Countdown: The Math to the Nomination + McCain’s Lobbyists Ties to Terrorists

Dandelion Salad


June 02, 2008

The Math to the Nomination

Keith reports on the lastest with the delegate math. Chuck Todd weighs in.

McCain’s Lobbyists Ties to Terrorists

Keith reports on the continuing problems with McCain and the lobbyists running his campaign. Chris Hayes from The Nation weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…Rupert Murdoch. Runners up Gretchen Carlson and Mike Gallagher.


Tonight’s: War Profiteering-Gate, Still the Campaign Issue-Gate and Out of Order-Gate.


What’s Next For Hillary?

The Corporations – Killers of Democracy By Siv O’Neall

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By Siv O’Neall
Jun 1, 2008

It’s way too late at this moment to ask the question: Are we going to lose our democracy? We may not all have noticed it yet, but the Big Corporations stole our democracy a long time ago.

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Kunstler: The Remorseless Algebra of a Deflationary Death Spiral By Mike Whitney

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By Mike Whitney
06/02/08 “ICH”

Look around. The evidence of a withering economy is everywhere. In “good times” consumers shun the canned meat aisle altogether, but no more. Today, Spam sales are soaring; grocery stores can’t keep it on the shelves. Everyone is looking for cheaper ways to feed their families. The Labor Dept. assures us that core-inflation is only 4 per cent, but everybody knows it’s load of malarkey. Food prices are going through the roof. White bread is up 13 percent, bacon is up 7 percent and peanut butter is up 9 percent. Inflation is rampant and there’s no end in sight. The dollar is closing in on the peso and working people are struggling just to get by. The bottom line is that more and more people in “the richest country on earth” are now surviving on processed pig-meat. That says it all.

In Santa Barbara parking lots are being converted into hostels so that families that lost their homes in the subprime fiasco can sleep in their cars and not be hassled by the cops. The same is true in LA where tent cities have sprung up around the railroad yards to accommodate the growing number of people who’ve lost their jobs or can’t afford to rent a room on service-industry wages. It’s tragic. Everywhere people are feeling the pinch; that’s why 9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is now headed in the wrong direction and that’s why consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since the Great Depression. This is the great triumph of Reagan’s free trade “trickle down” Voodoo economics; whole families living out of their cars waiting for the pawn shop to open.

The economy is on life-support. The rest of the world would be doing us all a favor if they decided to chuck the dollar and boycott US financial products altogether. That would put an end to Wall Street’s chicanery once and for all. Foreign investors should be demanding restitution and impounding American assets to compensate for the trillions of dollars they lost in the subprime/securitization swindle. Litigate, litigate, litigate; that’s the only way to make the guilty parties pay for their crimes. Either that or set up a gallows on Wall Street and get down to business.

The pundits on the business channel are telling us that the “worst is over”; that the Force 5 hurricane in the financial markets has weakened to a squall. Don’t believe it. The corporate bond market is still frozen, housing is in free fall, and the banking system is buckling from the overload of bad investments. The FDIC is even trying to lure former employees out of retirement to deal with the tsunami of bank failures set to touch down later in 2008. Corporate defaults are on the rise and and commercial real estate is crashing.

“Commercial property prices in the US in February saw their sharpest decline since records began nearly 15 years ago as sources of finance for deals has dried up, according to data from Standard & Poor’s out yesterday. Sales of commercial properties were down 71 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.” (Financial Times) Commercial real estate is following the same downward trajectory as residential housing. They’re both headed for the bottom of the fish-tank. Any slump in CRE will send unemployment skyrocketing while adding to the solvency problems facing the banks.

We’re not out of the woods by a long shot, and won’t be for years to come. According to Bloomberg News, soaring raw material costs have caused a sharp rise in costs to producers that they won’t be able to pass on to cash-strapped consumers. That means that corporate profits will fall and stock values will plunge.

Last week, Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney announced that:

“The real harrowing days of the credit crisis are still ahead of us and will prove more widespread in effect than anything yet seen. Just as strained liquidity pushed so many small and mid-sized specialty finance companies to the brink, we believe it will do the same to the US consumer. We believe losses will only accelerate further and far worse than the most draconian estimates.”

Whitney has been one of the few consistently accurate analysts of the current market meltdown.

The fate of the larger investment banks is just as uncertain as the smaller “depository” banks. Carlyle Group Chairman David Rubenstein summed it up like this last week, “US and European banks and financial institutions have enormous losses from from bad loans they haven’t yet recognized and may have a harder time wooing sovereign fund rescuers. Based on information I see, it will take at least a year before all losses are realized, and some financial institutions may fail. Many financial institutions aren’t going to be able to survive as independent institutions.”

That means there will be greater consolidation and more formidable banking monopolies, all of which is bad for the consumer.

The banks and financial institutions have never been in worse shape. They’ve already written down $344 billion since the credit crisis began last August and they’ll write down another $200 billion next year. By the time the crisis is over, they will have racked up an estimated $1 trillion in losses. That represents a $3 trillion contraction in loans to consumers and businesses. Also, these estimates don’t take into account the losses of revenue from the slowdown in consumer spending, shrinking GDP, and massive business failures; all of which will wreak further havoc on the financial sector.

The amount of stress on the banking system is unprecedented. The Fed is loaning out money hand-over-fist just to keep the scaffolding in place. Take a look at what is going on at the Fed’s so-called “auction facilities” where the Fed is providing loans and US Treasuries for “unsellable” mortgage-backed junk and other toxic bonds. The numbers are staggering.

According to the Seattle Times:

“The Federal Reserve’s emergency loans to banks climbed to the highest level on record even as Wall Street investment companies scaled back their borrowing….Banks stepped up their borrowing, according to the Fed report. They averaged $15.95 billion in daily borrowing for the week ending May 28, compared with $13.5 billion for the previous week, and the total was a record. The previous high of $14.4 billion came in the week ending May 14…In the broadest use of the central bank’s lending power since the 1930s, the Fed in March scrambled to avert a market meltdown by giving investment houses a place to go for emergency overnight loans….The Fed also announced Thursday it will make a fresh batch of short-term cash loans available to banks as part of an effort to ease stressed credit markets…The Fed said it will conduct three auctions in June; each will offer $75 billion in short-term cash loans. It would mark the latest round in a program that the Fed launched in December to help banks overcome credit problems so they will keep lending to customers.” (“Banks step up Fed loans, investment firms scale back”, Seattle Times)

Another $225 billion?!?

The Fed is trashing its balance sheet–to the tune of $225 billion–when the money could be used to provide free college tuition and universal health care. What a waste. Instead, the money is being used to throw a lifeline to dodgy speculators would were trying to snooker foreign investors with garbage securities. At the same time, the Fed’s emergency facilities have done nothing to restore trust between the individual banks who are more reluctant to lend to each other than ever. The ongoing scandal surrounding Libor (the interest rate that banks charge each other and which determines the rates on $3 trillion of financial products including mortgages) strongly suggests that the banks are lying about the true rate they are paying so the public doesn’t find out how battered they really are.

Bloomberg News: “Banks routinely misstated borrowing costs to the British Bankers’ Association to avoid the perception they faced difficulty raising funds as credit markets seized up.”

Consumer spending is sluggish too, since lending standards have tightened and home equity continues to vanish. Subprime problems have migrated from Wall Street to Main Street as credit trends appear to be getting worse. Consumers are maxed-out on their credit cards, student loans, mortgages and car loans. The lack of personal savings is not the result of a profligate lifestyle (as the right wing media likes to opine) but 30 years of stagnant wages and class warfare waged via big business and the federal tax code. None of the baby boomers are counting on Social Security to pay the bills when they retire but, still, that doesn’t justify the money being ripped-off from their paychecks every week and slipped into the general fund where it is used to pave roads and purchase cluster-bombs. Social security is nothing but a flat tax for paupers. (The rich get a free-ride after the first $87,000 income) These are some of the factors that are bearing down on an American economy like a Daisy Cutter. 2009 is looking is looking more and more like a chapter out of Revelation.

An article is this week’s The Economist summarizes the malaise in housing in particularly apocalyptic terms:

“America’s house prices are falling even faster than during the Great Depression. As house prices in America continue their rapid descent, market-watchers are having to cast back ever further for gloomy comparisons. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller national house-price index, published this week, showed a slump of 14.1% in the year to the first quarter, the worst since the index began 20 years ago. Now Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University and co-inventor of the index, has compiled a version that stretches back over a century. This shows that the latest fall in nominal prices is already much bigger than the 10.5% drop in 1932, the worst point of the Depression. And things are even worse than they look. In the deflationary 1930s house prices declined less in real terms. Today inflation is running at a brisk pace, so property prices have fallen by a staggering 18% in real terms over the past year.” (“The Economist”)

The country is undergoing a collapsing real estate market that surpasses the Great Depression and former Fed-chief Alan Greenspan’s book is still on the New York Times Best Seller list. How’s that for irony?

Regrettably, there’s no sign of a bottom yet in housing. Some markets have already dropped by 30% costing the states (like California and Florida) billions in tax revenue and triggering a steep increase in foreclosures. In California, sales are not only down by roughly 50 per cent, but 40 per cent of new sales are sales of foreclosed homes. The pool of potential buyers has dried up. Now the vultures are circling and picking up homes for $.50 on the dollar. The losses are enormous. If the downward trend continues, (as many now expect) and housing prices drop 30 per cent nationwide; the market will shed $6.5 trillion in aggregate value and lower household spending by $300 billion. That means GDP will shrink at least another full percentage point.

The crisis in the financial markets won’t be resolved until housing prices stabilize, that’s why the Fed and Congress are scrambling to put together a plan (Hope Now) that will slow the rate of foreclosures. Trillions of dollars in complex bonds and mortgage-backed securities will continue to be downgraded until investors see that it is safe to “dip their toes in the water” again and reinvest in a (currently) moribund market. So far, Congress has made little headway in keeping homeowners from defaulting on their mortgages. Credit Suisse predicts that foreclosures will be somewhere north of 6.5 million homeowners over the next few years. It is the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina sweeping from one side of the country to the other.

