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Peace moves breaking out?

It was little more than a week ago that the US seemed on the verge of bombing Syria, an action that threatened to spread to Iran and thus open yet another front in the perpetual war against Muslim countries. This was something that was hoped for by the neoconservatives, the liberal war hawks, Israel and its US lobby, and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that thrive on instability and chaos.

But amazingly we seem to have retreated from that precipice. It seems highly unlikely that the drive to attack Syria can be resurrected and the possibility of an attack on Iran seems even more remote. What is more, there seems to be an active effort to create a rapprochement between the US and Iran, something that is long overdue.

The new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani even had an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday appealing for engagement and dialogue rather than saber-rattling and unilateral uses of brute force. In it, he said:

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. More than a decade and two wars after 9/11, al-Qaeda and other militant extremists continue to wreak havoc. Syria, a jewel of civilization, has become the scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks, which we strongly condemn. In Iraq, 10 years after the American-led invasion, dozens still lose their lives to violence every day. Afghanistan endures similar, endemic bloodshed.

The unilateral approach, which glorifies brute force and breeds violence, is clearly incapable of solving issues we all face, such as terrorism and extremism. I say all because nobody is immune to extremist-fueled violence, even though it might rage thousands of miles away. Americans woke up to this reality 12 years ago.

My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

In an interview with NBC News, Rouhani denied that Iran has any ambitions to manufacture nuclear weapons and revealed that he and Obama had exchanged letters in which the tone was “positive and constructive” and gave Obama some cover from those who have accused him of looking weak for not attacking Syria.

Asked whether he thought Obama looked weak when he backed off the air-strike threat, Rouhani replied, “We consider war a weakness. Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”

There seems to be a good chance that president Obama and Rouhani may even meet next week on the sidelines during the UN General Assembly. The leaders of the two countries have not met since the US embassy takeover in 1979. The French president will also meet with Rouhani.

These are all positive developments that I hope will not be derailed by those who seek war between the two countries.

Comments

  1. says

    This country (USA) is a huge, huge, bully. I will leave this country someday for one far better (Scandinavian countries or Denmark or Holland, etc) for multiple serious reasons, but I could have plenty of justification to keep looking to leave this country just on the principle it’s a huge authoritarian bully police state, alone, and that I want nothing to do with this country any longer.

  2. colnago80 says

    In an interview with NBC News, Rouhani denied that Iran has any ambitions to manufacture nuclear weapons and revealed that he and Obama had exchanged letters in which the tone was “positive and constructive” and gave Obama some cover from those who have accused him of looking weak for not attacking Syria.

    This is totally meaningless. Rouhani doesn’t call the shots, the ayatollah Khamenei does. If the ayatollah would agree to open all, and I repeat all, of Iran’s nuclear facilities to international inspection, this would have some meaning. Otherwise, nuts to him.

  3. sumdum says

    My country, Holland, is very much a lap dog of the USA, we always do whatever they want and join them in whatever they do. As far as I’m concerned you’re still welcome ofcourse, but you might want to take that in consideration too.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Quoting a previous commenter: Rouhani doesn’t call the shots, the ayatollah Khamenei does.

    Which is what we were trying to tell the righwingnuts when Ahmadinejad was saying all kinds of crazy stuff.

    -

    And Khameini hasn’t been sounding all that positive about getting nukes either.

    Ah. That’s probably why the rightwingnuts weren’t listening to us.

  5. colnago80 says

    Yeah, and Frankenberger promised not to annex the rest of Czechoslovakia at the Munich Conference in 1938. How did that work out?

  6. sailor1031 says

    We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them

    Sorry! neocons don’t do complexity. Nothing complex about bombing the crap of somebody who can’t hit you back.

    But yeah; I’m all for demanding that weapons inspectors be allowed unfettered access to wherever in Iran they want to inspect – right after they get done inspecting Israel’s nuclear weapon stockpiles and facilities.

  7. colnago80 says

    And here we have again the usual crap comparing Israel’s nuclear weapon stockpile with Iran’s putative nuclear weapons stockpile. The Government of Israel has not threatened to remove Iran from the face of the earth. The Government or Iran, in the person of the Ayatollah Khamenei, on the other hand, has threatened to remove Israel from the face of the earth. But of course, sailor1031 is all in favor of that.

