John Edwards in 2011: "I'm Sorry for My Vote on Iran"

2008 is so depressing.  When you're not looking, these candidates turn around and announce they are going to sell us out to the same people that screwed this country over the last six years.  Here's John Edwards doing it on Iran:

In a speech at a conference in Herzliya, Israel, former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) took aim at Iran, warning that the "world won't back down." The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, who recently launched a new presidential campaign, also said that Israel should be allowed to join NATO.

Although Edwards has criticized the war in Iraq, and has urged bringing the troops home, the former senator firmly declared that "all options must remain on the table," in regards to dealing with Iran, whose nuclear ambition "threatens the security of Israel and the entire world."

"Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons," Edwards said. "For years, the US hasn't done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran. As my country stayed on the sidelines, these problems got worse."

Edwards continued, "To a large extent, the US abdicated its responsibility to the Europeans. This was a mistake. The Iranian president's statements such as his description of the Holocaust as a myth and his goals to wipe Israel off the map indicate that Iran is serious about its threats."

"Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel's neighborhood much more volatile," Edwards said.

Edwards added, "Iran must know that the world won't back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate - ALL options must remain on the table."

The issue for John Edwards has always been credibility.  Why should we trust a man who sold us out on the war vote?  His answer is that he's changed.  But has he?  It's hard to say.  I mean it's a really bad idea to pretend like attacking Iran is a viable option.  It's not.  It's a horrible, horrible idea, and it's what we shouldn't let Edwards get away with.

Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards (all tags)

Comments

100 Comments

Re: John Edwards, Faker
Sweet mother o'christ.
I was ready to excuse this as necessary politics, but Israel in NATO? Jesus, why not just announce you want to disband it?
by BlueinColorado 2007-01-24 08:40AM | 0 recs
Israel in NATO is a bad meme to promote...

I mean, the Arabs already see Israel in part as a European incursion of sorts, given that the first Zionist settlers were from there, and the history of the Crusades.  Inviting Israel into NATO, and possibly allowing them access before Turkey, would be sending some bad, bad signals.

But then I can't see western Europe all that excited about Israel in NATO anyway - they take a dimmer view of their relations with Gaza and the West Bank than we do.

That said, at some point we're going to need some sort of a regional arms agreement for the heart of the Middle East anyway.  Israel can project its military forces quite a distance, and Israel in turn is a relatively small target.  It wouldn't surprise me that the price we pay, in this country, for peace is some sort of plan where we provide Israel in a public way (as opposed to the quieter way presently) with whatever it wants from us in return for potentially exposing itself to attacks from Arab nations or other viable political entities like Hezbollah.

My two bits...

by palamedes 2007-01-24 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel in NATO is a bad meme to promote...

I don't see it happening but I think inviting Israel into NATO could be a good move. It might help them feel secure enough to make the necessary compromises that could bring about a resolution to their conflict.

Btw, Turkey is already in NATO, it's the European Union that they are having difficulty entering.

by jmstarnes 2007-01-24 09:05AM | 0 recs
This is Pretty Shoddy Journalism

This is pretty shoddy journalism Matt.

In his speech and talk to an Israeli audience, Edwards indicated that he wants to use political and economic sanctions to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. (That is good.)  He wants to strengthen coalitions in order to make those sanctions more effective. (That is good.)  He wants to end the Bush Administration's policy of not negotiating with Iran. (That is good.)  

And now...drum roll please...Edwards does NOT want to begin those direct talks with Iran by giving up the military option, BEFORE you start those direct talks (which is a bargaining chip you eventually give up during the negotiations.)  Very few diplomats I know would give up that bargaining chip BEFORE you begin direct talks.

From this, you conclude that Edwards wants to attack Iran. Give me a break.  From this, you conclude that Edwards wants Bush to attack Iran.  What?  He wants Bush to begin direct negotiations with Iran, strengthen our alliances, and eventually give up the bargaining chip of military action. That is the right thing to do.

And your quote is WAY too hyperbolic on the exciting issue of whether Israel, like its neighbor Turkey, may some day end up in NATO.  Edwards said this "could" some day happen.  Edwards said: "We should be finding ways to upgrade Israel's relationship with NATO. This could even some day mean membership."

Oh my god!  Did Edwards say that it "could" happen?  He needs to say that it must NEVER happen, right now!  Say never! Don't even MENTION its possibility in a speech to an Israeli audience!

To the extent it matters to you Matt, and others...Obama, Hillary Clinton and Clark ALL have the same position on Iran.  In particular, they all believe that the military option MUST be kept on the table with respect to Iran.

So, for example, Obama recently said that the military option MUST be on the table with regards to Iran.
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060508/co ckburn

Heck, Obama even talked about the need to attack Iran when he ran for Senate in 2004, in his virtually uncontested Senate race.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/print edition/chi-0409250111sep25,1,4555304.st ory?ctrack=1&cset=true

And last week, Hillary Clinton was saying, once again, that all options must remain on the table with respect to Iran. According to the January 20, 2007, Washington Post, Hillary Clinton said: "the administration should make it clear that all options remain on the table for dealing with the Iranians."  In addition, she "criticized the White House for turning the problem over to European nations and said Iran must never be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons."

As for General Wesley Clark, in a January 8, 2007, Washington Post Op Ed, he stated with respect to Iran, "the military option must remain on the table."    

Essentially what you have Matt, is a simple fact: Obama, Hillary Clinton, Clark and Edwards all have the EXACT same position on Iran.  I do not begrudge you completely if you wish they all had a different position.  Personally, with respect to Iran, I happen to think they are all correct.  

Of course, they do differ on Iraq. Hillary Clinton and Obama want Bush to continue the war, but with "a cap," which to me sounds strangely like preserving the status quo.  A cap?  Is this this some sort of poll-tested triangulation position?

