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The Race for Iran

AFGHANISTAN, IRAN, AND PETRAEUS’ REAL CHALLENGE

 

The Obama Administration’s determination simultaneously to inflict “pain” on the Taliban and on Iran to force both parties to negotiating tables on American terms will backfire.  It will, in fact, accelerate Afghanistan’s descent into renewed civil war—with a regional “proxy” war between Iran, on the one hand, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, on the other, added on.  

Last week, in announcing General Stanley McChrystal’s replacement as senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan by General David Petraeus, President Obama assured the American people that “this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy”.  As Senate confirmation hearings for Petraeus’ new appointment convene Tuesday, that is precisely what should worry the American people, for current policy is setting the stage for a resumption of full-scale civil war in Afghanistan—recreating the conditions under which Al-Qa’ida first established a safe-haven there in the 1990s. 

As America positions itself to begin withdrawing forces from Afghanistan next year, reality is slowly but inexorably forcing the Obama Administration to accommodate Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s drive for a political deal with the Taliban and its principal external backers, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  But, in the political and security vacuum that is today’s Afghanistan, Karzai’s effort is, as The New York Times reported Sunday, generating deep unease among leaders of the country’s Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities. 

Together, these communities comprise 45 percent of Afghanistan’s population—slightly higher than the Pashtuns’ 42 percent—and were the base for the so-called Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban in a civil war that raged from 1989 until the U.S. invasion in 2001.  Already, the leadership of these non-Pashtun communities—who also dominate the upper echelons of the Afghan military—are organizing to resist, by force, any serious attempt at power-sharing between Karzai’s government and the Taliban.       

A power-sharing arrangement including the Taliban is the only remotely plausible, stable political outcome in the medium-to-long term.  But, if General Petraeus’ appointment indeed represents a change in personnel but not in policy, then a replay of Afghanistan’s civil war along previously established lines will become increasingly likely, for two reasons. 

First, the Obama Administration continues to impose rigid conditions on the inclusion of Taliban elements in a political process—including renunciation of violence and acceptance of Afghanistan’s current constitution (including Western-inspired provisions on women’s rights).  Both the intent behind and the effect of these conditions is to exclude the Taliban’s most important leaders and constituencies.  This dooms the pursuit of a political settlement to failure.   

Second, the Obama Administration asserts it can compel the Taliban’s eventual participation in a political process on U.S. terms by imposing higher levels of military pressure (including “collateral damage” to a substantial number of Afghan civilians).  But, as U.S. military activity in Afghanistan escalates, the Taliban’s standing increases and popular resentment of what is increasingly perceived as a U.S. occupation grows.   

The only way for the United States to facilitate a prospectively stable power-sharing agreement is by dropping unrealistic “red lines” for Taliban participation and pursuing a genuinely regional strategy for Afghanistan’s stabilization.  Such a strategy would balance inclusion of the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, by simultaneously including the Taliban’s antagonists, backed by their external supporters.  These supporters include Russia, India, and—here is the catch, as far as Washington is concerned—Iran. 

Like the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara militias that it supported for years as parts of the Northern Alliance, Iran resists power-sharing with the Taliban, for three reasons.  First, the Taliban have traditionally persecuted Iran’s Afghan allies—especially the Shi’a Hazara—and have even murdered Iranian diplomats.  Second, Tehran sees the Taliban as a pawn for the expansion of Pakistani and Saudi influence in Afghanistan—a threatening scenario, from Iran’s perspective.  Third, our conversations with Iranian policymakers indicate they are deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions in Afghanistan and increasingly doubtful about America’s strategic and tactical competence there.  As a senior Iranian official asked us earlier this year, “If America wants to make a deal with the Taliban, why did it invade Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban in the first place?”    

Following 9/11, Iran worked with the United States on the short-term project of overthrowing the Taliban—with a long-term goal of prompting Washington to reconsider its hostile posture toward the Islamic Republic.  Under current circumstances, Iran would need to be persuaded to cooperate once again with the United States in Afghanistan—persuaded, in particular, that power-sharing could be done in a manner that addressed Tehran’s longstanding concerns about the Taliban, the regional balance of power, and U.S. intentions toward the Islamic Republic. 

This cannot be done while Washington is pursuing sanctions against Iran—however feckless they may be—and offering progressively less veiled support for regime change in Tehran (as opposed to Afghanistan).  Absent a strategic understanding between Washington and Tehran, the Islamic Republic will support its Afghan allies in resisting a Taliban onslaught backed by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia–making Afghanistan’s renewed civil war a proxy conflict among regional powers as well.

