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What I’ve Learned About US Foreign Policy: The War Against the Third World


Produced by Frank Dorrel

A 2-hour video compilation featuring 10 segments about CIA covert operations and military interventions since WWII

1. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

2. John Stockwell, former C.I.A. Station Chief

3. Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair

4. School of Assassins

5. Genocide by Sanctions

6. Philip Agee, former C.I.A. Case Officer

7. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!

8. The Panama Deception

9. Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General

10. S. Brian Willson, Vietnam Veteran and Peace Activist

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flynt Leverett on Israeli and Iranian Decision-Making

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Race for Iran | September 9th, 2012

Flynt Leverett appeared on Background Briefing with Ian Masters; to listen to the interview, click here.  The discussion centered on two big topics:  whether Israel will attack Iran, and whether the United States can pursue a diplomatic opening with Iranian “hardliners.”

Asked about the prospects for a unilateral Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear targets, perhaps even before the U.S. presidential election on November 6, Flynt argues that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is compelled to deal with two significant constraints on his decision-making.  The first is a “capacity constraint”:  the Israeli military, on its own, simply cannot do that much damage to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.  This is a constraint that Netanyahu or any other Israeli prime minister would have to face; it helps to explain why the leadership of Israel’s military and intelligence services and most of Israel’s national security establishment is so strongly opposed to the idea of a unilateral attack.  Of course, this is not an absolute barrier facing Netanyahu; one cannot categorically say that he and his colleagues would never decide to do something strategically counter-productive or at odds with material reality.  But, in this case, material reality does make such a decision harder.

The second constraint that Netanyahu must deal with is a political one.  Broadly speaking, the prime minister of Israel does not have the same measure of “commander-in-chief” authority as an American president.  (Actually, the U.S. Constitution would suggest that American presidents should not have as much power in this regard as they currently wield, but that’s another issue.)  Put more specifically, Netanyahu, on his own, does not have the authority to start a war, against Iran or anybody else.

For a prime minister to start a war, he must have, at a minimum, the defense minister on board; with Ehud Barak currently holding the defense portfolio, that is probably not an insuperable obstacle.  Beyond this, however, historically-conditioned expectations in Israel are that a prime minister will also have very strong consensus within an eight-member inner cabinet and a larger, more formalized, committee on defense and security affairs within the cabinet.  While outsiders do not have transparent access to the deliberations of these bodies, myriad indications coming from Israel suggest that Netanyahu, today, does not have the requisite degree of consensus to order an attack on the Islamic Republic.

We have argued before that Netanyahu’s ultimate goal is to line up the United States to take on the mission of striking Iran militarily.  But the Obama administration is not about to start an overt war against Iran before the U.S. presidential election (a covert war, of course, has been underway for some time).  Netanyahu is playing a longer-term game than that.  We anticipate that this game will come to a head in 2013—either with a re-elected President Obama or with a new Romney administration—not before November 6, 2012.

Furthermore, as Flynt points out in the interview, scenarios of Israel launching a unilateral strike in the expectation that the United States will inevitably be “drawn in” depend on Israeli leaders making deeply confident assumptions about a multiplicity of variables (in Washington, Tehran, and elsewhere) completely beyond Israel’s control.  Again, this is not to say that Netanyahu and his colleagues would never decide to do something strategically unwise.  But, here too, material reality makes such a decision harder.

The interview segues to a discussion of American diplomacy with Iran with a question about the long-term effect of the George W. Bush administration’s undercutting of former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami and his reformist colleagues through Washington’s abusive reaction to Iranian cooperation with the United States after 9/11.  Playing off this point, Ian Masters asked Flynt’s view of a recent article in which Ray Takeyh argues that, because of the religious grounding of the ideology ostensibly driving Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran—unlike the People’s Republic of China—has failed to continue moving along a path of “moderation” and reform.  In Takeyh’s depiction, the Islamic Republic today looks (at least from official Washington’s perspective) like the People’s Republic if the Maoists were still in charge.

Flynt responds that the George W. Bush administration certainly blew a major opportunity to improve U.S. relations with Iran by its witless reaction (perhaps motivated by an ideology grounded in a particular religious view?) to Tehran’s post-9/11 cooperation with the United States.  Through the remainder of Khatami’s presidency, the Bush administration continued to blow opportunities for realigning U.S.-Iranian relations—most importantly by refusing to deal diplomatically with Iran during the nearly two years (2003-2005) in which it suspended uranium enrichment in order to encourage a serious negotiating process.  But to suggest that Iran’s post-9/11 cooperation with the United States was only a function of a reformist administration in Tehran and that Washington has no openings to deal with the current Iranian leadership shows only how willfully distorted is Takeyh’s reading of Iranian foreign policy.

