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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

On Sunday November 18, John McCain appeared at Jack’s a wonderful locally owned eatery.

Question: On your first day in office, what are the first three steps you’re going to take to end the War in Iraq?

Answer: First three steps will be to continue the strategy by that time we’ll have been even more successful which it is now. Anybody who tells you it’s not successful has not been there and does not know the facts on the ground.

Now everyone’s entitled to their opinions but not everyone is entitled to their facts. The facts are the Anwar Province is quiet. The facts are the neighborhoods in Baghdad are quiet. The facts are causalities are down. The facts are the attacks are down. Those are facts. The Iraqi military are more and more able to take more of the responsibilities. Those are indisputable facts.

Now, Democrats will say it’s lost and they want to set a date for withdrawal and they want to go back to failed strategy that failed for nearly four years. I don’t want to do that. Too many brave young Americans–like Matthew Stanley whose bracelet I wear [he pulled it out from under his sleeve to show me] who have already sacrificed–and I’m not going to sacrifice more than a failed strategy [in audible] or set a date for withdrawal.

I can only tell you what the president of Iran said a couple of three weeks ago. The president of Iran–remember the same guy who’s dedicated to the extinction of Israel, the country that’s building nuclear weapons, the same country that’s exporting the most explosive devices, lethal devices, to killing young Americans–he said “Americans will leave Iraq and leave a void. We will fill the void.”

I don’t think it’s in America’s national interest to see Iran having control over Iraq or any other terrorist organization or state sponsors of terror. So I will continue what has already been successful because as of January 2009 and I will be pleased with the progress and I will be proud to have a leader such as General Petraues leading these men and women who are serving and I will be most proud of the men and women who are serving and done such a magnificent job that are the best of America.

That’s what I will do.

Question two came from a boy about 12 years old: Do you have a plan set out for pulling troops out of the Iraq War?

Answer: Yes I do and those plans will be directly related to the success we are achieving and we are turning more and more of those responsibilities to the Iraqis.

The key is not pulling out. The key is the Iraqi military doing the things the American military are doing today and thereby reducing American causalities. That’s what’s been happening over there: our causalities have been going down because the Iraqi military have had greater and greater control and the people are turning against Al-Qaeda. The people are sick and tired of the cruelty of Al-Qaeda and they’re cooperating with us. We are succeeding.

Let me say again–and I didn’t mean to be brusque in my answer to your question [nodding to the woman who asked the first question]–my friends, all of us are sad, all of are frustrated, all of us are grieved at the sacrifice that’s been made and the mismanagement of this conflict by Rumsfeld AND the President of the United States who is responsible.

For nearly four years they employed a failed strategy and we sacrificed enormously for it. And I was the only one who was running for President of the United States that said “that strategy is a failure and we had to stop it” and Republicans criticized me severely for being disloyal. And I advocated the strategy that is now succeeding. I did that, my friends, because I know more. And I know strategy and I have the experience and the background to lead.

I understand the frustration and the sorrow that people feel. My goodness, there’s nothing more precious than American blood and now we’re approaching 4,000 [American deaths] as you know. But I still believe the consequences of failure are absolute disaster.

Question: Please comment about Pakistan and what direction we need to take there.

Answer: Pakistan is a very delicate situation right now. And, by the way, I’ve been to Pakistan. I know Musharraf. I’ve been to [inaudible] and Musharraf is a man who I think is personally very honest and uncorrupt. I think he’s the kind of the classic military guy that came into power–and when he came into power Pakistan was a failed stated. It was full of corruption, including when Benazir Bhutto, the one we’re talking to now was in charge. Her husband was corrupt. Lets have a little straight talk ™–and it was a failed state.

What has happened to Musharraf has happened to a lot people that assume power. That is, he began to believe he’s the only person who who can save his country. And that’s happened a lot of times in history. I’m glad to see that he has said he will step down as head of the army; that’s progress. He’s also said he’ll hold elections in January; that’s progress. But my friends, we’ve got to lift martial law and we’ve got to let the political process move forward. There is some progress there.

