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Status report on the war with Iran (we’re ignorantly drifting into yet another illegal war)

12 January 2012

Summary: We’re marching towards a war. Like our other wars this past decade, an ill-considered conflict based mostly on lies. Wars being among the most uncertain things in life, this might be larger, more expensive, and more painful than our other wars  since 9-11. Take a deep breath while reading this post and consider what we’re doing. Only our passivity and implicit support for the hawks driving US foreign policy makes these wars possible. As such we’ll fully deserve the consequences, for good or for ill.  This is the tenth post in this series. Links at the end go to the previous chapters and to other reliable sources of information and analysis about this war.

A lie will fly around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.
— Attributed to Mark Twain

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
— Attributed to George Orwell

Contents

  1. The latest attack on Iran, in violation of the laws American laid down after WWII
  2. Again, as we did with Iraq, we’ve unknowingly taken the critical step towards war
  3. Can we take out Iran’s nuke facilities?  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs answers.
  4. What are the likely results of our conflict?
  5. The winners so far:  Turkey and Iran
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For more information: articles discussing the current conflict between Iran and US-Israel
  8. Other posts about attacking Iran

(1)  The latest attack on Iran, in violation of the laws American laid down

These assassinations and sabotage are acts of war.  Illegal, as the UN Security Council has not authorized actions against Iran.  Nor has the International Atomic Energy Agency made definitive charges against Iran (just carefully worded and poorly documented “concerns”).  We’re pissing on the work of several generations of Americans and our allies in and after WWII.  They boldly took the first small steps away from a world of mindless violence — towards one of collective security governed by standards and laws.  And now we’re turning back.

So far Iran has shown commendable restraint.  If they hit back, they will the ones acting in accord with the UN Charter.  We will be the criminals.  Many Americans will rejoice at that, an indicator of our descent from what we were — into a pit, with no bottom yet visible.  Now let’s look at the latest attack on Iran.

From the FARS News Agency

(a)  Terrorists Kill Commerce Deputy of Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Site“, FARS News Agency, 11 January 2012:

An Iranian university professor and deputy director at Natanz enrichment facility was killed in a terrorist bomb blast in a Northern Tehran neighborhood on Wednesday morning. The magnetic bomb which was planted by an unknown motorcyclist under the car of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, a professor at Tehran’s technical university, also wounded two other Iranian nationals in Seyed Khandan neighborhood in Northern Tehran.

Ahmadi Roshan, 32, was a graduate of oil industry university and a deputy director of Natanz uranium enrichment facility for commercial affairs.


(b) Second Victim of Today’s Terrorist Blast Dies in Hospital“, FARS News Agency, 11 January 2012:

From the FARS News Agency

The second victim, Reza Qashqayee, who was the driver of the assassinated professor, was severely injured in the blast and died of his wounds in Resalat Hospital a few minutes ago. The magnetic bomb which was planted by an unknown motorcyclist under Ahmadi Roshan’s car, also wounded a third person, a passerby, in Seyed Khandan neighborhood in Northern Tehran.

Today’s blast took place on the second anniversary of the martyrdom of Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who was also assassinated in a terrorist bomb attack in Tehran on January 11, 2010.

Also, the bombing method used against Ahmadi Roshan Behdast this morning was similar to the 2010 terrorist bomb attacks against the then university professor, Fereidoun Abbassi Davani - who is now the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization – and his colleague Majid Shahriari.

(c) Israeli Source: Assassination of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Joint Mossad-MEK Operation“, Richard Silverstein, 10 January 2012 — Excerpt:

My own confidential Israeli source confirms today’s murder was the work of the Mossad and MEK, as have been a number of previous operations I’ve reported here.

The US government designates the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (aka People’s Mujahedin of Iran, MEK) as a terrorist organization (see the list as of 11 September 2011).  Chapter One in this series examines evidence of US support for MEK.

(d)  Update:  Iran obeys the UN Charter, taking this matter to the Security Council.  If their complaint is ignore, they retain the right to self-defense.

From a letter from Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee to the Security Council (from Reuters):

{He asked the Council} to “to condemn, in the strongest terms, these inhumane terrorist acts and to take effective steps towards elimination of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. … Any kind of political and economic pressures or terrorist attacks targeting the Iranian nuclear scientists, could not prevent our nation in exercising this right” to pursue its nuclear program.

