Hon. Dennis Kucinich & Leon Hadar / Business-Times & Patrick Seale / Daily Star – 2006-09-23 23:35:56
The Bush Administration is preparing for war against Iran, using an almost identical drumbeat of weapons of mass destruction, imminent threat, alleged links to Al Queda, and even linking Iran with a future 911.
Bush Administration Plans for a US War vs. Iran
An Urgent Letter from Rep. Dennis Kucinich
The Bush Administration is preparing for war against Iran, using an almost identical drumbeat of weapons of mass destruction, imminent threat, alleged links to Al Queda, and even linking Iran with a future 911.
In the past few months reports have been published in Newsweek, ABC News and GQ Magazine that indicate the US is recruiting members of paramilitary groups to destabilize Iran through violence. The New Yorker magazine and the Guardian have written that US has already deployed military inside Iran.
The latest issue of Time writes of plans for a naval blockade of Iran at the Port of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world’s oil supply passes. Other news reports have claimed that an air strike, using a variety of bombs including bunker busters to be dropped on over 1,000 targets, including nuclear facilities. This could obviously result in a great long term humanitarian and environmental disaster.
Earlier this year, I demanded congressional hearings on Iran and was able to secure the promise of a classified briefing from the Department of Defense, the State Department and the CIA. When the briefing was held, the Department of Defense and the State Department refused to show and are continuing to block any congressional inquiry into plans to attack Iran.
Just this past week, the International Atomic Energy Agency called “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated” statements relating to Iran’s nuclear program which came from a staff report of the House Intelligence committee. Other intelligence officials have claimed over a dozen distortions in the report which, among other things, said Iran is producing weapons grade uranium.
The Washington Post wrote: “The IAEA called that ‘incorrect’ noting that weapons grade uranium is enriched to a level of 90 percent or more. Iran has enriched uranium to 3.5% under IAEA monitoring.”
I have demanded that the Government Oversight subcommittee on National Security and International Relations, of which I am the ranking Democrat, hold hearings to determine how in the world the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, viewed the report without correcting the obvious inaccuracies before it was published. Once again a case for war is being built on lies.
You will recall that four-and-a-half years ago I warned this nation about the deception behind the build up to war against Iraq. Everything I said then turned out to be 100% right. I led 125 Democrats in opposing the Iraq war resolution in March of 2003. The very same people who brought us Iraq in 2003 are getting ready to bring us a war against Iran.
With your help, I will lead the way to challenge the Bush Administration’s march to war against Iran. Please support my campaign for re-election with a generous donation to help continue my work in the Congress. The plan to attack Iran, on its face, threatens the safety of every US soldier serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the countless Iranian lives at risk and the threat to world peace and environmental catastrophes.
With your support, I intend to continue to insist upon:
• (1) Direct negotiations with Iran.
• (2) The US must guarantee Iran and the world community that it will not attack Iran.
• (3) Iran must open once again to international inspections of its nuclear program.
• (4) Iran must agree not to build nuclear weapons.
Many of you joined me three years ago as I ran for President to challenge the deliberate lies about WMDs, Iraq and 911, Iraq and Al Queda and the Niger “yellowcake” claims which put us onto the path of an unnecessary, illegal, costly war in Iraq. The Iraq war has caused greater instability and violence in the world community. In the meantime, our government has used the oxymoronic war on terror to trample our Constitution, rip up the Bill of Rights and rule by fear.
Please join with me as we continue our efforts for the end of fear and the beginning of hope, for international dialogue, for cooperation and for peace.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
• Visit our website at www.kucinich.us for details on Elizabeth and my recent peace building mission to the Middle East, the Message from Qana, the message of compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation.
• Join the conversations on our forum. Update your mailing list records online yourself – it’s easy. Go to http://www.kucinich.us/signup.
US-Iran Shootout Is Inevitable
Leon Hadar / Business-Times
SINGAPORE (September 23, 2006 ) — Would US President George W Bush and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad run into each other by chance during their opening session of the United Nations General Assembly this week? That seemed to be the major concern occupying US officials.
It seems White House aides were doing their best to avoid a run-in between Mr. Bush and Mr. Ahmadinejad in the hallways of the UN building in Manhattan; for example, the Iranian leader “ambushing” Mr. Bush as he tries to enter the lavatory, igniting a Clash of Civilizations in front of the Men’s Room.
