It is elections year, stupid!
Oregon senatorial candidate and current speaker of the State House Jeff Merkley, has issued a policy paper in regards to Israel and the Middle East, in which he specifically states his alliance with the hawkish approach of the Bush administration when it comes to Iran. He misinterprets the National Intelligence Estimate of Dec. 2007 in the exact same way President Bush chose to. Ignoring the fact that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon program in 2003, assuming it had one, and instead emphasizing on the public knowledge that Iran continues its nuclear energy program shows that when it comes to the Middle East , Jeff Merkley aligns himself with George Bush and Gordon Smith in their hostile approach. The statement by Jeff Merkley calling for a tougher stance on Iran underscores the disappointing reality that he has not felt the breeze of change that Americans and especially Oregonians have expressed in the elections of 2006 and continue to show in this presidential election season.
Similarly the NY Senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton in an appearance on MSNBC's Count Down with Keith Olberman and on Good Morning America answered questions about her remarks regarding Iran during the Democrat's debate last week. Senator Clinton, when asked to clarify her position on Iran , indicated that if Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, it should face a massive retaliation from the US and "hopefully our NATO allies." Interestingly the conditional statement was ignored in most reports and the Senator's response was presented as a tough stance which threatens Iran with annihilation. The hypotheses that Iran is in the process of building nuclear bombs and plans to use those against Israel or others in the Middle East, is just hypothetical at best. The Iranian government and others already know that Israel has a stockpile of at least 300 nuclear warheads. Hence it is obvious that a nuclear attack on Israel would face a massive nuclear response by Israel itself in such a way that US 's involvement might be irrelevant. The history of conflicts in the Middle East is also a proof that Israel at no point in the past has needed US's military intervention, simply because Israel has always had a military might equal if not larger than all its regional neighbors combined. Knowing this, question then becomes what the purpose is of saying that "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the President, we will attack Iran ," and "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel , we would be able to totally obliterate them"?
I can tell myself that "it is the election year, stupid," but deep in my heart I feel the pain of seeing a change in faces but not in words. It is this attitude and hostile mentality that hurts me and others who wish for a real change in our approach in the Middle East . We are hoping for engagement and dialog, as oppose to the eight years of the fear tactics of the Bush administration. We long for an approach centered on resolving regional and global conflict through diplomacy. Senator Clinton's statement and speaker Merkley's position paper reflects the mindset of perpetual conflict that has guided our Iran policy for the last thirty years. This is disastrous for US national interest; we are in desperate need of a new and fresh Iran policy aimed at resolving the conflict rather than prolonging it.
It was just last Friday that a new tape by Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri warned the United States against considering any agreement with Iran over the region. (Reuter - Lin Noueihed, Apr 18, 2008). I am not suggesting that the enemy of our enemy is necessarily our friend, but it is the public knowledge among regional experts that the cooperation with Iran and Iran's positive engagement might be the only key to success in Iraq, even if that is our ONLY prize in the Middle East after loosing more than four thousands of our brothers and sisters.
Goudarz Eghtedari, Ph.D.