(2)  Again, as we did with Iraq, we’ve unknowingly taken the critical step towards war

Perhaps the most insightful article yet about our conflict with Iran: “Obama’s Counterproductive New Iran Sanctions“, Suzanne Maloney (Brookings Institution), Foreign Affairs, January 2012 — “How Washington is Sliding Toward Regime Change” — Excerpt:

The Obama administration’s new sanctions signal the demise of the paradigm that had guided U.S. Iran policymaking since the 1979 revolution: the combination of pressure and persuasion. Moreover, the decision to outlaw contact with Iran’s central bank puts the United States’ tactics and its long-standing objective – a negotiated end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions — fundamentally at odds. Indeed, the United States cannot hope to bargain with a country whose economy it is trying to disrupt and destroy. As severe sanctions devastate Iran’s economy, Tehran will surely be encouraged to double down on its quest for the ultimate deterrent. So, the White House’s embrace of open-ended pressure means that it has backed itself into a policy of regime change, something Washington has little ability to influence.

… Lest Washington forgets, the Islamic Republic has endured more draconian economic pressures in the past. Despite its phenomenal petroleum resources, rarely in its 32-year history has the Islamic Republic been flush. During the height of its war with Iraq, Iran’s annual oil revenues fell under $6 billion — less than ten percent of its 2010 take. Skyrocketing income from oil sales over the last decade has been a welcome anomaly for Iran’s revolutionaries, but it is hardly certain that constricting that spigot will doom the regime, much less force it to capitulate on the nuclear issue. Tehran remains confident in its ability to adopt austerity as needed. In fact, blaming an international bogeyman will offer convenient cover for the regime’s own economic mismanagement.

… The more Washington corners Tehran, the higher the value of a nuclear deterrent becomes in the eyes of the leadership.

… What needs to be addressed is the disturbing reality that the Obama administration’s approach offers no viable endgame for dealing with Iran’s current leadership. The impression that the sanctions are permanent — indeed, the new law does not specify any conditions that Tehran might satisfy in order to lift the siege on its central bank — conforms to Iranian hard-liners’ darkest delusions about Washington’s intentions. By embracing maximalist measures, the White House has come full circle, abandoning, along the way, its earlier optimistic efforts at engagement. In doing so, it has implicitly relinquished the prospect of negotiating with the Islamic regime: given the ayatollahs’ innate mistrust of the West, they cannot be nudged into a constructive negotiating process by measures that exacerbate their vulnerability.

More evidence:  a Kinsey gaffe (inappropriately stating the truth) by an anonymous government official speaking to the Washington Post (later disappeared from the story):

The goal of U.S. and other sanctions against Iran is regime collapse, a senior U.S. intelligence official said, offering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is at least as intent on unseating Iran’s government as it is on engaging with it. The official, speaking this week on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the administration hopes that sanctions “create enough hate and discontent at the street level” that Iranians will turn against their government.

(3)  Can we take out Iran’s nuke facilities?  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs answers.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, interviewed by Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation“, CBS, 8 January 2012:

BOB SCHIEFFER: General, how hard would it be to take out their nuclear capability, if in fact we decided to do that — this is not just going in there and dropping one bomb on one building.

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Well, I’d rather not discuss the degree of difficulty and in any way encourage them to read anything into that. But I will say that our — my — responsibility is to encourage the right degree of planning, to understand the risks associated with any kind of military option — in some cases to position assets, to provide those options on — in a timely fashion. And all those activities are going on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Could we, if we had to, without using nuclear weapons ourselves, take out their nuclear capability?

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Well, I certainly want them to believe that that’s the case.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, is it?

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: I absolutely want them to believe that that’s the case.

No bold assurances by the General. Nothing here to terrify the Iranian government, or embolden our war-mad hawks.  Especially since a minute before on this show SecDef Panetta said

“Are they {Iran} trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. “

(4)  What are the likely results of our conflict?

(a)  Legality of our attacks on Iran

The US and Israel are waging a low-intensity undeclared war in violation of the UN Charter, which both have signed. For details see About the escalating conflict with Iran (not *yet* open war).  This undermines what might be the greatest of our accomplishments from WWII, taking the first steps towards a world governed by law instead of force.  From Chapter VII, article 51 (primarily written by the US) states:

The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security. (article 39)

Covert attacks (even the pretend covert attacks in progress now) and economic warfare (the sanctions bill now in Congress) are clear violations of the charter.  However, the Charter gives Iran no recourse but appeal to the Security Council.  Our veto makes an effective action there almost impossible.  Hence they have, legitimately, responded by threats of future action.

