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By Alice Slater, The Nation
A major sticking point for universal support for the Iran deal is the worry expressed repeatedly by doubters and supporters alike, in the plethora of mainstream media coverage, that in 15 years Iran may have the capacity to break out and produce a nuclear bomb only one year after the deal expires. David Petraeus and Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Special Assistant on the Middle East, have actually suggested, in The Washington Post, that we should “put teeth” into the deal by threatening now that “if Iran dashes toward a weapon especially after year 15, that it will trigger the use of force.”
How much better would the public be served if the extensive reporting on the deal also provided the information we need on how we could beat Iran to the punch and honor our own obligations under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate for the elimination of nuclear weapons?
First, we must stop provoking Russia and create a climate for negotiations. The United States should agree to a proposal made by Russia and China to negotiate a space weapons ban instead of continuing to block all discussions of a draft treaty they tabled at the UN in Geneva in 2008 and resubmitted this year. We should dismantle NATO, a rusty Cold War holdover, or at least reverse its eastward expansion which we promised Gorbachev would never happen beyond East Germany after the wall came down. And we should bring home the 300 US nuclear weapons now parked in five NATO countries: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. We should reinstate our 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which the United States walked out of in 2002 after 30 years, and remove our new missile bases in Turkey, Poland, and Romania. It is ironic that underpinning the deal that Kennedy negotiated with Khrushchev, to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba, was US removal of its missiles from Turkey. Well, they’re back!
Perhaps Russia would then agree to negotiate with us about eliminating our arsenals of 15,000 deadly nuclear bombs out of the 16,000 still threatening the planet. We could then call the seven other nuclear weapons states to the table—the UK, France, China, India-Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—to give up their combined arsenals of 1,000 warheads in a negotiated treaty for complete nuclear disarmament. Civil Society has already produced a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, an official UN document, laying out all the required steps for verified, monitored nuclear disarmament. We know how to do it! This is what we promised in 1970 in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which provides that we “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” President Obama has recently proposed that the United States spend $1 trillion over the next thirty years for two new nuclear bomb factories, delivery systems, and warheads. The US just tested a dummy bunker buster nuclear warhead in Nevada in August.
It is sad that we are only hearing about Iran’s obligations under the NPT and not about our own broken promises. With the proper cooperative attitude, the United States could easily accomplish verifiable and monitored nuclear disarmament in 15 years, so we won’t have to demonize Iran when the 15 years are up. As Walt Kelly’s Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”
Airing on PBS on September 12 will be an interview I watched taped at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia on August 28 with Wendy Sherman, the U.S. Under Secretary of State who played the key role in negotiating the Iran agreement.
The Miller Center has cut public questions and answers out of the portion of its events that are broadcast, so what will air will only include questions from the host, Doug Blackmon, but he asked I think most of the questions, some reasonable, some absurd, that have been asked by CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press. The elderly, wealthy, white audience asked questions at the end too, and the first one was about supposedly secret side agreements that would allow Iran to build nuclear weapons. My impression was that the audience was won over by Sherman's answers to everything she was asked.
In fact, Blackmon was about to call on me to ask a question when I had to leave to go meet with a staffer of Senator Mark Warner to urge him to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the first thing I did was give the staffer Sherman's information and ask him to ask the Senator to call her. Warner is, of course, undecided on whether the Iran deal is preferable to the course toward war that so many of his colleagues openly prefer.
My concern, which I had most hoped to ask about, would not have been a concern for Warner, I suspect. My concern was this: the White House Press Secretary has suggested, and Politico has reported that the White House has been telling Congress, that the agreement will allow the U.S. to learn useful information about Iranian facilities that will make it easier to launch an effective war against Iran in the future if "necessary." Sherman on Friday repeatedly violated the U.N. Charter by stating that the United States could launch a war on Iran, and that she had no doubt President Obama would do so, if "necessary" to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. How is that sort of talk heard in Iran?
Sherman should know. She spent two years getting to know and negotiating with Iranians. She describes friendly moments. Both she and her Iranian counterpart became grandparents during the course of this negotiation. She also describes yelling and walking out. How does she think the Iranians she knows hear threats of war? For that matter, how does she think they hear accusations of having had and desiring to have a nuclear weapons program -- accusations repeated by Sherman on Friday but for which she was not asked for any evidence. For that matter, she accused Iran of wishing death to the United States and Israel -- again, without being asked for any evidence.
