Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Asia’s Hidden Arms Race

February 15, 2008

Asia’s Hidden Arms Race

By John Feffer
Source: TomDispatch

John Feffer’s ZSpace Page

Read all about it! Diplomats remain upbeat about solving the nuclear stand-off with North Korea; optimists envision a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted, but failed to formally end, the Korean War 55 years ago. Some leaders and scholars are even urging the transformation of the Six Party Talks over the Korean nuclear issue, involving the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the two Koreas, into a permanent peace structure in Northeast Asia.

 

The countries in the region all seem determined to make nice right now. Yasuo Fukuda, the new Japanese prime minister, is considerably more pacific than his predecessor, the ultra-nationalist Shinzo Abe. The new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, despite his conservative credentials, is committed to continuing the previous president’s engagement policy with North Korea and plans to reach out to Japan via his first post-inaugural state visit. The party that won the recent Taiwanese parliamentary elections, the Kuomintang, wants to rebuild bridges to the Mainland and, when it comes to the Communist Party there, mend fences the ruling Democratic Progressive Party tried to pull down. Beijing, for its part, is being super-conciliatory toward practically everyone in this Olympic year.

 

Despite all this peace-talk, something else, quite momentous and hardly noticed, is underway in the region. The real money in Northeast Asia is going elsewhere. While in the news sunshine prevails, in the shadows an already massive regional arms race is threatening to shift into overdrive. Since the dawn of the twenty-first century, five of the six countries involved in the Six Party Talks have increased their military spending by 50% or more. The sixth, Japan, has maintained a steady, if sizeable military budget while nonetheless aspiring to keep pace. Every country in the region is now eagerly investing staggering amounts of money in new weapons systems and new offensive capabilities.

 

The arms race in Northeast Asia undercuts all talk of peace in the region. It also sustains a growing global military-industrial complex. Northeast Asia is where four of the world’s largest militaries — those of the United States, China, Russia, and Japan — confront each other. Together, the countries participating in the Six Party Talks account for approximately 65% of world military expenditures, with the United States responsible for roughly half the global total.

 

Here is the real news that should hit the front pages of papers today: Wars grip Iraq, Afghanistan, and large swathes of Africa, but the heart of the global military-industrial complex lies in Northeast Asia. Any attempt to drive a stake through this potentially destabilizing monster must start with the militaries that face one another there.

Military Budget

The Japanese Reversal

The Northeast Asian arms buildup — a three-tiered scramble to dominate the seas, beef up air forces, and control the next frontier of space — runs counter to conventional wisdom. After all, isn’t Japan still operating under a “peace constitution”? Hasn’t South Korea committed to the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula? Didn’t China recently wake up to the virtues of soft power? And how could North Korea and Russia, both of which suffered disastrous economic reversals in the 1990s, have had the wherewithal to compete in an arms race? As it turns out, these obstacles have proved little more than speed bumps on the road to regional hyper-militarism.

 

Perhaps the most paradoxical participant in this new arms race is Japan. Its famous peace constitution has traditionally been one of the few brakes on arms spending in the region. The country has long limited its military expenditures to an informal ceiling of 1% of its overall budget. As that budget grew, however, so did military spending. Japan’s army is now larger than Britain’s, and the country spends more on its military than all but four other nations. (China surpassed Japan in military spending for the first time in 2006.) Nonetheless, for decades, the provisions of its peace constitution at least put limits on the offensive capabilities of the Japanese military, which is still referred to as its Self-Defense Forces.

 

These days, however, even the definition of “offensive” is changing. In 1999, the country’s Self Defense Forces first used offensive force when its naval vessels fired on suspected North Korean spy ships. Less than a decade later, Japan provides support far from its “defensive” zone for U.S. wars, including providing fuel to coalition forces in Afghanistan and transport in Iraq.

 

Japan was once incapable of bombing other countries largely because its air force didn’t have an in-air refueling capability. Thanks to Boeing, however, the first KC-767 tanker aircraft will arrive in Japan later this year, providing government officials, who occasionally assert the country’s right to launch preemptive strikes, with the means to do so. This is not happy news for Japan’s neighbors, who retain vivid memories of the 1930s and 1940s, when its military went on an imperial rampage throughout the region.

 

Tokyo already has among the best air forces and naval fighting forces in the world, trailing only the United States. But leading Japanese officials have displayed an even larger appetite. Some Japanese politicians are lobbying to amend the peace constitution or even scrap it entirely, while sending military spending skyrocketing. To promote these ideas, they use the thin rationale that Japan should be participating regularly in “international peacekeeping missions.”

