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|News, Information and Opinion from Independent Sources and Dissenting Voices of Reason.|
I've seen the future, brother, it is Murder.
The Red Dots represent US Bases, the Orange Dots hint at possible areas of Conflict. Although the larger Eurasian Area is here outlined in rose coloured borders, a War under the present conditions surely cannot be kept within these confines but will develop into a devastating conflagration with unforeseeable results worldwide.
Neocons in Israel and the United States are escalating their rhetoric to prepare us for war with Iran. Even the infamous John Yoo, architect of George W. Bush’s illegal torture and spying programs, is calling on the Republican presidential candidates to “begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.”
Under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the legal right to produce nuclear power for peaceful purposes. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said on CBS that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear weapon.
Nevertheless, the United States and Israel are mounting a campaign of aggression against Iran. The United States has imposed punishing sanctions against Iran that are crippling Iran’s economy, and pressuring other countries and strong-arming financial institutions to stop buying oil from Iran, the world’s third largest exporter. The Obama administration is also preparing new punitive measures that target the Central Bank of Iran. And the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 which would outlaw any contact between U.S. government employees and some Iranian officials.
There is also evidence that Israel, with the possible assistance of the United States, has orchestrated the assassinations of at least five Iranian nuclear scientists or engineers since 2007. The New York Times reported: “The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on [January 11] when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour.” These assassinations constitute acts of terrorism. There have also been cyber-attacks on Iranian centrifuges and an explosion at a missile facility last year that killed a senior general and 16 other people.
These acts of aggression are designed to provoke Iran to retaliate, including possibly closing the Strait of Hormuz, which will spark a war that could spread to the entire Middle East.
In addition, the United States has shifted combat troops and warships to the Middle East, and supplied Israel with bunker-busting bombs. Moreover, President Barack Obama has deployed 9,000 U.S. troops to Israel to participate later this year with thousands of Israeli troops in “war games” to test the U.S./Israeli air defense system; this exercise will be the largest ever joint drill between the two countries. Panetta said the exercise is designed “to back up our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
Iran is not a threat to Israel’s security. Iran has not attacked any country in some 200 years. In 1953, the CIA engineered a coup that replaced a democratic government in Iran with the vicious Shah. He ruled Iran with an iron hand for 25 years, wreaking torture and terror on Iranians while keeping Iran open to Western investment. When I visited Iran in 1978 as a human rights observer, there were dozens of U.S. corporations in downtown Tehran. One year later, the chickens came home to roost. The Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah, replacing him with a tyrannical theocracy that continues to violate the rights of the Iranian people. But that does not mean that Iran, if it does obtain nuclear weapons, will attack Israel. The Iranian government knows that Israel and the United States would retaliate with unimaginable military force that would devastate Iran and much of the Middle East.
Article 2 of the United Nations Charter requires the peaceful settlement of international disputes between Iran and the United States. Both the U.S. and Iran are signatories of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928, which states, “The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.” Yet the United States has been illegally threatening war against Iran, dating back to the administration of President George W. Bush.
Security Council Resolution 687, that ended the first Gulf War, requires a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East. Israel, which reportedly has an arsenal of 200-300 nuclear weapons, stands in violation of that resolution. Israel refuses to sign the NPT, thus avoiding inspections by the IAEA. As Shibley Telhami and Steven Kull advocate in a recent op-ed in the Times, we should work toward a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, and that includes Israel. They cite a poll in which 65 percent of Israeli Jews think it would be best if neither Israel nor Iran had the bomb, even if that means Israel giving up its nukes.
AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the Israel lobby in the United States, has tremendous support in the U.S. Congress. Even Zionist Thomas Friedman wrote in the Times last month that the standing ovation Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got in Congress “was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” AIPAC also exerts considerable pressure on Obama to be tough on Iran. When the new Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff and the new head of CENTCOM told Obama late last year they were disappointed that he was not firmly opposing an Israeli strike on Iran, Obama replied that he “had no say over Israel” because “it is a sovereign country.”
Obama does indeed have a say – a strong say – over Israel. The United States has pledged $30 billion to Israel over the next 10 years. Obama should inform his counterparts in Israel that if it launches a military attack on Iran, the U.S. will withhold foreign aid from Israel. Although pressure from the neocons to support an Israeli attack on Iran will increase as the presidential elections draws near, Obama has a legal duty to refrain from actions that will lead to war with Iran.
Additionally, the U.N. Security Council, which has the duty to prevent threats to international peace and security, should order Israel and the United States to cease their aggressive provocation against Iran.
The same voices who brought us the illegal, tragic, and ill-advised war with Iraq will continue to try to dominate the national conversation with battle cries against Iran. It is up to us to prevail upon our elected officials to avoid a tragic conflagration in Iran by pressuring Israel to cease and desist.
posted by Marjorie Cohn @ 10:25 AM
|US, Pakistan Near Open War; Chinese Ultimatum Warns Washington Against Attack|
Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
May 20, 2011
China has officially put the United States on notice that Washington's planned attack on Pakistan will be interpreted as an act of aggression against Beijing. This blunt warning represents the first known strategic ultimatum received by the United States in half a century, going back to Soviet warnings during the Berlin crisis of 1958-1961, and indicates the grave danger of general war growing out of the US-Pakistan confrontation.
|"Any Attack on Pakistan Would be Construed as an Attack on China"|
Responding to reports that China has asked the US to respect Pakistan's sovereignty in the aftermath of the Bin Laden operation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu used a May 19 press briefing to state Beijing's categorical demand that the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan must be respected." According to Pakistani diplomatic sources cited by the Times of India, China has "warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China." This ultimatum was reportedly delivered at the May 9 China-US strategic dialogue and economic talks in Washington, where the Chinese delegation was led by Vice Prime Minister Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo.1 Chinese warnings are implicitly backed up by that nation's nuclear missiles, including an estimated 66 ICBMs, some capable of striking the United States, plus 118 intermediate-range missiles, 36 submarine-launched missiles, and numerous shorter-range systems.
