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Posts Tagged ‘ Lieberman ’

  • 18 April 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file

Washington and Tehran’s Vicious Spin Cycle

The crux of negotiations between the U.S. and Iran is that, at some point, in order to succeed, each side will have to take a deep breath and shake hands on a deal. But thirty years of mutual demonization and fear mongering, means it takes serious political courage to come to the table, and even more courage—and a major investment of political capital—to actually accept a deal and sell it at home.

One way each side builds such political capital is to spin the talks as favoring the home team. This zero-sum approach—building capital at the expense of the other side—is dangerous and can create a precarious back and forth.

After modest success in Istanbul this past weekend, we’re seeing this back and forth play out as the sides prepare for the next round of talks in five weeks in Baghdad. Tehran has portrayed Washington as having softened its position and backed down from previous demands—particularly on the issue of whether Iran has the right to enrichment.

As Robert Wright speculates in the Atlantic, “If Iran’s leadership thinks it may do a deal with a government it has long framed as the great Satan, it needs to tell the Iranian people that it’s bringing Satan to his knees.” He points out that, as Tehran spins one way to build domestic support and to perhaps insulate the negotiations from political backlash at home, the opposite happens among opportunists in the U.S.

The Washington Times, for instance, takes Fars News at its word that the U.S. is granting Iran concessions, seizing on Tehran’s domestic spin to attack the talks. The very same groups that dismiss positive news like Khamenei’s fatwah against nuclear weapons as religious dissembling are, ironically, the most eager to treat Iran’s anti-U.S. spin as gospel–so long as it can be used to attack the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.

For its part, the U.S. is doing the exact same kind of spinning. In Haaretz yesterday, an unnamed U.S. official pushed back against criticism from Bibi Netanyahu that the Istanbul talks were a “freebie” for Tehran. Such an attack from Netanyahu–delivered with Senator Joe Lieberman at the Prime Minister’s side–is politically damaging for the White House and for the talks. Bibi may not technically be a domestic political opponent of the President, but nobody has bothered telling that to Congress.

  • 9 March 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Election 2012, US-Iran War

“Capability” ultimatum misses the point, threatens diplomatic opportunity

We’re at a rare moment in which both the United States and Iran have unclenched their fists and appear ready for real talks.

Obama, thankfully, has taken the pro-war crowd to task.  The P5+1 are finally setting new negotiations for April.  And Khamenei took the rare step of publicly welcoming new talks.

These are very hopeful signs that a breakthrough may be achievable.  But we’ve seen how opportunities have been sabotaged in the past by political opportunism, ultimatums and intransigence that has demanded maximalist concessions from either side and blocked compromise and diplomatic progress.

So, the question is: which side’s hardliners will screw things up this time?

Enter Senators Graham, Casey and Lieberman.  They recently introduced a resolution in the Senate that effectively says the U.S. will go to war if Iran acquires an undefined “capability” to build a nuclear weapon.  They defended their stance in the Wall Street Journal this morning:

Some have asked why our resolution sets the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a “nuclear weapons capability,” rather than “nuclear weapons.” The reason is that all of the destabilizing consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran will ensue as soon as Iranians have the components necessary for a weapon—and by then, it will be too late to stop them.

When some say that our red line is a “nuclear weapon,” it suggests that anything short of a working bomb is acceptable. This is exactly the wrong message to send.

The Senators should ask themselves how such a demand is read in Iran. As Eugene Robinson explains in his column this morning, “The truth is that every nation with sufficient wealth and scientific infrastructure has the capacity to build a bomb if it really wants to.”

Does the Lieberman-Graham-Casey trifecta really think the Iranians will capitulate to an ultimatum that demands they never achieve economic or scientific progress?  How do we sell that exactly?

  • 20 October 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

The real story on the Iran “democracy fund”

The BBC has taken a fresh look at a story the Boston Globe first ran a couple weeks ago about the demise of the Iran “Democracy Fund,” a program started under the Bush administration to support regime change in Iran.

The story provoked an outcry. Individuals such as Senator Joseph Lieberman and the neoconservative activist Michael Rubin blasted the administration for the cuts. Since then, the Wall Street Journal has called it “preemptive appeasement.” Other news organizations, like Fox News and Haraatz, breathlessly retold the story of the United States turning its back on democracy in Iran.

But the story isn’t so simple, as the BBC reveals:

“While the move has been criticised by neo-conservatives in the US, it has been welcomed by Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activists.”

The BBC cites several people, including Abdolfattah Soltani, spokesman for the Defenders of Human Rights Center (Shirin Ebadi’s organization) and a human rights lawyer.

He welcomes the change in policy: “These US funds are going to people who have very little to do with the real struggle for democracy in Iran and our civil society activists never received such funds. The end to this program will have no impact on our activities whatsoever.”

The Globe and subsequent stories focused on seemingly unjustifiable cuts in funding. But many of these articles didn’t talk to human rights defenders in Iran, nor did it scrutinize how the money given to groups in the US actually had affected those inside the country. The story from the people on the inside is quite different: they don’t welcome measures that puts them under additional risk. Thanks to the BBC report, we know that the people putting their necks on the line to defend human rights in Iran apparently did not see the move to cut this fund as US abandonment of democracy in Iran.

Kudos to the BBC on this for digging deeper into this story and actually talking to the people most affected by these policies.

  • 24 July 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 1 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Legislative Agenda

Senate Adopts Measure to Counter Censorship in Iran

Cross Posted from www.niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Last night, the Senate voted unanimously to adopt legislation that aims to aid the ability of the Iranian people to access news and information by overcoming the electronic censorship and monitoring efforts of the Iranian government.

The Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) Act was introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Robert Casey (D-PA) as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

  • 4 May 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

Lieberman: “We are now approaching a Defining Moment in US-Iran History” (Updated)

“[It] is clear that we are now approaching a defining moment in [US-Iran] history and in the relationship between the international community, including especially the United States, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran—a defining moment in which both sides must make big decisions, whose consequences will carry far into the future,” Senator Joseph Lieberman said at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference on Iran last week.

“In this regard, Secretary Clinton said last week that the Obama administration will approach its new engagement with Iran with eyes wide open and under no illusions. That’s exactly the right way to do it.”

Lieberman spoke about a Senate bill he introduced Tuesday giving the President expanded authority to crack down on companies that export gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran. “I have spoken to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and he is supportive, he added.”
Following Lieberman’s speech, a panel with AEI scholars Michael Rubin and Fred Kagan and Brookings scholar Kenneth Pollack discussed US options on Iran.

In contrast to Lieberman’s emphasis on sanctions, the panelists emphasized many of the costs associated with additional sanctions and other punitive measures. “Look, we need to be honest about this: Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions,” Kagan said in a realistic tone.

  • 1 April 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Israel

J Street: Petition and video against FM Lieberman’s inflammatory platform and rhetoric

Check out J Street’s scathing video against Israeli Foreign Minister-designate Avigdor Lieberman. Then sign their petition calling for Jewish leaders to speak out against the politics of division and in favor of a two-state solution.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2306048&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

Update: Lieberman gives belligerent speech on first day as FM, says “those who want peace should prepare for war.”

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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