Newsflash:
Wayne Powell End Wars and Occupations Reading Obama’s Iran Speech
Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:36

Reading Obama’s Iran Speech

Written by  Phyllis Bennis | The Nation
President Barack Obama addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, September 24, 2013 President Barack Obama addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, September 24, 2013 AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

All of a sudden we’re talking to Iran. Now, granted, that shouldn’t be such an astonishing bombshell. But given the reality of the last several decades, it pretty much is. And that’s all good. It’s been too long coming, it’s still too hesitant, there’s still too much hinting about military force behind it… but we’re talking. Foreign minister to foreign minister, Kerry to Zarif, it’s all a good sign.

There were lots of problem areas in the speech—President Obama was right when he said that US policy in the Middle East would lead to charges of “hypocrisy and inconsistency.” US policy—its protection of Israeli violations of international law, its privileging of petro-monarchies over human rights, its coddling of military dictators—remains rank with hypocrisy and inconsistency. And Obama’s speech reflected much of it.

But President Obama’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly reflected some of the extraordinary shifts in global—especially Middle East and most especially Syria-related—politics that have taken shape in the last six or eight weeks. And on Iran, that was good news. Yes the president trotted out his familiar litany that “we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” But this time, there was no “all options on the table” threat. He added explicitly that “we are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.” The reference to Iran’s right to nuclear energy represented a major shift away from the longstanding claim among many US hawks and the Israeli government that Iran must give up all nuclear enrichment.

Respecting Iran’s right to “access” nuclear energy is still a bit of a dodge, of course—Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes not just access but “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” Iran is a longstanding signatory to the NPT, and is entitled to all those rights. Obama referred only that “we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities” under the NPT, while saying nothing about Iran’s rights under the treaty. But the high visibility US recognition of any Iranian right to nuclear power—in the context of a new willingness to open talks—is still enormously important.

It was also important that President Obama spoke of Iran with respect, acknowledging Iranian interests and opinions as legitimate and parallel to Washington’s. He recognized that Iranian mistrust of the United States has “deep roots,” referencing (however carefully) the “history of US interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War.” In fact, his identification of the 1953 US-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected President Mohamed Mossadegh as a product of the Cold War may have been part of an effort to distance himself and his administration from those actions. (It’s a bit disingenuous, of course. The primary rationale for the coup was far more a response to Mossadegh’s nationalization of Iran’s oil than to his ties to the Soviet Union.)

Obama also paid new attention to longstanding Iranian positions. He noted that “the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.” Now anyone following the Iran nuclear issue knows that the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, stated at least as far back as 2003 that nuclear weapons are a violation of Islamic law and Iran would never build or use one, and the fatwa, or legal opinion, was issued at least as far back as 2005. This isn’t new. But for President Obama to mention those judgments in the context of “the basis for a meaningful agreement” is indeed new.

Mainstream US press and officials have long derided those statements, claiming that fatwas are not binding, that 700-year-old religious laws can’t have a position on nuclear weapons, etc. But in so doing they ignore the real significance—that President Rouhani, the Supreme Leader and the rest of Iran’s government have to answer to their own population too. After years of repeating that nuclear weapons would be un-Islamic, would violate a fatwa, etc., it would not be so easy for Iran’s leaders to win popular support for a decision to embrace the bomb.

There is a long way to go in challenging aspects of President Obama’s speech at the United Nations—his embrace of American exceptionalism and his recommitment to a failed approach to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, his view that war and violence can only be answered by military force or nothing, and more. He didn’t explicitly state a willingness to accept Iran’s participation in international talks on Syria. There is a serious danger that any move towards rapprochement with Iran would be matched with moves to pacify Israeli demands—almost certainly at the expense of Palestinian rights.

But in the broader scenario of US-Iran relations, this is a moment to move forward, to welcome the new approach in Washington now answering the new approach of Tehran.

More flexibility will be required than the United States is usually known for. The usual opponents—in Congress, in Israel and the pro-Israel lobbies—are already on the move, challenging the new opening. But these last weeks showed how a quickly organized demonstration of widespread public opinion, demanding negotiations instead of war, can win. We were able to build a movement fast, agile and powerful enough to reverse an imminent military attack on Syria and instead force a move towards diplomatic solutions to end the war. This time around, the demand to deepen, consolidate and not abandon diplomatic possibilities is on our agenda—and perhaps once again we can win.