Support from China is seen by regional observers as critically important for Pakistan, which is otherwise caught in a pincers between the US and India: "If US and Indian pressure continues, Pakistan can say 'China is behind us. Don't think we are isolated, we have a potential superpower with us,'" Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired Pakistani general, told AFP.2
The Chinese ultimatum came during the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in Beijing, during which the host government announced the transfer of 50 state-of-the-art JF-17 fighter jets to Pakistan, immediately and without cost.3 Before his departure, Gilani had stressed the importance of the Pakistan-China alliance, proclaiming: "We are proud to have China as our best and most trusted friend. And China will always find Pakistan standing beside it at all times….When we speak of this friendship as being taller than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans it truly captures the essence of our relationship."4 These remarks were greeted by whining from US spokesmen, including Idaho Republican Senator Risch.
The simmering strategic crisis between the United States and Pakistan exploded with full force on May 1, with the unilateral and unauthorized US commando raid alleged to have killed the phantomatic Osama bin Laden in a compound at Abottabad, a flagrant violation of Pakistan's national sovereignty. The timing of this military stunt designed to inflame tensions between the two countries had nothing to do with any alleged Global War on Terror, and everything to do with the late March visit to Pakistan of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian National Security Council chief. This visit had resulted in a de facto alliance between Islamabad and Riyadh, with Pakistan promising troops to put down any US-backed color revolution in the kingdom, while extending nuclear protection to the Saudis, thus making them less vulnerable to US extortion threats to abandon the oil-rich monarchy to the tender mercies of Tehran. A joint move by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to break out of the US empire, whatever one may think of these regimes, would represent a fatal blow for the fading US empire in South Asia.
As for the US claims concerning the supposed Bin Laden raid of May 1, they are a mass of hopeless contradictions which changes from day to day. An analysis of this story is best left to literary critics and writers of theatrical reviews. The only solid and uncontestable fact which emerges is that Pakistan is the leading US target — thus intensifying the anti-Pakistan US policy which has been in place since Obama's infamous December 2009 West Point speech.
Gilani: Full Force Retaliation to Defend Pakistan's Strategic Assets
The Chinese warning to Washington came on the heels of Gilani's statement to the Pakistan Parliament declaring: "Let no one draw any wrong conclusions. Any attack against Pakistan's strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response…. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland."5 A warning of full force retaliation from a nuclear power such as Pakistan needs to be taken seriously, even by the hardened aggressors of the Obama regime.
The strategic assets Gilani is talking about are the Pakistani nuclear forces, the key to the country's deterrent strategy against possible aggression by India, egged on by Washington in the framework of the US-India nuclear cooperation accord. The US forces in Afghanistan have not been able to conceal their extensive planning for attempts to seize or destroy Pakistan's nuclear bombs and warheads. According to a 2009 Fox News report, "The United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists." This plan was developed by General Stanley McChrystal when he headed the US Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. JSOC, the force reportedly involved in the Bin Laden operation. is composed of Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs and "a high-tech special intelligence unit known as Task Force Orange." "Small units could seize [Pakistan's nukes], disable them, and then centralize them in a secure location," claimed a source quoted by Fox.6
Obama Has Already Approved Sneak Attack on Pakistan's Nukes
According to the London Sunday Express, Obama has already approved an aggressive move along these lines: "US troops will be deployed in Pakistan if the nation's nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists out to avenge the killing of Osama Bin Laden… The plan, which would be activated without President Zardari's consent, provoked an angry reaction from Pakistan officials… Barack Obama would order troops to parachute in to protect key nuclear missile sites. These include the air force's central Sargodha HQ, home base for nuclear-capable F-16 combat aircraft and at least 80 ballistic missiles." According to a US official, "The plan is green lit and the President has already shown he is willing to deploy troops in Pakistan if he feels it is important for national security."7
Extreme tension over this issue highlights the brinksmanship and incalculable folly of Obama's May 1 unilateral raid, which might easily have been interpreted by the Pakistanis as the long-awaited attack on their nuclear forces. According to the New York Times, Obama knew very well he was courting immediate shooting war with Pakistan, and "insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops."
The Shooting Has Already Started
The shooting between US and Pakistani forces escalated on Tuesday May 17, when a US NATO helicopter violated Pakistani airspace in Waziristan. Pakistani forces showed heightened alert status, and opened fire immediately, with the US helicopter shooting back. Two soldiers at a Pakistani check post on the border in the Datta Khel area were wounded.8
Possible Pakistani retaliation for this border incursion came in Peshawar on Friday, May 20, when a car bomb apparently targeted a 2-car US consulate convoy, but caused no American deaths or injuries. One Pakistani bystander was killed, and several wounded. In other intelligence warfare, Ary One television reported the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, the second top US resident spook there to have his cover blown in six months.
US Envoy Grossman Rejects Pakistani Calls To Stop Border Violations
US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, the replacement for the late Richard Holbrooke, on May 19 arrogantly rejected Pakistani calls for guarantees that no more Abottabad-style unilateral operations would be mounted in Pakistan.9 In refusing to offer such assurances, Grossman claimed that Pakistani officials had never demanded respect for their border in recent years.10
In the midst of this strategic crisis, India has gone ahead with inherently provocative scheduled military maneuvers targeting Pakistan. This is the "Vijayee Bhava" (Be Victorious) drill, held in the Thar desert of north Rajastan,. This atomic-biological-chemical Blitzkrieg drill involves the Second Armored Corps, "considered to be the most crucial of the Indian Army's three principal strike formations tasked with virtually cutting Pakistan in two during a full-fledged war."11
The Nation: A CIA-RAW-Mossad Pseudo-Taliban Countergang
One way to provide the provocation needed to justify a US-Indian attack on Pakistan would be through an increase in terrorist actions attributable to the so-called Taliban. According to the mainstream Pakistani media, the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, and the Indian RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) have created their own version of the Taliban in the form of a terrorist countergang which they control and direct. According to one account, "Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives have infiltrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks, and have created their own Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) force in order to destabilize Pakistan." The former Punjab Regional Commander of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), retired Brigadier General Aslam Ghuman, commented: "During my visit to the US, I learned that the Israeli spy agency Mossad, in connivance with Indian agency RAW, under the direct supervision of CIA, planned to destabilize Pakistan at any cost."12 Was this countergang responsible for last week's double bombing in Waziristan, which killed 80 paramilitary police?
