THE BLOG
08/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Must Take Stand Against Attack on Iran

As the Obama Campaign reminded us ad nauseam during the Democratic Primaries, Senator Obama was different than the other major Democratic candidates in that he bravely did what the others were too cowardly to do in 2002 - speak out against Bush's designs on a predictably destructive and protracted war in Iraq.

Obama then went further, promising during the primaries to not only end the war in Iraq, but to end the very mindset which leads us into such wars. When Senator Clinton talked about "annihilating" Iran during the primaries, Senator Obama correctly criticized her for such incendiary rhertoric. And, as for the Bush Administration's attempt to villify Iran and other ostensible adversaries, Senator Obama had the courage to state the obvious -- "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela? These countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose any serious threat to us."

Senator Obama was able to secure the Democratic nomination largely because those voting in the primaries, including myself, were led to believe by the above that he was the peace candidate. It is that candidate we need now to lead this country against an attack upon Iran. In short, Obama must be the brave anti-war voice he was back in 2002.

Instead, what we have right now is a candidate in Obama who refuses to lead on this critical issue of war and peace. Thus, Senator Obama publicly told Iran that it should abide by the Bush Administration's arbitrary deadline (which has just run out) to agree to suspend its nuclear enrichment program or suffer unspecified sanctions, possibly even a military assault. Senator Obama himself now says that no option, including a military one, should be off the table. Then, when interviewed in the Jerusalem Post about whether he would support an Israeli strike against Iran, he stated simply "that Israelis, and Israelis alone have to make decisions about their own security."

Moreover, in a complete turnabout from his statement during the primaries that Iran is no threat to the U.S. or the world, Senator Obama pronounced during his trip to the Middle East that a nuclear Iran would pose a "grave threat" and that preventing a nuclear Iran is one of the top priorities of the world today. Through such pronouncements, Obama has given encouragement to those in the U.S. and Israel who are considering a military strike as we speak. Yet, the truth is, as Obama acknowledged in his earlier statements during the primaries, that that the premise of his now alarmist rhetoric is simply false.

First, the fact that Israel has 150 nuclear weapons, though it refuses to admit as much, means that Iran, which currently has no nuclear weapons and is years away from being able to make any, does not pose a real military threat to Israel or the region, for any strike by Iran would mean certain annihilation for that country. In addition, we have the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which concluded that Iran, as it is now claiming, abandoned its nuclear weapons program back in 2003.

It must also be noted, lest we forget, that Iran had actually offered back in 2003 to engage in constructive discussions with the U.S. over "its disputed nuclear program, support for militant groups that the United States labels terrorists and the acceptance of Israel," and it offered "active Iranian support for Iraqi stabilization." This overture, as we all know, was ignored by the U.S. State Department. In addition, it is worth recalling that, back in October of 2001, Iran actually provided critical assistance to the U.S.'s military efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan - an effort which Senator Obama has made clear he supports.

In short, Iran is not the threat which Bush, McCain, and yes, even Obama through his rhetoric, are leading us to believe. Indeed, all of the histrionics over Iran are eerily reminiscent of those which led us into the war against Iraq. However, Senator Obama, in a reversal of his brave stance back in 2002 against the Iraq war - a stance which he trumpeted as one of the prime reasons to vote for him for the Democratic nomination - is now enabling another ill-conceived and possibly much more destructive, war to go forward.

Those who have supported Senator Obama must hold him accountable, as he explicitly called upon us to do, for turning away from the anti-war principles upon which he based his primary campaign. We must call upon him to live up to these principles by taking a strong and unequiovcal stance against any millitary strike upon Iran by either the U.S. or Israel. And, we must do so now, for we are running out of time.