No False Choices: Chuck Hagel’s Foreign Policy Roadmap

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steve and chuck hagel.jpg
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today is giving an important speech on US-Iran relations at the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s James E. Smith Conference on World Affairs.
Hagel suggests that we can’t leave the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to turn even more ulcerous and not be resolved. He posits that diplomacy, UN mandates and engagement, regional deal-making, new regional security frameworks and credible economic incentives are in a tool kit that can be used to offer something between the bleak, binary, “false choice” between appeasing a nuclear-armed Iran or bombing Iran.

Here is a section of Hagel’s diagnosis and prescription on Iran:

Today, the Middle East is more combustible and dangerous than any time in modern history. It is experiencing political upheaval driven by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, religious and ethnic differences, radical Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, despair and the war in Iraq.
Forces and events in the Middle East cannot be neatly categorized. The swirl of Middle East history creates layers upon layers of complexity. There is little transparency in the Middle East. That is a reality that is inescapable and cannot be assumed away. To ignore this reality is to risk being trapped by false choices. . .false choices such as the question, “which is worse — Iran with nuclear weapons or war with Iran?”
These are not our only choices in dealing with the Middle East and Iran. Diplomatic initiatives, UN mandates, regional cooperation, security frameworks, and economic incentives are part of the mix of international possibilities that must be employed to comprehensively address the challenges of the Middle East.
We will fail to protect and advance America’s interests — in the Middle East and around the world — if we allow ourselves to be trapped in a self-constructed world based not on reality but on flawed assumptions and flawed judgment leading to flawed policy and dangerous miscalculations.
The United States must approach the Middle East with a clear understanding of the complexities of the region. Our strategic policies must be regional in scope. . .integrating Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violent Islamic extremism, access to energy supplies, and political reform into a comprehensive policy equation.
This should be developed through consultation, cooperation, and coordination with our regional allies Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel. This will require a new regional diplomatic and economic framework to work within. . .a new Middle East frame of reference.

This makes so much sense and is exactly the sort of regional concert that Under Secretary of State Nick Burns mentioned last night during Q&A at his Atlantic Council speech. Burns noted that Iran has some choices — and can move a normalization agenda forward and that Condi Rice will directly meet Iran’s foreign minister if it meets some key conditions. While I think we should meet without those conditions, Burns made it sound as if we were ready to deal.
Burns noted that Iran’s friends in the world today were Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea. He may have tossed another nation or two in there — but he failed to mention Iraq. He also noted that it is remarkable to see Egypt and India voting against Iran on the IAEA Board of Governors. So, an integrated approach to foreign policy is possible — though this seems not to be something that the Vice President or President seem to want to talk much about.
Hagel also has called for the President to appoint a special Presidential Envoy to represent the “day-to-day bolting together of a Middle East peace process.” I think that the person to play that role for the President is former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
While emissaries like John Bolton are now doing all they can to undermine the President’s emerging foreign policy in cases like North Korea — Powell has been studiously loyal to Bush. He won’t write or say anything of import that will undermine the President he served — at least not until after the next President of the United States is sworn in.
Bush should take advantage of Powell’s loyalty and the respect that Powell still commands globally and make him the Middle East arm-twister. Elliot Abrams, who is not a productive player when it comes to moving a new stable equilibrium forward in the Middle East, would be trumped by Powell’s status and engagement.


Hagel states:

Secretary Rice’s recent trip to the Middle East. . .her fourth trip in five months. . .is encouraging. However, the focus of the United States on the Middle East must be comprehensive, sustained, and at the highest levels of all the governments involved.
This will require a new disciplined follow-through from the Bush Administration that we have not yet seen. I have suggested a Presidential Envoy be appointed to represent the President in the day-to-day bolting together of a Middle East peace process that can win the support of all parties involved.
In the Middle East of the 21st Century, Iran will be a key center of gravity. . .a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality. America’s strategic 21st century regional policy for the Middle East must acknowledge the role of Iran today and over the next 25 years.

Hagel acknowledges different, seemingly divergent parts of the Iranian national personality that helps to drive the regional machinations of Hezbollah and Hamas while at the same time a place where “spontaneous pro-U.S. demonstrations” were held on September 11, 2001.
And Hagel fires back — my emphasis, not his — at those who say that this Bush administration has not had productive encounters with Iran by reminding people that in 2002, under this very same administration of President George W. Bush:

Iran has cooperated with the United States on Afghanistan to help the Afghans establish a new government after the Taliban was ousted. Iran continues to invest heavily in the reconstruction of western Afghanistan.
On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests — defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America’s presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.
Complex sets of factors drive the dynamics inside Iran as well as Iran’s actions in the Middle East.

Hagel also demystifies Iran President Ahmadinejad and essentially outlines why our understanding of “presidencies” and “presidents” have been warped by the Bush presidency which attempted to squash America’s system of political checks and balances.
Hagel stated:

Iran is not monolithic. Iran is governed by competing centers of power. The President and the parliament — known as the Majles — are elected. But it is the Supreme Council, lead by the Supreme Leader. . .currently Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. . .who serves as the Commander in Chief and has formal authority over Iran’s armed forces and foreign policy.
Ayatollah Khamenei has the power to dismiss Iran’s President. A separate elected body — the Assembly of Experts — selects. . .and has the power to dismiss. . .the Supreme Leader.
Yet another body — the Council of Guardians — screens presidential and parliamentary candidates, and reviews laws passed by the Majles. A third body — the Expediency Council — arbitrates disputes between the Council of Guardians and the Majles. Finally, the principal government and clerical officials from all of these entities have a seat on the Supreme National Security Council.
Power and influence in Iran evolve and shift. . .and are difficult to understand.
Supreme Leader Khamenei did not support President Ahmadinejad’s presidential bid. In December 2006, Ahmadinejad’s supporters suffered major defeats in elections for municipal councils and the Assembly of Experts. Last month, an Iranian newspaper owned by Ayatollah Khamenei admonished Ahmadinejad to remove himself from the nuclear issue.
Two-thirds of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. Iran is undergoing a generational shift that will shape Iran’s outlook. . .and its opinions of the United States. . .for decades to come.
Iran’s young people use the internet in large numbers, wear American jeans, listen to American music and are positive about America and the West. We do not want to lose this pro-American generation by turning them away from us. They are the hope of Iran. They bristle under the heavy yoke of the Ayatollahs’ strident limitations of personal freedom.

