WH Reaction To Biden Comments On Israel Bombing Iran

Greg Sargent gets a White House reaction to Joe Biden's comments on Israel bombing Iran. and then runs well, an incorrect headline and story imo. First the WH reaction:

I asked White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor whether Biden was articulating the administration’s official position, and he emailed “The Vice President refused to engage hypotheticals, and he made clear that our policy has not changed. Our friends and allies, including Israel, know that the President believes that now is the time to explore direct diplomatic options, as with the P5+1.”

Of course this is nonsense. Biden did engage a hypothetical. The rest of the answer is contrary to what Biden said. And thus, Sargent's description of the WH response is also rather nonsensical:

The White House is not backing off Joe Biden’s apparent suggestion this weekend that the United States wouldn’t stand in the way if Israel took military action against Iran, a spokesperson tells me.

Come on Greg. The Administration absolutely backed off from Biden's irresponsible statement. It's right there in the e-mail:

Our friends and allies, including Israel, know that the President believes that now is the time to explore direct diplomatic options, as with the P5+1.

(Emphasis supplied.) The White House was cleaning up Biden's mess, yet again. So far Biden has been a disastrously bad Vice President. They need to keep him away from the cameras and reporters.

Speaking for me only

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    it's obvious (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by diogenes on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:22:10 AM EST
    Biden said what Obama couldn't.  Obama will pretend to disavow him, but in fact Biden got the point loud and clear to the Iranian leaders, which is what Obama wanted.

    IF that is so (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:26:10 AM EST
    then Obama is an idiot.

    I do not think he is. I am pretty confident that Biden is a dim bulb.


    Is that how you defended Bush and Cheney? (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 08:41:24 AM EST
    I can't imagine this being (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:52:16 PM EST
    Obama's hidden agenda.  An Iranian majority would really like to defundamentalize and Obama drew a line in the sand about Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.  I can't get this to fit as his secret agenda.  It was the Bush Administration secret agenda but they were also fine with a one nation solution if it was Our God's will.

    Yep (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:23:26 AM EST
    Another "trial balloon", if you will

    This is how I read ... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:10:29 PM EST
    the whole thing yesterday.  

    Biden and gaffes (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:53:30 PM EST
    Biden is known for his big mouth so who better to send out with trial balloons, secret messages, and messages you don't want to be on record with.

    If there's a kerfluffle the WH can disavow, or say 'there he goes again' and it won't be taken seriously.

    Not a gaffe-like presentation -- he said it more (5.00 / 0) (#39)
    by jawbone on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 05:30:32 PM EST
    than once.

    I go with trial balloon.


    Biden's comments (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by lilburro on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 09:04:45 AM EST
    were at best bizarre.  On what planet is the spectre of Israel attacking Iran the right place to throw up your hands and say "what are you gonna do?"  And just generally Biden doesn't seem to have a cohesive foreign policy vision.  US foreign policy aims are just "coincidentally" those of a better world?  I don't think Juan Cole is right on this.

    Still throwing around loaded terms (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by ricosuave on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:45:50 AM EST
    To call the Israelis a group that will "kill based on ethnicity with no cause" and claim that they are "Murdering an innocent person based on race" are just rewordings of your genocide claims.

    I am no fan of the current Israeli government, and have pissed off plenty of my fellow Heebs (Zionists, if you prefer--though I don't know what the hell is wrong with believing that Israel ought to exist, which is the fundamental tenet of the dreaded Zionism).  And I definitely don't have a solution for bringing peace to the region.  But I never hear categorical condemnations of Israel such as yours come with any solution better than that Israel should just go away, or ignore the rockets, or some variation on "they should go back to Europe" even though the vast majority of them came from countries like Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, etc, that they can't go back to.

    As for supporting Israel not being in our interests: my point was that pretty much everyone who has ever held office in our country has come to the opposite conclusion you have.  It is an almost completely unanimous and fully bipartisan opinion among policymakers in the US.  I understand that you disagree, but there have been very few cases of people making actual decisions (regarding funding, cooperation, etc) where they have come to the conclusion that support of Israel was not in the American interest (Suez is about the only major example I can think of, and it is not like we went as far as to join up on the Egyptian side in that one).

    again, (4.66 / 3) (#14)
    by cpinva on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:26:40 PM EST
    you got what obama told you you would, during the primaries and campaign. and you're surprised because?

    I'll be the White House was really happy (4.50 / 2) (#4)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:29:13 AM EST
    to have the chance to "support" Biden's comments via e mail instead of in live session with the press.  Easier to keep a straight face.

    Follow up questions (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:53:30 PM EST
    for clarification always get lost in the spam filter :)

    Do you think Israel's (4.50 / 2) (#5)
    by oldpro on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:40:23 AM EST
    foreign policy depends on what the US gov thinks or says?

    I don't.

    Yes, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by eric on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:44:12 AM EST
    I am pretty sure it does.

