Tuesday, July 07, 2009

If anyone is actually listening

Juan Cole cuts through the fog and tells us what Biden really said instead of imitating the pundits and blowing smoke:
The top myths in the press this weekend about Vice President Joe Biden are that he was rebuffed in Iraq when he offered his good offices with regard to effecting Arab-Kurdish reconciliation, and that he gave Israel a green light to attack Iran. Neither thing appears to be true.


So what Biden was really saying is that the Obama administration intends to engage Iran diplomatically, and that if anyone wants Iran attacked they will have to do it themselves. This is not a green light to the Israelis, who hardly need one. It is a tough message to the right wing of the Israel lobbies that the Obama administration is not going to launch any hostilities with Iran, even after the hard line power grab of three weeks ago.

Oh, and the statement may serve as a reminder to a recalcitrant Iran of what might happen to Tehran if it refuses to negotiate in good faith over its nuclear enrichment program. (By the way, that there is no good evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear warhead, and that its current technological capacity is too limited for it to dream of such a thing any time soon, was again underlined by incoming International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano.

Meanwhile, the real administration position on hostilities with Iran was clearly stated by Adm. Mike Mullen, which is that they would produce enormous instability (implied is that such instability would be bad for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan).

In my view, Biden watchers still for the most part haven't gotten him right.
In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Cole is quoted:
Biden's comment "has a dual function of sending the message to Netanyahu that if he wants to cowboy it he is riding alone, and of warning the Iranians that Netanyahu might just be wild man enough to risk such a unilateral if Iran continues to be so intransigent with regard to seeking enrichment capabilities," Cole told me in an e-mail. "It is actually quite elegant."
Nice to see that Biden is adroit and clever rather than being what the medias' view of him is: an uncontrollable mouth. ... Which might just be intentional...

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