Streams

Ambassador Pickering on Iran, Syria, and Diplomacy

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former ambassador and trustee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, discusses the U.S. relationship with Iran, the crisis in Syria and the UN's inaction and what diplomatic options the U.S. should consider when dealing with the the Mideast.

Comments [32]

Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Speaking of Stalin...

Stalin/hitler pact of 1939
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact

Feb. 06 2012 02:17 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Dear Gary, first off, as you know, America supported Saddam in the 80's, and as he gassed the Kurds with Nazi-like precision and murdered thousands of others, America did NOTHING. Why - because he was seen as a bulwark against Iran. Only when he decided to head towards "our" oil fields in Kuwait and the Gulf, then all of a sudden, he became a "bad guy" worth overthrowing.

When would you and others realize: American has NO allies in the middle east, NONE.

And supporting brutal dictators is almost always never in America's best long term interest.

Your Stalin reference is not accurate. I had no idea I was a "leftie" but whatever.

Feb. 06 2012 11:36 AM
Stella from LES

Danny Abdul Dayem, a British citizen of Syrian descent, was the man whom I heard interviewed on the BBC News hour this morning. You can see/hear the interview in its entirety at <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16902819>.

Feb. 06 2012 11:35 AM
gary from queens

Dear Jawbone:

General Clapper also said:

"THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IS MOSTLY A SECULAR ORGANIZATION"

This is the fellow you think knows what he's talking about?!

Feb. 06 2012 11:32 AM
Nick from NJ

I wish I had a chance to hear everything that Pickering had to say about Brutal Assad and Iran. I personally think our policy with Iran for the past 10 years has been laughable/terrible, and I think Obama's most recent move of increasing sanctions is an awful idea. Please see this interview with Vali Nasr and Jonathan Tepperman. I think it holds more water than anything I have heard regarding Iran:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaFC9WFUPfc

As far as Syria is concerned, there is no point in going through the UNSC. Russia and China are making good money selling Assad weapons and gunnery to slaughter his people. My personal take on it is this: empower the Turks. Right now there are skirmishes on the border of Turkey in Syria between the Assad Murders and Syrians trying to flee the carnage. Bullets have actually been pulled out of structures in Turkey. This is simple, we, along with Western Europe, assure Turkey that we will keep Russia and China out of the mix, and allow them to handle Assad. On one condition, they must oversee Democratic elections with the help of the Arab League.

Feb. 06 2012 11:30 AM
Stella from LES

Massacre is not too strong a word. This morning the BBC broadcast an interview with a Syrian opposition activist who described the unrelenting bombing of civilians - backed up by government snipers (shades of Sarajevo) in Homs. An ethnic Syrian, he had an English accent, and I thought that the West has an even more urgent obligation to help create democracy in the Middle East because the West is where those ideas first appeared and flourished, however imperfectly.

Feb. 06 2012 11:15 AM
gary from queens

Dear Sheldon from Location

Well, now look who wants it both ways!! Saddam hussain was also a "corrupt, brutal dictator" SQUARED. Genicidal to Shia, Khurds, anmd marsh arabs too. Yet it was immoral and illegal to topple him, according to you and your lefty friends. And Saddam didnt serve our interests any more. To the contrary. Thus all the more reason to topple him.

We work with the devil to serve our needs, like when we were allies with the Soviets against Hitler. morality has a role in foreign policy. But only so much. We can't govern the world from DC. So we accept less than perfect regimes and hope they improve. It worked with South Korea and other nations (Need I mention Germany and Japan?). It may or may not work with Iraq. We will have to see.

Reality is a bitch for liberals, who rely so heavily of idealistic utopias, like their big government paradises. only in your dreams.

Feb. 06 2012 11:09 AM

Cheezzlewhiz, I sure the President of the United States is GLUED to EVERY one of your extraordinarily "cogent" expressions of paranoid psychosis.

Feb. 06 2012 11:05 AM
jawbone

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/03/iran_is_the_root_of_all_evil/singleton/

Glenn Greenwald in Salon notes the amazing similarities between headlines beating the drums used during the Bush/Cheney run up to the illegal US invasion of Iraq with the current MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) headlines.

Kind of...deja vue all over again. And scary, especially since many of those who criticized Bush/Cheney (with very good reason as those of us not ideologically trapped all know by now) no longer criticize the same warlike actions when coming from an ostensible Democrat, our Nobel Peace Prize President.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/americas-top-spy-we-dont-know-whether-iran-is-even-trying-to-build-a-bomb/252581/

James Fallows in The Atlantic notes that we even have a top US spy saying that we just don't know that Iran even wants to build nukes! But that won't stop our bloody-minded war mongers (and, yes, after watching our warlike tendencies for my entire post-pubescent life, I have lost patience with our nation's nasty streaks).

