TALK ABOUT CHUTZPAH! ~~ LOOK WHO’S BEEN SELLING ARMS TO IRAN

First, the definition …

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And the Award goes to …

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But first, the whitewash …

The United States was aware of the shipments “in real time,” Israel’s Channel 2 news reported, and was thus able to thwart them. The TV report added that “it has to be assumed that Israel knew too, and was updated by the United States.” Finally, the Channel 2 report suggested that this may have been some kind of sting operation against the Iranians, since “it could be that whoever did this was not acting against Israel’s interest.”
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Israeli Arm Dealers Planned to Breach Iran Embargo

  • By Umberto Bacchi

iran fighter jet

Reuters
US and Greek authorities reportedly foiled an attempt by Israeli-based arm dealers to smuggle spare parts for fighter jets to Iran

US and Greek authorities foiled an attempt by Israeli-based arm dealers to smuggle spare parts for a fighter jet to Iran via Greece in violation of an international embargo, a newspaper has revealed.

Two separate shipments containing replacement parts and ammunition for F-4 Phantom aircraft were seized by Greek officials in December 2012 and April 2013, Kathimerini newspaper reported.

The daily said it had access to a probe carried out by the Homeland Security in the US in cooperation with the drugs and weapons unit of Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad.

According to the probe, both cargos originated from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada, about 60km north of Tel Aviv.

They were shipped to Greece by courier, but investigators believe the final destination was Iran, as Tehran has a large fleet of F-4 Phantoms.

Containers loaded with spare parts for the jet fighter were received by a phoney company registered under the name Tassos Karras SA in Votanikos, near central Athens.

A contact number for the company belonged to a British national residing in Thessaloniki who could not be immediately traced, Kathimerini reported.

An Athens court ordered the seized cargo be handed to US authorities in November.

Sanctions against Iran were imposed by the US after the Islamic revolution in 1979. The embargo was later adopted by other nations and expanded in 1995. The UK has had a national arms embargo in place on Iran since March 1993.

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Source

Related Reports …. Here and Here

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It all boils down to …

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And the bunk is …

DERSHOWITZ ADVISES ISRAEL TO IGNORE INTERNATIONAL LAW

Once again zionists show their contempt for humanity …

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Esteemed advocate Alan Dershowitz says that Israel should ignore international law when deciding how to deal with Iran.
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Dershowitz: Ignore International Law

Advocate urges Israel to act as it sees fit on Iran. International law is ‘a construct in the mind of a bunch of left wing academics.’
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Esteemed advocate Alan Dershowitz says that Israel should ignore international law when deciding how to deal with Iran.

International law is “a construct in the mind of a bunch of left wing academics,” he said, in a lecture at the Institute of National Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv last week “There is no basis for international law in any reality. It’s not based on legislation. Much of it is not based on treaty. It is the ultimate exercise in elitist nondemocracy.”

Iran does not believe that its nuclear weapons program is in danger of being attacked, he estimated. It wrongly believes, he said, that Israel will not attack it unless the US gives it a green light.

The interim deal made with Iran in Geneva was “a mistake,” Dershowitz said. Iran “got what it wanted…China is already there in Tehran seeking business. Other countries are there seeking business. They see the end of the sanctions regime. The words may not be be that but the music is certainly in that direction.”

Iran has given up nothing in the deal, he explained. They are still developing rockets that can carry nuclear weapons. There has been no slowing down in the work of enrichment centrifuges, no ceasing of the Arak heavy water plant’s activity, and the Iranians see the deal as a victory.

The big difference between the US and Israel in this matter stems from the fact that the US is thousands of miles away from the Middle East, whereas for Israel, the Iranian threat is a much more serious one, said Dershowitz.

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From my zio-crap file

 

REVELATION OF THE DAY PROVES THAT BIBI IS FULL OF BOVINE POO

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Bibi’s acting of late will definitely not be material for an Academy Award this year. He tried his best to look surprised, but apparently this failed when the Associated Press exposed what really happened. Is it possible that the ‘victim card’ was pulled out of the deck too soon this time? It certainly appears that way ….
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Obama advised Netanyahu of Iran talks in September
New AP report reveals long road to Geneva agreement, including number of high-level clandestine meetings by US, Iranian officials. Report claims Netanyahu knew talks, negotiations were being held before Obama-Rohani phone call*

Netanyahu’s immediate public reaction betrayed no surprise, but a day later he launched a full-frontal attack on Iran, delivering a blistering speech at the UN General Assembly in which he said the Islamic republic was bent on Israel’s destruction and accused Rohani of being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

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The full AP report can be read HERE, a report which coincidentally was ignored by most of the zio press. So much for ‘Democracy’ in the ‘only one in the Middle East’ ;)

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The good news is that Bibi isn’t getting the support he hoped for with his latest antics. This can be seen HERE and HERE.

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Hopefully the so-call Iran Deal will usher in the end of the deal we know as Bibi.

