consultants are sandburs

Friday, September 21, 2012

What role should foreign heads of state have in trying to influence US election outcomes?

Links, Salon here; also, here, here, here, here, here, here. UPDATE: Vanity Fair_1, Vanity Fair_2, Haaretz, Guardian, InfoWars_1, InfoWars_2, Atlantic, 60 Minutes, HuffPo_1, HuffPo_2.

This cartoon:

Romney should be forced to answer, should Jonathan Pollard be kept imprisoned for betraying the U.S., or released to move to Israel as a free man?

Romney should be forced to answer, would he turn a totally blind eye to the ongoing Israeli settlement expansions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, an ongoing encroacment despite the Camp David accords and the two state view being ostensibly unchanged U.S. policy for decades?

If elected, what would Romney feel he owes Netanyahu, and how might that entangle us into some outrageous and costly ground war in Iran? One that would greatly heighten exposure to terrorist retaliation than a more restrained policy of diplomatic and economic disincentives aimed to convince Iran not to go nuclear. As the one Salon item noted:

The ad, setting Bibi’s apocalyptic predictions against ominous music, makes no reference to Mitt Romney, for whom the Israeli P.M. showed support earlier this year but “distanced himself a bit from” during U.S. television appearances last weekend, noted [Politico’s Maggie] Haberman.

As Salon mentioned earlier this week, Netanyahu has been claiming that time is running out on nuclear Iran since 1992.

That linked Salon item cites the Monitor, [a detailed account, per original link context below] in noting:

The hawkish premier undergirded his calls for action with the claim that by mid-2013 Iran would have 90 percent of the material it needed for an atomic weapon. However, as the Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson pointed out late last year, warnings about imminent nuclear threats from Iran date back “more than a quarter of a century … And yet, those predictions have time and time again come and gone.”

Most interestingly, in 1992, Netanhyahu himself — an Israeli parliament member at the time — told colleagues that Iran was three to five years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.”

Other historical moments of imminent nuclear threats from Iran include:

1992: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres predicts an Iranian nuclear warhead by 1999 to French TV.

1995: The New York Times quotes U.S. and Israeli officials saying that Iran would have the bomb by 2000.

1998: Donald Rumsfeld tells Congress that Iran could have an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. by 2003.

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler notes that Bibi’s most recent point — about Iran amassing the material for a nuclear bomb — is technically correct. “The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests that Iran already has more than enough uranium enriched to 20 percent that could converted into weapons-grade (90 percent) uranium for at least one nuclear weapon,” Kessler notes. However, he goes on to say that although Iran might be “ninety percent of the way there” — as Bibi emphasizes — ”ninety percent is not one hundred percent, and close only counts in horseshoes” (although in some respects close does count when it comes to nuclear weapons). Kessler highlights that Iran has been 90 percent of the way there before and will be again in terms of uranium enrichment, which is not the same thing as having a bomb.

The always "imminent" sky-is-falling-claim history suggests Bibi and Romney properly are old chums with like habits toward overstatement.


From Strib online opinion, this LTE (left margin, click it to enlarge and read).

One day later, this reader response.

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