Thursday, August 30, 2007

By Bill Christison (Former CIA Analyst)

George W. Bush has once again thrown down the gauntlet. The Mideast wars of the United States, he announced to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on August 22, must end only with a U.S. victory. He has not wavered in this position since September 11, 2001. The unspoken but real purpose of his efforts has been and will be to concentrate increasing power over the Middle East in the hands of the small group of rich and greedy elites who rule the U.S. and Israel today, and perhaps he will achieve this goal. The more important result, however, will be the elimination of any movement toward greater global justice, stability, and peace in the world for decades to come.

It is past time to challenge the arrogant Mr. Bush directly.

For overwhelming moral reasons, I do not want the U. S. and Israeli governments to be victorious in any present or future Middle East wars. I want them to lose such wars.

U.S. policies in the Middle East since 9/11 have already caused a million or so killings and have created more injustice in the world than existed formerly. Every day results in more killings, more injustice. Unless might does indeed make right, we have no right whatever to win these wars. We should lose them.

If the U.S. were to "win" these wars, whatever that means, more of the world's people than at present would be ruled by the U.S. Most of these people do not want to be ruled by the U.S. -- which makes the wars themselves anti-democratic. That fact alone is reason enough to conclude that our country should lose these wars.

My personal belief is that the United States and Israel will inevitably lose these wars over time in any case. If this loss is in fact inevitable, conventional wisdom would argue that it is better for the loss to happen rapidly in order to hold casualties down. In a continuing civil war over which outsiders have limited control, however, conventional wisdom may not apply.

Nevertheless, a truly rapid -- meaning within the next six months -- acceptance of defeat by the U.S. and Israel of their own Mideast policies would probably offer the only possibility of mitigating the blame assigned to these two nations by the rest of the world for future mass killings of human beings throughout this unstable area.

Much of global public opinion will in any case correctly attribute a large residual responsibility to the U.S. and Israel for the utterly disproportionate and one-sided killings already carried out since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Further killings that occur during even a short and rapid transition to inevitable U.S. and Israeli defeat will only enlarge this residual. But a short, quick, and determined acceptance of defeat will still reduce to some extent the charges of U.S. responsibility for future killings.

A lasting peace in the Middle East will only happen, of course, if the U.S. and Israel are wise enough publicly (and honestly) to end their drive for joint imperium over the Middle East and Central Asia and also to cease their efforts to bring about regime change in Iran and Syria. In other words, as has long been the case, the U.S. and Israel will need to make serious long-term changes in their own foreign policies if they wish to avoid a conflict lasting for generations that ultimately they cannot win.

As of now, no evidence exists that either country is willing even to consider such policy changes, and no evidence exists that either the Republican or Democratic Parties in the U.S., any political parties in Israel, the military-industrial complexes of the U.S. and Israel, the Israel lobby in the U.S., the U.S. Protestant Christian Right, the Catholic Church, or the ruling elites of any EU states will bring one jot of meaningful pressure to bear on the Israeli or the U.S. government to change their policies.

If change is to come, it must come from ordinary voters, particularly in the U.S., applying pressure on the various groups listed above, or from ordinary people succeeding in setting up new groups or parties that will succeed in bringing greater pressure to bear. The pressures must be very strong and very explicit. People must emphasize day after day to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and to every presidential candidate that the U.S. must first and foremost change its own policies. And people must emphasize to all politicians that the Israel lobby is one of the strongest forces pressing both Democrats and Republicans not to change U.S. policies, thereby preventing healthy political debate in the country. This must stop.

Finally, my hope is that sensible U.S. voters will agree with the opinions summarized here and in addition create a groundswell of support for the immediate impeachment and conviction of Bush and Cheney. This is the only action, in my view, that opens up the possibility of rapidly bringing about the necessary changes in U.S. policies.

Other Considerations

Let's say it bluntly. War with Iran is inevitable before January 2009 unless Bush and Cheney are both impeached first. New Israeli-U.S. hostilities in Lebanon are also likely. Either warfare or covert actions conducted by the U.S. and/or Israel to bring about regime change in Syria are also probable.

But those of us in the U.S. who claim to be peace activists ought to be ashamed. With rare exceptions, the powers in the movement are confident that things are already going our way, what with the Democratic Party's success in the 2006 congressional elections and the continuing disaster the Bush administration faces in Iraq. Most self-labeled peace activists think the odds so favor further Democratic victories that, as a group, we do not need to run any risks or do anything new to take the presidency away from the Republicans in 2008. It's old hat, maybe, but the best thing to do, most peace activists believe, is just to keep talking about withdrawal from Iraq, while patting ourselves on the back and emphasizing to each other that we are being admirably mature and responsible in not moving too fast toward actual withdrawal.

