Home Contact Us
Search :

Nuclear - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2736, 19 November 2008
Obama-mania: Iran is Not Invited
Siddharth Ramana
MA Student, Inter-Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel
e-mail: siddharth13@gmail.com

Republican President George W Bush hands over the reigns of the US administration to Democratic President-elect Barack Obama in January 2009. The electoral victory of Obama has been heralded on his campaign tagline of "time for change." Obama has in his campaign speeches spoken about a number of changes in American foreign policy and key among them would be dealing with a nuclear Iran.

President Bush initiated salvos against Iran by condemning its state sponsorship of terror and branded it in 2002 along with the Saddam Hussein-led Iraq and North Korea, as member of an axis of evil. As part of the Bush doctrine, Iraq was invaded and in the aftermath there were growing signals of Iran being the next target. The Iranian nuclear programme, which is repeatedly censured by the United Nations Security Council was used as a primary whip against the state, and the derogatory rhetoric against Israel by Iranian President Ahmadenijad further boosted arguments for a pre-emptive US strike.

Taking the threat of Iran to a higher level, the Bush Administration accused the state of regional hegemony by supporting sub-state actors such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and funding insurgency in Iraq. Despite a National Intelligence Estimate conclusion in December that Iran had stopped its weapons program in 2003, Bush continued to press for action against Iran, with a misleading statement in an interview to Radio Farda, "They've declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people - some in the Middle East. And that's unacceptable to the United States, and it's unacceptable to the world" (The Washington Post, 21 March 2008).

However, despite arguing for stronger measures on Iran, the President has himself opposed Israel from conducting a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities (The Guardian, 25 September 2008). Bush has tried to distance himself from his perceived hawkish image, when during his farewell tour in Europe he pointed out to a coalition of nations negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program. "I leave behind a multilateral framework to work this issue," Bush said. "You know, one country can't solve all problems. I fully agree with that. A group of countries can send a clear message to the Iranians."

Effectively Bush's statement indicates that rumors of an assault on Iran during the last days of the Bush administration would not be bearing fruit. The mantle of handling Iran has been handed over to Obama, who has made clear that he disfavours military action against Iran. Outlining a position of engaging with Iran's leaders, he offers economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek "regime change," if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues.

Obama compared the Iranian threat to the Soviet threat and argued that the Americans had negotiated with it and therefore, could do the same with Iran (CNN, 19 May 2008). Obama's victory therefore, has been celebrated with much fanfare in Tehran, with President Ahmadenijad even writing a congratulatory letter to him. Iran's Majlis (Parliament) First Vice-Speaker, Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard expressed Iranian sentiments, describing the victory as a failure of Bush's policies (Xinhua, 6 November 2008).

Obama's peacenik stance would find takers in the Pentagon. According to a British intelligence source, opposition to a military strike on Iran was so high that a number of generals were prepared to resign their posts in protest. It is this reason which is attributed to Defense Secretary, Robert Gates' opposition to a military strike (Sunday Times, 25 February 2007). Even Obama's running mate Senator Joseph Biden is perceived to be sympathetic to Iran. According to a paper published by Michael Rubin, a lecturer at the US Naval Postgraduate School, Biden's attitude to Iran for the past decade is considered soft and conciliatory (Haaretz, 31 August 2008).

Although Obama favours diplomacy, he has not ruled out the option of militarily dealing with Iran. In August 2008, he reiterated that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a "game-changer for the region," and argued for American action "before Israel feels like its back is to the wall" (Jerusalem Post, 25 August 2008). Even Biden responding to the allegations of being soft on Iran has cited his pro-Israeli credentials and argued that a nuclear Iran is not acceptable (Jerusalem Post, 1 September 2008).

Obama's first staff appointment post election is seen to be a message to Iran. By nominating Rahm Emmanuel to be the chief of staff, the President-elect also calmed ruffled nerves in the pro-Israeli lobby in America, who have consistently argued for a hawkish stance on Iran. The appointment's significance was elucidated by Emmanuel's father who said "Of course he will influence the president to be pro-Israeli" (The Australian, 10 November 2008).

