WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, February 21, 2006
Bring ‘em on: Three persons, including a US soldier, were injured Monday by a blast in Baghdad's northern suburb, injured by a roadside bomb that targeted a US army patrol in Baghdad's Al-Tobaji area.
Bring ‘em on: Iraq's displacement and migration minister survived a roadside bomb attack on her convoy on Tuesday. An official in Suhaila Abd Jaafar's office said no one was wounded but police said three guards were injured.
Bring ‘em on: In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, a suicide attacker blew himself up in a restaurant packed with policemen eating breakfast, killing at least five people and wounding 21, including 10 policemen. [update from yesterday.]
Karbala province suspends contact with U.S. forces: The governing council of Karbala province said Monday it was suspending contact with U.S. forces over the behavior of soldiers during a visit to the governor's office two days ago. The decision followed similar moves by leaders of Maysan and Basra provinces, which have frozen ties with British forces in southern Iraq.
Karbala provincial spokesman Abdel Amir Hanoun complained that U.S. soldiers brought dogs inside the building when their commander visited provincial Gov. Aqeel al-Khazraji, considered an insult by the council.
They also blocked roads leading to the governor's office, preventing council members and the governor from parking cars outside the building, Hanoun said. The governor instructed the council to suspend contacts until U.S. forces apologize, he said.
The Karbala council is controlled by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's largest Shiite party, and Dawa, the party of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Christian peacemakers in Iraq say abuse photos show 'moral bankruptcy' of occupation: Christian peacemakers working in Iraq, whose colleagues were abducted in November, have said that new photographs showing the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison 'testify to the moral bankruptcy of the military occupation.'
In a statement, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offered "its sincere condolences to the torture victims and their families." "We are praying that one day they will find justice and healing", the statement said.
But CPT also called on the US and UK forces, "intelligence apparatus and their proxy militias to stop abusing detainees", most of whom are being held without charge. The photographs, they said, "testify - better than any words could - to the moral bankruptcy of the military occupation of Iraq."
CPT, who have maintained an almost continuous presences in Iraq since before the invasion, were one of the first groups to document prisoner abuse. Four months before the original pictures of abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison emerged, they documented and presented 72 cases of abuse to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
These were highlighted in the UK by the thinktank Ekklesia, which works in partnership with CPT, and were reported by the BBC. The four Christian peacemakers taken hostage on 26 November 2005--Jim Loney, Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden and Norman Kember--were continuing the work of highlighting prisoner abuse when they disappeared.
U.S. Army stretched to breaking: The Marines may be the most celebrated of the American armed forces, but it's the Army that does most of the heavy lifting, as it is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the process, the Army is being battered and shattered in the same way that it was in Vietnam.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that isn't the case; everything's fine. But a recent authoritative study says he is wrong. Commissioned by the Pentagon, the study was done by Andrew Krepinevich of the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He's a West Point graduate who served in a variety of Army roles, including a stint on the strategic plans and policy division, before retiring. He holds a doctorate from Harvard University.
Krepinevich says the Army can deploy no more than 13 brigades to hardship tours at one time. It now has 19 brigades deployed. To fill the gap, two Marine brigades have been sent to Iraq. "Stop loss" and "stop move" orders have been implemented. The reserves have been well tapped out. Active duty personnel now are commonly on their third rotation into Iraq.
The effects of this flawed strategy have been dramatic. The Army has no strategic reserve to call on if another threat were to develop. Divorce rates, domestic abuse and all kinds of mental and physical problems are on the rise among active duty soldiers. In sum, the Army is headed for a "catastrophic decline in recruitment and retention" unless something is done. The "thin green line," Krepinevich says, will break. And don't look to NATO, the United Nations or private contractors for more help, or expect Iraqi forces to develop without many years of effort.
Adding an additional 30,000 to 40,000 personnel, "if aggressively executed, could create a force sufficient to sustain current force levels indefinitely, while maintaining a modest strategic reserve," Krepinevich writes. But even that wouldn't help unless the Pentagon's strategy is changed. From a force organized "to compete as a world-class sprinter," Krepinevich says, the Army must recast itself to run marathons _ to put a "greater priority on stability operations." That, he says, will take years, and there are no good options for getting through the transition, even if nothing else happens in the world requiring the Army's attention.
Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Monday, 20 February 2006
U.S. citizens lose access to birth and death records: Sometimes it’s the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore.
The draft lays out how some 60,000 already strapped town and county offices must keep the birth and death records under lock and key and report all document requests to Washington. Individuals who show up in person will still be able to obtain their own birth certificates, and in some cases, the birth and death records of an immediate relative; and “legitimate” research institutions may be able to access files. But reporters and activists won’t be allowed to fish through records; many family members looking for genetic clues will be out of luck; and people wanting to trace adoptions will dead-end. If you are homeless and need your own birth certificate, forget it: no address, no service.
But while the public loses access to records, the federal government gains a gargantuan national database easily cross-referenced in the name of national security. The feds’ claim that increased security will deter identity theft and terrorism is facile. Wholesale corporate data gathering is the major nexis of identity theft. As for terrorism, all the 9/11 perpetrators had valid identification.
Meanwhile, the quiet clampdown on vital records is part of a growing consolidation of information at the federal level. “That information will dovetail with the Real ID Act of 2005,” says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Real ID cards are the other shoe that is scheduled to drop in three years.” That act, signed into law last May, establishes national standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards, and centralizes the information into a database.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
An Open Letter to Bubba: I’ve seen you around. I’ve seen you driving your gas guzzling SUV with the “Support Our Troops” ribbon on the back. I’ve seen you wearing your pro-war/pro-bush t-shirts as you walk right past me in my Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt as if I don’t exist. And I’ve seen you at anti-war rallies and meetings where I often speak, as you wave your American flag and call me a traitor. In this country we have freedom of speech. But you owe me and every other veteran of this war the respect of listening to our experience.
Your magnet says “support our troops,” but what have you done for us? Not a penny of the proceeds go to us, instead they go to sweatshops in . You say that I am not supporting the troops when I say that they should come home. But I am, because I know that there was no threat to our nation from Saddam Hussein, I know that had no weapons of mass destruction, and I know that we were not welcomed in as liberators. I know that the war was not worth fighting. I know, because I fought there. You say I’m confused. But what do you know about ? You’ve never been there.
You have the audacity to claim that by not supporting the president, I don’t support the troops. Yet, the president chose to send over 160,000 of us to unprepared and without a defined mission. We had no body armor, no vehicle armor, and poor supplies of ammunition. Our families spent thousands of dollars that they did not have to supply us, while President Bush did nothing. In fact he didn’t even scold his Offensive Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, when he told our forward deployed troops, “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.” Moreover, the mission was originally about weapons of mass destruction, but there were none. Then it was making a democracy, but yet the “insurgency” worsens. Now the president has decided that in order to honor those who died for nothing, more must die for nothing.
At present, 2,241 of my brothers and sisters in arms have died. In some way, they may be the lucky ones. Over sixteen thousand others have been wounded in this war, thousands more than planned. The term wounded sounds sterile, bland, and inoffensive. But, in reality, many of them have been so horribly damaged that medical science had to create a new word to describe their wounds: polytrauma. These people would have died in earlier wars, but because of the gallant efforts of brave doctors and medics, they get to live. They get to live with teams of ten or more doctors just trying to get their broken, mangled bodies through another day, as their families look on in horror. They get to live in a physical and emotional hell, not able to recover and not able to voice the pain they feel or the psychological demons they face. All the while suffering with a Veterans Administration under funded by nearly three billion dollars and unable to care for them in the manner they deserve.
So which one of us supports the troops? You, who has never set foot in Iraq and wants to leave my brothers and sisters there until they complete whatever the undefined mission of the week is, or me, the veteran of this war who has seen the carnage of battle, the rampant indifference of my countrymen, and just wants to bring my brothers and sisters home alive and care for them when they get here?
Keep coming to the rallies. Maybe I’ll get through your thick skull eventually. But remember I waved my flag in Baghdad , so you can sit down, shut up, and listen to me.
The notion of an Islamic caliphate may be not such a bad idea after all, but it's not true: At a time of growing political tension between the Muslim world and the West, a new bad idea is creeping into the discourse of European and North American political leaders and is being used to justify an intensification of Western political and military intervention in the Muslim world.
