Friday, August 31, 2007

Behind Bush's Latest Anti-Iranian Threats

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

President Bush's most recent ranting, in which he accused Iran of threatening to unleash a "nuclear holocaust," must be seen, for sure, in the context of the drumbeat for military aggression against the Islamic Republic.

Within the space of a few days, several articles appeared in the mainstream press, indicating that the Cheney project for launching a new war is on the front burner. Most explicit was the report of two British think tankers, Daniel Pletsch and Martin Butcher, issued on August 27 and leaked by Raw Story the following day. Their study, entitled, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East," claimed that the US could destroy Iran's nuclear program, industrial base and government infrastructure within days.

But Bush's specific reference to Iran's alleged ambitions to develop a nuclear bomb, should be placed in the category of one who "doth protest too much." What Bush did NOT mention is a development of major significance, which may well have been the trigger for his wild assertions. This was the agreement reached by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, which proved that the persistent, rigorous approach pursued by the IAEA, to solve the conflict over Iran's nuclear energy program through diplomatic means, has yielded results which the Agency itself has dubbed a breakthrough. The contention of the Bush-Cheney administration, which is bent on war at all costs, has been that the efforts of the European Union group of three (Great Britain, Germany and France) as well as those of the IAEA, have been destined to failure, since Tehran was only interested in gaining time to build its bomb.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking to journalists in Tehran on August 28, announced unequivocably that he believed, on the basis of the agreement with the IAEA, that the entire matter should be considered "closed." This was not empty rhetoric of the sort often attributed to Ahmadinejad, but a statement of fact, as documented in the "Understandings of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA on the modalities of resolution of the outstanding issues," published on August 29, by the new Iranian all news station News TV, among others. The text makes clear that the discussion process involving Iranian chief negotiator Ali Larijani and his IAEA interlocutors, including Director General Mohammad ElBaradei, has borne its desired fruits: to wit, that through the question-and-answer process, whereby the IAEA has raised its queries regarding specific aspects of Iran's program and Iran has given its clarifications, has satisfied the agency's demands. In sum, the document states that certain specific issues have been fully resolved, and that those yet to be resolved, will be dealt with in the same manner, such that specific timeframes can be defined for "closing the dossier," as Ahmadinejad put it.

The text of the agreement was published on request of Iran, "as an INFCIRC document and to be made available to the public through the IAEA website." It states: "Pursuant to the negotiations between H.E. Dr. Larijani, I. R. of Iran's Secretary of Supreme National Security Council and H.E. Dr. ElBaradei, Director General of the IAEA, in Vienna; following the initiative and good will of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the agreement made, a high ranking delegation consisting of the directors of technical, legal and political departments of the IAEA, paid a visit to Tehran from 11 to 12 July 2007 during which 'Understandings of The Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA on the Modalities of Resolution of the Outstanding Issues, Tehran 12 July 2007' were prepared."

The text reports on the following meetings that took place in Vienna and Tehran on July 24, and August 20-21, following which "both Parties reached the following understandings...." First, regarding the enirchment program, which has been targetted by the Bush-Cheney cabal as "proof" that Tehran wants the bomb. "The Agency and Iran agreed to cooperate in preparing the safeguards approach for the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant in accordance with Iran's Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. The draft text of the safeguards approach paper, and the facility attachment of IRN- were provided to Iran on 23 July 2007. The safeguards approach and the facility attachment were discussed during technical meetings in Iran between the Agency and the AEOI from 6 to 8 August 2007. Further discussions will be held with the aim of finalizing the facility attachment by the end of September 2007."

As for the heavy water reactor in Arak, "Iran agreed with the Agency's request to visit the heavy water research reactor (IR40) site in Arak. A successful visit took place on 30 July 2007." Furthermore, it is reported that "On 12 July 2007, Iran accepted the designation of five additional inspectors" and "On 12 July 2007, Iran agreed to issue one year multiple entry visas for 14 inspectors and staff of the Agency."

Under the rubric of "Past Outstanding Issues," the question of plutonium experiments was dealt with. Here, the joint text reports that in the course of July and August, the IAEA presented questions, and Iran, answers, to various issues. Then, in a sentence which might have caused heart tremors for Dick Cheney, the text states: "On 20 August 2007 the Agency stated that earlier statements made by Iran , and (emphasis added). This will be communicated officially by the Agency to Iran through a letter."

Regarding other vital issues, a clear timeline is set for the question-and-answer process to yield its results. regarding the issue of P1-P2, the IAEA says the Pu experiments should close by August 31, and that it will therefore provide all its remaining questions to Iran by that date. Discussions are scheduled then for September 24-25 in Tehran, followed by a mid-October meeting, both to clarify the questions. "The Agency's target date for the closure of this issue is November 2007," says the text.

And, for remaining issues, the same sensible approach is adopted: "once all the above mentioned issues are concluded and their files are closed," further questions can be submitted by the IAEA, again with specific dates, and Iran will respond, within deadlines.

In a final paragraph entitled "General Understandings," the document asserts five points which must have sent Bush ballistic. Since it is absurd to imagine that the establishment press will give the public any insight into what is going on here between the IAEA and Iran, it is worth quoting the points in full:

"1. These modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran's past nuclear program and activities.

2. The Agency agreed to provide Iran with all remaining questions according to the above work plan. This means that after receiving the questions, no other questions are left. Iran will provide the Agency with the required clarifications and information.

3. The Agency's delegation is of the view that the agreement on the above issues shall further promote the efficiency of the implementation of safeguards in Iran and its ability to conclude the exclusive peaceful nature of the Iran's nuclear activities.

4. The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.

5. The Agency and Iran agreed that after the implementation of the above work plan and the agreed modalities for resolving the outstanding issues, the implementation of safeguards in Iran will be conducted in a routine manner."

The gist of this document is that, contrary to the hysterical ravings from the White House, diplomacy does work, and that if Iran were treated as a normal country, with due respect, as Tehran has always insisted, then progress could be made on any front. The implications of the IAEA-Iran "understandings" are profound: we are not dealing here with a "rogue state" or a member of the "axis of evil," but with a sovereign nation which correctly asserts its right to nuclear energy technology, in the framework of the IAEA and NPT.

The fact that the IAEA reached this groundbreaking agreement has thrown a major monkey-wrench into the Bush-Cheney cabal's plans for war, based on their claims that Iran is building the bomb. But then, Washington will quickly retort, aren't the Iranian Revolutionary Guards killing our troops in Iraq?

Subverting Iran: Washington's covert war inside Iran

Gregory Elich for Global Research

Much attention has been given to the Bush Administration’s preparations for possible war against Iran as well as its drive to impose sanctions. Meanwhile, a less noticed policy has been unfolding, one that may in time prove to have grave consequences for the region. There is a covert war underway in Iran, still in its infancy, but with disturbing signs of impending escalation. In the shadowy world of guerrilla operations, the full extent of involvement by the Bush Administration has yet to be revealed, but enough is known to paint a disturbing picture.

The provision of aid to anti-government forces offers certain advantages to the Bush Administration. No effort needs to be expended in winning support for the policy. Operations can be conducted away from the public eye during a time of growing domestic opposition to the war in Iraq, and international opinion is simply irrelevant where the facts are not well known. In terms of expenditures, covert operations are a cost-effective means for destabilizing a nation, relative to waging war.

There is nothing new in the technique, and it has proven an effective means for toppling foreign governments in the past, as was the case with socialist Afghanistan and Nicaragua. In Yugoslavia, U.S. and British military training and arms shipments helped to build up the secessionist Kosovo Liberation Army from a small force of 300 soldiers into a sizable guerrilla army that made the province of Kosovo ungovernable. The very chaos that the West did so much to create was then used as the pretext for bombing Yugoslavia.

