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Obama to Netanyahu: "US for Iran strike"/Former insiders criticize Iran policy

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  • Romi Elnagar
    ‘Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike’ During upcoming visit, president will convey message that window for American military operation
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2013
      ‘Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike’
      During upcoming visit, president will convey message that window for American military operation opens in June, TV report says
      By Yifa Yaakov February 25, 2013, 11:22 pm 
      US President Barack Obama (photo credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

      More on this story
      * Diplomats: No Iran-IAEA meeting planned this time
      * World offers Iran sanctions relief to curb nukes
      * Kerry and Cameron say they’ll prevent ‘nuclear-armed Iran’
      * Israel’s long-range interceptor passes test in space
      When he visits Israel next
      month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin
      Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran
      will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.
      Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that
      means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military
      action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike,
      the report said, citing unnamed officials.
      In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out.
      “As we have repeatedly made clear, the window
      for a diplomatic solution simply cannot remain open forever,” said
      Kerry, on his first international tour as America’s top diplomat. “But
      it is open today. It is open now and there is still time, but there is
      only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to
      negotiate in good faith.
      “We are prepared to negotiate in good faith,
      in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences
      could follow failure, and so the choice really is in the hands of the
      Iranians. And we hope they will make the right choice,” Kerry added.
      A fresh round of high-level diplomatic talks were set to begin Tuesday in Kazakhstan — the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow failed to convince Iran
      to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear
      Two weeks
      ago, Netanyahu said he was looking forward to Obama’s visit and insisted that he enjoyed a positive relationship with the American president,
      despite reports to the contrary. 
      “We worked
      together closely, closer than how it may look. We worked together on
      security, diplomacy and intelligence,” he said, warning that Iran’s
      nuclear weapons program “continues unabated” and that “they’ll soon have enough material to produce a nuclear bomb.”
      Netanyahu said earlier this month that he and
      Obama had agreed on three key areas of consultation during the
      presidential visit — thwarting Iran’s nuclear drive, grappling with the
      instability in Syria and the risks of WMD there falling into rogue
      hands, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
      The Associated Press contributed to this report.

      Former Insiders Criticize Iran Policy as US Hegemony
      by Gareth Porter, February 26, 2013

