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Is Bush planning an attack on Iran in March?


Douglas Caddy
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Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic and Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

http://www.amazon.com/Nemesis-American-Rep...8277550-7853523

http://www.amazon.com/Blowback-Second-Cons...8277550-7853523

Johnson has written a lengthy review of Stephen Holmes' book The Matador's Cape:

Stephen Holmes is a law professor at New York University. In The Matador's Cape, he sets out to forge an understanding -- in an intellectual and historical sense, not as a matter of journalism or of partisan politics -- of the Iraq war, which he calls "one of the worst (and least comprehensible) blunders in the history of American foreign policy" (p. 230). His modus operandi is to survey in depth approximately a dozen influential books on post-Cold War international politics to see what light they shed on America's missteps. I will touch briefly on the books he chooses for dissection, highlighting his essential thoughts on each of them....

....With this book, Stephen Holmes largely succeeds in elevating criticism of contemporary American imperialism in the Middle East to a new level. In my opinion, however, he underplays the roles of American imperialism and militarism in exploiting the 9/11 crisis to serve vested interests in the military-industrial complex, the petroleum industry, and the military establishment. Holmes leaves the false impression that the political system of the United States is capable of a successful course correction. But, as Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic -- becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force. To take up these subjects, however, moves the discussion into largely unexplored territory. For now, Holmes has done a wonderful job of clearing the underbrush and preparing the way for the public to address this more or less taboo subject.

Full review: http://english.alarabonline.org/display.as...:30:42%20%C3%A3

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Guest David Guyatt
Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic and Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

http://www.amazon.com/Nemesis-American-Rep...8277550-7853523

http://www.amazon.com/Blowback-Second-Cons...8277550-7853523

Johnson has written a lengthy review of Stephen Holmes' book The Matador's Cape:

Stephen Holmes is a law professor at New York University. In The Matador's Cape, he sets out to forge an understanding -- in an intellectual and historical sense, not as a matter of journalism or of partisan politics -- of the Iraq war, which he calls "one of the worst (and least comprehensible) blunders in the history of American foreign policy" (p. 230). His modus operandi is to survey in depth approximately a dozen influential books on post-Cold War international politics to see what light they shed on America's missteps. I will touch briefly on the books he chooses for dissection, highlighting his essential thoughts on each of them....

....With this book, Stephen Holmes largely succeeds in elevating criticism of contemporary American imperialism in the Middle East to a new level. In my opinion, however, he underplays the roles of American imperialism and militarism in exploiting the 9/11 crisis to serve vested interests in the military-industrial complex, the petroleum industry, and the military establishment. Holmes leaves the false impression that the political system of the United States is capable of a successful course correction. But, as Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic -- becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force. To take up these subjects, however, moves the discussion into largely unexplored territory. For now, Holmes has done a wonderful job of clearing the underbrush and preparing the way for the public to address this more or less taboo subject.

Full review: http://english.alarabonline.org/display.as...:30:42%20%C3%A3

Thanks for posting this Michael. I do sometimes wonder what academics eat for breakfast, as they so very often are out of step with the rest of us.

I suppose one can reasonably argue that the military-industrial complex took advantage of the terrorist attack and then set about conquering Iraq, grabbing oil etc - as opposed to allowing 911 to "happen" a la Pearll Harbour, and then unleash the dogs of war and greed. I suppose you can argue that the result is the same in either scenario, but politicians and businessmen, being politicians and businessmen, rarely leave things to chance. Or am I being cynical here?

Whoever controls the bulk of the world's oil supplies controls the world economically - especially the emerging giants, China and India. By turning the tap off and on to suit a US economic agenda the emerging nations must bow to the dictates of Uncle.

On the reviewers comments about us good old Brits voluntarily dismantling the British Empire, I have considerable doubts. What few hints are publicly available about the CFR's War & Peace Studies Project, circa 1939-42, Britain was going to be forced to turn over control of the Empire to the new kid on the block, the USA.