According to a former CIA official, funding for armed separatist groups operating in Iran is paid from the CIA’s classified budget. The aim, claims Fred Burton, an ex-State Department counter-terrorism agent, is “to supply and train” these groups “to destabilize the Iranian regime.” (1)

The largest and most well known of the anti-government organizations is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), operating out of Iraq. For years MEQ had launched cross-border attacks and terrorist acts against Iran with the support of Saddam Hussein. Officially designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997, and disarmed of heavy weaponry by the U.S. military six years later, Washington has since come to view MEK in a different light. Three years ago, U.S. intelligence officials suggested looking the other way as the MEK rearmed and to use the organization to destabilize Iran, a recommendation that clearly has been accepted. (2)

Accusing MEK of past involvement in repressive measures by former president Saddam Hussein, the current Iraqi government wants to close down Camp Ashraf, located well outside of Baghdad, where many of the MEK fighters are stationed. But the camp operates under the protection of the U.S. military, and American soldiers chauffeur MEK leaders. The Iraqi government is unlikely to get its way, as the MEK claims to be the primary U.S. source for intelligence on Iran. (3)

U.S. officials “made MEK members swear an oath to democracy and resign from the MEK,” reveals an intelligence source, “and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them.” Reliance on the MEK began under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney, and soon MEK soldiers were being used in special operations missions in Iran. “They are doing whatever they want, no oversight at all,” said one intelligence official of the MEK’s American handlers. (4)

The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), is another organization that conducts cross-border raids into Iran. Israel provides the group with “equipment and training,” claims a consultant to the U.S. Defense Department, while the U.S. gave it “a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.” Aid to guerrilla groups, the consultant reports, is “part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.” (5) It has been noted that PJAK has recently shown an impressive gain in capability during its operations, both in terms of size and armament, a fact that can surely be attributed to Western support. (6)

Jundallah (God’s Brigade) is an extremist Sunni organization operating in Sistan-Balochistan province that has been launching armed attacks, planting explosives, setting off car bombs, and kidnapping. Based in Pakistan, it is unclear if this group is connected with the Pakistani organization of the same name, which has ties with Al-Qaeda. (7) Jundallah denies that it has any links to either Al-Qaeda or to the U.S. But Iranian officials claim that a recently arrested Jundallah guerrilla has confessed that he was trained by U.S. and British intelligence officers. There is no way to verify that such a confession has actually taken place, nor its reliability as it may have come as a result of coercion, but the claim would not be inconsistent with U.S. policy elsewhere in Iran. (8)

It is probable that in the coming months the Bush Administration will expand support for anti-government forces in order to more effectively destabilize Iran and gather intelligence. Already U.S. Special Forces are operating in Iran collecting data, planting nuclear sensors, and electronically marking targets. Separatist forces have cooperated in those efforts. “This looks to be turning into a pretty large-scale covert operation,” comments a former CIA official. U.S. and Israeli officials are establishing front companies to help finance that covert war. (9) To fully capitalize on ethnic discontent along Iran’s periphery, the U.S. Marine Corps has commissioned a study from defense contractor Hicks and Associates on Iran and Iraq’s ethnic groups and their grievances. (10)

That these separatist organizations clearly engage in terrorism hasn’t deterred the Bush Administration from backing them. The potential for baneful consequences is considerable. CIA support for the anti-Soviet and anti-socialist Mujahedin in Afghanistan spawned a worldwide movement of Islamic extremism. Western support for ethnic secessionists shattered Yugoslavia and the invasion of Iraq fired the flames of ethnic discord and made a shared life impossible. It remains to be seen if the Bush Administration can succeed in achieving its goal of effecting regime change in Iran. That process could have devastating consequences for the people of Iran. Those officials in the Bush Administration who advocated and implemented covert operations “think in Iran you can just go in and hit the facilities and destabilize the government,” explains a former CIA official. “They believe they can get rid of a few crazy mullahs and bring in the young guys who like Gap jeans, [and] all the world’s problems are solved. I think it’s delusional.” (11)

Gregory Elich is the author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit. Gregory Elich is a frequent Global Research contributor.


1. William Lowther and Colin Freeman, “US Funds Terror Groups to Sow Chaos in Iran,” Sunday Telegraph (London), February 25, 2007.
2. “Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), Global Syed Saleem Shahzad, “Sleeping Forces Stir in Iran,” Asia Times, June 26, 2003.Gian Marco Chiocci and Alessia Marani, “Iranian Mujaheddin Gather Funds in Italy,” Il Giornale (Milan), October 2, 2006.
3. Ernesto Londono and Saad al-Izzi, “Iraq Intensifies Efforts to Expel Iranian Group,” Washington Post, March 14, 2007.
4. Larisa Alexandrovna, “On Cheney, Rumsfeld Order, US Outsourcing Special Ops, Intelligence to Iraq Terror Group, Intelligence Officials Say,” The Raw Story, April 13, 2006.
5. Seymour Hersh, “The Next Act,” New Yorker, November 27, 2006.
6. James Brandon, “PJAK Claims Fresh Attacks in Iran,” Global Terrorism Analysis, March 6, 2007.
7. Ali Akbar Dareini, “Explosion Kills 11 Members of Iran’s Elite Revolutionary Guards,” Associated Press, February 14, 2007.
8. Broadcast, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (Teheran), February 17, 2007.
9. Richard Sale, “Cat and Mouse Game Over Iran,” UPI, January 26, 2005.
10. Guy Dinmore, “US Marines Probe Tensions Among Iran’s Minorities,” Financial Times (London), February 23, 2006.
11. Julian Borger and Ian Traynor, “Now US Ponders Attack on Iran,” The Guardian (London), January 18, 2005.

US-Allawi Coup May Be On Its Way

By Arianna Huffington

As we all await the Petraeus Report on the state of the surge, we may also need to be anticipating the Allawi Coup. I'm talking, of course about Ayad Allawi, longtime C.I.A. asset and former interim prime minister of Iraq. He's making quite the PR push to get his old job back, penning an op-ed for the Washington Post, hooking up with Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition on Sunday, and even putting the high-powered GOP lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers on a $300,000 retainer.

It says everything you need to know about who the true power holders in Iraq are that Allawi, who has a "six-point plan" for Iraq that involves replacing the current Prime Minister, is campaigning in Washington -- not Baghdad. He clearly knows that despite Bush's bathetic paeans to Iraqi sovereignty, the real deciders in Iraq are not the Iraqi people, but a few dozen folks in the White House and the Pentagon. They are Allawi's true constituency.

So where does the White House stand on the idea of Allawi replacing current embattled prime minister Nouri al-Maliki? Well, it depends on whether you think Mitch McConnell was freelancing on Fox News Sunday when he jumped on the bash-Maliki bandwagon, calling the Maliki-led Iraqi government "pretty much a disaster" -- or whether you think he was performing his familiar function as White House water carrier.

Could the White House be seeing in the blame-Maliki-for-the-disaster-in-Iraq meme an opportunity replace the sputtering "give the surge a chance" plan with a "give Allawi a chance" plan?

Let's go to the Blitzer-Allawi interview to see what such a move would mean for the White House.

For starters, Allawi told Blitzer that his "six points call for a full partnership with the United States" and that his "objective is to develop a plan to save Iraq and to save American lives, as well as, of course, Iraqi lives, and to save the American mission in Iraq." Full Partnership? Save the American mission? Surely, music to the White House's ears. And it was good of him to toss in those Iraqi lives -- of course.

