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What if ...? Solving the Iran stand-off

by Craig Rowley

I have been mulling over a question or two. Make that a whole series of questions. They are '"What if ..." questions.  They are not messy and futile backward looking "What if ..." questions of the "toothpaste back into the tube" type. They are future focused, solution focused questions that ask what if we could do something, what if we did this or something like it or something else. What if we could work through a problem together?

The Iranian regime has a nuclear program.  It includes several research sites, a uranium mine, a nuclear reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include a uranium enrichment plant. Iran claims it is using the technology for peaceful purposes. The United States, however, makes the allegation that the program is part of a drive to develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear program for peaceful purposes, even one involving the enrichment of uranium, is allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whilst a nuclear weapons development program is not. And therein lies the nub of the problem.

In the last weeks of last year the UN Security Council approved economic sanctions on Iran. If Tehran fails to comply with resolution 1737 by the end of a 60-day deadline that the UN imposed, the Security Council will consider new measures.  What if the Iranian regime fails to comply?

In a few weeks time the 35 members of the Board of Governors of the United Nation's nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will meet in Vienna and review the reports compiled by their inspection teams. They need to decide whether Iran has taken the steps required by their resolution GOV/2006/14, steps "which are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme."   The IAEA will then make its report to the UN Security Council on Iran’s nuclear activities.  What if the IAEA reports that Iran failed to comply with their resolution and thereby Security Council resolution 1737? What then? What is the next move for the Security Council?

Coercive diplomacy seems to have been the strategy so far.  That was reflected in the first Security Council resolution on Iran in response to its nuclear programme. In June 2006, acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the United Nations in order to make mandatory the IAEA requirement that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities, the Security Council issued resolution 1696  threatening Iran with economic sanctions in case of non-compliance. Resolution 1696  avoided any implication that use of force may be warranted. Exercise of that option, the use of force, was premature.

Resolution 1737 did not include a clear statement that use of force would be warranted in case of non-compliance. With Resolution 1737 the Security Council affirmed only that it shall review Iran’s actions in the light of the IAEA’s report and:

(a) that it shall suspend the implementation of measures if and for so long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, to allow for negotiations;

(b) that it shall terminate the measures specified in … this resolution as soon as it determines that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors, as confirmed by the IAEA Board;

(c) that it shall, in the event that the report … [by the IAEA] … shows that Iran has not complied with this resolution, adopt further appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to persuade Iran to comply with this resolution and the requirements of the IAEA, and underlines that further decisions will be required should such additional measures be necessary.

The Security Council could continue with the current sanctions and set a new deadline with an explicit threat attached. What if it does so? What is likely to happen after that?

The Security Council could authorise additional and more punitive sanctions. What if it did this? What is likely to happen in this scenario?

And though unlikely at this stage, the Security Council could ultimately authorise action more punitive, more violent, than the use of sanctions. What if it does?

As we enter dialogue and together consider these questions, and in all likelihood the assumptions on which each of us base our answers to these questions, I hope we can look to the possibility of a positive outcome.

As we’ve been discussing the issues in Ceasefire and I’ve been keeping myself informed, learning what I can about the issues raised and considering everything constructive that I’ve come across during that time, I chanced upon some old Persian wisdom: “Epigrams succeed where epics fail.”  So what if we keep this in mind: People make peace.

What if a way could be found, with the help of any people who want to find a way, a way without war, a firm and fair way to have Iran take those steps needed for it to be taken off America's state-sponsors-of-terrorism list without anyone being wiped of any map?  What if we considered what Albert Einstein said about the menace of mass destruction?

"Most people go on living their everyday life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghastly tragi-comedy that is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world ... It would be different if the problem were not one of things made by Man himself, such as the atomic bomb ... It would be different, for instance, if an epidemic of bubonic plague were threatening the entire world.

In such a case, conscientious and expert persons would be brought together and they would work out an intelligent plan to combat the plague. After having reached agreement upon the right ways and means, they would submit their plan to the governments. Those would hardly raise serious objections but rather agree speedily on the measures to be taken ... They certainly would never think of trying to handle the matter in such a way that their own nation would be spared whereas the next one would be decimated. But could not our situation be compared to one of a menacing epidemic?

People are unable to view this situation in its true light, for their eyes are blinded by passion. General fear and anxiety create hatred and aggressiveness. The adaptation to warlike aims and activities has corrupted the mentality of man; as a result, intelligent, objective and humane thinking has hardly any effect and is even suspected and persecuted as unpatriotic."  

- Albert Einstein, 'The Menace of Mass Destruction', in Out of My Later Years.

What if we did compare our situation to one of a menacing epidemic? What if conscientious and expert, intelligent, objective and humane thinking persons were brought together to work out an intelligent plan to solve this problem?

I’ve been mulling over these questions. Most of all I’ve have in mind a couple prompted by a quote by John Ralston Saul  that Margo Kingston used to open the final chapter of Not Happy, John!  That quote is: “If we believe in democracy you have to believe in the power of the citizen – there is no such thing as abstract democracy.”

And the questions I mostly think about now are these: What if we, as the citizens of free democracies and the peoples seeking a democratic future, believed in our power? What if we exercised our real power, did not unthinkingly leave these problems entirely to the powers that be, and could work through our problems together? 


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We must abolish all nuclear weapons.

THERE is talk of bombing Iran to force a halt to its nuclear weapons program. Certainly, if at all possible, Iran should be stopped from getting nuclear weapons. However, Iran's program is only a symptom of the real problem: the existence of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of eight other nations. Fear of Iran's aspirations should serve not merely as an occasion for reactive measures, but as a wake-up call to the larger menace. What we need to do is to abolish nuclear weapons altogether...............

First, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France) are themselves in violation of the NPT, because they committed themselves to work towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, but are not doing so. There is, therefore a certain hollowness to their insistence that others not develop nuclear weapons. This is why, in the 1990s, India denounced them for what it dubbed "nuclear apartheid" and openly went nuclear in 1998.

Dr Paul Monk is managing director of Austhink Consulting.

While members of the UN Security Council are in violation of the NPT what hope do we have of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons?

Australia has not gone down the nuclear path. We need to put as much pressure as possible on all members of the UN to comply with the NPT.

"What, me worry?"

Still not getting with the program: Putin on Iran.

 The Caspian summit.

Juan Cole - The Iran hawks.

The power of faith - to create a disaster. Tom Engelhardt presents Mark Danner - The Moment Has Come to Get Rid of Saddam.

"Reality? Try our version."

Conn Hallinan on casualties

On Turkey entering Iraq.

All that blood and slaughter and some salivating at the prospect of a bigger and "better" adventure ... So what do you think about the tax cuts? 

Interested in avoiding World War III?

"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," Mr Bush said at the White House overnight after Russia cautioned against military action against Tehran's suspect atomic program.

"So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," said Mr Bush.

We've got  leaders in the US and Australia who have destroyed Iraq. Now they are threatening to destroy Iran. If we really are interested in avoiding World War III we must get rid of Bush and Howard.

Lies and liars, blood and slaughter and have it on the rocks

Scott Ritter - No Legitimate Justification for War with Iran.

Not that questions of legitimacy concern them. As to justifications, well, they can always make stuff up. They have form. Advice - be careful about taking the word of known liars at face value.

Gary Leupp - Response to an Angry Marine

More talking Turkey:

Khody Akhavi

From DemocracyNow!.

The Turkish military has stepped up attacks against what it says are Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, bases in northern Iraq. The shelling comes just ahead of a vote in the Turkish Parliament on a bill authorizing a ground incursion against Kurdish fighters in Iraq. The military has reportedly amassed 60,000 troops along its border with Iraq. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Turkey to refrain from any major military operation. But Washington's influence over Turkey appears to be waning.

Turkey's top general warned this weekend that US-Turkey relations would "never be the same again" if the United States House votes to declare the World War I-era mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide. Despite President Bush's plea, the House Foreign Affairs committee voted 27-21 Wednesday to call the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks "systematic," "deliberate," and amounting to "genocide." Turkey recalled its ambassador to Washington last week.

Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman visited Ankara on Saturday in an attempt to improve worsening ties. He apologized for the House Committee vote on behalf of the Bush administration.


To discuss this, we are now joined by two guests who have been closely following these issues. Zanku Armenian is on the Board of Directors of the Armenian National Committee of America. He joins us from Los Angeles, California. Arman Artuc is the editor of a webzine for Armenians in Turkey. He joins us here in the firehouse studio in New York.

Also from DemocracyNow!, an interview with Dahr Jamail.

US/Iraq negotiate Blackwater expulsion.