David

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Guest David Guyatt
Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic and Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

http://www.amazon.com/Nemesis-American-Rep...8277550-7853523

http://www.amazon.com/Blowback-Second-Cons...8277550-7853523

Johnson has written a lengthy review of Stephen Holmes' book The Matador's Cape:

Stephen Holmes is a law professor at New York University. In The Matador's Cape, he sets out to forge an understanding -- in an intellectual and historical sense, not as a matter of journalism or of partisan politics -- of the Iraq war, which he calls "one of the worst (and least comprehensible) blunders in the history of American foreign policy" (p. 230). His modus operandi is to survey in depth approximately a dozen influential books on post-Cold War international politics to see what light they shed on America's missteps. I will touch briefly on the books he chooses for dissection, highlighting his essential thoughts on each of them....

....With this book, Stephen Holmes largely succeeds in elevating criticism of contemporary American imperialism in the Middle East to a new level. In my opinion, however, he underplays the roles of American imperialism and militarism in exploiting the 9/11 crisis to serve vested interests in the military-industrial complex, the petroleum industry, and the military establishment. Holmes leaves the false impression that the political system of the United States is capable of a successful course correction. But, as Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic -- becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force. To take up these subjects, however, moves the discussion into largely unexplored territory. For now, Holmes has done a wonderful job of clearing the underbrush and preparing the way for the public to address this more or less taboo subject.

Full review: http://english.alarabonline.org/display.as...:30:42%20%C3%A3

Thanks for posting this Michael. I do sometimes wonder what academics eat for breakfast, as they so very often are out of step with the rest of us.

I suppose one can reasonably argue that the military-industrial complex took advantage of the terrorist attack and then set about conquering Iraq, grabbing oil etc - as opposed to allowing 911 to "happen" a la Pearll Harbour, and then unleash the dogs of war and greed. I suppose you can argue that the result is the same in either scenario, but politicians and businessmen, being politicians and businessmen, rarely leave things to chance. Or am I being cynical here?

Whoever controls the bulk of the world's oil supplies controls the world economically - especially the emerging giants, China and India. By turning the tap off and on to suit a US economic agenda the emerging nations must bow to the dictates of Uncle.

On the reviewers comments about us good old Brits voluntarily dismantling the British Empire, I have considerable doubts. What few hints are publicly available about the CFR's War & Peace Studies Project, circa 1939-42, Britain was going to be forced to turn over control of the Empire to the new kid on the block, the USA.

David

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http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13561.html

Admiral Fallon’s words of wisdom

Admiral William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, has heard plenty of war-mongering rhetoric from the right when it comes to Iran. In some circles, most notably Rudy Giuliani’s inner circle, the debate is basically over whether to start the bombing raids this morning or this afternoon.

Fallon, after listening to all of this, has come to an important conclusion: it’s not helping. (via TP)

“None of this is helped by the continuing stories that just keep going around and around and around that any day now there will be another war which is just not where we want to go,” he said.

“Getting Iranian behaviour to change and finding ways to get them to come to their senses and do that is the real objective. Attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice in my book.” … Adm Fallon declined to comment specifically on whether the US rhetoric was feeding the speculation, but said that “generally, the bellicose comments are not particularly helpful”.

I wonder if Bush’s repeated references to a new world war with Iran qualify as “bellicose.”

Doesn’t Admiral Fallon understand that Ahmadinejad is Hitler? And that Iran is 1930s Germany? And that today we’re in the midst of World War IV? It’s almost as if the U.S. Central Command chief hasn’t received any of the far-right talking points at all.

Fallon added that while dealing with Iran was a “challenge,” a strike was not “in the offing.” That’s at least mildly encouraging, presuming that Central Command is aware of Dick Cheney’s to-do list.

There’s also a big-picture story that’s worth noting. The Financial Times noted that Fallon’s comments “served as a shot across the bows of hawks who are arguing for imminent action. They also echoed the views of the senior brass that military action is currently unnecessary, and should only be considered as an absolute last resort.”

In other words, the senior brass knows there are conservative policy makers who are itching for another conflict in the Middle East — and they’re not going for it.

Of course, the military structure doesn’t exactly work that way. The president is the commander in chief, there’s civilian control of the Armed Forces, and whether the top brass oppose a foolish attack on Iran or not may not be relevant to the West Wing.

What happens if Bush orders strikes that the generals oppose? Fred Kaplan recently considered the consequences.

From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Central Command, most of America’s military leaders have expressed wariness about, if not outright opposition to, the idea of bombing Iran.

So, if President George W. Bush starts to prepare—or actually issues the order—for an attack, what should the generals do? Disobey? Rally resistance from within? Resign in protest? Retire quietly? Or salute and execute the mission?

