Environmentalists Against War
Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are

 

 

 

The Persecution of Sami Al-Arian: A Federal Witchhunt

March 8th, 2007 - by admin

Alexander Cockburn / CounterPunch.org & The Nation – 2007-03-08 23:29:38

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070319/cockburn

(March 3 / 4, 2007) — One of the first big show trials here in the post-9/11 homeland was of a Muslim professor from Florida, now 49, Sami al-Arian. Pro-Israel hawks had resented this computer professor at the University of South Florida long before Atta and the hijackers flew their planes into the Trade towers, because they saw al-Arian, a Palestinian born in Kuwait of parents kicked out of their Homeland in 1948, as an effective agitator here for the Palestinian cause.

As John Sugg, a fine journalist, then based in Tampa, who’s followed al- Arian’s tribulations for years, wrote in the spring of 2006 on this website:

“When was al-Arian important? More than a decade ago, when Israel’s Likudniks in the United States, such as [Steven] Emerson, were working feverishly to undermine the Oslo peace process. No Arab voice could be tolerated, and al-Arian was vigorously trying to communicate with our government and its leaders.

He was being successful, making speeches to intelligence and military commanders at MacDill AFB’s Central Command, inviting the FBI and other officials to attend meetings of his groups. People were beginning to listen and to wonder why only one side of the Middle East debate was heard here. That was the reason for Al-Arian’s political prosecution.”

Now the United States is a country that is blessed by a constitution, a Bill of Rights and the rule of law, all of them upheld with degrees of enthusiasm that rise and fall according to sex, income and ethnicity. The fall is particularly drastic if your name is Arab, you publicly profess the justice of the Palestinian cause. Living in Florida doesn’t help either.

At the direct instigation of Attorney General Ashcroft, the feds threw the book at al-Arian in February 2003. He was arrested with much fanfare and charged in a bloated terrorism and conspiracy case. He spent two and a half years in prison, in solitary confinement under atrocious conditions.

To confer with his lawyers, he had to hobble half a mile, shackled hand and foot, his law files balanced on his back.

The six-month trial in US District Court in Tampa featured 80 government witnesses (including 21 from Israel) and 400 intercepted phone calls (the results of a decade of surveillance and half a million recorded calls).

The government’s evidence against Al-Arian consisted of speeches he gave, magazines he edited, lectures he presented, articles he wrote, books he owned, conferences he organized, rallies he attended, news he heard and websites no one accessed.

One bit of evidence consisted of a conversation a co-defendant had with al-Arian in his dream. The defense rested without calling a single witness or presenting any evidence since the government’s case rested entirely on First Amendment _protected activities.

The man presiding over al-Arian’s trial was US District Court Judge James Moody, a creature from the dark lagoon of Floridian jurisprudence. Hospitable to all testimony from Israelis, Moody ruled that al-Arian and his associates could not say a single word about the military occupation or the plight of the Palestinian people.

During closing arguments, the prosecution noted a document that mentioned UN Resolution 242. Moody nixed that on the grounds that it showed Palestinians in altogether too warm a light and therefore might tax the objectivity of the jurors. As Sugg wrote after that ruling, if MLK had been on trial in Judge Moody’s courtroom for disturbing the peace, he wouldn’t have been allowed to mention Jim Crow or lynchings.

In December 2005, despite Moody’s diligence, the jury acquitted al-Arian of the most serious charges. On those remaining, the usual prosecutorial flailings under conspiracy statutes, jurors voted 10 to 2 for acquittal. Two co-defendants were acquitted completely. It was a terrible humiliation for the Justice Department, which had flung an estimated $50 million into the trial.

A jury split 10-2 in a defendant’s favor doesn’t augur well for conviction in a retrial. Indeed in the spring of 2006 the government declined to retry a wealthy Tampa businessman (the founder of Hooters) on tax evasion charges because the jury was hung 6 to 6, and therefore the proportion was too high to realistically expect a conviction during a retrial.

But the feds insisted they wanted to put al-Arian through the wringer again and — prudently, given Moody’s prejudice-al-Arian’s lawyers urged him to make a plea and put an end to his ordeal and end the suffering of his family.

The terms of the plea agreement were in line with Al- Arian’s long-standing contention, despite the government’s accusations, that he never contributed to the violent actions of any organization.

The government settled for a watered-down version of a single count of providing services to people associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Statement of Facts in the agreement included only these innocuous activities:

(1) hiring an attorney for his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, during his deportation hearings in the late 1990s;

(2) filling out immigration forms for a resident Palestinian scholar from Britain; and

(3) not disclosing details of associations to a local reporter. (I remain completely baffled as to why it should be a crime to withhold information from a newspaper reporter.)

A central aspect of the plea agreement was an understanding that al-Arian would not be subject to further prosecution or called to cooperate with the government on any matter. The government recommended the shortest possible sentence.

On May 1, 2006, al-Arian came before Judge Moody for sentencing. Watching the proceedings Sugg, as he reported on the CounterPunch website, noted a smug air among the prosecutors. He also noted that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez had arrived in the Tampa area five days earlier.

Under the plea, al-Arian’s sentence amounted to little more than time served, followed by his departure from the United States. But Judge Moody sentenced al-Arian to the maximum, using inflamed language about al-Arian having blood on his hands, a charge one juror said the jury emphatically rejected.

Now al-Arian faced eleven months more in prison, with release and deportation scheduled for April 2007. But the feds’ appetite was far from slaked. In October, Gordon Kromberg, an assistant federal prosecutor in Virginia notorious as an Islamophobe, called al-Arian to testify before a grand jury investigating an Islamic think tank. The subpoena was an outright violation of al-Arian’s April plea agreement and his attorneys filed a motion to quash it.

The motion included affidavits by attorneys who participated in the negotiations attesting to the fact that “the overarching purpose of the parties’ plea agreement was to conclude, once and for all, all business between the government and Dr. al-Arian.” The defense lawyers insisted that al-Arian would never have entered a plea that left him vulnerable to government fishing expeditions.

Al-Arian’s lawyers feared that their client was being set up for a perjury trap. Up in Virginia, Kromberg ranted to al-Arian’s attorney about “the Islamization of America,” while down in Tampa, Judge Moody ruled that federal marshals could drag al-Arian to Virginia to testify. On November 16, al-Arian was brought before the grand jury and placed in civil contempt for refusing to testify.

One month after al-Arian was placed in civil contempt, the grand jury term expired, so Kromberg promptly impaneled a new one. Al-Arian was again subpoenaed and again expressed his ethical stance against testifying. This judge also held him in contempt, which could prolong his imprisonment by up to 18 months.

Al-Arian, who is diabetic, then went on a hunger strike. February 26 marked the sixth week of his water- only hunger strike, in which he has lost 40 pounds and has grown considerably weaker. On the 23rd day of his hunger strike, Al-Arian collapsed and hit his head; he has since been moved to a federal prison medical facility in Butner, North Carolina.

On January 22, when Al-Arian appeared before Judge Lee on the charge of contempt, he had this to say about his recent treatment:

“In the past three weeks, I have been to four prisons. I spent fourteen days in the Atlanta penitentiary under 23-hour lockdown, in a roach and rat infested environment. On two occasions, rats shared my diabetic snack.

When I was transported from Atlanta to Petersburg (Virginia) and from Petersburg to Alexandria, they allowed me only to wear a t-shirt in subfreezing weather during long walks. In the early morning, the Atlanta guard took my thermal undershirt which I purchased from the prison and threw it in the garbage and when I complained, he threatened to use a lockbox on my handcuffs which would make them extremely uncomfortable.

In Petersburg, the guard asked me to take off my clean t-shirt and boxers and gave me dirty and worn out ones. When I complained, he told me to ‘shut the f up.’ And when I asked why he was treating me like that, he said ‘because you’re a terrorist.’

When I further complained to the lieutenant in charge, he shrugged it off and said if I don’t like it, I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons. When I said he had the authority to give me clean clothes, he refused and said if I don’t like it I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons.

During one of the airlifts, an air marshal further tightened my already tightened handcuffs, and asked me ‘Why do you hate us?’ I told him, ‘I don’t hate you.’ He said, ‘I know who you are, I’ve read your s-h-i-t.’ These are examples of the government’s harassment campaign against me that’s been taking place for years because of my political beliefs.”

Measured against Jose Padilla, a man driven insane on Rumsfeld’s orders, I guess al-Arian is lucky. He’s alive, and still sane, though getting weaker by the day. He needs all the support we can muster. Across the globe, where al-Arian’s case has aroused much outrage, respect for the US commitment to Constitutional freedoms sinks lower still.

• For information on the case, go to
www.freesamialarian.com.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educationa purposes.

Bagram Air Base: A Symbol of Failed Occupations

March 8th, 2007 - by admin

Roger Morris / Globe and Mail – 2007-03-08 23:23:30

Afghanistan: Another Ill-fated Attempt?
Roger Morris / Globe and Mail

(March 1, 2007) — ‘I heard a loud boom,” US Vice-President Dick Cheney said of the suicide bomb at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, where he stopped over this week. Said to be aimed at Mr. Cheney himself, the attack left him untouched but killed 21 Afghan workers and two Americans — more casualties in Afghanistan’s 30-year, million-and-a-half-dead civil war.

One hopes the Vice-President heard more than a “boom.” Bagram thunders with relevant ghosts, many of them American.

In the fourth century BC, Bagram was a fort in one of the first of so many ill-fated attempts to subdue the Afghans. Even Alexander’s campaign-hardened Macedonians were shocked when the local insurgents left battlefield dead to devouring wild dogs. It was religious practice for ancient Afghans, but for the invaders, a telling mark of a people capable at once of tender poetry and chivalrous hospitality along with the most ferocious, indomitable resistance to conquest.

Bagram was a mocking ruin as Britain came and went in the 19th century to parry imperial Russia in the Great Game. The English killed, tortured, bribed and subverted the Afghans, and in the end, like Alexander’s legions, left their bones to bleach at Gandamak and on the stony plain of Maiwand, west of Kandahar.

They left, too, the Durand Line dividing Afghanistan from the subcontinent. Cut for colonial convenience through the heart of Pashtun tribal lands, the fateful boundary still makes Pakistan the furtive nemesis of Afghan stability, and the inconsolable frontier a sanctuary for the Taliban.

The Cold War brought Bagram back to life in the mid-1950s as an air base for the old Afghan royal regime. Having begged in vain for US help — Washington thought the Hindu Kush of no strategic value and preferred the crisp military dictators in Pakistan as clients — the Afghans turned to Russia to modernize their armed forces.

As Bagram hummed with Soviet advisers and MiGs, America took up the competition, and the Great Game continued as the CIA relentlessly used Afghanistan to spy on Soviet Central Asia, feeding perennial Russian fears and the inevitable counterintrigues.

Intent on each other, both superpower rivals dispensed their foreign aid wares — and a corrupt Kabul oligarchy took them — heedless of the impact. As aid spawned an educated class without jobs, as the army grew better armed but no better paid, as grinding poverty only worsened, the turmoil built that would plunge Afghanistan into disaster, and haunt the world into the next century.

Bagram was always emblematic. The neutrality of its officers allowed strongman Mohammed Daoud to overthrow the venal monarchy of King Zahir Shah in 1973. Five years later, it was from Bagram that a leftist commander launched his jet fighters with withering effect on Daoud’s presidential palace in a communist coup neither Moscow nor Washington expected — and the Soviets soon regretted more than Washington.

