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Is Bush planning an attack on Iran in March?


Douglas Caddy
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To understand what is happening in the Mideast, Professor Juan Cole’s daily blog is required reading. Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan, is a frequent guest on PBS’ Lehrer New Hour. Last Friday, before Suddam’s death, Prof. Cole in his blog printed a commentary by Larisa Alexandrovna, editor of www.rawstory.com. So perceptive are her observations that they merit immediate attention.

http://www.juancole.com/

By Larisa Alexandrovna

'PROLOGUE:

When someone does something obviously egregious, we tend to look past it because it is our nature to believe that people are naturally sane, good, and honest. We cannot imagine that anyone would willfully destroy their own country, violate their own laws, trample on their own people, and do it with such naked bravado while the world looked on.

But people have done it and do it even still, because there is also a darker side to human nature. Those of us who see the good in people look past actions that appear to be willfully evil not only because it is in our nature but it is also a foundation of our culture, as Americans, we believe guilt must be proved.

So we do not see what is going on before our eyes and directly in front of us. We look past it, around it, through it, but not at it. We cannot look directly at it, because if we do, we lose the vision of our beloved America and see something so sinister, that our minds would rather collapse than accept it.

But chess forces us to abandon our preconceptions and emotions. It pushes us to think in terms of cause and effect and it forces us to consider each action and counteraction in terms of the whole game. That is to say, chess forces us to think beyond our own present and fixed position, forcing us to reason every possible outcome of each action and counteraction.

Furthermore, chess teaches us to calculate not against a person, or a group, or a nation, but against a strategy that has no inherent religious, moral, or human characteristics. Master players can suspend their fixated self at will. Sadly, I am no master, and so I continue to struggle in seeing the game despite my human nature as an obstacle.

But sometimes, it just happens, something sets it off and there you are, inside the board, walking each action out in your mind and seeing the whole from beginning to end.

QUESTIONS AND SEEING THE BOARD

Sometime this morning, all the various and truly bizarre events the Bush administration has been engaged in recently with regard to troop levels and surges suddenly crystallized for me, as though I were sitting at a chess board and seeing the entire strategy unfold before my eyes.

This is of course my opinion and I may very well be wrong. In fact, I hope I am wrong. But the news that Saddam Hussein would be executed soon, and then the news that it would be in the next 48 hours, boggled my mind. Why on earth would anyone want to set off an ideological bomb during an already chaotic situation? I do not defend Saddam Hussein, not by any measure. But when Iraq is falling into total chaos and civil war, and as American troops continue to die, why would anyone want to add fuel to that fire, enough fuel to destroy what is left?

Suspend your emotions and think strategically. Now look at the question again and in context.

The administration is stalling as it supposedly weighs its Iraq options, when in fact they have already made their decision. How do I know they have made their decision? One need only look at the slow leaks coming out, not the least of which was Joe Lieberman’s op-ed in the Washington Post, to understand that we are going to be sending more troops to Iraq. So why does the administration wait to tell us this?

In the meantime, naval carriers are deployed to send Iran “a warning,” as though the threats thus far and the passing of sanctions are not warning enough. Add to that the detainment of Iranian diplomats invited to Iraq by the Iraqi leadership. Why is the US arresting diplomats invited to a country that the US claims is a sovereign nation governing itself?

And what about those sanctions, which ultimately mean nothing and sadly mean everything? The sanctions are so watered down as to have no real effect on the Iranian population or economy. Why even bother passing them?

Why censor Dr. Leverett's opinion piece on Iran when the CIA already cleared it?

Now given this entire context, ask yourself again why Saddam Hussein is being executed now, during Hajj even? What is the urgency?

THE UGLY STRATEGY I SEE

This is what I think may be playing out, my opinion of course. And yes, the strategy is so brazenly obvious, arrogant, and antithetical to everything America is supposed to be and stand for that it will be difficult to digest.

