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Stop the Iran War Before It Starts (scroll down to the bold

War Without End Forum Index -> Wake Up America! Your Government is Hijacked by Zionism
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Alpha
Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: Stop the Iran War Before It Starts (scroll down to the bold

Scroll down to the bold type in the 'Stop the Iran War Before It Starts' article by Scott Ritter for 'The Nation' which is included after the following.


Scott Ritter - "We're on the edge of the abyss...."

http://www.ichblog.eu/content/view/154/1/

Weekend Edition
February 24 / 25, 2007
"An American Strike on Iran is Essential for Our Existence"
AIPAC Demands "Action" on Iran
By GARY LEUPP


http://www.counterpunch.com/leupp02242007.html

Blame it on Iran:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFcZfwODNUU


Would Israel Attack Iran First?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwM3cwdYdjk


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Fool Us Twice? From Iraq to Iran
By Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet

Posted on February 14, 2007, Printed on February 14, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/47994/


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Bush's Rush to Armageddon

http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/2007/010807.html

By Robert Parry
January 8, 2007

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The Persian Gulf: a war of position
Paul Rogers
8 - 2 - 2007

The logistics of the United States military build-up off Iran's coast are ominous


http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/persian_gulf_4332.jsp

Hysteria at Herzliya
by Patrick J. Buchanan

http://www.lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan53.html


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Target Iran: US able to strike in the spring

Despite denials, Pentagon plans for possible attack on nuclear sites are well advanced

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Saturday February 10, 2007
The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2010086,00.html

Josh Muravchik (who is mentioned in the above article from 'The Guardian' is also associated with the JINSA Israel first neocons up at AEI in Michael Leeden and Richard Perle as Dick Cheney has been associated with JINSA as well (Colin Powell conveyed for Washington Post Karen DeYoung's new bio book about him that the 'JINSA crowd' was in control of the Pentagon - look up JINSA - Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs - in the index):

A War for Israel? Colin Powell seems to think so:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/10/08/a-war-for-israel-colin-powell-seems-to-think-so.php

Colin Powell feared the power of the pro-Israel lobby
:

http://www.selvesandothers.org/view3631.html

Pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC, JINSA and similar) PUSHING for US to attack Iran next for Israel:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/03/17/u-s-middle-east-policy-motivated-by-pro-israel-lobby.php

Iran: The Next War (for Israel):

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/07/28/iran-the-next-war-for-israel.php

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War with Iran might even start through Lebanon in accordance with the 'A Clean Break'/war for Israel agenda:

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10495

'A Clean Break' (War for Israel) agenda of the Likudnik JINSA/CSP/PNAC Neocons (pages 261-269/318-321 of James Bamford's 'A Pretext for War' book"):


http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2005/02/11/a-clean-break-from-james-bamford-s-a-pretext-for-war.php


Helping Israel Die
by Ray McGovern

http://www.antiwar.com/mcgovern/?articleid=10500

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Stop the Iran War Before It Starts (scroll down to the bold type in the body of the following article by Scott Ritter):

This article can be found on the web at
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070205/ritter



Stop the Iran War Before It Starts
by SCOTT RITTER
[posted online on January 24, 2007]
In April 2001 I was invited to Washington, DC, by a group of Republican Congressmen collectively known as the Theme Team. The subject was Iraq. It seems that the Theme Team, responsible for monitoring the ideological pulse of America, was somewhat perturbed that a self-described Republican and former Marine officer, not to mention a former UN weapons inspector, was trash-talking America's Iraq policy. While this sort of action might have been acceptable during the tenure of a Democratic President like Bill Clinton, it was not part of the grand design when it came to the presidency of George W. Bush.
The conference room was packed with more than seventy Representatives and their staffs. I provided an opening in which I stressed that the case being made against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, centered as it was on the issue of WMD, did not hold water. I chastised the Republican lawmakers with a warning: If they continued to support the policy of confronting Saddam's Iraq over a trumped-up charge, they would not only get America involved in a war it could not win but would end up destroying the credibility of the Republican Party, and turn control of the Congress, and eventually the Presidency, to the Democrats. There were questions asked, and answers given, and in the end most thanked me for what they called an "illuminating" meeting.
Then they proceeded to do nothing.
Today that warning has become reality. America is bogged down in a losing war in Iraq, the Republican Party lies in shambles over its partisan support of a policy that was never debated or discussed but rather rubber-stamped and the Democrats now control the Senate and the House of Representatives. There is a very real chance that the Democrats will take control of the presidency in 2008, since the debacle that is Iraq will not be resolved prior to that date.
President Bush will go down in history with complete ownership of the Iraq War. The Republican Party will also be tarnished by this legacy. It doesn't matter that the policies of sanctions-based containment and regime change, which set in motion the events leading up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, were conceived of and implemented by Clinton, or that the Democrats in Congress were as complicit (and incompetent) in their support of those policies through their "bipartisan" support of both the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (which set America's policy toward Iraq as regime change) and the War Authorization Resolution of 2002, which punted away Congress's constitutional responsibilities when it came to the declaration of war. To most Americans, the war in Iraq is a Republican war, and blame has been placed squarely at the doorstep of the Republican Commander in Chief who got us there, George W. Bush.
In his recent State of the Union address, Bush spent a great deal of time speaking about Iraq and his plans for how to achieve "victory" there. The Democrats, in their various responses, rightly criticized the President and his plans as unrealistic and insupportable. The stage has been set for an old-fashioned showdown between executive and legislative power, where the advantages are stacked in favor of those who control the power of the purse (i.e., Congress), since the President's new "surge" strategy hinges not only on the availability of troops to be surged but also on the money to pay for it.
When it comes to Iraq, newly empowered Democrats in Congress are getting a free ride, so to speak. While the honorable (and right) thing to do would be to combine their just criticism of the President's policy with a vision (and corresponding plan) of their own on how to proceed in Iraq, the Democrats instead seem to have taken the less risky and more politically savvy path of simply pointing an accusatory finger at the President, demanding that he fix what he broke. There is no coherent, broad-based Democratic plan for Iraq other than to criticize the President. In the case of Iraq, Democrats have demonstrated that they are just as capable of letting American service members die in order to preserve their own political ambition as their Republican counterparts are.
While this is abominable, the Democrats will most likely get away with it. After all, the horror that is present-day Iraq did not happen on their watch. Iraq is a Republican debacle, and it will continue to play out as such politically on the domestic front.
If I were to be invited to go to Washington today and speak to the Democratic equivalent of the Republican Theme Team, I would spend very little time on the issue of Iraq. Right or wrong, the Iraq War was a product of domestic American politics, not any genuine threat to national security, and as such the solution for Iraq will be derived not from whatever happens inside Iraq, surge or no surge, but rather from what happens here in America. It will take two or more national election cycles for the American electorate to purge Congress of those elements, Republican and Democratic alike, who are responsible for the Iraqi quagmire.
Until American politicians from either party show that they care more about the lives of the men and women in the armed forces who operate in harm's way than they do about their own political fortunes, we will remain in Iraq. It takes courage to stand up against this war when the tide of public opinion continues to hold out hope for victory. "Doing the right thing" is a thing of the past, it seems. "Doing the politically expedient thing" is the current trend. The American public may have articulated frustration with the course of events in Iraq, but this feeling is derived more from a frustration at being defeated than from any moral outrage over getting involved in a war that didn't need to be fought in the first place. Congress takes its cues from the American people, and until the American people are as outraged over the mere fact we are in Iraq as they are over the rising costs of the conflict--human, moral and financial--then Congress will continue to dither.
If I were to address a Democrat Theme Team equivalent, I would focus my effort on trying to impress them with the issue that will cost them political power down the road. This issue is Iran. While President Bush, a Republican, remains Commander in Chief, a Democrat-controlled Congress shares responsibility on war and peace from this point on. The conflict in Iraq, although ongoing, is a product of the Republican-controlled past. The looming conflict with Iran, however, will be assessed as a product of a Democrat-controlled present and future. If Iraq destroyed the Republican Party, Iran will destroy the Democrats.
I would strongly urge Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to hold real hearings on Iran. Not the mealy-mouthed Joe Biden-led hearings we witnessed on Iraq in July-August 2002, where he and his colleagues rubber-stamped the President's case for war, but genuine hearings that draw on all the lessons of Congressional failures when it came to Iraq. Summon all the President's men (and women), and grill them on every phrase and word uttered about the Iranian "threat," especially as it has been linked to nuclear weapons. Demand facts to back up the rhetoric.
Summon the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or any other lobby promoting confrontation with Iran, to the forefront, so that the warnings they offer in whispers from a back room can be articulated before the American public. Hold these conjurers of doom accountable for their positions by demanding they back them up with hard fact. See if the US intelligence community concurs with the dire warnings put forward by these pro-war lobbyists, and if it doesn't, ask who, then, is driving US policy toward Iran? Those mandated by public law and subjected to the oversight of Congress? Or others, operating outside any framework representative of the will of the American people?
If a real case, based on facts as they pertain to the genuine national security interests of the United States, can be made for a confrontation with Iran that leads to military conflict, so be it. America should never shy away from defending that which legitimately needs defending. The sacrifice expected of our military forces, while tragic, will be defensible. But if the case for war with Iran is revealed to be as illusory as was the case for war with Iraq, then Congress must take action to stop this conflict from occurring. This is the Democrats' issue now, the one that will make or break them in 2008 and beyond.
If hearings show no case for war with Iran, then Congress must act to insure that the United States cannot move toward conflict with that nation on the strength of executive dictate alone. As things currently stand, the Bush Administration, emboldened with a vision of the unitary executive unprecedented in our nation's history, believes it has all of the legal authority it requires when it comes to engaging Iran militarily. The silence of Congress following the President's decision to dispatch a second carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf has been deafening. The fact that a third carrier battle group (the USS Ronald Reagan) will probably join these two in the near future has also gone unnoticed by most, if not all, in Congress.
The President and his advisers believe that they are acting in accordance with the authorities given to the executive by the US Constitution, and by legislative authority as well, as provided for in both the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution of September 14, 2001 (after the attacks of September 11, where Congress not only authorized the President to use military force against the perpetrators of the terror attacks but also against those nations deemed to be harboring people or organizations involved in the attacks), and the Authorization of Military Force Against Iraq resolution of October 2002 (where Congress concurred that any presidential action would be "consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001").
The National Security Strategy of the United States, most recently promulgated in March 2006, lists Iran as the number-one threat to the United States, not only in terms of its yet-to-be-proven nuclear weapons program but also from its status, as declared by the Bush White House, as the world's leading state sponsor of terror. The Bush Administration has repeatedly linked Iran with the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks and has accused Iran of harboring people and organizations involved in that attack. If left unchallenged by Congress, the Bush Administration firmly believes it has all of the authority required to initiate military action against Iran without Congressional approval.
This is not an idle statement on my part. One needs only to read the words of President Bush during his recent State of the Union address:
Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this earth with the unbelievers among us." These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement.
In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East.
Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah, a group second only to Al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.
The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes: They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale. In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not.
And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies and to protect the American people. [Author's emphasis]
What is unrealized in this passage is the loud applause given by members of Congress to the President's words.
Democrats in Congress have the opportunity to nip this looming disaster in the bud. The fact that most of the Democratic members of Congress who enjoy tenure voted in favor of the resolutions giving the President such sweeping authority is moot. Democrats are all capable of pleading that they were acting under the influence of a Republican-controlled body and unable to adequately ascertain through effective oversight the genuine state of affairs. This is no longer the case. The Democrats in Congress are in firm control of their own destiny, and with it the destiny of America. A war with Iran will pale in comparison with the current conflict in Iraq. And if there is a war with Iran, this Congress will be held fully accountable.
Democrats should seek immediate legislative injunctions to nullify the War Powers' authority granted to the President in September 2001 and October 2002 when it comes to Iran. Congress should pass a joint resolution requiring the President to fully consult with Congress about any national security threat that may be posed to the United States from Iran and demand that no military action be initiated by the United States against Iran without a full, constitutionally mandated declaration of war. Those who embrace the notion of a unitary executive will scoff at the concept of a Congressional declaration of war. They hold that the power to make war is not an enumerated power per se. While statutory authorization (i.e., a formal declaration of war) is enumerated in the Constitution, the reality (as reflected by the current War Powers Act) is that the powers of bringing America to a state of war are not so much separated as they are linked and sequenced, with Congress exercising its control over budgetary appropriations and the President through command.
There may well be merit to this line of argument. But one thing is perfectly clear: Only Congress holds the power of the purse. While a President may commit American forces to combat without the consent of Congress (for periods of up to 180 days), he cannot spend money that has not been appropriated. There is, in the passing of any budget, inherent authority given to the President when it comes to national defense. However, Congress can, if it wants to, put specific restrictions on the President's ability to use the people's money. A recent example occurred in 1982, when Congress passed the Boland Amendment to restrict funding for executive-sponsored actions, covert and overt, in Nicaragua. While it is in the process of getting a handle on America's policy vis-à-vis Iran, Congress would do well to pass a resolution that serves as a new Boland Amendment for Iran. Such an amendment could read like this:
An amendment to prohibit offensive military operations, covert or overt, being commenced by the United States of America against the Islamic Republic of Iran, without the expressed consent of the Congress of the United States. This amendment reserves the right of the President, commensurate with the War Powers Act, to carry out actions appropriate for the defense of the United States if attacked by Iran. However, any funds currently appropriated by Congress for use in support of ongoing operations by the United States Armed Forces are hereby prohibited from being allocated for any pre-emptive military action, whether overt or covert in nature, without the expressed prior consent by the Congress of the United States of America.
However it is worded, the impact of such an amendment would be immediate and could forestall any military moves planned by the Bush Administration against Iran until Congress can fully familiarize itself with the true nature of any threat posed to the United States. President Bush seems to be hellbent on making war with Iran. The passage of time is, in effect, the enemy of his Administration's goals and objectives. By buying the time required to fully study the issues pertaining to Iran, and by forestalling the possibility of immediate pre-emptive action through budgetary restrictions, Congress may very well spare America, and the world, another tragedy like Iraq. If a Democrat-controlled Congress fails to take action, and America finds itself embroiled in yet another Middle East military misadventure, there will be a reckoning at the polls in 2008. It will not bode well for the Democrats currently in power, or those seeking power in the future.

