Obama switches play on war
with Iran By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
ALTO, California - United States President Barack
Obama has contradicted both his defense secretary
and head of intelligence by laying a small though
significant speed bump ahead of the express train
of war on Iran fueled by pro-Israel pundits and
politicians in the US.
Whereas Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
tacitly conceded that Israel had finalized a plan
to attack Iran within the next few months over its
disputed nuclear program, Obama stated in a prime
time television interview on Sunday that Israel
had made no such decision, and simultaneously
expressed his preference for a diplomatic solution
to fractions with Iran.
Equally important in Obama's
five-minute interview, meaningfully inserted in
the pre-Super Bowl television coverage watched
hundreds of millions around
the world, was his admission that he did not "see
any evidence" that Iran had the "intentions or
capabilities" to mount a terror attack on US soil,
thus contradicting last week's congressional
testimony by James Clapper, head of US
intelligence community, who accused Iran of
engaging in such terror plots.
Throwing cold water on the
war on Iran furnace, Obama has thus sent an
important signal to Iran and the rest of the world
that shows a more serious commitment on his part
to engage in diplomacy with respect to Iran and
its nuclear program.
With rising oil prices as a
result of mounting US-Iran tensions in Persian
Gulf, de-escalating tensions with Tehran makes
good economic sense for the US, whose economic
recovery can be derailed if the oil prices spike
to another $20 to $30 per barrel, as anticipated
in a new report by the World Bank, which focuses
on the ramifications of the Western embargo on
Following this report, US
consumers would have to face $5 a gallon gas at
pump stations, more than a dollar than the average
prices today, and in an election year that would
not sit well with the discontented voters.
the question remains: what was Obama's real
purpose in orchestrating this significant foreign
policy move geared at US public opinion? While may
speculate on the real, short- and long-term,
internal and external, considerations behind
Obama's move, it clearly shows disagreement within
the Obama administration over Iran, principally
between the policy doves versus hawks.
is also a sure bet that if the president did not
have a significant backing by the moderates within
the various branches of US government, he would
not have made such a daring move, that is bound to
be demoralizing to the pro-Israel interest groups
that are working over-time, partly through their
sympathetic pundits in US media, to push the US
toward a military confrontation with Iran.
Incredibly, Obama, who a
precious few months ago fully endorsed the US
allegations of an Iranian conspiracy to murder a
Saudi diplomat in Washington and forcefully
commented that "there will not be a dispute" about
these allegations, has now gone on record stating
categorically that there is no evidence of Iranian
intentions to stage attacks on US soil.
Between then now and now,
Obama may have come up with new evidence that
indicates that the Iran terror allegation does not
hold water and lacks credibility, just as this
author has argued in his latest book that
deconstructs the US allegation against Iran. 
Obama's admission on Sunday lends credibility to
Iran's formal request for an apology from the US
for leveling false charges against it.
Another important question
is: can Obama sustain the avalanche of negative
reactions by the powerful Jewish lobby in the US
that is desperately trying to frame the war
scenario with Iran into a national issue, in light
of a coming debate at the influential Council on
Foreign Relations, scheduled for March 1, under
the suggestive title "Time to attack Iran?" The
council has clearly succumbed to extremist
warmongering elements by holding such a "live"
debate, instead of providing prudent venues to
discuss diplomatic options with Iran, ie, a
definite black apostrophe on its record.
to be outdone by the voices of peace and
moderation, no sooner had Obama made his public
statements on Iran, when the US media began
reporting that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
had made a statement that condoned "killing all
the Jews" and annihilating the state of Israel.
This news, referring to an
article in a non-governmental website in Iran,
alef.com, is based on a major distortion of the
Farsi article, written by an individual named
Forghani, who admits that it reflects his own
personal views and not those of the government.
Not only that, contrary to reports, nowhere in
Forghani's article is there any quotation from the
Supreme Leader that directly or indirectly
condones killing the Jews in Israel.
is that Iran's Islamic constitution recognizes the
Jews as a people of the book and guarantees their
constitutional rights, reflected in the
parliamentary seats allocated to Iran's small
Jewish minority, who enjoy religious freedom.
conclusion, another possibility regarding Obama's
speech is that he may be positioning himself for
better political bargaining with the powerful
Jewish community in the US, that has put in his
election coffer millions of dollars and, yet, is
showing overt signs of tilting in favor of Obama's
likely Republican contender, Mitt Romney. If so,
Iran should not vest too much hope in Obama's
small olive branch, but rather a small step back
designed to force a better bargain from this