Obama’s Pragmatic Appeal for Iran Peace

Exclusive: President Obama defended the Iran nuclear deal and urged Americans to support this initiative for peace, but his choice of American University for the speech invited comparisons with JFK’s famous words that “we all inhabit this small planet” and Obama fell far short of that standard, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Trying to rally public support for a diplomatic agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama went to American University in Washington D.C., where in 1963 President John F. Kennedy gave perhaps his greatest speech arguing against the easy talk of war in favor of the difficult work for peace.

Obama’s speech lacked the universal appeal and eloquent nobility of Kennedy’s oration, but represented in a programmatic way what Kennedy also noted, that the details and deal-making of diplomacy are often less dramatic than the clenching of fists and the pounding of chests that rally a nation to war. Obama went through the pluses of what he felt the Iran deal would achieve and the minuses of what its rejection would cause.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama said congressional approval of the agreement would gain the narrow but important goal of ensuring that Iran won’t get a nuclear weapon while congressional rejection would lead toward another war in the Middle East, thus adding to the chaos started by President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option, another war in the Middle East. I say this not to be provocative, I am stating a fact,” Obama said.

“So let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.”

Obama also called out many of the deal’s opponents, noting that many were vocal advocates for invading Iraq and that some are now openly acknowledging their preference for another war against Iran.

Obama said, “They’re opponents of this deal who accept the choice of war. In fact, they argue that surgical strikes against Iran’s facilities will be quick and painless. But if we’ve learned anything from the last decade, it’s that wars in general and wars in the Middle East in particular are anything but simple.

“The only certainty in war is human suffering, uncertain costs, unintended consequences. We can also be sure that the Americans who bear the heaviest burden are the less-than-1 percent of us, the outstanding men and women who serve in uniform, and not those of us who send them to war.”

Still a ‘War President’

Apparently seeking to establish his own credibility as a “war president,” Obama also took note of how many countries he has launched military attacks in and against during his presidency:

“I’ve ordered military action in seven countries. There are times when force is necessary, and if Iran does not abide by this deal, it’s possible that we don’t have an alternative. But how can we, in good conscience, justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives, that has been agreed to by Iran, that is supported by the rest of the world and that preserves our option if the deal falls short?

“How could we justify that to our troops? How could we justify that to the world or to future generations? In the end, that should be a lesson that we’ve learned from over a decade of war. On the front end, ask tough questions, subject our own assumptions to evidence and analysis, resist the conventional wisdom and the drumbeat of war, worry less about being labeled weak, worry more about getting it right.”

One might note that as worthy as those guidelines are, they have often been violated by the Obama administration, such as its dubious allegations against the Syrian government regarding the infamous sarin gas attack on Aug. 21, 2013, and against Russia over the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. In both cases, Obama and his administration have kept from public view evidence that they claim to possess while decrying skeptics who have questioned the conventional wisdom.

But Obama did take to task the neoconservatives and other warmongers who have followed a pattern of exaggerating dangers to frighten the American people into support for more warfare:

“I know it’s easy to play in people’s fears, to magnify threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to Munich, but none of these arguments hold up. They didn’t back in 2002, in 2003, they shouldn’t now. That same mind-set in many cases offered by the same people, who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong.”

In conclusion, Obama added, “John F. Kennedy cautioned here more than 50 years ago at this university that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war. But it’s so very important. It is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world so full of strife.”

Usual Iran Bashing

Yet, while Obama made an impassioned case for a diplomatic solution to the Iran-nuclear dispute and defended the details of the agreement he also drifted back into the typical propagandistic Iran bashing that has become de rigueur in Official Washington.

Obama salted his praise for diplomacy with the typical insults toward Iran, portraying it as some particularly aggressive force for evil in the Middle East, juxtaposed against the forces for good, such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf sheikdoms and Israel all of which have spread more violence and chaos in the Middle East than Iran.

In that sense, Obama’s speech fell far short of the statement of universal principles on behalf of humanity that was the hallmark of Kennedy’s speech on June 10, 1963, a declaration that was remarkable coming at a peak of the Cold War and almost unthinkable today amid the petty partisan rhetoric of American politicians. In contrast to Obama’s cheap shots at Iran, Kennedy refrained from gratuitous Moscow bashing.