(b)  About Iran’s options if we attack

If we escalate, attacking Iran with armed force, the Charter allows Iran to respond in full (limited only by the treaties it signed about the laws of war, which the US has often ignored):

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations … (article 51)

(c)  Can Iran defend itself?

Section 7 below provides links to a wide range of excellent articles discussing the relative strengths of US-Israel and Iran.  We know the results of one simulation, which suggests that Iran has the ability to challenge the US Navy — something considered impossible by the faux warriors screaming for war.  For details see An autopsy of the 2002 Millennium Challenge war games.

(d)  Effects of this conflict on the global geopolitical order

Our sequence of attacks (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) have convinced some large but unknown fraction of the world’s Moslems that the US has become an enemy of Islam.  This might have massive if incalculable long-term effects.

Two of those were against leaders with whom we had cooperated in the past (eg, Iraq, and Libya) suggesting that we’re an unreliable ally, even by the loose standards of nations.  Our sudden switch from strong ally to weakly opposing Egypt’s regime also supports this belief.

Economic sanctions will have wide effects.  If the West does not buy Iran’s oil, Iran must cut its price and sell it to Asia.  Cheaper oil for China!  Also, the sanctions will hurt Iran’s trading partners.  For example:  “Iran sanctions bode ill for Turkey’s economy“, Hurriyet Daily News, 6 January 2012.

Our use of the world’s US-centric banking system as an economic weapon will drive creation of alternative mechanisms.  Probably centered on Asia, such as Singapore or (more likely) Hong Kong.  This would substantially decrease the hegemonic authority of the US.  Similar motives contributed to the development of the eurodollar market, moving much of the world’s money traffic from New York to London.

(e)  Conclusions

Our conflict with Iran has inflicted serious damage on Iran, but also has costs for the US.  As previous chapters have shown, the conflict rests mostly on lies and fears.  The hawks (none dare be so politically incorrect to call them warmongers) running US foreign policy have foreclosed all options but war, running an intense and long-term propaganda campaign to build support for a US attack on Iran.

We can only guess at the results.  Our expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq have proven expensive beyond any initial estimate — and produced (at best) zero benefits for America.  A war with Iran, in most ways a larger and more formidable power than our other targets, might have costs and effects far more severe.

Our motto for the past decade has been “give war a chance.”  There are other paths for America, ones far more likely to lead to a better future.

(5)  The winners so far:  Turkey and Iran

Turkey and Iran carve up a ruptured Arab world“, Jason Pack (doctoral candidate in history, Cambridge) and Martin van Creveld, Christian Science Monitor, 6 January 2012 — “Many analysts say the Middle East is the focus of a geopolitical power struggle between the United States and Iran. That misses the primary thread of events – namely, the ongoing soft partition of the Arab republics between Turkey and Iran, with Turkey the stronger power.”

During the last decade many right-wing American and Israeli analysts have described the geostrategic struggles unfolding in the Middle East as a new “cold war” pitting the US against Shiite Iran. They have warned of an Arab “Shiite crescent” – stretching from Lebanon to Iraq – connected to Iran via ties of religion, commerce, and geostrategy.

… What this view of the Middle East overlooks is the fact that both the US and Iran are mired in internal political and economic difficulties. Simultaneously, inside the region, both are being outmaneuvered by an ascendant Turkey.

Moreover, Western observers have missed the primary thread of events – namely, the ongoing asymmetric Turkish-Iranian soft partition of the Arab republics. Concomitantly, the American position as regional hegemon is vanishing. Today, only the Arab monarchies and Israel continue to look to the US as their primary patron.

To investigate how these changing dynamics are seen by actors within the region, Mr. Pack spent his Christmas holidays in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq.

… Throughout 2011, the continued Western obsession with the Iranian nuclear menace prevented policymakers from grasping the most salient dynamics at play in the new Middle East. Those who, like Mohammed Ayoob, have warned that “Beyond the Arab Democratic Wave” lies a “Turko-Persian Future” have been mostly ignored.

The Arab Spring has vastly weakened the Arab states, leaving them open to fragmentation, increased federalism, and outside penetration. With hindsight, 2011 may come to represent as sharp a rupture in the political landscape of the Middle East as 1919 did.

