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View Diary: Khatami is In--This is a Clear Signal (309 comments)

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  •  Holy Shit! (80+ / 0-)

    I don't know of anybody who called this!

    This guy is the very moderate dude who was Pres when Bush labeled them in the Axis of Evil.  He was fighting the fundies like crazy (to minimal effect) and this reinstatement following our repudiation of our fundies has to be a real wide opening for diplomacy.

    Cheney is pissing his pants.

    Bush is probably drunk.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

    by nailbender on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:05:03 PM PST

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    •  In relation to this item of 9 months ago, (31+ / 0-)

      this is doubly surprising:

      Former Iranian president Mohamad Khatami was under fire from hardliners on Monday after comments interpreted as accusing the country's clerical leaders of supporting insurgents in the Middle East.

      The hardline Kayhan newspaper accused the reformist Khatami of tarnishing the Islamic republic's reputation by implying it was carrying out "sabotage" work in other countries through insurgent groups.

      In his speech, Khatami referred to the ambition of Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to export the 1979 Islamic revolution around the world, but expressed fear this wish was being distorted.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

      by nailbender on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:17:47 PM PST

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    •  did khatami learn his lesson? (14+ / 0-)

      khatami's prior reform agenda failed almost completely because he allowed his allies to lash out against hashemi rafsanjani, who in turn refused to support any reform bill ever passed by the reform-dominated majles. if khatami can keep his supporters from trashing rafsanjani, then iran might very well change dramatically if khatami gets elected.

      for those of you unfamiliar with the iranian political system, it operates in layers. the bottom layer is the democratic institutions, which includes the legislature and the executive (but not the judiciary). the upper layer is what's called the revolutionary/undemocratic institutions. key among these are the supreme leader's office, the judiciary, the assembly of experts, the guardian council and the expediency council. the democratic institutions pass bills, but the revolutionary council decides what becomes law. thus, the iranian system is a hybrid democracy/dictatorship.

      if khatami can get the majles to pass a reform bill, it will then be sent to the guardian council for approval. the guardian council will reject it, and then the majles will resubmit it. the political logjam will result in the bill being sent to the expediency council, which ultimately has the final word. the expediency council is chaired by ransanjani, who is very influential, not very ideological, and fairly pragmatic and moderate by iranian standards. thus, if khatami can court him, he will be an invaluable asset to reform.

      the main obstacle to reform will be the batshit-crazy ayatollah ahmad jannati, who chairs the guardian council and sits on just about every other political council in iran as well. most all the other power brokers are pliable.

      •  to me Iran's system (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, grrr, elwior, scotths

        is relatively similar to quasi-democratic monarchies we've seen in western history where most power was held by the monarch. Only, in this case, the monarchy is an outright member of the clergy as opposed to being the clergy's titular head.

        Sure there is SOME democracy, but of a highly qualified sort. The ayatollahs still call the shots. All REAL power - meaning the power to jail, kill, and go to war - is held by them .  How do we deal with these thugs when they are the real one's in control?  

        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

        by Benito on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 06:42:53 AM PST

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    •  Nuclear Problems (6+ / 0-)

      Just a splash of cold water -- You may be right about Khatami coming in, maybe. On the other hand, it could be a smart move designed to show that Iran has a vibrant democracy and not necessarily clear that Khatami will win.

      Plus, it doesn't solve the nuclear question. Iran will not cease its uranium enrichment at this point. A Khatami victory would remove the justification for a hard line against Iran -- there won't be military strikes, etc. -- but it won't resolve the underlying issue and may make it much more difficult to resolve.

      The probable settlement would be to allow Iranian enrichment to continue under IAEA inspection. That may sound well and good, but it leaves Iran with an enormous capacity to make nuclear weapons in the future. That is, if hard-liners return after one Khatami term, Iran would then have the easy capacity to withdraw from international controls and start churning out H-bombs.

      That's a pretty fearsome possibility and I don't see how this development alleviates it in any way.