The appropriateness of military dissent is a hot topic among senior officers these days in conferences, internal papers, and backroom discussions, all of which set off emotional arguments and genuine soul-searching. […]

t’s one thing for a sergeant to disobey a lieutenant in the frenzy of battle. It’s quite another for generals to declare a president’s order “unlawful.” That’s not an act of conscience; it’s a coup d’etat. (There are
some
circumstances that could confuse the most honorable officer. For instance, in the last weeks of Richard Nixon’s presidency, when Nixon was drinking heavily and teetering on the edge of sanity, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to check with him before executing any military orders from the White House. Even then, it’s worth noting, the chain of command was circumvented by the civilian defense secretary, not by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Outright disobedience of a presidential order, then, is an option that no senior U.S. officer wants even to contemplate — and we should be thankful for that. But in a widely circulated article titled “Knowing When To Salute,” published in the July 2007 newsletter of the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, retired Lt. Col. Leonard Wong and retired Col. Douglas Lovelace laid out nine options short of disobedience that a senior officer might take when political leaders resist military advice.

If the situation involves little or no threat to national security, they write, an officer can request reassignment, decline a promotion, or take early retirement.

It’s a fascinating issue. Take a look.

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It has been reported in the European press that Dick Cheney has been threatening large corporations that action will be taken against them if they continue to do business with Iran. Apparently, he has also been telling them that if they do not go along with this economic boycott the US will be forced to take military action against Iran.

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It has been reported in the European press that Dick Cheney has been threatening large corporations that action will be taken against them if they continue to do business with Iran. Apparently, he has also been telling them that if they do not go along with this economic boycott the US will be forced to take military action against Iran.

Maybe he could order Blackwater to invade Iran if the JCS won't do it.

BK

Also, if you haven't been following the Doonsbury comic strip, former Ambassador Duke, now working at his son's Public Relations office in Washington, represents Beserkastan, which Cheney's speechwriters, assigned to come up with a pretext for war with Iran, are trying to stir up a border dispute.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html

Edited by William Kelly
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It has been reported in the European press that Dick Cheney has been threatening large corporations that action will be taken against them if they continue to do business with Iran. Apparently, he has also been telling them that if they do not go along with this economic boycott the US will be forced to take military action against Iran.

Maybe he could order Blackwater to invade Iran if the JCS won't do it.

BK

Also, if you haven't been following the Doonsbury comic strip, former Ambassador Duke, now working at his son's Public Relations office in Washington, represents Beserkastan, which Cheney's speechwriters, assigned to come up with a pretext for war with Iran, are trying to stir up a border dispute.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html

In addition:

http://fchap.obworld.com/index.cfm?d=news&...amp;newsid=3537

y::

Will the Military Halt an Iran Attack?

US - Sometimes history -- and necessity -- make strange bedfellows. The German general staff transported Lenin to Russia to lea a revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played godfather to the birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally strange -- but perhaps equally necessary -- is the addressee of a new appeal signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many other leaders of the American peace movement:

"ATTENTION: Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military Personnel: Do not attack Iran."

The initiative responds to the growing calls for an attack on Iran from the likes of Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the reports of growing war momentum in Washington by reporters like Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Joe Klein of Time. International lawyer Scott Horton says European diplomats at the recent United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the United States will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur within the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of conflict at 70 percent.

The initiative also responds to the recent failure of Congress to pass legislation requiring its approval before an attack on Iran and the hawk-driven resolution encouraging the President to act against the Iranian military. Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told The Nation:

If we thought that our lawmakers would restrain the Bush Administration from further endangering Americans and the rest of the world, we would concentrate solely on them. If we went to Las Vegas today, would we find anyone willing to bet on this Congress restraining Bush? I don't think so.

Because our soldiers know the horrors of war -- severed limbs, blindness, brain injury -- they are loath to romanticize the battlefield or glorify expansion of the Iraq genocide that has left a million Iraqis dead and millions others exiled.

Military Resistance

What could be stranger than a group of peace activists petitioning the military to stop a war? And yet there is more logic here than meets the eye.

Asked in an online discussion September 27 whether the Bush Administration will launch a war against Iran, Washington Post intelligence reporter Dana Priest replied, "Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions."

She acknowledged that she had indulged in a bit of hyperbole, then added, "but not much."

