(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Iran’s president told the U.N. General Assembly that his country is under threat from “uncivilized Zionists,” and urged other leaders to confront the power centers that he said dominated weaker countries. In his speech, President Ahmadinejad demanded the U.N. restructure itself to give equal say to all countries. The U.N. has imposed economic sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, and President Obama, also addressing the U.N., said the United States will “do what we must” to keep Iran from getting nuclear arms. We talk to Hoover Institution fellow Abraham Sofaer about the recent developments, and his new book “Taking on Iran.”

Guests:
Abraham Sofaer, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, former legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State from 1985 to 1990 and author of "Taking on Iran"

  • Arthur

    Did the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq end up strengthening Iran? What are the lessons learned from North Korea building a nuclear weapon during the George W. Bush administration? How well did George W. Bush’s bellicose rhetoric about the “Axis of Evil” work out?

  • Priya

    Is there an ACTUAL and REAL nuclear threat from Iran? As a logical and reasonable scholar, can your guest, in good conscience, say there is a real nuclear threat from Iran? Besides inflammatory rhetoric and building what its neighbors already have, Iran is also prepping for an election, the people are horribly impoverished and increasingly enraged, and the establishment is losing favor among its allies. Why would anyone think Iran poses a real nuclear threat? The rhetoric has picked up in direct correlation with a very public and boastful (AND REAL) threat from Israel. Is Iran’s terrible rhetoric really worse than the military threat from Israel? Really?

    And let’s not fool use the Revolutionary Guard as an added drumbeat to make the case for a war. The RG has been around for many years and has been a prime supporter of terrorism, domestically and internationally, for many many years. It is a brutal and evil organization. No one seemed too concerned before. Not after 9/11, not when we went to war in 2003, not when the Iranians protested in 2009. It only suddenly became usefully evil when we are trying to justify and impending military action from our ally?

    • Priya

      Apologies: That should read “…let’s not fool ourselves while we use…”

    • Priya

      Also, let’s not confuse “Jewish” with “Zionist.” Iran has the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East, and has for years. The Muslims and Jews live peacefully in Iran, and no one is talking about wiping Jews off the map. Please don’t conflate the issue and disingenuously say that Iranians want Jews off the map.

  • Another Mike

    Enough saberrattling, already. Isn’t ten years of war in the Middle East enough? Let another country take the lead.

  • commonsense1234

    The key to stopping Iran is using covert means to undermine the economic fundamentals of their country. Specifically:

    1. Sabotaging their 14 Iranian oil tankers & the Kharg Island oil terminal
    2. Mass Counterfeiting their currency to spur hyper inflation.

    Additionally, there are significant minority populations in Iran who want more autonomy. We already support an organization called Jundallah that has carried out bombings against the govt.

    What are your thoughts of using – low intensity conflict means to deter them from pursuing their nuclear goals?

  • Steve

    It amazes me that mr Sofaer still believes that our invasion of Iraq was justified. That Iraq was a direct threat to America/American public. Really?

    • Chemist150

      Most people do not actually know history. Unfortunately, most voices promoted have agendas unknown to the listners and it’s directed to those that do not know history.

  • Chemist150

    Despite the naysayers, I’ve been saying it for years that Iran was going t develop nuclear subs and ships and finally they announce it. The US can sell the bomb to the people and Obama can win Jewish support by talking tough but looking at the level of enrichment, it’s consistent with what is needed for modern nuclear powered subs. I brought up this point a few years ago when I visited the UN and they continue to talk about “the bomb”. It gives them range and the ability to deliver on a global scale and when you can do that, you do not need “the bomb”. Finally, some are taking this point more seriously as the ACA with their July 26, 2012, Threat Assessment Brief.

    One only needs to look at their trade partners with South America where the US pulled the same act and they continued to enrich to 20%. Argentina will have a fleet of nuclear subs hitting the waters as early as 2016 in partnership with Brazil (two of Iran’s largest trade partners in South America). Another is finalizing a micro-reactor design.

