Hillary Mann Leverett on Hagel and the Obama Administration’s Iran Policy


Following President Obama’s announcement that he is nominating former Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Secretary of Defense, Hillary cautioned on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas (click here or on video above) that Hagel will be in the wrong job to drive a fundamental recasting of the Obama administration’s Iran policy:

“I would take the president’s word that he likes and trusts former Senator Hagel, got to know him in the Senate, likes and trusts his positions and his candor on a range of issues.  But I think the calculus to go ahead, and in the way that they are going ahead is that Senator Hagel, for all of the courageous positions he’s taken—on Iran, on Israel, HAMAS, lots of issues—that he will assure his fellow senators that those are positions that he held as a senator and they really will not have very much to do with his position as Secretary of Defense.  Those are quintessential foreign policy issues that will be carried out by the Secretary of State and the national security adviser…

Obama now has an all-white-male [national security] cabinet.  The question is how long will his national security adviser stay, Tom Donilon.  And there I would put a question whether Susan Rice will be back on the scene.  And she will certainly constrain Hagel’s attempts—if he has any desire to make these attempts—to change policies…[The White House]thinks that Hagel is going to a good Secretary of Defense, and do quintessentially Secretary of Defense things—not foreign policy.”

To be sure, Obama’s nomination of Hagel is not without significance.  As Hillary points out,

“Accountability is critically important.  When President Obama first campaigned in 2008, he vowed not just to take our troops out of Iraq, but to change the mentality in our political system that got us into such a strategic disaster.  The appointment of someone like Hagel as Secretary of Defense at least goes back to that campaign promise, that he would try to change the mentality that brought us to those kinds of strategic disasters in the Middle East.”

Nevertheless, it is important not to overstate what Hagel’s confirmation would imply about the course of Obama’s policy toward Iran and other high-profile Middle East issues.  In Hillary’s view,

“The hopes for Senator Hagel and the concerns about Senator Hagel, I think, are both overblown.  Hagel, if he’s Defense Secretary, and the entire national security team, will have a series of crises come on their watch.  These nuclear talks (if they go forth) with Iran are not going to solve the problem we have with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  If he’s Secretary of Defense, former Senator Hagel is not going to be able to solve them by saying, ‘Well, just give them a little bit more, a little more relief.’  That’s not going to solve the problem.

I don’t know if he’s actually got a vision for dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the dramatic changes we see in the Middle East, and what is happening to American power.  But even if he had that vision, you need a president and a national security adviser who could work with him, and a secretary of state.  We haven’t seen that in the first term of the Obama administration, and I’m not sure we can hang all this on whether Hagel is going to be Secretary of Defense or not.”

Hillary warns that U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic “is on a trajectory toward war that [Obama] is not taking us off of.”  In this context, “Many are hoping that at least Hagel will stop another march to a needless war in the Middle East on Iran.”  But Hillary recalls the experience of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates,

“who was considered to have bipartisan support, wide respect not only in the Pentagon in the CIA, among Republicans and Democrats:  he had to resign, with the intervention in Libya.  His opposition to our intervention in Libya did not stop our intervention in Libya.

So even if Hagel takes that (what I would think) courageous and correct position, to try to urge caution against going to war to disarm a country of weapons of mass destruction it doesn’t have yet again—we have an experience with Gates…Gates resigned after the Libya intervention; he told Charlie Rose [that] he opposed it and resigned…Being opposed to another war doesn’t necessarily stop it.”

In addition to the Hagel nomination, Obama also named White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan to become the CIA’s next director.  Brennan, Hillary notes, “has been a masterful tactician, particularly as a champion of the drone wars, which have killed American citizens without any due process of law, including the son a someone, a sixteen-year-old.  He’s been the champion of this kind of drone warfare and covert operations throughout the world—which, in some ways, could take some of the pressure off of Hagel.  Because a lot of the trajectory toward war with Iran is covert, is in cyber warfare, and other covert ways.”

In this regard, Brennan’s nomination highlights what Hillary describes as “the core dysfunction in American politics today: 

The Democrats have gone AWOL.  The left has gone AWOL.  There’s no Democrat, I don’t think, of any seriousness who’s really going to challenge and open up the record of drone warfare and the covert war that has become the way of American war since the strategic disasters in invading Iraq and Afghanistan.  No Democrat has done that; they’ve gone AWOL.  But it’s something the rest of the world sees, and really hold the United States in some contempt for.”