Donald Rumsfeld wheeled this bad idea out at a conference on global security in Munich last week. George Bush alluded to it in his 2006 State of the Union address in January. Tony Blair and his Home Office minister, Charles Clarke, have both spoken of it in the past six months. Dick Cheney has bandied it about for even longer. The rhetoric of the new German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggests she too has signed up.
The new bad idea is this: the “free West,” having defeated German Nazism and Soviet Communism, now faces a new strategic challenge from the ambition of Muslim radicals to re-establish an Islamic caliphate and impose Islamic law on half the world.
As the U.S. Defense Secretary put it at last week’s Munich conference, Islamic radicals “seek to take over governments from North Africa to Southeast Asia and to re-establish a caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent. They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist Islamic empire."
Ouch! A map without borders! Is this the new WMD?
It is true that many Islamist groups, including terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, say they would like to see the reunification of the Muslim world under one political leadership. They also frame this in terms of the re-establishment of the political institution which unified the Muslim world in the first few centuries of Islam: the caliphate.
But does this make it sensible, wise or proportionate for the leaders of the most formidable military alliance in the history of the world to base their strategic posture for the early 21st century on the invocation of an Al Qaeda or Iranian run, “terrorist caliphate” stretching half way around the globe?
No, it does not. And here’s why.
First, the evidence that Al Qaeda or any similar organization is in a position to re-create and control a caliphate is entirely non-existent. The only country where Al Qaeda was able to gain any kind of territorial foothold was in parts of Afghanistan. Even there, they were dependent on the goodwill of local leaders, the Taliban, who had only come to power after Afghanistan had been reduced to ground zero by the combined policies of the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War and subsequent international neglect.
In Iraq, where the U.S. military invasion and occupation has created another opportunity for Al Qaeda, Bush’s claim that Al Qaeda would take over the country in the event of a U.S. military withdrawal is nonsense. Al Qaeda has the same chance of imposing its political authority in Iraq as the U.S. does: nil.
As for Iran, in the 25 years since the Islamic revolution, Tehran has been unable to export its Shi’ite version of Islamist rule to any other Muslim state, in part because most other Muslim states are dominated by Sunnis. In fact, revolutionary Iran long ago gave up efforts to export its ideology to the wider Muslim world and has concentrated instead on cultivating its influence among Shi’ite sectarian groups in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere.
The second reason why raising the specter of a resurgent caliphate is foolish is that it plays into the hands of groups like Al Qaeda who claim the “war on terror” is an assault on Islam itself. Where, one wonders, have all those millions of dollars put aside by Washington and London for public diplomacy in the Muslim world gone? It surely would not have cost much to find out that, so far from being seen as a totalitarian tyranny, the early Muslim caliphate is highly venerated by most Muslims as a golden age of Islam. Comparing it to the Third Reich is therefore not a good way of winning friends and influencing people in the Muslim world.
The third problem with the caliphate idea is that it has led Western politicians to prepare for and fight the wrong kind of conflict. Al Qaeda is a non-state terrorist organization that presents a complex of threats to western interests, some quite serious but none existential. Its main resource lies not in controlling territory or armies but in its symbolic and ideological influence among young and alienated Muslims. This influence is directly proportionate to the degree to which such Muslims sense they and their religion are oppressed and attacked by the West.
In the febrile post-9/11 political atmosphere of the West, the exaggeration of the threat from Islam has in different ways (immigration, terrorism, values) come to be exploited by political entrepreneurs as a crucial means of winning political power, extending state control over scared citizens, and justifying the massive projection of military power abroad. So the notion of a threatening Islamic caliphate may be not such a bad idea after all.
It’s just not true.
Living in the interval: The kindling has been piled high, stuffed with tinder and doused with gasoline. The match has been lit. All it will take is the slightest flick of the wrist to set off the conflagration. We are now living in the interval, the few heartbeats left before the great flame ignites.
The heap of kindling has been a long time building, but in recent weeks, the work has intensified to a fever pitch. With relentless urgency, the American people are being habituated to the prospect of several interrelated upheavals -- new war, new terror attacks -- and the predetermined result of these events: the final, open establishment of presidential tyranny, a militarized "commander state" where executive power is beyond the law, and endless war endlessly prolongs the "emergency measures" of the authoritarian regime.