There have been many other hints of military disaffection from plans to attack Iran -- indeed, military resistance may help explain why, despite years of rumors about Bush Administration intentions, such an attack has not yet occurred. A Pentagon consultant told Hersh more than a year ago, "There is a war about the war going on inside the building." Hersh also reported that Gen. Peter Pace had forced Bush and Cheney to remove the "nuclear option" from the plans for possible conflict with Iran -- in the Pentagon it was known as the April Revolution.

In December, according to Time correspondent Joe Klein, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure room known as The Tank. The President was told that "the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities." But the Joint Chiefs were "unanimously opposed to taking that course of action," both because it might not eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and because Iran could respond devastatingly in Iraq -- and in the United States.

In an article published by Inter Press Service, historian and national security policy analyst Gareth Porter reported that Adm. William Fallon, Bush's then-nominee to head the Central Command (Centcom), sent the Defense Department a strongly worded message earlier this year opposing the plan to send a third carrier strike group into the Persian Gulf. In another Inter Press analysis, Porter quotes someone who met with Fallon saying an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch." He added, "You know what choices I have. I'm a professional. ... There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box."

Military officers in the field have frequently refuted Bush Administration claims about Iranian arms in Iraq and Afghanistan. Porter says that when a State Department official this June publicly accused Iran of giving arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US commander of NATO forces there twice denied the claim.

More recently, top brass have warned that the United States is not prepared for new wars. Gen. George Casey, the Army's top commander, recently made a highly unusual personal request for a House Armed Services Committee hearing in which he warned that "we are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies." While this could surely be interpreted as a call for more troops and resources, it may simultaneously be a warning shot against adventures in Iran.

An October 8 report by Tim Shipman in the Telegraph says that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "taken charge of the forces in the American government opposed to a US military attack on Iran." He cites Pentagon sources saying that Gates is waging "a subtle campaign to undermine the Cheney camp" and that he is "encouraging the Army's senior officers to speak frankly about the overstretch of forces, and the difficulty of fighting another war." Shipman reports Gates has "forged an alliance with Mike McConnell, the national director of intelligence, and Michael Hayden, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, to ensure that Mr. Cheney's office is not the dominant conduit of information and planning on Iran to Mr. Bush."

Every indication is that the "war about the war" is ongoing. Hersh recently reported that the attack-Iran faction has found a new approach that it hopes will be more acceptable to the public -- and presumably to the Pentagon brass. Instead of broad bombing attacks designed to eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and promote regime change, it calls for "surgical strikes" on Revolutionary Guard facilities; they would be justified as retaliation in the "proxy war" that General Petraeus alleges Iran is fighting "against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq." According to Hersh, the revised bombing plan is "gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon." But Israeli officials are concerned that such a plan might leave Iran's nuclear capacity intact.

Appeal to Principle

The appeal for military personnel to resist an attack is primarily based on principle. It asserts that any pre-emptive US attack on Iran would be illegal under international law and a crime under US law. Such an attack would violate Article II, Section 4, of the UN Charter forbidding the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Since Iran has not attacked the United States, an attack against it without authorization by the Security Council would be a violation of international law. Under the US Constitution and the UN Charter, this is the law of the land. Under the military's own laws, armed forces have an obligation to refuse orders that violate US law and the Constitution. And under the principles established by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II, "just obeying orders" is no defense for officials who participate in war crimes.

But the petition also addresses some of the practical concerns that have clearly motivated military officers to oppose an attack on Iran. It would open US soldiers in Iraq to decimation by Iranian forces or their Iraqi allies. It would sow the seeds of hatred for generations. Like the attack on Iraq, it would create more enemies, promote terrorism and make American families less safe.

The petitioners recognize the potential risks of such action to military personnel. "If you heed our call and disobey an illegal order you could be falsely charged with crimes including treason. You could be falsely court martialed. You could be imprisoned."

But they also accept risks themselves, aware that "in violation of our First Amendment rights, we could be charged under remaining section of the unconstitutional Espionage Act or other unconstitutional statute, and that we could be fined, imprisoned, or barred from government employment."

In ordinary times, peace activists would hardly be likely to turn to the military as allies. Indeed, they would rightfully be wary of military officers acting on their own, rather than those of their civilian superiors -- in violation of the Constitution's provisions for civilian oversight of the military. But these are hardly ordinary times. While the public is highly dubious of getting into another war in the Middle East, there now appear to be virtually no institutional barriers to doing so.