Sherman was quite articulate and to-the-point and convincing in arguing every detail of the inspections. Those who want a "better deal" had better avoid listening to her at all costs if they want to maintain their belief system. But pushing for peace while threatening war is a weak sort of advocacy, even if its advocates view it as being tough. Sherman, like her former colleague Madeline Albright, brags about how much damage sanctions have done to people -- in this case Iranians. She wants to be tough. But is she being strategic? What happens when the U.S. changes presidents or Congresses or some sort of incident occurs or is alleged to have occurred? The U.S. public will have been taught to think about Iran in the least helpful manner possible.
Asked if she trusts Iran, Sherman says no way. She goes on at length about how trust is not even part of her profession, doesn't enter into it at all, that these negotiations were aimed at and achieved a regime of verification based on total mistrust. A moment later, asked if she trusts in the good faith of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sherman does not hesitate to exclaim "Oh, of course!" What does that example tell people to think about Iranians? Compared to an openly racist militarist who orders the slaughter of civilians, the Iranians are untrustworthy? If that were so, I'd oppose the agreement myself!
Sherman also says that Iran knows how to make a nuclear weapon. I'd have liked to ask her whether she learned this before or after the CIA gave Iran nuclear weapons blueprints -- for which Jeffrey Sterling sits in prison as the alleged and convicted whistleblower. And how did she learn it?
Sherman says the United States is the one indispensible nation that must lead the global fight against "terrorism." She declares that if needed the U.S. can re-impose not only its own sanctions on Iran but also those of its partners and the EU. I wouldn't be so sure. A stronger, reality-based case for this agreement would recognize that the threat is not from Iran but from the United States, that the world understands that to a huge extent, and that other nations are not going to easily re-impose sanctions on Iran. In fact they're already opening embassies there. For the United States to go back on this agreement, now or later, would indeed isolate one nation from the rest of the world. I wonder, however, if Sherman is able to allow herself to realize which nation that will be.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote this week: "if the United States rejects this deal, we would instantly isolate ourselves from the countries that spent nearly two years working with American negotiators to hammer out its toughest provisions." Power goes on to explain that such isolation would be undesirable because it would prevent the United States from getting other governments to join in new sanctions to harm any other country or new wars against any other countries.
Hey, now that I think about it, I have to wonder whether U.S. isolation would be such a bad thing after all.
Stabenow Yes takes potential No list down to 14. But Blumenthal is still undecided, so it's 15.
This is an update to "Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran." But Blumenthal is still undecided, so it's 15.
I've found there isn't really any way to touch on this topic without misunderstanding, but here's a try. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program or threatened to launch a war against the U.S. or Israel. Many opponents of the Iran deal in the U.S. Congress and nearly every, if not every single, proponent of the agreement in the U.S. Congress has proposed war as the alternative. Some examples are here. The White House is even telling Congress that the agreement will make a future war easier -- as a selling point in favor of the deal.
Of course, war is NOT the only alternative to the agreement. The threat of war comes from the U.S. An alternative to that would be to simply stop threatening it. No deal is actually needed. The purpose it serves is to slow down a U.S. push for war.
Of course, many ordinary supporters and opponents of the agreement do not want a war. But with Washington offering two courses of action toward Iran: a deal that imposes tougher inspections than anyone else has to deal with, or bombs, one has to choose the inspections.
That is, a moral person does. The "I want a better deal" argument is cynically put forward by people who want no deal at all, even if supported by well-meaning people who have the misfortune to own televisions or read newspapers.
Of course, the Iranian government can be criticized in many areas, none of which are subject to improvement by bombing.
Here are people who have said they oppose the agreement or can't make up their mind about it yet:
Every Republican in the U.S. Senate plus these Democrats (the first two have said No, the rest Undecided):
This is a much shorter list than what it was when I previously wrote on this topic. In fact, it's at 15, which is almost down to the 13 needed to kill the agreement. Get it down to 12 and the agreement survives. That means two more Democratic senators can come around to the Yes position on the Iran deal and the deal still die. Almost certainly at least those two will. Whether a third does, or more do, is the real question.
When measures voted on are popular with funders but unpopular with the public, they very often pass with no more than exactly the votes needed. Sometimes word leaks out about the deals that have been cut. Senators and House members take their turns giving the unpopular votes demanded by funders and "leadership." The trick here is that the "leadership" is split between Obama's and Biden's YES and (would be Senate leader) Schumer's NO.
