Archive for the ‘Nukes’ Category

Preparing the Battlefield

June 30, 2008

Preparing the Battlefield

The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh July 7, 2008

Operations outside the knowledge and control of commanders have eroded “the coherence of military strategy,” one general says.

Operations outside the knowledge and control of commanders have eroded “the coherence of military strategy,” one general says.

L ate last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.

The request for funding came in the same period in which the Administration was coming to terms with a National Intelligence Estimate, released in December, that concluded that Iran had halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003. The Administration downplayed the significance of the N.I.E., and, while saying that it was committed to diplomacy, continued to emphasize that urgent action was essential to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. President Bush questioned the N.I.E.’s conclusions, and senior national-security officials, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, made similar statements. (So did Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee.) Meanwhile, the Administration also revived charges that the Iranian leadership has been involved in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq: both directly, by dispatching commando units into Iraq, and indirectly, by supplying materials used for roadside bombs and other lethal goods. (There have been questions about the accuracy of the claims; the Times, among others, has reported that “significant uncertainties remain about the extent of that involvement.”)

Military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon share the White House’s concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but there is disagreement about whether a military strike is the right solution. Some Pentagon officials believe, as they have let Congress and the media know, that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue, and that more diplomacy is necessary.

A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.” (A spokesman for Gates confirmed that he discussed the consequences of a strike at the meeting, but would not address what he said, other than to dispute the senator’s characterization.)

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose chairman is Admiral Mike Mullen, were “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran, the person familiar with the Finding told me. Similarly, a Pentagon consultant who is involved in the war on terror said that “at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders”—the four-star officers who direct military operations around the world—“have weighed in on that issue.”

The most outspoken of those officers is Admiral William Fallon, who until recently was the head of U.S. Central Command, and thus in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March, Fallon resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran. For example, late last year he told the Financial Times that the “real objective” of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior, and that “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”

Admiral Fallon acknowledged, when I spoke to him in June, that he had heard that there were people in the White House who were upset by his public statements. “Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians,” he told me. “Let’s get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone’s an individual. The idea that they’re only one way or another is nonsense.”

When it came to the Iraq war, Fallon said, “Did I bitch about some of the things that were being proposed? You bet. Some of them were very stupid.”

The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Senior Democrats in Congress told me that they had concerns about the possibility that their understanding of what the new operations entail differs from the White House’s. One issue has to do with a reference in the Finding, the person familiar with it recalled, to potential defensive lethal action by U.S. operatives in Iran. (In early May, the journalist Andrew Cockburn published elements of the Finding in Counterpunch, a newsletter and online magazine.)

The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

“This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

“The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

The defensive-lethal language led some Democrats, according to congressional sources familiar with their views, to call in the director of the C.I.A., Air Force General Michael V. Hayden, for a special briefing. Hayden reassured the legislators that the language did nothing more than provide authority for Special Forces operatives on the ground in Iran to shoot their way out if they faced capture or harm.

The legislators were far from convinced. One congressman subsequently wrote a personal letter to President Bush insisting that “no lethal action, period” had been authorized within Iran’s borders. As of June, he had received no answer.

Members of Congress have expressed skepticism in the past about the information provided by the White House. On March 15, 2005, David Obey, then the ranking Democrat on the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee, announced that he was putting aside an amendment that he had intended to offer that day, and that would have cut off all funding for national-intelligence programs unless the President agreed to keep Congress fully informed about clandestine military activities undertaken in the war on terror. He had changed his mind, he said, because the White House promised better coöperation. “The Executive Branch understands that we are not trying to dictate what they do,” he said in a floor speech at the time. “We are simply trying to see to it that what they do is consistent with American values and will not get the country in trouble.”

Obey declined to comment on the specifics of the operations in Iran, but he did tell me that the White House reneged on its promise to consult more fully with Congress. He said, “I suspect there’s something going on, but I don’t know what to believe. Cheney has always wanted to go after Iran, and if he had more time he’d find a way to do it. We still don’t get enough information from the agencies, and I have very little confidence that they give us information on the edge.”

None of the four Democrats in the Gang of Eight—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, and House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes—would comment on the Finding, with some noting that it was highly classified. An aide to one member of the Democratic leadership responded, on his behalf, by pointing to the limitations of the Gang of Eight process. The notification of a Finding, the aide said, “is just that—notification, and not a sign-off on activities. Proper oversight of ongoing intelligence activities is done by fully briefing the members of the intelligence committee.” However, Congress does have the means to challenge the White House once it has been sent a Finding. It has the power to withhold funding for any government operation. The members of the House and Senate Democratic leadership who have access to the Finding can also, if they choose to do so, and if they have shared concerns, come up with ways to exert their influence on Administration policy. (A spokesman for the C.I.A. said, “As a rule, we don’t comment one way or the other on allegations of covert activities or purported findings.” The White House also declined to comment.)

A member of the House Appropriations Committee acknowledged that, even with a Democratic victory in November, “it will take another year before we get the intelligence activities under control.” He went on, “We control the money and they can’t do anything without the money. Money is what it’s all about. But I’m very leery of this Administration.” He added, “This Administration has been so secretive.”

One irony of Admiral Fallon’s departure is that he was, in many areas, in agreement with President Bush on the threat posed by Iran. They had a good working relationship, Fallon told me, and, when he ran CENTCOM, were in regular communication. On March 4th, a week before his resignation, Fallon testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that he was “encouraged” about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding the role played by Iran’s leaders, he said, “They’ve been absolutely unhelpful, very damaging, and I absolutely don’t condone any of their activities. And I have yet to see anything since I’ve been in this job in the way of a public action by Iran that’s been at all helpful in this region.”

Fallon made it clear in our conversations that he considered it inappropriate to comment publicly about the President, the Vice-President, or Special Operations. But he said he had heard that people in the White House had been “struggling” with his views on Iran. “When I arrived at CENTCOM, the Iranians were funding every entity inside Iraq. It was in their interest to get us out, and so they decided to kill as many Americans as they could. And why not? They didn’t know who’d come out ahead, but they wanted us out. I decided that I couldn’t resolve the situation in Iraq without the neighborhood. To get this problem in Iraq solved, we had to somehow involve Iran and Syria. I had to work the neighborhood.”

Fallon told me that his focus had been not on the Iranian nuclear issue, or on regime change there, but on “putting out the fires in Iraq.” There were constant discussions in Washington and in the field about how to engage Iran and, on the subject of the bombing option, Fallon said, he believed that “it would happen only if the Iranians did something stupid.”

Fallon’s early retirement, however, appears to have been provoked not only by his negative comments about bombing Iran but also by his strong belief in the chain of command and his insistence on being informed about Special Operations in his area of responsibility. One of Fallon’s defenders is retired Marine General John J. (Jack) Sheehan, whose last assignment was as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, where Fallon was a deputy. Last year, Sheehan rejected a White House offer to become the President’s “czar” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the reasons the White House selected Fallon for CENTCOM was that he’s known to be a strategic thinker and had demonstrated those skills in the Pacific,” Sheehan told me. (Fallon served as commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2005 to 2007.) “He was charged with coming up with an over-all coherent strategy for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, by law, the combatant commander is responsible for all military operations within his A.O.”—area of operations. “That was not happening,” Sheehan said. “When Fallon tried to make sense of all the overt and covert activity conducted by the military in his area of responsibility, a small group in the White House leadership shut him out.”

The law cited by Sheehan is the 1986 Defense Reorganization Act, known as Goldwater-Nichols, which defined the chain of command: from the President to the Secretary of Defense, through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on to the various combatant commanders, who were put in charge of all aspects of military operations, including joint training and logistics. That authority, the act stated, was not to be shared with other echelons of command. But the Bush Administration, as part of its global war on terror, instituted new policies that undercut regional commanders-in-chief; for example, it gave Special Operations teams, at military commands around the world, the highest priority in terms of securing support and equipment. The degradation of the traditional chain of command in the past few years has been a point of tension between the White House and the uniformed military.

“The coherence of military strategy is being eroded because of undue civilian influence and direction of nonconventional military operations,” Sheehan said. “If you have small groups planning and conducting military operations outside the knowledge and control of the combatant commander, by default you can’t have a coherent military strategy. You end up with a disaster, like the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.”

Admiral Fallon, who is known as Fox, was aware that he would face special difficulties as the first Navy officer to lead CENTCOM, which had always been headed by a ground commander, one of his military colleagues told me. He was also aware that the Special Operations community would be a concern. “Fox said that there’s a lot of strange stuff going on in Special Ops, and I told him he had to figure out what they were really doing,” Fallon’s colleague said. “The Special Ops guys eventually figured out they needed Fox, and so they began to talk to him. Fox would have won his fight with Special Ops but for Cheney.”

The Pentagon consultant said, “Fallon went down because, in his own way, he was trying to prevent a war with Iran, and you have to admire him for that.”

In recent months, according to the Iranian media, there has been a surge in violence in Iran; it is impossible at this early stage, however, to credit JSOC or C.I.A. activities, or to assess their impact on the Iranian leadership. The Iranian press reports are being carefully monitored by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College and now conducts war games centered on Iran for the federal government, think tanks, and universities. The Iranian press “is very open in describing the killings going on inside the country,” Gardiner said. It is, he said, “a controlled press, which makes it more important that it publishes these things. We begin to see inside the government.” He added, “Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere. There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.”

Earlier this year, a militant Ahwazi group claimed to have assassinated a Revolutionary Guard colonel, and the Iranian government acknowledged that an explosion in a cultural center in Shiraz, in the southern part of the country, which killed at least twelve people and injured more than two hundred, had been a terrorist act and not, as it earlier insisted, an accident. It could not be learned whether there has been American involvement in any specific incident in Iran, but, according to Gardiner, the Iranians have begun publicly blaming the U.S., Great Britain, and, more recently, the C.I.A. for some incidents. The agency was involved in a coup in Iran in 1953, and its support for the unpopular regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi—who was overthrown in 1979—was condemned for years by the ruling mullahs in Tehran, to great effect. “This is the ultimate for the Iranians—to blame the C.I.A.,” Gardiner said. “This is new, and it’s an escalation—a ratcheting up of tensions. It rallies support for the regime and shows the people that there is a continuing threat from the ‘Great Satan.’ ” In Gardiner’s view, the violence, rather than weakening Iran’s religious government, may generate support for it.

Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?” One possible consequence of these operations would be a violent Iranian crackdown on one of the dissident groups, which could give the Bush Administration a reason to intervene.

A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr told me. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the U.S. is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said. “You can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population.”

The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.

The C.I.A. and Special Operations communities also have long-standing ties to two other dissident groups in Iran: the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K., and a Kurdish separatist group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK.

The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”

The Kurdish party, PJAK, which has also been reported to be covertly supported by the United States, has been operating against Iran from bases in northern Iraq for at least three years. (Iran, like Iraq and Turkey, has a Kurdish minority, and PJAK and other groups have sought self-rule in territory that is now part of each of those countries.) In recent weeks, according to Sam Gardiner, the military strategist, there has been a marked increase in the number of PJAK armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist attacks on Iranian targets. In early June, the news agency Fars reported that a dozen PJAK members and four Iranian border guards were killed in a clash near the Iraq border; a similar attack in May killed three Revolutionary Guards and nine PJAK fighters. PJAK has also subjected Turkey, a member of NATO, to repeated terrorist attacks, and reports of American support for the group have been a source of friction between the two governments.

Gardiner also mentioned a trip that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made to Tehran in June. After his return, Maliki announced that his government would ban any contact between foreigners and the M.E.K.—a slap at the U.S.’s dealings with the group. Maliki declared that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries. This was a sign, Gardiner said, of “Maliki’s increasingly choosing the interests of Iraq over the interests of the United States.” In terms of U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers, he said, “Maliki was unwilling to play the blame-Iran game.” Gardiner added that Pakistan had just agreed to turn over a Jundallah leader to the Iranian government. America’s covert operations, he said, “seem to be harming relations with the governments of both Iraq and Pakistan and could well be strengthening the connection between Tehran and Baghdad.”

The White House’s reliance on questionable operatives, and on plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran, has created anger as well as anxiety within the Special Operations and intelligence communities. JSOC’s operations in Iran are believed to be modelled on a program that has, with some success, used surrogates to target the Taliban leadership in the tribal territories of Waziristan, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But the situations in Waziristan and Iran are not comparable.

In Waziristan, “the program works because it’s small and smart guys are running it,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s being executed by professionals. The N.S.A., the C.I.A., and the D.I.A.”—the Defense Intelligence Agency—“are right in there with the Special Forces and Pakistani intelligence, and they’re dealing with serious bad guys.” He added, “We have to be really careful in calling in the missiles. We have to hit certain houses at certain times. The people on the ground are watching through binoculars a few hundred yards away and calling specific locations, in latitude and longitude. We keep the Predator loitering until the targets go into a house, and we have to make sure our guys are far enough away so they don’t get hit.” One of the most prominent victims of the program, the former official said, was Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior Taliban commander, who was killed on January 31st, reportedly in a missile strike that also killed eleven other people.

A dispatch published on March 26th by the Washington Post reported on the increasing number of successful strikes against Taliban and other insurgent units in Pakistan’s tribal areas. A follow-up article noted that, in response, the Taliban had killed “dozens of people” suspected of providing information to the United States and its allies on the whereabouts of Taliban leaders. Many of the victims were thought to be American spies, and their executions—a beheading, in one case—were videotaped and distributed by DVD as a warning to others.

It is not simple to replicate the program in Iran. “Everybody’s arguing about the high-value-target list,” the former senior intelligence official said. “The Special Ops guys are pissed off because Cheney’s office set up priorities for categories of targets, and now he’s getting impatient and applying pressure for results. But it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.”

The Pentagon consultant told me, “We’ve had wonderful results in the Horn of Africa with the use of surrogates and false flags—basic counterintelligence and counter-insurgency tactics. And we’re beginning to tie them in knots in Afghanistan. But the White House is going to kill the program if they use it to go after Iran. It’s one thing to engage in selective strikes and assassinations in Waziristan and another in Iran. The White House believes that one size fits all, but the legal issues surrounding extrajudicial killings in Waziristan are less of a problem because Al Qaeda and the Taliban cross the border into Afghanistan and back again, often with U.S. and NATO forces in hot pursuit. The situation is not nearly as clear in the Iranian case. All the considerations—judicial, strategic, and political—are different in Iran.”

He added, “There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis and Ahwazis as surrogates. The leaders of our Special Operations community all have remarkable physical courage, but they are less likely to voice their opposition to policy. Iran is not Waziristan.”

A Gallup poll taken last November, before the N.I.E. was made public, found that seventy-three per cent of those surveyed thought that the United States should use economic action and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear program, while only eighteen per cent favored direct military action. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to endorse a military strike. Weariness with the war in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the public’s tolerance for an attack on Iran. This mood could change quickly, however. The potential for escalation became clear in early January, when five Iranian patrol boats, believed to be under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, made a series of aggressive moves toward three Navy warships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. Initial reports of the incident made public by the Pentagon press office said that the Iranians had transmitted threats, over ship-to-ship radio, to “explode” the American ships. At a White House news conference, the President, on the day he left for an eight-day trip to the Middle East, called the incident “provocative” and “dangerous,” and there was, very briefly, a sense of crisis and of outrage at Iran. “TWO MINUTES FROM WAR” was the headline in one British newspaper.

The crisis was quickly defused by Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region. No warning shots were fired, the Admiral told the Pentagon press corps on January 7th, via teleconference from his headquarters, in Bahrain. “Yes, it’s more serious than we have seen, but, to put it in context, we do interact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their Navy regularly,” Cosgriff said. “I didn’t get the sense from the reports I was receiving that there was a sense of being afraid of these five boats.”

Admiral Cosgriff’s caution was well founded: within a week, the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the ominous radio transmission, and press reports suggested that it had instead come from a prankster long known for sending fake messages in the region. Nonetheless, Cosgriff’s demeanor angered Cheney, according to the former senior intelligence official. But a lesson was learned in the incident: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didn’t do more. The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. “The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” he said.

In June, President Bush went on a farewell tour of Europe. He had tea with Queen Elizabeth II and dinner with Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, the President and First Lady of France. The serious business was conducted out of sight, and involved a series of meetings on a new diplomatic effort to persuade the Iranians to halt their uranium-enrichment program. (Iran argues that its enrichment program is for civilian purposes and is legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) Secretary of State Rice had been involved with developing a new package of incentives. But the Administration’s essential negotiating position seemed unchanged: talks could not take place until Iran halted the program. The Iranians have repeatedly and categorically rejected that precondition, leaving the diplomatic situation in a stalemate; they have not yet formally responded to the new incentives.

The continuing impasse alarms many observers. Joschka Fischer, the former German Foreign Minister, recently wrote in a syndicated column that it may not “be possible to freeze the Iranian nuclear program for the duration of the negotiations to avoid a military confrontation before they are completed. Should this newest attempt fail, things will soon get serious. Deadly serious.” When I spoke to him last week, Fischer, who has extensive contacts in the diplomatic community, said that the latest European approach includes a new element: the willingness of the U.S. and the Europeans to accept something less than a complete cessation of enrichment as an intermediate step. “The proposal says that the Iranians must stop manufacturing new centrifuges and the other side will stop all further sanction activities in the U.N. Security Council,” Fischer said, although Iran would still have to freeze its enrichment activities when formal negotiations begin. “This could be acceptable to the Iranians—if they have good will.”

The big question, Fischer added, is in Washington. “I think the Americans are deeply divided on the issue of what to do about Iran,” he said. “Some officials are concerned about the fallout from a military attack and others think an attack is unavoidable. I know the Europeans, but I have no idea where the Americans will end up on this issue.”

There is another complication: American Presidential politics. Barack Obama has said that, if elected, he would begin talks with Iran with no “self-defeating” preconditions (although only after diplomatic groundwork had been laid). That position has been vigorously criticized by John McCain. The Washington Post recently quoted Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s national-security director, as stating that McCain supports the White House’s position, and that the program be suspended before talks begin. What Obama is proposing, Scheunemann said, “is unilateral cowboy summitry.”

Scheunemann, who is known as a neoconservative, is also the McCain campaign’s most important channel of communication with the White House. He is a friend of David Addington, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. I have heard differing accounts of Scheunemann’s influence with McCain; though some close to the McCain campaign talk about him as a possible national-security adviser, others say he is someone who isn’t taken seriously while “telling Cheney and others what they want to hear,” as a senior McCain adviser put it.

It is not known whether McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been formally briefed on the operations in Iran. At the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in June, Obama repeated his plea for “tough and principled diplomacy.” But he also said, along with McCain, that he would keep the threat of military action against Iran on the table. 

Advertisements

Sibel Edmonds Case: More Destruction of Evidence re: Nuclear Black Market

June 6, 2008

Sibel Edmonds Case: More Destruction of Evidence re: Nuclear Black Market

by Luke Ryland
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
June 6, 2008

It’s remarkable, really.

The US government has taken some extreme measures to silence former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Among other reasons, they are obviously very nervous about information that Sibel has regarding the involvement of US, Israeli, and Turkish officials in supplying the nuclear black market.

Now we have this: The US Government apparently demanded that the Swiss government destroy all evidence – all 30,000 pages of it – related to the pending prosecution of the Tinner family. The Tinners were “very key suppliers” of AQ Khan’s nuclear proliferation network, but their court case is now unlikely to proceed, given the destruction of the evidence.

Basic Facts

The Tinners, the father and two sons, were arrested by German authorities and extradited to Switzerland in 2004 for their role in supplying the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.

Two weeks ago, the Swiss President, responding to media reports, read out a prepared statement announcing that all the evidence relating to the Tinners’ case was destroyed late last year. He said that it was important to destroy all the evidence, which included sensitive information about how to make nuclear weapons, in case the information fell into the hands of terrorists. He also stated that Switzerland was merely meeting its obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and that the IAEA supervised the destruction of the documents.

That sounds reasonable.

The Questions

Unilateral Decision Making. The Swiss government is under pressure internally as a result of its unilateral decision to destroy the evidence. Both the parliament and the courts are accusing the Swiss government of violating the principle of Separation of Powers. The Parliament has already announced that it will hold an investigation into the matter.

Why the Secrecy? The announcement that the evidence was destroyed (6 months ago) was forced on the Swiss President by rumours in the media. The Swiss government refuses to answer any questions regarding the matter, as do the IAEA and the US government.

NPT Obligations? I haven’t seen any media report which confirms or supports the Swiss claim that this destruction of evidence was an obligation under the NPT. However the Guardian, which has the best reporting on this story, quotes a ‘former senior IAEA official’ saying: “I am quite astonished. It’s very unusual to see people destroying documents like this. They should be put somewhere very safe.”

The destruction of evidence took place with the apparent imprimatur of the IAEA, but they refuse to comment too. Has the IAEA been corrupted too?

US Involvement

Virtually every media article about this matter – including those articles preceding the official announcement – notes the strong suspicion that the Swiss Government acted on behalf of the US Government, specifically the CIA. The Guardian has the details:

“While the Swiss government maintains the treasure trove of nuclear intelligence was destroyed for reasons of national security, the Americans may have been involved because Tinner is believed to have also been working for the CIA. Albright said Tinner was recruited by the American agency from 1999-2000.

“The Swiss were doing other people’s dirty work,” said an international official familiar with the investigation into the Khan network. “The allegation is that Urs (Tinner) was on the CIA payroll for a very large sum of money.”
[…]
The Americans were also present (at the destruction), according to the international official. “The Americans were involved in the destruction. They were calling the shots,” he said.
[…]
Had the evidence been presented in court, compromising and embarrassing information about the CIA’s activities with the Khan network could have surfaced, say experts and officials. “

Time Magazine has a more benign take on the reasons that the CIA might have wanted the evidence destroyed:

“The official stonewalling has fueled speculation that the United States, and specifically the CIA, has pressured the Swiss government to destroy the documents to aid its own efforts to stop nuclear smuggling, whatever the effect on the Tinners’ trials. (emphasis mine)”

One item that I have not seen mentioned in any of the recent press reports is that the US government actively hindered the Swiss investigation into the Tinners for at least 18 months. In May 2006, former weapons inspector David Albright testified in Congress that the US government had been stonewalling the Swiss investigation:

“The U.S. Government Needs to Cooperate With Swiss Prosecutions of the Tinners.

Although the focus today is on Pakistan and unanswered questions about the Khan network, the United States has been remiss in assisting the overseas prosecution of key members of the Khan network. The United States has ignored multiple requests from Swiss prosecutors for cooperation that have extended over a year.
[…]
The (Swiss) Office of the Attorney General is disappointed over this matter. It is difficult to understand the actions of the U.S. Government. Its lack of assistance needlessly complicates this important investigation.
[…]
The United States should respond to the Swiss requests for assistance as quickly as possible. To continue to ignore these requests undermines the vital prosecution of key members of the Khan network and risks undercutting support for Swiss cooperation in non-proliferation matters. In addition, I find this lack of cooperation frankly embarrassing to the United States and those of us who believe that the United States should take the lead in bringing members of the Khan network to justice for arming our enemies with nuclear weapons.”

In an interview on Democracy Now a week later, Albright said that he finds the US stonewalling “disturbing and perplexing,” “mystifying” and “embarrassing as an American,” adding:

“The signal (the U.S. government is) sending is that it doesn’t want the Swiss to prosecute these three people, and yet they provide no reason for that.”

Albright’s perspective certainly add some important context to the allegations that the US government pressured the Swiss to destroy the Tinner files in order to prevent a public trial – and all that might entail…

Secrecy

The Tinner case brings to mind the Sibel Edmonds case, in terms of the underlying issues, the secrecy, and the destruction of evidence.

One of the key issues in Sibel’s case is the involvement of American, Turkish and Israeli officials in supplying the nuclear black market, including the so-called AQ Khan network. See the UK’s Times’ “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets:

Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.
[…]
Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.

In order to keep this information from becoming public, Sibel’s case has been swept under the blanket of secrecy by the invocation of the State Secrets Privilege.

Destruction of Evidence

In a subsequent article, The Times also reported that the FBI “has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.” The case file, 203A-WF-210023, was known to exist, but the FBI now denies that it exists. The question at the time was whether the FBI was lying about the existence of the file, or whether the case file, which contained all the evidence of a multi-year counterintelligence investigation, had been destroyed. I had been leaning toward the option that the FBI was hiding the existence of the file, but given that the US government has apparently been able to orchestrate the destruction of evidence in the Swiss Tinner case, it’s easier to imagine that they could, and would, destroy their own case file.

Tenuous Justifications

The main argument for the destruction of the Tinner evidence is that it had to be destroyed in case the nuclear blueprints somehow got into the hands of terrorists or rogue states. This is obviously a worthy objective, however:

a) Copies of the exact same information are known to exist elsewhere, and is suspected to be on the Khan network computers in Dubai.

b) There is no indication in any of the media reports that any effort was made to destroy only the sensitive information while maintaining the evidence required to prosecute the Tinners.

c) The US (and UK) allowed the network to proliferate nuclear hardware and nuclear know-how for years without apparently being concerned about the fallout. Why the concern all of a sudden with the Tinner case?

The Times accurately described how the US has ignored proliferation for years, without any apparent concern:

“The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down, investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain’s Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations.”

In Sibel’s case, the FBI watched while the network delivered nuclear product not only to their acknowledged end-customers, but also while freelancers within the network made copies of the information stolen “from every nuclear agency in the United States” and sold it to the highest bidder. There’s no indication that the US government did anything to stop the flow of any of this information at the time, but rather went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Sibel’s knowledge of these events did not become public. Similarly, people at the Pentagon and State Department were able to ensure that the honest counterintelligence agents at the FBI were prevented from moving forward on any of their multi-year investigations that had discovered all of these nefarious activities.

After all this, we are now being asked to believe that the destruction of evidence in the Tinner case is to prevent secure information from getting in the hands of terrorists? Please.

Where is the Media?

One other similarity between Sibel’s case and the Tinner case is the absence of the US mainstream media. The Tinner case broke on May 23. The Guardian article was on May 31. The US media has been completely AWOL on this story, apart from a single AP story that ran in some venues on May 23. UPI ran a short article based on the Guardian story, and Time ran an article on June 3. The New York Times hasn’t run a single article on the story.

The silence (1,2) is baffling.

Summary

The US government has done just about everything it can to ensure that Sibel Edmonds is prohibited from spilling the beans on what she knows about the nuclear black market, among other things. Now we see the hand of the US government apparently reaching into a foreign democracy, exporting the concept of the ‘unitary executive’ and upsetting the balance of powers, to destroy evidence which was to be used to prosecute crimes involving the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue regimes.

The US government had previously demonstrated that it didn’t wanted to prosecute these crimes, therefore their flimsy ex-poste rationales for destroying the evidence, in secret, need to be held up for extra scrutiny.

What’s going on???

***

Crossposted at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

For more background on Sibel’s case and the nuclear black market, see my “Sibel Edmonds Case: Nukes for sale (Pt 2)” and “Sibel Edmonds Case: Benazir and The ‘Islamic’ Bomb

The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky

February 12, 2008

The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, February 11, 2008

What the Western allies face is a long, sustained and proactive defence of their societies and way of life. To that end, they must keep risks at a distance, while at the same time protecting their homelands.

International terrorism today aims to disrupt and destroy our societies, our economies and our way of life. …

These different sources of [Islamist] propaganda and/or violence vary in their intellectual underpinnings, sectarian and political aims, … . But what they have in common is an assault on the values of the West – on its democratic processes and its freedom of religion…

Notwithstanding the common perception in the West, the origin of Islamist terrorism is not victimhood, nor an inferiority complex, but a well-financed superiority complex grounded in a violent political ideology.

If the irrational and fanatical [Islamist organizations] get out of hand, there is a risk that, … the rise of fundamentalisms and despotisms will usher in a new, illiberal age, in which the liberties that Western societies enjoy are seriously jeopardized.

The threats that the West and its partners face today are a combination of violent terrorism against civilians and institutions, wars fought by proxy by states that sponsor terrorism, the behaviour of rogue states, the actions of organised international crime, and the coordination of hostile action through abuse of non-military means.

Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership”.

Group report by former chiefs of staff General John Shalikashvili, (US), General Klaus Naumann (Germany), Field Marshal Lord Inge (UK), Admiral Jacques Lanxade (France) and Henk van den Breemen (The Netherlands), published by the Netherlands based Noaber Foundation, December 2007, (emphasis added)

The controversial NATO sponsored report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership“. calls for a first strike use of nuclear weapons. The preemptive use of nukes would also be used to undermine an “increasingly brutal World” as a means to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction:

“They [the authors of the report] consider that nuclear war might soon become possible in an increasingly brutal world. They propose the first use of nuclear weapons must remain “in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction”. (Paul Dibb, Sidney Morning Herald, 11 February 2008)

The group, insists that the option of first strike of nuclear weapons is “indispensable, since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world.” (Report, p. 97, emphasis added):

Nuclear weapons are the ultimate instrument of an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation. Yet they are also more than an instrument, since they transform the nature of any conflict and widen its scope from the regional to the global. …

…Nuclear weapons remain indispensable, and nuclear escalation continues to remain an element of any modern strategy.

Nuclear escalation is the ultimate step in responding asymmetrically, and at the same time the most powerful way of inducing uncertainty in an opponent’s mind. (Ibid, emphasis added)

The Group’s Report identifies six key “challenges”, which may often result as potential threats to global security:

Demography. Population growth and change across the globe will swiftly change the world we knew. The challenge this poses for welfare, good governance and energy security (among other things) is vast.

Climate change. This greatly threatens physical certainty, and is leading to a whole new type of politics – one predicated, perhaps more than ever, on our collective future.

Energy security continues to absorb us. The supply and demand of individual nations and the weakening of the international market infrastructure for energy distribution make the situation more precarious than ever.

There is also the more philosophic problem of the rise of the irrational – the discounting of the rational. Though seemingly abstract, this problem is demonstrated in deeply practical ways. [These include] the decline of respect for logical argument and evidence, a drift away from science in a civilization that is deeply technological. The ultimate example is the rise of religious fundamentalism, which, as political fanaticism, presents itself as the only source of certainty.

The weakening of the nation state. This coincides with the weakening of world institutions, including the United Nations and regional organizations such as the European Union, NATO and others.

The dark side of globalization … These include internationalized terrorism, organized crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also asymmetric threats from proxy actors or the abuse of financial and energy leverage. (Ibid)

Deterrence and Pre-emption

According to the Report, a new concept of deterrence is required directed against both State and non-state actors, This “new deterrence” is based on pre-emption as well as on the ability to “restore deterrence through [military] escalation”. In this context, the Report contemplates, what it describes as:

escalation dominance, the use of a full bag of both carrots and sticks—and indeed all instruments of soft and hard power, ranging from the diplomatic protest to nuclear weapons.” (Report, op city, emphasis added).

Iran

In much the same terms as the Bush administration, the NATO sponsored report states, without evidence, that Iran constitutes “a major strategic threat”:

“An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would pose a major strategic threat – not only to Israel, which it has threatened to destroy, but also to the region as a whole, to Europe and to the United States. Secondly, it could be the beginning of a new multi-polar nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.” (Report, op. cit., p. 45)

Careful timing? The controversial NATO sponsored report calling for a preemptive nuclear attack on Iran was released shortly after the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report entitled Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. The latter denies Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The NIE report, based on the assessments of sixteen US intelligence agencies, refutes the Bush administration’s main justification for waging a preemptive nuclear war on Iran. The NIE report confirms that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.”

“These findings constitute a damning indictment of the Bush administration’s relentless fear-mongering in relation to an alleged nuclear threat from Iran. They demonstrate that just as in the buildup to the war against Iraq five years ago, the White House has been engaged in a systematic campaign to drag the American people into another war based on lies.” (See Bill van Auken, 24 January 2008)

It should be noted that this recently declassified intelligence ( pertaining to Iran contained in the 2007 NIE report) was known by the White House, the Pentagon and most probably NATO since September 2003. Ironically, US military documents confirm that the Bush Administration initiated its war preparations against Iran in July 2003, two months prior to the confirmation by US intelligence that Iran did not constitute a nuclear threat.

The July 2003 war scenarios were launched under TIRANNT: Theater Iran Near Term.

The justification for TIRANNT as well as for subsequent US war plans directed against Iran ( which as of 2004 included the active participation of NATO and Israel), has always been that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and plans to use them against us.

Following the publication of the 2007 NIE in early December, there has been an avalanche of media propaganda directed against Tehran, essentially with a view to invalidating the statements of the NIE concerning Tehran’s nuclear program.

Moreover, a third sanctions resolution by the UN Security Council, was initiated with a view to forcing Iran to halt uranium enrichment. The proposed UNSC resolution, which is opposed by China and Russia includes a travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the country’s nuclear programs, and inspections of shipments to and from Iran “if there are suspicions of prohibited goods” (AFP, 11 February 2008). Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy together with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have been calling for a unified EU sanctions regime against Iran.

Contradicting the US national intelligence estimate (NIE), Bush’s most recent speeches continue to portray Iran as a nuclear threat:

“I feel pretty good about making sure that we keep the pressure on Iran to pressure them so they understand they’re isolated, to pressure them to affect their economy, to pressure them to the point that we hope somebody rational shows up and says, okay, it’s not worth it anymore,” Bush said.

Threat to “The Western Way of Life”

The Western media is involved in a diabolical disinformation campaign, the purpose of which is to persuade public opinion that the only way to “create a nuclear free World” is to use nuclear weapons on a preemptive basis, against countries which “threaten our Western Way of Life.”

The Western world is threatened. The NATO report, according to Paul Dibb: “paint(s) an alarming picture of the threats confronting the West, arguing that its values and way of life are under threat and that we are struggling to summon the will to defend them.”(Dibb, op cit)

A preemptive nuclear attack — geographically confined to Middle East (minus Israel?)– is the proposed end-game. The attack would use US tactical nuclear weapons, which, according to “scientific opinion” (on contract to the Pentagon) are “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground”. (See Michel Chossudovsky The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust, Global Research, 17 February 2006)

B61-11 bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads Made in America, with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb, are presented as bona fide humanitarian bombs, which minimize the dangers of “collateral damage”.

These in-house “scientific” Pentagon assessments regarding the mini-nukes are refuted by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS):

Any attempt to use a [B61-11 bunker buster nuclear bomb] in an urban environment would result in massive civilian casualties. Even at the low end of its 0.3-300 kiloton yield range, the nuclear blast will simply blow out a huge crater of radioactive material, creating a lethal gamma-radiation field over a large area ” (Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons by Robert W. Nelson, Federation of American Scientists, 2001 ).

Professor Paul Dibb is a former Australian Deputy Secretary of Defense., who has over the years also occupied key positions in Australia’s defense and intelligence establishment. Dibb carefully overlooks the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war theater. According to Dibb, NATO preemptive nuclear doctrine, which replicates that of the Pentagon, constitutes a significant and positive initiative to “halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons”. .

“They [the group] believe that the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons.”

Never mind the nuclear holocaust and resulting radioactive contamination, which would spread Worldwide and threaten, in a real sense, the “way of life”.

There is no “way of life” in a World contaminated with deadly radioactive material. But this is something that is rarely discussed in the corridors of NATO or in strategic studies programs in Western universities.

Nukes: Just Another Tool in the Military Toolbox

What is frightening in Professor Dibb’s article is that he is not expressing an opinion, nor is he analyzing the use of nuclear weapons from an academic research point of view.

In his article, there is neither research on nuclear weapons nor is there an understanding of the complex geopolitics of the Middle East war. Dibb is essentially repeating verbatim the statements contained in NATO/Pentagon military documents. His article is a “copy and paste” summary of Western nuclear doctrine, which in practice calls for the launching of a nuclear holocaust.

The stated objective of a Middle East nuclear holocaust is “to prevent the occurrence of a nuclear war”. An insidious logic which certainly out- dwarfs the darkest period of the Spanish inquisition…

Neither NATO nor the Pentagon use the term nuclear holocaust. Moreover, they presume that the “collateral damage” of a nuclear war will in any event be confined geographically to the Middle East and that Westerners will be spared…

But since their in-house scientists have confirmed that tactical nuclear weapons are “safe for civilians”, the labels on the bombs have been switched much in the same way as the label on a packet of cigarettes: “This nuclear bomb is safe for civilians”

The new definition of a nuclear warhead has blurred the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons:

‘It’s a package (of nuclear and conventional weapons). The implication of this obviously is that nuclear weapons are being brought down from a special category of being a last resort, or sort of the ultimate weapon, to being just another tool in the toolbox,” (Japan Economic News Wire, op cit)

This re-categorization has been carried out. The ” green light” for the use of tactical nuclear weapons has been granted by the US Congress. . ” Let’s use them, they are part of the military toolbox.”

We are a dangerous crossroads: military planners believe their own propaganda. The military manuals state that this new generation of nuclear weapons are “safe” for use in the battlefield. They are no longer a weapon of last resort. There are no impediments or political obstacles to their use. In this context, Senator Edward Kennedy has accused the Bush Administration for having developed “a generation of more useable nuclear weapons.”

Russia and China

Who else constitutes a threat to ” the Western way of life”?

Nukes are also slated to be used against Russia and China, former enemies of the Cold War era.

This post Cold War logic was first revealed, when the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was leaked to The Los Angeles Times in January 2002. The NPR includes China and Russia alongside the rogue states as potential targets for a first strike nuclear attack. According to William Arkin, the NPR “offers a chilling glimpse into the world of nuclear-war planners: With a Strangelovian genius, they cover every conceivable circumstance in which the president might wish to use nuclear weapons-planning in great detail.” (Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002)

“Decapitate Their Leadership and Destroy their Countries as Functioning Societies”

The use of nukes against “rogue states”, including Iran and North Korea (which lost more than a quarter of its population in US bombings during the Korean war) is justified because these countries could act in an “irrational” way. It therefore makes sense to “take em out” before they do something irrational. The objective is: “decapitate their leadership and destroy their countries as functioning societies”:

“One line of reasoning is that so-called rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, are sufficiently irrational to risk a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US or its allies, such as Israel and South Korea.

The supposition here is that deterrence – that is, threatening the other side with obliteration – no longer works. But even the nasty regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang must know that the US reserves the right to use its overwhelming nuclear force to decapitate the leadership and destroy their countries as modern functioning societies. (Dibb, op cit., emphasis added)

Use nuclear weapons to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.

But of course, lest we forget, America’s nuclear arsenal as well as that of France, Britain and Israel are not categorized as “weapons of mass destruction”, in comparison with Iran’s deadly nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Bin Laden’s Nuclear Program

Now comes the authoritative part of the NATO sponsored report: We need to use nukes against bin Laden, because Islamic “fanatics” can actually make a nuclear weapons or buy them from the Russians in the black market.

The Report calls for a first strike nuclear attack directed against Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, which has the ability, according to expert opinion, of actually producing small nuclear bombs, which could be used in a Second 9/11 attack on America: .

The second line of reasoning [contained in the NATO sponsored report] is more difficult to refute. It argues that extreme fanatical terrorists, such as al-Qaeda, cannot be deterred because (a) they do not represent a country and therefore cannot be targeted and (b) they welcome death by suicide. So, we have to shift the concept of nuclear deterrence to the country or regime supplying the terrorists with fissile material.

Nuclear weapons require materials that can be made only with difficulty. Once these materials are obtained by terrorists, however, the barriers to fabricating a weapon are much lower. In that sense the nuclear threat today is greater than it was in the Cold War and it seems the terrorists cannot be deterred.( Dibb, op cit, emphasis added)

The alleged nuclear threat by Al Qaeda is taken very seriously. The Bush administration has responded with overall defense spending (budget plus war theater) in excess of one trillion dollars. This massive amount of public money has been allocated to financing the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

Confirmed by Pentagon documents, this military hardware including aircraft carriers, fighter jets, cruise missiles and nuclear bunker buster bombs, is slated to be used as part of the “Global War on Terrorism”. In military jargon the US is involved in asymmetric warfare against non-State enemies. (The concept of Asymmetric Warfare was defined in The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (2005)

“The American Hiroshima”

The US media has the distinct ability to turn realities upside down. The lies are upheld as indelible truths. The “Islamic terrorists” have abandoned their AK 47 kalashnikov rifles and stinger missiles; they are not only developing deadly chemical and biological weapons, they also have nuclear capabilities.

The fact, amply documented, that Al Qaeda is supported by the CIA and Britain’s MI6 is beside the point.

The nuclear threat is not directed against the Middle East but against the USA, the perpetrators and architects of nuclear war are bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, which is planning to launch a nuclear attack on an American city:

“U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America, one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history,…

According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the “American Hiroshima” and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups. (World Net Daily, 11 July 2005, emphasis added)

The New York Times confirms that an Al Qaeda sponsored “American Hiroshima” “could happen” .

“Experts believe that such an attack, somewhere, is likely.” (NYT, 11 August 2004)

According to the Aspen Strategy Group which is integrated among others, by Madeleine Albright, Richard Armitage, Philip D. Zelikow, Robert B. Zoellick, “the danger of nuclear terrorism is much greater than the public believes, and our government hasn’t done nearly enough to reduce it.”:

If a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon, a midget even smaller than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, exploded in Times Square, the fireball would reach tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit. It would vaporize or destroy the theater district, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal and Carnegie Hall (along with me and my building). The blast would partly destroy a much larger area, including the United Nations. On a weekday some 500,000 people would be killed. (NYT, 11 August 2004)

“Threaten them with a devastating [nuclear] attack”

According to professor Dibb, nuclear deterrence should also apply in relation to Al Qaeda, by holding responsible the governments which help the terrorists to develop their nuclear weapons capabilities:

“Ashton Carter, a former US assistant secretary for defense, has recently argued, the realistic response is to hold responsible, as appropriate, the government from which the terrorists obtained the weapon or fissile materials and threaten them with a devastating [nuclear] strike. In other words, deterrence would work again. (Dibb, op cit)

The real nuclear threat is coming from bin Laden. The objective is to “to do away with our way of life”:

None of this is to underestimate the impact of a nuclear weapon being detonated in an American city. It could be catastrophic, but it is highly unlikely to threaten the very survival of the US. To believe otherwise risks surrendering to the fear and intimidation that is precisely the terrorists’ stock in trade.

General Richard Myers, another former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has claimed that if [Islamic] terrorists were able to kill 10,000 Americans in a nuclear attack, they would “do away with our way of life”. But Hiroshima and Nagasaki incurred well over 100,000 instant deaths and that did not mean the end of the Japanese way of life. (Ibid, emphasis added)

In an utterly twisted and convoluted argument, professor Dibb transforms the US-NATO threat to wage a nuclear war on Iran into an Al Qaeda operation to attack an American city with nuclear weapon.

Dibb presents the US-NATO menace to trigger what would result in a Middle East nuclear holocaust as a humanitarian operation to save American lives. By implication, the Al Qaeda sponsored “American Hiroshima” would be supported by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. and this in turn would immediately provide a juste cause (casus belli) for retaliation against Iran

What a nuclear attack on a US city would mean, however, is an understandable American retaliation in kind. So, those countries that have slack control over their fissile nuclear materials and cozy relations with terrorists need to watch out. A wounded America would be under enormous pressure to respond in a wholly disproportionate manner.

And then we would be in a completely changed strategic situation in which the use of nuclear weapons might become commonplace. Ibid, emphasis added).

Dick Cheney’s Second 9/11

The insinuation that Al Qaeda is preparing an attack on America has been on the lips of Vice President Dick Cheney for several years now. Cheney has stated on several occasions since 2004, that Al Qaeda is preparing a “Second 9/11″: .

In August 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM, based at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, to draw up a “Contingency Plan”, “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States”. (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War, The American Conservative, 2 August 2005)

Dick Cheney’s “Contingency Plan” was predicated on the preemptive war doctrine. Implied in the “Contingency Plan” was the presumption that Iran would be behind the attacks.

The Pentagon in a parallel initiative has actually fine-tuned its military agenda to the point of actually envisaging a Second 9/11 scenario as a means to providing the US administration with a “credible” justification to attack Iran and Syria:

Another [9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets [Iran and Syria]” (Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006, emphasis added)

Meanwhile,. the US Congress is concerned that an “American Hiroshima” could potentially damage the US economy:

“What we do know is that our enemies want to inflict massive casualties and that terrorists have the expertise to invent a wide range of attacks, including those involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons. … [E]xploding a small nuclear weapon in a major city could do incalculable harm to hundreds of thousands of people, as well as to businesses and the economy,…(US Congress, House Financial Services Committee, June 21, 2007).

As far as sensitizing public opinion to the dangers of US sponsored nuclear war, there is, with a few exceptions, a scientific and intellectual vacuum: No research, no analysis, no comprehension of the meaning of a nuclear holocaust which in a real sense threatens the future of humanity. This detachment and lack of concern of prominent intellectuals characterizes an evolving trend in many universities and research institutes in the strategic studies, the sciences and social sciences.

Academics increasingly tow the line. They remain mum on the issue of a US sponsored nuclear war. There is a tacit acceptance of a diabolical and criminal military agenda, which in a very sense threatens life on this planet. The US-NATO doctrine to use nukes on a preemptive basis with a view to “saving the Western World’s way of life” is not challenged in any meaningful way either by academics or media experts in strategic studies.

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

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8048

None Dare Call It Treason

January 28, 2008
None Dare Call It Treason
Who is stealing our nuclear secrets – and why are they being shielded by the authorities?
by Justin Raimondo

The Valerie Plame case is, by journalistic standards, ancient history, and naturally any follow-up on a once-important story is considered bad form. Yet there is an interesting – and rather scary – new twist to the narrative. It turns out that Scooter Libby and friends weren’t the first to “out” CIA agent Plame, whose alleged employer, a company known as Brewster Jennings, was really a cover for a CIA unit investigating nuclear proliferation issues.

The London Times reveals that a former top U.S. State Department official tipped off Turkish agents about Brewster Jennings’ CIA connection, according to Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator assigned to produce English-language transcripts of intercepted conversations of Turkish targets – in this case recordings of Turkish embassy officials and a top State Department official discussing, among other things, Brewster Jennings’ relationship to the CIA.

As the Times reports, the recordings were made “between the summer and autumn of 2001. At that time, foreign agents were actively attempting to acquire the West’s nuclear secrets and technology. Among the buyers were Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which was working with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the ‘father of the Islamic bomb,’ who in turn was selling nuclear technology to rogue states such as Libya.”

Plame and her unit were onto a black market nuclear network, run as a cooperative effort by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel. Accordingly, the Turks were lured into hiring Brewster-Jennings as “consultants,” but when the high U.S. official learned of this, says Edmonds, he “contacted one of the foreign targets and said … you need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a cover for the government. The target … immediately followed up by calling several people to warn them about Brewster Jennings. At least one of them was at the ATC [American Turkish Council]. This person also called an ISI person to warn them.”

The Israeli connection is what’s interesting about this covert operation, because it involves U.S. citizens, high government officials who have been part of an ongoing investigation that dates back to at least 1999, the earliest year mentioned in the AIPAC indictment. As Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy News Service reported in 2004:

“Several U.S. officials and law-enforcement sources said yesterday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go well beyond the [Larry] Franklin matter.

“FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon, and State Department officials on the probe. Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch [Douglas] Feith’s office.

“They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case for war against Iraq.

“‘The whole ball of wax’ was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry.”

The whole ball of wax is a pretty tall order, but surely a major part of it is this nuclear black market business that Edmonds has clear evidence of. Edmonds has been subjected to an unprecedented gag order, imposed by a judge in the name of preserving “state secrets” – yet what is being preserved, apparently, aren’t state secrets at all but the knowledge that our nuclear secrets are being stolen and sold to the highest bidder with the active collaboration of high U.S. government officials. A whole gallery of top figures has been fingered by Edmonds, who hasn’t mentioned any names yet has managed to identify the guilty parties by posting their photos on a Web site associated with her case.

The lack of coverage of this amazing – and quite frightening – story in the U.S. media is easily explained: anything having to do with the activities of Israeli intelligence in this country is sure to sink beneath the radar, although the London Times and a good number of international news outlets have picked up the details. What isn’t so easily explained is the cover-up of criminal activities, including treason, by our very own Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Times, seeking corroboration of Edmonds’ story, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, asking for a particular document:

“One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.”

Who is protecting what I called this treasonous camarilla from prosecution – and why have successive investigations into a number of activities by the same cabal of government officials been closed down, repeatedly, over the years?

As Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark point out in their new book, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy, the network associated with Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan continues to operate in Europe, the Gulf, and Southeast Asia through a series of front companies. They cite a study produced by the BND, Germany’s intelligence agency, that found Pakistan is procuring nuclear-related materials and technology far in excess of its needs, leading experts to suspect they’re funneling their nuclear assets into a global black market operation. The chilling conclusion of the authors ought to send shivers down your spine:

“Most alarming was the finding that hundreds of thousands of components amassed by Khan had vanished since he had been put out of operation. In other words, Pakistan has continued to sell nuclear weapons technology (to clients known and unknown) even as Musharraf denies it – which means either that the sales are being carried out with his secret blessing or that he is no more in control of Pakistan’s nuclear program than he is of the bands of jihadis in his country.”

The Pakistanis think they are above reproach, at least publicly, by the U.S. authorities, and this strange immunity may have lethal consequences for us all:

“In 2001, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, had proof that Osama bin Laden had received in person two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists at his secret HQ in Afghanistan. Both had become Islamist radicals in retirement.

“According to the son of one of them, bin Laden told them he had succeeded in acquiring highly enriched uranium from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and he wanted their help to turn it into a bomb. Amazed, they explained that while they could help with the science of fissile materials, they were not weapons designers.

“Soon afterwards, a secret army audit discovered evidence that 40 canisters of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the feedstuff for a nuclear bomb, were missing from the Kahuta enrichment labs outside Islamabad after A.Q. Khan retired. Dr. Muhammad Shafiq ur-Rehman, an insider who is the son of one of Khan’s former key aides, revealed: ‘They could only account for 80 out of a supposed 120 canisters.'”

Okay, so let’s see where this brings us: an underground network of spies and corrupt public officials is selling nuclear secrets worldwide, and al-Qaeda may very well have gotten its hands on enough lethal materials to make roughly 1,000 “dirty” bombs. Not only that, but the public officials and Washington insiders connected to this network are being protected from prosecution. The case files that document their treason have been withheld, and possibly destroyed.

Our brain-dead media, our kept pundits, and the “mainstream” outlets that determine if and when a news story is “legitimate” have systematically ignored the allegations of Sibel Edmonds, in spite of numerous endorsements of her credibility from two respected U.S. senators, the FBI’s Office of the Inspector General, and numerous current and former FBI agents who share her frustration with the shameless cover-up of this important case. It is absolutely outrageous that not a single major news organization in the U.S. has bothered to examine the charges made by Edmonds – especially when it is known that Islamist groups are still planning attacks on Western targets.

None Dare Call It Treason was the title of a ubiquitous right-wing screed of the 1960s, remembered more for its high camp value than for anything the author had to say, but I’ve always wanted to use it as the title of a column. Now that I’ve managed to do it, it doesn’t seem half as funny anymore.

Is it really time to consider moving to, say, a Pacific atoll and waiting out the catastrophe looming just down the road a bit? I never thought I’d say that, being temperamentally and ideologically opposed to “dropping out,” but one wonders, in the face of such a massive cover-up of this appalling danger to our immediate safety, if that isn’t the only alternative.

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

January 24, 2008

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
January 22, 2008

“The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Five Western military leaders.

I read the statement three times trying to figure out the typo. Then it hit me, the West has now out-Orwelled Orwell: The West must nuke other countries in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction! In Westernspeak, the West nuking other countries does not qualify as the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The astounding statement comes from a paper prepared for a Nato summit in April by five top military leaders–an American, a German, a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and a Brit. It can be found here: [Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told, By Ian Traynor, The Guardian, January 22, 2008 ]

The paper, prepared by men regarded as distinguished leaders and not as escapees from insane asylums, argues that “the West’s values and way of life are under threat, but the West is struggling to summon the will to defend them.” The leaders find that the UN is in the way of the West’s will, as is the European Union which is obstructing NATO and “NATO’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan.”

And that’s a serious matter. If NATO loses its credibility in Afghanistan, Western civilization will collapse just like the Soviet Union. The West just doesn’t realize how weak it is. To strengthen itself, it needs to drop more and larger bombs.

The German military leader blames the Merkel government for contributing to the West’s inability to defend its values by standing in the way of a revival of German militarism. How can Germany be “a reliable partner” for America, he asks, if the German government insists on “special rules” limiting the combat use of its forces in Afghanistan?

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund and a former US State Department official, welcomed the paper as “a wake-up call.” Asmus means a call to wake-up to the threats from the brutal world, not to the lunacy of Western leaders.

Who, what is threatening the West’s values and way of life? Political fanaticism, religious fundamentalism, and the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, answer the five asylum escapees.

By political fanaticism, do they mean the neoconservatives who believe that the future of humanity depends on the US establishing its hegemony over the world? By religious fundamentalism, do they mean “rapture evangelicals” agitating for Armageddon or Christian and Israeli Zionists demanding a nuclear attack on Iran? By spread of nuclear weapons, do they mean Israel’s undeclared and illegal possession of several hundred nuclear weapons?

No. The paranoid military leaders see all the fanaticism, religious and otherwise, and all the threats to humanity as residing outside Western civilization (Israel is inside). The “increasingly brutal world,” of which the leaders warn, is “over there.” Only Muslims are fanatics. All us white guys are rational and sane.

There is nothing brutal about the US/Nato bombing of Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, or the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, or the genocide Israel hopes to commit against Palestinians in Gaza.

All of this, as well as America’s bombing of Somalia, America’s torture dungeons, show trials of “detainees,” and overthrow of elected governments and installation of puppet rulers, is the West’s necessary response to keep the brutal world at bay.

Brutal things happen in the “brutal world” and are entirely the fault of those in the brutal world. None of this would happen if the inhabitants of the brutal world would just do as they are told. How can the civilized world with its monopoly on morality allow people in the brutal world to behave independently? I mean, really! God forbid, they might attack some innocent country.

The “brutal world” consists of those immoral fanatics who object to being marginalized by the West and who reply to mass bombings from the air and to the death and destruction inflicted on them through myriad ways by strapping on a suicide bomb.

Unable to impose its will on countries it has invaded with conventional arms, the West’s military leaders are now prepared to force compliance with the moral world’s will by threatening to nuke those who resist. You see, since the West has the monopoly on morality, truth, and justice, those in the outside world are obviously evil, wicked and brutal. Therefore, as President Bush tells us, it is a simple choice between good and evil, and there’s no better candidate than evil for being nuked. The sooner we can get rid of the brutal world, the sooner we will have “freedom and democracy” everywhere that’s left.

Meanwhile, the United States, the great moral light unto the world, has just prevented the United Nations from censuring Israel, the world’s other great moral light, for cutting off food supplies, medical supplies, and electric power to Gaza. You see, Gaza is in the outside world and is a home of the bad guys. Moreover, the wicked Palestinians there tricked the US when the US allowed them to hold a free election. Instead of electing the US candidate, the wicked voters elected a government that would represent them. The US and Israel overturned the Palestinian election in the West Bank, but those in Gaza clung to the government that they had elected. Now they are going to suffer and die until they elect the government that the US and Israel wants. I mean, how can we expect people in the brutal world to know what’s best for them?

The fact that the UN tried to stop Israel’s just punishment of the Gazans shows how right the five leaders’ report is about the UN being a threat to Western values and way of life. The UN is really against us. This puts the UN in the outside world and makes it a candidate for being nuked if not an outright terrorist organization. As our president said, “you are with us or against us.”

The US and Israel need a puppet government in Palestine so that a ghettoized remnant of Palestine can be turned into a “two state solution.” The two states will be Israel incorporating the stolen West Bank and a Palestinian ghetto without an economy, water, or contiguous borders.

This is necessary in order to protect Israel from the brutal outside world.

Inhabitants of the brutal world are confused about the “self-determination” advocated by Western leaders. It doesn’t mean that those outside Western civilization and Israel should decide for themselves. “Self” means American. The term, so familiar to us, means “American-determination.” The US determines and others obey.

It is the brutal world that causes all the trouble by not obeying.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

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

December 11, 2007

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

By Ray McGovern
12/09/07 “
ICH

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spinning Enrichment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com

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

Loving the Bomb for Seven Decades: Are You With Us … or Against Us?

November 19, 2007

Loving the Bomb for Seven Decades: Are You With Us … or Against Us?
The road from Washington to Karachi to nuclear anarchy. Jonathan Schell
November 14 , 2007

[Introduction by Tom Engelhardt]

Before I met Jonathan Schell, I already knew him in the best way possible: on the page. Even in his days as a neophyte journalist in Vietnam, he committed a writer’s greatest act of generosity. First in the pages of The New Yorker, and then in his books, he took readers to places most of us never could have gone on our own—to The Village of Ben Suc, for instance, as American troops cleared it of its 3,500 peasant inhabitants and destroyed it in what was, in 1967, the largest military operation of the Vietnam War to date; and, not so long after, in The Military Half—from the back seats of tiny Forward Air Control planes—to two South Vietnamese provinces where Americans were wreaking utter havoc. (In that book, he offered a still-unmatched journalistic vision of what war looks like, up close and personal, from the air.) In the 1970s, in The Time of Illusion, he would seat us all front-row center at the great Constitutional crisis that preceded our present one, the Nixonian near coup d’état that we now call “Watergate.”

In The Unconquerable World (for which I was the editor), looking back from a new century, he considered several hundred years of growing state violence that culminated in a single weapon capable of destroying all before it—and the various paths, violent and nonviolent, by which the people of this planet refused to heed the wishes of a seemingly endless series of putative imperial masters. I needed to know no more to feel sure, in March 2003, that the shock-and-awe fantasies of the Bush administration would be just that. In other words, he made me seem prophetic at Tomdispatch.

But if one subject has been his, it’s been the nuclear issue. Like me, he came into this world more or less with the Bomb (a word which, back when it represented the only world-destroying thing around, we tended to capitalize) and its exterminatory possibilities have never left his thoughts. In his bestselling The Fate of the Earth, as the 1980s began (and an antinuclear movement grew), he approached the subject in print, beginning famously: “Since July 16, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was detonated, at the Trinity test site, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, mankind has lived with nuclear weapons in its midst.” And so, sadly, we continue to do, despite his best efforts. He returned to the subject (when critics claimed he had no “solution” to the nuclear conundrum he had so vividly laid out) in The Abolition in 1984, and again in the post-Cold War 1990s, in The Gift of Time, The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, when the vast arsenals of the two superpowers were still sitting there like great unmentionable embarrassments, mission-less and yet going nowhere fast. (It was, of course, a time when people largely preferred to pretend that the nuclear danger was a thing of the past.)

Now 62 years old, the bomb (which, long ago, lost its capital B) is no longer an embarrassment, no longer mission-less. The old Cold War arsenals are being updated; possession of the weaponry has spread; and the Bush administration, which drove the American people to war partly with nuclear fantasies, has made such weapons, whether real or imagined, the heart and soul of its imperial policies—and again, there is a Jonathan Schell book to guide us. Think of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger as a brilliant intervention, an essential guidebook to a world gone mad in a new way.

It begins: “The nuclear age has entered its seventh decade. If it were a person, it would be thinking about retirement—reckoning up its pension funds, weighing different medical plans. But historical periods, unlike human lives, have no fixed limit, and the nuclear age is in fact displaying youthful vigor.” From there on, short as it is, it never slows down. So consider Jonathan Schell’s latest on nuclear Pakistan below and then pick up The Seventh Decade, which is officially published today. Tom Engelhardt

Loving the Bomb for Seven Decades: Are You With Us … or Against Us?
The road from Washington to Karachi to nuclear anarchy.
By Jonathan Schell

The journey to the martial law just imposed on Pakistan by its self-appointed president, the dictator Pervez Musharraf, began in Washington on September 11, 2001. On that day, it so happened, Pakistan’s intelligence chief, Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, was in town. He was summoned forthwith to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who gave him perhaps the earliest preview of the global Bush doctrine then in its formative stages, telling him, “You are either one hundred percent with us or one hundred percent against us.”

The next day, the administration, dictating to the dictator, presented seven demands that a Pakistan that wished to be “with us” must meet. These concentrated on gaining its cooperation in assailing Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, which had long been nurtured by the Pakistani intelligence services in Afghanistan and had, of course, harbored Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda training camps. Conspicuously missing was any requirement to rein in the activities of Mr. A.Q. Khan, the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, who, with the knowledge of Washington, had been clandestinely hawking the country’s nuclear-bomb technology around the Middle East and North Asia for some years.

Musharraf decided to be “with us”; but, as in so many countries, being with the United States in its Global War on Terror turned out to mean not being with one’s own people. Although Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999, was already a dictator, he had now taken the politically fateful additional step of very visibly subordinating his dictatorship to the will of a foreign master. In many countries, people will endure a homegrown dictator but rebel against one who seems to be imposed from without, and Musharraf was now courting this danger.

A public opinion poll in September ranking certain leaders according to their popularity suggests what the results have been. Osama bin Laden, at 46% approval, was more popular than Musharraf, at 38%, who in turn was far better liked than President Bush, at a bottom-scraping 7%. There is every reason to believe that, with the imposition of martial law, Musharraf’s and Bush’s popularity have sunk even further. Wars, whether on terror or anything else, don’t tend to go well when the enemy is more popular than those supposedly on one’s own side.

Are You with Us?

Even before the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, the immediate decision to bully Musharraf into compliance defined the shape of the policies that the President would adopt toward a far larger peril that had seemed to wane after the Cold War, but now was clearly on the rise: the gathering nuclear danger. President Bush proposed what was, in fact if not in name, an imperial solution to it. In the new dispensation, nuclear weapons were not to be considered good or bad in themselves; that judgment was to be based solely on whether the nation possessing them was itself judged good or bad (with us, that is, or against us). Iraq, obviously, was judged to be “against us” and suffered the consequences. Pakistan, soon honored by the administration with the somehow ridiculous, newly coined status of “major non-NATO ally,” was clearly classified as with us, and so, notwithstanding its nuclear arsenal and abysmal record on proliferation, given the highest rating.

That doctrine constituted a remarkable shift. Previously, the United States had joined with almost the entire world to achieve nonproliferation solely by peaceful, diplomatic means. The great triumph of this effort had been the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, under which 183 nations, dozens quite capable of producing nuclear weapons, eventually agreed to remain without them. In this dispensation, all nuclear weapons were considered bad, and so all proliferation was bad as well. Even existing arsenals, including those of the two superpowers of the Cold War, were supposed to be liquidated over time. Conceptually, at least, one united world had faced one common danger: nuclear arms.

In the new, quickly developing, post-9/11 dispensation, however, the world was to be divided into two camps. The first, led by the United States, consisted of good, democratic countries, many possessing the bomb; the second consisted of bad, repressive countries trying to get the bomb and, of course, their terrorist allies. Nuclear peril, once understood as a problem of supreme importance in its own right, posed by those who already possessed nuclear weapons as well as by potential proliferators, was thus subordinated to the polarizing “war on terror,” of which it became a mere sub-category, albeit the most important one. This peril could be found at “the crossroads of radicalism and technology,” otherwise called the “nexus of terror and weapons of mass destruction,” in the words of the master document of the Bush Doctrine, the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America.

The good camp was assigned the job not of rolling back all nuclear weapons but simply of stopping any members of the bad camp from getting their hands on the bomb. The means would no longer be diplomacy, but “preventive war” (to be waged by the United States). The global Cold War of the late twentieth century was to be replaced by global wars against proliferation—disarmament wars—in the twenty-first. These wars, breaking out wherever in the world proliferation might threaten, would not be cold, but hot indeed, as the invasion of Iraq soon revealed—and as an attack on Iran, now under consideration in Washington, may soon further show.

…Or Against Us?

Vetting and sorting countries into the good and the bad, the with-us and the against-us, proved, however, a far more troublesome business than those in the Bush administration ever imagined. Iraq famously was not as “bad” as alleged, for it turned out to lack the key feature that supposedly warranted attack—weapons of mass destruction. Neither was Pakistan, muscled into the with-us camp so quickly after 9/11, as “good” as alleged. Indeed, these distinctions were entirely artificial, for by any factual and rational reckoning, Pakistan was by far the more dangerous country.

Indeed, the Pakistan of Pervez Musharraf has, by now, become a one-country inventory of all the major forms of the nuclear danger.