Baghdad - U.S. and Iraqi officials are negotiating Baghdad's demand that security company Blackwater USA be expelled from the country within six months, and American diplomats appear to be working on how to fill the security gap if the company is phased out.

    The talks about Blackwater's future in Iraq flow from recommendations in an Iraqi government report on the incident Sept. 16 when, Iraqi officials determined, Blackwater guards opened fire without provocation in Baghdad's Nisoor Square and killed 17 Iraqi citizens.

    The Iraqi investigators issued five recommendations to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which has since sent them to the U.S. Embassy as demands for action.

    Point No. 2 in the report says:

    "The Iraqi government should demand that the United States stops using the services of Blackwater in Iraq within six months and replace it with a new, more disciplined organization that would be answerable to Iraqi laws."

    Sami al-Askari, a top aide to al-Maliki, said that point in the Iraqi list of demands was nonnegotiable.

Next for the US expulsion? 

On private contractors - The LA Times asks: What is their status?

WASHINGTON -- As the Bush administration deals with the fallout from the recent killings of civilians by private security firms in Iraq, some officials are asking whether the contractors could be considered unlawful combatants under international agreements.

Expelled and off to Gitmo? 

Dave Lindorff - The slaughter of the Innocents

A lament

More concerning known liars - Justin Raimondo on The Dar El Zor Hoax.

The great "mystery" arising out of the recent Israeli strike at Syria – purportedly targeting a nuclear-related site near the town of Dair El Zor in the northern part of the country – has been the subject of much speculation, but its real purposes have been hidden behind the veil of obfuscation deliberately thrown over the affair by the Israelis and their media amen corner. The gale winds of another Israeli propaganda campaign are blowing at full force across the American media landscape, perpetrating a hoax of outrageous proportions: namely, that the Israelis knocked out a nascent nuclear facility. In a replay of the disastrous Judith Miller fabrications, the Times makes it look like the Syrians, with North Korean assistance, had constructed a nuke plant that was just about to go online:

"The attack on the reactor project has echoes of an Israeli raid more than a quarter century ago, in 1981, when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. That attack was officially condemned by the Reagan administration, though Israelis consider it among their military's finest moments. In the weeks before the Iraq war, Bush administration officials said they believed that the attack set back Iraq's nuclear ambitions by many years."

What a lot of nonsense. The Iraqis had completed a nuclear facility that was fully operational and could have produced weapons-grade materials. The Syrian project has been going nowhere for 40 years, as Joseph Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons and a senior fellow and director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, informs us:

"It is a basic research program built around a tiny 30 kilowatt reactor that produced a few isotopes and neutrons. It is nowhere near a program for nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel."

Who cares about facts when you've got a perfectly good excuse to run a sensational headline? In any case, "many details remain unclear," as the Times piece puts it, which gives the editors an out. However, I'd trust Laura Rozen before I'd trust the Times, and she relays the following far more plausible account from Intelligence Online:

"In attacking Dair El Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn't targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country.

"Dair El Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria's 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons."

The moment this story hit the headlines, the alarm on my bullsh*t meter started clanging pretty loudly. But what, one wondered, was the purpose of this elaborate deception?

Read on.

And how has the Iraq war impacted on the GWOT? 

Back in the land of Oz  our chief warmonger offers tax cuts as the frenzy begins over what colour deckchairs are preferred and how they should be arranged. Iceberg? What iceberg?

Syria's president fesses up Israeli strike hit military target

Syria's hereditary life president has admitted the object of the recent Israeli air strike was indeed a military target. The two countries have been at war for 30 years.

"In his only public comment on the raid, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, acknowledged this month that Israeli jets dropped bombs on a building that he said was “related to the military” but which he insisted was “not used."

Despite vehement denials from the usual cast of lickspittles, it turns out the target was indeed a North Korean designed nuclear plant in the early stages of construction. And as President Assad II admits, it was a military site.

"Nuclear experts say that North Korea’s main reactor, while small by international standards, is big enough to produce roughly one bomb’s worth of plutonium a year."

The irony.

John Pratt says:

In my humble opinion, the leaders of political movements or nations that support regime change or destruction of a nation by illegal invasion, or any other violent means, should be denounced.

So, would that apply to Hamas and the current regimes in Iran and Syria, say? Speaking of genocide, as we were?

Talking Turkey, go home and lots more in store.

Turkish general warns US over Armenian genocide resolution.

And Mushroom Cloud urges Turkey to show restraint over Iraq.

Oh, the irony.

Yankees go home.

Baghdad - A key Shiite member of Iraq's ruling coalition called Saturday for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from his country and rejected the possibility of permanent bases.

    Ammar Hakim, a leading figure of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), told a gathering celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr: "We will work not to have fixed bases for foreign troops on Iraqi lands."

    He also called on American forces to be more careful in their use of force after recent bombings killed civilians in a Shiite village north of Baghdad and in a Sunni area northwest of the Iraqi capital.

    "We are working to enter into a security agreement with the international community to ensure that Iraq retrieves its full sovereignty," he said.

Uri Avnery -  The Mother of all Pretexts.

Chris Floyd - War Without End.

There are actually some quarters where Pentagon honcho Robert Gates is considered a moderate of some kind, one of the few sensible, responsible figures in the Bush Administration able to restrain – or at least moderate – the raging-bull belligerence of Dick Cheney and his crew. This has always been a curious reputation for a man who has spent most of his career hip-deep in militarist skullduggery, as Robert Parry, among others, has amply demonstrated. (Here and here, for example.) But in such desperate and degraded times as these, it's only natural to clutch at the slightest straw of hope that someone, somewhere, will stand between us and the worst excesses of our masters, as we noted here earlier.
(In fact, I'm so old that I can remember all the way back to the year 2000, when Cheney himself was regarded by the peddlers of conventional wisdom as a sensible, responsible figure, a "safe pair of hands" who would restrain the coltish antics of Young Bush and mitigate the extremist zeal of the GOP "base." That really panned out well, didn't it?)  

But like Colin Powell – that oh-so-moderate, oh-so-mitigating force of Bush's first term – Gates is just a bagman for the global dominance gang. They whistle and he jumps – then whistles the same tune to his own minions. At this stage of the game, after so much death, deceit, and corruption, it is cretinous folly to believe that anyone picked by the Bush Regime for any job would act otherwise. If they were a different sort of person – if they were indeed sensible, responsible, honorable or moral – they would not be there.

Greed, arrogance and hubris ... how much blood? How long will urgent challenges go largely unmet?

Terrorism or a war not sanctioned by the UN is illegal.

Eliot, you ask: "So, what, then John is your opinion of a political movement that sets among its principal objectives the destruction of a member state of the United Nations?

Or of the regimes which fund its activities, support it politically in international forums and call for the destruction of a UN member state?

Would you say they and their apologists should be denounced unequivocally?"

In my humble opinion, the leaders of political movements or nations that support regime change or destruction of a nation by illegal invasion, or any other violent means, should be denounced. The leaders of such organisations or nations should be brought before the International Criminal Courts and charged with terrorism or murder. No nation should invade another nation without sanction from the United Nations.

Destroying 'Unjustified' neighbour states

John Pratt says:

"Eliot, I don't know where you get the idea I support any political regime. I support the United Nations, and hope that one day the place to resolve international disputes will be the UN not the battlefield."

So, what, then John is your opinion of a political movement that sets among its principal objectives the destruction of a member state of the United Nations?

Or of the regimes which fund its activities, support it politically in international forums and call for the destruction of a UN member state?

Would you say they and their apologists should be denounced unequivocally?

If you're looking for historical precedents for this sort of thing, how about the behaviour of those former League of Nations member states which only a few decades ago called for, and acted in order to facilitate the destruction of fellow League member states?

A big issue at the time was ceaseless uncompromising demands of entitlement to alienated 'historical homelands'.

For example, the Sudetanland, which was an ethnic enclave within the otherwise predominantly Slavic-speaking republic of Czechoslovakia?

Or Poland, which was 'stolen' from Russia and anyway had 'no right to exist' according to one viewpoint at the time?


Lessons, pieces and empires.

Gordon Prather - Lessons Learned - Or Not.

A reminder:

On March 5, 1970, the United States became a party
to the Treaty on
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
, which declared, in Article IV, that

"Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in
contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations
to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to
the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of
the world."

On May 15, 1974, Iran entered into a Safeguards
with the International Atomic Energy Agency – to remain in force
as long as Iran remained a party to the NPT – wherein all Iranian "source
or special fissionable materials" and activities involving them were to be made
subject to IAEA Safeguards "with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy
from peaceful purposes."