 

The Japanese Defense Agency — their Pentagon — which was upgraded to ministry level last year, wants more goodies like an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarines, and long-range missiles. A light aircraft carrier, which the government has coyly labeled a “destroyer,” will be ready in 2009. The subs and missiles, however, will have to wait. So, too, will Tokyo’s attempt to take a quantum leap forward in air-fighting capabilities by importing advanced U.S. F-22 stealth planes. Concerned about releasing latest-generation technology to the outside world, Congress scotched this deal at the last moment in August 2007.

 

Washington has been a good deal more accommodating when it comes to missile defense. Japan has been a far more enthusiastic supporter of missile defense than any of America’s European allies. In fact, the United States and Japan are spending billions of dollars to set up an early-warning-and-response prototype of such an advanced missile system. Part of this missile shield is land-based. Last month, Japan installed its third Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air interceptor and plans on nine more by 2011. The more ambitious part of the program, however, is based at sea. In December, Japan conducted its first sea-based interceptor test.

 

With Japan and the United States in the lead, a space race is also on in Northeast Asia. Last year, China tested its own anti-ballistic missile system by shooting down one of its old weather satellites. While at present this is far from an actual missile-defense system, China effectively served notice that it is up to the technological challenge of hitting a bullet with a bullet in space. Meanwhile, thanks to U.S. pressure Russia too is upgrading its missile defense systems, while pouring money into the development of new missiles that can bypass any putative shield the U.S. and its allies can develop.

 

Give Me Peace, But Not Just Yet

 

The two most recent South Korean presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-Jung and the left-leaning Roh Moo-Hyun, have been well-known for their efforts to foster reconciliation with North Korea. Less well-known have been their programs to beef up South Korea’s military. The dark side of their engagement policy has been its unstated quid pro quo of satisfying the security concerns of South Korean hawks by giving their military everything it wants — and then some. Between 1999 and 2006, South Korean military spending jumped more than 70%. In 2007, at the launching ceremony for a new Aegis-equipped destroyer, which brought South Korea into an elite club of just five countries with such technology, President Roh Moo-Hyun declared, “At the present time, Northeast Asia is still in an arms race, and we cannot just sit back and watch.” By 2020, the South Korean navy wants to build three more Aegis destroyers at a cost of $1 billion each.

 

South Korean hawks are not only responding to concerns about North Korea, the traditional threat around which the South has organized its military. They are concerned about a declining military commitment from the United States, which has reduced the levels of American troops that traditionally garrison the country and pushed hard for greater military “burden-sharing.”

 

South Korea’s leaders and military officials are anxious that the Pentagon may continue to focus on the Middle East and Central Asia to the exclusion of its Pacific commitments. To prepare for the contingency of going it alone, South Korea has embarked on an ambitious $665 billion Defense Reform 2020 initiative, which will increase the military budget by roughly 10% a year until 2020. In those years, while troop levels will actually fall, most of the extra money will go to a host of expensive, high-tech systems such as new F-15K fighters from Boeing, SM-6 ship-to-air missiles that can form a low-altitude missile shield, and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles.

 

If South Korea’s spending spree remains largely under the radar, China’s military expenditures have received considerable media scrutiny. Newspaper accounts have focused on China’s military spending, which officially rose to $45 billion for 2007. However, that public figure, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, tells only half the story. Beijing’s spending, claim these sources, is really in the $100 billion range. With this money, China is pushing forward with an ambitious naval program that will include the addition to its naval forces of five new nuclear-powered attack subs, a mid-sized aircraft carrier, and — clandestinely — the supposed construction of a huge 93,000-ton nuclear-powered carrier by 2020.

 

Lost in the hype around China’s apparent quest for a world-class military to match its world-class economy are the gaps in the country’s offensive capabilities. It has only a couple of hundred nuclear weapons and fewer than two dozen ICBMs pointed at the United States. Its navy doesn’t have a “blue-water” capability, lacking (as yet) any aircraft carriers, a large force of nuclear-powered submarines, and the overseas basing infrastructure to support them. It relies heavily on imports and can’t yet build the sort of aircraft that would allow it to project serious force over large distances.

 

China, however, has been the only modestly credible threat on the horizon that the Pentagon has been able to wield to justify military spending at levels not seen since World War II. The Pentagon can’t use its big naval destroyers against al-Qaeda; Virginia-class subs can’t do much to fight the Taliban or insurgents in Iraq. Yet these systems figure prominently in the Pentagon’s long-range plans to build a 313-ship navy. Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), who made headlines back in 2005 with his newfound opposition to the Iraq War, is typical of congressional hawks when he warns of the need to prepare for a coming conflict with China. “We’ve got to be able to have a military that can deploy to stop China or Russia or any other country that challenges us,” he recently told Reuters. “I’ve felt we had to be concerned about the direction China was going.” To counter China, the United States has pursued a classic containment strategy of strengthening military ties with India, Australia, the Philippines, and Japan.

