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Confrontation with Iran in the Calculations of the Candidates

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I.  Clinton and Obama Talk Tough 

Recently we have heard the words “obliterate” come out of the mouth of Democratic Candidate for President, Hillary Clinton.  On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Clinton appeared on Good Morning America and with tough talk said:  

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran.  In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” 

Again that evening, she was interviewed by Keith Olberman on MSNBC’s Countdown when he asked:  Can you clarify since there was no follow-up to that which hypothetical Middle East conflicts would incur massive retaliation by this country and what constitutes massive retaliation? Her response was:  

“Well, what we were talking about was the potential for a nuclear attack by Iran. If Iran does achieve what appears to be its continuing goal of obtaining nuclear weapons and I think deterrence has not been effectively used in recent times. We used it very well during the Cold War when we had a bipolar world and what I think the president should do and what our policy should be is to make it very clear to the Iranians that they would be risking massive retaliation were they to launch a nuclear attack on Israel.”

Olberman just let her continue her monologue totally unchallenged about a nuclear attack, as she said, with the help of NATO.  However, we should not be surprised by Clinton’s hawkish stance.  She voted in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman bill which designates Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist organization.”  In her statement she put out after the vote “The Revolutionary Guards are deeply involved in Iran’s nuclear program and have substantial links with Hezbollah.”  By designating all of the Guard Corps as terrorists, it includes actual members of the Iranian uniformed military service who are conscripts in a regular army.

In the run up to each primary election across the country, both Democrats have vowed to defend Israel against any Iranian attack, but they differ on how to engage the Islamic republic over its “nuclear” ambitions.

Barak Obama has promised  "direct talks" at a leaders' level with Tehran and others the United States regards as foes.  Iran should be presented with "carrots and sticks," the Illinois senator said.  In his response to what Clinton said, Obama continued:

“Talk using words like obliterate doesn’t actually produce good results…I think the Iranians can be confident that I will respond forcefully, and it will be completely unacceptable if they attacked Israel, or any other of our allies in the region, with conventional weapons or nuclear weapons."

Obama, while a little more measured in his speech, did not reject the framing posed to him and said that “all options are on the table.” But in direct contrast to his statement that if Iran “attacked any other allies in the region..”, in August of 2007, he stated:   

“There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Obama was referring to Pakistan, who is an ally of the United States.Apparently, the White House was so successful in obfuscating the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate Report  “Iran:  Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” , issued in November, 2007 ( that neither the News Division of a major network, nor the Senators sitting on the Armed Services (Hillary Clinton) or Foreign Relations/Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Barack Obama), were aware of the findings. Sadly, both were completely comfortable to further a talking point created by one of the many Neo-con war cheerleaders who have far too influential a reach for those who have been so completely and utterly wrong on a Middle East plan.

II.   Part of US and Iranian History

According to New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer, until the outbreak of WWII, the United States had no active policy towards Iran.   From 1952-53, Iran's nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq began a period of rapid power consolidation, which led the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to a brief exile and then into power again. Much of the events of 1952 were started by Mossadeq’s nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now British Petroleum.

Established by the British in the early 20th century, an agreement had been made to share profits (85% British-15% Iran), but the company withheld their financial records from the Iranian government. Due to alleged profit monopolization by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the Iranian Parliament had unanimously agreed to nationalize its holding of, what was at the time, the British Empire’s largest company.

The United States and Britain, through a now-admitted covert operation of the CIA called Operation Ajax, conducted from the US Embassy in Tehran, helped organize protests to overthrow Moussadeq and return the Shah to Iran. The operation failed and the Shah fled to Italy.  After a second successful operation he returned from his brief exile. Iran's fledgling attempts at democracy quickly descended into dictatorship, as the Shah dismantled the constitutional limitations on his office and began to rule as an absolute monarch.

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Anti-war activist, mother of three combat tour US marine; member of the national steering committee for the "World Can't Wait" and member of Military Families Speak Out (my opinions do not reflect the national position of MFSO).
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