      •  I thought of this as well (0+ / 0-)

        In the end, I guess it all depends on what the ayatollahs genuinely want.

        Revenge is best served by running up the score.

        by breaker1nine on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 06:32:52 AM PST

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      •  vibrant (0+ / 0-)

        Very funny. Make no mistake, the clerical establishment is still in control.

        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

        by Benito on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 06:45:50 AM PST

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      •  We don't expect Iran to give up its nuclear (8+ / 0-)

        program.  It's not the primary issue it's made out to be. Tehran's political message is directed more at Israel than to the U.S.  It's Israel that needs to come to grips with the fact that Iran's nuclear capability is a fait accompli.  That much has already been accepted in Washington.

        The status quo is that Iran and Israel effectively already deter each other in the region, with the U.S. making a big show on the sidelines of appearing to support every irrational excess committed by the Israeli military while we pretend to dispair for the seeming inability of Jerusalem to reign in the hard-right settlers base.  

        That's about to change. Soon. Our rhetoric will come to reflect a greater degree of realism when Natanyahu is elected, as he most likely will be.  At that time it will be made clear that the U.S. has enormous leverage over Israel.  If Israel really did anything we couldn't live with, all we need do is just close the discount window at the NY Federal Reserve to Israeli banks.  There are much sterner steps that could follow.

        The problem is that the Israelis are so profoundly divided that anything we do publicly and directly may well cause the extremists to dig in their heels deeper.  We don't want to undermine Livni's election chances by appearing to take her side.

        Regardless of who wins the Israeli election, it's really up to the next Prime Minister to drag the hard-liners in the coalition gov't that will have to be formed into the shadow diplomacy that's been ongoing for many months.
         

        •  You're spouting the Iranian line (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Akonitum

          No, Israel and Iran do not "deter" one another. The radical Islamicists would gladly accept a nuclear exchange on the premise that they all become instant "martyrs." The clerics in Iran have said as much. Deterrence is not a framework applicable to that situation.

          And Israel is not the sole, or even the chief target of Iranian nuclear capability. The Saudis are much more concerned about Iranian nukes than Israel. It is well understood that Iranian nuclear weapons would drive the Saudis, and probably the Turks to also acquire nuclear weapons. It's just not at all an Israel-Iran standoff.

          The Pakistanis, who are Sunni, would also be displeased, as Iranian nuclear weapons would make the denuclearization of Pakistan and India impossible.

          Nobody wants Iranian nuclear weapons and it will continue to be a major issue if Iran stays on course.

          •  It's nobody's line. It's the underlying (13+ / 0-)

            dynamic behind US-Israeli-Iranian relations: a rational three-way strategic deterrence, which is the status quo.

            The current regime in Tehran does not publicly acknowledge this.  I would be interested in seeing something, anything, from Tehran that says the U.S. effectively plays a deterrent role that restrains Israel.  That would be a remarkable admission.

            As for the myth of Iranian irrationality and wish for matyrdom, they certainly had their chance to respond to repeated U.S., Britain, and Israel provocations two summers ago.  Instead, they were remarkably restrained and showed the central government does have effective command and control over the al Quuds Brigades of the IRG.

            As for nuclear weapons, they are unusable by any party except as a deterrent - Iran's large stockpiles of chemical and (possibly biological) agents serve the same purpose.  Also, Iran has sufficient conventional military power, even without pushing that button, to damage western economies by stopping tanker shipping through the Straits.  Geography and anti-shipping missiles are probably their ace in the deck.

            You are right, however, to point out the complexity added by the Saudis and Turks.  Call it five-way deterrence, which is exactly the pragmatic basis for the Grand Compromise sort of diplomacy that is now taking place.  

            •  well put. (6+ / 0-)

              All I'd add is that the Iranian fundamentalists (typified by Ahmedinejad) seem to be getting sidlined by the clerics.  This bodes well, but the biggest threat I see on the horizon is a Likud win leading to an attack on Iran's nuclear program, putting the fundies back in the driver's seat.

