Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

One of our board members is interviewed by The Guardian in this video.

And speaking of Hillary, she was in Concord yesterday and was asked if she would take “the nuclear option with Iran off the table.” She responded “I think with the intelligence estimate we need to get to diplomacy and get talking about–”

Clinton was interrupted by the questioner who asked “will you take [the nuclear option] off the table completely.” Her response was “Um, well, we’ve had, probably–what?–ten presidents since the dawn of the nuclear age and it’s American policy not to talk about what is or isn’t on the table, so I’m going to stick to that policy.”


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Mitt Romney’s bad day yesterday just didn’t seem to end.

LONDONDERRY – A former CIA analyst turned critic of the U.S. tactics in the war on terror tried to “Ask Mitt Anything” yesterday and found the former Bay State governor knows how to sidestep a diplomatic incident.

Ray McGovern, who has gained national attention as a critic of President Bush’s policies, asked Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to comment on a news item about the U.S. assessment of Iran’s nuclear intentions. The question came up during a campaign appearance at Insight, a Londonderry firm which designs and manufactures tactical gear for the military.

McGovern quoted an Israeli source who said American intelligence is flawed and vowed that Israel would not let U.S. policy be based on a faulty assumption. Then he asked Romney how he feels about allowing Israel to dictate U.S policy.

Romney replied that he was not convinced the Israelis were trying to dictate American policy.

“There are 16 different intelligence agencies saying Iran continues to develop the fuel they need (for nuclear weapons),” he said. Meanwhile, Iran has only stopped building the warhead.

“That’s relevant, of course,” Romney said. But nonetheless, he said Iran could have a bomb in two to four years. Romney said he favors tightening sanctions against Iran and repeated a call to indict Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for inciting genocide, quoting remarks Ahmadinejad made about wiping Israel off the map.

And the incident in which a New Hampshire Peace Action staff member was ejected from the event made the Concord Monitor also.

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Question: An intelligence report released earlier this week said Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program since 2003. Will you take military and nuclear options off the table regarding Iran?

Answer: I’m glad you mentioned it. It’s called the national intelligence estimate. The short answer is I am not in favor of going to war with Iran, period. I don’t think it’s the right thing, the smart thing for the United States to do. I have spoken out against President [Bush] trying to maneuver circumstances in such a way to move us toward that.

[rest is paraphrased]: She called for aggressive diplomacy with a combination of sticks and carrots.

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I went to see Edwards tonight in Manchester and asked a question about nukes and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and he was pretty strong, called himself ‘out there’ on the issue in calling for the US to lead a worldwide effort to eliminate nukes; referenced the Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger plan and agreeing with my point about the US’ double standard on nukes – added himself that we are not just stockpiling them but developing new ones, that it was part of the problem he’d referred to earlier about Iran and Pakistan, we can’t deal with this issue on an ‘ad hoc’ basis one country and one situation at a time but needed a comprehensive plan to get rid of them.

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John Edwards spoke to a packed room at Hart’s Turkey Farm today.

Question: If elected, what will your policy be towards Pakistan? In my view the most dangerous international situation confronting our country.

Answer: It certainly is at this time a very, very dangerous situation. Lets start with the problem and then I’ll tell you what I’ll do.

The problem is you have an unstable leader, Musharraf who has promised all these democratic and economic reforms that he has not followed through on. You have a very radical element within Pakistan, and they have a nuclear weapon. And they are in constant conflict, particularly with India, over the issue of Kashmir. That’s the background for what’s happening, and then again, of course, you’ve got Musharraf declaring the equivalent of marshal law, suspending the government and suspending the constitution.

So, what should America do? The danger of course is, if he gets disposed, some dangerous radical group takes over the government and then they have a nuclear weapon which they can choose to use or turn over to a terrorist organization. So there’s a great risk associated with this.

