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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Prism of Pain, GWOT, and, the US-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act

10:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon, pups, we’re clearly losing the R2P ‘Hearts and Mind’ campaign in the MENA…!

The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East

… His findings sometimes reflect significant differences in the opinions in these countries but more often demonstrate basic commonalities. At a time when some pundits see crises in Syria and elsewhere leading to the marginalization of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region’s politics, Telhami forcefully pulls readers back to it, labeling it a “prism of pain” through which Arab publics view the region — even if their leaders do not. Arabs overwhelmingly view Israel and the United States as the greatest threats they face. This produces inconsistent preferences: manifested, for example, in their pushing for the establishment of democratic institutions in their own countries while admiring antidemocratic leaders who defy the United States, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Telhami argues that that no U.S. president will make a dent in Arab anti-Americanism so long as Washington maintains its uncritical support for Israel and continues to deploy significant U.S. military forces in the region.

On the other side of the global ledger…

Why Vladimir rules and Obama bombs

On both the NSA saga and the Syrian crisis, Putin played chess while Obama played checkers with himself – and lost.

Every year, Forbes magazine publishes its list of the heads of state, financial titans and business moguls who “truly rule the world.” Predictably, a sitting US president – the commander-in-chief of the most lethal armada in the history of the world – usually gets the top spot.

Not in 2010 though, when Barack Obama was overtaken by then Chinese President Hu Jintao in the aftermath of the Wall Street-provoked financial crisis. And not in 2013, when the winner is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not by accident, China and Russia are the most influential among the BRICS group of emerging powers. The US corporate media’s rankings such as Time’s Person of The Year may be irrelevant, and usually extremely provincial. But as a PR coup, American recognition of Putin’s soft power is priceless, even coming after de facto recognition by the overwhelming majority of the real ‘international community’: the developing world.

To its credit, Forbes stresses how “anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and the National Security Agency leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.” {…}

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing, National Intelligence Director James Clapper was adamant that the NSA and the CIA cannot spy on any political leader via his/her private mobile phones without permission from the White House. So no matter the spin, Obama knew, among others, about the spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and German Chancellor Angel Merkel.

You don’t need to have read Orwell to note this is yet another instance of the imperial Masters of the Universe worldview. It’s ‘legitimate’ to spy on Americans. It’s ‘legitimate’ to spy all over the global South – including the more influential BRICS. {…}

The proverbial US Think Tankland Cassandras will be left endlessly carping about the ‘stagnating’ Russian economy, ethnic and religious ‘tension’, ‘political atrophy’ because of Putin’s ‘authoritarianism’, and assorted ills. Nonsense.

This essay by top blogger The Saker meticulously outlines the key plot twists and undercurrents of the past 20 years of US-Russia relations – including the now-proverbial Putin demonization.

Back to the facts on the geopolitical ground. Putin has seized the moment and now is arguably the key actor trying to build an emerging, alternative multilateral order. As for imperial lame duck Obama, he seems destined to keep bombing in more ways than one.

Now, in my last Mashup, I’d pointed out the serious BS emanating from our AIPAC, bought-and-paid-for, Critters on Iran, well they doubled down on the buffoonery…

Forget Sanctions: House Hawks Pushing for Iran War

Bill Would Green-Light Attack on Iran

While most of the effort of the Obama Administration has been trying to convince an unwilling Congress to “delay” any new sanctions as Iran negotiations move forward, a collection of hawks in the House of Representatives are looking to move beyond that dispute and just flat out start a war.

The ironically named “United States-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act,” would condemn Iran for “deception” dating back to the 1980s, and would authorize President Obama to attack Iran whenever he decides talks have “failed.”

Let’s get real here, pups…

Propaganda & Ignorance in Reporting on Iran

Whenever tensions over Iran’s nuclear energy program appear to dissipate and rational, fact-based reporting begins to replace agenda-driven rhetoric in the press, the folks over at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington D.C. think tank that specializes in producing highly speculative assessments of the nuclear capabilities of countries loathed by the U.S. government, release a new study full of hypotheticals, allegations, and innuendo intended to restore alarmism to front pages and TelePrompTers.