    Follow the money -- aid money, defense money (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by jawbone on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:11:25 PM EST
    Note that Obama and State say they are extremely "concerned" about the Honduran coup, but, as Mara Liasson noted rather blatantly on FOX, the US has gotten the end result they actually wanted: The guy concerned about the poor and establishing ties with other more leftist governments in the region is GONE.

    Oh, and there's that "understanding" about our air force military base, for which there is not a treaty but that "understanding." Wouldn't want a leader imperiling that....

    And State refuses to use the actual term coup d'etat, as that would trigger legal requirements to suspend or cut aid to Honduras.  Eva Golinger, iirc, noted that a State spokeman used the Spanish term for coup (golpe something). Also, the US has kept it ambassador in Honduras, whereas other countries have recalled theirs.

    So, Obama gets to look like a hero of democracy while also getting to emulate his hero St Ronnie.


    An example of ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:20:41 PM EST
    "realpolitik" Obama style.

    Yes But (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 11:55:08 AM EST
    That could also be interpreted to mean that that US foreign policy depends on what Israel says or does, ergo they are extortionists.

    I believe they (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:32:08 PM EST
    prefer calling it "the carrot and stick" schtick.

    Well (4.50 / 2) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:15:28 PM EST
    I could see how someone would take it as the WH isnt backing off what Biden said since their answer is "the president believe etc." instead of coming out clearly and concisely and saying that Biden is wrong and should have never said that. But then this is how they seem to answer everything---in some sort of vague wishy washy way.

    WH spokespeople don't diss (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by oldpro on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:22:47 PM EST
    the VP any more than the president would...and with Joe, they more often than not need to exercise diplomacy!

    Yeah (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:25:36 PM EST
    but don't you think they could be tactful and clear at the same time?

    Not if clarity isn't the goal! (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by oldpro on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:27:18 PM EST
    How IS that transparency platform (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:35:46 PM EST
    working out for everyone?

    I'd LOL but the idea that the American public got punk'd AGAIN is rather disheartening. Will we never learn?


    No, never. Never ever. (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by oldpro on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:39:24 PM EST
    Americans like to 'believe in stuff.'

    Obama has been the political ... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:43:30 PM EST
    equivalent of Soma for the Left.

    "A gram is better than a damn."


    Well (none / 0) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:28:34 PM EST
    that's the problem as i see it because clarity is NEVER the goal. The goal is always to be vague and wishy washy it seems no matter what the issue.

    If you send two messages ... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:38:24 PM EST
    to Iran:  One scary, the other not so much.  Which one does Iran have to take more seriously?

    Answer that and you understand not only this current kerfuffle, but US foreign policy for the last six decades.


    You seem to be making the (none / 0) (#32)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:55:30 PM EST
    assumption their response that Iran is going to behave rationally. That hasn't always worked out so well for us.

    No country acts ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 04:42:12 PM EST
    rationally at all times.

    Yep (none / 0) (#37)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 04:56:55 PM EST
    For example let's take our reaction to 9/11 and how we regarded Iraq after it.

    I'm not pointing fingers at Iran, if anything I believe they have reason to distrust us and our intentions following the Shah and our part in placing him in power. If we had a better track record I might be able to point a finger but we don't. We have gotten it wrong just as often(if not more often), then we have gotten it right. I actually was happy that the admin stayed quiet regarding their election results and only made statements to the effect that they strongly opposed a militant approach to addressing protesters.

    Foreign policy is one of the few areas where I actually agreed with Obama. I'm disappointed that he let Biden come up with such a hardline statement.


    I always like a bit of yadda yadda (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:54:44 PM EST
    with lunch.

    Unless we are willing to accept David Addington's (none / 0) (#26)
    by KeysDan on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 01:30:51 PM EST
    "dual role" argument that the vice president is technically not part of the executive branch, Biden is a part of, not apart from, the Obama administration.  Bright light or dim bulb, he is one of the few members of the administration seen at Obama's side.  Biden seems, to me, to have been speaking on behalf of Obama either as a trial ballon or as a too clever by half strategy.

    Now, now (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:59:17 PM EST
    This adminisration would NEVER take the same position as the previous administration....oh wait....my bad.

    "We'd obliterate them" (none / 0) (#27)
    by jondee on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:04:20 PM EST
    a grandstanding, playing-to-the-audience, bit of sabre ratttling that was an improvement on Biden's "gaffe" how exactly?

    Hilarious (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:20:13 PM EST
    For those who do not know what jondee is referring to, he is talking about Hillary Clinton's answer to the question what would she as President do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

    Anyone with a brain should be able to tell the difference between a candidate answering THAT question (notice Presidents do no actually get asked that question? only candidates?) and Biden's answer about a PREEMPTIVE Israeli strike against Iran AT THIS TIME, given the ongoing events in Iran.

    jondee demonstrates with exquisite precision that very essence of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. BTW, remember all the Obama Bots going crazy over Hillary's answer? Where are they now? Thei4 silence is deafening.

    Thanks for the demonstration jondee.


