Why Global War is Coming Fast

Why Global War is Coming Fast,

(and Only Allah “the One God” knows best)

and Focused on the Middle East (Muslim Nations).

By Abu Salman Deya ud Deen Eberle ||| www.abusalman.com

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Note that this is an ongoing project.    Of course no one can predict the future and only God Almighty knows the future events in detail, and therefore the following is only some premonitions concerning events that have been brewing, some news and views, and some varied presentations about prophecies of the Last Days. My commentary in the beginning will periodically be updated, iA (insh-Allah -God willing)

Last updated: Rabi Al-Awaal 15, 1433 [Feb 07, 2012]


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In a word: Oil. (Or should I say ego) (Add to that many prophecies are converging, some of which appear – as we witness them occur – as a self fulfilling spiral of events.) [add to that the relationship between oil and the petro dollar cycle and its collapse]

Of course oil is not the only factor and is only one focal point of contention, but let’s focus on this one point here as a springboard to some others.

In a sentence: Because oil is absolutely necessarily for rapid modern economic expansion and for modern technological warfare, and the majority of easily accessed oil is in the Middle East (the ‘Big Mistake’ as many Western geostrategic analysts cynically joke), the focal point of material, national, racial, ideological and religious competition.

In a few paragraphs.

The study of modern economic development and warfare and the epic struggles between nations in the 20th century were about access to raw materials, and especially, the access to easy cheap oil has been the major impetus of competition. As the old empires of Europe fought WWI and then WWII and the capitalistic/communistic Cold War, it became more and more clear that it all was about oil. Now the entire capitalistic/communistic  paradigm has failed miserable, and there remains the simple grab of power to remain in power and this needs oil. The GWOT (Global War on Terror) has not left one iota of doubt.  The Great Economic Crisis which began in 2007 and remains to the present, was all about debt and interest on debt, and it fed off the need for easy capital (i.e. debt creation) to make more money, to stimulate the economy, and to fight the wars, (and was “oiled” by the unparalleled amounts of collective greed by governments, corporations, and consumers in the USA and EuroZone ).  The present scenario has brought this all to a coalesce of factors: the major economies see that they have no other course of action but either to: deleverage (pay back debt – which is too painful), or bailout the banks and corporations and and sovereign governments (which only prolongs the inevitable bankruptcy – and actually the taxpayer and consumers will pay by downgraded services unemployment etc  while the super rich benefit by the “welfare” of the taxpayers), or inflate their currencies (by printing fiat money like in QE 1 and QE2 [quantitative easing of Federal Reserve- i.e. private banksters] in an attempt to fight the deflation mega-cycle of the economic depression, but which will lead by mathematic and economic certainty, eventually to hyperinflation);  or go to major war in an attempt to “correct” all of the above by a rapid stimulant and expansion to their economies,  thus the need for oil and the need  to wage total war as a “solution.”

As all history tells us they choose total war as the best way to achieve their strategic interests. Since the USA has taken control of all of the major oil producing states of the Middle East one way or another (most lately obviously Iraq and Libya by direct occupation – and remember that both Saddam and Qadhtafi attempted to price oil in other than petro-dollars right before their military occupation), the last remaining major source of oil in the ME is Iran, and yet China and Russia see this war mongering over Iran as too close to their spheres of interests and too damaging to their existential survival (not to mention the roles of the other Muslim nations and Israel in this geo-political-social-economic  realpoltik)). They, along with other nations, see the US petro-dollar collapse as the global reserve currency as an inevitable eventuality (and thus USA empire decline-collaspe), and thus are positioning themselves into using other currencies, metals and barter as a means of trade. Yet oil and the competition for easy access to cheaper oil remains the basic competition for the simple truth that all modern economic and military activity depends on oil, and there is no doubt about the increasing depletion of this global resource, as well as other strategic resources like water, arable uncontaminated land, mineral, metals, “rare earth” metals, sea resources, forest resources, etc.

Will the USA go down without a fight while they possess the greatest amassment of modern weaponry and industrial military complexities, and spend more annually than all the other nations put together? Is that the American way, the WARFARE WELFARE nation?

By the way, many analysts concur with this basic overview of the coming war scenario, each accordingly from their own ideological belief and analytical  perspective, as can be seen by cursory exploration

The explanation in more detail:

coming iA (insh-Allah: by the will of God)

A WORK IN PROGRESS

Please give any comment, detail of information, or rebuttal of any aspect, other observations to enhance the ongoing research.

Therefore Total Global War is coming and this is known by us Muslims not only by the historical and geo-political assessment as in summary in the most precursory way above, but also from authentic Prophetic Narrations, may the peace and blessing be upon him, from realities of the so called Arab Israeli conflict, the Ahlas Sunnah- Shia rivalry, and other rivalries, etc.

A Muslim must have pure intention to act according to what pleases Allah and to gain salvation in Paradise, and not succumb to mere slogans and shallow profaned propaganda, during the coming trials and tribulations.

May Allah protect us in faith and good deeds and mercy from Allah

[ for some Islamic prophecies about the End Times and Last Day see the bottom of the page and for some aspects of the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah and the deviations of the extremely deviant innovators the Shia’  see > HERE ]

Some Key Words coming in details iA (inshallah – God willing)

Prophecies

Water and Food Crisis , and consequences

Empire Collapse (and reversion to simpler weaponry, transposition, etc)

Al Malahim Akhir az Zaman (great epic battles of Last Days)

Armageddon

True Mahdi (Righty Guided Leader) and many False Mahdis

Ad Dajjal (Anti- Christ, Great Deceiver, Trickster)

Christ Jesus (peace be upon him) and his Second Coming as a Muslim Leader

Yajooj Majooj (Gog and Magog)

Sun rising from the West

Epic Environmental Changes

Earthquakes – Skyquakes

ETC

iA [More details forthcoming]

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Below – Random news of interest:
Part Three: Prophecies before our eyes (coming iA [inshallah] -God willing)

Part Two: Sham Greater Syria (coming iA [inshallah] -God willing)

Part One: Mesopotamian and  Iranian connections

Some notes and information for comparison below

See books and articles of interest and reflection and research:

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Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention

Advisers deployed with surface-to-air systems bolster President Assad’s defences and complicate outcome of any future strikes

Syria crisis – an Assad regime military vehicle destroyed by rebels

Syria crisis – an Assad regime military vehicle destroyed by rebels during clashes in Bayada neighborhood, Homs province. Photograph: Associated Press

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria‘s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.

Meanwhile, near-daily atrocities have kept western governments under pressure to act. A Syrian government air strike on a town near the central city of Hama on Sunday killed dozens of civilians queueing for bread, according to human rights activists.

Amateur footage from Halfaya showed mangled human remains strewn along a street where people had been blown off scooters and out of cars. One video showed a boy with his feet blown off. Piles of corpses could be seen beneath rubble outside a two-storey building the cameraman described as a bakery. It was unclear how many bodies were in the smoking ruins.

Human Rights Watch has previously accused the regime of targeting bakeries. The group warned the Assad regime that such targeted bombing of civilians represented war crimes. However, in the face of a Russian veto at the UN security council, the international criminal court has not had a mandate to investigate the atrocities committed by either side. The UN has put the death toll at more than 40,000 as the war continues to escalate.

Turkish officials, who accurately predicted the Syrian regime would use Scud missiles after several warplanes were shot down by rebels, also believe President Bashar al-Assad has twice come close to using chemical weapons including sarin, the nerve gas. First, after the bombing of the regime’s Damascus security headquarters in July, which killed the president’s brother in law, Assef Shawkat, and then last month, after opposition forces made significant gains.

The Turks and western officials say there are signs Assad sees chemical weapons as another step in the escalation of force, rather than a Rubicon-crossing gamble that could end his regime. The US, UK, France and Turkey have warned Syria that its use of such weapons would trigger military retribution. But any such a response would be fraught with difficulties.

Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months. In the interim, those western troops could easily become the target of Islamist groups fighting the government in Damascus.

Any air strikes against regime targets, in response to chemical weapon use, or any attempt to create a no-fly zone to stop further bombing of refugee camps, would require the suppression of Syria’s formidable defences. Those have been bolstered significantly since Israeli strikes on an alleged nuclear reactor site at al-Kibar in 2007 exposed holes, and again since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011.

The upgrades were supplied by Moscow, which sees them as a bulwark against western-imposed regime change and protection of a longstanding investment in Syria. The country includes Russia‘s biggest electronic eavesdropping post outside its territory, in Latakia, and its toehold on the Mediterranean, a small naval base at Tartus.

Russian security and defence officials, who are notoriously loth to publicly comment on their operations abroad, have repeatedly denied providing explicit support for the Assad regime.

Over the weekend, the head of Russia’s ground forces air defence, Major General Alexander Leonov, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station: “Syria’s air-defence system is a no-nonsense force. As a result, no one has ever used serious air combat power against it.”

That “no-nonsense” force, the air defence command, comprises two divisions and an estimated 50,000 troops – twice the size of Muammar Gaddafi’s force – with thousands of anti-aircraft guns and more than 130 anti-aircraft missile batteries.

According to Jeremy Binnie, the editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, recent Russian deliveries include Buk-M2 and Pantsyr-S1 (known to Nato as SA-22) mobile missile launch and radar systems. Reports of the shipment of the modern long-range S-300 have not been confirmed, and the Syrian armed forces did not show off any S-300 missiles in a military display this year. It is possible they have been delivered but are not yet operational.

Guy Ben-Ari, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: “They don’t just sell the equipment. They also help man the crews and train the crews. Sometimes there is just no domestic capacity to run these systems, and that is the case in Syria where Syrian crews are not capable of using the equipment to its full capacity.”

Sources familiar with the Moscow-Damascus defence relationship confirmed the presence of Russian air-defence crews inside Syria. Their deployment would be a consideration when western contingency plans for Syria were being considered, they said.

Such a dense, layered and overlapping air-defence system would require a huge air campaign, heavily reliant on thousands of precision-guided missiles. The UK, France and other American allies in Europe used up their stocks of such weapons in Libya and although details are classified there have been reports that they have not yet returned to pre-Libya levels.

“We know they pretty much ran out of them at the end of Libya. Given the budgetary constraints the Europeans are operating with, and in an era where every euro spent on defence is very heavily scrutinised, it is a hard sell to restock on this stuff,” Ben-Ari said. “And it would not be enough to be at Libya levels. You would need far more for Syria.”

A Syrian air campaign would also require stealth aircraft and a great amount of signals intelligence, satellite imagery and aerial reconnaissance, all of which are US specialities. For all those reasons, Washington would not be able to “lead from behind” as it did in Libya.

The Obama administration has so far been extremely wary of getting enmeshed in another Middle East war, particularly with the knowledge that the long-running Iranian nuclear crisis could trigger a conflict in the Gulf at any time. With the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus last month, the administration arguably lost its most powerful advocate of Syrian intervention.

John Kerry, the nominee for secretary of state, has advocated greater support for the rebels, but stopped short of calling for direct US or Nato involvement. With no new secretary of defence yet nominated, it could take several months for the new team to recalibrate its approach.

The robust Syrian defences, combined with Damascus’s hand-in-glove relationship with Moscow, and the fragmented nature of the opposition, help explain why a US-led intervention – predicted as imminent for more than a year by advocates and opponents alike – has so far failed to materialise, and why there is little appetite for such a move in Washington and most other western capitals, barring a major, verifiable use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

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Robert Wright

Robert Wright – Robert Wright is a senior editor at The Atlantic and the author, most recently, of The Evolution of God, a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. More

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AIPAC and the Push Toward War

By Robert Wright

Feb 21 2012, 6:48 PM ET 223

Late last week, amid little fanfare, Senators Joseph Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and Robert Casey introduced a resolution that would move America further down the path toward war with Iran.The good news is that the resolution hasn’t been universally embraced in the Senate. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, the resolution has “provoked jitters among Democrats anxious over the specter of war.” The bad news is that, as Kampeas also reports, “AIPAC is expected to make the resolution an ‘ask’ in three weeks when up to 10,000 activists culminate its annual conference with a day of Capitol Hill lobbying.”In standard media accounts, the resolution is being described as an attempt to move the “red line”–the line that, if crossed by Iran, could trigger a US military strike. The Obama administration has said that what’s unacceptable is for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This resolution speaks instead of a “nuclear weapons capability.” In other words, Iran shouldn’t be allowed to get to a point where, should it decide to produce a nuclear weapon, it would have the wherewithal to do so.By itself this language is meaninglessly vague. Does “capability” mean the ability to produce a bomb within two months? Two years? If two years is the standard, Iran has probably crossed the red line already. (So should we start bombing now?) Indeed, by the two-year standard, Iran might well be over the red line even after a bombing campaign–which would at most be a temporary setback, and would remove any doubt among Iran’s leaders as to whether to build nuclear weapons, and whether to make its nuclear program impervious to future American and Israeli bombs. What do we do then? Invade?In other words, if interpreted expansively, the “nuclear weapons capability” threshold is a recipe not just for war, but for ongoing war–war that wouldn’t ultimately prevent the building of a nuclear weapon without putting boots on the ground. And it turns out that the authors of this resolution want “nuclear weapons capability” interpreted very expansively.The key is in the way the resolution deals with the question of whether Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium, as it’s been doing for some time now. The resolution defines as an American goal “the full and sustained suspension” of uranium enrichment by Iran. In case you’re wondering what the resolution’s prime movers mean by that: In a letter sent to the White House on the same day the resolution was introduced, Lieberman, Graham and ten other senators wrote, “We would strongly oppose any proposal that recognizes a ‘right to enrichment’ by the current regime or for [sic] a diplomatic endgame in which Iran is permitted to continue enrichment on its territory in any form.”This notwithstanding the fact that 1) enrichment is allowed under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; (2) a sufficiently intrusive monitoring system can verify that enrichment is for peaceful purposes; (3) Iran’s right to enrich its own uranium is an issue of strong national pride. In a pollpublished in 2010, after sanctions had already started to bite, 86 percent of Iranians said Iran should not “give up its nuclear activities regardless of the circumstances.” And this wasn’t about building a bomb; most Iranians said Iran’s nuclear activities shouldn’t include producing weapons.Even Dennis Ross–who has rarely, in his long career as a Mideast diplomat, left much daylight between his positions and AIPAC’s, and who once categorically opposed Iranian enrichment–now realizes that a diplomatic solution may have to include enrichment. Last week in a New York Times op-ed, he said that, contrary to pessimistic assessments, it may still be possible to get a deal that “uses intrusive inspections and denies or limitsuranium enrichment [emphasis added]…”The resolution plays down its departure from current policy by claiming that there have been “multiple” UN resolutions since 2006 demanding the “sustained” suspension of uranium. But the UN resolutions don’t actually use that term. The UN has demanded suspension as a confidence-building measure that could then lead to, as one resolution puts it, a “negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.” And various Security Council members who voted on these resolutions have made it clear that Iranian enrichment of uranium can be part of this scenario if Iran agrees to sufficiently tight monitoring.Indeed, that Iran’s right to enrich uranium could be recognized under those circumstances is, Hillary Clinton has said, “the position of the international community, along with the United States.” If the Lieberman-Graham-Casey resolution guides US policy, says George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, that would “preclude” fulfillment of the UN resolutions and isolate the US from the international coalition that backed them.The Congressional resolution goes beyond the UN resolutions in another sense. It demands an end to Iran’s ballistic missile program. Greg Thielmann of the Arms Control Association notes that, “Even after crushing Iraq in the first Gulf War, the international coalition only imposed a 150-kilometer range ceiling on Saddam’s ballistic missiles. A demand to eliminate all ballistic missiles would be unprecedented in the modern era–removing any doubt among Iranians that the United States was interested in nothing less than the total subjugation of the country.”

On the brighter side: Maybe it’s a good sign that getting significant Democratic buy-in for this resolution took some strong-arming. According to Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now, the resolution got 15 Democratic supporters only “after days of intense AIPAC lobbying, particularly of what some consider ‘vulnerable’ Democrats (vulnerable in terms of being in races where their pro-Israel credentials are being challenged by the candidate running against them).” What’s more, even as AIPAC was playing this hardball, the bill’s sponsors still had to tone down some particularly threatening language in the resolution.

But, even so, the resolution defines keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapons “capability” as being in America’s “vital national interest,” which is generally taken as synonymous with “worth war.” And, though this “sense of Congress” resolution is nonbinding, AIPAC will probably seek unanimous Senate consent, which puts pressure on a president. Friedman says this “risks sending a message that Congress supports war and opposes a realistic negotiated solution or any de facto solution short of stripping Iran of even a peaceful nuclear capacity.”

What’s more, says Friedman, the non-binding status may be temporary. “Often AIPAC-backed Congressional initiatives start as non-binding language (in a resolution or a letter) and then show up in binding legislation. Once members of Congress have already signed on to a policy in non-binding form, it is much harder for them to oppose it when it shows up later in a bill that, if passed, will have the full force of law.”

No wonder Democrats who worry about war have the “jitters.”

More at The Atlantic

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> ! kaboom

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some interesting perspectives here

http://stopthewarnow.net/

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Will the sailors and marines on the USS Enterprise be used as sacrificial lambs?

2 Votes

Our oldest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise is headed to the Middle East as a sign of strength to force Iran to rethink its’ position on making nuclear weapons.

We do not actually know that nukes are being manufactured – that assumption is pure speculation but yet we are willing to entice Iran into war.

We currently have 3 modern aircraft carriers assigned to the 5th fleet, so why do we need to send a 50 year old aircraft carrier along with its’ 6 ship carrier strike group to the Gulf?

It is believed that Israel and the United States are behind the murders of Iranian scientists.  The United States is also behind a strengthening of financial sanctions against Iran, which Iran considers an act of War on part of the United States.  In addition, the United States wants to initiate an oil embargo against Iran to further economically bleed their country dry.

I find it interesting that in the past 10 – 12 years we have either threatened or have actually gone to war with countries having large oil reserves.  In addition, we went to war with Afghanistan and that was in part because of a proposed pipeline that was to be built through Afghanistan.  It is also suspected that the opium supply, along with significant other natural resources played a part.

The biggest beneficiaries of our recent wars are large U. S. and European energy companies, our own military industrial complex and Israel.

It is a given that Israel lobbyists strongly support the United States attacking any and all Middle East countries.  It is also rumored that Israel has committed many behind the scenes military and paramilitary activities to stir up trouble in an effort to blame other Middle East countries for the atrocities.

The United States has an insatiable appetite for energy resources and its’ attitude is that if we cannot negotiate good deals then we will use our military to insure the continuous flow of oil to the United States.

Some of you might not of the term “false flags” and that is partially because we, the United States, is the main country in the world who commits them as a pretext to going to war.  A false flag is where one country does something, like attacking their own military to blame in on someone else as a justification to attack another country.

Anyone doubting the topic of false flags should do a few searches on the U.S.S. Liberty and even Pearl Harbor to find out how our country either turns a blind eye to an enemy or even an ally that is attacking us so we can retaliate with greater force.

We are sending the U.S.S. Enterprise, America’s first nuclear aircraft carrier, to the Middle East.  This ship is due to be mothballed in 2014-2015.  This ship will be the first nuclear vessel ever to be decommissioned and that process will be costly.  The decommissioning will take approximately 8 years at a cost of $300-500 million dollars.

Speculation abounds that the United States would be okay if the Enterprise was somehow sunk in the gulf because it would accomplish two things – first, the 8 year decommissioning would be off the table with a savings of up to $500 billion dollars and second, we could blame the sinking on Iran and use that as a pretext to war.

Israel has a handful of submarines it purchased from Germany and it is rumored that Israel might attack the Enterprise and sink it.  There is also speculation that the U.S.S. Enterprise might be pre-wired with explosives to insure that when attacked it will sink to the bottom of the Gulf.

All countries play games as a pretext to engaging in war – I can understand that perfectly.  What I do not understand, however, why a country would be content with killing thousands of their own sailors and marines in the process.

We, as Americans, pride ourselves in having the best military in the world.  Supposedly, we respect life and we do everything possible to never leave one soldier behind.  We go through great lengths to rehabilitate every returning soldier, sailor, and airman.

So, if this blog is true, and either Israel sinks the Enterprise – or if we do it ourselves to justify a war, would the average American be angry with our country for killing its own troops or would we say something like, “well, it was a necessary thing to do so we could go to war with Iran so we would have a continuous flow of oil.”

One good thing, if it can be called that, is that the Enterprise left with a compliment of 1,700 sailors.  Ships company is normally 3,000 – 2,700 sailors and 300 chiefs and officers.  So, if the ship does go down, there will be fewer deaths because of the smaller number of personnel aboard.  Is the number on board another indicator that there might be plans to sink the Enterprise?

Greed is a funny thing.  Some people can justify almost anything – including killing someone so we can fill up our gas tanks.

Is the Enterprise being set up to follow Pearl Harbor and 9/11 as another catastrophe to justify war?

If you had a son or daughter assigned to the Enterprise and it was sacrificed to start a war, would you simply turn the other cheek?

On the otherhand, these Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are from homes of average Americans.  I am sure the top one percent does not have any relatives on board – except for maybe a half-dozen officers or maybe a chief or two.

If any of you reading this think that our government and the government of Israel are capable of doing something like this – sinking an old relic of an aircraft carrier in an effort to start a war with Iran, PLEASE forward this to as many of your friends and associates as possible.  Why?  Because if there is enough chatter going on about the possibility, then maybe the United States and Israel will back off these rumored plans and several thousand of America’s finest sailors and marines will live to see another day.

Also, don’t you think that if Iran wanted to sink an Amereican aircraft carrier, they would attempt to sink the U.S.S. Abraham Lincon, a Nimitz class supercarrier instead of a smaller, less equipped, lesser manned, relic like the Enterprise?

There is a movement that is scheduled to take place all over the United States to protest any kind of attack on Iran.

Here are some of the sites in the U. S. and the U. K. that are opposed to the U.S. or Israel or NATO attacking Iran in any way, shape, or manner.

http://stopwar.org.uk/

http://www.facebook.com/events/214341975322807/

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/01/24/18705527.php

Here are a few sites that are concerned that there are plans to sink the Enterprise to justify going to war against Iran.

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2012/01/false-flag-operation-coming-against-uss.html

http://www.davidicke.com/headlines/60081-uss-enterprise-false-flag

http://www.iacenter.org/iran/feb_4_no_us_war_on_iran_1_20_12/

http://wibailoutpeople.org/2012/01/21/feb-4-no-war-on-iran-green-bay-protest/

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2012/unac190112.html

The Facebook page that has been quickly setup for this upcoming protest is:

http://www.facebook.com/events/214341975322807/

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[False Flag Alert] How The Iran War Might Be Started

Please watch and help spread this video – it could help prevent a war with Iran (that could easily lead to World War 3).

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktf1VZcAWkQ

Alternate video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE7vbKHectY

Summary of the video:

We know the governments of USA and Israel are seeking a war with Iran. The recent sanctions on Iran (which can be considered an act of war, because it hurts innocent civilians) are an attempt to provoke Iran into a war.

USA and Israel need to make it look as if Iran fired the first shot, in order to sell the war to their own citizens, as well as to justify the war to the international community. And also to make it politically more difficult for Russia and China to support Iran.

Now, Israel has a history of attacking US warships (and framing others for the attack), in order to trick USA into attacking Israel’s enemies. For example, Israel attacked the USS Liberty in 1967, off the coast of Egypt – in an attempt to blame the attack on Egypt, and trick USA into attacking Egypt in retaliation. Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty was an example of a false flag attack.

A false flag attackis when a nation attacks in disguise. The purpose is to fool the public who otherwise wouldn’t support a criminal War of Aggression.Or as Wikipedia defines it:False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.

Now we have the USS Enterprise heading to the Persian Gulf region, where it will steam through the Strait of Hormuz. The USS Enterprise is the oldest aircraft carrier in the fleet, scheduled to be de-commissioned next year.

Which begs the question – WHY would the US Navy send an ancient warship, at the end of its useful life, into possible harm’s way in the Persian Gulf?

De-commissioning a nuclear aircraft carrier (like the USS Enterprise) is a very expensive process. USS Enterprise is powered by 8 nuclear reactors – all of which must be disposed of as nuclear waste material, along with all their associated machinery.

The US Navy would save a great deal of money – more than the scrap worth of the steel – if the USS Enterprise were to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, where the radioactive mess is someone else’s problem to deal with.

So back to our question – why send an ancient warship (like the USS Enterprise), at the end of its useful life, into possible harm’s way in the Persian Gulf? For the same reason Franklin Roosevelt moved a bunch of obsolete warships from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, while the newer carriers and warships were well away from Hawaii on December 7th, 1941 – when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Israel has 3 Dolphin submarines given to her by Germany. They’ve been seen transiting the Suez Canal in the past, and could well be operating in the Gulf of Oman, or even the Persian Gulf by now – lying in wait for a used-up and obsolete warship, more useful as a sacrificial lamb than as an actual weapon. A ship with American sailors, to be attacked just like Israel attacked the USS Liberty, then to be blamed on the designated target (Iran) by a compliant mainstream media.

If you agree with this analysis, please post this video everywhere you see news stories or discussions related to Iran, the Strait of Hormuz, USS Enterprise, etc.

If we can make the powers-that-be doubt that a false flag attack will be believed, maybe they’ll call it off – and a war with Iran (that would easily lead to World War 3) could be averted.

Some reference links :

About the USS Enterprise being sent to the Persian Gulf –
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/…zGQ_story.html

About USA’s long history of using lies to manipulate the public into accepting unnecessary wars (with the help of a complicit mainstream media)
http://www.corbettreport.com/faking-…orld-into-war/

Here’s the video again:

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktf1VZcAWkQ

Alternate video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE7vbKHectY

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Israel’s intentions toward Iran remain unclear

Analysts differ on whether Israel’s threat of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is a bluff to spur tougher sanctions, or a real warning.

A worker makes his way in front of the Bushehr reactor in Iran.A worker rides a bike in front of the reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant near Bushehr, Iran, in this 2010 photo. (Majid Asgaripour, Mehr News Agency / February 5, 2012)
By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles TimesFebruary 5, 2012, 6:24 p.m.
Reporting from Jerusalem—

By ramping up its threat to attack Iran’s nuclear development program, Israel appears to have galvanized international attention on an issue it has long sought to bring to the top of the global agenda.

But it remains unclear whether Israel’s unusually public statements about a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities are a bluff designed to spur tougher economic sanctions or a means of preparing the world, politically and psychologically, for what some see as an inevitable confrontation, perhaps as soon as this summer.

Although some credit Israel’s tough rhetoric for the European Union‘s recent decision to ban Iranian oil imports, others warn the strategy could backfire by triggering retaliation from Iran or setting Israel on a course that may be difficult to reverse.

Skeptics say that if Israel were actually preparing to launch a military strike against Iran, it would not be talking about the option so openly. No such debate occurred before Israel attacked nuclear sites in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.

“Israel has shot itself in its own feet by exaggerating the Iranian threat,” said Shahram Chubin, an Iranian-born nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program in Geneva.

Recent speculation about an attack — both by Israeli and U.S. officials — has undermined both countries’ deterrence option, he said. “It has banalized the military option, where empty bluster has taken over from quiet, careful preparation, and crying wolf has blurred the red lines, which have been moved consistently.”

But others insist Israel is serious about striking Iran, calculating that a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic would represent a far greater danger than the possible repercussions.

“I fear they really mean it,” said Reuven Pedatzur, academic director of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “lives for this issue. It’s not just talk to him but a fundamental matter.”

The lack of clarity on which way Israel is leaning is not surprising. In many military matters, including its own arsenal of nuclear weapons, Israel often adopts what it calls a “policy of ambiguity,” designed to keep enemies guessing.

President Obama said Sunday that he did not think Israel had made a decision about whether to attack Iran.

“I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” Obama told NBC News, saying there was close military and intelligence consultation between the U.S. and Israel. “We are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically.”

Military affairs analyst Alex Fishman likened the recent campaign of leaks and news reports in the U.S. and Israel to “ante in the regional poker game.” But in his Sunday column in Israel’s daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, he also warned that Iran “saw our bet and raised it.”

Iranian officials are reacting with tough talk of their own, including a recent threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for much of the world’s oil supply. Although Western powers fear that Iran is intent on building nuclear weapons, Tehran insists that its nuclear development program is meant for civilian purposes only and has warned Israel and the U.S. of the dire consequences of an attack.

Last week, Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency, said that Iranian agents have been attempting to hit Israeli targets in Turkey, Thailand and other countries in order to make Israel think twice about launching a preemptive strike, Israeli media reported.

Such actions could also be a response to a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and mysterious explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities, which many believe were carried out by Israel and U.S. intelligence agencies.

In Israel, debate rages among government officials and intelligence experts over whether Iran’s purported nuclear arms ambitions represent an existential threat that must be stopped at any cost and whether an Israeli strike would deliver only a short-term setback and potentially trigger a destructive regional war, including a missile barrage from anti-Israel Iranian allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

After saying last month that a decision to attack Iran was “very far off,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak abruptly shifted gears last week, warning that time was running out. “Later is too late,” said Barak, who has warned that Iran will enter an “immunity zone” by September, after which Israel will find it more difficult to carry out a successful operation because Iran has spread its nuclear facilities in dozens of locations, some located deep underground.

Some in Israel and the U.S. have questioned whether it’s already too late for an Israeli strike to make a difference, as they did when Israel was able to make single-location attacks in Iraq and Syria. Several Iranian facilities are built so deeply they are potentially out of reach of even the biggest American “bunker-buster” bombs.

Israel’s military lacks the size, breadth and weaponry needed for the kind of sustained, multi-pronged bombing campaign that could set Iran’s program back by more than a year or two, experts say.

“Americans have the capabilities for carrying out a series of attacks,” said Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “Israel might be capable of staging one strike.”

Israeli officials, however, caution against underestimating their military’s reach. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told the 2012 Herzliya public policy conference Thursday that Israel was confident that “any facility in Iran can be hit, and I speak from experience as the [former Israel Defense Forces] chief of staff.”

Yaalon said it was still possible that the Iranian regime would back down voluntarily, but only if leaders believed the government’s survival were at risk. He said the only time Tehran has suspended its nuclear program was in 2003, when it was concerned that the U.S. might invade, as it had in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“If this regime faces this dilemma, it will be rational,” Yaalon said. But the international community needs to demonstrate greater resolve, he added.

“The West has the ability to attack, but as long as Iran isn’t convinced about their determination to carry it out, they will continue their manipulations.”

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Batsheva Sobelman in The Times’ Jerusalem bureau and Kathleen Hennessey in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

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Obama: US has ‘very good’ intelligence on Iran

Associated PressBy JULIE PACE | Associated Press – 1 hr 5 mins ago

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said the U.S. has a “very good estimate” of when Iran could complete work on a nuclear weapon, but cautioned Monday that there are still many unanswered questions about Tehran’s inner workings.

“Do we know all of the dynamics inside of Iran? Absolutely not,” Obama said. “Iran itself is a lot more divided now than it was. Knowing who is making decisions at any given time inside of Iran is tough.”

Obama said that while he believes the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program can still be resolved through diplomacy, the U.S. has done extensive planning on a range of options.

“We are prepared to exercise these options should they arise,” Obama said during an interview with NBC that aired on the “Today” show.

On Syria, where human rights groups say government forces have killed hundreds of people over the last few days in an effort to contain an uprising against President Bashar Assad, Obama said it is important to resolve the conflict there without outside military intervention.

Obama said a negotiated solution in Syria is possible and said the U.S. has been “relentless” in demanding that Assad leave power.

Obama’s comments come amid increased tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere over the prospect that Israel, a key U.S. ally, could soon launch a unilateral strike against Iran. Fearing that such a step could trigger a broader war and disrupt the international economy, the U.S. and other western nations are scrambling to try to persuade Israel against a strike.

On Sunday, Obama said the U.S. was working in “lockstep” with Israel and did not believe Israel has decided whether to attack Iran, and said he hopes the standoff can be resolved diplomatically.

“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said during an interview with NBC.

Iran insists its nuclear pursuits are for peaceful civilian purposes, not a bomb.

Iran’s regime says it wants to extinguish the Jewish state, and the West accuses it of assembling the material and know-how to build a nuclear bomb. Just last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would not dispute a report that he believes Israel may attack Iran this spring in an attempt to set back its nuclear program.

Obama refused to say whether the United States would get notice from Israel before any potential strike on Iran.

“I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we’ve ever had,” Obama said, adding, “We are going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this — hopefully diplomatically.”

The United States is leading that persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making.

“Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us,” Obama said. “It could have a big effect on oil prices. We’ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran.”

As for the danger of retaliation by Iran against the United States, Obama said, “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now.”

___

Associated Press writer Ben Feller contributed to this report

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‘Israel has not made decision on Iran attack’

By REUTERS 02/06/2012 00:32

Jewish state “rightly” concerned about Tehran’s plans, US President Obama says; no evidence Islamic Republic has “intentions, capabilities” to wage attacks on American soil; Israel, US to work “in lockstep” on Iran.

US President Barack Obama [file]By REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON/TEHRAN – US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Israel had not yet decided what to do in response to the escalating tension but was “rightly” concerned about Tehran’s plans.

The US president explained that there were important risks to consider before any military strike against Iran and made clear he does not want to see more conflict in the oil-producing Gulf region.

In a television interview, Obama also said he did not believe Tehran had the “intentions or capabilities” to attack the United States, playing down the threats from Tehran and saying he wanted a diplomatic end to the nuclear standoff.

“Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices. We’ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. And so our preferred solution here is diplomatic,” Obama said.

His comments echoed concerns expressed by earlier by Iran’s neighbor Turkey that an attack on Iran would be disastrous.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Obama, who is up for re-election in November, has ended the US war in Iraq and is winding down combat in Afghanistan amid growing public discontent about American war spending at a time when the economy remains shaky.

“My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically,” he told NBC

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Face Off

The Israeli leadership is at war with itself over Iran: In one corner, Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. In the other, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

By Yossi Melman|February 9, 2012 7:00 AM|8comments

From left: Ehud Barak, Meir Dagan, and Benjamin Netanyahu. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images; Yaakov Saar/GPO/Getty Images; Abir Sultan/Getty Images)
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Can They?

An Israeli strike against the Iranian nuclear program would be tougher today than a few years ago, but it would still be likely to succeed

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan have a lot in common. They are both chubby and in their late sixties. They are both war heroes, decorated generals. And each rose to the highest positions in the Israeli defense establishment. But don’t mistake such biographical similarities for personal affinity. Barak and Dagan hate each other. Their animosity goes back years—and at the heart of their dispute is the critical question of how the Jewish state should deal with its enemies’ nuclear ambitions.

In December 2010, together with some 30 Israeli defense and political journalists, I boarded a bus that took us to a building on the top of a hill overlooking Glilot junction, five miles north of Tel Aviv. We had come to Mossad headquarters for a meeting with Dagan, who was then the head of the agency. It was supposed to be an off-the-record briefing. But this being Israel, within hours after the meeting ended, most of what Dagan told us was on the Web and in the papers.

What he said was shocking. The Mossad chief told us that Iran would obtain nuclear warheads by 2014 at the earliest, and thus, he argued, there was no need for an Israeli military strike for the time being. Dagan’s claim ran directly counter to the public line of Israel’s defense establishment: that Iran would obtain the bomb much sooner.

Since that meeting more than a year ago, Dagan has been on a crusade to stop Israel from launching an imminent military strike against Iran. He has reiterated the argument that he laid out to us in Mossad headquarters—against a strike and in favor of sanctions and covert operations—at various public events and private conversations over the past year. And though Dagan is no longer head of Mossad, his view carries tremendous weight: His perspective on a possible Israeli strike is shared by many of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet ministers and Israel’s security establishment.

Dagan’s campaign has enraged Barak and Netanyahu, who accuse him of undermining Israeli deterrence. Barak and Netanyahu support an Israeli military strike in the near future, and for the past few months, with increasing intensity, they have tried to create the impression that they are considering such an attack this year.

Which view will prevail? At stake is the future of Israel, the lives of Iranians and Israelis, the supply of oil to the United States and the West, and the stability of the whole Middle East.

***

The roots of the tension within the highest level of Israel’s political-military leadership go back nearly five years, when Barak, Dagan, and the rest of the Cabinet were faced with the delicate question of whether to bomb Syria’s nuclear reactor in the Dir al-Zur region. In summer 2007, the Cabinet, led by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, deliberated behind closed doors to discuss the assessments of Mossad and Israeli military intelligence of a big structure that Syria was secretly building near the Euphrates River. The undisputed conclusion was that Syria was constructing a reactor to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs and that the plans for the reactor had been provided by North Korea.

The Cabinet’s overwhelming decision was to order the Israeli air force to launch a military strike before radioactive materials would be introduced and it would be too late. Barak was the most senior Cabinet member to oppose the idea, and he argued that Israel could wait a few more months. Olmert, then-Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi, Dagan, and other Cabinet ministers were astonished to hear it. They suspected that Barak had a hidden agenda motivated by his own ambition to be prime minister. That summer, Barak and the Cabinet knew that within three or four months the findings of an inquiry commission investigating the 2006 Lebanon war would be released. They expected the commission would blame Olmert for major failures of the war, and thus he would be forced to resign. Barak hoped to replace him.

Over the course of a few weeks, Barak realized that he was in unsplendid isolation. Ultimately, he decided to join his Cabinet colleagues in approving the attack. (The Cabinet voted 13 to 1 to approve the attack. Avi Dichter, then minister of homeland security, opposed it.) In September 2007, eight U.S.-made Israeli F-16 fighter planes destroyed Syria’s nuclear ambitions when they bombed the reactor.

Barak’s behavior during that process caused Dagan and other military leaders to lose their faith in him. As one senior official put it, “If he zigzagged then, what assures us that his motives this time are pure?” Indeed, three years ago in private conversation, Barak opposed a military strike by Israel against Iran. So, what made him change his mind? It’s not clear. One possibility is that he wants to please Netanyahu in the hopes that the prime minister will take him aboard Likud and reinstate him in the Defense Ministry after the next elections, which are set for November 2013 but most likely will be sooner.
Dagan does not oppose a military strike as a matter of principle. But as a military man who witnessed the horrors of war, especially in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, for him an all out assault on Iran must be a last resort. “Only when there is an existential threat and the sword is on our neck” should we take military action, he told us in that meeting at Mossad headquarters.

The former Mossad chief still believes that Israel has not yet arrived at that junction. According to Israeli intelligence, Iran has already crossed the “technological threshold,” which means that the Islamic Republic has mastered the craft of producing 20 percent enriched uranium. If it wishes, it is capable of enriching it to 90 percent, which is bomb-grade material. Despite the damage inflicted on its nuclear program by Mossad, CIA, and British MI6 in a series of covert operations, Iran still has at least 5,000 operational centrifuges—a sufficient number to spin uranium to bomb level (90 percent). It has also secretly conducted numerous laboratory tests and computer simulations in the process of weaponization, the final stage in assembling the bomb. All Iran needs now is the political decision to instruct its scientists to produce a bomb.

What Dagan’s argument relies on is the belief that Iran has not yet made such a decision. In addition, once such a decision is made, Iran will need six to 18 months to produce its first crude atomic device. It will need another two years to make the bomb “deliverable,” i.e., miniaturize it to a size that can be fitted as a warhead on its Shihab 3 missile capable of reaching Israel or Saudi Arabia.

All in all, according to Dagan, Israel and the West still have time to influence the Iranian regime by toughening sanctions in the mold of what the European Union decided to do two weeks ago (i.e., to stop purchasing oil from Iran by July). That decision was just supplemented on Monday by the White House’s directive to freeze the assets of Iran’s Central Bank. Then there are covert measures, like knocking off Iranian nuclear scientists and installing computer viruses like Stuxnet. If such measures fail to affect the Iranian regime, Israel or the United States will still have a window of opportunity to strike.

This attitude is shared by the U.S. intelligence community and the Obama Administration, as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have recently expressed. In an interview with 60 Minutes late last month, Panetta said: “The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”

Barak and Netanyahu couldn’t see things more differently. In a recent article in the New York Times Magazine, Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman shared their thinking. He wrote that Barak—and I would add Netanyahu, too—is guided by three questions regarding Israel’s decision to strike. The first question is: Does Israel have the military capability to inflict severe damage on Iran’s nuclear facilities and significantly set back their progress? Question two: Will the international community sanction such an attack? And third: Is it necessary to do it now or in the near future? According to Bergman’s article, Barak is convinced that the answers to all these questions are yes, and thus Israel must attack Iran this year.

However, in recent conversations with several senior Israeli air force commanders, intelligence chiefs, and Cabinet ministers, one can come to the opposite conclusion. Many of these leaders say that Israel lacks the military capability to paralyze or set back Iran’s nuclear program three to five years. Israel has a limited fleet of fighters and bombers, which can carry a limited weaponry load. It simply doesn’t have sufficient capabilities to carry out a prolonged campaign with a multitude of sorties. Such a sustained campaign can only be carried out by the United States.

As to the second question—whether Israel has international backing—there is neither international support nor U.S. approval. And as Dagan, the majority of Israeli Cabinet ministers, the CIA, and others have made clear, there is no need to strike in the near future since there is still time before Iran produces its first bomb. Thus the answer to Barak’s three questions is no.

Those who prefer to use a military option only when “the sword is on the neck,” as Dagan put it, point to the fact that the current combination of sanctions and covert operations is working. Indeed, there are many indications that the pressure on Iran is bearing fruit. The economy is deteriorating, inflation is up to 30 percent, and the Iranian currency was recently devalued by 10 percent. Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei restated that the “cancerous tumor” of Israel should be wiped off the map. This should be understood as a sign that the regime is feeling the heat.

The mullahs are in a sort of catch-22. They aspire to have nuclear weapons as deterrence against what they believe is an Israeli-Western threat to the regime. They want the bomb as an insurance policy to ensure their own survival. But in racing to get it, they may find themselves in a war that may actually bring down their regime.

It is difficult to predict what Iran’s decision will be. Some experts tend to believe that as the international pressure increases, the Islamic Republic will slow down its program in order to stall for more time by pretending it wants to negotiate. But if they break out and rush to produce nuclear bombs, I believe that they most likely will be attacked. Not by Israel—but by the United States.

Yossi Melman is a senior writer on strategic affairs, intelligence, and nuclear issues for Haaretz. He is writing a book about the history of the Israeli intelligence community and the Mossad’s wars in the last decade.

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Exclusive: Israel Warns US Jews: Iran Could Strike Here

ABC NewsBy RICHARD ESPOSITO | ABC News – 6 hrs ago

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  • Exclusive: Israel Warns US Jews: Iran Could Strike Here (ABC News)Enlarge PhotoExclusive: Israel Warns US Jews: Iran Could Strike Here (ABC News)

Israeli facilities in North America — and around the world — are on high alert, according to an internal security document obtained by ABC News that predicted the threat from Iran against Jewish targets will increase.

“We predict that the threat on our sites around the world will increase … on both our guarded sites and ‘soft’ sites,” stated a letter circulated by the head of security for the Consul General for the Mid-Atlantic States, Eliran Avitan. Guarded sites refers to government facilities like embassies and consulates, while ‘soft sites’ means Jewish synagogues, and schools, as well as community centers like the one hit by a terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.

The head of Shin Bet, Israel‘s internal security service, told an audience at a closed forum in Tel Aviv recently that Iran is trying to hit Israeli targets because of what it believes are Israeli attacks on it nuclear scientists. Yoram Cohen said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the same militant wing of the government linked to the recent alleged plot against the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., is working tirelessly to attack Israeli and Jewish targets abroad in order to deter Israel.

Local and regional law enforcement and intelligence officials in U.S. and Canadian cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Toronto have been monitoring the situation closely for several weeks, and have stepped up patrols at Israeli government locations and Jewish cultural and religious institutions. They have issued awareness bulletins reminding officers to stay vigilant.

Federal officials in those cities told ABC News that they have also increased their efforts to watch for any threat stream pointing to an imminent attack on either Israeli facilities, Jewish cultural or religious institutions or other “soft targets.”

“When there is posturing like this, we always pay extra attention to any threat streams,” one federal official said.

“The thwarted assassination plot of a Saudi official in Washington, D.C., a couple of months ago was an important data point,” added the official, “in that it showed at least parts of the Iranian establishment were aware of the intended event and were not concerned about inevitable collateral damage to U.S. citizens had they carried out an assassination plot on American soil.”

“That was an eye opener, showing that they did not care about any collateral damage,” the federal official said.

After the disruption of the alleged plot, regional intelligence centers issued bulletins similar to the recent Israeli warning.

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“In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation in threats against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world,” one regional document noted. “Open source has reported many demonstrations against Israel are expected to be concentrated on Israeli embassies and consulates. Such demonstrations have occurred internationally as well as domestically. These demonstrations could potentially turn violent at local synagogues, restaurants, the Israeli Embassy and other Israeli sites. … Law enforcement should be vigilant when making periodic checks at all Jewish facilities.

And the Israeli bulletin warned that Israel’s own passports might be used by terrorists intent on carrying out a plot.

“According to our evaluation there is a possibility that the forged passports will be used in order to pass as Israeli citizens at the security checks in Israel and around the world. Israeli security authorities may consider an Israeli citizenship as a [criterion] to proceed with a more lenient security check in secure sites such as airports, etc.,” the letter stated.

Israeli Military Strike Against Iran?

The Israeli security bulletin came in the midst of heated rhetoric on the part of the U.S., Iranian and Israeli political religious and military leadership and follows the recent assassination of a key scientist in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. If the rhetoric is to be believed, there is a deep concern that Israel might launch a military strike against Iran during the spring of 2012.

The intelligence community assessment of that possibility, based on interviews conducted by ABC News, is considerably more nuanced, taking into account as it does the political will of the United States during an election year, the fragile nature of Great Britain’s coalition government , the willingness of other allies to join in an offensive, the roles of Russia and China and Saudi Arabia in such a confrontation, and whether Israel would really be willing to launch a unilateral strike.

“But in this situation, the political rhetoric is actually quite important,” one official told ABC News. “And that is why the official position — of the U.S, England, France, Canada, Israel and allies — is that nothing is off the table.”

An apparent shift in the Israeli/U.S. relationship has complicated matters, however, said the official. In the past, Israel would probably have given the U.S. a heads up were it to launch a strike. Now that might not be the case. Among the English-speaking allies of the U.S., say multiple intelligence officials, there is currently a very limited expectation of any early warning.

While much of the public attention has focused on Israel and the rifts within its leadership on how to respond to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the reality for Iran’s leadership is also problematic. After threatening to strangle the world oil supply through the straits of Hormuz, Iran “has boxed itself into a corner,” said one Western intelligence official. “It would be quite humiliating for them to back down.”

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The Israeli security letter sums up the resultant risks very clearly.

“In conclusion, we operate according to the information that Iran and Hezbollah are working hard and with great intensity to release a ‘quality’ attack against Israeli/Jewish sites around the world.”

Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.

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U.S. anxiety grows over possible Israeli plans on Iran

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By Mark Hosenball

LONDON | Fri Feb 3, 2012 2:33pm EST

(Reuters) – The Obama administration is increasingly anxious about Israeli leaders’ provocative public comments on Iran’s nuclear program but does not have hard proof that it will strike Iran in the next few months, U.S. and European officials said.

The U.S. uncertainty and lack of information about Israel’s plans on Iran were behind an alarming assessment of the situation reportedly voiced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the officials said.

David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who specializes in intelligence matters, reported that Panetta believed there was a “strong likelihood” that Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear program within the next six months — as early as April, Ignatius wrote.

Three U.S. officials who follow the issue said their understanding was that the United States did not have concrete intelligence suggesting an attack by Israel on Iran in that time frame was likely or actively being prepared.

The current U.S. assessment is that for months Israel had been making contingency plans and tentative preparations both for such an operation and for possible Iranian retaliation, two of the officials said.

Nonetheless, said the officials, indications were that Israel’s leadership had not made a final decision to attack Iran.

Ken Pollack, a former White House and CIA official with expertise on the Gulf, said the sudden rise in public discussion of an Israeli strike on Iran’s known nuclear sites — including increasingly dire warnings from Israel’s leaders — were misleading.

“If Israel has a good military option, they just take it, they don’t talk about it, they don’t give warnings,” said Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “So the fact that they are talking about it, to me, is one tip-off that they don’t have a good military option.

“We should never rule out the possibility of an Israeli strike and the odds have probably increased in recent months as a result of a number of different factors. But … there are a lot of disincentives that have prevented Israel from launching a strike for 10 years,” Pollack said.

VAGUE PANETTA RESPONSE

Panetta was vague when asked by journalists to confirm what the Washington Post had reported.

“Frankly, I’m not going to comment on that,” he told reporters travelling with him in Europe. “David Ignatius, you know, can write what he will but, you know, with regards to what I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else.”

When pressed further, Panetta said: “There really isn’t that much to add except that, you know, that they’re considering this and, you know, we have indicated our concerns.”

Asked about the background to Panetta’s reported views, one of the U.S. officials noted that Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, had been “increasingly vocal” in expressing concern that Israel might be “running out of time” to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. The official said that some Israelis have indicated their view that in the next three or four months the need for Israeli action could become critical.

But the view of many career experts inside the U.S. government is that Iran’s nuclear development program, which Tehran insists is for civilian nuclear purposes, is unlikely to pass the point of no return in that time frame.

Earlier this week, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress and publicly re-stated the long-standing view of U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran’s leaders have not yet decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Many, if not most, Western experts believe it would take Iran at least a year to build a weapon once leaders decided to go ahead.

But some Israel leaders and experts believe that an attack would have to be launched earlier if Iran’s nuclear effort is to be set back seriously. Barak has warned that Iran’s nuclear research could soon pass into what he called a “zone of immunity,” protected from outside disruption.

Barak recently was quoted telling a security conference in Israel, “Later is too late,” one of the U.S. officials noted. The official said that U.S. policymakers had to be concerned about the possibility of an early Israeli attack “given that Barak and Netanyahu seem so determined to do it.”

In January an Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by man who attached a bomb to his car — the fifth such attack in two years. Israel’s military chief said Iran could expect more such incidents.

POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS IN U.S.

One of the U.S. officials said that while Israel may have the military capability to delay Iran’s nuclear effort for a period of time, to deal the Iranian program a serious and long-term setback would require additional military power, presumably from the United States.

But Panetta’s alleged remarks and other Obama administration’s statements indicate the White House is focused on dissuading Israel from taking action – and distancing itself from an Israel strike if persuasion fails.

A strike on Iran and Iran’s response, including attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is vital for oil shipments, could seriously harm the U.S. economy, jeopardizing President Barack Obama’s chances for re-election. Obama also would likely come under intense domestic pressure to back Israel’s actions.

“The U.S. is not too excited about engaging with Israel or being part of anything at this point,” one official said.

A European defense analyst, who has access to classified all-source intelligence, said that while Iran’s behavior was relatively predictable, the greatest uncertainties facing the U.S. and its allies stemmed from Israel’s stance.

Despite internal power squabbles, the analyst said, Iran has been “quite restrained and limited in its responses.” Recent inflammatory comments by Iranian leaders, such as threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, were relatively low-intensity compared to other threats and physical confrontations in the Gulf of past years.

“Israel is, practically speaking, the wild card in the pack,” the analyst said. “We have no specific information on when or if they will attack but based on their past history and current stance, it is something we do expect at some point.”

(Additional reporting by Stephen Grey in London and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Editing by Warren Strobel and Bill Trott)

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‘Engineering War on Iran: All Options on the Table?’

Published: 03 February, 2012, 17:28

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it conducts operations in the Gulf (AFP Photo / US Navy)

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it conducts operations in the Gulf (AFP Photo / US Navy)

TAGS: Arms, Conflict, Nuclear, Politics, Iran, War

Question: How do you convince the world that – even though you’re armed to the teeth and have a bad track record of invading countries – you really have “no choice” but make a “pre-emptive military strike” against another country you don’t like?

Question: How do you convince the world that – even though you’re armed to the teeth and have a bad track record of invading countries – you really have “no choice” but make a “pre-emptive military strike” against another country you don’t like?

This must be the question over which the political, military and psychological warfare planners are wracking their brains in the key global power elite decision-making centres in New York, London, Tel-Aviv and Washington….

No, I’m not referring to the State Department, Pentagon, White House, Congress and their counterparts in Britain and Europe. Those folks just take their orders and execute them.

I’m referring to the real decision-makers at Bilderberg, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations and AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) meetings.

And if the governments don’t come to any solution well then, as Baby Bush used to say, “All options are on the table”.

At least that’s what militant pro-Israeli Zionist Andrew B. Adler – owner and publisher of the “Atlanta Jewish Times” – recommends in an article published on page 3 of his newspaper on January 13.Adler wants Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to act now against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, either severally or jointly; and to:

1. “Order a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah and Hamas.”

2. “…Order the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities at all costs”

3. “Give the go-ahead for US-based Mossad agents to take out a President deemed unfriendly in order for the current Vice-President to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies”

The above is a verbatim quote from Mr Adler’s article, “What would you do?” And to make sure we all get the message, Mr Adler went on to add, “Yes, you read (option) 3 correctly.Order a hit on a President in order to preserve Israel’s existence.Think about it.If I have thought of this…scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?”

So, now we have militant Zionists in the US suggesting that Israel’s spy agency Mossad should assassinate President Barack Obama so that Joe Biden can take his place; the very same “much more trustworthy” Biden who on 7th April 2007 said on Israel’s Shalom TV “You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.I’m a Zionist!”

Now imagine what would happen if the boys at Mossad, helped by the boys at the CIA and MI6, were to follow Andy Adler’s recommendations and really pull that awful dirty trick, and then engineer mass media PsyWar hysteria producing “evidence” that puts the blame on Iran for such a crime?Or on Syria?Or Hamas?Or Hezbollah??

A Sitting Duck…

Meanwhile, on the military front it appears the US calmed “Wildcard Israel” down somewhat by promising joint military exercises, now pushed back to October.

Anyway, Israel is not happy with US foot-dragging on Iran.Even though the US sent 15000 troops to Kuwait; hi-tech military gear to the United Arab Emirates; reinforced the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain; dispatched aircraft carriers “USS Lincoln”, “USS Stennis”, “USS Vinson”, nuke subs and the helicopter carrier “USS Ponce” for immediate Persian Gulf duty. Plus: drones, bunker buster bombs, missiles, warships, fighters, bombers… That’s a lot of hi-tech military hardware in that region to “defend Israel”!

Strangely, however, one piece of equipment seems out of place: the “USS Enterprise”, America’s oldest (half-century) nuclear aircraft carrier: a rather obsolete, slow, clumsy old tub; a veritable museum piece, so old it’s due for decommissioning and break-up next year.What’s the “USS Enterprise” doing in the Persian Gulf??

Perhaps, inspired by Mr Adler’s “Option 3” – “let’s assassinate the president and blame it on Iran” – someone’s also planning to stage an attack on the Enterprise and blame it on Iran?A Casus Belli, indeed!!

For those of us who have so many, many questions about such seemingly False Flag attacks as September 11, 2001, it would be “déjà vu all over again.”

Remember: analogous to the “Enterprise”, the World Trade Centre was old, expensive to maintain, and due to have its tons and tons of now banned cancerous asbestos linings (installed in the 60’s) torn out and replaced at a cost of over one billion Dollars.I doubt Larry Silverstein, who acquired the WTC only six weeks earlier, took that too lightly.

Anyway, since 9/11 Larry walks the streets of Manhattan with a big smile on his face after a New York Court awarded him the right to collect indemnity from his insurers for two claims instead of just one (cashing 7 billion dollars instead of 3.5 billion dollars…!)

Coming back to Iran: in the ensuing scandal generated by his article, Mr Adler apologized for his excessively candid Chutzpah, and resigned as publisher of the “Atlanta Jewish Times”.He still owns it, however…

Anyway, let’s wait and see what the next move on this Grand Chessboard will be.

By the way, I’m still wondering who shot JFK…

­Adrian Salbuchi for RT

Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and international radio/TV commentator from Argentina. http://www.asalbuchi.com

Disclaimer: ­The views and opinions expressed in the story are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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hmm….

israel-missile-strike

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Israel Threatens to Return Syria to Stone Age if Hezbollah Launches Scuds


President Obama’s Middle East foreign policy suffered a major blow last week when it was disclosed Syrian President Bashar Assad has transferred long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah. The Israelis are obviously very concerned. They are threatening immediate retaliation against Syria itself if these long range ballistic missiles are launched against Israel. Off-the-record, an Israeli minister said,

“We’ll return Syria to the Stone Age by crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us.”

Times Online reported:
“We’ll return Syria to the Stone Age by crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us,” said an Israeli minister, who who was speaking off-the-record, last week

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Why Israel Can’t Wait:

The Coming War Between Israel and Iran [Paperback]

Jerome R Corsi (Author)

Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Israel is small enough that one nuclear bomb could destroy the modern Jewish state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran’s nuclear program leaves Israel poised on the edge of an abyss, and once Iran gets the atom bomb, war is inevitable. In June 2009, Israel conducted its biggest civil defense drill ever, a possible signal that Israel is considering what is called the “Samson option”: an Israeli first-strike attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. ??President Obama seems determined to pursue direct negotiation with Iran, but fundamentalist jihadists interpret compromise as weakness. New York Times bestselling author Jerome Corsi chillingly argues that Israel’s next war will be with Iran—unless the United States takes a much stronger stance on Iran’s nuclear program and pursues a goal of regime change there. This terrifying scenario, he warns, could occur as soon as the end of 2009. While writing Why Israel Can’t Wait, Jerome Corsi visited Israel, conducting interviews with top Israeli government and military officials. He was able to gain access to information in Israel that has not previously been available publicly. Why Israel Can’t Wait is cutting-edge news, an in-depth analysis of what is happening now in Israel, and why Americans cannot afford to leave the clock ticking.

About the Author

Dr. Jerome Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality and the co-author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, which was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is a regular contributor to WorldNetDaily.com.

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Dec 24, 2007

Iran, Israel and Nuclear War: An Illustrative Scenario Analysis


Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) –
“Iran, Israel and Nuclear War: An Illustrative Scenario Analysis”

“There is no way to predict the forces each side
will have in the future, or how they might target those forces and use them in war. It does seem clear, however, that both sides would probably be forced to target the other’s population centers in any scenario that escalated beyond an initial demonstrative strike…”

Brief summary on Jpost.com –
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1196847416688&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Link to the CSIS website – http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_pubs/task,view/id,4172/type,1/

Hit the picture or click on the link for the whole report –
http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/071119_iran.is&nuclearwar.pdf

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The Conclusive Solution For Lasting Peace In The Middle East: Israel’s Overwhelming Nuclear Arsenal

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By Hal Licino

All of this conventional military might, however, is not seen to be enough in the eyes of many Israeli strategists. A massed attack by several Arab armies could overwhelm the conventional forces and quickly invade the tiny nation. Thus, the decision to “go nuclear” was not made to nullify Israeli conventional forces, but to supplement them with a powerful deterrent.

Surrounded by hostile Arab nations, the newborn state of Israel made an early commitment to obtaining nuclear weapons. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, openly advocated an Israeli A-bomb program as a strong deterrent and safeguard against invasion. In 1955, under Eisenhower’s “Atoms For Peace” program, both Israel and Egypt signed nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States, and Israel acquired a small reactor which it installed at Nahal Soreq. In 1957, the Israeli cabinet decided to build a nuclear reactor of its own at Dimona, which became operational in 1964. Unlike the first reactor, this one was capable of reprocessing its spent plutonium into approximately two bombs a year. Technological collaboration was provided by France, who actually supplied the reactor mechanisms.

Fuel for the Dimona reactor was partially processed from Dead Sea and Negev desert phosphates, but was also obtained from foreign sources. France is widely believed to have supplied the initial four tons, with other loads possibly coming from South Africa, Argentina, and private corporations in the United States.

One of these companies, the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. in Pennsylvania, was singled out by former CIA Deputy Director Carl Duckett as diverting uranium to Israel. Milco International Co., of Huntington Beach, CA, was indicted in 1985 by a Los Angeles grand jury for providing Israel with 800 krytrons: a tiny timing-switch which can be used for triggering atomic weapons. The number is interesting as only one krytron is required per weapon, and if Israel does control 800 nuclear weapons it would be a fact that would astound even the most imaginative nuclear weapons analysts.

Israel’s intelligence forces have been very successful in masquerading both the extent and the very existence of the country’s nuclear weapons program, various estimates by nuclear weapons analysts estimate that Israel possesses between 50 to 400 active nuclear weapons. These weapons are primarily of the Teller-Ulam design which yields an explosive range of around one megaton, approximately 80 times greater than the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima.

Israel’s Jericho III is a high-impact ballistic missile which can deliver nuclear warheads to a distance of up to 4,500 miles. They key to the effectiveness of this missile is that it reaches an exceptionally high impact speed, an ability which allows it to easily evade any known ballistic missile defenses.

When seen on a map of the world, the range of the Jericho III is definitely impressive. Israel can hit the vast majority of the Eastern Hemisphere at will, including targets as far away as Thailand, South Africa and Iceland!

The International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei formally regards Israel as a state possessing nuclear weapons, and it can thus be concluded that although the full extent of its arsenal is likely to remain shrouded, Israel currently has nuclear weapons, and this number could be in the several hundreds: Definitely enough to render the entire Middle Eastern region uninhabitable for millennia.

Continued In The Conclusive Solution For Lasting Peace In The Middle East: An Attack On Israel Is An Attack On The USA

Back To Start

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Planned US Israeli Attack on Iran: Will there be a War against Iran?
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, May 14, 2008
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The media has failed to cover the history of US war preparations directed against Iran. News coverage of US sponsored war preparations in relation to Iran started to surface in early 2007 in scanty press reports.

Although confirmed by official military documents and reports, public opinion has largely been kept in the dark and misinformed on these war preparations.

A war on Iran has been envisaged since the mid-1990s as part of a strategic “sequencing” of theater operations. During the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran:

“The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.” 

(USCENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#USPolicy , emphasis  added)

Consistent with CENTCOM’s 1995 “sequencing”, the plans to target Iran were activated under TIRANNT (Theater Iran Near Term) in the immediate wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. TIRANNT consisted in a model scenario type analysis of a theater war directed against Iran. The analysis, which involved senior military and intelligence experts, consisted in examining different theater scenarios.

“The US army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command [resigned in March 2008], has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).” (New Statesman, 19 Feb 2007)

The following text (in annex) entitled Planned US Israeli Attack on Iran was published three years ago by Global Research in May 2005. It outlines the earlier phase of US-Israel war preparations in relation to Iran.

(See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO505A.html)

While much of this analysis remains valid, military planning in relation to Iran is now in a much more advanced stage. Moreover, the structure of military alliances underlying the Pentagon’s war plans has also evolved. NATO is now part of the military alliance.

Under NATO auspices, in liaison with the Pentagon, British, German, Turkish and French forces are slated to play a significant role in the case of an attack on Iran and Syria.

In this regard, it is worth noting that already in 2005, NATO and Israel had established the basis of a far-reaching military cooperation agreement. In turn, Turkey, which from a military standpoint constitutes a significant force within NATO, has a comprehensive bilateral military cooperation agreement with Israel.

