In Salon today, Patrick Smith, wrote an excellent rant…

Chomsky’s right: The New York Times’ latest big lie

More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

…In this case, we have the irresponsible use of inverted commas, as the Brits say, to shape national opinion on a question of vital importance. The question is Iran. And now to the supine, corrupted and corrupting organ.

You have taken a wild guess, and you are right. We have our familiar problem with our friends on Eighth Avenue, the New York Times, faithful servants of the sanctioned orthodoxy. I give these folks an “A” for clever disguise this time, and I flunk them in the professional ethics class. Simply shameful, this round of reckless chicanery…

Here is the situation.

As all know, a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is the biggest game going these days — an historic opportunity, as previously asserted in this space. Fumble this, and the Obama administration will go down as hopelessly moronic on the foreign-relations side.

You may know, too, that a round of talks between six world powers and the Iranians just hit a pothole. It is essential to understand why.

The paradox is apparent, not real. Knowing why reveals what a nation with imperial ambitions looks like when it is nearing exhaustion and would rather decline than shape up, re-imagine itself, and take a new and constructive place in the global community. Not knowing why encourages Americans to preserve their righteous self-image even as the moths of history chew holes in it…

As Gareth Porter, reported recently about that ‘Last Moment’ draft…

Russian Foreign Minister Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at ‘Last Moment’

…Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”

Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1…

Lavrov noted that unlike previous meetings involving the P5+1 and Iran, “This time, the P5+1 group did not formulate any joint document.”

As Pepe Escobar wrote…

France clueless on Iran

Here is definitive proof – if any was needed – that the Gallic fit-throwing that burned the possibility of an interim Iranian nuclear deal last week in Geneva was completely pointless.

The key “concern” expressed by Israel-firster French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to derail an interim deal was about the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Well, UN inspectors this week reported that they had detected no new developments in Arak over the three months since August. [1]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, was also in Tehran on Monday, and – unusually for his trademark paperboy role for Washington – had nothing to complain about.

Fabius used the Arak gambit at the last minute in Geneva to derail the talks, provoking the ire of even fellow European diplomats. That was out of pure disinformation; Tehran was already doing what Fabius insisted they were not doing.

A EU diplomat (non-French) confirmed to Asia Times Online that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already informed US Secretary of State John Kerry about these euphemistically defined “confidence-building measures”. Kerry was fully aware before he landed in Geneva on his way to sign an interim deal.

But guess what: the French were clueless. Kerry did not tell anybody else on the P5+1 table (comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) because he feared any leaks. This proves once again that this infinitely complex negotiation is really between Washington and Tehran. Russia and China are behaving – so far – as sort of quiet (and wary) observers. Yet Kerry, Francophile that he is, should have know better about Gallic peacock instincts.

Meanwhile, there’s a Battle Royal happening in the Halls of Congress and DC…

To be sure… From Foreign Policy’s The Cable…

Israel and White House Locked in an Info War Over Iran

The White House and Israel are locked in an information war on Capitol Hill, and right now, Israel may be winning.

All week, the Obama administration has provided facts and figures to lawmakers on its sanctions relief proposal to build support for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. But some members in Congress don’t trust the data U.S. officials are providing — they trust conflicting data provided privately by senior Israeli officials.

According to multiple Congressional aides, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are storming Capitol Hill in an effort to discredit the Obama administration’s interim nuclear deal with Iran. The effort coincides with a visit by Israel’s Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, who is also speaking with lawmakers on the Hill. The campaign includes one-on-one briefings with lawmakers that provide data that strays from official U.S. assessments.

As a result, lawmakers have begun citing a range of facts and figures the Obama administration says are wildly inaccurate. {…}

Dubowitz told The Cable he was not surprised at the discrepancy between U.S. and Israeli assessments on sanctions. “I would say this is not unusual,” he said. “I think there have been significant disagreements between the Israelis and the Americans on these sanctions questions. Significant differences on information on research and on the analysis and conclusions.”

Other arms control experts were puzzled as to why the Israeli assessment gained any traction at all over the American assessment — since Israelis are not members of the so-called P5+1 countries negotiating a deal with Iran.

“Personally, I would tend to believe the estimates and figures of the people who are actually at the negotiating table rather than people that are getting this information second-hand, even if they’re senior Israeli officials,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told The Cable. “This is in many cases a distortion of the physics and the reality.”

Speaking of those actually at the negotiating table…

No real dissent in nuclear talks between P5+1 and Iran – Lavrov

The Russian Foreign Minister has revealed that there are no real differences on practical issues between the six-party negotiators and Iran. What is needed now is to set down our understanding in a document, Sergey Lavrov told the Russian TVC channel.

“The negotiations with the Foreign Minister of Iran [Mohammad Javad Zarif] have confirmed that for the first time in many years the sextet of negotiators and Tehran are ready to truly seek common grounds instead of presenting mostly uncorrelated positions,” said the Russian FM in an interview to Postscriptum program.

“Such areas of common interests have been defined and there remain no principle differences in solving practical questions,” Lavrov said. “What we’re talking about now is a correct diplomatic recording of the reached understanding so that it becomes a truly joint document, not imposed on anyone from outside.”

Lavrov said that negotiators on both sides have verified the areas of common interests and now there remain no principle differences in making practical arrangements.

Russia’s Foreign Minister stressed that the understanding reached must now be fixed by diplomatic means so that it becomes a truly joint document, not imposed on anyone from outside.

There is a chance to settle the Iranian nuclear problem because P5+1 [The five members of the Security Council plus Germany] is determined to find a solution with the new leadership of the Iranian Islamic Republic, believes Lavrov.

“The Iranians say they need one year to clear the table of all the questions troubling the IAEA and thereby eliminate the reasons that caused the international sanctions,” Lavrov told the TVC channel, mentioning that he has discussed the Iranian nuclear program issue with the European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

In wrapping up…