By contrast, Edwards wants to withdraw 40,000 troops RIGHT NOW, out of harm's way, and thus apply hard, direct pressure to the Maliki government.  And I think Clark, a former General, just wants to keep all the existing forces in Iraq and arrange them differently, along the borders, and in Anbar.    

by Demo37 2007-01-24 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: This is Pretty Shoddy Journalism

Obama is for a cap and for withdrwal and redeployment. You make it sound like he is only for a cap.

For the rest of it, I agree. All of our frontrunners have essentially the same position on just about every issue.

by demondeac 2007-01-24 12:13PM | 0 recs
Iran not having weaponized nuclear weapons is not

antithetical to getting out of Iraq.. or thinking Iraq was a mistake.

the Big three candidates will be no different from each other on things like gay marriage and nuclear Iran..  no matter what we'd wish.

We wish should be willing to reduce our Nukes in agreement for Iran not going nuclear.

Our goal should be as few (or zero) nuclear weapons on the planet as possible.

by TarHeel 2007-01-24 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran not having weaponized nuclear weapons is

Reducing our nuclear stockpile is not what Edwards suggested.

by Matt Stoller 2007-01-24 08:45AM | 0 recs
if I were running for president

that would be the context/framing I would use.

No nukes for Iran but lets decrease nukes worldwide...

Oh well....

by TarHeel 2007-01-24 10:30AM | 0 recs
Much ado about nothing

Edwards is calling for strong diplomacy with the stick of economic and political sanctions.  He's not calling for an invasion.  He's correct that Iran should not be allowed to go nuclear.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Stop turning a blind eye to this shit.

by Matt Stoller 2007-01-24 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Sorry, but Edwards has made it quite clear that he wants to exhaust all diplomatic options. It's not "turning a blind eye" to anything.

by clarkent 2007-01-24 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

What blind eye.  Its nothing.  I don't want Iran to have nukes.  And Edwards is advocating using tough diplomacy to keep that from happening.  Not war.  Diplomacy.  I say good.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Please.  What exactly do you think "We need to keep ALL options on the table" means?

by antidoto 2007-01-24 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

It's political language.  This is politics. Get used to it.  

by Andmoreagain 2007-01-24 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

When the President says "all options on the table" he means dropping nuclear bombs.  Therefore that's what it means in the current debate climate.  You think Edwards is too dumb to know that?  

by antidoto 2007-01-24 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Was the IWR just politics too?  If Edwards hadn't made tragic mistakes before I might give him a pass on this.

If all options are on the table, then all options are on the table including gasp Iran with a nuclear program.

by abburdlen 2007-01-25 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Matt,

"Turning a blind eye" would be allowing Iran to go nuclear.  Edwards is not suggesting that invasion is a good idea.  Instead, leaving all options on the table is a bargaining chip in global diplomacy.

by KickinIt 2007-01-24 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Edwards in The New Yorker a couple of weeks back:

Edwards is genial in conversation, but he became almost testy when I brought up his vote, in 2002, in favor of the Iraq-war resolution. Edwards has repudiated his vote, unlike Clinton, who has not renounced her own support for the war despite demands from her backers that she do so. Edwards worries that his vote will be seen as evidence that he was somehow fooled by the Administration into giving it his support. "I was convinced that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons," he said. "There was some disparity in the information I had about how far along he was in that process. I didn't rely on George Bush for that. And I personally think there's some dishonesty in suggesting that members of the United States Senate relied on George Bush for that information, because I don't think it's true. It's great politics. But it's not the truth."

He brought up the fact that he was on the Intelligence committee:

...so I got direct information from the intelligence community. And then I had a series of meetings with former Clinton Administration people. And they were all saying the same thing. Everything I was hearing in the Intelligence Committee was the same thing I was hearing from these guys.

The problem is, five of the nine Democratic Senate Intelligence committee members at the time -- including then-chair Bob Graham -- voted against the Iraq war resolution. Edwards hasn't said what the super-top-secret evidence that convinced him -- but didn't convince the majority of the Democrats on the committee -- was. Which is kind of odd, because it appears to have been just as wrong as Bush's intelligence.

http://www.darrelplant.com/blog_item.php ?ItemRef=614

by darrelplant 2007-01-25 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

It doesn't matter what steps he's technically advocating.  Everyone and his goddamn grandmother should know at this point that validating the President's bullshit premise that Iran is a serious threat de facto validates his warmongering.  I thought Edwards got it.  This is a serious disappointment.

by antidoto 2007-01-24 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate - ALL options must remain on the table.

definitely "much ado about nothing"...

by Ian Campbell 2007-01-24 08:56AM | 0 recs
My take.

There is the question I would like to ask every Presidential candidate.  It goes something like this:

"Right now, America is sick of the war in Iraq.  We've turned against the war because of all its faults and because it was uncalled for.  Yet, Osama bin Laden did attack us on 9/11, 8 years after his first attack on the U.S.  If al Qaeda waits an equally long period of time, it will be late 2009 or 2010 when the next attack occurs - on your watch.  What will you do to make sure those attacks don't occur?"

Let's not forget 9/11 just because Bush has bastardized it into the Global War on Terror.  Does Iran play a role in that?  I don't know.  But, I do know we shouldn't forget what happened, we should remember how we felt and we should do what we can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

My experience with the Middle East, as limited as it is, makes me think that our economy and not our military are the best way to shortcut terrorists.  Still, while the governments of Iran spew the destruction of whole countries....

by Robert P 2007-01-24 05:07PM | 0 recs
I disagree

ALL options is one hell of a lot of options.  One obvious option is our using nukes on Iran to keep Iran from getting nukes.

That one doesn't belong on the table.

I also disagree with including Israel in NATO.  That's a terrible idea.  For one thing, it would put us in a very awkward position vis-a-vis Israel's West Bank settlements: if they are attacked, is Israel being attacked, and does NATO have to come to its defense?

