The Nether-World

June 5, 2007

The New Cold War

Filed under: Russia, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:21 pm

Remember “Protect and Survive“, the ridiculous government information pack that told us how we might survive a nuclear attack by doing stuff like painting our windows white? I wonder if it’s going to be reissued. It’s not time to start diving under tables yet but one of the legacies of the Bush and Blair era seems to be a return to the Cold War. That’s quite an achievement after a well over a decade of thawing relationships with Russia. This comes, of course, with the news that President Putin of Russia has threatened to target European cities with nuclear weapons if America goes ahead with its missile defence shield which would include installations of radar and missile batteries in the Czech Republic and Poland. The relationship between the USA and Russia has been deteriorating for a while now, largely because of America’s insistence on continuing with this lunatic program, which Russia obviously sees as a threat, but also for other reasons. Indeed, things have got so bad that Condoleezza Rice, a supposed expert on the Cold War, had to deny last month that a new Cold War was taking place and then two weeks later accuse Russia of having a Cold War mentality. This was before Putin’s recent announcement, if Russian missiles are going to be aimed at us it will be hard to dismiss the idea that we are returning to the bad old days before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bush’s continued insistence that the proposed missile shield is not against Russia and is merely a defence against North Korean or Iranian attacks is not believed in Russia as neither country has the capacity to successfully target the USA. Russia’s argument against this seems quite reasonable. After all, how would the USA react if missiles were placed in a neighbouring country with a string of assurances that it was defence against some other state? Using Bush’s logic, all Castro and Khrushchev would have needed to do in 1962 is insist that the missiles in Cuba were a precaution against a possible attack from Canada. Tony Blair was always enthusiastic about the missile shield and lobbied for parts of to be installed in Britain making the country a potential target.

At the heart of all this is the neocon credo of “Full Spectrum Dominance“, an unrealistic plan for America to have total control of land, sea, air and space. This is what Tony Blair approvingly refers to as a “unipolar world”. To most other people it’s simply an empire and is already pretty much scuppered as a plan. America can only get away with this kind of dominance if compliant states let it and Russia has now drawn a line in the sand. Obviously this will cause the Bush administration to go into one of its periodic episodes of chest-thumping histrionics but in reality there is little it can do other than either back down or resign itself to this new reality.

If this is a new Cold War, there are some differences from the last one. The Soviet Union was bankrupted by the arms race which America started. The new Russia, on the other hand, has some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, a commodity desperately needed in Europe and we have already seen how Russia can use this resource as a weapon. This will make it somewhat harder for European countries to fall into line with every insane command from the White House. The stark reality is Europe needs to maintain good relations with Russia or face a severe energy crisis.

That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate disputes with Russia that need resolving. Among these is the fate of Kosovo which might be solvable, and the trail of contamination left across London from the polonium 210 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko which probably won’t be solved. For its part, Russia has genuine security concerns. Not only is it angry over the so-called defence shield, it is also angry about the broken promises concerning NATO expansion into eastern Europe.

What we seem to be presented with is two choices, neither of which are particularly appealing. The first is the unipolar world Blair is so enthusiastic about where America is the only power on the planet and we all ally ourselves to America’s benevolent protection and defer any disputes over to its jurisdiction secure in the knowledge that it will always act fairly and impartially as we have seen so often. The other option is the Bipolar world where another power (Russia in this case) acts as a counter-balance to American hegemony resulting in America’s allies having nuclear weapons pointed at them as we experienced in the last Cold War. There is a third option, and I’m not sure if this is any more appealing than the other two. That is a multi-polar word where there are several superpowers that can keep each other in check. Obviously this still means that someone or other will still be pointing missiles at us but it might allow us a bit more independence from the de facto occupation of so much of the world (particularly Europe) by American forces. This would mean that Europe would have to stand up on its own two feet and refuse to be a pawn in a game between America and Russia. I think this is eventually what we may end up with as China also flexes its muscles. The downside is that this all sounds very 1984 with three large blocks permanently at war with just the alliances changing from time to time. There don’t seem to be many other alternatives at present. Nuclear weapons are not going to be un invented, some states will always be more powerful than others and alliances will always be formed and broken. Also, the prospect of further conflicts is very real the more scarce the World’s resources get.

How ironic that the destruction of Iraq over fictitious WMD and the sabre rattling with Iran over potential WMD has led to a serious threat of real WMD raining down on Europe’s cities as the world’s last superpower insists on pointing its WMD at Russia. And what a coincidence that this current crisis flared up shortly after Britain decided to renew its Trident WMD program. No doubt we will now be told that with Russian missiles aimed at London, renewing Trident was the correct decision and the original cause for this new arms race (America’s provocation of Russia) will be glossed over.