    As the report put it: “What many now consider a proliferation loophole in the NPT was first seen as a theoretical because only nuclear weapons states had nuclear-powered submarines when the treaty was negotiated.”

    Now, the countries that the US has been turning their backs on for decades are uniting with collaborations and building their own militaries are uniting. I expect that Ahmadinejad will take on a role of diplomat to develop these relations. With the only allies of the US effectively protectorates of the US, how would the US faire against the coalition of the fed-up? Russia, China, Brazil, Argentina, Venuzuela, middle east countries,…. I fear WWIII if the US can’t start taking other countries seriously, because the US is a big bully ready to be smacked down.

  • Jim

    Typical Sofaer out-of-context war-mongering. If Iran had invaded Canada because their leader felt like it, and the CIA started supporting a Canadian resistance movement, would Sofaer feel that Iran should start droning and otherwise attacking the US? We shouldn’t have entered Iraq in the first place, and to now treat our presence there as a “given” that renders any resistance criminal is ridiculous.

  • theymightbegiants

    The strategy with Iran has proven to be practically the same that allowed Nazi Germany to become the monster that it took WWII to kill.

    The question at this time is ‘how to…and where does the money come from..?’

  • Brian

    Has Ahmadinejad or Iran actually called for the destruction of the Jewish people, or for an end to Israel as it currently exists? There seems to be some confusion about what exactly Ahmadinejad said — what’s an accurate, objective translation of his remarks? If he and Iran only want an end to an apartheid state that has subjugated Palestinians for over 40 years, it seems like a reasonable argument.

    • Priya

      Agreed. Iran has long called for the end of a Zionist regime. Let’s not confuse “Jewish” with “Zionist.” Iran has the second
      largest Jewish population in the Middle East, and has for years. The
      Muslims and Jews live peacefully in Iran, and no one is talking about
      wiping Jews off the map. Please don’t conflate the issue and
      disingenuously say that Iranians want Jews off the map.

      • Daniel

        and lie- virtually ALL Jewish population of Iran had to flee after the Islamic revolution fearing for their lilves! I know many such families – do you know many Jewish families remaining in Iran and not fearing for their lives? And we all know that by blaming the “:Zionist entity” Iranian mullahs – and supporting them neo liberals – do conflate the issue by shifting reponcibility form agrressor – Iran, Syria etc – to the only democratic state in the Middle East with 20% Arab citizens – Israel.

    • Daniel

      Yes, Iranian “president” has repeatedly called for “wiping Israel off the Map” – as recent as yesterday during Jewish High Holy day of Yom Kippur, day of Repentance. And your neo communist ideas about poor colonized Palestinians are as propaganda as was the Soviet propaganda about US “imperialists” subjugating poor African Americans as modern day slaves. I know it’s useless to try to logically argue with convinced “progressives” (I’m one of those only in social area) regarding Middle East – because the black & white views just do not apply there. But one thing is clear – nuclear Iran is a threat to EVERY democratic state in Europe and so called allies in the Middle East. Get real!

  • Knippy

    These are the kinds of men/people (Mr. Sofaer) who really, really need to be relegated to history’s dustbin. I also believe that our nation should make every effort and spend the necessary time to define the triggers which would force aggressive foreign involvement and then publiize them everywhere – product packages, license plates, posters, public service announcements, etc. What was it that George Washington warned us against? Foreign Intanglements, wasn’t it? When will we ever learn to ignore neocons?

  • commonsense1234

    Mr. Sofaer is wrong about Iraq – By getting rid of the Sadam Hussein, as bad as his was, the Bush administration effectively dismantled 20 years of US policy of Iranian containment. By giving the Shiite majority in Iraq control on the country, the US has given Iran a new ally. The facts are very clear on this.

    Plus it certainly was not worth $1 Trillion dollars.