According to the same account, Russian intelligence "disclosed that CIA contractor Raymond Davis and his network had provided Al-Qaeda operatives with chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, so that US installations may be targeted and Pakistan be blamed…." Davis, a JSOC veteran himself, was arrested for the murder of two ISI agents, but then released by the Pakistani government after a suspicious hue and cry by the State Department.
CIA Claims The New Al Qaeda Boss Lives in Waziristan
If the US needs a further pretext for additional raids, it will also be easy to cite the alleged presence in Waziristan of Saif al-Adel, now touted by the CIA as bin Laden's likely successor as boss of al Qaeda.13 It is doubtless convenient for Obama's aggressive intentions that Saif al-Adel can be claimed to reside so close to what is now the hottest border in the world, and not in Finsbury or Flatbush.
In the wake of the unauthorized May 1 US raid, the Pakistani military chief General Kayani had issued his own warning that similar "misadventures" could not be repeated, while announcing that US personnel inside Pakistan would be sharply reduced. In the estimate of one ISI source, there are currently about 7,000 CIA operatives in country, many of them unknown to the Pakistani government. US-Pakistan intelligence sharing has reportedly been downgraded. In response to Kayani's moves, the CIA limited hangout operation known as Wikileaks once again showed its real nature by attempting to discredit the Pakistan commander with dubious US cable reports that he had demanded more Predator drone attacks, not fewer, in recent years.
Especially since Obama's West Point speech, the CIA has used Predator drone attacks to slaughter civilians with the goal of fomenting civil war inside Pakistan, leading to a breakup of the country along the ethnic lines of Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and Pushtunistan. The geopolitical goal is to destroy Pakistan's potential to be the energy corridor between Iran and China. Selig Harrison has emerged as a top US advocate for Baluchistan succession.
Since May 1, six reported US Predator drones attacks have slain some 42 Pakistani civilians, goading public opinion into a frenzy of anti-US hatred. In response, a joint session of the Pakistani parliament voted unanimously on May 14 to demand an end to American missile strikes, calling on the government to cut NATO's supply line to Afghanistan if the attacks should continue.14 Since the Karachi to Khyber Pass supply line carries as much as two thirds of the supplies needed by the Afghanistan invaders, such a cutoff would cause chaos among the NATO forces. All of this points to the inherent insanity of provoking war with the country your supply line runs through.
US Wants to Use Taliban Boss Mullah Omar Against Pakistan
The State Department dropped all preconditions for negotiating with the Taliban back in February, and the US is now reported by the Washington Post to be talking with envoys of Mullah Omar, the legendary one-eyed leader of the Quetta Shura or Taliban ruling council. It is apparent that the US is offering the Taliban an alliance against Pakistan. US regional envoy Grossman is hostile to the Pakistanis, but when it comes to the Taliban he has been nicknamed "Mr. Reconciliation."15 By contrast, the US is said to be determined to assassinate the head of the Haqqani network using a Bin Laden-type raid. The Pakistanis are equally determined to keep the Haqqani as an ally.
If China stands behind Pakistan, then Russia might be said to stand behind China. Looking forward to the upcoming June 15 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese President Hu praised Sino-Russian relations as being "at an unprecedented high point," with an "obvious strategic ingredient." In a press conference this week, Russian President Medvedev was obliged indirectly to acknowledge that the much-hyped Obama "reset" with Russia had amounted to very little, since the US ABM missile program in Romania and the rest of eastern Europe, so obviously directed against Russia, means that the START treaty is of dubious value, thus raising the specter of a "new Cold War." Given the NATO assault on Libya, there would be no UN resolution against Syria, said Medvedev. Putin has been right all along, and Medvedev is trying to imitate Putin to salvage some chance of remaining in power.
Are We in July 1914?
The crisis leading to World War I began with the Sarajevo assassinations of June 28, 1914, but the first major declaration of war did not occur until August 1. In the interim month of July 1914, large parts of European public opinion retreated into a dreamlike trance, an idyllic la-la land of elegiac illusion, even as the deadly crisis gathered momentum. Something similar can be seen today. Many Americans fondly imagine that the alleged death of Bin Laden marks the end of the war on terror and the Afghan War. Instead, the Bin Laden operation has clearly ushered in a new strategic emergency. Forces which had opposed the Iraq war, from MSNBC to many left liberals of the peace movement, are variously supporting Obama's bloody aggression in Libya, or even celebrating him as a more effective warmonger than Bush-Cheney because of his supposed success at the expense of Bin Laden. In reality, if there were ever a time to mobilize to stop a new and wider war, this is it.
|Obama threatens Iran|
6 August 2010 -- WSWS - http://www1.wsws.org/articles/2010/aug2010/pers-a06.shtml
At a White House briefing Wednesday, President Obama personally joined the growing chorus of war threats against Iran coming from Washington and its allies.
Recent threats include remarks from US Defense Secretary Gates, who argued against "another war in the Middle East" in 2008, but stated last month that the US does "not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons." Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was "still time for sanctions," but that "at a certain point, we should realize that sanctions cannot work."
It was against this backdrop that the White House called in selected journalists for a press briefing on Iran. They reportedly discovered only after arriving that the "briefer" at this apparently routine event was none other than the president himself.
Obama's purpose was to deliver a blunt warning to the Iranian government: it could either surrender to US demands that it abandon its nuclear program, or face US attack.
Obama said that Iranian officials "should know what they can say 'yes' to." If "national pride" drove Iran to develop nuclear weapons, Obama continued, "they will bear the costs of that." He said "all options" were open, in order to "prevent a nuclear arms race in the region and to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran."
Fearing that certain journalists had misunderstood Obama's empty phrases about diplomacy as indicating plans for new negotiations with Iran, senior White House officials later spoke to one of the reporters there, well-known pro-war journalist, Robert Kagan, to set the record straight.
In a Washington Post column, Kagan criticized journalists who asked US officials about diplomacy with Iran: "This put the officials in an awkward position: they didn't want to say flat out that the administration was not pursuing a new diplomatic initiative, because this might suggest that the administration was not interested in diplomacy at all."