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June 3, 2007

Iraq Update

Filed under: Bush, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 12:01 pm

It’s been a while since I posted anything on Iraq. There doesn’t seem much point in relaying the latest horrors here as they are always superceded by new ones, but it is worth looking at some of the broader developments. First off, General Sir Michael Rose has come out with what may be his strongest statement yet on the futility of a continued coalition presence in Iraq.

“There is no way we are going to win the war and (we should) withdraw and accept defeat because we are going to lose on a more important level if we don’t,” he said.

Well obviously many of us have been saying this for years, but will anyone listen to this senior military officer who has been saying things like this for a while now. There is going to be a reduction of British troops we are told, but Gordon Brown hasn’t specifically said anything about a full withdrawal yet. On the other side of the pond retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez has echoed General Sir Michael Rose by saying that the United States can forget about winning the war.

“I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will – not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat,” retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said in an interview.

As for the Bush administration, well they are certainly not listening. America is digging in and plans to stay for at least 50 years it seems.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and a senior U.S. commander said yesterday that they favor a protracted U.S. troop presence in Iraq along the lines of the military stabilization force in South Korea.

Gates told reporters in Hawaii that he is thinking of “a mutual agreement” with Iraq in which “some force of Americans . . . is present for a protracted period of time, but in ways that are protective of the sovereignty of the host government.” Gates said such a long-term U.S. presence would assure allies in the Middle East that the United States will not withdraw from Iraq as it did from Vietnam, “lock, stock and barrel.”

Hmmm, does anyone remember what Donald Rumsfeld was saying at the start of all this?

“It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months,” he said, speaking at the American air base at Aviano, in northern Italy.

Of course Dubya keeps on insisting that US troops are occupying Iraq at the invitation of the ‘sovereign’ Iraqi government.

We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It’s their government’s choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.

The thing is the majority of members of the Iraqi parliament are saying “Leave”. Bush isn’t worried by such a trifling detail however and is pressing ahead with the long term occupation. After all, he still has an obedient Nouri al-Maliki to repeat the increasingly threadbare spin.

The U.S.-backed Shiite leader also dismissed concerns that U.S. forces would stay in Iraq for 50 years following a White House comparison to the U.S. presence in South Korea.


“This is baseless because this matter is up to the Iraqi people and the government, and the Iraqi people did not make a decision yet, and discussion on this matter did not take place,” al-Maliki said.

I wonder why that discussion hasn’t yet taken place. From the same source we learn that Turkey is massing its troops on its border with northern Iraq in preparation for a possible military incursion against Kurdish separatists. Somehow Mr al-Maliki’s warning to Turkey seems a little hollow.

“Secondly, the Iraqi territory should be respected, and we will not allow it to become a battleground,” he added. “As we don’t want to harm neighboring countries, so we don’t want the others to enter the Iraqi territory with a military incursion or fight of any kind.”

You what? It’s a bit late to start complaining now about foreign armies entering Iraq isn’t it? Just what the mighty Iraqi army would do in the event of a Turkish incursion is an interesting question. A more interesting question is what would the Americans do? Turkey and Iran are both concerned about Kurdish separatists but Turkey is allied with the USA whereas Iran is enemy number one. America wouldn’t want anything to interfere with the enormous fortress they are having constructed for them at such a cost in lives and money (about the only thing that is being built in Iraq). The plans for the new ’embassy’ were hurriedly removed from the architect’s website we are told because the State department does not want them to be in the public domain. Could these be the plans and drawings they are so worried about? It doesn’t look like a temporary installation does it?

Meanwhile the bombing of Iraqis by the USAF continues with very little reporting on it. May saw The US military’s highest casualty rate since November 2004.The ‘surge’  seems to be every bit the failure it was predicted it would be. Six out of ten Americans now believe the war was a mistake (you really have to wonder about the other four in ten). Perhaps it’s this siege mentality which is making the Democrats cave in to every demand made by the idiot in chief and making them look identical to their Republican ‘rivals’.

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April 21, 2007

What John McCain Would Do If He Became President

Filed under: Iran, US Politics — netherworld @ 4:56 am

Just when you thought the Republicans couldn’t get any more stupid…

And John McCain’s response when criticised for his wit? “Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans’ friends,” he said. “My response is, lighten up and get a life.” Maybe that should be “lighten up and take a life”. John McCain is getting quite a reputation for being an idiot these days.

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March 28, 2007

Diplomacy, Dishmomacy

Filed under: israel, Palestine, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:51 am

It is no great secret that Condoleezza Rice isn’t exactly the most successful of diplomats – especially when it comes to trying to solve the torturous Israel/Palestine conflict. Her obvious bias towards Israel means that more often than not she returns empty-handed from her numerous jaunts to the region. Her latest escapade was no exception. The difference this time, however, is that now Condi is being rebuffed not just by the Palestinians, who she can’t seem to convince to recognise the state that is continually stealing their land, but also by the Israelis, who don’t seem to be able to accept any form of compromise.