(6)  Other posts in this series:

  1. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)?, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran, including aid to terrorists
  2. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
  3. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 2 January 2010 — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984
  4. About the escalating conflict with Iran (not *yet* open war), 4 January 2012
  5. Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel?, 5 January 2012 — No, but it’s established as fact by repetition
  6. What do we know about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?, 6 January 2012 — US intelligence officials are clear:  not as much as the news media implies
  7. What does the IAEA know about Iran’s nuclear program?, 9 January 2012 — Their reports bear little resemblance to reports in the news media
  8. What happens when a nation gets nukes?  Sixty years of history suggests an answer., 10 January 2012
  9. What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told., 11 January 2012
  10. Status report on the already-hot conflict with Iran – and the looming war, 12 January 2012
  11. Continuity and dysfunctionality in US foreign policy (lessons for our conflict with Iran), 13 January 2012 — Insights about today from Cold War strategist Colin Grey
  12. What the conflict with Iran teaches us about modern State-to-State war, 16 January 2012
  13. Has Iran won a round vs. the US-Israel?, 17 January 2012
  14. Is Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists Terrorism?, 19 January 2012

(7)  For more information: articles discussing the current conflict between Iran and US-Israel

(a)  Shilling for war with Iran!

  1. Time to Attack Iran – Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option“, Matthew Kroenig, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012
  2. Devastating rebuttal: “The worst case for war with Iran“, Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 21 December 2011
  3. Building on Walt’s rebuttal:  “Worst-Casing and Best-Casing Iran“, Paul R. Pillar (former National Intelligence Officer), The National Interest, 22 December 2011
  4. A brilliant analysis explaining why logic is futile in a nation with a broken OODA loop:  “Walt Still Doesn’t Get It (Iran)“, Bernard Finel, 3 January 2012

(b)  Articles about the very visible “covert” war with Iran

  1. Haaretz gives “A timeline of explosions that killed Iranian scientists and blasts that rocked Iranian nuclear facilities from 12 January 2010 to 11 January 2012
  2. About one of the many suspicious explosions in Iran:  “Was Israel Behind a Deadly Explosion at an Iranian Missile Base?“, TIME, 13 November 2011
  3. Iran Is Threatening to Block the Strait of Hormuz — Don’t Call Its Bluff“, Madison Schramm (Council on Foreign Relations), Huffington Post, 30 December 2011
  4. An example of US “beer goggles”: US aggression invisible, Iranian response aggressive — “Iran’s Dangerous Bluster over the Strait of Hormuz“, Joshua Tucker (Prof Politics, NYU), The Monkey Cage, 5 January 2012
  5. Who Is Killing Iran’s Nuclear Scientists?“, ABC News, 26 July 2011 — “A former senior intelligence official involved in efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program told ABC News that assassinations of top Iranian scientists were usually assumed to be the work of Israel, but that the Israelis would never confirm or admit responsibility.”
  6. Mossad Behind Tehran Assassinations, Says {Israeli} Source“, Der Spiegel, 2 August 2011
  7. Iran’s nuclear ambitions have already started a war with west – a covert one“, The Guardian, 3 November 2011 — “A secret campaign of surveillance, sabotage, cyberattacks and assassinations has slowed but not stopped Tehran’s programme”
  8. Iran nuclear scientist’s death followed Israeli warning of ‘unnatural’ events“, The Guardian, 11 January 2012 — “Killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and Israeli military chief’s words combine to revive speculation about covert war”
  9. Recommended: More murder of Iranian scientists: still terrorism?“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 11 January 2012.
  10. Recommended:Iran and the Terrorism game“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 12 January 2012
  11. What if the Iranians start killing scientists?“, op-ed in Haaretz, Avner Cohen (Prof at California’s Monterey Institute of International Studies), 16 January 2012 — “The next phase of the assassination war is liable to turn international scientific conferences into arenas of assassination”

(c)  Articles about military conflict with Iran

  1. Closing Time: Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz“, Caitlin Talmadge (Asst Prof of Political Science at George Washington U), International Security, Summer 2008
  2. As Iran Tests Missile Fleet, Experts Map High-Tech Israeli Attack“, Popular Mechanics, 9 July 2008
  3. “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, David Albright, Paul Brannan and Jacqueline Shire, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), 7 August 2008, 15 pages — Here is the link, 2.2 meg PDF.  About the ISIS.
  4. Observing the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group“, Galrahn at Information Dissemination (a professional navy centric blog), 26 August 2008 — At the end is an analysis of land forces (esp Marines) needed to secure the Straits of Hormuz during a war with Iran.  The best I have seen on the subject.
  5. Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities“, Anthony H. Cordesman and Abdullah Toukan, Center for Strategic & International Studies, 16 March 2009