  • Eamonn

    We saw from the last so-called election in Iran that the regime is terribly unpopular and seems to have a tenuous grip on power. The success of the Arab Spring will surely embolden the people of Iran to defy the Mullahs come the next election. What better way to strengthen the regime than to follow the advice of your guest, which is basically bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran?

  • Ann S.

    By removing Sadam Hussein from power and creating a vacuum of power in Iraq, didn’t the Bush Administration increase the threat from Iran and wouldn’t that threat have been even worse had the United State not stayed to try to stabilize the Iraqi government?

  • commonsense1234

    With 10% of the Israeli population in settements in the WB & East Jerusalem, Bibi Netanyahu is not interested in pursuing a two-state solution. (this is not 1998) Of course, the PA and Hamas makes it very easy for him since they can’t seem to get their act together. So unless there is a Likud/Labor/Kadima coalition govt, I don’t see the peace process moving forward.

    • colin

      & I don’t see that there is any reason (other than appeasing a powerful domestic lobby) for our continuing to give Israel $3 billion a year in military & economic aid as well as a veto at the U.N. of any resolution that the current Israeli government disapproves of.

  • chrisco

    Extremely warped bias, tribe-based analysis. Not a shred of objectivity but it is all based on WHO does or says what, not what they do or say. Iran as the aggressor. Iraq war completely necessary, etc. It is quite disgusting to hear such strident push for war from his safe Northern California home. All in defense of Israel. I think Sofaer is a greater advocate of genocide than Ahmadinejad could ever be.

    • colin

      Not to get too personal but I wonder how many of the neocons & AIPAC members who are currently waving the pom-poms for a war against Iran have children of their own serving in the military? Very few, I’d wager.

  • Another Mike

    How to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?

    Declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, and enforce it.

  • Chemist150

    Russia, many years back, sold to Iran mobile radar tech capable of locating and tracking stealth plane where it is able to detect any transmissions from the aircraft. Additionally, Iran developed its own radar technology and from their statements, it leads me to believe it can also track stealth. I’m uncertain if they also use the circularly polarized radar like HAARP but their statement was on target for key points to let US know that they know. After that announcement, they transferred radar tracking equipment to Syria to widen the next. Think Russia is involved?

    Now we have the US selling arms to Saudi Arabia and Turkey while they transfer weapons to Syria. Again, those that ignore history like in Iraq, might turn a blind eye to what is happening here but there is a war going on and it could get much worse if you consider the points in my previous post.

  • Avi

    Where Russia stand in this game with Iran? Will they allow Iran to have atomic bomb?

    • commonsense1234

      Russia is OK with Iran having a bomb because it would raise oil prices, which they are the largest producer in the world. Plus it undermines US power in the region.

      • Avi

        Russia would not be able to contain Iran with a A-bomb. Iran and Russia can not live in peace. Your analyses is wrong. Your motives are suspicious.

        • commonsense1234

          It is in Russia’s best interests to destablize the Middle East. It directly undermines the West and pushes up oil prices. Putin is still using whatever levers he has to advance Russia’s overall agenda. If Iran gets the bomb, then the Saudis and other countries will get it as well. With a bomb, Iran will be able to dominate OPEC, get the sanctions lifted and threaten Western interests through covert and overt means.

  • commonsense1234

    What is Mr. Sofaer’s opinion on using covert means such as sabotaging their tankers/oil terminals and mass counterfeiting their currency?

    What is his opinion about supporting organizations like Jundallah, which is a Iranian minority group that uses military means against the Iranian govt?

  • chrisco

    Oh I would love to hear two distinguished Muslim-Americans and/or Arab-Americans sit around for an hour discussing this issue tomorrow. I can dream…

    • chrisco

      Is it fair to say that there is about 100:1 ratio of Jewish-American voices vs. Arab/Muslim-American voices on this subject in the mainstream media? Maybe it is 50:1, maybe 150:1. But at any rate, there is no question of the virtual blockade of Arab/Muslim voices on the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

      This seems like a stunningly obvious point in need of discussion and correction.

