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You remember Kyl-Lieberman, right? It became a big issue in the primary because Hillary Clinton supported it. She took lots of heat primarily because it classified Iran's Revolutionary Guard as an international terrorist organization. This week, after McCain criticized Obama for opposing the measure, Obama said he opposed it because of its implications for the war in Iraq, not because of its language on the Revolutionary Guard.

The right-wing press is accusing Obama of flip-flopping, but this, in fact, has been Obama's position all along, or at least since he finally clarified his position. He was wrong then, and he's wrong now.

Here's Obama, in yesteday's speech.

And we should work with Europe, Japan and the Gulf states to find every avenue outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime - from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran, to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.

What was wrong with designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization? It's obvious, no? Jim Webb put it quite well.

Webb said that amendment’s attempt to categorize the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp as “a foreign terrorist organization” would, for all practical purposes, “mandate” the military option against Iran. “It could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war. What do we do with terrorist organizations? If they are involved against us, we attack them.”

Shakes put it even better:

It's exactly this kind of asinine, belligerent posturing that empowers the Iranian mullahs and makes life eminently more difficult for moderate Iranian reformers who don't support the mullahs and who don't support Ahmadinejad and who also don't want to fight a war with America.

Let me add a couple of final points. This kind of measure undermines the kind of diplomacy with Iran that Obama supports. And to call the soldiers of a nation terrorists is to broaden the definition of terrorism to the point that it ceases to have meaning. Or, to the point where it means whatever we want it to mean. This measure essentially redefined terrorism to mean "our enemies." We know from Orwell that such despoiling of language leads to troubling political consequences.

This is an awful position. (Like a lot of other people, I missed the moment in the fall when he took it.). Please don't give me any nonsense about pragmatism; he didn't have to take this saber-rattling position to win.

Speak up, progressives.

Originally posted to david mizner on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  no. I disagree. (6+ / 0-)

      Have you ever considered that the animosity towards the US and israel may be fact based, and steam in a pretty nasty history?

      I have yet to see one example of even-handed reporting on what the US has done to Iraq since the 1950s. The same applies to Iran. They hate us for a freedoms? What a load of bullshit and worse. They hate us because we have for two generations, undermined their nations, invaded, attacked, economically sanctioned, and otherwise damaged their people, their future, their economies, and their day to day lives.

      Can any person reasonably say that the Iraq of today is better off today than when our former puppet, Saddam Hussein, was in charge?
      Can any person reasonably say that our fomenting revolution, deposing a democratic leader,  and installing the Shah made Iran a better place, a safer place, a more internationally secure partners?
      Or that our cold war against Iran since their counter-revolution has had  any positive impact?

      No, instead, we blindly turn away from illegal use of cluster-fuck bombs by Israel, supplied by us, used in violation of US and international law, and re-supplied by us after they ran out. We call anyone who disagrees with Israel's inhuman and ultimately self-destructive enslavement of the palestinian people as a potential threat, and we call their own leaders of independence terrorists.  

      Yeah, real smart policy. It has worked so well. Israel is slowly eroding as a democratic nation, it being at odds with itself about these very same, destructive and bloody policies. Israel had ample opportunity to make peace, only to replace it with piece - a piece of gaza here, a piece of west bank there, a piece of Golan here, and some more muslim sites in Jerusalem there.
      I am not saying that Israel alone has bloody, dirty hands, for it is obvious that it is not alone. The missile attacks are unforgivable, the bombs, murderous.

      But who has (and uses) the jet planes and tanks on a destitute enslaved population with abandon, then claim that they are the wronged party?

      The place to start is precisely with iran. Start a dialogue now, not never. Come to terms about disarming the whole region, INCLUDING israeli nukes.

      Kyl Lieberman could have been drafted (and probably was) by our own version of a terrorist group - AIPAC. It is a bad bill, and should not see the light of day.

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:03:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mizner's troubling position on Obama------ (0+ / 0-)

      ----isn't it time to stop the anti-Obama campaign?

  •  This is a bad diary. Unsubstantiated. (8+ / 0-)

    Not only does it not have any actual quotes from Obama, but it then links to other blogs that themselves have only snippets and characterization.

    Indeed, Webbb is talking about Kyl Lieberman and Obama doesn't support Kyl Lieberman.  

    For something that's supposed to be about Obama's stands, there's no stands of Obama actually related in either the diary or the links.

    Your own characterizations are ten steps removed.

