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Local Experts Respond To Obama’s Iran, Syria Conference

Evening Edition

Above: Michael Provence, associate professor of Middle Eastern history at UC San Diego, specializes in Syria. He spoke with "Evening Edition" about President Obama's news conference today.

Aired 3/6/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests

Retired Marine General Joseph P Hoar, General Hoar, he was one of eight retired military officials to sign an open letter to the White House urging against military action in Iran.

Michael Provence, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History at UC San Diego, he specializes in Syria

Transcript

Full-page Washington Post ad urging President Obama to resist the pressure for a war of choice with Iran.
Enlarge this image

Above: Full-page Washington Post ad urging President Obama to resist the pressure for a war of choice with Iran.

During his first news conference of the year, President Obama today defended his choice not to use military intervention in Iran and Syria. This sits well with former Marine General Joseph Hoar of Del Mar, one of eight retired military officers to address an open letter to the White House urging against military action in Iran.

Hoar said on KPBS Midday Edition he opposes war with Iran in part because of changing attitudes toward the military.

"Since we’ve ended conscription in this country, very, very few people have any personal interest in going to war," he said. "Only about a million people serve in the military, only 5 percent of the American population know anybody in the military. It’s very unlike the Vietnam War when everybody between the age of 18 and 25 was a potential conscript to go to war in Vietnam. This now has become someone else’s responsibility for the vast majority of American people."

Hoar also said the war in Iraq was unnecessary, and said going to war in Iran would be very expensive, raise gas prices and cause disruption around the world.

On KPBS Television's "Evening Edition," Yasser Al Saied, the head of the Syrian-American Council in San Diego, said Syrians want American troops to create a safe zone in Syria.

"We want to have more structural support to the Free Syria Army, the army that's deflectors of the Syria army," he said. "That's supported not by means of giving arms. It's just to allow them to seek help by the surrounding countries."

He said they want the U.S. to influence other countries around Syria to remove blockades and allow help to go through.

Michael Provence, an associate professor of Middle Eastern History at UC San Diego, specializes in Syria. He told "Evening Edition" national security was supposed to be a weakness of the Obama administration, but it has turned out not to be.

He added there's no reason or strategy for intervention in Syria.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 6, 2012 at 12:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

The rhetoric on Iran is far too lopsided.

Pundits are always touting what would war mean, should we strike, should Israel strike, etc., but this needs to be looked at in a balanced manner that analyzes the consequences of war vs. the consequences of a nuke-capable Iran.

It's my opinion that war could actually be more detrimental than managing this through diplomacy.

According to Israel itself, air strikes agains Iran would not even prevent them from getting nuclear weapons, it would only delay this for 2-3 years based on what I have read.

Do we really have the political will, money, and stomach for more lost lives to simply delay something for a few years? Think not.

I hate nuclear weapons.

I think any country proliferating nuclear weapons is a hazard to humanity.

But we live in a global environment where nukes = power, and it is my perception that Iran, like North Korea, is attempting to become nuclear so they have a seat at the global power-players table, **not** because they want to nuke Israel.

Even crazies like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei know a nuke attack on the state of Israel would materialize in their immediate annihilation.

I think the largest danger in nukes to our planet and humanity is if these weapons should get in the hands of someone truly pyschopathic and suicidal that they are willing to destroy themselves and the planet by unleashing them onto the U.S., India, Israel, etc.

While extremist and repressively vile, Iran's leaders are not self destructive in a psychotic matter.

And quite frankly, countries that already have nukes, like Pakistan, pose as much or more of a threat of nukes falling into the hands of a truly self-destructive madman as an Iranian weapon would.

My point is not to ramble, but to illustrate that a nuclear Iran, while not ideal by any measure, still may not be worth the turmoil that would likely ensue if we and/or Israel were to attack.

We didn't attack N. Korea, why? Was the late Kim Jung Il or his puffy son Kim Jung Un deemed somehow more stable than Mr. Ahmadinejad? Or is all this war march to Iran simply the makings of yet another Blood for Oil war?

And my final ramble, the current Republican buffoons running for President:

Willard
MoonMan
Unsanitaryum

All three of this comedic trio are just a little too hot and heavy on the war march, salivating over the thought of yet another War in the Middle East / South Asia sphere.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 6, 2012 at 12:56 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

And for those who say sanctions don't work, let's not forget Iraq.

We had sanctions for years, and after we unnecessarily invaded what did we find - the weapons of mass destruction programs had been cut, not stockpiles existed.

Israel needs to give time for the sanctions and diplomacy to work before attacking.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | March 6, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

"Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth!" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The Unites States is the INFIDEL (as in devil)!)" Religious fanatics who support the current Iranian regime.

Who could blame Israel for considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear efforts. Has anyone thought how different our world would be if Israel had not bombed Iraq's nuclear program in 1981? The Persian Gulf War would probably never have occurred because Saddam Husseing would have nuclear weapons to keep us at bay. He'd still be alive and in power, too!

You don't have to like Israel's strategy of bombing Iran, but to think diplomacy will keep them from obtaining a nuclear weapon is idiocy.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 6, 2012 at 7:13 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

David65, if you read my post you would see I never suggested diplomacy can prevent Iran from getting nukes.

What I was questioning is whether a war to try and suspend their program would outweigh having thm develope a managed program geared towards nuclear power and

The knowledge technology is already there, blowing up their nukes will only delay their development assuming strikes are successful, and striking them could actually make a future attack on Israel more likely, not less.

I also find it naive that you suggest war should be waged on words.

Many petty dictators spew rhetoric like Ahmadinejad, if we were to wage war on all of them we would be in perpetual world war.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 7, 2012 at 12:29 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

David 65: "Who could blame Israel for considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear efforts. Has anyone thought how different our world would be if Israel had not bombed Iraq's nuclear program in 1981? The Persian Gulf War would probably never have occurred because Saddam Husseing would have nuclear weapons to keep us at bay. He'd still be alive and in power, too!"

Huh? Wasn't that part of the pretext back in 1990-91?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 7, 2012 at 12:34 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

The Obama Administration has been inconsistent in foreign policy, flip-flopping on the Honduran coup; intervening in Libya (an oil producer) while not intervening in Syria (a non-oil producer).

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