Thomas Friedman has written another op-ed about the Middle East. Frankly he should have retired his thoughts on the Middle East in 2002 when he gave up reason and supported the war in Iraq. But sadly, we still have to hear him get involved in that which he does not understand, or that which he would rather frame in a particular way, setting the stage for future American leaders to view the Middle East a particular way. He does so with this new op-ed. He writes:
The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.
That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today — the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S.”
For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. Any other questions?
The outrage of the week is the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah attempt to take over Lebanon. Hezbollah thugs pushed into Sunni neighborhoods in West Beirut, focusing particular attention on crushing progressive news outlets like Future TV, so Hezbollah’s propaganda machine could dominate the airwaves. The Shiite militia Hezbollah emerged supposedly to protect Lebanon from Israel. Having done that, it has now turned around and sold Lebanon to Syria and Iran.
Note all the problems in this, the simplistic view of something complex, the easy labels, and so on. First comes the overall theme, the overall framing that Mr. Friedman wishes his readers to view America’s foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East: A Cold War. See, Americans are quite familiar with the term “Cold War,” or so Mr. Friedman thinks. But from our one and only example of a “Cold War” there sure isn’t any real comparison between the two examples. However, in both examples, one thing is very, very, sadly true: the United States misreads both opponents. The Soviet Union took over eastern Europe to set up a buffer zone between itself and Germany (after two betrayals who would be dumb enough NOT to?). Did the Soviet Union have plans to go into western Europe? Nope. But that was the fear in the United States. That, however, set up the confrontations in the rest of the world, where the Soviet Union felt it needed to expand to protect itself from the threat faced by the United States. We did the same, setting up bases in far off countries, delving into the internal affairs of far off nations we had no business messing around with.
In this op-ed, you can almost feel Mr. Friedman’s desire for this to be a reversion to the more simplistic life under the Cold War. So simple it was. Them = bad guys, Us = good guys. The United States, though, is a real fickle bitch. We used the Soviet Union to destroy Nazi Germany, only to turn around and use those same Germans to undermine the Russians. Most of the real saving battles of World War II on the European front occurred between Russia and Germany (as they had a generation previous in World War I). Without the Soviets, Germany would have overrun the entire western front and given the United States no ability to truly make a beachhead in France. In any case, this is a tangent.
So back to the main point, the situation in the Middle East today is not a Cold War. The troubles of the Middle East are unfortunately from our doing, not Iran’s. We are the ones who removed a democratically elected president of Iran back in the 1950s, installing the shah and bringing repression back to the Iranians, leading to their Revolution and to the situation we see today. We are the ones who installed the Ba’ath Party in Iraq, leading to Saddam Hussein and the rest of that sad story.
The second place that Mr. Friedman gets things wrong is in tying Iran, Syria and Hezbollah as basically one entity working in harmony on every little point. If something occurs that undermines our position, it surely must be because of that dastardly “Axis of Evil!” Surely there are no local politics involved. Surely Hezbollah has no local politics to deal with that has nothing at all to do with Iran. Hezbollah is a powerful entity within Lebanon even without Iran.
What Mr. Friedman cannot seem to understand is that this is truly different than the Cold War. Poland had little choice but to do what the Kremlin ordered. But Syria is really not under the control of Iran. I highly doubt we will ever see Iran send tanks to Damascus to breakup a revolution like Budapest, Hungary. But see, thinking all that is getting into complex situations, and Mr. Friedman doesn’t really want Americans to think more deeply about this situation. He would rather have us look simplistically at the Middle East. Them = bad guys, Us = good guys. End of story, as Mr. Friedman would like to frame it.
Mr. Friedman, it is best if you stick to talking about global warming or globalization or anything else that has nothing to do with the Middle East. You’ve put your foot in your mouth far too much vis-a-vis the Middle East. Let us not forget how you framed the war in Iraq.
Should anyone ever consider listening to YOUR opinion of what to do in the Middle East? Never.
Michael Gordon carries the water for the Bush administration yet again, unquestioningly passing along any information “American officials” wish to pass along to their best enabler, Mr. Gordon. This time is it the salacious news that Hezbollah (our mortal enemy) has been training Iraqis in Iran (duh duh duh!)!
