Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

Fareed Zakaria deserves a medal for breaking with the mainstream media pack to slap down, with the requisite rudeness, the hysteria over Iran being manufactured by the neocons, opportunist Israeli politicians and the Bush Administration. Perhaps stung by having participated in a secret Bush Administration policy discussion to help shape the Iraq war policy before the invasion, Zakaria is acting with honor now to prevent another disaster. This while much of the rest of the media is futzing around asking the wrong questions on Iran and getting the answers that only the wrong questions can produce. Exhibit A: The Washington Post editorial suggesting that the only “alternative” to harsh new sanctions that most of the international community opposes is war, and then scolding “those who say they oppose military action — including a couple of the second-tier Democratic presidential candidates — to portray the sanctions initiative as a buildup to war by Mr. Bush. We’ve seen no evidence that the president has decided on war, and it’s clear that many senior administration officials understand the package as the best way to avoid military action. It is not they but those who oppose tougher sanctions who make war with Iran more likely.”

If and when a war with Iran, with all its terrible consequences that leaves many thousands dead and the U.S. in an even weaker position than it is now, those looking for explanations will do well to remember how their media failed them — with some honorable exceptions. Of course, the hysteria is being fed by the fact that it’s an election season here, and a bunch of mediocre candidates is trying to outdo one another by talking tough on Iran, which, as CNN tells us, has become the new Iraq as far as the presidential campaign is concerned.

Of course the push for tougher sanctions shortens the distance to war, and make it more likely, for a simple reason: Those pushing for them see the sanctions as a “last hope” for something they curiously dub “diplomacy”, failing which force becomes the “only alternative.” But there won’t be tougher sanctions, and not because of the commercial interests of those like Russia and China that oppose them. The reason there won’t be tougher sanctions is that most of the international community recognizes two things: The balance of power in the region is such that Iran is unlikely to respond to pressure and ultimatums over its nuclear program (nor, for that matter, is it likely to be deterred by air strikes, for which it will surely retaliate and extract a heavy price from the U.S. and its allies). Second, and, even more important, most of the international community rejects the very premise that Iran’s nuclear program represents an imminent threat that can only be dealt with by tougher sanctions or military action.

It is, frankly, shocking, that the media allows to pass largely unchallenged remarks such as the one by Condoleezza Rice when announcing new sanctions on Iran, that “Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israeli off the map.” Offer of open negotiations? The Bush Administration has made no such offer; it is the Iranians who have offered unconditional negotiations with the U.S. (in 2003), only to be given the brush-off by a Bush Administration drunk on its misperception of success in Iraq. Today the Administration offers talks with Iran, but only if Iran first heeds the U.S. demand that it end its uranium enrichment activities.

That’s not diplomacy. In fact, listening to Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, you get this bizarre definition of “diplomacy,” which she uses interchangeably with sanctions. If you pursue sanctions, you’re pursuing diplomacy, according to Hillary, not war. But sanctions are not diplomacy, they’re simply a non-violent form of punitive action. Diplomacy involves talking the other side about the most vexed and divisive issues. Any grownup can see that such a conversation — which has not happened, nor has the Administration shown any inclination to make it happen — would be the very foundation of a diplomatic solution. (But, of course, by “diplomatic solution” Bush simply means that the Iranians surrender without him having to fire a shot.)

Zakaria has distinguished himself by taking this fight into the mainstream media, with a passion and righteous indignation all too rare in its columns and broadcasts.

Whereas the mainstream media appears to have taken as read largely unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s nuclear program representing an existential threat to Israel and others, and similarly unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s role in Iraq (which has lately become the Bush Administration’s fallacy d’jour in explaining its failures there), more sober heads begin the discussion by asking whether Iran’s nuclear program actually represent a threat, and if so, is it a threat of sufficient magnitude to justify the risk of potentially catastrophic consequences that military action would carry. And if not, are there options besides war and sanctions for responding to Iran’s undoubted growth as a regional power in the wake of — and as a result of — the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has acknowledged behind closed doors that even if Iran had nuclear weapons, they would not, repeat NOT, pose an existential threat to Israel. Other top Israeli security officials have said the same thing. Yet Bush and the neocons are left unchallenged when they spin this line.

