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They Never Announce When You Prevent a War

6:05 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

There exists, I suppose, some slight chance of this one making it into the State of the Union address, no doubt in a distorted, bellicose, and xenophobic disguise.  Typically, there’s no chance of any announcement at all.

We’re stopping another war.
Peace Baby!!!
There are a million qualifications that need to be put on that statement.  None of them render it false.  A bill looked likely to move through Congress that would have imposed new sanctions on Iran, shredded the negotiated agreement with Iran, and committed the United States to join in any Israeli war on Iran.  This would be a step toward war and has become understood as such by large numbers of people.  Efforts to sell sanctions as an alternative to war failed. Tons of pushback has come, and is still coming, from the public, including from numerous organizations not always known for their opposition to war.  And the bill, for the moment, seems much less likely to pass.

This is no time to let up, but to recognize our power and press harder for peace.

Pushback against the sanctions bill has come from the White House, from within the military, and from elsewhere within the government. But this bill was something the warmongers wanted, AIPAC wanted, a majority of U.S. senators wanted, and corporate media outlets were happy to support.  The underlying pretense that Iran has a nuclear weapons program that endangers the world had the support of the White House and most other opponents of the March-to-War bill.  That pretense has been successfully sold to much of the public. The additional supporting pretense that sanctions have helped, rather than hindered, diplomacy has similar widespread backing. But when it comes to a measure understood as a step into war, the public is saying no, and that public response is a factor in the likely outcome.

In this instance, President Obama has been on the right side of the debate. I’ve never known that to actually be true before. But there’s been a whole infrastructure of activism set up and fine-tuned for five years now, all based around the pretense that Obama was right on various points and Congress wrong.  So, when that actually happened to be true, numerous organizations knew exactly what to do with it. War opposition and Obama-following merged.  But let’s remember back to August and September.  That was a different situation in which . . .

We stopped another war.

Raytheon’s stock was soaring. The corporate media wanted those missiles to hit Syria. Obama and the leadership of both parties wanted those missiles to hit Syria.  The missiles didn’t fly.

Public pressure led the British Parliament to refuse a prime minister’s demand for war for the first time since the surrender at Yorktown, and the U.S. Congress followed suit by making clear to the U.S. president that his proposed authorization for war on Syria would not pass through either the Senate or the House.  Numerous Congress members, from both houses and both parties, said they heard more from the public against this war than ever before on any issue. It helped that Congress was on break and holding town hall meetings.  It helped that it was Jewish holidays and AIPAC wasn’t around.

And there were other factors.  After the public pushed Congress to demand a say, Obama agreed to that.  Perhaps he wanted something so controversial — something being talked about as “the next Iraq” — to go to Congress.  Perhaps he expected Congress would probably say No.  In such a scenario, the decisive factor would remain the past decade of growing public sentiment against wars.  But I don’t think that’s what happened.  Obama and Kerry were pushing hard and publicly for those missiles to fly.  When they couldn’t get the “intelligence” agencies to back their fraudulent case, they announced it anyway.  Those lies are just being exposed now, in a very different context from that in which the Iraq war lies or the Afghanistan or Libya war lies have been exposed.  Obama told us to watch videos of children suffering and dying in Syria and to choose between war and inaction.  We rejected that choice, opposed war, and supported humanitarian aid (which hasn’t happened on remotely the necessary scale).

In the space of a day, discussions in Washington, D.C., shifted from the supposed necessity of war to the clear desirability of avoiding war. The Russians’ proposal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons had already been known to the White House but was being rejected. When Kerry publicly suggested that Syria could avoid a war by handing over its chemical weapons, everyone knew he didn’t mean it.  In fact, when Russia called his bluff and Syria immediately agreed, Kerry’s staff put out this statement: “Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used. His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment.” In other words: stop getting in the way of our war! By the next day, however, with Congress rejecting war, Kerry was claiming to have meant his remark quite seriously and to believe the process had a good chance of succeeding, as of course it did.  Diplomatic solutions are always available.  What compelled Obama to accept diplomacy as the last resort was the public’s and Congress’s refusal to allow war.

