Crisis in the Caucasus. What Were They Smoking in the White House?

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
ICH
08/19/08 “Lew Rockwell

The Bush administration appears to have pulled off its latest military fiasco in the Caucasus. What was supposed to have been a swift and painless takeover of rebellious South Ossetia by America’s favorite new ally, Georgia, has turned into a disaster that left Georgia battered, Russia enraged, and NATO badly demoralized. Not bad for two days work.

Equally important, Russia’s Vladimir Putin swiftly and decisively checkmated the Bush administration’s clumsy attempt last week to expand US influence into the Caucasus, and made the Americans and their Georgian satraps look like fools.

We are not facing a return to the Cold War – yet. But the current US-Russian crisis over Georgia, a tiny nation of only 4.6 million, and its linkage to a US anti-ballistic missile system in Eastern Europe, is deeply worrying and increasingly dangerous.

On 7 August, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, ordered his US and Israeli-advised and equipped army to invade the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has been struggling for independence from Georgia since 1992. Most of its people were Russian citizens who wanted union with Russian North Ossetia.

If not directly behind Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Washington had to have been at least fully aware of Saakashvili’s plans. The Georgian Army was trained and equipped by US and Israeli military advisors stationed with its troops down to battalion level. CIA and Israel’s Mossad operated important intelligence stations in Tbilisi and coordinated plans with the Saakashvili, whose political opponents have long accused him of being very close to CIA and the Pentagon.

Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was launched while the world was absorbed by the Beijing Olympics, and Prime Minister Putin was in the Chinese capital. The attack was clearly planned to be a lightening strike that would occupy all of South Ossetia and then Abkhazia before Moscow could react, presenting the Kremlin with a fait accompli.

Who in Bush’s or Cheney’s office approved this stupid adventure? Why did the very smart Israelis get sucked into this imbroglio?

Saakashvili’s stealth “coup de main” quickly turned into a disaster. Russia’s 58th Army responded by routing Georgian forces and delivering a humiliating strategic and psychological blow to the Bush administration. Saakashvili fell right into Moscow’s trap.

Georgia and Russia have been feuding since 1992 over two Georgian ethnic enclaves, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, whose people differ in ethnicity and language from Georgians and who wanted to rejoin Russia.

The young, US-educated Saakashvili became Georgia’s president in 2003 after an uprising, believed organized by CIA and financed by US money, overthrew the former leader, Eduard Shevardnadze. I came to know and respect Shevardnadze in Moscow when he was Mikhail Gorbachev’s principal ally and architect of Soviet reform.

Had the able, clever Shevardnadze still been in power, this misadventure would never have happened.

Saakashvili quickly became the golden boy of US rightwing neoconservatives and their Israeli allies, who held him a model of how to turn former Russian-dominated states into “democratic” US allies. Georgian critics claim Saakashvili kept power by intimidation, bribery, and vote rigging. The youthful Georgian leader, his head swelled by promises of US support and NATO membership, launched a war of words against Moscow.

Amazingly, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a supposed Russian expert, even publicly assured Saakashvili that the US would “fight” for Georgia. Washington’s latest fiasco falls squarely into her lap.

US money, military trainers, advisers, and intelligence agents poured into the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Israeli arms dealers, businessmen and intelligence agents quickly followed, reportedly selling some $200 million or more of military equipment to the Georgian government.

By expanding its influence into Georgia, the Bush administration brazenly flouted agreements with Moscow made by president George H.W. Bush not to expand NATO into the former USSR. President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both violated this pact. Under the feeble Yeltsin regime, bankrupt Russia could do nothing. But under Putin, newly wealthy Russia finally pushed back after a long series of provocations fromWashington.

Russia’s tough deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, sneeringly observed that Georgia had become a “US satellite.” He was absolutely right. And Ivanov, a former KGB colleague of Vlad Putin, knows a satellite when he sees one. Georgia provided the US oil and gas pipeline routes from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan that bypassed Russian territory. Russia was furious its Caspian Basin energy export monopoly had been broken, vowing revenge.

Now that the Russians have checkmated the US and client Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia will likely move into Russia’s orbit. The west rightly backed independence of Kosovo from Serbia. The peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, who are ethnically and linguistically different from Georgians, should have as much right to secede from Georgia.

Besides thwarting Bush’s clumsy attempt to further advance US influence into Russia’s Caucasian underbelly, Putin delivered a stark warning to Ukraine and the Central Asian states: don’t get too close to Washington. Putin put the US on the strategic defensive and showed that NATO’s new eastern reaches – the Baltic, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Caucasus – are largely indefensible.

It’s a good thing Georgia was not admitted to NATO, as the White House had reportedly promised Saakashvili. Had Georgia been admitted before this crisis, the US and its NATO allies would have been in a state of war with Russia. Disturbingly, Germany’s conservative prime minister, Angelika Merkel, rushed to Tbilisi to assure Saakashvili that her nation still backed NATO membership for Georgia.