Let me say one thing before I got into specifics about Pakistan because I think it relates to why I think they’re so dangerous. Pakistan has a nuclear weapon. A.Q. Khan, who developed the nuclear weapon for Pakistan, has spread this technology around the world. And I think the notion that over the long term, over the next 50-75 years, America can successfully stop the spread of nuclear weapons in an ad hoc way –IE: Iran’s about to get a nuclear weapon so everyone’s focuses on what we’re going to do with Iran; we’re worried about North Korea is doing; we see what’s happening in Pakistan–that idea, that will not, that, you can’t sustain that. Sooner or later this stuff is going to get out. It’s too easy to spread. So the question is what should America do for the LONG TERM and I’ll tell you what I’ll do with Pakistan.

For the long term, and I think the answer to this–and what I would do as President– is to lead a long term initiative to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Pakistan is the living, breathing example of what we’re talking about.

Now, what should we be trying to accomplish in Pakistan? There should be several things we’re trying to accomplish. One is, the northwest part of Pakistan–which is Al-Qaeda’s been operating and where many speculate bin Laden’s may be–that part of the country needs to be under control. Second, they need to hold the elections that have been promised to be held in January. Third, we need to be supporting the democratic reformers–those within the Pakistani government–who are actually trying to sustain some level of democratic reform. And, we need to make sure their nuclear weapons are safe, that they’re not going to get into the hands of someone that shouldn’t be in the hands of. I think those are the basics of which we’re trying to accomplish there, all of which are aimed at creating some level of stability.

There are a number of things we can do. We’ve given about 10 billion dollars in aid to Pakistan. We’ve asked for very little in return. In fact, a lot of that aid has gone to empowering Musharraf as opposed to helping the Pakistani people. We need to use the aid and reform the way we’re providing aid. That’s number one. That’s our leverage.

Second, we have very little expertise within our State Department–within the American government–on Pakistan. The history of Pakistan, the Pakistani people, what they’re sensitive about, what they care about, and we need real experts within our government. Sounds basic and fundamental, but it’s frightening to see how little we know. And how little expertise we have within the American government on the issue of Pakistan.

Third, instead of just dealing with this issue alone, we should be doing it–like a lot of things–multilaterally, which means we need to bring other countries in who have as much of an interest as we do, and [inaudible].

Last, we need an intense diplomatic effort so that we, and our other friends around the world, are working diplomatically, both with the Pakistani government and with the friends of Pakistan, to ratchet up pressure on Musharraf to do the right thing.

So I think it’s all those things in combination that are not so simple–it’s a pretty sophisticated way of dealing with it over the long term but that’s what I think we ought to be doing.

At the end of the day, the way to keep these situations under control is we ought to be leading the world in the long term initiative to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Question: Achieving a peaceful and stable Iraq requires more than the withdrawal of US troops. Please tell us what thoughts you have regarding the role of the US in reconstruction, political development, and regional diplomacy.

Answer: The key to stability in Iraq–and I think this is the one thing everyone agrees on, we just differ on how to get there– is there has to be some political compromise between the Sunni and the Shi’a. Without that political compromise there can’t be civility. Because it the underlying foundation for all the violence.

The question becomes–and this is where we diverge–how do you maximize pressure on the Sunni and Shi’a leadership to try to reach some political compromise?

Bush’s argument, which I think is ridiculous, is that we keep pouring American money and troops and sooner or later things will get better. That really–that will not work. It’s not worked for years and it’s not going to work now.

What I would do is I would make it first clear that we are leaving by pulling 40-50,000 combat troops out immediately, and then I would continue a steady withdrawal over about 9 or 10 months so that all combat troops were out by then. That would be accompanied by an intense effort to bring the Sunni and Shi’a to the table and pushing them to reach a political compromise. Because they see the handwriting on the wall. America is not going to continue to prop them up.

I do think–I would get the combat troops out and end combat missions entirely. I do think we have a longer moral obligation to help them rebuilding their infrastructure [questioner said “considering we destroyed it”]. Correct, that’s exactly right. For that reason we should do that.