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Ramifications of a coming war with Iran for Israel:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/01/13/ramifications-of-coming-attack-on-iran-for-israel.php

Pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC, JINSA and similar) PUSHING for US to attack Iran next for Israel:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/03/17/u-s-middle-east-policy-motivated-by-pro-israel-lobby.php

U.S. prepares to release 'evidence' of Iran’s role in Iraq

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/02/10/u-s-prepares-to-release-evidence-of-iran-s-role-in-iraq.php


U.S. hell-bent for Iran war
(for Israel!):

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/02/06/u-s-hell-bent-for-iran-war-for-israel.php

Iran: The Next War (for Israel):

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/07/28/iran-the-next-war-for-israel.php


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The following article is interesting because it conveys at the beginning that the USS Ronald Reagan is departing San Diego for a mission related to supporting the troop surge in Iraq but then mentions that the Reagan will be used in the western Pacific.. Do you know where it going to exactly? If the Persian Gulf as well, that will be three aircraft carriers which is very telling of what is to come sooner rather than later...


http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/10792962/detail.html?rss=dgo&psp=news


NBCSanDiego.com
USS Ronald Reagan To Deploy
Carrier, Support Ships To Leave San Diego

POSTED: 7:36 am PST January 19, 2007
UPDATED: 8:04 am PST January 19, 2007
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan will leave its home port in a few weeks for a mission related to President George W. Bush's plan to send a surge of new troops to Iraq, sources told NBC 7/39.

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Images: USS Reagan Leaves On 1st Deployment
Images: Pam Anderson Visits USS Reagan
Images: USS Reagan Arrives In San Diego
Images: Construction, Commissioning Of USS Reagan
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According to The Associated Press, the Navy plans to send the Reagan to the Western Pacific instead of the USS John Stennis, which has been ordered to the Middle East.
The wire service quoted an unnamed Navy official, who said the Navy had considered sending the Stennis to the Asian region to fill in for the Japan-based USS Kitty Hawk, which is due to undergo maintenance, but officials decided to deploy the Stennis to the Gulf area instead.
U.S. officers believe that having an aircraft carrier in the Pacific is an important part of the U.S. deterrent against North Korea and overall U.S. military presence in the region.
The San Diego-based Reagan will leave its home port in a few weeks for the mission, said the official who asked not to be named because the deployment hasn't officially been announced.
NBC 7/39, quoting different Navy sources in the San Diego area, reported that the Navy was expected to announce the deployment of the Reagan and its San Diego-based support ships on Friday.
The Kitty Hawk is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, making it the only U.S. aircraft carrier effectively based overseas.
The Stennis's arrival in the Middle East will mark the first time since the U.S.-led Iraq invasion in 2003 that the United States has had two carrier battle groups in the region.
The ship, which is based in Bremerton, Wash., is expected to arrive in the Middle East in about one month.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated in Brussels Monday that Iran's perception of U.S. vulnerability in the region was part of the reason the Pentagon decided last week to send a second aircraft carrier battle group and a Patriot anti-missile battalion to the Gulf area.
Patriots defend against shorter-range missiles of the type that Iran could use to hit U.S. bases in the area.
The Stennis will stop off in San Diego on its way to the Gulf to pick up an air wing of more than 80 planes, including F/A-18 Hornet and Superhornet fighter-bombers.
The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is already in the Gulf region.
Previous Stories:
January 17, 2007: USS Stennis Heads To San Diego
July 6, 2006: Hundreds Welcome Carrier's Return
January 5, 2006: USS Reagan Ships Out On 1st Deployment
August 3, 2005: Pam Anderson Visits Sailors In San Diego
July 23, 2004: USS Ronald Reagan Homeporting Celebrations
July 22, 2004: San Diego Welcomes USS Ronald Reagan
Copyright 2007 by NBCSandiego.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report


Last edited by Alpha on Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:43 pm; edited 24 times in total
Alpha
Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:02 am    Post subject:

Stepped up US preparations for war against Iran


By Peter Symonds

Global Research, February 5, 2007
WSWS.org


A relentless and unmistakable American buildup for war against Iran is currently underway. Military preparations are being accompanied by a daily barrage of propaganda against Tehran issuing from US sources and relayed uncritically via a compliant media. The chief accusation currently being levelled against the Iranian regime is that its agents are supporting and arming Shiite militias inside Iraq to attack US troops—a charge that has yet to be substantiated with concrete evidence.
President Bush last month not only ordered the US military to “seek out and destroy” Iranian networks in Iraq, but confirmed last week that he had authorised American troops to capture or kill Iranian agents. On Monday, in an interview with National Public Radio, Bush reiterated: “If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly.”
In Congressional confirmation hearings this week, Bush’s new appointees echoed the same message. John Negroponte, who has been nominated as deputy secretary of state, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, that Iran’s “behaviour, such as supporting Shia extremists in Iraq, should not go unchallenged. If they feel they can continue with this kind of activity with impunity, that will be harmful to the security of Iraq and to our interests in that country.”
Admiral William Fallon, who has been nominated as head of Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Iran’s involvement in terrorism and sectarian violence was “destabilising and troubling”. “They have not been helpful in Iraq. It seems to me that in the region, as they grow their military capabilities, we’re going to have to pay close attention to what they do and what they may bring to the table,” he added.
Fallon indicated that he intended to assist in building a regional coalition “to address Iran’s actions”. As the first naval officer to be appointed head of Central Command, his role will obviously not be limited to diplomatic activity. Fallon will preside over a huge US naval buildup in the Persian Gulf, which, for the first time since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, will include two aircraft carrier groups.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the assault ship, USS Bataan, steamed through the Suez Canal on Tuesday on its way to the Persian Gulf. The seven-vessel battle group includes 2,200 US Marines and sailors, helicopters and Harrier fighter jets. The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and its associated warships are due in the region later this month, joining the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower which is already in the Gulf. In all, Fallon will have around 50 warships as well as hundreds of warplanes at his disposal.
A comment in the French newspaper Le Figaro on January 27 noted that with the two carrier groups, “the United States now has the ability to conduct an air offensive 24 hours a day for 30 to 40 days. It can rely on Bahrain, the huge al-Udaid airbase in Qatar and its operational command centre, and the Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean for supply. The American satellites have reportedly identified 1,500 targets linked to the Iranian nuclear weapon program, distributed over 18 main sites. No one doubts that considerable damage could be inflicted on them. Industrial and oil targets could be added to them.”
Ominously, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday outlining plans for more aggressive patrols by US warplanes along the Iran-Iraq border, ostensibly to counter the smuggling of weapons into Iraq. A senior Pentagon official told the newspaper: “Air power plays major roles, and one of those is as a deterrent, whether it be in border control, air sovereignty or something more kinetic.” As the Times noted, “kinetic” is a term used to denote offensive military action. Whatever the stated purpose, provocative US air patrols close to Iranian air space could quickly escalate into open conflict.
While top US officials keep repeating as fact that Iranian agents are involved in supporting anti-US militia in Iraq, no proof has been offered for the allegation. US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, was scheduled yesterday to present a “dossier” of specific evidence of Iranian arms shipments to Iraq, including serial numbers and shipping documents. But the plan was put on hold, indicating that the “proof” is just as threadbare as the lies about weapons of mass destruction that were concocted to justify Iraq’s military occupation.
A propaganda war
Lack of evidence has not stopped the US media from publishing stories that have all the hallmarks of planted articles from the Bush administration, the CIA or Pentagon. An article appeared in the New York Times yesterday based on anonymous US and Iraqi officials suggesting that Iranian agents were involved in an attack on a secure compound in Karbala on January 20 in which five American soldiers were killed.
The report provided details of the raid, emphasising its sophistication—the use of forged identity cards, “American-style” uniforms and rifles, sports utility vehicles and communications devices. But it did not offer a shred of evidence that any Iranians, let alone Iranian government agents, were involved. As “proof,” all that was offered was the argument that the operation was too complex for Iraqi insurgents to have carried out alone.
An unnamed senior Iraqi official alleged that rogue elements of the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr were being armed and controlled directly from Iran. An American military official hinted at a broad conspiracy involving senior Iraqi officials, asking: “Was the [Karbala] governor involved? Were the Iraqi police that were on guard complicit or just incompetent?”
The New York Times pointed quite openly to the real purpose of the story, which has been recycled throughout the media: “Tying Iran to the deadly attack could be helpful to the Bush administration, which has been engaged in an escalating war of words with Iran.”
The article followed another dubious New York Times report on January 29 alleging that “Iranian intelligence” had been involved in the assassination of the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq, Ihab Al Sharif, shortly after his posting in June 2005. The story was based on a front-page article in the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, which offered no evidence other than the comments of anonymous sources. Both the Iranian and Egyptian foreign ministries denied the allegations. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the murder at the time. None of this, however, stopped the New York Times circulating the story as good coin.
It is certainly possible that Iranian intelligence agents operate inside Iraq, like those of other countries, including American allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Iran has close links with Shiite parties and militia, including those in the US puppet regime in Baghdad, and may well be supplying them with assistance. It is also possible that insurgents are purchasing arms legally or illegally inside Iran, as well as in other countries. But there is no proof that the Iranian government is backing anti-US insurgents in Iraq.
In comments for the US-based Council on Foreign Relations website, Kenneth Pollack from the Brookings Institution remarked: “The Bush administration seems to be regarding the Iranians as the source of many, if not all, of Iraq’s problems today. To me, it is dangerously reminiscent of how they talked about the Syrians in 2004 and 2005, when they ridiculously exaggerated Syria’s role in the Sunni insurgency.”
An article in the Los Angeles Times on January 23 noted: “For all the aggressive rhetoric, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims [of Iranian involvement]. Nor have reporters travelling with US troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches US troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol.”
In an interview with an obviously hostile New York Times journalist on January 29, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qumi vigorously denied Iranian support for anti-US militias. He dismissed evidence seized by US troops in provocative raids in which a number of Iranians were detained in December and January.
“He ridiculed the evidence that the American military said it had collected, including maps of Baghdad delineating Sunni, Shiite and mixed neighbourhoods—the kind of maps, American officials have said, that would be useful for militias engaged in ethnic slaughter. Mr Qumi said the maps were so common and easily obtainable that they proved nothing,” the newspaper noted.
In the coming weeks, the US propaganda offensive will undoubtedly intensify in order to obscure the real reasons for the war preparations against Iran. In the first instance, Washington is determined to prevent Iran from expanding its influence as a result of the disasters that the US has created in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. More broadly, however, the Bush administration views the eventual subjugation of Iran as a necessary stage in its long-held plans for US dominance over the Middle East and Central Asia and their rich reserves of oil and gas.