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett


36 Responses to “Hillary Mann Leverett on Hagel and the Obama Administration’s Iran Policy”

  1. Richard Steven Hack says:

    One hundred percent correct.

    I agree with Hillary. and Glenn Greenwald in his recent Guardian piece. that the appointment of Hagel – if he even gets past the rabid pro-Israel Senate – is unlikely to put the brakes on the Iran war. If nothing else, he is likely to toe the party line and if he doesn’t, like Admiral Fallon, he’ll be gone.

  2. Pirouz says:

    Could have been much worse: just think if an Israel-firster like Jane Harman had been nominated and accepted as SecDef.

    But yes, we certainly don’t want Rice to reappear as National Security Advisor. She’d be as bad at it as the other Rice that filled that position when 9/11 took place.

  3. James Canning says:

    My understanding is that David Cameron played a key role in convincing Obama to back the Anglo-French attack on Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. And that Cameron was persuaded to join the French attack, by Sarkozy.

    William Hague was opposed to British military intervention in Libya. The British defence minister at the time was very close to American neocon warmongers.

  4. BiBiJon says:

    While I understand that SecDef position is not a determinant of foreign policy, or even war-and-peace, I think Hagel’s nomination already has, and will have even more during confirmation hearings, a profound impact on domestic constituencies that have hijacked US foreign policy.

    Whether it is the oversize influence of the “military-industrail-complex”, or the Israel Lobby, or the Christian Zionists, or the run of the mill Islamophobes, the White house, for the first time is pushing back on undue, unearned, and entirely illegitimate vetting/vetoing power of loudmouths.

    I can just imagine exchanges between Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel during confirmation:

    Graham: How do you explain being one of only two senators to vote against the Iran sanctions act?

    Hagel: I think the lack of diversity of opinion on a matter so consequential needs explaining by the 98 Senators who voted for it.

    Graham: Why have you not signed AIPAC letters?

    Hagel: Senator, has there been a single AIPAC letter you have not signed? As a Senator, I had a staff, access to information, and the counsel of fellow senators to formulate my own thoughts. I did not need AIPAC to think, and write opinions for me to sign.


    Anyways, the curtain is being pulled back on wizard of Oz. Already, William Kristol has pulled his Google ad. I expect many others to abandon the Lobby ship before Hagel hits the fan.

    Yes, Foreign policy will not change. But, the lens through which we were all supposed to look at the world will crack.


    There’s some chatter about how out of the mainstream it was for Hagel suggesting to talk to Hamas.

    Well, I guess folks didn’t know what John-BeechBoys-McCain said:



    I take it back. Kristol hasn’t pull his Google ad. Obviously, he is more of masochist than I thought possible.

  5. James Canning says:


    If Hagel had been chosen as SecDef by Obama in January 2009, the Obama administration’s decision to treble the US troop presence in Afghanistan may well have gone the other way. Joe Biden opposed the “surge” in Afghanstan. Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton supported that “surge”.

  6. ToivoS says:

    Hillary is quite correct that it is State and the NSC that will be determinant in diplomatic policy towards Iran. But for the question of going to war having someone like Hagel at the head of defense could be critical. I agree that current US policy is on a trajectory leading to war with Iran but I also believe that Obama is convinced that such a war will not work. It is important for Obama to be around someone to remind him that what he is doing (i.e. current policy) is in conflict with his desires to avoid war.

  7. Fiorangela says:

    May: “Name one thing he’s done.”
    Korb: “He told the truth.”

    = = =

    Hillary, do you think the Kerry-Hagel duo in State and Defense could trump a Rice as National Security Advisor?

    I suppose you were wise to raise the fact that so far the team is all-male, a fact that Jane Harman highlighted in an appearance on C Span this morning. Harman said that “national security is a woman’s issue: women ferociously guard the children.” (Was Harman auditioning? She had only good things to say about Hagel, Brennan & Kerry).
    But the record of women in security administration positions in the past decade or so has been dismal — who can tally the number of other women’s children who have died as a result of the policies of Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power, Condi Rice, Ileana Ros Lehtinen, Susan Rice, Michelle Fluornoy (whose think tank collaborated with Dennis Ross to ramp up sanctions on Iran). I’m afraid having one more of these women “ferociously guarding the children” is the equivalent of hiring Carrie to babysit.