The next administration—whether it’s McCain or Obama—will be forced to restore the Resolution Trust Corp., which was created in 1989 to dispose of assets of insolvent savings and loan banks. The RTC would create a government-owned management company that would buy distressed MBS from banks and liquidate them via auction. The state would pay less than full-value for the bonds (The Fed currently pays 85 per cent face-value on MBS) and then take a loss on their liquidation. “According to Joseph Stiglitz in his book, Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics, the real reason behind the need of this company was to allow the US government to subsidize the banking sector in a way that wasn’t very transparent and therefore avoid the possible resistance.”

There it is; a taxpayer-funded bailout of Biblical proportions looming on the horizon, possibly as soon as 2009. Ultimately, it is the only sure-fire way to stabilize the crumbling banking system and put a floor under housing prices. The effects on the dollar, however, will be catastrophic. Don’t expect the greenback to survive as the world’s “reserve currency”. Those days are about over.

The troubles in the financial markets will be with us for some time. The massive expansion of credit has created numerous equity bubbles that are unwinding at an unpredictable pace. Author James Howard Kunstler calls the present process “the remorseless algebra of a deflationary death spiral”. That’s about as close to a perfect description as imaginable. There’s bound to be considerable disagreement about the origins of the bubble and who is to blame. Was it the Fed’s “low interest ” policy following the bust in 2000, or the lack of government regulation in the securitzation process, or was it just the natural corollary of a political system which invariably bows and scrapes to Wall Street?

The real origin of the problem is ideological. It’s rooted in the prevailing “trickle down” orthodoxy which opposes any increases in wages or benefits for working people. Henry Ford realized what today’s captains of industry and finance refuse to accept; that if workers aren’t adequately paid for their labor—and wages do not keep pace with production—then the economy cannot grow because consumers do not have the money to buy the things they make. It’s just that simple. Greenspan and his ilk believed that they could prosecute the class war and make up the difference by relaxing lending standards, changing bankruptcy laws, and by creating a nearly endless array of exotic financial products that expanded credit. But shifting wealth from one class to another has its costs. By crushing the worker the Friedmanites have killed the golden goose. The world’s most prosperous consumer society is in terminal distress and no amount of “free market” gibberish will keep it from crashing.

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 US bomb legacy in Laos + Cluster bombs: Hell from above

Dandelion Salad


June 1, 2008

30 years after the Vietnam war, 78 million unexploded US cluster bombs remain scattered across Laos.

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And The Winner Is … The Israel lobby By Pepe Escobar

Dandelion Salad

By Pepe Escobar
02/06/08 “Asia Times

WASHINGTON – They’re all here – and they’re all ready to party. The three United States presidential candidates – John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Madam House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most US senators and virtually half of the US Congress. Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. And a host of Jewish and non-Jewish political and academic heavy-hitters among the 7,000 participants.

Such star power wattage, a Washington version of the Oscars, is the stock in trade of AIPAC – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the crucial player in what is generally known as the Israel lobby and which holds its annual Policy Conference this week in Washington at which most of the heavyweights will deliver lectures.

Few books in recent years have been as explosive or controversial as The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, written by Stephen Walt from Harvard University and John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, published in 2007. In it, professors Walt and Mearsheimer argued the case of the Israeli lobby not as “a cabal or conspiracy that ‘controls’ US foreign policy”, but as an extremely powerful interest group made up of Jews and non-Jews, a “loose coalition of individuals and organizations tirelessly working to move US foreign policy in Israel’s direction”.

Walt and Mearsheimer also made the key point that “anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite”. Anyone for that matter who “says that there is an Israeli lobby” also runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism.

All the candidates in the House say yeah

Republican presidential candidate McCain is opening this year’s AIPAC jamboree; Clinton and Obama are closing it on Wednesday. Walt and Mearsheimer’s verdict on the dangerous liaisons between presidential candidates and AIPAC remains unimpeachable: “None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the US ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. And those who do will probably fall by the wayside.”

Take what Clinton said in February at an AIPAC meeting in New York: “Israel is a beacon of what’s right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism.” A year before, Clinton was in favor of sitting and talking to Iran’s leadership.

And take what Obama said in March at an AIPAC meeting in Chicago; no reference at all to Palestinian “suffering”, as he had done on the campaign trail in March 2007. Obama also made it clear he would do nothing to alter the US-Israeli relationship.

No wonder AIPAC is considered by most members of the US Congress as more powerful than the National Rifle Association or the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

AIPAC has explicit Zionist roots. The founder, “Si” Kenen, was head of the American Zionist Council in 1951. The body was reorganized as a US lobby – the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs – in 1953-4, and then renamed AIPAC in 1959. Under Tom Dine, in the 1970s, it was turned into a mass organization with more than 150 employees and a budget of up to US$60 million today. Dine was later ousted because he was considered not hawkish enough.

The top leadership – mostly former AIPAC presidents – is always more hawkish on the Middle East than most Jewish Americans. AIPAC only dropped its opposition to a Palestinian state – without endorsing it – when Ehud Barak became Israeli prime minister in 1999.

AIPAC keeps a very close relationship with an array of influential think-tanks, like the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Hudson Institute, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Middle East Forum, the The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Sprinkled neo-cons in these think-tanks can be regarded as a microcosm of the larger Israel lobby – Jews and non-Jews (It’s important to remember that Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and five other neo-cons drafted the infamous “A Clean Break” document to Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 – the ultimate road map for hardcore regime change all over the Middle East.)

The house that AIPAC built

AIPAC in the US Congress is a rough beast indeed. Former president Bill Clinton defined it as “stunningly effective”. Former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich called it “the most effective general-interest group across the entire planet”. The New York Times as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel”. Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, before his involvement in a corruption scandal, said. “Thank God we have AIPAC, the greatest supporter and friend we have in the whole world.”

AIPAC maintains a virtual stranglehold over the US Congress. Critics of the Israel lobby other than Walt and Mearsheimer also contend that AIPAC essentially prevents any possibility of open debate on US policy towards Israel. Compare it with a 2004 report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, according to which “Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies”.

AIPAC should not be crossed. It rewards those who support its agenda, and punishes those who don’t. In the end, it’s all about money – specifically campaign contributions. From 2000 to 2004, according to the Washington Post, AIPAC honchos contributed an average of $72,000 each to campaigns and political committees. For pro-AIPAC politicians, money simply pours from all over the US.

Every member of the US Congress receives AIPAC’s bi-weekly newsletter, the Near East Report. Walt and Mearsheimer stress that Congressmen and their staff “usually turn to AIPAC when they need info; AIPAC is called upon to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes”.

Hillary Clinton has learned long ago she should not cross AIPAC. Clinton used to support a Palestinian state in 1998. She even embraced Suha Arafat, Yasser’s wife, in 1999. After much scolding, she suddenly became a vigorous defender of Israel, and years later wholeheartedly supported the 2006 Israeli war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Clinton may have gotten the bulk of Jewish American donations for her 2008 presidential campaign.

Rice also learned about facts on the ground. She tried to restart the eternally moribund “peace process” when visiting the Middle East in March 2007. Before the trip, she got an AIPAC letter signed by no less than 79 US senators telling her not to talk to the new Palestinian unity government until it “recognized Israel, renounced terror and agreed to abide by Palestinian-Israeli agreements”.

AIPAC and Iraq

It has become relatively fashionable for some members of the Israeli lobby to deny any involvement in the build-up towards the war on Iraq. But few remember what AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr told the New York Sun in January 2003: “Quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq was one of AIPAC’s successes over the past year.”

And in a New Yorker profile of Steven Rosen, AIPAC’s policy director during the run-up to the war on Iraqi, it was stated that “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraqi war”.

Compare it with a 2007 Gallup study based on 13 different polls, according to which 77% of American Jews were opposed to the Iraq war, compared to 52% of Americans.

Walt and Mearsheimer contend “the war was due in large part to the lobby’s influence, and especially its neo-con wing. The lobby is not always representative of the larger community for which it often claims to speak.”

AIPAC and Iran

Now it is Iran time. Walt and Mearsheimer contend “the lobby is fighting to prevent the US from reversing course and seeking a rapprochement with Tehran. They continue to promote an increasingly confrontational and counterproductive policy instead”. Not much different from the embattled Olmert, who told Germany’s Focus magazine in April 2007 that “it would take 10 days … and 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles” to set back Iran’s nuclear program.

A measure of Walt and Mearsheimer’s power to rattle reputations is that the Zionist establishment had to bring out all its big guns to refute their argument, again and again.

Walt and Mearsheimer are no ideologues. They are realpolitik practitioners – very much at ease in the top circles of US foreign policy establishment. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of their book is that they argued four points that the establishment never mentions in public. Essentially these are:
# The US has already won its major wars in the Middle East, against Arab secular nationalism and against communism, and does not need Israel quite as much.

# Israel is now so much more powerful than all Arab nations combined that it can take care of itself.

# The unconditional support for Israel, regardless of its outrageous deeds, does harm US interests, destabilizes pro-US regimes like Hosi Mubarak’s Egypt and King Abdullah’s Jordan, and plays into the hands of Salafi-jihadi radicals.

# Fighting Israel’s wars on its behalf is the surefire way to lead to the collapse of US power in the Middle East.

Walt and Mearsheimer also seem not to accept that oil, and rivalry with Russia and China, have also played a crucial part in why the US went to war in Iraq and may attack Iran in the near future. Anyway only insiders as themselves – with unassailable establishment credentials – could have started, at the highest levels of public debate, a serious discussion of extreme pro-Zionism in the public and political life of the US.

Meanwhile, the power of the lobby seems unassailable. In March 2007, the US Congress was trying to attach a provision to a Pentagon spending bill that would have required President George W Bush to get congressional approval before attacking Iran. AIPAC was strongly against it – because it viewed the legislation as taking the military option “off the table”. The provision was killed. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said this was due to AIPAC.

AIPAC made a lot of waves in 2002, when the theme of the annual meeting was “America and Israel standing against terror”. Everyone bashed Arafat, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria at the same time – just as in PNAC’s letter to Bush in April 2002 claiming that Israel was also fighting an “axis of evil” alongside the US.