The new administration also faces opposition from European allies in its quest for an unconditional dialogue with Iran. Sidelining Security Council resolutions against Iran would be another example of American unreliability in the eyes its European allies (The Washington Post, 22 June 2008). It is therefore not surprising that Obama chose to downplay the letter from Tehran and reiterated the American position against Iranian activities in the region.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis
Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the ďEliminate or ExtraditeĒ Approach
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistanís Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Stronger Democratic Values for a Better Tomorrow
Sri Lanka and China: Towards Innovation Driven Economies
India-Sri Lanka: Strengthening Regional Cooperation
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
India-Pakistan: Working Boundaries and Lines of Uncontrolled Fire
Of Inquilab and the Inquilabis
Pakistan: Of Messiahs and Marches
Dateline Kabul
Mariam Safi
Can Afghanistan Become a "Perfect Place?"
Afghanistan: Political Crises After the Presidential Run-off
Talibanís Spring Offensive: Are the ANSF Prepared?
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Diplomatic Manoeuvres at the UNGA
Abeís Successful Visit to Dhaka: Two Political Challenges
Girl Summit Diplomacy and Bangladesh-UK Relations

Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticismís Sake?
Changing Global Balance of Power: Obamaís Response
Obama Administration: Re-engaging India
East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India in East Asia: Modiís Three Summit Meets
Modi's Visit to Japan: Gauging Inter-State Relations in Asia
North Korea: Seeking New Friends?

Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
China in Nepal: Increasing Connectivity Via Railways
India-Nepal Hydroelectricity Deal: Making it Count
Federalism and Nepal: Internal Differences
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
The ASEAN's Centrality in the Indo-Pacific Region
Myanmar's Political Transition: Challenges of the 2015 Election
South China Sea: Intransigence Over Troubled Waters

Sushant Sareen
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir
Pakistan: Why is Army against Nawaz Sharif?
Pakistan: Degraded Democracy
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point
Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?
BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

Middle Kingdom
DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Musings on the Bomb

Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Naxalites and the Might of a Fragile Revolution
Six Thousand Plus Killed: The Naxal Ideology of Violence
Anti-Naxal Operations: Seeking Refuge in Symbolism
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security
Obamaís New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India
Modiís Tryst with Abe

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
War against the Islamic State: Political and Military Responses from the Region
The Islamic State: No Country for the Old World Order
India and the Conflict in Gaza
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile
Uranium and Nuclear Power: Three Indian Stories
A Strategic Review for India

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Estrangement: An Odd Bedfellow to Economic Engagement
The Islamic State Caliphate: A Mirage of Resurrection
A Covenant Sans Sword
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Modiís US Visit: So Much Promise, Such Little Outcome
India and Australia: Beyond Curry, Cricket, and Commonwealth
And Then There is the Middle East: The Lack of an End-Game

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
Regional Economic Architecture: Is India Ready?

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Nuclear Security Summit 2012: The Challenges Ahead

Debate: Is a Nuclear Iran good for India?

On Indo-African Nuclear Trade Facilitation

Does Myanmar have Nuclear Ambitions?

After Osama - IV: What are the Global Implications?

Revisiting the CTBT: the US' Conundrum

Sino-Pak Nuclear Engagement-IV: What Can India Do?

WikiWrecks: An Analysis of Terrorism Financing

Sarkozyís India Visit: The Nuclear Dimension

The Role of Human Intelligence in Counter-Terrorism

Iranís Role in the Taliban Negotiations: Q&A

Af-Pak: Iranís Endgame

Iran-Turkey-Brazil Nuclear Agreement

Attacks in Lahore: Buildup to secession?

Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East: Utopia or Reality?

The Iranian Nuclear Conference

Nuclear Security Review: A Must for India

Airline Terror Plots: Lessons for India

China and Pakistan: Relationship in a Bottle

Need for an Indian Response in Somali Waters

Nuclear Iran: Anathema for India

Pakistan: External Mis-dealings

Unending Drama in Pakistan

Q&A: Attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul

Q&A: Pakistan's Nuclear Bogeyman

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com