Military-Civilian Alliance

Is there a basis for cooperation between the military brass and citizens who believe an attack on Iran would be criminal and/or suicidal? Perhaps. The brass can go public with the truth and ask Congress to provide a platform for explaining the real consequences of an attack on Iran. They can call for a national debate that is not manipulated by the White House. (They can also inform other players of the consequences: tell Wall Street the effects on oil and stock prices and tell European military and political leaders what it is likely to mean in terms of terrorism.) The peace movement has already forged an alliance with Iraq War veterans who oppose the war and with high military officials who oppose torture; a tacit alliance with the brass to halt an attack on Iran is a logical next step.

Such an approach puts the problem of civilian control of the military in a different light. The purpose of civilian control, after all, is not to subject the military to the dictatorial control of one man who may, at the least, express the foolishness and frailty that all flesh is heir to. The purpose is to subject the military to the control of democratic governance, which is to say of an informed public and its representatives.

What contribution can the peace movement make to this process? We can cover military officials' backs when they speak out -- no one is better placed than the peace movement to defend them against Buxxxxe charges of defying civilian control. We can help open a forum for military officers to speak out. Many retired officers have spoken out publicly on the folly of the war in Iraq. We can use our venues in universities and communities to invite them to speak out even more forcefully on the folly of an attack on Iran. We can place ads pointing out military resistance to an attack on Iran and featuring warnings of its possible consequences from past and present military officials. And we can encourage lawmakers to reach out to military officials and offer to give them cover and a forum to speak out. Says petition initiator Marcy Winograd, "I'd like to see peace activists and soldiers sit down, break bread, march together, testify together and force a powerful union to end the next war before the bloodletting begins." The peace movement leaders who appealed to the military had to break through the conventional presumption that the brass were their enemies in all situations. Such an unlikely alliance could be a starting point for a nonviolent response to the Bush Administration's pursuit of a permanent state of war.

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It has been reported in the European press that Dick Cheney has been threatening large corporations that action will be taken against them if they continue to do business with Iran. Apparently, he has also been telling them that if they do not go along with this economic boycott the US will be forced to take military action against Iran.

Maybe he could order Blackwater to invade Iran if the JCS won't do it.

BK

Also, if you haven't been following the Doonsbury comic strip, former Ambassador Duke, now working at his son's Public Relations office in Washington, represents Beserkastan, which Cheney's speechwriters, assigned to come up with a pretext for war with Iran, are trying to stir up a border dispute.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html

In addition:

http://fchap.obworld.com/index.cfm?d=news&...amp;newsid=3537

y::

Will the Military Halt an Iran Attack?

US - Sometimes history -- and necessity -- make strange bedfellows. The German general staff transported Lenin to Russia to lea a revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played godfather to the birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally strange -- but perhaps equally necessary -- is the addressee of a new appeal signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many other leaders of the American peace movement:

"ATTENTION: Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military Personnel: Do not attack Iran."

The initiative responds to the growing calls for an attack on Iran from the likes of Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the reports of growing war momentum in Washington by reporters like Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Joe Klein of Time. International lawyer Scott Horton says European diplomats at the recent United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the United States will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur within the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of conflict at 70 percent.

The initiative also responds to the recent failure of Congress to pass legislation requiring its approval before an attack on Iran and the hawk-driven resolution encouraging the President to act against the Iranian military. Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told The Nation:

If we thought that our lawmakers would restrain the Bush Administration from further endangering Americans and the rest of the world, we would concentrate solely on them. If we went to Las Vegas today, would we find anyone willing to bet on this Congress restraining Bush? I don't think so.

Because our soldiers know the horrors of war -- severed limbs, blindness, brain injury -- they are loath to romanticize the battlefield or glorify expansion of the Iraq genocide that has left a million Iraqis dead and millions others exiled.

Military Resistance

What could be stranger than a group of peace activists petitioning the military to stop a war? And yet there is more logic here than meets the eye.

Asked in an online discussion September 27 whether the Bush Administration will launch a war against Iran, Washington Post intelligence reporter Dana Priest replied, "Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions."

She acknowledged that she had indulged in a bit of hyperbole, then added, "but not much."

