Tag Archives: Iran

My Congressman Is Wrong on Iran, Yours Might Be Too

By David Swanson
Global Research, July 15, 2015
Let’s Try Democracy, July 14, 2015

 

Trigger an "Accidental Confrontation" as a Pretext to Wage War on IranFor the United States to sit and talk and come to an agreement with a nation it has been antagonizing and demonizing since the dictator it installed in 1953 was overthrown in 1979 is historic and, I hope, precedent setting. Let’s seal this deal!

Four months ago the Washington Post published an op-ed headlined ‘War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option.’ It wasn’t. Defenders of war present war as a last resort, but when other options are tried the result is never war. We should carry this lesson over to several other parts of the world.

The time has come to remove the “missile defense” weaponry from Europe that was put there under the false pretense of protecting Europe from Iran. With that justification gone, U.S. aggression toward Russia will become damagingly apparent if this step is not taken. And the time has come for the nations that actually have nuclear weapons to join and/or comply with the nonproliferation treaty, which Iran was never actually in violation of.

In addition to the prevention of a massive bombing campaign in Syria that was prevented in 2013, a major recent success in war-lie-preparedness is the holding off, thus far, of a U.S. war on Iran — about which we’ve been told lies for decades now. The longer this debate goes on, the more it should become clear that there is no urgent emergency that might help justify mass killing. But the longer it goes on, the more some people may accept the idea that whether or not to gratuitously bomb a foreign nation is a perfectly legitimate policy question.

And the argument may also advance in the direction of favoring war for another reason: both sides of the debate promote most of the war lies. Yes, some peace groups are talking perfect sense on this issue as on most, but the debate between Democratic and Republican party loyalists and those in power is as follows. One side argues, quite illegally and barbarically, that because Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, Iran should be bombed. The other side argues, counterproductively if in a seemingly civilized manner, that because Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, a diplomatic agreement should be reached to put a stop to it. The trouble with both arguments is that they reinforce the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. As Gareth Porter makes clear in his book Manufactured Crisis, there is no evidence for that.

Both arguments also reinforce the idea that there is something about Iranians that makes them unqualified to have the sort of weapon that it’s alright to voluntarily spread to other nations. Of course, I don’t actually think it’s alright for anyone to have nuclear weapons or nuclear energy, but my point is the bias implicit in these arguments. It feeds the idea that Iranians are not civilized enough to speak with, even as one-half of the debate pushes for just that: speaking with the Iranians.

On the plus side, much of the push for a war on Iran was devoted for years to demonizing Iran’s president until Iran, for its own reasons, elected a different president, which threw a real monkey wrench into the gears of that old standby. Perhaps nations will learn the lesson that changing rulers can help fend off an attack as well as building weapons can. Also on the plus side, the ludicrous idea that Iran is a threat to the United States is very similar to the idea that Iraq was such a threat in 2002-2003. But on the negative side, memory of the Iraq war lies is already fading. Keeping past war lies well-remembered can be our best protection against new wars. Also on the negative side, even if people oppose a war on Iran, several billionaire funders of election campaigns favor one.

Will Congressman Robert Hurt who claims to represent me, and who got Syria right in 2013, commit to taking no funding from those warmongers? Here’s what Hurt had to say on Tuesday:

The Threat of a Nuclear Iran Persists

Dear Friend,

“The long-running nuclear negotiations with Iran and the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom finally reached a head early this morning. Even with the deal reached, I am skeptical that Iran will keep their word, act in good faith, and abide by the terms of the deal.

The deal is an INSPECTION arrangement, not based in any way on anybody trusting anyone.

I remain committed to the goal of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities because the prospect of Iran attaining the ability to produce a nuclear weapon is a grave threat to the world, and it is a very real possibility that this deal may only fuel Iran’s ability to expand its nuclear ambitions and facilitate its efforts to spread terror in the Middle East.

What nuclear ambitions? What terror? This from a Congressman who voted for pulling out U.S. forces on June 17th but has taken no further action and has funded the U.S. operation that is currently killing people in the Middle East?

Iranian leaders clearly remain focused on expanding their nuclear capabilities. They only want to do the bare minimum necessary to lift damaging international economic sanctions that have crippled their economy.

What mindreading feat is this based on? Where’s evidence? Haven’t we learned to demand it yet?

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

Not according to any world source, but rather the U.S. government which defines terrorism to suit its ends. The world disagrees.

The regime makes no secret of its longstanding commitment to see the demise of the United States and Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.

Then why don’t you point to a single scrap of evidence?

On Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke about the need to continue to fight against the “arrogant” U.S. regardless of the outcome of these talks. Allowing Iran to achieve the nuclear capabilities it seeks would pose an existential threat to Israel and the world.

There’s nothing there about the demise of the United States or Israel or the slightest evidence of Iran pursuing or threatening to use any weapon. Expecting people to believe otherwise seems a bit — if you’ll excuse me — arrogant.

Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and history, I remain unconvinced that Iran will act in good faith and adhere to any of the terms of a deal. Iran has been unwilling to make necessary compromises to meaningfully limit their nuclear program, and there is little reason to believe this will change. Reaching a deal just for the sake of doing so is not worth putting the safety and security of our allies and our country at risk; no deal is better than a dangerous deal.

Again, what ambitions? What history? Why the steady avoidance of documenting any claims? Iran is complying with restrictions not imposed on any other nation. How is that a refusal to compromise?

If this deal is in fact a bad one, the American people have a role to play in this process. In May, the President signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which would require congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran before the President can waive or suspend sanctions previously imposed by Congress. Now that an agreement has been reached, Congress has 60 days to review the agreement and pass a joint resolution to approve or disapprove of the deal. Should Congress disapprove the deal, the President would likely veto that measure, but Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.

The American people, in case you hadn’t noticed, favor the deal, including a majority of Democrats and a plurality of Republicans.

It is my hope that Congress will carefully consider the consequences of a deal with Iran and maintain its focus on the ultimate goal of eliminating the threat of a nuclear Iran. I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enhance the necessary sanctions against the Iranian regime. We must do everything within our power to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities.

Is that a proposal for war?

If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Anyone can tell their rep and senators to support the deal here.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org andWarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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Obama Plays US Foreign Policy Roulette

By Jim Dean
May 29, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

20120307220508964I don’t often get shocked in this business anymore but Obama’s first Arab publication interview with the Ashraq Al-Awsat newspaper did the trick. We took a giant leap from Iran finally being taken off the terrorism list as part of the nuclear talks progression, to being put back on it in what cannot have been an off the cuff remark.

“Iran clearly engages in dangerous and destabilizing behavior in different countries across the region. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism,” he told the newspaper. But he got worse. He used an old Israeli trick, accusing a target of doing what you are doing to them… destabilization with a twist of terrorism thrown in. Iran he says is supporting violent proxies in the region.

I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all not just a bad dream. Here we have the US through the CIA, along with the Saudis and Qatar funding, training and supplying entire terrorist armies in both Syria and Iraq, and he has the gall to call Iran a state sponsor of terror. You just can’t make this stuff up.

And if you want a quick study in the history of America using Islamic terror over several decades, go to William Engdahl’s NEO archive and read his excellent piece, What if Putin is telling the truth. Here is one quote from it, “The Saudi- and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure, and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre.”

For an American president after the first daddy Bush years to call Iran a state sponsor of terror is an outrage, when the victims of American and Saudi terror are hard to count. But the Brits, Israelis, Turks and the French all get honorable mentions.

The Obama staff people that pitched this brain dead idea should be shot, to remove them from the geopolitical gene pool. But statements like this are usually vetted by top people like the chief of staff and the national security advisor, and the top people at the State Department. They can’t all be crazy on the same day.

A lot of damage has been done here at a critical time in the nuclear talks. Allow me to explain. Iran has rightfully been concerned about a step by step removing of the sanctions with the stated reason being the US wants to monitor compliance. Iran had been pushing to keep the IAEA in that role, allowing expanded inspections. Meanwhile, back at the Zionist ranch, nuclear-tipped Israel gets to keep its position of no inspections at all.

Of course Iran’s concern is that the US could use this process to bail out of the agreement anytime it wanted by arbitrarily declaring Iran not in compliance. One example would be if the Republicans won the White House in 2016 and that loophole was open to them, would they wreck all the hard work of the agreement for their Israeli friends?
They would do so in a New York minute. Iran has not been assassinating American nuclear scientists, or hacking our nuclear facilities in a way that could cause a nuclear accident. If someone were to want that done here they would hire the Israelis to do it, as they have a long history of not being prosecuted for espionage here.

Obama is not alone in the shame blame. Congress is just tripping over itself, with one foreign policy humiliation after another. Bibi Netanyahu had them jumping around like the trained seal show at the circus. Our media has rolled over on the terror scams, by not fully reporting what we do, and suppressing real stories like Iran’s 17,000 terror victims, 12,000 of them murdered by the US and Israeli-sponsored MEK.