Initially, some thought that Obama’s appointment of Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan was a positive step.  Holbrooke had pursued a regional strategy to broker an internal power-sharing arrangement for Bosnia that was enshrined in the Dayton accords.  In his first months as Obama’s envoy, Holbrooke was, as one State Department official put it, “desperate” to engage Iran.  But, as the Obama Administration has turned away from even the pretense of interest in serious bargaining with Tehran, Holbrooke has gone with the flow.  And, even before returning to government service in 2009, Holbrooke had damaged his credibility as a potential interlocutor with Tehran as a founder of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a hawkish non-governmental initiative that supports further sanctions against Iran and publicly pressures Western companies to terminate their business ties to the Islamic Republic.  (Obama’s principal adviser on Iran at the National Security Council, Dennis Ross, was also a founder of UANI.)   

Success in Afghanistan—or even avoiding catastrophic failure there—requires more than a new general.  It requires a political strategy that recognizes and works with the integral connections between Afghanistan’s internal balance of power and the broader balance of power among major states in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. 

–by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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45 Responses to “AFGHANISTAN, IRAN, AND PETRAEUS’ REAL CHALLENGE”

  1. Mr Canning: “if a US president merely concludes the national security of the US is not at risk given the fact there is no evidence the Iranian goverment is trying to build nukes on the sly.”

    This is just naive – or disingenuous.

    You actually think Obama – or some future President (who? Palin? McCain? Clinton?) is just going to “review the evidence” and merely conclude that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program.

    They ALREADY KNOW THIS! If I and many others have “reviewed the evidence” and see nothing, what is causing the blinders on Obama? He can’t do a Google? He can’t read the 2007 NIE?

    Please. This is naivety at its worst. You’re simply not emotionally capable of accepting that the US is on an inevitable collision course with Iran. This is no surprise. Most people – especially a lot of “liberals” – are – which is why they keep saying Obama “means well” and keep giving him a pass and claiming that he really wants to “engage Iran”.

    Sorry – he doesn’t “mean well”. And he doesn’t intend to “engage Iran”. The parameters of how to do that are well understood and they have nothing to do with demanding Iran completely suspend enrichment.

    It’s past time to stop giving Obama the benefit of the doubt.

  2. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    No US president has to “pull the trigger” to start yet another idiotic military adventure in the Middle East. There is nothing in the way of “blinking” if a US president merely concludes the national security of the US is not at risk given the fact there is no evidence the Iranian goverment is trying to build nukes on the sly.

  3. Alan: I don’t see any US counter-maneuvering at all. Obama continues to ratchet up rhetoric and sanctions. While it is possible that he wishes to fob the actual war off on his successor, as I’ve suggested before, it’s clear that he is continuing ALL of the Bush policies against Iran, including ratcheting up covert operations, sending military assets into the region in advance of an attack, and so forth. Believing that Obama is fundamentally against attacking Iran is a big mistake. He may simply be delaying that attack until he can extricate himself from Afghanistan, while believing he can still achieve something in Afghanistan – which in itself is a farce.

    I really don’t understand this continued liberal worship of Obama, who has violated virtually every one of his campaign promises in regards to civil liberties, while at the same time enabling his worst foreign policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran. The man is nothing more than “Bush Lite” and I said so all during his campaign. I am now convinced that he is an absolutely direct LIAR and he has every intention of starting a war with Iran at Israel’s behest WHEN he feels he can do with regard to his re-election (which is always first in the mind of a politician).

    The only reason Bush didn’t attack Iran is because a) the Pentagon pushed back, and b) there was a risk that it would hurt the Republicans worse than the Democrats in the last election. As it turned out, it didn’t matter in the elections. There was also the issue of being blamed when the war goes badly, as the politicians KNOW it will. They just don’t care if it goes badly as long as the taxpayer war money flows to their supporters, BUT they DO care not to be BLAMED for it near election time. This is also the reason Israel hasn’t attacked Iran yet – they don’t want to be blamed for it IN THE US, hurting their dominance of the US Congress.

    Obama is just as likely to start a war with Iran as Bush was (if less likely than McCain would have had he been elected – McCain is a nut).

    He’s also just as likely to fob it off on his successor, assuming he doesn’t win re-election. But if he does win re-election, almost certainly he will start a war with Iran within his second term – because as I’ve said, there’s no way this farce of a “crisis” can be kept up for another six or seven years with no Iranian bomb in evidence. It’s already been going on for that long. Are we presuming that this “crisis” will go on until 2020 or 2030? I just can’t see it. The US public will be completely ignoring Iran as “boring” by that time. And Israel – and the Israel Lobby in the US – will be foaming at the mouth and funding Congressional candidates to support a war.

