All Options On the Table

Iran has a proud heritage as an independent nation for much  of its long  history.   The   Achaemenid Empire,  Saleucid  period,  the Parthian  and  Sassanid Empires all reference a proud history, with the Median empire  dating back  to at least  728 BCE.

The long history of human civilisation  in Persia has resulted  in a very varied ethnic  composition to the country.   The Shi-ite branch of the Muslim faith forms the vast  majority of religious views, with 75-80% of the country speaking a variety  of forms of Iranian (known as  Farsi).  The ethnic composition  currently is Persians 61%,[5][6] Azeris 16%, Kurds 10%, Lurs 6%, Arabs 2% Baloch 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%,

Iran  with its unique cultural  and ethnic identity, has therefore  always strongly resisted foreign  occupation  forces, ranging from the Turkish Ottomans  to the Russians, British, and finally the Americans by proxy.

Since the Revolution in  1979,  which  saw the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty, (a hereditary   dictatorship installed by  the British  and Americans to manage oil  distribution),  Iran has become  both  a democracy  and theocracy. Voters  are able to vote for an “approved”  list of  candidates in  each election  whose  appropriateness is vetted by  the  Supreme Council of mullahs.  Thus the range of candidates in Iran is circumscribed by  the candidates’  apparent moral  and religious rectitude, rather than, as in  the US, and increasingly other Western  countries, by the size of the bank balance backing the candidate.  While levels of imprisonment, torture,  and arbitrary  execution remain  high,  they appear to be significantly lower than  in  the heyday of the revolution, and proportionally less than  the Saudis across the Gulf.  There is solid evidence from  surveys undertaken in Iran by  independent surveyors that the current Iranian system of government has the support of significant majority of the population; perhaps particularly so  because it is a unique and indigenous product of Iranian culture and community, and not one imposed by  other foreign cultures and governments.

Since the Pahlavi  Shah  was deposed and the American Embassy  occupied by Iranian student revolutionaries, the US and its allies have imposed  tighter and tighter levels of sanctions on  Iran;   supposedly for its development of nuclear weapons, but undoubtedly because the current government does not share the commercial  and power block interests of the  US, UK, Israel and its  Saudi  anti-Shi-ite backers. These  sanctions have both created opportunities for  considerable Iranian  scientific and industrial innovation, but also  restricted sales of its petrochemicals and other exports via Western  banking systems  (predominantly the Swift electronic transfer process). These commercial trading blockages  have also  resulted in  a very high  inflation rate  and lack  of access to  some essential  goods like pharmaceuticals; particularly radio-isotope  anti-cancer  drugs.

New systems of both  banking transfer and use of  non US dollars are however  now being developed by  the BRIC nations to circumvent the  monopoly  on  international commercial transactions  by US allies. These alternative international transactions method are naturally a cause of significant anxiety to   the US and UK who  have traditionally monopolized the methods and systems of monetary   transfer across the world-a source of both great  wealth  and power to both  countries state and commercial financial   entities.  How  drastic the response by  the US,  UK  and the EU and  its  ‘international’ institution,  the IMF,   to attempt  to stop these new systems developing further  is unknown  at  this point.

Despite much Western hype about the so-called “green  revolution” at  Iran’s last  national  elections, support for the  current system of government remains high, and a sense of national Iranian pride and  solidarity in  its unique culture and independence  is strong.  Iran appears increasingly supported by  both the BRIC countries and the non-aligned nations in  its struggle to remain  outside Western commercial and cultural domination.

Aside from Iraq’s fragile national entity and the tottering predominantly  Alawite  Syrian regime, Iran remains the one substantial  Shi-ite state in the Middle East; something that is anathema to  the extremist  Salafist Sunni hereditary dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar  across the Persian Gulf.

Given  the advanced state of Iranian scientific  research  and its industrial  capabilities, it would be extraordinary  for Iran to have taken 54 years to  develop  its nuclear weapon  capabilities; with the  initial technology  being  supplied by  the Americans to the Shah in 1959 .  Israel  and the US media have been crying “wolf’  about an Iranian  nuclear programme since the Iranian revolution,  despite all  declarations from Iran that it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons. That  declaration is in  sharp contrast to  Israel, which  has stockpiled a massive nuclear weapon  arsenal but  continues to  deny its existence and refuses to sign international nuclear protocols (with the full support of the United States).

