Posts Tagged ‘peace’

War with Iran or Not?

War with Iran or Not?

by Jack A. Smith / February 28th, 2012

What’s the Obama Administration’s latest position on the possibility of an attack on Iran? It seems to be in flux.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says there is a “strong possibility” that Israel will attack Iran in either April, May, or June, according to the Washington Post earlier this month. The purpose would be to destroy Iran’s alleged building of a nuclear weapon.

The Tehran government vociferously denies it is constructing such a weapon, and can provide strong support for its position from persuasive American sources.

Commenting Feb. 25 on the earlier Panetta report, an Associated Press dispatch declared: “An Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites could draw the U.S. into a new Middle East conflict, a prospect dreaded by a war-weary Pentagon wary of new entanglements.

“That could mean pressing into service the top tier of American firepower — warplanes, warships, special operations forces and possibly airborne infantry — with unpredictable outcomes in one of the world’s most volatile regions.”

The U.S. and Israel are in daily communication about the matter. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak — who has been issuing contradictory “yes” and “no” statements recently — is supposed to meet with Panetta in the Pentagon Feb. 29. President Barack Obama is scheduled hold discussions with warhawk Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 5.

In the midst of this gathering war talk, however, there are indications that Washington may be growing more cautious for several possible reasons. For instance:

• The U.S. may wish to avoid a serious escalation involving an Israeli bombing attack on Iran that could lead to an all out war, which would be most inconvenient during an election year.
• Washington may be hesitant to get any deeper into a potential Iran quagmire at a time when Afghanistan is blowing up in its face, and while the Obama Administration is involved in ousting the Assad regime in Damascus.
• The White House may well consider strong sanctions to be sufficient to achieve its objectives.

In any event, President Obama knows very well that Iran is not building a nuclear weapon. The U.S. has been aware of this fact for years.

The New York Times published a relatively sensational front page article Feb. 25 about Iran and the bomb based on information that has been publicly known for five years, but about which most Americans know very little because it was downplayed or ignored by mainstream media. There had to be a particular reason for updating and featuring the information now.

The Times‘ headline read: “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” Since the Iranian “threat” is based upon the premise Tehran is constructing a nuclear weapon, this is obviously big news for the broader American and international public, though the American left and alternative media have commented on it for years. The article disclosed:

“American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”

The article also reported on some extraordinary statements made in the last few weeks by Obama Administration officials:

“In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.

“’They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,’ Mr. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.”

Published in the same issue of the Times was a new statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is producing additional nuclear fuel inside a deep underground site — a fact that Israel and other opponents of the Tehran regime claim is a prelude to creating a weapon with which to threaten Israel.

There was no proof, however, that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Given the immense U.S. and Israeli spying apparatus inside Iran, as well as America’s considerable surveillance abilities — from spy satellites to drone flights and probable access to every telephone call and Internet message in Iran — it is telling that no evidence has been collected to verify the bomb-making charges.

Iran insists it is not producing or about to produce nuclear weapons, and maintains that its nuclear power program is essentially in compliance with the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Israel is known to possess at least 200 nuclear weapons and delivery systems while ignoring the treaty.

Former IAEA leader Mohamed ElBaradei declared in 2009: “I don’t believe the Iranians have made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon, but they are absolutely determined to have the technology because they believe it brings you power, prestige and an insurance policy.”

Kenneth C. Brill, a former United States ambassador to the IAEA and ex-intelligence official, told the Times: “I think the Iranians want the capability, but not a stockpile.” He recalled that “The Indians were a screwdriver turn away from having a bomb for many years. The Iranians are not that close.”

Speaking of India, the U.S. is on exceptionally close terms with the three countries in possession of large nuclear arsenals that have thumbed their noses at the NonProliferation Treaty — Israel, Pakistan and India — even to the point of assisting them to maintain and update their weaponry.

The Times also reported that intelligence officials and outside analysts have speculated that “Iran could be seeking to enhance its influence in the region by creating what some analysts call ‘strategic ambiguity.’ Rather than building a bomb now, Iran may want to increase its power by sowing doubt among other nations about its nuclear ambitions.”

The fact that the Times decided to publish a front page article primarily based on dated information that at one time was disparaged by the Bush Administration and minimized by the Obama Administration, is a story in itself. It evidently means that America’s ruling elite is leaning on the White House not to further escalate its antagonism toward Iran at least for now, when Afghanistan and other trouble spots are already intruding on President Obama’s election campaign.

Our view is that U.S. animosity toward Iran has nothing to do with Tehran’s alleged efforts to construct nuclear weapons. It is instead based on geopolitical considerations relating to Washington’s intention to exercise unimpeded domination of the Persian Gulf region, in which up to 40% of the world’s petroleum originates and is transported through the Gulf.

America has sought hegemony over the Middle East, and particularly the Persian Gulf, for several decades. When Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990 (incorrectly thinking allied Washington would approve), President George H.W. Bush believed President Saddam Hussein was making a grab for hegemony over a chunk of the Gulf and massively retaliated, crushing the country and imposing harsh sanctions for a dozen years.

One of the reasons President George W. Bush decided to invade still-crippled but oil-rich Iraq in 2003 was to seize U.S. control of the Gulf, thinking that a quick victory would pave the way for the U.S. to also topple the government in Iran. The Iraqi fightback and the subsequent stalemate destroyed Bush’s plans. Since Baghdad had long been Tehran’s main enemy, the only country to benefit from Bush’s neoconservative folly in Iraq was Iran. Interestingly, the Sunni Taliban, which took power in Afghanistan in 1995, hated Shi’ite Iran — and Bush II removed them as well, at least temporarily.

Iran is now the principal power within the Persian Gulf region. It is not using that power to threaten or attack a near neighbor (Saudi Arabia) or more distant neighbor (Israel). It also understands that if it ever went to war with either country the U.S. would use its might to destroy Iran. Tehran’s military is not large, and is primarily defensive in structure.

But as long as Tehran refuses to subordinate itself to imperial Washington it remains an obstacle to strategic American geopolitical ambitions. A main reason for the Obama Administration’s ever-tightening economic sanctions is to bring about regime-change in Iran to situate a client regime in Tehran. If this doesn’t work, the threat of military action is obviously implicit in President Obama’s mantra about “No option is off the table.”

Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter and a former editor of the Guardian (US) radical newsweekly. He may be reached Read other articles by Jack.




February 24th, 2012


The Knights Party

PO Box 2222

Harrison, Arkansas  72601

Reverend Thomas Robb, National Director of The Knights Party and pastor of the Christian Revival Center was shocked upon learning Wednesday afternoon that Harrison Mayor Jeff Crockett and Chris Ramsey, of the Harrison Convention & Visitors Bureau is blaming him for “the dark cloud”  hanging over Harrison.

The statement came in the form of a press release promoting the Nonviolence Youth Summit, to be held on Friday, June 24, at the Durand Center and sponsored by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission.

The organizers of this event are promoting it to be the First Ever Black History Program in Harrison! And quoting from Lisa Hudson of THV, Channel 11 in Little Rock the release states, “The biggest obstacle Harrison city officials say they have in overcoming a reputation of hate is the Ku Klux Klan. National director, Thomas Robb lives outside of town in a small community called Zinc. So small in fact, it doesn’t have its own post office and the majority of KKK material is mailed from a Harrison post office box.”  It appears that focusing on Rev. Robb was intended to damage his character and his 40 year standing in the community.

The press release states that the Nonviolent Youth Summit in Harrison will be “the first public step in repairing the City of Harrison’s tarnished, yet inaccurate, image of racism that is perceived throughout the state and start the journey toward the ultimate goal of a peaceful, stable, productive community where everyone feels not only safe, but welcome!”

Rev. Robb has noted, “Harrison is consistently ranked as one of the best places in Arkansas to live. work and raise children – far above cities of similar size such as Pine Bluff, Camden, Ed Dorado and Hope” and has more than doubled in population since he established his office in the area. Rev. Robb continued by stating, “contrary to the statement by event organizers, Harrison already is a peaceful, stable and productive community and will remain so unless event organizers successfully bring about the fundamental change they seek.”

Rev. Robb also has stated that he offers no apology for loving his people, and for defending the character of our fathers and mothers who created such a wonderful place to raise our children

Furnishing War With Iran at Any Cost

Furnishing War With Iran at Any Cost

by Ben Schreiner / February 20th, 2012

It took all of one hour after simultaneous attacks targeted Israeli diplomats on Monday in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Georgia for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to conclude his investigation.  As Netanyahu thundered with typical bravado: “Iran is behind these attacks.  It is the biggest exporter of terror in the world.”

And after a series of apparently premature explosions shook Bangkok on Tuesday—including the detonation of two grenades by an Iranian national—Israel once again laid blame firmly at the feet of Iran.  As Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated: “The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetuate terrorism.”

Yet, as the Mossad connected DEBKAfile reported, Israel remains “in the dark about the source or sources of the attacks on Israeli diplomats abroad and the investigations have a long way to go.”

