Traverse City Record-Eagle


Obama and Romney Have Both Drunk Netanyahu’s Kool-Aid

Cathy Stripe LesterI was sorely disappointed to hear both Romney and Obama parrot the same codswallop about Iran. That is, I expected it from Romney. However, I’d thought the president was a little more savvy, especially since earlier this year Reuters reported that, “The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.” Doesn’t he read the papers?

In the debate, Romney repeated 4 or 5 times that Iran is “four years closer to having a bomb.” He sounded like a broken record. In fact Iran has enriched uranium to 20%. You need about 90% for a weapon. No, Mitt, they’re not going to get one tomorrow.

Plus there’s more to a bomb than the uranium. They’d need all the support systems that go with it, plus having to assemble it, test it, transport it and arm a missile with it. Our global satellite surveillance would spot that in a second. No way would Iran get that far without our intervention.

Why would Iran want a bomb in the first place? Kenneth Waltz, adjunct professor of Political Science at Columbia University, has pointed out that the more threatened any nation feels, the more they want to defend themselves. An atom bomb is a good deterrent. Well, DOH! Yet the USA has bought the idea that Iran ONLY wants a bomb in order to attack Israel (or us).

That would presume the Iranian leaders are suicidally deranged. If Iran struck first they’d be wiped out. We know that; they know that. Yet we actually think they’re so irrational they’d die for a chance – one chance – to strike at Israel. (I have to ask: who’s the irrational one, them or us?)

Even the former Israeli Intelligence chief Meir Dagan told CBS news, “The regime in Iran is a very rational one.” Other analysts agree with him. True, Ahmadinejad can’t resist mouthing off, but he’s a pretty shrewd cookie otherwise. He and the ayatollahs are experienced politicians who want to survive, not get blasted into radioactive dust.

What’s more, Iran is the only Shi’a Islamic Republic in the world. The Iranian leaders love their country. They believe in it with all their souls. They’ve worked for it, for decades. To engineer its destruction would be unthinkable. So even if they had this mythical bomb, would they use it on a first strike? Not on your nelly.

Some people say Iran might give a bomb to terrorist groups. No, they wouldn’t. COULDN’T. Firstly, they know if the terrorists used it, the US has the capacity to trace the source of fissile material – straight back to Iran. It’s like fingerprints you can’t wipe off.

Secondly, supposing they managed to make a bomb, why would they let it out of their control? If you had one six-shooter with which you were holding off a whole gang that doesn’t like you, would you give the gun to some hothead who’d start blasting away and bring the whole mob down on you? NIX.

Yeah, but Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the map.” Yawn. I’ve heard this so often I’m getting bored. It isn’t even true. It’s an Israeli plant, done through a translation agency. Our own intelligence services have examined Ahmadinejad’s speeches and found he NEVER said he wanted “Israel wiped off the map,” but rather something like “The regime in Jerusalem is bound to disappear from the pages of history.” We know this. Netanyahu knows this. If our Congress critters don’t know this they need to go back to school.

Obama has consistently said, “We won’t let Iran get a bomb.” Romney, however, has been more hawkish. He alternates between saying Iran can’t have a bomb, and that they can’t have the capacity to get a bomb. This is dangerous to us, because “capacity” is such a fluid word. Who defines it? We could agree and Israel might decide tomorrow that Iran’s “capacity” has made a preemptive strike necessary. Romney also said he “respects Israel’s right to bomb Iran.” Feel unsafe. Feel very unsafe.

What if Romney let Israel play Dr. Strangelove and bomb, bomb, bomb Iran? In March of this year, the Pentagon predicted, “An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely draw the United States into a wider regional war in which hundreds of American forces could be killed. The commonest word used by World leaders to describe a US-Iran war is “disastrous.” You think the economy’s bad now, wait and see what happens to the price of oil with Iran off the market.

Israel loves to say they have the right to defend themselves. Frankly, I think the USA also has a right to defend itself, which in this case would mean telling Israel where to shove their belligerence, and not letting them goad us into another unnecessary war.

In 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke of the need not for naval ships but for “a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security – diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development.” Remember, this is a guy who knows how to make war, knows the cost in lives, and on balance would rather we solved problems like civilized people rather than send him to war again.