              "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

              by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:55:23 AM PST

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              •  Some of the seeming irrationality on (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dqueue, nailbender, KenBee, FrankCornish

                the part of Israel is bluff.  They have the military capability to destroy some of Iran's program, but not all.  Such an attack would greatly increase the probability that Iran would eventually use the bomb when it gets it, even if that can be delayed several decades.

                Netanyahu is an unattractive candidate, except that he has the potential to be another Begin.  Only Nixon could go to China and negotiate SALT.

                •  Begin never accomplished what (5+ / 0-)

                  Rabin was poised to do just before he was assassinated by a Likud-inspired asshole.  And I'll never forget Netanyahu's expression of glee at that atrocity.  It was he, after all, who gained the most from it.

                  Begin was to Israel as Arafat was to Palestine, IMO.  Failed leaders both.  I don't see Netanyahu approaching even that low bar.

                  "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                  by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:34:29 AM PST

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                  •  Perhaps I'm too generous in my (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Odysseus, dqueue, nailbender, KenBee

                    faint praise.  

                    But, there's one reason to be optimistic.  No matter how obstructionist the bluster -- today Natnyahu reaffirmed his intention to resist being "pushed around" by Obama http://www.bloomberg.com/... -- they've got to understand that there is a point beyond which they cannot go, and even that very high bar has been significantly lowered by the new Administration in Washington.

                    Whoever takes over in Jerusalem has few real political options or ability to spring military surprises.  Even Bibi isn't suicidal.

          •  This is a profoundly inaccurate view. (12+ / 0-)

            Iran is a political theocracy like Byzantium, not a horde of suicidal maniacs who would accept the end of their civilization just to get Israel.  The central leadership will not stop some clerics from blustering to that effect, but it simply wouldn't happen.  Old men with power never deliberately accept their own destruction, whatever they claim to believe about afterlife.  The Ayatollah was nervous even about the shit Ahmadinejad was spouting.  It's important to understand Iran isn't just an Islamic state, it's also heir to Persia.

            Moreover, it's important not to overestimate the significance of merely having the weapons.  Iran's missiles are a joke, Israel has the most advanced anti-missile system in the world, and Iran just doesn't have the capability to make anything more complex than low-yield Manhattan Project bombs.  It's also questionable how many they could make, how reliable they would be, and at what rate.  They also couldn't protect their launchers from disabling first strikes.  All they would get is a notional deterrent, and not even a very good one.

            I believe you have my stapler.

            by Troubadour on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:08:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  and regardless of who wins the Iranian election (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leveymg, skrekk, KenBee, FrankCornish, Johnny Q

          it's up to the Assembly of Experts to determine how much latitude the winner will receive.  Their recent appointment of Rasenjani to head their council is a good sign to be sure, especially as he will then have the power to sideline Jannati.

          However, if the Likud takes the reins in Israel (as it appears destined to do), then Khatami's chances diminish, as Netenyahu's increased when Obama won.  It's unfortunate that the Israeli election comes first.

          Still, the Iranians, as I noted above, seem to be less paranoid than one would expect, especially given their recently being assailed by the world's preeminent superpower.  Can you imagine, for instance, a popular Israeli soap opera based on a love affair between and Israeli man and a Muslim woman who is being persecuted for her religion, to compare with Zero Degree Turn?

          Here's another interesting Iranian story from this morning's Morning Edition.  Persian culture, in some ways, still supersedes Islam.

          "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

          by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:41:54 AM PST

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      •  More critical than Iranian domestic politics, (5+ / 0-)

        related to their possible development of a nuke, is the level of threat they perceive from the West (Israel being included in that group).

        The fundies, after all, were driven to power by the Bushists' idiotic demonization of their country which was, at the time, acting much more rationally than it had since the revolution.

        And Iran's claim to have every right to develop nuclear power, based on the NPT they and the US both signed, is rock solid.

