Russ Wellen

Nice Attack Shows How Attacks on Civilians Play Right into the Hands of Fascists

In a way, it’s almost worse when Islamic extremists don’t use weapons or explosives in their attack. With 9/11 – the only weapon used were boxcutters –they showed they can do just as much damage with everyday vehicles such as planes and trucks as with semi-automatic rifles (and occasionally, fully automatic), handguns, and explosives.

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5 Ways the U.S. Enabled the Radical Islamic State

In fulfilling the terrorists’ dream — transforming into a state with an army — ISIS, now the Islamic State, has become the stuff of nightmares for much of the Middle East and the West. I almost wrote that it had become “the worst nightmare,” but I’ll reserve that for when it obtains nuclear weapons. (Wait — what?)

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Tea Party Republicans Go Over the Cliff in Opposing Nuclear Arms Treaty Their Traditional Allies Want

It's not just the Obama administration against which Republican senators under the guidance of Jon Kyl pit themselves when they oppose New START. In fact, perhaps bewitched by Tea Party-style incoherence, they've also placed themselves in the unlikely position of bucking the national defense establishment, to which traditionally they've been joined at the hip. New START, of course, enjoys the support of Secretary of Defense Gates and the Pentagon.

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Is the Iran NIE a Trojan Horse?

This post, written by Russ Wellen, originally appeared on Scholars & Rogues

The Iran NIE has elicited a range of emotions in those opposed to the Bush administration's policies from gloating
to discreet celebration. In the minds of many, it's like V-Day: Let the church bells peal, kiss a girl in Times Square. Others, particularly Iranian commentators located in the US, are considerably less sanguine.
They fear, as Farideh Farhi writes at Juan Cole's spin-off, Informed Comment: Global Affairs, that the NIE can "easily become an instrument in support of the Bush Administration's current policy."

In fact, according to Kaveh Afrasiabi at Asia Times Online, "The temporary freeze on the military option [resulting from] the new intelligence report has nested within it its exact opposite." In other words, a Trojan horse.

Even though, he maintains, the nuclear programs that Iran halted in 2004-2005 were not weapons, the NIE and the administration painted them as such. If a follow-up report were to indicate that Iran planned to resurrect said weapons program, that would provide "ample justification for Washington's planned 'pre-emptive strikes' on Iran, not to mention added sanctions."

Thus leaving "the pendulum capable of swinging in wildly different directions almost at will."
Meanwhile, at CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Action Against Iran), Daniel Pourkesali writes, "Forgive this writer for being a spoiler." But he too finds that the resurrection theme is like a ticking time bomb embedded in the NIE.
He mentions the "assertions on page 7 paragraph D [of the NIE] that 'Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to produce nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so.'"
They leave "the door wide open for administration hawks like Mr. Cheney to abruptly accuse Iran of resurrecting its 'nuclear weapons program much as he did back in 2002, claiming that Saddam Hussein had 'resumed his effort to acquire nuclear weapons.'" In other words, the hawks are fixated on another bird, the phoenix.

At NIAC (National Iranian-American Council), Trita Parsi explains how the administration further unrolls the rock before the resurrection justification. "Rather than adjusting policy on Iran in accordance to the reality-check provided by the NIE, the President moved the goal post on Iran."

The Administration Is Coming at Iran from Every Which Way

This post, written by Russ Wellen, originally appeared on Scholars & Rogues

Some of the threatening actions the administration is taking against Iran have been well-covered by the media. These include calling for another round of UN sanctions on Iran for continuing to enrich -- at however slow a pace -- uranium, charging Iran with supporting anti-American militants in Iraq and designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist" group.

Also, the administration has proposed a $63 billion arms sale to Middle-Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that stand in opposition to Iran.

But, nothing if not comprehensive, the administration and those allied with it are attacking Iran from a multitude of other angles. Following are examples, most recent first, from just the last two weeks.

1. Ambassador Ryan Crocker took time off from extending the Iraq War to tell Iran, "We know what you're doing in Iraq. It needs to stop."

2. A delegation of 15 Iranian clergymen were denied visas by the State Department. So much for reciprocating a visit to Iran last February by a group of American Christian leaders.

3. At the request of the US, British forces withdrawn from Basra were sent to Iraq's border with Iran to interdict weapons that Iran is allegedly shipping to Shia militias in Iraq.

4. The California State Senate passed a bill requiring the California Public Employees Retirement System and California State Teachers' Retirement System to divest themselves of stocks totaling about $2 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, that they held in foreign companies doing business with Iran.

5. A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered Iran to pay $2.65 billion in compensation to the families of 241 Marines killed in the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing. Sure thing, says Ahmadinejad -- the check's in the mail.

6. The US is planning to build its first base, as well as fortified checkpoints with X-ray machines, near the Iraq-Iran border. As with the British deployment, it's intended to curb the flow of weapons from Iran to Shiite militants.

7. Senator Joe Lieberman's amendment to the Senate Foreign Operations bill was passed. It provides funding for "democracy assistance" to labor activists, women's groups, journalists and human rights advocates in Iran. Why not just paint a target on their backs? But, after the "democracy assistance" we provided Iraq, Iranians will probably pass on that.

8. In a similar vein, Representative Mark Steven Kirk introduced a bill condemning the persecution of labor rights advocates in Iran.

9. In an attempt to discredit the International Atomic Energy Agency's conciliatory-minded chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the Washington Post attacked him in an editorial entitled "Rogue Regulator." Considering that the term "rogue" is usually applied to states which have acquired nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it's an especially low blow.

Cheney Itches For a War With Iran

This post, written by Russ Wellen, originally appeared on Scholars & Rogues

In an article for McClatchy on Friday entitled "Bush, Congress could collide on Iran," Matt Stearns provides us with a ray of hope that, despite Cheney & Co.'s relentless efforts to mount one, an attack on Iran can still be averted.

"At a press conference Thursday," he writes, "Bush warned of unspecified 'consequences' if Iran's alleged interference in Iraq continues." But, given "the hindsight about the intelligence that led to the invasion of Iraq congressional authorization for a military strike [that] would be no easy sell. 'I think you'll find a lot of skeptical Republicans, no less Democrats, on the Hill,' said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Highlighting Democratic wariness of Bush, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced a bill earlier this year that would prevent money from being used for a strike against Iran without congressional approval."

Furthermore, as Kaveh Afrasiabi reports in an Asia Times Online piece posted Saturday entitled "US diplomacy with Iran is working": "After three rounds of face-to-face meetings, diplomats from both the US and Iran in Baghdad have reported tangible progress, by agreeing to set up joint expert committees, with participation by the officials of the Iraqi government."

Not only that, writes Dr. Afrasiabi, but if the "IAEA's reports of Iranians slowing down on the centrifuge program and openly entertaining the 'time out' option do not constitute progress and a major plus, then what does?"

But this is no time to relax our vigilance. As Dr. Afrasiabi reminds us, far from yielding to the diplomatic gains of the Rice and Gates faction, Cheney & Co. are "upping the ante against" Iran. Also, it was just mid-July that the Senate voted 97-0 for an amendment written by Joe Lieberman which states that "the murder [by Iran] of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act against the United States."
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