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Hermit
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Target Tehran
« on: 2006-04-04 13:36:27 »
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So we didn't see action in the last weeks of March (other than the dollar heading southwards). Was this because the introduction of the Iranian Bourse was delayed? Or is the bombing of Iran (which like the American political interference in Iran will be in breach of specific treaty as well as being, like our disaster in Iraq, in breach of our UN commitments) being reserved for later this year as an essential adjunct to ensuring a (the nun-dulcet strains of a brass band fill the room) Republican Victory in the mid-term elections or "homeland insecurity" (the two now being largely interchangeable). Whatever the reason,  we are at least too late for a spring campaign this year. In the UK, intelligence insiders are abuzz with the rumor that the U.S. strike against Iran will now occur between Labor Day (2006-09-04) and election day (2006-11-06), just in time to ensure record fuel prices (and oil company profits) next winter.  Note that speculation says it may  come earlier if the BurningBush'sTM popularity continues its precipitous decline.

Immediately after Condoleezza Rice's secret meetings during her schmoozing weekend, Gen. Sir Michael Walker (Chief of the Defense Staff); Lt. Gen. Andrew Ridgway (Chief of Defense Intelligence), and Maj. Gen. Bill Rollo (Assistant Chief of the General Staff) attended a secret meeting with senior officials from Downing Street and the Foreign Office to discuss the US' intention to strike Iran's nuclear sites later this year or early next year. A military recommendation that the UK not be publicly involved in the next Bush/Rice debacle (and probable expensive fall-out) were ruled out of order. Rather than speculation, a U.S. strike against multiple targets in Iran is positively in the pipeline and the UK has, once again, been drafted as a willing accomplice by the B-team; the units, targets and payloads have already been selected; and are not negotiable. Only the date remains flexible.

All this belligerent activity and the associated public threats (terrorism) are highly illegal, contrary to treaty obligations and the UN charter, and like the US decision to invade Iraq even before trying (and failing) to get a resolution from the UN sanctioning it, points to the fact that if "preemptive action" as advocated by the USA and UK ever could be justified, then surely Iran would be fully justified taking "preemptive action" against the US and the UK. Which would presumably be grounds for massive reprisals. Here lies insanity.

Speaking of insanity, subsequent to the news that Cheney spends his "downtime" glued to Fox Television, I am beginning to suspect that rather than the incumbent administration (no matter how nasty) setting American policy, no matter how self-serving; they may simply be responding, like far too many others, not all American, to Rupert Murdoch's special brand of Zion first. For a current topical example, you need look no further than  The Telegraph's rather hysterical opinion setting piece (but containing one utter gem, "the fact that we made mistakes in the past is not a reason to make more mistakes in the future.").

If this is the case, does anyone have any thoughts on how to stop the insanity spreading? And I don't want to hear suggestions about bombing Washington any more than I want to hear suggestions about bombing Tehran - or Jerusalem. No matter how much the politicians may deserve it, these cities are all home to large populations of rather nice people - and vast irreplaceable storehouses of mankind's past. Of course, that never stopped an American or Israeli yet. Iran is the one country in this morass that has defended herself, but not attacked anyone - preemptively or not.

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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #1 on: 2006-04-04 20:14:15 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2006-04-04 13:36:27   
Iran is the one country in this morass that has defended herself, but not attacked anyone - preemptively or not.

I think it would be fair to say "officially" or similar. Iran has armed and funded miltant proxy groups across the globe that have waged war and used terror.

It is unable to project military power far beyond its borders, but this does not mean it is somehow innocent. It has been as active as any state can be in espionage and low intensity operations.

Iran should be an example of the CoV's worst nightmare. I would have thought theocratic states are are arch-enemies. After all, it would take 100 years of uninterrupted Bush presidency to being the United States to the level of today's Iran in terms of reigious extremism and intolerance.

For what it is worth, I do not think the USA or Israel will attack Iran this year or next. I think Iran is playing North Korea style brinkmanship and the USA knows it.

Kind regards

Jonathan





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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #2 on: 2006-04-05 23:09:25 »
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[Hermit 1] Iran is the one country in this morass that has defended herself, but not attacked anyone - preemptively or not.

[JonathanDavis 2] I think it would be fair to say "officially" or similar. Iran has armed and funded miltant proxy groups across the globe that have waged war and used terror.

[Hermit 3] Careful and clever, even devious use of phrasing there. My compliments. Of course, such insinuation does not affect the underlying fact you have so sensibly not attempted to reject. Sensible in that it is unarguable. A further factoid which should be noted in a relative way is that, so far as I am aware, the use of militant proxy groups by the USA and Israel has resulted in many more deaths than anything done by Iran. You are welcome to try to correct me if you think I am wrong. While being blunt, it is also worth noting that the charge you levy against Iran may be unsupportable. Iran has arguably supported the Palestinians (well in excess of 3,000 killed by Israel since 2000, and over 600,000 Palestinians unable to afford even basic necessities for subsistence), refer e.g.  BBC) and their efforts to establish a government, supported the Lebanese (where around 100,000 civilians were killed during Israel's occupation) may have supported the Chechens (Independent estimates reflect in excess of 180,000 civilians killed by Russia, refer e.g. Wikipedia) and to a  (disgracefully limited) extent, supported the Bosnian Muslims (in excess of 200,000 "ethically cleansed" as the world stood by and did nothing refer e.g. History Place.) I am aware that this charity has been described as "supporting terrorists", but I'm not persuaded that this support was (or is) any different to those who supported Nelson Mandela and the ANC's "war on teachers" or the Free French resistance during WW II. Can you think of any "militant proxy group" or indeed, any militant group at all, which has been supported by Iran which is or was not the underdog in a nasty situation?

[Jonathan Davis 2] It is unable to project military power far beyond its borders, but this does not mean it is somehow innocent.

[Hermit 3] I'm fairly sure that this is wrong (think about the strategic position - a map or even better, Google Earth might help clear your thinking, think Hormuz), but would suggest that were your statement correct, it would prove that it is not Iran which is a threat to anyone, but rather those who are in a position to "project military power far beyond its borders". I suggest that in the Middle East today that the USA and Israel best match this description.

[Jonathan Davis 2] It has been as active as any state can be in espionage and low intensity operations.

[Hermit 3] Given that the CIA's budget alone, at $44 billion in 2005 is almost 10% of Iran's national $552.8 billion GDP, and that the US has ongoing "low intensity" operations in South America, the Pacific, Central and Southern Asia which are as comprehensively nasty as they are deniable, I don't think this statement can be correct.

[JonathanDavis 2] Iran should be an example of the CoV's worst nightmare.

[Hermit 3] Surely not if they are "unable to project military power far beyond [their] borders." Certainly not from a memetic basis. The only potential CoV to Islam convert I have heard of is not considering any of the complex mix of Islam found in Iraq - and Afaik, is not considering this possibility due to any action taken by Iran. So why should we see them as our "worst nightmare", rather than as simply being ethically challenged (but no more so than any common or garden shifty eyed Christian fundamentalists) due to their virulent memeplex?

[Jonathan Davis 2] I would have thought theocratic states are are arch-enemies. After all, it would take 100 years of uninterrupted Bush presidency to being the United States to the level of today's Iran in terms of reigious extremism and intolerance.

[Hermit 3] When did you last visit either Iran or the USA? I suggest that for many of their respective residents their similarities are much greater than the obvious differences. May I remind you of the cartoon first posted here by Lucifer:
.

[Jonathan Davis 2] For what it is worth, I do not think the USA or Israel will attack Iran this year or next. I think Iran is playing North Korea style brinkmanship and the USA knows it.

[Hermit 3] I think N Korea has maybe won, largely because of their location and their lack of oil. I think that Iran has maybe lost unless GW Bush is impeached or the US becomes even more ensnared in some other morass. I think that if Iran is attacked, then we all lose again. I fail to see any benefits to Iran or Iranians of the current situation beyond the ability to use the "Great Satan" to herd some small percentage of her population further into the lager. And Iran does not seem to need to take any action to achieve this. America is apparently completely competent to do this without assistance.

[Jonathan Davis 2] Kind regards

[Hermit 3] Usually :-).
« Last Edit: 2006-04-05 23:10:36 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #3 on: 2006-04-08 18:07:17 »
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US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran

Source: Yahoo
Authors: Not Stated. AFP Washington credited. Refers to article in New Yorker Magazine, April 17th, by Seymour Hersh
Dated: 2006-04-08

The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

"That's the name they're using," the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that "this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war."

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational," Hersh writes.

One former defense official said the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government," The New Yorker pointed out.

In recent weeks, the president has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of the House of Representatives, including at least one Democrat, the report said.

One of the options under consideration involves the possible use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, to insure the destruction of Iran's main centrifuge plant at Natanz, Hersh writes.

But the former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning after an attempt to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans in Iran failed, according to the report.

"There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the magazine quotes the Pentagon adviser as saying.

The adviser warned that bombing Iran could provoke "a chain reaction" of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world and might also reignite Hezbollah.

"If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle," the adviser is quoted as telling The New Yorker.
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #4 on: 2006-04-09 12:30:53 »
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Bush plans strike on Iran's nuclear sites

Source: The Times
Authors: Sarah Baxter, Michael Smith
Dated: 2006-04-09

PLANS are under way for a massive bombing strike on sites where Iran is believed to be enriching uranium before President George W Bush leaves office in less than three years’ time.

Both Bush and Dick Cheney, his vice-president, regard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, as a new Hitler who cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and carry out his fantasy of wiping Israel off the map.

Although they hope that diplomatic efforts to restrain Iran will succeed, “it is not in their nature to bequeath the problem to their successors”, a senior White House source said last week.