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Stop the Iran War (for Israel) before It Starts
:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/02/07/stop-the-iran-war-before-it-starts-scroll-down-to-the-bold.php
Alpha
Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject:

Tehran warns US against attacks

Iran will strike against US interests worldwide if it is attacked, the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned.
"The enemies know well that any aggression will lead to a reaction from all sides," he said.
Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and has not ruled out using military force.
The Iranians insist their nuclear programme is purely civilian and aimed at meeting their energy needs.
The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says Ayatollah Khamenei was defiant about the prospect of a possible American military strike.
The supreme leader said he hoped nobody would risk attacking Iran because the nation would stand up for itself and only become stronger militarily and economically.
Iran also denounced remarks by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that Tehran was determined to stir up maximum trouble in the Middle East.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini said Mr Blair's comments were "insolent" and "undiplomatic".
Mr Hosseini said Britain had played a key role in sabotaging talks on the nuclear issue in the past and had followed the US and Israel in imposing destructive wars on the Middle East.
War games
Another key Iranian figure, ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has also warned against a strike, saying it would carry a heavy cost for those who tried it.
The warnings came as Iran's navy and air force conducted war games.
Iran said it had successfully test-fired a land-to-sea missile with a range of 350km (220 miles).
Tehran said it had also tested a new Russian-made air defence system.
Officials have refused to confirm whether the system has been deployed around nuclear sites.
At the weekend ambassadors from non-aligned countries were allowed to visit an Iranian nuclear facility, on what was billed as a transparency visit.
The UN's chief nuclear inspector is to report on Tehran's compliance with the UN Security Council's demands later this month.
In December the UN imposed limited sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/6342313.stm

Published: 2007/02/08 17:44:35 GMT

© BBC MMVII

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


b]Iran: We'd hit back at attacker[/b]

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- If the United States were to attack Iran, the country would respond by striking U.S. interests all over the world, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday.
Speaking to a gathering of Iranian air force commanders, Khamenei said: "The enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world."
Iranian leaders often speak of a crushing response to any attack. While the remarks are seen as an attempt to drum up national support, Iran's position on Iraq and its nuclear program has provoked more than usual international pressure in recent months.
U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered American troops to act against Iranians suspected of being involved in the Iraqi insurgency and has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf area as a warning to Iran.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions because of Iran's refusal to cease uranium enrichment, and is due to consider strengthening later this month.
"Some people say that the U.S. president is not prone to calculating the consequences of his actions," Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on state television, "but it is possible to bring this kind of person to wisdom."
"U.S. policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response," Khamenei added.
Khamenei addressed rumors about his health -- a subject that is rarely discussed openly in Iran. Last month, there was speculation that his health had deteriorated seriously.
"Enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumors about death and health to demoralize the Iranian nation, but they did not know that they are not dealing with only one person in Iran. They are facing a nation," Khamenei said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/08/iran.nuclear.ap/index.html


Last edited by Alpha on Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:02 am; edited 1 time in total
Alpha
Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:57 am    Post subject:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/persian_gulf_4332.jsp


The Persian Gulf: a war of position

Paul Rogers
8 - 2 - 2007

The logistics of the United States military build-up off Iran's coast are ominous.



The United States operations in Iraq continue to be costly. The number of American combat deaths in October 2006 - January 2007 (334) was the highest of any four-month period since the war began in March 2003. In the first five weeks of 2007, 110 US troops have been killed and nearly 700 wounded. The destruction of five helicopters between 20 January and 8 February has inflicted serious damage, and created a new strategic headache for US forces aware of the rising technological capability of the Iraqi insurgents.
The US casualties are still minor compared with the heavy loss of life for Iraqis, and the number of Iraqi deaths too is expected to rise as the US troop "surge" brings more intensive patrols in Baghdad. A more visible American troop presence may not lead to the insurgents melting away to return later, as they have so often in the past. Instead, they may be prepared to engage more forcefully in urban warfare, especially as elements of them have been able to acquire some of the more sophisticated portable anti-aircraft missiles that have arrived in Iraq.



Paul Rogers is professor of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He has been writing a weekly column on global security on openDemocracy since 26 September 2001



In any case, the exact level of US troop reinforcements is less than clear. There is apparently some confusion as to whether the 21,500 additional combat troops being sent will be accompanied by the even larger number of support troops that usually back up the combat brigades. The current overstretch in the US army means that existing support troops may have to carry much of the extra work, and this creates something of a dilemma: either additional support is forthcoming (which could mean another 30,000 troops), or else it will be difficult to maintain the new level of forces for any length of time.
Whatever happens in Iraq, a significant build-up of US forces in the Persian Gulf appear to have much more to do with a possible crisis with Iran. The previous column in this series pointed to four important recent military decisions:
the order to US forces in Iraq to kill or detain members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards who might be operating in Iraq
the decision to deploy a second aircraft-carrier battle-group to the region for the first time in nearly four years
an increase in the number of Patriot anti-missile batteries
the assignment of additional mine counter-measures ships (see "The United States and Iran: the logic of war", 1 February 2007).
In addition, two unusual and lesser-noted developments deserve attention, for they could carry even greater implications for the future course of events.

A naval surprise

The first concerns the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft-carrier that is at the centre of yet another carrier battle-group that may be heading to the region. The Ronald Reagan left San Diego on 27 January at the head of a powerful force that included the guided missile-cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the guided missile-destroyer USS Russell; both warships are reported to be equipped with scores of sea-launched cruise missiles.
The US navy reports that the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group "was deployed under the navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which provides the United States with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces and the ability to respond to a range of situations at short notice."
Two aspects of the carrier's operations are of interest. The first is that the carrier only returned from its previous deployment to the Arabian Sea in July 2006, something usually followed by a longer period of home-porting; instead, the ship has since been taking part in exercises designed to maintain a high state of military readiness. The second concerns the current operations. The navy says that the carrier is actually deploying to the western Pacific to take over from the older carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk - this being the only carrier permanently based abroad (at Yokosuka in Japan), and currently undergoing maintenance.
What is a bit unusual here is that the Kitty Hawk's three-month maintenance work is being undertaken by the crew, not external contractors, with the ship retaining the ability to deploy at short notice if need be. Furthermore, this maintenance started on 8 January, whereas the Ronald Reagan carrier battle-group will not even arrive in the area until mid-February. This does not seem to fit with standing in for the Kitty Hawk and does mean that another carrier battle-group could actually be deployed to the Gulf at short notice. Moreover, this is a strike group that has a crew experienced in recent operations in the Gulf.
A third carrier battle-group deployed to the region would be a clear sign that, at the very least, a major show of forces is in prospect; but in another sense, and from a rather different angle, that is beginning to happen already.
In addition to maintaining an aircraft carrier battle-group in the Persian Gulf region since the Iraq war began in 2003, the US navy has also tended to keep another type of naval force there as well. This is termed an "expeditionary strike group" (ESG): it comprises of a very large amphibious warfare ship, normally a Wasp-class 45,000 ton warship, accompanied usually by two smaller amphibious warfare ships - although even these are as large as the Royal Navy's two Albion-class vessels.
The current ESG in the Gulf is centred on the USS Boxer, together with the USS Dubuque and the USS Comstock, as well as a cruiser, a destroyer and other supporting vessels. This flotilla alone has well over 2,000 marines on board, equipped with helicopters, AV8B strike aircraft, landing craft, tanks, armoured vehicles, an array of logistics support and even military hovercraft. It is designed to be highly versatile but is particularly suited to coastal and near-coastal operations against defended positions. The Boxer ESG has been in the area since late October and, in the normal way of things, might have another two months to go before being replaced by another group.
An accidental war?
This is the second major recent development noted above. For what has not been widely noticed is that a second expeditionary strike group - based on a sister ship to the Boxer, the USS Bataan - transited the Suez canal into the Red Sea on 30 January and has joined the US navy's fifth fleet, responsible for US naval operations in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and surrounding waters.
Furthermore, the Bataan ESG is a particularly powerful flotilla; it includes two more amphibious warfare ships, USS Shreveport and USS Oak Hill, the guided missile-cruiser USS Vella Gulf, the guided missile-destroyer USS Nitze, the frigate USS Underwood and the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Scranton.
Thus the naval forces now gathering in the region include two carrier battle-groups and two expeditionary strike groups, with the possibility of yet another carrier battle-group, centred on the USS Ronald Reagan, being barely ten days away.
This combination of events does not mean that a war with Iran is imminent, although it does mean that a remarkable concentration of forces will be available to the US by late March and early April - including precisely those kinds of forces that would be employed to defend US and coalition assets in the region should a crisis with Iran escalate to open conflict.
That could happen in three ways:
an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, leading to Iranian retaliation against US forces
a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, with a similar response
a determined US show of military force to add to the diplomatic pressures on Iran that "goes wrong".
In other words, quite untoward and unplanned developments, even accidents, could combine to turn a tense crisis into conflict.



In addition to his weekly openDemocracy column, Paul Rogers writes an international security monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group; for details, click here
Paul Rogers's new book is Into the Long War: Oxford Research Group, International Security Report 2006 ()



April's danger

This military build-up, in the context of hawkish rhetoric from neo-conservative quarters in Washington, can be held to imply a firm intention on the part of the United States (or Israel) to launch an attack on Iran. As last week's column pointed out, this may not be the case.
What is actually more risky in current circumstances is a crisis getting out of hand, particularly in the complex and volatile circumstances that now prevail in Iraq as the American surge continues, as well as in the context of the uncertainties and infighting of Iranian politics.
From a strictly diplomatic point of view, this is a dangerous time for the United States to be sending powerful naval forces into the region, especially as there will be far greater media coverage of these moves in Iran than will appear in the western press. The powers that be in Washington think differently, however, and are making decisions accordingly. The effect could be to make April a rather dangerous month.



This article is published by Paul Rogers, and openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees.

Comments

Dan Plesch
Comment No. 457
8-2-2007
In addition to the Marine aircraft carriers Paul mentions, it appears that there are two or more additional Expeditionary Strike Groups in, or on the way to the Gulf. These are the Kearsarge- which should have returned home a while ago and has not, and the Bonhomme Richard which left San Diego a few weeks back. Others (Wasp, Nassau, Pelelieu) are also only a few weeks away.
As to the big Navy carriers, a Japanese military source informs me that the Kitty Hawk is in dock till April. However the Truman is underway in the Atlantic. More important, the post-9/11 Navy can put six carriers into battle in a month.
These forces are now integrated with the far larger firepower of the US Air Force. Rumsfeld placed a Marine General in charge of all these strategic conventional and nuclear bombers and missiles- for the first time in US history. This General Cartwright has created a force that stands on 12 hours notice to attack 10,000 plus targets with "smart" bombs in a single raid. This, and unreported Air Force and special force deployments in Iraq and the "stans", are the more important parts of the US build-up. They merely await the starting pistol.
Offensive? Unsuitable? : Report this comment ken_1
Comment No. 458
8-2-2007
The aircraft carrier "Ronald Reagan" is having a "biggest loser" competition as it heads for the Gulf. This does actually seem to apply to typical American obesity but it does reveal their irony deficiency.
Offensive? Unsuitable? : Report this comment justicequest2000
Comment No. 459
9-2-2007

Stop the Iran War (for Israel) before It Starts:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/02/07/stop-the-iran-war-before-it-starts-scroll-down-to-the-bold.php

http://nomorewarforisrael.blogspot.com

Offensive? Unsuitable? : Report this comment

A former consultant with Janes Defense Weekly (according to what he mentioned via email) sent the following as a possible consequence of a coming attack on Iran:

Ramifications of a coming war with Iran for Israel:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/01/13/ramifications-of-coming-attack-on-iran-for-israel.php


Donald Jones wrote:

What would Bush do if 250,000 Iranian troops joined with 60,000 Iraqi Shiite troops to attack the US forces in Iraq ? There is no way the USAF could deal with such an attack. Perhaps Bush should consult with Col. Custer about that. More and more army officers are coming out against any attack on Iran . They say it would be catastrophic. Because he is a psychopath I bet Bush doesn?t care. I can?t wait to see the outcome. It might cause the American sheeple to wake up.