Is the west really ready to be dragged into a potential nuclear war for the sake of South Ossetia? Are American and German troops ready to fight in the Caucasus? Georgia is a bridge too far for NATO.

President George Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain all resorted to table pounding and Cold War rhetoric against Russia. McCain, whose senior foreign policy advisor is a neoconservative and was a registered lobbyist for Georgia, demanded that the US and NATO “punish” Russia and put it into diplomatic isolation.

Unfortunately, the indignant John McCain’s could not even properly pronounce “Abkhazia.”

America’s neocon amen chorus demanded a confrontation with Russia, chanting their usual mantras about Munich, appeasement and the myths of World War II. One certainly wondered if the Caucasian fracas was not staged by the Republicans to provide Sen. McCain with the “three a.m. phone call” he has been longing for and a chance to sound tough. This he did, even though his rhetoric was empty and his solutions vapid. Barack Obama ducked the issue or issued a few tepid bromides about halting “Russian aggression.”

Meanwhile, hypocrisy flew thicker than shellfire. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and is threatening war against Iran, accused Russia of “bullying” and “aggression.” Putin, who crushed the life out of Chechnya’s independence movement, piously claimed his army was saving Ossetians from Georgian ethnic cleansing and protecting their quest for independence.

Bush and McCain demand Russia be punished and isolated. The humiliated Bush is sending some US troops to Georgia to deliver “humanitarian” aid. Equally worrisome, the US rushed to sign a pact with Warsaw to station anti-missile missiles and anti-aircraft batteries, manned by US troops, in Poland. This response is dangerous, highly provocative, and immature. The next president will have to deal with the Bush administrations reckless and foolish acts in the Mideast, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and now, the Caucasus

The west must accept Russia has vital national interests in the Caucasus and the former USSR. Russia is a great power and must be afforded respect. The days of treating Russia like a banana republic are over. Have we learned nothing from World War I or II, both of which began with flare-ups in obscure Sarajevo and the Danzig Corridor?

The US’s most important foreign policy concern is keeping correct relations with Russia, which has thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at North America. Georgia is a petty sideshow. US missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic are a dangerous, unnecessary provocation that is sowing dragon’s teeth for future confrontation.

Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis

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

The Force Be With Us But Not With You by Bruce Gagnon

Alexander Cockburn on Russia Today: McCain uses Ossetian bloodshed to score points

Why Not Simply Abolish NATO? by Rodrigue Tremblay

Why are we pretending we would fight for Georgia?

Margolis: It’s like August, 1914 – US missile deal enrages Russia

Russian General threatens Poland over missile deal

RNN: Margolis: Russians checkmate US in Georgia

Row escalates over US media bias + New Cold War is an option

Georgia

Margolis-Eric

RNN: Margolis: Russians checkmate US in Georgia

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

Eric Margolis: Tensions increase Georgia to Iran

As contributing editor for The American Conservative and Sun Media, and Founding Committee member of The Real News Network Eric Margolis says: “The reason I was drawn to [The Real News] was the fact it seemed to me to be the voice that I and many others had been looking for.”

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Karadzic extradited to The Hague + Karadzic: Justice Delayed, But Still Welcome

Dandelion Salad

MegaNewsbreak

Radovan Karadzic, the war crimes suspect, has arrived in the Netherlands to face trial at The Hague on charges of genocide for his actions in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

His departure came just hours after supporters fought running battles in the streets with police.

Many are hoping that as news of Radovan Karadzic’s move to The Hague spreads, the violence of Tuesday night will not be repeated.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reports from Belgrade.

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Plain Facts About Iran’s Military By Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
ICH
07/29/08

The intensifying saber rattling and war of words between the US and Israel, on one hand, and Iran have generated a great deal of hysteria, war fever and confusion.

Senior Israeli cabinet members have threatened nuclear war against Iran. The western media has given the erroneous impression that Iran is poised to wipe Israel off the map. Some understanding of the military issues involved is badly needed.

First, missiles. Iran announced its Shahab-III missile is ready to retaliate against any Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. This missile is not long-ranged, as media wrongly claims, but a medium-ranged. Iran says it can deliver a two ton warhead over 2,000 km. But Israeli and US sources say Shahab’s maximum range is around 1,200 km, which puts much of Israel out of its range.

This obsolescent missile is highly inaccurate, particularly at maximum range. It is liquid fueled, meaning it is very vulnerable to air and missile strikes while being prepared to fire. Israel has developed tactics using aircraft, missiles and drones to attack enemy missiles in pre-launch phase. Iran has an estimated 24 Shabab-III’s.

The other missiles Iran fired this week were short ranged models of no strategic value. Tehran was even caught doctoring the pictures it issued of the multiple missile launch to cover up the failure of one of the missiles to fly. This embarrassment reinforced the view that Tehran is trying to hide its military weakness behind a lot of chest-pounding and missile theatrics.