  • Another Mike

    Now, President Obama is a liberal Democrat? Just how far to the right is this Sofaer?

  • Michael

    Never have I turned off Forum before, but to put on this uninformed and dogmatic idiot with no other guest to balance or hold him accountable is POINTLESS.

  • nanie

    i can’t believe you are interviewing this man who is a mouthpieace for all the lies that have been used to excuse the usa’s worldwide aggression.Let’s talk about who the worst aggressor is in this sorry world.
    do love your show though….
    marie

  • blind desire

    Well, that certainly was a nauseating re-hash of the lies the Neocon cabal has been spewing into the public discourse for the last decade or so. I lost count of the falsehoods used in support of the “reasoning” based on them.

    I feel sorry for the listeners who left those messages saying they depend on KDFC to keep them fully informed on what they need to know about what’s going on in the world. Propaganda every day.

  • Daniel

    To all the “enlightened” neo liberals who think they have knowledge and authority to decide who is dangerous and who is “real aggressor” in the MIddle East (Israel of course – isn’t that “obvious”) : wake up and get real (that’ a tall call of course). Iran is a mortal enemy of all democratic and progressive – including cherished right of women, minorities and general freedoms so dear to your universal moral ideals. Mr. Sofaer is very moderate and experienced scholar who has been instrumental to US governments in the past and certainly his analysis is the only thing worth listening to – and he was NOT calling for military all around action. Thinking that this war is too far away to affect your safety and your children’s is as utopian as most of neo liberal ideas are – unfortunately. And blaming all the wrong parties – USA and Israel – for the unrest in the Middle east caused by rise of Jihadism is indeed IDIOTIC, sorry to say that

    • Another Mike

      Are you saying that Sofaer is not advocating that Americans use military force against Iran? Are you sure?

  • Michael

    This segment of Forum features offensive and frightening propaganda.

  • Colin

    How disappointing that Forum would give a whole hour to a neoconservative advocate for a war of aggression against Iran without any countervailing viewpoint. Where’s the balance?

  • 99to1

    Wow; it’s revelatory to see how heavily Mr. Krasny had to edit the selections of reader comment he chose to read on air, to shield NeoCon propagandist Sofaer from the rebuke he deserves.

    What pretense of “balance” was there in the design of this Forum segment? It was inexcusably skewed to the PNAC imperial mentality responsible for a decade of criminal US wars of aggression against the peoples of the Middle East.

    Any nation in the region that does not bend to the corporate and military agenda of the US ruling class is subjected to invasion, drone bombing, covert military assaults, assassinations, cyber-sabotage, economic strangulation, and of course, slanderous attacks like we heard this morning, intended to justify the criminal US policy that goes unquestioned.

    When may we expect Forum to present a corrective segment addressing the history of joint US and Israeli depradation in the Middle East, or the incessant campaign to vilify Iran and psychologically condition the American people for an assault on that country — or for that matter, an inquiry into Israel’s nuclear weapons and the illegal means by which they obtained them, in contravention of the same international treaties invoked to demonize Iran?

  • Reza

    I am so surprise that you are promoting terrorism , state trrorisem.
    what Abraham said is a clear terrorisem, imagine if any Iranian calls for assasination of any other militeray generals in other countries.
    this guy is a crazy war mounger.

  • Reza

    I am so surprise that you are promoting terrorism , state trrorisem. what Abraham said is a clear terrorisem, imagine if any Iranian calls for assasination of any other militeray generals in other countries. this guy is a crazy war mounger.

  • peace_on_earth

    How does such arrogant and ignorant moron become a “senior fellow” & chief negotiator for the US or is that a requirement nowadays to become a “senior fellow”? I am a proud Iranian American and no fan of Mr. Ahmadinejad & the Iranian regime but found Mr. Soafer’s account of Iran’s regional role & relation with US inaccurate, arrogant and extremely biased. Such views are plain dangerous and designed to push the US in another unwanted war for the next 1-2 decades. A low point for Forum’s stellar objectivity as far as I am concerned. Mr, Soafer probably confused Fox News Hannity with Forum.

