Cables Belie Gulf States’ Backing for Strikes on Iran by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe

by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON, Dec 6, 2010

The dominant theme that emerged in U.S. media coverage of the first round of Wikileaks diplomatic cables last week was that Arab regimes in the Gulf – led by Saudi Arabia – shared Israel’s view that Iran’s nuclear programme had to be stopped by military force, if necessary.

The New York Times generated that narrative with a front- page story featuring an alleged quote by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to “cut off the head of the snake”, as well as other statements by Gulf Arab leaders suggesting support for military action.


Continue reading

Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for Israel Lobby By Jim Lobe

Dandelion Salad

By Jim Lobe

In a significant and highly unusual defeat for the so-called ‘Israel Lobby’, the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives has decided to shelve a long-pending, albeit non-binding, resolution that called for President George W. Bush to launch what critics called a blockade against Iran.

House Congressional Resolution (HR) 362, whose passage the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had made its top legislative priority this year, had been poised to pass virtually by acclamation last summer.

But an unexpectedly strong lobbying effort by a number of grassroots Iranian-American, Jewish-American, peace, and church groups effectively derailed the initiative, although AIPAC and its supporters said they would try to revive it next year or if Congress returns to Washington for a ‘lame-duck’ session after the November elections.

Congress, which may still adopt a package of new unilateral economic sanctions against Iran — some of which the administration has already imposed — over the weekend, is expected to adjourn over the next several days.

”We’ll resubmit it when Congress comes back, and we’ll have even more signatures,” the resolution’s main author, New York Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman, told the Washington Times, adding that the resolution currently has 270 co-sponsors, or some two-thirds of the House’s entire membership.

Still, the decision by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman, to shelve HR 362 marked an unusual defeat for AIPAC, according to its critics who charged that the resolution was designed to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration or any successor administration to take military action against Iran.

‘This was a joint effort by several groups to really put the focus on the dangers presented by such a resolution over the opposition of one of the most powerful lobbies in the country,’ said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

Among other provisions, the resolution declared that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capacity was ‘vital to the national security interests of the United States’ — language that is normally used to justify military action — and ‘demand(ed) that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities…’

Among the means it called for were ‘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 programme.’

Although the resolution’s sponsors explicitly denied it — indeed, one clause stated that ‘nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorisation of the use of force against Iran’ — the resolution’s critics charged that the latter passage could be used to justify a blockade against Iran, an act of war under international law.

‘Ambiguity in the text of the resolution — whether intended by its drafters or not — has led some to see it as a de-facto approval for a land, air and sea blockade of Iran, any of which could be considered an act of war,’ according to Deborah DeLee, president of Americans for Peace Now (APN), a Zionist group that has long urged the administration to engage in direct talks with Tehran and that lobbied against the resolution.

Two key Democratic congressmen, who had initially co-sponsored the resolution, Reps. Robert Wexler and Barney Frank, unexpectedly defected in July, insisting that its language be changed to exclude any possibility that it could be used to justify war against Iran and to include new provisions urging Washington to directly engage Tehran.

The resolution was introduced last May, shortly after AIPAC’s annual meeting during which then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly told the House Democratic leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Berman, and Ackerman that economic sanctions against Iran had run their course and that stronger action, including a possible naval quarantine, was needed to increase pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear programme.

The meeting also followed talks between Olmert and Bush who, despite an strongly hawkish speech before Israel’s Knesset, privately told his hosts that Washington would almost certainly not attack on Iranian nuclear facilities nor give a green light Israel to launch an attack of its own before he leaves office in January 2009, according to a recent account by London’s Guardian newspaper. The administration itself never took a position on the resolution.

At the time, the price of oil was skyrocketing, and the military brass in the Pentagon, increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was expressing its opposition to military action against Iran in unusually blunt terms.

Nonetheless, AIPAC pushed hard for adoption of the resolution, even as it, like its Congressional sponsors, insisted that it was not designed to justify military action.