Link to original article from The Nation

Read 4797 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:41

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Powell Campaign

  • Virginia's Wayne Powell Is An Environmental Profile In Courage
    Virginia's Wayne Powell Is An Environmental Profile In Courage

    Virginia is now being mentioned as a crucial swing state. This Congressional race is certainly one to watch. Perhaps that was why I was so impressed to hear candidate Wayne Powell, (who is challenging incumbent Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for the seat he has held in the 7th District of Virginia since 2001) speak boldly and openly about the environment showdown with Cantor.

    Written on Sunday, 04 November 2012 00:17 Read more...
  • O’ Brother — Dr. Ralph Stanley to stump for Powell
    O’ Brother — Dr. Ralph Stanley to stump for Powell

    Running against incumbent Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP-heavy 7th District is enough to give any Democrat the blues. So Bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley will headline a two-day campaign swing for Powell next week.

    Written on Saturday, 20 October 2012 14:52 Read more...
  • Can This Guy Defeat Eric Cantor?
    Can This Guy Defeat Eric Cantor?

    Dream on. But Democratic long shot Wayne Powell might put a few dents in the House majority leader's armor. That Powell and Zerban were in LA raising money for what seemed like increasingly less quixotic quests—Powell is the first challenger Cantor has agreed to debate in 10 years, and Zerban's internal polling in September put him within single digits of Ryan—could underscore America's waning infatuation with tea-party-style politics.

    Written on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 10:04 Read more...
  • VIDEO: Powell/Cantor Debate Post Mortem
    VIDEO: Powell/Cantor Debate Post Mortem

    Perhaps you should give it a look, post-mortem.  After all, this is the first debate Eric Cantor has agreed to in TEN YEARS.

    Written on Friday, 12 October 2012 00:17 Read more...
  • Cantor camp turns down invitation to free public forum
    Cantor camp turns down invitation to free public forum

    A top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the Republican will not accept a challenge from Chesterfield County’s Democratic Party to meet its own candidate, Wayne Powell, in a free public forum before the Nov. 6 elections.

    Written on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 20:17 Read more...
  • Eric Cantor is not particularly popular in his Republican-leaning district.
    Eric Cantor is not particularly popular in his Republican-leaning district.

    Eric Cantor is not particularly popular in his Republican-leaning district. His personal popularity is 37% favorable, 31% unfavorable. Strongly unfavorable views outnumber strongly favorable ones, 25%- 21%. Cantor’s “re-elect” number is weak: 41% want to re-elect Cantor, while 43% want to replace him.

    Written on Saturday, 22 September 2012 17:13 Read more...
  • Powell TV ad targets Cantor supporters
    Powell TV ad targets Cantor supporters

    Democratic 7th District congressional candidate Wayne Powell is taking his campaign to unseat longterm incumbent Republican Eric Cantor right into the living rooms of central Virginia Republicans. The ad will run district-wide approximately once an hour on Fox News for the entire Convention. The ad buy is indicative of Powell’s strategy of reaching out to all voters regardless of their political affiliation.

    Written on Monday, 27 August 2012 17:44 Read more...
  • Powell slams Cantor at open town hall meeting
    Powell slams Cantor at open town hall meeting

    A Richmond native and attorney like his opponent, Powell is otherwise very different from 49-year-old Cantor, Majority Leader in the U.S. House since 2011, and Culpeper County’s congressional representative since 2000.

    Cantor’s name came up a lot during Thursday’s “Open Town Hall Meeting” hosted by Powell, who was articulate and well received by local constituents in attendance.

    Written on Thursday, 23 August 2012 13:39 Read more...
  • Cantor faces Powell in Sept. 28 debate
    Cantor faces Powell in Sept. 28 debate

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, will debate Democratic challenger Wayne Powell on Friday, Sept. 28.

    Cantor, who declined to debate Democratic challenger Rick Waugh in 2010, has not debated a Democrat in a general election since 2002, when he squared off with former Georgia congressman and "Dukes of Hazzard" star Ben L. "Cooter" Jones.

    Written on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 15:05 Read more...
  • Look Out, Cantor, Mudcat is Helping Wayne Powell!
    Look Out, Cantor, Mudcat is Helping Wayne Powell!

    It takes courage to look at a roomful of Democrats and confess that you were a consultant on John Edwards’ presidential campaign.