Kagan commented, "As one bemused senior official later remarked to me, if the point of the briefing had been diplomacy, then the administration would have brought its top negotiators to the meeting, instead of all the people in charge of putting the squeeze on Iran."
In fact, the Obama administration's policy has never been to negotiate with Iran, but to present Tehran with a list of humiliating, nonnegotiable demands. These were presented in the context of a two-track policy: a campaign of sanctions and war threats could either lead to Tehran's capitulation, or lay the basis for US military action.
Last June, the Obama administration unsuccessfully tried to arrange a pro-US regime in Tehran, by overturning Ahmadinejad's election. The US tacitly backed the so-called "Green Revolution," led by defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and billionaire tycoon Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and supported by sections of the middle class in Iran. However, Washington was thwarted when these forces, drawn from the wealthier layers of Iranian society, failed to gain broader support.
The administration still believes that some form of internal "regime change" may be possible. Kagan noted that White House officials hoped that the political forces behind the Green Revolution could connect with recent strikes of merchants in the bazaars, and the combination "would pose a real threat to the regime."
However, the Obama administration now seems increasingly set on war as the only way of securing its policy interests in the region. It considers that a US victory in the standoff with Iran is now critical to maintaining Washington's prestige and hegemonic role in world affairs.
A report by Obama administration advisors at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) notes that "American credibility…would be seriously diminished if, after repeatedly issuing warnings to the contrary, it permitted Tehran to cross the nuclear threshold," that is, to acquire nuclear weapons. It finds that the US must be prepared for "extraordinary action" to preserve its credibility as the world's greatest military power, and calls for "visible, credible preparations for a military option."
The US campaign against Iran's nuclear program is a political fraud. Washington has mounted no such campaign against nuclear-armed India, because it views the Indian army as a US strategic asset in the region. In the case of Iran—seen by Washington as a strategic adversary—the country's nuclear industry, which Iran insists is only for energy,becomes a pretext for a US campaign to isolate and beat it into submission.
It is virtually impossible for the Iranian regime to demonstrate that the US should not treat it as a threat, short of total political self-emasculation. Iran has ties to political and military forces in US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; it is a major supplier of oil and gas to world markets, including to key US competitors such as China; and it has developed a significant nuclear program.
To get a lasting deal with Washington, Iran would have to publicly renounce supporting parties or resistance movements in regions oppressed by the US or Israel, grant US firms access or control of its oil fields, and submit to invasive controls of its nuclear program. This would amount to a public declaration by the Iranian government that it is a lackey of American imperialism.
As suspicions grow that Tehran may not make such an offer, views are hardening in Washington in favor of war. There are even calls for a press campaign to soften up public opinion for war. The BPC report called for "public discussion of military options," while the French newspaper Le Monde recently asked whether the public might be "psychologically prepared for the scenario of war with Iran."
US threats, issued in an unannounced meeting covered by a handful of reporters, underscore the Obama administration's contempt for public opinion. Elected as a result of mass opposition to the Bush administration's policy of aggressive war, Obama now threatens to start a war that would dwarf the Iraq and Afghan conflicts and threaten to engulf the entire region.
|Will Israel really attack Iran within a year?|
After interviewing dozens of Israeli, American and Arab officials, Atlantic Magazine correspondent concludes Israel may not even ask for American 'green light' to attack Iran nuclear sites.
By Natasha Mozgovaya -- Haaretz --- http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/focus-u-s-a/focus-u-s-a-will-israel-really-attack-iran-within-a-year-1.307211
Tags: Iran Iran nuclear Barack Obama Israel US
Israel might attack Iranian nuclear sites within a year, if Iran stays the current course and the U.S. administration doesn't succeed in persuading Israel's leadership that U.S. President Barack Obama is ready to stop Iran by force if necessary, so argues Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic magazine's September cover story, obtained by Haaretz ahead of publication.
Based on dozens of interviews the Atlantic correspondent conducted in recent months with Israeli, American and Arab officials, Goldberg came to the conclusion that the likelihood of an Israeli strike has crossed the 50 percent mark. And Israel might not even ask for the famous "green light" from the U.S. - or even give couple of false pre-attack alerts, so that Washington won't try to stop the unilateral operation.
"…one day next spring, the Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran - possibly by crossing Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly by traveling directly through Iraq's airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft…," Goldberg paints a possible scenario.
The repercussions of such a strike, which could include the bombing of the Iranian facilities in Natanz, Qom, Esfahan, and maybe even the Russian-built reactor in Bushehr, are less than clear, despite the endless discussions and several simulations. American experts speculate that attacking Iran's nuclear facilities will only slightly delay the nuclear program, whereas some Israelis, according to Goldberg, are a bit more optimistic, in light of the successful Israeli operations against Iraqi and Syrian reactors in the past.
The results might be dire: It's likely that the Israeli air force won't have much time to waste in Iran, as Hezbollah will probably retaliate against Israel in the North and the fighter jets will be needed there. The unilateral operation might throw relations between Jerusalem and Washington into an unprecedented crisis, and might even unleash full-scale regional war with possible economic repercussions for the whole world, not to mention the cost of human lives.
The timetable in this issue is an evasive one - the red lines were pushed back again and again, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told New York Times reporters this week: "Based on my conversations with allies, it's not so much the timing of when or how the Iranians might pursue the nuclear weapons, it's whether they do so. And so whether it would take six months, a year, or five years, it's that deep concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons that is the preoccupation of our friends and partners. And we would be pursuing the path we're pursuing regardless of any issue of timing because we think it's got the best potential for changing Iranian behavior."
According to Goldberg, for Israel the red lines are clear. The end of December is Netanyahu's deadline to estimate the success of "non-military methods to stop Iran."
And while Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, reminded Goldberg that "the expression 'All options are on the table' means that all options are on the table," - the Israeli interviewees repeatedly questioned Obama's resolve to actually do it. Some even asked Goldberg if he thought the American president was actually an anti-Semite, forcing the reporter to explain that Obama is probably "the first Jewish President" – but not necessarily Likud's idea of a Jew.
But the reply he got from one official was: "This is the problem. If he is a J Street Jew, we are in trouble."
