You are browsing the archive for Richard Silverstein.

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hezbollah, The I/P Peace Charade, and Syria

5:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Der Spiegel

EU Terror List: Hezbollah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to put the military wing of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. But sanctions will have little impact on the “Party of God,” which has long since become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. {…}

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to put this armed wing of Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. The move marks a striking about-face in European policy regarding the Shiite militants. Previously, European leaders had argued that Lebanon, already in a vulnerable state, would be further destabilized if the influential group were declared outcasts.

Sanctions Won’t Be Felt

But Britain, the Netherlands and France have pushed just such a measure through, arguing that by interfering in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah is now threatening the fragile peace inside Lebanon as well. European restraint on the matter no longer makes sense, they argue. {…}

Civil and Military Division Unclear

The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hezbollah’s civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU’s measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic, serving only to appease the United States, which declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995 after two devastating attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. Since then, the US has been pressuring its allies to follow suit…

Now, in looking at the latest I/P Peace Farce being peddled by SoS Kerry, as I’ve written before: Talk is Cheap and The Freeze Farce Is Over, I’d adopted the same ‘wait and see’ attitude as longtime I/P blogger, Richard Silverstein…

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talk Charade

I’ve held off writing about John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy attempting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because I thought there was “no there, there” and figured it might collapse of its own weight. But developments in the past 24 hours indicate that while this is still likely, all parties have already been guilty of bad judgments which should be pointed out. {…}

They’ll supposedly be getting 100 freed Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for decades. The Israel Broadcasting Authority says the prisoner release would happen in four stages and the first one would only happen during the second month of negotiations. A lot can happen in that time. And I’d say a guarantee of this happening is pretty thin. Furhter, the Palestinians seem willing to overlook that Israel, after past prisoner exchanges, promptly rearrested whoever it still wants behind bars.

Another issue the Palestinians would apparently give up is their efforts to win international recognition in bodies like the United Nations. That’s giving up a whole lot in return for very little. {…}

But today’s worst outrage, which sent me into a paroxysm of righteous indignation, was the report by Laura Rozen that John Kerry may plan to appoint Martin Indyk his “peace envoy.” You’ll recall that the estimable George Mitchell had that role towards the beginning of Obama’s first term. But Mitchell failed because Obama wasn’t willing to use the power of his office to pressure the Israelis to deal. Despite such a failure, at least one might say that Mitchell was truly an honest broker. He had no strong affiliation with either side nor any hostility against either side.

Indyk is an entirely different story: there seems to be a notion among U.S. presidents that to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace they need a former Aipac analyst on their team. That’s how they got Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and a number of other similar figures. They both are or were affiliated with WINEP, Aipac’s foreign policy think tank. Neither Ross nor Indyk has any special affinity or interest in the Palestinians, except as a means to an end (a peace deal that responds to and guarantees Israeli interests). The latter was also U.S. ambassador to Israel under Pres. Clinton. The NY Times calls the Brookings think-tanker “a seasoned hand,” which as usual for the Times is beside the point and misses the key reasons for his appointment and his political affiliations. {…}

This iteration of the peace process is dead on arrival. The sooner John Kerry realizes this the less political face he will lose. What is being proposed shows that Obama has no real interest in settling the conflict. He wants to be seen to be doing something. And what he’s seen to be doing he hopes will last for the next three years so he can kick the can down the road for the next guy. Or, as Mitt Romney so inimitably put it: “to kick the football down the field.”

Once again, Bibi pushed the Pollard canard…

‘PM asked US to free Pollard as incentive for entering peace talks’

Netanyahu reportedly wanted to present ministers with symbolic victory to ease opposition to restarting peace talks

The US reportedly refused an Israeli request to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners, ahead of new peace talks with the Palestinians…

…The Cabinet, on Sunday, will vote on the release of Palestinian prisoners ahead of a scheduled first round of talks between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington.

Israeli officials have indicated the prisoners will be freed in phases, beginning at 4-6 weeks into the negotiations, and continuing at 6-8 week intervals, depending on the progress of the talks. Under Israeli law, the prisoners’ names will be published 48 hours before their release to allow families of their victims to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Israel has reportedly refused to release an additional 21 pre-Oslo prisoners, either because they are Israeli citizens or for other security reasons.

Kerry announced the resumption of peace talks, after a hiatus of almost three years, on Friday. “We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming negotiations,” he said.

While Israeli leaders had confirmed the talks would be taking place and have even boasted that Israel had not been required to cave in to Palestinian preconditions to do so, Palestinian officials said that the path to resumed negotiations had not yet been cleared, and that the imminent meetings in Washington were aimed only at seeking to finalize the terms for the new negotiations.

Seriously, as I’ve noted before… Bibi: There’s No Solution to The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is nothing but another stalling tactic as Israel continues to expand the Settlements and grow richer off the fruits of the Occupied Territories…!

Moving on to Syria…

U.S. plan to arm Syria rebels gains support in Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to provide vetted Syrian rebels with weapons and strategic military aid has gained traction in Congress, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday…

Lawmakers have been split on the proposal, but on Monday House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said a “consensus” had been reached among the panel’s members to accept Obama’s plan despite “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner also weighed in in favor of the committee’s approach, saying “their effort to help the right set of rebels in Syria is in our nation’s best interest.”

While not legally required, intelligence committee approval of U.S. military assistance has traditionally been key to administrations moving ahead with such aid.

Like the House panel, the Senate Intelligence Committee has held several closed-door debates in recent weeks on the merits of increased military aid to rebels in Syria, where a conflict now in its 28th month has killed some 100,000 people.

Senate intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein has refused to divulge what progress if any has been made in committee on backing Obama’s push.

But on Tuesday Senator Richard Burr, who sits on the panel and who supports arming the rebels, strongly suggested a logjam had been broken.

“The White House has all the authority they need right now,” the Republican told AFP…

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to comment on any Syria debates in Congress, “especially ones that are behind closed doors,” nor would he catalogue the assistance that is being provided.

But “the president, as he made clear not long ago, is committed to ramping up that assistance as necessary, because of the circumstances that we find and because of the need for the opposition to further strengthen and unify,” Carney said…

In summing up, the intrepid Pepe Escobar penned another must-read… War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’: Cast Lead 2

3:34 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Reuters is reporting…

Israel hammers Hamas in Gaza offensive

* Israel says major operation may last days

…Israel launched a major offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday, killing the military commander of Hamas in an air strike and threatening an invasion of the enclave that the Islamist group vowed would “open the gates of hell”.

The onslaught shattered hopes that a truce mediated on Tuesday by Egypt could pull the two sides back from the brink of war after five days of escalating Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli strikes at militant targets.

Operation “Pillar of Defence” began with a surgical strike on a car carrying the commander of the military wing of Hamas, the Iranian-armed Islamist movement which controls Gaza and dominates a score of smaller armed groups.

Within minutes of the death of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, big explosions shook Gaza as the Israeli air force struck at selected targets just before sundown, blasting plumes of smoke and debris high above the crowded city.

Panicking civilians ran for cover and the death toll mounted quickly. Ten people including three children were killed, the health ministry said, and about 40 were wounded. Also among the dead were an 11-month-old baby and a woman pregnant with twins.

Army tanks shelled border areas of Gaza in south and the Israeli navy shelled a Hamas security position from the sea… {…}

OBAMA BRIEFED

Israeli President Shimon Peres briefed U.S. President Barack Obama on the operation, Peres’s office said. He told Obama that Jaabari was a “mass-murderer” and his killing was Israel’s response to Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.

“Israel is not interested in stoking the flames, but for the past five days there has been constant missile fire at Israel and mothers and children cannot sleep quietly at night,” said Peres, who visited the border town of Sderot earlier…

You can cut the rank hypocrisy of Peres’ words with a butter knife…!

As Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein posits…

…It is, of course, no accident that Israeli elections will be held in two months. Israeli prime ministers routinely use wars to bolster their popularity. Menachem Begin attacked the Osirak reactor shortly before elections, which he subsequently won. Aluf Benn offers (Hebrew) a long list of such political opportunism including Operation Grapes of Wrath (1996) and Operation Cast Lead just before the 2009 elections. Bibi, being a master of political tactics (but not strategy, since he has none) wanted to leave no stone unturned in his march to victory in January.

As happened numerous times in the past, including after the Eilat terror attack, when Israel lied in ascribing blame for the attack on Gaza and murdered 30 in revenge strikes, terror in Gaza is not the issue. Gaza is a useful tool or canvas on which Israeli generals and politicians embellish their careers. It’s the utmost in cynicism, but alas all too common in the debased society Israel has become… {…}

It must be said clearly, Jabari’s assassination is not an act of defense or even a response to past terror attacks against it. It is a blatant act of provocation and an act of terror in itself. It is akin to the 2003 assassination of Saleh Shehadeh and will, in the end, cause the deaths of more Israelis and Gazans than that ghastly massacre. These are war crimes and must eventually be held accountable as such.

Israel knows that by murdering Jabari they’ve not dented Hamas’ military capability. Another Jabari will arise who will out-Jabari Jabari just as Nasrallah outdid Abbas Musawi, who Israel assassinated. Bibi needs Hamas. He needs an eternal enemy. It’s what makes him strong. He and the Likud are the political equivalent of Dracula. Just as Jefferson said the Tree of Liberty needed to be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants, the ultranationalists cynically need to drink the blood of dead Palestinians (or Iranians or Lebanese) in order to guarantee their political reign. This is ghoulish. It is insane. Israeli policy is insane.

Not satisfied with pursuing war as a political objective to dominate the Palestinians, the IDF has invoked the Torah in calling this operation Pillar of Cloud (as in “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way”). No, I’m sorry. God doesn’t walk with killers. My God doesn’t want blood, either Jewish or Palestinian. My God is not an anti-jihadi. He doesn’t hate Muslims or Arabs. Bibi, do not debase my holy texts. Do not exploit them in your attempt to provoke religious wars. I’d prefer calling this new campaign Pillar of White Phosphorus, myself

Amen, Richard…!

Now, +972 Mag’s Dimi Reider, differs from Richard, in that Ehud Barak is pushing the illegal invasion…

Politicians line up behind Israeli assault on Gaza

…My own hunch, and that of several Israeli observers, is that Barak is the prime mover behind this recent escalation. His has been a consistent voice for stronger Israeli military action in previous rounds of escalation in Gaza, and he stands more to gain from a large-scale military operation. Netanyahu is winning the elections with one hand tied behind his back; Barak and his splinter Independence Party, by contrast, have barely been scratching the electoral barrier. Appearing as a decisive, wily and sophisticated military mind next to a wallowing Netanyahu can only do Barak that much good, and Israeli Twitterati have already replaced “Pillar of Defense” the cringe-inducing, Freud-evoking codename for the operation with “Independence War.”

Be that as it may, Netanyahu has signed up for this offensive and it now bears his name as surely as Cast Lead bears those of Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. In the short term, his gamble might well conclude without political damage (the damage to the lives of Israeli and Gazan residents is clearly of comparatively little consequence to either him or his defense minister, otherwise the deescalation would have been allowed to take its course, as it has throughout Netanyahu’s tenure). In the optimal scenario, Hamas will not escalate the conflagration further, and will not fire the long-range missiles in its arsenal to Tel Aviv and its suburbs, both because an Israeli strike took out much of said arsenal immediately after Jabari was slain, and because this would blow the violence dials sky-high and require an Israeli response at least as forceful as the 2008-2009 Cast Lead operation. After a few exchanges, Egyptians will oblige once again with a ceasefire and Netanyahu and Barak will have brought their electoral chances up a notch…

Now, just when you thought the rank hypocrisy couldn’t get any ranker…

US welcomes reelection to Human Rights Council

Hillary Clinton pledges US support to combat panel’s anti-Israel activity; UN ambassador says HRC delivered “real results.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed America’s reelection to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday and pledged that the country would continue to combat the panel’s anti-Israel activity.

“Much hard work remains to be done,” Clinton said in a statement, “especially ending the council’s disproportionate and biased focus on Israel.”

The US has come under criticism from some in the Jewish community for participating in a group that routinely censures Israel while ignoring many of the most pressing human rights problems in the world, some being committed by countries with representatives on the council.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s reelection, saying that the Human Rights Council “has delivered real results” since the US first joined it in 2010 after running for a seat on it a year before. She cited council action on Syria as a positive example of its work.

However, she also criticized the council’s “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel.” Advocates of America’s participation, however, say the situation would be worse without a US presence, and that the US has been behind important initiatives challenging Iran’s human rights record and other initiatives

God help us all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Bibi as Wile E. Coyote and Obama at the UN

6:34 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Richard Silverstein wrote today about Bibi’s buffoonery at the UN…

Bibi as Wile E. Coyote

You didn’t think you were gonna get away without seeing Bibi Netanyahu’s Wile E. Coyote moment during his UN speech today, did you? Look at the picture, Bibi’s even glaring a bit like the coyote after he’s been outsmarted by his cartoon nemesis. Someone (Bibi himself?) in the day and age of Powerpoint presentations, thought of the great idea of sending their boss up to the lectern of the world’s most respected international body with a sharpie and a cartoon version of a nuclear bomb. I suppose they thought the simplicity of the gesture might impress. Instead it’s backfired as any simpleton could’ve told them it would.

Further, Bibi made a critical error in drawing his “red line” at the 90% enrichment level. He meant to draw it BELOW that line since presumably Israel would want to attack Iran BEFORE it achieved weapons grade uranium fuel. If Israel attacked Iran AFTER it secured enough fuel to make a bomb it would defeat the purpose, no?

Even the Huffpoo mocked Bibi… Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Draws Cartoon Bomb At UN General Assembly To Illustrate Iran Nuclear Threat

Now, If it Quacks like a Duck

Yesterday, Obama delivered his remarks to the UN…

You can read the text of his speech here or watch the full half hour speech here…!

Here’s the UN’s official Press Release about Oily Bomber’s appearance at the 67th General Assembly…

At UN debate, US President urges dealing honestly with tensions between Arabs and West

Warning that the world faces “a choice between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes we hold in common,” United States President Barack Obama said today the deadly violence sparked by an anti-Islam video is an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded.

“The events of the last two weeks speak to the need for all of us to address honestly the tensions between the West and an Arab World moving to democracy,” he told scores of heads of State and Government attending the 67th General Assembly’s General Debate on its opening day, calling on world leaders to espouse the peaceful settlement of disputes.

However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders, in all countries, to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.

Cities in North Africa and the Middle East recently experienced violent protests in response to an anti-Islamic video produced in the state of California by a US citizen. In the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the US ambassador to the country, Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomats were killed, and others injured or killed, when suspected Libyan religious extremists stormed the US Consulate there.

The film has drawn widespread condemnation around the world, including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“On this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence,” President Obama said, calling the video “crude and disgusting,” but explaining how such hateful comment is allowed by the freedom of speech clause in the US constitution.

“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan,” he added, referring to the attacks that killed Ambassador Stevens and caused deaths elsewhere.

“Burning an American flag will do nothing to educate a child. Smashing apart a restaurant will not fill an empty stomach. Attacking an Embassy won’t create a single job,” he noted.

President Obama said the US has supported the forces of change that have toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and he called for an end to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where more than 18,000 people have been killed in an uprising against his rule over the past 18 months.

“However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders, in all countries, to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism,” he declared, stressing that the recent violence or hateful speech by some individuals does not represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims any more than the views of the video producers behind the anti-Islam film represent those of Americans.

“It is time to marginalize those who, even when not resorting to violence, use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics,” the US President said. “For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes excuses, for those who resort to violence.”

