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Is Bush planning an attack on Iran in March?


Douglas Caddy
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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.

Ritter was ignored when he said there were no WMD's in Iraq and he'll probably be ignored again.

Ritter is right, of course. America's Middle East foreign policy has been fully captured by Israel and it has been this way for years. The rot started on November 22 1963 by my reckoning, which is one of the reasons why I suspect Israeli involvement in the assassination.

Interestingly, Israel's aggression towards the Palestinians seems to be subject to more mainstream media scrutiny in Jerusalem than in Washington--testimony to the power of Israeli lobby's hold over the American media.

Edited by Mark Stapleton
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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.

John: Your assertion about the role of Israel in the upcoming war against Iran is proven to be accurate, if one is to believe the following article from today's Times (U.K.):

The Sunday Times January 07, 2007

Focus: Mission Iran

Israel will not tolerate Iran going nuclear and military sources say it will use tactical strikes unless Iran abandons its programme. Is Israel bluffing or might it really push the button? Uzi Mahnaimi in New York and Sarah Baxter in Washington report

In an Israeli air force bunker in Tel Aviv, near the concert hall for the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Major General Eliezer Shkedi might one day conduct operations of a perilous kind. Should the order come from the Israeli prime minister, it will be Shkedi’s job as air force commander to orchestrate a tactical nuclear strike on Iran.

Two fast assault squadrons based in the Negev desert and in Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, are already training for the attack.

On a plasma screen, Shkedi will be able to see dozens of planes advance towards Iran, as well as the electronic warfare aircraft jamming the Iranian and Syrian air defences and the rescue choppers hovering near the border, ready to move in and pluck out the pilots should the mission go wrong.

Another screen will show live satellite images of the Iranian nuclear sites. The prime target will be Natanz, the deep and ferociously protected bunker south of Tehran where the Iranians are churning out enriched uranium in defiance of the United Nations security council.

If things go according to plan, a pilot will first launch a conventional laser-guided bomb to blow a shaft down through the layers of hardened concrete. Other pilots will then be ready to drop low-yield one kiloton nuclear weapons into the hole. The theory is that they will explode deep underground, both destroying the bunker and limiting the radioactive fallout.

The other potential targets are Iran’s uranium conversion facility at Isfahan — uncomfortably near a metropolis of 4.5m people — and the heavy water power reactor at Arak, which might one day be able to produce enough plutonium to make a bomb. These will be hit with conventional bombs.

In recent weeks Israeli pilots have been flying long-haul as far as Gibraltar to simulate the 2,000-mile round trip to Natanz. “There is no 99% success in this mission. It must be a perfect 100% or better not at all,” one of the pilots expected to fly on the mission told The Sunday Times.

The Israelis say they hope as fervently as the rest of the world that this attack will never take place. There is clearly an element of sabre-rattling in their letting it be known the plan exists and that the pilots are already in training. But in the deeply dangerous and volatile Middle East, contingency plans can become horrible reality.

NO nuclear weapon has been fired in anger since the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Should Israel take such a drastic step, it would inflame world opinion — particularly in Muslim states — and unleash retaliation from Iran and its allies. But Israelis have become increasingly convinced that a “second holocaust” of the Jews is brewing, stoked by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president and chief Holocaust denier, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be destroyed.

Western Europe and the United States have been trying to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, using the carrot of co-operation with a legitimate nuclear energy programme and the stick of UN sanctions. But they have had no effect.

As a result, Israel sees itself standing on its own and fighting for its very existence. It got a taste of what Iran was capable of during last summer’s war in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy troops fighting from bunkers secretly built by Iranian military engineers, humiliated the Israeli army and rained missiles into northern Israel.

Every Israeli government has vowed never to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Ariel Sharon, when he was prime minister, ordered the military to be ready for a conventional strike on Iran’s nuclear programme. Since then, however, the Iranians have strengthened their nuclear facilities and air defences, making a conventional strike less likely to succeed.

“There are 24 strong batteries around Natanz, making it one of the most protected sites on earth,” said an Israeli military source. Its centrifuge halls, where the uranium is enriched, are heavily protected at least 70ft underground.

Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, recently “let slip” the world’s worst-kept secret that Israel is a nuclear power; Israeli defence experts are now openly debating the use of nukes against Iran. Shlomo Mofaz, a reservist colonel in Israeli military intelligence, believes that tactical nuclear weapons will be required to penetrate the defences that Iran has built around its nuclear facilities.

Israel developed tactical nuclear weapons in the early 1970s for use on the battlefield. In an attack on Iran, its air force would be expected to use a low-yield nuclear device of 1 kiloton (equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT), loaded on a bunker-buster missile.

“If the nuclear device explodes deep underground there will be no radioactive fallout,” said Dr Ephraim Asculai of the Tel Aviv Institute for Strategic Studies, who worked for the Israel Atomic Energy Commission for more than 40 years.

Professor Peter Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist at King’s College, London, was less sure. “The definition of low-yield nuclear weapons is not easy,” he said. “I assume that it includes any device which is less than 5 kilotons. If such a bunker-buster missile is exploded at 70ft below ground” — thought to be the minimum depth of the hidden centrifuges in Natanz — “some radioactive fallout is expected.”

Nonetheless, Professor Martin Van Creveld, an Israeli military expert, said last week that tactical nuclear weapons were “the only way, if there is a way at all, to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites”.

Some senior American defence analysts agree. One source with ties to the Pentagon said: “There is no way for Israel to engage effectively in such a strike without using nuclear weapons.” But, he asked: “Would the Israelis dare?”

For all their military preparations, not even the Israelis are sure of the answer. Their decision rests to a great extent on their assessment of two further questions. How close is Tehran to having a nuclear bomb? And what does Washington really intend to do about it?