An Israeli journalist I spoke to was dismissive as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Jerusalem this morning.

“Diplomacy, dishmomacy,” were his actual words.

This was Ms Rice’s seventh visit to the region over the last few months.

A lot of talk, little to show for it, is the accepted wisdom amongst most Israelis and Palestinians.

Hmmm, not a very promising start is it? Worse still, Israel has refused Condi’s offer to act as a negotiator between it and the Palestinians in what The Daily Telegraph calls a humiliating snub.

Condoleezza Rice received a humiliating snub from Israel yesterday when it refused her offer to act as negotiator between its government and the Palestinian authorities.

The US secretary of state, who was attempting to start final status talks on the creation of a Palestinian state during a visit to Jerusalem, was forced to postpone a press conference planned on Monday evening after tense talks with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister.

Well if Israel won’t trust its best friend to conduct negotiations, it does beg the question: who will it trust? One thing Condoleezza did manage to take away from her visit is a commitment for Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert to meet once a fortnight to discuss security issues which may later lead to discussions about the formation of a Palestinian state. A positive development no doubt, but slim pickings for America which desperately needs a success story in the region to detract attention from its appalling failure in Iraq and to get support for its attack on Iran.

Needless to say, Arab leaders were less than impressed with Condoleezza’s appeal to them to ‘reach out to Israel‘. The idea here is that all the Arab countries recognise Israel and normalise relations with it without Israel being compelled to make any reciprocal moves. If she thought that was going to work then she really must be very naive to assume that Arabs would be so gullible as to fall for that trick. After all, Israel won’t even recognise the new unity government in Palestine. America on the other hand, seems at last to be realising that the unity government is at least a promising compromise and, though it won’t deal directly with it, is offering some support (to Abbas anyway). Perhaps this is the cause of the tension between Condi and Olmert.

All this diplomacy comes, of course, on the eve of an important summit among Arab leaders in Riyadh. The focus of this summit is to revive the peace plan proposed by the Saudis in 2002 in which all the 22 countries in the Arab League would recognise Israel and normalise relations with it in return for Israel withdrawing back to the borders it had prior to the 1967 war. This would make it possible for the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. When this plan was first proposed, it was immediately rejected by the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The timing of the original proposal was unfortunate as the Palestinian second intifada was raging and suicide bombings were taking place in Israel. Also this was only a year after 9/11 and at the height of the build up to the Iraq war (Saddam Hussein was one of the Arab League members prepared to recognise Israel). Relations between Saudi Arabia and America had soured somewhat and the plan was seen as an attempt to improve things.

“I wanted to find a way to make clear to the Israeli people that the Arabs don’t reject or despise them,” Abdullah said at the time. “But the Arab people do reject what their leadership is now doing to the Palestinians, which is inhumane and oppressive. And I thought of this as a possible signal to the Israeli people.”

The political climate in the region now is just as tense (if not more so) but the dynamics are different. Iran is seen as the big threat now and powerful Sunni states like Saudi Arabia don’t wish to see Shia Iranian influence spread into Palestine. Israel and Saudi Arabia share this fear of Iran as does the USA, of course. It was Saudi Arabia which managed to broker the deal between Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government. Perhaps this is a good time to revive this five year-old peace plan. The big question of course is what will Israel’s reaction to it be? So far, Ehud Olmert’s response hasn’t been the outright rejection of his predecessor. He has said there are “positive elements” in it worth pursuing. But this is hardly the ringing endorsement needed to carry the plan forward. This is the sort of language we frequently hear from Ehud Olmert. Israel has reservations about withdrawing from all the illegally captured territory which would obviously mean dismantling the illegal settlements (even Shimon Peres, Israel’s deputy prime minister has said that the presence of Jewish settlers inside the West Bank city of Hebron has created an “unbearable situation“). It also objects to Arab East Jerusalem being part of a Palestinian state and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. In other words, the only part of the plan it likes is the recognition of Israel by the Arab states and normalisation of relations. But the problem isn’t going away and appeasing Israel’s territorial desires hasn’t eased the situation at all.

In the absence of any other workable plan, this one might be a reasonable starting point. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud al-Faisal has made it quite clear that this is the only way for Israel to have peace with its neighbours.

“What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done,” he said. “So now it is up to the other side because if you want peace, it is not enough for one side only to want it. Both sides must want it equally.”


“If Israel refuses, that means it doesn’t want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war,” he said.


“Other Arab countries have recognised Israel and what has that achieved?

“The largest Arab country, Egypt, recognised Israel and what was the result? Not one iota of change happened in the attitude of Israel towards peace.”