BIBITOON ~~ BLOWING HIS TOP

But ready to blow up the world …..

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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TODAY’S TOON ~~ BIBI’S CARD GAME

‘Play the game of ‘WAR’, not PEACE!
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A CRISIS is brewing in America’s relations with Israel. The American public—though strongly pro-Israel—seems either not to have noticed or not to care much.
From The Economist

PEACETOON ~~ ISRAEL WANTS WAR WITH IRAN PERIOD!!

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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P5+1 ~~ The latest threat to zion

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Related

TWITTER AS A VEHICLE FOR ISRAELI ISLAMOPHOBIA

As Tweety would say …. ‘I tawt I taw an Islamophobe.’
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This morning, the official account of the Israeli embassy in Washington tweeted this astonishingly racist image. It appears designed to tap in to common tropes of Muslims as angry, irrational anti-American mobs.
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Israeli embassy in Washington tweets Islamophobic image

Ali Abunimah 
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*This morning, the official account of the Israeli embassy in Washington tweeted this astonishingly racist image. It appears designed to tap in to common tropes of Muslims as angry, irrational anti-American mobs.

This is precisely the kind of image whose dominance and role in American media Edward Said traced in his classic 1981 book Covering Islam.

The context is the US-Iranian rapprochement and diplomacy that has enraged Israel and its regional allies including Saudi Arabia. Having failed to win the argument that the US should go to war against Iran over its nuclear energy program, the Israelis are turning to even cruder, more emotive propaganda than usual.

It’s ironic that Israel would hope to convince anyone that an image like this – however one interprets it – can represent the whole of Iran, when Israel always insists any negative images of Israel are exceptional and non-representative.

Written FOR

TIMELY TOON ~~ OBAMA’S ‘SHOE-IN’ AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Related

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IN RECORD TIME THE ZIONISTS FIND A WAY TO DEMONISE IRAN’S NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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It took less than a week to ‘uncover’ this, but the zionists claim to have found the first incident to discredit Iran’s newly elected President. The Jewish Press in Israel has the ‘story’ on their headlines Here and Here…. They came up with this tale in record time. The source cited is a ‘US Paper’ which claims that  Iran’s president-elect was on special government committee that plotted 1994 bombing of Jewish community center that killed 85 people.
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Just who is the source? In their own words from ‘About Us’ The Washington Free Beacon, a project of the 501(c)4 Center for American Freedom, is a nonprofit online newspaper that began publication on February 7, 2012. Dedicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day, the Free Beacon produces in-depth and investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media criticism. Whether it’s exposing cronyism, dissecting the relationship between the progressive movement and the mainstream media, finding out just who is shaping our domestic and foreign policy and why, or highlighting the threats to American security and peace in a dangerous world, the Free Beacon  is committed to serving the public interest by reporting news and information that currently is not being fully covered by other news organizations.
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C’mon guys …. surely you can use a reliable source for your misinformation. As a proud segment of ‘the professional left’, DesertPeace takes pride that our reports are not fabricated and definitely do not serve the interests of zionism.
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The ‘report’ can be found HERE ….
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New Iranian President Tied to 1994 Bombing

85 were killed in bombing of Argentinian Jewish Center
Be sure to see THIS related post.

IRAN’S NEW PRESIDENT ~~ ISRAEL’S NEW DEVIL

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Indeed, the Israeli response was swift and expected. After years of insisting the Iranian President could single-handedly authorize a second Holocaust, Israel’s demagogue Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly to keep the hysteria high. “Let us not delude ourselves,” he said in a press conference on Sunday. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.” Netanyahu also noted that the Iranian president wields no real power in Iran, a concept unmentioned throughout the Ahmadinejad era. “It’s the same Iran,” an Israeli government statement read.
 
Looking For ‘A New Devil’:
Israeli Leaders & Supporters Scramble After Iran Election

Nima Shirazi

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Hassan Rouhani’s unexpected victory in this weekend’s Iranian election has sent Israeli hasbara into a tailspin. The desire for an Iranian bogeyman is so intense in the warmongering mainstream of Israeli and neoconservative discourse that any attempt to mask their pre-election desires and post-election frustration has been futile. Their entire game plan has been on display — every Iranian leader is a New Hitler and every New Hitler must be stopped. The whole point is to stave off any possible reconciliation or even minor deflation of tensions between Iran and the West, namely the United States, so as to maintain permanent Israeli hegemony over the region and American largesse and diplomatic cover. A thaw after thirty-four years in the US-Iran standoff is scarier to Israeli leaders than all the unborn Palestinian babies under occupation. At least they’re already under Israeli control; the Islamic Republic of Iran never has been.