Critical to the success of ISIS’s efforts and the endless self-promotion of its president, David Albright, are the dutiful stenographers in the media who eagerly promote to large audiences their claims as unchallenged fact, without even a shred of skepticism or hint of journalistic integrity…

The Institute for Speculation and Iran Scaremongering

Under a hysterical headline – “Iran may be a month from a bomb” – Dorell posted what is effectively a press release for a new ISIS report. In his article, Dorell not only presents ISIS head David Albright, a former IAEA inspector, as an unimpeachable expert source and uncritically regurgitates his claims about the potential timeline for Iran achieving nuclear breakout capacity, but also deliberately omits vitally important information which might undermine the ultimate goal of fear-mongering about Iran…

U.S. Director of National Intelligence has repeatedly noted that, even were this decision to be made sometime in the future, “Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered.”

Honestly pups, this is what we’re reduced to…

I want American foreign policy to fail

Drones, wiretapping foreign leaders, NSA out of control: Change will only come when our foreign policy truly fails

It is difficult, and it will never be any other, to be an American and write in an American publication that the best thing to befall our great country would be a series of resounding defeats. It is upside down. It is bitter. And it is time.

Failure will make Americans a better people, their country a more humane country, and the world a more habitable world. This the only honest conclusion to draw as the outlines of official American thinking in the 21st century emerge from the mists of endemic misinformation.

Let us ask ourselves: What do the following developments, all now in the news, commonly reflect? Why is it better to view them all at once, parts of a single phenomenon, rather than separately (as our media incessantly encourage us to do)? {…}

Untamed spookery, diabolic weapons and prosecutorial trade arrangements to be forced down others’ gullets as if they were geese tell us all about ourselves and our plans. In any choice between primacy or world order — the prescient coinage of Stanley Hoffmann, a Harvard historian of the Cold War — Washington insists on the former. It continues to choose the unilateralism of the last century over the multilateralism that is the unmistakable sine qua non of our time. Military hardware and territorial dominion — 20th century technologies — trump coexistence and the mahogany tables of diplomacy, which are the technologies of our time.

And if you didn’t get the original terra, terra, terra, memo, the ADL’s Abe Foxman spelled it all out for ya…

The Jewish Condition: Then, Now, and in the Future

…It seems that people such as this hack — people who think wars of mission, armed interventions galore, and all associated strategies and tactics are yesteryear’s thinking and played poorly even yesteryear — these people are isolationists.

They are weak. The president was weak on Syria. A strong America is an America that remains engaged. Remaining engaged means intervening when American values and interests are at stake. Intervening means the deployment of might. {…}

And then on top of that comes this drive to find agreements with Iran on the nuclear issue. Now let me be clear: if we can reach a satisfactory deal with Iran that ensures that if Iran is deceptive or abnegates that agreement, it couldn’t in a short time break out and speedily move to a bomb, I’d be all for it. The concern is the context: America seems desperate to avoid a confrontation with Iran; the Iranians, aware of that, are playing it to a fare-thee-well.

Not only are they talking the language of moderation, but they are already offering substantive proposals that may appear more giving than they really are. Again, it’s not impossible that things can work out well, but when it appears to come from a perception of American weakness, it doesn’t bode well. {…}

I hope that we get our act together. I hope Congress starts to think of the bigger picture. I hope we are truly able to keep all options on the table, whether vis-à-vis Iran or Syria, without rushing to military action.

Make no mistake about it. If what we are seeing now is the beginning of a deep change in American foreign policy it will be bad for the Jews.

Don’t believe for a second that there is an alternative to American leadership when it comes to Israel’s security, peace in the Middle East, safety and security for Jews in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Still, all in all, as I look to the Jewish future and the role of ADL on the occasion of our centennial, I am an optimist. Again, I am an optimist on Israel. I am an optimist on American Jews. And, despite the concerns I have expressed here, I remain an optimist about America, about the good sense of the American people, the track record over the last 70 years about its ability to overcome the obstacles to governance and to recognize that American leadership in the world is good for America, good for the world and good for the Jewish people.

God Help Us All…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, ISIS, and, Iran

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Honestly, it truly is tiresome exposing AIPAC’s undue influence over our elected critters, time after time…!

