Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Iran/Russian Defense Alliance
Iran And Russia Meet To Discuss Defense Cooperation
The Associated Press
Monday, December 24, 2007
TEHRAN, Iran: Iran and Russia discussed defense cooperation, the official IRNA reported Monday, as ties between the two countries have been increasingly flourishing.
Little detail was provided about the meeting. Mohammad Ali Hosseini, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, said a joint defense committee met and both sides reviewed continued cooperation. He did not elaborate.
Last week, Iranian state media said Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, arrived in Tehran to discuss defense cooperation with Iranian Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, regarded as father of country's missile program.
In November, Iran did not deny reports that it aimed to order Russian Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft to bolster its air defenses.
In early 2007, Iran received advanced Russian air defense missile system under a US$700 million contract signed in 2005. Russia has provided Iran with military products such Kilo-Class submarines, MIG and Sukhoi military planes and bombers in the past decades.
Relations between Iran and Russia have been growing closer in recent months, climaxed by a historical visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran in October.
Russia is also putting the finishing touches on a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr, located in southern Iran. Iran received the first shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia last week, paving the way for the startup of its reactor in 2008.
The United States last year called for a halt to international arms exports to Iran and for an end to nuclear cooperation with Iran to pressure it to stop uranium enrichment. Iran has refused to halt its enrichment program despite receiving two sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Posted at 05:47 am by R7fel
Friday, November 23, 2007
Western Nuclear Powers Target Iran
A Plan To Attack Iran Swiftly And From Above
A bombing campaign has been in the works for months - a blistering air war that would last anywhere from one day to two weeks
WASHINGTON — Massive, devastating air strikes, a full dose of "shock and awe" with hundreds of bunker-busting bombs slicing through concrete at more than a dozen nuclear sites across Iran is no longer just the idle musing of military planners and uber-hawks.
Although air strikes don't seem imminent as the U.S.-Iranian drama unfolds, planning for a bombing campaign and preparing for the geopolitical blowback has preoccupied military and political councils for months.
No one is predicting a full-blown ground war with Iran. The likeliest scenario, a blistering air war that could last as little as one night or as long as two weeks, would be designed to avoid the quagmire of invasion and regime change that now characterizes Iraq. But skepticism remains about whether any amount of bombing can substantially delay Iran's entry into the nuclear-weapons club.
Attacking Iran has gone far beyond the twilight musings of a lame-duck president. Almost all of those jockeying to succeed U.S. President George W. Bush are similarly bellicose. Both front-runners, Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, have said that Iran's ruling mullahs can't be allowed to go nuclear. "Iran would be very sure if I were president of the United States that I would not allow them to become nuclear," said Mr. Giuliani. Ms. Clinton is equally hard-line.
Nor does the threat come just from the United States. As hopes fade that sanctions and common sense might avert a military confrontation with Tehran - as they appear to have done with North Korea - other Western leaders are openly warning that bombing may be needed.
Unless Tehran scraps its clandestine and suspicious nuclear program and its quest for weapons-grade uranium (it already has the missiles capable of delivering an atomic warhead), the world will be "faced with an alternative that I call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," French President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned.
Bombing Iran would be relatively easy. Its antiquated air force and Russian air-defence missiles would be easy pickings for the U.S. warplanes.
But effectively destroying Iran's widely scattered and deeply buried nuclear facilities would be far harder, although achievable, according to air-power experts. But the fallout, especially the anger sown across much of the Muslim world by another U.S.-led attack in the Middle East, would be impossible to calculate.
Israel has twice launched pre-emptive air strikes ostensibly to cripple nuclear programs. In both instances, against Iraq in 1981 and Syria two months ago, the targeted regimes howled but did nothing.
The single-strike Israeli attacks would seem like pinpricks, compared with the rain of destruction U.S. warplanes would need to kneecap Iran's far larger nuclear network.
"American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osirak nuclear centre in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq," said John Pike, director at Globalsecurity.org, a leading defence and security group.
"Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States," along with warplanes from land bases in the region and carriers at sea, at least two-dozen suspected nuclear sites would be targeted, he said.
Although U.S. ground forces are stretched thin with nearly 200,000 fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the firepower of the U.S. air force and the warplanes aboard aircraft carriers could easily overwhelm Iran's defences, leaving U.S. warplanes in complete command of the skies and free to pound targets at will.
With air bases close by in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan, including Kandahar, and naval-carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, hundreds of U.S. warplanes serviced by scores of airborne refuellers could deliver a near constant hail of high explosives.
Fighter-bombers and radar-jammers would spearhead any attack. B-2 bombers, each capable of delivering 20 four-tonne bunker-busting bombs, along with smaller stealth bombers and streams of F-18s from the carriers could maintain an open-ended bombing campaign.
"They could keep it up until the end of time, which might be hastened by the bombing," Mr. Pike said. "They could make the rubble jump; there's plenty of stuff to bomb," he added, a reference to the now famous line from former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Afghanistan was a "target-poor" country.
Mr. Pike believes it could all be over in a single night. Others predict days, or even weeks, of sustained bombing.
Unidentified Pentagon planners have been cited talking of "1,500 aim points." What is clear is that a score or more known nuclear sites would be destroyed. Some, in remote deserts, would present little risk of "collateral damage," military jargon for unintended civilian causalities. Others, like laboratories at the University of Tehran, in the heart of a teeming capital city, would be hard to destroy without killing innocent Iranians.
What would likely unfold would be weeks of escalating tension, following a breakdown of diplomatic efforts.
The next crisis point may come later this month if the UN Security Council becomes deadlocked over further sanctions.
"China and Russia are more concerned about the prospect of the U.S. bombing Iran than of Iran getting a nuclear bomb," says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Tehran remains defiant. Our enemies "must know that Iran will not give the slightest concession ... to any power," Iran's fiery President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday. For his part, Mr. Bush has pointedly refused to rule out resorting to war. Last month, another U.S. naval battle group - including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman with 100 warplanes on board and the Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown as one of its screen of smaller warships - left for the Persian Gulf. At least one, and often two, carrier battle groups are always in the region.
Whether even weeks of bombing would cripple Iran's nuclear program cannot be known. Mr. Pike believes it would set back, by a decade or more, the time Tehran needs to develop a nuclear warhead. But Iran's clandestine program - international inspectors were completely clueless as to the existence of several major sites until exiles ratted out the mullahs - may be so extensive that even the longest target list will miss some.
"It's not a question of whether we can do a strike or not and whether the strike could be effective," retired Marine general Anthony Zinni told Time magazine. "It certainly would be, to some degree. But are you prepared for all that follows?"
Attacked and humiliated, Iran might be tempted, as Mr. Ahmadinejad has suggested, to strike back, although Iran has limited military options.
At least some Sunni governments in the region, not least Saudi Arabia, would be secretly delighted to see the Shia mullahs in Tehran bloodied. But the grave risk of any military action spiralling into a regional war, especially if Mr. Ahmadinejad tried to make good on his threat to attack Israel, remains.
"Arab leaders would like to see Iran taken down a notch," said Steven Cook, an analyst specializing in the Arab world at the Council on Foreign Relations, "but their citizens will see this as what they perceive to be America's ongoing war on Islam."
The confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program has been simmering for more than five years. These are some of the key flashpoints.
August, 2002: Iranian exiles say that Tehran has built a vast uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak without informing the United Nations.
December, 2002: The existence of the sites is confirmed by satellite photographs shown on U.S. television. The United States accuses Tehran of "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." Iran agrees to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
June, 2003: IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei accuses Iran of not revealing the extent of its nuclear work and urges leaders to sign up for more intrusive inspections.
October, 2003: After meeting French, German and British foreign ministers, Tehran agrees to stop producing enriched uranium and formally decides to sign the Additional Protocol, a measure that extends the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. No evidence is produced to confirm the end of enrichment.
November, 2003: Mr. ElBaradei says there is "no evidence" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The United States disagrees.
February, 2004: An IAEA report says Iran experimented with polonium-210, which can be used to trigger the chain reaction in a nuclear bomb. Iran did not explain the experiments. Iran again agrees to suspend enrichment, but again does not do so.
March, 2004: Iran is urged to reveal its entire nuclear program to the IAEA by June 1, 2004.
September, 2004: The IAEA orders Iran to stop preparations for large-scale uranium enrichment. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell labels Iran a growing danger and calls for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.
August, 2005: Hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is installed as Iranian President as Tehran pledges an "irreversible" resumption of enrichment.
Jan. 10, 2006: Iran removes UN seals at the Natanz enrichment plant and resumes nuclear fuel research.
February, 2006: The IAEA votes to report Iran to the UN Security Council. Iran ends snap UN nuclear inspections the next day.
July 31, 2006: The UN Security Council demands that Iran suspend its nuclear activities by Aug. 31.
Aug. 31, 2006: The UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt its work on nuclear fuel passes. IAEA says Tehran has failed to suspend the program.
Dec. 23, 2006: The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopts a binding resolution that imposes some sanctions and calls on Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities and to comply with its IAEA obligations.
March 24, 2007: The Security Council unanimously approves a resolution broadening UN sanctions against Iran for its continuing failure to halt uranium enrichment. Iranian officials call the new measures "unnecessary and unjustified."
April 10, 2007: Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs says Iran will not accept any suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities and urges world powers to accept the "new reality" of the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
May 23, 2007: The IAEA says in a new report, issued to coincide with the expiration of a Security Council deadline for Tehran, that Iran continues to defy UN Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment and has expanded such work. The report adds that the UN nuclear agency's ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran has declined due to lack of access to sites.
Oct. 24, 2007: The United States imposes new sanctions on Iran and accuses the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of spreading weapons of mass destruction.
Sources: BBC, Reuters, Financial Times, Radio Free Europe
Despite continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran. In addition to nuclear installations, other likely targets include ballistic missile sites, Revolutionary Guard bases, and naval assets.
Syria: Earlier this year, Israel bombed a site in Syria's Deir ez-Zor region that it suspected was part of a nascent nuclear program.
Osirak: Israel in 1981 had its aircraft bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor before it became operational.
Natanz: Believed to be Iran's primary uranium-enrichment site and a key target of any attack.
B1: A supersonic, intercontinental bomber, capable of penetrating deep into defended airspace and dropping more than 50-tonnes of conventional bombs on a single mission.
B2: America's biggest stealthy long-range bomber, capable of flying half-way around the globe to deliver up to 23 tonnes of bombs on multiple targets.
F-117: The original stealth fighter, almost invisible on radar, was used to drop the first bombs in both Iraq invasions.
F-18: Carrier-borne fighter-bomber capable of many roles from air combat to bombing missions.
EGBU-28: The newest of the U.S. "bunker busters," it uses a GPS guidance system and can penetrate six metres of concrete to deliver four tonnes of high explosives.
SOURCES: FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, GLOBAL SECURITY.ORG, ASSOCIATED PRESS
REBUTTAL TO BIASED SPIN IN ARTICLE ABOVE:
The full text of the statement reads as follows:
At the very outset, NAM would like to recall its principled positions on this issue, as reflected in the Statement on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Issue adopted in the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Havana, Cuba, on 15 and 16 September 2006.
The Heads of State or Government reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all States, to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective legal obligations. Therefore, nothing should be interpreted in a way as inhibiting or restricting this right of States to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
They furthermore reaffirmed that States' choices and decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.
The Heads of State or Government recognized the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the sole competent authority for verification of the respective safeguards obligations of Member States and stressed that there should be no undue pressure or interference in the Agency's activities, especially its verification process, which would jeopardize the efficiency and credibility of the Agency.
The Heads of State or Government welcomed the cooperation extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IAEA including those voluntary confidence-building measures undertaken, with a view to resolve the remaining issues. They noted the assessment of the IAEA Director-General that all nuclear material declared by Iran had been accounted for. They noted, at the same time, that the process for drawing a conclusion with regard to the absence of undeclared material and activities in Iran is an ongoing and time-consuming process. In this regard, the Heads of State or Government encouraged Iran to urgently continue to cooperate actively and fully with the IAEA within the Agency's mandate to resolve outstanding issues in order to promote confidence and a peaceful resolution of the issue.
The Heads of State or Government emphasized the fundamental distinction between the legal obligations of States to their respective safeguards agreements and any confidence building measures voluntarily undertaken to resolve difficult issues, and believed that such voluntary undertakings are not legal safeguards obligations.
The Heads of State or Government considered the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones (NWFZs) as a positive step towards attaining the objective of global nuclear disarmament and reiterated the support for the establishment in the Middle East of a nuclear- weapon-free zone, in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Pending the establishment of such a zone ,they demanded Israel to accede to the NPT without delay and place promptly all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.