  8. says

    Um, Holland does basic stuff like fund medically necessary surgeries for transgender people and not attempt to coerce them into pretending to be entire identities they’re not from birth. I am transgender, autistic, disabled, PoC, lower class. I come from a background of obscene amounts of trauma, so Holland is like paradise to me; the society is far more tolerant, far less crime, far more educated, far less judgemental, if atheist effectively, no one cares, etc.

  9. Nick Gotts says

    The genocidal scumbag colnago80 comes out with his usual parade of lies. The Iranian leadership, throughout the term of the Islamic Republic, has consistently said it will not develop nuclear weapons (just as they have said they would not use chemical weapons, and did not do so even when Iraq, backed by the west, invaded Iran and used chemical weapons in doing so), and the IAEA, and American and Israeli intelligence, all agree they have no evidence that it intends to do so. Whatever the limitations on its openness about its nuclear facilities, it is far more open than Israel. None of the Iranian leadership has ever threatened to remove Israel from the face of the earth – some have expressed the hope that it would disappear, which is not the same thing. Israeli politicians and their supporters, on the other hand, openly and routinely discuss attacking Iran – and the worst of them openly advocate genocide against the Iranian people using “six 15-megaton hydrogen bombs”.

  10. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    It was little more than a week ago that the US seemed on the verge of bombing Syria, an action that threatened to spread to Iran and thus open yet another front in the perpetual war against Muslim countries. This was something that was hoped for by the neoconservatives, the liberal war hawks, Israel and its US lobby, and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that thrive on instability and chaos.

    Really? That really so? Ya think? Citations needed methinks.

    But amazingly we seem to have retreated from that precipice. It seems highly unlikely that the drive to attack Syria can be resurrected and the possibility of an attack on Iran seems even more remote. What is more, there seems to be an active effort to create a rapprochement between the US and Iran, something that is long overdue.

    Agreed.

    Of course, the blame for the delay here does not lie solely with the US of A. Good news all the same and hope it makes our planet a safer and happier place.

    (NB. Israel always has the right to defend itself against those who wish to exterminate her. Does anyone seriously disagree with that and think another six million Jewish human individuals should be murdered and, if so, why?

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    BTW. Not so much Muslim countries as one using chemical WMDs against their own people.

    Its not the Muslim thing with Syria as much as the murderous dictatorship one, y’know.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    .. And I dunno. Both sides here are extremely nasty pasties. I don’t think anyone can really win. Let alone Westerners or the poor bastards condemned to living there. (Or fleeing from there.)

    Providing humanitarian aid to those fleeing the conflict and punishing the worst war criminals based on the clearest evidence we can gather *that* I support. Much beyond that, well, I just don’t know. Both sides are extremely horrible people and rule by either has dreadful consequeneces for those subjected to it or so it seems.

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @4.1 colnago80 :

    .. And here we have again the usual crap comparing Israel’s nuclear weapon stockpile with Iran’s putative nuclear weapons stockpile. The Government of Israel has not threatened to remove Iran from the face of the earth. The Government or Iran, in the person of the Ayatollah Khamenei, on the other hand, has threatened to remove Israel from the face of the earth.

    Exactly. Quoted for truth.

    Israel’s weapons are used as a deterrent of last resort.

    Iran’s nukes would almost certainly be used as first resort of aggressive annihilation.

    *That* people is the fliippin’ difference so many seem unable to grasp. Beats me why.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ 4,2 Nick Gotts :

    .. The Iranian leadership, throughout the term of the Islamic Republic, has consistently said ..

    So, just for the record, you actually, seriously believe what the Iranians say? Despite their long record of lying and despite the clear denialist rubbish spewed by their insanity of their theocratic dictatorship?

    You actually trust Iran.

    Dude, just how flippin’ dumb are you!?!

    (Note Iran – not trustworthy any further away than it can be garroted and untrustworthy even then.)

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    .. and the worst of them openly advocate genocide against the Iranian people using “six 15-megaton hydrogen bombs”.

    Citations needed.

    No sign of that on this thread, dude, and certainly not something that I’m personally advocating or would support at all.

    I just want Iran to accept Israel exists and is here to stay and then treat it like every other nation. That’s all. Jeez is that so flippin’ hard to comprehend or do dude?

  16. colnago80 says

    I’m sure that Gotts, from perfidious Albion, would have taken Frankenberger’s promise that he wouldn’t annex the rest of Czechoslovakia at face value, had he been around in 1938. It would seem that the limeys never learn from Chamberlain’s disgrace.