So let's admit that many of us sustain ourselves with hot air even when the subject is limited to Iraq. Let's admit too that few want to discuss the role Israel played in encouraging the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003, because that would be unnecessarily criticizing Israel. In fact, both the Israel lobby and the Israeli government probably concluded as early as May 2003 that they had already achieved their own principal objectives in Iraq, and that it was counterproductive for them to waste their own credibility by continuing to oppose every aspect of the U.S. peace movement's criticism of the war. Even before things began going wrong in the war's execution, Israeli propagandists were soft-pedaling their own top officials' support for the war. But underneath, the support was definitely there, hard and firm.

When it comes to matters in the Middle East other than Iraq, most peaceniks are even less willing to address questions of the Israel lobby's involvement in U.S. policymaking. Talking about this would be the surest way to reveal the disunity and embarrassing differences within the so-called peace movement. In order to avoid an open discussion, it is easier for most of us simply to ignore the voluminous evidence that both the lobby, and senior U.S. officials who are in effect part of the lobby, are pushing the U.S. toward war, particularly with Iran, but also toward regime change in Syria and resumed hostilities in Lebanon. If it comes to war with any or all of these countries, most peace types note that they are not pushing for it, and they will silently hope more wars do not erupt, but they will not make a lot of noise about stopping such wars before they start. In this, they are simply following most of the leaders of the Democratic Party.

All of this, of course, is logically nonsensical. Take a minute and think of the mess the peace movement has created. First, the very name reflects the movement's shallowness. What good is a hypocritical, utterly out-of-touch and ineffective "peace movement," when beyond question ordinary people on this earth want justice before they want peace? The U.S. government and its ultra-close ally Israel actually want more unjust colonial wars and covert action to strengthen their own already unjust influence over a major part of the globe, in this case the Middle East. Peace above all is for those who support the status quo, but if you're in that category you're in a small minority. So let's banish the peace movement and get a global justice movement going. Peace may be all right long-term, but if you're one of the angry billions on this earth constantly surrounded by a stench of injustice that smothers all hope, chances are that, in your mind, peace should follow justice, not precede it. Chances are, in fact, that you have no favorable thoughts of any type about U.S. peaceniks.

Let's look at another question that is not just about the Middle East but is about the broader Islamic world as well. It seems clear that Samuel Huntington's concept of a clash of civilizations has expanded its intellectual appeal since September 11, 2001. We do indeed seem to have an example of a clash of civilizations that has become a growing force today. This force is nourished by the desire of Muslims for real freedom from the increasing political domination over the Islamic peoples by Western (Christian and Jewish) parts of the world. The principal Islamic motivation has little to do with "hatred of our freedoms." The Islamic hatred (and it does exist) is aimed at U.S., Israeli, and Western policies.

Huntington's book was published in the mid-1990s, and the events of September 11 can be seen as a major example of this type of clash of civilizations. The point to be made here is that ideas in the book, conveniently titled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, lend themselves to being twisted fairly easily into ideas that the neocons, the Israel lobby, recent Israeli governments, EU elites, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Christian Right in the U.S., and the Bush administration itself all have established as part of their own views toward the Islamic world. The book therefore becomes an object of considerable value to the present rulers of the United States and Israel, since it can be seen as providing intellectual justification not only for the special relationship between these two nations, but also for the newly cordial ties of the European Union to U.S. and Israeli policies.

Those among us who wish to counter the notion that a clash of civilizations justifies what the U.S. and Israel are doing in the Middle East today should stand up and state their opposition loudly and directly. Supporters of the concept that the "clash" is a significant part of the present global political system seem to suggest that the very existence of the clash makes unjust, oppressive treatment of Islamic people somehow acceptable. But we should point out that the existence of a real clash is questionable, and that in any case injustice and oppression are never acceptable. People everywhere should realize that in this increasingly globalized world the importance of nationalism is beginning to fade. All of us should begin thinking much more about what are the best policies for the entire world to pursue, not what are the best policies for their own nations. To start this ball rolling, those who happen to live in the U.S. should stop thinking of themselves as exceptional. Americans are perfectly average -- no better and no worse than average people everywhere else. There are some -- a few -- exceptional people anywhere you look, but most of us do not make the cut.

We should emphasize that in today's world a Middle East empire dominated jointly by two nationalist powers, the U.S. and Israel, is not only anti-democratic, but is impossibly anachronistic as well

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IRAN underestimated

Many military officials, political analysts, and strategy study groups anticipated the war against Iran to be launched at the beginning of 2007, sometime between mid January and late April, when weather conditions would be ideal for aerial sorties and naval invasion. The signs were apparent with the heavy naval traffic in the Arabian Gulf, and the number of the conducted war games on both sides.

