Category Archives: Peace

Iran again

I have added the following comment on Yglesias’s solution-in-search-of-a-problem article, Exciting New Reasons to Bomb Iran.  As I am in the middle of a blogging drought I thought I would repost it here.

Matt, as often you are so right about this.

As Scott Ritter points out the Iranians have switched from talking down the US/Israeli sabre rattling as bluster to responding in kind and they are doing this to give Mullen and the realists the ammo to argue that there is no way the fallout for an attack on Iran can be restricted without much more serious preparations than those that have already been made and, of course, those preparations can’t be made before January.

Cheney and the neocons have been desperate since 2005 to bring about regime change and they figure that whatever the outside chances bombing is their last best shot. They don’t care about the risks to the Middle East and the American/world economy: that kind of pain will be felt by poor people and foreign suckers.

However the neocons need a plausible rationale to sell to the rest of us. As Matt says they have a solution in search of a problem.

Iran Insanity Update

I read an account by a member of the paratroop regiment serving in the Falklands conflict.  After the surrender of the Argentine forces some bored members of the regiment were play a game of cricket, with hand grenades and some improvised bat.  The batter would have to hit the grenades into the sea where they could safely explode.

This reminds me of the games that we are playing at the moment with Iran.  Maybe we are all bored and in need of some entertainment–not able to get the kick out of destroying other people’s countries we need to make the game a little more exciting.  Let us hope that we keep on hitting the grenades into the sea.

Many with a good knowledge of what is going on, and a good track record in finding things out, are saying that we are nat making any sense.  Nothing has changed since the Iraq fiasco.  But when the fireworks start this time we are all going to get seriously hurt.  Before we started destroying the Iraqi people and their country they were an industrialized country with cities, hospitals, schools, power grids, water treatment and so on.  We systematically wrecked that so it makes a good study of what could happen in the industrial world if we pull down all those systems.  They, and our economies, are all dependent on oil.

This is why the Iranians have no need for a strategic nuclear deterrent.  They just need control a single narrow shipping lane.  They have always been clear about this, and they have had plenty of time to prepare.

Nothing that we are doing makes any sense at all.  We accuse them of undermining the nuclear weapons proliferation agreements, but it is us that are destroying these agreements.  We accuse them of destabilising the middles east but it is us that are doing so.  We accuse them of supporting terrorism and yet we hear that the Bush administration has asked for $400m from Congress to terrorize Iran and Congress are playing along and considering authorizing a naval blockade of Iran.  And we continue to terrorize and kill people in the region in quite high numbers, far, far higher numbers than the paramilitary groups that we obsess over.

We are nuts.  I don’t know how it is going to play out and it is not worth losing sleep over.  Worrying is a mug’s game.  All I can do is call it as I see it.

For those that are interested, Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter have interviews (Hersh, Ritter) and articles (Hersh, Ritter) spelling out what is going on.  Gordon Prather’s articles on nuclear weapons proliferation are excellent, as are Gareth Porter’s on the wider issues.

M.E. Nuclear Follies: Hersh, Ritter, … and the Failed States Index

Jamal Dajani’s latest Mosaic Intelligence Report looks at what has been going on in Afghanistan. The outlook for victory in the ‘good war’ looks incredibly bleak.

Gordon Prather has an article arguing that the Bush administration legacy will be “the deliberate destruction of the existing international nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime,” and Scott Horton has interviewed him on the subject. Prather shows a touching incredulity that nothing the Bush administration does in this area seems to make much sense.

Iraq has gone from second to fifth in the Foreign Policy Failed States Index, illustrating perfectly the success of the ‘surge’. William Pfaff has a truthdig article, The Illusion of Saving Nations from Themselves, reminding us of how we got here:

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Goldberg is also Wrong about Ahmadinejad

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Jeffrey Goldberg) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

[Update: Please read the companion article, The Love Buzz, explaining why it is important to seek out everyone’s point of view, especially those of people that you find offensive, and that this process in no way condones their actions.]

In an eerie coincidence, as soon as I completed my essay, Why Fisk is Wrong about Ahmadinejad, that finished with Jeffery Goldberg, I read Goldberg’s article, Mearsheimer and Walt: Apologists for Ahmadinejad, responding to Stephen Walt comments in a lecture in Jerusalem:

A professor criticized the authors for failing to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. “I don’t think he is inciting to genocide,” Walt responded.

Goldberg starts with the infamous mistranslation:

October, 2005: “Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine… I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world. But we must be aware of tricks.”

despite it being well known that more accurate translations exist.

The Imam [Khomeini] said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.

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Trita Parsi’s Treacherous Alliance

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Trita Parsi) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of
Israel, Iran and the United States

by Trita Parsi (2007)

This is one of the best books I have read. I read it over six months ago yet it seems as clear as if I had read it yesterday and still feel excited about what Trita Parsi has achieved with this book, demonstrating that while the evolution of the relationship between Israel and Iran has had a deeply ideological face, underneath this façade geopolitical factors have been the real drivers and the real causes of their gradual transition from allies to enmity. Again, their current enmity is not founded in the Iranian revolution at the end of the 1970s but the termination of the cold war and the defeat of Iraq in the first Persian Gulf war in the 1990s. Parsi bases his analysis on 130 interviews of senior officials in charge of the foreign policy of the three countries covering the period from the decline of the Shah to the 2006 Lebanon war.

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Powell’s Chief of Staff Spills the Beans

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here RealNews) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

Paul Jay provides a typically incisive three-part interview with Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff to Colin Powell 2002-5. In the first part Wilkerson explains that the 2003 strategic bargain offered by Iran was turned down by Cheney on the grounds that such negotiations would legitimise the Iranian regime. This is quite timely as I am in the middle of a discussion on the merits of this Neoconservative approach to foreign policy with Hey Skipper on the Obama’s Realist Iran Policy article. As Wilkerson makes clear the issue is one of Neoconservative policy, not conservative policy, or Republican policy, or even Bush administration policy (the Bush State Department under Powell wasn’t Neoconservative). If any episode illustrates the total folly of the Bush/McCain approach then this story does, Wilkerson underlining in the second and third interviews the horrible stupidity of it all and why he won’t be voting for McCain in the election (but he is waiting for more details from Obama).

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100 Years

Marc Ambinder still doesn’t understand why John McCain should be held accountable for his ‘100 years’ remark:

The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack.

If I tell my parents that I really don’t want to burn the family home down yet keep playing with matches, and proclaiming that I will keep on playing with them, what are my parent supposed to think? Of course I don’t want to burn the house down, but obviously it isn’t a very high priority, and anyway, whatever my professed intentions, my actions are going to lead to these consequences anyway.

For people that oppose the war, the occupation of Iraq is a neo-colonial operation and a continuation of the war and the fact that John McCain can’t see this is of great significance.  It would be incompetent and irresponsible of any anti-war candidate to gloss over and ignore McCain’s remarks and his continued defence of them; this issue should be attacked until it is properly understood, the kid of confused thinking it betrays being responsible for the current Iraq disaster.

It is really no wonder that Obama supporters take issue with Marc Ambinder’s professed neutrality.