49 thoughts on “Biden Gives Israel Green Light for Iran Attack – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. RE: “the Bush era Rough Rider approach to conflict”

    MY COMMENT: Bernard Avishai referred to it as “the big swinging dick theory of diplomacy”.

    PS. Does Biden mean to imply that Israel is not encumbered by international law including the Geneva Conventions ratified by Israel?

      1. Can you quote this ‘The UN doesn’t exist in Israel’ source please?

        Also, your last line smacks of Anti-Semitism. Some websites (let’s not get into them) deduce the Kol Nidre service as ‘proof’ that Jews are not honest as we nullify all vows before we make them. Unfortunately, that’s not how “Jews” look at it … It is only about unintentional use of vow words and that we’re just being overly strict. An example of an unintentional vow is like back in Europe where Christians forced Jews to swear about things (against our faith, as per the Torah) … Nowadays it is only if you say “sure i’ll show up for lunch at noon”, and you’re 5 minutes late, you didn’t keep your vow.

        Nice try though.

          1. (reply to Avram, July 6, 7:05 AM, as his post is missing the reply button. Richard, have you limited the depth of threads in some way?)

            I dunno, I’m not Barbara. It’s certainly credible that some official casually said that to an Ethiopian refugee; that doesn’t make it officially declared policy, although Israel has never made a secret what it thinks of the UN and int’l law.

  2. RE: “this is a cold wind that bodes ill”

    FROM SIUN AT “FIREDOGLAKE”: The US has invited Israeli Air Force pilots to “take part later this month in a training exercise with the U.S. Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.” Along with US pilots, the IAF will practice dogfights and in-air refueling. (you may well ask precisely what mission the IAF believes it is preparing for?)

    SOURCE – http://firedoglake.com/2009/07/05/gaza-some-things-never-change/#more-41556

  3. There is something that seems treacherous in this reversal; for it is clear that the signal that had been previously sent (at least in the public sphere) had put the Israeli government on notice that an attack, out of the blue on Iran, would not be favorable received, and was being explicitly discouraged. What has happened? Has the administration really had a change of heart? Or has Obama been simply biding time, waiting for a period of weakness when the Iranians appear to be in disarray, and the stability and legitimacy of Iran has been called into question?

    The media feeding frenzy over the elections in Iran could just be one more facet of a coordinated strategy. On the other hand, I just find it outlandish that an attack that was finally rejected as unlikely, according to pundits, under the Bush administration, and indeed never happened, would go forward under Obama. But if we have been played, it is very serious news indeed.

  4. thank you for this info. it saddens my greatly that we are now thinking of using hard power biden need to just stay in washington locked in his house. f this

    1. “Israel wants this. The Rothschilds want this. It moves their plans for their Lucifer forward as they wish. ”

      Richard – surely you’re not gonna let her blabber on like this? Bloody hell … It’s like reading the Elders of Ziyon.

      1. Avram, I hear what you’re saying and I find Barbara’s statements disturbing as well, and off topic to boot. I would suggest however, that the BEST way to fight anti-Semitism (and the perceived rise in world-wide anti-Semitism) would be to speak out against Israel’s barbaric behavior toward the Palestinians. There are all sorts of indicators that the long-standing and increasingly brutal behavior of the self-defined Jewish state toward the Palestinians is (at least one of) the leading elements fomenting anti-Jewish sentiment out there in the world today (particularly in the Middle East) and if you actually care about that issue and about mitigating this sad trend, trying to get Israel to behave like a civilized nation should be your focus. This would likely do more than ANYTHING else to combat anti-Jewish prejudice today. For unfortunately, as long as the state of Israel claims to speak for the world’s Jewish population (which its leaders do, frankly), there’s the possibility that some people in the world, and particularly victims of Israel in the Arab & Muslim world, will tragically & unfairly connect Israel’s behavior with Jews generally. You at least see how the causal connection arises, however generalizing and rationally untenable. I’ve heard that there’s a dynamic at play in the Middle East in this regard. Tony Judt I believe spoke to this issue a while back (much more eloquently than I just did).

