Olbermann: End Game Tactics + Worst Person (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Nov. 30, 2007

End Game Tactics 

Keith talks about Congressman Murtha’s statements made about the surge in Iraq and the way they’ve been twisted by the GOP and right wing blogs. Jon Soltz from VoteVets.org weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…anonymous Fox News spokesman. Runners up Bill O’Reilly and Rear Admiral Steven Galson.

Kucinich Speech at the DNC Fall Meeting (video)

Dandelion Salad

Note: In case you may be looking for his speech at the DNC on 08.26.08, here’s the transcript and video: Wake Up, America! by Dennis Kucinich (DNC speech)

Dennis Kucinich KICKS ASS at DNC 11-30-07

Punk Patriot

15 min 40 sec – Dec 1, 2007 Continue reading

MIR: Arabpolis (video)

Dandelion Salad


Arab nations attend the Annapolis Peace conference in full force. Is this a show of pan-Arab solidarity with the Palestinians? Are they afraid of Iran ? Or is there another reason that Annapolis became Arabpolis?

The answers to these questions and more on Link TV ‘s Mosaic Intelligence Report.

For more visit http://www.linktv.org

Added: November 30, 2007

The Iran Threat By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Dandelion Salad

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
11/30/07 “ICH

In 2001, 83% of the Pakistanis supported the Taliban[i]. Six years later, in a 2007 World Public Opinion poll[ii], 84% of the Pakistanis thought attacks on civilians for the purpose of reaching a political goal was justified. Given that there are radicals who support terrorism with the possibility of gaining access to nuclear bombs in a country that is currently under emergency rule, common sense demands that world leaders turn their attention to Pakistan. Yet, inexplicably, the United States continues to hand out aid to its ‘ally’ Pakistan while quietly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the British island of Diego Garcia in preparation for a military assault against Iran[iii]. What motivates the United States to take such paradoxical action? Continue reading

Terror is a tactic – Interview with Nir Rosen By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
11/30/07 “ICH

Question: Is the “surge” working as Bush claims or is the sudden lull in the violence due to other factors like demographic changes in Baghdad?

Nir Rosen: I think that even calling it a surge is misleading. A surge is fast; this took months. It was more like an ooze. The US barely increased the troop numbers. It mostly just forced beleaguered American soldiers to stay longer. At the same time, the US doubled their enemies because, now, they’re not just fighting the Sunni militias but the Shiite Mahdi army also.

No, I don’t think the surge worked. Objectively speaking, the violence is down in Baghdad, but that’s mainly due to the failure of the US to establish security. That’s not success.

Sure, less people are being killed but that’s because there are less people to kill.

The violence in Iraq was not senseless or crazy, it was logical and teleological. Shiite militias were trying to remove Sunnis from Baghdad and other parts of the country, while Sunni militias were trying to remove Shiites, Kurds and Christians from their areas. This has been a great success. So you have millions of refugees and millions more internally displaced, not to mention hundreds of thousands dead. There are just less people to kill.

Moreover, the militias have consolidated their control over some areas. The US never thought that Muqtada al Sadr would order his Mahdi Army to halt operations (against Sunnis, rival Shiites and Americans) so that he could put his house in order and remove unruly militiamen. And, the US never expected that Sunnis would see that they were losing the civil war so they might as well work with the Americans to prepare for the next battle.

More importantly, violence fluctuates during a civil war, so people try to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible. It’s the same in Sarajevo, Beirut or Baghdad—people marry, party, go to school when they can—and hide at home or fight when they must.

The euphoria we see in the American media reminds me of the other so-called milestones that came and went while the overall trend in Iraq stayed the same. Now Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. Thats the most important thing to remember. there is no Iraq. There is no Iraqi government and none of the underlying causes for the violence have been addressed, such as the mutually exclusive aspirations of the rival factions and communities in Iraq.

Question: Are we likely to see a “Phase 2” in the Iraq war? In other words, will we see the Shia eventually turn their guns on US occupation forces once they’re confident that the Ba’athist-led resistance has been defeated and has no chance of regaining power?

Nir Rosen: Shiite militias have been fighting the Americans on and off since 2004 but there’s been a steady increase in the past couple of years. That’s not just because the Americans saw the Mahdi army as one of the main obstacles to fulfilling their objectives in Iraq, but also because Iraq’s Shiites—especially the Mahdi army—are very skeptical of US motives. They view the Americans as the main obstacle to achieving their goals in Iraq. Ever since Zalmay Khalilzad took over as ambassador; Iraq’s Shiites have worried that the Americans would turn on them and throw their support behind the Sunnis. That’s easy to understand given that Khalilzad’s mandate was to get the Sunnis on board for the constitutional referendum. (Khalilzad is also a Sunni himself)

But, yes, to answer your question; we could see a “Phase 2” if the Americans try to stay in Iraq longer or, of course, if the US attacks Iran. Then you’ll see more Shiite attacks on the Americans.

Question: Hundreds of Iraqi scientists, professors, intellectuals and other professionals have been killed during the war. Also, there seems to have been a plan to target Iraq’s cultural icons—museums, monuments, mosques, palaces etc. Do you think that there was a deliberate effort to destroy the symbols of Iraqi identity–to wipe the slate clean–so that the society could be rebuilt according to a neoliberal, “free market”model?

Nir Rosen: There certainly was no plan on the part of the occupying forces. In fact, that’s the main reason that things have gone so horribly wrong in Iraq; there was no plan for anything; good or bad.

The looting was not “deliberate” American policy. It was simply incompetence. The destruction of Iraq’s cultural icons was incompetence, also—as well as stupidity, ignorance and criminal neglect.

I don’t believe that there was really any deliberate malice in the American policy; regardless of the malice with which it may have been implemented by the troops on the ground. The destruction of much of Iraq was the result of Islamic and sectarian militias–both Sunni and Shiite–seeking to wipe out hated symbols. The Americans didn’t know enough about Iraq to intentionally execute such a plan even if it did exist. And, I don’t think it did.

Question: The media rarely mentions the 4 million refugees created by the Iraq war. What do you think the long-term effects of this humanitarian crisis will be?

Nir Rosen: Well, the smartest Iraqis–the best educated, the professionals, the middle and upper classes—have all left or been killed. So the society is destroyed. So there is no hope for a non-sectarian Iraq now.

The refugees are getting poorer and more embittered. Their children cannot get an education and their resources are limited. Look at the Palestinian refugee crisis. In 1948 you had about 800,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes and driven into Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East. Over time, they were politicized, mobilized and militarized. The militias they formed to liberate their homeland were manipulated by the governments in the region and they became embroiled in regional conflicts, internal conflicts and, tragically, conflicts with each other. They were massacred in Lebanon and Jordan. And, contributed to instability in those countries.

Now you have camps in Lebanon producing jihadists who go to fight in Iraq or who fight the Lebanese Army. And this is all from a population of just 800,000 mostly rural, religiously-homogeneous (Sunni) refugees.

Now, you have 2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, a million in Jordan and many more in other parts of the Middle East. The Sunnis and Shiites already have ties to the militias. They are often better educated, urban, and have accumulated some material wealth. These refugees are increasingly sectarian and are presently living in countries with a delicate sectarian balance and very fragile regimes. Many of the refugees will probably link up with Islamic groups and threaten the regimes of Syria and Jordan. They’re also likely to exacerbate sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

They’re also bound to face greater persecution as they “wear out their welcome” and put a strain on the country’s resources.

They’ll probably form into militias and either try go home or attempt to overthrow the regimes in the region. Borders will change and governments will fall. A new generation of fighters will emerge and there’ll be more attacks on Americans.

Question: You have compared Iraq to Mogadishu. Could you elaborate?

Nir Rosen: Somalia hasn’t had a government since 1991. I’ve been to Mogadishu twice. Its ruled by warlords who control their own fiefdoms. Those who have money can live reasonably well. That’s what it’s like in Iraq now—a bunch of independent city-states ruled by various militias—including the American militia and British militias.

