Archive for October, 2007

New Cold War: Great Game for Supremacy in the New World Order? by Andrew G. Marshall

October 31, 2007

New Cold War: Great Game for Supremacy in the New World Order? by Andrew G. Marshall

Dandelion Salad

by Andrew G. Marshall
Global Research, October 31, 2007

Imperial Playground:

The Story of Iran in Recent History

PART 4:

There has been much talk in recent months of a return to the Cold War, as increasingly there is growing disparities and tensing relations between the West, namely the Anglo-Americans, and the Russian Federation, the former Soviet Union, as well as China. ‘Is the Cold War Back?’ as the headline of a Reuters article asked, stating, “Russia has revived its Soviet-era practice of continuous long-range bomber patrols, sending 14 aircraft on such missions in the latest in a series of moves apparently designed to show off Russia’s new-found assertiveness,” and that “Russia’s military is now receiving a major injection of cash to modernise ageing equipment — including new planes — after years of under-funding and neglect since the Soviet Union ceased to exist.”1 Recent plans made public that the United States is building missile shields in Eastern European countries has sparked equal controversy over a revival of a Cold War. As the Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos stated in late August of 2007, “That the United States are installing a defense shield in eastern Europe is a provocation in my view,” and that, “The U.S. has chosen the wrong path in my opinion. There is no point in building up a missile defense shield in Europe. That only unnecessarily rekindles old Cold War debates.”2 The article continued in saying, “The United States plans to deploy elements of its shield — designed to intercept and destroy missiles from ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea — in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia sees the initiative near its borders as a threat to its own security. On Tuesday Russia’s military chief told the Czech Republic that hosting the shield would be a ‘big mistake’. Darabos said he saw no danger from Iranian long range missiles and the United States should try for a different solution.”

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is largely controlled by the Anglo-American establishment, has also been stepping up Cold War actions. NATO was created as a treaty during the early years of the Cold War as a method of forming an alliance against the Communist powers of the world, which had a parallel treaty organization, known as the Warsaw Pact. So if the near entire life span of this organization was in containing communist countries, namely the Soviet Union, it does not seem unlikely that it would return to what it does best. As the Sunday Telegraph reported in late August of 2007, “NATO vessels are closely monitoring the sea trials of Russia’s latest submarine, following Moscow’s increasingly provocative tests of Western airspace. In the latest twist to worsening East-West relations, Nato submarines and surface ships, which may include Royal Navy vessels, are trying to gather information on the new Amur class boat being tested in the Baltic,” and that, “The greater-than-normal scrutiny is, in part, a response to Russia’s decision to resume long-range bomber flights close to Nato airspace which has revived memories of Cold War confrontation between the two blocs,” and it further mentioned that, “Twice this summer, Russian Tu-95 nuclear bombers have been spotted heading towards British airspace off Scotland, prompting the RAF [Royal Air Force] to send intercepting aircraft to warn them off. On another occasion, Russian planes came within striking distance of the US Pacific airbase of Guam.”3

The article continues in explaining, “Apart from the threat it [the Russian submarine] poses as part of the Russian navy, Moscow is believed to have won contracts to export it to other states such as Venezuela, which is challenging the United States’ influence in Latin America. Russia also exports weapons to Iran and Sudan, although there is no sign yet that either country plans to buy an Amur class submarine. The fact that President Vladimir Putin’s regime is testing a powerful new addition to the Russian navy – after its fleet went through years of decline – shows a new military build-up is underway.” The article further stated, “Russia’s neighbour Georgia claimed yesterday that it, too, was being intimidated by Moscow. Russian jets, the government said, had twice entered its airspace this week. Earlier this month, a Russian warplane had fired a missile at a village on its territory. But Russia protested its innocence yesterday, accusing Georgia of inventing the charge to stir up tensions. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said that the bomb fragments produced as evidence were of foreign origin.”

On this growing issue between Russia and Georgia, Press TV reported that, “Georgia’s aim to accelerate its joining the NATO by playing risky power games with Russia can stretch Moscow’s patience too far, observers say. ‘There is a threat’ that rising tensions between the two former Soviet republics could provoke a confrontation, said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian defense analyst,” and that, “During the 2006 winter, Russian gas supplies to Georgia were cut off for prolonged repairs on a pipeline. A few months later, Russia banned the import of wine and mineral water from Georgia. Then, in September 2006, Georgia arrested four Russian officers charged for spying. This prompted Russia to suspend all direct transport and postal links, as well as to deport hundreds of Georgian immigrants from Russia. Russia has also given political and economic backing to two Georgian separatist regions.”4

It was also reported that, “The Russian ambassador to the Court of St James’s rejects US statements over the controversial Missile Defense project to be exclusively against Iran. ‘There is no convincing explanation for the installation of the US Missile Defense in eastern Asia,’ said Yuri Viktorovich Fedotov in an interview with BBC Radio. ‘Despite what US calls a missile defense shield against Iran, the project is a threat for Russia and other countries,’ Fedotov added,” and that “The statements are made as recent diplomatic conflict between Britain and Russia over the missile defense project and the verbal war for the extradition of a Russian agent accused of being involved in the murder of Alexander [Litvinenko] in London has escalated.”5

In early September of 2007, it was reported by the BBC that, “The UK’s Royal Air Force has launched fighter jets to intercept eight Russian military planes flying in airspace patrolled by Nato, UK officials say. Four RAF F3 Tornado aircraft were scrambled in response to the Russian action, the UK’s defence ministry said. The Russian planes – long-range bombers – had earlier been followed by Norwegian F16 jets.”6 Also in early September it was reported by the Financial Times that, “The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American –officials. The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack. Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army [of China].”7

As well as this, it was reported that, “Taiwan’s cabinet agreed Wednesday to hike military spending by nearly 15 percent in next year’s budget in an apparent signal of its resolve against rival China. Under a draft budget, which has to be confirmed by parliament, the defence ministry is setting aside 345.9 billion Taiwan dollars (10.5 billion US), up 44.6 billion Taiwan dollars, the cabinet said in a statement,” and that, “The rise in spending is mainly aimed at financing procurement of military equipment, including US-made P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft. Washington, the island’s leading arms supplier despite not having formal diplomatic ties, has repeatedly asked Taipei to display its determination to defend itself by boosting military spending. The Chinese government had in May announced the biggest increase in its military budget in recent years, saying its spending in 2007 would rise 17.8 percent from last year to 350.9 billion yuan (about 45 billion dollars),” and the article continued in stating, “Reunification with Taiwan is one of China’s long-term strategic objectives, and analysts have said Beijing is beefing up its military partly to enable it to take the island back by force if necessary. China and Taiwan have been separated since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory. Taiwan has been led since the turn of the century by independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian, exacerbating fears in Beijing that the island could break away for good.”8

The above mentioned issue is extremely important, as it was reported back in 2005 by the Financial Times that, “China is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the US if it is attacked by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan, a Chinese general said on Thursday. ‘If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,’ said General Zhu Chenghu. Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China’s definition of its territory included warships and aircraft,” and the General continued in saying, “If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond,” as well as stating, “We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destrucion of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”9 The article further mentioned, “Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged ‘hawk’ who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade.” So, essentially what this is suggesting is that in the case that China attempts to take back Taiwan, which it consistently threatens to do, even if it requires military force, and the US responds militarily in any way, which they have said they would in such an event, even if the act is firing on a Chinese ship, then the response of China would be to engage in nuclear war with the United States.

In early September of 2007, it was reported by the BBC that, “Britain has privately complained to Beijing that Chinese-made weapons are being used by the Taleban to attack British troops in Afghanistan. The BBC has been told that on several occasions Chinese arms have been recovered after attacks on British and American troops by Afghan insurgents.”10

Russia has extremely close ties with Iran, as it was reported back in 2005 that, “Russia has agreed to sell more than $1 billion worth of missiles and other defense systems to Iran,” and that, “The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies cited unidentified sources in the Russian military-industrial complex as saying that Russian and Iranian officials had signed contracts in November that would send up to 30 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran over the next two years.”11 In January of 2007, the Jerusalem Post reported that, “Voicing extreme concern over Russia’s recent sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, senior diplomatic and defense officials warned Moscow Tuesday that the deal could have serious security implications that would even ‘get back to Russia.’ Senior officials in Jerusalem said they ‘were not pleased’ with the sale of the anti-aircraft missiles, but that Russia was a sovereign country and they could not intervene. They did, however, issue a warning: ‘We hope they understand that this is a threat that could come back to them as well.’ Earlier Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Moscow had sent air defense missiles to Teheran, the first high-level confirmation that their delivery took place despite US complaints. Ivanov did not specify how many missile systems had been delivered.”12

On top of military agreements, Russia and Iran also have close ties economically and politically, and Russia is even helping Iran build a nuclear power plant. It was reported in September of 2007 that, “The Bushehr nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Iran will be commissioned no earlier than the fall of 2008, a source in the Russian nuclear sector said. The date for commissioning the $1 billion project in the south of the country, the Islamic Republic’s first NPP built by Russia, was postponed due to delays in Iranian payments to the contractor.”13 So, clearly, Russia has vested interests inside Iran, and has even gone so far as to help in building a nuclear power plant inside Iran, in a sign of a growing relationship between the two countries, and a very apparent signal that Russia is supporting Iran’s efforts to nuclear power, thusly, taking a position in opposition to the Anglo-American Alliance, and even the Franco-German Entente.

This is evident in as much as Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, back in 2006 had advised “to act without delay to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, saying that Iran had ‘blatantly crossed the line’,” and that “The chancellor compared Iran’s nuclear policy to the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany, warning that in the past the nations of the world refused to take a stance against concrete threats, enabling some of history’s greatest catastrophes.”14 The newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated in August of 2007, that, “a diplomatic push by the world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program was the only alternative to ‘an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran’,” and that, “In his first major foreign policy speech, Sarkozy emphasized his existing foreign policy priorities, such as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union and pushing for a new Mediterranean Union that he hopes will include Ankara,” and the article went on to report that, “Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities.” The article then quoted Sarkozy as saying, “This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” and he continued, “Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality,” of which the article continued, “Energy disputes between Russia and neighbors such as Belarus and Ukraine have raised doubts in Europe about Moscow’s reliability as a gas exporter. It supplies Europe, via its neighbors, with around a quarter of its gas demands. Sarkozy had warm words for the United States, saying friendship between the two countries was important. But he said he felt free to disagree with American policies, highlighting what he called a lack of leadership on the environment.”15 I find it comical that Sarkozy talks of Russia saying that, “When one is a great power, one should not be brutal,” yet he had ‘warm words’ for the US, of which I know no other country that is so brutal as a great power.

The Washington Post reported in early September of 2007, that, “U.S. plans to site parts of a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are ‘politically dangerous,’ former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Saturday. ‘From my point of view the missile defense system is politically dangerous. It is perceived as an attempt to isolate Russia, which is not in Europe’s political interests,’ said Schroeder, who is a personal friend of President Vladimir Putin,” and that, “The United States wants to base interceptor missiles and a radar system in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying it needs protection against missile attacks from what it terms ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea. Russia has reacted furiously, saying the plan will upset a delicate strategic balance between major powers and poses a threat to its own security. Schroeder said the plan was not in the European Union’s interests either.” The article continued, “Although trade and investment are booming, diplomatic relations between Russia and the European Union have deteriorated sharply over the past year. This is partly because of Russia’s squabbles with the Union’s new members such as Poland, which were once part of the Soviet bloc and are now wary of Moscow’s rising influence.”16

Remember Zbigniew Brzezinski? The Trilateral Commission founder, architect of the Afghan-Soviet War and ‘Arc of Crisis’ Strategy, who wrote the geo-strategic blueprint for American global hegemony, The Grand Chessboard, in which he stated, “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an ‘antihegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc.”17 Well, within ten years of writing his book, Brzezinski’s predictions became quite true, as an alternative strategic bloc to the NATO countries has been set up, called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO]. It was officially founded in 2001 [after initial agreements in 1996] by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2006, it was reported that, “Six member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Wednesday agreed to stage a joint anti-terror military exercise in 2007 in Russia, according to a joint communiqué,” and that, “Except Uzbekistan, other five countries of the SCO held their first-ever joint anti-terror exercise within the framework of the SCO in August 2003, with the first phase in Kazakhstan and the second in China. As new threats and challenges, such as terrorism, separatism, extremism and cross-border crimes, are becoming increasingly prominent, the regional and international cooperation are required.”18

In 2003, it was reported that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), “signed a multilateral economic cooperation Framework Agreement in Beijing on 23 September to ‘deepen’ their mutual economic connections and ‘improve the investment environment’. At the meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made three proposals. He wanted members to set as a long-term objective the establishment of a free trade area within the SCO; elaborate a series of more immediate measures such as improving the flow of goods across the member-states and reducing non-tariff barriers such as customs, quarantine, standards and transport services; and create large projects on economic and technological cooperation, giving priority to those in transportation, energy, telecommunication, agriculture, home appliances, light industry and textiles.”19

Apart from the main members of the SCO, there are also countries which are permitted Observer Status, meaning they won’t take part in the war games, but will be official observers of them and still develop closer ties with the SCO. As the Guardian reported in 2006, “At the one day annual summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on June 15, more limelight fell on the leader of an observer country than on any of the main participants. That figure happened to be the controversial president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite the lowly observer status accorded to his country, Ahmadinejad went on to publicly invite the SCO members to a meeting in Tehran to discuss energy exploration and development in the region. And the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, proposed that the SCO should form an ‘energy club’. While making a plea that his country should be accorded full membership of the SCO, the Pakistani president, Parvez Musharraf, highlighted the geo-strategic position of his country as an energy and trade corridor for SCO members. ‘Pakistan provides a natural link between the SCO states to connect the Eurasian heartland with the Arabian Sea and South Asia,’ he said,” and the article continued, “Founded in 1996 primarily to settle frontier problems between China and its post-Soviet neighbors – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan – the SCO expanded three years later to include Uzbekistan, which does not share common borders with China or Russia, the two countries at the core of the SCO. Since then SCO has developed as an organization concerned with regional security, thus focusing on counter-terrorism, defense, and energy cooperation. Energy-hungry China has its eyes fixed on the large oil and gas reserves that Russia and Kazakhstan possess, and even the modest gas reserves of Uzbekistan.” The article further mentioned that, “Iran applied for full membership; as did India,” as well as the fact that, “Last year [2005] when the SCO accorded observer status to four countries, it rejected a similar request from the United States,” and it continued, “The rising importance and coherence of the SCO worries Washington – as well as its closest Asian ally, Japan. ‘The SCO is becoming a rival block to the US alliance,’ said a senior Japanese official recently. ‘It does not share our values. We are watching it very closely’.”20

Further, it was reported in April of 2006 by the Asia Times that, “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO’s decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15,” and that, “Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion ‘could make the world more fair’. And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia ‘gas-and-oil arc’ by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran’s intention to raise the issue of his country’s nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.”21 Although, to this day, Iran’s membership has not been made official, making it a de-facto member of the SCO, much in the same sense that Israel is a de-facto member of NATO.22

In August of 2007, it was reported that, “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the proposed US missile defense shield in central Europe would pose a threat to Asia. At a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Ahmadinejad said such a plan goes beyond threatening one country and it is a source of concern for most of the continent. Washington is planning to station a radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. Ahmadinejad added the six SCO member states, including China, are among those countries who are threatened by the US plan. He also criticized the US military attack on Iraq, which has destabilized the entire region. Iran has observer status in the SCO, which groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.”23

As for the relationship between China and Iran, it was reported in 2006 that, “Chinese President Hu Jintao called Friday for closer ties with Iran as he met his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the first time, while the United States followed events in Shanghai warily,” and that, “China and Iran have long had close economic ties, especially in the oil and gas fields, and are in negotiations over an energy deal that was tentatively inked in 2004 and could be worth more than 100 billion dollars. As part of the initial memorandum of understanding, Sinopec, China’s largest refiner, would buy 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas over 25 years, which alone could be worth more than 100 billion dollars. However, despite a series of Chinese delegations going to Tehran, the deal has yet to be finalized. Ahmadinejad arrived in China on Wednesday to participate in the leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional forum that is increasingly being seen as a counterweight to US influence in Central Asia.”24

As we can see, this is not simply a strategy of Anglo-American interests at play in the region, as it is always necessary to take a look at the broader geopolitical implications of this region, especially in relation to the European Union, dominated by the Franco-German Entente, and most notably Russia and China. A competition for control of the region is very much underway, as whomever, or whichever powers control Central Eurasia (the Middle East and Central Asia); those same powers will then have control over the world’s primary oil and gas reserves and transportation, and thusly, will exert hegemonic influence over the entire world. With Russia, increasingly gaining strength and influence like never before since the fall of the Soviet Union, China, a rising world power whose thirst and demand for oil is the fastest growing in the world and whose future as a great power depends upon getting its hands on such resources, and with the European Union, a close ally of the Anglo-American Alliance, yet still has its own interests at heart so it, too, is increasingly attempting a relationship with Russia, which has massive natural gas reserves itself. The EU hopes to balance its relationships, so as to always remain on the winning end, however, as time goes forward, it may have to choose sides. Relations between the West, especially the Anglo-Americans, and the former Soviet Union grow tense, the EU may be caught in the middle and China forced to make strategic alliances.

It is clear that future military operations in Central Asia and the Middle East will not be like the previous occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, whereas Afghanistan remains under NATO control (the Anglo-American Alliance in collaboration with the Franco-German entente), and Iraq under Anglo-American occupation, but with little more than rhetorical opposition from observing countries around the world. The world accepted the occupation of Afghanistan under the guise of retribution for the 9/11 attacks, and the world stood by as Iraq was put under imperial control. But now the pieces have been set, the world sees the strategy, even though the general public may not, and other great powers have their fates vested in the region, such as Russia, China, the EU and most of the world at large, so to stand idly by now and do nothing as Anglo-American imperial expansion envelopes the entire region would be suicidal. It is in the interest of survival for Russia, China and the EU to maintain influence and control in the region. To do this, each will have to make strategic alliances, as is currently being done.

These activities have caused recent exclamations of a return to the Cold War era, however, I see it as something much more sinister and dangerous. Remember, the Cold War was referred to as “Cold” because it involved no actual fighting between the two main enemies, the United States and the USSR, or the NATO countries against the Warsaw Pact countries. In actuality, I would argue that what we are seeing take place is in fact a return not to the Cold War, but to the Great Game, which was the competition between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia from the early 1800s arguably up until the end of World War 2, when the Cold War began. One of the major theaters of war between Britain and Russia during the Great Game was Afghanistan, where the first Anglo-Afghan War began in 1838, the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878, a brief alliance occurred between Russia and Britain in the early 20th Century, then the Third Anglo-Afghan War occurred in 1919, otherwise known as the second phase of the Great Game. During the Cold War, or the third phase of the Great Game, Afghanistan was the major theater of operations between the United States (Anglo-Americans) and Russia (Soviet Union) from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, ultimately leading to a collapse of the Soviet Union and an end to the ‘Cold War’. Now, after another brief alliance between the Anglo-American Alliance and Russia, just as occurred in the early years of the previous century starting in 1907, leading up to World War 1, it seems that now, in 2007, the fourth phase of this 200-year long Great Game for dominance over Central Asia has begun. Now made all the more dangerous with other great power interests such as the European Union and rising China, not to mention the existence and discussion of the use of nuclear weapons.

Rising Tensions and Quiet Mentions of War

Lately, there has been a significant increase in tensions between the West, predominantly the Anglo-Americans and Iran, and its respective allies, namely, Syria. These escalations in tension and conflict suggest a rapid strategy of progression to an all out war on the Islamic Republic of Iran, and possibly a wider array of countries in the region, leading to a full region-wide war.

In late August of 2007, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, “The White House’s plans to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organisation are intended to give the Bush administration cover if it launches military strikes on the Islamic republic, according to a prominent former CIA officer. Robert Baer, who was a high-ranking operative in the Middle East, said last week that senior government officials had told him the administration was preparing for air strikes on the guards’ bases and probably also on Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next six months,” and the article continues, “But among President George W Bush’s closest advisers, there is a fierce debate about whether to take unilateral military action independently of any UN security council moves. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set on diplomacy, Vice-President Dick Cheney is understood to favour air strikes. The justification for any attack, according to Mr Baer, would be claims – denied by Iran – that the guards are responsible for the sophisticated armour-penetrating improvised explosive devices that are exacting a heavy toll on US forces in Iraq.”25

On September 2, 2007, the Sunday Times reported that, “The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for ‘pinprick strikes’ against Iran’s nuclear facilities. ‘They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military’,” and it continued, “President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East ‘under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust’. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran ‘before it is too late’.”26

A September 3 article in the Sunday Telegraph stated, “In a nondescript room, two blocks from the American Capitol building, a group of Bush administration staffers is gathered to consider the gravest threat their government has faced this century: the testing of a nuclear weapon by Iran. The United States, no longer prepared to tolerate the risk that Iranian nuclear weapons will be used against Israel, or passed to terrorists, has already launched a bombing campaign to destroy known Iranian nuclear sites, air bases and air defence sites. Iran has retaliated by cutting off oil to America and its allies, blockading the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf bottleneck, and sanctioned an uprising by Shia militias in southern Iraq that has shut down 60 per cent of Iraq’s oil exports. The job of the officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy, who have gathered in an office just off Massachusetts Avenue, behind the rail terminus, Union Station, is to prevent a spike in oil prices that will pitch the world’s economy into a catastrophic spin.” The article then said, “The good news is that this was a war game; for those who fear war with Iran, the less happy news is that the officials were real. The simulation, which took four months, was run by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with close links to the White House. Its conclusions, drawn up last month and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, have been passed on to military and civilian planners charged with drawing up plans for confronting Iran. News that elements of the American government are working in earnest on how to deal with the fallout of an attack on Iran come at a tense moment.”27

A report in the Sunday Telegraph stated that, “Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail. 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,” and that, “Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action. 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 article continued, “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. Senior officials believe Mr Bush’s inner circle has decided he does not want to leave office without first ensuring that Iran is not capable of developing a nuclear weapon.”28

The New Yorker Magazine reported in late August of 2007 that, “If there were a threat level on the possibility of war with Iran, it might have just gone up to orange. Barnett Rubin, the highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University, has written an account of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington,” which revealed that, “They [the source’s institution] have ‘instructions’ (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President [Dick Cheney] to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty’,” and it continued stating, “It follows the pattern of the P.R. campaign that started around this time in 2002 and led to the Iraq war. The President’s rhetoric on Iran has been nothing short of bellicose lately, warning of ‘the shadow of a nuclear holocaust’.”29

On September 10, Reuters reported that, “The Pentagon is preparing to build a military base near the Iraq-Iran border to try to curtail the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday in its online edition. Quoting Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the Journal said the Pentagon also plans to build fortified checkpoints on major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, and install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between the two countries.”30 On the same day, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, “Iran has established a sophisticated spying operation at the head of the Arabian Gulf in a move which has significantly heightened tensions in its standoff with the United States. The operation, masterminded by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, includes the construction of a high-tech spying post close to the point where Iranian forces kidnapped 15 British naval personnel in March. The move has forced British and American commanders to divert resources away from protecting oil platforms in the Gulf from terrorist attack and into countering the new Iranian threat,” and it continued, “The US military says that the spying post, built on the foundations of a crane platform sunk during the Iran-Iraq war, is equipped with radar, cameras and forward facing infra-red devices to track the movement of coalition naval forces and commercial shipping in the northern Arabian Gulf. Commanders fear that one of the main purposes of the Iranian operation is to enable the Revolutionary Guard to intercept more coalition vessels moving through the disputed waters near the mouth of the Shatt al Arab waterway south of the Iraqi city of Basra.”31

Incidentally, two days later, Raw Story ran an article stating, “As tensions between the United States and Iran increases, military action along the Iran-Iraq border intensifies. The latest moves come from America’s primary ally in its invasion of Iraq: Britain. Ostensibly to guard against importation of Iranian weapons and fighters targeting Western troops in Iraq, the UK is sending up to 350 troops to the Iranian border instead of bringing them home, The Independent of London reports Wednesday.” This follows much discussion recently that the UK, under the new unelected Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, leaving the US alone. In fact, the announcement had been made that British troops were to be returning home from Basra, the British-controlled Iraqi city, and as Raw Story pointed out, “The troop move was requested by US commanders, the paper says, and it will delay — perhaps indefinitely — the homecoming of 250 British troops who were told just days ago that they would be returning to the UK as part of a drawdown of forces in Iraq,” and that “Prime Minister Gordon Brown initiated the drawdown, and about 500 British troops completed their withdrawal from Basra Palace, their last remaining base in the city, to an airport on the city’s outskirts. The move was expected to be the final stage in Britain’s complete extraction from Iraq. Wednesday’s report follows on the heels of news that US troops would be establishing a base on the border to guard against Iranian-imported weapons.

Tensions between the US and Iran have gone from bad to dismal in recent years, with some fearing all-out war will erupt between the two countries, and the top US commander in Iraq has refused to rule out that possibility. US Army Gen. David Petraeus demurred Tuesday when he was asked by Sen. Joseph Lieberman whether the war should be expanded ‘in Iranian territory.’ And Petraeus ‘strongly implied’ that action against Iran would be necessary soon, The Independent reported.” On top of this, it was further pointed out that, “Along with British and US troops, Georgia recently sent about 1,200 extra troops to Iraq to patrol the border with Iran.”32

Further, Press TV reported that, “Britain is planning to increase its naval presence in the Persian Gulf by next year, a top British naval commander in the area has revealed. Deputy Combined Force Commander Royal Navy Commodore Keith Winstanley said Monday that Britain has a range of capabilities deployed at various times in the region ranging between submarines, frigates, and destroyers, and that it plans to increase its naval presence by 2008,” and that, “Winstanley, speaking onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, added that strategic and economic interests had brought about a policy of engagement by Britain in the region,” and the article said at the end, “The last time there were active mine counter-measures in the region was in March of 2003,”33 which, coincidentally, was the same month that the war in Iraq began.

Not only are the Anglo-Americans fully on board and preparing for a possible attack on Iran, but even the Franco-German Entente seems to be steadily leaning that direction. French President Nicholas Sarkozy made headlines recently when he “called Iran’s nuclear ambition the world’s most dangerous problem,” and further, “raised the possibility that the country could be bombed if it persisted in building an atomic weapon,” as reported by the Sunday Times. The article continued, “The biggest challenge to the world was the avoidance of conflict between Islam and the West, President Sarkozy told the annual gathering of French ambassadors. Iran was the crossroads of the Middle East’s troubles and its nuclear aims ‘are without doubt the most serious crisis that weighs today on the international scene,” and that, “A nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and the world must continue to tighten sanctions while offering incentives to Tehran to halt weapons development, he said. ‘This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,’ he said. He did not say who would carry out such an attack, which has been suggested by policy experts in Israel and the US.”34 Further, it was reported that, “French Defence Minister Herve Morin warned on Sunday that Iran’s nuclear programme posed a ‘major risk’ to the stability of the Gulf region. ‘It is necessary to make Iran understand that the nuclear risk creates a major risk of destabilising the region,’ Morin told journalists as he wrapped up a visit to the Gulf state of Qatar.”35

On September 14, it was reported that, “Germany denied on Friday that it wanted to hold off on sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The government dismissed a report on the US TV channel Fox that it had broken ranks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and wanted to delay any sanctions to allow a deal struck between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on August 21 to take effect,” and it continued, quoting the German foreign ministry spokesman, “Germany is prepared to take the necessary steps against Iran, if necessary,” and that, “The five permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany are due to meet to discuss a new draft UN resolution on sanctions against Iran on September 21 in Washington. Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity but the United States accuses Tehran of covertly developing atomic weapons.”36

Another conflict, which is directly related to the growing Iranian conflict, has been accumulating significance in the region, as it was reported that, “Syria accused Israel of bombing its territory on Thursday [September 6] and said it could respond to the Jewish state’s ‘aggression and treachery’,” and further, “Israel declined to comment on the charge by Syria, which said no casualties or damage were caused. The Syrian accusation was partly responsible for triggering a rise in world oil prices of more than $1.40 a barrel.”37 Another report stated that, “Syria is mulling a ‘series of responses’ after Israeli warplanes violated its airspace this week, Vice President Faruq al-Shara said in an interview with an Italian newspaper published Saturday. ‘I can say now that in Damascus a series of responses is being examined at the highest political and military levels. The results will not take long in coming’.”38

Press TV reported that, “Syria says Israel is planning to wage another war in the region after the Israeli army staged military exercises on the Golan Heights. The state-run Syrian daily al-Thawra said on Sunday that a recent war game by the Israeli military on the occupied Golan Heights has sent a clear message reflecting Israel’s intention for waging a new war in the region.”39 Another report states that, “Tehran has announced its readiness to assist Damascus by all means to counter the violation of Syrian airspace by Israeli warplanes. Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Mohammad-Hassan Akhtari said the Zionist Regime’s provocative moves had prompted Tehran to offer help to the Syrian government. Earlier Thursday, Syria’s official News Agency reported that several Israeli fighter jets had bombed Syrian territories. However, the Syrian army successfully forced the Israeli warplanes out of the Syrian airspace.”40

A September 12 report stated that, “Israel recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea, The New York Times reported Thursday. A US administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria, the Times reported,” and it quoted an unnamed official, stating, “The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left,” and the article further said, “A US defense official confirmed Tuesday that Israel carried out an air strike well inside Syria last week, apparently to send Damascus a message not to rearm Hezbollah in Lebanon. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not know the target of the strike, which was conducted Thursday, but said the US military believed it was to send a message to the Syrians.”41

The Sunday Times later reported that, “It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way,” and that, “Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea,” and it continued, “The Syrians were also keeping mum. ‘I cannot reveal the details,’ said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. ‘All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.’ The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from ‘secret suppliers’, and added that there were a ‘number of foreign technicians’ in the country. Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: ‘There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that’,” and further, “According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.”42
It was then reported that, “An official Syrian daily warned on Sunday that US ‘lies’ over nuclear cooperation with North Korea could serve as a pretext for an attack on Syria following an Israeli violation of its airspace,” and that, “Syria has said its air defences fired on Israeli warplanes which dropped munitions deep inside its territory in the early hours of September 6, triggering intense media speculation about the action. Israel has not confirmed the incident and kept up a policy of official silence, with the only details on the mysterious attack coming from foreign media reports citing anonymous officials.”43

Call It What You Want, It’s All Just a Game

As the prospect of a US-led war on Iran increases by the day, it is vital to understand the history of such actions. This was my intent in writing this essay, as to understand current crises and conflicts evolving in the region, it is important to examine the historical context of such crises over the past 200 years. Dating from the Great Game between the British and Russian empires for control of Central Eurasia, namely fighting for control in Afghanistan and Iran, the reasons behind the Great Game were simply stated as for maintaining hegemonic control. With brief alliances generating between Britain and Russia, formed for strategic conveniences, namely to counter rising German influence in the region in the lead up to World War 1 and during World War 2, the Great Game continued after the Second World War under a different name, the Cold War. For a new century, it was necessary to give a hundred year old strategy a new name, as especially after World War 2, the concepts of hegemony and expansion of control, imperialism in general, were not well received, considering the world just came out of Hitler’s attempt at such a strategy. In 1947, India gained independence from the British Empire, instigating the collapse of its imperial hegemony across the globe.

It was at this time, however, that the United States was now in the most pivotal position to exert its hegemony across the globe. With its extensive ties to Great Britain, the British latched onto the Americans in the Anglo-American Alliance, allowing not only for the US to protect US hegemony and interests abroad, but also British. To do this, however, there needed to be an excuse, as the world would not accept another global hegemon for the sake of hegemony. Thus, the Cold War came into being. Under the guise of deterring the spread of Communism under the auspices of the ‘Domino Theory’, the US managed to expand and protect Anglo-American hegemony around the globe. The Cold War was simply the third phase of the Great Game, as it applied the same strategies used for the previous hundred years, just under a new name and justified under a new threat.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, bringing an end to the Cold War, a New World Order began to form, the birth pangs of which were felt in the Middle East. This New World Order of creating a new global structure, of a more integrated global society, still has many conflicts arising out of it. After World War 1, the League of Nations was created in the hopes of securing a more integrated global community, which ultimately failed with the start of World War 2, after which the United Nations was created to serve the same purpose. Out of each world war, we see the move to create a more global society. Now, after the Cold War ended, we have a new conflict arising between the West and the East. This new conflict is about gaining supremacy in the New World Order, as many great powers seek to sway the balance away from a US-dominated New World Order, and towards a Russian or Chinese New World Order.

In the year 2000, then Chinese President, “Jiang Zemin called for joint efforts of the people of all countries to establish a fair and equitable new international political and economic order,” and he further stated, “With the collapse of the centuries-long colonialist system and the end of half-a-century Cold War, it has become increasingly difficult for hegemonism and power politics to go on and for the very few big powers or blocs of big powers to monopolize international affairs and control the fate of other countries.”44 In 2005, both China and Russia “issued a joint statement on a new world order in the 21st century, setting forth their common stand on major international issues, such as UN reforms, globalization, North-South cooperation, and world economy and trade. The statement was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao after their talks. During their talks, the two leaders discussed ways to further enhance the strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Russia, and exchanged views on major regional and international issues,” and that “The joint statement said the two countries are determined to strengthen their strategic coordination in international affairs.”45 More recently, in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin called “for a radical overhaul of the world’s financial and trade institutions to reflect the growing economic power of emerging market countries – including Russia. Mr Putin said the world needed to create a new international financial architecture to replace an existing model,” and as the Financial Times further reported, Putin’s “apparent challenge to western dominance of the world economic order came at a forum in St Petersburg designed to showcase the country’s economic recovery. Among 6,000 delegates at the biggest business forum ever held in post-Soviet Russia were scores of international chief executives including heads of Deutsche Bank, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestlé, Chevron, Siemens and Coca-Cola. Business deals worth more than $4bn were signed at the conference – including an order by Aeroflot for Boeing jets – as executives said they were continuing to invest in Russia despite deteriorating relations with the west. Mr Putin’s hosting of the forum capped a week in which he dominated the international stage. He warned last Monday that Russia might target nuclear missiles at Europe if the US built a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic,” and Putin’s “speech on financial institutions suggested that, along with an aggressive recent campaign against US ‘unilateralism’ in foreign policy, he was also seeking to challenge western dominance of the world economic order.”46

So clearly, from this last statement especially, we can see that both China and Russia are not opposed to forming a New World Order, which would be largely based on international institutions and integration, both economically and politically, but they are opposed to the West’s dominance of such a world order, and instead, seek to challenge that dominance with their own. Ultimately, the goals are similar, but the methods of getting there is where the West and the East differ. As the above Financial Times article mentioned, large global corporations are still investing in Russia, despite recent setbacks in certain areas, which shows the support for the process of globalization, which has thusly shaped the current world order. International corporations have no allegiance to people or national identities, but rather seek to exert their control across the entire globe, and will support any nations with great influence, so that with the battle for control in shaping the New World Order, the corporations will always be on the winning side. As the multinational corporations seek a more integrated global society, they must first gain control of the world markets, integrating the economies first. With economic integration, political and cultural will follow. The challenge for the great powers of the world is which ones will be dominant in this process, and thusly, which ones will have dominant control over the New World Order.

Out of conflict, comes societal reorganization. We seem to rapidly be heading toward another World War, which would have its starting point with an attack on Iran. Talk of a ‘new Cold War’ is misleading, as if any conflict occurs with Iran, if the US attacks the Islamic Republic, there will be nothing Cold about it. This new conflict, the fourth phase of the Great Game, will give rise to competition between the great powers for control over the Middle East and Central Eurasia in order to achieve hegemony in the New World Order. It is likely that a New Great Game will lead to a New World War, out of which will rise the New World Order. Whichever great powers come out of the next war as the victors, if indeed there are any, it is likely that it will be that power which will lead the New World Order.

As I have mentioned Zbigniew Brzezinski much in this essay, as his relevance to American hegemonic strategy is almost unparalleled, apart from other figures like Henry Kissinger, I feel it is relevant to end with a discussion on testimony that Brzezinski recently gave to the US Senate. In February of 2007, Brzezinski, “the national security adviser in the Carter administration, delivered a scathing critique of the war in Iraq and warned that the Bush administration’s policy was leading inevitably to a war with Iran, with incalculable consequences for US imperialism in the Middle East and internationally,” and Brzezinski was quoted as saying about the Iraq war, “Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean principles and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability,” and he continued, describing what he termed a “plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran”, of which he said would involve, “Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” [Emphasis added].47

Brzezinski’s startling warning should not be taken for granted. Even though many factions of the ruling class are divided, for example someone like Brzezinski, who is very much opposed to the neo-conservatives, they are all still playing the same game. The game is hegemony and empire, the only difference is that some people and some countries have different methods of playing. In previous centuries, the battle for control of Central Eurasia was called what it was, the Great Game, a game for control, a game for power. The difference between two hundred years ago and today, is that we are in a much more globalized, integrated society, which has turned this Great game into, as Brzezinski aptly named his blueprint for American hegemony, the Grand Chessboard. It’s no longer simply just a great game, but is now simply a board game for the global ruling class. Sacrificing pawns, a simple act for them, can be seen in the eyes of the moral society as the destruction of entire nations and peoples.

There’s only so many players in this game, and they all have the same aim, just different methods of getting there. The unfortunate aspect of this, is that the people of the world are being tossed around like pawns in a chess game. The world is meant for all people, not just a select few, to inhabit and have a say in. So, if these people want to play games, let’s put them back in the playground, because their mentality has yet to surpass that of children during recess.

Mahatma Gandhi, the man who led India to independence from the British Empire, once said, “Remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.”

Notes

Andrew G. Marshall is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

see
Imperial Playground: Marching East of Iraq by Andrew G. Marshall

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History by Andrew G. Marshall

The New World Order, Forged in the Gulf by Andrew G. Marshall

Attacking Iran for Israel? By Ray McGovern

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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Turning truth on its head By Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi

October 31, 2007

Turning truth on its head By Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi

By Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi
ICH
10/30/07 “
The Guardian

Condoleezza Rice’s declaration of Iran’s complicity in terrorism looks like another step on the White House’s march to war.

The US has opened up a new front in its now sharply accelerated war drive on Iran. The announcement last week by Condoleezza Rice, branding Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organisation, and imposing the strongest sanctions yet since 1979 Iranian Revolution, alarmed several democratic presidential candidates who described it as an indication that the White House had begun its “march to war”.
In his article in today’s Guardian, Max Hastings correctly predicts that within six months these sanctions could only lead to a military attack on Iran, a prospect that he opposes. However, he plays right into the hands of warmongers by giving unequivocal support to the two main US accusations against Iran:

“Few strategists dispute either that Iranian revolutionaries are playing a prominent role in frustrating the stabilisation of Iraq, or that Iran is doing its utmost to build nuclear weapons.”

These are precisely the allegations that are used by the neoconservatives and Israel to demonise the Revolutionary Guards and the government of Ahmadinejad, justify the latest sanctions and pave the way for a military attack.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is an army of 125,000 and an indispensable part of the Iranian military. It was formed during the eight-year war waged against the Islamic Republic by Saddam Hussein, who was at the time fully supported by the US and its European allies. With this historic role in defeating foreign aggression, the Corps occupies a special place in the Islamic Republic, has a large domain of operation and runs a significant part of the economy.

The US designation is the first time in international relations that a military body of a sovereign state is branded as terrorist. Given the Revolutionary Guards’ credibility in defending the country, the US measures will be seen in the eyes of ordinary people as an attack by the US on Iran’s sovereignty, along the lines of the US-UK engineered coup against the democratically elected government of Dr Mossadegh in 1953.

As a justification for the new sanctions against Iranian banks, companies and individuals, Rice accused the Revolutionary Guards of being “proliferators of WMD”. This accusation has been repeatedly contradicted by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr ElBaradei’s unambiguous assertions that there is absolutely no evidence of a nuclear weaponisation programme in Iran. In August, the IAEA cleared Iran of its plutonium experiments and confirmed the peaceful nature of all of Iran’s declared enrichment activities.

“We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponisation of their programme”, Dr Mohammad ElBaradei said in September, “Nor have we gotten intelligence to that effect.” This Sunday, he repeated the same assertion in a CNN interview.

But Rice’s accusation against the Revolutionary Guards is not only totally unfounded, it turns the truth outrageously on its head. Throughout its eight-year war of aggression, the Iraqi army used chemical weapons on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, soldiers and civilians. The US was complicit in both the proliferation and the use of WMD against the Revolutionary Guards, who were amongst the 52,000 Iranian victims of this war crime.

In response to the latest US measures against Iran, Vladimir Putin, who along with the Chinese, has refused to back further sanctions against Iran, saying: “Running around like a mad man with a blade in one’s hand is not the best way to solve such problems.”

Also, Rice’s accusation against the Quds force, a division of the Revolutionary Guards, of support for terrorism in Iraq and beyond, is in sharp contrast to British government’s own evidence. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, in an interview with the Financial Times in July admitted that there was no evidence of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq. Afghanistan’s foreign minister has recently contradicted the US accusations against Iran by pointing out that there is no evidence for Iran arming the Taliban forces. Prime Minister Maliki and President Karzai too have repeatedly stressed Iran’s positive role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unfounded allegations by the US and Rice’s declaration to the Congress that Iran was “perhaps the single greatest challenge” for US security, is part of the unmistakable chorus of war from the US administration, following Bush’s invocation of the “World War III” and Cheney’s threat of “serious consequences” for Iran, the week previously. It is an ominous indication that the voices of dialogue have been decidedly drowned by the war camp who are pushing for a military attack on Iran.

In Britain, Gordon Brown has been quick to support the latest US measures and refused to rule out the military option. The new sanctions will not avert the military option by the US, as a number of leading politicians in the UK, France and Germany claim, but would only be the prelude to a military attack. Brown is placing Britain in the path of another unprovoked and illegal war with catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, the region and the whole world.

Seymour Hersh wrote in a recent article in the New Yorker that this summer in a closed circuit video discussion between Bush and Ian Crocker, the US ambassador in Iraq, Bush said that he wanted all along the border inside Iran to be bombed and that “the British were on board”.

The British public should wake up to the disastrous foreign policy the UK government is continuing to pursue after the invasion of Iraq and urgently demand their MPs to table an emergency motion in the House of Commons to oppose sanctions and any military attack on Iran

Abbas Edalat is professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College London and founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Mehrnaz Shahabi is a journalist and executive editor of www.campaigniran.org

Suicide and Spin Doctors By H. Candace Gorman

October 24, 2007

Suicide and Spin Doctors By H. Candace Gorman

Dandelion Salad

By H. Candace Gorman
In These Times
October 18, 2007

Now that the U.S. military has “cleared” my notes, I can tell you about my July meeting at Guantánamo with my client Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi.

Al-Ghizzawi was visibly shaken when I entered the meeting room and he immediately told me of his despair over the May death of a fellow inmate, a young Saudi man named Abdel Rahman Al Amri. Al-Ghizzawi knew that Amri had been suffering from Hepatitis B and tuberculosis, the same two conditions from which he himself suffers. Like al-Ghizzawi, Amri had not been treated for his illnesses. Al-Ghizzawi, now so sick he can barely walk, told me that Amri, too, had been ill and then, suddenly, he was dead.

Al-Ghizzawi also mentioned that Amri had engaged in hunger strikes in the past but had stopped a long time ago because of his health. I knew about Amri’s death. I also know our military has called it an “apparent suicide.”

As I sat with al-Ghizzawi I found myself thinking about South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko. In his book I Write What I Like, Biko declares that “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” There are many ways for the oppressor to force himself into the mind of the oppressed, but one surefire way is through indefinite detention. Never knowing when—or if—you will be released is a cruel form of psychological torture. It allows you to keep hope while simultaneously filling you with fear. South Africa’s apartheid government sharpened this tactic when it passed the Terrorism Act of 1967, which allowed the police to pick up Biko as a “suspect” involved in terrorism (“involvement” under that law was defined as “anything that might endanger the maintenance of law and order”) and detain him for an indefinite period without trial. Biko’s indefinite detention ended after only a month, when he suffered a brutal death at the hands of the South African police. The government claimed that Biko died as the result of a hunger strike. (In U.S. military parlance, that would be an “apparent suicide.”) Autopsy results later showed that Biko died of a head trauma and that his body was badly beaten. Our government officials, clever devils that they are, apparently learned from the “mistake” of South Africa and refuse to release Amri’s autopsy records.

Back in 2005, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld explained in a speech that Guantánamo is a great training ground for our interrogators because they learn what works and what doesn’t. The Pentagon’s little laboratory gathered speed last December when the military moved several hundred men into Camp 6. Included in the randomly selected group was al-Ghizzawi.

Camp 6 is worse than any of America’s supermax prisons because inmates are given little to occupy their minds as they sit in tiny cells with no natural light or air for at least 22 hours every day. The men are allowed one book per week, but it’s the same old books that have been around year after year. Guards also allow the men two hours of “recreation time” in four-foot-by-four-foot cages. As part of the experiment, the military plays with the “rec” times: Sometimes the guards show up at 3 a.m. for al-Ghizzawi’s recreation time. He is too polite to tell the guards what I would feel compelled to say. Instead he shows his dignity by refusing to stand in the dark. Other times, when the Cuban sun is at its hottest, al-Ghizzawi is offered the opportunity to stand in the metal cage under the blistering sun where there is no shade.

Al-Ghizzawi told me in July that he now finds himself talking out loud even though no one is there to talk to. We both know he is in dangerous territory. We talked about ways to help fight the mental deterioration, such as trying to read, exercising his body or focusing on his wife and daughter. Even though his body is already shot to hell with almost six years of physical and psychological abuse and medical neglect, at least he had been maintaining his mind. He was able to put his life in perspective. He had hope, though mingled with fear for the future. But now he can no longer read the books because his eyes too are shot, so he spends his days in tedious boredom. (In September, I requested that military officials provide him reading glasses, but what is the likelihood that they will give him glasses when they will not give him medical treatment?) So al-Ghizzawi spends his days pacing in his cell, washing and rewashing his clothes and preparing for the death he knows is looming.

When I left our September meeting a few days ago, al-Ghizzawi was doubled over in pain and gagging on his own phlegm. Again, I thought about Steven Biko and the young Saudi, Amri. I feared al-Ghizzawi may suffer a cruel, solitary death. I promised him the only things I could: that his death will not go unnoticed and that I will not let him be listed as an apparent suicide. Then I asked al-Ghizzawi to please not let them take his mind.

Until they clear my notes, his response is classified.

H. Candace Gorman is a civil rights attorney in Chicago. She blogs regularly about legal issues surrounding Guantanamo detainees at The Guantanamo Blog.

h/t: Antiwar.com

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Neuroscience and Moral Politics: Chomsky’s Intellectual Progeny by Gary Olson

October 24, 2007

Neuroscience and Moral Politics: Chomsky’s Intellectual Progeny by Gary Olson

Dandelion Salad

by Gary Olson
Dissident Voice
October 24th, 2007

Are humans “wired for empathy”? How does this affect what Chomsky calls the “manufacturing of consent”?

Throughout the world, teachers, sociologists, policymakers and parents are discovering that empathy may be the single most important quality that must be nurtured to give peace a fighting chance.
—Arundhati Ray

The official directives needn’t be explicit to be well understood: Do not let too much empathy move in unauthorized directions.
—Norman Solomon

The nonprofit Edge Foundation recently asked some of the world’s most eminent scientists, “What are you optimistic about? Why?” In response, the prominent neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni cites the proliferating experimental work into the neural mechanisms that reveal how humans are “wired for empathy.”Iacoboni’s optimism is grounded in his belief that, with the popularization of scientific insights, these recent findings in neuroscience will seep into public awareness and “… this explicit level of understanding our empathic nature will at some point dissolve the massive belief systems that dominate our societies and that threaten to destroy us.” (Iacoboni, 2007, p. 14)

While there are reasons to remain skeptical (see below) about the progressive political implications flowing from this work, a body of impressive empirical evidence reveals that the roots of prosocial behavior, including moral sentiments such as empathy, precede the evolution of culture. This work sustains Noam Chomsky’s visionary writing about a human moral instinct, and his assertion that, while the principles of our moral nature have been poorly understood, “we can hardly doubt their existence or their central role in our intellectual and moral lives.” (Chomsky, 1971, n.p., 1988; 2005, p. 263)

In his influential book Mutual Aid (1972, p. 57; 1902), the Russian revolutionary anarchist, geographer, and naturalist Petr Kropotkin, maintained that “… under any circumstances sociability is the greatest advantage in the struggle for life. Those species which willingly abandon it are doomed to decay.” Species cooperation provided an evolutionary advantage, a “natural” strategy for survival.

While Kropotkin readily acknowledged the role of competition, he asserted that mutual aid was a “moral instinct” and “natural law.” Based on his extensive studies of the animal world, he believed that this predisposition toward helping one another—human sociality—was of “prehuman origin.” Killen and Cords, in a fittingly titled piece “Prince Kropotkin’s Ghost,” suggest that recent research in developmental psychology and primatology seems to vindicate Kropotkin’s century-old assertions (2002).

The emerging field of the neuroscience of empathy parallels investigations being undertaken in cognate fields. Some forty years ago the celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall observed and wrote about chimpanzee emotions, social relationships, and “chimp culture,” but experts remained skeptical. A decade ago, the famed primate scientist Frans B.M. de Waal (1996) wrote about the antecedents to morality in Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals, but scientific consensus remained elusive.

All that’s changed. As a recent editorial in the journal Nature (2007) put it, it’s now “unassailable fact” that human minds, including aspects of moral thought, are the product of evolution from earlier primates. According to de Waal, “You don’t hear any debate now.” In his more recent work, de Waal plausibly argues that human morality—including our capacity to empathize—is a natural outgrowth or inheritance of behavior from our closest evolutionary relatives.

Following Darwin, highly sophisticated studies by biologists Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson posit that large-scale cooperation within the human species—including with genetically unrelated individuals within a group—was favored by selection. (Hauser, 2006, p. 416) Evolution selected for the trait of empathy because there were survival benefits in coming to grips with others. In his book, People of the Lake (1978) the world-renowned paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey unequivocally declares, “We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honored network of obligation.”

Studies have shown that empathy is present in very young children, even at eighteen months of age and possibly younger. In the primate world, Warneken and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute at Leipzig, Germany, recently found that chimps extend help to unrelated chimps and unfamiliar humans, even when inconvenienced and regardless of any expectation of reward. This suggests that empathy may lie behind this natural tendency to help and that it was a factor in the social life of the common ancestor to chimpanzees and humans at the split some six million years ago (New Scientist, 2007; Warneken and Tomasello, 2006). It’s now indisputable that we share moral faculties with other species (de Waal, 2006; Trivers, 1971; Katz, 2000; Gintis, 2005; Hauser, 2006; Bekoff, 2007; Pierce, 2007). Pierce notes that there are “countless anecdotal accounts of elephants showing empathy toward sick and dying animals, both kin and non-kin” (2007, p. 6). And recent research in Kenya has conclusively documented elephant’s open grieving/empathy for other dead elephants.

Mogil and his team at McGill University recently demonstrated that mice feel distress when they observe other mice experiencing pain. They tentatively concluded that the mice engaged visual cues to bring about this empathic response (Mogil, 2006; Ganguli, 2006). De Waal’s response to this study: “This is a highly significant finding and should open the eyes of people who think empathy is limited to our species.” (Carey, 2006)

Further, Grufman and other scientists at the National Institutes of Health have offered persuasive evidence that altruistic acts activate a primitive part of the brain, producing a pleasurable response (2007). And recent research by Koenigs and colleagues (2007) indicates that within the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex or VMPC is required for emotions and moral judgment. Damage to the VMPC has been linked to psychopathic behavior. This led to the belief that as a rule, psychopaths do not experience empathy or remorse.

A study by Miller (2001) and colleagues of the brain disorder frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is also instructive. FTD attacks the frontal lobes and anterior temporal lobes, the site of one’s sense of self. One early symptom of FTD is the loss of empathy.

We know from neuroscientific empathy experiments that the same affective brain circuits are automatically mobilized upon feeling one’s own pain and the pain of others. Through brain imaging, we also know that separate neural processing regions then free up the capacity to take action. As Decety notes, empathy then allows us to “forge connections with people whose lives seem utterly alien from us” (Decety, 2006, p. 2). Where comparable experience is lacking, this “cognitive empathy” builds on the neural basis and allows one to “actively project oneself into the shoes of another person” by trying to imagine the other person’s situation (Preston, in press), Preston and de Waal (2002). Empathy is “other directed,” the recognition of the other’s humanity.

***

So where does this leave us? If morality is rooted in biology, in the raw material or building blocks for the evolution of its expression, we now have a pending fortuitous marriage of hard science and secular morality in the most profound sense. The technical details of the social neuroscientific analysis supporting these assertions lie outside this paper, but suffice it to say that progress is proceeding at an exponential pace and the new discoveries are persuasive (Decety and Lamm, 2006; Lamm, 2007; Jackson, 2004 and 2006).

That said, one of the most vexing problems that remains to be explained is why so little progress has been made in extending this empathic orientation to distant lives, to those outside certain in-group moral circles. Given a world rife with overt and structural violence, one is forced to explain why our deep-seated moral intuition doesn’t produce a more ameliorating effect, a more peaceful world. Iacoboni suggests this disjuncture is explained by massive belief systems, including political and religious ones, operating on the reflective and deliberate level. These tend to override the automatic, pre-reflective, neurobiological traits that should bring people together.

Here a few cautionary notes are warranted. The first is that social context and triggering conditions are critical because, where there is conscious and massive elite manipulation, it becomes exceedingly difficult to get in touch with our moral faculties. Ervin Staub, a pioneering investigator in the field, acknowledges that even if empathy is rooted in nature, people will not act on it “… unless they have certain kinds of life experiences that shape their orientation toward other human beings and toward themselves (Staub, 2002, p. 222). As Jensen puts it, “The way we are educated and entertained keep us from knowing about or understanding the pain of others” (2002). Circumstances may preclude and overwhelm our perceptions, rendering us incapable of recognizing and giving expression to moral sentiments (Albert, n.d.; and also, Pinker, 2002). For example, the fear-mongering of artificially created scarcity may attenuate the empathic response. The limitation placed on exposure is another. As reported recently in the New York Times, the Pentagon imposes tight embedding restrictions on journalist’s ability to run photographs and other images of casualties in Iraq. Photographs of coffins returning to Dover Air Base in Delaware are simply forbidden. Memorial services for the fallen are also now prohibited even if the unit gives its approval.

The second cautionary note is Hauser’s (2006) observation that proximity was undoubtedly a factor in the expression of empathy. In our evolutionary past an attachment to the larger human family was virtually incomprehensible and, therefore, the emotional connection was lacking. Joshua Greene, a philosopher and neuroscientist, adds that “We evolved in a world where people in trouble right in front of you existed, so our emotions were tuned to them, whereas we didn’t face the other kind of situation.” He suggests that to extend this immediate emotion-linked morality—one based on fundamental brain circuits—to unseen victims requires paying less attention to intuition and more to the cognitive dimension. If this boundary isn’t contrived, it would seem, at a minimum, circumstantial and thus worthy of reassessing morality (Greene, 2007, n.p.). Given some of the positive dimensions of globalization, the potential for identifying with the “stranger” has never been more robust.

Finally, as Preston (2006-2007; and also, in press) suggests, risk and stress tend to suppress empathy whereas familiarity and similarity encourage the experience of natural, reflexive empathy. This formidable but not insurmountable challenge warrants further research into how this “out-group” identity is created and reinforced.

It may be helpful, as Halpern (1993, p. 169) suggests, to think of empathy as a sort of spark of natural curiosity, prompting a need for further understanding and deeper questioning. However, our understanding of how or whether political engagement follows remains in its infancy and demands further investigation.

***

Almost a century ago, Stein (1917) wrote about empathy as “the experience of foreign consciousness in general.” Salles’ film The Motorcycle Diaries addresses empathy, albeit indirectly. The film follows Ernesto Guevara de la Serna and his friend Alberto Granada on an eight-month trek across Argentina, Peru, Columbia, Chile and Venezuela.

When leaving his leafy, upper middle-class suburb (his father is an architect) in Buenos Aires in 1952, Guevara is 23 and a semester away from earning his medical degree. The young men embark on an adventure, a last fling before settling down to careers and lives of privilege. They are preoccupied with women, fun and adventure and certainly not seeking or expecting a life-transforming odyssey.

The film’s power is in its depiction of Guevara’s emerging political awareness that occurs as a consequence of unfiltered cumulative experiences. During their 8,000-mile journey, they encounter massive poverty, exploitation, and brutal working conditions, all consequences of an unjust international economic order. By the end, Guevara has turned away from being a doctor because medicine is limited to treating the symptoms of poverty. For him, revolution becomes the expression of empathy, the only effective way to address suffering’s root causes. This requires melding the cognitive component of empathy with engagement, with resistance against asymmetrical power, always an inherently political act. Otherwise, empathy has no meaning. (This roughly parallels the political practice of brahma-viharas by engaged Buddhists.) In his own oft-quoted words (not included in the film), Guevara stated that, “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.”

Paul Farmer, the contemporary medical anthropologist, infectious-disease specialist and international public health activist, has adopted different tactics, but his diagnosis of the “pathologies of power” is remarkably similar to Guevara. He also writes approvingly of Cuba’s health programs, comparing them with his long work experience in Haiti. Both individuals were motivated early on by the belief that artificial epidemics have their origin in unjust socioeconomic structures, hence the need for social medicine, a “politics as medicine on a grand scale.” Both exemplify exceptional social outliers of engaged empathy and the interplay of affective, cognitive and moral components. For Farmer’s radical critique of structural violence and the connections between disease and social inequality, see (Farmer, 2003; Kidder, 2003). Again, it remains to be explained why there is such a paucity of real world examples of empathic behavior? Why is U.S. culture characterized by a massive empathy deficit of almost pathological proportions? And what might be reasonably expected from a wider public understanding of the nature of empathy?

Hauser posits a “universal moral grammar,” hard-wired into our neural circuits via evolution. This neural machinery precedes conscious decisions in life-and-death situations, however, we observe “nurture entering the picture to set the parameters and guide us toward the acquisition of particular moral systems.” At other points, he suggests that environmental factors can push individuals toward defective moral reasoning, and the various outcomes for a given local culture are seemingly limitless. (Hauser, 2006) For me, this discussion of cultural variation fails to give sufficient attention to the socioeconomic variables responsible for shaping the culture.

“It all has to do with the quality of justice and the availability of opportunity.” (2006, p. 151). Earlier, Goldschmidt (1999, n.p.) argued that, “Culturally derived motives may replace, supplement or override genetically programmed behavior.”

Cultures are rarely neutral, innocent phenomena but are consciously set up to reward some people and penalize others. As Parenti (2006) forcefully asserts, certain aspects of culture can function as instruments of social power and social domination through ideological indoctrination. Culture is part and parcel of political struggle, and studying culture can reveal how power is exercised and on whose behalf.

Cohen and Rogers, in parsing Chomsky’s critique of elites, note that “Once an unjust order exists, those benefiting from it have both an interest in maintaining it and, by virtue of their social advantages, the power to do so.” (Cohen, 1991, p. 17) (For a concise but not uncritical treatment of Chomsky’s social and ethical views, see Cohen, 1991.) Clearly, the vaunted human capacity for verbal communication cuts both ways. In the wrong hands, this capacity is often abused by consciously quelling the empathic response. When de Waal writes, “Animals are no moral philosophers,” I’m left to wonder if he isn’t favoring the former in this comparison. (de Waal, 1996b, n.p.)

One of the methods employed within capitalist democracies is Chomsky’s and Herman’s “manufacture of consent,” a form of highly sophisticated thought control. Potentially active citizens must be “distracted from their real interests and deliberately confused about the way the world works.” (Cohen, 1991, p. 7; Chomsky, 1988)

For this essay, and following Chomsky, I’m arguing that the human mind is the primary target of this perverse “nurture” or propaganda, in part because exposure to certain new truths about empathy—hard evidence about our innate moral nature—poses a direct threat to elite interests. There’s no ghost in the machine, but the capitalist machine attempts to keep people in line with an ideological ghost, the notion of a self constructed on market values. But “. . . if no one saw himself or herself as capitalism needs them to do, their own self-respect would bar the system from exploiting and manipulating them.” (Kelleher, 2007) That is, given the apparent universality of this biological predisposition toward empathy, we have a potent scientific baseline upon which to launch further critiques of elite manipulation, this cultivation of callousness.

First, the evolutionary and biological origins of empathy contribute hard empirical evidence—not wishful thinking or even logical inference—on behalf of a case for organizing vastly better societies.

In that vein, this new research is entirely consistent with work on the nature of authentic love and the concrete expression of that love in the form of care, effort, responsibility, courage and respect. As Eagleton reminds us, if others are also engaging in this behavior, “. . . the result is a form of reciprocal service which provides the context for each self to flourish. The traditional name for this reciprocity is love.” Because reciprocity mandates equality and an end to exploitation and oppression, it follows that “a just, compassionate treatment of other people is on the grand scale of things one of the conditions for one’s own thriving.” And as social animals, when we act in this way we are realizing our natures “at their finest.” (2007, pp. 170, 159-160, and 173) Again, the political question remains that of realizing a form of global environment that enhances the opportunity for our nature to flourish.

I’ve noted elsewhere, Fromm’s classic book The Art of Loving is a blistering indictment of the social and economic forces that deny us life’s most rewarding experience and “the only satisfying answer to the problem of human existence.” For Fromm, grasping how society shapes our human instincts, hence our behavior, is in turn the key to understanding why “love thy neighbor,” the love of the stranger, is so elusive in modern society.

The global capitalist culture with its premium on accumulation and profits not only devalues an empathic disposition but produces a stunted character in which everything is transformed into a commodity, not only things, but individuals themselves. The very capacity to practice empathy (love) is subordinated to our state religion of the market in which each person seeks advantage in an alienating and endless commodity-greedy competition.

Over five decades ago, Fromm persuasively argued that “The principles of capitalist society and the principles of love are incompatible.” (Fromm, 1956, p. 110). Any honest person knows that the dominant features of capitalist society tend to produce individuals who are estranged from themselves, crippled personalities robbed of their humanity and in a constant struggle to express empathic love. Little wonder that Fromm believed radical changes in our social structure and economic institutions were needed if empathy/love is to be anything more than a rare individual achievement and a socially marginal phenomenon. He understood that only when the economic system serves women and men, rather than the opposite, will this be possible (Olson, 2006).

***

The dominant cultural narrative of hyper-individualism is challenged and the insidiously effective scapegoating of human nature that claims we are motivated by greedy, dog-eat-dog “individual self-interest is all” is undermined. From original sin to today’s “selfish gene,” certain interpretations of human nature have invariably functioned to retard class consciousness. These new research findings help to refute the allegation that people are naturally uncooperative, an argument frequently employed to intimidate and convince people that it’s futile to seek a better society for everyone. Stripped of yet another rationalization for empire, predatory behavior on behalf of the capitalist mode of production becomes ever more transparent. And learning about the conscious suppression of this essential core of our nature should beg additional troubling questions about the motives behind other elite-generated ideologies, from neo-liberalism to the “war on terror.”

Second, there are implications for students. Cultivating empathic engagement through education remains a poorly understood enterprise. College students, for example, may hear the ‘cry of the people’ but the moral sound waves are muted as they pass through a series of powerful cultural baffles. Williams (1986, p. 143) notes that “While they may be models of compassion and generosity to those in their immediate circles, many of our students today have a blind spot for their responsibilities in the socio-political order. In the traditional vocabulary they are strong on charity but weak on justice.”

Nussbaum (1997) defends American liberal education’s record at cultivating an empathic imagination. She claims that understanding the lives of strangers and achieving cosmopolitan global citizenship can be realized through the arts and literary humanities. There is little solid evidence to substantiate this optimism. My own take on empathy-enhancing practices within U.S. colleges and universities is considerably less sanguine. Nussbaum’s episodic examples of stepping into the mental shoes of other people are rarely accompanied by plausible answers as why these people may be lacking shoes—or decent jobs, minimum healthcare, and long-life expectancy. The space within educational settings has been egregiously underutilized, in part, because we don’t know enough about propitious interstices where critical pedagogy could make a difference. Arguably the most serious barrier is the cynical, even despairing doubt about the existence of a moral instinct for empathy. The new research puts this doubt to rest and rightly shifts the emphasis to strategies for cultivating empathy and identifying with “the other.” Joining the affective and cognitive dimensions of empathy may require risky forms of radical pedagogy (Olson, 2006, 2007; Gallo, 1989). Evidence produced from a game situation with medical students strongly hints that empathic responses can be significantly enhanced by increased knowledge about the specific needs of others—in this case, the elderly (Varkey, 2006). Presumably, limited prior experiences would affect one’s emotional response. Again, this is a political culture/information acquisition issue that demands further study.

Third, for many people the basic incompatibility between global capitalism and the lived expression of moral sentiments may become obvious for the first time. (Olson, 2006, 2005) For example, the failure to engage this moral sentiment has radical implications, not the least being consequences for the planet. Within the next 100 years, one-half of all species now living will be extinct. Great apes, polar bears, tigers and elephants are all on the road to extinction due to rapacious growth, habitat destruction, and poaching. These human activities, not random extinction, will be the undoing of millions of years of evolution (Purvis, 2000). As Leakey puts it, “Whatever way you look at it, we’re destroying the Earth at a rate comparable with the impact of a giant asteroid slamming into the planet…” And researchers at McGill University have shown that economic inequality is linked to high rates of biodiversity loss. The authors suggest that economic reforms may be the prerequisite to saving the richness of the ecosystem and urge that “… if we can learn to share the economic resources more fairly with fellow members of our own species, it may help to share ecological resources with our fellow species.” (Mikkelson, 2007, p. 5)

While one hesitates imputing too much transformative potential to this emotional capacity, there is nothing inconsistent about drawing more attention to inter-species empathy and eco-empathy. The latter may be essential for the protection of biotic communities. Decety and Lamm (2006, p. 4) remind us that “… one of the most striking aspects of human empathy is that it can be felt for virtually any target, even targets of a different species.”

This was foreshadowed at least fifty years ago when Paul Mattick, writing about Kropotkin’s notion of mutual aid, noted that “… For a long time, however, survival in the animal world has not depended upon the practice of either mutual aid or competition but has been determined by the decisions of men as to which species should live and thrive and which should be exterminated. … [W]herever man rules, the “laws of nature” with regard to animal life cease to exist.” This applies no less to humans and Mattick rightly observed that the demands of capital accumulation and capitalist social relations override and preclude mutual aid. As such, neuroscience findings are welcome and necessary but insufficient in themselves. For empathy to flourish requires the elimination of class relations (Mattick, 1956, pp. 2-3).

Fourth, equally alarming for elites, awareness of this reality contains the potential to encourage “destabilizing” but humanity-affirming cosmopolitan attitudes toward the faceless “other,” both here and abroad. In de Waal’s apt words, “Empathy can override every rule about how to treat others.” (de Waal, 2005, p. 9) Amin (2003), for example, proposes that the new Europe be reframed by an ethos of empathy and engagement with the stranger as its core value. The diminution of empathy within the culture reduces pro-social behavior and social cohesiveness. Given the dangerous centrifugal forces of ethno-nationalism and xenophobia, nothing less than this unifying motif will suffice, while providing space for a yet undefined Europe, a people to come.

Finally, as de Waal observes, “If we could manage to see people on other continents as part of us, drawing them into our circle of reciprocity and empathy, we would be building upon rather than going against our nature.” (de Waal, 2005, p. 9) An ethos of empathy is an essential part of what it means to be human and empathically impaired societies, societies that fail to gratify this need should be found wanting. We’ve been systematically denied a deeper and more fulfilling engagement with this moral sentiment. I would argue that the tremendous amount of deception and fraud expended on behalf of overriding empathy is a cause for hope and cautious optimism. Paradoxically, the relative absence of widespread empathic behavior is in fact a searing tribute to its potentially subversive power.

Is it too much to hope that we’re on the verge of discovering a scientifically based, Archimedean moral point from which to lever public discourse toward an appreciation of our true nature, which in turn might release powerful emancipatory forces?

Acknowledgement:

A highly abbreviated version of this paper appeared at Zmag (5/20/07). Helpful comments were offered by N. Chomsky, D. Dunn, M. Iacoboni, K. Kelly, S. Preston and J. Wingard. Thanks, per usual, to M. Ortiz.
References

Gary Olson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. He can be reached at: olson@moravian.edu. Read other articles by Gary.

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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

On the Eve of Destruction By Scott Ritter

October 23, 2007

On the Eve of Destruction By Scott Ritter

By Scott Ritter
Truthdig
Oct 22, 2007

Don’t worry, the White House is telling us. The world’s most powerful leader was simply making a rhetorical point. At a White House press conference last week, just in case you haven’t heard, President Bush informed the American people that he had told world leaders “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” World War III. That is certainly some rhetorical point, especially coming from the man singularly most capable of making such an event reality.

Pundits have raised their eyebrows and comics are busy writing jokes, but the president’s reference to Armageddon, no matter how cavalierly uttered and subsequently brushed away, suggests an alarming context. Some might note that the comment was simply an offhand response to a reporter’s question, the kind of free-thinking scenario that baffles Bush so. In a way, this makes what the president said even more disturbing, since we now have an insight into the vision, and related terminology, which hovers just below the horizon in the brain of George W. Bush.

When I was a weapons inspector with the United Nations, there was a jostling that took place at the end of each day, when decisions needed to be made and authorization documents needed to be signed. In an environment of competing agendas, each of us who championed a position sought to be the “last man in,” namely the person who got to imprint the executive chairman (our decision maker) with the final point of view for the day. Failure to do so could find an inspection or point of investigation sidetracked for days or weeks after the executive chairman became distracted by a competing vision. I understand the concept of “imprinting,” and have seen it in action. What is clear from the president’s remarks is that, far from an innocent rhetorical fumble, his words, and the context in which he employed them, are a clear indication of the imprinting which is taking place behind the scenes at the White House. If the president mentions World War III in the context of Iran’s nuclear program, one can be certain that this is the very sort of discussion that is taking place in the Oval Office.

A critical question, therefore, is who was the last person to “imprint” the president prior to his public allusion to World War III? During his press conference, Bush noted that he awaited the opportunity to confer with his defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following their recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So clearly the president hadn’t been imprinted recently by either of the principle players in the formulation of defense and foreign policy. The suspects, then, are quickly whittled down to three: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Dick Cheney, and God.

Hadley is a long-established neoconservative thinker who has for the most part operated “in the shadows” when it comes to the formulation of Iran policy in the Bush administration. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hadley (then the deputy national security adviser) instituted what has been referred to as the “Hadley Rules,” a corollary of which is that no move will be made which alters the ideological positioning of Iran as a mortal enemy of the United States. These “rules” shut down every effort undertaken by Iran to seek a moderation of relations between it and the United States, and prohibited American policymakers from responding favorably to Iranian offers to assist with the fight against al-Qaida; they also blocked the grand offer of May 2003 in which Iran outlined a dramatic diplomatic initiative, including a normalization of relations with Israel. The Hadley Rules are at play today, in an even more nefarious manner, with the National Security Council becoming involved in the muzzling of former Bush administration officials who are speaking out on the issue of Iran. Hadley is blocking Flynt Leverett, formerly of the National Security Council, from publishing an Op-Ed piece critical of the Bush administration on the grounds that any insight into the machinations of policymaking (or lack thereof) somehow strengthens Iran’s hand. Leverett’s article would simply underscore the fact that the Bush administration has spurned every opportunity to improve relations with Iran while deliberately exaggerating the threat to U.S. interests posed by the Iranian theocracy.

The silencing of informed critics is in keeping with Hadley’s deliberate policy obfuscation. There is still no official policy in place within the administration concerning Iran. While a more sober-minded national security bureaucracy works to marginalize the hawkish posturing of the neocons, the administration has decided that the best policy is in fact no policy, which is a policy decision in its own right. Hadley has forgone the normal procedures of governance, in which decisions impacting the nation are written down, using official channels, and made subject to review and oversight by those legally and constitutionally mandated and obligated to do so. A policy of no policy results in secret policy, which means, according to Hadley himself, the Bush administration simply does whatever it wants to, regardless. In the case of Iran, this means pushing for regime change in Tehran at any cost, even if it means World War III.

But Hadley is simply a facilitator, bureaucratic “grease” to ease policy formulated elsewhere down the gullet of a national security infrastructure increasingly kept in the dark about the true intent of the Bush administration when it comes to Iran. With the Department of State and the Pentagon now considered unfriendly ground by the remaining hard-core neoconservative thinkers still in power, policy formulation is more and more concentrated in the person of Vice President Cheney and the constitutionally nebulous “Office of the Vice President.”

Cheney and his cohorts have constructed a never-never land of oversight deniability, claiming immunity from both executive and legislative checks and balances. With an unchallenged ability to classify anything and everything as secret, and then claim that there is no authority inherent in government to oversee that which has been thus classified, the Office of the Vice President has transformed itself into a free republic’s worst nightmare, assuming Caesar-like dictatorial authority over almost every aspect of American national security policy at home and abroad. From torture to illegal wiretapping, to arms control (or lack of it) to Iran, Dick Cheney is the undisputed center of policy power in America today. While there are some who will claim that in this time of post-9/11 crisis such a process of bureaucratic streamlining is essential for the common good, the reality is far different.
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this has never been truer than in the case of Cheney. What Cheney is doing behind his shield of secrecy can be simply defined: planning and implementing a preemptive war of aggression. During the Nuremberg tribunal in the aftermath of World War II, the chief American prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, stated, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Today, we have a vice president who articulates publicly about global conflict, and who speaks in not-so-veiled language about a looming Armageddon. If there is such a future for America and the world, let one thing be certain; World War III, as postulated by Dick Cheney, would be an elective war, and not a conflict of tragic necessity. This makes the crime even greater.

Sadly, Judge Jackson’s words are but an empty shell. The global community lacks a legally binding definition of what constitutes a war of aggression, or even an act of aggression. But that isn’t the point. America should never find itself in a position where it is being judged by the global community regarding the legality of its actions. Judge Jackson established a precedent of jurisprudence concerning aggression based upon American principles and values, something the international community endorsed. The fact that current American indifference to the rule of law prevents the international community from certifying a definition of criminality when it comes to aggression, whether it be parsed as “war” or simply an “act,” does not change the fact that the Bush administration, in the person of Dick Cheney, is actively engaged in the committing of the “supreme [war] crime,” which makes Cheney the supreme war criminal. If the world is not empowered to judge him as such, then let the mantle of judgment fall to the American people. Through their elected representatives in Congress, they should not only bring this reign of unrestrained abuse of power to an end, but ensure that such abuse never again is attempted by an American official by holding to account, to the full extent of the law, those who have trampled on the Constitution of the United States and the ideals and principles it enshrines.

But what use is the rule of law, even if fairly and properly implemented, if in the end he who is entrusted with executive power takes his instructions from an even higher authority? President Bush’s relationship with “God” (or that which he refers to as God) is a matter of public record. The president himself has stated that “God speaks through me” (he acknowledged this before a group of Amish in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004). Exactly how God speaks through him, and what precisely God says, is not a matter of speculation. According to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush told him and others that “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.” As such, at least in the president’s mind, God has ordered Bush to transform himself into a modern incarnation of St. Michael, smiting all that is evil before him. “We are in a conflict between good and evil. And America will call evil by its name,” the president told West Point cadets in a speech in 2002.

The matter of how and when an individual chooses to practice his faith, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal matter, one which should be kept from public discourse. For a president to so openly impose his personal religious beliefs, as Bush has done, on American policy formulation and implementation represents a fundamental departure from not only constitutional intent concerning the separation of church and state but also constitutional mandate concerning the imposition of checks and balances required by the American system of governance. The increasing embrace by this president of the notion of a unitary executive takes on an even more sinister aspect when one realizes that not only does the Bush administration seek to nullify the will of the people through the shackling of the people’s representatives in Congress, but that the president has forgone even the appearance of constitutional constraint by evoking the word of his personal deity, as expressed through his person, as the highest form of consultation on a matter as serious as war. As such, the president has made his faith, and how he practices it, a subject not only of public curiosity but of national survival.

That George W. Bush is a born-again Christian is not a national secret. Neither is the fact that his brand of Christianity, evangelicalism, embraces the notion of the “end of days,” the coming of the Apocalypse as foretold (so they say) in the Book of Revelations and elsewhere in the Bible. President Bush’s frequent reference to “the evil one” suggests that he not only believes in the Antichrist but actively proselytizes on the Antichrist’s physical presence on Earth at this time. If one takes in the writing and speeches of those in the evangelical community today concerning the “rapture,” the numerous references to the current situation in the Middle East, especially on the events unfolding around Iran and its nuclear program, make it very clear that, at least in the minds of these evangelicals, there is a clear link between the “end of days” prophesy and U.S.-Iran policy. That James Dobson, one of the most powerful and influential evangelical voices in America today, would be invited to the White House with like-minded clergy to discuss President Bush’s Iran policy is absurd unless one makes the link between Bush’s personal faith, the extreme religious beliefs of Dobson and the potential of Armageddon-like conflict (World War III). At this point, the absurd becomes unthinkable, except it is all too real.

Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s greatest founders, made the separation of church and state an underlying principle upon which the United States was built. This separation was all-inclusive, meaning that not only should government stay out of religion, but likewise religion should be excluded from government. “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself,” Jefferson wrote in a letter to Francis Hopkinson in 1789. “Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” If only President Bush would abide by such wisdom, avoiding the addictive narcotic of religious fervor when carrying out the people’s business. Instead, he chooses as his drug one which threatens to destroy us all in a conflagration derived not from celestial intervention but individual ignorance and arrogance. Again Jefferson, in a letter written in 1825: “It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”

Nightmares, more aptly, unless something can be done to change the direction Bush and Dobson are taking us. The problem is that far too many Americans openly espouse not only the faith of George W. Bush but also the underlying philosophy which permits this faith to be intertwined with the governance of the land. “God bless America” has become a rallying cry for this crowd, and those too ignorant and/or afraid to speak out in opposition. If this statement has merit, what does it say for the 6.8 billion others in the world today who are not Americans? That God condemns them? The American embrace of divine destiny is not unique in history (one only has to recall that the belt buckles of the German army during World War II read “God is with us”). But for a nation born of the age of reason to collectively fall victim to the most base of fear-induced theology is a clear indication that America currently fails to live up to its founding principles. Rather than turning to Dobson and his ilk for guidance in these troubled times, Americans would be well served to reflect on President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the middle of a horrific civil war which makes all of the conflict America finds itself in today pale in comparison:

“Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. … [T]hat He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”

God is not on our side, or the side of any single nation or people. To believe such is the ultimate expression of national hubris. To invoke such, if one is a true believer, is to embrace sacrilege and heresy. This, of course, is an individual right, granted as an extension of religious freedom. But it is not a collective right, nor is it a right born of governance, especially in a land protected by the separation of church and state.

The issue of Iran is a national problem which requires a collective debate, discussion and dialogue inclusive of all the facts, and stripped of all ideology and theocracy which would seek to deny reasoned thought conducted within a framework of accepted laws and ideals. It is grossly irresponsible of an American president to invoke the imagery of World War III without first sharing with the American people the framework of thought that produced such a comparison. Such openness will not be forthcoming from this administration or president. Not in the form of Stephen Hadley’s policy of no policy, designed with intent to avoid and subvert both bureaucratic and legislative process and oversight, or Dick Cheney’s secret government within a government, operating above and beyond the law and in a manner which violates both legal and moral norms and values, and certainly not in the president’s own private conversations with “God,” either directly or through the medium of lunatic evangelicals who embrace the termination of all we stand for, and especially the future of our next generation, in a fiery holocaust born from the fraudulent writings of centuries past. The processes which compelled George W. Bush to speak of a World War III are intentionally not transparent to the American people. The president has much to explain, and it would be incumbent upon every venue of civic and public pressure to demand that such an explanation be forthcoming in the near future. The stakes regarding Iran have always been high, but never more so than when a nation’s leader invokes the end of days as a solution.
h/t: Antiwar.com


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Cheney raises anti-Iran rhetoric By Jim Lobe

October 23, 2007

Cheney raises anti-Iran rhetoric By Jim Lobe

Dandelion Salad

By Jim Lobe
Asia Times
Inter Press Service
Oct. 22, 2007
WASHINGTON

In the harshest speech against Iran given by a top George W Bush administration official to date, Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday warned the Islamic Republic of “serious consequences” if it did not freeze its nuclear program and accused it of “direct involvement in the killings of Americans”.

“Given the nature of Iran’s rulers, the declarations of the Iranian president, and the trouble the regime is causing throughout the region – including the direct involvement in the killing of Americans – our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions,” Cheney warned in a major policy address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences,” he added. “The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

In his nearly 30-minute speech, an uncompromising defense of the Bush administration’s record in the Middle East, Cheney also claimed that, with Washington’s “surge” strategy working well against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the “greatest strategic threat that Iraq’s Shi’ites face today in consolidating their rightful role in Iraq’s new democracy is the subversive activities of the Iranian regime”.

And he accused “Syria and its agents” of using “bribery and intimidation … to prevent the democratic majority in Lebanon from electing a truly independent president”.

“Lebanon has the right to conduct the upcoming elections free of any foreign interference,” he declared, adding, “The United States will work with Free Lebanon’s other friends and allies to preserve Lebanon’s hard-won independence, and to defeat the forces of extremism and terror that threaten not only that region, but US countries [sic] across the wider region.”

Cheney’s speech comes at a moment of rising tensions between the US and Iran. Just last week, Cheney’s boss, George W Bush, warned during a brief press appearance that Tehran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon – or even the expertise needed to make one – could lead to a new world war.

“I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters, although the White House later insisted that the president was merely making a “rhetorical point” and still believed that the nuclear issue could be resolved diplomatically.

Two days later, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, had resigned and would be replaced by a less prominent diplomat Saeed Jalili. Although the government later announced that both Larijani and Jalili will attend talks Tuesday in Rome with European Union (EU) foreign-affairs chief, Javier Solana, the move was widely interpreted in Washington as a major victory for the hardline anti-Western faction behind President Mahmud Ahmadinejad against more pragmatic elements in the regime.

While Jalili lacks experience, noted Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii, “What Jalili does have is a very close relationship with Ahmadinejad. As such, the move, if it is confirmed, reflects yet another enhancement of Ahmadinejad’s fortunes in Iranian politics.”

Like Ahmadinejad, Cheney has long been seen as the leader of hardline forces within the administration, and the mere fact that his speech – which must have been cleared at the highest levels – was as belligerent as it was, especially in accusing Iran of “direct involvement in the killings of Americans”, suggests that the hawks are trying to take the offensive.

Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor Pentagon chief Robert Gates has made such an unequivocal accusation; indeed, Gates has tried to downplay such charges when they have been voiced by military commanders in Iraq.

The forum chosen by Cheney to deliver his speech was in many ways as significant as its timing and context. WINEP, a generally hawkish think-tank, was founded some 20 years ago by the research director of the highly influential lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and is funded by many of the same donors.

AIPAC, in turn, has led a high-powered effort to persuade Congress to impose tough new sanctions against Iran and foreign companies that do business with it, and, more recently, to have Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard declared a “terrorist” organization.

As Cheney himself noted Sunday, his own national security adviser, John Hannah, once served as WINEP’s deputy director. While WINEP does not take specific positions on pending legislation or policies, it is generally regarded as at least sympathetic to AIPAC’s efforts and often provides the research AIPAC uses in its lobbying activities.

Cheney’s speech was remarkable on several counts, beginning with the fact that it came less than a week after Gates gave a much more restrained presentation on US Middle East policy and the threat posed by Iran to a yet more-hawkish pro-Israel group, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

While Gates called Tehran’s government “an ambitious and fanatical theocracy”, he also stressed the importance of diplomatic pressure and, in marked contrast to Cheney, dwelt much more heavily on the threats posed by al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi movements.

Indeed, the rhetorical differences – including Gates’ effort to distinguish between Sunni jihadism and Iran and Cheney’s attempts to blur the two – could not be more pronounced.

Cheney’s speech was also notable for its aggressive and unapologetic defense of the Bush administration’s conduct of its “war on terrorism”; its insistence that the “surge” has turned the tide of the war in Iraq; and its repetition of neo-conservative notions about the importance of reacting with “swift and dire” punishment against challenges to US power in the region and the possibility that Tehran is deeply threatened by the emergence of “a strong, independent, Arab Shi’ite community” in Iraq.

He charged that Iran is a “growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East”, and he recited a long litany of grievances against it. “This same regime that approved of hostage-taking in 1979, that attacked Saudi and Kuwaiti shipping in the 1980s, that incited suicide bombings and jihadism in the 1990s and beyond, is now the world’s most active state sponsor of terror,” he declared, quoting the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus for the proposition that it is fighting a “proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq”.

“Fearful of a strong, independent, Arab Shi’ite community emerging in Iraq, one that seeks guidance not in Qom, Iran, but from traditional sources of Shi’ite authority in Najaf and Karbala, the Iranian regime also aims to keep Iraq in a state of weakness that prevents Baghdad from presenting a threat to Tehran,” he added, blaming the Quds Force, an elite branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, for providing “weapons, money and training to terrorists and Islamic militant groups abroad, including Hamas; Palestinian Islamic Jihad; militants in the Balkans, the Taliban and other anti-Afghanistan militants; and Hezbollah terrorists trying to destabilize Lebanon’s democratic government.”

He also strongly implied that Washington continues to seek “regime change” in Tehran, noting that “the irresponsible conduct of the ruling elite in Tehran is a tragedy for all Iranians” and insisting that “the spirit of freedom is stirring Iran … America looks forward to the day when Iranians reclaim their destiny; the day that our two countries, as free and democratic nations, can be the closest of friends.”

Iran, indeed, dominated the last 10 minutes of the speech. By contrast, Lebanon received only two paragraphs while the administration’s efforts to renew US-Palestinian peace talks drew only the briefest of mentions.

Bush, he said, has “announced a meeting to be held in Annapolis later this year to review the progress towards building Palestinian institutions, to seek innovative ways to support further reform, to provide diplomatic support to the parties, so that we can move forward on the path to a Palestinian state”.

(Inter Press Service)

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Caspian Summit: Putin Puts Forward A War-Avoidance Plan by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

October 23, 2007

Caspian Summit: Putin Puts Forward A War-Avoidance Plan by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, October 22, 2007

Putin has grasped the fact that what the Cheney Crowd is threatening is World War

The visit to Tehran on Oct. 16, by Russian President Vladimir Putin was officially billed as his participation in the second summit of the Caspian Sea littoral nations, convoked to deal with legal and other aspects of resource-sharing in the oil-rich waters. Although that summit did take place as scheduled, and important decisions were reached by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Iran, the main thrust of Putin’s visit was another: The Russian President’s trip–the first of a Russian head of state since the 1943 Tehran conference of war-time powers–was geared to register his government’s commitment to prevent a new war in the region, at all costs. That new war is the one on the strategic agenda of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, against Iran.

Putin’s participation in the summit, especially, his extensive personal meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, constituted a spectacular gesture manifesting Russian support for war-avoidance factions in the Iranian government, in their showdown with Cheney’s neocon war party. As one Iranian political source put it, Putin’s visit was tantamount to saying to Washington: If you want to start a war against Iran, then you have to reckon with me, and that means, with Russia, a nuclear superpower. Perhaps not coincidentally, Putin right after his return to Moscow, stated in a worldwide webcast press interview, that his nation was developing new nuclear capabilities. His Iran visit was, as one Arab diplomat told me, a message to the warmongers in Washington, that Russia is still (or again) a superpower, and is treating the Iran dossier as a test for its status as a great power.

The Caspian Sea summit was, in and of itself, productive. Although the legal status governing the sharing of the sea’s resources, was not solved, the points agreed upon in the final document of the summit constitute a great step forward in cooperation among the participating countries. Most important, the summit explicitly rejected the possibility that any one of its countries could be used for mounting aggressive acts against Iran, or any other country. It also explicitly endorsed the right of all countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. There was no mention of “concerns in the international community” about possible military applications of Tehran’s program, or the like.

Putin’s main point, which he reiterated at every possible opportunity, was: Conflicts can and must be solved through diplomatic, peaceful means. In his address to the summit on Oct. 16, Putin praised the Caspian Sea countries’ problem-solving formulae, “respecting each other’s interests and sovereignty, and refraining not only from any use of force whatsoever, but even from mentioning the use of force.” Putin went on to explain: “This is very important, as it is also important that we talk about the impossibility of allowing our own territory to be used by other countries in the event of aggression or any military actions against any one of the Caspian littoral states.” In short: The U.S. cannot count on Azerbaijan, as a launching pad for operations against Iran.

The final document also announced the decision to form a Caspian Sea Cooperation organization.

But, even more important than the summit itself, were the bilateral meetings that Putin held with Iran’s President and Supreme Leader, who is the ultimate authority in the country. Ayatollah Khamanei does not routinely receive foreign visitors to Iran, thus his meeting with the Russian President took on a special significance. During their meeting, Putin reportedly presented Khamenei with a proposal for reaching a solution to the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program. According to the Iranian state news agency IRNA, Khamenei told Putin: “We will ponder your words and proposal.”

Although details of the proposal have not been made public, some news outlets reported that Iranian “hardliners” had said the proposal called for a “time-out” on UN sanctions if Iran were to suspend uranium enrichment. “The main reason for Putin’s visit to Iran was to convey this message personally to the ultimate power in Iran,” one Iranian official was quoted as saying. Khamenei reportedly told Putin that Iran was serious about continuing its nuclear energy program, including enrichment, but was not interested in “adventurism.” If Putin did propose a “time-out,” that would be coherent with what International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Mohammad ElBaradei has been campaigning for. It may be that Moscow’s offer went beyond that of the IAEA chief.

The {Tehran Times} reported that Ali Larijani, head of the Supreme National Security Council and chief negotiator on the nuclear issue, told reporters that Putin had made a “special proposal,” and that Khamenei said it was “ponderable.”

According to a well-informed Iranian source I spoke to, Tehran would be willing to suspend its enrichment program, on condition that it received something tangible in return. This, would be a significant shift, since Iran has, to date, refused any such idea. Iran would {not}, however, be willing to give up its nuclear program as North Korea has done. Suspension of enrichment activities would be temporary, in order to facilitate negotiations, which should be oriented towards tangible results, said this source.

Whether or not this was Putin’s message is unclear. Larijani’s surprise announcement on October 20, that he was resigning, cast shadows over the situation. After Larijani had reported on the Russian president’s proposal, Ahmadinejad denied any such had been made. This led to a series of wild speculations in the press, that the “hardliners,” on orders from Ahmadinejad, were ousting Larijani and rejecting the proposal from Moscow. It must be remembered, however, that the ultimate decisions are made by Ayatollah Khamenei, and that Larijani, according to Iranian wires, will continueto attend meetings of the Supreme National Security Council, in the capacity of representative of the Supreme Leader.

In addition, Russia’s state radio RUVR reported on Oct. 16, that Putin proposed that the so-called North Korean recipe be used to settle Iran’s nuclear problem. But what he meant was perhaps not the same recipe in formal terms. His remarks were reported, just before his meeting with Ahmadinejad. Putin argued, convincingly, that U.S. threats to use armed force against North Korea had proven futile. Such threats would hardly prove efficient with regard to Iran either, he said. Trying to frighten anyone, the Iranian leaders in this case, Putin said, is a waste of time. “They are not afraid, believe me.” What should be done, he continued, is to arm oneself with patience and search for a settlement. But this is hardly possible without a dialogue with the people of Iran and Iran’s leadership. If we do have a chance to maintain direct contact, we shall do it in a bid to achieve a positive joint, let me stress it, joint result, the Russian leader said in conclusion. Thus, Putin may not have been proposing that an approach be adopted exactly like that used for North Korea — which, had already tested a nuclear weapon– but that the diplomatic process used with Korea also be used with Iran.

      – Strategic Understanding Between Tehran and Moscow –

Whatever was agreed upon behind the scenes between Putin and his high ranking Iranian counterparts, the official, rather extraordinary bilateral statement which was released after their talks, speaks volumes about Russia’s commitment to a peaceful solution to the Iran crisis.

The joint statement, in the version translated by Itar-Tass on Oct. 17, was not just a list of points of agreement, but, taken as a whole, constitutes a far-reaching commitment by both sides, to strengthen what has become a strategic understanding between Moscow and Tehran, clearly oriented towards a war-avoidance policy. The statement begins with the assertion that, “The sides confirmed that mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other areas, as well as cooperation on the international stage, meet the national interests of the two sides and play an important role in supporting peace and stability in the region and beyond.” Economic cooperation is central in this regard, especially as concerns the energy sector: “The sides spoke in favor of increasing efforts to further expand economic ties between the two countries, especially in areas like the oil and gas, nuclear power, electricity, processing and aircraft-building industries, banking and transport.”

As for nuclear energy–the issue being manipulated as a pretext for war–the statement says: “The sides noted bilateral cooperation in the area of peaceful nuclear energy and confirmed that it will continue in full compliance with the requirements of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In this regard they also noted that the construction and launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be carried out in accordance with the agreed timetable.”

In addition, the joint statement noted a contract for five Tu-204-100 aircraft to be supplied to Iran, as well as the need to create the conditions for advancing joint investment in Russia and Iran. Regarding regional infrastructure projects, the statement asserted the agreement “to continue work on the development of the north-south international transport corridor, including its automobile, rail and maritime components, in the interest of further strengthening trade and economic ties between Russia and Iran, as well as other countries of the region.

The two sides also reached agreement on “pressing regional problems,” and stressed cooperation to achieve stability and security in Central Asia. Here the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Iran is an observer, was highlighted.

As for the Caspian Sea region, the statement asserts that “the relevant norms of the agreements of 1921 and 1940 between Iran and the former Soviet Union remain in force until there is a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.” Furthermore, the two sides “advocate the exclusion from the Caspian of military presence of non-Caspian littoral states,” a clear rejection of any U.S. intentions to establish a presence in the region.

The joint statement also declared an identity of views between Tehran and Moscow on crucial foreign policy issues. They called for “building a fairer and more democratic world order which would ensure global and regional security and create favorable conditions for stable development … based on collective principles and the supremacy of international law with the United Nations Organization playing a central coordinating role….” They explicitly ruled out Cheney-style saber-rattling: “The sides confirmed their refusal to use force or threat of force to resolve contentious issues, and their respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states.”

In the context of statements of their commitment to fight terrorism, the two sides also addressed the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, and “confirmed Russia’s and Iran’s intention to continue to take part in the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan, and are interested in strengthening its statehood and the process of that country becoming a peaceful, democratic, independent and flourishing state.”

Iraq was also an important feature of the agreement. The two sides “expressed vigorous support for Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and for an end to foreign military presence in that country on the basis of the relevant schedule.” It should be noted that Putin, in his international webcast on his to Moscow, made this a central point of his polemic against Washington. Also, the joint statement called for a “just settlement” to the Middle East conflict, which may indicate renewed flexibity on Iran’s part, to accept agreements which thePalestinians (united) might make.

Finally, in a short but clear paragraph, the two “noted the need to settle the issue of Iran’s nuclear program as soon as possible by political and diplomatic means through talks and dialogue and expressed hope that a long-term comprehensive solution will be found.”

In sum, the joint statement goes far beyond any earlier definition of relations between Russia and Iran, and sends a clear message to the war party in Washington and London, that they can no longer consider Iran in isolation, but must recognize that the country has become a strategic partner of Russia, whose leadership is determined to prevent war.

   – Europeans Should Know Better –

What Putin achieved in Tehran must have sent shivers up and down the spines of Cheney and his de facto sympathizers at home and in Europe. President Bush indulged in one of his typical ranting sessions Oct. 18, in remarks to the press, in which he threatened that were Iran to achieve the knowledge required to build a bomb, then that would mean World War III were just around the corner. In Europe, members of the coalition of the spineless, had already weighed in against Putin, even attempting to dissuade the Russian leader from going to Iran. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have pressured Putin, during their Moscow visit, to join them in threatening Iran with new sanctions, if it did not meet their expectations on the nuclear issue. French President Nicolas Sarkozy had delivered a similar message. During his visit to Wiesbaden, Germany, for the Petersburg Dialogue, on Oct. 14-15, Putin was again besieged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others, with demands he get tough with Tehran.

And, in case the message had not registered, a wild story was circulated internationally, that a team of suicide bombers was primed to blow themselves and Putin up, as soon as he set foot on Iranian soil. While Iranian officials denounced the obvious psywar attributed to “foreign” intelligence services, Putin tossed the story off with a laugh, saying, were he to heed such warnings, he would never leave his home.

The point to be made is that Putin–unlike his European interlocutors–has grasped the fact that what the Cheney crowd is threatening is world war, not some political power play, and has therefore stuck to his guns. That Russia has been aware of the dangers inherent in Cheney’s planned Iran war, is nothing new. In his speech to the Munich Wehrkunde meeting early in 2007, Putin had lashed out in most undiplomatic terms, against the pretensions of the would-be leader of a presumed unipolar world, to dictate world affairs through military fiat. And, regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, Russia has been consistent in stating its position that if, 1) Iran abides by international commitments to the NPT and IAEA regime, then 2) Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology must be guaranteed, and 3) that program must not be misconstrued as a weapons program, and thus used as a pretext for military aggression.


Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

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The March to War: NATO Preparing for War with Serbia? by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

October 19, 2007

The March to War: NATO Preparing for War with Serbia? by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, October 19, 2007

Today in the globalized realm of international relations everything is interlinked. Eurasia is all but a giant jigsaw in name. Two opposite forces are creating a synthesis. This state is a result of the dynamic and static pushes to infiltrate the Eurasian Heartland and those opposed to the American-led drive of infiltration, the Eurasian reactionary outward counter-drive.

A Second Kosovo War Scenario against Serbia: NATO’s Noble Midas 2007

NATO has performed military exercises based on the scenario of a military conflict in an unnamed breakaway province in the Balkans. [1]  The breakaway province is clearly the predominately Albanian inhabited Serbian province of Kosovo. The exercises took place from September 27 till October 12, 2007 in the Adriatic Sea and Croatia according to the NATO Public Information Office in Naples, Italy. [2] The exercise was inaugurated as a “peace enforcement exercise” in the Adriatic Sea. [3]

The problems that have arisen between Kosovar Albanians and Serbia have been problems that have been mostly fueled by NATO powers. In fact the issue of full independence was not a problem between Serbia and the Kosovar Albanians before 1999. Kosovo’s Albanians also enjoyed autonomy from Belgrade for many years. It has only been under the influence of NATO that animosity has been raised between the two sides.

Croatia and Albania have also participating in the NATO exercise and both are projected to have roles in any future war against Serbia and its regional allies and supporters inside Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro over the fate of Kosovo. Many Croats are also unhappy about their government’s decision to coordinate or cooperate with NATO, which they view with suspicion and as a destabilizing force in the Balkans.

According to a NATO press release, “Approximately 2,000 military and 50 civilian personnel, over 30 ships and submarines and 20 fixed-wing aircraft from NATO and the Croatian Armed Forces will train together in a Crisis Response Operation scenario, where NATO is appointed by the U.N. to build up an immediate reaction in a fictitious country on the brink of civil war.” [4]

It is clear that NATO intends to settle the issue of Kosovo through military means. Rear-Admiral Alain Hinden, the French commandant of the NATO exercise has made a statement that is a dead giveaway about the underlying intentions of NATO in regards to the exercise: “This exercise has been designed for years. The U.N. and NATO are training for this type of real intervention, of humanitarian assistance be it in this region [the Balkans] or anywhere else in the world.” [5]

NATO Military Integration: Preparing the World for a Broader War?

According to the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), “With the military forces of Western [meaning NATO] nations stretched, particularly those of the U.S. and U.K. [in Iraq and Afghanistan], flexibility and adaptability are becoming increasingly important.” [6]

Commander Cunningham, a British naval officer, aboard the H.M.S. Illustrious in the Adriatic Sea, off the coastline of the former Yugoslavia and Albania, has told the BBC’s Nick Hawton that “integrating [NATO] forces at this level has simply not happened before.” [7]

Commander Cunningham also clarified how NATO forces are being merged: “Military equipment is hugely expensive and it’s impossible for each nation to hold individually the whole repertoire. What we’re seeing here is the ability of several nations to provide a capability together that no-one could alone.” [8]

The BBC also quotes Lieutenant Eduardo Lopez, a Spanish air officer or pilot, as saying “right now all these countries [meaning NATO members] are working together. You realise you can operate as a joint force community…” [9]

NATO is clearly pooling its resources together; but what for? The answer lies eastward in the Eurasian Heartland where Russia, Iran, China, and their allies have gradually huddled together in sculpting a far larger Eurasian counter-alliance.

A new cycle of global war seems to be in the works for the Twenty-First Century. According to various reports in Russia approximately a quarter of the population believe that Russia and the U.S. will eventually go to war in the future.  In China there are also similar views amongst the population.

Kosovo and Monetary Colonization

The euro is officially shared by thirteen E.U. members and their dependencies. However, it is also used by Montenegro and Kosovo too.

In a divulging statement Amelia Torres, an E.U. spokeswoman, claimed that the E.U. opposed currency “euro-ization” in other states unless they join the European Union: “The conditions for the adoption of the euro are clear,” she told reporters. “That means, first and foremost, to be a member of the EU.” [10]

The fate of Kosovo under this declaration in the eyes of the E.U. is clear. It should also be noted that it has been under the presence of NATO troops and both U.S. and E.U. officials that Kosovo adopted the euro as its currency.

A Dangerous International Trend: World War in the Horizon?

As tensions rise over Kosovo in the Balkans, tensions between Russia and China with the U.S. and NATO are also rising in regards to Iran and other countries and issues. From Myanmar (Burma) and the Korean Peninsula to Sudan and the Balkans, the U.S. and its allies are facing-off against Russia, China, and their allies. The Persian Gulf and the Levant are also two of these fronts where Iran and Syria are opposing the encroachment of the U.S. and NATO.

The SCO and the CSTO alliance have also signed an October 2007 defence agreement which formalizes the existence of a Sino-Russian military bloc from Eastern Europe to the Pacific shorelines of Asia. [11] All the members of CSTO, with the exception of Belarus and Armenia, are members of the SCO. China is now a semi-formal CSTO member. Russia has also announced that all CSTO members will enjoy internal Russian prices on military hardware. [12]  

The U.S. Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, has also wrapped up an official tour of Latin America in Suriname. The U.S. is contemplating establishing a base in Suriname, near Venezuela. [13] This is part of a broader effort to encircle and isolate Venezuela and its Latin American allies. The U.S. Secretary of Defence’s tour itinerary also is a giveaway to American intentions in Latin America. His tour included Chile (which borders Bolivia), El Salvador (near Nicaragua), Columbia (next to Venezuela), Peru (bordering both Bolivia and Venezuela), and Suriname.

On Iran’s borders with NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan a new Iranian air base has been built. The Russian News and Information Agency, RIA Novosti, has reported that during the inauguration of the air base the Commander of the Air Force stated “The base is designed to enhance the combat readiness of our Armed Forces in standing up to possible aggression against our country.” [14] Clearly the new Iranian air base is in response to NATO forces in Afghanistan and the U.S. air base built in Afghanistan next to the Iranian border. The U.S. is also building bases on the Iranian border in Iraq and constructing military positions next to the border areas of Russia, China, and Belarus.

The U.S., along with Australia, Canada, Britain, and Guam has also planned large scale war games and anti-terrorist security exercises that involve NORAD, the Pentagon, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The exercise appears to anticipate some form of nuclear reprisals in the continental United States that could be part of a terrorist attack (that may be blamed on Iran) or military attacks from China and Russia. [15]

Vigilant Shield 2008 ties a terrorist attack scenario to the domestic use of the U.S. military within American cities and a broader global war. It is already known from the statements about Vigilant Shield 2007, which was held in 2006, that the U.S. is contemplating a nuclear war against Russia and China, in connection with attacks on Iran. [07]

NOTES

[1] Croatia hosts major Nato exercise, British Broadcasting Service (BBC), October 10, 2007.

[2] NATO NRF Exercises Peace Enforcement in the Adriatic Sea: CC-MAR Press Release {16}, NATO Public Information Office, September 25, 2007 (Updated September 27, 2007).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Croatia hosts Nato, Op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7]
Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] EU warns other nations about using the euro as its currency, Associated Press, October 8, 2007.

[11] Vladimir Radyuhin, Defence pact to balance NATO, The Hindu, October 7, 2007.

[12] CSTO to receive RF weapons at internal prices, ITAR-TASS News Agency, October 6, 2007.

[13] Ivan Cairo, US proposes military site in Suriname, Carribean Net News, October 8, 2007.

[14] Iran builds air base near Afghan border, Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti), October 9, 2007.

[15] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Vigilant Shield 2008: Terrorism, Air Defences, and the Domestic Deployment of the US Military, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), October 6, 2007; Michel Chossoduvsky, Dangerous Crossroads: US Sponsored War Games, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), October 6, 2007.

[16] William A. Arkin, Early Warning: Russia Supports North Korea in Nuclear War, The Washington Post (Opinion Blog), October 6, 2007.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

How Clinton Set the Stage for Bush By Mark H. Gaffney

October 19, 2007

How Clinton Set the Stage for Bush By Mark H. Gaffney

Dandelion Salad

By Mark H. Gaffney
10/18/07 “
ICH

At the end of the Cold War the peoples of the earth shared a rare moment in human history. In fact, nothing like it had ever happened before. The United Sates stood alone as the lone planetary Superpower. The American star which had been rising since the second World War had now reached its zenith. For whatever reason, it seemed that destiny had selected the United States for a special role: to guide the community of nations into a period of unparalleled peace and prosperity. With the fading of East-West tensions this and much more seemed within reach. For a brief time it did appear that anything was possible. And why not? After all, the United States faced no serious military challenges. The US dollar was the favored currency in international exchange. In fact, it had been for decades. English was the lingua franca of science, diplomacy and commerce. Almost the entire world acknowledged US leadership. American culture was widely imitated. Together, this was unprecedented. Never had one nation, let alone a democracy, achieved such global influence. America had both the prestige and the power literally to shape the future of humanity.

Legacy of the Cold War

The world was desperate for a new vision. This was true for many reasons, but primarily because the titanic struggle between capitalism and socialism had been enormously destructive. The forty-five year Cold War had been waged on many fronts and in the most improbable places. It was an ideological war, not a clash of civilizations. As the vying spheres of influence ebbed and flowed across the continents, numerous nations were drawn in. Proxy wars raged along the tectonic margins and at the friction points where East and West collided. Neither side could defeat the other militarily without destroying itself, because the epic struggle was governed by a mad doctrine, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It was a fitting acronym for an insane time, and also a cruel paradox. For decades the world, rigged to a trip wire, could neither stand still nor move forward. The added rub, which I believe the world sensed intuitively, was that the precarious balance could not be sustained indefinitely. Of course, looking back it is now clear that that the Cold War itself, I mean the idea of the Cold War, was a carefully cultivated illusion: a false reality; but that is another story. Certainly the consequences were real enough. Citizens of the planet who lived through the period know what it means to live wedged between impossible alternatives–––the unthinkable on one hand and the unendurable on the other. Many were crushed beneath these wheels. Some nations were utterly destroyed, even beyond hope of recovery. The list of victims is long, and includes Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, East Timor, Ethiopia, Granada, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Somalia, Sudan, and Viet Nam. No doubt, there are others…

Even as the Cold War trampled on the rights of indigenous people everywhere it despoiled the global environment. Toxic mayhem on a vast scale accompanied the nuclear arms race. Entire regions were affected and many were ruined or left permanently scarred. The open wounds from the heyday of uranium mining still deface the landscapes of the American southwest. As I write, Navaho children play on the tailing piles, amidst the radioactive dust, left behind by soul-less corporations that appeared on the scene, eager to make a fast buck, boomed briefly, then disappeared or were swallowed, in turn, by still larger corporations with even less of a conscience. Even worse scars can be found in the former Soviet republics where whole provinces were poisoned by catastrophic accidents at Sverdlovsk and Chernobyl, and entire districts, such as the Aral Sea region, were despoiled by central planning gone amok.

Dashed Hopes

By any measure, the toll of the Cold War was incalculable, and it’s no wonder that when the corrupt old Soviet state finally collapsed under its own weight the world’s response was: good riddance! The dismantling of the Iron Curtain was attended by joyous celebration across Europe. For a brief moment hope soared. In the US there was even talk of a peace dividend. Everywhere people dared to believe that the victory of the West presaged a new era of international cooperation, now desperately needed to address a long list of pressing problems, among them Third World poverty, overpopulation, the challenge of sustainable development, the energy crisis, AIDs, and the environment. Most importantly, at long last real progress toward nuclear disarmament seemed within reach. All eyes now turned to the West and especially to Washington for answers and for leadership. Yet, as I write in October 2007 it is painfully obvious, and has been for most of the presidency of George W. Bush, that the high hopes have been dashed. All that remains is the question: How and why did this happen? It is a difficult question, admittedly, but if we are to find our way back and regain a measure of hope, we must face it with brutal honesty.

Today, many Americans hold G. W. Bush personally responsible for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere that have brought about America’s increasing isolation in the world. Many also blame Bush for the general decline in our fortunes and for the dimming of hope. While I am no friend of the Bush administration, I do not entirely agree with this view, because I take issue with those who still naively believe in a partisan solution. The truth is more complex. In fact, the previous Democratic administration of William Jefferson Clinton bears a large measure of responsibility for the disasters that have befallen us. In many ways the Clinton White House set the stage for George W. Bush. Dr. Helen Caldicott, the tireless campaigner against nuclear oblivion, writes that she got the wake-up call about Clinton in 1999 when she was invited to attend a meeting in Florida about the weaponization of space. Caldicott was aghast as she listened to knowledgeable individuals describe US military planning, then current. Like many of us, she had trusted Bill Clinton, and had believed he was taking care of the nation’s business. Suddenly, Caldicott realized she had been living in a fool’s paradise. She writes:

“To my horror I found that seventy-five military industrial corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, TRW Aerojet, Hughes Space, Sparta Corp, and Vista Technologies had produced a Long Range Plan, written with the cooperation of the US Space Command, announcing a declaration of US space leadership and calling for the funding of defensive system and ‘a seamlessly integrated force of theatre land, sea, air and space capabilities through a world-wide global defense information network.’ The US Space Command would also ‘hold at risk’ a finite number of ‘high-value’ earth targets with near instantaneous force application–––the ability to kill from space…I also discovered that the much-vaunted missile defense system was to be closely integrated with the weaponization of space, and that all of the hardware and software would be made by the same firms, at the combined cost of hundreds of billions of dollars to the US taxpayers.”[1]

The plan envisaged “full spectrum dominance,” that is, US military domination of land, sea, air and space. Although US planners sought to portray this next generation of technological wizardry as defensive, in actuality, the planned systems, if implemented, amounted to a major break with the 1972 ABM Treaty, and with long-standing US commitments to maintain the peaceful status of outer space. The cold logic of dominance meant that the project was offensive in nature. But why? Exactly who was to be targeted? Which enemies? Remember, this was 1999. The Cold War had been over for some years. Both Russia and the US were then cooperating to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals. The START reductions were limited, to be sure, but the process was moving in the right direction and further reductions were possible. Obviously, the US military’s sweeping new plans for the domination of space threatened to undo all of this progress toward a more sane planet. It was obvious to Caldicott that a precious opportunity was in danger of being squandered, perhaps forever. The new space weapons threatened to trigger a new arms race and, very likely, another cycle of world conflict. Caldicott writes that she staggered home from the meeting determined “to become re-involved in educating the public about the impending catastrophe associated with the mad plans of the US Space Command and its associated corporations…”

The Critical Path: Swords into Plowshares

The point is that not even one of the new weapons systems being planned were needed. In fact, the grand plan for space, if implemented, would have benefited no one but a few arms manufacturers and, of course, the bankers who finance such deranged schemes–––all at immense cost to the US taxpayer. The plans were in direct conflict with then-current US foreign policies. The weaponization of space was diametrically opposed to the limited nuclear arms reductions then in progress, yet, was being presented as in the best interests of America: a case of mendacity so brazen one has to wonder how the selfish individuals who cooked it up could sleep at night.

As I’ve noted, the end of the Cold War presented America and the world with a golden opportunity to move in a new direction, a direction that was, in fact, essential for the survival of our planetary civilization. As a younger man I was an admirer of the late R. Buckminster Fuller. The inventor is probably best known for the geodesic dome, but Fuller also popularized the concept of the “critical path.”[2] It is an expression used by engineers and it means exactly what it suggests. The idea is that if we are to become sustainable on “spaceship earth” and avoid destroying our planetary home we must learn to live within the physical limitations or budget imposed by Nature. This, in turn, requires that we drastically reduce our human “footprint” by becoming much more efficient in the way we use energy and natural resources. Fuller was a firm believer in human ingenuity, and he often argued that our predicament called for a designer revolution on various levels, both economic and social. None of the steps in the critical path are optional, from the standpoint of survival. Taken together, they should be understood as the minimum requirements necessary for the long-term success of the human enterprise. While experts often disagree, at the end of the Cold War the single most urgent step was obvious, or should have been, to every thinking person; and this includes the newly elected President Bill Clinton, who entered the White House in 1992 on a wave of high hopes.

As the first US president to be inaugurated in the post-Cold War era, Bill Clinton’s number one priority should have been to meet with our Russian neighbors at an early date, and to negotiate with them a mutual halt in nuclear weapons production and research, as well as a rapid build-down of existing nuclear stockpiles and delivery systems. It was also imperative that Clinton give firm direction to the US military. The Pentagon had to be made to understand that because the Cold War was now thankfully over the nation must chart a new path, one that required the urgent redeployment of resources away from the nuclear arms race. A key part of this redirection would be the announcement of a vital new mission for the national weapons labs (Lawrence, Los Alamos, and Sandia). Henceforth, the labs would cease most weapons-related research/development and would redirect their considerable energies and talents in a positive direction, the new mission being a Manhattan-scale project to solve the nation’s energy problem. The goal would be to wean America from its unhealthy dependence on coal and foreign oil. Clinton would instruct the labs to engineer a phased transition toward abundant and clean energy alternatives at the earliest possible date; and to make it happen he would also press Congress to appropriate the needed funding. Efforts would focus on a range of promising technologies, but especially wind, solar, tidal, and hydrogen. Meanwhile, the nuclear establishment would be stripped of its vast subsidies. Although in a bye-gone era these were a sound idea, the nuclear establishment had produced no energy solutions, despite years of preferential treatment. Indeed, the vast monies lavished upon it had succeeded only in creating another bureaucratic dinosaur. In fact,the nuclear industry itself had become an impediment to change, because its enormous subsidies undermined healthy market forces. Henceforth, nuclear power would have to compete on a more equal playing field with other alternatives. Assisting market forces to operate would be essential to the transition to clean energy; and for this reason another goal would be to achieve the economies of scale necessary to bring down the costs of clean and renewable alternatives. The end result would be greatly enhanced national productivity, the creation of whole new sectors of the economy, boosted foreign earnings, and millions of high-paying new jobs here in the US. Resources would also be redirected to a long list of outstanding social and environmental problems. At the top of the latter list: the urgent clean-up of the toxic mess created by the nuclear establishment during a profligate half-century of out-of-control weapons development. This alone would cost an estimated $350 billion (in 1995 dollars, according to the Department of Energy [DoE]), a whopping figure that does not even include the costs associated with cleaning up the mess at the Hanford reservation, the Nevada Test Site, and the Savannah and Clinch nuclear facilities, all so contaminated that a solution may not even be feasible.

Some will argue that the above visionary plan was (and is) unrealistically utopian–––too much to expect of any US president, let alone the Clinton White House. But I take strong exception with this viewpoint, because in the 1990s the transition I have described was already within reach. Few major technological breakthroughs were needed. Many of the important alternatives were already “on the shelf” and could have been brought to maturity without undue economic strain. Some, no doubt, would have become mainstream long since but for bureaucratic inertia and because powerful vested interests have actively suppressed them–––interests, I should add, that have long sought to keep America addicted to oil. No, what was needed more than anything was genuine leadership in the Clinton White House, in order to beak through the inertial barriers and confront the vested interests. What is the role of a president, after all, if not to use the power of his office (the bully pulpit) to catalyze changes that are needed for the good of the nation? This is precisely why a president must stand above special interests. In the early years of his presidency Clinton did not lack for popular support. A solid majority of the American people elected Clinton because they wanted change; and they looked to him to make the tough decisions. This is not just my opinion. Other commentators have also pointed this out. Bill Clinton entered office with tremendous political capital, yet, incredibly, he never used it. The crucial factor was leadership, and he simply failed to deliver. There are various theories as to why. Dr. Caldicott’s frank assessment will make Democrats uncomfortable, but in my opinion it carries the ring of truth. Caldicott thinks Clinton lacked the necessary strength of character, and she has it right.

Clinton’s Nuclear Policy Review: A Diminished Presidency?

Like other newly elected presidents, Bill Clinton soon ordered a policy review of US nuclear weapons doctrine. The review was of vital importance and required that Clinton become personally involved to insure its success. This also meant taking charge of the Pentagon as the commander-in-chief. Unfortunately, instead of asserting his authority, Clinton vacillated, as if he were unclear himself about priorities and objectives. The policy review was eventually delegated to mid-level officials who were easily outmaneuvered by hard-liners in the military. The generals opposed any changes in US nuclear policy and they ultimately won a decisive victory. This was a major defeat for Clinton, and one from which it seems he never recovered. Caldicott speculates that Clinton, thereafter, sought to compensate for his loss of standing by using military force abroad on more occasions than any president in two decades. She may be right. The point is that Clinton’s attempts to placate the Pentagon were no substitute for leadership. This probably explains why, even today, Clinton is widely viewed with contempt within the US armed services. Soldiers naturally respect strength and revile weakness.

Clinton’s diminished presidency did not become evident, however, for some years. Certainly none of this was immediately obvious. At the 1995 Nonproliferation Review (NPT) Conference the Clinton administration, to all appearances, achieved a major success by persuading a majority of nations to agree to an indefinite extension of the NPT. This success was probably due to Clinton’s vocal support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and because the US delegation agreed to a list of noble principles reaffirming the US obligation under Article VI of the NPT to take steps in the near future toward complete disarmament. The world did not then know that Clinton was about to violate those same principles, by succumbing to a deal with hard-line elements within his own administration. This in itself is an indication of Clinton’s failed leadership, for only a weak president would ever agree to such a back-room deal. What was this deal? The US Department of Energy (DoE), representing the national weapons labs, agreed to back Clinton’s support of the Comprehensible Test Ban only if Clinton agreed to preserve the labs’ traditional role as nuclear overseers; which, of course, meant preserving the nuclear arsenal itself. And so was born the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, otherwise known as Manhattan II. Although its stated purpose seemed innocuous: to insure the safety and reliability of the US nuclear stockpile, in reality, the program would maintain various nuclear research and development programs at roughly Cold War levels for many years. Additionally, the package created new computational and simulation programs to compensate for the anticipated ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is known that nuclear research secretly continued at Los Alamos–––in violation of the NPT. This came to light in 1995 when Dr. Don Wolkerstorfer, a Los Alamos manager, mentioned a new bunker buster, the B-61-11, during a radio debate.[3] The B-61-11 is a variable-yield nuclear penetrator (maximum yield: 340 kilotons). The following year Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson Kenneth Bacon revealed that other earth penetrators were also in the works. Bacon told reporters that “We are now working on a series of weapons, both nuclear and conventional, to deal with deeply buried targets.”[4] There were even indications that the labs were moving ahead on an even more ambitious effort to develop the next generation of nuclear weapons. On April 25, 1997, the physicist Hans Bethe, the most senior surviving scientist from the Manhattan Project, sent a letter to Clinton, a letter that one day may have historic significance. In it Bethe urged the president to halt research on new weapons designs, including a pure fusion bomb, long regarded as the nuclear Holy Grail. Bethe, who led the theoretical division at Los Alamos during the development of the Atomic Bomb, was long retired. Yet, he maintained contacts in the labs and was informed about the kind of research that was underway. Bethe informed Clinton that the US already possessed more than sufficient weapons for it security, and he urged that

“…the time has come for our Nation to declare that it is not working, in any way, to develop further weapons of mass destruction of any kind. In particular, this means not financing work looking toward the possibility of new designs for nuclear weapons. And it certainly means not working on new types of nuclear weapons, such as pure-fusion weapons.”[5]

Bethe deserved to be taken seriously. After all, he won the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics for describing the fusion process that drives the stars. In his letter Bethe further wrote that because “new types of weapons [i.e., a pure fusion bomb] would, in time, spread to others and present a threat to us, it is logical for us not to pioneer further in this field.” Although the great physicist affirmed his support for the stewardship program, he also cautioned that computational experiments could be used to design new categories of weapons, even in the absence of underground testing. For this reason Bethe urged Clinton not to fund such programs. Again, this was sage counsel. It is believed that Israel evaded international detection while clandestinely developing nuclear weapons by this very means, i.e., through the use of computational models and computer simulations. Israel, which has never signed the NPT, is known to have staged only a very few small nuclear tests, perhaps even as few as one.[6] Yet, Israel succeeded in developing a large and advanced nuclear arsenal. Six weeks later Bethe received a polite reply from Clinton, in which the president deftly side-stepped all of the main points Bethe had raised.

Just five months later, in November 1997, Clinton issued a presidential directive, PDD-60, formalizing the outcome of his nuclear policy review. Most of the document remained classified, but more than enough was released to serve notice to the world that the United States had now become a far greater threat to the nonproliferation treaty than any terrorist or rogue state.[7] Clinton’s directive flew squarely in the face of the noble principles he had agreed to at the 1995 NPT conference. The directive reaffirmed the logic of the Cold War and announced a cornucopia of new spending to be showered upon the nuclear establishment over the next two decades. The directive announced that the US would maintain the status quo, that is, the Cold War triad of nuclear forces (i.e., bombers, ICBMs and submarines) as well as the hair-trigger launch-on-warning posture. The US insisted upon the right to nuclear first-use and even the right to use nukes against non-nuclear states that might somehow threaten US “interests.” These shocking revelations were unprecedented. The US also rejected a Russian proposal for deeper cuts in the number of strategic warheads. Instead, the US would move ahead with plans to upgrade the US Trident missile force and the B-2 bomber. The US would also resume production of plutonium pits, which are the fissile cores used in nuclear weapons. The directive reaffirmed the new emphasis on sub-critical testing and advanced computer modeling procedures: the very thing that Hans Bethe had cautioned against. Additionally, the US announced that it would resume production of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen used in thermonuclear weapons. The stated purpose was to provide additional supplies for the stewardship program. Because tritium has a half-life of twelve years, the tritium gas used in nuclear weapons decays and periodically must be replenished. Even so, the explanation was dubious, since tritium can be scavenged from deactivated weapons and recycled. Given even modest reductions in the size of the US nuclear force, in 1997 there was at least a thirty-year supply for the stewardship program.[8] This hinted that Hans Bethe was correct and the US was already secretly developing the next generation of nukes. As if all of this were not enough, the directive also announced that the US would complete construction of a brand new National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory, where the world’s most powerful lasers would be used to study nuclear fusion–––another clue.

These policies had been decided with no public debate or consultations with Congress. Ten years later, it appears that Clinton had made a bargain with the devil. He may have acted in the mistaken belief that the much-anticipated ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban by the US Senate would provide him some flexibility, allowing him to later rescind at least some of the newly announced policies. As we know, of course, in 1998 the Republican-controlled Senate rejected the Test Ban, dealing Clinton a stinging defeat. Obviously, Clinton’s attempts to placate the militarists in his administration backfired, with the tragic result of locking the US into a Cold War posture for many years to come, even though the Cold War was long over. All of which raises serious questions about Bill Clinton’s style of leadership, or lack thereof. But his character issues were not limited to placating generals. The more fundamental problem is that he chose to serve a small group of rich and powerful men, instead of serving the nation.

Clinton’s Expansion of NATO

For many years, during the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the first line of defense against a possible Soviet attack on Western Europe. But when the old Soviet state collapsed in the late 1980s during the presidency of Mikhail Gorbachev, NATO’s original purpose also ceased to exist. Later, when the Berlin wall came down, President George Bush Sr. assured Gorbachev that the US would not expand NATO into eastern Europe, if Russia did not oppose the reunification of Germany. The agreement was mutually beneficial, and Russia was true to its word. However, during his second term in the White House Clinton reneged on Bush’s promise by proposing to admit eastern European nations to the NATO alliance, starting with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, went on tour promoting the new plan. She argued that NATO expansion was a good idea because it would stabilize central Europe politically and economically. Thoughtful critics, however, such as former Senator Sam Nunn (R-GA), a long-time expert on US nuclear policy, pointed out that because Moscow would naturally view the eastward expansion of NATO as a threat to its national security, the probable consequence would be exactly the opposite. Clinton’s plan would destabilize Europe, stall progress toward arms reductions, and over the long term might even lead to a new Cold War. The critics also warned that the US taxpayer would pick up much of the tab for NATO expansion to the tune of many billions of dollars, most of which would end up in the bank accounts of various arms merchants. Yet, in 1998, with almost no debate the US Congress closed ranks behind Clinton and voted to support NATO expansion.

With hindsight, the critics were correct. Despite claims by the Clinton administration to the contrary, the expansion of NATO into eastern Europe was not in the best interests of the United States, nor in the best interests of Europe. At the time, the relatively poor nations of eastern Europe did not have money to waste on arms. Their top priority was to rebuild their infrastructure after the disaster of communism, and to improve the lives of their people. Of course, Washington promised that in return for purchasing our weapons the US would support their entry in the European Union (EU), which most of western Europe opposed at the time. Yet, this was an illusion, since their purchase of large quantities of US weapons actually slowed their economic recovery, and this more than anything delayed their entry into the European Union. No, the primary beneficiaries of NATO expansion were the US arms makers and their financial backers on Wall Street. All of whom saw in the break-up of the former Soviet bloc an opportunity to enrich themselves. A scurrilous lot, they can only be compared with the wave of carpetbaggers who infested the southern states after the American Civil War, for the purpose of exploiting the defeated Confederacy. The US arms industry, the world’s largest, spent millions successfully lobbying the US Congress and the Clinton administration to expand NATO, and subsequently they cashed-in on this vast new arms bazaar. As early as 1995 Clinton had telegraphed his obeisance to these same powerful interests when he issued presidential directive 41, which announced that arms sales were essential for preserving US jobs. The directive instructed US diplomats to get busy and boost foreign sales of US-made weapons for the good of the economy. Obviously, Clinton found it easier to maintain the status quo, however perilous, rather than use the considerable power of his office to change that reality and move the nation away from the weapons economy built up during the Cold War. When Moscow protested the expansion of NATO Clinton brushed aside Russia’s security concerns with practiced aplomb. The president insisted that NATO was a force for stability, and his casual demeanor seemed to make light of this quaint idea that NATO might somehow threaten the Russians. How absurd!

Today, of course, as George W. Bush prepares to install an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system in Poland and a new ABM radar site in the Czech Republic, on Russia’s doorstep, and as we hover on the brink of world war, it is perfectly clear that Moscow’s concerns were well-founded. The issue is why our former president, a Rhodes scholar, was purblind to the fact, ten years ago. The truth is that Bill Clinton’s expansion of NATO was never about the stability of Europe. It was never about US or global security. It was always about one thing: the sale of weapons for profit. All of this becomes more obvious as the world situation deteriorates, yet, the Democratic candidates in the presidential marathon apparently still don’t get it. As far as I can tell, they have been conspicuously silent about Clinton’s failed NATO policy. Which I take as a sober commentary on our deaf and dumb political culture. Someone needs to corner Hillary and ask her this pointed question, on camera: Why did your husband put the interests of the weapons manufacturers and bankers above the interests of our nation and our planet? Why, Hillary? Because there is no doubt that Bill’s NATO policy set the stage for the disasters that have overtaken us. Perhaps the real issue is whether Hillary, or any of the Democratic front-runners, have the integrity and courage to answer a simple question.

Mark H. Gaffney’s latest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was a finalist for the 2004 Narcissus Book Award. Mark can be reached for comment at markhgaffney@earthlink.net Check out Mark’s web site www.GnosticSecrets.com


[1] Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath, War in Heaven: The Arms Race and Outer Space, The New Press, New York, 2007, p. ix; also see Helen Caldicott, The New Nuclear Danger, The New Press, New York, 2004.

[2] Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 1982.

[3] Broadcast by radio station KSFR in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 18, 1995. For more details about the B-61-11 go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B61_nuclear_bomb

[4] Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), DoD News Briefing, Tuesday April 23, 1996.

[5] The text of Bethe’s letter, and Clinton’s reply, have been posted by the Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/bethecr#letter

[6] Mark Gaffney, Dimona: The Third Temple?, Amana Books, Brattleboro, 1989, chapters 4 and 5.

[7] For an excellent discussion of PDD-60 see Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll, USN (ret), “The NPT Review — Last Chance?”, The Defense Monitor, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, 2000. Posted at http://www.cdi.org/dm/2000/issue3/NPT.html

[8] Kenneth D. Bergeron, Tritium On Ice, MIT Press, 2002. Also see Charles D. Ferguson’s review in the March/April 2003 issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (vol. 59, no. 02) pp. 70-72.

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