Last edited by Alpha on Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:43 am; edited 2 times in total
Alpha
Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:42 am    Post subject: The White House/From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Ira

Vanity Fair

The White House
From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq


http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/whitehouse200703

The same neocon ideologues behind the Iraq war have been using the same tactics—alliances with shady exiles, dubious intelligence on W.M.D.—to push for the bombing of Iran. As President Bush ups the pressure on Tehran, is he planning to double his Middle East bet?
by Craig Unger March 2007 In the weeks leading up to George W. Bush's January 10 speech on the war in Iraq, there was a brief but heady moment when it seemed that the president might finally accept the failure of his Middle East policy and try something new. Rising anti-war sentiment had swept congressional Republicans out of power. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had been tossed overboard. And the Iraq Study Group (I.S.G.), chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, had put together a bipartisan report that offered a face-saving strategy to exit Iraq. Who better than Baker, the Bush family's longtime friend and consigliere, to talk some sense into the president?

By the time the president finished his speech from the White House library, however, all those hopes had vanished. It wasn't just that Bush was doubling down on an extravagantly costly bet by sending 21,500 more American troops to Iraq; there were also indications that he was upping the ante by an order of magnitude. The most conspicuous clue was a four-letter word that Bush uttered six times in the course of his speech: Iran.

His nuclear ambitions make Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) a threat. But attacking Iran—as former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) has urged—could be Bush's biggest blunder of all.
In a clear reference to the Islamic Republic and its sometime ally Syria, Bush vowed to "seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies." At about the same time his speech was taking place, U.S. troops stormed an Iranian liaison office in Erbil, a Kurdish-controlled city in northern Iraq, and arrested and detained five Iranians working there.

Already, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the war in Iraq. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people have been killed. Countless more are wounded or living as refugees. Launched with the intention of shoring up Israeli security and replacing rogue regimes in the Middle East with friendly, pro-Western allies, the war in Iraq has instead turned that country into a terrorist training ground. By eliminating Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led coalition has sparked a Sunni-Shiite civil war, which threatens to spread throughout the entire Middle East. And, far from creating a secular democracy, the war has empowered Shiite fundamentalists aligned with Iran. The most powerful of these, Muqtada al-Sadr, commands both an anti-American sectarian militia and the largest voting bloc in the Iraqi parliament.

"Everything the advocates of war said would happen hasn't happened," says the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, an influential conservative who backed the Iraq invasion. "And all the things the critics said would happen have happened. [The president's neoconservative advisers] are effectively saying, 'Invade Iran. Then everyone will see how smart we are.' But after you've lost x number of times at the roulette wheel, do you double-down?"

By now, the story of how neoconservatives hijacked American foreign policy is a familiar one. With Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld leading the way, neocons working out of the office of the vice president and the Department of Defense orchestrated a spectacular disinformation operation, asserting that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction posed a grave and immediate threat to the U.S. Veteran analysts who disagreed were circumvented. Dubious information from known fabricators was hyped. Forged documents showing phony yellowcake-uranium sales to Iraq were promoted.

What's less understood is that the same tactics have been in play with Iran. Once again, neocon ideologues have been flogging questionable intelligence about W.M.D. Once again, dubious Middle East exile groups are making the rounds in Washington—this time urging regime change in Syria and Iran. Once again, heroic new exile leaders are promising freedom.

Meanwhile, a series of recent moves by the military have lent credence to widespread reports that the U.S. is secretly preparing for a massive air attack against Iran. (No one is suggesting a ground invasion.) First came the deployment order of U.S. Navy ships to the Persian Gulf. Then came high-level personnel shifts signaling a new focus on naval and air operations rather than the ground combat that predominates in Iraq. In his January 10 speech, Bush announced that he was sending Patriot missiles to the Middle East to defend U.S. allies—presumably from Iran. And he pointedly asserted that Iran was "providing material support for attacks on American troops," a charge that could easily evolve into a casus belli.

"It is absolutely parallel," says Philip Giraldi, a former C.I.A. counterterrorism specialist. "They're using the same dance steps—demonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux."

The neoconservatives have had Iran in their sights for more than a decade. On July 8, 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's newly elected prime minister and the leader of its right-wing Likud Party, paid a visit to the neoconservative luminary Richard Perle in Washington, D.C. The subject of their meeting was a policy paper that Perle and other analysts had written for an Israeli-American think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic Political Studies. Titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," the paper contained the kernel of a breathtakingly radical vision for a new Middle East. By waging wars against Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, the paper asserted, Israel and the U.S. could stabilize the region. Later, the neoconservatives argued that this policy could democratize the Middle East.

"It was the beginning of thought," says Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-American policy expert, who co-signed the paper with her husband, David Wurmser, now a top Middle East adviser to Dick Cheney. Other signers included Perle and Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy during George W. Bush's first term. "It was the seeds of a new vision."

Netanyahu certainly seemed to think so. Two days after meeting with Perle, the prime minister addressed a joint session of Congress with a speech that borrowed from "A Clean Break." He called for the "democratization" of terrorist states in the Middle East and warned that peaceful means might not be sufficient. War might be unavoidable.

Netanyahu also made one significant addition to "A Clean Break." The paper's authors were concerned primarily with Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but Netanyahu saw a greater threat elsewhere. "The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran," he said.

Ten years later, "A Clean Break" looks like nothing less than a playbook for U.S.-Israeli foreign policy during the Bush-Cheney era. Many of the initiatives outlined in the paper have been implemented—removing Saddam from power, setting aside the "land for peace" formula to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon—all with disastrous results.

Nevertheless, neoconservatives still advocate continuing on the path Netanyahu staked out in his speech and taking the fight to Iran. As they see it, the Iraqi debacle is not the product of their failed policies. Rather, it is the result of America's failure to think big. "It's a mess, isn't it?" says Meyrav Wurmser, who now serves as director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute. "My argument has always been that this war is senseless if you don't give it a regional context."

She isn't alone. One neocon after another has made the same plea: Iraq was the beginning, not the end. Writing in The Weekly Standard last spring, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, made the neocon case for bombing Iran's nuclear sites. Brushing away criticism that a pre-emptive attack would cause anti-Americanism within Iran, Gerecht asserted that it "would actually accelerate internal debate" in a way that would be "painful for the ruling clergy." As for imperiling the U.S. mission in Iraq, Gerecht argued that Iran "can't really hurt us there." Ultimately, he concluded, "we may have to fight a war—perhaps sooner rather than later—to stop such evil men from obtaining the worst weapons we know."

More recently, Netanyahu himself, who may yet return to power in Israel, went as far as to frame the issue in terms of the Holocaust. "Iran is Germany, and it's 1938," he said during a CNN interview in November. "Except that this Nazi regime that is in Iran … wants to dominate the world, annihilate the Jews, but also annihilate America."

Like the campaign to overthrow Saddam, the crusade for regime change in Iran got under way in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. One of the first shots came in The Wall Street Journal in November 2001, when Eliot Cohen, a member of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), declared, "The overthrow of the first theocratic revolutionary Muslim state [Iran] and its replacement by a moderate or secular government … would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of bin Laden."

Then, as now, the U.S. had no official diplomatic communications with Iran, but a series of back-channel meetings from 2001 to 2003 put unofficial policy initiatives into action. The man who initiated these meetings was Michael Ledeen, an Iran specialist, neocon firebrand, and Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. During the Iran-contra investigations of the late 80s, Ledeen won notoriety for having introduced President Ronald Reagan's chief intriguer, Oliver North, to Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer and con man.

Ghorbanifar helped set up the first meetings, in Rome in December 2001. Among those attending were Harold Rhode, a protégé of Ledeen's, and Larry Franklin, of the Office of Special Plans, the Pentagon bureau that manipulated pre-war intelligence on Iraq. (Franklin has since pleaded guilty to passing secrets to Israel and has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.) Ghorbanifar reportedly arranged an additional meeting in Rome in June 2002. This one was attended by a high-level U.S. official and dissidents from Egypt and Iraq. Then, in June 2003, just three months after the invasion of Iraq, Franklin and Rhode met secretly with Ghorbanifar in Paris at yet another gathering that was not approved by the Pentagon.

According to Ledeen, Ghorbanifar and his sources produced valuable information at the 2001 meetings about Iranian plans for attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But it is also likely that there was some discussion of destabilizing Iran. As the Washington Monthly reported, the meetings raised the possibility "that a rogue faction at the Pentagon was trying to work outside normal U.S. foreign policy channels to advance a 'regime-change' agenda."

Also in attendance at the first meetings, according to administration sources who spoke to Warren P. Strobel, of Knight Ridder Newspapers, were representatives of the Mujahideen e-Khalq, or MEK, an urban-guerrilla group that practiced a brand of revolutionary Marxism heavily influenced by Mao Zedong and Che Guevara.

Having expertly exploited phony intelligence promoted by the Iraqi National Congress (I.N.C.), a dubious exile group run by the convicted embezzler Ahmad Chalabi, the neocons were now pursuing an alliance with an even shadier collection of exiles. According to a 2003 report by the State Department, "During the 1970s, the MEK killed US military personnel and US civilians working on defense projects in Tehran.… The MEK detonated bombs in the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Premier's office, killing some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials.… In 1991, it assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north." In other words, the MEK was a terrorist group—one that took its orders from Saddam Hussein.

To hear some neocons tell it, though, the MEK militants weren't terrorists—they were America's best hope in Iran. In January 2004, Richard Perle was the guest speaker at a fundraiser sponsored by the MEK, although he later claimed to have been unaware of the connection. And in a speech before the National Press Club in late 2005, Raymond Tanter, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recommended that the Bush administration use the MEK and its political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (N.C.R.I.), as an insurgent militia against Iran. "The National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq are not only the best source for intelligence on Iran's potential violations of the nonproliferation regime. The NCRI and MEK are also a possible ally of the West in bringing about regime change in Tehran," he said.

Tanter went as far as to suggest that the U.S. consider using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. "One military option is the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, which may have the capability to destroy hardened deeply buried targets. That is, bunker-busting bombs could destroy tunnels and other underground facilities." He granted that the Non-Proliferation Treaty bans the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, such as Iran, but added that "the United States has sold Israel bunker-busting bombs, which keeps the military option on the table." In other words, the U.S. can't nuke Iran, but Israel, which never signed the treaty and maintains an unacknowledged nuclear arsenal, can.

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, when the U.S. mission there seemed accomplished or at least accomplishable, Iran came to fear that it would be next in the crosshairs. To stave off that possibility, Iran's leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, began to assemble a negotiating package. Suddenly, everything was on the table—Iran's nuclear program, policy toward Israel, support of Hamas and Hezbollah, and control over al-Qaeda operatives captured since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan.

This comprehensive proposal, which diplomats took to calling "the grand bargain," was sent to Washington on May 2, 2003, just before a meeting in Geneva between Iran's U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, and neocon Zalmay Khalilzad, then a senior director at the National Security Council. (Khalilzad went on to become the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and was recently nominated to be America's envoy to the U.N.) According to a report by Gareth Porter in The American Prospect, Iran offered to take "decisive action against any terrorists (above all, al-Qaeda) in Iranian territory." In exchange, Iran wanted the U.S. to pursue "anti-Iranian terrorists"—i.e., the MEK. Specifically, Iran offered to share the names of senior al-Qaeda operatives in its custody in return for the names of MEK cadres captured by the U.S. in Iraq.

Well aware that the U.S. was concerned about its nuclear program, Iran proclaimed its right to "full access to peaceful nuclear technology," but offered to submit to much stricter inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.). On the subject of Israel, Iran offered to join with moderate Arab regimes such as Egypt and Jordan in accepting the 2002 Arab League Beirut declaration calling for peace with Israel in return for Israel's withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The negotiating package also included proposals to normalize Hezbollah into a mere "political organization within Lebanon," to bring about a "stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory," and to apply "pressure on these organizations to stop violent actions against civilians within borders of 1967."

To be sure, Iran's proposal was only a first step. There were countless unanswered questions, and many reasons not to trust the Islamic Republic. Given the initiative's historic scope, however, it was somewhat surprising when the Bush administration simply declined to respond. There was not even an interagency meeting to discuss it. "The State Department knew it had no chance at the interagency level of arguing the case for it successfully," former N.S.C. staffer Flynt Leverett told The American Prospect. "They weren't going to waste [Colin] Powell's rapidly diminishing capital on something that unlikely."