Yet, we are now in August and war did not start. Did the Bush administration cancel its war plans after all the aggressive war-mongering rhetoric and threats, and after spending millions of Dollars sending American nuclear aircraft carriers with their battle groups to the gulf? Did Cheney’s fiery threats and promises to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities lose their flames? Or maybe Israel and its AIPAC had stopped pressuring the Administration to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities observing the statement of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on 28th February 2007 that Israel can deal with Iranian nuclear threat alone if necessary. “We can face the country (Iran) even if we’re left to face them one-on-one”, he stated.

The decision to attack (nuke) Iran was not cancelled but obstructed.

Iran is different than Iraq. It is a larger country and has more natural resources than Iraq. Although the US had imposed economical sanctions on Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and had pushed Iraqi Saddam Hussain into an eight-year war against Iran to exhaust the country, the Iranians grew more independent and industrious instead.

The economic sanction was not unanimous and many countries continued trading with Iran. Many European and Asian countries were dependent on Iranian oil and gas supplies for their own energy. They also had the large Iranian consumer market for their own goods. The sanctions against Iran were in effect sanctions against these other countries, which were in competition against American companies for consumer markets. European countries, led by France, had always been in economical and political competition against the US since its independence. This competition is apparent in France’s positions towards American policies in the Middle East. France opposed American invasions of Afghanistan and of Iraq. The French President, Jacques Chirac, stated in March 2003 “Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war.” This drew a lot of opposition: the American administration dubbed France “Old Europe” and tried to change the name of the “French fries” to “freedom fries” in an attempt to belittle France. France feels it is loosing its footage in the Middle East due to American aggressive policies that is why it is keeping close contact with the Lebanese to counter the American meddling in Lebanon. Recently France had entered into agreement to build a peaceful nuclear reactor in Libya in an attempt to gain footage there.

Iran Sanction Act, expected to be passed by the congress, is calling for American disinvestment in any foreign energy company that invest more than $20 million in Iran. This Act is facing a fierce opposition from European countries such as France, Germany and UK, among others, who had sent their diplomats to lobby against the Act on Capitol Hills. The Act would hurt major European energy companies such as French Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol of Spain. The latter two are involved in $10 billion investment to produce Iran’s liquefied natural gas. American divestment in such companies would adversely affect American public sector pension funds especially Calpers and Calstrs; giant California pension plans. Sanctions against Iran hurt the US itself more than anybody else.

Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq had really strengthened the Iranian military, who bought more advanced weaponry mainly from US competitor Russia, and who started building their own military equipments such as armored tanks, navy vessels, submarines, un-manned drones and missiles. Iran had also re-started its nuclear program under the supervision and help of Russia. This infuriated the American administration, who launched a political campaign to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions accusing them of manufacturing nuclear bombs.

The real reason of the conflict is not the bomb itself for the US, itself, is building more nuclear bombs – tactical bombs-, and Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea, all non-members of the NPT, had built their own nuclear bombs but the US did not send its nuclear carriers to their shores. Instead the US is turning its eyes away from the Israeli bombs, has effective control of Pakistani bomb through controlling the Pakistani leader Perves Musharraf, gained control over Indian nuclear facilities after entering recently into agreement to supply India with nuclear fuel, and finally has neutralized North Korean nuclear facilities through negotiations and economical bribes. The real reason of the conflict is the competition for exclusive monopoly of the perceived future energy resources (nuclear fuel) to rake in money, and to indirectly control other countries.