Let’s take a gander at the latest shenanigans…

Franks legislation authorizes military force against Iran

Recent talks between the West and Iran have created an important opportunity to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff. U.S. officials have expressed cautious optimism that a deal may be reached that protects U.S. interests. However, some in Washington seem determined to undermine the diplomatic process.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation on October 15 that, among other things, would authorize the president of the United States to use military force against Iran. During the past several weeks, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has mentioned his plans to introduce a similar bill in the U.S. Senate. {…}

The headline of Franks’ own press release indicating his intention to introduce the bill read: “Franks Calls for Authorization of Military Force in Iran.”

In the section entitled “Support for United States Diplomatic Efforts,” the act specifies a number of preconditions on any agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program.They include not only a virtual end to all Iranian nuclear activity, but also an insistence that Iran stop its support of terrorist groups, demonstrate a peaceful foreign policy, and recognize Israel’s sovereignty. Such preconditions, while praiseworthy objectives, are so stringent within the context of the current negotiations that they could severely diminish the chances of reaching a satisfactory diplomatic settlement with Iran on the nuclear issue.

It is so unhelpful for Iranian negotiations to advance, that…

Kerry, Lew to brief U.S. senators on Iran nuclear talks

Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will hold a briefing on Thursday on the status of nuclear talks with Iran for members of a U.S. Senate committee considering tough new sanctions on Tehran, Senate aides said on Friday.

President Barack Obama’s administration has been pushing the Senate Banking Committee to hold off on the new sanctions in order to give negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program a chance.

Iran, Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany will meet November 7-8 in Geneva, after a round of talks there earlier this month.

Washington and its allies believe Tehran is developing the ability to make a nuclear weapon, but Tehran says the program is for generating power and medical devices.

The secret briefing for members of the banking panel with Kerry and Lew on the status of the talks with Iran will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), according to a document obtained by Reuters.

The House of Representatives passed its version of a stiffer sanctions package in July by a 400-20 vote. The House bill seeks to slash Iran’s oil exports by another 1 million barrels a day a year.

The Senate bill could reduce the ability of the Obama administration to offer waivers to the sanctions. But the measure has not come to a vote in the banking committee, a prelude to its consideration by the full Senate. The two versions would then be reconciled before being sent to Obama for his signature.

It appeared on Friday that banking committee leaders, who had already put off consideration of the package from September, agreed to at least some further delay.

Interestingly…

Israel Intel Minister: Not pessimistic about Iran deal

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tuesday that he believes Iran is “serious” about wanting to make a nuclear deal to save its economy. But he pressed for no let-up in economic pressure unless Iran agrees to terms for a deal that many US national security experts believe could preclude a diplomatic compromise.

“I think they are serious,” Steinitz, speaking to al-Monitor in an interview Tuesday, said of the Iranians. “They want an agreement.”

But the deal they are aiming for, he said, is a “North Korea-type,” under which Iran would freeze, rather than dismantle, major elements of its nuclear program, and offer “better inspections procedures.”

“Nuclear energy without enrichment is the only reasonable compromise,” he said.

Steinitz was in Washington leading an Israeli delegation attending two days of high-level talks with US counterparts as part of the US-Israel Strategic Dialogue. US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman addressed the gathering Wednesday, the State Department said.

So…

U.S. negotiator in nuclear talks assures Iranians she’ll be fair

America’s chief negotiator with Iran promised in a broadcast intended for Iranians that she will be a “fair, balanced” participant in talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, despite her comment this month that “deception is part of the DNA” among Iranians.

Facing criticism from hard-line news media and some lawmakers in Iran, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday in an interview with Voice of America’s Persian Service that her comments reflected American distrust of the Iranian government that has built up since the breach in relations after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But she insisted that she and others in the administration respect Iranians and believe the talks offer a path for both sides to improve mutual understanding.

Asked what she meant by the statement, Sherman said, “I think it referred specifically to what our history of mistrust has been…. I think these nuclear negotiations will help us get over that mistrust.

Are you kidding…? So why on Earth is Albright and his ISIS pushing this absolute bovine manure…?

Iran may be one month from nuclear bomb

‘Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,’ says new assessment by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security.

Iran could build a nuclear bomb within as little as a month, a new report issued by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security says.