Instead, Kennedy outlined the need to collaborate with Soviet leaders to avert dangerous confrontations, like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Kennedy also declared that it was wrong for America to seek world domination, and he asserted that U.S. foreign policy must be guided by a respect for the understandable interests of adversaries as well as allies. Kennedy said:

“What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children, not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.”

Standing Up to Cynics

Kennedy recognized that his appeal for this serious pursuit of peace would be dismissed by the cynics and the warmongers as unrealistic and even dangerous. But he was determined to change the frame of the foreign policy debate, away from the endless bravado of militarism:

“I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

“Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.”

And then, in arguably the most important words that he ever spoke, Kennedy said, “For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

Kennedy followed up his AU speech with practical efforts to work with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to rein in dangers from nuclear weapons and to discuss other ways of reducing international tensions, initiatives that Khrushchev welcomed although many of the hopeful prospects were cut short by Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

Kennedy’s AU oration was, in many ways, a follow-up to what turned out to be President Dwight Eisenhower’s most famous speech, his farewell address of Jan. 17, 1961. That’s when Eisenhower ominously warned that “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

Arguably no modern speeches by American presidents were as important as those two. Without the phony trumpets that often herald what are supposed to be “important” presidential addresses, Eisenhower’s stark warning and Kennedy’s humanistic appeal defined the challenges that Americans have faced in the more than half century since then.

Those two speeches, especially Eisenhower’s phrase “military-industrial complex” and Kennedy’s “we all inhabit this small planet,” resonate to the present because they were rare moments when presidents spoke truthfully to the American people.

Nearly all later “famous” remarks by presidents were either phony self-aggrandizement (Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall” when the wall wasn’t torn down until George H.W. Bush was president and wasn’t torn down by Mikhail Gorbachev anyway but by the German people). Or they are unintentionally self-revealing (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”)

Obama has yet to leave behind any memorable quote, despite his undeniable eloquence. There are his slogans, like “hope and change” and some thoughtful speeches about race and income inequality, but nothing of the substance and the magnitude of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” and Kennedy’s “we all inhabit this small planet.”

Despite the practical value of Obama’s spirited defense of the Iran nuclear deal, nothing in his AU speech on Wednesday deserved the immortality of the truth-telling by those two predecessors.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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34 comments for “Obama’s Pragmatic Appeal for Iran Peace

  1. Mark
    August 11, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Well said Oluwilliams,

    Since the USS Liberty event, Israel has had US politicians cowering from the likes of AIPAC and the ADL who in turn cower at the thought of the American public learning the truth.

  2. Oluwilliams
    August 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    With the Gulf nations having joined Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in backing the deal, Israel is isolated in its opposition. And, two weeks ago, Kerry warned that if Congress rejects the deal, “Israel could end up being more isolated and more blamed.” Hardly an outrageous remark. Yet, Israel’s ex-ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren fairly dripped condescension and contempt in his retort: “The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of being an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal.” But this is not Israel’s deal. It is our deal, and our decision. And Israel is massively interfering in our internal affairs to scuttle a deal the president believes is in the vital interests of the United States. When the U.S. and Israel disagree over U.S. policy in the Mideast, who decides for America? Them or us? Why does Barack Obama take this? Why does John Kerry take this? One can only imagine what President Eisenhower would have done had he seen Bibi at the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives, ripping apart his Middle East policy. Or had Ike learned that an Israeli ambassador was working the halls of Congress to kill an arms deal he and John Foster Dulles had just negotiated. Lest we forget, Ike told his wartime colleague, Prime Minister Anthony Eden, to get his army out of Suez or he would sink the British pound. Ike then told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai or face U.S. economic reprisals. Eden and Ben-Gurion did as they were told. That was an America respected by friend and foe alike. When Harry Truman felt that Gen. Douglas MacArthur had been insubordinate in resisting presidential restrictions on his actions in Korea, Truman fired the general and astounded the nation. Yet this president and John Kerry have been wimpishly seeking for weeks to placate Netanyahu. And Bibi is no Douglas MacArthur. Time to stop acting like wusses. The president should declare Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None. That could bring Bibi’s government, with its single-vote majority, crashing down. And why not? After all, Bibi was a virtual surrogate for Mitt Romney when Mitt was trying to bring down Obama. Obama and Kerry are never running again. Deep down, they would surely relish taking Bibi down. And they could do it. Deal or no deal, it is time America started acted like America again.