President Obama pledged that the US will never retreat from the world and will bring to justice those who harm its citizens and friends, while standing with its allies and partnering with countries to deepen ties of trade and investment, science and technology, energy and development.

“It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future, or the prisons of the past,” he declared.

“The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted ‘Muslims, Christians, we are one.’ The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons…

“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims.”

Turning to specific crises, President Obama said the future for Israelis and Palestinians must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace and thrive on conflict, and those who reject Israel’s right to exist, but to those who pursue the hard but clear goal of a secure, Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.

On Iran, he said the US wants to resolve nuclear issue through diplomacy and believes there is still time and space to do so.

“But that time is not unlimited,” he warned. “We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.

“It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unravelling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Scores of the world’s heads of State and government and other high-level officials are expected to present their views and comment on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.

The US President also met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today. In their meeting, the two men discussed the importance of combating hate speech and incitement to violence while protecting free speech, and agreed on the importance of the UN’s work to promote tolerance.

Other topics they discussed included the situation in Syria and its impact on the region, the needs of the Palestinian people and the growing challenges in West Africa’s Sahel region, in addition to the global challenges on food and nutrition, women’s and children’s health, and education, and the need for UN reform.

I thought Steve Hynd best summed it with his quip; “do as I say, not as I do, or I’ll bomb you”

…Much of it is an interesting exhortation to Muslims across the globe who are currently involved in protesting a certain movie trailer to put away violence as a tactic. The bulk of the rest is the usual copperplate about America loving democracy so much that it sends its citizens to impose freedom at gunpoint in other countries, and promising to always be there to bomb dictators (and any male of military age who happens to be nearby and can therefore be labelled a “militant” once he is too dead to protest that label). Obama reels of US aide for the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya but the word “Bahrain” does not pass his lips, nor does any indication that the regime being propped up in Yemen is just as oppressive as any Islamist current seeking to replace it. iraq and Afghanistan are places the US is leaving – not places the US invaded, nosir. You won’t find a reference to the chain of sub-Saharan nations where the US is currently offering “military assistance” (training, special forces, arms, drone strikes) to often corrupt regimes either.

And then there’s Iran. {…}

Obama and his speechwriters must know that his UN listeners are spotting all the things unsaid and writing their own subtexts in their heads. They know there’s a healthy helping of hypocrisy, of “do as I say, not as I do, or I’ll bomb you” going on. Yet this is the stageshow that must be gone through every time a US President speaks at the UN. While Obama’s talking about changes in the way people resolve their problems internationally, perhaps he’d do well to contemplate the beam in his own nation’s eye.

Meanwhile, a lot of noteworthy speeches have been given from the UN Podium in the past several days…

From Egyptian President Morsi’s declaration… ‘Israel refusal to join NPT, inexcusable’…

Continuing with some newly minted Mossad/CIA Tools MENA leaders… Libya’s new leader apologizes at U.N. for Gaddafi crimes…

And, Speaking of tools, Abu Mazen… ‘Pares His Statehood Aspirations at UN’…

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for real humanitarian assistance and saner minds to prevail…

From General Assembly podium, Lebanon calls for international help for Syrian refugees

… “The security consequences of the Syrian crisis threaten peace and stability in the Middle East and specifically in Lebanon,” Prime Minister Mikati said. “The international community must exert more efforts in order to assure political consensus among Syrian parties to end violence that is claiming hundreds of innocent lives each day.”

The ongoing violence in neighbouring Syria has fuelled sectarian tensions across Lebanon and raised concerns that the country could plunge back into the internecine violence it endured during its 15 year civil war, which ended in 1990.

In his statement to the Assembly, the Lebanese leader urged the United Nations to further the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland and achieve an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. He also denounced Israel for violations of the accord that ended its month-long war with Hizbollah in 2006, calling on it to end its continued occupation of land in southern Lebanon.

“Our region is still striving to cope with the dramatic consequences that followed the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and its on-going occupation of Arab territories and its continued violations of International Law and United Nations resolutions,” Prime Minister Mikati said.

He added, “Peace along with freedom and justice are the pillars for attaining both security and stability and will pave the way towards the eradication of oppression, extremism, and terrorism in our world. Stability cannot occur without a Palestinian spring through the full implementation of the Palestinians right to self-determination on their land.”

In summing up some of the other excellent debates at the UN, wendydavis, wrote a great post… Julian Assange to UN: “End Obama’s Regime of Secrecy”…

Along with Kevin’s excellent reporting… Assange Addresses UN Members, Lambasts Obama’s UN Address for Rewriting History…

I also totally agree with The CallUp’s… After The Iraq Debacle, It Would Be Negligent For Americans Not To Watch Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech, particularly since it was Ahmadinejad’s last appearance at the UN…!

Meanwhile, I do pity all those New Yorkers… Get Your Gridlock On: It’s UN General Assembly Time…

Stay tuned…

by CTuttle

Bibi’s ‘War Plan’ is ‘Leaked’…

6:37 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The ever intrepid Richard Silverstein published this blockbuster today…

In the past few days, I received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document was passed to me by a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer. My source, in fact, wrote to me that normally he would not leak this sort of document, but:

“These are not normal times. I’m afraid Bibi and Barak are dead serious.”

The reason they leaked it is to expose the arguments and plans advanced by the Bibi-Barak two-headed warrior. Neither the IDF leaker, my source, nor virtually any senior military or intelligence officer wants this war. While whoever wrote this briefing paper had use of IDF and intelligence data, I don’t believe the IDF wrote it. It feels more likely it came from the shop of national security advisor Yaakov Amridor, a former general, settler true believer and Bibi confidant. It could also have been produced by Defense Minister Barak, another pro-war booster. {…}

This is Shock and Awe, Israel-style. It is Bibi’s effort to persuade high-level Israeli officials that Israel can prosecute a pure technology war that involves relatively few human beings (Israeli, that is) who may be put in harm’s way, and will certainly cost few lives of IDF personnel.

Bibi’s sleight of hand here involves no mention whatsoever of an Iranian counter-attack against Israel. The presumption must be that the bells and whistles of all those marvelous new weapons systems will decapitate Iran’s war-making ability and render it paralyzed. The likelihood of this actually happening is nearly nil.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned Millennium Challenge, once, twice, or even, thrice before…! So, let’s again revisit the most expensive military exercise…

…The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15(2002) and cost $250 million, involved both live exercises and computer simulations. MC02 was meant to be a test of future military “transformation”—a transition toward new technologies that enable network-centric warfare and provide more powerful weaponry and tactics. The simulated combatants were the United States, referred to as “Blue”, and an unknown adversary in the Middle East, “Red”. {…}

Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lt. General Paul K. Van Riper, used old methods to evade Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance network. Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops and World War II light signals to launch airplanes without radio communications.

Red received an ultimatum from Blue, essentially a surrender document, demanding a response within 24 hours. Thus warned of Blue’s approach, Red used a fleet of small boats to determine the position of Blue’s fleet by the second day of the exercise. In a preemptive strike, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles that overwhelmed the Blue forces’ electronic sensors and destroyed sixteen warships. This included one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five of six amphibious ships. An equivalent success in a real conflict would have resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 service personnel. Soon after the cruise missile offensive, another significant portion of Blue’s navy was “sunk” by an armada of small Red boats, which carried out both conventional and suicide attacks that capitalized on Blue’s inability to detect them as well as expected.[1]

At this point, the exercise was suspended, Blue’s ships were “re-floated”, and the rules of engagement were changed…

Aftermath

Due to his criticism regarding the scripted nature of the new exercise, Van Riper resigned his position in the midst of the war game. Van Riper later expressed concern that the war game’s purpose had shifted to reinforce existing doctrine and notions of infallibility within the U.S. military rather than serve as a learning experience.