Just last week, in a final push for the resolution’s passage, AIPAC drafted a letter that was circulated to House members who had not yet co-sponsored the resolution. While it denounced as ‘utter nonsense’ suggestions that the resolution could be used to justify military action, the text also stressed that Tehran’s ‘pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony’ posed ‘real and growing’ threats to ‘the vital national security interests of the United States’.

AIPAC’s failure was particularly notable given the presence at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose repeated and predictably provocative predictions about the demise of Israel and ‘the American empire’ have been used routinely by AIPAC to rally public and elite opinion against Tehran and underline the threat it allegedly poses.

In announcing that the resolution has been shelved, Berman said he shared critics’ concerns about the resolution’s working and will not bring it before his committee until his concerns were addressed. ‘If Congress is to make a statement of policy, it should encompass a strategy on how to gain consensus on multilateral sanctions to change Iran’s behaviour,” his spokesperson told the Times.

*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy, and particularly the neo-conservative influence in the Bush administration, can be read at

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.


War with Iran – On, Off or Undecided? by Stephen Lendman

A Vote For Military Force Against Iran? AIPAC’s House Resolution, H. Con. Res. 362

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran

Should We Fear Iran? The Peter Principle Playoffs By Sheila Samples

Full Text of Ahmadinejad’s Speech to the UN General Assembly

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Larry King Live

Israel asked US for green light to bomb nuclear sites in Iran

Democracy Now!: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Myth of Iran wiping Israel off the map dispelled (interview with Ahmadinejad)

Ahmadinejad DID NOT threaten to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Turkish TV – Interview



old blogs:

Does Iran’s President Want Israel Wiped Off The Map – Does He Deny The Holocaust?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s letter to the American people

Ahmadinejad: I’m not anti-Semitic by Yitzhak Benhorin

Hard right neocons and AIPAC

Dandelion Salad


June 14, 2008

Pepe Escobar talks with Jim Lobe about this history of the Israel Lobby in the United States. From Christian Zionists to Neo-conservatives. Part 1 of 2

Continue reading

Cheney raises anti-Iran rhetoric By Jim Lobe

Dandelion Salad

By Jim Lobe
Asia Times
Inter Press Service
Oct. 22, 2007

In the harshest speech against Iran given by a top George W Bush administration official to date, Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday warned the Islamic Republic of “serious consequences” if it did not freeze its nuclear program and accused it of “direct involvement in the killings of Americans”.

“Given the nature of Iran’s rulers, the declarations of the Iranian president, and the trouble the regime is causing throughout the region – including the direct involvement in the killing of Americans – our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions,” Cheney warned in a major policy address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences,” he added. “The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

In his nearly 30-minute speech, an uncompromising defense of the Bush administration’s record in the Middle East, Cheney also claimed that, with Washington’s “surge” strategy working well against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the “greatest strategic threat that Iraq’s Shi’ites face today in consolidating their rightful role in Iraq’s new democracy is the subversive activities of the Iranian regime”.

And he accused “Syria and its agents” of using “bribery and intimidation … to prevent the democratic majority in Lebanon from electing a truly independent president”.

“Lebanon has the right to conduct the upcoming elections free of any foreign interference,” he declared, adding, “The United States will work with Free Lebanon’s other friends and allies to preserve Lebanon’s hard-won independence, and to defeat the forces of extremism and terror that threaten not only that region, but US countries [sic] across the wider region.”

Cheney’s speech comes at a moment of rising tensions between the US and Iran. Just last week, Cheney’s boss, George W Bush, warned during a brief press appearance that Tehran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon – or even the expertise needed to make one – could lead to a new world war.

“I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters, although the White House later insisted that the president was merely making a “rhetorical point” and still believed that the nuclear issue could be resolved diplomatically.

Two days later, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, had resigned and would be replaced by a less prominent diplomat Saeed Jalili. Although the government later announced that both Larijani and Jalili will attend talks Tuesday in Rome with European Union (EU) foreign-affairs chief, Javier Solana, the move was widely interpreted in Washington as a major victory for the hardline anti-Western faction behind President Mahmud Ahmadinejad against more pragmatic elements in the regime.

