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Iran War Weekly - April 8, 2012

IranWar Weekly

April 8, 2012

Hello All – The purpose of the “Iran War Weekly” is to provide antiwar activists with information and analysis about the diplomatic and military crisis that has followed from US and Israeli opposition to Iran’s nuclear program.  The many dimensions of this crisis – which now includes the domestic and international conflicts arising from Syria’s internal uprising and civil war – are a challenge to the antiwar movement. The mainstream media has responded to the complexity of this crisis by framing events in black and white terms, and presenting them from the perspective of the US government.  My goal is to help with the development of an alternative analysis by drawing on dissenting and antiwar sources of information.  This is a learning process for me also, and I very much welcome suggestions and (friendly) criticism, as well as recommendations for content and better presentation.

Frank Brodhead

Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

This morning’s New York Times included a front-page article by White House insider David Sanger, “U.S. Defines Its Demands for New Round of Talks With Iran.”  The talks, set to begin soon between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, are the first since January 2011, and have been described by the Obama administration as Iran’s “last chance” to resolve outstanding differences peacefully.  What is striking is that the “demands” now include the closure and eventual dismantlement of Iran’s new uranium enrichment plant at Fordo, seen as a threat to Israel because it is built into a mountain and would be hard to destroy militarily.  Another new issue raised by the “demands” is that Iran ship out of the country its supply of uranium enriched for use in medical treatment and research, and that it cease production of such enriched uranium.  The significance of these “demands,” in my view, is that they indicate that the negotiations with Iran are intended to fail, and in their failure to justify further sanctions and/or make it appear that military action against Iran is the only practical, remaining option for the United States and Israel.

While the uprising/civil war in Syria has its roots in longstanding civilian grievances and the inspiration of the Arab Spring, the “internationalization” of the conflict forces opponents of war with Iran to understand the role of Syrian events in the chances of peace or war with Iran.  Pasted in below are several articles that illustrate the internal dimensions of the Syrian conflict, as well as excellent overviews by Gil Achcar, Alain Gresh, and Vijay Prashad.  Next week we will learn whether the “cease fire” perhaps brokered by the UN’s Kofi Annan and the Arab League will make a difference, and/or whether the military steps initiated by the recent “Friends of Syria” meeting in Turkey will escalate the conflict.


FEATURED ESSAYS

Thinking the Unthinkable on Iran

By Jonathan Schell, The Nation [April 3, 2012]

---- Bush accompanied his policy on Iraq with a great deal of neo-imperialist rhetoric that is absent from Obama’s statements, but the fundamentals have been the same—a militarization of disarmament leading to a policy of what could be called disarmament wars. Disarmament wars threaten or occur when force becomes the chosen instrument for preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Yet to conclude that Obama merely inherited this policy from Bush would be too simple, for Bush, in spite of all his preoccupation with 9/11, was not its originator, either. That distinction goes to Bill Clinton, who in a widely forgotten episode went to the brink of war in 1993 to prevent North Korea from reprocessing plutonium for nuclear weapons. In other words, disarmament wars are not the invention of Obama or even Bush; they have been “on the table” of US policy for almost two decades. The fact is that after the cold war ended the United States, by an almost unnoticed cumulative process, turned for the first time in the nuclear age to a policy of using force to stop proliferation. http://www.thenation.com/print/article/167196/thinking-unthinkable-iran


The Real Nuclear Outlaws: How the US and Israel are Shredding the NPT

By Carl Boggs, Counterpunch [April 4, 2012]

---- While United States and Israeli leaders, duly assisted by a warmongering media, ramp up war talk against Iran, two troublesome pieces of information are ritually ignored.  First, even American intelligence reports conclude that Iran is not close to building a nuclear-weapons program. Second, it is the U.S. and Israel – not Iran – that stand in flagrant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/04/the-real-nuclear-outlaws/


Our Men in Iran?

By Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker [April 6, 2012]

---- The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html


Also useful: Juan Cole, “USPentagon Trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada,” Informed Comment [April 7, 2012] http://www.juancole.com/2012/04/us-pentagon-trained-iranian-terrorists-in-nevada-hersh.html; and Sheila Musaji, ”The MEK and terrorism double standards,” The American Muslim [April 7, 2012] http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/some-terrorist-groups/0019034


(Video)Iranian diplomat says IAEA undermined recent talks to satisfy Israel and West

An interview with Gareth Porter, from the Real News Network [April 3, 2012] – 17 minutes

http://warincontext.org/2012/04/03/video-iranian-diplomat-says-iaea-undermined-recent-talks-to-satisfy-israel-and-west/


(Video)Iran, China’s Rise, and American Strategy

From Aljazeera [April 6, 2012] – 25 minutes

---- The Obama Administration has committed itself to a policy under which it will be under enormous pressure to sanction important Chinese companies and financial institutions of the People’s Republic does not cut off—or at least radically reduce—its trade relations with the Islamic Republic.  Does the administration really believe that, by threatening such sanctions, it can compel Beijing to do serious damage to Chinese interests—and surrender its strategic independence, to boot—by cooperating with unilaterally asserted U.S. and European sanctions, which are already driving up the price of oil?  The Iranian nuclear issue is likely to turn out to be, on many levels, a major turning point for America’s relative standing as a great power, in the Middle East and globally. http://www.raceforiran.com/iran-chinas-rise-and-american-strategy


IRANUPDATES


OVERVIEWS

Self-Defeating

By Trita Parsi, The Daily Beast [April 3, 2012]

---- The Obama administration and the US military strongly oppose an Israeli preventive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Their opposition, of course, is not rooted in any sympathy with the repressive regime in Tehran. Nor is it necessarily rooted in America’s already compromised military position in the region. It is because a strike would not destroy Iran’s nuclear program. It would instead increase the likelihood of a nuclear armed Iran down the road.  It would unravel the international consensus against Iran.  It would undermine the Iranian pro-democracy movement and fortify the regime’s grip on power. And, perhaps most importantly, it would eliminate the current insight we have into the Iranian nuclear program and provide the Iranians with a dash-out capability. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/03/self-defeating.html


The Increasingly Transparent U.S.-Israeli Conflict of Interest

By Paul Pillar, The National Interest [March 29, 2012]

---- Given—as several Israelis who have been senior figures in the country's security establishment have noted—that an Iranian nuclear weapon would not pose an existential threat to Israel, one has to look to other reasons for the Israeli agitation about the Iranian nuclear program. Besides Netanyahu's personal obsession, there are the broader Israeli fears and emotions, the desire to maintain a regional nuclear-weapons monopoly and the distraction that the Iran issue provides from outside attention to the Palestinians' lack of popular sovereignty. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-increasingly-transparent-us-israeli-conflict-interest-6712


Don’t Fear a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East

BY Steven A. Cook, Foreign Policy [April 2, 2012]

---- Despite its flimsiness, it is hard to ignore the utility of the Middle East's nuclear dominoes theory. For those who advocate a preventive military strike on Iran, it provides a sweeping geopolitical rationale for a dangerous operation. But the evidence doesn't bear this argument out: If Washington decides it has no other option than an attack, it should do so because Iran is a threat in its own right, and not because it believes it will thwart inevitable proliferation in places like Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. It won't, for the simple reason that there is no reason to believe these countries represent a proliferation risk in the first place. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/02/don_t_fear_a_nuclear_arms_race?page=full


USPOLICY

U.S.Defines Its Demands for New Round of Talks With Iran

By David E. Sanger and Steven Erlanger, New York Times [April 8, 2012]

---- The Obama administration and its European allies plan to open new negotiations with Iran by demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling of a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain. They are also calling for a halt in the production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of the country. That negotiating position will be the opening move in what President Obama has called Iran’s “last chance” to resolve its nuclear confrontation with the United Nations and the West diplomatically. The hard-line approach would require the country’s military leadership to give up the Fordo enrichment plant outside the holy city of Qum, and with it a huge investment in the one facility that is most hardened against airstrikes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/world/middleeast/us-defines-its-demands-for-new-round-of-talks-with-iran.html?ref=world


