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By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

Hyped to the hilt, the VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan proved, to me at least, no more substantive than the average political stage show, full of so-called "facts" based on cavalier assumptions, primarily on Mr. Ryan's part.

My primary interest in watching the debate, as was the case in the presidential debate a week ago, was with regards to foreign policy issues, primarily with respect to Iran.

I did not expect to hear anything from Paul Ryan beside uninformed exaggerations and classic scare tactics aimed at an equally uninformed or misinformed general public.

The following are excerpts from the debate regarding Iran, with emphasis by me:

Moderator, Raddatz: Let’s move to Iran. ...there’s really no bigger national security...

Ryan: Absolutely.

Raddatz: ... this country is facing.

Ryan: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability........ They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability........They’re stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Biden: These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Period. What are you - you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?.............Israelis and the United States, our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close - how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.....There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know - we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon............So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about? We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon....

Ryan: Let’s look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. They’re spinning the centrifuges faster.

Raddatz: You both saw Benjamin Netanyahu hold up that picture of a bomb with a red line and talking about the red line being in spring. So can you solve this, if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, can you solve this in two months before spring and avoid nuclear - nuclear...

Ryan: We can debate the time line, whether there’s - it’s that short a time or longer. I agree that it’s probably longer.

Biden: The ayatollah sees his economy being crippled. The ayatollah sees that there are 50 percent fewer exports of oil. He sees the currency going into the tank. He sees the economy going into freefall. And he sees the world for the first time totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon.......What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into.........................I don’t know what world this guy’s [Ryan] living in.

Ryan: They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapon. I think that case speaks for itself.

Biden: ... they are not four years closer to a nuclear weapon.

Ryan: Of course they are.

Biden: They’re - they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon. ........ But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.

Raddatz: What about Bob Gates’ statement? Let me read that again, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”

Biden: He is right. It could prove catastrophic, if we didn’t do it with precision.

Ryan: And what it does is it undermines our credibility by backing up the point when we make it that all options are on the table. That’s the point. The ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, “I’m going to get a nuclear weapon.”

Raddatz: Well, let me ask you what’s worse, war in the Middle East, another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran?

Ryan: A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism. They’ve dedicated wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan. And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.

Biden: War should always be the absolute last resort. That’s why these crippling sanctions, which Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue, which - if I’m not mistaken - Governor Romney says we - we should continue. I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often, I could be wrong.


The hardest part for me to maintain my focus on the TV screen was the very thought, however unlikely-I hope, of the adolescent-looking, caricature of a used-car salesman, Paul Ryan, having the potential of becoming, heaven forbid, the President of the most powerful empire on earth. In my book, he is either innocently clueless in world affairs, like his constituency that had elected him to Congress, or he is, like Mitt Romney, an overambitious political zealot who won't shy away from lies and other deceptive tactics to succeed. Do you ever wonder why all price tags on merchandise, from toothpicks to gasoline end with .95 or .99 after the dollar amounts? It's good business; fool the public into buying your goods! A good "businessman" knows all the tricks of the trade, and Mr. Romney prides himself of being a good businessman! Well, doesn’t he?

There is an advertiser that is marketing facsimiles of an old gold coin that was originally minted in pure gold and now a collectors' item worth a lot of money. After going to some detail about the rising price of gold and its current market value, the charlatan is boasting that the facsimile is clad in 17 milligrams of 99.9999 percent pure gold, repeating, 99.9999 percent pure gold. And to make it more desirable as a hard to get item, only a limited number of these coins can be sold to each household, at something like $5 a piece.

They count on the ignorance of the bovine public that cannot understand the meaning of 17 milligrams of 99.9999% pure gold at over $1,750 per ounce. Well, each milligram is worth less than 6 pennies today. So, the nickel-size electroplated coins that cost the manufacturer roughly a dollar each is being offered to the hapless buyer at five times its cost of production! This item of very little value even comes with a certificate of authenticity that it is a thinly god-plated fake! Of course the cost of media advertising and promoting this production must be horrendous, but quite obviously worth the profits - the bottom line.

Just look at the parallels between this perfectly legal scheme of public deception and politicians' games in debating vital issues affecting the destiny of the nation.

Truths are cunningly hidden in between layers of misleading and deceptive phrases to confuse the audiences. Half truths, exaggerations and straight out lies parade dressed in colorfully deceptive words to convince the unwary. Allegations and hypotheticals are stated as undisputable facts, counting on the blindfolded and pre-indoctrinated public sentiments to accept them as truths.

The political salesmen, of whom Mr. Romney and his young sidekick, Paul Ryan, are excellent examples, are counting on the long-running demonized image of the Islamic Republic of Iran to sell their tough, very superficially patriotic, and quite amateurish rhetoric on how to stop Iran's nuclear "ambitions."