According to military documents and statements, US, Israeli and allied forces are “in an advanced state of readiness”. In fact much of the war planning had already reached that “advanced stage” in 2005.

Several important variables come into play in assessing the possibility of an all out war on Iran.

“An advanced stage of readiness” to attack Iran does not signify that a war will actually occur. A number of important countervailing factors must be addressed.

Saber Rattling

Apart from outright war, the US sponsored war preparations serve several other foreign policy objectives. 

The threat of war coupled by advanced military preparedness are often used to bully countries into compliance, to oblige them to give up their sovereignty, to open up their economy to Western investors, to privatize and sell off their assets to American companies, etc. These threats will only be effective if the country does not have the ability to defend itself militarily. The strength of its national economy is also a major consideration.

The Sabre rattling is ongoing in relation to Iran. The objective is ultimately to subdue Iran as a regional power and take possession of its oil wealth, which constitutes approximately ten percent of total world reserves.

What are Iran’s military capabilities, namely its ability to defend itself and inflict damage on US and allied forces? 

The answer to this question involves essentially two aspects. 

First, Iran has an advanced air defense system, using both Iranian and Russian technology. Moreover, it has, according to Western military experts, perfected its ballistic missile capabilities to the extent that it is capable of inflicting significant damage on US and allied military installations in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Israel.

Over the last few years, Iran has been actively preparing for a US sponsored attack. Moreover, resulting from the surge in oil revenues, the Tehran government has enhanced capabilities to finance its military preparedness. In this regard, Iran is in a very different situation to that of Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion, targeted by Anglo-American air attacks under the “No Fly Zone” coupled with more than ten years of deadly economic sanctions.

US military planners are fully aware of the possibility of escalation. If extensive air attacks were to be launched, Iranian conventional forces would immediately cross the border into Iraq and attack US military installations. This is a factor which has contributed to “putting the war on hold”.

Instead of extensive bombings which would result in retaliation. Washington may decide as a first step in a broader military campaign to launch limited air attacks, on the presumption that Iran would not retaliate.  According to Philip Giraldi, the attack would “be as ‘pinpoint’ and limited as possible, intended to target only al-Qods and avoid civilian casualties.” Before launching a “limited attack”, the US would attempt to ensure, through threat and secret negotiations, that retaliation would not occur.

The US Military’s “Ability to Fight Wars”

Adm. William Fallon, who was recently fired as Commander of US Central Command (USCENTCOM) was acutely aware of Iran’s ability to retaliate militarily and inflict significant losses to US and coalition forces. This understanding was in fact conveyed at the outset of the 2003 war scenarios under TIRANNT.

Prior to his dimissal, Admiral Fallon played down the possibility of a war with Iran: “We are not going to do Iran on my watch.”.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, while broadly supportive of the Bush-Cheney White House, has officially acknowledged US military weaknesses. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “may have undermined the military’s ability to fight wars against major adversaries – including Iran.” ( quoted in Haaretz, October 22, 2007).

In an interview with the New York Times, Mullen stated:

“…the risks could be very, very high…. We’re in a conflict in two countries out there right now… We have to be incredibly thoughtful about the potential of in fact getting into a conflict with a third country in that part of the world.”  

These statements were made at the very outset of his mandate as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2007. 

Mullen’s hesitations to wage war on Iran are not based on a divergent political stance but on a realistic assessment of US military capabilities. Admiral Mullen recognizes that the US military is overstretched and that in relation to Iraq, the US military is facing serious problems in military recruitment. 

Moreover, tacitly acknowledged by the Pentagon, US and coalition forces are facing fierce resistance in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Appointment of General David Petraeus as Head of USCENTCOM

The appointment of General David Petraeus to the Head of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) has served to neutralize potential opposition within the US Armed Forces. It reinforces Vice President Cheney’s ability to order an attack and ensure that the Military will fully support the Bush administration.

The objective is to  “set up Iran for attack” using Iran’s alleged intervention in Iraq as a pretext and justification, “on [the] grounds that Iran … is responsible for the mounting death toll among American troops in Iraq.” (See Iran should be “Set Up for an Attack” by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, May 2008). Iran is also accused of intervening in Afghanstan and Lebanon. In this regard, the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon are part of the roadmap of a broader war directed against Iran and Syria. (See Mahdi D. Nazemroaya, Global Research, May 2007)

Armed Clashes in Lebanon

The recent armed clashes in Lebanon opposing Hizbollah to the US-Israeli supported May 14th Movement, have precipitated the country into chaos. Fighting erupted after the pro-US Siniora government announced a crackdown on Hizbollah.

Hizbollah has taken control of parts of West Beirut setting the stage for a NATO “peacekeeping” intervention inside Lebanon.  A greater involvement of NATO coupled with the militarization of the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline is an integral part of the Iran-Syria war scenario:  “a peacekeeping” role by NATO forces, on behalf of Israel, targetting Syria as well as Hizbollah and Hamas.

These recent events in Lebanon have been triggered quite deliberately with a view to destabilzing the country. They are part of the US sponsored military roadmap; they are intended to set the stage for a confrontation with Syria.

The Structure of Military Alliances

The structure of military alliances is crucial. America’s allies are Israel and NATO.

Iran’s allies are China and Russia and the member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Both China and Russia have far-reaching bilateral military cooperation agreements with Iran. Since 2005, Iran has an observer member status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In turn, the SCO has ties to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an overlapping military cooperation agreement between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan,  Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan.

In October 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, laying the foundations for military cooperation between the two organizations. This SCO-CSTO agreement, barely mentioned by the Western media, involves the creation of a full-fledged military alliance between China, Russia and the member states of SCO/CSTO. It is worth noting that the SCTO and the SCO held joint military exercises in 2006, which coincided with those conducted by Iran. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Russia and Central Asian Allies Conduct War Games in Response to US Threats, Global Research, August 2006)

In the context of US war plans directed against Iran, the US is also intent upon weakening Iran’s allies, namely Russia and China. In the case of China, Washington is seaking to disrupt Beijing’s bilateral ties with Tehran as well as Iran’s rapprochement with the SCO, which has its headquarters in Beijing.

In this regard,  a military operation directed against Iran can only succeed if the structure of military alliances which link Iran to China and Russia is significantly weakened.

There are indicaitons that this Eurasian military alliance underlying the SCO has in fact been strengthened. While currently Iran has observer status, the Tehran government has indicated its desire to become a full member of the SCO.  Moreover, in the course of the last year, Iran has strengthened its bilateral ties in the field of energy and oil and gas pipelines with India as well as Pakistan. The positioning of India on the side of Iran in the oil and energy field is another factor which weakens Washington’s influence in the region.

“What Tehran is seaking is “nothing less than a blueprint for a new correlation of nations in Eurasia, whose collaboration in developing continental infrastucture–nuclear energy, gas and oil pipelines, and transportation–should establish the economic, and therefore political, basis for true independence” (see Muriel Mirak Weissbach, May 2008)

History points to the importance of competing military alliances.  In the present context, the US and its NATO partners are seaking to undermine the formation of a cohesive Eurasian SCO-CSTO military alliance, which could effectively challenge and contain US-NATO military expansionism in Eurasia, combining the military capabilities not only of Russia and China, but also those of several former Soviet republics including Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Decision to go to War: Not a Rational Choice

The decision to go to war is not made by the Military high command.

The decision to go to war is taken by civilians.

The US Military is characterised by a hierarchy and command structure. Orders come from above, emanating from the “civilian government”, namely the Bush administration. They  are transmitted downwards through the military command structure. Once the order to go to war is taken, it is not discussed or debated, it is carried out by the military. Moreover, in all likelihood, in implementing a “preemptive attack” on Iran, the Bush administration would bypass the US Congress, in blatant violation of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

In practice, the President and Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush, does not decide. He also obeys orders from above. He follows the diktats of powerful financial and corporate interests.

This war is profit-driven. “War is good for business”. It is a money making operation. It results in billions of dollar of profits for Wall Street, the oil giants and the military industrial complex, not to mention the institutional speculators in the oil, currency and commodity markets.

The objective of the proposed war is to extend the frontiers of the global capitalist economy, eventually taking control of Iran’s oil wealth. The broader implications of a war using tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater are of no concern to those who decide to go to war.

The Central Role of Vice President Dick Cheney

In contrast to previous adminstrations, the Vice President has played a central role in the Bush adminstration, overshadowing the office of the President. In practice, Vice President Cheney, supported by an army of senior officials and loyal advisers, controls the White House. At the same time, Cheney is part of a powerful corporate apparatus, through his links to Halliburton and the role Halliburton has played in defining a profit-driven military agenda.

Cheney has personally played a key roie in activating war plans directed against Iran.

“At the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell. He hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”.” (Michel Chossudovsky, May 2005)

Cheney is the de facto Head of State, he overshadows George W. Bush, who is mere figurehead. More recently, he has played a key role in pressuring the frontline Arab states into supporting a preemptive attack on Iran.

Vice President Cheney has little concern for the likely consequences and the resulting loss of life which would result from the use of both conventional and nuclear weapons. He is fully aware that even a limited air attack on Iran could contribute to unleashing a broader Middle East-Central Asian war, extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier. The various scenarios of this broader war have already been envisaged.

Most serious Crisis in Modern History

We are at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. These war plans coincide with a parallel process of economic restructuring and a deepseated Worldwide economic depression. War and globalization are intimately related processes. The militarisation of the Middle East and Central Asia supports the extension of the global “free market” system into new frontiers.

In turn, the war has heightened the economic crisis. The civilian economy is collapsing, overshadowed and undermined by the dynamic growth of the military industrial complex, which in a very real sense produces “weapons of mass destruction. In turn, the concurrent hikes in the price of crude oil, in the price of basic food staples, through speculative activities on major commodity exchanges have contributed to impoverishing millions of people.

“The antiwar movement must act, consistently, to prevent the next phase of this war from happening.

This is no easy matter. The holding of large antiwar rallies will not in itself reverse the tide of war.

High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war agenda.

What is required is a grass roots network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the military and political actors, and which is ultimately instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name.

War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.

To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems)  must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled.

The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.

Antiwar sentiment does not dismantle a war agenda. The war criminals in the US, Israel and Britain must be removed from high office. 

What is needed is to reveal the true face of the American Empire and the underlying criminalization of US foreign policy, which uses the “war on terrorism” and the threat of Al Qaeda to galvanize public opinion in support of a global war agenda.” (Michel Chossudovsky, May 1st 2005) 

Michel Chossudovsky,  May 14, 2008



ANNEX: TEXT OF 2005 ARTICLE 

Planned US Israeli Attack on Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky

May 1st, 2005

At the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell. He hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”: 

“One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked… Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,”  (quoted from an MSNBC Interview Jan 2005)

Israel is a Rottweiler on a leash: The US wants to “set Israel loose” to attack Iran. Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

“Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.”

The foregoing statements are misleading. The US is not “encouraging Israel”. What we are dealing with is a joint US-Israeli military operation to bomb Iran, which has been in the active planning stage for more than a year. The Neocons in the Defense Department, under Douglas Feith, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran ( Seymour Hersh, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HER501A.html )

Under this working arrangement, Israel will not act unilaterally, without a green light from Washington. In other words, Israel will not implement an attack without the participation of the US.

Covert Intelligence Operations: Stirring Ethnic Tensions in Iran

Meanwhile, for the last two years, Washington has been involved in covert intelligence operations inside Iran. American and British intelligence and special forces (working with their Israeli counterparts) are involved in this operation.

“A British intelligence official said that any campaign against Iran would not be a ground war like the one in Iraq. The Americans will use different tactics, said the intelligence officer. ‘It is getting quite scary.'” (Evening Standard, 17 June 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/FOX306A.html )

The expectation is that a US-Israeli bombing raid of Iran’s nuclear facilities will stir up ethnic tensions and trigger “regime change” in favor of the US. (See Arab Monitor,  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/ARA502A.html ).

Bush advisers believe that the “Iranian opposition movement” will unseat the Mullahs. This assessment constitutes a gross misjudgment of social forces inside Iran. What is more likely to occur is that Iranians will consistently rally behind a wartime government against foreign aggression. In fact, the entire Middle East and beyond would rise up against US interventionism.

Retaliation in the Case of a US-Israeli Aerial Attack

Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel (CNN, 8 Feb 2005). These attacks, could also target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

In other words, the air strikes against Iran could contribute to unleashing a war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region.

Moreover, the planned attack on Iran should also be understood in relation to the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, which has opened up a new space, for the deployment of Israeli forces. The participation of Turkey in the US-Israeli military operation is also a factor, following an agreement reached between Ankara and Tel Aviv.

In other words, US and Israeli military planners must carefully weigh the far-reaching implications of their actions.

Israel Builds up its Stockpile of Deadly Military Hardware

A massive buildup in military hardware has occurred in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

Israel has recently taken delivery from the US of some 5,000  “smart air launched weaponsincluding some 500 BLU 109 ‘bunker-buster bombs.     The (uranium coated) munitions are said to be more than “adequate to address the full range of Iranian targets, with the possible exception of the buried facility at Natanz, which may require the [more powerful] BLU-113 bunker buster “:

 “Given Israel’s already substantial holdings of such weapons, this increase in its inventory would allow a sustained assault with or without further US involvement.” (See Richard Bennett, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BEN501A.html )

Gbu 28 Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28)

 
The Israeli Air Force would attack Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr using US as well Israeli produced bunker buster bombs. The attack would be carried out in three separate waves “with the radar and communications jamming protection being provided by U.S. Air Force AWACS and other U.S. aircraft in the area”. (See W Madsen, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MAD410A.html

Bear in mind that the bunker buster bombs can also be used to deliver tactical nuclear bombs. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb. (See Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO112C.html , see also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris ) .

According to the Pentagon, tactical nuclear weapons are “safe for civilians”. Their use has been authorized by the US Senate. (See Miochel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405A.html

Moreover, reported in late 2003, Israeli Dolphin-class submarines equipped with US Harpoon missiles armed with nuclear warheads are now aimed at Iran. (See Gordon Thomas, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/THO311A.html

Even if tactical nuclear weapons are not used by Israel, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities not only raises the specter of a broader war, but also of nuclear radiation over a wide area:

“To attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will not only provoke war, but it could also unleash clouds of radiation far beyond the targets and the borders of Iran.” (Statement of Prof Elias Tuma, Arab Internet Network, Federal News Service, 1 March 2005)

Moreover, while most reports have centered on the issue of punitive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the strikes would most probably extend to other targets.

While a ground war is contemplated as a possible “scenario” at the level of military planning, the US military would not be able to wage a an effective ground war, given the situation in Iraq. In the words of former National Security Adviser Lawrence Eagelberger:

“We are not going to get in a ground war in Iran, I hope. If we get into that, we are in serious trouble. I don’t think anyone in Washington is seriously considering that.” ( quoted in the National Journal, 4 December 2004).

Iran’s Military Capabilities

Despite its overall weaknesses in relation to Israel and the US, Iran has an advanced air defense system, deployed to protect its nuclear sites; “they are dispersed and underground making potential air strikes difficult and without any guarantees of success.” (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 2005). It has upgraded its Shahab-3 missile, which can reach targets in Israel. Iran’s armed forces have recently conducted high-profile military exercises in anticipation of a US led attack. Iran also possesses some 12 X-55 strategic cruise missiles, produced by the Ukraine.  Iran’s air defense systems is said to feature Russian SA-2, SA-5, SA-6 as well as shoulder-launched SA-7 missiles (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies).

The US “Military Road Map”

The Bush administration has officially identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”.

Targeting Iran is a bipartisan project, which broadly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil conglomerates, the Wall Street financial establishment and the military-industrial complex.

The broader Middle East-Central Asian region encompasses more than 70% of the World’s reserves of oil and natural gas. Iran possesses 10% of the world’s oil and ranks third after Saudi Arabia (25 %) and Iraq (11 %) in the size of its reserves. In comparison, the US possesses less than 2.8 % of global oil reserves. (See Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/WAD412A.html )

The announcement to target Iran should come as no surprise. It is part of the battle for oil. Already during the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade both Iraq and Iran:

“The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.

(USCENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#USPolicy , emphasis added)

Main Military Actors

While the US, Israel, as well as Turkey (with borders with both Iran and Syria) are the main actors in this process, a number of other countries, in the region, allies of the US, including several Central Asian former Soviet republics have been enlisted. Britain is closely involved despite its official denials at the diplomatic level. Turkey occupies a central role in the Iran operation. It has an extensive military cooperation agreement with Israel. There are indications that NATO is also formally involved in the context of an Israel-NATO agreement reached in November 2004. 

Planning The Aerial Attack on Iran

According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, George W. Bush has already signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran, scheduled for June.(See  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/JEN502A.html )

The June cut-off date should be understood. It does not signify that the attack will occur in June. What it suggests is that the US and Israel are “in a state of readiness” and are prepared to launch an attack by June or at a later date. In other words, the decision to launch the attack has not been made.

Ritter’s observation concerning an impending military operation should nonetheless be taken seriously. In recent months, there is ample evidence that a major military operation is in preparation:

1) several high profile military exercises have been conducted in recent months, involving military deployment and the testing of weapons systems.

2) military planning meetings have been held between the various parties involved. There has been a shuttle of military and government officials between Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara.

3)  A significant change in the military command structure in Israel has occurred, with the appointment of a new Chief of Staff.

4)  Intense diplomatic exchanges have been carried out at the international level with a view to securing areas of military cooperation and/or support for a US-Israeli led military operation directed against Iran.

5) Ongoing intelligence operations inside Iran have been stepped up.

6) Consensus Building: Media propaganda on the need to intervene in Iran has been stepped up, with daily reports on how Iran constitutes a threat to peace and global security.

Timeline of Key Initiatives

In the last few months, various key initiatives have been taken, which are broadly indicative that an aerial bombing of Iran is in the military pipeline:

November 2004 in Brussels: NATO-Israel protocol: Israel’s IDF delegation to the NATO conference to met with military brass of six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.  “NATO seeks to revive the framework, known as the Mediterranean Dialogue program, which would include Israel. The Israeli delegation accepted to participate in military exercises and “anti-terror maneuvers” together with several Arab countries. 

January 2005: the US, Israel and Turkey held military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean , off the coast of Syria. These exercises, which have been held in previous years were described as routine. 

February 2005. Following the decision reached in Brussels in November 2004, Israel was involved for the first time in military exercises with NATO, which also included several Arab countries.

February 2005: Assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination, which was blamed on Syria, serves Israeli and US interests and was used as a pretext to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

February 2005: Sharon fires his Chief-of-Staff, Moshe Ya’alon and appoints Air Force General Dan Halutz. This is the first time in Israeli history that an Air Force General is appointed Chief of Staff (See Uri Avnery, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/AVN502A.html )

The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz as IDF Chief of Staff is considered in Israeli political circles as  “the appointment of the right man at the right time.” The central issue is that a major aerial operation against Iran is in the planning stage, and Maj General Halutz is slated to coordinate the aerial bombing raids on Iran. Halutz’s appointment was specifically linked to Israel’s Iran agenda:  “As chief of staff, he will in the best position to prepare the military for such a scenario.”

March 2005: NATO’s Secretary General was in Jerusalem for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon and Israel’s military brass, following the joint NATO-Israel military exercise in February.  These military cooperation ties are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” The premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that Israel is under attack: 

“The more Israel’s image is strengthened as a country facing enemies who attempt to attack it for no justified reason, the greater will be the possibility that aid will be extended to Israel by NATO. Furthermore, Iran and Syria will have to take into account the possibility that the increasing cooperation between Israel and NATO will strengthen Israel’s links with Turkey, also a member of NATO. Given Turkey’s impressive military potential and its geographic proximity to both Iran and Syria, Israel’s operational options against them, if and when it sees the need, could gain considerable strength. “ (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies, http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v7n4p4Shalom.html )

The Israel-NATO protocol is all the more important because it obligates NATO to align itself with the US-Israeli plan to bomb Iran, as an act of self defense on the part of Israel. It also means that NATO is also involved in the process of military consultations relating to the planned aerial bombing of Iran. It is of course related to the bilateral military cooperation agreement between Israel and Turkey and the likelihood that part of the military operation will be launched from Turkey, which is a member of NATO.

Late March 2005: News leaks in Israel indicated an “initial authorization” by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon of an Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant “if diplomacy failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program”. (The Hindu, 28 March 2005)

March-April 2005: The Holding in Israel of Joint US-Israeli military exercises specifically pertaining to the launching of Patriot missiles.

US Patriot missile crews stationed in Germany were sent to Israel to participate in the joint Juniper Cobra exercise with the Israeli military. The exercise was described as routine and “unconnected to events in the Middle East”: “As always, we are interested in implementing lessons learned from training exercises.” (UPI, 9 March 2005).

April 2005:  Donald Rumsfeld was on an official visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. His diplomatic endeavors were described by the Russian media as “literally circling Iran in an attempt to find the best bridgehead for a possible military operation against that country.”

In Baku, Azerbaijan Rumsfeld was busy discussing the date for deployment of US troops in Azerbaijan on Iran’s North-Western border. US military bases described as “mobile groups” in Azerbaijan are slated to play a role in a military operation directed against Iran.

Azerbaijan is a member of GUUAM, a military cooperation agreement with the US and NATO, which allows for the stationing of US troops in several of the member countries, including Georgia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.  The stated short term objective is to “neutralize Iran”. The longer term objective under the Pentagon’s  “Caspian Plan” is to exert military and economic control over the entire Caspian sea basin, with a view to ensuring US authority over oil reserves and pipeline corridors.

During his visit in April, Rumsfeld was pushing the US initiative of establishing “American special task forces and military bases to secure US influence in the Caspian region:

“Called Caspian Watch, the project stipulates a network of special task forces and police units in the countries of the regions to be used in emergencies including threats to objects of the oil complex and pipelines. Project Caspian Watch will be financed by the United States ($100 million). It will become an advance guard of the US European Command whose zone of responsibility includes the Caspian region. Command center of the project with a powerful radar is to be located in Baku.” ( Defense and Security Russia, April 27, 2005)

Rumsfeld’s visit followed shortly after that of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s to Baku.

April 2005: Iran signs a military cooperation with Tajikistan, which occupies a strategic position bordering Afghanistan’s Northern frontier. Tajikistan is a member of “The Shanghai Five” military cooperation group, which also includes Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. Iran also has economic cooperation agreements with Turkmenistan. 

Mid April 2005: Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets George W Bush at his Texas Ranch. Iran is on the agenda of bilateral talks. More significantly, the visit of Ariel Sharon was used to carry out high level talks between US and Israeli military planners pertaining to Iran.

Late April 2005. President Vladmir Putin is in Israel on an official visit. He announces Russia’s decision to sell short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria and to continue supporting Iran’s nuclear industry. Beneath the gilded surface of international diplomacy, Putin’s timely visit to Israel must be interpreted as “a signal to Israel” regarding its planned aerial attack on Iran.

Late April 2005: US pressure in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been exerted with a view to blocking the re-appointment of Mohammed Al Baradei, who according to US officials “is not being tough enough on Iran…”  Following US pressures, the vote on the appointment of a new IAEA chief was put off until June. These developments suggest that Washington wants to put forth their own hand-picked nominee prior to launching US-Israeli aerial attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. (See VOA, http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-04-27-voa51.cfm ). (In February 2003, Al Baradei along with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix challenged the (phony) intelligence on WMD presented by the US to the UN Security Council, with a view to justifying the war on Iraq.)

Late April 2005.  Sale of deadly military hardware to Israel. GBU-28 Buster Bunker Bombs: Coinciding with Putin’s visit to Israel, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (Department of Defense) announced the sale of an additional 100 bunker-buster bombs produced by Lockheed Martin to Israel. This decision was viewed by the US media as  “a warning to Iran about its nuclear ambitions.”

The sale pertains to the larger and more sophisticated “Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) BLU-113 Penetrator” (including the WGU-36A/B guidance control unit and support equipment). The GBU-28 is described as “a special weapon for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground. The fact of the matter is that the GBU-28 is among the World’s most deadly “conventional” weapons used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, capable of causing thousands of civilian deaths through massive explosions.

The Israeli Air Force are slated to use the  GBU-28s on their F-15 aircraft.
(See text of DSCA news release at http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2005/Israel_05-10_corrected.pdf

Late April 2005- early May: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Israel for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon. He was accompanied by his Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, who met with senior Israeli military officials. On the official agenda of these talks: joint defense projects, including the joint production of Arrow II Theater Missile Defense      and Popeye II missiles. The latter also known as the Have Lite, are advanced small missiles, designed for deployment on fighter planes.  Tel Aviv and Ankara decide to establish a hotline to share intelligence.

May 2005: Syrian troops scheduled to withdraw from Lebanon, leading to a major shift in the Middle East security situation, in favor of Israel and the US.  

Iran Surrounded

The US has troops and military bases in Turkey, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and of course Iraq. 

In other words, Iran is virtually surrounded by US military bases. (see Map below). These countries as well as Turkmenistan, are members of NATO`s partnership for Peace Program. and have military cooperation agreements with NATO.

Copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research, 2003  (Click Map to enlarge)

In other words, we are dealing with a potentially explosive scenario in which a number of countries, including several former Soviet republics, could be brought into a US led war with Iran. IranAtom.ru, a Russian based news and military analysis group has suggested, in this regard:

“since Iranian nuclear objects are scattered all over the country, Israel will need a mass strike with different fly-in and fly-out approaches – Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other countries…  Azerbaijan seriously fears Tehran’s reaction should Baku issue a permit to Israeli aircraft to overfly its territory.” (Defense and Security Russia, 12 April 2005).

Concluding remarks:

The World is at an important crossroads.

The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

Iran is the next military target. The planned military operation, which is by no means limited to punitive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, is part of a project of World domination, a military roadmap, launched at the end of the Cold War.

Military action against Iran would directly involve Israel’s participation, which in turn is likely to trigger a broader war throughout the Middle East, not to mention an implosion in the Palestinian occupied territories. Turkey is closely associated with the proposed aerial attacks.

Israel is a nuclear power with a sophisticated nuclear arsenal. (See text box below). The use of nuclear weapons by Israel or the US cannot be excluded, particularly in view of the fact that tactical nuclear weapons have now been reclassified  as a variant of the conventional bunker buster bombs and are authorized by the US Senate for use in conventional war theaters. (“they are harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”)

In this regard, Israel and the US rather than Iran constitute a nuclear threat.

The planned attack on Iran must be understood in relation to the existing active war theaters in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. 

The conflict could easily spread from the Middle East to the Caspian sea basin. It could also involve the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, where US troops are stationed.

An attack on Iran would have a direct impact on the resistance movement inside Iraq. It would also put pressure on America’s overstretched military capabilities and resources in both the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters. (The 150,000 US troops in Iraq are already fully engaged and could not be redeployed in the case of a war with Iran.)

In other words, the shaky geopolitics of the Central Asia- Middle East region, the three existing war theaters in which America is currently, involved, the direct participation of Israel and Turkey, the structure of US sponsored military alliances, etc. raises the specter of a broader conflict.  

Moreover, US military action on Iran not only threatens Russian and Chinese interests, which have geopolitical interests in the Caspian sea basin and which have bilateral agreements with Iran. It also backlashes on European oil interests in Iran and is likely to produce major divisions between Western allies, between the US and its European partners as well as within the European Union.

Through its participation in NATO, Europe, despite its reluctance, would be brought into the Iran operation. The participation of NATO largely hinges on a military cooperation agreement reached between NATO and Israel. This agreement would bind NATO to defend Israel against Syria and Iran. NATO would therefore support a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and could take on a more active role if Iran were to retaliate following US-Israeli air strikes.  

Needless to say, the war against Iran is part of a longer term US military agenda which seeks to militarize the entire Caspian sea basin, eventually leading to the destabilization and conquest of the Russian Federation.

The Antiwar Movement

The antiwar movement must act, consistently, to prevent the next phase of this war from happening.

This is no easy matter. The holding of large antiwar rallies will not in itself reverse the tide of war.

High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war agenda.

What is required is a grass roots network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the military and political actors, and which is ultimately instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name.

War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.

To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems)  must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled.

The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.

Antiwar sentiment does not dismantle a war agenda. The war criminals in the US, Israel and Britain must be removed from high office. 

What is needed is to reveal the true face of the American Empire and the underlying criminalization of US foreign policy, which uses the “war on terrorism” and the threat of Al Qaeda to galvanize public opinion in support of a global war agenda.  


TEXT BOX: Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities 

With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicly recognized as such.

Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow…

The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”

Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.”

Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.

From John Steinbach,  Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal,
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/STE203A.html


Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s “War on Terrorism”  Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here 

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THE GEO-POLITICS OF THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ: COULD THE U.S. NAVY BE DEFEATED BY IRAN IN THE PERSIAN GULF?

Strait of Hormuz
By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
January 8, 2012
After years of U.S. threats, Iran is taking steps which suggest that she is both willing and capable of closing the Strait of Hormuz. On December 24, 2011 Iran started its Velayat-90 naval drills in and around the Strait of Hormuz and extending from the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman (Oman Sea) to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.Since the conduct of these drills, there has been a growing war of words between Washington and Tehran. Nothing the Obama Administration or the Pentagon have done or said so far, however, has deterred Tehran from continuing its naval drills.THE GEO-POLITICAL NATURE OF THE STRAIT OF HORMUZBesides the fact that it is a vital transit point for global energy resources and a strategic chokepoint, two additional issues should be addressed in regards to the Strait of Hormuz and its relationship to Iran. The first concerns the geography of the Strait of Hormuz. The second pertains to the role of Iran in co-managing the strategic strait in accordance with international law and its sovereign national rights.The maritime traffic that goes through the Strait of Hormuz has always been in contact with Iranian naval forces, which are predominantly composed of the Iranian Regular Force Navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy. In fact, Iranian naval forces monitor and police the Strait of Hormuz along with the Sultanate of Oman via the Omani enclave of Musandam.
More importantly, to transit through the Strait of Hormuz all maritime traffic, including the U.S. Navy, must sail through Iranian territorial waters. Almost all entrances into the Persian Gulf are made through Iranian waters and most exits are through Omani waters.Iran allows foreign ships to use its territorial waters in good faith and on the basis of Part III of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea’s maritime transit passage provisions that stipulate that vessels are free to sail through the Strait of Hormuz and similar bodies of water on the basis of speedy and continuous navigation between an open port and the high seas.
Although Tehran in custom follows the navigation practices of the Law of the Sea, Tehran is not legally bound by them. Like Washington, Tehran signed this international treaty, but never ratified it.
AMERICAN-IRANIAN TENSIONS IN THE PERSIAN GULFIn recent developments, the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) is re-evaluating the use of Iranian waters at the Strait of Hormuz by foreign vessels.Legislation is being proposed to block any foreign warships from being able to use Iranian territorial waters to navigate through the Strait of Hormuz without Iranian permission; the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee is currently studying legislation which would establish an official Iranian posture. The latter would hinge upon Iranian strategic interests and national security. [1]On December 30, 2011, the U.S.S. John C. Stennis carrier passed through the area where Iran was conducting its naval drills. The Commander of the Iranian Regular Forces, Major-General Ataollah Salehi, advised the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other U.S. Navy vessels not to return to the Persian Gulf while Iran was doing its drills, saying that Iran is not in the habit of repeating a warning twice. [2]
Shortly after the stern Iranian warning to Washington, the Pentagon’s press secretary responded by making a statement saying: “No one in this government seeks confrontation [with Iran] over the Strait of Hormuz. It’s important to lower the temperature.” [3]In an actual scenario of military conflict with Iran,  it is very likely that U.S. aircraft carriers would actually operate from outside of the Persian Gulf and from the southern Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Unless the missile systems that Washington is developing in the petro-sheikhdoms of the southern Persian Gulf are operational, the deployment of large U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf would be unlikely. The reasons for this are tied to geographic realities and the defensive capabilities of Iran.
GEOGRAPHY IS AGAINST THE PENTAGON: U.S.

NAVAL STRENGTH HAS LIMITS IN THE PERSIAN GULF

U.S. naval strength, which includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, has primacy over all the other navies and maritime forces in the world. Its deep sea or oceanic capabilities are unparalleled and unmatched by any other naval power. Primacy does not mean invincibility. U.S. naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are nonetheless vulnerable.Despite its might and shear strength, geography literally works against U.S. naval power in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The relative narrowness of the Persian Gulf makes it like a channel, at least in a strategic and military context. Figuratively speaking, the aircraft carriers and warships of the U.S. are confined to narrow waters or are closed in within the coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. [See map above]This is where the Iranian military’s advanced missile capabilities come into play. The Iranian missile and torpedo arsenal would make short work of U.S. naval assets in the waters of the Persian Gulf where U.S. vessels are constricted. This is why the U.S. has been busily erecting a missile shield system in the Persian Gulf amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the last few years.Even the small Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, which appear pitiable and insignificant against a U.S. aircraft carrier or destroyer, threaten U.S. warships. Looks can be deceiving; these Iranian patrol boats can easily launch a barrage of missiles that could significantly damage and effectively sink large U.S. warships. Iranian small patrol boats are also hardly detectable and hard to target.Iranian forces could also attack U.S. naval capabilities merely by launching missile attacks from the Iranian mainland on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf. Even in 2008 the Washington Institute for Near East Policy acknowledged the threat from Iran’s mobile coastal missile batteries, anti-ship missiles, and missile-armed small ships. [4]
Other Iranian naval assets like aerial drones, hovercraft, mines, diver teams, and mini-submarines could also be used in asymmetrical naval warfare against the U.S. Fifth Fleet.Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. One key example is the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) war game in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24, 2002 to August 15, 2002 and took almost two years to prepare.
This mammoth drill was amongst the largest and most expensive war games ever held by the Pentagon.  Millennium Challenge 2002 was held shortly after the Pentagon had decided that it would continue the momentum of the war in Afghanistan by targeting Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and finishing off with the big prize of Iran in a broad military campaign to ensure U.S. primacy in the new millennium.After Millennium Challenge 2002 was finished, the war game was “officially” presented as a simulation of a war against Iraq under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, but in actuality these war games pertained to Iran. [5]
The U.S. had already made assessments for the upcoming Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Moreover, Iraq had no naval capabilities that would merit such large-scale use of the U.S. Navy.Millennium Challenge 2002 was conducted to simulate a war with Iran, which was codenamed “Red” and referred to an unknown Middle Eastern rogue enemy state in the Persian Gulf. Other than Iran, no other country could meet the perimeters and characteristics of “Red” and its military forces, from the patrol boats to the motorcycle units. The war simulation took place because Washington was planning on attacking Iran soon after invading Iraq in 2003.The scenario in the 2002 war game started with the U.S., codenamed “Blue,” giving Iran a one-day ultimatum to surrender in the year 2007. The war game’s date of 2007 would chronologically correspond to U.S. plans to attack Iran after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, which was to extend, according to military plans, into a broader war against Syria. The war against Lebanon, however, did not go as planned and the U.S. and Israel realized that if Hezbollah could challenge them in Lebanon then an expanded war with Syria and Iran would be a disaster.In Millennium Challenge 2002’s war scenario, Iran would react to U.S. aggression by launching a massive barrage of missiles that would overwhelm the U.S. and destroy sixteen U.S. naval vessels ~ an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five amphibious ships. It is estimated that if this had happened in real war theatre context, more than 20,000 U.S. servicemen would have been killed in the first day following the attack. [6]Next, Iran would send its small patrol boats ~ the ones that look insignificant in comparison to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other large U.S. warships ~ to overwhelm the remainder of the Pentagon’s naval forces in the Persian Gulf, which would result in the damaging and sinking of most of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the defeat of the United States. After the U.S. defeat, the war games were started over again, but “Red” (Iran) had to operate under the assumption of handicaps and shortcomings, so that U.S. forces would be allowed to emerge victorious from the drill. [7]
This outcome of the war games obviated the fact that the U.S. would have been overwhelmed in the context of a real conventional war with Iran in the Persian Gulf.Hence, the formidable naval power of Washington is handicapped both by geography as well as Iranian military capabilities when it comes to fighting in the Persian Gulf or even in much of the Gulf of Oman. Without open waters, like in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. will have to fight under significantly reduced response times and, more importantly, will not be able to fight from a stand-off (militarily safe) distance. Thus, entire tool boxes of U.S. naval defensive systems, which were designed for combat in open waters using stand-off ranges, are rendered unpractical in the Persian Gulf.MAKING THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ REDUNDANT TO WEAKEN IRAN?The entire world knows the importance of the Strait of Hormuz and Washington and its allies are very well aware that the Iranians can militarily close it for a significant period of time. This is why the U.S. has been working with the GCC countries ~ Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the U.A.E. ~ to re-route their oil through pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz and channeling GCC oil directly to the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, or Mediterranean Sea. Washington has also been pushing Iraq to seek alternative routes in talks with Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.Both Israel and Turkey have also been very interested in this strategic project. Ankara has had discussions with Qatar about setting up an oil terminal that would reach Turkey via Iraq. The Turkish government has attempted to get Iraq to link its southern oil fields, like Iraq’s northern oil fields, to the transit routes running through Turkey. This is all tied to Turkey’s visions of being an energy corridor and important lynchpin of transit.The aims of re-routing oil away from the Persian Gulf would remove an important element of strategic leverage Iran has against Washington and its allies. It would effectively reduce the importance of the Strait of Hormuz. It could very well be a prerequisite to war preparations and a war led by the United States against Tehran and its allies.It is within this framework that the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline or the Hashan-Fujairah Oil Pipeline is being fostered by the United Arab Emirates to bypass the maritime route in the Persian Gulf going through the Strait of Hormuz. The project design was put together in 2006, the contract was issued in 2007, and construction was started in 2008. [8]
This pipeline goes straight from Abdu Dhabi to the port of Fujairah on the shore of the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea.In other words, it will give oil exports from the U.A.E. direct access to the Indian Ocean. It has openly been presented as a means to ensure energy security by bypassing Hormuz and attempting to avoid the Iranian military. Along with the construction of this pipeline, the erection of a strategic oil reservoir at Fujairah was also envisaged to also maintain the flow of oil to the international market should the Persian Gulf be closed off. [9]
Aside from the Petroline (East-West Saudi Pipeline), Saudi Arabia has also been looking at alternative transit routes and examining the ports of it southern neighbours in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman and Yemen. The Yemenite port of Mukalla on the shores of the Gulf of Aden has been of particular interest to Riyadh. In 2007, Israeli sources reported with some fanfare that a pipeline project was in the works that would connect the Saudi oil fields with Fujairah in the U.A.E., Muscat in Oman, and finally to Mukalla in Yemen. The reopening of the Iraq-Saudi Arabia Pipeline (IPSA), which was ironically built by Saddam Hussein to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Iran, has also been a subject of discussion for the Saudis with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.If Syria and Lebanon were converted into Washington’s clients, then the defunct Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) could also be reactivated, along with other alternative routes going from the Arabian Peninsula to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea via the Levant. Chronologically, this would also fit into Washington’s efforts to overrun Lebanon and Syria in an attempt to isolate Iran before any possible showdown with Tehran.The Iranian Velayat-90 naval drills, which extended in close proximity to the entrance of the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden off the territorial waters of Yemen, also took place in the Gulf of Oman facing the coast of Oman and the eastern shores of the United Arab Emirates.
Amongst other things, Velayat-90 should be understood as a signal that Tehran is ready to operate outside of the Persian Gulf and can even strike or block the pipelines trying to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.Geography again is on Iran’s side in this case too. Bypassing the Strait of Hormuz still does not change the fact that most of the oil fields belonging to GCC countries are located in the Persian Gulf or near its shores, which means they are all situated within close proximity to Iran and therefore within Iranian striking distance. Like in the case of the Hashan-Fujairah Pipeline, the Iranians could easily disable the flow of oil from the point of origin. Tehran could launch missile and aerial attacks or deploy its ground, sea, air, and amphibious forces into these areas as well. It does not necessarily need to block the Strait of Hormuz; after all preventing the flow of energy is the main purpose of the Iranian threats.THE AMERICAN-IRANIAN COLD WARWashington has been on the offensive against Iran using all means at its disposal. The tensions over the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf are just one front in a dangerous multi-front regional cold war between Tehran and Washington in the broader Middle East. Since 2001, the Pentagon has also been restructuring its military to wage unconventional wars with enemies like Iran. [10]
Nonetheless, geography has always worked against the Pentagon and the U.S. has not found a solution for its naval dilemma in the Persian Gulf. Instead of a conventional war, Washington has had to resort to waging a covert, economic, and diplomatic war against Iran.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He has been a contributor and guest discussing the broader Middle East on numerous programs and international networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV and Russia Today. Nazemroaya was also a witness to the “Arab Spring” in action in North Africa. While on the ground in Libya during the NATO bombing campaign, he reported out of Tripoli for several media outlets. He sent key field dispatches from Libya for Global Research and was Special Correspondent for Pacifica’s syndicated investigative program Flashpoints, broadcast out of Berkeley, California. His writings have been published in more than ten languages. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) in Moscow, Russia.Notes[1] Fars News Agency, Foreign Warships Will Need Iran’s Permission to Pass through Strait of Hormuz,” January 4, 2011.
[2] Fars News Agency, Iran Warns US against Sending Back Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf,” January 4, 2011.
[3] Parisa Hafezi, Iran threatens U.S Navy as sanctions hit economy,” Reuters, January 4, 2012.
[4] Fariborz Haghshenass, “Iran’s Asymmetric Naval Warfare,” Policy Focus, no.87 (Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, September 2010).
[5] Julian Borger, Wake-up call,” The Guardian, September 6, 2002.
[6] Neil R. McCown, Developing Intuitive Decision-Making In Modern Military Leadership (Newport, R.I.: Naval War College, October 27, 2010), p.9.
[7] Sean D. Naylor, “War games rigged? General says Millennium Challenge ‘02 ‘was almost entirely scripted,’” Army Times, April 6, 2002.
[8] Himendra Mohan Kumar, Fujairah poised to be become oil export hub,” Gulf News, June 12, 2011.
[9] Ibid.
[10] John Arquilla, “The New Rules of War,” Foreign Policy, 178 (March-April, 2010): pp.60-67.

Posted by at 9:20 AM

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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Beit Zachariah / Zekharyeh
Sedot Mikha / Sdot Micha
31�42’N 34�55’E

The Israeli Air Force reportedly has three squadrons [150, 199 and 248 squadrons] equipped with Jericho nuclear-tipped missiles at the Sedot Mikha [Sdot Micha] base, 45 km south of Tel-Aviv. The Sedot Mikha Jericho IRBM base is located near the town of Zekharyah, east of Ashkelon and south east of Tel Nof AB, and south of the Sorek River between Kiriat-Gat and Beit-Shemesh.

Some western publications incorrectly use the term Sedof Mikha for this facility. Other nomenclature associated with this facility includes Hirbat Zachariah, Kfar Zekharya, Zachariah, and Zekharyeh.

It is reported that classified satellite imagery discloses about 100 missile emplacements, evenly divided between the Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles. The Jericho-1 missile, developed in the late 1960s and deployed in facilities at Sedot Mikha, themselves constructed beginning in 1967, was believed to have achieved a range of over 450 kilometers. An advanced version, the Jericho II, with a range of at least 1,500 kilometers, was reported to have been test-flown in the late 1980s. As many as 50 Jericho-2 missiles may be based at facilities which were built in the 1980s. The base is built in a limestone region with numerous caves and small hills which have been hollowed out to house the Jericho 2 and its TELs, which are rolled out for firing. In December 1990, just before the Gulf War, Jericho-2 missiles were brought to readiness for firing, and Israel test-fired a Jericho from the Sedot Mikha facility.

New Analysis

Ikonos imagery acquired in the Spring of 2002, indicates that facilities previously associated with Israel’s Intermediate Range Jericho Missile Base, are likely munitions storage facilities, supporting the Tel Nof air base, and probably serve as a central ammunition depot for Israel.

After reviewing the new imagery, and comparing it to other sources, we estimate the number of hardened missile shelters capable of supporting operational IRBM’s to be between 23 and 50 shelters. It is possible that two structures that appear to be multiple-drive-through garrages could support an additional 10-20 IRBM TELs.

This new view is supported by comparing declassified Corona satellite imagery, with a Russian 1:50,000 scale map published in 1987, and NIMA 10-meter CIB (Controlled Image Base) with the new Ikonos imagery. A trapezoid shaped munitions storage area once thought to be the Jericho II missile base, has the visual signature associated with conventional munitions storage.

The C-shaped earth-berms protecting the above-ground storage buildings are too narrow to maneuver road-mobile IRBM Transporter-Erector-Launchers (TELs) in and out with ease. Other munitions storage facilities near the village of Tirosh and just south of Highway 3, predate the IOC of the original Jericho Squadron. The driveways are too narrow to support missile tranporters or transloaders. Futhermore the trapezoid-shaped storage area post-dates the initial Jericho garrison 4 kilometers to the east, by at least five to ten years, and pre-dates the IOC of the Jericho II by three to four years.

Remaining Questions

The new satellite imagery fails to shed light on the question of which missiles are deployed at Zakaria. There are three possibilities:

1. The Jericho I IRBM was removed from operational service with the introduction of the longer range Jericho II. Under this scenario, the base at Zakaria was converted to Jericho II, and the Jericho I was retired. While there is no proof of this, one reason to justify this possibility is the high cost associated with refurbishing and extending the service life of the Jericho I solid-rocket motors, which probably have exceeded their reliable usable life-span. US Minuteman missile rocket motors required the propellant to be repoured, after 20 years of service. The US invested heavily in this service-live extension program spending, several billion dollars.

2. The Jericho I IRBM was kept in service at Zakaria, and the Israelis built a new and more secret missile base elsewhere for the Jericho II. If it exists, this new base has survived leaks, and disclosure from defectors, and remains one of Israel’s most secret facilities. On the other hand, Israel is a small country and there are only so many places to build brand-new missile bases.

3. A third possibility is that Israel only has one strategic IRBM base, located at Zakaria, and both the Jericho I, and II are deployed there. One problem with this theory is that there does not seem to be enough hardened missile shelters to support the reported 100 missile emplacements. Ikonos imagery reveals about 21 probable shelters.

4. Lastly, some of the missile lauchers could be deployed in the field. Unlike the US deployment of Pershing II and Cruise missiles in Europe, there are simply not very many locations that are secure, and free from detection by hostile enemies or terrorists.

Click on the small image to view a larger version

Estimated Range of Israeli Ballistic Missiles

General location of Zakaria in Israel

Tactical Pilotage Chart of the Zakaria IRBM Base

Tactical Pilotage Chart of the Zakaria IRBM Base

CIA map of Israel, 1993

CIA Map of Israel, 1993.
Several munitions storage areas and the Jericho IRBM base are depicted. These areas are not visible on maps produced by Israel

1987 Russian 1:50,000 scale map of Zackaria.
Tel Nof Air Base is in the upper left; munitions storage facilities are in the center of the image; and the Jericho IRBM base is in the lower right

1987 Russian 1:50,000 scale map of Zackaria

1987 Russian 1:50,000 scale map centered on the Zackaria Jericho IRBM Base.
To the right is Beit Shemesh Industrial Zone, which has been mis-identified as being associated with the Jericho missile base

1987 Russian 1:50,000 scale map of Zackaria with a close-up of the Jericho IRBM Base

NIMA CIB imagery of Zakaria as of 1995. Munitions storage areas 5 kilometers west have been confused with the IRBM base

Close-up of the IRBM Base. The Beit Shemesh Industrial Zone, has been confused with the IRBM base

Ikonos imagery of Zakaria as of 13 April 2002. The image has been resampled by Space Imaging to comply with the Kyl-Bingaman amendment to the Defense Appropriation act of 1997, requiring all US commercial satellite companies to degrade their imagery of Israel to a resolution of 2 meters or more

Declassified Corona satellite imagery of zakaria under construction as of 6 May 1971

This area is believed to be the first squadron of Jericho missiles to be operational

A second squadron of missiles is located north of of the first area. Each squadron is surrounded by a 5-kilometer security perimeter and patrol road

This is the missile base headquarters and support area

A smaller secured area to the northwest, of unknown purpose. The driveways are narrower and the angle to the road is sharper. These driveways could be warhead or explosives storage or could be additional missile garages

A close-up of the southern missile squadron area. Nine slanted missile garages remain unchanged since the facility was under construction in early 1971. A possible drive thru-garage is just to north of the garages

Corona imagery of the missile shelter under construction in 1971. Each garage is clearly visible

Ikonos imagery close-up of the missile shelters

Each shelter measures 10 x 30 meters (35 x 90 feet). These are long enough to accomodate both the Jericho I and II missiles

Overview of the munitions storage area 4 kilometer to the west

Closer-examination reveals c-shaped earth berms, and light frame above-ground storage buildings consistent with western-style explosives storage. The curve of the drive-way will probably not support Jericho I or II road-mobile missile TELs or transloaders
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China intensifies criticism of sanctions on Iran

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BEIJING | Thu Feb 2, 2012 8:12pm EST

(Reuters) – A top Chinese newspaper stepped up Beijing’s opposition to a Western push for tighter sanctions against Iran, warning Friday that tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program are hurting energy markets and could stifle the global economic recovery.

China’s criticism of tighter sanctions on Iran, designed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, appeared in the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.

It comes a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Beijing to use its influence to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program.

“The global economy is in the midst of a difficult economic recovery and reducing the shocks of uncertainties is the common responsibility of countries all over the world,” the People’s Daily commentary said.

“In the near term, the sudden spike in tensions between the United States and Iran is now posing the greatest uncertainty. This factor is disrupting global energy markets and has cast a shadow over the global economic recovery.”

The commentary appeared under the pen-name of “Zhong Sheng,” which in Chinese sounds like “Voice of the Centre” or “Voice of China,” suggesting it reflects high-level government views.

China, the world’s second-largest crude consumer, has long opposed unilateral sanctions that target Iran’s energy sector and has tried to reduce tensions that could threaten its oil supply.

The energy tensions are a particular worry for China, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil. Only Saudi Arabia and Angola sell more crude to China than Iran.

Escalating tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program — which have led to Iranian threats to close the vital Straits of Hormuz Gulf oil export route — have pushed up Brent crude prices by about 9 percent since mid-December.

Thursday, at a joint media briefing after what Germany’s Merkel described as “long discussions” about Iran, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao appeared to reject the pressure to do more.

He said Beijing objected to Western nations politicizing the “normal commercial relationship” it has with the Islamic Republic (of Iran), echoing language that China has used before.

Merkel, who is in China on a three-day visit, said on Thursday she hoped the U.N. Security Council could pass a unanimous resolution on the Iran issue.

The United States imposed the harshest sanctions on Iran when President Barack Obama signed into law sanctions on transactions involving Iran’s central bank on December 31.

The European Union imposed a ban on the import, purchase or transport of Iranian oil in January.

The commentary reiterated China’s stance that dialogue should be used to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

China has backed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities, while working to ensure its energy ties are not threatened. In January, Wen forthrightly warned Tehran against any effort to acquire nuclear weapons.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills)

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‘We’ll back any nation wanting to fight the Zionist regime’

By REUTERS 02/03/2012 11:43

Islamic Republic will not yield to international pressure to abandon its nuclear course, says Iran’s Supreme Leader; Khamenei threatens retaliation for sanction aimed at Iranian oil exports.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali KhameneiBy Ho New / Reuters

TEHRAN – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that Iran would support any nation that wants to confront Israel. “I have no fear of saying that we will back and help any nation or group that wants to confront and fight against the Zionist regime (Israel),” he said.

He also stated that the Islamic Republic would not yield to international pressure to abandon its nuclear course, threatening retaliation for sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil exports.

Khamenei’s defiant speech to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the first direct response to tighter sanctions imposed by the West in recent weeks to force Tehran to abandon a nuclear program it says has purely peaceful ends.

“Threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America … Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course … In response to threats of oil embargo and war, we have our own threats to impose at the right time,” Khamenei told worshipers in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Khamenei added that any US military strike against Iran would backfire and that the “painful and crippling” Western sanctions would only increase the resilience of Iran.

“Americans say all options are on the table even the option of military strike (against Iran)… Any military strike is ten times more harmful for America. Such threats show that they have no sufficient discourse against Iran’s logic and discourse, he said.”

His comments came a day after Israel’s top political and military leadership issued a series of warnings to the Islamic Republic in some of the most candid comments on the nuclear threat in years.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said there was a consensus among many nations today that if diplomacy and sanctions failed to stop Iran, a military strike should be launched.

“If sanctions don’t achieve the desired goal of stopping [Iran’s] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action,” he declared.

Barak’s threat was backed up earlier on Thursday by Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon who said that Iran needed to be stopped “one way or another” and that a credible military threat needed to be on the table, a message also delivered by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that Iran has created a stockpile of enriched uranium that could be used to manufacture four nuclear weapons.

Kochavi said that once Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the decision to go to the “breakout stage” and begin enriching uranium to military-grade levels, it would take the Iranians a year to make a crude device and another year or two to manufacture a nuclear warhead that can be installed on a ballistic missile.

Israel’s increased threats came as The Washington Post reported that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta believes Israel will attack Iran in April, May or June.

According to the report, written by the paper’s senior opinion writer David Ignatius, Panetta is concerned that Israel will attack before Iran enters the so-called “immunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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  • Published 01:58 03.02.12
  • Latest update 01:58 03.02.12

Shin Bet chief: Iran trying to hit Israeli targets in response to attacks on nuclear scientists

Yoram Cohen tells audience at a closed forum in Tel Aviv that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are working tirelessly to attack Israeli targets abroad in order to deter Israel.

By Barak Ravid Tags: Shin Bet Iran Iran nuclear Gaza Hamas Islamic Jihad Egypt West Bank Israeli Arab Israel settlements Palestinians Mahmoud Abbas

Iran is trying to strike Israeli targets around the world in a bid to stop the assassinations of its nuclear scientists, the head of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen, said Thursday.

Lecturing at a closed forum in Tel Aviv, Cohen said that Iran believes Israel is behind the attacks on its nuclear experts, which have killed four scientists since November 2010. “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not that Israel took out the nuclear scientists,” Cohen said. “A major, serious country like Iran cannot let this go on. They want to deter Israel and extract a price so that decision makers in Israel think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist.”

Yoram Cohen - Nir Keidar - 03022012 Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen
Photo by: Nir Keidar

Cohen said Iran was working very hard abroad through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to hit Israeli targets.

“Over the past year three serious attacks were thwarted that were on the verge of being carried out,” the Shin Bet head said. “In Turkey against the general consul in Istanbul; in Baku, Azerbaijan; and two weeks ago in Thailand.”

Israel’s main dilemma in the coming year, Cohen added, was how to stop Palestinian terror groups in Gaza from obtaining rockets that could reach the metropolitan Tel Aviv area, but without becoming embroiled in a large-scale military action in Gaza.

Cohen said the terror groups’ main goal was to increase the range of their missiles to the greater Tel Aviv area, as well as their precision and the size of their warheads.

Cohen said missile experts from abroad were now in Gaza helping Hamas and Islamic Jihad increase the range of the missiles, but conceded that this put Israeli security experts in a difficult place.

Cohen also said that over the past 18 months, Iran has distanced itself from Hamas and invested more in Islamic Jihad in Gaza, because the Iranians “realized that Hamas has political considerations.”

The situation in the south has grown worse due to conditions in Sinai, said Cohen. “It’s no problem to shoot from Sinai at Israeli planes or ships,” he said. “At the moment, Egypt can’t take control of the situation because of internal difficulties.”

Israel is “in a dilemma over what to do if squads are spotted that are about to attack us from the area of a country with which we have a peace treaty, but has been having difficulty implementing their sovereignty,” Cohen said.

During the hour-long lecture, Cohen also discussed the attitude of the security establishment toward Israel’s Arab community.

“They are not a fifth column and we don’t consider them as such,” Cohen noted. “We relate to them as a Palestinian public that identifies with their brethren in Judea and Samaria.”

Cohen presented statistics showing that over the past year, there had been only three terror attacks in which Israeli Arabs had been involved, and that Israeli-Arab involvement in terror has declined.

“Their involvement in terror is not great,” Cohen said. “We arrested 20 to 30 Arab Israelis last year, as opposed to 2,000 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria. The problems with Arab Israelis are complex, but they are not security problems. They are alienation, integration, employment, poor municipal management, crime and drugs.

“The ideological leadership of the Arab public in Israel,” Cohen continued, “is much more extreme than the public, and sometimes pulls in directions with which the public does not identify.”

Cohen said another group that feels growing alienation from the state is the faction in the religious public that has lost confidence in its leadership. Cohen said these were a few dozen extremists, mainly from Yitzhar (referring to a West Bank settlement ).

“They have decided to take the road of terror,” Cohen said, adding that “because they can’t harm the government and the Israel Defense Forces, they lash out at Arabs and [their] sacred symbols. To their mind, the worse it gets, the more the government will have to think before it destroys a shack in a settlement. We treat this as terror.”

Cohen said the Shin Bet was trying to deal with Jewish terror “in the best way possible,” and noted that the past two months had seen a significant decline in violence by the group.

With regard to the Palestinians, Cohen said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not want to negotiate with Israel, because Abbas believes the current government will offer no more than what he had received from previous regimes.

“They see what the boundaries of the prime minister’s flexibility are and who makes up the coalition, and they know the maximum this government will offer will not reach their minimum,” Cohen said. Therefore, he added, the international community was focusing its efforts on preventing escalation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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U.S. officials concerned by Israel statements on Iran threat, possible strike

Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, walks with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Barak said that time is running out for stopping Iran’s nuclear advance, as the country’s uranium facilities disappear into newly constructed mountain bunkers.

By and ,

JERUSALEM — Israeli leaders on Thursday delivered one of the bluntest warnings to date of possible airstrikes against Iranian nuclear sites, adding to the anxiety in Western capitals that a surprise attack by Israel could spark a broader military conflict in the Middle East.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a security forum attended by some of Israel’s top intelligence and military leaders, declared that time was running out for stopping Iran’s nuclear advance, as the country’s uranium facilities disappear into newly constructed mountain bunkers.

“Whoever says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” Barak said. He switched from Hebrew to English for the last phrase: “later is too late.”

The language reflected a deepening rift between Israeli and U.S. officials over the urgency of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, which Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts say could soon put nuclear weapons within the reach of Iran’s rulers.

Although accepting the gravity of the Iranian threat, U.S. officials fear being blindsided by an Israeli strike that could have widespread economic and security implications and might only delay, not end, Iran’s nuclear pursuits.

In a series of private meetings with Israeli counterparts in recent weeks, Western officials have counseled patience, saying recent economic sanctions and a new European oil embargo are pummeling Iran’s economy and could soon force the country’s leaders to abandon the nuclear program. Yet Israelis are increasingly signaling that they may act unilaterally if there is no breakthrough in the coming months, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

“The Obama administration is concerned that Israel could attack Iranian nuclear facilities this year, having given Washington little or no warning,” said Cliff Kupchan, a former State Department official who specialized in Iran policy during the Clinton administration and recently returned from meetings with Israeli officials. He said Israel “has refused to assure Washington that prior notice would be provided.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is one of several administration officials to express concern publicly that Israel is positioning itself for a surprise attack. Last month, the administration dispatched the Joint Chiefs chairman,Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, to the Israeli capital for high-level discussions about the possibility of a unilateral Israeli strike.

“Israel has indicated they’re considering this, and we have indicated our concerns,” Panetta told reporters Thursday after a NATO meeting in Brussels. Panetta declined to comment on published reports that he thinks the Israelis could carry out a strike this spring, possibly as early as April.

Although the Obama administration has not ruled out U.S. military action against Iran, White House officials are worried that a unilateral strike could shatter the broad international coalition assembled in the past three years to confront Iran over its nuclear program, which Iranian leaders have consistently said is for peaceful purposes.

U.S. officials fear that an attack by Israel could trigger Iranian retaliation not only against the Jewish state but also against American interests around the world. A prolonged conflict could disrupt oil shipments, drive up energy prices and devastate fragile Western economies, U.S. officials say.

Administration officials have hinted that the United States might not intervene militarily in a hostile exchange between Israel and Iran unless the conflict began to threaten U.S. forces or Israeli population centers. In an interview last month on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Panetta said that in the event of an Israeli strike, U.S. military officials’ primary concern would be “to protect our forces.”

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also expressed concern Thursday that Israel was moving closer to a decision on a potentially destabilizing military strike.

“Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict and that certain countries might seek to take matters into their own hands,” Clegg told the House magazine, a weekly British political journal.

Clegg, whose government recently imposed new sanctions against Iran’s central bank, said Britain was convinced that “ there are very tough things we can do which are not military steps in order to place pressure on Iran.”

At Thursday’s Israeli security conference, in the resort city of Herzliya, Barak and other Israeli officials pointed to recent moves by Iran to begin enriching uranium at a second plant, located in a bunker built into a mountain near the city of Qom. Once that facility is complete, deterring Iran will be far more difficult, they say.

“The dividing line may pass where the Iranians decide to break out of the nonproliferation treaty and move toward a nuclear device or weapon, but at the place . . . that would make the physical strike impractical,” Barak said.

He rejected criticism that Israeli leaders had failed to consider the full implications of military action. “There is no basis for the claim that this subject. . . was not discussed with appropriate breadth and depth,” he said.

“The assessment of many experts around the world, not only here, is that the result of avoiding action will certainly be a nuclear Iran, and dealing with a nuclear Iran will be more complicated, more dangerous and more costly in lives and money than stopping it,” he said.

Speaking at the same conference, the chief of military intelligence, Gen. Aviv Kochavi, said Iran already has enough fissile material to build four nuclear weapons and could do so within a year if Iranian leaders give the order. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has adopted a course of gradually gathering the components necessary for nuclear weapons while deferring a decision on whether to build and test a bomb.

Although there have been no indications in Israel that a military strike is imminent, Israeli officials have conveyed a sense of urgency, suggesting that a window of opportunity for a military strike is closing.

Barak, in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, urged that diplomatic efforts to halt the Iranian nuclear program “be conducted intensively and urgently” and that tougher sanctions target Iran’s financial system and central bank, as well as its oil exports.

Israeli officials warn that beyond posing an existential threat to Israel, Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon could trigger a regional nuclear arms race in the volatile Middle East and alter Israel’s strategic position in the region.

Warrick reported from Washington. Staff writers Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company

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Panetta believes Israel may strike Iran this spring: reports

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WASHINGTON | Thu Feb 2, 2012 8:53pm EST

(Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a growing possibility Israel will attack Iran as early as April to stop Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, U.S. media reported on Thursday.

The Washington Post first reported that Panetta was concerned about the increased likelihood Israel would launch an attack over the next few months. CNN said it confirmed the report, citing a senior Obama administration official, who declined to be identified.

“Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June – before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb,” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote.

“Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon – and only the United States could then stop them militarily,” Ignatius wrote.

Ignatius did not cite a source. He was writing from Brussels where Panetta was attending a NATO defense ministers’ meeting.

Panetta and the Pentagon both declined comment on the Post report.

Israel, widely believed to possess the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, views Iran’s uranium enrichment projects as a major threat and has not ruled out the use of military force to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The Post article said the postponement of a joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise that had been scheduled for this spring may have signaled the prospect of an Israeli attack soon.