The Pentagon is believed to be considering options that would allow it to destroy facilities such as Iran’s main centrifuge plant at Natanz in a single night of bombing.

Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative, said that an attack could “be over before anybody knew what had happened. The only question then would be what the Iranians might do in retaliation”.

Defence analysts believe the most likely weapon is Big Blu, a 30,000lb bunker-buster bomb that will be ready for use towards the end of 2007.

A report by Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter, in tomorrow’s New Yorker magazine claims the Pentagon is also considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon. A refusal to rule out the nuclear option has reportedly led some officers to talk of resigning.

“There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” Hersh quotes a Pentagon adviser as saying.

The Bush government has been inviting defence consultants and Middle East experts to the White House and Pentagon for advice.

The favoured scenario is an attack using a small number of ground attack aircraft flying out of the British dependency of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The British would have to approve the use of the American base there for an attack and would be asked to play a supporting role by providing air-to-air refuelling or sending surveillance aircraft, ships and submarines.

Senior Pentagon planners recently advised the White House that they did not yet have accurate intelligence on the whereabouts of all Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites and several were buried under granite. At present it could hope to set back the Iranians’ nuclear programme by only two years.

American officials remain divided about the wisdom of a military strike. A senior White House source said opinion was in a “state of flux” and added: “We can bomb the sites, but what then?” It was important to plan for an escalation of the conflict, the source said.

The assumption that British forces would take part in an attack on Iran will be deeply embarrassing to the government. The Foreign Office has insisted that a diplomatic solution is still possible.
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #5 on: 2006-04-14 04:51:08 »
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #6 on: 2006-04-14 14:19:54 »
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Confusing US interests for Israeli interests is a category error, even though apparently typical of most Fox viewers, and thus many Americans [ Refer, e.g. "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"(PDF), or a follow-up, "Israel and Moral Blackmail " ]. Let me cite one of my favorite sources, myself.
Quote from: Hermit on 2006-02-22 16:39:00   
...Israel, perceiving herself to be gravely threatened, with a stockpile of 200+ devices, in addition to a hells-kitchen of biochemical weapons, the means to deliver such munitions, an extreme level of anti-US intelligence activity, a much higher technological capacity than Iran, and a proven willingness to attack US assets, presents much more of a threat to the US than Iran - even if Iran had the nuclear capacity that she does not currently have, says she is not developing, and for which there is no credible evidence.


Iran did not "invent suicide bombing." "Suicidal" activity connected with warfare has been a "feature" of life since at least Masada (still celebrated by the Israeli Defense Force as an heroic example - and where investiture as a commissioned officer in the IDF takes place). When people who don't spend all their waking hours scratching their balls while watching "faux" TV, listening to "Talk radio" and visiting with their Israeli obsessive ideological peers think of "suicide bombing", they think of the "Divine Wind" or Kamikaze pilots. And the Japanese don't think of them as terrorists. Suicide actions have also been a feature of many British, French and American actions, but when we do it, as with the Japanese, it is seen as "heroic" (think of " The Charge Of The Light Brigade " by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I suggest that separating these examples is impossible, stupid and discriminatory. When people see no alternative to death but dishonor, and perceive their value as low enough to sacrifice themselves, then it is not usually the individual but the situation which has lead to this. Be they Japanese, American, English, French or Palestinian. Generally, objections to suicidal strategies indicate only a poor education and lack of empathy.

Hizbullah was founded to resist the illegal Israeli occupation of the Lebanon, and like most Islamic groups, also engaged in charity to the poor and oppressed. Hizbullah is regarded by many in the Arab and Muslim world as a legitimate resistance movement and is a significant political party in Lebanon. While the United States (and various other Israeli/US aligned governments) regard it as a terrorist organization (a problem which seems to be spreading with "democracy" - something America does not aspire to unless it is "controlled"), Hizbullah still maintains a civilian arm, which runs hospitals, news services, educational facilities and participates in the Lebanese Parliament (represented in the 2005 government) and also maintains a military wing - just as American States still maintain a National Guard (only, with much more reason, given the malevolent neighbor  sitting just across their border).

Because of the above, and despite NeoConartist sleight of words, the UN does not perceive Hizbullah as terrorists, and neither does Iraq. I suggest that America would not either, were America able to distinguish between American and Israeli interests. Which the aforementioned report makes clear is not the case. Which is perhaps why America prolongs the agony of the Middle East by providing material and "moral" support to the genocidal Israelis instead of shutting down aid to and contact with Israel until the Zionists sit down and engage in meaningful negotiation with their targets and neighbors. Certainly, while America is the largest - and most effective - terrorist organization in the Middle East, with their partner in war-crime, Israel coming a close second, any claim made here to disapprove of "terror" tactics, but only when deployed against them, must strike a hollow chord in the minds of those have been subjected to so much tragic "help" in the recent past.

Despite NeoConeHeaded American racist bigotry, as exemplified by the innuendo inserted here, the people of the middle east are clearly sufficiently intelligent to identify American support and enabling factor for Israel's unethical, illegal position and  grotesque abuse of the Palestinians, as a major contributing factor to the misery and distress seen throughout that region. Not having a offense budget 40 times larger than the next 10 war-centric nations put together, nor a stockpile of WMDs like Israel and her client America, and having found a strategy which has resulted in the US doing far more harm to herself than even the most optimistic anti-American Islamic strategist could have dreamed of, and having created an environment, like the Levant created by Israel, or Afghanistan created by the Soviets, America has created a breeding and training ground for the next generations of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists by demolishing the social structure and security, made life cheap if not worthless, and forced parents to recognise that they cannot succour their children.

Living here as I do, and having disliked, from childhood, having a target attached to my rear, pardon me if I don't say, "Well done NeoCunts."

As the alleged words of the Iranian president are not here, and he is not available to correct you if they are incorrect (which, quite probably having being translated by an Israeli aligned translator is far from impossible), I'm not going to address them any more than to say that even had he said them, that they are easily more defensible than e.g. Sharon's well documented involvement in and responsibility for actual terrorism as opposed to words, Israeli Politician often stated intentions to eliminate Palestinians or even Bush' claim that his "God" told him to rule America, invade Afghanistan and trash Iraq.

At the end of the day, Iraq is Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Saddam Hussein without the baggage. The only way that Iran is a danger to anyone is if she is attacked and forced to respond with actions which are self-harmful but would also hurt her likely attackers (See, suicidal strategies are the sign of technological inferiority and weak social systems (I'd argue that a weak intellect comes into it too. Look at GW Bush as an example). Iran currently lacks the ability to instigate hostile action with any hope of projecting it far; as other Islamic nations would band against her if she did, just as readily as they would act in support of her were she attacked.

Finally, Iran has every right to import peaceful nuclear technology and to develop indigenous nuclear technology even if this ends up meaning that, like India, they eventually join the Nuclear club. Which, in my opinion, America having destroyed the arguments for non-proliferation and removed the barriers to proliferation, as well as threatening Iran and voiding treaties with her, would probably be a good thing for regional stability.

Hermit
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #7 on: 2006-04-25 14:33:13 »
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I think that I have finally confirmed through (Memri.org), that which I had previously only suspected, i.e. that Iran’s president, Muhammed Ahmadinejad, did not actually suggest that Israel be `wiped off the face of the map,’but, if I have identified the furor causing speech from the "The World Without Zionism" conference correctly, simply quoted Khomeini, who did use the phrase. This was cited in der Spiegel as
Quote:
Ahmadinejad, quoted Khomeini's demand that Israel be "wiped off the map."
, but this important attribution was apparently lost or ignored in the English translations.

As I said when first responding on this thread, it is worth being extremely cautious of translations  from the Middle East, as my observation has been that most of the translators appear to be carrying axes. Add to this the selective quotation indulged in by every right wing blogger and talk-(crap)-show operator, competently egged on by the allegedly imaginary yet nonetheless apparently effective lobby and we have little chance of touching base with reality except through the complete refusal to accept unlikely allegations without strong confirmatory evidence.

The full speech can be read at http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP101305
Quote:
"Prior to his statement, Ahmadinejad said that if you plan to chant the slogan 'Death to Israel,' say it in the right and complete way.

"The president warned the leaders of the Islamic world that they should be wary of Fitna [civil strife]: 'If someone is under the pressure of hegemonic power [i.e. the West] and misunderstands something is wrong, or he is naïve, or he is an egotist and his hedonism leads him to recognize the Zionist regime – he should know that he will burn in the fire of the Islamic Ummah [nation]…'

<snip>

"'When the dear Imam [Khomeini] said that [the Shah's] regime must go, and that we demand a world without dependent governments, many people who claimed to have political and other knowledge [asked], 'Is it possible [that the Shah’s regime can be toppled]?'

"'That day, when Imam [Khomeini] began his movement, all the powers supported [the Shah's] corrupt regime… and said it was not possible. However, our nation stood firm, and by now we have, for 27 years, been living without a government dependent on America. Imam [Khomeni] said: 'The rule of the East [U.S.S.R.] and of the West [U.S.] should be ended.' But the weak people who saw only the tiny world near them did not believe it.

"'Nobody believed that we would one day witness the collapse of the Eastern Imperialism [i.e. the U.S.S.R], and said it was an iron regime. But in our short lifetime we have witnessed how this regime collapsed in such a way that we must look for it in libraries, and we can find no literature about it.

"'Imam [Khomeini] said that Saddam [Hussein] must go, and that he would be humiliated in a way that was unprecedented. And what do you see today? A man who, 10 years ago, spoke as proudly as if he would live for eternity is today chained by the feet, and is now being tried in his own country...