    By the way, my position on Rouhani is similar to a former president’s position on the leadership of the former Soviet Union, trust but verify.

    It should also be pointed out that the Government of Israel agreed during the Kennedy Administration, when Israel’s nuclear program got underway, that, in return for the US looking the other way relative to Israel’s nuclear capability, Israel would agree not to use any nuclear weapons they might develop without the permission of the POTUS. AFAIK, that secret agreement is still in effect. By the way, the Israeli Government official who made the agreement is still alive and is currently President of Israel.

  17. colnago80 says

    Agreed. The reason why the Obama Administration has been reluctant to provide arms to rebel forces is that we can’t distinguish the good guys (i.e. the Free Syrian Army) from the bad guys (i.e. Al Qaeda). Currently, there are an estimated 2 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and another 4 million displaced within Syria. See attached link.

    http://goo.gl/VRjlEp

  18. schmeer says

    So sorry that your war isn’t apparently going to break out StevoR and colnago80 (slc ?). Better luck next time blowing up people who live on the wrong side of a line in the sand.

  19. msm16 says

    I just want to set right some of this chamberlian bashing. The liberal government under chamberlain was following a rational policy prior to world war 2. Whoile many people dismiss them as appeasers and weaklings they were actually desperately trying to buy time for a war they felt was inevitable. You have to place yourself in their position, the united kingdom was in no way ready for war with germany at the time and they had no major continantal ally who could counter germany. France was in a state of political division and apathy, russia was a wild card that in no way could be relied upon and poland and italy were far to weak to counter germany in any meaningful way. Therefore it made sense for britiant to abandon the continantal policy it had been following and return to a palmesonian method of appeasement. Britian needed time and that was Chamberlains goal unfortunately germany moved too fast, the ease with wich germany defeated both france and britian(on the continent) shows the truth of this. It especially makes me mad to hear americans bashing britian with regards to containing germany because we basically abdicated our responsibilityfor global stability and the poopooed everyone else for failing when the US was the most powerful third party at the time.

  20. colnago80 says

    This is the same old excuse that the defenders of Chamberlain give which overlooks the fact that, in early 1938, Germany was unready for war also. In fact, so terrified was the German General Staff about going to war at that time that they were planning a coup against Frankenberger who they considered a dangerous opportunist. Of course, their coup died aborning when Chamberlain gave in to Frankenberger at Munich and returned declaring peace in our time. At that time, Czechoslovakia had the most modern armament industry in Europe at the Skoda Works, which Chamberlain handed over to Frankenberger on a silver platter. A large percentage of the tanks employed by the Wehrmacht in 1940 were manufactured at the Skoda works or in Germany using Czech designs.

    Now in fairness, it’s Monday morning quarterbacking to speculate on what would have happened if Chamberlain had told Frankenberger that any attempt to invade and annex the Sudetenland would be considered an act of war against Britain and France. IMHO, Frankenberger would have backed down or if he didn’t, the planned coup would have been carried forward. In any case, IMHO, Britain and France would have been better off having the modern fully mechanized Czech army on their side then the obsolete horsed cavalry dependent Polish army a year later. This in addition to the fact that the mountainous Czech terrain was considerably more defensible then the plains of Poland, which were ideal for the German Blitzkrieg.

    In addition, as msm16 admits, Germany made much better use of the time to develop the Panzer divisions and the Luftwaffe between Munich in 1938 and the invasion of Poland in 1939 then did Britain and France.

  21. Mano Singham says

    Here is the citation you requested. (Note that ‘colnago80′ used to post comments as ‘slc1′.)

    I am in favor of stopping Iran’s inexorable march towards nuclear weapons by any means necessary. The best and cheapest way to accomplish that in a manner that will last a couple of decades or more is to target their nuclear sites with 15 megaton bombs. A half dozen should do the trick.

    slc1 also says that his loyalty is “of course” to “Israel over all”, even the US, though I believe he is an American.

  22. colnago80 says

    slc1 also says that his loyalty is “of course” to “Israel over all”, even the US, though I believe he is an American.

    100% American, born here, as were my parents. And just to set the record straight, if Iran opens their nuclear facilities to international inspection and ships their 20% purified Uranium out of the country, I would forgo the attack with 15 megaton bombs, and even be willing to restore relations with Iran.

