Tag Archives: Imperialism

Iran nuclear talks in countdown to US-imposed deadline

By Keith Jones
March 30, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Talks over Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the P-6—the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany—continued late into the night Sunday. The US is insisting that a “framework” agreement be reached by the end of Tuesday, March 31.

While the Obama administration has yet to spell out what it will do if its March 31 deadline is not met, the Republican Party leadership and a significant section of congressional Democrats have vowed to quickly impose even more punishing economic sanctions against Iran, with the aim of cutting off all Iranian oil exports.

Under existing US and European Union sanctions, Iran’s oil exports have been halved since 2011 and the country has been largely frozen out of the world financial system.

Over the weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry was joined at the talks, which are being held in Lausanne, Switzerland, by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

In their public statements, officials from the US and its EU allies, as well those from Iran, have indicated that some progress has been made toward reaching an agreement since negotiations resumed last Thursday. However, each side insists that the other must still make major concessions if a deal is to be reached.

“Everything could still fall apart,” an unnamed Western official told Reuters Sunday. On arriving in Lausanne Saturday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made an analogy between the talk’s precarious state and the scaling of a Swiss mountain peak, saying the “final meters” are “the most difficult” and “decisive.”

One development indicating that Iran and the P-6 are moving closer to an agreement was the hysterical reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears that an Iranian-US rapprochement would undercut Israel’s role as Washington’s principal Mideast ally. Over the weekend, Netanyahu said that the nuclear agreement that “appears to be emerging” confirmed “all our fears, and even more than that.” He charged Iran with “carrying out a pincer movement from the south to take over and occupy the entire Middle East.” He added that the “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity and it must be stopped.”

According to some press reports, Iran has made significant concessions in recent days. These are said to include: accepting that Iran’s nuclear program will have to function under rules more restrictive than those faced by any other signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for at least 15 years; agreeing to reduce the number of centrifuges enriching uranium for use in its civilian nuclear facilities to under 6,000 (less than a third of its current capacity); and shipping most of its existing stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia.

The most contentious issues are reportedly the extent to which Iran will be able to continue nuclear research and development, including perfecting a new type of centrifuge that can enrich uranium at a much faster rate, and when and how the sanctions will be lifted.

Iran has repeatedly indicated that the sanctions—among the most crippling ever imposed on a country outside of wartime—are a make-or-break issue.

In an address marking the Iranian New Year (March 21), Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, insisted on “the removal of sanctions without any delay when an agreement is made.” He specifically denounced Washington for seeking to make the sanctions’ removal, many years hence, conditional on Tehran passing a series of US-designed tests. Said Khamenei, “What the Americans repeat, ‘We’ll sign the contract with Iran, then we’ll see if they act upon the contract, then we’ll remove the sanctions’—this is wrong and unacceptable.”

Washington is determined to keep much of the sanctions in place for years to come. And, just as importantly, it wants the sanctions—including those imposed under UN Security Council resolutions—to be only suspended, not rescinded. Suspension would make it far easier for the sanctions to be ratcheted back up should the Western powers ever deem that Iran has reneged on the nuclear deal.

How the US and its allies view the relaxation of sanctions is illustrated by the interim deal to which Iran and the P-6 agreed at the beginning of 2014, and which has subsequently been twice extended. Although Iran has frozen or rolled back large parts of its nuclear program and agreed to the most intrusive ever International Atomic Energy Agency inspections regime, it has received less than a billion dollars in sanctions relief per month. Most of this has been no more than access to its own money, currently frozen in the world backing system. (Iran is prevented from accessing almost $100 billion in foreign reserves and oil sales proceeds.)

According to press reports, the agreement currently being negotiated in Lausanne is only two to three pages long. Even if ratified by Iran and the P-6, it is not likely to be publicly released.

However, it will reportedly stipulate certain specifics that will form the basis of an extensive technical agreement to be negotiated by June 30, the expiration date of the twice-extended interim nuclear deal. The specifics are said to include the duration of the agreement, the number of operational centrifuges Iran will be allowed, and a framework for the suspension and ultimate lifting of sanctions.

The US brought forward the unsubstantiated charge that Iran was developing nuclear weapons in 2003 in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s illegal invasion of Iraq, justified by lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” and as it was initiating high-level planning for a regime-change war targeting Iran.

In the ensuing thirteen years, the US has repeatedly threatened Tehran with war, punished it with sanctions, and worked with Israel to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program through cyber-attacks and the assassination of Iranian scientists.

In September 2013, the Obama administration came to the brink of a military strike against Syria, Iran’s sole governmental ally in the region, a development Tehran warned would lead to war with Iran. But facing widespread popular opposition and divisions within the military-intelligence apparatus and ruling elite over US strategy in the region, the Obama administration pivoted to exploring the possibilities of a rapprochement with Tehran. Iran’s rulers, for their part, had repeatedly indicated they were amenable to a deal with the US, a fact that was underlined by the coming to power of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president.

In the intervening year and a half, the crisis in US policy in the Middle East has only deepened. Iran is now a tacit ally of the US in seeking to prop up a Shia-dominated, US-allied government in Baghdad against the Sunni Islamists of ISIS. At the same time, the US remains determined to oust the Assad regime from power in Damascus and is supporting a Saudi-led invasion of Yemen directed against the Houthi, a Zaidi Shia rebel force that has received support from Tehran.

For the US, the nuclear conflict with Iran has always been about maintaining and extending US strategic dominance of the world’s most important oil-exporting region. It is now considering whether to enlist Iranian support, at least temporarily, in seeking to restabilize the region under US domination.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif conceded that events in Yemen had been discussed on the sidelines of the Lausanne talks, but claimed that the talks’ sole focus is the nuclear issue.

In his March 21 speech, Khamenei insisted that Iran “will not negotiate with America over regional matters,” adding, “The goals of the Americans are exactly the opposite of our goals. We want security and calm in the region… the policy of the US in the region creates instability.”

This declaration was undoubtedly for public consumption. Rouhani and his mentor, former Iranian President Rafsanjani, have frequently signaled the possibility that Iran and the US could work as partners in the region, including in Syria. Khamenei himself has repeatedly countenanced offers to the US, including most notoriously in 2003, when he authorized a proposed “grand bargain” under which Tehran would recognize Israel and cut off military support to Hezbollah and Hamas in exchange for a US commitment to abandon regime change in Tehran.

Important as the current situation in the Middle East is in the shaping of US policy toward Iran, even more significant is the Obama administration’s pursuit of confrontation with Russia and China. Were the US able to harness Iran to its strategic objectives, it would remake the world geopolitical landscape, given Iran’s strategic importance as the only state that straddles the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asia, and its significant economic ties to Beijing and military-strategic links to Russia.

Speaking last week, CIA Director John Brennan made clear that even in the event of a nuclear deal with Iran, Washington will not let up in its drive to force Tehran to abandon any challenge to US domination of the Middle East. Labeling Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism,” Brennan declared, “What we have to do, whether there’s a deal or not, is continue to keep pressure on Iran and to make sure that it is not able to continue to destabilize a number of the countries in the region.”

Saudi Arabia’s Invasion of Yemen

Perpetuating Chaos and Lawlessness in Middle East

By Ajamu Baraka
March 29, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Wednesday evening Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States announced that Saudi Arabia had commenced military operations against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Saudi intervention was not unexpected. Over the last few weeks there were signs that the U.S. and the Saudi’s were preparing the ground for direct military intervention in Yemen in response to the Houthi’s seizing state power in January.

The appearance of a previously unknown ISIS element that was supposedly responsible for the massive bomb attack that killed over 130 people on Friday and the withdraw of U.S. personnel on Saturday were the clear signals that direct intervention by the Saudi’s was imminent.

And this week with the fall of al-Anad military base, the base where the U.S. military and CIA conducted its drone warfare in Yemen, to Ansarullah fighters and the capture of the port city of Aden where disposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had fled, it was almost KillingTrayvons1certain that the U.S. would the green light for its client states to intervene.

The Saudi Ambassador cloaked the role of Saudi Arabia within the fictitious context of another grand coalition, this time led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) –  the corrupt collection of authoritarian monarchies allied with the U.S. and the other Western colonial powers.

Ambassador Al-Jubeir announced that before launching operations in Yemen all of its allies were consulted. The meaning of that statement is that the U.S. was fully involved in the operation. Even though the Ambassador stressed that the U.S. was not directly involved in the military component of the assault, CNN reported that an interagency U.S. coordination team was in Saudi Arabia and that a U.S. official confirmed that the U.S. would be providing logistical and intelligence support for the operation.

And what was the justification for launching a military  operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council? According to the Saudi’s they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterize as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.

But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.

The intervention by the Saudi’s and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the U.S. precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half.  Violations of the UN Charter and international law modeled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalized resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.

The double standard and hypocrisy of U.S. support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and U.S. condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine  will not be missed by most people.

And so the conflagration in the Middle East continues.

U.S. and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at info.abaraka@gmail.com and www.AjamuBaraka.com

 

Empire and Colonialism: Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

By Colin Todhunter
March 27, 2015
Global Research

 

seeds_africaSome £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment, African countries have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire farmland, control seed supplies and export produce.

Last year, Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.”

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal are all involved in the New Alliance.

In a January 2015 piece in The Guardian, Dearden continued by saying that development was once regarded as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the ‘first’ to the ‘third world’, involving a revolutionary struggle over the world’s resources. However, the current paradigm is based on the assumption that developing countries need to adopt neo-liberal policies and that public money in the guise of aid should facilitate this. The notion of ‘development’ has become hijacked by rich corporations and the concept of poverty depoliticised and separated from structurally embedded power relations.