Nonetheless, the series of attacks have been quickly (and quite cynically) seized upon by the war hawks, given that the attacks seemingly provide the latest justification for “taking out” Iran’s nuclear program.  As Yosef Kuperwasser, director general of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, warned, “If Iran dares to do things like this when it isn’t nuclear, just imagine what it would do when it is nuclear.”  (For an indication of the terror a nuclear Iran may sow, Kuperwasser might have added, one need look no further than the terror employed by the nuclear state of Israel.)

Predictably helping to inflame tensions, and largely rallying behind the unsubstantiated Israeli claims of Iranian culpability in the week’s attacks, has been the corporate media.  As the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl wrote of the New Delhi attacks: “That Iran would risk a strike in such a sensitive place suggest that its leaders are panicked.”

But the claims of a panicked and altogether irrational Iranian regime lashing out in some last act of desperation defy logic.  As Vijay Prashad asks: “Why would Iran conduct an attack on an Israeli diplomat in India, particularly as India is in the midst of trying to negotiate a delicate arrangement with Tehran to pay for Iranian oil?”

Indeed, for amidst tightening Western economic sanctions, India has moved to surpass China as the largest purchaser of Iranian crude.  And as the New York Times reported, India plans to deepen its economic ties to Iran by sending a large trade delegation to Tehran within weeks to “exploit opportunities created by American and European anti-nuclear sanctions.”

In fact, many in the West have begun to fret the effectiveness of a sanctions regime lacking the active participation of not only India, but China as well.  As the Times noted, there is also growing fear that “China could easily undermine the oil-sanctions effort.”  And according to the paper, the Partnership for a Secure America (a whose who of American imperialists past) is using the visit of Vice President Xi Jinping of China to further pressure China to crack down on Tehran.

The punitive and quite draconian sanctions, however, are already inflicting severe pain amongst ordinary Iranians.  According to Gallup, a staggering 48% of Iranians reported that there “were times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy food for their families.”

But starving an entire nation concerns the U.S. in the least.  We implement our foreign policy and furnish our wars whatever the cost.  For instance, when recently asked about the plight of Iranians under economic sanctions, hawkish Illinois Senator Mark Kirk replied, “It’s okay to take food out of the mouth of the citizens from a government that’s plotting an attack directly on American soil.”  (Reminiscent of when Madeleine Albright deemed 500,000 Iraqis dead from U.S. imposed sanctions “worth the cost.”)

Although in the wake of Monday’s attack, as the Christian Science Monitorreports, “India will likely be under substantial pressure to now weaken its ties to Iran.”  Needless to say, losing revenue from India is something Iran can ill afford.  And in the end, the Iranian regime may be “radical,” in the words of Ehud Barak, “but not totally crazy. They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process, and they understand reality.”

Given this, one cannot rule out the possibility that the resent attacks against Israeli diplomats were an Israeli false flag operation.  For the attacks just may serve to further isolate Iran economically, while also creating additional support for Israeli military intervention.  All of which is more than ample motive for a nation quite comfortable with employing terrorism as a means to an end.

And regardless if Israel really has gone “rogue” in its effort to orchestrate a pretext for a military strike, the U.S. will no doubt come to be enmeshed in the greater regional war a strike shall unleash.  But rest assured, for if it comes to this, the U.S. stands “ready today” to strike Tehran, as Vice Admiral Mark Fox, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet boasted to the media.

Also increasingly “ready today” for military confrontation is the American public.  The Monitor reports that nearly 50% of Americans say they would support bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities to stop its advancement toward the ability to build a bomb.  Unsurprisingly, a remarkable 64% think Iran is currently trying to build a bomb.  No evidence, of course, exists that they are.  But alas, truth is indeed the first casualty of war.

Thus, it is really no longer a matter of if the West shall come to strike Iran, but when.

The Middle East smolders, as the West readies to set it ablaze.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon. He may be reached at: Read other articles by Ben.

Iran Escalation: All the Elements for War Are Coming Together

Iran Escalation: All the Elements for War Are Coming Together

by Tom Burghardt / February 13th, 2012

With all the bluster of late in Western media that President Obama is assiduously working to “restrain” Israel from launching a preemptive attack on Iran, recent developments should put paid the lies of this dog-and-pony show.

Last Sunday during an interview with NBC News, the president made it clear that “all options” regarding plans for a joint U.S.-Israeli attack “are on the table.” Far from distancing his government from the strident rhetoric emanating from Tel Aviv, Obama added that the administration is working “in lockstep” with Israel to “prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Never mind that unlike Israel, which is estimated to possess upwards of 200 nuclear weapons, as a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Iran is perfectly within its rights under international law to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Indeed in December 2003, the Islamic Republic signed an additional protocol authorizing IAEA inspectors to make intrusive, snap inspections of their nuclear facilities and have expressed a willingness to negotiate an end to the Western-manufactured “standoff.”

In our Orwellian Empire, however, “diplomacy” is a convenient cover — and political talking point — for war and regime change. “Again,” Obama told NBC News, “our goal is to resolve this diplomatically. That would be preferable. We’re not going to take options off the table, though.”

The president followed-up his threats on Monday when he signed an executive order freezing “all Iranian government and financial institutions’ assets that are under U.S. jurisdiction,” Bloomberg News reported.

According to the White House, Obama took the additional step towards cratering Iran’s economy and cited “‘deceptive practices’ of the Iranian central bank in hiding transactions of sanctioned parties and its failure to prevent money laundering, concluding that Iran activities pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ to the international financial system.”

If only Obama’s “neocon-lite” regime had taken similar measures to rein-in the fraudulent and patently “deceptive practices” of the big Western capitalist financial firms that continue to pose an “unacceptable risk” to the economic and social well-being of the global proletariat!

Nigel Kushner, the CEO of the London-based Whale Rock Legal toldBloomberg that “the practical impact is less important than the message it sends to Iran.” The analyst went on to say that the new executive order is “a declaration of economic warfare, to the extent that it’s not already been declared,” Bloomberg averred.

Accordingly, the asset freeze blocks “all property and interests in property belonging to the Iranian government, its central bank, and all Iranian financial institutions, even those that haven’t been designated for sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department,” and is one more sign that “hope and change” fraudsters in Washington have taken these steps as deliberate provocations.

This is spelled out quite clearly by neocon Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the oxymoronic Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has rightly been described as the successor organization of the infamous Project for the New American Century.

Last summer, an exposé of the organization by Eli Clifton at Think Progressrevealed that FDD’s über-rich donors include individuals who, like Obama, march “in lockstep” with Israel’s Likud party.

According to Clifton’s research, FDD sugar daddies include: U.S. Healthcare CEO Leonard Abramson, the head of the Abramson Family Foundation ($822,000); Edgar M. and Charles Bronfman, heirs to the Seagram liquor fortune (($1,050,000); Home Depot cofounder Bernard Marcus ($600,000); mortgage backed securities “pioneer,” Lewis Rainieri ($350,000); “hedge fund mogul” Michael Steinhardt ($850,000) and Ameriquest owner and former Bush administration ambassador to the Netherlands, Roland Arnall ($1,802,000).

“Most of the major donors,” Clifton wrote, are active philanthropists to ‘pro-Israel’ causes both in the U.S. and internationally,” who “helped promote the ‘Bush doctrine’ which led to the invasion of Iraq” and are doing so today with the ginned-up crisis over Iran.

Dubowitz told Bloomberg that Obama’s new executive order was “the logical next step in the ‘administration’s economic war on the Iranian regime’.” He gloated that “freezing assets of Iran’s central bank and its government institutions, including the National Iranian Oil Company, makes them ‘subject to much tougher enforcement by the U.S. government and the global financial sector’.”

In response, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast toldTehran Times Tuesday, that “the issue of sanctions pursued by Western countries and U.S. officials is not a new issue. The issue… is regarded as a hostile measure and indicates that officials of Western countries, particularly the Americans, have not yet come to know our great nation.”

“If illogical pressure and inhumane methods are used to hinder the progress of the country and to prevent it from achieving its rights,” Mehmanparast said “they (countries that impose sanctions) will definitely not receive a pleasant response from our nation.”

Military Build-Up Accelerates

War is not pursued by economic means alone, however.

On the military front, Navy Times reported last week that the “essence” of a massive war game carried out along the U.S. east coast, “Bold Alligator 2012″ was “planning, staging and getting them here–and not a few platoons, not a Marine Expeditionary Unit but an entire Marine Expeditionary Brigade that could number upwards of 14,500 Marines and sailors.”

According to the right-wing Israeli publication Debkafile, the “Bold Alligator” drill “is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast.”

As part of the exercise, three Marine Corps gunship carriers that practiced an amphibious landing and attacked a “hostile” mechanized enemy division which had “invaded its neighbor.”

Practicing alongside their U.S. counterparts, “French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.”

Debkafile reported that “Bold Alligator” is “led by the USS Enterprise nuclear carrier with strike force alongside three amphibian helicopter carriers, the USS Wasp, the USS Boxer and the USS Kearsage.”

