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A Sane View of The Diplomacy vs. War Options with Iran: Watch Trita Parsi on Last Night’s Daily Show

March 10, 2012 Comments off

Perhaps, one of the wisest, most common sense observations that I have heard to date regarding the current situation with Iran can be heard in the following clip from the extended interview of my good friend, Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), last night on Jon Stewart’s show. Here is the quote:

You don’t get democracy to be born out of a war, I think that we should have learned that by now…and where there is a war, it enables governments to further do away with civil liberties of their populations…The pro-democracy movement [in Iran] is yelling and screaming “Don’t go to war”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the media is picking that up.

Here is Part 2 of the interview (which the quote comes from)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Trita Parsi Extended Interview – Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:410247
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

In Part 1 of the interview, which was the actual footage shown on air, Trita presents some insightful counter-arguments to the current push for military action against Iran.  Trita’s new book, The Single Roll of the Dice, documents the history of U.S. diplomacy with Iran from 2003 to present and how internal domestic interests and unlucky timing prevented any progress. 

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Trita Parsi Extended Interview – Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:410246
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

One Important Piece of Action You Can Take If You Believe In Putting The Brakes On The War Train To Iran

March 3, 2012 Comments off

This weekend, beginning Sunday, we are about to witness one of the most dramatic shows of Jewish political force in the history of the United States.  This is not some anti-Zionist rhetoric – it is simply a fact.  AIPAC is going to have over 10,000 people in the DC Convention Center (myself included) at its Policy Conference [for live ‘fair and balanced’ tweets, check www.twitter/beyondzs] – and will have 30-50% of those attending going to lobby on Capitol Hill.  Normally, I might say mazel tov – tanks G-t so many care about Israel.  But right now, AIPAC is stridently promoting political moves here in the US to lay the groundwork for Israel (alone, or with US overt assistance) to take military action against Iran very shortly.  I believe that they do this with good intention, but with flawed reasoning and almost negligent disregard for the outcomes.  How can they do this without facing strong, forceful pushback?

  • War is easy and its drums are seductive. 
  • F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty and doubt) cry out to the most base human emotions.
  • The politics of our time rewards simplicity and machismo.

So, what is to be done?  Here’s the sales pitch:

J Street is having its own Conference three weeks later – from March 24 – March 27.  J Street’s position is nuanced and urges caution.  Here is an excerpt:

“…Finally, like many American and Israeli security experts such as former Mossad chiefs Meir Dagan and Ephraim Halevy, we believe that a military strike against Iran would be ill-advised. While unlikely to permanently disable Iran’s nuclear program, a military strike would have dire consequences and runs the risk of igniting a broader regional war. A preemptive attack could also strengthen the current regime in Iran and provide an excuse for it to redouble its nuclear efforts. We therefore oppose legislation authorizing, encouraging, or in other ways laying the groundwork for the use of military force against Iran.”

Further details can be found here: http://jstreet.org/policy/issues/iran/.

If you agree with this postion, you can take concrete action by attending the J Street Conference.  Every single person who attends sends a critical counter message to Members of Congress and the President. By doing so, you will be standing up for intelligent debate here at home, for allowing the current round of sanctions time to work, and arguing for a new diplomatic “surge”.

Trust me, Congressmen and women can count – and they will.   There will be a simple calculus taking place politically throughout Washington – they will stack up what they see as the constituency pushing for the “military option” versus the constituency that opposes immediate military action in favor of a calmer, more reasoned and examined approach.   Any of you reading this who are part of the latter group – need to be in D.C. at the J Street ConferencePeriod.

I know that it is difficult for people to get away.  I know that it is expensive in terms of both time and money (although there is financial assistance available).  I know that we all have non-stop schedules.  But (and I know that this may sound narcissistic and overly dramatic) I personally feel that we are at a time not unlike Dr. King’s March on Washington, not unlike Breaking Down the Berlin Wall, not unlike Tiananmen Square.  That is, there are specific moments in time that actually do affect the course of history.   Their outcomes revise the course of world history.  They determine the trajectory of the future.

Is it hyperbole to put this moment in that context?  Perhaps. 

But consider the following:

We are talking about the prospect of America entering its Third War in a little over 10 years with potentially massive consequences in terms of death, destruction and economic upheaval for the U.S., Israel, Iran and the rest of the world.  There can be very little doubt that military action against Iran is going to set a new trajectory for the Middle East – and quite possibly the entire world.