In general, there's a lot more saber-rattling here than necessary.  The Iranians have tried multiple times - including once just recently - to start negotiations with us over both Iraq and their nuclear program.  But the Bush Administration takes the unique view is that negotiations are a reward for prior capitulation.

There's no need to saber-rattle until we've tried negotiations, and the other party has demonstrated a lack of willingness to negotiate in good faith.  For a guy who just said a couple weeks back that we need to learn to be patriotic about something other than war, it's truly depressing to see him take such a militaristic approach.

by RT 2007-01-24 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Much ado about nothing

Since Israel, India and Pakistan are nuclear, and the U.S. ahs refused ro renounce attack and invasion, why shouldn't Iran develop nuclar weapons as a matter of rational self defence.

Discuss.

by gogol 2007-01-24 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

I agree with TarHeel on the first point, the strongest candidates like Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Richardson will not differ much on this.

First, on Iran, of course all options must remain on the table.  When trying to apply pressre and incentives to get what you want, you need both the carrot and the threat of the stick.  Having an intention to use it is another matter.

Second, I disagree with TarHeel, Edwards, and all the other politicians on Iran.  It is not our business if a sovereign nation is developing nuclear weapons.  Of course I'd prefer they not develop them, I wish the weapons didn't exist at all, but Iran is a sovereign nation.

Third, I would welcome any nation into NATO, if only because it entails an agreement of mutual non-aggression.

by jallen 2007-01-24 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

"It is not our business if a sovereign nation is developing nuclear weapons."

I disagree. If Nazi Germany had atomic weapons the western world would not exist today. We have the right to defend our interests in the world, and we have the right to stop theocratic regimes from getting nukes to bomb us with. If Iran was a democracy with sane leaders things would have been different.

The idea of a "sovereign nation" is a human construction and not something God-given. We should not trust nazis, fascists or theocrats with nuclear bombs.

by Populism2008 2007-01-24 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

Let me add: I do not believe in attacking Iran, but it must remain an option (the last one) if they develop nuclear weapons and it is obvious that they are going to push the button any day.

by Populism2008 2007-01-24 10:06AM | 0 recs
No

Are you seriously trying to help Edwards by making a pro-preemption argument? Unbelievable.

by scvmws 2007-01-24 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

Is it allowed to add to the list of who we don't trust?

by gogol 2007-01-24 01:49PM | 0 recs
Wrong Wrong Wrong

True, Iran shouldn't be able to get nuclear weapons; no good can come from that.  By why should Israel be able to have them?  No good comes from that either, and only shows our favoritism towards Israel, which enrages neighboring countries more.  We should look for a way to take the most dangerous weapons completely out of the most volatile region in the world.

by John Nicosia 2007-01-24 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

Yeah, this is seriously troubling.  The problem with the Iraq vote (for me, at least) was never that it was a "mistake" - it's that willingness to vote demonstrated either a) complete failure to understand the security implications or b) cowardice in the face of public support for what he knew was a  terrible idea.

Neither option offers much encouragement.

I've never really cared about "punishing" those who supported the war - I just worry about what that support might mean.  This kind of rhetoric from Edwards makes me less persuaded that his apology for the Iraq vote reveals a genuine change in attitude.

That said, this is not a statement in favor of war, so we should keep from going too crazy about it.

And the other main candidates have said pretty much the same thing, for what it's worth.

by Baldrick 2007-01-24 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

I suppose you're right about the other "main" candidates, but I'd just like to point out that Clark's position is very much in opposition.  He has expressed a great deal of concern that we are on the verge of bombing Iran without ever even talking to them.  Many believe that the Bush administration has been trying to provoke Iran into attacking us in recent weeks, in order to justify a bombing run.

Clark believes that groups in the US with a lot of money are influencing politicians to support this effort, which the far-right leadership in Israel are pushing for.  

Looks like he's right.

by catherineD 2007-01-24 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

I am disappointed that Edwards is using militaristic language concerning Iran.  He should speak directly to the Iranian people, who do not like their president and have issues with the clerics who run their country.  His statements have the potential to alienate moderates in Iran and the rest of the Muslim world.

As for Israel joining NATO: Bad idea.  This would give the image that the organization is a military behemoth for white Judeo-Christian.  Again, this would alienate moderates in the region.

I support Edwards, but these statements on Iran and Israel are troubling.

by NathanielB 2007-01-24 09:01AM | 0 recs
Not so bad

Perhaps Edwards isn't so much "selling us out" as showing just a little bit of inexperience.

by haypops 2007-01-24 09:18AM | 0 recs
all options on the table

These are very dangerous words and are not just politics and diplomacy as usual.  Do not forget that one of those options is a nuclear attack by the US and/or Israel.

The Iranians know this.  Bush has explicitly refused to take that option off the table.  Therefore this language is extremely threatening.  We are telling Iran that they  must do as we say or face nuclear extinction. Edwards, and others above, are endorsing that threat.

I find it very chilling that otherwise rational and good hearted fellow Democrats can so casually accept these bloodthirsty threats against a nation that does not threaten our country in the least.

by syvanen 2007-01-24 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: all options on the table

Whatever made you think that being antiwar had anything to do with being a Democrat?

The phrase "all of the options are on the table" does include a nuclear strike, but do you really think that is what Edwards means?  Do you really think that Edwards is that crazy?  I interpret it as simply that we may decide to use force.

by jallen 2007-01-24 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: all options on the table

"Whatever made you think that being antiwar had anything to do with being a Democrat"

I can hope can't I.

by syvanen 2007-01-24 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: all options on the table

Everyone interprets the "all options" phrase as meaning the U.S. and/or Israel will use nuclear force.

The problems is, so do the Iranians.

Who could blame them?

by gogol 2007-01-24 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: all options on the table

It certainly was when Edwards voted to authorize (AUMF) Bush to go into Iraq.

And still is.

Was Edwards only kidding then?