(d) Articles about the economic and diplomatic dimensions of the conflict with Iran

  1. There is an alternative to war: “The Iranian Challenge“, Trita Parsi, The Nation, 1 November 2007 — “Steps toward a sane relationship between the US and Iran.”
  2. The Future of Gulf Security in a Region of Dramatic Change – Mutual Equities and Enduring Relationships“, RAND, 2011
  3. Superlative analysis: “Why has the US not bombed Iran? The domestic politics of America’s response to Iran’s nuclear program“, Ido Oren — this is an earlier version of an article in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, December 2011
  4. Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?“, Juan Cole (Prof History, U MI), Informed Comment, 3 January 2012
  5. U.S. Sanctions One Factor Among Many Behind Iran’s Currency Slide“, Nader Habibi, World Politics Review, 4 January 2012
  6. Screws tighten on Iran as big buyers shun its oil“, Reuters, 5 January 2012
  7. The Unintended Consequences of an Oil Embargo on Iran“, Erik Voeten (Prof Geopolitics, Georgetown U), The Monkey Cage, 6 January 2012
  8. How Iran’s people see the conflict: mirror imaging US and Iranian relations, Carl Herman, George Washington’s blog, 9 January 2012
  9. Iranian Oil Embargo“, James Hamilton, Roubini Global Economics, 15 January 2012 — “As efforts continue to impose sanctions on Iran, I thought it would be helpful to discuss the possible implications of these developments for oil-consuming countries.”

(8)  Other posts about attacking Iran

For the full list see the FM Reference Page Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?

  1. Leaks about a possible strike at Iran (this is a hot issue), 7 July 2008 — Leaks of concerns about the effectiveness of a strike by Israel, and the consequences.
  2. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008
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30 Comments leave one →
  1. mike j permalink
    12 January 2012 1:42 am

    Even in the best of circumstances, what does the US get out of this “special relationship” with Israel? Whatever that may be, could it ever be worth a war?

    Like

    • 12 January 2012 2:06 am

      A great question. Can anyone suggest an answer?

      Like

    • Robin permalink
      12 January 2012 2:42 am

      What benefit can be gained by inserting your opinion in a family squabble? Ishmael (Islam) was the ilegitamate son of Abraham (Judaism). The answer is for the world community to insist that religious/ regional arguments be settled in a structural Hague -like setting with Rabbis and Mullahs.

      Like

    • 12 January 2012 12:32 pm

      In short, i think that the geopolitical benefits which the USA gains out of the “special relations” with Israel are the following: Israel is a kind of gigantic American base in the middle of the Middle East, and a base which
      a) not bearing the official US brand, can fight, lose military personnel on the field, kill civilians without electoral consequences, and make dirty work without accountability for US political personnel
      b) keeps the surrounding countries’ governments – especially the US allies in the region – weak with its mere existence: not being able to destroy Israel, those governments permanently show their peoples that they have not real sovereignty, forcing them to find permanent support in American goodwill to survive (as we all could easily see in the recent “Arab Spring”).
      c) can get invaluable Humint intelligence, because Jews and Arabs are both semitic peoples, sharing looks, languages, way of living, etc.

      All those benefits have, of course, their collateral damages for the USA, very well argumented in Professors Walt and Mearsheimer’s widely known essay.

      Ideologically, the “special relations” with Israel have an unvaluable benefit for the United States of America, the following.
      The American Empire legitimates itself and its global ambitions by its victory on Fascism in WWII. In the mainstream media, Fascism (a political and cultural phenomenon which had many different expressions, facets, etc.) has been identified with Nazism, whose most despicable and unacceptable feat has been the Endlosung, the extermination of the Jews.

      To cut it short, the American Empire says: “We are legitimated to be police, jury and executioner for the whole world because if we refrained from our historical and moral mission, then somewhere else the phantom of Fascism would resurrect, and Jews and/or other minorities (religious, sexual, national, political, etc.) would be exterminated. In so doing, we simply continue to enforce the historical and moral role we took in WWII. You want evidence for all that? Look at our special relatonship with the State founded by the survivors of the Holocaust.”