There has been debate among experts about the extent to which Iran is responsible for instability in Iraq. But President Bush and other American officials, in public castigations of Iran, have said that Iran has been consistently meddlesome in Iraq and that the Iranians have long sought to arm and train Iraqi militias, which the American military has called “special groups.”
In a possible effort to be less obtrusive, it appears that Iran is now bringing small groups of Iraqi Shiite militants to camps in Iran, where they are taught how to do their own training, American officials say.
Because of course, “American officials” are, er…uh, never wrong. But just read those two paragraphs closely. Iran, responsible for instability in Iraq? Who is the biggest provider of weapons and training in Iraq of various militias and non-state actors? Why it is the United States! In a competition between the United States and Iran, which of the two nations has directly killed more civilians than the other? Uh, this should be a no brainer, but for those kool-aid drinking war supporters, the answer is the United States. It is the United States that is sowing instability in Iraq at a far greater rate than Iran could ever do.
Those dratted meddlesome Iranians. If it weren’t for those blasted kids and their dog!
In an admiring article on Fallon in Esquire, former Pentagon official Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that Fallon angered the White House by “brazenly challenging” Bush on his aggressive threat of war against Tehran. Barnett also cites “well-placed observers” as saying Bush may soon replace Fallon with a “more pliable” commander.
Barnett’s account, which quotes conversations with Fallon during the CENTCOM commander’s trips to the Middle East, shows that Fallon privately justified his statements contradicting the Bush policy of keeping the “option” of an unprovoked attack on Iran “on the table” as necessary to calm the fears of Egypt and other friendly Arab regimes of a U.S.-Iran war.
Barnett recalls that when Fallon was in Cairo in November, the lead story in that day’s edition of the English-language daily Egyptian Gazette carried the headline “U.S. Rules Out Strike against Iran” over a picture of Fallon meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.
That story, published Nov. 19 and not picked up by any U.S. news media, reported that Fallon had “ruled out a possible strike against Iran and said Washington was mulling non-military options instead.”
Later that day, according to Barnett, Fallon told him during a coffee break in a military meeting, “I’m in hot water again,” and then confirmed that his problems were directly with the White House.
That was the second time in less than a week and the third time in seven weeks that Fallon had publicly declared that there would be no war against Iran. In an interview with Al-Jazeera television in September, which Fallon himself had requested, according to a source at Al-Jazeera, he had said, “This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful”.
And only a week before the trip to Egypt, in an interview with Financial Times, Fallon had said, a military strike was not “in the offing”, adding, “Another war is just not where we want to go.”
These statements represented an extraordinary exercise of power by a combat commander, because it contradicted a central feature of the Bush-Cheney strategy on Iran. High-ranking Bush administration officials had been routinely repeating the administration’s line that no option had been taken “off the table” since early 2005.
At an Oct. 17 news conference, Bush said he had “told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
Fallon’s public statements explicitly ruling out an attack on Iran thus undermined the Bush administration’s threat against Iran.
You ready America? A war with Iran is now closer at hand.
UPDATED: Here is the Esquire piece on Admiral Fallon that pretty much led to his removal. He was probably the last stumbling block on the Bush administration’s vile desires to war with Iran. Thomas P.M. Barnett’s abstract is ominous:
As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?
It seems the president has won and the world has lost.
There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.
Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?
Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?
I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!
Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.
Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.
So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?
This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.
Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.
I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.
It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?
On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.
“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.
“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”
I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.
More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.
Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?
Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.
Read for yourself:
George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.
As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.
The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.
Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.
They were wrong about Iraq. So they shifted their target to Iran. Now that the NIE has proven them wrong, I wonder who the next target will be. Will they turn on Saudi Arabia, where most of our “real” enemies come from? Will they pick lowly Yemen? We’ve got (or had) a bunch of Yemenis in Guantanamo Bay prison. Maybe Algeria if Islamic insurgents overthrow the military government. We know they won’t shift away from the Middle East. They’re too addicted to the oil. In any case, TalkingPointsMemo created a nice little tribute to America’s warmongers.
George W. Bush has, for the last several years, lied to America about Iran’s WMD program. What is worse is that he knew he was lying. He had the NIE assessment in his hand for the past year telling him that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been dormant since 2003. But over the past year, his, and Cheney’s and their supporters’ rhetoric, has been increasingly more virulent and violent toward Iran (who can forget John McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” moment a few months back).
