netanyahu’s propaganda. that’s emergency committee for israel propaganda. that’s just rehashed neocon talking pts hops. what bs.

    • annie on July 7, 2015, 3:47 pm

      And you believe that making a deal with the leading state supporter of terrorism, a theocratic dictatorship, reflects this?

      here’s another way you’re a propagandist hops. context is everything and this is how phil prefaced the paragraph you referenced :

      And was this a sign that he is distancing himself from Israel, and its neverending denial of Palestinian rights?

      Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies. Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States….

      divert divert divert

      • hophmi on July 7, 2015, 11:59 pm

        And again, is Iran, a theocratic, antisemitic country that empowers American enemies (you’re incapable of calling people who kill Jews terrorists, that’s your moral failing) in the American interest?

      • Mooser on July 8, 2015, 2:26 pm

        “that’s your moral failing”

        Yes, Your Holiness.

    • eljay on July 7, 2015, 3:54 pm

      || hophmi: And you believe that making a deal with the leading state supporter of terrorism, a theocratic dictatorship, reflects this? ||

      It reflects it about as much as America’s “no light between” support for an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” which has been committing (war) crimes with impunity for almost 70 years and shows no sign of slowing down.

      • michelle on July 8, 2015, 3:55 am

        .
        murderers are not known to slow down/or stop themselves
        it is usually those witnessing the murder that stop the murder
        .
        Is Israel the abuser/murderer in this sick worlds snuff flick
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

      • Lillian Rosengarten on July 9, 2015, 3:28 pm

        Hopmi
        You are drawing conclusions about Iran completely untrue and spread terrible pseudo anti=Semitism very much like the Zionist hasbara and manufactured lies they try to sell to people who do not question revisionist history.The US is responsible for terrible crimes against Iran that started by getting rid of a democratic socialist who was elected president before the US got rid of him to be replaced with the most corrupt and contemptible Shah of Iran.

    • hardteachings on July 7, 2015, 11:38 pm

      of all the mis-direction propagated vis~a~vis western media, the “iran is the leading sponsor of state terrorism” canard ranks among the top contenders.
      i would expect a similar opinion from my un-washed brethren in north america; most of whom should still be ‘walking on all fours’ but decidedly
      not from a frequent commenter on this site.

      really hophmi, get a library card or admit you’re a shill; ’cause what we say and do becomes our legacy, big or small, righteous or not so much. just say’n…h

    • Walker on July 8, 2015, 3:02 pm

      And you believe that making a deal with the leading state supporter of terrorism, a theocratic dictatorship, reflects this?

      Iran is one of the most democratic countries in the Middle East. It’s far more democratic than our closest Arab allies – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt.

      “the Leading state supporter of terrosrism” is rich coming from a partisan of one of the leading state practitioners of terrorism.

      • hophmi on July 12, 2015, 9:12 am

        One of the most Democratic countries in the Middle East? Yes, I agree. And it’s still basically a theocratic dictatorship. Sad.

    • diasp0ra on July 12, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Hey, maybe if the US and the UK didn’t overthrow Mossadegh and let the fledgling Iranian democracy manage its own affairs, maybe it wouldn’t have been a “theocratic dictatorship” or whatever flavor of the month Iran is being called.

  6. Keith on July 7, 2015, 6:07 pm

    “Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people….”

    …Will probably be subjected to an imperial destabilization campaign. Watch out Greece!

    • Citizen on July 8, 2015, 5:55 am

      56% of Greece’s wealth is owned by 10% of its population, and it is this group that notoriously avoids paying its fair share of taxes. None of the EU/IMF bailouts trickled down to the average Greek citizen. They mainly helped the banks. Sound familiar?

  7. JWalters on July 7, 2015, 8:47 pm

    Every time Obama talks plainly about equal human rights for all in the Middle East, he frightens the Israelis. That says it all. If it weren’t for the vast war profits behind Israel, buying and bullying British and American media and political people, it could not be causing all this conflict. He’s clearly doing this on purpose.

    • hophmi on July 12, 2015, 9:14 am

      Yes, because democracy in Egypt brought us religious fanatics from the Muslim Brotherhood who ruled as despots and democracy in Iraq collapsed and brought us ISIS. You seem to think that taking about democracy is the same thing as creating it.

      • annie on July 12, 2015, 11:08 am

        democracy in Iraq collapsed and brought us ISIS.

        lol, seriously you crack me up.

      • just on July 12, 2015, 11:21 am

        +1, Annie!

        hophmi~ you are lol ridiculous in everything that you just wrote!

        (Can you please tell me why there are ‘rumors’ that your PM is aiding and abetting ISIS et al?)

  8. Walker on July 8, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Every time Obama talks plainly about equal human rights for all in the Middle East, he frightens the Israelis.

    Excellent insight!

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