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The Race for Iran

IS AMERICA’S TRADITIONAL GRAND STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST OVER?

Photo by AP/Alex Brandon

Our esteemed contributor, Arnold Evans, has written a comment that we think should be featured as a stand-alone piece.   Arnold’s piece puts the transformative events that are going on in the Middle East right now in a rich and sharply drawn historical context, and draws out provocative implications regarding the future direction of U.S. policy in the region.  As Arnold insightfully argues, U.S. strategy in the Middle East is at crossroads.

By Arnold Evans

The US has to a greater or lesser degree since the foundation of Israel and/or the end of the British colonial empire worked to ensure a balance of power in the region of the Middle East.  By balance of power, I mean it has had as a goal preventing one power, for example Iran from being in a position to overrun, for example, Arabia and coordinating the large stock of resources in a way that could directly or in alliance with any rival be harmful or threatening to the US.

This is not unique to the Middle East.  Germany and France should, according to US principles, each be unable to impose control over the other, Brazil and Argentina, Japan, Korea and China all should be roughly in balance.  Just enough that none of the powers are able to use the resources available as a unit in a way that could potentially harm the US.

What is unique to the Middle East is that there is a tiny country that the US has to a greater or lesser degree since its foundation, felt a responsibility to maintain.  This is important because, for example, Arabia has a lot of oil and plenty of resources that it can remain independent of Iran, make sure it is not worth Iran’s while to try to capture – except that an Arabia that is too strong, could and would render Israel non-viable.

So while the US pursues a balance of power strategy, in the Middle East it pursues a strategy of a balance of artificially weak powers.  Arabia has to be both immune from domination by Iraq or Iran and also weak enough not to threaten Israel.

Saddam Hussein, for his own reasons that are very interesting but tangential to this discussion was willing to attack Iran after Iran removed itself from the US colonial structure by expelling the Shah.  The United States and its remaining regional colonies supported Hussein in this attack as an effort toward “dual containment”.

By the time the war was over Iraq and Iran were both weakened.  The US plan for Iraq was that it was to remain weak indefinitely because of service of war debts to the US colonies, low oil prices and lastly Kuwait – at US direction – would actually pump and sell oil from under Iraqi territory.

When the Iran-Iraq war ended, the US did not need an active war in Iraq or Iran.  Both were sufficiently weak and could be kept so through various methods of indirect economic warfare – sanctions and oil policies of the more reliable colonies.

Hussein attempted to break out of Iraq’s containment by attacking Kuwait. I’ve read the report of the US ambassador to Iraq who some say encouraged Hussein to attack and I do not get that impression at all.  While there were probably warning signs, Hussein’s attack on Kuwait was unexpected and potentially threatening to the balance of powers that are artificially weak enough not to threaten Israel in the region.

The United States responded by directly intervening to remove Iraq from Kuwait and then by imposing sanctions far more brutal than those currently imposed by the US and Israel on Gaza.  The United States limited the supply of protein to Iraqi civilians as well as water treatment technology and caused the premature deaths of over one million Iraqis.

Which brings us to 2000.

The reason for the sanctions, indeed for the encouragement by the US and its colonies of the Iran-Iraq war was to maintain a balance of power where countries in the region are too weak to threaten each other or Israel which is a tiny territory with a small concentrated population.  The rationale of the sanctions was that Iraq had not complied with demands to remove any “weapons of mass destruction”.

Iraq had complied with those demands.  Iraq publicly and unambiguously stated on every possible occasion that it did not have them.  Once sanctions were over, Iraq, as every country, would have had the capacity to rebuild its stocks.  The United States, as it currently is regarding Iran, deliberately lied and effectively pressured the IAEA to go along with its lies in order to prevent Iraq from reaching a post-sanction state where it would be able to rebuild itself beyond the boundaries required in the US’ balance of artificially weak powers strategy for the region.

It is also very interesting though mostly tangential to this discussion exactly how the US works itself into lying about Iraq’s weapons.  It involves shifting definitions, presenting Iraq as a demon unworthy of any defense at all, tying the sanctions effort to anti-Semitism.  The United States worked itself into a frenzy and some of the Americans lying about Iraq could have easily passed lie detector tests or comfortably put their hands on stacks of bibles partly because they believed what they were saying, partly because they felt justified in making any possible negative statement about Iraq, just to be sure.

So what the United States faced in 2000 was a situation where the justification of the sanctions was wearing thinner, the effects of the sanctions were disgusting enough that it was becoming increasingly difficult for the United States to get cooperation in maintaining them and Hussein was developing ways to advance state aims despite the sanctions, and these methods would only become more effective over time.

The situation when George W. Bush came to office was actually sustainable from the US/Israel point of view for the most part.  Iraq was not going to be a threat to capture Kuwait or Arabia for an extended period of time even if it became better at managing the sanctions against it.  The situation though, was not optimal.  The US would have preferred Iraq be ruled by someone more like Mubarak, or Iran’s previous Shah or the leaders of the members of the US colonial structure in the region such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.

Iraq could provide resources for anti-Israel groups and was an irritant but not a strategic threat and the pertinent question would have been would it be worth the cost to remove Hussein?  The answer in 1991 was no.  The US did not occupy the country.  That remained the answer through the Clinton administration and I think may have remained the answer to this day if there had been no 9/11 attack.

The 9/11 attacks unleashed in the United States a desire for vengeance against Muslims and against Arabs that Bush decided could be directed against Iraq.  Iraq was not in any conceivable way a threat to the United States and was an irritant but not a strategic threat to Israel. 

(As an aside, Iran, in showing how to prepare a group to actually hold its ground in full conflict with Israel, is moving from irritant to actual strategic threat to Israel, though it is not nearly as threatening as it would be if it, or a country anything as close to its people in policy preferences as Iran is was located, say, where Egypt is located.)

However, with the United States in a mood to avenge an attack by Arabs and Muslims and a figure in Ahmed Chalabi who seemed at the time to be willing and able to be for Iraq what Mubarak was for Egypt, an invasion of Iraq became feasible.

Here I also want to talk about the US vision of democracy.  Iraq was, by the 2003 US plan, to be a managed democracy, the way Afghanistan is.  US approved candidates would run essentially unopposed.  Political parties potentially hostile the US and Israel would be banned.  Joe Biden said, nearly at the height of the Tahrir Square protests, that Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator.  The intention in 2003 was for Chalabi to fill that position for Iraq – which would be, from the US point of view, a tremendous improvement over Hussein.

The WMD had just been a pretext to impose sanctions to savagely punish the Iraqi nation for attempting to break out of the balance of artificially weak powers the US maintains in the Middle East out of necessity for Israel.  When the US decided it might as well replace Hussein with Chalabi, the pretext moved over to a justification for an invasion.  That pretext had been transparently false ever since the George H.W. Bush administration said to the New York Times that it would not lift the sanctions as long as Hussein remained in power, regardless of removing any WMD.

Iraq’s Shiites, Sistani, and the remnants of Iraq’s military in their insurgency prevented the US from installing Chalabi as a stooge “not a dictator” against all expectations in the US in 2003.  How that happened is also an interesting but tangential story.

Which brings us to today.

The 2003 US project to turn Iraq into 2010 Egypt or 1978 Iran failed and the US has no hope of salvaging it.  Maintaining a balance of power in the medium term now pretty much means abandoning Israel and letting Arabia really develop an indigenous military capacity to hold its own balance.

Obama expressed hope that this situation could be avoided by reaching a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian conflict that would grant Israel legitimacy in the region so that a developed Arabia and region would not be a threat.  That hope, always unrealistic, has now been dashed except in the minds of the most stubborn supporters of Israel.

Obama also hopes that the US can trigger an economic crisis in Iran that can be exploited to remove Iran’s current government and replace it with one that rules in opposition to the values of the Iranian people the way the Shah did or Mubarak did Egypt.  Iran has been through externally imposed economic crises before.  This hope is also unrealistic – the vigorous efforts of people like George Soros and our own Scott Lucas notwithstanding.

The United States expended a tremendous amount of resources intervening in Iraq and, contrary to its expectations, failed.  If the United States was to try again in Iran, Syria and Iraq again, it would not have the expectations it had in 2003 it would just be knowingly throwing resources away.  We are not going to see that.  We are going to see the United States remove itself over the next 20 years from its balance of artificially weak powers strategy as gracefully as it can given Israel’s position in its domestic political situation, on terms as favorable as it can manage for Israel and for the Jewish people of Israel.

How favorable the most favorable terms the US can manage actually are remains to be seen.  But the 1948-2003 US Middle East strategy is over.

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83 Responses to “IS AMERICA’S TRADITIONAL GRAND STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST OVER?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    About Iranian and Western Ideologies and Double Moral Standards:

    http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/11362

  2. Humanist says:

    Castellio, James

    James has show he know a lot about the history of ME. But is he sure how and why the US invasion took place?

    Of course if one asks the people of the world why US invaded Iraq he/she is not going to get identical answers from everyone. Some would say because of ‘oil’, others could point fingers to ‘Israel’ yet most might include both. I imagine few insiders who have the critical knowledge about who are the real powers who are pulling the strings in the Political centers of USA might assertively give you a different reply.

    Even among those who believe it was because of the ‘oil’ factor some might mention ‘profits of oil’ others might put ‘controlling the supply of oil’ on top of their list and so on.

    If I ask you to assign numbers to the names (or words) mentioned above, would you say something like Israel 50%, oil 50%. And then are you sure most of those in your category agree with your numbers? And can you with absolute certainty defend your stand? I can’t. I admit this is because I don’t know everything I wish I knew, especially about the ‘top secret behind the scene components’.

    Most times my predictions are wrong but as US was preparing for that war I predicted, a quick US win and then lots of US casualties. When years later I was asked how I could envisage that I explained something like this “Just by rules of nature. For every action there is a reaction. First Gulf War took Iraq decades back, nearly all of the infrastructure of country was converted to rebels. US/UN imposed sanctions caused historically painful deaths for a million Iraqis. Kuwait war and Highway of Death killed over 300’000 Iraqis (according to Ramsey Clark). G.H.Bush’s encouragement to rise up against Saddam and then his retreating caused enormous suffering for Kurd and Shi’a sects…etc. So what could one expect? Throwing flowers towards the invading troops? What would Americans have done if the position of Iraq and US was reversed?”.

    I consider myself just a typical curios skeptic News junky. If I could see what was going to happen with about 60 to 70% certainty, don’t you think astute analyst in anti-US circles were more certain than me and THEY did whatever they could to encourage US to invade Iraq?

