Obama reining in anti-Iran militarists?

David Ignatius had an extremely important piece in today’s WaPo, in which he reported on a small-group interview in which Pres. Obama spoke about Iran in a way that seemed calculated to rein in the numerous militarists who still populate some of the upper reaches of his administration (though notably not the Department of Defense.)
David’s money quote from Obama:

    “It is very important to put before the Iranians a clear set of steps that we would consider sufficient to show that they are not pursuing nuclear weapons,” Obama said, adding: “They should know what they can say ‘yes’ to.” As in the past, he left open the possibility that the United States would accept a deal that allows Iran to maintain its civilian nuclear program, so long as Iran provides “confidence-building measures” to verify that it is not building a bomb.

It is certainly significant that the President himself met with these journalists– the other participants have not yet been named– to send this message, rather than leaving the task to someone else in his administration who might then become the subject of smear and whispering campaigns from the dedicated coterie of Likud supporters that’s so powerful in Washington DC and the U.S. mainstream media. (Such as happened, for example, to his national security adviser, Gen. Jim Jones, around a year ago. And before that, of course– and to even more deadly effect– to Chas Freeman.)
Obama also gave Ignatius and his colleagues the message that the administration is eager to talk to Tehran about Afghanistan– though David gave no record that he said anything similar about coordination over Iraq. That, even though the politics/diplomacy of the the U.S. military effecting its now firmly promised cessation of combat operations in Iraq remain extremely unclear, complex, and potentially hazardous.
Ignatius wrote that after Obama left the room two un-named “senior officials” (one of whom was almost certainly Jones– the other, who knows? Dennis Ross???) in effect spun, or perhaps more politely “contextualized”, what the journos had just heard from the commander-in-chief by saying that the timing is now good to “test” Tehran through a diplomatic overture because Tehran has now started hurting from the new sanctions imposed by the U.N. in May/June.
Right now, the President needs all the support he can get for a policy of real and sincere diplomatic engagement with Iran. (As opposed to the kind of faux ‘engagement’ that is designed to fail, and whose sole intention is to prepare the way for a new war.)
Over at Time mag, Joe Klein has a thoughtful essay summing up the woeful series of developments that was set in train the last time pro-Likud extremists managed to jerk our nation into a quite unnecessary and unjustified war of aggression in the Middle East. (Iraq, 2003.)
It must not happen again.

9 thoughts on “Obama reining in anti-Iran militarists?”

  1. It’s been amazing, ever since Obama spat in the face of peace in May, when Turkey, Brazil and Iran made their amazing breakthrough – amazing because Turkey and Brazil did an amazing thing; they actually tried REAL negotiation!!!, ever since Obama spat in the face of peace, Alternapundits have been working overtime to prop up the crumbling Myth of Obama the Secret Peacemaker. Obviously Obama appreciates the work you alternapundits do, because here he threw you a bone, and of course you are all over it.
    If you alternapundits didn’t work so hard on the Myth of Obama the Secret Peacemaker, there would have been some possibility of an actual peace movement in this country standing up against the Iran war. But because everytime Obama says “engagement”, you flog that for months as evidence that he is on the side of peace, he has been allowed to escalate to the point of crushing economic war, and yes, economic war IS WAR, with no unpleasant and disturbing opposition from any war movement.
    And this time, he even gave some of you alternapundits a private session. Why, he practically gave you a lap dance! ‘Peace’ he said, in a deep, warm voice. ‘Engagement’ he said, very sincerely. “we may even allow them some nuclear energy’, he said kindly.
    But, of course, as you know, Obama has been working overtime to get the new NIE to ‘fix the facts around the policy’, and has replaced Blair with Crapper towards that end. And, as you know, there has been no real engagement from Obama, and the ‘path’ he has offered has been the same ultimatum that Iran got from Bush – abandonment of uranium enrichment (presumably coupled with inspections so intrusive that they would wreck whatever sovereignty the abandonment of the RIGHT to enrich uranium would have left to Iran). And, as you know, Iran has been willing to negotiate all along and the sanctions have nothing to do with it, AND EVEN IF THEY DID, the sanctions are a crime against the people of Iran, as well as a wholly and totally unjustified attack on Iran’s sovereignty.
    Yes, you do good work. If it weren’t for you alternapundits, a peacemovement in America might have taken root when Obama was elected. Instead, everyone agrees that Obama is doing the best he can and we can just rely on Mr. Bogus Nobel Peace Prize and forget our own duty and authority as citizens to demand that our government do the right thing for once, and that would be to abandon threats, abandon economic war, and negotiate in good faith, for once.

  2. It could be a good sign, or a *very* bad one…
    In favor of the former: fingers-crossed, wishing upon a star…
    In favor of the latter: Why would any real outreach to Iran consist of a “background session” with U.S. journalists, as opposed to – say – actually talking to the Iranians? One possible answer: This could be the set up of a pro forma, pseudo “we tried to be reasonable and talk to the Iranians… but they did not reciprocate” ‘defense’ that can/will be trotted out once military action is taken…
    Let’s hope it is the former, but assuming it is a good sign only makes you an optimist… Time will tell.

  3. You are assuming that Obama ia actually in charge, that he really wants to push for peace, and that he has some backbone; all of which is wrong from all appearances. The military-industrial complex, now bloated beyond all recognition, is really running the show. Once they got past the peace scare after the wall fell, they have been riding higher than ever. I don’t know what it will take to stop the insane drumbeat to war, but this certainly isn’t it. Even if he were well intentioned, Obama simply can’t stand up to anyone.

  4. Frankly, I see few hope in what Obama said. What is of paramount importance is the context in which it was said : just a few weeks ago, Obama refused the deal mediated by Brasil and Turkey and increased the sanctions on Iran. So to my ears this sounds much more like a prelude to the announcement of new conditions the Iranians should meet in order to proove that they are only pursuing civilians nuclear power. The problem is the same as with Iraq WMDs before the invasion : how do you proove that you don’t have something you don’t have ? especially when the other side pretends that you are a patented liar hiding your malfeasant goals ? The administration of the proof should go the other way around : The US should proove that the Iranians are effectively pursuing military nuclear power.

  5. With every passing day the Iran situation in relation to the Obama administration feels and smells more and more like the Iraq situation during the Bush administration.

  6. Russia Today TV news program gave intriguing news last Thursday, that some CIA people said that Israel will launch an attack during this month (August) and that the US will not oppose it – I listened to BBC and CNN but they did not report anything about it. Did anyone else picked this up?

  7. anonym,
    Ray McGovern has been arguing that Israel must attack by August because after that date Iraq will assume control of its airspace. If Israeli planes try to fly through Iraqi Airspace, Iraq can request that U.S. planes intercept them.

  8. smells more and more like the Iraq situation during the Bush administration.
    Iraq case different here. Iraq was not allowed to export his oil only UN allowed Iraq to export 1.0 Billion dollar of oil 2/3 of that amount UN paid to Kuwaitis and other who made claimed about loses accursed to them because of war 1991.
    Iran still free to export as much as she could of her oil also there are no checks on the ships of importing goods like Iraq which turned that many import goods was taken off on claims of dual use of goods.

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