So what would an Allawi takeover mean in terms of U.S. troops remaining in Iraq? "If we talk around the region of two to two-and-a-half years," Allawi told Blitzer, "I think we are in the right direction." Who needs Petraeus buying the administration another few months with his report when the Allawi coup can buy them another two-and-a-half years?

And the White House doesn't have to worry about Allawi knowing his lines -- he's already memorized the playbook. When Blitzer asked him when the United States might be able to start reducing our presence in Iraq, Allawi responded with a Bush classic: "As soon as the Iraqi forces are able to stand on their feet and provide security for the Iraqis I think the draw-down should start." Ah: When they stand up, we can stand down! Misty water-colored memories. Being away from Iraq so much, I guess Allawi missed all those reports about the repeated failure of Iraqi forces to "stand on their feet."

So exactly how would an Allawi-for-Maliki switch occur? Allawi says he wants to proceed by "democratic means." But after being appointed interim prime minister by the U.S.-led coalition in June of 2004, Allawi had six months to campaign before the January 2005 legislative elections. He came in third with 14% of the vote.

When Blitzer asked Allawi who is paying for the $300,000 Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbying contract, Allawi wouldn't say. He was only willing to disclose that the "payment is made by an Iraqi person who was a supporter of us, of the INA, of myself, of our program, and he has supported this wholeheartedly, without any strings attached."

As Spencer Ackerman of TPMmuckracker wrote, perhaps it's being financed by Allawi's old buddy Hazem Shaalan, who Allawi appointed as his defense minister. Shaalan is currently fighting charges that he stole $1 billion from the Iraqi defense budget (out of a total of $1.3 billion). That's some way to endear yourself to the Iraqi people.

Allawi and Shaalan are also closely tied to the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which is funded and controlled by the C.I.A. and which has been a persistent thorn in relations between the U.S. and Maliki.

Meanwhile, we'll have to see whether Barbour Griffith & Rogers' lobbying will be as effective with administration officials as it has been with Washington's media gatekeepers. Last week, Bush issued a tepid defense of Maliki, saying he is "a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him." Hmm, didn't he say the same thing about Alberto Gonzales? And Don Rumsfeld?

While I was working on this post, I got a call from John Cusack, who had watched Blitzer's interview with Allawi from Berlin, where he is making a movie. He was stunned by Blitzer's remark to Allawi, after he had read him Maliki's quote about Iraq being able to "find friends elsewhere": "Those words," Blitzer said, "were seen here in Washington as pretty biting, given the enormous amount of support the United States has provided Iraq over these years."

"Can you imagine?" Cusack told me. "We invade their country, an invasion that has resulted in over 100,000 -- and maybe as many as 650,000 -- Iraqi civilians dead; 2 million Iraqis having fled the country, with 1.14 million displaced from their homes within Iraq; and tens of thousands of Iraqis detained -- with many of them tortured. After that 'enormous amount of support,' Iraqis have the temerity to complain?"

Talk about ingratitude. I bet Allawi would never bite the hand that feeds -- and bombs -- him.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The president's escalating war rhetoric on Iran

by Glenn Greenwald

George Bush, speaking before yet another military audience, yesterday delivered what might actually be the most disturbing speech of his presidency, in which he issued more overt war threats than ever before towards Iran:

The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late (Applause.)

Leave aside all of the dubious premises -- the fact that the U.S. is supposed to consider Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" because of its support for groups that are hostile to Israel; that Iran is arming its longstanding Taliban enemies; that Iran is some sort of threat to Iraq's future even though it is an ally of Iraq's government; and that Iran's detention of American-Iranians inside its own country is anything other than retaliation for our own equally pointless detention of Iranians inside of Iraq, to say nothing of a whole slew of other provacative acts we have recently undertaken towards Iran. Leave all of that aside for the moment.

Viewed through the prism of presidential jargon, Bush's vow -- "We will confront this danger before it is too late" -- is synonymous with a pledge to attack Iran unless our array of demands are met. He is unmistakably proclaiming that unless Iran gives up its nuclear program and fundamentally changes its posture in the Middle East, "we will confront this danger." What possible scenario could avert this outcome?

By now it is unmistakably clear that it is not only -- or even principally -- Iran's nuclear program that is fueling these tensions. As Scott Ritter and others have long pointed out, the fear-mongering warnings about an Iranian "nuclear holocaust" (obviously redolent of Condoleezza Rice's Iraqi smoking gun "mushroom cloud") is but the pretext for achieving the true goal -- regime change in Tehran. Bush all but said so yesterday:

We seek an Iran whose government is accountable to its people -- instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
In other words, we "seek" a new government in Iran. Are there really people left who believe, with confidence, that Bush is going to leave office without commencing or provoking a military confrontation with Iran?

Bush also added: "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities." To underscore the fact that this is not mere rhetoric, the U.S. military in Iraq, following Bush's speech, arrested and detained eight Iranian energy experts meeting in Baghdad with the Iraqi government -- handcuffing, blindfolding, and interrogating them -- only to then release them when the Iraqi government protested. The path we are on -- with 160,000 of our troops in Iran's neighbor, escalating war-threatening rhetoric, and increasingly provocative acts -- is obviously the path to war.

The Iraq debate is over, at least from the perspective of actual results. It has been over for some time. The Congress is never going to force Bush to withdraw from Iraq. We are going to remain in Iraq in more or less the same posture through the end of the Bush presidency. That is just a fait accompli. The real issue of grave importance that remains unresolved is Iran, and it is hard to find causes for optimism there either.

There are, of course, significant steps that the Congress could take to impose at least some restraints on the Bush administration's ability to attack Iran unilaterally. It could make clear that the existing Iraq AUMF does not include authorization to attack Iran inside Iranian territory. It could enact legislation requiring Congressional approval before an attack on Iran is authorized. It could make clear that no funding will be available for any such attack in the absence of a Resolution authorizing a new war.

But all of that is exceedingly unlikely. The Bush administration is obviously aware of how weak the Congress is. Even the most mild of those measures -- an amendment which would merely have required Congressional authorization before the administration attacks Iran -- was meekly withdrawn by Democratic House leaders back in May because, as The Hill reported, Israeli-centric Congressmen and AIPAC itself "lobbied heavily to remove the Iran provision in the supplemental."

That happened a mere three months ago. Last month, the Senate unanimously passed a Lieberman-sponsored resolution gratuitously accusing Iran of acts of war against the U.S. -- a resolution with no purpose other than to strengthen the case for war against Iran. Clearly, Congress can (or at least will) do nothing to restrain the White House.

More disturbingly still, we have the same exact cast of neoconservative warmongers who brought us the invasion of Iraq, now chirping away ever more loudly, performing their tough guy war dances while courageously beating their little chests and urging on new wars.

More explicit war demands are now issuing from the warped though representative likes of Max Boot (of the Council on Foreign Relations, The LA Times, and Norm Podhoretz's Commentary Magazine) -- who wants to invade Syria and bomb the Damascus airport -- and then fueled by fresh-faced war cheerleaders like James Kirchick, who simultaneously (and revealingly) serves as Marty Peretz's assistant and writes both for the "liberal" New Republic and Podhoretz's Commentary blog. Yesterday, Kirchick -- who has convinced himself and then publicly announced that his desire to send other people off to war proves how much "grit" he has -- swaggered up and showed real grit by proclaiming:

Max is right on the crucial point, which is that Syria and Iran have effectively declared war on us. Make of that what you will. But it's not "warmongering" to simply state the fact that two rogue states are themselves complicit in unwarranted acts of warmongering against the United States and a nascent democracy in the Middle East.
They want a war not only with Iran, but also with Syria -- as do their ideological comrades such as Joe Lieberman, the only person whom Bush quoted yesterday in his speech.

