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The Obama Doctrine

Bit of a long read, but worth it:

APRIL 5, 2015

Obama on Iran and His View of the World

Thomas L. Friedman

In September 1996, I visited Iran. One of my most enduring memories of that trip was that in my hotel lobby there was a sign above the door proclaiming “Down With USA.” But it wasn’t a banner or graffiti. It was tiled and plastered into the wall. I thought to myself: “Wow — that’s tiled in there! That won’t come out easily.” Nearly 20 years later, in the wake of a draft deal between the Obama administration and Iran, we have what may be the best chance to begin to pry that sign loose, to ease the U.S.-Iran cold/hot war that has roiled the region for 36 years. But it is a chance fraught with real risks to America, Israel and our Sunni Arab allies: that Iran could eventually become a nuclear-armed state.

President Obama invited me to the Oval Office Saturday afternoon to lay out exactly how he was trying to balance these risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran last week in Switzerland. What struck me most was what I’d call an “Obama doctrine” embedded in the president’s remarks. It emerged when I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-_-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities — like trying to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran that, while permitting it to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.
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Play Video|5:29
What Is the ‘Obama Doctrine’?
What Is the ‘Obama Doctrine’?

President Obama lays out his preference for engagement over isolation in his approach to foreign policy. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

“We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk. And that’s the thing ... people don’t seem to understand,” the president said. “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies. The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. ... You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

The notion that Iran is undeterrable — “it’s simply not the case,” he added. “And so for us to say, ‘Let’s try’ — understanding that we’re preserving all our options, that we’re not naïve — but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place. ... We’re not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn’t we test it?”

Obviously, Israel is in a different situation, he added. “Now, what you might hear from Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, which I respect, is the notion, ‘Look, Israel is more vulnerable. We don’t have the luxury of testing these propositions the way you do,’ and I completely understand that. And further, I completely understand Israel’s belief that given the tragic history of the Jewish people, they can’t be dependent solely on us for their own security. But what I would say to them is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure that they maintain their qualitative military edge, and that they can deter any potential future attacks, but what I’m willing to do is to make the kinds of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them. And that, I think, should be ... sufficient to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table.”

He added: “What I would say to the Israeli people is ... that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable.”

The president gave voice, though — in a more emotional and personal way than I’ve ever heard — to his distress at being depicted in Israel and among American Jews as somehow anti-Israel, when his views on peace are shared by many center-left Israelis and his administration has been acknowledged by Israeli officials to have been as vigorous as any in maintaining Israel’s strategic edge.

With huge amounts of conservative campaign money now flowing to candidates espousing pro-Israel views, which party is more supportive of Israel is becoming a wedge issue, an arms race, with Republican candidates competing over who can be the most unreservedly supportive of Israel in any disagreement with the United States, and ordinary, pro-Israel Democrats increasingly feeling sidelined.
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Play Video|4:38
What Obama Would Say to Israelis
What Obama Would Say to Israelis

President Obama explains why the nuclear deal is the best, and only, option to keep Israel safe from Iran. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

“This is an area that I’ve been concerned about,” the president said. “Look, Israel is a robust, rowdy democracy. ... We share so much. We share blood, family. ... And part of what has always made the U.S.-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as ... opposing Israel. There has to be a way for Prime Minister Netanyahu to disagree with me on policy without being viewed as anti-Democrat, and I think the right way to do it is to recognize that as many commonalities as we have, there are going to be strategic differences. And I think that it is important for each side to respect the debate that takes place in the other country and not try to work just with one side. ... But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.”

You take it personally? I asked.

“It has been personally difficult for me to hear ... expressions that somehow ... this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest — and the suggestion that when we have very serious policy differences, that that’s not in the context of a deep and abiding friendship and concern and understanding of the threats that the Jewish people have faced historically and continue to face.”

As for protecting our Sunni Arab allies, like Saudi Arabia, the president said, they have some very real external threats, but they also have some internal threats — “populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances. And so part of our job is to work with these states and say, ‘How can we build your defense capabilities against external threats, but also, how can we strengthen the body politic in these countries, so that Sunni youth feel that they’ve got something other than [the Islamic State, or ISIS] to choose from. ... I think the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. ... That’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have.”

That said, the Iran deal is far from finished. As the president cautioned: “We’re not done yet. There are a lot of details to be worked out, and you could see backtracking and slippage and real political difficulties, both in Iran and obviously here in the United States Congress.”

