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Presidential Election

Iran News Roundup 11/14

GOP candidates talk Iran at Saturday’s CBS/National Journal debate
The first question posed to the candidates was on their willingness to launch military strikes against Iran. Romney, Gingrich called Obama’s Iran policy a failure and expressed support for using military strikes and covert actions against Iran. Santorum called for the U.S. to work with Israel on targeted military strikes similar to those carried out by Israel on Iraq and Syria’s nuclear facilities. Perry called for sanctions on Iran’s central bank and Cain said he would support opposition forces but not militarily. (For video of the candidate responses click here)

A fact check following the debate found numerous false claims in the candidates’ responses. (Associated Press 11/13)  Shortly after the debate, NIAC issued a press release condemning the candidates’ endorsement of military strikes, additional sanctions, and support for “insurgents” inside Iran. (NIAC 11/12)

Officials expressing concerns over military strikes and further sanctions on Iran
Top officials and experts continue to warn against military strikes and further sanctions on Iran.  U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says attacking Iran as it could have “unintended consequences” for the region. (Guardian 11/11)

In an interview, former Carter national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski voiced skepticism about military action in Iran and said that we currently have a unique opportunity to “engage Iran.” (Lobelog 11/10)

A leading Israeli firm came out with its assessment of the costs of the different policy options for Iran, ranging from light sanctions to military options, and their determination was that the costs of a military strike outweigh the costs of a nuclear armed Iran.  (LobeLog 11/11)

Lastly, former UK ambassador to Iran, Sir Richard Dalton, opposes further sanctions saying that they empower the Revolutionary Guard by increasing demand for smuggled goods. (Huffington Post 11/14) 

Other notable headlines:

Suspicions of MEK and Mossad links to explosion at reported Iranian missile base

NY Times’ Cohen suggests using “contain and constrain” strategy with Iran

Russia and China refuse to support more sanctions after meeting with Obama at APEC summit

Iranians could face 5 yrs in jail for travel to Israel

US plans bomb sales to Persian Gulf countries to counter Iran threat

Iran News Roundup 11/10

Romney attacks Obama on Iran: If you want peace, prepare for war
Ahead of this weekend’s GOP foreign policy debate, Mitt Romney took to the Wall Street Journal to lay out his case against Obama on Iran.  Romney criticizes Obama for saying he would pursue engagement with Iran in the previous election cycle, for not speaking out enough for Iranian dissidents, and for recently rejecting Central Bank sanctions.  Romney says if he were president, the U.S. would escalate military preparations and signaling against Iran and impose further unilateral sanctions if multilateral sanctions are not possible.  (Romney Wall Street Journal 11/10)

Slaughter: Diplomacy is least damaging option with Iran In contrast, former U.S. state Department Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that “continuing with a policy of sanctions and pressure that is not working is worse,” than negotiating a deal that would constrain Iran’s nuclear program.  But domestic politics stand in the way, she says.  If Obama returned to negotiations “he would be hammered by Republican opponents, in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, for negotiating from weakness, affirming US decline, and so on,” she writes.  “But if we are really as worried about an Iranian bomb as we claim to be, results should trump political perceptions.”  (Financial Times 11/10) 

Experts project record oil prices if military action is taken against Iran
Tensions with Iran have put oil prices at their highest levels since July, with the top worry among traders being an Israeli strike against Iran.  Financial Times reports that if war were to break out that oil prices would likely soar to record levels, surpassing the previous high of $175 per-barrel, and go as high as $290. AP says that a teetering global economy means oil sanctions on Iran are likely off the table.  (Financial Times – Iran worries spark fears of $200-a-barrel oil 11/8)(AP – Options for Iran oil sanctions face economic risks 11/9) (Bloomberg – Morgan Stanley Says Disruption in Iran Oil May Raise Prices 11/9)

“All Options” on Iran Must Include Diplomacy

For the first time since the May 2010 “Tehran Declaration,” Iran has offered a proposal that could break the deadlock over its nuclear program.  While there are many unanswered questions about the contours of the proposal and about Iran’s motivations for offering it, there is only one way to answer those questions: renewed diplomacy.

According to Iran’s atomic energy chief, Iran is proposing that the IAEA would be granted “full supervision” of Iran’s nuclear program for five years in exchange for the removal of sanctions.

This proposal may be the first glimmer of opportunity towards a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  It could present a rare chance for the U.S. and Iran to get negotiations on track after the false start of October 2009 and the diplomatic purgatory that set in with the implementation new UN and U.S. sanctions.

But while the details of any such proposal have yet to be laid out and would obviously have to be settled at the negotiating table, some—notably the Washington Post in a September 6th editorial—have already dismissed the proposal it out of hand.  In the past, the limited process of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran has been undermined by each side dismissing the other’s proposals out of hand; and each time, the conflict has become more dangerous and more entrenched.

While sanctions and sabotage efforts have reportedly slowed Iran’s nuclear progress, and as recent reports show that U.S. diplomatic efforts have convinced China to “put the brakes on oil and gas investments in Iran,” the Iranian nuclear program is advancing, albeit at a slower pace.  It is widely acknowledged that sanctions have not changed Iran’s strategic calculus regarding its nuclear program.

The fact is, sanctions were never supposed to do that by themselves.  Even those who supported the sanctions touted them as a means to bring Iran back to the table for a deal.  But now that Iran has signaled a potential willingness to come to the table, we have to ask ourselves whether we value the idea of sanctions more than a potential diplomatic solution.

The idea that sanctions would be lifted in exchange for full supervision is a test for those who said the goal of sanctions was to serve as leverage.  By definition, a lever must be able to move.  Our sanctions regime, we may come to find out, is a lever that is stuck in place—a monument to “toughness” that places form over function.

House Republicans endorse Israeli military action on Iran

Rep. Louie Gohmert has reintroduced his resolution expressing support for Israeli military action on Iran.  The measure has 44 cosponsors—all of whom are Republicans.  25 of the cosponsors are in the House Tea Party Caucus, including potential presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann.

The resolution has been introduced  just in time for Bibi Netanyahu’s address to Congress this morning.

At a time when former Mossad chiefs are saying bombing Iran would be “a stupid idea” and the Defense Minister is attempting to dial back hysteria and free Israel from its bomb Iran bluff, House Republicans seeking to look tough on Iran are prodding Israel in the other direction.

H.RES.271: Expressing support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel.

(Full list of original cosponsors below the jump)

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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