"'Imam [Khomeini] said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.' This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise.

<snip>
Notice how elegantly the words were stripped of context as well as attribution. I suggest that this was deliberately done. When a prosecutor does this to get a conviction at any cost, we know why it was done and we overturn the conviction. In order to protect ourselves from being mislead, we need to establish who turned these words into "letters of fire", and why this was done; but this is not necessary to  realise that somebody has an agenda here, that it almost certainly is not to our benefit to sign on to it, and to reject the hobsonian conclusion which the purveyors of this editing attempted to force us to reach.

Hermit

If, as M. Scott Peck wrote, "Mental health entails an unwavering commitment to reality at all costs" then perhaps Our Dear MisleadershipTM is really not very well at all.
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #8 on: 2006-05-08 13:45:45 »
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[Hermit] No sooner suggested than confirmed. As mispoken by Our Dear MisleaderTM himself, reported by Forbes:
Quote:
Bush said Friday he was paying close attention to threats made against Israel by Ahmadinejad, who recently questioned Israel's right to exist and said the country should be wiped off the map.
"I think that it's very important for us to take his words very seriously," he told the German newspaper Bild, according to a transcript released Sunday. "When people speak, it is important that we listen carefully to what they say and take them seriously."

[Hermit] Does this mean Our Dear MisleaderTM wasn't listening carefully enough? Or that his attention was as usual in the wrong misplaced?
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #9 on: 2006-05-09 03:24:02 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2006-05-08 13:45:45   

[Hermit] No sooner suggested than confirmed. As mispoken by Our Dear MisleaderTM himself, reported by Forbes:
Quote:
Bush said Friday he was paying close attention to threats made against Israel by Ahmadinejad, who recently questioned Israel's right to exist and said the country should be wiped off the map.
"I think that it's very important for us to take his words very seriously," he told the German newspaper Bild, according to a transcript released Sunday. "When people speak, it is important that we listen carefully to what they say and take them seriously."

[Hermit] Does this mean Our Dear MisleaderTM wasn't listening carefully enough? Or that his attention was as usual in the wrong misplaced?


[Blunderov] It would be irrational for the USA to attack Iran. One does not have to do anything more than apply ordinary common sense to come to this conclusion. The worry is that Bush is not rational about what can and cannot be achieved militarily. This has been shown.

What he is rational about, apparently, is his "legacy".  He must realise full well that he will be recalled with scorn whenever he is not remembered with derision on his present showing. And there are some inconvenient elections looming...

He is in a political corner at the moment. It is imperative that he be contained there.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-spiro-clark/slouching-towards-tehran_b_20647.html

Slouching Towards Tehran
Elizabeth Spiro Clark

Where are the calls to stop the Bush administration from taking military action against Iran, despite a loud chorus of voices warning of its disastrous consequences? Critics list the consequences -- escalation (with no troops to escalate with), oil shocks, increased terrorism, worsening insurgency in Iraq, weakening the nonproliferation regime, a stronger Ahmadinejad, and international isolation -- but few come out and call bombing Iran the worst worse-case scenario.

The inability of the Democrats to insert themselves into this debate is a factor, but, that aside, it is important to ask why the debate is shaping up as if the Bush administration's threats are not to be believed.

Even when critics go so far as to call a military strike the worst of options, they are ducking the central issue by failing to condemn the military option. Many find it easy to argue that the administration hasn't exhausted all the diplomatic options and therefore the debate should focus on diplomacy. But does the administration look like it wants to run the diplomacy course? Carnegie Endowment President Jessica Tuchman Matthews laid out in a March 21 New York Times editorial what the U.S. has to do to get negotiations going on the nuclear question; most importantly, dropping preconditions on negotiations and dropping regime change ambitions. The Bush administration has done neither. A drumfire of statements and signals points in the opposite direction. Only yesterday, a senior White House official said that when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President George W. Bush would explicitly reject any appeal from Merkel asking him to accept direct negotiations with Iran.

Because there appears to be time for diplomacy -- "just begun" according to Secretary of State Rice -- critics put themselves in the position of accepting the president's basic position that, as he put it April 28, "the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the knowledge as to how to make a nuclear weapon." Former special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross' op-ed in the May 1 Washington Post is a recent example of how pundits who ought to know better avoid tackling the implications of Bush's position head on. Ross urges the president to offer the Iranians carrots as well as sticks as a way, he throws out almost casually, to avoid resorting to a "difficult messy use of force once again." Why not focus his article on the "difficult messy use of force," and offer some judgment on whether the president would be likely to accept Ross' recommendations?

Accepting that force, however "messy and difficult," may be ultimately "necessary" lessens pressure on the administration to make the concessions necessary for negotiations to have any chance of success. Choosing not to condemn the use of military force against Iran gives the Bush administration a blank check in the event of "diplomatic failure," however the administration chooses to define it. It ignores indicators that while diplomacy may have "just begun," it may have a short life. Can it be coincidence that eight retired generals were calling for Rumsfeld's resignation at the precise moment information on planning for military strikes on Iran were on the other side of front pages? Or rather, was it a measure of their alarm?

Critics pull their punches because they believe that, for all Bush's threats, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons, the U.S. in reality cannot launch a war against Iran. A military strike, as Iran expert Gary Sick has pointed out, must lead to escalation, for which the U.S. does not have the troops. An attack on Iran would be "irrational." The "irrationality" of an attack is believed to be insurance against attack. It is also therefore assumed to be part of a hardball diplomacy strategy -- and a useful asset in that strategy. However, an attack that is against the attacker's self interest cannot also be credible brinksmanship. We aren't increasing the chances Bush's hardball diplomacy will work if it can't be taken seriously. Sy Hersh in the April 17 New Yorker reports a former IAEA official as saying "there's nothing the Iranians could do that would result in a positive outcome ... Even if they announce a stoppage of enrichment, nobody will believe them."

Critics who are confident they can put off writing their "don't do it" columns because of the irrationality of the strike should consider how a strike is rational -- from Bush's perspective. Bush faces a predicament. Whether or not he draws down, withdraws or stays in Iraq, the war will secure his place in history as a failure. A second and related predicament is that if the Democrats capture the House this fall he will spend his last two years fighting investigations, censures and even impeachment -- unless he sets himself down in a different geopolitical landscape.

If Bush attacks Iran he can and will cast the action not only as preempting a nuclear threat but also as a necessary action in the "long war" against terrorism. In fact, an attack on Iran will give the administration a new story line on Iraq -- Iranian machinations. In February, Sen. Byrd asked Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and General Pace whether the $75 million special appropriations requested to aid Iranian democrats could be used to attack Iran. The answer was basically yes, ambiguously couched in the context of targeting Iranian terrorists operating in Iraq. Victory in Iraq will be linked to action against Iran.

From the perspective of personal ideology, in attacking Iran, Bush reinforces his commander-in-chief role and the "good versus evil" rhetoric he is comfortable with -- Iranian President Ahmadinejad playing his part to the hilt. By acting to protect Israel, Bush will appeal to his religious fundamentalist base and -- in all likelihood -- his own faith convictions. A military strike would also be an expression of Bush and his core constituency's sense of their identity as Americans, namely, that the way the U.S. imposes its dominance globally is through force. In a military strike on Iran scenario, the cure for the failure of force in Iraq is to use more force, much as Vietnam diehards remain convinced that with more force the war could have been won. This is a Brer Rabbit moment, throwing Bush into a place he really wants to be, where force or the threat of force become the only tools of U.S. foreign policy left.

It is of course possible that reality -- including domestic political realities -- will knock desperate or delusional White House plans back on their heels and force moves toward real diplomacy. It is also possible that Bush will allow a hollow diplomacy game to run out and then do nothing about its failure. This would put Bush in a familiar position of being both intransigent and ineffective -- but covered by his intelligence chief's assessment that Iran is years away from having a bomb. Whether by miscalculation or intention, a military strike is, however, a real risk. As Americans we need to take charge of our own risk assessments and refuse to link our futures to Bush's own badly played games of chance and posture. It is time to put up a roadblock ahead of any march to war.







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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #10 on: 2006-05-22 16:58:36 »
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Israel: Iran 'months' from making nukes

Prime minister says unilateral action not being considered

[Hermit: And here come the "special interests", in spades!

Despite having just destroyed the Soviet era weapons caches littering Afghanistan, with the US military complex tied up supplying the war of slow attrition in Iraq, the Bush administration is suddenly, urgently engaged in purchasing Russian materiel to  transform Afghanistan into an armory with enough supplies to fight non-stop for ten years (to keep Karzai in power after the US pulls out after the GOP loses the elections this year or is eventually thrown out of office if the elections are cancelled). However, the US acting as the non-NPT member-state, nuclear equipped Israel's poodle, continues its warmongering with Iran. "Security assurances are not on the table," Ms Rice told the Fox News Sunday television program, "It's obvious that in addition to the nuclear issue, we have other issues with Iran. We have a state in Iran that is devoted to the destruction of Israel. We have a state in Iran that meddles in the peace process" in the Middle East."

It seems that Ms Rice is as detached from reality as her bush-crazy boss. Does she not comprehend that her words apply more to America than to Iran?