Into Bagram then poured Soviet advisers and materiel in the Kremlin’s vain attempt to shore up a weak, divided communist rule in Kabul that remained typically Afghan, and thus fiercely independent of its patrons. The regime’s reforms were crudely anti-religious and culturally insensitive, though laudably democratic in land reform and the education of women. A reactionary Islamic revolt was ignited that the US, Pakistan, China, and, briefly, the tottering Shah of Iran, quickly moved to foment with covert arms and training.

Results were horrific. When a CIA-and Iranian-instigated Islamic uprising in Herat massacred hundreds of Russian aid workers and their families in March, 1979 — the bloodiest episode in the history of foreign aid — sorties from Bagram indiscriminately bombed monuments, homes and schools even after rebels had left, killing as many as 20,000.

In the face of a deliberate US policy to provoke a Soviet invasion — “giving to the USSR its Vietnam War,” as national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told president Jimmy Carter — we know from the post-Soviet release of Politburo minutes that the Kremlin warily resisted what some knew would be a disaster.

When that trap was sprung, it was Bagram that saw an elite KGB unit kill Afghan president Hafizullah Amin in a 1979 coup to replace his regime with a more agreeable puppet. It was Bagram’s runways that took wave after wave of Soviet invasion forces, whose masters expected a victorious, low-casualty show of force lasting only months.

It was Bagram that saw the last troops leave more than nine years later after some of the most savage warfare in history and twice the casualties Moscow admitted.

Over a decade of carnage, the base was a centre of war and portent. Trained by the Americans and Pakistanis with the latest explosive devices and, eventually, Stinger missiles, the mujahedeen constantly stalked Bagram. Tuesday’s attack was in a tradition begun by US-directed car-bombing squads sent to terrorize not only Soviet or Afghan forces but also civilians, including Kabul’s intelligentsia at sites such as movie theatres and cultural events.

After the fall of the Soviets and Kabul’s communist regime, the base was a shifting prize between mujahedeen factions amid the chaos of civil war and the bloody Pakistani-sponsored Taliban.

With the US occupation in 2002, Bagram was expanded as a hub of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s war, with one of its cavernous hangers converted into the most notorious prison in Afghanistan, eclipsing even the infamous Pul-i-Charki outside Kabul where the mujahedeen, the communists, the Daoud regime and the monarchy before them jailed and tortured thousands.

Did Mr. Cheney hear any of it? In the 1970s, as Afghanistan slid to calamity, he was a rising young aide to Don Rumsfeld in the Nixon and Ford administrations. In 1978, as the communists seized power and the US began its covert intervention, he was manoeuvring for a Wyoming congressional seat. In 1979, as Washington provoked and Moscow invaded, he was finishing his first year in the House, positioning for the leadership he gained a decade later.

In the 1980s, as the mujahedeen attacked Bagram, he ardently supported the Reagan administration’s covert wars in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Iran, although he took no interest in the places — like his colleagues, looking the other way amid questions about the drug trade, atrocities, terrorism.

It was all there at Bagram — the consummate folly of corrupt clients, the false valour of historical ignorance, and the presumption once again to conquer the unconquerable in what the Greeks called the “land of the bones.”

A “loud boom” indeed.

Historian Roger Morris, who served on the National Security Council staff under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, is the author of Shadows of the Eagle, a history of US covert intervention and policy in the Middle East and South Asia, to be published this year.


NATO Air Strike Hits Afghan House, Killing Family of 9
The Associated Press

(March 5, 2007) — A NATO air strike destroyed a mud-brick home in the village of Jabar, killing nine members of an Afghan family during a clash between Western troops and militants, Afghan officials and relatives said Monday.

It was the second report in two days of civilian deaths at the hands of Western forces. On Sunday, US marines fired on cars and pedestrians as they fled a suicide attack. Up to 10 Afghans died in that violence, and President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings.

Both times, the U.S military blamed militants for putting innocent lives in danger.

But Karzai has repeatedly pleaded for Western troops to show more restraint amid concern that civilian deaths shake domestic support for the foreign military involvement that the president needs to prop up his weak government — increasingly under threat from a resurgent Taliban.

In the latest incident, militants late Sunday fired on a US base in Kapisa province, just north of Kabul, prompting the air strike on Jabar village.

The strike hit a civilian home, killing four women, four children between the ages of six months and five years, and one elderly man, said Gulam Nabi, a relative of the victims.

Sayad Mohammad Dawood Hashimmi, Kapisa’s deputy governor, confirmed the nine deaths, as did an Interior Ministry official in Kabul, who asked not to be identified because the ministry had not yet prepared a statement.

A US military statement said two men with automatic rifles were seen heading into a compound of five homes after a rocket attack on a US base in the area.

“These men knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces,” said Lt.-Col. David Accetta, a US military spokesman. “We observed the men entering a compound and that compound was targeted and hit by an air strike.”

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said coalition forces will always respond in self-defence when fired upon: “It is often the enemy that is putting innocent peoples’ lives in danger by where they’re conducting these attacks on our forces.”

The statement said coalition forces “dropped two 2,000-pound bombs” on the compound after a rocket was fired at the base and armed militants were seen moving into the compound. The US base in Kapisa is about 80 kilometres northeast of Kabul, the capital.

An AP reporter at the scene said a large mud home in a compound of five buildings was destroyed, leaving only bits of mud.

Among those killed were Gulam Nabi’s parents, his sister, his nephew, and four of the extended family’s youngest children.
Retaliation for suicide bombing sparks protests

The news of the air strike came a day after wounded Afghans and witnesses said US marines fired on civilians after a suicide bombing in eastern Nangahar province. The violence, which left up to 10 Afghans dead and 34 wounded, sparked angry anti-US demonstrations by hundreds of Afghan men.

A US official called AP on Monday to say that military authorities believe Sunday’s suicide bombing was a “clearly planned, orchestrated attack” that included enemy fire on the convoy and a pre-planned demonstration.

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said authorities believed that criminal elements orchestrated the attack and demonstration and that it was related to Afghan efforts to eradicate the region’s profitable opium poppy crop.

He said there was “no doubt in the minds of marines on the ground that they were being fired on.” The official said Afghan casualties could have been caused by militants or by US gunfire.

However, two senior provincial Afghan officials who also asked not to be named said they had found no evidence to corroborate the US military’s claim that militants fired on the Americans. An AP reporter who spoke to more than a dozen witnesses could not find anyone who said they saw or heard incoming militant gunfire.

Akhtyar Gul, who ran outside his home after the suicide bombing, said he saw American troops firing in many directions, and that some bullets struck the wall of his home. He said he saw a woman working in a nearby field struck by American gunfire.

“There was nobody on the street, nobody on the road to fire on the Americans,” said Gul. “The only firing that came toward us was from these American vehicles.”

© The Canadian Press, 2007

Bush’s New US Attorney a Criminal?

March 8th, 2007 - by admin

Greg Palast – 2007-03-08 23:14:41

http://www.gregpalast.com/bushs-new-us-attorney-a-criminal/

(March 7, 2007) — BBC Television had exposed 2004 voter attack scheme by appointee Griffin, a Rove aide. Black soldiers and the homeless targeted. by Greg Palast

There’s only one thing worse than sacking an honest prosecutor. That’s replacing an honest prosecutor with a criminal.

There was one big hoohah in Washington yesterday as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers pulled down the pants on George Bush’s firing of US Attorneys to expose a scheme to punish prosecutors who wouldn’t bend to political pressure.

But the Committee missed a big one: Timothy Griffin, Karl Rove’s assistant, the President’s pick as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Griffin, according to BBC Television, was the hidden hand behind a scheme to wipe out the voting rights of 70,000 citizens prior to the 2004 election.

Key voters on Griffin’s hit list: Black soldiers and homeless men and women. Nice guy, eh? Naughty or nice, however, is not the issue. Targeting voters where race is a factor is a felony crime under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In October 2004, our investigations team at BBC Newsnight received a series of astonishing emails from Mr. Griffin, then Research Director for the Republican National Committee. He didn’t mean to send them to us. They were highly confidential memos meant only for RNC honchos.

However, Griffin made a wee mistake. Instead of sending the emails – potential evidence of a crime – to email addresses ending with the domain name ‘@GeorgeWBush.com’ he sent them to ‘@GeorgeWBush.ORG.’ A website run by prankster John Wooden who owns ‘GeorgeWBush.org.’ When Wooden got the treasure trove of Rove-ian ravings, he sent them to us.

And we dug in, decoding, and mapping the voters on what Griffin called, ‘Caging’ lists, spreadsheets with 70,000 names of voters marked for challenge. Overwhelmingly, these were Black and Hispanic voters from Democratic precincts.

The Griffin scheme was sickly brilliant. We learned that the RNC sent first-class letters to new voters in minority precincts marked, ‘Do not forward.’ Several sheets contained nothing but soldiers, other sheets, homeless shelters. Targets included the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida and that city’s State Street Rescue Mission. Another target, Edward Waters College, a school for African- Americans.

If these voters were not currently at their home voting address, they were tagged as ‘suspect’ and their registration wiped out or their ballot challenged and not counted. Of course, these â?~cages’ captured thousands of students, the homeless and those in the military though they are legitimate voters. We telephoned those on the hit list, including one Randall Prausa. His wife admitted he wasn’t living at his voting address: Randall was a soldier shipped overseas.

Randall and other soldiers like him who sent in absentee ballots, when challenged, would lose their vote. And they wouldn’t even know it.

And by the way, it’s not illegal for soldiers to vote from overseas – even if they’re Black.

But it is illegal to challenge voters en masse where race is an element in the targeting. So several lawyers told us, including Ralph Neas, famed civil rights attorney with People for the American Way.

Griffin himself ducked our cameras, but his RNC team tried to sell us the notion that the caging sheets were, in fact, not illegal voter hit lists, but a roster of donors to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Republican donors at homeless shelters?

Over the past weeks, Griffin has said he would step down if he had to face Congressional confirmation. However, the President appointed Griffin to the law enforcement post using an odd little provision of the USA Patriot Act that could allow Griffin to skip Congressional questioning altogether.

Therefore, I have a suggestion for Judiciary members. Voting law expert Neas will be testifying today before Conyers’ Committee on the topic of illegal voter ‘disenfranchisement’ – the fancy word for stealing elections by denying voters’ civil rights.

Maybe Conyers should hold a line-up of suspected vote thieves and let Neas identify the perpetrators. That should be easy in the case of the Caging List Criminal. He’d only have to look for the guy wearing a new shiny lawman’s badge.

• Read the full story, ‘Caging Lists: Great White Republicans Take Voters Captive’ in Greg Palast’s [3] Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales from a White House Gone Wild. The new edition, with a new chapter on Theft of the Election, will be released April 24th (by Penguin/Plume in paperback).

http://www.gregpalast.com/madhouse/index.php/order-the-book/

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident

March 8th, 2007 - by admin

Leon Hadar / The American Conservative – 2007-03-08 23:11:31

http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_02_26/article2.html

Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Spoiling for Another Fight, the United States May Try to Provoke Iran

(February 26, 2007 Issue) — The Iraq War has produced many, sometimes contradictory, historical analogies, ranging from Munich to the fall of Saigon, as pundits highlight their dubious relevance to Mesopotamia.