Hagel then advises that America be “cautious” and not “follow the same destructive path on Iran as we did on Iraq.” He writes:

We blundered into Iraq because of flawed intelligence, flawed assumptions, flawed judgments, and questionable intentions.
The United States must find a new regional diplomatic strategy to deal with Iran that integrates our regional allies, military power and economic leverage.
As Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the President’s nominee to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, responded last week to my question regarding Iran before the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, “Iran should be engaged.” He then went on to condition that engagement.
As the 2006 Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq concluded, “The United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues.”
As the 2004 Council on Foreign Relations report on Iran co-chaired by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski concluded, “It is in the interests of the United States to engage selectively with Iran to promote regional stability, dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, preserve reliable energy supplies, reduce the threat of terror, and address the ‘democracy deficit’ that pervades the Middle East as a whole.”
Our differences with Iran are very real. However, by refusing to engage Iran, we are perpetuating dangerous geo-political unpredictabilities. Our refusal to recognize Iran’s influence does not decrease its influence, but rather increases it. Engagement creates dialogue and opportunities to identify common interests, demonstrate America’s strengths, as well as make clear disagreements.
Diplomacy is an essential tool in world affairs using it where possible to ratchet down the pressure of conflict and increase the leverage of strength.

Hagel then supported Iraq Prime Minister Maliki’s proposal for an Iraq-led regional conference:

A regional conference led by Iraq would be an opportunity for the United States to engage Iran, with an agenda that is open to all areas of agreement and disagreement.
Last month, Dr. Abbas Milani, the co-Director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institute, testified before the House Foreign Relations Committee, saying:

The US should offer to negotiate with Iran on all the outstanding issues. Comprehensive negotiations are not a “grand bargain.”
Instead such negotiations can offer [Iran's leaders] powerful inducements, such as a lifting the economic embargo and even establishing diplomatic ties. But contrary to the “grand bargain” suggestion, central to such negotiations must be the issue of the human rights of the Iranian people.
Contrary to the masses of nearly all other Muslim nations, and contrary to the declining popularity of the US in the world, Iranian people are favorably disposed towards the United States. An offer of serious, frank discussions with the regime on all of these issues will, regardless of whether the regime accepts or rejects the offer, be a win-win situation for the United States, for the Iranian democrats and for the existing UN coalition against the regime’s adventurism.
There will be no stability in the Middle East until the broader interests of Iran, the region and the world are addressed.

Hagel then cites the potential, emerging diplomatic success with North Korea and echoes the fact that as I have written before, a new equilibrium of interests in Asia clicked together finally. This template should be applied in the Middle East.
Hagel stated:

The United States must be resolute and clear-headed in our dealings with Iran. . .just as the Administration has been in the latest round of the Six Party Talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The agreement that Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill reached on February 13 with his colleagues from China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia reflects the power of adept diplomacy, supported through regional coordination, strengthened by financial pressure, and our military presence in South Korea, Japan and across the Asia-Pacific region.
The United States must employ similar, wise statecraft to redirect deepening Middle East tensions toward a higher ground of resolution.
We must be clear that the United States does not seek regime change in Iran.
We must be clear that our objections are to the actions of the Iranian government. . .not the Iranian people.
Our decisions to deploy a second carrier battlegroup and other military assets into the Persian Gulf as well as the decision to target Iranian military assistance flowing into Iraq should be coupled with a clear and credible commitment to diplomatically engage Iran. America must have a strategic and comprehensive Middle East framework of resolution using all the levers of influence available to the U.S. and its allies.
The United States must be prepared to act boldly and exploit opportunities to re-frame our relationship with Iran. Engagement should not be limited to government-to-government contact. . .but rather find new and imaginative ways to reach out to the Iranian people.
Part of that initiative could be offering to re-open a consulate in Tehran. . .not formal diplomatic relations. . .but a Consulate. . .to help encourage and facilitate people-to-people exchange. All nations of Europe and most of our allies in the Middle East and Asia have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Kenneth Timmerman, a nominee along with John Bolton at one time for the Nobel Peace Prize, is an avid regime change advocate and has worked with numerous groups inside Iran to try and promote democracy led from within. Timmerman and I get along well and discuss these matters frequently — and I’m sure that he would (and will) take strong exception to the Senator’s call to stop an American policy of regime change.
I think that this is a debate that needs to be had down the road. What is regime change? Is it the kind of transformational, institution building and development of civil society operations and political party networks that George Soros’s Open Society Institute has engaged in relatively successfully in Eastern Europe. The National Democratic Institute has engaged in this work in Africa as well as the International Republican Institute in South and Southeast Asia.
Or is regime change the decapitation of a regime through external or internal force? Perhaps both.
But it seems to me that both sides need to pause and ask, particularly over the long term, “what works?”
I think systematic isolation disconnected from policy does not work. I also think that the Timmerman like cultivation of domestic interest groups can be a smart strategy — but one that takes Americans inside Iran — particularly Americans and Europeans there in NGO roles like NDI, IRI, or the Open Society Institute. But one can’t just turn on a quick switch to animate change in Iran. Relationships need to be built — and that is better done with some forms of real engagement.
I also think America is pursuing its foreign policy and national security objectives on the cheap. Nick Burns — in his Atlantic Council comments last night — indicated a small change in that equation suggesting that whereas the US had committed $14 billion to Afghanistan in aid and reconstruction funds in the last five years, we were now upping that amount to $11.4 billion in the next two years.
That’s a beginning — but Afghanistan is only one part of a moving puzzle in the Middle East and world.
Let me offer for readers the end of the speech, which I think is just masterfully crafted and important — particularly the part about Ronald Reagan’s transformation from firing up the “Soviet Union as evil empire” metaphor to becoming the deal-maker with the Soviets on arms control, and ultimately the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Here again is a link to the entire speech, but now Senator Hagel’s kicker:

