Law and Disorder Radio – Phyllis Bennis on Iran, Sanctions and Syria – 3-Year Evaluation of the Obama Administration – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Iran, Sanctions and Syria

Israel and the United States continue to assert that Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons. As we’ve recently reported, the mainstream media has followed lock-step with this assertion by printing false claims and half truths about Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hinged on these false assertions and baseless assumptions, sanctions are now being imposed by the EU and the United States against Iran.

Phyllis Bennis:

The escalation of rhetoric having nothing to do with reality, is boxing us into a incredibly dangerous situation, in which political leaders are boxing themselves into situations they can’t walk back from.

It’s a little bit different than the weapons of mass destruction, when you had leading neocons in those positions, in the Pentagon, in the CIA, saying there is no question, there are WMDs.

They were all lying. The difference here is that the key people in these positions are saying directly we don’t even know whether Iran has even decided in this case to build a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, they’re allowing this unquestioned ratcheting up of the rhetoric for purely political motivations.

We’re seeing the same situation in Israel.

The main factor right now is Israel. The US Congress, the US press, are responding to these false claims from Israel that Iran represents an existential threat.

The role of the Israeli lobbies is an old story.

Republicans are saying Obama is soft on Iran. In that context in an election year there’s no way that President Obama is going to be willing to walk back from this escalating rhetoric that we heard right before the Superbowl on Sunday night.

I’m always astonished when I hear it from anybody, that after the war in Iraq, after the war in Afghanistan, people somehow still have the idea that you can just go in with a few air strikes and that’ll be all it takes.

There are inspectors on the ground, they’re watching 24/7 video from inside the enrichment centers.

If Iran wanted to the divert the enriched uranium for weapons purpose, they would have to kick out the inspectors, or slash the locks that the inspectors put in; either way the world would know about it within hours.

War with Iran should be off the table.

I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think its 70/30 right now. Meanwhile, nobody’s going to think about pressuring Israel on the issue of Palestine.

There have been 5 high-profile assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Syria: On the one hand you have an incredibly repressive regime, responding to a domestic uprising with horrifying levels of force. And parts of the resistance taking up arms in response.

Syria is a strategic ally of Russia. For Russia that is the most important thing.

Guest – Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Phyllis has been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and UN issues for many years. In 2001, she helped found and remains on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. Phyllis is also the author of many books, including Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer (2009).

3-Year Evaluation of the Obama Administration

The Obama administration has expanded wars abroad from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. It’s continued and expanded detention policies for Guantanamo Bay prisoners and US citizens. Wall Street and big banks have been bailed out and the health care bill was used a bargaining chip for insurance companies. The cautious optimism that progressives and the African-American community initially had for the Obama administration is long gone. However, there were some that were never taken in or mesmerized by the possibility of hope. Our guest today, Nellie Hester Bailey, calls this administration “a browner hue of imperialism” and asks, how long can people be herded like sheep into this nightmare of compromise? We welcome her back to the show. She’s a long-time human rights activist from early organizing with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to tenants’ rights and anti-war demonstrations, to advocacy on behalf of women. Bailey has been at the forefront of social justice and social change organizing. We look back at the last three years of the Obama Administration and take a look ahead.





Nellie Hester Bailey:

  • President Barack Obama is a gatekeeper for imperialism.
  • They chose him to be their standard-bearer for this new era of redefined politics, down to this humanitarian intervention, which I think goes beyond the right-wing politics of President Bush.
  • Sidetracking OWS: This new movement, Occupy the Dream, is making it an extension of the Democratic Party. The cooptation process is in full swing.
  • One would hope that Occupy Wall Street above all would retain its independence.
  • 2008 Presidential Election: Extremely promising because it gave the appearance of the attempt of the government to face head on the entrenched and historic racism in this country.
  • A very powerful symbol of the a black family in the White House and what that would mean in the public consciousness on race here in America.
  • Once Barack Obama was elected president to the US, it did give rise to a paralysis of the movement.
  • What we saw with the advent of the Occupy movement was the stimulation of white America to fight back against the anti-working class measures coming down.
  • The Occupy movement was our own Arab Spring, if you will, by the communities coming under increasing assault.
  • There is a direct action working group within the Occupy Wall Street movement that recently announced it was laying out a six month plan of action.
  • One would hope that would be independent of the Democratic Party.
  • The conditions on the ground have began to organize people and affect their consciousness.
  • I do not believe that capitalism can be reformed.
  • We need a new political paradigm that is founded on principles of humanity, on a principle of respect for the environment, an anti-war principle, the respect of sovereign nations.
  • Radio Show: Inside Housing on WHCR 90.3 FM. Mondays 6-7PM – The Voice of Harlem.

Guest – Nellie Hester Bailey is a human rights activist who has worked in peace and justice movements for over forty years. From her early organizing with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to tenants’ rights and anti-war struggles, to advocacy on behalf of women, Bailey has been at the forefront of social justice and social change organizing. Bailey co-founded the Harlem Tenants Council (HTC) in 1994. She currently serves as Director of the tenant-led grassroots organization, based on the self-determination tradition of radical activism, that provides anti-displacement organizing for poor and working class families primarily in Central Harlem.