Following President Bush’s Jan. 11 speech on U.S. policy in Iraq, in which he accused Tehran of meddling and threatened to “interrupt” the flow of support to Iraqi insurgents, Sen. Chuck Hagel added a new analogy: Nixon’s decision to expand the war in Vietnam into Cambodia as part of a strategy to “interrupt” the flow of support to those other insurgents, the National Liberation Front, from sanctuaries along Cambodia’s eastern border.

“[O]nce you get to hot pursuit, no one can say we won’t engage across border,” Hagel told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “Some of us remember 1970 and Cambodia, and our government lied to us and said we didn’t cross the border,” he said. “When you set in motion the kind of policy the president is talking about here, it is very, very dangerous.”

But Cambodia was never a regional power in Southeast Asia in the way that Iran is today. Like North Vietnam’s anti-U.S. strategy in South Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, Iran has the military power and policy influence to disrupt U.S. policies in neighboring Iraq, with the Shi’ite militias it supports playing a similar role to that of the Vietcong in South Vietnam.

Thus the correct historical analogy may not be Nixon’s secret air campaign and incursions into Cambodia, but the Tonkin Gulf incident—the alleged pair of attacks by North Vietnamese naval forces against American destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used to win public support and congressional approval for escalating the confrontation with North Vietnam.

For years, the U.S. government asserted that the Americans had done nothing to provoke a naval engagement in the Tonkin Gulf. In fact, the Johnson administration argued that it acted with restraint by refusing to respond to the first attack on Aug. 2, 1964, and retaliated only after North Vietnam made a second attack two days later.

But recent research, based among other things on declassified signal intercepts as well as personal recollections, suggests that the second attack probably didn’t take place and that the first was provoked by covert U.S. action against North Vietnam.

According to respected military historian and Vietnam expert John Prados, the U.S. had been pursuing a program of covert naval commando attacks since January 1964 to pressure Hanoi to stop sponsoring operations in South Vietnam.

Prados, who as a fellow with the National Security Archive at The George Washington University studied many declassified intercepts, White House tapes, and other documents related to the Tonkin Gulf incident, has concluded that contrary to the Johnson administration’s characterization of the Tonkin Gulf incident—that an American warship simply happened to be cruising in the Gulf to exert a U.S. presence—“the naval battle between the destroyer USS Maddox and several North Vietnamese torpedo boats occurred on August 2, 1964, in the immediate aftermath of a series of 34-A maritime raids on North Vietnamese coastal targets,” including two offshore islands.

When Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara briefed U.S. lawmakers on the incident, however, he asserted that the raids on North Vietnam were South Vietnamese naval missions and had nothing to do with the United States, Prados reports.

But the major challenge to the official version of the Tonkin Gulf incident has focused on another question: did a second attack on U.S. warships occur on the night of Aug. 4? In the aftermath of the naval battle of Aug. 2, President Johnson ordered a second U.S. destroyer, the USS C. Turner Joy, to join the Maddox and sail to the Gulf of Tonkin.

On the night of Aug. 4, both ships reported that they were coming under attack again and sent messages reporting contacts with the enemy. It was after that alleged second attack that President Johnson ordered retaliatory bombing and asked for the congressional resolution, which passed on Aug. 7.

But the certainty of the second attack was never as clear as the first. “The supposed surface action took place at night and in poor weather,” Prados recalls. “The skipper and four seamen aboard the C. Turner Joy variously claimed having seen a searchlight, boat cockpit lights, smoke at a location where they claimed their gunfire had hit a Vietnamese vessel in the water, and one, or perhaps two, torpedo wakes.” But no physical evidence such as wreckage, bodies, or photographs from Aug. 4 were ever discovered.

Indeed, the documents and transcripts that have been released by the National Security Agency and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum tend to support the consensus among researchers that the “second attack” never happened. Retired Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, meeting with McNamara in 1995, categorically denied that Vietnamese gunboats attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, while admitting to the attack on Aug. 2.

Furthermore, on Oct. 31, 2005, the New York Times reported that according to a classified finding, NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok concluded in 2001 that North Vietnamese intercepts were falsified and evidence skewed, if not for political motives, to cover translation mistakes.

Historians will continue to debate whether policymakers were aware that intelligence reports about the incidents were incomplete—Johnson is said to have told Undersecretary of State George Ball, “Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish”—or whether the administration believed it was providing Congress with accurate information.

What is certain, however, is that the Johnson and his advisers wanted military action against Hanoi and used the incident as a pretext to seek a resolution approving the use of force and creating legal justification for full-blown war.

Critics of the Bush administration have invoked Tonkin before, accusing the White House of citing flawed intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and then trying to cover-up these political and bureaucratic machinations. And as is the case with the Tonkin Gulf incident, we will probably have to wait for the declassification of government documents before we find out whether President Bush and his advisers were aware that their allegations were based on questionable evidence.

But as storm clouds gather over the Persian Gulf, those who studied the administration’s modus operandi in the period leading to the ouster of Saddam Hussein are wondering whether the White House is again manipulating evidence to create the conditions for a U.S. military confrontation.

The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, has sharply criticized the administration’s increasingly combative stance, telling the New York Times that efforts to portray Iran as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion. He warned that the administration is building a case even as intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran’s internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East. “To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again,” the senator said. “This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre.”

At the same time, the decision by the Bush administration to appoint Adm. William Fallon to oversee military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has raised red flags among observers in Washington. Why choose a navy admiral to lead two ground wars in the Middle East and South Asia unless you are expecting an “incident” that would trigger a military confrontation with Iran? If that happened, Iran would retaliate by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz, and perhaps hitting oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia; the U.S. Navy would then play a key role in protecting the oil flowing from the Persian Gulf.

The Bush administration’s decision to dispatch a second carrier group to the Persian Gulf—the USS John C. Stennis —to back up the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, marking the first time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the U.S. has had two carrier battle groups in the Gulf, raises more concern, as did President Bush’s authorization of American forces in Iraq to pursue Iranian operatives involved in aiding insurgents.

Those like Rockefeller who suspect that the administration is gearing up for war against Iran through a campaign of disinformation could also point to recent media reports that the U.S. is investigating possible Iranian involvement in an attack that killed five American soldiers in Karbala, as well as the continuing barrage of statements by top administration officials accusing Iran of meddling in Iraq.

At the Senate confirmation hearing for his nomination to be deputy secretary of state, intelligence chief John Negroponte said, “Iran has been emboldened in its behavior during the past couple of years and has played a more assertive role and that certainly manifests itself in Iraq, where we have increasing evidence that they have been providing lethal assistance to extremist Shia groups in that country.” Like other officials, Negroponte has downplayed the notion that the U.S. is using “gun diplomacy” to deal with Iran and suggests that Washington is just trying, in the aftermath of setbacks in Iraq, to reassert its position in the Persian Gulf.

But Sen. Barack Obama warned during a hearing against drifting into hostilities with Iran: “You’ve got a policy that appears to be purposely somewhat ambiguous in terms of how the administration is going to pursue Iranians who are on Iraqi soil. This has led to grave concern on the part of many observers that we are stumbling into a more aggressive posture …”

If the past is any guide, we may less stumble than step—while claiming to have been pushed. You say “Persian Gulf,” I say “Tonkin Gulf.” Let’s go to war.

Leon Hadar is a Cato Institute research fellow in foreign-policy studies and author, most recently, of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East.
Copyright © 2006

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

China Calls US Actions in Iraq Violation of Human Rights

March 7th, 2007 - by admin

Canadian Press / Associated Press – 2007-03-07 23:38:42

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2007/03/07/3713521-ap.html

BEIJING (March 7, 2007) — China blasted the United States today for trampling on Iraq’s sovereignty, using its campaign against terrorism as an excuse to carry out torture and violate the rights of its citizens.

The charges came in the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006, China’s response to US criticism of its human rights record issued by the US State Department on Tuesday.

“As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights conditions in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but avoided touching on the human rights situation in the United States,” the report said.

“We urge the US government to acknowledge its own human rights problems and stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights,” it said.

The report, the eighth year China has answered the State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world, was released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, through the Xinhua News Agency.
It said the United States has used its military power to trespass on the sovereignty of other countries and violate human rights.

The Chinese report cites US news stories estimating more than 655,000 Iraqis have died in Iraq since war started in March 2003 and repeats charges of atrocities carried out by US forces.

It said the United States has “a flagrant record” of violating the Geneva Conventions by systematically abusing prisoners in Iraq and in Afghanistan, citing severe mistreatment of prisoners in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison as one example.

The report said the international image of the United States has been hurt by these rights violations that flaunted the banner of “safeguarding human rights.”

In its report, the State Department said China’s human rights record deteriorated in 2006, with officials harassing and arresting reporters, activists and defence lawyers seeking to exercise their rights.
It also faulted China for endemic corruption, discrimination against women and minorities, government control of courts and judges and Internet censorship.

The State Department said China had tightened restrictions on press and speech freedoms, executed people on the day of their conviction or immediately after an appeal was denied and restricted people trying to assemble, practise religion and travel.

China countered today, saying the United States has a poor domestic human rights record, with its citizens suffering “increasing civil rights infringements” as the US government put average Americans under intense surveillance as part of terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

It cited US reports that said nearly three-quarters of the terrorism suspects seized by the United States in the five years following the attacks have not made been put on trial due to lack of evidence.

The report also criticized the United States for not protecting its citizen’s economic and social rights, saying the US Census Bureau estimated 37 million people lived in poverty in the United States in 2005, or about one in eight Americans.

“The ethnic minorities are at the bottom of American society,” the Chinese report said.

The document quotes a US Justice Department report that said there were 5.2 million violent crimes in the United States in 2005, the highest number in 15 years.

© The Canadian Press, 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Iran-Qaeda Scandal: Cheney’s Covert Plan

March 7th, 2007 - by admin

Michael Carmichael / Global Research – 2007-03-07 23:33:05

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CAR20070304&articleId=4992

(March 4, 2007) — The Taliban’s attempted assassination of US Vice President Dick Cheney earlier this week in Afghanistan highlighted a supreme irony. Immediately after hearing what he described as a, “loud boom,” Cheney was swiftly whisked into a bomb shelter in a replay of his movements on 9/11.

Two days before the suicide attack (allegedly by the Taliban) — that claimed the lives of 23 people at the Bagram Air Base and targeted Vice President Cheney — a scandal of monumental proportions had just surfaced in America.

The New Yorker’s ace investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, had done it again with his latest earth-shattering exposé. Hersh revealed Dick Cheney and his henchmen had deliberately set about inciting chain reactions of sectarian violence and civil wars across the Middle East via a massive covert operation disguised as a shift of geopolitical strategy.

It was therefore entirely appropriate that the earth itself opened up in Bagram and came close to swallowing up the main perpetrator of this seemingly unstoppable nightmare — namely US Vice President Dick Cheney. Now, instead of launching a war against Iran, Cheney with Bush’s complicity, have pulled the trigger on a covert war of global proportions pitting Sunnis against Shias.

According to Hersh, Cheney’s covert plan involves massive US financial backing for militant Sunni groups that are known to be inimical to the Shia militias of the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, Hamas and Hezbollah all of whom support the revolutionary government of Iran.

The US-backed Sunnis include the Muslim Brotherhood, a vast and powerful multinational organization, who are definitely on friendly terms with Al-Qaeda and its allies, including the Taliban. The government of Saudi Arabia is Sunni, although they are deeply despised by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda because of their subservience to their masters in big oil and George Bush’s America.