What the Bush administration appears to be waiting for, stalling for, while they allegedly mull over the Iraq question, is for the naval carriers and other key assets to fall into position. This will happen in the first week of January. Saddam Hussein is being executed (and I would not be surprised if every major network aired it) to enrage tempers and fuel more violence in Iraq. This violence will justify an immediate need for a troop surge, although I think it will be described as temporary. Remember too that the British press has for the past week done nothing but report that Britain will be attacked by the New Year. Clearly they are preparing themselves for a contingency, and that contingency is the massive violence that will erupt across the Muslim world as they watch (and I really believe it will be televised) Saddam’s hanging just before the New Year.

Why is the rush to execute Saddam Hussein not account for Hajj? Or does it?

The carriers will be in position. I imaging there will be an event of some sort in Iraq, or the violence will spill into friendly (our friends) territory. It will be dramatic, even more so than the immediate violence.

The attacks will be blamed on Iran, with the help of the Saudis and Pakistan. Iran will be blamed for something that happens in Iran. The naval carriers, again, will be in position. The sanctions, as watered down as they are, have given the administration the blank check they needed from the world (and they still have their blank check from Congress) to order aerial strikes. The surge troops will be in position, and I estimate that ground support will begin around late February, early March.

Saddam’s execution and the violence will also be a convenient cover while the administration moves pieces into position.

But what the planners in the administration don’t seem to realize is that the Persians are the most expert of chess players, and they are a patient, strategy minded opponent. They are watching this develop, all of it, and they too are planning their counteraction. They know better than to strike first, because in doing so, they would lose the moral argument in the eyes of the world, as well as the advantage of counteraction. The US has a superior air force, but Iran has a formidable navy, and while the house of Saud will fuel this, the fallout will be fatal. Why?

Here is why: Because the US is too stretched to be able to protect Israel, and Israel cannot sustain a long term attack. They can sustain a few hits, but they will not be able to sustain a full blown attack.

If you have any doubt, go back to the recent war with Lebanon. The British will pull out, despite promises of support. Blair is on his way out, and the British public will not tolerate support for Israel, because of its help in supporting US imperialistic aggression. Whatever terrorist cells lurk in the US, and make no mistake, our administration has done little to address this issue, will be activated.

Also consider that the house of Saud is not prepared to defend itself against an uprising, and that the US cannot protect it while simultaneously operating on three different fronts and covertly in god knows how many. Despite the various sectarian differences in the Muslim world, there are two enemies that they all agree to fight and die fighting against: the US and Israel. This attack will set off a Muslim counterattack so large, that nothing will be able to stop it or contain it.

But our leadership does not see this, because they cannot think strategically and won't think in human terms, so they are left with nothing but arrogance. And we ae left with a world ablaze.

Note: Larisa Alexandrovna maintains the blog At-Largely and is Managing Editor - of Raw Story.

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A Very Dangerous New Year

By Robert Parry

December 21, 2006

The first two or three months of 2007 represent a dangerous opening for an escalation of war in the Middle East, as George W. Bush will be tempted to “double-down” his gamble in Iraq by joining with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to strike at Syria and Iran, intelligence sources say.

President Bush’s goal would be to transcend the bloody quagmire bogging down U.S. forces in Iraq by achieving “regime change” in Syria and by destroying nuclear facilities in Iran, two blows intended to weaken Islamic militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli army and air force would carry the brunt of any new fighting albeit with the support of beefed-up U.S. ground and naval forces in the Middle East, the sources said. Bush is now considering a “surge” in U.S. troop levels in Iraq from about 140,000 to as many as 170,000. He also has dispatched a second aircraft carrier group to the coast of Iran.

So far, however, Bush has confronted stiff opposition from the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to the plan for raising troop levels in Iraq, partly because the generals don’t think it makes sense to commit more troops without a specific military mission.

But it’s unclear how much the generals know about the expanded-war option which has been discussed sometimes in one-on-one meetings among the principals – Bush, Olmert and Blair – according to intelligence sources.