The Heads of State or Government reaffirmed the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities -operational or under construction- poses a great danger to human beings and the environment ,and constitutes a grave violation of international law, principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and regulations of the IAEA. They recognized the need for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument, prohibiting attacks, or threat of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The Heads of State or Government strongly believed that all issues on safeguards and verification, including those of Iran, should be resolved within the IAEA framework, and be based on technical and legal grounds. They further emphasized that the Agency should continue its work to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue within its mandate under the Statute of the IAEA.
The Heads of State or Government also strongly believed that diplomacy and dialogue through peaceful means must continue to find a long term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. They expressed their conviction that the only way to resolve the issue is to resume negotiations without any preconditions and to enhance cooperation with the involvement of all necessary parties to promote international confidence with the view to facilitating Agency's work on resolving the outstanding issues.
NAM welcomes the efforts made by Iran and the IAEA Secretariat in the implementation of the of the Work Plan as contained in INFCIRC/711 on Understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Agency on the Modalities of resolution of the Outstanding Issues, which was reflected in the Summary of the previous report of the Director General as a significant step forward. NAM believes that these steps will facilitate the negotiation between Iran and the concerned parties in order to have a peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.
In these regards NAM is pleased to note that the Report of the Director General establishes, inter alia, the following progress in the implementation of the Work Plan:
The Agency has been able to conclude that answers provided by Iran on the declared past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programme are consistent with its findings.
Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions and provided clarifications and amplifications on issues raised in the context of the Work Plan.
On 8 November 2007, upon the request of the Agency, as reflected in the paragraph B of the Work Plan, Iran had provided to the Agency a copy of the 15-page document on Uranium metal.
NAM welcomes this substantive progress and is optimistic that the remaining questions will be resolved with the proactive cooperation of Iran with the IAEA.
NAM welcomes the conclusion of the Safeguard Approach and the Facility Attachment for the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, which entered in force on September 30, 2007. NAM hopes that this would facilitate the Agency comprehensive and full safeguards verification implementation at this facility.
NAM also takes note that the Director General expressed once again that the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of declared material in Iran, and that Iran has provided the Agency with access declared nuclear material, and has provided the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with declared nuclear material and activities. NAM also notes that the Agency has not found indications of on-going reprocessing activities In Iran.
NAM reiterates its full confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of the Secretariat of the IAEA and of its Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. In light of some recent development, NAM strongly rejects any undue pressure or interference in the Agency's activities, especially in its verification process, which will jeopardize its efficiency and credibility. Particularly, In this connection NAM reiterates its full support for the recent steps taken by the Director General in order to resolve the outstanding issues on Iran.
The 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency held its regular year-end meeting on Thursday.
A number of different topics are supposed to be brought up for discussion during the meeting, which is expected to last two days.
The IAEA's technical assistance and cooperation (TAC) committee has just wrapped up a three-day meeting of its own, the results of which would be presented to the UN nuclear watchdog's board.
IAEA Director General Mohamed Elbaradei said on Thursday that "Our progress over the past two months has been made possible by an increased level of cooperation on the part of Iran, in accordance with the work plan."
Addressing the IAEA Board of Governors on Thursday, he said with regard to Iran's current nuclear activities, "We have been able to verify the non-diversion of all declared nuclear material. We also have in place a safeguards approach for the Natanz facility that enables us to credibly verify all enrichment activities there," ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei gave a complete report to IAEA Board of Governors on Iran's cooperation with IAEA.
In his report, ElBaradei underlined that Iran's report on P1 and P2 centrifuge enrichment technologies have been correct and transparent.
At the very outset NAM would like to thank the Director General for his introductory statement, which highlights the main issues to be considered in the present session of the Board of Governors.
NAM takes note that the Governments of the Republic of Chad and of the Republic of Mozambique have decided to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency as well as the corresponding protocols additional to those agreements.
NAM also takes note of the decision of the Republic of the Cote d'Ivore to conclude an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the Agency.
On behalf of the Vienna Chapter of Non-Aligned Movement we would like to thank the Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, for his update on the implementation of safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
NAM reiterates its desire for the total realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and its continued support for the Six-Party Talks, as a way to find a long term solution to the Korean nuclear issue through diplomacy and dialogue. NAM had therefore welcomed the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks as well as the agreement on the Initial Actions for its Implementation, reached in Beijing on 13 February 2007.
In this context, NAM notes with satisfaction that the monitoring and verification activities, as envisaged under the" Initial Actions", are being implemented with the cooperation of the DPRK and the active participation of the IAEA. NAM encourages the Agency and the DPRK to continue its efforts in this regard.
Posted at 11:12 am by R7fel
Monday, November 19, 2007
2008 Will Bring Us An Abundant Crop Of Overseas Crises
by Justin Raimondo
As we approach the new year, a fresh crop of overseas crises threatens to spring up, like mushrooms after a rain, and the prospects for peace on earth, this holiday season, are dimmer than ever.
Iraq: First up on the agenda is, of course, the war in Iraq, which, we are told, is going swimmingly. The much-touted statistics that we're being fed by the War Party and its media enablers sound good, but if you look at them a bit closer, the illusion begins to dissipate. The downturn in violence that we're hearing so much about is largely due to the fact that the ethno-religious cleansing of contested regions of Iraq has been completed, for the most part: in Baghdad, for example, the Shi'ites have driven the Sunnis out, with the help of the U.S.-supported "police" and the Iraqi "army" – which are really just Shi'ite death squads. They've shed all the blood they can, at least for now: give them a moment to catch their collective breath, however, and the sectarian killings will recommence with gusto.
Similarly, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hails the "return" of "7,000 families" to Baghdad as proof positive that the "surge" is working, but the reality is that, as Juan Cole points out, the many tens of thousands who fled to Syria are now being forced by the Syrian government to leave, which explains the great "return." They're being kicked out of Damascus, and they're not allowed into the U.S., so where else are they supposed to go?
The emerging hotspot in Iraq is Kurdistan, which has been relatively peaceful until this point – but only because the ruling parties have kept such a tight lid on internal dissent, ruthlessly suppressing their critics and growing fat on U.S. and Israeli aid. The lid is about to blow off the pot, however, due to two factors: first, terrorist attacks in Turkey carried out by guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which many Turks suspect is funded and managed by the U.S. and the Kurdish regional government, and second, a provision in the Iraqi constitution that requires a referendum to decide who gets the oil-hub city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by the Kurds and the Iraqi central government.
As I have said before on several occasions, the Kurds are the most disruptive and unpredictable factor in the Iraqi jigsaw puzzle, which virtually ensures that the state smashed by U.S. force of arms almost certainly cannot be put back together again, no matter how much glue – in the form of U.S. troops and subsidies – is poured into the breach. Virulent Kurdish nationalism, unleashed by the American invasion and empowered by U.S. and Israeli aid and arms, is on the march, and every nation in the region is going to be negatively affected. It isn't going to be pretty, as the Turks have discovered to their sorrow and growing anger.
Iran: It seems like virtually unanimous opposition from the U.S. military has lessened the possibility of a war being launched by this White House any time soon, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.
Admiral Fallon and a number of other military figures have spoken out against a new war in the Middle East, pointing to the overstretch of our resources and the near-impossibility of mobilizing an effective fighting force while we're bogged down in Iraq, but realism was never the neoconservatives' strong point and that isn't stopping them from pushing their agenda. The president, as I've pointed out before, is the most radical neocon of them all – or, at the very least, a fervent fellow traveler – and it really is up to him. Certainly the Kyl-Lieberman resolution gives him the legal and political tools to do it, since it can be seen as merely an extension of the original post-9/11 authorization to go to war against "terrorists." If the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are "terrorists" and are actively killing American soldiers in Iraq, as Kyl-Lieberman avers, then the resolution in tandem with the post-9/11 legislation gives ample legal cover to an administration hell-bent on war with Iran.
Lebanon: Recent incursions by the Israelis over Lebanese airspace could prefigure another Israeli invasion, this time to prevent Hezbollah and its Christian allies from displacing the increasingly unpopular and beleaguered "pro-Western" government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. All factions are arming themselves, and the country looks ready to slide into yet another civil war, which would almost certainly provoke intervention by several outside interests, including the U.S. and/or Israel. Lebanon is the Balkans of the Middle East: a spark struck there could ignite the whole region.
Syria: I've been keeping a close watch on developments in Syria for years, in the belief that this is really the focal point of Israeli interests. Syria, after all, is where the Palestinian factions have been headquartered, and it is the front-line state that has provided support to the Palestinian resistance struggle. For more on Syria as an Israeli target of opportunity, read the now famous "Clean Break" scenario painted by prominent neocons now in high positions in the U.S. government.
Naturally, the Israelis have wanted to take out the Syrians, but they have lacked the capacity to do so. Now, as in the case of Iraq, it could be that the Americans are going to do the job for them. There's been a lot of anti-Syrian rhetoric coming out of this White House, and our State Department has done everything but cut off diplomatic relations with Damascus: we have no ambassador presently in Syria, only low-level diplomatic personnel. Sanctions are hurting the always precarious Syrian economy, the Kurds are busy stirring up trouble, and now there's this news from Nation columnist Eric Alterman:
"I got a letter the other day from a faculty member at the University of Maryland's overseas division in Europe. UM is the primary university providing classes for U.S. service members abroad. Here it is:
"'The reason that I am writing today is to inform you of something rather unsettling. Last weekend, we had a Europe-wide faculty meeting at our headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. At that meeting, we were told that the U of MD military education contracts will be expanding soon to Iraq, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, and other locations in the Middle East and Africa. This comes as no surprise.
"'What is startling is that the U.S. military has also asked us to prepare a bid for educational programs in IRAN and SYRIA (and, oddly enough, France – where we have had no presence since NATO was expelled in 1967 – probably a function of the new conservative government there). We will be bidding on an education contract to these locations at the end of November.
"'This is a truly ominous development. The U of MD overseas program follows the military around the world – thus clearly the contingencies for an occupation of several Middle Eastern countries is not only being contemplated, but actually set up.'"
That Israeli air strike at what was supposedly a Syrian "nuclear facility" portends something, but as to whether it's a U.S.-Israeli invasion is an open question. In my own view, it's not a matter of if, but when.
Somalia-Ethiopia: This was supposed to be war as it should be fought, according to the War Party here on the home front. Why, those no-nonsense Ethiopians, who have no sissy-liberal compunctions about collateral damage, would soon make short work of those pro-terrorist Somalis, but there's just one problem. The Ethiopians aren't winning. You'll remember how the neocons trotted out the old Stalinist eggs-omelet argument, in a new guise, but now we have to ask: where's the beef?
Expect this latest front in our perpetual "war on terrorism" to degenerate further, as the Ethiopian regime faces increasing opposition on the home front, where its program of repression and ethnic supremacism is not only alienating large sectors of Ethiopian society and provoking a new civil war, but also further impoverishing one of the poorest nations on earth. Addis Ababa can't even keep its own house from falling to pieces, so it's no surprise that their Somali sock puppets are at each other's throats. Another factor that could throw the rapidly deteriorating region into the spotlight is the resumption of Ethiopia's endless war with Eritrea. The U.S. has sided with the Ethiopians in the ongoing Ethiopian-Eritrean dispute, giving aid and diplomatic cover to the neocon dictator Meles Zenawi's dreams of a "Greater Ethiopia," but we may well have picked the wrong horse in that fight. The Eritreans are a fierce and proud people who have successfully fought off Ethiopian attempts to incorporate them into "Greater Ethiopia" for centuries, most recently in the late 1990s, a conflict in which 70,000 perished. Of course, the U.S. has no interest in helping the thug Zenawi subjugate his neighbors, who have clung tenaciously to their thin strip of territory on the shores of the Red Sea since independence was won from Ethiopia in 1993.
The Russian periphery: I have long believed that the next stage in the neocons' bid for empire will be a rapidly escalating assault on the remnants of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union – dressed up as yet another crusade for "democracy," Washington-style, launched by the U.S. This has so far been a political effort, typified by the various "color revolutions" that erupted in the post-Soviet periphery, from the Rose Revolution in Georgia to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution led by Viktor Yushchenko. These efforts are apparently stalled, and even suffering from a determined rollback led by nationalist forces, and the next phase is likely to be a series of low-level proxy wars between Russian-backed nationalists and U.S.-backed "democrats."
There are a number of theaters where hostilities could break out, but I'll just cover the hottest hotspots:
Georgia: As President Mikheil Saakashvili deflowers his own revolution and shuts down the opposition media, he could well try to divert attention away from his political problems by ginning up a fresh conflict with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are protected by Russian troops and regional militias. Saakashvili, the great "democrat," is busy charging anyone who opposes him with being a pawn of the Russians (and therefore guilty of treason), but the West is calling on him to restore civil liberties – and, in an apparent effort to propitiate his Western benefactors, he has lifted some restrictions and called new elections. Widespread and growing opposition to his strong-arm tactics, even among many of his former supporters, spells political trouble for Saakashvili and his corrupt cohorts, however – and an appeal to Georgian ultra-nationalism (which was always the real ideological motivation of the Rose Revolutionaries) would bolster him in the polls and provide a much-needed distraction, at least from the ruling party's point of view.