Israel, by contrast, has around 50 Jericho-II nuclear-armed missiles with a range from 900-2,700 miles, putting every Mideast capital and parts of Russia, Pakistan, and Europe within range. Each Jericho-II carries a warhead that can destroy a major city.

Medium-ranged missiles are almost useless without nuclear warheads. Iran has no nuclear weapons, and even if it did manage to develop them, it would be many years before a compact warhead could be developed that could be carried atop a missiles and withstand heavy G-forces. Until Iran has nuclear warheads, Iran’s Shabab’s will be more for show than military utility.

*Other systems – Israel has an indestructible nuclear triad. In addition to the Jerichos, which are housed in caves and mobile, Israel has one of the world’s top air forces with long-ranged US-supplied F-15I’s and F-16’s that can deliver nuclear weapons to Iran. Germany provided Israel with three Dolphin-class subs that are said to be armed with nuclear cruise missiles. At least one sub is always on station off Iran’s coast. In addition, Israel new Ofek-3 military satellite provides full coverage of Iran and surrounding region. Israel also shares US satellite and other sensor data in real time.

Israel has probably the world’s second or third most potent air force, with around 400 state of the art, US-supplied combat aircraft and among the world’s most skilled pilots. The IAF is supported by a galaxy of electronic warfare systems, drones, and long-range recon. Israel’s Arrow is the world’s most advanced operational anti-ballistic missiles system and is expected to down over 85% of any incoming missiles.

Iran’s Air Force has only about 165 airworthy combat aircraft, mostly of 1960’s and 70’s vintage. The only aircraft it has that can reach Israel are 18-20 Soviet-era SU-24’s, and a handful of decrepit 40-year old, US-supplied F-4 Phantoms and F-14’s dating from the Shah’s day.

Thanks to unlimited US support, Israel is two full military generations ahead of its enemies, and even further advanced in electronic warfare and command and control.

A single nuclear weapon would destroy Israel, as its partisans warn. But this is also true of Egypt, where a single nuke on the Aswan Dam would inundate the nation and kill millions. It also applies to the Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan, and Iraq. Only Saudi Arabia and Iran have strategic space. Even so, one nuclear strike on Tehran would cripple Iran for years.

Thanks to its strategic triad, Israel’s nuclear forces are indestructible, hence capable of devastating retaliation against any enemy nuclear strike. The Bush administration has vowed nuclear retaliation against any nation that attacks Israel with nuclear weapons.

Given these facts, we can see how false are claims trumpeted by the west that Iran is a dangerous military power that is about to eradicate Israel. The facts are quite the reverse.

see

Acts of War By Scott Ritter

Call on AP to retract false reporting on Iran

Ahmadinejad: U.S. & Iran Not That Different!

Quotes on Iran by Obama, Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel

The possibility of a retaliatory attack by Iran on US bases in the region

Francis Boyle: Iran Should Sue to Stop US Attack

Iran

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.

Obama, The Democratic ‘War President’ by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
July 20, 2008

CALGARY – Barack Obama wants to withdraw US troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, which he calls the real front on the `war on terror.’ He also has repeated threats to attack Pakistan `if necessary.’

One understands Obama’s need to sound macho. Rival John McCain has been beating his chest, proclaiming, `I know how to win wars.’ Polls show Americans trust McCain three to one over Obama as a war leader. Unfortunately, recent US presidents seem to require small military conflicts to prove their political virility.

But Obama has long called the US-led occupation of Afghanistan a `good war,’ a view most Americans and Canadians share. They see Afghanistan – and now Pakistan – as hotbeds of al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists that must be eradicated.

It is distressing to see Obama succumb to the blitz of war propaganda over Afghanistan and adopt George Bush’s faux terminology of terrorism. Before Obama urges widening America’s war there, he should consider:

*Al-Qaida never numbered more than 300 men. There are hardly any left in Afghanistan. Survivors scattered into Pakistan. Finding them is police and intelligence work, not a job for thousands more western troops

*US policy towards Afghanistan is driven by energy geopolitics. Pacification of rebellious Pashtun tribesmen is necessary in order to build energy pipelines south from the Caspian Basin. That is the primary strategic mission of US and Canadian troops.

*Taliban fighters are not `terrorists.’ Taliban was founded as a fundamentalist Muslim religious movement of Pashtun tribesmen to fight banditry, rape, drugs, and Afghan Communists. Taliban received millions in US aid until fourth months before 9/11. It had no part in 9/11 and knew nothing about them. The US overthrow of Taliban resulted in the Communists resuming control over half of Afghanistan. Under US occupation, Afghanistan has become a narco-state that supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin.

*Pashtun tribes comprise half of Afghanistan’s population, and 15% of neighboring Pakistan’s people. The western powers are involved in an old-fashioned, colonial-style pacification campaign against the Pashtun Taliban. Imperial Britain, the Soviets, and now the US and its allies all employed the same classical colonial strategy: using puppet rulers, local mercenary troops, and lavish bribes to enforce their will. Afghans who resist get bombed.

