While the rhetoric between Iran and its enemies has reached new heights - with Iran's defense minister reportedly threatening the use of "hidden capabilities which are kept for rainy days" in response to a foreign attack - the diplomatic front is also busier than ever. A great deal of expectation is placed on the meeting between United States President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next Monday, just as a great deal of attention is focused on Israel's preparations to strike the Iranian nuclear program.
Yet while Israel is one of the noisiest participants in the stand-off, it is by far not the only important player to watch. From a long rostrum of powers with heavy stakes (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and China immediately come to mind), Russia seems to be driving a particularly hard bargain with the US and its allies. Though not
much is known about these secret negotiations, what seems apparent is that the fates of Iran and Syria are intricately linked.
To be sure, the exchange of high-ranking American and Israeli officials has grown into a "parade" over the last month, to borrow the description of the Jerusalem Post. According to reports in the Israeli press, some kind of a grand bargain on Iran is shaping up between the two allies, to be concluded - ideally - during the visit of Netanyahu and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, to Washington in about a week. (The influential Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, is currently there; the formal occasion for the upcoming visit of Peres and Netanyahu is the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)
Despite last week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to which Iran's uranium enrichment has expanded significantly,  and despite the urgency which Israeli officials have sounded, there is increased talk about postponing the strike against the Islamic Republic until after the American elections in November. To be more precise, there are increased indications of massive American pressure on Israel to desist from attacking for now. "For the Americans, the upcoming summit reportedly has only one main aim: Receiving a Netanyahu pledge that Israel will not be striking Iran in the near future," writes the Israeli news site Ynet. 
Late last week, amid little fanfare, Senators Joseph Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and Robert Casey introduced a resolution that would move America further down the path toward war with Iran.
The good news is that the resolution hasn't been universally embraced in the Senate. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, the resolution has "provoked jitters among Democrats anxious over the specter of war." The bad news is that, as Kampeas also reports, "AIPAC is expected to make the resolution an 'ask' in three weeks when up to 10,000 activists culminate its annual conference with a day of Capitol Hill lobbying."
In standard media accounts, the resolution is being described as an attempt to move the "red line"--the line that, if crossed by Iran, could trigger a US military strike. The Obama administration has said that what's unacceptable is for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This resolution speaks instead of a "nuclear weapons capability." In other words, Iran shouldn't be allowed to get to a point where, should it decide to produce a nuclear weapon, it would have the wherewithal to do so.
By itself this language is meaninglessly vague. Does "capability" mean the ability to produce a bomb within two months? Two years? If two years is the standard, Iran has probably crossed the red line already. (So should we start bombing now?) Indeed, by the two-year standard, Iran might well be over the red line even after a bombing campaign--which would at most be a temporary setback, and would remove any doubt among Iran's leaders as to whether to build nuclear weapons, and whether to make its nuclear program impervious to future American and Israeli bombs. What do we do then? Invade?
In other words, if interpreted expansively, the "nuclear weapons capability" threshold is a recipe not just for war, but for ongoing war--war that wouldn't ultimately prevent the building of a nuclear weapon without putting boots on the ground. And it turns out that the authors of this resolution want "nuclear weapons capability" interpreted very expansively.
Well in advance of the 2014 centennial of the beginning of “the war to end all wars,” the First World War is suddenly everywhere in our lives. Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse opened on 2,376 movie screens and has collected six Oscar nominations, while the hugely successful play it’s based on is still packing in the crowds in New York and a second production is being readied to tour the country.
In addition, the must-watch TV soap opera of the last two months, Downton Abbey, has just concluded its season on an unexpected kiss. In seven episodes, its upstairs-downstairs world of forbidden love and dynastic troubles took American viewers from mid-war, 1916, beyond the Armistice, with the venerable Abbey itself turned into a convalescent hospital for wounded troops. Other dramas about the 1914-1918 war are on the way, among them an HBO-BBC miniseries based on Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End quartet of novels, and a TV adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong from an NBC-backed production company.
In truth, there’s nothing new in this. Filmmakers and novelists have long been fascinated by the way the optimistic, sunlit, pre-1914 Europe of emperors in plumed helmets and hussars on parade so quickly turned into a mass slaughterhouse on an unprecedented scale. And there are good reasons to look at the First World War carefully and closely.
After all, it was responsible for the deaths of some nine million soldiers and an even larger number of civilians. It helped ignite the Armenian genocide and the Russian Revolution, left large swaths of Europe in smoldering ruins, and remade the world for the worse in almost every conceivable way — above all, by laying the groundwork for a second and even more deadly, even more global war.
There are good reasons as well for us to be particularly haunted by what happened in those war years to the country that figures in all four of these film and TV productions: Britain. In 1914, that nation was at the apex of glory, the unquestioned global superpower, ruling over the largest empire the world had ever seen. Four and a half years later its national debt had increased tenfold, more than 720,000 British soldiers were dead, and hundreds of thousands more seriously wounded, many of them missing arms, legs, eyes, genitals.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that Al Qaeda and other organizations on the US “terror list” are supporting the Syrian opposition.
Clinton said: “We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, al-Qaida [sic], Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be sure, supporting – claiming to support the opposition [in Syria].”  (Click here to watch video)
Yet at the same time, in the above BBC interview the US Secretary of State repeats the threadbare Western claim that the situation in Syria is one of a defenceless population coming under “relentless attack” from Syrian government forces.
There is ample evidence that teams of snipers who have been killing civilians over the past year in Syria belong to the terrorist formations to which Clinton is referring to.
As Michel Chossudovsky points out in a recent article: “Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups – covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence – have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings, including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers, including mercenaries, have targeted the police, armed forces as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians. While the Syrian government and military bear a heavy burden of responsibility, it is important to underscore the fact that these terrorist acts – including the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children – are part of a US-NATO-Israeli initiative, which consists is supporting, training and financing ‘an armed entity’ operating inside Syria.” 
AIPAC’s Washington policy conference next month is drawing intense scrutiny and unprecedented resistance. AIPAC has worked quietly for years to tripwire the United States into war with Iran. Soon it will “ask” Congress and the president to define “nuclear weapons capability” as the threshold for war, essentially demanding an immediate attack. Because Iran presents no military threat to the United States, many Americans wonder exactly where such costly and potentially disastrous policies are formulated. Recently declassified FBI files reveal how Israeli government officials first orchestrated public relations and policies through the U.S. lobby. Counter-espionage investigations of proto-AIPAC’s first coordinating meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of Mossad provide a timely and useful framework for understanding how AIPAC continues to localize and market Israeli government policies in America.
Although AIPAC claims it rose “from a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s,” its true origin can be traced to Oct. 16, 1948. This is the date AIPAC’s founder Isaiah L. Kenen and four others established the Israel Office of Information under Israel’s U.N. mission. It was later moved under the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The IOI opened offices in New York City, Washington, and Los Angeles, which became testbeds for working out how Israeli government leaders would promote lobbying initiatives through public relations harnessing the power and financial support of American organizations and supporters. Although the FBI nervously noted IOI founder Kenen had become a member of the Communist Party in 1937 while working as a newspaperman at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, he was never the subject of a criminal investigation. Only because Kenen interacted with so many U.S. and foreign nationals who were targets of espionage, foreign counter-intelligence, and domestic security investigations (such as super-lobbyist Abraham Feinberg, Israeli diplomats, and assorted Mossad officers) did Kenen’s movements appear as cross-references in hundreds of pages of recently declassified FBI documents [.pdf].
Isaiah Kenen became a savvy PR operative working as the director of public relations for the Israeli United Nations delegation after he left the Plain Dealer. It is because of Kenen’s public relations acumen and contacts the IOI could insert Israeli propaganda directly into establishment U.S. media. One IOI Public Relations Board meeting held in the Israeli Consulate General in New York on May 9, 1949, pushed U.S. media initiatives aimed at boosting Israel’s economy. The IOI wanted to “place a series of pieces in from eight to twelve top magazines” including Reader’s Digest and Cosmopolitan by “making funds available for important propaganda programs.” New York IOI focused on “U.N., Organizations (Jewish), and the press emanating from New York” while the IOI Washington office covered “other embassies, Congress, Washington Press, and the National Press Club.”
