philosophers, masters of literature, and writers...I represent a great and proud nation that is a founder of human civilization and an inheritor of respected universal values. I represent a conscious nation which is dedicated to the cause of freedom, peace and compassion, a nation that has experienced the agony and bluer times of aggressions and imposed wars, and profoundly values the blessings of peace and stability."
"I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy..."We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda's affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb."
Reporters and pundits alike have been complicit in ignoring this important distinction. Accordingly, it may come as a surprise to many that just about every piece of sanctions legislation and every executive order adopted over the past 16 years and advertised as 'tightening the screws' on Iran has offered an escape hatch that gives the president discretion over which violators are targeted and whether they are named and penalized.
"The result is that very few 'sanctionable' companies are ever actually penalized — or even identified...
"President Obama takes great pride in pointing out that his administration has levied the most extensive sanctions to date against the Iranian regime. Indeed it has; much more than its predecessors, the Obama administration has actively targeted Iran's energy sector...
"But enforcement has lagged far behind..."
The authors explain why this is so:
"More often than not, the most egregious violators are companies headquartered in countries that are close U.S. allies or represent key strategic relationships for the United States, such as China and Russia. Fully implementing U.S. sanctions would require the political will to persist through a temporary downturn in those ties.
"President Ronald Reagan demonstrated such political will when he sanctioned Western European companies that defied orders not to supply U.S.-origin oil and gas equipment and technology to the Soviet Union for the development of its Siberian gas pipeline...
"Today such fortitude is strikingly absent. But at what cost? Obama's failure to fulfill his pledge to fully exhaust all non-military options regarding Iran suggests that the White House thinks the potential of sanctions to influence Iranian behavior is overblown and not worth the diplomatic consequences.
"The full enforcement of sanctions is a logical intermediary step before the use of force. The administration's failures on that front suggest that it views actual warfare as more palatable than ruffled diplomatic relationships with countries such as China, the primary violator of 'sanctionable' activity currently on the books. That, in turn, makes the likelihood of some sort of conflagration over Iran's nuclear program all the more probable."
Ignore this at your own risk. And take Obama's statement about the US "doing what it must" to stop Iranian nuclearization with a grain of salt.
Last today is the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Last here only because it was just delivered a couple of hours ago. A stunning and highly successful speech, for which the prime minister deserves much credit. Facing down a hostile world, he made Israel's case.
The people of Israel live on, he declared proudly, and "the Jewish state will live forever."
He made a host of important points, regarding Jewish presence in the land for thousands of years, with a remnant always remaining during exile and the masses holding on to the dream of return: "Defying the laws of history, we did just that...We will never be uprooted again..."
He spoke, as well, about many of the wonderful things that constitute Israel today -- medical innovation, reaching out to help in international crises, etc. etc.
Then he went on to finger the world's greatest problem at present: The battle between modernity and medievalism, with the medieval forces of radical Islam -- the regime in Iran primary among them -- bent on world conquest. He, clearly, is not afraid to name the enemy.
He has no doubt that ultimately this fanaticism will be defeated. The question is how many lives will be lost before it is. The parallel he drew is to Hitler: had he been stopped sooner, many fewer would have died.
He has been speaking about Iran for 15 years, but now the hour is late. When it comes to the survival of his country it is not only his right, but his duty to speak out. And so is it the duty of every responsible leader who wants peace to speak out.
Sanctions will not work to stop Iran, nor will diplomacy. And it is dangerous to assume that Iran can be deterred in the way that secular Marxists were -- for here we are dealing with an irrational ideology.
Iran calls for the destruction of Israel on a regular basis; relentlessly put down protests for democracy inside the country; is participating in the slaughter in Syria; has abetted killing in Iraq and now in Afghanistan; turned Lebanon and Gaza into terrorist strongholds; and has established terror networks in over 20 countries.
All this is without nuclear weapons. Imagine Iran with those weapons.
In the last year, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges it is operating -- it is forging ahead at a rapid pace.
The only way to stop Iran peacefully is with A CLEAR RED LINE.
Such a Red Line does not lead to war, it prevents war, he declared, providing a number of historical circumstances in which this has been true -- including during the Cuban missile crisis.
There are three steps to Iran acquiring a bomb: The enrichment of uranium, which is what is detonated. The development of a detonator. And the assembly of the parts.
The only credible way to stop Iran is during the enrichment process, which is more difficult to achieve and visible. A detonator can be developed in a small workshop, which would be hard to locate, as would the facility to assemble the bomb.
Netanyahu did not point a finger at the US here, or accuse Obama of faulty reasoning. He was very smooth and actually voiced appreciation for the US at one point. But he was speaking to the Americans, who have argued that there is time because they'll know when the assembly is taking place (the US position being that there is no problem until Iran is about to assemble a bomb.).
Nonsense, Netanyahu is saying. We have some terrific intelligence, not least of all Israeli intelligence. But it is not perfect and things can be missed. The only credible way to stop Iran is during the enrichment process when we can know what is going on. Any other way is too risky.
How close is Iran to completing that enrichment process? he then asked. There are three stages to the enrichment. The first stage is complete. The second stage will take another year, at most, to complete. And the final stage will require only months.
And where should the Red Line be? BEFORE the second stage is completed.
He used a chart during this part of his talk, and drew a red line, and I will say that it appeared that this was drawn at the end of the second stage. But I heard what he said: Before the second stage is completed.
Credit: Israel News Agency
Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a strong and cogent argument for that Red Line. The question is whether nations of the world at large, and the US most particularly, were listening and whether they will be moved by his arguments.
It seems clear to me that this is Netanyahu's last shot at attempting to stop Iran without an Israeli attack.
If the world, and the US most particularly, does not head this request for a Red Line, then our prime minister is almost certain to decide to take on Iran unilaterally before that second stage of enrichment is complete. No one will be able to say he rushed to war; the responsibility will be on the heads of the leaders who were deaf to the warnings.
There are rumors of talks between Israel and the US on setting that Red Line. I will believe it when Obama announces the Line, publically and unequivocally, and not before. Obama's fear, of course, is that before the election if he sets such a line he will be seen as "war-mongering."
See Jonathan Tobin on this very issue of whether the world will take Netanyahu seriously (with thanks to Judith N.):
The full text of Netanyahu's speech can be seen here:
I'll provide a video link once one is put up.
I have my issues on occasion with Netanyahu, and not infrequently feel frustrated by him.
But today I was deeply proud of him and let there be no one who accuses him of being without courage.
He spoke with self-assurance before the very same crowd that was willing to sit still for Ahmadinejad yesterday. And the very same crowd that had just given Mahmoud Abbas a standing ovation (I'll get to that). He was at his best.
You might want to consider letting him know how pleased you were with his talk:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
A brief note: Immediately before Netanyahu spoke, the PA's Mahmoud Abbas was at the podium. His talk was particularly disgusting. He grossly distorted history and accused Israel of enormous offenses against a peace-loving PA. Letting it pass may be the wisest thing to do. If at all I take it on, it will be to set the record straight with regard to some of his more outrageous lies.
Actually, I rather like the way Netanyahu dismissed him: "You will never solve the conflict" he said, addressing Abbas, "with libelous speeches."