  3. Abe
    August 7, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    The Israel lobby has much of Congress bought and paid for. But the public is turning against it, and you can shame its servants.

    In the long run, it’s useful to remember that lies do not set us free.

    If both proponents and opponents of the agreement depict Iran falsely as a nuclear threat, the danger of a U.S. war on Iran is going to continue, with or without the deal. The deal could end with the election of a new president or Congress. Ending the agreement could be the first act of a Republican president or a Schumerian Democratic Leader.

    So, don’t just urge the right vote while pushing the propaganda. Oppose the propaganda as well.

    Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran
    By David Swanson
    http://warisacrime.org/content/which-us-senators-want-war-iran

  4. Abe
    August 6, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    it’s very easy to fall into this trap and believe Netanyahu when he says that he’s really against a deal with Iran because it might threaten Israel. But anyone who understands Netanyahu’s political agenda understands that Netanyahu is concerned with domestic politics. Not with international politics. And he’s willing to burn any bridges and destroy Israel’s long-term relations with the United States, its biggest supporter, and other countries in order to fortify his own position within Israel, a position which is solely based on politics of fear and hate. A hate of people who are not Jewish. Fear of people who are not Jewish. And Iran is a scarecrow that Netanyahu keeps using even though very few people in Israel really believe that Iran is planning a nuclear attack against Israel. Never mind for Netanyahu. This is really important to fortify his position.

    Now, this does cause damage to Israel’s relationship with the United States, which may be a positive thing because the United States’s support of Israel is catastrophic to the politics in the region. Just today it has been revealed that the United States gives tax benefits to an organization that directly supports Jewish terrorists in Israel who commit murders against Palestinians. And then this organization that gives them, give these terrorists money and legal support is funded by donations which receive U.S. support. The donors don’t have to pay taxes on these donations.

    So this is something that does cause damage to these relations. But I think it’s very interesting to see Obama’s response. President Obama’s response to Netanyahu’s comments on this video, where he addressed the leaders of Jewish communities in the United States with the message that if the deal with Iran will fall through, then that could be dangerous to Israel.

    Now, that is something that is very interesting, and very worrying. Because Obama completely accepts this logic that Netanyahu is pushing forward as if Jews in the United States care only about the safety of Israel. And when Obama talks to them with this kind of message, he’s actually reinforcing these antisemitic stereotypes against Jews. And that’s something that I think is not a mistake that Obama made. I think it’s part of Obama’s strategy in addressing his relations with Israel, which has been from the beginning of Obama’s administration in which he exaggerates on purpose the influence that Israel has over the United States in order to put his own opposition, the Republican Party, in this uncomfortable situation that supporting Israel and supporting more aggressive U.S. policies in the Middle East also paints them as not patriotic enough because they’re actually putting Israel’s needs above the needs of the United States.

    And this may be good for the short-term political advantage of President Obama, but it is exactly, goes in the same direction that, of Netanyahu’s politics, of really putting in jeopardy all of the gains that were made by the world Jewish community in fighting antisemitism and gaining respect and equal status and human rights over the past decade.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKeinhJtfMI

    Shir Hever is the author of Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation. Hever researches the economic aspect of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including the international aid to the Palestinians and to Israel, the effects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the Israeli economy, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel.

  5. Zachary Smith
    August 6, 2015 at 10:28 am

    On another thread I linked to a neocon site praising the Iran deal because it would make a future attack on Iran much easier. Well, it seems the White House Press Secretary is pitching the same line.