It was during a July 18, 1949, meeting that Israeli Counsel Reuven Dafni informed Isaiah Kenen and others that Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett in coordination with Mossad founder Reuven Shiloah and Israeli ambassador to the United States Eliahu Elath had recently conducted a strategy session about public relations and “thrashed out” everything except for the question of funding. Kenen reported that his New York IOI was ready to go. The FBI description reveals that it was already functioning somewhat like a Mossad intelligence outpost. IOI New York was responsible for receiving information cables from Israel. “One member of the staff spent much of the day decoding and stenciling” the cables. IOI offices established secure communications crisscrossing the U.S. Dafni “reported that his [Kenen's] office and the Washington IOI worked out a code so that classified messages could be translated.”
Marine Le Pen, the daughter of the founder French National Front Jean-Marie Le Pen is doing well in the polls. November last year she even scored higher than the sitting president Nicolas Sarkozy. Moreover, the National Front is doing very well among young voters and the workers. She is gaining momentum and she wants to change the edgy image of the National Front to appeal to a greater public by renouncing anti-Semitism and reaching out at Israel. In November 2011 she was in New York to visit the United Nations, where she had a meeting with the Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor, which later said it was based on a ‘misunderstanding’.
No matter how hard Marine Le Pen tries to reach out for Jewish approval she is not going to get it and never will. Richard Pasquier, the president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, recently expressed his dislike of Marine Le Pen: “Concerning her attempts to lure Jewish voters, pretending to have been far from anti-Semitism, I was never wrong. Her recent appearance at a party in Vienna alongside neo-Nazis reveals what it has always been. I hope this has opened the eyes of the most naive.”
What has happened? Has Marine Le Pen been spotted with streetfighters in army boots??
On 27th January Marine Le Pen attended the yearly debutante ball in the famous Hofburg in Vienna, which is organized by the ring of student corporations, which can trace their roots back to the 19th century. It was the 59th time the ball had been held, but in recent years radical-left organizations have been protesting against the ball being held in the Hofburg, and got their way: this year was the last time the ball will be held in the Hofburg. Marine Le Pen attended the ball at the invitation of Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO). However, this year the radical-left was supported by multi-millionaire and real estate mogul Ariel Muzicant, the president of the Jewish community in Vienna, because the ball was held on “Holocaust Memorial Day” which happened to coincide with the traditional time for the ball, the last Friday in January.
There is no point in courting the Jews to support European nationalist parties. Besides, the greatest victories of the right were scored without Jewish support, like Jörg Haider’s landslide victory in Austria in 1999
Peter Beinart, former editor of The New Republic – a magazine instrumental in getting us into every major war we’ve ever been in – and a born-again peacenik when it comes to Iran, wonders aloud:
“How can it be, less than a decade after the U.S. invaded Iraq, that the Iran debate is breaking down along largely the same lines, and the people who were manifestly, painfully wrong about that war are driving the debate this time as well? Culturally, it’s a fascinating question—and too depressing for words.”
The real cause of Beinart’s malaise isn’t hard to identify. It’s democracy, American-style, i.e. rule by the screamers, that has him sick at heart. Under our system of elected oligarchy, whoever screams the loudest gets the biggest piece of the policy pie. Since most normal Americans don’t think about foreign policy issues except when it’s thrown in their faces – a major war breaks out, or if the blowback from one of our overseas extravaganzas takes them by surprise – the debate on this subject is dominated by a triad of special interest groups: 1) The military-industrial complex, otherwise known as war profiteers, 2) the neoconservatives, who believe in perpetual war as a matter of high principle, and 3) the well-organized and wealthy Israel lobby, which has as its mandate to keep the US engaged not only with Israel but with the global network of protectorates, alliances, and client states that make up the American Empire.
Together with incidental allies (e.g. the Albanian Mafia during the Kosovo conflict), these three forces control the terms of the foreign policy discourse in this country, and little deviation from the party line is tolerated. When it comes to the pundits and the politicians, it doesn’t matter much whether they’re ostensibly liberal or conservative: internationalism of one sort or another is the order of the day. The “mainstream” media plays a big role in orchestrating this unanimity, in part because they’re easily manipulated – and often owned – by the very corporate and ideological interests pushing the War Party’s agenda.
Bombing Iran could be the final nail in the coffin of America—a decaying and morally bankrupt superpower where torture has been normalized and where the President is now free to kill anyone he chooses, anywhere in the world, who he happens to suspect is a terrorist.
Right now, Iran appears to be the object of universal detestation, at least among those who control the mainstream media and who are anxious to persuade the easily duped masses that Iran is a major threat to civilization.
Iran is perfectly capable of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz if it wishes, doing immense damage to the US navy in the process. It possesses a vast array of anti-ship weapons called Sunburn missiles, which it has procured from Russia and China over the last decade. These are state-of-the-art weapons developed by the Russians as a low-cost challenge to the expensive, tech-heavy weaponry of the US. Specifically, they are designed to sink ships, including America’s titanic aircraft carriers.
The imminent conflict, which now belongs in the high probability spectrum, is a conflict into which Russia and China cannot fail to be drawn. Their interests are inextricably linked with those of Iran. You could say that Iran is their semi-independent protectorate and ally.
If Iran were attacked and if Russia and China stood by and did nothing, they would lose face forever. They would be signaling to the world that they are weaklings, only too ready to cower at the feet of the American superbully. Indeed, they would then be next on America’s hit list.
On February 23, China also announced it would not attend the "Friends of Syria" aka "Enemies of Assad" meeting in Tunisia this Friday designed to further delegitimize and isolate Assad to pave the way for his ouster, putting it at odds with the West, the Gulf nations, and much of the Arab League.
China had already dispatched Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun to Syria and the Middle East to lobby for Russia's and China's (and Assad's) preferred solution to the crisis: channeling political and opposition activity into votes on a referendum on a new Syrian constitution on February 26, and parliamentary elections four months down the road.
Chinese diplomats have also reached out to the Arab League to argue that the PRC's stance is in line with the league's policy on Syria.
China took the extra step of decoupling its position from Russia's, presenting itself as an honest broker and not an Assad partisan, and reaching out further into the ranks of Syria's opposition to publicize its contacts with Haitham Manna of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.
Chinese papers are full of articles asserting the "principled stand" and "responsibility" of China's Syria policy, one that will "withstand the test of history".
At one time Bob Cordier, from the Washington FBI office, called me to tell me that, during the investigation into Alex Odeh's murder (Alex was one of my staff people) the FBI had uncovered a "plot" on my life. Not a threat, but a plot, but, he said it's OK now, as the guy who intended to murder me had now gone back to Israel. Alex Odeh's murder came not long after I had run four full page ads in the Washington Post asking for support against the Israel Lobby. My assumption was that, reading the ads had enraged the plotter, which led him to bomb the ADC office in Orange County, California.
I also assume that the plotter was Robert Manning, a hit man who was later convicted of the murder of the secretary of a Jewish businessman in California. Apparently Manning had been hired by another Jewish businessman who was a competitor. They found the fingerprints both of Manning and of his wife on remnants of the letter bomb that was sent to his target, but opened by his secretary, who died as a result of the explosion.
Si Kenen, who was then Executive Director of AIPAC, used to tell anyone who knew me, to tell Abourezk "we're going get him." And when I returned from a trip through the Middle East, I spoke about the trip at the Federal Press Club (reserved for women and blacks) and talked about how every Middle East leader I met with said they would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel if Israel would go back to the 1967 borders. A young fellow named Wolf Blitzer, who was then writing for AIPAC, rose to ask me several hostile questions before he walked out. The next issue of the AIPAC newsletter headlined that "Abourezk Sells Out to the Arabs." That was the beginning of the war, as I failed to collapse after that broadside, and worked to make AIPAC regret their unfair attack on me.
I used to take the lead in human rights legislation in the Senate. I once offered an amendment to a bill that would cut off American money for any country violating the human rights of their people. Before anyone would vote, I was asked during debate "whether the amendment would apply to Israel." When I said "no" I would get that person's vote.
The Gentile me believes this question needs to be addressed because there is a very real danger that the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism, which is being provoked by Israel’s terrifying arrogance of power and sickening self-righteousness, will be transformed into anti-Semitism unless two things happen.
The notion that anti-Israelism could be transformed into anti-Semitism is not new. In his book Israel’s Fateful Hour, published in 1986, Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s longest serving Director of Military Intelligence, gave this warning:
“Israel is the criterion according to which all Jews will tend to be judged. Israel as a Jewish state is an example of the Jewish character, which finds free and concentrated expression within it. Anti-Semitism has deep and historical roots. Nevertheless, any flaw in Israeli conduct, which initially is cited as anti-Israelism, is likely to be transformed into empirical proof of the validity of anti-Semitism. It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish state, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”
The fact that (pre-1967) Israel is a Zionist not a Jewish state – how could it be a Jewish state when a quarter of its citizens are Muslims (mainly) and Christians? – in no way diminishes Harkabi’s message.