The failure of Iran to comply with yesterday’s UN Security Council deadline to halt its uranium enrichment activities should be an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm and expand the international consensus to address Iran’s nuclear program. The will of the international community gives credibility to its demands of Iran.
As Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, wrote in the Washington Post last November:

A diplomacy that excludes adversaries is a contradiction in terms. . .Diplomacy — especially with an adversary — can succeed only if it brings about a balance of interests. . .To evoke a more balanced view should be an important goal for U.S. diplomacy.
Iran may come to understand sooner or later that, for the foreseeable future, it is a relatively poor developing country in no position to challenge all the industrialized nations. But such an evolution presupposes the development of a precise and concrete strategic and negotiating program by the United States and its associates.

Without a wise and integrated strategy, we risk drifting into conflict with Iran.
America’s military might alone will not bring stability and security. . .to the Middle East. That is an enduring fact of international relations that the late President Ronald Reagan understood well.
Throughout his eight years as President, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a global struggle, the Cold War. It was a war fought using containment, alliances, and political, diplomatic, economic and military power. Yet, nuclear war was averted and no shot was ever fired between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
President Reagan was always clear and resolute that the Soviet Union was our foe. . .that deep, fundamental differences divided the United States and the Soviet Union. He referred to the Soviet Union as the “evil empire.”
In a speech before the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, President Reagan said:

I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault — to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Yet it was President Reagan who, in 1986, almost reached an agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to abolish nuclear weapons. President Reagan understood the need for America to engage. . .to understand our friends and our adversaries. . .to explore our options. . .to identify common interests.
President Reagan understood that great powers engage because they are secure in their beliefs and purpose but humble and wise in their policies and actions.
The United States must have a policy on Iran. . .on Iraq. . .on the broader Middle East. . .that the American people understand, and will trust and support. Our words and our actions must seek to make America more secure, and the world more peaceful and prosperous. The world must know that, like all sovereign nations, the United States will defend itself and its interests, but that military conflict will always be the last resort.
The American people are deeply concerned about our direction in the Middle East. The American people expect and deserve a strategy that shows prospects for resolution. A U.S. military conflict with Iran would inflame the Middle East and global Muslim populations, crippling U.S. security, political, economic and strategic interests worldwide. I do not believe that the American people will believe that such an outcome improves America’s security, stability and prosperity.
America cannot sustain political, diplomatic, economic or military engagement in the Middle East without the support of the American people. The rising tensions with Iran, the chaos in Iraq, the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict present a deepening crisis in the Middle East. America’s policies must help lead the region out of the crisis. The American people increasingly understand this present and future danger.
Today, some of America’s own actions are undermining the very interests that we must protect and advance in the Middle East. A recent poll conducted by Zogby International in the countries of Arab allies. . .Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. . .found that only twelve percent expressed favorable attitudes toward the United States.
As David Ignatius wrote earlier this week in the Washington Post from a conference in Doha, Qatar, “It isn’t a tiny handful of people in the Arab world who oppose what America is doing. It’s nearly everyone.”
If we lose our ability to influence outcomes in the Middle East, the consequences and implications for America and the world will be severe. We risk unstable energy supplies. . .growth in radical Islamic terrorism. . .increasing threats to Israel. . .and nuclear proliferation.
We are living today at an historic transformational time in history. The great challenges of the 21st century will require U.S. leadership that is trusted and respected, not feared nor resented. America cannot project only military power. Inspirational leadership and confidence in America’s purpose, not imposed power, will be essential for world peace. If we fail, we will lose the next generation in Iran and around the world. This would result in a far more dangerous world than any we have ever known.
For the 21st Century, the U.S.-Iran relationship will frame the structure and dynamics of the Middle East. We must be sure of our actions and wise with our words. The prospects for peace that have eluded all nations of the Middle East for so long may be on the edge of a convergence of historic intersects. America can help shape the outcome with active and focused diplomacy. . .worthy of our heritage.

I think that Hagel’s speech is visionary and, yes, i will say it — presidential.
I think this speech says things, meaningful things. It makes concrete proposals about how to get America’s foreign and national security portfolio back in shape and offers suggestions that Americans can debate.
Some will attack Senator Hagel — from the right and the left — but this will also serve as a clarion call to others to rally to this sort of sensible, problem-solving enlightened American realism in foreign affairs.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

47 comments on “No False Choices: Chuck Hagel’s Foreign Policy Roadmap

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  3. 出会い says:

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    Reply

  4. MP says:

    Rich writes: “Granted, but do all the differences justify, erase, or even mitigate the similarities? No. Not even a little bit.”
    No, and that’s not what I’m saying. If you’re interested, go back and read the context of my comment and why I made it. Den made the point that it wasn’t “helpful” to make blanket statements about the left. My point, in essence, was, it isn’t helpful to call the Israelis “Nazis.”
    If you’re interested, read bitterlemons.org or MJ Rosenbergs IDF posts and you’ll find people, on both sides, who are trying to find a way forward. You can also read Haaretz–the complete edition without all the non-conforming bits left out.
    You’ll notice that they aren’t calling each other “Nazis” or “anti-Semites.” But that still doesn’t prevent them from condemning wrongdoing and intolerable behavior. It’s only here, on blogs, that people imagine they are striking a blow for justice when they call Israel a “Nazi” state.
    And given the abundant access to all kinds of information and discussion about this conflict, I have to wonder about folks who make that choice.
    As I said, mostly I just let the BS pass me by. It’s moronic, but it’s not my job to police this site. But sometimes, I speak up.

