Saturday, November 8, 2008


It is curious that in the last few days before president-elect Obama's news conference and his statements on Iran, two high-ranking officials from Israel thought it necessary to come out and warn Obama about establishing talks with Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Foreign Minister Tzipy Livni offered that Obama's acceptance of talks with Iran would show "weakness."

"US President-elect Barack Obama should not talk to Iran just yet, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday, warning that such dialogue could project "weakness."
"We need to fight extremism," Livni said as she stood next to visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a joint press conference in the home of the American ambassador to Israel.. "We need to continue the pressure on Iran and I believe that the idea of continuing the pressure comes with more intense and effective sanctions on the Iranians."
Although she described Obama's election as "a source of inspiration to millions around the world," and congratulated him on his "historic victory," her comments marked a first sign of disagreement with the incoming American administration. Obama has stated a willingness to talk to Iran about its nuclear program without condition, telling The Jerusalem Post in July that he would engage "in tough, direct talks" with Teheran."

And Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it would allow Iran to continue to develop nuclear weapons behind the pretense of engaging in diplomatic talks. Tovah Lazaroff reports for The Jerusalem Post:

"Israel is not ruling out any option when it comes to dealing with Iran's nuclear program, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday.

"Following a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem, Barak said he told her that Israel is "not taking any option off the table, and we don't recommend that others take any option off the table," stressing, "We mean what we say."

"Barak insisted that Iran was continuing to "trick the world" in negotiations over the monitoring of its nuclear activities. "

The question is why we are getting all of these anti-Iranian statements from Israeli officials at this time.

I though that Barack Obama's statement on Iran at his news conference was bellicose enough with the push of the Israelis. Obama said he would never allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, and that furthermore, Iran should stop giving aid to "terrorists."

By "terrorists," I assume Obama meant Hezbollah in Lebanon. If so, Obama is no better than George W. Bush in a simplistic approach to Hezbollah and the Shiite Muslims spread throughout the Middle East. Israel calls Hezbollah a terrorist group, so does the United States. But it is not clear that Hezbollah is anything more than a political entity infused with Shiite Islam that fights against Israel for land and civil rights. In other words, Hezbollah is an insurgency against the Israelis.

And as far as Iran's approach to nuclear weapons, Iranian leaders claim they have no desire to make nuclear weapons, and certainly, the IAEA has found no evidence to the contrary. All statements by Israel and Bush about Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is based on supposition and conjecture.

The question then is, would Obama allow Israel to attack Iran on the basis of conjecture? Obama's statements don't seem to reassure me on this important question.

No comments:

Post a Comment