Daniel Pipes, that loathsome Likudnik, is at least clear about his hopes for the Iranian future. It lies not in the aspirations of the Iranian people, but in the smoldering ruins of a joint US-Israeli airstrike. Without a cartoonish scapegoat like the one the Western media made out of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through their mistranslations and misinformation, Iran might not look so bombable. So Pipes – and the rest of his despicable ilk – wished mightily for the conservative Saeed Jalili to win Friday’s vote, or rather, using the well-established narrative, that Jalili would be selected as the winner by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

more moderate Iranian president, the neocons know, might signal a change in diplomatic dynamics and open the door to a less combative and punitive negotiating stance from the West. Rouhani, especially, with his history as a nuclear negotiator and Master’s and doctorate degrees from a Scottish university, is an existential threat to well-worn Israeli propaganda of Iranian recalcitrance and obstinacy.

It was on Rouhani’s watch that Iran voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment in 2003 and accepted intrusive inspections above and beyond what was legally required by its safeguards agreement for two years, during which the IAEA affirmed the peaceful nature of the program. It was only after Iran’s European negotiating partners, at the behest of the Americans, reneged on their promise to offer substantive commitments and respect Iran’s inalienable right to a domestic nuclear infrastructure that Iran resumed enrichment.

The turnout for the vote – a whopping 72%, forecast accurately by pre-election polling – signals another chink in the armor of conventional hasbara. Iranians, by and large, have faith that their voices matter and that change – or consistency – and progress can be achieved through the ballot box and by collective engagement within their nation’s political environment. No, this doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone who voted on Friday is a supporter of the Islamic Republic as it is constituted today. But it shows that the Iranian public is in no way looking to the skies for a savior in the form of an F-16 and is confident that change will only come from within Iran – by Iranians, for Iranians – not forced or foisted upon them by crippling sanctions or foreign troops.

Two days before the election, in an unprecedented and masterfully strategic move – Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.”

He added, “A maximum turnout at the ballot box is more important than anything else for the country. And the nation with a powerful action on Friday will prove its firm relationship and connection with the Islamic system and will once again make the enemy unfulfilled and hopeless,” concluding that, “No one knows the divine fate of the nation on Friday; however, the more votes the elected individual . . . receives, the more strength he has to stand against the nation’s enemy and defend the country’s interests.”

The Iranian electorate didn’t heed Khamenei’s words. Rather, Khamenei merely gave voice to how most Iranians already felt. The Iranian political system, founded far more on resistance to foreign domination than on religious fundamentalism, is of great pride to most Iranians, regardless of their particular feelings about the legitimacy or potential longevity of a theocratic republic.

The massive turnout undermined Western prognostications of both Iranian disillusionment and disinterest; the election itself, the first one administered by a new, independent election committee, was proof that Iranians and Iran itself will continue to shirk the easy categorization and absurd stereotypes ubiquitous in our own media and politics. After all, the centrist Rouhani, a long-time member of the highest echelons of the Iranian establishment whose candidacy was backed by two former presidents, was the only cleric in the race.

The same day Iranians took to the polls, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was in Washington D.C., delivering a speech at the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Ha’aretz journalist Barak Ravid reported,

The head of the Israeli defense establishment declared – without any reservations – that nothing will change as a result of the Iranian election and that, in any event, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will decide on the country’s next president. 

It did not take long for the depth of Ya’alon’s embarrassment of himself, and of those on whose behalf he flew to Washington, became clear. At best, Ya’alon’s remarks reflected a serious error in judgment on the part of Israeli intelligence and provided additional proof of the limitations of Military Intelligence and the Mossad in predicting internal political shifts in Iran and in Arab states. At worst, his words reflected arrogance, prejudice and shooting from the hip of the very worst kind. 

But how can we complain about Ya’alon, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in Poland on Wednesdsay that Iran’s “so-called” election will not bring about any meaningful change. Netanyahu’s and Ya’alon’s Pavlovian responses, as well as the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Saturday night, reflect the overall approach of the Likud government which rejects all change, exaggerates the threats, plays down the opportunities and sanctifies the status quo. 

The only thing missing was for Netanyahu and Ya’alon to call for extending the term of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as in the case of Egypt and former President Hosni Mubarak.

Indeed, the Israeli response was swift and expected. After years of insisting the Iranian President could single-handedly authorize a second Holocaust, Israel’s demagogue Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly to keep the hysteria high. “Let us not delude ourselves,” he said in a press conference on Sunday. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.” Netanyahu also noted that the Iranian president wields no real power in Iran, a concept unmentioned throughout the Ahmadinejad era. “It’s the same Iran,” an Israeli government statement read.

Meanwhile, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio on Sunday that, even though “the results are a credit to the Iranian people,” there would be no “change” in the Iranian nuclear program. As such, he said, sanctions against Iran “must continue, regardless of the desire of the Iranian people for progress,” since, after all, Iran is the new Nazi Germany and “only a year or less away from the nuclear red line.” Of course, according to Israeli estimates, Iran has been only a year away from this mysterious “red line” for a decade now and Steinitz has recently deemed the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran to be “equal to 30 nuclear North Koreas,” insisting that “if Iran gets the first few bombs, in a decade or so they will have 100 nuclear bombs.”

