FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects

Dandelion Salad

By Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Newspapers
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael Mukasey confirmed plans Wednesday to loosen post-Watergate restrictions on the FBI’s national security and criminal investigations, saying the changes were necessary to improve the bureau’s ability to detect terrorists.

Mukasey said he expected criticism of the new rules because “they expressly authorize the FBI to engage in intelligence collection inside the United States.” However, he said the criticism would be misplaced because the bureau has long had authority to do so.

…continued

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“The Neocons Are Dying to Nuke Iran” An interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Kathy Sanborn
08/13/08 “ICH”

Sanborn: When I read your article, “Marching Off Into Tyranny,” I was impressed by how you were able to concisely sum up one of the most important issues that we face as Americans, namely, the erosion of our civil liberties, mostly due to fabricated terrorism such as the anthrax scare and the attacks on 9/11. You talk about the Florida university professor, Al-Arian, who continues to be victimized by the Feds although a jury has cleared him of any terrorism charges. [As of August 8, 2008, the Associated Press states, “U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema postponed the trial indefinitely, questioning whether the government was overeager in filing charges.” –KS]

What was your wake-up call, Dr. Roberts, to the fact that the current administration was determined to take away the civil liberties of Americans?

Roberts: When they responded to 9/11 with the Patriot Act. That document was thick, and it would have taken months and months to prepare it, yet it came out shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Why does combating terrorism require an assault on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? It was clear to me that there was an undeclared agenda there.

On the day of 9/11, I knew right away that something was wrong. I had been an engineering student at Georgia Tech, and things just didn’t add up. As I watched the towers fall, I could see that the buildings were blowing up from the top, at least initially. The airplanes caused asymmetrical damage, and I don’t think the planes were large enough to cause the buildings to topple. When you chop a tree down, it doesn’t blow up, it falls.

The buildings were blowing up, not falling down.

Then when I saw pictures of the alleged terrorists, most of them looked just like kids. They were small, and airplane passengers wouldn’t have hesitated to try to take them down. The average American male should have been able to take care of the hijackers.

And how they could have fooled all of the intelligence agencies, outwit NORAD, and so on; it just didn’t make any sense.

They were really after our civil liberties. That was their undeclared agenda. The effect is that no one has any protection under the law.

Sanborn: In your article, you mention the anthrax scare as being a logical part of the 9/11 “false-flag” series of events. Now that we know the anthrax actually came from a US government lab and not from an alleged cave in Afghanistan, the theory seems to hold water. And you point out that recently scientist Bruce Ivins was implicated in the anthrax case after his apparent “suicide.”

You also discuss how the Bush administration lied to ABC reporter Brian Ross by telling him the anthrax was made in Iraq by none other than Saddam Hussein, thus clearing the way for the US to invade Iraq and to pass the Patriot Act. Dr. Roberts, are journalists these days in the habit of simply believing and accepting everything the administration tells them, or are some of them on the “company” (CIA) payroll?

Roberts: I suspect both. It’s a corporate-run media, especially since the Clinton administration days, and many of the journalists act as “disinfo” agents for the government.

Back in the 1970s when I was a Senate aide, I would turn on the TV in the evening and the news reports would bear no resemblance to what had actually happened that day. I noticed that there were no journalists in the gallery, so how had the stories gotten to them? It turned out that the aides were calling the press, and the journalists were taking the stories, virtually running them verbatim. Journalists are lazy.

When I was working in the Reagan administration, I noticed that Stockman, Darman, and Jim Baker had their own special spin on things in a way that served their own agendas, and not the President’s.

Sanborn: What is clearly shocking and “in your face” about this administration is the fact that, as you say, the administration officials wanted for questioning by Congress (such as Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers) simply refuse to comply, and that seems to be the end of the story. These officials demonstrate to us that they believe they are above the law. It brings to mind the recent flip comment by a shrugging Vice President Dick Cheney: “So?” That attitude says it all, doesn’t it, Dr. Roberts?

Roberts: They think they’re not accountable. They use the law against their enemies. The acquiescence of the Congress is hard to explain, though.

Sanborn: Sometimes I wonder if the Congress is being bribed or blackmailed. That could explain why they refuse to stop illegal wars and torture.

Roberts: The purpose of illegal spying is to get blackmail information on members of Congress, and it started well before 9/11.

Sanborn: You say that no amount of evidence would convince the American public that their government, or rogue elements therein, would ever have been involved in 9/11 or the anthrax scare. It almost sounds like Americans have been brainwashed to a certain extent. Dr. Roberts, why can’t the US populace get their minds around the fact that we are losing our rights by the day, and that this so-called “war on terror” is the root cause?

Roberts: Most of them think that because they aren’t doing anything wrong, they have nothing to fear. I would ask them this: Why did the founding fathers write the Constitution?

Americans believe that they are the salt of the earth, and that “Evil tries to get us because we are so good.” Bush says, “They hate us for our freedoms.” That’s a farce.

Sanborn: Let’s assume that the Bush administration hasn’t had their fill of power quite yet. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, it might not be a stretch to speculate that Bush and company might wish to contrive an “event” in order to suspend the upcoming elections and to remain in control of the White House. What say you, Dr. Roberts, to this possibility?

Roberts: I think it is a possibility. I warned of this back in ’06, I believe. The event would have to do with Iran. However, we’ve run out of allies to attack Iran, except for Israel. Attacking Iran would cause more blowback than we could manage, and we can’t get Russia or China to go along with our administration’s desire to attack Iran. We can’t push the Chinese or the Russians around in any way.

People may wake up to the truth yet. Ron Suskind’s new book, The Way of the World, is powerful. [He states that the Bush administration produced a fake letter claiming to demonstrate a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, in order to justify war with Iraq. There was no such link. –KS]

The frame-up of a dead man, Ivins, in the anthrax case isn’t working with knowledgeable people, either. Ivins couldn’t have done it because he worked in labs that made vaccines, and he didn’t have the special equipment necessary to make the anthrax.

Sanborn: By the way, Dr. Roberts, I wonder what your take is on the recent news that former astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell has, once again, stated that there have been, and still are, alien visitors to Earth. Could this “aliens are officially real” story magically evolve into a fake “alien invasion” to replace the faux -and failed- “war on terror” gambit?

Roberts: I don’t think they could fake an alien attack. No one would expect the Bush administration to be able to defeat an alien invasion.

Sanborn: Switching topics now, I wanted to ask you about the state of our rather perilous economy. Because you are an economic expert (the “Father of Reaganomics,” I’m told), what is your opinion on where the economy is headed?

Roberts: The US economy is in serious trouble. They need to keep interest rates low to bail out all those exotic securities and products, and, at the same time, the government can finance the budget only by foreign borrowing. The inflation rate is higher than our bond interest rate, so foreigners lose money when they sell the bonds. We’re probably engineering deals now with the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis to buy our bonds.

A higher interest rate will worsen the economy, but it’s already going down the drain even with low interest rates.

In addition, most of the good jobs are shipped out of the country, and the remaining good jobs are filled with foreigners on work visas. In the 21st century, no net new jobs were created except in non-tradable, low-paid, domestic services.