The actions and rhetoric of Ahmadinejad have been deliberately provocative. Last week he boasted that the Iranians would not only continue their atomic programme but also give a “historic slap in the face” to nations that opposed it. He has vowed that America, Israel and Britain will disappear “like the pharaohs” of Egypt and he believes that oil-rich Iran is well on its way to becoming the regional superpower.

Next month, on the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, he intends to celebrate what he calls his country’s mastery of nuclear technology. He promised that 3,000 centrifuges would be ready by the end of last year and that 60,000 would ultimately be in place. In the event, technical problems have slowed the programme. The Iranians are believed to have installed only 500 centrifuges at Natanz and they will reach 2,000 by spring at the earliest.

This is enough, however, to convince some Israelis that Iran is reaching the “point of no return” at which it has the technical know-how to build a nuclear bomb.

Ahmadinejad insists that Iran is developing only peaceful nuclear energy, but the development of long-range ballistic missiles such as the Shehab-3 suggests a different story. Israeli intelligence sources say Iran recently tested this missile with dummy nuclear weapons for its warheads.

“The Iranians are progressing quickly with their delivery platform for their future nuclear weapons,” said a source. “With an approximate range of 1,000 miles, the Shehab-3 can reach all of Israel.”

Meir Dagan, head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, has told members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, that his organisation assumes the Iranians will have a complete nuclear device by 2009.

In these circumstances, sabre-rattling by the Israelis has its uses. Whether or not Israel intends to go nuclear, it might be in its interest to spread the word that it will. “In the cold war, we made it clear to the Russians that it was a virtual certainty that nukes would fly and fly early,” said an American defence source. “Israel may be adopting the same tactics: ‘You produce a weapon; you die’.”

Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, believes it could be a dangerous ruse. “You never want to threaten something you don’t follow through on,” he said.

Rubin believes the Israeli debate about using tactical nuclear weapons is “much more likely to be about pressing the United States to do the job”.

President George W Bush included Iran in his original “axis of evil”. Bogged down now in Iraq, he has cooled on the idea of attacking Iran. At a private meeting in the Oval Office last autumn, he was openly sceptical that America possessed enough intelligence data to carry out the job thoroughly. Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, told Congress at his confirmation hearings last month that he would be willing to give the order for strikes on Iran only as an “ absolute last resort”.

However, the Bush administration is still tempted to deliver a punishing blow to Iran for its regional meddling in Iraq and Lebanon. At the very least, it would like the swaggering regime in Tehran to believe that the United States might yet decide to cut it down to size. The nomination of Admiral William Fallon, a former navy fighter pilot, to command US military operations in the area is regarded as a sign of forward planning. Fallon does not have a reputation as a hawk, but in the words of a Pentagon source: “If you go after Iran, you have a naval war on your hands.”

Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner, a former National War College professor who has wargamed airstrikes on Iran, believes an American attack remains a possibility. The current deployment of a second US aircraft carrier strike force to the Gulf region, as well as British minesweepers, is a “huge deal”, he said. “It is only necessary to do that if you are planning to strike Iran and deal with the consequences” — including an attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the sea route for much of the world’s oil from the Gulf states.

General John Abizaid, whom Fallon is due to replace, warned last year that an American attack on Iran could cripple oil supplies, unleash a “surrogate” terrorist army and provoke Iranian missile attacks on America’s Middle Eastern allies.

Should Israel launch a tactical nuclear strike, the consequences could be catastrophic. Gardiner believes that there would not only be “low DNA operations” — difficult to trace directly back to the Iranians — such as terrorist attacks, but the Muslim world would also be so inflamed that the stability of pro-western regimes would be threatened.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to see Pakistan (a nuclear power) falling to Islamic fundamentalists,” Gardiner said. “It could mean that in order to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons, we could be handing them to a terrorist nation.”

According to a senior British defence official, an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran is simply unthinkable: “The damage to Israel to be the only state to use nuclear weapons in anger since 1945 is dangerous stuff. They cannot be seen to be taking the lead on this.”

Or can they? Ephraim Sneh, Israel’s deputy defence minister, said recently: “At the end of the day it is always down to the Jews to deal with the problem.”

US analysts concur that America would never give its consent for such an operation, but as in the attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in 1981, it may not object all that vociferously after the event. Nor is it thought that Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt would mourn the humbling of Shi’ite Iran, their main regional rival.

Are Israel’s plans an elaborate bluff or not? In today’s dangerously volatile world, who will dare to make that call?

Strike one: Israel took out Saddam’s reactor in 1981

IF Israeli forces attack nuclear sites in Iran, it will not be their first pre-emptive strike against a perceived nuclear threat. In 1981 Israeli jets bombed a reactor in Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein getting nuclear weapons.

The Iraqi dictator had built a 40-megawatt research reactor just south of Baghdad with the aid of France, which supplied technology, expertise and about 27lb of uranium-235.

Fearing this could be used in the long term to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, Israel decided to destroy what became known as the Osirak reactor. Israel’s first move was in 1980 when war broke out between Iraq and Iran: its chief of army intelligence urged Iran to bomb Osirak.

A pair of Iranian jets attacked the site, but damage was minor. So Israel decided to bomb it, secretly building a dummy site and carrying out full dress rehearsals. On June 7, 1981, Israel launched Operation Opera: six F-15I and eight F-16I jets flew over Jordanian and Saudi Arabian airspace and caught Iraqi defences by surprise.

The raid crippled the reactor. Many countries, including the United States, condemned the attack. Opposition parties in Israel claimed that it had been cynically timed to coincide with a looming election.

Some Iraqi scientists later said the attack spurred Saddam to redouble his efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Attempts were made to rebuild the Osirak facility. However, Saddam’s nuclear ambitions were again halted when coalition forces bombed Osirak during the 1991 Gulf war.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2535177,00.html

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John: Your assertion about the role of Israel in the upcoming war against Iran is proven to be accurate, if one is to believe the following article from today's Times (U.K.)....