Fallows quoted this exchange last Tuesday between Sen. Olympia Snowe on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Director of National Intelligence appearing as a witness:

"Senator Snowe: I gather we agree with the fact that Iran has not made the decision to weaponize at this point. Director Clapper, do you agree on that?

General Clapper: Yes, but they are certainly moving on that path, but we don't believe they've actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon."

WE DON'T BELIEVE THEY'VE ACTUALLY MADE THE DECISION TO GO AHEAD WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON

(In caps, because bolding and other forms of emphasis are not possible at this site -- not shouting, emphasizing, mmm'kay?)

(Hhhnnn -- whassup at the comments section? Tried to post two times, no dice. Uh oh....)

Feb. 06 2012 11:00 AM
jawbone

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/03/iran_is_the_root_of_all_evil/singleton/

Glenn Greenwald in Salon notes the amazing similarities between headlines beating the drums used during the Bush/Cheney run up to the illegal US invasion of Iraq with the current MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) headlines.

Kind of...deja vue all over again. And scary, especially since many of those who criticized Bush/Cheney (with very good reason as those of us not ideologically trapped all know by now) no longer criticize the same warlike actions when coming from an ostensible Democrat, our Nobel Peace Prize President.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/americas-top-spy-we-dont-know-whether-iran-is-even-trying-to-build-a-bomb/252581/

James Fallows in The Atlantic notes that we even have a top US spy saying that we just don't know that Iran even wants to build nukes! But that won't stop our bloody-minded war mongers (and, yes, after watching our warlike tendencies for my entire post-pubescent life, I have lost patience with our nation's nasty streaks).

Fallows quoted this exchange last Tuesday between Sen. Olympia Snowe on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Director of National Intelligence appearing as a witness:

"Senator Snowe: I gather we agree with the fact that Iran has not made the decision to weaponize at this point. Director Clapper, do you agree on that?

General Clapper: Yes, but they are certainly moving on that path, but we don't believe they've actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon."

WE DON'T BELIEVE THEY'VE ACTUALLY MADE THE DECISION TO GO AHEAD WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON

(In caps, because bolding and other forms of emphasis are not possible at this site -- not shouting, emphasizing, mmm'kay?)

Feb. 06 2012 10:58 AM

Sheldon from Location -

Well said, thanks.

Feb. 06 2012 10:54 AM

Ya know gfq, I think that Brian Leher is a raging anti-Semite!!

Off with his head!!!!

Feb. 06 2012 10:51 AM

Thank you, Hugh.

Feb. 06 2012 10:46 AM
Sheldon from Location

Well Gary - that's the point. Mubarak was a corrupt, brutal dictator but he supposedly served our interests, so that made it ok?

As for keeping the peace with Israel, he only did it because (1) we paid him to (2) Israel would kick his ass, if he even tried.

Feb. 06 2012 10:46 AM
gary from queens

"if this can be called a "massacre"?!!!"

What the hell is wrong with Brian?!

When Israel kills more than one palestinian, he accepts quotes describing it as massacres. Does Brian have a double standard?

Feb. 06 2012 10:43 AM
jawbone

My country's government, along with those who would replace this present administration, sound more belleicose than any other nation in the world toward more different nations and peoples in the world.

I'm sickened by the warlike nature of our government.

And President Nobel Peace Prize is right up there with Bush and Cheney in playing this game of gin up the war machine and beat the drums of war.

Too bad there isn't an international orgnaization which could control these violent tendencies.

Feb. 06 2012 10:40 AM
MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT from Manhattan

Thank heaven....finally.

I guess Obama read my first post.

Feb. 06 2012 10:36 AM

We live with India and Pakistan both having nuclear weapons - why can't Israel and Iran?

Feb. 06 2012 10:35 AM
gary from queens

Dear Sheldon from Brooklyn

Mubarak was an ally, DUHHH. not a perfect one. But one who stood by the peace with israel and didnt ally itself with Islamists.

Syria is a satelite puppet of Iran. Our existential enemy. There are many ways we could have delegitimized that regime. Look how we took down communist puppets during the cold war. look how we deal with N Korea and iran.

Charles Krauthammer last Friday described in detail how to take down the Syrian regime right now.

