WINEP in your face

I’ve omitted discussions of the “realist school” and “people power”. What I want to emphasise is that Ross’s pre- and post- government employer WINEP is just an AIPAC front. On their respective Wikipedia pages, Parsi is accused of being an Iranian agent, whereas Ross‘s employment by WINEP is not mentioned at all – RB

Israel lobby’s machinations on Iran probed in new book
Rod Such, Electronic Intifada, Feb 21 2012

Trita Parsi’s A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran asks whether Obama fulfilled his presidential campaign pledge to seek a diplomatic solution to the US conflict with Iran over its nuclear program. Parsi answers the question in the title, asserting that the Obama administration gave diplomacy a single roll of the dice, and a half-hearted one at that, before deciding to pursue sanctions, and in effect, short-circuiting any hopes of genuine diplomatic engagement. After more than thirty years of mistrust, enmity, and US saber-rattling, what was needed, Parsi argues, was a determined, multi-stage effort to give diplomacy a chance. Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council, an academic and a contributor to a number of media outlets. He is best known as the author of the 2007 book Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US, an eye-opening account of the decades-long conflicts and cooperation between all three nations as each pursued what Parsi describes as their own “hegemonic” ambitions in the Middle East. As the son of an Iranian who experienced political persecution under both the Shah of Iran and the Islamic republic, Parsi’s NAIC represents Iranian-USAians who uphold democratic rights and oppose military intervention and punitive sanctions against Iran, arguing that both will likely worsen the human rights situation there.

The bulk of the book is an exhaustive account of what happened to Obama’s campaign pledge, particularly after the Israeli government and its lobby in the US challenged the very notion of diplomacy. Despite this opposition, the Obama administration did make a proposal in Jun 2009 that led to direct, face-to-face negotiations with Iran in October that year. The proposal called for Iran to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment so that it could be used in a nuclear reactor that supplies medical isotopes needed to treat and diagnose nearly a million Iranian cancer patients. Iran initially was agreeable to the idea but grew mistrustful, particularly at the role France was playing in the negotiations. Iran had previously been burned in a uranium enrichment deal with France, an experience that some experts say was a prime motivator for Iran’s quest for nuclear energy independence. The talks eventually became stalemated. That is when Turkey and Brazil entered the picture. Given letters of approval from Obama to act as mediators, these two countries managed to secure Iran’s agreement to a proposal allowing Turkey to hold Iran’s low-enriched uranium in “escrow” while fuel pads needed for Iran’s nuclear reactor were processed. This would guarantee that Iran would get back its low-enriched uranium if the fuel pads were not delivered. The resulting Tehran Declaration in May 2010 appeared to be a significant diplomatic breakthrough.

Unknown to Turkey and Brazil, however, the Obama administration had all along been operating under a plan designed by Dennis Ross. Known as the “hybrid option,” the plan called for the US to pursue unconditional negotiations with Iran while simultaneously seeking tougher sanctions, focusing in particular on offering incentives to China and Russia for their support in the UNSC. Just days before Iran agreed to the Turkey-Brazil proposal, the US won China and Russia’s agreement to support tougher UN sanctions. Also, long before any negotiations began, Obama had assured Netanyahu in a May 2009 meeting at the White House that diplomacy had an end-of-year timetable after which sanctions and the military option would be on the table, according to leaked State Dept cables. The year-end deadline had passed, China and Russia were on board, and the Obama administration ended up rebuking Brazil and Turkey for their mediation efforts. Parsi’s book focuses on the single issue of diplomacy, but nevertheless it tackles a number of related issues. He highlights how despite Israel’s propaganda claim that Iran’s nuclear program represents an “existential threat,” Israeli Defense Minister Barak in Feb 2010 said:

I don’t think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, would drop it in the neighborhood. They fully understand what might follow. They are radical but not totally crazy. They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process, and they understand reality.

Parsi quotes former Israeli deputy minister of defense Efraim Sneh to show that what Israel really fears is the undermining of its role as a dominant regional power. Sneh said, in an interview conducted for this book:

I don’t want the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to be held under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Parsi also maintains that Israel has long feared that it might one day be abandoned by the US. He quotes a prediction made by an advisor to Netanyahu:

The Great Satan will make up with Iran and forget about Israel.

Moreover, he argues that if the goal of sanctions is to oust the current Iranian government, it will do little to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions since nearly all segments of Iranian society, including the reformist Green Movement, support Iran’s quest for a civilian nuclear energy program. In fact, Parsi shows, many reform leaders attacked Ahmadinejad for making too many concessions in the negotiations. Parsi’s book fails to analyse the series of events that occurred during Bush 43’s last year in office, when Israel proposed a joint preemptive air strike against Iran. The Bush administration turned down the request, but agreed instead to conduct a joint covert campaign of sabotage against Iran. According to Andrew Cockburn, Bush issued a “finding” that gave executive approval to assassinations, even though an executive order issued in the 1970s forbids political assassinations. This covert war, still being waged against Iran, has significantly increased the likelihood of open warfare.

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