On Congress’s role, Obama said he insists on preserving the presidential prerogative to enter into binding agreements with foreign powers without congressional approval. However, he added, “I do think that [Tennessee Republican] Senator Corker, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, is somebody who is sincerely concerned about this issue and is a good and decent man, and my hope is that we can find something that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives — and ensures that, if in fact we get a good deal, that we can go ahead and implement it.”
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Since President Obama has had more direct and indirect dealings with Iran’s leadership — including an exchange of numerous letters with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — than any of his predecessors since Iran’s revolution in 1979, I asked what he has learned from the back and forth.

“I think that it’s important to recognize that Iran is a complicated country — just like we’re a complicated country,” the president said. “There is no doubt that, given the history between our two countries, that there is deep mistrust that is not going to fade away immediately. The activities that they engage in, the rhetoric, both anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, is deeply disturbing. There are deep trends in the country that are contrary to not only our own national security interests and views but those of our allies and friends in the region, and those divisions are real.”

But, he added, “what we’ve also seen is that there is a practical streak to the Iranian regime. I think they are concerned about self-preservation. I think they are responsive, to some degree, to their publics. I think the election of [President Hassan] Rouhani indicated that there was an appetite among the Iranian people for a rejoining with the international community, an emphasis on the economics and the desire to link up with a global economy. And so what we’ve seen over the last several years, I think, is the opportunity for those forces within Iran that want to break out of the rigid framework that they have been in for a long time to move in a different direction. It’s not a radical break, but it’s one that I think offers us the chance for a different type of relationship, and this nuclear deal, I think, is a potential expression of that.”

What about Iran’s supreme leader, who will be the ultimate decider there on whether or not Iran moves ahead? What have you learned about him?
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Play Video|3:24
What Obama Would Say to Iranians
What Obama Would Say to Iranians

President Obama explains why Iran does not need to have nuclear weapons to be a regional powerhouse. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

“He’s a pretty tough read,” the president said. “I haven’t spoken to him directly. In the letters that he sends, there [are] typically a lot of reminders of what he perceives as past grievances against Iran, but what is, I think, telling is that he did give his negotiators in this deal the leeway, the capability to make important concessions, that would allow this framework agreement to come to fruition. So what that tells me is that — although he is deeply suspicious of the West [and] very insular in how he thinks about international issues as well as domestic issues, and deeply conservative — he does realize that the sanctions regime that we put together was weakening Iran over the long term, and that if in fact he wanted to see Iran re-enter the community of nations, then there were going to have to be changes.”

Since he has acknowledged Israel’s concerns, and the fact that they are widely shared there, if the president had a chance to make his case for this framework deal directly to the Israeli people, what would he say?

“Well, what I’d say to them is this,” the president answered. “You have every right to be concerned about Iran. This is a regime that at the highest levels has expressed the desire to destroy Israel, that has denied the Holocaust, that has expressed venomous anti-Semitic ideas and is a big country with a big population and has a sophisticated military. So Israel is right to be concerned about Iran, and they should be absolutely concerned that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But, he insisted, this framework initiative, if it can be implemented, can satisfy that Israeli strategic concern with more effectiveness and at less cost to Israel than any other approach. “We know that a military strike or a series of military strikes can set back Iran’s nuclear program for a period of time — but almost certainly will prompt Iran to rush towards a bomb, will provide an excuse for hard-liners inside of Iran to say, ‘This is what happens when you don’t have a nuclear weapon: America attacks.’

“We know that if we do nothing, other than just maintain sanctions, that they will continue with the building of their nuclear infrastructure and we’ll have less insight into what exactly is happening,” Obama added. “So this may not be optimal. In a perfect world, Iran would say, ‘We won’t have any nuclear infrastructure at all,’ but what we know is that this has become a matter of pride and nationalism for Iran. Even those who we consider moderates and reformers are supportive of some nuclear program inside of Iran, and given that they will not capitulate completely, given that they can’t meet the threshold that Prime Minister Netanyahu sets forth, there are no Iranian leaders who will do that. And given the fact that this is a country that withstood an eight-year war and a million people dead, they’ve shown themselves willing, I think, to endure hardship when they considered a point of national pride or, in some cases, national survival.”

The president continued: “For us to examine those options and say to ourselves, ‘You know what, if we can have vigorous inspections, unprecedented, and we know at every point along their nuclear chain exactly what they’re doing and that lasts for 20 years, and for the first 10 years their program is not just frozen but effectively rolled back to a larger degree, and we know that even if they wanted to cheat we would have at least a year, which is about three times longer than we’d have right now, and we would have insights into their programs that we’ve never had before,’ in that circumstance, the notion that we wouldn’t take that deal right now and that that would not be in Israel’s interest is simply incorrect.”