Also useful: David Ignatius, “Obama’s signal to Iran,” Washington Post [April 5, 2012] http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-signal-to-iran/2012/04/05/gIQApVLDyS_story.html; and Jason Ditz, “Clinton Issues New Demands For ‘Commitments’ From Iran,” Antiwar.com [April 3, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/04/03/clinton-issues-new-demands-for-commitments-from-iran/


U.S.intelligence gains in Iran seen as boost to confidence

By Joby Warrick and Greg Miller, WashingtonPost [April 7, 2012]

---- The surveillance has been part of what current and former U.S. officials describe as an intelligence surge that is aimed at Iran’s nuclear program and that has been gaining momentum since the final years of George W. Bush’s administration. At a time of renewed debate over whether stopping Iran might require military strikes, the expanded intelligence collection has reinforced the view within the White House that it will have early warning of any move by Iran to assemble a nuclear bomb, officials said. The expanded espionage effort has confirmed the consensus view expressed by the U.S. intelligence community in a controversial estimate released publicly in 2007. That estimate concluded that while Iran remains resolutely committed to assembling key building blocks for a nuclear weapons program, particularly enriched uranium, the nation’s leaders have opted for now against taking the crucial final step: designing a nuclear warhead. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-sees-intelligence-surge-as-boost-to-confidence/2012/04/07/gIQAlCha2S_print.html


A 'closing window' on Iran blocks out realistic diplomacy

By Tony Karon, The National [United Arab Emirates] [April 4, 2012]

---- 'I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically but that window is closing," President Barack Obama said last week about the nuclear standoff with Iran. …  There may be three related elements at work. First, there is Israel threatening unilateral military action based on its own red lines and on its own timetable unless Iran yields. Then there's the fact that Mr Obama's Iran strategy was designed by Dennis Ross, who has since returned to his old job at a think tank created by the pro-Israel lobby Aipac. And then there's Mr Obama's concern with securing his re-election in November, which requires tough-guy posturing on Iran to counter charges from his Republican opponents, egged on by Israel's alarmism, about being "weak" in the face of an Iranian "danger". http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/a-closing-window-on-iran-blocks-out-realistic-diplomacy#full


Media Tutorial

State-dominated media and Iran

By Glen Greenwald, Salon.com [April 5, 2012]

---- The New York Times this morning is prominently featuring a long article documenting the Terroristic aggression of Iran, as evidenced by that country’s attempts to exert influence and foment unrest in Afghanistan: because, as all decent people know, only tyrannical fanatics would attempt to interfere in Afghanistan. http://www.salon.com/2012/04/05/state_dominated_media_and_iran/singleton/


ISRAELI POLICY

Israeli Experts Mum on Iran Attack to Support Bibi’s Bluff

By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [April 03, 2012]

----- A striking feature of the Israeli political landscape in recent months has been the absence of a serious debate among national security figures on the issue of the threat of war with Iran. It is well-known that many prominent former military and intelligence officials believe an attack on Iran would be disastrous for Israel. After an initial blast at the idea of striking Iran by two former high-ranking officials last year, however, very little has been heard from such national security figures. The reason for this silence on the part of the national security sector, just as the Israeli threat of war was escalating sharply, appears to be a widespread view among Israeli national security analysts that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to attack is a highly successful bluff. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2012/04/02/israeli-experts-mum-on-iran-attack-to-support-bibis-bluff/


Also useful: Gareth Porter, (Video) “Is Netanyahu Bluffing?”  Gareth Porter interviewed on the Real News Network [April 6, 2012] – 13 minutes - http://warincontext.org/2012/04/06/video-is-netanyahu-bluffing/; and


Inside Bibi’s mind is a war waiting to start

By Larry Derfner, 972 Magazine [March 24, 2012]

---- Netanyahu (and not just he) seems to have talked himself into believing a war with Iran will be relatively painless The question of whether Israel will attack Iran or not has come down to a guessing game of what’s inside Bibi Netanyahu’s head. He’s certainly given every indication that he wants to do the deed. The idea that he’s bluffing is, I think, pretty stupid; he’s been talking about bombing Iran for 10 years, and he’s hardly alone among Israeli leaders. http://972mag.com/bibis-mind-is-made-up-for-war/39128/


Israelis to protest Iran attack amid growing web campaign

Haggai Matar, 972 Magazine [March 20, 2012]

---- Following a growing number of online grassroots peace initiatives, activists are calling for the first significant demonstration against the sounding war drums. First came the Iranian women, with a series of video clips made especially for International Women’s Day, speaking out against war from a feminist perspective. Then came the Israeli reply, with the Coalition of Women for Peace publishing a declaration stating they “oppose the inflammatory rhetoric of war mongers and the recently advertised plan of the Israeli government to attack Iran. Such an assault is not likely to stop the Iranian nuclear plan, but is likely to lead to regional war, loss of human life and a long term environmental damage.” To this the Iranian group responded with enthusiasm, and called for an end to militarization and sanctions. In an interview with Ha’aretz (Hebrew), one of the Iranian women said that while her group began the struggle, resistance to the war is spreading throughout many groups in Iran. http://972mag.com/israelis-set-to-protest-iran-war-amid-growing-web-campaign/38878/


IRANIAN POLICY

As Nuclear Talks Near, Iran Softens Criticism of Turkey

By Rick Gladstone, New York Times [April 6, 2012]

---- Without specifically referring to Mr. Erdogan or the nuclear talks, Mr. Mehmanparast said that the “remarks made by different people should not have any negative effects on bilateral relations.” He added that Mr. Erdogan’s meeting with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been “very positive and constructive.” The substance of Mr. Erdogan’s discussions with Ayatollah Khamenei have not been disclosed. But Mr. Erdogan visit came just after he met with President Obama at a summit meeting in South Korea. There has been speculation since that Mr. Erdogan carried a message from Mr. Obama to Iran’s leaders on the nuclear issue. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/world/middleeast/iran-softens-criticism-of-turkey-as-nuclear-talks-approach.html?ref=world


SANCTIONS

Impact of Iran Sanctions Widens

By Rick Gladstone, New York Times [April 4, 2012]

---- The Iran sanctions effort led by the United States appeared to be causing new fractures in the Iranian economy on Tuesday, with leading oil companies in South Africa and Greece suspending imports of Iran’s crude oil, further signs of emergency self-reliance emerging in Iran, and an influential former Iranian president publicly challenging his country’s anti-American stoicism.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/world/middleeast/impact-of-iran-sanctions-widens.html?ref=world


Also useful: Howard LaFranchi, “What do Iran sanctions cost you? About 25 cents a gallon, experts say,” The Christian Science Monitor [April 5, 2012] http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2012/0405/What-do-Iran-sanctions-cost-you-About-25-cents-a-gallon-experts-say; and Juan Cole, “Why Romney is Lying about the Causes of high Prices at the Pump,Informed Comment [April 4, 2012] http://www.juancole.com/2012/04/why-romney-is-lying-about-the-causes-of-high-prices-at-the-pump.html


India and the Iran sanctions

By Ramesh Thakur, JapanTimes [April 2, 2012]

---- India must balance relations with Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. India's defense minister recently paid an official visit to Riyadh, the first such ever, and the two sides have agreed to draft a road map for defense cooperation. But India also does have good relations with Iran based on shared trade and security interests. Iran supplies about 12 percent of India's oil imports. Delhi has also had a long-standing interest in building a gas pipeline from Iran to India, but that would have to run through Pakistan and therefore leave India exposed to its enemy's good will in a future emergency. There has been an equally long-standing convergence of strategic interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan that will outlast the Western military involvement in Afghanistan. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120402rt.html


SYRIA UPDATES


Introduction

Two months ago, Syria expert Patrick Seale outlined the multi-dimensional crisis in and with Syria as follows:

"It’s at least a two- or possibly a three-stage crisis. Internally in Syria, the situation is getting worse by the day. At a higher level, there is a struggle between the United States, on the one hand, and its allies, and its opponents like Russia and China... Then there’s a third level, possibly, of Arab Gulf states like Qatar, for example, even Saudi Arabia behind it, who are obsessed and worried by Iran, and they think that Iran might stir up Shia communities in the region." http://www.democracynow.org/2012/2/7/a_struggle_for_regional_supremacy_syria

If anything, the layers of complexity have deepened.  The Arab League, as reflected in its recent meeting in Baghdad, is deeply divided.  The Kofi Annan/UN peace plan, endorsed by the Arab League meeting, was immediately followed by steps to escalate the war taken at the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Turkey. Whether the Assad regime will act on its commitment to withdraw heavy weapons and troops from urban areas by April 10th, and whether there will be a ceasefire on April 12, remains to be seen.