*Before urging expansion of the Afghan war, Obama should total up the bill for America’s military misadventures. As of last January, according to the Pentagon and data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cost 72,043 American battlefield casualties. Veteran’s Administration hospitals have treated 263,909 veterans from these wars and registered over 245,000 disability claims.

No one knows how many Iraqis and Afghans have been killed. The number could be over one million. Just last week over 50 Afghans in a wedding party were killed by a US air strike. But without the constant use of massive air power, including B-1 bombers, the US could not maintain its occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan.

*According to a Democratic Congressional committee report, the two wars will cost $1.6 trillion by the end of 2008, or $16,500 per US family of four – not counting the cost of borrowing money to pay for the wars.

Obama and McCain believe Afghan resistance can be crushed by more brute force. They are wrong. More western troops and more bombed villages will mean fiercer Afghan resistance.

The war is now seeping into Pakistan, a nation of 165 million. Obama’s threats to attack Pakistan and go after its nuclear arsenal are reckless and extremely dangerous. He appears headed over the same cliff as those would-be `war presidents, Bush and McCain. As the head of NATO recently admitted, political settlement, not bombs, is the only way to end the unnecessary Afghan war.

Is Obama beginning to fall under the influence of the same military-petroleum complex that guided Bush’s imperial-minded presidency? Could Pakistan become a disaster for the Democrats as Iraq was for Republicans?

Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis

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

O-Bummer by Bruce Gagnon

The Pentagonization of US life + Obama and the national security system + Cold War mentality

Reality Check – The Democrats Are The Real Problem By Mike Whitney

Obama-Barack

Kicking Sand In Russia’s Face By Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
07/15/08 “ICH”

Last week’s utterly useless and hugely expensive G8 summit in Japan was at least a welcome comic relief after all the bombast and threats flying back and forth between the US, Israel and Iran.

The world leaders dined on caviar as they earnestly discussed hunger and the global food crisis. They agreed to do something about global warming by 2058. That’s real courage and leadership.

“Yo Harper,” called out President George Bush, beckoning Canada’s prime minister to come meet the president of Nigeria. Stephen Harper now joins Britain’s late, unlamented former PM Tony Blair in being treated like a White House car jockey. Bush’s arrogant public behavior towards two of his most faithful followers says a great deal about the importance of America’s “key” allies to Washington.

Bush and Harper, who had just come from a session blasting Zimbabwe’s ruler, Robert Mugabe, as a wicked, corrupt tyrant, glad-handed with Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar-Adua who won office last year in one of Nigeria’s most spectacularly rigged elections. That’s saying a lot, since Nigeria is without doubt the world’s most corrupt nation. But Nigeria has oil, and may supply up to 25% of America’s future requirements. The US is also building bases in West Africa to oversee the region’s growing oil exports.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, which I fondly remember when it was prosperous, beautiful Rhodesia, is now dirt poor and bankrupt thanks to Afro-socialism and expulsion of its white minority.

Obedient western-backed dictators who rig elections are hailed as “statesmen.” Insubordinate rulers who don’t cooperate are branded “dictators” or “tyrants.”

Good for old crocodile Mugabe for refusing to be pushed around by the hypocritical western powers who are screaming about his electoral fraud while blessing worse fraud and oppression in the Arab, Central Asian, and African dictatorships they support.

Invited guests at the G8 summit included Ethiopia, which is inflicting wide-scale atrocities in Somalia and on its own Oromo minority, and is now facing another major famine. Oil and gas-rich Algeria, whose brutal military rulers, one of the world’s most repressive regimes, proudly call themselves “the eradicators.”

One of Bush’s official briefing books fell into media hands. It described Italy as “known for governmental corruption and vice,” and called Bush’s “best pal” PM Silvio Berlusconi a “political dilettante” who holds power thanks to his ownership of the media. “Are the courts still after you, Silvio,” tactfully called out buddy Bush to Italy’s embarrassed leader? Mama mia! Italians have a perfect expression for this: “bruta figura.”

Adding to the surreal aura at the G8, and exposing the utter falsity of Washington’s faux “war on terror,” the Bush administration announced it was taking Nelson Mandela off its terrorist list. Who is next? The late Mother Theresa? Bambi?

While this farce was going on in northern Japan, Bush’s girl Friday and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew to Prague to initial a truly daft plan to build a new US anti-missile system (ABM) in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Washington claims the system is designed to shoot down Iranian long-ranged missiles – which Iran does not have – carrying nuclear warheads – which Iran also does not have. “We are protecting Europe,” chirped Rice. Of course, Condi. Those mad mullahs in Tehran are just itching to attack Belgium and Norway.

The only possible use for these ABM missiles would be to protect US military bases in Western and, more important, Eastern Europe, from some future missile attack by Iran. But Iran would only attack US bases, and thus court national destruction, if it were first attacked by the United States.

