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Giving Iran’s Rouhani the benefit of the doubts never given Netanyahu

Giving Iran’s Rouhani the benefit of the doubts never given Netanyahu

Mideast Media Sampler 10/07/2013 – The Columnists who Cried “Sheep”

There has been a steady campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu in the media.

Last week the Washington Post featured a column by David Ignatius arguing that Israel should let the United States give negotiations a chance. Ignatius used 1973 Yom Kippur War as a lesson for Israel, but he probably would have done better to use the Oslo Accords of 1993 as a lesson.

Yesterday, Thomas Friedman, argues in A Wolf, A Sheep or Something Else?:

But Iran is not North Korea. It’s a great civilization, with great human talent. It can’t keep its people isolated indefinitely. In theory, Iran’s regime does not have to keep the world out and its people down for Iran to be powerful. But do Iran’s leaders accept that theory? Some do. The decision to re-enter negotiations is a clear signal that crucial players there do not think the status quo — crushing sanctions — is viable for them anymore. Because they are not North Korea, the sanctions are now threatening them with discontent from the inside. But how much of their “nuclear insurance” are they ready to give up to be free of sanctions? Are they ready to sacrifice a single powerful weapon to become again a powerful country — to be more like a China, a half-friend, half-enemy, half-trading partner, half-geo-political rival to America, rather than a full-time opponent?

This is what we have to test. “We’ve been trying for so long to use control dynamics to contain Iran that we’ve lost sight of the fact that we actually want the Iranians — specifically the ruling elites — to change their behavior,” said Col. Mark Mykleby, a retired Marine and co-author of “A National Strategic Narrative” for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I’m all about being tough as nails on them, and I sure don’t trust them, but I also believe we need to give them the option to change their behavior.”

“This is what we have to test.”

This is Friedman being Friedman. He contrives a scenario which leads to his sole possible conclusion: We need to test the other side.

Of course, by playing on Netanyahu’s zoological metaphors, Friedman failed to acknowledge his main point: that Iran’s current behavior and history give us little reason to trust them. From Netanyahu’s speech:

But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands. Rouhani spoke of “the human tragedy in Syria.” Yet Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Syria, and that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

Rouhani condemned the “violent scourge of terrorism.” Yet in the last three years alone Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 cities on five continents.

Rouhani denounces “attempts to change the regional balance through proxies.” Yet Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and many other Middle Eastern countries.

Rouhani promises “constructive engagement with other countries.” Yet two years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, DC.

And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. Some constructive engagement! …

Last Friday, Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran has “never chosen deceit… and secrecy.” Never chosen deceit and secrecy?!

Well, in 2002, Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility at Natanz. Then in 2009, Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom. Rouhani tells us not to worry; he assures us that all this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Do any of you believe that? If you believe that, here’s a few questions that you might want to ask:
Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?

The main thrust of Netanyahu was not “attack Iran,” but “sanctions have brought Iran to the table and prevented it from achieving a breakout capability, maintain sanctions, even while negotiating, but be prepared to intensify them if necessary.”

Friedman seems to conclude the same thing:

Secretary of State John Kerry has the right attitude: No lifting of sanctions for anything less than the airtight closure to any possible weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program. That’s the only deal worth having, and the only way Iran will decide if it really is a China in Persian clothing — or something like that.

However, in an article about the divergent aims of Israel and the United States regarding Iran, the New York Times reported:

While Washington and Jerusalem have the same stated goal of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, there is a growing chasm over what might be the acceptable terms for an agreement. Mr. Netanyahu’s new mantra is “distrust, dismantle and verify,” and in an interview with NBC News he insisted on “a full dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program,” something Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has made clear is unacceptable. …

The United States, on the other hand, sees broad benefits to a rapprochement. And while its official position is also that Iran must forgo major elements of its existing programs — including its 18,000 centrifuges, which enrich uranium, and a heavy-water reactor that could create another pathway to a bomb — Mr. Obama has not recently used the word “dismantle” in his own public comments. Instead he has simply said that Iran must prove its program is peaceful in nature, as Mr. Rouhani insists it is. …

An American involved in devising the West’s negotiating strategy said, “The Israelis want to go back to where the Iranians were a decade ago.” The American continued: “No one in the U.S. disagrees with that as a goal. The question is whether it’s achievable, and whether it’s better to have a small Iranian capacity that is closely watched, or to insist on eliminating their capacity altogether.”

I know that the lead American negotiator said that “No deal is better than a bad deal.” But read the three paragraphs above. I see an administration strategy devoted to achieving some sort of deal. So if Iran won’t agree to terms that it deems “unacceptable,” how far will the United States go to get a deal that is “achievable?”

The United States wants a deal; Iran wants the lifting of sanctions.

An American negotiator wants to say, “We have an agreement.” An Iranian negotiator wants to say, “We did not bow to the imperialist Americans.”

Negotiations have a way of taking on a life of their own. Negotiators are loath to admit failure. So if no agreement is reached, there will pressure to lift some sanctions as “a confidence building measure.” Next they’ll reframe the terms of negotiations to claim that they achieved something. Netanyahu is warning against doing that. Would Friedman criticize a bad deal or would he hail any deal as being better than no deal because it would show that the “test” Iran’s new president was successful? Based on Friedman’s history, I’m sure he would choose the latter.

