• 22 November 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Election 2012, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Question’s for tonight’s GOP debate

The GOP candidates will take to the stage tonight at 8pm EST to debate national security issues, and we expect Iran policy will once again be a major point of discussion.  Given that many of the candidates have had a chance to offer their talking points on Iran, here are some questions the moderators can ask to dig a little deeper beyond the standard rhetoric.

Mitt Romney

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently joined military and civilian officials and experts in stating that a military strike on Iran could only set its nuclear program back two or three years and would have many “unintended consequences.”  Experts say such strikes would convince Iran to make a full sprint towards a nuclear weapon.

You have suggested that a Romney Administration would be inclined to use military force to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon and have criticized President Obama’s stated willingness to engage Iran.  At the last debate you said, “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.”

-Would a Romney administration be more willing to go to war with Iran than the current administration?  Given that military strikes short of a full-scale invasion of Iran would only delay–not end–the country’s nuclear program, does the “military option” mean you would be willing to send ground troops into Iran?

-Would a Romney Administration be willing to pursue a diplomatic resolution regarding Iran’s nuclear program and negotiate directly with Iran, or is diplomacy off the table?

Newt Gingrich

In the last debate you advocated the U.S. using “covert operations” against Iran and “taking out” Iranian nuclear scientists.

-Are you concerned that publicly condoning “covert operations” reduces the “plausible deniability” of such activities should you become president?

-How would you square a policy of killing Iranian scientists on Iranian soil with the U.S.’s own condemnation of the recent alleged Iranian assassination plot on U.S. soil?  Do you see it as contradictory to advocate assassinating Iranian officials while condemning Iran on similar grounds?

Rick Perry

In the last debate you criticized the Obama Administration for not sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran.  But many experts say such sanctions would raise gas prices in the U.S., kill jobs, and threaten to send the global economy into recession.  And a top Treasury official recently warned that, instead of convincing Tehran to acquiesce, such measures could actually be a “boon” to Iran by increasing their oil profits.

-How much would you be willing to raise gas prices in the U.S and how many jobs would you be willing to sacrifice in order to impose sanctions on Iran’s central bank?

-Are you concerned about the humanitarian impact that central bank sanctions would have inside of Iran?

And though he will not be on stage tonight, candidate Obama gets a question too:

Barack Obama

On the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008, you promised to definitively break from the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, in particular its refusal to engage diplomatically with our enemies.  You stated that an Obama Administration would utilize diplomatic engagement, and cited Iran as an example.

But four years later, some critics say your Iran policy is largely the same as your predecessor’s.  Your administration has only participated in two direct negotiations with Iran and, like the Bush Administration, appears focused almost exclusively on sanctions and pressure.

-Has the Obama Administration lived up to the promises you made on the campaign trail four years ago regarding diplomatic engagement with Iran?

-Has the United States, under your watch, changed course from the Iran policy of George W. Bush?

Posted By Jamal Abdi

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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