To see this in action, we need look no further to a conference held on Monday 23 March in London, organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This secretive, invitation-only meeting with aid donors and big seed companies discussed a strategy to make it easier for these companies to sell patented seeds in Africa and thus increase corporate control of seeds.

Farmers have for generations been saving and exchanging seeds among themselves. This has allowed them a certain degree of independence and has enabled them to innovate, maintain biodiversity, adapt seeds to climatic conditions and fend off plant disease. Big seed companies with help from the Gates Foundation, the US government and other aid donors are now discussing ways to increase their market penetration of commercial seeds by displacing farmers own seed systems.

Corporate sold hybrid seeds often produce higher yields when first planted, but the second generation seeds produce low yields and unpredictable crop traits, making them unsuitable for saving and storing. As Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now rightly says, instead of saving seeds from their own crops, farmers who use hybrid seeds become completely dependent on the seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies, which can (and has) in turn result in an agrarian crisis centred on debt, environmental damage and health problems.

The London conference aimed to share findings of a report by Monitor Deloitte on developing the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The report recommends that in countries where farmers are using their own seed saving networks NGOs and aid donors should encourage governments to introduce intellectual property rights for seed breeders and help to persuade farmers to buy commercial, patented seeds rather than relying on their own traditional varieties. The report also suggests that governments should remove regulations so that the seed sector is opened up to the global market.

The guest list comprised corporations, development agencies and aid donors, including Syngenta, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. It speaks volumes that not one farmer organisation was invited. Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for thousands of years. They have been “scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts” who have increasingly been reduced to becoming recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry. So who better than to discuss issues concerning agriculture?

But the whole point of such a conference is that the West regards African agriculture as a ‘business opportunity’, albeit wrapped up in warm-sounding notions of ‘feeding Africa’ or ‘lifting millions out of poverty’. The West’s legacy in Africa (and elsewhere) has been to plunge millions into poverty. Enforcing structural reforms to benefit big agribusiness and its unsustainable toxic GMO/petrochemical inputs represents a continuation of the neo-colonialist plundering of Africa. The US has for many decades been using agriculture as a key part of foreign policy to secure global hegemony.

Phil Bereano, food sovereignty campaigner with AGRA Watch and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington says:

“This is an extension of what the Gates Foundation has been doing for several years – working with the US government and agribusiness giants like Monsanto to corporatize Africa’s genetic riches for the benefit of outsiders. Don’t Bill and Melinda realize that such colonialism is no longer in fashion? It’s time to support African farmers’ self-determination.”

Bereano also shows how Western corporations only intend to cherry-pick the most profitable aspects of the food production chain, while leaving the public sector in Africa to pick up the tab for the non-profitable aspects that allow profitability further along the chain.

Giant agritech corporations with their patented seeds and associated chemical inputs are ensuring a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. African agriculture is being placed in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the pretext of helping the poor. The Gates Foundation has substantial shares in Monsanto. With Monsanto’s active backingfrom the US State Department and the Gates Foundation’s links with USAID, African farmers face a formidable force.

Report after report suggests that support for conventional agriculture, agroecology and local economies is required, especially in the Global South. Instead, Western governments are supporting powerful corporations with taxpayers money whose thrust via the WTO, World Bank and IMF has been to encourage strings-attached loans, monocrop cultivation for export using corporate seeds, the restructuring of economies, the opening of economies to the vagaries of land and commodity speculation and a system of globalised trade rigged in favour of the West.

In this vision for Africa, those farmers who are regarded as having any role to play in all of this are viewed only as passive consumers of corporate seeds and agendas. The future of Africa is once again being decided by rich men in London.

NATO allies Saudi Arabia and Israel edge closer to War with Iran

By Steven MacMillan
March 19, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

640x-1A recent report by an Israeli TV station revealed that Saudi Arabia would allow Israeli jets to use its airspace to attack Iran, demonstrating the clandestine strategic alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel. As the Times of Israel reported in an article titled: Saudis ‘would let Israeli jets use their air space to attack Iran’:


“The Saudis have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi air space en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary,” the TV report [from Channel 2] said. All that they ask is “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue. Being able to use Saudi airspace would allow Israeli planes a shortcut to reach Iran without having to fly around the Persian Gulf, taking up precious time and fuel.”

Even though Riyadh and Tel Aviv have no official diplomatic ties in addition to there being dramatic cultural and religious differences between them, the two nations increasingly have a convergence of interests in the region. Both countries are close allies of the West and share analogous positions on Syria and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Israel may be given the green light to attack Iran on behalf of NATO powers if NATO feels it could not sell a direct war in Iran to their populations back home. Regime change in Syria is a prerequisite before an overt attack on Iran can take place however, as Damascus is an important Iranian ally in the Middle East. If a military assault on Iran occurs it would be difficult for the arena of conflict to be contained to the Middle East, as it has the potential to rapidly escalate into a wider conflict involving Russia and China.

Western nations have been engaged in attempting to covertly overthrow the present Iranian regime for decades, a country that has been placed under sanctions by an assortment of nations for years. Regime change in Iran has been a dream of Western foreign policy strategists for decades, with Iran pinpointed in astrategic paper written in 2000 by the neoconservative thinktank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), alongside countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. Retired US four star general and former NATO commander, Wesley Clark, also revealed a plan circulating around the Pentagon in 2001 to attack 7 countries in 5 years, with Iran named as one of the seven.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have a real fear of Iranian power in the Middle East as Tehran is a naturally dominant player due to it possessing abundant natural resources, in addition to having the 3rd largest population in the region and having an ancient and rich history. Only a powerhouse of a nation could endure so many restrictions on their economy and not collapse and be forced into subservience to the West. 

If Iran was to be struck, Tehran would most likely retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, where approximately one fifth of the world’s oil supply travels through. Tehran threatened in 2011 that it would block the Strait if the West imposed more sanctions on the nation, with Iran’s navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari remarking that closing the strait would be “easy“. As the former Special Adviser in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, Matthew Kroenig, expresses in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) publication Foreign Affairs in 2012 titled: Time to Attack Iran:

“Those wary of a U.S. strike also point out that Iran could retaliate by attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow access point to the Persian Gulf through which roughly 20 percent of the world’s oil supply travels. And even if Iran did not threaten the strait, speculators, fearing possible supply disruptions, would bid up the price of oil, possibly triggering a wider economic crisis at an already fragile moment.”

Kroenig continues in the article to call for “surgical” strikes on Iran:

“Yet Iran’s rapid nuclear development will ultimately force the United States to choose between a conventional conflict and a possible nuclear war. Faced with that decision, the United States should conduct a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, absorb an inevitable round of retaliation, and then seek to quickly de-escalate the crisis.”

A follow up article in Foreign Affairs by Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt titled: The Case for Regime Change in Iran is even more belligerent, as the authors believe Kroenig’s strategy doesn’t go far enough:

“If the United States seriously considers military action, it would be better to plan an operation that not only strikes the nuclear program but aims to destabilize the regime, potentially resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.”

The West along with regional allies including Saudi Arabia and Israel justify attacking Iran through exclaiming that their nuclear program is a nefarious initiative aimed at creating weapons of mass destruction, which Tehran would use against its enemies. Iran however objects to this accusation and claims the program is purely aimed at peaceful energy production. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently stated that “we don’t need an atomic bomb”, adding that the world’s nuclear powers are not safer for having atomic weapons.

The Elephant in the Room – Israel’s Nuclear Program

The elephant in the room that is rarely brought into the discussion is that the state whose leaders spend a large percentage of their time salivating at the prospect of attacking Iran, namely Israel, has been a nuclear power for decades who now possesses approximately 80 nuclear weapons according to some estimates. Whether Iran is really set on building the bomb or not, Israel’s nuclear program is directly related to Iran’s nuclear ambitions yet there is virtually no international outcry against the Israeli program.  The hypocrisy of the Western nations in regards to Iran’s nuclear program is simply astounding considering their zealous support for Israel. What right has the US got to lecture any country on nuclear weapons anyway, dare we forget that America was the nation who dropped atomic bombs – an act which had very little military or strategic merit – on Japan which was on the verge of surrendering in 1945. 

The government in Tehran is continuously working to enhance their defensive capabilities in preparation for an attack in the future, with Iran recently activating its new national missile defense system dubbed the ‘Real Iron Dome’ – a clear reference to Israel’s Iron Dome system. Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, vice speaker of Iran’s parliament stated that the defense system provides “the highest deterrence power in the Middle East”.

Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Netanyahu: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered

The Power of Israel over the United States

By James Petras
March 9, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

NetanyahuThere have been times when history has played tricks with man and…has magnified the features of essentially small persons into a parody of greatness.

Rabindranath Tagore (on Benito Mussolini)

How is it that the ruler (Benjamin Netanyahu) of a puny country (Israel) of 8.2 million (6.2 million Jews) with the 37th biggest economy (GDP in current prices) in the world dictates war policy and secures the willing submission of the legislature of the largest economy and most powerful military empire in the world?

What significance does Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress have, beyond the fact that he uses it as a platform to attack the elected President of the US, to denounce US peace negotiations, and to demand that Congress adopt policies designed to precipitate a war with Iran?

Netanyahu’s Dominant Presence in the US

There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature: over the past quarter of a century, Israel’s proxy in the US, an entire panoply of Zionist political organizations, government officials, propaganda mills, media moguls, billionaires and millionaires, have deeply penetrated the legislature, executive and administrative centers of decision making. Netanyahu’s arrogance and “brazen” presumption (Financial Times, 3/4/15, p. 6) to dictate policy to the US Congress is rooted in the pre-existing power base created by the proxy Zionist power configuration.

Netanyahu can sneer, with a crooked smile, at the US President, because, after several decades of Zionist permeation of the US state, he knows that he comes not as an outside power but as a leader and spokesperson of an inside power.