The NPT explicitly states that

"The safeguards required by this article shall be implemented in a
manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering
the economic or technological development of the Parties or international cooperation
in the field of peaceful nuclear activities – including the international exchange
of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear
material for peaceful purposes – in accordance with the provisions of this article
and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty."

So, in 1976, pursuant to its NPT commitments, the Ford-Cheney Administration
"endorsed" Iranian ambitious plans to develop a massive nuclear energy
industry, all subject – of course – to IAEA Safeguards.

But then Iran got rod of the Shah ... 

An interview with P W Singer -  Privatizing Terror, Outsourcing Diplomacy.

Stephen Zunes on partitioning Iraq.

A review of James Petras'  Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - Challenging America's Ambitions in Eurasia.


Down On The Corner, Out In The Street

Angela Ryan

Hi Paul, I humbly  apologise.

Naturally persons like you and Jay and Mike would be particularly offended by my comment but I had not meant it personally but more as a collective tendency.

Given I do not hold a belief in nationality; certainly not in the current idea of nation's, there is certainly not anything about this particular subject that should make you feel a personal apology is necessary. How others feel about this matter is something you would have to ask them.

I should have carefully preambled such  but am busy with deadlines and holidays so it came out how I did not mean it to.You are no more racist and sexist and homophobic than Aussies.

This will always be the problem with making hasty generalisations, based on personal traits, such as nationality. There will always be the exception to the rule - not even taking in to consideration; the rule in this case, is based upon a slippery slope argument.

Perhaps I am wrong in my  statement , it was merely a perception. Might you have some  wonderful data to prove Americans are not racist, sexist and anti gay generally I would appreciate it.

My perception is that both your perception, and statement, on this issue are highly doubtful. I do not currently have any data to share about this subject: and I don't feel there is a need for me to find any. My own perception is though, that a racist or sexist could be found on every busy American street. Equally a racist or sexist could be found on every busy street in the world. It is your role to prove that Americans are an exception (as to warrant stand alone post) to this generally accepted rule. That is of course if you are interested in making your perception anything more than a personal perception being shared.

Anyhow; my post had more to do with easily stated, and offensive, flimsy evidence based generalisations, more than anything else. The data I supplied was in fact a chart grading the world's top 500 Universities. This was for the aid of another poster who had made one particular claim (amongst others) about all Americans standard of education. Obviously the chart proves that particular generalisation to be completely baseless. As such the generalisation if stated again without evidence contradicting that chart (rebuttal) would no longer be a basic generalisation: it would be a race orientated slur.

Weekend reading.

On incompetence - Gen. Sanchez takes aim at political leadership.

“There has been a glaring, unfortunate
display of incompetence in strategic leadership among our national
leaders,” Sanchez said. “They have unquestionably been derelict in the
performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders
would be immediately relieved or court-martialed.”

Sanchez did not criticize Bush by name, he left little doubt that he
placed most of the blame on the administration’s top leadership,
particularly the National Security Council which is led by the
President and which was under the day-to-day direction of Condoleezza
Rice until her elevation to Secretary of State in 2005.

No revelation to many.

US/Russia missile defence talks fail.

Religion and foreign policy.

Pepe Escobar - General Petraeus in his labyrinth.

Another goose and gander piece.

Glenn Greenwald on what's left.

Part 2 Deregulation: Global war on Labor of Henry C K Liu - Super Capitalism, Super Imperialism.

And now for a bit of fun:

What if the US discovers diplomacy?

And on Al Gore sharing the Nobel Peace Prize.

Enjoy the reading, enjoy the weekend.

to commit genocide?

John Pratt says:

Eliot Ramsey, yes, I believe when nations get into border disputes, the proper place to determine borders, is the United Nations.

Then is it appropriate in your view to support a political movement which calls for the 'obliteration' of a UN member state, or to call for deliberate extermination of a UN member state's people according to their religious and cultural identity?

You brought up the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee resolution acknowledging the historical reality of the Armenian Holocaust and I refered you to Raphael Lemkin who drafted the UN resolution on Genocide.

His actually coined the term 'genocide' in response to the Armenian Holocaust.

Would it be morally credible for anyone supporting the UN, and calling on its member states to abide by UN resolutions, to then support either a regime or a political movement openly expressing its intention to 'obliterate' a UN member state or to commit genocide?

Dispute resolution in United Nations not on the battlefield.

Eliot, I don't know where you get the idea I support any political regime. I support the United Nations, and hope that one day the place to resolve international disputes will be the UN not the battlefield.

Direct appeal?

Joe Conason looks at Wes Clark's new memoir ... and reminds us of a document that was waved at Clark all those years ago:

In "A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country," published by
Palgrave Macmillan last month, the former four-star general recalls two
visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September
2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a "senior general" told him, "We're going to attack Iraq. The decision has basically been made."

Six weeks later, Clark returned to Washington to see the same
general and inquired whether the plan to strike Iraq was still under
consideration. The general's response was stunning:

"'Oh, it's worse than that,' he said, holding up a memo on his desk.
'Here's the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then
Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We're going to take out seven
countries in five years.' And he named them, starting with Iraq and
Syria and ending with Iran."

A change in a main contender? 

The question has been posed - Will the military say to to an Iran attack? Why not a direct appeal? 

10/11/07 "The
" -- --
Sometimes history--and necessity--make strange bedfellows. The
German general staff transported Lenin to Russia to lead a
revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played godfather to the
birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally strange--but
perhaps equally necessary--is the addressee of a
new appeal
signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many
other leaders of the American peace movement:

Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military Personnel: Do not
attack Iran."

The initiative responds to the
growing calls for an attack on Iran from the likes of Norman
Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the reports of growing war
momentum in Washington by reporters like

Seymour Hersh
of The New Yorker and

Joe Klein
of Time. International lawyer Scott Horton
says European diplomats at the recent United Nations General
Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the United States
will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur within
the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of
conflict at 70 percent.

The initiative also responds to
the recent failure of Congress to pass legislation requiring its
approval before an attack on Iran and the hawk-driven resolution
encouraging the President to act against the Iranian military.
Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive Democrats of Los
Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told The

If we thought
that our lawmakers would restrain the Bush Administration from
further endangering Americans and the rest of the world, we
would concentrate solely on them. If we went to Las Vegas today,
would we find anyone willing to bet on this Congress restraining
Bush? I don't think so.

Because our
soldiers know the horrors of war--severed limbs, blindness,
brain injury--they are loath to romanticize the battlefield or
glorify expansion of the Iraq genocide that has left a million
Iraqis dead and millions others exiled.

Some examples of military objections:

There have been many other hints
of military disaffection from plans to attack Iran--indeed,
military resistance may help explain why, despite years of
rumors about Bush Administration intentions, such an attack has
not yet occurred. A Pentagon consultant told Hersh more than a
year ago, "There is a war about the war going on inside the
building." Hersh also reported that Gen. Peter Pace had forced
Bush and Cheney to remove the "nuclear option" from the plans
for possible conflict with Iran--in the Pentagon it was known as
the April Revolution.

In December, according to
Time correspondent Joe Klein, President Bush met with the
Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure room known as The Tank. The
President was told that "the U.S. could launch a devastating air
attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian
air force, the command and control structure and some of the
more obvious nuclear facilities." But the Joint Chiefs were
"unanimously opposed to taking that course of action," both
because it might not eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and
because Iran could respond devastatingly in Iraq--and in the
United States.

In an article published by Inter
Press Service, historian and national security policy analyst
Gareth Porter reported that Adm. William Fallon, Bush's
then-nominee to head the Central Command (Centcom), sent the
Defense Department a strongly worded message earlier this year
opposing the plan to send a third carrier strike group into the
Persian Gulf. In another Inter Press analysis, Porter quotes
someone who met with Fallon saying an attack on Iran "will not
happen on my watch." He added, "You know what choices I have.
I'm a professional.... There are several of us trying to put the
crazies back in the box."

One can hope they succeed and nail the lid of the box down very firmly.

More on Turkey and the Kurds:

The Independent

The Asia Times

Has the Commander been talking about bringing stability to the region? Bushspeak from a planet far, far from reality.

Margo, I'll keep putting material up for consideration. And I note your Howardspeak elsewhere. I agree with your analysis. As to Bushspeak - we can but try to guess what the Commander has merged with.






With friends like these ...

Achieving the impossible? 

when you thought things could not get any worse in Iraq,
Turkey's prime minister announces that he has authorised a
possible cross-border military operation against Kurdish
guerrillas there.