Would the repeal of his vote get Bush out of Iraq?

You kidder you.

by gogol 2007-01-24 02:16PM | 0 recs
Boo, Matt

Not sure, exactly, what you'd have him say regarding a potentially explosive situation in Iran, Matt.  

Actually, I'm really stumped on this point.  What's the better alternative, rhetorically, I mean?  

"I want some options on the table.  Just a few.  No military options, though.  But we'll negotiate the hell out of that deal.  And if the negotiating doesn't work, then..."

What?  

by bjk816 2007-01-24 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Boo, Matt

Saying nothing at all.  He didn't have to make a speech about Iran.

by antidoto 2007-01-24 10:40AM | 0 recs
Sure.

And then he'd be accused of ducking the issue.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-24 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Boo, Matt

When a War Criminal nation invades the next door neighbor, won't give international security guarantees, and won't promise to not invade or nuke, and won't negotiate in the first place -- except for ultimatums -- there are few talking points to give up.

And will someone explain to me, why is it, when one candidate for national office starts warmongering, it's acceptable to defend by saying "The other guys do it too?"

My Favorite War Criminal is no worse than your War Criminal?

Bleah.

by gogol 2007-01-24 02:10PM | 0 recs
Bush's version

Bush's version of leaving all options on the table seems to leave out diplomacy and negotiations.  Edward's rhetoric, but hopefully not his intentions, seem too close to Bush's.

by haypops 2007-01-24 09:49AM | 0 recs
Edwards live discussion

On the Edwards blog, there's a call for questions for his live video discussion. I asked the following question: "Are you prepared to go to war with Iran, if necessary? If so, please define necessary." I'd advise others to submit similar questions.

by clarkent 2007-01-24 09:50AM | 0 recs
Losing My Respect

I've never favored Edwards because I think he lacks the resume I'd like in a president.  But I've admired his rich vs. poor speeches.

This is about the third thing this week I've read, though, that leaves me wondering where he really stands. I didn't care for his criticism of Jim Webb's Democratic response to the SOTU and a poster's comparison of votes where Hillary and Edwards diverged always seemed to leave Hillary on the right side and Edwards on the wrong.  

I'll be watching closely to see if there's more evidence that he's more opportunist than populist.

by catherineD 2007-01-24 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Losing My Respect

What criticism of Webb?

by clarkent 2007-01-24 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Losing My Respect

Seriously, I'd really like to know.

by clarkent 2007-01-24 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Losing My Respect

Just like I thought - a troll.

by clarkent 2007-01-25 08:57AM | 0 recs
What the hell?

It's an idiotic statement. Domestically, it's a mistake to suggest keeping 'all options on the table' when one of the options that has been proposed is nuclear strikes. Now I'm hoping he doesn't mean he'd keep that one on the table, but even if you think there'd be any benefit to attacking Iran (I see it as the biggest retrograde step in the Middle East since the Balfour Declaration) it's shoddy messaging.

Internationally, letting Israel into NATO is absurd. Quite aside from the fact that NATO no longer really has a reason to exist, Israel is a pariah state to Arab nations and doesn't exactly get along with most of NATO either. If they join then the members of the EU, mostly being members of NATO, suddenly lose all credibility as potential dealmakers in the West Bank. And European nations are simply never going to intervene if Israel gets involved in another shooting match.

Meanwhile it's a provocation to Iran at a time when Ahmadinejad is more unpopular than ever before (and just as powerless as ever.) Suggesting that Iran has no right to have nukes ticks the hypocrite box nicely, and it feeds into the misleading impression of Iran as the big threat to progress in the region.

Aside from which, what the hell is he talking about when he says that America has "abdicated its responsibilities to Europeans"? Last I checked, the Red Army aren't camped out in Northern Germany any more, our economies are much less susceptible to the tribulations of the global market than the rest of the world and the Monroe Doctrine doesn't apply to Europe. What responsibility is there? Is he talking about the threat from Iran? Has he not noticed that Xerxes doesn't live there any more? The comment comes off as being somewhere between arrogantly imperialistic and completely nonsensical.

by Englishlefty 2007-01-24 09:57AM | 0 recs
You're Wrong On this One Matt

Do you really want Democrats to stand up and say that the use of force in Iran is off the table completely?  That seems not only silly to me, but also a bad policy.  

OF COURSE the approach to Iran needs to be completely different than what the Bush administration - with the help of too many complicit Democrats - did leading up to Iraq.  But that doesn't mean that there aren't instances where it may be appropriate to use some kind of force against Iran.  Now, should we do that before TRULY exhausting all diplomatic options?  Definitely not.  But you seemingly want to hear every candidate say they'll NEVER use force unless they get netroots approval first.  Sheesh.  

FYI -- I was against the Iraq war from the very start, so I'm not some kind of Lieberman "democrat."  

by HSTruman 2007-01-24 10:03AM | 0 recs
Agreed... Please think it through.

Foreign Policy is not easily defined by liberal or conservative positions, which I hate to admit, as I'm also from the left side of the spectrum. Edwards was stating the obvious, putting forth a position more or less in the middle of US foreign policy goals, not a fringe, right-wing idea.

Truly, we don't want more members of the nuclear club, least of all in countries controlled by religious fanatics (not just Iran, BTW). Ultimately, enforcing this requires a credible threat of attack (which I am not advocating, as there are a lot of alternatives not being used at the moment).

The Bush invasion of Iraq and the administration approach to Iran is a looming disaster, as it appears to create the opposite of the desired effect: sustain Ahmadinejad is in power, and create insecurity in Iran that actually ecourages them to develop nuclear weapons. Could this be intentional?

Carrots, the threat of a big stick and diplomacy would go a long way to resolving the issue of Iran. There are many groups within Iran that would welcome change to a more moderate if not liberal government there.  

What is the biggest threat to Ahmadinejad remaining in power?