OVERVIEWS

'There’s a fear that the fall of Assad would lead to worse for Western interests and Israel.”

An interview with Gilbert Achcar, ZNet [April 5, 2012]

---- The Syrian National Council is a heterogeneous combination of people, from the Muslim Brotherhood to people on the left, especially the People’s Democratic Party, with a number of figures linked to Western governments, the US or France in particular. The SNC is held together by the pressure of various states intervening in the Syrian situation. These states are actually pushing for a broader coalition to include other groups, in addition to those who are already in the SNC. They are aiming at some form of unification of the opposition, which would make it even more heterogeneous than what the SNC already is. This said, the important point is that the SNC is not a homogeneous rightwing force as depicted in some circles. Within the council, there are some people who cannot be classified as rightwing, but are rather progressives. http://www.zcommunications.org/there-s-a-fear-that-the-fall-of-assad-would-lead-to-worse-for-western-interests-and-israel--by-gilbert-achcar


Civil War or Foreign Intervention? Deadlock over Syria

By Alain Gresh, Le Monde diplomatique [April 3, 2012]

---- The Ba’athist regime believed Syria’s position within the axis of resistance meant it was safe from the revolutionary movement that engulfed the region in 2011. But that was to reduce the conflict over Syria to its geopolitical dimension, as a confrontation between the imperialist and anti-imperialist camps, and to underestimate the changes brought about by the Arab revolutions and the aspirations of the Syrians. The regime miscalculated, because Syria has the same flaws as others in the region: an authoritarian and arbitrary government, a greedy elite, neoliberal policies that impoverish its people, and an inability to respond to the aspirations of the young, who are more numerous and better educated than their elders. Should we do nothing? There are other options than military intervention. http://mondediplo.com/2012/04/03syria


Straining NATO on Short Syrian Leash

By Vijay Prashad, AsiaTimes [April 05, 2012]

---- On February 18, I asked the Indian ambassador to the United Nations, Hardeep Singh Puri, why there was no appetite for a strong UN resolution on Syria. After all, the violence in Syria seemed to have already exceeded that in Libya. If the UN could pass Resolution 1973 (on Libya), why was it reticent to pass a similar resolution on Syria? Puri pointed his finger directly at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states. They had exceeded the mandate of Resolution 1973, moving for regime change using immense violence. All attempts to find a peaceful solution were blocked. The African Union's high-level panel was prevented from entering Libya as the NATO barrage began. Any UN resolution that was sharply worded and that was not explicitly against a humanitarian intervention would open the door to a NATO-style attack. That seems to be the fear. http://www.zcommunications.org/straining-nato-on-short-syrian-leash-by-vijay-prashad


A Secret Plot in Syria

By Andy Warner, Slate [April 4, 2012]

---- An illustrated guide to the 1949 coup—possibly CIA-assisted—that plunged the country into decades of political turmoil. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2012/04/syrian_violence_was_the_cia_involved_in_the_1949_coup_that_plunged_the_country_into_decades_of_turmoil_.html


INSIDE SYRIA

Loyalty to Syrian President Could Isolate Hezbollah

By Anne Barnard, New York Times [April 5, 2012]

---- Syria’s conflict is testing Hezbollah’s longstanding contradictions. It relies on public support, yet sometimes behaves autocratically; it is a national group founded to fight Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon, but owes its military might — and the funds that rebuilt the south after the 2006 war — to Iran’s desire to project power; and it styles itself pan-Islamic, but it depends on rock-solid support from Lebanese Shiites for whom it won long-denied power as it became the Middle East’s most formidable militant group and Lebanon’s strongest political force.Most of all, Hezbollah won respect by sticking to its principles, even among rival sects and the leftist cafe regulars in Beirut who are skeptical of its religious conservatism. Now it is paying a price for its politics of pragmatism in Syria. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/06/world/middleeast/hezbollahs-syria-policy-puts-it-at-risk.html?ref=world


Kurdish Bloc Withdraws From Syrian Rebel Council

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [April 5, 2012]

---- Kurdish factions have been struggled to find a side in the Syrian Civil War, with the militant PKK openly backing the Assad government, and threatening to escalate attacks on Turkey if the nation invades. Indeed, Turkey’s decision to abandon their long-time allies in the regime and endorsing the SNC instead was seen by many analysts as chiefly a function of the SNC’s more nationalist ambitions, with the hopes that they would tamp down secessionist fervor in Syrian Kurdistan. The loss of the Kurdish bloc from the SNC could weaken the rebels significantly in the nation’s northwest, and could put the Kurds in a better bargaining position if the rebel faction eventually collapses. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/04/05/kurdish-bloc-withdraws-from-syrian-rebel-council/


Syria: The virtue of civil disobedience

By Donatella Della Ratta, Aljazeera [April 6, 2012]

---- Civil disobedience is the only way to mobilise people in big cities that are deemed to be regime strongholds in Syria. Syrians' non-violent struggle is indeed inspired by a Syrian scholar, Jawdat Said, who has been incarcerated many times for his writings on resisting oppression through non-violence. In 2001, he wrote: "We live in a world in which four fifths of its population live in frustration while the other fifth lives in fear." Jawadat Said, born in 1931, lives in the Syrian Golan Heights and works as a farmer. I wonder what he thinks of these youth, engaged in their civilised struggle against Goliath, far away from media spotlight, maybe closer to their people. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124283638298672.html


A PLETHORA OF MEETINGS

Syria’s Assad Endorses April 10 Peace Deadline

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [April 2, 2012]

---- Faced with calls from the international community to see some sort of progress on a negotiated settlement, Syrian President Bashar Assad has agreed to an April 10 deadline to start implementing Kofi Annan’s UN-backed plan. The deadline would have Syrian government forces withdrawing from cities and granting humanitarian access, as well as moving toward a full ceasefire within 48 hours of the deadline. The first part should be easy enough. The second part would require the rebel factions to stop fighting — and there’s no indication so far they would consider doing so. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/04/02/syrias-assad-endorses-april-10-peace-deadline/print/


(Video) Arab League meeting in Iraq shows deep divisions over Syria

Vijay Prashad interviewed on the Real News Network [April 6, 2012]

http://warincontext.org/2012/04/06/video-arab-league-meeting-in-iraq-shows-deep-divisions-over-syria/


Russia Accuses Group of Undermining Peace Plan in Syria

By Anne Barnard and Rick Gladstone, New York Times [April 5, 2012]

---- On Wednesday, differences seemed to deepen between the United States and Russia over a solution to the crisis, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov renewing his denunciation of Western and Arab leaders grouped in the so-called “Friends of Syria” coalition. The grouping of dozens of countries met Sunday in Istanbul along with exiled opponents of President Assad, and moved closer to direct intervention in the fighting, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military. Russia did not participate in the meeting and Mr. Lavrov on Wednesday accused the body of undermining the peace proposal put forward by Kofi Annan, the special envoy representing the Arab League and the United Nations.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/world/middleeast/russia-accuses-group-of-undermining-peace-plan-in-syria.html?ref=world


(Video) “Friends of Syria” push civil war

---- An interview with Vijay Prashad, from the Real News Network [April 4, 2012] – 9 minutes

http://warincontext.org/2012/04/04/video-friends-of-syria-push-civil-war/

The U.S. Government Has Been Training Iranian Terrorists in Nevada - And It Didn't Stay in Nevada

Our Men in Iran?

hersh-iran.jpg

From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.


Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html#ixzz1rHLcBhaH

 

Iran War Weekly - April 1, 2012

IranWar Weekly

April 1, 2012

The just-concluded meeting of “Friends of Syria” appears to have ended without agreeing to any interventionist measures, whether arming the resistance fighters, creating a “buffer zone” or “humanitarian corridor,” or recognizing the Syria National Council as the sole representative of the nonviolent Opposition. Instead, the Conference reaffirmed Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which is given lip service by the Syrian government and rejected by the SNC as failing to call for regime change.  We can assume that unpublicized negotiations on the sidelines of the conference addressed military and economic (sanctions) issues re: Iran (not at the Conference), in preparation for a new round of negotiations with Iran scheduled for two weeks from now.  The Conference will undoubtedly be analyzed in depth on Aljazeera News [www.aljazeera.com].

Prior to the Conference, US Secretary of State Clinton met with leaders of Saudi Arabia to discuss, among other things, the Saudis’ willingness to increase their production of oil, seen as necessary to stabilize oil/gasoline prices as President Obama announced a tightening of sanctions against Iranian-produced oil.  As noted below, the increased price of gasoline makes this an election-year risk for Obama.

Also below are links to interesting articles by the New York Times’ James Risen about the effects of the CIA etc. intelligence disasters re: Iraq’s WMDs on the intelligence agencies’ evaluations of Iran; by Gareth Porter on the unacknowledged vulnerability of Israel to weapons that Iran might use in retaliation to an Israeli attack; and the (disputed) news that Israel has gained access to military facilities in Azerbaijan that would be useful/necessary if it were to attack Iran.  The short video talk by Flynt Leverett (Race for Iran) about the uselessness of economic sanctions is also very good; though NB the myth that sanctions might force Iran to comply with US and UN orders re: its nuclear program is a major deterrent (along with direct US orders) to an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Best wishes,

Frank Brodhead

Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

 

ANTIWAR NEWS/VIEWS

(Video)Left Forum Panel on Peace and War

From David Swanson [March 22, 2012] – 90 minutes

---- Panelists include David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, and Glen Ford

http://warisacrime.org/content/video-left-forum-panel-peace-and-war

 

US POLICY & POLITICS

Hard Line on Iran Places White House in a Bind

By Mark Landler, et al., New YorkTimes [March 30, 2012]

---- As American and European diplomats prepare for crucial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the White House finds itself caught in a bind: for the diplomatic effort to work, American officials say, the Iranian government must believe that President Obama is ready and willing to take military action. Yet tough talk, necessary as it might be for successful diplomacy, contributes to a sense that war may be unavoidable. And it masks the fact that Mr. Obama, and his military commanders, remain deeply worried about the consequence of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, either by Israel alone or a strike that could draw in the United States. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/world/middleeast/hard-line-on-iran-places-white-house-in-a-bind.html?_r=1&ref=world

 

Obama Finds Oil in Markets Is Sufficient to Sideline Iran

By Annie Lowrey, New YorkTimes [March 30, 2012]

---- After careful analysis of oil prices and months of negotiations, President Obama on Friday determined that there was sufficient oil in world markets to allow countries to significantly reduce their Iranian imports, clearing the way for Washington to impose severe new sanctions intended to slash Iran’s oil revenue and press Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The sanctions pose a serious challenge for the United States. Already, concerns over a confrontation with Iran and the loss of its oil — Iran was the third-biggest exporter of crude in 2010 — have driven oil prices up about 20 percent this year… By certifying that there is enough supply available, the administration is also trying to gain some leverage over Iran before a resumption of negotiations, expected on April 14.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/business/global/obama-to-clear-way-to-expand-iranian-oil-sanctions.html?pagewanted=1&hpw

 

US seeks coordinated Gulf strategy on Iran, Syria

By Bradley Klapper, Associated Press [March 29, 2012]

---- The Obama administration is seeking to advance talks among Saudi Arabia and its neighbors on a missile defense system against Iran, while slowing any plans among ArabGulf states to intervene militarily in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met for almost two hours with Saudi King Abdullah on Friday, conferring on regional military strategy and how to increase oil sanctions against Iran while ensuring ample global petroleum supplies. Governments are under pressure to reduce purchases of Iranian crude, and the U.S. hopes Saudi supplies can ease the transition. http://news.yahoo.com/us-seeks-coordinated-gulf-strategy-iran-syria-235840866.html;_ylt=Al6veh8IJL1vTj9.5BvWXmtvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTNmZ2x0cW80BG1pdAMEcGtnAzdiYWFlOWJmLTRkMDItMzM5My04MjZkLTUwNjg1YjQxYzE0YwRwb3MDMQRzZWMDbG5fTWlkRWFzdF9nYWwEdmVyA2MyM2Y0MmQwLTdhYzQtMTFlMS1iZWRiLWViNDVhOWI5ODMyYw--;_ylv=3

 

IraqCasts a Pall Over U.S. Effort to Fathom Iran

By James Risen, New YorkTimes [March 31, 2012]

---- Analysts and others at the C.I.A. who are struggling to understand the nuclear ambitions of Iran are keenly aware that the agency’s credibility is again on the line, amid threats of new military interventions. The intelligence debacle on Iraq has deeply influenced the way they do their work, with new safeguards intended to force analysts to be more skeptical in evaluating evidence and more cautious in drawing conclusions. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/world/middleeast/assessing-iran-but-thinking-about-iraq.html?_r=1&hp

 

ISRAELI POLICY & POLITICS

Israel’s Plan to Attack Iran On Hold for 2012

By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [March 29, 2012]

---- After viewing the results of a Pentagon war simulation and securing more military funding from the U.S., Israel has decided to put off any plans for a unilateral strike on Iran until at least next year, according to reports. The so-called war game was classified but details have been reported about its revealing implications after a preventive Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. It forecasted that a “strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States” and would immediately get at least 200 Americans killed in Iran’s retaliation. Amir Oren, writing for Ha’aretz, reported that “the meaning of this U.S. scenario is that the blood of these 200 would be on Israel’s hands,” and therefore any Israeli attack in 2012 has been called off. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/03/29/israels-plan-to-attack-iran-on-hold-for-2012/

 

IsraelShields Public from Risks of War with Iran

By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [March 30, 2012]

---- The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that Israel can attack Iran with minimal civilian Israeli casualties as a result of retaliation, and that reassuring message appears to have headed off any widespread Israeli fear of war with Iran and other adversaries. But the message that Iran is too weak to threaten an effective counterattack is contradicted by one of Israel’s leading experts on Iranian missiles and the head of its missile defense program for nearly a decade, who says Iranian missiles are capable of doing significant damage to Israeli targets. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2012/03/29/israel-shields-public-from-risks-of-war-with-iran/

 

Israel's Secret Staging Ground

By Mark Perry, Foreign Policy [March 28, 2012]

---- Senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan." Senior U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Israel's military expansion into Azerbaijan complicates U.S. efforts to dampen Israeli-Iranian tensions, according to the sources. … Israel's deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems. At the same time, Baku's ties with Tehran have frayed.  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/28/israel_s_secret_staging_ground

 

Also: From Haaretz [Israel] [March 29, 2012] “Azerbaijan denies granting Israel access to air bases on Iran border,” http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/azerbaijan-denies-granting-israel-access-to-air-bases-on-iran-border-1.421562?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.216%2C2.217%2C; and Philip Giraldi, “Israel Encircles Iran,” American Conservative [March 27, 2012]http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/israel-encircles-iran/

 

INTERNATIONAL

Turkeyvoices support for Iran nuclear programme

From Agence France Presse [March 29, 2012]

---- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday voiced his country's unwavering support for Tehran's nuclear ambitions in a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to an official statement. ,,, Turkey relies on Iran for 30 percent of its oil imports, and has refused to go along with sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, saying it will observe only UN-mandated restrictions on Iran. However, Turkey is also a NATO member, and it has agreed to deploy parts of an anti-missile shield that could be used against Iran, a point that has generated friction in the past with its neighbour. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jn2SasjxH4BFhQmtmdcHUw_ijDFA?docId=CNG.5bba548bbefdc22a21bbb7b6c36d505a.a01

 

SANCTIONS

(Video)Flynt Leverett (Race for Iran) on Effects of Sanctions- 5 minutes

http://www.raceforiran.com/sanctions-the-islamic-republic-of-iran%E2%80%99s-legitimacy-and-america%E2%80%99s-middle-east-policy

 

WAR-RELATED

What if Israel bombs Iran?