The Israeli right and a rogue faction of the royal family of Saud who are loyal to Prince Bandar bin Sultan are backing Cheney’s covert plan. The ultimate objective of Cheney’s redirection of US strategy in the region is to redraw the national boundaries of the Middle East and to give an explosive multiple birth to a sprawling litter of new cantons, colonies, domains, enclaves, protectorates, statelets and territories all pledged to American and Israeli dominance of the region and its precious oil, gas and energy reserves.

For starters, Lebanon is to be dismembered so as to form a chain of new semi-autonomous and religiously segregated cantons: one Sunni, one Christian, one Alawi and one Shia. Iraq will suffer the worst and most disfiguring surgery. Baghdad will become a City State and poised perilously on the border between the new Arabic Sunni and Arabic Shia states. The southern borders of the Arabic Shia State will straddle Kuwait and extend down south to include the oil-fields of southern Iran on the east and an oil-rich strip of Saudi Arabia on the west.

A new state of Free Kurdistan will be separated from the Sunni and Shia enclaves of Iraq. A Greater Jordan will be carved out of Saudi Arabia to provide more space for the relocation of Palestinians, and a Free Baluchistan that will include Helmand province and Kandahar will be severed from Afghanistan. Perhaps, most controversially, an Islamic Sacred State that will include the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Hejaz will be surgically separated from the rest of Saudi Arabia.

Coincidentally, at the same time that Cheney is fomenting religious conflicts and civil wars between the Sunnis and the Shias, the US-backed government in Iraq is poised to hand over control of Iraqi oil production to the western oil companies.

In this plan, the government of Iraq will retain their ownership of the oil reserves, but they are irrevocably awarding the right to extract the oil reserves exclusively to big oil. Given this sequence of events, Dick Cheney might argue for the Jungian principle of synchronicity – an unexplainable consequence of simultaneity sometimes as pleasant as serendipity but sometimes as painful as catastrophe – but few would believe him.

Cheney might implore, “Why not redistribute the oil wealth of Iraq to big oil at the same time the US shifts its strategy to trigger a wave of religious confrontations designed to dismember, dissect and carve up the entire region while masking the expropriation of the Iraqi people’s oil rights?” The reply could be, “Because this crude tactic is blatantly immoral, unethical and illegal.” But, those trivialities have never stopped Cheney before, nor are they likely to stop him now.

As America’s most celebrated investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh’s list of explosive revelations has included:
• the My Lai Massacre;
• provocative US intelligence operations that triggered the Soviet attack on KAL Flight 007;
• Robert Maxwell’s complicity in the arrest of Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu and
• a growing series of exposés spinning out of the Iraq War and the planning for the Iran War.

While Hersh’s record of exposing major scandals is firmly established, nothing that he has ever reported to date approaches the enormity of his latest investigation. In his paper titled simply, The Redirection, Hersh reveals presidential involvement in the massive covert operation to ignite a religious war in the Middle East as a prelude to the forcible reconfiguration of the region into a new patchwork quilt of pliable and supplicant theocratic cantons designed to enshrine the security of Israel and the over-arching supremacy of US oil interests.

For his part, Hersh urges Congress to perform its constitutional duty to oversee the massive expenditures for the covert operations that he traces to untold billions in raw currency in US dollars that were conveniently stockpiled in Iraq where they were earmarked for “reconstruction.”

However, instead of rebuilding the cities and infrastructure of Iraq, the mega-billions in US cash are now being subverted to the bank accounts of radical Sunni groups known to be in league with Al Qaeda and their patrons – the Taliban.
Hersh quotes well-known regional authorities who are confidently predicting a US and Israel-backed confrontation between Shia and Sunni forces.

The covert American-Israeli plan to expand the Iraq Civil War to engulf the entire region in a blazing arc of atrocities and ultra-violence that will extend from Lebanon to Afghanistan is the brainchild of the neoconservative cell remaining in power in the Bush White House:

• Vice President Dick Cheney;
• National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams;
• Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and their co-conspirator from Saudi Arabia,

Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the former Saudi Ambassador to Washington who now finds himself at odds with other factions of the royal family of Saud.

As the undeniable head of the severely weakened neoconservative rump left dangling after the sackings of Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton, it is no secret that Dick Cheney is being isolated. Cheney’s political isolation has forced him to take matters into his own hands, and he has shamelessly invaded the turf of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in recent months. Uncharacteristically, Cheney was flushed out in December when he met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, apparently to forge the tentative alliance for the redirection of US policy to channel massive covert funding to Sunni militants.

Last week, Cheney visited Pakistan ostensibly to castigate President Pervez Musharraf and to insist on more assertive direct action against the Taliban. After the bomb ripped through Bagram, Cheney – who is usually optimistic and chipper — appeared to be chastened, silent, even morose.

Two days later, Musharraf announced the arrest of a leading Taliban figure, and sectarian violence broke out near the border between Pakistan and Iran. In the western media, the press is filled with stories describing Cheney’s fall from grace and his duel with Rice over the presidential power to dictate foreign policy.

Another peculiar aspect of the case involves Dick Cheney’s elder daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, the mother of five. The Vice President arranged for Elizabeth Cheney to be appointed to the office of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the State Department.

In her official capacity, Elizabeth Cheney also headed a shadowy operation called the Iran-Syrian Operations Group (ISOG) that was empowered to allocate funds totalling circa $80 million per year to dissident groups in Iran.

In recent months, the Bush White House has issued a series of complaints about Iran arming terrorists in Iraq with explosive devices that have been traced to the Iranian military. At this time, Congress does not know whether any of the funding directed by Cheney’s elder daughter was subverted to arm terrorists – or not.

This weekend, armed conflict in the border area between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan has been traced to Sunni terrorists in Iran who are funded by America. Coming as it does promptly after Cheney’s visit to the region and his shake-up of Pakistani intelligence officials, this troubling aspect of the current policy redirection detailed by Hersh should surely become the subject of Congressional scrutiny.

In the finale to his latest article, Hersh implores Senator Jay Rockefeller and Senator Ron Wyden of the Intelligence Committee to hold public hearings to probe, to expose and to investigate as promptly and thoroughly as possible what should now be termed: The Iran-Qaeda Scandal.

The 110th Congress promised great accomplishments. In their first 100 hours, they did pass some impressive legislation. However, due to the political dynamics — and the weakened makeup of the Senate, there is actually little room for the Democrats’ razor thin majority to manoeuvre against a presidential veto. Impeachment, that requires 67 votes for conviction in the Senate, is — at this time — out of the question.

However, that situation could change if a new strategic course were adopted – one that would challenge the legality of Cheney’s covert redirection of US policy into a grand scheme to ignite a religious war of global proportions.

It is crystal clear, thanks to Hersh, that Congress should launch an investigation next week into Cheney’s costly and dangerous covert war. It would be surprising if in the course of this investigation that the Senate did not discover incriminating evidence against the Vice President linking him to the:
• abuses of presidential power;
• obstruction of justice;
• misappropriation of federal funds and
• violations of US and international law against the incitement of war, conflict and acts of terrorism.

Already more unpopular than his deeply unpopular president, Cheney should actually be the strongest, fittest and most worthy candidate for impeachment in the crosshairs of the Senate snipers. Dr Steven Jonas has been advocating that Congress ought to target Cheney for impeachment rather than Bush — and Hersh has now provided the ammunition for what appears to be an airtight case for high crimes and misdemeanours against the risk-loving Vice President. Now that he is seen to be a far greater political liability to the Republican administration, members of his own party will begin to move against Cheney.

If Cheney were to be impeached and removed from his office, the way would be cleared for Bush to nominate his successor. This tactic would give the fibrillating Republican ticket a much-needed syringe of adrenaline. At this point, Cheney is without any shadow of doubt the biggest liability for any potential Republican presidential nominee. Bush is seen as a broken alcoholic bungler who thinks he talks to god, while Cheney is now seen as an increasingly dangerous and violence-prone lunatic.

If Cheney were to go, Bush would be able to shift the focus of criticism away from himself as well as turn his vast political powers to the selection of his nominee for the grandest appointment any president can make: a Vice-President worthy of succeeding him.

The current Republican presidential hopefuls present a rich field for Bush to consider as Cheney’s replacement. John McCain would instantly become the lightning rod for all criticism of Bush’s handling of the war.

Rudolf Giuliani would vividly recall the defining moment of the Bush presidency –—9/11 when Bush’s popularity topped ninety percent. Mitt Romney would invigorate the grassroots and the evangelicals while providing a fresh face and a relatively clean slate — the closest thing to a new beginning Bush is likely to get. Condoleezza Rice could be a much-needed form of political insurance against both of the leading Democratic contenders: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The impeachment of Dick Cheney for wrecking US foreign policy with his covert war pitting the Sunnis against the Shias could be seen as the potential salvation of the Republican Party, an organization that increasingly sees itself as inescapably doomed to decades of dark and divisive political oblivion.

The Senate investigation of Iran-Qaeda should, once again, subpoena the documents of the Vice President’s secret briefings on energy policy that have been classified since early 2001. Continued reticence to cooperate with a Senatorial investigation into the legality of covert operations to precipitate a global religious war between the Sunnis and the Shias – with the Bush-Cheney White House arming, backing and financing the Sunnis — would be untenable in today’s political climate.

If the White House were to be uncooperative and refused to respond to a subpoena for the background documents, the Senate should subpoena the Vice President, Ambassador Khalilzad, Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Elliot Abrams. Then, these witnesses should be invited to testify in public about their covert operations to launch a massive bloodbath to protect the financial interests of the big oil companies. That’s the American way.

While there is actually a myriad of potentially incriminating investigations into Bush Era shenanigans, none offer the rich target field presented by the Iran-Qaeda scandal. The back-story is riveting.

The United States has a very chequered post-war history with Iran. In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh after he announced his plan to nationalize the oil reserves of Iran.

The US supported the predatory autocracy of Shah Reza Pahlavi, and the CIA trained his infamous intelligence organziation, the Savak. The cruelty and excess of the Shah’s reign paved the way for the Iranian Revolution in the 1970s. Revolutionaries held 53 American bureaucrats hostage for more than one year, a crisis that triggered the downfall of the progressive presidency of Jimmy Carter.

Covert meetings designed to undermine Carter’s campaign for re-election between former CIA agents supporting the Reagan-Bush ticket and their Iranian counterparts only became public knowledge in the aftermath of the Reagan presidency. The elder brother of George H. W. Bush, Prescott Bush supervised these covert negotiations that led to the retention of the US hostages to cripple Carter’s campaign in 1980.

The senior Bush was aided by William Casey, who became one of the most controversial Directors of Central Intelligence in American history through his involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal that occurred during the second term of the Reagan-Bush government. Some see the October Surprise as the act of conception of the Iran-Contra scandal.

This treasonous scandal has never received a balanced investigation by Congress, but the incriminating facts were made known by a fearless American academic, Gary Sick, who detailed the conspiracy in his authoritative book, The October Surprise.

Swiftly attacked by Daniel Pipes, Bush-loyalist and neocon ideologue extraordinaire, Sick became the target of the usual suspects who arranged a Congressional whitewash during the reign of Bush the First to prepare the goundwork for his re-election in 1992.

But, the American people did not buy it. In 1992, Bill Clinton defeated Bush who had become an object of derision for his political abuse of the military and intelligence communities and his unpopular economic and foreign policies.

The case of former intelligence officials actively collaborating with agents of a foreign power inimical to America to rig a US presidential election is a lingering disgrace that prefigured the continuous confrontation between the US and Iran that continues to the present day.