Well, that did not happen. Instead, the US and Iranian presidents engaged in diplomatic histrionics, clashing at the UN on Tuesday during the opening debate in the General Assembly. Mr. Bush made a direct appeal to the Iranian people stressing that Washington has “no objection to Iran’s pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program,” while Mr. Ahmadinejad stressed several hours later that his government was pursuing such a peaceful nuclear power program.
And if Mr. Bush was arguing that the US confrontation with Iran was part of a US-led campaign to establish democracy in the Middle East, his Iranian nemesis contended that his proud nation was standing up against US hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East and worldwide.
It is difficult to figure out who had “won” this latest battle in the arena of public theater. But the “narrative” that it helped create seemed to play into the hands of Mr. Ahmadinejad whose interest was to assert his nation’s status as a Middle Eastern and global power.
Indeed, even the New York Times carried on its front page on Wednesday the pictures side-by-side of Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad addressing the General Assembly with quotes from their respective speeches, recalling the Cold War era when the newspaper would apply similar editorial choices to cover UN speeches by the US and Soviet leaders.
Moreover, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Mr. Bush’s address reflected a more accommodative approach towards Iran. After all, even Mr. Bush’s insistence that his administration does not object to a “truly peaceful” Iranian nuclear power program could be considered a reversal from an earlier US policy that rejected any Iranian effort to develop nuclear power.
At the same time, all indications are that the Bush administration is continuing to support the negotiations between the European Union members and Iran that could lead to a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the nuclear crisis with Tehran. Even Mr. Bush in his address expressed his hopes that the United States and Iran one day will “be good friends and close partners in the cause of peace.”
Washington’s more accommodative approach towards Tehran seemed to be creating a certain hysteria among the ranks of the neoconservative intellectuals in Washington for whom diplomatic “accommodation” is almost always equated with “appeasement.”
Mr. Bush’s speech marked “the final fizzling out of his Iran policy of the past three years” David Frum, one of the leading neoconservative ideologues (who as a former speech writer to Mr. Bush coined the term “Axis of Evil”), argued this week. “The tough talk of the ‘axis of evil’ speech of 2002 faded into the background,” wrote Mr. Frum, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think-tank in Washington.
“Did (Bush) challenge the Iranian bomb program before the world?” he asked. “He did not. He said nothing about it. There will be no UN action, no Security Council sanctions, nothing.” And Mr. Frum concluded: “America’s dwindling list of Iran options has dwindled further to just two: unilateral military action without any semblance of international approval to pre-empt the Iranian bomb program – or acquiescence in that program.”
Such conclusions seem to be based on either fears – on the part of the neocons who are urging the administration to do a “regime change” in Tehran, and on wishful thinking – on the part of those in Washington who are calling for pursuing a diplomatic détente towards Tehran.
But investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and other analysts have reported that President Bush and his aides have already ordered the US military to prepare for operation against Iran’s nuclear military sites and have also been providing assistance to Iranian exile groups. Indeed, retired Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner, interviewed on CNN, said the Bush administration had already given a “go ahead” to US military operation against Iran.
“In fact, we’ve probably been executing military operations inside Iran for at least 18 months,” Col. Gardner said. “The evidence is overwhelming.”
There are several important reasons that are being advanced to claim that US would not take a military action against Iran.
First, the US military is overstretched in Iran and Afghanistan and does not have the manpower that will be required for widening ground troops operations in Iran.
Secondly, it is doubtful that the Americans could win the backing from the UN Security Council for using military force against Iran. Russia and China will probably veto such a move, while France and Britain will probably not support it.
Thirdly, a unilateral US attack on Iran could produce powerful anti-American reactions among the Shi’ites in Iraq (that control the government), in Lebanon (which could trigger a military confrontation with Israel) and in other parts of the Middle East. Iran could also succeed in rallying support for its cause in the entire Middle East and the Muslim world, threatening pro-US regimes there.
And, finally, a military confrontation between the US and Iran could force the global price of oil into the stratosphere and devastate the American and global economy.
But this line of thinking, which assumes that Iran is now in a position to threaten US interests in the Middle East and around the world and thus deter the Americans from using their military power, also explains why the Bush administration will probably end up doing exactly that – taking military action against Iran. In a way, the Bush administration’s policies have created the conditions in which such an American move becomes almost inevitable.