  23. Mano Singham says

    That is highly magnanimous of you. I assume you would be equally appreciative if Iran said that they would forego developing six 15-megaton bombs and bombing Israel with them if only Israel would also open all their facilities to international inspection and ship their purified uranium out of the country too.

  24. colnago80 says

    Re Mano Singham

    Hey, I’m a magnanimous guy. By the way, developing a bomb that size would make little sense for either Israel or Iran as neither would have the capability of delivering it. Unless the US sold Israel some B52s, which is about as likely as my winning the Tour de France next year.

  25. steffp says

    Frankenberger? Oh, my god, Godwin’s law!
    Is this all you can say about the complex miasma that is the innards of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
    Must be really a disappointment for you that loud-mouthed Ahmadinejad is no longer with us…

  26. steffp says

    Now in fairness, it’s Monday morning quarterbacking to speculate on what would have happened…

    Indeed. Especially as Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia – like Germany – were all less fit for war than in September 1939. And Gen. Beck, Oberstleutnant Oster and Admiral Canaris who indeed planned a coup were not supported by any other generals, even before the Munich dictate.. Beck, by the way, was very fond of the annexation of Czechoslovakia, he only wanted it postponed. So, your speculations are indeed futile.

    The Skoda works at Plzeň did not come under German command until Germany occupied the rest of the country in March 1939 – six months before the invasion of Poland. Not much time, especially as the Nazis planned to dismantle Skoda and locate new works in Austria, which led to some delay.
    But indeed the Czechoslovakian army surrendered 469 tanks, more than 2,000 artillery pieces, and 1,500 airplanes – not due to Munich, but after the German invasion in March 1939.

    Interesting enough, you don’t mention that Czechoslovakia had no say in the whole process, which is the real shame, not Chamberlain’s miscalculations or interpretations of US President Wilson’s principles.

  27. steffp says

    As far as I can see, even the US don’t have “six 15 Megaton bombs” ready. Of the only model with such power,the Mk 24, 105 were produced between July 1954 and November 1955, but all were retired in 1956, cannibalized for smaller bombs.
    The next big bomb in SAC’s arsenal would be the Mk 53, 9 MT, of which there are 50 still on stock, but not in service.
    It may have escaped your attention, but airbound strategies these days rely on smart bombs, not massive H-bomb carpets. The typical SAC bomb today is the 340 KT Mk 61, and the 1.2 KT Mk 83. Of course, that’s not the bang you were imagining, but so are the facts.

    No Muslim country, and especially not theocratic Iran, could afford to drop a nuclear bomb on the second most holy place of Islam, Jerusalem. Sorry. Can’t even be contemplated. Would be like nuking Mecca. Suicide.
    Can please someone communicate that to the likud fraction?

  28. colnago80 says

    Re steffp

    That’s quite true and further, there are no longer any B52s outfitted to deliver such bombs as they have all been retrofitted for carpet bombing with conventional dumb bombs. However, the large 15 megaton bombs could be easily reassembled and a couple of B52s returned to their pristine condition to deliver them. This would not take very long.

    It is quite true that it is unlikely that Iran would attack Jerusalem with a nuclear weapon. They would go after Tel Aviv and cause mass casualties even with a 10Kt Hiroshima type bomb, probably much smaller then some of Israel’s nuclear weapons. You are also assuming that the mullahs are entirely rational. Many of them believe that that starting a nuclear war would bring on the 12th Imam, much as some of their born again Christian counterparts believe that a nuclear war would be the biblical prophetized Battle of Armageddon after which Yeshua of Nazareth would return.

    I would also note that if an Iranian missile targeting Tel Aviv was intercepted and shot down by Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system, radioactivity might end up falling on Amman, which would be in the ballistic path, not that the Ayatollahs would give a shit.

    Oh, and by the way, Jerusalem is the third most holy city in Islam, not the second. Mecca and Medina are numbers 1 and 2.

  29. colnago80 says

    And Gen. Beck, Oberstleutnant Oster and Admiral Canaris who indeed planned a coup were not supported by any other generals, even before the Munich dictate.

    It’s bee several years since I read Walter Goerlitz’s book on the German General Staff but I seem to recall that there were a number of other high ranking officers who were on the fence as it were. IMHO, had Chamberlain held his ground at Munich, many, if not most of these officers would have jumped off the fence to join the plotters, much as many high ranking officers were on the fence in 1944 (e.g. Gudarian).

