Archive for the ‘The Middle East’ Category

White House, Press Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges By Ray McGovern

December 11, 2007

White House, Press Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges By Ray McGovern

By Ray McGovern
12/09/07 “
ICH

Those who know about the centrifuges used to refine uranium tell me they must spin at an almost unrivaled velocity—almost unrivaled, because Bush administration statements are being spun at equivalent speed by White House and corporate media spiders. Without Spinmeister Karl Rove and former spokesman Tony Snow, it is amateur hour at the White House. And the theater would be as funny as The Daily Show, were the subject not so serious.

Judging from President George W. Bush’s words and body language he is far from giving up on ways to “justify” attacking Iran’s nuclear program—weapons-related or not. He appears convinced he must honor the pledge he has made to Israel’s current leaders to eliminate what they have called an “existential threat” to Israel. This came through in a particularly pointed way on October 17, when an agitated president ad-libbed about the possibility of World War III, complaining loudly, “We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced he wants to destroy Israel.”

Not at all helpful to the president was the judgment of U.S. intelligence that the Iranians halted their nuclear weapons-related program in 2003, a judgment the administration made public this week. The White House knew only too well that that this bombshell could not be kept secret very long—the more so since Congress’ intelligence committees, Pentagon brass, and senior CIA officials reportedly made it quite clear they would go public if the White House did not publish a sanitized version of the key judgments of the latest National Intelligence Estimate.

On Oct. 26, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell launched a trial balloon, declaring he would no longer declassify and release summaries of National Intelligence Estimates, but that balloon was quickly shot down.

So what can Cheney and Bush do now to “justify” striking Iran? Several months ago, about the time new intelligence established there was no active nuclear weapons program in Iran, there were signs in the rhetoric coming from the president and Gen. David Petraeus that the argument was going to hinge on claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were supplying the wherewithal to kill our troops in Iraq. Petraeus was clearly ready to play that game, but his superior, Admiral “we’re-not-going-to-do-Iran-on-my-watch” William Fallon would not play along. And neither would the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now back from a brief visit to Iraq and his caution so far on this issue suggests he is paying more heed to Fallon than to Petraeus. In other words, there is no sign that Gates wants to abet using Iranian meddling in Iraq as a pretext for a military strike on Iran. Gates’ well-deserved chameleon-like reputation counsels caution here, since a word from Cheney or Bush could conceivably make Gates a fervent champion of this pretext for war. But people do mature; Gates is smart; and I doubt he would want to be so closely associated with starting a regional war, if not WW III.

Spinning Enrichment

So where does that leave the beleaguered president? This week’s spinning by the White House and subservient media suggests the administration still thinks it can make a case for war, by obfuscating the nuclear program in Iran. This has become clearer as administration mouthpieces blur the distinction between uranium enrichment for a civilian energy use (permitted to signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) and the much more demanding requirements of a nuclear weapons program.

The spinners have resurrected the discredited argument that Iran’s nuclear program must be for weapons, because Iran’s oil and gas should suffice to meet all its energy requirements. Thus, the administration’s Pravda, also known as the editorial page of the Washington Post, on Dec. 5: “Iran’s massive overt investment in uranium enrichment meanwhile proceeds…even though Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium.”

And thus another major administration mouthpiece, also known as the New York Times, on Dec. 6, in an op-ed, “In Iran We Trust?” by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin: “Why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value.”

This is a familiar canard; i.e., that Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is for electricity production is given the lie by its own large oil and natural gas reserves, so uranium enrichment must be for nuclear weapons development. Condoleezza Rice took that line over a year and a half ago (shades of those (in)famous aluminum tubes that she said could “only” be used in a nuclear application but turned out to be for conventional artillery). At about the same time Dick Cheney complained that since the Iranians are “already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy.”

It all makes me think of Harry Truman’s complaint: “They must think we were born yesterday!” Rice and Cheney have selective memories—or take us for fools. Back in 1976—with Gerald Ford president, Dick Cheney his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense—the Ford administration bought the Shah’s argument that Iran needed a nuclear program to meet its future energy requirements. That argument, of course, is even more valid today, with the price that can be obtained for oil and the specter of Peak Oil.

Cheney and Rumsfeld persuaded a hesitant President Ford to offer Iran a deal that would have meant at least $6.4 billion for U.S. corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric, had not the Shah been unceremoniously dumped three years later. The offer included a reprocessing facility for a complete nuclear fuels cycle—essentially the same capability that the U.S. and Israel now insist Iran cannot be allowed to acquire.

A pity that our domesticated media seem unable to catch the disingenuousness.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he chaired some National Intelligence Estimates and produced/briefed the President’s Daily Brief.

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

November 28, 2007

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
The Smirking Chimp
Nov 26 2007

Journalist Robert Fisk recently explained the Bush/Cheney abomination in the Middle East quite succinctly, when he asserted: “The world in the Middle East is growing darker and darker by the hour. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Iraq. “Palestine”. Lebanon. From the borders of Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean, we – we Westerners that is – are creating (as I have said before) a hell disaster. Next week, we are supposed to believe in peace in Annapolis, between the colorless American apparatchik and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister who has no more interest in a Palestinian state than his predecessor Ariel Sharon.” [Robert Fisk, “Darkness falls on the Middle East,” Independent.co.uk, 24 Nov. 2007]

On Friday, November 23rd, a bomb exploded in a pet market in central Baghdad. It followed a “brazen attack against U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on the southern belt of Baghdad” and a mortar and rocket attack on the Green Zone a day earlier that constituted “the biggest attack against the U.S.-protected area in weeks.” [Bushra Juhi, “Twin bombings Kill at Least 26 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 23 Nov. 2007]

You might keep such information in mind whenever you hear dishonest Republicans and feckless Democrats shy away from the awful truth about the “hell disaster” in Iraq and the Middle East.

And the awful truth is this: During the seven months preceding the Bush administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal and incompetent invasion of Iraq, the architects of that criminal war — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle — lied repeatedly about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and links to al Qaeda, grossly exaggerated both the welcome American troops would receive and the ease with which democracy could be established in Iraq, while fraudulently understating the projected costs of their evil venture. In a word, our “MBA President” and his cronies failed to exercise due diligence with the American people.

Yet, while these criminals were preparing to commit their crime, critics of the proposed invasion were struggling to be heard, struggling to penetrate the herd mentality of the mainstream news media – which, except for some reporters at Knight Ridder, found itself shocked and awed by the administration’s war mongering propaganda. As we now know, post-invasion facts on the ground vindicated the critics, not only for doubting the Bush administration’s bogus claims about Iraq’s WMD and links to al Qaeda, but also for questioning the very need for preemptive (actually preventive) war and the very feasibility of forcing democracy at gunpoint.

Unfortunately, more than 31,000 American soldiers have been killed or wounded in the course of executing Bush’s criminal plans. Add to that figure “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan…[now] found with signs of brain injuries.” [Gregg Zoroya, “Combat Brain Injuries Multiply,” USA Today, Nov. 23, 2007]

Moreover, although some 3,875 soldiers have died in Iraq since March 2003, 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 alone. According to CBS News, the suicide rate among veterans is double that of the civilian population and veterans aged 20 through 24 – those caught up in Bush’s war – had the highest suicide rates among all veterans. Finally, consider that almost 8,000 soldiers deserted the US Army during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Beyond such casualties, Bush’s war has strained the U.S. Army to the breaking point. As Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey recently observed, “The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.” According to Senator Jack Reed and security analyst Michele A. Flournoy, “Roughly half of the 2000 and 2001 West Point classes have already decided to leave the Army” citing multiple, back-to-back combat tours as the primary reason. Moreover, “roughly half of the U.S. Army’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the harsh environment and the high tempo of operations are wearing out equipment at up to 9 times the normal rate.”

Then, there’s the exorbitant cost of Bush’s war of choice. According to Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, when the hidden costs of Bush’s war are considered, the total economic cost has exceeded $1.5 trillion. The surge in the price of oil, from approximately $37 per barrel at the beginning of the war to over $90 in recent weeks, constitutes a major portion of those hidden, but very real costs.

Finally, citizens of the United States have seen their liberties subverted by the Bush administration in the name of national security. Through the abuse of signing statements, the use of torture and the embrace of illegal wiretapping the Bush administration has moved America creepily closer to those horrid dictatorships its citizens once derided.

Yet, the costs to the United States constitute mere chump change when compared with the price paid by Iraqis. Life in Iraq during Bush’s reign of terror has been far worse than life was during the last years of Saddam’s brutal regime. Consider the national humiliation associated with America’s successful invasion, its brutal occupation and its degrading torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

According to Robert Dreyfuss and Tom Engelhardt, “There are, by now, perhaps a million dead Iraqis, give or take a few hundred thousand. If a typical wounded-to-dead ratio of 3:1 holds, then you’re talking about up to 4 million war, occupation, and civil-war casualties. Now, add in the estimated 2-2.5 million who went into exile, fleeing the country, and another estimated 2.3 million who have had to leave their homes and go into internal exile as Iraqi communities hand neighborhoods were ‘cleansed.’”

As columnist Cesar Chelala recently wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “One child dies every five minutes because of the war, and many more are left with severe injuries. Of the estimated 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced in Iraq or lest the country, 1.5 million are children.” Quoting from an assessment by 100 British and Iraqi doctors, Chelala adds: “sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in the hundreds because they don’t have access to basic medicines and other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limb are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.”

Chronic shortages in electricity persist. And, as Bobby Cain Calvan of McClatchy Newspapers reported on November 18th, “the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war…The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation…[has been] even worse – 80 percent.” Yet, the horrors in Iraq have been grossly underreported by America’s mainstream news media. As Dahr Jamail concludes in his new book, Beyond the Green Zone, “If the people of the United States had the real story about what their government has done in Iraq, the occupation would already have ended.” [p. 291]

One might ask how Bush and his co-conspirators are able to sleep at night, given all this blood and carnage on their hands. Why do they remain in office? Why haven’t they been impeached? Why haven’t they been thrown in prison?

But, then, one also might ask why the many conservative scholars and pundits who got everything so wrong — especially those despicable neo-cons – still fill opinion pages and the airwaves with their vile excuses for yet more war. Their latest con is to argue that the surge is working. Some dishonest clowns even mention the word “victory.”

Of course, they spew yet more propaganda designed to maintain or bolster the 70 percent of Republicans who still support Bush’s criminal war. (How different are they from Hitler’s die-hard supporters during World War II?) For example, one of the more obnoxious and consistently wrong neo-cons, Charles Krauthammer, waxed euphoric in his November 23rd column about just how well the surge was going in Iraq.

Yet, the 23rd was the day of the pet market blast, which had followed the previous day’s “brazen attack” in the southern belt of Baghdad and the rocket attack on the Green Zone. Those attacks prompted two reporters from the Los Angeles Times to suggest that “insurgents appeared intent on sending a message to U.S. and Iraqi officials that their recent expressions of optimism on the nation’s security were premature.”

But, then, consider the source. This is the very same Krauthammer who wrote in November 2001: [T]he way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory….The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it.” [Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism, p 93]

Tell me, Mr. Krauthammer, how’s the “fear and deep respect” playing out in the Middle East and the world in November 2007? How stupid could you be? And why are you still employed by the Washington Post?

The Post’s Thomas Ricks provides a more honest assessment. “I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn’t gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level – which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth….I’ve interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing.” [Editor & Publisher, Nov. 24, 2007] Yet, if you recall that, on May 12, 2004, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a Senate committee, “There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq. There’s also no way to militarily win in Iraq,” you might want to question why we’re still there.

Anthony Cordesman recently published a more realistic appraisal of the surge. Titled, “Violence versus Political Accommodation: The True Elements of Victory in Iraq,” Cordesman credits the surge for playing a secondary role in reducing violence in Iraq. But he cautions: “It is still far from clear that US success against al Qaeda in the rest of central Iraq has brought stability and security to any mixed area where there is serious tension and violence. If anything, the fact that the ’surge’ has not halted the pace of Iraqi displacements and has often created a patchwork of Arab Shiite versus Arab Sunni divisions in towns and areas that extend far beyond Baghdad, has laid the ground for further struggles once the US is gone.” [p. 11]

Cordesman adds: “Most of Southern Iraq is now under the control of competing local and regional Shiite gangs,” which have become the “equivalent of rival mafias.” [p. 13]

More significantly, Cordesman concludes: “The US cannot win the war; it can only give Iraq’s central government and those leaders interested in national unity and political accommodation the opportunity to do so.” [p. 10] [N]o amount of American military success can – by itself – have strategic meaning.” [p. 13]

Finally, those who propagandize that the “surge” is working are advised to contemplate the work of MIT economist Michael Greenstone. As summarized in the December issue of The Atlantic, Greenstone has examined the financial markets in Iraq, especially the market for Iraqi state bonds. He found that “from the start of the surge earlier this year until September, there was a ’sharp decline’ in the price of Iraqi state bonds, signaling a ‘40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default’ on its obligations.”

The Atlantic article goes on to note: “Since the bonds are sold on international markets (hedge funds hold a large portion), where the profit motive eliminates personal and political bias, the trajectory of bond prices may be the most accurate indicator available for assessing America’s military strategy. And the data suggest that ‘the surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.” [The Atlantic Dec. 2007, p. 26]

Consequently, were we merely limiting ourselves to the catastrophes that has bedeviled both the United States and Iraq as a consequence of Bush’s war, we’d be forced to conclude that Bush’s national security policy has the touch of King Midas in reverse. Everything Bush touches turns to shit!

Unfortunately, as serious pre-war scholars and critics feared and predicted, Bush’s King Midas touch in reverse has extended far beyond Iraq and the United States. Simply recall their warnings about the war’s impact on the price of oil, their fears that such a war might undermine US efforts against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, their concern that Bush’s invasion might inflame hatred of America throughout the Muslim world, their suspicions that Iran might be the principal beneficiary of a US-led invasion that placed Iraqi Shiites in power and their worries about how a destabilized Iraq might provoke intervention by it neighbors, Iran, Syria and Turkey, and thus embroil the entire region.

Thanks to the perverse King Midas touch of the Bush administration, Iran has indeed emerged as the most influential player in Iraq and Turkey is poised to invade Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, as Anne Applebaum has written in the Washington Post: [T] he collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized.”

In support of Ms. Applebaum’s assertion, simply recall the words uttered to Condoleezza Rice in October 2007 by Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Demos Center for Information and Research, a Russian human rights organization: The United States had “lost the high moral ground.” “The American voice alone doesn’t work anymore…The Russians are not influenced by it.” [Steven Lee Myers, New York Times Oct. 15, 2007]

Finally, mention also must be made of another catastrophe feared and predicted by the pre-war critics of Bush’s invasion, one which now looms on the horizon: the destabilization of nuclear armed Pakistan. As Robert Parry wrote in September 2002, “One reason a war with Iraq might increase, rather than decrease, the danger to the American people is that the invasion could spread instability across the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world…[impacting] most notably the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.”

As Parry observed: “Today, even as Musharraf cooperates with the U.S. war on terror, his regime is confronted by pro-al Qaeda factions both inside and outside his government. Many past and present Pakistani military officers continue to sympathize with the fundamentalists.” [Robert Parry, “Bush’s Nuclear Gamble,” [consortiumnews.com, September 30, 2002]

As if describing Bush’s reverse Midas touch in Pakistan, Juan Cole has observed: “The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of [military dictator Pervez] Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet.” Not content with such long-term undermining of its client dictator, the Bush administration then “brokered a deal whereby [Benazir] Bhutto was allowed to return to Pakistan.” But, “the huge explosion that greeted Bhutto in her home turf of Karachi…suggests that her arrival is hardly the remedy for Pakistan’s instability.” [Cole, Salon.com Oct. 24, 2007]

Thus, given its profoundly devastating King Midas touch that has rippled around the world, one can confidently predict that the Bush administration will further embolden militant Muslims and secure its legacy as the worst presidency in U.S. history by attacking Iran, thereby bringing America’s staggering and tottering empire crashing to the ground. Like Lenin, during the pre-revolutionary period in Tsarist Russia, it would be tempting to say, “the worse, the better” for America. Except: (1) I don’t believe the loss of empire will prompt Americans to wake up and (2) America’s fervent Bush-supporting crackpot Christians, seeing evidence for their long awaited Rapture and End Times in the calamities actually wrought by Bush, already have a stranglehold on Lenin’s dictum.

(More about such crackpot Christians in a future article).

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, 12 Books in Search of a Policy By Tom Engelhardt

October 23, 2007

Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, 12 Books in Search of a Policy By Tom Engelhardt

By Tom Engelhardt
October 22, 2007

They came in as unreformed Cold Warriors, only lacking a cold war — and looking for an enemy: a Russia to roll back even further; rogue states like Saddam’s rickety dictatorship to smash. They were still in the old fight, eager to make sure that the “Evil Empire,” already long down for the count, would remain prostrate forever; eager to ensure that any new evil empire like, say, China’s would never be able to stand tall enough to be a challenge. They saw opportunities to move into areas previously beyond the reach of American imperial power like the former SSRs of the Soviet Union in Central Asia, which just happened to be sitting on potentially fabulous undeveloped energy fields; or farther into the even more fabulously energy-rich Middle East, where Saddam’s Iraq, planted atop the planet’s third largest reserves of petroleum, seemed so ready for a fall — with other states in the region visibly not far behind.

It looked like it would be a coming-out party for one — the debutante ball of the season. It would be, in fact, like the Cold War without the Soviet Union. What a blast! And they could still put their energies into their fabulously expensive, ever-misfiring anti-missile system, a subject they regularly focused on from January 2000 until September 10, 2001.

They were Cold Warriors in search of an enemy — just not the one they got. When the Clintonistas, on their way out of the White House, warned them about al Qaeda, they paid next to no attention. Non-state actors were for wusses. When the CIA carefully presented the President with a one-page, knock-your-socks-off warning on August 6, 2001 that had the screaming headline, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.,” they ignored it. Bush and his top officials were, as it happened, strangely adrift until September 11, 2001; then, they were panicked and terrified — until they realized that their moment had come to hijack the plane of state; so they clambered aboard, and like the Cold Warriors they were, went after Saddam.

Chalmers Johnson was himself once a Cold Warrior. Unlike the top officials of the Bush administration, however, he retained a remarkably flexible mind. He also had a striking ability to see the world as it actually was — and a prescient vision of what was to come. He wrote the near-prophetic and now-classic book, Blowback, published well before the attacks of 9/11, and then followed it up with an anatomy of the U.S. military’s empire of bases, The Sorrows of Empire, and finally, to end his Blowback Trilogy, a vivid recipe for American catastrophe, Nemesis: The Fall of the American Republic. All three are simply indispensable volumes in any reasonable post-9/11 library. Here is his latest consideration of that disastrous moment and its consequences as part of a series of book reviews he is periodically writing for Tomdispatch. Tom

A Guide for the Perplexed

Intellectual Fallacies of the War on Terror

By Chalmers Johnson

[This essay is a review of The Matador’s Cape, America’s Reckless Response to Terror by Stephen Holmes (Cambridge University Press, 367 pp., $30).]

There are many books entitled “A Guide for the Perplexed,” including Moses Maimonides’ 12th century treatise on Jewish law and E. F. Schumacher’s 1977 book on how to think about science. Book titles cannot be copyrighted. A Guide for the Perplexed might therefore be a better title for Stephen Holmes’ new book than the one he chose, The Matador’s Cape: America’s Reckless Response to Terror. In his perhaps overly clever conception, the matador is the terrorist leadership of al Qaeda, taunting a maddened United States into an ultimately fatal reaction. But do not let the title stop you from reading the book. Holmes has written a powerful and philosophically erudite survey of what we think we understand about the 9/11 attacks — and how and why the United States has magnified many times over the initial damage caused by the terrorists.

Stephen Holmes is a law professor at New York University. In The Matador’s Cape, he sets out to forge an understanding — in an intellectual and historical sense, not as a matter of journalism or of partisan politics — of the Iraq war, which he calls “one of the worst (and least comprehensible) blunders in the history of American foreign policy” (p. 230). His modus operandi is to survey in depth approximately a dozen influential books on post-Cold War international politics to see what light they shed on America’s missteps. I will touch briefly on the books he chooses for dissection, highlighting his essential thoughts on each of them.

Holmes’ choice of books is interesting. Many of the authors he focuses on are American conservatives or neoconservatives, which is reasonable since they are the ones who caused the debacle. He avoids progressive or left wing writers, and none of his choices are from Metropolitan Books’ American Empire Project. (Disclosure: This review was written before I read Holmes’ review of my own book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic in the October 29 issue of The Nation.)

He concludes: “Despite a slew of carefully researched and insightful books on the subject, the reason why the United States responded to the al Qaeda attack by invading Iraq remains to some extent an enigma” (p. 3). Nonetheless, his critiques of the books he has chosen are so well done and fair that they constitute one of the best introductions to the subject. They also have the advantage in several cases of making it unnecessary to read the original.

Holmes interrogates his subjects cleverly. His main questions and the key books he dissects for each of them are:

* Did Islamic religious extremism cause 9/11? Here he supplies his own independent analysis and conclusion (to which I turn below).

* Why did American military preeminence breed delusions of omnipotence, as exemplified in Robert Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf, 2003)? While not persuaded by Kagan’s portrayal of the United States as “Mars” and Europe as “Venus,” Holmes takes Kagan’s book as illustrative of neoconservative thought on the use of force in international politics: “Far from guaranteeing an unbiased and clear-eyed view of the terrorist threat, as Kagan contends, American military superiority has irredeemably skewed the country’s view of the enemy on the horizon, drawing the United States, with appalling consequences, into a gratuitous, cruel, and unwinnable conflict in the Middle East” (p. 72).

* How was the war lost, as analyzed in Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor (Pantheon, 2006)? Holmes regards this book by Gordon, the military correspondent of the New York Times, and Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, as the best treatment of the military aspects of the disaster, down to and including U.S. envoy L. Paul Bremer’s disbanding of the Iraqi military. I would argue that Fiasco (Penguin 2006) by the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks is more comprehensive, clearer-eyed, and more critical.

• How did a tiny group of individuals, with eccentric theories and reflexes, recklessly compound the country’s post-9/11 security nightmare? Here Holmes considers James Mann’s Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (Viking, 2004). One of Mann’s more original insights is that the neocons in the Bush administration were so bewitched by Cold War thinking that they were simply incapable of grasping the new realities of the post-Cold War world. “In Iraq, alas, the lack of a major military rival excited some aging hard-liners into toppling a regime that they did not have the slightest clue how to replace…. We have only begun to witness the long-term consequences of their ghastly misuse of unaccountable power” (p. 106).

* What roles did Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld play in the Bush administration, as captured in Michael Mann’s Incoherent Empire (Verso, 2003)? According to Holmes, Mann’s work “repays close study, even by readers who will not find its perspective altogether congenial or convincing.” He argues that perhaps Mann’s most important contribution, even if somewhat mechanically put, is to stress the element of bureaucratic politics in Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s manipulation of the neophyte Bush: “The outcome of inter- and intra-agency battles in Washington, D.C., allotted disproportionate influence to the fatally blurred understanding of the terrorist threat shared by a few highly placed and shrewd bureaucratic infighters. Rumsfeld and Cheney controlled the military; and when they were given the opportunity to rank the country’s priorities in the war on terror, they assigned paramount importance to those specific threats that could be countered effectively only by the government agency over which they happened to preside” (p. 107).

* Why did the U.S. decide to search for a new enemy after the Cold War, as argued by an old cold warrior, Samuel Huntington, in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Simon and Schuster, 1996)? It is not clear why Holmes included Huntington’s eleven-year-old treatise on “Allah made them do it” in his collection of books on post-Cold War international politics except as an act of obeisance to establishmentarian — and especially Council-on-Foreign-Relations — thinking. Holmes regards Huntington’s work as a “false template” and calls it misleading. Well before 9/11, many critics of Huntington’s concept of “civilization” had pointed out that there is insufficient homogeneity in Christianity, Islam, or the other great religions for any of them to replace the position vacated by the Soviet Union. As Holmes remarks, Huntington “finds homogeneity because he is looking for homogeneity” (p. 136).

* What role did left-wing ideology play in legitimating the war on terror, as seen by Samantha Power in “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (Basic, 2002). As Holmes acknowledges, “The humanitarian interventionists rose to a superficial prominence in the 1990s largely because of a vacuum in U.S. foreign-policy thinking after the end of the Cold War…. Their influence was small, however, and after 9/11, that influence vanished altogether.” He nonetheless takes up the anti-genocide activists because he suspects that, by making a rhetorically powerful case for casting aside existing decision-making rules and protocols, they may have emboldened the Bush administration to follow suit and fight the “evil” of terrorism outside the Constitution and the law. The idea that Power was an influence on Cheney and Rumsfeld may seem a stretch — they were, after all, doing what they had always wanted to do — but Holmes’ argument that “a savvy prowar party may successfully employ humanitarian talk both to gull the wider public and to silence potential critics on the liberal side” (p. 157) is worth considering.

* How did pro-war liberals help stifle national debate on the wisdom of the Iraq war, as illustrated by Paul Berman in Power and the Idealists (Soft Skull Press, 2005)? Wildly overstating his influence, Holmes writes, Berman, a regular columnist for The New Republic, “first tried to convince us that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, far from being a tribal war over scarce land and water, is part of the wider spiritual war between liberalism and apocalyptic irrationalism, not worth distinguishing too sharply from the conflict between America and al Qaeda. He then attempted to show that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden represented two ‘branches’ of an essentially homogeneous extremism” (p. 181). Berman, Holmes points out, conflated anti-terrorism with anti-fascism in order to provide a foundation for the neologism “Islamo-fascism.” His chief reason for including Berman is that Holmes wants to address the views of religious fundamentalists in their support of the war on terrorism.

* How did democratization at the point of an assault rifle become America’s mission in the world, as seen by the apostate neoconservative Francis Fukuyama in America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (Yale University Press, 2006)? Holmes is interested in Fukuyama, the neoconservatives’ perennial sophomore, because he offers an insider’s insights into the chimerical neocon “democratization” project for the Middle East.