By GarySick, CNN [March 30, 2012]

---- If sustained over more than a few weeks, the scramble to replace large volumes of Persian Gulf and Caspian oil would drive up the price of oil, and gasoline, to unprecedented heights. That would constitute a huge tax on the world's economies, just at the moment when they were showing signs of recovery from the Great Recession. Extremely vulnerable economies, such as the southern European states, could be tipped into bankruptcy, but all states would face significant challenges as a surge in transportation and manufacturing costs rippled through all aspects of their industries. This is Iran's true weapon of mass destruction. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/30/opinion/sick-israel-iran/index.html?hpt=hp_bn7

 

Iran’s Centrifuge ‘Workshops’ Complicate Raid Planning

By Viola Gienger and Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News [March 28, 2012]

---- Iran’s “workshops” for making nuclear centrifuges and components for the devices are widely dispersed and hidden, adding to the difficulties of a potential military strike by Israel, according to a new report by U.S. congressional researchers. Neither Israel nor the U.S. is certain of the locations of all such facilities, analysts at the Congressional Research Service wrote in the report obtained today. The analysts cited interviews with current and former U.S. government officials familiar with the issue who weren’t identified. Israel’s capability to halt or set back Iran’s nuclear program through a military strike has been central to the debate over whether Israel should undertake such a mission alone. http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/30854?type=bloomberg

 

SYRIAAND THE REGION

Top 5 Dangers that the Syria Conflict could Destabilize its Neighbors

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [March 2012] http://www.juancole.com/2012/03/top-5-dangers-that-the-syria-conflict-could-destabilize-its-neighbors.html

 

Military Intervention in Syria is a Bad Idea

By Stephen Zunes, Antiwar.com [March 30, 2012]

---- Although the impulse to try to end the ongoing repression by the Syrian regime against its own people through foreign military intervention is understandable, it would be a very bad idea.  Empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral.  Even putting aside the recent historical record, however, virtually anyone familiar with Syrian politics and history can recognize the fallacy of such foreign support for the armed struggle. Many nonviolent protesters have tragically been killed as will many more. However, proportionately a far greater number of armed resisters have been killed and will continue to be killed. The question is not whether thousands will continue to die but what is the best way for the Syrian people to overthrow the hated regime, end the violence, and bring democracy and social justice. http://original.antiwar.com/zunes/2012/03/30/military-intervention-in-syria-is-a-bad-idea/

 

Why Syria’s Peace Process is a Continuation of War By Other Means

By Tony Karon, Time [March 29, 2012]

---- Annan’s plan does not claim to be a program to reconcile the regime and its opponents or to resolve their differences. Instead, it’s a plan to demilitarize Syria’s power struggle and restrict it to political means. The regime’s goals, and those of its opponents, remain fundamentally irreconcilable: Assad is determined to remain in power, while the opposition finds a consensus that eludes it on so many other issues when it comes to demanding his immediate ouster. http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/03/29/why-syrias-peace-process-is-a-continuation-of-war-by-other-means/

 

Resources on Syria

Aljazeera – “Syria: The War Within” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/syria/

The Guardian [UK] on Syria - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/syria?INTCMP=SRCH

SyriaComment – Joshua Landis - http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/

War in Context – Paul Woodward – www.warincontext.org

War is a Crime – Steve Lendman & David Swanson - http://warisacrime.org/

Be Careful What You Assume Is Bluffing

Israeli Experts Mum on Iran Attack to Support Bibi's Bluff
By Gareth Porter*

TEL AVIV, Apr 2, 2012 (IPS) - A striking feature of the Israeli political landscape in recent months has been the absence of a serious debate on the issue of the threat of war with Iran led by national security figures.

Obama's War on Iran

  Obama's War on Iran

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Washington's war on Iran includes cyber attacks, other sabotage, targeted assassinations, deadly explosions, sophisticated satellite, drone, and other type spying, bogus accusations, a virtual blockade, hostile saber rattling, multiple rounds of sanctions, and attempts to cripple its central bank and oil industry.

 

Riding Teheran

This War's Gonna Be a Matzo Walk

Israel Shields Public from Risks of War with Iran 
By Gareth Porter, IPS

TEL AVIV, Mar 29, 2012 (IPS) - The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that Israel can attack Iran with minimal civilian Israeli casualties as a result of retaliation, and that reassuring message appears to have headed off any widespread Israeli fear of war with Iran and other adversaries.

Senator Rand Paul Blocks Bill That Would Have Moved U.S. Closer to War on Iran

From Reuters:

A U.S. Republican lawmaker on Tuesday blocked Democrats from passing legislation designed to further punish Iran for developing its nuclear program, and each side blamed the other for its failure in a presidential election year that will put extra scrutiny on President Barack Obama to be tough on Tehran.

The legislation, which had the backing of many Democratic and Republican Senators, focused on foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran's national oil and tanker companies, and included a host of measures aimed to close loopholes in existing sanctions.

A handful of Republicans wanted to include additional measures to the bill such as sanctions on companies that insure trade with Iran. But Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to take up the legislation without amendments.

"New changes to the bill at this time will only slow down its passage," Reid, a Democrat, said before he sought unanimous consent from Senators to approve the legislation - a procedure that allows no amendments.

Senator Rand Paul formally objected to taking up the legislation unless the Senate would also consider his amendment to it saying that nothing in the bill could be construed as an authorization of war against Iran or Syria. This effectively blocked the bill from advancing.

The timing of the next step was not immediately clear.

The latest set of penalties signed into law by President Barack Obama in December have made it increasingly difficult for Tehran to sell its oil. They are aimed at slowing Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran has said is purely for civilian purposes. The United States and some other Western countries say the program is for nuclear weapons.

The bill would have built on efforts by the United States and other Western nations to implement oil and banking sanctions.

"These sanctions are a key tool as we work to stop (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel and ultimately jeopardizing U.S. national security," Reid said earlier on Tuesday.

The Senate Banking Committee easily passed the sanctions bill on February 2 and the full House of Representatives passed its version in December.

ADDITIONAL PROPOSALS

Since then, several lawmakers have floated additional proposals to penalize underwriters that insure oil and gas trade with Iran; to block foreign companies dealing with Iranian energy companies from U.S. financial markets; and to ban foreign companies that buy Iranian oil from buying oil from U.S. emergency reserves.

Before Paul blocked the bill, Reid said Democratic senators had agreed to move forward without offering any amendments, which could speed a vote. "I'm willing to move this bill without amendments at any time," Reid said afterward.

Democrats were quick to blame Republicans for blocking the bill. "I hope that the select few Republicans who reportedly blocked this important bill will reconsider their opposition and allow it to move forward as soon as possible," said Tim Johnson, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Israelis and Iranians Against War

  Israelis and Iranians Against War

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israelis aren't all like Netanyahu and Knesset extremists like him. Most want peace, not war. On March 24, Haaretz headlined, "Hundreds of Israelis march in Tel Aviv to protest war with Iran," saying:

Mutually Assured Madness

British Ambassador Peter Jenkins on the alternatives to bombing Iran.