His presence was hailed by all the mass media as a major event, as international news, for over a month in advance. With Napoleonic presumption he dared to announce in advance that he would advance a war thesis in the fashion of any head of state. He can act as an unelected dictator because the elected officials have been converted into docile and complicit subjects by his proxy power structure. Netanyahu follows the political precept of his predecessor Ariel Sharon, who faced with Israeli worrywarts criticizing his obstreperous intervention in US politics, once stated “Don’t worry. We lead the US by the nose.” [This quotation is unsourced. The closest substantiated approximation I could come up with: “I told everyone, the Americans, the Europeans, the Russians, ‘Don’t try to put any pressure on us, because when it comes to this issue we are not going to accept it.” Ariel Sharon in Time — DV Ed]

The crucial theoretical point is that the conditions, that enabled Netanyahu to come, to see and to conquer, were not of his doing. His presence in the US Congress and his message is derived from the power of his supporters, deeply embedded in the structure of political power in the US.

Otherwise, who would take serious his delusional military fantasies, his clinically paranoid vision of peaceful adversaries, conspiring to “nuke Israel” and then the world, without a single nuclear bomb!

petrasProminent among Netanyahu’s financial backers are a group of prominent Zionist lumpen-bourgeoisie, billionaires who lent to millions of borrowers at extortionate rates (between 1400 and 4000% ) and played a leading role in the fraudulent mortgage induced crises of 2009-forward. They include Al Goldstein co-founder of AvantCredit and CashNetUSA; Sasha Orloff and Jacob Rosenberg founders of Lendup; Daniel Gilbert founder of QuickenLoans — a predator subprime lender; Ronald Arnall owner of Ameriquest… They used part of their ill-gotten gains to ease their consciences by donating millions to Israeli and US Jewish causes. Being generous to Israel provides a sort of perverse “absolution” for screwing millions of Americans.

One does not need much imagination to envision them cheering Netanyahu’s AIPAC and Congressional diatribes. It is not surprising that the lumpen-bourgeoisie backs a lumpen-prime minister.

The best and the brightest among the Zionist phalanx of pundits, professors, lawyers, economists, and financiers have created an aura of gravitas and profundity around this vulgar beerhall brawler.

This raises a basic question: Why do upwardly mobile, prosperous and elite-educated Zionist majorities enthusiastically pledge unconditional loyalty to a crude authoritarian foreign ruler who humiliates their country of birth?

Why did ten thousand American-born Zionist professionals stand and cheer, as they did the day before his congressional speech, as Netanyahu dictated his rabid bellicose political line to them at the AIPAC conference?

Is it because they believe he is their Chosen Leader of their Chosen Fatherland?

Netanyahu, with all his vulgarity and mediocrity, strikes a deep and abiding chord in the soul of his Zionist followers. They believe they are the collective geniuses of a superior species, who need not abide by the legal norms of non-Zionist states and international laws which hinder his colonial rule over millions of Palestinians.

What else but that identity of superiority allows the educated and prosperous, the humane and the cruel, to bond and welcome Netanyahu, as a modern secular Moses crossing the Potomac, delivering “the Jews” (for the messianic Netanyahu claims to speak for “all Jews”) from the mortal threats (Iran) cultivated by gentile politicians. The great majority of Zionist activists are deaf, dumb, and blind to those who criticize and refute his infantile and grotesque lies, the scrofulous screeds about non-existing “existential threats” which infest his speeches. Worse they will terrorize and cow any critic, demand that their employers fire them, as they have done over the past two decades. They believe that the Palestinians, who Israel bombed into the Stone Age, are threats to Israel. They believe that nuclear weapon-less Iranians, facing hundreds of Israeli nuclear bombs, are a threat to Israel. They believe there is one “truth”: that all measures, speeches and actions, which enhance the power and glory of Israel, are virtuous. It is this “truth” that motivates hundreds of thousands of “virtuous” Zionists to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to buy and/or intimidate presidents and congresspeople, governors and mayors, university presidents and faculty, police informers and academic thugs. It is this Zionist power configuration, which allows a political low-life like Netanyahu to enter and dominate the legislative chamber and tell US citizens where and when their next war should take place. It is for this power configuration that Congressmen and women “perform” — applauding and jumping up on cue for each and every one of Netanyahu’s emotional ejaculations.

Broad sectors of the Israeli public were immensely impressed by Netanyahu’s capacity to humiliate the President, by his willingness to dictate policy to the US and by the hyperkinetic docility and submissiveness of US Congress people. But this is not surprising: After all, Israelis are used to dominating Palestinians and torturing them into submission and colonizing a whole people. Why shouldn’t they gloat and puff up with pride when Netanyahu speaks and acts as a colonial viceroy to the US? After all, their leader is dominating a so-called ‘world power’!

No doubt the Israeli empire loyalists will overwhelmingly vote for Netanyahu, even if the “opposition” claims they also denounce the US-Iranian peace negotiations. Opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni don’t have Netanyahu’s gangster look, that crooked smile that says to the US leaders: “We lead you by the nose and you love it!” What the rest of the world thinks of a braying donkey in Washington led by the nose is not hard to imagine: US world leadership certainly is not foremost in their minds…

There is much idle chatter from liberals, leftists and progressives, claiming that Netanyahu’s ‘brazen intervention’ would backfire; that it would damage relations with the US; that it would weaken and undermine US-Israeli relations and allow Iran to secure nuclear weapons. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken support for Israel among Democratic congress people. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken US support for Israel (God forbid!).

These lamentations have no substance; they are mendacious concoctions of minds which lack any capacity to understand power especially the permanent power of the Zionist power configuration.

Even a cursory reading of the political facts which preceded, accompanied and followed Netanyahu’s Congressional dictates, demonstrates the exact opposite.

Immediately after Netanyahu’s intervention, Congressional leaders moved ahead to fast track legislation to heighten Iranian sanctions, to veto any Executive agreement. The Republication majority and over half of the Democrats chose to back the “foreign Viceroy” on policies of war and peace.

Far from “prejudicing” relations with the Obama regime, the Administration in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry vetoed a measure passed by the UN Human Right Commission condemning Israel’s savage war crimes against Palestinians. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power did her usual belly crawl for Israel at the AIPAC conference following Netanyahu’s rousing diatribe. US-Iranian “negotiations” in Switzerland increasingly turned on exactly the issues Netanyahu demanded. US Secretary of State Kerry insisted on on-going intrusive inspections of Iran’s entire nuclear and military installations; retaining most sanctions for a decade; eliminating most enriched uranium …In a word disarming Iran, increasing its military vulnerability to an Israeli nuclear attack, without any deterrence or retaliatory capacity! Iran is formally negotiating with Kerry on behalf of the 5 plus 1, but the agenda and demands are set by the raucous over-voice of Netanyahu, who is the most influential invisible presence.

In other words, there is ample evidence that Netanyahu’s intervention, far from ‘damaging’ US-Israeli relations, further reinforced Israel’s power over the US. By securing the Administration’s declarations of unconditional loyalty while humiliating the President and seizing executive prerogatives, Israel demonstrates to the world that it can and will dictate US strategic policy and denounce its President with total impunity.

Netanyahu is far from being ostracized. He has a global platform from which to spew his rabid chauvinist diatribes against peace and negotiations. His speech, its content and style, received front page and extended prime time coverage. His war-mongering resonated with the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and US News and World Report.

Netanyahu’s political line inspired AIPAC’s ten thousand ultra-Zionists, who stormed Capital Hall and demanded Congress people and Congressional staff act on His message. Not a single dissenting voice emanated from the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish organizations whose first loyalty continued to be toward Israeli interests as defined by their Prime Minister.

The voices of dissent among the few dozen Jews on Capitol Hill, and outside the AIPAC conference hall, did not register in Congress or among the vast majority of Jewish community leaders or in the mass media.

Contrary to the lamentations and claims that Netanyahu has “weakened” Israel, the facts on the ground demonstrate that he has strengthened his “leadership” among the billionaires who buy US Congressional leaders. He has demonstrated that US officials, even ones who he insults and attacks, will continue to support Israeli war crimes in international forums; regale Israel with $3 billion a year in military aid to enhance its military supremacy in the Middle East; and incorporate its demands in any strategic negotiations with ‘Islamic’ countries like Iran, even if it undermines the basis of any negotiated agreement.

Conclusion

Clearly Netanyahu alienated a minority of US Congressional Democrats but mostly on procedural issues of protocol rather than on the more substantive issues of mongering for war and sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu’s messianic claim to speak for “all Jews” did arouse over 2,000 American Jews and non-Jews to sign a paid advertisement denying his status as the Second Coming of Moses.

But as the rousing welcome and conclusion to his speech by the Congressional majority and the unanimity of AIPAC’s thousands demonstrate, Israel’s formidable Zionist power configuration still dominates US policy in the Middle East.

The ‘debate’ over Netanyahu’s episodic presence in the US Congress and humiliation of the US President is misplaced. What really needs to be debated is the more fundamental question of the permanent presence, power and prerogatives of the Zionist power configuration in the making of US Middle East policy.

No other visiting Prime Minister or President will be received with so much media attention and political fanfare as Netanyahu because none possess the formidable, organized, well-financed and disciplined political apparatus which Israel possess. This is an apparatus which defends and promotes US wars on behalf of Israel, Israel’s war crimes, land seizures and torture of Palestinians. That they support Netanyahu’s gross humiliation of Obama is not surprising – it merely confirms the “Law of the Return”: that for American Zionists there is only one true state of the Jews – and that is Israel; and that their only “true” leaders are Israelis. As it happens, today he is called Benjamin Netanyahu. And that any US policy, negotiations or agreements in the Middle East have to be in accord with their leader.

Congress knows that.

The “52” know that.