Predictably, Moscow went ballistic. It has been fuming for over a year over Bush’s missile plan, and getting angrier by the month. The Kremlin actually threatened a “military-technical” response, whatever that means, if the US installs an ABM system on its doorstep.

Nearly 70% of Czechs and Poles also oppose this crazy and unnecessarily provocative plan. Poland is demanding a $3 billion air defense system from Washington as its price for basing the interceptor missiles. The clever Poles may be trying to sabotage the plan without having to say no to their protector and ally, the US. One wonders how much Czech politicians are getting paid to go along with Bush’s little Central European Maginot Line?

If the White House is so determined to provoke Russia, why doesn’t it just go and bomb Putin’s country dacha or Lenin’s tomb?

Bush and Rasputin Dick Cheney have broken a 1991 pledge made by President Bush Senior to Soviet chairman Michael Gorbachev. In exchange for Gorby’s not using the Red Army to crush spreading revolts in East Germany and across the dying Soviet Union, Washington agreed not to advance NATO eastward toward Russia or into the old USSR. Gorbachev’s courageous, humane concession averted a crisis that could have led to a nuclear war.

Gorbachev kept his side of the bargain, allowing the Soviet Union to implode. But the US, sneering at Boris Yeltsin’s bankrupt, demoralized post-imperial Russia, quickly reneged and began advancing NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders. Washington is currently mucking around in Georgia and Ukraine, both parts of Russia’s back yard and considered seriously off limits to the western powers.

Small wonder Bush’s foolish ABM system so outrages the Ruskis who have every right to moral outrage and being angry as hornets. Bush’s paranoia and obsession with Iran is causing him to risk provoking a military clash with Russia. He is fast pushing Russia’s new President Dimitri Medvedev and PM Vlad Putin to the wall.

John McCain is cheering Bush on. He recently called for Russia to be expelled from the G8 and vowed that if elected president, he would “confront” Russia. At least old crocodile Mugabe isn’t threatening to start a war or two.

Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. Visit his website. http://www.ericmargolis.com/

Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis

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.

Mideast Nuclear Saber Rattling by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
July 7, 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The US, Israel and Iran are playing a very dangerous game of chicken that could soon result in a new Mideast war.

To the chagrin of President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney, the combined US intelligence agencies concluded late last year that Iran was not working on nuclear weapons. UN nuclear weapons experts, who have been inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT), concur with US intelligence.

However, Israel, which refused to sign the NNPT, and has a large, undeclared nuclear weapons program, claims that Iran is within 18 months of developing a nuclear weapon and must be stopped at all costs.

The Bush administration and Israel, recently joined by France, are issuing increasingly loud threats of military action to frighten Iran into halting its nuclear enrichment program which they claim sets the stage for a possible Iranian break-out to develop nuclear weapons. To do so, Iran would have to boost enriching its uranium from 5-6% to over 93%.

Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely for civilian use to generate electrical power. Iran’s once vast oil reserves have peaked and are going into decline while its population continues to rise. Washington dismisses Iran’s need for civilian nuclear power as `preposterous,’ though in the 1970’s Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney went to Tehran to try to sell 27 US nuclear reactors to the Shah of Iran.

Tehran is alternating between conciliatory statements and threats of inflicting economic chaos on the global economy in retaliation for any attack. Europe mostly fears the economic damage a war against Iran would bring far more than Iran’s nuclear program.

Senior Israeli officials are openly threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear installations before President George Bush’s term expires. Early, this month, Israel staged a large, US-approved exercise using F-15’s and F-16’s to rehearse an attack over 900 miles – precisely the distance to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The highly regarded American journalist Seymour Hersh just confirmed that the US Congress authorized a $400 million plan to overthrow Iran’s government and incite ethnic unrest. This column reported a year ago that US and British special forces were operating in Iran, preparing for a massive air campaign. Israel’s destruction of an alleged Syrian reactor last fall was a warning to Iran.

This week, an unnamed senior Pentagon official claimed an Israeli attack on Iran was coming before year end. Other Pentagon and CIA sources say a US attack on Iran is imminent, with or without Israel.

The Bush administration is even considering using small tactical nuclear weapons against deeply buried Iranian targets.

Senior American officers Adm. William Fallon and Air Force chief Michael Mosley were recently fired for opposing war against Iran. According to Israel’s media, President Bush even told Israel’s prime minister Ehud Olmert that he could not trust America’s intelligence community and preferred to rely on Israeli intelligence.

Intensifying activity is evident at US bases in Europe and the Gulf, aimed at preparing a massive air blitz that may include repeated attacks on 3,100 targets in Iran. These would include air defenses, nuclear installations and reactors, telecommunications, government and military HQ, transport nodes, airfields, naval bases and barracks, ports, military industries, pumping stations and oil terminals, and `high value government targets’ – ie. leadership. In short, a total air blitz delivered in successive waves over days if not weeks.