Of course, Somalia is not very important beyond the Horn of Africa. It’s bordered by the sea, Kenya and Ethiopia. There’s no chance of the fighting in Somalia spreading into a regional war. Iraq is much more dangerous in that respect.

Question: Is the immediate withdrawal of all US troops really the best option for Iraq?

Nir Rosen: It really doesn’t matter whether the Americans stay or leave. There are no good options for Iraq; no solutions. The best we can hope for is that the conflict won’t spread. The best thing we can say about the American occupation is that it may soften the transition for the ultimate break up of Iraq into smaller fragments. A couple of years ago, I said that the Americans should leave to prevent a civil war and to allow the (Sunni) rejectionists to join the government once the occupation ended. Turns out, I was right; but, obviously, it’s too late now. The civil war has already been fought and won in many places, mainly by the Shiite militias.

The Americans are still the occupying force, which means that they must continue to repress people that didn’t want them there in the first place. But, then, if you were to ask a Sunni in Baghdad today what would happen if the Americans picked up and left, he’d probably tell you that the remaining Sunnis would be massacred. So, there’s no “right answer” to your question about immediate withdrawal.

Question: November is the 3rd anniversary of the US siege of Falluja. Could you explain what happened in Falluja and what it means to Iraqis and the people in the Middle East?

Nir Rosen: Falluja was a poor industrial town known only for its kabob which Iraqis stopped to get on the way to picnic at lake Habbaniya. There were no attacks on the Americans from Falluja during the combat-phase of the US invasion. When Saddam’s regime fell, the Fallujans began administering their own affairs until the Americans arrived. The US military leaders saw the Sunnis as the “bad guys”, so they treated them harshly. At first, the Fallujans ignored the rough treatment because the tribal leaders leaders wanted to give the Americans a chance.

Then there was a incident, in April 2003, where US troops fired on a peaceful demonstration and killed over a dozen unarmed civilians. This, more than anything else, radicalized the people and turned them against the Americans.

In the spring of 2004, four (Blackwater) American security contractors were killed in Falluja. Their bodies were burned and dismembered by an angry crowd. It was an insult to America’s pride. In retaliation, the military launched a massive attack which destroyed much of the city and killed hundreds of civilians. The US justified the siege by saying that it was an attack on foreign fighters that (they claimed) were hiding out in terrorist strongholds. In truth, the townspeople were just fighting to defend their homes, their city, their country and their religion against a foreign occupier. Some Shiite militiamen actually fought with the Sunnis as a sign of solidarity.

In late 2004, the Americans completely destroyed Falluja forcing tens of thousands of Sunnis to seek refuge in western Baghdad. This is when the sectarian clashes between the Sunnis and Shiites actually began. The hostilities between the two groups escalated into civil war.

Falluja has now become a symbol throughout the Muslim world of the growing resistance to American oppression.

Question: The political turmoil in Lebanon continues even though the war with Israel has been over for more than a year. Tensions are escalating because of the upcoming presidential elections which are being closely monitored by France, Israel and the United States. Do you see Hezbollah’s role in the political process as basically constructive or destructive? Is Hezbollah really a “terrorist organization” as the Bush administration claims or a legitimate resistance militia that is necessary for deterring future Israeli attacks?

Nir Rosen: Hizballah is not a terrorist organization. It is a widely popular and legitimate political and resistance movement. It has protected Lebanon’s sovereignty and resisted American and Israeli plans for a New Middle East. It’s also among the most democratic of Lebanon’s political movements and one of the few groups with a message of social justice and anti imperialism. The Bush Administration is telling its proxies in the Lebanese government not to compromise on the selection of the next president. This is pushing Lebanon towards another civil war, which appears to be the plan. The US also started civil wars in Iraq, Gaza and Somalia.

Question: The humanitarian situation in Somalia is steadily worsening. The UN reports that nearly 500,000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu and are living in makeshift tent cities with little food or water. The resistance–backed by the former government–the Islamic Courts Union– is gaining strength and fighting has broken out in 70% of the neighborhoods in Mogadishu. Why is the US backing the invading Ethiopian army? Is Somalia now facing another bloody decades-long war or is there hope that the warring parties can resolve their differences?

Nir Rosen: After a decade and a half without a government and the endless fighting of clan-based militias; clan leaders decided to establish the Islamic Courts (Somalis are moderate Shaafi Muslims) to police their own people and to prevent their men provoking new conflicts. Islam was the only force powerful enough to unite the Somalis; and it worked.

There have only been a half-dozen or so Al Qaida suspects who have-at one time or another—entered or exited through Somalia. But the Islamic Courts is not an al Qaida organization. Still, US policy in the Muslim world is predicated on the “War on Terror”, so there’s an effort to undermine any successful Islamic model, whether it’s Hamas in Gaza, or Hizballah in Lebanon.

The US backed the brutal Somali warlords and created a counter-terrorism coalition which the Somalis saw as anti-Islamic. The Islamic Court militias organized a popular uprising that overthrew the warlords and restored peace and stability to much of Somalia for the first time in more than a decade. The streets were safe again, and exiled Somali businessmen returned home to help rebuild.

I was there during this time.

The Americans and Ethiopians would not tolerate the new arrangement. The Bush administration sees al Qaeda everywhere. So, they joined forces with the Ethiopians because Ethiopia’s proxies were overthrown in Mogadishu and because they feel threatened by Somali nationalism. With the help of the US, the Ethiopian army deposed the Islamic Courts and radicalized the population in the process. Now Somalia is more violent than ever and jihadi-type groups are beginning to emerge where none had previously existed.

Question: The US-led war in Afghanistan is not going well. The countryside is controlled by the warlords, the drug trade is flourishing, and America’s man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, has little power beyond the capital. The Taliban has regrouped and is methodically capturing city after city in the south. Their base of support, among disenchanted Pashtuns, continues to grow. How important is it for the US to succeed in Afghanistan? Would failure threaten the future of NATO or the Transatlantic Alliance?

Nir Rosen: Although the US has lost in Afghanistan; what really matters is Pakistan. That’s where the Taliban and al Qaeda are actually located. No, I’m NOT saying that the US should take the war into Pakistan. The US has already done enough damage. But as long as America oppresses and alienates Muslims; they will continue to fight back.

Question: The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli sanctions for more than a year. Despite the harsh treatment—the lack of food, water and medical supplies
(as well as the soaring unemployment and the random attacks in civilian areas)—there have been no retaliatory suicide attacks on Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers. Isn’t this proof that Hamas is serious about abandoning the armed struggle and joining the political process? Should Israel negotiate directly with the “democratically elected” Hamas or continue its present strategy of shoring up Mahmoud Abbas and the PA?

Nir Rosen: Hamas won democratic elections that were widely recognized as free and fair; that is, as free and as fair as you can expect when Israel and America are backing one side while trying to shackle the other. Israel and the US never accepted the election results. That’s because Hamas refuses to capitulate. Also, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which is active in Egypt and Jordan and both those countries fear an example of a Muslim brothers in government, and they fear an example of a movement successfully defying the Americans and Israelis, so they backed Fatah. Everyone fears that these Islamic groups will become a successful model of resistance to American imperialism and hegemony. The regional dictators are especially afraid of these groups, so they work with the Americans to keep the pressure on their political rivals. Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah collaborates with the US and Israel to undermine Hamas and force the government to collapse. Although they have failed so far; the US and Israel continue to support the same Fatah gangs that attempted the coup to oust Hamas. The plan backfired, and Hamas gunmen managed to drive Fatah out of Gaza after a number of violent skirmishes.

Israel should stop secretly supporting Fatah and adopt the “One State” solution. It should grant Palestinians and other non-Jews equal rights, abandon Zionism, allow Palestinian refugees to return, compensate them, and dismantle the settlements. If Israel doesn’t voluntarily adopt the One State solution and work for a peaceful transition, (like South Africa) then eventually it will be face expulsion by the non Jewish majority in Greater Palestine, just like the French colonists in Algeria.