    There’s no way this can go on forever. One US President has to either blink or pull the trigger. There’s no third option absent a “grand bargain” which no US President will defy the Israel Lobby to do.

  4. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    I agree with you there is apparently an effort to ascertain public acceptance of stronger measures against Iran.

    Israel was using a Georgian base for drone flights over Iran. Turkey seems unlikely to allow Israeli planes to overfly Turkey to get to the base in Georgia (even assuming Georgia would allow it – - – an act of great irresponsibility, in my view).

  5. James Canning says:

    Iranian@Iran,

    I think the assumption Iran will not receive the 20% fuel needed for the Tehran rector, even when it follows the IAEA protocol, is a mistake.

    Iran is seeking to have Israel obliged to sign the NPT and to get nukes out of the Middle East. This effort is undermined by assuming the NPT and IAEA protocols will not proceed as they are meant to.

    Anyone with an idea of the cost of Iranian production of the 20% fuel plates? (As opposed to cost of buying them from France.)

  6. Alan says:

    Richard – or what you are seeing is Israeli manoeuvring and US counter-manoeuvring. I don’t see much hand in glove here.

  7. Iranian@Iran says:

    James Canning,

    Most Iranians as well as Iranian leaders do not believe that Iran will ever get the fuel unless they produce it themselves or the western powers recognize that Iran can produce it on its own. Iran has the technology and ability to do this and in any case this can be one response to the new sanctions.

  8. Rowan: Yes, I’m aware that Israel wanted bases in Georgia. I also don’t necessarily believe the report about the Saudi bases. I also know that carrier rotations are normal. Nonetheless, the point stands that the increase in rumors and/or news may indicate a deliberate attempt to heighten tensions with Iran or provide a public “run up the flag and see who salutes” PR campaign to condition the US public for a war with Iran. As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t the first time these rumors have been spread.

    Neither scenario is helpful.

  9. James Canning says:

    Iranian,

    I think Sergei Lavrov has been doing his best to achieve a negotiated, peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. Is it a good idea for Iran to ignore a reasonable request from Lavrov (and the Russians)?

    There is no guarantee Iran can produce the needed fuel plates, even if it spends a good deal of time, money and effort in attempting to build them. Shouldn’t Iran assume its request through the IAEA will be approved? (To obtain the plates from France)

  10. Iranian says:

    Iran should continue enriching Uranium at twenty percent until it actually receives fuel from abroad. Russia, France, and the US are unreliable partners.

  11. James Canning says:

    sam,

    Russia’s call for Iran to negotiate with France, the US and Russia, regarding the nuclear exchange, should be followed up immediately by the Iranians. And stopping enrichment to 20%, as specifically requested by Russia, makes complete good sense.

  12. sam says:

    {However, Iran will never stop her illegal enrichment and will not transfer to any }

    should READ: IRAN WILL NEVER STOP HER LEGAL ENRICHMEHNT AND….
    SORRY ABOUT THAt

  13. sam says:

    IRANIAN MUST EXPOSE THE GAME OF ILLETERATE ‘LEADERS’ IN WASHINGTON, THE LATEST, PROMOTING TURKEY, A US AND ZIONIST POPPET, TO ‘POWER OF THE REGION’ AGAINST Iran and by dirty game like cheap slogan by US puppet, Erdugon, to target Arab population.

    Foolish Erdugon must know that Arab population are NOT STUPID TO FALL FOR THE US DIRTY GAME AND ITS STOOGES, ERDUGON, IN ORDER TO BRING THE REGION UNDER CONTROL WITH TURKEY ‘LEADERSHIP’. People of the region including the Turks are fed up with the hegemon, weather is US, Israel or their stooges in different shapes and form, one of them EDRDUGAN and his foreign minister.

    Everyone will resist to your foolish plan.

  14. sam says:

    Everyone knows that the US and Turkey are play a game with everyone in the region. Erdugan with his stupid cheap slogan to “support” Palestine is nothing but HOAX. Everyone said it hundred times. This foolish game is designed to STEAL THE POPULARFITY OF IRAN AMONG ABRA POPULATION. EVERY FOOL KNOWS THAT. ERDUGON AND ZIONIST STOOGES IN WASHINGTON CAN FOOL NO ONE EXCEPT THEMSELVES.

    However, Iran will never stop her illegal enrichment and will not transfer to any other fucking country including the Turks. Erdugon is better come clean and like Russian do not put the knife on Iran’s back. Iran has said is willing to negotiate and will resume it in a few week. Stupid Erdugan MUST STOP SPREADING HIS CHEAP SLOGAN AROUND. YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED FULLY.
    NO ONE LIKE IRANIANS SUPPORTED PALESTINE BECAUSE THEY THINK IT SERVES THE INTEREST OF REGION.