Other sources say Iranian Revolutionary Guards installations will be barraged by cruise missiles as a warning to Tehran.

In Washington, Congress, under intense pressure from the Israel lobby, is about to adopt a resolution calling for a naval blockade of Iran, an overt act of war. When Egypt closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping in 1956, Israel deemed this an act of war.

Interestingly, the same Congressional Democrats who claimed they were duped into supporting Bush’s war against Iraq have all joined the rush to war against Iran. In Washington, wisdom only seems to come in hindsight.

Pro-Israel groups in Washington have been airing alarmist TV commercials claiming Iran is attacking American troops in Iraq and threatening the US.

The Bush administration’s last desperate act, its `Gotterdammerung,’ could be war with Iran. Even though there is no proof Iran is working on nuclear arms, the neocon war party in Washington is determined to loose a final Parthian shaft by striking Iran.

Israel asserts the right to maintain its Mideast nuclear monopoly by destroying all fissile-producing reactors in the region. In return, Iran vows to retaliate against Israel with its inaccurate, conventionally-armed Shahab missiles. Israel’s new anti-missile defense system could shoot down most of the Shahab warheads. But there is a danger that Israel could over-react and order its invulnerable triad of air, land and sea-based nuclear weapons to strike at Iran.

Should Iran be attacked, Tehran also threatens to shut the 23-mile wide strait of Hormuz, and mine the Gulf, producing worldwide financial panic, severe fuel shortages, and $400-500 dollars per barrel oil. Iran will likely attack US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, and strike Saudi and Kuwaiti oil facilities.

The embattled Bush administration’s bunker mentality is leading to war that will gravely damage long-term US Mideast interests. A single Iranian missile hit on Israel’s reactor would do more damage to the Jewish state than all its previous wars. Besides, Israel cannot totally destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. A US or Israeli attack on Iran will absolutely guarantee that Tehran decides to build nuclear weapons. Israel and Iran have turned their regional rivalry into a deadly confrontation that now threatens all.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khomenei, who controls that nation’s military, not its bombastic president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, insists Iran will not produce nuclear weapons. Israel claims it faces imminent attack. Iran counters that Israel’s nuclear saber rattling threaten its existence. The dogs of war are being unleashed.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2008

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

What gives Bush the right to destabilize Iran by covert military operations?

The Real Villian In The High Cost Of Oil by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
June 30, 2008

PARIS – The French and the rest of Europe are up in arms over soaring gas and food prices. Truckers, taxi drivers, farmers and fishermen across the continent are blocking roads and raising hell.

Gas and diesel cost 2.5 to 3 times more here than in North America, where prices are still a bargain compared to the rest of the developed world.

Frightened politicians from Baltimore to Bangkok are pretending they can do something about high energy and food prices, or desperately seeking scapegoats. Evil speculators or Arabs are the current favorite.

So who is responsible for oil that has now broken $140 per barrel from $40? The principal villain is the once mighty US dollar.

Most of oil’s price surge has been caused by the US dollar’s steady loss of value caused by Washington’s bungled foreign policy and orgy of debt. Increased demand from India, China, and other Asian nations, where gas prices are kept below world prices by government subsidies, have played an important but secondary role. Diesel prices in China and India, which import most of their oil, are 33-40% cheaper than in North America.

Since 2002, the US dollar has fallen nearly 40% against the Euro, nearly as much against the Canadian dollar, and about 15% against the Japanese yen. Canada is the US’s leading oil supplier. Once the world’s leading oil producer, the US now imports 66% of its oil. Thanks to the eroding US dollar, Americans must constantly pay more for imported oil.

Former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in 2007 that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq had been about seizing oil. The Bush-Cheney strategy was aimed at seizing Iraq’s oil, then boosting production to break up the oil cartel, OPEC. The result was a disaster. In spite of 14,000 mercenaries guarding Iraq’s pipelines, its oil production is actually lower than before the US invasion, adding to the growing supply shortage on the world market.

In his excellent new book, `Bad Money,’ political analyst Kevin Phillips explains how the Clinton and Bush administrations allowed, and even aided, the unregulated finance industry to create the giant bubble of largely worthless securities that is now bursting.

Phillips points out that finance has become America’s leading industry while manufacturing has shrunk to only 12%. Public and private debt has grown from $10.5 trillion in 1987 to $43 trillion. The housing bubble stimulated by the crack cocaine of absurdly low interest rates accounts for 40% of America’s gross domestic product.

America’s reckless debt orgy is ending, bringing recession in its wake. The collapse of Wall Street’s house of cards continues, with half of bank profits going up in smoke. Soaring oil prices are so far the most painful symptom of America’s economic and geopolitical decline under the Bush administration.