American violations of international law and invasion of Iraq gave a warning to all the countries of the world that US intends to take advantage of the global unipolar power situation to expand its influence over the global vital natural resources especially oil in order to subjugate the rest of the world. Countries, especially Iran, started forming economical and political alliances to counter the global bully – USA. The European Union invited Eastern Bloc states, separated now from Soviet Union, to join in. Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bolivia, Brunei, and Tobago had launched a Gas OPEC in April 9th 2007 to counter American control over Oil OPEC. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an Asian regional organization to enhance security, economic and cultural cooperation, was launched by China and Russia and encompasses central Asian states such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran has applied to enter this organization as a member to gain more support.
India, Russia, and China had entered into a trilateral cooperation agreement in February 2007 intended to promote international harmony and understanding. No doubt that the cooperation of these three Asian big powers is intended to counter the American influence in the region. Both China and Russia are allies of Iran, involved in extensive military cooperation agreements. They are major actors in Central Asian oil and have significant strategic and economic interests in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea basin.
The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a very busy President. He traveled to many countries to build bilateral relations and to gain political support. He visited the US to explain his country’s position concerning its nuclear program. He visited Venezuela and formed alliance with Chavez. He attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Cuba in September 2006. He visited Sudan in February 2007 and met with President Omar Al-Bashir in an attempt to improve political relations and criticized the West for meddling with Sudanese affairs in Darfur. He visited Gulf States including Saudi Arabia last March explaining that Iran has no conflict with them, yet advising them to expel the American military bases in their countries. He warned that in case of American war against Iran his country would strike these military bases that might result in some collateral damages to their countries. This visit led Kuwait to announce that it would not allow its country to be used as a launching pad for a war against Iran. Ahmadinejad had also visited Belarus last May to improve bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Monday, August 6th, Ahmadinejad visited Algeria, who had always stood against isolating Iran, to strengthen bilateral relations. Iran has also offered to share peaceful nuclear technology with Algeria; a clear statement that Iran has become a nuclear country, and a challenge to other nuclear technology exporting countries. Nicaragua has also singed an agreement with Iran on August 8th to export food stuff to Iran for Iranian help to build hydraulic power plants. Ahmadinejad’s visitations are clear proof of American failure to isolate Iran.

Iran has robust military capabilities as was demonstrated during August 2006 war games. Participating in the war games of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Iran had demonstrated large scale military capabilities. Iran has Russian sophisticated early warning radar stations, anti aircraft missile launchers, stealth long range Fajr and Shahab missile bases that could hit Israel, cruise missile sites scattered along Iranian borders, submarines and missile launching speed boats that could easily sink an aircraft carrier and block the Strait of Hormuz, and atop of all that Iran has 14 military airfields housing sophisticated Russian as well as Iranian air fighters. It was also revealed that Iran has produced pilotless stealth drones with a range of 700km that are undetected by radars. Iran is adding to its air power 250 advanced long-range Russian made Sukhoi-30 multi mode fighter jets that could function as air patrol, air defense, ground attack, and air-to-air combat.

The most feared and effective Iranian weapon is the carrier destroying supersonic Russian-built SS-N-27B missile, know to American military as the sizzler. This missile has the potential of performing high defensive maneuvers including sharp-angled dodges. This missile could not be detected until it hits its target. The American navy has no assurances that its Aegis system is capable of detecting, tracking and intercepting this sizzler.

Iran is capable of defending itself and would inflict large casualties on its attackers.

On the other side the American/Israeli position is getting weaker. Bush’s lies to attack Iraq were exposed, atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers against Iraqis filled foreign media, CIA’s illegal renditions and tortures became well known around the world, and the Israeli murders of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of their homes, the usurpation of their land, and Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and their intent to wipe Palestinians off existence are being globally recognized and opposed by so many nations and political organizations. The world no longer trust the US nor Israel.

Americans themselves had lost confidence in their administration and in their decisions. The US army is having trouble meeting their recruiting goals, so it is offering $20,000 bonus to new and prior recruits, who would ship out to Iraq and Afghanistan within 30 days after training. The Administration finds it very expensive to replace cheap regular soldiers with the very expensive “Blackwater” professional mercenaries.

Arab governments allied with the US, such as Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States are afraid that war on Iran would engulf and consume their countries and results in their loss of leaderships. US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, had accused Saudi Arabia and other Iraqi neighboring countries (CNN interview Sunday 7/29) of destabilizing Iraq and opening their borders to terrorists to enter Iraq. Iraqi officials had also accused Saudi Arabia of funding Sunni fighters in Iraq. Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates needed to exercise arms twisting during their visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia (end of July) to put these governments back in line.

The Administration is still having trouble drawing and implementing plans to create an emergency oil reserve in case Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz. Oil prices are swinging up and down every week.

The neoconservative Bush administration, and its supporting military complex, considers war on Iran as the fuse that will explode the whole Middle Eastern region into a state of “constructive chaos” that would allow them to implement their “New Middle East” plans. Unlike the war on Iraq, which was merely a testing experiment, the war on Iran, as was discovered lately, needs thorough planning due to anticipated long lasting effects on global economy, and reshaping of global political structures especially in the Middle Eastern region.

Although Iran is a member of the NPT and it keeps emphasizing that its nuclear program is peaceful and had offered international monitoring of its nuclear facilities, there is still fear that Iran might one day develop a bomb. Such bomb would tip the power balance in the Middle East and become a deterrent to Israeli aggression and expansion, and might force Israel to accept a peace treaty with the Arabs. It could also form an obstacle to the American expansion in the Middle East and South East Asia. The French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, at the time, stated that Iran wants to have the bomb as a self-defense deterrent weapon, while French President, Jacques Chirac, stated that “nuclear Iran does not pose any threat on world peace”. He, later, was pressured to withdraw this statement. Israeli officials, on the other hand, keep threatening to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the US does not do it.