In the event of an outbreak of hostilities, expect the U.S. to do what they have done for the duration of Georgia's political crisis: proffer unconditional support to Saakashvili. With Russia aiding and giving political and diplomatic support to the Abkhazians and the Ossetians, and the Americans letting loose a flood of military aid to Tbilisi, this could be the first theater of actual conflict in the new cold war.
Kosovo – again!: The irony of this is all too apparent to longtime readers of Antiwar.com. Virtually alone among opponents of imperialism in the U.S., we opposed the American "liberation" of Kosovo and considered U.S. support for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – a gang of drug-smuggling thugs whose control of the European heroin trade subsidized their terrorist activities against the people of Kosovo and neighboring countries – to be a war crime. As it turned out, it was the Clintonian precursor to the American sponsorship of Iraqi exile groups, such as Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, whose ersatz "intelligence" helped lie the American people into war. It is only fitting that this hotspot should get hotter even as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claims Kosovo as a model for what we ought to have done in Iraq.
The problem in Kosovo is that the "liberation" led to a reign of terror by the KLA, which burned Serbian Orthodox churches, terrorized the remnants of Serbian communities, and demanded immediate independence. On this latter demand, they managed to be contained by their NATO and U.S. allies, but that pot is about to boil over as Hashim Thaci, KLA militant and candidate of the grievously misnamed "Democratic Party," takes the presidency. Ever since the "liberation," the KLA was kept out of power by the prestige of Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo, but Rugova's death from cancer in 2006 paved the way for the thuggish Thaci to seize power – and he has.
A unilateral declaration of independence by the Thaci regime would not necessarily lead to fighting in the region, although there is that possibility. The real danger is that it will set off a chain reaction in Moscow, which will then encourage its allies in the various regions of the Russian "near abroad" to issue similar declarations: Abkhazia, Adjara (site of a Russian military base), Ossetia, and certain sections of Moldova could be granted diplomatic recognition by Russia and its allies, on the grounds that what's good for the Kosovar goose in good for the Abkhazian-Adjarian-Ossetian-Transnistrian-Gagauzian gander. This could set off a whole series of proxy wars, with the Russians backing the breakaway republics and the Americans standing with their super-centralizing satraps, such as Saakashvili.
With the arms-control treaties pioneered by Reagan and other U.S. presidents now discarded, and the Russians chafing over a missile-defense system installed in the Czech republic and Poland supposedly because of an imminent danger of an Iranian attack, this new development is particularly dangerous.
The ultimate goal of the War Party is "regime change" in the Kremlin: they long to put another one of their stooges, along the lines of Boris Yeltsin, in the drivers' seat. The problem with Yeltsin was that he couldn't stay sober long enough to do Washington's bidding. And now there is no plausible rival to the wildly popular Vladimir Putin, who has put the country back into some semblance of order. Their solution: declare Putin to be the reincarnation of Stalin and announce the death of "democracy" in the former Soviet Union. This would pave the way for a resurgence of aid to "democratic" organizations inside Russia, funneled covertly as well as overtly, and a slowly escalating series of trade sanctions designed to cripple the Russians economically, or at least make them feel the sting of Western wrath.
Posted at 10:15 am by R7fel
Military Halts Attack On Iran...Once Again
|Military Resistance Forced Shift on Iran Strike |
|by Gareth Porter|
The George W. Bush administration's shift from the military option of a massive strategic attack against Iran to a surgical strike against selected targets associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker earlier this month, appears to have been prompted not by new alarm at Iran's role in Iraq but by the explicit opposition of the nation's top military leaders to an unprovoked attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
The reorientation of the military threat was first signaled by passages on Iran in Bush's Jan. 10 speech and followed by only a few weeks a decisive rejection by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of a strategic attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Although scarcely mentioned in press reports of the speech, which was devoted almost entirely to announcing the troop "surge" in Iraq, Bush accused both Iran and Syria of "allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq." Bush also alleged that Iran was "providing material support for attacks on American troops."
Those passages were intended in part to put pressure on Iran, and were accompanied by an intensification of a campaign begun the previous month to seize Iranian officials inside Iraq. But according to Hillary Mann, who was director for Persian Gulf and Afghanistan Affairs on the National Security Council staff in 2003, they also provided a legal basis for a possible attack on Iran.
"I believe the president chose his words very carefully," says Mann, "and laid down a legal predicate that could be used to justify later military action against Iran."
Mann says her interpretation of the language is based on the claim by the White House of a right to attack another country in "anticipatory self-defense" based on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. That had been the legal basis cited by then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had in September 2002 in making the case for the invasion of Iraq.
The introduction of a new reason for striking Iran, which also implied a much more limited set of targets related to Iraq, followed a meeting between Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Dec. 13, 2006 in which the uniformed military leaders rejected a strike against Iran's nuclear program. Time magazine political columnist Joe Klein, reported last May that military and intelligence sources told him that Bush had asked the Joint Chiefs at the meeting about a possible strike against the Iranian nuclear program., and that they had unanimously opposed such an attack.
Mann says that she was also told by her own contacts in the Pentagon that the Joint Chiefs had expressed opposition to a strike against Iran.
The Joint Chiefs were soon joined in opposition to a strike on Iran by Admiral William Fallon, who was nominated to become CENTCOM commander in January. Mann says Pentagon contacts have also told her that Fallon made his opposition to war against Iran clear to the White House.
IPS reported last May that Fallon had indicated privately that he was determined to prevent an attack on Iran and even prepared to resign to do so. A source who met with Fallon at the time of his confirmation hearing quoted him as vowing that there would be "no war with Iran" while he was CENTCOM commander and as hinting very strongly that he would quit rather than go along with an attack.
Although he did not specifically refer to the Joint Chiefs, Fallon also suggested that other military leaders were opposing a strike against Iran, saying, "There are several of us who are trying to put the crazies back in the box," according to the same source.
Fallon's opposition to a strike against Iranian nuclear, military and economic targets would make it very difficult, if not impossible for the White House to carry out such an operation, according to military experts. As CENTCOM commander, Fallon has complete control over all military access to the region, says retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, an expert on military strategy who has taught at the National War College.
Douglas McGregor, a retired Army Lt. Col. who was a tank commander in the 1991 Gulf War and has taught at the National Defense University, agrees. "I find it hard to imagine that anything can happen in the area without the involvement of the Central Command," says McGregor.
The possibility that Fallon might object to an unprovoked attack on Iran or even resign over the issue represents a significant deterrent to such an attack.
Former NSC adviser Mann believes the Iraq-focused strategy is now aimed at averting any resignation threat by Fallon or other military leaders by carrying out a very limited strike that would be presented as a response to a specific incident in Iraq in which the deaths of US soldiers could be attributed to Iranian policy. She says she doubts Fallon and other military leaders would "fall on their swords" over such a strike.
Gardiner agrees that Fallon is unlikely to refuse to carry out such a limited strike under those circumstances.
Mann believes the Bush-Cheney purpose in advancing the strategy is to provoke Iranian retaliation. "The concern I have is that it would be just enough so Iranians would retaliate against US allies," she says.
But the issue of what evidence of Iranian complicity would be adequate to justify such a strike evidently remains a matter of debate within the administration. A story published by McClatchy newspapers Aug. 9 reported that Vice President Dick Cheney had argued some weeks earlier for a strike against camps in Iran allegedly used to train Iraqi Shiite militiamen fighting US troops if "hard new evidence" could be obtained of Iran's complicity in supporting anti-US forces in Iraq.
But Cheney and his allies have been frustrated in the search for such evidence. Mann notes that British forces in southern Iraq patrolled the border very aggressively for six months last year to find evidence of Iranian involvement in supplying weapons to Iraqi guerrillas but found nothing.
After several months of trying to establish specific links between Iraqis suspected of trafficking in weapons to a specific Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard contact, the US command has not claimed a single case of such a link. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the US commander for southern Iraq, where most of the Shiite militias operate, admitted in a Jul. 6 briefing that his troops had not captured "anybody that we can tie to Iran."
Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is known to be closely allied with Cheney on Iran policy, has betrayed impatience with a policy that depends on obtaining proof of Iranian complicity in attacks. On Jun. 11 he called for "strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
Lieberman repeated that position on Jul. 2, but thus far it has not prevailed.
(Inter Press Service)
Posted at 10:11 am by R7fel
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Explosive Charge Blows Up In US's Face
By Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - When the United States military command accused the Iranian Quds Force in January of providing the armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing US troops, it knew that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years, a review of the historical record of evidence on EFPs in Iraq shows.
The record also shows that the US command had considerable evidence that the Mahdi Army of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had received the technology and the training on how to use it from Hezbollah, rather than Iran.
The command, operating under close White House supervision, chose to deny these facts in making the dramatic accusation that became the main rationale for the present aggressive US stance toward Iran. Although the George W Bush administration initially limited the accusation to the Quds Force, it has recently begun to assert that top officials of the Iranian regime are responsible for arms that are killing US troops.
British and US officials observed from the beginning that the EFPs being used in Iraq closely resembled the ones used by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, both in their design and the techniques for using them.
Hezbollah was known as the world's most knowledgeable specialists in EFP manufacture and use, having perfected this during the 1990s in the military struggle with Israeli forces in Lebanon. It was widely recognized that it was Hezbollah that had passed on the expertise to Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups after the second Intifada began in 2000.
US intelligence also knew that Hezbollah was conducting the training of Mahdi Army militants on EFPs. In August 2005, Newsday published a report from correspondent Mohammed Bazzi that Shi'ite fighters had begun in early 2005 to copy Hezbollah techniques for building the bombs, as well as for carrying out roadside ambushes, citing both Iraqi and Lebanese officials.
In late November 2006, a senior intelligence official told both CNN and the New York Times that Hezbollah troops had trained as many as 2,000 Mahdi Army fighters in Lebanon.
The fact that the Mahdi Army's major military connection has always been with Hezbollah rather than Iran would also explain the presence in Iraq of the PRG-29, a shoulder-fired anti-armor weapon. Although US military briefers identified it last February as being Iranian-made, the RPG-29 is not manufactured by Iran but by the Russian Federation.
According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, RPG-29s were imported from Russia by Syria, then passed on to Hezbollah, which used them with devastating effectiveness against Israeli forces in the 2006 war. According to a June 2004 report on the well-informed military website Strategypage.com, RPG-29s were already turning up in Iraq, "apparently smuggled across the Syrian border".
The earliest EFPs appearing in Iraq in 2004 were so professionally made that they were probably constructed by Hezbollah specialists, according to a detailed account by British expert Michael Knights in Jane's Intelligence Review last year.
By late 2005, however, the British command had already found clear evidence that the Iraqi Shi'ites themselves were manufacturing their own EFPs. British Army Major General J B Dutton told reporters in November 2005 that the bombs were of varying degrees of sophistication.
Some of the EFPs required a "reasonably sophisticated factory", he said, while others required only a simple workshop, which he observed, could only mean that some of them were being made inside Iraq.
After British convoys in Maysan province were attacked by a series of EFP bombings in late May 2006, Knights recounts, British forces discovered a factory making them in Majar al-Kabir north of Basra in June.
In addition, the US military also had its own forensic evidence by the autumn of 2006 that EFPs used against its vehicles had been manufactured in Iraq, according to Knights. He cites photographic evidence of EFP strikes on US armored vehicles that "typically shows a mixture of clean penetrations from fully-formed EFP and spattering ..." That pattern reflected the fact that the locally made EFPs were imperfect, some of them forming the required shape to penetrate but some of them failing to do so.
Then US troops began finding EFP factories. Journalist Andrew Cockburn reported in the Los Angeles Times in mid-February that US troops had raided a Baghdad machine shop in November 2006 and discovered "a pile of copper discs, five inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order".
In a report on February 23, NBC Baghdad correspondent Jane Arraf quoted "senior military officials" as saying that US forces had "been finding an increasing number of the advanced roadside bombs being not just assembled but manufactured in machine shops here".
Nevertheless, the Bush administration decided to put the blame for the EFPs squarely on the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, after Bush agreed in autumn 2006 to target the Quds Force within Iran to make Iranian leaders feel vulnerable to US power. The allegedly exclusive Iranian manufacture of EFPs was the administration's only argument for holding the Quds Force responsible for their use against US forces.
At the February 11 military briefing presenting the case for this claim, one of the US military officials declared, "The explosive charges used by Iranian agents in Iraq need a special manufacturing process, which is available only in Iran." The briefer insisted that there was no evidence that they were being made in Iraq.
That lynchpin of the administration's EFP narrative began to break down almost immediately, however. On February 23, NBC's Arraf confronted Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, who had been out in front in January promoting the new Iranian EFP line, with the information she had obtained from other senior military officials that an increasing number of machine shops manufacturing EFPs had been discovered by US troops.