    I still maintain “Iraq war changed the history of the world and with a high probability we still do not know the WHOLE story of why US invaded Iraq”. Of course I am not absolutely sure on that, but that is just the present state of my amateur mind.

  3. Castellio says:

    Humanist, I appreciate your thoughts and the directions to which you point.

    I think the information on the attrack on Iraq is actually quite clear. The Office of Special Plans was set up precisely to lead to the invasion. We know who set it up, who was on it, and the effect it had.

    The reality of the decisions for the invasion of Iraq are not, actually, shrouded in secrecy. Neither in the US nor the UK.

    They are only hard to admit because, having admitted it, one can do nothing about it. The guilty have been rewarded for their crimes. Many prefer clouds of metaphysical uncertainty to an acknowledgment of political impotence.

  4. Castellio says:

    Ah, but James, the history of the Project for a New American Century and the surprisingly honest statement by Podhoretz are all being written out of the historical narrative. Surprisingly enough, even in blogs like this.

    Apparently, there was a terrorist attack on American soil and the American people were so angry that their leaders decided to invade Afghanistan and Iraq to drain the swamp and bring democracy.

    You repeat a lie often enough, it begins to stick.

    And then, to close the circle, act confused when policies based on false information never bring the desired result.

  5. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    Wasn’t the Project for a New American Century a PR scam intended to deceive the grossly ignorant American public into spending trillions of dollars to enable Israel to keep the West Bank and the Golan Heights?

  6. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    One of the Founding Fathers of the Neocons, Norman Podhoretz, was John McCain’s foreign policy (ME) adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign, and he said in Kirkland, Washington State, that the purpose of the Iraq War was to create a stable ally of Israel and the US.

    All the blather about WMD was intended to achieve the duping of the president, his grossly incormpent National Security Advisor, the sec of State, and of course the American people. And to set up the required “deniability” to protect the Cheney gang (of lawyers who conspired to set up the illegal war).

  7. Humanist says:

    On the question of “how and why US invaded Iraq?” what crosses my mind hovers around four topics of “Arrogant Imperialism, Israel, Oil and ignorance of the forces behind the human evolution”.

    How should the above extremely important question debated? There are tow approaches:

    1- If students of History in different countries such as US, Europe, Israel, India, China, Iran etc are asked to write their thesis on any of the above subjects, with high probability, they might come up with different descriptions, interpretations, even with drastically different conclusions.

    2- The advent of the computers has dawned powerful new fields of science that produce far less contradictory results regardless of where and in which country they are utilized. Game Theory is such a new science. Give massive volumes of data (that are beyond the absorbing power of the average scholar’s mind) on the subject of say ‘Modern Time Imperialism’ to couple of GT research groups in say India, Germany, Brazil and USA. The graphs produced by these Institutions for the future of Imperialis in different countries could match closely regardless of the employed styles of modeling.

    I have to warn the reader that most of what I am going to write here belongs to the first category so it is subject to valid criticism.

    Also since Arnold and I have brought up in different countries, received different types of education, read different books etc we resemble the above mentioned different students of history. So my slight or total disagreements in practically every paragraph of his article are of no surprise.

    If not disagreeing with what I was reading, at times the text was provoking thought or touching deep nerves. For example when I was reading “…the US would have preferred Iraq be ruled by someone more like Mubarek…” I was thinking who are these bunch of ruthless, greedy, arrogant, racist, and wealthy in the US (some with low IQ ) who bend on the maps in the Situation Rooms and talk about toppling the regime in this place or installing our ‘son of a bitch’ in the other. Many time the text took me to those dark zones..

    What was missing from the article was the decades old history and the crucial and decisive role of Israel in shaping and executing the Middle Eastern Foreign Policy of USA. I, as an amateur agree with a few free-thinking scholars who argue, at least in the last decade, whatever Tel Aviv wants US to do in ME Tel Aviv gets it. This linkage is no small potato especially when Iraq and other ME countries are the focus of discussion.

    Anyhow, if I try to criticize the article in detail I would take lengthy explanations that are beyond the scope of this writing. However I think the partial aim of such elaborations can be achieved if I re-post my previous comment posted when the article appeared first. I have made some minor modifications hoping to attract attention to new ways of debating and analyzing any modern time political subject ie backing any claim with reliable numbers or analytical arguments.

    Here is my old post:

    Many years ago when I was reading Victor Ostrovsky’s “By Way of Deception” I got a sort of mild mental shock. That was when I read how Israelis were training both Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan soldiers in nearby buildings and how they were selling arms to both sides to kill each other. Or how Israelis were organizing spy operations to plant bombs during the construction of bridges in the ‘naive’ Middle Eastern countries in order to blow the bridges up remotely in case there war a war with them in the coming years or coming decades.

    (I think that book contains a wealth of truly amazing revelations. It and Victor’s other book entitled “The other side of Deception” are among the top ten ‘ must read’ books for anyone who studies the dirty politics of present time hegemonies)

    My mental shock is hard to explain in a page or two since those days my perception of Israel didn’t quite match with what I was learning from the book. After reading the book I concluded “any political assertion should not be relied on unless covert (secret) knowledge backs it up”. By knowledge I mean sets of decisive, relevant, reliable and broad top secret knowledge,. something most of the people and sheeple would never find out. The conclusion: be always ultra-skeptical.

    I was reminded of that lesson as I was reading Arnold’s expressions, assumptions and themes on Iraq. Often I was finding them incomplete or biased regardless of the fact that in my view Arnold is relatively a thoughtful analyst.

    I think the subject of 2003 Iraq war encompasses such a VAST fields of social, historical, political and human related sciences that, at present time, no single individual is capable of describing it exactly and accurately especially when he/she has no access to big bank of top secret information.

    Even if ALL the pertinent info is accessible, the summary can not be convincingly reliable unless its colossal volume of info goes through present day sophisticated probabilistic (mathematical) models that detect any incoherency or contradiction.

    One might question what Mathematics has to do with origins of Iraq war. Let me give you just one example out of many: Everyone knows about the 2007 NIE which enraged Likudniks and their stooges like nutts. NIE was a phenomenally consequential report that successfully stopped neocons from staging a war with Iran in its tracks. Although NIE had specified Iran, since 2003 had given up working on the bomb, with high probability that stipulations was inserted in NIE under extreme pressure from the White House.

    That is because, at the time, all the indications were that Iranian rulers never had ‘decided’ to manufacture any type of WMD and during their 8 years of horrendous war with Iraq they were decidedly against using Chemical Weapons even as they were constantly taking horrifying beatings by those Iraqi chemical weapons. Also the fact had been established that, at the time, Iranians were capable of manufacturing and using those weapons …but they didn’t.

    What made all the 16 intelligence agencies agree that Iran has no intention of building the atom bomb? On top of massive amount of traditional secret information available to those agencies there was a report by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita that played a decisive role in the compilation of NIE. He is a Jewish Game Theorist who has a consultancy business. He is the one whose predictions have turned out to be TRUE 90% of the time while the record of the best predictors of our time hardly surpasses 50%.

    In early 2009 he predicted the desire of Iranians to build atomic bomb was not supported by his Game Theory Model. As shown in the following video of TED conference in February 2009 the danger-curve warranting an alarm was ever dropping as the time was passing by.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bruce_bueno_de_mesquita_predicts_iran_s_future.html

    (I urge everyone to watch it also Google his name and watch Bruce’s other videos).

    Anyhow, on top of political and other reasons not to go along with the Administration for war with Iran, Bruce’s report to Intelligence agencies must have been so convincing that had forced the 16 Intelligence agencies to go to ‘war’ with the Executive Branch rather than surrendering to their demand. I came to above conclusion from watching what Bruce told later to another audience on how much the Bush crowd hated him for his contribution to NIE..

    Game Theory is by no means perfect yet it yields astonishingly reliable results. The rumor is it has gained the Israelis countless billions in financial markets around the world. Yet I think if the anti-Iran joint committee of Israel/US/UK had used it also for the June 2009 Iranian Presidential Election to de-legitimize, demonize and destabilize Iran they must have made a serious mistake not entering into their model the possibility of Iranians, for the first time, publishing the computer file of detailed vote counts in every single polling station proving beyond any doubt that, as Eric has shown ‘not a single credible evidence of fraud exists in that election’.

    That massive anti-Iran propaganda later turned out to be a devastating blow to the war camp and their large army of stooges in the MSM as well as to the likes of Netanyahu who soon after the election (gleefully?) told Charlie Rose “Iran is not the 800 pound Gorilla anymore” (as polls showed in reality the popularity of Iran increased all over ME as it was revealed there was no fraud).

    Switching back to ordinary mode of discussion here are some final thoughts:

    1- The publication of ‘New American Century’ revealed how the moronic ideas of an arrogant hegemonist group is going to be utilized by a ‘right’ president in the future to plan expanding the Israeli/American ‘empire’ not only for plundering and controlling the resources of ‘backward’ nations but also to keep those nations in a ‘primitive’ state as long as possible. The authors of that publication were incapable of realizing that ‘you can enslave some forever or enslave all for a short time but you can never enslave all forever’.

    2- The concept of invading Iraq and staying there forever was the dream of greedy oilmen even before the election of Bush/Cheney. There is no doubt that after the election the mouths of oilmen in power started salivating before the historical 911 as they were perpetually encouraged by their neocon advisers to invade. I think Bush/Cheney (who were oilmen) allowing the Oil/Energy companies compile the legislation for US energy issues reveals quite a lot.

    3- Which one played the most decisive factor for invading Iraq, Israel or Oil? My guess is both factors were reinforcing each other as the time was progressing. So, at one point and at some circles who were in power oil was the dominant factor while at other times for all of them Israel was in the forefront.

    4- I strongly suspect when G.H.Bush (the papa oilman) was the Director of CIA he must have thought of how to get the ‘Grand Prize’ of Iraq oil. Did he or any or his ‘smart’ trusting entourage think of setting the foundations for luring someone like Saddam to invade some place like Kuwait? I have read a few semi-analytical articles on that but at the moment I only go as far as ‘strong suspicion’ without being able to present any proof.

    This list can contain dozens of items. I am stopping right here repeating my basic thought ie

    Iraq war changed history of the world,, it is a big big issue and only a large group of historians in far future can explain it the way it deserves an accurate complete explanation.

    None of us here can envision how many intriguing hands has that giant goddess.