  8. James Canning says:

    Interesting snippet in The Times (London) December 28th: ‘US envoys “may have talked the [Argentine] generals into invasion”‘. It quotes Sir Nicholas Henderson, the British ambassador in Washington, in his last dispatch to London thirty years ago: ‘Comparing [Jeane] Kirkpatrick with [Thomas] Enders, “it is difficult to improve on the apophthegm going the rounds of the State Department that whereas the latter is more fascist than fool, Kirkpatrick is more fool than fascist…”‘

    Kirkpatrick was US ambassador to the UN. Enders was Ass’t Sec of State for Latin American Affairs.

  9. James Canning says:


    I can remember when the Secretary of State (Haig) tried to block American support of Britain during the Falklands War. The Secretary of Defense (Weinberger) talked Reagan into backing the British.

  10. James Canning says:

    More extreme antics by the Israel lobby: “Israel lobbyist denies he called Jimmy Carter ‘anti-Semitic,’ then Al Jazeera host confronts him”


  11. ToivoS says:

    This nonsense that women are more pacific then men was laid to rest with the administrations of Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi.

  12. kooshy says:

    In my opinion, with observation of this past 34 years of US policy toward Iran, I agree with Hilary, that US strategic thinking (core policy) toward Iran cannot and will not change (with Obama, Hagel, Kerry etc.) except in tactical ineffective ways. However, that said US’s core strategic policy as well as her tactical moves toward Iran has and will change incrementally ( with new facts on the ground made by Iran and other emerging powers), the only reason US has not made a bold China like reconfiguration of her policy toward Iran and greater middle east is that up to now the global balance of power was in US and her allies favor but fortunately with US’s bold mistakes in this past decade that is incrementally changing, once the balance becomes close to an even spread of power she will have to change her alignments, I suspect we will need to Waite up to another decade before we can see a change in US strategic thinking.

    With current US’s strategic policy an independent Middle Eastern regional power cannot be accepted or allowed if at all possible, but till now US has been incapable of changing Iran to be a fit country for realignment with US within US’s goals and policies for ME, I suspect US no longer can achieve that goal unless and when it becomes necessary for US to change her strategic policy to make Iran accommodated as Iran is that will take a few more years and a few more new facts realized.

  13. fyi says:

    ToivoS says:

    January 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Mr. Obama is avoiding war with Iran not out of any conviction – only out of inconvenience at this juncture. His government is waging a proxy war against Iran and her allies in Syria; which, God willing, he is loosing.

    He also has the siege war against Iran going – hoping to wear down the Iranians.

  14. Castellio says:

    Just curious, why would the host on Al Jazeera call Israel “the US’s biggest ally”?

    In what way is Israel the US’s biggest ally? Strange…

  15. fyi says:

    kooshy says:

    January 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Americans wish to recapture their Imperial moment immediately after World War II when they were a truly collosal power in the international arena.

    To wit, they destroyed Yugoslavia durin their Unilateral moment and had Iran and Iraq with their plans for regime change.

    They had, according to their own estimations, 20 years to accomplish that (after 1991) and they failed in Iraq – and by implication – in Iran.

    In fact, specifically in their dealings against Iran, they had had to cede power to other states – helping to usher in a more multi-polar world; contradicting their own policy.

    Or the destruction of NPT, or shredding of their own policy of global energy security – damaging what they themselves had promied and built.

    There are 45 million people who receive food-stamps in US (subsidized food).

    Yesterday, in Detroit, Michigan, a 19-year old man was murdered over a leather jacket. Americans want to build a nation in Afghanistan (or Iraq); they sorely need nation-building in their own country.

  16. fyi says:


    EU Economy:


    US Economy:


    US and EU cannot be great military powers, great economic powers, and, to at the same time, protect their populations agaist the ravages of the global supply chain.

    One of the 3 has to give.

    UK clearly has selected to shrink her military and diplomatic expense.

    We shall see what others are going to do.

  17. Dan Cooper says:

    By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor. posted on Thu, Jan 3.

    The next six to 24 months are going to be the most vital period for Iran-US relations on both the nuclear dilemma and US-Iran relations. Eleven years of diplomatic negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dossier have failed. While the world powers and Iran are working on the next meeting to happen soon, the most critical question remains as to whether a feasible deal is plausible? Under President Obama’s leadership, the most comprehensive sanctions and punitive measures have been imposed on Iran, while Iran, in response, has accelerated its nuclear program. Iran has now accumulated over 7 tons of low enriched uranium, increasing the concerns of the West that if further enriched, it would enable Iran to build nuclear weapons.