The real tough Max Boot, in responding to Greg Djerejian's arguments that war cries against Syria are based on pure "hysteria," made sure to note yesterday that Djerejian is merely a "a lawyer who works at a financial services company," while Boot's pro-new-wars position is supported not only by Lieberman but also by what he calls "my current colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mike Gerson." Many of our Serious Foreign Policy experts -- and certainly the ones with the greatest influence within the administration -- are fully on board with these new wars.

The groundwork for an attack on Iran is so plainly being laid in the same systematic way as the attack on Iraq was and by the same people. Last week, Djerejian read and then dissected the full "trip report" issued by Pollack and O'Hanlon following their return from Iraq. In addition to including even more propaganda-bolstering claims about Iraq than was found in their Op-Ed, Djerejian noted that the report also recites the most mendacious aspects of the administration's case for war against Iran, including the truly idiotic accusation regarding "Iran's ability to supply al-Qa'ida" -- an accusation so absurd that nobody other than Joe Lieberman has been willing to voice it until now. Yet now it issues from our most Serious Democratic, "liberal" foreign policy "scholars": Iran is arming Al Qaeda.

The true danger here is that even if there would be marginally more political opposition to an attack on Iran than there was for an attack on Iraq -- and surely there would be, perhaps considerably more opposition -- those who favor an attack are still politically strong within the administration. And there simply are no factions which would oppose such an attack that are anywhere near strong enough to stop one. Who and where are they? What are the political factions which have sufficient political strength and who are willing to risk political capital to stop such a confrontation?

By stark and dispositive contrast, those who are pining for an attack on Iran -- from the Weekly Standard to the AEI and various generic warmongers of the Dick Cheney/National Review strain, as well as our most pious evangelical Christian warriors -- are zelaous adherents, True Believers. Bringing about a military confrontation with Iran has always been, and continues to be, their paramount priority.

As but one example, "Democrat" Hiam Saban, who funds the "liberal" Pollack's work at the Brookings Institution as well as any Democratic candidates he can find, described himself thusly: "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel . . . .On the issues of security and terrorism I am a total hawk."

The two most extremist factions when it comes to the Middle East -- Israel-centric neoconservatives and Christian evangelicals -- have long been telling the President that stopping Iran is his most important mission, the ultimate challenge that history will use to judge his strength, character and conviction. And it is beyond question that those are the groups who continue to hold the greatest sway over the decision-making process of the Commander-in-Chief himself.

Who is going to match the zeal and influence of these warmongers in order to stop them? The notion of attacking Iran may be insane, but it is not considered such by our mainstream establishment. Those who muse about it openly -- Lieberman, McCain, Giuliani, Kristol, Max Boot -- are not considered fringe extremists or unserious radicals, even though they are. Their views are comfortably within what is considered to be the realm of serious and responsible foreign policy advocacy.

As we march step by step with barely a debate towards a confrontation with Iran -- one that neoconservatives have long been proclaiming is inevitable -- are there any meaningful efforts to avert this? We frequently hear the slogan from war critics about Iraq that "hope is not a policy." The same is true with regard to preventing an attack on Iran.

UPDATE: Kimberly Kagan, of our nation's preeminent War Family (speciality: Advocating Wars, not fighting them), has a new report in The Weekly Standard today melodramatically entitled: "The Iran Dossier -- Iraq Report VI: Iran's proxy war against the U.S. in Iraq." Wow, she has a "dossier." Sounds ominous, and very serious.

She alleges that "Iranian-backed insurgents accounted for roughly half the attacks on Coalition forces" and decrees that "Iranian intervention is the next major problem the Coalition must tackle." In other words, we are at war with Iran. One would be remiss if one failed to note that always fueling these efforts is the incomparably gullible "war reporting" of Michael Gordon and his endless series of NYT front page articles designed to legitimize the war case against Iran.

UPDATE II: With his little self-glorifying "grit" routine, James "Jamie" Kirchick is merely reciting what neoconservatives have long said about themselves. Via Propagandee in comments, this amazing passage appeared in Time Magazine all the way back in July, 2004 -- in an article entitled "What to do about Iran":

But just as Tehran is divided over how to deal with Washington, so is Washington split over how to deal with Tehran. The neo-conservative ideologues in the Bush administration have never made any secret of their desire to see the U.S. military pursue "regime change" in Tehran next. "Real men go to Tehran" was one of their playful slogans during the buildup to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
That passage contains two critical insights into how our country has functioned over the last six years. Neoconservatives like Kirchick think they become real men by sending others into new wars (with Iran as the ultimate prize), while our leading media organs consider such twisted militarism to be "playful."

David Horowitz “Declares” Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week for October 22-26

by Jim Lobe

“This October 22-26, I am declaring Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” declared David Horowitz Tuesday in a friendly interview on, one of Horowitz’s many front groups. “I will hold demonstrations and protests, teach-ins and sit-ins on more than 100 college campuses. Our theme will be the Oppression of Women in Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic crusade [????] against the West.”

Horowitz, who, along with Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey, and Rick Santorum has played a truly vanguard role in the “Islamo-Fascism” movement, apparently has few doubts about his impact. “During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever – Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.” The event will confront the two “Big Lies of the political left:” that “George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat.” In fact, according to Horowitz, Islamo-fascism constitutes “the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted.”

Horowitz, president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (previously the Center for the Study of Popular Culture) editor-in-chief of, and founder of Students for Academic Freedom, is, of course, a former leading New Leftist who has found fame and fortune – he made $352,647 in 2005, according to tax records – on the extreme right and has done particularly well since 9/11 when he got in on the “Islamo-fascist” ground floor.

“Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” according to Horowitz will be a “national effort …to rally American students to defend their country” and will feature “memorial services for the victims of Islamic terror both in America and around the globe” (the guide suggests putting up crosses to commemorate victims presumably regardless of their religion); sit-ins (Horowitz suggests the office of the Women’s Studies Department or the campus Women’s Centers “to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam”) teach-ins on ‘’The Oppression of Women in Islam;” “a student petition denouncing Islamo-Fascist violence against women, gays, Christians, Jews and non-religious people” (and press releases at the ready if Muslim student groups, campus administrators, or student government officers fail to sign); and prominent speakers, such as the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) Ayan Hirsi Ali, columnist Mark Steyn, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Rick Santorum, as well as Horowitz himself.

In addition, participants will distribute pamphlets on Islamo-Fascism, including “The Islamic Mein Kampf,” “Why Israel is the Victim,” “Jimmy Carter’s War Against the Jews,” “And What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad.” Films to be shown include “Suicide Killers,” “Obsession” (about which my colleague, Khody Akhavi, wrote earlier this year), or “Islam: What the West Needs to Know.” For the films, Horowitz advises campus organizers to invite a “local radio host or other local figure to introduce the film and possibly moderate a discussion on it afterwards.” Organizers are encouraged to request funding from the student government. If is not forthcoming, according to the Guide, “it will prove the hypocrisy of your university’s claim to be committed to intellectual diversity and academic freedom.” Other possible funders and sponsors include Young Americans Foundation, the Leadership Institute, the campus College Republican club and Hillel,

The program clearly models itself after strategies employed by left-wing radicals in the 1960s and 1970s but is careful to protect the campus rules and local laws that Horowitz’s ideological enemies on the left would blatantly disregard. Organizers of the sit-ins are explicitly warned not to obstruct university operations or violate university rules. As my colleague, Eli Clifton noted, it combines some of the hardware of the 1960s student movement with the software of Horowitz’s hard-right – dare one say it? Islamophobic — ideology.