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, stressed that "This president has shown again and again that when he believes it is necessary to use force to protect American national security interests, he has done so" - but the Israeli government might need stronger assurances.
Israel is trying to convey the message not only through the official channels - Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin visited Chicago recently to meet with the billionaire Lester Crown, one of Obama's supporters, and asked to him to convey Israel's concerns to the American President, Goldberg reports.
"If the choice is between allowing Iran to go nuclear, or trying for ourselves what Obama won't try, then we probably have to try," one senior Israeli official told Goldberg. Basically, the Israeli military officials agreed that it would be tough for Israel to do it alone – but on the other hand, the conclusion is Netanyahu might well risk this operation and alienation of his closest ally if he becomes convinced Iran's nuclear bomb "represents a threat like a Shoah."
Goldberg delves into Netanyahu's relations with his father – the historical lessons he learned from Ben-Zion Netanyahu – and his eagerness not to disappoint him. He also offers a long list of Iran's verbal hostilities toward Israel to remind his readers that Israel is not personally obsessed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I once asked Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a leading Iranian diplomat who is now Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, why the leadership of Iran persistently described Israel not as a mere regional malefactor but as a kind of infectious disease. 'Do you disagree?' he asked. 'Do you not see that this is true?'" Goldberg writes.
A recent poll conducted in six Arab countries showed a shift of opinion in favor of the Iranian nuclear weapon – views that the Arab leadership clearly doesn't share with the street.
For Netanyahu, it's clear the bomb will not only strengthen Iran's proxies, but will undermine Israel's status as a safe haven for Jews, embolden terrorists all over the word, and make the Arab countries more reluctant to make peace with Israel.
According to Goldberg, all the Arab officials he spoke to didn't think that the U.S. administration truly understood Iran's ambitions. "The best way to avoid striking Iran is to make Iran think that the U.S. is about to strike Iran. We have to know the president's intentions on this matter. We are his allies," one Arab minister told Goldberg.
Dennis Ross, special adviser to the U.S. president, told the Atlantic that imposing sanctions on Iran could work, despite Israeli doubts, because the Iranian government already faces public alienation. "They are looking at the costs of trying to maintain control over a disaffected public. They wanted to head off sanctions because they knew that sanctions would be a problem. There is real potential here to affect their calculus. We're pursuing a path right now that has some potential."
Last week, Obama unexpectedly joined a White House briefing for a small group of senior reporters in Washington, raising questions whether he intended to convey some new message to Iran or hint at some new initiative. The accounts of the meetings were somewhat different, and the final impression was that there still is no answer for the question, what President Obama is ready to do if sanctions fail.
David Sanger, the New York Times reporter, heard from the White House sources that during his latest visit to Washington Netanyahu didn't list Iran as one of his top agenda items "whereas at the previous meetings when he has come here, [Iran] was the number one, two, and three issue," on the agenda, which might indicate that Netanyahu got some clear reassurances from the U.S. administration.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: War With Iran
We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war.
Israel's leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel.
This can be stopped, but only if you move quickly to pre-empt an Israeli attack by publicly condemning such a move before it happens.
We believe that comments by senior American officials, you included, reflect misplaced trust in Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu.
Actually, the phrasing itself can be revealing, as when CIA Director Panetta implied cavalierly that Washington leaves it up to the Israelis to decide whether and when to attack Iran, and how much "room" to give to the diplomatic effort.
On June 27, Panetta casually told ABC's Jake Tapper, "I think they are willing to give us the room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically … as opposed to changing them militarily."
Similarly, the tone you struck referring to Netanyahu and yourself in your July 7 interview with Israeli TV was distinctly out of tune with decades of unfortunate history with Israeli leaders.
"Neither of us try to surprise each other," you said, "and that approach is one that I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to." You may wish to ask Vice President Biden to remind you of the kind of surprises he has encountered in Israel.
Blindsiding has long been an arrow in Israel's quiver. During the emerging Middle East crisis in the spring of 1967, some of us witnessed closely a flood of Israeli surprises and deception, as Netanyahu's predecessors feigned fear of an imminent Arab attack as justification for starting a war to seize and occupy Arab territories.
We had long since concluded that Israel had been exaggerating the Arab "threat" — well before 1982 when former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin publicly confessed:
"In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."
Israel had, in fact, prepared well militarily and also mounted provocations against its neighbors, in order to provoke a response that could be used to justify expansion of its borders.
Given this record, one would be well advised to greet with appropriate skepticism any private assurances Netanyahu may have given you that Israel would not surprise you with an attack on Iran.
Netanyahu believes he holds the high cards, largely because of the strong support he enjoys in our Congress and our strongly pro-Israel media. He reads your reluctance even to mention in controversial bilateral issues publicly during his recent visit as affirmation that he is in the catbird seat in the relationship.
During election years in the U.S. (including mid-terms), Israeli leaders are particularly confident of the power they and the Likud Lobby enjoy on the American political scene.
This prime minister learned well from Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon.
Netanyahu's attitude comes through in a video taped nine years ago and shown on Israeli TV, in which he bragged about how he deceived President Clinton into believing he (Netanyahu) was helping implement the Oslo accords when he was actually destroying them.
The tape displays a contemptuous attitude toward — and wonderment at — an America so easily influenced by Israel. Netanyahu says:
"America is something that can be easily moved. Moved in the right direction. … They won't get in our way … Eighty percent of the Americans support us. It's absurd."
Israeli columnist Gideon Levy wrote that the video shows Netanyahu to be "a con artist … who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes," adding that such behavior "does not change over the years."
As mentioned above, Netanyahu has had instructive role models.
None other than Gen. Brent Scowcroft told the Financial Times that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had George W. Bush "mesmerized;" that "Sharon just has him "wrapped around his little finger."
(Scowcroft was promptly relieved of his duties as chair of the prestigious President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and told never again to darken the White House doorstep.)
If further proof of American political support for Netanyahu were needed, it was manifest when Senators McCain, Lieberman, and Graham visited Israel during the second week of July.
Lieberman asserted that there is wide support in Congress for using all means to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power, including "through military actions if we must." Graham was equally explicit: "The Congress has Israel's back," he said.