Because, Obama argued, “the one thing that changes the equation is when these countries get a nuclear weapon. ... Witness North Korea, which is a problem state that is rendered a lot more dangerous because of their nuclear program. If we can prevent that from happening anyplace else in the world, that’s something where it’s worth taking some risks.”

“I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have,” he added, “and I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there. And I think the combination of a diplomatic path that puts the nuclear issue to one side — while at the same time sending a clear message to the Iranians that you have to change your behavior more broadly and that we are going to protect our allies if you continue to engage in destabilizing aggressive activity — I think that’s a combination that potentially at least not only assures our friends, but starts bringing down the temperature.”
Continue reading the main story Video
Play Video|2:21
Lessons From the Negotiations
Lessons From the Negotiations

President Obama on the complexity and “practical streak” of the Iranian regime. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

There is clearly a debate going on inside Iran as to whether the country should go ahead with this framework deal as well, so what would the president say to the Iranian people to persuade them that this deal is in their interest?

If their leaders really are telling the truth that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon, the president said, then “the notion that they would want to expend so much on a symbolic program as opposed to harnessing the incredible talents and ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the Iranian people, and be part of the world economy and see their nation excel in those terms, that should be a pretty straightforward choice for them. Iran doesn’t need nuclear weapons to be a powerhouse in the region. For that matter, what I’d say to the Iranian people is: You don’t need to be anti-Semitic or anti-Israel or anti-Sunni to be a powerhouse in the region. I mean, the truth is, Iran has all these potential assets going for it where, if it was a responsible international player, if it did not engage in aggressive rhetoric against its neighbors, if it didn’t express anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment, if it maintained a military that was sufficient to protect itself, but was not engaging in a whole bunch of proxy wars around the region, by virtue of its size, its resources and its people it would be an extremely successful regional power. And so my hope is that the Iranian people begin to recognize that.”

Clearly, he added, “part of the psychology of Iran is rooted in past experiences, the sense that their country was undermined, that the United States or the West meddled in first their democracy and then in supporting the Shah and then in supporting Iraq and Saddam during that extremely brutal war. So part of what I’ve told my team is we have to distinguish between the ideologically driven, offensive Iran and the defensive Iran that feels vulnerable and sometimes may be reacting because they perceive that as the only way that they can avoid repeats of the past. ... But if we’re able to get this done, then what may happen — and I’m not counting on it — but what may happen is that those forces inside of Iran that say, ‘We don’t need to view ourselves entirely through the lens of our war machine. Let’s excel in science and technology and job creation and developing our people,’ that those folks get stronger. ... I say that emphasizing that the nuclear deal that we’ve put together is not based on the idea that somehow the regime changes.
Continue reading the main story Video
Play Video|3:24
Israel and United States Congress
Israel and United States Congress

President Obama on the breakdown of bipartisan debate over Israel and his personal affinity with the Israeli people. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

“It is a good deal even if Iran doesn’t change at all,” Obama argued. “Even for somebody who believes, as I suspect Prime Minister Netanyahu believes, that there is no difference between Rouhani and the supreme leader and they’re all adamantly anti-West and anti-Israel and perennial liars and cheaters — even if you believed all that, this still would be the right thing to do. It would still be the best option for us to protect ourselves. In fact, you could argue that if they are implacably opposed to us, all the more reason for us to want to have a deal in which we know what they’re doing and that, for a long period of time, we can prevent them from having a nuclear weapon.”

There are several very sensitive points in the framework agreement that are not clear to me, and I asked the president for his interpretation. For instance, if we suspect that Iran is cheating, is harboring a covert nuclear program outside of the declared nuclear facilities covered in this deal — say, at a military base in southeastern Iran — do we have the right to insist on that facility being examined by international inspectors?

“In the first instance, what we have agreed to is that we will be able to inspect and verify what’s happening along the entire nuclear chain from the uranium mines all the way through to the final facilities like Natanz,” the president said. “What that means is that we’re not just going to have a bunch of folks posted at two or three or five sites. We are going to be able to see what they’re doing across the board, and in fact, if they now wanted to initiate a covert program that was designed to produce a nuclear weapon, they’d have to create a whole different supply chain. That’s point number one. Point number two, we’re actually going to be setting up a procurement committee that examines what they’re importing, what they’re bringing in that they might claim as dual-use, to determine whether or not what they’re using is something that would be appropriate for a peaceful nuclear program versus a weapons program. And number three, what we’re going to be doing is setting up a mechanism whereby, yes, I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors can go anyplace.”

Anywhere in Iran? I asked.