As previously shown, Ahmadinejad doesn't think that he needs to destroy Israel, he thinks that it will, like the USSR and USA, self destruct - or perhaps that his god will do him the favor. Meanwhile nobody has shown that Iraq has either the materiel (according to the IAEA, we know that Iraq hasn't even reached 5% U235 concentrations even using Chinese UF6 (Uranium Hexafluoride) feedstock (their own gas isn't nearly pure enough), never mind the 80-90 % required for weapons grade materiel) or the desire to produce nuclear devices (indeed, they have repeatedly and explicitly stated that nuclear weapons are evil, undesirable and not wanted by them), but nevertheless, it seems that, in order to keep with Israel's agenda (before the GOP is deservedly thrown out on the trash - and the US ends up a one party state - another issue), the need to destroy Iran has become urgent. And, hopefully to nobody's great surprise, the nice genocidal Israelis explain that it is. Is urgent, that is.

Notice that the one reality - that the world has absolutely no grounds to bar Iran's peaceful enrichment process (indeed, in terms of the NPT the nuclear powers have a duty to assist them) has vanished from the discussion.]


Source: CNN
Authors: Not Credited
Dated: 2006-05-21

Iran is only months away from joining the club of nations that can make a nuclear weapon, Israel's prime minister said in a recent interview.

"The technological threshold is very close," Ehud Olmert said on CNN's "Late Edition" in an interview taped Thursday and broadcast Sunday.

"It can be measured by months rather than years." [Hermit: Israel and her American chorus said the same, with as little backing and with a similar absence of evidence, about Iraq. They were wrong then too. As it took Israel years from when they obtained complete and thorough details of the US device-manufacturing process (1962) to surreptitious detonation of her first device (1979), Ohmert knows this time-line is a total and complete fabrication with absolutely no truth in it*.] 

[Hermit: The slippery slope is greased.] Asked whether he believes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would halt his nation's nuclear-enrichment program under international pressure, Olmert said, "I prefer to take the necessary measures to stop it, rather than to find out later that my indifference was so dangerous."

Some observers disagree with Israel's characterization, saying Iran is five to 10 years away from being able to make a nuclear weapon. [Hermit: Indeed - but only if they wanted one - and they say they don't (I don't think it will be a tragedy if they do either).]

[Hermit: The direct lie is deployed.] Iran has ignored a U.N. Security Council demand that it stop nuclear-enrichment activities or face possible sanctions. [Hermit: The trouble with this assertion is that the UN has no right to do this - and even if it had, this is NOT even a slightly correct characterization of what the UN has done. Although it is how the US has asserted it should be interpreted.]

[Hermit: The Nazi club is brandished] In an allusion to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, Olmert said, "In modern times, we have to remember what happened when the world did not listen to dictators threatening other nations [with] annihilation."

Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel [Hermit: See previous posts on this thread, he didn't call for any such thing - and Olmert has suggested the destruction of Tehran. The difference is that Olmert could implement his threats.] and raised questions about whether the Holocaust happened [Hermit: Ahmadinejad didn't say that Germany didn't kill a lot of people, he, and many others, questioned whether it was because they were Jewish (or even if they were Jewish) and whether the Nazis were any worse than the allies. Many other people ask the same question, partly because of blatant Israeli use of this historical tragedy to attempt to defend the indefensible and their own genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. But even if he had, so what?] .

Most observers say Israel has long possessed nuclear weapons, but it has never acknowledged that publicly. [Hermit: Indeed - but watch this being ignored when Olmert replies.]  The country has shown it is willing to act unilaterally on nuclear matters, attacking and destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor facility at Osirak in 1981. [Hermit: Indeed - and that action was highly illegal, as well as highly hypocritical (Israel having just sneaked into the nuclear club herself) and drew strong condemnation from the US!) Condemnation which resulted in a number of UN resolutions - including Security Council resolutions - against Israel. Resolutions which Israel is still ignoring - and smarting over. Resolutions which it appears the US has forgotten. What short memories we have to be sure.]

Asked if Israel is planning a similar action against Iran, Olmert said the two situations are not analogous, as the world's attention is focused on Iran's nuclear ambitions, which was not the case 25 years ago with Iraq. [Hermit: AKA ducking the question.]

Olmert, who is visiting President Bush this week, said he hoped instead that "the responsible forces will take the necessary measures." [Hermit: The only measure that will satisfy Israel, with D-Day for the GOP about to arrive, is indeed "forces" - not "powers" which might suggest diplomacy, or "nothing" which is all that can be justified in the face of Israel's blackmail. Blackmail because Israel is effectively saying, "If you don't destroy Iran's industrial capability, then we will be forced to do it, and the bloodshed that follows will be on your hands."] He expressed confidence that Bush "will lead other nations in taking the necessary measures to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power." [Hermit: And the only effective measure in the little time that Bush has left is war. A war that Bush will no doubt claim is part of the "war against terror" already permitted by his congressional blank cheque - or which will suddenly become necessary when the dangerous NeoClowns announce that Iran has weaponized avian flu NB A speculative article worth reading.]

Asked if Israel might take unilateral action against Iran, Olmert said, "I don't think that we have come close to even considering it." [Hermit: Again ducking the question. Perhaps Olmert means, "I think that we have blackmailed America into doing it for us."]

GOP senator: Talk 'directly'

A prominent Republican lawmaker in the United States said Sunday that the Bush administration should end its opposition to direct talks with Iran.[Hermit: I'm not at all sure this is what he said, even if this is how it is being 'spun'. There is more than one form of "engagement" and when I read the paragraph about "nuclear proliferation" not getting "second chances" (Duh!) then I'm not sure that speech comes into it. But judge for yourself.]

"We, the United States, are going to have to engage Iran directly," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

"When you're talking about nuclear proliferation, you don't get many second chances," the Nebraska Republican told CNN.

The so-called EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- have led negotiations, which stalled earlier this year. China and Russia have also been involved in talks with Iran.

Iran's leaders have insisted that they are pursuing a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes, a claim challenged by the United States and much of the international community. [Hermit: Challenged in the total absence of actual evidence - or even grounded suspicions, it seems."]

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" that the international community has not asked the United States to promise Iran it will not attack or otherwise try to destabilize the regime.[Hermit: Regime, in Americanese, is merely another word for target, rather than a perfectly good word describing "a system under which progress occurs. Meaning that Bush's USA, while totalitarian, is not a operated by a regime.]

"What we're talking about is a package that will make clear to Iran that there are choices to be made: either that there will be sanctions and actions taken against Iran by the international community, or there's a way for them to meet their civil nuclear concerns," she said.

Rice added, "Iran is a troublemaker in the international system, a central banker of terrorism. Security assurances are not on the table."
[Hermit: Perhaps Rice has forgotten that the US, under Reagan, has signed and ratified exactly such an agreement with Iran. A treaty which the US is in breach of, as it included an undertaking not to interfere or attempt to destabilize Iran. What short memories we have, to be sure.]

Last week, Ahmadinejad rejected a possible European offer for incentives, including a light-water nuclear reactor, in return for giving up its uranium-enrichment program.

Light-water reactors are more difficult to use in the development of weapons than are heavy-water plants, which produce more nuclear material. [Hermit: A light-water reactor needs fuel. Which this plan means would come from elsewhere. Leaving Iran as vulnerable to sanctions as she is right now. Which is why Ahmadinejad sensibly characterised this offer as "They think they are dealing with a four-year-old child and want to fool him to exchange gold for a few nuts and sweets." Unfortunately, the abuse of sanctions - which we shouldn't forget, the US already has had against Iran for 20 years (to little effect - which is why I don't think the US will accept more of the same as an answer to current Israeli "fear-mongering"), has left Iran completely unwilling to rely on Western assurances. And Europe recognises this when their diplomats suggest, "only Washington has what it would take to persuade Iran to halt a uranium enrichment programme: American guarantees that it would not attempt to induce regime change in Iran, either militarily or by arming and financing opposition groups." Unfortunately, as we have repeatedly seen of late, Europe is incapable of withstanding America's potent mix of blandishments, threats and bribes to get others to toss their ethics out of the window and bow to the Republican's will. Iran, of course, knows that too.]

Iran insists that it has a right under the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty to produce nuclear fuel. But the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has called on Iranian officials to clear up unresolved questions about its intentions. [Hermit: Even while under huge American pressure, the IAEA has refused to draw the inference wich the NeoClowns are demanding. That a lack of evidence proving Iran does not have a military nuclear program is proof that they do.]

The Security Council has been debating a resolution, backed by the United States, Britain and France, that would give the demand the force of international law and open the door to possible sanctions if Iran continues to refuse.

Russia and China, two of the council's veto-wielding permanent members, have said they oppose sanctions. [Hermit: Given America's previous use of Section VII measures (which is what the "sanctions" the US is pushing for would be) to "justify" attacks, it is to be hoped that Beijing and Moscow will have the balls to stand up to American pressure, rather than simply selling Iran out in the same way as they sold-out Iraq.]

Democrats seek intelligence estimate

[Hermit: But intelligence, as we have seen of late, is in extremely short supply in America.]

Some U.S. intelligence officials have estimated, based on the assumption that Iran has only slower, "P-1" centrifuges for enriching uranium, that the country is five to 10 years away from making a nuclear weapon. But Ahmadinejad recently asserted that Iran is "now under the process of research and testing" of faster "P-2" centrifuges.[Hermit: But as noted above, they can't feed their P-2's with UF6 derived from their P-1 centrifuge's. Which means that they don't yet have a production facility*]

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel power plants or, in much higher concentrations, to produce nuclear weapons.[Hermit: Watch the elegant glissando here. Nobody in the media is saying that which anyone with Physics 101 and an interest in the subject has to know. The "higher concentrations" mentioned here are completely different from anything Iran is doing. This is another purely "slippery slope" conjunction which should affect only the disturbingly uneducated. Given that there are presumably some competent people advising the politicians in the US (and in her leash holder Israel), this means that the entire news production here is based on yet another deliberate fabrication!)]