Continuously threatening to strike Iran, Cheney keeps urging Bush to directly confront Iran by launching air strikes against alleged Iranian terrorist training camps. Despite Afghan President, Hamid Karzai’s declaration during his interview on CNN Sunday August 8th that “So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)”, President Bush keeps threatening Iran of consequences of “… transporting, delivering EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that kill Americans in Iraq”. Bush ignores the fact that the British Independent had revealed on March 5th 2006 that these alleged Iranian explosive devices were initially created by the British Security Services in the early 1990s, and that when the military provided reporters with pictures of theses explosives they had names, specifications and manufacturing dates in English not in Farsi.

The Administration is spreading fear of expanding nuclear Iran in the Gulf States. To allegedly counter and contain the growing power of Iran in oil Gulf region the Administration is seeking a congressional approval of an arm sale package to the Gulf States; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and UAE, totaling to $20 billions. This sale would include advanced weaponry such as advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to fighter planes, and new naval vessels.

These advanced weapons would be stored in the desert for the use of the American military if and when a 911 or a Gulf of Tonken similar attack happens against an American base or naval vessel in the Gulf. Then the Administration would claim it its duty to retaliate against Iran in self-defense. Such a scenario might take place at the end of Bush’s presidency, when his administration would start the war and leave the mess to the next administration to clean up.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Uncle Sam, Your Banker Will See You Now

Early this morning China let the idiots in Washington, and on Wall Street, know that it has them by the short hairs. Two senior spokesmen for the Chinese government observed that China’s considerable holdings of US dollars and Treasury bonds “contributes a great deal to maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency.”

Should the US proceed with sanctions intended to cause the Chinese currency to appreciate, “the Chinese central bank will be forced to sell dollars, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar.”

If Western financial markets are sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the message, US interest rates will rise regardless of any further action by China. At this point, China does not need to sell a single bond. In an instant, China has made it clear that US interest rates depend on China, not on the Federal Reserve.

The precarious position of the US dollar as reserve currency has been thoroughly ignored and denied. The delusion that the US is “the world’s sole superpower,” whose currency is desirable regardless of its excess supply, reflects American hubris, not reality. This hubris is so extreme that only 6 weeks ago McKinsey Global Institute published a study that concluded that even a doubling of the US current account deficit to $1.6 trillion would pose no problem.

Strategic thinkers, if any remain who have not been purged by neocons, will quickly conclude that China’s power over the value of the dollar and US interest rates also gives China power over US foreign policy. The US was able to attack Afghanistan and Iraq only because China provided the largest part of the financing for Bush’s wars.

If China ceased to buy US Treasuries, Bush’s wars would end. The savings rate of US consumers is essentially zero, and several million are afflicted with mortgages that they cannot afford. With Bush’s budget in deficit and with no room in the US consumer’s budget for a tax increase, Bush’s wars can only be financed by foreigners.

No country on earth, except for Israel, supports the Bush regimes’ desire to attack Iran. It is China’s decision whether it calls in the US ambassador, and delivers the message that there will be no attack on Iran or further war unless the US is prepared to buy back $900 billion in US Treasury bonds and other dollar assets.

The US, of course, has no foreign reserves with which to make the purchase. The impact of such a large sale on US interest rates would wreck the US economy and effectively end Bush’s war-making capability. Moreover, other governments would likely follow the Chinese lead, as the main support for the US dollar has been China’s willingness to accumulate them. If the largest holder dumped the dollar, other countries would dump dollars, too.

The value and purchasing power of the US dollar would fall. When hard-pressed Americans went to Wal-Mart to make their purchases, the new prices would make them think they had wandered into Nieman Marcus. Americans would not be able to maintain their current living standard.

Simultaneously, Americans would be hit either with tax increases in order to close a budget deficit that foreigners will no longer finance or with large cuts in income security programs. The only other source of budgetary finance would be for the government to print money to pay its bills. In this event, Americans would experience inflation in addition to higher prices from dollar devaluation.

This is a grim outlook. We got in this position because our leaders are ignorant fools. So are our economists, many of whom are paid shills for some interest group. So are our corporate leaders whose greed gave China power over the US by offshoring the US production of goods and services to China. It was the corporate fat cats who turned US Gross Domestic Product into Chinese imports, and it was the “free trade, free market economists” who egged it on.

How did a people as stupid as Americans get so full of hubris?

By Paul Craig Roberts