Fukuyama argues that democracy is the most effective antidote to the kind of Islamic radicalism that hit the United States on September 11, 2001. He contends that the root of Islamic rebellion is to be found in the savage and effective repression of protestors — many of whom have been driven into exile — in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Terrorism is not the enemy, merely a tactic Islamic radicals have found exceptionally effective. Holmes writes of Fukuyama’s argument, “[T]o recognize that America’s fundamental problem is Islamic radicalism, and that terrorism is only a symptom, is to invite a political solution. Promoting democracy is just such a political solution” (p. 209).

The problem, of course, is that not even the neocons are united on promoting democracy; and, even if they were, they do not know how to go about it. Fukuyama himself pleads for “a dramatic demilitarization of American foreign policy and a re-emphasis on other types of policy instruments.” The Pentagon, in addition to its other deficiencies, is poorly positioned and incorrectly staffed to foster democratic transitions.

* Why is the contemporary American antiwar movement so anemic, as seen through the lens of history by Geoffrey Stone in Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (W. W. Norton, 2004)? Holmes has nothing but praise for Stone’s history of expanded executive discretion in wartime. A key question raised by Stone is why the American public has not been more concerned with what happened in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison and in the wholesale destruction of the Sunni city of Fallujah. As Holmes sees it, the Bush administration, at least in this one area, was adept at subverting public protest. Among the more important lessons George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and others learned from the Vietnam conflict, he writes, was that if you want to suppress domestic questioning of foreign military adventures, then eliminate the draft, create an all-volunteer force, reduce domestic taxes, and maintain a false prosperity based on foreign borrowing.

* How did the embracing of American unilateralism elevate the Office of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of State, as put into perspective by John Ikenberry in After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton University Press, 2001)? This book is Holmes’ oddest choice — a dated history from an establishmentarian point of view of the international institutions created by the United States after World War II, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and NATO, all of which Ikenberry, a prominent academic specialist in international relations, applauds. Holmes agrees that, during the Cold War, the United States ruled largely through indirection, using seemingly impartial international institutions, and eliciting the cooperation of other nations. He laments the failure to follow this proven formula in the post-9/11 era, which led to the eclipse of the State Department by the Defense Department, an institution hopelessly ill-suited for diplomatic and nation-building missions.

* Why do we battle lawlessness with lawlessness (for example, by torturing prisoners) and concentrate extra-Constitutional authority in the hands of the president, as expounded by John Yoo in The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2005)? In this final section, Holmes puts on his hat as the law professor he is and takes on George Bush’s and Alberto Gonzales’ in-house legal counsel, the University of California, Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who authored the “torture memos” for them, denied the legality of the Geneva Conventions, and elaborated a grandiose view of the President’s war-making power. Holmes wonders, “Why would an aspiring legal scholar labor for years to develop and defend a historical thesis that is manifestly untrue? What is the point and what is the payoff? That is the principal mystery of Yoo’s singular book. Characteristic of The Powers of War and Peace is the anemic relations between the evidence adduced and the inferences drawn” (p. 291).

Holmes then points out that Yoo is a prominent member of the Federalist Society, an association of conservative Republican lawyers who claim to be committed to recovering the original understanding of the Constitution and which includes several Republican appointees to the current Supreme Court. His conclusion on Yoo and his fellow neocons is devastating: “[I]f the misbegotten Iraq war proves anything, it is the foolhardiness of allowing an autistic clique that reads its own newspapers and watches its own cable news channel to decide, without outsider input, where to expend American blood and treasure — that is, to decide which looming threats to stress and which to downplay or ignore” (p. 301).

Is Islam the Culprit or Merely a Distraction?

In addition to these broad themes, Holmes investigates hidden agendas and their distorting effects on rational policy-making. Some of these are: Cheney’s desire to expand executive power and weaken Congressional oversight; Rumsfeld’s schemes to field-test his theory that in modern warfare speed is more important than mass; the plans by some of Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s advisers to improve the security situation of Israel; the administration’s desire to create a new set of permanent U.S. military bases in the Middle East to protect the U.S. oil supply in case of a collapse of the Saudi monarchy; and the desire to invade Iraq and thereby avoid putting all the blame for 9/11 on al Qaeda — because to do so would have involved admitting administration negligence and incompetence during the first nine months of 2001 and, even worse, that Clinton was right in warning Bush and his top officials that the main security threat to the United States was a potential al Qaeda attack or attacks.

This is not the place to attempt a comprehensive review of Holmes’ detailed critiques. For that, one should buy and read his book. Let me instead dwell on three themes that I think illustrate his insight and originality.

Holmes rejects any direct connection between Islamic religious extremism and the 9/11 attacks, although he recognizes that Islamic vilification of the United States and other Western powers is often expressed in apocalyptically religious language. “Emphasizing religious extremism as the motivation for the [9/11] plot, whatever it reveals,” he argues, “…terminates inquiry prematurely, encouraging us to view the attack ahistorically as an expression of ‘radical Salafism,’ a fundamentalist movement within Islam that allegedly drives its adherents to homicidal violence against infidels” (p. 2). This approach, he points out, is distinctly tautological: “Appeals to social norms or a culture of martyrdom are not very helpful…. They are tantamount to saying that suicidal terrorism is caused by a proclivity to suicidal terrorism” (p. 20).

Instead, he suggests, “The mobilizing ideology behind 9/11 was not Islam, or even Islamic fundamentalism, but rather a specific narrative of blame” (p. 63). He insists on putting the focus on the actual perpetrators, the 19 men who executed the attacks in New York and Washington — 15 Saudi Arabians, two citizens of the United Arab Emirates, one Egyptian, and one Lebanese. None of them was particularly religious. Three were living together in Hamburg, Germany, where they did appear to have become more interested in Islam than they had been in their home countries. Mohamed Atta, the leader of the group, age 33 on 9/11, had Egyptian and German degrees in architecture and city planning and became highly politicized in favor of the Palestinian cause against Zionism only after he went abroad.

Holmes notes, “According to the classic study of resentment, [Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (1887)] ‘every sufferer instinctively seeks a cause for his suffering; more specifically, an agent, a “guilty” agent who is susceptible of pain — in short, some living being or other on whom he can vent his feelings directly or in effigy, under some pretext or other.’ If suffering is seen as natural or uncaused it will be coded as misfortune instead of injustice, and it will produce resignation rather than rebellion. The most efficient way to incite, therefore, is to indict” (p. 64).

The role of bin Laden was, and remains, to provide such a hyperbolic indictment — one that men like Atta would never have heard back in authoritarian Egypt but that came through loud and clear in their German exile. Bin Laden demonized the United States, accusing it of genocide against Muslims and repeatedly contending that the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia ever since the first Gulf War in 1991 was a far graver offense than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even though that had led to the death of one million Afghans and had sent five million more into exile.

The fact that the 9/11 plot involved the attackers’ own self-destruction suggests possible irrationality on their part, but Holmes argues that this was actually part of the specific narrative of blame. Americans feel contempt for Muslims and ascribe little or no value to Muslim lives. Therefore, to be captured after a terrorist attack involved a high likelihood that the Americans would torture the perpetrator. Suicide took care of that worry (and provided several other advantages discussed below).

The United States as “Sole Remaining Superpower”

Another subject about which Holmes is strikingly original is the subtle way in which the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the United States’ self-promotion as the sole remaining superpower clouded our vision and virtually guaranteed the catastrophe that ensued in Iraq. “Because Americans…. have sunk so much of their national treasure into a military establishment fit to deter and perhaps fight an enemy that has now disappeared,” he argues, “they have an almost irresistible inclination to exaggerate the centrality of rogue states, excellent targets for military destruction, [above] the overall terrorist threat. They overestimate war (which never unfolds as expected) and underestimate diplomacy and persuasion as instruments of American power” (pp. 71-72).

Holmes draws several interesting implications from this American overinvestment in Cold-War-type military power. One is that the very nature of the 9/11 attacks undermined crucial axioms of American national security doctrine. In a much more significant way than in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, a non-state actor on the international stage successfully attacked the United States, contrary to a well-established belief in Pentagon circles that only states have the capability of menacing us militarily. Equally alarming, by employing a strategy requiring their own deaths, the terrorists ensured that deterrence no longer held sway. Overwhelming military might cannot deter non-state actors who accept that they will die in their attacks on others. The day after 9/11, American leaders in Washington D.C. suddenly felt unprotected and defenseless against a new threat they only imperfectly understood. They responded in various ways.

One was to recast what had happened in terms of Cold-War thinking. “To repress feelings of defenselessness associated with an unfamiliar threat, the decision makers’ gaze slid uncontrollably away from al Qaeda and fixated on a recognizable threat that was unquestionably susceptible to being broken into bits” (p.312). Holmes calls this fusion of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein a “mental alchemy, the ‘reconceiving’ of an impalpable enemy as a palpable enemy.” He endorses James Mann’s thesis that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and others did not change the underlying principles guiding American foreign policy in response to the 9/11 attacks; that, in fact, they did the exact opposite: “[T]he Bush administration has managed foreign affairs so ineptly because it has been reflexively implementing out-of-date formulas in a radically changed security environment” (p. 106).

Unintended consequences also played a role, Holmes argues: “If conservative Congressmen had not blocked [Pennsylvania Governor] Tom Ridge’s nomination as Defense Secretary [in 2000] for the ludicrously immaterial reason that he was wobbly on abortion, then the Cheney-Rumsfeld group, including Wolfowitz and [Douglas] Feith, would have been in no position to hijack the administration’s reaction to 9/11″ (pp. 93-94). Rumsfeld enthusiastically endorsed Bush’s description of his “new” policies as a “war” because the Office of the Secretary of Defense then became the lead agency in designing and carrying out America’s response.

There was little or no countervailing influence. “By sheer chance,” Holmes writes, “Rice and Powell — no doubt orderly managers — have pedestrian minds and perhaps deferential personalities. Neither provided a gripping and persuasive vision of the United States’ role in the world that might have counteracted the megalomania of the neoconservatives, and neither was capable of outfoxing the hard-liners in an interagency power struggle” (p. 94).

The costs of equating al Qaeda with Iraq and of concentrating on a military response were high. “It meant that some of the troops sent to Iraq in the first wave believed, disgracefully, that they were avenging the 3,000 dead from September 11…. Cruel and arbitrary behavior by some U.S. forces helped stoke the violent insurgency that followed” (p. 307).

American confusion about the nature of the enemy — rogue state vs. non-state terrorist organization — produced two different counterstrategies, both of which almost certainly made the situation worse. First, by focusing on a rogue state (Iraq), rather than on a non-state actor (al Qaeda), the Pentagon drew attention to what it came to call the “hand-off scenario” in which a nuclear-armed rogue state might hand over weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who would use them against the U.S. To counter this threat, the Pentagon developed a strategy of preventive war against rogue states with the objective of bringing about regime change in them. The only way to prevent nuclear proliferation to terrorist groups — so the argument went — was to forcibly democratize Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes, some of which had long been allied with the United States.

The other strategy was a return to what seemed like a form of deterrence: a “scare the Muslims” campaign. This involved a resort to massive “shock and awe” bombing raids on Baghdad with the intent of demonstrating the futility of defying the United States.

By reacting to the threat of modern terrorism with an attack on a substitute target — without even bothering to calculate the enormous potential costs involved — the Pentagon greatly overestimated what military force could achieve. Both the regime-change and overawe-the-Muslims approaches carried with them potentially devastating unintended consequences — particularly if any of the premises, such as about who possessed WMD, were wrong. Overly abstract ideas were substituted for empirical knowledge of, and logical responses to, an enemy’s capabilities. Thus, insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, two devastated, poor countries, have managed to fight one of the most powerful American expeditionary forces in history to a virtual standstill. In short, “America’s bellicose response to the 9/11 provocation was not only dishonorable and unethical, given the cruel suffering it has inflicted on thousands of innocents, but also imprudent in the extreme because it was bound to produce as much hatred as fear, as much burning desire for reprisal as quaking paralysis and docility. Some of the sickening effects are unfolding before our eyes. That even more malevolent consequences remain in store is a grim possibility not to be wished away” (p. 10).

Complicity of the Left in American Imperialism

Holmes is also interesting on why the American Left has been so ineffectual in countering the efforts of Washington’s pro-war party. Deeply guilt-ridden over the Clinton administration’s failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda and frustrated by the constraints of international law and United Nations procedures, some influential progressives in America had already advocated a preemptive and unilateralist turn in American foreign policy that the Bush administration hijacked. Human rights activists had heavily promoted intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo to halt ethnic cleansing — and doing so without any international sanction whatsoever. Some of them became as enthusiastic about using the American armed forces to achieve limited foreign policy goals as many neocons. Even U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright made herself notorious with her 1993 wisecrack to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

Although Holmes tries not to overstate his case, he suspects that the humanitarian interventionism of the 1990s — at one point he speaks of “human rights as imperial ideology” (p. 190) — may have played at least a small role in the public’s acceptance of Bush’s intervention in Iraq. If so, it is hard to imagine a better example of the disasters that good intentions can sometimes produce. The result in Iraq, in turn, has more or less silenced calls from the Left for further campaigns of military intervention for humanitarian purposes. The U.S. is conspicuously not participating in the U.N. intervention in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The Rule of Law

As a legal scholar, Holmes is committed to the rule of law. “[L]aw is best understood,” he writes, “not as a set of rigid rules but rather as a set of institutional mechanisms and procedures designed to correct the mistakes that even exceptionally talented executive officials are bound to make and to facilitate midstream readjustments and course corrections. If we understand law, constitutionalism, and due process in this way, then it becomes obvious why the war on terrorism is bound to fail when conducted, as it has been so far, against the rule of law and outside the constitutional system of checks and balances” (p. 5).

This short-circuiting of normal constitutional procedures he sees as probably the most consequential post-9/11 blunder of the Bush administration. The President’s repeated claims that he needs high levels of secrecy and the ability to arbitrarily cancel established law in order to move decisively against terrorists draw his utter contempt. “By dismantling checks and balances, along the lines idealized and celebrated by [John] Yoo, the administration has certainly gained flexibility in the ‘war on terror.’ It has gained the flexibility, in particular, to shoot first and aim afterward” (p. 301). Although such an assumption of dictatorial powers has happened before during periods of national emergency in the United States, Holmes is convinced that the humanitarian interventionism of the 1990s helped anesthetize many Americans to the implications of what the government was doing after 9/11.

Even now, with the Iraq War all but lost and public opinion having turned decisively against the President, there is still a flabbiness in mainstream criticism that reveals a major weakness in the conduct of American foreign policy. For example, while many hawks and doves today recognize that Rumsfeld mobilized too few forces to achieve his military objectives in Iraq, they tend to concentrate on his rejection of former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki’s advice that he needed a larger army of occupation. They almost totally ignore the true national policy implications of Rumsfeld’s failed leadership. Holmes writes, “If Saddam Hussein had actually possessed the tons of chemical and biological weapons that, in the president’s talking points, constituted the casus belli for the invasion, Rumsfeld’s slimmed-down force would have abetted the greatest proliferation disaster in world history” (p. 82). He quotes Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor: “Securing the WMD required sealing the country’s borders and quickly seizing control of the many suspected sites before they were raided by profiteers, terrorists, and regime officials determined to carry on the fight. The force that Rumsfeld eventually assembled, by contrast, was too small to do any of this” (pp. 84-85). As a matter of fact, looters did ransack the Iraqi nuclear research center at al Tuwaitha. No one pointed out these flaws in the strategy until well after the invasion had revealed that, luckily, Saddam had no WMD.

With this book, Stephen Holmes largely succeeds in elevating criticism of contemporary American imperialism in the Middle East to a new level. In my opinion, however, he underplays the roles of American imperialism and militarism in exploiting the 9/11 crisis to serve vested interests in the military-industrial complex, the petroleum industry, and the military establishment. Holmes leaves the false impression that the political system of the United States is capable of a successful course correction. But, as Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, puts it: “None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them.”

There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic — becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force. To take up these subjects, however, moves the discussion into largely unexplored territory. For now, Holmes has done a wonderful job of clearing the underbrush and preparing the way for the public to address this more or less taboo subject.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of the bestselling Blowback TrilogyBlowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2007).

Copyright 2007 Chalmers Johnson

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

October 5, 2007

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

Global Research, October 4, 2007

 

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PART 1

      In recent months and even years, the United States and it’s close allies have been stepping up efforts to display Iran in a very negative light, labeling it as a terrorist nation bent on developing nuclear weapons to use against Israel and other allies of the United States in the Middle East, and possibly further outside of the region, or to deliver those nuclear weapons to the hands of terrorists hoping to use them against the United States and its allies.

      If a war takes place with Iran, orchestrated by Israel, the United States and other allies, then there will be a massive transformation of not only the Middle East as a whole, but the entire geo-political structure of the world. Simply stated, if a war on Iran occurs, everything changes. So, it is extremely important and necessary to analyze the process of building the case for a war with Iran, as well as the current stance of the Iranian government, the historical relationship between Iran and the West, namely the United States and Britain and how far along these war preparations have already come to the point where there is currently a “secret war” taking place within Iran’s borders being directed by the West, namely, the United States.

      As the United States is the sole superpower and empire in the world today, most commentators focus primarily just on relations between America and Iran to explain the current situation developing between the two countries, usually not going further back than just a few years, and as far back as the mainstream media will tell the story is to 1979, when Iran had a revolution, in which they threw out the Shah of Iran, who was backed by the Americans and British, and replaced that form of secular government with a religious one. However, as important as this event was between Iranian and American relations, it is important to go further back to truly understand the dynamic relations that the United Kingdom, and later, the United States (the Anglo-American alliance) have had with Iran. It is important to understand history so that we don’t repeat it. So, it is important to note that the United States only became a global superpower after World War 2, which left it the only major country in the world not devastated by the war. As the European and Asian countries lay in ruins, America built up its power and saw fit to expand its influence across the globe, for the first many decades in the guise of deterring the spread of Communism by the Soviet Union, the other great power in the world. However, in decades to come, the United States asserted itself an imperial status, and in 1989, at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was left as the sole superpower in the world, and saw fit to maintain that status. But before the Second World War, it was the United Kingdom, or Great Britain that was the predominant world power, having exerted its influence throughout the entire globe.

      It is during this period to which I will return to help identify the origins and causes of the current conflict between the Anglo-Americans (Britain and the United States), and Iran, as well as other great powers. Iran has often played the part of an imperial and hegemonic battleground between great nations and empires, and clearly, not much has changed.

Imperial Rumblings and the Road to World War

      As the old British colonial system began to collapse in the late 18th Century, notably with the American Revolutionary War against the British colonialists from 1775-1783, the necessity for a new system of empire was drastically needed. This opportunity arose in the early 19th Century, as William Engdahl put it in his book, A Century of War, in the year 1820, “Acting on the urgings of a powerful group of London shipping and banking interests centered around the Bank of England, and Alexander Baring of Baring Brothers merchant bankers, parliament passes a statement of principle in support of the concept advocated several decades earlier by Scottish economist Adam Smith: so-called ‘absolute free trade’.”1 He continued by explaining this concept; “If they [the British] dominated world trade, ‘free trade’ could only ensure that their dominance would grow at the expense of other less-developed trading nations.” Citing the commentary of American economist Henry C. Carey, considered to be very influential in shaping President Lincoln’s domestic economic policies Engdahl further noted that, “The class separations of British society were aggravated by a growing separation of a tiny number of very wealthy from the growing masses of very poor, as a lawful consequence of ‘free trade’.”2 Engdahl further commented, “Britain’s genius has been a chameleon-like ability to adapt that policy to a shifting international economic reality. But the core policy has remained – Adam Smith’s ‘absolute free trade,’ as a weapon against sovereign national economic policy of rival powers”, and that “at the end of the 19th Century, another debate arose regarding how exactly to maintain Britain’s empire which led to the formation of what was termed ‘Informal Empire’, allowing the dispersal of British funds around the world in an aim of creating financial dependence, on which Engdahl mused, “The notion of special economic relationships with ‘client states,’ the concept of ‘spheres of influence’ as well as that of ‘balance-of-power diplomacy,’ all came out of this complex weave of British ‘informal empire’ towards the end of the last century.”3

      However, in world politics at the time, the British Empire was not the sole imperial force in the world, as there were several other Empires across Europe and Asia, notably, the Russian and Ottoman Empires. Iran, in this era, was referred to as Persia, and in fact, there had been a few wars between Russia and Persia in the early part of the 19th Century. However, in the later half of the Century, the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire was in its decline. In 1875, an anti-Ottoman revolt began in its controlled territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which has been said, “Indeed, the immediate cause for the 1875 revolt was the crop failure of the previous year and the unrelenting pressure of the tax farmers.”4 This area of Eurasia has been especially pertinent throughout the history of empires, as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor in the Jimmy Carter administration has noted, as he was the man behind the US strategy of supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979, which drew in the Soviet Union, delivering to them “their Vietnam”, and ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and thusly, the multi-polar world.5 Brzezinski, in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, which outlines a blueprint for the global strategy that should be taken by the United States as the world’s sole superpower, in which he states, “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.”6  So, “[t]he spreading of the war in the Balkans increased the complexity of the problem facing the great powers. No longer was it merely a question of arranging a satisfactory settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now Serbia and Montenegro were belligerents, while in Bulgaria the large-scale atrocities had so aroused European public opinion that the restoration of Turkish rule no longer was feasible. The English were particularly sensitive to the “Bulgarian Horrors” because they had fought the Crimean War to preserve the Ottoman Empire.”7 Further, “The remainder of the year 1876 was characterized by intense diplomatic activity. The most important consequences were the Reichstadt Agreement reached by Russia and Austria on July 8, the Russian ultimatum to Turkey which resulted in an armistice on October 31, and the international conference held in Constantinople in December, 1876, and January, 1877,” and then “Finally, on April 24, 1877, after nearly two years of futile negotiations, Russia declared war upon Turkey.” One year later, in 1878, the Ottoman Empire lost the war against Russia.

      It was at this time, as Engdahl points out, “British banking and political elites had begun to express first signs of alarm over two specific aspects of the impressive industrial development in Germany”, and that, “The first was the emergence of an independent, modern German merchant and military naval fleet,” and “The second strategic alarm was sounded over an ambitious German project to construct a railway linking Berlin with, ultimately, Baghdad, then part of the Ottoman Empire.”8 Engdahl further pointed out that, “In both areas, the naval challenge and the construction of a rail infrastructure linking Berlin to the Persian Gulf, oil figured as a decisive, if still hidden, motive for both the British and German sides.” On top of this, “Russia’s oil fields, including those in Baku, were challenging Standard Oil’s supremacy in Europe. Russia’s ascendancy in natural resources disrupted the strategic balance of power in Europe and troubled Britain.”9 Standard Oil was of course the American oil monopoly controlled by the Rockefeller family, which was later broken up into successive companies which have changed names over the years and merged with other large multinational oil companies, so that today the spawn of Standard Oil’s empire now is with ExxonMobil, the largest oil corporation in the world, Esso, which merged with Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, which merged with British Petroleum, Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips.

      So, there were significant Anglo-American and European interests in Persian and Middle Eastern oil, which were being threatened by Russia, not to mention each other, and further, “The first to try to establish a Middle East oil industry was Baron Julius de Reuter, founder of Reuters News Service. He approached the shah of Iran in 1872. Reuter secured a notorious ‘exclusive concession’ to develop a railroad, plus all riparian mining and mineral rights in the country, including oil, for the next 70 years.” However, this deal broke down due to frustrations with the shah, “and the London investment market quickly dismissed Persia as a completely unreliable kingdom for investment.” But with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, “Some capitals wanted to dominate the soon-to-be dismantled territories as their own spheres of interest. Some merely wanted to prevent others from doing so. A few wanted to see new, friendly nations emerge in the aftermath of Turkey’s disintegration.” As it was further pointed out in Edwin Black’s book, Banking on Baghdad, “as the nineteenth century drew to a close, Turkish Mesopotamia and indeed the entire extended Middle East suddenly catapulted in importance – especially to England,” and he further explained, “as the twentieth century opened for business, the world needed much more oil. Petroleum was no longer just to illuminate lanterns, boil stew, and lubricate moving parts. Modern armies and navies demanded vast new supplies of fuel and petroleum by-producers.”10

      Edwin Black noted in his book that, “As England’s fleet needed oil, the prospects for finding it were troubling. Baku’s [Russia’s] petroleum industry was certainly expanding and by century’s end represented more than half the world’s supply. It had already surpassed even Standard Oil, which was suffering under legal restraints and now controlled only 43 percent of the world market. Russian oil was dominant in Europe. Royal Dutch Shell – still majority Dutch-owned- was also emerging. Germany had secured control over the vast fields of Romania. But Britain’s new source of supply could not be controlled by any potential adversaries, such as Russia, expanding into eastern Europe, Germany, threatening to sever the British Empire, or Holland, which even then was fighting the bloody Boer War with England in South Africa,” and Black continues, “The most logical candidate for new supply was, of course, the Persian Gulf. Britain could have chosen the United States or Mexico or Poland as a trusted new supplier. But Persia had been within the sphere of British influence since the days of the East India Company. Persia was halfway to India. Persia it was.”11 So, the British had their eyes set on Persia, and “In 1900, Australian mining entrepreneur William D’Arcy heard of the opportunity and stepped forward to take the risk. D’Arcy’s own representative had suggested to the Persians that ‘an industry may be developed that will compete with that of Baku.’ After paying several thousand pounds to all the right go-betweens, D’Arcy secured a powerful and seemingly safe concession.” In 1908, at the discovery of vast oil reserves in Persia, “a new corporation named the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was created. Excitement on London’s financial markets could barely be contained. All available shares were purchased within 30 minutes. Britain was now assured of an abundant supply of Mideast Petroleum.”12

      Shortly before this took place, “In 1889, a group of German industrialists and bankers, led by Deutsche Bank, secured a concession from the Ottoman government to build a railway through Anatolia from the capitol, Constantinople. This accord was expanded ten years later, in 1899, when the Ottoman government gave the German group approval for the next stage of what became known as the Berlin-Baghdad railway project,”13 and this was not taken lightly by other powers as, “This railroad line was not seen by the European powers as a mere industrial improvement battering transportation in the region, but also as a profound German military threat and oil asset – a land check to England’s naval supremacy.”14 At this time, a senior British military adviser to the Serbian army, R.G.D. Laffan, stated, “A glance at the map of the world will show how the chain of States stretched from Berlin to Baghdad. The German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, Turkey. One little strip of territory alone blocked the way and prevented the two ends of the chain from being linked together. That little strip was Serbia [. . . ] Serbia was really the first line of defense of our eastern possessions. If she were crushed or enticed into the ‘Berlin-Baghdad’ system, then our vast but slightly defended empire would soon have felt the shock of Germany’s eastward thrust.”15 Of this, Engdahl commented, “Thus it is not surprising to find enormous unrest and wars throughout the Balkans in the decade before 1914,” and that “Conveniently enough, the conflict and wars helped weaken the Berlin-Constantinople alliance, and especially the completion of the Berlin-Baghdad rail link.”16

      During this time, especially in the beginning of the 20th Century, Britain saw Germany as its greatest imperial threat. “By 1914, Germany’s fleet had risen to second place, just behind Britain’s and gaining rapidly.”17 Further, “Britain sought with every device known, to delay and obstruct progress of the railway, while always holding out the hope of ultimate agreement to keep the German side off balance. This game lasted until the outbreak of war in August 1914.”18 With this rising German threat to British hegemony in the Gulf region, “Many in the British establishment had determined well before 1914 that war was the only course suitable to bring the European situation under control. British interests dictated, according to her balance-of-power logic, a shift from the traditional ‘pro-Ottoman and anti-Russian’ alliance strategy of the nineteenth century, to a ‘pro-Russian and anti-German’ alliance strategy.”19 Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, in Bosnia, Austria declared war on Serbia, with the backing of Germany, and Russia mobilized to support Serbia. A few days later, Britain declared war on Germany, and the First World War broke out.

