ICH: Face the Facts About Israel?

July 29, 2008

These are some of the latest, continually updated news items on one of my favourite sites, Information Clearing House (ICH):

Time To Exit The Empire Game
By Patrick J. Buchanan
As any military historian will testify, among the most difficult of maneuvers is the strategic retreat. Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, Lee’s retreat to Appomattox and MacArthur’s retreat from the Yalu come to mind. The British Empire abandoned India in 1947 – and a Muslim-Hindu bloodbath ensued.
If Iran is Attacking It Might Really be Israel
By Philip Giraldi
There are a number of possible “false flag” scenarios in which the Israelis could insert a commando team in the Persian Gulf or use some of their people inside Iraq to stage an incident that they will make to look Iranian, either by employing Iranian weapons or by leaving a communications footprint that points to Tehran’s involvement.
Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?
By Paul Craig Roberts
I had given up on finding an American with a moral conscience and the courage to go with it and was on the verge of retiring my keyboard when I met the Rev. Thomas L. Are.
Guarantee Healthcare for All
By Malinda Markowitz
The United States spends more than twice as much per person on healthcare as most other industrialized countries – but it has plunged to last among those nations in preventing deaths through timely and effective medical care.
We’re a Nation of Lemmings
Screw The Climate! We Want Our Cheap Gas!
By Dave Lindorff
What the hell happened to any sense of shared responsibility, not just for society, but for our own offspring?
Who Are We?
One World, One Humanity, One Family
Must Watch Video
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
Click to view
As “Surge” Ends, How Many US Troops Will Remain in Iraq?:
Barack Obama, says he wants U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2010, but he is careful to specify that he’s talking about combat troops
Former Iraqi PM Says Surge Not So Great:
Allawi describes security gains from the U.S military surge as fragile and possibly not sustainable. Calls fo “a time frame for reduction of U.S. forces”.
The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers:
The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow.
The killing of 78 Afghan civilian by US occupation forces probed:
More than half of those killed in the three recent U.S.-led airstrikes — which occurred in a three-week span in three provinces in eastern and western Afghanistan — were women and children, according to Afghan and Western officials. 78 have died in three separate incidents this month alone, officials say
2 NATO occupation force soldiers killed, 9 wounded in Afghanistan:
A British army dog handler was fatally shot by insurgents in southern Afghanistan, where a Danish soldier died in a separate roadside bomb attack, officials said Friday.
Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV:
Brzezinski now doubts the that the answer to what ails Afghanistan is more troops. “I think we’re literally running the risk of unintentionally doing what the Russians did.
Gilani, Bush to discuss rise of Taliban in Pak:
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will discuss with US President George W. Bush at the White House on Monday the rising Taliban-led militancy in areas bordering Afghanistan, officials said on Friday.
‘Iran will keep cooperating with IAEA’:
“I categorically reject the misleading information by western media. We are not reducing our cooperation with the IAEA,” Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh told Press TV on Friday.
Bolton: U.S. should help Israel hit Iran:
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton said the United States should assist Israel in any strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The ex-U.S. envoy in an op-ed in the July 15 Wall Street Journal said the United States must consider what assistance to extend to Israel before and after an airstrike.
Report: Ex-Mossad chief says strike on Iran could ‘affect us for 100 years’:
Halevy, who currently heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel’s advanced anti-missile defense system.
Obama puts new presure on Iran:
Obama said that he and Sarkozy agreed that Iran poses “an extraordinarily grave situation.” He said the world must send “a clear message to Iran to end its illicit nuclear program.”
Two die in Gaza bomb blast:
The attack was the third of its kind on Friday, making for one of the biggest flare-ups in internal violence since Hamas routed the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah faction to seize control of Gaza a year ago.
Obama: Jerusalem will not be capital of Palestinian state:
Recent years have seen Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine shift dramatically towards the Israeli side. He previously stated that the issue of Jerusalem should be on the table of any peace negotiation, but after criticism of his ‘naïve’ stance, Obama dropped this position.
Poll: Israelis favor Barack Obama:
A new poll shows that US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has more Israeli supporters than his Republican rival John McCain.
Iran: US seeks to keep public in dark:
Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) said the US has rashly proposed a resolution that would blacklist Iranian satellite networks, Al-Alam and Press TV, since Washington dreads their role in informing the world of global developments.

The Smirking Chimp

February 17, 2008

There are some very interesting threads going on at The Smirking Chimp. These are a couple of examples:

How Far Will the Clintons Go?
by Robert Parry (Feb. 16, 2008)

Hillary Clinton, who has built her case for the presidency on her superior “ready on Day One” management skills, burned through almost $130 million of campaign money, had to kick in $5 million from her own murky family funds, and is now pressing her chief financial backers to find creative ways to raise more money.