    This is the moment. This is the time.

    by Inland on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:52:38 AM PDT

  •  sorry, this is crap. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Statusquomustgo

    http://politicz.wordpress.com/

    by GlowNZ on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:55:45 AM PDT

  •  Webb isn't necessarily right on this one. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic

    of course, bushcheney likes to read support for their wars into a lot of things congress says. The repubs then use it to spatter the blame on the democrats as well, but if he used such a vote to go to war, it would be illegal no matter what webb says about it 'mandating' anything.

  •  Given that we've argued a lot here, David... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostbite, DBunn, david mizner, Hens Teeth

    ...it may shock you to learn that I agree with you fully here.

    For the benefit of others, here's the item from last fall that David links to:

    Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Obama supports designating the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

    He objects, Burton said, to another passage of the resolution, which finds that:

    The manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of ... Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region...

    I love many things about Obama, and I'm pleased he's our candidate.

    But I've been frustrated by his relative weakness on Iraq.  Actually, I thought the same of Hillary Clinton and the candidate I supported originally, John Edwards.   Too much Beltway caution and triangulating, when we need not only decisive action to undo the damage of the last eight years, but a whole new frame for discussing what America does abroad.  

    I look forward to pushing President Obama hard on this issue, and on issues of economic populism, health care, etc.  

    On the sunnier side, we might just have a President who will listen this time...

    JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

    by chumley on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:56:56 AM PDT

    •  To clarify, this is the position David Mizner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david mizner

      ...is criticizing here:

      Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Obama supports designating the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

      Would help to have it in the diary, I think.

      JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

      by chumley on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:58:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well said, Chumley (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chumley

      although I think you meant weakness on iran, not iraq.

      And to be clear. I like a lot of things about Obama too, some of which I discussed yesterday.

      This is one thing I don't like.

    •  About that new frame (0+ / 0-)

      ... when we need not only decisive action to undo the damage of the last eight years, but a whole new frame for discussing what America does abroad.

       
      Relevant Obama quote (paraphrased)--

      "I don't just want to end the war in Iraq, I want to change the mindset that got us into the war in the first place."

      To me, this quote shows that Obama is aware of the need for a new frame for US foreign policy, one that is suitable for 21st century realities. However, that frame does not yet exist in the public mind. Instead, we struggle along with an old frame, based on a set of inherited assumptions about US wealth, economic power, moral leadership, military dominance, etc. Our reliance on this old frame is literally killing us.

      A fair question is whether Obama should try to introduce a radical new frame for American foreign policy as part of this year's election campaign. IMHO, he should not. It's too big a topic, it requires too much information that the public does not yet know, and needs too much time for people to absorb it and adjust to it. In the period after such a new frame is introduced, but before it is fully understood and accepted, Obama would be vulnerable to all kinds of political attacks. These attacks would sound persuasive to those who have not yet moved beyond the old frame-- which is almost everybody.

      In other words, if we want Obama to somehow manage to lose this campaign despite overwhelming odds of victory, we should press him to immediately articulate a radically new and progressive frame for US foreign policy :)

      Since we don't want that, we probably have to be satisfied with coded language from Obama, that is intended to placate us enlightened progressives without alarming the vast majority of people whose thinking is stuck in the old frame. He's doing pretty good in this department, with his pledge for a phased withdrawal from Iraq, rebuilding alliances, using diplomacy and negotiation, etc. These are all good things, and all will be prominent parts of the picture that eventually will go in the new frame that you and I both want.

  •  I think both countries Iran and Iseral (0+ / 0-)

    have terriost oraganisations.  Both are in the wrong.

    http://politicz.wordpress.com/

    by GlowNZ on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:58:56 AM PDT

  •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

    I have no trouble labelling the Iranian revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization based on their actions as long as it is said specifically that this is not an authorization for war.

    It is a good sensible position.

  •  I wonder just how much weight is to be given (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, david mizner, Hens Teeth

    to what an American politician says while addressing AIPAC?

    I listened yesterday, and the day before, to the addresses given by McCain, Obama, Clinton and Pelosi.

    And I was embarassed by the unquestioning, humiliating pandering of them all to what is, in effect, a lobby for a foreign country.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:59:45 AM PDT

  •  Is Senator Obama a peacemaker? (0+ / 0-)

    Some of Senator Obama's supporters are unhappy with his apparent capitulation to AIPAC yesterday (refer to comments on barackobama.com).  These supporters expect him to be even-handed and just when dealing with the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Based on his speech it appears that he will continue with Bush's foreign policy.  The front page of Al Jazeera also telegraphs displeasure with his speech.  http://english.aljazeera.net/...

    Is our good Senator an advocate of change in everything Washington does or in just a few things?  I'll continue to listen for more insight.

  •  What's to be gained (0+ / 0-)

    from calling them a terrorist organization if you're not going to mandate some kind of action against them? Why does Obama support calling it a terrorist group then?