      That’s what ideologically legitimates American military presence in Europe, too, 65 years after the end of WWII and 20 years after the collapse of USSR, and the morphing of OTAN into a rapid deployment force for the global ambitions of the American Empire. (By the way, the same happened to the Delian League after the second Greek victory on Persian Empire: it became a proxy for the Athenian democratic Empire, a fact which, according to Thucydides, was the main cause of the Peloponnesian War).
      What could happen, without American military bases in Europe? The ideological narrative of American Empire says:
      a) Europe, coming from Venus, would endlessly talk and wring her hands while the new Hitlers warm their ovens, and wouldn’t be able to protect the Jews and/or other minorities from another genocide
      b) or else, a new Hitler might reborn in Europe (and especially in its strongest country, Germany). So, Europe could become once more the monster which she was in XX century, and reorganize for another genocide of Jews and/or other minorities, plus another world war, etc.

      Please note, too, that in many European countries the law forbids to write and say anything about the Jewish genocide which does not completely agree with the official version. Being an impressive violation of a basic liberal and scientific principle, these legal measures show that the matter has great political value for the powers that be. That’s why the USA “hitlerizes” its enemies: Milosevic/Hitler, Saddam/Hitler, Ahmadinejad/Hitler, and so on. If USA’ enemies are Hitlers, then USA is still the saviour of the civilized, free world. Back to the future!

      Like

    • aguest permalink
      12 January 2012 2:35 pm

      Good remarks with which I generally agree, with one quibble and one ironic point.

      “Jews and Arabs are both semitic peoples, sharing looks, languages, way of living, etc.”

      In what sense do the Falashas from Ethiopia, or the Ashkenazis from Russia or France share “looks, languages and way of living” with those of the Arabs? Your remark may apply to Sephardis from Arabic countries — and even then, one would have to be careful about those with historically important Berber origins.

      “a) Europe, coming from Venus, would endlessly talk and wring her hands while the new Hitlers warm their ovens …
      b) or else, a new Hitler might reborn in Europe …”

      Which is contradictory and shows how flimsy that ideological narrative is — as your post already makes clear.

      Like

    • Alex permalink
      12 January 2012 6:51 pm

      US never fought a war for Israel and never will.
      Can US use “special relationship” mantra as a justification/excuse for the war against Iran? – Of course!

      Like

    • 13 January 2012 3:58 pm

      Stuxnet? That may have been developed by the US, perhaps jointly with Israel. It was an act of war against Iran.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      12 January 2012 9:39 pm

      Roberto offers a nice analysis and I’m sure it’s partly correct but I have a simpler theory that can also explain our actions.

      The state of Israel can leverage the large Jewish population in the US to have an out-sized impact on US policy through the voting process. This can be seen exclusively (but perhaps too simplisticly) as a manuever to gain votes in the US. War may not be the intended goal but may happen anyway.

      Like

  2. Marvin permalink
    12 January 2012 8:18 am

    The situation with Iran is a boon to TPTB. To distract us from troubles at home, a foreign war is always welcome. Classic.

    Like

    • North permalink
      12 January 2012 1:02 pm

      The negative synergy from this war is so high that even if the show temporarily suppress economic worries the medium and long term consequences will be terrible, and it will prevent US from implementing important transition.. very important transition. Get rid from the warmongering monkeys, they belong to different epoch.

      Like

  3. 12 January 2012 12:56 pm

    Another sign that the post world war 2 world is ending, the reemergence of the old power struggle between first the eastern roman empire and then the ottoman empire and Persia.

    Like

    • aguest permalink
      12 January 2012 2:25 pm

      Minor pedantic point: Persia (first the Parthian, then the Sassanid empire) and Rome (first the Republic, then the empire, then Byzantium) had been struggling against each other from 53 BC till 628 AD.

      Like

    • 12 January 2012 2:27 pm

      Pedantic points are always in order — even welcomed — on the FM website!

      Like

  4. 12 January 2012 2:55 pm

    Journalism and clear analysis can still be found in America. Such as at Glenn Greenwald’s column at Salon. Esp see today’s: “Iran and the Terrorism game“. I strongly recommend reading it, as he goes to the core of the mental blinders that distort our perception of the world — and make us so easy to rule.

    Like

  5. 12 January 2012 3:12 pm

    There are no limits to the extremes our war mongers will go to hide the truth from us. Today’s example, this tweat from Eli Lake (Newsweek‘s neocon national security “reporter”):

    “Another possibility re: assassination in #Iran, the regime could be eliminating someone they viewed as a spy.”

    He is not stupid. He believes that we are stupid. So far the evidence suggests that he is correct.

    “Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
    — Advice from Screwtape to his nephew, from chapter I of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942)

    Like

  6. 12 January 2012 5:23 pm

    Aguest wrote: “In what sense do the Falashas from Ethiopia, or the Ashkenazis from Russia or France share “looks, languages and way of living” with those of the Arabs? Your remark may apply to Sephardis from Arabic countries — and even then, one would have to be careful about those with historically important Berber origins.”