This is an impeachable offense (among all the rest). President Bush knew that Iran’s nuclear program was dormant. But he pressed on as if preparing his nation to war with Iran. How is this not an impeachable offense? He played politics with national security, everybody. Has it come to such a point that we merely yawn “more of the same” every time we get this kind of news? Are we past feeling so that we’re no longer shocked when we hear such bad things? Have expectations been so lowered that we’re fine with letting Bush and Cheney still be in office even after this evidence?
Iran welcomes this news, of course, and says that America must “pay a price” for all the virulent and baseless rhetoric against its people. It is very understandable. We’ve been threatening Iranians with death over something that did not exist. We would feel the same way were say, the Chinese, to do the same to us.
It is time to prepare impeachment hearings and remove Bush and Cheney from power.
I noted in a previous post that Condoleezza Rice is a bumbling ignorant fool when it comes to the Middle East. She is attempting to somehow wrap up a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians before the end of her boss’s term. This is solely a selfish move, as she is more concerned about her legacy (war war war) than about peace. She has had ample opportunities to force her ideologically driven boss to make the right decisions, but every time, she failed. Well she finally convinced him to throw her a bone, and, as you’ll see, that’s what he did, throw her a bone.
President Bush, who’s largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he’s hosting in Annapolis, Md.
He won’t remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn’t planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.
Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.
He’s not going to really participate, get into the nitty gritty details. This may be a good thing, seeing how terrible a leader and diplomat he is.
It’s not only that he won’t really participate, but that he has completely ignored the REAL parties at conflict in the Middle East. Like, for example, orthodox Jews, who are none too happy about making peace with Palestinians. In fact, they, along with their counterparts in Palestine, Hamas, are counter-rallying against this meeting.
In a show of defiance against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip Tuesday and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel, saying “the only dialogue with the enemy with be with rifles and rockets.”
The demonstration that filled Gaza City’s wide central avenue came a day after thousands of Israelis, also opposed to fresh negotiations to create a Palestinian state, marched from the Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence near this city’s center.
Among them were leaders of at least one party that is part of Olmert’s governing coalition, a sign of the political tremors likely to follow the inauguration of the first Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly seven years.
Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists — the term used to describe those who deny the other’s right to a state nearly six-decades after Israel’s founding — have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.
But the hawks on both sides hold particular power at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation, ill with prostate cancer, and still criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided.
The biggest problem, of course, is that no one bothered to invite Iran to this meeting. Why not? Because the Bush administration is ideologically driven, rather than peace-driven. If the Bush administration truly cared about peace in the Middle East, they would be visiting Tehran, not rattling their sabers at Tehran.
More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests — Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions — that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks.
Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East.
“Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it’s not present,” said former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s in everyone’s calculation and motivation . . . [plus] the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. . . . The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers.”
And that there is the key to why this meeting will not accomplish anything. Think back to when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got Israel and two of her neighbors to sign peace treaties. Jimmy Carter focused on Egypt and Israel, and Bill Clinton focused on Jordan and Israel. In order for there to be peace between two nations, BOTH nations must be there for conferences that might spell out actions. Iran is nowhere to be found because no one invited Iran. That spells major trouble.
That also sends a signal to Iran that the United States considers Iran’s regime’s days numbered, not worthy enough to consider inviting to a meeting about peace. Think about that for a while.
I just have to add these great comics on this meeting:
Elizabeth Bumiller is writing a biography about Condoleezza Rice and released an excerpt to the New York Times highlighting an aspect of Ms. Rice’s…well, non-action over the last seven years on peace between Israel and Palestinians. Ms. Bumiller perfectly highlights that Ms. Rice was at the forefront of all the bad decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also points out that Ms. Rice pushed Israel to not be so harsh on the Palestinians just before the war in Iraq. After all, we can’t have our coalition be severely hampered by a sideshow.
Then we get to the best part. This is where Ms. Rice shows how inept, how ignorant, and how much of a bumbling fool she really is in regards to the Middle East.
