The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.
Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.
News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.
It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.
It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election. Mr. Romney has repeatedly criticized the president as showing weakness on Iran and failing to stand firmly with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat.
This is bad news for Romney and the radical Right. The Iranians were supposedly intractable and would never agree to any sincere and constructive talks. So they’re wrong again. This not particularly news as talks with Iran have been going on through back diplomatic channels for years so it is the culmination of the Obama administrations stick and carrot approach.’ We don’t even have to dust off the old crystal ball to predict some of the conservative punditsphere’s reaction and spin: If the Obama White House even agrees to talks, that is a sign of weakness, the Iranians should simply cave into all demands before talks even begin, who cares about helping Iranian leaders save face before talks. As one commenter here notes, and some at the NYT article, negotiating is for the weak. A strong and exceptionalist nation – which in conservospeak means bomb first, negotiate later – doesn’t talk, they demand. The general fear among left of center blogs about Romney, considering that his foreign policy team includes Crazy John Bolton and some of the same neocons that guided Bush-era foreign policy is that Romney will start a war with Iran. I think it was a pundit at the New York Magazine (I’m not sure and cannot find the link) that argued that Obama was more likely to go with some kind of bombing or strategic missile strike if Iran did not open up its nuclear energy development for international monitoring. The reasoning goes that America is still feeling burned by the Iraq fiasco. Soldiers and their families are still suffering the consequences with the full range of issues from integrating back into civilian work life to PTSD and physical disabilities. Those families, many of whom lean conservative would absolutely turn on a Romney administration starting another counter productive war. Romney’s poll ratings would drop like lead at any attempts to start a war. The conservatives who hang out at and are mentally submerged in the all war all the time mentality of sites like The Free Republic, Breitbart and Hot Air greatly overestimate the actual troop’s desire to get bogged down in yet another mid-east debacle. American do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but they do not want another ground war in the Middle-East, New poll: Majority of Americans oppose military strike on Iran. If it should come down to Israel coming under attack, that changes things, with the majority of Americans supporting intervening to defend Israel. Which is what Obama has pledged he would do. This last bit is how the Right is framing the issue. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that an Iranian attack on Israel would be the same as Iran committing national suicide. Conservatives want to appear like the tough guys with the never-ending saber-rattling, but they just end up looking like insecure weenies in light of the overwhelming American superiority in our ability to launch missile and air strikes.
Just a reminder of the last time Republicans broke bad on someone: Iraq: the rationale for, cost of, and occupation plans following America’s conquest (DOS, DOD, CIA, FBI)
Insufficient terrorism preparedness and prevention, domestic and international, before and after 9/11 (CIA, FBI, DOD, etc.);
Halliburton’s Corruption. In 2004, Pentagon auditors found that Halliburton had not adequately accounted for $1.8 billion of the bill it sent to the United States government for its work in Iraq and Kuwait.
Iraq’s spiral into a near genocidal sectarian war
Abu-Gate is the term occasionally found identifying the allegations of acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at Abu Ghraib Enemy Prisoner of War camp in Iraq.
The Treasonous “Outing” of Valeria Plame. After former Ambassador Joseph Wilson exposed Bush’s Niger uranium claim as a lie, two Bush administration officials sought revenge by exposing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent, thus endangering her life and the lives of her network of informants, and committing a most serious crime.
Politically Manipulating Intelligence. America’s $30 billion intelligence agencies are supposed to give strictly accurate information to the President. But when the intelligence agencies could not find evidence of Iraqi WMD’s, Vice President Dick Cheney made several unprecedented visits to the CIA to intimidate intelligence officials into writing deliberately misleading reports.
When testifying before Congress in 2007, L. Paul Bremer, the former head of reconstruction in Iraq, was unable to account for as much as $12 billion—about half of his budget—as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority between May 2003 and June 2004. According to a report by Rep. Henry Waxman, contractors brought bags to meetings in order to collect shrink-wrapped bundles of money.
Most Americans live in the reality based community. When we screw up or trust people who screw up badly, we learn from the experience. Not so with the average conservative politician. This time when they bang their head into that wall there is going to be a different result. Romney Enlists General Behind Iraq Debacle as Key Military Adviser – General Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.)
Deliberately concealed  from the American public how in 2001, at Bush White House’s request, he was planning an Iraq invasion—while we were still trying to topple the Taliban and find bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Lost track of bin Laden at Tora Bora in late 2001 , then claimed he hadn’t , then was proven wrong .
Perpetuated  the bogus “weapons of mass destruction” myth about Iraq.
Ignored warnings from his CENTCOM predecessor  that Iraq wouldn’t be a walk in the park, and disregarded an earlier series of US war games , titled Desert Crossing, that predicted many of the difficulties of an Iraq occupation.
Completely failed to plan for any post-conflict cleanup  after the predicted fall of Saddam Hussein. “You pay attention to the day after,” he reportedly told the administration , “I’ll pay attention to the day of.” Here are the briefing slides  he showed administration officials in which he described “post-hostilities” operations in Iraq as “unknown,” and here’s where he estimated  we’d have a mop-up force of about 5,000 US troops in Iraq by 2006. (Actual US forces in Iraq throughout that year averaged about 141,000 .)
Authored one of the most nakedly self-serving, embarrassingly written military memoirs  of all time. (“Rumsfeld fixed me in his thoughtful blue gaze.”)
In case anyone has not heard of the phenomenon – Franks is a great example of the Peter Principle – “the effect could be stated as: employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently.” Franks would have been a competent colonel – someone who is good at following instructions. He sucked at strategy and adjusting tactics. Which is kinda the whole point of being a competent general.
But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.
“Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,” an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.”
One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.
“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.
Do conservatives watch a lot of Three Stooges movies growing up and consider them instruction videos. An Issa staff stooge has since claimed that hey just because the documents were marked sensitive does not mean we should not let the world know what they said. Imagine for a moment the little gears turning inside Issa’s pointed head: go for some gotcha points against the Obama administration or look out for America’s best interests. The George W. Bush gear screamed release the sensitive documents as soon as possible, damn the consequences.
So long to the great statesman and WW II hero George McGovern, George McGovern: He deserved better
In 1972 the populist war hero was destroyed by Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks and Democrats’ self-destructive fear
The son of a Methodist minister, McGovern grew up in Depression-era Mitchell, South Dakota and never forgot the raw Dustbowl desperation he witnessed there. He volunteered for the Air Force at the start of World War II and won the Distinguished Flying Cross; just as influential in his career was the hunger he saw in Italy as the war came to a close, which led to his lifelong work on hunger relief. He returned home and went to divinity school on the G.I. Bill but switched to history, doing his doctoral dissertation on the 1913 Colorado coal strike, which shaped his lifelong advocacy for labor. He supported Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party presidential bid in 1948, but moved away due to the predominance of what he derided as “fanatics,” Communists and extremists.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 1956 (despite being red-baited for his Wallace association, a sign of things to come), he ran for Senate in 1960, campaigning alongside John F. Kennedy. Kennedy later lamented that he probably cost McGovern his election, given that the Massachusetts Catholic was associated with a toxic East Coast liberalism unpopular in South Dakota. He was right; McGovern lost, but Kennedy made him the first director of his Food for Peace program (he would be President Clinton’s Ambassador to United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture through both Clinton terms.) McGovern won the senate seat in 1962.
“The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain.” – George McGovern
Happy Birthday John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993)