While Jalili lacks experience, noted Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii, “What Jalili does have is a very close relationship with Ahmadinejad. As such, the move, if it is confirmed, reflects yet another enhancement of Ahmadinejad’s fortunes in Iranian politics.”

Like Ahmadinejad, Cheney has long been seen as the leader of hardline forces within the administration, and the mere fact that his speech – which must have been cleared at the highest levels – was as belligerent as it was, especially in accusing Iran of “direct involvement in the killings of Americans”, suggests that the hawks are trying to take the offensive.

Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor Pentagon chief Robert Gates has made such an unequivocal accusation; indeed, Gates has tried to downplay such charges when they have been voiced by military commanders in Iraq.

The forum chosen by Cheney to deliver his speech was in many ways as significant as its timing and context. WINEP, a generally hawkish think-tank, was founded some 20 years ago by the research director of the highly influential lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and is funded by many of the same donors.

AIPAC, in turn, has led a high-powered effort to persuade Congress to impose tough new sanctions against Iran and foreign companies that do business with it, and, more recently, to have Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard declared a “terrorist” organization.

As Cheney himself noted Sunday, his own national security adviser, John Hannah, once served as WINEP’s deputy director. While WINEP does not take specific positions on pending legislation or policies, it is generally regarded as at least sympathetic to AIPAC’s efforts and often provides the research AIPAC uses in its lobbying activities.

Cheney’s speech was remarkable on several counts, beginning with the fact that it came less than a week after Gates gave a much more restrained presentation on US Middle East policy and the threat posed by Iran to a yet more-hawkish pro-Israel group, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

While Gates called Tehran’s government “an ambitious and fanatical theocracy”, he also stressed the importance of diplomatic pressure and, in marked contrast to Cheney, dwelt much more heavily on the threats posed by al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi movements.

Indeed, the rhetorical differences – including Gates’ effort to distinguish between Sunni jihadism and Iran and Cheney’s attempts to blur the two – could not be more pronounced.

Cheney’s speech was also notable for its aggressive and unapologetic defense of the Bush administration’s conduct of its “war on terrorism”; its insistence that the “surge” has turned the tide of the war in Iraq; and its repetition of neo-conservative notions about the importance of reacting with “swift and dire” punishment against challenges to US power in the region and the possibility that Tehran is deeply threatened by the emergence of “a strong, independent, Arab Shi’ite community” in Iraq.

He charged that Iran is a “growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East”, and he recited a long litany of grievances against it. “This same regime that approved of hostage-taking in 1979, that attacked Saudi and Kuwaiti shipping in the 1980s, that incited suicide bombings and jihadism in the 1990s and beyond, is now the world’s most active state sponsor of terror,” he declared, quoting the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus for the proposition that it is fighting a “proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq”.

“Fearful of a strong, independent, Arab Shi’ite community emerging in Iraq, one that seeks guidance not in Qom, Iran, but from traditional sources of Shi’ite authority in Najaf and Karbala, the Iranian regime also aims to keep Iraq in a state of weakness that prevents Baghdad from presenting a threat to Tehran,” he added, blaming the Quds Force, an elite branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, for providing “weapons, money and training to terrorists and Islamic militant groups abroad, including Hamas; Palestinian Islamic Jihad; militants in the Balkans, the Taliban and other anti-Afghanistan militants; and Hezbollah terrorists trying to destabilize Lebanon’s democratic government.”

He also strongly implied that Washington continues to seek “regime change” in Tehran, noting that “the irresponsible conduct of the ruling elite in Tehran is a tragedy for all Iranians” and insisting that “the spirit of freedom is stirring Iran … America looks forward to the day when Iranians reclaim their destiny; the day that our two countries, as free and democratic nations, can be the closest of friends.”