The Sunday Times January 07, 2007

Focus: Mission Iran

Israel will not tolerate Iran going nuclear and military sources say it will use tactical strikes unless Iran abandons its programme. Is Israel bluffing or might it really push the button? Uzi Mahnaimi in New York and Sarah Baxter in Washington report

An interesting article Douglas.

I trust it's not too contentious to point out what must be obvious to intelligent readers of any of Mr Murdoch's newspapers (and Murdoch's newspapers are close to all the 'choice' we have, here in his home base of Australia).

Murdoch - and his Empire - are essentially playing on the same team as the Israel Lobby.

Therefore one should look at the function of an article such as this.

In part, I think it can be seen as getting public opinion ready for the shock of an attack.

But also, very sneakily, it makes the case for such an attack.

This is achieved by repeating a key lie without question or qualification, in a place in the article where it's slipped in, ancilliary to the main topic at that point.

This blatant lie is that "Israelis have become increasingly convinced that a “second holocaust” of the Jews is brewing, stoked by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president and chief Holocaust denier, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be destroyed."

Now, it's entirely possible that, in their state of paranoia born of decades of incessant war and non-stop illegal occupation, many Israelis do believe that the Iranian President "has repeatedly called for Israel to be destroyed".

And it's likely many in the western world as a whole believe that. After all, reputable organs such as The Sunday Times and the BBC tell us so, regularly.

One little problem with this war-justifying lie... it just ain't true.

See Lost in translation by Jonathan Steele, for instance.

If BBC and Sunday Times journalists don't know that, they are pig igorant.

I think it more likely that the authors and commentators in question are deliberate liars.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Article in today's Sunday Times (January 07, 2007)

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,20...35310_2,00.html

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran

Uzi Mahnaimi, New York and Sarah Baxter, Washington

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish targets around the world.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran which are believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear programme:

Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium enrichment

A uranium conversion facility near Isfahan where, according to a statement by an Iranian vice-president last week, 250 tons of gas for the enrichment process have been stored in tunnels

A heavy water reactor at Arak, which may in future produce enough plutonium for a bomb Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran’s nuclear programme indefinitely and prevent them from having to live in fear of a “second Holocaust”.

The Israeli government has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear weapons to be made in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared that “Israel must be wiped off the map”.

Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, has described military action against Iran as a “last resort”, leading Israeli officials to conclude that it will be left to them to strike.

Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. Three possible routes have been mapped out, including one over Turkey.

Air force squadrons based at Hatzerim in the Negev desert and Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, have trained to use Israel’s tactical nuclear weapons on the mission. The preparations have been overseen by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, commander of the Israeli air force.

Sources close to the Pentagon said the United States was highly unlikely to give approval for tactical nuclear weapons to be used. One source said Israel would have to seek approval “after the event”, as it did when it crippled Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak with airstrikes in 1981.

Scientists have calculated that although contamination from the bunker-busters could be limited, tons of radioactive uranium compounds would be released.

The Israelis believe that Iran’s retaliation would be constrained by fear of a second strike if it were to launch its Shehab-3 ballistic missiles at Israel.

However, American experts warned of repercussions, including widespread protests that could destabilise parts of the Islamic world friendly to the West.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, a Pentagon adviser, said Iran could try to close the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 20% of the world’s oil.

Some sources in Washington said they doubted if Israel would have the nerve to attack Iran. However, Dr Ephraim Sneh, the deputy Israeli defence minister, said last month: “The time is approaching when Israel and the international community will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran.”

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This article reminds me of two events that I attended while in Washington D.C.

The first being a progressive Caucus meeting at which the issue of a possible strike againast Iran was the topic. Indeed it was said that if the US military were going to destroy any nuclear facility, it would have to do it with nuclear weapons of some sort. The initial blasts themselves are not the biggest problem. Winds could blow toxens into Afghanistan and seveal surrounding countires.

The second was a talk given by Seymour Hersh, whom I met very briefly, at a meeting of the organisation 'alliance for justice'. At this talk Hersh spoke with certainty that the Bush administration was going to strike Iran following the November elections despite whatever outcome they might yield. Hersh spoke of his conversations with Mossad agents, CIA agents and high ranking officials in the Pentagon which convinced him of the imminence of this threat.

It has been in the wind for a while now, earlier than last July people were predicting the timing of a strike against Iran. If I have heard of these predictions, you can be sure that the Iranian Government has also.

John

Edited by John Geraghty
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From Zeenews.com:

Home > World

Iran vows to hit back at any Israeli strike

Tehran, Jan 07: Iran on Sunday warned it would make any foe "regret" an attack against the Islamic Republic after a British newspaper reported Israel was planning a strike against its nuclear facilities.

"Any action against the Islamic republic will not go without a response and the aggressor would regret the action very quickly," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.

A senior Israeli official has dismissed as "absurd" the report in the Sunday Times that the Jewish state had drawn up plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities in a tactical nuclear strike.

"This comes after the confession of the Israeli Prime Minister who acknowledged that the Israeli regime possesses a nuclear weapon," Hosseini said, referring to Ehud Olmert's apparent slip last year which broke a decades-long official silence on Israel's nuclear programme.

"It will convince world public opinion that the main threat for the world and the region is the Zionist regime," he added.

Bureau Report

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I think it is possible that these stories are an attempt to put pressure on the government of Iran. During the negotiations about bringing the Vietnam War to an end, stories were leaked to the North Vietnamese government that Nixon was mad and that he was in danger of ordering a nuclear strike on Vietnam. Luckily, they did not fall for this story and the US was forced to withdraw. Maybe, Bush is now using the same strategy.

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I think it is possible that these stories are an attempt to put pressure on the government of Iran. During the negotiations about bringing the Vietnam War to an end, stories were leaked to the North Vietnamese government that Nixon was mad and that he was in danger of ordering a nuclear strike on Vietnam. Luckily, they did not fall for this story and the US was forced to withdraw. Maybe, Bush is now using the same strategy.

I think you're right John, but judging by Iran's reponse I don't think they are going to be bluffed.