Just when you thought
things could not get any worse in Iraq, Turkey's
prime minister

that he has authorised a possible
cross-border military operation against Kurdish
guerrillas there.

Adding to the strain

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee House
approved Wednseday a resolution recognizing the 1915 massacres of
Armenians as a genocide, brushing aside opposition from President
George W. Bush and Turkey.

On the matter of the genocide - some coverage from the period. Once helped each other out, but now ...

William S Lind - The Iraq Mirage.

Blackwater to be sued - DemocracyNow! covers the issue and more.

Tom Engelhardt presents Nick Turse Slum Wars - a long future of warfare ahead.

Henry C K Liu - Super Capitalism, Super Imperialism, Part 1: A Structural Link.

Part 2 when available.

Margo: Thanks Bob!


John Pratt says:.

"Alan Curran, I can't see where I have changed my mind. I have called for the withdrawal of Australian Forces from the Middle East and for Israel to accept the borders as determined  by  the United Nations."

Should Hamas and Iran accept the borders for Israel as determined  by  the United Nations?

The United Nations is the proper place to determine borders.

Eliot Ramsey, yes, I believe when nations get into border disputes, the proper place to determine borders, is the United Nations.

No longer can we tolerate the demands of Israel.

John Pratt says:

 No longer can we tolerate the demands of Israel.

But it's okay to tolerate the demands of Hamas?

These, according to the Hamas Charter, include the "obliteration" of Israel and a call to muslims to kill jews wherever they find them (Article 7)?

Now, what was it you were saying about 'genocide', John?

The killing fields. Charity starts at home

John Pratt says:

If the killing of over a million, men, women and children is not genocide I don't know what is. Would we deny the Jewish genocide , if it was to effect our relationship with Germany?

In fact, it was the Armenian killings which resulted in the word 'genocide' being coined in the first place.

Law professor Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term "genocide" in 1943.

Forty of the US States have adopted formal resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as a bona fide historical event.

I agree completely that every reasonable effort should be made to document the Armenian genocide and educated the world about it, and also to pressure the Turkish government into acknowledging it.

I'm not so sure that that's an appropriate role for the US Congress, however, though it should be noted that it was the American government of Woodrow Wilson's time which did much to bring the Armenian genocide to the attention of the world.

The first film about the Armenian Genocide appeared in 1919, a Hollywood production entitled Ravished Armenia.

Several eyewitness accounts of the events were published, notably those of Swedish missionary Alma Johansson and U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

In any case, it is worth noting that Turkey is seeking entry to the EU.

Is there any move on the part of the EU to demand that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian genocide before gaining admission as a EU member?

Should Congress also require Australia to acknowledge the systematic murder of tens of thousands of Aborigines as genocide?

Should the Turkish parliament pass a resolution condemning Australian, Canadian and American policy regarding the massacre of our Indigenous population?

Also, should Cuba formally acknowledge the genocide of the Carib and Tainos peoples of that country?

Anyone got a view?

"It was the best of times ..."

To paraphrase - "It was the end of times."


fantasies have long transfixed the human race. Yet today a much rarer
fantasy has become popular in the United States. Millions of Americans,
the richest people in history, have a death wish. They are the new
“Armageddonites,” fundamentalist evangelicals who have moved from
forecasting Armageddon to actually trying to bring it about.

Most journalists find it difficult to take seriously that tens of
millions of Americans, filled with fantasies of revenge and
empowerment, long to leave a world they despise. These Armageddonites
believe that they alone will get a quick, free pass when they are
“raptured” to paradise, no good deeds necessary, not even a day of
judgment. Ironically, they share this utopian fantasy with a group that
they often castigate, namely fundamentalist Muslims who believe that
dying in battle also means direct access to Heaven. For the
Armageddonites, however, there are no waiting virgins, but they do
agree with Muslims that there will be “no booze, no bars,” in the words
of a popular Gaither Singers song.

These end-timers have great influence over the U.S. government’s
foreign policy. They are thick with the Republican leadership. At a
recent conference in Washington, congressional leader Roy Blunt, for
example, has said that his work is "part of God's plan." At the same meeting, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay glorified “end times” and promoted attacking Iran. Indeed the Bush administration often consults with them on Mideast policies. The organizer of the conference, Rev. John Hagee, is often welcomed at the White House, although his ratings are among the lowest on integrity and transparency by Ministry Watch,
which rates religious broadcasters. He raises millions of dollars from
his campaign supporting Israeli settlements on the West Bank, including much for himself. Erstwhile presidential candidate Gary Bauer is on his Board of Directors. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also both expressed strong end-times beliefs.

American fundamentalists strongly supported the decision to invade
Iraq in 2003. They consistently support Israel’s hard-line policies.
And they are beating the drums for war against Iran. Thanks to these
end-timers, American foreign policy has turned much of the world
against us, including most Muslims, nearly a quarter of the human race.



Read on and ponder the question "Are they crazy enough?"

Meanwhile, Putin's view on Iran's nuclear program


 Moscow - President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday there is no proof Iran is
seeking to build nuclear weapons, but emphasized that Tehran must be encouraged
to make its nuclear program fully transparent.

    "We are sharing our partners' concern about making all Iranian programs
transparent," Putin said at a news conference after talks with visiting
French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "We agreed yesterday, and the president
confirmed it, that Iran is making certain steps toward the international community
to achieve that."

Might make sense to those not in a rush to meet their Maker.

Jimmy Carter and US torture - and a question that by now surely does not need to be asked. Transcript and short video. 

Former president Jimmy Carter isn't just suspicious that the US is
using torture to extract intelligence from detainees -- he's absolutely

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if, by Carter's definition of the word,
the United States had used torture during the Bush administration, the
Nobel Peace Prize winner was adamant:

"I don't think it, I know it," he said. "Certainly."

Here's the question:

Pressed by Blitzer on whether that meant that President Bush was lying, Carter was equally clear.

"The president is self-def[i]ning what we have done and authorized in the torture of prisoners," said Carter."Yes."

"Self-defining". Not presidential to say "He's lying his tits off."

 Col. Douglas MacGregor (Ret.) - Circling the Wagons.

The human and material cost of America's
occupation of Iraq is reaching a climax. The ongoing "surge"
of ground combat troops into Baghdad and its surroundings is
producing higher U.S. casualties, exacerbating intersectarian
violence and draining the last reserves of American patience.

Like the French Army in Algeria
and the British Army in Ireland, the generals in Baghdad are
discovering that soldiers and Marines in Iraq control only what
they stand on, and when they no longer stand on it, they don't
control it. Meanwhile, the Army grinds itself to pieces while
the national military leadership stands by watching, clinging
to the promise of more troops for a larger ground force in the
future--a promise that is irrelevant to the challenge we now
face: getting out of Iraq.

Like so many tragic events
in human history, the occupation of Iraq could have been avoided
if military and political leaders in Washington had recognized
the tectonic shift in international relations created by decolonization
after World War II. This shift made any occupation, with the
exception of very brief American or European military triumphs
over non-Europeans, especially Muslim Arabs, impossible. But
the decision to occupy and govern Iraq with American military
power was driven by ideology, not strategy. And, when ideology
masquerades as strategy, disaster is inevitable.

Glenn Greenwald has a piece on those who claim "We are winning"

Stephen Zunes on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war resolution

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Congressional vote
granting President George W. Bush unprecedented war-making authority to
invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing. Had a
majority of either the Republican-controlled House or the
Democratic-controlled Senate voted against the resolution or had they
passed an alternative resolution conditioning such authority on an
authorization from the United Nations Security Council, all the tragic
events that have unfolded as a consequence of the March 2003 invasion
would have never occurred. As a result, the responsibility for the
deaths of nearly 4000 American soldiers, the deaths of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi civilians, the waste of over a half trillion dollars
of our national treasury, and the rise of terrorism and Islamist
extremism that has come as a result of the invasion and occupation of
Iraq rests as much in the hands of the members in Congress who
authorized the invasion as it does with the administration that
requested it.

Those who express surprise at the refusal of today’s Democratic
majority in Congress to stop funding the war should remember this: the
October 2002 resolution authorizing the invasion had the support of the
majority of Democratic senators as well as the support of the
Democratic Party leadership in both the House and the Senate.

Seven of the 77 senators who voted to authorize the invasion - Fred
Thompson (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Hillary
Clinton (D-NY), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Joseph Biden (D-DE), and John
Edwards (D-NC) are now running for president. While the Republicans
candidates remain unapologetic, the Democratic candidates have sought
to distance themselves from their vote, arguing that what is important
in choosing a president is not how they voted in the past, but what
s/he would do now.