He was, in fact, treading a quite well worn path. Prior to the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and as I document in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, most Jews, eminent American and British Jews especially, were opposed to Zionism’s enterprise in Palestine. They believed it to be morally wrong. They feared it would lead to unending conflict with the Arab and wider Muslim world. But most of all they feared that if Zionism was allowed by the major powers to have its way, it would one day provoke anti-Semitism.
Today, in my opinion, it can be said that Zionism wants and needs anti-Semitism in order to justify anything and everything its monster child does.
Serving U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Danny Davis has been attracting notoriety following his courageous statement that senior military commanders have been systematically deceiving the American people about the war in Afghanistan. As he points out, breezy assertions of “momentum,” and “progress,” as well as “hard fought achievements,” are belied not only by his personal observations in the field but also by easily available public information, most strikingly the remorseless up-tick of casualty statistics and enemy attacks even after the “surge” of the last few years.
But Davis has also cited an example of official military mendacity unrelated to Afghanistan that deserves more attention, since it is part of a pattern that will not go away when the troops come home. In 2007 he was assigned to work on an enormous army weapons program known as Future Combat Systems. It consisted of an assortment of manned and unmanned air and ground vehicles linked by computer networks that could automatically identify enemy targets so unerringly, according to proponents, that our vehicles would need little armor.
Despite repeated test failures, witheringly chronicled in regular reports from the General Accounting Office, senior army commanders testified with equal regularity that all was well, even displaying what was essentially a dummy in front of the Capitol as a “real” armored component of FCS. As Davis states in his leaked unclassified report “Dereliction of Duty,” when faced with “failure after failure in physical tests” the generals “willingly and knowingly misrepresented the matter to congress.” The program relieved taxpayers of some $20 billion before defense secretary Robert Gates finally cancelled it in 2009.
Unfortunately, procurement mendacity did not begin with that ill-starred program, nor, seemingly, did it end with its timely demise. Former inmates of the defense establishment may recall staunch official denials of bygone scandals such as the C-5A air transport cost overruns, memorably revealed by a senior air force management official, A. Ernest Fitzgerald – a commission of truth that promptly got him fired – or the Divad anti-aircraft gun, heroically defended by its army sponsors even after it mistook an outhouse fan for an enemy helicopter and ceased to function in wet weather.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan must mean that commanders will not longer feel the need to claim battlefield successes that are not there. It would be nice to think that the compulsion to make no less misleading claims about vastly expensive weapons programs will also disappear, but history suggests otherwise.
Alleged death of two Western journalists in Syria used to dance around UNSC veto.
You are an embattled nation with the entire world watching. Your allies Russia and China just made a major decision at the UN Security Council in your favor with much of their reputation and future at stake. Western propagandists have been relentlessly making up news stories regarding your nation no matter what you do, for nearly a year, starting with "Gay Girl in Damascus" who Syrian activists insisted was still real even after doubts began to surface, and leading up to daily reports from "activists say" coming out of London, England.
Your choices: continue a campaign to restore order in Homs which is admittedly overrun by cross-border militants and foreign terrorists operating with NATO support and arms, fighting under the banner of the "Free Syrian Army." Or, spend your time instead purposefully killing women and children in front of British and French journalists before plotting over easily-intercepted radios their spectacular deaths in front of a watching world?
Quite clearly there is something wrong with this narrative being given to us by the West, who have established themselves by a comfortable margin as serial liars. Iraq lost a million sons and daughters to these lies. Libya likewise was portrayed as a nation "massacring civilians" when it is now clear these "civilians" were US State Department-listed terrorists of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who are now conducting nationwide murder sprees.
Reading any report out of the corporate-media, we find Syria's campaign against admittedly armed rebels paradoxically referred to as a "massacre," and an almost palpable fervor to justify circumventing the latest UNSC resolution veto. As news comes out of the death of two foreign journalists in Homs, Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin who sneaked into Syria and were operating there illegally to begin with, Western leaders are unanimously calling this the "breaking point." France's Nicolas Sarkozy even stated, "that's enough now, this regime must go and there is no reason that Syrians don't have the right to live their lives and choose their destiny freely."
The American people don’t particularly want a new war in the Middle East, but apparently Congress and Washington’s most powerful lobby do. Thirty-two senators have co-sponsored a resolution that will constrain the White House from adopting any policy vis-à-vis Iran’s “nuclear weapons capability” that amounts to “containment.” The senators include the familiar figures of Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both of whom have persistently called for military action. They and the other senators have presented their proposal in a particularly deceptive fashion, asserting that they are actually supporting the White House position, which they are not. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta repeated on Feb. 16 that Iran does not have and is not currently building a nuclear device. Before Christmas, he stated clearly that the “red line” for the United States is actual Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon. Even Israel’s intelligence services agree that Iran is not building a bomb. What we are seeing play out in Congress is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) position, which is that Iran has already crossed a “red line.” The AIPAC argument will no doubt be spelled out in more detail next month at the group’s annual convention in the nation’s capital, a meeting that will be addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will attract nearly all of Washington’s power brokers.
Rejection of containment in this context and as spelled out in the resolution means that the United States will be forced to go to war if Iran attains the capability to put together a nuclear weapon. Indeed, one might argue that the United States should be at war already, based on the resolution. “Capability” is one of those particularly useful expressions that is extremely elastic and can be interpreted subjectively. By most standards, Iran already has the technical know-how to make a nuclear bomb and has most of the materials on hand to put one together, assuming it can enrich the uranium it possesses to the required level. The Iranians may not, in fact, have the engineering skills to do so, and the task of creating a small, sophisticated device that can be mounted on a ballistic missile is certainly far beyond their current capabilities and probably unachievable given the costs involved and the poor state of their economy.
There are about 50 countries in the world that have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon if they chose to do so, making Iran far from unique but for its persistence as a thorn in the side of Israel and Israel’s powerful lobby in the United States. In other words, Iran does not have to actually produce a nuclear weapon for it to be subject to attack by either Israel or the United States. It only has to continue to be an irritant for Israel.
The new threat of war takes the Bush doctrine of preemption to a whole new level. Some sources in the Obama administration are anonymously warning that war with Iran is nearly certain and are predicting it to break out in late summer. That would be just before the presidential election, a time in which Obama will be seeking desperately to seize the high ground on Israel’s security from whomever the Republicans nominate. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not even have to mimic Colin Powell by going to the United Nations to seek authorization for an attack using false and fabricated information. Everyone can agree that the mullahs do not actually have a weapon and may not even want to acquire one, but it’s fine to bomb them anyway. The U.S. Senate approves, so off we go to another misadventure in the Middle East
One of the most successful frauds ever perpetrated upon the American people is the notion that the CIA exists to provide intelligence to the president. In fact, the CIA’s intimate links to Wall Street strongly suggest that the CIA was created to serve the perceived interests of investment bankers. The well documented links to Wall Street can be traced to the founding of the agency.
As worded, the passage grants the CIA no authority on its own to stage operational activities, but only as instructed by the National Security Council. Moreover, the passage “from time to time” indicates that Congress never intended that such operations would become a full time program. Prouty argues that the CIA and the Secret Team immediately “tested this clause in the act and began to practice their own interpretation of its meaning.”x Unfortunately, the National Security Council failed to live up to the role intended by Congress, that is, to provide leadership and direction.
In part, this happened because NSC members had other full-time duties and were not able to allocate sufficient time and energy to direct the CIA and keep it honest. Before long, the NSC had delegated its primary responsibilities to subcommittees, which the CIA easily captured by packing them with its supporters through patient maneuvering and unrelenting pressure. Soon, the NSC became a rubber stamp for a full-time program of endless black operations.
The CIA also insinuated its supporters and agents throughout the other branches of government: into the FAA, the Departments of State and Defense, even within the White House. From that point on, in the words of Prouty, the agency created “its own inertial drift….without the knowledge of most higher level authorities.” Through the use of organizational strategies like compartmentalization and plausible deniability, and by limiting the flow of information to “a need to know basis,” the CIA succeeded in keeping its covert operations, even large ones, secret from the very government officials charged with their oversight.