Sanborn: Is this all by design, or just pure ineptness?

Roberts: I think it’s hubris. They don’t realize the effects of what they’re doing. They want to plunder while they’re in office, and give to their rich friends.

Sanborn: You make it clear, Dr. Roberts, that you believe we are running out of time. At what point will it be too late to take action? How much time do we have left, in your opinion, before all of our rights are stripped away?

Roberts: One more Republican to the Supreme Court will mean the end of civil liberties, the end of separation of powers, and the end of constitutional government.

The neocons would love to attack Iran, and have Iran retaliate. They could use any retaliation as an excuse to nuke Iran. The neocons are dying to use nuclear weapons. They’d love it if our aircraft carriers in the Gulf were sunk, because we could turn around and nuke Iran. I think that’s the scenario of Dick Cheney, the Weekly Standard, Bill O’Reilly, and others.

I don’t know if Iran realizes its peril.

But, as I’ve said earlier, attacking Iran would cause more blowback than we could handle.

Sanborn: Americans in the know always ask, “What can we do?”

Roberts: It’s almost impossible for us to do anything. We can vote, but votes are decided at the beginning of the election by the programming of the Diebold electronic voting machines.

Some people have written off democracy, honesty, and integrity . . . When you have corruption in the people themselves, it’s hard to do something about corruption in government.

I can’t say I’m hopeful, but the administration’s way is not as clear as it was on 9/11.

Sanborn: Dr. Roberts, thank you for spending time with me today.

Kathy Sanborn is an author, journalist, and recording artist. Currently Kathy is working on a new recording project, slated for completion in 2008.

Kathy welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions for future articles. Write to her at sanbornkathy@yahoo.com

© 2008 Kathy Sanborn

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.

see

Roberts-Paul Craig

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‘Where Are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?’ By Scott Ritter

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
Truthdig
Aug. 8, 2008

In the past two decades I have had the opportunity to participate in certain experiences pertaining to my work that fall into the category of “no one will ever believe this.” I usually file these away, calling on them only when events transpire that breathe new life into these extraordinary memories. Ron Suskind, a noted and accomplished journalist, has written a new book, “The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism,” in which he claims that the “White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush [Tahir Jalil Habbush, the director of the Mukhabarat], to Saddam [Hussein], backdated to July 1, 2001.” According to Suskind, the letter said that “9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq—thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq.”

Continue reading

Mosaic News – 8/12/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

linktv

Mosaic needs your help! Donate here: http://linktv.org/contribute
“Taliban Steps Up Its Attacks Against NATO,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“The Battle Over Kirkuk,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Mauritanian PMs Reject Junta Rule,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“War of Words At Lebanese Parliament,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Lebanese Demand Release of their Prisoners,” New TV, Lebanon
“Russia Halts Assault After Georgia ‘Punished’,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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Media war against Russia – Reuters caught with ‘fake’ pictures from Georgia

Using Georgia to Target Russia by Stephen Lendman

Ossetian refugees mourn their dead + Kosovo + misery continues

Background on Georgia by Bruce Gagnon

Civilians bear the brunt in Gori + Riz Khan: The South Ossetian conflict

The Reality Behind Western Propaganda Regarding War In Georgia

U.S. Armada En Route to the Persian Gulf: “Naval Blockade” or All Out War Against Iran?

Dandelion Salad

Many pics and a map at the original source.  ~ Lo

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, August 13, 2008

The World it at a very dangerous crossroads. America in alliance with NATO and Israel has embarked upon a military adventure.

The Bush administration has launched with the approval of the US Congress a naval blockade against Iran, which could be a first step towards an all out war.

Military sources report a massive deployment of US and allied naval power in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea directed against Iran.

There has been a virtual media blackout regarding this naval deployment. The Western media, including the printed press and network TV have failed to meaningfully address these war preparations.

While war plans directed against are casually acknowledged, the broader implications of a war on Iran are rarely analyzed.

The US media has become a unconditional mouthpiece of the Pentagon. The Islamic republic is relentlessly accused, without a evidence and substantiation, of developing nuclear weapons, as well as working hand in glove with Al Qaeda.

The emerging political consensus among America’s allies, including France, Germany and Italy is that a war on Iran is warranted as a means to enhancing global security.

This consensus is formulated while carefully disregarding the fact that even a limited “punitive” aerial attack on Iran, would immediately result in escalation, engulfing the entire Middle East Central Asian region from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s western frontier into an extended war zone. There are at present three distinct war theater in the region: Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. An attack on Iran could potentially engulf a large number of countries into a much broader conflict.


map

Map: THE MIDDLE EAST CENTRAL ASIA WAR ZONE

A war on Iran would engulf the entire region from the tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the Caspian Sea and from the Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli Medterranean coastline to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Three existing war theaters:

-Afghanstan
-Iraq
-Palestine-Lebanon

would be transformed and integrated into a single war zone,
leading to escalation within and beyond the region.



War Preparations

This massive naval deployment in the Persian Gulf is the culmination of more than five years of active war preparations.

In July 2003, in the immediate wake of the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon launched Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT), as an early phase in military planning in which various war scenarios were scrutinized. In this context, several thousand targets inside Iran had been identified as part of a set of war scenarios:

“Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.” (William Arkin, Washington Post, April 16, 2006)

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has served as a pretext and a justification to wage America’s theater wars in the Middle East. GWOT is a central component of US National Security doctrine. It is also the keystone of the media disinformation campaign, which portrays “Islamic terrorists” threatening the Homeland.  Meanwhile, the strategic and economic objectives underlying America’s Middle East war.

The US led coalition is in an advanced state of readiness. The war plans are at an operational stage.

While the stated objective of this massive naval deployment is to obstruct trade through the straight of Hormuz and enforce a blockade on Iran in the Persian Gulf, an all out war scenario involving air bombardments is also contemplated.

Congressional Approval

The war on Iran is a bipartisan project, which has been fully endorsed by the Democrats. The naval blockade is being carried out, pursuant to act of the US Congress.

In May 2008, the US Congress passed legislation (H.CON. RES 362) that called for the enforcement of an all out economic blockade, including the encroachment of trade and the freeze of monetary transactions with the Islamic Republic:

“The President [shall] initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran …. prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program.”

“[H. CON. RES. 362] urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, … international banks which continue to conduct financial transactions with proscribed Iranian banks; … energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the Iranian petroleum or natural gas sector in any given year since the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996; and all companies which continue to do business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” (See full text of H.CON RES 362) (emphasis added)

Whether an actual attack will be implemented is a matter for careful consideration.

What is significant, however, is that the ongoing concentration of naval power as well as the level of threat are unprecedented.

Moreover, this naval deployment also involves the active participation of several coalition countries under US command. (for details see below).

While there have been several similar naval deployments and war games in the Persian Gulf over the last two years, what is now occurring is unprecedented in terms of the size of the naval strike force.

Concurrent Military Operations: War in the Caucasus

This massive deployment of naval strength occurs at the very outset of an unfolding crisis in the Caucasus, marked by the Georgian air and ground attacks on South Ossetia and Russia’s counterattack. The timing and chronology of these related and concurrent military operations is crucial.