Since the Nov. 7 congressional elections, the three leaders have conducted a round-robin of meetings that on the surface seem to have little purpose. Olmert met privately with Bush on Nov. 13; Blair visited the White House on Dec. 7; and Blair conferred with Olmert in Israel on Dec. 18.

All three leaders could salvage their reputations if a wider war broke out in the Middle East and then broke in their favor.

Bush and Blair spearheaded the March 2003 invasion of Iraq that has since turned into a disastrous occupation. In summer 2006, Olmert launched offensives against Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, drawing international condemnation for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and domestic criticism for his poorly designed war plans.

The three leaders also find themselves cornered by political opponents. Bush’s Republican Party lost control of both the House and Senate on Nov. 7; Blair succumbed to pressure from his own Labour Party and agreed to step down in spring 2007; and Olmert is suffering from widespread public disgust over the failed Lebanese war.

Yet, despite these reversals, the three leaders have rebuffed advice from more moderate advisers that they adopt less confrontational strategies and consider unconditional negotiations with their Muslim adversaries.

Most dramatically, Bush spurned a bipartisan Iraq Study Group plan that was co-authored by the Bush Family’s long-time counselor, former Secretary of State James Baker.

Instead of heeding Baker’s advice to begin a drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq and start talks with Iran and Syria, Bush rejected the notion of a “graceful exit” and then set unacceptable preconditions for talks with Iran and Syria.

In other words, Baker tossed a life preserver to Bush who threw it back.

Victory Agenda

Bush has continued to insist on “victory” in Iraq and has again ratcheted up his rhetoric. He now talks about waging a long war against Islamic “radicals and extremists,” not just the original goal of defeating “terrorists with global reach.”

At his news conference on Dec. 20, Bush cast this wider struggle against Islamists as a test of American manhood and perseverance by demonstrating to the enemy that “they can’t run us out of the Middle East, that they can’t intimidate America.”

Bush suggested, too, that painful decisions lay ahead in the New Year.

“I’m not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq, except that it’s going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices, because the enemy is merciless and violent,” Bush said.

Rather than scale back his neoconservative dream of transforming the Middle East, Bush argued for an expanded U.S. military to wage this long war.

“We must make sure that our military has the capability to stay in the fight for a long period of time,” Bush said. “I’m not predicting any particular theater, but I am predicting that it’s going to take a while for the ideology of liberty to finally triumph over the ideology of hate. …

“We’re in the beginning of a conflict between competing ideologies – a conflict that will determine whether or not your children can live in a peace. A failure in the Middle East, for example, or failure in Iraq, or isolationism, will condemn a generation of young Americans to permanent threat from overseas.”

So, rather than looking for a way out of the Iraq quagmire, Bush – now waist deep in the muck – is determined to press on.

Bush’s dilemma, however, is that time is working against him. Not only are the American people increasingly angry about U.S. troops caught in the middle of a sectarian civil war in Iraq, but Bush’s domestic and international political bases continue to erode.

Blair, who is widely derided in the United Kingdom as “Bush’s poodle,” is nearing the end of his tenure, and Bush’s Republican Party is worried about Election 2008 if American soldiers are still dying in Iraq in two years.

Plus, few military analysts believe a temporary troop “surge” alone will stop the steady deterioration in Iraq. Bush acknowledged as much at his news conference.

“In order to do so [‘the surge’], there must be a specific mission that can be accomplished with more troops,” Bush said. “That’s precisely what our commanders have said, as well as people who know a lot about military operations. And I agree with them that there’s got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before I agree on that strategy.”

Though not making much sense as a way to quell the civil strife in Iraq, a U.S. military buildup could help protect American interests in Iraq if Israeli attacks on Syria and Iran touch off retaliation against U.S. and British targets.

Wider War

For Bush, this idea of expanding the war outside Iraq also is not new.

Since spring 2006, Bush reportedly has been weighing military options for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, but he has encountered resistance from senior U.S. military officers.

As investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker, a number of senior U.S. officers were troubled by administration war planners who believed “bunker-busting” tactical nuclear weapons, known as B61-11s, were the only way to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities buried deep underground.

