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  • 7 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 11/7

War watch: Israeli and U.S. officials discuss military strikes on Iran
This past week has seen an increased amount of war talk in both Israel and the U.S.  Shimon Peres joined in, saying, “the possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option.”  Yet, ex-Mossad chief Ephaim Halevy attacked the justification for such military attacks, saying that Iran is “far from posing an existential threat.”  In the U.S. former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice said that the U.S. needed to “be doing everything it can to bring [Iran] down.”  Former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh said that the U.S. is the only country that has the ability to effectively strike Iran’s nuclear program, and that Israel and Saudi Arabia would not live with a nuclear armed “suicidal theocracy” in the Middle East.  However, an article in International Security Journal points out, just like with the strike against the Osirak reactor in Iraq, attacking Iran’s nuclear program would likely increase proliferation risks not reduce them.

Much speculation regarding upcoming IAEA report
A Washington Post article reports that the soon-to-be-released IAEA report will present evidence that Iran has an active nuclear weapons development program.  Additionally, it is being claimed that Iran has built a large steel container that could be used to test nuclear explosions.  On the overall impact of the report, a western diplomat was quoted as saying that there is no “killer fact” or “smoking gun” that would prove that Iran is building nuclear weapons. (Washington Post 11/6) (Financial Times 11/6)

Standoff between Congress and Obama on Iranian Central Bank sanctions?
On Friday, Obama Administration officials signaled in the LA Times that they will not go forward with the so-called “nuclear option” of sanctions—sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).  They say such sanctions could have a negative impact on international oil markets and international economies as a whole, and could fracture international unity against Iran.  Instead they say they are likely to focus on increasing sanctions enforcement through the UN and ramping up other sanctions.  (Los Angeles Times 11/4)

But earlier in the week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislationthat would impose a 30-day deadline for the President to impose CBI sanctions.  And in the Senate, Mark Kirk announced today that he will offer an amendment to the State Department funding bill this week that would force CBI sanctions.  Kirk and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to the President signed by over 90 Senators calling for CBI sanctions in August.

 

Other notable news stories:
Ron Paul warns that additional sanctions take us closer to war with Iran

Guardian op-ed: Why military strikes against Iran are a bad idea for Israel

Rothkopf Foreign Policy op-ed: How the world is misreading Obama on Iran

Beeman op-ed: Legislation would prevent diplomacy and limit president’s leverage with Iran

  • 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.

  • 31 August 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 5 Comments
  • Election 2012, US-Iran War

Perry’s military “solution” and the GOP candidates on Iran

Republican primary front-runner Gov. Rick Perry, was recently quoted as saying that, while he rejects military adventurism, he was “never going to take off the table our ability to have a military solution to a country like Iran.”  At first glance, this might appear to be more of the same tough talk that we have grown accustomed to hearing.  However, there is a subtle but important difference in Perry’s substitution of “option,” the commonly used term, for “solution.”

A military option for Iran typically revolves around U.S. and/or Israeli airstrikes against their nuclear facilities.  However, given that there is near universal agreement that even the most successful airstrikes will do little more than delay Iran’s nuclear program (not to mention be a gift to the regime that will galvanize Iranian public support), it seems implausible that by military “solution” he could be referring to airstrikes.  Thus, his talk of a military “solution” could reasonably be thought to refer to a military action requiring the use of ground forces, a la Iraq 2003.

Admittedly, focusing on Perry’s use of “solution” rather then “option” might be splitting hairs, and it would not be the first time that a politician was imprecise with his choice of words.  But given the importance of potential presidential candidates’ positions on Iran, it is critical that we become familiar with their stances and be wary of subtle shifts in terminology, lest we find ourselves with a president advocating for a war with Iran.

With this in mind, here are some of the other Republican presidential candidates’ quotes and stances on Iran to date:

Former Gov. Mitt Romney:

In the run up to the 2008 Republican presidential primary, Romney said:

Of course, the military option has to be on the table. Anyone who’s considering being president hopefully will say that military options are always on the table when you consider a nation, which is a genocidal nation, a suicidal nation, in some respects, coming from Ahmadinejad…This is a nation where the genocidal inclination is really frightening and having a nation of this nature develop nuclear weaponry is unacceptable to this country and to the Middle East.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman:

When asked what he would do if Iran develops WMD, Huntsman responded that if ever there was a time to consider using U.S. force, it would be to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.

Rep. Michele Bachmann:

Bachmann is a lead supporter of House Resolution 271, green-lighting Israeli military strikes on Iran.  She is also a vocal supporter of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and has spoken at pro-MEK events.

Rep. Ron Paul:

At a recent primary debate Paul said there is no concrete evidence to that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.  He said a war with Iran would be worse than a nuclear-armed Iran. Paul has said he would “tolerate” a nuclear armed Iran before he would support sending U.S. troops off to fight a war with Iran.  Paul has repeatedly voted against sanctions as he sees them as increasing the likelihood of war.  He supports dialogue with Iran, saying at the recent debate that the Soviet Union posed a much greater threat than Iran and we had a dialogue this them.

Former Senator Rick Santorum:

At the previously mentioned debate, Santorum rebuked Paul’s positions, saying that Iran has been in a state of war with the U.S. since 1979 and saying that Iran has killed more soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan then the Iraqis or the Afghanis have.  Santorum has highlighted that, while in the Senate, he authored the Iran Freedom Support Act to provide U.S. funds aimed at toppling the Iranian regime.  At the debate, he conveyed support for the 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh, saying, “I don’t apologize for the Iranian people being free for a long time…”


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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