    "He's patriotic in sincere ways, and not in photo-op ways." - jenontheshore

    by Ivey476 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:01:54 AM PDT

    •  Here's what is to be gained (0+ / 0-)

      Obama, or any Dem, needs to guard against attacks from the right in the area of national security. Rhetorical maneuvers, such as terming the RG a terrorist organization, is a way to limit his exposure to such attacks. (This is so obvious it doesn't need to be said, but you did ask.)

      Technically, they probably DO support some types of terrorism, so it's not exactly wrong or dishonest to call them that.

      The real question is not whether so-and-so supports terrorism in some form, it's what are we doing about it. When people vote for Obama, it will be because they believe he'll have a better idea of what to do than Bush or McSame. And they'll be right about that.

  •  I agree with david (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chumley, david mizner, Hens Teeth

    Designating the revolutionary guard terrorists distorts the term terrorist beyond meaning, which has been the right's strategy for awhile now. They want to confuse the complexity of the middle east under labels like terrorists and insurgents.

  •  Not all your opponents are terrorists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic

    My take on it is that the American government is in the buisness of labeling anything that they oppose as being a terrorist. The Iran Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian military.  Iran is not your enemy, and Obama is being a wet noodle to start pandering already. This attitude is what sank Clinton. I don't see Iran invading countries and then occupying them, nor do I see Iran seriously threatening Americans (The Iraninan President is just mirroring Bush in his hyperbole, and he has even less power)

    So, yes, I agree with the diarist, even if it means I disagree with Obama

    ominous music

  •  Noone is going to agree fully with a candidate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david mizner, Hens Teeth, discocarp

    and in my opnion they shouldnt.  It is good to have differences otherwise you are just being a shill for your candidate.

    http://politicz.wordpress.com/

    by GlowNZ on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:07:44 AM PDT

  •  Based on his speech yesterday.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, GlowNZ, cybrestrike

    ...it seems he specifically supports terming the Quds Force terrorist, as opposed to the IRGC as a whole.

    And, uh, it does seem like the Quds Force is kinda terrorist-y.

  •  would somebody be kind of enough to explain (0+ / 0-)

    the difference between the quds force and the iranian revolutionary guard??

    obama must have known that this was pandering, but is there absolutely no difference bewteen him, clinton, and mccain on this position?

  •  I'm all for keeping 'em honest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david mizner

    but there's a lot of smoke and little fire here.  Not every group that opposes U.S. foreign policy is a "terrorist organization."  But terrorists do actually exist.  And bad decision-making vis-a-vis the invasion of Iraq doesn't mean that we have to shut our eyes to legitimate threats to our national security and, yes, our military personnel abroad.  For all the frothing at the mouth about Kyl-Lieberman (which to my mind was pure political posturing), we haven't actually invaded Iran.  A little perspective is always healthy.

    Don't tell me about the "new politics" if you're an asshole.

    by Ms Johnson on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:21:48 AM PDT

    •  A polite response. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david mizner, Hens Teeth, Ms Johnson

      Not every group that opposes U.S. foreign policy is a "terrorist organization."  But terrorists do actually exist.  And bad decision-making vis-a-vis the invasion of Iraq doesn't mean that we have to shut our eyes to legitimate threats to our national security and, yes, our military personnel abroad.  

      I completely agree with this, in general. But we're talking about a specific case here -- the IRG in Iran, and its QUDS force.  (Thanks to Adam B. for updating the info, above.)     So the real question is:  should THAT group be designated as such, and if so, what good does it do American security?

      For all the frothing at the mouth about Kyl-Lieberman (which to my mind was pure political posturing), we haven't actually invaded Iran.  A little perspective is always healthy.

      True.  But while one can never be sure of cause and effect, it may well have been the "frothing at the mouth" that defanged Kyl-Lieberman, though.   Webb coming out strongly and framing as he did helped strip a lot of belligerent garbage from that bill.   As did the reaction of others.  Without that, we might be at least a few steps closer to open hostilities with Iran.

      Finally, I'm not sure that saying something is political posturing means much.  It may be that, indeed.  But that doesn't mean it's not geared towards an actual policy goal, as well.  

      JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

      by chumley on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:39:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You make good points. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chumley

        However, I think you give too much credit to Webb, et al. I doubt that, if the Bush administration had been intent on invading Iran, that that particular opposition would have deterred them.  The amendment did, afterall, pass and by a fairly substantial majority.  And whether "we might be at least a few step closer to open hostilities with Iran" were it not for their efforts is, forgive me, speculation.  