 

The Bush administration trumpets its accomplishment of increasing military spending 74% since 2001. In addition to the $12.7 billion for new warships, there’s $17 billion for new aircraft and over $10 billion for missile defense. The administration wants to increase the Army from 482,400 to 547,400 troops by 2012. A sizable portion of the administration’s $607 billion Pentagon budget request for 2009, which doesn’t even include massive supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will go to maintaining and expanding the U.S. military presence in the Pacific. The Democratic frontrunners for the presidential nomination have also called for troop increases and have said nothing about slowing, freezing, or even cutting the military budget. No matter who is elected, under the next administration, as under the last one, the United States will surely continue to be the chief driver of global arms spending.

 

The Armies of Austerity

 

Increased military spending is not always just a function of affluence. As the Russian economy contracted in the 1990s, the arms export industry became an ever more critical way for the faltering country to earn hard currency. Today, flush with oil and natural gas revenues, Russia has regained its place as the world’s second largest arms dealer by almost doubling its arms exports since 2000. Washington’s moves to establish a global missile defense system and encroach on Russian interests in Central Asia have only encouraged Moscow to boost its military spending in an effort to recover its lost superpower status.

 

With the renewed growth of the Russian economy on the strength of energy sales, Russian arms expenditures began to take off again in the new millennium, increasing nearly four-fold between 2000 and 2006. The Russian government, which projected a 29% increase in spending for 2007, plans to replace nearly half its arsenal with new weaponry by 2015.

 

Compared to Russia, North Korea has had the full experience of economic collapse with very little subsequent recovery. Yet, despite its woefully limited means, it has tried to keep up with the great powers that surround it. By many estimates, Pyongyang devotes as much as a quarter of its budget to the military (even though prosperous South Korea still spends as much, or more, on its military than the North’s entire gross domestic product). North Korea’s failure to match the conventional military spending of South Korea, much less Japan or the United States, was what made the building of a “nuclear deterrent” increasingly attractive to its leaders. In other words, the current nuclear crisis that sucks up so much diplomatic attention in Northeast Asia today is at least partly a result of the region’s accelerating conventional arms race and North Korea’s inability to keep pace.

 

Critics of the North Korean regime often point out that its military spending is ultimately a human rights violation, because the government essentially takes food out of the mouths of its people to spend on armaments. North Korea is, however, just a particularly gross example of an expanding global problem. Each of the six countries in the new Pacific arms race has devised a wealth of rationales for its military spending — and each has ignored significant domestic needs in the process.

 

Given the sums that would be necessary to address the decommissioning of nuclear weapons, the looming crisis of climate change, and the destabilizing gap between rich and poor, such spending priorities are in themselves a threat to humanity. The world put 37% more into military spending in 2006 than in 1997. If the “peace dividend” that was to follow the end of the Cold War never quite appeared, a decade later the world finds itself burdened with quite the opposite: a genuine peace deficit.

 

 

John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of North Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis (Seven Stories, 2003) among other books.

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), which has just been thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition that deals with victory culture’s crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.]

 

Russia withdraws from arms treaty

December 12, 2007
Russia withdraws from arms treaty
 
 

The pullout means Russia can now move troops around the country without notifying Nato [AFP]
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In a statement, the ministry said: “Such a step has been caused by the exceptional circumstances connected to the content of the treaty which concern the security of Russia and demand that we take immediate measures.”

 

Russian troops can now be moved around the country without notifying Nato.

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Restoring military might

Signed in 1990 and modified in 1999, the CFE places precise limits on the stationing of troops and heavy weapons from the Atlantic coast to Russia’s Ural mountains.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, who has made a priority of restoring Russian military might, signed a decree ordering Moscow’s suspension of the treaty last month.

The foreign ministry said that Russia was no longer “constrained by the limitations placed on arms deployments on its flanks”.

However, it said: “We have no current plans to accumulate massive armaments on our neighbours’ borders.”

In theory, Russia can return to the treaty at anytime, but analysts say that is unlikely, given mounting East-West distrust.

Rising tensions

The demise of the CFE comes on top of tensions around US plans to install a missile-defence shield in Nato members Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia has also threatened to leave another major treaty, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

At the heart of Russia’s complaints regarding the CFE is Nato’s failure to ratify the amended 1999 version of the treaty, taking into account the huge changes wrought by the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nato countries say they cannot ratify the 1999 version because Russian troop presence in the ex-Soviet states of Georgia and Moldova violates the treaty, a charge Moscow rejects.

In addition, Moscow has been pushing for changes to CFE limits on moving troops to the European western flank of the vast country.

Anatoly Antonov, a director at the foreign ministry, said: “Imagine that President Bush cannot move his forces from  California to the New York region. It’s ridiculous.”

‘Treaty dead’

Observers said the long list of problems made the CFE unlikely to get back on track.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst, said: “The treaty is dead.”