“That we suspect,” the president answered. “Obviously, a request will have to be made. Iran could object, but what we have done is to try to design a mechanism whereby once those objections are heard, that it is not a final veto that Iran has, but in fact some sort of international mechanism will be in place that makes a fair assessment as to whether there should be an inspection, and if they determine it should be, that’s the tiebreaker, not Iran saying, ‘No, you can’t come here.’ So over all, what we’re seeing is not just the additional protocols that I.A.E.A. has imposed on countries that are suspected of in the past having had problematic nuclear programs, we’re going even beyond that, and Iran will be subject to the kinds of inspections and verification mechanisms that have never been put in place before.”

A lot of people, myself included, will want to see the fine print on that. Another issue that doesn’t seem to have been resolved yet is: When exactly do the economic sanctions on Iran get lifted? When the implementation begins? When Iran has been deemed to be complying fully?

“There are still details to be worked out,” the president said, “but I think that the basic framework calls for Iran to take the steps that it needs to around [the Fordow enrichment facility], the centrifuges, and so forth. At that point, then, the U.N. sanctions are suspended; although the sanctions related to proliferation, the sanctions related to ballistic missiles, there’s a set of sanctions that remain in place. At that point, then, we preserve the ability to snap back those sanctions, if there is a violation. If not, though, Iran, outside of the proliferation and ballistic missile issues that stay in place, they’re able to get out from under the sanctions, understanding that this constant monitoring will potentially trigger some sort of action if they’re in violation.”

There are still United States sanctions that are related to Iran’s behavior in terrorism and human rights abuse, though, the president added: “There are certain sanctions that we have that would remain in place because they’re not related to Iran’s nuclear program, and this, I think, gets to a central point that we’ve made consistently. If in fact we are able to finalize the nuclear deal, and if Iran abides by it, that’s a big piece of business that we’ve gotten done, but it does not end our problems with Iran, and we are still going to be aggressively working with our allies and friends to reduce — and hopefully at some point stop — the destabilizing activities that Iran has engaged in, the sponsorship of terrorist organizations. And that may take some time. But it’s our belief, it’s my belief, that we will be in a stronger position to do so if the nuclear issue has been put in a box. And if we can do that, it’s possible that Iran, seeing the benefits of sanctions relief, starts focusing more on the economy and its people. And investment starts coming in, and the country starts opening up. If we’ve done a good job in bolstering the sense of security and defense cooperation between us and the Sunni states, if we have made even more certain that the Israeli people are absolutely protected not just by their own capacities, but also by our commitments, then what’s possible is you start seeing an equilibrium in the region, and Sunni and Shia, Saudi and Iran start saying, ‘Maybe we should lower tensions and focus on the extremists like [ISIS] that would burn down this entire region if they could.’ ”

Regarding America’s Sunni Arab allies, Obama reiterated that while he is prepared to help increase their military capabilities they also need to increase their willingness to commit their ground troops to solving regional problems.

“The conversations I want to have with the Gulf countries is, first and foremost, how do they build more effective defense capabilities,” the president said. “I think when you look at what happens in Syria, for example, there’s been a great desire for the United States to get in there and do something. But the question is: Why is it that we can’t have Arabs fighting [against] the terrible human rights abuses that have been perpetrated, or fighting against what Assad has done? I also think that I can send a message to them about the U.S.’s commitments to work with them and ensure that they are not invaded from the outside, and that perhaps will ease some of their concerns and allow them to have a more fruitful conversation with the Iranians. What I can’t do, though, is commit to dealing with some of these internal issues that they have without them making some changes that are more responsive to their people.”

One way to think about it, Obama continued, “is [that] when it comes to external aggression, I think we’re going to be there for our [Arab] friends — and I want to see how we can formalize that a little bit more than we currently have, and also help build their capacity so that they feel more confident about their ability to protect themselves from external aggression.” But, he repeated, “The biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. Now disentangling that from real terrorist activity inside their country, how we sort that out, how we engage in the counterterrorism cooperation that’s been so important to our own security — without automatically legitimizing or validating whatever repressive tactics they may employ — I think that’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have.”
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Play Video|2:52
Congress’s ‘Red Line’
Congress’s ‘Red Line’

President Obama on the “dangers” that arise when lawmakers breach traditional channels of foreign policy. This is an excerpt of an interview with Thomas L. Friedman.
By A.J. Chavar, Quynhanh Do, David Frank, Abe Sater and Ben Werschkul on Publish Date April 5, 2015. Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

It feels lately like some traditional boundaries between the executive and legislative branches, when it comes to the conduct of American foreign policy, have been breached. For instance, there was the letter from 47 Republican senators to Iran’s supreme leader cautioning him on striking any deal with Obama not endorsed by them — coming in the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu being invited by the speaker of the House, John Boehner, to address a joint session of Congress — without consulting the White House. How is Obama taking this?

