Obama promises to block Netanyahu's 'noise'
24 September, 2012, 20:05Published:
US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, on September 2, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)
US President Barack Obama said during a televised interview that aired this weekend that he will block out “any noise” from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging America to intervene in an Iranian nuclear program.
Speaking to 60 Minutes, President Obama acknowledged that the United States does indeed maintain friendly relations with Israel, but suggested that he would not necessarily intervene in that country’s issues if it wasn’t the best course of action for the American people. The interview was conducted by Steve Kroft and carried by CBS Sunday evening.
Responding to a question about how much pressure the United States receives from Prime Minister Netanyahu to use military force in Iran to thwart a rumored nuclear warhead procurement plan, President Obama said he understands Israel’s concerns but does not feel pressured to play by their rules.
“I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon, because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel, and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race,” President Obama explained.
In response to his answer, Mr. Kraft followed through and asked the president, “You’re saying, you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? “You don’t feel any pressure?”
“When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out—any noise that’s out there,” President Obama said. "Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis — on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”
Despite the long-lasting relationship between the US and Israel, the two allies have failed to see eye-to-eye as of late on the Iranian issue, at least as far as to what degree intervention is warranted. The United States has already imposed serious trade sanctions on Iran and is far from on pleasant terms with them otherwise, but Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have asked for President Obama to take more serious action, perhaps even putting boots on the ground.
"The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time'. And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?'" Netanyahu said earlier this month. "Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Days after that remark was made, Israel asked the White House if a meeting could be arranged between the two nation’s leaders during Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to the United Nations in New York City this week, but the Obama administration said such a sit-down wouldn’t be possible.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor that will challenge President Obama in the November elections, told 60 Minute’s that the White House’s response was a "mistake that sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends."
Rand Paul stands alone against Senate's 'preemptive war' resolution for Iran
Published: 22 September, 2012, 23:52
Senator Rand Paul (AFP Photo)
The US Senate voted 90-1 early Saturday on a non-binding resolution to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Voting against the resolution was Sen. Rand Paul, arguing that the bill was a de-facto declaration of war.
The measure, which was introduced several months ago by Senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Casey and Joe Lieberman, supports continuing to pressure Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The resolution advocates using methods other than containment to stop Iran, including exerting economic and diplomatic pressure. Senate Joint Resolution 41 “rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.” Senators expressed their fears regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
“We know that Iran would create access for terrorists – access for them – to these nuclear weapons, making the Middle East a nuclear tinbox,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said before the Senate. “We cannot trust this regime. We know that fact beyond any potential doubt.”
The bill states that it should not be misinterpreted as an endorsement for military force or war. But as the only senator to vote against the resolution, Paul argued that the resolution would eventually lead to war with Iran.
“A vote for this resolution is a vote for the concept of preemptive war,” Paul said before the Senate.
Passage of the resolution comes at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been pressuring the US for an answer as to what would prompt a US-led military strike against Iran.
Currently, the US is already imposing tough sanctions on Iran to limit its oil sales, hurt its economy and make it problematic for Iran to finance its nuclear enrichment program.
Iran has continuously insisted that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful, civilian ends
'Obama puting off Iran invasion until November' ??
29 August, 2012, 06:48Published:
25.08, 00:23 30 comments
While Mitt Romney and Barack
President Obama has managed to avoid war with Iran, but his wars still could come back to haunt him, Andrew Levine, a scholar at a Washington think tank told RT, exposing the pitfalls of the US electoral system and Obama's term in the White House.
RT: You contributed to a book entitled Hopeless: Barack Obama and the politics of Illusion. What was the illusion in your opinion, and how did it become hopeless?
Andrew Levine: Well, Obama of course campaigned on the idea of hope and the possibility of change, but he was skillful in turning himself into something like a Rorschach figure, in which anyone could see whatever they wanted to see. The changes were not certainly ruptures with the past, but they dashed the expectations of virtually every constituency that supported him, because they envisioned transformations of American domestic and foreign policy that were far more far-reaching than what Obama actually even attempted, let alone achieved.
RT: You’re writing that President Obama’s wars could come back to haunt him. In what way could they do so?
AL: Well, they could all fall apart. In effect the US lost both of those wars, even before Obama assumed office. But the imperative that Obama faced, which was also the imperative that George Bush faced in his final years, was not to lose face.
RT: I’d like you to expand a little bit on Afghanistan. You argue that it is turning into a face-saving operation. How is Obama handling that?