Washington and the European Union imposed tighter sanctions on Iran in recent weeks in a drive to force Tehran to provide more information on its nuclear program.

Iran has said repeatedly it could close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane if sanctions succeed in preventing it from exporting crude, a move Washington said it would not tolerate.

Israel’s military intelligence chief said on Thursday he estimated that Iran could make four atomic bombs by further enriching uranium it had already stockpiled, and could produce its first bomb within a year of deciding to build one.

But in his rare public remarks, Major-General Aviv Kochavi held out the possibility that stronger international sanctions might dissuade Tehran from pursuing a policy he had no doubt was aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said separately that “if sanctions don’t achieve the desired goal of stopping (Iran’s) military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action.”

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen in Washington and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Related Quotes and News

Iran’s quest to possess nuclear technology

Intelligence shows that Iran received foreign assistance to overcome key hurdles in acquiring technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Editors’ note: An earlier headline on this photo gallery failed to reflect debate over whether Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon.)

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles south of Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is now on the threshold of nuclear capability, after foreign scientists helped the country overcome key hurdles to acquire a nuclear weapon.

AP

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Pentagon Seeks Mightier Bomb vs. Iran

By ADAM ENTOUS And JULIAN E. BARNES

WASHINGTON—Pentagon war planners have concluded that their largest conventional bomb isn’t yet capable of destroying Iran’s most heavily fortified underground facilities, and are stepping up efforts to make it more powerful, according to U.S. officials briefed on the plan.

The 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, was specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea to cloak their nuclear programs.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency / Associated PressA crew loaded a ‘bunker buster’ at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2007; the military hopes to make the bomb more powerful.

But initial tests indicated that the bomb, as currently configured, wouldn’t be capable of destroying some of Iran’s facilities, either because of their depth or because Tehran has added new fortifications to protect them.

Doubts about the MOP’s effectiveness prompted the Pentagon this month to secretly submit a request to Congress for funding to enhance the bomb’s ability to penetrate deeper into rock, concrete and steel before exploding, the officials said.

The push to boost the power of the MOP is part of stepped-up contingency planning for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear program, say U.S. officials.

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The Defense Department has spent about $330 million so far to develop about 20 of the bombs, which are built by Boeing Co. The Pentagon is seeking about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective, according to government officials briefed on the plan.

Some experts question if any kind of conventional explosives are capable of reaching facilities such as those built deep underground in Iran. But U.S. defense officials say they believe the MOP could already do damage sufficient to set back the program.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday, acknowledged the bomb’s shortcomings against some of Iran’s deepest bunkers. He said more development work would be done and that he expected the bomb to be ready to take on the deepest bunkers soon.

“We’re still trying to develop them,” Mr. Panetta said.

President Barack Obama has made clear that he believes U.S. and international sanctions can curb Iran’s nuclear program if they are given more time to work. At the same time, however, Mr. Obama has asked the Pentagon to come up with military options.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Mr. Obama said: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.” Iran denies it is trying to develop atomic weapons.

The U.S. has sought in recent weeks to tamp down tensions with Iran, but the Pentagon is at the same time pushing ahead with contingency planning.

“The development of this weapon is not intended to send a signal to any one particular country,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said. “It’s a capability we believe we need in our arsenal and will continue to invest in it.”

Officials said the planned improvements to the MOP were meant to overcome shortcomings that emerged in initial testing. They said the new money was meant to ensure the weapon would be more effective against the deepest bunkers, including Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant facility, which is buried in a mountain complex surrounded by antiaircraft batteries, making it a particularly difficult target even for the most powerful weapons available to the U.S.

Developing an effective bunker-buster is complicated in part because of the variables, experts say. Penetration varies depending on factors such as soil density and the types of stone and rock shielding the target.

Boeing received a contract in 2009 to fit the weapon on the U.S.’s B-2 Stealth Bomber. The Air Force began receiving the first of the bombs in September, a time of growing tensions with Iran. The Air Force has so far contracted to buy 20 of the bombs, and more deliveries are expected in 2013, after additional tests are made.

Should a decision be made to use the MOP as currently configured, it could cause “a lot of damage” to Iran’s underground nuclear facilities but wouldn’t necessarily destroy them outright, Mr. Panetta said.

“We’re developing it. I think we’re pretty close, let’s put it that way. But we’re still working at it because these things are not easy to be able to make sure that they will do what we want them to.”

Mr. Panetta added: “But I’m confident, frankly, that we’re going to have that capability and have it soon,”

The decision to ask now for more money to develop the weapon was directly related to efforts by the U.S. military’s Central Command to prepare military options against Iran as quickly as possible, according to a person briefed on the request for additional funds.

A senior defense official said the U.S. had other options besides the MOP to set back Iran’s nuclear program. “The Massive Ordnance Penetrators are by no means the only capability at our disposal to deal with potential nuclear threats in Iran,” the official said.

Another senior U.S. official said the Pentagon could make up for the MOPs’ shortcomings by dropping them along with other guided bombs on top of a bunker’s entry and exit points—provided the intelligence is available about where they are all located.

Successful strikes on bunker entry and exit points could prevent an enemy from accessing such a site and could cause enough damage to stop or slow enrichment activity there.

“There is a virtue to deepness but you still need to get in and out,” the senior U.S. official said.

The Pentagon was particularly concerned about its ability to destroy bunkers built under mountains, such as Iran’s Fordow site near the Shiite Muslim holy city of Qom, according to a former senior U.S. official who is an expert on Iran.

The official said some Pentagon war planners believe conventional bombs won’t be effective against Fordow and that a tactical nuclear weapon may be the only military option if the goal is to destroy the facility. “Once things go into the mountain, then really you have to have something that takes the mountain off,” the official said.

The official said the MOP may be more effective against Iran’s main enrichment plant at Natanz but added: “But even that is guesswork.”

The Pentagon notified Congress in mid-January that it wants to divert around $82 million to refine the MOP, taking the money from other defense programs. The decision to sidestep the normal budget request process suggests the Pentagon deems the MOP upgrades to be a matter of some urgency.

Mr. Panetta said Iran wasn’t the only potential target. “It’s not just aimed at Iran. Frankly, it’s aimed at any enemy that decides to locate in some kind of impenetrable location. The goal here is to be able to get at any enemy, anywhere,” he said

Mr. Panetta and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates have argued that a military strike would at best delay Iran’s nuclear development for a few years. Advocates of a strike say such a delay could be decisive by buying time for other efforts to thwart the program.

According to Air Force officials, the 20.5 foot-long MOP carries over 5,300 pounds of explosive material. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding. The mountain above the Iranian enrichment site at Fordow is estimated to be at least 200 feet tall.

Israel has large bunker-buster bombs but the U.S. hasn’t provided the MOP to any other country.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com and Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com

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Iran predicts global oil prices to soar by 50 per cent

Iranian officials predicted that global oil prices would soar by 50 per cent in the wake of EU sanctions as the country’s oil minister declared exports to “some countries” would be cut off.

Petrol prices across Europe rise by up to a third

Rostam Qasemi, Iran’s energy minister, promised that exports to some countries, which he did not name, would be ended ‘soon’ Photo: CORBIS
Adrian Blomfield

By , Middle East Correspondent

9:19PM GMT 29 Jan 2012

In what will be seen as evidence of brinksmanship, Iran’s parliament postponed debate on a proposal immediately to halt oil deliveries to the EU, which accounts for 20 per cent of Tehran’s exports of crude.

Despite postponing the parliamentary debate, Rostam Qasemi, Iran’s energy minister, promised that exports to some countries, which he did not name, would be ended “soon”.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran on a three-day mission to investigate the suspected military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme to a flurry of anti-Western invective.

A damning report released by the body in November accused Iran of military-related atomic activities for the first time.

The visit comes when Iran’s relationship with the West is a fraught as at any time in recent years after the regime reacted with fury to a decision by the EU and the US this month to sanction the country’s central bank and oil sector.

With the sanctions carrying the potential to trigger a deep economic crisis in the country, Iran has responded with a mixture of belligerence and conciliation.

That the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s prime minister, has allowed the inspectors in at all has angered hardliners.

Demonstrator met the inspectors at Tehran’s airport carrying photographs of a nuclear scientist assassinated in the city earlier this month.

Ali Akhbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister who is seen as relatively moderate, spoke of his optimism about the IAEA’s visit, promising that all the inspectors’ questions would be answered.

“We have nothing to hide and Iran has no clandestine activities,” he said.

But the hawkish speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, was more hostile, threatening that Iran would sever relations with the IAEA if it showed that it was a “tool” of the West.

The EU is phasing in its sanctions on importing Iranian oil over six months to allow economically troubled Greece, Italy and Spain, Tehran’s biggest European customers, to find alternative markets.

By seeking to pre-empt the sanctions, Iran had hoped to prove that the EU would suffer the more painful consequences from an embargo. A pre-emptive step could also cost some European energy firms who have paid for Iranian oil in advance more than a billion pounds But there is little doubt that Iran would suffer too. Although China and India could conceivably take up the excess oil, they would only do so at a heavily discounted price.

Ahmed Qalabani, the deputy oil minister, boasted that measures to curtail exports would send oil prices soaring to between $120-150 a barrel, up from $108 yesterday.

“We will not leave enemies’ sanctions unanswered and we will impose other sanctions on them in addition to closing Iran’s oil supplies to Europe,” said Mohammed Karim Abedi, a senior Iranian legislator, who added that an ban on oil sales to the EU would last between five and 15 years.

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As Iran ramps up its nuclear program, a look at every movement of the Doomsday Clock

  Jan 10, 2012 – 3:20 PM ET

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A depiction of the Doomsday Clock is removed following an announcement by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) announcing that it has moved the hands to five minutes to midnight

The Doomsday Clock was set up as a symbol of how close the world is to nuclear armageddon. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a prominent group of international scientists, move the minute hands on the clock toward (and sometimes away from) midnight (which symbolizes nuclear war).

In light of the increased tensions on the Strait of Hormuz, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the clock once again, from 6-minutes-to-midnight to 5-minutes-to-midnight.

Below, a look at every movement of the Doomsday clock since it was introduced in 1947 and the reason the hands moved:

1947: Seven minutes to midnight
The clock first appears as a symbol of nuclear danger.

1949: Three minutes to midnight
The Soviet Union explodes its first atomic bomb.

1953: Two minutes to midnight
The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another.

1960: Seven minutes to midnight
Growing public understanding that nuclear weapons made war between the major powers irrational amid greater international scientific cooperation and efforts to aid poor nations.

NOTE: The clock was not reset for the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was arguably the closest the world ever came to all out nuclear war.

1963: Twelve minutes to midnight
The U.S. and Soviet signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty “provides the first tangible confirmation of what has been the Bulletin’s conviction in recent years — that a new cohesive force has entered the interplay of forces shaping the fate of mankind.”

1968: Seven minutes to midnight
France and China acquire nuclear weapons; wars rage in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and Vietnam; world military spending increases while development funds shrink.

1969: Ten minutes to midnight
The U.S. Senate ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

1972: Twelve minutes to midnight
The United States and the Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

1974: Nine minutes to midnight
SALT talks reach an impasse; India develops a nuclear weapon.

1980: Seven minutes to midnight
The deadlock in US-Soviet arms talks continues; nationalistic wars and terrorist actions increase; the gulf between rich and poor nations grows wider.

1981: Four minutes to midnight
Both superpowers develop more weapons for fighting a nuclear war. Terrorist actions, repression of human rights, and conflicts in Afghanistan, Poland and South Africa add to world tension.

1984: Three minutes to midnight
The arms race accelerates.

1988: Six minutes to midnight
The United States and the Soviet Union sign a treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces; superpower relations improve; more nations actively oppose nuclear weapons.

1990: Ten minutes to midnight
The Cold War ends as the Iron Curtain falls.

1991: Seventeen minutes to midnight
The United States and the Soviet Union sign the long-stalled Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and announce further unilateral cuts in tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.

1995: Fourteen minutes to midnight
Further arms reductions stall while global military spending continues at Cold War levels. Risks of nuclear “leakage” from poorly guarded former Soviet facilities increase.

1998: Nine minutes to midnight
India and Pakistan “go public” with nuclear tests. The United States and Russia cannot agree on further deep reductions in their nuclear stockpiles.

2002: Seven minutes to midnight
The United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Terrorists seek to acquire and use nuclear and biological weapons.

2007: Five minutes to midnight.
North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons,” and the continued presence of 26,000 US and Russian nuclear weapons are cited.

2010: Six minutes to midnight.
President Barack Obama is hailed for helping to pull the world back from nuclear or environmental catastrophe, and leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to reduce their arsenals for the first time since 1945.

2012: Five minutes to midnight.
Global failure to take action against climate change, mounting nuclear tensions and an increasing tendency to reject science are cited as reasons for moving the clock.

Agence France-Presse

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AFP/Getty Images

A satellite image shows the suspected Iranian nuclear facility of Fordo near the holy Shiite city of Qom, where Iran is has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent, according to the UN atomic watchdog agency IAEA

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The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power, by Daniel Yergin

Needs an update urgently

Daniel Yergin’s first prize-winning book, Shattered Peace, was a history of the Cold War. Afterwards the young academic star joined the energy project of the Harvard Business School and wrote the best-seller Energy Future. Following on from there, The Prize, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, is a comprehensive history of one of the commodities that powers the world–oil. Founded in the 19th century, the oil industry began producing kerosene for lamps and progressed to gasoline. Huge personal fortunes arose from it, and whole nations sprung out of the power politics of the oil wells. Yergin’s fascinating account sweeps from early robber barons like John D. Rockefeller, to the oil crisis of the 1970s, through to the Gulf War.

from some reviews

Any western reader and especially readers in the US should look at Yergin’s perspective on the fall of the British empire as partially a failure to efficiently transition from a coal economy (coal being a resource England was rich in) to an oil economy (oil being scarce in the British empire until the North Sea discoveries at which time it was really to late to matter). When the US oil balance tipped from exporter to importer and as that balance swings even more out of whack, US readers have to be forced to ask themselves, how long can the US sustain as a world power while exporting so many dollars in exchange for oil and even worse, how ill prepared we could be for a scarcity of oil 25, 50, or 70 years from now. The oil producing nations all recognized 50 or more years ago that their oil revenue would only last so long, that there are only so many decades worth of oil to pump out of the ground at a given pace, and that it was in their interest to maximize the revenue from each barrel pumped. The US and other consumers need to make the corollary discovery: that there is only such much oil to be had and we need to maximize the use and benefit out of each barrel pumped.

….

another

There are three themes that Yergin develops throughout the book. Firstly, the story of oil is the story of capitalism and modern business. The province of Fortune 500 companies, multinationals and the underpinning of wealth in the industrialized west. Certainly, from as early as the late 19th Century, with the emergence of Standard Oil as the first multinational company (a subject Yergin devotes a fair amount of time to),- it’s hard to refute this claim. Yergin does recognize that the late 20th Century was less oil lubricated and more computer chip driven, and it’s obvious to all of us that this trend will only intensify in this century. Indeed from the time the first edition of ‘The Prize’ was published (just before the Gulf War) and even since this edition came out in 1993 -things have changed quite a bit economically. In 1990, seven of the top 20 Fortune 500 Companies were in the oil industry. Today you have to extend the search further, and even then only come up with Exxon-Mobil, Enron, Chevron and Texaco.

The second theme he highlights is the role oil had in strategic global geoplolitical decicions and disasters. He lays at the feet of ‘oil politics’ the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbour and Germany’s invasion of Russia. Typically in a classic example of the irony that history is famous for, the eventual defeat of these two empires was also due to oil (actually the lack of it). There are of course other more recent strategic oil wars – what was the Gulf War and the unprecedented United Nations stand against Iraq if not a defense of the ‘blood supply’ for industrialized nations? This revised edition of the book makes it quite clear that Iraq if successful in it’s swallowing of Kuwait, would have been the most powerful nation in The Persian Gulf.

The third theme is more sociological and forces us to deal with questions not of history but of our future. Yergin states that we have become a ‘Hydrocarbon Society’ and thus we are ‘Hydrocarbon Man’. What characterizes us as this new species? Basically that our cities, politics, economics, values – in fact almost all things material and of importance to us are lubricated with a concern about oil. This used to be seen as a universal good – but no more, There are some of us, Mr Yergin says, including himself, that are concerned about this dependency – It’s impact on our behavior, our health and our environment and our ability to sustain our way of life.

….

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and here is his new book and sequel called:

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, by Daniel Yergin

This long-awaited successor to Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Prize provides an essential, overarching narrative of global energy, the principal engine of geopolitical and economic change

Renowned energy authority Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Prize, in this gripping account of the quest for the energy the world needs — and the power and riches that come with it. A master story teller as well as one of the world’s great experts, Yergin proves that energy is truly the engine of global political and economic change, as well as central to the battle over climate change.  From the jammed streets of Beijing, the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the conflicts in the Mideast, to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us inside the decisions and choices that are shaping our future. Without understanding the realities of energy examined in The Quest, we may surrender our place at the helm of history
We all live fast paced and complex lives. If you are a reader then the key choice you must master is what to read. There is simply too much out there, and you cannot absorb it all. Every now and then a book comes along which is the equivalent of a precious diamond. It is so full of information, presented in such an interesting way that you can’t bring yourself to put it down. You couple this characteristic with an author who is a major thinker and what you have when you put it all together is a 1 in a 100 type book. This is a book that changes everything we know about energy.

This is Daniel Yergin

Daniel Yergin is such an author, and this is such a book. It has now been two decades since the he turned the world upside down with his Pulitzer Prize winning “The Prize – The Epic Quest for Oil”. To have read it is to understand the world. Its monumental impact affected our economy and Wall Street. In the last few years it became apparent that The Prize needed a badly needed update, not just a chapter added. Instead of completely revamping The Prize, Yergin did one better, he chose to write on the world of energy in general and then incorporate revisions from his previous writings which were necessary. This brings us to “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World”.

We live in world that currently creates $65 trillion per year in gross production of goods and services. Our country does close to $15 trillion of this production, while Europe as a whole does slightly more. Within 20 years the world is expected to produce $130 trillion, that’s a doubling in just 2 decades. Now here’s the problem as laid out in the book. Yergin clearly spells out that in the developed world today we use about 14 barrels of oil per person per year. In the developing countries we use about 3 barrels per person per year. What are we going to do when gross world production goes from $65 trillion to $130 trillion; energy needs must expand along with economic production?

Oil, coal, and natural gas currently provide 80% of the world’s energy needs. It is the thesis of the book that these three sources of energy combined, cannot suffice to answer our energy needs. Yes there is more of each of these sources than previously thought available. As an example, today we produce 5 times the amount of oil than we did in 1957, a remarkable increase, but what is coming down the pike is a need to expand energy to extraordinary levels.

The Book’s Organization

This is a relatively long book composed of 711 pages of narrative without a boring sentence in the entire book. It reads fast in spite of its length. There are 16 pages of bibliography and this bibliography is a useful one if you want to explore this topic further. You will then find 34 pages of footnotes, and I like the footnotes being in the back of the book in this case, as opposed to the end of the chapters as you see in other books. Yergin has given us six parts to ponder in this story of how we will solve our energy problems.

PART I – The New World of Oil

It is in this chapter that the author covers the return of Russia as an energy power. The world is a changing place and Russia has become an energy powerhouse with its abundant oil and gas resources. Yergin also covers the war in Iraq and the rise of China in this part. China’s needs will eclipse our own as their economy continues to rapidly expand. The beauty of a book like this is that you are not only learning about the energy world, but the world in general. It is a fascinating journey as we find out about the emerging superpowers and whether or not America can continue to hold onto economic dominance in a rapidly changing world.

PART II – Securing the Supply

There’s more than one reason why America spends close to $800 billion on defense spending. You have to keep the sea lanes safe for oil and energy transport. Without world trade, America would rapidly sink into a depression since international trade makes up 25% of our Gross Domestic product. In this section the author gives you a thorough survey of what it means to run out of energy including oil and natural gas.

PART III – The ELECTRIC Age

The book makes clear that we may be living in the post industrial age, or the information society, but in terms of energy we are still living in the OBSOLETE Fossil Age, and it has to change. The Electric age is coming to an end, and in this section Yergin tells us the pros and cons of what is coming. You are not getting theories from talking heads. This is the preeminent expert on oil and energy in the world today. Corporations and governments pay a fortune to consult with the author with regard to what he thinks is coming next.

PART IV – Climate and Carbon

Is there glacial change? Is the earth getting warmer? What is the effect of climate change on man’s need for more energy? Where will it come from and can we afford it? Is the internal combustion engine now more than a century old reaching the end of its operational efficiency? Must we go another way? The average SUV weighs 5000 pounds and is being driven around town half the time by soccer moms driving alone? How much longer can we keep the whole process going, and is it changing right before our eyes?

PART V – New Energies

Yes, there are new sources of energy coming. We are going to see wind turbines everywhere, but there is also a 5th source of energy coming. Perhaps it is already here and that is EFFICIENCY. We must get more out of the energy we already have. When Exxon moves oil crude from a pipeline to tanker there is less than one teaspoon of oil that is lost in the process. We must become more efficient as a society and as a world, and we must close the conservation gap, which we haven’t even begun to tackle yet.

PART VI – Road to the Future

How interesting that in the last part of this book the author chooses to deal with what he calls carbohydrate man, and the great electric car experiment. Would you believe that only about 20% of the energy that comes out of the internal combustion engine is efficiently used in the running of a car. The rest comes out of the muffler into the air as heat and lost energy. With electric cars, the efficiency approaches 85%? Batteries are still too heavy however, and they do not last as long as they should. We haven’t even discussed how costly they are to replace. Nevertheless, the electric car is in our future, and this book tells you the whole story.

CONCLUSION

You are going to love this book, all 700 plus pages of it. Nobody tells a more exciting story than Daniel Yergin. To win a Pulitzer Prize you must grip the reader’s attention and never let go from beginning to end, and that is precisely what we have here. It is a non-fiction book that reads like a spy thriller and a reader can’t expect more from a book, especially one on the topic of energy.

I urge you to read anything this man writes. It is rare that Yergin publishes and everything he says has power and relevance attached to it. My only reading wish is to find more books in the same class as “The Quest”. Such books are rare unfortunately, and when you find them, we have to let our friends and other readers know. I thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck

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Henry Kissinger: “If You Can’t Hear the Drums of War You Must Be Deaf”

Alfred Heinz
Sat 28 Jan 2012

NEW YORK – USA – In a remarkable admission by former Nixon era Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, reveals what is happening at the moment in the world and particularly the Middle East.

Speaking from his luxurious Manhattan apartment, the elder statesman, who will be 89 in May, is all too forward with his analysis of the current situation in the world forum of Geo-politics and economics.

“The United States is bating China and Russia, and the final nail in the coffin will be Iran, which is, of course, the main target of Israel. We have allowed China to increase their military strength and Russia to recover from Sovietization, to give them a false sense of bravado, this will create an all together faster demise for them. We’re like the sharp shooter daring the noob to pick up the gun, and when they try, it’s bang bang. The coming war will will be so severe that only one superpower can win, and that’s us folks. This is why the EU is in such a hurry to form a complete superstate because they know what is coming, and to survive, Europe will have to be one whole cohesive state. Their urgency tells me that they know full well that the big showdown is upon us. O how I have dreamed of this delightful moment.”

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

Mr Kissinger then added: “If you are an ordinary person, then you can prepare yourself forwar by moving to the countryside and building a farm, but you must take guns with you, as the hordes of starving will be roaming. Also, even though the elite will have their safe havens and specialist shelters, they must be just as careful during the war as the ordinary civilians, because their shelters can still be compromised.”

After pausing for a few minutes to collect his thoughts, Mr Kissinger, carried on: “We told the military that we would have to take over seven Middle Eastern countries for their resources and they have nearly completed their job. We all know what I think of the military, but I have to say they have obeyed orders superfluously this time. It is just that last stepping stone, i.e. Iran which will really tip the balance. How long can China and Russia stand by and watch America clean up? The great Russian bear and Chinese sickle will be roused from their slumber and this is when Israel will have to fight with all its might and weapons to kill as many Arabs as it can. Hopefully if all goes well, half the Middle East will be Israeli. Our young have been trained well for the last decade or so on combat console games, it was interesting to see the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 game, which mirrors exactly what is to come in the near future with its predictive programming. Our young, in the US and West, are prepared because they have been programmed to be good soldiers, cannon fodder, and when they will be ordered to go out into the streets and fight those crazy Chins and Russkies, they will obey their orders. Out of the ashes we shall build a new society, there will only be one superpower left, and that one will be theglobal government that wins. Don’t forget, the United States, has the best weapons, we have stuff that no other nation has, and we will introduce those weapons to the world when the time is right.”

End of interview. Our reporter is ushered out of the room by Kissinger’s minder.

November 11, 2011, The Daily Squib

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Hmm …. seven countries

and this

In “Winning Modern Wars” (page 130) General Wesley Clark states the following:

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

…He said it with reproach–with disbelief, almost–at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. …I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned.”

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Secret 2001 Pentagon Plan to Attack Lebanon
Bush’s Plan for “Serial War” revealed by General Wesley Clark
by A Concerned Citizen
Global Research, July 23, 2006

“[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark)

According to General Wesley Clark–the Pentagon, by late 2001, was Planning to Attack Lebanon

 “Winning Modern Wars” (page 130) General Clark states the following:

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

…He said it with reproach–with disbelief, almost–at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. …I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned.”

Of course, this is fully consistent with the US Neocons’ master plan, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” published in August 2000 by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)

And, as PNAC’s website ( http://www.newamericancentury.org   ) notes, that the lead author of that plan, Thomas Donnelly, was a top official of Lockheed Martin–a company well acquainted with war and its profit potential.

It’s no surprise that Republicans are starting to talk about withdrawing troops from Iraq; the troops will be needed in Lebanon. And maybe Sudan and Syria?


Note:

More on General Clark–and his failure to mention all this in his pre-Iraq war commentary on CNN–is in Sydney Schanberg’s 9/29/03 article “The Secrets Clark Kept: What the General Never Told Us About the Bush Plan for Serial War” at  http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0340,schanberg,47436,1.html

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Sovereigns Declare War on US Dollar

Posted on on January 25, 2012 // 2 Comments

Iranian Crisis Evolving into Dollar Hegemony and Western Power Challenge

By Chris Blasi

Profoundly significant news came out of the Middle East on Monday January 23, 2012.  The headline via DEBKAfile* reads:

India to Pay Gold Instead of Dollars for Iranian Oil.  Oil and Gold Markets Stunned

Within the body of the report were gleaned these crucial items:

1.    India has become the first buyer of Iranian oil to agree to settle purchases in gold.

2.    China is expected to follow India’s move.

3.    Approximately 40% of Iran’s total oil exports are consumed by India and China.

4.    Settling oil transactions in gold enables Tehran to circumvent the EU’s upcoming freeze on Iran’s Central Bank assets and the oil embargo announced Monday January 23rd.

5.    Due to the magnitude of the transactions proposed, the price of gold is expected to rise and the Dollar’s value depressed on world markets.

6.    The EU currently accounts for approximately 20% of Iran’s oil exports.

7.    The transactions are to be facilitated via two Indian state owned banks and a Turkish state owned bank.

8.    Financial mechanisms have also been implemented between Iran and Russia for the settlement of oil purchases in currencies other than the US Dollar.

At this point in time it is unnecessary to rehash the dismal state of fiscal and monetary affairs that plague the US.  Excluding the willfully delusional, it is clear to any honest analyst that the gargantuan debts of the US can never be paid in full with dollars retaining current purchasing power.  Further, with the insatiable need to issue exponentially growing volumes of debt to keep the welfare/warfare state hobbling along, who would willingly continue to finance such a debacle?  All that’s left to supports this failing fiat experiment is an entrenched, yet deteriorating, reserve currency system to which there has not been a functioning alternative to date.

It is because of this macroeconomic environment, and the policies that gutted a previously productive goods producing economy, that the only tool left for the US to maintain the status quo is to defend at all costs the Dollar’s reserve currency status….and its foundational component the Petro Dollar.  This is most likely the motive behind the quickening drumbeat to go to war with Iran.  If keeping the world safe from rogue states with nuclear capabilities were the sole motive, than why have North Korea and Pakistan been given a pass?

Unlike the invasion of Iraq, whereby that oil rich nation had no allies come to its aid or at least none with the wherewithal to dare protest in a meaningful way, the Iranian crisis is developing into a far more serious geopolitical happening.  Just as most wars are a smokescreen for behind the scenes power plays between the various ruling class, the events unfolding in the Persian Gulf look to be such in spades.  What will shock the world when the actions reported above are fully digested is the choosing of sides and the clandestine development of alternative financial mechanisms by those nations previously believed not ready or unable to challenge the Western elites.

Following years of speculation as to the fate of the US Dollar and the lengths to which Western bankers would go to defend the system that serves them so well, could today’s headlines be the proverbial ringing bell?  Unfortunately, the actions of most bankrupt and overextended empires is to march its people into a calamitous war.  As with all historically recorded futile endeavors in defending the indefensible (i.e. a debt based paper monetary system), the most likely financial survivor will again be gold.

Source

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Iran threatens to hit U.S. targets over Strait of Hormuz as Europe joins oil import ban

  Jan 23, 2012 – 8:08 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 23, 2012 10:01 PM ET

HO/AFP/Getty Images

HO/AFP/Getty Images

USS Abraham Lincoln has passed through the Strait of Hormuz and is now in the Gulf, the Pentagon said Monday after Tehran threatened to close the strategic shipping route.

By Justyna Pawlak and Hossein Jaseb

BRUSSELS/TEHRAN — Iran has warned it could strike U.S. targets worldwide if Washington used force to break any Iranian blockade of a strategically vital shipping route.

The European Union banned imports of oil from Iran on Monday and imposed a number of other economic sanctions, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at deflecting Tehran’s nuclear development program.

In Iran, one politician responded by renewing a threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, an oil export route vital to the global economy, and another said Tehran should cut off crude shipments to the EU immediately.

That might hurt Greece, Italy and other ailing economies which depend heavily on Iranian oil and, as a result, won as part of the EU agreement a grace period until July 1 before the embargo takes full effect. Angry words on either side helped nudge benchmark Brent oil futures above $110 a barrel on Monday.

Iran, which denies trying to build an atom bomb, accused Europe of waging “psychological warfare.” Some Iranians also warned they might strike U.S. targets worldwide if Washington used force to break any Iranian blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

“If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed,” Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament’s foreign affairs and national security committee, told Fars news agency a day after U.S., French and British warships sailed back into the Gulf.

“If America seeks adventures after the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will make the world unsafe for Americans in the shortest possible time,” Kossari added, referring to an earlier U.S. pledge to use its fleet to keep the passage open.

“It is in America’s interests to accept a powerful Iran and not seek military adventures,” he said.

Some analysts say Iran, which denies accusations that it is seeking nuclear weapons, could be in a position to make them next year. So, with Israel warning it could use force to prevent that happening, the row over Tehran’s plans is an increasingly pressing challenge for world leaders, not least U.S. President Barack Obama as he campaigns for re-election in November.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has voiced skepticism about the chances of Iran being persuaded by non-military tactics, called the EU sanctions a “step in the right direction” but said Iran was still developing atomic weapons.

Israel, assumed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, views the Iranian nuclear program as a threat to its survival.

Meeting in Brussels, foreign ministers from the 27-state EU, which as a bloc is Iran’s second biggest customer for crude after China, agreed to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, purchase or transport Iranian crude oil and petroleum products. However, EU countries with existing contracts to buy oil and petroleum products can honor them up to July 1.

EU officials said they also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and ban trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and state bodies.

Along with U.S. sanctions imposed by Obama on December 31, the Western powers hope that choking exports and hence revenue can force Iran’s leaders to agree to curbs on a nuclear program the West says is intended to yield weapons.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Strait of Hormuz: Geography of a chokehold.

EU SEEKS TALKS

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed plans for a visit next week by senior inspectors to try and clear up suspicions raised about the purpose of Iran’s nuclear activities. Tehran is banned by international treaty from developing nuclear weaponry.

“The Agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said in a statement announcing the December 29-31 visit. “The overall objective of the IAEA is to resolve all outstanding substantive issues.”

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said of the new sanctions: “I want the pressure of these sanctions to result in negotiations … I want to see Iran come back to the table and either pick up all the ideas that we left on the table … last year … or to come forward with its own ideas.”

Iran has said lately that it is willing to hold talks with Western powers, though there have been mixed signals on whether conditions imposed by either side make new negotiations likely.

The Islamic Republic insists it is enriching uranium only for electricity and other civilian uses.

It has powerful defenders against the Western action in the form of Russia and China, which argue that the new sanctions are unnecessary, and can also probably count on China and other Asian countries to go on buying much of its oil, despite U.S. and European efforts to dissuade them.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, classifying the EU embargo among “aggravating factors,” said Moscow believed there was a good chance that talks between the six global powers and Iran could resume soon and that Russia would try to steer both Iran and the West away from further confrontation.

A member of Iran’s influential Assembly of Experts, former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, said Tehran should respond to the delayed-action EU sanctions by stopping sales to the bloc immediately, denying the Europeans time to arrange alternative supplies and damaging their economies with higher oil prices.

“The best way is to stop exporting oil ourselves before the end of this six months and before the implementation of the plan,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

He reiterated that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel between the Gulf and open sea through which a third of all oil tanker traffic passes to importers around the world.

Washington has said it will not tolerate any closure, a position underlined by Sunday’s passage through the strait of a U.S. flotilla around the carrier Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by two European frigates, Britain’s Argyll and France’s La Motte-Picquet.

HORMUZ THREAT

While the Western powers were at pains to describe their naval movement through the strait as routine, a view echoed by the Revolutionary Guards, they also stressed its symbolism.

“On this occasion HMS Argyll and a French vessel joined a U.S. carrier group transiting through the Strait of Hormuz, to underline the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law,” Britain’s defense ministry said in a statement.

In Paris, spokesman Thierry Burkhard said: “It’s a sign to Iran if they want to consider it like that.”

Iran, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter and also rich in natural gas, says it is refining uranium and developing other nuclear technologies to meet rising energy needs. But the UN nuclear watchdog agency reported in November that it had evidence suggesting Iran had worked on designing an atomic bomb.

The unprecedented effort to take Iran’s 2.6 million barrels of oil per day off international markets has kept global prices high, pushed down Iran’s rial currency and caused a surge in the cost of basic goods for Iranians.

© Thomson Reuters 2012

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The Iranian oil embargo: does this mean war?

The EU has decided on sanctions that Tehran has long said would represent a declaration of war. What will follow.

, diplomatic editor
European Union foreign minsters meeting in Brussels on Monday have given preliminary approval to ban Iranian crude oil imports Link to this videoThe decision to impose an EU oil embargo on Iran, agreed on Monday by European foreign ministers, sets a potential bomb ticking, timed to detonate on 1 July.On that day, according to the package of measures on the table in Brussels, Europewill stop importing oil from Iran, about a fifth of the country’s total exports. At about the same time, US sanctions targeted at the global financing of Iran’s oil trade will also kick in. Iran could still export some of its oil to Asia, but at big discounts.Unlike previous sanctions on Iran, the oil embargo would hit almost all citizens and represent a threat to the regime. Tehran has long said such actions would represent a declaration of war, and there are legal experts in the west who agree.The threat of an immediate clash in the Gulf appeared to recede over the weekend when the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and its task force, including the British frigate HMS Argyll and a French warship, travelled through the strait of Hormuz without incident. This was despite warnings earlier this month from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that it would oppose the return of a US carrier to the region.But tensions are almost certain to build again as the effective date of the oil sanctions approaches. The US has already begun beefing up its military presence in the region, and the IRGC is planning new naval war games next month. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi told the Fars news agency earlier this month that the upcoming exercises, codenamed “the Great Messenger”, would be different from previous war games, without going into detail.

Iran’s oil supply

The strait of Hormuz is the kink in the hose of the Gulf’s oil supply to the world. A small amount of pressure can have a disproportionate effect, sending world crude prices soaring and starving the world’s oil-dependent economies.

At its narrowest point, between the Oman peninsula and the Iranian islands off Bandar Abbas, the strait is 20 miles wide, but the channels down which more than a third of the world’s ocean-borne oil flows – 17m barrels a day – are even more tenuous. The tanker lanes going in each direction are just 2 miles wide in parts, through the deep water off Oman and then again, further west, inside Iranian territorial waters.

This is where oil tankers are most vulnerable to an Iranian attempt to turn off the global petrol pump. It was enough for an Iranian official to simply raise the prospect of closing the strait, in retaliation for the threat of sanctions, for the world price of crude to rise to $115 (£74) a barrel. Maintained over the long term, that is costly enough to strangle any hint of a global economic recovery.

That is what makes Iranian naval action in the Gulf such a potent weapon. But it is a decidedly double-edged one, potentially more lethal to Iran than its adversaries. For, while Saudi Arabia can bypass the strait by pipeline, all of Iran’s oil terminals are west of the choke point. Iran would cut off its own lifeblood, which accounts for more than 60% of its economy.

Furthermore, the US has made clear that interruption to sea traffic in the Gulf would be a “red line”, triggering an overwhelming military response in which Iran’s nuclear facilities would be on the target lists. Until now, the US military has ruled out strikes on the nuclear programme, as the costs of starting a war with Iran outweigh the gains of setting the programme back, in defence secretary Leon Panetta’s estimation, one or two years at most. But if the US was going to war anyway over oil, that cost-benefit analysis would change.

So closing the strait outright would be – if not suicidal – an exercise in extreme self-harm for Iran. But the choice facing Tehran is not a binary one.

There is a spectrum of options falling well short of total closure; forms of harassment of the oil trade that would drive the price of crude up and keep it up, very much to Iran’s benefit, but fall short of a casus belli for war. However, exercising such options requires subtlety and fine judgment on all sides and that is by no means a given.

In a period of sustained high tension, an over-zealous Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander could seize his moment to start a war, or a nervous American captain, his vessel just seconds from Iran’s anti-ship missiles, could just as easily miscalculate. The last time Iran and America played chicken in this particular stretch of water, in 1988, a missile cruiser called the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing 290 civilians including 66 children.

The shadow of Iran Air 655 hangs over the current standoff, as a reminder of how even the world’s mightiest and most advanced militaries cannot necessarily control a situation in which tensions have been allowed to escalate.

US military options

There is no doubting the overwhelming firepower at America’s disposal. The US Fifth Fleet, whose job it is to patrol the Gulf, is expected to be beefed up from one to two aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, as it has pulled its troops out of Iraq, the Pentagon has quietly boosted its army’s presence in Kuwait. The Los Angeles Times reported that it now has 15,000 troops there, including two army brigades and a helicopter unit. The US is also bolstered by the significant naval presence of its British and Gulf allies.

The Iranian military looks puny by comparison, but it is powerful enough to do serious damage to commercial shipping. It has three Kilo-class Russian diesel submarines which run virtually silently and are thought to have the capacity to lay mines. And it has a large fleet of mini-submarines and thousands of small boats armed with anti-ship missiles which can pass undetected by ship-borne radar until very close. It also has a “martyrdom” tradition that could provide willing suicide attackers.

The Fifth Fleet’s greatest concern is that such asymmetric warfare could be used to overpower the sophisticated defences of its ships, particularly in the narrow confines of the Hormuz strait, which is scattered with craggy cove-filled Iranian islands ideal for launching stealth attacks.

In 2002, the US military ran a $250m (£160m) exercise called Millennium Challenge, pitting the US against an unnamed rogue state with lots of small boats and willing martyr brigades. The rogue state won, or at least was winning when the Pentagon brass decided to shut the exercise down. At the time, it was presumed that the adversary was Iraq as war with Saddam Hussein was in the air. But the fighting style mirrored that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

In the years since, much US naval planning has focused on how to counter “swarm tactics” – attacks on US ships by scores of boats, hundreds of missiles, suicide bombers and mines, all at once.

“Every couple of weeks in Washington you can go to a different conference on swarming,” said Sam Gardiner, a retired US air force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College. “War games have shown that swarming, missiles and mines all together put a strain on the capacity of ships to defend themselves. Your challenge is how to protect your minesweepers from swarming techniques.”

One of the US naval responses has been to develop a new kind of fighting vessel, the littoral combat ship (LCS), tailor-made for countering Iran’s naval tactics. The LCS is sleek, small and agile with a shallow draft and high speeds, allowing it to operate along island-pocked coastlines.

At the low-tech end of the scale, the Fifth Fleet is reported to have deployed a significant number of dolphins trained to seek out mines.

Ultimately, the US response to swarming will be to use American dominance in the air and multitudes of precision-guided missiles to escalate rapidly and dramatically, wiping out every Iranian missile site, radar, military harbour and jetty on the coast. Almost certainly, the air strikes would also go after command posts and possibly nuclear sites too. There is little doubt of the effectiveness of such a strategy as a deterrent, but it also risks turning a naval skirmish into all-out war at short notice.

Iranian tactics

For that reason, most military analysts argue that if Iran does decide to exact reprisals for oil sanctions, it is likely to follow another route. Gardiner believes the most likely model will be the “tanker war” between Iran and Iraq from 1984 to 1987. The aim would be to raise insurance premiums and other shipping costs, and so boost oil prices as a way of inflicting pain on the west and replacing revenues lost through the embargo.

“They wouldn’t necessarily do anything immediately. If they do what they did in the tanker war, a mine would be hit and it wouldn’t be clear exactly how long it had been there. Things like that push up the price of oil. People talk about a spike in oil prices, but it might be more like a plateau,” Gardiner said.

“The answer is not to escalate. You start protecting tankers and searching for mines.”

Even if Iran decides on retaliation, there is no reason for it to be confined to an immediate response in the strait. It could target the oil price with acts of sabotage aimed at Arab state oil facilities along the southern shore of the Gulf, or western interests could be targeted anywhere around the world, months or years after the imposition of an embargo.

Adam Lowther, of the US air force’s Air University, pointed out recently on the Diplomat blog that Iran’s “ministry of intelligence and national security (MOIS), Iran’s espionage service, is among the most competent in the world”.

“Over the past 30 years, MOIS agents have successfully hunted down and assassinated dissidents, former officials of the shah’s government, and real or perceived threats to the regime. MOIS is still capable of carrying out assassinations, espionage, and other kinetic attacks against government and civilian targets. The spy service is also likely to have covert agents in the United States,” Lowther said.

Ehsan Mehrabi, an Iranian journalist specialising in military and strategic issues who recently left the country, wrote on the Inside Iran website: “I recall a famous Iranian idiom that was quite popular among the military officials: ‘If we drown, we’ll drown everyone with us’. They were pretty clear about their intention. If attacked by a western power, the war would not be contained within the Iranian borders. The entire world would become Iran’s battleground – at least this was their thinking.”

Obama administration officials believe that last year’s Washington bomb plot, in which Revolutionary Guard officials are alleged to have planned to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US by blowing up his favourite restaurant in the American capital, could have been an attempt to settle scores for some past incident.

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA official said recently at a seminar in Washington organised by the Atlantic Council: “One of the ways Iran can hurt us which is not often talked about is Iranians’ capacity to hurt us in Obama’s war, in Afghanistan. The Iranians are already superbly placed to make the war in the Afghanistan – which is already difficult – impossible.”

All these options however represent high-risk strategies, fraught with risks of miscalculation. In the tanker war scenario, maintaining the line between war and peace would, in effect, be delegated to relatively junior officers, forced to make high-stakes decisions in a matter of seconds, the exact set of circumstances that led to the 1988 Airbus disaster. Even if Washington and Tehran remain determined to avoid an all-out war, with every passing month there is a rising chance of one breaking out by accident.

• This article was amended on 24 January 2012 to clarify that the 17m barrels of oil flowing through the Strait of Hormuz is a daily figure.

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EU Iran Oil Embargo Sanctions ‘Unprecedented’

DON MELVIN   01/23/12 02:40 PM ET   AP

BRUSSELS — The European Union and Iran raised the stakes Monday in their test of wills over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, with the bloc banning the purchase of Iranian oil and Iran threatening to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude is transported.

The escalating confrontation is fraught with risks – of rising energy prices, global financial instability, and potential military activity to keep the strait open.

The EU’s 27 foreign ministers, meeting Monday in Brussels, imposed an oil embargo against Iran and froze the assets of its central bank, ramping up sanctions designed to pressure Iranian officials into resuming talks on the country’s nuclear program.

EU officials say the tighter sanctions are part of a carrot-and-stick approach, an effort to increase pressure while at the same time emphasizing their willingness to talk.

In Washington, Department of State Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Department of the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner welcomed the EU decision, calling it “another strong step in the international effort to dramatically increase the pressure on Iran.” In their joint statement, they said the EU sanctions, combined with earlier ones imposed by the U.S. and the international community, `will sharpen the choice for Iran’s leaders and increase their cost of defiance of basic international obligations.”

But the initial response out of Tehran, the Iranian capital, was harsh.

Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, called the economic sanctions “illogical and unfair” saying: “It is only understandable in the framework of propaganda and psychological war.”

Mehmanparast was quoted by website of state broadcasting company as saying, “Pressure and sanctions against a nation that has a strong logic and reason for its policy is a failed method.”

He said due to the world’s long-term need for energy, “It is not possible to impose sanctions on Iran,” which has huge resources of oil and gas.

And two Iranian lawmakers threatened that their country would close the strait in retaliation for the EU embargo.

Lawmaker Mohammad Ismail Kowsari, deputy head of Iran’s influential committee on national security, said Monday the strait “would definitely be closed if the sale of Iranian oil is violated in any way.”

The strait – just 34 miles (54 kilometers) wide at its narrowest point – runs alongside Iran and is the only way to get from the Persian Gulf to the open sea. Tensions over the potential impact its closure would have on global oil supplies and the price of crude have weighed heavily on consumers and traders. The U.S. and Britain both have warned Iran not to disrupt the world’s oil supply.

After news of the EU move, benchmark crude for March delivery rose 90 cents on the day to $99.23 a barrel in early morning European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was down 35 cents at $109.51 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.

Many analysts doubt that Iran would maintain a blockade for long, but any supply shortages would cause world oil supplies to tighten temporarily. But Kowsari said that, in case of the strait’s closure, the U.S. and its allies would not be able to reopen the route, and warned America not to attempt any “military adventurism.”

An American aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln entered the Gulf on Sunday without incident to conduct scheduled maritime security operations, and U.S. warships frequently operate in the Gulf. But when the carrier USS John Stennis departed the Gulf in late December, Iranian officials warned the U.S. not to return. The British Ministry of Defense said British and French warships joined the U.S. carrier group transiting through the Strait of Hormuz “to underline the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the sanctions are a severe mistake likely to worsen tensions. “It’s apparent that in this case there is open pressure and diktat, aimed at ‘punishing’ Iran for uncooperative behavior. This is a deeply mistaken policy, as we have told our European partners more than once,” the ministry said in a statement. “Under pressure of this sort, Iran will not make any concessions or any corrections to its policies,” it said.

The EU sanctions include an include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products. Existing contracts with Iran will be allowed to run until July.

Last month, the U.S. enacted new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad, but it has delayed implementing the sanctions for at least six months, worried about sending the price of oil higher at a time when the global economy is struggling.

Other countries are steering clear of such measures altogether. China also does not support an embargo, and Japan’s finance minister, Jun Azumi, has expressed concern about the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Iran – not to mention their potential impact on Japanese banks.

Some 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue comes from oil exports and any sanctions that affect its ability to export oil would hit its economy hard. With about 4 million barrels per day, Iran is the second largest producer in OPEC.

“It means that we will paralyze, bit by bit, Iran’s economic activity and keep the country from using a major part of its resources,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. “You can be skeptical, but it is better than making war.”

At the heart of the dispute is international unease about Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and other nations suspect it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran is now under several rounds of U.N. sanctions for not being more forthcoming about its nuclear program.

Late Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a joint statement urging Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities.

“Our message is clear,” the statement said. “We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. But the Iranian leadership has failed to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program. We will not accept Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Iran’s denials of military intent have utterly failed to convince EU officials.

“The recent start of operations of enrichment of uranium to a level of up to 20 percent in the deeply buried underground facility in Fordo near Qom further aggravates concerns about the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” the foreign ministers said in a statement Monday.

That accelerated enrichment is in violation of six U.N. Security Council resolutions and 11 resolutions by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, “and contributes to rising tensions in the region,” the statement said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the embargo part of “an unprecedented set of sanctions.”

“I think this shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue,” Hague said.

The EU also decided to freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank. Together, the two measures are intended not only to pressure Iran to agree to talks but also to choke off funding for its nuclear activities.

Before Monday’s decision, negotiators worked hard to try to ensure that the embargo would punish only Iran – and not EU member Greece, which is in dire financial trouble and relies heavily on low-priced Iranian oil.

The foreign ministers agreed to a review of the effects of the sanctions, to be completed by May 1. And they agreed in principle to make up the costs Greece incurs as a result of the embargo.

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Raf Casert in Brussels, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Matthew Pennington in Washington, and Gregory Katz in London contributed to this report.

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India abandons US dollar to purchase Iranian oil

Jan 24, 2012

Every year India spends $12 billion on purchasing oil from Iran, but now it is using gold instead of dollars. India might not be alone; China has suggested it would jump on board with India. New Delhi and Beijing account for 40 percent of the Iranian oil exports. Priya Sridhar gives us her report.

> SEE news video  HERE

Petrodollar warfare: The US shoots itself in the foot

RT America
Sat 28 Jan 2012

India abandons US dollar to purchase Iranian oil?

Most oil sales throughout the world are denominated in United States dollars (USD). According to proponents of the petrodollar warfare hypothesis, because most countries rely on oil imports, they are forced to maintain large stockpiles of dollars in order to continue imports. This creates a consistent demand for USDs and upwards pressure on the USD’s value, regardless of economic conditions in the United States. This in turn allegedly allows the US government to gain revenues through seignorage and by issuing bonds at lower interest rates than they otherwise would be able to. As a result the U.S. government can run higher budget deficits at a more sustainable level than can most other countries. A stronger USD also means that goods imported into the United States are relatively cheap.

Another component of the hypothesis is that the price of oil is more stable in the U.S. than anywhere else, since importers do not need to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. Since the U.S. imports a great deal of oil, its markets are heavily reliant on oil and its derivative products (jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline, etc.) for their energy needs. The price of oil can be an important political factor; U.S. administrations are quite sensitive to the price of oil.

Political enemies of the United States therefore have some interest in seeing oil prices denominated in pretty much anything but the US dollar.

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India to Trade Gold for Oil and Your Dollar Hangs in the Balance!

Listen to this post.

I guarantee that you’re not going to hear this in the mainstream media here in the United States. In fact, I had a very hard time just finding this story on the Internet.

I also have to say that I am shocked that this story is not making headlines across the world, especially here in the United States, but I certainly understand why it is not happening.

What am I referring to?

The fact that today it was announce, India has reached an agreement with Iran to pay them in Gold for their Oil.

What’s the Big Deal?

In case that headline doesn’t mean much to you or you don’t understand its implications, allow me to explain a bit further.

The U.S dollar is currently the reserve currency of the world and has held this status since we officially abandoned the gold standard.

I say ‘currently’ because I believe that one day, in the not so distant future, the U.S dollar will lose that status as reserve currency which will not be very good news for those Americans hoarding India Pays Gold for Oildollars.

Prior to us abandoning the Gold Standard in 1971, the Bretton Woods Agreement established a monetary system in which the dollar was directly tied (asset backed) to physical gold and every other currency in the word was tied to the U.S Dollar.

When the U.S abandoned the gold standard, the U.S dollar became the official reserve currency of the world, backed solely by the confidence of world governments.

Consequently, reserve currency status means that when countries trade goods and services, they do so using the official reserve currency (the dollar) to price their goods.

If a country has no dollars, then they must buy dollars in their own currency to be able to transact.

Again, remember, the only reason we (the United States) have reserve currency status is because governments around the world still believe that U.S dollar is a safe haven, or a healthy currency.

The U.S Dollar Reign is coming to an End Soon!

Back in December of 2011 I read an article that announced China and Japan, the worlds second and third largest economies, respectively, had agreed to drop the U.S dollar and trade in t heir own currencies.

I was shocked to read that because not only does that mean that the 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the world are losing confidence in the dollar, but it completely undermined that currency all together.

Early this month, I read that Iran and Russia had also drafted up that same agreement – dropping the U.S dollar to trade in their own currencies.

Again, I was shocked and disturbed that none of this was making headlines in the news.

And then, a Bombshell

Yesterday, January 23, 2011 India announced that it was to pay Iran in Gold for its Oil and China was expected to also follow suite.

No longer will they use the dollar to buy their oil, but now, Gold.

This, in my opinion, should be making headlines in U.S because it is a clear indication that major countries around the world:

  1. No longer respect the dollar as reserve currency
  2. Proves to completely undermine a fiat currency (not asset backed); they won’t even use their own currencies.
  3. And, is the first time precious metals are significantly preferred and used for trade since the gold standard.

In other words, I would be very nervous right about now if I were hoarding dollars!

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Gold for Iran oil? Govt declines any comment

gold.jpg
A reputed Israeli intelligence website has claimed that India is opting for gold to repay crude oil supplies from Iran.

TNN | Jan 26, 2012, 02.28AM IST

NEW DELHI: A reputed Israeli intelligence website has claimed that India is opting for gold to repay crude oil supplies from Iran. Given the US and EU embargo on Iran, payment in hard currency, such as the US dollar or euro, is very difficult; hence, this barter.

The website, Debkafile, said the transaction will be routed through UCO Bank, the Kolkata-based public sector lender. However, when contacted, a senior bank executive said he had not heard of any plans to settle oil payments in gold. A senior finance ministry official said he did not wish to comment on the issue. When reached over the phone, economic affairs secretary R Gopalan, who has been leading the talks with Iran, said he was busy in a meeting and did not respond to a text message.

The report on the Israeli website coincides with the visit of an Indian official delegation to Tehran last week to find ways to continue the bilateral trade between Iran and India in spite of the sanctions imposed for forcing Iran to forsake its alleged plans for developing nuclear weapons.

While the use of gold as currency may help India get around the proposed freeze on Iranian central bank’s assets and the oil embargo that the EU foreign ministers have agreed to impose on Monday, any outflow of sovereign gold will not go undetected, bringing in the political consequences of flouting the West-imposed embargo.

Keeping the Iran crude oil tap running is crucial for India which depends on imports to meet around 80% of its oil requirements. Iranian crude accounts for a 12% share in India’s total oil imports and any threat to this would have grave implications for the Indian economy.

On Wednesday, petroleum minister S Jaipal Reddy made clear India’s stance on the sanctions and said that New Delhi would continue to explore “options” for paying oil from Iran. He added that India would abide only by UN sanctions, and not those imposed by a group of countries.

Officials said another option that the government was looking at was to pay with the Indian currency (India has had a rupee-rouble agreement with Russia). According to the mechanism discussed with Iran, the exports and imports will be netted out and India will pay in rupees through Uco Bank. India is a net importer due to crude from Iran.

India and Iran have been negotiating a payment settlement mechanism for over a year but a stable tool is yet to emerge. Under the last deal, payments by Indian oil firms were routed through Union Bank of India which transferred funds to a Turkish bank.

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Oil or Terrorism: Which Motivates U.S. Policy More?

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Sun 19 Dec 2010

Among the batch of classified diplomatic cables recently released by the controversial whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, several have highlighted the vast extent of the financial infrastructure of Islamist terrorism sponsored by key U.S. allies in the ongoing “War on Terror.”

One cable by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2009 notes that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Despite this, “Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT [Lashkar e-Tayyiba] groups that are also aligned with al-Qaeda.”

Clinton raises similar concerns about other states in the Gulf and Central Asia. Kuwait remains reluctant “to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside of Kuwait.” The United Arab Emirates is “vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks” due to lack of regulatory oversight. Qatar’s cooperation with U.S. counter-terrorism is the “worst in the region,” and authorities are “hesitant to act against known terrorists.” Pakistani military intelligence officials “continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organizations, in particular the Taliban [and the] LeT.”

Despite such extensive knowledge of these terrorism financing activities, successive U.S. administrations have not only failed to exert military or economic pressure on these countries, but in fact have actively protected them, funnelling billions of dollars of military and economic assistance. The reason is oil.

It’s the Hydrocarbons, Stupid

Oil has always been an overwhelming Western interest in the region, beginning with Britain’s discovery of it in Persia in 1908. Britain controlled most Middle East oil until the end of World War II, after which the United States secured its sphere of influence in Saudi Arabia. After some pushback, Britain eventually accepted the United States as the lead player in the region. “US-UK agreement upon the broad, forward-looking pattern for the development and utilisation of petroleum resources under the control of nationals of the two countries is of the highest strategic and commercial importance”, reads a 1945 memo from the chief of the State Department’s Petroleum Division.

Anglo-U.S. geo-strategy exerted this control through alliances with the region’s most authoritarian regimes to ensure a cheap and stable supply of petroleum to Western markets. Recently declassified secret British Foreign Office files from the 1940s and 1950s confirm that the Gulf sheikhdoms were largely created to retain British influence in the Middle East. Britain pledged to protect them from external attack and to “counter hostile influence and propaganda within the countries themselves.” Police and military training would help in “maintaining internal security.” Similarly, in 1958 a U.S. State Department official noted that the Gulf sheikhdoms should be modernized without undermining “the fundamental authority of the ruling groups.”

The protection of some of the world’s most virulent authoritarian regimes thus became integral to maintaining Anglo-U.S. geopolitical control of the world’s strategic hydrocarbon energy reserves. Our governments have willingly paid a high price for this access – the price of national security.

Still Funding Radicalism

One of al-Qaeda’s chief grievances against the West is what Osama bin Laden dubs the “Crusader-Jewish” presence in the lands of Islam, including support for repressive Arab regimes. Under U.S. direction and sponsorship, many of these allies played a central role in financing and supporting bin Laden’s mujahideen networks in Afghanistan to counter Soviet influence. It is perhaps less well understood that elements of the same regimes continued to support bin Laden’s networks long after the Cold War – and that they have frequently done so incollusion with U.S. intelligence services for short-sighted geopolitical interests.

In fact, Afghanistan provides a rather revealing example. From 1994 to 2001, assisted by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Clinton and Bush II administrations covertly sponsored, flirted and negotiated with the Taliban as a vehicle of regional influence. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, former White House Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan, also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia about the “covert policy that has empowered the Taliban,” in the hopes of bringing sufficient stability to “permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan.”

The Great Game is still in full swing. “Since the U.S.-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power, the project has been revived and drawn strong U.S. support” reported the Associated Press in 2005. “The pipeline would allow formerly Soviet Central Asian nations to export rich energy resources without relying on Russian routes. The project’s main sponsor is the Asian Development Bank” – in which the United States is the largest shareholder alongside Japan. It so happens that the southern section of the proposed pipeline runs through territory still under de facto Taliban control, where NATO war efforts are focused.

Other evidence demonstrates that control of the world’s strategic energy reserves has always been a key factor in the direction of the “War on Terror”. For instance, the April 2001 study commissioned by then-Vice President Dick Cheneyconfirmed official fears of an impending global oil supply crunch, energy shortages, and “the need for military intervention” in the Middle East to maintain stability.

Energy and Iran

Other diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show clearly that oil now remains central to U.S. policy toward Iran, depicting an administration desperate to “wean the world” off Iran’s oil supply, according to the London Telegraph. With world conventional oil production most likely having peaked around 2006, Iran is one of few major suppliers that can potentially boost oil output by another 3 million barrels, and natural gas output by even more.  The nuclear question is not the real issue, but provides ample pretext for isolating Iran.

But the U.S. anti-Iran stance has been highly counterproductive. In a series of dispatches for the New YorkerSeymour Hersh cited U.S. government and intelligence officials confirming that the CIA and the Pentagon have funnelled millions of dollars via Saudi Arabia to al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremist groups across the Middle East and Central Asia. The policy – officially confirmed by aU.S. Presidential Finding in early 2008 – began in 2003 and has spilled over into regions like Iraq and Lebanon, fuelling Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian conflict.

Not only did no Democratic members of the House ever contest the policy but President Obama reappointed the architect of the policy – Robert Gates – as his defence secretary. As former National Security Council staffers Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett observe, Obama’s decision earlier this year to step up covert military operations in North Africa and the Middle East marked an “intensification of America’s covert war against Iran.”

This anti-Iran directive, which extends covert U.S. support for anti-Shi’ite Islamist militant networks linked to al-Qaeda, hardly fits neatly into the stated objectives of the “War on Terror.” Unless we recognize that controlling access to energy, not fighting terror, is the primary motive.

Beyond Dependency

While classified covert operations continue to bolster terrorist activity, the Obama administration struggles vainly to deal with the geopolitical fall-out. Getting out of this impasse requires, first, recognition of our over-dependence on hydrocarbon energy sources to the detriment of real national security. Beholden to the industry lobbyists and the geopolitical dominance that control of oil provides, Western governments have supported dictatorial regimes that fuel widespread resentment in the Muslim world. Worse, the West has tolerated and until recently colluded in the sponsorship of al-Qaeda terrorist activity by these regimes precisely to maintain the existing global energy system.

Given the convergence of peak oil and climate change, it is imperative totransition to a new, renewable energy system.  Such a transition will mitigate the impact of hydrocarbon energy depletion, help prevent the worst effects of anthropogenic global warming, and contribute to economic stability through infrastructure development and job creation.

By weaning us off our reliance on dubious foreign regimes, a shift to renewables and away from supporting oil dictatorships will also make us safer.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development in London and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus. His latest book is A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010). He blogs at The Cutting Edge.

December 15, 2010, Foreign Policy in Focus

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Energy Wars 2012

Michael T. Klare
Thu 12 Jan 2012

The Three Top Hot Spots of Potential Conflict in the Geo-Energy Era

Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk.  With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs.  In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.

Take the Strait of Hormuz, already making headlines and shaking energy markets as 2012 begins.  Connecting the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it lacks imposing geographical features like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Golden Gate Bridge.  In an energy-conscious world, however, it may possess greater strategic significance than any passageway on the planet.  Every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankers carrying some 17 million barrels of oil — representing 20% of the world’s daily supply — pass through this vital artery.

So last month, when a senior Iranian official threatened to block the strait in response to Washington’s tough new economic sanctions, oil prices instantly soared. While the U.S. military has vowed to keep the strait open, doubts about the safety of future oil shipments and worries about a potentially unending, nerve-jangling crisis involving Washington, Tehran, and Tel Aviv have energy experts predicting high oil prices for months to come, meaning further woes for a slowing global economy.

The Strait of Hormuz is, however, only one of several hot spots where energy, politics, and geography are likely to mix in dangerous ways in 2012 and beyond.  Keep your eye as well on the East and South China Seas, the Caspian Sea basin, and an energy-rich Arctic that is losing its sea ice.  In all of these places, countries are disputing control over the production and transportation of energy, and arguing about national boundaries and/or rights of passage.

In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes — pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes — will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map.  Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets.  More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales.

You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks.  Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.”

In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises.  This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin.