Iran had sent the proposal through an intermediary, Tim Guldimann, the Swiss ambassador to the U.S. A few days later, Leverett said, the White House had the State Department send Guldimann a message reprimanding him for exceeding his diplomatic mandate. "We're not interested in any grand bargain," said Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who went on to become interim ambassador to the U.N. until his resignation last December.

If the MEK has been cast as the Iranian counterpart to the I.N.C., there are more than enough Iranian and Syrian Ahmad Chalabis to go around. Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah, has been shopped around Washington as a prospective leader of Iran. And Farid Ghadry, a Syrian exile in Virginia who founded the Reform Party of Syria, is the neocon favorite to rule Syria. Ghadry has an unusual résumé for a Syrian—he's a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the right-wing pro-Israel lobbying group—and he has endured so many comparisons to the disgraced leader of the I.N.C. that he once sent out a mass e-mail headlined, "I am not Ahmad Chalabi."

Nevertheless, according to a report in The American Prospect, Meyrav Wurmser last year introduced Ghadry to key administration figures, including the vice president's daughter Elizabeth Cheney, who—as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and coordinator for broader Middle East and North Africa initiatives—plays a key role in the Bush administration's policy in the region. According to the Financial Times, Elizabeth Cheney, who has been on maternity leave since May, had supervised the State Department's Iran-Syria Operations Group, created last spring to plot a strategy to democratize those two "rogue" states. One of her responsibilities was to oversee a projected $85 million program to produce anti-Iran propaganda and support dissidents.

By the end of 2002, MEK operatives had provided the administration with intelligence asserting that Iran had built a secret uranium-enrichment site. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, David Albright, a former I.A.E.A. weapons inspector in Iraq, said that the data provided by the MEK was better than that provided by the I.N.C. But he added that it was possible Iran was enriching the uranium for energy purposes, and cautioned that Saddam's former mercenaries could not be relied upon to provide objective intelligence about Iran's W.M.D. "We should be very suspicious about what our leaders or the exile groups say about Iran's nuclear capacity," Albright said. "There's a drumbeat of allegations, but there's not a whole lot of solid information. It may be that Iran has not made the decision to build nuclear weapons."

The MEK wasn't the administration's only dubious source of nuclear intelligence. In July 2005, House intelligence committee chairman Peter Hoekstra (Republican, Michigan) and committee member Curt Weldon (Republican, Pennsylvania) met secretly in Paris with an Iranian exile known as "Ali." Weldon had just published a book called Countdown to Terror, alleging that the C.I.A. was ignoring intelligence about Iranian-sponsored terror plots against the U.S., and Ali had been one of his main sources.

But according to the C.I.A.'s former Paris station chief Bill Murray, Ali, whose real name is Fereidoun Mahdavi, fabricated much of the information. "Mahdavi works for Ghorbanifar," Murray told Laura Rozen of The American Prospect. "The two are inseparable. Ghorbanifar put Mahdavi out to meet with Weldon."

More than a year later, in August 2006, Peter Hoekstra released a House-intelligence-committee report titled "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." Written by Frederick Fleitz, former special assistant to John Bolton, the report asserted that the C.I.A. lacked "the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments" on Tehran's nuclear program.

The House report received widespread national publicity, but critics were quick to point out its errors. Gary Sick, senior research scholar at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and an Iran specialist with the N.S.C. under Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Carter, says the report overstates both the number and range of Iran's missiles and neglects to mention that the I.A.E.A. found no evidence of weapons production or activity. "Some people will recall that the IAEA inspectors, in their caution, were closer to the truth about Iraqi WMD than, say the Vice President's office," Sick remarked.

"This is like pre-war Iraq all over again," David Albright said in The Washington Post. "You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that's cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors."

Curt Weldon's 20-year career in Congress came to an end on November 7, 2006, when he lost his seat to Democrat Joe Sestak, a navy vice admiral who'd served in Iraq. Two weeks later, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that a classified assessment by the C.I.A. had found no conclusive evidence as yet that Iran had a secret nuclear-weapons program.

To Israel, however, it didn't matter whether a secret weapons program existed. For a state as antagonistic as Iran even to know how to make nuclear weapons was unacceptable. Long before the Iraq invasion, Israeli officials had told the Bush administration that Iran was a far greater threat than Iraq. "If you look at President Bush's 'axis of evil' list, all of us said North Korea and Iran are more urgent," says former Mossad director of intelligence Uzi Arad, who served as Netanyahu's foreign-policy adviser. "Iraq was already semi-controlled because there were sanctions. It was outlawed. Sometimes the answer [from the neocons] was 'Let's do first things first. Once we do Iraq, we'll have a military presence in Iraq, which would enable us to handle the Iranians from closer quarters, would give us more leverage.'"

Instead, the Americans got bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire, and Iran elected a frightening new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2005. His anti-Israel tirades and aggressive pursuit of nuclear technology led Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to say that Iran threatened not just Israel but the entire world. Outside the administration, neocon ideologues responded with bolder calls for military action against Iran. In The Weekly Standard, Gerecht threw down the gauntlet: "If the ruling clerical elite wants a head-on collision with a determined superpower, then that's their choice." (In January, Iran's parliament responded to new U.N. economic sanctions with a rebuke of Ahmadinejad that raised doubts about his political future.)

But just as the neocons put Iran on the front burner, opposition to the Iraq war began to mount within the U.S. As the 2006 midterm elections approached, one Republican after another began to back away from Bush's war. That March, former secretary of state James Baker and Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, joined forces to found the Iraq Study Group and search for an exit strategy.

Baker's realpolitik is anathema to neocons, but it is worth remembering that Bush, despite pursuing a neoconservative agenda in Iraq, is not a dyed-in-the-wool member of their group. "The president is a true believer in the policies the administration has been engaged in," says one former N.S.C. staffer. "When it is applied to the policies regarding the Palestinians, Hamas, or Iran, there is a common thread. It is not pure neoconservatism, nor is it the pragmatic realism we saw under Bush One."

Bush showed his willingness to depart from the neocon line a year ago, when he received an unusual proposition from Israeli officials together with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud "Abu Mazen" Abbas, and a top administration neoconservative, Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams. According to a Middle East expert, the Israelis and Abbas had determined that Hamas was positioned to fare strongly in the upcoming Palestinian elections, so they came to the administration with a plan to postpone them. "The Israelis and the Palestinians together had worked out a way to do it," says the expert. "The Israelis were going to say that Hamas candidates could not run in Jerusalem, which was under Israeli jurisdiction, because they did not recognize Israel's right to exist. And Abu Mazen was going to say if they can't run in Jerusalem, then we can't have an election now, [because] it wouldn't be fair to Hamas. It was all worked out."

There was just one problem: Bush, whose enthusiasm for spreading democracy had led him to actively lobby for the elections, didn't want to go along. "The president said no," the expert says. "He said elections will be good for Hamas. They would have to be responsible. They expected Hamas to do well, but not get a majority. Now they've become the government and it's a big mess." If anything, Bush had shown himself to be less pragmatic than his neocon advisers.

Reached via e-mail, a spokesperson for the National Security Council responded, "When the elections were rescheduled for January 2006, after earlier being postponed by the [Palestinian Authority], the United States took the position that they should be held and not postponed yet again We were advised during the campaign by some of our Palestinian interlocutors that Hamas would win. We do not believe in cancelling elections because we may not like the outcome."

Martin Indyk, the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, at the Brookings Institution, and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, says Bush's decision reflects a mistaken belief that "elections are the most important way to promote democracy." Indyk explains, "It would have been better to build up the rule of law, establish independent judiciaries, promote freedom of religion and the press, and insist on the principle of a monopoly of force in the hands of the elected government. Ignoring that last principle in favor of elections was Bush's biggest mistake. As a result, in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, parties with militias have moved into the government. Hamas, Muqtada al-Sadr, and Hezbollah have taken advantage of elections to promote their policies, which are antithetical to democracy."

Baker's entry onto the scene didn't just raise new questions about Bush's openness to pragmatic solutions; it also introduced an Oedipal element into the drama. Baker and Bush's father, after all, were best friends. Tennis partners. More than 40 years earlier, when George W. was a 16-year-old student at Andover, Baker had given him a summer job as a messenger at Baker Botts, his Houston law firm. Now, along with Brent Scowcroft, the elder Bush's former national-security adviser, Baker was leading a coterie of multilateralists and realists who found themselves aghast at the radical direction the younger Bush was taking American foreign policy, and desperate to reverse it.

In July 2006, after Israel's disastrous attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon, Scowcroft offered the administration some foreign-policy advice on the opinion page of The Washington Post, arguing that the crisis in Lebanon provided a "historic opportunity" to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Resolving that conflict, Scowcroft argued, was crucial to stabilizing the region—including Iraq.

According to an article in Salon by Sidney Blumenthal, who was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, Scowcroft, with the assent of Baker and the elder Bush, sought and found support for this notion from the rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Scowcroft's former protégé, seemed receptive, so he asked her to help open the president's mind to the forthcoming I.S.G. report.

As the November congressional elections approached, there were a number of indications that foreign-policy realists such as Scowcroft were gaining favor. Key neoconservative architects of the war in Iraq—Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle—were no longer part of the Bush foreign-policy team, and the State Department, all but inoperative during the run-up to the Iraq war, was showing new signs of life. "My sense is that the Iran portfolio has been shifted to State," Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran specialist for the nonprofit International Crisis Group, told me last fall. "Secretary Rice and her deputies are more influential than the vice president and the secretary of defense. It's an about-face in U.S. policy after two decades of not talking to Iran."

Meanwhile, more than a month before its report was due to be released, sources close to the Iraq Study Group had begun talking to the press, and word quickly leaked out that its recommendations would be largely aimed at achieving stability rather than democracy in Iraq. When it came to Iran, a source told me, the I.S.G. might recommend "comprehensive and unconditional talks with the regime" in Tehran—something Bush had already ruled out.

On November 7, the Democrats won both houses of Congress. The next day, Rumsfeld resigned. Bush vowed to "find common ground" with the Democrats. At last, the moderates seemed to have prevailed over the neocons.

On December 6, the Iraq Study Group finally released its report, "The Way Forward—A New Approach." Bipartisan reports tend to be bland affairs, but this one was different. Describing the situation in Iraq as "grave and deteriorating," the I.S.G. report did not shy away from pointing out that the new Iraqi Army, the police force, and even Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki often showed greater loyalty to their ethnic identities than to the ideal of a nonsectarian, democratic Iraq. Ultimately, the report concluded that sending more American soldiers to Iraq would not resolve what were fundamentally political problems. The subtext was clear: America's policies in Iraq had failed. It was time for the administration to cut its losses. A Gallup poll from December 12 showed that, among people who had an opinion on the subject, five out of six supported implementing the report's recommendations.

The only American whose opinion mattered, however, was not impressed. Bush, Salon reported, slammed the I.S.G. study as "a flaming turd." If Rice even delivered Scowcroft's message, it had fallen on deaf ears.

Just eight days later, on December 14, Bush found a study that was more to his liking. Not surprisingly, it came from the American Enterprise Institute, the intellectual stronghold of neoconservatism. The author, Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the A.E.I., is the son of Donald Kagan and the brother of Robert Kagan, who signed PNAC's famous 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to overthrow Saddam Hussein. According to Kagan, the project began in late September or early October at the instigation of his boss, Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at A.E.I. She decided "it would be helpful to do a realistic evaluation of what would be required to secure Baghdad," Kagan told Vanity Fair.

The project culminated in a four-day planning exercise in early December, Kagan said, that just happened to coincide with the release of the Iraq Study Group report. But he rejected the notion that his study had been initiated by the White House as an alternative to the bipartisan assessment. "I'm aware of some of the rumors," Kagan said. "This was not designed to be an anti-I.S.G. report.… Any conspiracy theories beyond that are nonsense.

"There was no contact with the Bush administration. We put this together on our own I did not have any contact with the vice president's office prior to … well, I don't want to say that. I have had periodic contact with the vice president's office, but I can't tell you the dates. If you are barking up the story that the V.P. put this together, that is not true."