Back in September 2005, just a month into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term and before the new Iranian president uttered a mistranslated word about Israel and maps, Steinitz was making identical comments.

“Despite all the different circumstances, we see similarities to what happened in the 1930s, when people underestimated the real problem or focused on other dangers. For us, either the world will tackle Iran in advance or all of us will face the consequences,” Steinitz, then-chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said during a trip to Washington. “Threats of sanctions and isolation alone will not do it.”

Indeed, for Israel, it’s always “the same Iran.”

Israeli politicians and pundits alike have been frustrated by Rouhani’s victory. Deputy Defense Minister Gilad Erdan “feared Rowhani’s win, and his reputation as a centrist and reformer, might lead the West to give Iran more leeway in diplomatic contacts over its rogue nuclear drive,” while Yedioth Ahronoth‘s diplomatic affairs reporter Itamar Eichner noted that Israel now worries it will have difficulty convincing the United States to support a military attack.

Not all Israelis, however, reacted the same way. Shimon Peres, for instance, welcomed the “good news.”

Knesset minister Zahava Gal-on of Meretz issued a statement reading, “I extend my sympathy to the Israeli government that, with heavy heart and head hung low, must bid farewell to Ahmadinejad, who served as propaganda card and as an excellent source of excuses to avoid dealing with Israel’s real problems.”

“Where will the prime minister turn to now, when someone asks him about the Palestinian conflict?,” she wondered. “What about the out-of-control budget deficit for which he was responsible?… What about the racism that exists within Israeli society?… What will he do?”

Gal-on’s statement added, “I fear that the election of the moderate Rowhani is not just a blow to the extremists in Tehran, but also to the extremist leadership in Israel, which will now have to replace intimidation with actions.”

Similarly, following the official election results, Yedioth commentator Yigal Sarna penned a piece entitled, “A New Devil,” in which he satirically lamented, “Oh Hassan Rouhani, you moderate, who invited you? What did you have to come for? What are we going to do without the scarecrow, the fanatic Ahmadinejad?” He continued,

What will we do without our Persian Hitler? What will Bibi draw at the UN? At whom will (Defense Minister Yaalon) storm and to whom will he send our smart bombs and how will Bibi distract people from the plundering here? How will we continue to talk about being the ‘villa in the jungle’ when the villa is filled with jungle and the jungle is filled with protest? What are we going to wave away when Danny Danons shake off every peace plan and lead us to international isolation?

“We need to return to the reality and quickly find a new devil,” Sarna concluded.

And we will. Because we need to.

In fact, AIPAC operatives and acolytesregime change enthusiastsBeltway hacks, and Israeli commentators have wasted no time at all.

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Originally posted at Mondoweiss.
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Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog, Wide Asleep in America. He tweets @WideAsleepNima.

ISRAEL AND AMERICA’S LATEST THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

Seeking to appease his Israeli hosts, Hagel said maintaining Israeli military superiority was a top priority for the Obama administration. “President Obama has made not only maintaining but improving Israel’s military qualitative edge a top priority,” he said.
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New US-Israel arms deal a threat to peace

 

 

The latest arms deal between Washington and Tel Aviv not only puts Tehran in the crosshairs, but will also underline Israeli intransigence on Palestine, writes Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
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New US-Israel arms deal  a threat  to peace
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (photo: Reuters)
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A new major US arms deal with Israel is intended to further enhance the Hebrew state’s ability to strike Iran, even without direct American operational involvement. The multi-billion dollar package include anti-radiation missiles designed to take out enemy air defences, new sophisticated radar for fighter jets, KC135 aerial refuelling tankers and Osprey V-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft.

The deal, however, will not include laser-guided bunker-buster bombs, according to The New York Times.

The deal was announced this week during the visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Israel. Hagel reassured Israeli officials of America’s traditional commitment to Israel’s security and to maintaining its qualitative military edge over all its neighbours.

The KC135 tankers are reportedly capable of being used in long-range operations by Israel against Iran. The sale of the V-22’s would also mark the first time the aircraft have been released to any country outside the United States. The deal will be implemented in several months.

Seeking to appease his Israeli hosts, Hagel said maintaining Israeli military superiority was a top priority for the Obama administration. “President Obama has made not only maintaining but improving Israel’s military qualitative edge a top priority,” he said.

Hagel reiterated earlier statements concerning Iran, saying that all options for dealing with that country were on the table. The American official also said his country would continue to help Israel develop the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.

According to intelligence reports published by the Israeli media, the Iron Dome performed “much worse than expected” during last year’s brief war between Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials claimed then that the costly defence system scored an 80 per cent success rate, a claim strongly contested by the Hebrew media.

It is widely believed the continued funding by the US of further research pertaining to the anti-missile system vindicates reports about its dismal performance.