During the Hostage Crisis, the US urged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran to bring about regime change in Tehran. Boasting that he would be in Tehran in days, Saddam led the west’s proxy war against the Iranian Revolution. The war did not go as Saddam and his backers had hoped.

The conflict stagnated into a war of attrition. The US policy of ostensibly favouring Saddam led to the infamous handshake between Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, as well as the arming of the Iraqi Republican Guard with sophisticated weaponry including high grades of weaponized Anthrax.

In the course of the war, President Reagan and members of his government ordered Colonel Oliver North to supervise a covert plan to arm Iran — fulfilling the pledge made during the October Surprise negotiations.

The plan was insidious for the Iran-Contra conspirators arranged to funnel the money raised by the sale of arms to Tehran to fund the Contras, a thinly disguised cadre of death squads running amok in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America.

One year after the bitter Iran-Iraq War drew to its close in 1988, Saddam asked the US for permission to annex Kuwait. Bush the First was president, and his ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, met with Saddam and deliberately failed to deny his request for permission to invade Kuwait.

James A. Baker was Bush’s Secretary of State at the time, and Ambassador Glaspie specifically cited him as the source for the American position of neutrality vis a vis Saddam’s annexation of Kuwait.

US Greenlights Saddam’s Invasion: The Transcript
Here is a verbatim transcript of April Glaspie’s official granting Saddam permission to invade Kuwait:

“We have no opinion on your Arab — Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”

Upon hearing this statement, Saddam Hussein smiled, and the meeting was closed as the fate of Kuwait was sealed.
After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Bush, Sr. and Baker felt the sting of political backlash and swiftly reversed their position. The Persian Gulf War ensued, and Saddam was put back into his box and kept there until the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.[I believe it was planned all the way, not a reversal of fortune.]

The events leading up to the confrontation between the Bush-Cheney White House and Iran have been revealed in Hersh’s three papers: The Next Wars; The Iran Plans and The Redirection. Taken collectively, these publications now expose the deeply unpopular Vice President to impeachment in the US Congress.

The Iran-Qaeda crisis is a far more serious threat to the national security of the United States than the Watergate break-in. Iran-Qaeda is much more sinister than the Iran-Contra conspiracy. Iran-Qaeda is far more foolish than either of those historic scandals by an extremely wide margin.
Scandals in American history define their eras.

The excessive bribery and corruption of Tea Pot Dome heralded the Wall Street Crash and the end of laissez faire capitalism. The Watergate crisis signalled the need for closer Congressional scrutiny of the operations of the White House and the dangerous accumulation of extraordinary powers in the presidency.

The Iran-Contra Scandal illustrated the prescience of Eisenhower’s prophecy of caution, to beware the influence, whether sought or unsought, of the military industrial complex. The emerging Iran-Qaeda scandal encompasses the lessons of all three major American twentieth century scandals:

• unprecedented levels of official corruption;

• dangerous levels of unilateralist and covert presidential power and

• the excessive abuses of power by the military-industrial lobby and their useful idiots in the Bush-Cheney White House and their reliable allies in pliant nations from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

The world is already outraged at the war-torn Bush-Cheney presidency, but when the facts of Cheney’s reckless and piratical hijacking of foreign policy become generally available to the mainstream the domestic reaction against the latest American scandal will be absolutely volcanic.

America’s first president, George Washington, cautioned the young nation against becoming involved in foreign entanglements.

“Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?”

While America did become involved in two world wars, but both were raging before America became engaged. Cheney’s redirection of America’s strategy contradicts Washington’s dictum by inciting foreign wars and campaigns of terror against America and its allies — a flagrant violation of America’s original military and diplomatic traditions.
Thomas Jefferson stated, “We see the wisdom of Solon’s remark, that no more good must be attempted than the nation can bear.” Cheney’s reckless escalation of covert operations in the Middle East is proof that he is the antithesis of Solon and Jefferson.

One of America’s greatest presidents, John Quincy Adams, warned that America must not seek out monsters to destroy lest she would become “dictatress of the world.”

The spirits of departed American presidents are hovering over the monuments and buildings of Washington gathering for a perfect storm of constitutional ultra-violence and the ensuing battle for the hearts and minds of America over the nemesis of Iran-Qaeda.

Quotations from Seymour Hersh’s, The Redirection
“The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney.”

“(Walid) Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be ‘the ones to talk to,’ Jumblatt said.”

“Jumblatt said, ‘We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.’”

“Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. ‘I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians’ —whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—‘won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.’”

References
• Cheney takes refuge in shelter after Afghan blast
THE REDIRECTION — Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Hersh: Bush Funneling Money to al Qaeda-Related Groups
America’s Alliance With bin Laden — We’re playing the Sunni card in the Middle East – and that means playing footsie with al-Qaeda
How Cheney bombed in Afghanistan__Dead-eye Dick loses grip in wind of change
Gunfire over the Pakistan border rattles Iranian leaders
US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack__Collision Course With Iran
Iraq poised to hand control of oil fields to foreign firms
US’s Iraq oil grab is a done deal
The compelling case that confrontation is still on the cards__AIPAC Demands “Action” on Iran__Operation infinite difference
APRIL GLASPIE TRANSCRIPT

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. www.globalresearch.ca

© Copyright Michael Carmichael , The Planetary Movement , 2007

Dismal Conditions for Wounded US Soldiers Stir Fresh Debate about Iraq War

March 7th, 2007 - by admin

Beth Gorham / Canadian Press – 2007-03-07 23:18:02

http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=d3fa8b5c-e008-484e-bd1c-3fd08db1af1c&k=46680

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2007) — Some call it the Katrina of 2007, the latest shocking evidence of Americans in desperate need who’ve been failed by the government.

But this time it’s not hurricane victims, it’s soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the dismal outpatient care and bureaucratic nightmares they’ve faced at home are stirring fresh debate about a war most Americans already oppose.

It’s not just the terrible tales of shoddy conditions at Walter Reed army centre in the US capital, though it’s hard to fathom how it occurred at one of the most prestigious medical facilities in the country.

In a series last month, the Washington Post newspaper documented a mouldy overflow building filled with cockroaches and mice, housing more than 80 recovering soldiers.

But the Post also painted a larger troubled picture of bureaucratic indifference to wounded soldiers that’s impeding their recovery.

“Obviously, it’s a tragedy,” said former US senator Bob Dole, tabbed by President George W. Bush to co-chair a blue-ribbon commission on the entire system of military and veterans’ hospitals. “Obviously, someone dropped the ball.” Co-chair Donna Shalala, a former US health secretary, described it as an “embarrassment to the country.”

For Democrats, it’s a chance to further attack a White House already under siege by equating the lack of resources for veterans with spotty war plans and inadequate troop levels.

The situation at Walter Reed is a direct reflection of the Bush administration’s fumbled strategy for the entire war, said Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq vet who lost both her legs and was treated there.

Duckworth, who lost a congressional race last fall, credits the centre with saving her life and says the staff is excellent but overwhelmed by more casualties than expected.

“There was a complete lack of planning on how to take care of this many wounded warriors,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “They didn’t even plan to be at war this long.”

Bush, already suffering from low approval ratings largely based on anger about Iraq, is hoping the commission will restore confidence in the system for injured soldiers.

“Anything other than excellent care is unacceptable,” said Bush, who also convened a task force of seven cabinet secretaries to determine immediate steps for improving care.
“Any report of medical neglect will be taken seriously by this administration.”

Defence Secretary Robert Gates also acted quickly, firing the army’s civilian secretary a day after the hospital head was forced out, while chiding other army officials for being too defensive and not working harder to solve the problems.
But it appears there’s a lot more trouble ahead.

Lt.-Gen. Kevin Kiley, the surgeon general of the army who’s job could also be in jeopardy, said this week concerns aren’t isolated to Walter Reed.

“What’s going on (there) in terms of the frustration of the staffs and the patients is probably mirrored to some extent in most of our other facilities, as I hear commanders talk to us about these issues.”

And Virginia US Representative Tom Davis told a congressional hearing this week he fears the hospital may be just “the tip of the iceberg.”

In emotional testimony on Capital Hill, veterans and their relatives gave painful accounts of neglect. Staff Sgt. John Shannon, wearing a patch over his left eye, said he just wants to leave Walter Reed’s outpatient system.

Annette McLeod, wife of a wounded soldier, cried as she told legislators her husband’s first case manager at the centre treated him “like a dog” and the system is set up to protect the army. “We need to turn it around. We need to fight for the soldier.”

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said he was surprised and upset by the disclosures.

Pace said he never checked housing for outpatients on frequent trips to the facility but would start doing so. But it’s become clear many, including some legislators, were well aware of gaps in care.

Florida US Representative Bill Young, who often visited Walter Reed and other military facilities, told a hearing Wednesday he and his wife tried to solve some of the difficulties.

“We found soldiers doing rehab in the bloody boots they wore when they were injured, so we bought them proper shoes,” he said. “We found kids in housing whose parents were feeding them crackers and peanut butter because they had to save money since the army’s per-diem money had not arrived. So we bought them food, provided money for their long-term needs.”

Young didn’t go public with his concerns, he said, because he didn’t want to “undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and give the army a black eye while fighting a war.”

“We worked person to person, directly with civilian and military leaders, to solve the individual problems without casting blame on the many good functions at Walter Reed.”

But Young, a member of the House appropriations subcommittee on defence, blasted Kiley for continually telling legislators he had everything he needed. “All you had to do was ask for help and not rebuff us when we tried to offer help.”

“My impression,” said committee chairman John Murtha, “is that the military was constrained, even intimidated, from telling me and other congressional members about the real problems and the real needs.”

“And I have to wonder: is the administration’s policy not to inform Congress?”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicolson, who will lead the government task force on imporving care, said the department is hiring 100 new patient advocates to help guide returning troops through the bureaucracy.

“If there is a case where a veteran gets lost in the system, or suffers anxiety, or their family does, as a result of something we’re not doing, that is unacceptable.”

© The Canadian Press, 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

New US Bomb Could Jumpstart Nuclear Arms Race

March 7th, 2007 - by admin

Haider Rizvi / One World – 2007-03-07 23:12:33

http://us.oneworld.net/article/view/146853/1/

(March 8, 2007) — A US plan to develop a new hydrogen bomb could spark production of new nuclear weapons by other countries, including several foes of the Bush administration, warn some of the nation’s leading arms control and disarmament advocacy groups.

Last Friday, the Department of Energy announced it was seeking to develop a new hydrogen bomb that would replace the existing W76 warhead now deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Many analysts say the Bush administration’s plan would undermine international efforts to control the spread of nuclear arms and would provide justification to those countries currently suspected of trying to build such weapons.

“It will not convince the Iranian Scylla, North Korean Charybdis, or any other less attention-grabbing nascent nuclear state that the US is serious about dampening the political value of nuclear weapons in its security policy,” says Travis Sharp, a research fellow at the Washington, DC-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

The Bush administration has justified the move by arguing that the condition of existing warheads essentially demands that a new hydrogen bomb be developed in the next two decades, but experts on nuclear weapons find this line of reasoning out of step with reality on the ground.

“The administration claims [it] is necessary in order to maintain long-term confidence in the future stockpile,” says John Isaacs, “but the fact is that the US stockpile has been confirmed ‘safe and reliable’ for at least another half century,” noting that the effectiveness of the existing stockpile is based on 50 years of research and over 1,000 underground nuclear tests.