When Ms. Rice became secretary of state in the second term, she told Mr. Bush in a long conversation at Camp David the weekend after the 2004 election that her priority would have to be progress in the Middle East. It was a turning point in more ways than one; Mr. Arafat died a few days later. Although Ms. Rice said in an interview that she had set no conditions when she took the job, her aides said that she had known that her relationship with the president would give her far greater influence to push an agenda, including peacemaking in the Middle East, than Mr. Powell’s.
You’d think that would be enough, but, well…
Accordingly, Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.
If one paid close attention to what was happening in Israel/Palestine from 2001-2006, one would have surmised that Israel was purposefully pushing Palestinians toward radicalism. For instance, a suicide bomber would blow himself and ten people up in Haifa. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would claim responsibility. What was Israel’s reaction? Why, they would bomb a Fatah police station! What? Huh? Now, why the hell would they do that, when Fatah was trying to rein in groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Why would Israel purposefully undermine the very organization that could lead Palestinians toward moderation and possibly peace? See, bombing a Fatah police station sends a particular message to Palestinians. The message is: Israelis don’t really want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis.
Enter the bumbling Ms. Rice. She continued this foolish stupid policy, completely ignored Arafat and Fatah, and tried to get Abbas elected and in power. But then when Abbas did win, she offered him nothing. This sent another message to Palestinians. The same one: Israel and the West don’t want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis and the West. See, by raising up Abbas, and then short-shrifting him, Ms. Rice set up the following event:
Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”
“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.
“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’”
She and the Israelis under Sharon set the stage for Hamas to win and then she is surprised that they won. Either she is acting or she is a complete bumbling ignorant fool. I’m going with the latter.
It then gets even worse. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in a brazen attack, kills several Israeli soldiers and captures two. This set off a wild summer in 2006. What did Ms. Rice do that summer?
Ms. Rice’s credibility was further damaged when she delayed calling for a cease-fire as Israel plunged into a two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza that summer. By the end of 2006, with the peace efforts in shambles and the administration’s time running out, Ms. Rice began to pick up the pieces.
Ms. Bumiller, as a biographer, is being kind to Ms. Rice. She does not mention Ms. Rice’s most unfortunate words:
But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.
What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East.
RICE: And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.
The birth pangs of a new Middle East?
This is how ignorant and lame Ms. Rice is on the Middle East. Not only was she wrong about Hamas, not only was she wrong about Hezbollah, but both have increased their positions of strength and influence since she got “involved.” Israel lost its aura of invincibility by “losing” to a ragtag group of terrorists. Oh and Israel still has yet to get back its two soldiers.
Just keep all this in mind when Ms. Rice attempts any future “talks on peace” in the Middle East. She is more worried right now about her “legacy” than actually about making peace in the Middle East.
If she truly would want to make peace in the Middle East, her first visit as of right now, should be to Tehran.
Last week Secretary Gates told reporters that EFP attacks in Iraq were way down and that Iran had curbed its supply efforts into Iran. Today the U.S. military announced that it would release nine Iranian “captives” (Best to avoid the word diplomat or intelligence operative). According to Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division:
Iran appeared to have kept its promise to stop the flow into Iraq of bomb-making materials and other weaponry that Washington says has inflamed insurgent and militia violence and killed hundreds of U.S. forces.
Look at that. Diplomacy works.
huh, how ’bout that! who would have thunk it. Imagine that.
In the typical Rovian neo-conservative fashion and strategy, the Bush administration and its allies are saying today that the best way to prevent war with Iran is to support war with Iran! Or as they said in 2002, the best way to avoid war with Iraq is to support war with Iraq!
In 2002 they said:
Moreover, unlike 1991, passage of the resolution does not mean that a war is imminent. Indeed, as the vote neared, Bush and members of his administration in recent days have deliberately toned down their tough rhetoric. The notion that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be toppled has been shoved in the background, while instead officials argue that the best way to prevent a war is strong support from Congress and the U.N. Security Council for a possible war, because it will demonstrate to Hussein that he has no choice but to give up his weapons of mass destruction.
In 2007 they said:
In approving far-reaching, new unilateral sanctions against Iran, President Bush signaled yesterday that he intends to pursue a strategy of gradually escalating financial, diplomatic and political pressure on Tehran, aimed not at starting a new war in the Middle East, his advisers said, but at preventing one.