Let me just remind you Pakistan has nuclear weapons. They have nuclear weapons. Now we’re helping safeguard them, but the if the wrong kind of government came to power in Pakistan, we’d be the first people to leave. The second thing I think is important to recognize is there is a strong Islamic movement in Pakistan, including in the Pakistani military. I still believe–and I’m not going to bother you with too many details–the reason why Musharraf made the deal on those areas where they gave sanctuaries because he was suffering a lot of causalities–his military was–he’s starting to get some blowback from his military people.

So, what do we need in Pakistan? I think we out to have a lot of intense, but a lot of rather private negotiations, rather than some candidates for president make threats of us cutting off aid immediately, etc etc, because you know, if you’re going to point a gun at somebody you better be willing to pull the trigger.

And I’d also like to remind you, again, that back in the 1970s we all decided the Shah of Iran had to go because he was corrupt…well the Shah of Iran left and you know what we got in return. So this thing has to be handled with great care and sensitivity and I hope we can bring about a resolution which will then give the people of Pakistan the kind of government they deserve and not the give another leg up–or advantage–to the radical Islamic groups the President of Pakistan as you know.

I hope I didn’t over answer that question.

In his closing speech, McCain said: Let me just say, in conclusion, thank you for coming. But the great challenge of the 21st Century is a struggle against Radical Islamic Extremism. It is a huge force of evil. It wants to destroy everything we stand for and believe in. If after 9/11, if I had said to you “by the way, there’s going to be some doctors in Glasgow Scotland, some DOCTORS, that are listening to the message and then get on the internet and become suicide bombers” you would’ve said “that’s unlikely.” That’s what’s happening today. They just had arrests in Demark, in Germany. The head of the CIA said Al-Qaeda sales in the United States of America. My friends, this is the struggle we’re in.

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Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico was on The Exchange with Laura Knoy. Some great questions were asked about the War in Iraq, diplomacy with Iran, nuclear disarmament, and energy policy.

Listen to it here

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As Hillary Clinton aims to regain momentum in tonight’s presidential debate, new videos have surfaced on YouTube with young voters asking her questions that are similar to the fake question posed by a Grinnell college student last week.

There is no direct indication that the new footage, apparently taken from an October 16 event at a high school in Salem, New Hampshire, demonstrates any concerted effort by the Clinton Campaign to plant questions. (The campaign’s media and Internet staff did not immediately respond to requests from The Nation for comment.) But in an era where web videos can spread fast and shape the views of activists and voters, the clips may feed the narrative that Clinton’s tightly-run campaign is shielding her from voters’ scrutiny.

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John Edwards spoke at Plymouth State University today. His stump speech included:

…[W]e’re going to talk about two things: The War in Iraq and what’s happening with Iran right now…I think you, as New Hampshire Primary voters, deserve something from Presidential candidates. Every Presidential candidate says they’re going to end the War, but you deserve more than that. You deserve to know know specifically what they intend to do to end the war because, if they cannot give you specifics, they have not thought out what they’re going to do to end this war.

I think there should be basic questions every candidate should be required to answer. First, do they have a specific plan? How many troops are they going to withdraw? How quickly will they draw down, how quickly will the war come to an end? Second (and I’ll answer all these questions for you for myself), how many combat troops are they going to have in Iraq at the end of their first year in office?

Let me answer those two first. I will draw 40-50,000 troops out immediately and I will have all combat troops out in Iraq in nine months.

Third, are they going to continue combat missions in Iraq? Because–for me, I will not, just to be clear.– I will not continue combat missions. To me, continuing combat missions in Iraq is continuing the War! And then last last, are they going to keep permanent bases in Iraq, to station combat troops in Iraq? I will not.”

…This occupation has to be brought to an end for America’s sake and the sake of the rest of the world.

…I want to talk about Iran for just a second. Because y’all have watched Bush and Cheney rattle their sabers on Iran, for those of who watched the lead up to Iran, it’s a frightening thing to watch because we’ve heard this song before…the Neocons are at the same game again. The same game!

…We have to stop Bush and Cheney. We cannot let them continue on this march to war with Iran.

Question: I agree with what you’ve said: we never should’ve gone in, the whole concept of preemptive war makes me want to vomit. But we did go there and we have destroyed the infrastructure of this country. There are hundreds of thousands of civilians dying because of our destabilizing. What do we owe [the Iraqi] children who have had their education and futures taken away, and their clean water and food? What happens to them when we leave?