This is not a question of being “pro” or “anti” Israel; that’s irrelevant when predicting the future, and for any rational observer of the region it’s clear that Israel is not a viable state in the Middle East as long as it is Zionist.

Question: The US military is seriously over-stretched. Still, many political analysts believe that Bush will order an aerial assault on Iran. Do you think the US will carry out a “Lebanon-type” attack on Iran; bombing roads, bridges, factories, government buildings, oil depots, Army bases, munitions dumps, airports and nuclear sites? Will Iran retaliate or simply lend their support to resistance fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Nir Rosen: I think it’s quite likely that Bush will attack Iran; not because he has a good reason to, but because Jesus or God told him to and because Iran is part of the front-line resistance (along with Hizballah, Syria and Hamas) to American hegemony in the region. Bush believes nobody will have the balls to go after the Iranians after him. He believes that history will vindicate him and he’ll be looked up to as a hero, like Reagan.

There is also a racist element in this. Bush thinks that Iran is a culture based on honor and shame. He believes that if you humiliate the Iranian regime, then the people will rise up and overthrow it. Of course, in reality, when you bomb a country the people end up hating you and rally around the regime. Just look at the reaction of the Serbs after the bombing by NATO, or the Americans after September 11.

Iran is more stable than Iraq and has a stronger military. Also, the US is very vulnerable in the region—both in Iraq and Afghanistan. America’s allies are even more vulnerable. An attack on Iran could ignite a regional war that would spiral out of control. Nothing good would come of it.

The Bush administration needs to negotiate with Iran and pressure Israel to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Question: Bush’s war on terror now extends from the southern border of Somalia to the northern tip of Afghanistan—from Africa, through the Middle East into Central Asia. The US has not yet proven—in any of these conflicts– that it can enforce its will through military means alone. In fact, in every case, the military appears to be losing ground. And it’s not just the military that’s bogged down either. Back in the United States, the economy is rapidly deteriorating. The dollar is falling, the housing market is collapsing, consumer spending is shrinking, and the country’s largest investment banks are bogged down with over $200 billion in mortgage-backed debt. Given the current state of the military and the economy, do you see any way that the Bush administration can prevail in the war on terror or is US power in a state of irreversible decline?

Nir Rosen: Terror is a tactic; so you can’t go to war with it in the first place. You can only go to war with people or nations. To many people it seems like the US is at war with Muslims. This is just radicalizing more people and eroding America’s power and influence in the world. But, then, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Bio: Nir Rosen is a Fellow at the New America Foundation who has written extensively on American policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. He spent more than two years in Iraq reporting on the American occupation, the relationship between Americans and Iraqis, the development of postwar Iraqi religious and political movements, interethnic and sectarian relations, and the Iraqi civil war. His reporting and research also focused on the origins and development of Islamist resistance, insurgency, and terrorist organizations. He has also reported from Somalia, where he investigated Islamist movements; Jordan, where he investigated the origins and future of the Zarqawi movement; and Pakistan, where he investigated the madrassas and pro-Taliban movements. Rosen’s book on postwar Iraq, In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, was published by Free Press in 2006.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The cyber guardians of honest journalism By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
11/30/07 “

What has changed in the way we see the world? For as long as I can remember, the relationship of journalists with power has been hidden behind a bogus objectivity and notions of an “apathetic public” that justify a mantra of “giving the public what they want.” What has changed is the public’s perception and knowledge. No longer trusting what they read and see and hear, people in western democracies are questioning as never before, particularly via the internet. Why, they ask, is the great majority of news sourced to authority and its vested interests? Why are many journalists the agents of power, not people?

Much of this bracing new thinking can be traced to a remarkable UK website, MediaLens. The creators of Media Lens, David Edwards and David Cromwell, assisted by their webmaster, Olly Maw, have had such an extraordinary influence since they set up the site in 2001 that, without their meticulous and humane analysis, the full gravity of the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been consigned to bad journalism’s first draft of bad history. Peter Wilby put it well in his review of Guardians of Power: the Myth of the Liberal Media, a drawing-together of Media Lens essays published by Pluto Press, which he described as “mercifully free of academic or political jargon and awesomely well researched. All journalists should read it, because the Davids make a case that demands to be answered.”

That appeared in the New Statesman. Not a single major newspaper reviewed the most important book about journalism I can remember. Take the latest Media Lens essay, “Invasion – a Comparison of Soviet and Western Media Performance.” Written with Nikolai Lanine, who served in the Soviet army during its 1979-89 occupation of Afghanistan, it draws on Soviet-era newspaper archives, comparing the propaganda of that time with current western media performance. They are revealed as almost identical.

Like the reported “success” of the US “surge” in Iraq, the Soviet equivalent allowed “poor peasants [to work] the land peacefully.” Like the Americans and British in Iraq and Afghanistan, Soviet troops were liberators who became peacekeepers and always acted in “self-defense.” The BBC’s Mark Urban’s revelation of the “first real evidence that President Bush’s grand design of toppling a dictator and forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East could work” (Newsnight, 12 April 2005) is almost word for word that of Soviet commentators claiming benign and noble intent behind Moscow’s actions in Afghanistan. The BBC’s Paul Wood, in thrall to the 101st Airborne, reported that the Americans “must win here if they are to leave Iraq . . . There is much still to do.” That precisely was the Soviet line.

The tone of Media Lens’s questions to journalists is so respectful that personal honesty is never questioned. Perhaps that explains a reaction that can be both outraged and comic. The BBC presenter Gavin Esler, champion of Princess Diana and Ronald Reagan, ranted at Media Lens emailers as “fascistic” and “beyond redemption.” Roger Alton, editor of the London Observer and champion of the invasion of Iraq, replied to one ultra-polite member of the public: “Have you been told to write in by those c*nts at Media Lens?” When questioned about her environmental reporting, Fiona Harvey, of the Financial Times, replied: “You’re pathetic . . . Who are you?”

The message is: how dare you challenge us in such a way that might expose us? How dare you do the job of true journalism and keep the record straight? Peter Barron, the editor of the BBC’s Newsnight, took a different approach. “I rather like them. David Edwards and David Cromwell are unfailingly polite, their points are well argued and sometimes they’re plain right.”

David Edwards believes that “reason and honesty are enhanced by compassion and compromised by greed and hatred. A journalist who is sincerely motivated by concern for the suffering of others is more likely to report honestly …” Some might call this an exotic view. I don’t. Neither does the Gandhi Foundation, which on 2 December will present Media Lens with the prestigious Gandhi International Peace Award. I salute them.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Bombs Away? By Curt Guyette & W. Kim Heron (Scott Ritter interview)

Dandelion Salad

By Curt Guyette and W. Kim Heron
11/30/07 “Metro Times

Arms expert Scott Ritter says the U.S. plans to attack Iran. MT asks why he’s so sure.

It seems that with each passing week there are more stories raising the specter of George Bush turning Iraq and Afghanistan into a bloody trifecta by attacking Iran.

In mainstream daily papers we see pieces like one by Gannett’s John Yaukey, who wrote in early November that “confrontation could be near” because “Iran continues to taunt the United States with its aggressive posturing in Iraq and Lebanon while pushing ahead with its nuclear research …”

We are also witnessing what appears to be a chilling rerun of the Iraq debacle. Confronted with evidence that calls into question the status of Iran’s nuclear program, the Bush administration is shifting its rhetoric.

“The Bush administration has charged that Iran is funding anti-American fighters in Iraq and sending in sophisticated explosives to bleed the U.S. mission, although some of the administration’s charges are disputed by Iraqis as well as the Iranians,” the Los Angeles Times reported in October. “Still, … diplomatic and military officials say they fear that the overreaching of a confident Iran, combined with growing U.S. frustrations, could set off a dangerous collision.”

Look beyond daily papers — from Seymour Hersh’s reporting in The New Yorker to articles in The Nation — and the picture emerges of an administration that is determined to attack Iran.