The fifteen people named above have had PLENTY of time to conclude that many of their colleagues want to risk a war and to understand that the agreement is preferable to that. It's time for us to let them know we will not stand for them getting this wrong and will never forget it if they do. Here's what I'm asking about my senator, Mark Warner:
Here's what World Beyond War is doing to try to correct the myth that Iran is the origin of the threat of war in this affair:
We must uphold the Iran agreement, but upholding it while pretending that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, or is threatening anyone, will not create a stable and lasting foundation for peace. Upholding an agreement with both proponents and opponents threatening war as an alternative is perilous as well as immoral, illegal, and — given the outcome of similar recent wars based on similar recent propaganda — insane.
More events all over the world, and tools for creating your own are here.
Outside the U.S., people can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy.
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
Tell Senator Warner: SECURITY WITH DIPLOMACY! NO WAR WITH IRAN!
WHERE: Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Forum
FOUNDERS INN and SPA
5641 Indian River Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
WHEN: Noon until 2pm
WHY: Warner is ON THE FENCE. Obama needs his support. Without this agreement, we are headed into WAR WITH IRAN. The warmongers are pouring millions into defeating diplomacy.
Sen. Kaine will also attend the forum. He already announces he will support the plan. We can thank him.
HOW: Non-violent peaceful presence outside the forum.
BRING: Signs saying "No War With Iran!", "Thank You, Sen. Kaine!", "Sen. Warner: Do You Want Another War?"
Kim Williams for Norfolk Catholic Worker/
Syria and Iran -- Ghiass Moussa, Ramsey Clark, Margaret Kimberly, Larry Hamm, Joe Lombardo, Sara Flounders, David Swanson,
By Dave Lindorff
I don’t know which is worse: President Obama asserting, in defense of the nuclear deal he and his Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Iran, that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” or the fact that most Americans, and most American pundits, seem to accept that limited choice of options as a given.
Senator Bernie Sanders pushed the false propaganda about needing to prevent Iran from getting a nuke, and even threatened war under the "all options are on the table" euphemism, but did so as part of the following statement supporting the Iran agreement:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced that he will support an agreement that the United States and other nations negotiated with Iran to limit its nuclear program.
Sanders issued a statement after a telephone conversation on Friday with President Barack Obama, who addressed some of Sanders’ concerns. The senator first publicly discussed his intention to vote for the agreement in an interview with John Dickerson of CBS News, which will be broadcast Sunday on “Face the Nation.”
“The test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner,” Sanders said in the statement.
“The war in Iraq, which I opposed, destabilized the entire region, helped create the Islamic State, cost the lives of 6,700 brave men and women and resulted in hundreds of thousands of others in our armed forces returning home with post-traumatic-stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. I fear that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not the first resort,” Sanders said in the statement.
“The United States must do everything it can to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, that Israel is not threatened by a nuclear Iran and that a nuclear arms race in the region is avoided,” he added. “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have worked through a very difficult process with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran. This agreement is obviously not all that many of us would have liked but it beats the alternative – a war with Iran that could go on for years.
“If Iran does not live up to the agreement, sanctions may be reapplied,” he added. “If Iran moves toward a nuclear weapon, all available options remain on the table. I think it is incumbent upon us, however, to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed. That is why I will support the agreement.”
Let's do the count:
Senators rallying and whipping their colleagues to support the Iran agreement: 0.
Senators admitting that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program and has never threatened or been a threat to the United States: 0.
Senators pushing the false idea that Iran is a nuclear threat but indicating they will vote to support the agreement precisely in order to counter that threat: 16
(Tammy Baldwin, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Martin Heinrich, Tim Kaine, Angus King, Patrick Leahy, Chris Murphy, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren)
Republican (and "Libertarian") senators indicating they will try to kill the agreement, thereby moving the United States toward a war on Iran: 54.
(All of them.)
Democratic senators inspired during the repulsive Republican debate Thursday night to announce that they will try to kill the deal (and would rather have a war): 1.
Democratic senators who haven't clearly stated a position: 29.
The number of those 29 who would have to join Schumer to kill the agreement and set the United States on a path toward self-isolation, international disgrace, and disastrous illegal immoral catastrophic war that will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like diplomacy: 12.