In an outstanding column in Newsweek two weeks ago, Zakaria did what few mainstream media figures are prepared to do when the President glibly tells Americans that the sky will fall unless they do his bidding — eschewing the deference that so often characterizes the media corps’ approach to the Bush Administration, Zakaria leaves his readers in no doubt that he thinks the President of the United States is a bullshitter, and a dangerous one at that. To quote:

At a meeting with reporters last week, President Bush said that “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” These were not the barbs of some neoconservative crank or sidelined politician looking for publicity. This was the president of the United States, invoking the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.” For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

Amen to that. The “knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” in this instance is the technology of uranium enrichment, which is also an integral part of a full-cycle civilian nuclear energy program. And that’s what Iran is accused of building, which of course, it claims is its right as a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty. Tehran insists it has no intention of building nuclear weapons, and the IAEA has repeatedly made clear that it has seen no evidence that Iran’s program is intended for weaponization. (The issue between the IAEA, and then the UN Security Council, and Iran is its failure to comply properly with transparency requirements over its past activities. Although the Security Council has demanded that Iran cease uranium enrichment until those concerns are resolved, it has not demanded that Iran abandon its right to enrich uranium, because that would contradict the NPT.) So the issue, really, is that the U.S. and its allies don’t trust Iran enough to allow it a full-cycle nuclear energy program, because this gives it the potential to build nuclear weapons if it opted out of the NPT. In its own negotiating efforts via the Europeans, Tehran has previously sought to find a formula under which it would abrogate its right to opt out of the NPT, although those negotiations are going nowhere right now.

Still, assume for a moment Iran did actually use its nuclear energy infrastructure to build a weapon — which it could potentially do, although it would probably take more than five years from now — even then, is Iran really a doomsday threat?

Zakaria has systematically demolished the claims by the war lobby that Iran is beyond negotiation and deterrence, because it is somehow driven by nutty apocalyptic religious zeal, and pointed out that it is the U.S. that has actually refused to negotiate when the Iranians have made decent offers. He writes:

The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that “the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for.” Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, “looked down and rustled his papers.” No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad.

Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, “is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to ‘the farthest mosque,’ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world” (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

Actually, it did get pretty funny when the PBS Newshour put Zakaria on in a live debate with the ideologically incontinent Norman Podhoretz, dean of neoconservatism and a soothsayer that still gets invited to brief Bush and candidate Giuliani despite having been wrong, by Chicken Little proportions, about every “threat” on which he’s ever sounded his battered alarm bell. No need to quote more — you can read a transcript of the exchange here.

Any scientist will tell you that the answers you get in any inquiry are first and foremost shaped by the questions you ask — and in any process of peer review, it is as important to interrogate those questions, and the assumptions on which they rest, as to examine how the answers were derived. If the question is “how can we force Iran to stop enriching uranium,” the choice will inevitably be between harsher sanctions, and war. Neither is likely to succeed, of course, but those who pose the question in this way paint themselves into a corner where not taking military action is equivalent to tolerating the intolerable — a message driven home by the Podhoretzes and Gingriches and Netanyahus (now there’s a Halloween gallery for you!) braying about Hitler and Chamberlain and 1938 all over again…

What Zakaria is arguing, imminently reasonably, is that the Bush Administration managed to climb down off its hysterical perch on North Korea and cut a deal that has substantially diluted any danger represented by Pyongyang, by compromising on its (the Administration’s) own ideological aversion to recognizing the odious regime of Kim Jong-il. And the world — even Israel — would be a lot safer if the Administration would grow up and recognize that it has no alterantive but to seek a grand bargain with Iran.