      In the lead up to this period, much more developments were taking place with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). Anglo-Persian, still a new company in the petroleum business, was not as well organized and did not yet have the global reach that its main competitors, Standard Oil and Royal Dutch Shell, had. As the British were eyeing far-off foreign oil fields, they began to lean towards favoring the Shell Company, as it was already by this time far-reaching. So a project was undertaken with the aim of remaking Shell in a British fashion, which at that time, was still under the control of the Dutch. As Anglo-Persian noticed the British governments move towards Shell, they saw their presence in Persia soon being phased out, so they attempted to reform themselves, “So Anglo-Persian purchased an existing network. The Europaische Petroleum Union (EPU) was an amalgam of continental oil distribution arms, mainly controlled by German concerns. EPU owned an operating subsidiary in Britain. The subsidiary controlled both an international oil shipping division, the Petroleum Steamship Company, and a domestic consumer sales agency, the Homelight Oil Company. [ . . . ] The EPU subsidiary’s name was British Petroleum Company, with its first name descriptive only of its operating territory, not its true ownership, which was mainly German.”20 After World War 1 began, British Petroleum was seized by the British government for being ‘enemy property,’ and in 1917 Anglo-Persian bought the seized property from the British government, thus making British Petroleum distinctly British.

      An agreement was signed in 1916, named the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was “a secret tripartite collection of letters, complete with colored maps, agreeing to carve up the Mideast after the war. Baghdad and Basra [Middle and Lower Iraq] were decreed British spheres of influence, while oil-rich Mosul and Syria would be French, with Russia exercising a privilege over its frontiers with Persia.”21 As Black noted in his book, “The India Office in London expressed the thinking succinctly in a telegram to Charles Hardinge, the British viceroy of India: ‘What we want is not a United Arabia: but a weak and disunited Arabia, split up into little principalities so far as possible under our suzerainty [authority] – but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West’.”22 The British were the most adamant about maintaining control in the region, as “After 1918, Britain continued to maintain almost a million soldiers stationed throughout the Middle East. The Persian Gulf had become a ‘British Lake’ by 1919.”23

A British Vision for World Order and the Road to Another World War

      After World War 1, and with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, Britain saw to maintain its grasp of the vast oil reserves of the Middle East, “The ink on the Versailles treaty had barely dried when the powerful American oil interests of the Rockefeller Standard Oil companies realized they had been skillfully cut out of the spoils of war by their British alliance partners. The newly carved Middle East boundaries, as well as the markets of postwar Europe, were dominated by British government interests through Britain’s covert ownership of Royal Dutch Shell and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company [British Petroleum].”24 In fact, the make-up of Royal Dutch Shell was comprised between two parent companies, “Royal Dutch in the Netherlands, controlling 60 percent, and Shell Transport in the United Kingdom, controlling 40 percent.”25

      å In 1920, the San Remo agreement was signed in which “the French and British had divided up the Middle East for its oil.”26 In March of 1921, a large meeting took place with many top British experts in Near East affairs, which convened in Cairo, Egypt. The meeting’s purpose was to outline the political divisions in Britain’s newly obtained territories, and it was headed by Britain’s secretary of state for colonial affairs, Winston Churchill, and included the participation of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). It was at this meeting that it was decided that “Mesopotamia was renamed Iraq and given to the son of Hashemite Hussain ibn Ali of Mecca [Saudi Arabia], Feisal bin Hussain. British Royal Air Force aircraft were permanently based in Iraq and its administration was placed under the effective control of Anglo-Persian Oil Company officials,” and by this time, the British citizen in control of Royal Dutch Shell, Henry Deterding, through the company, “had an iron grip on the vast oil concessions of the Dutch East Indies, on Persia, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and most of the postwar Middle East.”27

      Spending the next years under the auspices of British control, the rest of the world, namely Europe, went through drastic changes. As the Soviet Union grew in power, so too did another European country, Germany. In 1933, Hitler and the Nazi party came to power and in 1939, invaded Poland, igniting World War 2. In 1940, Hitler had to make a choice about strategy against the British, and as William Shirer stated in book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “There was of course another alternative open to the Germans. They might bring Britain down by striking across the Mediterranean with their Italian ally, taking Gibraltar at its western opening and in the east driving on from Italy’s bases in North Africa through Egypt and over the canal to Iran, severing one of the Empire’s main life lines.”28 This strategy was corroborated by Black, who stated, “All attention now focused on where Hitler could find the extra fuel he needed: on the gargantuan oil fields of Iraq and Iran. A 1941 War Cabinet strategy report concluded, ‘Oil is, of course, Germany’s main economic objective both in Iraq and Iran (Persia).”29

      Hitler pursued a strategy of supporting the self-determination and nationalism of the Arab and Middle Eastern countries in order to gain their favour, and he did so by supporting the Palestinians, which set the pace for all other conflicts in the region. (What else is new?) Members of the Reich began holding meetings with senior Iraqi leaders. The Nazi strategy in the region reflected the strategy by the British years earlier, with Lawrence of Arabia, who led Arab nations in fighting against the Ottomans in the name of their autonomy. Now, Hitler was supporting this same idea, to gain access to Mideast oil for its war effort, “Nonetheless, der Fuhrer still viewed Arab nationalism as a mere means to an end, that is, as a stepping-stone to the Nazi conquest and domination of the entire Middle East.”30 On April 3, 1941, a coup d’état occurred in Iraq, in which pro-Hitler forces took power, and “almost simultaneously, neighboring Syria, the anticipated gateway for the Nazi invasion, exploded with Reich propaganda, supported by Gestapo agents and specially trained Arab Nazis.”31 It was further pointed out that, “The coup in Baghdad threatened British interests for at least three reasons: it severed the vital air link, and a supplemental land route, between India and Egypt. It endangered the vital oil supply from the northern Iraq oilfields upon which British defense of the Mediterranean depended. Finally, an Arab nationalist success in Iraq could prove contagious and subvert Britain’s tenuous political position in Egypt and Palestine.”32 The new Iraqi government attempted to attack British forces at an airfield in Habbaniya, but engaged in a battle they were unable to win, “By mid-May 1941, the British had occupied Basra [Southern Iraq] thereby asserting their rights under the 1930 treaty, lifted the siege of Habbaniya and at least temporarily forestalled Axis intervention.” As the British neared Iraq, the leader of the Iraqi pro-Arab nationalist government fled to Persia, and Britain retook Iraq.

      T.E. Lawrence in 1941, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, which stated, “The people of England have been led in Iraq into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from disaster.” The response from Prime Minister Winston Churchill was, “You do not need to bother too much about the long term future in Iraq. Your immediate task is to get a friendly Government set up in Baghdad.”33

      In August of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, and the pre-World War 1 British strategy of being ‘pro-Russia’ and ‘anti-German’ again ensued. Through the Lend-Lease program, America was sending in supplies through Persia (Iran), into Russia to help with the war effort against Nazi Germany. However, “While officially neutral, Persia had friendly ties with Germany and was home to many German nationals. [The Iranian King] Reza Shah Pahlavi’s refusal to expel the German nationals, coupled with their more strategic concerns, prompted an Anglo-Soviet invasion in August 1941.”34 The British invaded Persia from their bases in Iraq, invading the South of Iran, and the Russians invaded from the North. The Shah who was in power at the time was, after a speedy overthrow of Iran by British and Russian tanks and infantry, exiled to South Africa, and “The British and Soviet troops met in Tehran [the Iranian capital] on 17 September and effectively divided the country between them for the rest of the war. A Tri-Partite Treaty of Alliance between Britain, Russia and Persia, signed in January 1942, committed the Allies to leaving Persia at the end of the war.”

      The British and Russians made the former Shah’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the new Shah of Iran, with a pro-Western view. After the end of World War 2, the West’s (namely the Anglo-American) enemy was now the Soviet Union, their former Ally against Hitler. At the end of World War 2, the United States had the upper-hand of all the great powers of the world, as it suffered little damage compared to the European and Asian countries, so it was necessary for Britain to maintain a strong alliance with America if it wanted to maintain its global reach. It was no longer the era after WW1, where Britain was able to push aside US interest in the Middle East and elsewhere, now, they had to be allied interests, in an Anglo-American alliance. Iran had never decreased in strategic importance, both for its oil, and for its position in relation to the Soviet Union, being directly below it. According to the agreement signed between Britain, the Soviet Union and Iran during the war, the Anglo-Russian forces were to leave in a period of 6 months after the end of the war. America was closely watching the relations between the Soviet Union and Iran post-war, “Another indication of Soviet intentions was Moscow’s support of independence and autonomy movements in northern Iran.”35 Soviet leader Josef Stalin began grandstanding, speaking for autonomy for certain nations, which was taken by the West as an inclination toward Soviet expansion. Clearly, the USSR and Stalin were pursuing similar strategies in Persia that England was pursuing at the end of the First World War in the area east of Persia, of creating a ‘weak and disunited’ region, making it easier to be dominated by great powers. Further, “Moscow radio broadcasts criticized Anglo-Iranian Oil Company concessions in Khuzestan [Western Iranian province] and accused British authorities of obstructing the Tudeh-dominated trade union.” Soviet supported autonomy in Azerbaijan [North of Persia] was backfiring, and eventually Iranians moved toward a more pro-American stance.

The Anglo-American Alliance vs. Democracy

      In the early 1950s, Mohammed Mossadeq was elected to the Iranian Parliament, and as leader of the Nationalists, and was subsequently appointed by the Shah as Prime Minister of Iran in 1951. In 1953, “the CIA and the British SIS orchestrated a coup d’etat that toppled the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh. The prime minister and his nationalist supporters in parliament roused Britain’s ire when they nationalised the oil industry in 1951, which had previously been exclusively controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company [British Petroleum]. Mossadegh argued that Iran should begin profiting from its vast oil reserves.”36 The Anglo-Persian Oil Company had changed its name to Anglo-Iranian Oil in 1935, but was still an arm of British imperialism, so when Mossadeq made the suggestion of nationalizing Iranian oil for the Iranians, he committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the international imperialist powers, and threatened their control over the supplies of Iranian oil, so in their eyes, he had to go. Thus, “Britain accused him [Mossadeq] of violating the company’s legal rights and orchestrated a worldwide boycott of Iran’s oil that plunged the country into financial crisis. The British government tried to enlist the Americans in planning a coup, an idea originally rebuffed by President Truman. But when Dwight Eisenhower took over the White House, cold war ideologues – determined to prevent the possibility of a Soviet takeover – ordered the CIA to embark on its first covert operation against a foreign government.” The Guardian newspaper went on to report that, “A new book about the coup, All the Shah’s Men, which is based on recently released CIA documents, describes how the CIA – with British assistance – undermined Mossadegh’s government by bribing influential figures, planting false reports in newspapers and provoking street violence. Led by an agent named Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA leaned on a young, insecure Shah to issue a decree dismissing Mossadegh as prime minister. By the end of Operation Ajax, some 300 people had died in firefights in the streets of Tehran.” After the violent overthrow of a democratic government, who did the Brits and Americans rely on to take back the government for their strategic interests? Well, the answer is simple, the same person they relied upon to hold it for them when they invaded in 1941, the Shah of Iran, whose father was deposed and exiled in the 1941 invasion, and as the Guardian noted, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      As the National Security Archives note, “On the morning of August 19, 1953, a crowd of demonstrators operating at the direction of pro-Shah organizers with ties to the CIA made its way from the bazaars of southern Tehran to the center of the city. Joined by military and police forces equipped with tanks, they sacked offices and newspapers aligned with Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and his advisers, as well as the communist Tudeh Party and others opposed to the monarch. By early afternoon, clashes with Mosaddeq supporters were taking place, the fiercest occurring in front of the prime minister’s home. Reportedly 200 people were killed in that battle before Mosaddeq escaped over his own roof, only to surrender the following day.”37 Further, it was reported that, “The CIA, with help from British intelligence, planned, funded and implemented the operation. When the plot threatened to fall apart entirely at an early point, U.S. agents on the ground took the initiative to jump-start the operation, adapted the plans to fit the new circumstances, and pressed their Iranian collaborators to keep going. Moreover, a British-led oil boycott, supported by the United States, plus a wide range of ongoing political pressures by both governments against Mosaddeq, culminating in a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup helped create the environment necessary for success.” This is very reminiscent of what was done during the 1941 coup in Iraq, where a pro-German group came to power, simultaneously with a massive Nazi propaganda campaign being unleashed in neighboring Syria. It continued, “However, Iranians also contributed in many ways. Among the Iranians involved were the Shah, Zahedi and several non-official figures who worked closely with the American and British intelligence services. Their roles in the coup were clearly vital, but so also were the activities of various political groups – in particular members of the National Front who split with Mosaddeq by early 1953, and the Tudeh party – in critically undermining Mosaddeq’s base of support.”

      The New York Times ran a special story examining the recently released documents pertaining to the CIA/MI6 (SIS) coup in 1953, in which they state, “Britain, fearful of Iran’s plans to nationalize its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister,” and that, “The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service, handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi’s regime two days after the coup prevailed.”38 It further revealed that, “Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric’s home in a campaign to turn the country’s Islamic religious community against Mossadegh’s government.” Here, we see a clear example of the Anglo-Americans using covert intelligence agents to incite violence and even commit acts of terrorism.

      In an interview with Amy Goodman, of the Democracy Now! radio program, Stephen Kinzer, author of the book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup And The Roots of Middle East Terror, was discussing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, of which he said, “So the Iranian oil is actually what maintained Britain at its level of prosperity and its level of military preparedness all throughout the ’30s, the ’40s, and the ’50s. Meanwhile, Iranians were getting a pittance, they were getting almost nothing from the oil that came out of their own soil. Naturally, as nationalist ideas began to spread through the world in the post-World War II era, this injustice came to grate more and more intensely on the Iranian people. So they carried Mossadegh to power very enthusiastically. On the day he was elected prime minister, Parliament also agreed unanimously to proceed with the nationalization of the oil company. And the British responded as you would imagine. Their first response was disbelief. They just couldn’t believe that someone in some weird faraway country–which was the way they perceived Iran–would stand up and challenge such an important monopoly. This was actually the largest company in the entire British Empire.”39 And as it was pointed out, Anglo-Iranian Oil later changed its name to the corporation we know today as British Petroleum, or BP, one of the three largest oil corporations in the world, after ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. Further, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      Clearly, Royal Dutch Shell also had interests related to Iran, as William Engdahl explained in his book, in the lead up to the conflict between the Anglo-Americans and Iran, in which Mossadegh began the process of nationalization of oil, “Mossadegh went to Washington in a vain effort to enlist American help for his country’s position. The major political blunder made by Mossadegh was his lack of appreciation of the iron-clad cartel relationship of Anglo-American interests around the vital issue of strategic petroleum control. U.S. ‘mediator’ W. Averill Harriman had gone to Iran, accompanied by a delegation packed with people tied to Big Oil interests, including State Department economist Walter Levy. Harriman recommended that Iran accept the British ‘offer.’ When Mossadegh went to Washington, the only suggestion he heard from the State Department was to appoint Royal Dutch Shell as Iran’s management company.”40 Engdahl continues, “Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services [MI6] had convinced the CIA’s Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who then convinced Eisenhower, that the overthrow of Mossadegh was indispensable.”41

      Under the imposed dictatorship of the Shah, a new agency named the SAVAK was created, “Formed under the guidance of United States and Israeli intelligence officers in 1957, SAVAK developed into an effective secret agency,”42 which was responsible for torturing political dissidents, assassinations and jailing thousands of political prisoners. The SAVAK’s brutality and actions became synonymous with the Shah’s reign, itself, as they were his secret police.

Bilderberg and the OPEC War

      On October 6, 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle East, in which Egypt and Syria invaded Israel. However, there is much about this war that is not commonly known. The supposed “hero” that came out of this war was Henry Kissinger, but in reality, he was anything but. William Engdahl’s account of the Yom Kippur War and the subsequent ‘oil shock’, was described by the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, as being “the only accurate account I have seen of what really happened with the price of oil in 1973,” as written on the back of his book, A Century of War. As Engdahl states, “The entire constellation of events surrounding the outbreak of the October War was secretly orchestrated by Washington and London, using the powerful secret diplomatic channels developed by Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.”43 It continues, “Kissinger effectively controlled the Israeli policy response through his intimate relation with Israel’s Washington ambassador, Simcha Dinitz. In addition, Kissinger cultivated channels to the Egyptian and Syrian side. His method was simply to misrepresent to each party the critical elements of the other, ensuring the war and its subsequent Arab oil embargo.”

      As John Loftus, former prosecutor with the U.S Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, who had received unprecedented access to top-secret CIA and NATO archives, pointed out in his book, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People, that, “As one source admitted, Nixon’s staff had at least two days’ advance warning that an attack was coming on October 6,” and that no one warned Israel until the morning of the attack.44 It continued, “Whatever the motive, during September and October 1973 the Nixon White House turned a blind eye toward [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat’s plans for a consolidated sneak attack against the Jews. Not one word of the NSA’s [National Security Agency’s] information leaked out until the morning of the attack.” Further, it was revealed that, “A few hours before the invasion, the White House belatedly alterted Tel Aviv [Israel] that the nation was in deep trouble. An attack was coming on both fronts, but the White House insisted that the Israelis do nothing: no preemptive strikes, no firing the first shot. If Israel wanted American support, Kissinger warned, it could not even begin to mobilize until the Arabs invaded.”45 Engdahl further pointed out, “The war and its aftermath, Kissinger’s infamous ‘shuttle diplomacy,’ were scripted in Washington along the precise lines of the Bilderberg [secretive international economic think tank] deliberations in Saltsjobaden the previous May, some six months before the outbreak of the war. Arab oil-producing nations were to be the scapegoats for the coming rage of the world, while the Anglo-American interests responsible stood quietly in the background.”46 John Loftus further explained, “A number of intelligence sources we interviewed about the Yom Kippur War, including several Israelis, insist that Kissinger had set up the Jews. He sat on the NSA’s information, disappeared on the day of the invasion, and waited three days before convening the Security Council at the UN.”47 Recent revelations have revealed that “Newly released documents show that former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to keep him from interfering,” and that “after Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, the Israelis informed Kissinger at 6 a.m., about 3 and a half hours passed before he spoke to Nixon.”48

      As Engdahl pointed out, Germany attempted to maintain neutrality in the conflict, and refused the United States to ship weapons to Israel through Germany, so that Germany itself, could avoid the repercussions of the oil embargo placed by the Arab oil-producing countries on those who supported Israel in the war, in which the OPEC countries [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] raised the price of oil by 400%. However, the US refused to allow Germany to be neutral in the Middle East conflict, “But significantly, Britain was allowed to clearly state its neutrality, thus avoiding the impact of the Arab oil embargo. Once again, London had skillfully maneuvered itself around an international crisis that it had been instrumental in precipitating.” Then, Engdahl mentions how, “One enormous consequence of the ensuing 400 percent rise in OPEC oil prices was that investments of hundreds of millions of dollars by British Petroleum [formerly Anglo-Iranian Oil], Royal Dutch Shell and other Anglo-American petroleum concerns in the risky North Sea could produce oil at a profit. It is a curious fact that the profitability of these new North Sea oilfields was not at all secure until after the OPEC price rises. Of course, this might have only been a fortuitous coincidence.”49

      It is also highly ‘coincidental’ to notice that at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, at which Engdahl describes this plan as being formulated, American participants included, other than Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the author of The Grand Chessboard, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser and architect of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan through funding the Afghan Mujahideen (later to be known as Al-Qaeda), E.G. Collado, the Vice President of Exxon Corp. at the time, as well as Walter Levy, an oil consultant who was also among the American delegation that visited Iran in the lead-up to the 1953 coup, George Ball, ex-deputy secretary of state, from the Netherlands there was Gerrit A. Wagner, the President of Royal Dutch Shell, the Chairman of the Bilderberg meeting was Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who was married to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, the principal shareholder of Royal Dutch Shell (isn’t called ‘Royal Dutch’ for nothin’), and from Great Britain, Sir Eric Drake, the Chairman of British Petroleum and Sir Denis Greenhill, a director of British Petroleum.50 Although, again, I’m sure it was all just a coincidence, because these particular oil companies and the vast and powerful interests behind them would never be involved in any nefarious activities, unless of course you include coups, imperialism and war.

      As Engdahl further elaborates, the White House attempted to send an official to the U.S Treasury with the aim of getting OPEC to lower the price of oil, however, “he was bluntly turned away. In a memo, the official stated, ‘It was the banking leaders who swept aside this advice and pressed for a “recycling” program to accommodate higher oil prices,” and so the Treasury established a secret deal with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which was put in place and finalized by Henry Kissinger, and “Under the terms of agreement, a sizeable part of the huge new Saudi oil revenue windfall was to be invested in financing the U.S government deficits. A young Wall Street investment banker with the leading London-based Eurobond firm of White Weld & Co., David Mulford, was sent to Saudi Arabia to become the principal ‘investment adviser’ to SAMA; he was to guide the Saudi petrodollar investments to the correct banks, naturally in London and New York. The Bilderberg scheme was operating just as planned.”51

      Engdahl further points out that, “Following a meeting in Teheran [Iran] on January 1, 1974, a second price increase of more than 100 percent brought OPEC benchmark oil prices to $11.65. This was done on the surprising demand of the Shah of Iran, who had been secretly put up to it by Henry Kissinger. Only months earlier, the Shah had opposed the OPEC increase to $3.01 for fear that this would force Western exporters to charge more for the industrial equipment the Shah sought to import for Iran’s ambitious industrialization.”52

Enter The Peanut Farmer, the Trilateralists and Brzezinski’s Arc of Crisis

      After the Nixon and Ford administrations, both in which Henry Kissinger played a part of great influence, came the Jimmy Carter administration. However, what most people do not know is that this administration was largely dominated by a group of people who were all members of the Trilateral Commission, another secretive international think tank institution, often considered to be the sister group of Bilderberg. In fact, it was founded in 1973 by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was present at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, and influential banker David Rockefeller, who was also a founding member of the Bilderberg Group, and “The Commission’s purpose is to engineer an enduring partnership among the ruling classes of North America, Western Europe and Japan.”53 It was also said that, “Trilateralists cautioned that ‘in many cases, the support for human rights will have to be balanced against other important goals of world order’.”54 Much of the membership of the Trilateral Commission overlaps with that of Bilderberg, besides individuals such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, were George Ball and Henry Kissinger, and other Trilateral Commission members included George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.55 As the Trilateral Commission was being formed in 1973, Brzezinski and a few others chose to invite a man by the name of Jimmy Carter to join, who accepted and became an active member of the Commission, attending all their meetings,56 and when Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed 25 other members of the Trilateral Commission into his administration, including his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.57

      In the 70s, the Shah of Iran, which was at the time a secular [non-religious] nation, was stepping up the process of industrializing the country of Iran. At this time, Europe, especially at the behest of Germany and France, was pursuing greater cooperation and integration, and in doing so, created the European Monetary System (EMS), under which the nine European Community member states made the decision to have their central banks work together to align their currencies to one another. This would allow for greater competition between the Anglo-American dominated ‘petrodollar monetary system’ and the rising European Community, which was still feeling the effects of the OPEC oil shock. Part of the agreement between Germany and France was to develop an agreement with OPEC countries in the Middle East to exchange high-technology and equipment for a stable-priced oil supply. The Anglo-Americans saw this as a threat to their hegemony over the oil market, and so, “Carter had unsuccessfully sought to persuade the Schmidt [German] government, under the Carter administration’s new Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, to abandon export of virtually all nuclear technology to the developing sector, [underdeveloped countries, i.e. Iran] on the false argument that peaceful nuclear plant technology threatened to proliferate nuclear weapons, an argument which uniquely stood to enhance the strategic position of the Anglo-American petroleum-based financial establishment.”58 This effort to persuade Germany was to no avail, so the Anglo-Americans had to pursue a more drastic policy change.