We are not dealing with separate and unrelated military events. The war in Georgia is an integral part of US-NATO-Israeli war preparations in relation to Iran.

Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington. The Georgian head of State is a US proxy and Georgia is a de facto US protectorate.

The attack on South Ossetia was launched by Georgia on the orders of the US and NATO. US military advisers and trainers were actively involved in the planning of Georgia’s attacks on the South Ossetia capital. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, War in  the Caucasus, Towards a Broader Russia-US Military Confrontation, Global Research, August 10, 2008)

Russia is an ally of Iran.

Russia is currently caught up in a military confrontation with Georgia. The Georgian attack on South Ossetia constitutes an act of provocation directed against Russia. It creates an aura of instability in the Caucasus, marked by heavy civilian casualties. It serves to distract Russia from playing a meaningful diplomatic and military role, which might undermine or obstruct the US-led war plans directed against Iran.

Both Russia and China have bilateral military cooperation agreements with Iran. Russia supplies the Islamic Republic with military hardware and technical expertise in relation to Iran’s air defense system and missile program.

Since 2005, Iran has an observer member status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In turn, the SCO has ties to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an overlapping military cooperation agreement between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan.

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

The Georgian attack on South Ossetia seeks to undermine Russia, which constitutes a significant countervailing military power and ally of Iran.

The ultimate objective is to isolate Iran, cut it off from its powerful allies: China and Russia.

In Washington’s mindset, the events in Georgia coupled with media propaganda, can be usefully applied to discredit and weaken Russia prior to the enforcement of a naval blockade on Iran in the Persian Gulf, which could lead into an all out war on Iran.

This somewhat crude line of reasoning tends, however, to overlook America’s own military setbacks and weaknesses as well as the enormous risks to America and the World which could result from a continued and sustained confrontation with Russia, let alone an attack on Iran.

In view of the evolving situation in Georgia and Moscow’s military commitments in the Caucasus, military analysts believe that Russia will not protect Iran and encroach upon a US led operation directed against Iran, which would be preceded by a naval blockade.

In other words, Washington believes that Moscow is unlikely to get actively involved in a showdown with US and allied forces in the Persian Gulf.

“Operation Brimstone”: North Atlantic Ocean War Games

Leading up to this naval build up in the Persian Gulf, US and allied forces have recently completed large scale war games off the US North Atlantic coastline.

Stating the purpose of a war game and identifying the real “foreign enemy” by name is not the normal practice, unless there is a decision to send an unequivocal message to the enemy.

Invariably, in war games  the foreign enemy is given a fictitious country name: Irmingham, Nemazee, Rubeck and Churia stand for Iran, North Korea, Russia and China (codes used in the Vigilant Shield 07 War Games’ Scenario opposing the US to four fictitious enemies. (See William Arkin, The Vigilant Shield 07 War Games: Scenario opposing the US to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, Washington Post, February 10, 2007)

In the case of Operation Brimstone, the stated military purpose of the naval exercise is crystal clear: the North Atlantic war games are carried out with a view “to practice enforcing an eventual blockade on Iran”. These naval exercises are intended to display US and allied “combat capabilities as a warning to Iran.” They are tantamount to a declaration of war.

“The drill is aimed at training for operation in shallow coastal waters such as the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”

Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 ‘Operation Brimstone’ commenced on July 21 in North Carolina and off the Eastern US Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida. Of significance was the participation of British, French, Brazilian and Italian naval forces as part of a multinational US naval exercise directed against Iran.

More than a dozen ships participated in the naval exercise including the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its Carrier Strike Group Two, the expeditionary Strike Group Iwo Jima, the French submarine Amethyste, Britain’s HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group, Brazil’s navy frigate Greenhalgh and Italy’s ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) submarine. (See Middle East Times, August 11, 2008 and Dailypress.com, July 28, 2008 and www.mt-milcom.blogspot.com)

The USS Theodore Roosevelt equipped with 80-plus combat planes, was carrying an additional load of French Naval Rafale fighter jets from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle. (Ibid). France’s E2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft was “assigned to the 4th Squadron began flight operations with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aboard Roosevelt, marking the first integrated U.S. and French carrier qualifications aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier. French Rafale fighter aircraft assigned to the 12th Squadron also joined.” Navy.mil, July 24, 2008

Anglo-US war games are a routine practice, consequence of a Anglo-American military axis. What is significant in these large scale naval manoeuvres is the active participation of France, Brazil and Italy in war games which are explicitly directed against Iran.

The participation of these countries in extensive war games points a to broad military consensus. It also suggests that the participating nations have accepted (in political and military terms) to participate in a US-led military operation directed against Iran. The active participation of France and to a lesser extent Italy also suggests that the European Union is firmly behind the US initiative:

“Operations with our friends and allies are the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s current maritime strategy,” said Capt. Ladd Wheeler, Roosevelt’s commanding officer. “These combined operations will certainly pay dividends into the future as our navies continue to work together to increase global security.”Navy.mil, July 24, 2008

Another important precedent has been set. Brazil’s President Luis Ignacio da Silva has ordered the dispatch of the Greenhalgh  marking the first time that a Brazilian warship (under a government which claims to be “socialist”) has operated as part of a US. strike group against a foreign country. We have not been able to confirm whether the Brazilian frigate has sailed to the Persian Gulf together with USS Roosevelt, to which it was attached during Operation Brimstone.

According to the Greenhalgh’s Commander Claudio Mello, “It allows us to be one more asset in an international operation.” (Pilot Online.com, July 28, 2008)

pic

En Route to the Persian Gulf

Of significance is that immediately upon completing the North Atlantic war games, on July 31st, the Operation Brimstone Joint Task Force headed for the Persian Gulf, to join up with three other carrier strike groups and a constellation of US, British and French war ships. In other words, Operation Brimstone was a dress rehearsal of an actual naval blockade.

According to military sources, the following naval forces, which are already deployed in the Persian Gulf consists of

-the nuclear powered USS Ronald Reagan Carrier and its Strike Group Seven;

-the USS Iwo Jima,

– the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal

-several French warships, including the nuclear hunter-killer submarine Amethyste.

Also positioned in the region are  the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea and the USS Peleliu which is currently in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

pic

Unprecedented Deployment of Naval Power

This is the largest concentration of US and allied naval power since the onslaught of the Iraq war in March 2003.

Once the Brimstone joint task force naval force arrives in the Gulf region, it will be joining two other U.S. naval battle groups already on site: the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Peleliu.

pic

Four US aircraft carriers and strike forces will be positioned in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.

USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Ronald Reagan. USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Peleliu Strike Group. The US is also sending to the Middle East the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group

With accompanying frigates and submarines, some 40 war ships will be in a state of readiness, in the region and/or or directly off the Iranian coastline.