There have been many other hints of military disaffection from plans to attack Iran -- indeed, military resistance may help explain why, despite years of rumors about Bush Administration intentions, such an attack has not yet occurred. A Pentagon consultant told Hersh more than a year ago, "There is a war about the war going on inside the building." Hersh also reported that Gen. Peter Pace had forced Bush and Cheney to remove the "nuclear option" from the plans for possible conflict with Iran -- in the Pentagon it was known as the April Revolution.

In December, according to Time correspondent Joe Klein, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure room known as The Tank. The President was told that "the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities." But the Joint Chiefs were "unanimously opposed to taking that course of action," both because it might not eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and because Iran could respond devastatingly in Iraq -- and in the United States.

In an article published by Inter Press Service, historian and national security policy analyst Gareth Porter reported that Adm. William Fallon, Bush's then-nominee to head the Central Command (Centcom), sent the Defense Department a strongly worded message earlier this year opposing the plan to send a third carrier strike group into the Persian Gulf. In another Inter Press analysis, Porter quotes someone who met with Fallon saying an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch." He added, "You know what choices I have. I'm a professional. ... There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box."

Military officers in the field have frequently refuted Bush Administration claims about Iranian arms in Iraq and Afghanistan. Porter says that when a State Department official this June publicly accused Iran of giving arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US commander of NATO forces there twice denied the claim.

More recently, top brass have warned that the United States is not prepared for new wars. Gen. George Casey, the Army's top commander, recently made a highly unusual personal request for a House Armed Services Committee hearing in which he warned that "we are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies." While this could surely be interpreted as a call for more troops and resources, it may simultaneously be a warning shot against adventures in Iran.

An October 8 report by Tim Shipman in the Telegraph says that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "taken charge of the forces in the American government opposed to a US military attack on Iran." He cites Pentagon sources saying that Gates is waging "a subtle campaign to undermine the Cheney camp" and that he is "encouraging the Army's senior officers to speak frankly about the overstretch of forces, and the difficulty of fighting another war." Shipman reports Gates has "forged an alliance with Mike McConnell, the national director of intelligence, and Michael Hayden, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, to ensure that Mr. Cheney's office is not the dominant conduit of information and planning on Iran to Mr. Bush."

Every indication is that the "war about the war" is ongoing. Hersh recently reported that the attack-Iran faction has found a new approach that it hopes will be more acceptable to the public -- and presumably to the Pentagon brass. Instead of broad bombing attacks designed to eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and promote regime change, it calls for "surgical strikes" on Revolutionary Guard facilities; they would be justified as retaliation in the "proxy war" that General Petraeus alleges Iran is fighting "against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq." According to Hersh, the revised bombing plan is "gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon." But Israeli officials are concerned that such a plan might leave Iran's nuclear capacity intact.

Appeal to Principle

The appeal for military personnel to resist an attack is primarily based on principle. It asserts that any pre-emptive US attack on Iran would be illegal under international law and a crime under US law. Such an attack would violate Article II, Section 4, of the UN Charter forbidding the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Since Iran has not attacked the United States, an attack against it without authorization by the Security Council would be a violation of international law. Under the US Constitution and the UN Charter, this is the law of the land. Under the military's own laws, armed forces have an obligation to refuse orders that violate US law and the Constitution. And under the principles established by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II, "just obeying orders" is no defense for officials who participate in war crimes.

But the petition also addresses some of the practical concerns that have clearly motivated military officers to oppose an attack on Iran. It would open US soldiers in Iraq to decimation by Iranian forces or their Iraqi allies. It would sow the seeds of hatred for generations. Like the attack on Iraq, it would create more enemies, promote terrorism and make American families less safe.

The petitioners recognize the potential risks of such action to military personnel. "If you heed our call and disobey an illegal order you could be falsely charged with crimes including treason. You could be falsely court martialed. You could be imprisoned."

But they also accept risks themselves, aware that "in violation of our First Amendment rights, we could be charged under remaining section of the unconstitutional Espionage Act or other unconstitutional statute, and that we could be fined, imprisoned, or barred from government employment."

In ordinary times, peace activists would hardly be likely to turn to the military as allies. Indeed, they would rightfully be wary of military officers acting on their own, rather than those of their civilian superiors -- in violation of the Constitution's provisions for civilian oversight of the military. But these are hardly ordinary times. While the public is highly dubious of getting into another war in the Middle East, there now appear to be virtually no institutional barriers to doing so.