Other nuclear policy experts agree with Isaacs’ view that the plan to build the new hydrogen bomb is unjustified.

“The main reason for new nuclear weapons – possible uncertainties about whether the specified projected yield of the existing weapons would remain precisely reliable – was recently invalidated by both the national nuclear weapon labs scientists and independent experts,” says Leonor Tomero, a non-proliferation policy expert at the Center.

No Need for “New” Nukes
Last November, a study carried out by American weapons laboratories and reviewed by JASON, an independent government advisory body of nuclear scientists, revealed that plutonium pits (the cores that trigger nuclear weapons) remain viable for at least 90 years.

“The concern was never that the existing weapons would not detonate,” according to Tomero, “the concern was that the weapons would not detonate at their precise expected yield. Even that is no longer a valid concern now.”

Despite the end of the Cold War in 1991, the United States continues to possess thousands of nuclear weapons. In addition to the United States, other major powers that have built huge nuclear arsenals include Russia, Britain, France, and China.

Currently the five countries combined have more than 36,000 nuclear warheads in their possession, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Sweden-based think tank.

In addition to the declared nuclear powers, India, Pakistan, and Israel are also believed to be in possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons and at this point, unlike Iran, which has joined international agreements against the spread of nuclear weapons, none of them seems willing to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran Asks US:
What about America’s Nuclear Inventory?

As Iran continues to claim that it has no intention to build nuclear weapons, in response to Western criticisms and suspicions surrounding its nuclear program it often points out the presence of thousands of nuclear weapons in the possession of the United States.

On Monday, a new report from a leading British scientist concluded that a military strike, rather than setting back Iran’s nuclear program, could actually speed up the country’s production of a nuclear weapon.

“[It] would certainly lead to a fast-track program to develop a small number of nuclear devices as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Frank Barry, the report’s author, about the likely Iranian reaction to any US military action.

Sponsored by the Oxford Research Group, an independent charity based in Britain, the study concluded that if Iran was moving toward nuclear-weapon capacity, it was doing so “relatively slowly,” with most estimates suggesting that no weapon would be produced within the next five years.

In his report, Dr. Barry argued that it is “much more likely” that, following an attack, all resources would be focused on the manufacture of “one or two crude” devices. “This realignment of Iran’s nuclear program towards a so-called ‘crash program’ could lead to a nuclear armed Iran within one or two years,” he said.

The report’s conclusions were fully backed by Dr. Hans Blix, the former UN chief nuclear inspector and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Armed attacks on Iran would very likely lead to the results they were meant to avoid – the building of nuclear weapons in three years,” Blix said in a foreword to the report.

In addition to their concerns about the negative implications for non-proliferation, some critics in Washington, such as Isaacs, worry that the focus of George W. Bush’s new nuclear policy could harm US interests.

“Costly warheads won’t help the US win the counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Isaacs, “and non-state actors like al-Qaeda do not respond to classic Cold War state-to-state nuclear deterrence.”

For this fiscal year, Bush is seeking more than $118 million to fund development of the new nuclear weapons (also known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead program).

Noting that Bush’s request for the new weapons is almost five times greater than the amount he asked for last year, experts at the Center say costs are likely to go much higher as the new weapons program moves into the production phase between 2009 and 2012.

Last Friday the Los Angeles Times reported that over the next two decades the cost of developing the new bomb might grow into the tens of billions of dollars.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy

March 6th, 2007 - by admin

Michel Chossudovsky / Global Research – 2007-03-06 23:21:35

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20070201&articleId=4659

The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy
From the Truman Doctrine to the Neo-Conservatives

Global Research, February 5, 2007

PERDANA GLOBAL PEACE ORGANISATION
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE:
EXPOSE WAR CRIMES – CRIMINALISE WAR
5-7 February 2007, Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur

1. The contemporary context
The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout, over a large part of the Middle East.

There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration, in liaison with Israel and NATO, is planning the launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in “an advanced state of readiness”.
If such a plan were to be launched, the war would escalate and eventually engulf the entire Middle-East Central Asian region.

The war could extend beyond the region, as some analysts have suggested, ultimately leading us into a World War III scenario.

The US-led naval deployment (involving a massive deployment of military hardware) is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean is broadly under the jurisdiction of NATO in liaison with Israel. Directed against Syria, it is conducted under the façade of a UN “peace-keeping” mission. In this context, the Israeli led war on Lebanon last Summer, which was conducive to countless atrocities and the destruction of an entire country, must be viewed as a stage of the broader US sponsored military road-map.

LEBANON: Civil defence rescuers carry the body of a woman away from a civilian car that was struck by an Israeli warplane missile- rmayleih juy 17 – AP

2. Naval Buildup in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean
The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada.

The naval buildup is coordinated with the air attacks. The planning of aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

While its contents remain classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the stockpiling and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

In recent developments, there are reports that Washington is planning to launch air attacks from military bases in Romania and Bulgaria. “American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania’s Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April [2007],” according to the Bulgarian news agency Novinite.

3. The Ultimate War Crime: Using Nuclear Weapons in a Conventional War theater
Despite Pentagon statements, which describe tactical nuclear weapons as “safe for the surrounding civilian population”, the use of nukes in a conventional war theater directed against Iran would trigger the ultimate war crime: a nuclear holocaust. The resulting radioactive contamination, which threatens future generations, would by no means be limited to the Middle East.

4. The “War on Terrorism”: Pretext to Wage War
In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States”. Mass casualty producing events, involving the death of civilians are being used to galvanize public opinion in support of a military agenda. The deaths of civilian are used to justify preemptive actions to defend the American homeland against an alleged outside enemy, who are identified as “Islamic terrorists”.

Mass Casualty Producing Events
“A terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.” General Tommy Franks,

“We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” (David Rockefeller)

“As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Grand Chessboard)

The presumption was that if such a 9/11 type event involving the deaths of civilians (mass casualty producing event) were to take place, Iran would, according to Cheney, be behind it, thereby providing a pretext for punitive bombings, much in the same way as the US sponsored attacks on Afghanistan in October 2001, allegedly in retribution for the alleged support of the Taliban government to the 9/11 terrorists.

More recently, several analysts have focussed on the creation of a “Gulf of Tonkin incident”, which would be used by the Bush administration as a pretext to wage war on Iran

5. The Real Objective Of This War Is Oil
The oil lies in Muslim lands. The objective is to take possession of the oil, transform countries into territories and redraw the map of the Middle East

War builds a fake “humanitarian agenda”. Throughout history, vilification of the enemy has been applied time and again with a view to ultimately justifying war and war crimes.

Demonization of the enemy serves geopolitical and economic objectives. Likewise, the campaign against “Islamic terrorism” (which is supported covertly by US intelligence) supports the conquest of oil wealth. The term “Islamo-fascism,” serves to degrade the policies, institutions, values and social fabric of Muslim countries, while also upholding the tenets of “Western democracy” and the “free market” as the only alternative for these countries.

The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region.

Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate.

In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Western countries including its major oil producers ( Canada, the US, Norway, the UK, Denmark and Australia) control approximately 4 percent of total oil reserves. (In the alternative estimate of the Oil and Gas Journal which includes Canada’s oil sands, this percentage would be of the the order of 16.5%.

The largest share of the World’s oil reserves lies in a region extending (North) from the tip of Yemen to the Caspian sea basin and (East) from the Eastern Mediterranean coastline to the Persian Gulf. This broader Middle East- Central Asian region, which is the theater of the US-led “war on terrorism” encompasses according to the estimates of World Oil, more than sixty percent of the World’s oil reserves. (See table below).

Iraq has five times more oil than the United States.
Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.

The major non-Muslim oil reserve countries are Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, China and Brazil. (See table)

The victims of war crimes are vilified Demonization is applied to an enemy, which possesses three quarters of the world’s oil reserves. “Axis of evil”, “rogue States”, “failed nations”, “Islamic terrorists”: demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America’s “war on terror”. They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. (See map).

The oil fields are encircled: NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN “peace keeping” operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian deployed as part of the “war on terrorism”.

6. Historical Background: From Hiroshima to the Preemptive Warfare Doctrine
What are the historical roots of this military agenda? What is the balance sheet of US sponsored war crimes extending from 1945 to the present?

Who Are the War Criminal?:
Bush Is Not the Only War Criminal on the Block

US war crimes and atrocities should be seen as the direct consequence of a foreign policy and military agenda, which supports US corporate interests, including the oil giants, the Wall Street financial establishment and the big six defense contractors.

The Middle East war is the culmination of a history of US sponsored military interventions.

The bombing of Hiroshima was the initial landmark leading to the formulation of a “preemptive” nuclear doctrine, where nukes are to be used in the conventional war theater.

There is a continuum: the bombing of Hiroshima was presented to public opinion as “safe for civilians” because Hiroshima was identified in President Truman’s August 9, 1945 radio address as “a military base”.__”The World will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians..”

(President Harry S. Truman in a radio speech to the Nation, August 9, 1945, Listen to Excerpt of his speech, By going through Truman’s diary, one has the distinct impression that he firmly believed that Hiroshima was a military target. Was he briefed on the consequences of the atom bomb?(President Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945).

Similarly, the use of nukes against Iran is presented as an act of self-defense, which according to the Pentagon, will minimize the risk of “collateral damage” and protect the lives of civilians.Prior the invasion of Iraq, the use of tactical nuclear weapons had been contemplated as a means to assassinate Saddam Hussein:
“If Saddam was arguably the highest value target in Iraq, then a good case could be made for using a nuclear weapon like the B61-11 to assure killing him and decapitating the regime” (Defense News, December 8, 2003).

More generally, mini-nukes are considered safe to be used in a conventional war theater:

“What’s needed now is something that can threaten a bunker tunneled under 300 meters of granite without killing the surrounding civilian population.” (Pentagon Official quoted in Michel Chossudovsky, 2006.)

These statements, which reflect US nuclear doctrine promote according to Federation of American Scientists (FAS) “the illusion that nuclear weapons could be used in ways which minimize their ‘collateral damage’, making them acceptable tools to be used like conventional weapons.” (See http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001 / click v54nl, italics added)

7. America’s Wars of the “Post War Era”
What is referred euphemistically as the “post war era” is in fact a period of continuous war and militarization. Since the end of the Second World War, this “long war” seeks to establish US hegemony worldwide.

This period is marked by a succession of US sponsored theater wars (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yugoslavia), various forms of military interventions including low intensity conflicts, “civil wars” (The Congo, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan) military coups, US sponsored death squadrons and massacres (Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines), covert wars led by US intelligence , etc.

This entire period (1945- present) has been marked by a succession of US sponsored wars and military-intelligence interventions in all major regions of the World (see map below).

Accounting for these various operations, the United States has attacked, directly or indirectly, some 44 countries in different regions of the developing world, since August 1945, a number of them many times (Eric Waddell, 2003):

“The avowed objective of these military interventions has been to effect ‘regime change’. The cloaks of “human rights” and of “democracy were invariably evoked to justify what were unilateral and illegal acts.” (Eric Waddell, 2003)

The foreign policy underpinnings of what is now referred to by Bush officials as the “long war” are to be found in what is known as the “Truman Doctrine”, first formulated by foreign policy adviser George F. Kennan in a 1948 in State Department brief.

What this 1948 document conveys is continuity in US foreign policy, from “Containment” to “Pre-emptive” War. It states in polite terms that the US should seek economic and strategic dominance through military means:

Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.