Both Israel and the US know that using even small scale nuclear weapons to destroy Iran's facilities is too risky. If anything goes wrong the whole world, not just the Arab world, would condemn Israel and the US.

The justification of using nuclear force to prevent a second holocaust, which is currently being put forward by sections of the western media, doesn't hold up under serious scrutiny.

Just as Israel will baulk at the prospect of using a nuclear weapon, so would Iran if it ever possessed one. The consequence of Iran ever using a nuclear weapon to destroy Israel would be the complete destruction of Iran within hours.

Iran will build a nuclear weapon one day, and they already have an adequate missile delivery system. The US and Israel will have to accept that the balance of power within the region will inevitably change.

That's what all the fuss is about---the US and Israel are having trouble coming to terms with this reality.

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I think it is possible that these stories are an attempt to put pressure on the government of Iran. During the negotiations about bringing the Vietnam War to an end, stories were leaked to the North Vietnamese government that Nixon was mad and that he was in danger of ordering a nuclear strike on Vietnam. Luckily, they did not fall for this story and the US was forced to withdraw. Maybe, Bush is now using the same strategy.

January 8, 2007

Nuking Iran

Are Bush's Wars Winding Down or Heating Up?

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts01082007.html

Most Americans believe that Bush's Iraqi misadventure is over. The occupation has lost the support of the electorate, the Congress, the generals and the troops. The Democrats are sitting back waiting for Bush to come to terms with reality. They don't want to be accused of losing the war by forcing Bush out of Iraq. There are no more troops to commit, and when the "surge" fails, Bush will have no recourse but to withdraw. A little longer, everyone figures, and the senseless killing will be over.

Recent news reports indicate that this conclusion could be an even bigger miscalculation than the original invasion.

On January 7 the London Times reported that it has learned from "several Israeli military sources" that "Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.

The Times reports that "Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack."

In other news reports Israeli General Oded Tira is quoted as follows: "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."

General Tira gives the Israel Lobby the following tasks: (1) "turn to Hilary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran," (2) exert influence on European countries so that "Bush will not be isolated in the international arena again," and (3) "clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabis so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran."

Israel's part, General Tira says, is to "prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the US. We should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of air bases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran."

British commentators report that "the British media appears to be softening us up for an attack on Iran." Robert Fox writing in The First Post (January 6) says, "Suddenly the smell of Britons being prepared for an attack on Iran is all pervasive."

On January 7 the Jerusalem Post reported that Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Israeli newspaper that "iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable" and that "the use of force against Teheran remained an option." The Jerusalem Post notes that "Hoyer is considered close to the Jewish community and many Israeli supporters have hailed his elevation in the House." Hoyer was the Israel Lobby's first victory over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who preferred Rep. John Murtha for the post. Murtha was the first important Democrat to call for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

On November 20 the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that President Bush said he would understand if Israel chose to attack Iran.

Bush showed that he was in Israel's pocket when he blocked the world's attempt to stop Israel's bombing of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Many commentators believe that the failure of the neoconservatives' "cakewalk war" has destroyed their influence. This is a mistaken conclusion. The neoconservatives are long time allies of Israel's right-wing Likud Party and are part of the Israel Lobby in the US. The Israel Lobby represents the views of only a minority of American Jews but nevertheless essentially owns both political parties and most of the US media. As the neoconservatives are an important part of this powerful lobby, they remain extremely influential.

The Lobby works to increase the neoconservatives' influence. To appreciate the Lobby's influence, try to find columnists in the major print media and TV commentators who are not apologists for Israel, who do not favor attacking Iran, and who support withdrawing from Iraq. Recently, Billy "One-Note" Kristol, a rabid propagandist for war against Muslims, was given a column in Time magazine. Why would Time think its readers want to read a war propagandist? Could the reason be that the Israel Lobby arranged for Time to receive lucrative advertising contracts in exchange for a column for Kristol?

Neoconservatives have called for World War IV against Islam. In Commentary magazine Norman Podhoretz called for the cultural genocide of Islamic peoples. The war is already opened on four fronts: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iran.

The Bush administration has used its Ethiopian proxies to overthrow the Somalian Muslims who overthrew the warlords who drove the US from Somalia. The US Navy and US intelligence are actively engaged with the Ethiopian troops in efforts to hunt down and capture or kill the Somalian Muslims. US Embasy spokesman Robert Kerr in Nairobi said that the US has the right to pursue Somalia's Islamists as part of the war on terror.

For at least a year the Bush administration has been fomenting and financing terrorist groups within Iran. Seymour Hersh and former CIA officials have exposed the Bush administration's support of ethnic-minority groups within Iran that are on the US State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Last April US Representative Dennis Kucinich wrote a detailed letter to President Bush about US interference in Iran's internal affairs. He received no reply.

The Israeli/neoconservative plan, of which Bush may be a part or simply be a manipulated element, is to provoke a crisis with Iran in which the US Congress will have to support Israel. Both the Israeli government and the American neoconservatives are fanatical. It is a mistake to believe that either will be guided by reason or any appreciation of the potentially catastrophic consequences of an attack on Iran.

US aircraft carriers sitting off Iran's coast are sitting ducks for Iran's Russian missiles. The neoconservatives would welcome another "new Pearl Harbor."

The US media is totally unreliable. It cannot go against Israel, and it will wrap itself in the flag just as it did for the invasion of Iraq. The American public has been deceived (again) and believes that Iran is on the verge of possessing nuclear armaments to be used to wipe Israel off the map. The fact that Americans are such saps for propaganda makes effective opposition to the neoconsevatives' plan for WW IV practically impossible.

Large percentages of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attack. Recent polls show that 32% still believe that Iraq gave substantial support to al-Qaeda, and 18% believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 attack. WXIA-TV in Atlanta posted viewers comments about Hussein's execution on its web site. Atlantan Janet Wesselhoft was confident that Saddam Hussein is "the one who started terrorism in this country, he needs to be put to rest."