Van Riper also stated that the war game was rigged so that it appeared to validate the modern, joint-service war-fighting concepts it was supposed to be testing.[4]

Here’s the Beeb’s attempt to smear the messenger… Leaked Israel memo: propaganda or Iran war plan?

Richard Silverstein – the American blogger who says he has been given the text of a memo outlining Israel’s plans for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities – is clear about what he thinks it is.

He says it came from a senior Israeli politician – a former minister – and he describes it as a “sales pitch”, used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak to try to win round sceptical members of Israel’s divided inner security cabinet.

The text supplied to the BBC is just that – text. {…}

Paralyse the regime

The document itself is striking in both the scale and scope of the military operation that it proposes.

It also employs a range of technologies, many of which we have known that the Israelis are developing, but this document suggests that they are battle-ready and fully operational.

The leaked text suggests that an Israeli operation would begin with a massive cyber attack against Iran’s infrastructure, to “paralyse the regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders”.

Ballistic missiles would be fired at Iranian nuclear targets, albeit with conventional non-nuclear warheads. Cruise missiles would be fired from Israeli submarines in the Gulf.

‘Shock and Awe’ on some of that nano-level, genetically-altered, Ziocaine, Babee…!

And, to be sure ya’ll didn’t miss the memo… Israel PM: Possible War with Iran Could Last One Month…! Well, I do suppose Bibi was generous when he factored in an additional week from the 3 week pogram that the Neo/Ziocons had custom designed for Irak…!

In summation, I give ya today’s woeful performance from the bowels of Foggy Bottom

QUESTION: With the country being destroyed fast and furious in a way or rapidly, during your deliberations with other countries, would it be a good idea, let’s say, to have something akin to the Marshall Plan for the day after, because everybody talks about the day after? Is that something that you can – or you discussed or you have discussed with the rich oil countries in the Gulf?

MS. NULAND: Well, in fact, we are, as an international community, already beginning to look at some of these day-after issues, as the Secretary said when she was in Istanbul. And one of the issues is this question of economic support when a democratic government gets back up on its feet. In fact, we have a preliminary conference beginning tomorrow in Berlin on the potential economic needs of a democratic Syria. Fred Hof will represent us at that conference, and we anticipate that that will lay the groundwork for further work in September.

Syria is not Iraq. It doesn’t have that great, vast natural wealth. And depending on how long this goes on, we are already seeing a lot of the economic underpinnings of Syria’s prosperity at risk from this fighting. So there’s going to have to be a serious rebuilding job that will be Syrian-led obviously, but the international community has to be ready to support, so we’re beginning to think about those things. {…}

QUESTION: So I was intrigued by your statement of fact a few minutes ago where you said Syria is not Iraq; it doesn’t have the great natural wealth that Iraq does. I presume you’re talking about oil, yeah?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, it has some natural wealth, but it’s not swimming in an ability to –

QUESTION: Would you say that that’s one of the reasons why you’re not doing anything to intervene, because Syria doesn’t have the amount of oil that either Iraq or Libya had?

MS. NULAND: There are no connections between these two things. This is –

QUESTION: So anyone that would –

MS. NULAND: Our –

QUESTION: You yourself brought up the distinction. I just want to make sure that that’s not – that oil is not the reason that you’re not doing anything militarily to help the Syrian people .

MS. NULAND: My point with regard to Iraq was that Syria is a country that in the rebuilding phase is likely to want, need, and request significant international economic support because it doesn’t have the same kind of natural benefits that some of these other –

QUESTION: So all right. From your experience, Iraq didn’t need any help rebuilding?

MS. NULAND: No, of course they did. But they didn’t need – they mostly took loans, they mostly took technical support. They didn’t take straight-out assistance in the same way. So –

QUESTION: So you’re not intending to suggest that going in, militarily intervening in a country with oil is in the U.S. interest, but not intervening in a country that doesn’t have oil isn’t in U.S. interests? That’s not what you mean?

MS. NULAND: There is no connection between those two things. Our decisions about how to support the opposition are based on the litmus test that the Secretary has put out very clearly in Istanbul and which we’ve been saying all along. We want to ensure that what we do to support the opposition actually hastens the day rather than increasing the suffering.

God Help Us All…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Bibi: Iran Threat Dwarfs All Others

3:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

On Sunday, the Iran rhetoric continued to be ramped up by Bibi and Barak, from the AP… Israeli premier: Iran threat dwarfs all others

As Reuters reported it… Iran steps up nuclear warhead work, Israel media report.

Laura Rozen hints at where Barak possibly received his ‘intel’ from…

US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is from 2010, experts say

However, “carrying on scattered research activities does not amount to a full-fledged restart of an integrated weapons program,” Greg Thielmann, a former US intelligence analyst and senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, wrote in an ACA Iran Nuclear Threat Assessment brief (.pdf).

“As open source reporting indicates, the last NIE confirmed the 2007 finding that 1. the structured weaponization work stopped in 2003 (although some relevant activities continued, and 2. Khamenei had not yet made the final political decision to go for a bomb,” a former U.S. official told Al-Monitor Friday.

“We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government,” a National Security Council spokesman told Reuters’ Mark Hosenball Thursday. “We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.

As many are noting, it is primarily Bibi and Barak pushing the Iran rhetoric…

Olmert: Netanyahu ‘Irresponsible’ on Iran

Former prime minister: “No reason to get uptight” over Iran; blames government for causing panic…

“There is no reason to get uptight,” he said in a panel at the Ono Academic College, “certainly not in the immediate range. Iran has still not drawn near to that threshold that would force us to reassess the situation. I think it is not right and not responsible to act in a way that blatantly ignores the interests of additional bodies, among them those of the greatest friend that Israel has.”

Olmert was referring, of course to the United States, which opposes an Israeli strike.

He blamed senior members of the government and Knesset of “blabbing” too much about a planned strike and named Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as people causing “fear and discomfort” in the Israeli populace by talking too much.

Ironically, Bibi and Barak are paying the price for their war-mongering…

Majority of Israelis oppose strike on Iran

46% say that Israel should not attack Tehran’s nuclear plants; support for prime minister drops to 34% from 46% three months ago…

The survey results were published amid heightened debate among senior policy officials about the necessity of a military strike to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have made increasingly vociferous statements about the urgent imperative to stop Iran.

The poll also showed that Israeli support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has waned in the past three months. According to the poll, only 34% expressed satisfaction with the prime minister, as opposed to 58% who said that they are dissatisfied. The remaining 8% responded that they did not know. A similar survey conducted in May found that 46% were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance.

The same survey found Israelis prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama as the next US president, by 34% to 31%…

Once again, the intrepid, Richard Silverstein, uncovers some recent disturbing machinations by Bibi and Barak…

Ehud Barak: Most Dangerous Man in Middle East

…All of this means that it’s very likely that Barak is trying to establish a narrative as a prelude to an Israeli attack. What he’s doing in the media is the equivalent to the “softening up” that military forces do before they launch their main assault on enemy positions. Barak is laying the groundwork for an attack, making his best sales pitch to the Israeli public and the rest of the world. He’s hoping that when the signal comes and the attack begins, all this work will result in a populace that willingly rallies to the cause, or at least acquiesces in the decisions made by the political leadership.

All of this makes Ehud Barak one of the most dangerous men in the Middle East right about now. He doesn’t care how he does it, whether he has to lie or cheat. He wants a war and by God he’s going to get one.

The only other individual who rivals him in this regard is Bibi Netanyahu. Ynet reports today that the prime minister has demanded changes in the coalition agreement that would grant him unprecedented powers in the course of a war against Iran. He would be able to overrule the opposition of reluctant ministers, delay decisions he disagrees with even though passed by a cabinet majority, and schedule additional deliberations on such matters until his he gets his way.

I find it interesting that the JPost in an editorial, today, openly challenged Bibi and Barak…

Striking Iran

… In the meantime, the cabinet has expanded the prime minister’s powers to push through important ministerial decisions.