In addition to these 40 war ships, there are some 36 US and allied war vessels operating under USCentcom as part of a Combined Maritime Force (CMF) involved in Maritime Security

In an August 11 article published by Global  Research, the nature of this Naval Strike force is specified and enumerated as follows:

“The US Naval forces being assembled include the following:

Carrier Strike Group Nine

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) nuclear powered supercarrier with its Carrier Air Wing Two Destroyer Squadron Nine:

USS Mobile Bay (CG53) guided missile cruiser
USS Russell (DDG59) guided missile destroyer
USS Momsen (DDG92) guided missile destroyer
USS Shoup (DDG86) guided missile destroyer
USS Ford (FFG54) guided missile frigate
USS Ingraham (FFG61) guided missile frigate
USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG60) guided missile frigate
USS Curts (FFG38) guided missile frigate
Plus one or more nuclear hunter-killer submarines

Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group

USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault carrier
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) assault ship
USS Dubuque (LPD8) assault ship/landing dock
USS Cape St. George (CG71) guided missile cruiser
USS Halsey (DDG97) guided missile destroyer
USS Benfold (DDG65) guided missile destroyer

Carrier Strike Group Two

USS Theodore Roosevelt (DVN71) nuclear powered supercarrier with its Carrier Air Wing Eight [Set sail for the Gulf on August 5]

Destroyer Squadron 22
USS Monterey (CG61) guided missile cruiser
USS Mason (DDG87) guided missile destroyer
USS Nitze (DDG94) guided missile destroyer
USS Sullivans (DDG68) guided missile destroyer

USS Springfield (SSN761) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

IWO ESG ~ Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group [Set sail for the Gulf]

USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) amphibious assault carrier with its Amphibious Squadron Four and with its 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
USS San Antonio (LPD17) assault ship
USS Velia Gulf (CG72) guided missile cruiser
USS Ramage (DDG61) guided missile destroyer
USS Carter Hall (LSD50) assault ship
USS Roosevelt (DDG80) guided missile destroyer

USS Hartford  (SSN768) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine

Carrier Strike Group Seven

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) nuclear powered supercarrier with its Carrier Air Wing 14 Destroyer Squadron 7

USS Chancellorsville (CG62) guided missile cruiser
USS Howard (DDG83) guided missile destroyer
USS Gridley (DDG101) guided missile destroyer
USS Decatur (DDG73) guided missile destroyer
USS Thach (FFG43) guided missile frigate
USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) fast combat support ship

Also likely to join the battle armada:

UK Royal Navy HMS Ark Royal Carrier Strike Group with assorted guided missile destroyers and frigates, nuclear hunter-killer submarines and support ships

French Navy nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines (likely the Amethyste and perhaps others), plus French Naval Rafale fighter jets operating off of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as the French Carrier Charles de Gaulle is in dry dock, and assorted surface warships

The USS Iwo Jima and USS Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Groups have USMC Harrier jump jets and an assortment of assault and attack helicopters. The Expeditionary Strike Groups have powerful USMC Expeditionary Units with amphibious armor and ground forces trained for operating in shallow waters and in seizures of land assets, such as Qeshm Island (a 50 mile long island off of Bandar Abbas in the Gulf of Hormuz and headquarters off the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps).”

(See Earl of Sterling, Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran, Global Research, August 2008

“Maritime Security”: Thirty-six More Vessels

US Central Command (CENTCOM) under the helm of General Petraeus, coordinates out of Bahrain so-called Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in Middle East waters ( Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean).

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This MSO initiative is conducted by the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) with a powerful armada  of 36 warships.

Established at the outset of the Iraq war, CMF involves the participation of the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Pakistan.

There are several combined task forces responsible for maritime security (including CTF 150, CTF 152 and the CTF 158 North Arabian Gulf (NAG))

The mandate of the Combined Task Forces  “aims to establish security and stability by countering terrorism in the Middle Eastern maritime environment and allowing legitimate mariners to operate safely in the area…” (see Canadian  Navy, News), In the present context, the multinational alliance, will be used to encroach upon maritime trade with Iran as well as play an active role in the implementing the proposed economic blockade of Iran.

Canada has recently deployed three war ships to the Arabian sea, including HMC Iroquois along with HMC Calgary and HMC Protecteur which will be operating under CTF 150, which is responsible for MSO in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

pic

Among the 36 war vessels involved in so-called Maritime Security Operations, are:

RBNS Sabha (FFG 90) – The Bahraini flagship of CTF 152 conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Central and Southern Arabian Gulf.

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) – The U.S. flagship of CTF 50, conducting MSO in the Central and Southern Arabian Gulf, as well as supports Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

FS Guepratte (F 714) – French Navy ship operating as part of CTF 150 in the North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) – One of several USCG 110’ patrol boats conducting MSO in the North Arabian Gulf.

HMAS Arunta (F 151) – Australian Navy ship conducting MSO as part of CTF 158 .

PNS Tippu Sultan (D 186) – Pakistan Navy ship conducting MSO as part of CTF 150.

RFA Cardigan Bay (L 3009) – British Royal Navy auxiliary ship operating with CTF 158.

USS Port Royal (CG 73) – US Navy guided-missile cruiser deployed with USS Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group.

Source: US Naval forces, Central  Command, Fifth fleet, Combined Maritime Forces

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Naval Blockade

For Iran,  a naval blockade enforced by some 80 war ships stationed in Middle East waters and off the Iranian coastline is tantamount to a declaration of war.

Meanwhile, war preparations are also being undertaken by Israel and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean. German war ships are stationed off the Syrian coastline. Turkey which constitutes a major military actor within NATO is a major partner of the US led coalition. It has an extended bilateral military cooperation agreement with Israel. Turkey has borders with both Iran and Syria. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, “Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, Global Research, August 6, 2006)

Pre-emptive Nuclear War

A diabolical and related consensus is emerging at the political level,  pointing to the pre-emptive first strike use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater, more concretely against Iran:

“In January 2005, at the outset of the military build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”

To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled  Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created.

JFCCSGS has the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear warheads not only against “rogue states” but also against China and Russia.”Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 2006)

More recently, a December 2007 NATO sponsored report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership“. calls for a first strike preemptive use of nuclear weapons. The NATO doctrine in this report is a virtual copy and paste version of America’s post 9/11 nuclear weapons doctrine as initially formulated in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review

(for details, see The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky)

The preemptive use of nukes as formulated by NATO would be used to undermine an “increasingly brutal World” (e.g. Iran) as well as a means to prevent rogue enemies to use weapons of mass destruction.

Under this NATO framework, which is what is explicitly envisaged in relation to Iran, US and allied forces including Israel would “resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, ” (quoted in Paul Dibb, Sidney Morning Herald, 11 February 2008).

“They [the authors of the report] consider that nuclear war might soon become possible in an increasingly brutal world. They propose the first use of nuclear weapons must remain “in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction”. (Paul Dibb, op cit)

In terms of the ongoing threats directed against Iran, a pre-emptive nuclear attack using tactical nuclear weapons, which are according to the Pentagon is “harmless to the surrounding civilian population” could be carried out in relation to Iran, even if if Iran does not possess nuclear weapons capabilities, as confirmed by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or “low yield” “mini-nukes”, with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered “safe for civilians” because the explosion is underground.

Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes are being presented as an instrument of peace rather than war. The low-yield nukes have now been cleared for “battlefield use”, they are slated to be used in the next stage of the Middle East war (Iran) alongside conventional weapons:

Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states.[Iran, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent. ( Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds Defense News November 29, 2004)

In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”.