Answer: I think that’s a very fair question. I would say several things in response to that. One is no one believes, even Bush doesn’t believe, there’s a military solution in Iraq. And there’s not. Not unless, and until, the Sunni and Shī‘a leadership reach some political reconciliation there will continue to be significant violence in Iraq.

…I think we have some ongoing responsibility to help them with rebuilding their infrastructure, which is what you specifically asked about. I’ll go a step beyond that. I think that we shift the responsibility to them to reach a political compromise, which I think is what this proposal does, taking 40-50,000 troops out of Iraq says “we’re leaving. We’re not just talking about it, we’re actually leaving” and continuing it while we put pressure on them to reach a political compromise, I think maximizes the chances for that compromise to be reached.

I do think we need to engage the other countries–particularly the Syrians and Iranians–as we’re leaving and no longer occupying Iraq, they have an intense self-interest in a stable Iraq. For example, in Iran you don’t want to see a million refugees coming across your western border. And you also don’t want to see a broader Middle Eastern conflict between Sunni and Shī‘a because you’re very much _____[inaudible] in a mostly Shī‘a country.

I do think over the longer term, there’s the responsibility for the President to do something that Bush has never done which is to think about the possibility of bad things happen. And, anybody who says to you “this is my plant from Iraq–which I think you deserve from every presidential candidate–and I’m telling you it will be successful, they are not telling the truth because we are in a bad situation and the choices are not attractive. There’s no way to predict with certainty what’s going to happen.

What we have to do is exercise our best judgment and maximize the chances for success. We’ve had four plus years now of Bush lying and misleading about what happening in Iraq. The American people should know the truth about how hard it is and how unpredictable it is.

Two things we have to prepare for are the possibility starts to spread outside the boarders of Iraq. Secondly, the worst I guess, is genocide; the Shī‘a will try to systematically eliminate the Sunni. I think that both cases we have to be prepared–with the international community. Very different from than what we’ve seen in unilateral ____ [inaudible] with Bush–with the international community for those possibilities.

Question 2: Will you negotiate with Iran without pre-conditions?

Answer: It depends on what level of negotiation you’re asking about. I think America should engage directly with Iranians, [inaudible] Iraq and on the nuclear question. I think in both cases with should engage and negotiate with them directly.

I would not, as President, personally meet with Ahmadinejad unless, and until, there was serious evidence that it would be productive because he’s used America as a weapon in his PR campaign around the world. We have to be smart, I’m talking now about the highest level, about what the President does with Ahmandinejad.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t engage them. We should engage them. We should negotiate with them directly, there is no question. Not just on Iraq, but on the nuclear question. For example, on the nuclear question, I think there’s a very clear path for America. If we work –and by the way, this quick declaration of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which Bush did and the Senate led the way for, was done without consulting in anyway our friends in Europe. It was stupid, profoundly stupid because the Europeans are the ones with economic leverage with Iran. The Europeans are the ones we need to work with to try and stop this. And once again, Bush and Cheney acted unilaterally, ignored our friends in Europe…– but here’s what I think America should do. We should engage our friends in Europe who have economic leverage, the European banking system and we should put a proposal on the table for the Iranian people in a very open way because this is one of the most pro-American population in the Muslim world. They rallied for America after September 11th on the streets of Tehran.

So what I think America should be doing–America and our friends in Europe–is say “give up your nuclear ambitions and what we’ll do is help you with your economy (they’re economy is in shambles). If you don’t give up your nuclear ambitions, there will be economic consequences. There has to both. They have to see the downside and the upside to giving up their nuclear ambitions. Just to be clear, there’s a great dispute– including with former leaders– going on inside of Iran right now about this ____ [inaudible] and Ahmandinejad is the most bellicose and vocal about it to the rest of the world. This is like the rest of the world saying “America is like Bush.” America is not like Bush…

…My point is, if we make a reasonable proposal, very publicly with our friends in Europe, to the Iranian people, I think there’s a real potential for success if we recognize the political instability that Ahmadinejad is faced with in his own country.

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In his stump speech, Romney said:

…[W]e also have a threat of extraordinary nature…

…You know it’s unusual to have an asymmetric foe of the nature of this jihadist movement; this fundamentalist Islamic perspective that wants to cause the collapse of all moderate nations, Islamic and Western, and replace them with religious Caliphic. The people who pursue this course are not stupid, they’re crazy, but not stupid–and there’s a difference–[hearty applause] they look at the world and they see how our economy works and they say “given the nature of the interconnectedness of the American economy, the Western economy, and the weapons they’re seeking, they think they can bring us down.