Well, quite! Getting Israel to accept this plan will be hard and we can expect that it will do everything it can to avoid making any concessions. In that respect, it is unlikely that the summit will produce anything tangible. But hopefully more people are realising that endlessly appeasing Israel hasn’t worked and still isn’t working and maybe it might be time to try something new – actually applying pressure to Israel. That can be done quite easily by cutting the the huge aid packages it gets from the USA (something that seems unlikely at the moment considering the power of AIPAC). There should be more than the one lone voice in the Knesset calling for a boycott of Israel. And with news that Israel is supplying tear gas to Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe and after by the way British diplomatic staff have been treated by the regime, that position might gain some support, after all Palestinians have to put up with far worse. Olmert’s position isn’t that strong.

Olmert currently commands what may be the lowest approval rating for any democratic leader in world history: a measly 2%. Mired in corruption scandals and about to face the verdict of a commission of inquiry into the debacle of last summer’s war in Lebanon, Olmert finds his premiership stalled and in a ditch. “He needs an initiative and this could be it,” says one Israeli government official of the Saudi plan.

The former head of Israeli military intelligence, Shlomo Gazit, wrote an open letter to the Saudi regime in which he suggested bypassing Olmert and appealing over his head to the Israeli people directly.

Follow the path taken by Anwar Sadat of Egypt 30 years ago, Gazit urged: come to Jerusalem and call for immediate negotiations. Public opinion will rally and “no government in Israel will be able to reject that kind of initiative,” he wrote.

As Jonathan Freedland says in the article, calling Israel’s bluff over its stated desire for peace might just be a good idea.

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March 11, 2007

Light Posting

Filed under: Bliar, Democracy, Media, Terrorism, Torture, UK Politics, US Politics — netherworld @ 11:33 am

Apologies for the scarcity of posts here of late. I’ve been a little busy with a few things, but hopefully ‘normal’ service will be resumed sometime soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of things I’ve been writing over at Blairwatch to keep you occupied.

Firstly, it seems that Tony Blair’s statement about him knowing nothing about Extraordinary Rendition and CIA black sites is a load of bollocks (yes, I thought that would surprise you). What seems to be emerging is that he is not only complicit in this programme but actively participating in it. We now learn that that America and Britain asked Poland to host a secret CIA gulag and Blair requested that the Polish Prime Minister to keep this secret from his government. Nice eh?

Secondly, tonight (March 11) the first part of Adam Curtis’ new three-part documentary, “The Trap – What Happened To Our Dream Of Freedom?” is being shown on BBC 2 at 21:00. This will be well worth watching. It is about freedom and how the concept of freedom seems to have changed since the Cold War and how that change came about. As Britain and America go around the world ‘liberating’ oppressed people, and as they try to ‘liberate’ us from the old bureaucracies of the past, they replace what was there before with a strange kind of freedom which bears little resemblance to the freedom we knew before. This series examines how this came to happen and looks at the mechanisms behind this paradox which is, in effect, the losing of our freedom in the name of freedom, replacing it with a new form of social control which entraps us all.

Adam Curtis has generously agreed to do an interview with Blairwatch next week and in order to prepare for it, I managed to get the first two installments of this three part series and I was blown away by what I saw. So I posted a synopsis of the first episode here for those who will be unable to catch the program. I’ll post a synopsis of the second episode once the first has been screened.

Lenin’s Tomb and Ten Percent have also posted stuff about it and from those sites I’ve found reviews of the documentary in The Guardian and Socialist Worker.

Back soon hopefully.

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March 6, 2007

Sleaze In America – Sleaze In Britain

Filed under: Cash for Honours, Lord Levy, Nu Labour, Sleaze, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:22 pm

Two sleaze stories today, one from each side of the Atlantic. First, in the USA Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury. When he is sentenced in June, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

He was accused of lying to the FBI and a grand jury over revelations about CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

Libby’s lawyer said they were “very disappointed” at the verdict, and would ask for a new trial, or would appeal.

Libby was found guilty on four out of five counts. He was acquitted on one count of lying to the FBI.

I haven’t blogged much about this case but the BBC has an at-a-glance article about the trial and also other links to the background of this story for those who are unfamiliar with it. In short, it concerns the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame whose husband, Joseph Wilson displeased the Bush administration by disputing Bush’s claim that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material from Niger. The trial itself, however, is about the cover-up (isn’t it always?). More updates on this can be found at Firedoglake and Iain Dale has a report. too.

Over in Britain, the sleaze story is the on-going saga of the cash for peerages scandal. The story all week has concerned a document (not an e-mail apparently) and an injunction placed on the BBC to prevent them revealing who sent it, who it was for and what it was about. This was a request by the police. The injunction was partially lifted yesterday so it could be revealed who sent it to who but not much else. Today the whole injunction was lifted revealing what most observers suspected anyway, namely that this document was written by Ruth Turner to her boss Jonathan Powell and it concerned Lord Levy whose position is now looking more precarious than ever.