John H. Richardson’s “The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know” in the November issue of Esquire magazine is particularly eye-opening. Richardson, using two former high-ranking Middle East experts who worked for the White House as his primary sources, warns that the Bush administration is “headed straight for war with Iran” and that “it had been set on this course for years.”

“It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn’t wait for the UN inspectors to leave,” writes Richardson, who details the Bush administration’s success at scuttling diplomatic efforts — notably involving then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — to reach a peaceful accord with Iran. “The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline. …”

With all this in mind, we decided to talk with the man who literally wrote the book on Bush’s intentions. Nearly a year ago, Scott Ritter’s Target Iran was published, and he’s been sounding the claxon of impending war ever since.

A former Marine Corps intelligence officer, Ritter served as chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 when he left as a pointed critic of the Clinton administration’s commitment to weapons inspection and its Iraq policy. Before the United States’ 2003 invasion, Ritter loudly disputed the Bush administration’s claims regarding weapons of mass destruction under Saddam’s control and predicted that, instead of the quick and easy war being promised, Iraq would turn into a quagmire, though not necessarily of the type he envisioned. His analyses have been embraced by both the right and the left at various points. He portrays himself as the straight-shooting analyst unconcerned by who supports him or whom he offends.

To learn what he thinks the future holds for Iran, and the consequences of a U.S. invasion, we recently sat down for a 90-minute phone interview with Ritter. What follows is a condensed version of that conversation. 

Metro Times: A year ago, when your book Target Iran came out, you were sounding the alarm about war being imminent. Why do you think that attack hasn’t occurred?

Scott Ritter: Let’s remember that this is an elective war, not a war of necessity. A war of necessity would be fought at the point and time a conflict is required, if somebody is threatening to invade you, to attack, etc. But an elective war is one where we choose to go to war. It will be conducted on a timescale that’s beneficial to those who are planning the conflict.

As far as why it hasn’t happened, there’s any number of reasons. One, the Bush administration has not been able to stabilize Iraq to the level they would like to see prior to expanding military operations in the region. Two, the international community has not rallied around the cause of Iran’s nuclear program representing a casus belli to the extent that the Bush administration would like. They were hopeful that there would be more action from the [United Nations] Security Council. It took a long time to get the issue shifted from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s headquarters to the Security Council. And even when it got shifted to the Security Council, the Council took very timid steps, not decisive steps. The Bush administration sort of tied its hands at that point in time. I think you are seeing increasing frustration today at the slow pace.

Also, the need to redefine the Iranian threat away from exclusively being focused on nuclear activity, because now you have the difficulty of both the IAEA saying there is no nuclear weapons program and the CIA saying pretty much the same thing. So the Bush administration needs to redefine the Iranian threat, which they have been doing successfully, casting Iran as the largest state sponsor of terror, getting the Senate resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command a terrorist organization, and creating a perception amongst the American people, courtesy of a compliant media, that talks about the reason why things are going bad in Iraq is primarily because of Iranian intervention.

They have been working very hard to get back on track. I still believe that we are seeing convergence here. The Bush administration is moving very aggressively toward military action with Iran. 

MT: Is your conclusion that an attack is imminent based on the administration’s statements and actions, like labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, or do you also have sources within the intelligence community and the military and the administration telling you what’s going on?

Ritter: I don’t have any current sources of the sort you just spoke of. I was plugged in back in 2006 to good quality current information. But I haven’t been plugged in recently, so I have to use some sort of analytical methodology as opposed to saying, “Aha, I got it from the horse’s mouth.” But there’s nothing that has occurred that leads me to believe the Bush administration has changed its policy direction. In fact there has been much that’s occurred that reinforces the earlier conclusions that were based on good sources of information. We take a look at items in the defense budget, the rapid conversion of heavy bombers to carry bunker-busting bombs on a specific time frame, the massive purchasing of oil to fill up the strategic oil reserve by April 2008. Everything points to April 2008 to being a month of some criticality. It also matches my analysis that the Bush administration will want to carry this out prior to the crazy political season of the summer of 2008. 

MT: Last year you expressed hope that if Democrats took control of Congress it might pass legislation that could block the march toward war. Do you see them stepping up?

Ritter: No. They just passed a resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command as a terrorist organization. Unless there is a radical reawakening in Congress, I don’t see them passing any sort of pre-emptive legislation of that nature. 

MT: But it is now clearer than ever that our invasion of Iraq has been a disaster. How do you explain the lack of opposition?

Ritter: It’s difficult to explain. First of all you have to note, from the public side, that very few Americans actually function as citizens anymore. What I mean by that are people who invest themselves in this country, people who care, who give a damn. Americans are primarily consumers today, and so long as they continue to wrap themselves in the cocoon of comfort, and the system keeps them walking down a road to the perceived path of prosperity, they don’t want to rock the boat. If it doesn’t have a direct impact on their day-to-day existence, they simply don’t care.

There’s a minority of people who do, but the majority of Americans don’t. And if the people don’t care — and remember, the people are the constituents — if the constituents don’t care, then those they elect to higher office won’t feel the pressure to change.

The Democrats, one would hope, would live up to their rhetoric, that is, challenging the Bush administration’s imperial aspirations. Once it became clear Iraq was an unmitigated disaster, one would have thought that when the Democrats took control of Congress they would have sought to reimpose a system of checks and balances, as the Constitution mandates. But instead the Democrats have put their focus solely on recapturing the White House, and, in doing so, will not do anything that creates a political window of opportunity for their Republican opponents.

The Democrats don’t want to be explaining to an apathetic constituency, an ignorant constituency whose ignorance is prone to be exploited because it produces fear, fear of the unknown, and the global war on terror is the ultimate fear button. The Democrats, rather than challenging the Bush administration’s position on the global war on terror, challenging the notion of these imminent threats, continues to play them up because that is the safest route toward the White House. At least that is their perception.

The last thing they are gong to do is pass a piece of legislation that opens the door for the Republicans to say, “Look how weak these guys are on terror. They’re actually defending the Iranians. They’re defending this Ahmadinejad guy. They’re defending the Holocaust denier. They’re defending the guy who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” The Democrats don’t want to go up against that. They don’t have the courage of conviction to enter into that debate and stare at whoever makes that statement and say they’re a bald-faced liar. They’re not going to go that route. 

MT: Do you think there is anything that can happen at this point that will stop this attack?

Ritter: You have to take a look at external influences, not internal ones. I don’t think there is anything happening inside the United States that’s going to stop that attack. I do believe that, for instance, if Pakistan continues to melt down, that could be something that creates such a significant diversion the Bush administration will not be able to make its move on Iran.

To attack Iran, they’re going to need a nice lull period. That’s what they’re pushing with this whole surge right now. They’re creating the perception that things are quieting. I don’t know how many people picked up on it, but one day we’re told that 2007’s been the bloodiest year for U.S. forces in Iraq, the next day we’re told that attacks against American troops are dropping at a dramatic pace. So, what’s the media focus on? The concept of attacks dropping at a dramatic pace. No one’s talking about the fact, wait a minute, we’ve just lost more guys than we’ve ever lost before.

They are pushing the perception that Iraq is now stable. If you have a situation in Pakistan that explodes out of control, where you suddenly have nuclear weapons at risk of falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, that could stop it. If Turkey attacks Kurdistan and that conflict spins out of control, that could put a halt to it. These are things that could overshadow even Dick Cheney’s desire to bomb Iran.

And there could be some other unforeseen meltdown globally that’s not on the radar at this time, that, unfortunately, we have to be hoping for to stop an attack on Iran. And that says a lot, that we have to hope for disaster to prevent unmitigated disaster. 

MT: What’s the motivation?

Ritter: The ideologues who are in there believe the United States in the post-Cold War environment needed to fill the gap created by the demise of the Soviet Union so that no nation or group of nations would ever again confront us as equals. And in order to do this, they basically divided the world into spheres of strategic interest and said we will impose our will. And the Middle East is one such area. There’s a whole host of reasons to do this.