The NATO sponsored report –which broadly reflects a growing consensus– insists that the option of a nuclear first strike is indispensable, “since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world.” (Report, p. 97):

“Nuclear weapons are the ultimate instrument of an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation”

The US-NATO doctrine to use nukes on a pre-emptive basis against Iran, with a view to “saving the Western World’s way of life”, is not challenged in any meaningful way by the antiwar movement.

The mainstream media has a strong grip on the public’s perception and understanding of the Middle East war. The dangers of nuclear war in the Post cold War era are barely mentioned and when they are, the use of nuclear weapons are justified as a preemptive military option to ensure the security of  Western World.

The truth is twisted and turned upside down.

Media disinformation instills within the consciousness of Americans and Europeans that somehow the war on Iran is a necessity, that Iran is a threat to the Homeland and that the Islamic Republic is supporting Islamic terrorists, who are planning a Second 9/11. And that a pre-emptive nuclear attack is the answer.

In contrast, the powerful economic interests behind the war economy, the Anglo-American oil giants military, the defense contractors, Wall Street are rarely the object of media coverage. The real economic and strategic objectives behind this war are carefully obfuscated.

9/11 is a justification for waging war is crucial, despite the fact that there is mounting evidence of cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

Despite the evidence, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Iran have been portrayed as the “State sponsors of terrorism” and a threat to the Homeland, thereby justifying the various stages of the Middle East military roadmap.  The Project for a New American Century, had already described in a 2000 document the nature of this road map or “long war”. What is envisaged is a global war without borders:

fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars (PNAC, September 2000)

At present US and coalition forces including NATO and Israel are in an advanced state of readiness to launch an attack on Iran. Leaders of the US led coalition including France, Germany and Italy, should understand that such an action could result in a World War III scenario.

Escalation scenarios have already been envisaged and analyzed by the Pentagon.

US sponsored war games have foreseen the possible intervention of Russia and China in the Middle East. World War III has been on the lips of NeoCon architects of US foreign policy from the outset of the Bush regime.

In response to Operation Brimstone and the Naval deployment, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that “Tehran will give a ‘maximum response’ to the slightest threat against the country’s national security.”

War propaganda, through media disinformation consists in galvanizing US citizens not only in favor of “the war on terrorism”, but in support of a social order which repeals the Rule of Law, derogates fundamental civil liberties, upholds the use of torture and establishes a modern police state apparatus as a means to “preserving Western democracy”.

There is a tacit public acceptance of a diabolical and criminal military agenda, which in a very sense threatens “the community of nations” and life on this planet.


In the course of the last four years, Global Research has documented in detail the various war plans directed against Iran.  Operation TIRANNT (Theater Iran Near Term) was initially formulated in July 2003, in the wake of the US led Iraq invasion.

We have done our utmost to reverse the tide of media disinformation, to inform our readers and the broader public on the impending dangers underlying the US military adventure.

This is the most serious crisis in modern history which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.

We refer our readers to an extensive archive of articles and documents. See our War on Iran Dossier

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9817

see

Iran War: Armada of US and allied naval battle groups head for the Persian Gulf

Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran

War in the Caucasus: Towards a Broader Russia-US Military Confrontation?

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran

Planned US Israeli Attack on Iran: Will there be a War against Iran?

The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky

US War Plans & the “Strait of Hormuz Incident”: Just Who Threatens Whom? by Michel Chossudovsky

Bush Administration War Plans directed against Iran by Michel Chossudovsky

Iran

Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney was shot and killed (updated)

Dandelion Salad

Updated below

By ArkansasOnline

Aug 13, 2008

Gwatney shot at state democratic headquarters

LITTLE ROCK — Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney was shot at the State Democratic Party Headquarters in Little Rock, Wednesday. His condition is unknown.

An aide from the governors office confirmed the shooting about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday.

…continued

h/t: CLG

Updated

Gunman Kills Democratic Official in Arkansas

By SHAILA DEWAN
NYT
August 13, 2008

Bill Gwatney, the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, was shot in his office in Little Rock Wednesday morning and died a few hours later, police officials said.

[…]

The suspect, driving a Dodge pickup truck, was chased south for about 25 miles by police officers and was shot after he was stopped, said Lt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock Police Department. The suspect was airlifted to a hospital and later died of his wounds.

…continued

h/t: CLG

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Ralph Nader: Outsource the CEOs

Dandelion Salad

Ralph’s Daily Audio

Ralph Nader for President in 2008

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Health Care Politics by Ralph Nader

Nader Calls For Crackdown on Corporate Crime, Reversal of So-Called War on Drugs + Sean Penn

Nader for President 2008

www.votenader.org/

The Termi-Nader

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos

Using Georgia to Target Russia by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, August 13, 2008

After the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution, Georgia’s South Ossetia province broke away and declared its independence. So far it remains undiplomatically recognized by UN member states. It’s been traditionally allied with Russia and wishes to reunite with Northern Ossetes in the North Ossetia-Alania Russian republic. Nothing so far is in prospect, but Russia appears receptive to the idea. And for Abkhazia as well, Georgia’s other breakaway province. The conflict also has implications for Transdniestria, the small independent Russian-majority part of Moldova bordering Ukraine, and for Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

Tensions arose and conflict broke out in late 1991. It resulted in a 1992 ceasefire to avoid a major confrontation with Russia, but things remained unsettled. Moscow maintains a military presence in the province as well as in Abkhazia and exerts considerable political and economic influence. Throughout the 1990s, intermittent conflict erupted but nothing on the order of early August 7 when Georgia acted with aggression against the S. Ossetian capital, Tskninvali.

Russiatoday.com reported the early timeline:

— at 22:50 GMT, Tskhinvali reported heavy shelling;

— 22:00 GMT – TASS news agency reported intensive Georgian firing on the capital’s residential areas;

— 21:27 GMT – Russia’s Vesti television reported that S. Ossetia’s military downed a Georgian attack plane;

— 21:25 GMT – Georgia announced plans to withdraw half its Iraq forces because of the conflict;

— 21:22 GMT – S. Ossetia claimed to be in control of Tskhinvali, but Georgian forces attempted to retake the city;

— 20:36 GMT – The UN Security Council began closed-door discussions on the conflict – initiated by Georgia and the second in 24 hours;

— 20:25 GMT – Georgia asked the US to pressure Russia to “stop (its) armed aggression;”

— 19:08 GMT – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said “Russia is taking adequate military and political measures” to end the violence;

— 18:56 GMT – S. Ossetia’s government said it controls Tskhinvali, but fighting in one city district continued;

— 17:35 GMT – Georgian President Saakashvili claimed that Georgia controlled Tskhinvali and most S. Ossetian villages and regions;

— 17:20 GMT – S. Ossetian leader Kokoity asked the world community to stop Georgia’s “genocide” and recognize the territory’s independence; he claimed 1400 deaths in the fighting;

— 16:46 GMT – thousands of S. Osettians fled the fighting;

— 16:14 GMT – Russia’s Air Force denied bombing a Georgian military base;