Such efforts to avoid responsibility should be rejected out of hand.
While I personally support a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq
as soon as logistically feasible, there is considerable debate among
knowledgeable, ethical, and intelligent people - including those who
also opposed the invasion - as to what to do now. No reasonable person,
however, could have supported the resolution authorizing the invasion
five years ago.

Enough to get one down. So a change of pace - Al Gore is favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize.  There is no truth in the rumour that the Commander has threatened to bomb Stockholm of they don't give it to him instead.





World's richest country???

Here is a list of the 10 richest countries in the world per capita, from Nationmaster.com. You can see that the USA comes in at no. 7, not no. 1.

1   Luxembourg: $66,463.78 per capita  
#2   Norway: $54,467.23 per capita  
#3   Switzerland: $47,999.07 per capita  
#4   Ireland: $45,707.17 per capita  
#5   Denmark: $44,742.82 per capita  
#6   Iceland: $41,720.45 per capita  
#7   United States: $39,452.74 per capita  
#8   Sweden: $38,480.78 per capita  
#9   Japan: $36,285.57 per capita  
#10   Finland: $35,726.02 per capita  

Sometimes the truth is more important than relationships.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution late this afternoon that designates the killing of more than a million Armenians during World War I as genocide, despite warnings from the Bush administration that its passage could seriously jeopardise the delicate relationship with Turkey.

If the killing of over a million, men, women and children is not genocide I don't know what is. Would we deny the Jewish genocide ,if it was to effect our relationship with Germany?

EVERYONE wants to see

EVERYONE wants to see "peace" between Israel and the Arabs. It has now dawned on most people that the terrorist attacks on America and Europe, the al-Qaeda rhetoric about the suffering of fellow Muslims, and the instability in the Middle East are connected with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict................

All these manoeuvrings are ostensibly about solving the conflict. But in reality, they substitute process for substance. Finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the problem. The parameters have been clear for decades: Israel's withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territories, the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return of refugees. These are also the components of the 2002 Saudi plan and offer Israel full normalisation of relations with the Arab states in exchange.

The plan is in line with international law and has the support of the Western powers. Yet it has no chance of succeeding, nor has any other peace proposal not to Israel's liking.

As the wars in the Middle East continue to kill and maim it is time for the  West to support the peace process with vigour. No longer can we tolerate the demands of Israel. Too many people have suffered already we must resolve this issue. 

Caught in the crossfire.

There is not a serious military analyst in the world who does not believe Musharraf's military has co-operated in recent months with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Most military analysts believe it will be impossible to finally defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan while they continue to have havens and logistical and other support in Pakistan. This is an acute and urgent matter for Australia, because our soldiers are risking their lives daily in Afghanistan.

I can understand the need for a mealy-mouthed response to Musharraf's countless crimes and deceptions because he may be less awful than the alternative. But when our soldiers are dying on a battlefield made infinitely more dangerous by Musharraf's deceptions, the case for the mealy-mouthed response becomes much weaker.

While the Taliban gets support from  Pakistan and Iran, we cannot win the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. The longer we have troops in the danger zones, we will likely suffer more casualties, and we risk war with Iran and Pakistan.  It is time we had a serious rethink of our Middle East policies, it may be wiser to withdraw and let the forces in the Middle East resolve the issues in their own way.

Caught in the crossfire

John Pratt, It seems as though it has taken you just over an hour to change your mind. First you say

"It is time we had a serious rethink of our Middle East policies, it may be wiser to withdraw and let the forces in the Middle East resolve the issues in their own way".

Then you say

"No longer can we tolerate the demands of Israel. Too many people have suffered already we must resolve this issue".

You would make a great Labor Foreign Minister, as it looks as though McClelland has lost the job you could apply as a star recruit. Just let Israel solve the problem in their own way, as you have seen it is not possible to talk to the Palestinians. As we have seen they cannot even talk amongst themselves, especially with sound of their suicide bombs ringing in their ears. I suggest you worry about the big issues that will face this country should Rudd win the next election. How are you going to explain to your grandchildren that there are no jobs for them, unless they are a Union Official. As their house is repossesed because of the huge jump in interest rates, which will happen under Rudd, you could explain to them "yes but we got rid of Howard so that you could have these things".

Alan Curran, I can't see

Alan Curran, I can't see where I have changed my mind. I have called for the withdrawal of Australian Forces from the Middle East and for Israel to accept the borders as determined  by  the United Nations. Seems logical to me. I am not sure why we take sides in these very complex issues.

Speaking of my grandchildren, I am not sure how I would be able to explain to them, that I sat on my butt and let Howard and his mates ignore the effects of climate change. The future is under more threat from climate change and  international  conflicts than  it is from unions, can you imagine the world if there had been no unions? I am trying to keep housing affordability  possible for my grandchildren. The first step is to get rid of the Howard Government.

Can't see

John Pratt, If you are waiting for Rudd to do something about "housing affordability" you will be waiting a long time, maybe he will buy your grandchildren a nice little $5 million beach house. The country will be brought to it's knees by Burrows and Co. long before the sea is lapping at your front door due to climate change. Why do you think Rudd is going to buy a house by the beach.

A worthy piece.

Andrew, it is good to see you drop by and with such a worthy piece to offer. The great game, the world as a chess board ... but when a main player seems to have trouble telling one piece from another and the game keeps changing and empires come and go. New players  enter the game and there are new approaches yet some hold tightly to the old - the final paragraph of the article captures this so well.

"The sheer venality...", yes indeed. And was that spoof I linked that far wrong? There's a worrying mentality at work and there is a need for new approaches to meet the challenges we face.

Time's a wasting.

Wow, she might be a Muslim Female

...and your points are? 

Bob, I just read an excellent article in Le Monde Diplomatique arguing that the Iraq adventure was a step too far in the great game that the US (and Britain to a far lesser extent) have been playing for the past 60 years.  I've always felt that the sheer venality of the Bush/Cheney cabal would be their undoing and it seems that some fairly important players are now worried about the same thing.

From the opening:

The disastrous outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused a crisis in the power elite of the United States deeper than that resulting from defeat in Vietnam 30 years ago. Ironically, it is the very coalition of ultra-nationalists and neo-conservatives that coalesced in the 1970s, seeking to reverse the Vietnam syndrome, restore US power and revive “the will to victory”, that has caused the present crisis.

There has been no sustained popular mass protest as there was during the Vietnam war, probably because of the underclass sociology of the US’s volunteer army and the fact that the war is being funded by foreign financial flows (although no one knows how long that can continue). However, at the elite level the war has fractured the national security establishment that has run the US for six decades. The unprecedented public critique in 2006 by several retired senior officers over the conduct of the war (1), plus recurrent signs of dissent in the intelligence agencies and the State Department, reflects a much wider trend in elite opinion and key state institutions.

Not all critics are as forthright as retired General William Odom, who tirelessly repeats that the invasion of Iraq was the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history” (2), or Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, who denounced a “blunder of historic proportions” and has recently suggested impeaching the president (3), or former National Security Council head Zbigniew Brzezinski who called the war and occupation a “historic, strategic and moral calamity” (4).

Most public critiques from within the institutions of state focus on the way the war and occupation have been mismanaged rather than the more fundamental issue of the invasion itself. Yet discord is wide and deep: government departments are trading blame, accusing each other of the “loss of Iraq” (5). In private, former senior officials express incandescent anger, denounce shadowy cabals and have deep contempt for the White House. A former official of the National Security Council compared the president and his staff to the Corleone mafia family in The Godfather. A senior foreign policy expert said: “Due to an incompetent, arrogant and corrupt clique we are about to lose our hegemonic position in the Middle East and Gulf.” “The White House has broken the army and trampled its honour,” added a Republican senator and former Vietnam veteran.

building along the sidelines

Hi Eliot, didn't you read the article you linked? Irrefutable evidence was the direct quote from that. Wasn't that the argument you were supporting by linking it?  

I sure hope you are right about the attack upon Iran. Did you correctly predict the Iraq attack by the US?

After full analysis at the time suggesting/showing clearly that the peace would be a problem, occupation would be a disaster, the Sunni influence would be replaced by Shhite/Iran , the risk of destabilisation of the region would be increased, massive civilian suffering as a result, uncertain neighbour and ally responses, increase of Sunni alqaida terrorism, Kurdish region unrest with issues in Turkey and Syria and Iran, direct risk to Israel ...and oil prices. What were they before the Iraq invasion, just remind me? Worry that the price might reach $25 a barrel?

I just didn't think such would make it worth it in the total equation, but then, we have that now to factor into the Iran attack equation. That what is good for the US people  or the region is not necessarily what will happen.