These victories are limited and tentative.  The machinery that pushes for war hasn’t gone away.  The arms are still flowing into Syria.  Efforts to negotiate peace there seem less than wholehearted.  The U.S. puppeteer has stuck its arm up the rear end of the United Nations and uninvited Iran from the talks.  The people of Syria and Iran are no better off.

But they’re also no worse off. No U.S. bombs are falling from their skies.

There could be other proposals for wars that we’ll find much harder to prevent.  That’s precisely why we must recognize the possibility of stopping those proposals too, a possibility established by the examples above, from which we should stop fleeing in panic as if the possibility that everything we do might have some point to it horrifies us.

Any war can be stopped.  Any pretended necessity to hurry up and kill large numbers of people can be transformed into a negotiation at a table using words rather than missiles.  And if we come to understand that, we’ll be able to start dismantling the weaponry, which in turn will make the tendency to think of war as the first option less likely.  By steps we can move to a world in which our government doesn’t propose bombing someone new every few months but instead proposes helping someone new.

If we can stop one war, if we can stop two wars, why can’t we stop them all and put our resources into protection rather than destruction?  Why can’t we move to a world beyond war?
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Libyan Door to Syrian Door to Iran

8:30 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

“Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.”

I do assess with varying degrees of horror (some of the varying degrees rather high even) that a lot of people are going to die.  And how dare they die from chemical weapons when they should be dying from hellfire missiles and cluster bombs and napalm and depleted uranium and white phosphorous.  We have a responsibility to protect these people from dying of the wrong type of weapon and in too small numbers.

I’m in Dallas protesting the rehabilitation of our last criminal president because of the precedents he set for our current criminal president.  So, precedents are on my mind.  One precedent for an illegal humanitarian NATO war on Syria is, of course, the illegal humanitarian war on Libya two years ago.  And the pair of precedents (Libya and Syria) will put the target of the neocon/neoliberal cooperative war project squarely on Iran.

Syria will suffer, of course.  There will be no more an example of a humanitarian war that actually benefitted humanity after Syria than before.  The precedent will not be one of having accomplished something, but of having gotten away with something.

For some truly illuminating background on what was done to Libya, and some relevant discussion of what awaits Syria (if we don’t prevent it), I recommend Francis Boyle’s new book, Destroying Libya and World Order. 

Boyle served as a lawyer for the government of Libya repeatedly, over a period of decades, more than once successfully preventing a military assault by the United States and the United Kingdom.  Boyle details the aggression toward Libya of the Reagan administration: the lies and false accusations, the sanctions, the provocations, the assassination attempts, the infiltration, the blatant disregard for international law.

Boyle’s history brings us up to and through the 2011 assault, and traces its precedents to a very similar war over a decade earlier in Bosnia.  Boyle finds the unconstitutional and illegal assault on Libya a clear impeachable offense for President Obama.  And why would we think otherwise?  Only because we let Clinton and Bush get away with everything they got away with.  It would seem unfair now to impeach Obama for a crime his predecessors committed as well.

But past, as well as current, presidents can be impeached, censured, prosecuted, and/or publicly shamed.  Five of them came to Dallas today; there shouldn’t be any trouble finding them.  And the criminal attack on Libya can be treated as the crime it was.  The excuse of protection was used to quite openly pursue the overthrow of a nation’s government, bombing large numbers of civilians in the process, while arming brutal thugs and creating predictable blowback in neighboring nations as well.

In contrast, in Bahrain, nonviolent pro-democracy activists are left to their own devices as a U.S.-backed dictatorship jails, tortures, and murders them.

In Syria, the United States has worked against peace and for violence.  That violence is not a justification for further and heightened violence.  And every member of an intelligence “community” that announces that Syria might possibly have used a chemical weapon should be doing community service for the people of Fallujah and Basra and Baghdad, not prodding the world’s only stupor power into another genocide. Read the rest of this entry →

Nixon Went to China, Who Will Go to Iran?