With the U.S. and the European Union (EU) imposing one of the toughest sanction regimes ever on Iran’s economic and financial lifeline, the world is inching closer to a potential catastrophic war at the heart of the Middle East. Meanwhile, Israel is suggesting a pre-emptive strike if sanctions fail to deter Iran’s nuclear program, while Tehran has vowed to retaliate on an international scale if it comes under attack.
However, determined to lift the economic siege and avoid a potential conflict, Iran has shown an increasing interest in reviving talks. Not only has Iran welcomed successive rounds of IAEA visit to its nuclear facilities, but it has also shown interest in engaging in substantive talks, with Turkey and Russia acting as primary interlocutors. It is high time for the West to re-think the sanctions track, and craft a real strategy byfinally giving true diplomacy a chance. This might be our last opportunity at avoiding tragedy.
Punishing the Iranian People
The economic sanctions are targeting Iran’s main exports, namely oil and gas, and increasingly freezing Iran’s central bank out of global financial markets. This has made it extremely difficult for Tehran to engage in large-scale, dollar-denominated international transactions, forcing Iran to rely on cumbersome and often uncertain third party financial institutions to undertake huge trade deals.
The strategic alternative to diplomacy is war, because sanctions are only a tactical maneuver to achieve strategic ends. However, sanctions, especially in the case of Iran, do nothing but to punish the innocent majority, embitter the society, and embolden the hawks at the expense of pragmatists.
Technically, Iran’s economy is just too big to cripple, without risking a global energy shock, and the Iranian’ nuclear complex is just too advanced to dismantle. Iran will be able to withstand heavy sanctions, because the country will still have billions of dollars to prop-up its military and advance its nuclear program. Therefore, it is crucial for the West to give diplomacy a chance and recalibrate a futile emphasis on sanctions
As someone who teaches both history and international relations, I have one foot in each camp. I'm interested in what has already happened. And I'm interested in what will happen next. In my teaching and my writing, I try to locate connecting tissue that links past to present. Among the devices I've employed to do that is the concept of an "American Century."
That evocative phrase entered the American lexicon back in February 1941, the title of an essay appearing in Life magazine under the byline of the publishing mogul Henry Luce. In advancing the case for U.S. entry into World War II, the essay made quite a splash, as Luce intended. Yet the rush of events soon transformed "American Century" into much more than a bit of journalistic ephemera. It became a summons, an aspiration, a claim, a calling, and ultimately the shorthand identifier attached to an entire era. By the time World War II ended in 1945, the United States had indeed ascended—as Luce had forecast and perhaps as fate had intended all along—to a position of global primacy. Here was the American Century made manifest.
I love Luce's essay. I love its preposterous grandiosity. I delight in Luce's utter certainty that what we have is what they want, need, and, by gum, are going to get. "What can we say and foresee about an American Century?" he asks. "It must be a sharing with all peoples of our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our magnificent industrial products, our technical skills." I love, too, the way Luce guilelessly conjoins politics and religion, the son of Protestant missionaries depicting the United States as the Redeemer Nation. "We must undertake now to be the Good Samaritan of the entire world." How to do that? To Luce it was quite simple. He pronounced it America's duty "as the most powerful and vital nation in the world ... to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Would God or Providence have it any other way?
Luce's essay manages to be utterly ludicrous and yet deeply moving. Above all, this canonical assertion of singularity—identifying God's new Chosen People—is profoundly American. (Of course, I love Life in general. Everyone has a vice. Mine is collecting old copies of Luce's most imaginative and influential creation—and, yes, my collection includes the issue of February 17, 1941.)
We should all he outraged that Pat Buchanan has been fired by MSNBC. As he notes (“The New Blacklisting“; VDARE.com), his firing came after “after an incessant clamor from the left” resulting from the release of his book, Suicide of a Superpower. The problem is that Buchanan doesn’t accept the dogma that our multiracial/multicultural future is going to be just a wonderful place to live. As quoted by one of the clamorers, Media Matters, Buchanan describes the America of 2041 this way:
America’s gonna look very much like California right now. And what does that mean?
California is bankrupt. It’s bond rating is the lowest of any place. Los Angeles, half the people there don’t speak English as — in their own homes — 5 million people. And you’ve got all the problems of crimes. You’ve got a black-brown war among the underclass, as one sheriff described it, in the prisons and in the gangs. And people are leaving California. And it’s the old tax consumers are coming in.
Now, these are not bad or evil people. Even the ones who are illegal. They’re coming to work, many of them. They’re coming for a better life. But the truth is they are bankrupting the state of California because of that divide you mentioned between taxpayers and tax consumers. And what happens when all of America is like that, when every American city is like LA?
What’s so great about being on the left is that you don’t have to rebut your enemies’ ideas. Truth and the interests of Whites are irrelevant when up against the interests and s8moral claims of non-Whites. Here Buchanan is committing the cardinal sin of the new dispensation: Implying that there are real differences between peoples and that a very large percentage of the newcomers are not particularly talented and are prone to sucking up government services. And apart from the economic consequences of the Third World invasion, I think it’s going to be way worse for Whites when they become a minority because they will be increasingly victimized by the coalition of the left that hates them so much now. Not to mention the findings of all the research that multicultural societies are prone to conflict, political alienation, and lack of willingness to contribute to public goods like government-sponsored healthcare.
Oil prices are rocketing. Iranian warships are moving into the Mediterranean to shadow the US warships already there. Propaganda news is growing with rumors of Al Qaeda links with Iran, and, then, less speculative news about real links between the terror groups and the armed opposition in Syria.
As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi puts it, the smell of war is in the air and on the air, “You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.”
CLG adds: “Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its [alleged] nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.”
The timing now seems to be for war in October, just before the next Presidential election. Does that mean that the White House believes that war fever will generate more support for an embattled Commander in Chief. Orwell was right in his classic 1984: “the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact."
Here in the “homeland,” the FBI busts a “terrorist” on his way, we are told, to blow up the Congress. Turns out he was supplied with phony weapons by the FBI itself, a specialist in entrapment. The G-Men supposedly became suspicious when they heard that this young Moroccan, living illegally in Virginia, told someone who told someone that the war on terror was a war on Muslims. That’s probably a majority view in the Middle East, but to them it was menacing and proof of evil intent.
Let’s be honest, quite a few Americans love a good war, especially those Americans who have never had to bear witness to one first hand. War is the ultimate tribally vicarious experience. Anyone, even pudgy armchair generals with deep-seated feelings of personal inadequacy, can revel in the victories and actions of armies a half a world away as if they themselves stood on the front lines risking possible annihilation at the hands of dastardly cartoon-land “evil doers”. They may have never done a single worthwhile thing in their lives, but at least they can bask in the perceived glory of their country’s military might.
This attitude of swollen ego through proxy is not limited to the “Right” side of the political spectrum as some might expect. In fact, if the terrifyingly demented presidency of Barack Obama has proven anything so far, it is that elements of the “Left” are just as bloodthirsty as any NeoCon, and just as ready to blindly support the political supremacy of their “side” regardless of any broken promises, abandoned principles, or openly flaunted hypocrisies. No matter how reasonable or irrefutable the arguments against a particular conflict are, there will always be a certain percentage of the populace which ignores all logic and barrels forward to cheerlead violent actions which ultimately only benefit a select and elite few.
They do this, though they rarely openly admit it, because of unbalanced and irrational biases which drive their decision making processes. In the case of the wars in the Middle East, the common public argument boils down to one of “self defense”. “They are coming to get us!” At least, that is what we are constantly told. And I’m sure that some Americans out there truly believe this. However, in their heart of hearts, others instead relish the idea of imposing their world views and philosophical systems upon others, even if it means using cluster bombs and predator drones.
These men and women have invested their very identities into the mechanizations of collective war. They will not be swayed by evidence or honorable arguments. Any criticism of the actions of the collective will immediately be treated as a personal attack on their individual character, causing their minds to shut down completely
Keeping America safe from totalitarian ideologues is a big, big job, too big in fact for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the entire Department of Justice to handle on their own. The DOJ commands a $27.7 billion annual budget, and the FBI employs 35,629 full-time foes of evil. Their business is to protect the United States from bad people. Those bad people might be 15-year-old computer punks; they might be sophisticated zealots who hate America’s freedoms with such vehemence that they want to blow us all up. And the bad people just might win, according to our country’s law-enforcement elite, unless we, the American public, help.
The FBI and DOJ have launched the “Communities Against Terrorism” program. The campaign seeks assistance from workers in 25 industries to spy on their fellow citizens ferret out the terrorists among us. Citizen spies are being recruited from hotel and motel personnel, dive shop operators, car and property rental agents, the inky patriots who run tattoo parlors, gun dealers and baristas at Internet cafes.