There has been much speculation as to whether it was Downing Street that leaked the details in order to prejudice any trial. This is, of course, vigorously denied. After calling his arrests and the police behaviour “theatrical”, Lord Levy is now demonstrating his own skills in theatrics as he denounced the “prejudiced and distorted view” of the cash-for-honours affair presented by leaks to the media and played to the gallery by appalling for public sympathy. It is possible that Ruth Turner was concerned that Lord Levy was asking her to alter her evidence, something Levy denies. If true this opens the way for charges of perverting the cause of justice (again, it’s the cover-up rather than the original crime). The Guardian defied the injunction and broke the story which has caused the row as to who is doing the leaking in this case. Lord Levy blames the police, and everyone else seem to be blaming Lord Levy or Downing Street.

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February 12, 2007

The Coming War On Iran

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, israel, Protest, US Politics — netherworld @ 10:42 am

I have been trying to avoid writing about Iran for the last week or so; partly in order to focus on other issues and partly because it is such an awful and depressing situation that it’s easy to become obsessed with it. However, the drumbeat of war is getting louder so it’s time for an update.

On February 24 there will be another demonstration in London against the Iraq war and the looming war in Iran. In my next post I’ll provide details, but this is roundup is to show why we need to protest. It’s been nearly four years since the invasion of Iraq and all the lies we were told in the build up to it. History is now repeating itself. Just as Iraq was demonised with disinformation, so Iran is today. America insists it is not planning for a war with Iran, however all the signs point to the contrary. In fact former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy believes World War III has already begun. It seems that Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, was right when he said that there would be an attack “within weeks” predicting that it would start in April:

“we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”

Lo and behold, what do we see now?

The United States is moving closer to war with Iran by accusing the “highest levels” of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed 170 US troops and wounded 620.

The allegations against Iran are similar in tone and credibility to those made four years ago by the US government about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of 2003.

Senior US defence officials in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed the bombs were manufactured in Iran and smuggled across the border to Shia militants in Iraq. The weapons, identified as “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs) are said to be capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

How very timely! Note the “speaking on condition of anonymity“. Perhaps they are not as certain as we are being led to believe by some media outlets.
Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History has a little more detail. He debunks the New York Times article which claims that:

In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.

Sounds quite authorative and convincing doesn’t it? However Juan cole says:

This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.–and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in “East Baghdad” and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops:

Hmmm, the assertions aren’t quite so convincing now are they? As always, it’s the timing of these claims that are suspect. As America makes these claims and denies provoking Iran, a third Navy carrier group is about to follow the second carrier group already steaming toward the Persian Gulf. At the same time as this news emerges, we hear that Israel has been testing a missile system as a “message to Iran“. And this is of course after numerous Israeli threats and an alleged attempt to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Iran in the meantime still maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it poses no threat to Israel. Of course America, Britain and Israel refuse to believe the Iranian claim. As John Pilger points out:

Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations – until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to “go anywhere and see anything”. They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei says that an attack on Iran will have “catastrophic consequences” and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Compare this threatening behaviour with the complete lack of concern about Israeli plans to build a nuclear power station despite having an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a reputation for flaunting international law as well as a habit of bombing its neighbours and ethnically cleansing the illegally held land it has conquered. As Pilger mentions, Israel has not signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has and wants to stay within the rules.

Iran is not defenceless; it too has been testing missiles and it has a formidable military bolstered by a state of the art air defence system purchased from Russia. On top of this, it can create havoc in Iraq and Lebanon and also destabilise oil supplies by blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. But it is unknown whether it can see off an American/Israeli attack. A war, if it happens, will be conducted largely from the air. If there is to be any invasion, it would be in the small area known as Khuzestan where 90 percent of Iran’s oil comes from (ironically this was the area Saddam Hussein tried to invade with American backing).

The calls for attacking Iran are, of course, coming from the neo con part of the Bush administration personified by Dick Cheney and advised by the American Enterprise Institute. The plan is to taunt Iran into doing something which would give America an excuse to respond. It is assumed that an attack on Iran would disguise the total failure of the Iraq mission. The Bush administration is now planning for the inevitable failure of the ill-advised “surge”. This bare faced aggression has prompted Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (of all people) to make some very critical statements about America.

“What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master…

“It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion…

“People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don’t want to learn it themselves.”

Needless to say, his statements have sparked a war of words between Washington and Moscow. Putin might be a fine one to talk about democracy and abuse of power but that doesn’t make what he said about America any less true.

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January 25, 2007

Bush: Give War A Chance – Fisking The State of The Union Speech

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 6:50 am

George Bush’s State of The Union speech smacked of desperation. He had to plead with congress to support his plans to escalate the war in Iraq. Right from the start of his speech there were references to Iraq and Iran. I’m not going to fisk the whole speech, that would take too long (easy though it is). No, I’m just going to fisk the part that deals with the escalation of his war, and that happens to be most of his speech. The much-heralded change of direction on the environment and global warming was about three short paragraphs inserted to throw a bone to the new Democrat congress. From environmental issues Bush went on to “stable supply of energy” which inevitably led him into his favourite subject, war.