Only the majority of the American electorate, who still believe they live in a free and independent country, is not privy to that reality, even though Netanyahu’s intervention in the US Congress and gross humiliation of the President should tell them otherwise.

But then we live in a peculiar sui generis ‘meritocracy’ in which the opinions of the 2%, the so-called chosen people, counts more than that of 98% of our citizens.

The critics, Jews and non-Jews, must realize that their problem with Netanyahu requires them to delve deeper, and that their opposition needs to become more systematic and more directly confrontational with the Zionist power configuration. Otherwise, there is no basis for believing that the US can end national humiliations and regain its status as a free and democratic republic.

James Petras is author of Extractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer) and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East. Read other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Signalling for War

Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress

By Binoy Kampmark
March 4, 2015
Counter Punch

 

NetanyahuHe has been busy, drunk with that transformation that afflicts Israeli politicians when touring the United States. Deflecting and parrying while stabbing and thrusting, he should never have given an address to Congress in these circumstances. Cold water has been poured on it from high above. There were promises that certain members of Congress would not attend.

Instead, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was feted a third time, equal in number with Britain’s Winston Churchill, something which will no doubt be emblazoned on some artefact. While Haaretz (Mar 3) noted that Netanyahu was the “Superman at AIPAC” he was “no Churchill.” While lacking Churchillian, brandy fuelled gravity, Netanyahu’s puritanical address was certainly grave, a picture of the “Likud/Republican position on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program”.

The motivation for Netanyahu’s lecturing blast was one-dimensionally simple. At no point should a nuclear deal of any substance be made with Iran, run by deceptive, orientalised savages who so happen to have discovered Twitter. “Iran’s supreme leader… spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel… must be destroyed.”

That way lies calamity, a self-boxing suggestion spouting the idea that doom is going to arise, less from the mullahs than the frothing patriots in Israel itself. “No deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.” Such atavistic presumptions are not merely dangerous but undermining in the diplomatic theatre. It is far better to term it anti-diplomacy – “Do what I say, or else.”

Cold shoulders and distance from Iran is also suggested. Leave the negotiating room with disdain. Abandon talks. Let the Iranians work out that they are unpopular, that they will have to capitulate and dissolve into fit of regime changing ecstasy. This self-defeating point encourages Iran to go on the vigilante pathway to obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the image of a Freudian death wish comes to the fore. We dare them, and hope they do not disappoint us.

Then came the conceptual deficiencies in the argument, what Matt Duss, head of the Foundation for Middle East termed an “Islamist Voltron Theory.” Central to it is conflation, involving the false lumping together of interests. It follows that constellation of views that all who are against Israel’s own policies are somehow conniving together in a secret boardroom to plot the fall of the Jewish state. “When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” This is also the simplifying idiocy of Bush-speak: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda were mortal enemies but accomplices at the same time.

In the opinion of the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman, the speech “may well have done Netanyahu and his American supporters far more harm than good” (Washington Post, Mar 3). In the views of opposition head Isaac Herzog, who is gunning for Netanyahu’s position as leader of the Zionist Union Party in the elections this month, it was futile nonsense. While Netanyahu might ventilate, “tonight’s speech will not influence the deal or Iran’s desire for a nuclear weapon.” Cooperation with the White House, he insisted, was vital (Defense News, Mar 3).

Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, had to do the dance of diplomatic distance – acknowledge the ties with Israel while dumping on its belligerent leader. All could “agree” that “a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both countries.” Israel stood “as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century,” with which the US would “always have an unshakable commitment” to.

But the Israeli prime minister’s speech was dripping with “condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing further nuclear proliferation.” All bases, in other words, had to be covered.

The other side of this roughly minted coin of non-diplomacy is Netanyahu’s own intelligence services, who continue to provide a different story to rock the boat. It is not one the Prime Minister is keen to accept, since it portrays an Iran that is less barking mad than he would like. This unfolded in 2012, when he warned members gathered at the UN General Assembly that Iran was some 70 per cent on the pathway to finalising “plans to build a nuclear weapon”.

The language of apocalypse was mandatory fare then, as it is now. “By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb. A red line should be drawn right here, before – before Iran completes the second stage of the nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.”

That same year, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan suggested that his services, and those of the Prime Minister, were not ad idem. This was hardly surprising – their estimates did not tally with Netanyahu’s doomsday manual. “An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way.”

The release of cables by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit revealed a continuing scepticism towards Tehran’s designs. A report by Mossad to their South African peers in October 2012 suggested that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” Scientists were “working on closing gaps in areas that appear legitimate such as enrichment reactors.”

Mossad’s report did not rule out the prospects that some weapons capability might, from a certain vantage point, be acquired. (The need to satisfy superiors can be endemic.) The greatest misunderstanding underlying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime lies precisely in misunderstanding the dual nature of nuclear energy – hence the caution. Undertaking such activities “will reduce the time required to produce weapons from the time the instruction is actually given.”

Noam Chomsky prefers the geopolitical implication of Netanyahu’s stonewalling behaviour. “They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and US violence, the major violence in the region.” Keep the fires with Iran burning, both within Israeli and US Republican camps, and the insurance policy for violence will be assured. In President Barack Obama’s own words, “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.”

Dr. Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Netanyahu delivers anti-Iran tirade to US Congress

By Bill Van Auken
March 4, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The speech delivered Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to an extraordinary joint session of the US Congress consisted of a hysterical anti-Iran tirade and an implicit denunciation of the Obama administration for what was portrayed as an outright betrayal of the security interests of both Israel and the US.

Netanyahu’s appearance, organized behind the back of the White House, marked an unprecedented—and constitutionally dubious—bid by an American political party to bring a foreign head of state before Congress in order to condemn and undermine the policies of a sitting president.

For Netanyahu, who described his trip to Washington as a “historic, even fateful mission,” the political motives were transparent. With Israeli elections just two weeks away and polls showing his support fading, the speech provided Netanyahu with a means of shifting attention from deteriorating economic and social conditions in Israel to the supposed “existential threat” posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

It also gave him the opportunity to be televised accepting multiple standing ovations from the US Congress. Democrats and Republicans proved equally obsequious to the Zionist lobby, rising to their feet at least 15 times during the 39-minute diatribe.

While roughly 55 of the 232 Democrats in both houses of Congress stayed away from the address—not out of disagreement with Israeli policy, but out of loyalty to Obama—the party’s congressional leadership showed up.

The speech was delivered simultaneously with a third session of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss town of Montreux. The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—are proceeding under the pressure of a March 31 deadline to reach a tentative agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s clear aim was to derail any deal with Tehran. US officials had feared he would use the speech to disclose classified information on the negotiations in order to achieve this aim. Instead, the Israeli prime minister relied on crude scaremongering and Islamophobia in what was clearly an attempt to convince Congress to intervene and disrupt the talks.

He portrayed Iran as both a terrorist state and an expanding empire that would resort to nuclear war to achieve its aims.

“We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror,” he said, adding that “the greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.”

The deal being negotiated by the Obama administration, he charged, would “inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.”

No one in either major party or in the corporate media pointed out the hypocrisy that saturated Netanyahu’s speech. The head of the Israeli government, which possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, charges Iran, a signatory to the pact, with nuclear malfeasance. The Israeli government, which has waged repeated wars of aggression against the Palestinian people and all of its Arab neighbors, while recognizing no restrictions on its borders, accuses Iran, which has invaded no one, of “aggression.”

To promote these lies, Netanyahu equated Iran not only to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but even to Nazi Germany.

At one point, he turned the attention of Congress to the presence in the gallery of Elie Wiesel, who has made a lucrative career as Washington’s semi-official Holocaust spokesman, and repeated the refrain “Never again.” Wiesel was seated with Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, who finds herself at the center of multiple corruption scandals within Israel itself.

This cheap invocation of the Holocaust to justify a policy of aggressive war against an oppressed country is as fraudulent as it is morally obscene.

President Barack Obama responded to the speech by stating that there was “nothing new” in Netanyahu’s remarks and that he had failed to “offer any viable alternative.”

An unnamed “senior US official” who spoke to the Washington Post was more blunt, declaring, “The logic of the prime minister’s speech is regime-change, not a nuclear speech.” The official added, “Simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan.”

This is the essence of Netanyahu’s policy. His demand that Iran accept the complete dismantling of all of its nuclear facilities—to which it is entitled under international law—cannot be achieved by negotiations, but only through a war to subjugate the country.

Washington has itself repeatedly engaged in saber rattling against Iran, with US representatives insisting even this week that should Tehran fail to accept or subsequently violate a nuclear agreement, the military option remained “on the table.”

Since the end of 2013, however, after it was compelled to back down from its threat to launch an air war against the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama administration has shifted its policy toward reaching an accommodation with Iran.

It is this policy, not the danger of nuclear attack, that Tel Aviv sees as an existential threat. The Zionist regime requires a continuous state of war and confrontation to sustain its rule. A deal with Iran would undermine its central claim to legitimacy.

Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, US imperialism relied on the dictatorial regime of the Shah as a pillar of stability and counterrevolution in the Middle East. Elements within the US ruling establishment no doubt harbor the hope that such a relation can be revived. As Netanyahu’s appearance demonstrated, there are sharp divisions within the US ruling elite over how to pursue such a strategy.

In its latest military intervention in Iraq and Syria, Washington has coordinated its actions with those of Iran, which has supplied the Shia-dominated Iraqi regime with substantial military aid. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that in a newly launched operation to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit, Iran was “throwing drones, heavy weaponry and ground forces into the battle, while the US remained on the sidelines.”

Israel, which has provided logistical support to the Islamist “rebels” in Syria and has tried to forge a de facto anti-Iranian alliance with the reactionary Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, perceives any thaw in US-Iranian relations as a threat to its hegemonic aims in the region, as well as to Washington’s unconditional support for the aggressive policies with which it pursues these aims.