      This policy formed when, “In November 1978, President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski. Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeni. Robert Bowie from the CIA was one of the lead ‘case officers’ in the new CIA-led coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier.”59 This is further corroborated by author and journalist, Webster Tarpley in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, in which he stated, “Carter and Brzezinski had deliberately toppled the Shah of Iran, and deliberately installed [Ayatollah] Khomeni in power. This was an integral part of Brzezinski’s ‘arc of crisis’ geopolitical lunacy, another made-in-London artifact which called for the US to support the rise of Khomeni, and his personal brand of fanaticism, a militant heresy within Islam. U.S. arms deliveries were made to Iran during the time of the Shah; during the short-lived Shahpour Bakhtiar government at the end of the Shah’s reign; and continuously after the advent of Khomeni.”60 The Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily reported in their March 2004 edition that, “In 1978 while the West was deciding to remove His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from the throne, [Ayatollah] Shariatmadari was telling anyone who would listen not to allow ‘Ayatollah’ Ruhollah Khomeini and his velayat faghih (Islamic jurist) version of Islam to be allowed to govern Iran. Ayatollah Shariatmadari noted: ‘We mullahs will behave like bickering whores in a brothel if we come to power … and we have no experience on how to run a modern nation so we will destroy Iran and lose all that has been achieved at such great cost and effort’.”61 This was exactly the point of putting them in power, as it would destabilize an industrializing country, and as William Engdahl further pointed out, “Their scheme was based on a detailed study of the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, as presented by British Islamic expert, Dr. Bernard Lewis, then on assignment at Princeton University in the United States. Lewis’ scheme, which was unveiled at the May 1979 Bilderberg meeting in Austria, endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeni, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”62

      Bernard Lewis’ concept was also discussed in a 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the highly influential seasonal journal of international relations put forward by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the pre-eminent policy think tank in the United States, whose leadership and many members also share membership with the Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group. The article stated, “The ‘arc of crisis’ has been defined as an area stretching from the Indian subcontinent in the east to the Horn of Africa in the west. The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus [central point] of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism. Moreover, national, economic and territorial conflicts are aggravated by the intrusion of religious passions in an area which was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and by the exposure, in the twentieth century, to two competing appeals of secular modernization: Western and communist,” and further stated, “Against the background of these basic facts, postwar American policy in the Middle East has focused on three major challenges: security of the area as against Soviet threats to its integrity and independence, fair and peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and safe access to its oil.”63

      In May of 2006, US Vice President Dick Cheney was making some remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Luncheon in honor of Bernard Lewis, the conceptualist behind the ‘arc of crisis’ strategy, at which he stated, “I’m delighted, as always, to see Henry [Kissinger]. He’s a frequent visitor to the White House. He was among those who joined us a couple of weeks ago in hosting a lunch for President Hu Jintao of China. And as Henry mentioned, he and I go back a long ways to the Ford Administration, when he was Secretary of State and I was White House Chief of Staff — the old days, when I had real power. (Laughter.) But Henry and I remain close friends,” and he continued, “Henry and I share an appreciation for history, and I know he would agree, as I do, with a very astute observer who once said that history ‘is the collective memory, the guiding experience of human society, and we still badly need that guidance.’ Those are the words of Dr. Bernard Lewis, a man who first studied the Middle East some 70 years ago.” Then, Cheney went on to say, “I had the pleasure of first meeting Bernard more than 15 years ago, during my time as [George HW Bush’s] Secretary of Defense [...] Since then we have met often, particularly during the last four-and-a-half years, and Bernard has always had some very good meetings with President Bush.”64

      William Engdahl continued in his examination of the 1979 revolution/coup in Iran, of which he said, “The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadeq in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic American, Brzezinski, taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained in the background. During 1978, negotiations were under way between the Shah’s government and British Petroleum for renewal of the 25-year oil extraction agreement. By October 1978, the talks had collapsed over a British ‘offer’ which demanded exclusive rights to Iran’s future oil output, while refusing to guarantee purchase of the oil. With their dependence on British-controlled export apparently at an end, Iran appeared on the verge of independence in its oil sales policy for the first time since 1953, with eager prospective buyers in Germany, France, Japan and elsewhere.”65 The strategy was to have “religious discontent against the Shah [which] could be fanned by trained agitators deployed by British and US intelligence,” and so “As Iran’s domestic economic troubles grew [as a result of the British refusing to buy Iranian oil in a strategy of economic pressure], American ‘security’ advisers to the Shah’s Savak secret police implemented a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah. At the same time, the Carter administration cynically began protesting abuses of ‘human rights’ under the Shah,” and the strategy even entailed using the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), which “gave the Ayatollah Khomeni a full propaganda platform inside Iran during this time. The British government-owned broadcasting organization refused to give the Shah’s government an equal chance to reply.”66 Further, “during the Christmas season of 1979, one Captain Sivash Setoudeh, an Iranian naval officer and the former Iranian military attaché before the breaking of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran [in 1979], was arranging arms deliveries to [Ayatollah] Khomeni out of a premises of the US Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia.”67

      With the successful revolution/coup in Iran in 1979, the Shah was exiled to Egypt, and back in the United States, Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission co-founder and international banker David Rockefeller was approached by Princess Ashraf, the sister of the deposed Shah, who was suffering from cancer, and “she was turning for help to the man who ran one of the leading U.S. banks [Chase Manhattan – now, JP Morgan Chase], one which had made a fortune serving as the Shah’s banker for a quarter century and handling billions of dollars in Iran’s assets. Ashraf’s message was straightforward. She wanted Rockefeller to intercede with Jimmy Carter and ask the President to relent on his decision against granting the Shah refuge in the United States,” and further, “The new Iranian government also wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher.”68 And so, “a public campaign by Rockefeller – along with [Henry] Kissinger and former Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman John McCloy – to find a suitable home in exile for the Shah” was undertaken, and “Rockefeller also pressed the Shah’s case personally with Carter when the opportunity presented itself. On April 9, 1979, at the end of an Oval Office meeting on another topic, Rockefeller handed Carter a one-page memo describing the views of many foreign leaders disturbed by recent U.S. foreign policy actions, including Carter’s treatment of the Shah.” According to a Time Magazine article in 1979, “Kissinger concedes that he then made telephone calls to ‘three senior officials’ and paid two personal visits to [Secretary of State] Vance to argue that a U.S. visa should be granted the Shah. He expressed that view volubly in private conversations with many people, including journalists. He said that the last of his direct pleas was made in July. He and Rockefeller then sought to find asylum elsewhere for the Shah. Rockefeller found a temporary residence in the Bahamas, and Kissinger persuaded the government of Mexico to admit the Shah on a tourist visa.”69 Eventually their efforts were successful, as it was further revealed, “The late Shah had friends at Chase Manhattan Bank and in the highest echelons of trilateral power. David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger played instrumental roles in arranging the Shah’s exile and shaping US policy toward Iran.”70

      The Shah later recounted his experience of the 1979 Revolution, saying “I did not know it then – perhaps I did not want to know – but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted … What was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State [and Bilderberg member] George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? … Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country,” and as Engdahl notes, “the new Khomeni regime had singled out the country’s nuclear power development plans and announced cancellation of the entire program for French and German nuclear reactor construction.”71 Following this, Iran cut off its oil exports to the world, coinciding with Saudi Arabia cutting its oil production drastically and British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts, which resulted in soaring oil prices.

      For those who find this strategy of the British and Americans engineering the Iranian Revolution in 1979 far-fetched and implausible, in as much as on the face of it, it seemed to work against the interests of the United States and Britain, all that is needed is a quick glance at another precedent of this activity, and you need not look further than east of Iran’s border, to Afghanistan, in the very same year, 1979. Under Brzezinski’s “Arc of Crisis” strategy, developed by Bernard Lewis and presented at the 1979 Bilderberg meeting, Afghanistan was a key target in the crosshairs of the Trilateral Administration of Jimmy Carter. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked a poignant question, “The former director of the CIA [and current Secretary of Defense], Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?” to which Brzezinski replied, “Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” The interviewer then posed the question, “Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?” to which Brzezinski very diplomatically responded, “It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”72

      The interviewer, on a continual role of asking very pertinent and important questions, stated, “When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?” which provoked Brzezinski’s response, saying, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked whether or not he regretted supporting Islamic fundamentalism, which fostered the rise of terrorism (including the creation of Al-Qaeda), Brzezinski revealingly responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” Clearly, this was a veiled description of the strategy of “Arc of Crisis” that was imposed during that time, in fact, that very year; where Anglo-American interests (strategic or economic) were threatened, the “Arc of Crisis” was to be introduced, in an organized effort to destabilize the region. In the case of Afghanistan, it was imposed under strategic interests, being Afghanistan’s relevance to and relationship with the Soviet Union; in the case of Iran, it was largely economic interests, such as the end of the British Petroleum contract, and move towards using Iranian oil for the benefit of the Iranians in industrializing the country, that motivated the implementation of the “Arc of Crisis” in that country.

Saddam and Iraq’s New Role in the Anglo-American Alliance

      In 1980, a war broke out between Iraq and Iran, which lasted until 1988. However, there is a lot more to this war, as there is to most conflicts, than is widely understood. Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq when this war broke out, however, it is first necessary to go back several years, when Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in order to better understand the story of the Iran-Iraq War. In 2003, Reuters News Agency reported that, “If the United States succeeds in shepherding the creation of a post-war Iraqi government, a former National Security Council official says, it won’t be the first time that Washington has played a primary role in changing that country’s rulers,” as “Roger Morris, a former State Department foreign service officer who was on the NSC [National Security Council] staff during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, says the CIA had a hand in two coups in Iraq during the darkest days of the Cold War, including a 1968 putsch that set Saddam Hussein firmly on the path to power,” and that, “in 1963, two years after the ill-fated U.S. attempt at overthrow in Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs, the CIA helped organize a bloody coup in Iraq that deposed the Soviet-leaning government of Gen. Abdel-Karim Kassem.”73 Further, “Kassem, who had allowed communists to hold positions of responsibility in his government, was machine-gunned to death. And the country wound up in the hands of the Baath party. At the time, Morris continues, Saddam was a Baath operative studying law in Cairo, one of the venues the CIA chose to plan the coup,” and “In fact, he claims the former Iraqi president castigated by President George W. Bush as one of history’s most ‘brutal dictators’ was actually on the CIA payroll in those days.”

      The article continued, “In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by long-time Saddam mentor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to his ambitious protégé in 1979,” and that, “Morris, who resigned from the NSC staff over the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, says he learned the details of American covert involvement in Iraq from ranking CIA officials of the day, including Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson, Archibald Roosevelt.” It’s also interesting to note that it was Teddy Roosevelt’s other grandson, Kermit Roosevelt, who was pivotal in organizing and orchestrating the 1953 coup in Iran, so it is likely that Morris’ assertions are correct, as Archibald Roosevelt would have a very keen understanding of the highly covert elements of CIA operations.

      However, this is not the only source on this important story, as the Indo-Asian News Service reported in 2003, that “American intelligence operatives used him [Saddam] as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former US intelligence officials and diplomats,” and that, “While many have thought that Saddam Hussein became involved with US intelligence agencies from the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts date back to 1959 when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi prime minister General Abd al-Karim Qasim.”74 The article continued, “In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy [which was put into power by the British]. According to US officials, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For example, in the mid-1950s, Iraq was quick to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan. Little attention was paid to Qasim’s bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959,” and so, “The assassination was set for October 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. One former CIA official said the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and fired too soon, killing Qasim’s driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam Hussein, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. He then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut.” From there, “the CIA paid for Saddam Hussein’s apartment and put him through a brief training course. The agency then helped him get to Cairo. During this time Saddam made frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew him. In February 1963, Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. Morris claimed that the CIA was behind the coup.”

      Newsmax also reported this story, stating that directly after the coup, “the agency quickly moved into action. Noting that the Baath Party was hunting down Iraq’s communists, the CIA provided the submachine gun-toting Iraqi National Guardsmen with lists of suspected communists who were then jailed, interrogated, and summarily gunned down, according to former U.S. intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the executions,” and that, “A former senior CIA official said: ‘It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran’s communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed’.”75 Another report of this came out through Consortium News, which wrote a story about the confessions of a retired CIA official, James Critchfield, who explained that, “In 1959, a young Saddam Hussein, allegedly in cahoots with the CIA, botched an assassination attempt on Iraq’s leader, Gen. Abdel Karim Qassim. Hussein fled Iraq and reportedly hid out under the CIA’s protection and sponsorship,” and “By early 1963, Qassim’s policies were raising new alarms in Washington. He had withdrawn Iraq from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact, made friendly overtures to Moscow, and revoked oil exploration rights granted by a predecessor to a consortium of companies that included American oil interests.”76 It further reported that, “It fell to Critchfield, who was then in an extended tenure in charge of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division, to remove Qassim. Critchfield supported a coup d’etat in February 1963 that was spearheaded by Iraq’s Baathist party. The troublesome Qassim was killed, as were scores of suspected communists who had been identified by the CIA,” and that “The 1963 coup also paved the way for another momentous political development. Five years later, Saddam Hussein emerged as a leader in another Baathist coup. Over the next decade, he bullied his way to power, eventually consolidating a ruthless dictatorship that would lead to three wars in less than a quarter century.”

      So, jump ahead to 1980, when Saddam Hussein was still a US puppet, and when the Iran-Iraq War began. The Iran-Iraq War “followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory.”77 However, Dr. Francis Boyle, an international law professor who also has a PhD in political science from Harvard, and former board member of Amnesty International, wrote an article for Counterpunch in which he stated that, “There were several indications from the public record that the Carter Administration tacitly condoned, if not actively encouraged, the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September of l980,” and that, “Presumably the Iraqi army could render Iranian oil fields inoperable and, unlike American marines, do so without provoking the Soviet Union to exercise its alleged right of counter-intervention.”78 Boyle continued, “The report by columnist Jack Anderson that the Carter Administration was seriously considering an invasion of Iran to seize its oil fields in the Fall of l980 as a last minute fillip to bolster his prospects for reelection was credible.” In 1981, Carter lost his re-election to Ronald Reagan, and “At the outset of the Reagan Administration, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and his mentor, Henry Kissinger, devoted a good deal of time to publicly lamenting the dire need for a ‘geopolitical’ approach to American foreign policy decision-making, one premised on a ‘grand theory’ or ‘strategic design’ of international relations,” and Boyle continued, “Consequently, Haig quite myopically viewed the myriad of problems in the Persian Gulf, Middle East, and Southwest Asia primarily within the context of a supposed struggle for control over the entire world between the United States and the Soviet Union. Haig erroneously concluded that this global confrontation required the United States to forge a ‘strategic consensus’ with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Sheikhdoms and Pakistan in order to resist anticipated Soviet aggression in the region.”

      As the National Security Archive reported, “Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months. By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks. The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism,” and that “Prolonging the war was phenomenally expensive. Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.”79 The Archive, which draws all their information from declassified government documents which they have available for all to see on their site, further stated, “The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country’s [America’s] official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan,” and it continued, “By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints.”

      The Archive further explained that, “The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran’s accusations, and describing Iraq’s “almost daily” use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war,” and that “The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against ‘Kurdish insurgents’ as well”. The Archives further reveal that, “Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford’s defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish ‘direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein,’ while emphasizing ‘his close relationship’ with the president. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.’s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq’s oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran’s ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting.” This was the incident in which the now-infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld (who was George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense until 2007) shaking hands with Saddam Hussein was taken.

      It was further reported that, “The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group,” and that “This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. ‘When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind,’ the former official told UPI.”80 The article continued, “A former CIA official said that Saddam had assigned a top team of three senior officers from the Estikhbarat, Iraq’s military intelligence, to meet with the Americans,” and that “the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam’s ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days.”

      On top of all this, the London Independent reported in 2002 that, “Iraq’s 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that supported Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program,” and it continued, “British officials said the list of companies appeared to be accurate. Eighty German firms and 24 US companies are reported to have supplied Iraq with equipment and know-how for its weapons programs from 1975 onwards.”81 The article further stated that, “From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how for Saddam Hussein’s program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction,” which would have included the weapons used against the Iranians and Kurds in the north of Iraq, which constituted war crimes.

Iran Contra: The Double Standard Status Quo

      Also during the Iran-Iraq War, “On November 25, 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Watergate exploded in Washington when President Ronald Reagan told a packed White House news conference that funds derived from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been diverted to buy weapons for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua,” and that “In the weeks leading up to this shocking admission, news reports had exposed the U.S. role in both the Iran deals and the secret support for the Contras, but Reagan’s announcement, in which he named two subordinates — National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter and NSC [National Security Council] staffer Oliver L. North — as the responsible parties, was the first to link the two operations.”82 As the National Security Archive reported, “Of all the revelations that emerged, the most galling for the American public was the president’s abandonment of the long-standing policy against dealing with terrorists, which Reagan repeatedly denied doing in spite of overwhelming evidence that made it appear he was simply lying to cover up the story,” and further, “Iran-Contra was a battle over presidential power dating back directly to the Richard Nixon era of Watergate, Vietnam and CIA dirty tricks. That clash continues under the presidency of George W. Bush, which has come under frequent fire for the controversial efforts of the president, as well as Vice President Richard Cheney, to expand Executive Branch authority over numerous areas of public life.”

      As Webster Tarpley wrote in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, of which the chapter covering the Iran-Contra Affair relies primarily upon exposing George Bush’s intimate relationship with and involvement in the Affair, that Iran-Contra involved, “the secret arming of the Khomeni regime in Iran by the U.S. government, during an official U.S.-decreed arms embargo against Iran, while the U.S. publicly denounced the recipients of its secret deliveries as terrorists and kidnappers – a policy initiated under the Jimmy Carter presidency and accelerated by the Reagan-Bush administration,” in which George H.W. Bush was Vice President.83 As Tarpley put it, “many once-classified documents have come to light, which suggest that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects of the Iran-Contra adventures,”84 and that, “With the encouragement of Bush, and the absence of opponents to the scheme, President Reagan signed the authorization to arm the Khomeni regime with missiles, and keep the facts of this scheme from congressional oversight committees,” and further, an official report on the situation stated, “The proposal to shift to direct U.S. arms sales to Iran . . . was considered by the president at a meeting on January 17 which only the Vice President [Bush], Mr. Regan, Mr. Fortier, and VADM Poindexter attend. Thereafter, the only senior-level review the Iran initiative received was during one or another of the President’s daily national security briefings. These were routinely attended only by the President, the Vice President, Mr. Regan, and VADM Poindexter.”85

      Now, I will again briefly recount the information I provided regarding the Carter administration having a hand in the coup / Revolution in Iran in 1979, which installed the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeni, as I feel it is a very important point to address, largely because it is a very uncommon understanding of that event in history, as it is predominantly seen in historical context as being against the interests of the United States, and as being a disastrous situation for the US; seen as a radical Islamic revolt against America and all it ‘stands’ for. However, taking into consideration of all the other information provided thus far, it does not appear to be a very ‘radical’ or implausible understanding of that event, as similar support for and creation of radical Islamist movements is well documented, such as that which took place the same year as the revolution/coup in Afghanistan, under the same strategy of “Arc of Crisis”, and now, also taking into consideration the facts of the Iran-Contra Affair, which was one of the largest constitutional scandals in United States history and received great public attention.

      This scandal, however, was largely covered up in the official investigation done by Congress, and the facts of George Bush’s involvement, was not widely known by any means, which is no surprise considering the fact that one prominent Congressman who was investigating the Iran-Contra Affair was a man by the name of Dick Cheney, the current Vice President, who, while sitting on the investigative committee, did not apply blame to the Executive branch [President’s administration] of government for its violation of the Constitution, but instead saw fit to blame Congress for “unjustly” investigating and questioning Presidential authority.86 Most of the evidence of this important event was revealed over the years since it occurred, however, the blame was all placed on two individuals, the “fall guys”, John Poindexter and Oliver North.

      Oliver North now has his own show on Fox News,87 and Poindexter briefly worked in the George W. Bush administration, as Director of the Information Awareness Office, a large surveillance and tracking and “Big Brother” program, of which the New Yorker described as, “weird”, saying, “The Information Awareness Office’s official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is ‘Scientia Est Potentia,’ which doesn’t mean ‘science has a lot of potential.’ It means ‘knowledge is power.’ And its official mission is to ‘imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness’,” and further, “the Office’s main assignment is, basically, to turn everything in cyberspace about everybody—tax records, driver’s-license applications, travel records, bank records, raw F.B.I. files, telephone records, credit-card records, shopping-mall security-camera videotapes, medical records, every e-mail anybody ever sent—into a single, humongous, multi-googolplexibyte database that electronic robots will mine for patterns of information suggestive of terrorist activity”88… my God.

      The Iran-Contra Affair entailed illegally sending arms to the Khomeni government in Iran, America’s “supposed” enemy, and using that money to fund Contras, also known as terrorist organizations, in Nicaragua, which were responsible for killing many innocent civilians and orchestrating terror attacks. Incidentally, the arms were being sold to Iran at the same time that the same organization, the CIA, was providing intelligence and directions (not to mention weapons) to Iraq in its war against Iran. So, in effect, the United States, through its covert military/intelligence operations, was arming both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. Again, sounds a lot like the “Arc of Crisis” strategy. And just the very fact that they were arming the Khomeni regime warrants a closer look at the events surrounding Khomeni’s rise to power.

      As an aside, it is also very interesting to note some other individuals who were implicated in Iran-Contra (although not publicly), but since the event documentation has come about which suggests larger roles for a variety of people, including Robert Gates, who is currently the new Secretary of Defense (after Rumsfeld left), a former director of the CIA in the George H.W. Bush administration and the person who, in his memoirs, discussed the fact that the CIA helped instigate the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Other prominent names to note are Elliott Abrams, who was President Reagan’s senior State Department official for Latin America in the mid-1980s, at the height of Iran-Contra, and was later indicted for providing false testimony, and accepted his guilt, however, when Bush Sr. was President, Abrams was pardoned, and today, serves as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in the Bush Jr. administration. David Addington worked close with Cheney on the Congressional investigation as a staffer, and currently is Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney. Others, with some affiliation to Iran-Contra were Michael Ledeen, who is currently a prominent neoconservative with close ties to the Bush administration and a strong advocate of regime change in Iran, John Bolton, who was more recently George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations,also a strong advocate of war with Iran, Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, who more recently was used as an important source for the Pentagon on Iranian affairs, John Negroponte, who was in past years Bush’s Ambassador to Iraq, and was Director of National Intelligence, the head intelligence position in the United States, and is currently Deputy Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice, and Otto Reich, who briefly served as Bush Jr’s assistant secretary of state for Latin America.89

Notes

1 Engdahl, William. “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order”.

Pluto Press: 2004, Pages 2-3.
2 Ibid. Page 4.
3 Ibid. Pages 5-6.
4 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Revolt%20in%20Bosnia
5 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
6 Brzezinski, Zbigniew. “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic  Imperatives”.

Basic Books: 1997, Page xiii.
7 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Constantinople Conference”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Constantinople%20Conference
8 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 11.
9 Black, Edwin. “Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit,  and Conflict”.

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: 2004, Page 107.
10 Ibid. Page 114.
11 Ibid. Pages 115-116.
12 Ibid. Page 126
13 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 22.
14 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 118.
15 Laffan, R.D.G. “The Serbs: The Guardians of the Gate”.

Dorset Press: 1989, Pages 163-64
16 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 24.
17 Ibid. Page 16
18 Ibid. Page 24
19 Ibid. Pages 29-30
20 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 204-205.
21 Ibid. Page 196
22 Ibid. Pages 196-197.
23 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 40-41.
24 Ibid. Page 58.
25 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 223.
26 Ibid. Page 245
27 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 59-60.
28 Shirer, William L. “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany”

Fawcett Crest: 1992, Page 994.
29 Black, Edwin, op cit., Pages 307-308.
30 Ibid. Page 314
31 Ibid. Page 319
32 Porch, Douglas. “The Other ‘Gulf War’ – The British Invasion of Iraq in 1941”.

Center for Contemporary Conflict: December 2, 2002.

http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/rsepResources/si/dec02/middleEast.asp
33 Palast, Greg. “Armed Madhouse”.

Penguin Group: 2006, Page 79.
34 BBC. “Fact File: Persia Invaded”.

WW2 People’s War: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a1130121.shtml?sectionId=3&articleId=1130121
35 Samii, Bill. “World War II — 60 Years After: The Anglo-Soviet Invasion Of Iran And  Washington-Tehran Relations”.

Payvand’s Iran News: May 7, 2005.

http://www.payvand.com/news/05/may/1047.html
36 Luce, Dan De. “The spectre of Operation Ajax”.

The Guardian: August 20, 2003.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1022065,00.html
37 Gasiorowski, Mark J., and Malcolm Byrne. “Mohammad Mosaddeq and  the 1953 Coup in Iran”.

The National Security Archive: June 22, 2004.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm
38 Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The C.I.A in Iran.”

The New York Times: 2000.

http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html
39 Goodman, Amy. “50 Years After the CIA’s First Overthrow of a Democratically  Elected Foreign Government We Take a Look at the 1953 US Backed Coup in  Iran”.

Democracy Now!: August 25th, 2003

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/08/25/1534210
40 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 96.
41 Ibid. Page 97
42 Library of Congress Country Studies: “Iran: SAVAK”. December, 1987:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ir0187
43 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 135-136.
44 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons. “The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western  Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People”.

St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994, Page 309.
45 Ibid. Page 310.
46 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 136.
47 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons, op cit., Pages 310-311.
48 Reuters. “Book says Kissinger delayed telling Nixon about Yom Kippur War”

Haaretz: April 5, 2007.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/845041.html
49 Ibid. Pages 136-137
50 Ibid. Pages 286-287
51 Ibid. Page 137
52 Ibid. Page 138
53 Sklar, Holly. “Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World  Management.”

South End Press: 1980, Pages 1-2.
54 Ibid. Page 30.
55 Ibid. Pages 99-109.
56 Ibid. Page 202
57 Ibid. Pages 91-92
58 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 169-170.
59 Ibid. Page 171
60 Tarpley, Webster G. “George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography”.

Executive Intelligence Review: 1992, Page 353.
61 Peters, Alan. “Role of US Former Pres. Carter Emerging in Illegal Financial Demands  on Shah of Iran”.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily: Volume XXII, No. 46 Monday, March 15, 2004

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1516436/posts
62 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
63 Lenczowski, George. “The Arc of Crisis: Its Central Sector”.