According to tax records obtained through the Foundation Center, Horowitz has been the beneficiary in recent years of a number of far-right foundations, including the Allegheny ($575,000 since 2001), Carthage ($125,000) and Sarah Scaife Foundations ($800,000) – all three are part of Richard Scaife’s empire and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (nearly $1.3 million). The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation ($475,000) also contributed nearly $500,000 to Horowitz’s enterprises over the same period.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brown Must Now Publicly Oppose Bush's War Drive On Iran

CASMII UK Press Release
29 August 2007
Brown Must Now Publicly Oppose Bush's War Drive On Iran
"I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities"
George Bush's address to war veterans in Nevada on 28th August was a carefully choreographed and unambiguous declaration of war on Iran.
Bush accused the Iranian government of being behind the insurgency in Iraq as well as assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said "We must confront these dangers before it's too late ... We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America."
In the past year and especially with the failure of the so-called surge strategy, Iran has been blamed for the United States' failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been demonised as the source of all ills in the Middle East, including Palestine and Lebanon. The US military briefing of 2nd July and 5th August accuse Iran of cooperation with AlQaeda and supporting the insurgency and the killing of American servicemen in Iraq. These accusations have not been backed by evidence and are in direct contradiction with earlier statements by Gen. David Petraus made as early as April 07.
Notable are also the recent statements by Afghan President, Karzai, and Iraqi PM, Al-Maliki who separately praised the positive contributions of Iran to the limited stability in their countries. Karzai called Iran a "helper and a solution". These remarks were sharply rebuked by the US.
The passage by the US Congress of an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill accusing Iran of "intolerable acts of hostility towards the US" and demanding the US government to take "Immediate action", and the unprecedented move by the American government to designate Iran's Revolution Guards as a "terrorist organization", provide the White House lawyers with a legal pretext for a direct US military attack on Iran without seeking further authorization from the Congress.
British Foreign Minister, David Miliband has admitted in an interview with the Financial Times on 8th July that there was no evidence of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq.
Bush's repeated labelling of Iran as the "biggest sponsor of terrorism" and his demonisation of Iran's nuclear programme as casting "a shadow of holocaust" over the Middle East is reminiscent of Rice's infamous warning of the danger of Iraqi WMD and the threat of a "mushroom cloud over New York".
Following an IAEA's visit to Tehran on August 7 in which agreement on the modalities and timetable were reached to address all outstanding ambiguities regarding Iran's nuclear energy programme, it was announced on 27th August that "earlier statements made by Iran [about Plutonium experiments] are consistent with the Agency's findings, and thus this matter is resolved."
The agreement further states:
"The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use."
Bush and his Neoconservative backers disgraced and wounded at home and caught in the bloody quagmire of Iraq and Afghanistan are unlikely to be willing to leave office in 2008 with the legacy of failure and the perception of having made Iran the dominant power in the region. The end of Bush's presidency could also be an end to the NeoCons' dream of controlling the vast energy resources of Iran and the larger Middle East. In throes of defeat, war can be resorted to as the only option.
It was the opposition and outrage with Tony Blair's slavish pursuit of the US foreign policy and his taking Britain into the US imperial wars that led to his final ousting and replacement by Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown must now honour his office by distancing Britain from the US's war plans for Iran and openly denouncing the military option. Anything but a clear denunciation of military attack on Iran will make him complicit in George W Bush's wars, the bearer of the legacy of the tragic bloodbath in Iraq as well as unleashing catastrophe in Iran and beyond.
For more information or to contact CASMII please visit

Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

"We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States," wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.

Plesch and Butcher examine "what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action" and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a "massive" attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.
  • Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.

  • US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.

  • US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.

  • Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.

  • Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.

  • Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.

  • The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb.

  • The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

When asked why the paper seems to indicate a certainty of Iranian WMD, Plesch made clear that "our paper is not, repeat not, about what Iran actually has or not." Yet, he added that "Iran certainly has missiles and probably some chemical capability."

Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:

This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.

However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.

Butcher says he does not believe the US would use nuclear weapons, with some exceptions.

"My opinion is that [nuclear weapons] wouldn't be used unless there was definite evidence that Iran has them too or is about to acquire them in a matter of days/weeks," notes Butcher. "However, the Natanz facility has been so hardened that to destroy it MAY require nuclear weapons, and once an attack had started it may simply be a matter of following military logic and doctrine to full extent, which would call for the use of nukes if all other means failed."

Military Strategy

The bulk of the paper is devoted to a detailed analysis of specific military strategies for such an attack, of ongoing attempts to destabilize Iran by inciting its ethnic minorities, and of the considerations surrounding the possible employment of nuclear weapons.

In particular, Plesch and Butcher examine what is known as Global Strike – the capability to project military power from the United States to anywhere in the world, which was announced by STRATCOM as having initial operational capability in December 2005. It is the that capacity that could provide strategic bombers and missiles to devastate Iran on just a few hours notice.

Iran has a weak air force and anti aircraft capability, almost all of it is 20-30 years old and it lacks modern integrated communications. Not only will these forces be rapidly destroyed by US air power, but Iranian ground and air forces will have to fight without protection from air attack.

British military sources stated on condition of anonymity, that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" from March 2003. It continued this focus even though it had infantry bogged down in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

Global Strike could be combined with already-existing "regional operational plans for limited war with Iran, such as Oplan 1002-04, for an attack on the western province of Kuzhestan, or Oplan 1019 which deals with preventing Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz, and therefore keeping open oil lanes vital to the US economy."

The Marines are not all tied down fighting in Iraq. Several Marine forces are assembling in the Gulf, each with its own aircraft carrier. These carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings. They come with landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops and hundreds more cruise missiles. Their task is to destroy Iranian forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and installations. They have trained for this mission since the Iranian revolution of 1979 as is indicated in this battle map of Hormuz illustrating an advert for combat training software.

Special Forces units – which are believed to already be operating within Iran – would be available to carry out search-and-destroy missions and incite internal uprisings, while US Army units in both Iraq and Afghanistan could mount air and missile attacks on Iranian forces, which are heavily concentrated along the Iran-Iraq border, as well as protecting their own supply lines within Iraq:

A key assessment in any war with Iran concerns Basra province and the Kuwait border. It is likely that Iran and its sympathizers could take control of population centres and interrupt oil supplies, if it was in their interest to do so. However it is unlikely that they could make any sustained effort against Kuwait or interrupt supply lines north from Kuwait to central Iraq. US firepower is simply too great for any Iranian conventional force.

Experts question the report's conclusions

Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director for Transportation Security, Antiterrorism Assistance Training, and Special Operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, Larry Johnson, does not agree with the report’s findings.

"The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities," said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

"But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are."

There is also the situation of US soldiers in Iraq and the supply routes that would have to be protected to ensure that US forces had what they needed. Plesch explains that “"firepower is an effective means of securing supply routes during conventional war and in conventional war a higher loss rate is expected."

"However as we say do not assume that the Iraqi Shiia will rally to Tehran – the quietist Shiia tradition favoured by Sistani may regard itself as justified if imploding Iranian power can be argued to reduce US problems in Iraq, not increase them."

John Pike, Director of Global Security, a Washington-based military, intelligence, and security clearinghouse, says that the question of Iraq is the one issue at the center of any questions regarding Iran.