12:30 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Iranians are now beginning to die for lack of medicines kept out by U.S.-imposed sanctions.  I recently questioned (and videoed) former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about her notorious defense of sanctions that killed over a half million young Iraqi children.  She said she’d been wrong to say what she’d said.  She did not comment on the appropriateness of what she’d done.  I asked her if what we were doing to Iran was also wrong, and she replied, “No, absolutely not.”

Cover of Going to Tehran

Going to Tehran by the Leveretts

So, somehow it is good and proper for us to be killing Iranian children — although perhaps not to be talking about it.

I suspect that some of the reasons why we imagine there is a greater good being served by such actions are the same reasons no U.S. president will go to Iran in the manner in which Nixon went to China.  Of course, the common political wisdom in the United States holds that the president who went to China had to be a Republican.  By the same logic, the president who goes to Iran must be a militarist power-mad servant of the corporate oligarchy from the Republican party and not a militarist power-mad servant of the corporate oligarchy from the Democratic party.  That wouldn’t do at all.  And yet, U.S. conduct toward Iran has varied little from Bush to Clinton to Bush Jr. to Obama/Clinton, H.  A hopeless spiral of delusional counter-productive approaches toward the Islamic Republic of Iran needs to be broken by a 180 degree turn, and it won’t make much substantive difference who does it, as long as it doesn’t come too late.

Whether the authors intended exactly that or not, the above is the lesson I take away from an excellent new book by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett called Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It has been U.S. policy for decades not to engage with Iran, and — misleading rhetoric notwithstanding — it still is.  “More than any of his predecessors, in fact, Obama has given engagement a bad name, by claiming to have reached out to Tehran and failed when the truth is he never really tried.”

The Leveretts trace official U.S. policy on Iran to a trio of myths: the myths of irrationality, illegitimacy, and isolation.

IRRATIONALITY:

The evidence of irrationality on the part of the Iranian people or the Iranian government is very slim.  I can find much more irrationality in the U.S. public and government.  Iranians, in fact, are better at distinguishing between our people and our government than we seem to be at making that distinction on their side.  Iran has funded Hizballah and HAMAS, and we call those groups terrorists.  But we call any militants opposing Pentagon interests terrorists.  Iranian leaders have made comments verging on anti-Semitic (and routinely distorted into outrageous anti-Semitism), but nothing approaching the things Anwar Sadat or Mahmoud Abbas said or wrote before they were deemed rational actors with whom the U.S. and Israel could (and did) work.

Iran’s policies have been defensive, not aggressive.  Iran has not threatened to attack or attacked others.  Iran has refused to retaliate against chemical weapons attacks or terrorism or our shooting down a commercial jet or our funding efforts within Iran to manipulate its elections or our training of militants seeking to overthrow Iran’s government.  Iran has refused to develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.  Unlike Britain, Russia, or the United States, when provoked Iran has refused to invade Afghanistan, choosing wise reflection over hot-tempered anger.  Look at the polling across the Middle East: people fear the United States and Israel, not Iran.

Iran’s approach to the United States over the years has been rational and forbearant.  In 1995 the Islamic Republic of Iran offered its first foreign oil development contract to the United States, which turned it down.  Iran aided President Clinton by shipping arms to Bosnia, which Clinton turned around and condemned Iran for when the story became public.  In 2001, the President of Iran requested permission to pray for 911 victims at the site of the World Trade Center and offered to assist in counterterrorism plans, but was turned down.  Iran assisted the United States with its invasion of Afghanistan and was labeled “evil” in return.  The current president of Iran wrote long friendly letters to President Bush and President Obama, both of whom ignored them except to allow their staffs to publicly mock them.  The Iranian government repeatedly proposed substantive dialogue, offering to put everything on the table, including its nuclear energy program, and was turned down.  The Obama administration gave Turkey and Brazil terms it was sure Iran wouldn’t agree to; Iran agreed to them; and the White House rejected them, choosing instead to grow outraged at Brazil and Turkey.