During AIPAC’s jamboree in 2004, Bush received 23 standing ovations defending his Iraq policy. Last year, the star was Cheney, making the case for the troop “surge” in Iraq. Pelosi was dutifully present. But it was pastor John Hagee, whose endorsement McCain recently refused, who really made a killing – even though Hagee maintains that “anti-Semitism is the result of the Jews’ rebellion against God”.

On Iran, Hagee definitely set the tone: “It is 1938; Iran is Germany and [President Mahmud] Ahmadinejad is the new [Adolf] Hitler. We must stop Iran’s nuclear threat and stand boldly with Israel.” He received multiple standing ovations. McCain may be sure to get the same treatment this year – and he’ll certainly have no trouble remaining on message.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. He may be reached at

Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online Ltd

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.


Hedges: It’s Insane to Attack Iran, Devastating Consequences

McCain Rejects Hagee: How Long Before Major American Jewish Groups Do the Same?

McCain Endorser Hagee: God Sent Hitler, Jews Have Dead Souls

Israel Lobby


Mosaic News – 5/30/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



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


For more:
“Lebanese Begin Forming Government,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Taliban Capture Remote Area,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Egypt Extends State of Emergency,” Al Arabiya, UAE
“Kurdistan PM Stirs Controversy,” Jordan TV, Jordan
“Iraqi Airforce Updates Equipment,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Israel
“Egypt’s Nuclear Program,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Diaspora Journalism,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“McClellan: Our Minister of Misinformation,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

How Cheney Outfoxed His Foes on Iran and EFPs by Gareth Porter

Dandelion Salad

Analysis by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Jun 2 (IPS) – For many months, the propaganda line that explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) that could penetrate U.S. armoured vehicles were coming straight from Iran has been embraced publicly by the entire George W. Bush administration. But when that argument was proposed internally by military officials in January 2007, it was attacked by key administration officials as unsupported by the facts.

Vice President Dick Cheney was able to get around those objections and get his Iranian EFP line accepted only because of arrangements he and Bush made with Gen. David Petraeus before he took command of U.S. forces in Iraq.

The initial draft of the proposed military briefing on the issue of EFPs, which asserted flatly that EFPs were being manufactured and smuggled to Iraqi Shiite groups directly by the Iranian regime, was met with unanimous objection from the State Department, Defence Department and National Security Council staff, as administration officials themselves stated publicly.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley tried to push back against Cheney’s proposed line because they recognised it as an effort to go well beyond the compromise policy toward Iran that had been worked out in December and early January. The compromise policy had been to focus on networks working on procuring EFPs within Iraq and not to target Iran as directly responsible.

At his regular press briefing on Jan. 24, 2007, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Department spokesman Sean McCormack revealed the primary basis for the State, Defence and NSC opposition to the Cheney line on EFPs.

Asked whether the U.S. government had any evidence that EFPs were manufactured in Iran, McCormack did not answer directly but said, “You don’t necessarily have to construct something in Iran in order for it to be a threat to the U.S. or British troops from the Iranian regime. There are lots of different ways you can do that. You can bring the know-how. You can train other people in Iraq to do that.”

McCormack thus revealed that the State Department wasn’t buying the accusation that Iran was manufacturing EFPs and sending them to the Shiite forces of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fighting against U.S. forces.

On Feb. 2, while briefing the news media on the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, Hadley asserted bluntly that the draft military briefing that had been circulated in Washington had not been based on evidence.

“The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing was overstated,” said Hadley. “We sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts.”

Hadley did not tell reporters which points in the draft briefing paper had not been based on the evidence, but the remarks by McCormack and Gates were clear indications that the briefing had made claims of Iranian manufacturing of weapons and smuggling them into Iraq that could not be supported.

Hadley further revealed that he, Gates and Rice had tried to use the imminence of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to force the issue of the briefing’s exaggerated claims. The briefing, he said was “an attempt to…address some of the issues in the NIE in a briefing on intelligence of Iranian activity in Iraq. And we thought, hey, why are we doing this?”

He said he and his associates wanted a briefing that “we’re confident everyone can stand behind”. The national security adviser was implying that the proposed briefing was not supported by the NIE on Iraq, and that the drafters would therefore have to redraft it so that the intelligence community could support it.

Hadley didn’t say who he meant by “we”, but Gates told reporters the same day that he and Rice had joined Hadley in ensuring that the planned briefing “is dominated by facts”.

The declassified version of the NIE’s main conclusions indicated that it did not support the claim that Iran was exporting EFPs to the Mahdi Army. The only sentence that related to the issue was, “Iranian lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq.” But in the absence of any language alleging Iranian EFP manufacture and export to Iraq, that phrase appears to be a reference to training of Mahdi Army officers.

Hadley, Rice and Gates thus appeared to believe that the briefing would have to reflect the NIE, and that they would be able to review the revised version before it was presented to the press. On Feb. 9, State Department spokesman McCormack said, “[W]hen the working-level folks at the deputies level…produce a presentation that they are comfortable with, I am sure that they’ll share it with Secretary Rice, Secretary Gates and Steve Hadley over at the NSC just for review.”

But Cheney had a surprise for the opponents of his hard line on Iran. When White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked on Feb. 9 about when the briefing would be held, she replied, “Decisions on that are being made out in Baghdad.”

That announcement came just as Gen. George W. Casey was to be replaced by Gen. Petraeus as the new commander. Petraeus had only arrived in Iraq the day before and the changeover ceremony came on Feb. 10.

The day after the ceremony, three military officers presented a briefing to the press which not only asserted that the EFPs could only have been manufactured in Iran but that Iran’s Qods Force was behind the smuggling of those weapons into Iraq. They strongly suggested, moreover, that the Iranian government knew about the smuggling.

Cheney had used the compliant Petraeus to do an end-run around the national security bureaucracy. Petraeus had already reached agreement with the White House to take Cheney’s line on the EFPs issue and to present the briefing immediately without consulting State or Defence.

State and Defence tried to counter this manoeuvre. McCormack argued, rather lamely, that the briefing had really been about “a threat to our troops from these devices and from the networks that supply them”. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, responded by saying that he could not “from his own knowledge” confirm the assertion that the Qods Force was providing bomb-making kits to Shiite insurgents.

The U.S. command in Baghdad temporarily backed away from the briefers’ charge against Iran. The command spokesman, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, who had been one of the three military briefers, was forced to tell reporters on Feb. 14 that the purpose of the briefing had been to talk only about the threat to U.S. troops, implying that briefers had gone beyond their brief in making statements about Iranian complicity.

But the hardline position on EFP was the one that dominated press coverage. Instead of the more cautious line focusing on the EFP networks inside Iraq, which was what State, Defence and NSC and agreed to in January, Cheney now had a potential casus belli against Iran.

And Cheney would continue to use his alliance with Petraeus to advance his proposal for an attack on Qods Force bases in Iran. The very first episode in the Cheney-Petraeus alliance sheds additional light on the nomination of Petraeus to become the new CENTCOM commander later this year.

Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published 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.


Neo-Con Conference Pushes for War on Iran

Hedges: It’s Insane to Attack Iran, Devastating Consequences

As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon

Senators say report of planned US strikes on Iran untrue

Washington’s conflicting strategies on Iran (video; Porter) Part I

Iran, US and the possibility of war (video; Porter) Part II

Iran’s role as a regional power (video; Porter) Part III

US and Iran: Is an Iraq grand bargain possible? (vid; Porter) Part IV

Will Cheney get his war? (video; Porter) Part V


“Enough Is Enough, It’s Time to Get Out” By Dahr Jamail

Dandelion Salad

By Dahr Jamail
Hard News
Inter Press Service
June 02, 2008

Click here to read story at original source with photo.

SEATTLE, Jun 2 (IPS) – Dozens of veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq, in a continuation of the “Winter Soldier” hearings held in Silver Spring, Maryland in March.

At the Seattle Town Hall, some 800 people gathered to hear the testimonies of veterans from Iraq. The event was sponsored by the Northwest Regional Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and endorsed by dozens of local and regional anti-war groups like Veterans for Peace and Students for a Democratic Society.

“I watched Iraqi Police bring in someone to interrogate,” Seth Manzel, a vehicle commander and machine gunner in the U.S. Army, told the audience. “There were four men on the prisoner…one was pummeling his kidneys with his fists, another was inserting a bottle up his rectum. It looked like a frat house gang-rape.”

Manzel joined the army after 9/11 for economic reasons — he’d just been laid off, and his wife had just had a baby. Manzel told another story of military medics he was with in Tal Afar who refused to treat an elderly man in their detention centre. Manzel described the old man as being jaundiced and lying on the ground, writhing in pain.

“The medics said the old man was just being lazy and they were not authorised to treat detainees,” Manzel said.

Jan Critchfield worked as an army journalist while attached to the 1st Cavalry in Baghdad during 2004. “I was with a unit that shot at a man and wife near a checkpoint,” Critchfield said, “She had been shot through her shinbone, and that was the first story I covered in Iraq.”

Critchfield told the audience that his unspoken job in Iraq was to “counter the liberal media bias” about the occupation.


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.


It’s March 19 and Blogswarm Day! Posts on Iraq War by Lo (Winter Soldier links)

Iraq Death Toll ‘Above Highest Estimates’ by Ahmed Ali & Dahr Jamail

Dandelion Salad

by Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail
Global Research, June 2, 2008
Inter Press Service

BAQUBA, Jun 2 (IPS) – The real number of the dead is far higher than even the highest declared in death tolls, many Iraqis say.

A study by doctors from the Johns Hopkins School of Health in conjunction with Iraqi doctors from al-Mustanceriya University in Baghdad, published in the British medical journal The Lancet in October 2006, estimated the number of excess deaths as a result of the occupation at above 655,000.

Just Foreign Policy, an independent organisation “dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy” offered an updated total of 1,213,716 at the time of this writing.