Can we keep the agreement protected from such a fate? Of course we can. We've been stopping a war on Iran for many years now. We stopped it in 2007. Such things never enter U.S. history books, but wars are stopped all the time. In 2013, the push for a massive bombing campaign on Syria was hard and absolutely bipartisan, yet public pressure played the key role in stopping it.
Now we have the White House on our side for godsake. When Obama wants a horrible corporate trade agreement fast tracked or a supplemental war spending bill rammed through or a "healthcare" bill passed, he twists arms and offers bribes, he gives rides on his airplane, he sends cabinet secretaries to do PR events in districts. If he really wants this, he'll hardly need our help. So one strategy we need to keep after is making clear he knows we expect this of him.
Senator Sanders has a gazillion fans now, and something like all but 3 of them believe he is a hero for peace. If you're a Bernie supporter, you can urge him to rally his colleagues to protect the Iran agreement.
In states like Virginia where one senator is taking the right position and one is keeping quiet, urge the first one (Kaine) to lobby the other one (Warner).
Would-be senators like Alan Grayson who want people to think of them as progressives but who have been pushing to kill the deal since before Schumer slithered out from under his rock, should be hounded everywhere they show their faces.
Schumer himself should not be permitted to appear in public without protest of his warmongering.
Just as in the summer of 2013, most senators and house members are going to be at public events in the coming weeks. Email and call them here. That's easy. That's the least anyone can do. And it had an impact last time in 2013. But also find out where they will be (senators and representatives both) and be there in small or large numbers to demand NO WAR ON IRAN.
The most expensive weapons system they've got ("missile defense") has been using the mythical Iranian threat as a ridiculous justification for picking your pocket and antagonizing the world in your name for years and years. But Raytheon wanted those missiles to hit Syria, and Wall Street believed they would.
The Israel lobby has much of Congress bought and paid for. But the public is turning against it, and you can shame its servants.
In the long run, it's useful to remember that lies do not set us free.
If both proponents and opponents of the agreement depict Iran falsely as a nuclear threat, the danger of a U.S. war on Iran is going to continue, with or without the deal. The deal could end with the election of a new president or Congress. Ending the agreement could be the first act of a Republican president or a Schumerian Democratic Leader.
So, don't just urge the right vote while pushing the propaganda. Oppose the propaganda as well.
Well, he certainly doesn't get every bit right, but he gets the vote right. Now where is his colleague from Virginia, Senator Mark Warner?
By Tom H. Hastings
Do I not effectually destroy my enemies, in making them my friends?
--Sigismund of Luxemburg as quoted in The Sociable Storyteller (1846)
We are SOS in the Middle East. Stuck on Stupid. Can we get unstuck?
Focusing on Iran while keeping the overall region in mind, most scholars in my field of Peace and Conflict Studies would make some version of the following suggestions:
- Quit sending arms to anyone in the region
- Quit telling Iranian people what to do
- Offer to help, but not militarily
- Start lifting sanctions slowly, unilaterally
- Wait for reciprocity and repeat (Rapoport’s tested game theory)
- Start exchange programs to reintroduce Iranians to the US and Americans to Iran
Just as the US will have its Death to Iran or Death to Muslims loudmouths, Iran will have its Death to America blowhards. But let’s think about the Iranian Index:
- number of Iranians on planes as hijackers on 9.11.01: 0
- number of Americans held hostage from November 1979-January 1981: 52
- number of days US hostages held: 444
- number of US hostages killed: 0
- number of US hostages released alive: 52
- number of democratically elected leaders of Iran overthrown by US CIA in its 1953 Operation Ajax: 1
- number of political prisoners in Iran under US-installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi: 2,200
- number of barrels of oil US imports from Iran: 0
- number of Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated by Mossad/CIA operatives: 5
Do Americans recall the 1953 plot and all the military aid that subsequently went to the Shah, with his notorious SAVAK not-so-secret police, trained and armed and advised by the CIA? Just imagine that our country was upended, an Iranian-backed leader installed, and patriots were rounded up as soon as they dissented. Imagine that we endured this nightmare for 26 years. Would we ever forgive Iran? Might a few of us chant Death to Iran once in a while? I’m sure Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and the entire Republican leadership (most of whom are running for president) would be so chanting on the floor of the House, the Senate, or on national television.