Iran’s position on Israel  has always been  quite clear;  Iran will not attack  Israel unless it is attacked first,  but  believes that  the Israeli  state  is an anathema to the region as  a rascist  and apartheid-like entity, and an oppressor of the Palestinian people who  who have been forced from their lands and homes..  Iranian President Ahmadinejad  (branded ‘crazy’  in  the Western media -as all  anti Western leaders  are), never did say (as often quoted in  the media)  that Iran  would wipe Israel off the map; he  stated that  the state of Israel  had no future and would cease to  exist in  time. Iran has not attacked any other foreign country  in the past 100 years, despite continued illegal threats and harrassment from Israel , the United States,  the UK,  and Saudi Arabia .  It has however certainly used its proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah, and to an unknown degree, its informal  military,  the Revolutionary Guards,  in  the   region to  de-stabilise what it sees as anti-Shi-ite and reactionary forces and to  support anti-Israeli occupation forces in  Lebanon.

The Iranian “Supreme Leader”  has repeatedly stated and issued fatwas to the effect  that it would be morally wrong for Iran  to  possess a nuclear weapon. Such statements make it  virtually impossible for  Shi-ite Iranians  to develop  a nuclear weapon; to defy a fatwa by  the Supreme Leader would be suicide.

Even the US “intelligence” community as late as 2011 reluctantly confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapon  development programme,  but has continued to insist on its legal  right (under international law) to develop  nuclear  fission  capability for peaceful purposes. Iran is under no illusions that the continuing ongoing  threats and sanctions by  the Western community are  about stopping a non-existent weapons programme: they are about regime-change.

Therefore US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements in Jerusalem (8-4-13) (or El Quds as it is know in Moslem countries),  warning  Iran  that his country would not hesitate to take military action if the diplomatic process failed to prevent Tehran from continuing its drive for nuclear weapons, is thus one more  threat  from the world’s superpower to  a country that insists on its independence. The threats are of course entirely illegal  and sanctionable under international  law: but who would dare (yet) to prosecute the US?

However it should by now be self-evident to even  the most  dupe-able politician  in the US or Europe; that the only way the Iranian population would accept a Western  installed regime; as in  the Gulf states, would be through  massive all-out war  and occupation.

While it is clear that  US, Israeli and Saudi  forces combined would annihilate most Iranian conventional military forces within  days or weeks, causing millions of civilian deaths in  its wake , the ongoing unconventional  and “assymetric’  war  would continue for years and likely decades, disrupting oil transit through  the Gulf,  eventually result in the overthrow of the Saudi regime, the disintegration of the Israeli  apartheid state, and the collapse of other US client states in the region  like  Jordan. In the short to medium  term, a victory  against  Iran by the  mediaeval  mysoginist  Sunni Salafists  running Saudi Arabia  would also likely result in incalculable suffering to the millions of Shi-ites in  the region.

But, despite all  facts to the contrary, US Secretary of State John Kerry once again has  supported Israel’s war rhetoric against Iran at a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Monday.

“No option is off the table. No option will be taken off the table. And I confirmed you Mr. President that we will continue to seek a diplomatic solution, but our eyes are open, and we understand that the clock is moving,” Kerry stated.

While it is undoubtedly true to most Western observers that  the Iranian state  is an autocratic,  religious based entity that uses executions and torture to control its adversaries, the same can of course be said for its US adversary, the Israeli state against its Palestinian population,  and the Saudi   hereditary  dictatorship. Additionally, Iran’s democratic  institutions are, from  a Western cultural perspective, far in  ‘advance’ of anything in  the Western backed Gulf states across the Gulf. Women’s rights are also largely guaranteed in Iran, in contrast to the misogynist  laws and values across the Gulf.

The only reason therefore  why  the West  continues to threaten  Iran, is that it represents an alternative, independent,   third way   of international power and relations  in  a region  where Western predominance is vital to  maintain the flow of oil to  the West (despite the hype about shale oil) ,  and  a potential  threat  to the continued existence of a “western”  Israeli  entity artificially planted in  a sea of Arab  and Persian nationalism.

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Postscript:

Glenn Greenwald’s Podcast discussion with two of America’s leading Iran experts: the Leveretts

Two former officials of the US National Security State become the most vocal critics of US policy toward Tehran…

Or read the Leverett’s take on  the issues directly here at  Consortium News

Note their attendance at  a student seminar with  Noam  Chomsky  at MIT  on Tuesday May  14th  here

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The Elephant in the Room: Militarism

by Jeff Cohen

I spent years as a political pundit on mainstream TV – at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. I was outnumbered, outshouted, red-baited and finally terminated. Inside mainstream media, I saw that major issues were not only dodged, but sometimes not even acknowledged to exist.