    TURKEY IS BETTER TO STOP HER STUPID GAME OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES. OBAMA IS BETTER TO STOP HIS STUPID POLICY RUNS BY THE ZIONISTS AND ACT AS A LEADER NOT A PUPPET. HE SHOULD RECOGNIZE IRAN AS A NATURAL ALLIES AND STOP INFLUENCING IRAN THROUHG TURKEY. HE MUST BE LITERATE ENOUGH THAT IRAN IS AN ANCIENT COUNTRY WITH MORE THAN 7000 YEARS OF CIFVILIZATION AND IS NOT GOING TO BE FOOLED BY KID ON THE BLOCK.
    SHAME ON ILLETRATE ‘LEADERS’.

    IRANIANS ARE FED UP WITH SO MUCH HYPOCROCY AND DOUBLE STANDARD AND DIRTY GAMES, LIKE US/TURKEY, RUSSIANS AND OTHERS. IRAN NEVER WILL SURROUND, EVER. WE RESPECT INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ARE COMMITTED TO TI.

    IT IS THE AXIS OF EVIL, US-ISRAEL-BRITAIN WHO HAVE VIOLATED THE INTERENATIONAL LAW AND USING COUNTGRIES IN THE REGION TO BRING IRAN DOWN

    ANY FOOL KNOWS THAT IRAN WITH MORE THAN 7000 YEARS OF CIVILIZATION CREATED THE FIRST EMPIRE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE WORLD AND HAS BEEN THE POWER IN THE REGION.
    KIDS WHO HAVE HIDE THEIR FACE UNDER ‘LEADER4′ MUST LEARN THIS FACT AND ACT UPON IT AND COME CLEAN AND STOP DIRTY GAME TO NEGOCIATE WITH GOOD FAITH, NOT USING COUNTRIES, LIKE TURKEY TO PUSH IRAN BACK. IRANIANS HATE IT AND WILL EXPOSE IT FULLY.

  15. Paul,

    You make some interesting comments, which I hope will continue. But, absent some explanation which presently escapes me, you sound like the very sort of “alterna-pundit” you warn us to be on the lookout for: those who take a strong anti-US government stand on one narrow element of the Iran debate but otherwise fan the flames of war. You limit your warning to those writers who help to obscure (what you believe to be) the Obama administration’s warlike intentions, which you say will be revealed only when it is too late: “If one observes carefully, one notices that each alterna-pundit specializes in a particular fragment of the truth, but for the rest, they stick to a variation of the ‘approved’ script, that script being that US leadership doesn’t really want war…”

    Accepting for the sake of argument that the Obama administration has the warlike intentions you ascribe to it, helping to obscure that warlike intent is only one of several ways that a dangerous “alterna-pundit” might contribute to the march toward war. Another form of contribution, which concerns me greatly because it was so important in selling the US’ two current wars to the American public, is the “no muss, no fuss” prediction about a US or Israeli attack on Iran. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a rosier prediction than yours:

    “I think a lot of pundits are wrong to claim that an attack on Iran will lead to widespread problems. … I think that any attempts by Iran to defend itself will be unavailing. … The whole thing can be basically over in 24 hours, with minimal fallout even in the Persian Gulf, much less elsewhere.”

    Would the US government have been able to “sell” the Iraq war to the US public if it had told them we’d be there seven years and counting, or that we’d still be in Afghanistan 9 years later with no end in sight? Possibly, but I doubt it. In both cases, the American public was told almost precisely what you predict above for Iran, and that “no muss, no fuss” prediction helped a great deal to tip the scales toward war.

    Should we be worried about you?

  16. Castellio says:

    Paul: Obama fronts for extremely powerful American elites. And he fronts for them well. He is exactly NOT the change he said he was. His run for Presidency wasn’t a “leap”.

  17. Down with enemy of Iran says:

    {Left without even rudimentary self defense, Iran will presumably be unable to prevent US air attack from suppressing and destroying the Revolutionary guard; in conjunction with this,}

    Palu; SHUT UP AND GET LOST, enemy. Shame on you

  18. James Canning says:

    Patrick Foy has some meritorious commments on why the US should get out of its military adventure in Afghanistan today on takimag.com” McChrystal’s Firing Not Worth a Footnote”.
    http://www.takimag.com/site/article/mccrystals_firing_not_worth_a_footnote/

  19. James Canning says:

    Rehamt,

    Don’t miss Arianna Huffington’s piece today (June 30th), arguing cogently for ending the US military adventure in Afghanistan.