On Sep. 14, 2007, Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent polling agency located in London, produced a figure of 1,220,580 deaths as a result of the invasion.

These estimates are above any official figures from Iraq, but they do consider the reported official figures.

Iraqis believe that the authorities are hiding these figures. “The U.S. military benefits from hiding the real totals,” said a political analyst who declined to give his name because of the atmosphere of fear within Iraq. “And the Iraqi government is a puppet of the Americans, so their figures are ridiculously low as well.”

The report published in The Lancet did not take into account many circumstances of death, say residents in Baquba, capital of Diyala province 40km north of capital Baghdad.

“All people know that a large number of bodies are dropped into the Diyala river,” said a local resident. “I was kidnapped and taken to a village called Huwaider, which is completely Shia and located on the Diyala River. Sunnis there are killed and dropped in the river by militiamen, but I was freed by the U.S Army.

“People in all the villages on the river have gotten used to seeing bodies floating in the river,” he added.

“I lived in Gatoon district, the volatile stronghold of the militants in Baquba,” Yasir al-Azawi, a 37-year-old truck driver told IPS. “Everyday I saw vehicles dropping bodies in the river. Everyone in my district knows this truth; that the river contained an extraordinary number of bodies to the extent that living in that place became impossible. We left our home and moved to live in the north of Iraq.”

An officer at the directorate-general of police for Diyala province said the number of dead is impossible to calculate exactly.

“When the new security plan began in Diyala, some of the arrested militants confessed that they were burying bodies,” the officer said. “Some of them led us to the places where they buried the bodies. We found hundreds by digging in the areas that are a stronghold of the militants, and sometimes in the gardens of the houses they were living in, or in a place nearby.”

An eyewitness at the Baquba morgue spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity.

“I was looking for my relative who was kidnapped and then killed, and I saw an ambulance moving the dead who were killed by militants,” he said, “I asked the driver about these bodies. He said that the Iraqi army found them in houses and in holes dug within the houses. I also saw a skeleton among the bodies.”

Many believe that the number of the dead is higher than these studies reflect also because the lack of access to areas controlled by militias and other fighters prevents police and army personnel from finding and collecting bodies.

“These militia strongholds have prevented access to police for over two years now,” Ali Hussein, a local vegetable seller told IPS. “Dozens, and sometimes hundreds were kidnapped everyday and taken to the militants strongholds. People heard nothing about thousands of them. Even today, thousands of families know nothing about their loved ones because they were not found in the morgue.”

A policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that “we were moving the bodies from the main streets of the city through patrols. A body that may have been dropped in the street is a message for people. They dropped it purposely. But these are only a few; the bodies of most we believe were killed, were never found.”

“The morgue continues to receive bodies brought by the police or the ambulance,” said an employee at the Baquba morgue. “We used to receive many daily. The capacity of the morgue was not enough, so they were buried after certain procedures like taking photos or waiting for the families to ask about them and to take them. Sometimes, at times of bombing and disastrous accidents, we were receiving hundreds of bodies.”

Other officials also offered bleak assessments.

“Hundreds of families come to the provincial office everyday to ask about their loved ones who were kidnapped; they do not know whether they are dead or alive,” an employee at the governor’s office told IPS. “Often the Iraqi army finds records of the dead from the militants through their confessions. Every week there are new lists of names of those who were killed by the militants. People come to find out whether their loved ones are dead, in order to stop searching.”

New burial grounds are found often, and the dead are usually not recorded. Many residents told IPS that farmers commonly find bones in their fields.

Ali Ahmed, IPS correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, IPS U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East

© Copyright Ahmed Ali, Inter Press Service, 2008
The url address of this article is:

Washington Planning to “Checkmate” Chavez by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, June 2, 2008

So says Heinz Dieterich Steffan – German sociologist, economist, political analyst and Hugo Chavez consultant who claims he coined the phrase “21st century socialism” in the mid-1990s. He currently teaches at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City and writes often on Latin American issues.

In a May 21, 2008 article and follow-up Montevideo, Uruguay debate, Dieterich was blunt. He said “Washington does not want to lose (Latin America) in competition with India, China and Europe.” He called the situation “life or death” and that a military attack against Venezuela from Colombia is possible. Maybe likely, and Ecuador and Bolivia are also targeted.

He laid out a “checkmate” scenario:

— weaken and destroy FARC-EP and ELN resistance; under Clinton in 1999, Plan Colombia was launched to do it; the Uribe government’s March 1 attack against the FARC-EP camp was part of it; all regional aggression has Washington’s stamp on it, especially when Alvaro Uribe is involved; he’s the Bush administration’s closest regional ally and willing co-conspirator;

— neutralize Evo Morales in Bolivia as well, divide the country, and create a parallel state in its resource-rich provinces;

— use these successes to “checkmate” Chavez and Ecuador’s Raphael Correa; take further measures to do it; use Uribe’s military and gunboat diplomacy after the Fourth Fleet becomes active July 1 – after a 60 year hiatus and no regional threat to warrant it;

— since taking office in 2001, the Bush administration targeted Venezuela for regime change; it extended the timeline after its April 2002 coup failed; it made destroying Colombian resistance more urgent so Washington could use the country unimpeded as a launching platform against Chavez much like Honduras in the 1980s against Nicaragua’s Sandinistas; the scheme is vintage Washington; it’s still unfolding; it involves waging a “widespread offensive against Chavez and the Bolivarian forces from 2008 – 2009;”

— regime changes in Bolivia and Ecuador will follow; in Bolivia “through separatism, the Trojan Horse of the Constituent Assembly and the 2006 formation of CONFILAR” – an International Confederation for Regional Freedom and Autonomy; in Ecuador by fostering discontent in the CONAI indigenous movement and weakening the government through destabilization; also by stoking secessionist stirrings in Guayas, the country’s most affluent province.

Dieterich says Washington believes that “FARC and Evo Morales (weakening) are irreversible.” Time will tell if it’s so. That reasoning sets the stage for “subversion and paramilitary-military (actions) from Colombia (and) Fourth Fleet (aggression) against Venezuela and Ecuador.” In his judgment, an operation may be “close” with the Bush administration’s tenure winding down. He calls America a “bestial enemy” and this moment a “dangerous juncture.” He hopes Chavez, Correa, Morales and other Latin American leaders are up to the challenge. The threat is that Venezuelan generals will buckle under a US incursion and not sacrifice themselves “in a war against the gringos.”

He envisions a scenario much like against Cuba that led to the 1962 missile crisis – a naval blockade and sees “no cohesion” in Venezuela’s military as there was in Cuba. The antidote is Latin American unity. The entire region is targeted. “It’s time to seek what unites us,” he says, and urges a democratic alliance among regional governments and social forces. “There is no other way because the enemy is very powerful and is made up of the alliance between the oligarchies and the gringos, and backed by Europe and Japan.”

Dieterich says efforts in this direction have been proposed and rejected. Nonetheless, the need is urgent because failure is unthinkable – the end of participatory democracy and resurgence of neoliberal triumphalism throughout the hemisphere.

There’s hope and opportunity to head it off. He calls the Colombian March 1 incursion “a serious political mistake,” and that Bogota and Washington “underestimated the cost of this action.” It will strengthen calls for negotiation and “will be capitalised on by the forces that (want) a peaceful solution to Colombia’s armed conflict.” It will also improve chances for “South American integration aims of progressive countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela.” Ecuador and Bolivia as well. Uribe came out of this politically weaker. He’ll “feel isolated diplomatically (and) will have to tone down his” belligerency. That remains to be seen for a hard right leader firmly in Bush’s camp with “billions” in “inducements” to stay there.

The stakes for Washington and the region are huge. A rerun of the 1990s “Golden Age of Pillage” is unthinkable. So is another defeat for the Bush administration. With a scant eight months left, it may try anything to reverse its losses. It makes for very scary prospects:

— saber rattling writ large;

— regional gunboat diplomacy;

— a naval blockade against Venezuela and Ecuador;

— a ground incursion from Colombia;

— three Latin American leaders targeted for removal;

— Cuba also;

— possible assassinations as well; CIA is expert at it; their agents infest the region, and Target One is Chavez; and

— according to an unidentified retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state, a planned air attack against Iran by summer; the idea is long-standing and goes back to the Clinton years; more recently, hawkish commanders replaced more hesitant ones; Congress is supportive, and, in an election year, major contenders practically preach it, at least in their rhetoric; they’re also hostile to Chavez and comfortable with his removal.

He’s alerted and revamping his intelligence services accordingly. The Interior and Justice Ministries will oversee a new General Intelligence Office and Counterintelligence Office in place of the current Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP). Similar military intelligence and counterintelligence components will replace the Military Intelligence Division (DIM) and will be under the Defense Ministry. Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin announced the changes on May 28, and said they’re to counter US espionage and destabilization efforts. They’re operative under the newly enacted Law on Intelligence and Counterintelligence. It was passed on May 28 by presidential decree under the legislatively-granted enabling law.

They’ll be needed and lots more. According to Venezuelan Popular Unity (UPV) leader Lina Ron, the Chavez government is threatened. She cites a coup d’etat scheme called “Choquinaque” to oust it. It involves economic financing, psychological manipulation, and efforts to destabilize Venezuela’s economy. Senior military commanders are being enlisted and bribed and opposition candidates promoted. The aim is to influence the outcome of the November 23 regional elections for mayors and governors. Pro-Chavez officials hold most posts, and Washington-backed subversion aims to unseat enough of them to change the balance of power.

Similar schemes back secessionist movements in the most affluent parts of Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador in its Guayas province. It has regional leaders alarmed and Chavez outraged and vocal. On his weekly radio and television program, he blamed “oligarchs” and “fascists” for targeting Bolivia after its most resource-rich state (Santa Cruz) supported more autonomy in a (largely symbolic) May 4 referendum. “The CIA and its lackeys (want regional control) but we will defeat that plan through integration, political union and ideological strength.”

