Yet more Obama positions on Iran

Ed Lasky
Barack Obama has a growing number of positions on how to deal with Iran. Yesterday, James Taranto in his Best of the Web column  noted that blogger Lance Adams reported on Barack Obama expressing a different perspective toward Iran in a 2004 Chicago Tribune interview than he has expressed on the campaign trail.
Here was Obama in 2004:

"In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in," he said.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran.... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point." [....]

O
bama said that violent Islamic extremists are a vastly different brand of foe than was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they must be treated differently.

"With the Soviet Union, you did get the sense that they were operating on a model that we could comprehend in terms of, they don't want to be blown up, we don't want to be blown up, so you do game theory and calculate ways to contain," Obama said. "I think there are certain elements within the Islamic world right now that don't make those same calculations.... "

Last week Obama said this:

"Iran, Cuba, Venezuela-these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet."

In fact, Barack Obama has been backtracking from that 2004 Tribune interview for quite some time. In an interview with Obama supporter and New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof from early last year he was already disavowing his previous somewhat relaistic views towards Iran. . A matter of fact, he went into reverse.

Even when at one poin he seemed to indicate an openness to looking at military options to deal with Iran's nuclear program, he quickly eviscerated that option by stating that it did not even exist. He unilaterally has taken off the table an important bargaining chip. What a negotiator!  He is quoted,

"And I think the exact quote at the time was, you know, If there was a way of disabling a nuclear facility without any collateral damage, then that would certainly be an option we'd want to take into account. You know, I don't think that's a particularly controversial statement. But the - but those options don't exist." 

Now you see it now you don't. The endless shell game that is Barack Obama. Excerpt from Kristof's Q and A:

Q. Tell me about Iran. I saw some sort of hawkish quotes that you gave, I think in 2004, to The Chicago Tribune. [He was quoted then as saying, "My instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran."]

A. Yeah. You know, they - I have to say they got painted as much more hawkish than they were intended. I mean essentially what is said, which I think would be incontrovertible, is that, you know, Iran's a developing country. A nuclear weapon is a problem for the future. And that we should preserve our military options. And I think the exact quote at the time was, you know, If there was a way of disabling a nuclear facility without any collateral damage, then that would certainly be an option we'd want to take into account. You know, I don't think that's a particularly controversial statement. But the - but those options don't exist. And I said in the very same article that every assessment that I've seen suggests that even if you are predisposed to military action, those options are extraordinarily dangerous..... More to the point, in light of what's happening in Iraq, I would hope that the administration has learned its lesson. I certainly hope Congress has learned its lesson - that being trigger happy or having a quick trigger finger when it comes to military actions without having exhausted our diplomatic options, and without, you know, I think, having a very clear sense of what outcomes we're looking for is a recipe for disaster. So I've been consistent throughout this process in saying we should talk to Iran. I think we should talk to Iran without conditions....

Q. I think it was the same article - maybe a different one - where you also sounded a little hawkish on Pakistan....[The Tribune paraphrased him on Sept. 25, 2004: "Obama said that if President Pervez Musharraf were to lose power in a coup, the United States similarly might have to consider military action in that country to destroy nuclear weapons it already possesses."]

A. It's a situation where I was simply saying things that I think, in Washingtonspeak, you use code for....What I said with respect to Pakistan was that, given that they've got a proven nuclear arsenal and that there's been a history of their military not being as cautious as we would like them to be with respect to nuclear proliferation issues, and given the history of A.Q. Khan and what's happened there, that you know if you had a coup in which Islamic extremists took over the Pakistani government, that would be a significant threat to U.S. security and we would want, again, to keep all our military options open. Now my hope is that we prevent that from happening or that we do everything we can to strengthen the forces of democracy and maintain good relations with Pakistan. Now, it's a difficult thing because we have a genuine ally in Musharraf. It's an imperfect partner. And. . . there are aspects of the Pakistani government and its relationship to its own people as well as its approach to dealing with al Qaeda and the Taliban that are real problems. And you know I guess I would probably like to see the administration send clearer signals to Pakistan that we want to work with them, we want to cooperate with them, we want to help them build their economy. We're willing to put resources into Pakistan to improve the daily life of Pakistanis, which I think will in the long term strengthen Musharraf's power. But in exchange, we have to be attentive to human rights, women's rights. And we have to ask them to take issues like terrorism, nuclear proliferation, more seriously than they....