"The situation in Iraq is a wild card, though it may be presumed that Iran would mount attacks on the US at some remove, rather than upsetting the apple-cart in its own front yard," wrote Pike in an email.

Political Considerations

Plesch and Butcher write with concern about the political context within the United States:

This debate is bleeding over into the 2008 Presidential election, with evidence mounting that despite the public unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Iran is emerging as an issue over which Presidential candidates in both major American parties can show their strong national security bona fides. ...

The debate on how to deal with Iran is thus occurring in a political context in the US that is hard for those in Europe or the Middle East to understand. A context that may seem to some to be divorced from reality, but with the US ability to project military power across the globe, the reality of Washington DC is one that matters perhaps above all else. ...

We should not underestimate the Bush administration's ability to convince itself that an "Iran of the regions" will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Plesch and Butcher are also interested in the attitudes of the current UK government, which has carefully avoided revealing what its position might be in the case of an attack. They point out, however, "One key caution is that regardless of the realities of Iran’s programme, the British public and elite may simply refuse to participate – almost out of bloody minded revenge for the Iraq deceit."

And they conclude that even "if the attack is 'successful' and the US reasserts its global military dominance and reduces Iran to the status of an oil-rich failed state, then the risks to humanity in general and to the states of the Middle East are grave indeed."

Larisa Alexandrovna is managing editor of investigative news for Raw Story and regularly reports on intelligence and national security stories. Contact:

Muriel Kane is research director for Raw Story.

Intelligence Services, The Media And Anti-Iran Propaganda

Paul Ingram is Senior Analyst at the British American Security Information Council. His subject areas include nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament (with a focus on Iran and the UK); defence economics, particularly subsidies of exports in the UK; and transatlantic security. He is the Chair of Crisis Action, and co-teaches systems thinking and practice on the Top Management Programme at the National School of Government alongside Prof. Jake Chapman.

Mehrnaz Shahabi is on the Editorial Board and CASMII UK Board member. She has interviewed Paul Ingram on the role of the intelligence services in the anti-Iran propaganda in the Western media.


Mehrnaz Shahabi: In the months preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the mainstream media in Britain played an instrumental role in softening the public opinion for war by disseminating the US Neo-Conservative propaganda against the Iraqi regime. The key allegations against Saddam Hussein’s regime of harbouring Al-Qaeda terrorists and possession of a clandestine nuclear weapons and other WMD programme were unfounded at the time and all proved to be false after the invasion. The incriminating stories of the infamous UK Iraq Dossier and the supply of uranium yellow cake from Niger to Iraq were shown to be total fabrication.

However, despite these revelations, these same key allegations of harbouring terrorist groups and running an active nuclear weapons programme are now being systematically repeated to pave the way for a military attack on Iran. The media is waging the same relentless propaganda bombardment to clear the path to yet another war, using the same tactics of anonymous sources, distortions and unsubstantiated claims to manufacture consent in a population that predominantly has no appetite for war. What is the mechanism for utilising supposedly independent media in the service of black propaganda? How can journalists and the newspapers get away with this sort of unethical and potentially criminal reporting, in particular, after the illegal invasion of Iraq?

Paul Ingram: They are finding it a little more difficult than in 2002/3. When the official US briefing on the supply of Iranian weapons eventually took place in Baghdad in early 2007, it was greeted by most news agencies with some doubt and even derision. It was clear the promised proof was hardly that. Nevertheless, it is still shocking how the reports of Iranian supply into Iraq, and even to the Taliban in Afghanistan have stuck in so much of the media, so that it is largely reported as background fact.

There are various mechanisms that explain this. Firstly, background briefing by intelligence services and military officials who make access conditional upon favourable reporting. Secondly, it is the nature of the media to generally take their home government policy and statements as mainstream, particularly if the main opposition groups support government policy in this area. Thirdly, there is the power of groupthink – assumptions rapidly take hold and become unquestioned fact, to build up a general picture of the situation, for which, facts that are not consistent are discarded. It is this tendency that means it is so important to question the basis of misleading propaganda continuously. Fourth, some journalists are simply gullible. Fifth, the media is driven by sensation and entertainment.

Mehrnaz Shahabi: The use of anonymous sources and unsubstantiated allegations has been a key feature of the reportage on Iran by the right wing pro-war media, such as the Daily Telegraph, which was behind the most crucial lie used as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq, that is, Saddam’s 45 minutes missile capability to hit European cities. However, this use of black propaganda has now moved on to a higher pitch and taken a substantially dangerous twist, in that, now the so called respectable liberal press, such as the Guardian and the Observer, are churning out highly incriminating and unfounded propaganda against Iran. A recent full front page report by Simon Tisdall of May 22nd accused Iran of “Secret Plan for Summer Offensive to Force US out of Iraq”, using an unnamed US official alleging Iranian links with AlQaeda in organising such an offensive. Again, The Observer front page on 10th June published a story by Mark Townsend alleging a nuclear conspiracy uncovered by the Customs and Excise detectives and the MI6 in which highly enriched uranium from Russia is transhipped through Sudan “destined” for Iran, for its “nuclear weapons programme”. There is reference throughout to claims of anonymous “investigators” without any supporting evidence to substantiate these claims. There is also the open reference to “Iran’s nuclear weapons programme” which is remarkable in the absence of any such evidence by the IAEA inspectors. How can this new development of the active involvement of the Guardian and the Observer in promoting war propaganda be viewed? What forces propagate these allegations to the media? What type of pressure or temptation, and at what level is exerted that causes journalists of more respectable papers reporting stories without posing basic journalistic challenge for substantiation of truth, particularly so when the consequences of such distortions are still unfolding in the bloodbath in Iraq?

Paul Ingram: Even the Guardian and Observer journalists are looking for a sensation to sell their papers. I have to admit though to being a little surprised. It shows the limits of reliability even of some of the better organs of news. The best way to find out would be to ask some trusted journalists. I have not yet had the opportunity.

Mehrnaz Shahabi: The story in the Observer reportedly comes from MI6. The role of M16 in covert domestic and foreign operations and its infiltration and manipulation of media is well documented. One such example is 1953 coup and the overthrow of the popular nationalist government in Iran. An article in the British Journalism Review in 2000 by David Leigh, the respected investigative journalist, the then editor of the Guardian’s comments page and the assistant editor of the Observer, refers to the use by MI6 of “Information Operations” to manufacture consent in public opinion for foreign policy adventures. He details attempts at recruiting journalists, MI6 agents masquerading as journalists, using media pseudonyms to promote stories, and media links to disseminate convenient stories or black propaganda. It is noteworthy that this report names Con Coghlin, the Daily Telegraph author of incriminating stories about Iraq and now Iran, as one such link. However, this knowledge did not hinder Con Coghlin's ability to successfully pedal misinformation that led to the invasion of Iraq, and his current insinuations in relation to Iran. Considering the secret nature of these operations and the use of the Official Secrets Act, how is it possible to pursue such links and uncover the sources behind these stories?

Paul Ingram: I don’t think it would be possible to uncover the sources. Journalists are notoriously careful to cover their sources. The best one can do is to track their previous histories, as CASMII does, and highlight their role in the past, and the role of the security services in using the media to distort opinion in favour of intervention.

Mehrnaz Shahabi: What action can CASMII take now to attempt to ameliorate this situation? How might other organisations, such as Stop the War and the CND, for example, be enlisted effectively to act in this very worrying and cynical use of propaganda?

