Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category
I’ve been spending far more time reading than writing lately, as writing and nursing blog posts eats up more time than I’m willing to expend. However, I think it time well spent to point folks to articles that begin to make sense of the precarious position our nation or world finds itself in.
So pull up a comfy chair on this grey and dreary spring day (thought the rain is most wonderful), pour a cup of coffee, tea or what have you and dig in.
Today’s reading comes from William R. Polk, Losing the American Republic. Here’s the end of Part 1 (Part 2 hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to it).
Lessons Needed Learning
It would be rewarding if one could say that our experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has made us wiser in our approaches to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but it is hard to substantiate that conclusion. Yet the lessons are there to be learned. There are more, but consider just these few:
- Military action can destroy but it cannot build;
- Counterinsurgency does not work and creates new problems;
- Nation building is beyond the capacity of foreigners;
- Piecemeal, uncoordinated actions often exacerbate rather than solve problems;
- The costs of military action are multifold and usually harm not only the attacked but also the attacker’s society and economy;
- Reliance on military action and supply of weapons to the client state encourages it to undertake actions that make peace-seeking harder rather than easier;
- War radiates out from the battlefield so that whole societies are turned into refugees. In desperation they flee even far abroad and create unforeseen problems.
- The sense that the attacker is a bully spreads and converts outsiders into enemies;
- Failure to understand the society and culture even of the enemy is self-defeating;
- Angry, resentful people eventually strike back where they can and so create a climate of perpetual insecurity.
The result of such actions is deforming to the central objective of an intelligent, conservative and constructive American foreign policy — the preservation of our well-being.
The Jeannette Rankin Peace Center is heading up the task of replacing the famous Waterworks Hill peace sign, which disappeared last week. They’re also looking for any spare white sheets or towels that you have to help rebuild it.
The event starts at 4 p.m. You can find the trailhead on Duncan Drive, just past Greenough Park – and walk up the hill and take the first left past the water plant – then keep walking. If you have any questions, just give the JRPC a call.
JRPC is also helping sponsor a RALLY IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF IRAN (who are fighting right now for their votes to be counted in the recent presidential election). This event, too, is tomorrow (Tuesday) in Caras Park, at noon. Call your bagged lunch order in early to Doc’s Sandwich Shop (542-7414) and head on down to the park for music (including Amy Martin), Persian poetry, and information provided from an Iranian-American law student, an Iranian-American professor (Dr. Mehrdad Kia), and an American recently returned from Iran.
Senator Pat Williams will also speak.
Unveiling what they call “one of President Bush’s most lasting legacies,” the New York Times brings us the news that the Bush Administration has nearly tripled foreign arms sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and countries in northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, this fiscal year alone, has signed at least $6 billion worth of agreements to buy weapons from the United States government — the highest figure for that country since 1993, which was another peak year in American weapons sales, after the first Persian Gulf war.
The 9/11 terrorists came from where?
Even further – and the Times article touches specifically on this – didn’t the U.S. arm Osama bin Laden when he was helping lead the fight against the Soviet Union in the Afghani War back in the 80’s? Yep.:
Travis Sharp, a military policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, a Washington research group, said one of his biggest worries was that if alliances shifted, the United States might eventually be in combat against an enemy equipped with American-made weapons. Arms sales have had unintended consequences before, as when the United States armed militants fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, only to eventually confront hostile Taliban fighters armed with the same weapons there.
That exact scenario is playing out right now. Pakistan is buying a huge chunk of arms. Apparently, we’ve picked a side in the Pakistan/India rumblings. Of course, Pakistan is our friend too, right? But wait. Just this last week Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, lashed out at the U.S. Wednesday, saying the cross-border military raids executed in the last week were not in keeping with any military agreement between the two nations.
Of course, there’s this, too: The U.S. is currently faced with fighting the same F-16’s it’s supplied to Pakistan.
Might have to rethink that friend thing.
I guess the Bush Administration figures it hasn’t left us with enough mess – a crumbling economy and an illegal war in Iraq that has only fed the rise of terrorism in the Middle East – now they’re increasing arms sales to throw the unstable regions of the world into more chaos.
Maybe that’s the Bush Doctrine: The Foreign Policy via Chaos Theory.
by Pete Talbot
If I seem to be obsessed with the recent Senate votes on the Iraq War, who can blame me? After all, the Pentagon just asked Congress for another $190 billion in war funding.
I wrote about earlier votes a couple days ago. Here are the latest:
The Biden (D-DE ) Amendment is one of those non-binding things. Its statement of purpose: “to express the sense of Congress on federalism in Iraq.” In other words, to give the thumbs up to dividing Iraq into three separate states: Shiite, Sunni and Kurd.
It passed 75-23 with Baucus and Tester voting with the majority. The amendment was another small step in trying to figure a way out of this catastrophe — this time by divvying up a sovereign nation. Jon and Max did the right thing, though, along with a lot of Republicans from across the aisle. They, too, are saying this war is screwed up … and they’re trying to figure out what to do.