Even the London Times is in the grip of Israeli propaganda. In its report of Israel's plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons, the Times says that Iranian president "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that 'Israel must be wiped off the map.'" It has been shown by a number of credible experts that this quote is a made-up concoction taken completely out of context. Ahmadinejad said no such thing.

In a world ruled by propaganda, lies become truths. The power of the Israel Lobby is so great that it has turned former President Jimmy Carter, probably the most decent man ever to occupy the Oval Office and certainly the president who did the most in behalf of peace in the Middle East, into an anti-semite, an enemy of Israel. The American media, from its "conservative" end to its "liberal" end did its best to turn Carter into a pariah for telling a few truths about Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians in his book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.

If truth be known, there is nothing to stop the Israeli/neoconservative cabal from widening the war in the Middle East.

As I previously reported, the neoconservatives believe that the use of nuclear weapons against Iran would force Muslims to realize that they have no recourse but to submit to the Isreali/US will. The use of nuclear weapons is being rationalized as necessary to destroy Iran's underground facilities, but the real purpose is to terrorize Islam and to bring it to heel.

Until the US finds the courage to acquire a Middle East policy of its own, Americans will continue to reap the evil sowed by the Israel Lobby.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts01082007.html

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I think it is possible that these stories are an attempt to put pressure on the government of Iran. During the negotiations about bringing the Vietnam War to an end, stories were leaked to the North Vietnamese government that Nixon was mad and that he was in danger of ordering a nuclear strike on Vietnam. Luckily, they did not fall for this story and the US was forced to withdraw. Maybe, Bush is now using the same strategy.

I think you're right John, but judging by Iran's reponse I don't think they are going to be bluffed.

Both Israel and the US know that using even small scale nuclear weapons to destroy Iran's facilities is too risky. If anything goes wrong the whole world, not just the Arab world, would condemn Israel and the US.

The justification of using nuclear force to prevent a second holocaust, which is currently being put forward by sections of the western media, doesn't hold up under serious scrutiny.

Just as Israel will baulk at the prospect of using a nuclear weapon, so would Iran if it ever possessed one. The consequence of Iran ever using a nuclear weapon to destroy Israel would be the complete destruction of Iran within hours.

Iran will build a nuclear weapon one day, and they already have an adequate missile delivery system. The US and Israel will have to accept that the balance of power within the region will inevitably change.

That's what all the fuss is about---the US and Israel are having trouble coming to terms with this reality.

Iran threatens to block strategic oil strait

Pakistan Daily Times

January 9, 2007

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?p..._9-1-2007_pg7_4

TEHRAN: A senior officer in the volunteer Basij militia said on Monday Iran could block oil traffic through the strategic Strait of Hormuz if the West threatens its economy over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“Given Iran’s authority over the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway to more than 40 percent of the world’s energy, we have become so strong that the world’s economic and energy security are in the hands of Iran,” deputy Basij commander General Majid Mir Ahmadi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“We can exert pressure on the US and British economies as much as we ourselves are put under pressure,” he said. “US allies, especially those who host US military sites or facilitate American strategies against us, are exposed to our threat,” Mir Ahmadi added. “This is the Islamic republic’s strategy in the Persian Gulf – security for everyone or for nobody.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Tehran would never yield to international pressure to deprive it of its right to nuclear technology, state radio said.

“The Iranian nation will surely not abandon its right and Iranian officials have no right to deprive the nation of its right,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on the occasion of the Shia feast of Eidul Ghadir.

Khamenei, who was shown on television, was making his first public appearance since rumours appeared on websites on Thursday that he had died. Iran last week denied the reports.

Khamenei has final say on all state matters in the Islamic republic, including Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West. agencies

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Forbes reports Pentagon confirms US nuclear submarine collides with Japanese commercial ship

The Japanese sailors must have been terrified for a moment. They may have thought they were being attacked by real terrorists. Perhaps they'd bumped into Bin Laden's personal submersible, fully equipped with video production studio?

Imagine their relief to discover it was only a friendly old US nuclear sub, ramming into them by accident in the busy Arabian sea lanes!

Anyhow, all well that ends well. :up

Back in the USA, Pat Buchanan asks Who Is Planning Our Next War?

This extract is choice:

on Dec. 30, retired Gen. Oded Tira, who headed up all Israeli artillery units, burst into print with this admonition:

"As an American air strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help (Bush) pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and U.S. newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."

"Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," writes Tira. Thus, Israel and its U.S. lobbying arm "must turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they publicly support immediate action by Bush against Iran."

"The Americans must act," Tira concludes. "If they don't, we'll do it ourselves ... (and) we must immediately start preparing for an Iranian response to an attack."

According to UPI editor-at-large Arnaud De Borchgrave, Tira's line tracks the New Year's Day message of Likud superhawk "Bibi" Netanyahu, the former prime minister.

Said Netanyahu, Israel "must immediately launch an intense, international public relations front first and foremost on the U.S. The goal being to encourage President Bush to live up to specific pledges he would not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. We must make clear to the (U.S.) government, the Congress and the American public that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the U.S. and the entire world, not only Israel."

Israel's war, says Bibi, must be sold as America's war.

We are thus forewarned. A propaganda campaign, using Israeli agents and their neocon auxiliaries and sympathizers, who stampeded us into war in Iraq, is being prepared to stampede us into war on Iran.

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An American air strike on Iran is essential for America's existence, eh?

How perfectly sane and rational.

I think this was the same retired Israeli General who was interviewed by Geraldine Doogue on Australia's RN recently. This fellow kept repeating the mantra, 'the West must confront Iran, the West must confront Iran'.

Is there anyone on the Forum, anyone at all, who supports this type of thinking?

If the propaganda blitz on the Democrats is successful and bipartisan support for this is secured, who on the Forum will continue to deny that US foreign policy has been fully captured by the hawks of Israel?