The present government of Iran is maintained by cheap gasoline and income from oil exports. Let's put in place policies that would drop the world price of oil to the low $40s: oil taxes, mileage requirements, subsidies for conservation, alternatives, peace in Iraq. That would kick a big leg out from under Iran's theocracy.

by MetaData 2007-01-24 10:39AM | 0 recs
Goodby John Edwards

I have long felt great admiration for John Edwards and until I saw this story he was one of my two favorites for the 2008 nomination. But the idea of allowing Israel to become a member of NATO puts an end to that. The central problem of the Bush foreign policy is that it is an idiot's conception of how to make world safe for Israel. As many smart Israelis know it has only made things worse, and admitting Israel to NATO would just allow the Israeli hawks to pursue their ruthless policies with impunity. Allowing Israel to join NATO is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and to hear it coming from Edwards is very sad indeed. I am now solidly for Obama.

by herodotus 2007-01-24 10:05AM | 0 recs
Agreed: Goodby John Edwards

I'm with you on this one Herodotus, albeit for somewhat different reasons.  It's bad policy to threaten what you wouldn't deliver, and worse policy to deliver unilateral attacks on other countries.  Including and maybe especially Iran, and including by means of proxies like Israel.  

[Yes, I'm a Jew, gentle reader.  No, I don't hate myself]

Nothing is practical so long as we support politicians that see us as an Empire; being an Empire is not practical.  Being a country means following some basics, like refraining from aggression.

by robinpc 2007-01-24 10:11AM | 0 recs
Amen to that

I do not have words to express how disappointed I am in Edwards.  He certainly does not have the judgment to be POTUS.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Goodby John Edwards

I third, and he was my favorite until this.  I was literally planning to send him a donation this week.

by antidoto 2007-01-24 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Goodby John Edwards

I was literally planning to send him a donation this week.

You and me both.  Perhaps we should write out the check, make it as VOID, and send it in with an explanation.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 11:12AM | 0 recs
*mark* it as VOID, rather

by Disputo 2007-01-24 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Goodby John Edwards

On the other hand, putting Israel in NATO might help them feel secure enough for them to really accept a two-state solution.  I've always thought that a US security gurantee would be part of an final settlement.

by philgoblue 2007-01-24 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011

I just read his speech, and I'm very disappointed in it, as I've been a very big fan of Edwards.  It's pandering of the worst kind.  You can be strong on Iran and the need for it to be responsible to its neighborhood and the world, without using the exact rhetoric that people who really do want a war with Iran use.  This was a setting for Edwards to show real leadership and understanding of the situation in the ME rather than play up to the audience's pre-conceived notions.  The Bush administration has just made matters 10 times worse by not taking Iran up on its offer in 2003 to see where it went.  After starting to lean towards Edwards, I'm definitely back in the market now for another candidate.  Al - where are you?

by Joe Scordato 2007-01-24 10:10AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011:

The only thing worse than a War with Iran is a Nuclear Iran. Take all the arguments that the Bush Admin. made against Iraq and use them against Iran, and quess what? All the arguments are true against Iran. Support for terrorism, check. Building nuclear weapons, check. Providing support and a heaven for terrorists, check.  

Letting Iran go Nuclear would be the equivalent of letting Cuba get nukes from the USSR during Kennedy's administration.

I'm glad to see in the comments that not all of the Democratic party has become a bunch of pussies as result of the Iraq debacle.

by bjschmid 2007-01-24 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011:

You're completely wrong that the only thing worse than a war with Iran is a nuclear Iran.  There's no guarantee that an attack on Iran would stop them from ultimately getting a bomb.  You are conflating the Israeli strategic position with the US strategic position.  Your analogy is absurd - Cuba is 90 miles from Miami and several hundred from DC, not several thousand like Iran.  Even if Iran got the bomb, we have much more risk of a rogue nuke from our "allies" like Pakistan or countries like NK than from Iran.  A war with Iran could lead to $200 oil, a complete collaspe of the world economy, and a reason for them to actually engage in terrorism against the US.  Right now the terrorism they sponsor is against Israel, not us.  Don't mix the two up,like Bush does and did.  Democrats can be strong without being batshit insane and counterproductive like the neo-cons.

by Joe Scordato 2007-01-24 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011:

I believe your incorrect in your ascertion that Iran is only sponsoring terrorism against "Israel, not us". The Kobar towers bombing in 1996 were hardly an isolated incident, and there indications that Iran at a minimum, looked the other way (such as by not stamping passports, etc.) as Al Qaeda operatives moved from Afghanistan west on their way to the US to carry out 9/11.

The reason we haven't seen anything recently outside of their support for Hezbollah is because they have trained their guns on american soliders in Iraq. And yes, a nuclear Iran is a deadly threat to Israel, but here you seem to suggest that we should say "who cares" if iran wants to test their nuke against Israel, which is based on the historical tendency of Iran, the most likely senerio.  

The $200 oil suggestion is a fantasy; If Iran were to stop pumping and sellign their oil on the free market their already shaky economy would crash, which is what we are hoping will happen with the sanctions that are in place.

by bjschmid 2007-01-24 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011:
A non-stamped passport could be a bribed offcial or a rogue operation, not official policy.  And since the 9/11 hijackers came through Saudi Arabia, should we treat SA the same as Iran?  Khobar Towers - maybe Iran, maybe Al Qaeda in S.A., still lots of unanswered questions about who really did that operation, and since the Saudi's aren't helping, who knows?  Hezbollah is not targeting Americans, and despite Bush claims about Iranian IEDs, the LA Times suggests there's not a lot of evidence for it.  I'm not seeing an active network against the US, so I'd like to hear more examples of terrorism against us.  I'm more concerned about the possiiblity of a sleeper network here that could be activated after an unprovoked "pre-emptive" attack on Iran.
Why is it that MAD worked for every other nuclear power rivalry but somehow the Iranians would be immune to its deadly logic?  When you're in a rough neighborhood and your opponents are making noises about attacking you, with the nuclear weapons they have but you don't, the Iranian response is not irrational at all.  The lesson of Iraq and North Korea is pretty simple - the US will talk big in both cases, but if you've got nukes, they ain't invading.  The Iranians are playing a very rational game - try to make a deal where you can (2003 offer), bleed your enemies by supporting their enemies when they give you an opportunity (Lebanon 06, Iraq).  We should be as smart about our interests and how to achieve them.  They won't use the nukes against Israel if Israel has a credible second strike capability, which they do.
$200 oil when fighting closes the Persian Gulf and no ME oil, not just the Iranian's, gets out of there.
by Joe Scordato 2007-01-24 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards in 2011:

MAD only worked by accident..The Russian's never believed it.

