Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Is it Fall of 2002 Again? Troubling Signs from Administration on Iran Confrontation

Today, the Friends Committee on National Legislation reported that the Bush administration has denied visas to Iranian religious leaders, who were scheduled to engage in dialogue with religious leaders in the United States.

They expressed their disappointment and said they were troubled that the administration denied the visas on what are said to be national security grounds, particularly because they received assurances that the visas would be approved.

“The denials parallel a disturbing escalation of rhetoric against Iran and further demonstrate this administration’s current strategy of confrontation rather than diplomacy,” FCNL said in an email. In February 2007, a delegation of religious leaders including FCNL Secretary Joe Volk went to Iran. They said their conversations in Iran revealed a strong Iranian desire to engage the U.S. and negotiate on the issues that divide our two countries. Failure to pursue aggressively possibilities for future agreements could lead to another avoidable catastrophe in the Middle East for the U.S. and the peoples of the region.

Meanwhile, George Packer from the New Yorker said on his blog today that if there was ever a threat level on war with Iran, we’ve now reached orange. He also confirmed a blog posting from Barnett Rubin, the highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University, regarding an account of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington who said:

“They [the source's institution] have ‘instructions’ (yes, that was theword used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaignfor war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty.’”

After Packer posted his blog, he wrote a post script which read: “Barnett Rubin just called me. His source spoke with a neocon think-tanker who corroborated the story of the propaganda campaign and had this to say about it: "I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But I'm not a raging lunatic. This is lunatic."

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