Ayatollah Khamenei has been the Supreme Leader through the presidencies of Ali Akbar Rafsanjani (what many analysts call a “pragmatic conservative”), the reformist Mohammad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a “new generation” conservative.  We fully expect Ayatollah Khamenei to continue serving in this position after the Islamic Republic elects its next president in 2013.  Under the Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Ahmadinejad administrations, Iran made serious efforts to engage the United States on the basis of mutual interests; it insisted only that diplomacy take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  Khatami—like Rafsanjani before him and Ahmadinejad after him—could not have sought better relations with Washington without Khamenei’s backing.  It is successive American administrations that, on a bipartisan basis, have been too obtuse to take advantage of the openings that Tehran has afforded, demanding instead that the Islamic Republic surrender to American diktats on the nuclear issue and various regional issues up front.

Moreover, if one wants to stick with Takeyh’s analogy between the Islamic Republic’s current leadership and Chinese Maoists, then let’s follow the analogy all the way through:  the United States achieved its historic diplomatic opening with China when Mao still held power and the People’s Republic was still going through the Cultural Revolution.  If the United States insists on micromanaging Iran’s domestic politics to produce exactly the kind of interlocutor it wants to deal with, it will fail.  In the process, Washington will continue to miss opportunities to do what it so manifestly needs to do, for America’s own interests—to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as it is, not as those radically disconnected from Iranian reality might wish it to be.

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Flynt Leverett on Israeli and Iranian Decision-Making

Israel cabinet moves to accredit university on illegal settlement

Al Akhbar – September 9, 2012

Israel’s government Sunday approved plans to upgrade a college on an illegal Jewish settlement to a full-fledged university, in a symbolic move which still requires a ruling by the High Court and the attorney general.

In July, the “Council for Higher Education in Judaea and Samaria,” a group close to illegal Jewish settlers, recommended that the Ariel University Centre receive the upgraded status, which would make it the first university in the occupied West Bank.

International law defines all Israeli settlement on Palestinian land occupied in Israel’s 1967 war with the Arab world, to be illegal.This includes the still occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank stifle the movement of Palestinians and encroach greatly on Palestinian property and resources. There are currently 350,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank, with the government continuing to build thousands of houses, defying calls to stop by the UN.

The number of settlers grew by 15,000 in the last year, according to Israel’s population registry.

Increasingly, companies and labor unions around Europe have divested from companies operating in the occupied West Bank to protest the Jewish state’s forays into the area.

Last month, South Africa re-labeled Israeli products made in the West Bank as coming from ‘occupied Palestinian territories’, a move that triggered a diplomatic row between the two states.

But Israel’s Council for Higher Education, which regulates the seven universities in the Jewish state, opposed the move, branding it political and filed a petition against it to the High Court of Justice.

On Sunday, the cabinet voted on a resolution declaring the move to be of “national importance,” while ordering that all measures be taken “to approve the decision of the Council for Higher Education in Judaea and Samaria, subject to the attorney general’s stance.”

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has yet to present his opinion to the move.

“It is important to have another university in Israel, it is important to have a university in Ariel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the vote.

“I like breaking monopolies and cartels in every field,” he said, noting that there has not been a new university in Israel in 40 years, while the population has nearly tripled.

“Ariel is an inseparable part of Israel, and will stay an inseparable part of it in any future arrangement, like the other settlement blocs,” he said of the settlement which lies deep in the northern West Bank.

Set up in 1982 as an annex to Bar Ilan University, Ariel has 12,000 students in four faculties — medicine, engineering, natural sciences and social sciences — and also has architecture and telecommunications facilities.

Full recognition as a university entitles the Ariel facility to significant additional funding and the ability to grant advanced degrees.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel cabinet moves to accredit university on illegal settlement

Egypt to cut subsidies, increase taxes: PM

Al Akhbar – September 9, 2012

Egypt’s new prime minister, appointed in the summer, said Sunday his government was finalizing a package of economic reforms to boost tax revenue and cut consumer subsidies and that he would present a draft to the president next week.

Hisham Kandil told Reuters in an interview the government planned to direct energy subsidies more effectively, issuing coupons or smart cards to the poor for butane cooking gas by mid-October and cutting subsidies on 95-octane gasoline in coming months.

“We want to increase our revenue. To do so we need to look at our taxation system so it covers more people, not necessarily that we tax more. But it would be better to tax more people,” he said. “We’ll try to get them into the formal economy, and we will do that very soon.”

Egypt last month requested a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the post-revolutionary country trudges through economic dire straits.

During 18 months of political turmoil since the overthrow of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, successive Egyptian governments negotiated with the IMF to secure emergency funding.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which the current president hails, was originally skeptical of the IMF loan, which it feared would undermine Egypt’s sovereignty by keeping it indebted to the IMF.

Dozens of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the move which they said was antithetical to a revolution that aimed to unshackle the chains of foreign intervention.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment