Monday, July 6, 2009

Miliband Calls Detentions 'Unacceptable and Unjustified': Protests Will Not End in Iran, Says Mousavi; White House Caves on Israel Green Light!

The British government is speaking firmly against the actions of the Tehran regime. From the BBC, "Iran Frees Eighth Embassy Worker." Neoconservative Foreign Secretary David Miliband warns, "There is no place for this sort of intimidation or harassment":

Also, from May this year, "David Miliband 'Queries' Barack Obama's Iran Policy."

Plus, this just in from the Washington Post, "Mousavi: Iran Protests 'Will Not End'":

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, appearing in public for the first time in nearly three weeks, vowed Monday that protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "will not end" and predicted that the new government would face problems in the future because it lacks legitimacy.

And here's this from Laura Rosen at The Cable, "No Change in Iran Policy, White House Insists":

As White House and Office of the Vice President aides formed a united front against widespread media speculation about a change in policy signaled by Vice President Joseph Biden's statement on a Sunday news show that Israel is a "sovereign nation" that could "determine for itself" how to deal with threats from Iran, analysts said that Israel may be wary of any such green light in any case.

In e-mails and phone calls today, administration officials insisted that Biden's comments were neither a signal of any change in policy, nor any sort of freelancing. Asked if Biden's remarks might have been part of an intentional messaging campaign to step up pressure on Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program, officials gave an emphatic "no." But for all that, the remarks were widely seen both in Washington and abroad as a message intended less for Jerusalem than for Tehran.

Israel's "biggest nightmare" is that one day the U.S. government "‘would call it and say 'OK guys, take care of it,'" said Tel Aviv University Iran expert David Menashri in a call Monday arranged by the Israeli Policy Forum, a U.S. nonprofit organization that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right to give Obama until the end of the year to see if engagement with Iran was succeeding before taking matters into his own hands, Biden said, "Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else." Repeated follow-up questions from Stephanopoulos elicited similar responses.

Some in the [Israeli] media are portraying [Biden's comments] as a 180-degree switch and as an indication that the administration is beginning to realize that 'engagement' may not work," said former Israeli Consul General to the United Nations Alon Pinkas. "That it is absolutely NOT a change, and if anything, it should be interpreted as a bad sign rather than a positive encouragement."

Biden's message "is the absolute worst-case scenario from Israel's policy-planning perspective," Pinkas elaborated. "'We will not prevent' means the U.S. will neither support nor encourage [Israeli attacks on Iran] or in other words, 'Do what you think is appropriate, but bear the consequences.'"

Although Israeli officials have expressed unending skepticism about the Obama administration's intentions to try to engage with Iran, and are often seen as chafing against Washington, Israel has conducted an intensive campaign over the past several years to make Iran's nuclear program an international rather than just an Israeli problem.
The reason, explains Georgetown University's Daniel Byman, is that Israel doesn't want to take on Iran by itself. "Militarily, this is a difficult operation," Byman said Monday, noting that Iran's nuclear program is widely dispersed, compared with Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, which Israel struck in 1981. "This is much farther geographically, and that means planes can't loiter as long. They would [presumably] be flying over air space [in Iraq] controlled by the United States. You have to put together a strike package that's much more difficult. It also requires superb intelligence that may be lacking."

"There was no intention to change the position, and nothing the vice president said in any way indicates a change in U.S. position," said a White House official of Biden's remarks Sunday. "What he said and what [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael] Mullen said taken together reflect our position: Israel is a sovereign nation, Israel is an ally and Israel has a right to defend itself and other countries cannot dictate how it defends itself. That being said, it would not be helpful if Israel were to act against Iran." Any interpretation that Biden's remarks signaled a change in U.S. policy is "spin," he added.

Biden did, however, strike a different tone when answering a similar question back on April 7. Asked if he were concerned that Netanyahu might strike Iranian nuclear facilities, Biden
told CNN: "I don't believe Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that. I think he would be ill advised to do that."

How to account for the seeming discrepancy? "Any tonal difference is not intentional at all," the White House official said.

Did Biden coordinate with the White House to pressure Iran to respond to the still-outstanding offer of talks with Washington? Again, the answer from the White House was no.

Washington foreign-policy hands, however, were skeptical that the message was not quite deliberate ...

More at the link.

Also, Christopher Hitchens, "Did the Toppling of Saddam Hussein Lead to Recent Events in Iran?" (via Memeorandum).

See my earlier report, "Update Iran: Executions Accelerate as General Srike Looms; Protesters Plead to West, Washington Sends Conflicting Signals!"


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Douglas: David Miliband a "neoconservative" Foreign Secretary? If you'll pass me the smelling salts, I'll try to bring Paul Wolfowitz around...

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

PRH said...

I'm guessing and hoping that Israel takes down Iran before they have time to think...and Obama and his sheep can cry wolf, while knowing Israel did what we should have done 30 years ago.

Barack Obama=Jimmy Carter

Dave said...

PRH, I agree. The Israelis are obviously not going to get any assistance whatsoever from the U.S., whether they do it now, or six months hence.

Better to do it while the Iranian government is in disarray.

Who knows? It might just be the spark that touches off the revolution that topples the mad mullahs for good.

Or, it could turn WW IV into a far hotter conflict than it is already.


Anonymous said...

When is Israel going to be held accountable for their Nukes?

Why does Israel always get a free pass?

Why are they never held accountable?

Why is Israel they only country that's allowed to Nationalist and Racist?