It’s not just supporting Israel. It’s not just taking down Saddam. It’s about geopolitics. It’s about looking down the road toward China and India, the world’s two largest developing economies, especially the Chinese, and the absolute fear that this resurgent Chinese economy brings in the hearts of American industrialists and the need to dictate the pace of Chinese economic development by controlling their access to energy. And controlling central Asian and Middle East energy areas is key in the strategic thinking of the Bush administration.

So, there’s a lot of complexity at play here. But you say why do they want to do this? It’s about as Condoleezza Rice continuously says before the U.S. Congress: It’s about regional transformation, inclusive of regime change. It turns the Middle East into a sphere of interest that we have tremendous control over. That’s what’s behind all this. 

MT: And when Bush talks about being an instrument of God, do you think he really believes that or is that just political posturing, playing to the religious base?

Ritter: That’s a question that can only be asked of George Bush. But I find it disturbing that an American politician who is supposed to be the head of a secular nation where religion is protected but there is no state religion, and who has control over the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, not only openly talks about how God is his final adviser, which pretty much negates the role of Congress or any other system of governmental oversight, checks and balances of the executive, but also embraces a kind of evangelicalism that gives legitimacy to the notion of the rapture, Armageddon, the apocalypse as a good thing.

Here’s a man who speaks of World War III and the apocalypse and he has his hand on the button and he talks to God. I don’t know, if it’s a show, its a dangerous show, if its real, we should all be scared to death. 

MT: Even going back to before the start of the Iraq war, the national mainstream media just seemed to be beating the drum for it. Why do you think that is?

Ritter: Again, only they can really answer that question, but I think it is clear the mainstream media, while not outright fabricators, are not there to tell the truth, they’re there to win over ratings. They will package their programming in ways that sells well to an audience. And we are dealing with a complacent American audience, where in-depth reality stories are trumped by reality TV. I don’t see the programming director saying, “Look, we’re going to spend an hour explaining to the American people why Ahmadinejad’s speech wasn’t that big of a deal.” Or they can say, “Hell, no; in three minutes we can lead with a story saying he’s a Holocaust denier and win everybody’s attention.” 

MT: Do you think the resolutions in 2001 and 2002 authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq give Bush the authority to attack Iran without first obtaining congressional approval?

Ritter: I’d like to believe it didn’t, but unfortunately when you take a look at it, and I’ve had constitutional scholars take a look at it, the feeling is that, yeah, because of the terrorist threat, if you take a look at the fine print on both of those resolutions, it gives the president authorization to use military force to take out groups, organizations, individuals, etc. who are linked to the events of 9/11. And the president has continued to make the case that Iran is linked to the attacks.  

MT: Do you think an attack on Iran would be an illegal war of aggression and a war crime under international law?

Ritter: It depends on what triggers it. If Iran engages in an action that legitimizes a military response, the answer is no.

There are two conditions that we are legally allowed to engage in military operations. Militaries are bound by the charter of the United Nations’ Article 51, legitimate self-defense, and a Chapter 7 resolution passed by the Security Council authorizing military force to be used. If we attack Iran void of any of these, especially when it can be shown that we have hyped up a threat in defense of pre-emption — I think the Nuremberg Tribunals from 1946 have set a clear precedent with Judge Jackson condemning German generals to death for invading Denmark and Norway in the same premise of pre-emption. It is quite clear this is illegal. Unfortunately the Nuremburg Tribunals don’t have any weight when it comes to prosecution of the law.

The international community has not agreed upon a definition of what pre-emptive aggression is, and what the consequences of such are. Let’s keep in mind if we attack Iran we’re guilty of no more than what we’re already guilty of in attacking Iraq. Hyping up a threat where one doesn’t exist, going to war void of any legitimacy, violating everything we claim to stand for. Yet we don’t see any war crimes tribunals being convened for the Bush administration over Iraq. 

MT: One of the scenarios that’s been raised has Israel launching the first strike, prompting a response from Iran that would then pull us in.

Ritter: I think Israel is capable of doing a one-time limited shot into Iran. One has to take a look at the distances involved and the complexity of military operations … the lack of friendly airspace between corridors into and out of Iran. It’s nice to talk about an Israeli attack, but the reality is far different. Israel had trouble dominating Hezbollah right on its own border with air power.

I think Israel could actually go into Iran and get their butts kicked. It may not go off as well as they think it’s going to go off. It is too long of a distance, too much warning for the Iranians. The Iranians are too locked-in; they’re too well prepared. It doesn’t make any sense. Israel doesn’t have the ability to sustain a strike. Like I said, they might be able to pull off a limited one-time shot. But I think the fallout from that would be devastating for the United States. As much as we’ve worked to get an Arab alliance against Iran, that would just fall apart overnight with an Israeli attack. No Muslim state will stand by and defend Israel after it initiated a strike against Iran. It just will not happen. And the United States knows this. I just think it’s ludicrous to talk about an Israeli attack.

I think what we’re looking at is an American attack. It’s the only viable option both in terms of initiation and sustainment of the strike. Israel might be drawn in after that. There’s no doubt in my mind the Iranians will launch missiles against Israeli targets, either directly or through proxies, and that Israel will suffer. This is something I try to warn all my Israeli friends about. If you think Saddam Hussein firing 41 missiles was inconvenient, wait until the Iranians fire a thousand of them. It goes well beyond an inconvenience; it becomes a national tragedy. And then the escalation that can occur from there.

I think right now what the Bush administration is conceiving is a limited strike against Iran to take out certain Revolutionary Guard sites and perhaps identified nuclear infrastructure. Not a massive, sustained bombardment, but a limited strike. But we were always told in the Marine Corps that the enemy has a vote and no plan survives initial contact with the enemy. So we may seek to have a limited strike, but if the Iranians do a massive response, things could spin out of control quickly. 

MT: What do you foresee as some of the possible consequences? No one is talking about putting troops on the ground in Iran are they?

Ritter: A while back there was talk about having forces move in on Tehran via Azerbaijan. But I think those plans have gone to the wayside. If Iran is successful in shutting down the Straits of Hormuz, it will force our hand and we’ll have to put the Marines in to secure the Straits. If the conflict drags on and air power is not sufficient to break the will of the Iranian resistance, the Army may have to activate its option to put a reinforced corps into Azerbaijan and punch down the Caspian Sea coast. But these are definitely not the leading options at this point in time. 

MT: When you say a “limited strike,” what might that look like in more detail?

Ritter: Iran is a big country. There are a number of target sites we have to look at. To give an example, to take out a number of air defense sites during the Gulf War, a sortie required over 100 aircraft. It’s not just one airplane coming in, firing a missile and going out. You have to secure a corridor, you have to put a combat air patrol over it, you have to have air-to-air refueling, you have to have aircraft protecting the refuelers, and then you have to have the strike aircraft themselves. You have to have pre- and post-reconnaissance. When you replicate this, let’s say, over 20 targets, we don’t have enough airplanes to do it all at once. So, it’s something that will occur in phases. What you look at is maybe a three- to five-day bombardment where we take out sites, radar sites and air defense sites the first day, the second we pound the nuclear sites, the third day we take the Revolutionary Guard Command sites, the fourth and fifth days we do follow-up strikes to make sure all targets are destroyed, then we’re done. That’s probably what we’re looking at. 

MT: How much damage could be done to the Iranian nuclear program?

Ritter: No damage would be done to it. Remember, the problem the Iranians face isn’t the manufacture of this equipment. They’ve already mastered that. And if you think for a second machine tools that are used to manufacture enrichment equipment are going to be stored out in the open where we can bomb them, you’re wrong. They’ve been dispersed. The Iraqis were masters of this. We spent a lot of money blowing up concrete, but we never got the machine tools, because they were always hidden. They were always evacuated the day before — they’d take it to palm groves or warehouses that we didn’t know about, or hidden in narrow streets. And we never detected that, and we never got them. The Iranians are even better. They’ve been mastering the technology of deep-earth tunneling, so they can hide things underground that we can’t reach with our conventional weapons. So I just think it is absurd to talk about bombing these sites, because all we’ll do is blow up buildings that can be rebuilt.