As always with any crime - who benefits, who had opportunity, who had means? In such one has to also add who pays the cost? As it is the US people financially and local Iraqi people there is not much problem for the MIC etal.  

And as Andrew has linked that excellent article, as so often the non US-sphere are, there has been no accounting for the Iraq invasion,the illegality of it, the deception and deliberate fraud and the conspiracy for it. All are major crimes. Add to this the torture scandal and use of excessive force /inhumane weapons which guarantees to make the mission of peaceful subjugation impossible, one wonders what the real aim is, as does Putin. 

His press conferences are not well reported in our "disciplined media"- see



85 percent proof

Angela Ryan says:

Eliot’s “irrefutable evidence “ (now where have i heard that from before?) that Iran government is supplying weaponry to Taliban.

When have I ever purported to offer “irrefutable evidence" of anything?

It's not like I'm pretending to be 85 per cent certain, even. Is it?

Margo: Eliot, you're forgetting your colons again. 

Fools rush in

Angela Ryan says:

Firstly Eliot, do you have a prediction as to whether Iran will be attacked?


This is interesting though....

"Last week, Turkish officials traveled to Damascus to present the Syrian government with the Israeli dossier on what was believed to be a Syrian nuclear program, according to a Middle East security analyst in Washington. The analyst said that Syrian officials vigorously denied the intelligence and said that what the Israelis hit was a storage depot for strategic missiles."

A perfectly legitimate target given the two countries have been at war for over thirty years.

The American Mosque

Paul Morrella says:

"On that chart people may have noticed the number one University world-wide is Harvard. Yep, you guessed it the Harvard President is female."

She's not a Muslim by any chance, is she? I mean, there's a greater chance than ever that she is:

Islam in America is wider, deeper and more diverse than ever in its history, and Muslims are poised to bring their faith, politics and culture into the mainstream of national life, according to a new, comprehensive study, "The Mosque in America: A National Portrait."

The Society Of Hate

Eliot Ramsey, Ah yes, gross generalizations...........

On that chart people may have noticed the number one University world-wide is Harvard. Yep, you guessed it the Harvard President is female.


And come to think of it, Paul, another thing the pan-German, ultra-right was prone to do was 'explain' contemporary events with reference to long lists of historical 'wrongs' done to them going back decades and centuries.

These formed a vast repertory of paranoid 'hurts' which were held in reserve and trundled out when needed to justify whichever current outrage they were planning.

Root causes and a mind set.

Scott Ritter has a good article on the root causes of friction between the US and Iran.

Yet more members of the crazy gang

Jason Miller on the mind set of Bush supporters

Paul W Schroeder on ending the Iraq war

That might not suit some, including those who seem intent on starting another war. 

The Oliver North syndrome

Paul Morrella, hi.

The political significance of hysterical ethnic generalisations continually directed at a single people are best understood in terms of an observation made by a prominent mid-century statesman, as follows:

"...one should, on purely psychological grounds, never show the masses two or more opponents, since this leads to the total disintegration of their fighting power."

- Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, p117

Trevor Kerr asks:

"But how would they know if, in fact, there ever was a workshop making EFPs, after all the evidence has been destroyed? "

Seeing as the largest ex-pat Persian population in the world is in Los Angeles, they'd probably know almost as soon as, if not sooner than, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself.

That was the real significane of Irangate

The Dumb American

Angela Ryan

I wonder why the Dems are wasting so much time with lame ducks in such a racist sexist society. Talk to them, they talk the talk but would never vote for a black or a woman for President, especially the more, ahem, bible Belt/type education level areas.

You really gotta to love a comment such as this. Nearly as good as the fella calling all American's; obese, dumb, slothful idiots.  http://www.arwu.org/rank/2005/ARWU2005_Top100.htm.

apologise Paul

Hi Paul, I humbly  apologise.

Naturally persons like you and Jay and Mike would be particularly offended by my comment but I had not meant it personally but more as a collective tendency.

I should have carefully preambled such  but am busy with deadlines and holidays so it came out how I did not mean it to.You are no more racist and sexist and homophobic than Aussies.

Perhaps I am wrong in my  statement , it was merely a perception. Might you have some  wonderful data to prove Americans are not racist, sexist and anti gay generally I would appreciate it. For the record I think most societies are tribal in nature and unite when under threat. Thus in times of relaxing plenty there is little to stop trust developing and skin colour or religion to become unimportant in issues of support, loyalty and friendship. But I suspect in the coming economic crash and wars without end these are not the times. Unless we get that hurricane I mentioned a while ago.

It's good to share knowledge, isn't it?

Angela Ryan asks:

Would you have a credible link to these assertions?

Yes, of course.

Here's an item reported by UPI quoting Professor Seth G. Jones, an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

His observations relate to signs that Iran may have shipped some arms and other materials to the Taliban via the Quds Force.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a former member of, and is closely politically allied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps resulting in them becoming one of the most powerful political forces inside Iran.

Now, do you have any evidence of an 85 per cent probability of an Israeli or US "attack" on Iran within the next six months? Or is it just a hunch?

And what scale or form would the attack take, do you think?

on Crystal balls, propaganda to wage war on Iran,and warwhores

Eliot’s “irrefutable evidence “ (now where have i heard that from before?) that Iran government is supplying weaponry to Taliban.

Firstly Eliot, do you have a prediction as to whether Iran will be attacked? I have given you mine and reasons for other things you have discussed and will further add a bit more about our discussions but I do notice that you have not given a prediction.

Do you not wish to?  Perfectly fine.  All the same I would be interested as I do respect your opinion as a well read and educated person. The world is full of many different ideas of how the world should be and should be run and it is through civilized discussion that such ideas can be shared and developed. You do not have to agree with me, nor I with your persuasion.

As to the statements you made about the alleged IED event that resulted in the horrible killing and wounding of two Aussies 6km out returning from “reconnaissance” in an unstable area, to a rather strange surreal place in Afghanistan, a former Taliban centre, a town of 10000, 2000 of whom are apparently Arabs.

You will notice there is presently a major offensive in Afghanistan on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border due to a Taliban – Pakistan peace negotiated earlier being wrecked.  There are also repeated sorties and bombings right where our lads are, building the rather ridiculous hospital, although it is good for oil workers in the future.

If it was an IED, and even here at this first point there are a number of possibilities, it is reassuring to see the military are not as Propagandist as our leadership in spinning the death of a soldier for their aims to start another war. It would be interesting to know where the ABC reports, the bylines came from, who wrote and authorised them. Are we already on war footing editorial? Truth such an early victim. So sad, RIP ABC credibility, along with the BBC.

Just today in the SMH:

“The head of a special Australian counter-IED taskforce established last year, Brigadier Phil Winter, told the Herald yesterday that no evidence had been uncovered at the site where Trooper Pearce died to support the theory of an Iranian-style bomb.

"This is not an explosively formed projectile, " Brigadier Winter said.

Reports from the scene indicated that the device was not deadly because it was sophisticated, but because it contained a large amount of explosive, possibly about seven kilograms.

"Subject to final investigation by field commanders, it would appear that the victim has driven over it and initiated the circuit," Brigadier Winter said. It was likely to have used a so-called "legacy munition" such as an anti-tank mine which could date back as far as the late 1970s and '80s when Soviet forces were fighting Islamic insurgents.

And actually that is exactly the kind of analysis that most come to about the source of armaments the Taliban/druglords are using.  Here is an article from June 2007 about a wee (David C: don’t know what happened here Angela – this sentence ended in space). 

But in every News radio broadcast about his death that morning and the senior members of our government were already talking of Iranian weaponry and Eliot was sure it was from the Iranian military.

After all, rand corporation Dr Seth Jones said so. Or did he? Is the Rand corporation a good source for reliable unbiased information? Perhaps one would be a little careful in their selection of articles to publish considering the persons on their board/advisory and funding.

Now what did Dr Jones write?

What was his full message?  He quotes a small number of persons who  claim Iran is supplying weaponry, including Gates, Burns and General Dan McNeil. Admittedly it is a commentary from July 4 so one must not be too hard about sources and following up the comments. However as Eliot has linked this as his evidence, one must see what evidence there is in the commentary. Are the claims proven? Does he himself consider them not only proven but significant? Are there counter claims of credibility?

He claims that on June 14th, Burns and Gates both made the claims, in the following way: ” U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on June 14 that the flow of weapons from Iran to the Taliban has reached such large quantities that it is difficult to believe it is taking place without the Iranian government's knowledge. U. S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns went even further, saying that there is "irrefutable evidence" that the shipments were "coming from the government of Iran."