The additional military aggrandisement is expected to further enforce the arguments of those in Israel who advocate striking Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally, ie without cooperation and coordination with the US.

Following talks with Hagel, Israel’s War Minister Moshe Yaalon, was quoted as saying: “One way or another, Iran’s nuclear programme will be stopped.”

Yaalon is no stranger to war given his role in murdering and maiming thousands of Palestinian civilians when he was chief of staff of the Israeli army in the mid-1950s.

Hagel’s visit to Israel is the first leg of a tour that will also take him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will also sign arms deal with Washington. Washington has always sought to promote Arab-Iranian contradictions at the expense of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

According to informed Israeli sources, the weapons these two countries will purchase from Washington will be of an inferior quality in comparison to those sold to Israel. Moreover, Washington will see to it that both countries will not try to transfer these weapons to a third country, especially one hostile to Israel.

 

FULL-FLEDGED ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN: It is uncertain if the highlighted American-Israeli alliance against Iran will be brought to fruition by carrying out an Israeli or joint-Israeli-American strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Some commentators in Israel contend that US reluctance to supply the Hebrew state with more strategic weapons, such the bunker-buster bombs, may indicate that the US is trying to pacify Israel, and to convince Tel Aviv to give diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed.

However, one of the main goals — if not the main goal — of the current Israeli government is “to neutralise the Iranian danger”.

Israel, which possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems, doesn’t face a real existential threat from Iran. This means that the hyperbolic and often phobic language used by Israeli officials and leaders to highlight the “Iranian danger” is intended largely to maintain the Israeli state’s military supremacy and hegemony in the region.

Moreover, it is widely believed that if Iran were to be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, this would trigger a nuclear arms race involving countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One Saudi official was quoted as saying in a press interview several months ago that “if Iran got the bomb, we would get it a few weeks afterwards.”

Thus, if this nightmarish scenario found its way to reality, Israel would then face not one Iran but many, as the possession of a nuclear deterrence by Arab countries would change the rules of the game of politics in the region to Israel’s disadvantage.

Earlier this month, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said that while an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s nuclear capability, “this delay could be important because we may have a regime change”.

Yadlin added: “Israel has defined what the trigger is, what the red line is. Iran is already there.”

Nonetheless, most observers and experts doubt whether regime change in Iran would lead to a degradation let alone disappearance of the country’s nuclear programme. Other pundits argue that Iran’s nuclear programme has already reached the point of no return.

A final point: It is very likely that the new arms deal will further embolden Israel with regards to the Palestinian issue.

Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be dead within two years if action were not taken now.

“I believe the window of the two-state solution is shutting,” Kerry told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “I think we have some period of time, a year, a year-and-a-half. Or two years, or it is over.”

Past experience has proven that the aggrandisement of Israeli military might at the expense of Arab and Muslim countries in the region makes Israel more intransigent, and much less prone to make peace.

 

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FIRST LADY OF THE OSCARS

Michelle Obama presents best picture Oscar to ‘Argo’

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As seen by Carlos Latuff ….
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Full report HERE
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Argo’s Oscar and the failure of truth
 Nima Shirazi

One year ago, after his breathtakingly beautiful Iranian drama, A Separation, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, writer/director Asghar Farhadi delivered the best acceptance speech of the night.

“[A]t the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians,” he said, Iran was finally being honored for “her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” Farhadi dedicated the Oscar “to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

Such grace and eloquence will surely not be on display this Sunday, when Ben Affleck, flanked by his co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, takes home the evening’s top prize, the Best Picture Oscar, for his critically-acclaimed and heavily decorated paean to the CIA and American innocence, Argo.

Over the past 12 months, rarely a week – let alone month – went by without new predictions of an ever-imminent Iranian nuclear weapon and ever-looming threats of an American or Israeli military attack. Come October 2012, into the fray marched Argo, a decontextualized, ahistorical “true story” of Orientalist proportion, subjecting audiences to two hours of American victimization and bearded barbarians, culminating in popped champagne corks and rippling stars-and-stripes celepating our heroism and triumph and their frustration and defeat.

Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir aptly described the film as “a propaganda fable,” explaining asothershave that essentially none of its edge-of-your-seat thrills or most memorable moments ever happened. O’Hehir sums up:

The Americans never resisted the idea of playing a film crew, which is the source of much agitation in the movie. (In fact, the “house guests” chose that cover story themselves, from a group of three options the CIA had prepared.) They were not almost lynched by a mob of crazy Iranians in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, because they never went there. There was no last-minute cancellation, and then un-cancellation, of the group’s tickets by the Carter administration. (The wife of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor had personally gone to the airport and purchased tickets ahead of time, for three different outbound flights.) The group underwent no interrogation at the airport about their imaginary movie, nor were they detained at the gate while a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard telephoned their phony office back in Burbank. There was no last-second chase on the runway of Mehrabad Airport, with wild-eyed, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs trying to shoot out the tires of a Swissair jet.