Felgenhauer said: “It is practically inevitable that Russia will begin moving weapons west, primarily to borders of Baltic states.”

“It makes a lot of economic sense to move forces from Siberia to Leningrad district, because it’s two or three times more expensive to keep them in Siberia.

“It will also send a powerful signal to the West. It’s a win-win situation for Russia.”

Invasion – A Comparison Of Soviet And Western Media Performance – Part 1

November 28, 2007
Invasion – A Comparison Of Soviet And Western Media Performance – Part 1
by Nikolai Lanine and Media Lens; November 24, 2007

Introduction

The writer Simon Louvish once told the story of a group of Soviets touring the United States before the age of glasnost. After reading the newspapers and watching TV, they were amazed to find that, on the big issues, all the opinions were the same. “In our country,” they said, “to get that result we have a dictatorship, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. So what’s your secret? How do you do it?” (Quoted, John Pilger, Tell Me No Lies, Random House, 2004, p.9)

It’s a good question, one being asked by Nikolai Lanine who served with the Soviet Army during its 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan, but who now lives and works as a peace activist in Canada. Lanine has spent several years trawling through Soviet-era newspaper archives comparing the propaganda of that time with modern Western media performance.

If the claims of modern professional journalism are to be believed, the similarities should be few and far between. Soviet-era media such as Pravda (meaning, ironically, “The Truth”) are a byword for state-controlled mendacity in the West. Thus Simon Jenkins commented in the Times in the 1980s: “There is a smack of Pravda about this pious self-censorship.” (Jenkins, ‘A new name on the tin mug of scandal,’ The Times, March 19, 1989)

Doris Lessing, recent winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, wrote in 1992:

“Even five, six years ago, Izvestia, Pravda and a thousand other Communist papers were written in a language that seemed designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything. Because, of course, it was dangerous to take up positions that might have to be defended. Now all these newspapers have rediscovered the use of language. But the heritage of dead and empty language these days is to be found in academia, and particularly in some areas of sociology and psychology.” (Lessing, ‘Questions you should never ask a writer,’ New York Times, October 13, 2007. Originally published June 26, 1992)

This standard Western association of thought control with totalitarian societies is a red herring. In fact, thought control is far more characteristic of ‘democratic’ societies – where state violence is no longer an option, propaganda comes into its own.

After all, it is a remarkable fact that our society never discusses the possibility that a corporate media system monitoring a society dominated by large corporations might be something other than free, open and honest. Consider Lessing’s analysis in the light of these comments from media analyst Danny Schechter:

“We are bombarded with information, although if you look closely, most of it has a similar grammar, a similar focus and similar sources, all revolving around institutions and topics that most viewers admit in survey after survey they don’t really understand.” (Schechter, The More You Watch The Less You Know, Seven Stories Press, 1997, p.43)

Verbiage “designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything”, in other words, because it is “dangerous to take up positions that might have to be defended”.

How “dangerous”? David Barsamian recently asked Noam Chomsky why one regular New York Times commentator refused to recognise blindingly obvious truths embarrassing to US power. Chomsky responded:

“If he wrote that, then he wouldn‘t be writing for the New York Times. There is a certain discipline that you have to meet. In a well-run society, you don’t say things you know. You say things that are required for service to power.” (Chomsky, What We Say Goes, Penguin, 2007, p.2)

We are very grateful to Nikolai Lanine for agreeing to co-author this piece and for his hard work over several months in making it possible. All quotations from the Soviet press archives were translated from the original by him. We are also grateful to Noam Chomsky who originally put us in touch with Nikolai.

A Humanitarian War of Self-Defence

Inspired by the success of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, US-backed Afghan militants – including future founders of the Taliban movement – stepped up their attacks on Afghan government forces in the late 1970s.

Fearful of the “threat to the security of [the Soviet] southern boarders”(Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, Secrets of the Afghan War, 1991, p.48) and concerned that the conflict might spread to neighbouring Soviet republics – and so risk radicalising their dominantly Muslim populations (accounting for more than 20% of the Soviet population) – the Soviet government invaded. The invasion was a straightforward act of aggression, an attempt to crush a perceived threat to Soviet security and power.

Inevitably, the Soviet government portrayed its invasion as an act of humanitarian intervention initiated at the “request of the [Afghan] government”. (Pravda, April 27, 1980) The aim was “to prevent the establishment of… a terrorist regime and to protect the Afghan people from genocide”, and also to provide “aid in stabilising the situation and the repulsion of possible external aggression”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.48)

Once the “terrorists” had been defeated, Afghanistan would be left to become “a stable, friendly country”. The invasion, then, was in the best interests of the Afghan people – the focus of the Soviet government’s benevolent concern.