Obviously, an invective-mumbling individual “refusing to complete appropriate paperwork” while paying cash to buy large quantities of explosives and asking for driving directions on a map that has skulls-and-crossbones marked across every Mall of the America emergency exit has raised a red flag. Report this person to the appropriate authorities.
If you visit an airport, stay in a hotel, drink coffee at an Internet café, or in some other way interact with one of the Halloween G-men in the American public, a full-fledged FBI investigation is only one phone call away.
The Communities Against Terrorism directives go further, warning some on the American labor force, such as Airport Service Providers, to monitor even their coworkers for suspicious behavior. But when the FBI’s “Suspicious Activity Reporting” forms are distributed to all potential spies on a given airport food court, any terrorist manning an espresso machine is given a heads-up.
In 2010 the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI--the lead orchestrator of fake “terrorist plots”--called an investigation of “activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”
Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington’s wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists. The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction.
Last week in one fell swoop the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano’s popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC. Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly.
Many suspect that the Israel Lobby used its clout with TV advertisers to silence critics of the Israeli government’s efforts to lead Washington to war with Iran. Regardless, the point before us is that the voice of the mainstream media is now uniform. Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda. Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.
The western media demonizes those at whom Washington points a finger. The lies pour forth to justify Washington’s naked aggression: the Taliban are conflated with al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is a terrorist and, even worse, fortified his troops with Viagra in order to commit mass rape against Libyan women.
In war, truth is proverbially the first casualty. The maxim also holds true for shadow wars, like the one currently being waged between Iran and its enemies.
Anyone trying to make sense of the escalating tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions is faced with a bewildering array of claims and counter-claims, none of which would it be wise to take at face value.
This week saw Iran and Israel accusing each other of mounting bomb attacks in three countries — India, Georgia and Thailand — that were aimed at Israeli targets.
The identity of the victims and intended victims establishes one element of a strong prima facie case against Iran: motive. It is logical to assume Iran was striking back for a series of assassinations of its nuclear scientists and unexplained explosions at military facilities, which Tehran has blamed on the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
The nub of Iranian allegations after this week’s attacks abroad is that Mossad was prepared to put its fellow citizens in harm’s way in order to damage Tehran’s relations with the friendly governments of the countries where the bombings took place.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran regards the Zionist regime’s agents as perpetrators of such terrorist actions with criminal and hidden purposes,” an indignant Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, told the press on Tuesday.
A leading critic of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is purveying smears of “anti-Semitism” against some influential liberal groups by unfavorably comparing their stance to the nationalist, America-first point of view expressed by The Spotlight, the predecessor of AMERICAN FREE PRESS.
The liberal groups—which are closely associated with the Obama administration—are perceived, like the president and Paul, to be insufficiently supportive of Israel. Washington insiders see this as the latest effort by the Israeli lobby to undermine Obama’s already shaky support among Jewish voters.
A key propagandist involved in the affair is James Kirchik who won widespread media favor for authoring a hit piece on Paul, accusing him of purveying racism and anti-Semitism in Paul’s privately published newsletter—and, yes, attempting to “link” Paul to The Spotlight, among other supposedly horrible things.
One of a select few in the media whose writings appear in both the “liberal” New Republic and the “conservative” Weekly Standard—which, despite differences on domestic issues are otherwise vigorous advocates for Israel (and both of which published Kirchick’s attacks on Paul)—Kirchick used the forum of Israel’s daily Ha’aretz to sling his latest mud.
Describing The Spotlight as “one of the most notorious newspapers ever published in America,” and “for many years the country’s premier hate rag,” Kirchick complained that The Spotlight charged there were high-ranking political figures who, in The Spotlight’s estimation, placed “Israel first.” Now, to Kirchick’s dismay, he claims such liberal groups as the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters for America (MMA) are echoing such terminology, which, he says, “is an indication of just how deep the rhetoric of the far right has seeped into the discourse of the mainstream left.”
Few spectacles have been more surreal than senior US officials – starting with the President, the Secretary of State and the US ambassador to the UN – solemnly lecturing Assad and his beleaguered Syrian government on the need to accommodate rebel forces whose GCC sponsors are intent on slaughtering the ruling Alawite minority or driving them into the sea.
At one grimly hilarious moment last Friday, these worthy sermons were buttressed by a message from Ayman al-Zwahiri, the head of al-Qaeda, therefore presumably the number one target on President Obama’s hit list, similarly praising the ‘Lions of Syria’ for rising up against the Assad regime. Al-Qaeda and the White House in sync!
The last time the United States faced serious internal dissent was in the 1960s and early 1970s, from war resisters and black and Native American movements. The government responded instantly with a methodical program of violent repression, including a well-documented agenda of assassination.
The performance of the western press has been almost uniformly disgraceful. In the wake of the Aleppo atrocities, network journalists blandly quoted spokesmen for the Syrian rebels that the Syrian security forces had blown themselves up to discredit the rebels.
Does Israel really crave Assad’s fall, a prolonged period of anarchy and the probable emergence of a Sunni regime eager to confront Israel? All in all, Syria under the Assad dynasty has been a relatively good neighbor. Turkey has its own Kurdish problems which Syria could exacerbate if it wanted to. The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia was careful to tell the New York Times that “international intervention had to be ruled out”.
In late December, the lot was just a big blank: a few burgundy metal shipping containers sitting in an expanse of crushed eggshell-colored gravel inside a razor-wire-topped fence. The American military in Afghanistan doesn’t want to talk about it, but one day soon, it will be a new hub for the American drone war in the Greater Middle East.
Next year, that empty lot will be a two-story concrete intelligence facility for America’s drone war, brightly lit and filled with powerful computers kept in climate-controlled comfort in a country where most of the population has no access to electricity. It will boast almost 7,000 square feet of offices, briefing and conference rooms, and a large “processing, exploitation, and dissemination” operations center — and, of course, it will be built with American tax dollars.
Nor is it an anomaly. Despite all the talk of drawdowns and withdrawals, there has been a years-long building boom in Afghanistan that shows little sign of abating. In early 2010, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had nearly 400 bases in Afghanistan. Today, Lieutenant Lauren Rago of ISAF public affairs tells TomDispatch, the number tops 450.
The hush-hush, high-tech, super-secure facility at the massive air base in Kandahar is just one of many building projects the U.S. military currently has planned or underway in Afghanistan. While some U.S. bases are indeed closing up shop or being transferred to the Afghan government, and there’s talk of combat operations slowing or ending next year, as well as a withdrawal of American combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S. military is still preparing for a much longer haul at mega-bases like Kandahar and Bagram airfields. The same is true even of some smaller camps, forward operating bases (FOBs), and combat outposts (COPs) scattered through the country’s backlands. “Bagram is going through a significant transition during the next year to two years,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gerdes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bagram Office recently told Freedom Builder, a Corps of Engineers publication. “We’re transitioning… into a long-term, five-year, 10-year vision for the base.”
Whether the U.S. military will still be in Afghanistan in five or 10 years remains to be seen, but steps are currently being taken to make that possible. U.S. military publications, plans and schematics, contracting documents, and other official data examined by TomDispatch catalog hundreds of construction projects worth billions of dollars slated to begin, continue, or conclude in 2012.
The U.S. Department of Justice has won the infamous Rosemary Award for worst open government performance over the past year, according to the citation posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org). The award is named after President Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who erased 18 1/2 minutes of a crucial Watergate tape.
The Rosemary Award citation includes a multi-count indictment of Justice's transparency performance in 2011, including:
selective and abusive prosecutions using espionage laws against whistleblowers as ostensible "leakers" of classified information, with more "leaks" prosecutions in the last three years than all previous years combined, at a time when expert estimates of over-classification range from 50 to 90%;
persisting recycled legal arguments for greater secrecy throughout Justice's litigation posture, including specious arguments before the Supreme Court in 2011 in direct contradiction to President Obama's "presumption of openness";
retrograde proposed regulations that would allow the government to lie in court about the existence of records sought by FOIA requesters, and also prevent elementary and secondary school students – as well as bloggers and new media – from getting fee waivers, while narrowing multiple other FOIA provisions;
a mixed overall record on freedom of information with some positive signs (overall releases slightly up, roundtable meetings with requesters, the website foia.gov collating government-wide statistics) outweighed by backsliding in the key indicator of the most discretionary FOIA exemption, (b)(5) for "deliberative process," cited by Justice to withhold information a whopping 1,500 times in 2011 (up from 1,231 in 2010).