One of the actual hostages, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie “cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.” The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful.  “If asked, we were going to say we were leaving Iran to return when it was safer,” Lijek recalled, “But no one ever asked!…The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Berne. It was that straightforward.”

Furthermore, Jimmy Carter has even acknowledged that “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian [while] the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA…Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only in Tehran a day and a half and the real hero in my opinion was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”

Taylor himself recently remarked that “Argo” provides a myopic representation of both Iranians and their revolution, ignoring their “more hospitable side and an intent that they were looking for some degree of justice and hope and that it all wasn’t just a violent demonstration for nothing.”

“The amusing side, Taylor said, “is the script writer in Hollywood had no idea what he’s talking about.”

O’Hehir perfectly articulates the film’s true crime, its deliberate exploitation of “its basis in history and its mode of detailed realism to create something that is entirely mythological.” Not only is it “a trite cavalcade of action-movie clichés and expository dialogue,” but “[i]t’s also a propaganda movie in the truest sense, one that claims to be innocent of all ideology.”

Such an assessment is confirmed by Ben Affleck’s own comments about the film. In describing Argo to Bill O’Reilly, Affleck boasted, “You know, it was such a great story. For one thing, it’s a thriller. It’s actually comedy with the Hollywood satire. It’s a complicated CIA movie, it’s a political movie. And it’s all true.”  He told Rolling Stone that, when conceiving his directorial approach, he knew he “absolutely had to preserve the central integrity and truth of the story.” “It’s OK to embellish, it’s OK to compress, as long as you don’t fundamentally change the nature of the story and of what happened,” Affleck has remarked, even going so far as to tell reporters at Argo‘s BFI London Film Festival premier, “This movie is about this story that took place, and it’s true, and I go to pains to contextualize it and to try to be even-handed in a way that just means we’re taking a cold, hard look at the facts.” In an interview with The Huffington Post, Affleck went so far as to say, “I tried to make a movie that is absolutely just factual. And that’s another reason why I tried to be as true to the story as possible — because I didn’t want it to be used by either side. I didn’t want it to be politicized internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them.”
For Affleck, these facts apparently don’t include understanding why the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and occupied on November 4, 1979.  “There was no rhyme or reason to this action,” Affleck has insisted, claiming that the takeover “wasn’t about us,” that is, the American government (despite the fact that his own film is introduced by a fleeting – though frequently inaccurate [1] – review of American complicity in the Shah’s dictatorship). Wrong, Ben.  One reason was the fear of another CIA-engineered coup d’etat like the one perpetrated in 1953 from the very same Embassy. Another reason was the admission of the deposed Shah into the United States for medical treatment and asylum rather than extradition to Iran to face charge and trial for his quarter century of crimes against the Iranian people, bankrolled and supported by the U.S. government.  One doesn’t have to agree with the reasons, of course, but they certainly existed. Just as George H.W. Bush once bellowed after a U.S. Navy warship blew an Iranian passenger airliner out of the sky over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 Iranian civilians, “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”  Affleck appears inclined to agree.
If nothing else, Argo is an exercise in American exceptionalism – perhaps the most dangerous fiction that permeates our entire society and sense of identity.  It reinvents history in order to mine a tale of triumph from an unmitigated defeat.  The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days and destroyed an American presidency, was a failure and an embarrassment for Americans.  The United States government and media has spent the last three decades tirelessly exacting revenge on Iran for what happened. Argo recasts revolutionary Iranians as the hapless victims of American cunning and deception.  White Americans are hunted, harried and, ultimately courageous and free.  Iranians are maniacal, menacing and, in the end, infantile and foolish.  The fanatical fundamentalists fail while America wins. USA -1, Iran – 0. 
Yet, Argo obscures the unfortunate truth that, as those six diplomats were boarding a plane bound for Switzerland on January 28, 1980, their 52 compatriots would have to wait an entire year before making it home, not as the result of a daring rescue attempt, but after a diplomatic agreement was reached. Reflecting on the most troubled episodes in American history is a time-honored cinematic tradition. There’s a reason why the best Vietnam movies are full of pain, anger, anguish and war crimes.  By contrast, Argo is American catharsis porn; pure Hollywood hubris.  It is pro-American propaganda devoid of introspection, pathos or humility and meant to assuage our hurt feelings.  In Argo, no lessons are learned by revisiting the consequences of America’s support for the Pahlavi monarchy or its creation and training of SAVAK, the Shah’s vicious secret police. On June 11, 1979, months before the hostage crisis began, the New York Times published an article by writer and historian A.J. Langguth which recounted revelations relayed by a former American intelligence official regarding the CIA’s close relationship with SAVAK.  The agency had “sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK” including “instructions in torture, and the techniques were copied from the Nazis.”  Langguth wrestled with the news, trying to figure out why this had not been widely reported in the media.  He came to the following conclusion:

We – and I mean we as Americans – don’t believe it. We can read the accusations, even examine the evidence and find it irrefutable. But, in our hearts, we cannot believe that Americans have gone apoad to spread the use of torture. We can believe that public officials with reputations for pilliance can be arrogant, blind or stupid. Anything but evil. And when the cumulative proof becomes overwhelming that our representatives in the C.I.A. or the Agency for International Development police program did in fact teach torture, we excuse ourselves by vilifying the individual men.