  • Cecilia

    I like Forum very much but, as the previous listener, I turned it off today. Way too biased….

  • Sheree

    Abraham Sofaer is a whole lot smarter than most of these posters below. Thanks for having him on Michael!

    • colin

      Smart people can still advocate incredibly dumb ideas (e.g. the invasion of Iraq in 2003). What’s remarkable about Mr. Sofaer is that he seems to be unable to concede that invading Iraq had had been a bad idea, even as most of the politicians who supported the war (including Dianne Feinstein) have successfully disassociated themselves from the war.

  • wow is this sofaer neocon bully for real?! still supporting the invasion of iraq and calling it necessary?! and asking for bombing of iran or drone attacks?!! and mr krasny seemed more or less in agreement with him!!! the only thing he said that made sense was that he was against the assassination of iranian physicists as they’re civil servants and doing their jobs. this was a segment for fox news, not KQED. disappointing. the only positive outcome from this piece is to read the comments below and know that there are many out there who are against all this warmongering.

  • merrickgds

    To NPR,
    I heard Mr Soafer, and he is absolutely right in his analysis that we can only get Iran and the Arab/M.E countries to even ‘listen’ to the West, if they see strength and fear us. They are hellbent on getting the nuke and will hide,deceive, do anything to buy time to get to the nuke. Trying to resolve the problem using diplomacy alone is not going to get us anywhere if they don’t fear the consequences. I am shocked by how lackadaisical many Americans,Obama admin has been.
    Iran is NOT like Russia. Iran(any Islamic country) is driven by Islamic Jihadist ideology where they convince their people to sacrifice themselves for Allah. They dont care if they blow themselves/the world, up. Please Remind yourself these are fanatics driven by a
    violent ideology/religion. Talk doesnt work. Read about the Islamists in Mali destroying historical sites that didnt conform to their crazy/violent belief. Where are the Buddhists in Afghanistan now even though there are remnants of ancient Buddhist sites?

    Most AMericans do not understand , or care or this region, and would rather not be bothered by the strife. But just like crime ridden neighborhoods (e.g in San Jose/Vallejo, CA) bring down the value of a city, as no one wants to move there, and it takes police action to bring order and restore safety… the same logic applies to the world, just on a bigger scale.
    Pakistan neighbors Iran, and A.Q Khan passed on nuclear knowhow to Iran .
    Pakistan’s ISI has been enabling Islamic fighters in India-Kashmir and Afghanistan.
    Iran’s IRGC has been enabling Islamic fighters in Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Taliban were supplied by the ISI and decimated art, culture that thrived in the 70s. Your own RadioLab aired a show about this.
    Ask yourself.. What are the ISI, IRGC trying to do?
    Answer: Create an Islamic only region, conquer more territory and spread across the world.

    Look at the history where the Islamists tried to invade and conquer Europe.
    One caller said this affects Europe and Russia more so why is the US bearing the brunt of confrontation.
    The same could be said about why did the US involve itself when France was invaded by the Nazis.
    The US is the leader/cop/ whatever you want to call US, because without US stewardship, the world would be in flames. Yes it costs us dearly, but We are possibly the only cop around, and we have to persuade other countries to ‘behave’. Look how Japan, Germany have turned out AFTER the US DEFEATED the imperialist regimes during WW2.
    Another caller said resolving the Israel situation would take away the ammunition for Iran.
    While it is an excuse, even if you removed it, you would be a fool to think they would not be continuing towards the nuke.
    Just please dont have your head in the sand.

    • Another Mike

      A decade after THE ALLIES defeated the imperialist regimes in World War II, Churchill professed that “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

  • ken

    What an outpouring of pure venom! A feeble lack of engagement with the speaker’s analysis of a difficult dilemma.

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