Even Martha Raddatz, the moderator of the vice presidential debates, opened the discussion on Iran by commenting that Iran posed the greatest national security for the United States, with a straight face and as an indisputable fact. Now, she is a senior foreign policy specialist, no less! Yet, she didn't say, for example, that Iran is allegedly regarded these days as the greatest foreign policy challenge for the United States; a statement that is both correct and journalistically sound. Why didn't she?

I think the answer is easy: Having phrased her statement correctly would have disqualified her from ever appearing again on any talk show as a venerable expert. Her articles would no longer appear in print and her books could only be self-published, as are mine!

My conclusions: 

Something was very surprisingly absent from the post presidential and vice presidential debates' media commentaries regarding Iran's nuclear issues. What has more than likely deliberately been omitted is the staggeringly significant difference between the two phrases, acquiring nuclear weapons, and  nuclear weapons capability.

The Israeli government, its lobby and its surrogates in the United States congress have insisted on drawing the red line for initiating a military attack on Iran (by the United States, of course) at the point where Iran gains the capability of acquiring a nuclear weapon. Capability could mean anything, from the scientific knowhow to the availability of the needed raw materials, to having procured sufficient bomb grade enriched materials, to having the desire to put all that to use in order to create a workable bomb, and last but not least, to having the permission or orders by the regime to make such a weapon. It could also mean having the resources or money to purchase a bomb from North Korea or Pakistan, again with proper orders from the leadership.

It is, therefore, a meaningless, ambiguous and arbitrary "red line" that is very dangerously susceptible to interpretation by opportunistic zealots and diehard Zionist neocons, threatening to oblige the United States to enter into yet another bottomless and disastrous quagmire.

Why do I say threatening to oblige...? I’ll get to that point further down.

During the presidential and the vice presidential debates, both Romney and Ryan used the phrase, capability to obtain nuclear weapons, while both Obama and Biden insisted that they would not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, without using the word, capability. The media pundits continue to interpret both statements to mean that, with regard to Iran’s nuclear issue, both the Republican and Democrat candidates are on the same page. They couldn’t be more wrong.

If the ability of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon were a real concern, that capability has been there for some time; no need to wait for that ambiguous red line to be crossed!

Another point of ambiguity in Romney/Ryan formula is, again, the meaningless and plain-stupid remark that Iran is now four years closer to making the bomb than it was four years ago! Well, when we do not know the timeline of bomb-making capability, whether it might be 5, 15, or 50 years away, of what mathematical or practical value is such an asinine statement? Yes, if you walk ten paces, you are that much closer to reaching some destination. It could be your next-door neighbor’s house in Los Angeles, it could be New York City, or it could be the moon, for Christ’s sake!

That is exactly why the Obama administration, advised by the top military brass and all our intelligence services, has refused to accept such a red line, even though the Congress has approved the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, drafted by our Zionist neocons, stipulating such action.

Now to why I chose the phrase, threatening to oblige the United States to enter into yet another bottomless and disastrous quagmire.

I have, and shall continue to, regard the Israeli regime as the world’s chief perpetrator and supporter of terrorism and the biggest threat to international peace and security. I have called its relationship with the United States a parasitic symbiosis, like a tumor that has metastasized throughout the host’s vital organs, from financial institutions to the mass media and entertainment industries and to the body politics, that any attempts to remove it might well jeopardize the host’s own life. Extricating this “passionate” attachment might take time, patience and great patriotic deliberation for the sake of America’s own national interests.

All that said, I neither blame the Israeli leaders for doing whatever they could for the sake of their own nation’s “perceived” interests, regardless of what others have had to suffer for their benefit, nor do I believe they are a bunch of delusional morons who don’t know what they’re doing.

I, therefore, do not believe that Israel would benefit in any conceivable way by attacking Iran or causing the United States to strike at Iran militarily. If there were benefits for Israel in launching a preemptive assault on Iranian targets, they would have done so long before this, with or without American approval or support.

However, threatening to attack Iran, something that would definitely drag the United States into the ensuing chaos, accomplishes Israel’s real objectives so well that would alleviate a dangerous encounter in an actual war.

In America, it is the public that has to be convinced in order for the nation’s legislating body to function, to allow, in turn, the executive branch to carry out its obligations. And the public is duly convinced, and has been for quite some time, of the image of Israel as some friend and indispensable ally of the United States, surrounded by ruthless barbaric enemies who also hate America as they hate the noble, civilized Jewish people, and that America is not only honor bound to support and shelter it, but should do so for America’s own national security and self-interests against that common evil.  

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:

This way, to avoid being dragged into an unwanted new war in the savage Middle East, a war potentially many times bigger than that in Iraq and Afghanistan, It serves America’s interests best to give Israel all that it truly demands; money, arms, advantageous treaties, diplomatic shelter and political support against global condemnations and pressures to accommodate the Palestinians, and not allow any peace negotiations, however superficial, to prevent the expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands in defiance of the International Law, etc., etc.

Israel has the American public in its back and the US Congress in its pocket, with the White House held under the Damocles’ Sword! They insist on keeping it that way!

Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:

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