  8. Castellio says:

    FYI… there’s been an enormous amount of work by reputable people on this.

    Take a look at architects and engineers for 9/11 truth.

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    And, at some point, consider WTC 7.

  9. fyi says:

    Castellio says: March 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you for your references.

    I checked the one that you had attributed to an “MIT Professor”. It turns out that the fellow has a BS degree in Physics and had done practical work in Electrical Engineering and with no experience in Structural Dynamics.

    I found his speech to be filled with un-substantiated assertions such as “there are no convincning…”. Now, to me “convincing” means something published in a Journal such as Reviews of Modern Physics or Nature Methods with supplemental information available on request or on line. This is the standard of convincing scietific/technical evidentiary material. But the absence of such published scientific articles does not imply that his version of events are credible.

    He makes an assertion, based on a discussion with a building demolition expert (un-named) that the patterns of fumes around the building were the tell-tale signs of controlled demolition.

    It would have been more convincing to compare that assertion with the existing footage of many high-rise buildings that have been demolished in US over the last 30 years.

    There are plenty of comaprable tall buildings that have been demolished in controlled explosions and one could, in principle, digitalize the footage and then (digitally) subtract the images from one another to get a better feel for the similarities and differences.

    All he did in his talk was to cast doubt on the work of others without providing any quantitative proof to support his statements.

  10. Castellio says:

    How about interviews given by professionals prior to 9-11, but really, there are so many.

    :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8Z_X8xgrF8
    :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q268ApLAopk&feature=related

    and for one from an MIT professor that is more current (and again, there are many):

    :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCLHL5iToJ8&feature=related

    The nanothermite claim. You can start with

    :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppjaXmYLhQc

    but again, there are many. As to the fact, as you point out, that you haven’t thought about WTC 7… all I can do is say that you are not alone, and ask why that might be. A real investigation would want to know the truth about WTC 7, and would not try to avoid the historical fact.

    How will this history be represented in America? Right now, the very reality of American history might end up being dependent on other languages and cultures keeping certain historical facts alive. Strange, but true.

  11. fyi says:

    Castellio says: March 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Far be it for me to support USG in its assertions.

    But even the Germans were telling the truth about Katyn.

    You have made several assertions:

    “The buildings were expressly designed to withstand the impact of a jet airplane.”

    Can you substantiate that claim? The building specifications and blue-prints are usually filed with the municipal authority. So this could easily be verified. Certainly, there must have been a bid document – again a public document – which, per your claim, must have stated explicitly that these building are to withstand the direct hit by a passenger jet. In my experience, such a requirement would have caused the bidders, in their proposals, to try to delimit the boundaries of such a requirement. Once could investigate those documents and see if there is any reference to it.

    In regards to structural engineers not coming forward, I cannot answer to that. There are many unemployed Ph.D.s available for hire. They could be hired cheaply for 4 or 5 years to investigate and model the structural dynamics of the buildings.

    In regards to the collapse of the third tower, I cannot explain it since I have not spent time thinking about it.

    In regards to nanothermites: do you have a credible reference?

  12. Castellio says:

    FYI, it is almost impossible to find an architect or structural engineer who will go on record to support the US government’s position. When European stations try to find a spokesperson to support the US thesis in debates, no-one will come forward. There has been no convincing computer model of the destruction of the Towers to support the government position… the physics leads elsewhere.

    I am trying to re-enter into the discussion the profound sense of untruth and lies the general population of America felt. What were the polls, almost half (or more) of the New York population believing that they were not getting the truth? There was no widespread calling for revenge against Muslims, there was widespread demands for truth in the US government, and it was that widespread desire that swept Obama into power after years of obvious deceit.

    It was not the American people who insisted on war against Iraq as retribution for 9 – 11.

  13. Castellio says:

    Fyi: You’re ignoring the obvious. Nanothermite was discovered in the resulting dust. The buildings were expressly designed to withstand the impact of a jet airplane. The investigation did not even consider the most likely cause of the failure, timed explosions. And none of your expressed doubts are relevant to WTC 7…. and as you must know, I’m just scratching the surface of the issues that a true investigation would have studied.

  14. fyi says:

    Castellio says: March 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    If there were timed explosions, there should have been residues of it left.

    One should have been able to smell the cordite.

    The dust settling around the implosion site would have contained traces of the explosive materials.

    The building, under the tremendous force of the impact of the airplane, would start to vibrate. As a zeroth level approximation, it would have vibrated back and forth. There would also have been vibrations up and down the building.

    I did not study structural engineering but I should think that the existing commercial software packages could be used to model what happened there.

  15. Castellio says:

    Assuming your points, then the top of the building would have begun to fall towards the angle of entry of the planes. One can see this actually beginning, but then the structure of the Towers actually progressively disintegrates from timed explosions coming down the building. And, as you know, what you say isn’t relevant for WTC 7, the third building.

  16. fyi says:

    Castellio says: March 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    When an object with a very large kinetic energy comes to a sudden and abrupt rest, its kinetic energy is converted into thermal energy.

    Airplanes are made of magnesium and aluminum alloys with lower melting point that steel. Once the pieces of the fuesalage metled and their temperature increased beyond their melting points, they would cut the cosntruction steel like a hot knife through butter; they would shear away the frame that kept the upper stories of those building standing.

    There is research currenlty being conducted on the samples of the steel from the site of Twin Towers at US universities; one professor working on it is Iranian.

  17. Castellio says:

    I agree with all three of your last postings. Arnold is trying to avoid certain unpleasant actualities within current history in his bid to create a rational context which, in fact, neither holds nor predicts.

  18. James Canning says:

    Persian Gulf,

    I do not attempt to attribute “everything” to the Israel lobby, in providing an analysis for the reasons behind various decisions etc. But the evidence is overwhelming that the Israel lobby controls US foreign policy toward the Middle East.
    Just the other day, 14 members of the UN Security Council voted for a resolution opposed by Israel. One country voted against the resolution, solely because the Israel lobby wanted and insisted on this course. That country was the US.

  19. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Yes, Paul Wolfowitz stated the truth when he said the illegal war with Iraq was based on false intel about WMD, because that was a reason the Bush administration agreed could be used as grounds for war. Which of course goes back to the need for deniability for the conspirators setting up the illegal war. Wolfowitz, and his chief deputy, Doug Feith, “stovepiped” the false intel directly into the White House to prevent the CIA from challenging it.

    Richard Perle, yet another warmongering neocon, was head of the civilian panel that determined US military strategy. And he was and is closely associated with Israeli weapons manufacturers or parties connected to them.

  20. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    I continue to think that the knowingly false intel provided by Curveball was used to dupe George W Bush and Condoleezza Rice, and of course Colin Powell. Dick Cheney’s gang – - mostly lawyers – - were highly concerned to protect themselves with deniability. This is a primary reason all the CIA intel obtained from the families of Iraqi scientists known to have worked on Iraqi WMD, WAS KEPT OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE. All of the dozens of family members debriefed by the CIA confirmed all Iraqi WMD had been destroyed in the 1990s.

  21. Castellio says:

    “The 9/11 attacks unleashed in the United States a desire for vengeance against Muslims and against Arabs that Bush decided could be directed against Iraq. Iraq was not in any conceivable way a threat to the United States and was an irritant but not a strategic threat to Israel.”

    Given the above paragraph, it should be stated that while Arnold may be writing history as it will be written in America, he is not writing history as is happened.

    Lets start with three small facts that paint a different picture.

    First. The most logical reasons for the failure of three steel framed buildings, the only ones to have ever failed in history, increasingly diverge from the reasons officially given by the US government after a much delayed and much flawed investigation process. WTC 7 was not hit by a plane, had small to moderate fires on one side of the building, and came down in freefall time, a literally impossible physical feat. Thousands of architects and engineers have risked their livelihoods to simply say: “The reasons given for the building failing are neither convincing nor sufficient”. As well, nanothermite has been found and analyzed from the dust of Towers 1 and 2, and better account for the pulverization of the buildings, the almost free fall speeds of the descent of the buildings, the controlled straight down fall of the buildings, as well as the cut molten steel of the central beams, than any other theory proposed to date. Simply put, the evidence does not point to the effect of planes crashing into buildings, but of organized and pre-placed explosives. (And speaking of evidence, it strikes one as a touch odd that the bulk of it for such a major crime was shipped out of the country prior to the beginning of the purposively delayed and too narrow investigation.)

    Second. We know that a deal was offered the Taliban government of Afghanistan if they would support an oil pipeline, and they were threatened with being ‘bombed back to the stone age’ if they didn’t accept the deal. Then negotiating on the American side was oil executive Kharzai, presently head of Afghan government, kept in power with obviously fraudulent elections. The deal was not accepted by the Taliban, and plans made to invade Afghanistan prior to 9 – 11 were put into place shortly after 9 – 11. It’s important to note that, even now, the Americans, continue to talk of ‘coming to an understanding’ with the Taliban.

    Third. Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld, to state the most obvious, worked very hard to equate Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, when it was well known, and was actively being verified by the UN weapons’ inspectors, that no such caches or capabilities existed. There was not a widespread desire for vengeance in the American public at the time of the invasion of Iraq cunningly deflected by President Bush; there was an outrageously orchestrated campaign to tell the American people (and the world) what was knowingly false. People around the world, and a great number of Americans, demonstrated in very large numbers against the imminent invasion of Iraq.

    Given these facts, there is a more convincing narrative to the invasion of Iraq than Arnold is giving and, frankly, that narrative is much more predictive than the model Arnold is offering. It not only better accounts for the decision to use a siege against Iran, as it had against Iraq and continues against Palestine, but also accounts for the behind the scenes American leadership in the counter-revolution currently unfolding in the Middle East.

    It was Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the war, and with Bush and Cheney one of the key decision makers to invade, who himself said that the weapons of mass destruction argument for the invasion was simply a reason that everyone could agree on. Clearly, there were other intentions, and a confluence among these disparate groups had been formed.

    Arnold claims Iraq was an irritant but not a strategic threat to Israel prior to the invasion. Well, it certainly wasn’t being presented that way by the Israelis and their supporters. Sadam was consistently being portrayed as an immediate existential threat to the state of Israel and the Jewish people. The push to invade Iraq from Israeli supporters had been consistent for more than a decade prior to the invasion, and was well integrated with the proposal of raising tribal tensions throughout the area, breaking down Muslim co-operation at the national level. That policy remains alive now, in a seamless continuation, in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and now Pakistan.