The Prime Minister’s Office said this would improve governance, but opposition leaders described the move as undemocratic, saying that critical decisions – such as ordering a strike on Iran – should be taken only after a meaningful debate in the cabinet. {…}

Where, then, does that leave us? The prime minister said at the cabinet meeting on Sunday: “The threat to the home front is dwarfed by another threat – Iranian nuclear power.”

This comment reinforced his statement during a tour of the southern border last week that Israel cannot put its fate in anyone else’s hands.

“Israel must and can rely only on itself,” he declared. “No one can perform this role except the IDF and various Israeli security forces, and we will continue to conduct ourselves in this way.”

One can only hope saner minds prevail…!

One final note, Here’s a recent example of some Israeli Justice…

“A soldier accused of killing two women who waved a white flag during the “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza reached a plea bargain with the military advocate general and will be jailed for 45 days.”

*gah*

 

myFDL Editor’s Note: Some excerpts have been trimmed due to length or use of AP sources. Please review our guidelines for information.

by CTuttle

Return of The Living Dead…

5:02 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I always appreciate it when the Foreign Policy ‘wonks’ argue what I’ve said years ago…! Today, Stephen Walt, in FP, asked the eternal burning question…

Why do people keep predicting war with Iran?

… One of the background elements in this campaign has been repeated warnings that Israel’s leaders believed “time was running out” and that they were getting ready to launch a preventive strike on their own. This recurring theme has depended heavily on cooperation from sympathetic journalists and compliant media organizations, who have provided a platform to disseminate these various dark prophecies.

In September 2010, for example, The Atlantic published a cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg (“The Point of No Return”) based on interviews with dozens of Israeli officials. Goldberg concluded that the odds of an Israeli attack by July 2011 were greater than 50 percent. Fortunately, this forecast proved to be as accurate as most of Goldberg’s other writings about the Middle East. {…}

…Like I said, I can’t be completely sure that reason will prevail and that a war won’t happen, although there do seem to be a lot of sensible voices inside the Israeli security establishment who are counseling against it. What worries me most is that the people who have been sounding all these alarmist warnings will start to worry that their credibility is evaporating, and they will feel compelled to go to war because they’ve talked about it for so long. That’s just about the dumbest reason I can think of, but sometimes even pretty smart people do dumb things.

Does anybody realize that the last time Persia invaded any neighboring Nation, these United States were still British colonies…?

Now, what prompted my latest rant is this blatant agitprop from Ehud Barak, yesterday… Israel defense chief ‘suggests’ U.S. has new intelligence bringing worries over Iran in line with Israel’s…!

I thought Richard Silverstein best summed it up…

I don’t buy it. Not for a second. First, Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s stenographer for Barak, admits in a tweet that he hasn’t personally seen the report. He says that western and Israeli sources he considers “very reliable,” have. The Israeli source is likely Barak, who I wouldn’t consider reliable if he was the last defense minister on earth. The western source could very well be U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro, who’s been leaking like a sieve to Israeli media on the Iran issue.

If you parse the Haaretz carefully (or even not so carefully) you won’t find a single piece of information in it that’s new or that even describes any aspect of the NIE. What I’m guessing is that Barak hasn’t even seen it himself. At no point does Ravid say that Israel has the report or has seen it. Which makes all of this nothing more than spin. Something unfortunately we’ve grown quite used to when it comes to Israeli security issues. Israel’s claims about Iran’s nuclear program have been riddled with deceit, lies and fraud. {…}

…Think on this as well: isn’t it a bit strange that there’ve been virtually no reports on the NIE in U.S. media. Why would the U.S. allow Israel to be the first to announce the news? Unless of course Barak is jumping the gun and doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Undoubtedly, there is a new NIE in the works and perhaps it does have strong things to say about Iran. But whether those things match what Barak is claiming is entirely dubious.

Even Emptywheel is confused by this new ‘leak’ war… I’m Confused. Are THESE Leaks Permissible, or Not?

…It’s okay for Ehud Barak, who was fed this intelligence either in normal intelligence sharing or alternately just handed the US the report in question and now is claiming that the report has been incorporated into the NIE (says a US official who seems determined to provide some explanation for this leak), to talk about leaked US intelligence on the record, but it’s not okay for the NSC spokesperson to do so.

It’s a new twist on the A1 cutout Dick Cheney used, I’m fairly certain: launder the leak through leaks to Israel, because no one in Congress or DC generally (except the FBI) gives a damn about leaks to Israel.

Whatever. I’m thoroughly confused. Am I right that the leak to Israel is considered acceptable but now the sources for the Reuters report will be targets of a witch hunt?

Ironically, let’s not lose sight that it is indeed a ‘war of leaks’… Saudi Arabia says it would ‘intercept Israeli planes en route to Iran’

…Saudi Arabia will not permit Israeli aircraft to cross its territory on the way to strike Iran, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Thursday. The message was passed to Jerusalem via Obama administration officials during recent talks in Israel, it claimed.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said later Thursday he had received no such message.

Senior Israeli officials reportedly see the move as a warning message from the US not to launch a unilateral strike, according to the paper.

Hmmm… But press on they must… Israeli leaders want to attack Iran before US election, says media report…

…The front-page report in the biggest-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth came amid mounting speculation – fuelled by media leaks from both the government and its detractors at home and abroad – that war with Iran could be imminent, even though it might rupture the bedrock ties between Israel and the United States.

“Were it up to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran would take place in the coming autumn months, before the November election in the United States,” Yedioth said in the article by its two senior commentators, which appeared to draw on discussions with the defence minister but included no direct quotes.

Spokesmen for prime minister Netanyahu and for Mr Barak declined to comment.

Yedioth said the Israeli leaders had failed to win over other security cabinet ministers for a strike on Iran now, against a backdrop of objections by the armed forces given the tactical and strategic hurdles such an operation would face.

“The respect which in the past formed a halo around prime ministers and defence ministers and helped them muster a majority for military decisions is gone, no more,” Yedioth said. “Either the people are different, or the reality is different.”

I thought my favorite Persian, Cyrus Safdari, best said it… This is just a pathetic display…

*gah*

Ramadan Kareem…!

by CTuttle

What A Wicked Web We Weave…

12:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the TRNN blurb: Col. Larry Wilkerson: This may have more to do with getting ready for war against Iran than fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda

Let’s connect some dots…

First, some Terrorism Arithmetic

…Uncle Sam will spend $3.796 trillion in 2012 compared with $1.863 trillion in 2001, $1.327 trillion of which was borrowed, reversing 2001’s budget surplus of $127 billion. The Department of Homeland Security gets $57 billion and employs 180,000, the intelligence agencies get an estimated $100 billion and employ 100,000, the FBI gets nearly $9 billion, and the Department of Defense gets $671 billion, which does not include the war in Afghanistan. In 2001, the Pentagon budget was $277 billion. When all the increases are added up and compared to the baseline of 2001, the war on terror currently costs the American taxpayer more than $500 billion per year. As there may be only 100 or so terrorists interested in attacking the United States directly, that works out to something like $5 billion per year per terrorist…

…I don’t suppose statistical analysis of an official government report really means anything as President Barack Obama is expanding his little wars and presidential aspirant Mitt Romney appears to be intent on turning the little conflicts into much bigger ones. When Osama bin Laden announced his intention of breaking the United States economically by enticing it to overreact to terror attacks, he surely knew a good thing when he saw it. More to the point, he might even have understood that politics as usual in the United States would mean that the two parties would try to outdo each other in being tough about the terrorist threat. That is precisely what has occurred. Breaking the pattern does not appear to be in the national DNA, even though continuing to do as we have been doing is a recipe for ruin. The ultimate irony in U.S. politics is that fearmongering always appears to be a good card to play for a politician even when the numbers and analysis say otherwise. It seems safe to say that neither an Obama nor a Romney will do anything to disrupt that pattern.