Iran tried to believe in the change in Obama’s (no doubt domestically intended) rhetoric, but never encountered any substance, only fraud and hostility.  That Iran attempts civil relations with a nation surrounding and threatening it, imposing deadly sanctions on it, funding terrorism within its borders, and publicly mocking its sincere approaches is indication of either rationality or something almost Christ-like (I’m inclined to go with rationality).

ILLEGITIMACY:

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Waking Up in Tehran

10:52 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

According to one theory, U.S.-Iranian relations began around November 1979 when a crowd of irrational religious nutcases violently seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, took the employees hostage, tortured them, and held them until scared into freeing them by the arrival of a new sheriff in Washington, a man named Ronald Reagan.  From that day to this, according to this popular theory, Iran has been run by a bunch of subhuman lunatics with whom rational people couldn’t really talk if they wanted to.  These monsters only understand force.  And they have been moments away from developing and using nuclear weapons against us for decades now.  Moments away, I tell you!

Argo Movie Poster

A new memoir offers Americans a deeper picture of Iranian revolutionary history than recent thrillers.

According to another theory — a quaint little notion that I like to refer to as “verifiable history” — the CIA, operating out of that U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1953, maliciously and illegally overthrew a relatively democratic and liberal parliamentary government, and with it the 1951 Time magazine man of the year Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because Mossadegh insisted that Iran’s oil wealth enrich Iranians rather than foreign corporations.  The CIA installed a dictatorship run by the Shah of Iran who quickly became a major source of profits for U.S. weapons makers, and his nation a testing ground for surveillance techniques and human rights abuses.  The U.S. government encouraged the Shah’s development of a nuclear energy program.  But the Shah impoverished and alienated the people of Iran, including hundreds of thousands educated abroad.  A secular pro-democracy revolution nonviolently overthrew the Shah in January 1979, but it was a revolution without a leader or a plan for governing.  It was co-opted by rightwing religious forces led by a man who pretended briefly to favor democratic reform.  The U.S. government, operating out of the same embassy despised by many in Iran since 1953, explored possible means of keeping the Shah in power, but some in the CIA worked to facilitate what they saw as the second best option: a theocracy that would substitute religious fanaticism and oppression for populist and nationalist demands.  When the U.S. embassy was taken over by an unarmed crowd the next November, immediately following the public announcement of the Shah’s arrival in the United States, and with fears of another U.S.-led coup widespread in Tehran, a sit-in planned for two or three days was co-opted, as the whole revolution had been, by mullahs with connections to the CIA and an extremely anti-democratic agenda.  They later made a deal with U.S. Republicans, as Robert Parry and others have well documented, to keep the hostage crisis going until Carter lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan.  Reagan’s government secretly renewed weapons sales to the new Iranian dictatorship despite its public anti-American stance and with no more concern for its religious fervor than for that of future al Qaeda leaders who would spend the 1980s fighting the Soviets with U.S. weapons in Afghanistan.  At the same time, the Reagan administration made similarly profitable deals with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, which had launched a war on Iran and continued it with U.S. support through the length of the Reagan presidency.  The mad military investment in the United States that took off with Reagan and again with George W. Bush, and which continues to this day, has made the nation of Iran — which asserts its serious independence from U.S. rule — a target of threatened war and actual sanctions and terrorism.

Ben Affleck was asked by Rolling Stone magazine, “What do you think the Iranians’ reaction is gonna be?” to Affleck’s movie Argo, which depicts a side-story about six embassy employees who, in 1979, avoided being taken hostage.  Affleck, mixing bits of truth and mythology, just as in the movie itself, replied:

“Who the FUCK knows – who knows if their reaction is going to be anything? This is still the same Stalinist, oppressive regime that was in place when the hostages were taken. There was no rhyme or reason to this action. What’s interesting is that people later figured out that Khomeini just used the hostages to consolidate power internally and marginalize the moderates and everyone in America was going, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with these people?’ You know, ‘What do they want from us?’ It was because it wasn’t about us. It was about Khomeini holding on to power and being able to say to his political opponents, of which he had many, ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the Americans’ – which is, of course, a tactic that works really well. That revolution was a students’ revolution. There were students and communists and secularists and merchants and Islamists, it’s just that Khomeini fucking slowly took it for himself.”

