Tag Archives: iran

Martin van Creveld asks: the more, the better for nuclear proliferation?

Summary:  For over a decade the US and Israel have scared us with stories about the imminent threat of Iran’s nukes, a louder version of a game they’ve played since 1984. Here Martin van Creveld gives a very different view of the problem.  (1st of 2 posts today.}

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken! Art by lchappell

 

More May Be Better

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 2 April 2015

Here with his generous permission

 

Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May be Better was the title of an article published back in 1981 by the redoubtable political scientist Kenneth Waltz. Going against the prevailing wisdom, Waltz argued that nuclear proliferation might not be all bad. Nuclear weapons, he wrote, had prevented the US and the USSR from going to war against each other; as, by all historical logic since the days of Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BC, they should have done. Instead they circled each other like dogs, occasionally barking and baring their teeth but never actually biting. Such was the fear the weapons inspired that other nuclear countries would probably follow suit.

To quote Winston Churchill, peace might be the sturdy child of terror.

Since then over thirty years have passed. Though Waltz himself died in 2013, his light goes marching on. At the time he published his article there were just five nuclear countries (the US, the USSR, Britain, France, and China). Plus one, Israel, which had the bomb but put anybody who dared say so in jail. Since then three (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) have been added, raising the total to nine. Yet on no occasion did any of these states fight a major war against any other major, read nuclear, power.

And how about Iran? First, note that no country has taken nearly as long as Iran did to develop its nuclear program. Started during the 1970s under the Shah, suspended during the 1980s as the Iranians were fighting Saddam Hussein (who had invaded Iran), and renewed in the early 1990s, that program has still not borne fruit. This suggests that, when the Iranians say, as they repeatedly have, that they do not want to build a bomb they are sincere, at least up to a point. All they want is the infrastructure that will enable them to build it quickly should the need arise. That is a desire they have in common with quite some other countries such as Sweden, Japan, and Australia.

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Do thousands of Saudi deserters show the Kingdom to be a house of cards?

Summary: One of the big themes of the FM website is that we can better learn about our world, which I consider a vital skill for 21st century citizens swimming in a sea of propaganda. Today’s post gives a fun case study from the current news, showing how for the unwary the information superhighway acts like a children’s game of “telephone”.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Spoiler of the conclusion: Fox News is the model for news in America.

The government doesn’t have one, so we built our own.

Ministry of Truth

 

Contents

  1. Why do a forensic analysis of news?
  2. Today’s hot story
  3. Conclusion
  4. For More Information

(1)  Why do a forensic analysis of news?

Following a story back to its source reveals so much about us and America. It shows how we have become so easily manipulated, and how the information superhighway doesn’t help the credulous as much as it does propagandists and businesses. In the last section you’ll find links to more forensic analysis of the news.

(2)  Forensic analysis of today’s hot story

(a)  The Fars News Agency (Iran’s semi-official news source) publishes a typical bit of propaganda. It’s useful for them. We cannot tell if it’s 100% true or false. But then few of us read Fars. “Thousands of Saudi Forces Flee Bases“, 26 April 2015. We’ll consider this the primary source (i.e., we don’t know if this is invented or reporting).

This “news” story supports a hot theory that the Saudi Princes run a house of cards that might quickly collapse.  For examples see “Saudi Arabia Plunges into an Abyss” by John Robb (Global Guerrillas, 15 January 2015) and “Will Saudi Arabia survive the Yemen War?” by Pat Lang (Colonel, US Special Forces, retired). Full disclosure: I consider Robb and Land to be serious people, but their analysis strikes me as a few steps beyond speculative.

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Machiavelli warns us against listening to Iran’s exiled terrorists

Summary:  Our foreign policy consists largely of repeating mistakes from the past. This post examines two example — one from a decade ago, one from today — along with a comment by Machiavelli chastising our folly. This is the 2nd of 3 posts today about our FAILure to learn, each with a lesson from the past that we have ignored to great cost. If American’s leaders won’t learn, its citizens can.