Making a virtue of necessity, the Bush administration has used the exposure of its illegal wiretap scheme to ratchet up the level of terrorist scaremongering, accelerate its drive toward a military attack on Iran and publicly proclaim its long-held covert doctrine of executive dictatorship. Of course, "commander rule" is already the de facto state of the union, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made clear to the Senate last week, when he refused to deny the notion that the president can contravene any law he chooses under his authority as commander-in-chief. And we have often detailed here the tyrannical powers that President George W. Bush has already bestowed upon himself without objection from the U.S. political establishment, including the power to jail anyone without charges, hold them indefinitely and have them tortured -- or simply murder them in an "extrajudicial killing." The scope of Bush's claimed powers -- arbitrary sway over the life and liberty of every person on earth -- far surpasses that of the most megalomaniacal Roman emperor or totalitarian dictator.
Fortunately for the militarists, Bush has promised war in abundance. Just this month, the Pentagon released its new strategy, heralding the newly dubbed "Long War" against terrorism, where U.S. forces will be deployed, openly and covertly, "in dozens of countries simultaneously" for decades to come. The plan is designed to "ensure that no foreign power can dictate the terms of regional or global security" -- except, of course, for the dictatorial foreign power emanating from the Potomac. This is the constitution of the new commander state: the eternal "emergency," fomenting endless bloodshed, strife, atrocity -- and reprisals, the terrorist blowback that is the essential lubricant for the war machine.
And a new terror strike on the "homeland" is inevitable. The ground for this attack has been carefully prepared -- whether wittingly or unwittingly is irrelevant now. For whatever the Bush faction's intentions, their actual policies have demonstrably and indisputably stoked the fires of Islamic extremism to new heights of virulence. Meanwhile, their manifest incompetence and callous disregard for the well-being of ordinary Americans -- vividly displayed in the deadly bungling of the Katrina disaster and its corruption-riddled aftermath -- have left American soil virtually undefended against any genuinely serious terrorist attack, i.e. one not carried out by half-wits telegraphing their punches over tapped phones.
For years, a vast infrastructure of authoritarian rule has been constructed behind the facade of ordinary political life -- such as the series of "special authorities" signed by Bush and Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld giving the military absolute power over the nation "in the event of a declared or perceived emergency," The Washington Post reports. This dovetails with such open measures as the Patriot Act and the creation of Northcom, the first military command aimed at the "homeland," which last fall conducted the massive "Granite Shadow" exercise, practicing "domestic military operations" with "unique rules of engagement regarding the use of lethal force," the Post reports.
This infrastructure is part of the context, the granite shadow looming behind many recent events, such as last month's $385 million open-ended contract awarded to Halliburton to build large-scale "detention and deportation" centers around the country, as Pacific News reports. It looms behind the "excitement" expressed by weapons-makers over Bush's plans to build new atomic bombs on a production-line basis, the Oakland Tribune reports, including "low yield" nukes for use in attacks on non-nuclear nations. It looms over Rumsfeld's frenzied push to build a new arsenal of "first-strike" intercontinental and space-based weapons to attack enemies -- or perceived enemies -- with "no warning," as the Pentagon declared this month, UPI reports. You can even see it in the Air Force's decision last week to allow top brass to press their politicized pseudo-Christianity on young cadets without restraint, as Reuters reports -- more of the sinister melding of militarism and religious extremism that characterizes the Bushist philosophy.
And of course, the granite shadow overhangs the entire campaign to foment war fever against Iran, a grim replay of the "Attack Iraq" propaganda, complete with exaggerated threats, manipulated intelligence supplied by dubious exiles, lies about "pursuing diplomacy" while finalizing battle plans, as The Sunday Telegraph reports -- and a complete disregard of the murderous quagmire that will ensue, including the rapid proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide as countries scramble to protect themselves from the "first-strike" triggermen of the Bush faction.
More war, more terror, more authoritarian rule: The fire next time is almost here.
"For the oil and for Israel": There is indeed a growing danger of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism - two different phenomena that can appear both together and separately. But it is not connected with primitive skinheads like the Moscow knife-wielder. It is much more dangerous, and the fuel that feeds them exists in other places and on other levels.