    The latest visit to Tehran by the IAEA on Dec. 13, 2012 — the first since August 2005 — provided an optimistic outlook for an agreement to resolve the IAEA’s remaining technical ambiguities on the Iranian Nuclear program. After returning to Vienna from Tehran, Herman Nackaerts, the deputy director general of the IAEA, stated: “We were able to make progress … We expect to finalize the structured approach and start implementing it then shortly after that … More talks are due with Iran on Jan. 16.”
    The signals from the United States similarly indicate a more positive note, with Hillary Clintoncommenting that “We are deeply engaged in consultations right now with our P-5+1 colleagues, looking to put together a presentation for the Iranians at the next meeting that does make it clear we’re running out of time, we’ve got to get serious, here are issues we are willing to discuss with you, but we expect reciprocity … we have, from the very beginning, made it clear to the Iranians we are open to a bilateral discussion.”
    The Europeans are likewise hopeful for an agreement. Following talks with the Iranian counterpart, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement affirming, “We hope that agreement with Iran can soon be reached on how to continue the talks and make concrete progress towards addressing international concerns and finding a diplomatic solution.”
    The increased optimism has been attributed to Obama’s freer hand following his successful reelection bid, coupled with recent talks between Tehran and Washington. Despite the recent positive views and increased optimism on the Iranian nuclear dossier — I am more concerned than ever.

    First issue is to recognize the fact the IAEA’s mandate is technical in nature, while the Iranian nuclear dossier is a political issue. Therefore, as I have mentioned before, a political agreement between P5+1 and Iran is needed first and foremost before the IAEA’s visit to Tehran. As I have been made aware, the next probable meeting between P5+1 and Iran is set for Jan. 15, 2013, while the IAEA’s planned visit to Tehran is scheduled for the next day. This timing signals that if the P5+1 and Iran can agree on a package at this meeting, Iran subsequently would be able to reach a deal with the IAEA on Jan. 16 — this would be an extraordinary breakthrough that everyone has been looking for all these years.

    Second, Iran and the P5+1 need to prioritize and reach a compromise on the enrichment issue, prior to discussing the alleged history of Iran’s weaponization activities. The IAEA’s Possible Military Dimension (PMD) issues are related to the past — this should not block the future. As long as the P5+1 is fixated on past activities, Iran would assume its nuclear file is being used as an instrument to advance their political agenda rather than seek resolution of the current crisis.

    Third key point is about reciprocity. To break the current deadlock, both parties should present proportionate reciprocity. It is encouraging that diplomats from P5+1 have agreed to “update” the May 2011 package previously presented to Iran in Baghdad. That package asked Tehran to stop production of 20% enrichment, close the Fordow facility where such work is done and ship its stockpile out of the country; in return they would provide spare parts for Iran’s civilian planes. I likened the Western strategy to one of “peanuts for diamonds.”
    As it stands, the draft package prepared by the US and the EU contains slight alterations to the failed package presented to Iran in Baghdad last May. This is the reason that the Russians are insisting on a more realistic, significantly revised and generous package to be presented to Iran at the upcoming talks. By simply repackaging the previous proposal, the stalemate will continue.
    If the next P5+1-Iran talks fail, it will deal a deathly blow to Iran-IAEA relations, marking the beginning of an end to Obama’s engagement policy. This in turn provides the warmongers in Tel Aviv and Washington an opportunity to demand more crippling sanctions against Iran and push the US to launch a military strike on the nation of 75 million people.
    There is an urgent need for progress in upcoming talks. All parties have a historical responsibility to resolve the dispute over the Iranian nuclear dossier through diplomacy within a year. Based on my experience, the following elements can bring about a breakthrough in the upcoming talks between Iran and the P5+1.

    First, Iran agreeing to place limits on its enrichment program. Iran can halt enrichment at 20% and cap its enrichment at 5% at a level that meets its domestic needs. This step from Iran, a measure beyond the requirements of the NPT, is a major condition of P5+1 and would go a long way toward reducing tensions with world powers. In addition, Iran can go even further and agree to the “Zero Stockpile Initiative,” either exporting or converting its excess enriched uranium beyond its domestic needs. This would provide the P5+1 with ample objective and measurable guarantees on the non-diversion of Iran’s nuclear program. To achieve positive momentum, the P5+1 should reciprocate appropriately. In my opinion, the EU should lift unilateral sanctions on the Iranian Central Bank and the oil industry.

    Second, if Iran accepts the implementation of the Additional Protocol and Subsidiary Arrangement Code.3.1, it signals its commitment to the maximum level of transparency that exists internationally. This is a major IAEA and UNSC requirement and is an important confidence-building measure. Based on legislature passed by the Iranian parliament, the P5+1 would need to recognize Iran’s legitimate right to enrichment under NPT and in return Iran would provide the maximum level of transparency through the additional protocol.