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.

He might just as well have said “And this dependence leaves foreign regimes more vulnerable to the hostile USA“. In the end his new energy policy was nothing of the sort, just some non-specific statements of his plans to cut the use of petroleum by 20 percent in ten years, encourage more use of ethanol and bio diesels and rely on technology to get him out of the mess he’s in. It also probably means redoubled efforts to destroy the pristine environment in Alaska.

Once again Bush invoked the memory of 9/11 before launching into the main thrust of his speech. In fact he referred to September 11 no less than six times.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

I don’t recall that issue being settled Mr Bush. Taking the fight to the enemy, as you put it, has devastated a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and filled it with terrorists when previously there were none.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Life has never been the same for most of the people Iraq since its destruction. As for protecting your people, well the families of over 3,000 soldiers might not agree.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen [like victory]. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)

Those successes of course cannot be attributed to the war in Iraq. In fact they can’t all even be properly verified. To mention the alleged plot to blow up planes with baby milk, shampoo and hair gel is ridiculous. That so-called plot is looking like a bit of a damp squib and shameless fear-mongering.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that’s the case, America is still a nation at war.

This might be a good time to remind ourselves that 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and the plot was launched from Afghanistan which was ignored by you after its invasion so you could focus on Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11. I can’t help noticing that you haven’t caught Bin Laden yet.

In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

“In the mind of the terrorist”? Which terrorist? Are you suggesting that disparate factions in Iraq think that the war began before September 11? Okay another reality check. Al Qaeda is about three percent of the insurgency in Iraq. Perhaps it might be an idea to focus a bit more on the other 97 percent of your enemy.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

Some, of course, just want you and your forces out of their country. Overthrowing moderate governments is something the USA has been doing for decades; Chile and Iran (with Britain) spring instantly to mind. Saddam’s regime can hardly be described a moderate but Iraq was in much better shape before it was visited by “the cause of liberty”. Zarqawi’s notoriety was, as we know, a product of the invasion. Before that he was just a common al Qaeda thug.

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

So was Iran this powerful before the destruction of Iraq, or is this phenomenon too a result of your invasion? As for Hezbollah, well its not universally recognised as a terrorist group. It holds seats in the Lebanese Parliament

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

What Shia and Sunni resistance groups share is a desire to get Americans and their allies out of their country where they have no right to be. Whether or not they want democracy or dictatorship is no business of America and the sectarian violence between these factions is again the result of the invasion. And a real democracy cannot flourish under occupation anyway. If you hadn’t invaded innocents wouldn’t be slaughtered on this scale. Before going on about weapons yet again wouldn’t it be better to get at least some credible evidence. This situation in Iraq is much more complicated than a simple Sunni Shia divide.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)

And every unlawful and improper tool as well. This strategy will only create more extremists. It’s a vicious circle that is being exacerbated.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom.

If you really wanted to “remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred”, you’d get out of the region or at least be a balanced broker in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

— societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they’re given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)

This seems like a false argument to me. In fact the same statement could be used to argue the case for America’s withdrawal. Newsflash – America is not helping, its making matters far worse for the inhabitants of the region and for American security. When you say “Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies“, how do you explain the neo con ideology which is steeped in blood?

In the last two years, we’ve seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)

As soon as the Syrians left Lebanon, the Israelis moved in… funny that. Now Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as well, largely thanks to your refusal to swiftly end last Summer’s war. The elections in Iraq were fought on sectarian lines resulting in the current increase in violence. We’ve recently seen the new democratic Iraq lynching, torturing and murdering in the same way Saddam did. Women are more oppressed than ever. Way to go Bush. Remind me again why we invaded.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

So you are implying that the Taliban, Syrians, Iranians, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other assorted Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq are in fact all the same enemy with the same objectives and motivations. It stretches credibility somewhat. Another newsflash; the new democratic Iraqi government that you installed also has death squads. You seem to be blaming the region-wide chaos on everyone but yourself. Of course the killers bear much of the responsibility but don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence that when America interferes with a state chaos invariably ensues?

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)

The fight you’re in is the one everyone with any sense predicted you’d be in. I’m afraid it would be like you to leave your promises unkept and your friends abandoned. That’s what happens when you lose wars… remember Vietnam? Oh yes, you avoided that conflict. And don’t kid yourself, you lost this war a long time ago. The sooner you recognise that the more lives will be saved.