In one of the stream of speeches in which George W. Bush is now trying to defend his ill-fated invasion of Iraq, this week he let loose a sentence that should light all the red lights. In this sentence he castigated his opponents for asserting that he had attacked Iraq "for the oil and for Israel".
He thus brought to the surface an assertion that had until then been openly voiced only by anti-Semitic marginal groups. They have put together three facts: (a) that the people who most aggressively pushed for the war were the neo-cons who play a major role in the Bush administration, (b) that almost all the important members of this group are Jews, and (c) that the occupation of Iraq has freed Israel from a significant military threat.
Up to now, the American media have treated this allegation with contempt, as a ridiculous "conspiracy theory". Now that the President himself has spoken about it, it may become part of the legitimate public discourse in the United States and throughout the world.
Therein lies a great danger for Israel. The entire Israeli establishment supported the American invasion. (When we, the opponents of the war, called a demonstration against it in Tel-Aviv, on the day when millions took to the streets all around the world, it was a small event, ignored by the media.) Now it may happen, as so often in history, that those responsible for the disaster will evade responsibility. George Bush will fade from memory in a few years. What will remain is the impression that Israel and the Jews dragged the poor US into a despicable adventure.
The American cocoon: Centuries of lording it over slaves, butchering Indians, and pushing aside Mexicans have ill-prepared white America to live in civilized company, much less to act as maestro for the globe. As Johnny Cochran could tell them, those gloves don't fit. Easy victories over weak, captive or Stone Age adversaries served to teach all the wrong lessons, creating a perverse set of American family values. Unlimited resources, right there for the stealing; fertile fields, awaiting unpaid labor; fragile southern neighbors available to be mauled for sport and profit - a heady brew swilled sloppily, on a mean drunken binge of four hundred years.
Entitlement is a word the Bush men abhor. Nevertheless, it is the essence of their distilled, white American sense of themselves as entitled to each bloody slab of meat they can gouge from the baggage or body of the unwary. Ever since there has been such a thing as American popular culture, predation has been celebrated. Killer cowboys, killer soldiers, killer cops, killer business tycoons. John Wayne played all of these roles, which is why he is the quintessential white American actor. The parts he played, the ease with which he dominated, reverberate through centuries of cultural memory and idealization, a birthright bequeathed in full to the children of more recent white immigrants.
People die all around white Americans, an historical fact that is also reflected in exaggerated popular cultural forms. White Americans are entitled to live, and live well. Others are not. Others means non-whites, in the nation that invented whiteness to subsume into a melting pot "all the races of Europe" while separating out the Others as non-entitled, nonwhites. It was only yesterday that these social relationships constituted the most inviolable laws of the land - capital punishment was instantaneously imposed on those who offended the birthright privileges of white Americans.
Like advantageous traits in biological evolution, the human social organism - through culture -retains those behaviors and worldviews that work. Aggression against Native Americans worked for the European settlers - it brought them free land. Slavery made them kings and queens and princes and princesses, and rich. Foreign conquests of weaker, darker people made them respected among Europeans. Except in the Civil War that they wished they had not fought and treated until just yesterday as a great tragedy, relatively few white Americans were killed in these conflicts. Predation was a good trait. It worked.
Armed and extremely dangerous from the day they set foot on North American shores for the express purpose of claiming title to everything within range of their imaginations, white Americans "learned" that they were admired by the survivors among the people they preyed upon and enslaved. They gained this knowledge from each other, the only people whose opinions counted. Their overwhelming arsenals brooked no objection to the self-evident fact of their innate superiority and... goodness. Who would disagree?
In this closed, continental conversation a worldview was refined that has grown so fundamental to white American methods of thought, so perfect in its affirmation of self-serving assumptions, so automatically corrective of unwanted information, that the social organism is all but impermeable to disagreeable facts. Outside of the centuries-old American cocoon, much of reality simply does not compute.
CARTOONS AND THE 'CLASH OF FREEDOMS'
The Respect Of A Cousin: “The portrayal of Muhammad in a pejorative fashion is to them an inconceivably offensive desecration, on the level of what would be for us the defilement of a Torah scroll. Because it was done in newspapers across Europe, it was a slap in the face repeated thousands of times… Freedom of expression theoretically protects the right of a non-Jew to desecrate a Torah scroll. Yet we would all view freedom of expression as a hollow defense to such a vile act.…Regardless of whether or not the European press was constitutionally free to publish the offensive images, the act was a blatant and vulgar act of disrespect to Islam.”