To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. (…)

In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to “be liked” or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and—for the Far East—unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better (George f. Kennan, 1948 State Department Brief)

8. Destroying Internationalism
The planned disintegration of the United Nations system as an independent and influential international body has been on the drawing board of US foreign policy since the inception of the United Nations in 1946. Its planned demise was an integral part of the Truman doctrine as defined in 1948. From the very inception of the UN, Washington has sought on the one hand to control it to its advantage, while also seeking to weakening and ultimately destroy the UN system. The outgoing Secretary General Kofi Annan became a tool of US foreign policy.

In the words of George Kennan:
“Occasionally, it [the United Nations] has served a useful purpose. But by and large it has created more problems than it has solved, and has led to a considerable dispersal of our diplomatic effort. And in our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part. (George Kennan, 1948)

In our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part. (George Kennan, 1948)

Although officially committed to the “international community”, Washington has largely played lip service to the United Nations. In recent years it has sought to undermine it as an institution. Since Gulf War I, the UN has largely acted as a rubber stamp. It has closed its eyes to US war crimes, it has implemented so-called peacekeeping operations on behalf of the Anglo-American invaders, in violation of the UN Charter.

9. From the Truman Doctrine to the Neo-Conservatives
The Neo-conservative agenda under the Bush administration should be viewed as the culmination of a (bipartisan) “Post War” foreign policy framework, which provides the basis for the planning of the contemporary wars and atrocities including the setting up of torture chambers, concentration camps and the extensive use of prohibited weapons directed against civilians.

From Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, to the CIA sponsored military coups in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the objective has been to ensure US military hegemony and global economic domination, as initially formulated under the “Truman Doctrine”. Despite significant policy differences, successive Democratic and Republican administrations, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush have carried out this global military agenda.

10. US War Crimes and Atrocities
This entire “post war period” is marked by extensive war crimes resulting in the death of more than ten million people. This figure does not include those who perished as a result of poverty, starvation and disease.

What we are dealing with is a criminal US foreign policy agenda. Criminalization does not pertain to one or more heads of State. It pertains to the entire State system, it’s various civilian and military institutions as well as the powerful corporate interests behind the formulation of US foreign policy, the Washington think tanks, the creditor institutions which finance the military machine.

War crimes are the result of the criminalization of the US State and foreign policy apparatus. We are dealing specifically with individual war criminals, but with a process involving decision makers acting at different level, with a mandate to carry out war crimes, following established guidelines and procedures.

What distinguishes the Bush administration in relation to historical record of US sponsored crimes and atrocities, is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are now openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain “the global war on terrorism” and support the spread of Western democracy.

11. Mechanisms of US Intervention
US sponsored crimes are not limited to the casualties of war and the physical destruction of the nation’s infrastructure.
Countries are destroyed, often transformed into territories, sovereignty is foregone, national institutions collapse, the national economy is destroyed through the imposition of “free market” reforms, unemployment becomes rampant, social services are dismantled, wages collapse, and people are impoverished.

In turn, the nation’s assets and natural resources are transferred into the hands of foreign investors through a privatization programme imposed by the invading forces.
12. The Perdana Initiative: Reversing the Tide of War
The Perdana Initiative to Criminalize War seeks to break the consensus.

Once that consensus is broken, the shaky legitimacy of the “Global War on Terrorism” collapses like a deck of cards. The War criminals in high office do not have a leg to stand on.
To reverse the tide of war requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, mosques, schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war which contemplates the use of nuclear weapons. The message should be loud and clear: It is not Iran which is a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel.

Debate and discussion must also take place within the Military and Intelligence community, particularly with regard to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, within the corridors of the US Congress, in municipalities and at all levels of government. Ultimately, the legitimacy of the political and military actors in high office must be challenged.

There seems to be a reluctance by members of Congress to exercise their powers under the US Constitution, with a view to preventing the unthinkable: the onslaught of a US sponsored nuclear war. The consequences of this inaction could be devastating. Once the decision is taken at the political level, it will be very difficult to turn the clock backwards.

Moreover, the antiwar movement has not addressed the US sponsored nuclear threat on Iran in a consistent way, in part due to divisions within its ranks, in part due to lack of information. Moreover, a significant sector of the antiwar movement considers that the “threat of Islamic terrorism” is real.

“We are against the war, but we support the war on terrorism.” This ambivalent stance ultimately serves to reinforce the legitimacy of the US national security doctrine which is predicated on waging the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

At this juncture, with the popularity of the Bush-Cheney regime at an all time low, a real opportunity exists to initiate an impeachment process, which could contribute to temporarily stalling the military agenda.

The corporate media also bear a heavy responsibility for the cover-up of US sponsored war crimes. Until recently these war preparations involving the use of nuclear weapons have been scarcely covered by the corporate media. The latter must also be forcefully challenged for their biased coverage of the Middle East war.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called “Homeland Security agenda” which has already defined the contours of a police State.

In response to the Perdana initaitve to criminalize war, it is essential to bring the US-Israeli war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America, Western Europe and Israel. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

ANNEX
A1 Categorization, Nature of US Intervention (44 countries)
CASUALTIES ARE NOT LIMITED TO KILLINGS IN THE WAR THEATER OR OTHER MILITARY-TYPE OPERATIONS,
WE MUST ALSO ASSESS THE BROAD ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND INSTITUIONAL MECHANISMS AS WELL AS THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF WAR AND ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
With regard to military and covert intelligence or other command type operations, we may distinguish between:
TW Theater War
MC US Instigated Military Coup
CW US Sponsored Civil War
MP Military policing
CO, Covert Intelligence operation, proxy armies, death squadrons,

Countries
Afghanistan TW CW MC CO, Angola CW CO, Argentina MC CO, Bangladesh MC, Bolivia MC, Bosnia TW CW, Brazil MC CO, Cambodia TW CW CO, Chile MC CO, Colombia CW CO, Congo TW CW, Dominican Republic MC MP CO, El Salvador CW, MC CO, Eritrea CW, Ethiopia CW , Guatemala MC CO, Grenada MP, Haiti MC MP CO, Honduras MC MP CO, Indonesia MC CO, Iran MC, Iraq MC TW CO, Japan TW , Laos TW CW, Lebanon TW CW CO MP, Liberia, CW, Macedonia MP, CW CO, Mozambique CW CO, Nicaragua CW CO, Nigeria CW CO,North Korea TW CW, Pakistan MC CO, Palestine CW CO, Panama MC MP, Philippines MC MP CO, Rwanda CW CO, Serbia CW CO, Somalia CW MP CO, Sierra Leone CW, South Korea CW TW CO, Sudan CW MP CO, Thailand MC CO, Uruguay MC CO, Venezuela MC, Vietnam TW MC CW, Zimbabwe CW
Historical examples of US sponsored war crimes

SELECTED COUNTRY CASES

Korea (1950-1953)
North Korea lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, an unprecedented percentage of suffered by any nation as a result of an armed conflict. General Lemay in charge of US operations in Korea candidly acknowledges that the US killed up to 20 percent of North Korea’s population over that three period of intensive bombings’

Vietnam (1954-1975)
According to Vietnamese sources, civilian casualties resulting from the Vietnam War were of the order of 4 million. Out of a population of 38 million during the period 1954-1975, Vietnamese casualties represent a 12-13% of the entire population

Indonesia
While Indonesia was not invaded by US forces, it experienced according to a CIA report, “one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century.” Ironically it was the CIA which instigated this plan.

“The 300-page CIA text fails to acknowledge the direct role of the US in the massacres It essentially “blames the victims of the killings — the supporters of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) — for their own deaths… The hundreds of thousands of people shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, or starved to death were labeled perpetrators, or would-be perpetrators of atrocities, just as culpable for the murder of the army generals as the handful of people who were truly guilty.”

The Congo (1998-2000)
The Congo (1998-2000) and The Sudan were US sponsored “civil wars”. Two years of war in the Congo (1998-2000) caused the deaths of an estimated 3.8 million people, mostly from starvation and disease.

Sudan
Two million deaths resulted from Sudan’s 18-year “civil war”, which is tied into securing control over oil reserves.

Nigeria-Biafra
One million people also died during the US sponsored Nigeria-Biafra conflict of the late 1960s, which was also linked to oil interests.

Rwanda (1994-1995)
Between 500,000 and a million people died as a result of the Rwandan “civil war” and genocide. Recent reports confirm that the US and Britain played a key role in triggering the ethnic massacres.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. www.globalresearch.ca

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalResearch.ca, 2007

Will the US, or Israel, Attack Iran?

March 6th, 2007 - by admin

David Morrison / Labour & Trade Union Review – 2007-03-06 23:02:26

http://www.ltureview.com/user/story.php?id=397

“I think that military action against Iran would be an absolute last resort, that any problems that we have with Iran, our first option should be diplomacy and working with our allies to try and deal with the problems that Iran is posing to us.

“I think that we have seen, in Iraq, that once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable. And I think that the consequences of a military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic.

“And therefore, I would counsel against military action except as a last resort and if we felt our vital interests were threatened.”

Those are the words of Robert Gates, the newly appointed US Defense Secretary, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 5 December 2006 [1]. He was answering a question from Robert Byrd, the 89-year-old senator from West Virginia.

Byrd referred to “all these rumors about the potential for an attack on Iran due to its nuclear weapons program, or on Syria due to its support of terrorism” and asked Gates if he supported an attack on Iran.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator John Warner, intervened to ask Gates to describe his “view of the likely consequences of a US attack on Iran”, to which Gates replied:

“… I think that while Iran cannot attack us directly, militarily, I think that their capacity to potentially close off the Persian Gulf to all exports of oil, their potential to unleash a significant wave of terror, in the Middle East and in Europe and even here in this country, is very real.

“They are certainly not being helpful in Iraq and are doing us — I think, doing damage to our interests there. But I think they could do a lot more to hurt our effort in Iraq.

“I think that they could provide certain kinds of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons to terrorist groups.

“Their ability to get Hezbollah to further destabilize Lebanon I think is very real.

“So I think that while their ability to retaliate against us in a conventional military way is quite limited, they have the capacity to do all of the things, and perhaps more, that I just described.”

Byrd also asked Gates if he supported an attack on Syria, to which Gates replied “No, sir, I do not”. Byrd then asked him to describe his “view of the likely consequences of a US attack on Syria”, to which he replied:

“I think the Syrian capacity to do harm to us is far more limited than that of Iran. But I believe that a military attack by the United States on Syria would have dramatic consequences for us throughout the Middle East in terms of our relationships with a wide range of countries in that area. I think that it would give rise to significantly greater anti-Americanism than we have seen to date. I think it would immensely complicate our relationships with virtually every country in the region.”

Byrd then asked:
“Would you say that an attack on either Iran or Syria would worsen the violence in Iraq and lead to greater American casualties?”

To which Gates replied:
“Yes, sir, I think that’s very likely.”

This is an extraordinarily blunt spelling out of the negative consequences for the US of attacking Iran or Syria, by a person who is now a senior figure in the Bush administration. And the consequences would be no less negative for the US if Israel attacked Iran or Syria, since the world would assume (quite rightly) that Israel had been given a green light to do so by the US.

Congressional Authority?
Of course, a decision to attack Iran or Syria is a matter for President Bush, not Defense Secretary Gates. So, an attack, particularly on Iran, cannot be ruled out.