With the recent US attack on the Muslim rebels in Somalia, it looks like a major global conflict based on religion could become a reality.

How sane and rational is that?

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On the Saddam thread Sid wrote (Note I edited Peter and Sid’s posts to remove portions not related to this topic):

[…]

Also I have read, over and over again, in western and eastern media (eg Al Jazeera) that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the map. This statement has been repeated over and over again by highly placed clerics and secular leaders, over many years, in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, etc. As to whether Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capability in this aim, I wouldn't begin to debate that point.

Hi Peter

[…]

Turning now to the more current issue you raise: did the Iranian President really say that Israel should be "wiped off the map" - or were his words miscontrued and misrepresented, as I have claimed?

You may wish to correspond with Professor Juan Cole and Guardian writer Jon Steele if you have superior information to theirs on this topic.

If not, your confidence in the accuracy of the western mass media is touching - even a little unusual on this Forum.

You mention Al Jazeera. Insofar as it has purveyed the 'wipe of the map' myth as well, IMO it has engaged in sloppy journalism. A quick search I just conducted yielded this short article, for instance. It was apparently reporting other 'Agencies' without question or comment. I'd call that sloppy - especially if no subsequent correction was issued.

Remarkably, in this case Wikipedia has quite a full and accurate account of the debate over President Ahmadinejad's 2005 "World Without Zionism" speech (see below).

If you read through it, I think you may agree that Ahmadinejad was calling for the end of apartheid in the Holy Land - not for nuclear attacks on anyone (those calls have come from within Israel and the USA).

As for why this particular topic strayed from the execution of Saddam Hussein to Nuremberg ... it's all explained in the thread itself.

John made the comparison with the Nuremberg Trials. I - for reasons I've already presented - felt an examination of Nuremberg is indeed appropriate in this context..

Out of an apparent desire to 'nail' the issue of The Holocaust, Stephen Turner started another thread dedicated specifically to the topic, last week. A brief discussion ensued therein - before the thread was closed to further discussion, presumably by Andy.

I don't intend to make new points within this thread on the Nuremberg comparison... but do reserve the right to reply to ill-founded, poorly documented attacks on points I've already made.

Critical comments that are well-founded - and grounded in documented, factual information - are another matter.

__________________________________

Extract from Wikipedia - January 9th 2007:

2005 "World Without Zionism" speech

President Ahmadinejad speaking at "The World without Zionism" conference

In his translation of a speech to the "World Without Zionism" conference held for students in October 2005, Nazila Fathi of The New York Times' Tehran bureau reported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying, in part:

Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world. But we must be aware of tricks.[1]

Wikinews has news related to:

Iranian president calls Israel ‘disgraceful blot’

Ahmadinejad also claimed in the speech that the issue with Palestine would be over "the day that all refugees return to their homes [and] a democratic government elected by the people comes to power" [2], and denounced attempts to normalise relations with Israel, condemning all Muslim leaders who accept the existence of Israel as "acknowledging a surrender and defeat of the Islamic world."

The speech also indicated that the Iranian President considered Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be a trick, designed to gain acknowledgement from Islamic states. In a rally held two days later, Ahmadinejad declared that his words reflected the views of the Iranian people, adding that Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid. [3]

Translation of phrase "wiped off the map"

Many news sources have presented one of Ahmadinejad's phrases in Persian as a statement that "Israel must be wiped off the map"[4][5][6], an English idiom which means to cause a place to stop existing[7].

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, translates the Persian phrase as:

The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).[8]

According to Cole, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian" and "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."[1]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly:

[T]his regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.[9]

On 20 February 2006, Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel “wiped off the map,” saying Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood. "Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned," Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference, speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament. "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognise legally this regime," he said. [10][11][12]

In a June 11, 2006 analysis of the translation controversy, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map. After noting the objections of critics such as Cole and Steele, Bronner said: "But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away." Bronner stated: "So did Iran's president call for Israel to be wiped off the map? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question." [2]

On June 15, 2006 The Guardian columnist and foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele cites several Persian speakers and translators who state that the phrase in question is more accurately translated as "eliminated" or "wiped off" or "wiped away" from "the page of time" or "the pages of history", rather than "wiped off the map". [13]

A synopsis of Mr Ahmadinejad's speech on the Iranian Presidential website states:

He further expressed his firm belief that the new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away. [14]

Interpretation of speech as call for genocide

The speech was interpreted by some as a call for genocide. For example, Canada's then Prime Minister Paul Martin said, "this threat to Israel's existence, this call for genocide coupled with Iran's obvious nuclear ambitions is a matter that the world cannot ignore."[15]

Cole interprets the speech as a call for the end of Jewish rule of Israel, but not necessarily for the removal of Jewish people:

His statements were morally outrageous and historically ignorant, but he did not actually call for mass murder (Ariel Sharon made the "occupation regime" in Gaza "vanish" last summer[sic]) or for the expulsion of the Israeli Jews to Europe.[16]

In the speech, Ahmadinejad gave the examples of Iran under the Shah, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as examples of apparently invincible regimes that ceased to exist. Ahmadinejad used these examples to justify his belief that the United States and the State of Israel can also be defeated claiming, "they say it is not possible to have a world without the United States and Zionism. But you know that this is a possible goal and slogan."[1]

In April 2006, Iran's ambassador was asked directly about Ahmadinejad's position towards Israel by CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer:[17]

BLITZER: But should there be a state of Israel?

SOLTANIEH: I think I've already answered to you. If Israel is a synonym and will give the indication of Zionism mentality, no.

But if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there have to be removed or they have to be massacred or so, this is fabricated, unfortunate selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is. I have to correct, and I did so.