— Edward Miller, “The Respect Of A Cousin,” The Jewish Week, Feb. 10, 2006.
IRAN AND BEYOND
More American Mistakes in the Middle East: Once again, Israel is leading America by the nose into more trouble in the Middle East.
There are two major problems looming on the horizon, the new talk of “destabilizing” the Palestinian government because Hamas won in the democratically held elections and a possible attack on Iran. Both of these stories have appeared in the New York Times in the past few days.
First, it was America who said there should be “democratic elections” in the Middle East. So, Hamas, won the election. But now, America and Israel are not happy that Hamas won, so the want to go against democracy and find a way to destabilize Palestine so that new elections will be held. The Americans and the Israelis think that this will lead to the defeat of Hamas. WRONG! In fact, if this is done, Hamas, because of the rage of the Palestinians against the Americans and the Israelis will win even more seats in the parliament than they presently have.
Somehow, it’s like the nonsense that Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz spread before America went into Iraq by saying, “The Iraqi people will greet us with joy and flowers.”
Second, if Iran is attacked, then they will counterattack against Israel with missiles that can hit anywhere within Israel. This will lead to a bloodbath on both sides. The vaunted “Patriot missiles” have been shown to be effective against new and sophisticated Russian and Chinese missiles of the sort the Iranians now have. Furthermore, the Iranians will send thousands of troops into Iraq and they will overwhelm the American forces who are outnumbered as it is. The “Iraqi army” will fade away, join the Iranians and they will combine to fight against the American occupation forces.
If American gets involved with the attack on Iran, the Iranians will cut pipelines to the West, and will most likely sink a ship or two in the Gulf of Hormuz, thus cutting off even more oil—and we will see the price of oil skyrocket to over $150.00 a barrel or more. With the American economy already in shambles, this will create a disaster for the dollar that it may never recover from, and China and others will drop all their American investments and convert to the Euro overnight—which will leave America in an even worse mess.
Add to this, that this will also awaken anti-American feeling and reaction in the rest of the Muslim world, and there will be no safe place for any American interests in the Muslim world—from McDonald’s to the Hiltons and others who represent America to the Muslim man and woman in the street. No government, no Imam, no political party can stop the stampede of anger that is now afoot in the Muslim world—the cartoons were but a small thing that broke the camel’s back. The cartoons and American and Israeli actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine have pushed the world’s Arabs and Muslims to the point of anger that cannot be assuaged any time in any way at this time—unless Bush and the Israelis back down, they will find that they will have opened a Pandora’s box that will release tigers who will tear at the U.S. and Israel the rest of our lifetime.
The second-generation revolutionaries of Iran: At a superficial level it appears that the Ahmadinejad government is preparing for conflict and is reordering the entire machinery of government accordingly. But the changes introduced since August have a deeper meaning; they signify the coming of age of so-called "second-generation" revolutionaries who were propelled into a position of leadership by Ahmadinejad's surprise election victory last June.
The most important feature of the second-generation revolutionaries is that they developed their political consciousness in the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, and not in the revolutionary struggle against the Pahlavi regime. While they are intensely loyal to the memory of the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (the leader of the Iranian revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic), the second-generation revolutionaries have tenuous ties (at best) to the conservative clerical establishment that controls the key centers of political and economic power.
The central question is how the second-generation revolutionaries led by Ahmadinejad view potential conflict with the US. The answer to this question lies in a better understanding of the second-generation revolutionaries' background, ideology and socio-economic agenda.
The key personalities in this vast network are former IRGC commanders; this includes Ahmadinejad and nearly all members of his inner circle. This military-ideological background is accentuated by a strong sense of Iranian nationalism and Shi'ite supremacism. Some influential second-generation revolutionaries (including Ahmadinejad himself) even harbor millenarian beliefs.
While they do not welcome conflict, they see it as an opportunity for a full-scale catharsis. To men like Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic is unconquerable; with its ability to project power well beyond its size and resources, rooted in its "undeterrable" nature.