    The confluence of influential forces: the Israeli government and its American supporters, the oil industry and its desire for ‘stability’ in the Middle East (led by Cheney), the armaments industry and allied capital groups and their need to maintain ‘appropriate’ levels of return on capital in a weak global economy, and the financial sector which profits off buying and managing government debt, as well as supporters of those sectors in key judicial appointments to help facilitate illegal actions.

    All of these sectors have identifiable people with well known names. One can drill down quite far to the actual details of how this power configuration worked together in the invasion of Iraq, and how they have maintained their roles in the Obama administration.

    The American policy is not a reflection of seeking a rational balance of power in a troubled region, which is how it is justified and taught.

    The reality is the desire of Israel to forestall the economic development of the region unless through allies of its own capitalist class (well integrated and virtually indistinguishable from the American capitalist class); the need of corporate managers to maintain rates of return in industries that thrive off war; the on-going grip of the financial sector on the American government which has determined, to its advantage, almost all economic policy since the 1980’s, and the ideological placement of judges (including within the Supreme Court) to support what amounts to a virtual defeat of intended governmental checks and balances.

    The future will be determined by that power configurations actions to maintain its coherence and control.

  22. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I agree completely that Iraq had no busines building up such a large army. The Shah did prefer air and naval power. Iran had the world’s largest fleet of hovercraft.

    I think reliance on Zalmay Khalilzad’s notions is unwise. He seems most interested in providing a misleading reason for grotesque US spending on unnecessary weapons and unnecessary foreign troop deployments.

  23. James Canning says:

    masoud,

    We should bear in mind that Sadat wanted Israel out of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza, but settled for getting the Israelis out of the Sinai. The defeat of Jimmy Carter by Ronald Reagan was a considerable blow to efforts to get Israel out of those other occupied territories.

  24. masoud says:

    implicit=entangled

  25. masoud says:

    Arnold,

    “1) What statement or implication of mine are you addressing when you make the point about the strategic theory behind Egyptian policy

    2) Who in Egypt’s society do you believe agrees with that policy and who do you think disagrees?”

    1) The point i am addressing is one that you left unsaid in the current post, but implied, and one that you’ve made explicitly often enough in the past. Namley, that the primary reason that the US supports Israel is that it feels a ‘moral responsibility’ that it do so, and that there is no justification for these policies in terms of geopolitical strategy in the minds of US planners.

    2) Right now it seems that virtually everyone disagrees. But today’s Egypt is one that is very different from the Egypt of even one year ago. I don’t read Arabic, and I don’t follow Egyptian politics closely, so I won’t be able to quote anyone that has made an explicit statement along the lines I just did. And if there are any Egyptians or Arabs reading this, I would encourage them chime in with their input. That aside, I think the following points do establish, more or less, my reading of Egypt’s ‘public mood’.

    A) Sadat signed the peace treat betraying the Palestinians and other Arab states. Despite this, he remained a popular figure in Egypt long after his death. A broad swath of Egyptians must have at some level understood and accepted Sadat’s reasoning, that Egypt’s security was paramount and could only come at the cost of betraying their allies.
    B) Mubbarak excelled even Sadat’s betrayal of the Arab people, and he was popular enough to reign for thirty years with almost no trouble enforcing his will at all until the very end. This does imply some level of defacto acceptance of that strategic trade off.
    C) Both these leaders came out of the Military, an institution that never objected and was implicit in these policies, and remains the most popular institution in Egypt to this very day.

    I think it is clear that the need for security from Israel has been an overwhelmingly important force in Egyptian politics, and one that prevented the Egyptian people from asserting their right to self determination.

  26. fyi says:

    Roger says: March 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm & Richard Steven Hack says: March 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I agree that US will not change its policy of support for Israel; they will first fight Islam to the bitter end.

    But between abandoning Israel and Crusade against Islam, there are very many tactical policy options for all actors that are involved in the War in and for Palestine.

    One policy option, the one I favor, is the realization of the Hudna offer of HAMAS.

    Now, that does not mean that Axis Powers (US) and Islamic Iran will kiss and make-up. The resolution of US-Iran differences will revolutionize US position in the Middle East and among Muslims. From this point of view, US needs Iran more than Iran needs US.

    There is no reason for Iran to confer legitimacy on the United States and/or the Axis Powers when they are pursuing policies that are anathema to hundreds of millions of Muslims.

    Why shoud she do so when the US position is eroding in the Middle East and among Muslims?

  27. fyi says:

    Arnold Evans says: March 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I had earlier posted, on two separate threads, the URL to Dr. Khalilzad’s article on US Grand Strategy after the collapse of Peace of Yalta.

    Very briefly, the Axis Strategy is to prevent the emergence of another Super Power with global ambitions and pretensions like USSR and, further [pay attention here] the emergence of locally powerful states in key regions of the world that could threaten local Axis dominance.

    Targets were: Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea since they were already charting an independent policy than to that of the Axis and were considered to be strategically important.

    James Canning says: March 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    The Shah of Iran used diplomatic means to force the Ba’athist state to divide the Shat al Arab river according to common international practices as opposed to full sovereignity by Iraq over the entire river.

    Yes, the Shah was buying a lot of weapons but majority were in the Air Force and the land forces were under-strength.

    There was no reason for Iraq to be so militarized.

  28. Pak says:

    Dear Arnold,

    “I wonder what Saudi Arabia is going to be called after the Saud dynasty has left, but when speaking of a hypothetical country where Saudi Arabia is but that executes policies based on the values of its population, Saudi Arabia just doesn’t fit, as awkward as I know it is to avoid that name.”

    Hmm, I disagree with your way of thinking. You have to judge states based on what they are today, not what they were in the past, or what they might potentially be in the future. Otherwise, the entire MENA region would look completely different, a lot of which you might as well call Persia.

  29. Arnold Evans says:

    Masoud:

    I wonder. The Muslim Brotherhood was willing to disturb Mubarak but was legally removed from politics.

    I have not seen evidence that I consider reliable that there was general support or general acceptance in Egyptian society of Sadat/Mubarak’s decision to accommodate Israel. The political structure of the time certainly did not give the Egyptian people the opportunity to vote down the policy or vote them out if they disapproved.

    Of course, this is stuff you know, and I’m not trying to be argumentative. I have two questions for you:

    1) What statement or implication of mine are you addressing when you make the point about the strategic theory behind Egyptian policy

    2) Who in Egypt’s society do you believe agrees with that policy and who do you think disagrees?

  30. masoud says:

    Arnold
    “You raise a good point but leaderships that are accountable to their people work harder to find ways to avoid positions that violently conflict with their people’s values than subject dictators do. I really doubt the strategic decision Mubarak reached, to the degree that it was a strategic decision and not partly an example of personal corruption, would have been reached if there had been political factions in Egypt capable of unseating him.”

    I’m not sure if you are trying to disagree with me here. Yes what you wrote is correct, but there was no faction willing to disturb Mubarak exactly because of the war-time dynamic that a strong Israel imposes on Egypt, which one of the most important reasons why the US would like to keep Israel strong.

  31. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    What? I read the post in the last thread. I have to read it again?

    Arnold,

    Congrats, and well done!

    You asked: why did Iraq happen? Well, here is my take on it.

    It was necessary. Simple as that!

    All the forces that it was attributed to from AIPAC, Zionism, safety of Israel, balance of power, arm sales, corporate welfare, war racketeering/profiteering, and Military Industrial Complex had a role in it. So, in effect it was a confluence of different things and the necessity of having a war once every 20 years, so that the troops stay fresh in their war-craft.

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots (18 and 19 year old kids that don’t anything better to do due to the economy and join the army) and tyrants (Saddam Hussein). – I stole that one from T. Jefferson.

    You also say that you don’t like the term Military Industrial Complex (MIC).
    Well, every time I read or hear MIC, my antennas go up, thrown in a time warp waiting for what is to follow: M I C . . . K E Y . . .
    I guess I am brainwashed that way. You might want to give it a chance. It might grow on you.

    Paul,

    “I can put my name down as “Paul” one day and comment, then pick “Mohammad” next day”

    Haven’t we seen you here as paul “lower case p?” Is that dual identity?

  32. Pak: You’re an idiot who can’t even read.

  33. Another appropriate comment from Gareth Porter.

    Why Washington Clings to a Failed Middle East Strategy
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/porter02012011.html

    Quotes

    The death throes of the Mubarak regime in Egypt signal a new level of crisis for a U.S. Middle East strategy that has shown itself over and over again in recent years to be based on nothing more than the illusion of power. The incipient loss of the U.S. client regime in Egypt is an obvious moment for a fundamental adjustment in that strategy.

    But those moments have been coming with increasing regularity in recent years, and the U.S. national security bureaucracy has shown itself to be remarkably resistant to giving it up. The troubled history of that strategy suggests that it is an expression of some powerful political forces at work in this society, as former NSC official Gary Sick hinted in a commentary on the crisis.

    Although this is clearly the time to scrap that Middle East strategy, the nature of U.S. national security policymaking poses formidable obstacles to such an adjustment Bureaucrats and bureaucracies always want to hold on to policies and programs that have given them power and prestige, even if those policies and programs have been costly failures. Above all, in fact, they want to avoid having to admit the failure and the costs involved. So they go on defending and pursuing strategies long after the costs and failure have become clear.

    An historical parallel to the present strategy in the Middle East is the Cold War strategy in East Asia, including the policy of surrounding, isolating and pressuring the Communist Chinese regime. As documented in my own history of the U.S. path to war in Vietnam, Perils of Dominance, the national security bureaucracy was so committed to that strategy that it resisted any alternative to war in South Vietnam in 1964-65, because it believed the loss of South Vietnam would mean the end of Cold War strategy, with its military alliances, client regimes and network of military bases surrounding China. It was only during the Nixon administration that the White House wrested control of national security policy from the bureaucracy sufficiently to scrap that Cold War strategy in East Asia and reach an historic accommodation with China.

    The present strategic crisis can only be resolved by a similar political decision to reach another historical accommodation – this time with the “resistance bloc” in the Middle East.

    It will be far more difficult, however, for the United States to make this strategic adjustment than it was for Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to secretly set in motion their accommodation with China. Unconditional support for Israel, the search for client states and determination to project military power into the Middle East, which are central to the failed strategy, have long reflected the interests of the two most powerful domestic U.S. political power blocs bearing on national security policy: the pro-Israel bloc and the militarist bloc. Whereas Nixon and Kissinger were not immobilized by fealty to any such power bloc, both the pro-Israel and militarist power blocs now dominate both parties in the White House as well as in Congress.