Bush believes Tehran will not seriously discuss limiting its nuclear ambitions or pulling back from its involvement in Iraq unless it experiences significantly more pressure than the United States and the international community have been able to exert so far, according to administration officials and others familiar with the president’s thinking.
You ready for another war, America. You ready to sacrifice more of your sons and daughters for, well…not sure what exactly.
What does it take to raise the level of discourse of these Republican candidates for president? Here we have Mitt Romney responding on the new sanctions placed on Iran that he is in favor of “a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”
A bombardment of some kind? A military blockade? Just what in the hell will those do? Are Republicans really this far unhinged? This shows a real poor understanding of foreign policy on Mitt Romney. It shows that he would rather pander to an out of touch political Right than state things as they are. Com’on Mr. Romney, you were a stake president for Pete’s sake!
Keep an eye on this administration, everybody. They are slowly setting the stage for what will be called a “no-brainer” in Cheney’s words: war with Iran. We talk about it so much it will soon become an inexorable inevitability.
The Bush administration will announce a long-debated policy of new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism, administration officials said Wednesday night.
The administration also plans to accuse the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the officials said. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the decision to single out the Guard reflects increased frustration in the administration with the slow pace of diplomatic negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Both designations will put into play unilateral sanctions intended to impede the Revolutionary Guard and those who do business with it. This is the first time that the United States has taken such steps against the armed forces of any sovereign government.
The action against the Revolutionary Guard, first reported by The Washington Post, would set in motion a series of automatic sanctions that would make it easier for the United States to block financial accounts and other assets controlled by the Guard. In particular, the action would freeze any assets the Guard has in the United States, although it is unlikely that the Guard maintains much in the way of assets in American banks or other institutions.
The decision will be announced jointly on Thursday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the administration officials said. “This is going to be a broad and wide-ranging effort,” a senior administration official said. “We will be freezing assets, and there will be ripple effects of where we can go from there.”
And that is EXACTLY the point of this move. Where do you think they can go from here? The more the Bush administration takes these steps, the easier it will be for them to argue with Americans that that secret attack on Iranians they will be taking in a few months was absolutely necessary for your safety, America, even though it had nothing to do with your safety.
You are being bamboozled again.
Dang, they make this too easy:
IT IS NOT merely statesmanlike restraint or responsiveness to
U.S., European and Arabevery sane person’s appeals that have so far prevented Turkeythe United States from launching a military invasion of northern Iraq.Iran. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganPresident George W. Bush and his military commanders are also acutely aware that such an operation would play into the hands of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK,Iranian Republican Guard the insurgent group that is dug into the rugged, mountainous terrain along the Turkish-Iraqi border. Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others captured in a PKK ambush inside Turkey on Sunday; if there were an invasion, Ankara’s losses would be much higher, while the chances that PKKIranian Republican Guard bases inside IraqIran could be wiped out are small. Meanwhile, Turkey’sAmerica’s gains in integrating its ethnic KurdIranian population [in the world community]– a large part of which voted for Mr. Erdogan’s party in recent elections— could be nullified.
It really is too easy. One wonders why war proponents don’t want Turkey to go after terrorists who killed Turkish soldiers, but are so quick to want to invade and destroy Iran. Hypocrites!
So Turkey wants to invade Iraq to kill or capture those who killed its soldiers. Sounds like a fairly reasonable demand, seeing that Kurdish terrorists are killing Turks. I mean, don’t we find any excuse possible to want to attack Iran?
But no, the Bush administration is urging Turkey to restrain its activities:
The United States continued efforts today to steer Turkey away from a military incursion into northern Iraq, after a cross-border raid by Kurdish rebels on Sunday killed 17 Turkish soldiers and raised the prospect of an escalating conflict.
The State Department is great at highlighting our own hypocrisy and I’ll let Mr. McCormack do the talking:
As tension increased in Turkey and scattered groups of protesters gathered to demand retaliation, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. had opened what he called a “full-court press” to keep the situation from deteriorating.
“We want to see an outcome where you have the Turks and the Iraqis working together, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue without a Turkish cross-border incursion,” McCormack said.
