Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Iran Answers Israel

Looks like Iran engaged in a little saber rattling of its own today...

From the WaPo:

Iran Test-Fires Long-Range Missile

Iran said today it had test-fired a long-range missile capable of reaching Israel and U.S. troops in the region, a step promptly condemned by the Bush administration as heightening tensions over the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

The roughly 1,200 mile range of Iran's Shahab-3 rocket has been known for several years, but the test firing -- and pointed statements from Tehran about the country's "capability in hitting its enemies" -- added to a tense climate.


The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the missile was test-fired as part of a larger military exercise by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. In Tehran, the Associated Press said that as many as nine missiles of different sizes were fired during the exercise, carried out partly near the Persian Gulf shipping lanes that Iran has threatened to close if it is attacked.

A top Iranian official said this week the country would also retaliate against Tel Aviv if any targets inside the country are struck.

"Our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch," Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami said today, according to the wire service.

The missile tests and statements from Iranian officials are part of a recent sharp back-and-forth between Iran, Israel and the United States that have formed the backdrop to ongoing negotiations about Iran's nuclear program.

This is most definitely a response to the recent Israeli war games and was meant to send a message to Israel. Considering that Iran supposedly has stealth capable missiles I'm certain that its meaning was crystal clear. It's also a pretty good indicator of how well our current tactics in dealing with Iran are working. Those aren't going to change anytime soon so lets see what our presidential hopefuls had to say about this incident....

Senator John McCain issued the following statement:

“Iran’s most recent missile tests demonstrate again the dangers it poses to its neighbors and to the wider region, especially Israel. Ballistic missile testing coupled with Iran’s continued refusal to cease its nuclear activities should unite the international community in efforts to counter Iran’s dangerous ambitions.

Iran’s missile tests also demonstrate the need for effective missile defense now and in the future, and this includes missile defense in Europe as is planned with the Czech Republic and Poland. Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy.”

And Senator Barack Obama, speaking on NBC’s “Today” show urged “aggressive diplomacy” when it comes to Iran:

“There’s no doubt we’re seeing rising tensions in the area, and it’s part of the reason why it’s so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communication so that we avoid provocation but we give strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior. We’ve got to have the kind of aggressive diplomacy that unfortunately has been absent over the last several years.”

This is one area in which I agree with Obama however I'm not certain that he'd use some of the stronger diplomatic tools at his command were he to become president (example: blockading Iran's ports should concrete proof of Iran's nuclear weapon program become available and they fail to abandon pursuing nukes afterwards.)

McCain's insistence on continuing the current administrations policy towards Iran is more troubling. After all isn't performing the same actions repeatedly and expecting different results one of the definitions of insanity? Additionally McCain's "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" and his more recent kill Iranians comment don't score him any points with me at all.

There is a middle ground between the two stated positions and what I want is for one of the candidates to channel Teddy Roosevelt and be willing to go there. Is that too much to ask?