And we face challenges pretty unusual. This jihadist foe…it’s time to have someone in Washington who will say “I will stop all petty politics and the score settling and I’m actually going to get the job done.

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Question: What is your approach to arms control?

Answer: Well, probably the key aspect for arms control is making sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear bomb, that’s number one [hearty applause]. The world changes dramatically if Iran has a nuclear bomb. And if someone like [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad does what he’s says he’ll do, which is he’d provide nuclear material to groups–didn’t even say nations–to groups who oppose the West, the world where multiple nations start having nuclear weapons increases the chance of them being used dramatically, particularly if the nations that have that fissile material, are nations led by nations as delusional as Ahmadinejad.

It’s important for us, in my view, to tighten down dramatically the sanctions on Iran, not just us but other nations and asking other nations to do so, economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions.

I’d indict Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention –speaking about eliminating another nation, that’s genocide–I’d also make a much greater effort to inform the people in his country about the peril of becoming a nuclear nation. Because, let me tell you, if they develop nuclear material, and it gets into the hands of someone who actually uses it someday, the world will respond, not just to the person who used it–or the party who used it–but also to the nation that supplied it. You don’t want to be a nuclear nation. You do not want to have that risk, that risk of becoming a member of the “circle of suspects” if something like that is ever used. So I want to make sure they don’t get The Bomb and, of course, I would be one of those who is adamantly in favor of making sure the military option is available to us so we keep them from having nuclear weapons.

Now, I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament. And I know there are many people who think we have too many nuclear warheads right now, but with what’s going on in the world, I’m not one of them.

I also want to make sure we pursue, aggressively, our strategic defense initiative so that we can keep rogue missiles from coming in to our country or to other countries of good people around the world.

So my hope is number one, lets keep them from getting the bomb and lets make sure we see Pakistan become more stable so we don’t have to worry about their bomb as well.

Question two: Will you keep the offensive space weapons programs.

Answer: We’re not going to sacrifice new technology to protect us. The reason is is because there are evil people in the world and there will continue to be evil people in the world. And that’s frightening thing.

…As weapons become more and more frightening, nuclear weapons, then America has to continue to be at the cutting edge to make sure we’re ahead and to protect our people and never find ourselves in a position where evil people take over our freedoms and our lives.

I will do whatever it takes to protect America. I’ll take any action necessary. I’ll go to any level necessary. We’ll invest whatever’s necessary to make sure we can lead the world.

Question three: will you comment on the reinstatement of the draft.

Answer: I wouldn’t. I want to take our troops up by about 100,000. That may require us to improve the offer we make to our troops so we’re able to bring more into the military…

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Yesterday, John Edwards outlined a five-point strategy to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“As a nation, we stand today at a fork in the road with Iran. We have a real choice about the direction we’ll take. One path will replay the last seven years. It leads toward a dark future of belligerence, aggression, and war. We need a new direction—one that will defuse the Iran threat, rather than aggravate it, one that will make America safer, not make the world more dangerous,” Edwards said in a campaign press release.

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While most peace activists are evaluating the Democrats, I would rank Rudolph Giuliani as the most dangerous of all the presidential candidates in a long while, because his Iraq and Iran policies are the work of the most hawkish neo-conservatives who promoted the Iraq quagmire and now want to bomb Iran as soon as possible. Though far better than Giuliani, Sen. Joseph Biden is the worst Democratic candidate because of his demand that partition be imposed on Iraq. The front-running Democrat, Sen. Hillary Clinton, is so ambiguous on Iraq that she risks losing the general election by driving enough of the progressive vote to inevitable third party candidates.

Giuliani is advised by a network of neo-con hawks led by Norman Podhoretz who call for a Cold War-type struggle against “Islamofascism,” the immediate bombing of Iran [Commentary, June 2007], the right to assassinate the leaders of Iran and North Korea, and the assumption that all American Muslims are suspect. [New York Times]. They are a well-organized machine with millions of dollars available to attack MoveOn and bankroll campus campaigns against the new foreign enemy of Islamofascism, which they believe can and must be militarily defeated.

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