From In These Times

BY George Kenney

War is not a satisfactory answer. There is no guarantee that we would succeed in eliminating all the facilities that might be relevant to Iran producing a nuclear weapon.

In terms of nuclear nonproliferation, the West’s clash with Iran over its nuclear program appears to make sense. But once one peels back the layers of rhetoric surrounding the West’s demands, our real priority seems to be regime change. Those opposed to an unnecessary war with Iran are thus faced with two complicated challenges: First, to debunk

International Association of Democratic Lawyers Opposes Military Force Against Syria and Iran

by Marjorie Cohn | Smirking Chimp


The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization having consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is dedicated to uphold international law, particularly the peaceful resolution of disputes as set forth in the UN Charter and basic human rights instruments.

IADL notes with concern that while the UN Human Rights Council is on the verge of adopting a new, updated declaration on the Human Right to Peace, the major Western powers are poisoning the atmosphere by creating hysteria to wage war against Syria and Iran. The IADL condemns in the strongest possible terms these threats to international peace and security which are prohibited by the UN Charter and the doctrine of jus cogens.

A Message of Peace and Friendship from Iran

One of the speakers on Saturday at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference in Stamford, Ct., was Leila Zand, Program Director, Middle East & Civilian Diplomacy, Fellowship Of Reconciliation.  She said that rather than sharing her own views on the dangers of a war on Iran, she had asked friends in Iran what they would say.  She read the following message that they sent her:

To all the wonderful peacemakers in national peace conference

To all of our brothers and sisters in the beautiful world

We are sending you the message of peace and friendship from Iran, the land of love and poetry, friendship and roses.  Iran, a country that has not initiated any violence on another nation in the past 200 years, but unfortunately has been the subject of such violations many times in her recent history.

Protest Schumer and Gillibrand Today

OWS-ANTI-WAR and other anti-war groups will picket the New York City offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their support of a pre-emptive war on Iran.

Senator Schumer, a self-declared guardian of Israel, and his protegée Senator Gillibrand, have joined Senator Leiberman and other AIPAC supporters, backing S. Res. 380 to pressure our President for a first strike on Iran.

As Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, has noted:

"This resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran....it's effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war."

OUR SENATOR SCHUMER

PROUDLY VOTED FOR WAR WITH IRAQ

KILLING AND MAIMING TENS OF THOUSANDS

NO APOLOGY!

OUR SENATOR WALL STREET

TOOK CAMPAIGN MILLIONS FROM BANKERS

PROUDLY HELPED KILL GLASS-STEAGALL

BILLIONS FOR BANKS, MILLIONS PUT IN POVERTY

NO APOLOGY!

AND NOW, ONE MORE FOR AIPAC!

PUSHING US TO ATTACK IRAN

BRINGING ALONG YOUR PROTEGÉE SEN. GILLIBRAND

YOU HAVE NO SHAME!

Demonstration on Thursday, March 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at 780 Third Avenue, the New York City offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

Forum 3/22, 2012 7pm U.S. - Israel Assault on Iran: The Growing Danger of War

Forum: U.S.-Israeli Assault on Iran: The Growing Danger of War, the Urgency of Resistance, and the Need to Bring Forward Another Way

March 22, Thursday, 7pm Revolution Books 146 W. 26th Street New York City
Leila Zand is the Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation's Task Force on the Middle East. She is an Iranian-American who lived in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and the reform years of the late 1990s.

Perils of Attacking Iran

  Perils of Attacking Iran

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

In mid-April, Istanbul or Geneva will host nuclear talks with Iran. America, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany will attend. Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov calls them a "last chance" to avoid war.

 

Would You Stop a Friend from Destroying the Earth?

What would you do if someone had a button that could destroy the earth and they were walking across the room to push it?  Would you stand in the way?  Would you talk them out of it?  Would you sit by and watch, maybe make a sarcastic remark or two?  What if the button might destroy the earth or might just destroy part of it?  What if it might leave most of the earth intact but kill millions of people, but what if you had no way of being sure how far the destruction would spread? 

Here is an animation made by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the damage a strike on Iran would likely cause, including the death of three million people.

Here is a New York Times article on what would likely happen next, including a war at least regional in scope and involving the United States.

The information used in the animation above and reported by the New York Times as well comes from that peacenik hippie source of antiwar propaganda: the Pentagon, the same institution that says Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

Here's a lot more information on what attacking Iran would involve.

United for Peace and Justice has created a place where we can pledge not to sit by and watch: http://iranpledge.org

Here's the pledge:

"If the United States applies increased sanctions, invades, bombs, sends combat troops or drones, or otherwise significantly escalates its intervention in Iran or the region directly or through support of its allies, I pledge to join with others to engage in acts of legal protest and/or nonviolent civil disobedience to prevent or halt the death and destruction which U.S. military actions would cause to the people of Iran, the Middle East, our communities at home, and the planet itself."

When you take the pledge you can choose to commit to legal protest (is protesting still legal? who knew?) or nonviolent civil resistance (or "disobedience").  I encourage you to do both: http://iranpledge.org

Samantha Miller of Military Families Speak Out, who helped organize the pledge, told me, "Ten years of war have taken a serious toll on service members and their families.  Frequent deployments and lack of access to mental health care have left military communities in a precarious situation, with 18 veterans committing suicide every day.  We need to end the war in Afghanistan and take care of our veterans, not start new wars."

Medea Benjamin, cofounder Code Pink and Global Exchange, said "Right now, our government is hearing from the 1 percent who are gunning for a war with Iran. We, the 99%, must raise our voices and let our government know just how profoundly committed we are to stopping another catastrophic war. That's why I'm taking the pledge."

Imagine if 99 percent of us, or even 10 percent of us, took this pledge and followed through.  We would prevent this war and every other war to come.  War would be a thing of the past.

If we do not act, our species could end up becoming the thing of the past. 

Let's choose survival and peace.

Netanyahu's pretext for war - Islamic Jihad missiles

By Michael Collins

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has his pretext for an attack on Iran. He left Washington disappointed by President Obama's reluctance to saddle up for Armageddon. Now he's got the formula.

Haaretz (daily news), one of Israel's few liberal media voices, linked Gaza based missile attacks on Israel to the presence of Iranian military experts. This fits nicely into the Netanyahu strategy. Here's how Haaretz reported events:

"Iran pressured Islamic Jihad and popular resistance groups in Gaza to continue firing rockets into Israel despite cease-fire, says high-ranking Jerusalem official.

"Iranian military experts are active in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai, according to a high-ranking official in Jerusalem. The official said the Iranians entered the areas via Sudan and Egypt, and added that some of the rocket-launching systems in Gaza were manufactured under Iranian supervision." Haaretz.com, March 19

The paper went on to say how shocked members of the Israeli left were with the overall theme of the article announcing a unified Israel in support of an attack on Iran.

Of course, any attack is so crazy on so many levels, it is exhausting to comprehend. Aside from the potential collapse of the world economy and the pervasive suffering, let's focus on a sure fired reason that the United States won't green light such a move.

Israeli-Iranian solidarity exchange sweeps Facebook

From 972mag

On Saturday night, an Israeli couple – two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir –  decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice:

Heading for War on Iran

  Heading for War with Iran

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel wants it. So does Obama, but not until after November elections. Policy now focuses on winning. Waging more wars can wait, except for Syria, despite strong public support for Assad's reform agenda promising real change.

 

UFPJ Statement on “No War on Iran”

UFPJ

As we approach the 9th anniversary of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, we are once again seeing American politicians claiming that an oil-rich nation in the Persian Gulf might soon build nuclear weapons. Top U.S. and many Israeli intelligence and military leaders, and all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not building a nuclear weapon and has not even made the political decision of whether to move in the direction of a nuclear weapon. And yet politicians are ratcheting up calls for military threats and even military strikes, this time against Iran – and the result could lead to war.