Foreign Affairs: Spring, 1979

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19790301faessay9917/george-lenczowski/the-arc-of-crisis-its-central-sector.html
64 Cheney, Dick. “Vice President’s Remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia  Luncheon Honoring Professor Bernard Lewis”.

White House: May 1, 2006.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/20060501-3.html
65 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
66 Ibid. Page 172
67 Tarpley, Webster G, op cit., Page 354.
68 Parry, Robert. “David Rockefeller & October Surprise Case”.

Consortium News: April 15, 2005

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2005/041505.html
69 Time. “Who Helped the Shah How Much?”

Time Magazine: December 10, 1979

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912546-2,00.html
70 Sklar, Holly, op cit., Page 569.
71 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 172-173.
72 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
73 Morgan, David. “Ex-U.S. official says CIA aided Baathists”.

Reuters News Agency: April 20, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/ex_us_officials_says_cia_aided_baathists.html
74 IANS. “Flash Back: How the CIA found and groomed Saddam”.

Indo-Asian news Service: April 16, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/how_the_cia_found_and_groomed_saddam.html
75 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
76 Meldon, Jerry. “A CIA Officer’s Calamitous Choices.”

Consortium News: May 15, 2003

http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/051503a.html
77 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
78 Boyle, Francis A. “US Policy Toward the Iran/Iraq War”.

Counter Punch: December 14, 2002.

http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle1214.html
79 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
80 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
81 Paterson, Tony. “Leaked Report Says German and US Firms Supplied Arms to  Saddam”.

The Independent: December 18, 2002.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1218-06.htm
82 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
83 Tarpley, Webster G., op cit., Page 385.
84 Ibid. Page 386
85 Ibid. Pages 408-409
86 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
87 FoxNews. “War Stories With Oliver North”.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50566,00.html
88 Hertzberg, Hendrik. “Too Much Information.”

The New Yorker: December 9, 2002.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/12/09/021209ta_talk_hertzberg
89 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm

Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia

September 25, 2007

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia

Global Research, September 23, 2007

“But if the middle space [Russia and the former Soviet Union] rebuffs the West [the European Union and America], becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South [Middle East] or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor [China], then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite. Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners [the Franco-German entente] from its perch on the western periphery [Europe] would automatically spell the end of America’s participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space [e.g. Russia].”

-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)

 

Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” These precepts of physics can also be used in the social sciences, specifically with reference to social relations and geo-politics.

America and Britain, the Anglo-American alliance, have engaged in an ambitious project to control global energy resources. Their actions have resulted in a series of complicated reactions, which have established a Eurasian-based coalition which is preparing to challenge the Anglo-American axis.

 

Encircling Russia and China: Anglo-American Global Ambitions Backfire

 

“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

 

-Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany (February 11, 2007)

 

What American leaders and officials called the “New World Order” is what the Chinese and Russians consider a “Unipolar World.” This is the vision or hallucination, depending on perspective, that has bridged the Sino-Russian divide between Beijing and Moscow.

China and Russia are well aware of the fact that they are targets of the Anglo-American alliance. Their mutual fears of encirclement have brought them together. It is no accident that in the same year that NATO bombarded Yugoslavia, President Jiang Zemin of China and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia made an anticipated joint declaration at a historic summit in December of 1999 that revealed that China and the Russian Federation would join hands to resist the “New World Order.” The seeds for this Sino-Russian declaration were in fact laid in 1996 when both sides declared that they opposed the global imposition of single-state hegemony.

 

Both Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin stated that all nation-states should be treated equally, enjoy security, respect each other’s sovereignty, and most importantly not interfere in the internal affairs of other nation-states. These statements were directed at the U.S. government and its partners.

The Chinese and Russians also called for the establishment of a more equitable economic and political global order. Both nations also indicated that America was behind separatist movements in their respective countries. They also underscored American-led amibitions to balkanize and finlandize the nation-states of Eurasia. Influential Americans such as Zbigniew Brzezinski had already advocated for de-centralizing and eventually dividing up the Russian Federation.

 

Both the Chinese and Russians issued a statement warning that the creation of an international missile shield and the contravention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) would destabilize the international environment and polarize the globe. In 1999, the Chinese and Russians were aware of what was to come and the direction that America was headed towards. In June 2002, less than a year before the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror,” George W. Bush Jr. announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.

On July 24, 2001, less than two months before September 11, 2001, China and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. The latter is a softly worded mutual defence pact against the U.S., NATO, and the U.S. sponsored Asian military network which was surrounding China. [1]

The military pact of the Shanghai Treaty Organization (SCO) also follows the same softly worded format. It is also worth noting that Article 12 of the 2001 Sino-Russian bilateral treaty stipulates that China and Russia will work together to maintain the global strategic balance, “observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability,” and “promote the process of nuclear disarmament.” [2] This seems to be an insinuation about a nuclear threat posed from the United States.

 

Standing in the Way of America and Britain: A “Chinese-Russian-Iranian Coalition”

 

As a result of the Anglo-American drive to encircle and ultimately dismantle China and Russia, Moscow and Beijing have joined ranks and the SCO has slowly evolved and emerged in the heart of Eurasia as a powerful international body.

The main objectives of the SCO are defensive in nature. The economic objectives of the SCO are to integrate and unite Eurasian economies against the economic and financial onslaught and manipulation from the “Trilateral” of North America, Western Europe, and Japan, which controls significant portions of the global economy.

The SCO charter was also created, using Western national security jargon, to combat “terrorism, separatism, and extremism.” Terrorist activities, separatist movements, and extremist movements in Russia, China, and Central Asia are all forces traditionally nurtured, funded, armed, and covertly supported by the British and the U.S. governments. Several separatist and extremist groups that have destabilized SCO members even have offices in London.

 

Iran, India, Pakistan, and Mongolia are all SCO observer members. The observer status of Iran in the SCO is misleading. Iran is a de facto member. The observer status is intended to hide the nature of trilateral cooperation between Iran, Russia, and China so that the SCO cannot be labeled and demonized as an anti-American or anti-Western military grouping.

 

The stated interests of China and Russia are to ensure the continuity of a “Multi-Polar World.” Zbigniew Brzezinski prefigured in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives and warned against the creation or “emergence of a hostile [Eurasian-based] coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” [3] He also called this potential Eurasian coalition an “‘antihegemonic’ alliance” that would be formed from a “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” with China as its linchpin. [4] This is the SCO and several Eurasian groups that are connected to the SCO.

 

In 1993, Brzezinski wrote “In assessing China’s future options, one has to consider also the possibility that an economically successful and politically self-confident China — but one which feels excluded from the global system and which decides to become both the advocate and the leader of the deprived states of the world — may decide to pose not only an articulate doctrinal but also a powerful geopolitical challenge to the dominant trilateral world [a reference to the economic front formed by North America, Western Europe, and Japan].” [5]

Brzezinski warns that Beijing’s answer to challenging the global status quo would be the creation of a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition: “For Chinese strategists, confronting the trilateral coalition of America and Europe and Japan, the most effective geopolitical counter might well be to try and fashion a triple alliance of its own, linking China with Iran in the Persian Gulf/Middle East region and with Russia in the area of the former Soviet Union [and Eastern Europe].” [6] Brzezinski goes on to say that the Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition, which he moreover calls an “antiestablishmentarian [anti-establishmentarian] coalition,” could be a potent magnet for other states [e.g., Venezuela] dissatisfied with the [global] status quo.” [7]

 

Furthermore, Brzezinski warned in 1997 that “The most immediate task [for the U.S.] is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.” [8] It may be that his warnings were forgotten, because the U.S. has been repealed from Central Asia and U.S. forces have been evicted from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

 

“Velvet Revolutions” Backfire in Central Asia

 

Central Asia was the scene of several British-sponsored and American-sponsored attempts at regime change. The latter were characterised by velvet revolutions similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia.

These velvet revolutions financed by the U.S. failed in Central Asia, aside from Kyrgyzstan where there had been partial success with the so-called Tulip Revolution.

As a result the U.S. government has suffered major geo-strategic setbacks in Central Asia. All of Central Asia’s leaders have distanced themselves from America.

Russia and Iran have also secured energy deals in the region. America’s efforts, over several decades, to exert a hegemonic role in Central Asia seem to have been reversed overnight. The U.S. sponsored velvet revolutions have backfired. Relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S. were especially hard hit.

 

Uzbekistan is under the authoritarian rule of President Islam Karamov. Starting in the second half of the 1990s President Karamov was enticed into bringing Uzbekistan into the fold of the Anglo-American alliance and NATO. When there was an attempt on President Karamov’s life, he suspected the Kremlin because of his independent policy stance. This is what led Uzbekistan to leave CSTO. But Islam Karamov, years later, changed his mind as to who was attempting to get rid of him.

 

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Uzbekistan represented a major obstacle to any renewed Russian control of Central Asia and was virtually invulnerable to Russian pressure; this is why it was important to secure Uzbekistan as an American protectorate in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan also has the largest military force in Central Asia.  In 1998, Uzbekistan held war games with NATO troops in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan was becoming heavily militarized in the same manner as Georgia was in the Caucasus. The U.S. gave Uzbekistan huge amounts of financial aid to challenge the Kremlin in Central Asia and also provided training to Uzbek forces.

 

With the launching of the “Global War on Terror,” in 2001, Uzbekistan, an Anglo-American ally, immediately offered bases and military facilities to the U.S. in Karshi-Khanabad.

The leadership of Uzbekistan already knew the direction the “Global War on Terror” would take. To the irritation of the Bush Jr. Administration, the Uzbek President formulated a policy of self-reliance. The honeymoon between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance ended when Washington D.C. and London contemplated removing Islam Karamov from power. He was a little too independent for their comfort and taste. Their attempts at removing the Uzbek President failed, leading eventually to a shift in geo-political alliances.  

 

The tragic events of Andijan on May 13, 2005 were the breaking point between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance. The people of Andijan were incited into confronting the Uzbek authorities, which resulted in a heavy security clampdown on the protesters and a loss of lives.

Armed groups were reported to have been involved. In the U.S., Britain, and the E.U., the media reports focused narrowly on human rights violations without mentioning the covert role of the Anglo-American alliance. Uzbekistan held Britain and the U.S. responsible accusing them of inciting rebellion. 

 

M. K. Bhadrakumar, the former Indian ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998), revealed that the Hezbut Tahrir (HT) was one of the parties blamed for stirring the crowd in Andijan by the Uzbek government. [9] The group was already destabilizing Uzbekistan and using violent tactics. The headquarters of this group happens to be in London and they enjoy the support of the British government. London is a hub for many similar organizations that further Anglo-American interests in various countries, including Iran and Sudan, through destabilization campaigns. Uzbekistan even started clamping down on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because of the tragic events of Andijan.

The Anglo-American alliance had played its cards wrong in Central Asia. Uzbekistan officially left the GUUAM Group, a NATO-U.S. sponsored anti-Russian body. GUUAM once again became the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava) Group on May 24, 2005.

On July 29, 2005 the U.S. military was ordered to leave Uzbekistan within a six-month period. [10] Literally, the Americans were told they were no longer welcome in Uzbekistan and Central Asia.

Russia, China, and the SCO added their voices to the demands. The U.S. cleared its airbase in Uzbekistan by November, 2005.

Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO alliance on June 26, 2006 and realigned itself, once again, with Moscow. The Uzbek President also became a vocal advocate, along with Iran, for pushing the U.S. totally out of Central Asia. [11] Unlike Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan continued to allow the U.S. to use Manas Air Base, but with restrictions and in an uncertain atmosphere. The Kyrgyz government also would make it clear that no U.S. operations could target Iran from Kyrgyzstan.

 

Major Geo-Strategic Error 

It appears that a strategic rapprochement between Iran and America was in the works from 2001 to 2002. At the outset of the global war on terrorism, Hezbollah and Hamas, two Arab organizations supported by Iran and Syria, were kept off the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Iran and Syria were also loosely portrayed as potential partners in the “Global War on Terror.”

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iran expressed its support for the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi government. During the invasion of Iraq, the American military even attacked the Iraqi-based Iranian opposition militia, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK/MOK/MKO). Iranian jets also attacked the Iraqi bases of the MEK in approximately the same window of time.

Iran, Britain, and the U.S. also worked together against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that the Taliban were never allies of Iran. Up until 2000, the Taliban had been supported by the U.S. and Britain, working hand in glove with the Pakistani military and intelligence.

The Taliban were shocked and bewildered at what they saw as an American and British betrayal in 2001 — this is in light of the fact that in October, 2001 they had stated that they would hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S. upon the presentation of evidence of his alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

Zbigniew Brzezinski warned years before 2001 that “a coalition allying Russia with both China and Iran can develop only if the United States is shortsighted enough to antagonize China and Iran simultaneously.” [12] The arrogance of the Bush Jr. Administration has resulted in this shortsighted policy.

According to The Washington Post, “Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago [in 2003], an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.” [13]

The White House impressed by what they believe were “grand victories” in Iraq and Afghanistan merely ignored the letter sent through diplomatic channels by the Swiss government on behalf of Tehran.

However, it was not because of what was wrongly perceived as a quick victory in Iraq that the Bush Jr. Administration pushed Iran aside. On January 29, 2002, in a major address, President Bush Jr. confirmed that the U.S. would also target Iran, which had been added to the so-called “Axis of Evil” together with Iraq and North Korea. The U.S. and Britain intended to attack Iran, Syria, and Lebanon after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact immediately following the invasion, in July 2003, the Pentagon formulated an initial war scenario entitled “Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT).”

Starting in 2002, the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from their original geo-strategic script. France and Germany were also excluded from sharing the spoils of war in Iraq.

The intention was to act against Iran and Syria just as America and Britain had used and betrayed their Taliban allies in Afghanistan. The U.S. was also set on targeting Hezbollah and Hamas. In January of 2001, according to Daniel Sobelman, a correspondent for Haaretz, the U.S. government warned Lebanon that the U.S. would go after Hezbollah. These threats directed at Lebanon were made at the start of the presidential term of George W. Bush Jr., eight months before the events of September 11, 2001.


The conflict at the United Nations Security Council between the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente, supported by Russia and China, was a pictogram of this deviation.

American geo-strategists for years after the Cold War had scheduled the Franco-German entente to be partners in their plans for global primacy. In this regard, Zbigniew Brzezinski had acknowledged that the Franco-German entente would eventually have to be elevated in status and that the spoils of war would have to be divided with Washington’s European allies.

By the end of 2004, the Anglo-American alliance had started to correct its posture towards France and Germany. Washington had returned to its original geo-strategic script with NATO playing an expanded role in the Eastern Mediterranean. In turn, France was granted  oil concessions in Iraq.

The 2006 war plans for Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean also point to a major shift in direction, a partnership role for the Franco-German entente, with France and Germany playing a major military role in the region.   

 
It is worth noting that a major shift occurred in early 2007 with regard to Iran. Following U.S. setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as in Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, and former Soviet Central Asia),  the White House entered into secret negotiatiations with Iran and Syria. However, the dye has been cast and it would appear that America will be unable to break an evolving military alliance which includes Russia, Iran, and China as its nucleus.

 

The Baker-Hamilton Commission: Covert Anglo-American Cooperation with Iran and Syria?

 

“America should also strongly support Turkish aspirations to have a pipeline from Baku in [the Republic of] Azerbaijan to Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean cost serve as [a] major outlet for the Caspian Sea basin energy sources. In addition, it is not in America’s interest to perpetuate American-Iranian hostility. Any eventual reconciliation should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran [e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan]. Admittedly, any such reconciliation must be pursued by both sides and is not a favor granted by one to the other. A strong, even religiously motivated but not fanatically anti-Western Iran is in the U.S. interest, and ultimately even the Iranian political elite may recognize that reality. In the meantime, American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines…”

 

-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)

 

The recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission or the Iraq Study Group (ISG) are not a redirection in regards to engaging Iran, but a return to the track that the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from as a result of the delusions of its hasty victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In other words, the Baker-Hamilton Commission was about damage control and re-steering America to the geo-strategic path originally intended by military planners that the Bush Jr. Administration seems to have deviated from.

The ISG Report also subtly indicated that adoption of so-called “free market” economic reforms be pressed on Iran (and by extension Syria) instead of regime change. The ISG also favoured the accession of both Syria and Iran to the World Trade Organization (WTO). [14] It should also be noted, in this regard, that Iran has already started a mass privatization program that involves all sectors from banking to energy and agriculture.

The ISG Report also recommends an end to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the establishment of peace between Israel and Syria. [15]

The joint interests of Iran and the U.S. were also analysed by the Baker-Hamilton Commission. The ISG recommended  that the U.S. should not empower the Taliban again in Afghanistan (against Iran). [16] It should also be noted that Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., the Syrian Foreign Minister, and Javad Zarif, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, were all consulted by the Baker-Hamilton Commission. [17] The Iranian Ambassodor to the U.N., Javad Zarif, has also been a middle man between the U.S. and Iranian governments for years. 

 

It is worth mentioning that the Clinton Administration was involved in the track of rapprochement with Iran, while also attempting to keep Iran in check under the “dual-containment” policy directed against Iraq and Iran. This policy was also linked to the 1992 Draft Defence Guidance paper written by people within the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Administrations.

It is worth noting that Zbigniew Brzezinski had stated as far back as 1979 and again in 1997 that Iran under its post-revolutionary political system could be co-opted by America. [18] Britain also ensured Syria and Iran in 2002 and 2003 that they would not be targeted and encouraged their cooperation with the White House.

It should be noted that Turkey has recently signed a pipeline deal with Iran that will take gas to Western Europe. This project includes the participation of Turkmenistan. [19] It would appear that this cooperation agreement between Tehran and Ankara points to reconciliation rather than confrontation with Iran and Syria. This is in line with what Brzezinski in 1997 claimed was in America’s interest.

Also, the Anglo-American sponsored Iraqi government has recently signed pipeline deals with Iran.

Once again, America’s interests in this deal should be questioned, as should the high opinions being given about Iran by the puppet leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Something’s Amiss…

The media attention given in North America and Britain to the positive comments made about Tehran by Anglo-American clients in Baghdad and Kabul is sinister.

Although these comments from Baghdad and Kabul about the positive role Iran plays in Iraq and Afghanistan are not new, the media attention is. President George W. Bush Jr. and the White House criticized the Iraqi Prime Minister for saying Iran plays a constructive role in Iraq in early-August of 2007. The White House and North American or British press would usually just ignore or refuse to acknowledge these comments. However, this was not the case in August, 2007.

The Afghani President, Hamid Karzai, during a joint press conference with George W.  Bush Jr. stated that Iran was a positive force in his country. It is not odd to hear that Iran is a positive force inside Afghanistan because the stability of Afghanistan is in Iran’s best interests. What comes across as odd are “when” and “where” the comments were made. White House press conferences are choreographed and the place and time of the Afghani President’s comments should be questioned. It also so happens that shortly after the Afghani President’s comments, the Iranian President arrived in Kabul in an unprecedented visit that must have been approved by the White House.

Iran’s Political Leverage

In regards to Iran and the U.S., the picture is blurry and the lines between cooperation and rivalry are less clear. Reuters and the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) have both reported that the Iranian President may visit Baghdad after August 2007. These reports surfaced just before the U.S. government started threatening to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a special international terrorist organization. Without insinuating anything, it should also be noted that the Revolutionary Guard and the U.S. military have also had a low-key history of cooperation from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The Iranian President has also invited the presidents of the other four Caspian states for a Caspian Sea summit in Tehran. [20] He invited the Turkmen president while in Turkmenistan and later the Russian and Kazakh presidents at the August of 2007 SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan. President Aliyev, the leader of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azarbaijan) was also personally invited during a trip by the Iranian President to Baku. The anticipated Caspian Sea summit may be similar to the one in Port Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan between the Kazakh, Russian, and Turkmen presidents where it was announced that Russia would not be cut out of the pipeline deals in Central Asia.

Iranian leverage is clearly getting stronger. Officials in Baku also stated that they will expand energy cooperation with Iran and enter the gas pipeline deal between Iran, Turkey, and Turkmenistan that will supply European markets with gas. [21] This agreement to supply Europe is similar to a Russian energy transport deal signed between Greece, Bulgaria, and the Russian Federation. [22]

In the Levant, Syria is involved in energy-related negotiations with Ankara and Baku and important talks have started between American officials and both Tehran and Damascus. [23]

Iran has also been involved in diplomatic exchanges with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Additionally, starting in August 2007, Syria has agreed to reopen Iraqi oil pipelines to the Eastern Mediterranean, through Syrian territory. [24] The recent official visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki to Syria has also been described as historical by news sources like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Also, Syria and Iraq have agreed to build a gas pipeline from Iraq into Syria, where Iraqi gas will be treated in Syrian plants. [25] These agreements are being passed as the sources of tensions between Baghdad and the White House, but they are doubtful. [26]

Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are also planning on starting the process for creating an Iranian-GCC free trade zone in the Persian Gulf. In the bazaars of Tehran and amongst the political circle of Rafsanjani there are also discussion about the eventual creation of a single market between Iran, Tajikistan, Armenia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The American role in these processes in regards to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the GCC should be explored.

Under President Nicholas Sarkozy, France has indicated that it is willing to engage the Syrians fully if they gave specific guarantees in regards to Lebanon. These guarantees are linked to French economic and geo-strategic interests.

In the same period of time as the French statements about Syria, Gordon Brown indicated that Britain was also willing to engage in diplomatic exchanges with both Syria and Iran. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, has also been involved in talks with Damascus on mutual projects, economic reform and bringing Syria closer to the European Union. These talks, however  tend to be camouflaged by the discussion between Syria and Germany in regard to the mass exodus of Iraqi refugees, resulting from the Anglo-American occupation of their country. The French Foreign Minister is also expected in Tehran to talk about Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Despite the war-mongering by the U.S. and more recently by France, this has all led to speculation of a potential about-turn in regards to Iran and Syria. [27]

Then again, this is part of the two-pronged U.S. approach of preparing for the worst (war), while suing for the diplomatic capitulation of Syria and Iran as client states or partners. When large oil and weapons deals were signed between Libya and Britain, London said that Iran should follow the Libyan example, as has the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

Has the March to War been Interrupted?

Despite talks behind closed doors with Damascus and Tehran, Washington is nonetheless arming its clients in the Middle East. Israel is in an advanced state of military preparedness for a war on Syria.

Unlike France and Germany, Anglo-American ambitions pertaining to Iran and Syria are not one of cooperation. The ultimate objective is political and economic subordination.

Moreover, either as a friend or foe, America cannot tolerate Iran within its present borders. The balkanization of Iran, like that of Iraq and Russia, is a major long-term Anglo-American goal.

What lies ahead is never known. While there is smoke in the horizon, the U.S.-NATO-Israeli military agenda will not necessarily result in the implementation of war as planned.

A “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” — which forms the basis of a global counter-alliance — is emerging. America and Britain rather than opting for outright war, may choose to reel in Iran and Syria through macro-economic manipulation and velvet revolutions.

War directed against Iran and Syria, however, cannot be ruled out. There are real war preparations on the ground in the Middle East and Central Asia. A war against Iran and Syria would have far-reaching worldwide implications.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specialising on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).



NOTES

 

[1] Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, signed and entered into force July 16, 2001, P.R. of China-Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjdt/2649/t15771.htm

 

The following are treaty articles that are relevant to the mutual defence of China and Russia against American-led encirclement and efforts to dismantle both nations;

 

ARTICLE 4

 

The Chinese side supports the Russian side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

The Russian side supports the Chinese side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China.

 

ARTICLE 5

 

The Russian side reaffirms that the principled stand on the Taiwan issue as expounded in the political documents signed and adopted by the heads of states of the two countries from 1992 to 2000 remain unchanged. The Russian side acknowledges that there is only one China in the world, that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The Russian side opposes any form of Taiwan’s independence.

 

ARTICLE 8


The contracting parties shall not enter into any alliance or be a party to any bloc nor shall they embark on any such action, including the conclusion of such treaty with a third country which compromises the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party. Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow its territory to be used by a third country to jeopardize the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party.

Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow the setting up of organizations or gangs on its own soil which shall impair the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contrasting party and their activities should be prohibited.

 

ARTICLE 9

 

When a situation arises in which one of the contracting parties deems that peace is being threatened and undermined or its security interests are involved or when it is confronted with the threat of aggression, the contracting parties shall immediately hold contacts and consultations in order to eliminate such threats.

 

ARTILCE 12

 

The contracting parties shall work together for the maintenance of global strategic balance and stability and make great efforts in promoting the observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability.

The contracting parties shall actively promote the process of nuclear disarmament and the reduction of chemical weapons, promote and strengthen the regimes on the prohibition of biological weapons and take measures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and their related technology.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (NYC, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.198.

 

[4] Ibid., pp. 115-116, 170, 205-206.

 

Note: Brzezinski also refers to a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition as a “counteralliance” (p.116).

 

[5] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century (NYC, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993), p.198.

 

[6] Ibid.

 

[7] Ibid.

 

[8] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.198.

 

[9] M. K. Bhadrakumar, The lessons from Ferghana, Asia Times, May 18, 2005.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/GE18Ag01.html

 

[10] Nick Paton Walsh, Uzbekistan kicks US out of military base, The Guardian (U.K.), August 1, 2005.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1540185,00.html

 

[11] Vladimir Radyuhin, Uzbekistan rejoins defence pact, The Hindu, June 26, 2006.

http://www.thehindu.com/2006/06/26/stories/2006062604491400.htm

 

[12] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.116.

 

[13] Glenn Kessler, In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue, The Washington Post, June 18, 2006, p.A16.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/17/AR2006061700727.html

 

[14] James A. Baker III et al., The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward A New Approach, Authroized ed. (NYC, New York: Random House Inc., 2006), p.51.

[15] Ibid., pp.51, 54-57.

[16] Ibid., pp.50-53, 58.

[17] Ibid., p.114.

[18] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.204.