Tel Aviv opposes Iran in large measure because its aid to the Syrian government, to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Hamas in Gaza, while posing no existential threat to Israel, limits Israel’s ability to militarily impose its dictates on the peoples of the region.

Washington, on the other hand, is pursuing far broader objectives. Its negotiations with Tehran are directed not merely at curbing its nuclear program, but at creating conditions in the region that will facilitate US imperialism’s “pivot” toward escalating military confrontation with both Russia and China.

Speaking in Geneva, Kerry pointed toward this shift, declaring, “Israel’s security is absolutely at the forefront of our minds, but frankly, so is the security of all the other countries in the region, so is our security in the United States.”

Netanyahu’s provocation in the US Capitol has been accompanied by statements from both Democrats and Republicans reaffirming support for Israel, which translates into over $3 billion a year in mostly military aid. In an interview with Reuters Monday, Obama said Netanyahu’s actions would not prove “permanently destructive.”

Such reassurances notwithstanding, Netanyahu’s speech is not the cause of the tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv, but rather a symptom of an increasing divergence of strategic interests between US imperialism and its Israeli client state.

Empire Manufactures Muslim Monsters

By Andre Vltchek
January 9, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.

*****In the past, countless Muslim leaders stood up against the Western control of the world, and enormous figures like the Indonesian President, Ahmet Sukarno, were close to Communist Parties and ideologies. Sukarno even forged a global anti-imperialist movement, the Non-Allied movement, which was clearly defined during the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, in 1955.

That was in striking contrast to the conservative, elites-oriented Christianity, which mostly felt at home with the fascist rulers and colonialists, with the kings, traders and big business oligarchs.

For the Empire, the existence and popularity of progressive, Marxist, Muslim rulers governing the Middle East or resource-rich Indonesia, was something clearly unacceptable. If they were to use the natural wealth to improve the lives of their people, what was to be left for the Empire and its corporations? It had to be stopped by all means. Islam had to be divided, and infiltrated with radicals and anti-Communist cadres, and by those who couldn’t care less about the welfare of their people.

*****Almost all radical movements in today’s Islam, anywhere in the world, are tied to Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative, reactionary sect of Islam, which is in control of the political life of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other staunch allies of the West in the Gulf.

To quote Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi:

It is very clear from the historical record that without British help neither Wahhabism nor the House of Saud would be in existence today. Wahhabism is a British-inspired fundamentalist movement in Islam. Through its defense of the House of Saud, the US also supports Wahhabism directly and indirectly regardless of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Wahhabism is violent, right wing, ultra-conservative, rigid, extremist, reactionary, sexist, and intolerant…

The West gave full support to the Wahhabis in the 1980s. They were employed, financed and armed, after the Soviet Union was dragged into Afghanistan and into a bitter war that lasted from 1979 to 1989. As a result of this war, the Soviet Union collapsed, exhausted both economically and psychologically.

The Mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviets as well as the left-leaning government in Kabul, were encouraged and financed by the West and its allies. They came from all corners of the Muslim world, to fight a ‘Holy War’ against Communist infidels.

According to the US Department of State archives:

“Contingents of so-called Afghan Arabs and foreign fighters who wished to wage jihad against the atheist communists. Notable among them was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden, whose Arab group eventually evolved into al-Qaeda.”

Apaydin Camp on Turk-Syrian border -- birthplace of ISIS

Muslim radical groups created and injected into various Muslim countries by the West included al-Qaeda, but also, more recently, ISIS (also known as ISIL). ISIS is an extremist army that was born in the ‘refugee camps’ on the Syrian/Turkish and Syrian/Jordanian borders, and which was financed by NATO and the West to fight the Syrian (secular) government of Bashar al-Assad.

Such radical implants have been serving several purposes. The West uses them as proxies in the wars it is fighting against its enemies – the countries that are still standing in the way to the Empire’s complete domination of the world. Then, somewhere down the road, after these extremist armies ‘get totally out of control’ (and they always will), they could serve as scarecrows and as justification for the The War On Terror, or, like after ISIS took Mosul, as an excuse for the re-engagement of Western troops in Iraq.

Cairo battleground

Stories about the radical Muslim groups have constantly been paraded on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, or shown on television monitors, reminding readers ‘how dangerous the world really is’, ‘how important Western engagement in it is’, and consequently, how important surveillance is, how indispensable security measures are, as well as tremendous ‘defense’ budgets and wars against countless rogue states.

*****From a peaceful and creative civilization, that used to lean towards socialism, the Muslim nations and Islam itself, found itself to be suddenly derailed, tricked, outmaneuvered, infiltrated by foreign religious and ideological implants, and transformed by the Western ideologues and propagandists into one ‘tremendous threat’; into the pinnacle and symbol of terrorism and intolerance.

The situation has been thoroughly grotesque, but nobody is really laughing – too many people have died as a result; too much has been destroyed!

Indonesia is one of the most striking historical examples of how such mechanisms of the destruction of progressive Muslim values, really functions:

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the US, Australia and the West in general, were increasingly ‘concerned’ about the progressive anti-imperialist and internationalist stand of President Sukarno, and about the increasing popularity of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). But they were even more anxious about the enlightened, socialist and moderate Indonesian brand of Islam, which was clearly allying itself with Communist ideals.

Christian anti-Communist ideologues and ‘planners’, including the notorious Jesuit Joop Beek, infiltrated Indonesia. They set up clandestine organizations there, from ideological to paramilitary ones, helping the West to plan the coup that in and after 1965 took between 1 and 3 million human lives.

Shaped in the West, the extremely effective anti-Communist and anti-intellectual propaganda spread by Joop Beek and his cohorts also helped to brainwash many members of large Muslim organizations, propelling them into joining the killing of Leftists, immediately after the coup. Little did they know that Islam, not only Communism, was chosen as the main target of the pro-Western, Christian ‘fifth column’ inside Indonesia, or more precisely, the target was the left-leaning, liberal Islam.

After the 1965 coup, the Western-sponsored fascist dictator, General Suharto, used Joop Beek as his main advisor. He also relied on Beek’s ‘students’, ideologically. Economically, the regime related itself with mainly Christian business tycoons, including Liem Bian Kie.

In the most populous Muslim nation on earth, Indonesia, Muslims were sidelined, their ‘unreliable’ political parties banned during the dictatorship, and both the politics (covertly) and economy (overtly) fell under the strict control of Christian, pro-Western minority. To this day, this minority has its complex and venomous net of anti-Communist warriors, closely-knit business cartels and mafias, media and ‘educational outlets’ including private religious schools, as well as corrupt religious preachers (many played a role in the 1965 massacres), and other collaborators with both the local and global regime.

Indonesian Islam has been reduced to a silent majority, mostly poor and without any significant influence. It only makes international headlines when its frustrated white-robed militants go trashing bars, or when its extremists, many related to the Mujahedeen and the Soviet-Afghan War, go blowing up nightclubs, hotels or restaurants in Bali and Jakarta.

Or do they even do that, really?

Former President of Indonesia and progressive Muslim cleric, Abdurrahman Wahid (forced out of office by the elites), once told me: “I know who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. It was not an attack by the Islamists; it was done by the Indonesian secret services, in order to justify their existence and budget, and to please the West.”

*****“I would argue that western imperialism has not so much forged an alliance with radical factions, as created them”, I was told, in London, by my friend, and leading progressive Muslim intellectual, Ziauddin Sardar.

And Mr. Sardar continued:

We need to realize that colonialism did much more than simply damage Muslim nations and cultures. It played a major part in the suppression and eventual disappearance of knowledge and learning, thought and creativity, from Muslim cultures. Colonial encounter began by appropriating the knowledge and learning of Islam, which became the basis of the ‘European Renaissance’ and ‘the Enlightenment’ and ended by eradicating this knowledge and learning from both Muslim societies and from history itself. It did that both by physical elimination – destroying and closing down institutions of learning, banning certain types of indigenous knowledge, killing off local thinkers and scholars – and by rewriting History as the history of western civilization into which all minor histories of other civilization are subsumed.

From the hopes of those post-WWII years, to the total gloom of the present days – what a long and terrible journey is has been!

The Muslim world is now injured, humiliated and confused, almost always on the defensive.

It is misunderstood by the outsiders, and often even by its own people who are frequently forced to rely on Western and Christian views of the world.

What used to make the culture of Islam so attractive – tolerance, learning, concern for the wellbeing of the people – has been amputated from the Muslim realm, destroyed from abroad. What was left was only religion.

Now most of the Muslim countries are ruled by despots, by the military or corrupt cliques. All of them closely linked with the West and its global regime and interests.

As they did in several great nations and Empires of South and Central America, as well as Africa, Western invaders and colonizers managed to totally annihilate great Muslim cultures.

What forcefully replaced them were greed, corruption, and brutality.

How much longer of this?

It appears that everything that is based on different, non-Christian foundations is being reduced to dust by the Empire. Only the biggest and toughest cultures are still surviving.

Anytime a Muslim country tries to go back to its essence, to march its own, socialist or socially-oriented way – be it Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, or much more recently Iraq, Libya or Syria – it gets savagely tortured and destroyed.

The will of its people is unceremoniously broken, and democratically expressed choices overthrown.

For decades, Palestine has been denied freedom, as well as its basic human rights. Both Israel and the Empire spit at its right to self-determination. Palestinian people are locked in a ghetto, humiliated, and murdered. Religion is all that some of them have left.

The ‘Arab Spring’ was derailed and terminated almost everywhere, from Egypt to Bahrain, and the old regimes and military are back in power.