    Thank you for correcting this hasty statement of mine. Of course you are right. The point had to be better articulated and expressed, for example saying that living in the Middle East and fighting Arabs since the Forties, Israelis should be better intelligence operatives than Americans in that region.

    Like

  7. Alex permalink
    12 January 2012 6:41 pm

    There was nothing but joy on Iranian streets and formal disapproval at UN for the last 20 years of killing Israeli civilians as a result of terroristic attacks. I think appropriate reaction for these terroristic killing of Iranians would be formal disapproval at UN.

    Like

    • 13 January 2012 3:57 pm

      It’s not that simple. In fact, your comments are the kind of justification made for most wars — one reason the world’s history is little but a river of blood.

      • There is a difference between state-to-state violence and that of non-government groups.
      • There is a difference between governments’ actions and the “cheers” of people in the street.
      • Iran is not Sunni, not Palestinian, and not Arab — and so not a direct player in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

      Like

  8. Whirlwind permalink
    12 January 2012 6:42 pm

    Do we know how the other players in this match China and Russia will react?

    Like

    • 12 January 2012 8:02 pm

      Whirlwind — Great question. Unfortunately, no. We don’t know what China and Russia will do. Both have very small ruling elites, who have little need to build public support for their foreign manuvers. So our experts guess. Their track record suggests that their guesses are unreliable.

      Both have an interest in containing militant Islam, limiting nuke proliferation, AND reducing US influence in the Middle East. Which goal is stronger with respect to Iran’s nukes?

      Like

    • 12 January 2012 8:03 pm

      China defends Iran oil trade despite U.S. push“, Reuters, 11 January 2012 — Excerpt:

      China gave no hint on Wednesday of giving ground to U.S. demands to curb Iran’s oil revenues, rejecting Washington’s sanctions on Tehran as overstepping even as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner lobbied for Beijing’s support.

      … Iran is also an extremely big oil supplier to China, and we hope that China’s oil imports won’t be affected, because this is needed for our development,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told a news conference in answer to a question about whether Beijing could curtail crude from Iran under U.S. pressure.

      China is not giving into the sactions. I expect they’re going to say maybe, maybe, maybe forever and do nothing. And is Obama going to start sanctioning Chinese companies? I don’t think Obama wants to link East Asian issues with the Iran issue. That’s just too “world-war-3″-ish.

      If the sanctions continue but there’s no war, it’s possible China manages to get the Iranian oil trade all to themselves, and use it as a competive advantage. So many American companies manufacture in China, anyway, it’s likely that the iPhones and iPods will still be manufactured using energy that comes from Iran, even with an embargo.

      Like

  9. nikon permalink
    14 January 2012 5:24 pm

    US want arab nations like Egypt to adopt the Turkish government model: a secular democracy with a military junta in the background preventing any islamist from rising to power; However it looks like Arab nations will increasingly adopt the Iranian government model: islamic republic.

    Like

  10. Iran says it has evidence of CIA involvment in Iranian assassinations permalink
    15 January 2012 6:59 am

    Iran protests to US, UK governments“, Islamic Republic News Agency, 14 January 2012

    The Foreign Ministry in two separate letters strongly protested the US and the UK governments and underlined their clear role in assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan and called those two governments responsible for crimes against Iranian nuclear scientists.

    (Tehran) Iran sent another protest note to Switzerland embassy here in Tehran as interest office of the US government. In its letter Iran underlined that its diplomatic notes about existing documents on the US support for terrorist groups against Iran had been without answer or facing with the US government silence.

    It added that upon authentic documents and reliable information the operation had been executed with guideline, support and planning of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and with direct interference of the agency elements, which its direct responsibility is on shoulder of the US government.

    The letter underscored that Iran by condemning such inhuman act, is requesting prompt reply of the US government, and it strongly warns against the consequences of support for every kind of terrorist operation against Iranian citizens.

    Like

  11. Haaretz: "What if the Iranians start killing scientists?" permalink
    16 January 2012 4:53 pm

    What if the Iranians start killing scientists?“, op-ed in Haaretz, Avner Cohen, 16 January 2012 — “The next phase of the assassination war is liable to turn international scientific conferences into arenas of assassination” Conclusion:

    If there are assassinations on one side, it must be assumed that there will be assassination attempts on the other side too. If Iranian scientists are not immune, then neither are scientists from the countries suspected of carrying out the assassinations. While Iranian officials had previously pointedly refrained from accusing any particular country, within hours of the attack this time, the government in Tehran and the Iranian media named Israel and the United States as the responsible parties, and promised revenge.