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  5. MP says:

    POA writes: “Ironic. Does this mean you are finally going to show us where Hillary has assumed the position on Iran that you claimed she did? Seeing as how she has NEVER held the position you attributed to her, that might be a little tough, mightn’t it, MP? Thats the problem with pulling facts out of your ass, they usually stink.”
    Not sure what you’re talking about. Give me the quote, and I’ll respond.

    Reply

  6. rich says:

    MP:
    –”Steve doesn’t have a large enough server for me to write down and convey to you all the differences beteween the Nazi regime and Israel. Even if you add the modifier, “midget.”"–
    Granted, but do all the differences justify, erase, or even mitigate the similarities? No. Not even a little bit.
    America isn’t a Nazi or fascist regime, either, but where it ALSO (note well the also) adopts the traits or uses the tools of a fascist state, it too should/will be forced to renounce and abandon those methods.
    It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition, MP. It doesn’t work that way. Democracies able to pursue a just cause do not say, ‘Unless and until there are six million dead, using precisely the same combination of gas chambers, ovens, and ghettos (etc.), there is no genocide; there is no crime.’
    You don’t get to choose. You examine the actual facts and you review the tools used and policies in place. You don’t look away. You do it so that democracies and people of faith can see clearly what is realpolitik, effective policy, and political just causes–so that it can pursue a righteous path to national security. Not away from such genuine security. Say, what is the rate of malnutrition among Palestinian citizens? What DID you think of that video where a female Israeli ‘settler’ came every day to harrass the Palestinian housewife who had to live behind chicken wire in her own home, for her own ‘self-protection’? Say, what became of that resurgence of democracy with actual elections in Palestine and Lebanon? Why DID they ‘have to’ be destroyed?
    It’s time to end this abusive ideology. There are standards that even the US and Israel have to live up to. Fact: certain methods, tools, policies will generate a backlash, an organized resistance. As well it should: it’s called the pursuit of justice. Many different nations have used such methods, sometimes successfully, always with negative political consequences. Certain ethnic groups have suffered disproportionately when that happens. None of that minimizes the Holocaust. The reverse is also true: the Holocaust does not justify the adoption/re-use of the methods it used–not by the US, not by Israel, not by anyone.
    If you or any nation refuses to accept that, and that is a challenge, you’re already past the point of no return. Abuse of power is abuse of power, no shirking allowed and no pejorative statements needed.

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  7. Pissed Off American says:

    “5) you don’t care about the factual accuracy of your statements”
    Ironic. Does this mean you are finally going to show us where Hillary has assumed the position on Iran that you claimed she did? Seeing as how she has NEVER held the position you attributed to her, that might be a little tough, mightn’t it, MP? Thats the problem with pulling facts out of your ass, they usually stink.
    As for the rest of your defense of Israel being unlike the Nazis, all I can say is there are MANY WAYS to exterminate a people, but the methods are just technicalities. What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians is despicable and inhumane.

    Reply

  8. MP says:

    Dear Carroll and POA:
    Steve doesn’t have a large enough server for me to write down and convey to you all the differences between the Nazi regime and Israel. Even if you add the modifier, “midget.”
    If you don’t know that then (IMO): 1) you don’t know much about the Nazi regime; 2) you don’t know much about Israel; 3) you haven’t given much thought to the differences between the two; 4) you don’t know much about the conflict between Israelis or Palestinians except in a biased, one-sided way; 5) you don’t care about the factual accuracy of your statements; or 6) you know all of the above, but are simply venting spleen in a way that doesn’t meet the criterion of “helpful dialogue.”

    Reply

  9. Pissed Off American says:

    Its not a horse, Winnipeger, its a snake.
    And pathetically, you’re still willing to mount it.

    Reply

  10. Winnipeger says:

    hey POA:
    i think you’ve made your point… hundreds of times now, here and in other threads. do you really need to keep beating a dead horse?

    Reply

  11. Pissed Off American says:

    February 24 / 25, 2007
    “An American Strike on Iran is Essential for Our Existence”
    AIPAC Demands “Action” on Iran
    By GARY LEUPP
    Former CIA counterterrorism specialist Philip Giraldi, comparing the propaganda campaign against Iran to that which preceded the war on Iraq, has recently declared, “It is absolutely parallel. They’re using the same dance steps-demonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux.” He’s only one of many in his field (including Vincent Cannistraro, Ray McGovern, and Larry C. Johnson) doing their best to expose the Bush-Cheney neocon disinformation campaign according to which Iran is planning to produce nukes in order to commit genocide, while abetting terrorists in Iraq who are killing American troops.
    Their efforts, and those of many others, are producing results. The mainstream corporate press is far more skeptical about administration claims pertaining to Iran than they ever were towards the equally specious claims made about Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion. The American people are now inclined to distrust claims made by nameless officials about Quds Force-provisioned IEDs and EFPs, etc., supposedly smuggled by “meddling” Iranians into Iraq. Unfortunately the Congress dominated by Democrats elected in a popular expression of antiwar sentiment has not taken a firm stance against an attack on Iran based on lies. Maybe given the nature of the power structure it simply can’t.
    Giraldi matter-of-factly sums up the unfortunate politics of situation.
    “The recent formation of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus should. . . .be noted as well as AIPAC’s highlighting of the threat from Iran at its 2006 convention in Washington, an event that featured Vice President Dick Cheney as keynote speaker. More recently, Senator Hillary Clinton addressed an AIPAC gathering in New York City. Neither was shy about threatening Iran. AIPAC’s formulation that the option of force ‘must remain on the table’ when dealing with Iran has been repeated like a mantra by numerous politicians and government officials, not too surprisingly as AIPAC writes the briefings and position papers that many Congressmen unfortunately rely on.”
    In other words, the American Israel Political Action Committee is the main political force urging—indeed, demanding—U.S. action. That’s the AIPAC already under scrutiny for receiving classified information about Iran from Lawrence Franklin, former Defense Department subordinate of Douglas Feith. (That’s the neocon Feith who supervised the Office of Special Plans—headed by Abram Shulsky, the neocon specialist on Leo Strauss who currently heads up the Iran Directorate at the Pentagon—that shamelessly cherry-picked intelligence to support the Iraq attack. That’s the Franklin who worked in the OSP, and was sentenced last month to 13 years in prison. Feith has not been indicted on any charge and continues to insist in defiance of reason and even a Pentagon internal investigation finding it “inappropriate” that his office’s disinformation project was “good government.” Small wonder Gen. Tommy Franks, formerly head of the U.S. Central Command, famously called Feith “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.” Congressional investigations are just now getting underway into Feith’s role in facilitating the invasion of Iraq.)
    continues at…….
    http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp02242007.html

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “BTW way MP, Hillary is still rattling the war drums at Israel”
    Oops, typo, or brain skip. I meant to say “WITH” Israel, “AT” Iran.