As far as the evidence of IED's from Iran, i missed the LA times story, but friends of mine who have served in Iraq argue that it is in fact happening, and that their commanders have told them to keep their mouths shut, for whatever reason.

Taking force off the table however, is essentially saying to the Iranians, please do not make nukes, but don't worry, we won't do anything about it even if you do. I'm actually quite surprised by the restrained approach the administration has taken with them, although its pretty clear its not by choice but rather by necessity because of the Iraq disaster. As far as the Iranians 2003 offer, its not the first, although I'm not completely familiar with the details, most of the time these "grand bargains" involve an unacceptable "poision pill" such as "cease US military support to Israel" or "withdrawal all forces from the region". Not trying to be overly dramatic, but Hilter made similar offers to the British before they got involved in WWII.  

by bjschmid 2007-01-24 01:16PM | 0 recs
Thank you Stoller

Thank you for keeping me from wasting any time supporting Edwards.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: huh?

When did "political and economic sanctions" ceome a synonym for "attacking Iran"?

by philgoblue 2007-01-24 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: huh?

It isn't.  

"[W]e need to keep ALL options on the table" is.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 11:03AM | 0 recs
Every president keeps ALL options...

...on the table. To think otherwise is naivete.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-24 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Every president keeps ALL options...

It's stupid politics, and bolsters bad policy currently being advocated by Bush's people.

Edwards isn't giving speeches about the need to keep an attack on China, or England, or wherever else on the table, so his curious public statements don't strike me as being especially necessary.

by scvmws 2007-01-24 12:23PM | 0 recs
Iran and others

Here is some Q & A after the prepared remarks so advertently left out on Stoller's post:

My analysis of Iran is if you start with the President of Iran coming to the UN in New York denouncing America and his extraordinary and nasty statements about the Holocaust and goal of wiping Israel off map, married with his attempts to obtain nuclear weapons over a long period of time, they are buying time. They are the foremost state sponsors of terrorism. If they have nuclear weapons, other states in the area will want them, and this is unacceptable.

As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table. More serious sanctions need to be undertaken, which cannot happen unless Russia and China are seriously on board, which has not happened up until now. I would not want to say in advance what we would do, and what I would do as president, but there are other steps that need to be taken. Fore example, we need to support direct engagement with Iranians, we need to be tough. But I think it is a mistake strategically to avoid engagement with Iran.

Has anyone considered that the message might aimed at China and Russia at well to tell them we need them at the table help engage the Syrians, Iranians, and also those in Sudan?  

There's an expression that I heard over the summer: US and Iran are playing chess on a board; Israel and Hizbollah are playing poker under that chess board.  

Someone else here suggested coming over to http://blog.johnedwards.com this evening and ask Edwards for clarification.  I think that's a good idea, especially for Stoller, who's always pissed off at Edwards about one thing or another.  

I also suggest asking Mrs. Clinton on her 3rd webcast this evening and see how honest she will be about her answer.  I'm betting it will be another measured response about "there is much more work for us to do".  

by benny06 2007-01-24 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran and others

Seems there is an agenda here by Stoller.  Nothing at all wrong with what Edwards said.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 11:01AM | 0 recs
agenda

Yes, his agenda is to prevent yet another idiot beholden to the neocons from becoming POTUS.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 11:11AM | 0 recs
I Call BS on the "Agenda" accusation.

Matt can speak for himself, but I've never noticed him being particularly anti-Edwards.

On the other hand, the quick condemnation of Edwards and the tone of it in response to Matt's post, is a sign of trollers trying to create a negative meme. I don't recognize a lot of the sigs as long-term MyDD-ers.

by MetaData 2007-01-24 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: I Call BS on the "Agenda"

I think all of us should work to create incentives for candidates to do the right thing.  Rattling sabers against Iran is the wrong thing to do.

by Matt Stoller 2007-01-24 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: I Call BS on the "Agenda"

Advocating strong diplomacy and real sanctions to stop Iran from having nukes is the right thing.  Edwards was 100 percent correct.  I say good for him.  I notice you didn't answer the post that had the entire quote.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 11:45AM | 0 recs
Edwards emphasizes direct diplomacy

From Edwards' speech in Brussels:

Iran's recent actions, beginning with the reprocessing and enrichment of uranium and its refusal to cooperate with international inspections in open defiance of the UN Security Council make clear that it intends to secure nuclear weapons. And the Iranian president's statements such as his despicable description of the holocaust as a myth or his ugly pledge to wipe Israel off the map, illustrates the seriousness of the threat.

When he says things like this we should take him at his word. The international community must confront Iran with a clear choice, give up your nuclear ambitions or suffer the consequences. Right now this means UN Security Council actions to impose sanctions.