The Strait of Hormuz

A narrow stretch of water separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the strait is the sole maritime link between the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the rest of the world.  A striking percentage of the oil produced by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is carried by tanker through this passageway on a daily basis, making it (in the words of the Department of Energy) “the world’s most important oil chokepoint.”  Some analysts believe that any sustained blockage in the strait could trigger a 50% increase in the price of oil and trigger a full-scale global recession or depression.

American leaders have long viewed the Strait as a strategic fixture in their global plans that must be defended at any cost.  It was an outlook first voiced by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, on the heels of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which had, he told Congress, “brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow.”  The American response, he insisted, must be unequivocal: any attempt by a hostile power to block the waterway would henceforth be viewed as “an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” and “repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Much has changed in the Gulf region since Carter issued his famous decree, known since as the Carter Doctrine, and established the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to guard the Strait — but not Washington’s determination to ensure the unhindered flow of oil there.  Indeed, President Obama has made it clear that, even if CENTCOM ground forces were to leave Afghanistan, as they have Iraq, there would be no reduction in the command’s air and naval presence in the greater Gulf area.

It is conceivable that the Iranians will put Washington’s capabilities to the test.  On December 27th, Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said, “If [the Americans] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.”  Similar statements have since been made by other senior officials (and contradicted as well by yet others).  In addition, the Iranians recently conducted elaborate naval exercises in the Arabian Sea near the eastern mouth of the strait, and more such maneuvers are said to be forthcoming.  At the same time, the commanding general of Iran’s army suggested that the USS John C. Stennis, an American aircraft carrier just leaving the Gulf, should not return.  “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added ominously, “will not repeat its warning.”

Might the Iranians actually block the strait?  Many analysts believe that the statements by Rahimi and his colleagues are bluster and bluff meant to rattle Western leaders, send oil prices higher, and win future concessions if negotiations ever recommence over their country’s nuclear program.  Economic conditions in Iran are, however, becoming more desperate, and it is always possible that the country’s hard-pressed hardline leaders may feel the urge to take some dramatic action, even if it invites a powerful U.S. counterstrike.  Whatever the case, the Strait of Hormuz will remain a focus of international attention in 2012, with global oil prices closely following the rise and fall of tensions there.

The South China Sea

The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed portion of the western Pacific bounded by China to the north, Vietnam to the west, the Philippines to the east, and the island of Borneo (shared by Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia) to the south.  The sea also incorporates two largely uninhabited island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys.  Long an important fishing ground, it has also been a major avenue for commercial shipping between East Asia and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  More recently, it acquired significance as a potential source of oil and natural gas, large reserves of which are now believed to lie in subsea areas surrounding the Paracels and Spratlys.

With the discovery of oil and gas deposits, the South China Sea has been transformed into a cockpit of international friction.  At least some islands in this energy-rich area are claimed by every one of the surrounding countries, including China — which claims them all, and has demonstrated a willingness to use military force to assert dominance in the region.  Not surprisingly, this has put it in conflict with the other claimants, including several with close military ties to the United States.  As a result, what started out as a regional matter, involving China and various members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has become a prospective tussle between the world’s two leading powers.

To press their claims, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all sought to work collectively through ASEAN, believing a multilateral approach will give them greater negotiating clout than one-on-one dealings with China. For their part, the Chinese have insisted that all disputes must be resolved bilaterally, a situation in which they can more easily bring their economic and military power to bear.  Previously preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has now entered the fray, offering full-throated support to the ASEAN countries in their efforts to negotiate en masse with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi promptly warned the United States not to interfere.  Any such move “will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult,” he declared.  The result was an instant war of words between Beijing and Washington.  During a visit to the Chinese capital in July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen delivered a barely concealed threat when it came to possible future military action.  “The worry, among others that I have,” he commented, “is that the ongoing incidents could spark a miscalculation, and an outbreak that no one anticipated.”  To drive the point home, the United States has conducted a series of conspicuous military exercises in the South China Sea, including some joint maneuvers with ships from Vietnam and the Philippines.  Not to be outdone, China responded with naval maneuvers of its own.  It’s a perfect formula for future “incidents” at sea.

The South China Sea has long been on the radar screens of those who follow Asian affairs, but it only attracted global attention when, in November, President Obama traveled to Australia and announced, with remarkable bluntness, a new U.S. strategy aimed at confronting Chinese power in Asia and the Pacific.  “As we plan and budget for the future,” he told members of the Australian Parliament in Canberra, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.”  A key feature of this effort would be to ensure “maritime security” in the South China Sea.

While in Australia, President Obama also announced the establishment of a new U.S. base at Darwin on that country’s northern coast, as well as expanded military ties with Indonesia and the Philippines.  In January, the president similarly placed special emphasis on projecting U.S. power in the region when he went to the Pentagon to discuss changes in the American military posture in the world.

Beijing will undoubtedly take its own set of steps, no less belligerent, to protect its growing interests in the South China Sea.  Where this will lead remains, of course, unknown.  After the Strait of Hormuz, however, the South China Sea may be the global energy chokepoint where small mistakes or provocations could lead to bigger confrontations in 2012 and beyond.

The Caspian Sea Basin

The Caspian Sea is an inland body of water bordered by Russia, Iran, and three former republics of the USSR: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.  In the immediate area as well are the former Soviet lands of Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.  All of these old SSRs are, to one degree or another, attempting to assert their autonomy from Moscow and establish independent ties with the United States, the European Union, Iran, Turkey, and, increasingly, China.  All are wracked by internal schisms and/or involved in border disputes with their neighbors.  The region would be a hotbed of potential conflict even if the Caspian basin did not harbor some of the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of oil and natural gas, which could easily bring it to a boil.

This is not the first time that the Caspian has been viewed as a major source of oil, and so potential conflict.  In the late nineteenth century, the region around the city of Baku — then part of the Russian empire, now in Azerbaijan — was a prolific source of petroleum and so a major strategic prize.  Future Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin first gained notoriety there as a leader of militant oil workers, and Hitler sought to capture it during his ill-fated 1941 invasion of the USSR.  After World War II, however, the region lost its importance as an oil producer when Baku’s onshore fields dried up.  Now, fresh discoveries are being made in offshore areas of the Caspian itself and in previously undeveloped areas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

According to energy giant BP, the Caspian area harbors as much as 48 billion barrels of oil (mostly buried in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) and 449 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (with the largest supply in Turkmenistan).  This puts the region ahead of North and South America in total gas reserves and Asia in oil reserves.  But producing all this energy and delivering it to foreign markets will be a monumental task.  The region’s energy infrastructure is woefully inadequate and the Caspian itself provides no maritime outlet to other seas, so all that oil and gas must travel by pipeline or rail.

Russia, long the dominant power in the region, is pursuing control over the transportation routes by which Caspian oil and gas will reach markets.  It is upgrading Soviet-era pipelines that link the former SSRs to Russia or building new ones and, to achieve a near monopoly over the marketing of all this energy, bringing traditional diplomacy, strong-arm tactics, and outright bribery to bear on regional leaders (many of whom once served in the Soviet bureaucracy) to ship their energy via Russia.  As recounted in my book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, Washington sought to thwart these efforts by sponsoring the construction of alternative pipelines that avoid Russian territory, crossing Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean (notably the BTC, or Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline), while Beijing is building its own pipelines linking the Caspian area to western China.

All of these pipelines cross through areas of ethnic unrest and pass near various contested regions like rebellious Chechnya and breakaway South Ossetia.  As a result, both China and the U.S. have wedded their pipeline operations to military assistance for countries along the routes.  Fearful of an American presence, military or otherwise, in the former territories of the Soviet Union, Russia has responded with military moves of its own, including its brief August 2008 war with Georgia, which took place along the BTC route.

Given the magnitude of the Caspian’s oil and gas reserves, many energy firms are planning new production operations in the region, along with the pipelines needed to bring the oil and gas to market.  The European Union, for example, hopes to build a new natural gas pipeline called Nabucco from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Austria.  Russia has proposed a competing conduit called South Stream.  All of these efforts involve the geopolitical interests of major powers, ensuring that the Caspian region will remain a potential source of international crisis and conflict.

In the new Geo-Energy Era, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Basin hardly stand alone as potential energy flashpoints. The East China Sea, where China and Japan are contending for a contested undersea natural gas field, is another, as are the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, where both Britain and Argentina hold claims to undersea oil reserves, as will be the globally warming Arctic whose resources are claimed by many countries.  One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet.

January 11, 2012, TomDispatch

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Western Oil Firms Remain as US Exits Iraq

Dahr Jamail
Sun 08 Jan 2012

The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.

Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq’s giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.

Earlier this year, Emerson was awarded a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and other technology for a new oil terminal in Basra, currently under construction in the Persian Gulf, and the company is installing control systems in the power stations in Hilla and Kerbala.

Iraq’s supergiant Rumaila oil field is already being developed by BP, and the other supergiant reserve, Majnoon oil field, is being developed by Royal Dutch Shell. Both fields are in southern Iraq.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq’s oil reserves of 112 billion barrels ranks second in the world, only behind Saudi Arabia. The EIA also estimates that up to 90 per cent of the country remains unexplored, due to decades of US-led wars and economic sanctions.

“Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq’s oil market,” oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera. “But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973.”

Juhasz, author of the books The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, said that while US and other western oil companies have not yet received all they had hoped the US-led invasion of Iraq would bring them, “They’ve certainly done quite well for themselves, landing production contracts for some of the world’s largest remaining oil fields under some of the world’s most lucrative terms.”

Dr Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum, an international oil consultant and economist who has spent nearly 50 years in the oil business in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, agrees that western oil companies have “obtained concessions in Iraq’s major [oil] fields”, despite “there being a lack of transparency and clarity of vision regarding the legal issues”.

Dr Zalloum added that he believes western oil companies have successfully acquired the lions’ share of Iraq’s oil, “but they gave a little piece of the cake for China and some of the other countries and companies to keep them silent”.

In a speech at Fort Bragg in the wake of the US military withdrawal, US President Barack Obama said the US was leaving behind “a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people”.

Of this prospect, Dr Zalloum was blunt.

“The last thing the US cares about in the Middle East is democracy. It is about oil, full stop.”

A strong partnership?

A White House press release dated November 30 titled, “Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee”, said this about “energy co-operation” between the two countries:

“The United States is committed to supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to develop the energy sector. Together, we are exploring ways to help boost Iraq’s oil production, including through better protection for critical infrastructure.” 

Iraq is one of the largest oil exporters to the US, and has plans to raise its overall crude oil exports to 3.3m barrels per day (bpd) next year, compared with their target of 3m bpd this year, according to Assim Jihad, spokesman for Iraq’s ministry of oil.

Jihad told Al Jazeera that Iraq has a goal of raising its oil production capacity to 12m bpd by 2017, which would place it in the top echelon of global producers.

According to Jihad, Iraq’s 2013 production goal is 4.5m bpd, and in 2014 it is 5m bpd. The 2017 goal is ambitious, given that Iraq did not meet its 2011 goal, and many officials say 8m bpd capacity is more realistic for 2017.

Unexplored regions of Iraq could yield an additional 100bn barrels, and Iraq’s production costs are among the lowest in the world.

To date, only about 2,000 wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with roughly one million wells in Texas alone.

Globally, current oil usage is approximately 88m bpd. By 2030, global petroleum demand will grow by 27m bpd, and many energy experts see Iraq as being a key player in meeting this demand.

It is widely understood that Iraq will require at least $200bn in physical and human investments to bring its production capacity up to 12m bpd, from its current production levels.

Juhasz explained that ExxonMobil, BP and Shell were among the oil companies that “played the most aggressive roles in lobbying their governments to ensure that the invasion would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies”.

“They succeeded,” she added. “They are all back in. BP and CNPC [China National Petroleum Corporation] finalised the first new oil contract issued by Baghdad for the largest oil field in the country, the 17 billion barrel super giant Rumaila field. ExxonMobil, with junior partner Royal Dutch Shell, won a bidding war against Russia’s Lukoil (and junior partner ConocoPhillips) for the 8.7 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 1 project. Italy’s Eni SpA, with California’s Occidental Petroleum and the Korea Gas Corp, was awarded Iraq’s Zubair oil field with estimated reserves of 4.4 billion barrels. Shell was the lead partner with Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, winning a contract for the super-giant Majnoon field, one of the largest in the world, with estimated reserves of up to 25 billion.”

Zalloum says there is a two-fold interest for the western oil companies.

“There is development of the existing fields, but also for the explored but not-yet-produced fields,” he said. “For the old fields, there are two types of development. One is to renovate the infrastructure, since for most of the past 25 years it has depreciated due to the sanctions and turmoil. Also, some of these fields have different stratum, so once they use innovative techniques like horizontal drilling, there is a huge potential in the fields they have explored.”

But there are complicating factors. As a spasm of violence wracked Baghdad in the wake of the US military withdrawal and political rifts widen, Iraq’s instability is evident.

“Iraq has lots of cheap-to-get oil, but it also has a multitude of problems – political, ethnic, tribal, religious etc – that have prevented them from exploiting it as well or as quickly as the Saudis,” says Tom Whipple, an energy scholar who was a CIA analyst for 30 years. “Someday it may turn out that Iraq has more oil underground than Saudi Arabia. The big question is how stable it will be after the US leaves? So far it is not looking all that good.”

Jihad, Iraq’s ministry of oil spokesman, however, said attacks against Iraq’s oil pipelines have minimal effect on production capabilities, and claimed “sabotage will not affect our oil production and exports because we can fix these damages within days, or even hours”.

Whipple, a fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute, says Baghdad had driven a hard bargain with western oil companies.

“The only reason they are participating is because everybody else is and they hope to get a foot in the door in case some new government in Iraq changes its policies to let other outsiders make more money. Remember it is not all the traditional western oil companies that are in there; the Chinese, Russians and Singapore all want a piece of the action.”

Wrong idea?

Spokesman Jihad told Al Jazeera that the reason many Iraqis think western oil companies are operating in Iraq is simply to steal Iraq’s oil.

“These ideas were obtained during the regime of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, and these are the wrong ideas,” he said. “The future will help Iraqis understand these companies have come to work here to help Iraq sell its oil to help the people, and they work to serve the country.”

Jihad admitted that his media office works “to help Iraqis understand the nature of the work of these companies and their investing in Iraq”.

Despite the efforts of Jihad’s office to prove otherwise, Iraqis Al Jazeera spoke with disagree.

“Only a naïve child could believe the Americans came here for something besides our oil,” Ahmed Ali, an unemployed engineer, told Al Jazeera. “Nor can we believe their being here has anything to do with helping the Iraqi people.”

Basim al-Khalili, a restaurant owner in Baghdad’s Karada district, agrees.

“If Iraq had no oil, would America have sacrificed thousands of its soldiers and hundreds of billions of dollars to come here?”

Oil analyst Juhasz also agrees.

“The US and other western oil companies and their governments had been lobbying for passage of a new national law in Iraq, the Iraq Oil Law, which would move Iraq from a nationalised to a largely privatised oil market using Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), a type of contract model used in just approximately 12 per cent of the world’s oil market.”

She explained that this agreement has been summarily rejected by most countries, including all of Iraq’s neighbours, “because it provides far more benefits to the foreign corporation than to the domestic government”.

But it has not been an easy road for the western oil companies in Iraq.

“Major western companies, such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips, that had hoped to sign contracts were unable to do so. A third round [of contracts] took place in December 2010 and saw no major western oil companies (except Shell) win contracts. I believe that there was an Iraqi backlash against the awarding of contracts to the large western major oil companies. Thus, in December 2010, fields went to Russian oil companies Lukoil and Gazprom, Norway’s Statoil, and the Angolan company Sonangol, among others.”

Unlike under Iraq’s Oil Law, these contracts do not need to go through parliament, according to the central government. This means the contracts are being signed without public discourse.

“The public is against privatisation, which is one reason why the law has not passed,” added Juhasz. “The contracts are enacting a form of privatisation without public discourse and essentially at the butt of a gun – these contracts have all been awarded during a foreign military occupation with the largest contracts going to companies from the foreign occupiers’ countries. It seems that democracy and equity are the two largest losers in this oil battle.”

Iraq’s oil future 

Under the current circumstances, the possibility of a withdrawal of western oil companies from Iraq appears remote, and the Obama administration continues to pressure Baghdad to pass the Iraq Oil Law.

Nevertheless, resistance to the western presence continues.

“The bottom line is that it seems clear that the majority of Iraqis want their oil and its operations to remain in Iraqi hands,” said Juhasz. “Thus far, it has required a massive foreign military invasion and occupation to grant the foreign oil companies the access they have thus far garnered.”

While Iraq’s security remains as volatile as ever, as does the political landscape – which can change dramatically at any moment – there is one thing we can always count on as being at the heart of these conflicts, and that is Iraq’s oil.

© 2012 Al-Jazeera

January 7, 2012,  Al-Jazeera

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Imperialism and Oil

Tim Kelly
Thu 08 Dec 2011

In March 2003, after months of propaganda about phony threats posed by Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, as well as absurd suggestions by the White House that his regime was in league with al-Qaeda, U.S. forces invaded Iraq in an act of aggression that was every bit as brazen and illegal as Nazi Germany’s blitzkrieg of Poland in 1939.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and a cabal of neocon schemers preyed upon the American public’s fears, prejudices, and patriotism to support a war that has cost the United States $1 trillion, spread hatred for America across the Muslim world, and resulted in the death of almost 4500 American servicemen and the wounding of tens of thousands more. The butcher’s bill has been much higher for Iraqis, with estimates of the dead ranging from 100,000 to over a million.

My intention here is not to try to stir the conscience of Americans (although that would be nice) but to alert them to a propaganda campaign now being waged to promote another war. This time the target is Iran.

For the better part of two decades, the American people have been treated to warnings that Iran was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. This latest scare comes on the heels of a report released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raising concerns regarding Iran’s civilian nuclear-energy program.

From all the attention the IAEA report is receiving from the mainstream press, one would expect it to contain some new evidence of Iran developing nuclear weapons. But the report contains no new information, and it is really just a recapitulation of earlier allegations based on a stolen laptop computer of dubious origin, as well as a bit of thin gruel regarding a Russian scientist whose field of expertise isn’t even in nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the IAEA’s report has been seized upon by bellicose politicians as justification for military action, and the mainstream media has fallen into line by producing alarmist headlines telling Americans of the imminent threat of an Iranian bomb.

This is disturbing, for it was the failure of the mainstream press to scrutinize the White House’s claims regarding Iraq that cleared the path to war in 2003. The news media’s credulity today regarding Iran may lead to another war in the Middle East that could easily escalate into a global confrontation.

So if there is no new evidence whatsoever of Iran developing nuclear weapons, why all the hysteria? Perhaps these events can be better understood if one looks at the history of western intervention in Iran, which goes back for the better part of a century.

In 1941, British and Soviet forces invaded Iran in a joint exercise to secure the Trans-Iranian Railway and safeguard the country’s oil reserves. The British were primarily concerned with protecting the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and the Soviets wanted oil concessions (which they obtained before withdrawing in 1946).

In 1953, U.S. and British intelligence services, operating out of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, fomented a coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Mosaddegh, because he tried to nationalize the country’s oilfields. The coup restored Shah Pahlavi to his throne, and the monarch returned the favor by being America’s loyal ally in the region for the next quarter century. During this time, the CIA worked closely with the Shah’s brutal secret police, the Savak, to crush dissent.

In February 1979, an Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khoemeini overthrew the Shah’s regime and installed the Islamic Republic. After spending months searching for a country that would take him in, the deposed Shah was permitted to enter the United States. Then, Iranian militants, fearful the CIA would use the U.S. embassy in an operation to restore the Shah to power, stormed the embassy compound and took the diplomatic mission hostage.

During the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), the U.S. government covertly supported the Iraqi war effort, not only as retribution for the hostage crisis, but also as part of a cynical strategy to prolong the exhausting conflict and thereby render the region more vulnerable to western penetration. U.S. assistance included arranging for loans from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and permitting the export of missile technology to Iraq’s missile-procurement agency. The United States also provided satellite data on Iranian troop movements and prepared detailed battle planning for the Iraqi army at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has occupied two of Iran’s neighbors (Iraq and Afghanistan), established military bases to Iran’s north in central Asia (Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), and has an aircraft carrier near the Iranian shore.

The current hysteria regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions is a manufactured crisis intended to provide cover for Washington’s imperial ambitions in Persia and its wider geopolitical plan to dominate the planet through the control of its oil heartlands. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, cofounder of the Trilateral Commission, stated in his 1998 book, The Grand Chessboard,

How America “manages” Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.…

Two basic steps are thus required: first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them; … second, to formulate specific U.S. policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above.…

To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of the imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.

Iran is home to the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, and it is strategically located just across the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia. Iran also borders the Caspian Sea, an area long coveted by Western energy interests connected to the U.S. government.

While the U.S. justified its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as a necessary response to the 9/11 attacks, one objective of the decade-long NATO occupation has been to provide security for the Trans Afghanistan Pipeline, a project that has been in the works since the early 1990’s and figures greatly in Washington’s wider geopolitical agenda to control various strategic resources. Bringing Iran back into the Anglo-American fold would go a long way toward finally securing control of the Caspian Basin’s rich energy deposits.

But Russia and China are not likely to sit still as the U.S. maneuvers to dominate a region so vital to their interests. Russia and Iran trade extensively with each other, and China now relies on Iran for 12 percent of her oil. The Middle East is a tinder box, and therefore no place for the United State or Israel to be playing with matches. One hopes Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s bellicose posturing is only bluff and not a prelude to war. If an actual shooting war does breakout, Russia and China, both actual nuclear powers, could be drawn into the fight.

Then all bets are off.

Tim Kelly is a columnist and policy advisor at the Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia, a correspondent for Radio America’s Special Investigator, and a political cartoonist.

December 02, 2011, The Future of Freedom Foundation

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Petrodollar warfare: The US shoots itself in the foot

RT America
Sat 28 Jan 2012

India abandons US dollar to purchase Iranian oil?

Most oil sales throughout the world are denominated in United States dollars (USD). According to proponents of the petrodollar warfare hypothesis, because most countries rely on oil imports, they are forced to maintain large stockpiles of dollars in order to continue imports. This creates a consistent demand for USDs and upwards pressure on the USD’s value, regardless of economic conditions in the United States. This in turn allegedly allows the US government to gain revenues through seignorage and by issuing bonds at lower interest rates than they otherwise would be able to. As a result the U.S. government can run higher budget deficits at a more sustainable level than can most other countries. A stronger USD also means that goods imported into the United States are relatively cheap.

Another component of the hypothesis is that the price of oil is more stable in the U.S. than anywhere else, since importers do not need to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. Since the U.S. imports a great deal of oil, its markets are heavily reliant on oil and its derivative products (jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline, etc.) for their energy needs. The price of oil can be an important political factor; U.S. administrations are quite sensitive to the price of oil.

Political enemies of the United States therefore have some interest in seeing oil prices denominated in pretty much anything but the US dollar.

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Pepe Escobar tells it like it is, a good interview…..the foolishness of the eu is going to further destroy Italy/Spain/Greece

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk-X1uW07ag&feature=player_embedded
the eussr shoots itself in it’s bankrupt foot yet again,

with this kind of strategic thinking, no wonder we are bankrupt,

and here we have the alternative system to petro-dollar trade, so again, well dome obama,

http://www.debka.com/article/21673/

India to pay gold instead of dollars for Iranian oil. Oil and gold markets stunned
extract;
India is the first buyer of Iranian oil to agree to pay for its purchases in gold instead of the US dollar, debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources report exclusively. Those sources expect China to follow suit. India and China take about one million barrels per day, or 40 percent of Iran’s total exports of 2.5 million bpd. Both are superpowers in terms of gold assets.

By trading in gold, New Delhi and Beijing enable Tehran to bypass the upcoming freeze on its central bank’s assets and the oil embargo which the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed to impose Monday, Jan. 23. The EU currently buys around 20 percent of Iran’s oil exports.

The vast sums involved in these transactions are expected, furthermore, to boost the price of gold and depress the value of the dollar on world markets.
Iran’s second largest customer after China, India purchases around $12 billion a year’s worth of Iranian crude, or about 12 percent of its consumption. Delhi is to execute its transactions, according to our sources, through two state-owned banks: the Calcutta-based UCO Bank, whose board of directors is made up of Indian government and Reserve Bank of India representatives; and Halk Bankasi (Peoples Bank), Turkey’s seventh largest bank which is owned by the government…..end

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Iran to Sell Crude Oil for GOLD

24 Jan
12 Votes
English: one hundred doller bill colectionImage via Wikipedia; The Ash Heap of History

This might be the biggest story of the year.

As I’ve reported earlier (see Invading Iran (Rounding Up the Usual Suspects), the fiat dollar has been the World Reserve Currency since the end of WWII and the only currency capable of purchasing crude oil on the international markets from A.D. 1971 through A.D. 2005.  The fiat dollar’s primacy in international oil trade created a foreign demand for “petro-dollars”.  That demand created an artificial, extrinsic value for fiat dollars that are intrinsically worthless.

Saddam Hussein threatened the dollar’s primacy as the world’s only “petro-dollar” in A.D. 2000 by selling Iraqi crude for euros.  We invaded Iraq in A.D. 2003, wrecked the country and hanged Hussein, but it was too late to stop the world’s slow slide away from reliance on “petro-dollars”.  As a result, the dollar’s value as measured on the US Dollar Index has fallen about 36% since A.D. 2000.

•  Earlier this month, in “Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade,” Bloomberg reported:

“Iran and Russia replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies in bilateral trade . . . .  The proposal to switch to the ruble and the rial was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad . . . . Iran has replaced the dollar in its oil trade with India, China and Japan.”

This announcement constitutes a body blow to the dollar.  Insofar as China, Japan, India and Russia (the 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 11th largest economies in the world) are beginning to trade in their own currencies and without the intervening “aid” of US dollars, the dollar is clearly being stripped of its status as World Reserve Currency and “petro-dollar”. Without that status, the extrinsic support for the dollar’s value must fade and the dollar will be increasingly subject to inflation and devaluation.

Note that the proposal to abandon the dollar was raised by Russia.

•  But yesterday, DEBKAfile published an article that, if true, may be the single most important story of the past year.  The headline reads, “India to pay gold instead of dollars for Iranian oil. Oil and gold markets stunned”.

Ah heard dat!  Stunned, indeed!

Oil and gold markets must be stunned.  The U.S. government must be stunned.  Those who believe in the value of the dollar must be stunned.  The world’s central bankers and New World Order (both of which are built on fiat currencies) must be stunned.

It’s one thing for the nations of the world pay fiat rubles, fiat rupees or fiat yuan (rather than fiat dollars) for crude oil.  Such payments hurt the fiat dollar’s illusory value, but leave the power of fiat currencies and central banks largely untouched.

But paying for crude oil with gold rather than fiat dollars, attacks all fiat currencies and not only threatens to terminate the dollar’s role as World Reserve Currency, but threatens to prevent any new fiat currency from taking its place. From the perspective of the U.S. and New World Order, paying gold for crude oil must be deemed an act of war.

According to the DEBKAfile report,

 

“India is the first buyer of Iranian oil to agree to pay for its purchases in gold instead of the US dollar, debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources report exclusively.  Those sources expect China to follow suit. India and China take about one million barrels per day, or 40 percent of Iran’s total exports of 2.5 million bpd. Both are superpowers in terms of gold assets.”

 

1 million barrels at $100/barrel = $100 million per day. At current prices, we’re talking almost 60 thousand ounces of gold per day = roughly 2 tons of gold per day.  The U.S. and London commodities markets may soon see an increased daily demand for 2 tons of physical gold.

The sale of Iranian oil for gold is a mortal blow to any plans by the globalists to replace the fiat dollar with some other “new and improved” fiat currency.  If India and China are allowed to start paying their debts with gold, the next “world reserve currency” could only be gold.  No more fiat currencies.  No more “spinning money (fiat currency) out of thin air”.  No more big governments.  No more central bankers.

If an agreement to pay Iran 2 tons a day in gold for oil is allowed to stand, the dollar’s demise will be accelerated and the New World Order will be virtually destroyed.

I doubt that the globalists will allow the gold-for-oil deal to go through.  They won’t attack China or India, but the deal would be easily terminated if Iran were invaded, destroyed and stopped from selling its crude oil to anyone for anything.

I’ll bet that if the gold-for-oil story is true, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and some elements of NATO will invade Iran within 60 days.  A pretext (probably closing the Strait of Hormuz) will be found.

•  In the meantime, if China and India spend 2 tons of gold per day for crude oil, the price of gold should rise.  Mathematically, that rise may not be very large, but the psychological impact should be significant.

The increasing demand for physical (rather than paper-) gold will tend to stop the manipulation of gold prices on the U.S. and London commodities markets. India’s and China’s increasing need for physical gold will cause them to demand physical gold from the U.S and London commodities markets which have heretofore excelled at selling non-existent, “paper” gold at artificially reduced prices.  As India and China buy and take possession of more physical gold, gold’s price will rise.

Other nations should follow India’s and China’s lead and also demand to receive physical gold at the artificially low prices maintained on the U.S. and London commodities markets.  The markets will be forced to either sell their physical gold at give-away prices or raise prices to true free market levels—and they will not give their gold away.

As the price of gold rises, the perceived value of the dollar will fall even faster, leading to more and more inflation.

•  Again, if my meager understanding of money and global politics is roughly correct, the decision to sell crude for gold will be perceived as an act of war against the fiat dollar, fiat currencies in general, central bankers, the U.S., probably the EU, and the New World Order.

With or without pretext, the globalists will invade Iran as a matter of survival.

But even if Iran is prevented from selling its oil for gold, you can bet that other oil producing countries are approaching India and China in hopes of negotiating their own gold-for-oil deals.  If India and China will pay gold to India, why not pay gold to other oil-producing nations?  I guarantee that oil-exporting nations around the world are gearing up to ask to be paid with gold for their oil.

•  “By trading in gold, New Delhi and Beijing enable Tehran to bypass the upcoming freeze on its central bank’s assets and the oil embargo which the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed to impose Monday, Jan. 23. . . . .  The EU decision of Monday banned the signing of new oil contracts with Iran at once, while phasing out existing transactions by July 1, 2012, when the European embargo, like the measure enforced by the United States, becomes total. The European foreign ministers also approved a freeze on the assets of the Central Bank of Iran which handles all the country’s oil transactions.”

The EU and U.S. have agreed to impose an oil embargo on Iran.  An embargo is an “act of war”.

Iran has responded with its own “act of war”—selling Iranian crude for gold.  Although most people won’t understand, from the globalist perspective, selling Iranian crude for gold is a far more aggressive and provocative act than closing the Strait of Hormuz.

A war—albeit without bullets—has already begun.  We can expect that war to soon escalate to the use of the bullets, bombs and invading soldiers.

•  The DEBKAfile report continues:

“Delhi is to execute its transactions . . . through two state-owned banks: the Calcutta-based UCO Bank, whose board of directors is made up of Indian government and Reserve Bank of India representatives; and Halk Bankasi (Peoples Bank), Turkey’s seventh largest bank which is owned by the government.”

Now, the government of Turkey is peripherally involved in the sale of oil for gold.

We’ve seen recent allegations that one or more Iranian nuclear physicists have been assassinated in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the bankers and/or government officials in India and Turkey who are implementing the sale of oil for gold are also found dead in the near future.

•  A coalition of India, China, Turkey, Russia and Japan have joined together to buy oil from Iran with their own domestic currencies or even gold—but not with the fiat dollar.  In doing so this coalition has threatened the fiat dollar, fiat currencies in general, central banks, the United States and the New World Order.

This is big. This is dangerous.

In some regards, this story may be more important that the German Nazis joining the Italian Fascists prior to WWII.

It won’t be possible for the U.S. and/or New World Order to openly attack all of the members of the new anti-fiat-dollar coalition.  But there is one central player in that coalition: Iran.  All of the other members of the collation are seeking to purchase crude oil from Iran.

Thus, if Iran could be stopped from selling its crude oil to everyone, it would also be stopped from selling its crude oil to India (and soon China) for gold.  The dollar would be protected.  Fiat currencies would be protected.  Central banks, big governments and the New World Order would be protected—IF Iran could be stopped from selling any crude oil.

It may yet be possible to stop the sale of Iranian crude for gold by diplomatic means, but I’d bet the odds favoring an invasion of Iran are now 4:1.

•  The sale of Iranian crude for gold might not be a fatal blow to the fiat dollar—or, then again, maybe it is.

Gold is reemerging as the world’s only “global reserve money”.

When Iraq sold their crude oil for fiat euros instead of fiat dollars, the U.S. gov-co punished Iraq with nine years of invasion.  Iran is preparing to sell its crude oil for gold rather than fiat dollars.  Relatively speaking, selling oil for fiat currencies is a misdemeanor; selling oil for gold is a felony.  God only knows what our gov-co will do to Iran.

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Middle East revolutions and the fate of the petrodollar

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Since 2002, the dollar has fallen almost 40% against an index of other major currencies. The dollar has declined for the simple reason that the US has been flooding the world with its currency through monetary expansion, government deficit spending, and consumer dollars spent on imports. The more dollars there are in the world, the less each dollar is worth. The decline in the dollar has worsened the oil problem. One reason why oil prices have increased so much is because the dollar has fallen so much. If the dollar is worth less, then the oil-exporting countries demand more dollars in exchange for a barrel of oil. About half of the increase in the dollar price of oil is due to the decrease in the value of the dollar.Since 2002, the dollar has fallen almost 40% against an index of other major currencies. The dollar has declined for the simple reason that the US has been flooding the world with its currency through monetary expansion, government deficit spending, and consumer dollars spent on imports. The more dollars there are in the world, the less each dollar is worth. The decline in the dollar has worsened the oil problem. One reason why oil prices have increased so much is because the dollar has fallen so much. If the dollar is worth less, then the oil-exporting countries demand more dollars in exchange for a barrel of oil. About half of the increase in the dollar price of oil is due to the decrease in the value of the dollar.
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By Zainab Cheema

As revolution fans across the Middle East, there are reams of commentary on the reasons behind the spectacular conflagration. Some are sage, such as Shahid Alam’s insightful analysis of the “dignity deficit” that the Muslim world suffers from. Others verge on doomsday comic, pinning the blame on unruly natural causes than self-evident political ones, such as Paul Krugman’s warnings of natural disasters and their impact on world food supply. Even Hillary Clinton, who is usually so serenely autocratic, struck a somber note in a recent Munich visit, declaring that “the status quo is not sustainable.”

Certainly, things will not remain the same. This much is inevitable. However, the motor driving the Middle Eastern revolutions lies elsewhere from long-suffering nature or the shadowy militants that Muammar Qaddafi of Libya or the Khalifa family in Bharain are so desperately trying to pin the tail on. If we really want to hear the Phantom singing in the basement of the Opera House, we should hearken to the tale of the US petrodollar, which has bankrolled the financial and military extravagances of US Empire Inc. from the 1970s. The Vietnam War brought on a hefty debt crisis (yes, it is expensive to kill villagers in a far off land, as Afghanistan has proven). Under the pressures of Vietnam, combined with the “greed is good” hedonism of the emerging neo-conservatives, Nixon’s government entirely abandoned the gold standard and pinned the dollar’s value on the petroleum guzzling up from Middle Eastern soil.

Thus, the petrodollar was born and life was good. As long as the US leveraged control over the Middle East’s glistening black crude, and the worldwide supply and distribution networks, the Treasury could print dollars without needing to back it up with gold reserves, jobs, trade exchanges, or other material indices of economic health. The petrodollar meant that oil had to be bought and sold in US currency, forcing countries to buy dollars in order to purchase the energy demanded for agriculture, transportation, industry — really, every facet of modern life. As countries worldwide were obliged to purchase dollars for oil, the dollar itself became the US’s biggest export.  The Almighty Dollar indeed!

Petrodollars bound the world into the US financial regime, making it impossible to resist what John Perkins calls “economic hit-men” from knocking on countries’ doors and selling “neoliberal reforms” that sold off the country’s assets under the guise of sacral privatization. Modernity came to the third world as a poisonous martini, the flush of dollars in their economies balanced with the bitter after-taste of servitude.

What monopoly over oil gave the US was a credit-card without any limits. The US could simply print the dollars for OPEC oil, while other countries had to trade their goods, services, and resources to the US for the dollars to buy crude. This enabled the US to run on deficit spending, engaging in ballooning consumption under a debt that was essentially shunted on to other countries in Empire Inc. As Wall Street speculated on their control of the world currency flow, the arms manufacturers reaped benefits by the political instability fostered in the Middle East. As Henry Kissinger noted with typical Lord Voldemort flair, “who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

The US economy was a gasoline fueled Disneyland threatened by two specters. First was Peak Oil, the peak production point of existing oil fields in Africa and the Middle East, after which production would decline in the face of growing demand. The second was posed by movements for political and economic independence in the energy producing countries, who had the temerity to believe that they had authority over their natural resources. Case in point — the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, which significantly disturbed US dominance of Persian Gulf Oil. Iran’s move towards energy independence has actually attracted a significant customer base, including the EU countries, who publicly kowtow to the US but are privately exploring options for breaking the petrodollar.

In fact, economist William Clark believes that US belligerence towards the Iranian nuclear program is a cover for the deeper threat posed by Iranian oil to the gluttonous petrodollar. “[D]espite the ongoing subterfuge,” he writes, “the US and the UK establishment are far more concerned about Iran’s upcoming internet-based oil exchange, or “oil bourse,” which over time could undermine the petrodollar system, and thus the global supremacy of the US dollar. The decline of the petrodollar means the shift to a multipolar world, the crumbling of American hegemony.

Other threats to the petrodollar abound. Besides Iran, Russia has emerged as a major energy trader, vaulting its oil reserves and access to Central Asia’s fabulous gas fields into political influence. Russia has quietly worked on the sidelines to undermine the exclusiveness of the petrodollar and shift to a basket of currencies for oil trading. The EU for its part has tried to convert the euro into the world’s reserve currency for oil trading, only to be stymied by the US. In addition, Brazil, Russia India, and China (BRIC) are creating an alternative trading block to the EU, one capable of promoting another reserve currency. All of these “big four” developing countries are significant players in the world’s emerging energy routes.

Significant competition, to be sure, but has the US game plan for defending the petrodollar’s role been at the world’s energy-economic nexus? Given the fact that Peak Oil is widely believed to have already hit Saudi Arabia and other oil producing states, the US is racing against time to cement over its feet of clay by expanding into the Central Asian gas fields. Originally, the race was determined by US’s ability to construct the TAPI gas pipeline across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, before the Middle Eastern Oil fields became quiescent. The gas fields of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are earmarked as the substitute for Arabian and Persian Gulf energy. However, the cost of destabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan and subjugating populations along the pipeline route has proved rather steep.

Not withstanding the US media’s broadcasted epiphany of American power “waking up” to the democracy as an inalienable right of the Arabs, the recent developments are hardly good news for US economic survival. The fact that black crude underwrites the free-floating US economy makes clear that any disturbance to the global oil geography signifies an existential threat for American empire. We can track White House reactions to sound out the scale of the crisis. While the Tunisian Revolution evoked Obama’s noble sloganeering, Egypt began to splotch his pristine white shirts with sweat. The Suez Canal after all, is still the heartline of the global oil transit system. Bahrain, a major oil producer and a strategic piece of real estate at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, began to elicit stammering from the White House Press Secretary. Libya, the largest oil producer in Africa, has accelerated this palsy into a terse silence, occasionally broken by irrelevant comments about the need to “stop violence.”

The US’s refusal to take the military option itself in the current revolutions is perhaps an overt sign of empire’s critical weakness. Before, the US unhesitatingly played the military card at the slightest hint of a threat to its Middle Eastern oil properties. After all, the Iraq War was sparked by Saddam Hussein’s decision in 2000, to switch to the euro as Iraq’s energy trading currency. George Bush’s triumphal mandate for war contrasts with the wavering and indecision demonstrated by the Obama White House caught between its rhetoric and the material need to dominate a geography that has bankrolled its extravagant prosperity over the past six decades. US power is over-stretched, trembling on the verge of implosion, and the political leaders know it too.

The practice of dangling democracy before the Arab world as both a reprimand and a fantasy yanked out of reach by US-funded dictators has paid back a somber coin. The revolutions came at the worst possible time for empire, when a diversifying energy landscape is threatening the US’s role as prime energy controller and by extension, the very financial system guaranteeing the Almighty Dollar. And then the bill for its $14.13 trillion dollar deficit will finally be stamped and addressed to a US that is already taking stock of its derelict house.

Zainab Cheema also writes a blog called Kings and Cabbages, http://kingsandcabbages.wordpress.com

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Pepe Escobar: Sinking the petrodollar in the Persian Gulf

by TomDispatch on January 17, 2012

These days, with a crisis atmosphere growing in the Persian Gulf, a little history lesson about the U.S. and Iran might be just what the doctor ordered.  Here, then, are a few high- (or low-) lights from their relationship over the last half-century-plus:

Summer 1953: The CIA and British intelligence hatch a plot for a coup that overthrows a democratically elected government in Iran intent on nationalizing that country’s oil industry.  In its place, they put an autocrat, the young Shah of Iran, and his soon-to-be feared secret police.  He runs the country as his repressive fiefdom for a quarter-century, becoming Washington’s “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf — until overthrown in 1979 by a home-grown revolutionary movement, which ushers in the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini and the mullahs.  While Khomeini & Co. were hardly Washington’s men, thanks to that 1953 coup they were, in a sense, its own political offspring.  In other words, the fatal decision to overthrow a popular democratic government shaped the Iranian world Washington now loathes, and even then oil was at the bottom of things.

1967: Under the U.S. “Atoms for Peace” program, started in the 1950s by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Shah is allowed to buy a 5-megawatt, light-water type research reactor for Tehran (which — call it irony — is still playing a role in the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program).  Defense Department officials did worry at the time that the Shah might use the “peaceful atom” as a basis for a future weapons program or that nuclear materials might fall into the wrong hands.  “An aggressive successor to the Shah,” went a 1974 Pentagon memo, “might consider nuclear weapons the final item needed to establish Iran’s complete military dominance of the region.”  But that didn’t stop them from aiding and abetting the creation of an Iranian nuclear program.

The Shah, like his Islamic successors, argued that such a program was Iran’s national “right” and dreamed of a country that would get significant portions of its electricity from a string of nuclear plants.  As a 1970s ad by a group of American power companies put the matter: “The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world.  Yet he’s building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country.  He knows the oil is running out — and time with it.”  In other words, the U.S. nuclear program was the genesis for the Iranian one that Washington now so despises.

September 1980: Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein launches a war of aggression against Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran.  In the early 1980s, he becomes Washington’s man, our “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf, and we offer him our hand — and also “detailed information” on Iranian deployments and tactical planning that help him use his chemical weapons more effectively against the Iranian military.  Oh, and just to make sure things turn out really, really well, the Reagan administration also decides to sell missiles and other arms to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran on the sly, part of what became known as the “Iran-Contra Affair” and which almost brings down the president and his men.  Success!

March 2003: Saddam Hussein is, by now, no longer our man in Baghdad but a new “Hitler” who, top Washington officials claim, undoubtedly has a nuclear weapons program that could someday leave mushroom clouds rising over U.S. cities.  So the Bush administration launches a war of aggression against Iraq, which like Iran just happens to — in the words of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz — “float on a sea of oil.”  (Bush officials hope, in the wake of a “cakewalk” of a war to revive that country’s oil industry, to privatize it, and use it to destroy OPEC, driving down the price of oil on world markets.)  Nine years later, a Shiite government is in power in Baghdad closely allied with Tehran, which has gained regional strength and influence thanks to the disastrous U.S. occupation.

So call it an unblemished record of a kind not easy to find.  In more than 50 years, America’s leaders have never made a move in Iran (or near it) that didn’t lead to unexpected and unpleasant blowback.  Now, another administration in Washington, after years of what can only be called a covert war against Iran, is preparing yet another set of clever maneuvers — this time sanctions against Iran’s central bank meant to cripple the country’s oil industry and crack open the economy followed by no one knows what.

And honestly, I mean, really, given past history, what could possibly go wrong?  Regime change in Iran?  It’s bound to be a slam dunk and if you don’t believe it, check out Pepe Escobar, that fabulous peripatetic reporter for Asia Times and TomDispatch regularTom Engelhardt

The myth of “isolated” Iran
Following the money in the Iran crisis
By Pepe Escobar

Let’s start with red lines. Here it is, Washington’s ultimate red line, straight from the lion’s mouth.  Only last week Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said of the Iranians, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

How strange, the way those red lines continue to retreat.  Once upon a time, the red line for Washington was “enrichment” of uranium. Now, it’s evidently an actual nuclear weapon that can be brandished. Keep in mind that, since 2005, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has stressed that his country is not seeking to build a nuclear weapon. The most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran from the U.S. Intelligence Community has similarly stressed that Iran is not, in fact, developing a nuclear weapon (as opposed to the breakout capacity to build one someday).

What if, however, there is no “red line,” but something completely different? Call it the petrodollar line.

Banking on Sanctions?

Let’s start here: In December 2011, impervious to dire consequences for the global economy, the U.S. Congress — under all the usual pressures from the Israel lobby (not that it needs them) — foisted a mandatory sanctions package on the Obama administration (100 to 0 in the Senate and with only 12 “no” votes in the House). Starting in June, the U.S. will have to sanction any third-country banks and companies dealing with Iran’s Central Bank, which is meant to cripple that country’s oil sales.  (Congress did allow for some “exemptions.”)

The ultimate target? Regime change — what else? — in Tehran. The proverbial anonymous U.S. official admitted as much in the Washington Post, and that paper printed the comment.  (“The goal of the U.S. and other sanctions against Iran is regime collapse, a senior U.S. intelligence official said, offering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is at least as intent on unseating Iran’s government as it is on engaging with it.”)But oops! The newspaper then had to revise the passage to eliminate that embarrassingly on-target quote. Undoubtedly, this “red line” came too close to the truth for comfort.

Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen believed that only a monster shock-and-awe-style event, totally humiliating the leadership in Tehran, would lead to genuine regime change — and he was hardly alone. Advocates of actions ranging from air strikes to invasion (whether by the U.S., Israel, or some combination of the two) have been legion in neocon Washington.  (See, for instance, the Brookings Institution’s 2009 report Which Path to Persia.)

Yet anyone remotely familiar with Iran knows that such an attack would rally the population behind Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards.  In those circumstances, the deep aversion of many Iranians to the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat would matter little.

Besides, even the Iranian opposition supports a peaceful nuclear program.  It’s a matter of national pride.

Iranian intellectuals, far more familiar with Persian smoke and mirrors than ideologues in Washington, totally debunk any war scenarios.  They stress that the Tehran regime, adept in the arts of Persian shadow play, has no intention of provoking an attack that could lead to its obliteration. On their part, whether correctly or not, Tehran strategists assume that Washington will prove unable to launch yet one more war in the Greater Middle East, especially one that could lead to staggering collateral damage for the world economy.

In the meantime, Washington’s expectations that a harsh sanctions regime might make the Iranians give ground, if not go down, may prove to be a chimera.  Washington spin has been focused on the supposedly disastrous mega-devaluation of the Iranian currency, the rial, in the face of the new sanctions. Unfortunately for the fans of Iranian economic collapse, Professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani has laid out in elaborate detail the long-term nature of this process, which Iranian economists have more than welcomed.  After all, it will boost Iran’s non-oil exports and help local industry in competition with cheap Chinese imports. In sum: a devalued rial stands a reasonable chance of actually reducing unemployment in Iran.

More Connected Than Google

Though few in the U.S. have noticed, Iran is not exactly “isolated,” though Washington might wish it.  Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani has become a frequent flyer to Tehran. And he’s a Johnny-come-lately compared to Russia’s national security chief Nikolai Patrushev, who only recently warned the Israelis not to push the U.S. to attack Iran. Add in as well U.S. ally and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  At a Loya Jirga (grand council) in late 2011, in front of 2,000 tribal leaders, he stressed that Kabul was planning to get even closer to Tehran.

On that crucial Eurasian chessboard, Pipelineistan, the Iran-Pakistan (IP) natural gas pipeline — much to Washington’s distress — is now a go. Pakistan badly needs energy and its leadership has clearly decided that it’s unwilling to wait forever and a day for Washington’s eternal pet project — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline — to traverse Talibanistan.

Even Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recently visited Tehran, though his country’s relationship with Iran has grown ever edgier.  After all, energy overrules threats in the region. NATO member Turkey is already involved in covert ops in Syria, allied with hardcore fundamentalist Sunnis in Iraq, and — in a remarkable volte-face in the wake of the Arab Spring(s) — has traded in an Ankara-Tehran-Damascus axis for an Ankara-Riyadh-Doha one.  It is even planning on hosting components of Washington’s long-planned missile defense system, targeted at Iran.

All this from a country with a Davutoglu-coined foreign policy of “zero problems with our neighbors.”  Still, the needs of Pipelineistan do set the heart racing.  Turkey is desperate for access to Iran’s energy resources, and if Iranian natural gas ever reaches Western Europe — something the Europeans are desperately eager for — Turkey will be the privileged transit country.  Turkey’s leaders have already signaled their rejection of further U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil.

And speaking of connections, last week there was that spectacular diplomatic coup de théâtre, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Latin American tour. U.S. right-wingers may harp on a Tehran-Caracas axis of evil — supposedly promoting “terror” across Latin America as a springboard for future attacks on the northern superpower — but back in real life, another kind of truth lurks.  All these years later, Washington is still unable to digest the idea that it has lost control over, or even influence in, those two regional powers over which it once exercised unmitigated imperial hegemony.

Add to this the wall of mistrust that has only solidified since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.  Mix in a new, mostly sovereign Latin America pushing for integration not only via leftwing governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador but through regional powers Brazil and Argentina. Stir and you get photo ops like Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saluting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Washington continues to push a vision of a world from which Iran has been radically disconnected.  State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland is typical in saying recently, “Iran can remain in international isolation.”  As it happens, though, she needs to get her facts straight.

“Isolated” Iran has $4 billion in joint projects with Venezuela including, crucially, a bank (as with Ecuador, it has dozens of planned projects from building power plants to, once again, banking). That has led the Israel-first crowd in Washington to vociferously demand that sanctions be slapped on Venezuela.  Only problem: how would the U.S. pay for its crucial Venezuelan oil imports then?

Much was made in the U.S. press of the fact that Ahmadinejad did not visit Brazil on this jaunt through Latin America, but diplomatically Tehran and Brasilia remain in sync. When it comes to the nuclear dossier in particular, Brazil’s history leaves its leaders sympathetic.  After all, that country developed — and then dropped — a nuclear weapons program. In May 2010, Brazil and Turkey brokered a uranium-swap agreement for Iran that might have cleared the decks on the U.S.-Iranian nuclear imbroglio.  It was, however, immediately sabotaged by Washington. A key member of the BRICS, the club of top emerging economies, Brasilia is completely opposed to the U.S. sanctions/embargo strategy.

So Iran may be “isolated” from the United States and Western Europe, but from the BRICS to NAM (the 120 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement), it has the majority of the global South on its side.  And then, of course, there are those staunch Washington allies, Japan and South Korea, now pleading for exemptions from the coming boycott/embargo of Iran’s Central Bank.

No wonder, because these unilateral U.S. sanctions are also aimed at Asia.  After all, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, together, buy no less than 62% of Iran’s oil exports.

With trademark Asian politesse, Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi let Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner know just what a problem Washington is creating for Tokyo, which relies on Iran for 10% of its oil needs.  It is pledging to at least modestly “reduce” that share “as soon as possible” in order to get a Washington exemption from those sanctions, but don’t hold your breath. South Korea has already announced that it will buy 10% of its oil needs from Iran in 2012.

Silk Road Redux

Most important of all, “isolated” Iran happens to be a supreme matter of national security for China, which has already rejected the latest Washington sanctions without a blink. Westerners seem to forget that the Middle Kingdom and Persia have been doing business for almost two millennia. (Does “Silk Road” ring a bell?)

The Chinese have already clinched a juicy deal for the development of Iran’s largest oil field, Yadavaran. There’s also the matter of the delivery of Caspian Sea oil from Iran through a pipeline stretching from Kazakhstan to Western China. In fact, Iran already supplies no less than 15% of China’s oil and natural gas. It is now more crucial to China, energy-wise, than the House of Saud is to the U.S., which imports 11% of its oil from Saudi Arabia.

In fact, China may be the true winner from Washington’s new sanctions, because it is likely to get its oil and gas at a lower price as the Iranians grow ever more dependent on the China market.  At this moment, in fact, the two countries are in the middle of a complex negotiation on the pricing of Iranian oil, and the Chinese have actually been ratcheting up the pressure by slightly cutting back on energy purchases.  But all this should be concluded by March, at least two months before the latest round of U.S. sanctions go into effect, according to experts in Beijing. In the end, the Chinese will certainly buy much more Iranian gas than oil, but Iran will still remain its third biggest oil supplier, right after Saudi Arabia and Angola.

As for other effects of the new sanctions on China, don’t count on them.  Chinese businesses in Iran are building cars, fiber optics networks, and expanding the Tehran subway. Two-way trade is at $30 billion now and expected to hit $50 billion in 2015.  Chinese businesses will find a way around the banking problems the new sanctions impose.

Russia is, of course, another key supporter of “isolated” Iran.  It has opposed stronger sanctions either via the U.N. or through the Washington-approved package that targets Iran’s Central Bank. In fact, it favors a rollback of the existing U.N. sanctions and has also been at work on an alternative plan that could, at least theoretically, lead to a face-saving nuclear deal for everyone.

On the nuclear front, Tehran has expressed a willingness to compromise with Washington along the lines of the plan Brazil and Turkey suggested and Washington deep-sixed in 2010. Since it is now so much clearer that, for Washington — certainly for Congress — the nuclear issue is secondary to regime change, any new negotiations are bound to prove excruciatingly painful.

This is especially true now that the leaders of the European Union have managed to remove themselves from a future negotiating table by shooting themselves in their Ferragamo-clad feet.  In typical fashion, they have meekly followed Washington’s lead in implementing an Iranian oil embargo. As a senior EU official told National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi, and as EU diplomats have assured me in no uncertain terms, they fear this might prove to be the last step short of outright war.

Meanwhile, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors has just visited Iran.  The IAEA is supervising all things nuclear in Iran, including its new uranium-enrichment plant at Fordow, near the holy city of Qom, with full production starting in June. The IAEA is positive: no bomb-making is involved.  Nonetheless, Washington (and the Israelis) continue to act as though it’s only a matter of time — and not much of it at that.

Follow the Money

That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles — a similar move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan.  As for India, an economic powerhouse in the neighborhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil, a trade that, in the long run, is similarly unlikely to be conducted in dollars. India is already using the yuan with China, as Russia and China have been trading in rubles and yuan for more than a year, as Japan and China are promoting direct trading in yen and yuan.  As for Iran and China, all new trade and joint investments will be settled in yuan and rial.

Translation, if any was needed: in the near future, with the Europeans out of the mix, virtually none of Iran’s oil will be traded in dollars.

Moreover, three BRICS members (Russia, India, and China) allied with Iran are major holders (and producers) of gold. Their complex trade ties won’t be affected by the whims of a U.S. Congress.  In fact, when the developing world looks at the profound crisis in the Atlanticist West, what they see is massive U.S. debt, the Fed printing money as if there’s no tomorrow, lots of “quantitative easing,” and of course the Eurozone shaking to its very foundations.

Follow the money. Leave aside, for the moment, the new sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank that will go into effect months from now, ignore Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz (especially unlikely given that it’s the main way Iran gets its own oil to market), and perhaps one key reason the crisis in the Persian Gulf is mounting involves this move to torpedo the petrodollar as the all-purpose currency of exchange.

It’s been spearheaded by Iran and it’s bound to translate into an anxious Washington, facing down not only a regional power, but its major strategic competitors China and Russia.  No wonder all those carriers are heading for the Persian Gulf right now, though it’s the strangest of showdowns — a case of military power being deployed against economic power.

In this context, it’s worth remembering that in September 2000 Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar as the currency of payment for Iraq’s oil, and moved to the euro. In March 2003, Iraq was invaded and the inevitable regime change occurred. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar both as Africa’s common currency and as the currency of payment for his country’s energy resources. Another intervention and another regime change followed.

Washington/NATO/Tel Aviv, however, offers a different narrative.  Iran’s “threats” are at the heart of the present crisis, even if these are, in fact, that country’s reaction to non-stop US/Israeli covert war and now, of course, economic war as well.  It’s those “threats,” so the story goes, that are leading to rising oil prices and so fueling the current recession, rather than Wall Street’s casino capitalism or massive U.S. and European debts. The cream of the 1% has nothing against high oil prices, not as long as Iran’s around to be the fall guy for popular anger.

As energy expert Michael Klare pointed out recently, we are now in a new geo-energy era certain to be extremely turbulent in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.  But consider 2012 the start-up year as well for a possibly massive defection from the dollar as the global currency of choice. As perception is indeed reality, imagine the real world — mostly the global South — doing the necessary math and, little by little, beginning to do business in their own currencies and investing ever less of any surplus in U.S. Treasury bonds.

Of course, the U.S. can always count on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates — which I prefer to call the Gulf Counterrevolution Club (just look at their performances during the Arab Spring). For all practical geopolitical purposes, the Gulf monarchies are a U.S. satrapy. Their decades-old promise to use only the petrodollar translates into them being an appendage of Pentagon power projection across the Middle East.  Centcom, after all, is based in Qatar; the U.S. Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain. In fact, in the immensely energy-wealthy lands that we could label Greater Pipelineistan — and that the Pentagon used to call “the arc of instability” — extending through Iran all the way to Central Asia, the GCC remains key to a dwindling sense of U.S. hegemony.

If this were an economic rewrite of Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Iran would be but one cog in an infernal machine slowly shredding the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Still, it’s the cog that Washington is now focused on.  They have regime change on the brain.  All that’s needed is a spark to start the fire (in — one hastens to add — all sorts of directions that are bound to catch Washington off guard).

Remember Operation Northwoods, that 1962 plan drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to stage terror operations in the U.S. and blame them on Fidel Castro’s Cuba.  (President Kennedy shot the idea down.)  Or recall the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, used by President Lyndon Johnson as a justification for widening the Vietnam War.  The U.S. accused North Vietnamese torpedo boats of unprovoked attacks on U.S. ships.  Later, it became clear that one of the attacks had never even happened and the president had lied about it.

It’s not at all far-fetched to imagine hardcore Full-Spectrum-Dominance practitioners inside the Pentagon riding a false-flag incident in the Persian Gulf to an attack on Iran (or simply using it to pressure Tehran into a fatal miscalculation).  Consider as well the new U.S. military strategy just unveiled by President Obama in which the focus of Washington’s attention is to move from two failed ground wars in the Greater Middle East to the Pacific (and so to China). Iran happens to be right in the middle, in Southwest Asia, with all that oil heading toward an energy-hungry modern Middle Kingdom over waters guarded by the U.S. Navy.

So yes, this larger-than-life psychodrama we call “Iran” may turn out to be as much about China and the U.S. dollar as it is about the politics of the Persian Gulf or Iran’s nonexistent bomb.  The question is: What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Beijing to be born?

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, a TomDispatch regular, and a political analyst for al-Jazeera and RT. His latest book is Obama Does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Pepe Escobar

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Tom Engelhardt
Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute, where he is a fellow.
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Sinking the petrodollar in the oil-laden Gulf
With a history of coups, interventions and weapon sales, what new action could possibly go wrong?
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The highlights of US-Iran relations for the past century have usually revolved around one thing: oil [EPA]

New York, NY – These days, with a crisis atmosphere growing in the Persian Gulf, a little history lesson about the US and Iran might be just what the doctor ordered. Here, then, are a few high- (or low-) lights from their relationship over the past half-century-plus:

Summer 1953: The CIA and British intelligence hatch a plot for a coup that overthrows a democratically elected government in Iran, intent on nationalising that country’s oil industry. In its place, they put an autocrat, the young Shah of Iran, and his soon-to-be feared secret police. He runs the country as his repressive fiefdom for a quarter-century, becoming Washington’s “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf – until overthrown in 1979 by a home-grown revolutionary movement, which ushers in the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini and the mullahs. While Khomeini & Co were hardly Washington’s men, thanks to that 1953 coup they were, in a sense, its own political offspring. In other words, the fatal decision to overthrow a popular democratic government shaped the Iranian world Washington now loathes, and even then oil was at the bottom of things.

 I Knew Khomeini – Part One

1967: Under the US “Atoms for Peace” programme, started in the 1950s by President Dwight D Eisenhower, the Shah is allowed to buy a five-megawatt, light-water type research reactor for Tehran (which – call it irony – is still playing a role in the dispute over the Iranian nuclear programme). Defence Department officials did worry at the time that the Shah might use the “peaceful atom” as a basis for a future weapons programme or that nuclear materials might fall into the wrong hands. “An aggressive successor to the Shah,” went a 1974 Pentagon memo, “might consider nuclear weapons the final item needed to establish Iran’s complete military dominance of the region.” But that didn’t stop them from aiding and abetting the creation of an Iranian nuclear programme.

The Shah, like his successors, argued that such a programme was Iran’s national “right” and dreamt of a country that would get significant portions of its electricity from a string of nuclear plants. As a 1970s ad by a group of US power companies put the matter thus: “The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world. Yet he’s building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country. He knows the oil is running out – and time with it.” In other words, the US nuclear programme was the genesis for the Iranian one that Washington now so despises.

September 1980: Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein launches a war of aggression against Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. In the early 1980s, he becomes Washington’s man, our “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf, and we offer him our hand – and also “detailed information” on Iranian deployments and tactical planning that help him use his chemical weapons more effectively against the Iranian military. Oh, and just to make sure things turn out really, really well, the Reagan administration also decides to sell missiles and other arms to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran on the sly, part of what became known as the “Iran-Contra Affair” and which almost brings down the president and his men. Success!

“In more than 50 years, America’s leaders have never made a move in Iran that didn’t lead to unexpected and unpleasant blowback… what could possibly go wrong?”

March 2003: Saddam Hussein is, by now, no longer our man in Baghdad but a new “Hitler” who, top Washington officials claim, undoubtedly has a nuclear weapons programme that could someday leave mushroom clouds rising over US cities. So the Bush administration launches a war of aggression against Iraq, which, like Iran, just happens to – in the words of Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz – “float on a sea of oil”. (Bush officials hope, in the wake of a “cakewalk” of a war to revive that country’s oil industry, to privatise it, and use it to destroy OPEC, driving down the price of oil on world markets.) Nine years later, a Shia government is in power in Baghdad closely allied with Tehran, which has gained regional strength and influence thanks to the disastrous US occupation.

So call it an unblemished record of a kind not easy to find. In more than 50 years, the leaders of the US have never made a move in Iran (or near it) that didn’t lead to unexpected and unpleasant blowback. Now, another administration in Washington, after years of what can only be called a covert war against Iran, is preparing yet another set of clever manoeuvres – this time sanctions against Iran’s central bank meant to cripple the country’s oil industry and crack open the economy followed by no-one knows what.

And honestly, I mean, really, given past history, what could possibly go wrong? Regime change in Iran? It’s bound to be a slam dunk.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), will be published in November.