— 14:23 GMT – reports from Tskhinvali indicated mass fires in the city;

— 13:25 GMT – Russia’s Defence Ministry accused Georgian troops of shooting peacekeepers and civilians and denying them medical help;

— 13:16 GMT – Saakashvili accused Russia of waging war and asked for US support;

— 12:55 GMT – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accused Georgia of ethnic cleansing Ossetian villages;

— 12:04 GMT – Russia’s Defence Ministry said it sent peacekeeping reinforcements to S. Ossetia;

— 11:25 GMT – reports indicated that Tskhinvali was completely destroyed;

— 10:33 GMT – Georgia announced a three-hour ceasefire to let civilians evacuate the conflict zone;

— 9:36 GMT – Russia’s Parliament cited Georgia’s aggression as a “serious reason” to recognize S. Ossetian independence;

— 8:18 GMT – firefights spread to Tskhinvali streets;

— 6:51 GMT – the UN Security Council failed to approve a Russia-sponsored ceasefire call; fighting intensified;

— 5:01 GMT – S. Ossetia sought Russian protection and help to stop the fighting; and

— 4:13 GMT – Georgian troops resumed attacking Tskhinvali in a continued act of aggression; things remained unsettled; fighting continued and at times with ferocity.

On August 8, The New York Times reported that Georgia officials “accused Russia (on August 5) of violating the country’s airspace and firing a guided missile….” Russia denied the charge, called it baseless, and said no Russian planes were in the area either August 4 or 5th. Georgia, on the other hand, said they were as a “provocation aimed only” to disrupt Georgia’s peace and “change the political course of the country.”

Earlier in March, Georgia accused Russia of launching missile attacks on Georgian villages in the volatile Kodori Gorge. Relations deteriorated markedly last year after Georgia arrested and deported four Russian Army officers, accusing them of spying. Moscow recalled its ambassador, cut air, sea and postal links, and deported several thousand Georgians in response. These events and others led up to the present conflict with considerable suspicions about what’s behind them. The New York Times reported (August 10) that conflict had been brewing for years but suggested Russia is at fault:

— emboldened by its Checknya successes;

— the Kremlin’s loathing of President Saakashvili – personally and politically;

— tensions over Washington’s ties with him – providing political, economic and especially military support, including a total overhaul of its forces complete with large stockpiles state-of-the-art weapons and munitions as well as training to use them;

— Saakashvili’s alliance with the Bush administration in Iraq; and

— President Putin granting citizenship and passports to most S. Ossetian and Abkhazian adults.

Unmentioned by The Times are:

— reasons behind the growing tensions between Washington and Moscow;

— the Bush administration’s unilateral abandonment of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM);

— its continued provocations around the world, including in areas sensitive to Russia;

— its massive military buildup;

— its advocacy for preventive, preemptive and “proactive” wars with first-strike nuclear weapons;

— NATO’s role in serving America’s imperial interests;

— enlarging it with new member states, including former Soviet republics;

— encircling Russia with US military bases;

— situating them in former Soviet republics and regional states;

— the strategic importance of Georgia for the Anglo-American Caspian oil pipeline; its extension from Baku, Azerbaijan (on the Caspian) through Georgia (well south of S. Ossetia), bypassing Russia and Iran, and across Turkey to its port city of Ceyhan – the so-called BTC pipeline for around one million barrels of oil daily, adjacent to the South Causasus (gas) Pipeline with a capacity of about 16 billion cubic meters annually;

— the regional stakes involved: Washington and Russia vying to control Eurasia’s vast oil and gas reserves;

— Israel’s role in the region; its interest in the BTC pipline; its negotiations with Georgia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan to have it reach its Ashkelon oil terminal and Red Sea Eilat port; its selling Georgia state-of-the-art weapons, electronic warfare systems and intelligence; its use of military advisors to train Georgian forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery tactics as well as instruction on military intelligence and security;

— its refusal to freeze its Georgian military alliance; the dubious reliability of Haaretz citing an AP August 7 report that “Israel has decided to halt all sales of military equipment to Georgia because of (Russia’s) objections….to give Israel leverage with Moscow….not to ship arms and equipment to Iran” such as sophisticated S-300 air defense missiles; the Israeli Foreign Ministry refusing comment on an arms freeze and Georgian Cabinet minister Temur Yakobashvili saying “There has been no decision by Israel to stop selling (us) weapons;”

— believe it, and here’s what Haaretz says Israel supplies: high-tech infantry weapons, artillery systems electronics, and upgrades for Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets as well as Israeli generals advising Georgia’s military; Israel also sells Hermes 450 UAV spy drones according to Russiatoday.com; according to some sources, it’s a virtual gold mine for Israeli defense contractors, but Haaretz reports it’s much less at around $200 million a year – well below American and French sales;

— on August 10, the Israeli ynetnews.com highlighted “The Israeli Connection” and reported “Israeli companies have been helping (the) Georgian army (prepare) for war against Russia through arms deals, training of infantry and security advice;” it was helped by Georgian citizens “who immigrated to Israel and became businesspeople,” and the fact that Georgia’s Defense Minister, Davit Kezerashvili, “is a former Israeli fluent in Hebrew (whose) door was always open to the Israelis who came and offered his country arms;” deals went through “fast” and included “remote-piloted (Elbit System) vehicles (RPVs), automatic turrets for armed vehicles, antiaircraft systems, communications systems, shells and rockets;”

— Russia’s anger over Georgia and Ukraine seeking NATO membership and Washington’s pressuring other members to admit them;

– the planned installation of “missile defense” radar in the region – in Poland, Czechoslovakia and potentially other sensitive areas, all targeting Russia, China, and Iran;

— its provoking Russia to retarget nuclear missiles at planned “radar” locations; and

— targeting Russia for dissolution (as the US’s main world rival), diffuse its power, control Eurasia, including the country’s immense resources on the world’s by far largest land mass.

The New Great Game

What’s at stake is what former National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski described in his 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard.” He called Eurasia the “center of world power extending from Germany and Poland in the East through Russia and China to the Pacific and including the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.” He continued: “The most immediate (US) task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.” Dominating that part of the world and its vast energy and other resources is Washington’s goal with NATO and Israel its principal tools to do it:

— in the Middle East with its two-thirds of the world’s proved oil reserves (about 675 billion barrels); and

— the Caspian basin with an estimated 270 billion barrels of oil plus one-eighth of the world’s natural gas reserves.

“New World Order” strategy aims to secure them. Russia, China, and Iran have other plans. India allies with both sides. Former Warsaw Pact and Soviet republics split this way:

— NATO members include the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania;

— Georgia and Ukraine seek membership; while

— Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazahkstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgystan ally with Russia.

Georgia now occupies center stage, so first some background about a nation Michel Chossudovsky calls “an outpost of US and NATO forces” located strategically on Russia’s border “within proximity of the Middle East Central Asian war theater.” Breakaway S. Ossetia and Abkhazia, though small in size, are very much players in what’s unfolding with potential to have it develop into something much bigger than a short-lived regional conflict.