The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said last month that "we really don't know" how close Iran is to developing a nuclear weapon. [Hermit: Indeed. And as Iraq should have shown, this is not the same as saying, "Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon." We surely do know that we have - and Israel has - nuclear weapons. We surely do know that we have - and Israel has - threatened other nations. Especially, of late, Iran. Where is the outcry about this?]

"We've got a long way to go in rebuilding our intelligence community," Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican, told Fox News. [Hermit: First this means finding some intelligent people. Secondly it means developing some ethics. Thirdly it means learning how to appraise intelligence honestly. None of which seems likely.]

Rep. Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, concurred that "our intelligence is thin." [Hermit: Indeed. cf supra.]

Five key Senate Democrats asked President Bush on Friday to order a new national intelligence estimate on Iran to avoid repeating misjudgments with intelligence that were made in the months leading up to the war in Iraq.  [Hermit: So now the same neoclowns who bent, folded and mutilated the crappy unintelligence to meet their agenda in Iraq are invited to do the same thing around Iran. Does nobody around here feel the need to learn from their massive blunders self-evident to all but the utterly deluded? “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” [Albert Einstein] ]

Led by Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the senators also asked for an unclassified summary of the estimate's key findings "to facilitate the public debate." [Hermit: "public hysteria" is a much better description of what happens in public these days. Debate is dead. Debate requires consideration, a willingness to be reasonable and the ability to be logical. I fear that it appears to me that these qualities have been bred or trained out of the public.]


[Hermit]
* High energy methods of separation are available, and for example, gas diffusion was used by the US to produce her early weapons grade material when centrifugal separation proved to challenging. The centrifugal problems were resolved (whether independently or through transfer I don't know) by at least the South Africans, the French, the Israelis and the Russians and when the Americans learned about this success, they built a trial gas separation plant at Oak Ridge in the early 1970s, but they canceled this in favor of the even more technologically challenging atomic vapor laser isotope  separation process, commercialized in the US in the mid-seventies, but since having experienced so many challenges that it has AFAIK reverted to research status. An alternative low energy process, the molecular laser isotope separation process is so complex, with so many technical difficulties that only Japan is still using it; the United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany and South Africa all having decided that the real costs greatly outweighed the anticipated gains.

As there is a 10:1 ratio between the energy needed for gas diffusion and that needed for centrifugal separation as well as a 30:1 ratio in the size of the plants, this means that anyone trying to produce viable quantities of materiel without being spotted is using gas separation via centrifuge or attempting to develop laser isotope separation - simply because any other method uses too much power and needs too much cooling equipment for it to be easily hidden.

The separation potential of a centrifuge is dependent on the fixed absolute mass difference between isotopes and the square of the rotor wall speed, i.e. faster is much better. The primary limitation on rotor wall speed is the strength-to-weight ratio of the rotor material. Advanced carbon fiber rotors such as used in South Africa and Israel can exceed 600 m/sec, but Iran is technologically limited to using maraging steel rotors, where the absolute maximum theoretical rotor wall speed is approximately 500 m/s. Separation factors for U238:U235 vary from a low of about 1:1.026 at 250 m.s-1 (the lowest viable speed needing cascades of hundreds of centrifuges (or very many cycles) to produce weapons grade material at 80-90% enrichment) to a high of around 1:1.233 at 600 m.s-1 requiring a cascade of only 6 centrifuges to obtain the same effect.

We know from the very low degree of separation of Iranian material (under 5% U235) that Iran has not succeeded with laser isotope separation, and that her centrifuges are limited to wall speeds at the lower end of that range, I'm estimating 400 m.s-1 at best, and possibly even lower than that because of the challenges in producing foil (more likely if you have the coating and nitriding technology - I'm not sure that Iran does), superconducting (less likely due to the difficulties of sourcing or producing the material and extreme challenges in machining suitable components) or active magnetic bearings (highly unlikely due to the cost and size of these) able to withstand axial loads at these speeds, and possibly due to limited mechanical-electronic skills which are needed to develop both the frequency drives and magnetic dampers (needed to suppress catastrophic resonances at high speeds). This last aspect is also likely to limit the length of her rotors to around 1 to 2 m, where the degree of separation is too limited for weapons grade work without huge cascades. Even if she overcame all these flaws - and there is no indication that she has, will or even wants to, she would need to scale up her facility dramatically. Iran currently is operating fewer than 200 centrifuges (I have seen 164 mentioned as the number). This is useful for fuel production, but not for military purposes. To produce sufficient quantities of weapon's grade materiel (80-90 % U235) for one weapon (20-25kg minimum for an implosion type, 60-80kg minimum for a gun type), using centrifuges conforming to what I estimate are Iran's parameters, i.e. 1m5 long with 400 m.s-1 wall speeds, Iran would need a cascade of around 800 to 3500 centrifuges operating continuously for around a year. Given the technological challenges, this is not something that is going to happen in a hurry.

Even if Iraq had enough U235 and the will to produce a nuclear weapon (which, under pre-Bush American strategy would have switched her from "non-nuke-able" to "nuke-able" status) the challenges continue. Learning how to work with the highly toxic materiel at high temperatures (the only way to make very brittle Uranium at all malleable) and in inert gas environments (to prevent the formation of surface films which would prevent successful assembly of a functional device) is another whole bailiwick which should not be trivialized. Even for an industrially capable country such as Iran.
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #11 on: 2006-08-28 09:58:01 »
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I was delighted to find the following pair of articles, as they confirmed what I had previously suspected, the allegation that Ahmadinejad asserted that Israel should be wiped off the map was at best a mistranslation, at worst a scurrilous misrepresentation.

This is important.

The assertion has been used in the Western media and by the US government to support allegations that Iran is threatening Israel, and to justify both the campaign to impose sanctions upon Iran because of her (perfectly legal) civil nuclear development program as well as repeated threats of war or attacks on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure (illegal)  by both Israel and the USA.

Now that the allegations about what Ahmadinejad said is shown to be false, the actual situation in International law should be that Iran approach the security council and ask for Iran and the US to be restrained. Unfortunately, the US has a veto. Meaning that this is unlikely to result in any positive developments.

Another reason for the world to move past the UN.

Hermit

If Iran is ready to talk, the US must do so unconditionally

It is absurd to demand that Tehran should have made concessions before sitting down with the Americans

Source: The Guardian
Authors: Jonathan Steele
Dated: 2006-06-02

It is 50 years since the greatest misquotation of the cold war. At a Kremlin reception for western ambassadors in 1956, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced: "We will bury you." Those four words were seized on by American hawks as proof of aggressive Soviet intent.

Doves who pointed out that the full quotation gave a less threatening message were drowned out. Khrushchev had actually said: "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you." It was a harmless boast about socialism's eventual victory in the ideological competition with capitalism. He was not talking about war.

Now we face a similar propaganda distortion of remarks by Iran's president. Ask anyone in Washington, London or Tel Aviv if they can cite any phrase uttered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the chances are high they will say he wants Israel "wiped off the map".

Again it is four short words, though the distortion is worse than in the Khrushchev case. The remarks are not out of context. They are wrong, pure and simple. Ahmadinejad never said them. Farsi speakers have pointed out that he was mistranslated. The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that "this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished.

He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The "page of time" phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.

But the propaganda damage was done, and western hawks bracket the Iranian president with Hitler as though he wants to exterminate Jews. At the recent annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobby group, huge screens switched between pictures of Ahmadinejad making the false "wiping off the map" statement and a ranting Hitler.

Misquoting Ahmadinejad is worse than taking Khrushchev out of context for a second reason. Although the Soviet Union had a collective leadership, the pudgy Russian was the undoubted No 1 figure, particularly on foreign policy. The Iranian president is not.

His predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, was seen in the west as a moderate reformer, and during his eight years in office western politicians regularly lamented the fact that he was not Iran's top decision-maker. Ultimate power lay with the conservative unelected supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Yet now that Ahmadinejad is president, western hawks behave as though he is in charge, when in fact nothing has changed. Ahmadinejad is not the only important voice in Tehran. Indeed Khamenei was quick to try to adjust the misperceptions of Ahmadinejad's comments. A few days after the president made them, Khamenei said Iran "will not commit aggression against any nation".

The evidence suggests that a debate is going on in Tehran over policy towards the west which is no less fierce than the one in Washington. Since 2003 the Iranians have made several overtures to the Bush administration, some more explicit than others. Ahmadinejad's recent letter to Bush was a veiled invitation to dialogue. Iranians are also arguing over policy towards Israel. Trita Parsi, an analyst at Johns Hopkins University, says influential rivals to Ahmadinejad support a "Malaysian" model whereby Iran, like Islamic Malaysia, would not recognise Israel but would not support Palestinian groups such as Hamas, if relations with the US were better.

The obvious way to develop the debate is for the two states to start talking to each other. Last winter the Americans said they were willing, provided talks were limited to Iraq. Then the hawks around Bush vetoed even that narrow agenda. Their victory made nonsense of the pressure the US is putting on other UN security council members for tough action against Iran. Talk of sanctions is clearly premature until Washington and Tehran make an effort to negotiate. This week, in advance of Condoleezza Rice's meeting in Vienna yesterday with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, the factions in Washington hammered out a compromise. The US is ready to talk to Tehran alongside the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany), but only after Tehran has abandoned its uranium-enrichment programme.

To say the EU3's dialogue with Tehran was sufficient, as Washington did until this week, was the most astonishing example of multilateralism in the Bush presidency. A government that makes a practice of ignoring allies and refuses to accept the jurisdiction of bodies such as the International Criminal Court was leaving all the talking to others on one of the hottest issues of the day. Unless Bush is set on war, this refusal to open a dialogue could not be taken seriously.