But we have more options than doing nothing or using force. That's a false choice. We have many more diplomatic tools to use and we already use every single one of them. For the United States, this means more active and creative diplomacy, including a willingness to engage the Iranian leadership directly. For the Europeans, it means standing strong to confront Iran in the Security Council with meaningful sanctions, and a willingness to implement those sanctions. A common effort to stop the proliferation, to stop proliferation is important. But, cooperation cannot end there. Also need to be finding new ways to help end conflicts and create stability. A key place to start would be to continue to reform critical organizations like NATO.


by MeanBoneII 2007-01-24 11:34AM | 0 recs
Don't bother

there is a desire from many here to take everything any Democrat says out of context.  The fact that Edwards was advocation strong diplomacy means nothing to them.  They just want to have a gotcha moment so they can continue to accuse Democrats of wanting to sell them out.  Its hogwash.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't bother

I read his speech, and it was a total disaster.  It was also given at a conference of neocons urging an attack on Iran by either Israel or the US.  The context makes his remarks much much worse.

by Matt Stoller 2007-01-24 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't bother

Did you read this from above?

   My analysis of Iran is if you start with the President of Iran coming to the UN in New York denouncing America and his extraordinary and nasty statements about the Holocaust and goal of wiping Israel off map, married with his attempts to obtain nuclear weapons over a long period of time, they are buying time. They are the foremost state sponsors of terrorism. If they have nuclear weapons, other states in the area will want them, and this is unacceptable.

   As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table. More serious sanctions need to be undertaken, which cannot happen unless Russia and China are seriously on board, which has not happened up until now. I would not want to say in advance what we would do, and what I would do as president, but there are other steps that need to be taken. Fore example, we need to support direct engagement with Iranians, we need to be tough. But I think it is a mistake strategically to avoid engagement with Iran.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't bother

and goal of wiping Israel off map

I'm sorry, but anyone who stills believes that the Iranian Pres said this has no credibility.

See Juan Cole for details.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Don't bother

Anyone who defends this Iranian President has no credibility with me.  They don't believe Israel has a right to exist and they host the likes of David Duke to deny the holocaust existed.  That doesn't mean we should go to war with them.  But it does mean that we should use every avenue of diplomacy to keep them from getting nuclear weapons.  

by Marylander 2007-01-24 12:05PM | 0 recs
give me a break

You folks don't even bother getting your facts straight, anymore, do you?  It's all just a game with you neocons, and you are so callous that you don't even lose sleep when hundred's of thousands of innocents die in order to further your bigoted world view.

by Disputo 2007-01-24 01:38PM | 0 recs
Hogwash

neocon huh.  So anyone that questions the bigotry out of Iran is a neocon with you.  I've dedicated my life to helping get good Democrats elected.  I've been an activist since volunteered for Walter Mondale when I was 12 years old.  But insult away. I've been insulted before.  I didn't back down then and I won't back down now.

by Marylander 2007-01-24 03:16PM | 0 recs
I could support edwards but

when he says something stupid he should be called on it.  I would be willing to write off this stupidity as no more than an effort to pander to the proIsraeli elements whose support is needed at the national level.  Any serious contender has to navigate that mine field.

by syvanen 2007-01-24 11:58AM | 0 recs
Patience will reward us.

We do have someone -- who I believe will run -- that knows what to do.

http://securingamerica.com/node/2163

Link is to General Clark's appearance last night on Hannity and Colmes. You can read the transcript or watch the video.

by jen 2007-01-24 12:07PM | 0 recs
is he still alive?

Didn't Clark just himself out of the game  by stepping on one those landmines.

by syvanen 2007-01-24 01:05PM | 0 recs
I Just Don't Get It

I am wholeheartedly for the negotiation option and agree that is a very promising prospect, as noted, given what we understand now about Iranian overtures in the past and recently.  All the more reason to question the tenor of Edwards remarks.

I am just trying to understand the context of this threat to Iran, as a worst case scenario, which I am alarmed to be hearing so much about lately.  Haven't we just done this?

So, it is OK for the US, more specifically the Armed Forces and the POTUS, to keep the option open for a unilateral attack on Iran if, and when, they develop nuclear weapons.  And it doesn't have to happen right away but could happen at some indeterminate time in the future; with or without the sanction of Congress or the UN.

And this is different from the situation in North Korea because Iran is actively supporting terrorists and insurgents opposed to the US?  And Pakistan, which is or is not harbouring terrorists and insurgents opposed to the US, and did or did not support the Taliban in Afghanistan, and did or did not provide nuclear technology to Iran AND Korea, and is or is not currently our ally in the War on Terrorism and IS already a nuclear power is not on this hit-list?  And it is OK for Saudi or Bahrain or Jordan to start their own peaceful nuclear programs because they are currently our allies?

OK, that makes a lot of sense.  Just one question.  When Iran does pursue its nuclear arms program and does develop nuclear weapons and does match the criteria cited which justifies an attack, how are we going to know?  How are we going to prove to the world that Iran has WMD's?  I suppose we could get Colin Powell to do another PowerPoint presentation at the UN.  Do you see the problem here?

Since when does a sovereign power have the right to attack another sovereign power over a weapons development?  Is that a casus belli these days?

Let us not forget that Iran actually denies it is developing nuclear weapons in the first place and that the intelligence community is currently debating the existence of other centrifuge facilities because there seems to be so little activity at Natanz.

I am with Matt on this one and I am surprised at the apologists for this position.  Yes, I expect a progressive Democrat to say that they rule out a pre-emptive strike, especially a nuclear one, on a foreign power in the absence of a declaration of war in congress or a mandate from the UN with congressional authorisation.

I was not opposed to Edwards at all, until now.  It seems he is taking his fundraising activities a bit too seriously.  How does this differ from what Perle was quoted as saying in Haaretz two days ago?

If you want Isreal protected by the US then enter into a binding mutual defense treaty and word it however you like.  You guys are scaring me, I thought we were on our way out of the dark ages.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-01-24 12:25PM | 0 recs
NATO

NATO is already in Afghanistan, helping with the African Union in Darfur and is providing assistance in Iraq and as recently as last October held a Diplomacy Conference in Israel.

What's the big deal thinking out loud about NATO, Iran and Israel?

by gregflynn 2007-01-24 12:36PM | 0 recs
Edwards states he is for dipolmacy First.