 

[19] Iran, Turkey sign energy cooperation deal, agree to develop Iran’s gas fields, Associated Press, July 14, 2007.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/14/business/ME-FIN-Iran-Turkey-Energy-deal.php


[20] Tehran to host summit of Caspian nations Oct.18, Russian Information Agency (RIA Novosti), August 22, 2007.
http://en.rian.ru/world/20070822/73387774.html

 

[21] Azerbaijan, Iran reinforce energy deals, United Press International (UPI), August 22, 2007.

[22] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Détente in the Middle East or “Calm before the Storm?,” Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), July 10, 2007.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6281

[23] Ibid.

It is worth noting that Iran has been involved in pipeline deals with Turkey and in negotiation between Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the possible creation of an energy corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean. These deals occurred in the same time frame that both Syria and Iran started talks with the U.S. after the Baker-Hamilton Commission’s report.


[24] Syria and Iraq to reopen oil pipeline link, Agence France-Presse (AFP), August 22, 2007.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Roger Hardy, Why the US is unhappy with Maliki, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), August 22, 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6958440.stm

[27] Hassan Nafaa, About-face on Iran coming?, Al-Ahram (Egypt), no. 859, August 23-29, 2007.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/859/op22.htm


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A Criminal War of Lies: Why the US is really in Iraq by Larry Everest

September 24, 2007

A Criminal War of Lies: Why the US is really in Iraq by Larry Everest

by Larry Everest
Global Research, September 19, 2007
rwor.org

These past weeks have witnessed a new government propaganda offensive on Iraq. Bush has given a series of headline-grabbing speeches and this past week U.S. Commander Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s report to Congress on the state of Iraq dominated the news. The Democrats offered their meek objections and amendments. And the net result seems to be that the U.S. military occupation of Iraq will continue, with well over 100,000 troops, for the foreseeable future.

The official terms of the so-called “debate” have been whether or not the Bush administration’s “surge”–i.e., its escalation since January of this year–is “working.” But the limits of this “debate” have served to conceal a fundamental truth: this war, the occupation and the “surge” are thoroughly unjust–”working” or not.

An Unjust And Horrific War–Based on Lies

From the beginning, Bush has used one lie after another to sell this war. “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, even nuclear weapons.” Lie. “Iraq was connected to 9/11.” Lie. “Iraqis will welcome American soldiers as ‘liberators.’” Lie. Deliberate, conscious lies.

Not bad intelligence. Not good intentions gone wrong. Lies. In just one of many examples, Sidney Blumenthal recently revealed in Salon.com that, “On September 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers.” Bush went to war anyway.

This revelation makes clear, yet again, that the war wasn’t a “mistake”–it was a crime. The U.S. government knew full well that Iraq posed no direct military threat to the U.S. or its neighbors, so the invasion constituted a war of aggression, the “supreme” crime according to the Nuremburg war crimes tribunal that judged the Nazis.

Now Bush claims, in part, that the U.S. is staying in Iraq to prevent “mass killings on a horrific scale,” while condemning Iran for “the murder of innocent Iraqis.” But it is the U.S. invasion itself, and the continuing direct actions of the U.S. military, that have led to “mass killings on a horrific scale” and the “murder of innocent Iraqis.”

A study by Johns Hopkins University published in the British medical journal Lancet estimated that some 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. That was two years ago, and the death toll continues. About 4.4 million Iraqis–out of a prewar population of 26 million–have fled to escape violence, half fleeing Iraq totally, with another 60,000 fleeing each month.

And the U.S. escalation–aka “surge”–has made things even worse: The Associated Press reports the death toll for Iraqi civilians is double what it was a year ago. In August, civilian deaths rose to their second highest level this year–at least 1, 809.The number of prisoners in U.S.-run jails in Iraq has also increased by fifty-percent under the so-called surge. The U.S. military is now holding some 24,500 prisoners–up from 16,000 earlier this year.

Bush’s true colors came out when he bragged on a recent trip to Australia that “we’re kicking ass.” Bush and the other U.S. politicians could not care less about the hundreds of thousands of human beings who have already died on account of their actions, or of the millions made homeless and destitute.

The Real Causes of the War

Bush told the American Legion on August 28: “It’s a noble cause. It is a just cause. It is a necessary cause.” And he declared: “America has enduring and vital interests in the [Middle East] region…It remains a strategic crossroads for the world…”

What is this “noble cause”? And more to the point what are the “enduring and vital interests” Bush is talking about? For starters, the Middle East contains some 60 percent of world oil reserves. For the imperialists, oil is both a critical source of profit and a strategic weapon to control the global economy and other countries which depend on oil. Control of this region is essential to global domination. This is why the U.S. has 170,000 troops and an armada of ships and military bases in the region, why it spends so much to build up the settler-colonial state of Israel and reactionary Arab tyrannies like Saudi Arabia, and why it is today threatening war on Iran.

This U.S. control has meant decades of terrible oppression for hundreds of millions of people. But every major candidate of both parties subscribes to the basic assumption that the U.S. must and should dominate this region and its people. This is at the heart of why the Democrats’ opposition is so half-hearted and “around the edges.” They are imperialist politicians representing imperialist interests.

After claiming for years that oil had nothing to do with the Iraq war, Bush now argues that if the U.S. wasn’t in the Middle East, “Extremists would control a key part of the world’s energy supply, could blackmail and sabotage the global economy. They could use billions of dollars of oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions.”

Here Bush lets out a little bit of the truth–in the service of an even more profound lie. These “extremists” Bush attacks are the Islamic fundamentalists–those who claim that the key to liberation for these oppressed societies would be Islamic states under the control of religious law. Now this movement does NOT pose a real way out for the masses. Indeed it is itself reactionary. Where it has achieved power (e.g., Iran, or Afghanistan under the Taliban) it has enforced a suffocating control of political life, and the suppression of science and critical thinking, by religious authorities; the even deeper subjugation and oppression of women, and the feudal and capitalist economic and social relations in which peasants are subject to landowners and workers to capitalists. Its program represents the interests and position of outmoded class forces–feudal landowners, small-time capitalists dependent on but also strangled by imperialist penetration of the economy, etc. It has not led, and cannot lead, to liberation from imperialist domination of these economies but, at most, to a different form of rule and bigger cut of the plunder for a different group of exploiters.

Now these forces do at this point pose an obstacle to the needs of the U.S. to more deeply penetrate the region and to forcibly restructure the societies there to ensure U.S. domination. But that is the problem Bush and the rest of the U.S. ruling class have with them. The U.S. rulers do not care one bit about the oppression of women–the U.S. supports governments that engage in similar oppression and is itself on a “mission” to deny women the right to abortion and birth control! And who is Bush to complain about “spending oil money on weapons”? Who gave the rulers of the U.S. the right to control world energy, spend billions on a monstrous military machine, and then use it to violently pursue its global ambitions? The class forces represented by Bush–imperialist monopoly capital–are no less outmoded than these “extremists” and are responsible by far for the greatest part of the untold suffering on a daily scale, along with horrendous aggression like the war in Iraq, that mark our world.

Knocking down these Islamic fundamentalist forces was in fact a big part of why the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime. To be clear, Saddam Hussein’s regime was not Islamic fundamentalist. But the thinking behind the invasion was to begin by overrunning and occupying Iraq (which seemed at the time like it would be easy), and then to use Iraq as both an example and a jumping off point to forcibly restructure the whole region in the interests of U.S. imperialism, and smash any opposition whatsoever.

They Lied About the War… They’re Lying About the Occupation

The U.S. put together a regime of reactionary forces and calls them the democratic government of Iraq. The U.S. occupation has unleashed factional death squads which have ravaged the country with ethnic cleansing. They’ve tried to rewrite Iraqi laws to open its economy and oil wealth to U.S. capital. The U.S. has built massive military bases, some of which could be permanent and used to attack other countries. This is the reality behind Bush’s declaration that a “central objective” of U.S. strategy is to turn Iraq into “an ally in this war on terror,” and that “the future course of the Middle East will turn heavily on the outcome of the fight in Iraq,” and why he promises to stay for a “long term relationship.”

None of this is to say things would be fine in Iraq–or the region–the day U.S. forces left. Many forces–mostly reactionary at this point–have been uncorked by the imperialists’ very actions in Iraq. But the alternative–a continued U.S. occupation of Iraq with all the death and destruction that that entails, and a continued “war on terror” against other countries–is much, much worse. It would mean that the most oppressive power on earth would be even more dominant and in a much better position to proceed with still greater horrors carried out against others.

As September comes to a close, the picture is as sharp as the autumn air. The U.S. will continue to carry out its crimes in Iraq. The groundwork for a possible attack on Iran will be further laid (and such an attack could happen at any time). The Democrats will continue to channel people’s outrage into the dead end of the 2008 elections (and in the event of war against Iran, they have already pledged their support).

The time for massive political resistance is long overdue.

Global Research Articles by Larry Everest

Bush Administration War Plans directed against Iran by Michel Chossudovsky

September 17, 2007

Bush Administration War Plans directed against Iran by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, September 16, 2007

Quoting official sources, the Western media is now confirming, rather belatedly, that the Bush Administration’s war plans directed against Iran are “for real” and should be taken seriously.

“Punitive bombings” directed against Tehran could be launched within the next few months.

The diplomatic mode has been switched off: The Pentagon is said to be “taking steps to ensure military confrontation with Iran” because diplomatic initiatives have allegedly failed to reach a solution.

These diabolical statements come within barely a couple of weeks following the release of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. The later confirms unequivocally that Iran’s nuclear program is of a civilian nature and that Iran has neither the intention nor the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons:

Article IV (1): These modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency [meaning IAEA] confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran’s past nuclear program and activities.

Article IV (3): The Agency’s delegation is of the view that the agreement on the above issues shall further promote the efficiency of the implementation of safeguards in Iran and its ability to conclude the exclusive peaceful nature of the Iran’s nuclear activities.

Article IV (4): The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use. (IAEA Report, italics added)

At the same token, the IAEA report is a slap in the face for Washington. It confirms the lack of legitimacy and criminal nature of US foreign policy as well as Washington’s intent to bypass the rules of international diplomacy:

“The Bush administration’s abrupt dismissal of last Thursday’s IAEA report is one more sign that Washington has no interest in a diplomatic resolution to its confrontation with Tehran. Following Bush’s bellicose denunciations of Iran last week, the US has reiterated its intention to push for tougher UN sanctions against Tehran this month.” Bush administration to “ratchet up pressure” on Iran by Peter Symonds

No Public Outcry

Despite the overtly aggressive nature of US statements, these war plans directed against Iran, which in a real sense threaten the future of humanity, are not the object of public concern or debate. They are simply not front page news.

The dangers of a broader Middle East war are downplayed or ignored by the main anti-war coalitions. Moreover, the planned attacks on Iran are not being addressed by “progressive” civil society organizations including the “Left”. According to Jean Bricmont:

“All the ideological signposts for attacking Iran are in place. The country has been thoroughly demonized because it is not nice to women, to gays, or to Jews. That in itself is enough to neutralize a large part of the American “left”. The issue of course is not whether Iran is nice or not ­according to our views — but whether there is any legal reason to attack it, and there is none; but the dominant ideology of human rights has legitimized, especially on the left, the right of intervention on humanitarian grounds anywhere, at any time, and that ideology has succeeded in totally sidetracking the minor issue of international law.” (When Wishful Thinking Replaces Resistance: Why Bush Can Get Away with Attacking Iran by Prof. Jean Bricmont)

Background of War Planning

For the last three years, in several carefully documented articles, Global Research has been reporting in detail on US sponsored war plans directed against Iran. These war plans include the preemptive use of thermonuclear weapons against Iran in retaliation for Tehran’s alleged non-compliance with the demands of the “international community”.

War plans in relation to Iran have been an advanced stage of readiness since mid 2005. Israel, Britain and NATO are part of the US led coalition and are slated to play an active role in the military operation.

The first phase of these war plans was formulated initially in mid-2003, under a Pentagon scenario entitled TIRANNT (Theater Iran Near Term). The military build-up has occurred over a period of more than three years.

In Summer 2006 as well as earlier this year, extensive war games were conducted in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Israeli bombing of Lebanon in July 2006 was an integral part of the broader military agenda. In recent developments, Israel has conducted bombing raids inside Syrian territory visibly in an act of provocation.

Recent official statements by Washington confirm the broad nature of these war plans:

“Senior American intelligence and defense officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, …

Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, …

Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.

In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq – arming and training militants – would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories.

A prime target would be the Fajr base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in southern Iran, where Western intelligence agencies say armour-piercing projectiles used against British and US troops are manufactured.

The intelligence officer said that the US military has “two major contingency plans” for air strikes on Iran.

“One is to bomb only the nuclear facilities. The second option is for a much bigger strike that would – over two or three days – hit all of the significant military sites as well. This plan involves more than 2,000 targets.” (quoted in The Sunday Telegraph, 16 September 2007)

US-NATO naval deployments are taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In recent developments, it is reported that two aircraft carrier strike groups (USS Nimitz and USS Truman) are en route to the Persian Gulf to join up with the USS Enterprise, which means that there will be, by late September, three carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf.

According to military sources, the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group took up position in late August opposite the Lebanese coastline.

The attacks on Iran are now officially supported by America’s European allies including France and Germany. France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has called upon France to support the US war on Iran:

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” Mr Kouchner said in an interview on French TV and radio. Mr Kouchner said negotiations with Iran should continue “right to the end”, but an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose “a real danger for the whole world”. (quoted by BBC, 16 September 2007)

Britain is closely involved, despite denials at the diplomatic level. Turkey occupies a central role in the Iran operation. It has an extensive military cooperation agreement with Israel. NATO is formally involved in liaison with Israel, with which it signed a military framework agreement in November 2004.

While the US, Israel, as well as Turkey (with borders with both Iran and Syria) are the main military actors, a number of other countries in the region, allies of the US, including Georgia and Azerbaijan have been enlisted.

There are indications from several media sources that Israel is also at an advanced stage of military preparedness and would be involved in carrying out part of the aerial bombardments. Syria and most probably Lebanon would also be targeted.

Already in 2005, the Israeli Air Force had reached a state of preparedness. Israeli air attacks of Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr had been contemplated using US as well Israeli produced bunker buster bombs. The attack was planned to be carried out in three separate waves “with the radar and communications jamming protection being provided by U.S. Air Force AWACS and other U.S. aircraft in the area”.

(See W Madsen, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MAD410A.html

Escalation Scenarios

If this military operation were to be launched, the entire Middle East Central Asian region would flare up.

The war would encompass an area extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier.

In this regard, US military planners have analyzed various “escalation scenarios”.

In fact, they expect the war to escalate. In other words, escalation, namely retaliation by Iran is a desired objective. It is part of the military agenda.

“A strike will probably follow a gradual escalation. Over the next few weeks and months the US will build tensions and evidence around Iranian activities in Iraq….

Under the theory – which is gaining credence in Washington security circles – US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even its armed forces. (Sunday Telegraph, op cit)

Iran Retaliates

The nature of Iran’s retaliation should be understood. General David Petraeus, who is responsible for managing the Iraq war theater, has voiced his opposition to an attack on Iran.

“Gen David Petraeus, Mr Bush’s senior Iraq commander, denounced the Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq last week as he built support in Washington for the US military surge in Baghdad.” (Sunday Tewlegraph, op cit)

General Petraeus is fully aware of the underlying implications for the Iraq war theater. A war on Iran would immediately spill over into Iraq:

Iran is the third largest importer of Russian weapons systems after India and China. In the course of the last five years, Russia has supported Iran’s ballistic missile technology, in negotiations reached in 2001 under the presidency of Mohammed Khatami.

Iran tested three new types of land-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles in the context of its “Great Prophet II” military exercises last November. These tests were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”

Tehran has the ability to retaliate and wage ballistic missile attacks against US and coalition facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf states.

Iranian ground troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran’s forces total about 545,000 active military personnel. Iran has some 400,000 ground forces as well several million reservists. The Iranian Army disposes of some 2200 tanks. With these capabilities in terms of military personnel and hardware Iran could potentially inflict significant losses to US and coalition troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush-Cheney Military Appointments

Several key military appointments were made in recent months which tend to reinforce Bush-Cheney control over the Military. Specifically, these appointments pertain to the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commanders respectively of USCENTCOM, USSTRATCOM and US Pacific Command. All three commanders recently relinquished their respective positions.

These new appointments are crucial because USSTRATCOM, USCENTCOM US Pacific Command are slated to play key roles in the coordination and implementation of the Iran military operation, in liaison with Israel and NATO.

  • 1. Joint Chiefs of Staff

In May, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Peter Pace was fired (non-renewal). General Pace in recent months, had indicated his disagreement with the Administration regarding both Iraq and the proposed attacks on Iran. General Pace stated (February 2007) that he saw no firm evidence of Tehran supplying weapons to Shiite militias inside Iraq, which was being heralded by the Bush administration as a justification for waging war on Iran:

“[M]aybe that’s why he’s the outgoing chairman. Maybe that’s why they’re not renewing him. Because …He has seen no evidence that Iran is fomenting unrest in Iraq that’s causing Americans lives… ” (Fox News’ Alan Colmes, ox News, June, 13, 2007),

General Peter Pace’s term as Chairman of the JCS ends at the end of September. Defense Secretary Gates’ chosen successor Admiral Michael Mullen, formerly U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, is slated to replace General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff.

Mullen’s discourse is in marked contrast to that of General Peter Pace. Mullen, who was in charge of coordinating 2006-2007 naval war games off the Iranian coastline, has expressed an unbending commitment to “waging” and “winning asymmetric wars”, while also “protecting the United States”:

“we must ensure we have the Battle Force, the people, and the combat readiness we need to win our nation’s wars…

Our Navy is fighting the Global War on Terror while at the same time providing a Strategic Reserve worldwide for the President and our Unified and Combatant Commanders…. Simply reacting to change is no longer an acceptable course of action if our Navy is to successfully wage asymmetric warfare and simultaneously deter regional and transnational threats (Statement, Senate Armed Services Committee, 7 May 2007)

Admiral Mullen’s stance is in line with that of the Bush Administration’s key Neo-conservative ideologues. With regard to Iran, echoing almost verbatim the stance of the White House, Admiral Mullen considers that it is “unacceptable that Iran is providing U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan with capabilities that are hurting and killing U.S. troops.” (Inside the Pentagon, June 21, 2007). But on the issue of Iran, the Democrats are on board. There is a bipartisan consensus, expressed by Senator Jo Lieberman:

“I want to make clear I’m not talking about a massive ground invasion of Iran,… [but a] strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers” (AP, June 11, 2007)

In June, Secretary of Defense Gates appoints the Commander of USSTRATCOM, General Cartwright to the position of Vice-Chairman of the JCS. Together with the appointment of Admiral Mullen, who is slated to take on his position of Chairman of JCS in October, these two new appointments imply a significant overhaul in the power structure of the JCS

In the meantime, USSTRATCOM is headed, pending Senate confirmation of a new commander, on an interim basis, by Air Force Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler

  • 2. CENTCOM

Admiral. William J. Fallon, was appointed Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in March by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Admiral Fallon is fully compliant with the Bush administration’s war plans in relation to Iran. He replaces Gen. John P. Abizaid, who was pushed into retirement, following apparent disagreements with Rumsfeld’s successor, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. While Abizaid recognized both the failures and the weaknesses of the US military in Iraq, Admiral Fallon is closely aligned with Vice President Dick Cheney. He is also firmly committed to the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). CENTCOM would coordinate an attack on Iran from the Middle East war theater.

Moreover, the appointment of an Admiral is indicative of a shift in emphasis of USCENTCOM’s functions in the war theater. The “near term” emphasis is Iran rather than Iraq, requiring the coordination of naval and air force operations in the Persian Gulf.

  • 3. Pacific Command

Another major military appointment was implemented, which has a direct bearing on war preparations in relation to Iran. Admiral Timothy J. Keating Commander of US NORTHCOM was appointed in March, to head US Pacific Command, which includes both the 5th and the 7th fleets. The 7th Fleet Pacific Command is the largest U.S. combatant command. Keating, who takes over from Admiral Fallon is also an unbending supporter of the “war on terrorism”. Pacific Command would be playing a key role in the context of a military operation directed against Iran.(http://www.pacom.mil/about/pacom.shtml)

Of significance, Admiral Keating was also involved in the 2003 attack on Iraq as commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the Fifth Fleet.

It should be understood that these new military appointments tend to consolidate the power of Bush-Cheney in the military, overriding potential dissent or opposition to the Iran war agenda from within the upper echelons of the US military.

It is, however, unlikely that a major military operation would be launched immediately following Mullen’s instatement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and prior to the confirmation of a new USSTRATCOM Commander by the US Senate.

USSTRATCOM’s Central Role in Coordinating the Attacks

USSTRATCOM would have the responsibility for overseeing and coordinating this military deployment as well as launching the military operation directed against Iran. (For details, Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).

In January 2005 a significant shift in USSTRATCOM’s mandate was implemented. USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.” To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike , or JFCCSGS was created.

Overseen by USSTRATCOM, JFCCSGS would be responsible for the launching of military operations “using nuclear or conventional weapons” in compliance with the Bush administration’s new nuclear doctrine. Both categories of weapons would be integrated into a “joint strike operation” under unified Command and Control.

According to Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,

“The Defense Department is upgrading its nuclear strike plans to reflect new presidential guidance and a transition in war planning from the top-heavy Single Integrated Operational Plan of the Cold War to a family of smaller and more flexible strike plans designed to defeat today’s adversaries. The new central strategic war plan is known as OPLAN (Operations Plan) 8044…. This revised, detailed plan provides more flexible options to assure allies, and dissuade, deter, and if necessary, defeat adversaries in a wider range of contingencies….

One member of the new family is CONPLAN 8022, a concept plan for the quick use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy–preemptively, if necessary–”time-urgent targets” anywhere in the world. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued an Alert Order in early 2004 that directed the military to put CONPLAN 8022 into effect. As a result, the Bush administration’s preemption policy is now operational on long-range bombers, strategic submarines on deterrent patrol, and presumably intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).”

The operational implementation of the Global Strike would be under CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022, which now consists of “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Japanese Economic Newswire, 30 December 2005, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, op. cit.).

CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferators and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’ (According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese Economic News Wire, op. cit.)

USSTRATCOM would play a central decision making and coordinating role in the eventuality of a war on Iran. The administration has demanded USSTRATCOM to elaborate centralized war plans directed against Iran. CENTCOM would largely be involved in carrying out these war plans in the Middle East war theater. .

USSTRATCOM’s is described “a global integrator charged with the missions of full-spectrum global strike”.

USSTRATCOM is in charge of the coordination of command structures under global C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). “Day-to-day planning and execution [by STRATCOM] for the primary mission areas is done by five Joint Functional Component Commands or JFCCs and three other functional components:”

If Iran Retaliates, the US Could Use Nuclear Weapons

US, NATO and Israeli military planners are fully aware that the aerial “punitive bombings” could lead coalition forces into a ground war scenario in which they may have to confront Iranian and Syrian forces in the battlefield.

Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

Iranian troops could cross the Iran-Iraq border and confront coalition forces inside Iraq. Israeli troops and/or Special Forces could enter into Syria.

If Iran were to retaliate in a forceful way, which is contemplated by US military planners, the US could then retaliate with tactical nuclear weapons.

This scenario of using nuclear weapons against Iran has been in the pipeline since 2004. In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney ordered USSTRATCOM to draft a “contingency plan”, which “includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.” (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War , The American Conservative, 2 August 2005).

In relation to current war plans, Cheney has confirmed his intention to strike Iran with nuclear weapons.

“The vice president is said to advocate the use of bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons against Iran’s nuclear sites. His allies dispute this, but Mr Cheney is understood to be lobbying for air strikes if sites can be identified where Revolutionary Guard units are training Shia militias.

Recent developments over Iraq appear to fit with the pattern of escalation predicted by Pentagon officials.” (Sunday Telegraph, op cit)

Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization

In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

The contents of this highly sensitive document remains a carefully guarded State secret. There has been no mention of NSPD 35 by the media nor even in Congressional debates. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

Tactical nuclear weapons directed against Iran have also been deployed at military bases in several NATO non-nuclear states including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

It should be understood that even without the use of nukes, the proposed US aerial bombardments could result in a nuclear Chernobyl type disaster..

World War III Scenario

While the war on Iran is acknowledged by the Western media, it is not front page news.

The broad implications of an impending catastrophe are simply not addressed.

Escalation could lead us into a World War III scenario.

Through media disinformation, the seriousness of a US-led war on Iran allegedly in retaliation for Iran’s defiance of the “international community” is downplayed . The objective is to galvanize Western public opinion in support of a US-led military operation, which would inevitably lead to escalation.

War propaganda consists in “fabricating an enemy” while conveying the illusion that the Western World is under attack by Islamic terrorists, who are directly supported by the Tehran government.

“Make the World safer”, “prevent the proliferation of dirty nuclear devices by terrorists”, “implement punitive actions against Iran to ensure the peace”. “Combat nuclear proliferation by rogue states”…

Supported by the Western media, a generalized atmosphere of racism and xenophobia directed against Muslims has unfolded, particularly in Western Europe, which provides a fake legitimacy to the US war agenda. The latter is upheld as a “Just War”. The “Just war” theory serves to camouflage the nature of US war plans, while providing a human face to the invaders.

What can be done?

The antiwar movement is in many regards divided and misinformed on the nature of the US military agenda. In the US, United for Peace and Justice tacitly supports US foreign policy. It fails to recognize the existence of an Iraqi resistance movement. Moreover, these same antiwar organizations, which are committed to World Peace tend to downplay the implications of the proposed US bombing of Iran. More generally the antiwar movement fails to address the existence of a broader Middle East military agenda, a long-war. Is actions are piecemeal, focusing on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine without addressing the relationship between these various war theaters.

To reverse the tide requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war, which contemplates quite explicitly the use of thermonuclear weapons. The message should be loud and clear: As confirmed by the IAEA report, Iran is not the threat.

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.

The corporate media also bears a heavy responsibility for the cover-up of US sponsored war crimes. It must also be forcefully challenged for its biased coverage of the Middle East war.

For the past two years, Washington has been waging a “diplomatic arm twisting” exercise with a view to enlisting countries into supporting its military agenda. It is essential that at the diplomatic level, countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America take a firm stance against the US military agenda.