“On their decks,” the Israeli publication averred, “are 6,000 Marines, 25 fighter bombers and 65 strike and transport helicopters, mainly MV-22B Ospreys with their crews. Altogether 100 combat aircraft are involved.”

Coinciding with naval exercises currently underway in the Persian Gulf, when the “Bold Alligator” war games end, “the participants are to be shipped out to Persian Gulf positions opposite Iran. Altogether three American aircraft carrier strike groups, the French Charles de Gaulle carrier and four or five US Marines amphibian vessels will be posted there,” Debkafile’s military sources report.

As war drums beat louder, researcher Rick Rozoff at Stop NATO revealed that during a January 30 meeting, President Obama “met with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili in the Oval Office at the White House for an unprecedented private meeting between the heads of state, a tête-à-tête initiated by Washington.”

Rozoff reports that:

Obama had summoned the ambitious and erratic Georgian leader to Washington to propose a quid pro quo: The use of Georgian territory for American attacks on Iran in exchange for the U.S. exercising its not inconsiderable influence in Georgia–with a population of only 4.7 million the third largest recipient of American foreign aid–to assist in securing Saakashvili’s reelection in next year’s presidential poll.

The move was denounced by former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, “who was overthrown by Saakashvili’s self-styled Rose Revolution in 2003,” a U.S.-financed “civil society coup” that installed an American-educated puppet in power in Tbilisi. Shevardnadze warned, “I don’t rule out that to retain the [presidential] chair Saakashvili may join a military campaign against Iran, which would become a catastrophe for our country.”

“Georgian analysts and opposition party leaders seconded Shevardnadze’s suspicions, specifying that the Saakashvili regime would provide air bases and hospitals, of which a veritable proliferation have appeared in recent months, for such a war effort.”

“A Georgian opposition analyst estimated that 30 new 20-bed hospitals and medical clinics were opened last December and that new air and naval sites are being built and modernized, military air fields in Vaziani, Marneuli and Batumi most ominously,” Rozoff wrote.

Similarly, The Jerusalem Post, citing a piece that appeared Saturday in The Times, reported that Azerbaijan, which shares a long border with Iran, “is teeming with Mossad agents working to collect intelligence on the happenings within the Islamic Republic.”

“This is ground zero for our intelligence work,” an anonymous Mossad intelligence operative told The Times. “Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country.”

One might say, a “wonderfully porous country” for staging terror attacks, asNBC News revealed last week.

According to Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, “deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.”

That group the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, enjoys considerable support amongst Washington’s power elite as The Christian Science Monitor disclosed last summer.

Indeed, “a high-powered array of former top American officials,” from Rudy Giuliani to Howard Dean, “have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK.”

While Obama administration officials have tried to distance the U.S. secret state from the Mossad’s assassination program, as Richard Silverstein noted on the left-wing Tikun Olam web site:

One aspect of this report, however, is misleading. The U.S. officials who confirm Mossad involvement in these plots carefully note that the U.S. is not participating. That, unfortunately is not quite true. The Bush administration allocated $400-million for this black ops war against Iran. A good portion of this is suspected of funding Israel’s efforts. So it is highly likely that we are the paymasters for this effort and our denials ring hollow.

But the Iranian terror cult’s connections to the CIA don’t stop there. In fact, “law enforcement officials have told NBC News that in 1994, the MEK made a pact with terrorist Ramzi Yousef a year after he masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City,” Engel and Windrem wrote.

According to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Yousef built an 11-pound bomb that MEK agents placed inside one of Shia Islam’s greatest shrines in Mashad, Iran, on June 20, 1994. At least 26 people, mostly women and children, were killed and 200 wounded in the attack.

Yousef, the nephew of reputed “9/11 mastermind” Khalid Sheik Mohammad, was the top bombmaker for Osama Bin Laden’s Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets, also known as Al Qaeda, who had a long history of close collaboration with the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency before “going off the reservation” in the early 1990s.

These connections, and links, to Western destabilization operations are hardly historical relics of Washington’s anticommunist jihad against the former Soviet Union, as Peter Dale Scott pointed out in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus last summer.

Scott noted that:

Americans have used al-Qaeda as a resource to increase their influence, for example Azerbaijan in 1993. There a pro-Moscow president was ousted after large numbers of Arab and other foreign mujahedin veterans were secretly imported from Afghanistan, on an airline hastily organized by three former veterans of the CIA’s airline Air America.

And today, with foreign fighters flooding into Syria, including Libyan jihadist elements armed and trained by the CIA and MI6, it should hardly come as a shock that Al Qaeda’s “emir,” Ayman al-Zawahri, in a reprise of Islamist-backed efforts in alliance with the CIA in Afghanistan during the 1980s “urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of Syrian rebels confronting Assad’s forces,” Reuters reported Sunday.

Western operations against Syria are viewed as a prelude to an all-out attack on Iran as Michel Chossudovsky and other analysts describe in a new series published by Global Research.

Indeed, U.S. war planners have presented regional military commanders with a target list that include “beyond Iran’s nuclear facilities, communications systems; air defense and missile sites; Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities; munitions storage facilities, including those for sea mines (remember the Strait of Hormuz); airfields and aircraft facilities; and ship and port facilities, including midget submarines, missile boats and minelayers,” The Washington Post disclosed.

“Aircraft employed,” the Post averred, “would include B-2 stealth and B-52 bombers, fighter-bombers and helicopters, along with ship-launched cruise missiles.”

In other words, Washington is contemplating a massive air and sea bombardment followed by a land invasion, as the “Bold Alligator 2012″ drill suggests, with the express purpose of forcing “regime change” in Tehran.

As analyst Peter Symonds pointed out in the World Socialist Web Site, “While the US and its allies insist that Iran must satisfy ‘international concerns’ about its nuclear programs, the demands for ‘clarification’ are endless.”

“IAEA inspectors visited Iran on January 29-31 and are due to return for further discussions later this month,” Symonds wrote. “No report has been released, but the US and international media nevertheless accused Tehran of ‘obfuscation’ and ‘time wasting’.”

Ominously, Haaretz reported that a new dossier “to be issued next month by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear program is expected to be harsher than the last one, which the IAEA released in November.”

According to Haaretz, “the agency’s board of governors is scheduled to convene on March 5 in Vienna, the same day on which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to give a speech in Washington at a meeting of the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with Obama where talks on the “international response” to the “threat from Tehran” will take center stage. Isn’t that a coincidence!

“The reality,” the World Socialist Web Site noted, “is that nothing short of complete capitulation to all Washington’s demands–not only on the nuclear issue, but its relations with the Syrian government and groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as its alleged ‘interference’ in Iraq and Afghanistan–would end the US build-up to war.”

“In short,” Symonds observed, “Washington is pressing for a regime in Tehran that bows to American economic and strategic interests in the Middle East and Central Asia on every significant issue.”

“For all the talk about ‘diplomacy’ and ‘sanctions,’ the World Socialist Web Site warned, “the US is recklessly setting course for a war with Iran that threatens to engulf the Middle East and spread internationally.”

The clock is ticking…

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles are published in many venues. He is the editor ofPolice State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom’s website.

Israel to the United States: “We’ll Give You the War, You Give Us the Cannon Fodder”

Israel to the United States: “We’ll Give You the War, You Give Us the Cannon Fodder”

by Tom Burghardt / February 6th, 2012

The dogs of war are off the leash.

In meeting rooms in London, Tel Aviv and Washington the dice have been thrown: snake eyes.

Flashback, 1963: When John F. Kennedy decided not to escalate the soon-to-be disastrous Vietnam war and issued National Security Action Memorandum 263 (NSAM 263), he signed his death warrant.

Scarcely six weeks after vowing to pull all American forces out of South Vietnam by 1965, Kennedy was dead, the target of an “executive action”orchestrated by the CIA, a coup d’état on behalf of America’s corporatist masters–the military-industrial cabal of hardline cold warriors who stood to lose billions if Kennedy lived.

That sweet little deal to “win” the war in Southeast Asia cost some two million Vietnamese lives, 58,000 dead Americans and precipitated an economic crisis which dealt a death blow to post-World War II prosperity and launched the United States on its inexorable glide path towards becoming a failed state.

Flash forward to 2012: We have Barack Obama in the White House; a fraudster who promised “hope and change” and instead led his wilfully blind constituents into embracing the third term of a George W. Bush administration.

Comparing Obama with Kennedy one can only conclude: They don’t make bourgeois politicians like they use to!

Following on from a decades-long drive to transform the Gulf into an “American lake” (under provisions of the so-called “Carter Doctrine,” another “peace loving” Democrat), the coming war with Iran is a transparent scheme to ensure U.S. hegemony over the vast petroleum resources of Central Asia and the Middle East–to the detriment of their geopolitical rivals.

U.S. and NATO naval forces on high alert threaten the free flow of oil in the Persian Gulf, the life’s blood of the global capitalist economy.

A war will lead to an oil price spike as Iranian, but perhaps also Saudi and GCC oil is removed in one fell swoop from the market, thereby setting-off a chain reaction that will exacerbate the West’s economic decline–to the benefit of financial jackals waiting in the wings who will gobble up what remains of America and Europe’s publicly-owned assets at fire sale prices in a desperate move to stave off the crisis.

