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House now has three resolutions endorsing Israeli-led preventive war on Iran

The pro-Iran war posturing continues in the House, with yet another Member of Congress throwing their hat in the ring to signal support for Israeli-led preventive war on Iran.

Arizona Republican Paul Gosar has dropped what is now the third resolution in the 112th Congress providing Congressional cover for Israeli strikes—which the Pentagon has warned would drag the U.S. into war.

Signaling unconditional support for Israeli strikes significantly undercuts U.S. efforts to avoid war; it politicizes Israeli security (which is supposedly sacrosanct); and it provides political leverage against the U.S. administration for hawks in Israel (a group which, by the way, apparently doesn’t include Israel’s military chief).

Gosar’s resolution, H.Res.630, has no cosponsors.  But between his new measure, a “happy birthday Israel, now go bomb Iran” resolution, and the one that started it all–the Gohmert resolution, there are now 120 House Members who have endorsed Israeli preventive war in the current Congress.

The full list is below–I wonder how many of these Members have repeated the line that we must “listen to our generals”?  All the while, they disregard the overwhelming opposition to war with Iran expressed by the U.S. military, and instead follow the AIPAC-Netanyahu line (although AIPAC has been careful to not publicly endorse these measures, yet).

  • 18 April 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file

Washington and Tehran’s Vicious Spin Cycle

The crux of negotiations between the U.S. and Iran is that, at some point, in order to succeed, each side will have to take a deep breath and shake hands on a deal. But thirty years of mutual demonization and fear mongering, means it takes serious political courage to come to the table, and even more courage—and a major investment of political capital—to actually accept a deal and sell it at home.

One way each side builds such political capital is to spin the talks as favoring the home team. This zero-sum approach—building capital at the expense of the other side—is dangerous and can create a precarious back and forth.

After modest success in Istanbul this past weekend, we’re seeing this back and forth play out as the sides prepare for the next round of talks in five weeks in Baghdad. Tehran has portrayed Washington as having softened its position and backed down from previous demands—particularly on the issue of whether Iran has the right to enrichment.

As Robert Wright speculates in the Atlantic, “If Iran’s leadership thinks it may do a deal with a government it has long framed as the great Satan, it needs to tell the Iranian people that it’s bringing Satan to his knees.” He points out that, as Tehran spins one way to build domestic support and to perhaps insulate the negotiations from political backlash at home, the opposite happens among opportunists in the U.S.

The Washington Times, for instance, takes Fars News at its word that the U.S. is granting Iran concessions, seizing on Tehran’s domestic spin to attack the talks. The very same groups that dismiss positive news like Khamenei’s fatwah against nuclear weapons as religious dissembling are, ironically, the most eager to treat Iran’s anti-U.S. spin as gospel–so long as it can be used to attack the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.

For its part, the U.S. is doing the exact same kind of spinning. In Haaretz yesterday, an unnamed U.S. official pushed back against criticism from Bibi Netanyahu that the Istanbul talks were a “freebie” for Tehran. Such an attack from Netanyahu–delivered with Senator Joe Lieberman at the Prime Minister’s side–is politically damaging for the White House and for the talks. Bibi may not technically be a domestic political opponent of the President, but nobody has bothered telling that to Congress.

Iran News Roundup 01/04

Daylight between Romney and Santorum on war with Iran?

GOP candidate Mitt Romney, responding to Rick Santorum’s rhetoric regarding strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, said that he does not want to threaten any “specific action right now,” in regards to Iran, but endorses military options (Think Progress 01/03).

Santorum has said he would order airstrikes on Iran if the country was going to acquire nuclear weapons, but reasoned to Glen Beck that this was an effort to prevent war (Think Progress 01/04).

Meanwhile, IPS reports that President Obama believes the U.S. could distance itself from Israeli strikes on Iran (IPS 01/03).

And White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the latest threats made by Iran concerning naval operations in the Persian Gulf indicates that “Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failure to live up to its international obligations,” and “is isolated and seeking to divert attention from its domestic problems” (The Hill 01/03).

Nuclear rod will not bring Iran closer to nuclear capability

Experts say that Iran’s recent claim that it has developed and tested it’s first nuclear rod will not bring Iran any closer to having atomic bombs (Reuters 01/04).

Meanwhile, a Russian defense official, responding to a series of tests conducted by Ira near the Strait of Hormuz, said that Iran has no long-range missiles (AFP 01/03).

Iranian political activist’s message leaked

A well-known Iranian political activist, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, has recorded a video from inside Iran’s infamous Rajayishahr prison dismissing Iran’s repressive measures aimed at silencing dissent and predicts they will ultimately fail (Rferl 01/03).

Iran News Roundup 12/19

Talks accelerate on a potential embargo on Iran

In what could be a precursor to an embargo on Iran, a “coalition of like-minded countries” including U.S., EU, Arab, and Asian states will meet in Rome tomorrow for talks on how to maintain stable global energy markets in the midst of increased Iran sanctions (Wall Street Journal 12/19).

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran has prepared for “the worst case scenario” and has a “road map” circumvent Western sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and oil exports(AFP 12/16).