Huh, let’s change those words just slightly and see if it makes any sense:
“We want to see an outcome where you have the
TurksAmericans and the IraqisIranians working together, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue without a TurkishAmerican cross-border incursion [into Iran],” McCormack said.
Makes good sense to me. Doesn’t it to you?
What in the heck did George W. Bush mean when he warned that if Iran progresses further in their nuclear technology that there would be World War III? Let’s read the account first:
Q [Putin] said — well, at least the quote said that — and he also said, “He sees no evidence to suggest Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.” Were you disappointed with that message? And does that indicate possibly that international pressure is not as great as you once thought against Iran abandoning its nuclear program?
THE PRESIDENT: I — as I said, I look forward to — if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those, because when I visited with him, he understands that it’s in the world’s interest to make sure that Iran does not have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. And that’s why, on — in the first round at the U.N., he joined us, and second round, we joined together to send a message. I mean, if he wasn’t concerned about it, Bret, then why did we have such good progress at the United Nations in round one and round two?
And so I will visit with him about it. I have not yet been briefed yet by Condi or Bob Gates about, you know, their visit with Vladimir Putin.
Q But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so long — until they suspend and/or make it clear that they — that their statements aren’t real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it’s in the world’s interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian — if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.
But this — we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
Note the threat there. If we supposedly want to avoid World War III, we need to prevent Iran from having “the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” It’s no longer even a matter of them having nuclear weapons, but they can’t even go on track to have them.
So let’s get into Bush’s insane and childish logic here. First of all, Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which specifically allows countries to proceed with nuclear technology. (note importantly that India is NOT, yet Bush signed a massive deal with them to share our nuclear technology—but hey we were never fair in terms of following international law, so why start now, right?). The NPT specifically, and most importantly, legally allows a country like Iran to have a nuclear energy program. George W. Bush would have the United States of America violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty by taking away from Iran what is rightfully and legally theirs: access to nuclear energy. Now, if George W. Bush feels the NPT is not a good treaty, he can order the United States to relinquish its terms to the treaty (as he did with the ABM treaty so long ago). After all, we’re already violating the spirit of the NPT by signing the deal with India, who does NOT belong to the NPT and probably never will.
Secondly, why would George W. Bush think that if Iran would gain nuclear technology and knowledge it would lead to a WORLD war? When you talk about World Wars, you’re talking about something along the lines of what we saw in the 1910s and 1940s. Is George W. Bush saying that multiple countries will be involved in a prolonged conflict that will lead to the deaths of millions of people?
Think about this, if Iran merely has the knowledge of nuclear technology, they can’t USE that knowledge to start wars. Knowledge in and of itself is practically useless. It must be put into PRACTICE in order for it to become forceful. So how could the KNOWLEDGE of nuclear technology lead Iran to START a world war? It couldn’t. So who would be STARTING that next World War?
Just follow George W. Bush’s own logic, guys. He is basically telling you that HE AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA will be STARTING THE NEXT WORLD WAR. We will be the instigators of WORLD WAR THREE.
I was one of those who was highly disappointed with the 2000 election. There were so many factors that took away the presidency from the rightful person and put it in the hands of a childish, boy emperor, a petulant, self-serving, babbling idiot, who has left the blackest mark on our country…since, well, I can’t honestly think of a worst president.
I can’t say how angry I have been these past seven years at Ralph Nader, siphoning votes away from Al Gore (Ralph Nader got like 70,000 votes in Florida in 2000, plenty to defeat Bush). Republicans have seen the power of a third party candidate taking votes away from the likely winner (they faced a similar situation in 1992 with Ross Perot giving the victory to Bill Clinton), and some Republican candidates have tried to mimic that for a Senate seat.
George Bush was given the presidency and the world (with the exception of a few) mourned his administration. 9/11 occurred on his watch. He began expanding warrantless wiretapping right from the beginning of his administration in February 2001 (according to QWest CEO). He ordered the CIA and the military to torture suspects a practice previously we abhorred and usually denounced when we heard other countries practice. He used politics of division rather than union and immediately angered half of his own country. He rightfully went after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after we were attacked, but instead of focusing on our real enemy, he chose to go after Saddam, with no really good reason to do so. He contracted out security to lawless men who murder innocent Iraqis. He continues to bamboozle America into further war, increasingly raising the specter of war with Iran.