Some of those financial schemes appear to skirt the law – as some backers consider putting money into “independent” entities that can spend unlimited sums but aren’t supposed to coordinate with the campaign – while other ideas are more traditional, like appealing to wealthy donors involved with the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.

Doomsday for the Greenback: Iran’s Oil Bourse could Topple the Dollar
by Mike Whitney (Feb. 4, 2008)

Two weeks ago George Bush was sent on a mission to the Middle East to deliver a horse’s head. We all remember the disturbing scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” where Lucca Brassi goes to Hollywood to convince a recalcitrant movie producer to use Don Corleone’s nephew in his next film. The “Big shot” producer is finally persuaded to hire the young actor after he wakes up in bed next to the severed head of his prize thoroughbred. I expect that Bush made a similar “offer they could not refuse” to the various leaders of the Gulf States when he met with them earlier this month.The media has tried to portray Bush’s trip to the Middle East as a “peace mission”, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, three days after Bush left Jerusalem, Israel stepped-up its military operations in the occupied territories and resumed its merciless blockade of food, water and medicine to the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip. Bush must have green-lighted Israel’s aggression or it would have been seen as an insult to the President of the United States.

So, what was the real purpose of Bush’s trip? Why would he waste time visiting the Middle East if he had no real interest in promoting peace or resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?


How the Pentagon planted a false story

January 17, 2008

George W. Bush is so hell-bent on a major confrontation with Iran before he leaves the White House that his administration had the Pentagon plant a false story about the January 6 Strait of Hormuz incident. But the decision to treat this incident as ‘evidence of an Iranian threat’ reveals a major chasm between the interests of Bush and Company and navy officials in the Gulf:

WASHINGTON – Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the January 6 US-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran’s military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows.The initial press stories on the incident, all of which can be traced to a briefing by deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in charge of media operations, Bryan Whitman, contained similar information that has since been repudiated by the navy itself.

Then the navy disseminated a short video into which was spliced the audio of a phone call warning that US warships would “explode” in “a few seconds”. Although it was ostensibly a navy production, Inter Press Service (IPS) has learned that the ultimate decision on its content was made by top officials of the Defense Department.

Read the rest of this Asia TimesOnline article by Gareth Porter here.

Official Version of US-Iranian Naval Incident Starts to Unravel

January 13, 2008
* Gareth Porter: Official Version of U.S.-Iranian Naval Incident Starts to Unravel *
The United States has lodged a formal diplomatic protest against Iran for its ³provocation² in the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday morning. But new information reveals that the alleged Iranian threat to American naval vessels may have been blown out of proportion. We speak to investigative historian Gareth Porter.

Bush Spins Iran’s Centrifuges

December 9, 2007

Stunned by a U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran hasn’t been pursuing nuclear weapons for years, the Bush administration and its media allies are trying to figure out new ways to spin public opinion toward an attack on Iran. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern looks at how this P.R. war-gaming is being played..

To read the full story, go to Consortiumnews.com.

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Bush’s Losing Iranian Hand

December 7, 2007

Whatever else the release of the 16-agency National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian bomb may be, it is certainly a reasonable measure of inside-the-Beltway Bush administration decline. Whether that release represented “a pre-emptive strike against the White House by intelligence agencies and military chiefs,” an intelligence “mini-coup” against the administration, part of a longer-term set of moves meant to undermine plans for air strikes against Iran that involved a potential resignation threat from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and a “near mutiny” by the Joint Chiefs, or an attempt by the administration itself to “salvage negotiations with Iran” or shift its own Iran policy, or none of — or some combination of — the above, one thing can be said: Such an NIE would not have been written, no less released, at almost any previous moment in the last seven years. (Witness the 2005 version of the same that opted for an active Iranian program to produce nuclear weapons.)

Imagine an NIE back in 2005 that, as Dilip Hiro wrote recently, “contradicts the image of an inward-looking, irrational, theocratic leadership ruling Iran oppressively that Washington has been projecting for a long time. It says: ‘Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Teheran’s decisions are judged by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs.'”

The Iranians as rational, cost-benefit calculators? Only the near collapse of presidential and vice-presidential polling figures, and the endless policy failures that proceeded and accompanied those numbers; only the arrival of Robert Gates as secretary of defense and a representative of the “reality-based community,” only the weakening of the neocons and their purge inside the Pentagon, only the increasing isolation of the Vice President’s “office” — only, that is, decline inside the Beltway — could account for such a conclusion or such a release.

Whatever the realities of the Iranian nuclear program, this NIE certainly reflected the shifting realities of power in Washington in the winter of 2007. In a zero-sum game in the capital’s corridors in which, for years, every other power center was the loser, the hardliners suddenly find themselves with their backs to the wall when it comes to the most compelling of their dreams of global domination. (Never forget the pre-invasion neocon quip: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”)

Now, as Jim Lobe points out, we probably know why the Vice President and others suddenly began to change the subject last summer from the Iranian nuclear program to Iranian IEDs being smuggled into Iraq for use against American forces. And why, in August, according to the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin, the President “stopped making explicit assertions about the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program… and started more vaguely accusing them of seeking the knowledge necessary to make such a weapon.” They knew what was coming.