On a more practical level, the second-generation revolutionaries may see conflict as an opportunity for entrenchment and a context-generator for their long-term socio-economic policies. They would certainly see it as an opportunity to reverse Westernization and bring Iran more in line with developments in the wider Muslim world (where anti-Western feelings proliferate and Islamic movements are increasingly on the rise).
While a US assault on Iran would probably engender all the above, it also runs the risk of unleashing dynamics that will elude the control of the Islamic Republic. First and foremost, conflict will almost certainly strengthen militant Islam in Iran, but of the kind that even the most hardline elements in the regime would not countenance.
At the Brink of the Abyss: All the elements have been put in place carefully and methodically for the U.S. to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. The IAEA resolution of Feb. 4 [.pdf] has paved a smooth road to confrontation, paralleling the events after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 2002. The use of low-yield earth-penetrating nuclear weapons will appear to be a military necessity, one that will save thousands of American and Israeli lives, deter an Iranian response, and achieve "rapid and favorable war termination on U.S. terms."
The public mindset has been thoroughly prepared for war by a barrage of untrue propaganda against Iran, extending over many years and gradually escalating in volume and tone. Iran has been demonized as the pure incarnation of evil: the foremost sponsor of terrorism, pursuing nuclear weapons, intent on harming America, harboring al-Qaeda, hiding arsenals of chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, oppressing its own people, intent on destroying Israel and the West.
However, neither the media nor Congress are bringing up the inconvenient little fact that the military option will necessarily lead to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. And they are unwilling to weigh the fact that using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear country like Iran will likely have disastrous consequences for the U.S. and the rest of the world.
We are told over and over that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to "deter" adversaries, which surely provides some comfort to otherwise moral people who devote their efforts to building up the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. The argument made some sense before: an adversary like the Soviet Union could arguably be deterred by the U.S. nuclear arsenal from launching a nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies, or even a massive conventional attack against Western Europe.
However, the "deterrent" role of U.S. nuclear weapons has recently been extended to deter WMD (e.g., chemical weapons) attacks, and the administration argues that "low-yield" nuclear weapons make deterrence more "credible" [.pdf], and low-yield earth penetrating weapons (B61-11) are already in the U.S. nuclear stockpile [.pdf]. Where does this lead?
As Keith Payne, a proponent of the current U.S. Nuclear Posture well puts it, "deterrence is inherently unreliable: prepare for its failure." This means that if an adversary undertakes an action that the U.S. nuclear threat was meant to deter, the U.S. will respond by making good on its threat and use its nuclear weapons. Couple this with the recently adopted preemptive National Security Strategy, and the fact that the U.S. accuses Iran of having chemical weapons and that it can "deploy chemical warheads on its long-range missiles," and you are led to the following scenario: If in response to an aerial attack on Iran's facilities, Iran fires or threatens to fire a single missile against Israel or against U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. will attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons.
Why is this a realistic expectation? Because no matter what the political cost, it would support the much broader role desired for the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the "second nuclear age," which currently has no credibility. According to the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is now also supposed to "dissuade adversaries from undertaking military programs or operations that could threaten U.S. interests or those of allies and friends." Well, it has already failed in this regard. Iran is pursuing its nuclear program, undeterred by all overt and less overt U.S. threats. Once the U.S. makes good on its nuclear deterrence threat once and uses its nuclear weapons, the validity of the nuclear deterrence policy against any action opposed by the U.S. will be established for future contingencies. There is a good reason why U.S. documents emphasize that "there is no customary or conventional international law to prohibit nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict."
Blaming the administration or the military for crossing the nuclear threshold is easy, but responsibility will be shared by all Americans.
All Americans knew, or should have known, that using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear country like Iran was a possibility given the Bush administration's new policies. All Americans could have voiced their opposition to these policies and demand that they be reversed.
The media will carry a heavy burden of responsibility. The mainstream media could have effectively raised public awareness of the possibility that the U.S. would use nuclear weapons against Iran. So far, they have chosen to almost completely hide the issue, which is being increasingly addressed in non-mainstream media.