“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is it's justice; that is it's morality.” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 19th century French philosopher
Imagine a robot hovering overhead as you go about your day, driving to and from work, heading to the grocery store, or stopping by a friend’s house. The robot records your every movement with a surveillance camera and streams the information to a government command center. If you make a wrong move, or even appear to be doing something suspicious, the police will respond quickly and you’ll soon be under arrest. Even if you don’t do anything suspicious, the information of your whereabouts, including what stores and offices you visit, what political rallies you attend, and what people you meet will be recorded, saved and easily accessed at a later date. It is a frightening thought, but you don’t have to imagine this scenario. We are only a few years away from the realization of this total surveillance society.
Congress has just passed a bill, the FAA Reauthorization Act, mandating that the Federal Aviation Administration create a comprehensive program for the integration of drone technology into the national air space by 2015. The FAA predicts that there will be 30,000 drones crisscrossing the skies of America by 2020, all part of an industry that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year. This mandate is yet another example of the political power of the military-industrial complex, Congress’ disdain for the privacy of American citizens, and the rampant growth of government. With this single piece of legislation, Congress is opening the floodgates to an entirely new era of surveillance, one in which no person is safe from the prying eyes of the government. This may prove to be the final nail in the Fourth Amendment’s coffin.
Attempts to integrate drone technology into the national air space were underway long before Congress put its stamp of approval on the FAA Reauthorization Act. In fact, the FAA authorized 313 certificates for drone operation in 2011, 295 of which were still active at the end of the year, although the agency refuses to say which organizations received the certificates and for what purposes they were used. However, we do know that the FAA had already approved drones for use by the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Patrol (which uses the drones to conduct surveillance and counternarcotics missions), and certain state and local law enforcement operations. For example, in June 2011, a family of cattle farmers accused of stealing some cows were spied on with a Predator drone before being apprehended by police.
The fact that drones—pilotless, remote controlled aircraft that have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to assassinate suspected terrorists, as well as innocent civilians—are coming home to roost (and fly) in domestic airspace should come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. The US government has a history of commandeering military technology for use against Americans. We saw this happen with tear gas, tasers, sound cannons and assault vehicles, all of which were first used on the battlefield before being deployed against civilians at home.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is surely one of the more bizarre pro-Israel think tanks doing business in Washington. Its sage advice pops up here and there, most recently in The Wall Street Journal, where it advocated giving Israel tanker aircraft so its warplanes can fly to Iran, bomb the hell out of that country’s nuclear facilities, and make it safely back. The BPC’s National Security Project is headed by Charles Robb, a former senator and governor from Virginia and living proof that you can fool most people more than once. Robb argues that enabling a devastating Israeli attack on Iran would create a credible deterrent to Tehran’s misbehavior and maintains that his judgment is derived from a “fact-driven consensus.”
But perhaps more interesting than the center itself is the reaction to the horse manure that it was trying to sell in the Journal. It is worth looking at the comments on the op-ed, which are generally hostile to the idea of a new war on behalf of Israel. It is refreshing to think that maybe Americans, even readers of The Wall Street Journal, are actually wising up to the con job they have been subjected to, even if it is a bit late to do anything about it.
The BPC claims to be bipartisan because it includes both Democrats and Republicans, but that does not mean that it is objective. More than three years ago it produced a “task force” report on the Iranian threat called “Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development.” It concluded that Iran has no right to enrich nuclear fuel for any purpose and predicted that Tehran would have sufficient highly enriched uranium in a year’s time to build a bomb. It advocated talking to Tehran to give it a chance to surrender on all key issues before attacking it, and it urged newly elected but not yet inaugurated President Barack Obama to build up forces for the assault. The task force recommended that the U.S. military should, after bombing Iran into submission, remain in the area, vigilant and ready to react to any attempt at retaliation by Tehran.
Now, long after the alarming report, Iran still has neither a nuclear device nor any weapons-grade fuel, and there is no actual evidence that it has a program to produce a bomb, meaning that a war would have been another case of “preemption” of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, reminiscent of the deceptions that led to the invasion of Iraq. And call for a U.S. attack could hardly have been otherwise based on the makeup of the Bipartisan Policy Center task force that produced it. It included Dennis Ross, who has been described as the State Department’s “lawyer for Israel”; Steve Rademaker, husband of Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI); Michael Rubin of AEI; Kenneth Weinstein of the Hudson Institute; and Kenneth Katzmann of the Congressional Research Service. Rubin drafted the report with project director Michael Makovsky, brother of David Makovsky, the senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank that was founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. No one on the task force was an independent expert on Iran who might have been willing or able to express Iran’s concerns or point of view. Indeed, apart from Rubin, no one on the task force knew anything about Iran at all, except possibly that it was supposed to be part of the axis of evil.
According to The Wall Street Journal, senior US and European officials hope that the measure will drastically cut Tehran's ability to conduct global financial transactions.
The US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors, respectively on December 31, 2011, and January 23, to ban other countries from doing transaction with Iranian banks, including the central bank, and importing its oil.
The clearing system, known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), oversees the network used by most of the world's largest banks to conduct financial wire transfers.
American lawmakers have charged in recent weeks that Iranian companies and banks blacklisted by the US and EU have been using SWIFT to evade international sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal added that both houses of the US Congress have also drafted a legislation threatening to penalize SWIFT's board of directors and owners if they didn't ban the suspect Iranian entities from using its network.
The paper also quoted unnamed European and US officials as saying that a formal ruling by EU financial regulators on SWIFT is expected by late February or early March, and the SWIFT's board is expected to comply.
The publication of Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis’s piece in the Armed Forces Journal, followed up by an interview in the New York Times and the posting of a longer piece [.pdf] by Rolling Stone, is a remarkable event in the sense that rarely has a more comprehensive debunking of official lies been written by an insider. Col. Davis has served in both the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, and recently was on a tour that took him to a number of Afghan outposts. His reports relate, in numbing detail, the complete disparity between the official pronouncements of our military spokespersons and the grim truth of what he saw on the ground in Afghanistan.
As our generals testify before Congress [.pdf] that our efforts in Afghanistan are bearing fruit, that the “surge” worked both in Iraq and Afghanistan, that our training the Afghan security forces is succeeding, and that we are on the road to “victory,” Col. Davis turns this Panglossian scenario on its head. The reality, he says, is that the “surge,” in both cases, failed – in Iraq, because the additional troops had nothing to do with the internal split in the insurgency that caused it to temporarily abate, and in Afghanistan because casualties went up in direct proportion to the increase in troops – without any corresponding gain on the battlefield. As for the vaunted Afghan security forces, which are being hailed as reliable guarantors and legatees of a hard-won US “victory,” Col. Davis draws a portrait of them as invariably having their backs to the enemy – that is, when they aren’t collaborating with them, calling “mini-truces” via radio while US soldiers take the brunt of the fighting.
Davis’s charge: that the military high command, in conjunction with our political leaders, engaged in a campaign of systematic deception designed to depict our failed attempts to conquer and colonize Iraq and Afghanistan as glorious victories, when, in reality, the exact opposite is the case. He gives a series of stunning examples, debunking lie after lie, finally asking:
“One of the key questions most readers must be asking about this point in the report, is how could such an extensive, pervasive, and long-running series of deceptive statements have gone unnoticed by virtually the entire country?”
Glad you asked. The reason is simple: the media has become an adjunct to the military’s “information operations,” i.e. psychological and propaganda operations, which are not just directed at the foreign “enemy,” but also at the enemy on the home front, i.e. the American people, who, if they knew the truth, would pull the plug on the whole operation. Col. Davis puts it more politely:
Is Obama a hypocrite or merely insouciant? Or is he an idiot?
According to news reports Obama’s White House meeting on Valentine’s day with China’s Vice President, Xi Jinping, provided an opportunity for Obama to raise “a sensitive human rights issue with the Chinese leader-in-waiting.” The brave and forthright Obama didn’t let etiquette or decorum get in his way. Afterwards, Obama declared that Washington would “continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of realizing the aspirations and rights of all people.”
Think about that for a minute. Washington is now in the second decade of murdering Muslim men, women, and children in six countries. Washington is so concerned with human rights that it drops bombs on schools, hospitals, weddings and funerals, all in order to uphold the human rights of Muslim people. You see, bombing liberates Muslim women from having to wear the burka and from male domination.