    Reply

  13. Winnipeger says:

    oh, POA. there must be a tiny bit of tenderness buried somewhere in your soul, right?
    one question: do you allow for the possibility that you may be wrong sometimes?

    Reply

  14. Pissed Off American says:

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/cook.php?articleid=10571
    An excerpt…….
    “By late last year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 528 checkpoints and roadblocks were recorded in the West Bank, choking its roads every few miles. Israel’s daily Haaretz newspaper puts the figure even higher: in January there were 75 permanently manned checkpoints, some 150 mobile checkpoints, and more than 400 places where roads have been blocked by obstacles. All these restrictions on movement for a place that is, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, smaller than the tiny US state of Delaware.
    As a result, moving goods and people from one place to the next in the West Bank has become a nightmare of logistics and costly delays. At the checkpoints, food spoils, patients die, and children are prevented from reaching their schools. The World Bank blames the checkpoints and roadblocks for strangling the Palestinian economy.
    Embarrassed by recent publicity about the burgeoning number of checkpoints, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, promised the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in December that there would be an easing of travel restrictions in the West Bank – to little effect, according to reports in the Israeli media. Although the army announced last month that 44 earth barriers had been removed in fulfilment of Olmert’s pledge, it later emerged that none of the roadblocks had actually been there in the first place.
    Contrary to the impression of most observers, the great majority of the checkpoints are not even near the Green Line, Israel’s internationally recognized border until it occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Some are so deep inside Palestinian territory that the army refuses to allow Machsom Watch to visit them. There, the women say, no one knows what abuses are being perpetrated unseen on Palestinians.”

    Reply

  15. Pissed Off American says:

    Yes, Mp, save your breath. With any luck, Winnipeger will save his, too, much to the benefit of this blog.
    Ironic that he comments on Carroll’s “third person” rhetoric, when his M.O. is trying to foist himself off on us with pretensions and false personnas. And so much for his recent apologies to Carroll, and his agreement with Den to refrain from the kind of typical crap we see him drooling above.
    BTW way MP, Hillary is still rattling the war drums at Israel, in direct conflict of your respresentation of her stance. It appears that its “pretty sure” that you purposely sought to nmisrepresent her position.

    Reply

  16. Winnipeger says:

    so, now you’re speaking in the third person, carroll? LOL
    “john stuart” said it best in the previous thread when he wrote to carroll:
    “I don’t like being tendentious, but I do think you are revealing a certain lack of sophistication with this post.”
    save your breath, MP.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    Actually Carroll said MIDGET NAZI REGIME becuase they are midget nazis.
    And btw…this latest zionist activist talking point of trying to convince people not to critize Israel because it will cost the dems the jewish vote isn’t working…in fact it is doing just the opposite. Actually no one but the lemmings care about the dems or the repubs anymore…the majority wants REAL change from whoever can deliver it and that includes the Israel bottomless pit and festering sore on our foreign policy.

    Reply

  18. Pissed Off American says:

    “This contention may be the genuine litmus test for anti-Semitism on the left. In the end, the compulsion to accuse Israel of genocide, while turning a blind eye to wholesale slaughter in Darfur and elsewhere, tends to say a great deal more about the accuser than the accused.”
    First, MP, I notice that you haven’t bothered to back up your claim about Hillary’s position on Iran. Remember, the one you said you were “pretty sure” about. Being mistaken is certainly understandable, but posting fantasy is a bit less so.
    Secondly, now you are claiming the “left” is generally anti-semitic? What planet do you live on?
    Tell me, MP, how many jewish folk do you know that are Democrats? (If you answered anything other than “lots”, than you are lying.)And, in fact, have you not noticed Hillary, Obama, and Edwards groveling before AIPAC?
    I find it interesting that you use straw arguments so consistently, and so transparently. Are you now claiming that “the left” has turned a blind eye to “Darfur and elswhere”. And gee, is the left claiming that genocide is not occuring in Darfur? Guess what, MP, we aren’t talking about Darfur here, for obvious reasons. Darfur isn’t the topic.
    I just posted a link to a study that concludes that 40 some odd percent of Palestinians are malnurished, due to the sanctions. I posted another link to an article that points out Israel is building another 3000 homes on STOLEN land. Land that was STOLEN from the Palestinians. The article goes on to point out that every such settlement lessons the likelyhood of peace, and lessons the likelyhood of the Palestinians ever having a state of their own.
    Genocide? I’m afraid so, MP. Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians parallel Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews in many ways. What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is despicable, and inhumane. And in many ways, Israel’s actions seem to be designed as an insidious and longterm effort to eradicate the Palestinians.
    The bottom line, MP, about your comment about the “left”? Well, it is so friggin’ asinine that if I didn’t realize who was saying it, I would think it was a joke. But hey, keep talkin’. What the hell, we all need a chuckle once in a while.