    But here’s the key thing. The military option would remain on the table, but the fact is, that military option would be enhanced because we’d been spending the intervening number of years gathering significantly more detail about Iran’s nuclear program. So when it comes to the targeting decisions that would be made by military officials either in Israel or the United States, those targeting decisions would be significantly informed, and our capabilities improved, based on the knowledge that has been gained in the intervening years through this inspections regime.

    Q So if Israel wants to contemplate it, it should wait?

    MR. EARNEST: Well, again, what we believe —

    Q That’s what you just said.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/17/press-briefing-press-secretary-josh-earnest-7172015

    via the Moon of Alabama blog.

    Given the track records of both the BHO Administration and the shitty little nation of Israel, a future attack may be already in the advanced planning stages.

    In the meantime, Holy Israel grabs piles of money from US taxpayers.

    Best of all worlds!

  6. Zachary Smith
    August 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I’m to the point that when BHO is saying something, I wonder what he is lying about.

    So my excitement about this particular speech has been muted.

    I suspect David Swanson shares my attitude to some small degree because of some of his remarks about the speech.

    Obama Talks Peace But Throws in a Bit of Cheney

  7. Tristan
    August 5, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    So peace in pieces is on the menu. But it has a crust of war. Of this the President assures. War is indeed easy and since we live in a for profit free market dominated society with a government which advocates only for such a societal arrangement, where it is clear that the business of war is highly profitable, the argument against war is an argument against the basics of free market capitalism practiced as a religion in the U.S. Thus we find ourselves at the crux of the biscuit, the apostrophe.

    The unfortunate recognition that must be made is that the false assumptions or delusions many, including myself, have, or have had, of what kind of nation we live in are crashing into the difficult reality of an imperial nation on a mission to dominate any and all in the pursuit of the well being of a very few human beings.

    Presidents of the U.S. aren’t the promoters of peace, they are the front people for the aspirations of the .01% regardless of the shellacked veneer of a Peace Prize or other such mendacity as a speech to the plebes and patricians.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    August 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Hollow rhetoric fails to inspire for many a good reason. Presented as a binary proposition, the fraudulent dialectic at the heart of this speech insists that, without an agreement, the only option is war. As it progresses, the speech invokes war as a perennial option. This implies an ephemeral commitment to an agreement based on little faith. Soaring oratory rests its wings on a fragile breeze: that sense of elation inspired by the truth well spoken. It doesn’t matter whether or not there is an agreement. Any nuclear weapons program requires test detonations which cannot be concealed. In the final analysis, this speech was about a threat which does not exist and an agreement based on a false premise. There is little wonder it contained nothing memorable. Stirring words spoken truthfully by an American President are a rare thing. I haven’t heard any for fifty two years. Sadly, I have little hope that I will ever hear them again.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 5, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      I see what you are saying. At least John Kennedy really was speaking of an enemy (the Soviet Union) who possessed nuclear weapons (lots of them), whereas Obama’s foe (Iran) has none. In that case the President should be okay then to hang out with the crazies for happy hour Thursday’s. I have some real doubt that anyone could ever get by the Military Corporate Congressal Industrial Complex. Kay Griggs claims this group really doesn’t have a name. Quigley’s said the same thing. These Shadow Goverment Employess are everywhere, but yet they are nowhere. Some of them I have heard even get to write presidential speechs…sometimes. Kennedy once said that the only ones who don’t have a seat at the table are the people. No truer words were ever said. I’ll leave you with an ole American saying, “where’s the WMD’s!”

    • Peter Loeb
      August 6, 2015 at 5:47 am

      ‘DO YOU MEAN WHAT YOU SAY OR SAY WHAT YOU MEAN?”

      “Hollow rhetoric fails to inspire for many a good reason.”–F.G, Sanford

      President Obama’s defense of the so-called “Iran deal” was
      predictable and at the same time meaningless. It is instead
      an issue or worse (agreement to the deal) or worser (rejection
      of the deal). The US has not collapsed and remains today a
      major power on the world stage. It is however a declining
      power. Very much so. There is no way the US, whatever
      position it takes, can prevent Iran from obtaining an Iran nuclear
      weapon as it has no interest in preventing Israel from
      maintaining and expanding its nuclear arsenal. And as
      Robert Parry points out, Israel is the terrorist state. Not only
      attested by facts about the nuclear sites it has but also by the
      fact that for years it has had the most provocative and
      unpeaceful provocative rhetoric.