Enough power evidently remained in the hands of Vice President Cheney and associates that the final NIE was delayed at least three times, according to Congressional sources speaking to the Los Angeles Times. The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh claims that “the vice-president has kept his foot on the neck of that report… The intelligence we learned about yesterday has been circulating inside this government at the highest levels for the last year — and probably longer.” Still, it’s now out and that is a yardstick of something.

Dilip Hiro is intent on measuring a more significant decline — not of the Bush moment in Washington, but of imperial America which, as he points out below, now finds itself on the losing end of an ever more humiliating zero-sum game with a relatively minor power. If you needed the slightest proof of this, just consider how, on Wednesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad termed the release of the NIE a “declaration of victory” for Iran’s nuclear program. And he has reason to crow. After all, as the headline of the latest Robert Scheer column at Truthdig.org indicates, when it came to the latest stare-down at the nuclear OK Corral between the President of the planetary “hyperpower” and the president of a relatively weak regional power: “It Turns Out Ahmadinejad Was the Truthful One.” Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: William Astore, If We Lose Iraq, You’re to Blame

November 6, 2007

You know there’s trouble ahead when Iraq, in its present state, is the good news story for Bush administration policy. While various civilian and military officials from the President on down have been talking up “success” in Iraq and beating the rhetorical war drums vis-à-vis Iran, much of the remainder of the administration’s foreign policy in what the neocons used to call “the arc of instability” began to thoroughly unravel.

In the Horn of Africa, U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops are bogged down in a disastrous occupation of the Somalian capital, harried by a growing Islamist insurgency. Despite endless shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the administration’s Middle East peace conference, to be held at Annapolis, is already being dismissed as a failure before the first official invitations are issued. Meanwhile, the Turks are driving the administration to distraction by threatening to invade and destabilize the only moderately successful part of the new Iraq, its Kurdish region (while the Iraqi government in Baghdad calls on Iran for hel! p in the crisis).

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently landed in Tehran and brazenly indicated that any U.S. attack on Iran would be considered an attack on Russia. He then convened a local “mini-summit” and formed a regional Caspian Sea-based alliance with Iran and three energy-rich former SSRs of the departed Soviet Union implicitly directed against the United States and its local allies. On the day Secretary of State Rice announced new, tough sanctions against the Iranians, Putin commented pointedly: “Why worsen the situation by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end? It’s not the best way to resolve the situation by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand.”

Meanwhile, one country to the east, the resurgent Taliban has, against all predictions, just captured a third district in Western Afghanistan near the Iranian border — and, as the most recent devastating suicide bomb indicates, attacks are spreading north. And then, of course, there’s the President’s greatest ally in the Muslim world, Pakistan’s ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Remember Bush’s nightmare scenario, the one that guaranteed a surefire “preventive” attack from his administration: an autocratic and oppressive ruler with weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear ones, presiding over a country that functionally offers a safe haven for terrorists? Well, that’s now Pakistan, whose security forces are busily jailing hundreds of lawyers, while the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and extremist Islamists, well armed and backed by their own radio stations broadcasting calls for jihad, are moving out of safe havens in the tribal areas along the Afghan border and into Pakistan proper to fight. And there’s essentially nothing the administration can do, except mouth platitudes and look the other way. As Paul Woodward of the War in Context website has pointed out: When it comes to nuclear Iran and nuclear Pakistan, we have been living in “a Through-the-Looking-Glass world where nuclear weapons that do exist are less dangerous than those that can be imagined.” Now, not much imagination is needed at all.

Strangely, from Ethiopia to Pakistan, despite all the signs, all the predictions, the Bush administration, as far as we can tell, expected none of the above. How often can it be caught off guard by the consequences of its own decisions and actions? Eternally, it seems.

The possible collapse of the President’s foreign policy across the entire arc of instability was first written about by the always prescient Juan Cole at Salon.com. He commented that, “like a drunken millionaire gambling away a fortune at a Las Vegas casino, the Bush administration squandered all the assets it began with by invading Iraq and unleashing chaos in the Gulf.” And he ventured a prediction: “The thunder of the bomb [that blew up as former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned home] in Karachi and the Turkish shells in Iraqi Kurdistan may well be the sound of Bush losing his ‘war on terror.'” Over at TPM Café, Todd Gitlin was the first to offer a wry, if grim, suggestion, as he considered Bush’s “failure to crush the Taliban & Co.” from Tora Bora 2001 on. “Talk about dominos,” he wrote. “How about this for a Democratic slogan: Who Lost Pakistan?”

Click here to read more of this dispatch.