On Iran…

So lets see now: After months of talks, across two continents and three cities, and the whole thing came down to the fact that the US wants Iran to abandon her rights, with nothing given in exchange…

…The bottom line is that as long as the US is not willing to recognize such a basic principle — that Iran, like any other sovereign country, has a right to enrich uranium, just as Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands etc. — then really there just isn’t anything to talk about. And the US won’t acknowledge that because 1- Israel won’t tolerate it, and 2- the US needs to keep the nuclear issue alive as a justification and pretext for a policy of imposing regime change in Iran.

Of course there will be analysts who will attempt to cut a “middle of the road” path for themselves by blaming both sides equally, thus making themselves appear to be objective and neutral, but really, I don’t see how Iran can be criticized for not giving up a right to enrichment. No country on the face of the planet would do that…

To be sure…

…If it were left to the U.S. Senate, Israeli and American air power would already be winging its way to Tehran to destroy Iran’s nuclear plants. 44 senators, including a considerable number of Democrats, wrote to the president that he should abandon the nuclear talks which recently concluded their second failed meeting in Moscow. These ‘peacemakers’ suggest three demands that we impose upon the Iranians:

The senators wrote that the “absolute minimum” Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country.

If they fail, we might as well put on our helmets and Kevlar and fire up the F-16s and cruise missiles. The senators know that Iran will not agree to any such conditions. Thus in effect they are calling for a virtual declaration of war against Iran (though they couched it in more subtle language than that):

…We urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists,” they wrote. ”As you have rightly noted, ‘the window for diplomacy is closing.’ Iran’s leaders must realize that you mean precisely that.”

…The question is: is Obama vacillating enough to, in one of his many weak political moments, give in to all this saber-rattling and offer Israel a green-light? Does he understand that there’s a quantitative difference between killing Muslims with U.S. drones and dropping bunker busters on Iran? Or will he truly become the national security president and go “all the way” to war?

It’s ironic that even George Bush said we weren’t at war with Islam. Barack Obama seems hellbent on turning that statement on its head. From his Cairo speech to the current shambles of our relations with the Arab world. It’s ugly how things have gone for him and us.

Here’s another blockbuster from Richard Silverstein, as well… Israel Lobby Creates Anti-Iran Astroturf Group…

Now, On Syria…

Will the Syria Opposition Unify? Does it Need to?

The New York Times is reporting that the C.I.A. is Steering Arms to members of the Syrian Opposition. The CIA has a major challenge in trying to unify the Syrian militias, teach them to fight, get them advanced weapons, and supply them with enough intelligence so that they will know how to avoid the Syrian army where it is strong and attack it where it is weak. But even if the Syrian militias, which Jeffrey White of WINEP estimates to be around 100 (I read a 200 estimate yesterday but have forgotten where), cannot unify or develop a command and control structure, they are still likely to bring down the regime eventually. The sponsors of the Syria regime will not supply it with an endless aid and arms. For 12% of the population to police a large country that is in widespread revolt is too costly, especially when much of the world is mobilized for regime-change. Perhaps the CIA’s biggest challenge will be to make sure the arms get to pro-American militias. It cannot afford a repeat of Afghanistan in the 1980s…

Here’s a great Guardian report…Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army…

Just think, you too can join the Saudis… Adopt a Syrian rebel? Websites raise cash for opposition…

In summation, what a great question…

Why Is the U.S. Selling Billions in Weapons to Autocrats?

The export of American arms to countries around the world — even those actively repressing their own citizens — is booming

What the f*ck are we doing…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Ex-Shin Bet Head Diskin: Bibi, Barak ‘not fit to lead Israel’ And Wrong on Iran

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Hot on the heels of Benny Gantz’s recent statements, former Shin Bet head, Yuval Diskin, took it a step further today…

Israel’s former Shin Bet chief: I have no confidence in Netanyahu, Barak

Yuval Diskin accuses Israel’s leaders of misleading the public on Iran, says they are making decisions ‘based on messianic feelings.

Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin expressed harsh criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday in a meeting with residents of the city of Kfar Sava, saying the pair is not worthy of leading the country.

My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war,” Diskin told the “Majdi Forum,” a group of local residents that meets to discuss political issues.

I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” he added.

Diskin deemed Barak and Netanyahu “two messianics – the one from Akirov or the Assuta project and the other from Gaza Street or Caesarea,” he said, referring to the two politicians’ places of residence.

Believe me, I have observed them from up close… They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event,” Diskin said.

They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race,” said the former security chief…

*ouch* That had to have left a mark…!

To bring ya’ll up to date, the ever intrepid, Richard Silverstein, had wrote yesterday…

IDF Chief Calls Iran “Rational,” Barak Disagrees

Israel continued its self-portrait as a government in disarray as its military chief, Benny Gantz called Iran “rational” and said he believed that nation would not build a nuclear weapon (a position fully in accord with U.S. views). The next day, Ehud Barak took pains to divorce himself from his subordinate by saying of Iran:

[Barak] did not see Iran as “rational in the Western sense of the word, meaning people seeking a status quo and the outlines of a solution to problems in a peaceful manner.

This of course is a delicious bit of irony because most observers of the Israeli-Arab conflict believe precisely this about Israel’s approach. It seeks, not a sustainable status quo, but a status quo that offers it supreme advantage and dominance over its neighbors. Nor does Israel seek solution to these problems in a peaceful manner. It’s saber-rattling toward Iran itself is but one example.

In truth, what Barak is complaining about is that Iran refuses to accede to a dictat set before it by the western powers. If you’re the majority, a resistant minority is always going to appear as ungrateful, even irrational. Because what other reasonable solution is there than the one you maintain? The problem with Israeli policymakers is that they’re beset by a grave case of narcissism, and a profound inability to view matters as their enemy might see them. This is a fatal combination in a region so prone to cataclysm as the Middle East.

Gantz also mysteriously suggested that other military forces than Israel were prepared to attack Iran. Most likely he was referring to the U.S. But he could’ve been making a sly reference to Iran’s regional enemies joining in the fight. This might mean an outright contribution of forces to an attack or it might mean a less visible role say, in offering Israel the right to overfly Saudi Arabian airspace in order to attack Iran.

Dore Gold laugably tried to square the “rationality” circle with this near non sequitur:

The Iranians have irrational goals, which they may try and advance in a rational way.

Makes perfect sense to me if you’re as out of touch with Iran and reality in general as Gold is…

Ehud Barak even doubled down on his messianic lunacy, today… Ehud Barak says Iran seeks ‘apocalyptic’ policies…

As Phyllis Bennis wrote at Antiwar.com today…

Iran: New war looming?

That threat isn’t over. The big difference this time around is that people in power – in the White House, in the Pentagon, in all of the U.S. intelligence agencies, even most of the security and intelligence people in Israel – all agree that

1) Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon;
2) Iran is not building a nuclear weapon;
3) Iran hasn’t even made the decision of whether or not to build a weapon in the future.

And yet. The risk of a war “against Iranian nuclear weapons” continues to rise.

This time, it’s all about Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to ratchet up the rhetoric and the threats against Iran – knowing that in an election year, the likelihood of a U.S. president or Congress refusing to back/support/participate in an Israeli military strike, regardless of how dangerous, is virtually non-existent. What does Israel get out of it? (Hint: it’s not safety from some “existential” threat). Israel gets to preserve its nuclear weapons monopoly in the Middle East – losing that monopoly is the real danger Israeli officials worry about. That’s why the call for a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East is so important – to make sure no one in the region has a nuclear weapon. That certainly includes Iran, which doesn’t have one and isn’t trying to build one. And it would include Israel, whose uninspected and unacknowledged arsenal of 200-400 high density nuclear bombs remains the biggest cause of arms racing in this arms-glutted part of the world.