  20. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    The Huffington Post was not endorsing the “delisting” of the MEK as a terrorist organization, by carrying the story. I agree with you Obama should not do so.

  21. Pak says:

    Dear Fiorangela,

    Thank you for the interesting link you provided regarding the MKO. I found the rally and the attention it received very unusual, and needed some direction as to why the incident raised my suspicions.

  22. Rehmat says:

    The Huffington Post, earlier this month posted an article written by Ali Safavi advising Ben Obama to follow EU and UK lead and delist MEK as terrorist organization – as MEK would be the most effective foreign tool against Islamic regime in Tehran. When the Huffington Post endorce something like that, we know who is putting words in its mouth.

    As far as why MEK was declared a terrorist organization – not for Washington’s love for Iranian – but because: “During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran,” US State Department Report released on October 8, 1999.

  23. James Canning says:

    In my view, the growing profile of the US military presence in Afghanistan, causes as much or more unrest as it is able to quieten. With Russia, China and Iran all in agreement that there is no military solution, is it not extreme arrogance for General Petaeus to represent to the American people that such a “solution” in fact is available, and that what is needed us years and years more effort (at horrific cost financially)?

  24. James Canning says:

    Achieving minimum stabilty in Afghanistan is impossible without substantial help from Iran. Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross have played deliberate roles in preventing rapprochment between Iran and the US, not least by promoting sanctions. Their stupidity, in turn, is helping to ensure failure of the colossal US effort in Afghanistan.

  25. Cyrus says:

    Just FYI — Phil Weiss’ comment that the MEK was placed on the US State Department terrorism list “as a gesture to Khatami” is not factually supported and is one of the may falsehoods that become true by mere repetition. It may have occured while Khatami was in power and reaching out to the US, but that’s just coincidence. The list came into existence in 1997; the MEK wasn’t “added” to it, it was a charter member. Prior to the existence of the list, the US STate Department regularly identified the MEK as a terrorist organization in its Patterns of Global Terrorism report. That, and the pre-existing Congressional Research Service reports on the MEK, and the FBI’s open source review on the MEK drafted at the behest of Sen. MCain (who included it into the Congressional Record as a warning to fellow Congressmen to avoid the MEK) all labelled the MEK as a terrorist organization, prior to the 1997 list’s existence. In short, the MEK was not listed as a terrorist organization for no reason or as a political ploy. It is in fact a terrorist organization.

  26. Fiorangela says:

    Paul, of course, Iranian lives are expendable — collateral damage, don’t you know.

    And given the cavalier attitude toward Iranian antiquities expressed by Great Britain, who refuses to comply with its part of the bargain in returning to Iran numerous ancient artifacts, and the truly ugly attitude of American Jews who seek the auction of Iranian antiquities held at University of Chicago, it is not likely that an argument that an attack on nuclear facilities at Isfehan would endanger the UNESCO World Heritage status of Isfehan.

    pfff.

    What does anyone care about Persian antiquities if one does not value the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Iranian and Iraqi and Afghani and Palestinian citizens?

    The strategy of a massive movement of Americans to Iran, to act as human shields which the US would not dare to attack, seems to have been obviated by US unconcern over Israel’s killing of 34 US sailors aboard SS Liberty; Israel’s killing of US citizen Rachel Corrie; Israel’s killing of US citizen Furkan Dogan; Israel’s wounding of Jewish American citizen Emily Henochowicz. The zionist maw must be fed. That is all that matters.

  27. Pirouz says:

    Paul, these rotations are a common practice. Nothing out of the ordinary.

  28. Pirouz says:

    Just as I expected, Rowan.

  29. paul says:

    Naturally, whatever Centcom says is alway unvarnished truth, and of course, a rotation cannot also be a way to concentrate forces… !!!!

    … one really never has to debunk debunkers. They always pretty much debunk themselves.

  30. paul says:

    Rehmat, the thing is, both the US and the Israeli political/media establishments seem to prefer to double down on a bad policy, no matter how brutal and unethical that may be, than to acknowledge that there might be a more enlightened and sensible way … sincere negotiations could bring about settlements between Israel and the Palestinians and between the US and Iran, probably in no time. But war somehow always seems to be a much easier pill for ‘elites’ to swallow than sincere negotiations.

  31. CENTCOM have informed me that the arrival of a third battle group in the seas south of Iran is just a rotation. This is what they said:

    Here is the press release from Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, on the turnover between USS Eisenhower and USS Truman Carrier Strike Groups:
    http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/articles/2010/066.html
    It is unfortunate that DEBKA continues to push these conspiratorial bulletins, without so much as mentioning these basic, and easily available, facts. It is also worth noting that these carrier turnovers have been occurring in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility quite regularly, and for quite some time.