“Irrefutable evidence”. One of those great propaganda lines well used in the Iraq war lies by the government propagandists then. Perhaps that was a clue.

The Huffington post, undependent news until just last week when it changed ownership, ran a rebuttal article that rather crushed Mr Burns’ comments, just two days after them on June 16th.. Did Dr Jones, that esteemed commentator, not see it? Or does he pick and chose his quotes as needed?  .

The huffington post article begins:

“..When Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns declared in Paris this week that there was "irrefutable evidence" that Iran was arming the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, he was unwittingly echoing a previous categorical statement that was aimed at priming public opinion for war.

On September 20, 2002, Dick Cheney said, "We now have irrefutable evidence that [Saddam] has once again set up and reconstituted his program to take uranium, to enrich it to sufficiently high grade, so that it will function as the base material as a nuclear weapon...".

It continues as it describes the Psychops and propaganda that has continued with compliant meida and commentators help:.

“..The practice of manipulating the media to promote a policy line didn't stop with the Iraq debacle. It has been going on for over five years in regard to Iran. The master message has been that Iran is "harboring al Qaeda", a charge based on nothing more than the fact that there have been some al Qaeda figures hiding out somewhere in Iran after fleeing from Afghanistan in 2001-2002. Based on the same primitive logic, the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were able to function freely for many months in the United States is evidence that the Bush administration "harbored" the al Qaeda terrorists…”

However he also has noticed the change in message as the nuke issue fails.

“…Since early 2007, however, the master message has been "Iran is sending weapons to those who are killing our troops", and, despite skepticism by anti-war critics, it has worked like a charm. No matter that there was never any evidence that the Iranian government was involved in the acquisition of weapons by militias. No matter that there was already evidence of private arms-buying networks and of Iraqi arms workshops providing such devices to the militias. No matter even that the New York Times reported just a few days after the anti-climactic Baghdad briefing of February 10 that Iraqi militants had been caught manufacturing the explosives that U. S. officials had just solemnly declared were not manufactured in the country…. “

Yeah, pity about that. Still mistakes printed rea never front page withdrawn are they? In the psychi of the masses. Especially when that psychi is already so full of fertilizer. And people like Eliot just didn’t read all that so his is still in the dark with the players. But this gem of a writer goes on slam dunking the lies about Iran‘s weapons:

 “..The current administration story of Iran's arming the Taliban forces in Afghanistan was far more obviously false than the story of sending arms to Shiite militias in Iraq, because Iran has been the single most consistent enemy of the Taliban since the mid-1990s.

If the Bush administration had really been interested in finding a dependable ally against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, it would have made Iran its ally - not Pakistan, whose assistance to the Taliban and providing safe haven for its militants is well documented.

In fact the whole story is part of a carefully orchestrated information strategy reminiscent of the Cheney-Rove manipulation of the media in the autumn of 2002. In an article this past week, I described a media campaign that relied on quotes from an anonymous senior administration ”official, to introduce the story that Iran is following a conscious policy of giving military assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. ..”

But what of the alleged claims of Gates and Gen dan McNeill?  Here is the dooosey for the Seth Jones article and clearly one has difficulty with the facts or there was a change in data or spin pressure between June 4th and June 14th. Only ten days and a complete revolution of these two guys’ opinions. Or someone misquoted them.

“Furthermore, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan refused to buy it, suggesting clearly that the media campaign was the work of Dick Cheney and his staff rather than an official policy.

On June 4, Gates said, flatly, "We do not have any information about whether the government of Iran is supporting this, is behind it, or whether it's smuggling, or exactly what is behind it."

Gen. Dan McNeill, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, went even further in dismissing it. In an interview with Jim Loney of Reuters on June 5, he said, "[W]hen you say weapons being provided by Iran, that would suggest there is some more formal entity involved in getting these weapons here." That's not my view at all. "..”

Yet just 10 days later while all gathered in Paris we have:.

“…On June 12 Burns told reporters, "Iran is now even transferring arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan" and the following day he claimed "irrefutable evidence" of such a policy.  "It's certainly coming from the government of Iran, " said Burns. "It's coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps command, which is a basic unit of the Iranian government."

Quite a difference.

Or was it, as the Huffington post article suggests, the influence of the Dick Cheney war cabal? Was that why Burns used such terms?

“..But the repudiation of Cheney's narrative on Iran and Taliban by Gates and McNeill did not derail it. Since those statements, Cheney has apparently managed to get a gullible president to make his line about Iranian arms to the Taliban the official policy of the United States government. That is why "irrefutable evidence" has again been applied to a story line that is so easily refuted by the facts…. “

Actually I think the end of the article has the most amusing interview.

Was there some new evidence that change the analysis or was the spin changed? Are we being lied to again? Perhaps people should consider that carefully and what it means if the Commander of Nato and a non-Cheney stooge like Burns and Gates himself are following the CheneyCabal (?) line.

Here is what the reply was when reporters asked about the new evidence. But WAIT, they were ASKED ABOUT THIS PROOF! Fantastic, now we can all see it……. ENJOY:

“… But of course there was no such "irrefutable evidence". There wasn't the slightest evidence to support Burns's categorical statements, as became clear when reporters asked State Department spokesman Sean McCormack about them. McCormack made no effort to claim that there was any new information to back up the "irrefutable evidence" claim. "I can't tell you the extent of Iranian Government involvement in that," he said. And he repeated, "I can't at this point draw a link - a hard link for you between an Iranian Government-approved program and the transfer of those arms." And again, "I can't give you the chain of evidence to indicate that.... "

When a reporter asked how we reconciled the lack of evidence with Nick Burns categorical statement of "irrefutable" evidence that the arms were coming from the IRGC, McCormack replied, astonishingly, "Again, I think what Nick was doing was giving voice to tall these concerns and suspicions that all of us have.

" …”.

Ain’t war spin great? And so easy to debunk, yet why so hard for some here at Webdiary? This single well researched article made the Rand Corporation’s hitboy Seth ‘s article out for what it was, just like the Canada piece, a propaganda warwhore action.

To be fair to Dr Jones, when one CAREFULLY reads his article there is more a skeptical flavor, never actually spoken, about the Iran weapons claims, and one cannot check his data as there appears to be no references - well it was only a commentary, and his analysis is perfectly sound at the end - it sounds to me like a reluctant deed - clearly says:.

“While Iranian support for the Taliban would be disturbing, there is a serious danger of overreaction in the United States. The Taliban receive a negligible amount of support from Iran. Inflating the Iranian role risks the further destabilization of Afghanistan and could jettison a potential avenue for U. S. -Iranian dialogue…”  After he quoted Gates et al as stating the opposite and never reconciles this properly.

In fact to be fair to Dr Jones, the emphasis of the article, when one takes out that which is not his area of expertise, is more for the US to seek rapprochement with Iran and that they are not the problem.

“..Iran is a minor player in this broad network of support. The danger with the recent hype of a Taliban-Iranian axis is that U. S. policymakers may neglect pressuring the real sources of Taliban support in Pakistan and the broader Muslim world.

Perhaps more importantly, American officials may overlook a possible area of dialogue with Iran. Iran and the United States worked closely together to create an interim Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Today, Iran and Afghanistan share a number of common interests. They have participated in joint trade, energy, investment, cultural, and scientific projects.

Iran provides significant economic assistance to Afghanistan, and political support to the Hamid Karzai government. The Iranians have also cooperated to crack down on the rising Afghan drug trade by building border posts to catch or deter narcotics smugglers.

A strong Sunni Taliban will never be in Iran's long-term interest. And an Afghanistan that further deteriorates into lawlessness could trigger a range of spill-over effects — from increased narcotics trafficking to terrorism — that would negatively impact all countries in the region, including Iran. ..”

When one reads the whole article and excludes the imposed Hype areas that are not data points, one sees he is actually saying IRAN IS NOT THE PROBLEM.

Thanks for that link Eliot.

Antiwar also has a rebuff of the claims regarding Iran.

As does ABC USA.

There is plenty out there at the moment for obvious reasons. The PR battle for war is being fought. Let us watch who the stooges are, the warwhores. We have a number here in our leadership already.

Blaming Iran for the debacle Iraq and Afghanistan has turned is the current raison d’etre for attacking Iran.

The language used is carefully crafted so as not to alarm the population and bring gout those scary protests again. Terms such as “surgical strikes”, using such propaganda terms to pretend a short sharp conflict rather than the broadly predicted huge mess attacking a fully armed nation like Iran would cause to so many in the region.  Watch who uses these terms.