The takeover of the embassy is an action virtually no one would advocate in retrospect, but asserting that it lacked rhyme or reason requires willful ignorance of Iranian-U.S. relations.  Claiming that nobody knew what the hostage-takers wanted requires erasing from history their very clear demands for the Shah to be returned to stand trial, for Iranian money in U.S. banks to be returned to Iran, and for the United States to commit to never again interfering in Iranian politics.  In fact, not only were those demands clearly made, but they are almost indisputably reasonable demands.  A dictator guilty of murder, torture, and countless other abuses should have stood trial, and should have been extradited to do so, as required by treaty.  Money belonging to the Iranian government under a dictatorship should have been returned to a new Iranian government, not pocketed by a U.S. bank.  And for one nation to agree not to interfere in another’s politics is merely to agree to compliance with the most fundamental requirement of legal international relations.

Argo devotes its first 2 minutes or so to the 1953 background of the 1979 drama.  Blink and you’ll miss it, as I’m betting most viewers do.  For a richer understanding of what was happening in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s I have a better recommendation than watching Argo.  For a truly magnificent modern epic I strongly encourage getting ahold of the forthcoming masterpiece by M. Lachlan White, titled Waking Up in Tehran: Love and Intrigue in Revolutionary Iran, due to be published this spring.  Weighing in at well over 300,000 words, or about 100,000 more than Moby Dick, Waking Up in Tehran is the memoir of Margot White, an American human rights activist who became an ally of pro-democracy Iranian student groups in 1977, traveled to Iran, supported the revolution, met with the hostage-takers in the embassy, became a public figure, worked with the Kurdish resistance when the new regime attacked the Kurds for being infidels, married an Iranian, and was at home with her husband in Tehran when armed representatives of the government finally banged on the door.  I’m not going to give away what happened next.  This book will transport you into the world of a gripping novel, but you’ll emerge with a political, cultural, and even linguistic education.  This is an action-adventure that would, in fact, make an excellent movie — or even a film trilogy.  It’s also an historical document.

There are sections in which White relates conversations with her friends and colleagues in Iran, including their speculations as to who was behind what government intrigue.  A few of these speculations strike me as in need of more serious support.  They also strike me as helpful in understanding the viewpoints of Iranians at the time.  Had I edited this book I might have framed them a little differently, but I wouldn’t have left them out.  I wouldn’t have left anything out.  This is a several-hundred-page love letter from a woman to her husband and from an activist to humanity.  It is intensely romantic and as honest as cold steel.  It starts in 1977.

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Video: Madeleine Albright Today on the Killing of Children

10:23 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Madeleine Albright questioned by David Swanson on October 31, 2012, in Charlottesville, Va., Obama campaign office. Albright says she is sorry for having said that killing a half million Iraqi children was worth it (whatever ‘it’ was) — not for her participation in their deaths, but only for having answered the sort of question conveniently almost never asked anymore. Asked about the current sanctions on Iran, she said that was not the same at all.

Iran, Israel, and Existential Threats

5:13 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Drawing of a laughing Ahmadinejad

Ahmdinejad: Axis of evil? (Image: Shahram Sharif / Flickr)

I had dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday night in New York, along with dozens of other peace activists.  This is an annual event, and I’ve taken part in it more than once.

There’s some divergence of opinion on Ahmadinejad.  The New York Daily News on Tuesday called Ahmadinejad “a pure evil crackpot Holocaust denier who wants to see Israel obliterated from planet Earth.”

In contrast, a Jewish lawyer addressing the dinner gathering said that a friend had told him not to come on Yom Kippur when he should be home atoning for his sins.  “I’m going to go,” he said he told his friend, “and atone for the sins of Israel.”

The media tells us that Ahmadinejad is “an existential threat to Israel.”  Let’s consider that.

