Republicans may call Ollie North to testify as an “expert”
On March 12, Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of the United States Southern Command, alerted the Senate Armed Services committee to the growing threat posed by Iran. According to his statement, the Islamic Republic has “established more than 80 ‘cultural centers’” in Central and South America and the Caribbean — “a region with an extremely small Muslim population.” The scare quotes signal that Kelly has seen right through the cultural façade to Iran’s real project: terrorism sponsorship.
To close observers, Kelly’s conspiracy theory will have a familiar ring. Conservatives have been warning us about the Iranian subversion of Latin America for years.
At a 2009 Congressional hearing, Norman A. Bailey — a veteran of Ronald Reagan’s national security affairs — painted a grim picture of Iran’s “penetration into the Western Hemisphere through Venezuela.” Not only had the Iranians commandeered Venezuelan tractor and bicycle factories to store drugs, weapons “and other items useful to them and their terrorist clients,” they had even “opened a ‘maintenance’ facility in Honduras for the ‘tractors’ produced in Venezuela.”
As if this weren’t enough, they had also established embassies in a smattering of Latin American nations…
Writing in Foreign Policy in 2010, the American Enterprise Institute’s Roger Noriega — whose career highlights include involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal — said blah, blah, blah, de-blah, blah.
As might be expected, the hysteria is not limited to Americans. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon once warned of the frightening existence of commercial air travel between Latin America and Iran: “We know that there are flights from Caracas via Damascus to Tehran.” A true detective…
The real purpose of the hype is to bring the Iranian threat home, justifying the increased militarization of our backyard and Iran’s in one stroke.
Of course, Latin American history has seen plenty of state-sponsored terror, including the disappearance of 30,000 suspected leftists during the Argentine dirty war of 1976-83, many of whom were dropped from airplanes into the river or the ocean.
A recently published memo confirms that U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the Argentine junta the “green light” to commence the disappearances. A number of key participants in this and similar regional projects were trained at the notorious School of the Americas, then located in Panama and run by — you guessed it — not Iran…
Lost in all the ruckus, of course, is a question that should be obvious: Why is the U.S. allowed to militarize the globe — including Iran’s immediate neighborhood…It’s the same playbook Reagan drew on when he warned that the Sandinistas were “just two days’ driving time from Harlingen, Texas.” Such rhetoric means more money for the defense and border fortification industries, and preemptively validates any eventual Israeli or U.S. aggression against Iran.
And, now, the world reacts with hope and support for the potential of a US-Iran Nuclear Accord. Yes, Obama will blather about protecting the whole world and UN involvement; but, when push comes to shove, this is one more example of the United States and our agitprop aircraft carrier floating above Middle East oil reserves – Israel – lined up against a nation where we already have a history of regime change. Iran.
Days to come will show me one of the more interesting facets of the negotiating process between the White House and Congress. A process that will demonstrate to the rest of the world how little real foreign policy changes from generation to generation in the United States. Obama prides himself in a quest for nuclear disarmament – but, not at the expanse of Israel or Exxon.
We will get to see which of the Blue Dog Democrats will advertise their cowardice and opportunism and side with Republican neo-cons and fundamentalist nutballs alike opposing the nuclear treaty just negotiated.
Nice to see continuity in American foreign policy, eh?
Iranian officials sometimes respond to accusations that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability by replying that, not only do they not want a bomb, they’d actually like to see a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. Yes, this is surely in part a deflection, meant to shift attention away from concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities by not-so-subtly nodding to the one country in the region that does have nuclear weapons: Israel.
But could Iran have a point? Is there something hypocritical about the world tolerating Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which the country does not officially acknowledge but has been publicly known for decades, and yet punishing Iran with severe economic sanctions just for its suspected steps toward a weapons program? Even Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its implacable enemy and made its accommodations with Israel long ago, often joins Tehran’s calls for a “nuclear-free region.” And anyone not closely versed in Middle East issues might naturally wonder why the United States would accept Israeli warheads but not an Iranian program…
The single greatest factor explaining how Israel got the world to accept its nuclear program may be timing. The first nuclear weapon was detonated in 1945, by the United States. In 1970, most of the world agreed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which forbids any new countries from developing nuclear weapons. In that 25-year window, every major world power developed a nuclear weapon: the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France and China. They were joined by exactly one other country: Israel.