A couple of sites are more sensitive; I think the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, that’ll be a major blow. It’s a site that can be rebuilt however. It was a facility put in by the Chinese, but the Iranians have the blueprints. It’ll take time, but they can rebuild it. At the best we are talking about retarding an Iranian program. But what’s worse is if we bomb them, we may retard it, but we might also make it a militant program. Meaning that if their objective is only nuclear energy and suddenly they’re being attacked and the world is doing nothing, we may push the Iranians into weaponization even though that is something they don’t want to do. That’s not in the cards right now. But our attack will have little or no impact on anything. That’s for certain. 

MT: So what do you think the United States should be doing to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?

Ritter: I think that is the wrong question. That presumes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. There’s no evidence of that whatsoever. So rather than pose a question that legitimizes a certain point, I think the question should be, “What should the United States be doing in regards to Iran?” I think we should be seeking to normalize relations with Iran. We should be seeking stability in the region. This concept that the United States gets to dictate to sovereign people the makeup of their government is absurd. First of all, the theocracy in Iran, while not a model, for instance … it’s an Iranian problem, not an American problem. The day of the exportation of the Islamic revolution is long gone. The Iranians are not seeking to convert by the sword anybody. It’s a nation that has serious internal problems. Economic. Huge unemployment. It’s a nation that recognizes these problems. And they are in desperate need of not only political stability but also the economic benefits that come with this stability.

The Iranians want a normalization of relations with the United States that would be inclusive of peaceful coexistence with Israel. They’ve said this over and over and over again.

So what the United States should be doing is exploiting the olive branch that is being held out by the Iranians. We should be engaging them diplomatically. We should be terminating economic sanctions and seeking to exploit the leverage that comes with having American businesses working inside Iran to try and change them from within. We should be doing everything to get Iran to be a positive player in the region, especially considering the debacle that’s unfolding in Iraq. Having the Iranians working with us to engender stability as opposed to being at cross-purposes.

The same can be said in Afghanistan and the entire central Asian region. We keep putting our hopes on allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, which produced 14 of the hijackers who slaughtered Americans on 9/11. Pakistan, which was the political sponsor of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to have ties to radical Islamic terror organizations. These are our allies? And we call Iran the enemy? We’ve got it backward. The Iranians are actually the ones we should be working with to oppose dictatorships like Pakistan and irresponsible governments like Saudi Arabia’s.  

MT: Even under Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? It seems like before him, just after 2001, there was a window where the Iranians were seeking rapprochement and doing things perhaps quietly and not well-known to Americans to stabilize things.

Ritter: You have to remember that Ahmadinejad doesn’t make any policy. He is more than a figurehead, but constitutionally he’s hampered by the reality that the power resides with the theocrats. It’s the theocrats we need to be engaging, not Ahmadinejad. You engage the people who make the decisions. In the end we should be sending people to talk to the National Security Council, the Guardian Council, the representatives of the supreme leader. That’s where the power is, that’s where the decisions are made. Ahmadinejad is in reality just a minor inconvenience. The bottom line is, not only doesn’t he account for much, his words haven’t created a problem at all. Half the things we claim he said, he never said at all. And the other half we put out of context and exaggerate.

I’m not here to defend what the guy says. But the notion that just because a man dared question a 100 percent interpretation of the history of the Holocaust as put forward by Israel — and again, I’m not saying he’s right to do that — I’m just saying that because he dared do that, he’s suddenly evil incarnate and we need to go to war against this guy? No. At worst he’s a joke. He’s a guy whose words mean nothing, have no power, have no relevance. It’s the supreme leader that matters. And, yes, today the supreme leader continues to want to seek to normalize relations with the United States. 

MT: You are getting ready to go to Iran at the start of December. What’s the purpose of that trip?

Ritter: I’ve been trying to get there for some time now to talk with Iranian government officials trying to ascertain firsthand what’s going on in Iran. We get a lot of rhetoric here at home, we get the media saying a lot of things that are derived not so much from on-the-ground truth in Iran but rather from talking points put out by the White House. I think it is imperative that if we are going to have a national debate, discussion and dialogue about Iran, that we get all sides of the story.

Hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to meet with Iranian government officials, and have a chance to speak with some religious officials, and maybe even have a chance to talk about hypotheticals, not only what the current situation is, but how the Iranians would like to see this thing resolved and what mechanisms might need to be employed and maybe come back with some ideas that people in Congress might be interested in. 

MT: You’ve been to Iran before, haven’t you?

Ritter: Yes. And having been to Iran, I can tell you that it is the last nation in the world we should be saying these are people we have to fight. When you visit Iran and you see the Iranian people and you get the chance to talk to them, you realize that these are peaceful people. These are highly educated people. They are more like us than we can possibly imagine. They are very Western in their approach, although they reject the term Western because they say think those in the West are Neanderthals compared to the Persian culture. But they are very modern in their approach. They are a very modern people.

I always say the best way to stop a war with Iran would be to issue every American a passport and roundtrip ticket and money for a two-week stay and let them go there and when they came back they’d say there’s no way we should bomb this place. Once you’ve been to Iran you realize just how utterly useless the concept of militaristic confrontation is.  

MT: I think it is fair to say you are perceived as a champion of the left at this point. But 10 years ago, when you were criticizing the Clinton administration for undermining efforts to root out Saddam’s weapons, you were being heralded by the right. Saddam accused you of being an American spy. And you were criticized for being too close with the Israelis and sharing information with them. But when you go to Iraq prior to the war there, people on the right are calling you a traitor. The FBI put you under surveillance. What do you make of all that?

Ritter: What I make of it is my consistency and the inconsistency of those who seek to gain political advantage by manipulating the truth. When the right embraced what I was saying, they didn’t embrace the totality of what I was saying. They only embraced that aspect that was convenient for their political purposes. I would say today that the left is guilty of the same thing. I’m only convenient to the left when that which I espouse mirrors what they are pursuing. It will be interesting to see, if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, how popular I will be in certain circles, because I can guarantee I will go after her with all the vengeance I go after the Bush administration.

It’s not about being Republican, it’s not about being Democrat, it’s about being American. It’s about doing the right thing. And in the 1990s the right thing was to implement the [United Nations] Security Council resolutions calling for the disarmament of Iraq. That was the law. That was what I was tasked with doing, and the Clinton administration was not permitting the task to be accomplished.

By holding them to account, if that suddenly made me popular with the right, then so be it. It’s not something that I sought; it wasn’t the purpose of what I was doing. But when the complexity of my stance became inconvenient to the right, when they found out it wasn’t just about taking down the Clinton administration, but rather criticizing an American political position that put unilateral policy objectives and regime change higher up in the chain of priorities than disarmament, suddenly it wasn’t convenient anymore to be saying, “Hey, we like this guy.”

One cannot be held accountable for the words and actions of those who seek to selectively embrace what you say. 

MT: When Bush talks about World War III, how likely is the scenario that an attack by us would escalate into that?

Ritter: I don’t know about likely, but what I say is that I can sit here and spin scenarios that have it going in that direction. And these aren’t fantastic scenarios. 

MT: Would that be having Russia or China coming in?

Ritter: No, no, no. It would be something more like the destabilization of Pakistan to the point where a nuclear device gets in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who are aligned with al-Qaeda and there’s some sort of nuclear activity on the soil of the United States of America. That’s more what I’m looking at. I don’t think the Russians or the Chinese would become involved. They don’t need to. All they have to do is sit back and wait and pick up the pieces — because it is the end of the United States as a global superpower. That’s one thing I try to tell everybody. The danger of going after Iran is that it is just not worth it. What we can lose is everything, and what we gain is nothing. So why do it?
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The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know By John H. Richardson

The Administration’s plan for Iran By Seymour M. Hersh

Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water by PeaceLoveVegan (Kucinich; Paul)

Dandelion Salad

posted with permission from:


PeaceLoveVegan’s blog post

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In the last 24 hours, there has been a flurry of bulletins circulating from disgruntled former Dennis Kucinich supporters. They are all in a tizzy! Why? Because when questioned, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich suggested that he might consider Ron Paul as a running mate. Bear in mind that this is such a highly unlikely scenario one has to wonder why he would say that. Given the fact that these two candidates reside on opposite sides of the spectrum on most issues, they are not in the same political party, and Ron Paul is not even remotely interested in entertaining such an idea, the question remains, “Why would Dennis Kucinich say such a thing?”