      “Going to Tehran” arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far.
      Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett tackle not only U.S. policy
      toward Iran but the broader context of Middle East policy with a
      systematic analytical perspective informed by personal experience, as
      well as very extensive documentation.
      More importantly, however, their exposé required a degree of courage that
      may be unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security
      officials about issues on which they worked. They have chosen not just
      to criticize U.S. policy toward Iran but to analyse that policy as a
      problem of U.S. hegemony.
      Their national security state credentials are impeccable. They both
      served at different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on
      the National Security Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one
      of the few U.S. officials who have been authorised to negotiate with
      Iranian officials.
      Both wrote memoranda in 2003 urging the George W. Bush administration to take the Iranian “roadmap” proposal for bilateral negotiations
      seriously but found policymakers either uninterested or powerless to
      influence the decision. Hillary Mann Leverett even has a connection with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), having
      interned with that lobby group as a youth.
      After leaving the U.S. government in disagreement with U.S. policy
      toward Iran, the Leveretts did not follow the normal pattern of settling into the jobs where they would support the broad outlines of the U.S.
      role in world politics in return for comfortable incomes and continued
      access to power.
      Instead, they have chosen to take a firm stand in opposition to U.S.
      policy toward Iran, criticising the policy of the Barack Obama
      administration as far more aggressive than is generally recognised. They went even farther, however, contesting the consensus view in Washington among policy wonks, news media and Iran human rights activists that
      President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in June 2009 was fraudulent.
      The Leveretts’ uncompromising posture toward the policymaking system
      and those outside the government who support U.S. policy has made them
      extremely unpopular in Washington foreign policy elite circles. After
      talking to some of their antagonists, The New Republic even passed on
      the rumor that the Leveretts had become shills for oil companies and
      others who wanted to do business with Iran.
      The problem for the establishment, however, is that they turned out
      to be immune to the blandishments that normally keep former officials
      either safely supportive or quiet on national security issues that call
      for heated debate.
      In “Going to Tehran”, the Leveretts elaborate on the contrarian
      analysis they have been making on their blog (formerly “The Race for
      Iran” and now “Going to Tehran”) They take to task those supporting U.S. systematic pressures on Iran for substituting wishful thinking that
      most Iranians long for secular democracy, and offer a hard analysis of
      the history of the Iranian revolution.
      In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime,
      they point to evidence that the single most important factor that swept
      the Khomeini movement into power in 1979 was “the Shah’s indifference to the religious sensibilities of Iranians”. That point, which conflicts
      with just about everything that has appeared in the mass media on Iran
      for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical significance.
      The Leveretts’ 56-page review of the evidence regarding the
      legitimacy of the 2009 election emphasises polls done by U.S.-based
      Terror Free Tomorrow and World Public Opinon and Canadian-based Globe
      Scan and 10 surveys by the University of Tehran. All of the polls were
      consistent with one another and with official election data on both a
      wide margin of victory by Ahmadinejad and turnout rates.
      The Leveretts also point out that the leading opposition candidate,
      Hossein Mir Mousavi, did not produce “a single one of his 40,676
      observers to claim that the count at his or her station had been
      incorrect, and none came forward independently”.
      “Going to Tehran” has chapters analyzing Iran’s “Grand Strategy” and
      on the role of negotiating with the United States that debunk much of
      which passes for expert opinion in Washington’s think tank world. They
      view Iran’s nuclear program as aimed at achieving the same status as
      Japan, Canada and other “threshold nuclear states” which have the
      capability to become nuclear powers but forego that option.
      The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not
      forbidden by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty – much to the chagrin
      of the United States and its anti-Iran allies.
      In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the
      best-kept secret about the Iranian nuclear program and Iranian foreign
      policy: the Iranian leadership’s calculation that the enrichment program is the only incentive the United States has to reach a strategic
      accommodation with Tehran. That one fact helps to explain most of the
      twists and turns in Iran’s nuclear program and its nuclear diplomacy
      over the past decade.
      One of the propaganda themes most popular inside the Washington
      beltway is that the Islamic regime in Iran cannot negotiate seriously
      with the United States because the survival of the regime depends on
      hostility toward the United States.
      The Leveretts debunk that notion by detailing a series of episodes
      beginning with President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s effort to improve
      relations in 1991 and again in 1995 and Iran’s offer to cooperate
      against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more generally after 9/11, about
      which Hillary Mann Leverett had personal experience.
      Finally, they provide the most detailed analysis available on the
      2003 Iranian proposal for a “roadmap” for negotiations with the United
      States, which the Bush administration gave the back of its hand.
      The central message of “Going to Tehran” is that the United States
      has been unwilling to let go of the demand for Iran’s subordination to
      dominant U.S. power in the region. The Leveretts identify the decisive
      turning point in the U.S. “quest for dominance in the Middle East” as
      the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say “liberated the United
      States from balance of power constraints”.
      They cite the recollection of senior advisers to Secretary of State
      James Baker that the George H. W. Bush administration considered
      engagement with Iran as part of a post-Gulf War strategy but decided in
      the aftermath of the Soviet adversary’s disappearance that “it didn’t
      need to”.
      Subsequent U.S. policy in the region, including what former national
      security adviser Bent Scowcroft called “the nutty idea” of “dual
      containment” of Iraq and Iran, they argue, has flowed from the new
      incentive for Washington to maintain and enhance its dominance in the
      Middle East.
      The authors offer a succinct analysis of the Clinton administration’s regional and Iran policies as precursors to Bush’s Iraq War and Iran
      regime change policy. Their account suggests that the role of Republican neoconservatives in those policies should not be exaggerated, and that
      more fundamental political-institutional interests were already pushing
      the U.S. national security state in that direction before 2001.
      They analyse the Bush administration’s flirtation with regime change
      and the Obama administration’s less-than-half-hearted diplomatic
      engagement with Iran as both motivated by a refusal to budge from a
      stance of maintaining the status quo of U.S.-Israeli hegemony.
      Consistent with but going beyond the Leveretts’ analysis is the Bush
      conviction that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had shaken the
      Iranians, and that there was no need to make the slightest concession to the regime. The Obama administration has apparently fallen into the
      same conceptual trap, believing that the United States and its allies
      have Iran by the throat because of its “crippling sanctions”.
      Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis
      to argue against those policies more effectively.
      *Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist
      specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based
      Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in
      This article was originally published at IPS News.


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