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Hullabaloo


Monday, November 25, 2013

 
Heckuva job Bushie

by digby

This piece over at Bill Moyers has links to all the good stuff around the web about the Iran deal if you need to get up to speed. It led me to this important post by Dafna Linzer over at MSNBC about the wasted decade we just went through due to idiotic neocon dogma.

When the United States was attacked by Al-Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, it was by a terrorist organization that was no friend to Iran.

Acting from inside Afghanistan and Pakistan - two nations that border Iran - al-Qaeda’s actions destabilized the region and brought on a swift counterattack by U.S. forces who remain in the region.

Hundreds of al-Qaeda members streamed across Iran’s borders. Many were caught and identified. The most dangerous, including Osama bin Laden’s relatives, were imprisoned. Low-level fighters were returned to their home countries - but not before Zarif secretly shared their identities, finger prints, passports and other information with the U.S. government.

There was other quiet but vital cooperation along the Iranian-Afghan border to stop al-Qaeda, the heroin trade and warlords from smuggling weapons and goods out of Afghanistan.

The Bush administration benefited greatly from all of it but that’s not the impression it conveyed to the American public or the Iranian people.

Iran’s leaders, working through a Swiss diplomatic channel, sent the State Department a lengthy proposal for embarking on negotiations. Tehran’s leaders sought a “grand bargain,” with everything on the table, including restoring relations with Israel, and giving up any interest in pursing nuclear capabilities that could be used for weapons.

If only they had been greeted with silence. Instead, Bush used his 2003 State of the Union address to enlist Iran into what he deemed an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea.

Within two months, operating on his doctrine of preemption, Bush invaded Iraq and had troops on two of Iran’s major borders. His stable of neo-conservative advisers made no secret of their conviction that Iraq was a “demonstration effect,” meant to weaken and pressure Iran.

It had the opposite effect. With Saddam Hussein and the Taliban removed from power, Iran’s influence in the region only grew, particularly in Iraq where U.S. troops struggled with a violent insurgency that eventually claimed the lives of more than 4,000 American troops.

And when an Iranian dissident group revealed a small but secret nuclear effort underfoot at Natanz in Iran, Iran moved quickly to fortify and defend it on the world stage. Years of concealment and obfuscation on the part of Iran defined a bitter relationship with U.N. inspectors who only gathered more evidence that pointed tot he desire for a nuclear weapons program.

Bush was reelected in 2004, defeating John Kerry - who would wait nine years to become the Secretary of State who negotiated Sunday’s deal on behalf of the United States.

In those intervening years, Bush told Iranians in 2005 to stay home on election day rather than exercise one of the few political rights available. In the wake of low turn out, and lower expectations, Ahmadinejad became president, ushering in eight years of open hostility.

Heckuva job Bushie.

President Obama came into office promising to open up a dialog with Iran but was met with huge resistance both from our own extremists and Iran's, largely as a result of the mismanagement of the situation under the Bush-Cheney regime. But over time, when the Iranians realized they weren't dealing with total lunatics anymore, they were able to provide a partner than could sit down at a negotiating table.

You cannot overestimate just how useful simple sanity can be. The bellicose tough guy/madman theory keeps being trotted out over and over again and it never works. Maybe we should put that one one in the rubbish pile.

Linzner concludes with a cautious, yet hopeful, observation:

Obama and Rouhani must sell this deal at home, and it will tough for both. The American public still carries the scars of a lengthy hostage crisis that followed Iran’s political and religious revolution and are reluctant to trust a new and possibly vulnerable leadership. Rouhani is under pressure from those very same revolutionary guards who see Washington as the root of Iran’s corrupt past.

Failure going forward would certainly embolden the hardliners on all sides, and push toward conflict, not resolution.

But if the deal sticks – a big if – Rouhani will be the first Iranian leader in more than 30 years who unclenched his fist - delivering his people back into the global fold. Obama may well be remembered as the Nobel laureate who removed the threat of nuclear war through the promise of extending his hand.


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