It’s vital because Venezuela is also threatened. It’s oil-rich Zulia state has similar secessionist ideas. Big Oil exploits them, and their local allies in the past supported a referendum to choose independence from Caracas. Its governor is Manuel Rosales. He ran against Chavez in 2006 and lost big. He backs the idea, is close to the Bush administration, and signed the infamous “Carmona Decree” after the April 2002 coup. It dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court, erased the Constitution, and ended Bolivarianism for the people. For now, more autonomy is enough for Rosales but unthinkable if Chavistas can help it. They condemn the idea and will fight it.

Stay tuned. November approaches in both countries. The Bush administration’s tenure is short. But it’s got plenty of time left to incinerate two continents and end the republic if that’s its plan. An inert public needs arousing. Michel Chossudovsy says we’re “at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history.” It’s part of a “war and globalization” process. The stakes for humanity are incalculable, but rogue states don’t weigh them. World communities better while there’s time.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
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Venezuela: Big stakes in November elections

The new smear against Chávez by Chris Carlson

Sibel Edmonds Case: Dennis Hastert to receive payoffs for ‘services rendered’

by Luke Ryland
featured writer
Dandelion Salad


This short clip from Kill The Messenger © discusses SOME of Hastert’s guilt in the Sibel Edmonds case.

Continue reading

United States of Insecurity By Noam Chomsky

Dandelion Salad

By Noam Chomsky
and Gabriel Matthew Schivone
Source: Monthly Review
Noam Chomsky’s ZSpace Page
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May 24, 2008

Based on an interview with Noam Chomsky conducted by Gabriel Matthew Schivone via telephone and e-mail at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, November 27, 2007 through February 11, 2008. Parts of the text have been expanded by the author.

A State of Insecurity in the Post-9/11 World

GMS: In a recent interview, Abdel Bari Atwan, author and editor of the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Al-Quds Al Arabi, said that President Bush is not ending terrorism nor is he weakening it, as is one of his strongest assertions in his so-called “War on Terror”, but that now Al-Qa’ida has powerfully developed into more of an ideology than an organization, as Atwan describes, expanding like Kentucky Fried Chicken, opening franchises all over the world. “That’s the problem,” he says. “The Americans are no safer. Their country is a fortress now, the United States of Security.” Is this accurate?

CHOMSKY: Except for the last sentence, it’s accurate. There’s good reason to think that the United States is very vulnerable to terrorist attacks. That’s not my opinion, that’s the opinion of US intelligence, of specialists of nuclear terror like Harvard professor Graham Allison, and former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and others, who have warned that the probability of even a nuclear attack in the United States is not trivial. So, it’s not a fortress.

One of the things that Bush hasn’t been doing is improving security. So, for example, if you look at the government commission after 9-11, one of its recommendations—which is a natural one—is to improve security of the US-Canadian border. I mean, if you look at that border, it’s very porous. You or I could walk across it somewhere with a suitcase holding components of a nuclear bomb. The Bush administration did not follow that recommendation. What it did instead was fortify the Mexican border, which was not regarded as a serious source of potential terrorism. They in fact slowed the rate of growth of border guards on the Canadian Border.

But quite apart from that, the major part of Atwan’s comment is quite correct. Bush Administration programs have not been designed to reduce terror. In fact, they’ve been designed in a way—as was anticipated by intelligence analysts and others—to increase terror.

So take, say, the invasion of Iraq. It was expected that that would probably have the effect of increasing terror—and it did, though far more than was anticipated. There was a recent study by two leading terrorism experts (using RAND Corporation government data) which concluded that what they called the “Iraq effect” — meaning, the effect of the Iraq invasion on incidents of terror in the world — was huge. In fact, they found that terror increased about seven-fold after the invasion of Iraq. That’s quite an increase—a lot more than was anticipated.


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.


Bush’s bankrupt vision by Noam Chomsky

Neo-Con Conference Pushes for War on Iran

Dandelion Salad

by Ali Fathollah-Nejad
Global Research, June 1, 2008

On the first weekend of May 2008, Berlin was host to two extraordinary conferences. On the one hand, a crowd of altogether 1,600 predominantly young people from all over Europe met at the Humboldt University in order to discuss and reflect the turbulent, globally unfolding events of 1968. On the other, not far away, about 400 participants gathered at the classier, guarded »Auditorium Friedrichstrasse« under the theme of “Business as usual? The Iranian regime, the holy war against Israel and the West and the German reaction,“ organized by the recently created »Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin (MFFB)«. Astonishingly despite wide participation by journalist from major newspapers, there was no mention of the conference in the German media. The purpose of the following account is also to fill this crucial gap.

Also historically, not least due to the bitter experiences of the recent past and present, an examination of the Weltanschauung advanced at the conference bears importance: What has entered the political discourse in Washington in a dominant fashion since almost a decade now, namely the view of the so-called neo-conservatives, appears not only to sound the medial and political terrains in Germany, but be willing to offensively occupy them. As in the United States, Iran takes a prominent role here.

The very first event of this kind to take place in Germany, the MFFB’s “International Iran Conference” had set the target of intervening politically to bring about a radical re-orientation of Berlin’s Iran policy, one that is heading towards Iran’s complete isolation or “regime change.” At the same time, the addressees of such a posture were clearly named: Not only lies the “future of pro-Zionism” in the hands of the Right. But beyond the so-called Anti-Germans who are sympathizers anyway, the main task was to win over the whole left side of the political specter.

The introduction was delivered by the chairman of the German branch of the U.S.-based association »Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)«, professor Diethard Pallaschke. SPME’s mission is to meet “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Israelism” as well as to support the security of Israel’s borders. In the United States, SPME is accused of acting, via so-called »campus watch« groups, against critical statements on university campuses about Israeli and also U.S. foreign policies in the Middle East. Amongst the most prominent victims of this curtailing of academic freedom are Norman Finkelstein (formerly at DePaul University and author of, most recently, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, 2008) and Tony Judt (director of New York University’s Remarque Institute), who both have Jewish background.

Pallaschke branded Iran the “biggest threat in the history of mankind” and as such “to all civilized states.” The next speaker was Charles A. Small, professor of history at Yale University, who argued that Nazism and “radical Islam” had a common ideology. Even Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israeli politician and longtime Brigadier-General, had alluded to the possibility of a “second Holocaust,” he stressed. There should be no support of Iran from students, scholars and European governments, especially as Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad “dehumanizes the other.” He hoped that all those groups would “begin to act and act quickly.”

Small further quoted the former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Shaul Mofaz, with his estimation that within a year an Iran armed with nuclear weapons was to be expected.1 But according to the Iran report by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), released in December 2007, Iran does not maintain a nuclear weapons program. This finding was recently confirmed by Mohammad El-Baradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when addressing the Middle East World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Likewise IAEA reports state that there is no evidence for an Iranian weapons program. And if Iran ever decided to divert its civilian energy program to a military one, the NIE says that “[a]ll agencies recognize the possibility that this [nuclear weapon] capability may not be attained until after 2015” (p. 7).

A Preventive Nuclear Strike Against the “Satanic Ambitions” of the “Un-Civilization”?

Menashe Amir, former longtime director of the Persian program of radio »Kol Israel« (the Voice of Israel) and current head of the Persian website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs »Hamdami«, said the Iranian regime was intent on “destroying the world order.” The “dictatorial regime” ruling the country had “satanic ambitions,” he claimed. The Iranian people should be assisted in bringing about a “regime change” – for the sake of both Iranians and the rest of the world. Amir finished by telling an anecdote about a private audience he had with U.S. President George W. Bush, to whom he said: “Iranian citizens are waiting for you to rescue them.” Bush responded: “You know, we’ve the same problem in Iraq where we are stuck.”

Benny Morris, professor of history at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Israel), began his remarks about “A second Holocaust? The threat to Israel” with a quotation of the professing neo-conservative and Washington Post political commentator Charles Krauthammer, foreseeing a nuclear power Iran already by 2009/2010. With a nuclear-armed Iran, Morris then argued, Israel would lose its significance. Apart from strategic losses, investment flows as well as the peace accords signed with Arab governments would be jeopardized. In order to forestall the strategic challenge of a ‘nuclear Iran,’ he suggested, Israel ought to intervene preventively and destroy the “Iranian nuclear project” by conventional but preferably nuclear weapons. This would certainly cause the death of many civilians, he admitted, but this prospect lies within the responsibilities of the Iranians themselves who after all have to account for such of regime – the “mad mullahs of Tehran.” All in all, a nuclear strike was preferable to a “second Holocaust” which was lurking from this “un-civilization,” Morris concluded.2

The “Third Option“: Positioning a Terror Organization Against the German “Steinmeier Policy”?

Paulo Casaca, Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP), dealt with the role of the European Union (EU) and the “effectiveness of sanctions” against Iran. The latter would have to go beyond the present United Nations sanctions framework, he said. “We really need economic sanctions from Germany and the European Union.” Casaca, member of the socialist group of the European Parliament, then held up a picture he had obtained from “sources” of the “Iranian resistance.” It allegedly showed a tunnel built by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a construction said to be in connection with a nuclear weapons program. The MEP did not hide that this “main Iranian opposition group” he was referring to was the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, or MeK) – a militant group listed as terrorist by both the European Union and the U.S. State Department. The “non-sense” of the MKO’s classification as terrorist organization ought to be removed, since, he claimed, it was all about supporting the “Iranian people.” In April 2004 Casaca had spent some days at »Camp Ashraf«, the shielded city and headquarters of the MKO, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Matthias Küntzel, member of SPME’s Board of Directors, warned to turn the conference into an academic meeting.3 Quite on the contrary, its aim should be to intervene politically, and above all to win the political Left over, he emphasized. Küntzel, who regularly writes for the Wall Street Journal, concentrated furthermore on German–Iranian trade relations. With Germany being Iran’s number one European trade partner, Berlin was assigned the vital task to realize the isolation of Iran, he argued. All in all, a discontinuation of the trade relations between Germany and Iran would only represent a small sacrifice for the former, but in turn would minimize danger posed by the latter, Küntzel claimed. But in providing biased figures, he supersized the German economy’s importance for Iran.4 His criticism of the German industry’s role and his suggestion to have a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the business giant Siemens were well received by the assembled left-wingers whose attitude towards big business is rather skeptical. Even more as Küntzel also demanded that the business interest was not allowed to stand above morality. Finally, he also called for the break-up of diplomatic relations with Iran. He further accused the German media – except for some comments in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the country’s largest conservative daily – of severe defaults as to the presentation of the “Iranian danger.”