Feb. 06 2012 10:34 AM
Frank Ocwieja from Hartsdale, NY

Mr. Ambassador:

Don't you think that Bashar Al Assad is only a captive of the military and other powers that be in Syria? Removing him from power may only create a vacuum to be filled by another puppet.

Feb. 06 2012 10:30 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gary, how would have Obama "isolate and delegitimize" Syria two years ago?

The right has recently been bashing Obama over Egypt, for cutting Mubarak loose because they are pissed that the Muslim Brotherhood now has the nerve to run and win seats in parliament. You can't have it both ways.

Feb. 06 2012 10:25 AM
Bronek

why the surprise with Russian and Chinese vote in the UN? voting for the resolution would open a can of worms for them, meanning it would allow the World Body to openly demand change of policies in China in regards to Tybet situation, and in Russia in regards to Chechenia and recent protest about Putin regime.

Feb. 06 2012 10:23 AM
john from office

If I were Assad I would fight this out too. After Lybia, what does he have to lose?? There will be a terrible retribution on him and his followers because of vengence. If you killed, tortured and raped my family, I will return the favor, it is the way of this part of the world.

Feb. 06 2012 10:22 AM
Michael from Princeton NJ

The veto of Russia and China is also a result of these countries concern about their internal problems. They may want to prevent interference in case they’ll need to crack down on their citizens

Feb. 06 2012 10:16 AM
gary from queens

The events in Syria is a tremendous rebuke of obama's naive policy entering office in 2009.

Obama rejected the conservative proposals to isolate and delegitimize the Assad regime. Instead, Obama thought he knew best.

Instead of treating a pariah like a pariah, he thought he could use his powers or verbal persuassion to turn a lion into a lamb. he opened an embassy in Syria (now it's closing) thinking that would lure it away from iran!

Feb. 06 2012 10:14 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Russia has been on the wrong side of history the last 200 years. Putin simply wants to lash out to stay stick it the west.

Feb. 06 2012 10:14 AM
Hugh

How many 14 to 1 votes have called for Israel to end atrocities in the West Bank and Gaza? How many tens of thousands of Palestinians have died in the past 45 years? But never even _one_ US government call for Israel to act justly or even decently toward Palestinians. The harshest language the US ever uses is to say that Israeli crimes are "unhelpful". This is a fact well-understood by Russians and Chinese.

Needless to say, _nothing_ in what I have just said excuses Syrian government crimes. The point is that American hypocrisy screams itself around the world. Nobody outside the delusional US sees American policy as anything but cynical efforts to control the region and coddle Israel.

Feb. 06 2012 10:12 AM
Ken

How is it that Gaddafi threatened to start attacking his people and an international military force descended upon him in less than a week, but Assad massacres his people with impunity, and the UN can't even pass a resolution politely asking him to stop?

Feb. 06 2012 10:12 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL, evacuating our embassy.

Ask Pickering about Obambi's sending Fred Hof (a lightweight appeaser) to Syria in 2009 with the insistence that "we can work with the Assad government."

Feb. 06 2012 10:12 AM
Yoyo from nyc

Wait! This is the same Clinton who was more than content not taking action against Libia's Gadafi. I love her newly found world awareness towards these tyrants, but just this past March she wasn't to prepared to take action against these guys.

Feb. 06 2012 10:10 AM
Gary from queens

QUESTION FOR THE AMBASSADOR:

Egypt is not allowing 19 Americans to leave the country because they are accused of 'illegally' receiving foreign funds to promote democracy.

Egypt is doing this despite being close to bankruptsy, and despite the loss of billions in annual US aid.

Please don't tell us that Obama/Hilary must "negotiate." You're on this program because you have experience in this matter. So please describe IN DETAIL what Obama has as leverage, what pressures to apply that would be efficacious.

We don't need pundits with 20/20 hindsight. Go on the record and lay it out now.

Feb. 06 2012 10:02 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please ask Mr. Pickering why Obama opposed the Menendez bill against the Iranian banks that passed the Senate 100-0 (!) last month and was sponsored by NJ’s Menendez, Schumer and all the Republicans in a rare show of bipartisanship.
Lead-From-Behind-Barry demanded that that it be suspended if oil markets get tight ... so the Senate called his bluff and revised it to include that waiver ...and he still refused to honor it !!
The Iranian currency fell drastically after that vote….then rebounded after Obama’s refusal to implement it.

Mr. Pickering, do the Iranian people trust Obama after he was silent during their uprising in 2009?
Actually, can the American people trust OBAMBI in defending American lives in that region?

Feb. 06 2012 09:53 AM

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