Currently, Iran is ringed with military bases. American, British and Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles keep silent watch. Aircraft carrier battle groups carry out provocative maneuvers. U.S. and Israeli drones routinely overfly Iranian territory. Scientists are murdered in orchestrated terror attacks. Defense installations are bombed.

Economic sanctions, universally recognized as a prelude to war, strangle the Iranian people and their economy, all in the quixotic hope of inducing (coercing) “regime change” in Tehran.

The U.S. media, reprising their role during the run-up to 2003′s invasion and occupation of Iraq, are chock-a-block with scare stories that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States.

Indeed, the Shiite regime “may have” given “new freedoms” to Sunni Salafist extremists, including members of the “management council” of the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets also known as “Al Qaeda” detained in Iran and “may have provided some material aid to the terrorist group,” if an account published last week by The Wall Street Journalcan be believed, which of course it can’t.

Meanwhile, the CIA and Mossad recruit, train and then unleash Salafist terrorists such as Jundallah or Saddam Hussein’s former henchmen, the cultic Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) for terror ops, just as they did in Libya when former Al Qaeda “emir,” the MI6 asset Abdelhakim Belhaj was appointed chief of Tripoli’s Revolutionary Military Council.

And what “evidence” did U.S. officials offer for these dastardly Iranian plots to murder us all in our beds? Why the now-discredited FBI fable which had a failed Texas used-car dealer, Manssor Arbabsiar, and a still-unnamed DEA snitch posing as, or actually a member of, the notorious Zetas narcotrafficking cartel, plotting to murder the Saudi ambassador by blowing up a tony Georgetown restaurant, that’s what!

Former CIA chief Leon Panetta, who replaced Robert Gates, also a former CIA chief, now helms the Defense Department.

Corporate media in Europe and America report that Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, have tried to “cool” the Israeli’s ardor for a preemptive strike and deny that the U.S. is preparing for war.

This too, is a carefully contrived disinformation campaign.

In a syndicated column for The Washington Post, war hawk David Ignatius wrote Thursday that “Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June–before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.”

According to Ignatius, “the administration appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets, which would trigger a strong U.S. response,” and that Washington’s alleged disapproval of an Israeli first strike “might open a breach like the one in 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower condemned an Israeli-European attack on the Suez Canal.”

Ignatius’ unnamed “senior administration official,” since identified as Panetta, “caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.”

In other words, should America’s “stationary aircraft carrier in the Middle East” launch a sneak-attack on Iran, hitting their civilian nuclear and defense installations, thereby inflicting “collateral damage,” i.e., the wanton slaughter of innocent Iranian citizens, if Tehran has the temerity to defend itself and strike back, the full military might of the imperialist godfather will be brought to bear.

Inter Press Service reported Wednesday that JCS Chairman Dempsey, “told Israeli leaders January 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.”

According to journalist Gareth Porter, “Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.”

Claiming that “Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and explicitly with Israel over its threat of military aggression against Iran, even in the absence of evidence Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon,” Porter alleges that “the message carried by Dempsey was the first explicit statement to the Netanyahu government that the United States would not defend Israel if it attacked Iran unilaterally.”

Holding on to the thinnest of reeds, Porter writes that Panetta “had given a clear hint” of the U.S. position “in an interview on ‘Face the Nation’ Jan. 8 that the Obama administration would not help defend Israel in a war against Iran that Israel had initiated.”

When asked by CBS host Bob Schieffer, who pressed the issue of a unilateral Israeli attack, Panetta said, “If the Israelis made that decision, we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that’s what we’d be concerned about.”

What are we to make of these claims?

If their purpose was to force Israel to rethink their attack plans, it clearly isn’t working. If however, Panetta’s remarks were meant to disarm domestic opponents of U.S. war plans, then mission accomplished!

“Speaking at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center’s annual conference,” The Christian Science Monitor reported that “Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak compared the current standoff with Iran to the ‘fateful’ period before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt.”

“The temperature is rising in Israel,” Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar told theMonitor. “He says that if the defense minister sees the current period as similar to the run-up to the [1967] Six-Day War, ‘that gives credibility to those who think Israel is going to launch an attack’.”

In a follow-up piece published Saturday by IPS, Porter now suggests that Panetta’s leak to Ignatius “had a different objective,” namely that the “White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear programme in the coming months.”

Indeed, the “Panetta leak makes it less likely that either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian strategists will take seriously Obama’s effort to keep the United States out of a war initiated by an Israeli attack.”

Moreover, Panetta’s leak to The Washington Post “seriously undercut the message carried to the Israelis by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month that the United States would not come to Israel’s defence if it launched a unilateral attack on Iran.”

Although there is trepidation amongst military planners in Tel Aviv and Washington should Israeli officials opt for a preemptive attack on Iran–and a retaliatory counterstrike by the Islamic Republic would have devastating effects on both Israel’s civilian population and U.S./NATO military forces in the Persian Gulf and beyond–should such disastrous orders be given, it is a certainty that Washington would follow suit.

This, in fact, is what the Israeli leadership is banking on and, contrary tosanctioned leaks to media conduits like Ignatius, is fully in keeping with Washington’s strategy of employing Israel as a cats’ paw to “drag” the United States into a war with Iran.

As the World Socialist Web Site points out, “any differences between the US and Israel are purely tactical.”

“Washington could, of course, use its considerable influence to veto an attack by Israel, which is heavily dependent on the US, diplomatically, economically and militarily,” leftist critic Peter Symonds writes.

Ignatius’ column however, “makes no mention of this possibility. In effect, the Obama administration appears to be giving Israel a tacit green light for an illegal, unprovoked attack on Iran, and threatening its own military action if Iran retaliates.”

Indeed, the right-wing Israeli publication Debkafile reported Saturday that while Panetta “has been outspoken about a possible Israeli offensive against Iran taking place as of April … no US source is leveling on the far more extensive American, Saudi, British, French and Gulf states’ preparations going forward for an offensive against the Islamic Republic.”

Accordingly, Debkafile’s “military sources” (read high-placed intelligence and military officials favoring an attack) “report a steady flow of many thousands of US troops for some weeks to two strategic islands within reach of Iran, Oman’s Masirah just south of the Strait of Hormuz and Socotra, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa.”

Debkafile also noted that “the Saudis this week wound up their own intensive preparations for war. Large forces are now deployed around Saudi oil fields, pipelines and export facilities in the eastern provinces opposite the Persian Gulf, backed by anti-missile Patriot PAC-3 batteries. American, British and French fighter-bombers have been landing at Saudi air bases to safeguard the capital, Riyadh.”

And with the Pentagon speeding-up arms sales to repressive Gulf monarchies and Saudi royals (with tens of billions in profits flowing into the coffers of American and European death merchants), the stage is now set for a bloody military confrontation.

On the so-called diplomatic front, as “useful idiots” and “accessories before the fact” in the drive towards war, the shameful part played by the International Atomic Energy Agency must be underscored.

Despite, or more likely because Iran’s top leadership have expressed their willingness to reopen stalled talks over their civilian nuclear program and have taken steps to do so, the United States and NATO are stepping-up their propaganda offensive, with the IAEA playing a leading role.

Indeed, The New York Times reported Sunday that “American and European officials said Friday that a mission by international nuclear inspectors to Tehran this week had failed to address their key concerns, indicating that Iran’s leaders believe they can resist pressure to open up the nation’s nuclear program.”

Times’ stenographers Robert F. Worth and David E. Sanger averred that an unnamed “senior American official described the session between the agency and Iranian nuclear officials as ‘foot-dragging at best and a disaster at worst’.”

Why is the onus solely placed on Iranian negotiators?

Because “members of the I.A.E.A. delegation were told that they could not have access to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an academic who is widely believed to be in charge of important elements of the suspected weaponization program, and that they could not visit a military site where the agency’s report suggested key experiments on weapons technology might have been carried out.”

What Worth and Sanger fail to mention in their report is that Iranian officials asserted that before Roshan’s murder he “had talked to IAEA inspectors, a fact which ‘indicates that these UN agencies may have played a role in leaking information on Iran’s nuclear facilities and scientists’,” Russia Today reported at the time.

Protesting the killing before the UN Security Council last month, Iranian deputy UN ambassador Eshagh Al Habib said there was “‘high suspicion’ that, in order to prepare the murder, terrorist circles used intelligence obtained from UN bodies.”

According to the deputy ambassador’s charge, “this included interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the sanction list of the Security Council,” RT disclosed.

Sound far-fetched, the product of Iranian “conspiracy theories”? Better think again!

As former UNSCOM Iraq weapons’ inspector Scott Ritter revealed in his 2005 book, Iraq Confidential:

The issue of uncovering incriminating documentation suddenly took on a higher priority, and the CIA, supported by activist elements within the Department of State, pushed for more direct involvement in the operations of UNSCOM and the IAEA. For the first time, the darkest warriors in the CIA’s covert army, the Operations Planning Cell (OPC), were getting actively involved in preparing intelligence for UNSCOM’s use.