And it’s the absence of real diplomacy by the Administration, not some false choice between sanctions or air strikes, that should be the focus of the media’s — and the Democratic presidential candidates’ — discussion of Iran.

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60 Responses to Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

  1. Pingback: University Update - Hillary Clinton - Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

  2. Ian G. Mason says:

    Tony: Great post. I think part of the problem is that war for the United States remains a phenomenon of professionals, technology, and money — and is thus neatly firewalled from the larger American public and the things it cares about (i.e. the lives of its undrafted sons and daughters). As long as war feels more or less cost-free to ambitious politicians, they will be all too prone to boxing themselves in with belligerent rhetoric. To date, deterrence from threat of war really only works on smaller countries in whose territories the fighting will take place, and whose populations will suffer 95% of the casualties. It certainly doesn’t work on today’s United States.

  3. Barro says:

    I find it curious (in a mostly good way) that a senior editor at is vocally attacking the “mainstream media”. You appear to be pretty firmly embedded in a mainstream journalistic organisation; do you have any analysis of why these outlets so reliably provide only the most childishly belligerent analysis of foreign policy problems, and the Middle East/central Asia in particular? Is it lack of talent, or is it a systemic problem?

  4. ajea says:

    Tony: Excellent post.

  5. Pingback: University Update - Dick Cheney - Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

  6. ajea says:

    I wonder if Zakaria saw this animation showing what would happened to his home country of India if Cheney gives the go-ahead:

  7. FredJ says:

    “…a grand bargain with Iran.

    What would be on the negotiating table? I know what the US wants of Iran. But I don’t know what Iran wants of the US. So how do they negotiate?

  8. Francis E says:

    Que bravo Fareed. Total smackdown. It was a joy to watch.

  9. naj says:

    Thanks Tony.

    I actually repeat Barro’s question

    Is the campaign of disinformation against Iran a designed one, or is it just the product intellectual haste and laziness.

    I am hearing this “Iran has an economy the size of Finland” for example, quite repeatedly, from quite trustworthy journalists. Do they do other than quoting each other?
    I looked up the CIA’s world factbook and it’s full of information that can contextualize Iran’s size of economy and military in contrast to say, Saudi Arabia, or’s a chart!

    I don’t mean to sound Virillio, but the “speed” is a problem.

    Thank you for pointing out one reflective piece of mediation.

  10. samuel burke says:

    tony, that was a great post.
    i watched that moderated debate and saw for the first time how determined and on point the neoconservative program can be as they drum their message into the american consciousness. fareed did a very good job of looking ambassadorial and balanced in his approach.

    i have reached the conclussion that the only way to confront the neoconservative argument effectively is to put them on the defensive by pointing out that israels foreign policy interests is the reason why they are trying to get america to send her soldiers into the middle east.

    Debating against their talking points is exactly what they expect, the argument needs to be changed into a debate about no more wars for israel, i fully expect the christian zionist to come to the defense if this argument is ever projected into the national debate arena.

  11. Usually agree 100% with you ,Tony Karon, and my other favorite, Juan Cole. But this essay on Zakaira today, I don’t know. Where was he when we needed him? A toy plastic kiddie metal OK, but gold even tinned metal out of the question. You and Cole and Raimando did your damnedest to stop the invasion at a crutial time. Yeah, we lost, but that doesn’t make us wrong. Zakaira most certainly IS wrong, and deserves nothing.
    But in the middle of a Orhan Pamuk book, perhaps a coincidence as the Turkish/PKK tension starts to explode, both side betrayed by USA , Turkey may warrant the metal.. Far more interesting scenario, with a crack at oil rich Kirkik: And a kick in the ass ALL Washington deserves!

  12. Murphy says:

    Agree with Bruce. Zakaria may have shone on this occasion, but as I recall he more or less went along with the drumbeat for war against Iraq at the time when it really mattered. It takes no courage to speak up against the Neo Cons in winter 2007, and Zakaria doesn’t seem inclined to lose his position as House Arab in US mainstream media any time soon.