I start from the assumption that an existential threat to a human being is a greater concern than an existential threat to a government.  Denying a past existential threat to millions of human beings is offensive and dangerous.  Creating a new existential threat to millions of human beings is worse — is, in fact, the danger we try to avoid by properly remembering the past.

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that no speech, not even a video attacking Islam, should be censored, and no speech can justify violence.  But the absence of speech, in Obama’s view, can justify war.  The Democratic Party Platform calls for war on Iran if Iran does not cease violating the nonproliferation treaty.  Obama declared on Tuesday that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons it would destroy the nonproliferation treaty.  It would start a nuclear arms race.  Iran would be, or rather it already is, a threat to Israel’s existence.

But how exactly can Iran stop violating a treaty that it is not violating?  What can it say to prove it does not have what even the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates say it does not have and is not working to produce?  How can Iran prove a negative?  Many of us still recall that impossible task being assigned to Iraq in 2003.
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Klepetromilitatorship

7:09 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Which came first, the oil business or the war machine that protects it? Who started this madness, the military that consumes so much of the oil or the corporations that distribute and profit from the filthy stuff?

Cover of Carbon Democracy, depicting the Crude Awakening sculpture at Burning Man

Crude Awakening by Timothy Mitchell

An answer of sorts can be found in Timothy Mitchell’s book, “Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil.”

Western oil corporations were never strong enough, Mitchell finds, to monopolize the flow or stoppage of Middle Eastern oil without major military and financial assistance. So, they began talking about their control of Middle Eastern oil as being an imperial interest. When “imperial” went out of fashion, the phrase shifted to “strategic interest.”

Early in the 20th century, the Anglo Persian Oil Company discovered that its oil stank. It contained high levels of sulfur, and people wouldn’t burn it for illumination. So, the oil company enlisted the British Navy, as a customer. In fact, it pretended the Navy was a major customer for a few years until it actually became one. The British empire thus developed an interest in protecting the company’s control of the oil of what is now Iran, in order to fuel the new ships of the Navy — a navy designed to protect Britain’s imperial interests.

The Royal Navy had another reason for shifting to oil-burning ships, according to Mitchell. Coal miners were developing the annoying habit of going on strike, effectively flicking off the light switch on the empire and all its toys. Coal mining involved more workers than oil drilling, and the movement of the coal, once mined, was more easily blocked en route. Coal, and the ease with which it could be sabotaged, was a driver of democracy, whereas oil would be its enemy.

Mitchell also describes British support for the Zionist settlement of Palestine in the 1920s as motivated by a desire to create a population in need of protection, protection that would involve controlling the flow of oil from Iran to the Mediterranean. Well, … that and a population to serve as protectors of the pipeline. In 1936-1939 the British created a force of armed Jewish settlers to guard the Haifa-Lydda railway line — a force that would form the nucleus of the army that seized control of Palestine in 1948.

Also in 1920 Winston Churchill proposed winning hearts and minds in what is now Iraq by bombing the place, to which the British secretary of state for war objected thus: “If the Arab population realize that the peaceful control of Mesopotamia ultimately depends on our intention of bombing women and children, I am very doubtful if we shall gain the acquiescence of the fathers and husbands.” Such logic would no more stop Winston Churchill than it would Barack Obama.

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Is Peace Getting in the Way of Our War Plans?

5:01 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

What a bizarre circumstance this is.  The irrational Iranians are behaving too reasonably.

Tehran. Post by Bahador Jamshidi.

The unmovable Iranians seem to be compromising too readily.

This past weekend, the United States and other major nations finally spoke with Iran. In 10 hours of talks (or 5 with translations), minus a lunch break, Iran agreed to a framework for ensuring that its nuclear program is only used for civilian purposes.

If this keeps up, the whole basis for war could be lost.  And it’s all the result of having finally spent a few hours talking with Iran.  The obvious solution is to cut off the talks, issue ultimatums, lower the threshold for what justifies war, and impose more deadly sanctions than ever.  And that’s just what some of our misrepresentatives in Congress are about to try.