We’re carrying out a new strategy in Iraq — a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

No you’re, not your carrying on with the same failed strategy of before and making impossible demands on a weak puppet government to disguise your own ineptitude. Your stated goal is absolutely unrealistic and unobtainable. The best you could manage at this stage is an exit with a modicum of dignity. Iraq is wrecked and I doubt it can be fixed with any strategy let alone one that’s already proved to be a failure.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we’re deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we’re sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn’t drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

20’000 new troops will make little or no difference. This terrorist hunt is a fools errand, you may get one or two but they will be replaced and the rest will melt away only to reappear again later. That’s the problem with this kind of asymmetrical war, you can’t win it in the conventional way. All you’re going to achieve is more resentment and more violence.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party — and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks — to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

Yes, the people of Iraq do want to live in peace so why not let them. Their weak puppet government will collapse. You might delay the collapse but you can’t prevent it. The pledges this government has given you are pledges they have given before and failed to deliver on. It is incapable of performing in the way you want it to. A sectarian government will behave in a sectarian way. And as for oil revenues, well, we know where they’re going don’t we?

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

No George, you replaced the military commanders who (like most people it seems) disagreed with your plan. You chose this course of action because you want to retain control of Iraq and either you are so deluded that you have convinced yourself that you know better than the experts or you are so arrogant that you cannot admit that you are utterly wrong (it’s probably both). America has already failed in Iraq, the country is utterly wrecked and likely to fragment along ethnic, tribal and religious lines. If you haven’t already, you will soon be seeing the “grievous and far-reaching consequences” of your failure.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

This is what is happening now. Many people predicted this would happen but they were sidelined just as the people warning you about the current escalation have been sidelined. The presence of American troops in Iraq is only making matters worse. It can’t be fixed, that’s the tragedy and that’s why you shouldn’t have invaded.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally — their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)

And who caused this chaos? If chaos is the greatest ally of your enemies, why create it? What evidence do you have to support your assertion that Iraq had any intention or capability of harming America before the invasion? If one of the lessons of September 11 was not to allow failed states to emerge, you have shown how much you have learned from 9/11 by turning Iraq into a failed state when before it was merely another brutal dictatorship supported by America.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you’ve made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)

You are not pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, you are pursuing the same failed strategy as before and ignoring the findings of the Baker Hamilton report which at least offered a more sensible alternative. You ask to be given a chance for your plan to work… you’ve had four years to make it work and the situation in Iraq gets worse every day. The best way to support your troops is to bring them home rather than sending in any more.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that’s why it’s important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It’s why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We’ll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

Hang on a minute, at the beginning of your speech you said: “…To extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations“. Now you’re saying that future generations will have to clear up the mess you’ve made. It doesn’t matter what new advisory councils you create, we’ve already seen that you ignore advice that doesn’t fit in with your world view. If one thing out of all this should be clear to you it is that America is deeply divided and if it does come together it will unite against you and your agenda if it hasn’t already.

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

How long before you are forced to re-introduce the Draft? People aren’t exactly falling over themselves to join the military these days are they? Your plans to hire non-military citizens to join in your “crusade” seems pretty close to a draft of sorts, or if not a draft then a mercenary army. What if they decline your generous offer to “serve in the defining struggle of our time“?

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we’re not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We’re working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq’s government.

America is increasingly isolated and everyone knows that. Even the British are trying to extricate themselves from this quagmire. Your “coalition of the willing” is dwindling to the point where it will consist of just the USA. The United Nations, which you ignored in order to launch this illegal war, does give a limited mandate for occupation thanks to the bullying of member states and a desire to try and sort out the appalling mess. Soon it too will come to the conclusion that America is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all worried about sectarian violence spilling over into their territories and the marginalisation of Sunnis. Their support is qualified to say the least.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet — the U.N., the European Union, and Russia — we’re pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we’re pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

The CIA has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Are you going to launch another war on faulty intelligence and lies? It certainly looks that way at the moment. You have done nothing so far to help the creation of a Palestinian state. What you have done is allow Israel to continue to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. You have also starved the Palestinian people, a collective punishment on them for democratically electing a government that you (and Israel) don’t like. Until that is put right there is no chance of security for Palestinians and Israelis. In Afghanistan the Taliban is resurging and looking impossible to completely defeat. By attacking Iraq you took your eyes off the ball. And as for your efforts to achieve a “Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons“, well, I seem to remember North Korea testing a nuclear bomb not too long ago… yet another miserable failure Mr Bush.

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January 21, 2007

Spot The Obstacle to Peace

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, israel, Syria, US Politics — netherworld @ 9:54 am

Amidst all the turmoil in the Middle East, there are some attempts being made in certain diplomatic circles to try and stabilise the region. One country however seems to be doing its level best to scupper these small efforts. No prizes for guessing who it is.

DUBAI (AFP) – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is urging the United States to talk with Syria, claiming in an interview that Damascus “supports” Iraq in fighting the insurgency.

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria on Saturday condemned insurgent attacks on the U.S.-backed Iraqi army and security forces, describing them as “terrorism”, in another shift in the Damascus government’s position toward its neighbour.