Another reason for the interpretation of the speech as a call for genocide using nuclear weapons is because the same statement of Ahmadinejad appeared on a Shahab-3 missile in a national military parade attended by Ahmadinejad. [3]

Interpretation of speech as call for referendum

Iran's stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum. Juan Cole and others interpret Ahmadinejad's statements to be an endorsement of the one-state solution, in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the "Zionist state".[18]

In November 2005 Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, rejecting any attack on Israel, called for a referendum in Palestine:

We hold a fair and logical stance on the issue of Palestine. Several decades ago, Egyptian statesman Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the most popular Arab personality, stated in his slogans that the Egyptians would throw the Jewish usurpers of Palestine into the sea. Some years later, Saddam Hussein, the most hated Arab figure, said that he would put half of the Palestinian land on fire. But we would not approve of either of these two remarks. We believe, according to our Islamic principles, that neither throwing the Jews into the sea nor putting the Palestinian land on fire is logical and reasonable. Our position is that the Palestinian people should regain their rights. Palestine belongs to Palestinians, and the fate of Palestine should also be determined by the Palestinian people. The issue of Palestine is a criterion for judging how truthful those claiming to support democracy and human rights are in their claims. The Islamic Republic of Iran has presented a fair and logical solution to this issue. We have suggested that all native Palestinians, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews, should be allowed to take part in a general referendum before the eyes of the world and decide on a Palestinian government. Any government that is the result of this referendum will be a legitimate government. [19]

Ahmadinejad himself has also repeatedly called for such solution.[20][21][22][23] Most recently in an interview with Time magazine:[24]

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: [...] Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way.

To which I replied:

Sid has really only found one expert Cole who disputes the interpretation of the translation. Just as a “no such idiom exists in Persian” for ‘wipe off the map’ no idiom exists for “vanish from the page of time” or “eliminated from the pages of history” did the phrase indicate he wanted a regime change or genocide or expulsion of Israelis? I doubt anyone on this board is qualified to say. OK it seems like he didn’t use the Persian word for map but what exactly did he mean. The column from the Guardian cited by Wikipedia shows that is not entirely clear exactly what he meant (though the author [not a Persian speaker] shares Sid’s take). http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonath...6/post_155.html

I’m not sure either way but there is evidence to support a more ominous interpretation of what he said.

According to MEMRI which the author of the Wikipedia article cited Ahmadinejad “emphasized the need to eliminate Israel” http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...amp;ID=SP101305

Even the Iranian president’s web site (according to the Wikipedia article) said he called for Islam to “wipe Israel away” which could have several interpretations but sounds rather ominous.

From Sid’s Wikipedia article “Another reason for the interpretation of the speech as a call for genocide using nuclear weapons is because the same statement of Ahmadinejad appeared on a Shahab-3 missile in a national military parade attended by Ahmadinejad. [3]” accounts of the parade indicate other missiles had banners with the phrase “Death to Israel”

http://web.archive.org/web/20060503212036/...chinese_md.html

According to a senior fellow in the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Some members of the government have even boasted how they would use them: to destroy Israel. "Islam could survive the retaliation," they insist, "but Israel would be gone forever." ”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jh...01/23/ixop.html

[…]

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On the Saddam thread Sid wrote (Note I edited Peter and Sid’s posts to remove portions not related to this topic):

Extract from Wikipedia - January 9th 2007:[/b]

2005 "World Without Zionism" speech

President Ahmadinejad speaking at "The World without Zionism" conference

In his translation of a speech to the "World Without Zionism" conference held for students in October 2005, Nazila Fathi of The New York Times' Tehran bureau reported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying, in part:

Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world. But we must be aware of tricks.[1]

Wikinews has news related to:

Iranian president calls Israel ‘disgraceful blot’

Ahmadinejad also claimed in the speech that the issue with Palestine would be over "the day that all refugees return to their homes [and] a democratic government elected by the people comes to power" [2], and denounced attempts to normalise relations with Israel, condemning all Muslim leaders who accept the existence of Israel as "acknowledging a surrender and defeat of the Islamic world."

The speech also indicated that the Iranian President considered Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be a trick, designed to gain acknowledgement from Islamic states. In a rally held two days later, Ahmadinejad declared that his words reflected the views of the Iranian people, adding that Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid. [3]

Translation of phrase "wiped off the map"

Many news sources have presented one of Ahmadinejad's phrases in Persian as a statement that "Israel must be wiped off the map"[4][5][6], an English idiom which means to cause a place to stop existing[7].

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, translates the Persian phrase as:

The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).[8]

According to Cole, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian" and "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."[1]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly:

[T]his regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.[9]

On 20 February 2006, Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel “wiped off the map,” saying Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood. "Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned," Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference, speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament. "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognise legally this regime," he said. [10][11][12]

In a June 11, 2006 analysis of the translation controversy, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map. After noting the objections of critics such as Cole and Steele, Bronner said: "But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away." Bronner stated: "So did Iran's president call for Israel to be wiped off the map? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question." [2]

On June 15, 2006 The Guardian columnist and foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele cites several Persian speakers and translators who state that the phrase in question is more accurately translated as "eliminated" or "wiped off" or "wiped away" from "the page of time" or "the pages of history", rather than "wiped off the map". [13]

A synopsis of Mr Ahmadinejad's speech on the Iranian Presidential website states:

He further expressed his firm belief that the new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away. [14]

Interpretation of speech as call for genocide

The speech was interpreted by some as a call for genocide. For example, Canada's then Prime Minister Paul Martin said, "this threat to Israel's existence, this call for genocide coupled with Iran's obvious nuclear ambitions is a matter that the world cannot ignore."[15]

Cole interprets the speech as a call for the end of Jewish rule of Israel, but not necessarily for the removal of Jewish people:

His statements were morally outrageous and historically ignorant, but he did not actually call for mass murder (Ariel Sharon made the "occupation regime" in Gaza "vanish" last summer[sic]) or for the expulsion of the Israeli Jews to Europe.[16]

In the speech, Ahmadinejad gave the examples of Iran under the Shah, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as examples of apparently invincible regimes that ceased to exist. Ahmadinejad used these examples to justify his belief that the United States and the State of Israel can also be defeated claiming, "they say it is not possible to have a world without the United States and Zionism. But you know that this is a possible goal and slogan."[1]

In April 2006, Iran's ambassador was asked directly about Ahmadinejad's position towards Israel by CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer:[17]

BLITZER: But should there be a state of Israel?