  13. FredJ says:

    The war to take down Saddam Hussein was more for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait than Israel. They were threatened by Saddam, Israel was annoyed by Saddam.

    Saddam might have turned to Israel eventually, but not until he built up his war chest with additional oil reserves, and the monopoly pricing that results.

    Saddams ground forces were not potent against Israel, and his missiles proved to be useless without WMD’s on board.

    The only way Saddam could have hurt Israel would be with significant WMD’s on numerous missiles.

  14. samuel burke says:

    Tony, the remark by Bernard Lewis reminded of to the comments that were made during the march 19 2003 invasion of iraq, the claim back was that the specific date was chosen, as george bush said at the time, ” Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.” as zionist retaliation on the night of purim.

    maybe bernard lewish projected onto irans leadership the line of thinking used by the uberzionist neocons in the administration who aided in launching the war on saddam.

    >Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, “is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to ‘the farthest mosque,’ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world” (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

  15. KXB says:

    “Zakaria doesn’t seem inclined to lose his position as House Arab in US mainstream media any time soon.”

    Zakaria is Indian, not Arab. Get your facts straight. He has also admitted his errors on Iraq, unlike those now calling for war with Iran. If you want ideological purity, AIPAC and Pol Pot are the types you’re looking for.

  16. Pat says:

    The most frustrating thing about an Iran war is the sheer powerlessness that any given one of us has to stop it. I’ve signed petitions, blogged, written Congressmen, but ultimately it doesn’t mean a damned thing if the White House decides to do what they may well do. I went to the NYC anti-war demonstration before the Iraq invasion, and we all saw how well that worked.

  17. KXB says:

    “The only way Saddam could have hurt Israel would be with significant WMD’s on numerous missiles.”

    Of course, in the lead up to war, Bush said he had such weapons and that such weapons were a threat to Israel.

  18. Matthew says:

    Tony: The amount a country “threatens” the US is inversely proportion to its ability to defend itself from a US attack. Let’s not kid ourselves. American politicians only threaten war when they think they can win it…easily.

    We saw the Decider’s courage when the Chinese knocked out spy plane out of the sky.

  19. Pat says:

    Oh, and I wish more media outlets would point out (like you just did) the fact that the Bush team did with North Korea exactly what they refuse to do with Iran, and N.K. is a far more unpredictable and dangerous nation that had been enriching uranium for many years, then even went so far as to claim nuclear testing. (Though whether it was nuclear is debatable.)

    Congress had better grow some balls, and quick.

  20. FredJ says:


    This is true. Bush apparently believed, or at least said, that Saddam was about to use WMD’s against somebody. He never limited the danger to Israel. At the time, Saddams missile system was clearly incomplete.

    If one believed that Saddam was about to launch WMD’s (against anybody) then of course it makes perfect sense to take down Saddam. Bush’s whole public campaign was based on this logic. Nobody argued we should have just sat by and watched Saddam nuke the region, they argue that the WMD’s weren’t there.

    If Bush really thought that Saddam had no effective WMD capability, but Bush was just using the WMD issue as a convincer, then we are left to wonder at Bush’s real reason for the war in Iraq. Nobody has come up with a persuasive answer. But if the WMD issue was a known fake, then the war wasn’t started to protect Israel, either. Or the Arab states.

  21. Murphy says:

    “Zakaria is Indian, not Arab”

    Alright, then, House Muslim would be the more accurate term. And of course he’s admitted to his ‘mistakes’ on Iraq – even Thomas Friedman has been forced to do the same, so catastrophic did the war that they both supported quickly turn out to be.

    “If you want ideological purity, AIPAC and Pol Pot are the types you’re looking for.”

    This is really a silly statement. I’m not looking for purity (not a term I’d ever use about AIPAC or Pol Pot, in any context), I’m just saying that the hero worship of Zakaria is, IMHO, misplaced.