Oh—that’s right, they already do. Imagine an Iranian online reading about Ted Cruz’s claim that the nuclear deal makes Obama the biggest financier of terrorism in the world and then watches Cruz’s machine gun bacon video. The new surrealpolitik.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is sounding to the world like the most reasonable party, saying on Iranian TV that hardliners on both sides have it all wrong, “This idea that we have two options before the world, either submit to it or defeat it, is illogical: there is also a third way, of constructive cooperation with the world in a framework of national interests.”
Both the US and Iran are bad boys on the world stage. Both are viewed as states that practice or sponsor terror. We cannot fix that by wild talk by our politicians and neither can Iran.
For the good of the people of the US, of Iran, and of the world, we need to support the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s not perfect, but neither are any humans and humans control technology of weapons that must be perfectly kept from being used, ever. Therefore, the fewer nuclear weapons in the world, the less we have to worry about that human imperfection. It should make us more tolerant of each other and less tolerant of any nuclear weapons anywhere. As Deepak Chopra once said, “Nuclear weapons are always in the wrong hands.”
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.
Nukes get all the attention, but the fact is that intense inspections of Iranian facilities will also prevent Iran from developing a ray gun that causes your clothes to vanish and your brain to convert to Islam.
No, there is not the slightest scrap of evidence that Iran is trying to create such a thing, but then there's also not the slightest scrap of evidence that Iran is trying to create a nuclear bomb.
And yet, here are a bunch of celebrities in a video that certainly cost many more dollars than the number of people who've watched it, urging support for the Iran deal after hyping the bogus Iranian nuclear threat, pretending that the United States gets "forced into" wars, making a bunch of sick jokes about how nuclear death can be better than other war deaths, suggesting that spies are cool, cursing, and mocking the very idea that war is a serious matter.
By John Grant
"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
PUBLIC FORUM ON IRAN DEAL
To be held exactly 70 years after nuclear age opened in Hiroshima (including time zone difference).
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 5, 2015
At The Haven, 112 W. Market Street Charlottesville, VA 22902
Sponsored by World Beyond War, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, RootsAction.org, and Amnesty International Charlottesville, (more welcome to join).
Video of event to be widely distributed.
Speaker: Gareth Porter, independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, and the winner of the Gellhorn Prize for journalism in 2012 for exposing lies and propaganda about the Afghanistan War. Porter spent two weeks in Vienna covering the final round of negotiations and is now writing the definitive account of the how U.S. and Iran finally reached agreement.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
AIPAC's statement on Iran inspires me to make a graphic:
Here's AIPAC's statement:
"AIPAC Statement on Proposed Iran Nuclear Agreement
"AIPAC has consistently supported diplomatic efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program,"
Except when lobbying for ever greater sanctions that would have blocked the negotiations, and even for a US commitment to jump into any Israeli-Iranian war. Here's a brief history in the form of activist opposition to AIPAC.
"and we appreciate the commitment and dedication of President Obama and his administration throughout these negotiations. Unfortunately, this proposed agreement fails to halt Iran’s nuclear quest."
There is no evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon. Gareth Porter makes this clear in his book Manufactured Crisis.
By Patrick T. Hiller
The day the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany (P5+1) was reached, President Obama declared that “the world can do remarkable things when we share a vision of peacefully addressing conflicts.” At the same time, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif expressed his appreciation of a “process in order to reach a win-win solution … and open new horizons for dealing with serious problems that affect our international community.”
I am a Peace Scientist. I study the causes of war and conditions for peace. In my field we provide evidence-based alternatives to war using language such as “peacefully addressing conflicts” and “win-win solutions.” Today is a good day, since this deal creates the conditions for peace and is the most effective way for all involved to move forward.
The nuclear deal is an achievement in global nuclear nonproliferation. Iran has always insisted it was not pursuing nuclear weapons. This claim has been supported by former CIA analyst and Middle East specialist for the U.S. State Department, Flynt Leverett, who is among those experts who do not believe Iran was seeking to build nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the framework of the deal should address the concerns of those fearing a nuclear armed Iran. In fact, this deal possibly prevented a nuclear arms race in the entire Middle East.
For the United States to sit and talk and come to an agreement with a nation it has been antagonizing and demonizing since the dictator it installed in 1953 was overthrown in 1979 is historic and, I hope, precedent setting. Let's seal this deal!
Four months ago the Washington Post published an op-ed headlined 'War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option.' It wasn't. Defenders of war present war as a last resort, but when other options are tried the result is never war. We should carry this lesson over to several other parts of the world.