SOLTANIEH: I think I've already answered to you. If Israel is a synonym and will give the indication of Zionism mentality, no.

But if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there have to be removed or they have to be massacred or so, this is fabricated, unfortunate selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is. I have to correct, and I did so.

Another reason for the interpretation of the speech as a call for genocide using nuclear weapons is because the same statement of Ahmadinejad appeared on a Shahab-3 missile in a national military parade attended by Ahmadinejad. [3]

Interpretation of speech as call for referendum

Iran's stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum. Juan Cole and others interpret Ahmadinejad's statements to be an endorsement of the one-state solution, in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the "Zionist state".[18]

In November 2005 Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, rejecting any attack on Israel, called for a referendum in Palestine:

We hold a fair and logical stance on the issue of Palestine. Several decades ago, Egyptian statesman Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the most popular Arab personality, stated in his slogans that the Egyptians would throw the Jewish usurpers of Palestine into the sea. Some years later, Saddam Hussein, the most hated Arab figure, said that he would put half of the Palestinian land on fire. But we would not approve of either of these two remarks. We believe, according to our Islamic principles, that neither throwing the Jews into the sea nor putting the Palestinian land on fire is logical and reasonable. Our position is that the Palestinian people should regain their rights. Palestine belongs to Palestinians, and the fate of Palestine should also be determined by the Palestinian people. The issue of Palestine is a criterion for judging how truthful those claiming to support democracy and human rights are in their claims. The Islamic Republic of Iran has presented a fair and logical solution to this issue. We have suggested that all native Palestinians, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews, should be allowed to take part in a general referendum before the eyes of the world and decide on a Palestinian government. Any government that is the result of this referendum will be a legitimate government. [19]

Ahmadinejad himself has also repeatedly called for such solution.[20][21][22][23] Most recently in an interview with Time magazine:[24]

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: [...] Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way.

To which I replied:

Sid has really only found one expert Cole who disputes the interpretation of the translation. Just as a “no such idiom exists in Persian” for ‘wipe off the map’ no idiom exists for “vanish from the page of time” or “eliminated from the pages of history” did the phrase indicate he wanted a regime change or genocide or expulsion of Israelis? I doubt anyone on this board is qualified to say. OK it seems like he didn’t use the Persian word for map but what exactly did he mean. The column from the Guardian cited by Wikipedia shows that is not entirely clear exactly what he meant (though the author [not a Persian speaker] shares Sid’s take). http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonath...6/post_155.html

I’m not sure either way but there is evidence to support a more ominous interpretation of what he said.

According to MEMRI which the author of the Wikipedia article cited Ahmadinejad “emphasized the need to eliminate Israel” http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...amp;ID=SP101305

Even the Iranian president’s web site (according to the Wikipedia article) said he called for Islam to “wipe Israel away” which could have several interpretations but sounds rather ominous.

From Sid’s Wikipedia article “Another reason for the interpretation of the speech as a call for genocide using nuclear weapons is because the same statement of Ahmadinejad appeared on a Shahab-3 missile in a national military parade attended by Ahmadinejad. [3]” accounts of the parade indicate other missiles had banners with the phrase “Death to Israel”

http://web.archive.org/web/20060503212036/...chinese_md.html

According to a senior fellow in the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Some members of the government have even boasted how they would use them: to destroy Israel. "Islam could survive the retaliation," they insist, "but Israel would be gone forever." ”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jh...01/23/ixop.html

[…]

Do you remember the Iraqi Osirak Reactor?

The French built Osirak Reactor was, in 1981, destroyed by an Israeli surgical airstrike, which was then, and now, celebrated as an acme of tactical precision. This was termed Operation Opera, and was authorized by Israeli leadership subsequent to Mossad's conclusion that the reactor would be used to accelerate the production of weapons grade nuclear material to use on Israel. A key piece of (purported) evidence was a letter intercepted from Saddam Hussein to Iran's President Bani Sadr stating, in effect, that 'the weapons produced would never be used on you (Iran), our Islamic brothers, and is intended for the Zionists' (I have been looking for documentation of this information, without success, so I'm relying upon memory, sorry).

The attcak was mounted prior to initial fuel loading to preclude the release of contamination and used conventional weapons. As I recollect one or more strikes effectively created a 'window' in the copntainment which the Israelis successfully penetrated and were able to effectively demolish the reactor and its auxiliaries.

Prior to this, in September of 1980, Iran had launched an attack on the Osirak Reactor. This occurred shortly after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, and was likely due to fears of the Iraqis creating and using a nuclear weapon(s) on Iran (this information is available on many news archives), but the Iranian attack was unsuccessful.

Subsequent to the June 1981 Israeli attack Bani-Sadr was deposed (purportedly over differences between he and clerical leadership over Iranian modernization and consideration of contemporary western cultural mores).

It is noteworthy that one primary reason both Iran and Israel conlcuded that the Osirak Reactor was developed for nuclear weapons, was the fact that Iraq had no need for nuclear power, given their available oil reserves.

The US and the UN Security Council formally condemned the Israeli attack.

What parallels do you think exist between Operation Opera (Osirak Reactor attack) and possible destruction of Iranian plans for nuclear capability Do you think the Iranians learned anything from the Osirak Reactor (like protection from airstrikes)? Would there be UN and/or worldwide condemnation of an attack on Iranian facilities?

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Hi Peter,

The Osirak reactor stood way out in the open. It was, as I recall, built on the side of a mountain.

One of the most important lessons from Israel's destruction of that facility was that, in future, such facilities would be better concealed and protected.

I think there would be widespread condemnation of an Israeli airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

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