U.S. drone saga continues

U.S. cyber-warfare experts have questioned Iran’s ability to hijack the spy drone by overwhelming the drone’s GPS signal (Christian Science Monitor 12/16).  Additionally, U.S. officials say the drone actually crashed, further refuting Iran’s claims (Wall Street Journal 12/16).  On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said that Iran deliberately delayed its announcement that it had captured the American surveillance drone to test U.S. reaction (Huffington Post 12/17).

Iran News Roundup 12/16

GOP candidates get fact checked for Iran claims at debate

Michelle Bachmann made the claim that the IAEA report proves that “Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that [nuclear] weapon.”  Fact checks from CNNThe Washington Post, and the New York Times said Bachmann got it wrong.

Mitt Romney accused President Obama of having said “pretty please” in order to have the American recently fallen drone returned and Rick Perry said the Obama should have used military  destroy of retrieve the drone.  But the New York Times says:

In fact, American military officials considered an operation to retrieve the drone but rejected it as too dangerous, since it would require a sizeable force traveling more than 200 miles into the country and likely facing a large Iranian protection force.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum repeated his very un-covert calls for “covert activities” against Iran. “We need to plan a strike against their facilities and say to them that if you do not open up those facilities and close them down, we will close them down for you.” (New American 12/16).

Iran News Roundup 12/15

Broad Iran sanctions approved by the House

The House of Representatives approved central bank sanctions on Iran as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be sent to the President by the end of the week (Newsweek 12/15).

The House also approved two standalone Iran sanctions bills, H.R. 1905 and H.R.2105.  H.R.1905 eliminates the President’s humanitarian waiver to allow for parts and repairs of Iranian civilian airplanes, puts legal restrictions on contacts between U.S. and Iranian officials, and places sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank. The bill must now go to the Senate for consideration, which is not expected until after the New Year (The Hill 12/14).

Reuters reports that Asian countries China, India, South Korea, and Japan are increasingly worried about oil in light of new Iran sanctions. (Reuters 12/15). China is looking to obtain discounted Iranian oil as the U.S. increases pressure on Iran. “Any restriction on oil supplies from Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, could drive up already high oil prices and threaten economies already facing the impact of the euro zone debt crisis.”

“This is an issue that could have a big impact on the global economy in terms of crude prices, so our nation will pay close attention to this with grave concern,” said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.

Growing concern over the number of executions in iran

Amnesty International warned of “a new wave of drug offence executions”  in a report published yesterday. Public and secret hangings have increased in what has been called “a killing spree of staggering proportions” (Guardian 12/14).

War watch

On Tuesday former Vice-president Cheney advised the Obama administration to launch a “quick air strike” against Iran after it had captured the U.S. drone.  NIAC’s Trita Parsi says, “the Obama administration’s decision not to risk war by going in and destroying the drone reflects its desire to avoid catastrophic escalation” (Salon 12/12).

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, speaking to CNN, said he’d commit to a ground invasion to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon (Think Progress 12/14).

Revolutionary Guards commander Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali said Iran would move the uranium enrichment centers to safer locations if Iran were attacked (Reuters 12/14).

Additional Notable News:

State department official Frederick Hof toldCongress that Syrian president Assad’s hold on power will be short-lived despite the repression of protestors.

  • 19 October 2011
  • Posted By Sina Kashefipour
  • 3 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Neo-Con Agenda, Sanctions, US-Iran War

The nuclear option: central bank sanctions

Last August, a letter pushed by AIPAC from Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), 92 Senators called for the White House to impose sanctions on Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi.

Though the Wall Street Journal reported that such action could be considered an act of war, Kirk posed an ultimatum to the Obama Administration–either issue sanctions or we’ll pass legislation to force your hand:

“The administration will face a choice of whether it wants to lead this effort or be forced to act,” Mr. Kirk said.

Now, in the aftermath of the alleged assasination plot, the White House is signaling that it may be going forward with the central bank sanctions.

Such sanctions–if heeded by the international community–would destabilize the rial, Iran’s currency, and make it nearly impossible for Iranians to to import and access basic foodstuffs and medical supplies.

It is clear that the Iranian government, as it is now, receives little to no legitimacy from democratic consent. Yet the strategy going forth is to actively punish the population with sanctions on Bank Markazi, Iran Air, Mahan Air et al and not the government with the expectation that punishing the people is holding the government responsible for its failings and violence.

Kirk says that if we can impose enough punishment on ordinary Iranians, it will spark a revolution that would topple Iran’s government.  Such arguments are not supported by the evidence.  Look at the sanctions in place against North Korea, where the population today is starving.  Or the sanctions against Saddam–some of the most stringent, economically devastating sanctions imaginable against Iraq’s oil exports and banking system.  They did nothing to displace Saddam’s regime, which managed to deflect all of the suffering onto the population.  Ultimately those measures killed half a million ordinary Iraqis and ultimately paved a path to a disastrous war.

Such a step is effectively collective punishment of the people of Iran.  But literally starving average Iranians is just fine according to Kirk, who moonlights as a human rights supporter (as long as supporting human rights means ratcheting up hawkish Middle East policies, not actually protecting human rights).