The EU3's offer of carrots for Tehran was also meaningless without a US role. Europe cannot give Iran security guarantees. Tehran does not want non-aggression pacts with Europe. It wants them with the only state that is threatening it both with military attack and foreign-funded programmes for regime change.

The US compromise on talks with Iran is a step in the right direction, though Rice's hasty statement was poorly drafted, repeatedly calling Iran both a "government" and a "regime". But it is absurd to expect Iran to make concessions before sitting down with the Americans. Dialogue is in the interests of all parties. Europe's leaders, as well as Russia and China, should come out clearly and tell the Americans so.

Whatever Iran's nuclear ambitions, even US hawks admit it will be years before it could acquire a bomb, let alone the means to deliver it. This offers ample time for negotiations and a "grand bargain" between Iran and the US over Middle Eastern security. Flanked by countries with US bases, Iran has legitimate concerns about Washington's intentions.

Even without the US factor, instability in the Gulf worries all Iranians, whether or not they like being ruled by clerics. All-out civil war in Iraq, which could lead to intervention by Turkey and Iraq's Arab neighbours, would be a disaster for Iran. If the US wants to withdraw from Iraq in any kind of order, this too will require dialogue with Iran. If this is what Blair told Bush last week, he did well. But he should go all the way, and urge the Americans to talk without conditions.


Lost in translation

Experts confirm that Iran's president did not call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'. Reports that he did serve to strengthen western hawks.


Source: The Guardian
Authors: Jonathan Steele
Dated: 2006-06-14

My recent comment piece [Hermit: supra] explaining how Iran's president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government's intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.

I took my translation - "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" - from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole's website where it has been for several weeks.

But it seems to be mainly thanks to the Guardian giving it prominence that the New York Times, which was one of the first papers to misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came out on Sunday with a defensive piece attempting to justify its reporter's original "wiped off the map" translation. (By the way, for Farsi speakers the original version is available here.)

Joining the "off the map" crowd is David Aaronovitch, a columnist on the Times (of London), who attacked my analysis yesterday. I won't waste time on him since his knowledge of Farsi is as minimal as that of his Latin. The poor man thinks the plural of casus belli is casi belli, unaware that casus is fourth declension with the plural casus (long u).

The New York Times's Ethan Bronner and Nazila Fathi, one of the paper's Tehran staff, make a more serious case. They consulted several sources in Tehran. "Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say 'wipe off' or 'wipe away' is more accurate than 'vanish' because the Persian verb is active and transitive," Bronner writes.

The New York Times goes on: "The second translation issue concerns the word 'map'. Khomeini's words were abstract: 'Sahneh roozgar.' Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as 'map', and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not 'Sahneh roozgar' but 'Safheh roozgar', meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word 'map' again."

This, in my view, is the crucial point and I'm glad the NYT accepts that the word "map" was not used by Ahmadinejad. (By the way, the Wikipedia entry on the controversy gets the NYT wrong, claiming falsely that Ethan Bronner "concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map".)

If the Iranian president made a mistake and used "safheh" rather than "sahneh", that is of little moment. A native English speaker could equally confuse "stage of history" with "page of history". The significant issue is that both phrases refer to time rather than place. As I wrote in my original post, the Iranian president was expressing a vague wish for the future. He was not threatening an Iranian-initiated war to remove Israeli control over Jerusalem.

Two other well-established translation sources confirm that Ahmadinejad was referring to time, not place. The version of the October 26 2005 speech put out by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based on the Farsi text released by the official Iranian Students News Agency, says: "This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history." (NB: not "wiped". I accept that "eliminated" is almost the same, indeed some might argue it is more sinister than "wiped", though it is a bit more of a mouthful if you are trying to find four catchy and easily memorable words with which to incite anger against Iran.)

MEMRI (its text of the speech is available here) is headed by a former Isareli military intelligence officer and has sometimes been attacked for alleged distortion of Farsi and Arabic quotations for the benefit of Israeli foreign policy. On this occasion they supported the doveish view of what Ahmadinejad said.

Finally we come to the BBC monitoring service which every day puts out hundreds of highly respected English translations of broadcasts from all round the globe to their subscribers - mainly governments, intelligence services, thinktanks and other specialists. I approached them this week about the controversy and a spokesperson for the monitoring service's marketing unit, who did not want his name used, told me their original version of the Ahmadinejad quote was "eliminated from the map of the world".

As a result of my inquiry and the controversy generated, they had gone back to the native Farsi-speakers who had translated the speech from a voice recording made available by Iranian TV on October 29 2005. Here is what the spokesman told me about the "off the map" section: "The monitor has checked again. It's a difficult expression to translate. They're under time pressure to produce a translation quickly and they were searching for the right phrase. With more time to reflect they would say the translation should be "eliminated from the page of history".

Would the BBC put out a correction, given that the issue had become so controversial, I asked. "It would be a long time after the original version", came the reply. I interpret that as "probably not", but let's see.

Finally, I approached Iradj Bagherzade, the Iranian-born founder and chairman of the renowned publishing house, IB Tauris. He thought hard about the word "roozgar". "History" was not the right word, he said, but he could not decide between several better alternatives "this day and age", "these times", "our times", "time".

So there we have it. Starting with Juan Cole, and going via the New York Times' experts through MEMRI to the BBC's monitors, the consensus is that Ahmadinejad did not talk about any maps. He was, as I insisted in my original piece, offering a vague wish for the future.

A very last point. The fact that he compared his desired option - the elimination of "the regime occupying Jerusalem" - with the fall of the Shah's regime in Iran makes it crystal clear that he is talking about regime change, not the end of Israel. As a schoolboy opponent of the Shah in the 1970's he surely did not favour Iran's removal from the page of time. He just wanted the Shah out.

The same with regard to Israel. The Iranian president is undeniably an opponent of Zionism or, if you prefer the phrase, the Zionist regime. But so are substantial numbers of Israeli citizens, Jews as well as Arabs. The anti-Zionist and non-Zionist traditions in Israel are not insignificant. So we should not demonise Ahmadinejad on those grounds alone.

Does this quibbling over phrases matter? Yes, of course. Within days of the Ahmadinejad speech the then Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was calling for Iran to be expelled from the United Nations. Other foreign leaders have quoted the map phrase. The United States is piling pressure on its allies to be tough with Iran.

Let me give the last word to Juan Cole, with whom I began. "I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no."
« Last Edit: 2006-09-18 13:04:40 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #12 on: 2006-09-14 11:11:58 »
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IAEA protests "erroneous" U.S. report on Iran

[Hermit: We wouldn't do anything, "outrageous and dishonest" in order to harm another country or provide a pretext for a war would we? Would we?]

Source: Reuters
Authors: Mark Heinrich
Dated: 2006-09-14

U.N. inspectors have protested to the U.S. government and a Congressional committee about a report on Iran's nuclear work, calling parts of it "outrageous and dishonest", according to a letter obtained by Reuters.

The letter recalled clashes between the IAEA and the Bush administration before the 2003 Iraq war over findings cited by Washington about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that proved false, and underlined continued tensions over Iran's dossier.


Sent to the head of the House of Representatives' Select Committee on Intelligence by a senior aide to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the letter said an August 23 committee report contained serious distortions of IAEA findings on Iran's activity.

The letter said the errors suggested Iran's nuclear fuel program was much more advanced than a series of IAEA reports and Washington's own intelligence assessments have determined.

It said the report falsely described Iran to have enriched uranium at its pilot centrifuge plant to weapons-grade level in April, whereas IAEA inspectors had made clear Iran had enriched only to a low level usable for nuclear power reactor fuel.


"Furthermore, the IAEA Secretariat takes strong exception to the incorrect and misleading assertion" that the IAEA opted to remove a senior safeguards inspector for supposedly concluding the purpose of Iran's program was to build weapons, it said.

The letter said the congressional report contained "an outrageous and dishonest suggestion" that the inspector was dumped for having not adhered to an alleged IAEA policy barring its "officials from telling the whole truth" about Iran.

Diplomats say the inspector remains IAEA Iran section head.

The IAEA has been inspecting Iran's nuclear program since 2003. Although it has found no hard evidence that Iran is working on atomic weapons, it has uncovered many previously concealed activities linked to uranium enrichment, a process of purifying fuel for nuclear power plants or weapons.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said: "We felt obliged to put the record straight with regard to the facts on what we have reported on Iran. It's a matter of the integrity of the IAEA."

Diplomats say Washington, spearheading efforts to isolate Iran with sanctions over its nuclear work, has long perceived ElBaradei to be "soft" on Tehran.

"This (committee report) is deja vu of the pre-Iraq war period where the facts are being maligned and attempts are being made to ruin the integrity of IAEA inspectors," said a Western diplomat familiar with the agency and IAEA-U.S. relations.
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #13 on: 2006-09-18 21:17:15 »
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What Would War Look Like?

A flurry of military maneuvers in the Middle East increases speculation that conflict with Iran is no longer quite so unthinkable. Here's how the U.S. would fight such a war--and the huge price it would have to pay to win it

[Hermit: This story is far too speculative and far too optimistic for my taste, but is also sufficiently important for me to think it needs "noticing" even though I don't have enough time to add more analysis and comments. I'll try to increase the amount and add highlighting if I get a few moments in the next day or two.]

