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Death once had a near-Sarah Palin experience.

calendar   Thursday - January 22, 2009

Does Barack Obama have Iran’s number?  ( It won’t hurt to read this opinion people. )

I guess I just don’t understand or perhaps am unwilling to or even may be too thick to understand all this talk of winning hearts and minds.
What minds? Whose heart? I get lost in this.

Are the critics saying (as it appears to me) that all we have to do to become friends of all these folks, is agree with them?
I frankly read that sort of talk as allowing foreign peoples to make judgments on American affairs that we then MUST follow.  Am I reading that incorrectly?

I’m not talking about a situation where as Americans we move in on someone and insist they live and think as we do.  I don’t want that. I don’t wanna be the world’s policeman either except where American interests and security are concerned. 

It has been said that George W Bush alienated much of the world.  I suppose he may have but I still don’t understand exactly what he did to alienate them.
By defending our country?  The invasion of Iraq?  What?  Seems to me he alienated the left and they have never been on our side anyway. Unless we were paying them something under the table.

Not my job to make decisions but I’d sure like to better understand what’s behind those that are made and just why “the world” insists on making a big deal out of things like Guantanamo which aren’t anyones business but ours.  And I don’t like the idea that we should be sucking up to our critics. Screw em.


President Barack Obama’s popularity has even stretched to Tehran, where Ahmadinejad’s appeal is waning fast, says David Blair

By David Blair
Last Updated: 11:40PM GMT 21 Jan 2009

Hard on the heels of President Barack Obama’s soaring rhetoric comes the cold reality. On his first full day in the Oval office, he takes the helm of an America whose global reputation has sunk lower than at any time since the dismal era of Watergate and Vietnam. Worse, this precipitous decline has taken place at exactly the moment when appealing to the hearts and minds of millions is the indispensable condition for defeating terrorism.

Mr Obama’s inaugural address showed that he grasps this only too well. The lengthy passages aimed at an audience beyond America’s shores also carried an unspoken theme. “I know that we are losing the battle for world opinion,” the new President was subliminally telling us, “and I also know that turning this tide is central to securing the power and safety of the United States.”

This is especially so among Muslims, hence Mr Obama declared: “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Is he the man to do it? After George W Bush alienated much of the world, is Mr Obama the President who can win back global opinion?

On his first working day, it is hard to imagine anyone better qualified. Mr Obama has more goodwill than would have seemed possible for an American president during the Bush years. His oratorical prowess and obvious sensitivity to world opinion, his opposition to the invasion of Iraq and, of course, his race, all count in his favour. His first decision was to draw the sting of Guantanamo by suspending the trials presently being conducted by military tribunals.

“We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” said Mr Obama on the steps of the Capitol, adding that the “rule of law and the rights of man” would not be sacrificed “for expedience’s sake”. These words amounted to a barbed rebuke for Mr Bush, the architect of Guantanamo and the man who authorised the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

Meanwhile, the very name of Barack Hussein Obama might be calculated to appeal to Muslims. “Barack” is Arabic for “the blessed one”, while “Hussein” was the founder of Islam’s Shia faith who died in Iraq during the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

Mr Obama’s daily security briefings will focus on a stark list of threats. The leading concern will probably be Pakistan’s steady descent into a failed state with nuclear weapons, providing a haven for al-Qaeda’s core leadership.

This is one conundrum which Mr Obama’s reassertion of America’s cultural appeal – or “soft power” – will do little to solve. In the end, only military, political and covert power can provide the answer to Pakistan’s possible collapse and the closely linked violence in neighbouring Afghanistan. Hence Mr Obama has already decided to deploy another 20,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan and replicate the successful “troop surge” in Iraq.

But there is one crucial foreign policy challenge where Mr Obama’s personal charisma and appeal might have a direct and decisive impact. Iran’s nuclear programme and its sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East present America with a threat that comprehensively defeated Mr Bush.

Iran’s revolutionary Shia regime might be viscerally anti-American. The same cannot be said, however, of its youthful, culturally Westernised population. About two thirds of Iran’s 70 million people are under 30 and their view of America is often the very opposite of the official line.