  32. Fiorangela says:

    Adam, What do you make of the arrest of Russian spies in US? Given the capacity for US tolerance of Israeli spies (Franklin, Weissman), is is appropriate to expect that Obama will have used the knowledge of these spies to his advantage to gain Russian support for sanctions on Iran, then all will be forgiven, after the US herd has exhausted the titillation value of the spectacle?

  33. paul says:

    Slightly off topic, re. the War on Iran, I think a lot of pundits are wrong to claim that an attack on Iran will lead to widespread problems. Rather, I think the Obama administration has done a brilliant job of coercing, bribing, and manipulating into being a widespread consensus that is in favor of an attack on Iran, or that at least tolerates such an attack. I think that any attempts by Iran to defend itself will be unavailing. Its most critical defensive weapons systems are, as I understand it, the sunburn anti-ship missiles and the TOR anti-air batteries, but Russia and China will surely have provided to Obama and Israel the necessary technical information to defeat those systems. Left without even rudimentary self defense, Iran will presumably be unable to prevent US air attack from suppressing and destroying the Revolutionary guard; in conjunction with this, I expect that the Rafsanjani/Mousavi faction will sieze power in Tehran, claiming (rightly, no doubt) that this is the only way to save the Islamic Republic. The whole thing can be basically over in 24 hours, with minimal fallout even in the Persian Gulf, much less elsewhere.

    I suspect that at this point, the only remaining argument against war is an argument based on principle: it will be a war of aggression, though – as always – defense will be claimed as the justification. Since principle is always an excuse and never a reason in political affairs, no one will care. One way or another, the war will surely happen this summer, as Obama and the Dems need a big pickmeup before the November election. I suspect that the only remaining obstacle, apart from all the pieces possibly not quite being in place, may be Obama’s diffidence. He is not someone who likes to take chances. But as his run for president shows, he IS willing to take a leap, if he’s pretty sure everything is lined up so as to make success almost inevitable.

  34. Rehmat says:

    Fiorangela – Unfortunately, at mondoweiss one may be allowed to express his anti-Zionist sentiments, but cannot support Iranian position against the Zionist entity. After 6-months, they could not stand my support of Islamic Republic.

    Here is a latest interview, Gilad Atzmon gave to Miriam Cotton of MediaBite (Ireland).

    http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/touching-left-islam-israeli-lobby-chomsky-and-many-other-hot.html

  35. Fiorangela says:

    Rehmat, the state of critical thinking ability on the part of US leaders is frightening. Zionists must laugh themselves silly watching these foolish men scurry to gather up crumbs of ziocaine; these guardians of the unique form of government which Adams, Madison, and Jefferson created at the risk of their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.”

    American leadership is not willing to risk the next election much less their “sacred honor.”

  36. Fiorangela says:

    Israel’s Iranian Opposition

    I haven’t searched for mention in US media of this rally in France, sponsored by MEK and attended by John Bolton and Spain’s Aznar.

    Phil Weiss at mondoweiss does a heckuva a job informing his forum, and his forum members usually provide even more information and insight than Phil himself.

    For example, one commenter to the linked article observed that inasmuch as MEK is on US State Department Terror watchlist, Bolton should be subject to arrest for supporting a terror network.

    Background information on Aznar was also instructive: He’s the guy who stood w Bush to formally launch the war on Iraq, 2003; Aznar is of the Falangist party: related to the perpetrators of the massacre at Sabra & Shatila, which Ariel Sharon oversaw and protected, and which incited the formation of Hezbollah AND, in retaliation for which the Marine barracks in Beirut was bombed, an act which Israelis cite as yet another in their list of uncaused events, that is laid at the feet of Iran, branding Iran a “terror state.”

    Anybody? Are you listening?

  37. Adam says:

    It doesn’t matter what Obama wants to do or what he thinks because he’s not really in charge. It’s the world elite, in cahoots with the CIA, that call the shots. Consider this – before the invasion of Afghanistan, there was virtually no opium production because the Taliban had destroyed all the crops. After the invasion of Afghanistan by America, opium production (aided by the CIA went) through the roof. The money was then (and continues today) funneled to Wall Street where it was laundered.

    Just take a look at history, everywhere the CIA goes, drug production goes through the roof. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the people who run Wall St. Dig deep enough and you’ll see every single one of them has links to the CIA.