Source: Time Magazine - Cover Story
Authors: Michael Duffy, Brian Bennett [Baghdad], James Graff [Paris], Scott MacLeod [Cairo], J.F.O. McAllister [London], Tim McGirk [Jerusalem], Azadeh Moaveni [Tehran], Mike Allen [Washington], Sally B. Donnelly [Washington], Elaine Shannon [Washington], Mark Thompson [Washington], Douglas Waller [Washington], Michael Weisskopf [Washington], Adam Zagorin [Washington]
Dated: 2006-09-25

The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.

What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed--but until now largely theoretical--prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.

No one knows whether--let alone when--a military confrontation with Tehran will come to pass. The fact that admirals are reviewing plans for blockades is hardly proof of their intentions. The U.S. military routinely makes plans for scores of scenarios, the vast majority of which will never be put into practice. "Planners always plan," says a Pentagon official. Asked about the orders, a second official said only that the Navy is stepping up its "listening and learning" in the Persian Gulf but nothing more--a prudent step, he added, after Iran tested surface-to-ship missiles there in August during a two-week military exercise. And yet from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran--over its suspected quest for nuclear weapons, its threats against Israel and its bid for dominance of the world's richest oil region--may be impossible to avoid. The chief of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom), General John Abizaid, has called a commanders conference for later this month in the Persian Gulf--sessions he holds at least quarterly--and Iran is on the agenda.

On its face, of course, the notion of a war with Iran seems absurd. By any rational measure, the last thing the U.S. can afford is another war. Two unfinished wars--one on Iran's eastern border, the other on its western flank--are daily depleting America's treasury and overworked armed forces. Most of Washington's allies in those adventures have made it clear they will not join another gamble overseas. What's more, the Bush team, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has done more diplomatic spadework on Iran than on any other project in its 51/2 years in office. For more than 18 months, Rice has kept the Administration's hard-line faction at bay while leading a coalition that includes four other members of the U.N. Security Council and is trying to force Tehran to halt its suspicious nuclear ambitions. Even Iran's former President, Mohammed Khatami, was in Washington this month calling for a "dialogue" between the two nations.

But superpowers don't always get to choose their enemies or the timing of their confrontations. The fact that all sides would risk losing so much in armed conflict doesn't mean they won't stumble into one anyway. And for all the good arguments against any war now, much less this one, there are just as many indications that a genuine, eyeball-to-eyeball crisis between the U.S. and Iran may be looming, and sooner than many realize. "At the moment," says Ali Ansari, a top Iran authority at London's Chatham House, a foreign-policy think tank, "we are headed for conflict."

So what would it look like? Interviews with dozens of experts and government officials in Washington, Tehran and elsewhere in the Middle East paint a sobering picture: military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would have a decent chance of succeeding, but at a staggering cost. And therein lies the excruciating calculus facing the U.S. and its allies: Is the cost of confronting Iran greater than the dangers of living with a nuclear Iran? And can anything short of war persuade Tehran's fundamentalist regime to give up its dangerous game?

ROAD TO WAR

The crisis with Iran has been years in the making. Over the past decade, Iran has acquired many of the pieces, parts and plants needed to make a nuclear device. Although Iranian officials insist that Iran's ambitions are limited to nuclear energy, the regime has asserted its right to develop nuclear power and enrich uranium that could be used in bombs as an end in itself--a symbol of sovereign pride, not to mention a useful prop for politicking. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has crisscrossed the country in recent months making Iran's right to a nuclear program a national cause and trying to solidify his base of hard-line support in the Revolutionary Guards. The nuclear program is popular with average Iranians and the élites as well. "Iranian leaders have this sense of past glory, this belief that Iran should play a lofty role in the world," says Nasser Hadian, professor of political science at Tehran University.

But the nuclear program isn't Washington's only worry about Iran. While stoking nationalism at home, Tehran has dramatically consolidated its reach in the region. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has sponsored terrorist groups in a handful of countries, but its backing of Hizballah, the militant group that took Lebanon to war with Israel this summer, seems to be changing the Middle East balance of power. There is circumstantial evidence that Iran ordered Hizballah to provoke this summer's war, in part to demonstrate that Tehran can stir up big trouble if pushed to the brink. The precise extent of coordination between Hizballah and Tehran is unknown. But no longer in dispute after the standoff in July is Iran's ability to project power right up to the borders of Israel. It is no coincidence that the talk in Washington about what to do with Iran became more focused after Hizballah fought the Israeli army to a virtual standstill this summer.

And yet the West has been unable to compel Iran to comply with its demands. Despite all the work Rice has put into her coalition, diplomatic efforts are moving too slowly, some believe, to stop the Iranians before they acquire the makings of a nuclear device. And Iran has played its hand shrewdly so far. Tehran took weeks to reply to a formal proposal from the U.N. Security Council calling on a halt to uranium enrichment. When it did, its official response was a mosaic of half-steps, conditions and boilerplate that suggested Tehran has little intention of backing down. "The Iranians," says a Western diplomat in Washington, "are very able negotiators."

That doesn't make war inevitable. But at some point the U.S. and its allies may have to confront the ultimate choice. The Bush Administration has said it won't tolerate Iran having a nuclear weapon. Once it does, the regime will have the capacity to carry out Ahmadinejad's threats to eliminate Israel. And in practical terms, the U.S. would have to consider military action long before Iran had an actual bomb. In military circles, there is a debate about where--and when--to draw that line. U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte told TIME in April that Iran is five years away from having a nuclear weapon. But some nonproliferation experts worry about a different moment: when Iran is able to enrich enough uranium to fuel a bomb--a point that comes well before engineers actually assemble a nuclear device. Many believe that is when a country becomes a nuclear power. That red line, experts say, could be just a year away.

WOULD AN ATTACK WORK?

The answer is yes and no.

No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran. Too many U.S. troops are tied down elsewhere to make it possible, and besides, it isn't necessary. If the U.S. goal is simply to stunt Iran's nuclear program, it can be done better and more safely by air. An attack limited to Iran's nuclear facilities would nonetheless require a massive campaign. Experts say that Iran has between 18 and 30 nuclear-related facilities. The sites are dispersed around the country--some in the open, some cloaked in the guise of conventional factories, some buried deep underground.

A Pentagon official says that among the known sites there are 1,500 different "aim points," which means the campaign could well require the involvement of almost every type of aircraft in the U.S. arsenal: Stealth bombers and fighters, B-1s and B-2s, as well as F-15s and F-16s operating from land and F-18s from aircraft carriers.

GPS-guided munitions and laser-targeted bombs--sighted by satellite, spotter aircraft and unmanned vehicles--would do most of the bunker busting. But because many of the targets are hardened under several feet of reinforced concrete, most would have to be hit over and over to ensure that they were destroyed or sufficiently damaged. The U.S. would have to mount the usual aerial ballet, refueling tankers as well as search-and-rescue helicopters in case pilots were shot down by Iran's aging but possibly still effective air defenses. U.S. submarines and ships could launch cruise missiles as well, but their warheads are generally too small to do much damage to reinforced concrete--and might be used for secondary targets. An operation of that size would hardly be surgical. Many sites are in highly populated areas, so civilian casualties would be a certainty.

Whatever the order of battle, a U.S. strike would have a lasting impression on Iran's rulers. U.S. officials believe that a campaign of several days, involving hundreds or even thousands of sorties, could set back Iran's nuclear program by two to three years. Hit hard enough, some believe, Iranians might develop second thoughts about their government's designs as a regional nuclear power. Some U.S. foes of Iran's regime believe that the crisis of legitimacy that the ruling clerics would face in the wake of a U.S. attack could trigger their downfall, although others are convinced it would unite the population with the government in anti-American rage.

But it is also likely that the U.S. could carry out a massive attack and still leave Iran with some part of its nuclear program intact. It's possible that U.S. warplanes could destroy every known nuclear site--while Tehran's nuclear wizards, operating at other, undiscovered sites even deeper underground, continued their work. "We don't know where it all is," said a White House official, "so we can't get it all."

WHAT WOULD COME NEXT?

No one who has spent any time thinking about an attack on Iran doubts that a U.S. operation would reap a whirlwind. The only mystery is what kind. "It's not a question of whether we can do a strike or not and whether the strike could be effective," says retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. "It certainly would be, to some degree. But are you prepared for all that follows?"

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who taught strategy at the National War College, has been conducting a mock U.S.-Iran war game for American policymakers for the past five years. Virtually every time he runs the game, Gardiner says, a similar nightmare scenario unfolds: the U.S. attack, no matter how successful, spawns a variety of asymmetrical retaliations by Tehran. First comes terrorism: Iran's initial reaction to air strikes might be to authorize a Hizballah attack on Israel, in order to draw Israel into the war and rally public support at home.

Next, Iran might try to foment as much mayhem as possible inside the two nations on its flanks, Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than 160,000 U.S. troops hold a tenuous grip on local populations. Iran has already dabbled in partnership with warlords in western Afghanistan, where U.S. military authority has never been strong; it would be a small step to lend aid to Taliban forces gaining strength in the south. Meanwhile, Tehran has links to the main factions in Iraq, which would welcome a boost in money and weapons, if just to strengthen their hand against rivals. Analysts generally believe that Iran could in a short time orchestrate a dramatic increase in the number and severity of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. As Syed Ayad, a secular Shi'ite cleric and Iraqi Member of Parliament says, "America owns the sky of Iraq with their Apaches, but Iran owns the ground."

Next, there is oil. The Persian Gulf, a traffic jam on good days, would become a parking lot. Iran could plant mines and launch dozens of armed boats into the bottleneck, choking off the shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz and causing a massive disruption of oil-tanker traffic. A low-key Iranian mining operation in 1987 forced the U.S. to reflag Kuwaiti oil tankers and escort them, in slow-moving files of one and two, up and down the Persian Gulf. A more intense operation would probably send oil prices soaring above $100 per bbl.--which may explain why the Navy wants to be sure its small fleet of minesweepers is ready to go into action at a moment's notice. It is unlikely that Iran would turn off its own oil spigot or halt its exports through pipelines overland, but it could direct its proxies in Iraq and Saudi Arabia to attack pipelines, wells and shipment points inside those countries, further choking supply and driving up prices.