According to Ritter:

The secret warriors of the CIA were accustomed to plying their trade in the shadows, far away from prying eyes. UNSCOM inspections, however, were carried out in full view of the Iraqi government, representing the antithesis of covert action. The existence of the OPC, as with any CIA affiliation with UNSCOM, was a carefully guarded secret. Officially, therefore, all OPC personnel were presented to UNSCOM as State Department ‘experts’.

In light of past practices by the CIA, or for that matter the IAEA itself, Iranian fears that their scientists are being set-up for liquidation are fully justified.

Indeed, the “cautious” U.S. Secretary of Defense, former CIA chief Leon Panetta, speaking at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, echoed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s claim that Israel would need to “consider taking action” should nuclear inspections and sanctions fail.

“My view is that right now the most important thing is to keep the international community unified in keeping that pressure on, to try to convince Iran that they shouldn’t develop a nuclear weapon, that they should join the international family of nations and that they should operate by the rules that we all operate by,” Panetta asserted. “But I have to tell you, if they don’t, we have all options on the table, and we’ll be prepared to respond if we have to.”

One of those “options,” passed by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Friday were demands made to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT.

“The new Senate package,” Reuters reported, “seeks to target foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies, and for the first time, extends the reach of Iran-related sanctions to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies.”

The new legislation would target SWIFT with wide-ranging penalties if they failed to exclude sanctioned Iranian banks from the international system.

The bill now goes to the full Senate “where the likelihood of passage is considered strong,” The New York Times reported.

With the Orwellian title, the “Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act” Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) said that “Iran can end its suppression of its own people, come clean on its nuclear program, suspend enrichment and stop supporting terrorist activities around the globe. Or it can continue to face sustained, intensifying multilateral economic and diplomatic pressure deepening its international isolation.”

Now if only Senator Johnson offered similar demands on America’s Israeli allies who possess upwards of 200 nuclear weapons, refuse to join the international nonproliferation regime and carry out worldwide terrorist attacks with impunity, perhaps then diplomacy would operate on a level playing field!

SWIFT officials were quick to cave to U.S. pressure. “SWIFT fully understands and appreciates the gravity of the situation,” Reuters disclosed.

In its statement, “SWIFT said it is working with officials and central banks to find ‘the right multilateral legal framework’ to ‘expedite’ a response to the issues.”

“This is a complex situation, and SWIFT needs to ensure that it takes into consideration the implications to the functioning of the broader global financial payments system, as well as the continued flow of humanitarian payments to the Iranian people,” the organization said.

Needless to say, a boycott of Iranian financial institutions by SWIFT would be catastrophic to Iran’s economy, a provocation fully intended as a step towards war.

As the World Socialist Web Site noted, “if Israel does attack Iran, it will not simply be ‘a surgical strike’ that destroys Iran’s key nuclear facilities. Any Iranian retaliation will be used by the US as a pretext for a massive air war aimed at destroying the country’s military and infrastructure. As a result, any conflict carries a real danger of becoming a regional war that could embroil the major powers.”

Despite the evident madness of countenancing an Iran attack, political calculations by capitalist elites during a critical election year in the United States, with “conservative” and “liberal” factions angling for advantage by currying favor with the powerful Zionist and U.S. defense lobbies, Israel’s unambiguous message to the White House is: “We’ll give you the war, you give us the cannon fodder.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles are published in many venues. He is the editor ofPolice State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom’s website.

Dempsey Told Israelis U.S. Won’t Join Their War on Iran

Dempsey Told Israelis U.S. Won’t Join Their War on Iran


by Gareth Porter / February 2nd, 2012

IPS — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders January 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.

Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.

But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall.

Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and explicitly with Israel over its threat of military aggression against Iran, even in the absence of evidence Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Dempsey’s trip was highly unusual, in that there was neither a press conference by the chairman nor any public statement by either side about the substance of his meetings with Israeli leaders. Even more remarkable, no leak about what he said to the Israelis has appeared in either U.S. or Israeli news media, indicating that both sides have regarded what Dempsey said as extremely sensitive.

The substance of Dempsey’s warning to the Israelis has become known, however, to active and retired senior flag officers with connections to the JCS, according to a military source who got it from those officers.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commander Patrick McNally, offered no comment Wednesday when IPS asked him about the above account of Dempsey’s warning to the Israelis.

The message carried by Dempsey was the first explicit statement to the Netanyahu government that the United States would not defend Israel if it attacked Iran unilaterally. But Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had given a clear hint in an interview on “Face the Nation” January 8 that the Obama administration would not help defend Israel in a war against Iran that Israel had initiated.

Asked how the United States would react if Israel were to launch a unilateral attack on Iran, Panetta first emphasised the need for a coordinated policy toward Iran with Israel. But when host Bob Schieffer repeated the question, Panetta said, “If the Israelis made that decision, we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that’s what we’d be concerned about.”

Defence Minister Barak had sought to dampen media speculation before Dempsey’s arrival that the chairman was coming to put pressure on Israel over its threat to attack Iran, but then proceeded to reiterate the Netanyahu-Barak position that they cannot give up their responsibility for the security of Israel “for anyone, including our American friends”.

There has been no evidence since the Dempsey visit of any change in the Netanyahu government’s insistence on maintaining its freedom of action to attack Iran.

Dempsey’s meetings with Netanyahu and Barak also failed to resolve the issue of the joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise geared to a missile attack, “Austere Challenge ’12″, which had been scheduled for April 2012 but had been postponed abruptly a few days before his arrival in Israel.

More than two weeks after Dempsey’s meeting with Barak, the spokesman for the Pentagon, John Kirby, told IPS, “All I can say is that the exercise will be held later this year.” That indicated that there has been no major change in the status of U.S.-Israeli discussions of the issue since the postponement of the exercise was leaked January 15.

The postponement has been the subject of conflicting and unconvincing explanations from the Israeli side, suggesting disarray in the Netanyahu government over how to handle the issue.

To add to the confusion, Israeli and U.S. statements left it unclear whether the decision had been unilateral or joint as well as the reasons for the decision.

Panetta asserted in a news conference January 18 that Barak himself had asked him to postpone the exercise.

It now clear that both sides had an interest in postponing the exercise and very possibly letting it expire by failing to reach a decision on it.

The Israelis appear to have two distinct reasons for putting the exercise off, which reflect differences between the interests of Netanyahu and his defence minister.
Netanyahu’s primary interest in relation to the exercise was evidently to give the Republican candidate ammunition to fire at Obama during the fall campaign by insinuating that the postponement was decided at the behest of Obama to reduce tensions with Iran.

Thus Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, explained it as a “joint” decision with the United States, adding, “The thinking was it was not the right timing now to conduct such an exercise.”

Barak, however, had an entirely different concern, which was related to the Israeli Defence Forces’ readiness to carry out an operation that would involve both attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and minimising the Iranian retaliatory response.

A former U.S. intelligence analyst who followed the Israeli military closely told IPS he strongly suspects that the IDF has pressed Barak to insist that the Israeli force be at the peak of readiness if and when they are asked to attack Iran.

The analyst, who insisted on anonymity because of his continuing contacts with U.S. military and intelligence personnel, said the 2006 Lebanon War debacle continues to haunt the thinking of IDF leaders. In that war, it became clear that the IDF had not been ready to handle Hezbollah rocket attacks adequately, and the prestige of the Israeli military suffered a serious blow.

The insistence of IDF leaders that they never go to war before being fully prepared is a primary consideration for Barak, according to the analyst. “Austere Challenge ’12″ would inevitably involve a major consumption of military resources, he observes, which would reduce Israeli readiness for war in the short run.

The concern about a major military exercise actually reducing the IDF’s readiness for war against Iran would explain why senior Israeli military officials were reported to have suggested that the reasons for the postponement were mostly “technical and logistical”.

The Israeli military concern about expending scarce resources on the exercise would apply, of course, regardless of whether the exercise was planned for April or late 2012. That fact would help explain why the exercise has not been rescheduled, despite statements from the U.S. side that it will be.

The U.S. military, however, has its own reasons for being unenthusiastic about the exercise. IPS has learned from a knowledgeable source that, well before the Obama administration began distancing itself from Israel’s Iran policy, U.S. Central Command chief James N. Mattis had expressed concern about the implications of an exercise so obviously based on a scenario involving Iranian retaliation for an Israeli attack.

U.S. officials have been quoted as suspecting that the Israeli request for a postponement of the exercise indicated that Israel wanted to leave its options open for conducting a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the spring. But a postponement to the fall would not change that problem.

For that reason, the former U.S. intelligence analyst told IPS he doubts that “Austere Challenge ’12″ will ever be carried out.

But the White House has an obvious political interest in using the military exercise to demonstrate that the Obama administration has increased military cooperation with Israel to an unprecedented level.

The Defence Department wants the exercise to be held in October, according to the military source in touch with senior flag officers connected to the Joint Chiefs.



Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book,Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006. Read other articles by Gareth.