Like African people, Muslims are paying terrible price for being born in countries rich in natural resources. But they are also brutalized for having, together with China, the greatest civilization in history, one that outshone all the cultures of the West.

*****Christianity looted and brutalized the world. Islam, with its great Sultans such as Saladin, stood against invaders, defending the great cities of Aleppo and Damascus, Cairo and Jerusalem. But overall, it was more interested in building a great civilization, than in pillaging and wars.

Now hardly anyone in the West knows about Saladin or about the great scientific, artistic or social achievements of the Muslim world. But everybody is ‘well informed’ about ISIS. Of course they know ISIS only as an ‘Islamic extremist group’, not as one of the main Western tools used to destabilize the Middle East.

As ‘France is mourning’ the deaths of the journalists at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo (undeniably a terrible crime!), all over Europe it is again Islam which is being depicted as brutal and militant, not the West with its post-Crusade, Christian fundamentalist doctrines that keeps overthrowing and slaughtering all moderate, secular and progressive governments and systems in the Muslim world, leaving Muslim people at the mercy of deranged fanatics.

*****Golan Heights: Syria proper and Israeli-occupied Syria

In the last five decades, around 10 million Muslims have been murdered because their countries did not serve the Empire, or did not serve it full-heartedly, or just were in the way. The victims were Indonesians, Iraqis, Algerians, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Yemenis, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, and the citizens of Mali, Somalia, Bahrain and many other countries.

The West identified the most horrible monsters, threw billions of dollars at them, armed them, gave them advanced military training, and then let them loose.

The countries that are breeding terrorism, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are some of the closest allies of the West, and have never been punished for exporting horror all over the Muslim world.

Great social Muslim movements like Hezbollah, which is presently engaged in mortal combat against the ISIS, but which also used to galvanize Lebanon during its fight against the Israeli invasion, are on the “terrorist lists” compiled by the West. It explains a lot, if anybody is willing to pay attention.

Seen from the Middle East, it appears that the West, just as during the crusades, is aiming at the absolute destruction of Muslim countries and the Muslim culture.

As for the Muslim religion, the Empire only accepts the sheepish brands – those that accept extreme capitalism and the dominant global position of the West. The only other tolerable type of Islam is that which is manufactured by the West itself, and by its allies in the Gulf – designated to fight against progress and social justice; the one that is devouring its own people.

André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest book is with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is called Indonesia: The Archipelago of Fear. He completed a feature documentary Rwanda Gambit (2013) about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Andre.

The Most Essential Lesson of History That No One Wants to Admit

By Thad Beversdorf
December 9, 2014
Dissident Voice, December 8, 2014

 

© Unknown

 

Ron Paul wrote an eye opening article recently about some legislation that was just signed in Congress, namely H. Res. 758.  In the article Dr. Paul explains the purpose of the resolution.  It’s not a new law but provides a basis of facts that will be relied on for future action.  So essentially the resolution purports that Russia behaved badly in various ways and by way of signing H. Res. 758 each congressman was indicating their agreement that the propositions contained therein are factual.  Now just because a group of obnoxiously arrogant A-holes stand around in a tax-revenue financed chamber and say “yeah” to several assertions does not make those assertions factual, but here in the United Orwellian States of America it kinda does.  Because those assertions that were voted to be fact (similar to the First Council of Nicaea) will now be written as factual history and taught to our children as having happened that way.  The very same way we all attained our ideas of American superiority.

The dishonesty and ignorance it creates is reason enough not to do such things, however, the real stinker of it is, as Dr. Paul so clearly points out, the sole purpose of H. Res. 758 is simply a pouring of the legal  foundation for something much more substantive.  You see this is how wars begin.  And the wheels for this particular war have been in motion for many years now.  We’ve been told our actions heretofore are simply a necessary response to the Ukraine situation.  However, those who can objectively look at the Ukraine situation will realize the US sponsored coup in Ukraine was simply a spark to light the fuse of a much larger detonation.

Now I understand many at this point are thinking “yep another conspiracy theory, why can’t it ever just be the US government thinks what they are doing is best for Americans”?  And it can, it just never is anymore and perhaps ever was.  Lies are told and public opinion is manipulated.  For war must be every bit good theatre in the press, as good strategy on the ground.  It is the theatre that makes war so ugly.  Fighting a war for what one believes in is unfortunate and brutal but fighting for lies and deceit to an end that benefits only those telling the lies is a type of ugliness most of us cannot comprehend.  It is only in the world ruled by sociopaths where such things can happen.  Allow me to offer some facts many don’t know about how it came to be that we invaded Iraq and Syria as the truth is still very much hidden from common knowledge.

We had a tragic start within the first two years of the new millennium.  That event actually seemed to bring the world together.  However, very quickly it turned into a launching pad for war.  One might think well that’s reasonable to expect given the tragedy that took place in New York.  A mighty nation like America is going to bring retribution to those responsible.  And I agree with that.  I was one of the many who wanted to see retribution brought to those responsible. However, we abandoned the attack on those responsible to initiate a war that had been in the works for many years.

It is pretty common knowledge at this point we pulled out of Afghanistan to push our forces and objectives toward Iraq. Now to get the world onboard with this, as we now know, the US created incredible lies about Iraq not only having some connection to 9/11 but that they were also building enormous stockpiles of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ and that they were hell bent on using those against western nations.  Again, we now know that none of these assertions were true.  And we know our legislators were aware that no credible evidence existed to support such views.  And we know that despite knowing those assertions were false they still made the decision to lie not only to the American people but to the world.  The lies were told in an effort to build support so that parents around the world would see a righteous cause that they were sending their sons and daughters to their potential deaths or to be maimed in unimaginably horrifying circumstances.

Now I want you to think about that for a moment and don’t just read over that and move on.  Because this is the essence of what our government has become in America today.  They knowingly lied to the world so that the world would be willing to sacrifice their children, believing it was a necessary and righteous cause to do so.  And in the end the truth came to light that there was no righteous cause.  That all these young men and women from around the world had been used as pawns to fulfill the ambitions of a few.  It is truly one of the ugliest atrocities to ever have been carried out by an elected government against its own citizens.  And yet today because of our state edited media, most will not acknowledge that such an atrocity took place.

So I want to make very clear that Iraq was not a consequence of poor intelligence or bad decisions in the wake of post 9/11 emotions.  The invasions of both Iraq and Syria were being planned and discussed for many years before 9/11.  It is imperative to understand such things.  Because while we cannot change history, we must use history to change the future.  And I will add a note here because of the complexities of discussing Israel in a public forum.  The immediately following should not be misconstrued as an indictment of Israel for it is America that is responsible for America’s actions.  Now please carry on.

In 1996 the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, sponsored an ad hoc think tank called The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.”  From this think tank came a report that was the beginning of a powerful lobby movement.  Let’s take a close look at a few main points that come from the 1996 report.

Israel’s quest for peace emerges from, and does not replace, the pursuit of its ideals. The Jewish people’s hunger for human rights — burned into their identity by a 2000-year old dream to live free in their own land — informs the concept of peace and reflects continuity of values with Western and Jewish tradition.

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. 

Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:

  • striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan. 
  • paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces. 
  • striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.

To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel. If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996. 

But who would have authored such a report?  A report that seems to promote the idea of constraining, manipulating and achieving a benign American reaction.  Well have a look at the list of authors/signatories of that report, below.  They should be familiar to most of you as they are US not Israeli policymakers, which is odd because again this is an Israeli state sponsored project with objectives that are clearly focused on the well being of Israel, not the US or the  American people.

Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Study Group Leader

James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Johns Hopkins University/SAIS
Douglas Feith, Feith and Zell Associates
Robert Loewenberg, PresidentInstitute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Jonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
David Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Meyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University

Now subsequent to that 1996 report being released there was a letter drafted and sent to President Clinton in January 1998 that provides us some additional clarity on the war policies of the new millennium.  Let’s have a look at that.

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Again we see a very explicit and aggressive lobby effort to persuade the US to invade Iraq.  Now I’m sure you’ll find these authors even more interesting.  Many of the same authors of the 1996 recommendation are also authors of this lobby effort.  Only this time they are acting as benefactors of America.  Odd though that they are pushing the very same agenda that just 18 months earlier these same folks were pushing as benefactors to a foreign nation.  It almost seems as though the authors are indeed attempting to manage and constrain the American people’s reaction, as discussed in the first report, to their desired recommendations that US use its military to engage various nations in war.  I’ve attached the list of authors here as well.

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Let’s think about this rationally for a moment.  In 1996 we had a foreign government sponsor a think tank staffed by very prominent US policymakers with the objective to strengthen that foreign sponsor nation.  And then 18 months later we see a follow on letter to the President from many of the same US policymakers that authored the 1996 report and some additional prominent US policymakers.  The recommendation of both the ’96 report and ’98 letter to the President were lobbying for the US to invade and overthrow Iraq and Syria.  However the original recommendation was for the benefit of Israel and the latter recommendation was being sold as necessary for America.  And remember, 9/11 had not happened yet but we already see these very powerful, very prominent policymakers pushing very hard to invade Iraq and Syria.

The problem is Americans didn’t want another Iraqi war.  Times were good in the late 1990′s.  People were happy.  The cold war was over, jobs were a plenty and the world felt safer than it had for decades.  And as such, there was no way Americans were going to war for the benefit of a foreign nation. The US had decided Hussein was actually a stabilizing force there in the middle east and as such we wanted him there.  But then an election happened and little Bush was elected President.  Along with him came all those names we just saw authoring the two dossiers recommending the US invade Iraq and Syria.  The authors were given titles such as Chair of the Defense Policy Board (Richard Perle) and Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld), etc.   And so all of a sudden the same group of people who were championing the invasion of Iraq and Syria back in the late 1990′s were now in a position to make it happen by way of their own authority.  What luck!  Shortly thereafter the worst attack on US soil took place in New York and the rest is, as they say, history.