The Israeli nuclear program was driven in many ways by the obsessive fear that gripped the nation’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, in which the new country fought off Egyptian and Jordanian armies, Ben-Gurion concluded that Israel could survive only if it had a massive military deterrent — nuclear weapons…
But Israel of the 1950s was a poor country. And it was not, as it is today, a close political and military ally of the United States. Israel had to find a way to keep up with the much wealthier and more advanced world powers dominating the nuclear race. How it went about doing this goes a long way to explaining both why the United States initially opposed Israel’s nuclear program and how the world came around to accepting Israeli warheads…
…First, in 1968, Israel secretly developed a nuclear weapon. Second, and perhaps more important, was a White House meeting in September 1969 between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. What happened during that meeting is secret. But the Nixon’s administration’s meticulous records show that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to Nixon, in a later conversation about the Meir meeting, “during your private discussions with Golda Meir you emphasized that our primary concern was that Israel make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons or undertake a nuclear test program.”
That meeting between Nixon and Meir set what has been Israel’s unofficial policy ever since: one in which the country does nothing to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate its nuclear weapons program, and in exchange the United States would accept it. The Nixon administration had concluded that, while it didn’t like the Israeli weapons program, it also wasn’t prepared to stop it…
“Essentially the bargain has been that Israel keeps its nuclear deterrent deep in the basement and Washington keeps its critique locked in the closet,” Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explained.
What do Americans do about a bankrupt policy put in place by one of the most corrupt presidents in American history? Not a damned thing.
Point out we are the world’s only military superpower, known for arrogance and hypocrisy – I think the average American would try to deflect the criticism by coming up with rationales to excuse our hypocrisy, redefine it as expediency, something done to “protect” our nation.
It ain’t a new ploy. Everyone from dictators to democrats employs the strategy. The only thing that counts is that ordinary citizens accept every lie and don’t seek to change anything.
The only difference in political parties, who sits in the White House, is the quality of the lies. Either flavor still accepts the Nixonian policy.
Women across Iran are posting photos of themselves without the hijab to a dedicated Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom”…The Facebook page was set up just over a week ago, and already has 130,000 “likes”. Almost all are from people in Iran, both men and women.
So far the page has around 150 photos. They show women on the beach, on the street, in the countryside, alone, with friends or their partners – but crucially – all without the headscarf. Most include a few words, for example: “I loathe the hijab. I too like the feel of the sun and the wind on my hair. Is this a big sin?”
Ever since the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago, it has been illegal for a woman to leave the house without wearing a headscarf. The punishment ranges from a fine to imprisonment. “My hair was like a hostage to the government,” says Masih Alinejad, an Iranian political journalist who lives in the UK and who set up the Facebook page. “The government still has a lot of hostages,” she adds.
Alinejad got the idea after she posted some photos of herself without the hijab to her own Facebook page. The images were liked thousands of times. So many women began to send her their own pictures that she decided to set up a dedicated page. Though she’s well-known for being critical of the government in Iran, she insists the page is not political. “These are not women activists, but just ordinary women talking from their hearts…”
The hijab is a controversial issue in Iran. A recent billboard campaign reminding women to cover themselves up, was mocked on social media for comparing women to chocolates in a wrapper. But many support the wearing of the hijab, arguing it’s an important part of Islamic law – there was a demonstration in Tehran last week, with protesters calling for a more strict implementation of the rules.
Letting religion order your clothing, your nutrition – or lack thereof – is absurd. I can’t say much more than that because this is the kind of question I sorted out well before I left my teens. That was a very long time ago.
So, folks who get hung up into deep discussions about the flavors that differentiate religion really aren’t getting a whole boatload of commentary from me. Difficult enough restraining my native crankiness. :)
From yesterday evening:
The Tweet, last night, from Iran’s foreign minister about success in moving forward on peaceful resolution of nuclear programs.
William Burns, Wendy Sherman, Jake Sullivan – negotiators in secret
The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.
The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.
But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.
President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort – promised in his first inaugural address – to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.
The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.
The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran’s reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran…
The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.
The Geneva deal provides Iran with about $7 billion in relief from international sanctions in exchange for Iranian curbs on uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity. All parties pledged to work toward a final accord next year that would remove remaining suspicions in the West that Tehran is trying to assemble an atomic weapons arsenal.
Iran insists its nuclear interest is only in peaceful energy production and medical research.
The diplomatic gamble with Iran, if the interim agreement holds up and leads to a final pact preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, could avert years of threats of U.S. or Israeli military intervention. It could also prove a turning point in decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran – and become a crowning foreign policy achievement of Obama’s presidency.