What is wrong that you want to stretch the meaning of this?  He doesn't insist on bombing Iran, and to go to the meeting in question was a good way for him to learn what all the others in the conference were about and what their ideas are and which way they would play it.  (kind of like keeping you enemies closer than your friends)

in an Q/A interview by Nermeen Shaikh

Question:
Okay, first of all, why is it the case that Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is more dangerous than North Korea for the US?

"For a variety of reasons. Number one, they're located in the most volatile region in the world. Number two, they have a president, a leader, who says the Holocaust never occurred and is committed to wiping Israel off the face of the map, who is a sworn enemy of the United States of America. I think the circumstances - the ideology and the location - make it a much more dangerous situation. Not to suggest for a minute that North Korea, that they're moving with their nuclear weapons program is not also dangerous because it is."

Question:
Does it warrant a military response from the United States should Iran come closer to the actual acquisition of nuclear weapons?

"I think at this point that what America should do is exhaust all diplomatic efforts, and that includes being willing to negotiate directly with the Iranians."

http://www.asiasource.org/news/special_r eports/edwards.cfm

For some of you that say oh this has turned me away from Edwards,  all I can say is that, you weren't very dedicated to him to let this get all stretched and bent out of shape anyway.

Matt, - I understand your thinking that if you saber rattle that will make the candidate a little more aware of the real issues on the table, and keeping in mind your prementioned dislike for the handling of his campaign, I'll take it as you really are just trying to boost them in the right direction.

I am for Edwards, and there is noway that I would believe that he would be a war monger, I have lived through presidents that were (Bush for 1) and Edwards is nothing like that. IMO

by dk2 2007-01-24 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards states he is for dipolmacy First.

For some of you that say oh this has turned me away from Edwards,  all I can say is that, you weren't very dedicated to him to let this get all stretched and bent out of shape anyway.

Well that's true.  But why should I be dedicated to a primary candidate at this point?  Why should I have made up my mind?  I was coming around to Edwards, now I'm back to not liking anybody, and apparently I'm not alone.  

by antidoto 2007-01-24 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards states he is for dipolmacy First.

I should say, I have signed up for his blog and joined those asking him to clarify his position on the matter.  So I will be watching for his response with great interest.

by antidoto 2007-01-24 01:14PM | 0 recs
It is still early - just stay tuned,

I am sure a lot of things said or otherwise will come up about each and everyone of the candidates before Nov 2008.

After all the republicans haven't even started their attacks yet in full earnest.

Edwards has a live online video session tonight:
Tonight at 9:30pm ET, Senator Edwards will host a live online video discussion to answer your questions about the real state of our union.

The video will stream live via our campaign website: http://www.johnedwards.com

You can submit your questions in advance, or you can submit them during the discussion.

Here are the ways you can submit:  
in the comments section of this post (please put the word "QUESTION" in all caps in the subject line)

via the live-chat (the link to live-chat appears on the right-hand menu of the blog)

email your question to askmeaquestion@johnedwards.com

text message the word "Hope" to 30644; this will sign you up for text alerts and then enable you to ask your question.

by dk2 2007-01-24 01:21PM | 0 recs
Does not matter

This is really unnecessary. All of the serious candidates have the same position on this.

So it really does not matter unless you are going to support Kucinich or vote for the Green party perhaps.

And Edwards has always been in favor of diplomacy. He emphasized diplomacy and doing more on the economic and sanctions front in this speech, not war.

by Progressive America 2007-01-24 12:50PM | 0 recs
The really disturbing part about this

is the company he is keeping:

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archive s/001890.php

by SusanCLE 2007-01-24 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The really disturbing part about this

Would you have said the same thing about Lincoln when he chose members of his opposition to be in his cabinet?  Sorry, but I don't want a candidate who only surrounds himself with people that agree with him.  We've already got one of those, and it ain't workin' out!

by gas28man 2007-01-24 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Company Edwards at that Meeting

I find it interesting that he was the only Dem there. Perhaps instead of the accusation that he is pandering, instead he is perceived as a leader.  Moreover, he got to hear (if he had time) what the Re-pubs had to say.  Helps when debating in the general election later.

by benny06 2007-01-24 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Company Edwards at that Meeting

Or maybe they just couldn't book Lieberman?

by kvenlander 2007-01-24 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Company Edwards at that Meeting

Perhaps they didn't want Lieberman.  The political players asked to participate from the US were mainly non-Jewish in faith.

by benny06 2007-01-24 04:26PM | 0 recs
Two words: Israel Lobby

No candidate, ESPECIALLY a Democrat, dares take on those U.S. people who, I think mistakenly, believe loyalty to rightwing Israeli policies is the only way to prevent another Holocaust. The crazy notion that Israel can survive without eventually making peace with its neighbors is likely to get Israel obliterated one day.

We're seeing this in the hysterical responses to Jimmy Carter's book.

We've seen it in the Israel Lobby's successful effort to get Cynthia McKinney booted out of Congress -- twice. (Yes -- she was a wack job -- but we have plenty of those whose opponents don't get the national support hers have.)

And we'll see it in the 2008 campaign: all the Dems will adopt Likudnik talking points.

HRC certainly knows the score. She was pilloried in New York before her first senate run for having been polite at a diplomatic function to Yasser Arafat's wife. She is not going to risk that kind of thing again -- it is a distraction from her campaign.

Edwards is no different and no worse. And no better.

It is depressing.

by janinsanfran 2007-01-24 04:02PM | 0 recs
Flashes of Hawk are good for poker

Come on guys, do we want to go with the smart guy or the belligerent one.  Edwards is a first class strategist/negotiator.  Best trial lawyer since Lincoln.  You gotta keep 'em guessing.  You can't show your hand.  Is he bluffing?

by Feral Cat 2007-01-24 04:27PM | 0 recs

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