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August 09, 2007

Bush on Iran

I'm not going to do a whole lot of commentary here, but I think it's important that folks read what Bush said about Iran at his presser this morning. This was all in response to a question noting that Iraq's Prime Minister traveling to Iran:

Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend, the Prime Minister, because I don't believe they are constructive. I don't think he, in his heart of heart, thinks they're constructive, either. Now maybe he's hopeful in trying to get them to be constructive by laying out a positive picture. You're asking me to speculate.

Should I be concerned of a picture -- should the American people be concerned about Iran? Yes, we ought to be very concerned about Iran. They're a destabilizing influence. They are a government that has -- its declared policy is very troubling, obviously, when they announce -- when Ahmadinejad has announced that the destruction of Israel is part of its foreign policy.

That's something, obviously, we cannot live with. They have expressed their desire to be able to enrich uranium, which we believe is a step toward having a nuclear weapons program. That, in itself, coupled with their stated foreign policy, is very dangerous for world stability. They are funders of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is intent upon battling forces of moderation. It's a very troubling nation right now.

Iran can do better. The government is isolating its people. The government has caused America and other nations, rational nations, to say, we will work together to do everything we can to deny you economic opportunity because of the decisions you are making. My message to the Iranian people is, you can do better than this current government; you don't have to be isolated; you don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential. And the United States of America will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Security Council and elsewhere to put you in a position to deny you your rightful place in the world, not because of our intention, because of your government's intention.

So it is a very -- it's a difficult issue, Jim. And the American people should be concerned about Iran. They should be concerned about Iran's activity in Iraq, and they ought to be concerned about Iran's activity around the world.

I'm not even going to try and parse "the United States of America will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Security Council and elsewhere to put you in a position to deny you your rightful place in the world," but even without that sentence making sense, it's worth noting the degree to which this answer infantilizes the Iraqi government and demonizes the Iranian leadership.

August 9, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Damn, it's hard to read through all that without my head exploding. There's just too much jaw-dropping stupanity (or inspidity?) in one place...and this is just an average press conference.

But this bit I found completely astounding:

Well, first of all, I can understand why Pat Tillman's family, you know, has got significant emotions, because a man they loved and respected was killed while he was serving his country.
Significant emotions? What the hell?

Also, anybody know who this 'Mike' character is who asked this one:

Q Mr. President, thank you. There is more evidence of Iranian weapons ending up in Iraq and ultimately killing U.S. troops. And I'm wondering today, sir, if you have a message to the regime in Tehran about these weapons ending up in Iraq and obviously doing harm to American citizens?
Did Jeff Guckert change his name again?

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Aug 9, 2007 4:04:48 PM

Bush: That's something, obviously, we cannot live with

From the preface to the 2nd edition of Bush/Cheney/Rove's book titled "How to win or steal an election with preventive wars and fears of terrorism".

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 9, 2007 4:38:17 PM

Infantilizes? Can't see that.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 9, 2007 4:47:42 PM

Tom Hilton, I noticed that too. That character is definitely work checking out.

Posted by: ChowChowChow | Aug 9, 2007 4:52:40 PM

Question: there are, what, 190,000 American-supplied rifles missing? Any evidence Iran has supplied half these numbers to insurgents or militias in Iraq?

Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans | Aug 9, 2007 4:57:25 PM

Nobody ever said he was articulate. Still, is there anybody -- even on the left -- who does not think that the Maliki government is infantile? Of course it is. That's half the argument in favor of a quick withdrawal. But you go to war with the democratically elected client state you have. And is there any doubt that the current government of Iran is worthy of "demonization"?

Of course, it does not necessarily behoove us for the President to point out that the government of Iraqis infantile or that Iran's government is evil, even if it is virtually impossible to deny that his implicit characterizations are fundamentally accurate. We expect less candor from our head of state -- heck, that's the sort of straight talk we expect from Barack Obama, not George Bush. (Kidding guys, kidding!)

Posted by: TigerHawk | Aug 9, 2007 7:08:27 PM

President Bush is angry and frusterated from the situation in Iraq and rightly by the Government of Iran.
However, millions of dollars are wasted in Voice of America, persian Service, in publisizing the bankrupt idealogy of commuism.
It is hard to belive but nothing in this administration sounds right.
You think that the white house is unaware of faisco in Voice of America?...You are wrong.
What do you expect if other countries such as Iran call "America a paper tiger?"