      Obama is trying to frame this about the US control of Iran
      as though it had such a power. In fact no such option exists
      for the US as presented by Washington.

      The information of Pepe Escobar from Asia Times (see
      COUNTERPUNCH NEWS of 8/6/2015) and other commentors
      for more balanced assessments.

      In the past Obama has never done anything that substantionally
      questions Israel or its right to oppress. John Kerry when in the
      US Senate was a virtual servant of AIPAC (Israeli lobby).

      Washington is dealing from a lose-lose position in the world and
      Iran (the Far East, including Russia and China etc.) are calling
      the shots. Besides which Iran is less interested in and dependent
      on a nuclear arsenal for offensive purposes.

      Whether Israel and the US “like” the other governments and
      organizations which are considered major “enemies” by definition,
      Iran is a growing major power in Mideastern affairs and in
      the UN.as well.

      As F. G. Sanford notes there is a difference between rhetoric
      and reality. There is no nation on earrth which lacks rhetoric.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Abe
      August 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      What happened in November 1963 was designed to ensure that we would never again hear stirring words spoken truthfully by an American President.

      In April and June 1968, there were a couple of reminders that truth well spoken would not be tolerated.

      Another reminder of the severe ramifications of inspiring speech and action was necessary in October 2002.

      Sadly, no further reminders are necessary today.

    • Abe
      August 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      What happened in November 1963 was designed to ensure that we would never again hear stirring words spoken truthfully by an American President.

      In April and June 1968, there were a couple of reminders that truth well spoken would not be tolerated.

      In October 2002, another reminder of the severe ramifications of inspiring speech and action was necessary.

      Sadly, no further reminders are necessary today.

    • Abe
      August 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      What happened in November 1963 was designed to ensure that we would never again hear stirring words spoken truthfully by an American President.

      In April and June 1968, there were a couple of reminders that truth well spoken would not be tolerated.

      In October 2002, another reminder of the severe ramifications of inspiring speech and action was necessary.

      No further reminders appear to be necessary today.

  9. Anonymous
    August 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    “Two weeks after Cousins sent his letter-memorandum to the president, he was invited to meet at the White House with Ted Sorensen, Kennedy’s speechwriter. Sorensen said the president had given him Cousins’s memorandum about a speech with a dramatic peace offer. “He wants to pursue it,” Sorensen said. “He would like you to send in some ideas for the text of a commencement talk he’ll be giving at American University on June” …James W. Douglass ‘JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters’
    …………………………………..………………………………………………………………….
    As much as I love the JFK American University Speech it has been pointed to (by a few) that that speech was his Death Nail. For that reason maybe it’s good for President Obama that his less speech will at least keep him going…I mean really going. Hopefully, we will someday learn that Obama was back channeling with Putin and Xi Jing on a plan for world peace. Also, to John Kennedy’s many adversaries his American University was a declaration of his treasonous actions. No kidding, a sitting president better not get caught doing any behind the scenes advocating peace with our enemies …ya, can’t have that, now fall in line. Attention!

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      ‘At the same time, John Kennedy was preparing to talk peace. On June 10 at American University, JFK took Norman Cousins’s idea of a visionary peacemaking speech and made it his own. A saintly pope, whose influence the Catholic president, John Kennedy, could never acknowledge, was also in the background of the speech.[751] After Pacem in Terris appeared that spring of 1963, there was a hopeful shift in the East–West spiritual climate, as seen in Khrushchev’s dialogue with Castro on making peace with Kennedy. The president had felt the change. He chose that moment to take a huge risk for global peace. The American University address owed much to Pacem in Terris.’ …James W. Douglas JFK & the Unspeakable
      ………………………………………………………………………….

