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July 18, 2008

NSN Daily Update - 7/18/08
Posted by The National Security Network

In Reversals, Bush, McCain Embrace Progressive Positions on Iran and Afghanistan

Will McCain Next Embrace Obama’s Iran Position as Bush Has?

Two long-held progressive positions were embraced this week in stunning foreign policy reversals by George Bush and John McCain. First, the Bush administration will sit down at the negotiating table tomorrow with Iran and is seriously considering establishing a permanent diplomatic presence in Teheran. Second, John McCain - after downplaying  Afghanistan in his campaign and failing to attend a single hearing on Afghanistan the past two years - has reversed himself and embraced Sen. Obama’s plan to increase our troop commitment. The Bush administration has also signaled that, like progressives, it wants to respond to commanders’ in the field and increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan. John McCain has yet to indicate whether he still believes diplomatic talks with Iran represent appeasement, or whether he will join President Bush and embrace Obama’s position on Iran as well.

Bush administration reverses course on Iran, seems to embrace progressive calls for diplomacy.  The Bush administration announced this week that it will send Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, the State Department’s third-ranking official, to international talks in Geneva with Iran about its nuclear program tomorrow. The Bush administration is also considering opening a diplomatic presence in Iran in the form of a so-called interests section, rather than a fully staffed embassy.  However, officials caution, the idea has “not been approved by the White House and could be delayed or blocked by opposition within the administration.” These shifts represent a marked reversal from statements Bush made in the Knesset in May of this year: “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” [NY Times, 7/18/08. White House, 5/18/08]

McCain reverses position on Afghanistan, embraces Obama’s proposal to send more troops.
  Initially, McCain thought the war in Afghanistan was won and dismissed the Al Qaeda threat.  In April 2003, despite emerging signs that the Taliban and al Qaeda were reconstituting, McCain said that “nobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States of America.” and in October 2005 McCain said, “we don’t read about [Afghanistan] anymore, because it’s succeeded.” Yet on Tuesday McCain reversed his opposition to sending more troops and endorsed Barack Obama’s plan to increase U.S. force levels in Afghanistan. McCain’s sudden shift was decidedly devoid of specifics and seemed unworkable given his opposition to decreasing forces from Iraq. This, and his redundant proposal to create another War Czar, left one prominent editorial board wondering if McCain was “confused” and left them “wondering how well formed his ideas are.” [NY Times, 7/17/08. LA Times, 7/17/08]

Mideast region shifting from confrontation to diplomacy, in wake of policy failures. The New York Times notes that there has been a “distinct change in direction” in the Middle East, as “Syria is being welcomed out of isolation by Europe and is holding indirect talks with Israel. Lebanon has formed a new government. Israel has cut deals with Hamas.”  Accordingly, “The United States, Israel and some of their European allies have begun to recognize that their policy of trying to defeat their enemies by isolating and vilifying them has failed.” [NY Times, 7/18/08]

Quick Hits

The New York Times reveals that faulty electrical wiring done by contractors at U.S. military bases in Iraq has caused deaths and injuries in greater numbers than the Pentagon has previously acknowledged.

Saudi Arabia is planning for a post-oil economy
by building cities focused on specific economic, educational or research sectors.

Anbar province is facing difficulties
during the U.S. handover of greater authority to Iraqis.  Washington fears that a transfer of power could inflame the rivalry among rival Sunni groups, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Sons of Iraq, that currently maintain a fragile quiet in the restive Iraqi province.

Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, is cautiously optimistic about this weekends’ Geneva talks among representatives of the EU, United States and Iran.

Al Gore gave an impassioned speech yesterday to advocate a drastic shift in U.S. energy policy, saying that “the survival of the United States as we know it is at risk.”

Bill Clinton’s foundation has made a deal with suppliers of a key malaria-fighting drug in order to stabilize prices and ensure its availability.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft defended waterboarding
yesterday in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the Bush administration’s interrogation rules.


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Hey, howabout some analysis of the op-ed by Benny Morris in today's NYT? Up to now I've only thought of him as an historian with a decent reputation. But this stuff made for scary reading on the subway:

Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war. They are likely to use any bomb they build, both because of ideology and because of fear of Israeli nuclear pre-emption. Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable. The alternative is letting Tehran have its bomb. In either case, a Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust would be in the cards.

In other words, Israel must nuke Iran so that Iran can't develop their nukes, which only Iran would be so irresponsible as to use.

The obvious aftermath of such an attack on Iran would include the huge number of dead from the attacks and fallout, the Straits of Hormuz attacked and closed by the remaining Iranian forces, chaos(now * X) in Iraq, and masses convinced that Israel must be destroyed. Doesn't seem logical except in certain undisclosed locations.

Is this possibly the "I'm so crazy you'd better hold me back" ploy? Would such logic convince the administration that it's better to have US attacks alongside the IDF's so that the job is done, and so Israel won't follow the "logical" conclusion Morris suggests?

Obama and McCain finally found something to agree on: Afghanistan is where the real war's at! While McCain still wants to fight in Iraq some more, Obama thinks Iraq is totally last year's war and we should just throw everything we have at Afghanistan. Regardless of what they think of Iraq, the verdict is in. Afghanistan is the war to watch!

How must Iraq feel to be yesterday's quagmire? If only these two chaotic regions could talk...

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

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