Posted by: Kian Kiani | Aug 9, 2007 7:22:08 PM

I agree with Kian.
The situation in Persian Service of Voice of America is nothing but disaster. Please read an article which I saw in Myspace.com


Iran & Voice of America

I would like to bring your attention to matters most important at the Persian Service of Voice of America; especially during this juncture when confrontation between the U.S. and the government of Iran is on a collision course. The people at VOA are in charge of conveying the true message of the government of the United States (freedom) by presenting it through clear and comprehensible programs which are broadcast to the Iranian people.

The end results of programming from Voice of America, however, are nothing but ludicrous and disgraceful. I declare this since I worked in the department and I know from first hand experience the complete lack of competence.

The cockamamie management team consists of a woman (Sheila Gandji) with no formal education, no journalism background and no experience in anything but ass licking; and a geriatric man (Kambiz Mahmoudi) who has never been in charge of any job, but perhaps as a barber, skilled in altering his hair color by dying it from white to blonde, then to black, then to brown...

Worse, everybody in Iran knows that the Chief of Persian Service in Voice of America had received $850,000 from the Shah's regime to spend for publicity but when the revolution in Iran brought another regime, then this man kept the money for himself and did not return it to the people of Iran.

In addition, everybody in Iran knows that he was at the payroll of CIA in mid-80's working in "Radio Nejat" in Cairo Egypt but was fired because of unknown involvements.

Then you may ask why so many million dollars of the tax money are spent at the Persian Service with such characters who are known as a thief and informant for CIA? Do their words have any impact or influence on the Iranian people? Are they true representatives of the U.S.?

We will continue informing you in this issue and welcome any input by the news media and the people who care about the future of this great country.

Posted by: Monica | Aug 9, 2007 7:29:34 PM

It makes one wonder if Bush understands how destabilization happens. As if the invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the current state of the power politics of the Middle East. The implicit claim is of course that Iraq under the occupation was stable until others -- some days Iran, other day al Qaeda's foreign fighters -- came along and started making trouble.

Posted by: Philippe Duhart | Aug 9, 2007 7:32:42 PM

Tiger Hawk, I disagree with this: "And is there any doubt that the current government of Iran is worthy of "demonization"?"

One could easily demonize the U.S. for the massive crimes it has committed in Iraq. One could demonize the U.S. for doing nothing to take in Iraqi refugees, unlike Iran and Syria, or for the horrendous economic conditions they have created after four years of occupation - worse, actually, than those created by the Russians occupying Chechnya. On the other hand, what would be the point? Demonization is stupid.

And, since the U.S. is perfectly comfortable with Qaddafi and Saudi Arabia, it isn't as if Iran - which does, after all, have elections, ones in which - unlike the U.S. - the person who gets the majority of the vote wins - is really that far down on the 'evil' scale. The Iranian government tortures prisoners in Iran, and that is a little more evil, admittedly, than the American practice of torturing prisoners outside of the country - but apparently Americans are so wildly in favor of torture that they would vote out any congressman who doubts it. I don't know: does Iran have a tv series that makes a hero out of a government secret agent torturer?

On the whole, the reason that the U.S. is hostile to Iran has nothing to do with morality. It does have to do with the U.S. attempt to dominate the Middle East. Since that has come crashing down, there's no reason to continue the hostility. Detente would be an excellent thing. Since the DAWA party wouldn't exist except for Iranian support - back in the early days, when the connections between DAWA and Hezbollah were forged - it is a little late for Bush to discover this fact, and the absurdity of pretending that Maliki's heart isn't in it - what, he was seduced by a Farsi speaking belly dancer - shows the usual lack of any sense of reality about Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East in general. One thing Bush's press conference did do, though, is strengthen the government of Iran. When Bush connects dissent to regime change, he pretty much screws any chance for the dissenters. Which is good for those Americans who think they are going to wish away the reality of Iran.

And that, actually, is the war monger class. They come pre-infantilized.

Posted by: roger | Aug 9, 2007 11:33:41 PM

roger,

As I said, it does not necessarily behoove us for the President actually to demonize Iran, even if Iran is worthy of it. You argue that Iran is not worthy of it, citing Libya and Saudi Arabia as examples of bad governments that we do not demonize.

Well, both Libya and Saudi Arabia are also worthy of demonization, being incredibly vicious and hideous regimes. We do not demonize them not because they are not worthy of such treatment -- they are -- but because it does not behoove us to do it. We did demonize Libya for years, but then it sorta kinda came in from the cold.