        A very IMPERFECT analogy to this might be the issue of whether to release the rest of the American torture photos that Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker has spoken so forcefully about. The Obama administration has decided not to release the rest of the torture photos to the public on the grounds that this will significantly STOKE WORLDWIDE ANTI-AMERICANISM. Better not to speak out, stay silent, and keep the dirty linen under wraps (the photos show horrific torture and abuse at Bagram, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, far worst than what we’ve seen so far, including Iraqi children being brutally raped & sodomized in front of their own mothers, mostly by American private contractors, but maybe also by soldiers & CIA, all of this a direct result of the legal black hole initiated by the Bush administration, all this according to Hersh at least). The very strange, perverted administration argument is that the worldwide public (or even just Americans) being exposed to this truth will increase anti-Americanism, rather than the actual behavior, the thing-in-itself. An ethical, thinking person will counter at this point that it is the ACTIONS, the BEHAVIOR itself (not its publicity nor the bad-mouthing of America because of these heinous actions) which very naturally causes anti-American feeling to grow and fester. If we start to behave like a civilized country, the strong animosity towards America and Americans that now exists in some corners (frankly a lot of) the world, will sharply decrease.

        Anyway, it’s not the same thing, but I think you get what I’m saying… the hasbara line of imputing anti-Semitism to Israel critics (usually to intimidate people and stifle debate) does absolutely nothing to meaningfully combat actual anti-Semitism. I realize that is not what you’re doing here, but so many Israeli policy defenders “cry wolf” that evidence of real prejudice runs the risk of being overlooked in the midst of all the scurrilous false charges. Something to ponder.

      2. My apologies for allowing this bile to remain on my website for over a day. I’ve been on the Oregon coast celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary & didn’t notice the comments until you pointed them out. If you’re reading this Barbara, anti-Semitic comments are prohibited here. If you’re ignorant enough that you don’t understand what was anti-Semitic about the comments I banned then you ought to read about the subject. If you lapse into such odious statements or claims in future you may lose yr comment privileges.

        1. RE: “I’ve been on the Oregon coast celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary…”

          MY COMMENT: Well, you could have at least ‘tweeted’! (lol)

          PS. Congratulations on your 11th wedding anniversary. I trust that you and your wife enjoyed the Oregon coast.

          1. That’s right, I should’ve tweeted though my wife might not have been too happy about it.

            We stayed in a lovely hotel in Cannon Beach & had a lovely anniversary dinner. But the weather on the coast can be ferocious. Fierce winds, dark, cloudy, cold. It reminds me of the Twain joke: “The warmest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” I’d say with wind chill the temperature might’ve been in the 40s in the daytime. But the waves beating against the shore & the wind & incredible rock formations remind you of the wonder & power of natural forces.

  5. One clings to straws.

    My straw is this. I read that the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, said last month that the world embargo had slowed down Iran’s nuclear program to the extent that it couldn’t have a bomb before 2014. Could it be that the White House is convinced that Israel is not in a hurry to attack anyway so that it doesn’t have to spend political capital on restraining an ally that doesn’t need to be restrained?

    Meanwhile there is some inducement for engagement in this “permission” for a non-event. Biden apparently explicitly said that the US would not be thwarted in its willingness to diplomatically engage by any other nation.

    1. Arie,
      You obviously are not familiar with conspiracy theory. 🙂

      The Rothschilds are part of the “New World Order”. See David Ickes if you really want to know more. My personal favorite part is the half-human, half-reptiles living below the Denver Airport. lol.

    2. Arie – Just look at her earlier ‘dig’ at Kol Nidre (I am assuming you know what this is). That should tell you enough about the kind of ‘poster’ Barbara is.

      1. The problem with anti-Semitic comments like this is that they have just enough knowledge of Jewish theology to be dangerous but nowhere enough to actually understand what they’re saying about actual Jewish religious practice & belief. Disgusting stuff.

  6. I’m not sure where Barbara is coming from, but Kol Nidre (all vows in Aramaic) is to nullify promises that Jews have made and, unintentionally, did not fulfill (this is a transgression in Judaism). I have heard Christians make such allegations before but it is more based on their erroneous understanding of Judaism. If someone is so hostile towards Judaism, how can his/her opinion be taken seriously?

  7. fiddler – if you believe that ok, to each his own. I don’t find that credible but Barbara said, “Israel just said last week”. Israel didn’t say it … One person, if your example is to be believed, said it to another person, who passed it on.

  8. This is easy to believe!:

    “Israel’s foreign minister has welcomed Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that Israel can make its own decision about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

    “Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Biden’s comments were “very logical.” He said that although the two allies sometimes have disagreements, “at the end of the day the decision is ours.””


  9. “The United States, Mr. Biden said in an interview broadcast on ABC’s “This Week,” “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do.””

    So why are we dictating that Iran can’t pursue nuclear power?
    Another case of two opposing rules, one for those sovereign states we agree with and another for those sovereign states that we disagree with.