I certainly can’t speak for him, but I am definitely not going to change my opinion of him because he said it. One possibility is that perhaps he was merely attempting to poignantly illustrate how miserably most Democratic leaders have failed the American people, to the degree that he would sooner consider a candidate from the opposing party, who on most issues, is his polar opposite as his running mate, than most any other Democrat in office. If his statement really disturbs you that much, then send the guy an email, and ask him why he said it!

But no—these unhappy folks, who until this moment, considered themselves die-hard Kucitizens, would rather just throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. They still believe in everything Dennis stands for, but they insist: “For him to even consider Ron Paul as a viable running mate, makes him unfit to lead the country!” Talk about overreacting!

Have these people even noticed that Dennis Kucinich is one of only six House members and one of only three Democratic House members to have voted against the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007? (Do they even know what that is?) Have they forgotten that Dennis is the only member of the House to have voted against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act?

Dennis is still the only Democratic presidential candidate who is committed to creating universal, single-payer, not-for-profit healthcare for all Americans, a Department of Peace and non-violence, marriage equality, and a green economy. He’s still the only candidate completely committed to ending our dependence on foreign oil and developing non-nuclear sustainable energy. He’s still the only candidate who will do away with NAFTA, the WTO, and the Patriot Act. While other candidates have said they cannot commit to getting us out of Iraq by 2013, he’s still the only candidate who is not only committed to getting us out of Iraq NOW, but he has a 12-point plan to make that happen. He’s still the only candidate who voted against the war and against every subsequent refunding of the war 100% of the time. He’s still the only candidate with a 100% positive voting record on animal rights and environmental issues. He’s still the only candidate with the courage to introduce articles of impeachment against anyone in this corrupt administration. And he’s still the only candidate who has never taken a single penny in special interest or corporate contributions, which means he can’t be bought. He’s the one candidate who will truly be representing the people.

I’ll admit that the first time I heard about this whole Ron Paul thing (actually, I heard Elizabeth say it in an interview last week), I was momentarily horrified. But then I took a few moments to think through what it all meant, and what I realized was that this changes absolutely nothing!

If you’re looking for perfection in a presidential candidate, you’ll not find it anywhere. If you’re looking for a candidate who will always say what you want to hear, and never say what you don’t want to hear, then you’re likely to find one who can’t be trusted. But if you’re looking for a presidential candidate who embodies the ideals of peace, prosperity, and equality, who will restore our freedoms and honor human rights all over the world, who will replace bad trade policies with fair trade agreements that will bring jobs back to Americans, honor workers’ rights, and protect the environment, who will allow women the dignity to choose what they can do with their own bodies without government interference, and who will lead this country with unparalleled compassion, courage, and integrity, then Dennis Kucinich is still your candidate.


Kucinich/Paul Ticket: A Fatal Error by KatherineHollyday

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Kucinich considers GOP Ron Paul as his running mate by Sabrina Eaton (audio)

After the Rep Debate: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell + Ron Paul VP Question (videos)

Kucinich suggests a Republican running mate by Sabrina Eaton & Stephen Koff

Ron Paul asked about Dennis Kucinich as a running mate (video)

Dec. 15th Kucinich Money Bomb: Pay It Forward (video)

Vote in 2nd Round of Presidential Idol Poll

Putting Peace First by Kevin Zeese (Kucinich; Paul)

Vote in 2nd Round of Presidential Idol Poll

Dandelion Salad

From d018019c

Vote for Dennis Kucinich in the Presidential Idol poll on who you want to be the Democratic nominee at 940winz.com. Dennis Kucinich won the 1st round with 59%. Mike Gravel was eliminated.



Putting Peace First by Kevin Zeese (Kucinich; Paul)

Dec. 15th Kucinich Money Bomb: Pay It Forward (video)

Kucinich brings his message of service to New Hampton By Bob Martin

Kucinich hopes America will take a new direction By Garry Rayno

Putting Peace First by Kevin Zeese (Kucinich; Paul)

Dandelion Salad

by Kevin Zeese
Dissident Voice
November 30th, 2007

In recent debates the candidates were asked whether they will support the nominee of their party. Despite increasingly harsh rhetoric between the candidates only two candidates had the courage to put peace before their party and refused to issue blanket support for their party nominee. Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Dennis Kucinich responded they would not support the nominee unless the nominee opposed war as an instrument of foreign policy.

This deserves loud applause from the peace movement. No doubt both candidates will pay a political price for taking such a stand. They may get the “Gravel Treatment” – presidential candidate Mike Gravel was harshly critical of the top tier candidates of the Democratic Party and now is excluded from the debates because the Democratic National Committee no longer considers him a serious candidate and the corporate media, which walks lock-step with the corporate parties, has refused to invite him to any debates. His campaign has all but disappeared.

Kucinich and Paul face other potential repercussions for putting the life and death issue of war and peace before party loyalty. Both are incumbent congressmen and if they are unsuccessful in getting their party’s presidential nomination will seek re-election to Congress. Will they find themselves with a well-funded primary challenger? And, if elected, will they find their committee assignments downgraded? Will they be appointed to subcommittee or committee chairmanships or passed over in favor of party loyalists? There are many ways for a political party to punish lack of party loyalty. So, Kucinich and Paul deserve a great deal of credit for publicly standing up for peace before party.

And, Kucinich and Paul did not just come out in opposition to the current disastrous occupation of Iraq. They came out more broadly for an end to the aggressively interventionist U.S. foreign policy that is dominated by militarism. This is the type of paradigm shifting policy change that is needed in U.S. foreign policy.

The fact that the U.S. spends as much as the whole world combined on the military ensures that every other aspect of American civil life is underfunded. It is why the debt is increasing, infrastructure is failing, the U.S. remains addicted to oil, college is overpriced, health care for all unachievable, and pre-school for children widely unavailable. If the U.S. wants to build economic security at home it needs to stop spending half the federal government’s discretionary spending on the military. If we want to build security from terrorism the U.S. needs to stop creating enemies faster than we kill them. If the U.S. wants “them” to stop hating “us” we need to stop behaving like an empire.

Sadly, at least one peace group, Friends Committee on National Legislation, is turning its back on these real peace candidates. FCNL whose slogan is “War is Not the Answer,” has published a voter guide that excludes Kucinich, Paul and Gravel – the three candidates who really believe war is not the answer. FCNL readers will not learn about these peace candidates in their on-line voter guide. Why? FCNL decided on an arbitrary cut-off point in polling that excludes these candidates. All the candidates that are included keep the military option for Iran on the table and do not advocate cutting military expenditures, only one (Bill Richardson) calls for complete withdrawal from Iraq. Are these “war is not the answer” candidates?

For Kucinich and Paul this stab in the back from a peace group comes at a bad time. Kucinich recently won a straw poll by the progressive Democracy For America and in early returns Kucinich is leading in the Progressive Democrats of America straw poll. Paul has been doing extremely well in straw polls around the country as well as in fundraising and in some polls is bettering candidates like John McCain. Both seem to be getting some traction but if the peace movement is not going to even report on their positions – a movement which should be the base of their support – then what hope do they have?

Sadly, the FCNL view is not uncommon among peace voters. Too many look at which candidate is most likely to win. Peace voters need to learn that voting for peace candidates is the way to increase their power. Voting for candidates who support the occupation or waffle on whether they will remove the troops in their first term is voting against the interests of peace. It is voting for war as the primary instrument of foreign policy and empire as the goal of U.S. policy – because that is the view of the candidates covered by FCNL. Peace voters need to have the courage to vote for peace candidates.