AL: Well, to the extent that he can develop a consensus in the political class in the United States. To get out as soon as possible, which seems to be happening, not particularly through his own initiatives, he will get out. But unless that develops, there’s going to have to be a continued presence there of some sort that is going to continue to wreak murder and mayhem and not to achieve any of the official objectives that the US put forward in entering into that conflict in the first place.
Now if that explodes then Obama will look bad, because the United States will look weak and it will look defeated, and that’s not a recipe for success for someone that has already embarked upon an electoral campaign.
RT: Aside from the wars already on the US plate, you wrote that by far the biggest bullet for Obama to dodge was war with Iran. Do you think it will actually happen?
AL: Well, it looks now like Obama has dodged that bullet, at least until November, by basically buying off Israel with arms.
RT: What do you think about the president’s approach to Iran?
AL: I think that the result is, he may have succeeded in avoiding a war between now and the election, and maybe even afterwards, one can hope, but the rationale for war remains intact. And so the danger that events could transpire which would reignite the danger – and maybe even lead to the eruption of a war – remains real, and Obama hasn’t effectively addressed that issue.
I think this is an instance of a general problem with Obama’s presidency, and it’s partly why it’s very hard for anyone, any of Obama’s supporters, to come up with reasons for supporting him, especially for supporting him enthusiastically in the upcoming election, other than that the alternative is so much worse. Because whatever he’s accomplished – which on balance could be given a plus – it’s always encumbered with negatives that very nearly cancel out the benefits.
RT: The Republicans have pretty scary rhetoric when it comes to foreign affairs, with the exception of Ron Paul. Yet you called President Obama the most hawkish of the lot. Why?
AL: Well, he’s the most hawkish of the lot with respect to some issues, but not with respect to all issues. His position on Afghanistan is at least momentarily probably more hawkish than that of Mitt Romney. They have all of them said that now is the time to get out and Obama as the steward of the empire can’t say that…
RT: He also said that. He said "gradually."
AL: Gradually, to get out, yes, gradually to get out. But that’s different from getting out now, which was what even Newt Gingrich said.
RT: On a different note related to domestic politics. I want to ask you about the Occupy Wall Street movement and where you think it is heading. These people took to the streets to protest the culture of revolving doors, cozy relationships between corporations and politicians, legalized corruption. Do you think their voices were heard?
AL: Yes, in a general fairly diffuse cultural sense. I don’t think that Wall Street bankers are culture heroes any more the way that they used to be.
RT: In terms of policymaking?
AL: In terms in policymaking, probably not, at least not with this administration so far. There was a backlash that took creative form and led to a kind of awakening, a kind of consciousness raising, and where that goes now as the spring is coming and new forms of struggle are likely to emerge, and how that will interact with the political campaign.
RT: Soon Americans will face a choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I want to ask you about the two-party system. Do you think Americans have much of a choice?
AL: It’s sort of like…Coke and Pepsi. And the level of antagonism that undoubtedly exists in the places where those things are manufactured and marketed. At the level of underlying political vision or underlying political orientation, there isn’t that much difference, and Romney would probably be perfectly happy doing what Obama does.
We have a media which is so thoroughly controlled, and all the institutions that manufacture opinion are so pervasive, and our electoral system has become basically like advertising… it’s become sales promotions. There are brands and there are people trying to sell different products, one of two products. And it’s a pressure – it’s not so much that it’s a pressure that’s hard to resist – it’s a pressure that most people aren’t even aware that there is an alternative.
RT: That’s what I wanted to ask. Is there a chance for a third product to somehow get into this?
AL: Well, historically that only seems to happen to some small extent when the third product is backed by a huge amount of money, like when Ross Perot was running for president. And the greens can’t do that, and they’re not going to.
RT: You know, according to one of the latest Gallup polls, a record number of Americans, 40 per cent of Americans, identify themselves as independent, and they don’t have their candidate, effectively.
AL: We have a very profound disconnect between what people want in any meaningful and recognizable sense of the term and what the political process offers in the way of alternatives by the way that the party system has evolved, especially in recent years that makes it increasingly possible for corporations and for very rich people to effectively control the political process, and under those circumstances it doesn’t matter that much what people want, or even that much how involved people are.
US downgrades anti-missile drills with Israel; sends CIA’s Petraeus instead to ease tensions
04 September, 2012, 22:17Published:
US Army General David Petraeus (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)
Only days after the United States announced that it will be scaling down its role in a joint-missile exercise with Israel scheduled for later this year, the US has sent CIA Director David Petraeus overseas to handle damage control.