Paul Ingram: I would contact the Editors of the papers, particularly Alan Rusbridger (Guardian), in a non-hostile manner (expressing incredulity, given the facts etc). My understanding is that the Guardian usually has an unofficial policy on things like this (for example, they have a ‘policy’ against Trident replacement), and it may be possible to have a civil and informative conversation about this. Contact the Press Complaints Commission and ask for a file to be opened that accumulates these stories rather than focusing just on one, as it is the accumulation that CASMII is most worried about, and that demonstrates manipulation.

Other organisations should write letters to the Editor, letters to Press Complaint Commission.

Mehrnaz Shahabi: The Press Complaints Commission, in its recent verdict in favour of the Daily Telegraph’s use of unnamed sources in propagating incriminating stories against Iran, ruled that the burden of proof, for invalidating the claims of these unknown sources, was on CASMII. Clearly this stance opens the floodgates for promoting further unsubstantiated claims which can never be invalidated, as is exemplified by the problem of proving a negative, as in the case of Iraq demonstrating the absence of WMD. It also sets the conditions for the impossibility or great difficulty that any group would have in contesting that an article was black propaganda. In what way might the Press Complaints Commission be brought to account and challenged?

Paul Ingram: Ultimately, it has to be through an MP or Parliamentary group.

Mehrnaz Shahabi: In what way might members of parliament be usefully involved in all the issues above, particularly with respect to MI6’s accountability to the parliament? And, in view of the fact that much of this must be in the domain of the politically aware public, and this must include MPs, do you have any views on the forces that may be rendering concerned MPs helpless, for example, could MPs be caught in a double bind with respect to a conflict between truth and the Official Secrets Act, or foreign policy?

Paul Ingram: The accountability is minimal, and through the Security and Intelligence Liaison Group, a highly select and elite group of MPs. I think you’d have more joy using MPs for their public role, and to get them to instigate campaigns through Parliament. Ultimately, most MPs, even those who may be concerned, will probably think that it’s difficult to know one way or another about Iran’s involvement within Iraq or Afghanistan. Putting one’s neck out if one isn’t clear is a risky game. Last night I watched the film ‘Good night, and Good luck’ by George Clooney (2005), about a courageous CBS team that took on Sen Joe McCarthy. It highlighted almost exactly what we are experiencing. It struck me that George Clooney clearly understands these issues we are talking about, and may be willing to play a role highlighting them. Celebrities are a great way of cutting through to the public – they are trusted much more than politicians!

Mehrnaz Shahabi: Apart from the possibility of some progressive celebrities standing against the American war propaganda, what can the antiwar organisations like CASMII do in the US to expose the role of the CIA and the American military not only in propagating false and distorted stories against Iran but also in their covert operations to destabilize the Iranian government?

Paul Ingram: Ultimately we are engaged in battle over 'hearts and minds' globally, in building support for an alternative perspective of how nations can relate to one another and build justice. The media, in the broadest sense of that term, is the battleground for these ideas. This means providing honest and balanced comment in such a manner that trust is built up with the people. It means being critical of any and all governments where such criticism is appropriate, highlighting their hypocrisy, challenging those that claim the moral high ground while abusing their positions; but also recognising the danger that comes from promoting a truly cynical view of the world … because that in the end only benefits the powerful and undermines justice. This means embracing the positive aspects of the values promoted by the powerful: freedom, equality, democracy, etc., and highlighting to US and European citizenry the ways in which these values are undermined. We need to rebut stories rapidly. We need to probe the inconsistencies, highlight the uncertainties, the complexities, the mess. US and European populations are already tiring of the rush to war in the Middle East, when the costs are high. If the blame is spread and the complexities recognised, it is more difficult for them to pin it all on Iran.

Why the US and Israel Should Lose Middle East Wars

A Global Justice Movement

Former CIA Analyst

George W. Bush has once again thrown down the gauntlet. The Mideast wars of the United States, he announced to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on August 22, must end only with a U.S. victory. He has not wavered in this position since September 11, 2001. The unspoken but real purpose of his efforts has been and will be to concentrate increasing power over the Middle East in the hands of the small group of rich and greedy elites who rule the U.S. and Israel today, and perhaps he will achieve this goal. The more important result, however, will be the elimination of any movement toward greater global justice, stability, and peace in the world for decades to come.

It is past time to challenge the arrogant Mr. Bush directly.

For overwhelming moral reasons, I do not want the U. S. and Israeli governments to be victorious in any present or future Middle East wars. I want them to lose such wars.

U.S. policies in the Middle East since 9/11 have already caused a million or so killings and have created more injustice in the world than existed formerly. Every day results in more killings, more injustice. Unless might does indeed make right, we have no right whatever to win these wars. We should lose them.

If the U.S. were to "win" these wars, whatever that means, more of the world's people than at present would be ruled by the U.S. Most of these people do not want to be ruled by the U.S. -- which makes the wars themselves anti-democratic. That fact alone is reason enough to conclude that our country should lose these wars.

My personal belief is that the United States and Israel will inevitably lose these wars over time in any case. If this loss is in fact inevitable, conventional wisdom would argue that it is better for the loss to happen rapidly in order to hold casualties down. In a continuing civil war over which outsiders have limited control, however, conventional wisdom may not apply.

Nevertheless, a truly rapid -- meaning within the next six months -- acceptance of defeat by the U.S. and Israel of their own Mideast policies would probably offer the only possibility of mitigating the blame assigned to these two nations by the rest of the world for future mass killings of human beings throughout this unstable area.

Much of global public opinion will in any case correctly attribute a large residual responsibility to the U.S. and Israel for the utterly disproportionate and one-sided killings already carried out since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Further killings that occur during even a short and rapid transition to inevitable U.S. and Israeli defeat will only enlarge this residual. But a short, quick, and determined acceptance of defeat will still reduce to some extent the charges of U.S. responsibility for future killings.

A lasting peace in the Middle East will only happen, of course, if the U.S. and Israel are wise enough publicly (and honestly) to end their drive for joint imperium over the Middle East and Central Asia and also to cease their efforts to bring about regime change in Iran and Syria. In other words, as has long been the case, the U.S. and Israel will need to make serious long-term changes in their own foreign policies if they wish to avoid a conflict lasting for generations that ultimately they cannot win.

As of now, no evidence exists that either country is willing even to consider such policy changes, and no evidence exists that either the Republican or Democratic Parties in the U.S., any political parties in Israel, the military-industrial complexes of the U.S. and Israel, the Israel lobby in the U.S., the U.S. Protestant Christian Right, the Catholic Church, or the ruling elites of any EU states will bring one jot of meaningful pressure to bear on the Israeli or the U.S. government to change their policies.

If change is to come, it must come from ordinary voters, particularly in the U.S., applying pressure on the various groups listed above, or from ordinary people succeeding in setting up new groups or parties that will succeed in bringing greater pressure to bear. The pressures must be very strong and very explicit. People must emphasize day after day to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and to every presidential candidate that the U.S. must first and foremost change its own policies. And people must emphasize to all politicians that the Israel lobby is one of the strongest forces pressing both Democrats and Republicans not to change U.S. policies, thereby preventing healthy political debate in the country. This must stop.

Finally, my hope is that sensible U.S. voters will agree with the opinions summarized here and in addition create a groundswell of support for the immediate impeachment and conviction of Bush and Cheney. This is the only action, in my view, that opens up the possibility of rapidly bringing about the necessary changes in U.S. policies.

Other Considerations

Let's say it bluntly. War with Iran is inevitable before January 2009 unless Bush and Cheney are both impeached first. New Israeli-U.S. hostilities in Lebanon are also likely. Either warfare or covert actions conducted by the U.S. and/or Israel to bring about regime change in Syria are also probable.

