Omid Memarian

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Clinton's "Obliteration" remark is genocidal, requires apology

Buzz up!
Senator Clinton should apologize for using a genocidal term during her campaign. Her recent remark-- stating that if Iranians were to launch a nuclear attack against Israel, the United States would be able to obliterate Iran -- is out of the line, politically inappropriate, and reflects a hawkish approach toward foreign policy based on the Bush administration model.

Even neoconservative warmongers who have been saber rattling with Iran over the past 8 years have never used such a term. If the media were not distracted by Rev. Wright's controversial remarks, this comment would cause a huge backlash against Clinton.

This calls into question Clinton's ability to pick up the red phone at 3 a.m. and make a tough decision on a crucial foreign policy issue. Also, before taking that 3 a.m. call, Clinton should read the National Intelligence Estimates during the daytime. She did not read them a single time for Iraq in 2002 and consequently voted for the Iraq war.

Once again, it seems that she did not read the latest NIE on Iran's nuclear program (PDF), which is a collection of reports conducted by dozens of intelligence agencies. The report released last December emphasizes that Iranians stopped their efforts to make a nuclear bomb in 2003. This means Iran has no bomb to attack Israel with, and consequently there is no need to "obliterate" a country with 70 million people, three times larger that Iraq in size and population.

Even if Iranians were to gain a nuclear bomb, there would be no way for them to use it against Israel, simply due to the geography of the region. Palestinians and Israelis live side by side. No bomb has yet been made that can differentiate between ethnicities.

Clinton's attempt to be tough has pushed her to internalize a neoconservative tone in her foreign policy agenda that is disrespectful of international mechanisms in dealing with global crisis. This destructive approach has dramatically damaged the image of the United States since the Iraq war in 2003.

Moreover, in the literature of peace and conflict studies, "obliteration" of a country, in whatever shape or form, is genocidal, irresponsible and irrational.

While thousands of people have died in a war that could have been avoided, talking about obliteration of yet another country -- which President Bush has called "the third World War" -- does bode well for change in the White House in January 2009.

Clinton should also know that there are between 25,000 to 35,000 Jews in Iran. Jewish people have a member in the Iranian parliament. They can practice their religion freely to a large extent, and love their homeland, even though they might not like their controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She should also remember that Iranians were the first in the Middle East to show their sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 tragedy by lighting candles in their memory.

Clinton's remark is disrespecting millions of Iranians who are struggling hard for their rights, which include thousands of intellectuals, journalists and activists who have paid huge costs to change their society but still think that the west and Iran should engage in a constructive dialogue -- even with the current government -- rather than go to war.


At 9:00 PM , Anonymous khorshid said...

Omid jan, thanks for writing this. I don't know why mainstream media stayed silent on this. This is certainly much more important than Reverend Wright fiasco. I'm wondering how she's running for democratic party nomination. She sounds more like a necon to me these days. (As you have also cleverly mentioned in your article.) Thanks again.

At 9:24 AM , Blogger Rick said...

As a young child, I always knew when noon struck. It was when the air raid siren sounded from the tallest building in my neighborhood. In school, we had the occasional air raid drill, when we had to duck under our desks, shielding our faces. I never quite knew what all this meant until much later in life, when I realized that I was a child of the Cold War.

The nuclear option during that time was described as "MAD" - mutually assured destruction - and as considering the "unthinkable". I used to think of these characterizations as sanitized, but now I have come to think of them as terms that appropriately convey the horror beyond horror that nuclear detonation ensures. I believe that our politicians, and or culture, of that time did have that deep sense of dread - deep enough to marry the word "unthinkable" to the possibility of detonation.

Yet to have witnessed various videos of Hillary Clinton invoking the nuclear option so smoothely, so comprehensively, like she was talking tax policy, sends such a shiver up my spine - how could our society have come to this? Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I cannot recall anyone uttering words like "obliterate". Here we have this word bandied about - and without provocation! Without imminent threat! In the last 8 years, we have devolved from targeted smart bombs of military targets only, to turning large swaths of Iraq to rubble, to... TO THIS?

I would like to write Hillary's comments off as some sort of pandering to the right, some sort of female machismo. But that could never come close to dismissing how someone could so easily speak about what I still like to call the unthinkable.

Hillary, please, PLEASE, take a look at pictures of survivors of Hiroshima. Please read some accounts of how a nuclear detonation unfolds - first the vaporization at ground zero, then the melting of flesh further out, then the scorching of lungs further out, the bleeding from all orifices, the absolutely grotesque nature of it all. Please tell me how you can ever sanitize this.

Iran may be many things that we fear, but Iran is also made up of people like you and me - people who get up in the morning and go to work to raise a family; innocent people not unlike the people who went to work in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. There have been many repressive regimes in my lifetime, but there is one truth that crosses all their boundaries. That truth is that there are many more people under the control of those regimes than there are people doing the controlling. Decent people, innocent people.

If we are to be a beacon to the world, we should be appealing to this larger audience, offering the carrot, not threatening the stick. There are many ways to do this, and these ways are far more influential, far deeper in their impact, than any military force could sustain. Even the spread of the internet will prove to be the single most powerful tool for democratization in our history.

Call me naive, call me a dove, come on over and invade my country - if you dare - but do not ever call me one who supported vaporizing innocent men, women and children. Nuclear detonation is, unequivocally, the most extreme form of terrorism ever devised.

At 9:24 AM , Blogger Rick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:56 AM , Anonymous Goudarz said...

Dear Omid;
Could you please contact me ASAP via e-mail at goudarz at yahoo dot com? I can not find your direct e-mail, and did not find it on your blog either. I like to setup a radio interview with you if possible for this Thursday May 8th. Please remove this post after you reading it. Thanks;


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