According to Morris, Bush had assured the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Washington was taking care of the Iranian nuclear program. But given the situation in Iraq there was only little probability of a U.S. military strike, he added. However, if Democratic Senator Barack Obama was elected president in November, he believed, then Bush would order an attack on Iran. Despite low ratings and little support for war on Iran, the outgoing U.S. president would have nothing to lose by such an attack. The rationale behind such anticipation, which Morris did not attempt to hide, is that the ‘Iran problem’ cannot be devolved unto Obama – who has even promised unconditional negotiations with Iran –, but could eventually handed over to a Republican President John McCain. The latter has already insinuated that he would continue the administration’s foreign policy and Iran strategy.

Contrary to the nuclear strike option preferred by Morris, Casaca referred to a “third option” – beyond “appeasement” and military confrontation. This variant consisted of supporting the political leadership of the “Iranian opposition” – a reference made to the MKO. Amir noted that it was sufficient to eliminate a single “chain” of the nuclear program in order to paralyze it. Thus it would suffice to “only” bomb the nuclear plants of Natanz and Isfahan, he claimed. But the best way to bring about a regime change in Iran was to follow his five-point plan: (1) Providing a serious military threat; (2) expanding the sanctions to paralyze the Iranian economy; (3) helping the Iranian population and ethnic minorities, so that they could demand their rights; (4) financially supporting the majority of the Iranians; (5) organizing the 3 million Iranians in exile, so that they can exercise pressure upon Western governments to convince them of the “danger” the Iranian regime posed. If all these measures were carried out, there would be no necessity for military action, Amir pointed out.

To conclude the starting panel – whose title defined the “Iranian threat” in relation to Islamism, anti-Semitism, and the nuclear program – its moderator Alan Posener, chief commentator with the Welt am Sonntag, a German conservative Sunday paper, warned that one could not “fight dictatorships by over-cautiousness“ but only by “strength.” But the latter would not be part of the “Steinmeier policy.” In fact, Posener’s call signals the dissatisfaction of those pushing for a tough stance vis-à-vis Iran, a military option included therein, with the Iran policy as pursued by the Foreign Ministry that is under the aegis of Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Social-Democratic Party (SPD). Likewise, Volker Perthes and Christoph Bertram, respectively the present and former directors of the »German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)« – a Berlin-based think-tank advising the German government on foreign policy matters – were criticized by the conference participants as Steinmeier’s Iran policy is believed to take into account SWP’s input. Both Perthes and Bertram plead for a Western “strategic partnership” with Iran, while Bertram – also a former director of the »International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)« in London – just recently called for a détente policy vis-à-vis Iran as the strategy so far had clearly failed. On the other hand, the Iran stance by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian-Democratic Party (CDU) is considered to be in line with demands from Washington and Tel Aviv.

Anti-War Intellectuals as “Purchased Vassals” of the “Iranian Theocracy”?

The following morning was dedicated to the “character of the Iranian Regime.” The Iranian writer Javad Asadian deemed the return of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, to form the religious and ideological core of the “Iranian theocracy.” The final aim was the appearance of this Shiite Messiah. He further claimed that Iran needed the atomic bomb in order to use it against Israel. Thereupon the publicist Nasrin Amirsedghi drew a dark picture of women’s rights in Iran, a country which was stricken with the “deadly pandemic” called “Islamic republic.” There was a “virus introduced” by Iran’s Revolutionary Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, she claimed, which was the Islamic law Sharia, characterized by “incalculable aggressiveness.”

In addition, Germany’s prominent Islam and Iran experts Katajun Amirpur, Navid Kermani and Bahman Nirumand acted as “purchased vassals” of the “Allah state,” Amirsedghi asserted, and Asadian added that they must be confronted followed by large applause. Revealingly, those three public figures are admittedly known for their statements critical to the Iranian government, but at the same time markedly reject any ‘military solution’ to the conflict.

Finally, Miro Aliyar from the Austrian Committee of the »Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan« explained that Iran was a multi-ethnic state, and therefore the ethnicities represented therein were entitled to autonomy. It is reported that the Bush Administration is supporting separatism in the Iranian provinces of Kurdistan, Khuzestan, and Baluchestan in an effort to destabilize and disintegrate the country. Among the beneficiaries of U.S. and Israeli aid for that goal is the Iranian sister organization of the PKK, the PJAK, that has conducted cross-border raids into Iran.

Israel To Carry Out a Preventive Strike Against Iran

Under the title “The Holy War against Israel and the West” Ha’aretz journalist Yossi Melman, the U.S. neo-conservative figurehead Patrick Clawson and the German political scientist Alexander Ritzmann were due to speak. The latter underlined that the ‘Islamic danger’ was simmering inside Germany where the Lebanese Hezbollah maintained numerous offices. He also condemned the anti-Israel reporting of the Hezbollah broadcasting company Al-Manar, which despite expulsion from different satellite networks could still be received in Europe still via one network. Ritzmann, who is a Senior Fellow with the neo-conservative Brussels think-tank »European Foundation for Democracy«, opined that Iran could at any time activate these “Islamist” groups residing in Germany for political purposes, and will do so. Nearly all German politicians believe, Ritzmann claimed, that Iran represented a danger for Israel. However, the task was to make clear that Iran was also a danger for Europe and the whole world, he emphasized – indeed a challenge since based on the facts on the ground Germany’s policy-makers are far from conceiving the “Iranian threat” in such dimensions.

Following the same dictum, intelligence expert Melman described the threat of an irrationally acting Iran that would acquire nuclear weapons capability between 2009 and 2011. If diplomacy failed, he predicted, Israel had to act militarily; an approach agreed upon by most Israeli politicians and parties, he added. Following the so-called Begin Doctrine – named after a former Israeli Prime Minister and used as basis for the 1981 bombardment of the Iraqi nuclear plant »Osiraq« – his country would act preventively within one or two years from now: “I believe Israel will have to do it,” Melman concluded. Not sharing Morris’ suggestion of a nuclear attack on Iran, he stressed that conventional tools might be sufficient. Melman covers intelligence and national security issues for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz and is the co-author, with Meir Javedanfar, of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran (2007).

Clawson, deputy research director at the neo-conservative »Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)« – a think-tank ascribed to the Israel Lobby – was certainly the most prominent international figure speaking at the conference. He argued that in addition to economic pressures, political and security measures must be taken, such as accelerating the “military security” of Iran’s neighbors. Moreover, it must be openly voiced that “we will be prepared to deter Iran.” However, if diplomacy failed, he said to me in an interview, he fears that the military option will be employed. Clawson, one of the main players in the preparation of the “regime change” enterprise in Iraq, has over the years demanded an equal lot for Iran.

“Language of Sticks” as the “Only Solution”?

On the panel “Iran and Europe: Dialogue or confrontation?” Saul Singer, The Jerusalem Post’s editorial page editor, argued that Europe’s “appeasement policy” regarding Iran would press Israel towards war.5 The author of Confronting Jihad: Israel’s Struggle and the World After 9/11 (2003) praised the event as ringing the “beginnings of a new anti-fascist Left.” Singer, who earlier in the conference referred to the “Iranian nuclear war program,” pointed to the Iranian President’s disputed statements regarding Israel and called for Ahmadinejad to be legally pursued. This ought to be done according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide whose Article 3(c) says that “[d]irect and public incitement to commit genocide” is punishable.6 However, one can doubt whether Ahmadinejad’s falsified statement – which verbatim reads “The Imam [Khomeini] said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghâlgar-e Qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bâyad az safheh-ye ruzgâr mahv shavad)” – can be interpreted as incitement to genocide, or is a call for a “regime change” in a country that in violation of the most basic principles of international law continues a decades-long occupation.

Singer continued stressing that it was not the Iranian nuclear program that posed problem, but the very existence of the regime. The West could act, and had to do so, particularly so as it “holds international legitimacy in its hands“ – in fact, a questionable judgment in the view of the reality of Western-led occupations in the last decade. Especially when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program, the majority of the international community has consistently supported Tehran’s position against Western accusations.

Finally, the well-known German journalist Bruno Schirra was convinced that the only solution regarding the “clerical fascist system” of Iran would be the use of the “language of sticks.” The author of Iran – Sprengstoff für Europa [Iran – Explosives for Europe] (2006) said that bombing Iran would only postpone the nuclear program to about five to ten years, so that in the end one would be forced to live with a nuclear-armed Iran.

There was no mention of the word “dialogue” included in the panel’s title, nor any suggestions in such a direction.

A “New Anti-Fascist Front” Against the “New Hitler”?

The final panel discussion was meant to promote “The need for a new antifascism.” Laying the foundational stone of the evening, Jeffrey Herf, professor of history at Maryland University, put Ahmadinejad on a level with Bin Laden and Hitler. It was a matter of defying “fanatic anti-Semitism,” he insisted, an ideological fanaticism that must not be underestimated.

The next speaker was Los Angeles-based Kayvan Kaboli, spokesperson of the »Green Party of Iran«. He considered the “Tehran regime [to be] of fascist essence,” which not only in a few years, but right now represented an international threat – just like “global warming” as he went great length to explain. Iran, Kaboli asserted, pursued a “program of territorial expansion” and used Iraq as stepping stone to eradicate Israel. The “clero-fascist regime” in Tehran planned to “islamize the world,” he said. And the European “appeasement policy” toward Iran “for the sake of juicy contracts” was “shameful.” Kaboli finally called upon Iranian “opposition” groups to declare support for Israel. After all, the “two fascisms” – Nazi-Germany and Iran – were the same and also equally dangerous. It was the formation of a worldwide anti-fascist front, he suggest, which presented a way out.