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.

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.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. 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.

This article includes a few selected excerpts from my previous writings on US war plans in relation to Iran. For a review of US war plans in relation to Iran, see Global Research’s Iran dossier.

Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky

see:

British academics warn US is preparing “shock and awe” attack on Iran by Peter Symonds

When Wishful Thinking Replaces Resistance: Why Bush Can Get Away with Attacking Iran by Prof. Jean Bricmont

Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran? h/t: ICH


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The Greatest Story Never Told by Stephen Lendman

September 14, 2007

The Greatest Story Never Told by Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 13 September 2007

No issue is more sensitive in the US than daring to criticize Israel. It’s the metaphorical “third rail” in American politics, academia and the major media. Anyone daring to touch it pays dearly as the few who tried learned. Those in elected office face an onslaught of attacks and efforts to replace them with more supportive officials. Former five term Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney felt its sting twice in 2002 and 2006. So did 10 term Congressman Paul Findley (a fierce and courageous Israeli critic) in 1982 and three term Senator Charles Percy in 1984 whom AIPAC targeted merely for appearing to support anti-Israeli policy.

DePaul University Professor Norman Finkelstein has long been a target as well for his courageous writing and outspokenness. Depaul formally denied him tenure June 8 even though his students call him “truly outstanding and among the most impressive” of all university political science professors. It’s why his Department of Political Science endorsed his tenure bid stating his academic record “exceeds our department’s stated standards for scholarly production (and) department and outside experts we consulted recognize the intellectual merits of his work.”

It didn’t help, and on August 26 got worse. The university acknowledged “Professor Finkelstein is a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.” Yet it issued a brief statement canceling his classes and placing him on administrative leave “with full pay and benefits for the 2007-8 academic year (that) relieves professors from their teaching responsibilities.” For now, Finkelstein’s long struggle with the university ended the first day of classes, September 5. Both sides agreed to a settlement, and a planned day of protests was curtailed. But as Chicago Tribune writer Ron Grossman put it in his September 6 column headlined “Finkelstein deal ends DePaul tiff….the underlying struggle between supporters of Israel and champions (like Finkelstein) of the Palestinians continues, not just at the North Side campus but across the academic world.”

That struggle is nowhere in sight in the dominant media that includes major print publications, commercial radio, television and so-called Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio both of which long ago abandoned the public trust in service to their corporate and government paymasters.

In all parts of the major media, no Israeli criticism is tolerated on-air or in print, and any reporter, news anchor, pundit or on-air guest forgetting the (unwritten) rules, won’t get a second chance. Support for Israel is ironclad, absolute, and uncompromising on everything including its worst crimes of war and against humanity. Open debate is stifled, and anyone daring to dissent or demur is pilloried, ridiculed, called anti-semetic, even threatened, ostracized, and finally ignored. In his seminal work on Middle East affairs, “Fateful Triangle,” Noam Chomsky put it this way:

“….Israel has been granted a unique immunity from criticism in mainstream journalism and scholarship….”

Call it the myth of the free press in a nation claiming to have the freest of all. It’s pure fantasy now and in an earlier era, journalist A.J Liebling said it was only for “those who own(ed) one.” Today, they’re giants operating the way Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky explained in their classic book on the media titled “Manufacturing Consent.” The authors developed their “propaganda model” to show all news and information passes through a set of “filters.” “Raw material” goes through them, unacceptable parts are suppressed, and “only the cleansed residue fit to print (and broadcast on-air)” reaches the public. The New York Times calls it “All The News That’s Fit to Print.” By its standard, it means sanitized news only leaving out the most important parts and what readers want most – the full truth and nothing else.

The same goes for the rest of the dominant media that serve as collective national thought control police gatekeepers “filtering” everything we read, see and hear. They manipulate our minds and beliefs, program our thoughts, and effectively destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy. In America, that’s nowhere in sight.

The problem is most acute in reporting on Israel. Criticism of the Jewish state is stifled in an effort to portray it as a model democracy, the only one in the region, and surrounded by hostile Palestinians, other Arab/Muslim extremists and whoever else Israel cites as a threat, real or contrived. The truth is quite opposite but absent from corporate-controlled media spaces.

How “The Newspaper of Record” Reports on Israel

This article focuses mainly on the media’s lead and most influential voice, The New York Times. It’s been around since 1851 when it quietly debuted saying “….we intend to (publish) every morning (except Sundays) for an indefinite number of years to come.” Today, it’s the pillar of the corporate media and main instrument of fake news making it the closest thing in the country to an official ministry of information and propaganda. But here’s the Times 1997 Proxy Statement quote media critic Edward Herman used in his April, 1998 Z Magazine article titled “All The News Fit to Print (Part I).” Its management then (and now) claimed The Times to be “an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare.” It leaves one breathless and demands an earlier used quote – “phew.”

No media source anywhere has more clout than the Times, none manipulates the public mind more effectively, and where it goes, others follow. It’s most visible supporting all things corporate, foreign wars of aggression, and everything favoring Israel it views one way. That’s the focus below – how the New York Times plays the lead cheerleading role for Israel even when its actions are unjustifiable, unconscionable and criminal.

Freelance journalist Alison Weir founded “If Americans Knew” as an “independent research and information-dissemination institute (to provide) every American (what he or she) needs to know about Israel/Palestine.” That includes “inform(ing) and educat(ing) the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.” Below is an account of her in-depth study of how the New York Times betrays its readers by distorting its coverage on Israel.

It was in her April 24, 2005 article called “New York Times Distortion Up Close and Personal.” It drew on the findings from her 23-page report, and 40 pages of supportive data, titled “Off the Charts – Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine (by) The New York Times.” To be as objective as possible, the study “count(ed) the deaths reported on both sides of the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict, and then compare(d) these to the actual number….that had occurred.” The findings showed a “startling disparity….depending on the ethnicity of the victim(s).”

The study covered two periods. The first was from the September 29, 2000 beginning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (or second) Intifada (ignited by Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount Al-Aqsa Mosque site) through September 28, 2001. The second ran from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004. Deaths counted were only those resulting from Israeli – Palestinian confrontations.

The first study showed the New York Times reported 2.8 times the number of Israeli deaths to Palestinian ones when, in fact, three times more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. In the second one, the ratio increased to 3.6 adding further distortion to the coverage. Reporting children’s deaths was even more skewed, coming in at a ratio of 6.8 for Israeli children compared to Palestinian ones and then at 7.3 in the later study. The latter ratio is particularly startling since 22 times more Palestinian children were killed, in fact, than Israelis in 2004 according to B’Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Terroritories. The Times simply ignored them.

In all its reporting in both periods, the Times distorted the facts egregiously. It highlighted Israeli deaths by headlining and repeating them. In contrast, there was silence on most Palestinian ones. The impression given was that more Jews died than Arabs or at times the numbers were equal on both sides. Most often, they weren’t even close.

It was startling to learn that Israeli and other human rights groups documented 82 Palestinian children killed at the Intifada’s outset (most by “gunfire to the head” indicating deliberate targeting) before a single Israeli child died. The Times willfully ignored this in its coverage the same way it obsessed last summer over Hamas’ capture of a single Israeli soldier while ignoring around 12,000 Palestinian men, women and children political detainees held by Israelis illegally. For the Times, they’re non-persons, but everyone in Israel and many outside it know that soldier’s name and still do.

Weir calls this coverage a “highly disturbing pattern of bias.” She presented her findings (”complete with charts, spread-sheets, clear sourcing, and extensive additional documentation”) to the Times’ Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, in a face-to-face meeting, but came away disappointed. It was because of a 1762-word column Okrent wrote in response. It ignored or misrepresented the facts, was unconcerned that most Times reporters covering Israel/Palestine are Jewish, all live inside Israel, and the paper claimed it’s impossible finding “sufficient numbers of high quality journalists of Muslim or Arab heritage to work on this issue.” It is when you don’t look.

Yet, it’s worth noting what Weir believes was a “personal confession” in a single line. Okrent may have slipped up saying: “I don’t think any of us (at the Times) can be objective about our own claimed objectivity.” Confession or not, it led to no change in the Times’ reporting.

Weir updated her report to include Palestinian children’s deaths in 2004 and 2005 from documented information on the “Remember These Children” web site. It uses Israeli and other human rights organizations’ sources with these findings through June, 2007:

— 118 Israeli children under 18 years years of age killed compared to 973 Palestinian youths, most shot in the head or chest indicating deliberate targeting by Israeli soldiers. This information never appears in Times’ reports.

Instead, The Times “marginalizes Palestinian women and Palestinian rights” according to a November 17, 2006 Electronic Intifada (EI) report. Its authors (Patrick O’Connor and Rachel Roberts) state: “The New York Times pays little attention to human rights in Israel/Palestine, downplays….violence against Palestinian women and generally silences (their) voices.”

Since the second Intifada began, B’Tselem, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) published 76 reports documenting Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights and four others on Palestinian violations against Israelis or other Palestinians. The Times, however, wrote only four articles on them all – two on Israeli abuses and two others on what Palestinians did suggesting both sides shared equal guilt.

Three other Times articles on the conflict focused on a Human Rights Watch report criticizing Palestinian suicide bombings, another HRW one on Israeli actions in Jenin in 2002, and a B’Tselem report on the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) exoneration of soldiers for killing a Palestinian child. The Times also published one article criticizing Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and one other one critical of Hezbollah during that conflict. It’s the Times’ idea of fairness and balance, that distorts facts, ignores truth, and in every instance betrays its readers.

EI’s writers refer to thousands of New York Times articles on Israel/Palestine since the second Intifada began September 29, 2000. Yet in them all, it “quoted, cited or paraphrased just 4187 words….from human rights organizations in 62 articles, snippets (only) averaging just 69 words per article.” In the same articles, far more space was given to Israeli government denials even when clear evidence proved them false.

Other research shows The New York Times op ed page marginalizes Palestinian voices and completely shuts out its women who are portrayed as passive, docile and at the mercy of men. Readers aren’t told they “balance their dual commitment to the national (and feminist) struggle(s)” by courageously leading the fight against domestic and Israeli violence in the Occupied Territories. The Times also ignores Amnesty International’s emphasis on the occupation’s harmful effects on women in detention centers and from “military checkpoints, blockades and curfews” even though they cause sick and pregnant women to die for lack of aid.

It’s part of the same pattern of selective disclosure and distortion so readers don’t know what’s happening and are led to believe victims are the victimizers. Facts are ignored, international law is unmentioned and reporting “contributes to the dangerous pattern of Western disparagement of Muslim society,” made easy post-9/11.

EI sums up its article stating “If the Times cared about human rights in Israel/Palestine, (balanced reporting, and) valued independent third party perspectives, (it) would have published more than 6256 (total) words….of major human rights organizations (reports) in its thousands of articles” for the past seven years. Instead, the impression given is Israeli crimes are marginal, sporadic, inconsequential, acts of self-defense and not crimes at all. This type reporting sets the (low) standard for the rest of the dominant media and highlights why few Americans question their government’s full and unconditional support for Israeli policy.

The Times willfully ignores the following type information B’Tselem posts and updates on its website (www.btselem.org). From September 29, 2000 through August 31, 2007, it documented 4274 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces or civilians including 857 children. That compares to 1024 Israelis killed by Palestinians including 119 children.

Throughout this period, The Times low-keyed Israeli violence in its coverage but featured dozens of articles on Palestinian suicide bombings and other acts of self-defense it portrays as “terrorism” against innocent Israelis. Left out is what B’Tselem, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), AI, HRW, ICRC and other human rights organizations report:

— willful violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s protections of civilians in times of war and under occupation by a foreign power.

— excessive use of force and abuse;

— policy of collective punishment and economic strangulation;

— growing numbers of expanding illegal settlements;

— home demolitions;

— random IDF invasions, air and ground attacks;

— many dozens of extrajudicial assassinations;

— administrative detentions without charge and routine use of torture of thousands of Palestinians including young children treated like adults;

— land expropriation;

— crop destruction;

— policies of closure, separation, checkpoints, ghettoization and curfews;

— denial of the most basic human rights and civil liberties; and

— an overall Kafkaesque “matrix of control” designed to extinguish Palestinians’ will to resist.

The Times willful distortion and indifference to Palestinian suffering highlights its coverage. Like others in the dominant media, it displays no sense of fairness, accuracy or balance in portraying Palestinians as militants, gunmen and terrorists – never as oppressed human beings under occupation struggling for freedom in their own land. In sharp contrast, Israelis are seen as surrounded, beleaguered, and innocent victims acting in self-defense. It’s sheer fantasy, the facts on the ground prove it, but Times readers aren’t given them.

They’re also not told how Israel discriminates against Palestinian Arab Israeli citizens. Patrick O’Connor explained in his March 30, 2006 Electronic Intifada article titled “The New York Times Covers Up Discrimination against Palestinian Citizens of Israel.” He noted the rise to prominence of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman and his extremist Yisrael Beiteinu party. It advocates “transferring a number of Palestinian towns in Israel to Palestinian Authority (PA) control,” thereby revoking the legalized status of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. They’re already second class ones and are treated unequally under Israel’s Basic Law that affords rights and benefits to Jews only.

O’Connor notes the Times plays “a leading role collaborat(ing) with this strategy.” It characterizes all Palestinians as militants, gunmen and terrorists while suppressing their “experiences under….occupation (victimized by) Israeli state terrorism, and (the) systemic Israeli discrimination against Palestinian (citizens) living in Israel….”

An instance of Times distortion was from a March 21, 2006 article by Dina Kraft. In it, Israel dismissively refers to “Israeli Arabs” and so does Kraft. They’re not called Palestinian Israeli citizens “to divide and rule, and to cover up the familial, historical and cultural relationship between Palestinians” inside Israel to those in the Territories and diaspora. The Times goes along without challenge, never questioning if a self-declared Jewish state can be democratic without ensuring equal rights to its non-Jewish minority. Ignored as well is Yisrael Beiteinu’s outlandish proposal to revoke citizenship rights for Arabs inside Israel because they’re not Jews.

O’Connor stresses how the Times, Kraft and the major US media collaboratively perpetuate the myth that Israel is “a liberal, democratic state inexplicably beset by Arab/Muslim terrorism.” In so doing, they suppress the historical record that Israel ethnically cleansed 800,000 Palestinians, killed many thousands of others, and destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem in its 1948 “War of Independence.” They also deny that Palestinians everywhere have close historical, family and cultural ties, yet Israel discriminates against them all unfairly.

In her report, Weir noted what all people of conscience believe: that “readers of The New York Times (and all Americans) are entitled to full and accurate reporting on all issues, including the topic of Israel/Palestine.” In her study period, the Times covered it in “well over 1000 stories,” so it’s deeply troubling how much critical information was omitted.

A 9/11/07 Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Action Alert provides more evidence of NYT cover-up and distortion. It’s titled “Whose Human Rights Matter? NYT on Hezbollah and Israeli attacks on civilians.” FAIR cites two recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW)investigations of Israel’s war against Lebanon in which The New York Times highlighted “unlawful attacks against Israel” while giving short shrift to “unlawful attacks committed by Israel.” This is de rigueur at The Times so the FAIR report is no surprise.

It noted the NYT ran its own 800 word story supportive of Israel on 8/31/07 titled “Rights Group Accuses Hezbollah of Indiscriminate Attacks on Civilians in Israel War” accompanied by a photo of “Israeli civilians at risk from Hezbollah rockets.” In sharp contrast, it settled for a 139 word AP report on Israeli unlawful attacks under its own headline titled “Israel Criticized Over Lebanon Deaths” with no photo. Even worse, The Times report on Israeli infractions omitted key information about the claim that Hezbollah used Lebanese people as human shields. HRW found no supportive evidence, and its executive director, Kenneth Roth, said the Israeli government’s assertion was false.

The Times also failed to reflect the dramatic disparity in civilian deaths on each side. HRW estimated Israel killed about 900 Lebanese civilians out of a total 1200 death toll in the country while Hezbollah killed 43 Israeli civilians plus about 80 IDF personnel. FAIR’s conclusion: The Times values Israeli lives far more than Lebanese ones. No surprise.

FAIR raised an additional point as well from its 12/6/06 Action Alert. It refuted a Times report as false that Israeli attacks on civilians were legitimate “since Hezbollah fired from civilian areas, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets.” Again, standard practice at The Times that values fake news above truth, accuracy, fairness and balance.

Weir hoped a public airing of her findings on The Times would lead to better reporting at the “paper of record.” It never did and just got worse following Hamas’ dramatic democratic January, 2006 electoral victory. Afterwards, all outside aid was cut off, Hamas was marginalized and politically isolated, and Israeli repression got stepped up in an effort to crush the fledging government by making the Territories “scream.”

It came to a head June 14 following weeks of US-Israeli orchestrated violence. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared a “state of emergency” and illegally dismissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity government. He appointed his own US-Israeli vetted replacements days later with The New York Times in the lead supporting the new quisling coup d’etat government. Noted journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger explains the first casualty of war is good journalism. It’s as true for reporting on Israel, especially on the pages of “the newspaper of record” that sets the low standard others then follow.

That standard excludes discussion of the powerful Israeli lobby with AIPAC just one part of it. Noted figures like John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government are persona non grata for their heroic work documenting its powerful influence on US policy toward Israel and the Middle East. Noted scholar and activist James Petras makes the same compelling case in his revealing 2006 must-read book titled “The Power of Israel in the United States.” The record of “the newspaper of record” includes none of their findings and conclusions proving when it comes to truth in reporting, it’s absent from its pages. It’s especially pronounced in its coverage of Israel/Palestine.

More Evidence of Corporate Media Distortion on Israel-Palestine

When it comes to shoddy reporting, most notably on Israel/Palestine, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It’s found on major US broadcast and cable channels, most all corporate-owned publications here and abroad, the BBC, CBC, Deutche Welle, other European broadcasters, and what passes for so-called public radio and broadcasting in the US. An exception is Pacifica Radio, the original and only real public radio in the US. Its provides excellent coverage, especially on KPFA’s daily Flashpoints Radio with the best of it anywhere on-air from its co-hosts, contributors and top quality guests.

The opposite is true for so-called National Public Radio’s (NPR), but its public broadcast (PBS)counterpart shares equal guilt. Many people naively turn to NPR as an acceptable alternative to corporate media disinformation without realizing it’s as corrupted by capital interests and big government as all the others. Its president, Kevin Klose, is the former head of US propaganda that includes Voice of America (VOA), Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television and the anti-Castro Radio/TV Marti. He’s ideal for the same role at National Public Radio, and it’s why he got the job.

NPR never met a US war of aggression it didn’t love, and it’s especially attentive to the interests of its corporate paymasters like McDonald’s (with $225 million of it), Allstate, Merck, Archer Daniels Midland, and the worst of all worker rights’ abusers, Wal-Mart, that NPR welcomes anyway. In its space, there never is heard a discouraging word on any of these or most other major US corporate giants.

Then, there’s the issue of fair and balanced reporting on Israel/Palestine that’s absent from NPR programs all the time. The media watchdog group FAIR exposed it in its study of NPR’s coverage of Israeli/Palestinian violence in the first six months of 2001. Over virtually any period, Palestinian deaths way outnumber Israeli ones. Yet NPR in the period studied reported 62 Israeli deaths compared to 51 Palestinian ones at a time 77 Israelis and 148 Palestinians were killed. It meant “there was an 81% likelihood an Israeli death would be reported on NPR, but only a 34% likelihood” a Palestinian one would be.

The findings were similar each way FAIR examined the data. They showed one-sided pro-Israel reporting the way it is throughout the dominant media. The result (then and now) is NPR betrays the public trust. It suppresses real news in favor of the fake kind it prefers. It violates its claim to be “an internationally acclaimed producer of noncommercial news, talk and entertainment programming” and its mission statement pledge “to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciations of events, ideas and cultures (through) programming that meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression.” It’s pure nonsense. On all counts, NPR fails badly.

The Electronic Intifada web site showed how badly. It was in a February 19, 2002 article titled “Special Report: NPR’s Linda Gradstein (its Israel correspondent) Takes Cash Payments from Pro-Israel Groups.” Ali Abunimah and Nigel Parry (its co-founders) discovered Gradstein violated professional journalistic and NPR ethics and policy by accepting cash honoraria from pro-Israeli organizations in the past and currently to the date of the article.

Gradstein is notorious for her pro-Israeli bias and being paid for it makes it worse. Hillel is one of her paymasters, and in one instance openly acknowledged it considered Gradstein an Israeli propagandist. Other Israeli groups apparently do as well as Gradstein openly violated NPR’s stated (but uninforced) policy not to accept these fees. Instead, she regularly takes them and likely still does.

The EI writers concluded “for some reason or other, Gradstein is effectively exempt from NPR’s own regulations. These revelations only broaden existing concerns about the integrity of NPR’s Middle East reporting and honesty of Linda Gradstein….the sad truth is that Linda Gradstein rarely meets (the minimum) standard(s)” of journalistic ethics and integrity. This is common practice at NPR and at the rest of the major media as well.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

The dominant US media have loads of firepower and freely unleash it supporting Israel. They need no backup help but get it anyway from CAMERA, a powerful Boston-based pro-Israeli media lobby group. The organization was founded by Charles Jacobs in 1982 and claims to be “non-partisan….regard(ing)….American or Israeli political issues (and takes no position) regard(ing)….ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.” It calls itself “a media-monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East.”

It claims “Inaccurate and distorted accounts of events in Israel and the Middle East are….found everywhere from college radio stations to network television, from community newspapers to national magazines (to the) Internet.” They’re also in “fashion magazines, architectural publications, encyclopedias….travel guides, and even dictionaries.” They’re “inaccurate (and) skewed (and) may fuel anti-Israel and anti-Jewish prejudice.”

CAMERA’s on guard to fight back with plenty of dues-paying members to do it – 55,000 well-heeled ones plus “thousands of active letter writers.” They monitor all media and its journalists everywhere for one purpose – to resolutely support Israel and combat all criticism it calls “anti-Israel bias.” CAMERA tolerates none, not even modest in tone on issues too minor to matter. They do to CAMERA that views everything in black and white terms with no gray allowed.

Muslims are bad because they’re Muslims and not Jews. Jews, on the other hand, are good because they’re Jewish. This for CAMERA is fair and balanced meaning support Israel, right or wrong, and you are. Dare criticize, you’re not, and be targeted full force with all CAMERA’s hard-hitting tools – mass letter-writing, articles, op-eds, monographs, special reports, full-page ads in major publications, the CAMERA Media Report critiquing “bias and error,” CAMERA on Campus doing the same thing, CAMERA Fellows training students in pro-Israeli thinking, and focused attacks on “media bias” and journalists anywhere even mildly critical of Israel.

CAMERA is effective because it’s unrelenting, focused and well-funded. It “systematically monitors, documents, reviews and archives (all) Middle East coverage.” Its staffers “contact reporters, editors, producers and publishers” demanding “distorted or inaccurate coverage” be retracted and replaced by “factual information to refute errors.” For CAMERA, it means support Israel without compromise or be hounded until you do.

Two Examples of Truth in Reporting Banned in the Dominant Media – First from Bethlehem

Pacifica’s KPFA Flashpoints Radio co-host Nora Barrows Friedman has become the electronic media’s most courageous voice on Israel/Palestine. An example was her disturbing story from Bethlehem August 21 for Inter Press Service that was unreported in the dominant media. It’s a dramatic example of sanitizing ugly parts of a story to prettify Israeli actions or simply ignoring it as in this case.

Friedman reported the Israeli military has been cutting and destroying apricot and walnut trees for months to make way for its scheme in the village of Artas, southeast of Bethlehem. It’s a concrete tunnel (along with the apartheid separation wall) for raw Israeli settlement sewage (excrement and waste). It’s to be dumped on Palestinian land even though its toxicity will endanger the health and welfare of its residents. It will destroy crops and poison the land rendering it useless for agriculture.

Artas villagers have been “active and defiant….over the last year after unofficial information” about the plan leaked out. It’s still ongoing, nonetheless, as Israeli bulldozers continue uprooting crops and orchards in preparation for construction to follow. Non-violent protesters (on their own land) “have been shot at, beaten” arrested and imprisoned for defying expropriation of their property. Israel frequently does this throughout the Occupied Territories for the parts it wants. In this case, it’s for land to dump raw untreated toxic sewage waste on from its settlements.

It’s part of an overall ethnic cleansing scheme to dispossess Palestinians from their lands, one parcel, one village at a time, every devious way Israelis can invent to do it. This time, villagers are fighting back in the Israeli Supreme Court. But based on its past rulings, they have little hope for justice and no hope the major media will help stop the abuse by exposing it in its coverage.

A Second Example: Hamas’ “Goals for All of Palestine”

Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas political bureau deputy, prepared an eloquent op-ed piece July 10 titled “Hamas’ stand” that got rare space in the latimes.com but none in the New York Times, NPR or elsewhere in the dominant media. In it, he explained Hamas’ July rescue of BBC journalist Alan Johnson wasn’t done “as some obsequious boon to Western powers. It was….part of our effort to secure Gaza from (all) lawlessness…. and violence….where journalists, foreigners and guests of the Palestinian people will be treated with dignity.”

He stressed Hamas never supported attacks on Westerners. Instead, its struggle “always….focused on the occupier and our legal resistance to it….supported by the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Despite that right of any occupied people, Israel and Washington falsely accuse its leaders of ideologies “they know full well we do not follow, such as the agenda of Al Queda and its adherents.”

Marzook “deplore(d) the current prognosticating over “Fatah-land (in the West Bank) versus “Hamastan (in Gaza). In the end, there can be only one Palestinian state,” and its people have every legal right to demand and expect one. He continued saying its “militant stance” is reasonable in “our fight against the occupation and the right of Palestinians to have dignity, justice and self-rule.” It’s guaranteed all peoples everywhere under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Marzook raised the litmus test issue of Palestinians having to concede Israel’s “putative right to exist as a necessary precondition to discussing grievances, and to renounce” its 1988 charter position “born of the intolerable conditions under occupation more than 20 years ago.” A state “may have a right to exist,” he stated, “but not….at the expense of other states (or more importantly) at the expense of millions of human individuals and their rights to justice.”

Marzook justifiably asked “Why should anyone concede Israel’s right to exist, when it….never….acknowledged (its) foundational crimes of murder, ethnic cleansing (and seizure of) our towns and villages, our farms and orchards, and made us a nation of refugees? Why should any Palestinian recognize (this) monstrous crime….?” How can Israel “declare itself explicitly to be a state for the Jews (alone)….in a land where millions of occupants are Arabs, Muslims and Christians.”

Marzook continued denouncing Israeli hypocrisy referring back to the writings of its Zionist founders. In them, they made “repeated calls for the destruction of Palestine’s non-Jewish inhabitants” saying: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.” Israeli policy today “advocat(es) for the expulsion of Arab citizens from Israel and the rest of Palestine, envisioning a single Jewish state from the Jordan (River) to the sea.” The international community voices “no clamor….for Israel to repudiate these words as a necessary precondition for any discourse whatsoever. The double standard, as always, is” for Palestinians alone.

Marzook has no trouble “recognizing” Israel’s right to exist. “Israel does exist,” he says, “as any Rafah boy in a hospital bed, with IDF shrapnel in his torso, can tell you.” He referred to a distracting “dance of mutual rejection (while) many are dying (or live) as prisoners….in refugee camps” and Israeli prisons unjustly.

Marzook speaks for all Palestinians saying he “look(s) forward to the day when Israel can say to me, and millions of other Palestinians: ‘Here, here is your family’s house by the sea (we took from you in 1948), here are your lemon trees, the olive grove your father tended: Come home and be whole again.’ Then we can speak of a future together” and can have one in peace but never under occupation.

Try finding that commentary in the New York Times or on NPR. Somehow, it slipped into the latimes.com and maybe in error. Pilger is right. The first casualty of war is good journalism. It applies as well to reporting on Israel/Palestine and most other major world and national issues. Real news and information fall victim to the fake kind in the dominant media. Thankfully, people are catching on, viable alternatives abound in print and online, and web sites like this one provide it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.

Cold War II by Noam Chomsky

August 30, 2007

Cold War II

by Noam Chomsky
August 27, 2007

 


These are exciting days in Washington, as the government directs its energies to the demanding task of “containing Iran” in what Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright, joining others, calls “Cold War II.”[1]

During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces.  The lesser and more moderate force was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.” Hence “if the United States is to survive,” it will have to adopt a “repugnant philosophy” and reject “acceptable norms of human conduct” and the “long-standing American concepts of `fair play’” that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti and other beneficiaries of “the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity,” as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission.[2] The judgments about the nature of the super-Hitler and the necessary response are those of General Jimmy Doolittle, in a critical assessment of the CIA commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954.  They are quite consistent with those of the Truman administration liberals, the “wise men” who were “present at the creation,” notoriously in NSC 68 but in fact quite consistently.

 

In the face of the Kremlin’s unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the US resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion and violence while doing “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA.[3]  And just as the Truman liberals easily matched their successors in fevered rhetoric about the implacable enemy and its campaign to rule the world, so did John F. Kennedy, who bitterly condemned the “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy,” and dismissed the proposal of its leader (Khrushchev) for sharp mutual cuts in offensive weaponry, then reacted to his unilateral implementation of these proposals with a huge military build-up.  The Kennedy brothers also quickly surpassed Eisenhower in violence and terror, as they “unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity” (Wiener), doubling Eisenhower’s annual record of major CIA covert operations, with horrendous consequences worldwide, even a close brush with terminal nuclear war.[4]

 

But at least it was possible to deal with Russia, unlike the fiercer enemy, China.  The more thoughtful scholars recognized that Russia was poised uneasily between civilization and barbarism.  As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore “deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer,” while the rest still believe “that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer,” the “basic division” that is “the deepest problem of the contemporary international order.” But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.

 

Not so the still more savage and bloodthirsty enemy, China, which for liberal Democrat intellectuals at various times rampaged as a “a Slavic Manchukuo,” a blind puppet of its Kremlin master, or a monster utterly unconstrained as it pursued its crazed campaign to crush the world in its tentacles, or whatever else circumstances demanded.  The remarkable tale of doctrinal fanaticism from the 1940s to the ‘70s, which makes contemporary rhetoric seem rather moderate, is reviewed by James Peck in his highly revealing study of the national security culture, Washington’s China.

 

In later years, there were attempts to mimic the valiant deeds of the defenders of virtue from the two villainous global conquerors and their loyal slaves – for example, when the Gipper strapped on his cowboy boots and declared a National Emergency because Nicaraguan hordes were only two days from Harlingen Texas, though as he courageously informed the press, despite the tremendous odds “I refuse to give up. I remember a man named Winston Churchill who said, `Never give in. Never, never, never.’ So we won’t.” With consequences that need not be reviewed.

 

Even with the best of efforts, however, the attempts never were able to recapture the glorious days of Cold War I.  But now, at last, those heights might be within reach, as another implacable enemy bent on world conquest has arisen, which we must contain before it destroys us all: Iran.

 

Perhaps it’s a lift to the spirits to be able to recover those heady Cold War days when at least there was a legitimate force to contain, however dubious the pretexts and disgraceful the means.  But it is instructive to take a closer look at the contours of Cold War II as they are being designed by “the former Kremlinologists now running U.S. foreign policy, such as Rice and Gates” (Wright).

 

The task of containment is to establish “a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East,” Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper explain in the New York Times (July 31).  To contain Iran’s influence we must surround Iran with US and NATO ground forces, along with massive naval deployments in the Persian Gulf and of course incomparable air power and weapons of mass destruction.  And we must provide a huge flow of arms to what Condoleezza Rice calls “the forces of moderation and reform” in the region, the brutal tyrannies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, with particular munificence, Israel, by now virtually an adjunct of the militarized high-tech US economy.  All to contain Iran’s influence.  A daunting challenge indeed.

 

And daunting it is.  In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shi’ite population.  In an August visit to Teheran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad and other senior officials, and thanked Tehran for its “positive and constructive” role in improving security in Iraq, eliciting a sharp reprimand from President Bush, who “declares Teheran a regional peril and asserts the Iraqi leader must understand,” to quote the headline of the Los Angeles Times report on al-Maliki’s intellectual deficiencies.  A few days before, also greatly to Bush’s discomfiture, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washington’s favorite, described Iran as “a helper and a solution” in his country.[5]  Similar problems abound beyond Iran’s immediate neighbors.  In Lebanon, according to polls, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah “as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel,” Wright reports.  And in Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the US and Israel for the crime of voting “the wrong way,” another episode in “democracy promotion.”

 

But no matter.  The aim of US militancy and the arms flow to the moderates is to counter “what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran,” according to an unnamed senior U.S. government official – “everyone” being the technical term used to refer to Washington and its more loyal clients.[6]  Iran’s aggression consists in its being welcomed by many within the region, and allegedly supporting resistance to the US occupation of neighboring Iraq.

 

It’s likely, though little discussed, that a prime concern about Iran’s influence is to the East, where in mid-August “Russia and China today host Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of a Central Asian security club designed to counter U.S. influence in the region,” the business press reports.[7] The “security club” is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has been slowly taking shape in recent years.  Its membership includes not only the two giants Russia and China, but also the energy-rich Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.  Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was a guest of honor at the August meeting. “In another unwelcome development for the Americans, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also accepted an invitation to attend the summit,” another step its improvement of relations with Russia, particularly in energy, reversing a long-standing policy of isolation from Russia.  “Russia in May secured a deal to build a new pipeline to import more gas from Turkmenistan, bolstering its dominant hold on supplies to Europe and heading off a competing U.S.-backed plan that would bypass Russian territory.”[8]

 

Along with Iran, there are three other official observer states: India, Pakistan and Mongolia. Washington’s request for similar status was denied.  In 2005 the SCO called for a timetable for termination of any US military presence in Central Asia.  The participants at the August meeting flew to the Urals to attend the first joint Russia-China military exercises on Russian soil.

 

Association of Iran with the SCO extends its inroads into the Middle East, where China has been increasing trade and other relations with the jewel in the crown, Saudi Arabia.  There is an oppressed Shi’ite population in Saudi Arabia that is also susceptible to Iran’s influence – and happens to sit on most of Saudi oil.  About 40% of Middle East oil is reported to be heading East, not West.[9] As the flow Eastward increases, US control declines over this lever of world domination, a “stupendous source of strategic power,” as the State Department described Saudi oil 60 years ago.

 

In Cold War I, the Kremlin had imposed an iron curtain and built the Berlin Wall to contain Western influence.  In Cold War II, Wright reports, the former Kremlinologists framing policy are imposing a “green curtain” to bar Iranian influence.   In short, government-media doctrine is that the Iranian threat is rather similar to the Western threat that the Kremlin sought to contain, and the US is eagerly taking on the Kremlin’s role in the thrilling “new Cold War.”

 

All of this is presented without noticeable concern.  Nevertheless, the recognition that the US government is modeling itself on Stalin and his successors in the new Cold War must be arousing at least some flickers of embarrassment.  Perhaps that is how we can explain the ferocious Washington Post editorial announcing that Iran has escalated its aggressiveness to a Hot War: “the Revolutionary Guard, a radical state within Iran’s Islamic state, is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible.” The US must therefore “fight back,” the editors thunder, finding quite “puzzling…the murmurs of disapproval from European diplomats and others who say they favor using diplomacy and economic pressure, rather than military action, to rein in Iran,” even in the face of its outright aggression.  The evidence that Iran is waging war against the US is now conclusive.  After all, it comes from an administration that has never deceived the American people, even improving on the famous stellar honesty of its predecessors.

 

Suppose that for once Washington’s charges happen to be true, and Iran really is providing Shi’ite militias with roadside bombs that kill American forces, perhaps even making use of the some of the advanced weaponry lavishly provided to the Revolutionary Guard by Ronald Reagan in order to fund the illegal war against Nicaragua, under the pretext of arms for hostages (the number of hostages tripled during these endeavors).[10]  If the charges are true, then Iran could properly be charged with a minuscule fraction of the iniquity of the Reagan administration, which provided Stinger missiles and other high-tech military aid to the “insurgents” seeking to disrupt Soviet efforts to bring stability and justice to Afghanistan, as they saw it.  Perhaps Iran is even guilty of some of the crimes of the Roosevelt administration, which assisted terrorist partisans attacking peaceful and sovereign Vichy France in 1940-41, and had thus declared war on Germany even before Pearl Harbor.

 

One can pursue these questions further.  The CIA station chief in Pakistan in 1981, Howard Hart, reports that “I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: `Go kill Soviet soldiers’.  Imagine! I loved it.” Of course “the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan,” Tim Wiener writes in his history of the CIA, repeating the obvious.  But “it was a noble goal,” he writes.  Killing Russians with no concern for the fate of Afghans is a “noble goal.” But support for resistance to a US invasion and occupation would be a vile act and declaration of war.

 

Without irony, the Bush administration and the media charge that Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference. The evidence is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guard as a “specially designated global terrorist” force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorizing Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions. Watching in disbelief, much of the world asks whether the US military, invading and occupying Iran’s neighbors, might better merit this charge — or its Israeli client, now about to receive a huge increase in military aid to commemorate 40 years of harsh occupation and illegal settlement, and its fifth invasion of Lebanon a year ago.

 

It is instructive that Washington’s propaganda framework is reflexively accepted, apparently without notice, in US and other Western commentary and reporting, apart from the marginal fringe of what is called ‘the loony left.” What is considered “criticism” is skepticism as to whether all of Washington’s charges about Iranian aggression in Iraq are true.  It might be an interesting research project to see how closely the propaganda of Russia, Nazi Germany, and other aggressors and occupiers matched the standards of today’s liberal press and commentators..

 

The comparisons are of course unfair.  Unlike German and Russian occupiers, American forces are in Iraq by right, on the principle, too obvious even to enunciate, that the US owns the world.  Therefore, as a matter of elementary logic, the US cannot invade and occupy another country.  The US can only defend and liberate others.  No other category exists.  Predecessors, including the most monstrous, have commonly sworn by the same principle, but again there is an obvious difference: they were Wrong, and we are Right.  QED.

 

Another comparison comes to mind, which is studiously ignored when we are sternly admonished of the ominous consequences that might follow withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.  The preferred analogy is Indochina, highlighted in a shameful speech by the President on August 22.  That analogy can perhaps pass muster among those who have succeeded in effacing from their minds the record of US actions in Indochina, including the destruction of much of Vietnam and the murderous bombing of Laos and Cambodia as the US began its withdrawal from the wreckage of South Vietnam.  In Cambodia, the bombing was in accord with Kissinger’s genocidal orders: “anything that flies on anything that moves” – actions that drove “an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency [the Khmer Rouge] that had enjoyed relatively little support before the Kissinger-Nixon bombing was inaugurated,” as Cambodia specialists Owen Taylor and Ben Kiernan observe in a highly important study that passed virtually without notice, in which they reveal that the bombing was five times the incredible level reported earlier, greater than all allied bombing in World War II.  Completely suppressing all relevant facts, it is then possible for the President and many commentators to present Khmer Rouge crimes as a justification for continuing to devastate Iraq.

 

But although the grotesque Indochina analogy receives much attention, the obvious analogy is ignored: the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, which, as Soviet analysts predicted, led to shocking violence and destruction as the country was taken over by Reagan’s favorites, who amused themselves by such acts as throwing acid in the faces of women in Kabul they regarded as too liberated, and then virtually destroyed the city and much else, creating such havoc and terror that the population actually welcomed the Taliban.  That analogy could indeed be invoked without utter absurdity by advocates of  “staying the course,” but evidently it is best forgotten.

 

Under the heading “Secretary Rice’s Mideast mission: contain Iran,” the press reports Rice’s warning that Iran is “the single most important single-country challenge to…US interests in the Middle East.” That is a reasonable judgment.  Given the long-standing principle that Washington must do “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” Iran does pose a unique challenge, and it is natural that the task of containing Iranian influence should be a high priority.

 

As elsewhere, Bush administration rhetoric is relatively mild in this case.  For the Kennedy administration, “Latin America was the most dangerous area in the world” when there was a threat that the progressive Cheddi Jagan might win a free election in British Guiana, overturned by CIA shenanigans that handed the country over to the thuggish racist Forbes Burnham.[11] A few years earlier, Iraq was “the most dangerous place in the world” (CIA director Allen Dulles) after General Abdel Karim Qassim broke the Anglo-American condominium over Middle East oil, overthrowing the pro-US monarchy, which had been heavily infiltrated by the CIA.[12]  A primary concern was that Qassim might join Nasser, then the supreme Middle East devil, in using the incomparable energy resources of the Middle East for the domestic.  The issue for Washington was not so much access as control.  At the time and for many years after, Washington was purposely exhausting domestic oil resources in the interests of “national security,” meaning security for the profits of Texas oil men, like the failed entrepreneur who now sits in the Oval Office.  But as high-level planner George Kennan had explained well before, we cannot relax our guard when there is any interference with “protection of our resources” (which accidentally happen to be somewhere else).

 

Unquestionably, Iran’s government merits harsh condemnation, though it has not engaged in worldwide terror, subversion, and aggression, following the US model – which extends to today’s Iran as well, if ABC news is correct in reporting that the US is supporting Pakistan-based Jundullah, which is carrying out terrorist acts inside Iran.[13]  The sole act of aggression attributed to Iran is the conquest of two small islands in the Gulf – under Washington’s close ally the Shah.  In addition to internal repression – heightened, as Iranian dissidents regularly protest, by US militancy — the prospect that Iran might develop nuclear weapons also is deeply troubling.  Though Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy, no one – including the majority of Iranians – wants it to have nuclear weapons.  That would add to the threat to survival posed much more seriously by its near neighbors Pakistan, India, and Israel, all nuclear armed with the blessing of the US, which most of the world regards as the leading threat to world peace, for evident reasons.

 

Iran rejects US control of the Middle East, challenging fundamental policy doctrine, but it hardly poses a military threat. On the contrary, it has been the victim of outside powers for years: in recent memory, when the US and Britain overthrew its parliamentary government and installed a brutal tyrant in 1953, and when the US supported Saddam Hussein’s murderous invasion, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many with chemical weapons, without the “international community” lifting a finger – something that Iranians do not forget as easily as the perpetrators.  And then under severe sanctions as a punishment for disobedience.

 

Israel regards Iran as a threat. Israel seeks to dominate the region with no interference, and Iran might be some slight counterbalance, while also supporting domestic forces that do not bend to Israel’s will. It may, however, be useful to bear in mind that Hamas has accepted the international consensus on a two-state settlement on the international border, and Hezbollah, along with Iran, has made clear that it would accept any outcome approved by Palestinians, leaving the US and Israel isolated in their traditional rejectionism.[14]

 

But Iran is hardly a military threat to Israel. And whatever threat there might be could be overcome if the US would accept the view of the great majority of its own citizens and of Iranians and permit the Middle East to become a nuclear-weapons free zone, including Iran and Israel, and US forces deployed there.  One may also recall that UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, to which Washington appeals when convenient, calls for “establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.”

 

It is widely recognized that use of military force in Iran would risk blowing up the entire region, with untold consequences beyond. We know from polls that in the surrounding countries, where the Iranian government is hardly popular — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan — nevertheless large majorities prefer even a nuclear-armed Iran to any form of military action against it.

 

The rhetoric about Iran has escalated to the point where both political parties and practically the whole US press accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that “all options are on the table,” to quote Hillary Clinton and everybody else, possibly even nuclear weapons. “All options on the table” means that Washington threatens war.

 

The UN Charter outlaws “the threat or use of force.” The United States, which has chosen to become an outlaw state, disregards international laws and norms. We’re allowed to threaten anybody we want — and to attack anyone we choose.

 

Washington‘s feverish new Cold War “containment” policy has spread to Europe. Washington intends to install a “missile defense system” in the Czech Republic and Poland, marketed to Europe as a shield against Iranian missiles. Even if Iran had nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the chances of its using them to attack Europe are perhaps on a par with the chances of Europe’s being hit by an asteroid, so perhaps Europe would do as well to invest in an asteroid defense system. Furthermore, if Iran were to indicate the slightest intention of aiming a missile at Europe or Israel, the country would be vaporized.

 

Of course, Russian planners are gravely upset by the shield proposal.  We can imagine how the US would respond if a Russian anti-missile system were erected in Canada.  The Russians have good reason to regard an anti-missile system as part of a first-strike weapon against them.  It is generally understood that such a system could never block a first strike, but it could conceivably impede a retaliatory strike. On all sides, “missile defense” is therefore understood to be a first-strike weapon, eliminating a deterrent to attack.  And a small initial installation in Eastern Europe could easily be a base for later expansion.  Even more obviously, the only military function of such a system with regard to Iran, the declared aim, would be to bar an Iranian deterrent to US or Israel aggression.

 

Not surprisingly, in reaction to the “missile defense” plans, Russia has resorted to its own dangerous gestures, including the recent decision to renew long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers after a 15-year hiatus, in one recent case near the US military base on Guam.  These actions reflect Russia’s anger “over what it has called American and NATO aggressiveness, including plans for a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, analysts said” (Andrew Kramer, NYT).[15]

 

The shield ratchets the threat of war a few notches higher, in the Middle East and elsewhere, with incalculable consequences, and the potential for a terminal nuclear war. The immediate fear is that by accident or design, Washington’s war planners or their Israeli surrogate might decide to escalate their Cold War II into a hot one – in this case a real hot war.

 

 

 




[1] Wright, WP, July 29 07

[2] Correspondent Michael Wines, NYT, June 13, 1999.  Doolittle report, Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA, Doubleday 2007

[3] Ibid., 77.

[4] Ibid., 180.

[5] Paul Richter, LAT, Aug. 10, 2007.  Karzai, CNN, Aug. 5, 2007.

[6] Robin Wright, “U.S. Plans New Arms Sales to Gulf Allies,” WP, July 28, 2007.

[7] Henry Meyer, Bloomberg, Aug. 16, 2007.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hiro

[10] Weiner

[11] Schmitz, Weiner.

[12] Weiner.  Failed States.

[13] Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, “ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran,” April 3, 2007; Ross and Richard Esposito, ABC, “Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran,” May 22, 2007.

[14] On Iran, see Gilbert Achcar, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Shalom, Perilous Power (Paradigm, 2007), and Ervand Abrahamian, in David Barsamian, ed., Targeting Iran (City Lights, 2007).  On Hamas, among many similar statements see the article by Hamas’s most militant leader, Khalid Mish’al, “Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice,” Guardian, February 13, 2007.  Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly taken the same position.  See among others Irene Gendzier, Assaf Kfoury, and Fawwaz Traboulsi, eds., Inside Lebanon (Monthly Review, 2007).

[15] Kramer, “Recalling Cold War, Russia Resumes Long-Range Sorties,” Aug. 18,  2007.

US-Iran Policy Dynamics By Noam Chomsky

August 23, 2007

US-Iran Policy Dynamics By Noam Chomsky


By Noam Chomsky
08/22/07 “ICH

IN CRUDE and brutal societies, the Party Line is publicly proclaimed, and it must be obeyed, or else. What you believe is your own business, of lesser concern. In societies where the state has lost the capacity to control by force, the Party Line is not proclaimed. Rather, it is presupposed, and then vigorous debate is encouraged within the limits imposed by unstated doctrinal orthodoxy.

The crude system leads to natural disbelief. The sophisticated variant gives the impression of openness and freedom, and serves to instill the Party Line as beyond question, even beyond thought, like the air we breathe. In the ever more precarious standoff between Washington and Teheran, one Party Line confronts another. Among the well-known immediate victims are the Iranian-American detainees Parnaz Azima, Haleh Esfandiari, Ali Shakeri and Kian Tajbakhsh. But the whole world is held hostage to the US-Iran conflict, where, after all, the stakes are nuclear.

Unsurprisingly, President Bush’s announcement of a “surge” in Iraq — in reaction to the call of most Americans for steps toward withdrawal, and the even stronger demands of the (irrelevant) Iraqis — was accompanied by ominous leaks about Iranian-based fighters and Iranian-made IEDS in Iraq aimed at disrupting Washington’s mission to gain victory, which is (by definition) noble.

Then followed the predictable debate: The hawks say we have to take violent measures against such outside interference in Iraq. The doves counter that we must make sure the evidence is compelling. The entire debate can proceed without absurdity only on the tacit assumption that we own the world. Therefore interference is limited to those who impede our objectives in a country that we invaded and occupy.

What are the plans of the increasingly desperate clique that narrowly holds political power in the United States? Reports of threatening, off-the-record statements by staffers for Vice-President Cheney have heightened fears of an expanded war. “You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say, ‘Let’s go and bomb Iran,”‘ Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the BBC last month.

“I wake up every morning and see 100 Iraqis, innocent civilians, are dying.”

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as against the “new crazies,” is supposedly pursuing the diplomatic track with Teheran. But the Party Line holds, unchanged. In April, Rice spoke about what she would say if she encountered her Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki at the international conference on Iraq at Sharm el Sheikh. “What do we need to do? It’s quite obvious,” Rice said. “Stop the flow of arms to foreign fighters; stop the flow of foreign fighters across the borders.” She is referring, of course, to Iranian fighters and arms. US fighters and arms are not “foreign” in Iraq. Or anywhere. The tacit premise underlying her comment, and virtually all public discussion about Iraq (and beyond) is that we own the world.

Do we not have the right to invade and destroy a foreign country? Of course we do. That’s a given. The only question is: Will the surge work? Or some other tactic? Perhaps this catastrophe is costing us too much. And those are the limits of the debates among the presidential candidates, the Congress and the media, with rare exceptions. That’s part of the reason the debates are so inconclusive. The basic issues are not discussable.

Doubtless Teheran merits harsh condemnation, certainly for severe domestic repression and the inflammatory rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who has little to do with foreign affairs). It is, however, useful to ask how Washington would act if Iran had invaded and occupied Canada and Mexico, overthrown the governments there, slaughtered scores of thousands of people, deployed major naval forces in the Caribbean and issued credible threats to destroy the United States if it did not immediately terminate its nuclear energy programs (and weapons). Would we watch quietly? After the United States invaded Iraq, “Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy,” said Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld.

Surely no sane person wants Iran (or anyone) to develop nuclear weapons. A reasonable solution to the crisis would permit Iran to develop nuclear energy, in accord with its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but not nuclear weapons. Is that outcome feasible? It would be, under one condition: that the United States and Iran were functioning democratic societies, in which public opinion has a significant impact on public policy, overcoming the huge gulf that now exists on many critical issues, including this one.

That reasonable solution has overwhelming support among Iranians and Americans, who agree quite generally on nuclear issues, according to recent polls by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, at the University of Maryland. The Iranian-American consensus extends to complete elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere (82 per cent of Americans), and if that cannot be achieved, a “nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that would include Islamic countries and Israel (71 per cent of Americans).” To 75 per cent of Americans, it is better to build relations with Iran rather than use threats of force.

These facts suggest a possible way to prevent the current crisis from exploding, perhaps even to World War III, as predicted by British military historian Correlli Barnett. That awesome threat might be averted by pursuing a familiar proposal: democracy promotion — at home, where it is badly needed. Although we cannot carry out the project directly in Iran, we can act to improve the prospects for the courageous reformers and oppositionists who are seeking to achieve just that. They include people like Saeed Hajjarian, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and Akbar Ganji, and those who as usual remain nameless, among them labour activists.

We can improve the prospects for democracy promotion in Iran by sharply reversing state policy here so that it reflects popular opinion. That would entail withdrawing the threats that are a gift to the Iranian hardliners and are bitterly condemned for that reason by Iranians truly concerned with democracy promotion. We can act to open some space for those who are seeking to overthrow the reactionary and repressive theocracy from within, instead of undermining their efforts by threats and aggressive militarism.

Democracy promotion, while no panacea, would be a useful step towards helping the United States become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international order (to adopt the term used for adversaries), instead of being an object of fear and dislike throughout much of the world. Apart from being a value in itself, a functioning democracy at home holds promise for a simple recognition that we don’t own the world, we share it.

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance.


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