Join Us in DC on the 19th

A number of organizations have gathered to mark the tenth year of the Iraq invasion on March 19 at 6:30 pm at the 14th and V St Busboys & Poets.
You can find out details for the event here:
http://washingtonpeacecenter.net/node/6912.  
RSVP via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/194107337360924/

The evening event will include time for participants to reflect on what the many years of anti-Iraq war organizing has meant to us, our communities and the movements.
 
As part of this reflection we are inviting many individuals to prepare and present a 3 to 5 minute personal story about organizing against the war, lessons learned and transformation.  Would you be interested in telling a story? 

Below are questions and guidelines to help you prepare. Please let us know if you wish to tell your story no later than Wed, 3/14.

Many thanks in advance for generously considering our request.
 
Possible story ideas:
  • tell a story from anti-iraq war organizing about a moment that made you realize why you were doing this work
  • tell a story from anti-iraq war organizing about something that made you realize a lesson about how to organize/movement build/create the world we want. 
  • how have you felt the impact of the war and the organizing in your own life
  • how has organizing against the war changed you and your life.
  • where were you during “shock and awe” – March 19, 2003?
  • what was the moment you came out against the war and why?  
  • how did the Feb 15, 2003 protests happen?
While thinking through your stories (of which we all have so many!), ask yourself “So what?”  Why do people care about this story? What can we learn and take with us? 
 
If you're interested in sharing a story, please fill out this form here: http://washingtonpeacecenter.net/iraqstories

As mentioned, below are more guidelines for thinking through your story:
 

 “A community that loses its stories loses its memory” ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Our history is kept alive when we bear witness to our significant life experiences—recalling and honoring our stories in the presence of the community.

________________________________________________________________________

Storytelling Guidelines (By Candace Wolf, Storyteller)

CHOOSING A STORY – follow these two principles:

The ‘one suitcase’ principal—

Imagine that you were suddenly ordered into political exile and allowed to take only one small suitcase. You would have to think deeply about what was most important to pack. Now, imagine that you were allowed to share ONE—and only ONE STORYfrom your anti-war/peace work. Be sure to tell a story that has great personal meaning, so that you can tell it with passion and conviction. Ask yourself: ‘Why is this story important to tell?’ Choose a story that you feel will INSPIRE in some way. ‘Inspire’ means to breathe again. Stories have the power to encourage us to take one more breath—to swim up to the surface, above our despair, above disappointments and failures—to go forward with our life and work with greater courage and determination.

The ‘personal’principle

Tell a story about something that you experienced firsthand—not just heard or read about. The story might be about a personally transformative encounter or event that is unforgettable—that still grips your soul and memory. Remember that folks listen with keen interest to compelling stories about authentic and dramatic lived experiences.

SHAPING YOUR STORY– follow these two principles:

The ‘sense of immediacy’ principle—

In order to tell your story effectively, you must reach back and reconnect with the sensations, images and emotions of the memory, so that you can take the listener on a journey through the landscape of your experience. Relive the experience in your memory and then paint a picture using vivid descriptions in order to bring the story to life for the listener.

The ‘lessons learned’ principle—

Reflect on the larger significance of your personal experience. Figure out what you want people to understand; a story ismore satisfying if the listener takes away fresh insights.

Speak from your heart....and please keep your story fairly brief: 3-5 minutes

www.washingtonpeacecenter.org

Alleged Photos of "Clean-up" at Iran's Parchin Site Lack Credibility

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Mar 12, 2012 (IPS) - News stories about satellite photographs suggesting efforts by Iran to "sanitise" a military site that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said may have been used to test nuclear weapons have added yet another layer to widely held suspicion that Iran must indeed be hiding a covert nuclear weapons programme.

10 Myths About Iran -- And Why They're Dead Wrong


1. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.

According to the Iranian government, the International Atomic Energy Agency and American intelligence assessments, the common assumption that Iran already has a nuclear bomb is wrong. Even Israeli intelligence agrees.

Yet 71 percent of Americans said “Yes” to the question, “Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?” in the last poll to ask that question. The question was asked a little over two years ago and public opinion could have become more accurately informed. Then again, when widely read newspapers like the Wall Street Journal publish weekly pieces suggesting that “evil” Iran is “building a nuclear bomb” (while justifying terrorism against Iranian citizens), and when Republican presidential contenders like Mitt Romney write that Iranian “Islamic fanatics” are “racing to build a nuclear bomb,” the truth can understandably become muddied for the average person.

READ THE REST.

Evidence of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time

When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying.  After all, he was a Republican.  But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo

Now President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going.  We might suspect a lack of sincerity, given the insistence that Iran put an end to a program that the U.S. government simultaneously says there is no evidence exists, given the increase in free weapons for Israel to $3.1 billion next year, given the ongoing protection of Israel at the U.N. from any accountability for crimes, given the embrace of sanctions highly unlikely to lead to anything other than greater prospects of war, and given Obama's refusal to take openly illegal war "off the table."  We might suspect that peace was not the ultimate goal, except of course that Obama is a Democrat.

However, we now have Wikileaks cables and comments from anonymous officials that served as the basis for a report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.  The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible. During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.  Following Obama's entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.  Diplomatic cables exposed by the WikiLeaks website exposed discussion concerning advanced weapons shipments. In one cable which surveyed defense discussions between Israel and the United states that took place on November 2009 it was written that 'both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.'"

Why supply Israel with the weapons to attack Iran more forcefully if you don't want Israel to attack Iran?  The Israeli newspaper Maariv claims to have the answer.  Apparently people in the know are spilling the beans earlier this war cycle:

"The United States offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for it committing not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities this year, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday.  Citing unnamed Western diplomats and intelligence sources, the report said that during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, the US administration offered to supply Israel with advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refuelling planes.  In return, Israel would agree to put off a possible attack on Iran till 2013, after the US elections in November."

One point can be little doubted here, namely that this would be the biggest damn story in U.S. "progressive" circles if Obama were a Republican.  But even though he isn't, there could conceivably be SOME interest in the fact that a serious news outlet is reporting that Obama has taken steps to facilitate an attack on Iran and to delay it until after his own hoped-for reelection.

Even Reuters has noted this development:

"A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012."

Now, the usual handful of progressive Congress members has just introduced a bill that would compel the U.S. government to talk to the government of Iran.  Seems sensible enough (even if it frames it as an effort to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon).  We do ask that much of our children when they become involved in disagreements.

But Congressman John Conyers, one of the cosponsors of that bill, had another trick up his sleeve when Bush was in the White House.  Nobody believed him, of course, but for what it was worth, after refusing to impeach Bush for countless offenses, Conyers swore that if Bush attacked Iran, then he Conyers would launch impeachment proceedings.  Now, Conyers is back in the minority party in the House, but even minority members can raise the threat of impeachment efforts.  And at the moment they could join a member of the majority in doing so.  That's because Congressman Walter Jones has introduced H. Con Res 107, which reads:

"Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress's exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."

Now, this does not clearly cover an attack with U.S. weapons and advice carried out by another nation, but it does cover the question of U.S. entry into a war started by Israel, even if U.S. troops and bases abroad have been attacked in retaliation.  And it covers possible U.S. war making in Syria.  And it covers over 100 nations where U.S. Special Forces are now operating.  And it covers our current and prospective drone attacks in various parts of the world.

Of course, such an impeachment effort is also treasonous, given Obama's membership in the Democratic Party -- unlike the completely non-treasonous acts of openly "legalizing murder," or lying to the nation about efforts to avoid a war.

An Iranian Parable

Letter to the Editor

A Neighborly Dispute

Here is my problem. I'm well known in my neighborhood. Ask anybody. They know me as "the guy who keeps a tank hidden in his garage." (Maybe I do. Maybe I don't.)

Anyway, I've got a problem with this guy up the street. I don't think he likes me much and, frankly, the feeling's mutual.

He's got this workshop in his garage where he builds bicycles.