Despite Friedman’s sober conclusion, the bulk of his article is pseudo-historical and pseudo-sociological jargon. Yes, I believe that Friedman wants a test of Rouhani, but I also believe that he’s looking for a test that Rouhani can’t fail.

Worse than Friedman’s column, was last week’s Bibi’s Tired Iranian Lines by Roger Cohen.

I don’t need to critique Cohen’s column, as Elder of Ziyon has already done so quite effectively in The Editorial Malpractice of Roger Cohen. (Being wrong – willfully or not – has become something of an avocation for Cohen.)

But there’s one point to keep in mind. In a series of embarrassing columns four years ago, Cohen extolled the moderation of Iran’s leadership, then with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad serving as president.

At the time, Jonathan Tobin concluded about Cohen:

In going to Iran and then producing columns that served to justify and rationalize the behavior of its government, Roger Cohen was not a foolish pilgrim manipulated by evil men who exploited his openhearted desire for understanding. Rather, he was a writer with an agenda to smash any hope for restraint of the Iranian regime and to split the U.S.-Israel alliance. Though he cannot be said to have lied on the scale of a Walter Duranty, in his determination to portray Tehran in a sympathetic light and disarm those who see its drive for nuclear weapons as an existential threat to the Jewish State as well as the West, Cohen sacrificed his credibility as a journalist. Even more, by using the helpless Jews of Iran as the linchpin of his campaign, Roger Cohen has behaved in a manner so shameful that his reputation as an apologist for those who threaten genocide may well live as long as Duranty’s infamy.

Even when Ahmadinejad was President, Cohen was painting him as a sheep. He continues to do the same. So too, does Thomas Friedman, even if not as explicitly.


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Whatever Friedman proposes, writes or says do the opposite.

The man’s credibility is near zero, his prognostications equal Obama’s foreign policy triumphs and his arrogance, without reason, slightly exceeds Obama’s.

Ignatius is just a worm, but Roger Cohen does a disservice to the Jewish people. People all over respect/despise Jews for their intelligence, cleverness, smarts and IQ’s. Yet along comes Cohen and spoils all that fiction.

Between Cohen and Friedman the Jewish gene pool has dropped 10 IQ points!

The bottom line is this: Netanyahu is Jewish. Israel is Jewish. Nobody is ever going to give them the benefit of the doubt … not even when the bodies begin to pile up. You see, the world cannot abide that Israel can proactively defend itself and quite successfully, too.

If you back the world into Armegeddon – you still end up with Armegeddon.

The current President of the United States has a unique opportunity to cause an earthquake in the Middle East, and all he has to do is give a speech.

We have been given the tools to distinguish friend from foe, and even (gasp!) good from evil in the Middle East. Those tools are the Hamas Covenant
whose adherents advocate genocide, and the reply to the Pope’s Regensburg address, A Common Word which explicitly recognizes the kinship among Muslims, Jews, and Christians, including the Commandment “Love Your Neighbor.”

The Hamas Covenant, viewed in light of the basic principles of A Common Word, is clearly heresy (false teaching) and blasphemy (slander against Islam and Allah). The Hamas Covenant falsely claims to be a document of Jihad, when in fact it is a document of Hirabah.

Barack Obama is in a unique position because he is the first United States President who is viewed by many in the Muslim world as a Muslim. Despite all the name-calling against those who have raised this point before, I have to recognize that this attitude is real, even if it is not an American attitude, but a Muslim attitude. Under Muslim law, the child of a Muslim man is a Muslim, regardless of the child’s practice. There is no choice in the matter, as there would be in the US. Overseas Muslims are convinced Barack Obama is a Muslim because his acknowledged father was a Muslim.

If the first Muslim US President were to give a speech about the Hamas Covenant along the lines of Reagan’s “Tear down this Wall” speech, the cause of Liberty in the Middle East would pivot.

There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Hamas Covenant is repealed, in part because the Hamas Covenant contains provision for an advertising campaign to convince Muslims that they have an individual duty to murder every Jew on the face of the earth, and to re-conquer every square inch of land ever held by a “Muslim” regime. The pernicious effects of the advertising campaign are visible in the behavior of organizations like Hamas and Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab and Hezbollah, to name only a few. This is not the only such document produced by the Muslim Brotherhood, but it is the most (in)famous, and repeal of the one document would cause the others to fall, as well.

Greta’s interview with Netenyahu:

Thomas Friedman would be singing a different tune if he were a potential target of Iranian nukes.

Like most pundits and intellectual, Thomas Friedman leads a consequences-free life: He can spend his life advocating disastrous policies–existentially disastrous–and be confident that no matter how many times he is wrong and how many die because of his folly that he himself will not suffer.

Freidman’s first and foremost concern has always the American politcs side of the foreign relations equation. His first premise in anything that he writes is what would be best for my agendas in American politics– or rather the American political agendas that I am hired to write in support of. His concern for Israel and even Iran is only insofar as how they can be used to strengthen his Leftist agendas at home.

Even taking this into account his ultimately open-hand-give-Iran-a-chance-and-by-that-I-mean-ignore-an-awful-lot-that-the-mullahs-do-and-say stance is harmful and destabilizing, in the worst sense of the word, to the Middle East and continues to exert tremendous pressures on Israel. Even in the most optimistic situations, trust–but verified is the smartest course.