On the Kyl (R-AZ) Amendment, Baucus voted “yea” and Tester “nay.” The amendment was to “express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran.” In other words — saber rattling. It passed 76-22 with Tester voting in the minority. Jon’s vote reaffirms why progressives worked so hard to get him elected. Max … well, what can I say.
Afghanistan, Iraq and now, Iran. Some of our senators have short memories.
by Jay Stevens
According to Steven Clemmons of The Washington Note, Bush’s escalation has already spilled over into Syria and Iran:
Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.
The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
Clemmons also has excerpts from Condi Rice’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which she dodges direct questioning on the matter:
SEN. BIDEN: Secretary Rice, do you believe the president has the constitutional authority to pursue across the border into Iraq (sic/Iran) or Syria, the networks in those countries?
SEC. RICE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I think I would not like to speculate on the president’s constitutional authority or to try and say anything that certainly would abridge his constitutional authority, which is broad as commander in chief.
I do think that everyone will understand that — the American people and I assume the Congress expect the president to do what is necessary to protect our forces.
Chuck Hegel later makes it clear that he’s going to be very, very angry if Bush has escalated right over into Iran and Syria.
Is this the Bush administration’s idea of engaging in “diplomatic talks” with regional powers?
It’s been said – often, and with complete accuracy – that Iraq is George W Bush’s Vietnam. Apparently not satisfied with only a partial similarity to the country’s greatest foreign policy, political, and military debacle, he’s gone ahead and created his own Cambodia, too.
Look out, folks: we have a rogue president on our hands.
I already put up the link to Seymour Hersch's article in The New Yorker on the administration's Iran war plans in the last Links… post, but I wanted to highlight passages from the article because it's…well…important. And shocking.
I'm a big Hersch fan. Not because he's a member of the "liberal intelligensia" or any such clap-trap, it's because he has yet to be wrong. In 2003, he wrote about the manufacturing of intelligence to make the case for war with Iraq. He broke Abu Ghraib. He wrote about the CIA secret prisons. He told us to get second passports. And in every case, he was right.
And now it's the plans for war with Iran.
The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change.
Most of us would agree that Iran possessing a nuclear weapon is probably a bad thing (although I would argue that it's not bad for the US, but for Israel). Still the idea of another "regime change" in the Middle East brought about by the same folks who bungled Iraq is downright chilling. For one, Iran's military hasn't been weakened by a war and a ten-year blockade. For another, an invasion or bombing of Iran would ruin any chance we had of involving the militant Shi'ites in an Iraqi democracy. (That is, if you thought the Iraqi insurgency was bad now…)
And we're already crippling our economy to fight the current war. And our military is already overstretched fighting the current war. Basically, there's no way in h*ll we'd be able to pull it off.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Bush administration has learned from its mistakes in Iraq and would come up with a better plan for Iran. Hersch:
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that 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.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”
Indeed. Countries frown on being invaded. (If you don't believe me, go out and rent "Red Dawn," and watch yourself root for the terrorist insurgents as they battle the invading armies of an invading superpower.)
[Policy-maker and Bush supporter] Clawson said that he fears that Ahmadinejad “sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in. We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates.” Clawson said that he would prefer to rely on sabotage and other clandestine activities, such as “industrial accidents.” But, he said, it would be prudent to prepare for a wider war, “given the way the Iranians are acting. This is not like planning to invade Quebec.”
So. In other words, we'll bomb the h*ll out of Iran and its people will welcome us as liberators, and if we don't bomb the h*ll out of Iran, they'll think we're girly-men. So it seems the Bush administration and its supporters are planning to do away with Iran in the same way they went about the Iraqi invasion.
It gets worse.
The only members of Congress the Bush administration is advising are ardent supporters of their Iran plan. (So much for working with the other side, hey partisan haters?) And military planners are considering using tactical nukes.
The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the [underground bunker] sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,” the former senior intelligence official said. “ ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.”
He went on, “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”
Do I need to go get the evidence on why nuking another country is bad? Not just for the bombed people, but for the world? Do I? Isn't it obvious? Fallout – mushroom clouds – radioactivity: these are bad things. Nevermind the psychological effect of using nuclear weapons on another country. You think we have problem with Islamic extremism? Using a nuclear bomb will make the moderates extreme. And you know what? I couldn't blame them.
And whoever believes the Bush adminstration's claims about how soon Iran will go nuclear, raise their hands. Nobody? Why would anyone doubt the veracity and reliability of the rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration concerning its case for mounting an attack on a sovereign nation without a declaration of war from Congress?
I believe the US should maintain a large role in foreign diplomacy, and that we should have a strong military as a tool in said diplomacy. There are times when it's right and just to use military power.
Only we're embroiled in a war already, one that we're losing. Why don't we wrap this first one up? And let's actually make some good plans for an Iranian intervention, if we need one.
According to the Washington Post, we've got 10 years before the Iranians develop a nuclear weapon. We have time. And we should use diplomacy. We should sit down at the table with the Iranian government.
We don't need to prove our collective national manhood over Iran.