According to the assessment, Iran’s weapons-grade uranium production capabilities are developed to a degree that its ‘breakout time’ – the time needed to convert enough uranium to weapon-grade so as to build a bomb – stands at between one and 1.6 months – and is shortening further.

“Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,” states the report, adding that lengthening the breakout times should be a central concern of the current negotiations.

Such a goal could be achieved in a number of ways, the report says – all of which would involve a significant reduction in the number of centrifuges active at the Natanz and Fordo facilities.

And if that wasn’t enough scaremongering about Iran…

U.S. charges man with seeking to buy missiles for Iran

U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges on Friday against a man they said had tried to acquire surface-to-air missiles that he planned to smuggle into Iran in a threat to U.S. national security.

Reza Olangian, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, was charged with four counts, including trying to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and two conspiracy counts.

The defendant was arrested at an airport in Tallinn, Estonia, on October 10, 2012, and extradited to the United States on March 26, 2013, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York, who announced the charges.

And, finally, if you had any lingering doubts on AIPAC’s sway…

Senate Dems May Spurn Obama’s Call for Delay, Push Iran Sanctions

AIPAC Heavily Lobbying Congress to Continue Sanctions

…That’s not easy, as Congress imposes new sanctions on Iran every few weeks as a matter of course, and with Israel opposed to the negotiations AIPAC has been heavily lobbying Congress not to allow any delays, and to nip the diplomacy in the bud for Israel’s sake.

There are plenty of hawks who don’t need much convincing in Congress, and the Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are scheduled to push those sanctions next week. Whether they will spurn Obama’s call for time remains to be seen, but in a lobbying battle between the White House and AIPAC, it’s hard to imagine that the Israel lobby doesn’t have the edge.

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bibi’s Bullsh*t, Iranian Intentions, and a Syrian Solution?

8:40 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

My apologies for being subsumed with my lln duties, lately!

Much has transpired since my last Mashup! Contrary to popular belief, the Iranian Sanctions are not the cause célèbre for Iran’s determined détente efforts!

Let’s reflect back a few months ago…

U.S. commander says Iran sanctions not working

Severe sanctions against Iran are not working, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East says.

Gen. James Mattis of Central Command made the statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

‘In your professional opinion, are the current diplomatic and economic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability — are they working’ Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, asked.

‘No, sir,’ Mattis replied.

So what we see is Netanyahu urges Obama to keep Iran sanctions in place… And our Veep totally agreeing…

Biden says Iran sanctions are most effective in history, that deeper sanctions are an option

Vice President Joe Biden says U.S.-led sanctions against Iran have been the most effective sanctions regime ever.

Biden says Iran has a choice. He says Iran can suffer deepening economic sanctions or negotiate its way back into the global community and economy.

He says the U.S. doesn’t know whether Iran is willing to do what’s necessary to resolve concerns about its nuclear program.

Because, you know Iran hasn’t shown any desire to remedy their plight, right…?

What is Kerry actually negotiating with Iran?

…While there is a lot of optimism, there’s room for quite a bit of pessimism too though just based on reading tea-leaves. For example, Kerry’s reply to the question below is not very comforting:

‘Asked what steps Iran could take to prove its seriousness, Kerry replied: “They could immediately open for inspection the Fordo facility, they could immediately sign the protocol of the international community regarding inspections, they could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level.”‘

Except that Fordo has been open to inspections for years, since the Iranians (and not US intelligence agencies, as the NY Times claims) first disclosed the location of the site to the IAEA. In fact Mohammad ElBaradei himself visited Fordo, and famously said it was nothing more than a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about. You could not possibly be even slightly aware of the Iranian nuclear issue, without knowing the Fordo is already open to inspections.

Secondly, Iran has signed the Additional Protocol already, and offered to ratify it if its rights are also recognized, though Iran is absolutely under no legal obligation whatsoever to sign the AP, just as neither Egypt nor Argentina nor Brazil nor lots of other countries have signed.