Amnesia: the dark descent
For an individual or people to profit from experience it must be remembered (avoid anterograde amnesia). Greatness for a nation requires learning from history (avoid retrograde amnesia). We seem to have both kinds of amnesia. We live in the now, playing on the information highway.  We have the ability to do better. Remember our past; every day is a teachable moment.

Our leaders’ refusal to learn

This post gives another example of our leaders’ fascination with failed tactics: helping anti-American insurgents to overthrow regimes of our rivals. We’ve repeatedly done so since President Carter authorized Operation Cyclone, helping set the Middle East aflame by overthrowing secular regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and (in progress) Syria — all replaced by jihadists. Future historians will think us mad.

A key part of this strategy has been listening to the siren songs of exiles. Such as Ahmed Chalabi, who sold Bush a fabric of lies about how easily he could govern Iraq as our puppet once we gave it to him. We held Iraq for 8 years before its government forced Bush to sign a Status of Forces agreement that booted us out.

Since we do not learn from experience (or even remember it) Congress prepares to respectfully listen to Maryam Rajavi, a co-leader of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group on the State Department’s list of terrorist groups from 1997 to 2012 — removed after a multi-million dollar program of payments to influential DC figures (the free market in selling America) despite its history of anti-Americanism and (of course) terrorism. She’ll urge Congress to overthrow Iran’s elected government — again. Its people still hate us for doing so in 1953, and installing a tyrant. Will doing so a second time win any friends in Iran or elsewhere?

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What is Iran’s 9-point plan to destroy Israel?

Summary:  As Obama’s deal with Iran comes home for review it’s important to understand not just how we see Iran (inaccurately), but why. Here’s a case study of the news given us. It’s from a leading Israeli newspaper, but that’s where so much of our perspective on Iran originates. As you read it please remember that we can do better.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

War between Israel and Iran

Iran supreme leader touts 9-point plan to destroy Israel

Ayatollah Khamenei says West Bank should be armed like Gaza, and
Jewish population should return to countries it came from.

From the Times of Israel, 10 November 2014.

Quite horrific headlines from the Times of Israel. It’s the usual fare of course, showing us that Iran is the implacable irrational enemy. I wonder how many people read the article (it’s an oddity of the western press that the story’s text so often contradicts the headline, understandable when you remember that the headline must sell the papers). The opening:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called over the weekend for the destruction of Israel, stating that the “barbaric” Jewish state “has no cure but to be annihilated.”

So what means does he recommend to destroy Israel? Nukes? Terrorism? Jihad?  The article refers us to a tweet.

Tweet  from Iran

Iran's 9 negotiating points

What are the horrific actions he recommends that justifies our bombing Iran as a follow-up to our cyberattacks, economic sanctions, and Israel’s assassinations of their scientists?

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A guide to the players in the Middle East’s newest war – in Yemen

Summary:  US Middle East policy has been captured by our regional “allies”, Israel and the Saudi Princes — who work in a de facto alliance to control the region — against Iran — using the US as their puppet. Dancing to their tunes has stripped our geopolitical policies not just of coherence but even rationality. Our interventions after 9/11 were stupidity on an unusual scale. Now we’re repeating these mistakes in any even odder way. It’s unlikely to end well for us. As for the other players, it’s too soon to say who will benefit from these wars.  {2nd of 2 posts today}

“Hegel says somewhere that all great historic facts and personages occur twice, so to speak. He forgot to add: ‘Once as tragedy, and again as farce.’”
— Opening line to Karl Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1869).