 

Fear and Torture in Iraq

A ‘restrained”  news article  by  Ian Cobain in  the Guardian entitled  “Camp Nama: British personnel reveal horrors of secret US base in Baghdad” explores in a little detail,  what was known to every  “allied’  soldier  during the invasion and demolition of Iraq; that systematic  brutal  torture was ( and in  Afghanistan -’is’) being  used by  the invaders to attempt to  extract information from  Saddam sympathisers , and subsequently Sunni/Salafist insurgents.

What is surprising is not that it occurred, but that now, somehow, British  soldiers are now willing and able to confess their supposedly  limited involvement in  this brutality. The report makes clear that  there was an ongoing method  at a senior military  and political  level in the British  to  firstly, avoid any legal  implications of breaching the Geneva Convention, and secondly to  threaten  or  cajole those who attempted to  speak out.

Perhaps there is some misguided belief by  those in  power in the US and UK that enough time has passed for  these abuses to appear as some historical  anomaly.   The reality is that  both UK and US soldiers are well  trained in  viciousness,  brutality and torture to those who  they  see as “other”- whether its the “commies’ in Korea, “charlie’  in Vietnam,  “gooks” or “towel-heads”;  the language is all  the same- to  de-humanise and legitimise inhuman behavior.

What  might be hoped for now  is that  British police will now immediately round up those military officers and politicians who would likely have been party to  this abuse, and put them before a court of law to  be tried as innocent before being proven guilty for complicity in   murder and torture. Is it  going to  happen?…..yeah right…

 

The Syrian Connection

France and the UK are pressing  the EU for approval to   directly arm the Syrian rebels,  and for now, are being rebuffed by  fellow EU members. The reality is that  France (ex-coloniser of Syria and Lebanon)  and the UK  have been  arming and supporting the rebels since the war’s  inception via their “intelligence”  departments; either directly via “discreet”  arms shipments into Turkey and  Jordan by air , or indirectly, via weapons bought and shipped  through  the  hereditary (Sunni) dictatorships in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the CIA also mounting extensive weapons distribution and training  programmes inside Turkey and now Jordan.

Why then the EU request for direct  military  assistance of the rebels?. By committing  the formal  military networks that the various EU countries possess, into the war, Britain  and France will be able to seamlessly  pull in  the other European countries into  an ongoing military occupation of Syria/Lebanon to combat the extremist risks they have done so much to create. This will  create yet another combat zone where civilians  will have to subsist in  a land  without the necessary infrastructure of adequate food water and sewage systems to survive-another Palestine, Libya or Afghanistan  in other words. By doing so, it will  deprive the Iranians of one more of their state allies in  the region and one less supporter of a Palestinian state. This  will however also  inevitably lead the two  Shi-ite governments of  Iraq and Iran into closer alliance.

Israel, with its  rascist  government in  some dissaray, is wavering in its support of the rebels; havering between the  risks of having  Salafists on  its borders and having an opportunity to remove one more of its arch-enemies who dares to block its advance into, and occupation of,  “Greater Israel”.

On the other side, Russia is carefully supporting the Assad regime with  “top-up”  armaments and  training, and giving  moral  and tactical support through  its Mediterranean naval  exercises  out of the Russian Tartus naval  base on  the Syrian coast. Similarly Iran appears to be  using its informal military network ; the Iran Revolutionary  Guard or ‘Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’ (IRGC), with the likely support of Hezbollah, to supply and train the paramilitary and Shi-ite/Alawite units supporting Assad. For now, China appears to be offering moral,  but not much  else, support to  the Assad regime. This is unlikely to change.

Iraq’s Shi-ite  government is also very keen to ensure that the  Salafist  groups (affiliated or not to Al Qaeda) supported by  Qatar and Saudia Arabia, (and rather more directly by  the Western powers than they would care to admit),  do  not gain  a long-term foothold in Syria with unimpeded transport lines to the Arabian peninsula and  Turkey from the Mediterranean and the Muslim entities of the former Soviet Union; thereby significantly  improving their  strategic position in Iraq.