To believe we went into Iraq because our fearless and integrity driven leaders truly and honestly believed it was the morally and justifiable thing to do based on the tragedy of 9/11 is just ignorance because it does not align with the facts.  There was a small group of men, called Neocons, that had derived these military actions some 10 years prior to operations themselves and some 5 years prior to the events that were used to sell these war efforts to the American people and the world.  None of that can we change.  And so my ultimate point here is to learn from what happened with Syria and Iraq and to show you it is exactly what is happening with Russia today.

Let me introduce a letter written by Bill Kristol and Donald Kagan to the Heads of State and Government Of the European Union and NATO.  The letter was signed by many but of particular interest are many of the same names from the 1996 report and 1998 letter to President Clinton pushing for war against Iraq and Syria.  This 2004 letter does not mince its words.  It is very much pushing for European support of what would obviously be a US led military stand off with Russia.  The letter is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, which is a neoconservative think tank.  In fact, one of the prestigious awards handed out by the AEI is called the Irving Kristol award.  Irving Kristol (father to Bill Kristol) is known as the godfather of the neocon movement in the US.  So again this is essentially the same crowd from ’96 an ’98, pushing for support of a US military operation, this time with Russia.  This is back in 2004 mind you before the current events in Ukraine had even been imagined (signatories of the attached letter can be found here).

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Again we see the aggressive recommendations to back a military operation many years before the catalyst event takes place.  That is the event that is being sold as the moral justification for a military operation.  But this letter tells us that this military objective against Russia has been promoted for many many years now, far before Ukraine was an issue.  This is again, a push from the same folks that lied to us about Iraq and then trained, equipped and funded ISIS in order to get into Syria and are now working hard to create a catalyst for an offensive with Russia.

For years before 9/11 it was determined by those warmongering policymakers that we would be invading Iraq and Syria.  All we needed was a catalyst.  9/11 provided that for Iraq.  ISIS provided that for Syria and now Ukraine has provided that for Russia.  I’m not saying these folks had anything to do with 9/11 because I have no idea.  What we do know is that 9/11 was used as a catalyst to lie to the American people about the need to invade Iraq.  It has also been fully admitted by our government that we did in fact, train, equip and fund ISIS, ‘mistakenly though’.  And finally we have recordings of senior US diplomats discussing our involvement in the coup in Ukraine.

And so one can only conclude here that again Americans are being manipulated to accept the recommendations from a powerful group of warmongering policymakers to go to war with a nation that has posed absolutely no threat to the American people in more than 25 years.  And we are being led down this path by lies and propaganda.  Quite specifically things like H. Res. 758.  And if we do not make a stand against these policymakers we are most certainly headed for what could very well be the war to end all wars.

For the West is clearly looking to fortify its power hold over the world by destroying Russia economically to disable them militarily in an effort to prevent a Sino-Soviet alliance.  I recently watched a presentation by former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, to a political science class at Stanford University.  The moral to his story (and I use that ironically) was to challenge them to figure out a way, in the face of a rising East soon to control a higher share of the worlds assets than the West, to retain the West’s global control.  He stressed it was something his generation  did not have to deal with but that today’s Western up and coming political class must consider.  You see China is a powerful nation but without an alliance with Russia, China can be contained due its lack of energy.  Because China is both a more difficult opponent and one that has much more trade with the US, Russia is the obvious target to prevent a fully formed Sino-Soviet alliance.

However, I cannot imagine a scenario where China does not clearly identify such a strategy being played out.  And so they will come to the defense of Russian energy, as we’ve already seen with the signings of the world’s largest energy deals between those two nations.   The Chinese defense will not be limited to economic if push comes to shove.  And we will be put in the midst of the most powerful nations in the history of the world fighting for ultimate power.  This small group of horrible people are willing to put the world on the line so their lineage can continue to rule the world while the rest of us struggle to simply stop the financial bleeding that has become a 15 year epidemic.

This all sounds like the stuff of fiction novels but unfortunately the facts tell us this is all too real.  What is hard for me to believe is that we so readily ignore and deny the most essential lessons of history.  Perhaps the foremost being that the political class will always be willing to sacrifice the working class in order to retain its power.  And so we find ourselves again on the precipice of being asked by our political class to offer our young men and women up to be sacrificed for the ‘greater cause’.  However, while the political class is trying to convince you the cause is one of morals and righteousness, in the end, it is the same cause it has been since post WWII and some will argue the same cause it has always been, which is for their interests and their victories, not ours.

Thad Beversdorf writes at First Rebuttal, where this article first appeared. Follow him @ThadBeversdorf. Read other articles by Thad.

The Persian Bomb Squad

Some people just can’t be trusted

By Jason Hirthler
December 4, 2014
Dissident Voice

 

A recent New York Times article offered another textbook example of the spectacular bias the U.S. employs to undermine those that might pose a challenge to its global hegemony. It also nicely illustrated the willingness of the media to serve as little more than a relay station for state propaganda. Yet it was but the latest in the glossary of deceits that characterize America’s relationship with Iran.

The front-page article from two Saturdays covered the Iranian nuclear program negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1, which includes the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia. It was titled, “In Iran Talks, U.S. Seeks to Prevent a Covert Weapon.” The subhead reads, “A ‘Sneakout’ Feared.” The article then intones, with its vacuous air of impartiality and even-handed reserve, that the West (naturally acting with the best interests of all people at heart) is wrestling with “how to design an agreement to maximize the chances that Western intelligence agencies would catch any effort to develop an atomic bomb at a covert site.” Concern is obviously, then, “over a future Iranian covert program.”

The authors repeatedly emphasize Iran’s “declared” nuclear facilities. The authors at least concede that the declared facilities are “crawling with inspectors and cameras.” The goal, it is said, is to stretch the “breakout” timeline by which Iran could ‘sprint’ to a bomb. But the real problem for the U.S. and its allies is not only a “breakout,” but a “sneakout,” which is the nonexistent covert program that it believes may one day exist “deep in the Iranian mountains.”

Note that all of this talk of breakouts and sneakouts and covert programs is conjecture, speculation perhaps calibrated to produce distrust in Iranian aims, which to this point, seem to be in line with its right to pursue civilian nuclear energy—something the U.S. happily supported when its brutal stooge, the Shah of Iran, held the reigns of the country. But America has never forgiven the 1979 Islamic revolution.

This entire narrative smacks of the Iraq invasion of 2003, when the Bush administration’s unquenchable thirst for regional dominion led it to fabricate a covert Iraqi WMD program. Though UNSCOM had found no evidence of WMD programs, and no radar or satellite detections of nuclear activity were ever reported, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared that, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Keep this quote in mind as we review five critical steps to bringing your rivals to heel.

  1. Demonize and penalize…

The game plan for Iran is largely drawn from the Iraqi playbook, with a few modifications. For instance, it is important to establish an unreachable standard of compliance by which you can cast a considerable shadow over your enemy’s motivations. Though the IAEA has repeatedly found that Iran has not diverted nuclear power toward a weapons program, the U.S. still seeks confirmation of “the absence of undeclared activities.” This is, logically speaking, impossible to verify. To do so would require omniscience—knowledge of everything—to verify the absence of the imagined. It is under the rubric of this intellectual fatuity that the West has pressed for further inspections than members are required to provide under their NPT Safeguards agreement.

This is how it worked with Iraq. The White House knows if it pushes far enough, eventually the oppressed country will balk and resist. At that moment, the White House and State Department will leap into action, declaring that Iraq or Iran isn’t negotiating in good faith, has failed its obligations, and so on. It will point to “hard-liners” in the target government, characterizing them as myopic fundamentalists that cannot cope with modernity.

In Iraq, absurd demands included a dire need to inspect Hussein’s own palace for evidence of WMD subterfuge. The same is being proposed for Iran. Imagine Iran insisting that it be permitted to inspect the Knesset for possible plots to attack Natanz facility. How might our mild-mannered Zionist allies react?

A key sticking point are the “additional protocols” pushed by the U.S. as new measures to verify NPT compliance back in the late nineties, largely in response to successful Iraqi efforts to disguise nuclear work, which appear to have eluded the IAEA less from deficiencies in the NPT Safeguards but negligence in applying the full authority they accord inspection teams. They call for the member states to declare more activity related to nuclear energy and to permit more expansive access for IAEA inspectors.

Naturally, the U.S. was behind the push for more extensive access above and beyond the NPT. This process stretches back into the nineties when the additional protocols were being formed, ostensibly based on insights from the Iraq invasion earlier in the decade. The U.S. led the push for more access: “U.S. leadership in negotiating the Model Additional Protocol was instrumental in its acceptance by the IAEA Board of Governors. Countries with extensive nuclear civilian energy programs…opposed U.S. efforts to strengthen the draft protocol, citing its inapplicability to the United States.”

Early in the 2000s, an IAEA report found that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons but that it had concealed the extent of its enrichment activities—a direct violation of the NPT. In an attempt to ease Western concerns, Iran signed on to the additional protocols (but didn’t ratify them) and voluntarily suspended enrichment activity for a couple of years, hoping that by so doing it would gain EU promise to accept its uranium enrichment for civilian energy. The EU agreed to that proviso in the Paris Agreements of 2004. A few months later it reneged on its promise. In response, Iran began enriching uranium again and dropped the additional protocols.

(Note during this long period of bickering, Iran had quietly offered complete transparency of its program, quitting its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S. The West instantly rejected this idea. It also suggested its enrichment being managed by an international consortium. Again, dismissed.)