War in the Middle East

Contents

  1. Listening to exiles gives bad results.
  2. The chaos of US policy in Yemen.
  3. The goals of the Saudi Princes.
  4. Uncovering the Hidden Agenda in Yemen.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  Listening to exiles gives bad results

Let’s start with Yemen’s exiled President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, telling us in a NYT op-ed that “The Houthis Must Be Stopped“. It’s the usual pitch from an exiled leader, as deceptive as the assurances we received from Ahmed Chalabi before invading Iraq. Niccolò Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (circa 1517) warns us about the risks of listening to such people. Unfortunately, we don’t learn from experience.

We see, then, how vain the faith and promises of men who are exiles from their own country.  As to their faith, we have to bear in mind that, whenever they can return to their own country by other means than your assistance, they will abandon you and look to the other means, regardless of their promises to you.

And as to their vain hopes and promises, such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe, they will fill you with hopes to that degree that if you attempt to act upon them you will incur a fruitless expense, or engage in an undertaking that will involve you in ruin.

… A prince therefore should be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury.

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Obama’s great deal with Iran: getting Iran’s “yes” was the easy part.

Summary: Obama takes a second step to greatness with his proposed deal with Iran. It’s a sensible step towards peace and hence arouses passionate opposition in America, largely on delusional grounds. How this plays out will reveal much about our future. If we cannot push back our extremists for something so obviously beneficial, then short-selling America looks like a good bet.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Celebration in Tehran after nuke deal announced (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP).

Celebration in Tehran after nuke deal announced (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP).

Contents

  1. The big picture.
  2. First, the key thing to know.
  3. About the deal.
  4. Voices raised against the deal.
  5. Updating my prediction.
  6. For More Information.

 

(1)  The big picture

A deal with Iran might be a second major accomplishment by President Obama, ending four decades of struggle with Iran — a conflict that Obama has pushed to undeclared war, as the US and Israel have assassinated Iran’s scientists and staged the first “electronic Pearl Harbor” with Stuxnet. It’s an accomplishment only if Obama can overcome the hawks that dominate US foreign policy. That includes the war-now-war-forever militarists plus the Israel-first-America-second lobby.

America tends not to esteem its peacemakers, but perhaps Obama’s surge into Afghanistan, attempted surge into Syria, widespread bombing (7 nations so far!), assassination of US citizens, and expansion of Africom will provide sufficient cover so we can cherish this great deed. If he can pull it off…

(2)  First, the key thing to remember

Since 1984 we’ve been told that Iran is about to have nukes really soon. Sobered by their craven bow to VP Cheney’s desires for fake certainty about Saddam’s nukes — and the resulting public humiliation — the US intel agencies have been clear about the lack of evidence that Iran has an illegal bomb program. Since this is America, our leaders just make stuff up — since we inflict no punishment (and even cheer if they’re in our tribe).

Defense One: “When a politician, analyst or pundit mentions an Iranian ‘nuclear weapons program’ they are referring to a program that the intelligence community is not aware of.”

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John Bolton reveals a serious threat to America

Summary: Since 9/11 our leaders have become increasingly militant, urging America to attack an even invade an ever-growing list of nations for flimsy or imaginary reasons. We’re powerful but not omnipotent. War is a game that cannot be played forever with painful consequences. Eventually we’ll attack someone (a nation or group) who either retaliates irrationally but severely, or we’ll spark growth of a coalition of nations determined to restrain our military adventures. Our leaders work to make such disasters happen. A little bad luck and they will get their way.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Flames

An op-ed in today’s New York Times shows what might be the greatest threat to America: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” by John R. Bolton. It’s another volley in the well-funded multi-decade propaganda campaign to involve America in an endless series of foreign wars, a program that no series of failures and revealed lies can derail. Let’s review the high points.

… the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking. Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.

Bolton’s acknowledgement that there is no proof is the only fact in this essay. He offers no evidence of the “widespread acknowledgement” about the 2007 NIE. Bolton’s statement about Clapper’s testimony is incorrect since he does not say that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program”, let alone that it’s “progressing” (international agreements allow Iran — like other nations — to have a civilian nuclear program). Clapper said:

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