        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

        by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:51:22 AM PST

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        •  Nuclear Power is NOT Enrichment (0+ / 0-)

          The fundamental lie employed by the Iranians is that nuclear power requires them to operate 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. No one would object if Iran wanted nuclear reactors with agreements to export the spent fuel. On the other hand, the NPT does NOT give them the right to operate enrichment plants. It's rather obvious that 1their insistence on enrichment capability relates to their desire for weapons capability.

          Be real please.

          •  You haven't read the NPT. (4+ / 0-)

            Article 4.1:

            Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.

            Emphasis mine - to illustrate the fact that the current sanctions are politically based, and have no basis in the treaty.  Russian negotiators have admitted as much.  Many other non-weapon NPT signatories do their own enrichment as well, but only Iran is singled out for special sanctions.

            The issue isn't centrifuge count per se, but enrichment yield.  Iran's technology allows 3-4% with the 3,000 - 5,000 operational centrifuges they currently have.  They'd need far more with that technology to reach the 90%+ range they'd need for a nuke.  So far the IAEA has found no evidence of enrichment greater than reactor grade.

            Dubya's legacy: 25 million really pissed Iraqis...50 million shoes

            by skrekk on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 02:16:24 PM PST

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            •  You are incorrect (0+ / 0-)

              Enrichment is not "research, production or use of nuclear energy." It falls in a separate category of production of fissionable material, which is a gray area under NPT. Because it is a gray area, Mohammed El Baradei called for a ban on ALL new enrichment facilities in all countries. He withdrew that demand only under US pressure.

              "Many" non-signatory and non-weapons states do not do their own enrichment. In fact the only recent examples are Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and Argentina, possibly Australia. Others that were on the list abandoned their programs -- South Africa, Libya, Iraq, North Korea, all because of weapons concerns.

              It is highly controversial and by no means is there any recognized right to enrich uranium.

              •  And you would be wrong; that's exactly what (3+ / 0-)

                enrichment is.  Read article 3 - essentially it says that if a state receives or develops technology to process or produce fuel for civilian purposes, it has to allow inspections.  That's the bargain non-weapon states make in order to agree not to develop a weapon: they gain access to the technology and legal cover to have a civilian program.  Further, the US is obligated by the terms of the treaty to help states like Iran in the development of their civilian program (as we did under the Shah).

                Article 4 (and its references to articles 2 & 3) was inserted in order to get the West German government to consent to the treaty.  I'd suggest doing your own research on Willy Brandt's role in getting Germany to agree to sign the NPT (since they already had enrichment facilities).  Further, what's not otherwise prohibited under the treaty is permitted, thus weapons-grade enrichment is explicitly prohibited, low-grade is not.

                That enrichment is, as you say, "controversial" amongst those who have weapons or amongst anti-proliferation groups has no bearing on international law.  The simple fact is that if the US continues to push on this issue, Iran will  withdraw from the treaty - as well they should.

                Dubya's legacy: 25 million really pissed Iraqis...50 million shoes

                by skrekk on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 05:02:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  thanks. saved me the typing. nt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skrekk

              "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

              by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:11:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Please cite a single example where the IAEA (0+ / 0-)

            has stated a concern about the fact that Iran does low-grade enrichment.  In all cases, the concerns have been regarding Iran's withdrawal from the optional Additional Protocol (but only after sanctions were imposed), some high-level contamination (pdf), possible diversion for military use and related issues.  In no case is the IAEA concerned about civilian grade enhancement itself.  Monitoring the distinction between weapons-grade and civilian-grade U-235 is the reason the IAEA exists.

            As an inspector and someone well versed with the flaws of the NPT, ElBaradei of course has concerns about the implementation of the treaty, but he has said this:

            Iran is very keen to see an affirmation of its right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nobody is questioning this right, what is at stake is confidence-building.

            Dubya's legacy: 25 million really pissed Iraqis...50 million shoes

            by skrekk on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:52:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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