    Reply

  19. MP says:

    Den: I take your point about the left not being monolithic. Nor is Israel monolithic, but she is often spoken of as if she were. To be sure, Israel has a government which takes certain actions, so it’s easier to say, by way of shorthand, “Israel does this or Israel does that; or Israel is this or that” even when there are opposition parties and movements inside Israel trying to go the other way.
    It is, perhaps, easier to see a group as monolithic when one doesn’t like them. They become the other. But I’ll concede your point about the pointlessness of accusing the left of being monolithic. I consider myself part of the left, so I clearly don’t regard it that way. And, it wasn’t the point of my post.
    In fact, if you read the article I partially quoted, you’ll see that Burston lists 5 very good reasons to dislike many of the actions of the Israeli government. No argument from me on this point.
    I was sparked to post because of Carroll’s following comment above: “I also like the fact that his speech was heavy on “American interest” and not the usual pandering babble about protecting the midget nazi regime in Israel.”
    One could find a hundred comments from her and others to this effect. Mostly I ignore them. But it’s worth noting that calling Israel a “nazi regime” is really the inverse moral equivalent of the Jewish establishment calling every critic an “anti-Semite.” And it’s clear why it’s done: What is the worse thing you can call a Jew? A nazi, of course.
    I would go even further: It is an epithet used to express “hatred” of Israel. It certainly doesn’t speak to the specifics of the situation in any meaningful way. It certainly doesn’t allow for the possibility that Israel is changing or could change for the better in its relations with the Palestinians or its neighbors. After all, could the Nazi regime ever have changed its colors? Ever have changed its views of Jews or gotten along with them? Or with the Poles, the Russians, the Gypsies, or homosexuals?
    Anything’s possible, I suppose, but it’s not likely. The Nazi regime was ideologically committed to the destruction of the Jews, eradicating them from the earth and, in various ways, these other peoples. I don’t think you can say, accurately, that the same is true of Israel. Poll after poll after poll shows many Israelis in favor of the two-state solution.
    Now, all of this could also be applied to the way the term “zionist” is used on these comments as if it were a curse word. Talk about taking a monolithic view! There are as many flavors of zionism as they are of gelato. And yet here, the word zionism is used indiscriminately and monolithically as if Jabotinsky were its only exponent. Frankly, it gets tiresome, and, after a while, starts to feel like hatred.
    So, to use your very good critierion for posts–does it “contribute anything useful to the dialogue”?–I find it hard to see how calling Israel a nazi regime, equating zionism with racism or naziism, or similar types of comments, have a legitimate place here. They don’t contribute anything useful.

    Reply

  20. Marky says:

    Informed Iranians tell me that big oil supported Khomeini, because the Shah was planning to have Iran take a bigger percentage of the oil profits. Hardly a detail to be left out of the discussion, if true.

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  21. erichwwk says:

    Back to Hagel’s speech.
    While Hagel appears to acknowledge that in the long run truth and reality DO MATTER, he does little to contribute to moving the dialogue in that direction. Anyone who talks about Iran and includes the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, without mentioning that event could only occur because of 1953 CIA orchestrated overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, subjects themselves to questions about their sincerity. And lets throw in Gulf War 1 (in which Powell, as well as Cheney) was complicit, and Sabra and Chatila, foreign military bases, and the current hydrocarbon laws that the US is attempting to impose on the Iraqis to justify theft of their oil. And I didn’t hear you mention the new 100 plus new American Embassy, or the 5 major US airfields. If I hear one more time the problem in the ME is radical Islamist, rather than folks wishing to drive occupiers from taking their resources and subjecting them to dictators I do believe I’ll puke.
    It is one thing to bug UN security council members, and coerce and bribe them for their vote. It is quite another to hold on to that support in the long run. We are isolated, we are alone. We are governed by a group of lying serial killers. Like an animal cornered with no good alternatives, this groups best alternative is to escalate the war, hoping to find a way to cross the nuclear threshold. Their other alternative is impeachment and likely conviction as war criminals. As long as we don’t frame the discussion in that context, acknowledging the problem has everything to do with the US , and little with anyone else, we are merely engaged in mental masturbation. It is not just the Arab world that holds the US (political ruling class) in low esteem; it is pretty much the entire world. And the same holds for going to war for WMD- are there really many folks who believe that was the world perspective, that intelligence was faulty? It may appear that way, when out of 398 “experts” on MSM, only 3 (three) represented the 25% of the US who understood the WDM nonsense, only THREE (3) came from this group. Sorry, science is not done by popular vote, and the opinion of a cascade engineer is NOT the same as an opinion from an attorney, political scientist, novelist, or advertising executive.
    PS Steve, i believe you inadvertently linked Burns comments to Hagels speech. It would be informative to see more precisely just what Burns said.

    Reply

  22. MP says:

    Den…thanks for your response. I’m “running” now, but will respond more later when I have a chance. I appreciate what you’re saying here.

    Reply

  23. Den Valdron says:

    I think it is a very inappropriate generalization to say that ‘the Left’ ‘hates’ ‘Israel.’
    For one thing, this is implying that ‘the Left’ is a monolithic entity which marches to a single drum beat. I’m sorry, MP, but that’s just an obnoxious right wing talking point and it has simply never ever been true. It’s rooted in right wing paranoia, and it was briefly fueled by the enforced lockstep opinion of the international communist movement of the 20′s and 30′s. But even that consensus, which was confined to a segment of the left, broke down pretty quickly.
    ‘The Left’ is not a monolith, its more like a herd of cats.
    Second, the contention of ‘hates Israel’ is simply too broad and inclusive. Perhaps some people ‘hate Israel’ as an organizing principle.
    But most critics have a far more nuanced view, which is that they dislike Israel’s conduct. That conduct is often challenged and debated even within Israel. It is perfectly legitimate to challenge or even to hate policies or actions of Israel, without having to be tarred as ‘hating Israel.’
    Please refrain from stuff like that. It doesn’t contribute anything useful to the dialogue.