Odierno began to walk the Iranian EFP story back. He said the EFPs had "started to come from Iran", but he admitted "some of the technologies" were "probably being constructed here".
The following day, US troops found yet another EFP factory near Baqubah, with copper discs that appeared to be made with a high degree of precision, but which could not be said with any certainty to have originated in Iran.
The explosive expert who claimed at the February briefing that EFPs could only be made in Iran was then made available to the New York Times to explain away the new find. Major Marty Weber now backed down from his earlier statement and admitted that there were "copy cat" EFPs being machined in Iraq that looked identical to those allegedly made in Iran to the untrained eye.
Weber insisted that such Iraqi-made EFPs had slight imperfections which made them "much less likely to pierce armor". But NBC's Arraf had reported the previous week that a senor military official had confirmed to her that the EFPs made in Iraqi shops were indeed quite able to penetrate US armor. The impact of those weapons "isn't as clean", the official said, but they are "almost as effective" as the best-made EFPs.
The idea that only Iranian EFPs penetrate armor would be a surprise to Israeli intelligence, which has reported that EFPs manufactured by Hamas guerrillas in their own machine shops during 2006 had penetrated eight inches of Israeli steel armor in four separate incidents in September and November, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Center in Tel Aviv.
The Arraf story was ignored by the news media, and the Bush administration has continued to assert the Iranian EFP charge as though it had never been questioned.
It soon became such an accepted part of the media narrative on Iran and Iraq that the only issue about which reporters bother to ask questions is whether the top leaders of the Iranian government have approved the alleged Quds Force operation. Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in June 2005.
Posted at 08:57 am by R7fel
Monday, October 29, 2007
Cheney's Plan for Iran Attack Starts With Israeli Missile Strike
By Gregor Peter Schmitz and Cordula Meyer
US Vice President Dick Cheney -- the power behind the throne, the eminence grise, the man with the (very) occasional grandfatherly smile -- is notorious for his propensity for secretiveness and behind-the-scenes manipulation. He's capable of anything, say friends as well as enemies. Given this reputation, it's no big surprise that Cheney has already asked for a backroom analysis of how a war with Iran might begin.
In the scenario concocted by Cheney's strategists, Washington's first step would be to convince Israel to fire missiles at Iran's uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Tehran would retaliate with its own strike, providing the US with an excuse to attack military targets and nuclear facilities in Iran.
This information was leaked by an official close to the vice president. Cheney himself hasn't denied engaging in such war games. For years, in fact, he's been open about his opinion that an attack on Iran, a member of US President George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil," is inevitable.
Given these not-too-secret designs, Democrats and Republicans alike have wondered what to make of the still mysterious Israeli bombing run in Syria on Sept. 6. Was it part of an existing war plan? A test run, perhaps? For days after the attack, one question dominated conversation at Washington receptions: How great is the risk of war, really?
Grandiose Plans, East and West
In the September strike, Israeli bombers were likely targeting a nuclear reactor under construction, parts of which are alleged to have come from North Korea. It is possible that key secretaries in the Bush cabinet even tried to stop Israel. To this day, the administration has neither confirmed nor commented on the attack.
Nevertheless, in Washington, Israel's strike against Syria has revived the specter of war with Iran. For the neoconservatives it could represent a glimmer of hope that the grandiose dream of a democratic Middle East has not yet been buried in the ashes of Iraq. But for realists in the corridors of the State Department and the Pentagon, military action against Iran is a nightmare they have sought to avert by asking a simple question: "What then?"
The Israeli strike, or something like it, could easily mark the beginning of the "World War III," which President Bush warned against last week. With his usual apocalyptic rhetoric, he said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could lead the region to a new world war if his nation builds a nuclear bomb.
Conditions do look ripe for disaster. Iran continues to acquire and develop the fundamental prerequisites for a nuclear weapon. The mullah regime receives support -- at least moral support, if not technology -- from a newly strengthened Russia, which these days reaches for every chance to provoke the United States. President Vladimir Putin's own (self-described) "grandiose plan" to restore Russia's armed forces includes a nuclear buildup. The war in Iraq continues to drag on without an end in sight or even an opportunity for US troops to withdraw in a way that doesn't smack of retreat. In Afghanistan, NATO troops are struggling to prevent a return of the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists. The Palestinian conflict could still reignite on any front.
In Washington, Bush has 15 months left in office. He may have few successes to show for himself, but he's already thinking of his legacy. Bush says he wants diplomacy to settle the nuclear dispute with Tehran, and hopes international pressure will finally convince Ahmadinejad to come to his senses. Nevertheless, the way pressure has been building in Washington, preparations for war could be underway.
In late September, the US Senate voted to declare the 125,000-man Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. High-ranking US generals have accused Iran of waging a "proxy war" against the United States through its support of Shiite militias in Iraq. And strategists at the Pentagon, apparently at Cheney's request, have developed detailed plans for an attack against Tehran.
Instead of the previous scenario of a large-scale bombardment of the country's many nuclear facilities, the current emphasis is, once again, on so-called surgical strikes, primarily against the quarters of the Revolutionary Guards. This sort of attack would be less massive than a major strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Conservative think tanks and pundits who sense this could be their last chance to implement their agenda in the Middle East have supported and disseminated such plans in the press. Despite America's many failures in Iraq, these hawks have urged the weakened president to act now, accusing him of having lost sight of his principal agenda and no longer daring to apply his own doctrine of pre-emptive strikes.
The notion of war with Iran has spilled over into other circles, too. Last Monday Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, made it clear that the president would first need Congressional approval to launch an attack. Meanwhile, Republican candidates for the White House have debated whether they would even allow such details to get in their way. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said he would consult his attorneys to determine whether the US Constitution does, in fact, require a president to ask for Congressional approval before going to war. Vietnam veteran John McCain said war with Iran was "maybe closer to reality than we are discussing tonight."
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has also adopted a hawkish stance, voting in favor of the Senate measure to classify the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Her rivals criticized Clinton for giving the administration a blank check to go to war.
The US military is building a base in Iraq less than 10 kilometers (about six miles) from Iran's border. The facility, known as Combat Outpost Shocker, is meant for American soldiers preventing Iranian weapons from being smuggled into Iraq. But it's also rumored that Bush authorized US intelligence agencies in April to run sabotage missions against the mullah regime on Iranian soil.
Gary Sick is an expert on Iran who served as a military adviser under three presidents. He believes that such preparations mark a significant shift in the government's strategy. "Since August," says Sick, "the emphasis is no longer on the Iranian nuclear threat," but on Iran's support for terrorism in Iraq. "This is a complete change and is potentially dangerous."
It would be relatively easy for Bush to prove that Tehran, by supporting insurgents in Iraq, is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers. It might be harder to prove that Iran's nuclear plans pose an immediate threat to the world. Besides, the nuclear argument is reminiscent of an embarrassing precedent, when the Bush administration used the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction -- which he didn't -- as a reason to invade Iraq. Even if the evidence against Tehran proves to be more damning, the American public will find it difficult to swallow this argument again.
The forces urging a diplomatic resolution also look stronger than they were before Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wants the next step to be a third round of even tighter sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. Rice has powerful allies at the Pentagon: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral William Fallon, head of US Central Command, which is responsible for American forces throughout the region.
Rice and her cohorts all favor diplomacy, partly because they know the military is under strain. After four years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US lacks manpower for another major war, especially one against a relatively well-prepared adversary. "For many senior people at the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department, a war would be sheer lunacy," says security expert Sick.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and now a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, agrees. A war against Tehran would be "a disaster for the entire world," says Riedel, who worries about a "battlefield extending from the Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent." Nevertheless, he believes there is a "realistic risk of a military conflict," because both sides look willing to carry things to the brink.
On the one hand, says Riedel, Iran is playing with fire, challenging the West by sending weapons to Shiite insurgents in Iraq. On the other hand, hotheads in Washington are by no means powerless. Although many neoconservative hawks have left the Bush administration, Cheney remains their reliable partner. "The vice president is the closest adviser to the president, and a dominant figure," says Riedel. "One shouldn't underestimate how much power he still wields."
'Is it 1938 Again?'
Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran last week also played into the hands of hardliners in Washington, who read it as proof that Putin isn't serious about joining the West's effort to convince Tehran to abandon its drive for a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the countries bordering the Caspian Sea, including Central Asian nations Washington has courted energetically in recent years, have said they would not allow a war against Tehran to be launched from their territory.
Cheney derives much of his support from hawks outside the administration who fear their days are as numbered as the President's. "The neocons see Iran as their last chance to prove something," says analyst Riedel. This aim is reflected in their tone. Conservative columnist Norman Podhoretz, for example -- a father figure to all neocons -- wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he "hopes and prays" that Bush will finally bomb Iran. Podhoretz sees the United States engaged in a global war against "Islamofascism," a conflict he defines as World War IV, and he likens Iran to Nazi Germany. "Is it 1938 again?" he asks in a speech he repeats regularly at conferences.
Podhoretz is by no means an eccentric outsider. He now serves as a senior foreign-policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani. President Bush has also met with Podhoretz at the White House to hear his opinions.
Nevertheless, most experts in Washington warn against attacking Tehran. They assume the Iranians would retaliate. "It would be foolish to believe surgical strikes will be enough," says Riedel, who believes that precision attacks would quickly escalate to war.
Former presidential adviser Sick thinks Iran would strike back with terrorist attacks. "The generals of the Revolutionary Guard have had several years to think about asymmetrical warfare," says Sick. "They probably have a few rather interesting ideas."
According to Sick, detonating well-placed bombs at oil terminals in the Persian Gulf would be enough to wreak havoc. "Insurance costs would skyrocket, causing oil prices to triple and triggering a global recession," Sick warns. "The economic consequences would be enormous, far greater than anything we have experienced with Iraq so far."
Because the catastrophic consequences of an attack on Iran are obvious, many in Washington have a fairly benign take on the current round of saber rattling. They believe the sheer dread of war is being used to bolster diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis and encourage hesitant members of the United Nations Security Council to take more decisive action. The Security Council, this argument goes, will be more likely to approve tighter sanctions if it believes that war is the only alternative.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Posted at 12:44 pm by R7fel
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Romney Open to Iran Bombardment
|Monday, October 22, 2007 5:39 PM|
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Republican Mitt Romney said Thursday he would be willing to use a military blockade or "bombardment of some kind" to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.
The former Massachusetts governor's comments came as the Bush administration announced new sanctions designed to isolate the government in Tehran. Romney applauded the move, while several Democratic presidential contenders spoke out against it - and used it as an opportunity to criticize front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Said Edwards: "I learned a clear lesson from the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2002: If you give this president an inch, he will take a mile and launch a war. Senator Clinton apparently learned a different lesson."
Clinton voted last month for legislation sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Kyl designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, the only Democratic senator running for president who did so. Edwards and other critics say the measure could pave the way toward American military action there.
In a statement Thursday, presidential rival Chris Dodd echoed Edwards' argument.
"The aggressive actions taken today by the administration absent any corresponding diplomatic action is exactly what we all should have known was coming when we considered our vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, and smacks, frankly, of a dangerous step toward armed confrontation with Iran," Dodd said.
Romney, who has been advocating a hard line against Iran throughout his presidential campaign, said military action would be necessary if severe economic and diplomatic sanctions don't convince Iranian leaders to abandon pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
The Iranian government contends its program is aimed toward providing nuclear power.
"If for some reasons they continue down their course of folly toward nuclear ambition, then I would take military action if that's available to us," Romney told a crowd of doctors and nurses during a question period that followed a health care speech.
He added: "That's an option that's on the table. And it's is not something which we'll spell out specifically. I really can't lay out exactly how that would be done, but we have a number of options from blockade to bombardment of some kind. And that's something we very much have to keep on the table, and we will ready ourselves to be able to take, because, frankly, I think it's unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons."
Last year, while still governor, Romney refused to provide a security escort or any state services in support of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who visited Massachusetts to speak at Harvard University.
In January, Romney traveled to a security conference in Israel, where he called for economic sanctions against Iran similar to those against South Africa during its apartheid period.
Subsequently, he has called for indicting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying "Israel's Zionist regime should be wiped off the map." Romney suggested using the U.N.'s Genocide Convention against the leader on charges of inciting genocide.
In September, he also chastised Columbia University for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak on its campus, and railed against the Iranian leader after he asked to visit ground zero.
Posted at 09:58 pm by R7fel
Friday, October 12, 2007
AIPAC and American Politics
Why Dems and Republicans Bow to the Israel Lobby
By John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
"New York Times" -- - The following is an excerpt from the Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).