The next shoe to drop will be when oil producers start demanding payment in Euros or a basket of currencies. Interestingly, Saddam’s Iraq, Venezuela and Iran all began doing this, and quickly hit the top of Washington’s enemies list.

Control of Mideast oil is one of the main pillars of US world power. Breaking the half-century old link between the US dollar and oil will further accelerate America’s decline as a great power.

Two thirds of the world’s hard currency reserves are now held in Asia. China and Japan alone hold 47% of US foreign debt. As the US dollar weakens, Asian and Mideast nations will feel growing pressure to reduce their holdings of US dollars and debt and move to stronger currencies. If this happens, the US economy will be in for a huge crisis and face sharp interest rate hikes.

World oil productions is stagnating while demand rises. By 2030, China will have as many cars as the US. Most analysts believe oil will stay above $100 from now on.

Meaning North Americans better get used to small cars, small portions, small homes and smaller waistlines.

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A Line Not To Be Crossed By Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
ICH
06/17/08
Toronto Sun
June 15, 2008

American-led war on terror cannot be allowed to spread into Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal area

The killing of 11 Pakistani soldiers by U.S. air and artillery strikes last week shows just how quickly the American-led war in Afghanistan is spreading into neighbouring Pakistan.

Pakistan’s military branded the air attack “unprovoked and cowardly.” There was outrage across Pakistan. However, the unstable government in Islamabad, which depends on large infusions of U.S. aid, later softened its protests.

The U.S., which used a B-1 heavy bomber and F-15 strike aircraft in the attacks, called its action, “self-defence.”

This latest U.S. attack on Pakistan could not come at a worse time. Supreme Court justices ousted by the Pervez Musharraf dictatorship staged national protests this week, underscoring the illegality of Musharraf’s continuing presidency and its unseemly support by the U.S., Britain, Canada and France. Asif Zardari, head of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, shamefully joined Musharraf in opposing restoration of the justice system out of fear the reinstated judges would reopen long-festering corruption charges against him

Attacks by U.S. aircraft, Predator hunter-killer drones, U.S. Special Forces and CIA teams have been rising steadily inside Pakistan’s autonomous Pashtun tribal area known by the acronym, FATA. The Pashtun, who make up half Afghanistan’s population and 15% of Pakistan’s, straddle the border, which they reject as a leftover of Imperial Britain’s divide and rule policies.

Instead of intimidating the pro-Taliban Pakistani Pashtun, U.S. air and artillery strikes have ignited a firestorm of anti-western fury among FATA’s warlike tribesmen and increased their support for the Taliban.

The U.S. is emulating Britain’s colonial divide and rule tactics by offering up to $500,000 to local Pashtun tribal leaders to get them to fight pro-Taliban elements, causing more chaos in the already turbulent region, and stoking tribal rivalries. The U.S. is using this same tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This week’s deadly U.S. attacks again illustrate the fact that the 60,000 U.S. and NATO ground troops in Afghanistan are incapable of holding off the Taliban and its allies, even though the Afghan resistance has nothing but small arms to battle the West’s hi-tech arsenal. U.S. air power is almost always called in when there are clashes.

In fact, the main function for U.S. and NATO infantries is to draw the Taliban into battle so the Afghan “mujahidin” can be bombed from the air. Without 24/7 U.S. airpower, which can respond in minutes, western forces in Afghanistan would be quickly isolated, cut off from supplies, and defeated.

But these air strikes, as we saw this week, are blunt instruments in spite of all the remarkable skill of the U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots. They kill more civilians than Taliban fighters. Mighty U.S. B-1 bombers are not going to win the hearts and minds of Afghans. Each bombed village and massacred caravan wins new recruits to the Taliban and its allies.

OPEN WARFARE

The U.S. and its allies are edging into open warfare against Pakistan. The western occupation army in Afghanistan is unable to defeat Taliban fighters due to its lack of combat troops. The outgoing supreme commander, U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, recently admitted he would need 400,000 soldiers to pacify Afghanistan.

Unable to win in Afghanistan, the frustrated western powers are turning on Pakistan, a nation of 165 million. Pakistanis are bitterly opposed to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and their nation’s subjugation to U.S. policy under dictator Musharraf.

“We just need to occupy Pakistan’s tribal territory,” insists the Pentagon, “to stop its Pashtun tribes from supporting and sheltering Taliban.” But a U.S.-led invasion of FATA simply will push pro-Taliban Pashtun militants deeper into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province, drawing western troops ever deeper into Pakistan. Already overextended, western forces will be stretched even thinner and clashes with Pakistan’s tough regular army may be inevitable.

Widening the Afghan War into Pakistan is military stupidity on a grand scale, and political madness. But Washington and its obedient allies seem hell-bent on charging into a wider regional war that no number of heavy bombers will win.

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Who Is Being Reckless, Obama Or McCain? by Eric S. Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric S. Margolis
May 26, 2008

The Republican blitz unleashed against Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama last week showed just how bitter, dirty and ugly the 2008 presidential campaign is likely to be.