It’s also true that Netanyahu desperately wants a different president in the White House next year. Despite Obama’s actual history of giving Israel more military aid, greater protection in the UN, tighter military ties, and fewer consequences for expanding settlements than almost any other president, Netanyahu knows that any Republican in the White House would represent an even greater gift to Tel Aviv. And only Israel and AIPAC, the most powerful part of the pro-Israel lobbies that now represent the most right-wing extremist elements of Israeli politics, stand to benefit.

And oh by the way. Does anyone really think that as long as Israel can play the “we face an existential danger” card, anyone in Washington is likely to even consider putting serious pressure on Tel Aviv to end its occupation and apartheid policies towards Palestinians? Let’s see hands…

Ironically, I have the very same sanity issues about our current Def. Sec., and, our own Prez…! In particular, by this recent nonsense, and then, with Leon(our ex-CIA Chief, too), serving up this NeoLib/AIPAC/Ziocon gobblety-gook, today…

Panetta: I hope that IDF chief is right on Iran nuclear program

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he has no specific information on whether Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb…

Are you f*cking serious, Leon…!

Anyways, I still admire Christiane Amanpour’s efforts… Amanpour interviews former Iranian nuclear negotiation insider about weaponization plans…

Btw, Iran is bending over backwards to resolve the Nuke issues by agreeing to ‘snap’ IAEA inpections and even a full halt in reprocessing the heavy water to the IAEA’s acceptable level of 19.5%, by holding it at the 5% level…!

Now, just as an attack on Iran would embolden them to actually consider building a bomb, take a gander at what our current ‘Bipartisan’ Congress Critters are all up-in-arms about now…

U.S. Congress voices concern over Iran cyber-threat

The cyber-attack by the Stuxnet worm against Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is designed to eventually produce nuclear weapons, was considered one of the most successful moves to date in the confrontation over the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions. This week, however, concerns were raised at the U.S. Congress that the cyber-attack may have been the “crossing of the Rubicon” for Iran, motivating it to engage in cyber-war against U.S. targets, including critical infrastructure.

“Stuxnet may be proof of Iran’s vulnerability and the effectiveness of other nation-states’ cyber-arsenals. However, it would also be possible for Iran to gain some knowledge for creating a Stuxnet-like virus from analyzing its effects,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D) of New York said at the hearing of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee and the Cyber-security, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee, titled “Iranian Cyber Threat to the U.S. Homeland.”

Ain’t it ironic that Panetta scoffs at Iran’s ‘reverse-engineering’ of the downed stealth drone…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Hurling BRICs, And, ‘Israel Bought an Airfield Called Azerbaijan’

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Today, in the US House of Representatives…

Lawmakers Target Iran’s Energy Sector for Expanded Sanctions

U.S. lawmakers are seeking to expand sanctions on Iran’s energy sector by banning the purchase of its natural gas and prohibiting investment in oil and gas services, exploration and new pipelines.

Representatives Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, and Robert Dold, an Illinois Republican, introduced the Iran Energy Sector and Proliferation Sanctions Act in Congress today. The measure is the latest in a stepped-up campaign to tighten sanctions aimed at depriving Iran’s government of revenue that may be used for its nuclear and missile programs.

Iran is the second-largest crude producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It also has the world’s second-largest natural-gas reserves, which are largely undeveloped.

“We must not allow the Iranian regime to use the nation’s vast energy resource as a financial pipeline for its nuclear ambitions,” Deutch said in an interview. The legislation is intended to “put the world on notice that the entire Iranian energy sector is off limits so long as Iran continues to defy the international coalition.”

Just yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul, put a block on it’s companion bill in the Senate, however tenuous a block…!

Now, to refresh your memory, as I’d noted before…

Iran’s Oil Bourse: A Threat to the U.S. Economy?

…While Iran’s nuclear program has become a major focus of the international media, there are many who strongly believe that the program is only a cover for the U.S. government’s true motive in a possible attack against Iran.

What some analysts posit is the real concern for the United States is Iran’s plan to open its own oil exchange — the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB) — with the alleged goal of becoming the dominant center of the Middle East’s oil trade.

What makes the IOB the subject of such interest by the American government? According to rumors, which first vaulted the issue into the spotlight, the financial exchange in the aforementioned bourse will trade for oil in euros instead of the U.S. dollar. The dollar has long been the dominant currency for international oil trade. {snip}

Of course, the effectiveness of the IOB will depend on whether the big international oil trading companies decide to accept deals in euros or not. However, the potential financial impact on the U.S. economy remains more than just idle speculation.

“The weapon of oil in the hands of Iran’s regime is more dangerous than any other weapon,” said a recently published article in Italy’s Panorama newsmagazine. {snip}

There is speculation that the IOB represents Iran’s plan to escape any possible future economic sanctions spearheaded by the U.S. However, some postulate that the plan could also endanger the continued existence of Iran’s regime. William Clark, an American security expert, predicted that if Iran threatened the hegemony of the U.S. dollar in the international oil market, the White House would immediately order a military attack against it…

Then, I’d mentioned, more recently that we are indeed Screwing the Petro-Pooch…

…take a gander at this new [Jan 24, 2012] Asia Times article…

…Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who visited Doha last week, disclosed at a press conference on Friday: a) China proposes to invest in the manufacturing of ”downstream oil products, which are most urgently needed by Qatar”; b) China and Qatar signed an agreement to jointly build a refinery in Taizhou, Zheijiang, in China; c) Chinese companies propose to participate in infrastructure projects in Qatar; and d) China and Qatar are discussing a “long-term, stable and comprehensive cooperative partnership” in natural gas.

Then, Wen quietly dropped a bombshell. He revealed “one more important point” as if it were an afterthought. He said:

In order to address investment issues, we [China and Qatar] need financial support. Therefore, we reached another agreement, a cooperation agreement linking finance with investment. Qatar also proposed the use of local currency in trade settlement and even a specific ratio. I think this proposal can be studied.

The short point is, the renminbi, the “people’s currency” also known as the yuan, is appearing in Doha. The China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) currency swap deal which was signed during Wen’s visit to Abu Dhabi last week already brings the yuan to the Emirates. The deal with the UAE is worth US$5.5 billion and the Chinese central bank statement said that it aims at “strengthening bilateral financial cooperation, promoting trade and investments and jointly safeguarding regional financial stability”. {snip}

…Iran and Russia have already switched to their national currencies for conducting bilateral trade. Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow Seyed Reza Sajjadi said on Friday, “[Trade] with Russia is based on our national currencies. We started this work long ago. Iranian businessmen are buying products in Russia and are using the rouble as [payment] currency] … The US dollar has no [economic] support base … There is a similar interest on the Russian side.”

Last week, it also came to be known that India proposes to allow Iran’s central bank to open rupee accounts with two Indian banks as a long-term solution to the countries’ payment problems instigated by the US (which pressured New Delhi to terminate the traditional payment mechanism for Iran within the Asian Clearing Union.) An Indian delegation visited Tehran last week to finalize details…

On a side note, Chinese firm surpasses Exxon in oil production…

Well, our chickens are indeed coming home to roost… BRICS not ‘obliged’ to follow US sanctions on Iran

...India, China and other BRICS countries today said they will not severe their trade ties with oil-rich Iran, which is facing US sanctions against its nuclear programme.

The issue came up for discussion at the meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) trade ministers, a day ahead of the BRICS summit here.

“Yes, this was discussed. All BRICS members are members of the UNSC. We respect UN resolutions…at the same time the resolution does not forbid countries to engage in trade in essential commodities and what is required for human good,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said, addressing a joint a press conference with other BRICS trade ministers.

Commerce Minister from China, Chen Deming said his country is not ‘not obliged to follow any domestic laws and rules of any particular country’.

Sharma said Iran is an important source of energy. Spiralling oil prices have put stress on India’s finances. “Therefore, we look at things…in very pragmatic manner and remaining within the ambit of the UN resolution”

The BRICs are truly decoupling from our Western Imperialism…


BRICS Tighten United Front

- At their summit in the Indian capital on Thursday, leaders of the coalition known as BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – made several poignant decisions that experts say hint at the converging of economic and political interests of a disparate regional bloc.