As always, the Western powers are attempting a divide and rule approach; using their long term hereditary  dictatorship Sunni allies of Saudi Arabia, Yemen  and Qatar to  offset  the growing influence and power of the Iranians, and the Shi-ite disaster they created for themselves  in  Iraq. The risks of blowback this time however are even more enormous. The growing salafist influence in the Turkish border region and beyond, the growing  power of the Kurds straddling  so many different  ‘middle east’  countries,  the potential for a massive upswing in  Sunni versus Shite violence in Iraq, let alone the potential  overthrow  of the current Iranian theo-demo-cracy  with something unknown and likely more radical, has the potential  to lead to  the establishment of a real Salafist caliphate in  the region; with all its violent, expansionist medieval and misogynist  cultural impacts, and a  real “clash of civilizations” with the West.

Such would be the delight of the neo-conservatives!

And just  to make things slightly more complex!- it would appear the power balance is swinging-as the current desperate gas shortage in  freezing  temperatures in  the UK demonstrates. The  oil/gas-rich Sunni  dictatorships are acquiring considerably more leverage in  cash-strapped Western states then ever before, even while their own societies implode.

Postscripts:

Read Moon of Alabama’s current relatively considered take on  the Syrian  situation  here

Or Tony Cartalucci’s more radical  view of the  weapons shipments issues here  calledCONFIRMED: US Shipping Weapons to Syria – Al Nusra’s “Mystery” Sponsors Revealed

Or  Henry  Precht  at Lobe Log’s “Syrias civil war and its unintended consequences”

http://www.lobelog.com/syrias-civil-war-and-its-unintended-consequences/

 

 

Kill Anything That Moves: Vietnam and beyond

Peter van Buren of the Huffington  Post  reviews Nick Turse’s latest book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

Sadly, van  Buren’s parting lines are not about the  millions of tortured, raped,  and murdered civilians of that trail of “dark skinned’ countries the US has invaded over the past 50 years; it is commiseration for those few hundred thousand US soldiers who have been put  in “impossible”  environments  by those in the “highest seats of power”.

As van Buren notes: The issue is not so much how/when/should we assign blame and punishment to an individual soldier, but to raise the stakes and ask: why have we not assigned blame and demanded punishment for the leaders who put those 19-year-old soldiers into the impossible situations they faced? Before we throw away the life of a kid who shot when he should not have done so, why don’t we demand justice for those in the highest seats of power for creating wars that create such fertile ground for atrocity? The chain of responsibility for the legacy left behind in our wars runs high.

Every one of those soldiers had the opportunity to refuse to fight; every one of those soldiers had the opportunity to  refuse to commit atrocities- but failed to do so. The responsibilities for murder and massacre run at all levels of our white-skinned colonial  societies. The assumptions of superiority, of “rightness” and ultimately simply pure racism, are endemic at every level of  Western society.  They  are our sins which  cannot be absolved, and  for which we are likely to pay dearly once the tables are turned in  another decade or two, when  western economies will no longer rule the world and determine the ‘game’.

Even now, almost forty years after the end of the Vietnam war, the US government and most of  it’s  citizens,  refuse to  acknowledge the massive war crimes of at  least  a million Vietnamese deaths carried out by  the US in the name of rolling back  a fictional  red tide of asian dominos, through carpet bombing, chemical  warfare and systemic atrocity after atrocity.

It is time for all  countries to acknowledge that  for us all to live peaceful fulfilled  lives on  a sustainable  planet, that  we have no rights to control other human beings to behave in the way  we think they  “should” behave through force-nor indeed any  rights of force over any  other species on this planet.

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Postscript:

40 years on, Laotians tell of US war legacy  By MATTHEW PENNINGTON | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Forty years after the secret U.S. bombing that devastated Laos, heirs to the war’s deadly legacy of undetonated explosives are touring America to prod the conscience of the world’s most powerful nation for more help to clear up the mess.

Note the casual throwaway  line ” The U.S. dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos over a nine-year period up to 1973 — more than on Germany and Japan during World War II.”

World’s Most Evil and Lawless Institution? The Executive Branch of the U.S. Government- Alternet by  Fred Branfman

http://www.alternet.org/investigations/executive-branch-evil-and-lawless

Executive Branch leaders have killed, wounded and made homeless well over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years, mostly civilians.

June 26, 2013  |

America has a secret. It is not discussed in polite company or at the dinner tables of the powerful, rich and famous.