The Soviet media presented the invasion essentially as a peacekeeping operation intended to prevent enemy atrocities. Krasnaya Zvezda [Red Star], a major Soviet military newspaper, reported in May 1985:

“Since the establishment of this [Soviet] base, [the Mujahadeen]’s predatory extortions, violence, [and] reprisals have stopped; and poor peasants are [now] working the land peacefully.” (Krasnaya Zvezda, May 1, 1985)

The same paper noted:

“Before the arrival of the Soviet soldiers here, [the area] was literally swarming with [insurgents]… [who] were ruthlessly killing… everyone, who was desperately longing for a new life… However, Soviet soldiers arrived, and life in the district has started normalising.” (Krasnaya Zvezda, October 27, 1985)

Voenni Vestnik [Military Bulletin] took it for granted that “…[Soviet] paratroopers are protecting peaceful [Afghan] citizens”. (Voenni Vestnik #4, 1983)

This, of course, was a reversal of the truth that the Soviet superpower was killing large numbers of civilians and causing great suffering to the population.

Pravda insisted that the Afghan army had conducted military operations “at the demand of the local population” and because of “the danger to lives and property of citizens” posed by the resistance. (Pravda, February 7, 1988)

Military personnel constantly echoed government claims that intervention was required “to help the hapless Afghan people to defend their freedom, their future”. (Krasnaya Zvezda, January 5, 1988)

The invasion was also portrayed as an act of self-defence to prevent a “neighboring country with a shared Soviet-Afghan border… [from turning] into a bridgehead for… [Western] aggression against the Soviet state”. (Izvestiya, January 1, 1980) Soviet intervention was also a response to unprovoked violence by Islamic fundamentalists (described as “freedom fighters“ in the West), who, it was claimed, planned to export their fundamentalist struggle across the region “’under the green banner of Jihad’, to the territory of the Soviet Central-Asian republics”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.45) The Soviet public were told they faced a stark choice: either fight the menace abroad, or do nothing and later face a much greater threat on home soil that would, geopolitically, “put the USSR in a very difficult situation”. (Sovetskaya Rossia [Soviet Russia], February 11, 1993)

This theme was endlessly stressed by the Soviet media system – Soviet forces were “not only defending Afghan villages. They keep the peace on the borders of [our] homeland”. (Pravda, April 2, 1987) The goal was “peace and security in the region, and also the security of the southern border of the USSR”. (Mezhdunarodnyi Ezhegodnik, 1981, p.224) The unquestioned assumption was that Soviet forces had no option but to act “pre-emptively” in “self-defence”.

Reading Soviet propaganda on these themes inevitably recalls Tony Blair’s famous assertion:

“What does the whole of our history teach us, I mean British history in particular? That if when you’re faced with a threat you decide to avoid confronting it short term, then all that happens is that in the longer term you have to confront it and confront it an even more deadly form.” (ITN News at 6:30, January 31, 2003)

To this day, many former Soviet military and media commentators continue to reinforce similar claims. Former top Soviet military adviser in Afghanistan, General Mahmut Gareev, writes in his book “My Last War” (1996) that the “situation in Afghanistan was of great importance” for the security of the Soviet state (p.363). The “high political, military and strategic interests of the USSR demanded certain actions and decisions”. (p.36) The Soviet leadership was “aware that events in the south of the country were exceptionally important and had great significance for the security of the Soviet state. It was impossible not to react”. (p.35-36)

After the 1979 invasion, the Afghan insurgency repeatedly launched attacks on border areas, including rocket strikes on Soviet towns. Ignoring the fact that these attacks were a +response+ to Soviet aggression, the Soviet media described them as “provocative criminal acts against the Soviet territory”. (Izvestiya, April 20, 1987)

For Democracy And Human Rights – America And Britain Attack

In near-identical fashion, the British and American governments have presented their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as acts of self-defence which also happen to be in the best interests of the Afghan and Iraqi populations.

In 2001, the then UK defence secretary Geoff Hoon insisted that, in Afghanistan, Britain “was acting in self-defence against Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qa’ida network”. (Ben Russell, ‘Parliament – terrorism debate,’ The Independent, November 2, 2001)

As with the Soviet media, the self-defensive, humanitarian intent behind both invasions are staples of much US-UK media reporting. On the April 12, 2005 edition of the BBC’s Newsnight programme, diplomatic editor Mark Urban discussed the significance of a lessening of Iraqi attacks on US forces since January:

“It is indeed the first real evidence that President Bush’s grand design of toppling a dictator and forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East could work.” (Urban, Newsnight, BBC2, April 12, 2005)

When George Bush declared: “we are not conquerors; we’re liberators”, he could have been quoting one of the top Soviet generals in Afghanistan, who said:

“We didn’t set ourselves the task of conquering anyone: we wanted to stabilise the situation.” (Varennikov, CNN Interview, 1998)

In April 2002, Rory Carroll wrote in the Guardian:

“Whoever is trying to destabilise Afghanistan is doing a good job. The broken cities and scorched hills so recently liberated are rediscovering fear and uncertainty.” (Carroll, ‘Blood-drenched warlord’s return,’ The Observer, April 14, 2002)

The point being that, for Carroll, as for George Bush, Afghanistan really had been “liberated” by the world’s superpower.