The time has come to remove the "missile defense" weaponry from Europe that was put there under the false pretense of protecting Europe from Iran. With that justification gone, U.S. aggression toward Russia will become damagingly apparent if this step is not taken. And the time has come for the nations that actually have nuclear weapons to join and/or comply with the nonproliferation treaty, which Iran was never actually in violation of.
By Bruce Gagnon, Organizing Notes
Iran has reached an agreement to significantly limit its nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. The agreement is between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and the European Union. The deal would not have likely been possible without the active participation of the Russian Federation.
Israel and Saudi Arabia will likely try to kill the deal as will the Republican led Congress in Washington.
Longtime peace worker Jan Oberg in Sweden writes about the deal:
Why Iran in focus and not all those who have nuclear weapons? Why 5 nuclear weapons states at the table, all violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty - telling Iran not to have what they have?
Why focus on Iran, not Israel which has nuclear weapons, much higher relative military expenditures, a record of violence?
All good questions for sure. I'd like to add one more question into this stew.
The US has long maintained that the Pentagon's deployment of 'missile defense' (MD) systems into eastern Europe are not aimed at Russia but have been aimed at Iran's nuclear potential. Of course this has always been nonsense but just for a moment let's pretend it was true. The US was 'protecting' itself and Europe from a nuclear attack by Iran - even though Tehran had no nuclear weapons and no long-range delivery systems capable of hitting the US.
So now that this deal has been signed what is the need for the US to continue with its deployments of MD interceptors in Poland and Romania as well as on Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas? And why the need for the Pentagon's MD radar in Turkey? None of these systems will be needed. Will Washington bring MD home?
Or will the US now search for, and find, another excuse to justify their destabilizing MD interceptors near the Russian border?
Keep your eyes on that bouncing ball.
The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations deals with such an engaging topic that even this new book can't really make it boring, hard as it seems to try. When asked what historical figure I would most like to bring back to life and have a talk with I tend to think of Mossadeq, the complex, Gandhian, elected leader, denounced as both Hitler and a communist (as would become part of the standard procedure) and overthrown in an early CIA coup (1953) -- a coup that encouraged dozens more around the globe and led straight to the Iranian revolution and to today's Iranian distrust of the United States. I'm more inclined to believe that current Iranian distrust of the U.S. government is well-merited than blaming it on a long-ago coup implies, but the coup lies at the root of Iranian and worldwide skepticism about generous U.S. intentions.
It's also an interesting fact, supported by this case, that some of the best government actions, taken by any government around the world, have occurred just prior to various U.S.-backed violent coups -- and I include in that category the U.S. New Deal, followed by the unsuccessful Wall Street coup attempt rejected by Smedley Butler. Mossadegh had just done, among other things, these: Slashed the military budget 15%, launched an investigation into weapons deals, retired 135 senior officers, caused the military and police to report to the government rather than to the monarch, slashed stipends to the royal family, restricted the Shah's access to foreign diplomats, transferred the royal estates to the state, and drafted bills to give women the vote and protect the press and the independence of the Supreme Court and taxing extreme wealth by 2% and giving workers healthcare and upping peasants' share of the harvest by 15%. Facing an oil embargo, he cut state salaries, eliminated chauffeured cars for high officials, and restricted luxury imports. All of that was in addition, of course, to the cause of the coup: his insistence on nationalizing the oil from which a British company, and Britain, had been profiting enormously.
By Norman Solomon, ExposeFacts
A dozen years before his recent sentencing to a 42-month prison term based on a jury’s conclusion that he gave classified information to a New York Times journalist, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was in the midst of a protracted and fruitless effort to find someone in Congress willing to look into his accusations about racial discrimination at the agency.
ExposeFacts.org has obtained letters from Sterling to prominent members of Congress, beseeching them in 2003 and 2006 to hear him out about racial bias at the CIA. Sterling, who is expected to enter prison soon, provided the letters last week. They indicate that he believed the CIA was retaliating against him for daring to become the first-ever black case officer to sue the agency for racial discrimination.
As early as 2000, Sterling was reaching out toward Capitol Hill about his concerns. He received a positive response from House member Julian Dixon (D-Calif.), a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who expressed interest in pursuing the matter of racial discrimination at the CIA and contacted the agency about his case, Sterling says. But the 20-year member of Congress died from a heart attack on Dec. 8, 2000.