And there has been no public outcry about our foreign offensive quiver of color revolutions, regime change subversions, and false flag terror attacks, which have exposed innocent Americans to retaliation attacks. In fact, it seems that encouraging retaliation attacks is viewed as providing cover for our own offense.

Our own 9-11 was a glaring example of that. It kicked off a lightening speed removal of basic American freedoms, and a War on Terror that turned into a War OF Terror, including the looting of America by deficit financing in what turned out to be a war on America’s standard of living and future, an ongoing financial terror attack on our pocketbooks.

I have serious concerns over the US’ sincerity in decreasing Iran tensions, especially with this recent Obama political gaff. It was followed by some of the Camp David announcements, as in the US move to put a missile shield up in the Gulf States.

Last I heard they have been buying Patriot missiles for a long time. And if Israel went totally crazy — which all of us understand is certainly possible in Bibi-land — and launched a preemptive strike on Iran, and Iran retaliated, is the Gulf State missile shield really to protect Israel?

The most astounding statement involved selling the UAE “ground to ground missiles”. That would make the UAE a trip-wire offensive threat to Iran. Are the Gulf States being set up to be magnets for Iranian missiles if a shooting war ever developed so US targets would merely be one of many?

Why is it that the Russians are always talking about mutually assured security as a goal when the West, especially the US and Israel, like the preemptive strike doctrine on a target that has no retaliation capability? What country would voluntarily submit to that? Not Russia or China or Iran… and maybe not India, either.

When the West uses the term peace, it seems to mean, “We want to cool things off for a bit until we can find another way to nail you.” We heard the current version of this from the EU on keeping the Russian sanctions in place until the Minsk accords are fulfilled. Not a word was mentioned about Kiev’s troops now shelling civilian areas in Donetsk.
Sure, when Porky Poroshenko made the incredible statement that he wanted to retake the Donetsk airport to rebuild it and put up a monument to all the brave Ukrainian troops who were killed there, John Kerry had to spank him publicly for that. Missed in what was considered a magnanimous, statesmanlike comment from Kerry is that he has never denounced Kiev for its numerous ceasefire violations. Does he think we don’t notice that his saying nothing means America is okay with the violations?

Both the US and EU are playing their respective publics for fools with this “We’ll just blame the Russians for a failed deal.” While the fools in the West are pretending they are in the driver’s seat, Eurasia has observed their sordid behavior and is building another Great Wall against sanctions as fast as they can.

They are also planning mega infrastructure projects to develop their region independently of the West. Maybe what the West doesn’t really like about them is their anti-colonialist attitude. God bless them all for that — and hopefully the rest of us should take a lesson, as we are increasingly being treated like colonial subjects in our own countries.

Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Israeli Defense Minister Promises to Kill More Palestinian Civilians and Threatens to Nuke Iran

By Asa Winstanley
Global Research, May 8, 2015
Electronic Intifada, May 6, 2015

 

150506-yaalon

Image: Moshe Yaalon speaking at the 2015 Shurat HaDin conference.

Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday said Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Yaalon threatened that

“we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”

The Israeli official also appeared to threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, although he said “we are not there yet.”

In response to a question about Iran, Yaalon said that “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations” Israel might take “certain steps” such as the Americans did in “Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000.”

Relating a July 2013 meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Yaalon recalled promising Israel would bomb the entire Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

He showed Ban photos of villages in Lebanon and of “certain neighborhoods in Gaza, to include well-known Shujaiya, with many red spots” which he claimed were “terror assets in the densely populated urban area. And I said – July 2013 – we are going to hit it.”

Yaalon was true to his word. The Shujaiya massacre was among the most brutal examples of Israeli war crimes during last summer’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

Israel killed 2,257 Palestinians during the 51-day assault, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Of that number, OCHA says 70 percent were civilians, including 563 children (Defence for Children International–Palestine has documented 547 child deaths).

The 20 July 2014 attack on Shujaiya was the most bloody day of the war, when Israel bombed the entire neighborhood indiscriminately. Initial reports on the day said 60 bodies had been brought out of the rubble. Later reports suggested death tolls of 90 or 120.

Threat of BDS

The conference was titled “Towards a new law of war” and was intended to help Israel use “lawfare” to defend its crimes in courts around the world.

The other main theme of Yaalon’s speech, which closed the conference, was the “challenge” of BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions. The Palestinian-led global movement aims to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.

Yaalon sought to cast the grassroots activist movement as a kind of military front. He said that “delegitimization, BDS and lawfare” were just “another tool” in the war of Israel’s enemies.