A former senior intelligence official told Hersh that the White House refused to remove the nuclear option from the plans despite objections from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Whenever anybody tries to get it out, they’re shouted down,” the ex-official said. [New Yorker, April 17, 2006]

By late April 2006, however, the Joint Chiefs finally got the White House to agree that using nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, less than 200 miles south of Tehran, was politically unacceptable, Hersh reported.

“Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning,” one former senior intelligence official said.

But – even with the nuclear option off the table – senior U.S. military officials worried about the political and economic fallout from a massive bombing campaign against Iran. Hersh wrote:

“Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.”

Hersh quoted a retired four-star general as saying, “The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don’t want to be condemned by history. They want to be able to say, ‘We stood up.’ ” [New Yorker, July 10, 2006]

Beyond the dangers from Iran’s nuclear program, the Bush administration views the growing Shiite crescent across the Middle East as a threat to U.S. influence.

Washington Post foreign policy analyst Robin Wright wrote that U.S. officials told her that “for the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East.” [Washington Post, July 16, 2006]

By summer 2006, Israeli sources were describing Bush’s interest in finding a pretext to hit back at Syria and Iran. That opening came when border tensions with Hamas in Gaza and with Hezbollah in Lebanon led to the capture of three Israeli soldiers and a rapid Israeli escalation of the conflict into an air-and-ground campaign against Lebanon.

Bush and his neoconservative advisers saw the Israeli-Lebanese conflict as an opportunity to expand the fighting into Syria and achieve the long-sought “regime change” in Damascus, Israeli sources said.

One Israeli source told me that Bush’s interest in spreading the war to Syria was considered “nuts” by some senior Israeli officials, although Prime Minister Olmert generally shared Bush’s hard-line strategy against Islamic militants. [see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush Wants Wider War.”]

In an article on July 30, 2006. the Jerusalem Post also hinted at the Israeli rejection of Bush’s suggestion of a wider war into Syria. “Defense officials told the Post … that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria,” the newspaper reported.

In August 2006, the Inter-Press Service provided additional details, reporting that the message was passed to Israel by Bush’s deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, who had been a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

“In a meeting with a very senior Israeli official, Abrams indicated that Washington would have no objection if Israel chose to extend the war beyond to its other northern neighbor, leaving the interlocutor in no doubt that the intended target was Syria,” a source told the Inter-Press Service.

In December 2006, Meyray Wurmser, a leading U.S. neoconservative whose spouse is a Middle East adviser to Vice President Cheney, confirmed that neocons in and outside the Bush administration had hoped Israel would attack Syria as a means of undermining the insurgents in Iraq.

“If Syria had been defeated, the rebellion in Iraq would have ended,” Wurmser said in an interview with Yitzhak Benhorin of the Ynet Web site. “A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hezbollah. … If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran that it would have weakened it and (changed) the strategic map in the Middle East.”

In early 2007, the revival of this neoconservative strategy of using the Israeli military to oust the Syrian government and to inflict damage on Iran’s nuclear program may represent a last-ditch – and high-risk – gamble by Bush and the neocons to salvage their historic legacy.

If that is the case, then Bush will approve “the surge” in U.S. forces into Iraq, which likely will be followed by some provocation that can be blamed on Syria or Iran, thus justifying the expanded war.

Betting the lives of American soldiers and countless civilians across the Middle East, Bush will follow the age-old adage of gambling addicts: in for a dime, in for a dollar.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

http://consortiumnews.com/2006/122006.html

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It's a chillingly plausible scenario, Douglas.

I posted a similar article from Robert Parry the other day but I can't seem to find it on the Forum. Anyway, here it is:

http://www.alternet.org/story/45852/

Parry suggests a plan has been hatched by Bush, Blair and Olmert for Israel to attack Syria and the Iranian nuclear sites, with America providing logistical support. The three leaders have had a round robin of meetings over the last two months.