    Third, Iran agrees to address the IAEA’s Possible Military Dimension (PMD’s) issues, a key requirement of the P5+1 and the IAEA. This would require Iran to provide the IAEA access to facilities that are beyond NPT and the additional protocol — a step no other NPT member state would be ready to accept. In return, the P5+1 should suspend UNSC sanctions and ultimately aim to normalize the nuclear dossier once all of the IAEA’s technical ambiguities are resolved.

    Fourth, Iran agrees to limit the capacity of its enrichment in line with Russian commitments to provide fuel for the Bushehr Power Plant. By voluntarily limiting its enrichment capacity, Iran will be making an unprecedented gesture of goodwill that is once again beyond the requirements of the NPT. In return, the US and the West should lift their unilateral-nuclear related sanctions.
    In my opinion, this would constitute a genuine “More for More” initiative, ensuring a “Face Saving Solution” and a “Win-Win” outcome for Iran and the world powers. If all parties have good intentions, they would be able to devise a “Step by Step Plan” out of the four elements described above toward a peaceful end to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

  18. Dan Cooper says:

    James Canning says:
    January 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm
    More extreme antics by the Israel lobby: “Israel lobbyist denies he called Jimmy Carter ‘anti-Semitic,’ then Al Jazeera host confronts him”


    The Al Jazeera host proved that Kenneth Marcus The Israel lobbyist is nothing but a liar

  19. neo says:

    Hagel’s appointment reflects a need to reduce military spending. There won’t be a war with Iran and the sanctions drive will fizzle out. The main focus will be on pushing Israel into a compromise corner and letting it down gently as the US moves toward greater ‘energy independence’ – aka, cutting energy imports and consumption, especially by the military.

  20. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Iran is behind bank attacks, says US

    US is ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran in advance of the upcoming talks.

    If Iran is behind DDoS attacks on US banks, this would be cited by Obama as one more reason – if insufficient in itself – to justify further economic – and under Pentagon doctrine concerning “cyberwar”, military – action against Iran.

    As usual, the only problem is there is zero evidence that the Iranian state is behind them as opposed to hackers who are unknown with unknown motivations and support. For all we know, Israel is behind these attacks – it would be easy for them to “false flag” these attacks based on their known technical capability.

    In fact, in the article the US is claiming their reason for believing Iran is behind the attacks is precisely BECAUSE they can’t find them! To wit, “…as well as the fact that it’s been impossible to trace the attacks back to any command and control center.”

    Now that’s chutzpah!

  21. fyi says:

    Dan Cooper says:

    January 9, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Mr. Moussavian, like very many Iranians inside or outside of the Iranian Government still thinks that a deal with Axis Powers is possible.

    In fact, given the current siege war against Iran, the war in Syria and attempts of repeating that in Iraq, as well as the fluid situation in Afghanistan, the time for a deal is past.

    The best time for a deal would have been 2007-2008 or, at the very latest, 2010.

    Furthermore, the status quo ante of 2010, before the siege war and the war in Syria is not possible.

    There is no going back.

    Men like Mr. Moussavian do not understand that Axis Powers wish to destroy Iranian power – her strategic autonomy.

    Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Broujerdi, and a few other individuals in the Iranian Government understand all of that.

    Mr. Khamenei articulated Iranian policy late last year in a speech in Northern Khorasan – that Iran will live without normal state relations/intercourse with Axis Powers.

  22. James Canning says:


    I very much doubt that China wants to destroy Iran’s “stategic autonomy”. China, however, very definitely wants the sea lanes kept open to the Persian Gulf.

  23. Fiorangela says:

    fyi – is there a link to Mr Khamenei’s speech?

  24. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    Yes, Al Jazeera showed that Marcus is a liar, and he of course is one of the strongest advocates of suppressing free speech in the US, to faciliate continuing oppression of the Palestinians by Israel. Ergo, scheme to equate criticism of Israel with being “anti-Semitic”. Dangerous nonsense.

  25. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    Mousavian is quite right to say the P5+1 offer to Iran must be improved, as argued by the Russians.

    FYI’s apparent belief Iran can do as it pleases with nuclear enrichment is dead wrong.

  26. James Canning says:

    Sayed Hossein Mousavian is also sensible in his proposal that Iran voluntarily stop enriching to 20, provided this takes place in a context protecting the government’s prestige.

  27. James Canning says:


    The US would remain a great military power if “defence” spending was half what it is today.