A version of this article first appeared on TomDispatch.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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China tiptoes to petrodollar recycling

China tiptoes to petrodollar recycling

By M K Bhadrakumar
Indian Punchline
January 19, 2012

The currency swap agreement between China and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] signed during Premier Wen Jiabao’s tour of the Persian Gulf region ending today, will raise eyebrows in the western capitals, especially London and Washington. The list of countries with which China has such deals is slowly and steadily lengthening and this is the first such deal with a Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] state.

The deal with the UAE is worth $5.5 billion — bilateral trade was $36 billion last year with Chinese exports accounting for two-thirds — and aims at “strengthening bilateral financial cooperation, promoting trade and investments and jointly safeguarding regional financial stability”, according to the Chinese central bank. China is, in essence, providing ’seed money’ so that businessmen wouldn’t need to convert every transaction into dollars, thereby lowering the foreign exchange costs.

The cool reasoning here is practical convenience but its shadows inevitably fall on other domains. Clearly, the Middle East is being ’sensitized’ about the renminbi’s role. To be kept as reserve currency in the UAE vaults enhances renminbi’s prestige. For the UAE, keeping the mighty yuan is one of the safest thing they ever did in the world of high finance, as the appreciation of the Chinese currency in value is a near-certain happening in the future.

Beyond all that, the swap deal calls attention to China’s rapidly-growing economic links with the GCC region. It is a political statement of intent by China to boost ties with the UAE, which has been a ‘pocket borough’ of Britain, historically, in the Middle East. From the dhows, they are calling, ‘Yo, ho, Chinese are coming!’

But they are coming with a strong purpose, too. Abu Dhabi holds 7% of world’s proven oil reserves, oil price is crossing $100 per barrel and UAE will be renewing its oil concessions through fresh tendering in 2014 and this time around, Chinese companies are sure to give Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Total a run for their money. Of course, the UAE is a tough market where the western business culture is well-entrenched, but then, never underestimate the Chinese.

Over and above, China is tiptoeing into the dazzling world of petrodollar recycling and it is difficult to conjecture that Beijing is unaware what it could be doing via this swap deal with the UAE — for an ancient country that knows only too well that any long journey must begin with a small step.

The heart of the matter is that the GCC currencies are pegged to the greenback and their massive earnings are largely ploughed into the bank vaults in London or New York or are used to acquire assets such as US equities and Treasury bonds — that is, when they are not spent on arms deals and other extravagant spendings.

The swap deal with the UAE has introduced a tantalizing thought to the GCC states — possibility of renminbi invoicing — that will worry the west. Currently, there may be no need to lose, sleep since Beijing severely restricts the flows of its currency across its borders but China is doubtless putting the infrastructure in place for an era that is not too far off when it may begin to do away with today’s strict limits on currency flows, and Beijing may well seek the use of renminbi in international trade. By 2025, China may be importing three times more oil from the GCC than Uncle Sam would need to buy.

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2012/01/19/china-tiptoes-into-petrodollar-recycling/

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Iran Crisis: Follow The Money, It’s All About Petrodollars!

  • The current war mongering over Iran has nothing to do with Iran having nuclear bombs. They don’t and do not have a nuclear weapons program. It is all a psyop/diversion. It is about global monetary hegemony, Global Supra-National Central Bank (very likely the IMF 2.0) and the coming Luciferian New World Order!

    Iran crisis – Follow the money, it’s all about petrodollars! 
    by Allen L Roland, Veterans Today, http://presstv.com/
    As Obama refuses  to acknowledge that Obamanomics is rapidly sinking ~ a closer look at the Iran  crisis reveals, if you follow the money, that the real issue is petrodollars in that Iran is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia as it has already done with China and Japan. As such, Regime Change is now the goal of the Obama administration as it was in 2000 when Iraq’s late Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar and recently when Libya’s late Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar as currency for his energy resources.

    Its classic good  cop/bad cop with Obama positioning himself as the good cop who is trying to  restrain an impetuous Israel who wants to attack Iran. Things got a little too dicey last week, with the Mossad assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, so Obama cancelled the joint war games with Israel ~ particularly since Israel  still refuses to agree not to launch preemptive action against Iran without U.S.  approval.

     But as Pepe  Escobar writes ~ “This larger-than-life psychodrama we call “Iran” may turn out  to be as much about China and the U.S. dollar as it is about the politics of the Persian Gulf or Iran’s nonexistent bomb.”

     To get a handle  on this psychodrama , we have to follow the money and that means the implied  threat to petrodollars ~ which send shivers up the spine of the global financial  elite. Escobar elaborates ~ “…consider 2012 the start-up year as well for a  possibly massive defection from the dollar as the global currency of choice. As  perception is indeed reality, imagine the real world ~ mostly the global South ~  doing the necessary math and, little by little, beginning to do business in  their own currencies and investing ever less of any surplus in U.S. Treasury  bonds.”

    Excerpt: “That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is  dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles – a similar  move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan.  As for India, an economic powerhouse in  the neighborhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil, a trade  that, in the long run, is similarly unlikely to be conducted in  dollars….Translation, if any was needed: in the near future, with the Europeans  out of the mix, virtually none of Iran’s oil will be traded in dollars. In this  context, it’s worth remembering that in September 2000 Saddam Hussein abandoned  the petrodollar as the currency of payment for Iraq’s oil, and moved to the euro. In March 2003, Iraq was invaded and the inevitable regime change occurred. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar both as Africa’s common currency  and as the currency of payment for his country’s energy resources. Another intervention and another regime change followed.”

    So what we are really talking about now with Iran, as it was with Iraq and Libya, is REGIME  CHANGE ~ for Obamanomics, like the Titanic, will surely sink unless those  precious Eurodollars are investing in the ever growing surplus of U.S. Treasury  bonds.

    Pepe compares it  to Poe’s classic The Pit and the Pendulum ~ “If this were an economic rewrite of  Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Iran would be but one cog  in an infernal machine slowly shredding the dollar as the world’s reserve  currency. Still, it’s the cog that Washington is now focused on.  They have regime change on the  brain.  All that’s needed is a spark  to start the fire (in – one hastens to add – all sorts of directions that are  bound to catch Washington off guard).”

    As Petrodollar  expert William Clark writes regarding Petrodollar Warfare ~ “the upcoming Iran bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world – global oil and  gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand  its debt-financing via issuance of U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s  international demand/liquidity value will fall.”

    To make it  simple, Obama is captain of a sinking ship, overloaded with ever increasing  debt, but he still stands on the bow convinced he is flying when in reality he  is just one spark, or a few minutes, or days away from a complete economic  disaster.

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Pol/Econ: The Last Days of the PetroDollar

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Monday, 29 October 2007 Written by Garrett Johnson

“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it. Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal? That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast, interwoven, interacting, multivaried, multinational dominion of dollars.

— character Arthur Jensen from the movie Network
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The newscame out yesterday when few would notice.

CARACAS (Reuters) – OPEC is likely to discuss creating a basket of currencies for oil pricing at its next summit due to the steady decline in the dollar, Venezuela’s Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Friday.

“The need to establish a basket of currencies … will probably be a point of discussion in the next OPEC summit,” Ramirez told reporters during an evening event in the presidential palace.

“The dollar as a benchmark currency has been weakening quite a lot and it creates distortions in oil markets.”

While disturbing, it wouldn’t mean much except for the fact that this is merely the latest step in a trend away from the dollar by OPEC nations. For example:

The question is: why does this matter?

History of the PetroDollar

The petrodollar is an interesting historical, economic, phenomena not likely to ever be repeated.

A petrodollar (a term coined in 1973) is an American dollar earned by a foreign nation from the sale of its own oil.

The significance of the petrodollar revolves around the concept of “what is money?”

Money is any marketable good or token used by a society as a store of value, a medium of exchange, and a unit of account. Since the needs arise naturally, societies organically create a money object when none exists.

Through almost all of human history, and through all of American history until 1971, money was based on a precious metal. In other words, if someone asked you what a dollar was your answer would be “1/44th of an ounce of gold”.

You see, before 1971 money wasn’t a piece of paper that only held value because the government said it did. Paper money was something backed by a tangible asset. It’s the gold (or silver) backing that gave the paper money its value (and after WWII America held 80% of the gold in the world). If it wasn’t for some sort of commodity backing America’s paper dollars wouldn’t have any more real value than Weimar Reichmarchs.

So what commodity backed the dollar after Nixon defaulted on our international debts and took America off the gold standard?

Oil was that commodity.

“Government is the only agency that can take a valuable commodity like paper, slap some ink on it, and make it totally worthless.”

— Ludwig von Mises

1971 was significant for two reasons directly related to America’s default on its international debts and the petrodollar.

One reason was that it marked the start of increasing price inflation (due to the devaluation of the dollar). The second reason is 1971 marked the peak in America’s oil production.

Until 1971 America had been the leading crude oil producer in the world. The allies war machine in WWII ran largely on Texas crude. But after 1971 the world’s oil production shifted from Texas to the Persian Gulf.

Fortunately for America, OPEC nations all sold their oil in dollars, and pegged their currencies to the dollar. Meaning that if Japan wanted to buy oil from Saudi Arabia they needed American dollars to make that purchase.

This created an external, artificial demand for our pretty, green pieces of paper. The world’s economy runs on oil, and as long as all the oil producing nations demanded dollars for their crude then American dollars were in reality backed by oil. In other words, it was Bretton Woods II.

The advantages are obvious. For instance, America does not need to have a foreign currency reserve like other nations do because it prints the ultimate “hard currency”. What other currency would other nations want other than the one that bought the commodity their economy depended on?

Being able to print the world’s reserve currency at no cost also means that interest rates are kept at an artificially low level because foreigners need our dollars more than we need their savings. It also means that massive trade deficits are not an important issue because we can always print more dollars to pay for the goods that other nations produce.

Like oil, most other commodities traded in the world are traded in dollars.

Bretton Woods II in Danger?
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However, there are significant differences between Bretton Woods I and Bretton Woods II.

In Bretton Woods I, the dollar was fixed to a certain amount of gold. Other nations could either have dollars, or gold, in exchange for trade surpluses. When America spent too much money on the Vietnam War, other nations decided they wanted gold instead of paper dollars. The Nixon Administration realized it didn’t have enough gold to back all those dollars it was printing, and the system collapsed.

In Bretton Woods II, there is no limit to the amount of dollars America can print, hence the massive amount of price inflation (aka currency devaluation) we’ve seen since 1971.

But unlike Bretton Woods I, we rely on the kindness of other national leaders. OPEC nations must sell their oil priced in dollars. If they don’t then the dollar becomes worth nothing more than a Euro or a Yen, except with massive trade and budget deficits. Those trade deficits are currently funded by simply printing more dollars, but if other nations didn’t need dollars to purchase oil what would we fund our trade deficits with?

“The U.S. dollar is a ‘faith-based currency’ dependent on the credibility of a central bank”

— Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher

Hence you can see the problem of when Iraq started selling its oil in Euros rather than dollars in 2000. Within a few years we have invaded Iraq.

Now Iran is pricing their oil in Euros and the war drums are beating again. This brings us to a new term worth knowing – Petrodollar Warfare.

Most OPEC governments are being propped up by our military might. Most OPEC nations recycle their massive trade surpluses back into American debt rather than invest in their own people. It’s a sick symbiotic relationship that requires our troops having their blood spilled to defend corrupt monarchs.

A relationship this dysfunctional can’t last for long. It’s also extremely expensive for America, and those costs are what is driving the dollar down in value. It’s the dollar’s drop in value is what is causing the OPEC nations to move away from the dollar.

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Iran Opens Oil Bourse – Harbinger of Trouble for New York and London?

By John Daly| Mon, 18 July 2011 13:32 | 21

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The last three years of global recession have dealt a major blow to American capitalist ideas trumpeted throughout the world on the value of “free markets.” Wall St has been revealed as a form of casino economy, with the bankster insiders gambling with other people’s, and eventually, the government’s money in the form of bailouts. As the Republicans in Congress, scenting victory in the 2012 presidential elections, hold a gun to the Obama administration’s head and rating agencies consider downgrading U.S. government bonds in light of Washington’s possible defaulting, many ideas around the world that previously seemed implausible because of the dominance of the U.S. economy are garnering renewed interest.

Not surprisingly, many of these concepts originate in countries not enamored with Washington’s influence, perhaps none so more than “Axis of Evil” charter member Iran, which has seen its economy hammered by more than three decades of U.S.-led sanctions. Now Iran is working a program, that, if it succeeds, could help undermine the dollar’s preeminence as the world’s reserve currency more effectively than a Republican filibuster.

Iran’s sly weapon against the Great Satan’s currency? An oil bourse on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, which has now begun selling high-grade Iranian crude oil.

Mohsen Qamsari, deputy director for international affairs of the Iranian National Oil Company was modest about the exchange’s initial capabilities, saying, “The commodity stock exchange has been pursuing a mechanism for offering crude oil on the stock exchange for a long time, and it has taken the preliminary steps, to the extent possible. Considering the existing banking problems, foreign customers are not expected to be taking part in the first phase of offering crude oil on the stock exchange, and this will be done on a trial basis. Today Bahregan heavy, high quality, low sulfur crude oil with less sourness will be offered on the stock exchange for the first time. In the first phase, a 600,000 barrel shipment will be offered.”

Given that the world currently consumes roughly 83 million barrels of crude oil each day, the initial oil offerings at the Iranian stock exchange are hardly going to make or break the market, but they do represent an attempt by a significant oil producer to divert revenue streams from New York Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange, which handles West Texas Intermediate benchmark futures, and London’s Intercontinental Exchange, which deals in North Sea Brent. All trades are in dollars, effectively giving the U.S. currency a monopoly.

The Kish Exchange dates back to February 2008, when instead of Tehran, Kish was chosen because it had designated as a free trade zone. The Exchange was set up to trade contracts in euros, Iranian rials and a basket of other currencies other than dollars. The previous year, Iran had requested that its petroleum customers pay in non-dollar currencies. But the Exchange initially traded contracts only for oil-derived products, such as those used as feedstocks for plastics and pharmaceuticals.  Now the institution has taken the next step.

Even as Congress remains tone-deaf to the recession’s effect on American jobs and the economy, others have taken careful note. On 17 June 2008, addressing the 29th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the OPEC Fund for International Development in the Iranian city of Isfahan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told those in attendance, “The fall in the value of the dollar is one of the biggest problems facing the world today. The damage caused by this has already affected the global economy, particularly those of the energy-exporting countries. … Therefore, I repeat my earlier suggestion, that a combination of the world’s valid currencies should become a basis for oil transactions, or (OPEC) member countries should determine a new currency for oil transactions.”

What it would take for Iran’s new exchange to survive and flourish are some heavy-duty customers that Washington would be wary of picking a fight with, and Tehran already has one – China.

China, the world’s largest buyer of Iranian crude oil, has renewed its annual import pacts for 2011. In 2010 Iran supplied about 12 percent of China’s total crude imports. According to the latest report of the China Customs Organization, Iran’s total oil exports to China stood at 8.549 million tons between January and April 2011, up 32 percent compared with the same period last year. Iran is currently China’s third largest supplier of crude oil, providing China with nearly one million barrels per day.

China simply ignores Washington’s squeals about sanctions, but it is concerned about the bottom line, and unless Iran makes its oil prices more attractive versus competing supplies from the rest of the Middle East or South American exporters, it may be hard for the OPEC member to boost its share in the rapidly expanding Chinese market.

Enter the Kish Exchange.

China’s Ambassador to Tehran Yu Hung Yang, addressing the Iran-China trade conference in Tehran on Monday, said that the value of the two countries’ trade exchanges surged 55 percent during the first four months of 2011 over the same period a year ago to $13.28 billion and further predicted that the figure would surpass $40 billion by the end of the year.

So much for sanctions, eh?

So, while Washington prepares to commit political hara-kiri, Iran is preparing to take away a little of the capitalist glow from New York and London. If the Chinese decide to start paying for their Iranian purchases strictly in yuan, expect the trickle away from the dollar in energy pricing to become a stampede. That ought to give Washington politicos an issue to think about besides gay marriage.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com

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Chris Martenson Lecture On Why The Next 20 Years Will Be Marked By The Collapse Of The Exponential Function

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2011 22:12 -0500

In this video courtesy of GoldMoney, Chris Martenson, economic analyst at chrismartenson.com and author of ‘The Crash Course’, explains why he thinks that the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years. In his presentation he focuses on the so-called three “Es”: Economy, Energy and Environment. He argues that at this point in time it is no longer possible to view either one of those topics separately from one another.

Since all our money is loaned onto existence, our economy has to grow exponentially. Martenson proves this point empirically by showing a 99.9% fit of the actual growth curve of the last 40 years to an exponential curve. If we wanted to continue on this path, our debt load would have to double again over the next 10 years. By continually increasing our debt relative to GDP we are making the assumption that our future will always be wealthier than our past. He believes that this assumption is flawed and that the debt loads are already unmanageable.

Martenson explains how exponential growth works and why it is so scary that our economy is based on it. In an example he illustrates how unimaginably fast things speed up towards the end of an exponential curve. He shows that an exponential chart can be found in every one of the three “E’s” for instance in GDP growth, oil production, water use or species extinction. Due to the natural limitations on resources, Martenson comes to the conclusion that we are facing a serious energy crisis.

This energy predicament is namely that the quantity of oil as well as the quality of oil are in decline. He shows that oil discoveries peaked in 1964 and oil production peaked 40 years later. Martenson also shows how our return on invested energy is rapidly declining – the “cheap and easy” oil fields have already been exploited. In 1930 the energy return for oil was 100:1 or greater. Today it is already down to 3:1 and newer technologies such as corn-based ethanol only provide a 1.5:1 return. Martenson predicts that the time in between oil shocks will get shorter and shorter and that oil prices will go much higher.

Not only oil but also other natural resources are being rapidly used up as well. At the current projected pace of use, known reserves for many metals and minerals will be gone within the next 10 to 20 years. The energy needed to get these non-renewable resources out of the ground is growing exponentially. So we live in a world that must grow, but can’t grow and is subject to depletion. The conclusion out of all this is that our money system is poorly designed and that we need to rethink how we do things as quickly as possible.

After finishing his presentation Chris Martenson answers questions regarding a rise in efficiency, alternative technologies and oil prices. He also responds to questions regarding electricity, shale gas, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and uranium and the race for global resources.

This video was recorded on November 16 at the Gold & Silver Meeting 2011 in Madrid.

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Petrodollar warfare

Black and gold: oil and the US dollar
By Matthew WildA dozen national leaders will sit in a room in Libya sometime in 2012 and essentially decide whether the U.S. continues as a country.The men are the leaders of the oil producing nations, and the meeting the next Opec conference. More radical members are pushing to have the cartel move away from trading in the U.S. dollar. It would devastate the U.S., while rewarding the oil states.Forget for moment peak oil, party politics, the credit crisis, terrorism or even nuclear rogue states – these are all secondary to the new Cold War. This time around it’s economic warfare, played out on the business pages.According to the petrodollar warfare hypothesis, Continental Europe and the United States have been embroiled in a bitter fight since the 1995 introduction of the euro – which can explain the Iraq invasion and demonization of Iran; the underlying themes can be traced back to successive U.S. administrations’ refusal to acknowledge peak oil, climate change or renewable energy sources. Complicating things for the future is the involvement of Russia and China.Guns and butter

To tell the story I must first step back to 1971, when President Nixon, needing to control inflation caused by rampant “guns and butter” spending on the Vietnam war and social programs, brought the U.S. off the gold standard. That year also saw Opec countries agreeing to trade oil exclusively in US dollars – ironically, the year U.S. production hit peak.

The 1944 Bretton Woods agreement – of the WWII Allies – had established the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  All other currencies had their rates of exchange fixed  to the dollar, which in turn was redeemable for gold at $35 per ounce. But the US was soon expanding the supply of Federal Reserve notes – essentially creating money which was not backed by gold. When Nixon came off the gold standard it sent a shockwave across the world’s markets.

The US dollar remains as a reserve currency. four-fifths of all foreign exchange transactions and half of all world exports are denominated in dollars, and IMF loans are counted out in greenbacks. But then, the world desperately needs dollars to buy oil. Third World countries sell raw materials for dollars just to stay afloat.

Having the dollar buoyed by oil rather than gold made the U.S. rich. This also suited the oil producing nations, as a strong dollar is more profitable than payment in a weak currency.

The last ever American trade surplus was recorded in 1975. Every year since has seen a deficit, yet the economy has grown. The U.S. is essentially exporting dollars in return for goods and services. It is addicted to oil.

U.S. economy depends on massive global oil consumption

Ronald Reagan was the first politician to focus on the relationship between the dollar and oil. His first action as president in 1981 was to remove the solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed on the White House roof (and axe the tax credit for those wanting to fool around with renewable energy). He saw the future of the US depending on the massive international consumption of oil, and encouraged the Saudis to flood the market. This brought the price of oil down to a particular low around 1985-86, boosting global consumption; a complete reversal of the 1973 oil embargo.

This was win-win: increasing oil use boosted international demand for the dollar and the American economy soared, while the low price of oil brought the Soviet economy to its knees, as their inefficient extraction meant they could not sell at a profit. The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991.

But in 1995, European nations gambled everything on creating a currency to capture oil revenue. The euro was launched specifically to become the “new” US dollar, a reserve currency used in the oil trade (it is currently used daily by 327 million Europeans and has more banknotes in circulation than the US dollar).

If the world had adopted the euro as reserve currency the U.S. economy would have been wiped out. And it looked like this was beginning to happen in 2000, when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein began to trade Oil for euros. Depending on who you listen to, this was either revenge for sanctions or a level-headed economic decision, as the euro was stronger than the dollar and had more purchasing power (a barrel of oil traded for euros bought more on the world market than one traded for dollars).

Afghanistan and Iraq invasions

The next major player is George W Bush. Elected 2001, he launched the Afghanistan invasion shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and the following year named Iraq as part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. stance on Iraq, supposedly over weapons of mass destruction, was backed by Britain and Australia – both with sovereign currencies tied to the dollar – and most bitterly opposed by France and Germany, which had invested all in the euro. On one side, countries with an interest in Iraq reverting to the dollar, and on the other, nations with a financial interest in continuing euro oil sales.

The Iraq war began March 2003; Bagdad fell in April; by June, the London Financial Times announced Iraq was now selling oil in dollars.

Iran’s ‘nuclear bomb’

The next international leader to talk up the euro bandwagon was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who became president of Iran mid-2005. (Iran had actually been quietly accepting euros for oil since 2003 but never made an issue of it.) Iran was subsequently announced to be “10 years away from developing a nuclear bomb.”

Looked at this way, economic warfare is Iran’s nuclear bomb.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was next to the game, announcing his intention to move foreign-exchange holdings out of the dollar and into the euro in October 2005. (Bizarrely, this immediately followed American media support for religious broadcaster Pat Robertson’s call for Chavez’s assassination.)

Ahmadinejad and Chavez got their chance to attack the U.S. at the November 2007 Opec summit. “They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper,” Ahmadinejad told an impromptu press conference, “We all know that the U.S. dollar has no economic value.” He pushed Opec members to dump the dollar, while Chavez argued for a more Socialist agenda for the group. US ally Saudi Arabia rallied against both calls.

Prophesy for 2012?

The next Opec summit is held in Libya in 2012. Ahmadinejad has already said he will be urging oil exporting countries to cease accepting the US dollar.

At the time of writing (March 2010) the euro is in freefall over the collapse of the Greek economy, and beginning to look like an experiment that failed. The euro might not exist in 2012, or it might be so worthless that no sane Opec leader would contemplate the switch. But what’s to stop Ahmadinejad pushing to trade in a basket of other currencies, including the Chinese yuan? Iran has a special trading relationship with China, in pretty much the way that Saudi Arabia does with the US.

The bell tolls

According to an October 2009 report in the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, China’s recent actions suggest it is preparing to go head-to-head with the U.S. over reserve currency. It’s worth quoting at length:

You can date the end of dollar hegemony from China’s decision last month to sell its first batch of sovereign bonds in Chinese yuan to foreigners.

Beijing does not need to raise money abroad since it has $2 trillion (£1.26 trillion) in reserves. The sole purpose is to prepare the way for the emergence of the yuan as a full-fledged global currency.

It’s the tolling of the bell,’ said Michael Power from Investec Asset Management. ‘We are only beginning to grasp the enormity and historical significance of what has happened.’

(Daily Telegraph, China Calls Time on Dollar Hegemony, October 2009)

Beijing previously kept the yuan pegged to the dollar, deliberately low to boost exports that keep factories running full tilt, but this is no long term strategy as it risks inflation due to rising domestic demand.

The next Great Depression

Opec nations account for two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves and one-third of production. If they turn against the dollar en masse in 2012, or if enough oil producing nations individually switch to other currencies, the US economy is over. The last Great Depression was bad enough, but back then the U.S. had vast reserves of oil. The only way out of the next one will be for the nation to export more than it imports.

Being realistic, the average Opec leader is deeply conservative and decidedly pro-Western – educated in the West and arguably reliant on Western expatriates to keep their economies running. But they are under immense pressure to ramp up domestic spending; if nothing else, to fend off Islamic revolution. If the dollar slumps, other currencies would give them more purchasing power on the world market – their oil is simply worth more sold this way. The question is, how long would they remain loyal to a plummeting dollar?

Meanwhile, Russia – strong again thanks to rising oil prices – is emerging as a wildcard, ramping up oil and natural gas sales to Europe. Currently trading in euros, Vladimir Putin has let it known he would prefer payment by ruble. It is perhaps no coincidence that the U.S. has a “missile defence plan” in Eastern Europe. Ostensibly to shield against launches from Iran or North Korea, the Kremlin feels they are squarely aimed against Russia.

Committed to Iraq and Afghan presence

This economic argument suggests why, despite a new U.S. president coming to power with a mandate of change, the nation remains committed to a military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barak Obama, like Nixon, has a guns and butter spending problem: how can he invest in the home economy while maintaining a $3 trillion overseas war?

Put simplistically, the best way to ensure Iraq exports oil for greenbacks is to keep the troops there to oversee things. The U.S. also needs control of Afghanistan to exert influence over Central Asian reserves. (It is estimated that the Caspian Sea basin has $12 trillion reserves of oil and natural gas.) Even if this involves a pipeline through Afghanistan, the U.S. does not intend to steal anyone’s oil – but the nation remains utterly dependent on oil trade continuing in the dollar.

There’s a Catch-22 situation here: Obama can’t afford to call the troops home if it means losing a grip on the oil producing regions; he can’t afford to keep them in place if it causes the dollar to weaken. Either way, oil producing nations could turn their backs on U.S. currency.

Forty year free ride

The world buying oil with dollars has given the U.S. economy a 40-year free ride. Being tied to oil is a great strength, but also a colossal weakness: the day the world stops buying vast amounts of oil is the day the US collapses.

Accepting this argument goes some way to explaining why successive U.S. governments:
• can afford to run massive deficits year in, year out
• won’t acknowledge peak oil, alternate energy or global warming (in favour of promoting oil consumption)
• invaded Afghanistan, and maintain a presence in the country
• invaded Iraq, and maintain a presence there
• came head-to-head with France and Germany over Iraq
• threatened Iran
• promote a missile defence plan in Eastern Europe
• look on the rise of China with alarm

It has the benefit of being simple (perhaps overly simplistic) but does not rely on illogical rhetoric like having to believe particular presidents are evil or stupid.

Disclaimer: the small print

I am not attempting to be anti-U.S, nor “rehabilitate” Iraq or Iran, both of which are longtime rogue states. I am not trying to come up with some sort of universal theory of the world; just look at disparate different events from a unified viewpoint. I’m also aware that placing information in a chronological framework could look like blame or finger-pointing.

By far the greatest danger, however, in arguing too strongly for the petrodollar warfare hypothesis I can give the impression that there are no other benefits to the US of its involvement in the Mid East. As a recent column by the excellent writer Charles Hugh Smith observes, the “US has neatly carved out a sphere of influence in the fulcrum of the Mideast.” He has drawn a map of US influence that can either be interpreted as surrounding Iran, or else as neatly bisecting the region in a line from the Mediterranean to China. (It probably is both – it’s about being close to all oil resources and the major players; no one can embark on colonial ambitions without having to cross US forces). As Smith tells it:

It is a strategic power play of breathtaking consequence. Ultimately, the U.S. doesn’t have to “win” or even control territory; it simply has to deny control to others, introduce a permanent uncertainty and unease in their plans, and establish forward bases for power projection.

Clearly, there is room for both positions – petrodollar warfare and a more traditional view of empire. Soldiers on the ground are a way of keeping the peace, both in military and economic terms.

If nothing else – if you reject this argument – oil being traded in the US dollar has given Americans a particular advantage: the price of oil does not fluctuate with their currency. For example, oil becomes a lot more expensive in the UK when the pound sterling slumps in value (against the dollar, that is). British citizens are paying the same dollar price per barrel of oil, but each dollar costs more pounds, so to them, oil has become more expensive..

This essay of mine is an attempt to look at oil from a currency viewpoint, which suggests that the U.S. has more to fear than just peak oil. Hydro-carbon resource collapse is coming; it’s just that bigger threats to the American economy are closer at hand.

Personally, I believe that a world be shaped by American ideals is a better place than one shaped a Chinese dictatorship that starved 30 million of their own people. For obvious reasons I do not want the U.S. economy to collapse.

Oil will hit peak, and the U.S. economy will fall. The tragedy is that by attempting to stave off more immediate economic threats, the nation is not readying itself to better deal with the more long-term issue life post oil.

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The Demise of The Petrodollar! Tehran Pushes To Ditch The US Dollar!

  • The actions taken by many countries to ditch the USD in international trade settlement and Iran oil trade, is a very significant event. The MSM is not reporting or under reporting it. This marks the beginning of the end of the petrodollar hegemony and the collapse of the USD as world reserve currency. Hyperinflation and world war is dead ahead !

    The Demise of the Petrodollar! Tehran Pushes to Ditch the US Dollar! 
    by Marin Katusa, http://www.caseyresearch.com/ 
    Rumors are swirling that India and Iran are at the negotiating table right now, hammering out a deal to trade oil for gold. Why does that matter, you ask? Only because it strikes at the heart of both the value of the US dollar and today’s high-tension standoff with Iran.

    The official line from the United States and the European Union is that Tehran must be punished for continuing its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. The punishment: sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, which are meant to isolate Iran and depress the value of its currency to such a point that the country crumbles.

    But that line doesn’t make sense, and the sanctions will not achieve their goals. Iran is far from isolated and its friends – like India – will stand by the oil-producing nation until the US either backs down or acknowledges the real matter at hand. That matter is the American dollar and its role as the global reserve currency.

    The short version of the story is that a 1970s deal cemented the US dollar as the only currency to buy and sell crude oil, and from that monopoly on the all-important oil trade the US dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. Massive demand for US dollars ensued, pushing the dollar’s value up, up, and away. In addition, countries stored their excess US dollars savings in US Treasuries, giving the US government a vast pool of credit from which to draw.

    We know where that situation led – to a US government suffocating in debt while its citizens face stubbornly high unemployment (due in part to the high value of the dollar); a failed real estate market; record personal-debt burdens; a bloated banking system; and a teetering economy. That is not the picture of a world superpower worthy of the privileges gained from having its currency back global trade. Other countries are starting to see that and are slowly but surely moving away from US dollars in their transactions, starting with oil.

    If the US dollar loses its position as the global reserve currency, the consequences for America are dire. A major portion of the dollar’s valuation stems from its lock on the oil industry – if that monopoly fades, so too will the value of the dollar. Such a major transition in global fiat currency relationships will bode well for some currencies and not so well for others, and the outcomes will be challenging to predict. But there is one outcome that we foresee with certainty: Gold will rise. Uncertainty around paper money always bodes well for gold, and these are uncertain days indeed.

    The Petrodollar System
    To explain this situation properly, we have to start in 1973. That’s when President Nixon asked King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to accept only US dollars as payment for oil and to invest any excess profits in US Treasury bonds, notes, and bills. In exchange, Nixon pledged to protect Saudi Arabian oil fields from the Soviet Union and other interested nations, such as Iran and Iraq. It was the start of something great for the US, even if the outcome was as artificial as the US real-estate bubble and yet constitutes the foundation for the valuation of the US dollar.

    By 1975 all of the members of OPEC agreed to sell their oil only in US dollars. Every oil-importing nation in the world started saving their surplus in US dollars so as to be able to buy oil; with such high demand for dollars the currency strengthened. On top of that, many oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia spent their US dollar surpluses on Treasury securities, providing a new, deep pool of lenders to support US government spending.

    The “petrodollar” system was a brilliant political and economic move. It forced the world’s oil money to flow through the US Federal Reserve, creating ever-growing international demand for both US dollars and US debt, while essentially letting the US pretty much own the world’s oil for free, since oil’s value is denominated in a currency that America controls and prints. The petrodollar system spread beyond oil: the majority of international trade is done in US dollars. That means that from Russia to China, Brazil to South Korea, every country aims to maximize the US-dollar surplus garnered from its export trade to buy oil.

    The US has reaped many rewards. As oil usage increased in the 1980s, demand for the US dollar rose with it, lifting the US economy to new heights. But even without economic success at home the US dollar would have soared, because the petrodollar system created consistent international demand for US dollars, which in turn gained in value. A strong US dollar allowed Americans to buy imported goods at a massive discount – the petrodollar system essentially creating a subsidy for US consumers at the expense of the rest of the world. Here, finally, the US hit on a downside: The availability of cheap imports hit the US manufacturing industry hard, and the disappearance of manufacturing jobs remains one of the biggest challenges in resurrecting the US economy today.

    There is another downside, a potential threat now lurking in the shadows. The value of the US dollar is determined in large part by the fact that oil is sold in US dollars. If that trade shifts to a different currency, countries around the world won’t need all their US money. The resulting sell-off of US dollars would weaken the currency dramatically.

    So here’s an interesting thought experiment. Everybody says the US goes to war to protect its oil supplies, but doesn’t it really go to war to ensure the continuation of the petrodollar system?

    … for more click here!

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Op-Ed Contributor

A Europe-Iran War

By MARK A. HELLER
Published: January 25, 2012

TEL AVIV — This week, the European Union went to war against Iran. There was no formal declaration, of course, nor even any undeclared use of military force. But the E.U. decision to place an embargo on Iranian oil imports, ban new contracts, and freeze Iranian Central Bank assets is effectively an act of war and may very well result in the military hostilities that sanctions are meant to forestall.

Oil exports account for over 50 percent of Iranian government revenue and about 80 percent of its hard currency earnings. And the E.U., as a bloc, is Iran’s second-largest customer, taking about a quarter of Iranian exports. Consequently, unless other customers neutralize E.U. actions by stepping up their own purchases from Iran — and indications from China, Japan and South Korea suggest that this is unlikely to be the case — the E.U. decision, coupled with existing American measures, will come close to imposing the “crippling sanctions” that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton threatened but could not deliver without European cooperation.

If that turns out to be the case, then the Iranian regime, already coping with high inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency, will feel constrained to react. One possibility is that it will capitulate and essentially dismantle its nuclear weapons program. That is obviously the outcome that Europeans and others hope sanctions (or even the credible threat of sanctions) will bring about.

But it is at least as likely that Iran, feeling trapped, will lash out in a desperate attempt to frighten the Europeans into backing down or at least introduce so much hysteria into the oil market that price spikes will allow it to earn the same revenue from a reduced volume of exports.

One form this might take would be an attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has already threatened to do. But that is probably beyond Iran’s capacity for very long and would in any case also shut down Iran’s own ability to export to whatever markets it manages to retain.

Far less complicated would be sabotage or rocket attacks on refineries, pipelines and other facilities in places like Abqaiq and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. These might be carried out as “false flag” operations by local Shiite insurgents concentrated in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, but nobody would be fooled and the risks of escalation to large-scale conflict with Iran would be significant.

In this scenario, the military confrontation that many Europeans have sought to avoid will become unavoidable, even if Iranian decision makers do not delude themselves into thinking that they would ultimately prevail.

Before such courses of action are discounted as unrealistic scare-mongering or dismissed on grounds that they would be self-defeating, it might be worth recalling that Imperial Japan did not attack the United States because it was physically attacked by the United States but rather because it was being economically squeezed (as Iran may well be squeezed now) to the point where it felt that war was preferable to slow-motion strangulation. And it made no difference that many Japanese military leaders, including Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, chief planner of the attack on Pearl Harbor, believed that Japan’s ultimate defeat was foreordained.

It is difficult to imagine that the E.U. members who adopted the decision on sanctions are unaware of this possible dynamic. Indeed, the very fact that British and French warships accompanied the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on its passage through the Straits and back into the Gulf — in brazen defiance of Iranian warnings — imply the opposite: that E.U. governments, especially the two with the greatest force projection capabilities, are perfectly cognizant of the possible consequences and are prepared to deal with them.

And that suggests that the European Union, notwithstanding its economic travails, is experiencing its own “spring” in foreign and defense policy and that those who tended in the past to dismiss it as a flaccid talking shop capable of little more than vacuous posturing now need to carry out a fundamental reassessment.

Mark A. Heller is principal research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University.

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Israel Tamps Down Iran War Threats

2012 January 20
Posted by Pat Donworth

Pat: We know there is a greater play behind these surface developments. We’ve watched the neo-cons’ formulaic posturing and build-up to war, with their assertions that Iran is making a nuclear bomb. It’s like watching a movie or play, with the characters taking on their roles and drama.

Nonetheless, I like the idea that Pres. Obama may have been instrumental in ‘tamping’ down Israel’s war drums.

“This time, the White House and other key elements of the U.S. national security apparatus are dead set against attacking Iran or provoking an Iranian attack. They have apparently now made that clear, in unmistakable terms, to Israeli leaders.”

Israel Tamps Down Iran War Threats

Ray McGovern, Consortium, News, 01-19-2012

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/01/19/israel-tamp-down-iran-war-threats/

Exclusive: For months, Israeli hardliners and their neocon allies in the United States have been beating the war drums over Iran. But apparent resistance to war from President Obama has brought a softening of rhetoric in Israel, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reports.

In a stunning departure from recent Israeli threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday used an interview with Israel’s Army radio to assert that any attack on Iran “is very far off,” adding, “We haven’t made any decision to do this.”

When pressed as to whether “very far off” meant weeks or months, Barak replied: “I wouldn’t want to provide any estimates. It’s certainly not urgent. I don’t want to relate to it as though tomorrow it will happen.” The world should be thankful for small favors.

Even more intriguing was the phrasing that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz put under its headline, “Barak: Israel ‘very far off’ from decision on Iran attack.” In a sub-head, Haaretz highlighted an equally important change in Israel’s stance regarding Iran:

“Israel believes Iran itself has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb, according to intelligence assessment to be presented later this week to U.S. Joint Chief of Staff [Martin] Dempsey.”

Haaretz did not specify its sourcing for that information. However, if it’s correct, it puts Israel in line with senior U.S. policy and intelligence officials — like Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — who have tenaciously held to the “Iran-has-not-yet-decided” judgment since it was promulgated unanimously by the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in November 2007.

That National Intelligence Estimate stated up front: “This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.” Among its declassified Key Judgments were:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; … Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”

If you thought that those conclusions in 2007 might be greeted in Official Washington or Tel Aviv with the sighs of relief, you would have been mistaken. Not only were the Israelis in high dudgeon, but so were President George W. Bush and — even more so — Vice President Dick Cheney, who had been persuaded to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2008.

Here’s what Bush wrote in his memoir, Decision Points: “But after the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

For his part, Cheney publicly expressed his chagrin at the wobbliness of his president/protégé. The former Vice President told “Fox News Sunday” on Aug. 30, 2009, that he was isolated among Bush advisers in his enthusiasm for war with Iran.

This Time It’s Different

Before Wednesday, when Defense Minister Barak promised no imminent Israeli attack on Iran, the unholy alliance between Israeli hawks and American neoconservatives was exuding confidence that they would prevail in Washington – and also in Tel Aviv – in pressing for war with Iran.

Yet, this alliance faced two key obstacles that weren’t there when a similar coalition successfully pushed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This time, the White House and other key elements of the U.S. national security apparatus are dead set against attacking Iran or provoking an Iranian attack. They have apparently now made that clear, in unmistakable terms, to Israeli leaders.

And this time, U.S. intelligence has not been “fixed around the policy.” CIA analysts have not been badgered into falsifying their assessments to please higher-ups.

To disrupt what had appeared to be an unstoppable march toward war with Iran, gaining momentum in December and early January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta intervened with his own rendition of “Let me be clear.”

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Jan. 8, and apparently unsure whether host Bob Schieffer would have the courage to ask the $64 question, Panetta decided to ask it himself rhetorically: “Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Yet, in a highly illustrative example of media hypersensitivity on this issue, PBS was not even willing to let the Defense Secretary’s comment reach the ears of the network’s listeners. Its “NewsHour” program deleted Panetta’s emphatic “no” and played only his subsequent comment:

“But we know that they are trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

Got that? Panetta said Iran is not trying to develop a nuclear weapon, but Iran better not develop a nuclear weapon because that’s a red line for us. Clearly, Panetta was trying to be all things to all people, but he had spoken emphatically to the key question of whether Iran was “trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

But Panetta’s declaration was so discordant from the anti-Iranian propaganda that has been pouring out of Washington’s elite opinion circles that PBS appears to have reflexively censored the Defense Secretary’s crucial assessment. After all, if Panetta was allowed to say that Iran was not working on a bomb, all the smart pundits who have been telling the American people the opposite would look rather stupid.

Israeli Reaction

The word “no” also didn’t sit well in Israel. There, it appears Israeli hardliners felt that some drastic measure might be needed to stop what was shaping up as a new initiative by the Obama administration to steer the looming crisis with Iran away from the cliff, or at least from the Strait of Hormuz. Israeli hardliners fretted that the U.S. and Iran might be interested in direct talks to defuse the rising tensions. So, what could done?

On Jan. 11, just three days after Panetta’s assertion that the Iranians were not trying to develop a nuclear weapon, assassins in Tehren attached a bomb to a car carrying Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, an Iranian scientist connected with Iran’s nuclear development program. The attack killed Roshan, making him the fifth such victim in the last couple of years.

Suspicion immediately focused on Israel, which has historically engaged in cross-border assassinations of people it considers a threat. Usually in these cases, Israel offers some ambiguous semi-denial. This time, however, Israeli officials mostly swaggered. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, posted a statement on Facebook, saying: “I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear.”

And a leak from the Israeli Parliament revealed that on Jan. 10, the day before the killing, Israeli Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that during 2012 Iran would see things happen to it “unnaturally,” a reference that Israeli defense and intelligence officials understood to mean covert actions against Iran’s nuclear program.

For months now, Israeli officials have spoken almost giddily of the “unnatural” setbacks that have plagued Iran’s nuclear program, including cyber-war attacks.  Israeli press reports termed Gantz’s testimony “particularly prescient.”

Even usual apologists for Israeli violence, such as the New York Times, agreed that Israel was likely behind the “unnatural” death of Roshan. Time magazine was even more direct, citing “Western intelligence officials” in a report that said: “Like three previous Iranian scientists ambushed on their morning commute, the latest nuclear expert to die on his way to work was a victim of Israel’s Mossad.”

The Obama administration clearly was not amused by the assassination. The White House and State Department issued unusually prompt and strong denials of U.S. complicity. Panetta went so far as to say, “We have some ideas as to who might be involved.  But we don’t know exactly …”

On Jan. 12, President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House took the unusual step of releasing a photo of Obama on the phone with Netanyahu. Though the White House did not disclose the details of the conversation, the Obama administration soon signaled not only its displeasure with the murder of Roshan but annoyance over what appeared to be an Israeli strategy to ratchet up tensions with Iran.

Obama’s call was followed by the strongest and most tangible move since Panetta’s statement on Face the Nation.  Three days after the killing of Roshan, large-scale joint U.S.-Israeli military exercises planned for this spring were abruptly postponed, without any cogent explanation.

Amid all this, what has become clearer and clearer is that Israel’s chief objective vis-à-vis Iran is not so much thwarting a possible Iranian effort to obtain a nuclear weapon, but rather what we old-timers at the CIA used to call “government overthrow” — the current sobriquet being “regime change.”

Arguably, if the Israelis were genuinely interested in ending or limiting Iran’s nuclear program, they would probably not continue doing all they can to sabotage diplomatic efforts toward that end. A stroll down memory lane may be instructive.

Blowing Up Peace

On Oct. 1, 2009, Tehran shocked virtually everyone by agreeing to a proposal to send most (as much as 75 percent) of its low-enriched uranium abroad to be turned into fuel for a small reactor that produces medical isotopes. (To state what may be obvious, one needs low-enriched uranium before one can refine it to levels needed for medical research and then even higher to weapons-grade.)

In Geneva, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, gave Tehran’s agreement “in principle” to the swap plan to representatives of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. The meeting was chaired by Javier Solana of the European Union. Reversing the Bush administration’s allergy to talking with “bad guys,” Obama had sent Under Secretary of State William Burns to the Geneva meeting.

A 45-minute tête-à-tête between Burns and Jalili marked the highest-level U.S.-Iranian talks in three decades. It was agreed that swap talks would resume on Oct. 19 in Vienna. Jalili also expressed Iran’s agreement to open the newly revealed uranium enrichment plant near Qum to international inspection within two weeks, which Tehran did.

Even the New York Times, which has been one of the most strident media voices against Iran, was forced to acknowledge that “if it happens, [the swap] would represent a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapons quickly, and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit.”

It was at this hopeful moment when – on Oct. 18, 2009 – Jundallah, a terrorist organization supported by the Israeli Mossad and other intelligence agencies, detonated a car bomb in southeastern Iran ripping apart a meeting of top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders and tribal leaders. Jundallah also mounted a roadside attack on a car full of Guards in the same area.

Killed in the attacks were a brigadier general who was deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces; the Revolutionary Guards brigadier commanding Sistan-Baluchistan; and three other brigade commanders. Dozens of other military officers and civilians were left dead or wounded.

Jundallah took credit for the bombings, which followed years of lethal attacks on Revolutionary Guards, policemen and other Iranian officials, including an attempted ambush of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade as he drove through the area in 2005.

The Oct. 18 attack was the bloodiest in Iran since the 1980-88 war with Iraq. It was a safe bet the Revolutionary Guards leaders went to their patron, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, with telling evidence that the West cannot be trusted.

The attack also came one day before talks were to resume at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to follow up on the Oct. 1 breakthrough.  The timing of Jundallah’s bombings strongly suggested that the attacks were designed to scuttle those talks.

So, instead of progress on getting Iran to surrender much of its low-enriched uranium, Khamenei issued an angry statement on Oct. 19 condemning the terrorists, who he said “are supported by certain arrogant powers’ spy agencies.”

Iran dispatched a lower-level Iranian technical delegation to Vienna for the Oct. 19 meeting, not Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, who stayed away as the Iranians began to raise objections that foreshadowed backsliding on their earlier willingness to part with as much as three-quarters of their low-enriched uranium.

Half a Loaf

In 2010, Brazil and Turkey tried to resurrect this deal with a new overture that was privately encouraged by President Obama. The Brazil-Turkey initiative soon won acceptance in Tehran.

On May 17, 2010, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced success in persuading Iran to send some of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched uranium that would be put to peaceful medical uses.

Lula da Silva, in particular, had become very concerned that, without some quick and smart diplomacy, Israel was likely to follow up a series of escalating sanctions by attacking Iran. Mincing no words, da Silva said: “We can’t allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East.”

The two leaders secured an agreement on the same quantity of low-enriched uranium that had been envisioned in the Oct. 1 talks. Tehran agreed to exchange that amount for nuclear rods that would have no applicability for a weapon, but the quantity now represented about half of Iran’s supply because more had been produced in the intervening months.

Rather than embrace this Iranian concession as at least a step in the right direction, American neocons launched a political/media offensive to torpedo the deal. Though Obama had sent a private letter encouraging the leaders of Brazil and Turkey to undertake the swap negotiations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends moved quickly to sink it. Instead, they pressed for harsher and harsher sanctions.

The Fawning Corporate Media, particularly the editorial sections of the Washington Post and the New York Times, did their part by insisting that the deal was just another Iranian trick that would leave Iran with enough uranium to theoretically create one nuclear bomb.

Focus Instead on Sanctions

With the swap deal scuttled, a perturbed Lula da Silva released the text of Obama’s encouraging letter, but Obama still acquiesced to Clinton’s demands for tougher economic sanctions against Iran. On May 18, 2010, Official Washington – and especially the neocons – had something to cheer about.

“We have reached agreement on a strong draft [sanctions resolution] with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Secretary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, making clear that she viewed the timing of the sanctions as a riposte to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement. “This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” she declared.

In the ensuing months, the propaganda drumbeat against Iran grew steadily louder, with dubious allegations about Iran plotting an assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington and the IAEA, under new pro-U.S.-Israeli leadership, issuing an alarmist report about Iran’s purported nuclear progress.

Congress also enacted even more draconian sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s banking system and preventing it from selling oil, Iran’s principal source of income. Obama arranged to have waivers inserted in the sanctions legislation, meaning he can hold off imposing penalties if he feels that’s needed to protect the U.S. economy or national security.

Obama also appears to have reengaged in efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Gen. Dempsey’s Arrival

So, that’s the backdrop for Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s talks in Israel with his counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and other senior officials, beginning Thursday evening.

Given the preparatory work and Haaretz’s report that Israeli intelligence agrees that Iran has yet to decide about building a nuclear bomb, Israel may not challenge Dempsey’s expected efforts to tamp down tensions.

The Haaretz article states: “The intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Dempsey indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb. The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.”

But Dempsey’s visit bears close watching to see if the alteration in Israeli rhetoric is durable and reflected on the ground. In the past, Israel’s Likud leaders have played hardball with American leaders, often by enlisting the help of their influential allies in the United States. If “regime change” remains the real priority, then Israeli leaders won’t be likely to warm to the idea of negotiating over Iran’s nuclear program.

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Libya test run of new NATO scenario – Primakov

Global Research, January 13, 2012
Stop NATO
Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov believes the removal of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was a test run of a new NATO scenario to change regimes using loosely-worded resolutions of the UN Security Council.Speaking in Moscow Friday, he said Russia and China would never fall into this trap again and would not allow NATO to act out the Libyan scenario in Syria.NATO Incorporates Libyan Experience For Global War Template
Stop NATO, June 18, 2011
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/nato-incorporates-libyan-experience-for-global-war-template/Africa: Battleground For NATO’s 21st Century Strategic Concept
Stop NATO, May 20, 2011
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/africa-battleground-for-natos-21st-century-strategic-concept/

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Is a World War III Scenario Unfolding?

24 octombrie 2011 2 comentarii

By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research

With the killing of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi this past week, NATO is celebrating what, in their view, is a great victory. However, this so-called “victory” has nothing to do with democracy, freedom or justice; it is part of a broad, insidious geopolitical strategy that has been on NATO’s drawing board for years. And what is even more frightening than the bloodlust being shamelessly splashed across the mainstream media is the fact that this latest manoeuver is merely a small part of a much wider military agenda with potentially catastrophic consequences.

In his latest e-book, “Towards a World War III Scenario“, Prof. Michel Chossudovsky outlines the strategies and real motives behind the war on Libya, what we can expect next from NATO (the world’s deadly “humanitarian” force), and the necessary steps for dispelling disinformation and preventing war on an unprecedented scale.

The object of this e-book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

The following extracts by Prof. Chossudovsky reveal several key issues facing humanity today. (The full version of “Towards a World War III Scenario” is available to purchase from Global Research in convenient PDF format.)

Towards a World War III Scenario

The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which until recently consisted of three distinct areas of conflict: Afghanistan and Pakistan (the AfPak War), Iraq, Palestine.

These four war theaters are interrelated. They are part of a broader region of conflict, which extends from North Africa and the Middle East, engulfing a large part of the Mediterranean basin, to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan, and Northern Pakistan.

The Battle for Oil

More than 60 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves lie in Muslim lands. “The Battle for Oil” waged by the US-NATO-Israel military alliance requires the demonization of the inhabitants of those countries which possess these vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

Iran possesses ten percent of global oil and gas reserves. The US is the first and foremost military and nuclear power in the world, but it possesses less than two percent of global oil and gas reserves.

The US-led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region.

Demonization is applied to an enemy which possesses three-quarters of the world’s oil reserves. “Axis of evil”, “rogue states”, “failed nations”, “Islamic terrorists”: demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America’s “war on terror”. They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. The oil fields are encircled by NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN “peacekeeping” operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea deployed as part of the “war on terrorism”.

The ultimate objective, combining military action, covert intelligence operations and war propaganda, is to break down the national fabric and transform sovereign countries into open economic territories, where natural resources can be plundered and confiscated under “free market” supervision. This control also extends to strategic oil and gas pipeline corridors (e.g. Afghanistan).

Demonization is a psy-op, used to sway public opinion and build a consensus in favor of war. Psychological warfare is directly sponsored by the Pentagon and the US intelligence apparatus. It is not limited to assassinating or executing the rulers of Muslim countries; it extends to entire populations. It also targets Muslims in Western Europe and North America. It purports to break national consciousness and the ability to resist the invader. It denigrates Islam. It creates social divisions. It is intended to divide national societies and ultimately trigger “civil war”.

Is a World War III Scenario Unfolding?

The US and its NATO allies are preparing to launch a nuclear war directed against both Iran and North Korea with devastating consequences. This military adventure in the real sense of the word threatens the future of humanity. While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

It is not Iran and North Korea which are a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel.

Humanity is at a dangerous crossroads. War preparations to attack Iran are in an advanced state of readiness. Hi-tech weapons systems including nuclear warheads are fully deployed.

This military adventure has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s: first Iraq, then Iran, according to a declassified 1995 US Central Command document.

Escalation is part of the military agenda. While Iran is the next target together with Syria and Lebanon, this strategic military deployment also threatens North Korea, China and Russia.

The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War

In chorus, the Western media has branded Iran as a threat to global security in view of its alleged (non-existent) nuclear weapons program. Echoing official statements, the media is now demanding the implementation of punitive bombings directed against Iran so as to safeguard Israel’s security.

The Western media is beating the drums of war. The purpose is to tacitly instill, through repeated media reports, ad nauseam, within people’s inner consciousness, the notion that the Iranian threat is real and that the Islamic Republic should be “taken out”. A consensus-building process to wage war is similar to the Spanish Inquisition. It requires and demands submission to the notion that war is a humanitarian endeavor.

Known and documented, the real threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel alliance, yet realities in an inquisitorial environment are turned upside down: the warmongers are committed to peace, the victims of war are presented as the protagonists of war.

Reversing the Tide of War

A good-versus-evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims.

Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

When a US-sponsored nuclear war becomes an “instrument of peace”, condoned and accepted by the world’s institutions and the highest authority including the United Nations, there is no turning back: human society has indelibly been precipitated headlong onto the path of self-destruction.

The main factor which could prevent this war from occurring comes from the base of society, requiring forceful antiwar action by hundreds of millions of people across the land, nationally and internationally.

People must mobilize not only against this diabolical military agenda, the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a nuclear war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network which challenges the structures of power and authority.

What is required is a mass movement of people which forcefully challenges the legitimacy of war and the New World Order, a global people’s movement which criminalizes war.

To reverse the tide, the spreading of information at all levels which counteracts the propaganda campaign is required.

The truth undermines and overshadows the lie.

Once this truth becomes fully understood, the legitimacy of the rulers will collapse like a deck of cards.

This is what has to be achieved. But we can only achieve it by effectively counteracting the official propaganda campaign. This initiative requires the spreading of information in an extensive grassroots network, with a view to weakening and ultimately disabling the administration’s propaganda machine.

When the lies – including those concerning September 11 – are fully revealed and understood by everybody, the legitimacy of the US-NATO-Israel military agenda will be broken.

What Has To Be Achieved

Reveal the criminal nature of this military project.

Break once and for all the lies and falsehoods which sustain the “political consensus” in favor of a pre-emptive nuclear war.

Undermine war propaganda, reveal the media lies, reverse the tide of disinformation, wage a consistent campaign against the corporate media.

Break the legitimacy of the warmongers in high office.

Dismantle the US-sponsored military adventure and its corporate sponsors.

Bring home the troops.

Repeal the illusion that the state is committed to protecting its citizens.

Expose the “fake crises”, such as the global flu pandemic, as a means to distract public opinion away from the dangers of a global war.

Uphold 9/11 Truth. Reveal the falsehoods behind 9/11 which are used to justify the Middle East/Central Asian war under the banner of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

Expose how a profit-driven war serves the vested interests of the banks, the defense contractors, the oil giants, the media giants and the biotech conglomerates.

Challenge the corporate media which deliberately obfuscates the causes and consequences of this war.

Reveal and take cognizance of the unspoken and tragic outcome of a war waged with nuclear weapons.

Call for the Dismantling of NATO.

Implement the prosecution of war criminals in high office.

Close down the weapons assembly plants and implement the foreclosure of major weapons producers.

Close down all US military bases in the US and around the world.

Develop an antiwar movement within the armed forces and establish bridges between the armed forces and the civilian antiwar movement.

Forcefully pressure governments of both NATO and non-NATO countries to withdraw from the US-led global military agenda.

Develop a consistent antiwar movement in Israel. Inform the citizens of Israel of the likely consequences of a US-NATO-Israeli attack on Iran.

Target the pro-war lobby groups including the pro-Israeli groups in the US.

Dismantle the homeland security state, call for the repeal of the PATRIOT legislation.

The World is at the Crossroads of the Most Serious Crisis in Modern History

The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

####

To purchase the full-text version of “Towards a World War III Scenario” by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, visit theONLINE STORE.

“Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” by Michel Chossudovsky
E-Book Series No. 1.0
Global Research Publishers
Montreal, 2011
ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9
76 pages (8.5×11)
Tables, color photographs, maps, text boxes.
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DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE

A New War Theater in North Africa
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Nuclear Weapons against Libya? How Real is the Threat?
America’s Long War: The Global Military Agenda
How to Reverse the Tide of War
World War III Scenario
Acknowledgments

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION

The Cult of Killing and Destruction
America’s Mini-nukes
War and the Economic Crisis
Real versus Fake Crises

CHAPTER II: THE DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR

Hiroshima Day 2003: Secret Meeting at Strategic Command Headquarters
The Privatization of Nuclear War: US Military Contractors Set the Stage
9/11 Military Doctrine: Nuclear Weapons and the “Global War on Terrorism”
Al Qaeda: “Upcoming Nuclear Power”
Obama’s Nuclear Doctrine: The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review
Post 9/11 Nuclear Doctrine
“Defensive” and “Offensive” Actions
“Integration” of Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Plans
Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO)
Planned Aerial Attacks on Iran
Global Warfare: The Role of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization
Israel’s Stockpiling of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons
The Role of Western Europe
Germany: De Facto Nuclear Power
Pre-emptive Nuclear War: NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept
The World is at a Critical Crossroads

CHAPTER III: AMERICA’S HOLY CRUSADE AND THE BATTLE FOR OIL

America’s Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East
“Homegrown Terrorists”
The American Inquisition
Washington’s Extrajudicial Assassination Program
The Battle for Oil
The Oil Lies in Muslim Lands
Globalization and the Conquest of the World’s Energy Resources

CHAPTER IV: PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR THREE

Media Disinformation
A “Pre-emptive” Aerial Attack Directed Against Iran would Lead to Escalation
Global Warfare
US “Military Aid”
The Timetable of Military Stockpiling and Deployment
World War III Scenario
The United Nations Security Council
The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War

CHAPTER V: TARGETING IRAN WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Building a Pretext for a Pre-emptive Nuclear Attack
“Theater Iran Near Term”
The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”
Simulated Scenarios of a Global War: The Vigilant Shield 07 War Games
The Role of Israel
Cheney: “Israel Might Do it Without Being Asked”
US Israel Military Coordination
Tactical Nuclear Weapons directed against Iran
Radioactive Fallout
“The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used Against Iran
Extensive Destruction of Iran’s Infrastructure
State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”
Electromagnetic Weapons
Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long Range Missiles
Iran’s Ground Forces
US Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran

CHAPTER VI: REVERSING THE TIDE OF WAR

Revealing the Lie
The Existing Anti-War Movement
Manufacturing Dissent
Jus ad Bellum: 9/11 and the Invasions of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan
Fake Antiwar Activism: Heralding Iran as a Nuclear Threat
The Road Ahead
The Antiwar Movement within the State Structure and the Military
Abandon the Battlefield: Refuse to Fight
The Broader Peace Process
What has to be Achieved

>

Beating the Drums of War: Provoking Iran into “Firing the First Shot”?
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, January 14, 2012
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[Author’s Note: SAY NO TO WAR ON IRAN, Spread the word, forward this article, post it on Facebook. Our objective at Global Research is to curb the flow of media disinformation, reverse the tide of war and restore World peace.]

Introduction

While the possibility of a war with Iran is acknowledged in US news reports, its regional and global implications are barely analyzed.

Very few people in America are aware or informed regarding the devastation and massive loss of life which would occur in the case of a US-Israeli sponsored attack on Iran.

The media is involved in a deliberate process of camouflage and distortion.

War preparations under a “Global Strike” Concept, centralized and coordinated by US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) are not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities. 

The “Globalization of War” involving the hegemonic deployment of a formidable US-NATO military force in all major regions of the World is inconsequential in the eyes of the Western media.  

The broader implications of this war are either trivialized or not mentioned. People are led to believe that war is part of a “humanitarian mandate” and that both Iran as well as Iran’s allies, namely China and Russia, constitute an unrelenting  threat to global security and “Western democracy”. 

While the most advanced weapons system are used, America’s wars are never presented as “killing operations” resulting in extensive civilian casualties. 

While the incidence of “collateral damage” is acknowledged, US-led wars are heralded as an unquestionable instrument of “peace-making” and “democratization”.

This twisted notion that waging war is “a worthy cause”, becomes entrenched in the inner consciousness of millions of people. A  framework of “good versus evil” overshadows an understanding of the causes and devastating consequences of  war.

Within this mindset, realities as well as concepts are turned upside down. War becomes peace. The lie becomes the truth. The humanitarian mandate of the Pentagon and NATO cannot be challenged.

When “going after the bad guys”, in the words of president Obama, “no options can be taken off the table”.  An inquisitorial doctrine similar to that of the Spanish Inquisition, prevails. People are no longer allowed to think. 

Iran is a country of close to 80 million people. It constitutes a major and significant regional military and economic power. It has ten percent of global oil and gas reserves, more than five times those of the United States of America.

The conquest of Iran’s oil riches is the driving force behind America’s military agenda. Iran’s oil and gas industry is the unspoken trophy of  the US led war, which  has been on the active drawing board of the Pentagon for the last nine years.

While the US is on a war footing, Iran has  –for more than ten years– been actively developing its military capabilities in the eventuality of a US sponsored attack.

If hostilities were to break out between Iran and the Western military alliance, this could trigger a regional war extending from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border, potentially leading humanity into the realm of a World War III scenario.