The President is obliged under Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution to seek congressional authority to take military action. Congress granted this authority after 9/11 to invade Afghanistan and in October 2002 to invade Iraq. But neither of these gives the President the authority to attack Iran or Syria. That is the view of Gates, and of the new Democratic majority leadership in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Senator Byrd asked Gates if he believed that “the president has the authority, under either the 9/11 war resolution or the Iraq war resolution, to attack Iran or to attack Syria”, to which he replied:

“To the best of my knowledge of both of those authorizations, I don’t believe so.

On 19 January 2007, prior to the President delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, Reid and Pelosi delivered the Democrats’ version to the National Press Club in Washington. Speaking about Iran, Senator Reid said [2]:

“Much has been made about President Bush’s recent saber rattling toward Iran. This morning, I’d like to be clear: The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization – – the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization.”

Reid’s other remarks about Iran were remarkably mild:

“It is true, the Iranians and the Syrians have played a destabilizing role in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate with them as part of a regional framework. As Secretary Jim Baker of the Iraq Study Group noted, we must talk to our enemies, not just our friends. …

“Let there be no doubt, the Iranian regime poses one of the great threats of the new century, but the Iranian people – 2/3rds of which are under the age of 30 – – present a great opportunity for progress. Regrettably, this Administration has no strategy for connecting with this generation of potential reformers.”

According to the Washington Post on 4 February 2007, Pelosi told a gathering of House Democrats the previous day that [3]:

“if it appears likely that Bush wants to take the country to war against Iran, the House would take up a bill to deny him the authority to do so”.

It is unlikely that, under this new Democratic leadership, Congress would grant the President authority to take military action against Iran (or Syria) in present circumstances. Times are very different today from the aftermath of 9/11 when Congress readily consented to the requests of a popular President.

Of course, it is always possible for the President to circumvent the necessity for congressional authority by manufacturing a casus belli, which was one of the US options under consideration in the summer of 2002 in respect of Iraq, before congressional authority was obtained in October 2002.

This was reported by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Boyce, to a meeting on Iraq chaired by the Prime Minister on 23 July 2002, minutes of which were published in the Sunday Times on 1 May 2005 [4].

But would a very unpopular president already mired in Iraq do it? I doubt it, particularly when even he must know that an attack on Iran would make matters even more difficult for the US in Iraq – and would ensure that the Republican Party loses the 2008 presidential election.

Iranian Nuclear Threat
Gates was also questioned (by Senator Lindsey Graham) about the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and the threat to Israel if it did. He said that he believed that Iran was trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and was lying when it said it wasn’t. However, amazingly, he said that its motivation was self-defence. Asked by Senator Graham:

“Do you believe the Iranians would consider using that nuclear weapons capability against the nation of Israel?”

He replied:
“I don’t know that they would do that, Senator. … And I think that, while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf.”

This is a remarkable reply, which justifies Iran seeking nuclear weapons as a deterrent against other nuclear powers in the region, including Israel and the US. In other words, according to Gates, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons to prevent other states attacking it, rather than to attack other states, for instance, Israel — which comes close to saying that the US could live with a nuclear-armed Iran (and Israel should be able to as well).

Pressed by Graham about President Ahmadinejad’s supposed ambition “to wipe Israel off the map”, Gates said that there are “higher powers in Iran … than the president”.

Israel’s Nuclear Weapons
In the above reply, Gates acknowledged that Israel has nuclear weapons. He has served in US administrations long enough to know it has been US policy for a generation not to do so, which has had the double benefit of not undermining Israel’s policy of ambiguity on the issue and of not requiring the US to take a position for or against Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.

(For the fascinating story of how the US came to adopt this stance in a secret agreement between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in September 1969, see Israel crosses the threshold by Avner Cohen and William Burr in the May/June 2006 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [5].)

It was ironic that a week later, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, came clean about Israel’s nuclear weapons, albeit without meaning to. The Jerusalem Post reported the story as follows on 12 December 2006 [6]:

“Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office denied there had been any change in Israel’s long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity, after Olmert appeared to admit that Israel had nuclear capability in an interview with the German television network SAT 1.

“Regarding Israel’s alleged nuclear capabilities, during his television interview, Olmert became agitated when asked if the fact that Israel possessed nuclear power weakened the West’s position against Iran.

“‘Israel is a democracy, Israel doesn’t threaten any country with anything, never did’, he said. ‘The most that we tried to get for ourselves is to try to live without terror, but we never threaten another nation with annihilation. Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they [Iran] are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?’”

It will be news to its neighbours that Israel has never threatened anyone, with anything. And, of course, the answer to the original question is that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons does weaken the West’s position on Iran, particularly when the West’s nominal position is that there should be a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. Even the US signed up to that at the NPT 25-year review conference in 1995.

Iran: Time for a New Approach
Gates has form on Iran. He was the co-chair (with Zbigniew Brzezinski) of a Council on Foreign Relations task force reviewing US policy towards Iran which reported in July 2004. The recommendations for US policy from its report entitled Iran: Time for a new approach [7] are all about diplomatic engagement with Iran. They begin:

“The United States should offer Iran a direct dialogue on specific issues of regional stabilization. This should entail a resumption and expansion of the Geneva track discussions that were conducted with Tehran for eighteen months after the 9/11 attacks.

The dialogue should be structured to encourage constructive Iranian involvement in the process of consolidating authority within the central governments of both Iraq and Afghanistan and in rebuilding their economies. Regular contact with Iran would also provide a channel to address concerns that have arisen about its activities and relationships with competing power centers in both countries. …”

This approach is reflected in the report of the Iraq Study Group, of which Gates was a member until his nomination as Defense Secretary.

Will Israel Attack Iran?
It is widely believed that, even if the US doesn’t attack Iran, at some point Israel will attempt to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities from the air, with the objective of reducing Iran’s ability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. After all, it attacked an Iraqi reactor with that intent in 1981, and did so successfully.

My guess is that Israel will not take military action against Iran — because the US will not authorise it to do so. And Israel will not do so without authorisation from the US. The analogy with Iraq in 1981 is false, because
(a) in contrast to an attack on Iran’s facilities today, there were no negative consequences for the US from Israel’s attack on the Iraqi reactor in 1981 and
(b) mounting a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is difficult, if not impossible, for Israel.

Israel’s alliance with the US is very important to it. Without it, Israel’s existence as a state would be problematic. As Gates spelt out, an Israeli attack on Iran would have serious repercussions for US interests in the Middle East and further afield.

Those repercussions would be as serious, if not more serious, as the repercussions from an attack by the US itself. For Israel to attack Iran without authorisation from the US, and bring about those repercussions, would risk doing serious damage to Israel’s alliance with the US. So I don’t think it will happen. I don’t think Israel will attack Iran without authorisation by the US.

The US Will Do the Job Itself
And, if asked, I don’t think the US would give Israel permission to attack Iran. If the US were to decide that Iran’s nuclear facilities should be destroyed, there is no advantage to the US in contracting the job out to Israel, rather than doing the job itself.

There is nothing to be gained by way of reducing the repercussions for US interests and, more fundamentally, the US is much more capable of doing the job successfully than Israel. It would be foolish for the US to suffer the consequences of an attack on Iran, without eliminating, or at least substantially reducing, Iran’s capacity to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

It is important to note that this is a much more difficult task than the destruction of Iraq’s capability by Israel in 1981. Then, Iraq’s entire nuclear programme depended on one facility, the Osirak reactor at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Center near Baghdad, which was highly vulnerable to air attack. Had this reactor been operational, it would have produced plutonium, which could have been used as fissile material in a nuclear weapon.

But, before the reactor became operational, Israel destroyed it from the air on 7 June 1981. Israel knew that the destruction of the reactor would terminate Iraq’s development of nuclear weapons by this route – and it did.

By contrast, and in part because of Israel’s destruction of the Osirak reactor, Iran’s nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and much better protected by air defense systems and, in some cases, by being underground.

The Iranian nuclear programme hasn’t got a single vulnerable point which, if attacked and destroyed, would stop the programme or stall it for a long time. So, to be effective, any attempt to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities requires sustained attacks on several relatively well-defended targets.

Furthermore, the potential Iranian targets are much further away from Israeli airbases than the Iraqi target attacked in 1981 (1,500-1,750km compared with 1,000km).

To attack these targets, Israeli aircraft would either have to overfly Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq without permission, with the possibility of being detected and attacked, or to fly around the Arabian peninsula, making the journey to and from the target much longer and requiring inflight refueling. 14 aircraft (8 F-16s and 6 F-15 escorts) were used in the attack on Osirak; several times that number would be required for a successful attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, so the possibility of detection is much greater.

For a discussion of this, see, for example, an article by retired Israeli General, Shlomo Brom, in Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, published by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute in October 2005 [8]. General Shlomo Brom concludes:

“… any Israeli attack on an Iranian nuclear target would be a very complex operation in which a relatively large number of attack aircraft and support aircraft (interceptors, ECM [electonic countermeasures] aircraft, refuelers, and rescue aircraft) would participate. The conclusion is that Israel could attack only a few Iranian targets and not as part of a sustainable operation over time, but as a one time surprise operation.” (p 149)

So, it is by no means certain that Israel is capable of mounting a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, successful in the sense of eliminating, or at least substantially reducing, Iran’s capacity to produce fissile material. Leaving aside other considerations, successfully attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities is on the edge of practicality for Israel.

It is a much more practical proposition for the US, which has a much wider range of attacking options. It can attack with B2 bombers based in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and the US itself. It can use carrier based aircraft. It can use ship-launched cruise missiles. It has the use of airbases in the Gulf States and in Iraq, though it may prefer not to use them, since states in the region would probably object to their territory being used to attack Iran.

There is little doubt that, with or without the latter, the US could mount sustained attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities to such an extent that its ability to produce fissile would be seriously impaired.

Should the US take a decision to mount such an attack, it would begin by destroying Iran’s air defence facilities and, most likely, attack tens, if not hundreds, of military targets in order to limit Iran’s ability to retaliate – which would be impossible for Israel to achieve.

To summarise: whereas Israel is probably capable of mounting a single attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, it is not capable of doing so in the sustained fashion necessary to achieve the desired success. Only the US has the capacity to do that – and at the same time do damage to military targets across Iran.

So, if the US were to decide that Iran’s nuclear facilities should be destroyed by military action, it will do the job itself. I think it’s unlikely that the US will make such a decision in present circumstances, because of the negative consequences for the US in the Middle East and further afield, as described by Robert Gates at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But one cannot rule out another bout of irrationality in the White House.

POSTSCRIPT
I have quoted liberally above from Senator Robert Byrd’s examination of Gates. Here is another remarkable exchange between them:

B: Who is responsible, Dr. Gates, in your judgment, for the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden?

G: Osama bin Laden, Senator.

B: Over the past five years, who has represented the greater threat to the United States, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden?

G: Osama bin Laden.

David Morrison, Labour & Trade Union Review (17 January 2007). www.david-morrison.org.uk

References:

• [1] media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/rgates_hearing_120506.html

• [2] democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=267725&

• [3] www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/03/AR2007020300701.html

• [4] www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

•[5] www.thebulletin.org/article.php?art_ofn=mj06cohen

•[6] www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881872535&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

• [7] www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/Iran_TF.pdf

• [8] www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub629.pdf

Archives by Month:

 

 

Stay Connected
Sign up to receive our weekly updates. We promise not to sell, trade or give away your email address.
Email Address:
Full Name:
 

Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are