Similarly, at a time when the CIA is waging an illegal, immoral, unregulated and alwaysexpanding drone execution program, the previous administration’s CIAkidnappersandtorturers are protected from prosecution by the currentadministration, and leaked State Department cables reveal orders for U.S. diplomats to spy on United Nations officials, it is surreal that such homage is being paid to that very same organization by the so-called liberals of the Tinsel Town elite.

Upon winning his Best Director Golden Globe last month, Ben Affleck obsequiously praised the “clandestine service as well as the foreign service that is making sacrifices on behalf of the American people everyday [and] our troops serving over seas, I want to thank them very much,” a statement echoed almost identically by co-producer Grant Heslov when Argo later won Best Drama.

This comes as no surprise, considering Affleck had previously described Argo as “a tribute” to the “extraordinary, honorable people at the CIA” during an interview on Fox News.

The relationship between Hollywood and the military and intelligence arms of the U.S. government have long been cozy. “When the CIA or the Pentagon says, ‘We’ll help you, if you play ball with us,’ that’s favoring one form of speech over another. It becomes propaganda,” David Robb, author of Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies told The Los Angeles Times. “The danger for filmmakers is that their product — entertainment and information — ends up being government spin.”

Awarding Argo the Best Picture Oscar is like Barack Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize: an undeserved accolade fawningly bestowed upon a dubious recipient based on a transparent fiction; an award for what never was and never would be and a decision so willfully naïve and grotesque it discredits whatever relevance and prestige the proceedings might still have had.*

So this Sunday night, when Argo has won that coveted golden statuette, it will be clear that we have yet again been blinded by the heavy dust of politics and our American mantra of hostility and resentment will continue to inform our decisions, dragging us closer and closer to the abyss.

***** ***** *****

* Yes, in this analogy, the equivalent of Henry Kissinger is obviously 2004’s dismal “Crash.”

*****

1 The introduction of Argo is a dazzingly sloppy few minutes of caricatured history of Iran, full of Orientalist images of violent ancient Persians (harems and all), which gets many basic facts wrong. In fact, it is shocking this intro made it to release as written and recorded.

Here are some of the problems:

1. The voice over narration says, “In 1950, the people of Iran elected Mohammad Mossadegh, the secular democrat, Prime Minister. He nationalized pitish and U.S. petroleum holdings, returning Iran’s oil to its people.”

Mossadegh was elected to the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) in 1944. He did not become Prime Minister until April 1951 and was not “elected by the people of Iran.” Rather, he was appointed to the position by the representatives of the Majlis.

Also, the United States did not have petroleum interests in Iran at the time.

2. After piefly describing the 1953 coup, the narrator says Britain and the United States “installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah.”

Wow. First, the Shah’s name was not Reza Pahlavi. That is his father’s (and son’s) name. Furthermore, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was not installed as Shah since had already been Shah of Iran since September 1941, after pitain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran and forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi.

During the coup in 1953, the Shah fled to Baghdad, then Rome. After Mossadegh had been forced out, the Shah returned to the Peacock Throne.

This is not difficult information to come by, and yet the screenwriter and director of Argo didn’t bother looking it up. And guess what? Ben Affleck actually majored in Middle East Studies in college. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t graduate.

The rest of the brief intro, while mentioning the torture of SAVAK, glosses over the causes of the revolution, but lingers on the violence that followed.  As it ends, the words “Based on a True Story” appear on the screen. The first live action moment we see in Argo is of an American flag being burned.

Such is Affleck’s insistence that Argo is “not a political movie.”

Still, as Kevin B. Lee wrote in Slate last month, “This opening may very well be the reason why critics have given the film credit for being insightful and progressive—because nothing that follows comes close, and the rest of the movie actually undoes what this opening achieves.”

 He continues, 

Instead of keeping its eye on the big picture of revolutionary Iran, the film settles into a retrograde “white Americans in peril” storyline. It recasts those oppressed Iranians as a raging, zombie-like horde, the same dark-faced demons from countless other movies— still a surefire dramatic device for instilling fear in an American audience. After the opening makes a big fuss about how Iranians were victimized for decades, the film marginalizes them from their own story, shunting them into the role of villains. Yet this irony is overshadowed by a larger one: The heroes of the film, the CIA, helped create this mess in the first place. And their triumph is executed through one more ruse at the expense of the ever-dupable Iranians to cap off three decades of deception and manipulation.