He complained that he had been unable to visit European countries because of the possibility he could have been arrested for suspected war crimes under universal jurisdiction law: “I prefer not to go to [the] UK, to London for about 10 years, or to Spain for a while.”

“Collateral damage”

In 2011, under Israeli pressure, the UK government changed its laws to make it easier for Israeli war crimes suspects to visit the country. Although the changes have meant that several high-level Israeli politicians and military officers have been able to visit since, in 2013 retired Major-General Doron Almog canceled a visit to London because of an outstanding warrant for his arrest related to war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Yaalon lamented that Israeli soldiers now have to be taught that “we should be ready to give up a visit to London … but it’s not fair, it is not just.”

But, apparently referring to the law changes, he said they “found the common language to discuss these issues with our friends, with our allies.”

He also described criticism of Israel in international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council as a “war after the war” and advocated that “we should fight them back.”

He said there should be no investigations of Israeli soldiers just because of “collateral damage” – a euphemism for the killing of civilians.

“Lawfare” conference

The conference was organized by Shurat HaDin, a group of Israeli lawyers which is at the forefront of using courts around the world to defend Israeli war crimes, and attack Palestine solidarity groups.

In 2013, as I reported for The Electronic Intifada at the time, it was revealed that the group has extremely close ties to the Israeli security establishment, to the extent of acting as a proxy group for the Mossad, Israel’s deadly overseas spy agency.

During his speech Yaalon heaped effusive praise on Shurat HaDin and its leader Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. He thanked the group

“for the activities of Shurat HaDin fighting one of Israel’s challenges of today, the lawfare, BDS, delegitimzation of the state of Israel … Nitsana thank you very much for what you are doing for the state of Israel.”

He said Israel and its supporters should use courts around the world “to fight them back,” meaning critics of Israel, and that this is exactly what Shurat HaDin does.

Hasbara is not the right term,” he continued in the question and answer session, “it’s a war … Each of us can become to be a warrior in this war. By talkbacking, by blogging, by disseminating articles, by raising our case.”

Hasbara (literally “explanation” in Hebrew) is the Israeli term for propaganda.

Justifying Israeli attacks on civilians was the main theme of the conference. Speaker after speaker lined up to reinterpret international law so that it would, supposedly, allow the killing of Palestinian and other Arab civilians.

This was justified with familiar canards about the supposed use by Palestinian resistance factions of “human shields,” which then inevitably results in Palestinian civilian dead. In other words, Israel was being forced to kill civilians.

Yaalon did similar by saying that the civilian neighborhoods Israel had bombed had contained “rocket rooms.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Yaalon is likely to continue as defense minister in the newly-agreed government headed by his Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in coalition with the Jewish Home and other ultra-right-wing parties.

The Electronic Intifada watched the entire conference by livestream and will be reporting more detail soon.

Yemen’s Shiite Rebels Are Not Iran Proxies: US Intelligence Officials

By Joseph Fitsanakis
Global Research, April 24, 2015
intelNews.org, April 23, 2015

 

map-yemenAmerican intelligence officials have cautioned against the popular narrative that Yemen’s Shiite rebels are proxies or Iran, noting that Tehran actually counseled them against conquering Yemeni capital Sana’a last year. Known as Houthis, the group formally calls itself Ansar Allah (Supporters of God) and consists almost exclusively of Zaidi tribesmen, who follow an obscure form of Shia Islam. Their denomination, which distinguishes them from Yemen’s Sunni majority, shapes their ethnic identity and has helped fuel their 20-year insurgency against the Yemeni state. In September of last year, Houthi rebels, taking advantage of the chaos caused by the spillover of the Arab Spring into Yemen, marched into Sana’a, which had been virtually abandoned by the government’s security forces, and took it over.

The surprising move caused many in the Middle East to accuse Iran, whose Shiite government maintains strong religious and ideological connections with Yemen’s Zaidi community, of using the Houthis as a proxy army in order to destabilize Saudi Arabia’s southern regions. The latter are also populated by Shiite tribes, who are ethnically affiliated with the Houthis and view Iran as a kind of spiritual homeland. In Washington, the alleged Iranian link to the Houthi insurgency has been pointed to repeatedly by lawmakers opposed to the recent agreement between the Islamic Republic and a group of nations that have come to be known as P5+1, representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. The lawmakers argue that, while nominally agreeing to end its nuclear program, Tehran has been secretly conspiring to destabilize the entire Arabian Peninsula.