  38. Rehmat says:

    paul…. Yes, Dr. Ahmadinejad never mentioned the word “Israel” once in his disputed speech. He talked about the demise of the Zionist regime in the Middle East. It was the Israeli MEMRI which translated his speech to provide a new smoking gun to the Zionist entity – which like the “Six MillionDied” – has become the new Jewish religion.

    Interestingly, no mainstream media has mentioned CIA’s prediction of Israel being doomed as state in the near future.

    According to Palestine al-Youm website, the CIA in the report predicted that formation of two separate countries for Palestinians and Israelis is impracticable, instead, a one-state solution would be offered which would be based on democratic principles of full equality aside from race and nationality.

    It added a comprehensive and lasting solution is the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 Palestinian refugees to their homeland.

    The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of individuals, further forecast the return of all Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israelis – who would move to the US in the next 15 years.

    Meanwhile, International lawyer Franklin Lamb said “There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than 300,000 living in the area of just California,” adding that those who do not have American or Western passport, have already applied for them.

    Palestine al Youm reported CIA had already predicted the quick fall of the apartheid government in South Africa and disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, suggesting the end to the dream of an ‘Israeli land’ would happen sooner or later.

    The study further predicted the return of over one and a half million Israelis to Russia and other parts of Europe.

    It added the number of the Israeli births has been declined whereas the Palestinian population is rising.

    Some members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have been informed of the report.

    http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=193528

  39. paul says:

    ‘Experts’ continue to sneer at those who raise the alarms about immanent attacks on Iran. Such experts are to be ignored. As we have seen for years now, alterna-pundits invariably play the role of safety valves, making sure that a critical mass of domestic opposition to US war policy never happens. They will portray Obama’s blatant WAR POLICY towards Iran as a peace policy, right up until the war breaks out. Then it will be truly interesting to observe as they don’t miss a beat, just the same way that neocons have shown that no matter how wrong you are, being a pundit means never having to say you are sorry.

    If one observes carefully, one notices that each alterna-pundit specializes in a particular fragment of the truth, but for the rest, they stick to a variation of the ‘approved’ script, that script being that US leadership doesn’t really want war, really wants peace and stability, only they are a bit confused. Alternapundits try to sell us some version of this narrative: Obama wants peace, but his policy choices are a bit misguided. He’s a tad confused.

    We are all so desperate to hear voices from the US political establishment, even from the margins of it, who will talk about the reality we see, which is a reality of willfully endless warmaking, that all an alternapundit has to do is flash a fragment of truth for us to go gaga over them. The Leverettes talk reality about the Green Coup, which virtually no one else does. Everything else they have to say is pretty much smoke and mirrors. Gareth Porter talks reality about Iran’s generally solid adherence to its NPT obligations. Beyond that, he’s a key merchandizer of the Obama-As-Secret-Peacemaker myth. Juan Cole was right that Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’. Beyond that, his main function is to keep FauxGressives from jumping ship from supporting the occupations, now that the Dems are in charge, and to lay propaganda groundwork for the attack on Iran by using the Green Revolution smear to demonize Iran.

    Do not trust alternapundits who talk reality on one or two points, but on everything else try to sell you the same old smoke and mirrors.

  40. kooshy says:

    Who’s Protecting U.S. Convoys, Supply Lines in Afghanistan?
    By ROBERT BAER Robert Baer

    .Measuring a quagmire is mostly guesswork. But a congressional report released last Monday, June 21, on the U.S.’s supply lines in Afghanistan comes close to putting at least one number on it: the $2.16 billion we pay a year to extortion rackets to protect U.S. truck convoys. What the problem comes down to is that in paying off Afghans to protect our supply lines, we have created a vast slush fund for bribery, extortion, heroin trafficking and murder. And it’s all but certain that some of the money ends up in the pockets of the Taliban. In other words, we’re paying for the bullets and bombs that kill our own soldiers.

    The report, titled “Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Across the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan,” is well worth reading in its entirety, if for no other reason than to get a glimpse of just how little ground we control in Afghanistan. For lack of troops and an absence of Afghan government authority, we’ve had no choice but to outsource security for 70% of our logistic lines to Afghans we know almost nothing about. For instance, the warlord in charge of security for supply convoys between Kabul and Kandahar apparently is known by only one name. He has connections to the Karzai family, but beyond that, he’s a mystery. He’s never been met by an American contracting officer, and his only meeting with any American officer was in a botched drug arrest. (He denies trafficking in narcotics.) Our ignorance about this man is all the more astonishing considering that the fate of any operation to retake Kandahar depends upon him. What if, in the middle of the battle, he joins the Taliban and cuts off supplies? (See how crime pays for the Taliban.)