Kagan's report was sharply at odds with the consensus forged by the top brass in Iraq. Iraq commander General George Casey and General John Abizaid, the head of Central Command (CentCom), had argued that sending additional troops to Iraq would be counterproductive. (Later they both reversed course.) Kagan's study, on the contrary, suggested that with a massive surge of new troops America could finally succeed. It cites the military's new counter-insurgency manual, which suggests that a nation can be secured with a force of one soldier for every 40 to 50 inhabitants. That calculus would call for stationing more than 150,000 troops in Baghdad alone (there are currently 17,000 there), far more than is politically feasible today. But Kagan skirts this issue by asserting that "it is neither necessary nor wise to try to clear and hold the entire city all at once." Focusing instead on certain areas of Baghdad, he concludes that the deployment of 20,000 additional troops would be enough to pacify significant sections of the city. Even the title of Kagan's report must have been more appealing to Bush: "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq." Soon, it would be announced that Casey and Abizaid were being replaced with more amenable officers: Lieutenant General David Petraeus and Admiral William J. Fallon, respectively. The escalation was on.

In one sense, the neoconservative hawks—including the authors of "A Clean Break"—have been kept aloft by their failures. The strategic fiasco created by the Iraq war has actually increased the danger posed by Iran to Israel—and with it the likelihood of armed conflict. "[Bush's wars] have put Israel in the worst strategic and operational situation she's been in since 1948," says retired colonel Larry Wilkerson, who was Colin Powell's chief of staff in the State Department. "If you take down Iraq, you eliminate Iran's No. 1 enemy. And, oh, by the way, if you eliminate the Taliban, they might reasonably be assumed to be Iran's No. 2 enemy."

"Nobody thought going into this war that these guys would screw it up so badly, that Iraq would be taken out of the balance of power, that it would implode, and that Iran would become dominant," says Martin Indyk.

As a result, many Israelis believe that diplomacy is doomed and that Iran will have to be dealt with sooner or later. "Attacking Iraq when it had no W.M.D. may have been the wrong step," says Uzi Arad, the former Mossad intelligence chief. "But then to ignore Iran would compound the disaster. Israel will be left alone, and American interests will be affected catastrophically."

Even critics of the White House say that Iran's nuclear program poses a grave threat to Israel. "They correctly fear the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel," says retired colonel W. Patrick Lang, who served as an officer for the Middle East, South Asia, and terrorism at the Defense Intelligence Agency. "They are not being silly about this. It really is a threat to Israel."

But waging war against Iran could be the most catastrophic choice of all. It is widely believed that Iran would respond to an attack by blockading the Strait of Hormuz, a 20-mile-wide narrows in the eastern part of the Persian Gulf through which about 40 percent of the world's oil exports are transported. Oil analysts say a blockade could propel the price of oil to $125 a barrel, sending the world economy into a tailspin. There could be vast international oil wars. Iran could act on its fierce rhetoric against Israel.

America's 130,000 soldiers in Iraq would also become highly vulnerable in the event of an attack on Iran. "Our troops in Iraq are supplied with food, fuel, and ammunition by truck convoys from a supply base in Kuwait," says Lang. "Most of that goes over roads that pass through the Shiite-dominated South of Iraq. The Iranians could cut those supply lines just like that—the trucks are easy to shoot at with R.P.G.'s," or rocket-propelled grenades.

In hopes of avoiding that, the Iraq Study Group advised Bush to open direct talks with Iran. Members of both parties in Congress have publicly given similar advice, as have former secretary of state Colin Powell and Robert Gates, the new secretary of defense. Still, it would be naïve to think that either a wall of opposition or the possibility of dire consequences would necessarily deter this president. Even before his January 10 speech, many inside the military had concluded that the decision to bomb Iran has already been made. "Bush's 'redline' for going to war is Iran having the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons—which is probably what they already have now," says Sam Gardiner, a retired air-force colonel who specializes in staging war games on the Middle East. "The president first said [that was his redline] in December 2005, and he has repeated it four times since then."

In April, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that U.S. troops were already on the ground in Iran, negotiating alliances with the Azerbaijanis in the North, the Kurds in the Northeast, and the Baluchis in the Southeast. In September, Time reported that a U.S. campaign to wipe out Iran's nuclear program could entail bombing up to 1,500 targets. More recently, Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, asserted in the Baltimore Chronicle that Bush "will attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, because it is the only way the neocons believe they can rescue their goal of U.S. (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East." Adds former C.I.A. officer Philip Giraldi, "I've heard from sources at the Pentagon that their impression is that the White House has made a decision that war is going to happen."

According to Sam Gardiner, the most telling sign that a decision to bomb has already been made was the October deployment order of minesweepers to the Persian Gulf, presumably to counter any attempt by Iran to blockade the Strait of Hormuz. "These have to be towed to the Gulf," Gardiner explains. "They are really small ships, the size of cabin cruisers, made of fiberglass and wood. And towing them to the Gulf can take three to four weeks."

Another serious development is the growing role of the U.S. Strategic Command (StratCom), which oversees nuclear weapons, missile defense, and protection against weapons of mass destruction. Bush has directed StratCom to draw up plans for a massive strike against Iran, at a time when CentCom has had its hands full overseeing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Shifting to StratCom indicates that they are talking about a really punishing air-force and naval air attack [on Iran]," says Lang.

Moreover, he continues, Bush can count on the military to carry out such a mission even without congressional authorization. "If they write a plan like that and the president issues an execute order, the forces will execute it. He's got the power to do that as commander-in-chief. We set that up during the Cold War. It may, after the fact, be considered illegal, or an impeachable offense, but if he orders them to do it, they will do it."

Lang also notes that the recent appointment of a naval officer, Admiral William Fallon, to the top post at CentCom may be another indication that Bush intends to bomb Iran. "It makes very little sense that a person with this background should be appointed to be theater commander in a theater in which two essentially 'ground' wars are being fought, unless it is intended to conduct yet another war which will be different in character," he wrote in his blog. "The employment of Admiral Fallon suggests that they are thinking about something that is not a ground campaign."

Lang predicts that tensions will escalate once the administration grasps the truth about Prime Minister Maliki. "They want him to be George Washington, to bind together the new country of Iraq," says Lang. "And he's not that. He is a Shia, a factional political leader, whose goal is to solidify the position of Shia Arabs in Iraq. That's his goal. So he won't let them do anything effective against [Muqtada al-Sadr's] Mahdi army." Recently, a complicated cat-and-mouse game has begun, with Maliki's forces arresting hundreds of Mahdi militiamen, including a key aide to Muqtada al-Sadr. But there are many unanswered questions about the operations, which could amount to little more than a short-term effort to appease the U.S.

Gary Sick is slightly more optimistic that the Bush administration's Iran strategy entails more than brute force. "What has happened is that the United States, in installing a Shiite government in Iraq, has really upset the balance of power [in the Middle East]," Sick says. "Along with our Sunni allies—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt—[the administration is] terribly concerned about Iran emerging as the new colossus. Having created this problem, the U.S. is now in effect using it as a means of uniting forces who are sympathetic [to us]."

In order to do that, Sick says, the administration must reassure America's allies that it is serious about protecting them if the conflict spreads throughout the region—drawing in Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, which would resist any attempt by the Kurds to create an independent state. "That means providing Patriot missiles, if Iran goes after the Saudi oil ports," he says. "One of the prices we will have to pay is a more active role in the Arab-Israeli dispute. Then there is fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon. The president has signed a covert-action finding that allows the C.I.A. to confront and counter Hezbollah in Lebanon. So this is a very broad strategy. It has a clear enemy and an appeal to Saudis, to Israelis, and has a potential of putting together a fairly significant coalition."

For all that, Sick acknowledges, this policy carries a significant risk of provoking war with Iran: "Basically, this is a signal to Maliki that we are not going to tolerate Shiite cooperation with Iran. This could lead to the ultimate break with Maliki. But once you start sending these signals, you end up in a corner and you can't get out of it."

Whatever the administration's master plan may be, parts of it are already under way. In mid-January, the U.S. sent a second aircraft-carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf. According to Gardiner, by the end of February the United States will have enough forces in place to mount an assault on Iran. That, in the words of former national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, would be "an act of political folly" so severe that "the era of American preponderance could come to a premature end."

The Bush White House has already built the fire. Whether it will light the match remains to be seen.

Craig Unger is currently working on a book based on his article "American Rapture," which appeared in the December 2005 issue.

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Esteemed intelligence author/writer James Bamford discusses the 'A Clean Break'/war for Israel agenda of the JINSA/PNAC Israel first Neocons Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser from pages 261-269/321 of his 'A Pretext for War' book:


http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2005/02/11/a-clean-break-from-james-bamford-s-a-pretext-for-war.php

Pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC and similar) Pushing US to attack Iran next like it did with Iraq:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/03/17/u-s-middle-east-policy-motivated-by-pro-israel-lobby.php

Iran: The Next War (for Israel):

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/07/28/iran-the-next-war-for-israel.php


Stop the Iran War (for Israel) Before It Starts

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2007/02/07/stop-the-iran-war-before-it-starts-scroll-down-to-the-bold.php


Last edited by Alpha on Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
Alpha
Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject:

IAEA halts aid on projects with Tehran (nuclear stand off along with what Gates conveys below will be used to attack Iran by April more than likely)

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 7 minutes ago

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Friday suspended nearly half of the technical aid it now provides Iran, in line with sanctions imposed on the country for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
As IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei issued the report to his agency's 35-nation board, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator abruptly canceled meetings both with ElBaradei in Vienna and with senior European leaders in Munich, on the sidelines of a security conference in the German city.
Organizers of the Munich conference said negotiator Ali Larijani canceled because of an unspecified illness, whereas IAEA officials said they were told he was not coming for "technical reasons."
"The official explanation is that he got sick," said Horst Teltschik, the Munich conference organizer.
Larijani's meetings with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Javier Solana, the chief foreign policy envoy for the European Union would have been the first with senior Western officials since negotiations with Solana collapsed last year over Tehran's refusal to suspend enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear arms.
The Vienna-based IAEA already suspended aid to Iran in five instances last month in line with Security Council sanctions calling for an end to assistance for programs that could be misused to make atomic weapons. Diplomats emphasized that the freeze was temporary and subject to review and approval by the 35-nation board of the IAEA next month.
On Friday, the agency fully or partially suspended another 18 projects that it deemed could be misused. Those too were subject to review and approval by the board.
Iran gets IAEA technical aid for 15 projects and 40 more that involve other countries. The suspensions were across the board but in the case of projects involving other countries affected only Iran.
A diplomat familiar with the issue said the United States — along with key allies — had been looking to have up to half of the projects involving only Iran canceled, restricted or more closely monitored.
A U.S. official said Washington's position on what projects should be affected was "very similar" to that of the European powers, Britain, France and Germany.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in return for divulging confidential information
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany all want Iran to suspend its enrichment program and have acted as a group in trying to engage Tehran on the issue. But their approaches and priorities have differed over the past year.
Russian and Chinese reluctance to impose harsh sanctions on Tehran — as initially demanded by Washington — have created the greatest pressures. Both nations share economic and strategic interests with Iran.
Differences over how severely to punish Tehran for its refusal to suspend enrichment led to months of disputes before agreement was reached in December on a Security Council resolution imposing limited sanctions that fell short of the harsher measures sought by the Americans.
The sanctions include a review of technical aid to Iran — programs meant to bolster the peaceful use of nuclear energy in medicine, agriculture or power generation.