However, a report in online news agency The Huffington Post said on Monday that American intelligence officials are far from convinced that Iran is actually directing the Houthi insurgency. Citing “American officials familiar with intelligence” operations in Yemen, the New York-based news agency said Iran actively opposed the Houthis’ advance on the Yemeni capital in September of last year, and tried to prevent it. The Houthis, however, simply ignored Tehran’s advice and took over Sana’a. The Huffington Post quotes one unnamed American intelligence official who says that “it is wrong to think of the Houthis as a proxy force of Iran”. The article also quotes Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the United States National Security Council, who says that “it remains [the NSC’s] assessment that Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen”.

If it is accurate, the US intelligence assessment would mean that Tehran is far more interested in promoting its agreement with the P5+1 than commandeering a proxy war in Yemen. Additionally, those who suggest that Yemen’s Houthis are guided by Iran appear to ignore the fact that the Zaidis follow a branch of Shiite Islam that differs markedly from Iran’s. Knowledgeable observers have pointed out that the Houthi insurgency is far more concerned with combatting local government corruption and having a say in the country’s internal power struggles than promoting Shiite Islam in Yemen and beyond.

A Paper Peace and Proxy War With Iran

By Shamus Cooke
April 23, 2015
Global Research

 

Obama utilise le sommet sur le nucléaire pour brandir de nouvelles menaces contre la Corée du Nord et l'IranObama’s foreign policy is bound in a thousand knots, all threatening to unwind. At the same time that the U.S. is engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran the two are fighting proxy wars against each other in Yemen and Syria.  

Which begs the question: are the nuclear talks with Iran really that meaningful, if war is what’s practiced?  

Yes, Obama has overcome the objections of the Republicans and the Israeli lobby to pursue the negotiations with Iran. But bombs speak louder than treaties.

Now Obama has turned up the Yemeni war-dial by announcing the U.S. Navy is being parked off the coast of Yemen to tighten the naval blockade, itself an act of war. Interestingly, the media was told explicitly that the U.S. Navy’s presence was directed against Iran to prevent weapon shipments from Iran to the Yemeni Houthis that now rule most of the country.

At the same time that Obama is preventing the Houthis from being armed, he is pouring military hardware into Saudi Arabia, who’s using it to bomb Yemen to smithereens, killing hundreds of civilians in the process (the Saudis recently announced an end to their ineffective bombing campaign).

And for what? The stated goal of the Saudi-U.S. war on Yemen is to re-instate the hated Yemeni dictator, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has no political legitimacy or socical support inside of Yemen. The Houthis have much broader support than Hadi ever had.

But attacking the Houthis is “necessary” — from the Saudi-U.S. perspective — because the Houthis receive backing from Iran, not because the Houthis are “terrorists.” In fact, the Houthi’s sworn enemy is al-Qaeda, which the Houthis have battled a thousand times more effectively than Obama’s failed drone assassination program that killed hundreds of Yemeni civilians. But instead of helping the Houthis finish off al-Qaeda, Obama is helping Saudi Arabia attack the Houthis.

It’s a terrible misnomer to label the current Yemeni conflict as a Saudi war. The Saudi’s military is completely funded, trained, and directed by the U.S. military. The Saudi military doesn’t sneeze unless it has U.S. permission. And the Saudis would be unable to wage this war without the key additional U.S. support, including refueling Saudi aircraft and directing the warplanes where to bomb.

In short, Obama could end this war with one public statement demanding Saudi Arabia cease and desist. War over.

But instead, the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen was allowed to deepen into a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.S.-Saudi forces have essentially blockaded the entire country, preventing anything from coming and going in Yemen, meaning that fuel, food, and basic medical supplies are evaporating.

According to an Oxfam spokesperson:

“…land, sea and air routes must be re-opened [in Yemen] to allow basic commodities like food, fuel and medical supplies to reach millions in desperate need.”

Which brings us back to Iran. It’s difficult to predict Obama’s intentions in participating in “historic” nuclear talks with Iran, while the Yemen and Syria wars continue. Many have argued that Obama’s Iran policy is part of a fundamental shift in his Middle East policy, which is an attempt to become less dependent on Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But ultimately — as the war in Yemen proves — the U.S. will continue to prioritize Saudi Arabia and Israel over Iran. The reason is simple: U.S. foreign policy depends on allies willing to do basically whatever the U.S. wants, a kind of alliance that is rare and takes years to foster and maintain. Unlike the stalwart Saudis and other Gulf monarchy dictatorships, no one expects the Iranians to become subservient to U.S. foreign policy.