    Reply

  24. MP says:

    Who’s the dog? Who’s the tail?
    U.S. hardens line on talks between Jerusalem, Damascus
    By Ze’ev Schiff, Amos Harel and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents
    The United States demanded that Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria, of the sort that would test whether Damascus is serious in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel.
    In meetings with Israeli officials recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful in expressing Washington’s view on the matter.
    The American argument is that even “exploratory talks” would be considered a prize in Damascus, whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and the functioning of its government, while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. presence there.

    Reply

  25. MP says:

    From Haaretz:
    Ten reasons the left hates Israel – five good, five bad
    By Bradley Burston”
    5. Israel’s actions are comparable to those of Nazi Germany.
    This contention may be the genuine litmus test for anti-Semitism on the left. In the end, the compulsion to accuse Israel of genocide, while turning a blind eye to wholesale slaughter in Darfur and elsewhere, tends to say a great deal more about the accuser than the accused.”

    Reply

  26. Pissed Off American says:

    “The voters might forgive that, but they will NOT tolerate the lack of shame and remorse which Hillary display.”
    Hillary was willing to support the invasion of Iraq on unsubstantiated and questionable intelligence, that was being questioned by some very knowledgeable experts. Her rhetoric in the lead up to the Iraq invasion was an echo of the rhetoric we were being fed by the neo-cons and Israel. We now know that the claims made against Saddam were not the result of “faulty intelligence”, but were instead LIES. Hillary fostered and nurtured those lies, and in so doing was complicit in the fearmongering that was used to silence and discredit the dissenting opinions about Saddam’s WMD capability and his connection to Al Qaeda. She is every bit as responsible for this mess in Iraq as the staunchest neo-con is. And since then, she has done NOTHING to hold this administration accountable. She is as slimey as Bush or Cheney is, and the last thing this country needs is another slimey lying posturing President. Hagel is cut of the same cloth.

    Reply

  27. Marky says:

    I think I’ve hit on what really, really irks me about today’s Chuck Hagel. This was a thought I had in reference to Hillary too.
    First of all, let’s take as a given that the public has been at least a year ahead of most of Congress in terms of seeing the war for the failure it is; likewise for Bush’s foreign policy as a whole.
    Now they see Hagel making a lot of noise, without even proposing or supporting concrete action to help get us out of Iraq. That really rankles, but its’ not the worst thing.
    You know how Hillary has been pilloried for refusing to apologize for the AUMF vote—rightly so, but that’s arguable. Still, she and Hagel dont’ understand that even if one or another particular position of theirs was justifiable re Iraq, they still owe us an apology! Congress fell down on the job for 6 years!! The voters might forgive that, but they will NOT tolerate the lack of shame and remorse which Hillary display.
    I’m going to get angry if I write anymore, and less coherent (its late), but that is the core issue.
    In my opinion, Hillary’s candidacy is dead in the water already. I expect her to drop like a stone.

    Reply

  28. Marky says:

    Well, perfectly timed with your post comes the news that the Senate is going to revoke the AUMF—or explicity limit Bush’s operations to Iraq.
    As far as I am concerned, this is the last chance for Hagel to show that he’s more than a cowardly stuffed shirt. I can tell you now, I will be stunned if Hagel does the right thing and supports the Dems, but should that happen, I will cheer. When it turns out that he works with McConnell to stop the new resolution, I hope you will finally have some harsh words for the Sen. from Nebraska, Steve.

    Reply

  29. Carroll says:

    Carroll,
    Hagel voted for cloture to send Bolton’s nomination to a vote in the Senate which would have almost certainly ended in his confirmation:
    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00142
    For all of Steve’s lavish praising, Hagel’s rhetoric does not match his actions. Hagel may say good things about the ME, but he sure doesn’t act like he believes those things.
    Posted by gq at February 22, 2007 11:31 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I know all that…I also know I don’t like most of his domestic policy…BUT…at this point I don’t care what “I” personally don’t like….I am more concerned about making sure there is enough of the US left to have something to be pissed about.
    If we don’t get our foreign policy…all of it…on the right track, the other stuff won’t matter.
    Also I don’t see what “he” can actually do single handed at the moment to force Bush&Co to turn around. Doesn’t seem as if anyone can force that. Short of a coup, the neos and Bush and Cheney aren’t going anywhere.
    Of course voting for a coup would be my first choice if it were on a ballot.:)

    Reply

  30. Arun says:

    Anyone who thinks any more that Colin Powell is good for something is living in an alternate reality.

    Reply

  31. gq says:

    Carroll,
    Hagel voted for cloture to send Bolton’s nomination to a vote in the Senate which would have almost certainly ended in his confirmation:
    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00142
    For all of Steve’s lavish praising, Hagel’s rhetoric does not match his actions. Hagel may say good things about the ME, but he sure doesn’t act like he believes those things.

    Reply

  32. Carroll says:

    I don’t know about Powell handling the ME but as of now Hagel is the ONLY person I would vote for for president…(or maybe Clark also if he runs.)
    He is the only (possible) contender I have heard that sees and understands exactly what the US must do in the ME.
    I also like the fact that his speech was heavy on “American interest” and not the usual pandering babble about protecting the midget nazi regime in Israel.
    Run Chuck run.

    Reply

  33. Pissed Off American says:

    Oh goody. Yeah right Steve. Powell is PERFECT for the job. Having had shown his willingness to scrap his morality and ethics for his Commander in Chief, he’s a perfect choice. Why should Bush have to guess whether or not someone will lie for him when he can simply appoint someone he KNOWS will lie for him.
    Powell undoubtedly knows enough about the Bush Administration that he could put some of these bastards in prison where they belong, if only he would speak out. But he won’t. Thats not loyalty, its complicity. Powell is pathetic, he had great promise, and he threw it away to support a monster. I hope he is haunted nightly by the 600,000 dead Iraqis, and our lost servicemen, that he helped murder.