    It is quite true that none of the three powers were prepared for all out war. The question is, would Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia been stronger relative to Germany in 1938 then Britain, France, and Poland were a year+ later? I think that the answer is yes, even assuming that the planned coup failed.

    Interesting enough, you don’t mention that Czechoslovakia had no say in the whole process, which is the real shame, not Chamberlain’s miscalculations

    I would certainly agree that Chamberlain throwing Czechoslovakia to the wolves speaks poorly of him. In fact, he shot himself in the foot by doing so as Czechoslovakia was in a much better position to resist an attack by Germany in 1938 then Poland was in 1939, given its armed forces were fully modern as compared with Poland’s antiquated military and the much better defensive ground in Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain greatly underestimated Czechoslovakia’s military capability and greatly overestimated Poland’s.

  30. steffp says

    Jerusalem is the 3rd most holy city in Islam, not the second. Mecca and Medina are numbers 1 and 2.

    That may be true for the majority fraction of Sunni Muslims, but not for the Iranian Shia Muslims we were talking about. To them, Jerusalem is #2. Sufis, another fraction, have holy places all over Asia and Africa. Oh, all those pesky details…

    You are also assuming that the mullahs are entirely rational.

    No, I wasn’t. First of all, I don’t know what you mean with “the mullahs”- apparently you are not familiar with the various Shia theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements, namely twelver, Zaidi and Ismaili, with many subgroups to the former in Iran. They can not be reduced to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “sweet scent of servitude” sect. That may be politically unwanted, but it’s like reducing Christianity to Pastor Phelps.
    Secondly, no one is “entirely rational”. Not you, not I. The Iranian theocrats, over the years, have survived against fierce opposition both internal and global. So they can’t be as stupid as you like to paint them. And, unlike Al Qaida, they try to run a country, babies, education, that kind of thing…

    They would go after Tel Aviv and cause mass casualties even with a 10Kt Hiroshima type bomb,

    You are aware that about 200,000 Muslim Palestinians live in the Metropolitan Tel Aviv area? That’s a lot of human shield, isn’t it?

  31. steffp says

    Again: Beck, Oster and Canaris
    There were contacts to Generals v. Witzleben and Halder, both national-conservatives who today are claimed as heroes who resisted the nazification of the Wehrmacht. Halder, after Beck’s demise, got his post, but stayed technically critical, which led to his demise in September 1942. V. Witzleben was demissioned at the same time. Both were connected to the v. Stauffenberg group assassination attempt in 1944. Gen v.Witzleben was hanged, Halder survived.
    All in all I think it can be said that the chances for a military coup in 1938, at a point where H.’s popularity was still high, were a lot worse than 1944, when the war was already lost. And, as we all know, it did not work out even then. It was not the fact that H. survived – it was the under-estimation of the power of the political and societal Nazi-organizations. Purely military thinking always tends to underestimate those factors.

    As for the real results of Munich, Czechoslovakia lost its elaborate border fortifications, which were mostly in parts where the German minority in Czechoslovakia lived – a complex situation, regarding the freshly established right of “Self-determination of peoples”. A fact that must indeed been known to Chamberlain, but as it looks he had already written the whole country off. Especially as his allies Poland (Oct 1938) and Hungary (Nov. 1938) took their share of Czechoslovakian territory as well.
    Strange how a hegemonial empire, even when retracting its claws from a small country, still influences its fate.
    There are guys who claim that it was part of an Anglo/French controversy, as the Czech industry (like Skoda) was predominantly French-owned (Schneider-Creuzot), and systematically undercutting British defense industry’s prices. The alliance between France and England has never been free of such irritations.
    It’s things like that that make it so difficult for the guys in the “alternative history” racket.

    As for the overestimation of Poland’s military capabilities, that was another typical militarist error: To the traditional (fortification-style) strategists, the fast progression of motorized troupes was unthinkable. They thought the Polish planes would make another Flanders. It was a lack of adaption to the new kind of mobile warfare…

  32. steffp says

    Plus, of course, that inconvenient side effects of radiation and radioactive fallout…
    It’s inconceivable that god-botherers would use such a thing close to their (even third) holy place. That may be irrational, but it’s not the kind of childish “I don’t mind” that you insinuate. It has a certain logic to it.
    You can compare it to the likud tenant that Israel is a Jewish state regardless if there is an ethnic Jewish majority. Irrational but reliable.

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