After Obama said he favored direct negotiations with Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba, and dismissed any potential danger from Iran as ‘tiny,’ Republican candidate John McCain accused him of being ‘reckless’ and ‘inexperienced.’

‘The threat the government of Iran poses is anything but tiny,’ thundered McCain – the very same supposedly experienced McCain who mistakenly claimed Iran was supporting Sunni fighters in Iraq.

During his recent speech to Israel’s Knesset, President George W. Bush also singled out Iran and insinuated that Obama resembled the British and French ‘appeasers’ of Nazi Germany at the 1938 Munch Pact for daring suggest talking to Iran.

The president’s speech was so filled with fulsome praise for Israel, and so lacking in reference to Palestinian suffering, one had the impression he was campaigning for one of Israel’s rightwing parties. Bush’s turgid, simplistic oration that was worthy of a Baptist Sunday school talk on the Mideast left, many worldly Israeli legislators rolling their eyes and looking embarrassed or bored.

Back in the US, neoconservatives blasted Obama as unpatriotic for not wearing an American flag on his lapel. The Israel lobby accused him of being insufficiently pro-Israel. Evangelical Christian groups flooded the internet with claims Obama was a closet Muslim.

Obama was so thrown off balance by these violent attacks, he foolishly flip-flopped on Iran and agreed that it was indeed a grave threat.

All this came as the danger of a US/Israeli attack on Iran to preserve Israel’s Mideast nuclear monopoly was growing. Israel’s PM Ehud Olmert just called for a US naval blockade of Iran, an open act of war. An Egyptian naval blockade of Israel’s access to the Red Sea served as a casus belli in 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Republicans just can’t seem to stop invoking both facts and myths of World War II to promote their foreign policy. If World War II must be dredged up, a more appropriate reference would be Nazi leader Hermann Goering’s famous formula for fascism:

“All you have to do is to tell them (the people) they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

That is what happened to Obama last week. In spite of the fact that most Americans want out of Iraq and are against attacking Iran, the Republican attack media is still able to tar anyone who opposes war-mongering as traitorous and cowardly.

McCain is an able, savvy domestic politician, but his absurd claims about Iran bring into question his understanding of foreign policy.

Iran has no long-ranged missiles, nuclear weapons, or bombers. Its decrepit air force barely flies. Iran’s so-called navy is a lightly-armed coast guard. Its ground forces are immobile and lack all forms of modern weapons. Tehran’s defense budget is the size of Poland’s or Norway’s, and 100 times smaller than US military spending.

It’s the Great Iraq scare all over. Republicans are again playing to the least educated Americans by frightening them with fairy tales and outright lies. Iranian mad mullahs determined to shower A-bombs on Memphis and Des Moines have replaced Saddam and his Drones of Death.

Should the US talk to enemies? Of course. Diplomacy is one of three primary tools of statecraft along with military and economic power. Only arrant fools do not make use of it. Just because the Bush administration largely relied on military power in foreign policy does not mean this Soviet-style approach need continue.

To whom does one negotiate if not with ones enemies and rivals? Refusing to talk to one’s foes is stupid, childish and counter-productive. World War I was sparked by the breakdown of diplomacy. It could have ended with a fair peace in 1917, and spared the world Stalin and Hitler, if the US had not foolishly entered the war, thus allowing Britain and France to reject negotiations with Germany,

War is waged to attain diplomatic objectives, not win military victories. The greatest threat to world peace is not Iran, Cuba or, even more laughably, Venezuela’s clownish Col. Hugo Chavez. It is the breakdown of normal diplomatic relations between nations.

As Democrats rightly noted, the US fruitfully negotiated with the Soviet Union and China when both powers threatened America with nuclear destruction. The Bush administration has been making progress in nuclear talks with ‘pariah’ North Korea, to which it refused to talk for years.

All sensible nations talk, either through normal or backdoor channels. Even Israel and old foe Syria just announced talks. Israel has maintained secret contacts with Iran for decades, even selling it $5 billion worth of US arms and spare parts in the 1980’s. When McCain and his new neoconservative Praetorian Guard scream ‘no negotiation’s,’ what they really mean is no talks between Washington and Israel’s principal foes, Iran and Syria.

McCain should be reminded that hysteria is not a viable foreign policy, even if it is election silly season. He is wrong to keep promoting the image of America as a spinster atop a chair, screaming in fear of a Muslim mouse called Iran. This is unworthy of the great United States.

If anyone is being reckless and inexperienced in foreign affairs, so far, it seems to be John McCain. His fear-mongering over Iran and publicly singing ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,’ and his plans to directly confront Russia and China at the same time while the US is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, should make Americans pause for a lot of thought.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2008

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

Is Obama Turning Right?

MIR: Turkey & Qatar – New Mediators on the Block

Inside Story: Lebanon agreement

Israel and Syria agree to talk

Obama-Barack

McCain-John