Now, I think the other piece of this is crucial and this is part of your question [looking at the questioner] is what do we do with the other countries in the region? What do we do with particularly Iran and Syria who have been largely ignored in this effort to stabilize Iraq? Well, the Iranians have a clear interest in a stable Iraq. I mean, if you think about this through the eyes of the Iranians, they don’t want a million refugees coming across the border, and they also don’t want to see a broader Middle East conflict between Shi’a and Sunni because Shi’a are about 10-15% of the Muslim world. About 85-90% are Sunni. So if you’re a Shi’a dominated country, which Iran is, a broader Middle East conflict is very dangerous for them. So, they have an interest in a stable Iraq, and the Syrians are different but they also have an interest in a stable Iraq –they’re also concerned about refugees, economic stability, etc–so I would intensify the diplomatic effort, not just with Iran and Syria but with Turkey and all the countries in that region. Because all of them have an interest in a stable Iraq.

And I would get all combat troops out of Iraq and end combat missions but I don’t think we should abandon the region. I think that we should keep a naval presence in the Persian Gulf, I think that we probably need some quick reaction forces in Kuwait–because of any thing that can happen in that part of the world–and maybe it’s safe [?] for us to increase our presence in Afghanistan because things have gone badly there. The Taliban has reemerged, the heroin trade is way up and particularly in the south the Taliban’s strength has reemerged.

So I think those are the things I would do over the long term.

You know there’s this issue in northern Iraq where the Turks are right now, and that’s an issue where we need intense diplomacy with the Turkish government to prevent that situation from exploding.

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Question: unable to hear.

Answer: About Iraq and how to bring them home [meaning the military]? Victory and success is the way to bring them home.

The young men and women we have in Iraq and we have in Afghanistan, are keeping us safe. They are making a great sacrifice and their families are above and beyond what most people are asked to do. That’s the unfortunate part [of] defending freedom and democracy. But make no mistake about it, this is not for some useless purpose. This is for an enormously important purpose.

They are keeping us safe against Islamic terrorism by engaging it over there and dealing with it. Now, what is the objective in Iraq? What is the best outcome–what step beyond for a moment and say to ourselves “what would be the best outcome for America with regard to Iraq and what would be the worst outcome”. The best outcome for American would be for Iraq that was stable and would be an ally of the United States in the terrorist war against us. That would be the best outcome. Forget Democrats, Republicans, presidential candidates, just America. We’re all Americans. What’s the best outcome?

What’s the worst outcome in Iraq? The worst outcome in Iraq is if it were to become a haven–if it became a state sponsor of terrorism like Iran is. If it became an ally of Iran; that would be worst possible situation for us considering Iran wants to become a nuclear power. So that’s the best and that’s the worst.

Why do we have our military there? The military is there to get the best possible outcome for our country, the United States, which is a stable Iraq which acts as ally for us against the terrorist war against us. Why the Democrats want to pull them out prematurely; why the Democrats announced all the way back in July and August that we lost in Iraq. Harry Reid said “America lost in Iraq”. This was before any of the results from The Surge; this is before General Petraeus testified. Right before General Petraeus the third ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives said “if The Surge works, it’ll be bad for the democratic party.” Who cares? Who cares if it’s bad for the Democratic party? Who cares if it’s bad for the Republican party? Who cares if it’s bad for me or Hillary Clinton, or anybody else? All we care about is: what is the best possible result for our country in Iraq?

I said this before I knew what General Petraeus was going to say; [I] said it in June and July: lets listen to them more rather than the politicians. Back last January; December, January, and February, I spent some time meeting with the sailors, soldiers, and marines, different levels just to talk to them. So much in the media about this. So much in politics about this–I guess that’s true with any war, it has to be?–but I wanted to get their idea. And to a person what they told me was “we can be successful. Give us a chance. Give us a chance to be successful and don’t pull us out of here prematurely because you have some sort of presidential election going on. We can be successful, we can stabilize the place, and we can get to the point where they can be an ally for us, but it’s going to take some patience and it’s going to take some commitment, and it’s going to take some courage, something they [the soldiers] have in great abundance. The result in Iraq should be a stable Iraq that acts as an ally for us in the terrorist war against us, not a premature withdrawal.