The New York Times wrote in September 2007:

”Military statistics show that U.S. forces have made some headway at protecting the Iraqi population, but there are questions over whether the gains can be sustained.” (Michael R. Gordon, ‘Assessing the “surge”,’ New York Times, September 8, 2007)

Even in reporting that a large proportion of world opinion wants to see the US leave Iraq, the BBC managed to boost the claimed humanitarian intent:

“Some 39% of people in 22 countries said troops should leave now, and 28% backed a gradual pull-out. Just 23% wanted them to stay until Iraq was safe.” (Most people ‘want Iraq pull-out,’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/6981553.stm, September 7, 2007)

The idea that Iraq might not be safe +until+ US-UK troops leave, is unthinkable to many Western journalists, as it was to Soviet journalists.

In some cases, Western reporting perhaps even surpassed Soviet propaganda. As US tanks entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003, ITN’s John Irvine declared:

“A war of three weeks has brought an end to decades of Iraqi misery.” (ITN Evening News, April 9, 2003)

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were in response to decades of US-UK violence, and support for violence, in the Middle East. For what it’s worth, Osama bin Laden specifically cited Western oppression in Palestine, Western sanctions against Iraq, and US bases in Saudi Arabia, as reasons for the attacks. And yet, as in the Soviet case, US-UK aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq was justified as a response to attacks that were “unprovoked”. Blair even cited the 9/11 attacks as evidence to this effect on the grounds that the attacks had taken place long before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In both the West and the USSR, the occupations were, and are, presented as fundamentally well-intentioned acts motivated by rational fears and humanitarian aspirations.

In Accordance With International Law

According to the Soviet government, the 1979 invasion was justified by international law (Pravda, December 31, 1979; Gareev, 1996, p.40) and was “in complete accordance with… the 1978 Soviet-Afghan Treaty”. (Izvestiya, January 1, 1980) The Soviet state had to honour its obligations “to provide armed support to the Afghan national army”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.47)

In 1988, Izvestiya quoted general Boris Gromov, the commander of Soviet troops in Afghanistan:

“We came to Afghanistan at the end of 1979 at the request of the lawful government [of Afghanistan] and in accordance with the agreement between our countries based on the… Charter of the United Nations.” (Izvestiya, July 2, 1988)

Soviet journalists consistently supported these claims. Pravda and Izvestiya wrote in 1980 that Soviet forces were in Afghanistan “at the request of the [Afghan] government with the only goal to protect the friendly Afghan people” (Pravda, March 16, 1980) and “to help [this] neighbouring country… to repel external aggression”. (Izvestiya, January 3, 1980)

Such views were frequently expressed by Soviet elites and  mainstream journalists. The 1980 issue of International Annual: Politics and Economics, published by the Soviet Academy of Science, observed that the Afghan government “repeatedly asked the USSR” to provide “military aid”. The “Soviet government granted the [Afghan] request, and the limited contingent of Soviet troops was sent into the country,” Mezhdunarodnyi Ezhegodnik noted (1980, p.208). Such actions were entirely in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter and Article 4 of the [Soviet-Afghan] Treaty of December 5, 1978, Ezhegodnik added. (1981, p.224)

Soviet leaders and commentators criticised and debated, not the fundamental +illegality+ of the invasion, but the merit of the +strategies+ for achieving its goals.

Soviet Chief of General Staff Ogarkov argued in 1979 (before the invasion), that the decision to send troops to Afghanistan was “inexpedient” because the initial invasion force of 75,000 was insufficient to the task, which was to “stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.” It was “impossible to achieve this goal with such a [small] force”, he claimed. (Quoted, Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, 1991, p.59). General Gareev, a top Soviet advisor to the Afghan armed forces, argued in his memoirs that “from the military point of view, it was perhaps more advisable to conduct a more massive and powerful invasion of Afghanistan”. (Gareev, 1996, pp.45-46)

In the 1980s, the invasion was seen by many Russians as a “mistake” rather than a crime. The attack was deemed legal and well-intentioned, but poorly executed and at excessive cost to the +Soviets+ – a view that is commonly held to this day. Apart from extremely rare exceptions describing Soviet “participation in the Afghan war” as “criminal” (Trud [Labour] newspaper, January 22, 1992), the invasion has almost never been described as an act of Soviet aggression.

