Joe Biden and Iran

From an article by Michael Rubin in today’s Washington Post:

Eleven years ago, on Aug. 4, 1997, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami proposed a dialogue of civilizations. The world applauded. Biden spearheaded efforts to seize the mantle of engagement. In September 1998, for example, Biden told the Czech foreign minister that cutting radio broadcasts into Iran might better encourage dialogue. Not long after President Bush declared Iran part of an “axis of evil,” Biden headlined a March 13, 2002, dinner at the American Iranian Council, an organization underwritten at the time by a dozen oil companies and dedicated to ending sanctions on Iran. At the gala (at which Biden also endorsed regime change in Iraq), he spoke of the dichotomy between hard-liners and the reformers led by Khatami. In order to encourage reform, he invited “the elected representatives in Iran, to meet with . . . members of the United States Congress.” Biden indicated that it would not be his first meeting with Iranian parliamentarians.

Fast forward a few years. Khatami left office in 2005 without implementing substantial reform. Between 2000 and 2005, in an effort to engage Iran, European Union trade with that country nearly tripled. Yet far from assuming a moderate posture, “the elected representatives in Iran” allocated nearly 70 percent of the hard currency windfall into military and nuclear programs. The November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate affirmed the fruits of such investment when it found that Iran had pursued a nuclear weapons program until 2003. Although Biden’s embrace of engagement coincided with Iran’s nuclear warhead work, he acknowledged no error. He told reporters on Dec. 4 that Bush had “misrepresented” the intelligence in a drive to war and declared the same day, “You cannot trust this president” …

Bush has been a polarizing figure, but most senators realize that partisanship should never trump national security. In early 2007, evidence mounted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was planning terrorist activities in Iraq. An August 2007 National Intelligence Estimate found that “Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants” and that “Explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks have risen dramatically.” The next month, the Senate considered a bipartisan amendment to designate the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, an important step to aid nonviolent efforts to deny it funds and financing. Biden was one of only 22 senators to vote against it. “I voted against the amendment to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization because I don’t trust this administration,” he said. Distrust of the U.S. president is the nature of politics, but skepticism about foreign dictators and their Brown Shirts is the backbone of judgment. — Washington Post

Rubin is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative “think tank”. So naturally he is to be expected to find problems with Biden. But yet…

Here’s another bit, from a profile of Biden by Michael Crowley from The New Republic in October, 2001:

“This,” Joe Biden announces, “is what I’ve spent my entire adult life preparing for.” It’s exactly three Tuesdays since the September attacks, and Biden is presiding over a morning meeting of his committee staffers. It’s a formidable group–a collection of super-earnest twentysomethings and grave committee veterans, all wearing dark suits and grim faces. Biden, with his pearly smile and sugar-white hair, seems almost to glow in contrast…

At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.

The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.

Possibly he was just kidding, or this is an example of his oft-mentioned failure to ‘engage brain before activating mouth’, as the sign says. But yet…

In 2002, Biden spoke at a fundraiser held at the Southern California home of Dr. Sadegh Namazi-khah, a member of the pro-regime Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN), where he received $30,000 for his campaign. The writer of the linked article, Kenneth R. Timmerman, also counts as a right-wing source and IMAN claims to be “non-political”. But yet…

Yesterday Galei Tzahal [Israel Army Radio; the version below is from] reported that

Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visiting Israel several years ago, told Israeli officials diplomacy and sanctions would be futile against Iran.

On Monday Israel’s Army Radio reported details of the comments Biden made when he met with “senior Israeli officials behind closed doors.”

Reportedly Biden told the officials he opposed “opening a additional military and diplomatic front” against Iran.

“Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran,” Army Radio quoted Biden as telling the Israelis.

Almost immediately, the Obama campaign issued vehement denials. Army Radio did not reveal its sources, so there is — at present — no way to confirm or deny this report. The Jerusalem Post simply replaced an article similar to the Newsmax version with one that stressed the denial and left out the quotation that “Israel will have to reconcile itself…”!

As this story develops, we may find out that it’s all a Republican plot. Biden didn’t say this and he’s as big a Zionist as he claims.

Or he may indeed have said what he is reported to have said.

Or, worse, we may find out that the only way Biden differs from other American officials is that he has allowed his point of view to become public.

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One Response to “Joe Biden and Iran”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that an Obama- Biden victory will mean the U.S. opens a ‘dialogue’ with Iran. Note that when Obama spoke about the problem he spoke about preventing the possibility that Israel will attack Iran. He seemed more fearful of the Israeli attack result than of the Iranian nuclear capability.
    However I also believe that should there be a ‘dialogue’ it will probably because of Iranian mendacity and stubborness eventually fail.
    Remember Bush spoke with such definitiveness about preventing Iran from going nuclear. He didn’t talk to them but didn’t stop them at all.
    So there is no way of how this will work out. The ‘dialoguers’ might eventually be better than the boycotters, although I would not bet on this either.