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Gates: U.S. has evidence of Iran helping insurgents

Story Highlights
• Serial numbers, markings on projectile fragments point to Iran, Gates says
• New U.S. defense secretary attending first NATO meeting
• Gates repeats assertion that U.S. has no intention of attacking Iran

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -- Serial numbers and markings on explosives used in Iraq provide "pretty good" evidence that Iran is providing either weapons or technology for militants there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted Friday.
Offering some of the first public details of evidence the military has collected, Gates said, "I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found," that point to Iran.
At the same time, however, he said he was somewhat surprised that recent raids by coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq swept up some Iranians.
Just last week, Gates said that U.S. military officers in Baghdad were planning to brief reporters on what is known about Iranian involvement in Iraq but that he and other senior administration officials had intervened to delay the briefing in order to assure that the information provided was accurate.
Speaking to reporters at a defense ministers conference here, Gates said Friday, "I don't think there was surprise that the Iranians were actually involved, I think there was surprise we actually picked up some."
He and other U.S. officials have said for some time that Iranians, and possibly the government of Iran, have been providing weapons technology, and possibly some explosives to Iraqi insurgents.
The improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been a leading killer of U.S. forces in Iraq, where more than 3,000 servicemen and women have died in the nearly four-year-old war.
Gates: Iranian-involved IEDs 'extremely lethal'
Gates, who is attending his first NATO defense ministers meeting, said Iran is "very much involved in providing either the technology or the weapons themselves for these explosively formed projectiles. Now they don't represent a big percentage of the IED attacks but they're extremely lethal."
Gates said the raids combined with the movement of an additional U.S. aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf have created a stir, but said the Bush administration has no intention of attacking Iran.
Meanwhile, the defense secretary has been getting a lukewarm response here to his plea for allies to send more troops and aid for a spring offensive in Afghanistan.
Gates said the U.S. made no additional commitments for more troops of its own. He recently extended the tour of a brigade in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has 27,000 troops -- the most since the war began in 2001.
U.S. and NATO military leaders in recent months have repeatedly called on alliance members to send reinforcements and lift restrictions on where their troops can serve. On Thursday, Gates secured smaller offers from some nations, but he met resistance from key allies.
Other countries question sending more troops
France and Germany are questioning the wisdom of sending more soldiers, while Spain, Italy and Turkey have also been wary of providing more troops.
"When the Russians were in Afghanistan, they had 100,000 soldiers there and they did not win," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters.
The meeting in southern Spain did produce some offers, however.
Lithuania, which already has 130 troops in Afghanistan, offered to send an unspecified number of special forces, helping to fill a key shortfall.
Germany says it will provide six Tornado reconnaissance jets but not significantly augment its 3,000 troops in the north. The Italian government said it would send a much-needed transport plane and some unmanned surveillance aircraft, but it is struggling to secure parliamentary backing for the finances needed to maintain a contingent of 1,950.
Spain also said it would send four unmanned planes and more instructors to help the Afghan army.
Gates said that after nearly five years at war with the Taliban, this spring will be critical because it could give the people of the country more hope.
"Each spring for the last several years, the Taliban have been more aggressive and there has been an increasing level of violence," he said. "There is a consensus on the part of the ministers that it is important that this year we knock the Taliban back."
The end of winter has traditionally brought an upsurge in attacks by Taliban militants in Afghanistan. U.S. commanders have already predicted that this spring will be even more violent than last year, when a record number of attacks included nearly 140 suicide bombings.
About 15,000 of the American troops are serving in the NATO-led force, which now totals about 36,000, while the other 12,000 are special operations forces or are training Afghan troops.
Alpha
Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:24 pm    Post subject:

Israel's War with Iran
Unabridged version


By James Petras

Global Research, January 23, 2006
peacepalestine and uruknet.info



Israel’s War with Iran: The Coming Mid East Conflagration -or- Israel Bombs Iran: The US Suffers the Consequences



Israel’s political and military leadership have repeatedly and openly declared their preparation to militarily attack Iran in the immediate future. Their influential supporters in the US have made Israel’s war policy the number one priority in their efforts to secure Presidential and Congressional backing. The arguments put forth by the Israeli government and echoed by their followers in the US regarding Iran’s nuclear threat are without substance or fact and have aroused opposition and misgivings throughout the world, among European governments, international agencies, among most US military leaders and the public, the world oil industry and even among sectors of the Bush Administration.

An Israeli air and commando attack on Iran will have catastrophic military consequences for US forces and severe loss of human life in Iraq, most likely ignite political and military violence against pro-US Arab-Muslim regimes, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, perhaps leading to their overthrow.

Without a doubt Israeli war preparations are the greatest immediate threat to world peace and political stability.

Israel’s War Preparations

Never has an imminent war been so loudly and publicly advertised as Israel’s forthcoming military attack against Iran. When the Israeli Military Chief of Staff, Daniel Halutz, was asked how far Israel was ready to go to stop Iran’s nuclear energy program, he said "Two thousand kilometers" – the distance of an air assault (Financial Times (FT) Dec 12, 2005). More specifically Israeli military sources reveal that Israel’s current and probably next Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Israel’s armed forces to prepare for air strikes on uranium enrichment sites in Iran (Times (London), Dec 11, 2005). According to the London Times the order to prepare for attack went through the Israeli defense ministry to the Chief of Staff. During the first week in December, "…sources inside the special forces command confirmed that 'G’ readiness – the highest state – for an operation was announced" (Times, Dec. 11, 2005).

On December 9, Israeli Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz, affirmed that in view of Teheran’s nuclear plans, Tel Aviv should "not count on diplomatic negotiations but prepare other solutions." (La Jornada, Dec. 10, 2005) In early December, Ahron Zoevi Farkash, the Israeli military intelligence chief told the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that "if by the end of March, the international community is unable to refer the Iranian issue to the United Nations Security Council, then we can say that the international effort has run its course" (Times, Dec. 11, 2005).

In plain Hebrew, if international diplomatic negotiations fail to comply with Israel’s timetable, Israel will unilaterally, militarily attack Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party and candidate for Prime Minister stated that if Sharon did not act against Iran, "then when I form the new Israeli government (after the March 2006 elections) we’ll do what we did in the past against Saddam’s reactor." (Times Dec 11, 2005). In June 1981 Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. Even the pro-Labor newspaper, Haaretz, while disagreeing with the time and place of Netanyahu’s pronouncements, agreed with its substance. Haaretz criticized "(those who) publicly recommend an Israeli military option…" because it "presents Israel as pushing (via powerful pro-Israel organizations in the US) the United States into a major war." However, Haaretz adds… "Israel must go about making its preparations quietly and securely – not at election rallies." (Haaretz, Dec 6, 2005) Haaretz’s position, like that of the Labor Party, is that Israel not advocate war against Iran before multi-lateral negotiations are over and the International Atomic Energy Agency makes a decision.

In other words, the Israeli "debate" among the elite is not over whether to go to war but over the place to discuss war plans and the timing to launch war. Implicitly Haaretz recognizes the role played by pro-Israeli organizations in "pushing the US into the Iraq war", perhaps a word of caution, resulting from increased US opposition to the activities of the Israel First campaigners in Congress (see below).

Israeli public opinion apparently does not share the political elite’s plans for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. A survey in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, reported by Reuters (Dec. 16, 2005) shows that 58% of the Israelis polled believed the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program should be handled diplomatically while only 36% said its reactors should be destroyed in a military strike.

Israel’s War Deadline All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran. The thinking behind this date is to heighten the pressure on the US to force the sanctions issue in the Security Council. The tactic is to blackmail Washington with the "war or else" threat, into pressuring Europe (namely Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) into approving sanctions. Israel knows that its acts of war will endanger thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, and it knows that Washington (and Europe) cannot afford a third war at this time. The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran’s nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or justify Israeli military action. Fixing a March date also intensifies the political activities of the pro-Israel organizations in the United States. The major pro-Israel lobbies have lined up a majority in the US Congress and Senate to push for the UN Security Council to implement economic sanctions against Iran or, failing that, endorse Israeli "defensive" action. Thousands of pro-Israel national, local and community groups and individuals have been mobilized to promote the Israeli agenda via the mass media and visits to US Congressional representatives. The war agenda also plays on exploiting the tactical disputes among the civilian militarists within the White House, between Cheney, Bolton and Abrams on one side and Rice and Rumsfeld on the other. The Cheney line has always supported an Israeli military attack, while Rice promotes the tactic of "forced failure" of the European diplomatic route before taking decisive action. Rumsfeld, under tremendous pressure from practically all of the top professional military officials, fears that an Israeli war will further accelerate US military losses. The pro-Israel lobby would like to replace the ultra-militarist Rumsfeld with the ultra-militarist Senator Joseph Lieberman, an unconditional Israel First Zealot.

US-Israeli Disagreements on an Iran War As Israel marches inexorably toward war with Iran, disputes with Washington have surfaced. The conflicts and mutual attacks extend throughout the state institutions, and into the public discourse. Supporters and opponents of Israel’s war policy represent powerful segments of state institutions and civil society. On the side of the Israeli war policy are practically all the major and most influential Jewish organizations, the pro-Israeli lobbies, their political action committees, a sector of the White House, a majority of subsidized Congressional representatives and state, local and party leaders. On the other side are sectors of the Pentagon, State Department, a minority of Congressional members, a majority of public opinion, a minority of American Jews (Union of Reform Judaism) and the majority of active and retired military commanders who have served or are serving in Iraq.

Most of the discussion and debate in the US on Israel’s war agenda has been dominated by the pro-Israeli organizations that transmit the Israeli state positions. The Jewish weekly newspaper, Forward , has reported a number of Israeli attacks on the Bush Administration for not acting more aggressively on behalf of Israel’s policy. According to the Forward , "Jerusalem is increasingly concerned that the Bush Administration is not doing enough to block Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons…" (Dec. 9, 2005). Further stark differences occurred during the semi-annual strategic dialog between Israeli and US security officials, in which the Israelis opposed a US push for regime change in Syria, fearing a possible, more radical Islamic regime. The Israeli officials also criticized the US for forcing Israel to agree to open the Rafah border crossing and upsetting their stranglehold on the economy in Gaza.

Predictably the biggest Jewish organization in the US, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) immediately echoed the Israeli state line as it has since its founding. Malcolm Hoenlan, President of the CPMAJO lambasted Washington for a "failure of leadership on Iran" and "contracting the issue to Europe" (Forward, Dec. 9, 2005). He went on to attack the Bush Administration for not following Israel’s demands by delaying referring Iran to the UN Security Council for sanction. The leader of the CPMAJO then turned on French, German and British negotiators accusing them of "appeasement and weakness", and of not having a "game plan for decisive action" – presumably for not following Israel’s 'sanction or bomb them’ game plan.

The role of AIPAC, the CPMAJO and other pro-Israeli organizations as transmission belts for Israel’s bellicose war plans was evident in their November 28, 2005 condemnation of the Bush Administration agreement to give Russia a chance to negotiate a plan under which Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium under international supervision to ensure that its enriched uranium would not be used for military purposes. AIPAC’s rejection of negotiations and demands for an immediate confrontation were based on the specious argument that it would "facilitate Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons" – an argument which flies in the face of all known intelligence data (including Israel’s) which says Iran is at least 3 to 10 years away from even approaching nuclear weaponry. AIPAC’s unconditional and uncritical transmission of Israeli demands and criticism is usually clothed in the rhetoric of US interests or security in order to manipulate US policy. AIPAC chastised the Bush regime for endangering US security. By relying on negotiations, AIPAC accused the Bush Administration of "giving Iran yet another chance to manipulate (sic) the international community" and "pose a severe danger to the United States" (Forward, Dec. 9, 2005).

Leading US spokesmen for Israel opposed President Bush’s instructing his Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khaklilzad, to open a dialog with Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq. In addition, Israel’s official 'restrained’ reaction to Russia’s sale to Teheran of more than a billion dollars worth of defensive anti-aircraft missiles, which might protect Iran from an Israeli air strike, was predictably echoed by the major Jewish organizations in the US. No doubt an important reason for Israel’s setting an early deadline for its military assault on Iran is to act before Iran establishes a new satellite surveillance system and installs its new missile defense system.

Pushing the US into a confrontation with Iran, via economic sanctions and military attack has been a top priority for Israel and its supporters in the US for more than a decade (Jewish Times/ Jewish Telegraph Agency, Dec. 6, 2005). The AIPAC believes the Islamic Republic poses a grave threat to Israel’s supremacy in the Middle East. In line with its policy of forcing a US confrontation with Iran, AIPAC, the Israeli PACs (political action committees) and the CPMAJO have successfully lined up a majority of Congress people to challenge what they describe as the "appeasement" of Iran. According to the Jewish Times (12/6/05), "If it comes down to a political battle, signs are that AIPAC could muster strong support in Congress to press the White House to demand sanctions on Iran." Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), who has the dubious distinction of being a collaborator with Cuban exile terrorist groups and unconditional backer of Israel’s war policy, is chairwoman of the highly influential US House of Representative Middle East subcommittee. From that platform she has echoed the CPMAJO line about "European appeasement and arming the terrorist regime in Teheran" (Jewish Times 12/6/05). The Cuban-American Zionist boasted that her Iran sanctions bill has the support of 75% of the members of Congress and that she is lining up additional so-sponsors.