Petraeus, the 59-year-old former commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, arrived in Israel on Monday to deal with what the Jewish state’s Debka news agency calls the “flames of discord” that have been fanned feverishly in recent days thanks to the latest news on a missile drill slated for next month.
The United States had previously agreed to participate at the beginning of 2012 in what was expected to be the largest joint missile exercise ever between the US and Israel, only for the program to be pushed back to October. Now the US says that they are drastically scaling back on the degree to which they are taking part, not just revoking its number of troops involved by more than one-third, but also calling into question how serious the United States might be about helping out allies in Israel in the event of a war with Iran, an outcome some have suggested is all but eventually certain.
“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” one senior Israeli military official tells Time Magazine this week on condition of anonymity.
Previously the US had agreed to send over around 5,000 troops to test Patriot missiles as part of the Austere 12 challenge; now they stand to send as few as 1,200, which effectively means that some of Patriot system will not be participating in the drills altogether, as a crew shortage preventing them from being tested . The United States has not officially announced if it plans on making any changes to its ship-based Aegis system, which it is slated to test net month alongside Israel's own Arrow, Patriot and Iron Drone missiles. Debka adds in their report that it is now uncertain, however, as to whether or not the US will still dispatch any of its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships.
Now as Israeli/Iranian tensions continue to worsen, the US is acting uncertain about what role it may have in any war plans. Debka reports that Petraeus has been put in Israel to handle the blowback and ensure America’s faithful allies that all is well in terms of America’s intentions.
Only days earlier, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in London that he doesn’t “want to be complicit” if Israel chooses to unilaterally attack Iran as tensions mount, and that such a strike would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program.”
Responding to what the dispatch of Petraeus could be doing to ease Israeli minds, Chicago-based reporter Stephen Lendman writes on Indybay.org this week that any meeting between US and Israeli officials won’t, at this time, establish a deal.
“Washington has its own timetable,” Lendman writes. “Netanyahu's bluster won't change it.”
In Israel, however, officials seem much more adamant about getting America on board. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters, "I believe that the truth must be said, the international community [not the US] is not drawing a clear red line for Iran, and Iran does not see international determination to stop its nuclear program.”
"Until Iran sees this clear red line and this determination, it will not stop its advancement of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran must not have a nuclear weapon," the PM said.
According to remarks made last week by Gen. Dempsey, “Intelligence did not reveal intentions” that Israel is procuring nukes. US President Barack Obama has said that, until Iran fully relinquishes their nuclear warheads, “All options are on the table” in terms of a US attack. This week’s meeting between Petraeus and Israeli officials stands to solidify that role.
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Top US military commander: 'I don't want to be complicit' if Israel attacks Iran
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)
The highest ranking officer in the United States military has announced that he is against American participation in any Israeli-led attack on Iran, even as pressure to destroy the Islamic Republic’s rumored nuclear program remain unrelieved.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in London on Thursday that an Israeli attack would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” adding that he was against US cooperation in a unilateral assault.
“I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it,” Dempsey told reporters.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been adamant that the nation’s nuclear facilities exist solely for peaceful purposes and that the country is not in the market for procuring nuclear warheads, a sentiment echoed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who earlier this week told heads of state, "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none."
So far, no foreign nations have been able to independently confirm or deny that claim. On Thursday, however, the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency wrote that Iran has been uncooperative with attempts to investigate their facilities and suggested that they could be procuring nukes.
Israel, a close ally of the United States, has also claimed that Iran’s intentions are motivated by manufacturing of warheads. In May of this year, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated, “Our position has not changed. The world must stop Iran from becoming nuclear. All options remain on the table."
From an executive standpoint, President Obama has also remained willing to strike if necessary, but has not pushed for pressure on Iran aside from the sanctions currently imposed by the United States.
"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But (both) governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” President Obama said earlier this year to The Atlantic.
On Thursday, Gen. Dempsey commented that a strike against Iran over fears of their nuclear program, if conducted, could be without merit and might even erode the pro-Israeli alliance currently in place.
"International coalition" applying pressure on Iran "could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely,” Dempsey said, adding that “Intelligence did not reveal intentions” to procure nukes.
Gen. Dempsey was in the UK to attend the Paralympic Games, where he is serving as the head of the U.S. delegation.