First off, RTFA for the details. The AP has done a professional job outlining the chronology of this comparatively recent – and successful – effort.
The rest of the world will keep the whole history of relations between Iran and the United States in mind even though the average American hasn’t a clue. A condition perpetuated by what passes for news in our media-as-entertainment only, history in our schools.
It starts with the United States, the CIA and Iranian royalists combining to crush the first democratically-elected government in Iran back in 1953. No one in Iran, no one in the Middle East forgets how American greed for oil trumped democracy with violence. No one in the world seriously believes the United States has abandoned the imperial premises that brought about that coup.
The possibility of the detente that started during the Clinton years continuing – were abruptly halted, intentionally or otherwise – by George W. Bush announcing to the world how he demanded the Iranian people vote in elections in 2005. Only an old-fashioned fool in the mold of Colonel Blimp would expect a nation to bow their heads and say, “Yes, boss” to such arrogance. And, so, the Iranian nation ended up with a fool in charge to match the clown in the White House.
We are fortunate that one of the few promises kept by Barack Obama since his election was the one made about negotiating with Iran. No less arrogant than George W, as dedicated as ever to the premises that keep a right-wing government in power in Israel, nevertheless, through the good graces of the Sultan of Oman – communications were continued and expanded until this important first step moved forward yesterday evening.
The usual shitheads are upset. From Lindsay Graham in South Carolina to Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, from Tea Party trollops to Chuck Shumer, the senator from Tel Aviv – right-wingers and liberals alike in their dedication to imperial greed from the United States and our client state in Israel are pissed off.
That is as it should be. Another sign of positive accomplishment.
Iranians have used social media to mock Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after he suggested they were not allowed to wear jeans.
In an interview with BBC Persian TV Mr Netanyahu said that if Iranians were free they would wear blue jeans, and listen to Western music.
Hundreds of Iranians both in Iran and abroad reacted on social media sites…Many posts showed mainly young Iranians wearing jeans and listening to Western music, some in comic poses.
Others mocked up scenes from ancient Persian history with the protagonists wearing denim.
Jeans are not banned in Iran, where an Islamic dress code requires women to cover their hair and wear modest outer clothing. Some Western music or Western-style music is tolerated.
One picture on social media sites showed a young boy in jeans whispering into the ear of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Another is a doctored photograph of Mr Netanyahu’s address at the UN last year in which he drew a red line across a sketch of a bomb, to warn that Iran was moving closer to the metaphorical “red line” of gaining enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb.
In the mocked-up picture, widely-shared on Twitter, the bomb has been replaced with a picture of a female figure wearing jeans, with the Israeli prime minister appearing to draw a red line across the thighs.
One Iranian response on a Facebook page that has attracted hundreds of followers read: “He thinks he saw our bomb but he hasn’t seen our jeans.”
Most Americans probably can legitimately claim to be ignorant of the role our nation played in suppressing democracy in Iran – laying the groundwork for an Islamic revolution. Israelis really can’t. They can’t avoid a certain amount of history and knowledge. Though, obviously, their right-wing prime minister tries hard to portray himself as the theocratic village idiot.
The CIA has released documents which for the first time formally acknowledge its key role in the 1953 coup which ousted Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq.
The documents were published on the independent National Security Archive on the 60th anniversary of the coup…They come from the CIA’s internal history of Iran from the mid-1970s…
The US role in the coup was openly referred to by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000, and by President Barack Obama in a 2009 speech in Cairo.
But until now the intelligence agencies have issued “blanket denials” of their role, says the editor of the trove of documents, Malcolm Byrne.
This is believed to be the first time the CIA has itself admitted the part it played in concert with the British intelligence agency, MI6…
Iranians elected Mossadeq in 1951 and he quickly moved to renationalise the country’s oil production, which had been under British control through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company – which later became British Petroleum or BP.
That was a source of serious concern to the US and the UK, which saw Iranian oil as key to its post-war economic rebuilding.
The Cold War was also a factor in the calculations…
Insert usual Cold war crappola here
The coup strengthened the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – who had just fled Iran following a power struggle with Mossadeq and returned following the coup, becoming a close ally of the US.
The US and UK intelligence agencies bolstered pro-Shah forces and helped organise anti-Mossadeq protests.