BERLIN (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reiterated Washington’s opposition to talking to Syria or Iran to get their help in easing unrest in Iraq.

Here’s some other examples that I referred to obliquely in a previous post.

Israeli officials have confirmed that the Foreign Ministry knew about a series of peace talks that have taken place in Europe between Syrians and an Israeli team headed by a former senior diplomat. The teams discussed Israel handing back the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since the Six Day War in 1967, to Syria under a formula providing for President Bashar Assad to stop giving support to Hamas and Hizbollah and to distance his regime from Iran.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House denied media reports that Israelis and Syrians reached understandings for a peace treaty in secret unofficial talks over the past two years.

Oh, and there’s this.

Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.

And these are just examples of what has been happening on various diplomatic fronts. Only a lunatic would want the various wars in the Middle East to continue, only a lunatic could think that a disastrous policy can be put right by repeating it, and only a lunatic would want to start yet another war in the region. Unfortunately, a lunatic is running the United States of America.

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January 20, 2007

Did Israel Try To Carry Out Its Plan To Nuke Iran?

Filed under: Bush, Iran, israel, Syria, US Politics — netherworld @ 8:40 am

I posed the title of this post as a question because I have no idea if this is true or not and I don’t know how to verify it. It seems so outrageous that I can hardly believe it but with everything else going on around Iran at the moment and the recently revealed Israeli plans for a nuclear attack on Iran (since denied), maybe there is some truth in this.

Israeli Nuclear Strike On Iran Turned Back

A recent strike by nuclear-armed Israeli Air Force fighter-bombers bound for targets in Iran was turned back after being intercepted by U.S. fighters over Iraq, this reporter has learned.

Two sources have independently confirmed the encounter, which took place on January 7, 2007. Though the first informant offered few details beyond an initial tip, a second source long-known by this reporter to have well-placed U.S. and “non-U.S.” military and government contacts provided specific information regarding the raid, which was aimed at the radical religious ayatollahs holding ultimate power in Iran.

Israeli nuclear strikes are not unprecedented. Soon after Desert Storm, U.S. Navy pilots told this reporter in Kuwait how in late 1990 Israel made good on its pledge to respond in kind to WMD attacks by launching nuclear-armed aircraft against Baghdad following a lethal assault on Tel Aviv by Scud missiles tipped with chemical warheads. That air strike was called off when the Americans refused to provide the vital IFF codes needed to fly through U.S.-controlled airspace.
Read on

As I said, I can’t verify the source and I don’t know much about American and Israeli military protocols, but it’s certainly a scary article. There are however plenty of other reports about Iran which suggest that war could break out very soon indeed.

Tensions between the USA and Iran have been mounting alarmingly since the recent kidnapping of Iranian diplomats and consular workers and the raid on a consular office in northern Iraq. Some of this has been widely reported, the sending of another American aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley refusing rule out the possibility of US forces striking across the border or the Russian delivery of state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missiles to Iran for example. Other news items are appearing on less well known news sources. For example, in recent days, there have been reports that Iran shot down an American pilotless spy drone. America has also denied that there was an Iranian missile strike on a US warship in the Gulf.

Whether these stories are true or not, one thing seems certain and that is that the crisis is escalating to a point where any small incident could kick off a huge conflict. In other words a war could soon be unstoppable even if America and Iran did try to row back, something neither party is showing any signs of doing. There have been several reports saying that America will have all its pieces in place some time in February and that there is a plan to attack Iran from the sea as early as April this year.

KUWAIT CITY: Washington will launch a military strike on Iran before April 2007, say sources. The attack will be launched from the sea and Patriot missiles will guard all oil-producing countries in the region, they add. Recent statements emanating from the United States indicate the Bush administration’s new strategy for Iraq doesn’t’t include any proposal to make a compromise or negotiate with Syria or Iran. A reliable source said President Bush recently held a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice and other assistants in the White House where they discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail.

When you couple news like this with news of America’s rejection of Iranian concessions as far back as 2003, and ofAmerica’s dismissal of the widespread reports of possible peace talks between Israel and Syria which would do much to ease the tensions in the region, you have to wonder what bush is planning. It looks like the planned attacks are not going to be “surgical strikes” as was previously suggested, but a whole scale war which would devastate the region.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. contingency planning for military action against
Iran’s nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.

“I’ve seen some of the planning … You’re not talking about a surgical strike,” said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.

“You’re talking about a war against Iran” that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.

When you put all these different reports together, a very frightening picture emerges. What we are hearing far less of are diplomatic moves in the UN or effective restraining of Bush and his insane neo con agenda from the Democrat dominated Congress. The US Congress seems like the only force able to prevent the coming devastation, but have the saner voices in both parties got the strength, courage and will to do what is necessary?

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