Tea Party people, listen up! Want to cut the budget? A Quaker group, the Friends Committee for National Legislation, FCNL, has published research that shows the cost of war is 60 times as expensive as preventing wars in the first place. Unfortunately, Republicans have already cut the budget for various peace/diplomatic programs, and if they don’t see an immediate use for intelligence they’re likely to cut that, too. You need to vote for Congress critters who’ll restore those programs. And tell ‘em to come off Netanyahu’s Kool-Aid.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Cathy…One does not read Reuters for Israel’s intelligence capabilities. They are second to none. Our administration’s cover-up and the Obamanesia of the Benghazi tragedy confirms my belief that Rice, Clinton, and Obama are all liars for a political narrative that puts our own intelligence communities in question. Read my blog at if you don’t understand the mindset of Iran’s leader and Holocaust-denier in hastening the coming of the twelfth Imam.

    • ARW

      thanks Ed, you are right on!!

    • Henry

      Neither you nor anyone except the leaders of the Israeli government know what intelligence Mossad finds. The Israelis tell us just what they want us to know; perhaps it’s accurate intell, perhaps it’s fiction. We are so mesmerized by the reputation of Mossad that we swallow all of it whole. Actually Mossad recently looked rather foolish when eleven of their agents were photographed in the lobby of a Dubai hotel on their way to assisinate al Mabhouh. The pictures of these agents are now on file. So much for the myth.
      Understanding Iran is about understanding its geo-political history, not knowing which religious leader poisioned which preceding leader. You need to understand Operation Ajax, the role of Aramco, the disposal of Mosadegh and the imposition of our dear friend the Shah with his muredrous SAVAK. Then perhaps you will have an inkling about just why we aren’t real popular there.

      As to the Benghazi tragedy: protection of foreign embassies is the responsibility of the host country. Posting a platoon of of Marines in every consulate we have abroad would not likely be approved by the host country through which such a group would have to pass. (Assuming that congress would appropriate the momey.)Then, if the consulate were swarmed by locals, whether Al Quaida or not, many would be killed before the Marines and the consular staff were overrun and murdered. Great diplomacy right?
      This whole Benghazi incident is kept at the forefromt by politics. We have six times as many dead from contaminated spinal injections manufactured by some rump compounding outfit operating without the oversight of the FDA. Is it because the FDA was given inadequate funds to do the job or is it bacause of the right wing’s knee-jerk response to any regulation that might cut into the profit of the regulated? Whichever it is you see no great rush to find out by a republican controlled congress. Perhaps there would be no politiacl advantage in investigating the screw-ip here…or maybe some lives are just worth a lot more that others.

      • Cathy stripe Lester

        Thanks Henry, you have some good points. And I agree that de-funding the regulators who are supposed to oversee public safety is a far greater threat to American citizens than Iran’s nonexistent nuke.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Ed, Reuters doesn’t investigate. Reuters REPORTS what Israeli and US intelligence have both ADMITTED: that Iran doesn’t have a bomb and doesn’t have a program to make one. Even the Israeli Defence Minister, Edud Barak (big hawk, by the way) admitted as much to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Barak went on to explain that the real danger is allowing Iran to “enter a zone of immunity” wherein it can DETER an Israeli or US attack. Prof. Waltz did say Iran might feel safer if they could deter us from attacking, right? And Barak has just said Israel doesn’t want to be deterred. Now, considering how the experts say a war with Iran would be a disaster, just how much of a friend is Israel, trying to drag us into one?

      I know about Ahmadinejad and the “Twelvers.” However, Ahmadinejad isn’t the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei is. And Ahmadinejad is a lame-duck President anyway. In the last Parliamentary election his party lost big time, and Ahmadinejad’s term ends in June. Frankly, he doesn’t have time or support to conquer the world now. Besides, I stand by my own analysis that Iranian leaders, if they care about Shi’a Islam, are not going to do anything hotheaded which would bring about the destruction of the world’s only Shi’a Islamic Republic.

      Benghazi: Remember on 9-11 day, how nobody quite knew who was behind the attacks and thee were all sorts of contradictory rumors? We suspected it might be Al-Qaeda, but all the officials were very, very careful not to say so at first. In Benghazi, the terrorists took good care to disguise their attack as being a “spontaneous” protest about that movie. So it’s not surprising that many people thought it was about the movie. It’s very unclear as to who exactly knew what, and when they knew it.