      Okay imagine JFK consorting with the Pope, Khruschchev, and through Kruschchev Castro is listening big. So, big that while Kennedy’s American University gets very little attention in the U.S.. Yet, JFK’s speech is heard in a huge way in the 3rd world, Russia, and yes, very big in Cuba. Folks, we were getting there….then that was it! You know the rest!

  10. Anonymous
    August 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    His speech is irrelevant
    He needs to buy enough Democrat votes on the iran deal
    It’s a numbers game
    We are not unfortunately party to yhe horse trading that is going on. We just have to listen to this speech. Or ignore it and read the reviews it doesn’t matter much.

  11. Abe
    August 5, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    the agreement is about far more than curbing Iran’s nuclear ambition. It creates the conditions for a thaw in Iran’s economic relations with the west and a resultant dramatic restructuring of power and influence in the Middle East at a time when that region finds itself mired in sectarian conflict and the United States is looking for a path to military disentanglement.

    For better or for worse, Iran is a major player in the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The recently concluded nuclear agreement clears the way for Tehran to play an even larger regional role than it does currently. It is this expansion of Iranian influence that is at the heart of support for, and opposition to, a nuclear agreement.

    The nuclear agreement is, in many ways, but a sideshow to the larger issue of regional politics. […]

    Iran’s nuclear program was used by the United States as an excuse to contain Iran economically and, by extension, politically and militarily. When the decision was made, back in 2005, to sabotage the “Tehran Agreement” over the issue of PMDs, the United States was actively engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were built on policies of regime change and nation building, and policy makers in Washington, DC, had visions of creating the conditions for the same inside Iran.

    Reality has sunk in, and with it the need to engage with Iran so that the United States can responsibly extricate itself from more than a decade of conflict in that region. By resolving the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, both real and imagined, the Obama administration is able to cut a political Gordion Knot it inherited from the Bush administration, freeing this administration to engage in meaningful diplomacy with, and about, Iran. In the end, the debates that will take place in Congress — and elsewhere — about the nuclear agreement will be less about Iran’s nuclear program and more about how the west will deal with the reality of a Middle East redefined by Iran’s resurgent economic and military power. It is a debate long overdue, and one that can hopefully proceed in a responsible fashion now that the myth of an Iranian nuclear threat has been debunked.

    Cutting the Gordian Knot
    By Scott Ritter
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-ritter/cutting-the-gordian-knot_b_7801566.html

    • Abe
      August 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      America’s decade-long experience in the post-9/11 Middle East has conditioned the American public, and by extension the American body politic, to embrace hyperbole and sensationalism over fact and nuance. In doing so, decisions are being made which do not reflect reality, and as such not only fail to rectify the situation at hand, but more often than not, exacerbate it. America’s experience with Iran stands as a clear case in point, where analysts have failed to accurately depict the true nature of Iran’s military capability, among other issues, and policy makers have, as a result, failed to formulate policies which deal with the issues arising from decades of American-Iranian animosity fueled by post-9/11 emotions, which continue to run high to this day. Getting it wrong on Iran has become an American institution, one which may have far-reaching detrimental consequences.

      When Debating Iran’s Nuclear Program, Sort Fact from Fiction
      By Scott Ritter
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-ritter/irans-nuclear-program_b_7033702.html

    • Abe
      August 5, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      The intelligence about the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s nuclear programme is of questionable provenance and most of it is more than a dozen years old. The consequences of failure to reach a nuclear accord with Iran today are too serious for the world to embrace a process that has been so controversial while having so little impact on legitimate disarmament. This is especially true when the inspected party, as is the case with Iran, has agreed to implement stringent verification measures and has a proven track record of abiding by them. Iran has been put in the impossible position of having to prove a negative. If it accepts inspections based on allegations it knows to be baseless, then it’s opening itself up to an endless cycle of foreign intrusion into its military and security infrastructure, and the inability of inspectors to discover something of relevance will only reinforce the belief that something is being hidden. We saw this happen before in Iraq, and the end result was a war based on flawed intelligence and baseless accusations that left many thousands dead and a region in turmoil.