Now, I understand that the left gets all skeevy when somebody points out the various means by which the Islamic Republic is essentially waging war on the United States and its allies -- progressives and other doves are worried that the administration is trying to create "excess demand" for military action. I get that. For what it is worth, there are a great many smart people on the right who believe that the Bush administration has done precisely the opposite -- it has largely downplayed Iran's various crimes against the United States and Israel in order to leave itself the political room to negotiate with Iran in public, as it has been doing now for some months. So the Bush's denunciation of Iran was calculated to serve a number of considerations, domestic and foreign, including reassuring conservatives that it has not gone all soft on the mullahs. That might -- just might -- be evidence that a deal is coming on Iran, which Bush will not be able to get through if the right thinks he was soft on the turbins.

Now, you also say that the Bush press conference strengthened the government of Iran. One hears this argument in various forms all the time. At the risk of putting words in your mouth, the claim usually is that Iranians are so nationalistic that they will despise their own government unless somebody else attacks it. For what it is worth, I think that is broadly true and I also have strong reason to believe that the Bush administration thinks it is true. Indeed, I think the Bush administration has essentially given up on the idea of military action against Iran because it has accepted that argument.

That said, there is probably a big gap between the blowback effects of military action and the blowback effects of verbal denunciations. We know this from the Cold War. Yes, an American attack on the Soviet Union, apart from triggering a massive military response, would have caused a lot of Soviets to rally around their flag. However, we now also know that Ronald Reagan's constant rhetorical attacks on the government of the Soviet Union emboldened the internal opposition to Communism. At the time, of course, people argued that Reagan was being reckless in that rhetoric, but leading dissidents have been quite clear that it was in fact empowering.

Posted by: TigerHawk | Aug 10, 2007 6:51:31 AM

TigerHawk, you lost me on your use of the word 'demonize'. It isn't the same as criticize. Criticism by the U.S. of Iran, and by Iran of the U.S., is a good and rational thing. Demonizing, which builds up a false image of an agent who is lead by evil to do evil, is, on the other hand, an invitation to either war or cold war.

As for the analogy to the Soviet Union, I think Reagan was immeasurably helped by the fact that it was the Soviet Union that was fighting an unjustified war with inhuman tactics after invading a Moslem country. Given the advertisement of U.S. competence, sincerity and helpfulness the Iranians get just by talking to, o, one of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees, the dissenting side in Iran might be taking a few hits, don't you think?

Myself, I don't believe that the U.S. is going to war with Iran. I decided about two years ago that, much as Bush would like to, there would be a general elite (financial) revolt against that. I don't think Wall Street likes the U.S. spending 12 billion per week on Iraq - I think upping that to 24 billion per week so we can fight three losing wars at once to soothe the evident inferiority complex of our CiC would be too much. My concern is more with the mitigation of violence and the promotion of stability that should be part of the year long withdrawal from Iraq. One of the obvious stabilizing elements would be the U.S. recognition of Iran. By demonizing - not criticizing - Iran, the U.S. makes itself less able to recognize Iran - a baby step towards accepting reality in the Middle East, which, who knows, might even lead to a reduced role for the U.S. in the Middle East so we can turn our attention elsewhere.

In my opinion, the U.S. would have been much better off turning our attention to Mexico for the past five years, and spending money on aiding Mexico instead of Iraq, since the only real solution to the immigration problem is making Mexico prosperous enough that Mexicans can make a decent living in Mexico.

Posted by: roger | Aug 10, 2007 10:59:05 AM

As a native born Iranian I would like to suggest that there is no need to attack Iran militarily if the Bush administration pays attention to those who know the situation and use the awesome power of publicity instead of military.
Millions of dollars are spent in Persian Service of Voice of America but the end result is nothing but scandalous way of management and programming.
It is hard to believe but the Persian Service which supposed to be an organization to convey the policy of the U.S. has become a free platform for hard-line terrorist group of communists who attacked the United Sates!
I have the documents in writings to prove that these were done with the knowledge of the management.
I used to work there and as I said before, I have all the documents in writings.
The manager is a woman called Sheila Gandji who can not read and write Persian. Therefore, in order to hide this shortcoming from the higher management, she has hired an eighty something man called Kambiz Mahmoudi who has a lengthy background as crook and charlatanism.
Don’t think that this is a personal vendetta.
The bizarre situation at the Persian Service of Voice of America caused the Republican Senator Coburn to write a long letter to President Bush about the fiasco there.
It is only in America where the government pays to be insulted.
Do you want more information? Write me: ijadi14@yahoo.com

Posted by: Kian Kiani | Aug 25, 2007 10:27:05 AM

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