First, the ousting of the Ba’athist regime in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan enhanced Iran’s position in the Persian Gulf by removing two strategic threats to Iran.
Secondly, the coming to power in Baghdad of Shi’ite religious parties with strong ties to the Shi’ite mullahs in Tehran has strengthened the political power of Iran and Shi’ite communities around the Middle East, threatening the interest of the pro-American Arab-Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
Thirdly, the green light that Washington had given to Israel to attack the Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon has strengthened the political power of that Shi’ite group and its leading ally, Iran, increasing the long-term threats to America’s ally, Israel.
And fourthly, the acquisition of nuclear military power by Iran will formalize its position as the main regional hegemon in the Persian Gulf, and make it likely that Saudi Arabia and other governments will try to appease it. At the same time, a nuclear military stalemate between Israel and Iran could weaken the strategic position of Israel and by extension that of the US in the Middle East.
As the Bushies see it, they need to “do something” to “correct” the current balance of power which has been shifting in favor of Iran (thanks to US policies, that is).
While the diplomatic, military and economic costs of a unilateral US military action against Iran could be high, even if they involve only “surgical” attacks against that country’s nuclear military sites, it is important to remember that in the aftermath of the mid-term Congressional elections in November, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will be free to pursue even very politically costly moves since neither of them will be running for office in 2008.
Instead, they are now in the process of writing their historical legacy which will center on their policies in the Middle East. Leaving office with Iraq in ruins and Iran emerging as the military hegemon in the Persian Gulf – equipped with nuclear military power! – would damage whatever remains of the Bush-Cheney “legacy.”
While the possibility of the Democrats taking over the House of Representatives and even the Senate could make it difficult for the administration to deploy more troops in Iraq, it will not face major opposition from the mostly pro-Israeli Democrats on Capitol Hill if and when it decides to take military action against Iran.
Of course, there is another way for Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to deal with the challenges they are facing in the Middle East: a diplomatic dialogue with Iran (and Syria) combined with an effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But for an administration that has portrayed the Iranian regime as a member of the axis of evil and has placed itself squarely behind Israel, such a move would be out of character.
Copyright © 2006 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Pressures Mount on Bush to Bomb Iran
Patrick Seale / The Daily Star
(September 16, 2006 ) — President George W Bush is coming under enormous pressure from Israel — and from Israel’s neoconservative friends inside and outside the US administration to harden still further his stance toward Iran.
They want the American president to commit himself to bombing Iran if it does not give up its program of uranium enrichment and to issue a clear ultimatum to Tehran — that he is prepared to do so. They argue that mere rhetoric — such as Bush’s recent diatribe, in which he compared Iran to al-Qaeda — is not enough, and might even be counter-productive, as it might encourage the Iranians to think that America’s bark is worse than its bite.
Hard-liners in Israel and the United States believe that only military action, or the credible threat of it, will now prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with all that this would mean in terms of Israel’s security and the balance of power in the strategically vital Middle East.
Fears that Bush might succumb to this Israeli and neoconservative pressure is beginning to cause serious alarm in Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, Paris, Rome and other world capitals where, as if to urge caution on Washington, political leaders are increasingly speaking out in favor of dialogue with Tehran and against the use of military force.
The quickening international debate over Iran’s nuclear activities comes at a difficult time for Israel, where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is fighting for his political life and for that of his ruling Kadima-Labor coalition.
The Iran problem is causing particular concern because it raises fundamental questions about the continued validity of the security doctrine Israel has forged over the past half century. A central plank of this doctrine is that, to be safe, Israel must dominate the region militarily and be stronger than any possible Arab or Muslim coalition.
The doctrine received a severe knock from Israel’s inconclusive war in Lebanon, which demonstrated the country’s vulnerability to Hizbullah’s missiles and to the challenge of “asymmetric” guerrilla warfare. Israelis — especially those living in the more exposed north of the country where up to a million people took refuge in shelters — were shocked to discover that the war was being waged on Israel’s home territory.
All previous wars had been waged on Arab territory alone, and this had become something of an axiom for the Israeli military.
Another cause of anxiety for Israel’s right wing ó the settler movement, the nationalist-religious parties, the Likud and the right-dominated Kadima — is that Israel is coming under increasing international pressure to negotiate with the Palestinians, with a view to the creation of a Palestinian state. Influential voices are calling for an international conference — a sort of Madrid II — to re-launch the peace process.