And the last thing we should do is return to the very irresponsible things Democratic candidates did this summer. Some of the voted for giving the enemy a timetable for our retreat. Have you ever heard of anything more irresponsible in a time? Why, why–I don’t care what your position on Iraq. I don’t care if you’re for it, against it, or in doubt about it–why would you ever think that if you had to retreat, you would give the enemy your timetable for retreat? Doesn’t that mean politics trumps common sense in a situation like that? I mean, a retreating army should never be required to give a schedule of its retreat to its enemy, unless we’ve let political stuff get so confused in our heads that focusing on what’s in the best interest of our country becomes [inaudible].

I’m not questioning anybody’s patriotism. I don’t think it’s a question of patriotism. You think the Democrats care about the troops as much as we do. Democrats want a good result in Iraq as much as we do. I honestly think they do not properly appreciate the danger of the Islamic terrorist against us. It’s the reason they never use the words Islamic terrorist in their debates. They refuse to use those words. I think it’s more than just refusing to use the words; I think it’s more than bowing at the alter of political correctness. I think it comes from a basic misunderstanding of the danger we face. I don’t think our soldiers have that basic misunderstanding.

Question two: the Democrats seem to want to take money away from Pakistan as a way of–the Democrats the money away that we give to Pakistan which I think they use to support their military. What’s your thoughts on what’s happening in Pakistan and how we should go–[he was cut off by Giuliani].

Answer: My thought about what’s happening in Pakistan is it’s very delicate. It’s truly a very delicate situation. And it’s one that, those of us running for office should tread very, very lightly on we’re not sitting there making decisions. And having been a person who had to make very difficult decisions as mayor of New York City–and some of the people running have not had that experience. They’ve never run a city, they’ve never run a state, they’ve never run a government, they’ve never had the saftey and security of millions of people on their shoulders. They tend to just say things without thinking about it the position the President [Bush] is in. And I were to say this: if the President were President Bush or a Democratic president the objective in Pakistan is, first of all, to keep the government of Pakistan together.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons. To make sure those nuclear weapons are in hands of someone seemingly responsible. And then, to sure Pakistan works with us in helping to route out and remove the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and also to help us find bin Laden–which I still think is an enormously important strategic objective. So we have to deal with this whole Musharraf thing from the point of view of moving them along toward democracy; moving them along to a fairer system of government; but at the same time not pushing buttons when we don’t know what will come out the other end.

So, I would give a lot of credence [?] here to what our government wants to do. I think this is an area where the President and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, have a very delicate job they’re trying to achieve here and lets give them a little support. And lets give them the benefit of they know a little bit more about this situation than the Democrats running for president and the Republicans.

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Question: UN Resolution 687 was approved by the UN Security Council which ended the first Gulf War, which calls for a nuclear free Middle East. Do you support this proposal and, if so, what steps will you take to encourage a nuclear free Middle East?

Answer: Well, here’s what I think we should do. Obviously UN Resolutions ___ [inaudible] all the time don’t get enforced so they’re only worth as much as the great powers are willing to invest in making them enforceable. I want to come at not just by focusing on the Middle East alone, but by focusing on generally of the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. The reason I say that is this: There’s been a lot of focus on Iran and a lot of focus on North Korea. Understandable. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorists. They are pursuing a nuclear program, and they’ve said some horrific things about Israel.

So they are a problem just as North Korea has said serious things that we have to be mindful. But, we are in a very difficult position to try to mobilize the community to reduce nuclear weapons there when we haven’t made any effort on our part. Now there is a bipartisan tradition that George H.W. Bush–George 41–he negotiated the last major nuclear non-proliferation treaty and it called for the United States and Russia to start reducing their stockpiles.

As far as the overall scheme that says our countries should not develop nuclear weapons but we’ll supply them with peaceful nuclear power.

Laconia Citizen article

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