    But that is exactly what Dave “Mudcat” Saunders did at the June 6 Chesterfield Democratic Committee meeting.  Saunders just put it right out there while telling members how he thinks Wayne Powell can beat 7th District Congressman Eric Cantor.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 01:03 Read more...
  • Powell Wins Democratic Bid to Face Cantor in VA 7th (Video Interview)
    Powell Wins Democratic Bid to Face Cantor in VA 7th (Video Interview)

    Wayne Powell, Veteran, Small Business Owner and Local Attorney Is the Democratic Nominee to Oppose Eric Cantor. Says Cantor is “epitome of what is wrong in Washington…a career political operator who is the poster child for Washington gridlock and dysfunction”

    Written on Friday, 13 April 2012 19:21 Read more...
  • Cantor challenger Powell speaks in Culpeper
    Cantor challenger Powell speaks in Culpeper

    “We take care of our own.” That was the major theme of Wayne Powell’s speech Friday at the Raven’s Nest in Culpeper.

    Powell is a Democratic candidate for the 7th District, the seat currently held by House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor.

    Written on Monday, 09 April 2012 15:51 Read more...
  • Democratic lawyer challenges Representative Cantor
    Democratic lawyer challenges Representative Cantor

    For Wayne Powell, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District “isn’t personal, it’s Cantor.”

    Powell, 62, is challenging Republican incumbent Eric Cantor of Henrico County for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Powell is one of the three candidates running for the spot on the Democratic ballot this fall.

    Written on Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:33 Read more...
  • Democratic hopeful supports Obama
    Democratic hopeful supports Obama

    Wayne Powell wants to be the Democratic Party nominee to challenge House Majority Leader Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-Henrico, for the 7th District seat in the House of Representatives in November.

    Written on Thursday, 08 March 2012 18:47 Read more...
  • Cantor opponent Wayne Powell to serve as pro bono counsel for some of "Capitol Square 31"

    Earlier this evening I spoke with Wayne Powell, one of three 7th Congressional District Democrats seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to face off against Eric Cantor this November. Powell told me that when he heard what had happened at Virginia's Capitol Square, he hurried downtown to offer his legal services to the protesters that had been arrested.

    Written on Monday, 05 March 2012 02:38 Read more...
  • Wayne Powell reacts to Police Overreaction at Demonstration
    Wayne Powell reacts to Police Overreaction at Demonstration

    E. Wayne Powell, candidate for the Democratic nomination against Eric cantor in the Seventh Congressional District, today released this statement about the incidents at the Capitol.

    Written on Sunday, 04 March 2012 22:51 Read more...
  • Wayne Powell Has an Amazing Week
    Wayne Powell Has an Amazing Week

    E. Wayne Powell, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to take on Eric Cantor in Virginia's 7th Congressional District, has had a really amazing week. It all started last Thursday when Powell received the endorsement of the Progressive Democrats of America's chapter in Virginia's 7th CD.  Powell's education and experience—especially his service in the military—make him exceptionally well equipped to face Cantor. 

    Written on Thursday, 20 October 2011 00:00 Read more...
  • Wayne Powell Receives PDA 7th District Endorsement
    Wayne Powell Receives PDA 7th District Endorsement

    On October 13th members of the PDA 7th District Chapter endorsed candidate E. Wayne Powell.

    Written on Friday, 14 October 2011 00:00 Read more...
  • OWS: The Basis of All That Is Good and Right About Our Country
    OWS: The Basis of All That Is Good and Right About Our Country

    Occasionally I take a long weekend. It’s a chance to take a break from the profession, and the campaign. Last weekend I travelled to New York City. What started as a getaway ended in an exhilarating glimpse of democracy in action.

    Written on Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:00 Read more...
  • "Eric Cantor's War on American Jobs" by E. Wayne Powell
    "Eric Cantor's War on American Jobs" by E. Wayne Powell

    My name is Wayne Powell, and I'm a Democrat running for Congress in Virginia's 7th Congressional District to replace Eric Cantor. Americans need good jobs now.  Let's face it, as a nation we tend to define ourselves by what we do.  I am an attorney and a retired military officer.  When you deny Americans an opportunity to do meaningful work and contribute to their community by providing services, you are attacking a key part of their individual identities.

    Written on Monday, 19 September 2011 00:00 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

VA Endorsed Candidate

WaynePowellGreat

VA-07 E. Wayne Powell
http://www.powellforva.com

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of