Furthermore, the current “strong allies” of the U.S. all view Iran as an “existential” enemy, by virtue of historic, religious, and most importantly, economic rivalries. Iran is a regional power in a region of competing regional powers, most notably Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel, and all want Iran destroyed so they can scavenge the carcass.

A key reason why Obama’s allies agreed to the ongoing catastrophic proxy war in Syria was that it was viewed as a first step in crushing Iran.  But the Syrian war blow back has sent millions of refugees across the Middle East and fostered the rise of the so-called Islamic State.

And while the Obama administration has hidden his hand in these regional wars, his administration remains the “decider” of Middle East foreign policy. The U.S. is directing its allies in the region after flooding the world with a historic amount of weapons.

According to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy:

“… the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II.”

The Obama administration has been arming Iran’s enemies while speaking soothing rhetoric to mislead the American public into thinking he’s practicing peace. But when actions and words collide so viciously the truth eventually explodes the lie.

The regional wars in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq are pushing the entire region even closer to an even-broader regional war with incalculable consequences. Any peace in these circumstances will require a much deeper and concrete proposal than what is being discussed in the Iranian negotiations, the success of which remain in doubt.

Even if a nuclear deal is reached with Iran, the wheels have already been set in motion in the Middle East. There will be no sudden shifts in alliances when there are tens of billions of dollars in arms sales in place and countless diplomatic agreements cemented, and there will be no peace when decrepit regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel are armed to the teeth and hungry for war.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com 

 

Worrying Rise of US Weapon Sales Greeted by a Middle East Engulfed in War

Conflicts and war across the region, says one analyst, ‘have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other.’

By Jon Queally
April 21, 2015
Common Dreams

 

An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the Golden Warriors of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (Photo: US Navy)

An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the Golden Warriors of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (Photo: US Navy)

Conflicts and war across the region, says one analyst, ‘have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other.’

With ongoing wars and armed conflicts currently underway across the Middle East, South Asia, and large portions of Africa, the role that U.S. weapons makers play across the region was highlighted in weekend reporting by the New York Times, which showed how the drive for corporate profits has unleashed an arms race with perilous human consequences and no end in sight for people living in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere.

“As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more,” the Times reports. “The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.”

With a loosening of arms sales to many of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations—including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt—the Timesshows how an influx of advanced weaponry, such as missiles, fighter jets, and drones, is having a direct impact on both the simmering and broiling conflicts that have engulfed the region in recent years.

According to the Times:

Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on weaponry last year — the most ever, and more than either France or Britain — and has become the world’s fourth-largest defense market, according to figures released last week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global military spending. The Emirates spent nearly $23 billion last year, more than three times what they spent in 2006.

Qatar, another gulf country with bulging coffers and a desire to assert its influence around the Middle East, is on a shopping spree. Last year, Qatar signed an $11 billion deal with the Pentagon to purchase Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems. Now the tiny nation is hoping to make a large purchase of Boeing F-15 fighters to replace its aging fleet of French Mirage jets. Qatari officials are expected to present the Obama administration with a wish list of advanced weapons before they come to Washington next month for meetings with other gulf nations.

American defense firms are following the money. Boeing opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in 2011, and Lockheed Martin set up an office there this year. Lockheed created a division in 2013 devoted solely to foreign military sales, and the company’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, has said that Lockheed needs to increase foreign business — with a goal of global arms sales’ becoming 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue — in part to offset the shrinking of the Pentagon budget after the post-Sept. 11 boom.

American intelligence agencies believe that the proxy wars in the Middle East could last for years, which will make countries in the region even more eager for the F-35 fighter jet, considered to be the jewel of America’s future arsenal of weapons. The plane, the world’s most expensive weapons project, has stealth capabilities and has been marketed heavily to European and Asian allies. It has not yet been peddled to Arab allies because of concerns about preserving Israel’s military edge.

For critics of the weapons industry and the support they receive from the U.S. government—which sanctions and paves the way for such sales—the trend is a deeply troubling one.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Times he views the increase in arms sales to the region “with a great deal of trepidation, as it is leading to an escalation in the type and number and sophistication in the weaponry in these countries.”

Sharif Nashashibi, an award-winning journalist and expert on the Middle East region, noted in a Sunday column in the Middle East Eye that though war-profiteering is anything but new, the current scale of the problem is worrying. “Weapons exports provide massive economic benefits,” notes Nashashibi, “which translate to political benefits, domestically and in terms of influence with clients. The Middle East and North Africa has long been a theatre of combat—often on numerous fronts—and hence among the most lucrative markets on the planet. However, weapons purchases have skyrocketed in recent years as unrest, tension and war between and within states have increased markedly.”