    Israel may have rejoiced at the news of the hit, but let's consider how senior members of Israel's scientific community, especially the nuclear scientists, would view the assassination of scientists on the faculties of well-known academic institutions. (Most of the senior scientists in Iran's nuclear program also have academic posts. ) They would probably have reservations about the wisdom of expanding the shadow war to the scientific community.

    Anyone who legitimizes the assassination of scientists in Tehran jeopardizes the personal security of scientists on the other side. The next phase of the assassination war is liable to turn international scientific conferences into arenas of assassination.

    It is entirely possible that the damage caused by the assassinations far outweigh the benefits they bring.

    Avner Cohen is a professor at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, at California’s Monterey Institute of International Studies, and author of The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb.

    Like

  12. McCain sings: "'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of 'Barbara Ann' permalink
    16 January 2012 6:19 pm

    The voice of lawless ignorant jinoistic bloodlust: John McCain campaining for President at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina on 17 April 2007 — Asked by someone in the audience if McCain as President would bomb Iran, he began by giving new words to the Beach Boys song “Barbara Ann”: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran”.

    ABC News follow-up:

    McCain campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin points out that the Senator’s song was not serious and the people in the room were laughing. “He was just trying to add a little humor to the event.”

    McCain thinks war is funny. Or perhaps he thinks that bombing other nations, assuming they cannot hit us back, is funny.

    Like

  13. Editors of the New York post sing Bomb, bomb Iran permalink
    16 January 2012 6:30 pm

    The voice of lawless ignorant jinoistic bloodlust: “Bomb, bomb Iran“, Editorial of The New York Post, 15 January 2012:

    A motorcycle throttle was probably the last sound Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan ever heard, as two men on a bike attached a magnetic bomb to his car in Tehran last week. A director at the Natanz uranium-enrichment facility — Iran’s largest — Roshan was caught in traffic when unknown assassins did him in. Vroom, vroom — then boom.

    But Roshan is only the latest atomic scientist to be atomized. Back in November 2010, men on motorcycles attached bombs to two cars in Tehran, killing one nuke engineer and injuring a physicist. And last November a huge blast killed 30 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including a senior general believed to be the architect of Iran’s missile program. Later that month, a massive blast was reported — and then covered up — at the uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan

    … Still, whoever’s behind it, we certainly hope they keep it up. If Iran’s nuclear scientists are learning to fear the sound of a gunning motorcycle, all to the good. And if they’re beginning to look for new lines of work, even better.

    These journalist forgot to mention that this is terrorism. They forgot to mention the dead bystanders in these assassinations. Or that these hits violate the UN Charter, one of the great results of WWII — for which the US labored so long and hard. Nor do they mention the consequences if Iran strikes back — as is their right — to these armed attacks.

    Like

  14. Rick Santorum: Killing foreign Scientists is A "Wonderful Thing" permalink
    16 January 2012 7:23 pm

    The voice of lawless ignorant jinoistic bloodlust: Rick Santorum campaigning for the Presidency of the United States of America in Greenville, South Carolina on 25 October 2011 (supposedly the favorite of some calling themselves “evangelicals”):

    “On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”

    Like

  15. 17 January 2012 4:33 am

    Iranian Oil Embargo“, James Hamilton, Roubini Global Economics, 15 January 2012 — “As efforts continue to impose sanctions on Iran, I thought it would be helpful to discuss the possible implications of these developments for oil-consuming countries.”

    Like

  16. Reuters: "India, Iran to settle some oil trade in rupees" permalink
    21 January 2012 11:20 pm

    Update — one of the painful consequences of the conflict with Iran starts to appear

    From the post:

    Result #4 – Our use of the world’s US-centric banking system as an economic weapon will drive creation of alternative mechanisms.

    India, Iran to settle some oil trade in rupees“, Reuters, 20 January 2012

    India and Iran have agreed to settle some of their $12 billion annual oil trade in rupees, a government source said on Friday, resorting to the restricted currency after more than a year of payment problems in the face of fresh, tougher U.S. sanctions.

    India, the world’s fourth-largest oil consumer, relies on Iran for about 12 percent of its imports or 350,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) and is Tehran’s second-biggest oil client after China.

    Like

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