Monday, March 05, 2007

# Posted 10:13 AM by Patrick Porter  

OBAMA ON IRAN: At this early stage in the Presidential race, I'd say my favourite candidates from either party are Rudi Giuliani and Barack Obama, as so far they both seem to be mostly moderate and sound.

Obama's position on Iran is clear-sighted. He sees the dangers of allowing a regime that denies the Holocaust, while calling for a second Holocaust, to arm itself with nuclear weapons. At the same time, he calls for a graduated response:

In the 21st century, it is unacceptable that a member state of the United Nations would openly call for the elimination of another member state. But that is exactly what he has done. Neither Israel nor the United States has the luxury of dismissing these outrages as mere rhetoric.

The world must work to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.

Amen to that. In particular, he indicates the irresponsibility of waving aside the Iranian President's statements as 'mere rhetoric', a risk we cannot take.

But we also have to be clear that if we ultimately must take military action, there will be grave political and strategic costs.

The liberal, reformist and democratic movement(s) within the Iranian population will probably be set back and weakened, anger and fear of the external agressor might drown out opposition to religious fundamentalism as the basis for government, and polarisation in the region will damage any remote possibility of progress towards a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

None of this is to rule out the legitimacy of any form of military action, even though opinion is divided on how effective air-strikes might be. Rather it is to say that if we must ultimately resort to bombing, we should know exactly what it will cost us.

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(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

"if we must ultimately resort to bombing, we should know exactly what it will cost us."

Sharp advice, Nostradamus. Would you please advise your readership of stocks that will return 20% in '08? And please cite *exact* gains. Thanks.
Is anybody on this site concerned that Ahmaninejad never in fact said he wanted to 'wipe Israel off the map?' That it was in fact a mis-translation exclusive to the New York Times? That the BBC, CNN and several pro-Israel news outlets have said that he actually said 'the Zionist regime in Jerusalem should disappear from the face of time?' That he was in fact quoting the Ayatollah Khomenei, not setting out a new policy stall? That his call seems to have been for regime change, not genocide? Honestly,its this kind of willful ignorance of the Middle East that started this whole Iraq debacle in the first place.

as I understand it, official Iranian translations of his speech refer to 'wiping Israel away.' So it wasn't exclusive to the New York Times.

I don't draw any comfort from the fact that this is a repetition of the Ayatollah Khomenei's comments.

Its probably also worth noting that Iran sponsors Hezbollah, which is explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel.

And that the Iranian President has sponsored a holocaust-denial conference, not an activity normally in line with recognising Israel's right to exist.

If, as you say, we are wrong and there is some ambiguity about the precise meaning of his words, the cumulative evidence of his rhetoric and actions indicates an alarming level of hostility, so that Israel is entitled to regard his possession of a nuclear weapon is a non-trivial danger.

Just because Saddam Hussein turned out not to have a WMD arsenal, doesn't mean that you can dismiss this problem.
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