He continued:

Arms suppliers derive maximum benefit from just the right amount of destabilisation: enough to make clients bulk-buy, but not enough to existentially threaten them or disrupt energy supplies. That is why, for example, the US profited so immensely from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s – it armed both sides, resulting in a war of attrition that lasted almost a decade.

Similarly, the Arab Spring, Arab-Iranian tensions and the rise of the Islamic State, among other current crises, have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other. Operation Decisive Storm over Yemen will no doubt add to the buying frenzy.

Also responding to the Times‘ latest reporting was journalist and analyst Richard Silverstein. Writing in Sunday’s Eurasia Review, he questioned the overall strategy of U.S. military intervention and weapons proliferation throughout the Middle East, which he argues has been not only counter-productive, but “almost universally deadly.”

With specific attention to the legacy of President Obama, Silverstein added:

We’ve been responsible for the deaths of millions in the past decade.  Why do we continue with policies which have failed so miserably?  Do you remember Obama’s “famed” Cairo speech of 2008?  We were going to bring a new form of engagement to the Arab world.  One not based on military might or dictating our political views or values.  We were going to treat the Arab states as partners.

Whatever happened to that Obama?  How did he turn into the president whose sole policy seems to be sending drones to kill Islamists and many unarmed civilians?  Now, he wants to become the president who presided over a U.S. weapons fire sale there.  The leader who confirmed that America’s become “War Inc.”

And as William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, wrote in piece that appeared on Common Dreams in October, “If there’s one thing we should have learned over the past 13 years of war, it’s that war is good business for those in the business of war.”

As Nashashibi concludes, it should be no surprise that when it comes to the U.S. government, “the talk these days is of cooperation with the region’s autocrats—they are the ones buying the most weapons. A democratic, peaceful Middle East and North Africa is far less profitable. Arms exporters will never say so, but peace does not pay the bills.”

Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia

America’s Start is Setting

By Mike Whitney
April 20, 2015
Counter Punch

 

“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests…..We must, however, be mindful that…Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.”

The Wolfowitz Doctrine, the original version of the Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

-THE GRAND CHESSBOARD – American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, page 30, Basic Books, 1997

The Laussanne negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany) have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. They are, in fact, another attempt to weaken and isolate Russia by easing sanctions, thus allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe. Laussanne shows that Washington still thinks that the greatest threat to its dominance is the further economic integration of Russia and Europe, a massive two-continent free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok that would eventually dwarf dwindling US GDP while decisively shifting the balance of global power to Asia. To counter that threat, the Obama administration toppled the elected government of Ukraine in a violent coup, launched a speculative attack on the ruble, forced down global oil prices, and is presently arming and training neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian army. Washington has done everything in its power to undermine relations between the EU and Russia risking even nuclear war in its effort to separate the natural trading partners and to strategically situate itself in a location where it can control the flow of vital resources from East to West.

Laussanne was about strategic priorities not nukes. The Obama administration realizes that if it can’t find an alternate source of gas for Europe, then its blockade of Russia will fail and the EU-Russia alliance will grow stronger. And if the EU-Russia alliance grows stronger, then US attempts to extend its tentacles into Asia and become a major player in the world’s most prosperous region will also fail leaving Washington to face a dismal future in which the steady erosion of its power and prestige is a near certainty. This is from an article titled “Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan”:

“If Washington removes energy sanctions on Iran…then a new geopolitical configuration will emerge in the region. Connecting with Nabucco will be enough for Iran to fully supply Europe with gas…

Iran takes the floor with inexhaustible oil and gas reserves and as a key transit country. Iran disposes of the 10% of the reported global oil reserves and is the second country in the world after Russia with its natural gas reserves (15%). The official representatives of Iran do not hide that they strive to enter the European market of oil and gas, as in the olden days. Let’s remember that the deputy Minister of Oil in Iran, Ali Majedi, offered to revive project of Nabucco pipeline during his European tour and said that his country is ready to supply gas to Europe through it…

“Some months earlier the same Ali Majedi reported sensational news: ‘two invited European delegations’ discussed the potential routes of Iranian gas supply to Europe,” the article reads.” … It is also noted that the West quite materially reacted to the possibility of the Iranian gas to join Nabucco.” (Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan, Panorama)

So, is this the plan, to provide “energy security” to Europe by replacing Russian gas with Iranian gas?