One hundred thousand, or one million, dead Iraqis, four million displaced Iraqis, a country with destroyed infrastructure, and entire cities, such as Fallujah, bombed and burnt with white phosphorus into cinders is the proper way to show concern for human rights.
Ditto for Afghanistan. And Libya.
In Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia Washington’s drones bring human rights to the people.
In the Russia Today's recent Crosstalk program on Syria, guest James Morris was brave enough to incisively point out the taboo fact that the Israel lobby has been in the forefront in pushing a hardline interventionist approach for the US toward that divided country. The host and the two other guests on the show pooh-poohed the idea on the grounds that (in their minds) it would not be in Israel's national interest to topple the secular Assad regime and possibly bring about an Islamist state that could be even more hostile to Israel. But when one moves from speculation to an analysis of the actual position of members of the Israel lobby, one can see that Morris was completely correct. Moreover, Morris was completely correct in pointing out that the Israel lobby's position has nothing to do with ending oppression, and everything to do with Israeli security, as members of the Israel lobby have perceived Israel's interest (which might not be the same as the Crosstalk threesome.) http://rt.com/programs/crosstalk/syrian-series-arab-league/
The neoconservatives, the vanguard of the Israel lobby, have especially been ardent in their advocacy of a hardline, interventionist position towardSyria. Evidence abounds for this finding, but it is best encapsulated by an August 2011 open letter from the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (an organization which claims to address any "threat facing America, Israel and the West") to President Obama, urging him to take stronger measures against Syria. Among the signatories of the letter are such neocon luminaries as: Elliott Abrams (son-in-law of neocon "godfather" Norman Podhoretz and a former National Security adviser to President George W. Bush); the Council on Foreign Relations' Max Boot; "Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol; Douglas Feith (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under George W. Bush and an author of the "Clean Break" policy paper); Joshua Muravchik (affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute [AEI], the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and "Commentary"); Frederick W. Kagan (AEI, co-author of the "surge" in Iraq); Robert Kagan (co-founder of the Project for the New American Century PNAC); James Woolsey (head of the CIA under Clinton and chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies); Randy Scheunemann (former President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and foreign affairs adviser to John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign); Reuel Marc Gerecht (former Director of the Project for the New American Century's Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at AEI); Michael Makovsky (advisor to the propagandistic Office of Special Plans, which was under Douglas Feith); John Hannah ( senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [WINEP] and a former national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney); and Gary Schmitt (AEI and former President for the Project for a New American Century). http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/08/19/conservatives_suggest_syr ia_next_steps_0
As Morris notes in his presentation, elimination of the Assad regime in Syria was not an idea conceived by either the neocons or the broader Israel lobby; rather it can be traced back to the Israeli Likudniks, being articulated by Oded Yinon in his 1982 piece, "A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties." In this article, Yinon called for Israel to use military means to bring about the dissolution of Israel's neighboring states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-statelets that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon's model for the entire Middle East. Yinon wrote: "Lebanon's total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target." (Quoted in "The Transparent Cabal," p. 51)
On Sunday, the Greek parliament approved a new round of austerity measures that will further deepen the 5-year depression and sever the last fraying threads of social cohesion. In order to secure a 130 billion euro loan, Greek political leaders agreed to comply with a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) that will not only intensify the sacrifices of ordinary working people, but also effectively hand the control of the nation’s economy over to foreign banks and corporations.
The Memorandum is as calculating and mercenary as anything ever written. And while most of the attention has been focused on the deep cuts to supplementary pensions, the minimum wage, and private sector wages; there’s much more to this onerous warrant than meets the eye. The 43 page paper should be read in its entirety to fully appreciate the moral vacuity of the people who dictate policy in the EZ.
Greece will have to prove that it’s reached various benchmarks before it receives any of the money allotted in the bailout. The Memorandum outlines, in great detail, what those benchmarks are— everything from reduced spending on life-saving drugs to “lift(ing) constraints for retailers to sell restricted product categories such as baby food.”
That’s right; according to the author’s of this fuliginous memo, the only way Greece is going to be able to lift itself out of the doldrums is by poisoning its kids with banned baby food.
The MOU also calls for a 10 percent cut to government workers wages, cuts to “social security funds and hospitals”, and more privatizing of publicly-owned assets, all of which will only further shrink GDP.
Our War Party has been temporarily diverted from its clamor for war on Iran by the insurrection against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Estimates of the dead since the Syrian uprising began a year ago approach 6,000. And responsibility for the carnage is being laid at the feet of the president who succeeded his dictator-father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled from 1971 until his death in 2000.
Unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, who buckled, broke, and departed after three weeks of protests, Bashar is not going quietly.
And, predictably, with the death toll rising, those champions of world democratic revolution — John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham — have begun beating the drums for U.S. aid to a “Free Syrian Army.”
Last week, the three senators jointly declared: “In Libya, the threat of imminent atrocities in Benghazi mobilized the world to act. Such atrocities are now a reality in Homs and other cities all across Syria. … We must consider … providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to … defend themselves, and to fight back against Assad’s forces.”
“The end of Assad’s rule would … be a moral and humanitarian victory for the Syrian people” and “a strategic defeat for the Iranian regime.”
That our elites might turn racist does indeed sound outlandish. The reigning doctrine on race throughout the Western world today is the Standard Social Science Model, which I'll just trim down to "Standard Model" in what follows. According to this doctrine, all observed group differences are the result of social forces. The Standard Model says that there is a conceivable, discoverable, attainable configuration of social forces in which all group differences would vanish; and that we ought to strive to shift our own society towards that configuration. Among our political and cultural elites, the Standard Model is universally accepted.
Looking to the future, there are three possibilities. One of them, Possibility One, is that our elites will continue to adhere to the Standard Model. The other two are implied in the extract I just quoted from Herrnstein and Murray: Possibility Two: We may attain "the candor and realism about race that is so urgently needed." Possibility Three: Our elites will revert to "open racism."
Let's take the three possibilities in turn. First, continued adherence to the Standard Model. Note that, taking group differences in all generality, the Standard Model is not preposterous. The social and economic underachievement of women in Moslem countries, for example, or for that matter in our own countries in times past, easily yields to a Standard Model analysis. Make some key changes in your laws and customs, and the men-women gap disappears. In some social areas it more than disappears: 57 percent of U.S. college students are female today.
In group difference of outcome between races, the Standard Model was likewise not preposterous fifty years ago. Here in the U.S.A., nonwhite citizens labored under well-known legal and social disabilities. In what we were just beginning to call the Third World, nonwhite populations had been humiliated and subordinated by decades of colonialism. Remove the disabilities, dismantle colonialism, and socio-economic group differences would surely melt away. The Standard Model as applied to race was not preposterous fifty years ago.
The war of words between the US, Israel, and Iran intensifies by the day.
All the parties involved are shamelessly playing to domestic audiences in this election year. Israel keeps issuing threats it will attack Iran’s nuclear power installations, though some of its senior security officials downplay an alleged threat from Iran. US intelligence still maintains Iran is not working on nuclear weapons. UN nuclear inspectors confirm this view, though they have been pressured by the US, which pays a quarter of UN salaries, to suggest Iran might be working on something nefarious – though all Iran’s nuclear sites are under strict UN inspection and satellite surveillance.
Not a peep from the UN about what global damage would be caused by an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. Radioactive dust storms, to say the least.
The US Congress pulsates with war fever, fuelled by oncoming elections and huge cash donations. North America’s media pounds the war drums.
Iran shows spectacular public relations ineptitude by fulminating against Israel, calling it a “tumor” that must be removed, and firing obsolete tactical missiles and staging flamboyant military exercises by its feeble armed forces.
The LATimes, always quick to pick up on new trends, published a propaganda piece by Kim Murphy which does its level best to pathologize Whites who want to live with other Whites (“White supremacists revive dream of a homeland in Northwest.”) (Actually, the trend has also been noticed by the SPLC and vy George Soros’ Media Matters.) The LATimes article is centered around the sentencing of Kevin Harpham to a 32-year prison term for leaving a backpack containing explosives along the route for a MLK-Day parade in January, 2011. What Harpham has to do with setting up a White homeland in the Northwest is left up to the reader’s conjecture, but I guess we are supposed to think that Whites who are motivated to have a place to call their own are basically bomb throwers at heart.