America is about to enter a presidential election year. Although the outcome is of course impossible to predict at this stage, certain features of the campaign are easy to foresee. The candidates will inevitably differ on various domestic issues -- health care, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, education, immigration -- and spirited debates are certain to erupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well. What course of action should the United States pursue in Iraq? What is the best response to the crisis in Darfur, Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia's hostility to NATO, and China's rising power? How should the United States address global warming, combat terrorism, and reverse the erosion of its international image? On these and many other issues, we can confidently expect lively disagreements among the various candidates.
Yet on one subject, we can be equally confident that the candidates will speak with one voice. In 2008, as in previous election years, serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country -- Israel -- as well as their determination to maintain unyielding U.S. support for the Jewish state. Each candidate will emphasize that he or she fully appreciates the multitude of threats facing Israel and make it clear that, if elected, the United States will remain firmly committed to defending Israel's interests under any and all circumstances. None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside.
This observation is hardly a bold prediction, because presidential aspirants were already proclaiming their support for Israel in early 2007. The process began in January, when four potential candidates spoke to Israel's annual Herzliya Conference on security issues. As Joshua Mitnick reported in Jewish Week, they were "seemingly competing to see who can be most strident in defense of the Jewish State." Appearing via satellite link, John Edwards, the Democratic party's 2004 vice presidential candidate, told his Israeli listeners that "your future is our future" and said that the bond between the United States and Israel "will never be broken." Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney spoke of being "in a country I love with people I love" and, aware of Israel's deep concern about a possible nuclear Iran, proclaimed that "it is time for the world to speak three truths: (1) Iran must be stopped; (2) Iran can be stopped; (3) Iran will be stopped!" Senator John McCain (R-AZ) declared that "when it comes to the defense of Israel, we simply cannot compromise," while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told the audience that "Israel is facing the greatest danger for [sic] its survival since the 1967 victory."
Shortly thereafter, in early February, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) spoke in New York before the local chapter of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where she said that in this "moment of great difficulty for Israel and great peril for Israel ... what is vital is that we stand by our friend and our ally and we stand by our own values. Israel is a beacon of what's right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism." One of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), spoke a month later before an AIPAC audience in Chicago. Obama, who has expressed some sympathy for the Palestinians' plight in the past and made a brief reference to Palestinian "suffering" at a campaign appearance in March 2007, was unequivocal in his praise for Israel and made it manifestly clear that he would do nothing to change the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Other presidential hopefuls, including Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, have expressed pro-Israel sentiments with equal or greater ardor.
What explains this behavior? Why is there so little disagreement among these presidential hopefuls regarding Israel, when there are profound disagreements among them on almost every other important issue facing the United States and when it is apparent that America's Middle East policy has gone badly awry? Why does Israel get a free pass from presidential candidates, when its own citizens are often deeply critical of its present policies and when these same presidential candidates are all too willing to criticize many of the things that other countries do? Why does Israel, and no other country in the world, receive such consistent deference from America's leading politicians?
Some might say that it is because Israel is a vital strategic asset for the United States. Indeed, it is said to be an indispensable partner in the "war on terror." Others will answer that there is a powerful moral case for providing Israel with unqualified support, because it is the only country in the region that "shares our values." But neither of these arguments stands up to fair-minded scrutiny. Washington's close relationship with Jerusalem makes it harder, not easier, to defeat the terrorists who are now targeting the United States, and it simultaneously undermines America's standing with important allies around the world. Now that the Cold War is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public, or even raise the possibility.
There is also no compelling moral rationale for America's uncritical and uncompromising relationship with Israel. There is a strong moral case for Israel's existence and there are good reasons for the United States to be committed to helping Israel if its survival is in jeopardy. But given Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, moral considerations might suggest that the United States pursue a more evenhanded policy toward the two sides, and maybe even lean toward the Palestinians.
Yet we are unlikely to hear that sentiment expressed by anyone who wants to be president, or anyone who would like to occupy a position in Congress. The real reason why American politicians are so deferential is the political power of the Israel lobby. The lobby is a loose coalition of individuals and organizations that actively works to move U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. As we will describe in detail, it is not a single, unified movement with a central leadership, and it is certainly not a cabal or conspiracy that "controls" U.S. foreign policy. It is simply a powerful interest group, made up of both Jews and gentiles, whose acknowledged purpose is to press Israel's case within the United States and influence American foreign policy in ways that its members believe will benefit the Jewish state. The various groups that make up the lobby do not agree on every issue, although they share the desire to promote a special relationship between the United States and Israel. Like the efforts of other ethnic lobbies and interest groups, the activities of the Israel lobby's various elements are legitimate forms of democratic political participation, and they are for the most part consistent with America's long tradition of interest group activity.
Because the Israel lobby has gradually become one of the most powerful interest groups in the United States, candidates for high office pay close attention to its wishes. The individuals and groups in the United States that make up the lobby care deeply about Israel, and they do not want American politicians to criticize it, even when criticism might be warranted and might even be in Israel's own interest. Instead, these groups want U.S. leaders to treat Israel as if it were the fifty-first state. Democrats and Republicans alike fear the lobby's clout. They all know that any politician who challenges its policies stands little chance of becoming president.
The Lobby and the U.S. Middle East Policy
The lobby's political power is important not because it affects what presidential candidates say during a campaign, but because it has a significant influence on American foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. America's actions in that volatile region have enormous consequences for people all around the world, especially the people who live there. Just consider how the Bush administration's misbegotten war in Iraq has affected the long suffering people of that shattered country: tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes, and a vicious sectarian war taking place with no end in sight. The war has also been a strategic disaster for the United States and has alarmed and endangered U.S. allies both inside and outside the region. One could hardly imagine a more vivid or tragic demonstration of the impact the United States can have -- for good or ill -- when it unleashes the power at its disposal.
The United States has been involved in the Middle East since the early days of the Republic, with much of the activity centered on educational programs or missionary work. For some, a biblically inspired fascination with the Holy Land and the role of Judaism in its history led to support for the idea of restoring the Jewish people to a homeland there, a view that was embraced by certain religious leaders and, in a general way, by a few U.S. politicians. But it is a mistake to see this history of modest and for the most part private engagement as the taproot of America's role in the region since World War II, and especially its extraordinary relationship with Israel today.
Between the routing of the Barbary pirates two hundred years ago and World War II, the United States played no significant security role anywhere in the region and U.S. leaders did not aspire to one. Woodrow Wilson did endorse the 1917 Balfour Declaration (which expressed Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine), but Wilson did virtually nothing to advance this goal. Indeed, the most significant U.S. involvement during this period -- a fact-finding mission dispatched to the region in 1919 by the Paris Peace Conference under the leadership of Americans Henry Churchill King and Charles Crane -- concluded that the local population opposed continued Zionist inroads and recommended against the establishment of an independent Jewish homeland. Yet as the historian Margaret Macmillan notes, "Nobody paid the slightest attention." The possibility of a U.S. mandate over portions of the Middle East was briefly considered but never pursued, and Britain and France ended up dividing the relevant portions of the Ottoman Empire between themselves.
The United States has played an important and steadily increasing role in Middle East security issues since World War II, driven initially by oil, then by anti-communism and, over time, by its growing relationship with Israel. America's first significant involvement in the security politics of the region was a nascent partnership with Saudi Arabia in the mid-1940s (intended by both parties as a check on British ambitions in the region), and its first formal alliance commitments were Turkey's inclusion in NATO in 1952 and the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact in 1954. After backing Israel's founding in 1948, U.S. leaders tried to strike a balanced position between Israel and the Arabs and carefully avoided making any formal commitment to the Jewish state for fear of jeopardizing more important strategic interests. This situation changed gradually over the ensuing decades, in response to events like the Six-Day War, Soviet arms sales to various Arab states, and the growing influence of pro-Israel groups in the United States. Given this dramatic transformation in America's role in the region, it makes little sense to try to explain current U.S. policy -- and especially the lavish support that is now given to Israel -- by referring to the religious beliefs of a bygone era or the radically different forms of past American engagement. There was nothing inevitable or predetermined about the current special relationship between the United States and Israel.
Since the Six-Day War of 1967, a salient feature -- and arguably the central focus -- of America's Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel. For the past four decades, in fact, the United States has provided Israel with a level of material and diplomatic support that dwarfs what it provides to other countries. That aid is largely unconditional: no matter what Israel does, the level of support remains for the most part unchanged. In particular, the United States consistently favors Israel over the Palestinians and rarely puts pressure on the Jewish state to stop building settlements and roads in the West Bank. Although Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush openly favored the creation of a viable Palestinian state, neither was willing to use American leverage to make that outcome a reality.
The United States has also undertaken policies in the broader Middle East that reflected Israel's preferences. Since the early 1990s, for example, American policy toward Iran has been heavily influenced by the wishes of successive Israeli governments. Tehran has made several attempts in recent years to improve relations with Washington and settle outstanding differences, but Israel and its American supporters have been able to stymie any détente between Iran and the United States, and to keep the two countries far apart. Another example is the Bush administration's behavior during Israel's war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Almost every country in the world harshly criticized Israel's bombing campaign -- a campaign that killed more than one thousand Lebanese, most of them civilians -- but the United States did not. Instead, it helped Israel prosecute the war, with prominent members of both political parties openly defending Israel's behavior. This unequivocal support for Israel undermined the pro-American government in Beirut, strengthened Hezbollah, and drove Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah closer together, results that were hardly good for either Washington or Jerusalem.
Many policies pursued on Israel's behalf now jeopardize U.S. national security. The combination of unstinting U.S. support for Israel and Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory has fueled anti-Americanism throughout the Arab and Islamic world, thereby increasing the threat from international terrorism and making it harder for Washington to deal with other problems, such as shutting down Iran's nuclear program. Because the United States is now so unpopular within the broader region, Arab leaders who might otherwise share U.S. goals are reluctant to help us openly, a predicament that cripples U.S. efforts to deal with a host of regional challenges. This situation, which has no equal in American history, is due primarily to the activities of the Israel lobby. While other special interest groups -- including ethnic lobbies representing Cuban Americans, Irish Americans, Armenian Americans, and Indian Americans -- have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions that they favored, no ethnic lobby has diverted that policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest. The Israel lobby has successfully convinced many Americans that American and Israeli interests are essentially identical. In fact, they are not. Although this book focuses primarily on the lobby's influence on U.S. foreign policy and its negative effect on American interests, the lobby's impact has been unintentionally harmful to Israel as well. Take Israel's settlements, which even a writer as sympathetic to Israel as Leon Wieseltier recently called a "moral and strategic blunder of historic proportions."
Israel's situation would be better today if the United States had long ago used its financial and diplomatic leverage to convince Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and instead helped Israel create a viable Palestinian state on those lands. Washington did not do so, however, largely because it would have been politically costly for any president to attempt it. As noted above, Israel would have been much better off if the United States had told it that its military strategy for fighting the 2006 Lebanon war was doomed to fail, rather than reflexively endorsing and facilitating it. By making it difficult to impossible for the U.S. government to criticize Israel's conduct and press it to change some of its counterproductive policies, the lobby may even be jeopardizing the long-term prospects of the Jewish state.
The Lobby's Modus Operandi
It is difficult to talk about the lobby's influence on American foreign policy, at least in the mainstream media in the United States, without being accused of anti-Semitism or labeled a self-hating Jew. It is just as difficult to criticize Israeli policies or question U.S. support for Israel in polite company. America's generous and unconditional support for Israel is rarely questioned, because groups in the lobby use their power to make sure that public discourse echoes its strategic and moral arguments for the special relationship. The response to former President Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid perfectly illustrates this phenomenon.
Carter's book is a personal plea for renewed American engagement in the peace process, based largely on his considerable experience with these issues over the past three decades. Reasonable people may challenge his evidence or disagree with his conclusions, but his ultimate goal is peace between these two peoples, and Carter unambiguously defends Israel's right to live in peace and security. Yet because he suggests that Israel's policies in the Occupied Territories resemble South Africa's apartheid regime and said publicly that pro-Israel groups make it hard for U.S. leaders to pressure Israel to make peace, a number of these same groups launched a vicious smear campaign against him. Not only was Carter publicly accused of being an anti-Semite and a "Jew-hater," some critics even charged him with being sympathetic to Nazis. Since the lobby seeks to keep the present relationship intact, and because in fact its strategic and moral arguments are so weak, it has little choice but to try to stifle or marginalize serious discussion.
Yet despite the lobby's efforts, a considerable number of Americans -- almost 40 percent -- recognize that U.S. support for Israel is one of the main causes of anti-Americanism around the world. Among elites, the number is substantially higher. Furthermore, a surprising number of Americans understand that the lobby has a significant, not always positive influence on U.S. foreign policy. In a national poll taken in October 2006, 39 percent of the respondents said that they believe that the "work of the Israeli lobby on Congress and the Bush administration has been a key factor for going to war in Iraq and now confronting Iran." In a 2006 survey of international relations scholars in the United States, 66 percent of the respondents said that they agreed with the statement "the Israel lobby has too much influence over U.S. foreign policy." While the American people are generally sympathetic to Israel, many of them are critical of particular Israeli policies and would be willing to withhold American aid if Israel's actions are seen to be contrary to U.S. interests.