Though the leaders chose to defer the long-awaited announcement of a ‘South-South Bank’ to next year’s meet, or beyond, the ‘Delhi Declaration’ produced at the end of the summit said BRICS finance ministers have been directed to “examine the feasibility and viability of such an initiative, set up a joint working group for further study, and report back to us (heads of state) by the next Summit (in South Africa).”

“Creating such a ‘BRICS Bank’ involves complex issues, such as the medium of transfer of credit,” said Vivan Sharan, associate fellow at the prestigious Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which hosted a BRICS academic forum of experts and scholars from member countries in New Delhi from Mar. 4 – 6.

“But there are no roadblocks ahead and it is an idea whose time has come,” Sharan told IPS. “While the plan now is to supplement rather than supplant the existing global financial structure, there is clearly the ambition to go ahead.”

For now though, according to Sharan, citizens of the bloc, who account for nearly half the world’s population, can be content with the knowledge that by June there will be a BRICS Exchange Alliance in place, allowing trading options using local currency.

Investors will soon be able to invest in each other’s progress and there will be greater liquidity, better market-determined integration and the possibility of extending credit in local (currencies),” Sharan said. “Two BRICS countries are among the top five in purchasing power parity terms and four are in the top 10.

BRICS’ frustration with the policies of the wealthy G7 countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States, and Canada – was palpable at the meeting…

Now, about that ‘New Silk Road’… U.S.: We’re For The New Silk Road — If It Bypasses Iran…

Here’s a great visual update on PNAC’s designs on Pipelineistan…

Speaking of the Neo/ZioCons, they’re screeching at the top of their bloody lungs… Israeli-Azerbaijan Deal Leaked, Bolton Blames Obama… And then straight from Hasbara Apparatchik… Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran

I do think the ever intrepid, Richard Silverstein, provides the best analysis…

‘Israel Bought an Airfield Called Azerbaijan’

…Perry notes that Azerbaijan’s rampant corruption has allowed Israel to exploit the situation to its advantage. In return for military hardware and joint production deals, Israel gets these landing rights, the right to place sophisticated listening posts targeting Iran on Azeri soil, and maybe even the right for its assassins to use Azeri territory on their way to and from Iran to assassinate nuclear scientists. If this reminds you of a Graham Greene or John Le Carre novel, it should. The only difference is that the characters’ features are more Middle Eastern and the languages spoken are different… {snip}

All of this equals a major projection of Israeli power right into the heart of two of the region’s major Muslim powers, Turkey and Iran. Frankly, it reminds me of the history of U.S. interventionism around the world–in Central America (1950 and 70s), Latin America (1960s and 70s), Asia (1960s and 70s), and now the Middle East (1990s and 2000s). All of this aggressive projection of American power for objectives and values almost impossible to quantify, has led us to much grief. It can only lead Israel to a similar fate. What the Middle East does NOT need is Israeli air bases on Cyprus and Azerbaijan. It does not need Israel doing its level best to rile up regional powers like Turkey and Iran.

It is precisely belligerent acts like this which convince the nations of the area that they need nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Israel doesn’t mess around. If it wants something, it gets it. If it doesn’t want you to do or have something, it’ll do its damndest to stop you, or barring that to make you pay for your defiance. Israel makes the neighborhood even tougher than it is or has to be. Under such conditions, it’s no wonder Iran might feel the need to explore a nuclear option…

I’ll wrap it up with a Christian Science Monitor report today…

Attacking Iran: Did US just torpedo Israeli deal for a base in Azerbaijan?

Israel is developing a ‘secret staging ground’ in Azerbaijan for a possible attack on Iran, reports Foreign Policy magazine. US officials aren’t happy with that, and may have leaked the story.

More leaks please…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Ehud Barak: “the difference between us and the U.S. is the perspective on timetables.”

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The Defense Minister was in Berlin yesterday…

Israel, U.S. disagree on Iran timetable

…Barak said that 2012 is a “highly important” year for a possible strike and speculated that the timeframe for a “surgical intervention” — a precision hit on Iranian targets — is not a matter of weeks, but it is not a matter of years either.

Iran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and insists its nuclear program is meant for peaceful uses such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.

Barak said Israel and the U.S. agree on preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons, but that “the difference between us and the U.S. is the perspective on timetables.”

“America has more abilities than Israel,” Barak said. “You can think of a time when Israel would be very limited in its ability to act.”

Why was he there ya might ask…?

…Ehud Barak’s office said the minister signed the contract Wednesday in Berlin at a ceremony held at the Israeli ambassador’s home.

Germany’s Parliament approved the purchase in November and agreed to pay some €135 million ($180 million) of the costs — about 1/3 of the submarine’s price.

Israel already has three Dolphin submarines from Germany — one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin — and two more are currently under construction.

Barack said in a statement the submarine will “substantially increase the capabilities and the strength of … Israel in the face of ever-increasing challenges.”

Here’s another Minister…‘If you want to shoot – shoot’: Israeli minister on Iran strike…

Ain’t this cool… ? Iran’s UN Mission complains of harassment by US…

Now, Richard Silverstein penned another must-read…

Terror and the Murder of the Good

…There can never be justification for killing children, whether those children are French Jews or Palestinian Muslims. If we want the world to believe in the justice of our cause, whether it be Israel or Palestine, we have to denounce the murder of both.

That’s why the pro-Israel supporters who are clucking about this latest round of Islamist terror are dead wrong. They are hypocrites because they only care about children with Jewish blood in their veins. You never heard any of them cry for the two Palestinian children killed in Israelis attacks against Gaza. Nor did they cry anything but crocodile tears, if that, for the 300 children killed during Cast Lead.

The EU’s foreign minister, Catherine Ashton Taylor unleashed “fury” in Israel with her apt analogy (though much less forcefully made than I have) between the child terror deaths in Gaza, Toulouse, Norway and elsewhere. She said:

…When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

Israelis of course refuse to concede that the children they kill in Gaza are killed in anything other than a pure and just cause. Listen to this rhetorical flatulence from Netanyahu:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

Calling an attack that kills children “defensive” and “surgical” seems to absolve it or any of the moral considerations that enter into other acts of war and terror which kill children. The fact that the children killed in Gaza were NOT being used as human shields by any militants is also deliberately obfuscated by the pro-Israelists. Will no Israeli leader ever cry for any child he kills? Of course not. He’s too busy orchestrating the hasbara to mute the moral opprobrium of his next attack…

Speaking of Toulouse… Toolooz…?

Meanwhile, Bibi’s pissed at the UN, not just the EU… UN body to probe Israeli settlements…

So naturally… Netanyahu says UN rights council ‘hypocritical’…

…”This council has an automatic majority hostile to Israel and is hypocritical,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office.

The Israeli premier added that the UN Human Rights Council “should be ashamed of itself.”

The 47-member council approved earlier a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinian people.

Thirty-six members voted in favour while 10 abstained. Only the United States voted against it…

And hot off the press…

…A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Israel would not cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe of Israel’s West Bank settlement policies.

The source described that investigation as biased, adding that Israel did not want to give it legitimacy.

In summing up, Philip Giraldi, wrote a must read too…

The No-Fault March to War

…Under the current “progressive” administration in Washington, accountability has taken several steps backward. CIA torturers are not responsible for what they did, soldiers who massacre foreign civilians are protected or slapped on the wrist if they are punished at all, American citizens are assassinated, and drones kill suspects living in countries with which we are not at war. Recently, the president declared that he can take control of “all national resources” in case of an emergency, a sweeping dismissal of the right to property guaranteed by the Constitution. And if anyone challenges any of these abuses in court, the proceedings will be stopped by the government’s declaration of state-secrets privilege….

All the while… Today in Gaza…

*gah*