But wait. It gets worse–much worse:
In 2010, residents in several parts of Idaho woke to find Easter eggs tossed on their lawns — courtesy of the not-dead-yet Aryan Nations. The eggs contained jelly beans and solicitations to “take back our country and make it great, clean, decent and beautiful once again.”
Do these people have no shame?? Easter eggs and jelly beans. The horror!
Murphy uses the Harpham case and a firearms violation case, also from Spokane, to lead into a description of the nascent White homeland movement in Montana and Idaho. April Gaede is mentioned because of her work “appealing to white ‘refugees’ to establish a Pioneer Little Europe” in Kalispell, MT. Also mentioned is stalwart Canadian pro-White activist Paul Fromm (who has been invited to speak in the area) and conservative activist Chuck Baldwin, who has actually moved there.
The Pentagon has drawn up plans for military intervention in Syria.
A military strike would be coordinated with Turkey, the Gulf States and the NATO powers, according to reports that acknowledge such plans officially for the first time. The plan is described as an “internal review” by Pentagon Central Command, to allow President Barack Obama to maintain the pretense that the White House is still seeking a diplomatic solution.
This is considered vital, as military intervention would most likely be conducted through various Middle East proxies, which the US and NATO could then back with airpower. Turkey and the Arab League states, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, do not want to be seen for what they are: stooges of the US. Deniability for them therefore requires the US to conceal the full extent of its involvement.
In the February 6 Financial Times, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning for the US State Department, argued for “A little time… for continued diplomatic efforts aimed at shifting the allegiances of the Sunni merchant class in Damascus and Aleppo.”
As with the war against Libya last year, military intervention would again be justified citing the “responsibility to protect” civilians. But its real aim is regime change to install a Sunni government beholden to Washington, allied with the Gulf States, and hostile to Iran.
A State Department official told the UK’s Daily Telegraph that “the international community may be forced to ‘militarise’ the crisis in Syria” and that “the debate in Washington has shifted away from diplomacy.”
The British Daily Mail published a stunning admission by "US officials" that Israel is indeed funding, training, arming, and working directly with US State Department listed terrorist organization, the People's Mujahedin of Iran, also known as Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK).
The Daily Mail article states, "U.S. officials confirmed today that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program." The article continues by claiming, "Washington insiders confirmed there is a close relationship between Mossad and MEK, according to NBC, but said the U.S. was not involved."
Of course, this is an overt lie, exposed by 3-4 years of documented collaboration between the United States and MEK, including an extensive conspiracy formulated within US policy think-tank Brookings Institution's 2009 "Which Path to Persia?" report, proposing to fully arm, train, and back MEK as it waged a campaign of armed terror against the Iranian people.
In their report, they openly conspire to use what is an admitted terrorist organization as a "US proxy" (emphasis added):
"Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran's nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile's military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.
The three International Atomic Energy inspectors who spent the last three days of January in Tehran had asked to meet the hitherto invisible head of Iran's nuclear bomb program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, 50, a general of the Revolutionary Guards. The Iranians pretended to be deaf. They also kept the inspectors away from any nuclear installations. A senior Obama administration official termed the visit "foot-dragging at best and a disaster at worst."
debkafile's intelligence and military sources note that without talking to Fakhrizadeh or any of the 600 nuclear engineers and scientists working under him, unless one of them defects, there is no way the West can determine what exactly is going on in Iran's nuclear program stands and which installations have been moved to underground facilities.
No one doubts now that advanced centrifuges and stocks of enriched uranium – 3.5 percent and 20 percent grades alike - have been moved to Iran's underground bunker site at Fordo near Qom, which the US administration has claimed its bunker buster bombs cannot reach and which Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak has defined as "a zone of immunity."
In their ongoing argument with Jerusalem, American officials commented crossly this week that "Israelis are looking at the problem too narrowly."
Clearly Israel, unlike America, envisions the Iranian "problem" from the narrow viewpoint of potential victim of an Iranian attack. Sunday, Feb. 5, Alireza Forghani, head of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's strategic team, was quoted as remarking, "It would only take nine minutes to wipe out Israel."
Republican lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign even as the country’s top lawyer dodged questions about his involvement in what many are calling a criminal scheme by the U.S. government to traffic weapons to Mexican drug gangs.
During his testimony, Holder ranted angrily about the alleged “unfairness” of him having to answer questions about why he used bogus documents to conceal the fact that weapons sold in the government gunrunning operation were used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
“Nobody’s been disciplined. Nobody’s been fired,” Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) told the embattled Holder. “It might be time for you to resign.”
Holder opened his remarks by acknowledging that “Fast and Furious”—the U.S. governmental operation to supply arms to Mexican narco- guerrillas, who are waging veritable war against the governments of Mexico and the United States—was a mistake. However, he claimed it was cooked up by people in his employ and was something he could not personally be held accountable for.
Evidence presented to the committee during five previous hearings shows that Holder lied to Congress about Fast and Furious, claiming it did not exist. Since then, he has changed his tune and also admitted that the Justice Department laundered money for Mexican drug gangs as well.
In the House of Commons he pronounced Bashar al-Assad’s regime to be “doomed” because there is “no way it can recover its credibility.” That may very well be the case in the long term, but in my view that Hague statement was somewhat naive at the time he made it. For its short to mid-term survival at the time of writing, and unless visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is seeking to engineer Bashar al-Assad’s departure from office in a face-saving way that will protect Russia’s interests, the Syrian regime doesn’t need credibility in the outside world. It needs only enough weapons and the will to go on killing its own people. (That said there can be no doubt that Bashar al-Assad and/or his Alawite generals took the Russian and Chinese vetoes as a green light to escalate the killing. Also to be noted is that Bashar al-Assad was not the only Arab leader to draw a particular conclusion from Mubarak’s downfall. “If our people take to the streets demanding regime change, shoot them!”)
But the particular Hague statement that prompts my suggestion that he be nominated for a Lebon Prize for hypocrisy was this one. By exercising their veto “Russia and China have placed themselves on the wrong side of Arab and international opinion.”
The obvious implication is that it’s not good politics and policy to be on the wrong side of that opinion. Really? Then how do we explain the fact that all the governments of the Western world, led by America, are on the wrong side of it because of their support for the Zionist state of Israel right or wrong – unending occupation, on-going ethnic cleansing and all? There is a one-word answer. Hypocrisy.
The second most obvious nominee for a Lebon Prize for hypocrisy is Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. In condemning the Russian and Chinese vetoes, she said, “For months this Council has been held hostage by a couple of members.”
Given that for the Security Council has been held hostage for decades by American vetoes to protect Israel from being called to account for its crimes, that Rice statement is – what I can say without resorting to use of the “F” word? – hypocrisy most naked and taken to its highest level
Eisenhower’s farewell speech, familiar to many, echoes no more than the contemporary understanding of the embedded industrial, military and political networks of his own era. Those networks have grown, intertwined, and subsumed the policies and actions of the two major political parties in the subsequent decades. Today, as for several past decades, the warfare state benefits whether the elected President of the United States is a Democrat or a Republican.
I think this connectedness of the state, state corporations and appointed and elected warmakers is the only way we can define the term "war." Who can deny that bailed out banks and carmakers, subsidized, taxpayer-nurtured defense, technology, energy, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries are not state corporations? Who would claim today that the incursions of the state into space, into the Internet, and into our backyards, front yards, kitchens, bedrooms, gun cabinets, bank accounts and safe deposit boxes is not a war conducted by the state?
War – its funding, its design, its conduct and pursuit, as Randolph Bourne observed, is always the health of the state. We who resist, rebel, and seek renewal, whether by Jefferson’s blood of patriots or though a new and peaceful understanding of the Constitution, of God, of duty or of humanity – what we do, what we fund, what we design, conduct and pursue is not war.
Because it isn’t war, we may not have a single leader, or any leader at all. We may not raise a large army, nor will we need to field massive and complex weapon systems. The bulk of rebellion and resistance, and even renewal in a community, a state, a country, and even a nation, is silent and hidden. Like a massive iceberg, the resistance, the rebellion and political and social renewal occurs hidden from the state’s view, underneath the substrate, a powerful and indestructible keel.
We use the word "war" too much today, and we fear its "power" perhaps more than we should. Wars are just the wasteful, deadly and destructive spasms of fearful kings and dictators, created largely by the laziness and greed of those who control and drive the overweening state. Conservative and Progressive alike, the so-called left and the presumed right, those who love the Constitution as God’s inspired guidance and those who believe as Lysander Spooner did, that it is no law at all – all of these believers should boldly hold state war in profound contempt.