Of course, the American public would be even more aware of the lobby's influence and more tough-minded with regard to Israel and its special relationship with the United States if there were a more open discussion of these matters. Still, one might wonder why, given the public's views about the lobby and Israel, politicians and policy makers are so unwilling to criticize Israel and to make aid to Israel conditional on whether its actions benefit the United States. The American people are certainly not demanding that their politicians support Israel down the line. In essence, there is a distinct gulf between how the broader public thinks about Israel and its relationship with the United States and how governing elites in Washington conduct American policy.
The main reason for this gap is the lobby's formidable reputation inside the Beltway. Not only does it exert significant influence over the policy process in Democratic and Republican administrations alike, but it is even more powerful on Capitol Hill. The journalist Michael Massing reports that a congressional staffer sympathetic to Israel told him, "We can count on well over half the House -- 250 to 300 members -- to do reflexively whatever AIPAC wants." Similarly, Steven Rosen, the former AIPAC official who has been indicted for allegedly passing classified government documents to Israel, illustrated AIPAC's power for the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg by putting a napkin in front of him and saying, "In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin." These are not idle boasts. As will become clear, when issues relating to Israel come to the fore, Congress almost always votes to endorse the lobby's positions, and usually in overwhelming numbers.
Why Is it so Hard to Talk About the Israel Lobby?
Because the United States is a pluralist democracy where freedom of speech and association are guaranteed, it was inevitable that interest groups would come to dominate the political process. For a nation of immigrants, it was equally inevitable that some of these interest groups would form along ethnic lines and that they would try to influence U.S. foreign policy in various ways. Cuban Americans have lobbied to maintain the embargo on Castro's regime, Armenian Americans have pushed Washington to acknowledge the 1915 genocide and, more recently, to limit U.S. relations with Azerbaijan, and Indian Americans have rallied to support the recent security treaty and nuclear cooperation agreements. Such activities have been a central feature of American political life since the founding of the country, and pointing them out is rarely controversial.
Yet it is clearly more difficult for Americans to talk openly about the Israel lobby. Part of the reason is the lobby itself, which is both eager to advertise its clout and quick to challenge anyone who suggests that its influence is too great or might be detrimental to U.S. interests. There are, however, other reasons why it is harder to have a candid discussion about the impact of the Israel lobby.
To begin with, questioning the practices and ramifications of the Israel lobby may appear to some to be tantamount to questioning the legitimacy of Israel itself. Because some states still refuse to recognize Israel and some critics of Israel and the lobby do question its legitimacy, many of its supporters may see even well-intentioned criticism as an implicit challenge to Israel's existence. Given the strong feelings that many people have for Israel, and especially its important role as a safe haven for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and as a central focus of contemporary Jewish identity, there is bound to be a hostile and defensive reaction when people think its legitimacy or its existence is under attack.
But in fact, an examination of Israel's policies and the efforts of its American supporters does not imply an anti-Israel bias, just as an examination of the political activities of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) does not imply bias against older citizens. We are not challenging Israel's right to exist or questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state. There are those who maintain that Israel should never have been created, or who want to see Israel transformed from a Jewish state into a bi-national democracy. We do not. On the contrary, we believe the history of the Jewish people and the norm of national self-determination provide ample justification for a Jewish state. We think the United States should stand willing to come to Israel's assistance if its survival were in jeopardy. And though our primary focus is on the Israel lobby's negative impact on U.S. foreign policy, we are also convinced that its influence has become harmful to Israel as well. In our view, both effects are regrettable.
In addition, the claim that an interest group whose ranks are mostly Jewish has a powerful, not to mention negative, influence on U.S. foreign policy is sure to make some Americans deeply uncomfortable -- and possibly fearful and angry -- because it sounds like a charge lifted from the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that well-known anti-Semitic forgery that purported to reveal an all-powerful Jewish cabal exercising secret control over the world.
Any discussion of Jewish political power takes place in the shadow of two thousand years of history, especially the centuries of very real anti-Semitism in Europe. Christians massacred thousands of Jews during the Crusades, expelled them en masse from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and other places between 1290 and 1497, and confined them to ghettos in other parts of Europe. Jews were violently oppressed during the Spanish Inquisition, murderous pogroms took place in Eastern Europe and Russia on numerous occasions, and other forms of anti-Semitic bigotry were wide spread until recently. This shameful record culminated in the Nazi Holocaust, which killed nearly six million Jews. Jews were also oppressed in parts of the Arab world, though much less severely.
Given this long history of persecution, American Jews are understandably sensitive to any argument that sounds like someone is blaming them for policies gone awry. This sensitivity is compounded by the memory of bizarre conspiracy theories of the sort laid out in the Protocols. Dire warnings of secretive "Jewish influence" remain a staple of neo-Nazis and other extremists, such as the hate-mongering former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, which reinforces Jewish concerns even more.
A key element of such anti-Semitic accusations is the claim that Jews exercise illegitimate influence by "controlling" banks, the media, and other key institutions. Thus, if someone says that press coverage in the United States tends to favor Israel over its opponents, this may sound to some like the old canard that "Jews control the media." Similarly, if someone points out that American Jews have a rich tradition of giving money to both philanthropic and political causes, it sounds like they are suggesting that "Jewish money" is buying political influence in an underhanded or conspiratorial way. Of course, anyone who gives money to a political campaign does so in order to advance some political cause, and virtually all interest groups hope to mold public opinion and are interested in getting favorable media coverage.
Evaluating the role of any interest group's campaign contributions, lobbying efforts, and other political activities ought to be a fairly uncontroversial exercise, but given past anti-Semitism, one can understand why it is easier to talk about these matters when discussing the impact of the pharmaceutical lobby, labor unions, arms manufacturers, Indian-American groups, etc., rather than the Israel lobby. Making this discussion of pro-Israel groups and individuals in the United States even more difficult is the age-old charge of "dual loyalty." According to this old canard, Jews in the diaspora were perpetual aliens who could never assimilate and be good patriots, because they were more loyal to each other than to the country in which they lived. The fear today is that Jews who support Israel will be seen as disloyal Americans. As Hyman Bookbinder, the former Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, once commented, "Jews react viscerally to the suggestion that there is something unpatriotic" about their support for Israel.
Let us be clear: we categorically reject all of these anti-Semitic claims. In our view, it is perfectly legitimate for any American to have a significant attachment to a foreign country. Indeed, Americans are permitted to hold dual citizenship and to serve in foreign armies, unless, of course, the other country is at war with the United States. As noted above, there are numerous examples of ethnic groups in America working hard to persuade the U.S. government, as well as their fellow citizens, to support the foreign country for which they feel a powerful bond. Foreign governments are usually aware of the activities of sympathetic ethnically based interest groups, and they have naturally sought to use them to influence the U.S. government and advance their own foreign policy goals. Jewish Americans are no different from their fellow citizens in this regard.
The Israel lobby is not a cabal or conspiracy or anything of the sort. It is engaged in good old-fashioned interest group politics, which is as American as apple pie. Pro-Israel groups in the United States are engaged in the same enterprise as other interest groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the AARP, or professional associations like the American Petroleum Institute, all of which also work hard to influence congressional legislation and presidential priorities, and which, for the most part, operate in the open.
With a few exceptions, to be discussed in subsequent chapters, the lobby's actions are thoroughly American and legitimate.
We do not believe the lobby is all-powerful, or that it controls important institutions in the United States. As we will discuss in several subsequent chapters, there are a number of cases where the lobby did not get its way. Nevertheless, there is an abundance of evidence that the lobby wields impressive influence. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most important pro-Israel groups, used to brag about its own power on its website, not only by listing its impressive achievements but also by displaying quotations from prominent politicians that attested to its ability to influence events in ways that benefit Israel. For example, its website used to include a statement from former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt telling an AIPAC gathering, "Without your constant support ... and all your fighting on a daily basis to strengthen [the U.S.-Israeli relationship], it would not be." Even the out spoken Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is often quick to brand Israel's critics as anti-Semites, wrote in a memoir that "my generation of Jews...became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fundraising effort in the history of democracy. We did a truly great job, as far as we allowed ourselves, and were allowed, to go."
J. J. Goldberg, the editor of the Jewish weekly newspaper the Forward and the author of Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, nicely captures the difficulty of talking about the lobby: "It seems as though we're forced to choose between Jews holding vast and pernicious control or Jewish influence being nonexistent." In fact, he notes, "somewhere in the middle is a reality that none wants to discuss, which is that there is an entity called the Jewish community made up of a group of organizations and public figures that's part of the political rough-and-tumble. There's nothing wrong with playing the game like everybody else." We agree completely. But we think it is fair and indeed necessary to examine the consequences that this "rough-and-tumble" interest group politics can have on America and the world.
Posted at 09:06 pm by R7fel
The Sino-Russian Alliance
Challenging America's Ambitions in Eurasia
By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
"But if the middle space [Russia and the former Soviet Union] rebuffs the West [the European Union and America], becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South [Middle East] or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor [China], then America's primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite. Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners [the Franco-German entente] from its perch on the western periphery [Europe] would automatically spell the end of America's participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space [e.g. Russia]."
-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)
Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion states that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." These precepts of physics can also be used in the social sciences, specifically with reference to social relations and geo-politics.
America and Britain, the Anglo-American alliance, have engaged in an ambitious project to control global energy resources. Their actions have resulted in a series of complicated reactions, which have established a Eurasian-based coalition which is preparing to challenge the Anglo-American axis.
Encircling Russia and China: Anglo-American Global Ambitions Backfire
"Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force — military force — in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way."
-Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany (February 11, 2007)
What American leaders and officials called the "New World Order" is what the Chinese and Russians consider a "Unipolar World." This is the vision or hallucination, depending on perspective, that has bridged the Sino-Russian divide between Beijing and Moscow.
China and Russia are well aware of the fact that they are targets of the Anglo-American alliance. Their mutual fears of encirclement have brought them together. It is no accident that in the same year that NATO bombarded Yugoslavia, President Jiang Zemin of China and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia made an anticipated joint declaration at a historic summit in December of 1999 that revealed that China and the Russian Federation would join hands to resist the "New World Order." The seeds for this Sino-Russian declaration were in fact laid in 1996 when both sides declared that they opposed the global imposition of single-state hegemony.
Both Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin stated that all nation-states should be treated equally, enjoy security, respect each other's sovereignty, and most importantly not interfere in the internal affairs of other nation-states. These statements were directed at the U.S. government and its partners.
The Chinese and Russians also called for the establishment of a more equitable economic and political global order. Both nations also indicated that America was behind separatist movements in their respective countries. They also underscored American-led amibitions to balkanize and finlandize the nation-states of Eurasia. Influential Americans such as Zbigniew Brzezinski had already advocated for de-centralizing and eventually dividing up the Russian Federation.
Both the Chinese and Russians issued a statement warning that the creation of an international missile shield and the contravention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) would destabilize the international environment and polarize the globe. In 1999, the Chinese and Russians were aware of what was to come and the direction that America was headed towards. In June 2002, less than a year before the onslaught of the "Global War on Terror," George W. Bush Jr. announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.
On July 24, 2001, less than two months before September 11, 2001, China and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. The latter is a softly worded mutual defence pact against the U.S., NATO, and the U.S. sponsored Asian military network which was surrounding China. 
The military pact of the Shanghai Treaty Organization (SCO) also follows the same softly worded format. It is also worth noting that Article 12 of the 2001 Sino-Russian bilateral treaty stipulates that China and Russia will work together to maintain the global strategic balance, "observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability," and "promote the process of nuclear disarmament."  This seems to be an insinuation about a nuclear threat posed from the United States.
Standing in the Way of America and Britain: A "Chinese-Russian-Iranian Coalition"
As a result of the Anglo-American drive to encircle and ultimately dismantle China and Russia, Moscow and Beijing have joined ranks and the SCO has slowly evolved and emerged in the heart of Eurasia as a powerful international body.
The main objectives of the SCO are defensive in nature. The economic objectives of the SCO are to integrate and unite Eurasian economies against the economic and financial onslaught and manipulation from the "Trilateral" of North America, Western Europe, and Japan, which controls significant portions of the global economy.
The SCO charter was also created, using Western national security jargon, to combat "terrorism, separatism, and extremism." Terrorist activities, separatist movements, and extremist movements in Russia, China, and Central Asia are all forces traditionally nurtured, funded, armed, and covertly supported by the British and the U.S. governments. Several separatist and extremist groups that have destabilized SCO members even have offices in London.
Iran, India, Pakistan, and Mongolia are all SCO observer members. The observer status of Iran in the SCO is misleading. Iran is a de facto member. The observer status is intended to hide the nature of trilateral cooperation between Iran, Russia, and China so that the SCO cannot be labeled and demonized as an anti-American or anti-Western military grouping.