  • 19 October 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 3 Comments
  • Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Military and civilian leaders on dangers of war with Iran

Apparently, having learned nothing from their wrong-headed push for going to war with Iraq based on questionable evidence, Bill Kristol and the gang is back once again banging the drums of war.  In the wake of last Tuesday’s revelations about an alleged assassination attempt against the Saudi Ambassador in Washington D.C., a cacophony of calls from Iran hawks to authorize “the use of force against Iranian entities,” “respond militarily to this outrage,” etc. have arisen from the usual suspects.

But unlike in 2003, this time around we have learned better than to follow the neocon clarion call to arms. We saw firsthand with the Iraq War fiasco what happens when we take their advice .  Today, their claims that military strikes will usher in a democratic government in Iran should ring false to most  our ears.

And given what we learned in Iraq and given that military experts have made it abundantly clear that the challenges of a war in Iran would dwarf those that we faced in Iraq, never mind that we can little afford to another war, it is obvious that the military response Kristol and Co. advocate for would be disastrous.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Here is what military leaders have said about so-called “targeted strikes” or all out war with Iran:

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense

“Conner’s axiom — never fight unless you have to — looms over policy discussions today regarding rogue nations like Iran … Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels.”(Think Progress: Gates: War With Iran ‘Would Be Disastrous,’ It’s ‘The Last Thing We Need’)

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.” (NY Times: Warning Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan)

Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“No strike, however effective, will be in and of itself decisive.”

“We haven’t had a contact with Iran since 1979.  Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union.  We are not talking to Iran so we don’t understand each other.  If something happens it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right – that there will be miscalculations – which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.” (Haaretz: Military Strike Won’t Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program

General David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, former head of CENTCOM and commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

“It’s possible (a strike) could be used to play to nationalist tendencies. There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment. So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike on Iran).”(Reuters: Petraeus Says Strike On Iran Could Spark Nationalism)

  • 17 October 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

The Kristol Doctrine

Jamie Fly and Bill Kristol have a bridge to sell America.

The folks who helped bring you the Iraq war say the takeaway of the alleged Iranian assassination plot is that diplomacy with Iran has failed.

What diplomacy?  Fly and Kristol have more wars under their belts than the U.S. has had direct meetings with Iran.  If Fly and Kristol fought their wars the way they say we should carry out diplomacy, we would have been out of Iraq a long time ago.

The total lack of diplomatic channels is the reason that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, before his term ended this month, urged forcefully and publicly for the U.S. to pursue “any channel that’s open” for diplomacy with Iran to avert a national security disaster.  “We haven’t had a connection with Iran since 1979,” Mullen has noted. “Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union.”

But apparently Kristol and Fly know better than the Admiral. So what are these great minds advocating, beyond “diplomacy is dead”?

“Fortunately, there is a template for action from President Obama’s predecessors in the Oval Office. An appropriate response would be targeted strikes against key regime facilities that support Iran’s illicit activities.”

You guessed it—bombing Iran.  But Kristol and Fly’s “template,” they say, is just tactical strikes, not all out war.  It is the template followed by Bill Clinton when he bombed Iraq in 1993 and Ronald Regan when he bombed Libya in 1986.

And, as we all know, those military strikes stopped Saddam and Moammar in their tracks and created bastions of peace and stability in Iraq and Libya that have served U.S. national security interests for decades.

No, I’m kidding of course—the smoke hasn’t even cleared in Libya and our troops aren’t home from Iraq yet.  Kristol must think we are pretty gullible.  The U.S. hasn’t even paid off its credit card for the last wars, and Fly and Kristol want to buy a new one.

Perhaps if the good folks at Bill Kristol, Inc. want to dish out advice, they should figure out how to clean up the old messes they helped create before they prod us into a new one.

  • 1 September 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 1 Comments
  • Election 2012, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

1.4 million reasons why the military option is not really an option

With the ad nauseum invocations by American political figures that an Iran military option (or even “military solution”) is “on the table”, there has been an alarming lack of substantive discussion on what such an option would actually entail. Recently though, two pieces have provided some needed perspective on the consequences of going to war with Iran.

The first is a report by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Leif Eckholm, who serves under Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Mullen has gone on the record to say that the only military “option” that would end Iran’s nuclear program would be a ground invasion and occupation.  Eckholm’s echoes this and says “the price of an invasion would be astronomical…”  An Iran war, he says, may require 1.4 million troops, “nearly double the current end-strength of the active duty U.S. Army and Marines combined.” 

He bases this on the one soldier to every 50 inhabitant ratio recommended by former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, noting that Iran has three times the population and four the landmass of Iraq.  Shinseki’s advice was notoriously ignored and discredited by Donald Rumsfeld in the drive to invade Iraq.  We’ve learned from the last decade what are the grave ramifications for discarding honest assessments just because they are inconvenient for Washington.

So, the forces required to wage a successful war against Iran are completely unrealistic.  Unrealistic, that is, unless war advocates are willing to advocate a national military draft.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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