“The Army very soon joined the pro-Shah movement and by noon that day it was clear that Tehran, as well as certain provincial areas, were controlled by pro-Shah street groups and Army units,” Wilber wrote.
“By the end of 19 August… members of the Mossadeq government were either in hiding or were incarcerated.”
The Shah returned to Iran after the coup and only left power in 1979, when he was overthrown in the Islamic revolution.
Of course the 98% of Americans who haven’t a clue as to why Iranians hate our government so much, who believe silly agitprop about envy and religion – probably won’t read the news article either.
General Cartwright and his boss
One of the highest ranking military officers in the US is under investigation for allegedly leaking top secret information about a cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear programme…
NBC news channel reported…that retired General James Cartwright, a former second-highest-ranking officer, was under investigation for leaking information on a covert computer virus, called Stuxnet.
The virus was used in 2010 to temporarily disable 1,000 centrifuges used for enriching uranium by Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Cartwright, who was the number two person in the joint chiefs of staff from 2007 to 2011, was instrumental in the development of Stuxnet, and his role was publicised in a New York Times article published last year.
The article exposed that the virus was the Obama administration’s key weapon against Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.
President Barack Obama responded to the article sternly: “My attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks. These are criminal acts when they release information like this.”
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that there was ongoing speculation about Cartwright’s motive behind the leaks.
“It’s simply a stunning development when you consider that the Obama administration has always said that ‘people who leak are going to be prosecuted if we figure out who they are.'”
Will Cartwright be treated as cruelly as Bradley Manning? Will he be prosecuted for espionage the way Ed Snowden is threatened by scumbags like Dick Cheney and Peter King?
I need a new pair of rubber boots if I’m to wade through Obama’s hypocrisy. So much of his ideology is typical Democrat Cold War crappola. He authorizes a criminal attack on another nation – then, villainizes a participant for leaking the tale.
As much of an historic event was his election, that doesn’t change the fact that the core of his politics remains the same old barely useful and timid pragmatism we’re accustomed to from Democrats since Truman. It’s all we’re allowed by our tired TweedleDeeDumb two old parties.
Iran was on the brink of an extraordinary political transformation on Saturday night after the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani sensationally secured enough votes to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani’s victory delighted reformers who have been desperate for a return to the forefront of politics after eight acrimonious years under Ahmadinejad.
It will also lift the spirit of a nation suffering from its worst financial crisis for at least two decades as a result of the sanctions imposed by western powers in the dispute over its nuclear programme.
Rouhani, who favours a policy of political openness, as well as re-establishing relations with the west, is likely to soothe international tension. He has been described by western officials as an “experienced diplomat and politician” and “fair to deal with”.
Iran’s interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, announced on state television on Saturday night that 72% of 50 million eligible Iranians had voted, and Rohani had won just over the 50% of the vote required to avoid a runoff.
Rouhani, a PhD graduate from Glasgow Caledonian University and a former nuclear negotiator, has pledged to find a way out of the current stalemate over Iran’s nuclear programme, which is the cause of the sanctions crushing the economy.
Minutes after he was announced as the winner, thousands of jubilant campaigners and people across Iran poured into streets to celebrate. “Ahmadi Bye Bye”, chanted a large group in central Tehran, according to witnesses, in a reference to Ahmadinejad. Car horns were honking in larger streets in Tehran and Rouhani supporters chanted.
The Iranian currency, the rial, recovered in value against the dollar by at least 6% on Saturday. Later on Saturday night, Rouhani issued a statement on television, saying “a new season of solidarity” had begun following a result that brought “rationality and moderation” as well as “peace, stability and hope”…
The turnout for Friday’s vote was so high that polling stations stayed open for five hours longer than planned.
Speaking after casting his vote in Tehran, Khamenei had urged a mass turnout to rebut suggestions by American officials that the election enjoyed little legitimacy.
“I recently heard that someone at the US national security council said, ‘We do not accept this election in Iran’,” he said. “We don’t give a damn.”
All of the papier-mâché lovers of democracy from the UK to the US, from Cameron to Obama, have lined up to give advice. The best thing they could do – for a change – is keep their sticky fingers out of the pot of oil and natural gas that belongs to Iran and shut up for a change.
All prior blather about negotiating in good faith with Iran never came to pass. Just election-speak. Fact remains that even under the strictures of the Iranian theocracy, the turnout for the election was greater than anything Uncle Sugar has turned out in decades. A multi-party, multi-choice election unlike anything allowed in the United States.