    What’s just as amazing is that the Administration understands the problem and has done nothing to correct it. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last December, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bluntly put it this way: “One of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money.” (See and listen to an audio slide show on the two worlds in Afghanistan.)

    The other U.S. supply route into Afghanistan – the independent states of ex-Soviet Central Asia – isn’t much more dependable. Kyrgyzstan, which leases us the Manas base that serves as a resupply hub for the Bagram air base, is teetering on the abyss. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said on Friday, June 25, that Kyrgyzstan is facing near certain disintegration. But that’s not the end of it. The Kyrgyz subcontractors who supply fuel to Manas are caught up in bribery scandals, which very well could lead to our losing access to Manas when a new government rises to power and decides to seriously investigate them. (Will violence in Kyrgyzstan draw in Russia and the U.S.?)

    It is all the more ominous when this is put into historical context. The last general in landlocked Afghanistan to cede control of his logistics was William Elphinstone, who in January 1842 lost not only an army but also his life retreating across what should have been secure logistic lines. During the Soviet Union’s 1979-89 invasion of Afghanistan, apparently absorbing Elphinstone’s lesson, the Red Army made certain to provide its own troops to protect its supplies.

    Another reason this congressional report is worth reading is that it gives us a glimmer of just how blind we are in Afghanistan. American military contracting officials haven’t met the Afghan warlords protecting our convoys because they don’t feel safe enough to get off base. Which leads to another question: If we know so little about the Afghans we outsource our supply lines to, supposedly our allies in the conflict, how much do we really know about the Taliban? When CIA Director Leon Panetta said on Sunday that a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban is probably not going to work, he’s no doubt right. But it’s just good guesswork.

  41. Richard, I find it odd that you repeat the rumour about Israel using Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk base, despite the fact (which I have pointed out twice) that the supposed original source of this rumour, Fars News Agency, has no mentions of it at all on its english language web site, while ignoring the much more plausible reports about Israel basing planes in Azerbaijan. I would interpret Turkey’s decision to close its airspace to the Israeli military as a response to this, since it seems that Israel was flying planes across Turkey to Georgia, from which they were being advanced to Azerbaijan, without clearance. Also, if an attack on Iran is indeed ‘imminent’, as many claim, then Turkey would not wish to be seen as a direct accessory to it. I don’t mind, of course, if people ignore what I am telling them, but if an attack takes place, it will be interesting to note how warnings of its imminence were ignored.

    Rehmat: according to Debka, we now have three US battle groups in the Indian Ocean: the Truman group, the Eisenhower group, and now a third group, the Nassau group.

  42. Rumors of an imminent attack on Iran have been increasing in recent weeks. We have US and Israeli warships moving into the Red Sea, we have at least two US aircraft carriers in position near the Gulf, we have rumors of the Saudis offering overflight freedom to Israel’s air force, and Iranian rumors of Israel establishing an actual military base in Saudi Arabia, and we have Panetta claiming that Iran has enough material to make two bombs (while ignoring the fact that it’s low-enriched and CANNOT be made into weapons grade material.)

    None of this is much more than we’ve seen in the past and much of it is rumor, but again the situation is this: Unless Israel and/or Obama do something militarily about Iran within Obama’s term of office, in four years with no Iranian bomb in evidence the case for military intervention is going to get increasingly thinner and more ludicrous. Therefore I continue to be concerned that Obama and/or Israel is going to make a military move against Iran in the near term – within Obama’s term of office. The only alternative is Obama fobbing off the problem to his successor as Bush did.

    But this cannot go on forever, and the Israelis won’t like it if it does. So either Israel has to blink and allow Iran to enrich, or they have to make a move, or force the US to make a move. I see no third alternative.

  43. Pirouz says:

    This latest piece by the Leverett’s make perfect sense.

    Please, keep up the good work.

  44. Rehmat says:

    Petraeus’s job in Afghanistan is no diffrent than he did in Afghanistan. Lie, Lies and Lies – for the benefit of Zionist entity. He was called “a military poodle of Zionism” by professor James Petras for Gen. Petreaus’ performance in Iraq.

    However, both the Taliban (controlling 80% of the country) and Islamic Republic is way ahead of the game.

    How paranoid these ZOG leaders are of their Iranophobia – can be judged by Israel daily, Ha’aretz’s report that the members of G8 (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Russia and Japan) devoted much of their two-day session in discussing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear threat to Israel by country’s non-existent nuclear arsenal. On June 19, the same newspaper reported that 12 US and Israeli warships were seen moving through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea – to protect the Strait of Harmuz…..

    http://rehmatpedia.islamunity.net/?p=1115