More recently, 47 House Republicans have signed onto H.R. 1553 declaring "support for Israel's right to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by Iran … including the use of military force."
The power of the Likud Lobby, especially in an election year, facilitates Netanyahu's attempts to convince those few of his colleagues who need convincing that there may never be a more auspicious time to bring about "regime change" in Tehran.
And, as we hope your advisers have told you, regime change, not Iranian nuclear weapons, is Israel's primary concern.
If Israel's professed fear that one or two nuclear weapons in Iran's arsenal would be a game changer, one would have expected Israeli leaders to jump up and down with glee at the possibility of seeing half of Iran's low enriched uranium shipped abroad.
Instead, they dismissed as a "trick" the tripartite deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil with your personal encouragement, that would ship half of Iran's low enriched uranium outside Tehran's control.
The National Intelligence Estimate
The Israelis have been looking on intently as the U.S. intelligence community attempts to update, in a "Memorandum to Holders," the NIE of November 2007 on Iran's nuclear program. It is worth recalling a couple of that Estimate's key judgments:
"We judge with high confidence that in fall of 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. … We assess with moderate confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons …"
Earlier this year, public congressional testimony by former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair (February 1 & 2) and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Ronald Burgess with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. James Cartwright (April 14) did not alter those key judgments.
Blair and others continued to underscore the intelligence community's agnosticism on one key point: as Blair put it earlier this year, "We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build a nuclear weapon."
The media have reported off-the-cuff comments by Panetta and by you, with a darker appraisal — with you telling Israeli TV "… all indicators are that they [the Iranians] are in fact pursuing a nuclear weapon;" and Panetta telling ABC, "I think they continue to work on designs in that area [of weaponization]."
Panetta hastened to add, though, that in Tehran, "There is a continuing debate right now as to whether or not they ought to proceed with the bomb."
Israel probably believes it must give more weight to the official testimony of Blair, Burgess, and Cartwright, which dovetail with the earlier NIE, and the Israelis are afraid that the long-delayed Memorandum to Holders of the 2007 NIE will essentially affirm that Estimate's key judgments.
Our sources tell us that an honest Memorandum to Holders is likely to do precisely that, and that they suspect that the several-months-long delay means intelligence judgments are being "fixed" around the policy — as was the case before the attack on Iraq.
One War Prevented
The key judgments of the November 2007 NIE shoved an iron rod into the wheel spokes of the Dick Cheney-led juggernaut rolling toward war on Iran. The NIE infuriated Israel leaders eager to attack before President Bush and Vice President Cheney left office. This time, Netanyahu fears that issuance of an honest Memorandum might have similar effect.
Bottom line: more incentive for Israel to pre-empt such an Estimate by striking Iran sooner rather than later.
Last week's announcement that U.S. officials will meet next month with Iranian counterparts to resume talks on ways to arrange higher enrichment of Iranian low enriched uranium for Tehran's medical research reactor was welcome news to all but the Israeli leaders.
In addition, Iran reportedly has said it would be prepared to halt enrichment to 20 percent (the level needed for the medical research reactor), and has made it clear that it looks forward to the resumption of talks.
Again, an agreement that would send a large portion of Iran's LEU abroad would, at a minimum, hinder progress toward nuclear weapons, should Iran decide to develop them. But it would also greatly weaken Israel's scariest rationale for an attack on Iran.
Bottom line: with the talks on what Israel's leaders earlier labeled a "trick" now scheduled to resume in September, incentive builds in Tel Aviv for the Israelis to attack before any such agreement can be reached.
We'll say it again: the objective is regime change. Creating synthetic fear of Iranian nuclear weapons is simply the best way to "justify" bringing about regime change. Worked well for Iraq, no?
Another War in Need of Prevention
A strong public statement by you, personally warning Israel not to attack Iran would most probably head off such an Israeli move. Follow-up might include dispatching Adm. Mullen to Tel Aviv with military-to-military instructions to Israel: Don't Even Think of It.
In the wake of the 2007 NIE, President Bush overruled Vice President Cheney and sent Adm. Mullen to Israel to impart that hard message. A much-relieved Mullen arrived home that spring sure of step and grateful that he had dodged the likelihood of being on the end of a Cheney-inspired order for him to send U.S. forces into war with Iran.
This time around, Mullen returned with sweaty palms from a visit to Israel in February 2010. Ever since, he has been worrying aloud that Israel might mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran, while adding the obligatory assurance that the Pentagon does have an attack plan for Iran, if needed.
In contrast to his experience in 2008, though, Mullen seemed troubled that Israel's leaders did not take his warnings seriously.
While in Israel, Mullen insisted publicly that an attack on Iran would be "a big, big, big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences."
After his return, at a Pentagon press conference on Feb. 22 Mullen drove home the same point. After reciting the usual boilerplate about Iran being "on the path to achieve nuclear weaponization" and its "desire to dominate its neighbors," he included the following in his prepared remarks:
"For now, the diplomatic and the economic levers of international power are and ought to be the levers first pulled. Indeed, I would hope they are always and consistently pulled. No strike, however effective, will be, in and of itself, decisive."
Unlike younger generals — David Petraeus, for example — Adm. Mullen served in the Vietnam War. That experience is probably what prompts asides like this: "I would remind everyone of an essential truth: War is bloody and uneven. It's messy and ugly and incredibly wasteful …"
Although the immediate context for that remark was Afghanistan, Mullen has underscored time and again that war with Iran would be a far larger disaster. Those with a modicum of familiarity with the military, strategic and economic equities at stake know he is right.
In 2008, after Mullen read the Israelis the riot act, they put their pre-emptive plans for Iran aside. With that mission accomplished, Mullen gave serious thought to ways to prevent any unintended (or, for that matter, deliberately provoked) incidents in the crowded Persian Gulf that could lead to wider hostilities.
Mullen sent up an interesting trial balloon at a July 2, 2008, press conference, when he indicated that military-to-military dialogue could "add to a better understanding" between the U.S. and Iran. But nothing more was heard of this overture, probably because Cheney ordered him to drop it.