  22. samuel burke says:

    pat, our dissent may not mean a thing in the sense that we have any actual input to influence whatever powers make these decissions. but for me it’s a matter of morality, it would be reprehensible to support a war which leads to the taking of innocent lives for purposes other than self protection.

  23. Pat says:

    Samuel, agreed, but I’m sure you agree that little in life is more frustrating than an urgent effort with no discernible impact on the outcome.

    I think the main reason America stumbled into Iraq, and may stumble into Iran, hasn’t been discussed nearly enough: good old machismo. Politicians need to look tough; the companies that support them need to look equally aggressive; and even a great deal of Americans who supported the war did so because they wanted to vicariously kick ass. How often did we hear the level of debate reduced to, “Yeah, we need to get those fuckers!”

    Questioning someone’s manhood, and even threatening to do so, is still a powerful primal force even in our supposedly enlightened age. All the war’s supporters have to do is bully opponents with a “What are you, a coward?” taunt, and watch the votes / money / public support roll in. And you can point out all you want that many of these supporters are genuine cowards for being so warlike without ever doing any fighting, but belligerence has historically worked a lot better than strength through restraint.

  24. dass says:

    Ok couple of things:

    1) first of all, what I dont seem to understand is this..Tony, Bernie, or any one else help me understand…why isnt the American public speaking up? Are they that dumb or lazy as to swallow everything this pliant American media feeds them? I mean, after all that we have been through in Iraq, I cannot seem to figure out why the American public isnt out on the streets protesting this new war (cmon lets not kid ourselves, Since God (and the neocons) told Bush to bomb Iran, that is what will happen. What does that say about the American people? I mean Hillary numbers are up, and this after most Democrats seem to acknowledge quietly that she voted for the Iraq war and the vote to authorize force against Iran for political reasons. that can only tell me that Iraq hasnt really sobered up the American people. We are looking to claim victory and if that means blaming Iran for our fiasco in Iraq, so be it.

    2) Tony I would disagree that with the notion that only a few Israeli politicians are cynically exploiting this Iran war situation. From reading Israeli newspapers I get the understanding that much of the Israeli public favor a confrontation with Iran. Unless of course the Israeli newspapers are just as pliant as their counterparts here in the US and are falsely reporting the Israeli public’s mood

    3) I cant help but feel that the neocons are getting out of hand even for Israel. I mean right now they favor war with Iran, but neocons in US seems to think they know what is best for Israel, and are making decisions for them. Since Israel only trusts US, they cant say anything.

    4) Bush and the neocons are not in this alone. Saudi Arabia and the other small oil sheikdoms are goading the US into attacking Iran too because they dont wanna see Iran as a regional power. Look at how the US troop death numbers are slightly down now in Iraq. Maybe saudi is telling its fanatic mullahs to ease on sending of young jihadis to Iraq so that US can gather enough steam to bomb Iran. And like I said before all this talk of a new Palestinian peace porcess with Israel is only a dog and pony show designed to distract the Arab world from realizing that US is about to attack another Islamic country.

  25. dass says:

    btw, I am not 100% ready to forgive Fareed on initially justifying reasons to attack Iraq. maybe he feels that he wouldnt be “American” enough and would seem like a sell out if he didnt support the war. the guy is from India originally and is a Muslim. He must have been craving American acceptance of him and so he sold the war lies as candy to American people. Cmon someone as smart as Fareed had to have known that Bush didnt exploit every diplomatic avenue before starting war, yet he supported it.
    Now for his U-turn on Iran, the US media will make him pay a dear price. I will bet that he will be removed from his editor post soon from Newsweek for not agreeing to roll over and bark on this war with Iran command ( and making Norm look like clown with a million bees buzzing in his underpants)

  26. dass says:

    this isnt supposed to be funny, but Norm’s son John was quoted as saying that he runs around “praying” for US to bomb Iran…just conjures funny image of that oaf praying around for war…like Fareed said, this would all be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

  27. ASA says:

    Great post. I was pissed at fellow sub-continent-mate Zakaria for drumming up support before 2003 invasion. I am glad that he became ‘smart enough’ to not be fooled again. Maybe I’ll give him a medal someday.

