Is Lindsey Graham the Weakest Politician in the United States?

Apparently with the blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is taking huge and significant steps toward a thawing of relations with the West while also moving to lessen the grip of hard line positions within Iran.

Rouhani and US President Barack Obama have been exchanging letters that seem to have paved the way for further discussions and improved negotiations on the issue of Iranian nuclear technology. Iran released a number of political prisoners on Wednesday. Iran also appears headed toward another round of P5+1 talks, with the date to be arranged while diplomats are in New York next week for Rouhani to address the UN. The diplomatic push reached a high point on Wednesday when Rouhani sat down in Tehran for an interview with NBC’s Ann Curry:

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DefgX2xPJR4′]

The entire interview in this clip is compelling, but I want to emphasize one bit that occurs near the end once the discussion moved to Syria. From the NBC blog post where the interview video is posted:

Asked whether he thought Obama looked weak when he backed off the air-strike threat, Rouhani replied, “We consider war a weakness.  Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness.  And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”

What a different viewpoint than we see inside the DC beltway. Throughout the entire Syria episode, we have been bombarded with the refrain that Obama simply had to attack Syria because if he didn’t, he would lose his credibility and look weak. Rouhani, on the other hand, states that it is resorting to war that is the real weakness.

If going to war is the real weakness, then it appears that Lindsey Graham may want to be the weakest politician in the US:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday he’s working on legislation that would give the president the green light to attack Iran if negotiations over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program stall.

Graham is clearly approaching the issue from a very different side than Rouhani.

Who’s weak now, Lindsey?

Rouhani and Khamenei are taking steps to tell the “weaker” elements on their side to STFU:

On Monday, the new president said the Revolutionary Guards — who report to Khamenei and have been accused of backing hard-liners — should stay out of politics. The next day, Khamenei was quoted on state TV as saying, “It is not necessary for the Guards to have activities in the political field.”

If only Lindsey would show a little bit of strength and bite his tongue while diplomacy has its best chance in years.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
12 replies
  1. Jay says:

    Could be rope-a-dope, good cop/bad cop, Nixonian “irrational president” theory to get intransigent states to the negotiating table.

  2. Jim White says:

    @Jay: Yeah, could be. But Bush fucked that approach up for us for a long time by letting the irrational part move from threat to action before action was warranted on a rational basis. That’s why I think Lindsey needs to tone it down a lot right now.

  3. Casual Observer says:

    This is what US “smartpower” policy is, stripped of its BS veneer. Thinly veiled aggression. We should change our national motto from ‘e pluribus unum’ to “and we’re fucking crazy enough to do it, too.” If we’re actually smart enough to do now what could have been done with Iran for any number of past years, the lesson taken away by DC will be that force–and open threat of force–works.

  4. orionATL says:

    graham is facing a serious re-election challenge in perhaps the most inane hard-right state in the u.s., with loads of retired mid-level military-religious freaks.

    like most congressional politicians of either party, he will make any sacrifice of others or of his nation in order to retain his power.

  5. C says:

    @Katy: For a while it seemed like a race between the two of them to see who coult be more out of touch. Useless hawkishness aside McCain still pulls out ahead for me thanks to his idiocy in Pravda.

  6. bell says:

    war and talk of war 24/7 seems to be the only thing most american politicians know how to focus on.. with so many other pressing concerns in their own backyard, i guess it is more enjoyable to think about bombing faraway places..

  7. TarheelDem says:

    A lot of former Lindsey Graham voters in South Carolina did not like his position on going to war in Syria. He has Tea Party opposition and a long-shot Democratic opponent. Yes, next to Mitch McConnell, he is likely the weakest politician in the Senate right now.

    Watch for some interesting straddling by Graham going forward.

    If, as is possible, the OPCW certifies by the first of the year that all of Syria’s mixing and production capabilities of chemical weapons are destroyed and all of the chemical stocks are secure and out of country and under Nunn-Lugar processes for destruction, Lindsey Graham and his foreign policy “expertise” will be exposed as the sham hatred they are.

  8. Bill Michtom says:

    What’s impressive to me is the arrogant, chauvinist attitude of the NBC “journalist”: facing a straightforward, clear commitment to peace, she comes up with questions based on purposely NOT understanding what Rouhani said. It would be so refreshing (and stunningly surprising) to hear any of these USG puppets not be tools.

  9. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    @TarheelDem: Graham, like McCain, has passed his pull date and is still wailing like its the Reagan era.

    I simply can’t stand to watch these guys trying to remain relevant anymore.

    This is just one more reason the Senate filibuster needs to be dispensed with: guys like McCain and Graham, lacking the ability to display genuine leadership or vision, are now largely reduced to extortionate filibuster threats — when they’re not bellowing about nations where they don’t even know the language, let alone the history or culture.

    They’re sucking up wayyyy too much oxygen in the public discourse.
    No wonder so many Americans detest politics.

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