December 4, 2007 By Ruth Conniff

In the first 20 minutes of the NPR Democratic Debate in DeMoines, the candidates tackled Iran and the news that sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies released a report concluding that that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Mike Gravel comes out swinging: The intelligence community has "drop-kicked the President of the United States" by showing that Iran is not a nuclear threat.

Hillary and Obama are not nearly as ringing, endorsing diplomacy, and making muted criticism of Bush.

Kucinich steps it up: I "was right the first time. . . five years ago I warned there was no evidence against Iraq. . . . Just as the President convinced my colleagues to vote for war in Iraq," so he has convinced them Iran poses a threat.

Later, Kucinich points out that all three frontrunners have said "all options are on the table" with regard to Iran.

Here's the interesting news: Hillary is forced to defend her vote to label Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of mass destruction: "They support Hamas" (that's a different issue) and "it was a nonbinding resolution. . . . there was a broadly based belief that they were PURSUING nuclear weapons."

Hillary calls resolution "aggressive diplomacy."

NPR plays a clip from Hillary's cosigner, Joe Lieberman: "Iran has crossed a red line . . .. they are responsible for killing hundreds of American soldiers. . . we really have to consider military action, perhaps striking bases around Teheran."

Edwards, sounding quite a bit tougher and clearer on the issue than Obama, jumps all over Hillary: "That's diplomacy? Declaring them a terrorist organization?"

Hillary calls the criticism "outlandish" and says it's going "way too far" to criticize the resolution as giving cover to the Administration for a potential war with Iran. She cites "Positive effects of labeling them a terrorist organization" in Iran's backing down on bellicose rhetoric.

MIke Gravel, the most interesting and least diplomatic debate participant, comes out and defends Hamas and Hezbollah as "two elected organizations." Why shouldn't Iran give them aid? "We give unlimited aid to Israel.. . . they [Hamas and Hezbollah] are fighting for their rights."

Edwards points out, helpfully, that "we have a clear division here. Among the Democratic candidates there's only one who voted for this resolution [Hillary], and it's exactly what Dick Cheney wanted."

Hillary does a good job of re-blurring the lines: "We're all against a rush to war" and "I've been advocating diplomacy for two years."

Biden shoots back: "Terminology matters. I'm not advocating not having a rush to war. I'm advocating no war." No rush to war, he points out, means war is a possibility.

That's crucial, because Hillary has managed, somehow, to take both sides on this issue.

Interesting question to Edwards: Does US support for Israel makes it impossible for US to be an honest broker in the MIddle East:

He ignores it.

So do the other candidates, including Kucinich (we already know where Gravel stands). Too bad the moderators let them off the hook. But this is a better, more detailed examination of all topics than we've heard elsewhere. Check out the archived transcript at NPR.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project