IRAN: US/Israeli False Flag Attack May Be Underway

IRAN: US/Israeli False Flag Attack May Be Underway

by Jim Fetzer and Joshua Blakeney


Several warnings of an imminent “false flag” attack by the Israeli-influenced United States on one of its own warships, which will be attributed to Iran, have been reported by several reliable sources. In recent years “false-flag” terrorism has been utilized multiple times by US and Israeli political actors to provide pretexts for otherwise unjustifiable, anti-Islamic military excursions. The plan is to justify an all-out assault on Iran based upon a new fabricated “Pearl Harbor”.

Israel is the primary motivator behind the attempts to destabilize Iran. US traditional foreign policy was one of attempting to foster stability in the Middle East for oil markets. The Zionist impulse, conversely, is to destabilize all potential regional hegemons and carve the Middle East up into ethno-religious statelets. Thus, since the fraudulent events of 9/11, we’ve seen a policy of Middle East disintegration being pursued by Israeli-influenced American politicians. Indeed, recently released CIA memos reveal that Mossad agents have been posing as CIA agents and conscripting anti-Iranian terrorists.

Former Israeli intelligence officer, Avi Perry, startlingly wrote in a January 9th Jerusalem Post article of a forthcoming “ ‘Pearl Harbor’ scenario, in which Iran [will] launch…a “surprise” attack on the US navy,” giving the US “the perfect rationalization to finish them [Iran] off.” Tellingly, Perry chose to put the word “surprise” in quotation marks. Is Perry telling us something?

Perry asserts: “[an] Iranian attack on an American military vessel will serve as a justification and a pretext for a retaliatory move by the US military against the Iranian regime.” However, Perry identifies “a US aircraft carrier” as the likely target of this imagined Iranian attack.

USS Vincennes returns to San Diego (October 1988)

We beg to differ. There are major indications that the vessel of choice is to be the USS Vincennes. The fourth USS Vincennes (CG-49) is a US Navy Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser. On July 3, 1988, the ship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 civilian passengers on board, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.

This would be an ideal vessel for the staged provocation as it could be easily sold to the world as having been Iranian retribution for the 1988 downing of Flight 655. That way the evident lack of motive for Iran to provoke the US and Israeli military titans will be replaced by a perceived “motive.” No one will stop to ask themselves why Iran would thereby invite its own national annihilation.

If we were to believe the Wikipedia version of history, the Vincennes has already been scrapped. The Wikipedia article for the Vincennes states, “The Vincennes was completely scrapped by 23 November 2011.” If that were true it could not be used as the target of this “false-flag” attack. Yet we have photographic and testimonial evidence suggesting otherwise.

The USS Vincennes afloat in Puget Sound. The ship has an orange hue.

It cannot have been “completely scrapped” and still be afloat in Puget Sound.

A reliable source interviewed by one of us has brought us up to speed on the latest developments:

“We now know what that INACTIVE Ticonderoga class AEGIS missile cruiser got towed out of here under cover of darkness for. It’ll likely be the sacrificial lamb that starts the war with Iran….

“Why else would they move it when all the rest sit at a buoy here for months before they finally leave to be sunk?

“I told this to a former 9/11 Truth person back when that ship got moved that it was likely to be used for a FALSE FLAG attack. Well, we’ll soon see if I was right about this one.”

Since the ship left Puget Sound in the dead of night about two months ago, it’s most probable location today is at the 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain for safe keeping until the time comes for its deployment.  The ship would have been refurbished and repainted and provided with remote control capabilities.

“That is the only location in the region outside of Haifa Harbor where she could probably be at least partially concealed by cocooning the superstructure to make it less obvious who she is. Meanwhile, the US Navy is compiling a list of casualties based upon deceased sailors, very much as was the case on 9/11,” we were advised.

Former Israeli false-flag attacks, such as on the USS Liberty in 1967, and the Argentine attacks in 1992 and in 1994, demonstrate Israel’s willingness to attack US targets, on the one hand, and its own people, on the other. It’s highly probable that, having shipped the Vincennes into an acceptable location, that the Mossad, which has also been implicated in the events of 9/11, would do the rest of the dirty work.  Or the United States, which has become Israel’s lackey, might blow up one of its own ships, which would be a literal and a figurative sign of how low the US has sunk.
YouTube – Veterans Today –

“As a Marine Corps officer, I swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic”, Jim Fetzer observes. “Neither I nor any other officer I know ever swore allegiance to the State of Israel.  Our leaders are not only betraying our own Constitution but have turned our nation into a servant of an unworthy, brutal and tyrannical master, who couldn’t care less about the best interests of American citizens–and our own leaders not only permit this to happen but actually promote it.”

In light of recent “deep political events” in Iran, including the recent murder of Iranian nuclear physicist Professor Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, it would not be surprising if the US and Israel were to raise the ante by implementing a fraudulent trigger incident, which may very well ignite World War III.
YouTube – Veterans Today –

Because of the pervasiveness of US-Israeli deceptions, an increasing number of public intellectuals are awakening to the prospect of these fraudulent events BEFORE THEY HAPPEN, as appears to be the case with this initiative. We can’t be certain about all of this, because we are on the outside, looking in.  Perhaps the USS Vincennes actually has been scrapped.  But on this point the world can rest assured: they haven’t scrapped the plan!

Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

Joshua Blakeney is a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge, member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Staff Writer at Veterans Today.

Obama’s America: Tyranny and Permanent War

Obama’s America: Tyranny and Permanent War

by Stephen Lendman


December 31, 2011 will be remembered as a day of infamy. More on it below. October 17, 2006 was an earlier one under Bush. 

In a White House ceremony, he signed the infamous Military Commissions Act (MCA). It authorized torture as official policy.

It also enacted sweeping unconstitutional powers to arrest, interrogate, and prosecute alleged terrorist suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), detain them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.

It lets presidents call anyone anywhere an “unlawful enemy combatant,” order them arrested, detained and denied all rights.

On the same day, Bush quietly signed the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included were hidden Sections 1076 and 333. Major media scoundrels ignored them.

They amended the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. They prohibited using federal and National Guard troops for law domestic enforcement except as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress in times of insurrection or other national emergency.

Henceforth, the executive, by diktat, can claim emergency powers, declare martial law, suspend the Constitution on “national security” grounds, and deploy federal and/or National Guard troops on US streets to suppress whatever’s called disorder – including lawful peaceful protests.

At issue is abolishing fundamental First Amendment freedoms without which all others are at risk. They include free expression, assembly, religion, and right to petition government for redress. No longer.

In 2009, Obama assured military commission continuity by signing the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act. Its hidden Section 1031 contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase “unprivileged enemy belligerent” replaced “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama exceeds Bush extremism. Guantanamo and other torture prisons remain open. US citizens are treated as lawlessly as foreign nationals. Ahead things got worse.

On December 31, he signed the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It gives presidents unchecked power to order military force arrests and indefinite detentions of US citizens, based solely on uncorroborated accusations of terrorist group associations.

Constitutional, statute and international law protections don’t apply. America’s military may snatch and grab anyone, throw them in torture prisons, and hold them indefinitely without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, spurious allegations or none at all.

Earlier by Executive Order, Obama authorized indefinite detentions of anyone designated national security threats. Specifically intended for Guantanamo detainees, it’s now for everyone, including US citizens at home or abroad.

Moreover, CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads got presidential authorization to kill targeted US citizens abroad. As a result, they can be hunted down and murdered in cold blood for any reason or none at all.

As of December 31, anyone anywhere, including US citizens, can be called national security threats and judged guilty by accusation. Activists opposing America’s imperium risk arrest, permanent detention or assassination.

So do social justice protesters. Military dungeons or FEMA camps await them. Martial law may authorize it, claiming “catastrophic emergency” powers. The original Senate bill excluded US citizens. Obama demanded their inclusion.

Inviolable rights no longer apply. Protesting imperial lawlessness, social injustice, corporate crime, government corruption, or political Washington run of, by and for rich elites can be criminalized. So can free speech, assembly, religion, or anything challenging America’s right to kill, destroy and pillage with impunity.

It’s official. Tyranny arrived in America. The nation’s unsafe to live in. There’s no place to hide. They’re coming for anyone challenging injustice.

Lawlessness At Home and Abroad 

They also target independent states. At issue is making them client ones. Tactics include threats, destabilization, violence, sanctions and war if other methods fail.

In 2011, Libya became NATO’s latest charnel house. It was ravaged and destroyed for profit. For months, Syria’s been ruthlessly targeted. Pressure’s building for more. Anything ahead is possible, including replicating the barbarism inflicted on Libya.

Iran’s next. Washington’s pushing the envelope aggressively.

Tactics include provocations, subversion, fake accusations, isolation, covert or direct confrontation, cyberwar, and punishing sanctions, coming perilously close to acts or war.

In the past five years, four harsh rounds were imposed. In mid-December, Congress enacted another. They’re included in the FY 2012 NDAA. They’re aimed at penalizing foreign financial institutions doing business with Tehran’s central bank. It’s the main oil revenue conduit. US corporations, including banks, already can’t deal with Iran.