Military-Civilian Alliance

Is there a basis for cooperation between the military brass and citizens who believe an attack on Iran would be criminal and/or suicidal? Perhaps. The brass can go public with the truth and ask Congress to provide a platform for explaining the real consequences of an attack on Iran. They can call for a national debate that is not manipulated by the White House. (They can also inform other players of the consequences: tell Wall Street the effects on oil and stock prices and tell European military and political leaders what it is likely to mean in terms of terrorism.) The peace movement has already forged an alliance with Iraq War veterans who oppose the war and with high military officials who oppose torture; a tacit alliance with the brass to halt an attack on Iran is a logical next step.

Such an approach puts the problem of civilian control of the military in a different light. The purpose of civilian control, after all, is not to subject the military to the dictatorial control of one man who may, at the least, express the foolishness and frailty that all flesh is heir to. The purpose is to subject the military to the control of democratic governance, which is to say of an informed public and its representatives.

What contribution can the peace movement make to this process? We can cover military officials' backs when they speak out -- no one is better placed than the peace movement to defend them against Buxxxxe charges of defying civilian control. We can help open a forum for military officers to speak out. Many retired officers have spoken out publicly on the folly of the war in Iraq. We can use our venues in universities and communities to invite them to speak out even more forcefully on the folly of an attack on Iran. We can place ads pointing out military resistance to an attack on Iran and featuring warnings of its possible consequences from past and present military officials. And we can encourage lawmakers to reach out to military officials and offer to give them cover and a forum to speak out. Says petition initiator Marcy Winograd, "I'd like to see peace activists and soldiers sit down, break bread, march together, testify together and force a powerful union to end the next war before the bloodletting begins." The peace movement leaders who appealed to the military had to break through the conventional presumption that the brass were their enemies in all situations. Such an unlikely alliance could be a starting point for a nonviolent response to the Bush Administration's pursuit of a permanent state of war.

You're white hot at the moment, Bill. Thanks for posting that piece. Very encouraging.

The odds of an attack on Iran would appear to be lengthening. A united brass and peace movement should be called the coalition of the sane, if they're not already.

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  • 3 weeks later...
U.S. Intelligence Says Iran Has Ended Nuke Program

A new consensus assessment from all sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies has concluded Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program more than four years ago. The National Intelligence Estimate starkly contradicts the Bush administration’s claims Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear bomb. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley announced the findings in Washington.

National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley: “The IC (Intelligence community) has high confidence, high confidence, that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons program that it has never acknowledged and continues to deny. The intelligence community has high confidence that Iran halted its covert nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 and they have moderate confidence that it had not restarted that program as of mid-2007."

The assessment goes on to conclude spy agencies do not know whether Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons. It effectively rejects a National Intelligence Estimate two years ago that claimed Iran was pursuing a nuclear bomb through a secret program. The estimate also stands in stark contrast to recent language from President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. In October, Bush warned of a “World War III” if Iran continued with alleged nuclear activities. According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration has maintained its threatening rhetoric despite hearing of the intelligence community’s skepticism as early as July. Despite the findings, Hadley and other administration officials say they remain concerned Iran will attempt to develop a bomb.

Ahmadinejad Calls for Gulf Pact

Hours before the new intelligence report was released, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at a summit of Gulf Arab states where he proposed a regional security pact.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “We propose the establishment of economic and security pacts and institutions among the seven states here. The pacts should serve the people of our region more than ever before.’’

UN Weapons Inspectors for Iraq Closing Office

The new report was released just over five years since the erroneous 2002 intelligence estimate that claimed Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and was intent on restarting its nuclear program. The report proved mostly false but was used as the basis to drum up Congressional support for war. Intelligence officials interviewed by the New York Times say the specter of the 2002 report hung over their activities. The report also comes as the UN’s weapon inspection agency for Iraq is preparing to close its doors. On Monday, UNMOVIC director Brian Mullady said looking back, his main regret is not having prevented a war.