    One looks in vain for a political force in this country that is free to press for fundamental change in Middle East strategy. And without a push for such a change from outside, we face the distinct possibility of a national security bureaucracy and White House continuing to deny the strategy’s utter failure and disastrous consequences.

    End Quotes

    Exactly. And Porter doesn’t even mention the oil companies and the MIC (except with reference to the “militarist bloc”.

  34. And, gee, wonder what this could mean?

    Oil, Arms and the Imperial Enterprise in North Africa
    The Business of Business in Libya
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/amer02242011.html

    The Italians, the Brits, the oil companies, oh, my…All the usual suspects…well, MY usual suspects, anyway. But I don’t know what’s going on in the world so what do I know?

  35. More on Raymond Davis:

    The Case Against Raymond Davis
    The CIA’s Killing Spree in Lahore
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney02242011.html

    Quotes

    When CIA-agent Raymond Davis gunned down two Pakistani civilians in broad daylight on a crowded street in Lahore, he probably never imagined that the entire Washington establishment would spring to his defense. But that’s precisely what happened. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen, John Kerry, Leon Panetta and a number of other US bigwigs have all made appeals on Davis’s behalf. None of these stalwart defenders of “the rule of law” have shown a speck of interest in justice for the victims or of even allowing the investigation to go forward so they could know what really happened. Oh, no. What Clinton and the rest want, is to see their man Davis packed onto the next plane to Langley so he can play shoot-’em-up someplace else in the world.

    Does Clinton know that after Davis shot his victims 5 times in the back, he calmly strode back to his car, grabbed his camera, and photographed the dead bodies? Does she know that the two so-called “diplomats” who came to his rescue in a Land Rover (which killed a passerby) have been secretly spirited out of the country so they won’t have to appear in court? Does she know that the families of the victims are now being threatened and attacked to keep them from testifying against Davis? Here’s a clip from Thursday’s edition of The Nation”:

    “Three armed men forcibly gave poisonous pills to Muhammad Sarwar, the uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of Fahim shot dead by Raymond Davis, after barging into his house in Rasool Nagar, Chak Jhumra.

    Sarwar was rushed to Allied Hospital in critical condition where doctors were trying to save his life till early Thursday morning. The brother of Muhammad Sarwar told The Nation that three armed men forced their entry into the house after breaking the windowpane of one of the rooms. When they broke the glass, Muhammad Sarwar came out. The outlaws started beating him up.

    The other family members, including women and children, coming out for his rescue, were taken hostage and beaten up. The three outlaws then took everyone hostage at gunpoint and forced poisonous pills down Sarwar’s throat.” (“Shumaila’s uncle forced to take poisonous pills”, The Nation)

    Good show, Hillary. We’re all about the rule of law in the good old USA.

    Here’s an excerpt from Wednesday’s The Express Tribune:

    “His cell phone has revealed contacts with two ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has led to the public conclusion that he was behind terrorism committed against Pakistan’s security personnel and its people ….This will strike people as America in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda against the state of Pakistan targeting, as one official opined, Pakistan’s nuclear installations.” (“Raymond Davis: The plot thickens, The Express Tribune)

    “Al Qaeda”? The CIA is working with “ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan”? No wonder the US media has been keeping a wrap on this story for so long.

    Also, many people noticed that US drone attacks suddenly stopped as soon as Davis was arrested. Was that a coincidence? Not likely. Davis was probably getting coordinates from his new buddies in the tribal hinterland and then passing them along to the Pentagon. The drone bombings are extremely unpopular in Pakistan. More then 1400 people have been killed since August 2008, and most of them have been civilians.

    And, there’s more. This is from (Pakistan’s) The Nation:

    “A local lawyer has moved a petition in the court of Additional District and Sessions … contending that the accused (Davis)… was preparing a map of sensitive places in Pakistan through the GPS system installed in his car. He added that mobile phone sims, lethal weapons, and videos camera were recovered from the murder accused on January 27, 2011.” (“Davis mapped Pakistan targets court told”, The Nation)

    So, Davis’s GPS chip was being used to identify targets for drone attacks in the tribal region. Most likely, he was being assisted on the other end by recruits or members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban.

    End Quotes

  36. Jonathan Cook’s piece is well worth reading in connection with this topic.

    An Empire of Lies
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/cook02282011.html

    Quotes

    One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.

    Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony — given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state — the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.

    A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.

    With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions — conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.

    Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.

    Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.

    In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.

    So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?

    Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

    Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell’s presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration’s hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics — who are many and powerful — say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

    In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people — more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.

    There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.

    In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.

    Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world — including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East — are an integral element in that transnational elite.

    The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:

    — That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
    — That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
    — That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
    — That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
    — That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
    — And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.

    These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us — and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only — to describe the natural order.

    The job of sanctifying these assumptions — and ensuring they are not scrutinised — falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.

    The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.

    The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” — or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it — for its own illegal and immoral ends.

    End Quotes

    And THIS quote is REALLY relevant to today’s post:

    Quote

    Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.

    In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders — those opposed to empire or its interests — are driven by base or evil motives.

    End Quote

    And THAT’S why the Leveretts and Arnold are wrong. Because they still believe in a “good faith” US state.

  37. Pak says:

    Dear Richard,

    Some points about the Escobar article you referred to earlier, which I am sure you will ignore, but I will nonetheless make:

    “Moreover, this walks like an invasion, talks like an invasion, but it’s not really an invasion, as White House spokesman Jay Carney confidently reassured world public opinion.”

    This is absolutely not an invasion, considering that the forces were invited by the Bahraini rulers. Like it or not, believe what you wish, but this is not an invasion. Using the word invasion is a fallacy.

    “…happened to be conveniently narcotized, transfixed by the heartbreaking post-tsunami drama in Japan to the point of ignoring some distant rumblings in a tiny Gulf kingdom.”

    Some people are just too engulfed by politics to care about actual human beings (a phenomenon that has all too often been demonstrated on this blog). The events in Japan are an unparalleled tragedy, and to accuse people of being narcotised by the events – just because they are prioritising them over an uprising that is primarily only politically significant – is completely inappropriate.

    “While the whole West – plus the Arab League – was involved in the dead-end no-fly zone debate concerning Libya, the Gulf neighbors ensured an all-drive zone through the causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain’s capital Manama.”

    Try all you like, but the events in Libya are completely different to the events in Bahrain. Talk of intervention in Libya came about in reaction to government forces bombarding civilians from jets, tanks, artillery, and other heavy weapons. Nothing of the sort has happened in Bahrain, where the number of casualties is minuscule compared to Libya.

    And, again, Bahrain’s rulers called for this assistance.

    “This is all essential to debunk the Western corporate media narrative of “violent protests” that must be “contained” by Saudi intervention.”

    I have seen nothing of the sort. Have you?

    “Imagine the outrage in the “international community” – and the calls to start carpet-bombing right away – if this was Iran invading Lebanon.”

    Again, the use of incorrect terminology is misleading. Anyway, by Escobar’s (and Press TV) standards, surely Iran has already invaded Lebanon? Who else helped found Hezbollah by sending numerous political/military elite to Lebanon, and provided/continue to provide them with arms, funding, training, and intelligence?

    Otherwise, I agree with the points made in the article. Illegitimate leaders throughout the region continue to kill protesters, ban foreign media, invade universities, use militia to intimidate people, and so on. When will they learn?

  38. Persian Gulf says:

    James Canning:

    you obviously understand things very deeply. and probably you have far more secret information than any of us (average citizens who just have access to open sources) might even dream of. your deliberate act of simplicity, and diversion of everything on the earth on the Israeli lobby, is somehow chafing. no contribution I would say. a person with your knowledge can definitely contribute something valuable.

  39. Arnold: You were interested in the Raymond Davis case in Pakistan. I just found this.

    Blowback From the Arrest of the CIA’s Raymond Davis
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff03022011.html

    Quotes

    Meanwhile, the English-language Express Tribune in Pakistan reports that according to ISI sources, 30 “suspected US operatives” in Pakistan have “suspended” their operations in the country, while 12 have fled the country.

    The paper quotes the Pakistan Foreign Office as saying that 851 Americans claiming diplomatic immunity are currently in Pakistan, 297 of whom are “not working in any diplomatic capacity.” The paper says that the country’s Interior Department claims that 414 of the total are “non-diplomats.” The majority of these American operatives, the paper says, are located in Islamabad (where the US is building a huge fortress-like embassy reminiscent of the one in Baghdad), with the others in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. Most are suspected of being involved in covert missions that report to the US Joint Special Operations Command, with many suspected of being active-duty Special Forces personnel from the Army’s Delta Force.

    As I reported earlier, both Pakistani and Indian news organizations are claiming, based upon intelligence sources, that Davis was involved in not just intelligence work, but in orchestrating terrorist activity by both the Pakistani Taliban and the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has been linked to both the assassination of Benezir Bhutto and the capture and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Multiple calls to members of both groups were found by police on some of the cell phones found on Davis and in his car when he was arrested in Lahore.

    But things have been complicated too by mounting public outrage over Davis’s brazen slaughter of the two Pakistanis, who reportedly were tailing him because of concerns about the nature of his activities, and who reportedly were both shot in the back. This public outrage has been further stoked by both a subsequent suicide by the 18-year-old bride of one of the victims, and by the death of an innocent bystander mowed down by a second vehicle carrying several more US contractors which sped to Davis in response to his call for assistance following the shooting. That vehicle, after running down the bystander, raced to sanctuary at the US Consulate. The men in the car, never identified by the consulate, were spirited out of the country by the US so they could avoid arrest.

    The reality is that the US, which as required, on Jan. 25 submitted to the Foreign Office its annual list of those employees of the US Embassy whom it classified as “diplomats” warranting diplomatic immunity. The list had 48 names on it, and did not include Davis. Only after Davis’s Jan. 27 shooting of the two Pakistani motorcyclists, on Jan. 28, did the US submit a “revised” list, to which Davis’s name had been appended.

    The US initially said Davis was an employee of the Lahore Consulate, and Davis himself told arresting police officers that he was a contractor working out of the Lahore Consulate, a role that would not afford him any diplomatic immunity, as consular workers, under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations only receive immunity for their “official duties,” and in any case lose even that limited immunity in the case of “grave crimes.”