In 2003 with considerable CIA help, Georgia’s President Saskashvili came to power in the so-called bloodless “Rose Revolution.” Georgia held parliamentary elections on November 2. International observers called them unfair. Sackashvili claimed he won. He and the united opposition called for protests and civil disobedience. They began in mid-November in the capital Tbilisi, then spread throughout the country. They peaked on November 22, the scheduled opening day for parliament. Instead, Saakashvili-led supporters placed “roses” in the barrels of soldiers’ rifles, seized the parliament building, interrupted President Eduard Shevardnadze’s speech, and forced him to escape for his safety.

Saakashvili declared a state of emergency, mobilized troops and police, met with Shevardnadze and Zurab Zhvania (the former parliament speaker and choice for new prime minister), and apparently convinced the Georgian president to resign. Celebrations erupted. A temporary president was installed. Georgia’s Supreme Court annulled the elections, and on January 4, 2004, Saakashvili was elected and inaugurated president on January 25. New parliamentary elections were held on March 28. Saakashvili’s supporters used heavy-handed tactics to gain full control, but behind the scenes Washington is fully in charge. It pulls the strings on its new man in Georgia and stepped up tensions with Russia for control of the strategically important southern Causasus region.

On January 5, 2008, Saakashvili won reelection for a second term in a process his opponents called rigged. Given how he first gained power and the CIA’s role in it, those accusations have considerable merit.

After the outbreak of the current crisis, Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, accused the Alliance of “encourag(ing) Georgia to attack S. Ossetia and called it “an undisguised aggression accompanied by a mass propaganda war.” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, called attention to Georgia’s “massive arms purchasing….during several years” and its use of “foreign specialists” to train “Georgian special troops.”

In his August 10 article titled – “War in the Causasus: Towards a Broader Russia-US Military Confrontation?” – Chossudovsky notes how “attacks were timed to coincide with the Olympics largely with a view to avoiding frontpage media coverage” and to let saturation Beijing reports serve as distraction.

Now after days of fighting, headlines cite 2000 or more deaths (largely civilians), huge amounts of destruction, Tskhinvali in ruins, and many thousands of refugees seeking safe havens. Accounts of Georgian atrocities have also surfaced, and according to Chossudovsky they’re part of a planned “humanitarian disaster (against civilian targets) rather than (an impossible to achieve) military victory” against a nation as powerful as Russia. Had Georgia sought control, a far different operation would have unfolded “with Special Forces occupying key public buildings, communications networks and provincial institutions.”

So why did this happen, and what can Washington hope to gain when it’s bogged down in two wars, threatening another against Iran, and thoroughly in disrepute as a result? It’s part of a broader “Great Game” strategy pitting the world’s two great powers against each other for control of this vital part of the world.

Bush administration plans may come down to this – portray Russia as another Serbia, isolate the country, and equate Putin and/or Medvedev with Milosevic and hope for all the political advantage it can gain. “The war on Southern Ossetia,” according to Chossudovsky, “was not meant to be won, leading to the restoration of Georgian sovereignty over (the province). It was intended to destabilize the region while triggering a US-NATO confrontation with Russia.”

Georgia is its proxy. Its attack on S. Ossetia is a made-in-Washington operation. But not according to George Bush (on August 10) who “strongly condemned (Russia’s) disproportionate response,” and Dick Cheney (on the same day) saying its military “aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community.” An EU statement agreed. It expressed its “commitment to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia” and pretty much accused Russia of aggression.

Russia’s response and capabilities are unsurprising. It counterattacked in force, battered Georgian troops, inflicted damage at will, reportedly overran the Gori military base in Senaki, moved south into Georgia proper, and largely attacked military targets with great effect. It also wants an emergency meeting with NATO and issued an ultimatum for Georgian troops to disarm in the Zugdidi District along the Abkhazia – Georgia border. For its part, Georgian officials said Russia’s “wide-scale assault (is) aimed at overthrowing the government.”

On August 10, the London Guardian reported that the Caucasus conflict “spread to Georgia’s second breakaway province of Abkhazia, where separatist rebels and the Russian air force launched an all-out attack on Georgian forces.” Abkhazia’s leader, Sergei Bagapsh, said “around 1000 Abkhaz troops” engaged in a major “military operation” to force Georgian forces out of the strategic Kodori gorge. Russian army spokesman, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, told Interfax: “We do not intend to take the initiative in escalating the conflict in this region. We are primarily interested in” stabilizing Abkhazia.

On August 12, AP reported that “Russian President Dmitri Medvedev ordered a halt to military action in Georgia (today), saying it had punished (the country) and brought security for civilians and Russian peacekeepers.” Nonetheless, reports are that fighting continues, and Medvedev ordered his military to quell “any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions….” Foreign Minister Lavrov added that Moscow won’t talk to Saakashvili and said he’d “better go.”

The latest AP August 13 report is that Georgian officials claim Russian tanks “seized a (Georgian) military base (and) also held onto ground in western Georgia, maintaining control of the town of Zugdidi.” For its part, “Russia accused Georgia of killing more than 2000 people, mostly civilians, in South Ossetia.” Witnesses confirmed that hundreds had died there, and expectations are that the death toll will rise “because large areas of Georgia (are) too dangerous for journalists to enter (to assess) the true scope of the damage.”

On the Attack – The Corporate Media React

Despite the Olympic distraction, the dominant media jumped on this story and are unsurprisingly one-sided in their reports. On August 11, a New York Times editorial headlined “Russia’s War of Ambition” in which it lamented that Saakashvili “foolishly and tragically baited the Russians – or even more foolishly fell into Moscow’s trap….” It accused the Kremlin of “bull(ying) and blackmail(ing) its neighbors and its own people.” It stated “There is no imaginable excuse for (invading) Georgia” and defended “Saakashvili’s ‘democratically elected’ government.”

It accused Vladimir Putin of “shoulder(ing) aside (Medvedev) to run the war (and) appears determined to reimpose by force and intimidation as much of the old Soviet sphere of influence as he can get away with.” The US and its European allies “must tell Mr. Putin in the clearest possible terms that such aggression will not be tolerated.” They’ll also “need to take a hard look at their relationship with Russia going forward….Russia needs to behave responsibly. And the United States and Europe must make clear that anything less is unacceptable.”

The Los Angeles Times’ op-ed writer Max Boot (noted for his hard-right views) was just as one-sided in referring to the “Red Army” and saying the West must “Stand up to Russia.” It must protect Saakhashvili and prevent Moscow from “replac(ing) him with a pro-Kremlin stooge.” Its leaders must “stand together and make clear that this aggression will not stand.” He called Russia’s “excuses” for its “aggression…. particularly creepy” and said they mirrored Hitler’s when he “swallow(ed) Czechoslovakia and Poland.” He added that “the lesson” of the 1930s must be heeded because the “cost of inaction” is too high.

David Clark in the London Guardian was also hostile in his op-ed headlined “The west can no longer stand idle while the Russian bully wreaks havoc.” He described “Russian policy (as) uniquely destructive in generating instability and political division in the Caucasus” and excused Saakhashvili for his actions. He referred to “Georgia’s role in maintaining the only east-west pipeline route free of Russia’s monopolistic grip….” He called Georgia’s security concerns “real, and Russia is the cause.” David Clark is a former government adviser and now chairman of the pro-West Russia Foundation.

