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January 11, 2009

The Rock

Newspaper-Welt.jpg

I was interested in the symbolism in this image leading a Die Welt story speculating how Obama’s philosophy of engagement is going to go down with Iran. As it pointedly overlays a simultaneously frosty, yet buoyant and electrically-outlined Barack at the microphone/bully pulpit, the sense is that a rock, as much as it can secure a stack of newspapers, can also be used to throw.

The photo in the actual article, by the way, plays with similar subject matter. (Just below, right. Click for full size.)

Die Welt 2.jpg

In that version, printing technicians check a copy of a different newspaper fronting a large photo of Obama against a huge “Change” banner. Above it, to the right, is a small photo of Iran’s leader, Ali Khameni. The composition reflects Obama’s seemingly outsized potential as a change agent combined with the natural tension between two leaders, driven home by the deliberating/speculating gestures of the two men.

If you can translate the headline in either photo by the way, I’d be curious to know.

(image 1: unattributed. image 2: AFP)

  • cenoxo

    Perhaps Iran is hoping for more change than they’re going to get: it sounds like BHO is already engaged. From NPR’s Transcript: Obama’s Speech at AIPAC, June 4, 2008:

    I want you to know that today I’ll be speaking from my heart, and as a true friend of Israel. And I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever.

    …the bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interests — it’s rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people. And as president, I will work with you to ensure that this bond is strengthened.

    And I deeply understood the Zionist idea — that there is always a homeland at the center of our story.

    We know that the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.

    Hamas now controls Gaza. Hezbollah has tightened its grip on southern Lebanon, and is flexing its muscles in Beirut. Because of the war in Iraq, Iran — which always posed a greater threat to Israel than Iraq — is emboldened and poses the greatest strategic challenge to the United States and Israel in the Middle East in a generation. Iraq is unstable, and al-Qaida has stepped up its recruitment. Israel’s quest for peace with its neighbors has stalled, despite the heavy burdens borne by the Israeli people. And America is more isolated in the region, reducing our strength and jeopardizing Israel’s safety.

    Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.
    That starts with ensuring Israel’s qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat — from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As president, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade — investments to Israel’s security that will not be tied to any other nation.

    There is no greater threat to Israel — or to the peace and stability of the region — than Iran. Now this audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats, and the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that, regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder to shoulder in our commitment to Israel’s security. So while I don’t want to strike too partisan a note here today, I do want to address some willful mischaracterizations of my positions.
    The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.
    But just as we are cleareyed about the threat, we must be clear about the failure of today’s policy. We knew, in 2002, that Iran supported terrorism. We knew Iran had an illicit nuclear program. We knew Iran posed a grave threat to Israel. But instead of pursuing a strategy to address this threat, we ignored it and instead invaded and occupied Iraq. When I opposed the war, I warned that it would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East. That is precisely what happened in Iran — the hard-liners tightened their grip, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005. And the United States and Israel are less secure.
    I respect Sen. McCain, and look forward to a substantive debate with him these next five months. But on this point, we have differed, and we will differ. Sen. McCain refuses to understand or acknowledge the failure of the policy that he would continue. He criticizes my willingness to use strong diplomacy but offers only an alternate reality — one where the war in Iraq has somehow put Iran on its heels. The truth is the opposite. Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium and has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats toward Israel have increased. Those are the facts, they cannot be denied, and I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.
    Sen. McCain offers a false choice: stay the course in Iraq, or cede the region to Iran. I reject this logic because there is a better way. Keeping all of our troops tied down indefinitely in Iraq is not the way to weaken Iran — it is precisely what has strengthened it. It is a policy for staying, not a plan for victory. I have proposed a responsible, phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. We will finally pressure Iraq’s leaders to take meaningful responsibility for their own future.
    We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a cleareyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have tried limited, piecemeal talks while we outsource the sustained work to our European allies. It is time for the United States to lead.
    There will be careful preparation. We will open up lines of communication, build an agenda, coordinate closely with our allies, and evaluate the potential for progress. Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of my choosing — if, and only if, it can advance the interests of the United States.
    Only recently have some come to think that diplomacy by definition cannot be tough. They forget the example of Truman, and Kennedy and Reagan. These presidents understood that diplomacy backed by real leverage was a fundamental tool of statecraft. And it is time to once again make American diplomacy a tool to succeed, not just a means of containing failure. We will pursue this diplomacy with no illusions about the Iranian regime. Instead, we will present a clear choice. If you abandon your dangerous nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives — including the lifting of sanctions, and political and economic integration with the international community. If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure.
    My presidency will strengthen our hand as we restore our standing. Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States, it will be clear — to the people of Iran, and to the world — that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation. That will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council. And we should work with Europe, Japan and the Gulf states to find every avenue outside the U.N. to isolate the Iranian regime — from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran, to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whose Quds force has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.
    I was interested to see Sen. McCain propose divestment as a source of leverage — not the bigoted divestment that has sought to punish Israeli scientists and academics, but divestment targeted at the Iranian regime. It’s a good concept, but not a new one. I introduced legislation over a year ago that would encourage states and the private sector to divest from companies that do business in Iran. This bill has bipartisan support, but for reasons that I’ll let him explain, Sen. McCain never signed on. Meanwhile, an anonymous senator is blocking the bill. It is time to pass this into law so that we can tighten the squeeze on the Iranian regime. We should also pursue other unilateral sanctions that target Iranian banks and assets.

    Breakups are always contentious, but let they who are without sin cast the first stone.

  • jtfromBC

    In associating the obligatory AIPAC rant, with the smoking mic in the top pic, reality may confirm we need Iran more than Iran needs us.

  • http://www.pooya.com/poo Pooya

    The headline in the newspaper with the rock on it says “Black leader White house” and the headline from the “CHANGE” article translates to “Change in History” or “Historical Change”.

  • http://theforgottenwar.blogspot.com Sergei Andropov

    Can you make out what it says above “رئیس سیاه کاخ سفید”‭?

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