The pro-Israel lobby’s power, which includes AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, the PACs and hundreds of local formal and informal organizations, is magnified by their influence and hegemony over Congress, the mass media, financial institutions, pension funds and fundamentalist Christian organizations. Within the executive branch their influence in these institutions amplifies their power far beyond their number and direct control and representation in strategic public and private institutions (which itself is formidable). AIPAC’s "Progress and Policy Report for 2005" – published on its website – lists, among its accomplishments, getting Congress to approve 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives, $3 billion in direct aid and more than $10 billion in guaranteed loans, transfer of the most advanced military technology to Israel’s multi-billion dollar arms export corporations, and the lining up by a 410 to 1 vote in the House of Representative committing the US to Israel’s security – as it is defined by Israel.

The conflict between the Israeli elite and the Bush Administration has to be located in a broader context. Despite pro-Israeli attacks on US policy for its 'weakness’ on Iran, Washington has moved as aggressively as circumstances permit. Facing European opposition to an immediate confrontation (as AIPAC and Israeli politicians demand) Washington supports European negotiations but imposes extremely limiting conditions, namely a rejection of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. The European "compromise" of forcing Iran to turn over the enrichment process to a foreign country (Russia), is not only a violation of its sovereignty, but is a policy that no other country using nuclear energy practices. Given this transparently unacceptable "mandate", it is clear that Washington’s 'support for negotiations’ is a propaganda devise to provoke an Iranian rejection, and a means of securing Europe’s support for a Security Council referral for international sanctions. Washington has absolutely no precedent to object to Russia’s sale of defensive ground to air missiles to Iran, since it is standard in the arms export business. As for as the Ambassadorial meetings in Iraq, the US has had great success in securing Iranian co-operation on stabilizing its Iraqi Shiite client regime. Iran has recognized the regime, has signed trade agreements, supported the dubious elections and provided the US with intelligence against the Sunni resistance. Given their common interests in the region, it was logical for Washington to seek to bend Iran into further co-operation via diplomatic discussions. In other words, as the US seeks to withdraw its troops from a losing war in Iraq (largely supported by AIPAC and its organizational partners), pro-Israel organizations are pushing hard to put the US into a new war with Iran. It is no surprise that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) invited the most bellicose of US Middle East warmongers, UN Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, to be its keynote speaker at its annual awards dinner (ZOA Press Release, Dec. 11, 2005). The ZOA has loyally followed all the zigzags of Israeli policy since the foundation of the State.

Despite the near unanimous support and widespread influence of the major Jewish organizations, 20% of American Jews do not support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Even more significantly, 61% of Jews almost never talk about Israel or defend Israel in conversation with Goyim (non-Jews) (Jerusalem Post, Dec 1, 2005). Only 29% of Jews are active promoters of Israel. In other words, it is important to note that the Israel First crowd represents less than a third of the Jewish community and hence their claim to speak for 'all’ US Jews is false and a misrepresentation. In fact, there is more opposition to Israel among Jews than there is in the US Congress. Having said that, however, most Jewish critics of Israel are not influential in the big Jewish organizations and the Israel lobby, excluded from the mass media and mostly intimidated from speaking out, especially on Israel’s war preparations against Iran. The minority Jewish critics cannot match the five to eight million dollars spent in buying Congressional votes each year by the pro-Israel lobbies.

The Myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat The Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Daniel Halutz, has categorically denied that Iran represents an immediate nuclear threat to Israel, let along the United States. According to Haaretz (12/14/05), Halutz stated that it would take Iran time to be able to produce a nuclear bomb – which he estimated might happen between 2008 and 2015.

Israel’s Labor Party officials do not believe that Iran represents an immediate nuclear threat and that the Sharon government and the Likud war propaganda is an electoral ploy. According to Haaretz, "Labor Party officials…accused Preme Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other defense officials of using the Iran issue in their election campaigns in an effort to divert public debate from social issues" (Dec. 14, 2005). In a message directed at the Israeli Right but equally applicable to AIPAC and the 'Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations in the US, Labor member of the Knesset, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer rejected electoral warmongering: "I hope the upcoming elections won’t motivate the prime minister and defense minister to stray from government policy and place Israel on the frontlines of confrontation with Iran. The nuclear issue is an international issue and there is no reason for Israel to play a major role in it" (Haaretz, Dec. 14, 2005). Unfortunately the Israel lobby is making it a US issue and putting Washington on the frontlines…

Iran’s Nuclear Threat Fabrication Israeli intelligence has determined that Iran has neither the enriched uranium nor the capability to produce an atomic weapon now or in the immediate future, in contrast to the hysterical claims publicized by the US pro-Israel lobbies. Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspected Iran for several years, has pointed out that the IAEA has found no proof that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons. He criticized Israeli and US war plans indirectly by warning that a "military solution would be completely un-productive" (Financial Times, Dec. 10/11, 2005).

More recently, Iran, in a clear move to clarify the issue of the future use of enriched uranium, "opened the door for US help in building a nuclear power plant" (USA Today, Dec. 11, 2005). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, speaking at a press conference, stated "America can take part in the international bidding for the construction of Iran’s nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality" (USA Today, Dec. 11, 2005). Iran also plans to build several other nuclear power plants with foreign help. The Iranian call for foreign assistance is hardly the strategy of a country trying to conduct a covert atomic bomb program, especially one directed at involving one of its principal accusers.

The Iranians are at an elementary stage in the processing of uranium, not even reaching the point of uranium enrichment, which in turn will take still a number of years, and overcoming many complex technical problems before it can build a bomb. There is no factual basis for arguing that Iran represents a nuclear threat to Israel or to the US forces in the Middle East.

Israel’s war preparations and AIPAC’s efforts to push the US in the same direction based on falsified data is reminiscent of the fabricated evidence which was channeled to the White House through the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans led by Abram Shumsky and directed by Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, both long-time supporters of the Likud Party. Israel’s war preparations are not over any present or future Iranian nuclear threat. The issue is over future enrichment of uranium, which is legal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty as is its use in producing electrical power. Iran currently is only in a uranium conversion phase, which is prior to enrichment. Scores of countries with nuclear reactors by necessity use enriched uranium. The Iranian decision to advance to processing enriched uranium is its sovereign right as it is for all countries, which possess nuclear reactors in Europe, Asia and North America.

Israel and AIPAC’s resort to the vague formulation of Iran’s potential nuclear capacity is so open-ended that it could apply to scores of countries with a minimum scientific infrastructure.

The European Quartet has raised a bogus issue by evading the issue of whether or not Iran has atomic weapons or is manufacturing them and focused on attacking Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear energy – namely the production of enriched uranium. The Quartet has conflated enriched uranium with a nuclear threat and nuclear potential with the danger of an imminent nuclear attack on Western countries, troops and Israel. The Europeans, especially Great Britain, have two options in mind: To impose an Iranian acceptance of limits on its sovereignty, more specifically on its energy policy and capacity to control the deadly air pollution of its major cities with cleaner sources of energy; or to force Iran to reject the arbitrary addendum to the Non-Proliferation Agreement and then to propagandize the rejection as an indication of Iran’s evil intention to create atomic bombs and target pro-Western countries. The Western media would echo the US and European governments position that Iran was responsible for the breakdown of negotiations. The Europeans would then convince their public that since "reason" failed, the only recourse it to follow the US to take the issue to the Security Council and approve international sanctions against Iran.

The US then would attempt to pressure Russia and China to vote in favor of sanctions or to abstain. There is reason to doubt that either or both countries would agree giving the importance of the multi-billion dollar oil, arms, nuclear and trade deals between Iran and these two countries. Having tried and failed in the Security Council, the US and Israel are likely to move toward a military attack. An air attack on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities will entail the bombing of heavily populated as well as remote regions leading to large-scale loss of life.

The principal result will be a massive escalation of war throughout the Middle East. Iran, a country of 70 million, with several times the military forces that Iraq possessed and with highly motivated and committed military and paramilitary forces can be expected to cross into Iraq. Iraqi Shiites sympathetic to or allied with Iran would most likely break their ties with Washington and go into combat. US military bases, troops and clients would be under tremendous attack. US military casualties would multiply. All troop withdrawal plans would be disrupted. The 'Iraqization’ strategy would disintegrate, as the US 'loyal’ Shia armed forces would turn against their American officers. Beyond Iraq, there would likely be major military-civilian uprisings in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Pakistan. The conflagration would spread beyond the Middle East, as the Israel-US attack on an Islamic country would ignite mass protests throughout Asia. Most likely new terrorist incidents would occur in Western Europe, North America, and Australia and against US multinationals. A bitter prolonged war would ensue; pitting 70 million unified Iranian nationals, millions of Muslims in Asia and Africa against an isolated US accompanied by its European allies facing mass popular protests at home.

Sanctions on Iran will not work, because oil is a scarce and essential commodity. China, India and other fast-growing Asian countries will balk at a boycott. Turkey and other Muslim countries will not cooperate. Numerous Western oil companies will work through intermediaries. The sanction policy is predestined to failure; its only result will be to raise the price of oil even higher. An Israeli or US military attack will cause severe political instability and increase the risk to oil producers, shippers and buyers, raising the price of oil to astronomical heights, likely over $100 a barrel, destabilizing the world economy and provoking a major world recession or worse.

Conclusion The only possible beneficiary of a US or Israeli military attack on Iran or economic sanctions will be Israel: it will seem to eliminate a military adversary in the Middle East, and consolidate its military supremacy in the Middle East. Even this outcome is problematic because it fails to take account of the fact that Iran’s challenge to Israel is political, not its non-existent nuclear potential. The first target of the millions of Muslims protesting Israeli aggression will be the Arab regimes closest to Israel. An Israeli attack would be a pyrrhic victory, if a predictable political conflagration unseats the rulers of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The consequences would be even worse if the US attacks: major oil wells burning, US troops in Iraq surrounded, long-term relations with Arab regimes undermined, increased oil prices and troop casualties inflaming domestic public opinion. An attack on Iran will not be a cleanly executed 'surgical’ strike – it will be a deep jagged wound leading to gangrene.

No doubt AIPAC will celebrate "another success" for Israel in their yearly self-congratulatory report of missions accomplished. The Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations in America will thank their obedient and loyal congressional followers for approving the destruction of an 'anti-Semitic and anti-American nuclear threat to all of humanity’ or some similar rubbish.

The big losers of a US-Israeli military attack are the US soldiers in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries who will be killed and maimed, the US public which will pay in blood and bloated deficits, the oil companies which will see their oil supplies disrupted, their new multi-billion dollar joint oil exploitation contracts undermined, the Palestinians who will suffer the consequences of greater repression and massive displacement, the Lebanese people who will be forcible entangled in a new border war, and the Europeans who will face terrorist retaliations.

Except for the Israeli lobby in the US and its grass root Jewish American supporters and allies among the Presidents of the Major Jewish organizations there are no other organized lobbies pressuring for or against this war. The ritualistic denunciations of "Big Oil" whenever there is a Middle East conflict involving the US is in this instance a totally bogus issue, lacking any substance. All the evidence is to the contrary – big oil is opposed to any conflicts, which will upset their first major entry into Middle Eastern oil fields since they were nationalized in the 1970’s.

The only identifiable organized political force, which has successfully made deep inroads in the US Congress and in sectors of the Executive Branch, are the pro-Israel lobbies and PAC’s. The major proponents of a confrontationist policy in the Executive Branch are led by pro-Israel neo-conservative National Security Council member (and Presidentially pardoned felon) Elliott Abrams, in charge of Middle East policy, and Vice President Cheney. The principle opposition is found in the major military services, among commanders, who clearly see the disastrous strategic consequences for the US military forces and sectors of the State Department and CIA, who are certainly aware of the disastrous consequences for the US of supporting Israel’s quest for uncontested regional supremacy.

The problem is there is no political leadership to oppose the pro-Israel war lobby within congress or even in civil society. There are few if any influential organized lobbies challenging the pro-war Israel lobby either from the perspective of working for coexistence in the Middle East or even in defending US national interests when they diverge from Israel. Although numerous former diplomats, generals, intelligence officials, Reformed Jews, retired National Security advisers and State Department professionals have publicly denounced the Iran war agenda and even criticized the Israel First lobbies, their newspaper ads and media interviews have not been backed by any national political organization that can compete for influence in the White House and Congress. As we draw closer to a major confrontation with Iran and Israeli officials set short term deadlines for igniting a Middle East conflagration, it seems that we are doomed to learn from future catastrophic losses that Americans must organize to defeat political lobbies based on overseas allegiances.




Thanks to Jeff Blankfort for sending the complete and unabridged version of this important article which appeared in Counterpunch in an edited form.



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