My problem is: I suspect he's secretly building a tank. That makes me feel threatened.

He tells the neighbors all he wants to do is build bicycles. He even says building tanks is against his religion!

The neighborhood cops (and even some close members of my own family) say there's absolutely no evidence this guy is building a tank. They tell me to chill; get a grip.

But, the way I see it, as long as he has that bicycle workshop, there's always the possibility that he could someday build a tank.

So here's my question: Don't I have a sovereign right, as a homeowner, to walk over and burn down that guy's house?

Really, it's the only way I'll ever feel safe.

Gar Smith

Berkeley, California

Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act (Introduced in House - IH)

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4173

To direct the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 8, 2012

Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Mr. JONES, Mr. CONYERS, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. WATERS, Mr. STARK, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. FILNER, and Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


A BILL

To direct the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10, 2009, President Obama said, `I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach--and condemnation without discussion--can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.'

(2) In his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 4, 2012, President Obama said, `I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power. A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.'

(3) While the Obama Administration has rejected failed policies of the past by engaging in negotiations with Iran without preconditions, only four of such meetings have occurred.

(4) Official representatives of the United States and official representatives of Iran have held only two direct, bilateral meetings in over 30 years, both of which occurred in October 2009, one on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council negotiations in Geneva, and one on the sidelines of negotiations brokered by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (referred to in this Act as the `IAEA') in Vienna.

(5) All of the outstanding issues between the United States and Iran cannot be resolved instantaneously. Resolving such issues will require a robust, sustained effort.

(6) Under the Department of State's current `no contact' policy, officers and employees of the Department of State are not permitted to make any direct contact with official representatives of the Government of Iran without express prior authorization from the Secretary of State.

(7) On September 20, 2011, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, called for establishing direct communications with Iran, stating, `I'm talking about any channel that's open. We've not had a direct link of communication with Iran since 1979. And I think that has planted many seeds for miscalculation. When you miscalculate, you can escalate and misunderstand.'

(8) On November 8, 2011, the IAEA issued a report about Iran's nuclear program and expressed concerns about Iran's past and ongoing nuclear activities.

(9) On December 2, 2011, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that an attack on Iran would result in `an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think it could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.'

SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

It should be the policy of the United States--

(1) to prevent Iran from pursuing or acquiring a nuclear weapon and to resolve the concerns of the United States and of the international community about Iran's nuclear program and Iran's human rights obligations under international and Iranian law;

(2) to ensure inspection of cargo to or from Iran, as well as the seizure and disposal of prohibited items, as authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 (June 9, 2010);

(3) to pursue sustained, direct, bilateral negotiations with the Government of Iran without preconditions in order to reduce tensions, prevent war, prevent nuclear proliferation, support human rights, and seek resolutions to issues that concern the United States and the international community;

(4) to utilize all diplomatic tools, including direct talks, targeted sanctions, Track II diplomacy, creating a special envoy described in section 4, and enlisting the support of all interested parties, for the purpose of establishing an agreement with Iran to put in place a program that includes international safeguards, guarantees, and robust transparency measures that provide for full IAEA oversight of Iran's nuclear program, including rigorous, ongoing inspections, in order to verify that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes and that Iran is not engaged in nuclear weapons work;

(5) to pursue opportunities to build mutual trust and to foster sustained negotiations in good faith with Iran, including pursuing a fuel swap deal to remove quantities of low enriched uranium from Iran and to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor, similar to the structure of the deal that the IAEA, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany first proposed in October 2009;

(6) to explore areas of mutual benefit to both Iran and the United States, such as regional security, the long-term stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan, the establishment of a framework for peaceful nuclear energy production, other peaceful energy modernization programs, and counter-narcotics efforts; and

(7) that no funds appropriated or otherwise made available to any executive agency of the Government of the United States may be used to carry out any military operation or activity against Iran unless the President determines that a military operation or activity is warranted and seeks express prior authorization by Congress, as required under article I, section 8, clause 2 of the United States Constitution, which grants Congress the sole authority to declare war, except that this requirement shall not apply to a military operation or activity--

(A) to directly repel an offensive military action launched from within the territory of Iran against the United States or any ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement;

(B) in hot pursuit of forces that engage in an offensive military action outside the territory of Iran against United States forces or an ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement and then enter into the territory of Iran; or

(C) to directly thwart an imminent offensive military action to be launched from within the territory of Iran against United States forces or an ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement.

SEC. 4. APPOINTMENT OF HIGH-LEVEL U.S. REPRESENTATIVE OR SPECIAL ENVOY.

(a) Appointment- At the earliest possible date, the President, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran.

(b) Criteria for Appointment- The President shall appoint an individual under subsection (a) on the basis of the individual's knowledge and understanding of the issues regarding Iran's nuclear program, experience in conducting international negotiations, and ability to conduct negotiations under subsection (c) with the respect and trust of the parties involved in the negotiations.

(c) Duties- The high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran shall--

(1) seek to facilitate direct, unconditional, bilateral negotiations with Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran;

(2) lead the diplomatic efforts of the Government of the United States with regard to Iran;

(3) consult with other countries and international organizations, including countries in the region, where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set forth in paragraph (1);

(4) act as liaison with United States and international intelligence agencies where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set for in paragraph (1); and

(5) ensure that the bilateral negotiations under paragraph (1) complement the ongoing international negotiations with Iran.

SEC. 5. DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

(a) Elimination of `No Contact' Policy- Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall rescind the `no contact' policy that prevents officers and employees of the Department of State from making any direct contact with official representatives of the Government of Iran without express prior authorization from the Secretary of State.

(b) Office of High-Level U.S. Representative or Special Envoy- Not later than 30 days after the appointment of a high-level United States representative or special envoy under section 4(a), the Secretary of State shall establish an office in the Department of State for the purpose of supporting the work of the representative or special envoy.

SEC. 6. REPORTING TO CONGRESS.

(a) Reports- Not later than 60 days after the high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran is appointed under section 4, and every 180 days thereafter, the United States representative or special envoy shall report to the committees set forth in subsection (b) on the steps that have been taken to facilitate direct, bilateral diplomacy with the government of Iran under section 4(c). Each such report may, when necessary or appropriate, be submitted in classified and unclassified form.

(b) Committees- The committees referred to in subsection (a) are--

(1) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives; and

(2) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.

SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Obama Offered Israel Weapons to Postpone Attack on Iran

The administration may have bribed Israel to hold off on Iran war until after the 2012 presidential elections

by John Glaser, Antiwar.com

The Obama administration offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for putting off a possible attack on Iran until after the 2012 presidential elections.

The Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday citing anonymous diplomats and intelligence sources that the Obama administration meeting with Israeli leaders earlier this week offered them advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes if he promised to postpone a preventive war on Iran until at least 2013.

The Obama administration had for months been pressing Israel to calm its calls for war on Iran, primarily because the consensus in the U.S. military and intelligence community is that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so. An attack is therefore wholly unnecessary, but fears ran high that Israel might attack anyway.

The White House has denied the validity of the reports. “In meetings the president had there was no such agreement proposed or reached,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. ”We have obviously high-level cooperation between the Israeli military and the U.S. military, and at other levels and with other agencies within their government and our government”, Carney said, adding: “That was not a subject of discussion in the president’s meetings.”

But Ha’aretz also quoted an Obama official saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had specifically asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the GBU-28 bunker busting bombs as well as for the advanced refueling aircraft.

Netanyahu told Israeli news media on Thursday that a strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a “matter of days, weeks, but not a matter of years,” adding: “If I don’t make the right call [on Iran] maybe there won’t be anyone to explain to.” This of course completely ignores U.S. intelligence which says Iran is very far off from even deciding to begin development of nuclear weapons.

Whether or not the Obama administration’s deal-cutting was sincere in its attempts to deter reckless Israeli aggression against Iran, it seems clear that giving Israel better capability to unilaterally attack increases the likelihood of it happening.

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