The unholy haste in executing Saddam Hussein is highly suspicious, as Alexandrovna alludes to. I suspect it was an action designed to provoke a response from America's enemies in the region as a pretext for further action. I thought he was originally scheduled to be executed in late January, so there must be a reason for bringing it forward, since my faith in the good intentions of the US/Israel axis has long ago evaporated. I have read several articles suggesting that the US Administration refuses to rule out the possibility of utilising bunker-busting nuclear weapons in its campaign against Iran. Nothing can be ruled out, as I believe this US Administration, supported by unseen forces of apparently limitless evil, is the most dangerous in living memory.

The chess analogy is a good one. As in 2003, the Bush alliance may open with a few bold moves. However, as we have seen, their end game stinks. A baboon has more chance against Kasparov. The pawns in this game are us, of course, and the Bush regime is prone to gladly sacrificing pieces in order to achieve their unachievable goal--control of the entire Middle East.

Edited by Mark Stapleton
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Well, I'm not going to point any moral;

I'll leave that for yourself

Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking

You'd like to keep your health.

But every time I read the papers

That old feeling comes on;

We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy

And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy

And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy

And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a

Tall man'll be over his head, we're

Waist deep in the Big Muddy!

And the big fool says to push on!

Excerpted Words and music by Pete Seeger (1967)

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

by Bob Burnett

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0630-26.htm

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Thanks for posting that Doug. I agree that Bush will increase troop numbers in Iraq and that he will give Israel the go-ahead to bomb Iran. The timing of this is going to be very important. Bush will want to do it before Blair leaves office. It is also significant that Blair moved Jack Straw from the post of minister of defence. Straw had already made it clear that he was opposed to taking military action against Iran. When Blair made this decision in May, 2006, I posted on the forum that this was a sign that he was willing to go along with Bush over his military plans concerning Iran.

Interestingly, the reason why Clinton refused to sanction a US invasion of Iraq was his belief, that if he did so, the US would eventually become involved in a war with Iran. Ironically, this judgment was based on intelligence provided by the CIA.

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Thanks for posting that Doug. I agree that Bush will increase troop numbers in Iraq and that he will give Israel the go-ahead to bomb Iran. The timing of this is going to be very important. Bush will want to do it before Blair leaves office. It is also significant that Blair moved Jack Straw from the post of minister of defence. Straw had already made it clear that he was opposed to taking military action against Iran. When Blair made this decision in May, 2006, I posted on the forum that this was a sign that he was willing to go along with Bush over his military plans concerning Iran.

Interestingly, the reason why Clinton refused to sanction a US invasion of Iraq was his belief, that if he did so, the US would eventually become involved in a war with Iran. Ironically, this judgment was based on intelligence provided by the CIA.

There are many sad lessons of history, one of them concerns itself with the sad reality that history does indeed repeat itself cyclically. Among other lessons of history, is the fact that the actions of leaders of government's presupposes a moral bearing in which it is a very hopeful sign when the realm of politics is elevated from 'politicians' to 'statesmen.' The world stage in the current epoch is filled with politicians, but there are precious few statesmen.....The last lesson I will note is that the human condition being what it is, hate and bloodlust will always exist, the ideal is that statesmen rule with the goal of creating a better world for the next generation instead of engaging in geopolitical powerplays for global hegemony and control the aforementioned aspect of the human condition in their own domain, so that the common good is the prevailing norm as opposed to anarchy and chaos.

It is a historical fact that when conflicts of epic proportions [see WW1 & WW2] kill large amounts of humanity, and the cries of no more war, have faded......after two or three generations have passed the lesson of the last bloodletting are, in many way's forgotten...or, at least relegated to the history books....Songwriter David Byrne wrote the words once "Same as it ever was," which seems apropos.

While I wiil not offer my speculations as to whether what is being discussed will come to pass, I will say that if "it" happens, it would not be very surprising if it did.....

Edited by Robert Howard
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If the assault on Iran does proceed as some are predicting, I think we can safely say that 2006 was the end of an era.