“I do worry that some traditional boundaries in how we think about foreign policy have been crossed,” the president said. “I felt the letter that was sent to the supreme leader was inappropriate. I think that you will recall there were some deep disagreements with President Bush about the Iraq war, but the notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats sending letters to leaders in the region or to European leaders ... trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling.

“The bottom line,” he added, “is that we’re going to have serious debates, serious disagreements, and I welcome those because that’s how our democracy is supposed to work, and in today’s international environment, whatever arguments we have here, other people are hearing and reading about it. It’s not a secret that the Republicans may feel more affinity with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s views of the Iran issue than they do with mine. But [we need to be] keeping that within some formal boundaries, so that the executive branch, when it goes overseas, when it’s communicating with foreign leaders, is understood to be speaking on behalf of the United States of America, not a divided United States of America, making sure that whether that president is a Democrat or a Republican that once the debates have been had here, that he or she is the spokesperson on behalf of U.S. foreign policy. And that’s clear to every leader around the world. That’s important because without that, what you start getting is multiple foreign policies, confusion among foreign powers as to who speaks for who, and that ends up being a very dangerous — circumstances that could be exploited by our enemies and could deeply disturb our friends.”

As for the Obama doctrine — “we will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities” — the president concluded: “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and I think they should understand that we mean it. But I say that hoping that we can conclude this diplomatic arrangement — and that it ushers a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations — and, just as importantly, over time, a new era in Iranian relations with its neighbors.”

Whatever happened in the past, he said, “at this point, the U.S.’s core interests in the region are not oil, are not territorial. ... Our core interests are that everybody is living in peace, that it is orderly, that our allies are not being attacked, that children are not having barrel bombs dropped on them, that massive displacements aren’t taking place. Our interests in this sense are really just making sure that the region is working. And if it’s working well, then we’ll do fine. And that’s going to be a big project, given what’s taken place, but I think this [Iran framework deal] is at least one place to start.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/opinion/thomas-friedman-the-obama-doctrine-and-iran-interview.html?emc=edit_na_20150405



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oh that thomas friedman

Thomas L. Friedman, Then and Now
March 20, 2015
Let me now go to the Thomas "Loopy" Friedman column and to set this up I want to go back to yesterday's sound bite that we played from Thomas Friedman. He's a New York Times foreign policy columnist/expert, and this is from Wednesday night's CNN Erin Burnett OutFront. She said to Tom Friedman -- and it's embarrassing, this guy is a Bible, he is the gospel in foreign policy to everybody that reads the New York Times. And it's just absurd, it's dangerous, 'cause the guy's so wrong. I don't know, folks. These are the kind of things that, if you think about it too much, it actually makes you question your faith in people to get things right.

But, anyway, a question from Burnett: "You wrote that Benjamin Netanyahu went for the gutter with the comment to supporters that Arab voters were coming out to vote in huge numbers." Talk about that, oh brilliant Friedman, tell us about that.

FRIEDMAN: Netanyahu, to save himself, took votes from even farther-right parties. And now he is saddled with the way he did that, this kind of race-baiting, and at the same time with throwing out the window of his election bus the whole notion of a two-state solution. The people who are happiest tonight, who are high-fiving and toasting themselves with endless Allahu Akbars is the Iranian Regime in Tehran. Iran wants a one-state solution so there is a constant grinding between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Nothing makes Iran happier than Israel opting for a one-state solution.

RUSH: Right. So Netanyahu has clarified that a number of times, most recently last night with Megyn Kelly. We have audio sound bites of that coming up. Stand by for that, but he's being misrepresented purposely, willfully, on what he had said about the two state, one-state solution. But this is all academic, too, because there's no two-state solution. The Palestinians do not want an Israeli state, a Jewish state. There is no two-state solution. And I know I'm being repetitive.

But, anyway, so you heard Loopy Thomas Friedman say this yesterday. I went back, I got a column of his, New York Times on March the 7th of 2012. So this is coming up on three years ago, three years ago. And it's stunning, just three years ago Friedman said the exact opposite of what you just heard him say in that sound bite. He quotes Obama from before the election. The title of the peace is, "Israel's Best Friend." Do you know who that is? That's Obama's in Friedman's eyes.

Let me read you excerpts. "The only question I have when it comes to President Obama and Israel is whether he is the most pro-Israel president in history or just one of the most.

Why? Because the question of whether Israel has the need and the right to pre-emptively attack Iran as it develops a nuclear potential is one of the most hotly contested issues on the world stage today. It is also an issue fraught with danger for Israel and American Jews, neither of whom want to be accused of dragging America into a war, especially one that could weaken an already frail world economy."