Although, the last time Iran tried to agree to ship its uranium out of the country for refinement, talks were conveniently sabotaged by an explosion in Iran.  So, there are a variety of methods for sabotaging paths to peace.

But is this really so bizarre?  Or does peace often threaten to get in the way of the best laid plans to pretend to be reluctantly forced into war as a “last resort”?

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A Message of Peace and Friendship From Iran

3:43 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

(image: flahertyb/flickr)

(image: flahertyb/flickr)

 

One of the speakers on Saturday at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference in Stamford, Ct., was Leila Zand, Program Director, Middle East & Civilian Diplomacy, Fellowship Of Reconciliation.  She said that rather than sharing her own views on the dangers of a war on Iran, she had asked friends in Iran what they would say.  She read the following message that they sent her:

To all the wonderful peacemakers in national peace conference

To all of our brothers and sisters in the beautiful world

We are sending you the message of peace and friendship from Iran, the land of love and poetry, friendship and roses.  Iran, a country that has not initiated any violence on another nation in the past 200 years, but unfortunately has been the subject of such violations many times in her recent history.

In the past 30 years the loving people of Iran have experienced all kinds of difficulties; revolution, sanctions, war and terrorism.  Iran has also taken sweet, strong beginning steps towards democracy.  We Iranians have had the experience of revolution.  We know that real change will not occur through a sudden move, with violence.  We know that real change will come from within, from each one of us, Iranians.  We have learned this lesson and paid a very high price for it.  That is why we are strongly opposed to any violence, or pressure for change, including regime change, through the direct or indirect intervention of foreign powers.  We are proudly and persistently working hard to reach the level of democracy we deserve and desire.   Any attack on our beloved Iran will destroy all our work; any violence imposed on our mother land will eclipse our efforts, efforts of a 100 years, a 100 years of the hard work of generations.  A war on Iran is a war on a nation’s desire for democracy.  A war on Iran is a war on human history, a war on a culture of peace and a war on a people who have never appreciated violence.

Dear fellow American peace lovers, please deliver our message to your politicians.  We are not just a piece of land.  We are not oil.   We are not nuclear sites.  We are not evil.  We are women, men, children.   We are people with dreams, jobs, families, with a baggage of 5000 years of experience.   When we talk about war we know what we are talking about.  We have heard the shrieks of missiles.   We have smelled the gunpowder.   We have run for shelters.   We have seen pieces of a human body in top of our trees and on our roof tops.   We have lost loved ones.  We know what war means.  War was behind our windows.   We experienced war in our back yard. For my generation, killing, bombs, missiles, chemical weapons and terrorism is not just in Hollywood; is not a computer game; it is real.   And that is why we don’t want evil to knock on our door again.  We don’t want war. Read the rest of this entry →

Evidence of War Lies Is Public Pre-War This Time

10:06 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

War for Sale (image: cheesebikini/flickr)

War for Sale (image: cheesebikini/flickr)

When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying.  After all, he was a Republican.  But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo.

Now President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going.  We might suspect a lack of sincerity, given the insistence that Iran put an end to a program that the U.S. government simultaneously says there is no evidence exists, given the increase in free weapons for Israel to $3.1 billion next year, given the ongoing protection of Israel at the U.N. from any accountability for crimes, given the embrace of sanctions highly unlikely to lead to anything other than greater prospects of war, and given Obama’s refusal to take openly illegal war “off the table.”  We might suspect that peace was not the ultimate goal, except of course that Obama is a Democrat.

However, we now have Wikileaks cables and comments from anonymous officials that served as the basis for a report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.  The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible. During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Following Obama’s entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.  Diplomatic cables exposed by the WikiLeaks website exposed discussion concerning advanced weapons shipments. In one cable which surveyed defense discussions between Israel and the United states that took place on November 2009 it was written that ‘both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.’”

Why supply Israel with the weapons to attack Iran more forcefully if you don’t want Israel to attack Iran?  The Israeli newspaper Maariv claims to have the answer.  Apparently people in the know are spilling the beans earlier this war cycle: Read the rest of this entry →