The stated interests of China and Russia are to ensure the continuity of a "Multi-Polar World." Zbigniew Brzezinski prefigured in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives and warned against the creation or "emergence of a hostile [Eurasian-based] coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America's primacy."  He also called this potential Eurasian coalition an "'antihegemonic' alliance" that would be formed from a "Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition" with China as its linchpin.  This is the SCO and several Eurasian groups that are connected to the SCO.
In 1993, Brzezinski wrote "In assessing China's future options, one has to consider also the possibility that an economically successful and politically self-confident China — but one which feels excluded from the global system and which decides to become both the advocate and the leader of the deprived states of the world — may decide to pose not only an articulate doctrinal but also a powerful geopolitical challenge to the dominant trilateral world [a reference to the economic front formed by North America, Western Europe, and Japan]." 
Brzezinski warns that Beijing's answer to challenging the global status quo would be the creation of a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition: "For Chinese strategists, confronting the trilateral coalition of America and Europe and Japan, the most effective geopolitical counter might well be to try and fashion a triple alliance of its own, linking China with Iran in the Persian Gulf/Middle East region and with Russia in the area of the former Soviet Union [and Eastern Europe]."  Brzezinski goes on to say that the Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition, which he moreover calls an "antiestablishmentarian [anti-establishmentarian] coalition," could be a potent magnet for other states [e.g., Venezuela] dissatisfied with the [global] status quo." 
Furthermore, Brzezinski warned in 1997 that "The most immediate task [for the U.S.] is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role."  It may be that his warnings were forgotten, because the U.S. has been repealed from Central Asia and U.S. forces have been evicted from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
"Velvet Revolutions" Backfire in Central Asia
Central Asia was the scene of several British-sponsored and American-sponsored attempts at regime change. The latter were characterised by velvet revolutions similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia.
These velvet revolutions financed by the U.S. failed in Central Asia, aside from Kyrgyzstan where there had been partial success with the so-called Tulip Revolution.
As a result the U.S. government has suffered major geo-strategic setbacks in Central Asia. All of Central Asia's leaders have distanced themselves from America.
Russia and Iran have also secured energy deals in the region. America's efforts, over several decades, to exert a hegemonic role in Central Asia seem to have been reversed overnight. The U.S. sponsored velvet revolutions have backfired. Relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S. were especially hard hit.
Uzbekistan is under the authoritarian rule of President Islam Karamov. Starting in the second half of the 1990s President Karamov was enticed into bringing Uzbekistan into the fold of the Anglo-American alliance and NATO. When there was an attempt on President Karamov's life, he suspected the Kremlin because of his independent policy stance. This is what led Uzbekistan to leave CSTO. But Islam Karamov, years later, changed his mind as to who was attempting to get rid of him.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Uzbekistan represented a major obstacle to any renewed Russian control of Central Asia and was virtually invulnerable to Russian pressure; this is why it was important to secure Uzbekistan as an American protectorate in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan also has the largest military force in Central Asia. In 1998, Uzbekistan held war games with NATO troops in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan was becoming heavily militarized in the same manner as Georgia was in the Caucasus. The U.S. gave Uzbekistan huge amounts of financial aid to challenge the Kremlin in Central Asia and also provided training to Uzbek forces.
With the launching of the "Global War on Terror," in 2001, Uzbekistan, an Anglo-American ally, immediately offered bases and military facilities to the U.S. in Karshi-Khanabad.
The leadership of Uzbekistan already knew the direction the "Global War on Terror" would take. To the irritation of the Bush Jr. Administration, the Uzbek President formulated a policy of self-reliance. The honeymoon between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance ended when Washington, D.C. and London contemplated removing Islam Karamov from power. He was a little too independent for their comfort and taste. Their attempts at removing the Uzbek President failed, leading eventually to a shift in geo-political alliances.
The tragic events of Andijan on May 13, 2005 were the breaking point between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance. The people of Andijan were incited into confronting the Uzbek authorities, which resulted in a heavy security clampdown on the protesters and a loss of lives.
Armed groups were reported to have been involved. In the U.S., Britain, and the E.U., the media reports focused narrowly on human rights violations without mentioning the covert role of the Anglo-American alliance. Uzbekistan held Britain and the U.S. responsible accusing them of inciting rebellion.
M. K. Bhadrakumar, the former Indian ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998), revealed that the Hezbut Tahrir (HT) was one of the parties blamed for stirring the crowd in Andijan by the Uzbek government.  The group was already destabilizing Uzbekistan and using violent tactics. The headquarters of this group happens to be in London and they enjoy the support of the British government. London is a hub for many similar organizations that further Anglo-American interests in various countries, including Iran and Sudan, through destabilization campaigns. Uzbekistan even started clamping down on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because of the tragic events of Andijan.
The Anglo-American alliance had played its cards wrong in Central Asia. Uzbekistan officially left the GUUAM Group, a NATO-U.S. sponsored anti-Russian body. GUUAM once again became the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava) Group on May 24, 2005.
On July 29, 2005 the U.S. military was ordered to leave Uzbekistan within a six-month period.  Literally, the Americans were told they were no longer welcome in Uzbekistan and Central Asia.
Russia, China, and the SCO added their voices to the demands. The U.S. cleared its airbase in Uzbekistan by November, 2005.
Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO alliance on June 26, 2006 and realigned itself, once again, with Moscow. The Uzbek President also became a vocal advocate, along with Iran, for pushing the U.S. totally out of Central Asia.  Unlike Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan continued to allow the U.S. to use Manas Air Base, but with restrictions and in an uncertain atmosphere. The Kyrgyz government also would make it clear that no U.S. operations could target Iran from Kyrgyzstan.
Major Geo-Strategic Error
It appears that a strategic rapprochement between Iran and America was in the works from 2001 to 2002. At the outset of the global war on terrorism, Hezbollah and Hamas, two Arab organizations supported by Iran and Syria, were kept off the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Iran and Syria were also loosely portrayed as potential partners in the "Global War on Terror."
Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iran expressed its support for the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi government. During the invasion of Iraq, the American military even attacked the Iraqi-based Iranian opposition militia, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK/MOK/MKO). Iranian jets also attacked the Iraqi bases of the MEK in approximately the same window of time.
Iran, Britain, and the U.S. also worked together against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that the Taliban were never allies of Iran. Up until 2000, the Taliban had been supported by the U.S. and Britain, working hand in glove with the Pakistani military and intelligence.
The Taliban were shocked and bewildered at what they saw as an American and British betrayal in 2001 — this is in light of the fact that in October, 2001 they had stated that they would hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S. upon the presentation of evidence of his alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
Zbigniew Brzezinski warned years before 2001 that "a coalition allying Russia with both China and Iran can develop only if the United States is shortsighted enough to antagonize China and Iran simultaneously."  The arrogance of the Bush Jr. Administration has resulted in this shortsighted policy.
According to The Washington Post, "Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago [in 2003], an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups." 
The White House impressed by what they believe were "grand victories" in Iraq and Afghanistan merely ignored the letter sent through diplomatic channels by the Swiss government on behalf of Tehran.
However, it was not because of what was wrongly perceived as a quick victory in Iraq that the Bush Jr. Administration pushed Iran aside. On January 29, 2002, in a major address, President Bush Jr. confirmed that the U.S. would also target Iran, which had been added to the so-called "Axis of Evil" together with Iraq and North Korea. The U.S. and Britain intended to attack Iran, Syria, and Lebanon after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact immediately following the invasion, in July 2003, the Pentagon formulated an initial war scenario entitled "Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT)."
Starting in 2002, the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from their original geo-strategic script. France and Germany were also excluded from sharing the spoils of war in Iraq.
The intention was to act against Iran and Syria just as America and Britain had used and betrayed their Taliban allies in Afghanistan. The U.S. was also set on targeting Hezbollah and Hamas. In January of 2001, according to Daniel Sobelman, a correspondent for Haaretz, the U.S. government warned Lebanon that the U.S. would go after Hezbollah. These threats directed at Lebanon were made at the start of the presidential term of George W. Bush Jr., eight months before the events of September 11, 2001.
The conflict at the United Nations Security Council between the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente, supported by Russia and China, was a pictogram of this deviation.
American geo-strategists for years after the Cold War had scheduled the Franco-German entente to be partners in their plans for global primacy. In this regard, Zbigniew Brzezinski had acknowledged that the Franco-German entente would eventually have to be elevated in status and that the spoils of war would have to be divided with Washington's European allies.
By the end of 2004, the Anglo-American alliance had started to correct its posture towards France and Germany. Washington had returned to its original geo-strategic script with NATO playing an expanded role in the Eastern Mediterranean. In turn, France was granted oil concessions in Iraq.
The 2006 war plans for Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean also point to a major shift in direction, a partnership role for the Franco-German entente, with France and Germany playing a major military role in the region.
It is worth noting that a major shift occurred in early 2007 with regard to Iran. Following U.S. setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as in Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, and former Soviet Central Asia), the White House entered into secret negotiatiations with Iran and Syria. However, the dye has been cast and it would appear that America will be unable to break an evolving military alliance which includes Russia, Iran, and China as its nucleus.
The Baker-Hamilton Commission: Covert Anglo-American Cooperation with Iran and Syria?
"America should also strongly support Turkish aspirations to have a pipeline from Baku in [the Republic of] Azerbaijan to Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean cost serve as [a] major outlet for the Caspian Sea basin energy sources. In addition, it is not in America's interest to perpetuate American-Iranian hostility. Any eventual reconciliation should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran [e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan]. Admittedly, any such reconciliation must be pursued by both sides and is not a favor granted by one to the other. A strong, even religiously motivated but not fanatically anti-Western Iran is in the U.S. interest, and ultimately even the Iranian political elite may recognize that reality. In the meantime, American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines..."
-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)
The recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission or the Iraq Study Group (ISG) are not a redirection in regards to engaging Iran, but a return to the track that the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from as a result of the delusions of its hasty victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. In other words, the Baker-Hamilton Commission was about damage control and re-steering America to the geo-strategic path originally intended by military planners that the Bush Jr. Administration seems to have deviated from.
The ISG Report also subtly indicated that adoption of so-called "free market" economic reforms be pressed on Iran (and by extension Syria) instead of regime change. The ISG also favoured the accession of both Syria and Iran to the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It should also be noted, in this regard, that Iran has already started a mass privatization program that involves all sectors from banking to energy and agriculture.
The ISG Report also recommends an end to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the establishment of peace between Israel and Syria. 
The joint interests of Iran and the U.S. were also analysed by the Baker-Hamilton Commission. The ISG recommended that the U.S. should not empower the Taliban again in Afghanistan (against Iran).  It should also be noted that Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., the Syrian Foreign Minister, and Javad Zarif, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, were all consulted by the Baker-Hamilton Commission.  The Iranian Ambassodor to the U.N., Javad Zarif, has also been a middle man between the U.S. and Iranian governments for years.
It is worth mentioning that the Clinton Administration was involved in the track of rapprochement with Iran, while also attempting to keep Iran in check under the "dual-containment" policy directed against Iraq and Iran. This policy was also linked to the 1992 Draft Defence Guidance paper written by people within the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Administrations.
It is worth noting that Zbigniew Brzezinski had stated as far back as 1979 and again in 1997 that Iran under its post-revolutionary political system could be co-opted by America.  Britain also ensured Syria and Iran in 2002 and 2003 that they would not be targeted and encouraged their cooperation with the White House.
It should be noted that Turkey has recently signed a pipeline deal with Iran that will take gas to Western Europe. This project includes the participation of Turkmenistan.  It would appear that this cooperation agreement between Tehran and Ankara points to reconciliation rather than confrontation with Iran and Syria. This is in line with what Brzezinski in 1997 claimed was in America's interest.
Also, the Anglo-American sponsored Iraqi government has recently signed pipeline deals with Iran.
Once again, America's interests in this deal should be questioned, as should the high opinions being given about Iran by the puppet leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The media attention given in North America and Britain to the positive comments made about Tehran by Anglo-American clients in Baghdad and Kabul is sinister.
Although these comments from Baghdad and Kabul about the positive role Iran plays in Iraq and Afghanistan are not new, the media attention is. President George W. Bush Jr. and the White House criticized the Iraqi Prime Minister for saying Iran plays a constructive role in Iraq in early-August of 2007. The White House and North American or British press would usually just ignore or refuse to acknowledge these comments. However, this was not the case in August, 2007.
The Afghani President, Hamid Karzai, during a joint press conference with George W. Bush Jr. stated that Iran was a positive force in his country. It is not odd to hear that Iran is a positive force inside Afghanistan because the stability of Afghanistan is in Iran's best interests. What comes across as odd are "when" and "where" the comments were made. White House press conferences are choreographed and the place and time of the Afghani President's comments should be questioned. It also so happens that shortly after the Afghani President's comments, the Iranian President arrived in Kabul in an unprecedented visit that must have been approved by the White House.