      ‘We ain’t found shit’
      By Scott Ritter
      http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n13/scott-ritter/we-aint-found-shit

  12. Abe
    August 5, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    In his Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963, President Kennedy exhorted Americans to:

    reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims–such as the allegation that “American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of wars… that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union… [and that] the political aims of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries… [and] to achieve world domination… by means of aggressive wars.”

    Contrary to what American propagandists write, numerous events during the post-Soviet era have proven the old Soviet claims were indeed well based and credible.

    Mr. President, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

  13. Marilyn Arado
    August 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I was very much an adult when Eisenhower gave his farewell speech (which I have a copy and have read often) and Kennedy’s speech at AU. Both were given on prime TV and I heard them both. Remember there were only 3 TV stations, today there are hundreds and most Americans wouldn’t listen even if the speeches were given the evening prime time.
    I would also like to note that neither Eisenhower or Kennedy faced the discrimination and obstruction that Obama has, so maybe the reason for his pragmatism. Secondly, the Congress and the American people are too busy, too ignorant of American and World history, too selfish and too unappreciative of a memorable speech–even Eisenhower’s or Kennedy’s.
    Mr. Parry, you and I are now living in a different America.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 5, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      My only regret about Dwight Eisenhower is that he wasn’t a younger Ike. Eisenhower suffered a couple to a few heart attacks. These events left the government to be run by the Dulles Brothers and VP Nixon. Maybe Eisenhower is guilty just by being the boss, but it was like on 1/17/61 he finally got to see what he had sowed. At least his warning survives the test of time. In fact you might say Ike’s MIC warning is having a big rival. Eisenhower speech wasn’t ahead of its time. His MIC speech is long over due, to be acted upon. Kennedy certainly had the youth that Eisenhower lacked, but JFK was seriously alone. John, may have had Bobby with him, and yet you see how that ended up. My problem is, I don’t know what or who could overcome this overwhelming shadowy force that guides our nation from one terrible adventure to another. My hope is on the next generation, and we should do our best to request they read Kennedy’s AU speech & then MLK’s Vietnam speech, etc., etc.,

    • doray
      August 6, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Both John and Bobby Kennedy faced DEATH when they stood up to the obstructionists! As did Paul Wellstone, JFK Jr, and MLK. That’s how I knew Obushma was a fake “savior.” Any person who can affect REAL change will die at the hands of a lone, crazed gunman, or in a mysterious plane crash before they ever come into enough power to actually implement it. The war-mongers are psychopaths and will always win because they never play by the rules.

    • dahoit
      August 7, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      The Zionists had not co-opted the American discourse and govt in the 50s and 60s. Although they were media players,they laid low,like snakes in the grass.Mambas.

  14. Mark
    August 5, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Obama: “But how can we, in good conscience, justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives, that has been agreed to by Iran, that is supported by the rest of the world and that preserves our option if the deal falls short?”

    The answer to that question is too simple — let the republicans lead they way for the Senate and Congress to continue working for Israel — doing Israel’s bidding and fighting their wars — at the expense of the America public and that much peace in the world…

    • Scaevola
      August 5, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      Don’t kid yourself, Mark. The Lobby owns the Democrats too. Or have Wasserman-Schultz, Feinstein, Boxer, Schumer, Hilary et al suddenly turned Republican? Refresh your memory by googling that floor vote at the 2012 DNC over adding that Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel to the Democratic platform. No means yes, bitches. Just like freedom is slavery, war is peace and ignorance is strength.

      Turn away from the shadows, Plato. If you vote for a Democrat or a Republican, you vote for Israel First. The exceptions only prove the rule.

      Obama should use HIS farewell address to caution against the Israel Lobby, the way G. Washington used his to caution against passionate attachments to foreign countries (England and France in his time). That kind of truth telling would be monumental, and would go down in history as one of the great speeches of all time. Of course, O. won’t. He’s nearly as milquetoast of a company man as you could want.

      • Mark
        August 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

        Scaevola,

        Don’t read something into my comment that wasn’t stated.