      Why do you think the President would want to lie to Americans, if he really knew it was terrorists? Saying, “It was terrorists!” right away would be a very popular statement, so why try to hide it, if he really knew it? Or do you prefer a President who would shoot his mouth off without knowing for sure? In that case you should be a fan of Ahmadinejad! :) )

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Cathy…I agree that Khamenei is the real power in Iran and that there is a great deal of friction between him and lame duck Ahmadinejad. However when Khamenei announced at the end of August that Iran has never wanted nuclear weapons (he even called nuclear weapons an “unforgiveable sin”), but maintained that the country would never give up its right to use nuclear technology, one only has to look at the fruits of the leadership of this man and his minions. He’s a snake in the grass and I don’t believe for one minute what he says. Meanwhile, the centrifuges keep spinning.

  • ARW

    You can put your head in the sand and pretend that you can negotiate with Iran. That they are only using nuclear for peaceful purposes. That they will not attack Israel and try to wipe them off the map. . The only person repeating a sad and ridiculous postion, are liberals like yourself. I pray that Romney is elected and that this Obama, liberal nonsense ends! It is bad for America.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      ARW, what makes you think we can’t negotiate with Iran? When I lived there I saw that you can haggle with almost any Iranian over almost anything. Besides which, they’ve already suggest we negotiate, several times. You might not have noticed, because it usually wasn’t reported on the US media. There have even been a couple serious proposals for Iran to stop enriching if we or some other country would supply their nuclear reactors, and each time it hasn’t been Iran who’s vetoed the idea, it’s been the USA.

      Several times talks have broken down because the USA has insisted they AGREE to our demands BEFORE talks began. Like, is that what talks are supposed to be about? It’s hypocritical to offer to talk and then make the conditions such that talks are bound to fail, and THEN blame the other side. It’s people who’ve swallowed everything Israel says who are the ones with their heads in the sand.

      I love America and it kills me when those reckless war hawks in Israel put our country in a position where we have to act like hypocrites in order to stay Israel’s friend.

      • Henry

        Nice to see a rational response from someone whose experience can speak for itself. No need for talking points when you know what you’re talking about!

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Thanks, John! I appreciate it!

  • Bob

    CSL it is nice to see that you and Mr. Buchanan agree that Iran can be brought to the table in a meaningful way. Failing to vote for him has become one of the regrets of my life.|newswell|text|Opinion|s

    The DPRK and the Pakis have both been willing to sell nuke tech in the past so hiding behind the “they have no weapons development program” seems a little pointless to me.
    For myself I see many flaws in Mr. Romney, but in contrast to President Obama it is an easy choice. I just look among my own family and friends and see the impact of long term high unemployment, and look at the growing national debt from president Obama and those flaws are overwhelmed. In the third debate Mr. Romney stated quite plainly that he seeks peace not war and that we will achieve that through strength.

    You use the term Shi’a Islamic Republic for what is clearly a Shi’a Theocracy. The crushing of the Green Movement put lie to any notion of Republic in Iran.

    For myself I would hope that here in the US is where we should focus on restoring the republic and turning back from the path of incompetent empire that we have been on.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Bob, thanks for bringing Pat Buchanan’s article to my notice. I don’t always see eye to eye with him, but sometimes he hits the nail right on the head! I’d recommend your link to any conservatives who don’t want to believe liberal little Lester.

      Funny that some people blame Obama for unemployment, when Romney and his cozy bedfellow CEOs were the ones who sent all the jobs to China, Mexico, South Korea, India, etc., etc.

      Incidentally, which version of Romney are you listening to? The one who acted so peaceful in the debate, or the one that earlier said he “respects Israel’s right to bomb Iran” and sneered at diplomacy? “Peace through strength”? Fine. But we’ve worked on the strength exclusively — Congress has actually CUT FUNDING for peace. Under Romney, and especially under a GOP Congress, Peace is a dead dove.

      • Bob

        We have very different views of how the world works when you say “CUT FUNDING for peace” my mind jumps to Kipling’s Dane-Geld:

        I’m not sure how it can be both “you didn’t build that” and all the fault of evil CEO’s with no responsibility shared by the current administration.