  10. Iran’s response to an unprovoked attack, will be to close the Straits of Homuz meaning the price of oil globally will double or quadruple; stock markets around the world will crash; Iranian cells in the US and Europe will activate; Iran will fire long-range missiles at Israel; Israel will retaliate with a nuclear strike and the entire Middle East will be contaminated including the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The subsequent consequences are anybody’s guess – but the world will never be the same again and every family, everywhere, will have to bear the cost of scarce oil, sky-high prices and falling investment values.
    Then add to this scenario the massive loss of life.
    All this because one man indulged in rhetoric! What do you believe the attitude of the international community will be to the party who initiates this frightening new conflict?


    A RELATED POST: “Say it ain’t so, Joe” by Marc Lynch, O7/05/09

    (EXCERPT) That sounds an awful lot like a green light — especially when paired with the poorly sourced Times of London story suggesting that the Saudis had agreed to facilitate an Israeli airstrike (there doesn’t seem to be anything to it beyond John Bolton’s wishful thinking, but it helps fuel a crisis atmosphere). It’s not obvious that it actually is such a green light — but that’s how it is being interpreted by Israelis across the spectrum and by the Arab media (few differences between the Saudi al-Arabiya and al-Sharq al-Awsat on the one hand, and al-Jazeera and al-Quds al-Arabi on the other side of the great Arab divide).

    If that’s the case, and Israel takes up the offer, then the politics of the Middle East are about to take a sudden, potentially disastrous turn for the worse. An Israeli strike on Iran would almost certainly fail to seriously set back its nuclear program, and almost certainly would not lead the Iranian people to rise up against the regime (although one has to pause… has John Bolton ever been wrong about such a thing before?). It would almost certainly terminate the efforts of the reformist camp to challenge the results of the election and rally the Iranian public around the flag — as attacks by the most hated foreign enemy of any country generally do even during times of turbulent politics (see: Iran, 1980)…

    ENTIRE POST (UPDATED) – http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/07/05/say_it_aint_so_joe

  12. I like Juan Cole’s interpretation:

    “So what Biden was really saying is that the Obama administration intends to engage Iran diplomatically, and that if anyone wants Iran attacked they will have to do it themselves. This is not a green light to the Israelis, who hardly need one. It is a tough message to the right wing of the Israel lobbies that the Obama administration is not going to launch any hostilities with Iran, even after the hard line power grab of three weeks ago.

    Oh, and the statement may serve as a reminder to a recalcitrant Iran of what might happen to Tehran if it refuses to negotiate in good faith over its nuclear enrichment program.”

    This interpretation has the virtue of supporting the idea that the Obama administration actually has a middle east foreign policy strategy they intend to follow through on including a new less cosy relationship with Israel.

    1. I like Juan Cole’s interpretation as well. Israel can no longer make threatening statements hoping that the US will act as the responsible adult. It is a form of deterrence or brinksmanship with Israel and maybe also Iran- and clever.

    2. I’m not sure I fully agree with Juan on this one. Though the U.S. today reconfirmed its commitment to diplomatic engagement with Iran, & this seemingly “took back” Biden’s ridiculous statement (w/o actually doing so explicitly), I still maintain that Israel could reasonably construe Biden’s ridiculous comment as approval of an attack. And I totally disagree with Juan that Israel “hardly needs a green light.” You bet it does. It has sought one several times with the current & most recent occupant of the White House. After refusing to get one, guess what–it didn’t attack Iran. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened & it has everything to do with a red light signal offered by the administration.

      I understand that Juan is a Bahai & while I have enormous respect for this religion & the suffering imposed on it by the Iranian ayatollahs, I think that may play a factor in his rather hardline analysis of the Iranian regime. For example, most analysts feel that U.S. threats in the form of Biden’s remarks are incredibly counter-productive regarding the Iranian regime. Bush tried them & they failed miserably. The fact that Juan seems to welcome such threats indicates to me that he’s not fully consistent with his views of other U.S. foreign policy issues.

      1. Richard,

        “And I totally disagree with Juan that Israel “hardly needs a green light.” You bet it does”

        I don’t think that’s true. It’s not like we’ve not knocked out nuclear reactors before without US approval (Osirak). I still don’t feel we’ll attack in the near future – all the people I’ve talked to say the same thing (the completion date is far later than people are letting on)

        “Bahai ”

        Btw, did you know the faith was banned in Egypt? I still don’t get why the religion is a problem.

        Their gardens/temple in Haifa are just something too beautiful!

      2. Say Israel did need a “green light”- this remark by Biden who is known for making impulsive remarks, certainly would not be that green light.

        And along with this remark- the US re-confirms it’s path ( negotiation). As well Iran immediately makes a serious counter threat in case should Israel be so inclined to act precipitously.