One observation that makes me especially alarmed is that the (zionist) mass media is now spinning the proposition that the neocons have lost power and influence since 2003. I just watched the BBC World 'Service' replay this theme in a special 'insight' into current US politics

Now, it may be true that some independent-minded Americans in positions of influence are increasngly disturbed about the policies of the Bush Administration, but the implication is being cast that if Bush launches another mad and very much expanded war in the middle east, it will not at the behest of the Zionist/Israeli lobby at all - but his own personal adventure, a gamble "to save his political skin". Spin and lies? I think so.

I usually avoid speculation about the near future... When will the next terror attack strike? How many dead in Iraq next month? It's usually just a way to get dizzy. The only ones who really know are the would-be perpetrators - and they must constantly need to adapt their plans, in any case - to deal with the unexpected.

However, this new war proposition has such serious potential consequenees that it is appropriate to get out the maps and play scenarios, just like they do in Washington (and presumably in Tehran as well).

The President of Iran, it is said, is quietly confident that there will be no attack. This may be based on a realistic assessement of Iran's ability to wreak havoc on the world economy in retaliation. However, I fear it may also be based on a misapprehension. The Iranian Government may not realise the callousness of the warmonguers they face - and how they are perfectly willing to risk the health of the world economy to consolidate their power. Indeed, that may even be part of the game plan (watch out middle classes - your histoirical lucky run may be about to end).

Let's look, as others have done, at the scenario of a massive assault on Iran. I's hard to imagine the Iranians NOT retaliating by creating havoc in the Straights of Hormuz.

map_middle_east.gif

Blocking the straights to shipping would not be hard. The miracle really is that this narrow but crucial oil 'corridor' has operated so well for so long. Making the straights effectively unusable would cut the flow of a very high proportion of the world's oil (is it more than 50%? I'm not sure... but it's a huge slice of the oil extraction pie).

This would precipitate an oil shock on a scale that would make 1973 seem minor.

Presumably a massive global recession would follow in short order.

Meanwhile, violence flares throughout the middle east. The US / Israeli / British? gangster-invaders move to control the most oil rich parts of the Gulf and at least one major route to get oil out of the region. Is there an alternative to re-opening the Straights of Hormuz? A pipeline / pipelines through Saudi Arabia?

The mind boggles.

Do they have a plan to occupy southern Iran on a permanent basis? Northern Saudi Arabia?

The mind boggles again.

As an envonmentalist, I should say that there is some cold comfort in this scenario. Just as the US skies became somewhat cleaner (on a very temporary basis) in the days following 9-11, oil scarcity and sky-rocketing fuel prices would force a reduction in oil usage.

But what would be left of our civilization, now on a permanent war footing, locked in endless conflict, our mass media controlled, our civil liberties in tatters, our 'post-war' prosperity a memory, our society increasingly divided into rich and poor, visions of global peace and harmony mere relics of happier times.

The mind thrice boggles.

In my opinion, the one thing likely to stop this next war is if the ultimate perpetrators estimate that it might blow their cover for ever and a day - and that they could be named, blamed and brought to justice if they take this fateful extra step of turning proposals for a 100 years war into the real thing.

After 1990, after 2001, after 2003, after Walt and Mearsheimer... only fools would NOT hold the Zionist lobby accountable if there is an attack on Iran with the horrific, entirely predictable consequences.

Are most of the western intelligensia really such fools?

Edited by Sid Walker
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I couldn't believe that the US and UK Governments would be stupid enough to invade Iraq - sadly I was proved wrong.

I don't believe that the US is stupid enough to invade Iran - I hope I'm not proved wrong again. If they do go ahead (and heaven help us all if that's the case), then I'm assuming it will be on their own - I don't think the UK has the militray resources or political will to go to war in Iran.

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I couldn't believe that the US and UK Governments would be stupid enough to invade Iraq - sadly I was proved wrong.

I don't believe that the US is stupid enough to invade Iran - I hope I'm not proved wrong again. If they do go ahead (and heaven help us all if that's the case), then I'm assuming it will be on their own - I don't think the UK has the militray resources or political will to go to war in Iran.