        “republicans lead they way for the Senate and Congress to continue working for Israel — doing Israel’s bidding and fighting their wars — at the expense of the America public and that much peace in the world…”

        The neocon/Zionists do “lead the way” and yes Republicans and Democrats have led the way in the past and supported Israel to the point of being illegal while making both themselves traitors under US law — but as you can see with Obama’s Iran nuke deal he is diverging from following Israel’s orders as did those Democrats who did not attend Netanyahu’s speech and directive, at the Republican coerced “invite”, to take America to war with Iran as the only option.

        All of what we’ve seen since 9/11 with the illegal invasions into the Mid-East was pre-planned neo-conservative/Zionist policy from the 1996 (search) ” (((PNAC ‘New Strategy for Securing the Realm’))) plan. No one supports the neo-con/Zionist agenda like republicans and things would not be what they are now without that support.

        The Republican, Zionist and Christian Zionist nexus has taken over the sensibilities of the US government and turned us into religious crusaders who lie and kill to grab land and resources around the world while we fight Israel’s abominable “religious” wars. .

        Democrats are guilty but republicans, especially since Reagan, have now pushed it to the limits and we are a criminal nation that has essentially waged a the neocon/Zionist war on the entire world while calling it the falsely labeled “Global War on Terror” — This is the undeclared WWIII and has been waged against the US public as well, via the propaganda that comes out of the pro-Zionist controlled “News”.

        Israel and the US are partners in crimes – WAR CRIMES!

        Search ((( Israel control news ))), ((( Israel control US government ))), ((( PNAC ‘new strategy for securing the realm))) and ((( The New Pentagon Papers ))).

        • dahoit
          August 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

          The Zionists,both domestic and foreign have rubbed Obombas face repeatedly in the dirt,even though he has genuflected to the criminals,he has to make some kind of stand.If he rolled over here he would be a laughingstock.
          Call the traitors in Congress and berate them.

  15. Mark
    August 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    It’s unfortunate for everyone concerned — the world — that Obama does not have the courage to state the post 9/11 “US” led invasions into the Mid-East have been neocon/zionist/Israel’s wars — pre-planned since the 1990’s that used 9/11 as an excuse to launch.

    If Obama could share that fact with the American public while also explaining Syria and Iran are part of that same neocon/Zionist plan from the 1990’s, and the US has been Israel’s patsy especially since 9/11, then possibly Americans will begin to understand what’s going on.

    As the perfect example of the above reality Obama could also discuss the fact that Netanyahu being invited to the US, and telling us war is the only answer regarding Iran, was likely due to AIPAC instructing the republicans to extend the invitation for Israel’s benefit not that of the USA.

    The Republicans party cares more about catering to Israel than about America or Americans — because they fear AIPAC as proven by the that fact Israel decides when America’s military will donate American lives to the Zionist project as well as deciding the American taxpayers will foot the trillion$ in war costs for the sake of the religiously and racially bigoted theocracy of Zionist manufactured wars for the sake of their lust for land.

    Time for all thd US politicians to get real — this has been going on since the USS liberty incident and he can point that out as well…

    • Alec
      August 6, 2015 at 1:34 am

      How very well put and how right you are.
      It’s also a shame that Obama didn’t go on to quote Osavid Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel and idolised especially by the likud party, who stated that the only purpose in life for non jews is to serve the people of Israel as the American people do by a allowing zionists to drain the US economy to the time of 3+ billion $ per year.

      • Anonymous
        August 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

        You might consider the 3 to 4 billion is direct aid to Israel while all the rest — trying to peace for Israel with their neighbors, fighting their pre-planned wars and all the rest adds up to Trillion$ with the Oraq war alone will have cost the US over 6 trillion dollars with directly and indirectly over 1 million human lives lost, millions displaced and tens of thousands disabled for life…

  16. August 5, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    JFK’s American University oration was, imo, the greatest speech ever given by an American president in my 68-year lifetime. Obama’s choosing that site, and his direct reference to Kennedy’s speech, are noteworthy and commendable. And I would say that Obama not reaching JFK’s heights in his speech are a sign of the fact that, despite his being a brave man, Obama is not as courageous as Kennedy was in the face of the national security state they both had to confront.

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