        The remark- as I read it- is about trying to get Israel to cut the threats (GW Bush type of bluster- b/c an attack on Iran would have consequences) which are counterproductive to what Obama is trying to do. This remark, if serious, is surface and surely clarified behind closed doors.

        In general I think this is Obama’s way. He is not going to threaten- not until he exhausts other means ( and even then)… including w/re N. Korea.

  13. Mazal Tov Richard – btw, reply to the e-mail re: song 2 so I can continue sending.

    Warren – so when I see anti-semitism, I should try and say, “Israel is bad” and that will stop the anti-semitism? I find that rather silly, but heck, to each his own.

  14. Warren – sorry if my last response was harsh, I just don’t set my ‘pro/anti’ Israel debate pattern based on posters who quite obviously have some sort of issue with Jews in general. I compliment and criticize Israel as I see fit – I don’t live in a bubble thankfully where I see it all good or bad. However, if someone is saying things that I see on various anti-Semitic sites, then I’d rather not ‘play nice’ just to appease or show, “hey, this Jew is cool – maybe I can relate to him and think of him as a hornless Jew” etc (Sorry if it wasn’t funny, but I tried).

    I have no issues discussing things with Richard or Arie etc, both people who are not on my wave length politically. We can do it respectfully, with humor etc … But I don’t think extremists, or people who hate my faith (or any faith for that matter), should ‘alter’ how I post.

    1. Avram, I didn’t mean to suggest that you should play ‘nice’ with obviously anti-Semitic posters like Barbara. If that’s what came across, then I clearly mis-communicated. I was glad you called her out on her nonsense and I should have made that clearer. The rest of my comment after the initial couple sentences was kind of thinking aloud at bigger structural issues and not really directed at you per se. I should have made it a separate comment. I’m glad that you can communicate with Richard and Arie, those are both good, worthwhile voices to be in dialogue with. I think they’ll sway you yet!

      Also, my argument was not that anti-Semitism should be met with “tsk, tsk, bad Israel”. I don’t believe that at all and that’s not really what I was saying, or it’s an incredibly reductionist take on what I was saying. But to the extent that contemporary anti-Jewish sentiment in the world can be tied in some way to the I-P conflict, for instance in attacks on Jews in Europe by enraged Arab Muslim youth, it might be worthwhile looking at the structural issues going on here. To do so in no way justifies anti-Semitism, which is inherently unjustifiable. I perhaps made a mistake in yoking some of these broader thoughts to the straightforward case of anti-Semitism we witnessed above. Please do give them hell when the bigots creep out of the woodwork, you’ve got my full support?!

      1. I doubt they’ll ‘sway’ me just like I doubt I’ll sway them. We’re here to talk and communicate, not change people’s points of views completely.

        “it might be worthwhile looking at the structural issues going on here”

        I do, but I tend to look at them going back to the Arab/Muslim relation with the Jews since their ‘rise’ in this region … The example you gave (synagogue burning) is something, for example, that was sadly occuring all over the Arab world long before Israel came around …

        It is ‘correctable’ though imo – both people can make the necessary changes to adjust to the new realities, it will just take two indepdent states to start a possible calmer, more ‘unified’ future I guess?

        1. The “I think they’ll sway you yet” was meant half-jokingly, half-serious. I can be pretty tongue in cheek. You say, “We’re here to talk and communicate, not change people’s points of view completely”. I agree. Although, for my part, I’m open to be swayed if new evidence or a particularly compelling argument tilts my perspective. I’ve certainly been wrong about things before and came to see it after time, input, new frames of reference.

          Again, it’s just nice you have people you feel you can meaningfully dialogue with.

  15. To Richard and Richard’s wife, congratulations on your 11th wedding anniversary. The Oregon coast rocks! As a real live Oregonian, I feel so grateful to have that seething mass of beauty with its wild, rugged contours just an hour or so away. It’s awesome!!!

  16. RE: “Does Biden mean to imply that Israel is not encumbered by international law including the Geneva Conventions ratified by Israel?”