The Russian government, in a recent statement, has warned the US and NATO  that “should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security.” What this signifies is that Russia is Iran’s military ally and that Russia will act militarily if Iran is attacked. 

Military Deployment

Iran is the target of US-Israel-NATO war plans.

Advanced weapons systems have been deployed.

US and allied Special Forces as well as intelligence operatives are already on the ground inside Iran. US military drones are involved in spying and reconnaissance activities.

Bunker buster B61 tactical nuclear weapons are slated to be used against Iran in retaliation for its alleged nuclear weapons program. Ironically, in the words of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Iran does not possess a nuclear weapons program. “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

The risk of armed hostilities between the US-Israel led coalition and Iran is, according to Israeli military analysts “dangerously close”.

There has been a massive deployment of troops which have been dispatched to the Middle East, not to mention the redeployment of US and allied troops previously stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nine thousand US troops have been dispatched to Israel to participate in what is described by the Israeli press as the largest joint air defense war exercise in Israeli history, The drill, called “Austere Challenge 12,” is scheduled to take place within the next few weeks Its stated purpose “is to test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems, especially the “Arrow” system, which the country specifically developed with help from the US to intercept Iranian missiles.”

Reports also suggest a substantial increase in the number of reservists who are being deployed to the Middle East. Reports confirm that reservist US Air Force personnel have been dispatched to military bases in South West Asia (Persian Gulf). From Minnesota more than 120 Airmen including pilots, navigators, mechanics, etc. departed for the Middle East on January 8.  Reservist US air force personnel from bases in North Carolina and Georgia “expect to deploy with their units in coming months“. (See fayobserver.com December 18, 2011)

Reserve units from the US Coastguard have also been dispatched to the Middle East.(Coast Guard Reservists Head to Middle East military.com, January 5, 2012)

From these local reports, however, it is impossible to establish the overall (net) increase of US reservists from different divisions of the US military, who have been assigned to “operation Iran war”.

Army reservists from the UK are also been sent to the Middle East.

US Troops to Israel and the Persian Gulf

Israel has become a de facto US military outpost. US and Israeli command structures are being integrated, with close consultations between the Pentagon and Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

A large number of US troops will be stationed in Israel once the war games are completed.  The assumption of this military deployment is the staging of a joint US-Israeli air attack on Iran. Military escalation towards a regional war is part of the military scenario:

Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week. … many would be staying up to the end of the year as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. They will be joined by a US aircraft carrier. The warplanes on its decks will fly missions with Israeli Air Force jets. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers.

Tehran too is walking a taut tightrope. It is staging military’s maneuvers every few days to assuring the Iranian people that its leaders are fully prepared to defend the country against an American or Israeli strike on its national nuclear program. By this stratagem, Iran’s ground, sea and air forces are maintained constantly at top war readiness to thwart any surprise attack.

The joint US-Israeli drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets, according to the official communiqué. (DEBKAfile, January 6, 2012)

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has dispatched some 15,000 US troops in Kuwait. These consist of two Army infantry brigades and a helicopter unit. Moreover, the US Navy is retaining two aircraft carriers with their respective strike groups on standby in the Arabian sea, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS John Stennis. (Debka, January 13, 2012).

An impressive deployment of troops and advanced military hardware is unfolding.

In recent developments, a third aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, is heading towards the Arabian Sea. Britain’s Royal Navy has dispatched her newest and most advanced warship, Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring, “which has a “stealth” design to help avoid detection by radar”. France has sent its Charles de Gaulleaircraft carrier.

The Western media has barely mentioned these deployments of troops and military hardware: “The latest deployment [of US troops to Kuwait], which was ushered in without much presentation to the public, adds a huge number of troops aligned with America’s arsenal that are now surrounding Iran on literally every front” (Russia Today, US Stations 15,000 troops to Kuwait, January 13, 2012, emphasis added).

Is this massive deployment of US troops to Israel and the Gulf States related to the withdrawal and redeployment of US troops previously stationed in Iraq? The troops stationed in Kuwait will operate under the auspices of US Central Command

File:HMS Daring-1.jpg
Britain’s HMS Daring


Charles de Gaulleaircraft carrier

War Games

US-Israel Missile defense and naval war games are being conducted simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced that it will be conducting its own war games in the Persian Gulf in February.

Meanwhile, The Islamic Republic of Iran is also on a war footing. Iran’s Armed Forces is in an advanced stage of preparedness to defend the country’s borders as well as retaliate against a US-Israel led attack. Iran has completed a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz in December. It has now announced  that it is planning new naval drills codenamed “The Great Prophet”, which are slated to take place in February.

Iran’s December war games involved the test firing of two long range missiles systems, including the Qadar (a powerful sea-to-shore missile) and the Nour surface-to-surface missile. “According to Iranian state news, the Nour is an ‘advanced radar-evading, target-seeking, guided and controlled missile’.” (See The Pentagon to Send US Troops to Israel. Iran is the Unspoken Target, Global Research, January 4, 20122 

“Additionally, the Iranian military reportedly test-fired numerous other short, medium and long-range missiles…. Iranian authorities reported that they test-fired the medium-range, surface-to-air, radar-evading Mehrab missile.” (Ibid)

Iranian Missile Tests

The crucial question: Is the Pentagon seeking to deliberately trigger a military confrontation in the Persian Gulf with a view to providing a pretext and a justification to waging an all out war on the Islamic Republic of Iran?

US military strategists admit that the US Navy would be at disadvantage in relation to Iranian forces in the narrow corridor of the Strait of Hormuz:

“Despite its might and shear strength, geography literally works against U.S. naval power in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The relative narrowness of the Persian Gulf makes it like a channel, at least in a strategic and military context. Figuratively speaking, the aircraft carriers and warships of the U.S. are confined to narrow waters or are closed in within the coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. … Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf?, Global Research,  January 8, 2012)

Triggering a War Pretext Incident: Provoking Iran to “Throw the First Punch”

Is the Obama administration prepared to sacrifice one or more vessels of the Fifth Fleet, resulting in extensive casualties among soldiers and sailors, with a view to mustering public support for a war on Iran on the grounds of self-defense?

As documented by Richard Sanders, the strategy of triggering a war pretext incident has been used throughout American military history.

“Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going to war is a major first step in constructing public support for such deadly ventures. Perhaps the most common pretext for war is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. Such attacks, however, are often fabricated, incited or deliberately allowed to occur. They are then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers and build mass support for military “retaliation.”

Like schoolyard bullies who shout ‘He hit me first!’, war planners know that it is irrelevant whether the opponent really did ‘throw the first punch.’ As long as it can be made to appear that the attack was unprovoked, the bully receives license to ‘respond’ with force. Bullies and war planners are experts at taunting, teasing and threatening their opponents. If the enemy cannot be goaded into ‘firing the first shot,’ it is easy enough to lie about what happened. Sometimes, that is sufficient to rationalize a schoolyard beating or a genocidal war.

Such trickery has probably been employed by every military power throughout history. During the Roman empire, “the cause for war” — casus belli — was often invented to conceal the real reasons for war. Over the millennia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent. (See How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents. Global research, January 9, 2012)

Pearl Harbor stands out as the casus belli, the pretext and justification for America’s entry into World War II.

President Roosevelt knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked by Japan and did nothing to prevent it. At a November 25 1941 meeting of FDR’s war council, “Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s notes speak of the prevailing consensus:  ‘The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into … firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’” (See Patrick Buchanan,  Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor? Global Research, December 7, 2011).

In the wake of the attack, America was beating the drums of war, while also concealing the fact that “the FDR administration knew, but failed to act”.

“A massive cover-up followed Pearl Harbor a few days later, … when the Chief of Staff ordered a lid put on the affair. ‘Gentlemen,’ he told half a dozen officers, ‘this goes to the grave with us.'” (John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath, Doubleday, 1982, p. 321). 

According to Professor Francis Boyle with reference to the ongoing showdown between the US Navy and Iran in the Persian Gulf: “Once again, it looks to me like what FDR did in 1941 when he sacrificed the Pacific Fleet and its men at Pearl Harbor—except for the carriers—in order to get the USA into World War II despite the fervent desire of the American People and Congress to stay out. Déjà vu all over again. Back to the Future “ (Francis Boyle, January 13, 2011, email communication to author)

In contrast to the events of November 1941, the US Congress in 2012 is broadly supportive of waging a war on Iran and the American people are, as a result of media disinformation, largely unaware of the devastating implications of a US-Israeli attack.  .

Thematic Justifications: Demonizing the Enemy

Apart from the “incident” whereby the enemy is incited to “throw the first punch”, “thematic justifications” are used to demonize the enemy and justify a casus belli. WMD and regime change in the case of Iraq (2003), support to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks in the case of Afghanistan (2001), “regime change” and “democratization” as in the cases of Yugoslavia (1999) and Libya (2011).

The thematic justifications to wage war on Iran include the following:

1. Iran is accused of developing a nuclear weapons program,  2. Iran is a “Rogue State” which defies the “international community” and constitutes a threat to the Western World, 3. Iran wants “to wipe Israel off the map”, 4. Iran is responsible for supporting and abetting the 9/11 terrorist attacks,  5. Iran is an authoritarian and undemocratic country thereby justifying a “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) intervention with a view to instating democracy.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States

In case of a war with Iran, NATO member states as well as NATO partners of the “Mediterranean Dialogue” including the Five GCC Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan would be involved.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have a formidable weapons arsenal  of F-15 combat planes, patriot missiles, Apache helicopters and warships (Made in America), which would be used against Iran on behalf of the US led coalition. (see The Gulf  Military Balance in 2010: An Overview | Center for Strategic and International Studies)

The US has more than 30 military bases and facilities including its naval base in Bahrain, US Central command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Qatar, not to mention its military installations in Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan (see maps)

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

* US military base or facility surrounding Iran

From Washington’s standpoint, Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Force is meant to act as a proxy for the USAF, operating on the principle of “interoperability”.

Saudi Arabia’s Air Force is equipped with the most advanced combat planes including (among others) the Eurofighter Typhoons, Tornado IDS, F-15 and F-15E Eagle fighters.

In October 2010, Washington announced its largest arms sale in US history, a $60.5 billion purchase by Saudi Arabia. These weapons although acquired by Saudi Arabia are de facto part of a US sponsored weapons arsenal, which is to be used in close coordination and consultation with the Pentagon. Large arms sales were also negotiated in 2010 with the Gulf States.

It should, nonetheless, be emphasised that there is reluctance within the ruling Saudi and Gulf States elites, to actively participating in a regional war, which would inevitably lead to Iranian retaliatory aerial attacks.

Escalation: Towards a Broader Regional War

If aerial attacks were to be launched, Iran would retaliate with missile attacks directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran has an advanced Russian S 300 air defense system. It is equipped with medium and long range missile capabilities: The Shahab 3 and Sejjil missiles have a range of  approximately 2,000 km, enabling them to strike targets in Israel. The Ghadr 1 has a range of 1,800 km. (See Haaretz, September 28, 2009)

The war with Iran would not be limited to aerial bombardments. A land war could follow with Turkey playing a strategic military role on behalf of the US-Israel led coalition.

Turkey’s ground forces are of the order of 500,000. Iran’s are of a similar order of magnitude: 465,000 regular forces. Turkish forces would be deployed in border areas with Iran as well as in Northern Syria.

Iran’s Air Force and Navy personnel are respectively of the order of 52,000 and 28,000. (see Table below)

The Revolutionary Guards, which constitute Iran’s elite forces, are of the order of 120,000. Moreover, Iran has a significant paramilitary force of several million men and women called the Basij.

The war would also overflow into Syria (which is an ally of Iran), Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan involving the participation of  Syrian ground forces as well as Hezbollah, which effectively repealed Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon. In recent developments, Iran has increased its military aid to Syria and Lebanon.

In turn, Russia has a naval base in Southern Syria and military cooperation agreements with both Syria and Iran, involving the presence of Russian military advisers.

Russia is deploying warships out of its naval base in Tartus including aircraft carrying missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. “The deployment … follows the US move to station the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group” off the Syrian coastline. (See M. K. Badrakumar, Russia deploying warships in Syria – Indian Punchline, November 21, 2011)


Russia’s Naval base in Tartus, Syria

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier


Su 33 take-off from aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Eastern Mediterranean

UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (June 2010) had imposed a sanctions regime on Iran which was conducive to a temporary freeze in military cooperation between Iran and Russia, as well as with China. In recent developments, it would appear that military cooperation has de facto resumed following the rebuff by both China and Russia of the December 31, 2011 economic sanctions regime imposed by Washington.

In a scenario of military escalation, Iranian troops and/or Special Forces would cross the border into Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the three existing war theaters: Afghanistan -Pakistan (Af-Pak), Iraq, Palestine, the onslaught of a war on Iran would lead to an integrated regional war.

The entire Middle East-Central Asian region extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan and Pakistan would flare up, from the tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the Caspian Sea basin.

The Caucasus and Central Asia: Competing Military Alliances

What would be the involvement of America’s “partners” in the Caucasus, namely Georgia and Azerbaijan? (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Iran War Theater’s “Northern Front”: Azerbaijan and the US Sponsored War on Iran, Global Research, April 9, 2007).

In Azerbaijan, the government has recently distanced itself from Washington, and has turned down its participation in joint military exercises with the US.

The bilateral US-Azerbaijan strategic agreement is said to be stagnating:

“Baku’s desire to not to anger Moscow would seem to preclude any possibility of Azerbaijan hosting a US military facility….” (Azerbaijan: US Military Ties with Baku Are Stagnating – Experts | EurasiaNet.org, April 25, 2011).

In contrast, the Georgian government is directly supporting America’s war effort against Iran. In recent developments, the Pentagon is sponsoring the construction of makeshift US military hospitals in Georgia to be used in the eventuality of a war with Iran. ( Readies for War On Iran: US Builds Military Hospitals in Georgia, Global Research, January 10, 2012)

“These are 20-bed hospitals…It’s an American project. A big war between the US and Iran is beginning in the Persian Gulf. $5 billion was allocated for the construction of these 20-bed military hospitals,” Javelidze said in an interview with Georgian paper Kviris Kronika (News of the Week) … The construction is mainly paid from the American pocket. In addition, airports are being briskly built in Georgia… (Ibid)

What the military hospitals project conveys is that the Pentagon has already established detailed logistics pertaining to the transfer of wounded US servicemen from the Iran battlefield to nearby military hospitals in Georgia. These advanced preparations suggest that war plans are at a very advanced stage and that scenarios pertaining to military casualties have been established.

Military Alliances: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the CSTO

The countervailing military alliance to the US-NATO-Israel axis  is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the overlapping Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The SCO includes Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The SCO includes seven former Soviet republics including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  Iran has observer status in the SCO.

Uzbekistan withdrew from the NATO sponsored GUUAM military cooperation agreement. In 2005, it formally evicted the US from the Karshi-Khanabad air base, known as K2 (U.S. Evicted From Air Base In Uzbekistan, Washington Post, July 30, 2005).

Of significance, in the Kyrgyz Republic, the new elected President Almazbek Atambayev (November 2011) stated that he intends to close down the US military base at Manas when the lease expires. (Kyrgyzstan Says United States’ Manas Air Base Will Close – NYTimes.com, November, 1, 2011)

What these developments suggest is that the former Soviet republics of Central Asia have reaffirmed their relationship to Moscow, which in turn has led the consolidation of the SCO-CSTO military bloc.

Global US Military Hegemony. Russia and China

The participation of Russia and China on the side of Iran is already de facto in view of prevailing military cooperation agreements. the transfer of weapons systems and technology to Iran, as well as the presence of Russian military advisers, training personnel, in both Iran and Syria. Moreover, Iran has Observer status in the SCO

Russia and China are fully aware that a war on Iran is a stepping stone towards a broader war. Both countries are targeted by the US and NATO. Russia is threatened on its border with the European Union, with US-NATO AMD targetted at major Russian cities. With the exception of its Northern frontier, China is surrounded by US military bases, from the Korean peninsula to the South China Sea.

Both China and Russia are perceived by Washington as a “Global Threat”. China has been the target of veiled threats by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The recent National Defense Review announced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, envisages an expanded defense budget, with a view to containing Russia and China.

In recent development, Russia newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin has warned Washington and Brussels that “Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,”

Spiralling US Defense Spending: The  Pentagon’s “Big Dog” Ideology

Washington’s objective  is to establish global military dominance. While the “war on terrorism” and the containment of “rogue states” still constitute the official justification and driving force, China and Russia have been tagged in US military and National Security documents as potential enemies:

“… the U.S. military … is seeking to dissuade rising powers, such as China, from challenging U.S. military dominance.” (See Greg Jaffe, Rumsfeld details big military shift in new document, The Wall Street Journal, 11 March 2005)

How does Washington intend to reach its goal of global military hegemony?

Through spiralling defense spending and the continued growth of the US weapons industry, requiring a massive compression of all categories of government expenditure.

Implemented at   the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in American history, the ongoing increase in defense spending feeds this new undeclared arms race with China and Russia, with vast amounts of tax dollars channelled to America’s defense contractors.

“The stated objective is to make the process of developing advanced weapons systems “so expensive”, that no other power on earth including China and Russia will able to compete or challenge “the Big Dog”, without jeopardizing its civilian economy” Michel Chossudovsky, New Undeclared Arms Race:, Global Research, March 17, 2005)

This “Big Dog” ideology, a term coined by the Pentagon, is a precondition for the “Globalization of War”. It is a diabolical agenda of enhancing America’s killing machine by dismantling social programs and impoverishing people across the US.

“[A]t the core of this strategy is the belief that the US must maintain such a large lead in crucial [military] technologies that growing powers [ Russia, China, Iran] will conclude that it is too expensive for these countries to even think about trying to run with the big dog. They will realize that it is not worth sacrificing their economic growth, said one defense consultant who was hired to draft sections of the document.” (Greg Jaffe, Rumsfeld details big military shift in new document, The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2005)


Related Articles 

The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
– by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-01-31
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.
When War Games Go Live. Preparing to Attack Iran. “Simulating World War III”

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-01-08
With ongoing war games on both sides, armed hostilities between the US-Israel led coalition and Iran are, according to Israeli military analysts, “dangerously close”.
SYRIA: British Special Forces, CIA and MI6 Supporting Armed Insurgency. NATO Intervention Contemplated

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-01-07
THE WAR ON IRAN: The Deployment of Thousands of US Troops to Israel, The Integration of US-Israeli Command Structures

– by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-01-04

ANNEX

THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN: MILITARY CAPABILITIES

Total Population: 77,891,220 [2011]

Available Manpower: 46,247,556 [2011]

Fit for Military Service: 39,556,497 [2011]

Of Military Age: 1,392,483 [2011]

Active Military: 545,000 [2011]

Active Reserve: 650,000 [2011]

LAND ARMY

Total Land Weapons: 12,393

Tanks: 1,793 [2011]

Armoured Personnel Carrier/Infantry Fighting Vehicles (APC/IFV): 1,560 [2011]

Towed Artillery: 1,575 [2011]

SPGs: 865 [2011]

MLRSs: 200 [2011]

Mortars: 5,000 [2011]

Anti Tank (AT) Weapons: 1,400 [2011]

Anti-Aerial (AA) Weapons: 1,701 [2011]

Logistical Vehicles: 12,000

AIR POWER

Total Aircraft: 1,030 [2011]

Helicopters: 357 [2011]

Serviceable Airports: 319 [2011]

NAVAL POWER

Total Navy Ships: 261

Merchant Marine Strength: 74 [2011]

Major Ports & Terminals: 3 Aircraft Carriers: 0 [2011]

Destroyers: 3 [2011]

Submarines: 19 [2011]

Frigates: 5 [2011]

Patrol Craft: 198 [2011]

Mine Warfare Craft: 7 [2011]

Amphibious Assault Craft: 26 [2011]

SOURCES:

http://www.iraniandefence.com/iran-army/

and http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=Iran


Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism”(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). He has taught as Visiting Professor at universities in Western Europe, South East Asia, Latin America and the Pacific. He has acted as an adviser to governments of developing countries and has worked as a consultant for the several international organizations. Prof. Chossudovsky is a signatory of the Kuala Lumpur declaration to criminalize war and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.


NEW RELEASE: GLOBAL RESEARCH E-BOOK
Towards a World War III Scenario

by Michel Chossudovsky

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Russia: “Should Anything Happen to Iran … This Will Be a Direct Threat to Our National Security”

Russia and China Would Consider An Attack On Iran – Or Syria – As An Attack On Their National Security

RT notes:

The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a “scorching Arab Summer,” says Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former envoy to NATO.

­“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,” stressed Rogozin.

Here’s what Rogozin is talking about (notice how close the Southern tip of Russia is to Northern Iran):

China Iran Russia Russia: Should Anything Happen to Iran ... This Will Be a Direct Threat to Our National Security

A Chinese general has also allegedly said that China would launch World War III if Iran is attacked. And see this.

While many Americans still believe that our government would not be crazy enough to attack Iran, economic – not national security – considerations may be driving the warmongers.

In addition, Iran and Syria have had a mutual defense pact for years. And China and Russia might also defend Syria if it is attacked. So an attack on Syria could draw Iran into the war … followed by China and Russia.

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GlobalFirepower.com (GFP)
GFP provides a unique analytical display of data covering global military powers with statistics compiled through various sources. All manner of countries are considered in the ranking, a spectrum helping to produce a near-complete comparison of relative military strengths from across the globe. The user should note that nuclear capability is not taken into account for the final ranking for this listing is purely a “numbers game” meant to spark debate and including nuclear weapons would clearly defeat its purpose. Therefore GFP comparisons are for consideration in a conventional war based solely on each individual nation’s capabilities on land, at sea and through the air while including logistical and financial aspects when waging total war. Sources are stated whenever possible though some statistics are estimated if official numbers are not available.
Final Thoughts
It goes without saying that lists such can be completely subjective, though the GFP intention is to be wholly unbiased.

The final GFP rankings are based on a formula taking some 45 factors into account and compiling totals against each country, applying bonuses and penalties as needed to generate this list.

Country Ranks 1 through 30…
9
Map of Japan
29
Map of Spain
10
Map of Israel
20
Map of Ukraine
30
Map of Mexico

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IRAN: Is this what NATO has in store?

Christof Lehmann, James Fetzer and Joshua Blakeney

In “USA: Massive Transports of Military Equipment” (1),  Christof Lehmann, the first author, has reported the stunning videos taken by a Mr. Andrew Tuckman on 19 January 2012, who “began filming this after a dozen or so train cars went by on a stretch of track south of Santa Cruz California. Where are the military vehicles going? Why are they being shipped? What could this possibly be for? Barack Obama, what are you up to? We want answers….”

James Fetzer, the second author, contacted an associate with extensive military experience, who identified them as “woodland camouflage M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with a few HEMTT refueling trucks. They don’t appear to have been modernized since they would have been repainted TAN. They may be going to an exercise for the California National Guard–or worse going into STORAGE because the U.S. Army has gone STUPID and is pissing away its cross-country maneuver war-fighting powers in favor of foot-slogging victims with hand weapons from wheeled trucks, which are easily blown up by land mines on roads/trails.”

Christof replied that, “from a soldier’s perspective I can follow your reasoning, of course. There are some modifications I would like you to consider, however — which is based on what we are getting via Russian Intelligence Chatter — that the US is modifying its tank warfare tactics to adopt a kind of Blitzkrieg approach such as the Germans were using.(2) For that, of course, you need superior tanks and a vast quantity of armored vehicles – both tanks and armored personnel carriers with reasonable fighting ability. All that equipment is perfect for that.”

James asked, “Where do you and Russian intel believe they are going to be used?  I would not rule that out”, and he replied, “They didn´t indicate where, other than hinting that Syria and Iran were the probable targets.” According to a reliable source within the European NATO admiralty, moreover, it would not be entirely off target to state that NATO could use Libya as a staging area for an attack on Syria or Iran, where a confrontation with Iran probably would include the use of neutron weapons after the initial confrontational stages after initial “provocations” –no doubt, including a “false flag” attack– and an escalation by NATO, neutron weapons would be most likely used to take out both the Iranian Navy and Iran’s missile capabilities.

The second and third authors have written about the use of the USS Vincennes as an ideal “false flag” target because, on 3 July 1988, the Vincennes had shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all of the 290 civilian passengers on board, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.
This would be an ideal vessel for the staged provocation as it could be easily sold to the world as having been Iranian retribution for the 1988 downing of Flight 655, where the evident lack of motive for Iran to provoke the US and Israeli military titans would be replaced by the perceived goal of revenge. No one would stop to ask them-selves why Iran would thereby invite its own national annihilation. (3)

The latest intel I received was that the USS Vincennes, far from having been scrapped, was in the Mediterranean Sea and lobbing shells to test the “Iron Dome” the US has been constructing to save Israel from destruction when the waves of missiles are directed her way after an assault on Iran! As The New York Times (17 January 2012) has reported, the major joint US/Israeli op that had been planned has subsequently been canceled, where some have inferred that it was because they could no longer target the Vincennes. My latest info is that she has been replaced by the USS Enterprise, an aging nuclear-powered carrier that has suffered the effects of long-term radiation exposure to its steel and appears to be the replacement target of choice.

The use of a neutron weapon might initially seem implausible but, during a long interview with Christopher Busby, “New Bombs and War Crimes in Fallujah”, the second author learned that the epidemic of serious birth defects he was studying in Fallujah were not caused by exposure to depleted uranium, as everyone had up to that point expected, but by exposure to enriched uranium, which appears to have come from a new kind of neutron bomb, which may even have been used to convert the Twin Towers from 500,000 tons of steel and concrete into millions of cubic yards of very fine dust.  So we have evidence that the weapon to which the admiral referred does exist. (4)

Attacks on the nuclear energy plants in Iran—of which there appear to be as many as eighty (80) distributed across the country—has been estimated to bring about 1,000,000 deaths of Iranians outright, with another 35,000,000 premature deaths expected as the cloud of contamination sweeps across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. In “5 minutes to the self-immolation of the Israeli Empire”. (5)  As the author explains, the Zionists really sincerely believe Israel has the right to all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates River in Iraq. “They believe they have the right to destroy every Muslim nation that would say ‘No’ to Zionist insanity. Why should America suffer self-immolation because Israel thinks national suicide just like at Masada is a wonderful idea?”

American politicians appear to be following suit.  GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rich Santorum, for example, have called for a “first strike” against Iran, even though there is no hard evidence that Iran has any nuclear weapons or any intention of developing them.  They appear to be massively ignorant of history, since Iran has not attacked any other nation in 300 years. Not only that, but Iran has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allowed IAEA inspectors into its facilities.  Israel, by comparison, has 200-600 nuclear bombs, has not signed the NPT, and will not allow inspectors into its facilities.

Were either of these candidates successful in reaching the nation’s highest office, they would take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  But according to the Constitution, treaties have the same status under the law as the Constitution itself.  These candidates appear to be oblivious of the consideration that the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Peace Treaty of 1928, and even the UN Charter obligate the US to the peaceful resolution of disputes with other countries, where a “first strike” is only permissible in response to an “imminent threat”.  No one believes, even remotely, that Iran represents an imminent threat.  By endorsing a first strike, therefore, these candidates are demonstrating their willingness to violate the Constitution and the oath of office they would have sworn to uphold.

In the light of recent reports of the re-deployment of 12,000 US troops from Malta to Libya, reported in an article by Cynthia McKinney, ((6)) the ongoing covert war against Syria by NATO as well as against Iran, ((7))  the tense military situation between NATO countries, Syria, Iran, and (4) recent messages about Russian and Chinese military being on alert, (ibid.) we have considered it to be incumbent upon us to publish the videos of military equipment transportation and we ask for citizens of NATO countries to report any significant troops movements in any NATO country to nsnbc at this address:

nsnbc.wordpress(at)gmail.com

References:

1) USA: Massive Transports of Military Equipment. Christof Lehmann, nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/usa-massive-transports-of-military-equipment/

2) NATO prepares global war, Russian and Chinese military on highest alert. Christof Lehmann, nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/nato-prepares-global-war-russian-and-chinese-military-on-highest-alert/

3)IRAN: US/Israeli False Flag May Be Underway. Jamed H. Fetzer. Veteranstoday.  http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/01/14/iran-usisraeli-false-flag-attack-may-be-underway/

4)New Bombs and War Crimes in Fallujah. Fetzer, Moret, Busby. Veteranstoday.  http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/11/03/new-bombs-and-war-crimes-in-fallujah/

5) 5 Minutes to Self-Immolation of the Israeli Empire.  http://vidrebel.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/5-minutes-to-self-immolation-of-the-israeli-empire/

6) Why is President Obama sending 12.000 Troops to Libya. Cynthia McKinney. nsnbc.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/why-is-president-obama-sending-12-000-u-s-troops-to-libya/

7) Wider Middle-East War Imminent ? Christof Lehmann, nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/wider-middle-east-and-global-war-imminent/

8) ibid.

Authors:

Christof Lehmann established nsnbc as an alternative news-medium on 28 August 2011 to break corporate or state-controlled media’s embargo on truth.

James Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

Joshua Blakeney is a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge, member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Staff Writer at Veterans Today.

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Obama’s Iran choice

MJ Rosenberg
Sun 29 Jan 2012

Instead of choosing between war or sanctions, which would be a political lose-lose, the US president should negotiate.

Washington, DC – An article in Tuesday’s New York Times suggests that there is a method to the madness of the Republican presidential candidates’ hawkish rhetoric on Iran. I had thought that the reason all the Republican candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) are such noisy warmongers is because that is their natural proclivity – and because it pleases donors (such as Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich’s big campaign funder) who base their political choices on Binyamin Netanyahu’s desires.

But Times reporter Mark Landler suggests that one of the results of this year’s conveniently timed Iran crisis is to present President Barack Obama with a choice of two options, either of which the GOP could successfully exploit to defeat him in the election.

As Landler points out:

In late June, when the campaign is in full swing, Mr Obama will have to decide whether to take action against countries, including some staunch allies, if they continue to buy Iranian oil through its central bank.After fierce lobbying by the White House, which opposed this hardening in the sanctions that have been its main tool in pressuring Tehran, Congress agreed to modify the legislation to give Mr Obama leeway to delay action if he concludes the clampdown would disrupt the oil market. He may also invoke a waiver to exempt any country from sanctions based on national security considerations.

Under normal circumstances, a president’s decision to invoke a national security waiver on any foreign policy matter is hard to challenge. In this case, the president’s concern that imposing new sanctions would cause oil prices to soar (and disrupt economic recovery) would be good reason to pass on the latest congressional sanctions law.

But the political consequences of waiving could be dire.

Remember, the sanctions law in question is a creation of AIPAC and has been at the top of its agenda during this entire Congress. If Obama waives it, Netanyahu would use the media to make sure that his displeasure was known. The lobby, the Republican presidential candidate and even many of AIPAC’s Democratic cutouts on Capitol Hill would all scream bloody murder.

Senator Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois), perhaps the member of Congress closest to AIPAC, told the Times that he would not look kindly on a waiver – and neither would the lobby.

“The first waiver would trigger a whole lot of other waiver applications, potentially gutting the policy… The pro-Israel community would not want a gutting of the sanctions,” he said.

But what if Obama just takes the path of least political resistance and imposes the sanctions as AIPAC wants?

Then, oil prices rise.

According to the Times: “Already, Iran’s leaders are maneuvering to drive up oil prices, whether to signal that sanctions could bring repercussions, or to mitigate the effects of reduced sales. Iran’s threat to shut off the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes, sent prices soaring this month.”

The article also quoted Stuart Eizenstat, a former top official at the Treasury and State Department who helped devise our Iran policy during the Clinton administration. According to Eizenstat, “sanctions could harm the economy and his [Obama’s] re-election chances”.

In other words, Obama will likely be harmed politically no matter which way he goes on sanctions.

Of course, the sanctions issue is just a subset of the larger “war or no war” question. The same political forces that support “crippling” sanctions (which may cripple us, our allies and ordinary Iranian citizens more than the Iranian regime) also favour keeping the war option “on the table” in case our efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program fail.

As is the case with sanctions, there are two options. One is to go to war, a policy that would tear the country (and especially the Democratic Party) apart in an election year. The other is to try to negotiate an end to Iran’s nuclear program but, if that fails, simply accept an Iran with a nuclear capability and “contain” it. That is what we have done with North Korea and Pakistan and did for many decades with the Soviet Union. That course would infuriate the lobby.

Another political lose-lose.

Fortunately, there is a third course, which applies to both the sanctions and the war questions: we can negotiate.

Writing in The Atlantic, Robert Wright, a foreign policy expert, suggests a way out of the current deadlock would be to establish a nuclear-free Middle East:

The idea is that Israel and Iran would open themselves up to highly intrusive inspections – of their declared nuclear facilities and of any suspicious undeclared sites – and other nations in the region would agree to monitoring as well. As Israel became assured that there were no nuclear weapons programs afoot in the region, it would gradually reduce its nuclear stockpile until, years or even decades from now, it had no nuclear weapons – but could live secure in the knowledge that none of its adversaries had them either. (Israel might preserve “breakout capacity” – the ability to produce a nuke in a matter of months.)

Wright goes on to say that the main objection to this plan is the belief that Israel would never accept it. But according to a poll conducted by Israel’s Dahaf Institute (an equivalent of the Gallup organisation) and cited in a New York Timespiece by Steven Kull and Shibley Telhami, that is simply not true.

[W]hen asked whether it would be better for both Israel and Iran to have the bomb, or for neither to have it, 65 per cent of Israeli Jews said neither. And a remarkable 64 per cent favoured the idea of a nuclear-free zone, even when it was explained that this would mean Israel giving up its nuclear weapons. A clear majority also bought into the idea of opening Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear facilities to “a system of full international inspections”.

The same poll finds that only 43 per cent of Jewish Israelis support a military strike on Iran, although 90 per cent assume Iran will eventually develop the bomb.

The nuclear-free option is worth pursuing, as is every possible alternative to war. President Obama should start the process by reaching out to Iran quietly, with the single goal of avoiding war, reducing tensions and ending the threats and counter-threats. It is possible he is already doing that, although the White House (with an eye or two on AIPAC) is denying it.

One last point: Why is it relatively uncontroversial to negotiate with the Taliban – who harboured the terrorists who killed 3,000 US citizens on September 11, 2001, and who have terrorised millions of Afghans for decades – but the idea of talking to Iran is considered beyond the pale?

The answer should be obvious. AIPAC and its congressional cutouts go wild at the thought of negotiating with Iran (or Hamas, for that matter) but are relatively indifferent to the Taliban who, of course, are far from Israel.

So we can talk to the thugs of the Taliban to bring about some sort of settlement. But we can’t even consider talking to the government of Iran.

What a shameful way to conduct foreign policy.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network.

January 22, 2012,  Foreign Policy Matters

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The Israel lobby’s role in American politics

Stephen M. Walt
Sun 29 Jan 2012

While I was away, a friend sent me a link to an article from the online magazine Tablet, and asked me what I thought about it. The piece is by Adam Kirsch, and it’s basically a critical summary of the impact of my book (with John Mearsheimer) on the Israel lobby.   Kirsch was clearly moved to write the piece by Robert Kaplan’s laudatory profile of John in the Atlantic Monthly, which undoubtedly drove Kirsch and a number of our other critics crazy.

So what do I think?  On the one hand, I could be somewhat gratified by the piece, insofar as he describes the book as an “intellectual landmark, one of those rare books that succeed in altering the intellectual climate.”  But on the other hand, Kirsch clearly thinks we’ve altered that climate for the worse, and his discussion of our work is filled with falsehoods.   Like most of our other critics, Kirsch seems unable to address what we actually wrote.  So he invents a straw man version of our argument — in some cases accusing us of believing the exact opposite of what we actually said — and proceeds to lambaste it instead.

Consider his very first paragraph, which purports to offer a summary of our argument (my emphasis):

“What [The Israel Lobby] did not do, to judge by the reviews, was convince anyone of its central argument, that an all-powerful “Israel lobby” had hijacked American foreign policy using illegitimate means…”

There are two problems here. First, “to judge by the reviews” doesn’t tell you much about the book’s merits (or its flaws), insofar as almost all of the mainstream reviewers in the United States were acknowledged Zionists who were bound to be hostile to our point of view. Not surprisingly, most reviews outside the U.S. — including several in Israel itself — were favorable.

Second, and more importantly, Kirsch’s summary of our argument bears little or no resemblance to what we actually wrote. Indeed, he managed to pack three separate falsehoods into a single sentence, which is no small achievement. To wit:

1. He claims we said the lobby was “all-powerful.” In fact, we wrote “we do not believe the lobby is all-powerful, or that it controls important institutions in the United States. As we will discuss in several subsequent chapters, there are a number of cases where the lobby did not get its way.” (TIL, p. 14). We repeated this statement elsewhere in the book, in public presentations, and in several subsequent articles. So how did Kirsch manage to miss this?

2. He claims we argued that the lobby had “hijacked” U.S. foreign policy “using illegitimate means.” In fact, we wrote “The Israel lobby is not a cabal or conspiracy or anything of the sort. It is engaged in good old-fashioned interest group politics, which is as American as apple pie.” We also emphasized that “it is perfectly legitimate for any American to have a significant attachment to a foreign country” (TIL, p. 13). And we repeated similar statements throughout the book. Either Kirsch didn’t bother to read it, or he is just inventing arguments that we did not make so that he has something to criticize.

3. Kirsch alleges that “in our insinuations about secret Jewish power, Mearsheimer and Walt…had given a respectable imprimatur to old and sinister anti-Semitic tropes. ” Wrong again. We have a lengthy section denouncing traditional anti-Semitism, and we never–repeat never–said one word or offered “insinuations” about “secret” Jewish power. On the contrary, we repeatedly emphasized that the lobby’s activities were above-board and out in the open, like those of other prominent interest groups. We are both familiar with the long and sordid history of anti-Semitism, and we devoted a lengthy section of our introduction to a discussion of these various “anti-Semitic tropes” and our explicit rejection of them, emphasizing that they help explain why it is hard to even talk about this issue. Moreover, when discussing the neoconservative movement, we wrote “what may seem to some like a shadowy conspiracy (or even a “right wing cabal”) is anything but. On the contrary.Tthe various think tanks, committees, foundations, and publications that have nurtured the neoconservative movement operate much as other policy networks do. Far from shunning publicity or engaging in hidden plots, these groups actively court publicity for the explicit purpose of shaping public and elite opinion and moving U.S. foreign policy in the directions they favor.” (TIL, p. 131).

For that matter, we repeatedly emphasized that the term “Jewish lobby” was an inappropriate label, because many Jews do not support the lobby’s agenda and because some key members of the lobby were not Jewish (most notably the so-called Christian Zionists). For this reason, we wrote “it is the specific political agenda that defines the lobby, not the religious or ethnic identity of those pushing it” (TIL, p. 115).

4. Lastly, Kirsch suggests that our book advocated “cutting Israel adrift,” and implies that we believe “America’s interests and problems in the Islamic world will be resolved…if and when a Palestinian state is created.” This isn’t even close to what we wrote. We repeatedly said that we supported Israel’s existence, and that we believed the United States should come to its aid if its survival were in jeopardy.” We repeatedly say the U.S. should have a “normal” relationship with Israel, akin to our relations with other democracies. How is this “cutting Israel adrift?” And we made it clear that our recommended policy approach “will not eliminate all the problems currently facing the United States in the Middle East…Israeli-Palestinian peace is not a wonder drug that will solve all the region’s problems: it will by itself neither eliminate anti-Semitism in the region nor lead Arab elites to tackle the other problems that afflict their societies with new energy and commitment” (TIL, p. 348). Once again, Kirsch is either writing about a book he hasn’t read, or engaging in willful distortion.

In short, Kirsch’s supposed summary of our core argument, as well as his tortured effort to interpret the book’s cover as anti-Semitic, is demonstrably false. It is not even a caricature of what we actually wrote; it is a wholly fictitious construction of his own. And the same could be said for virtually all of the reviews that he cites as “evidence” of our supposed errors and alleged bigotry. As I’ve noted before, our critics are forced to misrepresent our book because they cannot deal with the arguments that we actually made. The only way for them to challenge us is to distort or misrepresent what we said, or to pretend we said the exact opposite. And it is surely no accident that these distortions are always slanted to portray us falsely as anti-Semites, which has become the all-purpose way for hardline defenders of Israel to respond to those with different views.

Fortunately, there is a more parsimonious explanation for why our book may have helped open up public discourse on these issues. Not by legitimizing anti-Semitism, of course, which would be a deplorable development that both Mearsheimer and I would condemn in the strongest terms. Rather, our book may have helped open up a more fruitful debate on U.S. Middle East policy, and especially on the U.S.-Israel “special relationship,” for the simple reason that we were pointing out obvious truths that many knowledgeable people already recognized. We may have succeeded because there was overwhelming evidence of the lobby’s impact — including testimony from a wide range of politicians — evidence that no amount of distortion or slander could conceal. Eyes have also been opened by unfortunate events like the Lebanon War of 2006, the Gaza War of 2008-2009, and the Obama administration’s failed attempts to advance a two-state solution, all of which cast a bright light on the lobby’s clout in Washington. And it surely didn’t hurt that our critics reacted in precisely the way we described in our book, resorting to misrepresentation and smear tactics instead of dealing with our arguments and evidence in a rational and fair-minded fashion.

If Kirsch is correct that we are “winning,” in short, maybe it’s because we paid close attention to facts and logic and did not attack our opponents with inaccurate smears or attempts at character assassination. Maybe we’re “winning” because our core argument was correct: the various groups that make up the “Israel lobby” have been mistakenly advocating policies that were in fact harmful to the United States and to Israel itself, and more and more people have begun to figure this out.

January 20, 2012, Foreign Policy

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PREPARING FOR THE NEXT CONQUEST: What does Libya tell us about Intervention in Syria and Iran?

Richard Lightbown
Sun 29 Jan 2012

Debkafile reported on 17 January that an imminent joint Israeli-US exercise had been cancelled by Israel’s prime minister, and not by the US as widely supposed. Convinced that Iran has made the decision to become a nuclear power Mr Netanyahu is preparing for possible unilateral attacks on Iranian nuclear sites.

British press reports say agents from the CIA and MI6 are operating within Syria while British and French Special Forces are training members of the Free Syrian Army in Turkey. Pravda has claimed that NATO snipers who fought in Libya have been sent to Syria.

As regional war threatens drastic and unforeseen consequences in the Middle East some commentators claim that humanitarian benefits justify Western intervention in repressive states. This claim is worth considering in the context of the events that have befallen Libya.

No one should be under any illusions about the intentions of Western governments in Libya following their activities throughout the 42 years of Muammar Qadafi’s rule. During this time there were 39 coup attempts inspired by US, British and French agencies, most of which were centred on Benghazi and the province of Cyrenaica. Many involved an attempt at assassination, as did the US fighter-bomber attack on Tripoli in 1986 in which eight of the 18 aircraft flying from Britain specifically targeted Col Qadafi’s private residence.

Qadafi’s overthrow began as an uprising in Benghazi which followed a Facebook call, from London on 17 February 2011, to commemorate the 2005 massacre at Abu Salim prison. In response to the ensuing fighting the UN Security Council unanimously approved resolution 1970 on 26 February. Calling for an end to all violence, it required all member states to apply an arms embargo which also prohibited the provision of technical assistance, training, finance and all other assistance related to military activities. It soon became clear that British forces were in breach of the resolution when six members of the SAS were taken prisoner by rebels in Benghazi on 4 March. What the troop was trying to achieve, and what went wrong with the operation has never been revealed.

Following reports of civilian massacres by Libyan aircraft the Security Council responded by approving resolution 1973 on 17 March 2011, although this time one-third of the fifteen members abstained. (The claims concerning civilian massacres were later refuted by Amnesty International, along with allegations that the Libyan regime had been employing foreign mercenaries.) This called for an immediate cease-fire and for all sides to seek a solution to the crisis while requiring them to protect civilians. Responding to a call from the Arab League it authorised the enforcement of a no-fly zone.

A US-drafted amendment allowed for “all necessary measures [to protect Libyan civilians] under threat of attack”. The American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, promptly claimed that this allowed for arming the rebels under the terms of the resolution. Jose Cabral, the chair of the Sanctions Committee, disagreed and declared that “the resolution [1973] imposes a full embargo on arms.” The US and NATO however had no interest in legal formalities and large quantities of arms were subsequently supplied to the rebels from Qatar via the Egyptian border. France also in shipped some supplies direct, while NATO Special Forces supplied training and expertise.

On the following day and in response to resolution 1973, the Libyan Foreign Minister announced an immediate ceasefire and a stoppage of all military operations against rebel forces. The next day, 19 March, French aircraft carried out an airstrike which was followed by the launch of 110 Tomahawk missiles by US and British warships against air defences in Tripoli and Misrata. Thus only two days after its approval, the Security Council resolution was rendered a sham by NATO forces which placed civilian lives unnecessarily at risk when they ignored the offer of an immediate cease-fire and refused to seek a solution to the crisis. All subsequent calls for a ceasefire by the Libyan government were summarily dismissed by either the rebels or NATO. By 29 March the Russian Foreign Minister was moved to comment “We consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the UN Security Council resolution.”

Apart from coverage of the murder of Muammar Qadafi and his contemptuous secret burial there has been little mainstream reportage of the results arising from this international banditry. Even casualty figures are vague. (NATO does not do casualty figures: they have still to produce accurate figures for the number of civilians killed during the bombing of Kosovo in 1999. Sorting out the carnage is always someone else’s responsibility.) The lowest estimate of casualties came from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) which claimed in September that “between 50-100 civilians had perished from air strikes in the six months of the campaign”. Considering even the National Transitional Council has estimated 30,000 dead and 50,000 injured, RUSI’s claim is an insult to intelligence. One of the highest estimates has come from Thomas Mountain, who used the NATO figure of 9,658 strike sorties flown to estimate that 30,000 tons of explosives were used, and by allowing two deaths per ton arrived at a death toll of 60,000.

Failing any details from the perpetrators themselves some of the vocal supporters for this war might have provided details on their behalf. Brian Whitaker of the Guardian has written extensively on the subject, and like a barrack room lawyer picked over the Security Council resolutions to claim that NATO forces on the ground were legal. (Jose Cabral’s statement was not amongst the information he considered.) However Mr Whitaker’s personal website al-Bab, stopped writing about the Libyan war in August, and has therefore not covered the devastation left in the wake of the bombardment. The veteran peace campaigner Uri Avnery also supported the war (and proposed a similar intervention in Syria) suggesting that opponents of the action were driven by a hatred of the US and NATO rather than any concern for the people of Libya. He added that he was “ready to support even the devil, if that is necessary to put an end to this kind of atrocities”. For the people of Sirte this might sound bitterly ironic, particularly since Mr Avnery has not returned to the subject to write about their once prosperous city that now resembles war-torn Stalingrad or Fallujah. Uri Avnery wondered whether opponents of the NATO operation were really concerned for the well-being of the Libyan people. Bassam Haddad, writing on the Jadaliyya website, had similar concerns about criticism of the Syrian regime, while expressing his desire to see an end to the abuse of human rights in Syria. But Prof Haddad is under no illusion about the duplicity and self-interest driving foreign interference, and appears to draw an opposing conclusion:

“… the actors that are amassed to benefit from the fall of the Syrian regime are, in the final analysis, no less problematic than the Syrian regime itself. In sum, these actors are certainly more violent, discriminatory, and anti-democratic in terms of their collective and/or individual long-term vision for the region.”

But if one did need to have an object to hate, then the calculating planners of the Libyan rape, who appear indifferent to all the misery they have caused, would make as good an object as any. Prior to the bombing, Libya had the best health care and the best education in Africa, free of charge. Essential food staples were heavily subsidised, while fuel was plentiful and cheap. Having bombed to kingdom come schools, hospitals, electricity and water supplies, oil installations, men, women, children, black Africans and Arabs, the planes and warships have departed. Reports of the use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs suggest that they will have left some areas dangerously polluted as well as poverty stricken. An occupation army is now preparing to arrive: according to former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, 12,000 US troops in Malta are about to move into Libya, while trigger-happy NATO troops already occupy the petroleum platforms and ports.

There have been victory speeches from Nicholas Sarkozy (who received Col Gaddafi as a guest of honour in France only two years ago), David Cameron (who visited Egypt peddling British arms immediately after the fall of Hosni Mubarak) and Barak Obama. (What greater irony could befall those who were conquered, injured or even killed, at the behest of a peace prize laureate? What greater folly could the Nobel Prize committee have concocted?)

And still the misery continues. The entire 31,000 population of Tawergha are said to have fled their homes during the war and it is not clear how many have returned. IRIN has reported that the delivery of emergency humanitarian aid has been hindered by a lack of funding, despite the fact that NATO countries control over $100billion worth of frozen assets belonging to the people of Libya. In mid-December International Crisis Group reported that more than 125,000 Libyans now carry arms, while estimates on the number of militias range from between 100 to 300. Rivalry exists among the different bands which issue their own identity cards, apply their own investigation techniques and issue arrest warrants (and reportedly in Misrata continue to kill black Libyans). Feuding is commonplace. Meanwhile senior officials who defected from the former regime (possibly after payoffs from NATO) expect to retain positions in the new leadership.

It must be acknowledged that Qadafi the tyrant is dead. In a perfect world he most certainly would have faced trial in the International Criminal Court, following even worse criminals such as George W Bush and Tony Blair. In this context it should not be forgotten that the crimes of Barak Obama, which include greatly expanding the drone attacks on civilian areas in Pakistan, might have earned the death penalty at Nuremburg. In our imperfect world Col Qadafi brought stability and prosperity to Libya along with considerable benefits to other parts of Africa. No less an eminence than Nelson Mandela paid homage to this. Above all, Qadafi’s nefarious crimes do not justify the savage assault that has befallen his people.

With the re-colonisation of Libya completed, NATO and its allies are looking for the next conquest. In this they are being encouraged once again by some sincere peace activists. These people would be well advised to do the arithmetic. In eight months between 30 and 60 thousand Libyans are believed to have been killed. By contrast in eleven months the estimated death toll in Syria is between five and seven thousand. In addition Syrian buildings and infrastructure appear to remain largely intact and there is no danger from the remains of depleted uranium or cluster bombs.

At the present time amidst the chaos and the mayhem it is still Syrian citizens who control Syrian assets. This is not the case in Libya, where NATO troops control the nation’s desirable assets, and the imminent arrival of US occupation troops, according to evidence from Iraq and Afghanistan, is to be feared rather than welcomed.

The jokers in the pack this time are Russia and China who, duped and angered by NATO’s shameful misuse of resolution 1973 and excluded from future trading deals in Libya, are more minded to apply a proactive stance on behalf of Syria and Iran. This is likely to mean support for the existing repressive regimes, such as the shipload of munitions that Russia recently sent to Syria. The problem is that outside interference reduces the opportunities for internal compromises that could herald new freedoms.

During the twentieth century both Syria and Libya experienced the brutal repression and racism of European colonialism, while Iran was invaded by British Empire forces a few years before Anglo-American meddling imposed a brutal puppet regime. For Libya a parallel experience has now returned. For Syria and Iran the same fate awaits the unwary and the unprepared. The dark shadow of colonial occupation has made an unexpected and unwelcome return.

Richard Lightbown is a researcher and writer who has volunteered with Viva Palestina, International Solidarity Movement, Golan for Development,and as a forester with Voluntary Service Overseas.

January 24, 2012. Global Research

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Iran, and the First U.S. Dollar War Defeat

Politics / US PoliticsJul 04, 2011 – 07:47 AM

By: Ron_Holland

Politics

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleA short story showing how powerful elite interests and central bankers could manipulate American foreign policy using a black flag event in order to guarantee the American dollar remains the world’s reserve currency. This is of course just a work of fiction and hypothetical case study and the characters have no relation to actual people, government officials or events.

“Generals always prepare to fight the last war.” ~ a proverb

Part One – The following is a short case study about a potential war and financial crisis starting in the Middle East.

The White House Situation Room

The preparation for operation “Protect Arab Spring & Democracy”

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) called the meeting to order. “Mr. President, Vice President, selected members of the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs and Senate and House Committee chairmen, it is a pleasure to be here today along with the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.”

“Due to the sensitive nature of this information, everyone here is to treat the information we present today as top-secret in nature and any leaks will be dealt with by the harshest measures available including enhanced interrogation and even imprisonment in secure facilities ranging from Diego Garcia to Guantanamo. Any public knowledge of this meeting will present a clear and present danger to the government of the United States and will be treated accordingly. Is there anyone here that does not understand what I have just communicated? Then we will proceed.

Because of the heightened tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran, our highest intelligence estimates indicate an immediate threat of Iranian sponsored terrorist attacks against oil pipelines, infrastructure, wells and drilling platforms, civilian oil workers as well as thousands of US military contractors within the next two weeks. It is the stated goal of the United States to protect and defend our allies in the Gulf region and their oil resources therefore we are now activating Operation “Protect Arab Spring & Democracy.”

Note: Iran hasn’t actually invaded another nation for hundreds of years although their foreign policy today is very much about expanding their national influence and prestige as a regional power in the area.

To this end, a broad coalition of western nations will comply with official but private requests for allied troops to protect and defend the oil resources and infrastructure of the following nations: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Oman. In addition the rebel forces fighting Gaddafi as well as the governments of Tunisia, Algeria and Nigeria have requested French, German and Italian military defense forces to safeguard their oil regions and resources from terrorist threats.

The United Kingdom will safeguard Kuwait and their coastline while adjacent oil producing regions south to the Yemen border will be protected by American troops recently withdrawn from Afghanistan as well as additional units airlifted from Germany and the continental United States.

Note: Establishment history has somehow forgotten that the United Kingdom previously invaded and occupied both Kuwait and Iraq on June 22, 1941, on the same day that Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

In addition, due to a short-term shortage of American armor and ground troops, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has been asked to temporarily protect a land supply route across southern Jordan south of the capital of Amman (permission has been granted by Jordan) to the Arab Gulf in Saudi Arabia to just north of the Bahrain causeway up to the Kuwait border which will be under their temporary defensive control. This will guarantee Israel oil and gas resources they have lost following the close of the Egyptian pipeline to Israel during 2011.

We expect a peaceful repositioning of troops to protect and defend the people of the Arabian Gulf region from the threat of Iranian terrorist attacks and outright invasion and nothing more. We are acting at the specific requests of the governments involved.

Please note that due to the sensitive nature of this action, official notification to Congress and the American people will be done as soon as the peaceful military repositioning has been completed. These actions have already been ordered by Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) and are like Presidential Executive Orders except these do not have to be published in the Federal Register and are not a matter of public record. This was required due to the urgency of the impending crisis and concern American national security.

This concludes the briefing so please remember everything you have heard here today is top-secret in nature. Please do not jeopardize yourselves, your government position or your families’ security by any talk outside this room. Now the President, Vice President, Joint Chiefs, Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the Federal Reserve will remain for another meeting on an unrelated topic.

As the advisors and committee chairman left the situation room, the Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman moved to the head of the long conference table as the CIA Director took a back seat.

The President spoke first, “Gentlemen we are now convening a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) and I’ve invited the Joint Chiefs of each military branch to participate as they will be charged with carrying out the secret Presidential Decision Directive. I believe the people around this table will understand the gravity of the situation after we hear from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Secretary. Mr. Treasury Secretary you may make your presentation and gentlemen feel free to ask questions at any time.”

For the purposes of discussion, despite claims to the contrary, the room was filled with the usual handpicked power-elite, career climbing sycophants which make up the top echelons of power in Washington and in the military. Each had brown-nosed and back-stabbed their way to the top of their own bureaucracies and each had learned to survive and prosper in the world of Anglo-American elite politics, government and military service. Every individual had followed the path laid out by their sponsoring interests who had put them on the fast-track to career success.

That is all but one. Army Chief of Staff Thomas Jonathan Hudson was somehow different from all the rest at the table. After graduating from West Point, he had actually been promoted to this Army Chief of Staff position following a long and distinguished military career without playing the game of power elite politics. He had somehow arrived at the pinnacle of his army career because of his memory, leadership qualities and the fact that he always did his job and followed orders.

In addition, Thomas J. as his friends called him loved to read and study military history and he guessed his awakening started with his initial purchase of the Tom Wood’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide To American History back in 2004. This transformed his reading into new areas of political history and economics about the Civil War and both world wars.

Later following the 2008 financial crash he delved even into finance and politics with Wood’s Meltdown book and then Ron Paul’s End the Fed. Although he didn’t vote for Ron Paul in 2008 because he thought it improper to mix politics with military service, he had begun to get a thorough education in what had happened to the Constitution and his country he had sworn an allegiance to defend.

He privately attended several Mises Institute events and when at home logged on to read The Mises Blog, LewRockwell.com and The Daily Bell almost every day. He read Hayek and Ludwig von Mises including even Human Action.

Now at retirement age, Hudson was ready to leave the Army and had already typed his resignation letter when this Iran and oil crisis seemed to develop almost out of the blue. As always, the general was ready to serve his country again and do his best to protect our nation and national interests from the crazy Iranians. He remembered his oath:

I, (Thomas Jonathan Hudson), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

And this is why we know what happened at this National Security Council meeting because Thomas Jefferson Hudson was a true patriot who loved his country and he just happened to be blessed with a photographic memory. If it was spoken or written down, he could recall the information.

The Secretary of the Treasury stood and made ready to begin his presentation. Thomas wondered why the Treasury Secretary was even at the NSC meeting much less presiding but he kept quiet out of respect for the office. At least the Treasury Department was constitutional and that was more than he could say for the Federal Reserve.

“Gentleman, our best intelligence estimates suggest the Iranian terrorists will hit major oil infrastructure targets across the Arabian Gulf exactly 2 weeks from today. Your job is to be pro-active and coordinate with the British, Israeli and of course our Army, Naval and Marine and Air assets to be positioned in the oil producing regions fully by that date. Our troops in Iraq will of course protect oil assets there as well as resist any Iranian army incursion should this happen. In addition, they will deal with any trouble from the Muqdata al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq and the IDF will screen the Saudi Arabian border fronting Iraq.

Thomas J. spoke up, “Sir, I assume when you said the Arabian Gulf you meant the Persian Gulf as we all describe the region.” The Treasury Secretary really hated to be interrupted, “General, we never refer to the gulf as the “Persian Gulf” as this waterway is vital to American interests and filled with our oil reserves.” In the future you will always describe it correctly as the “Arabian Gulf.” Using the wrong term could convey Persian or Iranian dominance or right to the waterway and natural resources and this would be a big career killing mistake for you, do you understand?” Thomas J. answered quietly, “Yes Sir” and looked down at his notes.

Another general asked, “So this is a simple repositioning of military forces and we do not expect resistance as these governments have officially asked for the protection?” The Secretary replied, “we will probably be met with flowers except in the Shia areas of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but resistance will be limited as the governments are all our official allies.”

Again, Thomas asked a question to the Secretary. “Sir, isn’t most of the oil region of Saudi Arabia in Shiite areas which are a minority controlled by the Sunni majority? Shouldn’t we be prepared for combat and what about all these color or Arab Spring revolutions now threatening these oil producing nations? I’ve even read where many of the movement leaders are urging their oil be priced in Euros rather than the falling dollar?”

Note, most of the oil fields and reserves of Saudi Arabia are in the eastern area near the gulf which is majority Shiite like Iran. Bahrain is majority Shiite but controlled by a small Sunni minority backed and supported by the Saudi Monarchy. Two thirds of the world’s oil reserves and 45% of the world’s natural gas reserves are located around the Arabian Gulf. Is it a coincidence that Iraq, Iran and Libya have previously voiced plans to price their oil outside the dollar?

The Treasury Secretary suddenly stiffened and his face turned a crimson red. “General, the policy of your government and the Treasury Department is a strong dollar policy. Of course, there will be short-term fluctuations up and down but this is nothing to be alarmed at. Our Arab allies will never price oil in any currency but the American dollar which will remain the world reserve currency for the foreseeable future.”

Thomas J again questioned, “But what about the news reports which suggest when the current governments are overthrown by the Arab Spring revolutions that the role of the dollar as the world reserve currency is finished?” The Treasury Secretary responded angrily, “our military defending these nations will make sure neither the extremist revolutions nor Iranian threats impact the oil resources or halt the pricing of the oil in dollars.”

Note: remember when oil is priced in dollars, America has a singular advantage over every other nation on the planet. For our imported oil, the Federal Reserve can just create more fiat dollars out of nothing. All other countries are forced to exchange their currencies for dollars and then buy oil. This translates into significant dollar balances which need to be converted into US Treasuries by all nations needing to purchase Arab oil as well as the oil producing nations which have to again park these dollars in Treasuries.

The Chairman of the Federal Reserve spoke up, “remember everyone especially you general that everything said in this meeting is top-secret. There would likely be a worldwide run on the dollar and a collapse of our currency and Treasury obligations should the United States be unable to continue the free purchase of oil and distribution of dollars provided by the Federal Reserve.

The cost of creating new currency and reserves is basically a free service provided by the FED to the federal government and as long as billions of dollars in oil are purchased each month, then the world will need our dollars and buy our Treasury obligations.

This is the real benefit of the US maintaining the dollar world reserve currency status at any cost and frankly the real reason we are occupying most of the oil fields and reserves. The world only gets “our” oil if they pay us – rather I mean our Arab oil producing allies in dollars and the dollars they must get from us.”

Thomas, “well gentlemen, what about the recent news reports from that Chinese credit rating service suggesting America has already defaulted because of the severe drop in the dollar verses other major currencies? The FED chairman replied, “General, if you know what is good for you, I suggest you stop reading those Australian hm., I mean Austrian economics articles on your “hate America” alternative media sites like “Lew Rockwell” or “The Daily Bell” and stay away from that freedom gadfly Ron Paul. We know you visit those reprehensible sites almost every day.”

Looking directly at Thomas, “Did you really think for a second we would not monitor your internet viewing habits from your home computer? You’ve asked your wacko questions, wasted our time and now we have to quickly finish this meeting. I order you to just listen and ask no more questions at this meeting.”

Thomas J. thought to himself, “Damn, these banksters monitor my email, telephone communications and my internet viewing habits. What the Hell has happened to my country? Then he wondered to himself, I guess what they say about the Patriot Act and the TSA may be right after all.

These guys aren’t protecting our Arab friends from Iran or the Islamic fundamentalists they claim are increasingly leading the revolutions. They are basically seizing the Middle East oil resources for the oil to use as a bargaining chip with Europe and specifically China.

Now China is both the major foreign holder of our Treasury obligations as well as the largest oil consuming nation in the world and they want to make sure these Arab governments continue to sell oil for dollars in order to delay the coming dollar and Treasury debt crash.

This is simply an invasion to prop up the dollar and steal their oil and nothing more. They claim this will be a simple military repositioning but I don’t remember the flowers and cheering crowds welcoming us as promised by the Bush and Cheney in the Iraq War. Damn, this is just another central banker and resource war, kind of a modern day version of the Civil War. Instead of Fort Sumter or the faked Gulf of Tonkin attack this time they’re blaming Iranian terrorism. Could these interests be planning the oil infrastructure attacks to provide the excuse for our troops to move in? Sounds like the fake Polish army invasion of Germany in 1939.