    Reply

  34. Pissed Off American says:

    Notice anything missing here?
    “Today, the Middle East is more combustible and dangerous than any time in modern history. It is experiencing political upheaval driven by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, religious and ethnic differences, radical Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, despair and the war in Iraq”
    Well, at least US foreign policy isn’t to blame then. Nothing to see here, move along now.
    Posted by Volker Bruhn
    Yes, I note too that Israel’s continued settlement of stolen land isn’t mentioned either. Nor is its attack on Lebanon and the subsequent cluster bombing of Lebanese civilian non-combatants.
    I guess Israel and the USA are just innocent bystanders, and victims of those nasty brown people.

    Reply

  35. Mullah Cimoc says:

    Mullah Cimoc say this man him not afraid the neocon spy in pentagon and white house.
    please help this man for make all ameriki people understand bad for killing so many the people and making the lie for hate the muslim.

    Reply

  36. sdemetri says:

    A good resource on things Iran…
    http://www.comw.org/pda/0702iran.html#oil

    Reply

  37. km4 says:

    Instead of blabbering like all the other Dem and GOP candidates Wes Clark is working for America.
    What you can do about Iran
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/22/124931/486

    Reply

  38. eCAHNomics says:

    I’ll pick a fight on Powell. He is a man of no substance who simply does what he is told. Google ‘colin powell my lai report’ and you’ll get the point. Here’s one reference: http://www.usvetdsp.com/story13.htm
    There’s something seriously wrong with that man. We don’t need any more upwardly ambitious arse lickers mucking about in the Middle East.

    Reply

  39. Headline Junky says:

    Powell’s reputation took more of a hit in the US, where people are frustrated at his failure to speak out more forcefully against Bush, than internationally, where it’s generally understood that he was misled on the UN intelligence briefing, outmaneuvered on Iraq, and undercut on the Israel-Palestine dossier. That said, he’s been increasingly vocal about his differences with the Bush team, and he openly opposed the Surge, so I don’t think there’s a chance in Hell he gets the brief.
    As for Iran’s friends, unless it was one of the other two nations he tossed in there, Burns left out a pretty significant one: Russia. One of the lesser reported complications of our gathering storm with Iran is just how much Moscow’s interests converge with Tehran’s, both regionally and in the broader Eurasian energy markets. Russia’s response to any eventual US-Iran conflict (ie. covert aid, energy supply pressures on the EU, etc.) will probably determine whether our regional influence suffers a slow bleed or a major hemorrhage as a consequence. Given the rhetoric coming out of the Kremlin these days, I’d say all bets are off.

    Reply

  40. Mike says:

    I applaud Hagel for his commendable position on the need for regional cooperation and the embracing of a multi-polar world system in which U.N. statutes, regional diplomacy, normal carrot-and-stick diplomacy, etc., are all embraced again.
    But I agree with an above commentator: if he wanted to do something productive besides blabbing, there are many things he could do. For instance, it would absolutely lovely to have Condi Rice before the Senate and testifying under oath, for starters about whether she received the fax from Iran, delivered through Swiss intermediaries, that both Bob Ney and Karl Rove got at the time that she was National Security Council director. Let’s see what she remembers then about this memo that apparently every single person outside the White House is saying is an honest, fair attempt by Iran to establish peace and work through regional problems.
    I don’t know the situation in D.C. too well though. Am I far-fetched in thinking there is a possibility for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to call in Condi and ask her exactly what she knew? I think our very democracy, in terms of openness and accountability, is what is at stake here.

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    If Hagel wanted to do something constructive, instead of just blabbering, he could spearhead an effort to get Elliot Abrams fired. According to Jim Lobe, as long as Abrams is there, no negotiations will take place, period: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=36675
    Also, it’s not at all surprising that India and Egypt vote against Iran. The US bought India’s vote with the recent agreement to provide nuclear power. Carter bought Egypt’s vote as part of the peace accords in 1978. We’ve shelled out about $50 billion since then to keep Egypt bought.

    Reply

  42. dianbi says:

    Does Powell really still have a “global reputation”? I was hoping his prevarication at the UN would be held against him. His cowardice allowed this disaster in Iraq to take on the form it has.

    Reply

  43. b says:

    On Burns:
    The “preconditions” for taks with Iran are for Iran to declare defeat – that will not happen.
    Burns wonders why Egypt and India voted against Iran? He certainly knows that Egypt is bribed with $3 billion a year by the U.S. and India was bribed with a nuclear deal that is illegal under IAEA rules.
    On Powell:
    “Still recommands global respect?”
    What? Where? He has had his show in front of the UN. Nobody will have forgotten that – respect?
    On Hagel:
    Do nothing wishwash – is he willing to kick AIPAC to get Israel to agree on something – oh, lets see that …

    Reply

  44. Volker Bruhn says:

    Notice anything missing here?
    “Today, the Middle East is more combustible and dangerous than any time in modern history. It is experiencing political upheaval driven by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, religious and ethnic differences, radical Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, despair and the war in Iraq”
    Well, at least US foreign policy isn’t to blame then. Nothing to see here, move along now.

    Reply

  45. carsick says:

    I certainly hope Hagel is considered for the Sec. of State job for the next (most likely Democratic)president. I doubt Hagel could win the primary as an (R) or the general as an (I) but his influence in the debates would be a plus.

    Reply

  46. Jerome Gaskins says:

    I bristle at the referral to Iran as a poor country. Mr. Z seems to have a bias that assumes the we are the epitome of civilization, which has been proven wrong time and again. How many ways can we be described as a poor country: health & welfare of our less fortunate citizens, education, acceptance and integration of “minority” groups, morality of our governing officials… Must the pot always call the kettle black, Mr. Z?
    The Middle East brought the world a stabilization of science that has never been surpassed. How can it be called poor now?
    Unless we are deliberately misleading ourselves as part of a campaign to demonize a previously decided-upon enemy…

    Reply

  47. NCProsecutor says:

    Steve, words are nice, but when it comes to Senator Hagel, pelase help me understand what he’s actually DOING to stop the U.S. from going to war with Iran.
    And if you want to continue to see the federal judiciary filled with rightwing nutjobs, then yes, you would certainly think Chuck Hagel is presidential.

    Reply

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