    FROM CATO: “Biden’s Situational Sovereignty”, by Benjamin H. Friedman

    (EXCERPT)…I suppose it would have been tangential to point out that Biden’s view of sovereignty has not always been so robust. Or that he is effectively renouncing the international laws of war, which dictate what self-defense allows. But Stephanopoulos might have at least acknowledged the irony of this particular exchange. Iran, the country being bombed in his question, is also a sovereign nation. Biden’s needlessly universal principle – U.S. deference in the face of a sovereign nation’s determination that it is in danger – would protect its right to build nuclear weapons…

    ENTIRE POST – http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/07/06/bidens-situational-sovereignty/


    A RELATED ARTICLE: “Biden, Israel and Iran”, by Gary Leupp, 07/07/09

    “Any Sovereign Nation is Allowed to Bomb Another”

    (EXCERPT) …One could argue, of course, that in positing Netanyahu’s “sovereign right” to bomb Iran, a nation which has not attacked another in modern times, Biden is just shooting off his famous mouth again. But there are at least two reasons his comments should be taken very seriously…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp07072009.html

    1. ALSO SEE: “No change in Iran policy, White House insists”, by Laura Rozen, 07/06/09

      (EXCERPT) …In e-mails and phone calls today, administration officials insisted that Biden’s comments were neither a signal of any change in policy, nor any sort of freelancing. Asked if Biden’s remarks might have been part of an intentional messaging campaign to step up pressure on Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program, officials gave an emphatic “no.” But for all that, the remarks were widely seen both in Washington and abroad as a message intended less for Jerusalem than for Tehran…

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/07/06/no_change_in_iran_policy_white_house_insists

  18. Am attack on Iran — either by Israel, the US, or both — meaks another surge in oil prices, anther plunge in stock prices, and the real risk of turning a serious global recession into a global depression. Not to speak of the large numbers of US soldiers who would undoubtedly lose their lives as Iran responded.

    Hard to believe that anyone other than the most extreme Zionist fanatics would favor such a course of action.

    “Obama Slouching Towards an Iran War?”

    (EXCERPT) …The idea that the U.S. can do nothing to stop Israel from attacking Iran, without provocation, in violation of international law and norms, on the basis of a perceived threat, is the equivalent of the U.S. saying that out of respect for Iran’s sovereignty, it couldn’t act to stop Tehran from attacking Israel should it deem such action necessary on the basis of a perceived threat. It’s precisely this absurdity that had most of the Middle East reading Biden’s “sovereignty” comments as a fig leaf for green-lighting an Israeli attack on Iran…

    ENTIRE POST – http://tonykaron.com/2009/07/07/obama-slouching-towards-an-iran-war/

  20. It should be said here that Obama has said there is no green light for Israel to attack Iran.

    Obama said Tuesday that Biden had simply been stating a fact, not sending a signal.

    “I think Vice President Biden stated a categorical fact, which is we can’t dictate to other countries what their security interests are. What is also true is that it is the policy of the United States to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities in a peaceful way through diplomatic channels,” he said.

    Watch CNN’s Ed Henry interview President Obama »

    The top U.S. military leader, Adm. Mike Mullen, said later on Tuesday that he understands Israel’s position.

    “The Israelis see Iran achieving a nuclear capability as an existential threat, and that fact is tied to the rhetoric of the leadership of Iran, which … has said that they would seek to eliminate Israel,” said Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    His counterparts in the Gulf also understand the Israeli stance, whether or not they agree, Mullen said.

    “That gets back to the criticality … of solving this before Iran gets a nuclear capability, or that anyone… would take action to strike them. And I think that window is a very narrow window,” he said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.


    That’s also a warning to and about Iran’s (Ahmadinejad’s) rhetoric. The provocation is the rhetoric of eliminating Israel. This is all about threats – which Obama is trying to move away from.

    An Iranian official just said that should Israel attack it would be considered an attack by the US.

    The US must dissociate itself from Israel and try to negotiate with Iran. And Iran must understand that it’s president’s rhetoric is taken seriously and it can cause Israel to react.

    In either case- should Israel attack or Iran attack first there would be terrible consequences.

  21. Nice that Biden recognizes the “sovereign rights” of Israel and of “all” nations.
    All except Haiti, Iraq, Honduras….

  22. obama is a dummy iran is a threat and something needs to be done soon bec iran will just put off the us talks ans still build the nuke bec obama thinks everyone will listen to him .. obama is not smart hes a good talker but not smart im sad to live in the us these days im sad to say i voted for obama now he has ruined the us and hes messing up the world iran will launch a nuke at iseral they are a threat OBAMA IS DOING NOTHNG ABOUT IT !!! he wants talks.. thats not how these people work obama is a muslim he should know … obama should not be in office he should be impeeched before he dose more damage to not just the usa anymore but the world!!!!!!!!!!

    1. i voted for obama now he has ruined the us

      If you voted for Obama you’re either an idiot and voted for the wrong guy–or a liar. I’d venture to say the latter. Or you could be an idiot AND a liar.

      1. Or he’s just worried that Obama hasn’t achieved world peace just yet … 🙂

        or he had the ‘florida’ issue again! 😉

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