He thought back to growing up in Lexington, VA, playing on the grounds of Virginia Military Academy around the statues of Thomas Jackson who he was named after and Robert E. Lee. Remembering his four years at VMI he remembered the famed VMI cadet charge against the Union invaders while defending the Confederate States of America against another army out for financial and economic gains. Thinking to himself he guessed history and banking elites don’t change very much.

Thomas J. stood up at attention and looked directly in the cowering eyes of the FED Chairman and the Treasury Secretary. Iit took all of his self-control to maintain his military bearing instead showing his total disgust for both men. “Sirs, you are committing my nation and my troops to a military operation which could result in massive casualties and a prolonged mission just to support the dollar which your past monetary policies have destroyed. Your goal is obviously to make your banking and Wall Street friends more blood money. I will not be part of a military invasion and occupation or a war decided in secret instead properly declared by Congress.”

Then turning toward the Treasury Secretary, “I don’t care how many secret directives, hidden combinations or presidential dictatorial decrees you’ve scared or forced the President to sign. This is just like your bank bailout scheme except this time you are sacrificing the lives of my soldiers instead of the future prosperity of my country.”

“Gentlemen and I use the term in derision rather than respect, I hereby immediately resign my military commission. All of you in this room are traitors to our nation and the republic if you are going to sit here and say nothing.”

Then thinking back to the forced suicide by Rommel demanded by the Nazi leadership, “and what are you going to do about it? Give me a choice of suicide by cyanide or do I get to use a pistol?”

Everyone held their breath and everything in the meeting room began to move in slow motion as each turned from the general and began nervously looking down at the conference room table. Even these men who had no shame were embarrassed and caught off-guard by the evident truth of his remarks.

After what seemed like minutes but actually only a few seconds, the CIA Director stood and replied. “General, we know you are tired and overworked and maybe you’ve seen too many World War Two movies. You need a rest therefore we will place you on temporary medical leave until you feel better and this operation is successfully concluded. Guards, escort the general to our private health facility here at Langley, make sure he has no recording devices and remind him how this attitude could jeopardize his pension as well as the security of his family. Also handcuff him as he might somehow injure himself.

“Gentlemen this meeting is adjourned, you know your objectives and timetables.”

The meeting was over and exactly two weeks later to the day, while the armed forces of America, the UK and Israel were making final plans for the troop movements, without warning, a string of terrorist attacks against oil instillations, drilling sites and pipelines hit the Arab Gulf region from Iraq to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and down through Dubai, the U.A.E, and Oman.

Within minutes US and Israeli intelligence services were reporting Iran as being behind the attacks and public requests for Western troops to defend the oil fields and pipelines were coming in from each of the nations attacked. In addition, military and police actions against the so called Freedom Revolutions which according to the State Department had been infiltrated and taken over by Islamic extremists were begun across the region.

The world was amazed at how fast American troops, armor and air assets were transferred into the Arabian Gulf to defend our friends from whatever Iran might do next. The President requested temporary military help from Israel and their armor and motorized and helicopter troops quickly and professionally secured the long land corridor from Israel through Jordan to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf just north of Bahrain causeway up to the Kuwait border.

Notice was given that no western or Israel troops would venture near Riyadh or the holy cities of Saudi Arabia and that we were there to protect the freedom revolutions and defend democracy in the region. The fact there was no democracy in the region except for Israel did not become one of the talking points for discussion on the mainstream media.

Immediately after the public announcement of operation “Protect Arab Spring & Democracy”; US and UK cruise missiles began bombarding Iranian military installations, army, air and rocket batteries. Within 48 hours, the coalition troop repositioning had met their objectives, and faced Iran from Afghanistan in the north, across the border from Iraq, Kuwait and through the Saudi oil fields along the eastern coast to Qatar, the UAE and Dubai including Oman.

Iran had of course denied knowledge of or involvement with the destruction and terrorist attacks across the oil rich peninsula but all was quiet on the Eastern Front.

Iran threatened retaliation but their military forces except for the rocket battalions were all designed for an expected defensive action. Any military advancement anywhere along the line would be an open invitation for Allied air, naval and military superiority to crush the Iranian forces totally and completely.

Washington hoped and prayed for a military response but assumed that other than inaccurate rocket attacks by Iran, maybe Hezbollah and scattered Shiite attacks in the oil fields that they would do nothing. Iran was too smart to commit national suicide and take on the combined military forces of Israel, UK and the United States. Still, hoping for maybe an Iranian naval response against the 5th Fleet that would allow the US an easy victory, Iran naval assets and naval based were exempted from the assault.

The President of course spoke to the nation and Congress with some opposition by Ron and Rand Paul and a few non-interventionists on the extreme left and right but they quickly approved the new troop movements as requested by the Arab governments. Over the next few days, there were scattered terrorist attacks and demonstrations against the troop deployments but nothing but rhetoric came from Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had certainly been caught off guard personally by the terrorist attacks on the Saudi and other oil installations and at first he assumed the Revolutionary Guards were to blame trying to start a war between Iran and their Sunni neighbors. But then when the cruise missile attacks began immediately along with the massive troop movements by the western forces he had to admit the truth. The Americans had moved first. No matter, his long planned response to a future Israel attack on Iran would simply change targets.

First he ordered as many small fishing boats and pleasure craft as possible to the main Iranian naval base at Bandar Abbas just opposite the Strait of Hormuz. Then pulling out an Iranian military contingency plan designed to destroy as much of the Arabian Peninsula oil production as possible if Iran ever completed the planned number of nuclear devices, he tossed the booklet in the waste basket and reached for his favorite English book, One Second After, dog-eared from so much bedtime reading.

He waited for the general in charge of the rocket forces to arrive. Ahmadinejad remained in his office but while waiting he discarded his usual casual attire and put on a military uniform.

As General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC commander-in-chief entered the President’s office, Ahmadinejad was unusually to the point. “General you can forget our earlier theoretical discussions about Israel. You have stated on many occasions that ‘Our missiles are ready to be fired at anytime and anywhere. We were able to reduce the weight of our missiles, and this provides them with great precision.’ Is this correct?”

Jafari was very nervous as he never had really expected to fire his missiles and rockets at American forces but he managed a very loud and confident, “yes Mr. President if Allah wills it.” “Very well then follow through with your planned attack as has been approved by the Iran Revolutionary Council – but one of your rockets, one of the Shibab-3’s is to be retargeted to the following coordinates and I now have our best rocket scientists and nuclear experts calculating what is necessary for it to detonate exactly 30 miles above the desert.”

Jafari was concerned, had the president lost his mind? The location was 500 miles from anything. Iran with so much effort, international opposition and at a high financial cost had managed to build one crude nuclear device. Now he wants to waste our only real deterrent against a possible American invasion with an insane demonstration for Saudi Arabia in the middle of Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter) of the uninhabited Saudi Arabian desert. A land larger than France, Belgium and the Netherlands combined with sand dunes that reach 1,000 feet high.

He had to speak up. “Mr. President, if we detonate our nuclear weapon there or even high above the desert, no one will even know we did it.” He waited for a response from Ahmadinejad but nothing came but sort of a whisper as the President seemed deep in thought, mumbling something like “but yes they will” and the President added, “thank you for the visit and dedication to our nation – you may go now.”

US Central Command, Bahrain

To have apparently been behind the attacks on Arab Gulf oil installations, the Iranians were very slow to respond to the situation. American naval assets had remained near the US naval base in Bahrain where the Fifth Fleet and Central Command were headquartered. The navy would welcome any sneak attacks by the Iran or their Revolutionary Guard Corps by submarine, speedboat or rocket forces.

The world expected a military response probably a rocket attack and on the 5th day, hundreds of Iranian missiles and rockets flew toward US military bases In Iraq and toward ports and oil facilities primarily in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Major cities were also targeted as the guidance systems were often obsolete and most rockets came down miles from their intended targets.

There were a large number of various types of Iranian rockets along with a few of the more modern Shibab-3 versions. During the height of the rocket attack which occurred at midnight, radar and a few troops on the ground might have seen a brief high level explosion far larger than the many missile explosions downed by western anti-missile defense systems but the high altitude made the nuclear explosion almost invisible. The explosion was a bright green and as quickly as it appeared, it was over.

Some of the rockets had obviously hit major power generating facilities and electrical transmission lines as within a 400 mile radius of a point southeast of the Saudi Capital, the entire electrical grid and all communications were out. This included most of the Saudi oilfields in the eastern part of the nation, down to and including the United Arab Emirates to just past Dubai plus the oil region of Oman in the south and up to and including Qatar and the small island nation of Bahrain in the north where the US fleet was based.

Our military forces in Bahrain south to Oman were in position but now everything was dark and communications were out cold. It was late at night but there were no vehicle lights on the highways, cell phone, radio and internet communications were out and nothing moved. It seemed as if everything of an electronic nature in the entire region was knocked out.

Flash lights worked but night vision didn’t. Hand held automatic weapons were still operational but tanks, radar, trucks and military vehicles wouldn’t start and neither aircraft nor ships would work. American nuclear powered aircraft carriers sat still in the water buffeted by the wind and waves and the reactors began to overheat but no one knew about this yet because all electronics were out.

No one knew what had happened except for a few of the top leadership and scientists in Iran. One of the hundreds of rockets fired west over American military forces had been fitted with Iran’s primitive but first nuclear warhead. It had exploded as planned 30 miles above the Saudi desert harmlessly killing only a few buzzards directly under the explosion. The explosion had been the first EMP attack in history.

After the EMP Attack

The next morning, American troops positioned near the coast and beaches of the Arab Gulf including Bahrain were all up early watching the eastern sky for sunrise as communications were out, command and control were non-existent and everyone was tired of stumbling around all night in the dark. As the sun began to rise over the eastern horizon they first noticed pelicans floating way out to sea but upon closer inspection the birds appeared to be small boats and later some of the boats were larger and filled with troops and military vehicles.

Suddenly the sky was filled with Iranian missiles targeting the troop concentrations, followed by the Iranian air force using old obsolete aircraft but aircraft with electronics not destroyed by the EMP wave because they were based out of the weapon range. Then came helicopter gunships etc., the Americans had no way to contact the chain of command, they began firing at the boats with machine guns and rifle fire but there was no anti-aircraft defense systems working. The hummers and armor wouldn’t start and the world’s most technologically advanced fighting force had no radar, command and control or communications.

Everyone was on foot in one of the hottest places on the earth and there was no water, the water pumps didn’t work, no power or air-conditioning. The American army had been reduced to a World War One level fighting force without phone, transportation or even vintage biplanes to observe the enemy. Against them now hitting the beaches with armor, command and control and air resources was the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards, mad as hell and ready for revenge.

By the end of the second day, without water, knowledge or communications with the outside world, little food and no way to retreat other than walk across 500 miles of desert, the largest American army to surrender since Bataan, after a brave and determined defense surrendered to the Islamic Republic of Iran armed forces.

At the same time the American fleet including 3 aircraft carriers and support ships as well as all of the aircraft now totally inoperable surrendered to the small Iranian navy. The aircraft carriers were scuttled and sent to the bottom much like the German fleet at Scapa Flow following the German surrender after World War One.

The American sailors were determined not to allow the carriers to fall into Iranian hands. This was probably best for both sides as the aircraft electronics were totally destroyed and the nuclear reactors powering the carriers would soon reach critical mass like the Japanese reactors following the recent earthquake and tidal wave.

The brief war was over and although a historical defeat for the United States, additional American military assets in Iraq and around the world were not impacted by the single EMP blast. Washington could still nuke Iran, destroy the Iranian invasion force and win the war given a few months but there was another problem. Following the EMP attack, the most optimistic American projections were at least a year before oil production and exports could be resumed from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Oman even after the Iranian troops were forced out.

The only two major oil producing nations left in the region were Iraq and Iran and within a couple of days, oil had reached over $350 dollars a barrel up from $100. More importantly the Arab politicians and governments which had asked for US troops were blamed along with the US for the brief war and revolutions quickly toppled each regime.

China promised to immediately send the technical expertise, oil rigs and pipeline equipment required to fix the fried electronics in the oil fields and pipelines. They guaranteed oil production and exports would be restored within 90 days rather than 12 months at no cost to the nations involved.

The only requirement was all Arab reserves in dollars were to be transferred into a special basket of Asian and European currencies including the euro, the Swiss franc and gold within the next year. Of course the Chinese said no oil would be allowed to be priced in dollars until the financial crisis ended but this really wasn’t a real issue for debate or discussion.

In the first 30 days following the end of the dollar pricing of oil and the end of American dollar world reserve currency status, the dollar lost 80% of its value in relation to European currencies and gold was trading at $5,000 an ounce.

Were the Chinese bluffing on their rebuilding time, no one really cared as the US military returned first to Iraq and later to other bases at home and around the world but no troops or military remained inside the region now known by all the world as the “Persian Gulf.”

When The Dollar Dies (Part Two) will discuss what happened to the US and European economies and the Treasury bond market following the death of the dollar, the American national debt collapse and how the Anglo-American banking elites attempted to survive and prosper from the revenue actions which followed the First Dollar War in the Middle East. We will also discuss the necessary steps Americans need to take today in order to avoid the future impact of a collapse whether it develops from foreign policy, war or a domestic political or global financial crisis.

The Electromagnetic Pulse threat is real and I have actually dramatically toned down the threat and coverage area in order to work this new kind of nuclear weapons system into the story. What happened within a 400 mile radius from the blast zone could cover most of the continental United States if the height of the blast was far higher.

Ahmadinejad’s favorite English book, One Second After by William R. Forstchen is the best book and novel on the subject and horrifying aftermath which I have read to date. I strongly urge readers to consider buying the book and more information can be found online.

Quoting from Forstchen: “MP is a real threat, I believe the most underestimated threat in the history of our country. In the late 1930s we completely underestimated the Japanese and the potentials of a new technology. . .carrier based aviation. I’ve written two novels with Newt on this subject. No one took the threat seriously and on December 7, 1941 close to three thousand Americans died. The war that ensued would claim close to half a million American lives. Pearl Harbor was a blow we could recover from and go on to eventual victory. An EMP strike? I believe it would be the death of America, the death of our children. . .it would be the end of the America we cherish and love. . .and plunge the few who survive into a new dark age.”

The Commission to Access the threat to the United States from an EMP attack website provides an in-depth analysis of the threat and conditions following the use of the weapon. Please review the website at www.EMPcommission.org.

A final note from Ron Holland: I am not convinced whether the EMP threat is real or another fear based meme out of Washington created by neocon interests to frighten the American people into more Middle East invasions and occupations. Still, the EMP threat is an easy way to quickly finish a war scenario for this case study. I fear the threat of a US led invasion of the Persian Gulf oil producing nations is real but the aftermath of defeat following a quick initial success is more likely to have ominous parallels with Iraq and Afghanistan than the quick victory and following short-term US defeat as shown in this fictional story.

Ron Holland [send him mail], a retirement consultant, works in Zurich and is a co-editor of the Swiss Mountain Vision Newsletter. He is the author of the special report, “Get Ready To Escape the Obama Retirement Trap” and you can email him for the complete report.

http://www.lewrockwell.com

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Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2012 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk – The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

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The demise of the dollar

In a graphic illustration of the new world order, Arab states have launched secret moves with China, Russia and France to stop using the US currency for oil trading

Tuesday 06 October 2009

Suggested Topics

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

The Americans, who are aware the meetings have taken place – although they have not discovered the details – are sure to fight this international cabal which will include hitherto loyal allies Japan and the Gulf Arabs. Against the background to these currency meetings, Sun Bigan, China’s former special envoy to the Middle East, has warned there is a risk of deepening divisions between China and the US over influence and oil in the Middle East. “Bilateral quarrels and clashes are unavoidable,” he told the Asia and Africa Review. “We cannot lower vigilance against hostility in the Middle East over energy interests and security.”

This sounds like a dangerous prediction of a future economic war between the US and China over Middle East oil – yet again turning the region’s conflicts into a battle for great power supremacy. China uses more oil incrementally than the US because its growth is less energy efficient. The transitional currency in the move away from dollars, according to Chinese banking sources, may well be gold. An indication of the huge amounts involved can be gained from the wealth of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar who together hold an estimated $2.1 trillion in dollar reserves.

The decline of American economic power linked to the current global recession was implicitly acknowledged by the World Bank president Robert Zoellick. “One of the legacies of this crisis may be a recognition of changed economic power relations,” he said in Istanbul ahead of meetings this week of the IMF and World Bank. But it is China’s extraordinary new financial power – along with past anger among oil-producing and oil-consuming nations at America’s power to interfere in the international financial system – which has prompted the latest discussions involving the Gulf states.

Brazil has shown interest in collaborating in non-dollar oil payments, along with India. Indeed, China appears to be the most enthusiastic of all the financial powers involved, not least because of its enormous trade with the Middle East.

China imports 60 per cent of its oil, much of it from the Middle East and Russia. The Chinese have oil production concessions in Iraq – blocked by the US until this year – and since 2008 have held an $8bn agreement with Iran to develop refining capacity and gas resources. China has oil deals in Sudan (where it has substituted for US interests) and has been negotiating for oil concessions with Libya, where all such contracts are joint ventures.

Furthermore, Chinese exports to the region now account for no fewer than 10 per cent of the imports of every country in the Middle East, including a huge range of products from cars to weapon systems, food, clothes, even dolls. In a clear sign of China’s growing financial muscle, the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, yesterday pleaded with Beijing to let the yuan appreciate against a sliding dollar and, by extension, loosen China’s reliance on US monetary policy, to help rebalance the world economy and ease upward pressure on the euro.

Ever since the Bretton Woods agreements – the accords after the Second World War which bequeathed the architecture for the modern international financial system – America’s trading partners have been left to cope with the impact of Washington’s control and, in more recent years, the hegemony of the dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.

The Chinese believe, for example, that the Americans persuaded Britain to stay out of the euro in order to prevent an earlier move away from the dollar. But Chinese banking sources say their discussions have gone too far to be blocked now. “The Russians will eventually bring in the rouble to the basket of currencies,” a prominent Hong Kong broker told The Independent. “The Brits are stuck in the middle and will come into the euro. They have no choice because they won’t be able to use the US dollar.”

Chinese financial sources believe President Barack Obama is too busy fixing the US economy to concentrate on the extraordinary implications of the transition from the dollar in nine years’ time. The current deadline for the currency transition is 2018.

The US discussed the trend briefly at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh; the Chinese Central Bank governor and other officials have been worrying aloud about the dollar for years. Their problem is that much of their national wealth is tied up in dollar assets.

“These plans will change the face of international financial transactions,” one Chinese banker said. “America and Britain must be very worried. You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate.”

Iran announced late last month that its foreign currency reserves would henceforth be held in euros rather than dollars. Bankers remember, of course, what happened to the last Middle East oil producer to sell its oil in euros rather than dollars. A few months after Saddam Hussein trumpeted his decision, the Americans and British invaded Iraq.

Read also:

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An older article but with some interesting points:

The coming war against Iran > HERE

This article is part of the DaanSpeak-series Why war?
Serious implications feared
The coming war against Iran
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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hmm….

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Ron Paul: Iran War Could Break Dollar

Scott Horton, October 01, 2009

Listen as Ron Paul explains the danger that the dollar could be pushed passed its breaking point by any war the U.S. might start with Iran.


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Are The Middle East Wars Really About Forcing the World Into Dollars and Private Central Banking?

  • At the heart of the Illuminati’s power is their central banking cartel. It is their control over the printing of fiat currency which gives them enormous power. Any country which threatens their global monetary hegemony will be annihilated. Practically, all central banks are privately owned by Illuminists. The Satanic Rothschild bloodline controls them. The Satanic endgame is to have everybody microchipped with RFID ’666′ for their Global Fascist Militarized-Police State.
  • The Illuminist are going to destroy countries which do not have an Illuminist central bank ie. Iran, Myanmar and North Korea. (It appears Myanmar may have decided to bow to the Illuminists with the recent ‘friendship opening up to America!’)

    Are The Middle East Wars Really About Forcing the World Into Dollars and Private Central Banking?
    by George Washington, http://www.zerohedge.com/
    The Middle Eastern and North African wars – planned 20 years ago – don’t necessarily have much to do with fighting terrorism. See thisthis and this. They are, in reality, about oil. And protecting Israel (and read the section entitled “Securing the Realm” here).

    But as AFP reports today, there is another major motivation for the expanding wars:

    The latest round of American sanctions are aimed at shutting down Iran’s central bank, a senior US official said Thursday, spelling out that intention directly for the first time.

    “We do need to close down the Central Bank of Iran (CBI),” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, while adding that the United States is moving quickly to implement the sanctions, signed into law last month.
    ***
    Foreign central banks that deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face similar restrictions under the new law, which has sparked fears of damage to US ties with nations like Russia and China.

     “If a correspondent bank of a US bank wants to do business with us and they’re doing business with CBI or other designated Iranian banks… then they’re going to get in trouble with us,” the US official said.

    Why is the U.S. targeting Iran’s central bank? Well, multi-billionaire Hugo Salinas Price told King World News:

    What happened to Mr. Gaddafi, many speculate the real reason he was ousted was that he was planning an all-African currency for conducting trade. The same thing happened to him that happened to Saddam because the US doesn’t want any solid competing currency out there vs the dollar. You know Gaddafi was talking about a gold dinar.

    As I noted in August:

    Ellen Brown argues in the Asia Times that there were even deeper reasons for the war than gold, oil or middle eastern regime change. Brown argues that Libya – like Iraq under Hussein – challenged the supremacy of the dollar and the Western banks:

    Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

    What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland.

     The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked. Kenneth Schortgen Jr, writing on Examiner.com, noted that “[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar.”

     According to a Russian article titled “Bombing of Libya – Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar”, Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency.
    ***
    And that brings us back to the puzzle of the Libyan central bank. In an article posted on the Market Oracle, Eric Encina observed:

     One seldom mentioned fact by western politicians and media pundits: the Central Bank of Libya is 100% State Owned … Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. Few can argue that Libya is a sovereign nation with its own great resources, able to sustain its own economic destiny. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability. Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations.

    … for more click here!

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The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam

Transcript – Public Lecture – Perdana Global Peace Forum 2006

By Prof. Francis A Boyle

06/22/06 “Information Clearing House— — Kuala Lumpur – Little has changed in the imperialist tendencies of American foreign policy since the founding of the United States of America in seventeen eighty-nine. The fledgling United States opened the nineteenth century by stealing the continent of North America from the Indians, while in the process ethnically cleansing them and then finally deporting the pitiful few survivors by means of death marches (a la Bataan) to Bantustans, which in America we call reservations, as in instance of America’s manifest destiny to rule the world.

Then, the imperial government of the United States opened the twentieth century by stealing a colonial empire from Spain – in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, then inflicting a near-genocidal war against the Filipino people. While at the same time, purporting to annex, the kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the native Hawaiian people to near-genocidal conditions from which they still suffer today- all in the name of securing America’s so-called place in the sun.

And today at the dawn of the twenty first century, the world witnesses the effort by the imperial government of the United States of America to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Moslem states and peoples, surrounding central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the pretext of fighting a war against international terrorism or eliminating weapons of mass destruction or promoting democracy which is total nonsense.

For the past two hundred and sixteen years, the imperialist foreign policy of the United States of America since its foundation, has been predicated upon racism, aggression, genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes and outright genocide. At the dawn of the third millennium of humankind’s parlous existence, nothing has changed about the operational dynamics of American imperial policy. And we see this today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and what appears to be an illegal attack upon Iran.

Now the topic today is the Middle East Agenda : Oil, Dollar Hegemony and Islam. So, I’m only going to limit my comments to that subject. We have to begin the story with the Arab oil embargo in nineteen seventy-three. As you know in nineteen sixty-seven, Israel launched an illegal and preventive war against the surrounding Arab states, stole the land and ethnically cleansed the people. But eventually Egypt offered a Peace Treaty to Israel which Israel rejected and the Egyptians and the Arab states decided then to use force to recover their lands.

Israel almost collapsed, the United States and Europe came to their support by providing weapons and in reaction the Arab states imposed an oil embargo on the United States and Europe, and brought their economies to their knees. Whereupon, the then U.S Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger threatened them and said, this will never happen again, and if you do, we will prevent it. And it was not just a threat. The United States government then at that time, planned, prepared and conspired, to steal the oil of the Persian Gulf. They did not have the military capability to do this at that time, to carry out the Kissinger threat, which was also then repeated by the Ford administration, and the Carter administration under Harold Brown and Brzezinski.

So they put into planning an interventionary force, designed expressly for the purpose of stealing Arab oil fields, and that was called the rapid deployment force. And it took ten years of training, planning, positioning, and supply to build that interventionary force of that capability and eventually it was called the U.S. Central Command. The purpose of the U.S. Central Command is to steal and control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. And that’s exactly what the U.S. Central Command proceeded to do in the Bush Sr. war against Iraq, their first military expedition.

And as we know, that war exterminated probably two hundred thousand Iraqis. Half of them innocent civilians. Simply wiped out in a bombing campaign and a military expedition of unprecedented dimensions. But remember, it took fifteen years for the Pentagon and three different administrations both Republicans and Democrats to get the capability to do this. And then, when that genocide or conflict was over, what happened? The United States carved Iraq up into three pieces with their air force, the so-called no-fly zones, a zone for the Kurds in the North, a zone for the Shi’ah in the South, and the Sunni in the middle. Why? To destroy Iraq as an effectively viable state.

In his book, Clash of Civilizations, Huntington from Harvard who advised the Pentagon and advised the state department pointed out that the only Arab state with the capability to lead the Arab world and challenge the United States and Israel was Iraq. And so Iraq had to be destroyed, to maintain the domination of the United States and its proxy, Israel. And remember after nineteen seventy-three, whatever it was before then, Israel is nothing more than a catspaw of the United States. They do what America tells them to do. Otherwise Israel is nothing more than a failed state.

In addition then, to destroying Iraq as a state, carving it up into three pieces, was the decision to debilitate and destroy the Iraqi people. And so they continued the genocidal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq, that my colleagues, Denis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, so courageously resisted and finally resigned as a matter of principle, calling them by what they really were, genocide. The United States and Britain maliciously and criminally imposed genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq, that killed approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, all of whom were innocent civilians.

And when U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about the five hundred thousand dead children, she said that she thought the price was worth it. Now, I could have taken that statement to the International Court of Justice, and filed it against the United States as evidence of genocidal intent against the people of Iraq in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. And indeed I offered to do so to the then President of Iraq, but for whatever reasons he decided not to take these claims to the International Court of Justice.

And now, as you see, he is on trial in a total kangaroo court proceeding in Baghdad that is completely controlled and dominated by the United States government. So, 1.5 million Iraqis died as the result of these genocidal sanctions. And then came September 11. And we know for a fact that the Bush Jr. administration knew that a major terrorist attack was going to be launched on the United States. And they let it happen anyway deliberately and on purpose. Why? They wanted a pretext for war. And not just one war but for a long war which they are talking about today.

Indeed, from my research the war plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the war against Afghanistan were formulated as early as 1997. Enormous military forces fielded by that same U.S. Central Command, were already in and around and surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean before September 11. This war had been planned against Afghanistan. And armed, equipped, supplied, trained and war-gamed and ready to go. They just needed the pretext and that was September 11. Why? The United States wanted access to the oil and natural gas of Central Asia.

That had been a Pentagon objective since at least before the collapse of the Soviet Union in nineteen ninety-one. And the Nine Eleven attack gave them the pretext to make this major grab for the oil and gas of Central Asia. And they are there today with their bases, with their troops, in the surrounding countries in Central Asia. And of course in the process, obliterated, we don ‘t even have an estimate of the Muslims in Afghanistan who were killed in the air bombardment, twenty, twenty five thousand, maybe more, and tens of thousands of others starved to death and still suffering today.

But that, as we know from all the records was only the first step in the process. They wanted to finish the job in Iraq. And so immediately after September 11, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to update and operationalize the plans for attacking and invading Iraq. It had nothing at all to do with weapons of mass destruction. We in the peace movement in America had been saying that all along. The United Nations had determined there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These were lies designed to scaremonger the American people and Congress into supporting an illegal war of aggression, a Nuremberg crime against peace, against Iraq. And they told whatever lies and broke what international laws they had to break in order to attack Iraq.

And today the estimate, again we don’t know. Perhaps two hundred thousand people in Iraq had been killed outright by the United States, Britain, its allies, Australia in Iraq. And again, most of them civilians. Clearly if you add up what United States government has done to Iraq from August of 1990, when it imposed the genocidal economic embargo until today. The United States and Britain have inflicted outright genocide on the Muslim and Christian people of Iraq and they are predominately Muslim as we know.

Now comes the third step in the Pentagon’s pre-existing plan, to control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. It’ s sounds a bit like the plan that Hitler and the Nazis had in the 1930″s. Does it not? First go into Austria, then go into Czechoslovakia, then go into Poland. So first Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now Iran. And so now Iran is going to be the next victim of these outright criminals unless you and I can stop them.

Right now there are three aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf. And whenever they had put three aircraft carrier task forces over there, it’ s always to prepare for an attack. And according to Seymour Hersch, the award winning journalist, it will probably be an aerial bombardment, along the lines of what they did to Yugoslavia in 1999. As you remember there, seventy eight days of aerial bombardment by the United States and NATO with no authorization from the Security Council. Clearly illegal. Killing again, we don’t know the exact number outright, four to five thousand innocent civilians. And targeting civilian infrastructure, all up and down, from which the people still suffer today. The use of depleted uranium ammunitions, outbreaks of cancer are documented today.

So this is what, is being planned right now as we speak; an attack upon Iran. Using jet fighter aircraft, fighter bombers, on these three aircraft carrier task forces, using cruise missiles on submarines and of course Israel will be involved and have a role to play, doing exactly what the Americans tell them to do. In addition, it appears that if they attack Iran, they will also attack Syria. Yesterday, if you heard President Bush’s press conference in Vienna, he threatened Syria, right? There’s no other word for it. He threatened Syria.

These Neo-Conservatives want to take out Syria as a favour to Israel. Remember, many of these Neo-Conservatives are affiliated personally and professionally with the Likhud Party in Israel and Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Beirut, the man who exterminated twenty thousand Arabs in Lebanon, most of them, not all of them were Muslims. And in addition, slaughtered two thousand completely innocent Palestinian women, children and old men at Sabra and Shatila. Ariel Sharon, the man who went to Haram Al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad, (Peace Be Upon Him) ascended into heaven, and desecrated the Haram on September
28th, 2000, and deliberately provoked the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and has inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinian people since then. Close to thirty seven hundred Palestinians since then alone have been killed..most of them shot down like dogs in the street, and what has the Muslim world done about this?

My Palestinian friends tell me that they are worried that the government of Malaysia might recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. I certainly hope this is not true. We must treat the criminal apartheid regime in Israel, the same way the world treated the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa. If the United States attacks Iran, they will probably attack Syria with the Israeli air force and they will attack Lebanon to take out the Islamic resistance movement in southern Lebanon – Hezbollah that defended the legitimate rights of Lebanon and the Lebanese people and expelled the invading longstanding occupying Israeli army that had the full support of the United States government for over twenty years.

So they could attack Iran, Syria, Southern Lebanon and inflict yet another round of ethnic cleansing on the suffering Palestinian people. Remember Sharon and Likhud believe that Jordan is Palestine. And they want to drive as many Palestinians as possible out of their homes and into Jordan.

So if the United States as reported by Hersh and other reliable sources, goes ahead and attacks Iran, we could see warfare erupt all the way from Egypt to the border with India. This whole area convulsed in warfare. And who will be the primary victims of this war? Muslims. The United States could not care less about Muslim life. Look at the demonisation and victimisation of Muslims that we have seen inflicted by the United States and its surrogate, Israel. Look at Guantanamo, where six hundred Muslim men have been treated like dogs in a kennel. Pretty much the way the Nazis treated the Jews. Look at Abu Ghraib and the sadism and sexual exploitation and perversion of Muslims by their American captors. And the same thing has been done in Baghram in Afghanistan. And when Professor Sharif Bassiouni, the UN special rapporteur filed the report with the Security Council against US practices in Afghanistan, the Americans had Kofi Annan fire him. Just as they had Kofi Annan fire Mary Robinson, the UN high commissioner for human rights, when she protested what was going on down in Guantanamo.

The United States could not care less about Muslim life. And the same is true for the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. They would be happy to use nuclear weapons against Iran. They would be happy to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki against Muslims in Iran. It would create no problem at all for them. Indeed, I went to school with these Neo-Conservatives at the University of Chicago. Wolfowitz was there, Chalabi, Khalilzad, Shulsky, all the rest of them. I went through the exact same programme. Their mentor, Professor Leo Strauss. And who was his teacher in Germany and his sponsor? Professor Carl Schmitt who went on to become the most notorious Nazi law Professor of his day, justifying every atrocity that the Nazis inflicted on everyone. We must understand that these Neo-Conservatives are in fact Neo-Nazis. They have espoused the Nazi doctrine of Schmitt and Strauss and Machiavelli and Nietzsche, the ‘superman’. They are the supermen, and the Muslims are the scum of the earth.

Now, I do not believe the United States will initially start bombing Iran with nuclear weapons. But if things get out of control they are fully prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons. And here in our materials, you have the Pentagon’s Joint Publication 3-12, which you can get on the internet.. just do a Google search and read it. And you will see there dated fifteenth March 2005; nuclear, tactical nuclear weapons have been fully integrated into United States conventional forces.

So if Iran were to defend itself, human wave attacks, whatever, they will be happy to use nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Remember, these Neo-Nazis, Neo-Cons want to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They want to use tactical nuclear weapons, to be able to say to the rest of the world, you do what we tell you to do or else look what we did to the Iranians.

It’s a very serious situation. And this could even get further out of control. Remember that before Bush invaded Iraq, President Putin of Russia said that if he invades Iraq he could set off World War Three. Well, I interpreted that as an implicit threat. Even the famous American news broadcaster Walter Cronkite said that if Bush invaded Iraq he could set off World War Three. Two weeks ago we had the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; China, Russia and Iran. So again, if Bush were to attack Iran, he very well could set off a Third World War, a nuclear war. And that is where you come in.

Dr. Mahathir has had the vision to call for this conference to alert the entire world to the existential dangers presented by a US attack on Iran that could readily become nuclear, regional and global. And I am calling upon you to do whatever you can in cooperation with Dr. Mahathir and the Perdana Global Peace Foundation to head this off. Allah has given each and everyone of you skills that can be used in this endeavour. I can’t tell you what they are, but you yourself know what they are. And you must go to Dr. Mahathir. You must go to the Perdana Peace Foundation and say, “This is what I can do. These are my talents. These are my professional qualifications. These are my skills. This is my cheque book. Let me help. Let me prevent, let me help prevent a nuclear war, a possible final, cataclysmic Third World War.”

New comment section added January 15, 2012

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Washington’s Greater Middle East Agenda: War

Washington’s Greater Middle East Agenda: War – by Stephen Lendman

Targeting the Middle East’s rich oil and gas resources, Washington plans waring against the region one country at a time to replace independent regimes with client ones.

At issue is achieving total dominance over MENA (Middle East/North Africa) countries and Central Asia to Russia and China’s borders. Another key objective is removing or marginalizing their regional influence.

Russia is Washington’s main military rival. Between them, they control about 97% of the world’s nuclear arsenal with sophisticated delivery systems able to target strategic global sites.

China also has significant military strength. According to a 2009 Pentagon report, its naval forces alone are formidable.They number at least 260 vessels, including 75 or more major warships and over 60 submarines.

In addition, Beijing has hundreds of nuclear warheads, sophisticated delivery systems, and other strategic weapons. As a result, it’s the region’s dominant military power.

During Asia’s mid-November Bali summit, Obama sought anti-China coalition partners to enhance Washington’s regional position. Key is establishing military superiority.

Obama said America “is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.” Military spending amounts “will not – I repeat, will not – come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”

It does include escalating military tensions with China. Beijing is very mindful of US belligerence and quest for global dominance.

During his visit, Obama announced boosting America’s Australian presence as part of a broader military buildup targeting China and Eastern Russia.

Together with South Korea, America’s expanding its Asian footprint on Jeju Island with a strategic naval base for Aegis class attack ships. They’re equipped with sophisticated SM-3 interceptor missiles for offense, as well as powerful computers and tracking radar for first-strike capability.

In 2002, Seoul announced construction plans to accommodate Pentagon officials despite strong local opposition. Located south of Korea proper, Jeju is its only special autonomous province. It’s situated in the Korea Strait, Southwest of Jeollanam-do Province it separated from in 1946.

Japan lies Northeast, China due West. Jeju is in central Northeast Asia. Strategically located Southwest of Japan, East of China between the East China Sea and Korea Strait shipping lanes, Pentagon officials value its location to control key shipping lanes and regional waters.

China, of course, is concerned about America’s growing military presence that challenges its regional dominance.

Beijing also rivals Washington economically. The IMF’s 2011 World Economic Outlook shows it surpassing America by 2016, based on purchasing power parity (PPP).

It reflects an appropriate exchange rate between currencies as measured by the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.

China’s growth requires increasing amounts of resources, especially oil, gas, others for its industries, and enough food for its huge population.

Getting them puts them in direct competition with America that wants unchallenged global control. AFRICOM was established to secure it and deny Beijing and Russia access.

America tolerates no rivals. Economic, political and belligerent policies are employed to marginalize and eliminate them. In contrast, China and Russia establish relationships through mutually beneficial investments and other economic ties. Longer-term, they matter most.

Targeting Syria and Iran

Last winter, Syria’s externally generated uprising began. Orchestrating change like elsewhere in the region, Washington replicated its Libya model. Heavily armed insurgents are involved. So are Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon’s March 14 alliance, other Arab League partners, and Israel.

Regime change is planned. So far it’s short of war, but it’s coming if other measures fail. Middle East analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya calls the Syrian situation “complicated,” because of “several competing trends of opposition.”

Internal and external forces are involved. In Libya, NATO formed the Transitional National Council (TNC) to replace Gaddafi and Jamahiriya government. Proxy Syrian National Council (SNC) members were enlisted to replace Bashar al-Assad’s regime after it’s ousted.

Internal conflict’s raged for months to “isolate, cripple, and subjugate Damascus.” Given Syria’s military capability, expect protracted conflict and violence to continue.

However, disturbing reports about hundreds of US and NATO Special Forces massing on Syria’s border may tip the balance of power if using them for combat operations is planned, especially if combined with air operations.

According to former FBI whisleblower Sibel Edmonds, Washington and other NATO partners have a “secret training camp” at America’s Incirlik, Turkey air base. In April, it began “organiz(ing) and expand(ing)” Syrian dissidents.

Edmonds says Washington and NATO forces are also training Turkish troops for a possible Syria strike. In addition, US forces from Iraq’s Ain al-Assad base were transferred to Jordan on December 8 instead of returning home.

Obama’s cynical Fort Bragg speech about withdrawing US forces from Iraq, in fact, concealed their regional repositioning and continued Iraq presence on major bases America will keep operating.

In fact, it plans increased numbers of regional forces through one or more Libyan bases, larger force contingents in Kuwait, expanded ties with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, and a greater overall regional footprint to establish an enhanced “security architecture” to integrate air, ground, and naval units for future combat missions.

Israel’s Mossad-connected DEBKAFile also said “American special forces troops have been diverted to positions in Jordan opposite a Syrian tank concentration building up across the kingdom’s northern border.”

In addition, America’s naval presence includes additional warships and attack boats, perhaps there for combat, not saber rattling.

Edmonds said NATO forces have conducted training operations near Syria’s border since May. Until now, Western media scoundrels suppressed it. Still, little about it is reported. The situation bears watching, including hostile anti-Iranian rhetoric.

Washington claims Tehran threatens world peace, saying its commercial nuclear program plans nuclear weapons development, despite no evidence proving it.

In October, Washington falsely charged Iran with plotting to kill Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador. The accusation sounded more like a bad film plot than real intent. Laughable on its face, it was baseless propaganda.

In November, outdated, forged, long ago discredited, and perhaps nonexistent documents were used to claim Iran’s developing nuclear weapons. Again, no credible evidence proves it. Instead, baseless accusations were used to justify Washington’s claim about Iran threatening world peace.

America and Israel alone hold that distinction along with Arab League client states supporting their rogue agendas.

On December 15, Manhattan Federal Judge George Daniels said he’ll sign an order accusing Iran, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

In response to a lawsuit brought by family members of 9/11 victims, he claimed Iran provided material support to Al Qaeda, based on spurious testimonies from three Iranian defectors whose affidavits remained sealed during court proceedings.

Expert witnesses never appeared in court to refute them. Instead Judge Daniels relied solely on anti-Iranian operatives, making baseless accusations without evidence.

Testimonies given were false. Iran, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda had nothing to do with a plot hatched in Washington to initiate America’s global war on terror. Ravaging the world one country at a time was planned.

It remains ongoing across the Middle East and Central Asia. Syria and now Iran are targeted. At issue is regime change throughout the region to install subservient client states.

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. Expect belligerence to persist longer-term. The business of America is war. Waging them alone matters. New targets replace subdued ones. Nations are pillaged for wealth, power and dominance. War profiteers want them fought, win, lose or draw.

Iran is hugely important. It has about 10% of proved world oil reserves. It’s second only to Russia in gas resources with about 33 trillion cubic meters. In fact, after a potentially huge new Caspian Sea discovery, it may rank first.

Washington covets Iran’s mineral wealth to control its supply, price, what nations get access in what amounts, and which ones don’t. Regionally, Iran’s the remaining crown jewel. Washington’s longstanding policy is replacing its government with a subservient client regime.

On December 16, Obama told the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism that America will continue pressuring Iran with “no options off the table.”

One of them is war. Battleground belligerence could rage across the entire Mediterranean Basin through Central Asia to Russia and China’s borders.

As a result, general war may follow. America’s key rivals may enter. Their interests very much are at stake. Nuclear weapons could be used.

Preventing potentially global catastrophic destruction is crucial before it’s too late to matter.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 12:33 AM

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Saturday, January 21st, 2012 | Posted by

Iran Crisis – Follow The money, It’s All About Petrodollars

by Allen L Roland

As Obama refuses to acknowledge that Obamanomics is rapidly sinking ~ a closer look at the Iran crisis reveals, if you follow the money, that the real issue is petrodollars in that Iran is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia as it has already done with China and Japan. As such, Regime Change is now the goal of the Obama administration as it was in 2000 when Iraq’s late Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar and recently when Libya’s late Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar as currency for his energy resources.

Its classic good cop / bad cop with Obama positioning himself as the good cop who is trying to restrain an impetuous Israel who wants to attack Iran. Things got a little too dicey last week, with the Mossad assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, so Obama cancelled the joint war games with Israel ~ particularly since Israel still refuses to agree not to launch preemptive action against Iran without U.S. approval.

Here’s an insightful update from Real news with Paul Jay and investigative reporter Gareth Porter 14 minute Video 

US Israeli War-games Canceled

But as Pepe Escobar writes ~ “ This larger-than-life psychodrama we call “Iran” may turn out to be as much about China and the U.S. dollar as it is about the politics of the Persian Gulf or Iran’s nonexistent bomb .”

To get a handle on this psychodrama , we have to follow the money and that means the implied threat to petrodollars ~ which send shivers up the spine of the global financial elite. Escobar elaborates ~ “…consider 2012 the start-up year as well for a possibly massive defection from the dollar as the global currency of choice. As perception is indeed reality, imagine the real world ~ mostly the global South ~ doing the necessary math and, little by little, beginning to do business in their own currencies and investing ever less of any surplus in U.S. Treasury bonds.” 

Excerpt: “ That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles — a similar move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan.  As for India, an economic powerhouse in the neighborhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil, a trade that, in the long run, is similarly unlikely to be conducted in dollars….Translation, if any was needed: in the near future, with the Europeans out of the mix, virtually none of Iran’s oil will be traded in dollars. In this context, it’s worth remembering that in September 2000 Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar as the currency of payment for Iraq’s oil, and moved to the euro. In March 2003, Iraq was invaded and the inevitable regime change occurred. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar both as Africa’s common currency and as the currency of payment for his country’s energy resources. Another intervention and another regime change followed.”  See full story: 

So what we are really talking about now with Iran, as it was with Iraq and Libya, is REGIME CHANGE ~ for Obamanomics, like the Titanic, will surely sink unless those precious Eurodollars are investing in the ever growing surplus of U.S. Treasury bonds.

Pepe compares it to Poe’s classic  The Pit and the Pendulum  ~ “ If this were an economic rewrite of Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Iran would be but one cog in an infernal machine slowly shredding the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Still, it’s the cog that Washington is now focused on.  They have regime change on the brain.  All that’s needed is a spark to start the fire (in — one hastens to add — all sorts of directions that are bound to catch Washington off guard).”

As Petrodollar expert William Clark writes regarding Petrodollar Warfare ~ “the upcoming Iran bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world – global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand its debt-financing via issuance of U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s international demand/liquidity value will fall.”   See story

To make it simple, Obama is captain of a sinking ship, overloaded with ever increasing debt, but he still stands on the bow convinced he is flying when in reality he is just one spark, or a few minutes, or days away from a complete economic disaster.


About the Author: Allen L Roland is a Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist. He is also a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his web site at AllenRoland.com. He also guest hosts a Truthtalk, a national radio show that airs monthly. He is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations via email at allen@allenroland.com.

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NATO’s War on Libya is Directed against China: AFRICOM and the Threat to China’s National Energy Security
by F. William Engdahl
Global Research, September 25, 2011
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MAP above. Africom’s regional interests. Copyright Stratcom 2011


The Washington-led decision by NATO to bomb Gaddafi’s Libya into submission over recent months, at an estimated cost to US taxpayers of at least $1 billion, has little if anything to do with what the Obama Administration claims was a mission to “protect innocent civilians.” In reality it is part of a larger strategic assault by NATO and by the Pentagon in particular to entirely control China’s economic achilles heel, namely China’s strategic dependence on large volumes of imported crude oil and gas. Today China is the world’s second largest importer of oil after the United States and the gap is rapidly closing.

 

If we take a careful look at a map of Africa and also look at the African organization of the new Pentagon Africa Command—AFRICOM—the pattern that emerges is a careful strategy of controlling one of China’s most strategically important oil and raw materials sources.

 

NATO’s Libya campaign was and is all about oil. But not about simply controlling Libyan high-grade crude because the USA is nervous about reliable foreign supplies. It rather is about controlling China’s free access to long-term oil imports from Africa and from the Middle East. In other words, it is about controlling China itself.

 

Libya geographically is bounded to its north by the Mediterranean directly across from Italy, where Italian ENI oil company has been the largest foreign operator in Libya for years. To its west it is bounded by Tunisia and by Algeria. To its south it is bounded by Chad. To its east it is bounded by both Sudan (today Sudan and Southern Sudan) and by Egypt. That should tell something about the strategic importance of Libya from the standpoint of the Pentagon’s AFRICOM long-term strategy for controlling Africa and its resources and which country is able to get those resources. 

 

Gaddafi’s Libya had maintained strict national state control over the rich reserves of high quality “light, sweet” Libyan crude oil. As of 2006 data Libya had the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, some 35%, larger even than Nigeria. Oil consessions had been extended to Chinese state oil companies as well as Russian and others in recent years. Not surprisingly a spokesman from the so-called opposition claiming victory over Gaddafi, Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters, “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” China and Russia and Brazil either opposed UN sanctions on Libya or pressed for a negotiated settlement of the internal conflict and an end to NATO bombing.

 

As I have detailed elsewhere,1  Gaddafi, an old adherent of Arab socialism on the line of Egypt’s Gamal Nasser, used the oil revenues to improve the lot of his people. Health care was free as was education. Each Libyan family was given a state grant of $50000 towards buying a new house and all bank loans were according to Islamic anti-usury laws, interest free. The state was also free of debt. Only by bribery and massive infiltration into the tribal opposition areas of the eastern part of the country could the CIA, MI6 and other NATO intelligence operatives, at an estimated cost of $1 billion, and massive NATO bombing of civilians, destabilize the strong ties between Gaddafi and his people.

 

Why then did NATO and the Pentagon lead such a mad and destructive assault on a peaceful sovereign country? Clear is that one of the prime reasons was to complete the encirclement of China’s oil and vital raw material sources across northern Africa.

 

Pentagon alarm over China

 

Step-by-step in the past several years Washington had begun to create the perception that China, which was the “dear friend and ally of America” less than a decade ago, was becoming the greatest threat to world peace because of China’s enormous economic expansion. The painting of China as a new “enemy” has been complex as Washington is dependent on China to buy the lion’s share of the US Government debt in the form of Treasury paper.

 

In August the Pentagon released its annual report to Congress on China’s military status. 2 This year the report sent alarm bells ringing across China for a strident new tone. The report stated among other things, “Over the past decade, China’s military has benefited from robust investment in modern hardware and technology. Many modern systems have reached maturity and others will become operational in the next few years,” the Pentagon said in the report. It added that “there remains uncertainty about how China will use its growing capabilities… China’s rise as a major international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.”3

 

In a matter of perhaps two to five years, depending on how the rest of the world reacts or plays their cards, the Peoples’ Republic of China will emerge in the controlled Western media painted as the new “Hitler Germany.” If that seems hard to believe today, just reflect on how that was done with former Washington allies such as Egypt’s Mubarak or even Saddam Hussein. In June this year, former US Secretary of the Navy and now US Senator from Virginia, James Webb, startled many in Beijing when he told press that China was fast approaching what he called a “Munich moment,” when Washington must decide how to maintain a strategic balance, a reference to the 1938 crisis over Czechoslovakia when Chamberlain opted for appeasement with Hitler over Czechoslovakia. Webb added, “If you look at the last 10 years, the strategic winner has been China.” 4

 

The same massively effective propaganda machine of the Pentagon, led by CNN, BBC, the New York Times or London Guardian will get the subtle command from Washington to “paint China and its leaders black.” China is becoming far too strong and far too independent for many in Washington and in Wall Street. To control that, above all China’s oil import dependency has been identified as her Achilles Heel. Libya is a move to strike directly at that vulnerable Achilles heel.

 

China moves into Africa

 

The involvement of Chinese energy and raw materials companies across Africa had become a major cause of alarm in Washington where an attitude of malign neglect had dominated Washington Africa policy since the Cold War era. As its future energy needs became obvious several years ago China began a major African economic diplomacy which reached a crescendo in 2006 when Beijing literally rolled out the red carpet to heads of more than forty African states and discussed a broad range of economic issues. None were more important for Beijing than securing future African oil resources for China’s robust industrialization.

 

China moved into countries which had been virtually abandoned by former European colonial powers like France or Britain or Portugal.

 

Chad is a case in point. The poorest and most geographically isolated African countries, Chad was courted by Beijing which resumed diplomatic ties in 2006.    

 

In October 2007 China’s state oil giant CNPC signed a contract to build a refinery jointly with Chad’s government. Two years later they began construction of an oil pipeline to carry oil from a new Chinese field in the south some 300 kilometers to the refinery. Western-supported NGO’s predictably began howling about environmental impacts of the Chinese oil pipeline. The same NGOs were curiously silent when Chevron struck oil in 2003 in Chad. In July 2011 the two countries, Chad and China celebrated opening of the joint venture oil refinery near Chad’s capital of Ndjamena. 5 Chad’s Chinese oil activities are strikingly close to another major Chinese oil project in what then was Sudan’s Darfur region bordering Chad.

 

Sudan had been a growing source of oil flows to China since cooperation began in the late 1990s after Chevron abandoned its stake there. By 1998 CNPC was building a 1500 km long oil pipeline from southern Sudan oilfields to Port Sudan on the Red Sea as well as building a major oil refinery near Khartoum. Sudan was the first large overseas oilfield project operated by China. By the beginning of 2011 Sudan oil, most all from the conflict-torn south, provided some 10% of China’s oil imports from taking more than 60% of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels. Sudan had become a point of vital Chinese national energy security.

 

According to geological estimates, the subsurface running from Darfur in what was southern Sudan through Chad into Cameroon is one giagantic oil field in extent perhaps equivalent to a new Saudi Arabia. Controlling southern Sudan as well as Chad and Cameroon is vital to the Pentagon strategy of “strategic denial” to China of their future oil flows. So long as a stable and robust Ghaddafi regime remained in power in Tripoli that control remained a major problem. The simultaneous splitting off of the Republic of South Sudan from Khartoum and the toppling of Ghaddafi in favor of weak rebel bands beholden to Pentagon support was for the Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance of strategic priority. 

 

AFRICOM responds

 

The key force behind the recent wave of Western military attacks against Libya or more covert regime changes such as those in Tunisia, Egypt and the fateful referendum in southern Sudan which has now made that oil-rich region “independent” has been AFRICOM, the special US military command established by the Bush Administration in 2008 explicitly to counter the growing Chinese influence over Africa’s vast oil and mineral wealth.

 

In late 2007, Dr. J. Peter Pham, a Washington insider who advises the US State and Defense Departments, stated openly that among the aims of the new AFRICOM, is the objective of protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance … a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” 6

 

In testimony before the US Congress supporting creation of AFRICOM in 2007, Pham, who is associated with the neo-conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stated:

 

“This natural wealth makes Africa an inviting target for the attentions of the People’s Republic of China, whose dynamic economy…has an almost insatiable thirst for oil as well as a need for other natural resources to sustain it…China is currently importing approximately 2.6 million barrels of crude per day, about half of its consumption; more than 765,000 of those barrels—roughly a third of its imports—come from African sources, especially Sudan, Angola, and Congo (Brazzaville). Is it any wonder, then, that…perhaps no other foreign region rivals Africa as the object of Beijing’s sustained strategic interest in recent years…


Intentionally or not, many analysts expect that Africa—especially the states along its oil-rich western coastline—will increasingly becoming a theatre for strategic competition between the United States and its only real near-peer competitor on the global stage, China, as both countries seek to expand their influence and secure access to resources.”7

 

It is useful to briefly recall the sequence of Washington-sponsored “Twitter” revolutions in the ongoing so-called Arab Spring. The first was Tunisia, an apparently insignificant land on north Africa’s Mediterranean. However Tunisia is on the western border of Libya. The second domino to fall in the process was Mubarak’s Egypt. That created major instability across the Middle East into north Africa as Mubarak for all his flaws had fiercely resisted Washington Middle East pollicy. Israel also lost a secure ally when Mubarak fell.  

 

Then in  July 2011 Southern Sudan declared itself the independent Republic of South Sudan, breaking away from Sudan after years of US-backed insurgency against Khartoum rule. The new Republic takes with it the bulk of Sudan’s known oil riches, something clearly not causing joy in Beijing. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, led the US delegation to the independence celebrations, calling it “a testament to the Southern Sudanese people.” She added, in terms of making the secssion happen, “the US has been as active as anyone.” US President Obama openly supported seccession of the south. The breakaway was a project guided and financed from Washington since the Bush Administration decided to make it a priority in 2004. 8          

 

Now Sudan has suddenly lost its main source of hard currency oil revenue. The secession of the south, where three-quarters of Sudan’s 490 000 barrels a day of oil is produced, has aggravated economic difficulties in Khartoum cutting some 37% off its total revenues. Sudan’s only oil refineries and the only export route run north from oilfields to Port Sudan on the Red Sea in northern Sudan. South Sudan is now being encouraged by Washington to build a new export pipeline independent of Khartoum via Kenya. Kenya is one of the areas of strongest US military influence in Africa.9

 

The aim of the US-led regime change in Libya as well as the entire Greater Middle East Project which lies behind the Arab Spring is to secure absolute control over the world’s largest known oil fields to control future policies in especially countries like China. As then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is reported to have said during the 1970’s when he was arguably more powerful than the President of the United States, “If you control the oil you control entire nations or groups of nations.”

For the future national energy security of China the ultimate answer lies in finding secure domestic energy reserves. Fortunately there are revolutionary new methods to detect and map presence of oil and gas where even the best current geology says oil is not to be found. Perhaps therein lies a way out of the oil trap that has been laid for China. In my newest book, The Energy Wars I detail such new methods for those interested.

 

 

F. William Engdahl is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

 Notes

1 F. William Engdahl, Creative Destruction: Libya in Washington’s Greater Middle East Project–Part II, March 26, 2011, accessed in http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23961

2 Office of the Secretary of Defense, ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2011, August 25, 2011, accessed in www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/2011_cmpr_final.pdf.

3 Ibid.

4 Charles Hoskinson, DOD report outlines China concerns, August 25, 2011, accessed in http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/62027.htmlhttp://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/62027.html

5  Xinhua, China-Chad joint oil refinery starts operating, July 1, 2011, acessed in http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/7426213.html. BBC News, Chad pipeline threatens villages, 9 October 2009, accessed in http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8298525.stm.

6 F. William Engdahl, China and the Congo Wars: AFRICOM. America’s New Military Command, November 26, 2008, accessed in http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11173

7 Ibid.

8 Rebecca Hamilton, US Played Key Role in Southern Sudan’s Long Journey to Independence, July 9, 2011, accessed in http://pulitzercenter.org/articles/south-sudan-independence-khartoum-southern-kordofan-us-administration-role

9 Maram Mazen, South Sudan studies new export routes to bypass the north, March 12, 2011, accessed in http://www.gasandoil.com/news/2011/03/south-sudan-studies-routes-other-than-north-for-oil-exports

F. William Engdahl is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by F. William Engdahl

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Pentagon created Arab Spring over decade ago’

F. William Engdahl
Russia Today
Sat, 31 Dec 2011 07:28 CST
The Arab Spring uprisings were arguably the most significant events of the last 12 months. Protests are still raging across the region, even after regimes were toppled. Journalist and author F. William Engdahl gives his view on the Arab world in 2012.>

Arab Spring: Western ploy to loot, control Eurasia : F. William Engdahl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZuamjIOEoQNov 5, 2011 – 12 min – Uploaded by ricthuse
William F. Engdahl believes the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa down through Iran ..

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Pentagon created Arab Spring over decade ago’ – YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1eu7F7m0nIDec 31, 2011 – 5 min – Uploaded by RussiaToday
The Arab Spring uprisings were arguably the most significant events of the last 12 months. Protests are still

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VIDEO: William Engdahl: Covert Economic Warfare: “The Gods of Money”
US Will Not Recover for at Least 15 Years
by F. William Engdahl
Global Research, April 7, 2010
Russia Today – 2010-04-05
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RT speaks to renowned economist William Engdahl, who shares his views on the recent Greek crisis, and the role American corporations played in it.

F. William Engdahl is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by F. William Engdahl

SEE this and others HERE

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The Greater Middle East Project

“Hegemony is as old as Mankind…” -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor

The Greater Middle East is a political term coined by the Bush administration to describe a project known as the Great Middle East Project which was considered the pinnacle of the Bush era.

The Great Middle East Project is a plan which englobe together various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world, specifically Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included. US political speakers used the term to denote areas with significant Muslim majorities, but this usage is not universal.

This expanded term was introduced in the U.S. administration’s preparatory work for the G8 summit of 2004 as part of a proposal for sweeping change in the Middle East.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, alluded to the modern Middle East as a control lever on an area he calls the Eurasian Balkans. The Eurasian Balkans consists of the Caucasus (Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) and Turkey. Turkey forms the northernmost part of the Middle East. Turkey’s Western lands (i.e. the Eastern Thrace and the areas around Istanbul) are considered a part of the Southeastern Europe, and not the Middle East.

US Imperial aspirations

The Bush administration justified the invasion of Iraq on three pretexts. The first was the war on terror declared after 11 September 2001; against all the evidence, Saddam Hussein was presented in the United States as an accomplice, if not a sponsor, of Osama bin Laden. The second argument was the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the information the US and the United Kingdom provided about this subject was untruthful. As the first two faded, a third grew in importance: Washington promised to make Iraq so attractive a democratic model that it would set an example to the entire Middle East.

On 26 February 2003, on the eve of the Iraq invasion, Bush set out his ambition to spread democratic values in the Middle East before the American Enterprise Institute thinktank, a hangout of neo-cons and unconditional supporters of Israel. Then on 9 May 2003, to show the kind of values that needed spreading, he proposed “the establishment of a US-Middle East free trade area within a decade”.

The Canadian Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor and human rights specialist, adopted a disaffected tone, the better to convince his readers when vaunting the merits of the US empire, which he essentially described as an “empire of good”. The US, he claimed, was “an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known”. As his lengthy defense built to a finale, he declared: “The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike.”

Yet the occupation of Iraq, and the horrors that followed has only compounded US legitimacy problems. For most people of the region, it has only reinforced their view that the US is more interested in oil and its dominant military position than it is in the welfare of the Iraqi people.

Muslim peoples have long been familiar with the US hypocrisy; from it stems their incredulity, tinged with irony, about Washington’s promises of democracy.

The Greater Middle East as an alternative plan

On 6 November 2003 he gave a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, a U.S. non-profit organization that was founded in 1983 to promote US-friendly democracy by providing cash grants funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress. His main theme was democracy in the Muslim world, and he illustrated his flexible concept of it, commending the leaders of a long list of autocratic countries – Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan and even the Saudi monarchy – while condemning the “Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform”.

On 13 February the liberal Arabic daily Al-Hayat, based in London, published a working paper, “G8-Greater Middle East Partnership”, which Washington circulated to G8 leaders’ aides preparatory to a summit scheduled for June in Sea Island, Georgia. The paper detailed levels of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in Arab countries to alarm G8 members, whose common interests are thought to be threatened by “an increase in extremism, terrorism, international crime and illegal migration”.

The paper the offered the answer to the troubles of the Arab region, by creating a Greater Middle East Development Bank on the model of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (Ignoring the fact that Arab countries already have one such institution – Afsed – but it is not run by Western countries); create free zones (there are already several in Arab countries); and press for countries to join the World Trade Organisation and for the reforms that this would require.

Arab World Reception of the Project

After its disclosure by Al-Hayat, the plan detailed sparked a fire fanned by criticism in the Arab world. These began with its definition of the Greater Middle East: besides the Arab countries, it covers Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, which share no common denominator with the Arab world.

This reflected the politico-strategic priorities the US persuades its Western partners to adopt, because there is no geographical, cultural or economic reason to justify such a grouping. Such a logic could not be accepted by the governments of the countries, or their peoples, except for Israel, which strongly shares Washington’s strategic priorities because the other countries are its main causes for concern.

One of the first and angriest Arab critiques of the paper came from Egypt, by the chief editor of the Arab Human Development Report, the Egyptian Nader Fergany. Angry at the way Washington appropriated the report, he published an article in Al-Hayat stressing that the US procedure, leaving little time for its G8 partners, let alone the Arab states, to comment on the project, indicated “the arrogant mentality of the current US administration in respect of the rest of the world, which causes it to behave as if it can decide the fate of states and peoples”.

Fergany took issue with the paper for applying the data in a study of the Arab countries to a huge, mainly Muslim but highly disparate geographic area, deemed by the neo-cons to be a source of terrorism, while disregarding the specificities of the countries. He outlined the main reason to reject the project: it was “imposed from the outside”.

Fergany criticized the US desire to impose its economic model on the Middle East. The paper ignored the main problems of the Arab world, postulating the integration of Israel into the regional fabric without mention of Palestinian rights.