Al Gore went away from the spotlight during this time, but in 2002, as the country was seeing red and Iraq was its target, he spoke out prophetically against the war, and made us who felt he was our real president, long for his leadership instead of the idiot we got.
For Al Gore, winning the Nobel Peace Prize today is the latest twist in a remarkable decade of soaring highs and painful lows. In the span of the last decade he went from being the vice president to being the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to winning the popular vote for president only to lose in the Electoral College — after an intervention by the Supreme Court made his 537-vote loss in Florida official.
Mr. Gore’s decision to give up the fight after the Supreme Court decision left some of his more die-hard supporters bitter, and he by and large retreated from public view for several years. He rarely inserted himself in the public debate, though he did venture out to speak against the invasion of Iraq before it happened. But, associates have said, it was during that quasi-exile that Mr. Gore broke free of the political consultancy that had come to surround him to find his true voice, returning to the environmental issues to which he had devoted his early political career.
Even before Mr. Gore’s so-called “user generated” cable television network, Current, won an Emmy, or the film on climate change in which he starred, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Oscar, he was growing in stature for another reason: his early opposition to the Iraq war.
He had initially voiced it in 2002 in an address that his newly galvanized supporters now describe as uncannily prescient and unfairly dismissed, though it was seen as a politically off-kilter at a time of great popularity for President George W. Bush.
The Prize certainly comes as vindication to Mr. Gore, whose early dedication to environmental issues had earned him the derisive nickname “Ozone Man” — “Ozone,” for short — from President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 presidential campaign.
Al Gore went private and became a true leader of the world. He created a TV network, he created a documentary that won him the Oscar for Best Documentary, and he went around the world and raised awareness, enough so that blogs like this write a post with well over 300 comments on global warming. This is raising awareness. And because of this Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Conservatives hate this, because they think they see a hypocrite (they of course never look in the mirror—if they did they might have a Dorian Gray moment). They try to downplay the importance of the Nobel Prize, claiming it is political, blah blah blah.
But in the world of power and influence, Al Gore has shown that striving for peace is more powerful and more influential than creating war.
As Noam Scheiber writes:
Watching Al Gore take a well-deserved victory lap this afternoon, I couldn’t help wondering what George W. Bush must be thinking. I mean, I know the guy still believes history will vindicate him and all, but, really, this has got to be pretty painful. Bush, according to various accounts of the 2000 campaign, absolutely despised Gore. He regarded him as a preening, self-righteous phony.
So Bush somehow manages to avenge his father’s defeat and vanquish the vice president of the United States. And yet, seven years later, it’s Gore who’s being hailed around the world as a prophet and a savior and Bush who, if he’s still being discussed at all, is mentioned only as the punchline to some joke, or when his poll numbers reach some new historic low. It must eat him up.
I don’t know if it eats up Mr. Bush, who never cared much of what others thought of him (at least publicly), but it sure brings satisfaction to those of us who wonder why Bush ever became our president.
Read this piece from CNN about a “firefight” in Baquba. Note the shift at work. It is slowly changing from Al-Qaeda being our big enemy in Iraq to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard being our main enemy.
U.S.-led coalition forces launched an airstrike west of Baquba on Friday morning, killing about 25 insurgents after a “heavy firefight” with troops, a U.S. military statement said.
The firefight involved assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the statement said.
The forces’ operation was targeting a commander with suspected links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. According to the U.S. military, he was “involved in the movement of various weapons from Iran to Baghdad.”
Do you see it? In a few months, they won’t be as cautious with their words against Iran, and Al-Qaeda will completely be removed from their lexicon in Iraq. This is the work of men who have a strategy in mind to deceive and convert Americans into fundamentalist supporters of war with Iran. Note that nothing really has changed in reality, just in how they REPORT reality.
that Pakistan, a country that has several nukes, is losing the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Um, er, uh, what are we doing in Iraq again? The same thing that Bin Laden apparently sent some of his goons into Iraq for…
Heck’v'a job, Bushie!
Oh, and instead of preparing Americans to go into Pakistan WHERE WE SHOULD BE ALREADY, Bush and Cheney are preparing Americans to go into Iran! Huh?