UNMOVIC director Brian Mullady: “I guess my nostalgia is that if we had been more trusted by the world and the fact that we were doing a good job over there. UNSCOM had done a good job. UNSCOM destroyed more missiles than the forces did during the 1991 war. If we had more trust, more people to say yes, this is probably true and more doubt about what the U.S. and the British position was, maybe we could have prevented a war."

www.democracynow.org Dec. 4, 07

From Jim Hoagland's Washington Post column reprinted in the Houston Chronicle of Dec. 9, 2007 titled, "Bush is to blame for collapse of presidential authority":

"The intelligence community -- and particularly the CIA, which was conceived as an exclusive tool for the president's use in making and executing his most difficult decisions -- has today made itself a separate agency of government, answerable essentially to itself. The National Intelligence Estimate makes clear that for better or worse, spy agencies today make the finished product of policy rather than providing the raw materials."

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This disclosure reminds one of the situation in Iraq. As was pointed out at the time, the only reason Bush was willing to invade Iraq was because he knew they did not have WMD. Maybe this information will now be used to argue that the time is right to invade Iran.

Charles Ostman, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Futures, appeared on the coasttocoastam radio show saturday night (Dec. 8).

He maintained that the National Intelligence Estimate was released recently because those opposed to an attack on Iran had concluded that the only way to stop an imminent irresponsible operation by Bush/Cheney against Iran was to make the NIE report public.

He stated that those opposed to an attack became alarmed several months ago when it was revealed that six nuclear bombs had somehow been flown to a base in Louisiana, which was a jump-off point for U.S. Mideast military operations. He said that the mysterious "unauthorized" six nuclear bombs were either to be used in a false-flag operation by Bush/Cheney or in some other operation that would have given them the excuse to attack Iran.

Those in the intelligence community opposed to such an attack now believe that the release of the NIE report means such a U.S. military operation has been aborted.

In my opinion, with Bush/Cheney being sidelined by the NIE report, the ball has now shifted to Israel, which will devise a way to instigate a war with Iran.

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Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2007

Why the Pentagon Is Happy about the NIE

By Mark Thompson/Washington

The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was the final factor in a military equation that now appears to guarantee that there will be no war with Iran during the Bush Administration. It meshes with the views of the operational types at the Pentagon, who have steadfastly resisted the march to war led by some Administration hawks. The anti-war group was composed of Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Admiral William Fallon, who oversees the U.S. forces that would have had to wage that war. In recent months, all have pushed back privately and publicly, on the wisdom of going to war with Tehran. Indeed, the Pentagon's intelligence units were instrumental in forming the NIE's conclusions.

The U.S. military contributes nine of the 16 intelligence agencies whose views are cobbled together in NIEs: the Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, Army Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Some critics have suggested that the military simply found a public way to quiet the drumbeat for war coming from Vice President Dick Cheney and his shrinking band of allies in the Administration.

There was no formal response from the Pentagon. It is evident, however, that the U.S. military, already strained by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has no appetite for a third war. That's true even if a series of strikes against nuclear and other targets inside Iran were carried out by the Air Force and Navy, the two services who have sat, somewhat frustrated, on the sidelines as the Army and Marine Corps has done the heavy lifting in the two wars now under way. Some Pentagon officials welcomed the new NIE as evidence that the intelligence community is not tied to ideology, as some critics argued was true during the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003.

Still, Pentagon officials made it clear that this was not a political move by the brass — that the military's lack of desire for another conflict and the conclusions of the new NIE are coincidental. They stress that the military focuses on "intentions, not capabilities" when assessing threats, and that the final unclassified portion of the NIE warns that the intelligence community believes "with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."

Indeed, Secretary Gates, in Afghanistan this week, told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community has "more confidence than ever before" that Iran had a nuclear-weapons development program, one that Iran continues to deny it ever possessed. He urged the international community "to join the United States in bringing pressure to bear on the Iranian government" to keep its nuclear-weapons efforts dead. This, he said, will help "ensure that what apparently was a suspension in 2003 becomes a policy of the Iranian government and that they agree to the requirements of the international community in terms of their enrichment program." Iran, he said, had merely suspended — not terminated — its nuclear-weapons efforts. Tehran continues to "keep its options open," he pointed out. "As long as they continue with their enrichment activities, then the opportunity to resume that nuclear weapons program is always present."

However, Gates left no doubt where he stands on how to proceed, saying that the revised NIE shows that non-military measures are the best way to curb Iran's nuclear program. "If anything," he said in Kabul, "the new national estimate validates the Administration's strategy of bringing diplomatic and economic pressures to bear on the Iranian government to change its policies."

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