Iran's Political Leverage
In regards to Iran and the U.S., the picture is blurry and the lines between cooperation and rivalry are less clear. Reuters and the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) have both reported that the Iranian President may visit Baghdad after August 2007. These reports surfaced just before the U.S. government started threatening to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a special international terrorist organization. Without insinuating anything, it should also be noted that the Revolutionary Guard and the U.S. military have also had a low-key history of cooperation from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The Iranian President has also invited the presidents of the other four Caspian states for a Caspian Sea summit in Tehran.  He invited the Turkmen president while in Turkmenistan and later the Russian and Kazakh presidents at the August of 2007 SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan. President Aliyev, the leader of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azarbaijan) was also personally invited during a trip by the Iranian President to Baku. The anticipated Caspian Sea summit may be similar to the one in Port Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan between the Kazakh, Russian, and Turkmen presidents where it was announced that Russia would not be cut out of the pipeline deals in Central Asia.
Iranian leverage is clearly getting stronger. Officials in Baku also stated that they will expand energy cooperation with Iran and enter the gas pipeline deal between Iran, Turkey, and Turkmenistan that will supply European markets with gas.  This agreement to supply Europe is similar to a Russian energy transport deal signed between Greece, Bulgaria, and the Russian Federation. 
In the Levant, Syria is involved in energy-related negotiations with Ankara and Baku and important talks have started between American officials and both Tehran and Damascus. 
Iran has also been involved in diplomatic exchanges with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Additionally, starting in August 2007, Syria has agreed to reopen Iraqi oil pipelines to the Eastern Mediterranean, through Syrian territory.  The recent official visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki to Syria has also been described as historical by news sources like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Also, Syria and Iraq have agreed to build a gas pipeline from Iraq into Syria, where Iraqi gas will be treated in Syrian plants.  These agreements are being passed as the sources of tensions between Baghdad and the White House, but they are doubtful. 
Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are also planning on starting the process for creating an Iranian-GCC free trade zone in the Persian Gulf. In the bazaars of Tehran and amongst the political circle of Rafsanjani there are also discussions about the eventual creation of a single market between Iran, Tajikistan, Armenia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The American role in these processes in regards to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the GCC should be explored.
Under President Nicholas Sarkozy, France has indicated that it is willing to engage the Syrians fully if they gave specific guarantees in regards to Lebanon. These guarantees are linked to French economic and geo-strategic interests.
In the same period of time as the French statements about Syria, Gordon Brown indicated that Britain was also willing to engage in diplomatic exchanges with both Syria and Iran. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, has also been involved in talks with Damascus on mutual projects, economic reform, and bringing Syria closer to the European Union. These talks, however tend to be camouflaged by the discussion between Syria and Germany in regards to the mass exodus of Iraqi refugees, resulting from the Anglo-American occupation of their country. The French Foreign Minister is also expected in Tehran to talk about Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Despite the war-mongering by the U.S. and more recently by France, this has all led to speculation of a potential about-turn in regards to Iran and Syria. 
Then again, this is part of the two-pronged U.S. approach of preparing for the worst (war), while suing for the diplomatic capitulation of Syria and Iran as client states or partners. When large oil and weapons deals were signed between Libya and Britain, London said that Iran should follow the Libyan example, as has the Baker-Hamilton Commission.
Has the March to War been Interrupted?
Despite talks behind closed doors with Damascus and Tehran, Washington is nonetheless arming its clients in the Middle East. Israel is in an advanced state of military preparedness for a war on Syria.
Unlike France and Germany, Anglo-American ambitions pertaining to Iran and Syria are not one of cooperation. The ultimate objective is political and economic subordination.
Moreover, either as a friend or foe, America cannot tolerate Iran within its present borders. The balkanization of Iran, like that of Iraq and Russia, is a major long-term Anglo-American goal.
What lies ahead is never known. While there is smoke in the horizon, the U.S.-NATO-Israeli military agenda will not necessarily result in the implementation of war as planned.
A "Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition" — which forms the basis of a global counter-alliance — is emerging. America and Britain rather than opting for outright war, may choose to reel in Iran and Syria through macro-economic manipulation and velvet revolutions.
War directed against Iran and Syria, however, cannot be ruled out. There are real war preparations on the ground in the Middle East and Central Asia. A war against Iran and Syria would have far-reaching worldwide implications.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specialising on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
 Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation, signed and entered into force July 16, 2001, P.R. of China-Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China.
The following are treaty articles that are relevant to the mutual defence of China and Russia against American-led encirclement and efforts to dismantle both nations;
The Chinese side supports the Russian side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.
The Russian side supports the Chinese side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China.
The Russian side reaffirms that the principled stand on the Taiwan issue as expounded in the political documents signed and adopted by the heads of states of the two countries from 1992 to 2000 remain unchanged. The Russian side acknowledges that there is only one China in the world, that the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The Russian side opposes any form of Taiwan's independence.
The contracting parties shall not enter into any alliance or be a party to any bloc nor shall they embark on any such action, including the conclusion of such treaty with a third country which compromises the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party. Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow its territory to be used by a third country to jeopardize the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party.
Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow the setting up of organizations or gangs on its own soil which shall impair the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contrasting party and their activities should be prohibited.
When a situation arises in which one of the contracting parties deems that peace is being threatened and undermined or its security interests are involved or when it is confronted with the threat of aggression, the contracting parties shall immediately hold contacts and consultations in order to eliminate such threats.
The contracting parties shall work together for the maintenance of global strategic balance and stability and make great efforts in promoting the observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability.
The contracting parties shall actively promote the process of nuclear disarmament and the reduction of chemical weapons, promote and strengthen the regimes on the prohibition of biological weapons and take measures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and their related technology.
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (NYC, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.198.
 Ibid., pp. 115-116, 170, 205-206.
Note: Brzezinski also refers to a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition as a "counteralliance" (p.116).
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century (NYC, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993), p.198.
 Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.198.
 M. K. Bhadrakumar, The lessons from Ferghana, Asia Times, May 18, 2005.
 Nick Paton Walsh, Uzbekistan kicks US out of military base, The Guardian (U.K.), August 1, 2005.
 Vladimir Radyuhin, Uzbekistan rejoins defence pact, The Hindu, June 26, 2006.
 Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.116.
 Glenn Kessler, In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue, The Washington Post, June 18, 2006, p.A16.
 James A. Baker III et al., The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward — A New Approach Authroized ed. (NYC, New York: Random House Inc., 2006), p.51.
 Ibid., pp.51, 54-57.
 Ibid., pp.50-53, 58.
 Ibid., p.114.
 Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.204.
 Iran, Turkey sign energy cooperation deal, agree to develop Iran's gas fields, Associated Press, July 14, 2007.
 Tehran to host summit of Caspian nations Oct.18, Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti), August 22, 2007.
 Azerbaijan, Iran reinforce energy deals, United Press International (UPI), August 22, 2007.
 Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Détente in the Middle East or "Calm before the Storm?," Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), July 10, 2007.
It is worth noting that Iran has been involved in pipeline deals with Turkey and in negotiation between Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the possible creation of an energy corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean. These deals occurred in the same time frame that both Syria and Iran started talks with the U.S. after the Baker-Hamilton Commission's report.
 Syria and Iraq to reopen oil pipeline link, Agence France-Presse (AFP), August 22, 2007.
 Roger Hardy, Why the US is unhappy with Maliki, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), August 22, 2007.
 Hassan Nafaa, About-face on Iran coming?, Al-Ahram (Egypt), no. 859, August 23-29, 2007.
Posted at 08:34 pm by R7fel
Monday, October 08, 2007
Fool Me Twice
Hillary Clinton’s unsatisfactory explanation why she voted for Wolfowitz’s War is worth revisiting. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” must be an embarrassment to her and to all the other establishment politicos who “authorized” the war. As it is, she blames Bush and Cheney for mismanagement. For the Democrats, Bush has become a wonderful punching bag and a gift from the gods. Like John Kerry in 2004, Hillary has complained for years about “the way” the war has been prosecuted, but not about the real issue, which is “What are we doing there in the first place?” She avoids that issue. She does not disavow her October 2002 vote authorizing the White House to go to war, even though no WMD turned up in Iraq afterwards and the U.S was in no conceivable danger. This blunder is ultimately going to cost the American taxpayers in the neighborhood of $2 trillion.
Senator Clinton does not admit that she was fooled by Bush and Cheney and their “neocon” jackals. Hillary has come up with the novel idea to the effect that she was not actually voting for war at all. Rather, she was voting to send the UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq and to give Bush the authority to use force as leverage to get Saddam to do the right thing, that is, disarm and come clean. But guess what? Saddam had come clean and Iraq had disarmed. And then Bush went crazy and misused the Senate authorization. Hillary says that if she knew in October 2002 what she knows now, she would have voted differently. That is her story. That is how gullible she regards the vast majority of the American people. She is correct when it comes to gullibility. Her successful career in politics and her husband’s comeback from impeachment prove it beyond a doubt.
It was known that Saddam had disarmed long before 9/11. The entire pretext for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a gigantic, well-orchestrated, international fraud. Therefore, you might think that Hillary was fooled, along with so many others. You might think that she would not want to be fooled twice by the same duplicitous cast of characters in charge at the White House. And perhaps she may have learned from her mistake, even though she does not call it a mistake. But if so, then how does one explain her vote on a Senate resolution last Wednesday, which resolution provides Cheney and Bush with a short-cut to war against Iran? I am referring to the (John) Kyl-(Joe) Lieberman amendment, the original draft of which was prepared by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It passed the Senate last Wednesday by a 76-22 vote, with both Hillary and Senate Leader Harry Reid voting in favor. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, called the AIPAC draft “Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream...” which “could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war.”
Does Hillary know what she is doing? Does Hillary want to bomb Iran? Does she buy the propaganda that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons program, as distinct from a nuclear energy program, just because Cheney and Bush say so? At this point, who could possibly take at face value what they say about anything? If Hillary actually believes their bunkum, then she does indeed want to start a new war. In fact, she has said so, as have most other presidential contenders. “All options on the table” is a code meaning that Bush can go to war against Iran without specific Congressional authorization. If Bush pulls the trigger on Iran, and it turns into another fiasco like Iraq, how is Hillary going to spin her vote on Kyl-Lieberman? Is she going to backpedal a second time? Frankly, I doubt that she cares about future explanations or has considered the adverse consequences of her vote as it relates to bringing more carnage to the Middle East. Why should she, if she can get what she wants in the near term? There is always an election around the corner here in America. Hillary is running for President. Every move she makes centers upon that goal.
Not for a nanosecond do I accept the notion that Hillary Clinton has been fooled, either five years ago or just the other day. She knew in October 2002 that she was voting for Bush to invade Iraq. So did the Democratic Party leadership. They all went to war arm in arm. Hillary gave the impression at the time that she was proud to be part of the process. And she knows perfectly well what her vote for the AIPAC-inspired Kyl-Lieberman amendment means today. She and Senator Harry Reid have voted to allow Cheney and Bush to do whatever they please with respect to “preemptive” military operations against Iran. In October 2002 they voted the same way with respect to Iraq. You are watching a rerun.
Why would the Democrat-controlled Senate vote to go down the same dead end street a second time? Ex-CIA analyst Kathy Christison and her husband Bill, who was a senior official at the Agency, may have the answer. They have studied the controversial book by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, whereas I have only read the London Review of Books article, upon which the new book is based. The Christisons point out that M & W nail the Israel Lobby with a prime responsibility for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. “The two authors devote more than 30 pages and a remarkable 175 footnotes to constructing an irrefutable case for an Israeli role in helping plan, and a large lobby role in pressing for, the war.... Israel and the lobby ‘played crucial roles in making that war happen.’ Without the lobby and particularly the core of neocon policy-makers inside government and neocon commentators and think-tank analysts on the sidelines, Mearsheimer and Walt conclude bluntly, ‘the war would almost certainly not have occurred’ and ‘America would probably not be in Iraq today.’”
In short, when it comes to the Middle East, domestic politics rule. Oil and “the spread of democracy” are secondary factors. This is one of the main contentions of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. It is all the explanation you need to understand Hillary’s vote to invade Iraq five years ago as well as her vote last week to enable a war against Iran. She was not fooled by Bush in 2002, any more than she is being fooled by Joe Lieberman today. There is no need for these politicians to fool one another, because they are perfectly aware what is going on and what they are doing. Hillary is a professional, Washington politician. She requires money, good will, and votes. Like her husband, Hillary’s actions are coldly calculated, often triangulated, and always self-serving. Everything is a career move. In their defense, one can only observe that Hillary and Bubba have plenty of company.
Posted at 06:42 am by R7fel