Additional measures expanded sanctions on companies doing oil related business, including investments, selling Iran refinery goods and services, as well as providing Tehran with refined products worth $5 million or more annually.

On December 31, Obama signed the new law. He has 180 days to implement it. He calls it the stiffest measure yet, saying:

“Our intent is to implement this law in a timed and phased approach so that we avoid repercussions to the oil market and ensure that this damages Iran and not the rest of the world.”

He has discretionary power to grant waivers, provided they’re in America’s national interest. Energy analysts fear enactment means disruptively higher oil prices. Others worry that confrontation may follow rogue bullying.

Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran’s naval forces can readily block the Strait of Hormuz in response to hostile Western actions.

He spoke a day after Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned not a drop of oil would pass through the Strait if Iran’s oil exports are sanctioned. If so, expect energy prices to skyrocket until normal flows resume. Also expect retaliation, perhaps including direct US-Iranian confrontation.

Targeting Iran’s nuclear program is a ruse. Tehran insists it’s peaceful. Nothing proves otherwise. The most recent March 2011 US intelligence consensus agrees. It found no evidence of weapons development. At issue is regime change. Reasons are invented as pretext.

As a result, anything ahead is possible, including potentially devastating general war with nuclear weapons targeting underground Iranian facilities.

No matter the risk, Obama seems headed for the unthinkable. Stay tuned. More on this will follow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. He is also the author of “How Wall Street Fleeces America“

A New York judge has signed a judgment that finds Iran, along with the Taliban and al-Qaeda liable for the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.



A New York judge has signed a judgment that finds Iran, along with the Taliban and al-Qaeda liable for the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.

by Joshua Blakeney


Press TV has interviewed Joshua Blakeney of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Veterans Today from Calgary, Alberta to discuss the situation. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview:

Press TV: Josh Blakeney, let’s focus for a moment on the many doubts and questions as [another speaker on the show] Foad Izadi said that exist about the 9/11 commission.

The U.S. waged two wars using the 9/11 attacks as a pretext. What do you think about the 9/11 Commission Report and didn’t the US allow an international investigation led by the UN over the terrorist attacks?

Blakeney: Yeah, I’m doing my graduate work at the university of Lethbridge here in Canada on the events of 9/11. I’ve been studying 9/11 intensively for four years now.

And indeed I’m the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth student graduate scholarship and having studied 9/11 for 4 years I can concur with [another speaker on the show] Professor Fetzer that the official story of 9/11 is provably false.

The 9/11 commission report was a complete hoax. Philip Zelikow [executive director of the 9/11 Commission] was a Neo-conservative and therefore wasn’t disinterested enough to be conducting such an investigation.

And apparently his academic field of expertise was “the creation and maintenance of public myths” which is nonsensical although I must say one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when one hears these things.

When Ahmadinejad, President Ahmadinejad, did his speech at the United Nations, an exemplary speech in September 2011 with his engineering background, he implied that the official story of 9/11 must be false, especially the notion that airplanes brought down towers on 9/11.

And we were then told that al-Qaeda were angry at President Ahmadinejad, that al-Qaeda were miffed that Ahmadinejad was trying to steal their thunder for the crime that they allegedly did.

Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, has an academic specialization in “the creation and maintenance of public myths”

Now we are told that President Ahmadinejad is collaborating with al-Qaida and with the Taliban when anyone who has read a history of the War on Terror knows that after 9/11 the Iranian government were actually saying to the US government “look we could be an ally if you want in your war against the Taliban”.

Because the Taliban are no friends of the Iranian government, being Sunni, the Iranian government being Shia and so if it wasn’t for the fact that this was a harbinger of a storm, a harbinger of wars to come, yet more wars, massacres in the Middle East, we’d have to laugh.

Footage of Palestinians Celebrating the Events of September 11, 2001 Actually from 1993

Of course it’s quite jovial the fact that on 9/11 they blamed the events on Palestinians. They said the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine committed this atrocity and they showed footage from 1993 of Palestinians celebrating apparently the attacks on 9/11, you know, several years in advance.

And then we were told Saddam Hussein was complicit in the events of 9/11. A lady named Laurie Mylroie from the American Enterprise Institute was authoring propaganda against Saddam Hussein, even though he was the enemy of Islamists, you know the likes of al-Qaeda.

Then we were told the Saudis were involved even though there is no evidence that the alleged hijackers even boarded the planes or were Islamists and so that’s irrelevant. So why not add one more to the table and say that Iran was involved.

Hey, why not Syria now or North Korea, this official story of 9/11 is taking on a life of its own, how Judge George Daniels could find this in the court is beyond belief, and it indicates that the rule of law is breaking down even further in the United States.

Judge George Daniels, former professor at Brooklyn Law School.Judge George Daniels, former professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Judge Daniels was a former professor of Brooklyn law school, I don’t know if that might have something to do with it, but this is ridiculous and as Professor Fetzer suggested Israel and the U.S., their fingerprints are all over the events of 9/11.

And of course Israel’s role in this is so significant because Israel wants to balkanize the Middle East. It wants the Arabs and Muslims fighting each other in a civil war type situation.

The Middle East is highly fissiparous and so that’s why Israel’s happy to have the Saudis, the Iranians, the Palestinians, any Arab regime or Arab government, Muslim government or in your case Persian government [implicated in 9/11] because it wants to have regional hegemony.

It doesn’t want the Saudis or the Iranians to have regional hegemony and it’s very smart. Those who support Israel in the United States, they realize that a key part if they’re going to try to attack Iran is demonizing the Iranian government and dehumanizing the Iranian people in the eyes of the American people.

And so our job, as 9/11 truthers, is to tell the American people that they ought to empathize with the Palestinians because 3000 of their citizens were killed on 9/11 with the complicity of the Israeli government.

Press TV Interview with Prof. Fetzer, Prof. Izadi and Joshua Blakeney 

Press TV: Joshua Blakeney, I believe there is a popular movement happening in the United States: the Occupy movements which are criticizing the US government for a host of issues including the wars.

So is that where hopes should be, maybe pinned on when it comes to, at least to foreign policy, which obviously does drain money out of the economy, in order to point out to the world the double standards that the United States perhaps has and we could refer to what appeared in this New York court.

Blakeney: Yeah, I mean, I think the ruling class in the United States are digging their own graves. There is an increasing disconnect between the ruling class, the elite — you know judges like Judge Daniels and the professors, academicians in the United States are just repeating the mythology of the global war on terror — and the people of the United States who are more and more educated.

You know there was this stereotype when I was growing up that Americans aren’t intelligent, they’re stupid. But that isn’t actually borne out by the reality. I’ve travelled from coast to shining coast in the United States; the United States’ people are highly educated.

And then there is the degradation of our public institutions, I mean we know that politicians and journalists are kind of bought and paid for and they lie, but when the judiciary and the professoriate fail to distinguish between fact and fiction, when presented with evidence, then we’re in a lot of trouble.

Yoishi Shimatsu, a former editor of Japan Times Weekly, claims that Israel knew Fukushima had weapons-grade uranium and plutonium that were exposed to the atmosphere after a massive tsunami wave hit the reactor. Furthermore, he contends that Israeli intelligence sabotaged the reactor in retaliation for Japan’s support of an independent Palestinian state.

A lot of people said that, you know, with the failure of the Warren Commission to deal with the death of JFK [former US President John F. Kennedy] what will come next? And what came next was 9/11.

And many say now with 9/11 what will come next? You know we look at Fukushima; we look at the Norway incident; the massacre in Norway in which the whole generation of labor activists were taken out, young children who would grow up to be left-wing.

Norway being highly supportive of the Palestinian struggle, a professor in Norway now named Professor Tunander has just publishedan article this week in a peer-reviewed academic journal insinuating that Israel was involved in the massacre in Norway.

You look at Japan, another country which collaborated with the Nazis in World War II incidentally and you see what’s happened inFukushima. Was that just completely coincidental?

Are we allowed to be skeptical of these events? I think we ought to and I think it’s such a shame that academics like Professor Fetzer and Professor Hall, my graduate studies supervisor, are so isolated. Why is it that academics are repeating time and time again these lies.

Of course, [a US Senator from Idaho] Senator Frank Church did uncover in the Cold War, in the 1970s, that up to 5000 university professors and 3000 journalists were conspiring with the CIA to spread disinformation against any country that wanted to express self-determination during the Cold War and called them Communists or part of a Soviet conspiracy.

So invariably, it’s the media and the professors who are the conspiracy theorists and those like Professor Fetzer and I who are debunking state-sponsored conspiracy theories.

So I think we have to be highly vigilant as a people against the degradation of our public institutions by reckless elites.

Discontinue Foreign Aid Grants


The fifth plank of The Knights Party platform is to stop all foreign aid immediately.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are sent overseas every year while our people remain in need, our schools need funding, our infrastructure needs rebuilding and our citizens fight to keep their bills paid. This money should be used to support the decaying Social Security and Medicare programs, to help send kids to college, and to rebuild our infrastructure.

Keep American Taxes in America!