Sterling recalls getting special firing treatment in early 2002 from John Brennan, then a high-ranking CIA executive, now the agency’s director and a close adviser to President Obama: “He personally came down to the administrative office to tell me that I was fired. Someone told me that, ‘Well, you pulled on Superman’s cape.’”
By John Grant
By Patrick T. Hiller
It is easy to be a cynic listening to some of the more nonsensical chatter coming out of Congress. Despite the most comprehensive international agreement between the United States and its P5+1 partners (the members of the UN Security Council and Germany) with Iran on its nuclear program, the calls to bomb Iran are still too loud for them to be dismissed. In a less publicized speech last week, informed leadership by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley points to a simple yet powerful truth: diplomacy works. Merkley argued, without dismissing the absolute need to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons program, that the most effective strategy to achieve this outcome is a verifiable, negotiated process. Almost simultaneously, 150 House Democrats wrote a letter supporting the administration’s negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, urging the exhaustion of every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
This is more than just Congressional politics and debate. We are experiencing a shift in the larger debate about the effectiveness of diplomacy versus war. We are more secure through diplomacy and negotiated agreements, because they are superior to military intervention and war. Therefore it is crucial that diplomatic efforts continue and that we disregard military options which are guaranteed failures in the short and long-term.
There is a poor track-record of military intervention to achieve the stated outcomes. Or to put it differently – wars don’t work. This is especially true for the more recent wars and military interventions in the Middle East. The voices still claiming success in the two major US-led Middle East wars are increasingly shrinking. The war in Afghanistan was an ill-conceived response to the criminal attack of September 11, 2001. The 2003 invasion of Iraq turned into the Iraq War. Astronomical costs, a violent insurgency, the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and immense casualties and suffering of civilians sum up the current situation.
Diplomats and negotiators are not acting in uncharted landscapes. There is a body of knowledge on why negotiation and other conflict resolution approaches are superior to military options. Negotiation is not a zero-sum game where one party wins at the expense of the other parties. The possible and expected outcomes are mutually acceptable agreements. In multilateral negotiations – in this case the P5 + 1 framework – the potential for more lasting agreements grows substantially, as more groups and interests are interdependent and have to be reconciled. Negotiation is a critical tool to restore and repair broken relationships as well as creating space for agreements in other areas. Whether we like it or not, Iran is a major player in the Middle East and beyond. Foreign policy issues around Syria, Iraq, Yemen, oil, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be addressed constructively when Iran is an involved participant in creating a path forward.
In a time where people and governments worldwide are calling for nuclear disarmament, there is an understandable fear of a nuclear-armed Iran. Some might argue that swift military air bombardment against Iran is the best option to achieve this goal. This is a purely political statement and out-of-touch with history and expertise of military leaders. Adm. Mike Mullen (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote, “As of today, there is no more credible path of reducing the likelihood of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon than this potential deal. Those who say the risks are too high with the current deal offer no constructive path forward save the high potential for war.” Due to absolute superiority of U.S. conventional military force, even the threat of military intervention would be an incentive for Iran to actually acquire nuclear weapons and create as much secrecy as possible around those efforts. The tone in Washington’s foreign policy and intelligence community has changed. Having personally sat through briefings with officials from the State Department, the intelligence community and other state agencies recently, I can attest that there was a strong consensus that any application of hard military power leads to uncertain and uncontrollable outcomes and that diplomacy and cooperation with partners was the preferred course of action.
The stakes in P5+1 and Iran nuclear negotiations are high. The only path forward is to seek negotiated agreements based on oversight and control. In doing so, we can prevent war and the inevitable human, social, economic and environmental costs. We can avoid putting American men and women in harm’s way, who then would cause harm to Iranian men, women and children – that’s the nature of war. The way we understand and constructively address global conflict and war now has changed. Senator Merkley has shown that he recognizes that negotiation and understanding its environment is the new realpolitik which makes us more secure. The media and the public have a responsibility to protect and emphasize such voices.
Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., Hood River, OR, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association, and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.
Credit where credit's due...but only where it's due: How Can Obama Claim the Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War?
By Dave Lindorff
A kudo to President Obama. But just one.
If he manages to pull off an agreement with Iran on limiting that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program in the fact of determined resistance from Republicans, Neocons, the Israel Lobby and the warmongers in both the GOP and his own Democratic Party, he will have finally earned at least some small portion of the gold in his Nobel Peace medallion.
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