*Iraq did not have nuclear weapons; Pakistan did. In 1998, it had conducted a series of five nuclear tests in response to five tests by India, with whom it had fought three conventional wars since its independence in 1947. The danger of interstate nuclear war between the two nations is perhaps higher than anywhere else in the world.

*Both Iraq and Pakistan were dictatorships (though the Iraqi government was incomparably more brutal).

*Iraq did not harbor terrorists; Pakistan did, and does so even more today.

*Iraq, lacking the bomb, could not of course be a nuclear proliferator. Pakistan was, with a vengeance. The arch-proliferator A.Q. Khan, a metallurgist, first purloined nuclear technology from Europe, where he was employed at the uranium enrichment company EURENCO. He then used the fruits of his theft to successfully establish an enrichment program for Pakistan’s bomb. After that, the thief turned salesman. Drawing on a globe-spanning network of producers and middlemen—in Turkey, Dubai, and Malaysia, among other countries—he peddled his nuclear wares to Iran, Iraq (which apparently turned down his offer of help), North Korea, Libya, and perhaps others. Seen from without, he had established a clandestine multinational corporation dedicated to nuclear proliferation for a profit.

Seen from within Pakistan, he had managed to create a sort of independent nuclear city-state—a state within a state—in effect privatizing Pakistan’s nuclear technology. The extent of the government’s connivance in this enterprise is still unknown, but few observers believe Khan’s far-flung operations would have been possible without at least the knowledge of officials at the highest levels of that government. Yet all this activity emanating from the “major non-NATO ally” of the Bush administration was overlooked until late 2003, when American and German intelligence intercepted a shipload of nuclear materials bound for Libya, and forced Musharraf to place Khan, a national hero owing to his work on the Pakistani bomb, under house arrest. (Even today, the Pakistani government refuses to make Khan available for interviews with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency.)

*Iraqi apparatchiks could not, of course, peddle to terrorists, al-Qaedan or otherwise, technology they did not have, as Bush suggested they would do in seeking to justify his war. The Pakistani apparatchiks, on the other hand, could—and they did. Shortly before September 11, 2001, two leading scientists from Pakistan’s nuclear program, Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, the former Director General of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, and Chaudry Abdul Majeed, paid a visit to Osama bin Laden around a campfire in Afghanistan to advise him on how to make or acquire nuclear arms. They, too, are under house arrest.

If, however, the beleaguered Pakistani state, already a balkanized enterprise (as the A.Q. Khan story shows) is overthrown, or if the country starts to fall apart, the danger of insider defections from the nuclear establishment will certainly rise. The problem is not so much that the locks on the doors of nuclear installations—Pakistan’s approximately 50 bombs are reportedly spread at sites around the country—will be broken or picked as that those with the keys to the locks will simply switch allegiances and put the materials they guard to new uses. The “nexus” of terrorism and the bomb, the catastrophe the Bush Doctrine was specifically framed to head off, might then be achieved—and in a country that was “for us.”

What has failed in Pakistan, as in smashed Iraq, is not just a regional American policy, but the pillars and crossbeams of the entire global Bush doctrine, as announced in late 2001. In both countries, the bullying has failed; popular passions within each have gained the upper hand; and Washington has lost much of its influence. In its application to Pakistan, the doctrine was framed to stop terrorism, but in that country’s northern provinces, terrorists have, in fact, entrenched themselves to a degree unimaginable even when the Taliban protected Al-Qaeda’s camps before September 11th.

If the Bush Doctrine laid claim to the values of democracy, its man Musharraf now has the distinction, rare even among dictators, of mounting a second military coup to maintain the results of his first one. In a crowning irony, his present crackdown is on democracy activists, not the Taliban, armed Islamic extremists, or al-Qaeda supporters who have established positions in the Swat valley only 150 miles from Islamabad.

Most important, the collapsed doctrine has stoked the nuclear fires it was meant to quench. The dangers of nuclear terrorism, of proliferation, and even of nuclear war (with India, which is dismayed by developments in Pakistan as well as the weak Bush administration response to them) are all on the rise. The imperial solution to these perils has failed. Something new is needed, not just for Pakistan or Iraq, but for the world. Perhaps now someone should try to invent a solution based on imperialism’s opposite, democracy, which is to say respect for other countries and the wills of the people who live in them.

Jonathan Schell is the author of The Fate of the Earth, among other books, and the just-published The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. He is the Harold Willens Peace Fellow at The Nation Institute, and a visiting lecturer at Yale University.

EmailE-mail article

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This article has been made possible by the Foundation for National Progress, the Investigative Fund of Mother Jones, and gifts from generous readers like you.

© 2007 The Foundation for National Progress

Gulf offers Iran nuclear compromise

November 2, 2007

Prince Saud al-Faisal said he hoped the US and Iran would support the planned consortium [AP]
bodyVariable350=”Htmlphcontrol1_lblError”;

 

Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign affairs minister, told the Middle East Economic Digest that the six states of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – would develop a uranium enrichment plant in a state outside the Mideast.

bodyVariable300=”Htmlphcontrol2_lblError”;

 
 
 
 

The plant would also provide nuclear fuel to the region.

 

“We have proposed a solution, which is to create a consortium for all users of enriched uranium in the Middle East”, al-Faisal said on Thursday.

 

Decreasing fears

 

Al-Faisal said the project would mean Tehran could continue developing nuclear energy while decreasing fears that their plans are a cover for an atomic weapons programme.

Your Views
“America says Iran getting a nuclear weapon could cause WW3 but I think it’s more likely that America would cause WW3 by invading Iran

Jack, Bangor, UK

Send us your views

“[We will] do it in a collective manner through a consortium that will distribute according to needs, give each plant its own necessary amount, and ensure no use of this enriched uranium for atomic weapons”, al-Faisal said.

“We believe it should be in a neutral country Switzerland, for instance”.

 

“Any plant in the Middle East that needs enriched uranium would get its quota”, he said.

 

Al-Faisal said he belived the US would support the proposal.

 

“The US is not involved, but I don’t think it [would be] hostile to this, and it would resolve a main area of tension between the West and Iran.”

 

He added that Iran was considering the offer.

 

“We hope the Iranians will accept this proposal. We continue to talk to them and urge them not only to look at the issue from the perspective of the needs of Iran for energy, but also in the interests of the security of the region,” he said.

 

The six GCC states and Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Yemen have all said thay want to pursue peaceful nuclear projects.

 
 
Source: Agencies

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

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Andrew G. Marshall, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7219

Protest against the reliable replacement warhead

October 18, 2007
Protest against the reliable replacement warhead
by Larence S. Wittner; Bulletin Online; October 17, 2007

Although Congress has been dealing with the Bush administration’s proposal to develop the reliable replacement warhead (RRW) for much of 2007, it’s remarkable that the new weapon, a hydrogen bomb, has attracted little public protest or even public attention.

 

After all, for years opinion polls have reported that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor nuclear disarmament. A July 2007 poll by the Simons Foundation of Canada found that 82.3 percent of Americans backed either the total elimination or a reduction of nuclear weapons in the world. Only 3 percent favored developing new nuclear weapons.

 

And yet, RRW is a new nuclear warhead, the first in two decades, and–if the Bush administration is successful in obtaining the necessary authorization from Congress–it will be used widely to upgrade the current U.S. nuclear arsenal. In this fashion, RRW won’t only contradict the U.S. government’s pledge under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to move toward nuclear disarmament, it will actually encourage other nations to jump right back into the nuclear arms race.

 

Of course, peace and disarmament groups–including Peace Action, the Council for a Livable World, and Physicians for Social Responsibility–have sharply criticized RRW in mailings to their supporters and on their websites. Public protests have taken place, including hunger strikes and other demonstrations at the University of California in May 2007 and a demonstration at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in August 2007.

 

But these protests have been small. And the general public hasn’t noticed RRW. Why?

 

A key reason is that peace groups and the public are preoccupied by the Iraq War and by the looming war with Iran. The actual use of weapons is always more riveting (and certainly more destructive) than their potential use. And weapons are being employed every day in Iraq, while nuclear weapons represent merely a potential danger–albeit a far deadlier one. Thus, in certain ways, the nuclear disarmament campaign faces a situation much like that during the Vietnam War, when the vast carnage in that conflict distracted activists and the public from the ongoing nuclear menace.

 

Another reason is that it’s hard to involve the public in a one-weapon campaign. To rouse people from their lethargy, they need to sense a crucial turning point. When atmospheric nuclear testing and the development of the hydrogen bomb riveted public attention on the danger of wholesale nuclear annihilation in the late 1950s, or when the Reagan administration escalated the nuclear arms race and threatened nuclear war in the early 1980s, people felt they had come to a crossroads. By contrast, RRW appears rather arcane and perhaps best left to the policy wonks.

 

Finally, the mass communications media have done a good deal to distort and/or bury nuclear issues since the end of the Cold War. Yes, at the behest of the Bush administration they trumpeted the supreme dangers of Iraqi nuclear weapons, even when those weapons didn’t exist. But they did a terrible job of educating the U.S. public about nuclear realities. A 1999 Gallup poll taken a week after the U.S. Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty found that, although most Americans favored the treaty, only 26 percent were aware that it had been defeated! Similarly, a 2004 poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that the average American thought that the U.S. nuclear stockpile, which then numbered more than 10,000 weapons, consisted of only 200. Given the very limited knowledge that Americans have of the elementary facts about nuclear issues, it’s hardly surprising that relatively few are busy protesting against the development of RRW.