    His current legal problems, and the public demand that he be tried (and then hanged) for the killings, has definitely led to a reduction in US undercover operations in Pakistan, and to a pullback of at least some of the Special Forces personnel operating there. It will take considerable finesse for the US and the Zardari government to put the the relationship back together–if the Pakistani military and the ISI even want to restore it–finesse that the US has not been very good at displaying.

    So far, in fact, the US response to Davis’s arrest has been to bluntly and publicly threaten Pakistan with a loss of foreign and military aid–a threat that seems empty given the American need for Pakistani assistance in supplying its military in Afghanistan, and its need for at lease covert permission to continue sending Predator and Reaper drones across the border to attack Taliban suspects in the tribal border areas. US bluster, and some clumsy efforts to forge records that would purport to show Davis had diplomatic immunity–all widely exposed in the Pakistani media–have only served to further stoke public outrage.

    Meanwhile, local authorities in Lahore at the prison where Davis is being held, are so worried that the US may try to have him killed to prevent him from spilling the beans about his activities–for example explaining why the camera he was carrying held photographs of Pakistani military installations as well as of mosques, madrassas and other schools–that they have reportedly posted special guards (unarmed as an added precaution) around his cell, and have been monitoring his food. Davis was reportedly even denied a box of chocolates sent by the US Consulate in Lahore, for fear it might have been laced with poison.

    End Quotes

  40. Fiorangela says:

    first step in ending “America’s traditional grand strategy in the ME” is taken by — Angela Merkel:

    So when Germany voted against Israel at the United Nations last month, Mr. Netanyahu was furious. He telephoned Mrs. Merkel on Feb. 21, venting his disappointment.

    “How dare you?” Mrs. Merkel replied. “You are the one who has disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.”

    The conversation, leaked to Haaretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper, and confirmed by Israeli and German officials, reveals a deep rift between Berlin and Jerusalem.”

    cherchez la femme

  41. Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch on How Iran Keeps Rebellion From Flowering on the Streets of Teheran:
    :http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick03152011.html

    Basically agrees with the Leveretts and not at all with Scott Lucas.

  42. Fiorangela says:

    :http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=212317

    Israel’s shadow war against Iran

    Israel waged war against Iran on Tuesday. No Iranians were present and not a single shot was fired, but make no mistake – the seizure of the Victoria cargo ship is part of Israel’s battle against Iran, one that is fought in the shadows and sometimes in the most unlikely places.

    When the commandos from the navy’s Flotilla 13 approached the ship under cover of darkness late Monday night, they still did not know what to expect. Only as they made their final approach toward the ship, some 320 km. west of Israel, did Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu give his final approval to board the vessel.

  43. Rehmat says:

    YES – it’s over for sure. The new players in the Middle East are Islamic Republic, Turkey and Hizbullah.

    With Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in turmoil – American proxies including the Zionist regime is fearing the collapse of their ‘grand strategy’.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/hizbullah-changed-the-me-in-2006/

  44. “We are going to see the United States remove itself over the next 20 years from its balance of artificially weak powers strategy as gracefully as it can given Israel’s position in its domestic political situation, on terms as favorable as it can manage for Israel and for the Jewish people of Israel.”

    This is just delusional. Instead, my prediction is that the US will “double down” on its support for Israel over the next 20 years, resulting in a war with Iran, a war by Israel – with US support – on Lebanon, and an even more brutal war on Hamas in Gaza.

    All of these are likely to take place within the next few years, with the Iran war being the most difficult to predict – it could take place in a much longer time frame depending on events in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the fallout from the current “Arab Awakening”, as well as the US domestic election results in 2012, and possibly even events in North and South Korea.

    But wars on Lebanon and Gaza are almost certain within five years – after which there will be more fallout from those wars, to what degree is uncertain because it depends on their length and severity. Certainly Israel will become even more isolated and pariah-like in the international community, with even the EU, normally a poodle of the US, increasing its criticism of Israel and US support for Israel. But the US will remain absolutely loyal to Israel and will continue to shovel billions in military aid to Israel, and continue to support Israel in the UN.

    Over the next 20 years, both Israel and the US will become ever more warlike, ever more “unstable” in their flailing around to protect their “interests”, and ever more despised and treated like a pariah by much of the world.

  45. Roger says:

    I believe the US will take 1,000 times more punishment compared with what its enduring at this time before it will ‘see the writing on the wall’ and decides to abandon Israel to its fate. Remember Bill Clinton saying he will take up a rifle to defend Israel?

    I believe there are a few policy circles who are resentful of the costs Israel is imposing on the US (i.e. the Leveretts, some elements in the Pentagon, etc..) but they are the small exceptions. Obviously judging by their behavior, I don’t believe Israel or its US supporters are worried in the slightest about US support for Israel softening in the slightest degree.

  46. Since the Japan earthquake, the events in the ME have been sidelined in the MSM. Fortunately Pepe Escobar is keeping a much closer watch. And Pepe is a realist who knows corruption when he sees it.

    House of Saud ‘liberates’ Bahrain
    “http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC16Ak03.html

    Quotes

    One thing is already certain. These two paragons of equanimity – the House of Saud and the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty – have just helped to reconfigure a peaceful mass movement towards a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain into a full-fledged revolution. The ignominy extends to auditioning for mercenaries in Lahore, Pakistan; the al-Khalifa’s methods are Gaddafi’s methods (see the details here ). Bahrain’s revolutionaries will now settle for nothing less than the overthrow of the al-Khalifas.

    Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are Washington’s solid client states. Details of Bahrain’s subservience, especially to the Pentagon, abound in WikiLeaks cables – here, here and here. There’s also this one here laying down the law; “As the smallest Gulf state, Bahrain has historically needed closer security ties with a Western patron than any of its neighbors … we can use our close security ties with Bahrain to continue pushing the envelope for GCC-US security cooperation.”

    The frightened al-Khalifas did call the cavalry – in the form of Saudi tanks and troops. The House of Saud – as the GCC’s top dog – was just itching for such a fight; if France and Britain are itching to intervene in Libya, what would prevent Saudis from intervening in Bahrain? Western corporate media depicting “Saudi Arabia’s reluctant emergence as the key regional policeman” is nothing but cosmic disinformation; there’s nothing “reluctant” about it, it’s a question of fear mixed with ruthlessness, as in the survival of both repressive regimes at stake.

    To compound the advanced wave of hypocrisy, while Europe debated no-fly in Libya the House of Saud came up with its “all-drive” and sped to Manama in the dead of night. al-Wefaq, the largest Shi’ite party in Bahrain, now describes Saudi Arabia as an occupation force. Imagine the outrage in the “international community” – and the calls to start carpet-bombing right away – if this was Iran invading Lebanon.

    Great swathes of Arab public opinion are absolutely right on the money; Western elites are staging just an illusion of action in Libya. The objective is to create a firewall between the revolutions in northern Africa and the repressive Gulf petro-monarchy clients. No fly against “evil” Gaddafi? Why not? No drive against strategic Saudi Arabia? Don’t even think about it.

    The West really doesn’t care much about a bunch of kids with guns in Libya, those that have been grabbing a Kalashnikov and wrapping a keffiyah (checkered scarf) around their heads, rushing to the front in sports utility vehicles to fight for a better life. Yet this is Homage to Catalonia revisited, George Orwell on the Spanish Civil War, with Benghazi as the new Barcelona – an outburst of revolutionary fervor that may be crushed by the heavy weaponry of a northern African neo-fascist army.

    Yet a no-fly zone in Libya won’t change a single fact on the ground. A game-changer would be to support the eastern Libyan council to force a no-drive zone on Gaddafi’s tanks and armored personnel carriers; and to arm the rebels with weapons and intelligence. That’s exactly what they’re asking of the West (and not a North Atlantic Treaty Organization invasion). So the first step would be for the Obama administration to immediately recognize the “rebels” as the legitimate government of Libya. Then cause havoc on Gaddafi’s communications system (a cakewalk for the Pentagon). And then tell the rebels what Gaddafi’s command and control are up to. All this at virtually zero cost – and no US boots on the ground.

    End Quotes

  47. Fiorangela says:

    We are going to see the United States remove itself over the next 20 years from its balance of artificially weak powers strategy as gracefully as it can given Israel’s position in its domestic political situation, on terms as favorable as it can manage for Israel and for the Jewish people of Israel.

    Do you think the 7,000 people in the linked video will allow US to do anything other than jettison its relations with the rest of the states of the Middle East, in favor of Israel?

    Germany worked through non-violent means for ~50 years (1881-1933) to try to sustain German interests against influences on German media, culture, religion, and economy that were perceived to run counter to German values and interests, and that were comparable to the passions expressed in the video. Here’s what came of those efforts: :http://www.wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/articles/jdecwar.html

    All the while Germany was attempting to assert its control over its own institutions, zionist institutions were being created in Palestine, aggressively displacing Palestinian Arabs, about which Ahed Ha’am rebuked his co-religionists in 1891 :http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Famous-Zionist-Quotes/Story642.html

    Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris has exonerated Israel from wrongdoing in the Nakba of 1948, when thousands of Arabs were killed and 700,000 Arabs forced to flee their homes because, explains Morris, “our backs were to the wall.”

    Sixty years later, in Aug. 2008, in a campaign appearance in Iowa, Barack Obama warned that Iran must be brought to heel and Israel’s security must be guaranteed by US, because Israelis feel “their backs are to the wall.” :http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/Obama.html

    How is the US going to create a space where neither the US nor one of Israel’s neighbors, nor people whose lands Israel occupies and controls, are threatened by Israeli violence, excused with the claim that “our backs are to the wall?”

  48. Mr. Canning: “this US colony adamantly ignored every entreaty from the US to raise production enough to drive prices down.”

    Once again, just like Iraq, the oil companies are not interested in bringing the price down. And that is precisely why “the US” – which as I’ve repeatedly said doesn’t exist – really did nothing against the Shah over the issue.

    Empty: I agree with your adding in various other factors to the situation. The world is a complicated place with no room for simplistic notions of cause and effect.

    Leveretts: I’m not surprised that you think Arnold’s piece is somehow either “explanatory” (which it is – but on a very superficial level) or “predictive”. So I predict you’re going to be seriously disappointed at what happens in the future – as most Very Serious People are when things repeatedly and continuously go to hell in this country and the world over and over for decades on end with no end in sight.

    I will continue to adhere to the predictions of the “cynics” (read: “realists”) such as Chomsky, Palast, Johnson, Pilger, Fisk, Raimondo, etc., who have spent time examining the behavior of the US ruling elites over decades.