When the US and UK governments talk of their “just cause” in Afghanistan they are essentially repeating the Soviet newspaper Izvestiya which quoted an Afghan official declaring that the Soviet and Afghan soldiers were fighting “for a just cause and happy new life for all Afghan people”. (Izvestiya, January 14, 1986)

Similarly, and almost exactly echoing Izvestiya, an Observer editorial commented in October 2006:

“The UK has responsibilities to the elected democratic government of Iraq, under a UN mandate. Britain must honour its commitments to its partners in Baghdad and in Washington.” (Leader, ‘Blair should heed the general’s reality check,’ The Observer, October 15, 2006)

While the manifest illegality of the 2003 Iraq invasion is presented by newspapers like the Observer as a kind of initial teething problem rendered irrelevant by a subsequent “UN mandate“, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan takes a different view:

“The Security Council’s mandate was for us to help the Iraqi people. I don’t think one can say that the Security Council sanctioned the occupation of Iraq, it merely noted the occupation of Iraq and asked the UN to help the Iraqi people…“ (Mark Disney, On The Edge, August 2007)

The only US/UK responsibility under international law is to leave.

Closely echoing Soviet performance, the US-UK media essentially never challenge the fundamental and obvious illegality of both invasions, focusing also on “mistakes”. Reviewing the situation in Iraq, Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian:

“… the question being asked here [Washington], even by staunch Republicans who share the president’s goals, is: why has the Bush administration been so incompetent?” (Garton Ash, ‘Iraq’s government has failed, but America’s isn’t doing so well either,’ The Guardian, September 6, 2007)

For Garton Ash, as for most Guardian commentators, the key issue is “incompetence”, not the supreme criminality that is the waging of a war of aggression.

On August 20, 2007, the New York Times website linked to an article titled, ‘The Good War, Still to Be Won,’ with the synopsis: “We will never know just how much better the fight in Afghanistan might be going if it had been managed more competently over the past six years.” (New York Times, August 20, 2007)

This closely echoes Soviet media performance on the 1979 invasion, where there was also close to zero recognition of the illegality of the invasion, as described reflexively in the Western media at the time. Ironically, contemporary US-UK media are closely matching the Soviet propaganda they ridiculed in the 1970s and 1980s.

To their credit, the Soviet media did at least, on occasion, +mention+ the issue of international law. In their book, The Record Of The Paper, Howard Friel and Richard Falk note that in the seventy editorials on Iraq that appeared in the New York Times from September 11, 2001, to March 21, 2003, the words ‘UN Charter’ and ‘international law’ never appeared. (Friel and Falk, The Record Of The Paper: How The New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy, Verso, 2004, p.15)

We asked Hugh Sykes, a BBC journalist reporting from Baghdad, for his opinion on the issue of legality in relation to the invasion of Iraq. Sykes replied:

“The Americans et al always say they are here ‘at the invitation of the democratically elected Iraqi government’.

“It certainly WAS an illegal occupation before the elections in 2005, but is it still illegal?

“I tend not to put phrases like that into reports because I think I should stick to reporting events and providing analysis when asked.” (Email to Media Lens, September 9, 2007)

Imagine a comparable comment from a BBC journalist in the 1980s:

‘The Soviets et al always say they are here ‘at the invitation of the democratically elected Afghan government’. It certainly WAS an illegal occupation before… but is it still illegal?’

In fact, of course, Western reporters were never in doubt about the truth of the Soviet invasion. When we conducted a search of newspaper archives, we found, for example, dozens of media references in the 1980s to the Soviet “puppet government” in Kabul. The New York Times commented in 1988:

“Soviet troop withdrawal will leave behind a puppet Government whose ministries are laced with Soviet ‘’advisers.’” (A.M. Rosenthal, ‘The great game goes on,’ New York Times, February 12, 1988)

In February 1990, Tony Allen-Mills reported for the Independent:

“Many former freedom fighters have made their peace with the puppet government left behind by the departing Soviet army.” (Allen-Mills, Out of Kabul: ‘Why pride must not come before a Najibullah fall,’ The Independent, February 19, 1990)

By contrast, the same newspaper reported of the Taliban in June 2006:

“Their focus is the ‘puppet’ government of Mr Karzai and its complicity in what is portrayed as the Western military persecution of ordinary Afghans.” (Tom Coghlan, ‘Karzai questions Nato campaign as Taliban takes to hi-tech propaganda,’ The Independent, June 23, 2006)

Readers will search long and hard before they find an example of a news reporter describing the current Afghan government as a “puppet government” without the use of inverted commas.

As for the idea that BBC journalists avoid controversial “phrases” and merely “stick to reporting events“, the day after Sykes’ reply the BBC website observed:

“The surge was designed to allow space for political reconciliation…” (‘US surge “failure” says Iraq poll, BBC online, September 10, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6983841.stm)

It is not, in fact, less controversial to suggest that the massive increase in US violence “was designed to allow space for political reconciliation”, than it is to argue that the invasion was illegal.