The highlight of the congress was the contribution made by Thomas von der Osten-Sacken. The founder and director of the NGO WADI, a German ‘relief and human rights’ organization mainly active in Northern Iraq, made it quite clear from the very beginning that what he called “Islam-Nazism” was very similar to Germany’s National-Socialism. Therefore anti-fascism was necessary, whose aim had to be to “bash these Islam-Nazis, put them in jail, and kill them” – a statement which was accompanied by large applause. As “anti-fascists” we had to “wage war,” not militarily however, but the war must be taken seriously, he insisted. Just like in the 1930s and 40s the universalistic vision must be to fight “despotism.”

Von der Osten-Sacken, who is considered a leading figure of the so-called “Anti-Deutschen” [Anti-Germans] – a well established ideological strand among the German Left which deems unconditional support for Israel’s policies as consequential lesson of Germany’s hegemonic strive in World War II and its Holocaust crimes – presented an agenda for the “democratization” of the Middle East. This included: secularization and “rule of law”; a “restructuring of the economy”; a “federalization” instead of nationalization, in which Kurdish efforts for independence would be considered; against „gender apartheid“; and against both Iran and Syria. These programmatic points, which strongly reminded of the 2004 U.S. initiative for a “Greater Middle East,” were supplemented by his very curious interpretation of the ongoing Iraq War. The countries of the region, such as Iraq, are “rotten from the core” so that one only had to “screw the cork” and war would inevitably break out.

Altogether, he denied a nuclear weapons-free zone, which follows that Israel would remain the only country in the Middle East possessing such weapons of mass destruction. To conclude, Von der Osten-Sacken outlined his “vision” for the future of the region. He wished one day to be able to take the Intercity train from Tel Aviv via Amman and Baghdad to Tehran without any passport check, then go to a Tehrani disco, drink beer and later on have a sunbath at the Persian Gulf.7

Broder’s Slander Volley

The last speaker of the conference, Henryk M. Broder, was the most prominent figure among the German participants. An author for liberal-left outlets, above all Germany’s most influential political weekly magazine Der Spiegel, is notorious for his defamatory polemics. In his 2006 best-seller Hurra, wir kapitulieren! [Hurray, we capitulate!], he accuses the West to “cave in” vis-à-vis Islamists and thus to promote Europe’s “Islamization.” Signaling his agreement with and referring to what his predecessor had outlined before, Broder quoted a Palestinian journalist friend whom he used to meet in Bethlehem with the sentence “It’s not about the occupation, it’s about the girls on the beach!” He stressed that the situation at hand was as “terrible and cruel” as in the 1930s. In an unmistakable reference to Nazi-Germany, Broder remarked that the topic Iran “looks somehow familiar to us.” But there was an important difference between 1939/40 and 2008, he added: nowadays, there was no Churchill who was able to act after negotiations failed. On his co-edited web-blog, Die Achse des Guten [The Axis of Good], which assembles a pool of writers and registers nearly 400,000 unique visitors per month, Broder called Iran the “Fourth Reich.” The “idea of war” was “horrifying” to him, but this option could not be omitted, he underscored.

Then, he contented himself with quoting passages from German daily papers of 2006 about the West–Iran standoff. The citations delivered the impression of European politicians constantly offering attractive incentive packages to the Iranians; but with resolute defiance, Tehran had been rejecting them. Furthermore, Iran had also repeatedly ignored ultimatums set by the West without shrugging its shoulders. This absurd lining up of newspaper excerpts caused a certain amusement within the audience. He did not need to read out the quotations from 2007, Broder added, because their content could easily be imagined. He finally quoted the Iranian president as saying “the Europeans are stupid,” and complacently added that Ahmadinejad might be right.

Then Broder turned to the »Arbeiterfotografie« (Concerned Photography). This group of politically committed photographers was the first in Germany to reveal the mistranslations of the Iranian President’s alleged “Israel must be wiped off the map” statements made during an anti-Zionism conference held in Tehran in October 2005. On its initiative the »Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (bpb)« [Federal Center for Political Education], a public think-tank, ordered the examination of Ahmadinejad’s remarks by the translation service of the German Parliament, the Bundestag. As a result, Associated Press (AP), (website of Germany’s most widely watched TV newscast) and SpiegelOnline (the online edition of Der Spiegel) conceded their unchecked adoption of translations dispatched then by the major Western news agencies. However, they have not yet corrected their mistakes in previously published items.

The issue of Ahmadinejad’s actual words gained prominence as late as this March with an article appearing in the country’s largest daily, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, where the renowned Islam and Iran expert, Katajun Amirpur, pointed to the widespread mistranslation of this “Iranian key sentence” and the danger it harbors for serving as a pretext for waging war an Iran allegedly intent on “wiping Israel off the map.”

Not amused by Amirpur’s revelations then, at the conference Broder relinquished a rude tirade against “those who sparked the debate” with the bpb – a reference to the »Arbeiterfotografie«: Already calling the latter lumpenproletariat in a blog, Broder now added to this “troublemakers,” “cranks,” “bums,” “anti-social elements,” “subsidy receivers” and “madmen.” However, he stressed, the bpb had “elegantly” solved the issue kicked off by those “fools.” In fact, the website particularly provided by the public think-tank to open a discussion on Ahmadinejad’s statements and “Iran’s position” hardly presents a balanced, let alone educational account: From three contributions in total, one is by Matthias Küntzel and another – a polemic – by Broder himself.

The Auschwitz Lesson: Suspending Human Rights in Case of Emergency?

In the final discussion, the U.S. historian Herf called for a “new Atlanticism.” Such an “Atlantic alliance” should wage the “long war against radical Islam” – a phrase at the core of neo-conservative thinking. At the same time he predicted that if the “U.S. withdraws from the world,” especially from Iraq, then Europe will be exposed to greater danger.

Von der Osten-Sacken, on his part, claimed that a large majority of the Iranian population was in favor of “liberation.” He underlined that we were in a “state of emergency.” The lesson of Auschwitz meanwhile comprised the idea that “in some situations, human rights are to be suspended,” he was convinced. Finally, Kaboli recommended including each willing group – regardless of its democratic posture – into an “anti-fascist front.”

Fully in compliance with Küntzel’s initial desire, the conference at no time ran the risk of being only approximately academic. Following his desire for political intervention, some of the prominent Berlin conference participants intend to talk to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In order to likewise refer to the alleged danger posed by Iran and to require concrete action, they moreover wished for a Bundestag hearing and also intend to talk to German companies.

All conference participants agreed upon the notion of a “worldwide threat” posed by the new quasi-“fascist” state of Iran. They also agreed upon an iron fist as best response to this. 8 Among this sea of consent, there was only a single moment in the conference where a dissenting view was voiced. A bearded, Jewish man from the audience said that the picture drawn between Good and Evil was not so clear for him as presented by the panelists. Immediately, he was interrupted by the moderator and asked not to issue a statement (whereas others who agreed with what had been said were extensively allowed to make their case) but to ask a question. However, he was not able to do so, as the microphone was promptly taken away from him by one of the organizers.

Against Iran and Islam: Unholy Alliances of the “Anti-Fascist Front”

With the participation of key Berlin panelists, an almost identical conference, entitled “The Iranian Threat,” took place at the University of Vienna/Austria on the following day. The congress was organized by SPME Austria and »Stop the Bomb – Coalition against the Iranian extermination program«, an initiative endorsed by over 4,000 petition signees, who demand a total isolation of Iran. Among them are Austrian Nobel Literature Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek and prominent Dutch writer Leon de Winter.9 In an interview for SpiegelOnline – the very popular online edition of Der Spiegel –, conducted by Broder, in August 2005, De Winter states: “Sometimes there is only the choice between disaster and catastrophe, and then one must remember that the first and foremost task of the state is to guarantee the life and security of its citizens. […] We deal with a new totalitarianism. No, this one is not new, but is only different. After the left fascism of the Soviets, after the right fascism of the Nazis, Islamism is the fascism of the 21st century.”10

»Stop the Bomb« emerged out of protest against ongoing trade relations between Austria and Iran. Especially the 2007 gas deal, worth of 22 billion euros, between the Austrian OMV (Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung), Central Europe’s leading oil and gas corporation, and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), is a thorn in the initiators’ flesh as it might undermine their much-desired, total isolation of Iran. In Berlin, the German journalist Schirra has uttered the wish to form a German variant of the »Stop the Bomb« initiative.

Unlike the German media, the Austrian daily Der Standard published a conference report headlined “Threats of War from the Lecture Hall.” The contents and threats that were uttered in Vienna led Der Standard’s Senior Editor Gudrun Harrer to assume that these both congresses must have been a concerted lobbying “roadshow” in an effort to push for war on Iran and to brand anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism.

The long-serving Mideast expert Udo Steinbach, director from 1976 to 2007 of Germany’s foremost Middle East research entity, the »German Orient Institute«, has called the Berlin conference’s goal to form an “AIPAC” in German-speaking countries. And indeed the resemblance to the »American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – America’s pro-Israel Lobby« – deemed as of one of the most influential American lobbies – is hard to overlook. Akin to AIPAC, WINEP and other parts of the Israel Lobby and the wider neo-conservative movement, the German-speaking variant is beating the drums for war on Iran.

Next on the agenda is a date 31 May–1 June at Cologne University, which the audience was given notice of by flyers in the entrance hall of the Berlin conference: The “Kritische Islamkonferenz: Der Islam als politische Herausforderung” [Critical Islam Conference: Islam as Political Challenge]. The event is linked on the website of the right-wing, Islamophobic Politically Incorrect (PI), which in turn also links to Broder’s Achse des Guten weblog. PI is also sympathizing with Honestly Concerned, an initiative founded in May 2002 to counter anti-Israel stances in the media and also of the main supporters of the Berlin conference. By mid-May two major German organizations committed to fighting the “Islamization” of Germany and Europe merged into the »Bürgerbewegung (Citizens’ Movement) Pax Europa«.

The bolstering anti-Islam movement in Germany appears to enjoy privileged ties with emerging neo-conservative ideologues. Allegedly in favor of Israel, the United States, and European values, those groups have designed a new globally omnipresent threat – this time, Iran in the company of Islam – which they cultivate both in domestic (immigrant integration) and foreign policy (Iran and its “evil” allies) stages. Startlingly, for building such an unholy alliance strugglers against anti-Semitism have unconsciously joined with rightist extremists.