  49. Empty says:

    fyi,

    RE: “In regards to the pipeline across Afghanistan: that will never be built since there is no state that can garrison it at reasonable cost for the the next 20 years.”

    I agree. It took the US several years and hundreds of billions to gain an experiential knowledge about this. Now segments of the military and NATO are trying to make the best of the situation through drugs/opium and arms trade.

    James Canning,

    I actually think there are evidences of multiple “grand strategies” designed by the US. The most significant flaw in them, however, is the fact that these strategies take a one-sided narrow self interest into account at the expense of others. In a world that even the bacteria and tiny mosquitoes acquire resistance in face of lethal force, I wonder how the strategic “thinkers” convince themselves that populations of human beings don’t.

  50. Matt says:

    I have to say, when the discussions are not derailed by trolls, the quality of the content this message board produces is often quite remarkable. Kudos to Arnold Evans, Empty, fyi, Eric A. Brill, Richard Steven Hack, and all of the other usual suspects.

  51. Arnold Evans says:

    Oh wow. I’m flattered and honored.

    Pak:

    I wonder what Saudi Arabia is going to be called after the Saud dynasty has left, but when speaking of a hypothetical country where Saudi Arabia is but that executes policies based on the values of its population, Saudi Arabia just doesn’t fit, as awkward as I know it is to avoid that name.

    Masoud:

    You raise a good point but leaderships that are accountable to their people work harder to find ways to avoid positions that violently conflict with their people’s values than subject dictators do. I really doubt the strategic decision Mubarak reached, to the degree that it was a strategic decision and not partly an example of personal corruption, would have been reached if there had been political factions in Egypt capable of unseating him.

    FYI:

    My understanding of Chile is that the US saw it as part of a rivalry with the USSR while Yugoslavia similarly was a part of a competition for Eastern Europe against Russia. The US didn’t want to destroy either just for its own sake.

    I haven’t picked up your exact explanation for why, as part of grand strategy, the US wants to destroy Iran.

    All:

    I have to address other comments in more detail later. I am very grateful to see something I wrote highlighted in this way.

  52. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Bravo! Yes, Israel is the spoiler. And of course it is a very dangerous country, for the US, given its propensity to launch aggressive wars needlessly.

  53. James Canning says:

    Pak,

    I had the same question (what is “Arabia”?).

    Syrians wishing for greater political liberties probably need to find a way to help force Israel out of the Golan Heights. For obvious reasons.

  54. Fiorangela says:

    Was it Steve Martin who did a comedy skit called “How to live like a millionaire.” Step 1. in How to Live Like a Millionaire is, Get a million dollars.

    That’s what this paragraph sounds like:

    The United States expended a tremendous amount of resources intervening in Iraq and, contrary to its expectations, failed. If the United States was to try again in Iran, Syria and Iraq again, it would not have the expectations it had in 2003 it would just be knowingly throwing resources away. We are not going to see that. We are going to see the United States remove itself over the next 20 years from its balance of artificially weak powers strategy as gracefully as it can given Israel’s position in its domestic political situation, on terms as favorable as it can manage for Israel and for the Jewish people of Israel.

    The US engaged the balance-of-power strategy in large measure if not exclusively due to its relationship with Israel. Absent Israel, the US need only engage in honest and mutually respectful relations with all countries in the Middle East, in line with Davutoglu’s policies and similar to Iran’s relations with Japan, (and with Italy too, incidentally, who plans to resume banking relations with Iran shortly).

    Israel is the spoiler.

    Therefore, How shall the US act differently in the Middle East is another way of saying, how can the US disentangle itself from its relationship with Israel.

    If the answer to, “How can the US disentangle itself from its relationship with Israel” is, “By distancing itself from Israel,” then we haven’t answered any questions.

    We haven’t even asked the right questions.

  55. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    We should bear in mind here that Donald Rumsfeld, as Sec of Defence, thought the Iraq War would be a quickie where some of this ideas for military stategy could be tried out in real time with real “enemies”. He wanted the US to get out quickly after Saddam was overthrown. And the US had assured Saudi Arabia that the Sunni power structure would be left intact to preserve order.

    Rumsfeld, you may recall, wanted the US to get out of Iraq in 2006 as recommended by the Iraq Study Group.

    The grotesque squandering of trillions of dollars on the Iraq quagmire certainly was not planned in advance. It is a prime example of “ad hoc” decision making.

  56. Pak says:

    Happy 4shanbe souri by the way.

  57. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    The crucial mistake made by the US ambassador to Iraq, in the summer of 1990, was to tell Saddam Hussein that the US “took no position” on the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait. That ambassador (April Glaspie) thereby gave Saddam the notion that an effort on his part to resolve the dispute by military means would not be countered by the US. George H W Bush blundered by having a woman as ambassador in Iraq at that juncture, unless it were a womon like Margaret Thatcher who would have told him: Do not invade Kuwait or you will be thrown out by the US, the UK and allies.

  58. Pak says:

    Interesting article, Arnold, but where do you mean by “Arabia”?

    There were protests in Damascus today by the way, calling for an end to the emergency laws, and the release of political prisoners. The protesters were brutally attacked by government forces.

  59. Fiorangela says:

    when the moneyboys become unhappy, changes occur. Could it happen that bankers will force Bahrain to settle its problems without further violence?

    Fitch cuts Bahrain’s credit rating

    . . .The yield on Bahrain’s 5.5 percent bond maturing in March 2020 climbed 30 basis points, or 0.3 percentage point, to a record 6.88 percent yesterday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Fitch cut the nation’s credit rating to BBB, the second-lowest investment grade, from A-, citing increased political risk. Fitch rates Lebanon’s debt B, five steps below investment grade.

    Credit-default swaps for Russia, rated the same as Bahrain by Fitch, rose 5 basis points yesterday to 137.

    The outlook for Bahrain’s rating is negative, indicating that more downgrades may follow. Bahrain’s credit ratings were lowered Feb. 21 at Standard & Poor’s.

    “The two-notch downgrade reflects further material escalation in political risk in recent days, following significant violent domestic protests, military intervention by Gulf nations and the imposition of a state of emergency,” Purvi Harlalka, Director in Fitch’s Middle East and Africa Sovereign Ratings Group, said in a statement.

    Bahrain has the lowest proven crude oil reserves in the region, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Its unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, Finance Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa said March 11.

    Fifth Fleet

    The country, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has 2.87 billion dinars ($7.61 billion) of debt outstanding, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Debt equaled 33 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, Fitch said in its statement.

    “They are not particularly credit constrained,” said David Zervos, managing director of global fixed income strategy at Jefferies & Co. in New York. “There’s credit risk in the short term with the short-term turmoil. Longer term, these are probably much stronger bonds than maybe the ratings downgrades would indicate.”

    Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said yesterday that “the presence of foreign troops and meddling into Bahrain’s internal affairs will only further complicate the issue.”

    Bahrain’s ruling family has close links with Saudi Arabia, which holds 20 percent of global oil reserves.

    Limited Changes

    Bahrain’s king has offered a national “dialogue” toward limited changes in response to the protests. Along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates has sent some 500 soldiers to Bahrain, U.A.E. Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan said.

    A Bahraini protester ran over a policeman with a car and killed him yesterday, the kingdom’s official Bahrain News Agency reported. Earlier, one protester was killed in the town of Sitra, Al Wasat newspaper reported on its website, without saying how it obtained the information.

    “It was a kind of a massacre,” lawmaker Mohammed Baqer said in a telephone interview yesterday, saying that he and a fellow lawmaker, Nada Haffad, have quit to protest the violence, which he blamed on the government. The protesters are “young people ready to die,” he said.

    The escalation in violence followed a decision by the GCC this month to provide Bahrain and Oman, another country that has seen anti-government protests, with $10 billion each over a decade to promote development.

  60. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    As you may recall, the Shah forced Iraq to move the border between Iran and Iraq, along the Shatt-al-Arab (if I recall spelling correctly) in 1975. After the fall of the Shah, Saddam Hussein saw potential opportunity for redress, and of course his aggressive instincts were encouraged by Gulf monarchies worried about Iranian subversion.

  61. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Shah spent 40% of his budget on the military and security. And he was the largest buyer of armaments from American manufacturers for years.

  62. Paul says:

    This blog really needs a forum where people can go register, somewhere with threads, search engine, … This way of commenting on blog posts is useless. I can put my name down as “Paul” one day and comment, then pick “Mohammad” next day, …

  63. Jonas says:

    US dont defend democracy in Bahrain, they have most likely given a green light to saudi/UAE for them to go into Bahrain.

    http://www.presstv.com/detail/170129.html

  64. James Canning says:

    Empty,

    As you would know, Iran under the Shah refused to do anything to bring down the price of oil after the 1973 Oil Embargo. Arnold claims Iran was a US colony, but this US colony adamantly ignored every entreaty from the US to raise production enough to drive prices down.

    I think those who see a “Grand Strategy” in the actions of the US are finding something that suits pre-ordained theories. In fact, most American decision maiking is on an ad hoc basis (in other words, decided piecemeal as conditions and politics drive the decision-makers).

  65. fyi says:

    Rd. says: March 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    They are being taught the same lessons that Israel taught Shia of Lebanon and Ba’th taught Iraqis and I expect with the same consequence.

    I recall this Shia Lebanese – whisking drinking with an American girl-friend – I met in 1983. “Khomeini saved us.”, he said.

  66. fyi says:

    Empty says: March 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Very good.

    The oil price collapse was a threat to the Russian Federation as well.

    In regards to the pipeline across Afghanistan: that will never be built since there is no state that can garrison it at reasonable cost for the the next 20 years.

    Saudi Arabia was running tens of billions of dollars of deficits during the time that you are discussion; they were hurting plenty bad.

  67. Empty says:

    مکتب شهادت باز هم برنده اول تمام مکاتب! …It’s amazing how the most ordinary manifestation of the doctrine of martyrdom becomes the most supreme of all doctrines at time of extreme crisis.) May God bless, protect, and reward the 50 Japanese emergency workers left behind.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110315/ts_yblog_thelookout/japanese-nuclear-plant-workers-emerging-as-heroic-figures-in-tragedy

  68. Empty says:

    Arnold,

    Good general approach. However, I noted that most theories presented in the previous comments and this thread (as an offshoot of the previous thread’s comments) include many gaps. This general outline, for example, misses in very critical and significant ways, the major developments that had a direct impact on the events of the decade between 1990 to 2001 that led to the events of the following decade (2000-2010).