The New York Times today prints a large photograph of a group of American troops with the caption underneath: "Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division boarded a plane yesterday in North Carolina. About 3,300 are to be sent to Kuwait by the end of the week."

Another ominous development is reported below:

Second U.S. carrier group to deploy to Gulf: sources

By Kristin Roberts Wed Jan 3, 4:40 PM ET

Reuters

The Pentagon will send a second aircraft carrier and its escort ships to the Gulf, defense officials said on Wednesday, as a warning to Syria and Iran and to give commanders more flexibility in the region.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Bremerton, Washington-based USS John C. Stennis strike group would deploy this month. It will put 5,000 more U.S. sailors in the region, bringing the total to 16,000.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier group entered the Gulf in December.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment, saying the Defense Department would not discuss future deployments or ship movements. But military analysts said the move was intended to demonstrate U.S. resolve in the face of acts by Iran and Syria that it sees as provocative, such as Tehran's pursuit of its nuclear program.

The Stennis had been scheduled to deploy to the Pacific region. But the Pentagon agreed instead to send the carrier group to the Gulf after a request from U.S. Central Command, the military command responsible for Middle East operations.

Senior defense officials have said that request was aimed at increasing Central Command's flexibility in a variety of operations and providing deterrence in the region.

INCREASED U.S. PRESENCE

Washington has locked horns with Tehran over the Iranian nuclear program. American defense officials also regularly charge Iran and Syria with fanning sectarian violence in Iraq and contributing to the deteriorating situation there by providing arms and technologies.

The second carrier, while adding relatively few service members to the region, is valuable as a symbol of America's increased presence in the Gulf, military analysts said.

Longer term, however, the Bush administration must decide if it will keep two carrier groups in the Gulf indefinitely.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates previously said the increased American presence in the Gulf was a message to the region as a whole and not a response to any specific action by Iran.

"I think the message that we are sending to everyone, not just Iran, is that the United States is an enduring presence in this part of the world," Gates told reporters on a December visit to Baghdad. "We will be here for a long time and everybody needs to remember that -- both our friends and those who might consider themselves our adversaries."

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates previously said the increased American presence in the Gulf was a message to the region as a whole and not a response to any specific action by Iran.

"I think the message that we are sending to everyone, not just Iran, is that the United States is an enduring presence in this part of the world," Gates told reporters on a December visit to Baghdad. "We will be here for a long time and everybody needs to remember that -- both our friends and those who might consider themselves our adversaries."

Edited by Mark Stapleton
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I couldn't believe that the US and UK Governments would be stupid enough to invade Iraq - sadly I was proved wrong.

I don't believe that the US is stupid enough to invade Iran - I hope I'm not proved wrong again. If they do go ahead (and heaven help us all if that's the case), then I'm assuming it will be on their own - I don't think the UK has the militray resources or political will to go to war in Iran.

The New York Times today prints a large photograph of a group of American troops with the caption underneath: "Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division boarded a plane yesterday in North Carolina. About 3,300 are to be sent to Kuwait by the end of the week."

Another ominous development is reported below:

Second U.S. carrier group to deploy to Gulf: sources

By Kristin Roberts Wed Jan 3, 4:40 PM ET

Reuters

The Pentagon will send a second aircraft carrier and its escort ships to the Gulf, defense officials said on Wednesday, as a warning to Syria and Iran and to give commanders more flexibility in the region.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Bremerton, Washington-based USS John C. Stennis strike group would deploy this month. It will put 5,000 more U.S. sailors in the region, bringing the total to 16,000.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier group entered the Gulf in December.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment, saying the Defense Department would not discuss future deployments or ship movements. But military analysts said the move was intended to demonstrate U.S. resolve in the face of acts by Iran and Syria that it sees as provocative, such as Tehran's pursuit of its nuclear program.

The Stennis had been scheduled to deploy to the Pacific region. But the Pentagon agreed instead to send the carrier group to the Gulf after a request from U.S. Central Command, the military command responsible for Middle East operations.