Remember now, it's three years ago.

"In that context, President Obama, in his interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and in his address to Aipac, the pro-Israel lobby, offered the greatest support for Israel that any president could at this time: He redefined the Iran issue. He said -- rightly -- that it was not simply about Israel’s security, but about U.S. national security and global security."

Now, listen to this.

"Obama did this --" three years ago "-- by making clear that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons and then 'containing' it -- the way the US contained the Soviet Union -- was not a viable option, because if Iran acquires a nuclear bomb, all the states around it would seek to acquire one as well."

May I translate this for you? Three years ago, Thomas Friedman quoted Obama as saying that what he's now trying to do with Iran would be a mistake. Our current deal with Iran is precisely to give them a nuclear weapon after ten years. And then all the while use the power of our speeches and the power of our words and the power of our personality to convince them never to use that weapon.

But the theory is, we have no right to tell them they can't have one. I mean, they're there, if they have the ability to make one, who are we to tell 'em they can't? So the best we can do is negotiate with them that they can have one and that they can't develop it fully for weapon use for ten years, and during that time will convince them never to use it. Okay, that is the current plan. Let me read this to you again from three years ago.

Obama, in a column about how he's Israel's best friend, according to Friedman, Obama made clear that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and then containing it, was not a viable option. So three years ago Obama said that the very thing he's trying to do now is not viable. What's changed? And of course three years ago Thomas Friedman is writing about all this as though Obama, what a brilliant guy, oh, my God, can we even hope to exist in his countenance? This guy's so smart, he's the best friend Israel ever had. Three years ago, because three years ago Obama was totally opposed to Iran getting a nuclear weapon because if they did, then every other state in the region would say, "Hey, they have one, we want one," and we couldn't variably say, "No, you can't."

So we can't let Iran have a nuclear weapon three years ago. Today, it's exactly what our plan is. Let them have the nuclear weapon and then contain them, convince them never to use it like we did the Soviet Union. So is now Obama not Israel's best friend? Because three years ago he was Israel's best friend by asserting that Iran would never get the nuke. Three years later, I don't think anybody in their right mind would consider Obama a good -- there's no way he's a friend of Israel in any way, shape, manner, or form right now.


RUSH: Now, one more thing from the Thomas Friedman column three years ago, which is the direct opposite of what he's saying today, the direct opposite of what Obama's saying today. Thomas Friedman. This is March the 7th of 2012. "'Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States,' the president told The Atlantic.

"'If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, this would run completely contrary to my policies of nonproliferation. The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound.'" Three years ago! This is Obama, three years ago, assuring everybody there isn't gonna be a nuclear Iran, not on his watch, and Thomas "Loopy" Friedman writing a piece about this is the best friend Israel's ever had. You hear that? He's really tough. He's not gonna let the Iranians have a nuke!

And now? We are gonna let Iranians have a nuke, and we claim that the ayatollah has a fatwa against them that nobody can find. We know that the nuclear deal permits Iran to have a nuclear weapon in 10 years. Obama doesn't have to face voters anymore, so he can do a 180 here. It was a lie three years ago; Thomas Friedman bought it. Now the Iranians are on the road to getting a nuclear weapon, in direct contravention of everything these leftists three years ago, two years ago, last year -- and, as always, it's American hardliners and Israel who are the problem.

END TRANSCRIPT

normally dont link up to R Limbaugh but when i saw you post TFriedman i couldnt hlep but laugh because i did hear this piece on Rush about 3 weeks ago

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Friedman isn't always right and I don't always agree with his assessments. However, the article I posted seems right on when it comes' to Barry's foreign policy direction. Read Barry's own quotes in that article.



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"I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch,"

LOLOLOLOL
meaning: I think I can persuade my buddies to hold off for another 2 years but the agreement I just weakly negotiated gives them a nukes reagardless ....just not on my watch
Let some other PRez worry about it

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I'm fairly certain Iran won't get get nukes under President Hillary either.



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Originally posted by translucent
I'm fairly certain Iran won't get get nukes under President Hillary either.

typical woman hating lib you are

She is to be referred to as Mrs Clinton not Hillary any more
WASHINGTON — There’s Beyoncé and Madonna, Cher and Prince. And now Hillary.
It may not be exactly the same as the long list of celebrities known by their first names. But Hillary Clinton has become known simply as Hillary in bumper stickers and headlines, on Twitter and Facebook, around water coolers and in coffee shops.
Yet some Americans, mostly women, don’t think the former secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady should be called by just her first name.
“I think it’s pretty unjust,” said Monica Warek, 23, on a recent visit to Washington from New York City. “I think it shows the level of inequality that still exists in the workforce and just in general in society.”