    1. Early 1990s saw an emergence of the Central Asian countries and competition to access the oil in the Caspian Sea region.

    2. At the same time and for the first time in decades, other countries (i.e. Asia/China) emerged as the fastest growing markets for oil throughout 1990s. This necessitated a need for a more strategic outlook for the US and other countries in the area of energy security.

    3. The issue is/was not so much about who has oil (since anyone who had/has wanted/wants to sell it) but who possesses the means to manipulate the price and to control the “routes” (Pipelines and Maritime).

    4. Half of the 1990s was spend arguing about “pipelines” and building them (along east-west and north-south corridors).

    5. US was interested to by-pass Iran. One “East-West/Northern” route through Turkey and one “North-South” route through Afghanistan were of great interest to the United States. The shortest route was, is, and will always be North-South Caspian-Persian Gulf pipeline cut right through the middle of Iran.
    ~Check out Map #3 here: ;http://www.sras.org/geopolitics_of_oil_pipelines_in_central_asia

    6. On December 1997, A Taliban delegation was brought to Sugarland Texas for talks with Unocal [;http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm. The talks collapse and Taliban left Texas for Afghanistan swearing to never cooperate with the US. Plan for war on Afghanistan actually began in December 1997.

    7.In parallel with the above events, the price per barrel of oil reached its lowest possible by late 1990s and into early 2000 (below $9 if I am not mistaken). This exacted severe tangible pain to the populations whose economy was substantially dependent upon oil (especially OPEC members). At the time, I remember how Germany, for example, stop shipping the most needed medicine to Iran unless Iran could pay for it in advance (I had an aunt who died as a consequence of a specific medicine that Germany had held its export to Iran for 11 months, for example). When then SA foreign minister came to the US for help, Clinton remarked very publicly and smugly that wasn't a US problem (this was while the US and the West were filling their strategic reserves and enjoying the 'digital boom'). When warned there would be a production cut by OPEC, he brushed off any possibility that OPEC members (especially Iran and Saudi Arabia at the time - Iraq was out of commission) could ever reach an agreement.
    You might find the following sources useful in helping with a more comprehensive look at potential oil-related events of the last two decades: ~History and analysis of crude oil prices: ;http://www.wtrg.com/prices.htm

    I think artificially keeping the oil prices very low during 1990s was done deliberately so that the US companies could sign and solidify long-term contracts with various emerging countries with oil (including Central Asian ones). They intended to raise the price afterwards in order to maximize their profits.

    8. In March 2000, OPEC members (Mr. Rafsanjani played an extremely effective and successful role in this regard) particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement and created a production formula to keep the price per barrel of oil between $22 - $28 with a 3-4 months of cushion. For the first time in the history of Western hegemony in the region, ants fell in the western pants and they dreadfully saw, first hand, the outcome of a regional cooperation and alliance.

    9. If you follow the 9-year US ground/air operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you’d see that they have been heavily concentrated along the forked pipeline routes that begin in Turkmenistan and cross through Afghanistan and Pakistan, spilt toward India/China from one end an to Omman Sea from another side.

    10. To control “Maritime Routes”, US needs control of major sea ports and straights. These are among the most sensitive chokepoints are: 1) Hormuz (Persian Gulf); 2) Bab-el-Mandeb (connecting Red Sea to Gulf of Aden//Note Yemen and Somalia); 3)Strait of Malacca (between Indian and Pacific Oceans); 4) Gibraltar (Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean//Note Morocco); 5)Suez Canal (Egypt); and 6) Bosporus (Turkey). To this end, follow up the US most serious military build up and operations in the past 10 years.

    11. Military and satellite communication hardware and software development, marketing, and sale are important and important both as mean$ and as end$ to establish and secure routes and to enforce ones’ orders.

    So, I think you, Richard, Fiorangela, and others have been correct in your assessments depending on the specific segments you picked (e.g., trunk of the elephant or the tail of the elephant). For example, Richard is correct in MIC variable and the feedback loop created there by its clique and how it contributes. Fiorangela is correct with MSM/Hollywood/tweeter/facebook variables and how their escalating feedback loops contribute to the process. Most who argue the Zionist/financial & banking systems line are correct, too.

    To look at the models more accurately though, you’d need to bring in multiple [organic] factors (with each factor having their own impact score depending on time and place) plus some “c” which are all other “unknowns” as Unknown Unknowns would say.

  69. Rd. says:

    Kamran says:

    “The Saudi regime with the blessing of the Obama regime is terrorizing the people of Bahrain.”

    Yes, they are enduring America with a lot of pain and hurt for the people of the region.

    It is utterly amazing, that they would send troops to occupy Iraq, and Afghanistan and see the end results today. Now you ask your (tooleh) SA to send troops to Bahrain? Amazing beeble and a great foresight too!

    Empty calls it right; “by creating a direct military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. This WILL NOT happen.”

  70. masoud says:

    Re posting a response from the earlier thread…

    Arnold,

    For the past thirty years Egypt has had an Emergency Law that gave Mubbarak unbridled powers. The nominal reason for this was because of the assasination of Anwar Sadat, but a thirty year State of Emergency is not a normal response to something even that drastic.

    The reason Mubbarak was able to get away for this long without repealing that law was because Egypt was a highly militarized state that had fought several costly wars against Israel at great cost. The general understanding existed that if Egypt became weak because of internal strife Israel would try to capitilise. Furthermore the threat of Israel was used to justify to many Egyptians just why they couldn’t pursue policies they otherwise would have liked to. They couldn’t support the palestinians or oppose the Iraq wars or take any steps to achieve a measure of independence because, if they did, they would lose all of Washington’s support, while Israel would gain a blank check, and then where would they be. Similar dynamics were and are in play in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and to a lesser extent in the Persian Gulf and North African states.

  71. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Your statement is not correct.

    At the time of the Iranian revolution, Iran had 3 Armored Mechanized Divisions and they were below their nominal strengths.

    The country that was armed-to-the-teeth was Iraq; I think they had 40 mechanized-armored divisions. They had been preparing for a war against Iran for 20 years.

  72. Iranian says:

    Arnold Evans

    Great job. However, after reading the piece I remembered Liz wrote that Scott Lucas is way way down the food chain in comparison to George Soros. She wrote that it’s like comparing a prostitute with the mafia boss.

  73. Kamran says:

    I was thinking about making fun of Scott Lucas and his imaginary demonstrations in Tehran. I was going to ask where his imaginary rallies took place today. However, this has been a black day for the Persian Gulf region. The Saudi regime with the blessing of the Obama regime is terrorizing the people of Bahrain.

  74. Fiorangela says:

    End of an Era: Will Israel be Wanded and Sold?

    A new Turkish satellite has Israelis eyeing the end of a U.S.-backed blackout on high-resolution commercial photography of their turf from space.The GokTurk satellite due in orbit by 2013 will sell images of objects more detailed than 2 meters across — currently the finest grain available when it comes to pictures of Israel, thanks mainly to U.S. legislation from the 1990s. Turkey’s leap into the aerospace market treads on Israeli security sensitivities given the former allies’ recently strained ties. Unlike with other nations that have fielded commercial satellites, Israel has little leverage over Ankara. “We try to ensure that we are not photographed at high resolutions, and most [countries] accommodate us,” a senior Israeli defense official said. “Should we request this of the Turks? We won’t ask for it. There is no one to talk to.” ……..Turkey, whose Islamist-rooted government froze relations with Israel after its deadly raid on a Gaza aid ship last year, has shown no interest in veiling the Jewish state from GokTurk. “We decide how to use the images taken by our satellite,” an unnamed Turkish official told the newspaper Today’s Zaman….
    The Israeli official said such measures helped prevent “sensitive material falling into the hands of terrorists”. Israel also frets about its nuclear facilities and other secretive projects becoming too open to public scrutiny……”

  75. James Canning says:

    We should remember that John Foster Dulles wanted to get Israel out of some of the teritory occupied during the 1948-49 war with the Arabs. And Eisenhower forced Israel out of the Sinai in 1956. Carter wanted to get Israel out of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heighs, but he lost the 1980 election – - in part because the Jews in the US punished him for forcing Israel to get entirely out of the Sinai.

    George W. Bush badly blundered by failing to endorse the 2002 Saudi peace plan. Narrow partisan advantage was Bush’s reason for this colossal mistake. It did not help things that Bush had an astoundingly incompetent National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, who had no understanding whatever of the Middle East.

  76. James Canning says:

    The neocon strategy for Iraq was to create a stable ally of Israel (and the US). For this purpose they have cost the American taxpayers several TRILLION dollars. And Arnold is quite right to say the US “failed” in Iraq if the object was to create a reliable ally of Israel. The entire notion was absurd, I would add.

    What does Arnold mean about a “strong” Saudi Arabia? The Saudis are not going to attack Israel. Perhaps Arnold hopes that the monarchy will be overthrown and a radical anti-Israel government will come to power? Even then, I do not see the Saudis attacking Israel, unless Israel attacked first.

    The Saudis have enormous problems at home, to busy themselves with for decades. They also have the problem of Yemen, including illegal immigration that will continue to get worse as the years go by.

  77. James Canning says:

    I recommend David Gardner’s comments in the Financial Times today (March 15): “Chill regional winds blow across Israel”. Gardner in effect argues that Israel has badly blundered by failing to accept the 2002 Saudi peace plan, and that some American Jewish lobbyists think Israel can continue to colonise the West Bank and rely on the US for protection no matter how much damage this does to American interests.

  78. James Canning says:

    Iran was armed to the teeth, courtesy of the US and other western countries. US was quite happy to have Iran dominate the Persian Gulf, provided Iran was friendly toward Israel.

  79. Fiorangela says:

    Congratulations Arnold Evans; well done.

    —-
    Japan’s needs are going to have to trump US and even Israeli wishes to punish Iran, since Japan will need even more oil to compensate for power losses from nuclear catastrophes.

  80. Jonas says:

    Also I think this article is rather naive, the uprising wont change much for the US.

  81. Jonas says:

    Liz: True, what about threat of sanctions? what of threat of intervention? US support this dictator in Bahrain just proves once again that US are not seeking democracy etc also just imagine of Iran sent help to Bahrain, oh such condemnations from the US…but when Saudi and UAE send troops to smash the demonstrators, nah then the US are silent as always…

  82. Liz says:

    Saudi thugs are murdering Bahraini citizens all over the country tonight. The US has once again shown its true colors.