Paul and Kucinich differ on many issues – Paul is a free-market thinker who sees the solutions to economic disparity, lack of access to health care, poor education, the environment and the housing crisis in less government and more market-based solutions. Kucinich, while agreeing with Paul on bolstering civil liberties and individual rights, sees the solution to health care as ending the for-profit dominated health insurance industry and replacing it with a non-profit single payer system provided by the government. Similarly on environmental issues Kucinich favors a major government investment in alternative energy that is clean and sustainable, Paul doesn’t. Kucinich favors abortion rights, Paul opposes federal government involvement in abortion.

Peace voters have a choice between two solid peace candidates with two very different views of government and the economy, but they have more. Mike Gravel is another long-term peace advocate who has been active against war since the Vietnam era. Some peace voters may also see a candidate in Governor Bill Richardson who favors a complete withdrawal from Iraq, but is keeping the military option on the table for Iran and does not advocate shrinking the U.S. military.

And, in the General Election, peace voters will have other options no matter what the two establishment parties decide. The Green Party recently acquired a new member in Cynthia McKinney. The former Member of Congress recently registered as a Green in California and filed with the FEC to seek the Green presidential nomination. She has been strongly anti-war for her whole career and during her last congressional term sought impeachment of President Bush for his illegal invasion of Iraq.

Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer activist and former presidential candidate who has been working against the Iraq invasion and occupation since before the war began, is also considering a run for the presidency, possibly as a Green or as an independent. He has tirelessly worked to end the Iraq occupation and throughout his career has been an advocate for less spending on the military and more spending on the necessities of the people. Nader has also been a long-term advocate for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their deceptions and manipulations that led to the Iraq invasion.

Another Green candidate worthy of mention is Jared Ball. He is an assistant professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, has a radio show in Washington, DC, and is founder of FreeMix radio which puts together a monthly hip-hop compilation. He is a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and an opponent of the Iraq occupation.

The Libertarian Party also has several candidates running and they are likely to nominate a peace candidate as well. The LP’s official position on the Iraq occupation is: “It is time for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible in a manner consistent with the safety of our troops.”

Peace voters will have choices in 2008. There are several candidates who oppose both the Iraq occupation and the use of aggressive military force as the dominant approach to foreign policy. Peace voters make up the majority of Americans, but will they have the courage to vote their convictions or will they be manipulated by the two parties and the corporate media? Will they work and financially support peace candidates? It is a test for the peace movement to see whether it as the courage to put peace first.

Kevin Zeese is director of Democracy Rising and co-founder of Voters For Peace. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin’s website.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

11.29.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Nov. 29, 2007


“Musharraf Sheds Military Uniform,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Lebanese Army Chief Might Become Next President,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Annapolis Paves the Way for an Attack on Gaza,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“The 1947 UN Partition,” IBA TV, Israel
“PA Attacks Resistance in West Bank,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“International Community Must React Seriously to Israeli Measures,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“US Plans to Keep Bases in Iraq,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Saudi Security Foils Terrorist Plot,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
“Mobile Phone Gangs in Saudi Arabia,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani

Bomb-weilding man holding hostages at Clinton office (video links) (updated)

Update: 6:15 PM CT

It’s over, thankfully.

Hostages standoff ends at Clinton N.H. office-Man releases all hostages, walks out of building

h/t: CLG

Update: 4:40 PM CT

They have the suspect’s name (Leeland Eisenberg) and another hostage was just released and are reporting that one is still being held. The reporters are also stating that they do not have a number of possible hostages.

They are also reporting that the man may have road flares not bombs strapped to him.

Dandelion Salad

live video

David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Raw Story
Published: Friday November 30, 2007

A man with what appeared to be a bomb strapped to his chest walked into a Hillary Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire and is believed to be holding staffers hostage, according to several reports.

Details were still emerging about the situation early Friday afternoon, but Clinton was not in New Hampshire Friday. The man walked into the office around 1 p.m. Friday and apparently demanded to speak with the Democratic candidate.

According to television reports, police have the campaign office surrounded, and witnesses reported seeing an armored vehicle nearby. Sharpshooters also are posted on nearby rooftops. Dozens of officers who appear to be part of a SWAT team are setting up a staging area in a nearby parking lot.

Authorities know of at least two hostages being held at the office, and “the potential for harm to those hostages is high,” police Maj. Michael Hambrook told WHDH television. The hostage take also released two hostages, Hambrook said; the ages of those remaining was unknown. Reports indicate that the released hostages were a mother and her child.

CNN said the hostage taker has been described as a man in his 40s with salt-and-pepper hair.

Clinton has canceled a scheduled campaign stop in Virginia Friday.

“There are sharp shooters on the roof, and police are negotiating with someone in the building,” one witness, who did not want to be identified, told WMUR TV. “The police are notifying all the business owners on the street to evacuate. There are fire trucks behind the Hillary Clinton office.”

Authorities appear to have cleared the area around the office, in downtown Rochester, NH. Campaign offices of Barack Obama and John Edwards are apparently on the same block. Video of the scene broadcast Friday afternoon on MSNBC showed empty streets around the office, with police cars posted outside.

It was not immediately clear what was happening inside the office, and police have asked television stations to stop broadcasting live images of the offices so as not to interfere with their attempts to negotiate with the hostage-taker.

Witness Lettie Tzizik told WMUR that she spoke to a woman shortly after she was released from the office by the hostage-taker.

“A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, ‘You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape.”

Capt. Paul Callaghan, of the Rochester police department, told MSNBC that police had evacuated a two- to three-square block area around the campaign office, as well as a nearby elementary and middle school.

The New Hampshire State Police bomb squad arrived on the scene shortly before 2 p.m. Friday, Callaghan said. He would not say how many campaign staffers were being held hostage.

More information is available from local TV stations WMUR and WCVB.


This video is from MSNBC, broadcast on November 30, 2007.


Hostages Taken At Clinton N.H. Office

Boston News

POSTED: 1:24 pm EST November 30, 2007
UPDATED: 2:45 pm EST November 30, 2007

An armed man, possibly with a bomb, has taken people hostage at Hillary Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, N.H.

Clinton was attending a National Democratic Committee meeting in Virginia, but has canceled a 3:30 p.m. EST speech. New York TV station WNBC reported that the suspect has demanded to speak to her.

Police said a man in his 40s, with salt-and-pepper hair, is in the building and has what appears to be an explosive device strapped to his body, TV station WMUR reported.

Continued and live video

h/t: http://www.c-span.org/

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Kucinich brings his message of service to New Hampton By Bob Martin

Dandelion Salad

By Bob Martin
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich touched on a variety of issues as he spoke to an audience at New Hampton School, the thread that is used to ties them all together was willingness of American’s to accept the challenge of public service.

Kucinich spoke about issues for about 15 minutes and then took questions for the remainder of the hour. Kucinich began by saying he wonderful it was to be in New Hampton to speak with the younger community about what direction to take as president. He explained that he was in ninth-grade when John F. Kennedy made his famous inaugural address when he exhorted U.S. citizens, “… ask what you can do for your country.” He said that this was one of the reasons why he chose a life of serving the public.

Kucinich grew up in poverty, living in 21 places by the age of 17, including a couple of cars. According to his website, one of his most vivid memories is watching his parents count coins on their dresser in hope of having enough for bills. Acts of kindness by those around him made him appreciate public service, which is something that he takes pride in.

“Our lives belong not only to ourselves but also belong to others,” said Kucinich. “Our lives belong to a community.”


h/t: Dennis 4 President

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Kucinich hopes America will take a new direction By Garry Rayno

Check out his latest book:

The Courage to Survive

by Dennis Kucinich


order here

Destined to be one of most important and talked-about books of the year, “The Courage to Survive” is must reading for anyone who wants to know where Dennis Kucinich believes America must go and how we can get there. It is a book that sets the tone for the national debate as we choose new leadership in a time of great crisis and great opportunity.