So, is that worth taking two-three days of our time?  I do not ask this rhetorically nor do I question anyone’s answer to that question.

All that I am saying is that from my personal perspective, we are at a watershed moment for our country, for Israel, and for the world as a whole.  We have a chance to do something to influence what direction our government takes.  I urge you to join me at the J Street Conference in D.C. March 24-26 and to meet with your Member of Congress face-to-face on Tuesday, March 27.  Tell her/him directly how you feel.

For anyone who reads this who would like more information on the Conference, you can find it here http://conference.jstreet.org/

For anyone who reads this who would like to consider going and might want more specific details – please contact me at beyondzerosum.gmail.com and let’s discuss.

For anyone who reads this and is so convinced that they want to sign up right away, please go here  http://www.wynjade.com/jstreet12/

Follow BeyondZeroSum at www.twitter/beyondzs

 

For a thoughtful alternative approach to dealing with Iran, see Foreign Policy blog post: Using religion to restrain Iran’s nuclear program 

 

Iran: Haven’t We Tried Everything Already?

March 2, 2012 Comments off
 
English: The logo of the Atomic Enery Organiza...

Logo of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (Wikipedia)

One can’t open a newspaper (if anyone still does that anymore) without seeing a lot of F.U.D. about Iran.  What is F.U.D?  Fear, uncertainty and doubt.  “Existential threat”, “zone of immunity”, and “unacceptable” are terms that can be read in almost every article. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in these descriptions. On the other hand, there seems to be only a single prescription at this point in time. That, of course, is John McCain’s old tune: “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran” (Granted the Rx is crafted a bit more elegantly than that).

But are there options?

Haven’t we tried diplomacy and it didn’t work?

You might find an unexpected answer in Trita Parsi’s new book, A Single Roll of the DiceTrita is one of the foremost experts on the relationship between Israel and Iran (his first book, A Treacherous Alliance has been called one of the “few detailed studies examining Israeli and Iranian attitudes and postures towards each other outside the context of U.S.-Iranian relations” by none other than the Rand Corporation in a recent comprehensive white paper:  Israel and Iran – A Dangerous Rivalry)  Trita reviews the month-by-month history of events involving the Iran nuclear program and vigorously argues that for many reasons, including missteps by all parties concerned, diplomacy was constantly being shifted off course.  He especially highlights the little know fact that a diplomatic deal was ACTUALLY MADE in MAY, 2010 with Iran by the Turks and Brazilians – but was essentially rejected because the sanctions’ “train” had already moved out of the station.

Haven’t we tried Sanctions and they haven’t worked?

First, sanctions do appear to be having an effect.  The value of the Iranian currency has dropped almost 50%.  Other economic shifts are being felt.  Second, the latest round of sanctions has only been in place since approximately January 1st – hardly enough time to assess their impact.  Third, even harsher sanctions are scheduled to kick in over the next several months.

There isn’t time in this post to discuss possible consequences of the third option: military action, but suffice it to say that we need to be very upfront and sanguine about potential consequences of either a unilateral Israeli attack or a combined operation with the U.S.  There is no doubt that Iran represents a potentially very serious threat to the entire world – but so did Saddam Hussein.  To ignore the lessons of that strategic debacle is simply gross negligence

AP Sets Record Straight That Obama Is NOT Anti-Israel

September 21, 2011 Comments off
Image representing Associated Press as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

In a timely release, the Associated Press has become the first major news organization that I am aware of that actually has taken on the concerted campaign to besmirch the Administration by painting it as anti-Israel.  While there have certainly been diplomatic missteps with Israel and relations have been tense at times, with virtually any other country these would have been considered normal foreign policy differences or flaps, and not particularly out of the ordinary.

The AP piece appeared on the Washington Post website titled “FACT CHECK: GOP candidates ignoring Obama’s pro-Israel efforts as Palestinians seek statehood”.
In it, the AP takes statements from Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachman and totally refutes each.

One example:

MITT ROMNEY: “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.”

THE FACTS: This statement, delivered with regularity since Obama’s May speech outlining his vision of a two-state solution, comes at an odd moment.

The Obama administration is working feverishly against the Palestinians’ U.N. statehood bid, lobbying world governments to vote down the plan. It is cajoling Turkey to repair ties with the Jewish state. It recently helped de-escalate tensions after Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, winning praise from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. And it has made sure that Egypt’s new authorities honor all existing peace agreements with Israel.

The full text of the AP article about Obama’s true actions with regard to Israel can be found here.

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