    But, Tony … as one other commenter points out, you are somewhat part of the mainstream media too. I am a big fan of this site, and I have asked you this question before (but didn’t get any answer). Why do you NOT raise the same issues in your TIME columns?

    This blog is fabulous … but doesn’t have the same sort of exposure as TIME, as you know better than me. So why not take your ‘real’ thoughts mainstream? If you CANNOT … is it not a systemic problem as pointed out in the third comment (by Barro) ?

  28. samuel burke says:

    pat, the middle east adventure isnt about machismo, it’s about defending the dollar (debt) and extending american control in an energy rich zone, with the added benefit of ensuring israels supremacy in the zone.

    imvho of course.

  29. wobbly says:

    I just wonder…

    How could Iran nuke Israel without simultaneously incinerating or poisoning a couple of million Palestinians?

    And destroying or contaminating the Haram al-Sharif? Isn’t that Holy Ground for the Shi’ia???

    Are they RELIGIOUS fanatics or aren’t they?

    I saved this Deustche Welle article from about a year ago:

    Deutsche Welle
    Europe | 04.06.2006
    Iran’s Supreme Leader: “Using Nuclear Weapons is Un-Islamic”
    Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday rejected international demands that his country suspend sensitive nuclear work, vowing the Islamic republic would not buckle in the face of “threats and bribes.”
    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also gave the United States a staunch warning that any “mistake” in its dealings with oil-rich Iran would lead to consequences for global energy supplies.
    “We have achieved a lot of scientific goals,” Khamenei said in a speech marking the 17th anniversary of the death of Iran’s Islamic revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. “This is an historic investment. It represents our political independence and national self confidence. We should not sell out this precious resource because of the enemies’ threats and we should not be fooled by enemy bribes.”
    The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are poised to present Iran with an offer of incentives and the prospect of fresh multilateral talks — involving the United States — on the condition that Iran first suspends uranium enrichment.
    That activity is at the center of fears the country could make nuclear weapons. Iran insists it only wants to make reactor fuel — and not bombs — and that enrichment is a right enshrined by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Solana to travel to Tehran

    EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is expected in Tehran in the coming days to present the proposals. Iran has been given just weeks to make up its mind — or else face Security Council action including possible sanctions.
    But Khamenei added to indications that the offer could end up being dead on arrival by shrugging off any fear of the consequences.
    “There is no consensus against Iran,” he said. “It is only the Americans and some of their allies. This is all about a political monopoly of energy. They want others to beg for energy.”
    Speaking at Khomeini’s mausoleum on the southern outskirts of Tehran, Khamenei insisted that “Iran is no threat to anyone.
    Khamenei: Nuclear weapons un-Islamic
    “We have friendly relations with all the region and Asia,” he said. “We have good and healthy relations with Europe, and in the close future, because they need our gas, these relations will become even better. They accuse us of developing nuclear bombs. This is an absurd lie. We do not need nuclear weapons and bombs. We don’t have any target to use them on.
    “Using nuclear weapons is against Islamic rules,” he continued, according to AFP news service. “We will not impose the costs of building and maintenance of nuclear weapons on our people. Our explosive source is the power of our faith.”
    On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed that in a telephone conversation earlier Saturday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he had been asked “to examine the proposals and not act hastily.”
    “I said that we will not act hastily and that we will examine the proposals,” Ahmadinejad said while ruling out any halt to the country’s enrichment program.
    “Negotiating our absolute right would be like accepting to negotiate on our independence,” he said, according to news reports.

    I hate to say it, but this mullah sounds a lot more sane and rational than, well, just about everbody who talks about this stuff over here, with the possible exception of yourself and Farid Zakaria.