That kind of retaliation could quickly transform a relatively limited U.S. mission in Iran into a much more complicated one involving regime change. An Iran determined to use all its available weapons to counterattack the U.S. and its allies would present a challenge to American prestige that no Commander in Chief would be likely to tolerate for long. Zinni, for one, believes an attack on Iran could eventually lead to U.S. troops on the ground. "You've got to be careful with your assumptions," he says. "In Iraq, the assumption was that it would be a liberation, not an occupation. You've got to be prepared for the worst case, and the worst case involving Iran takes you down to boots on the ground." All that, he says, makes an attack on Iran a "dumb idea." Abizaid, the current Centcom boss, chose his words carefully last May. "Look, any war with a country that is as big as Iran, that has a terrorist capability along its borders, that has a missile capability that is external to its own borders and that has the ability to affect the world's oil markets is something that everyone needs to contemplate with a great degree of clarity."

CAN IT BE STOPPED?

Given the chaos that a war might unleash, what options does the world have to avoid it? One approach would be for the U.S. to accept Iran as a nuclear power and learn to live with an Iranian bomb, focusing its efforts on deterrence rather than pre-emption. The risk is that a nuclear-armed Iran would use its regional primacy to become the dominant foreign power in Iraq, threaten Israel and make it harder for Washington to exert its will in the region. And it could provoke Sunni countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to start nuclear programs of their own to contain rising Shi'ite power.

Those equally unappetizing prospects--war or a new arms race in the Middle East--explain why the White House is kicking up its efforts to resolve the Iran problem before it gets that far. Washington is doing everything it can to make Iran think twice about its ongoing game of stonewall. It is a measure of the Administration's unity on Iran that confrontationalists like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have lately not wandered off the rhetorical reservation. Everyone has been careful--for now--to stick to Rice's diplomatic emphasis. "Nobody is considering a military option at this point," says an Administration official. "We're trying to prevent a situation in which the President finds himself having to decide between a nuclear-armed Iran or going to war. The best hope of avoiding that dilemma is hard-nosed diplomacy, one that has serious consequences."

Rice continues to try for that. This week in New York City, she will push her partners to get behind a new sanctions resolution that would ban Iranian imports of dual-use technologies, like parts for its centrifuge cascades for uranium enrichment, and bar travel overseas by certain government officials. The next step would be restrictions on government purchases of computer software and hardware, office supplies, tires and auto parts--steps Russia and China have signaled some reluctance to endorse. But even Rice's advisers don't believe that Iran can be persuaded to completely abandon its ambitions. Instead, they hope to tie Iran up in a series of suspensions, delays and negotiations until a more pragmatic faction of leadership in Tehran gains the upper hand.

At the moment, that sounds as much like a prayer as a strategy. A former CIA director, asked not long ago whether a moderate faction will ever emerge in Tehran, quipped, "I don't think I've ever met an Iranian moderate--not at the top of the government, anyway." But if sanctions don't work, what might? Outside the Administration, a growing group of foreign-policy hands from both parties have called on the U.S. to bring Tehran into direct negotiations in the hope of striking a grand bargain. Under that formula, the U.S. might offer Iran some security guarantees-- such as forswearing efforts to topple Iran's theocratic regime--in exchange for Iran's agreeing to open its facilities to international inspectors and abandon weapons-related projects. It would be painful for any U.S. Administration to recognize the legitimacy of a regime that sponsors terrorism and calls for Israel's destruction--but the time may come when that's the only bargaining chip short of war the U.S. has left. And still that may not be enough. "[The Iranians] would give up nuclear power if they truly believed the U.S. would accept Iran as it is," says a university professor in Tehran who asked not to be identified. "But the mistrust runs too deep for them to believe that is possible."

Such distrust runs both ways and is getting deeper. Unless the U.S., its allies and Iran can find a way to make diplomacy work, the whispers of blockades and minesweepers in the Persian Gulf may soon be drowned out by the cries of war. And if the U.S. has learned anything over the past five years, it's that war in the Middle East rarely goes according to plan.
« Last Edit: 2006-12-18 05:00:35 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:Target Tehran
« Reply #14 on: 2006-09-18 23:01:34 »
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[Blunderov] "O, too much folly is it, well I wot, " King Henry VI *

Another brick in the wall?

http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=5461&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

"Baluchistan and the Coming Iran War

Luciana Bohne ~ Why should the news from Baluchistan interest us? I'll let you connect the dots by presenting a bit of context and concluding with an article from the Carnegie Endowement, which, I think, will underline the significance of the event for the prospected US attack on Iran.

www.pej.org

Baluchistan and the Coming Iran War

Luciana Bohne

Akhbar Khan, a nationalist/independence leader in Baluchistan has been killed by the Pakistani military, in a massive operation that is seriously destabilizing military dictator Pervez Musharraf's regime.

Akhbar Khan, Baluchistan nemesis of Musharraf, was killed. This is natural gas country. This is where China is helping to build a pipeline, which Bush opposes. This is from where commandos are penetrating Iran (according to Hersh). This is where the "west" has been stoking up separatist fires, probably to get Musharraf's army to intervene. Need boots on the ground to encircle Iran. Quetta is capital and in 'Taleban' control. Nevertheless, the killing of Akhbar Khan is really upsetting the country--the whole of Pakistan. Meanwhile, Waziristan is off limits to Paki army, though the locals keep being aerially bombed--mostly by US.

Why should the news from Baluchistan interest us? I'll let you connect the dots by presenting a bit of context and concluding with an article from the Carnegie Endowement, which, I think, will underline the significance of the event for the prospected US attack on Iran.

Pakistani military dictator's regime is very unpopular in Pakistan.
Musharraf, as Bush's ally on the "war on terror," has had to do unpopular things, like deploying 70,000 troops to the North-West autonomous tribal regions (among them Waziristan) to hunt down "terrorists" and such.

He hasn't been successful, but American aerial attacks from nearby Afghanistan have killed alleged "leaders" and sundry civilians, causing a flood of refuges and displacements. Serious Pakistani military casualties have not increased his popularity and neither has the charge that he's allowing American forces to violate Pakistani sovereignty. Musharraf's campaign in Waziristan has failed so thoroughly that the region is now virtually off limits to governmental forces.

Baluchistan is continuous with the Waziristan region. Baluchistan is a western province of Pakistan, constituting about 40% of Pakistan's national surface. Its capital is Quetta, accused byAfghanistan's Karzai (which really means Washington) of being a Taliban stronghold supplying and fueling the Taliban armed resurgence in southern Afghanistan. Musharraf's regime denies it. Nevertheless, Musharraf has re-opened hostility in Baluchistan against the decades-long independists forces, which he's accused of provoking into taking up arms again. Musharraf, throughout the spring of 2006, has come under intense criticism by British, American, and Afghan officials for not doing enough for the "war on terror." The trouble is that if he complies with his allies in the "war on terror," he comes under attack from domestic critics, of which he has legions, including the majority of the people.

The latest developments in the murder of the Baluch leader, Bugti, is a case in point: Pakistan is in an uproar and calling for his resignation.

Why would the axis-of-evil crusaders want to destabilize a crucial ally? They don't "want" to, but they have bigger plans.

The US has three military bases in Baluchistan. They say they are fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region. Perhaps. But, Baluchistan borders with Iran to the west. Baluchistan, too, is rich in natural gas and minerals. China is helping the Pakistani government to build a natural gas pipeline from Baluchistan's port of Gwadar to China, a project the Bush administration opposes. The port of Gwadar just happens to be geographically located to overlook the Straits of Hormuz, which the Iranians intend to block if they are attacked. Hormuz is the crucial sea route for international oil distribution.

Coincidence that the US should be interested in "terrorism"in Baluchistan and urging Musharraf to be more zealous at the same time that it is planning an attack on Iran?

An article by the Carnegie Endowment entertains the same thought, albeit to deny it: "The Baluch and the Pakistani think that Washington would like to use Baluchistan as a rear-guard base for an attack on Iran, and Iran is suspected of supporting Baluch [independence] activists in order to counter such a Pakistani-US plot. . . . Some Pakistanis perceive the US using its Greater Middle East initiative to dismantle the major Muslim states and redefine the borders of the region. Some Baluch nationalists charge the US with conspiring with the Pakistani government to put an end to Baluch claims. So far nobody has been able to prove any of these accusations."

No?  No matter, the Iranians have been mining their side of the Baluch borders, just in case, and Bugti, Baluch independence leader, has been killed by the diplomatically besieged Musharraf, catapulting the country into a political crisis.

Coincidence? Or are plans for an Iranian attack well on the way?

I remind you that Seymour Hersh, in The New Yorker, has confirmed that US commandos have launched penetration initiatives across Pakistani Baluchistan into Iran.

You can read more here:
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/08/27/asia/AS_GEN_Pakistan_Tribal

http://www.newkerala.com/news4.php?action=fullnews&id=13371

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200608291840.htm

http://www.dawn.com/2006/08/29/ed.htm

Here's the Carnegie Endowment's complete article:
http://www.carnegieendowment.org/events/index.cfm?fa=eventDetail&id=848&&prog=zgp&proj=zdrl,zsa

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at lbohne@edinboro.edu."

* "Never do something stupid on purpose." ~ The Managers Manual.


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