Barack Obama has a growing number of positions on how to deal with Iran. Yesterday, James Taranto in his Best of the Web column  noted that blogger Lance Adams reported on Barack Obama expressing a different perspective toward Iran in a 2004 Chicago Tribune interview than he has expressed on the campaign trail.
Here was Obama in 2004:

"In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in," he said.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran.... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point." [....]

O
bama said that violent Islamic extremists are a vastly different brand of foe than was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they must be treated differently.

"With the Soviet Union, you did get the sense that they were operating on a model that we could comprehend in terms of, they don't want to be blown up, we don't want to be blown up, so you do game theory and calculate ways to contain," Obama said. "I think there are certain elements within the Islamic world right now that don't make those same calculations.... "

Last week Obama said this:

"Iran, Cuba, Venezuela-these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet."

In fact, Barack Obama has been backtracking from that 2004 Tribune interview for quite some time. In an interview with Obama supporter and New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof from early last year he was already disavowing his previous somewhat relaistic views towards Iran. . A matter of fact, he went into reverse.

Even when at one poin he seemed to indicate an openness to looking at military options to deal with Iran's nuclear program, he quickly eviscerated that option by stating that it did not even exist. He unilaterally has taken off the table an important bargaining chip. What a negotiator!  He is quoted,

"And I think the exact quote at the time was, you know, If there was a way of disabling a nuclear facility without any collateral damage, then that would certainly be an option we'd want to take into account. You know, I don't think that's a particularly controversial statement. But the - but those options don't exist." 

Now you see it now you don't. The endless shell game that is Barack Obama. Excerpt from Kristof's Q and A:

Q. Tell me about Iran. I saw some sort of hawkish quotes that you gave, I think in 2004, to The Chicago Tribune. [He was quoted then as saying, "My instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran."]

A. Yeah. You know, they - I have to say they got painted as much more hawkish than they were intended. I mean essentially what is said, which I think would be incontrovertible, is that, you know, Iran's a developing country. A nuclear weapon is a problem for the future. And that we should preserve our military options. And I think the exact quote at the time was, you know, If there was a way of disabling a nuclear facility without any collateral damage, then that would certainly be an option we'd want to take into account. You know, I don't think that's a particularly controversial statement. But the - but those options don't exist. And I said in the very same article that every assessment that I've seen suggests that even if you are predisposed to military action, those options are extraordinarily dangerous..... More to the point, in light of what's happening in Iraq, I would hope that the administration has learned its lesson. I certainly hope Congress has learned its lesson - that being trigger happy or having a quick trigger finger when it comes to military actions without having exhausted our diplomatic options, and without, you know, I think, having a very clear sense of what outcomes we're looking for is a recipe for disaster. So I've been consistent throughout this process in saying we should talk to Iran. I think we should talk to Iran without conditions....

Q. I think it was the same article - maybe a different one - where you also sounded a little hawkish on Pakistan....[The Tribune paraphrased him on Sept. 25, 2004: "Obama said that if President Pervez Musharraf were to lose power in a coup, the United States similarly might have to consider military action in that country to destroy nuclear weapons it already possesses."]

A. It's a situation where I was simply saying things that I think, in Washingtonspeak, you use code for....What I said with respect to Pakistan was that, given that they've got a proven nuclear arsenal and that there's been a history of their military not being as cautious as we would like them to be with respect to nuclear proliferation issues, and given the history of A.Q. Khan and what's happened there, that you know if you had a coup in which Islamic extremists took over the Pakistani government, that would be a significant threat to U.S. security and we would want, again, to keep all our military options open. Now my hope is that we prevent that from happening or that we do everything we can to strengthen the forces of democracy and maintain good relations with Pakistan. Now, it's a difficult thing because we have a genuine ally in Musharraf. It's an imperfect partner. And. . . there are aspects of the Pakistani government and its relationship to its own people as well as its approach to dealing with al Qaeda and the Taliban that are real problems. And you know I guess I would probably like to see the administration send clearer signals to Pakistan that we want to work with them, we want to cooperate with them, we want to help them build their economy. We're willing to put resources into Pakistan to improve the daily life of Pakistanis, which I think will in the long term strengthen Musharraf's power. But in exchange, we have to be attentive to human rights, women's rights. And we have to ask them to take issues like terrorism, nuclear proliferation, more seriously than they....