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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Talk to Iran? Obama doesn't even want to listen!

Barack Obama distinguished himself from Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary, and continues to distinguish himself from John McCain, by claiming he would "talk with" Iran (indeed, I just heard Joe Biden making a major point of this in a talk this morning). But his idea of "talking with" someone must be different than mine, because, as it turns out, he doesn't even want to listen:
I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran’s nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime.
Yes, we wouldn't want to let the elected leaders of other countries speak at the United Nations. What did he say there? He called out the U.S. on Iraq ("Millions of people have been killed or displaced, and the occupiers, without a sense of shame, are still seeking to solidify their position in the political geography of the region and to dominate oil resources. They have no respect for the people of Iraq and disregard any dignity, rights, or status for them."), Afghanistan ("The people of Afghanistan are the victims of the willingness of NATO member states to dominate the regions surrounding India, China, and South Asia"), denounced the oppression of the Palestinian people ("In Palestine, 60 years of carnage and invasion is still ongoing at the hands of some criminal and occupying Zionists."), denounced U.S. interference in Latin America ("In Latin America, people find their security, national interests, and cultures to be seriously endangered by the menacing shadow of alien domineering governments, an even by the embassies of some empires"), and so on. All things Obama no doubt didn't want to hear and thinks were "outrageous."

The claim of "anti-Semitism" undoubtedly stems from this passage:

"The dignity, integrity, and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small and deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex, and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support."
Yes, talk of "Jewish bankers" through the ages has oft been a mask for the most virulent anti-Semitism. But when you read the entirety of this passage, and think back only a few weeks to Sarah Palin, having her very first meeting following her nomination be with leaders of AIPAC, and of course further back with Obama and Clinton duly genuflecting on their altar (weird metaphor, eh?), it's not hard to see where Ahmadinejad is coming from, nor to see why Obama feels it necessary to express his "outrage."

Believe it or not (not, if, like me, you're not a big fan of Larry King), there was a very worthwhile interview of Ahmadinejad with Larry King last night (transcript). Worthwhile because, among other things, King believes in letting his guest actually answer the questions he asks, instead of spending the whole time arguing with them, as a Wolf Blitzer would have done.

Let me just highlight his discussion of nuclear weapons, none of which is new, but it sure would be nice if Obama (and McCain and Biden and the media and every other part of the U.S. "establishment") would actually listen:

Regarding the question of the bomb. We believe, as a matter of religious teaching, that we must be against any form of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The production and the usage of nuclear weapons is one of the most abhorrent acts to our eyes.

In addition, we also believe that the atomic bomb has lost its use in political affairs, in fact. The time for a nuclear bomb has ended. Whoever who invests in it is going the wrong way.

Was a nuclear bomb able to help keep the Soviet Union intact and prevent its downfall?

Was it able to bring victory for the United States either in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Can it be used to that end?

Can the nuclear bomb save the Zionist regime?

The time for bombs of that nature has ended. It is a time of thought, a time for culture and reason to prevail.
Ahmadinejad discusses Palestine, anti-Semitism, the holocaust, gays, the invasion of Iraq, and more. Needless to say I don't agree with him on everything. On gays, for example, he basically says his religion says homosexuality is a sin and that it's "against human principles." Obviously I disagree. But a smarter political answer would have been to note that Iran is no different than many other Muslim countries (e.g., U.S. ally Saudi Arabia) in this regard, and, for that matter, no different than the U.S. was not that long ago, either in its laws or in reality (e.g., Matthew Shepard). On the Holocaust, he talks about people disagreeing about its extent, which, as I've written before, is absurd, but hardly less absurd than Bush and the corporate media disputing (by an order of magnitude or more!) the death toll in Iraq. Regardless, I recommend the interview to all readers, and to Barack Obama too. He might learn something.

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