Well, I guess we have Iraq and the conspirators who brought us that to trust in all this don’t we?

RIP Trapper and be damned all who dare use a death for propaganda to wage another war.


And just while we are mentioning Afghanistan, perhaps remembering the US sought international support for the Afghanistan invasion, planned for October, in the June. Facilitated by Iran and India and agreed to by Russia.

How did they predict that one? Maybe we should borrow their crystal ball, seems amazing. I reckon they didn't see everything coming, those fogs just make ya miss things. Imagine all those Madams rubbing their hands.

And We Will Have Peace In Our Time Not

Richard Tonkin

I can foresee this death being used as Aussie vindication for support of the attack on Iran that you and Paul Morella don't think will occur, but without which the governing parties of the US, UK and Australia are unlikely to survive elections.

Rather than save governments any such attack would only hasten their demise. Seriously, how popular is the current Iraq war? Another reason is it would seriously damage all economies, and the object of starting a war is winning something from any such war. The chances of that happening in Iran are slime to none, and slime just died on the operating table.

The idea of people talking up such an attack is to put fear into the average voter. Vote for us or your kids will be in a war zone, that sort of thing. The next US election by the way will be fought on economics, economics, and more economics. That is my prediction. If there is a large world-wide 2008 correction the Middle East will be the least of people's concerns eyeing off their funds. The guy or gal strongest on economics, and all that money stuff will be the next President of the United States.

Delivering the Quds

Richard Tonkin on says:

Eliot, I don't want to twist.  I'm just getting sick of senior government figures so blatantly twisting defence, intelligence and policing issues to show themselves as electably strong leaders.  It denigrates the people doing the work, especially the ones dying.

Well, take Cicero chest thumping over Carthage, for example.

Just on the Persian Empire, though, it is interesting to note that the main suspect for shipments to the Taliban from Iran is the Quds Force, a paramilitary arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main boys, no? So, they are players for sure.


iran ? Evidence? Eliot? Opinion?

Hi Eliot, I am still interested in your opinion as before. By the way, you said the following as facts – I was just wondering where that is documented:

"There are growing signs that Iran may have shipped some arms and other materials to the Taliban."

"the main suspect for shipments to the Taliban from Iran is the Quds Force, a paramilitary arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main boys, no? So, they are players for sure."

Would you have a credible link to these assertions? And Eliot, do you think there will be an attack upon Iran by Israel/US, when if so? Just an opinion is fine. I notice you are well read on the topic usually.



Angela - I don't think the argument is about supplying verifiable evidence regarding the intentions of some sections in the Iranian establishment. 

No, it's much more about deciding whether or not the ADF should be helping to rebuild Afghanistan. There, the issue is how far the Taliban will go to protect its turf.

I do not doubt the possibility that aforesaid Iranians are capable of supplying Taliban, or any other group throughout that part of the world, with tools of the trade. Roadside bombs are very effective. So, it's important to find out how the know-how is being disseminated. If they are being churned out of a thousand tinpot workshops, that's a very different matter to there being a handful of centres dedicated to advancing and promoting the technology.

ADF will be studying, very intently, that latest incident, despite Nelson's parrotting of the Bush playbook. They need to know whether the bomb was, in fact an EFP that was triggered by wire. The importance of the findings will extend to future operations, and even cause some thoughts about how far the bombs can be dispersed for use in the field.

Let's suppose there is a well equipped workshop, EFP Central, beneath about a milk factory somewhere in Iran. The makings are boxed in kits, and now with the instructions translated faithfully from the Irish or English into Arabic, Urdu and Bahasa, as well as Farsi. The transport of crates of a dozen or so kits leave the factory after dark, hidden amongst the bags of milk powder, bound for all points and under the implicit supervision and protection of well-placed units of para-military. Now, if foreign intelligence agents get onto this factory, what will they do with the information? I guess it depends, firstly, on how many units they produce per week, and whether or not this workshop is part of a network. Let's say, for fun, the Kurds are the ones who have this information. Do they pass it on to the Americans, the Israelis, or someone else? Are the Russians and Chinese concerned about the ability of extremist elements in Iran to upset the balance? We may wish the USAF is sent along to liquidate the milk factory with laser-guided missiles and bombs. But how would they know if, in fact, there ever was a workshop making EFPs, after all the evidence has been destroyed?

Getting back to the point, the essence of good workmanship is the good old quality circle. On that basis, I expect the video of the EFP knocking out the ASLAV is being viewed in a few dozen recruiting chat-rooms right now. It's a bloody business, alright. Expect it to move right along, and maybe come closer to home. Success breeds success, as Ayn Rand (or was it Dan Ryan?) used to say.

Nitty Gritty

Angela Ryan says:

"Do you really find an interest in whether I personally predict a US invasion of Iran?"

Yes, I do.

Angela Ryan says:  "Currently there is an 85% chance of attack from US/Israel in the next 6 months, and this has slightly fallen after this week's activities." 

You seem to be stating, with a certain degree of confidence, a pretty high probability, then. Even adjusting and fine tuning a bit.

What sort of 'attack' are you suggesting?

I mean, take Syria, whose 'sovreignty' was 'breached' recently 'without provocation' by a country it has been at war with for over thirty years.

Something of that order? Commando raid on a weapons research facility? Air attack on a nuclear facility?

Or something bigger?  Invasion and occupation? What do you think?

I mean, if you can specify to a percentage and time-frame, obviously you must be in touch with the facts.

Also, recently Iran's President appeared at a military parade with a huge banner saying 'Death to America' and his views on Israel are a matter of public record (despite attempts at erasing them).

Have those sorts of things been factored into your estimate of the 85 per cent probability of an attack? Within six months? Give or take a couple points here and there?

And on what scale?


Let's do the twist

Actually, Richard, if you read the statement Nelson made, he doesn't blame Iran. He says this:

The improvised explosive device that killed an Australian soldier and injured another in Afghanistan yesterday may have come into the country from Iran, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson says.

But he admitted the Australian Defence Force had no proof about the source of the device, which was detonated in a roadside bombing in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

Which is stating the bleeding obvious. There are growing signs that Iran may have shipped some arms and other materials to the Taliban.

However, it should be stated that the Taliban and Tehran haven't had a good relationship, whereas the government in Kabul does have quite a good relationship with Tehran.

Weapons have gone through Iran to Afghanistan, but the connection between Iran and the Taliban is nothing of the order of the relationship between Iran and, say, Hezbolla, which it practically owns.


Playing It Straight

I was quoting Nelson not from written text but from the 10am ABC Radio news.  As soon as I find some verification I'll put it up, but I'm sure of what I heard.

Eliot, I don't want to twist.  I'm just getting sick of senior government figures so blatantly twisting defence, intelligence and policing issues to show themselves as electably strong leaders.  It denigrates the people doing the work, especially the ones dying. 

I can foresee this death being used as Aussie vindication for support of the attack on Iran that you and Paul Morella don't think will occur, but without which the governing parties of the US, UK and Australia are unlikely to survive elections.  The Wag The Dog script appears to have returned to the autocue.

Games people play.

Paul Morrella, you have accused accused me of being selective with the following:

when people make such comments such as "a lot of his expressions of
religious faith ..." they infer that they have a basis, that is, an
awareness of those expressions.

What he actually wrote was:

I'm no fan of Bush but I also think a lot of his professions of religious faith are intended merely to placate his supporter base of southern
right wing religious dumbf**ks.

The attempt of selective quoting of
course changes the context of his point. Your attempt to quote out of
context should disqualify you from making any further argument;
however, I digress.

Yesterday I reposted Mike Lyver's post in its entirety. So your claim in that regard is wrong. I suggest you apply your own standards, as expressed above, to yourself. Perhaps you could better spend your time reading the material I provide.

David, Trevor's second link has this:

The attack will also increase fears that the Taliban are getting military help from Iran's government.

And this:

Claims that the vehicle might have been destroyed by a "shaped charge"
IED, a weapon perfected by Iraqi insurgents with Iranian help, have
been dismissed by the Ministry of Defence as speculation.

The repeating of unproven allegations is far too common in the MSM. I recently took issue with the ABC over an example in one of its news reports. You might recall the comment from a UK government adviser from a post of mine yesterday:

Mercer, who last month accepted a post as an adviser to the Brown government, said: 'All that I heard when I was in Iran was British authorities saying "be careful about what you hear from America". I'm not saying for one moment that it is necessarily wrong, but it's got to be taken with a pinch of salt. Is it American rhetoric, propaganda or fact?'

The attempt to implicate Iran in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been well documented here. The lack of a sense of irony from the main perpetrators has regularly remarked upon.


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