Third, Iran has consistently stated that it is willing to limit enrichment to 3.5%. In fact Iran was forced to enrich to 20% due to US sanctions that prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for a medical reactor (which the US gave Iran in the first place) that uses fuel rods made with 20% enriched uranium. So it was the US policies in the first place that caused Iran to increase its enrichment levels, even though the reactor in question posed no credible nuclear weapons proliferation threat and so the US sanctions on the sale of fuel for that reactor did not actually promote or protect any legitimate non-proliferation goals. The media have been very insistent on ignoring this fact even though they will gladly engage in all sorts of totally biased speculation about ‘how close to a bomb’ Iran’s 20% enrichment gets it, and other reporters have completely gone overboard and have made up their own terminology by referring to this as Iran’s stockpile of ‘medium enriched’ uranium too, though no such term appears in the IAEA Glossary. That’s how the media not only follow the dominant narrative promoted by the govt but further embellish it before they pass it on.

To be sure, both Glennzilla and Cyrus Safdari, pointed out the obvious ‘Sudden’ strawman argument…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Déjà vu vingt-deux: Are Iranian Magnets The New Aluminum Tubes?

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“You are pointing the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we will shoot. But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these threats. Talk is meaningful if it is based on goodwill, equal standing and when both sides do not want to apply tricks. Talk as a tactic, a gesture of superpower, is only a deceptive move.” -Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

Iran’s Insistence That the U.S. Not “Point a Gun” at it is a Diplomatic Opening Not a Rejection…

Clearly such goodwill is in short supply between the United States and Iran…! I mean really, folks…? West to Tell Iran: Close Fordow, We’ll Ease the Sanctions…

Now, as FAIR’s Peter Hart asked today…

Are Iranian Magnets the New Aluminum Tubes?

…In the run up to the Iraq War, the New York Times (9/8/02) famously reported on an Iraqi scheme to procure special aluminum tubes that could only have one purpose: Iraq’s secret nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein was attempting to “buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes,” and the “diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program.” The claims were false–Iraq, as it turned out, had no nuclear program–but still hugely influential.

Yesterday, on the front page of the Washington Post (2/14/13), reporter Joby Warrick has the scoop on what Iran is evidently up to:

Iran recently sought to acquire tens of thousands of highly specialized magnets used in centrifuge machines, according to experts and diplomats, a sign that the country may be planning a major expansion of its nuclear program that could shorten the path to an atomic weapons capability.

Purchase orders obtained by nuclear researchers show an attempt by Iranian agents to buy 100,000 of the ring-shaped magnets–which are banned from export to Iran under U.N. resolutions–from China about a year ago, those familiar with the effort said.

Warrick explains that this “has fueled Western concerns that Iran is planning a major expansion in its nuclear capacity that would allow it to make atomic weapons quickly if it chooses to do so.” That point was underscored by an anonymous source–identified as “a European diplomat with access to sensitive intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

Now to be fair, Nima Shirazi, has been leading the charge for years…Iraq, Iran, Redlines and Headlines…

But, I digress… Peter Hart goes on to cite one of my all-time fave bloggers, b at MOA, where he’s screaming… Iran Buys Magnets That DO NOT FIT Its Centrifuges… Fancy that, eh…?

Honestly folks, wtf…?

Hyping Iran Nukes, Again

The neocon-flagship Washington Post and its investigative reporter Joby Warrick are at it again, hyping an account about Iran’s nuclear program pushed by discredited nuclear expert David Albright, who famously gave cover for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq a decade ago.

The latest Albright/Warrick alarm, which leads Thursday’s Washington Post, cites Iran’s alleged effort to place an Internet order for 100,000 ring-shaped magnets that would work in some of the country’s older centrifuges.

You have to read to the end of the long story to hear a less strident voice, saying that Iran had previously informed inspectors for the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency that it planned to build more of its old and clunkier centrifuges, which use this sort of magnet, and that the enrichment was for civilian energy, not a nuclear bomb…

And the WaPo even doubled down today, with their warmongering, in an ‘interview’ with the UN’s Ban Ki Moon… Iran could use U.N. talks as cover to build bomb, Ban Ki-moon says… Which is being echoed across the Pond…

Iran is taking same path to nuclear weapons as North Korea, says Ban Ki-Moon

Iran is using the same methods as North Korea to develop its nuclear capabilities, requiring “firm, decisive and effective” action by the Security Council, the United Nations secretary general has warned…

Huh…?

Now, as Rachel Maddow is set to unveil her new blockbuster expose on the Iraqi fiasco, ask yourself if we’ve learned anything…?

*gah*