It sure looks like it. But that suggests that the sanctions really had nothing to do with Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons program but were merely used to humiliate Iran while keeping as much of its oil and gas offline until western-backed multinationals could get their greasy mitts on it.

Indeed, that’s exactly how the sanctions were used even though the nuclear issue was a transparent fake from the get go. Get a load of this from the New York Times:

“Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.” (U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb, James Risen, New York Times, February 24, 2012)

See? The entire US intelligence establishment has been saying the same thing from the onset: No Iranian nukes. Nor has Iran ever been caught diverting nuclear fuel to other purposes. Never. Also, as nuclear weapons physicist, Gordon Prather stated many times before his death, “After almost three years of go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has — or ever had — a nuclear weapons program.”

The inspectors were on the ground for three freaking years. They interviewed everyone and went wherever they wanted. They searched every cave and hideaway, every nook and cranny, and they found nothing.

Get it? No nukes, not now, not ever. Period.

The case against Iran is built on propaganda, brainwashing and bullshit, in that order. But, still, that doesn’t tell us why the US is suddenly changing course. For that, we turn to an article from The Brookings Institute titled “Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter” which sums it up quite well. Here’s a clip:

“At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. Proponents of the deal believe that the best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to seek to integrate Iran into the regional order, even while remaining wary of its ambitions. A nuclear deal is an important first step in that regard, but its details matter little because the ultimate goal is to change Iranian intentions rather destroy Iranian capability.” (Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter, Brookings)

Notice how carefully the author avoids mentioning Israel by name although he alludes to “the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies”. Does he think he’s talking to idiots?

But his point is well taken; the real issue is not “Iranian capability”, but “Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East”. In other words, the nuclear issue is baloney. What Washington doesn’t like is that Iran has an independent foreign policy that conflicts with the US goal of controlling the Middle East. That’s what’s really going on. Washington wants a compliant Iran that clicks its heals and does what its told.

The problem is, the strategy hasn’t worked and now the US is embroiled in a confrontation with Moscow that is a higher priority than the Middle East project. (The split between US elites on this matter has been interesting to watch, with the Obama-Brzezinski crowd on one side and the McCain-neocon crowd on the other.) This is why the author thinks that easing sanctions and integrating Iran into the predominantly US system would be the preferable remedy for at least the short term.

Repeat: “The best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to integrate Iran into the regional order.” In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em. Iran is going to be given enough freedom to fulfill its role within the imperial order, that is, to provide gas to Europe in order to inflict more economic pain on Russia. Isn’t that what’s going on?

But what effect will that have on Iran-Russia relations? Will it poison the well and turn one ally against the other?

Probably not, mainly because the ties between Iran and Russia are growing stronger by the day. Check this out from the Unz Review by Philip Giraldi:

“Moscow and Tehran are moving towards a de-facto strategic partnership, which can be easily seen by the two groundbreaking announcements from earlier this week. It’s now been confirmed by the Russian government that the rumored oil-for-goods program between Russia and Iran is actually a real policy that’s already been implemented, showing that Moscow has wasted no time in trying to court the Iranian market after the proto-deal was agreed to a week earlier. Providing goods in exchange for resources is a strategic decision that creates valuable return customers in Iran, who will then be in need of maintenance and spare parts for their products. It’s also a sign of deep friendship between the two Caspian neighbors and sets the groundwork for the tentative North-South economic corridor between Russia and India via Iran.” (A Shifting Narrative on Iran, Unz Review)

But here’s the glitch: Iran can’t just turn on the spigot and start pumping gas to Europe. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to take massive pipeline and infrastructure upgrades that could take years to develop. That means there will be plenty of hefty contracts awarded to friends of Tehran –mostly Russian and Chinese–who will perform their tasks without interfering in domestic politics. Check this out from Pepe Escobar:

“Russia and China are deeply committed to integrating Iran into their Eurasian vision. Iran may finally be admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summer summit in Russia. That implies a full-fledged security/commercial/political partnership involving Russia, China, Iran and most Central Asian ’stans’.

Iran is already a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); that means financing for an array of New Silk Road-related projects bound to benefit the Iranian economy. AIIB funding will certainly merge with loans and other assistance for infrastructure development related to the Chinese-established Silk Road Fund…” (Russia, China, Iran: In sync, Pepe Escobar, Russia Today)

Get the picture? Eurasian integration is already done-deal and there’s nothing the US can do to stop it.

Washington needs to rethink its approach. Stop the meddling and antagonism, rebuild relations through trade and mutual trust, and accept the inevitability of imperial decline.

Asia’s star is rising just as America’s is setting. Deal with it.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.