As Clinton gets ready to kick off her campaign for the White House, some wonder whether calling a female candidate by her first name reinforces gender stereotypes.
Or does it make her seem more personable?
Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic activist who co-chaired Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign in New Hampshire, said she has long noticed that women politicians in her own state are called by their first names. The first-in-the-nation presidential primary state boasts a female governor and an all-female congressional delegation to Washington.
“It has nothing to with political party,” Sullivan said. “It reflects a tendency of some people, but it may be totally unconscious.”
Hillary Clinton, 67, a fixture in American politics for more than two decades and the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016, is expected to launch her campaign for president this month, according to those knowledgeable about her plans but not authorized to speak publicly.
Already, businesses are hawking Hillary 2016 T-shirts and posters and Ready for Hillary, a political action committee helping lay the groundwork for a second presidential run, is signing up volunteers.
Terrell Penn, 39, of Washington, says he thinks people call Clinton by her first name because they are comfortable with her. “I think it’s cool,” he said. “First name, last name; as long as she’s getting recognized.”
Of course, in Clinton’s case, this may all just be a way to distinguish her from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who dominated Democratic politics for so long and still has a 65 percent favorability rating. An online search of the word “Hillary” produces a slew of news stories about the 2016 race, while a search of “Clinton” leads to information about husband and wife.
Clinton, the first female candidate to seriously vie for the presidency, was called by her first name four times more than her 2008 Democratic rival Barack Obama, according to a study examining news coverage of the 2008 presidential race by University of Utah researchers published in the Political Research Quarterly. Male news anchors and reporters also dropped Clinton’s title of senator more than did female broadcasters, the document showed.
In any case, John Mosier, 67, of New York City, never liked the practice. “I think it generally cheapens the image of the candidate,” he said.
Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University who referred to Clinton in her book, “Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work,” said Clinton may be called by her first name in part because “Hillary” is more distinctive than common female names such as Susan or Mary. (Clinton’s mother had said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand explorer who with Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2006, her aides said that was not true.)
Tannen said that no matter the reason that people use first names – even if it’s a sign of friendliness – there is no denying that the result is that the person does not get as much respect.
Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in California, is often called Carly, another distinctive name. A group of supporters recently launched ‘Carly for America’ to prepare for her potential presidential run.
But some male politicians have been called by their first names, said Allan Lichtman, a political historian who teaches at American University.
Teddy Roosevelt was called Teddy, though he apparently despised the nickname. Calvin Coolidge was called Silent Cal. Dwight D. Eisenhower was called Ike. (Remember “I Like Ike?”) More recently, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was often called Mitt and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, now exploring running for the White House, used “Jeb!” on bumper stickers.
“There’s nothing to it,” Lichtman said about Clinton being called by her first name.

Laura F. Edwards, a history professor at Duke University who studies gender, said calling a woman by her first name is part of a larger problem in our culture in how to acknowledge women, who have always used their fathers’ and husbands’ names because they were never expected to have a public place in the world.
“All this gets to the point that women had no public identities of their own,” she said. “And we’re still living with the implications of that.”
Some argue that Clinton should be called by her first name because she, herself, embraced it during her previous campaigns as a way to establish perhaps more than an identity, but a brand.
“Political campaigns like to put candidates in a familiar frame and that is why they often promote them by first names,” Kiki McLean, a senior adviser to Clinton’s campaign in 2008.
In 2008, Clinton avoided talking about her experiences as a woman, repeatedly saying that she was running because she was the best-qualified candidate. But this time, she has started to share more personal anecdotes about being a working mother and focusing on issues that might appeal to female voters including equal pay, paid family leave, affordable child care and access to health care.
Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the issue of women’s names has come up in debates where male candidates use their female opponents’ first names or skip their titles to diminish them. But, she said, that is not the situation with Clinton.
“Part of the rap about her has been she’s not accessible and she’s not warm or friendly. This makes her a real person,” Walsh said. “She chose to run as Hillary. She has owned her first name. It’s become part of the vernacular.”
Ellie Silverman of the Washington Bureau contributed

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LOL, I call Mr. Obama "Barry," cause that's his real name. Regardless, Hillary running is gonna unleash a full-on gender war. She'll be well served to keep the more "militant" feminists, the kind that want to strike the word "she" or "woman" from our vocabulary from making the real issue of gender inequality look farcical. If Hillary can mobilize more undecided female voters than the GOP, she'll win by a landslide. The GOP gave her plenty of ammo to use from the last election, in regards to women's issues.