        Further, I suspect that you wouldn't demean my characterization of Kyl-Lieberman as "not meaning much" if you agreed with my position.  That dig was unnecessary and undermines the "politeness" of your response.

        Don't tell me about the "new politics" if you're an asshole.

        by Ms Johnson on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:55:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

          Further, I suspect that you wouldn't demean my characterization of Kyl-Lieberman as "not meaning much" if you agreed with my position.  That dig was unnecessary and undermines the "politeness" of your response.

          A tad oversensitive, I think.  

          Kyl-Lieberman's language was substantially watered down, thanks to its oppositon.  And yes, it wasn't all Webb, you're right.  

          And whether "we might be at least a few step closer to open hostilities with Iran" were it not for their efforts is, forgive me, speculation.  

          Speculation?  Of course it is, and I said so upfront: "But while one can never be sure of cause and effect."   But the point is, what positive good did K-L achieve?    Not a bit, and it introduced more of the same neocon talking points that got us into Iraq.

          Re agreeing with your position -- I don't think  you give a position on K-L, except to say that it was political posturing.  I think that's a pretty generic phrase.    Something being political doesn't mean it's not geared towards a policy goal.  

          That's all.   Didn't mean to start a fight.  

          More to the point -- Kyl Lieberman was a dumb bill, a waste of time and effort, and didn't bring us another second of security.  It also marched us further along on muddying the idea of what "terrorism" means, which is a dangerous game for our time.

          JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

          by chumley on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 08:15:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  To a point in the diary... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chumley, david mizner, Hens Teeth

    the myriad of US definitions of terrorism, with multiples of them codified in the USC, have always been one of the shining examples that there is no consensus on what 'terrorism' is... though most here agree (I think) that it is nothing more than a tactic, not a separate entity unto itself.

    In any case, the muddied use of the phrase, whether in law or discourse, does nothing to counteract the acts of which it (terrorism) consists of or promotes.

    It is too bad that 'terrorism' has been the political football (or safe-haven, for some) that both parties have promoted.  In so doing, it has led to being seriously diverted from the more serious and underlying issues.  (But, I suppose there are no political gains to be made from dealing with realities in a 'real-world' fashion.)

    Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

    by wgard on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:33:00 AM PDT

    •  very well said, wgard. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

      by chumley on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:39:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For purposes of Executive Order 13224 (0+ / 0-)

      "Terrorism" is defined to be an activity that (1) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (2) appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.

      •  Lets see... (0+ / 0-)

        that might be like police tasering (violent act) a protester (human life), because (1) the protester might coerce a segement of the population to conscience, or the protester might be traced as an influence to the policy or government, etc.

        BTW, the definigion in EO 13224 is not the only one, nor even the operative definition if someone is charged under a statute of the USC... the one tied with the USC statute is the operative one.

        Oh, but wait!  Of course citizens or others need no longer be charged at all!!!!!  So sayeth Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and now Mukaski... so I suppose that EO 13224 in its definition is operative after all.

        (Clue... only definitions, prohibitions, and punishments contained within the USC, or prescribed by the USC have supremacy within the courts, as I understand... EO's come in tops sometimes within the purview of administrative courts, but not in the broader system of courts.  I may be wrong on this, from a legal point of view, and I would like to know if I am.)

        Cheers:)

        Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

        by wgard on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 07:56:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are completely wrong on this. (0+ / 0-)

          Wow.

          •  Would you care to enlighten me? (0+ / 0-)

            If I am wrong (which may be), I would at least like to know why, yes?  Or the rationale for why I am so 'completely wrong'?

            Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

            by wgard on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 08:09:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It would take a long time (0+ / 0-)

              Bottom line is that EO 13224's definition absolutely applies as to designations made under it; the definitions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 apply to charges made under it, etc.  And that definition isn't much different:

              (1) the term "international terrorism" means activities that—
              (A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;
              (B) appear to be intended—
              (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
              (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
              (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
              (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum;

              18 USC 2331.

  •  Well, if Obama strikes the kind of grand bargain (0+ / 0-)

    Iran was seeking from us in 2003, maybe it won't matter what his position was on the Revolutionary Guard.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 08:28:16 AM PDT

  •  I have never liked his position on Iran/Israel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david mizner

    because I feel it ignores the reality of what the past fifty years of U.S. policy has done to the region.  I don't know if he's pandering or if he really believes it.  Clinton and Edwards and Richardson and Dodd and Biden were no better, really.

    This is no surprise, but I can only hope that a superior overall foreign policy makes some of these details less critical.

    My novel of conspiracy and global warming, New World Orders, is available as a FREE podcast (audiobook). Go to http://www.edwardgtalbot.com to listen

    by eparrot on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 08:31:46 AM PDT

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