  30. Bernard Chazelle says:

    Zakaria’s father, who passed away recently, was a remarkable man — scholar, politician, etc. Once harassed by a racist thug in Hyde Park who, upon recognizing an Indian man in the heart of London, barked at him: “Why are you here?” Mr Zakaria replied: “I am here because you were there.”

    Made it all the more disconcerting that, on Iraq, his son would be among the ones cheerleading our effort to “be there.”

    But, yes, I am glad he’s getting it right on Iran. Podhoretz has always been an intellectual lightweight, but now he shows signs of senility (what’s with repeating the same Hitler analogy over and over?) I find the spectacle embarrassing. Like making fun of the handicapped.

  31. Matthew says:

    Would someone please explain how Iran has violated the NPT or IAEA regulations to justify sanctions? From the news stories, this is “assumed,” but never explained. Thanks.

  32. Pat says:

    Samuel, I’m a little confused what you mean by defending the dollar … the dollar itself is very weak right now, and a portion of what strength it has is funded by Chinese investments in U.S. bonds. (Yep, China’s paying for our war.) I suppose they’d be defending the dollar if the war caused China to invest more in U.S. bonds, but it seems to me the war has made that less likely. Now if you mean that a weak dollar will increase exports, well that much is true, but theoretically the weak $ hurts American oil supply because the same number of dollars can’t buy as much oil. Then again, there’s the ever-present argument that we just grabbed control of Iraqi oil anyway, but that always seemed to me more of a “side benefit” of Cheney et al’s desire of establishing hegemony. But again, hegemony is a macho thing: “Look how I can do what I want and you all can’t do shit about it.”

    dass, the American public doesn’t protest because they aren’t fighting the war, the military is. The draft won’t come back, but if it did, then you’d see a lot more opposition and attention to the issues. How many people commenting on this site have a close relative in the army / navy / marines? Probably not many. (Though you could make the argument that this site’s readership skews left and is not exactly a pro-military crowd, thus it’s a poor sample.)

  33. Pingback: Declaring victory | Antony Loewenstein

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  35. dass says:

    Finally Time magazine’ resident neocon hawk (or should I say hack?) Joel Klein admits there maybe a link between the neocon warmongering for war with Iran and Israel

    “Is it possible that the reason why the neos are so obsessed with Iran and relatively silent on Pakistan (which, you may recall, actually has nukes) is that–ok, I’ll go ahead and say it–Israel is obsessed over Iran? Indeed, Israel has a right to be obsessed. It’s not just because of–or even mostly because of–Iran’s nuclear program, either. It’s because of Iran’s military and financial support for Hizballah, which fought the vaunted Israeli defense forces more successfully than any other Arab army in history during the summer of 2006 and continues to fester just beyond the northern fence.”

  36. Marjorie says:

    On the Newshour Podhoretz was exposed for the paranoid old fool he is. When Zakaria confronted Podhoretz with the fact hat he had also been against Ronald Reagan talking to the Soviets Podhoretz offered no response. All the Reagan wannabees in the Rep. field should jump on Giuliani for hiring a foeign policy advisor whose advice, if followed, was so woefully off the mark that it would have denied RR his crowning foreign policy achievement.