But those of us in the U.S. who claim to be peace activists ought to be ashamed. With rare exceptions, the powers in the movement are confident that things are already going our way, what with the Democratic Party's success in the 2006 congressional elections and the continuing disaster the Bush administration faces in Iraq. Most self-labeled peace activists think the odds so favor further Democratic victories that, as a group, we do not need to run any risks or do anything new to take the presidency away from the Republicans in 2008. It's old hat, maybe, but the best thing to do, most peace activists believe, is just to keep talking about withdrawal from Iraq, while patting ourselves on the back and emphasizing to each other that we are being admirably mature and responsible in not moving too fast toward actual withdrawal.

So let's admit that many of us sustain ourselves with hot air even when the subject is limited to Iraq. Let's admit too that few want to discuss the role Israel played in encouraging the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003, because that would be unnecessarily criticizing Israel. In fact, both the Israel lobby and the Israeli government probably concluded as early as May 2003 that they had already achieved their own principal objectives in Iraq, and that it was counterproductive for them to waste their own credibility by continuing to oppose every aspect of the U.S. peace movement's criticism of the war. Even before things began going wrong in the war's execution, Israeli propagandists were soft-pedaling their own top officials' support for the war. But underneath, the support was definitely there, hard and firm.

When it comes to matters in the Middle East other than Iraq, most peaceniks are even less willing to address questions of the Israel lobby's involvement in U.S. policymaking. Talking about this would be the surest way to reveal the disunity and embarrassing differences within the so-called peace movement. In order to avoid an open discussion, it is easier for most of us simply to ignore the voluminous evidence that both the lobby, and senior U.S. officials who are in effect part of the lobby, are pushing the U.S. toward war, particularly with Iran, but also toward regime change in Syria and resumed hostilities in Lebanon. If it comes to war with any or all of these countries, most peace types note that they are not pushing for it, and they will silently hope more wars do not erupt, but they will not make a lot of noise about stopping such wars before they start. In this, they are simply following most of the leaders of the Democratic Party.

All of this, of course, is logically nonsensical. Take a minute and think of the mess the peace movement has created. First, the very name reflects the movement's shallowness. What good is a hypocritical, utterly out-of-touch and ineffective "peace movement," when beyond question ordinary people on this earth want justice before they want peace? The U.S. government and its ultra-close ally Israel actually want more unjust colonial wars and covert action to strengthen their own already unjust influence over a major part of the globe, in this case the Middle East. Peace above all is for those who support the status quo, but if you're in that category you're in a small minority. So let's banish the peace movement and get a global justice movement going. Peace may be all right long-term, but if you're one of the angry billions on this earth constantly surrounded by a stench of injustice that smothers all hope, chances are that, in your mind, peace should follow justice, not precede it. Chances are, in fact, that you have no favorable thoughts of any type about U.S. peaceniks.

Let's look at another question that is not just about the Middle East but is about the broader Islamic world as well. It seems clear that Samuel Huntington's concept of a clash of civilizations has expanded its intellectual appeal since September 11, 2001. We do indeed seem to have an example of a clash of civilizations that has become a growing force today. This force is nourished by the desire of Muslims for real freedom from the increasing political domination over the Islamic peoples by Western (Christian and Jewish) parts of the world. The principal Islamic motivation has little to do with "hatred of our freedoms." The Islamic hatred (and it does exist) is aimed at U.S., Israeli, and Western policies.

Huntington's book was published in the mid-1990s, and the events of September 11 can be seen as a major example of this type of clash of civilizations. The point to be made here is that ideas in the book, conveniently titled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, lend themselves to being twisted fairly easily into ideas that the neocons, the Israel lobby, recent Israeli governments, EU elites, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Christian Right in the U.S., and the Bush administration itself all have established as part of their own views toward the Islamic world. The book therefore becomes an object of considerable value to the present rulers of the United States and Israel, since it can be seen as providing intellectual justification not only for the special relationship between these two nations, but also for the newly cordial ties of the European Union to U.S. and Israeli policies.

Those among us who wish to counter the notion that a clash of civilizations justifies what the U.S. and Israel are doing in the Middle East today should stand up and state their opposition loudly and directly. Supporters of the concept that the "clash" is a significant part of the present global political system seem to suggest that the very existence of the clash makes unjust, oppressive treatment of Islamic people somehow acceptable. But we should point out that the existence of a real clash is questionable, and that in any case injustice and oppression are never acceptable. People everywhere should realize that in this increasingly globalized world the importance of nationalism is beginning to fade. All of us should begin thinking much more about what are the best policies for the entire world to pursue, not what are the best policies for their own nations. To start this ball rolling, those who happen to live in the U.S. should stop thinking of themselves as exceptional. Americans are perfectly average -- no better and no worse than average people everywhere else. There are some -- a few -- exceptional people anywhere you look, but most of us do not make the cut.

We should emphasize that in today's world a Middle East empire dominated jointly by two nationalist powers, the U.S. and Israel, is not only anti-democratic, but is impossibly anachronistic as well

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He can be reached at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

11 year old Israeli boy shot and killed, and nobody cares

I should have made clear the reason why nobody cares: the 11 year old boy was not a Jew, but a Palestinian Israeli citizen. Under Israeli law, that makes him an "Arab" (the word "Palestinian is not used), and since Israel is a self-declared "Jewish state" that make the murder of this boy something utterly irrelevant. Welcome to just one scene of the Apartheid of the "only democracy in the Middle-East". This kind of thing happens daily (sometimes several times a day). And nobody seems to care. And why should anyone care? Over 500'000 Iraqi kids were killed by sanctions, many more were killed by the US occupation (see counter on the lower right of this page), many more Lebanese kids were killed by Israel over the past decades and it looks like the Iranian kids are next on the Neocon Empire's slaughter list. One more dead Arab child really does not matter at all, does it?


Tulkarem – Ma'an – The Israeli occupying forces shot intensively at a child on Friday, while he was sitting in a fig tree in Seida village, near the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem.

11-year-old Mahmoud Al Qarnawi was left bleeding on the ground by the Israeli troops. When his mother asked the soldiers if her son was alive, they said "maybe".

The child had Israeli citizenship, but was visiting his relatives in the Palestinian West Bank village.

Ma'an's correspondent in Tulkarem met with Mahmoud's family. They said that Israeli Special Forces had shot and killed the child.

Mahmoud's sister, 16-year-old Ruqaiya, said she had watched as Mahmoud was murdered.


Ruqaiya said, "I heard the sounds of intensive shooting behind the house, I opened our gate to see what was happening and one of the soldiers shot at me. But I wasn't hurt. I sat in a room and minutes later my mother came.

"I went outside with my mother to witness the most terrifying thing I have seen in my life."

Ruqaiya continued, "Mahmoud was on the ground under the fig tree. He was moving but without sound or speech. There was a lot of blood around him.

"My mother asked one of the soldiers "is my son alive?" and he answered her in an ironic way in Arabic "maybe he is still." They stayed until he died and then left," she said.

Ruqaiya added that the soldiers refused to allow her to drag her brother's body away. "They threatened me, they said they will kill me, but I insisted on removing him from under the tree.

"His head was open because of the bullet wounds. The scene was terrible.

"The soldiers then asked me to remove my other brother, Siddiq, aged 22, who was also injured and bleeding. The soldiers then dragged him for seven metres before treating him."

A local lady said that the soldiers interrogated one of the other boys from the Al Qarnawi family, Safwat. "They questioned him and beat him. After that they got a football and began playing in the garden."

The Israeli forces alleged that Siddiq is 'wanted' for resisting the occupation.