Iran, indeed, dominated the last 10 minutes of the speech. By contrast, Lebanon received only two paragraphs while the administration’s efforts to renew US-Palestinian peace talks drew only the briefest of mentions.

Bush, he said, has “announced a meeting to be held in Annapolis later this year to review the progress towards building Palestinian institutions, to seek innovative ways to support further reform, to provide diplomatic support to the parties, so that we can move forward on the path to a Palestinian state”.

(Inter Press Service)

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.

Giuliani, the Likud Candidate? by Jim Lobe

Dandelion Salad

by Jim Lobe

Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani announced his foreign-policy advisory team Tuesday, and it looks from the membership as if he’s bidding for the Likud vote (for which he will no doubt receive tough competition from John McCain, Fred Thompson, and, eventually perhaps, Newt Gingrich).

Heading the team is Charles Hill, a retired career foreign service officer who worked as former Secretary of State George Shultz’s executive officer during the Reagan administration and is currently a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Hill’s paper trail is confined almost exclusively to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal where, among other things, he hailed the creation in 2004 of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), proposed the replacement of the UN by a new organisation of nations “committed to democracy,” criticized the 9/11 Commission for failing to sufficiently emphasize “the nature of the enemy” – “Islamist terrorism; Saddamist-style hijacked states; and regimes fearful of subversion, such as Saudi Arabia, whose policies have inflamed the situation and increased the danger to itself,” and decried the Commission’s suggestion that U.S. policies in the region might have something to do with anti-American sentiment there.

A big fan of Bernard Lewis’ theories about what ails the Arab Middle East, Hill was a signer of the Sep 20, 2001, letter from Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that urged Bush to be sure to include Saddam Hussein, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Yassir Arafat, as well as al Qaeda and the Taliban, in his war on terror.

Of the seven other members of Giuliani’s “Senior Foreign Policy Advisory Board,” several have also been associated with PNAC and the CPD, most spectacularly, the legendary former editor of Commentary magazine, Norman “World War IV” Podhoretz, whose most recent contribution to Western-Islamic understanding was his article, “The Case for Bombing Iran” (an eight-minute “must-see” video version of which is available on YouTube. A founding father of neo-conservatism, Podhoretz is also, of course, the father-in-law of Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams whose own work in frustrating serious peace efforts between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been second only to Dick Cheney’s. Apparently relying on inside information, Podhoretz still believes that Saddam Hussein secreted his weapons of mass destruction to Syria for safe-keeping

Also noteworthy on the advisory board is Martin Kramer, a long-time Lewis disciple, who is also closely associated with Daniel Pipes and particularly his Campus Watch program which many in the Middle East studies field have denounced as McCarthyite. Kramer, a frequent contributor to The National Review Online, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, which in turn is closely linked to former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Similarly, Peter Berkowitz, another Hoover fellow, has served on the policy advisory board of the neo-conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center (which, along with the Hudson Institute, served as Abrams’ primary institutional home for a number of years after his service in the Reagan administration) and director of the Israel Program on Constitutional Government, a program that brings prominent U.S. academics and opinion-shapers to Tel Aviv University each year. {articipants in the program over the last few years have included former CIA director James Woolsey; former Asia specialist on Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff, Aaron Friedberg; Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies Professor Ruth Wedgwood, Bill Kristol, Victor Davis Hanson, Jeremy Rabkin, and Eliot Cohen.

Rounding out the group are former Wisconsin Sen. Bob Kasten, who, along with his fellow-Wisconsonian, Rudy Boschwitz, was among the most pro-Likud members of the Senate during his service there between 1981 and 1993; Enders Wimbush, a senior fellow at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, protege of the late Albert Wohlstetter and long-standing disciple of the Pentagon’s Net Assessment guru, Andrew Marshall; Steve Rosen, a Harvard professor who contributed to PNAC’s 2000 report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses;” and Kim Holmes, a fixture at the Heritage Foundation’s foreign policy unit since 1985, who served during Bush’s first term as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.

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. This material is distributed without profit.