Overcoming the crippling conflict between Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinians themselves are forming a national unity government, which will make it more difficult for Israel to claim that it has “no partner” with whom to negotiate.
Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom the Israelis believed had been firmly co-opted into the US-Israeli camp, has recently called for the economic boycott of the Palestinians to be lifted once the unity government is in place.
This is all very bad news for right-wingers in Israel and their American supporters. They had hoped that the “land-for-peace” formula of UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 had been finally buried. They want to break the Palestinian national movement _ hence Olmert’s unremitting assault on Gaza and the West Bank — rather than negotiate a political compromise with it. They want to seize more Palestinian land, not to withdraw to anything like the 1967 borders.
Such is the background to the outcry over Iran’s nuclear activities. An Iranian bomb would end Israel’s regional monopoly of nuclear weapons. It would force Israel to accept something like a balance of power, or at least a balance of deterrence.
Israelis claim vociferously that an Iranian bomb would pose an “existential threat” to their state. It is not clear whether they really believe that Iran might attack them and risk national suicide — an Armageddon scenario ó or simply that they cannot contemplate a Middle East in which they would no longer be overwhelmingly strong, and in which their freedom to attack their neighbors and crush the Palestinians might be circumscribed.
When it destroyed Iraq’s French-built nuclear reactor in 1981, Israel made clear that it would strike pre-emptively against the nuclear program of any hostile state in the region. The message which it and its friends are now addressing to President Bush is that if the US does not bomb Iran, Israel will have to do so.
This was put unambiguously in an article last week by Efraim Inbar, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and a well-known right-wing Israeli analyst. “Israel,” he wrote, “can undertake a limited pre-emptive strike. Israel certainly commands the weaponry, the manpower, and the guts to effectively take out key Iranian nuclear facilities … While less suited to do the job than the United States, the Israeli military is capable of reaching the appropriate targets in Iran. With more to lose than the US if Iran becomes nuclear, Israel has more incentive to strike.”
These views are echoed by pro-Israeli writers in the United States, such as Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. “Offers of dialogue with Iran are a waste of time,” she wrote. “Iran has pursued ruthless oppression at home, terrorism abroad and weapons proliferation, largely with impunity … We have talked about talking for long enough, there must be other options.” Ominously she warned Iran: “It is not wise to force American into a choice between doing nothing and doing everything. But it may come to that.”
Commentators like Inbar and Pletka, and many others in America and Israel who share their hard-line views, are deeply suspicious of what they see as Iran’s duplicity, which they fear has seduced the Europeans. They are outraged by the negotiations which Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, is pursuing with Ali Larijani, Iran’s principal nuclear negotiator.
The reported suggestion that Iran might suspend uranium enrichment for a month or two is seen as a trick to divide the Security Council and remove the threat of sanctions.
They suspect that the international community is edging toward a position of allowing Iran to produce nuclear fuel under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. For the hard-liners, this would be one step away from tolerating an Iranian bomb in the not too distant future.
The real fear of the hard-liners is that the United States might agree to direct talks with Iran which would legitimize the theocratic regime, vastly increase Iran’s stature as the dominant power in the Gulf, and eventually downgrade Israel as America’s exclusive regional ally.
For Washington’s neoconservatives, the battle to shape US policy toward Iran is a crucial test of their dwindling influence. They played a decisive role in persuading the US to make war on Iraq. They clamored for the destruction of the Hamas government in the Palestinian territories. They gave fervent support to Israel’s war on Hizbullah, relentlessly portrayed as a “terrorist movement” and as the armed outpost of Iran.
But the neoconservatives have lost ground in Washington. The war in Iraq has turned into a strategic catastrophe, with another disaster looming in Afghanistan. Anti-Americanism in the Arab and Muslim worlds is at record levels. Leading neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Lewis Libby have left the administration.
For the remaining neoconservatives — and theThe Weekly Standard, losing the argument over Iran could be a terminal blow.
Their ultimate nightmare is that the United States may have to come to rely on Iran to help stabilize the dangerously chaotic situation in both Afghanistan and Iran. The visit to Tehran this week of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is, from their point of view, a ghastly pointer in that direction.
Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East correspondent, wrote this commentary for The Daily Star.
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