Part 2 will follow shortly…

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

October 31, 2007

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

Dandelion Salad

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

Imperial Playground:

The Story of Iran in Recent History

PART 4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rising Tensions and Quiet Mentions of War

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

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

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

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

A report in the Sunday Telegraph stated that, “Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail. Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran,” and that, “Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action. In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq – arming and training militants – would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories. A prime target would be the Fajr base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in southern Iran, where Western intelligence agencies say armour-piercing projectiles used against British and US troops are manufactured.” The article continued, “US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even its armed forces. Senior officials believe Mr Bush’s inner circle has decided he does not want to leave office without first ensuring that Iran is not capable of developing a nuclear weapon.”28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

Attacking Iran for Israel? By Ray McGovern

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

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

October 23, 2007

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

Dandelion Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      – Strategic Understanding Between Tehran and Moscow –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   – Europeans Should Know Better –

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

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

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


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

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

October 19, 2007

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

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, October 19, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kosovo and Monetary Colonization

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

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

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

A Dangerous International Trend: World War in the Horizon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Croatia hosts Nato, Op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7]
Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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

October 19, 2007

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

Dandelion Salad

By Mark H. Gaffney
10/18/07 “
ICH

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

Legacy of the Cold War

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

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

Dashed Hopes

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

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

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

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

The Critical Path: Swords into Plowshares

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

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

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

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

Clinton’s Nuclear Policy Review: A Diminished Presidency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton’s Expansion of NATO

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

October 5, 2007

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

Global Research, October 4, 2007

 

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PART 1

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

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

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

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

Imperial Rumblings and the Road to World War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anglo-American Alliance vs. Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bilderberg and the OPEC War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Contra: The Double Standard Status Quo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Constantinople Conference”.

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

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

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

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

Center for Contemporary Conflict: December 2, 2002.

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

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

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

Payvand’s Iran News: May 7, 2005.

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

The Guardian: August 20, 2003.

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

The National Security Archive: June 22, 2004.

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

The New York Times: 2000.

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

Democracy Now!: August 25th, 2003

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

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

Haaretz: April 5, 2007.

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Affairs: Spring, 1979

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

White House: May 1, 2006.

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

Consortium News: April 15, 2005

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

Time Magazine: December 10, 1979

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

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

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

Reuters News Agency: April 20, 2003.

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

Indo-Asian news Service: April 16, 2003.

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

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

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

Consortium News: May 15, 2003

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

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

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

Counter Punch: December 14, 2002.

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

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

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

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

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

The Independent: December 18, 2002.

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

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

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

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

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

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

The New Yorker: December 9, 2002.

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

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

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

Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

Cold War II by Noam Chomsky

August 30, 2007

Cold War II

by Noam Chomsky
August 27, 2007

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 



[1] Wright, WP, July 29 07

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

[3] Ibid., 77.

[4] Ibid., 180.

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

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

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

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hiro

[10] Weiner

[11] Schmitz, Weiner.

[12] Weiner.  Failed States.

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

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

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

Leaders of China, Russia, Central Asian states to observe war games

August 9, 2007

International Herald Tribune

Leaders of China, Russia, Central Asian states to observe war games

Thursday, August 9, 2007

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BEIJING: The leaders of China, Russia, and four Central Asian states will observe joint war games being held this month by their countries’ armed forces, China’s foreign ministry said Thursday.

The Aug. 9-17 drill, called “Peace Mission 2007,” in eastern Russia will coincide with an annual summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui told reporters at a briefing.

“This is the first time that all the leaders of SCO nations will attend the war games,” Li said. “All the member countries put a high value on these drills.”

The exercises are aimed at countering terrorism, including a scenario in which militants occupy a town, requiring SCO forces to retake it by force — a scenario similar to threats faced by Russia in the Caucuses.

The China and Russia-dominated SCO had its origins in the late 1990s, but only took on a formal structure in 2001 to address regional threats and economic integration and counter U.S. influence in oil- and gas-rich Central Asia.

Other members are Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which is hosting the year’s summit in its capital, Bishkek.

China has sent a 1,600-member contingent, the biggest military unit to be sent such a long distance from China for military exercises. A total of 32 Mi-17 and Z-9 helicopters will also take part, along with six heavy transport aircraft, eight attack aircraft, and a company of airborne troops.

“The regional security situation is extremely complex and all members face threats,” Li said.

“The point of these exercises is to make a contribution to regional peace, security and stability,” he said, adding, “they are not targeted at any third parties.”

Representatives from the SCO’s four observer states, Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan, will attend the Aug. 16 summit but not the war games, Li said.

Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be attending his second SCO summit, is among those reportedly interested in joining the SCO as a full member.

Prior to the summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao will make his first state visit to Kyrgyzstan, followed by a state visit to Russia on Aug. 17-18.