  28. Rd. says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    “Iran is behind bank attacks, says US

    US is ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran in advance of the upcoming talks.”

    Perhaps it is just consumer propaganda…


  29. James Canning says:


    Why did the American ambassador in Belgrade try to keep Yugosalvia from collapsing, if the programme in Washington was to seek the collapse of that country?

  30. ToivoS says:

    Hmm, this comment got hung up in the wait line below in the Sulivan thread:

    ToivoS says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    January 8, 2013 at 8:24 pm
    lobelog writes: “Parliament suspended the second phase of the Targeted Subsidies Reform Act of 2010 — the center-piece of Ahmadinejad’s “Great Economic Surgery” — in November.”


    Isn’t this the reform that Hillary is praising in this vid. What is the issue? I thought Lobe was one of the good guys.

  31. James Canning says:


    The Wikipedia entry for Warren Zimmermann, the last US ambassador to Yugoslavia, offers some stinging criticism of him. But I do not see what is the basis of your laim the US schemed to destroy Yugoslavia Unless you are referring to the American policy opposing force as a means of preventing secession of Slovenia, Croatia, etc.

  32. Fiorangela says:

    re Rd. says:
    January 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    “The reason the US is so certain about the origin of the attacks is their sheer volume, with the hackers targeting data centers, as well as the fact that it’s been impossible to trace the attacks back to any command and control center.”
    Read more at http://www.tgdaily.com/security-brief/68618-iran-is-behind-bank-attacks-says-us#mC84fzAii1YcFHAM.99

    in other words,
    -there are a whole lot of ’em
    -they can’t be traced to anywhere

    and with a straight face, I suppose,

    It must be Iran.

    or maybe it’s the work of the used car salesman who is angry because his scheme to assassinate an Arab diplomat in a DC restaurant went awry?

  33. ToivoS says:

    “James Canning says:
    January 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    The Wikipedia entry for Warren Zimmermann, the last US ambassador to Yugoslavia, offers some stinging criticism of him. But I do not see what is the basis of your [c]laim the US schemed to destroy Yugoslavia…”

    As much as disagree with so much that Canning says I have to agree with him here. US policy under Bush and Baker was to preserve the state of Yugoslavia. That policy was undermined by the German FM Gensher when he recognized the independence of Slovenia. This was the event that set the dominoes falling and resulted in the end of Yugoslavia. After that there was little the US could do to stop its dissolution.

    The state of Yugoslavia was established by the victors of WWI as a block to German influence in the Balkan nations. After all Croatia and Slovenia were provinces of German and Austrian influence. The British and French realized that putting those two provinces into a Serbian dominated nation would undermine German influence. The good German Genscher saw his opportunity in 1991 and undid that anti-German abomination – the Yugoslav state — by recognizing Slovenian independence.

    This, of course resulted in one terrible civil war but the Germans were happy. This was one issue where the US was not responsible for what happened. It was also the point in my own education that I realized that “realist” foreign policy inside the US establishment did have some virtues.

  34. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    January 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm


    In the 4-th paragraph from the bottom we read:

    “The problem of the western political bullies ….is that Iran refuses to surrender to their demands. And of course, it is clear that this problem will not be resolved”

    To me, this means that at the highest state level in Iran, there is no expectation of the resolution of the confrontation between Axis Powers and Iran.

    In practical terms, it means that Iranians will attend this or that negogiating session on this or that topic, they will make their speeches, they will listen to the other side, and then they will go home.

    And at home and in their near-abroad I epxect them to so what they can to advance their interests as well as that of their allies – ignoring the noises of Axis Powers as well as Russia.

    Furthermore, in another speech, duringthe same trip but earlier (http://english.khamenei.ir//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1707&Itemid=4) Mr. Khamenei stated:

    “Today they claim that the problem is the nuclear issue. They pretend that if the Iranian nation gives up nuclear energy, the sanctions will be lifted. They are lying. Out of malice and spite, they impose irrational sanctions on us, sanctions which all wise and just people throughout the world consider as irrational and savage. This is a war against a nation.”

    Again, at the highest state level, it is rcognized and understood that Iran and her allies are in a possibly existential war. That is why Iranians ignore Axis Powers or others in Syria – they will do what they believe they must to safeguard their interests and the interests of their allies.

  35. James Canning says:

    Writing in The New York Times today, Nicholas Kristof says that Obama blundered when he trebled the US troop presence in Afghanistan. I of course agree. Hundreds of billions of dollars squandered.