It was a good idea — still is. The danger of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation in the crowded Persian Gulf has not been addressed, and should be. Establishment of a direct communications link between top military officials in Washington and Tehran would reduce the danger of an accident, miscalculation, or covert, false-flag attack.
In our view, that should be done immediately — particularly since recently introduced sanctions assert a right to inspect Iranian ships. The naval commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards reportedly has threatened "a response in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz," if anyone tries to inspect Iranian ships in international waters.
Another safety valve would result from successful negotiation of the kind of bilateral "incidents-at-sea" protocol that was concluded with the Russians in 1972 during a period of relatively high tension.
With only interim nobodies at the helm of the intelligence community, you may wish to consider knocking some heads together yourself and insisting that it finish an honest Memorandum to Holders of the 2007 NIE by mid-August — recording any dissents, as necessary.
Sadly, our former colleagues tell us that politicization of intelligence analysis did not end with the departure of Bush and Cheney…and that the problem is acute even at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which in the past has done some of the best professional, objective, tell-it-like-it-is analysis.
Pundits, Think Tanks: Missing the Point
As you may have noticed, most of page one of Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section was given to an article titled, "A Nuclear Iran: Would America Strike to Prevent It? — Imagining Obama's Response to an Iranian Missile Crisis."
Page five was dominated by the rest of the article, under the title "Who will blink first when Iran is on the brink?"
A page-wide photo of a missile rolling past Iranian dignitaries on a reviewing stand (reminiscent of the familiar parades on Red Square) is aimed at the centerfold of the Outlook section, as if poised to blow it to smithereens.
Typically, the authors address the Iranian "threat" as though it endangers the U.S., even though Secretary Clinton has stated publicly that this is not the case. They write that one option for the U.S. is "the lonely, unpopular path of taking military action lacking allied consensus." O Tempora, O Mores!
In less than a decade, wars of aggression have become nothing more than lonely, unpopular paths.
What is perhaps most remarkable, though, is that the word Israel is nowhere to be found in this very long article. Similar think pieces, including some from relatively progressive think tanks, also address these issues as though they were simply bilateral U.S.-Iranian problems, with little or no attention to Israel.
Guns of August?
The stakes could hardly be higher. Letting slip the dogs of war would have immense repercussions. Again, we hope that Adm. Mullen and others have given you comprehensive briefings on them.
Netanyahu would be taking a fateful gamble by attacking Iran, with high risk to everyone involved. The worst, but conceivable case, has Netanyahu playing — unintentionally — Dr. Kevorkian to the state of Israel.
Even if the U.S. were to be sucked into a war provoked by Israel, there is absolutely no guarantee that the war would come out well.
Were the U.S. to suffer significant casualties, and were Americans to become aware that such losses came about because of exaggerated Israeli claims of a nuclear threat from Iran, Israel could lose much of its high standing in the United States.
There could even be an upsurge in anti-Semitism, as Americans conclude that officials with dual loyalties in Congress and the executive branch threw our troops into a war provoked, on false pretenses, by Likudniks for their own narrow purposes.
We do not have a sense that major players in Tel Aviv or in Washington are sufficiently sensitive to these critical factors.
You are in position to prevent this unfortunate, but likely chain reaction. We allow for the possibility that Israeli military action might not lead to a major regional war, but we consider the chances of that much less than even.
Footnote: VIPS Experience
We VIPS have found ourselves in this position before. We prepared our first Memorandum for the President on the afternoon of February 5, 2003 after Colin Powell's speech at the UN.
We had been watching how our profession was being corrupted into serving up faux intelligence that was later criticized (correctly) as "uncorroborated, contradicted, and nonexistent" — adjectives used by former Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller after a five-year investigation by his committee.
As Powell spoke, we decided collectively that the responsible thing to do was to try to warn the President before he acted on misguided advice to attack Iraq. Unlike Powell, we did not claim that our analysis was "irrefutable and undeniable." We did conclude with this warning:
"After watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic."
We take no satisfaction at having gotten it right on Iraq. Others with claim to more immediate expertise on Iraq were issuing similar warnings. But we were kept well away from the wagons circled by Bush and Cheney.
Sadly, your own Vice President, who was then chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the most assiduous in blocking opportunities for dissenting voices to be heard. This is part of what brought on the worst foreign policy disaster in our nation's history.
We now believe that we may also be right on (and right on the cusp of) another impending catastrophe of even wider scope — Iran — on which another President, you, are not getting good advice from your closed circle of advisers.
They are probably telling you that, since you have privately counseled Prime Minister Netanyahu against attacking Iran, he will not do it. This could simply be the familiar syndrome of telling the President what they believe he wants to hear.
Quiz them; tell them others believe them to be dead wrong on Netanyahu. The only positive here is that you — only you — can prevent an Israeli attack on Iran.
Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
The AfPak Situation
PEPE ESCOBAR, TRNN: Washington
PEPE ESCOBAR, TRNN: Washington
BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: What we want to do is to refocus attention on al-Qaeda. We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack US citizens, US soil, US interests, and our allies' interests around the world. In order for us to do that, we have to ensure that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can serve as a safe haven for al-Qaeda.
PEPE ESCOBAR, SENIOR ANALYST, TRNN: Washington, we got a problem. Why do you need a surge of 17,000 troops deployed against the Taliban in the poppy-growing province of Helmand in the south, and not in the east and southeast in Afghanistan, plus 4,000 advisers to train the Afghan army, if you actually need to fight no more than 200 or 300 al-Qaeda roaming in Afghanistan plus another 400 maximum in the Pakistani tribal areas? And, by the way, they're not Afghans; they're mostly Arabs with a few Uzbeks, Chechens, and Uyghurs thrown in. Anyway, the puppet in Kabul, he loved Obama's plan to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban, especially because it involves the improbable hunt for the good Taliban mixed with special ops inside Pakistan. The puppet in Islamabad, well, he loved it too, but his foreign office diplomats definitely didn't. AfPak has got to be 2009's prime theater of the absurd. It took The New York Times and usual American officials something like 13 years to discover that the Pakistani ISI, their CIA, helps the Taliban, and this while the CIA, alongside with the ISI pals, they are compiling a mega hit list in the Pashtun tribal areas inside Pakistan. So maybe this is what CENTCOM's supremo general David Petraeus means by trilateral love affair.