        I don’t see you excoriating Clinton triangulation, though yes I do see it as one of those flaws I mentioned I am willing to overlook given his contrast with President Obama.

        Convincing people that Mr. Romney is a Country Club/NeoCon and dangerous is the only hope President Obama has given his record, but it doesn’t wash. Romney is right in saying that the President better serves the Nation by meeting with the elected Israeli leader when he is in the US than campaigning on The View. To take that as handing our National policy over to Tel Aviv or the Israeli lobby is a bridge to far. Working to close the exemptions to the trade restrictions to increase the pressure along with leaving them an honorable path to climb down is the right way to go (finding that path will not be easy).
        President Obama’s tepid “I’m the president and I’m always responsible” is not an answer to the question, who made the decision not to provide the requested enhanced security. He knows the answer and should say it and either explain why that was a mistake and how he will hold himself and his personnel accountable for that, or why it was the right decision and that he supported that decision irrespective of the tragic result (the world is a dangerous place and we must make our best judgment and live with the consequences). He could even get away withholding the name as long as he provides the explanation that would be a principled approach even his most ardent detractors would have to respect. That he is being allowed to walk away from this without being held to account by the news media is shameful.

        Henry, the host nation certainly holds a duty of protection, but responsibly is another thing altogether and tracks back directly to the President. He needs to answer for the decision anything less is unconscionable.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    In a recent NY Times article, in late August of this year international nuclear inspectors reported that Iran had already installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges it needs to complete a deep-underground site for the production of nuclear fuel.

    The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed how Iran used the summer to double the number of centrifuges installed deep under a mountain near the holy city of Qum, while cleansing another site where the agency has said it suspects that the country has conducted explosive experiments that could be “relevant” to the production of a nuclear weapon.

    In the third debate, Obama denied that any negotiations were going to take place with Iran. That, despite the Times claim to the contrary.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Ed, If Israel tries to bomb the facility near Qom, it’s bound to make things worse, not better. In the first place, if the facility is “deep under a mountain,” the chances of taking it out are minimal. Second, the chances are very great that there’d be collateral damage. As Qom is the most holy city in Iran, and one of the centers of Shi’a Islam, Shi’as all over the world would be outraged. They’d take it out on the USA, partly because they’d blame us for letting Israel carry out their attack, and partly just because we’re a bigger, easier-to-hit target.

      I was confused when Obama said there aren’t any plans to negotiate with Iran, because I’d seen the NY Times article too. Looking back on it, I noticed it says we’ve agreed IN PRINCIPLE that we should talk, but after the election.

      I stick to my assertion that the way to go forward is to sheathe the sabers and get ourselves to the bargaining table.

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Cathy…So you do admit that Iran’s goal is a nuclear weapon…my point all along.

        • Cathy Stripe Lester

          Ed, I don’t see that at all. I said an attack on Qom would enrage Shi’as all over the world, and they’d try to get back at us. That isn’t saying they’re getting a nuke. There are lots of ways Shi’as in other countries could hit us without having nukes.

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            Cathy…In reading your post, you indicate that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon. Yet, in late August the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed how Iran used the summer to double the number of centrifuges installed deep under a mountain near the holy city of Qum.

            Then you wrote that if Israel tries to bomb the facility near Qom, it’s bound to make things worse, not better…and that would cause collateral damage.

            You sound like a politician, trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, you clearly imply that Iran isn’t pursuing a nuclear weapon, despite the report of the IAEA. But then, on the other hand, you maintain that if Israel bombs Qum that would make matters worse. Why would Israel bomb Qum unless it agreed with the IAEA and has its own intelligence and that of the US?

            The one argument that you make in your original post that DOES make sense is that Iran would be committing suicide to use nuclear weapons on any country. Armageddon would surely follow. I do suspect that both Obama and Romney will seek negotiations. I still don’t trust Khomeini. Why would he allow Ahmadinejad to mouth off for so long?

          • Sam Tamp

            Ed, you are wasting your breath on this women. She is a code pink type.

  • Sam Tamp

    The only kool-aid drinker in this group is Lester. Obama is a liar (and so is Lester) and they are both all in for a nuclear Iran. End of story! The issue at hand is this: If Romney is elected (which he will be) what actions will Romney take against Iran?

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