The Wall Street covers this story daily in news reports and commentaries. On August 11, it gave Saakashvili a half page for his op-ed headlined “The War in Georgia Is a War for the West,” and he didn’t mince words. He accused Russia of “waging (all-out) war on my country (that’s) not of Georgia’s making (nor its) choice. The Kremlin designed this war….(it’s) a war about (Georgia’s) independence and future (and) about the future of freedom in Europe.”

On August 12, writers Gary Schmitt and Mauro De Lorenzo headlined “How the West Can Stand up to Russia,” and they were just as hostile. They accused Moscow of “cutthroat politics….at home and abroad” and asked “What can the West do?” First they urge “rush(ing) military and medical supplies to Tbilisi (and) Washington should lead.” It should then tell Moscow that the West has a “greater capacity to sustain a new Cold War (and aim) to put Mr. Putin and Dmitry Medvedev on their back foot diplomatically.”

Then on to the larger issue of “break(ing) Russia’s “stranglehold on Europe’s energy supplies” and one other thing – building a “strong, prosperous and fully independent Georgia (heading for) NATO and EU membership” allied against Russia.

The Journal’s same day editorial headlined “Vladimir Bonaparte” after one day earlier accusing Moscow of “Kremlin (business) Capers” and admonishing investors against “putting money into Russia.” On the 12th, it warned that “Georgia is only the first stop for Eurasia’s new imperialist.” It referred to Putin “consolidat(ing) his authoritarian transition as Prime Minister with a figurehead president….Ukraine is in his sights, and even the Balkan states could be threatened if he’s allowed to get away with it. The West needs to draw a line at Georgia.”

It called on NATO to “respond forcefully….start today (and said) this is perhaps the last chance for President Bush to salvage any kind of positive legacy toward Russia (by) rally(ing) the West’s response.” Putin seeks to “dominat(e)….the world stage. Unless Russians see that there are costs for their Napoleon’s expansionism, Georgia isn’t likely to be his last stop.”

Welcome to the new Cold War and new Great Game, what a new administration will inherit next year, and the very worrisome thought that it will handle things no better than the current one no matter who’s elected or which party controls Congress.

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

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

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9761

see

Ossetian refugees mourn their dead + Kosovo + misery continues

Background on Georgia by Bruce Gagnon

Civilians bear the brunt in Gori + Riz Khan: The South Ossetian conflict

The Reality Behind Western Propaganda Regarding War In Georgia

Georgia

Declaration of the Georgian Peace Committee, August 12th, 2008 h/t: InI

Meeting on GEORGIA, NATO & THE SPREAD OF WAR h/t: InI

War in Georgia: The Israeli Connection By Arie Egozi h/t: InI

Ossetian refugees mourn their dead + Kosovo + misery continues

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

RussiaToday

As the noise from shooting and shelling die down in the conflict zone, the sound is replaced by crying from desperate victims. Following Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, it’s now hard to find a citizen who hasn’t lost a relative in the conflict.

Ossetian refugees mourn their dead“, posted with vodpod

Kosovo raises Georgian breakaway republics’ hopes

Tension between Georgia and its breakaway republics rose dramatically in the early 1990s, when Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence, though it has never been recognised. But earlier this year the two republics’ bid for independence got a second wind – with Kosovo’s break from Serbia being the main catalyst.

No more fighting, but victims’ misery continues

The fighting may have come to an end in South Ossetia, but the suffering and grief of the victims of the conflict is far from over. Almost every family lost a relative in the Georgian attacks on the unrecognised republic.

Russian is not aggressor – US politician

While US presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, condemn Russia’s actions during Georgia’s offensive on South Ossetia, there are others on the campaign trail who take a different stance on the conflict.

Stability rests on deciding Abkhazia, South Ossetia status

The discussion about the security problem in the Caucasus is impossible without considering the status of the self-proclaimed republics, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

see

Background on Georgia by Bruce Gagnon

Civilians bear the brunt in Gori + Riz Khan: The South Ossetian conflict

The Reality Behind Western Propaganda Regarding War In Georgia

Georgia



Iran War: Armada of US and allied naval battle groups head for the Persian Gulf

Dandelion Salad

Global Research
Press TV
August 12, 2008

Kuwait on alert for war in Persian Gulf?
Tue, 12 Aug 2008 07:58:03 GMT

Kuwait has activated its Emergency War Plan after an armada of US naval battle groups headed for the Persian Gulf, Middle East Times reports.

The report comes after DEBKAfiles claimed on Monday that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, and the USS Iwo Jima are sailing toward the Persian Gulf to reinforce the US strike forces in the region.

The US naval force is accompanied by a British Royal Navy carrier battle group and a French nuclear hunter-killer submarine.

The deployment is believed to be the largest naval task force assembled by the United States and its allies in the region since the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

The move comes nearly a week after Operation Brimstone, which saw more than a dozen warships from US, British and French naval forces conduct war games in the Atlantic Ocean in preparation for a possible confrontation with Iran.

Kuwait, located on the coast of Persian Gulf, has placed its military on ‘war alert’ to avoid being caught off-guard by any possible conflict in the region.

“Kuwait was caught by surprise last time, when Iraqi troops invaded the small emirate and routed the Kuwaiti army in just a few hours,” a former US diplomat to Kuwait told the Middle East Times.

Washington and allies accuse Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of pursuing a military nuclear program and have threatened to launch military strikes on Iran should the country continue its uranium enrichment.

The UN nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency, has confirmed that Iran’s uranium enrichment does not exceed 3 percent and is therefore within the limits of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The military build-up in the Persian Gulf comes amid speculation that Israel is lobbying to push the Bush administration to launch a joint attack on Iran before President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.

© Copyright, Press TV, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20080812&articleId=9815

see

Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran

2006 Israel Attack on Lebanon – How Humanity Survives

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

DeepDishTV

This clip is an excerpt from the film — “33 Days,” by Mai Masri. She is a Palestinian filmmaker with a Bachelor’s degree in film from San Francisco State University. This edited clip follows a theatre director who devotes his strength and time to the Lebanese children affected by the massive Israeli bombing that took place on Lebanon’s city’s and suburbs. Many Lebanese citizens were killed or greatly injured, while survivors were exiled out of their dwellings. visit deepdishtv.org

h/t: Deep Dish TV

Background on Georgia by Bruce Gagnon

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post
space4peace.blogspot.com

Aug. 12, 2008

I spent a good deal of yesterday continuing to read various articles and reports out of Georgia. Some old sage once said we learn world geography by tracking American wars – or in this case American proxy wars. I am as certain as I can be that this is a proxy war. The U.S. and Israel have been arming Georgia heavily in recent years. The U.S. and Israel have been sending military advisers to Georgia. There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. has been, at the very least, “encouraging” Georgia to make a grab for the independent territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia knowing that by doing so they would very well provoke Russia to respond. I am convinced the U.S. wants to confront Russia militarily and if they can get someone else to do it then why not. It’s the cold war strategy come back to life. Continue reading