Ask young Iranians which country they would most like to visit, and they will probably answer America. The superpower’s films, music and fashion are all immensely popular inside this revolutionary citadel, where millions of households openly defy an official ban on possessing satellite dishes. Visit the bookshops outside Tehran University and you will find dictionaries of “American English” and even guides to adopting an American accent.

For as long as Mr Bush was in the White House, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could be confident of his ability to rally Iranians against the Washington administration, if not against America itself. At a stroke, Mr Obama’s arrival has removed this crucial reassurance.

“Ahmadinejad and the present crowd don’t know how to deal with anyone other than Bush,” said Dr Ali Ansari, an expert on Iranian politics at St Andrews University. “They would have much preferred it if John McCain had won. Then all they would have had to do is carry on shouting ‘death to America’. Now you’ve got Barack Hussein Obama as President and that’s a huge problem for them.”

Iran’s leaders will be only too aware that Mr Obama’s appeal will extend to millions of their own citizens. Place Mr Ahmadinejad alongside America’s new leader and he sinks to become a risible figure. If young Iranians were asked to choose between their president and Mr Obama, Dr Ansari said there was no doubt about who would win. “In a popularity poll, certainly among young Iranians, Obama would win. I don’t think there would be much of a contest.”

In the week last November when Mr Obama was elected, Iran’s regime unwittingly revealed its fear of the appeal of America’s new leader. A reformist news magazine in Tehran placed his face on its front cover and asked: “Who is Iran’s Obama?” The magazine was instantly banned.

Iran will hold presidential elections in June and Mr Ahmadinejad’s political career hangs in the balance. His disastrous management of the economy, rendered still worse by the recent collapse in oil prices, has alienated many supporters. A large faction of hardline conservatives has turned against the president, including Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, and Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran.

Whether Mr Ahmadinejad will be allowed to seek re-election is ultimately in the hands of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The arrival of Mr Obama might tip the balance of this calculation against Iran’s president. “There’s a view among the educated in Iran that Ahmadinejad was right for Bush, but he’s not right for Obama,” said Dr Ansari.

On his first day in office, Mr Obama may already have made Mr Ahmadinejad’s survival less likely. If the Iranian president does fall in June, his possible successor is Mohammed Khatami, a liberal cleric. Mr Khatami, who served as Iran’s first reformist president between 1997 and 2005, remains extremely popular, despite achieving very little while in office.

If Mr Khatami decides to run for Iran’s presidency – and the Supreme Leader, who wields ultimate power, may still be able to thwart this – he would probably win. Despite all the limitations on the authority of Iran’s president, whoever holds this post sets the tone of foreign policy and makes key appointments.

The removal of Mr Ahmadinejad and the possible arrival of Mr Khatami – both of which are made more likely by Mr Obama’s arrival in the White House – could set the stage for a historic rapprochement between America and Iran. “There’s a real window of opportunity, there’s no doubt about it,” said Dr Ansari.

But Mr Obama will undoubtedly continue with a raft of policies which will offend Muslims across the world, including in Iran. America’s support for Israel will remain non-negotiable. Mr Obama might accelerate withdrawal from Iraq, but he will deepen its involvement in Afghanistan by sending yet more US troops to a Muslim country. The signs are that his stance towards Pakistan will be tougher than his predecessor’s and US forces in Afghanistan are highly unlikely to stop their cross-border missile strikes into al-Qaeda’s strongholds in the Tribal Areas, now almost weekly occurrences.

Mr Obama will eventually find a way of closing Guantanamo and dealing with its existing detainees. He will also ban the CIA and US forces from using any of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that seem indistinguishable from torture. Yet on any day, he could receive vital information from the intelligence agency of an American ally, perhaps in the Middle East, which was extracted by torturing a suspect. Will he refuse to read this? Or will America under Mr Obama implicitly outsource torture to its less scrupulous allies?

These hard realities may yet jeopardise Mr Obama’s appeal in the Muslim world. But in Iran, at least, his powers of oratory and charisma could be a transforming factor.

THE ONE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/22/2009 at 02:36 PM   
Filed Under: • IranMiscellaneousRoPMA •  
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