MAN: It's also important that this be trilateral. And, in fact, as Richard explains frequently, the intelligence services of these two countries, which have had quite a bit of enmity between them, they also have to cooperate. And we're going to work together, all of us, to try to foster that cooperation as well.
ESCOBAR: Dependent on Petraeus' preferred pal is Pakistani army's chief general, Ashfaq Kayani. He loved what is not in Obama's presentation of the surge—the drone war over Pashtun lands. As for the Pakistani people, who have no say in all of this, they see it as a charade and al-Qaeda as a threat to the US and not to Pakistan.
OBAMA: What we want to do is say to the Pakistani people: you are our friends, you are our allies, we are going to give you the tools to defeat al-Qaeda and to root out these safe havens, but we also expect some accountability, and we expect that you understand the severity and the nature of the threat. In addition what we want to do is to help Pakistan grow its economy, to be able to provide basic services to its people, and that, I think, will help strengthen those efforts. If the Pakistan government doesn't have credibility, if they are weakened, then it's going to be much more difficult for them to deal with the extremism within their borders.
ESCOBAR: So Obama is selling all this basically as nation-building based on trust. But the US cannot trust the ISI and the Pakistani government, while the Pakistani people, they cannot trust the US. Now, take a look at this manual prepared by US Army Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC—one more wonderful Pentagon acronym for us to memorize. It's all spelled out. This is a US war against, yes, Pashtuns who are funded by drug-smuggling and US allies in the Gulf—they don't say that, but they are US allies in the Gulf—who are trained and assist by, yes, the ISI, with some, in fact, marginal al-Qaeda assistance. Al-Qaeda's a detail. The Americans don't understand al-Qaeda. They have a pan-Islamic agenda, while the various groups we call the Taliban are in a war against foreign occupation. On page 10, they finally admit that Karzai in Kabul is supported by a lot of warlord militias involved in crime, narcotrafficking, and smuggling. The key thing here is not terrorism; it is the control over the very, very lucrative poppy-heroin manufacturing and smuggling routes. Then there's the stark admission by a former Taliban that they are not the real enemy. If Kabul was not so corrupt, incapable of providing security for ordinary Afghans, most Pashtuns would not even be Taliban. Well, no wonder the Obama administration, they will love to get rid of Hamid Karzai. So this is not exactly about terrorists, is it? In Asia they know it. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which groups China, Russia, and the 'Stans of Central Asia, they're all neighbors of Afghanistan. They met in Moscow last week to discuss Afghanistan ahead of the NATO meeting in the Hague this week, privileged by the US. And this is how Asia sees it. And that's one of the key issues that are absolutely taboo for Obama to touch upon. They don't want US military bases in Central Asia. And no wonder Iran, which is currently observer and soon a full member, said the SCO is no way to solve the whole mess in Afghanistan, and not NATO. At least 40 percent of Afghans, they are either Shiites or they speak Dari, which is a Persian language. So the ties with Iran are very, very close. Well, at least Holbrooke admits it.
MAN: The door is open for Iran to participate in international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Those must involve all the neighbors, including India, China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, plus our NATO allies.
ESCOBAR: And if Holbrooke is clever, he should immediately buy dinner for legendary mujahid Ismael Khan, the Lion of Herat.
VOICEOVER TRANSLATION: Naturally, if there was friendship between Iran and America, it will not only benefit these two countries; it will help the region and very directly affect Afghanistan.
ESCOBAR: Did Obama's strategic reviewers read this report? Well, apparently not. It states, and I quote, "The mere presence of foreign soldiers fighting a war in Afghanistan is probably the single-most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban." So would you buy a used car—I'm sorry, war, from people like Mullen, Petraeus, McKiernan? Well, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who's seen them all since Kennedy, he wouldn't. They resemble all too closely the gutless general officers who never looked down at what was really happening in Vietnam. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of that time have been called, not without reason, a sewer of deceit. So what if this has nothing to do with terrorists but, number one, Cold War mentality in action, a Vietnam-style surge expanding the war, then to Cambodia and now to Pakistan? The US empire of bases, close surveillance over Russia and China, and block Russia from a route to the Middle East via Pakistan. And last but not least, the energy wars. And this is what it's all about. I'll show you here in my non-digital, non-CNN magic map. Look, this is the 7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, the TAPI pipeline. It goes from here, Turkmenistan, crosses Herat to east of Iran (that's where Ismael Khan's territory is), crosses this very, very long Taliban-controlled area in the Helmand and [inaudible] provinces, crosses Balochistan in Pakistan, and goes to the Pakistani port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea. So is AfPak the Pentagon's AIG—bail them out, don't let them fail? Would it be Obama's Vietnam? Whatever it is, it's not about terrorists. Not really. Follow the money, follow the energy, follow the map.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
January 20, 2012
Below some links to articles concerning Iran from ForeignAffairs, the CFR's mouthpiece, which sometimes reflects ongoing discussions but mostly sells decisions already made to the public.
Essay - Jan/Feb 2012Matthew Kroenig
Opponents of military action against Iran assume a U.S. strike would be far more dangerous than simply letting Tehran build a bomb. Not so, argues this former Pentagon defense planner. With a carefully designed attack, Washington could mitigate the costs and spare the region and the world from an unacceptable threat. Read
ResponseColin H. Kahl
Matthew Kroenig's recent article in this magazine argued that a military strike against Iran would be "the least bad option" for stopping its nuclear program. But the war Kroenig calls for would be far messier than he predicts, and Washington still has better options available. Read
Author InterviewColin H. Kahl
As part of Foreign Affairs' The Iran Debate: To Strike or Not to Strike, Georgetown Professor Colin H. Kahl took questions submitted to the conversation from Twitter. Read
Jamie M. Fly and
Bombing Iran's nuclear program would only be a temporary fix. Instead, the United States should plan a larger military operation that also aims to destabilize the regime and, in turn, resolves the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all. Read
Alexandre Debs and
To suggest a nuclear Iran would result in a cascade of proliferation across the Middle East neglects the United States' power to prevent clients from building their own bombs. Read