These agents provocateurs have specialized in distorting the realities (forcing on the “clash of civilizations” concept upon social and political conflicts) and in perverting the lessons modern history provides. In their “West against the (Islamic) rest” paradigm, they ruthlessly camouflage the horrendous consequences of their recent drum beats, leaving the over one million Iraqi victims of the ongoing occupation a lone footnote in their bloody efforts to “promote democracy.” The blunt assumptions and statements uttered at the Berlin conference expose – without further need of comment – their homophobic attitudes. Even more gravely, they invoke the memory of millions of Holocaust victims to suit their one and only agenda: the “long war.” The self-proclaimed “anti-fascist” supporters of Bush’s neo-conservative project are in reality anti-democrats; and certainly they are not pro-Israeli or pro-American – nor are they pro-Iranian: they are pro-war.

And: It remains to be seen whether the conference organizers’ will to win over the Left will succeed. The German Left Party plays a decisive role here as it must decide whether it is willing to continue the path of anti-imperialism and anti-war, or is ready to bury them at the altar of a grotesquely defined raison d’Etat – as Gregor Gysi, head of Die Linke’s large Bundestag caucus, has recently demanded. While Broder applauded him, he was boldly criticized by foreign and peace policy experts of the party-affiliated foundation who doubted if Gysi was really advocating a “leftist policy.” But despite the mobilization of “pro-Zionist” factions amidst leftist milieus, the huge crowd gathering at the Berlin 1968 Congress keep the hope astute that war-mongering will have a hard time selling its propaganda to sympathizers of the Left.

Version of 1 June 2008.

The author thanks Judith Schlenker (Germany) for translating an initial version of the report from German.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad is an independent writer focussing on the international politics of the Middle East, the foreign policies of France, Germany, the United States and Iran as well as politico−cultural issues of immigrant integration. He publishes in English, German, and French with his articles translated into Spanish, Italian, and Persian. He is the author of a detailed study on the U.S.−Iran Crisis, entitled Iran in the Eye of Storm – Backgrounds of a Global Crisis, Since 2006, he has delivered numerous lectures all across Germany.


1 According to Small, this statement was made at the conference “Understanding the Challenge of Iran,” organized late April 2008 by the »Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism« which is headed by Small himself.

2 In the aftermath of the conference, Morris voiced similar comments vis-à-vis the online editions of the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (7 May) and the Austrian Standard (11 May) dailies.

3 For the views expressed in his talk, please refer to both his articles “Ahmadinejads Mission” [Ahmadinejad’s Mission], Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, 25 April 2008, and “The Tehran–Berlin Axes”, The Wall Street Journal (Europe), 15 May 2008.

4 Küntzel’s presentation of figures in terms of German–Iran economic relations was biased. He estimated the German–Iranian trade volume to be at 5 billion euros, which is correct, but he did not mention that as a result of the sanctions imposed upon Iran in recent years, a pressure mainly exerted by the U.S. Treasury, German exports had halved to 3 billion euros for 2007. While trade with Iran equals less than 0.5 percent of Germany’s total export volume, Iran covered 40 percent of her imports from Germany, Küntzel claimed. In reality, Iran covers roughly 10 percent of its total supplies worth of over 60 billion U.S. dollars from Germany. Furthermore Küntzel claimed that about three-quarters of the small and medium-sized enterprises in Iran were dependent on goods imported from Germany. This is also rapidly changing with Iranian firms turning to Asian countries and at the same time making efforts to increase domestic production capabilities.

In conclusion one must note that Küntzel supersized Germany’s economic weight for Iran, thus serving the purpose of supporting his argument for a cancellation of German trade ties with Iran, which would then result in a quasi-total isolation of the Middle Eastern heavyweight. But the situation in a globalized world economy is more diverse than this simplistic assessment suggests. As a consequence of the U.S.-pushed sanctions regime imposed upon European economies, those have experienced significantly losses in trade shares with Iran. However, a complete breakup of the trade relations with Iran would have damaging long-term consequences for the world’s number one export nation, as the chairman of the “North Africa–Middle East Initiative of the German Economy,” Matthias Mitscherlich, emphasized in an interview on 29 November 2007. Meanwhile, European retreat from the lucrative Iranian market has made China, an EU rival, the most important trade partner of Tehran touching a bilateral trade volume of 25 billion dollars this year. The business volume with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has hit 12 billion dollars, 10 billion of which are Iranian imports. The UAE is believed to serve as bridgehead to the Iranian market for U.S. firms.

5 In early 2008, the Jerusalem Post announced that it will begin a partnership with the Wall Street Journal including joint marketing and exclusive publication in Israel of The Wall Street Journal Europe. Its current head editor is David Horovitz who in 2004 replaced current Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens. In addition, in 2007, Dow Jones & Company, the owner of the Wall Street Journal – whose editorial board is considered as supporting neo-conservative foreign policy stances – was bought by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

6 Former German State Secretary Klaus Faber, an attorney from Potsdam/Germany and acting chairman of the »Wissenschaftsforum der Sozialdemokratie in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e.V.« – a think-tank affiliated to the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD) – pointed out that former Canadian Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, had likewise called to “try Ahmadinejad for genocide calls”. Later in the conference, it was agreed upon that further to the political agenda this legal path should be simultaneously followed.

7 Due to Von der Osten-Sacken’s anti-Muslim agitation, the already independent WADI Austria recently dissolved from the main German organization to become what is now LEEZA.

8 At the conference were also present: Wahied Wahdat Hagh, political scientist, former member of MEMRI Germany (»The Middle East Media Research Institute«), online columnist for Welt Debatte and Senior Research Fellow with the Brussels think-tank »European Foundation for Democracy«; Klaus Faber, German State Secretary ret., attorney from Potsdam and acting chairman of the »Wissenschaftsforum der Sozialdemokratie in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern« and co-editor of Neu-alter Judenhass: Antisemitismus, arabisch-israelischer Konflikt und europäische Politik [New-Old Jew-Hatred: Anti-Semitism, Arab–Israeli Conflict and European Policies] (Verlag für Berlin Brandenburg, 2006).

9 Other important signees are the Berlin and Vienna conference speakers Küntzel, Casaca, Kaboli, Herf, and furthermore Hermann L. Gremliza (editor of the ‘Anti-German’ weekly magazine konkret), Kazem Moussavi (foreign policy speaksperson of the »Green Party of Iran« in Europe), Karl Pfeifer (leading journalist with the Austrian, pro-Israel online journal Die Jüdische [The Jewish]), Sacha Stawski (editor-in-chief of the online Honestly Concerned), Ruth Contreras (member of SPME’s Board of Directors, coordinator for SMPE in Europe and chairwoman of SPME Austria), chief editors of »German Media Watch« (a pro-Israel media monitoring group established in 2001), Andrei S. Markovits (professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and author of the German-language book Amerika, Dich hasst sich’s besser. Antiamerikanismus und Antisemitismus in Europa, published by konkret’s publishing house »Konkret-Literatur Verlag« in 2004), Micha Brumlik (who was present at the Berlin conference is professor for Educating Science at the University of Frankfurt/Main and co-editor of the political-scientific monthly magazine Blätter für deutsche und international Politik), Christopher Gillibrand (journalist with the neo-conservative The Brussels Journal – The Voice of Conservatism in Europe, which is published by the Zurich-based non-profit organization »Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE)« and features articles from the American right-conservative daily The Washington Times), »Scottish Friends of Israel«, Raimund Fastenbauer (Secretary-General of the Austrian Federal Association of the Jewish Religious Community [»Bundesverband der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinden«]), and many others.

10 In own translation. The German original reads: “ Manchmal hat man nur die Wahl zwischen einem Desaster und einer Katastrophe, und dann muss man sich daran erinnern, dass es die erste und wichtigste Aufgabe des Staates ist, das Leben und die Sicherheit seiner Bürger zu garantieren. […] Wir haben es mit einem neuen Totalitarismus zu tun. Nein, er ist nicht neu, er ist nur anders. Nach dem linken Faschismus der Sowjets, nach dem rechten Faschismus der Nazis, ist der Islamismus der Faschismus des 21. Jahrhunderts.” The interview can also be retrieved via WADI’s website.

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Hedges: It’s Insane to Attack Iran, Devastating Consequences

As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon

Senators say report of planned US strikes on Iran untrue


Bush’s bankrupt vision by Noam Chomsky

Dandelion Salad

by Noam Chomsky
Khaleej Times
June 1, 2008

In mid-May, President Bush travelled to the Middle East to establish his legacy more firmly in the part of the world that has been the prime focus of his presidency.

The trip had two principal destinations, each chosen to celebrate a major anniversary: Israel, the 60th anniversary of its founding and recognition by the United States, and Saudi Arabia, the 75th anniversary of US recognition of the newly founded kingdom. The choices made good sense in the light of history and the enduring character of US Middle East policy: control of oil, and support of the proxies who help maintain it.

An omission, however, was not lost on the people of the region. Though Bush celebrated the founding of Israel, he did not recognise (let alone commemorate) the paired event from 60 years ago: the destruction of Palestine, the Nakba, as Palestinians refer to the events that expelled them from their lands.

During his three days in Jerusalem, the president was an enthusiastic participant in lavish events and made sure to go to Masada, a near-sacred site of Jewish nationalism.


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William E. Odom, 75; Military Adviser to 2 Administrations Died May 30

Dandelion Salad

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 1, 2008; Page C08

William E. Odom, 75, a retired Army lieutenant general who was a senior military and intelligence official in the Carter and Reagan administrations and who, in recent years, became a forceful critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, died May 30 at his vacation home in Lincoln, Vt. An autopsy will be performed, but his wife said he had an apparent heart attack.


h/t: CLG

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.


Olbermann: Reality on the Ground in Iraq + Race Re-Introduced

General William Odom Tells Senate: Rapid Withdrawal Is Only Solution