A first step in the right direction for achieving these goals is to first discontinue foreign aid grants.  The Knights Party policy is very clear that all foreign aid should be indefinitely discontinued, and it is the writers hope that this writing may lead us to that goal.


Thomas Buhls

Dec. 22, 2011

The United States foreign aid policy of assisting under-developed, or developing nations is a noble effort worthy of praise and has established a reputation for the United States of America as being a generous and giving nation. In 1961, the United States Agency for International Development was established by executive order under former president John F. Kennedy to manage America’s foreign aid programs. USAID has had an average economic assistance budget of $9.55 Billion dollars per year between in 1962 and 2005; $27,120 Million in 2006; $27,654.7 Million in 2007; $33,023.6 Million in 2008; and $33,946.6 Million in 2009. Of the total of all economic assistance which USAID has provided, only ~11% of the economic assistance was loaned, with only ~18% of loans currently outstanding. The American monetary commitment to foreign aid has culminated to a budget of $47 Billion dollars for fiscal year 2012 (“Standard Country Report,” “Executive Budget Summary”). America’s commitment to ameliorating the human condition abroad in the name of humanitarian assistance, and national defense are particularly admirable. Such commitment to under-developed, and developing nations is noteworthy, but it provides little more than a $47 Billion dollar reputation for goodwill and generosity, with little return on investment as measured by support of American international diplomatic goals.

Foreign economic assistance grants as a tool of international diplomacy have been an investment with little measurable return. American foreign aid grants do not induce favorable diplomatic relations, and creates an atmosphere of entangling diplomatic relations between the United States of America, recipient nations, and third party nations. While aiding under-developed, and developing nations the American foreign aid program should exercise greater fiscal austerity by indefinitely discontinuing foreign aid grants, in favor of loans. I respectfully petition the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to use every means at their disposal to indefinitely discontinue foreign aid grants, in favor of loans.

The annual growth of the United States foreign aid budget is an investment that provides little return in ways of diplomatic interests, or quantifiable benefit to Americans. In light of recent concerns over the federal budget and respect for popular demands for greater federal spending austerity and accountability, the discontinuation of foreign aid grants (in favor of loans) will be warmly received by the voting public and allow the federal government to provide foreign aid in a fully accountable, and quantifiable measure (TEA Party, FreedomWorks, Swanson, Bennett). First, I will show the reader that foreign aid does not induce favorable diplomatic relations. Second, I will show that foreign aid programs are frequently misused or not used at the greatest potential. Third, I will demonstrate that current foreign aid conditions create entangling diplomatic, and trade relations between the United States, recipient countries, and third party countries. In conclusion, I will show the reader that public support for greater restraint, and moderation of American foreign aid programs is in popular demand by the American public.

Foreign economic assistance does not buy support for United States international diplomatic goals as seen by non-coinciding votes in the United Nations General Assembly. An August, 2011 article published by The Heritage Foundation illustrates the disparaging lack of coinciding votes from recipient nations in the United Nations General Assembly between 1983 and 2010. The Heritage Foundation is a leading research and education institution committed to, among other ideals, strong national defense. Brett Schaefer, writing for The Heritage Foundation, reports that nine of the top ten recipients of American foreign aid voted in coincidence of American interests on average of ~25% of the time. (“Foreign Assistance Fast Facts”). Schaefer further notes that, “Analysis conducted by The Heritage Foundation on more current data found no significant relationship between U.S. foreign aid and recipient countries’ support for U.S. policy positions in the General Assembly over the past decade.” Schaefer’s reporting with The Heritage Foundation suggests that recipient nations are largely unswayed by the promise of providing, or the revocation of foreign aid.

Such a condition was exemplified most recently by the Palestinian Authority while seeking official recognition of statehood from the United Nations. Preceding the September, 2011 request for recognition of Palestinian statehood by Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly, a variety of bills were drafted by the house and senate which were designed to discourage the Palestinian Authority from requesting statehood. Jim Zanotti, and Marjorie Bowers, researchers for Congressional Research Services, published a report titled, “Palestinian Initiatives for 2011 at United Nations.” In this report, Zanotti and Bowers provide details on nine House Resolutions, and one Senate Resolution which were designed with the explicit intent of discouraging the Palestinian Authority from requesting recognition of statehood. Among these bills was House Resolution 268 which was passed in July, 2011 during the 112th session of congress. Among other recommendations which the bill made, it “[urged] the administration to consider suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority pending a review of the unity agreement…” Following this recommendation, an almost $200 Million dollars in aid for the Palestinian Authority was blocked by three congressional committees in August, 2011 (Haaretz). In spite of having aid severely curtailed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a request for recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2011.

Another concern about foreign aid grants is the great potential and risk of improper use of grants. Dangers of improper use of foreign aid grants are that the amount of benefit provided is not commensurate with the amount of money spent. An August, 2009 report from the United States Agency for International Development reports that a 1.8 Million dollar, five year grant bought water cisterns for the city of Nouakchott, the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and that 12,000 people were benefited by these new water cisterns. The Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book reports that in 2009, Nouakchott had an estimated population of 709,000, while the Department of State reports a current population of an estimated one million people. These figures indicate that a scant ~1.5% of the population of Nouakchott benefited from the grant, to say nothing of the approximate three million people currently residing in more remote portions of Mauritania.

As previously mentioned, foreign aid frequently provides little return on investment in way of diplomatic interests. A November, 2011 article was published in The New York Times titled, “To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan.” The writer, Paul V. Kane, is a former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and is a Marine who served in Iraq. Mr. Kane suggests that Pres. Barack Obama could persuade Chinese leaders to cancel $1.4 Trillion in debt currently held by China in exchange for discontinuing foreign aid to Taiwan. Quoting Mr. Kane from his New York Times article, “[Pres. Obama] should make it clear that today American jobs and wealth matter more than military prowess. As Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared last year, ‘The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.’” Writing for the 2012 Executive Budget Summary on Function 150& Other International Programs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that every business owner she knows would, “…gladly invest less than $4 in order to save $45.” In keeping with this sentiment, an investment of zero dollars in order to save $1.4 Trillion dollars is a deal which warrants much consideration.

The fiscal year 2012 Executive Budget Summary of Function 150& Other International Programs requested a budget in the amount of $47 Billion dollars. The Function 150& Other International Programs 2012 budget is 1% larger than its 2010 budget, and the exercise of fiscal restraint is dually noted in this case. However, there still exists the problem of annual increases of foreign aid grants and the increasing demands of recipient nations. Increasingly restrictive constraints on international trade policies create entangling international relations and other conditions which necessarily dictate what types, and the amount of aid which may be provided to certain countries. The Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 was designed to govern the sales of defense items to other countries. The Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 also defined that Israel will have a qualitative military edge over other nations in the Middle East. The term qualitative military edge is defined by the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 as,

“the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.”

This uniquely constraining condition of international trade necessarily restricts the transfer of potentially advantageous defense items to countries regardless of the actual, or stated purpose.

The highly contentious nature of foreign aid is evidenced by public opinion polls as well. Polls conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes indicate that Americans are highly supportive of foreign aid in principle, yet the perceptions of money spent on foreign aid, and its effectiveness, are generally reported in very poor favor. In a 2001 poll of the American public by the Program for International Policy Attitudes, 77% of respondents “fully agreed” to the statement, “Too much US foreign aid goes to governments that are not very democratic and have poor human rights records. This is not consistent with American principles.” The Program for International Policy Attitudes asserted that public support for foreign aid is most high at a time when the American economy is most strong and that support was the lowest during times of a poor economy, citing differences between a 1995, and a 2001 survey of the American public on their attitude on foreign aid. The Program for International Policy Attitude concluded their study of various surveys by stating that, “In the six years since PIPA’s 1995 study it appears that there has been a discernible shift in the public’s attitudes about foreign aid. While in 1995 a strong majority wanted to cut foreign aid, this has now dropped to a minority, albeit still a substantial one … One possible explanation for this change is the good economy. Americans may feel that they can afford to be more generous during these prosperous times.”

Popular demands for fiscal austerity from such groups as the TEA Party, and Americans for Prosperity have been echoed by Republican presidential candidates in recent debates. Responding to the topic of U.S. foreign aid at the Spartanburg, S.C. Republican presidential debates, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich indicated that a significantly more austere approach to levying foreign aid must be considered. As reported by United Press International, Gingrich stated, “You start off– or in the case of Egypt, $3 billion a year — you start off every year and say here’s your $3 billion, now I’ll start thinking? … You ought to start off at zero and say, explain to me why I should give you a penny.” By discontinuing foreign aid grants in favor of providing loans, it will be possible to provide a positive response to the demands for greater fiscal austerity while still being preeminently positioned to provide foreign aid with reasonable terms of repayment.

In conclusion, I respectfully petition the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to use every means at their disposal to indefinitely discontinue foreign aid grants, in favor of loans. With popular demands for greater fiscal restraint, and mounting concerns over federal budget disagreements, discontinuing foreign aid grants is a positive solution which is within the power of the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I respectfully urge the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to adopt this resolution immediately.

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