Despite its legal right under the NPT to enrich uranium to 20 percent, the IAEA tossed the Iranian dossier to the UN Security Council, which pretended to extend a new offer to Iran after requesting it halt the exercise of its legal right to enrichment. The new offer of negotiations, in a predictable tactic familiar to U.S. foreign policy observers, included a request that the purpose of negotiations—Iran’s enrichment program—be halted before the negotiations began.

The Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran. The U.S. pressed the IAEA to declare Iran in violation of the NPT. Iran, by contrast, claimed the sanctions were illegal. By 2007, the West was demanding satisfaction beyond even the additional protocols, according to IAEA Deputy Director general of safeguards Olli Heinonen.

  1. Falsely accuse…

Aside from demanding the impossible, one should produce a steady stream of false accusations to further undercut whatever credibility your rival may have in international circles. As evidence of Iranian duplicity, the U.S. points to the “hidden” Fordo plant, which it says was “uncovered” in 2009, before the site was finished. In actuality, Iran announced the facility to the IAEA. The “additional protocols” spearheaded by the West that Iran had initially agreed to then refused to ratify stipulated it needlessly inform the IAEA the moment it put spade to earth on a proposed nuclear facility. The old “Safeguards” that it still abides by require all members to give notice of a new facility 180 days prior to its going online. Iran did the latter, but not the former, in keeping with its original agreement.

Iran plausibly said the facility was a contingency facility it built after public threats from Israel (the latest here) and the U.S. to militarily destroy its Natanz program. In 2013 Iran granted additional access to facilities “including mines and mills” beyond even the superfluous extra protocol. But the West wants to account for “the location of every (centrifuge).” It wants to regularly interview Iranian scientists, which Tehran has thus far resisted since a number of them have been assassinated, reportedly by Israeli clandestine agency Mossad.

The Europeans regularly chime in to call negotiations an “endless game of hide-and-seek.” Unnamed “intelligence officials” and “experts” (the usual suspects the Times relies on) claim that Iran is riddled with “bunkers and tunnels.” The Times article concludes that the “past lurks over the sneakout problem,” and that, according to an American ‘hard-liner’, it needs to, “’guard against the hidden program.’” Notice here how the definite article is used twice in succession. This implies the existence of a thing unknown to exist. The entire article is based on a suspicion in Washington. But better to assume now than be fooled later, as the beltway hawks would have it. Left aside is the reality that despite myriad inspections and unprecedented access, no inspector has ever found weapons-grade uranium in Iran, or a program to quickly develop it.

  1. Negotiate in bad faith…

Negotiations are often a preliminary means of posing as a dutiful and peace-loving member of the international community before you resort to force against your enemy. It is important not to be fooled by your own pretext of good faith. You must remember that negotiations are not about solutions, but about convincing onlookers that you have exhausted diplomacy in an effort to make the peace. This will nonetheless require extraordinary hypocrisy in order to properly vilify your rival.

How interesting it is that the West will take at face value the Hamas declaration that it wants to eliminate the state of Israel. In good faith, we say, we are taking them at their word. Yet when Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei issues a fatwa against the development and use of nuclear weapons, his sincerity is dismissed as transparent posturing. Likewise, when calls for policies of ethnic cleansing in Palestine appear, they too are brushed aside by Western nations, and their pliant press flacks.

Nor should it be forgotten that the U.S. violated the NPT by openly selling uranium to India, a non-signatory of the treaty. It also claimed Iraq was buying yellowcake uranium in Africa. Multiple efforts were made to discredit Iran during the Bush years. Not just that, but it is widely known that the Obama administration, having made peaceful overtures to Tehran, surreptitiously launched cyberattacks against it. But it is the mullahs who are not to be trusted, but perhaps rightly so, since their negotiating partner has acted so aggressively toward them.

Likewise, the West’s double standards must be a grave insult to Iran. America happily obliges Israel’s aberrant behavior. Tel Aviv can defy international accords and cloak its WMDs behind a “policy of deliberate ambiguity.” It can permanently derail efforts to create a nuclear-free Middle East. It can be the most violent and aggressive nation in the entire region. It can do all this and more, and no one in Washington will hold it to account because Israel can be trusted.

The arguments America makes against Tehran are transparently racist as well. Whether or not policymakers in Washington truly believe the Iranians are insane theocrats who wouldn’t hesitate to start a nuclear war, we don’t know. But we do know the tactic of claiming a people aren’t ready for self-rule is by now a threadbare cliché of American history. After the Spanish-American War, the U.S. decided that Cuba was unfit for democracy. Haiti and Guatemala were similarly oppressed by maintaining the flimsy pretext that such unenlightened tribes must first benefit from our benevolent oversight before being permitted a modicum of self-rule.

When 16 American intelligence agencies hold no active nuclear weapons program, and that its foreign policy was “a posture of deterrence,” why is it that Iran cannot be trusted with civilian nuclear power? Why is the trustworthy country the only one that has used nuclear weapons? Why is it Iran cannot be trusted when it hasn’t launched a war in centuries? Why is the West to be trusted when it has not only attacked Iran on the sly, but openly invaded its eastern and western neighbors as well? When it is openly conceded that U.S. ally Israel has threatened its program and murdered its scientists, no doubt with Washington’s approval? Why must the West be trusted when it has indicated on numerous occasions it is developing new and better nuclear weapons, and alarming rivals into action through aggressive military posturing? To be sure, the U.S. has admirably reduced its arsenal from 31,000 weapons in the late 1960s to under 5,000 weapons today. However, more than a thousand are actually deployed. There is little talk internationally about whether these new plans violate or undermine NPT agreements.

The relationship between disarmament and nonproliferation is important. As the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has insightfully noted, these are the bedrock principles of the NPT. They are interrelated in that the successful application of one will likely promote the success of the other. Likewise, a loose and negligent application of one will likely ensure the same in the other.

  1. Be opaque but insist on transparency…

Part of your job as an international dissimulator will be to claim your rival is dangerously unhinged while simultaneously disguising instances when you behaved in precisely the same manner. A cursory glance at the NPT itself will be helpful in this regard.

What is rarely mentioned in western media is the bizarre discrepancy between the obligations of nuclear states and non-nuclear states under the NPT. Nuclear states don’t have to comprehensively apply the safeguards to all of their sites. They can even except sites for reasons of national security. Non-Nuclear states have to make practically all of their facilities—even non-nuclear energy sites with the additional protocol—eligible for NPT safeguards.

In 2004 the U.S. adopted the Model Additional Protocol in a good-faith attempt to bring other NPT members on board. But they were of little consequence to the U.S. as it is a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) and must adhere to less stringent protocols than Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS).

Not only that, but the U.S. has, per its usual legalese, added two addendums to its adoption of the protocol, a corollary of the NPT’s exemption for NWS members, called by the U.S. a National Security Exemption (NSE). It lets the U.S. permit access to sites, activities, information, and additional locations, at its own discretion. A second addition limits the use of environmental sampling and the number of inspectors who can access a site.

Before Congress ratified it, the additional protocol was tagged with a letter from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) that stipulated, among other notes, that the NSE would be used regularly and repeatedly. It also, in an almost comical provision, insisted that the President ensure security and counterintelligence training will have been completed for any sites it plans to declare to the IAEA. Hirsch, in his excellent reading, questions whether these extra conditions amount to “reservations” that would indicate that the U.S. was not accepting the same provisos as NNWS members.

Compare that with the incredible access required under the additional and comprehensive protocols. Imagine America being asked, as one Iranian government official complained, for concessions that included “permissions for reconnaissance flights over our country and that their inspectors can enter anywhere, even the presidential palace.” (Note that an ‘undeclared’ American drone has already crashed in Iran.)

To date, some 72 members of the NPT have yet to adopt the additional protocols.

  1. Never forget the big picture…

Finally, one must always remember the big picture. If you lose faith, and ask yourself why you are behaving like a boorish tyrant, just recall the treasures that lay just over the horizon. Keep your eyes on the prize; it’s the geopolitical game that matters.

As regards the Middle East, there are long-term strategies afoot to divide and defang the Shiite Crescent that includes Lebanese, Syrian, and Iranian Shiite allies. Control over oil and gas fields in the Persian Gulf and Black and Caspian Seas are at stake, as is the fate of various competing pipeline projects of either Shiite or Sunni provenance. Dominion over energy will allow the U.S. and it’s global partners to force most of the world to denominate their fuel purchases in dollars. This will sustain the buck’s role as global reserve currency, which ensures that countries will buy up American debt, inadvertently funding its imperialist projects. And after all, nobody buys more oil than the U.S. military.

America will do all it can to assure that their Sunni proxies win these contests rather than the Moscow-backed Shiite coalition. In that regard, job one is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The idea is pure anathema to Washington. Everyone knows a bomb buys leverage. And a Shiite Crescent with leverage deeply undercuts American hegemony in the region. Hence the fairly continuous project to demonize Tehran. In this game, controlling the media narrative is critical, and all forms of slander and calumny are fair game.

In any event, the talks have been extended until next July. It wouldn’t require an extreme cynic to speculate that the seven-month extension serves U.S. interests by providing time for the ISIS debacle to play out, particularly in relation to Syria. Once the dust settles and the weather warms on that front, the West will be in a better position to decide whether it wants to opt for a military solution to its fabricated crisis with the Persians. To be sure, the international community—comprised of elites in Washington, New York, London, Paris and perhaps Riyadh—will affect the consternation of trusting but troubled Westerners, going to great lengths to persuade another rash and intemperate Muslim society to ‘join the international community.’ Once the media lapdogs paint a convincingly terrifying portrait of Iran for the edification of the masses, the wheels of war will begin to turn, legitimized by international sanction, prosecuted by the peacemakers.

Jason Hirthler is a writer, strategist, and 15-year veteran of the communications industry. He has written for many political communities. He lives and works in New York City. He can be reached at: jasonhirthler@gmail.com. Read other articles by Jason.