    Although (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:26:09 PM EST
    Give credit to where credit is due: It all started with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statement which was mistranslated to mean that Iran would wipe Israel off the map.

    Good point (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:27:14 PM EST
    Bidens orignal stance in April (none / 0) (#28)
    by Saul on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 02:05:46 PM EST
    Biden stated  in April that Israel would be ill advised to attack Iranian nuclear sites.

    Biden referred to himself as a Zionist. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Samuel on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 04:37:17 PM EST
    But this country won't flinch when someone who at the time was running for president said they consider themselves a member of a genocidal political ideology (not a religion)...let alone the agenda of ANOTHER COUNTRY.  

    Whatever he said, Joe Biden the man, has displayed a willingness to accept the Israeli government's stance on a the 20th century manifest destiny inspired murder of Palestinians.  And that's the issue, not some political theater analysis that belongs on E!.  

    Israel and the US consider the blood of Israelis to be more valuable than that of all other semitic races.  This disregard for human life is appalling.

    As for Iran - there's no hard evidence saying that the majority want to overthrow the fundamentalist regime or that there was election fraud.  I'm not saying that may not be case, but all we have are anonymous tweets and the rhetoric of a leader who has killed at least 5000 of his own people in the past.  We were appalled at the poor level of fact checking on WMD done by the news media in the leadup to Iraq. That the NYTimes and others weren't fact checking documents released by actual intelligence agencies was deemed unacceptable in the ensuing years.  Yet it seems people this go-round (only some on this site and I realize this is by no means a "bomb iran" site) are willing to trust anonymous tweets?  

    Genocidal? (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by ricosuave on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 09:33:09 PM EST
    Really?  I just can't take you seriously when you call them genocidal and talk about the "semitic races."  Is the belief that Israel has a right to exist so amazingly controversial that Joe Biden has to be accused of following "the agenda of ANOTHER COUNTRY" for espousing it?  I know it is controversial among Palestinian political leaders (Hamas, which is the party elected to lead the Palestinians, does not believe that Israel has the right to exist), but it is not that controversial in the United States, is it?

    Biden's remarks on Sunday were not at all helpful to the Obama administration's attempts (correct in my opinion) to tone down anti-Iran rhetoric so that the Mullah's will not have an easy scapegoat for their current troubles.  But given that the Israelis have already demonstrated that they will do the kind of pre-emptive attacks we are talking about here (Osirak is a great example, though it should be noted that the Iranians pre-emptively attacked Osirak almost a year before the Israelis did for the same reason that everyone is concerned about Iran today), the discussion is pretty academic and only about whether Biden gaffed by saying it--not about whether such a reaction by the US would be anything different that what we have always done.

    The simple fact is that Pres Obama will not significantly change the US relationahip with Israel (nor will VP Biden nor SOS Hillary nor the US Senate).  The relationship has been largely constant for the past several decades and through presidents from both parties.  The incursion into Gaza earlier this year was probably the most internationally condemned Israeli move in recent years (maybe topping the reaction to the last invasion of Lebanon) and there was no change in policy from the supposedly Palestinian-loving Obama or the outraged Congress.

    We operate under a fantasy in this country that our relationship with Israel is simply a function of political fundraising, Jewish lobbying, and remnants of Holocaust guilt.  In fact (whether you like it or not), our national leaders have consistently concluded for the past several decades that the interests of the United States are best served by a strong alliance (military and political) with Israel, and there is no evidence that this government has come to any other conclusion.


    That's why his commentary was puzzling (none / 0) (#36)
    by cawaltz on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 04:47:55 PM EST
    The government position seems to be we can use our influence with the Israelis in the West Bank Settlement re Palestinian/Israeli relations but Israel is sovereign and we have no right to run interference in regards to Iran/Israeli relations.

    Our position appears to be as clear as mud which is somewhat typical for our foreign policy. It's a bit of a disappointment. This was the one area I felt that Obama might offer up the biggest change in direction. There have been some encouraging changes but for every two steps forward we seem to be taking one step back.


    I move we disregard commentary (none / 0) (#38)
    by Samuel on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 05:01:46 PM EST
    and acknowledge that the current US Government, through providing aid, is actively participating in the an unprovoked violent assault of a peoples based purely on ethnicity and religion.

    Then again, we're even worse than Israel so...


    Rocks, hard places, god... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Dadler on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 11:02:40 AM EST
    How do you get a nation founded by survivors of the greatest act of mass murder in the history of humankind to stop acting like that is their quite recent historical origin?

    How do you get a people who've irrationally despised that nation/other people for millenia to stop doing so now, when they have a much more "rational" reason to hate?

    Both sides are wrong, both sides are right, religion is useless, religion is everything.

    It does not surprise me, however, that where all three monotheistic religions meet in history and geography, that irrationality and violence and endless conflict sieze the days.  What's absurd is that they all believe in the same God, but simply can't agree on a name for him, or a permanent residence.  And one thinks another killed their savior.  Etc., etc., etc....