  37. Pingback: Ijtema » Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

  38. Joseph Gotsens says:

    I agree completely with Zakaria’s statement. What is not brought out is the fact that Bush does not employ deductive, or empirical reasoning. If the Socratic method was employed against him , he would be cut to the quick in an instant. He is a fanatic. Their epistemology, of Intuition, is the basis for their decisions. He talks to a higher power and irrational fear is the driving force-sounds like he has much in common with Osama to me. This man should have been impeached for mental incompetence, but the Constitution does not provide an easy way to accomplish this-so much for democracy. It is bad enough that democracy was usurped, by the Supreme Court, in placing him in power-now, we are paying for it dearly.
    Thank Providence for Fareed Zakaria, Bill Moyers, and others who attempt to seek the truth by rational and empircal means. We must realize that we are not dealing with rational minds, but sick paranoid ones. The problem with Intuition, as an epistemological method, is that it is not subject to “public verification”-very dangerous with unchecked sick minds in powerful positions.
    About now, I would place America in the 400 A.D. postion of Ancient Rome. I will leave with this quote from “Sir William,” slightly modified to fit the occasion: “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, (America)
    That (we are) meek and gentle with these butchers!”
    It’s time to put on the gloves-Newscasters, or fulfill that which was alluded to above.!

  39. Renfro says:

    “REALITY’… the key word.

    There isn’t any in US discussions of the ME or Israel.

    I don’t believe for a moment that Israel thinks Iran will nuke them. I don’t think the uber zionist leaders even believe it. That “hype” is just for the serta perfect sheep in their flock.

    I do believe that destroying Iran and several other axis of evil powers is for the purpose of Israel expanding it’s economic interest and reach and imposing it’s terms on the ME and on Palestine, once and for all.

    The only two things Israel has now in their favor is their own nuke threat and the US in their back pocket to strongarm Arab countries to favor Israel economically in trade. The US-Egypt- Israel cotton import requirement to give Israel a 12% stake in materials Egypt uses in their exports to the US or lose their trade status with the US is a prime example of this blackmailing and strongarming other countries for Israel’s financial benefit. And people wonder “why they hate us’. LOL

    “Isrmerica.Ltd.” is just the international version of the Mafia.

  40. Matthew says:

    Two thoughts:

    Thanks, Dass for the Klein quote. His use of the racist verb “fester” regarding an Arab group is revealing. Do Jews or Christians “fester” ?

    Frontline had a very revealing exchange with Richard Armitage on their last program. Armitage, who was stationaed in Iran during the Seventies, said that Iran was the most ethnocentric country country in the world. (Irony?) And Armitage said that this was true even during the days of the Shah. Uppity Persians, anyone?

    Hence, it’s not about the facts, or the government of Iran: America just doesn’t want Iran to develop–at all.

    The primary fight of the 21st Century will the be the Developing World’s fight against the Scourge of Resurgent Western Imperialism. The resource-poor West will invade and destroy many nations until the West has a moral re-birth (unlikely) or collapses into bankrupcy (likely).

  41. Jorge says:

    Any serious discussion should begin by asking the question, “What’s the problem?” The problem, in this case, seems to be that Iran wants a nuclear weapon. The next question is, “Why is that a problem?” The answer to this question seems to be “Because then they will use it or give it to a terrorist group to use.”

    That second argument is so full of holes if it were cheese no self-respecting mouse would bother eating it.

    It is ridiculous to suggest with any real serious thought that Iran will immediately use the bomb once it gets it or that it will pass the bomb off to terrorists to use against U.S. interests (i.e. Israel). Iran is well aware that the ramification would be instant death.

    Now, there are those who would say, “Well, their willing to kill themselves now. Death does not matter to them.”

    Again… nonsense.

    The only terrorists that are willing to kill themselves are dopey kids and deadenders. The real terrorists (i.e. bin Laden and his sort) get others to die for the cause. They themselves are allergic to the thought of dying for the cause.

    So again, we ask the question, “Why is it a problem if Iran gets the bomb.” The real answer: because then we’d have to respect Iran.

    And that, gentle people, scares the hell out of Washington.

    By the way, do not underestimate the media’s desire for another war. It would make things incredibly interesting to be at war against 3 Muslim nations, not counting Pakistan (on the horizon).

  42. Matthew says:

    Jorge it is true that the media loves war. It raises ratings. Problem is, the American people are having “military fatigue.” And I., for one, would like a President who appears in public and not just at American Legion posts.

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  47. Max says:

    Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal! is a quite interesting post but quite difficult to understand for me –

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