Senior defense officials have said that request was aimed at increasing Central Command's flexibility in a variety of operations and providing deterrence in the region.

INCREASED U.S. PRESENCE

Washington has locked horns with Tehran over the Iranian nuclear program. American defense officials also regularly charge Iran and Syria with fanning sectarian violence in Iraq and contributing to the deteriorating situation there by providing arms and technologies.

The second carrier, while adding relatively few service members to the region, is valuable as a symbol of America's increased presence in the Gulf, military analysts said.

Longer term, however, the Bush administration must decide if it will keep two carrier groups in the Gulf indefinitely.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates previously said the increased American presence in the Gulf was a message to the region as a whole and not a response to any specific action by Iran.

"I think the message that we are sending to everyone, not just Iran, is that the United States is an enduring presence in this part of the world," Gates told reporters on a December visit to Baghdad. "We will be here for a long time and everybody needs to remember that -- both our friends and those who might consider themselves our adversaries."

That's terrible news.

The US wants the oil so bad they are willing to risk a conflict to get it.

Two years until the next US election is too long.

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It's definitely getting more and more depressing.

Heard on a local radio news bulletin a couple of days ago, that plans are afoot to send up to 40,000 (?- unsure of figure as I was driving at the time, reception not good!) more US troops to Iraq, not to train the locally recruited security forces, but to actively seek out and disarm the militiamen who are helping destabilise the country.

Which ominously ties in with the prediction of more troops being sent to the region as a pre-cursor to an Iranian invasion...

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I couldn't believe that the US and UK Governments would be stupid enough to invade Iraq - sadly I was proved wrong.

I don't believe that the US is stupid enough to invade Iran - I hope I'm not proved wrong again. If they do go ahead (and heaven help us all if that's the case), then I'm assuming it will be on their own - I don't think the UK has the militray resources or political will to go to war in Iran.

Mr. Greer admits his wrong assessment on Iraq. He CAN admit when he is wrong. When will he see the light on Apollo?

Jack

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I couldn't believe that the US and UK Governments would be stupid enough to invade Iraq - sadly I was proved wrong.

I don't believe that the US is stupid enough to invade Iran - I hope I'm not proved wrong again. If they do go ahead (and heaven help us all if that's the case), then I'm assuming it will be on their own - I don't think the UK has the militray resources or political will to go to war in Iran.

Mr. Greer admits his wrong assessment on Iraq. He CAN admit when he is wrong. When will he see the light on Apollo?

Jack

Jack, I'm as fallible as the next man! And I do admit when I'm wrong.

Now, if you want to discuss the error you made about those Apollo shadows, best take it to another thread instead of threadjacking this one... ;)

I'd suggest this one I started last year. I'll respond to Steven Phillips post to get the ball rolling.

Happy New Year by the way :D

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Scott Ritter has a new book out, "alleging that Jerusalem is pushing the Bush administration into war with Iran, and accusing the pro-Israel lobby of dual loyalty and “outright espionage” (according to this review in The Jewish Daily Forward).

Here's a longer extract:

Later in the book, Ritter adds: “Let there be no doubt: If there is an American war with Iran, it is a war that was made in Israel and nowhere else.”

Ritter’s book echoes recent high-profile attacks on the pro-Israel lobby by former President Jimmy Carter and by scholars Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. Ritter, who recently returned from a weeklong speaking engagement on The Nation cruise, speaks of a “network of individuals” that pursues Israel’s interests in the United States. The former weapons inspector alleges that some of the pro-Israel lobby’s activities “can only be described as outright espionage and interference in domestic policies.” Ritter also accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee of having an inherent dual loyalty. He called for the organization to be registered as a foreign agent.

Representatives for both Aipac and the Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Ritter’s accusations.

In his book, Ritter also accuses the pro-Israel lobby of invoking the memory of the Holocaust and of crying antisemitism whenever Israel is accused of betraying America. “This is a sickening and deeply disturbing trend that must end,” Ritter writes.

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