Even that far away  from today’s event, Fergany called on Arab states to reject the US project, and with the most accurate foresight, he stressed that rejection would be in vain if they did not make a genuine effort to promote endogenous reform, the renaissance of the Arab world.

This prospect was again outlined in the UNDP-Afsed report of October 2003, which warned against a US plan to replace state-run monopolies with private-sector monopolies to better serve its interests in the Middle East.

Because of the absolute lack of credibility of the US, the reason why even the most fervent supporters of change in the Arab world rejected the Greater Middle East Project.

And the fierce hostility to the Bush administration in Arab countries, and the suspicion of everything emanating from it, has prompted Washington’s main allies and Arab protégés – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – to distance themselves from the US initiative.

Ousted President Mubarak even led the anti camp to defend himself from the reactions the initiative will provoke. After voicing his reservations, he flew to Riyadh to issue a statement with his Saudi hosts rejecting “the imposition of a specific prototype of reform on Arab and Muslim countries from abroad”.

US Reaction & alternative initiative

Faced with this outcry, the Bush administration desperately fought for their ambitious Plan. The State Department was sent to Washington’s Arab allies, to further promote the economical “advantages” of the “Greater Middle East”, declaring in Brussels that the next US/ EU and Nato summits, in Dublin and Istanbul, should discuss reform in the “Greater Middle East” as will the G8 scheduled for June. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, declared in Kuwait that Washington was counting on the Arab states to address the issue before the G8 meeting.

Reading between the lines, the US’s Arab allies were preparing to re-float a Saudi initiative that was inspired by Washington, but less “aggressive” at the 2003 Arab League summit. But in that summit, Crown Prince Abdulluh’s initiative was rendered politically untimely by regional tensions, the Iraqi crisis and warnings from some of his peers not to submit to Washington’s wishes.

The Saudi initiative died before birth, and the Greater Middle East Project was never spoken about again in Arab media.

But that does not mean it met the same fate of its Saudi counterpart, after all the Bush administration invested millions of dollars in that particular “Project” and they were not about to see this money go to waste, not to mention that the US saw the project as a key for protecting and advancing the US Business Interests in the Arab region.

In his 2004 State of the Union Address, Bush requested a doubling of NED (The National Endowment for Democracy) funding, from $40 million to $80 million, with all of the new funding to be aimed specifically at democracy promotion in the Middle East.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a semi-private, nonprofit organization created in 1983 to strengthen
democratic institutions around the world through non-governmental efforts.

A report commissioned by USAID determined the following funds pumped into DG (democracy and governance) assistance for countries in the MENA region between 1990 and 2004:

Algeria ($3.7 million in 8 years)
Bahrain ($1.3 million in 2 years)
Egypt ($334.3 million in 14 years)
Iraq ($523.6 million in 3 years)
Jordan ($28.3 million in 5 years)
Lebanon ($28.5 million in 11 years)
Morocco ($3.6 million in 7 years)
Oman ($0.6 million in 2 years)
Qatar ($0.8 million in 1 year)
Saudi Arabia ($0.4 million in 1 year)
Tunisia ($11.2 million in 5 years)
Turkey ($0.9 million in 4 years)
West Bank and Gaza ($155.4 million in 11 years)
Yemen ($6.6 million in 8 years)

That is particularly why the plan was kept alive, but in the shadows, under a low key profile and a less provocative name. The Wikipedia states that the Greater Middle East is sometimes referred to as “The New Middle East”.

References:

For an ingenuous presentation  programme to democratise the Middle East, read Victor Davis Hanson, “Democracy in the Middle East: It’s the hardheaded solution”, in the neoconservatives’ house organ, The Weekly Standard, 21 October 2002.

George Bush, “President Discusses the Future of Iraq” Office of the Press Secretary, White House, 26 February 2003.

George Bush, “Remarks by the President in Commencement Address at the University of South Carolina”, White House, 9 May 2003.

Michael Ignatieff. “The Burden”. the New York Times Magazine, 5 January 2003.

Ignatieff had to publish a retraction: “The Year of Living ,Dangerously”, New York Times Magazine, 14 March 2004

Adam Garfinkle, “The Impossible Imperative? Conjuring Arab Democracy”, The National Interest, autumn 2002

Thomas Carothers, “Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror” , Foreign Affairs, January/February 2003.

Sherle Schwenninger “Revamping American Grand Strategy”, World Policy Journal, autumn 2003

“Remarks by the President at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, US Chamber of Commerce” White House, 6 November 2003.

The text is on the daily’s Englishlanguage website www. english.daralhayat.com

UNDP and Afsed Arab Human Development Report2002 and Arab Human Development Report 2003, New York both at http://www.undp.org/

Note illegal immigration is associated with other scourges.

Nader Fergany “Critique of the Greater Middle East project: the Arabs sorely need to refuse a reform from abroad” (in Arabic), A l Hayat 19 February 2004.

As a reprisal, the Bush administration has considerably reduced the US contribution to the UNDP budget already passed by Congress.

Moncef Marzouki “The US project for democracy in the Greater Middle East Yes, but with whom?” (in Arabic), AlHayat 23 February 2004.

Nevine Khalil, “Winds of Change” A lAhram Weekly Cairo, 26 February 2004.

Amira Howeidy “SwanSong for Arab Unity”, A1-Ahram Weekly 6 March 2003.

Sources:
Wikipedia: The Greater Middle East Project
Wikipedia: American democracy promotion in the Middle East and North Africa
Greater Middle East Partnership The text of a “working paper” circulated by the United States in preparation for the G-8 summit scheduled for June 2004.
The Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative: An Overview, CRS Report for Congress
‘TRANSFORMING THE MIDDLE EAST’ A Research Paper, by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, The Washington Post
THE GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE: REGIME CHANGE, NEO-LIBERALISM AND THE US GLOBAL HEGEMONY, a research paper by Eddie J. Girdner
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, Briefing, Brussels/Amman, 7 June 2004
Greater Middle East Initiative: Off to a False Start, paper by Carnegie Endowment
On the Greater Middle East , article by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed in Al-Ahram Weekly, 2004.
كتاب:
مشروع الشرق الأوسط الكبير
ماجد كيالي
كتاب:
الشرق الأوسط الكبير ، تأليف محمد الخولي صدر عن دار الهلال في 2008
قراءة في كتاب أوهام مشروع الشرق الاوسط الجديد لمؤلفه الدكتور محمد أحمد النابلسي
بوش يخترع الشرق الأوسط الكبير
شبكة الصحافة غير المنحازة
22 نيسان (أبريل) 2004
بوش: خيارنا الديموقراطية في “الشرق الأوسط الأكبر”
المستقبل – الاربعاء 18 فبراير2004

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from a french paper

FANTASY OF A REGION THAT DOESN’T EXIST

Greater Middle East: the US plan

The assassination of Sheikh Yassin threatens any debate on Washington’s plan for the Arab world. The latest US ambition is to strengthen its grip on Middle Eastern oil wealth and markets and extend its network of military bases and facilities, all in the name of democratisation.
by Gilbert Achcar

THE Bush administration justified the invasion of Iraq on three pretexts. The first was the war on terror declared after 11 September 2001; against all the evidence, Saddam Hussein was presented in the United States as an accomplice, if not a sponsor, of Osama bin Laden. The second argument was the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the information the US and the United Kingdom provided about this subject was untruthful. As the first two faded, a third grew in import ance: Washington promised to make Iraq so attractive a democratic model that it would set an example to the entire Middle East.

This argument, advanced with the other two since the campaign against Baghdad began, has been spread most zealously by the Bush administration’s neo-conservative friends, active in Pentagon circles (1). On 26 February 2003, on the eve of the Iraq invasion, Bush set out his ambition to spread democratic values in the Middle East before the American Enterprise Institute thinktank, a hangout of neo-cons and unconditional supporters of Israel. He boasted that he had borrowed 20 of the institute’s minds for his administration (2). Then on 9 May 2003, to show the kind of values that needed spreading, he proposed “the establishment of a US-Middle East free trade area within a decade” (3).

This argument garnered support from some Clinton-era proponents of humanitarian war, who continued to back a strong-arm approach under Bush. The Canadian Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor and human rights specialist, deployed sophisticated arguments when supporting an administration that reasoned more crudely. In an essay in January 2003 in the New York Times Magazine, he adopted a disaffected tone, the better to convince his readers when vaunting the merits of the US empire, which he essentially described as an “empire of good”. The US, he claimed, was “an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known” (4). As his lengthy defence built to a finale, he declared: “The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike.” Hindsight has shown that to be wrong (5).

In contrast to this idealistic praise from liberals (liberal in the US sense of progressive), the Bush administration’s hubristic aim of bringing democracy to the Muslim world, and to Iraq in particular, has aroused fierce criticism from conservative realists. In autumn 2002 Adam Garfinkle, editor of The National Interest, their leading journal, warned that such an approach was naive. His first objection concerned the “democracy paradox” defined by another Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington: in some regions of the world, democracy can foster forces hostile to its paragon, the West. The Muslim world, where hostility to the US is greatest, best illustrates the rule. Garfinkle’s second objection was that a campaign for democracy in the Arab world “does presuppose either a major shift in US attitudes toward the undemo cratic ruling classes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others that we have long called our friends; or a permanent condition of blatant diplomatic hypocrisy” (6).

Muslim peoples have long been familiar with this hypocrisy; from it stems their incredulity, tinged with irony, about Washington’s promises of democracy. This is underscored in the US by sincere supporters of democracy. A year ago Thomas Carothers, researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, criticised the split personality of Bush and his team: “Bush the realist actively cultivates warm relations with friendly tyrants in many parts of the world, while Bush the neo-Reaganite makes ringing calls for a vigorous new democracy campaign in the Middle East” (7).

In an article on US strategy, Sherle Schwenninger, co-director of global economic policy at the New America Foundation, pointed out that “the essence of US policy over the last three decades has been antithetical to Arab democracy and self-determination”. Every president has pursued the same strategy based on three pillars that have alienated Arab peoples: “the subsidisation of the defence of Israel and the promotion of some kind of peace process; the encouragement of pro-US governments in Egypt and Jordan; and the nurturing of a close alliance relationship with the ruling families of the Persian Gulf oil-producing states, especially with the royal family of Saudi Arabia . . . Yet the occupation of Iraq has only compounded US legitimacy problems. For most people of the region, it has only reinforced their view that the US is more interested in oil and its dominant military position than it is in the welfare of the Iraqi people” (8).

The absence of WMD in Iraq and the dynamic of a situation marked by Iraqis’ deep defiance, if not outright hostility, to the US, prompted Bush to turn up the volume of the democracy argument. On 6 November 2003 he gave a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, a bipartisan thinktank set up in 1983 with the backing of the Reagan administration, which had convened at the US chamber of commerce. His main theme was democracy in the Muslim world, and he illustrated his flexible concept of it, commending the leaders of a long list of autocratic countries – Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan and even the Saudi monarchy – while condemning the “Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform” (9).

A few days later, there was a trial of strength in Iraq between proconsul Paul Bremer – as The Economist calls him – together with his Iraqi colleagues, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the main spiritual leader of the Iraqi Shia. It was paradoxical in the Huntingtonian sense: the ayatollah demanded universal suffrage for the election of a constituent assembly and the ratification of a new constitution; the occupying authority argued that it was impossible to organise a poll in the short or medium term to justify the formal transfer of power to an Iraqi government designated by Washington. The ayatollah, leveraging mass protests by his supporters, obliged the United Nations to arbitrate, which yielded a pledge to hold elections by the end of 2004.

This was highly damaging to the democratic image that the Bush adminstration had adopted as its ratings began to slip before the presidential election, and it launched a new initiative. On 13 February the liberal Arabic daily Al-Hayat, based in London, published a working paper, “G8-Greater Middle East Partnership” (10), which Washington circulated to G8 leaders’ aides preparatory to a summit scheduled for June in Sea Island, Georgia. Drawing heavily on reports on the Arab world written under the aegis of the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development (Afsed) and of the regional office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (11), the paper details levels of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in Arab countries to alarm G8 members, whose common interests are thought to be threatened by “an increase in extremism, terrorism, international crime and illegal migration” (12). It presents rival initiatives (the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, or Barcelona process, and the US State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative) as complement ary, and invokes “the multilateral reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq” as if they were part of the same policy.

Under the headings of Democracy and Know ledge Society, the paper proposes initiatives of limited scope, such as G8 technical assistance to Arab countries that hold elections by 2006 – only pre-election assistance with registering voters and training staff, not monitoring elections. The paper also proposes help with setting up centres to train women managers and journalists, legal advice centres (covering sharia law) and NGOs; and training 100,000 women primary teachers by 2008.

The boldest innovations, under Economic Opportunities, call for “an economic transformation similar in magnitude to that undertaken by the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe”. The key to this is the strengthening of the private sector, passport to prosperity and democracy, according to Washington’s credo. On this the paper is ingenuous: thanks to the miracle of microfinance, a mere $100m a year for five years will lift 1.2 million entrepreneurs (750,000 of them women) out of poverty, through $400 loans to each.

Other recipes are more obvious: create a Greater Middle East Development Bank on the model of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (Arab countries already have at least one such institution – Afsed – but it is not run by Western countries); create free zones (there are already several in Arab countries); and press for countries to join the World Trade Organisation and for the reforms that this would require.

After its disclosure by Al-Hayat, the paper sparked a fire fanned by criticism in the Arab world. These began with its definition of the Greater Middle East: besides the Arab countries, it covers Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, whose only common denominator is that they lie in the zone where hostility to the US is strongest, in which Islamic fundamentalism in its anti-Western form is most rife. (And has been given the status of public enemy number one by the US.)

Apart from this consideration, which reflects the politico-strategic priorities the US persuades its Western partners to adopt, there is no geographical, cultural or economic reason to justify such a grouping, which extends either too far or not far enough, according to objective criteria. Such a logic could not be accepted by the governments of the countries, or their peoples, except for Israel, which strongly shares Washington’s strategic priorities because the other countries are its main causes for concern. One of the first and angriest Arab critiques of the paper was by the chief editor of the Arab Human Development Report, the Egyptian Nader Fergany. Angry at the way Washington appropriated the report, he published an article in Al-Hayat stressing that the US procedure, leaving little time for its G8 partners, let alone the Arab states, to comment on the project, indicated “the arrogant mentality of the current US administration in respect of the rest of the world, which causes it to behave as if it can decide the fate of states and peoples” (13).

Fergany takes issue with the paper for applying the data in a study of the Arab countries to a huge, mainly Muslim but highly disparate geographic area, deemed by the neo-cons to be a source of terrorism, while disregarding the specificities of the countries. He outlines reasons to reject the project: it is “imposed from the outside” without prior consultation with the main interested parties, and there is a lack of credibility in an administration that fosters corruption in the Arab world and threatens its interests. (Which is why, adds Fergany, the paper is based on the UNDP-Afsed report, “like a drunk leans against a lamppost so he does not fall over, and not for illumination”.)

Fergany writes, expressing a feeling widely held in the region, that Washington seeks to compromise Europe in its project. Particularly in its sights are countries, primarily Germany and France, whose opposition to the invasion of Iraq “earned them such popularity and respect among the Arab people that the forces of change in the region see them as important allies”. If these countries were to back the US view “they would lose much of the political capital earned through their limited support of Arab rights” and miss a historic chance for partnership with the forces of change in the region. He thinks that could be a latent objective of the Washington paper.

Fergany criticises the US desire to impose its economic model on the Middle East. The paper ignores the main problems of the Arab world, postulating the integration of Israel into the regional fabric without mention of Palestinian rights. It deals solely with the reconstruction of Iraq, not its sovereignty, because it is only interested in “handing out contracts to companies from countries that have taken part in the destruction of Iraq”.

Fergany calls on Arab states to reject the US project, while stressing that rejection would be in vain if they did not make a genuine effort to promote endogenous reform, the renaissance of the Arab world. This prospect is outlined in the UNDP-Afsed report. The latest edition, published in October 2003, took account of the justified criticism of the first edition in July 2002 for conforming to a neoliberal credo and neglecting dominant outsiders’ share of responsibility for the state of the Arab world. The 2003 report emphasises the dependence of the Arab economies, tempers its economic liberalism by warning against replacing state-run monopolies with private-sector monopolies and criticises Israeli and US policies in the Middle East (14).

This credibility gap is the US project’s biggest handicap, the reason why even the most fervent supporters of change in the Arab world reject it. The Tunisian human rights activist Moncef Marzouki, in Al-Hayat, stresses “the total lack of credibility of the US policy to promote democracy in the Arab world” (15). He goes on: “Indeed one may say that US policy as a whole greatly facilitates the growth of extremist Islamist forces, as we are seeing in Iraq and will see elsewhere.”

The fierce hostility to the Bush administration in Arab countries, and the suspicion of everything emanating from it, has prompted Washington’s main allies and Arab protégés – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – to distance themselves from the US initiative. President Mubarak even led the anti camp to defend himself from the reactions the initiative will provoke. After voicing his reservations, he flew to Riyadh to issue a statement with his Saudi hosts rejecting “the imposition of a specific prototype of reform on Arab and Muslim countries from abroad” (16).

Faced with this outcry, the Bush administration swore it did not intend to substitute itself for the interested parties. The State Department was sent to convey this message, although it did not stop the under-secretary of state, Marc Grossman, dispatched for talks with some of Washington’s Arab allies, declaring in Brussels that the next US/ EU and Nato summits, in Dublin and Istanbul, should discuss reform in the “Greater Middle East” as will the G8 scheduled for June. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, declared in Kuwait that Washington was counting on the Arab states to address the issue before the G8 meeting.

Reading between the lines, the US’s Arab allies were preparing to re-float the Saudi initiative (inspired by Washington) at the Tunis summit in March. The initiative was announced in January 2003 with a view to a summit in Bahrain in March that year; the venue was changed to Egypt and cut to one day because of the Iraqi crisis. Crown Prince Abdulluh’s initiative was rendered politically untimely by regional tensions and warnings from some of his peers not to submit to Washington’s wishes. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria condemned the succession of masks used by Washington to disguise its claims on Iraq: UN inspections, Security Council resolutions, WMD, “the issue of democracy, then human rights and now they are promising development” (17).

The Saudi initiative aimed to secure the Arab states’ adoption of a charter advocating self- reform and the development of political participation, as well as measures to support and promote the private sector and ultimately introduce an Arab common market. Such recipes – like those of the US, politically timid and economically firm and fundamental – show that, with such sponsors, liberalisation in the Middle East is likely to stop at privatisation.

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Home › Features › Essays › Time to Attack Iran

Time to Attack Iran

Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option
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RESPONSE

To suggest a nuclear Iran would result in a cascade of proliferation across the Middle East neglects the United States’ power to prevent clients from building their own bombs.

RESPONSE

Matthew Kroenig’s recent article in this magazine argued that a military strike against Iran would be “the least bad option” for stopping its nuclear program. But the war Kroenig calls for would be far messier than he predicts, and Washington still has better options available.

RESPONSE

Bombing Iran’s nuclear program would only be a temporary fix. Instead, the United States should plan a larger military operation that also aims to destabilize the regime and, in turn, resolves the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.

The mistake Bush made was responding to a 21st century terrorist attack with 20th century wars.

Beatrice S. comments on
Time to Attack Iran

In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. Iran denied the charges, but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran. Although the Obama administration has not publicly threatened to retaliate with military force, the allegations have underscored the real and growing risk that the two sides could go to war sometime soon — particularly over Iran’s advancing nuclear program.

For several years now, starting long before this episode, American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities. Proponents of a strike have argued that the only thing worse than military action against Iran would be an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics, meanwhile, have warned that such a raid would likely fail and, even if it succeeded, would spark a full-fledged war and a global economic crisis. They have urged the United States to rely on nonmilitary options, such as diplomacy, sanctions, and covert operations, to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

But skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease — that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.

DANGERS OF DETERRENCE

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This is no time for sabre-rattling. War with Iran could tip us into the bloodiest conflict since 1945

By JOHN R BRADLEY

Last updated at 9:41 AM on 24th January 2012

The dark prospect of war now looms in the Middle East, as the West’s confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme inches towards the point of no return.

Voicing fears that the hardline Tehran regime may secretly be developing atomic weapons, the EU yesterday decided to implement a range of economic sanctions against Iran.

These include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products and a freeze on the assets of Iran’s central bank in the EU.

'Bringing Iran to its senses': Foreign Secretary William Hague supports EU economic sanctions against the rogue state‘Bringing Iran to its senses’: Foreign Secretary William Hague supports EU economic sanctions against the rogue state

Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed these measures are aimed at ‘bringing Iran to her senses’, and follow the imposition of other tough sanctions by the U.S. last month, including a blanket prohibition on any American company dealing with the Iranian Central Bank.

Aggressive

This aggressive stance by the U.S., Britain, France and Germany — which, in fact, amounts to nothing less than economic warfare — has been accompanied by a huge show of military force in the region.

Last week, six ships, led by a mighty 100,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier, were sent to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which runs along Iran’s southern coast and is one of the world’s busiest routes for oil supplies.

In response to all this activity, Iran has been equally hostile.

Yesterday, Mohammad Kossari, the Iranian deputy head of foreign affairs, warned that ‘if any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, then the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed’.

Despite such a threat, the West — especially the U.S. — cannot now easily pull back from this process of brinkmanship. Serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme have been growing for months, ever since it became clear that it has started a uranium enrichment programme.

Equally worrying is the fact that it is a nation led by an unstable, fanatical Islamist cabal that has pledged to destroy its Middle Eastern neighbour, Israel.

Although the country’s rulers have repeatedly insisted that they want nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes, the idea of its erratic leader President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad possessing weapons of mass destruction is truly frightening.

His foreign critics understandably ask, if Tehran really has no plans for such weaponry, why is it not willing to talk openly about its nuclear programme?

The secretive, unaccountable nature of the regime’s approach only feeds the West’s fears.

Nevertheless, we have to be extremely cautious.

After all, Britain and America have already been to war once in the past decade over false claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Sabre-rattling: The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf on SundaySabre-rattling: The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf on Sunday

Before embarking on another conflict, we must be absolutely convinced that Iran has developed a nuclear arsenal and plans to use it.

At the moment, there is no such incontrovertible evidence.

A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear programme, while critical of the state’s nuclear ambitions, offered no hard evidence that Iran has actually made a bomb.

It is also vital to recognise why so many want to escalate this international confrontation.

Indeed, in some respects, the issue of nuclear weapons is just a cover for geo-political wheeling and dealing.

For example, several of the most hawkish voices in Washington, London and Tel Aviv want to see regime change in Iran, with the fanatical Islamic mullahs replaced by a more pro-Western regime.

The economic sanctions, therefore, are simply a key means of ratcheting up pressure on an Iranian government already mired in economic crisis and unpopularity.

In the past month alone, Iran’s national currency — the Rial — has lost 20 per cent of its value as a result of its increasing global isolation.

Some neo-con hawks in Washington hope that either the Tehran regime will collapse —perhaps hoping for a popular uprising like the ones that occurred in Egypt and Tunisia during the so-called Arab Spring — or that President Ahmadinejad will react in a desperate bid to shore up his position. Ordering a Lockerbie-style terrorist attack on a Western airliner or a similar atrocity might be one such reckless step in this extremely volatile atmosphere.

Of course, any such pre-emptive strike by Iran would give the West the excuse to launch full-scale military action —including bombing Iran’s nuclear plants.

Israel is a key player in these manoeuvres. Its uncompromising government — headed by hawkish prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — regards Iran as its most dangerous foe.

Indeed, the Israeli secret services are already suspected of the clandestine assassinations of four top Iranian nuclear scientists — the most recent earlier this month — as well as injuring another.

Assassination: Iranians mourn nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was killed by a car bombAssassination: Iranians mourn nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was killed by a car bomb in Tehran

However, Israel is not the only nation in the Middle East bent on the humiliation of Iran.

This goal is also shared by Saudi Arabia, which has long been pressing the U.S. to attack Iran. The Saudi dictatorship has been locked in a bitter struggle with Iran for hegemony in the region.

This fight has been made all the more intense by religious differences: The Saudi regime is made up of Wahhabi Muslims, who consider Shia Muslims — who rule Tehran — as heretics.

Strike

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies are nervous about the scale of Iran’s ambitions and will back any Western military action.

It was official government cables, publicised by WikiLeaks, that revealed the Saudis have been openly lobbying the U.S. for a military strike.

This volatile situation is endangered further as the result of the Arab Spring, which saw the toppling of a string of pro-Western despotic governments.

As has been witnessed in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, hardline Islamists are strengthening their grip across the region — and may well side with Iran against the West.

In fact, as the dispute with Iran intensifies, anti-Western, and specifically anti-Israeli,  rhetoric among Arab populations is reaching frenzied new levels. Earlier this month, a delegation from the ruling Hamas party in Gaza visited Tunisia — to be greeted by wildly cheering crowds demanding the death of all Jews. Similarly, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was stormed by an angry mob.

If there was to be an attack on Iran — and any suggestion that Israel was behind it — that combustible mood would worsen, with the new Arab rulers likely seeking to exploit it for political gain.

All this means Ahmadinejad is less isolated than he used to be. This support from Arab countries is a key reason he’s unlikely to give way to Western threats.

Turmoil

What’s more, a Western-led attack is actually likely to unite Iran, rather than act as a catalyst for its breaking up — as many neo-cons hope.

Iran may be in economic turmoil, its leaders may be unpopular and the country may be dislocated by ethnic strife and local disputes, but its people are among the most ferociously patriotic in the world.

They have a fierce sense of hostility to outside invaders, as was shown during the long war with Iraq in the Eighties.

Military pressure: The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian SeaMilitary pressure: The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea

In Britain during World War II, the defiance of the people was strengthened rather than weakened by the Luftwaffe’s murderous bombing campaign.

Iranians would be similarly emboldened by any conflict between Iran and the West.

Those who think Iran will be a pushover are therefore deluding themselves.

The nation has a powerful, well-trained, well-equipped military. Western naval vessels in the region, for instance, could soon find themselves vulnerable to Iran’s deadly anti-shipping missiles.

In addition, it is unlikely that one-off strikes against nuclear plants would halt their nuclear programmes, since much of the infrastructure is either hidden or deep underground.

But the West would have played its trump card, so the stakes could hardly be higher.

Open conflict would be a disaster, possibly plunging the world into lethal warfare on a scale not seen since 1945.

Given that, noisy sabre-rattling is no substitute for cool judgment and exhaustive diplomatic efforts for a resolution to this crisis.

John R. Bradley is the author of After The Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked The Middle East Revolts (Palgrave Macmillan).

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Tom Engelhardt
Tom Engelhardt
Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute, where he is a fellow.
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Iran through the looking glass
If the situation with Iran were reversed, would we consider US actions against them justified?
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2012 14:03
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Many people believe the latest round of sanctions against Iran constitute an ‘act of war'[EPA]

Exclusive: New Iranian Commando Team Operating Near US

(Tehran, FNA) The Fars News Agency has confirmed with the Republican Guard’s North American Operations Command that a new elite Iranian commando team is operating in the US-Mexican border region. The primary day-to-day mission of the team, known as the Joint Special Operations Gulf of Mexico Task Force, or JSOG-MTF, is to mentor Mexican military units in the border areas in their war with the deadly drug cartels. The task force provides “highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments,” Maj. Amir Arastoo, a spokesman for Republican Guard special operations forces in North America, tells Fars, and “seeks to confront irregular threats…”

The unit began its existence in mid-2009 – around the time that Washington rejected the Iranian leadership’s wish for a new diplomatic dialogue. But whatever the task force does about the United States – or might do in the future – is a sensitive subject with the Republican Guard. “It would be inappropriate to discuss operational plans regarding any particular nation,” Arastoo says about the US.

New York, NY – Okay, so I made all that up. Sue me. But first admit that, a line or two in, you knew it was fiction. After all, despite the talk about US decline, we are still on a one-way imperial planet. Yes, there is a new US special operations team known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Co-operation Council, or JSOTF-GCC, at work near Iran and, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, we really don’t quite know what it’s tasked with doing (other than helping train the forces of such allies as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia).

And yes, the quotes are perfectly real, just out of the mouth of a US “spokesman for special-operations forces in the Mideast”, not a representative of Iran’s Republican Guard. And yes, most in the US, if they were to read about the existence of the new special ops team, wouldn’t think it strange that US forces were edging up to (if not across) the Iranian border, not when our “safety” was at stake.

 Listening Post: Murder in Tehran

Reverse the story, though, and it immediately becomes a malign, if unimaginable, fairy tale. Of course, no Iranian elite forces will ever operate along the US border. Not in this world. Washington wouldn’t live with it – and it remains the military giant of giants on this planet. By comparison, Iran is, in military terms, a minor power.

Any Iranian forces on the Mexican border would represent a crossing of one of those “red lines” that US officials are always talking about and such an international abomination that it be dealt with severely. More than that, their presence would undoubtedly be treated as an act of war. It would make screaming headlines here. The Republican candidates for the presidency would go wild. You know the rest. Think about the reaction when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that an Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas had contacted a Mexican drug cartel as part of a bizarre plot – supposedly hatched by senior members of the elite Iranian Quds Force – to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a Washington restaurant and possibly bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies as well.

Though doubts were soon raised about the likelihood of such an Iranian plot, the outrage in the US was palpable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that it “crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for”. The Wall Street Journal labelled it “arguably an act of war”, as did Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Speaker of the House John Boehner termed it “a very serious breach of international behaviour”, while House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers swore that it crossed “a very dangerous threshold” and called for “unprecedented” action by the Obama administration.

On the other hand, no one here would claim that a US special operations team edging up to the Iranian border was anything out of the ordinary or that it potentially crossed any lines – red or otherwise – or was a step beyond what the international community accepts. In fact, the news, such as it was, caused no headlines in the press, no comments on editorial pages, nothing. After all, everyone knows that Iranians would be the equivalent of fish out of water in Mexico, but that US is at home away from home in the Gulf (as in most other places on Earth).

Iranian ‘war’ against the US

Nonetheless, just for the heck of it, let’s suspend the laws of political and military gravity and pile up a few more fairy-tale-ish details.

 Who is responsible for US-Iran tensions?

Imagine that, in late 2007, Iran’s ruling mullahs and their military advisers had decided to upgrade already significant covert activities against Washington, including cross-border operations, and so launched an intensification of its secret campaign to “destabilise” the country’s leadership – call it a covert war if you will – funded by hundreds of millions of dollars of oil money; that they (or their allies) supported armed oppositional groups hostile to Washington; that they flew advanced robot drones on surveillance missions in the country’s airspace; that they imposed ever escalating sanctions, which over the years caused increased suffering among the people of the US – in order to force Washington to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and give up the nuclear programme (military and peaceful) that it had been pursuing since 1943; that they and an ally developed and launched a computer worm meant to destroy US centrifuges and introduced sabotaged parts into its nuclear supply chain; that they encouraged US nuclear scientists to defect; that one of their allies launched an assassination programme against US nuclear scientists and engineers, killing five of them on the streets of US cities; that they launched a global campaign to force the world not to buy key US products, including Hollywood movies, iPhones, iPods and iPads, and weaponry of any sort by essentially embargoing US banking transactions.

Imagine as well that an embattled US president declared the Gulf of Mexico to be off-limits to Iranian aircraft carriers and threatened any entering its waters with dire consequences. In response, the Iranians promptly sent their aircraft carrier, the Mossadegh, and its battle group of accompanying ships directly into Gulf waters not far from Florida and then stationed a second carrier, the Khomeini, and its task force in the nearby Caribbean as support. (Okay, we know the Iranians don’t have aircraft carriers, but just for a moment, suspend disbelief.)

And keep in mind that, in this outlandish scenario, all of the above would only be what we knew about or suspected. You would have to assume that there were also still-unknown aspects to their in-the-shadows campaign of regime change against Washington.

Now, pinned to Iran, that list looks absurd. Were such things to have happened (even in a far more limited fashion), they would have been seen across the US political spectrum as an abomination (and rightly so), a morass of illegal, illegitimate, and immoral acts and programmes that would have to be opposed at all costs. As you also know perfectly well, it is a description of just what we do know or suspect that the US has done, alone or in concert with its ally Israel, or what, in the case of the assassination operations against nuclear scientists (and possibly an explosion that destroyed much of an Iranian missile base, killing a major general and 16 others), Israel has evidently done on its own, but possibly with the covert agreement of Washington.

And yet you can search the mainstream news far and wide without seeing words such as “illegal”, “illegitimate”, or “immoral” – or even “a very serious breach of international behaviour” – applied to them, though you can certainly find sunny reports on our potential power to loose destruction in the region, the sorts of articles that, if they were in the state-controlled Iranian press, we would consider propaganda.

While the other three presidential candidates were baying for Iranian blood at a recent Republican debate, it was left to Ron Paul, the ultimate outsider, to point out the obvious: that the latest round of oil sanctions being imposed by Washington and just agreed to by the European Union – meant to prohibit the sale of Iranian oil on the international market – was essentially an “act of war“, and that it preceded recent Iranian threats (an unlikely prospect, by the way) to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the planet’s oil flows.

China and the EU are the major importers of Iranian oil

And keep in mind, the covert war against Iran is ostensibly aimed at a nuclear weapon that does not exist, that the country’s leaders claim they are not building, that the best work of the US intelligence community in 2007 and 2010 indicated was not yet on the horizon. (At the moment, at worst, the Iranians are believed to be working toward “possible breakout capacity” – that is, the ability to relatively “quickly” build a nuclear weapon, if the decision were made.) As for nuclear weapons, the US has 5,113 warheads that we don’t doubt are necessary for our safety and the safety of the planet. These are weapons that we implicitly trust ourselves to have, even though the United States remains the only country ever to use nuclear weapons, obliterating two Japanese cities at the cost of perhaps 200,000 civilian deaths. Similarly, we have no doubt that the world is safe with Israel possessing up to 200 nuclear weapons, a near civilisation-destroying (undeclared) arsenal. But it is our conviction that an Iranian bomb, even one, would end life as we know it.

Added to that fear is the oft-cited fact that Iran is run by a mullahtariat that oppresses any opposition. That, however, only puts it in league with US allies in the region such as Bahrain, whose monarchy has shot down, beaten up, and jailed its opposition, and the Saudis, who have fiercely repressed their own dissidents. Nor, in terms of harm to its people, is Iran faintly in a league with past US allies such as General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, who launched a US-backed military coup against a democratically elected government on September 11, 1973, killing more than died in the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Or such as Indonesian autocrat Suharto on whom the deaths of at least half a million of his people are usually pinned.

Washington at home around the world

Here, then, is a little necessary context for the latest round of Iran-mania in the US: Washington has declared the world its oyster and garrisons the planet in a historically unique way – without direct colonies, but with approximately 1,000 bases worldwide (not including those in war zones or ones the Pentagon prefers not to acknowledge). That we do so, unique as it may be in the records of empire, strikes us as anything but odd and so is little discussed here. One of the reasons is simple enough. What’s called our “safety” and “security” has been made a planetary issue. It is, in fact, the planetary standard for action, though one only we (or our closest allies) can invoke. Others are held to far more limiting rules of behaviour.

 Floating US military base to tackle Iran

As a result, a US president can now send drones and special operations forces just about anywhere to kill just about anyone he designates as a threat to our security. Since we are everywhere, and everywhere at home, and everywhere have “interests”, we may indeed be threatened anywhere. Wherever we’ve settled in – and in the Gulf, as an example, we’re deeply entrenched – new “red lines” have been created that others are prohibited from crossing. No one, after all, can infringe on our safety.

In support of our interests – which, speaking truthfully, are also the interests of oil – we could covertly overthrow an Iranian government in 1953 (starting the whole train of events that led to this crisis moment in the Gulf), and we can again work to overthrow an Iranian government in 2012. The only issue seriously discussed in this country is: How exactly can we do it, or can we do it at all (without causing ourselves irreparably greater harm)? Effectiveness, not legality or morality, is the only measurement. Few in our own little world (and who else matters?) question our right to do so, though obviously the right of any other state to do something similar to us or one of our allies, or to retaliate or even to threaten to retaliate, should we do so, is considered shocking and beyond all norms, beyond every red line when it comes to how nations (except us) should behave.

This mindset, and the acts that have gone with it, have blown what is, at worst, a modest-sized global problem up into an existential threat, a life-and-death matter. Iran as a global monster now nearly fills what screen-space there is for foreign enemies in the present US moment. Yet, despite its enormous energy reserves, it is a shaky regional power, ruled by a faction-ridden set of fundamentalists (but not madmen), the most hardline of whom seem at the moment ascendant (in no small part due to US and Israeli policies). The country has a relatively modest military budget, and no recent history of invading other states. It has been under intense pressure of every sort for years now and the strains are showing. The kind of pressure the US and its allies have been exerting creates the basis for madness – or for terrible miscalculation followed by inevitable tragedy.

In an election year in the US, little of this is apparent. The Republicans, Ron Paul aside, have made Iran the entrée du jour on the US (and Israeli) security menu, a situation that couldn’t be more absurdly out of proportion or more dangerous. In fact, when it comes to “American security”, our fundamentalists are off on another rampage with the Obama administration following behind.

“Stop for a moment the next time you hear of US or Israeli plans for the further destabilisation of Iran and think: ‘What would we do if the Iranians were planning something similar for us?'”

Just as a small exercise to restore some sense of proportion, stop for a moment the next time you hear of US or Israeli plans for the further destabilisation of Iran and think: “What would we do if the Iranians were planning something similar for us?”

It’s one small way to begin, individually, to imagine a planet on which everyone might experience some sense of security. And here’s the oddest thing, given the blowback that could come from a blowup in the Gulf, it might even make us all safer.

[Note: The initial “Iranian” news article in this piece was taken, with a few small changes, from “New US Commando Team Operating Near Iran,” a post by the intrepid Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog, an important place to keep up on all things military.]

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), will be published in November.

A version of this article first appeared on TomDispatch.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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MJ Rosenberg
MJ Rosenberg
MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network.
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Iran: Iraq redux
Media articles predicting an Israeli war on Iran are just fearmongering designed to increase sanctions and hysteria.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2012 08:30
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Iran’s nuclear programme has led to a new layer of sanctions [GALLO/GETTY]

Washington, DC – Talk about deja vu all over again.

In September 2010 The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote, in a much ballyhooed article, that “there is a better than 50 per cent chance that Israel will launch a strike [against Iran] by next July”, meaning the summer of 2011.

Recently, the New York Times published a story by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, who writes: “I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012.”

The two articles are very similar. It is almost as if Bergman is merely updating Goldberg, primarily by postponing the supposed date for the attack by a year. That is necessary because Goldberg’s prediction did not pan out – just like the repeated predictions that Iran would have a nuclear weapon by a particular date keep being pushed back. (Here is former CIA official Bruce Reidel, predicting an Israeli attack on Iran in 2007. Here is former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, predicting that Israel would bomb Iran in 2008. Here is leading Israeli Iran hawk, General Ephraim Sneh, predicting that Israel would act by the end of 2009. The attack keeps receding farther into the horizon.)

 EU approves tough oil embargo on Iran

There are many more such predictions, just as there are many more articles such as those by Goldberg and Bergman.

The most striking (even jarring) similarity between the two articles is that both pieces note that an Israeli attack on Iran would fail to prevent development of an Iranian bomb and that the collateral effects of an attack would be utterly horrific. Both cite Israeli intelligence officials who make just those points. (Check out this new J Street video, which quotes Israel’s most prominent intelligence experts explaining why attacking Iran would be disastrous.)

Here is Goldberg in 2010 on what the ramifications would be once the Israelis begin to bomb Iran, regardless of whether the attack succeeds or “fail[s] miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program”:

[The Israelis] stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

Here is Bergman this week on ramifications of an attack:

In the end, a successful attack would not eliminate the knowledge possessed by the project’s scientists, and it is possible that Iran, with its highly developed technological infrastructure, would be able to rebuild the damaged or wrecked sites. What is more, unlike Syria, which did not respond after the destruction of its reactor in 2007, Iran has openly declared that it would strike back ferociously if attacked. Iran has hundreds of Shahab missiles armed with warheads that can reach Israel, and it could harness Hezbollah to strike at Israeli communities with its 50,000 rockets, some of which can hit Tel Aviv. (Hamas in Gaza, which is also supported by Iran, might also fire a considerable number of rockets on Israeli cities.) According to Israeli intelligence, Iran and Hezbollah have also planted roughly 40 terrorist sleeper cells across the globe, ready to hit Israeli and Jewish targets if Iran deems it necessary to retaliate. And if Israel responded to a Hezbollah bombardment against Lebanese targets, Syria may feel compelled to begin operations against Israel, leading to a full-scale war. On top of all this, Tehran has already threatened to close off the Persian Gulf to shipping, which would generate a devastating ripple through the world economy as a consequence of the rise in the price of oil.

Nonetheless, both authors predict with a certain level of assurance that Israel will attack anyway. In essence, they are saying that the Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu is as insane as neoconservatives say the Iranian government is. They are saying that, yes, attacking Iran might lead to the devastation of Israel, even the destruction of the Jewish state, but that the government of Israel might do it anyway.

Why? Because it honestly believes that the Iranian government is so dedicated to a second holocaust that it would risk its own annihilation, not to mention the eradication of the Palestinian people as well as destruction of some of the holiest sites in Islam in its own initial nuclear attack.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe the Iranian government is either insane or suicidal; I don’t believe the Israeli government is insane or suicidal.”

Sorry. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe the Iranian government is either insane or suicidal; I don’t believe the Israeli government is insane or suicidal.

And I doubt the authors believe that either. It is not Israel’s elimination they are worried about; it is the elimination of Israel’s nuclear monopoly and its regional hegemony. The Israelis themselves admit as much, with Defence Minister Ehud Barak telling Charlie Rose last year that if he were an Iranian government official, he would probably want a weapon, too – not to destroy Israel, but because “they look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear, not to mention the Russians”. And the Israelis, obviously.

Bottom line: The purpose of these articles is not to predict an Israeli attack but to force the United States government into piling on sanction after sanction (with war always an option) rather than pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

It makes no sense. And yet, due to the pressure of the pro-war lobby, it is diplomacy that is barely on the table, while war, always the direst option, is front and centre. That was plain when President Obama delivered his State of the Union address earlier this week.

Referring to Iran, President Obama said this:

Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

Obama’s remarks were measured. The first part was tough, almost threatening, ending with a clear allusion to the possibility of war.

 Obama delivers populist speech

The shorter second part referring to a “peaceful resolution” spoke to the president’s preference: avoiding another Middle East war.

So how did Congress react?

It was silent until Obama stated that he would take “no options off the table”. That allusion to war caused the chamber to erupt in cheers. The second piece, the reference to a “peaceful resolution” was met with silence, except for scattered applause from perhaps a dozen legislators.

Bergman’s article (like Goldberg’s earlier piece) is designed to keep things just this way. Sanctions up to a point. War, if deemed necessary, farther down the road. And ideally a war fought by the United States and not Israel, to preserve not Israel’s security but its regional hegemony.

If the people of the United States allow that to happen, we are truly out of our minds.

The good news is that President Ahmadinejad now says he is ready for negotiations (whether the country’s supreme leader is may be another story). How about President Obama just agreeing to talk – for once without conditions dictated by the pro-war lobby.

But who am I kidding? It is the lobby, and its cutouts in Congress, who are driving this issue. And they want war. That is probably one reason Goldberg and Bergman are so sure it will happen. The lobby usually gets what it wants.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

Follow him on Twitter: @MJayRosenberg

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source:
Al Jazeera

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hmm… a Chinese evaluation

>

Hmm…

another US military etc analysis

As al-Qaida recedes, new, hard-to-grip challenges confront US security

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/31/10281791-as-al-qaida-recedes-new-hard-to-grip-challenges-confront-us-security

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer in the Middle East, tells NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that Iran is capable of making a nuclear weapon but may not have the political will or the money.

By M. Alex Johnson, msnbc.com

Al-Qaida remains a threat, but intense U.S.-led pressure is working and could relegate it and similar organizations to having only “symbolic importance,” the nation’s intelligence chief said Tuesday.

When and if that happens, the U.S. will no longer have the luxury of focusing on one dominant threat, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told senators in the intelligence community’s annual assessment of threats to national security.

Rather, the “multiplicity and interconnectedness of potential threats, and the actors behind them, “will combine into an amorphous but critical challenge,” Clapper said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was joined at the hearing by CIA Director David Petraeus.

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While people find it easier to identify a single target — like the Soviet Union during the Cold War or al-Qaida during President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism — “it is virtually impossible to rank, in terms of long-term importance, the numerous potential threats to U.S. national security,” he said.

Clapper warned that security challenges today cut across political, economic, military and transnational trends. They reflect a “quickly changing international environment” that includes new political and military developments, the rise of “nonstate actors” — like regional terror and paramilitary groups — and ever-increasing access by individuals to deadly technologies.

The good news, he said, is that the resistance to al-Qaida over the past decade has established that sustained pressure works.

“The intelligence community sees the next two or three years as a critical transition phase for the terrorist threat, particularly for al-Qaida and like-minded groups,” he said. “… As long as we sustain the pressure on it, we judge that core al-Qaida will be of largely symbolic importance to the global jihadist movement.”

Take our Facebook poll: Is the U.S. safer today?

Clapper, a retired Air Force general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was confirmed as national intelligence director in August 2010.

In his testimony Tuesday, Clapper and Petraeus talked in detail about al-Qaida and other threats to national security:

  • Al-Qaida: The death of Osama bin Laden deprived radical Islam of it “most iconic and inspirational leader” at a time when its capabilities had already been degraded by years of U.S.-led pressure, Clapper said. Al-Qaida’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is unlikely to change the organization’s strategic direction, even though “most al-Qaida members find Zawahiri’s leadership style less compelling than bin Laden’s image as a holy man and warrior” and “will not offer him the deference they gave bin Laden.”

As a result, “al-Qaida increasingly will seek to execute smaller, simpler plots to demonstrate relevance to the global jihad,” Clapper said. In fact, smaller regional groups like al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaida in Iraq are likely to “surpass the remnants of core al-Qaida in Pakistan” as threats to U.S. interests.

  • Syria: It’s only a matter of time before Syrian President Bashar Assad falls from power, Clapper said, but it could be a long time because of intervention by Iran and the militant Islamist group Hezbollah and military supplies from North Korea. That makes it difficult for the West to plan for “a post-Assad situation,” he said.
  • Weapons of mass destruction: The spread of biological, chemical and  nuclear weapons is “among our top concerns,” Clapper said, because “the time when only a few states had access to the most dangerous technologies is past.”

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Biological and chemical materials “move easily in our globalized economy, as do the personnel with scientific expertise to design and use them,” he said.

Open Channel: Israeli Embassy, US tourists among likely targets of bomb plot

While no recognized countries are yet known to have provided direct WMD assistance to terrorist groups, that could change: “As governments become unstable and transform, WMD-related materials may become vulnerable to nonstate actors, if the security that protects them erodes,” he said.

  • Iran: Petraeus said he believed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report in November — which said Iran is on the verge of a nuclear “breakthrough” that could allow it to launch a missile able to hit Israel and Europe — is accurate.

But Iran’s willingness to allow IAEA inspectors to extend their stay in Tehran this week indicates that new sanctions on Iran’s central bank are beginning to bite. (NBC News has reported that China, Iran’s biggest oil customer, has recently reduced its purchases of Iranian oil after behind-the-scenes negotiations with U.S.)

Msnbc.com: Will Iran make good on its threat against US?

  • North Korea: The death of supreme leader Kim Jong-il is unlikely to lead to any fundamental change in Pyongyang’s isolation and belligerence, Petraeus said. There’s no reason to believe, he warned that the new leader, Kim Jong-un, will stop the country’s exports of ballistic missiles and other materials to Iran, Syria and possibly other countries.
  • Cyber-threats: Advances in information technology have opened the door to mass-scale collection of personal and governmental data by China, Russia and numerous independent groups, Clapper said.

Unfortunately, “innovation in functionality is outpacing innovation in security, and neither the public nor private sector has been successful at fully implementing existing best practices,” he said. That’s shown by well-publicized intrusions into the NASDAQ computer system and International Monetary Fund networks, underscoring the “vulnerability” of the U.S. economy.

  • Health threats and natural disasters: Clapper pointed to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan as an example of what could go wrong even when a government acts appropriately.

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“Although Tokyo responded adequately in the immediate aftermath of Japan’s largest earthquake, the triple disaster contributed to Prime Minister (Naoto) Kan’s resignation,” he said. Beyond the immediate health and safety concerns, such developments open the way for militant groups to “challenge and potentially destabilize governments” that never would have been considered vulnerable, he said.

“Although we can say with near certainty that new outbreaks of disease and catastrophic natural disasters will occur during the next several years, we cannot predict their timing, locations, causes or severity,” he warned.

Andrea Mitchell and Courtney Kube of NBC News contributed to this report from Washington.

More content from msnbc.com and NBC News

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Barak: If sanctions fail, Iran must face military strike

By YAAKOV KATZ02/03/2012 00:47

Ya’alon says Tehran is developing missiles capable of reaching the United States; IDF intel chief Kochavi says Iran has enough uranium to build four nuclear bombs.

IRGC launches surface-to-surface missile [file]By Rauf Mohseni/Reuters

Claiming that all of Iran’s nuclear facilities are vulnerable and that a military option is real and ready to be used if sanctions fail, Israel’s top political and military leadership issued a series of warnings to the Islamic Republic on Thursday in some of the most candid comments on the nuclear threat in years.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said there was a consensus among many nations today that if diplomacy and sanctions failed to stop Iran, a military strike should be launched.

“If sanctions don’t achieve the desired goal of stopping [Iran’s] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action,” he declared.

Barak said he saw Iran as nearing a stage “which may render any physical strike as impractical.”

“A nuclear Iran will be more complicated to deal with, more dangerous and more costly in blood than if it were stopped today,” he said. “In other words, he who says in English ‘later’ may find that ‘later is too late.’”

Barak’s threat was backed up earlier in the day by VicePremier Moshe Ya’alon who said that Iran needed to be stopped “one way or another” and that a credible military threat needed to be on the table, a message also delivered by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening.

Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of staff, dismissed arguments that underground Iranian nuclear sites such as the Fordow facility might be invulnerable to bunker-buster bombs.

“From my military experience, human beings will know how to penetrate any installation protected by other human beings. Ultimately all the facilities can be hit,” he said.

Earlier in the day, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that Iran has created a stockpile of enriched uranium that could be used to manufacture four nuclear weapons.

Kochavi said that once Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the decision to go to the “breakout stage” and begin enriching uranium to military-grade levels, it would take the Iranians a year to make a crude device and another year or two to manufacture a nuclear warhead that can be installed on a ballistic missile.

Iran, he said, has obtained 4 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent and another 100 kilograms enriched to 20%.

“Iran’s motivations are: to create hegemony in the region; deterrence; and to become an international player,” Kochavi said. “They claim that they are developing the program for peaceful purposes but our intelligence shows without a doubt that Iran is continuing its work on developing a nuclear weapon.”

Israel’s increased threats came as The Washington Postreported that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta believes Israel will attack Iran in April, May or June.

According to the report, written by the paper’s senior opinion writer David Ignatius, Panetta is concerned that Israel will attack before Iran enters the so-called “immunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

The term “immunity zone” has been coined by Barak in reference to Iran’s recent decision to activate the Fordow enrichment facility that is buried close to 100 meters under a mountain near the city of Qom. Barak has said in the past that Fordow could not be destroyed in a conventional military strike.

“Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action,” Ignatius wrote. According to the report, Israel’s strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities could last five days, which would be followed by a United Nations-brokered cease-fire.

In his speech, Ya’alon revealed that Iran had been developing a missile with a range of 10,000 km. that would have been capable of reaching the United States. He said that the missile was destroyed, though, in the mysterious explosion that rocked a missile base near Tehran on November 12, killing 17 Iranian troops, including the father of Iran’s missile program.

According to Ya’alon, the missile was based on a solid fuel propellant and would have significantly increased the Islamic Republic’s offensive capabilities.

Ya’alon also said that Turkey is helping Iran bypass the sanctions that have been imposed on it in recent months.

According to the vice premier, who was in the United States last week for talks on Iran with senior officials from the Obama administration, Turkey was helping Iran circumvent the sanctions by allowing it to use its banking system.

Ya’alon said that the Israeli government was committed to stopping Iran’s nuclear program “in one way or another.”

“We need a credible military option. The Iranians understand the West has capabilities, but as long as the Iranians don’t think that the West has the political stomach and determination to use it they will not stop,” Ya’alon said. “Currently they don’t think that the world is determined.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey Told Israelis US Won’t Join Their War on Iran

Thursday 2 February 2012
by: Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service | Report

Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey gives remarks during a ceremony honoring the Military Times 2011 Soldier of the Year. (Photo: The U.S. Army)

Washington – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.

Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.

But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall.

Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and explicitly with Israel over its threat of military aggression against Iran, even in the absence of evidence Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Dempsey’s trip was highly unusual, in that there was neither a press conference by the chairman nor any public statement by either side about the substance of his meetings with Israeli leaders. Even more remarkable, no leak about what he said to the Israelis has appeared in either U.S. or Israeli news media, indicating that both sides have regarded what Dempsey said as extremely sensitive.

The substance of Dempsey’s warning to the Israelis has become known, however, to active and retired senior flag officers with connections to the JCS, according to a military source who got it from those officers.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commander Patrick McNally, offered no comment Wednesday when IPS asked him about the above account of Dempsey’s warning to the Israelis.

The message carried by Dempsey was the first explicit statement to the Netanyahu government that the United States would not defend Israel if it attacked Iran unilaterally. But Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had given a clear hint in an interview on “Face the Nation” Jan. 8 that the Obama administration would not help defend Israel in a war against Iran that Israel had initiated.

Asked how the United States would react if Israel were to launch a unilateral attack on Iran, Panetta first emphasised the need for a coordinated policy toward Iran with Israel. But when host Bob Schieffer repeated the question, Panetta said, “If the Israelis made that decision, we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that’s what we’d be concerned about.”

Defence Minister Barak had sought to dampen media speculation before Dempsey’s arrival that the chairman was coming to put pressure on Israel over its threat to attack Iran, but then proceeded to reiterate the Netanyahu-Barak position that they cannot give up their responsibility for the security of Israel “for anyone, including our American friends”.

There has been no evidence since the Dempsey visit of any change in the Netanyahu government’s insistence on maintaining its freedom of action to attack Iran.

Dempsey’s meetings with Netanyahu and Barak also failed to resolve the issue of the joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise geared to a missile attack, “Austere Challenge ’12”, which had been scheduled for April 2012 but had been postponed abruptly a few days before his arrival in Israel.

More than two weeks after Dempsey’s meeting with Barak, the spokesman for the Pentagon, John Kirby, told IPS, “All I can say is that the exercise will be held later this year.” That indicated that there has been no major change in the status of U.S.-Israeli discussions of the issue since the postponement of the exercise was leaked Jan. 15.

The postponement has been the subject of conflicting and unconvincing explanations from the Israeli side, suggesting disarray in the Netanyahu government over how to handle the issue.

To add to the confusion, Israeli and U.S. statements left it unclear whether the decision had been unilateral or joint as well as the reasons for the decision.

Panetta asserted in a news conference Jan. 18 that Barak himself had asked him to postpone the exercise.

It now clear that both sides had an interest in postponing the exercise and very possibly letting it expire by failing to reach a decision on it.

The Israelis appear to have two distinct reasons for putting the exercise off, which reflect differences between the interests of Netanyahu and his defence minister.

Netanyahu’s primary interest in relation to the exercise was evidently to give the Republican candidate ammunition to fire at Obama during the fall campaign by insinuating that the postponement was decided at the behest of Obama to reduce tensions with Iran.

Thus Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, explained it as a “joint” decision with the United States, adding, “The thinking was it was not the right timing now to conduct such an exercise.”

Barak, however, had an entirely different concern, which was related to the Israeli Defence Forces’ readiness to carry out an operation that would involve both attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and minimising the Iranian retaliatory response.

A former U.S. intelligence analyst who followed the Israeli military closely told IPS he strongly suspects that the IDF has pressed Barak to insist that the Israeli force be at the peak of readiness if and when they are asked to attack Iran.

The analyst, who insisted on anonymity because of his continuing contacts with U.S. military and intelligence personnel, said the 2006 Lebanon War debacle continues to haunt the thinking of IDF leaders. In that war, it became clear that the IDF had not been ready to handle Hezbollah rocket attacks adequately, and the prestige of the Israeli military suffered a serious blow.

The insistence of IDF leaders that they never go to war before being fully prepared is a primary consideration for Barak, according to the analyst. “Austere Challenge ’12” would inevitably involve a major consumption of military resources, he observes, which would reduce Israeli readiness for war in the short run.

The concern about a major military exercise actually reducing the IDF’s readiness for war against Iran would explain why senior Israeli military officials were reported to have suggested that the reasons for the postponement were mostly “technical and logistical”.

The Israeli military concern about expending scarce resources on the exercise would apply, of course, regardless of whether the exercise was planned for April or late 2012. That fact would help explain why the exercise has not been rescheduled, despite statements from the U.S. side that it will be.

The U.S. military, however, has its own reasons for being unenthusiastic about the exercise. IPS has learned from a knowledgeable source that, well before the Obama administration began distancing itself from Israel’s Iran policy, U.S. Central Command chief James N. Mattis had expressed concern about the implications of an exercise so obviously based on a scenario involving Iranian retaliation for an Israeli attack.

U.S. officials have been quoted as suspecting that the Israeli request for a postponement of the exercise indicated that Israel wanted to leave its options open for conducting a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the spring. But a postponement to the fall would not change that problem.

For that reason, the former U.S. intelligence analyst told IPS he doubts that “Austere Challenge ’12” will ever be carried out.

But the White House has an obvious political interest in using the military exercise to demonstrate that the Obama administration has increased military cooperation with Israel to an unprecedented level.

The Defence Department wants the exercise to be held in October, according to the military source in touch with senior flag officers connected to the Joint Chiefs.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.



Gareth Porter
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.

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Israel’s Barak Says World Understands Need to Act Against Iran

February 02, 2012, 6:27 PM EST

  • inShare1

By Calev Ben-David

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday the window of opportunity to act effectively against Iran’s nuclear program is closing and, if sanctions fail, military action will need to be considered.

“Today, unlike the past, the world has no doubt that Iran’s nuclear program is steadily nearing readiness and is about to enter an ‘immunity zone,’” Barak said in an address to the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center academic campus north of Tel Aviv.

The “immunity zone” refers to the point at which Iran’s uranium enrichment and other key nuclear activities are dispersed to secret locations or sheltered in deep underground facilities, such as one at Fordo, that may not be vulnerable to Israeli air strikes.

“Today, unlike in the past, there is widespread global understanding that if the sanctions don’t achieve their goal of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, there will arise the need of weighing an operation,” he said.

Separately, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declined to comment on a report by a Washington Post columnist yesterday that Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran by the end of June, before Iran enters a “zone of immunity.”

Barak’s comments come a day after Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz told the same gathering that his country must be “willing to deploy” its military assets because Iran may be within a year of gaining nuclear weapons capability.

The European Union agreed last month to ban Iranian oil imports as of July 1 and freeze assets of its central bank and eight other entities. The U.S. has also imposed restrictions on financial transactions with Iran.

Nuclear Watchdog’s Role

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency wrapped up a round of talks this week aimed at resolving Western suspicions that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear-bomb capability, and plan further discussions on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22.

U.S. intelligence agencies think Iran is developing capabilities to produce nuclear weapons “should it choose to do so,” James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 31.

“We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” he said.

Panetta and other U.S. officials have repeatedly warned Israel not to take action against Iran alone. Panetta was reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to believe there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.

U.S. Has ‘Concerns’

“Israel has indicated that they’re considering this” in public statements, Panetta told reporters traveling with him in Brussels yesterday. “And we have indicated our concerns.”

Gantz said international sanctions are starting to show some results. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan. 24 urged China, India, Japan and South Korea to join in sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran’s nuclear program.

“Only a combination of paralyzing sanctions and a credible threat of ‘all options on the table’ will cause Iran to have second thoughts about its nuclear program,” Netanyahu told parliament in Jerusalem, according to a text message from his office.

The U.S., its European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that while Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, there are indications it may still be trying to move toward a nuclear weapon. They have challenged the government in Tehran to prove that its nuclear work is intended only for energy and medical research, as Iranian officials maintain.

Nuclear talks this week between senior IAEA officials and members of Iran’s government progressed enough for both sides to commit to more negotiations, Chief Inspector Herman Nackaerts told reporters Feb. 1 at Vienna International Airport after returning from Iran.

“There still is a lot of work to be done and so we have planned another trip in the very near future,” he said.

–With assistance from Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv, Jonathan Tirone in Vienna and David Lerman in Washington. Editor: Terry Atlas, Ann Hughey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources note that the Foreign Secretary’s words follow the concentration of large-scale American naval, air and marine forces in the Mediterranean, the Aden and Oman straits, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. This seaborne army is positioned for strikes against targets in Iran, Syria and Libya at 12 hours’ notice. It may be safely assumed that Hague’s ominous disclosure was pre-arranged with Washington.
In the past month, our sources have also quoted several Saudi royal princes as warning that if Iran attained a nuclear capability, it would not be the only Persian Gulf nation to be armed with a nuclear weapon and missiles for its delivery.

As Iran’s military exercise went into its third day, Aerospace commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Amir Ali Hajizadeh announced the launching of the new Ghadir radar system which he said had been “designed and manufactured to discover air targets, stealth planes, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and satellites at low orbits.” The system, claimed to have a range of 1,100 kilometers in radius and height of 300 kilometers, was said to be operational in Iran for the first time.

In another blatantly hostile gesture towards the United Sates, Hajizadeh announced that Russian military experts had been allowed to examine American drones said to have been shot down in the Persian Gulf for a close-up examination.
This disclosure came on top of his announcement Tuesday that the fourteen 2,000-kilometer range missiles tested Tuesday were designed exclusively to hit American bases in Afghanistan and Israel.

For more on this, go to the source of this information here: www.debka.com/article/21075/

Click to enlarge this map

as of June 22nd

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Iran Missle Test Map Review (KELSO)

Back in July, Iran tested a new class of missiles including the Shahab-3 which Tehran maintains is able to hit targets up to 1,250 miles away from its firing position. Parts of western Iran are within 650 miles of Israel.

Read more about this (old) news development at the Washington Post and NY Times, including how Iran tried to cover up the misfiring of one of the test rockets.

News media produced a wide range of maps for this event. A good map needs to:

  • show the range contour, with Israel in the hit area
  • accurately preserve distances (scale) on a
  • projected base map (centered on Iran) and
  • show an organic distance contour based on the outline of the country (not concentric circles out from a single point from within Iran).

Most of the maps below get the basic facts right (the range and what countries (eg: Israel) are within reach). Some maps presented these basic facts better than others.

Washington Post

New York Times — Not an optimal projection.

BBC – Winner for smallest map.

CNN

Wall Street Journal – Only one missile launch site in Iran?

Global Security – Good context of other rocket types. More of a data exploration map than presentation.

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Historyguy.com Iran War: Scenarios For An Attack on Iran

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