Members of Congress could have raised the question forcefully, calling for public hearings, demanding public discussion of the administration's plans, and passing new laws or resolutions. So far they have failed to do so and are derelict in their responsibility to their constituents. Letters to the president from some in Congress ,  are a start, but are not likely to elicit a meaningful response or a change in plans and are a far cry from forceful action.
Scientific organizations and organizations dealing with arms control and nuclear weapons could have warned of the dangers associated with the Iran situation. So far, they have not done so (, , , , , , , ).
Scientists and engineers responsible for the development of nuclear weapons could have voiced concern [.pdf] when the new U.S. nuclear weapons policies became known, policies that directly involve the fruits of their labor. Their voices have not been heard.
Those who contribute their labor to the scientific and technical infrastructure that makes nuclear weapons and their means of delivery possible bear a particularly heavy burden of moral responsibility. Their voices have barely been heard.
The United States is preparing to enter a new era: an era in which it will enforce nuclear nonproliferation by the threat and use of nuclear weapons. The use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran will usher in a new world order. The ultimate goal is that no nation other than the U.S. should have a nuclear weapons arsenal.
It is not impossible that the U.S. will succeed in its goal. But it is utterly improbable. This is a big world. Once the U.S. crosses the nuclear threshold against a non-nuclear country, many more countries will strive to acquire nuclear weapons, and many will succeed.
The nuclear abyss may turn out to be a steep precipice or a gentle slope. Either way, it will be a one-way downhill slide toward a bottomless pit. We will have entered a path of no return, leading in a few months or a few decades to global nuclear war and unimaginable destruction.
But there are still choices to be made. Up to the moment the first U.S. nuclear bomb explodes, the fall into the abyss can be averted by choices made by each and every one of us. We may never know which choices prevented it if it doesn't happen. But if we make the wrong choices, we will know what they were. And so will future generations, even in a world where wars are fought with sticks and stones.
Chavez: “Don't mess with me Condoleezza”: President Hugo Chavez warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday "not to mess" with him and said her diplomatic efforts to turn Latin American nations against Venezuela would fail.
Chavez said Washington opposes his government because Venezuela — the world's fifth largest oil exporter — was broadening petroleum and natural gas development projects with fellow Latin American countries rather than the United States. "We are breaking the imperialist chains that bound us," Chavez said during his weekly television and radio program.
Chavez modified lyrics from a Venezuelan folk song, warning: "I sting those who rattle me, don't mess with me Condoleezza."
Relations between Caracas and Washington have been tense in recent months, with U.S. officials voicing concerns over the health of Venezuela's democracy and left-leaning Chavez threatening to cut off oil exports to the United States.
Join the ‘Scanning Evildoers' Telephone Intercepts’ Program!: The University of California at Berkeley's SETI@home, a scientific experiment that used Internet-connected computers to download and analyze radio telescope data in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), proved once and for all that no intelligent life exists in the universe. Bad news for them; good news for us! Now the NSA is free to use the name and the idea in its search for evildoers on domestic soil. Join us, and get ready to "Listen in on the Fun!"™
Most Americans agree that they'd be willing to give up nearly all of their personal privacy in order to feel more "safe." Do you want to be left behind with the Doubting Donnies and the Personal-Freedom Peggies? Or are you with us?
If you're still reading, we know you're the kind of person we're looking for. Like President Bush, you agree that personal privacy is overrated. Freedom is slavery. Civil liberties are civil constraints. Warrants are warrantless. Evildoers can run, but they can't buy Adidas sneakers in which to run. And, while the human being and fish can coexist peacefully, the human being and the evildoer cannot. That's why we need your help.
With the NSA listening to virtually every American, we have a Mount Rushmore-sized mountain of data to sift through. We need volunteers to help download and analyze intercepts, and help us search for terrorist activity.
Once you're approved by our vetting committee, we'll send you wiretaps of telephone conversations, or "intercepts" as we here at the NSA like to call them. Lots and lots of telephone conversations. Maybe conversations of people you know, maybe conversations of people you want to know, maybe even conversations of people talking about you! The possibilities for fun are endless, and if you're lucky, you might even be able to help Your Government prevent another 9/11.
Don't have a pre-9/11 mentality when the very best people in our country have a post-9/11 mentality. Sign up today, and get started Scanning Evildoers' Telephone Intercepts. For God. For Country. For George Dubya Bush.