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Cheney on the Warpath Again?

Branigin wrote: "In an October 2005 speech to a conference on a 'World without Zionism,' Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted by a state-run Iranian news agency as agreeing with a statement by Iran's late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that 'Israel must be wiped off the map.' Iran's foreign minister later said the comment had been incorrectly translated from Farsi and that Ahmadinejad was 'talking about the [Israeli] regime,' which Iran does not recognize and wants to see collapse.

"According to Farsi-speaking commentators including Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, Ahmadinejad's exact quote was, 'The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.' Cole has written that Ahmadinejad was not calling for the 'Nazi-style extermination of a people,' but was expressing the wish that the Israeli government would disappear just as the shah of Iran's regime had collapsed in 1979."

Whither U.S. Policy?

Warren P. Strobel writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Bush administration has been divided over Iran policy almost since the day the president took office and, according to a variety of officials, it remains so today.

"One faction, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and including a sprinkling of officials at the Pentagon, State Department and elsewhere, has argued that before Bush leaves office in January, the administration should use military force to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and punish Iran for supporting international terrorism and thwarting U.S. aims in Iraq. . . .

"A second faction, led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and much of the uniformed military and the intelligence community, opposes military strikes in favor of continued sanctions, diplomatic pressure and talks with Iran under certain conditions.

"This faction appears, for now, to retain the upper hand."

Well, maybe.

AFP's Olivier Knox notes that Bush overtly threatened Iran yesterday in his speech about Iraq.

Knox writes: "Bush on Thursday lumped Iran with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group as 'two of the greatest threats to America in this new century.' . . .

Bush "coupled the rhetorical blast with a clear warning that he would not hesitate to use force if the Islamic republic targets US interests in its strife-torn neighbor. . . .

"Iran 'has a choice to make. It can live in peace with its neighbor, enjoy strong economic and cultural and religious ties. Or it can continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups, which are terrorizing the Iraqi people and turning them against Iran,' he said.

"'If Iran makes the right choice, America will encourage a peaceful relationship between Iran and Iraq. Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests, and our troops, and our Iraqi partners,' he said."


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