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Monday, May 26, 2008


I received a forwarded email today that included these two quotes, back-to-back. Their intent is fairly obvious, since "grave" and "serious" are synonyms:
"They don't pose a serious threat to us."
-- Barack Obama on Iran, speaking in Portland, Oregon on May 18

"I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."
-- Barack Obama speaking in Billings, Montana on May 19
After a quick search, I discovered that these are already widely circulated on right-leaning blogs.In context, it is easy to see that both quotes are taken from part of the same argument about Iran. Obama said -- as he has often on the campaign trail -- that Iran is not a serious threat in the same way that the Soviet Union was.

Does anyone deny that?

Here's the first quote, as reported in the IHT on May 20, with surrounding phrases:
Obama said in a speech Sunday that "strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries."

"That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev," he said, adding, "I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela - these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, 'We're going to wipe you off the planet."'

Obama said Iran was a threat partly because it had been emboldened by a war in Iraq backed by Bush and McCain. "Iran is the biggest single beneficiary of the war in Iraq," he said.
And here's the second one, as reported on a Chicago Tribune blog on May 19:
"Anything but their failed cowboy diplomacy that has produced no results is called appeasement," Obama countered. "Here's the truth: the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons and Iran doesn't have a single one. But when the world was on the brink of nuclear Holocaust, Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba. Why shouldn't we have the same courage and confidence to talk to our enemies? That's what strong countries do. That's what strong presidents do."

Obama said he fully realizes the danger posed by Iran, but that it is nothing compared to those presented by the former Soviet Union.

"The Soviet Union had the ability to destroy the world several times over, had satellites spanning the globe, had huge masses of conventional military power, all directed at destroying us," he said. "So, I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave. But what I've said is that we should not just talk to our friends. We should be willing to engage our enemies as well. That's what diplomacy is all about."

Obama repeatedly stressed the risk posed by Iran, as he suggested that danger has grown because of policies supported by McCain.

"Iran is a grave threat. It has an illicit nuclear program. It supports terrorism across the region and militias in Iraq. It threatens Israel's existence. It denies the Holocaust," he said. "The reason Iran is so much more powerful than it was a few years ago is because of the Bush-McCain policy of fighting in Iraq and refusing to pursue direct diplomacy with Iran. They're the ones who have not dealt with Iran wisely."

Obama also called Iran the "single biggest beneficiary" of Iraq war and pledged to secure all lose nuclear materials during first term, if he is elected president.
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