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i hear you
i still dont think she will win with just the women vote and dont think she will get all of it anyway, hopefully women are starting to realize the whole fake war on women meme goes both ways with these parties

Im sorry Ms CLinton who did you accept money from again? ....Rand Paul is gonna bring that up every day that she takes millions from woman oppressive regimes

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She'll definitely need more than just the women's vote, since thus far, women have a hard time relating to her. Also, the GOP had been doing a good job on keeping "legitimate rape" type wing-nuts fro running their mouths in public. Nevertheless, Hillary can use stuff like the GOP's opposition to equal pay, the pill and abortions to rally women. As far as taking money from regimes oppressive to women, I doubt Paul would bring that up. Plenty on the GOP side take funds from groups oppressive to women. Furthermore, both parties are BFFs with the Saudis. Those guys bring oppressing women to a whole new level. Even the Iranians are feminist liberals by comparison to those guys.



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Iran, world powers reach landmark nuclear agreement
Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY 9:22 a.m. EDT July 14, 2015

The United States and other world powers reached a historic agreement with Iran on Tuesday that calls for limits on Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

"Every path to a nuclear weapon has been cut off," President Obama declared in Washington.

Addressing critics in Congress and Israel who say Iran can't be trusted to honor the agreement, Obama said the deal is not just built on trust but "on verification."

The deal was formally announced during a news conference by Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top foreign affairs official, and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

A joint statement issued by the two said: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."

Mogherini and Zarif said the agreement will produce the lifting of all United Nations Security Council sanctions, and multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program.

The balanced deal respects the interests of all sides, they said. The text will be presented to the Security Council in the next few days for endorsement.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/07/14/iran-nuclear-agreement/30121291/



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Originally posted by translucent
Iran, world powers reach landmark nuclear agreement
Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY 9:22 a.m. EDT July 14, 2015

The United States and other world powers reached a historic agreement with Iran on Tuesday that calls for limits on Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

"Every path to a nuclear weapon has been cut off," President Obama declared in Washington.

Addressing critics in Congress and Israel who say Iran can't be trusted to honor the agreement, Obama said the deal is not just built on trust but "on verification."

The deal was formally announced during a news conference by Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top foreign affairs official, and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

A joint statement issued by the two said: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."

Mogherini and Zarif said the agreement will produce the lifting of all United Nations Security Council sanctions, and multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program.

The balanced deal respects the interests of all sides, they said. The text will be presented to the Security Council in the next few days for endorsement.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/07/14/iran-nuclear-agreement/30121291/


Beats getting into another war, which is what a GOP President would've likely had us do.

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Yes a bad deal for the sake of just making a deal to save face is always a great thing

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Originally posted by bxbomb
Yes a bad deal for the sake of just making a deal to save face is always a great thing


What, in your opinion, would've made this a good deal?

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24/7 access at our call not 24DAYS notice with reason and Iran can reject

Not allowing further arms and ballistic capability of a country that is one yr away from developing icbm that reaches USA

Not releasing all sanctions on the al quads terror mastermind that has the blood of thousands of our soldiers on his hands

And if Barry absolutely had to throw that one in could you at least make the effort and get some of those U.S. Prisoners out of there


That's a start
Still haven't read the whole thing

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I'm reserving judgement until I see what was submitted to Congress as well. However, keep in mind, we were pretty much out of leverage by this point. The other nations upholding the sanctions are eager to do business with Iran again, given its vast oil reserves and were unlikely to keep supporting any additional sanctions. Without their backing, our sanctions would be about as effective as they had been against Cuba, when the rest of the world does business with them.

I agree that we should be able to access sites with less notice. However, if some of those sites contain other military or state secrets not related to nukes, it's understandable that Iran wouldn't allow a foreign agent to just show up and look around any time until those things were removed or hidden.

As far as the whole support for terrorism thing goes, that's a poison pill those trying to scuttle any deal intentionally clammor for. Let's keep in mind that Iran's interests in the region have much to do with protecting the Shia minority in Sunni countries. This often involves supporting Shia terrorists who are fighting Sunni terrorists. If Iran ceases doing that, in most cases, the Shia minority will get slaughtered. Given that we've traditionally supported repressive Sunni regimes that treated their Shia minorities with brutality, one can certainly understand why Iran would suport terrorist attacks against our troops in the region. Either way, now we need their help with ISIS.

Inserting the prisoner issue into this negotiation would've been nice, but really has no bearing on the issue at hand. This negotiation wasn't about settling every single issue we have with Iran, which would take decades. This was only about stopping their nuclear program and that is what all of the other countries at the table signed on for. The most important deterrent in this whole thing is that once sanctions are dropped, if there's even a single violation, the US can bring back all sanctions without needing any other country's approval. Iran stands to gain more by abiding by the agreement than by violating it.



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