And brilliantly concludes,

Looking at the runaway success of this film, it seems as if critics and audiences alike lack the historical knowledge to recognize a self-serving perversion of an unflattering past, or the cultural acumen to see the utterly ersatz nature of the enterprise: A cast of stock characters and situations, and a series of increasingly contrived narrow escapes from third world mobs who, predictably, are never quite smart enough to catch up with the Americans. We can delight all we like in this cinematic recycling act, but the fact remains that we are no longer living in a world where we can get away with films like this—not if we want to be in a position to deal with a world that is rising to meet us. The movies we endorse need to rise to the occasion of reflecting a new global reality, using a newer set of storytelling tools than this reheated excuse for a historical geopolitical thriller.
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This post originally appeared on Nima Shirazi’s website Wide Asleep in America on Saturday, Febuary 23, 2013 (i.e. the day before the Academy Awards)

TRYING TO LEGALISE AN IMPENDING ILLEGAL WAR

Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program according to all Western and Israeli intelligence agencies and unprovoked, “preventative,” “anticipatory” or “preemptive” military assaults are not only totally illegal but also can not possibly be justified as “self-defense.”

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Jordan Paust’s Bad Law:
UH Law Professor Tries & Fails to Legalize an Israeli Attack on Iran

By Nima Shirazi

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On January 15, 2013, University of Houston Law Center professor Jordan Paust penned an article entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Lawful Israeli Self-Defense,” which was published on Jurist, a website of analysis and opinion pieces written by law professors, lawyers, and legal scholars. It is clear throughout Paust’s piece that his arguments are neither sound nor based in fact, and unfortunately rely entirely on false premises and long debunked propaganda.  Paust himself is a contributing editor to Jurist.

To begin with, the title of Paust’s analysis itself betrays both its agenda and its absurdity, considering Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program according to all Western and Israeli intelligence agencies and unprovoked, “preventative,” “anticipatory” or “preemptive” military assaults are not only totally illegal but also can not possibly be justified as “self-defense.”

And that’s just the beginning; the falsehoods continue to stack up.  In fact, Paust reveals his utter ignorance from the get-go, writing – in his very first sentence, no less – that the Iranian leadership “continues to proclaim its desire to wipe Israel off the map” – something even Israel’s own Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitsit has never done.  His understanding of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter (which affirms the right to retaliatory self-defense if attacked first) is bizarrely lacking, especially considering he’s a well-respected professor and incredibly prolific legal scholar.  He joins the shameful company of Alan Dershowitz in this regard.

Paust goes on to (1) accuse of Hezbollah and Hamas of terrorism and serving as Iranian proxies, without ever mentioning Israel’s decades of international law violations and continuing war crimes and occupation or the fact that they are autonomous organizations that don’t take direction from Iran; (2) ignore all facts pertaining to the illegality of initiating of a “war of aggression” (the “supreme international crime,” according to the Nuremberg Tribunal); and (3) claim that Iran is violating UNSC resolutions regarding the cessation of uranium enrichment, a demand many have long acknowledged is ultra vires, itself abrogates the NPT and the resolutions are themselves illegal.

Apparently, though, these facts aren’t important to Professor Paust, who describes himself as “one of the most widely cited law professors in the United States.”

Furthermore, among the “facts” that Paust marshals to advance his argument that Israel could legally launch a preemptive attack on Iran is the contention that “Iran is publicly ‘gunning’ for Israel.” Yes, he wrote that. And he still has a law degree. And is presumably literate.

From there, Paust launches into a bizarre and wholly inapplicable “Wild West Showdown” analogy in which the (Israeli) “good guy” is justified in “shoot[ing] first” since he knows the (Iranian) “bad guy” is out to get him.  It is “not necessary that the bad guy shoot first,” Paust writes, elaborating (for some inexplicable reason) that “the good guy could have drawn first once it was known that the bad guy was gunning for him and they were staring each other down in the street.”  By way of trying to make this dumbfounding, Manichean analogy make sense, he explains,  “Someone was about to draw first and, in context, the process of attack had begun and a right of self-defense had been triggered even though it was possible that the bad guy might back down and make this clearly known before the good guy fired.”

If this passes for astute legal analysis these days, it’s no wonder the United States has little to no respect for basic tenets of international law.

The analysis is so strained, based entirely on presumptions and assumptions with no basis in fact (only in Netanyahu-approved talking points), that Paust discredits himself simply by writing it in the first place.

In the end, Paust pines for a peaceful way out.  His solution?  That Iranian leaders “shift their attention to peace,…comply with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” and not build a bomb.  As countless IAEA reports have demonstrated, Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful and no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program.  Iran has also never been found to have violated its obligations to the NPT.  Its leaders, for decades now, have repeated denounced nuclear weapons as, not only amoral and religiously sinful, but also strategically useless and politically irrelevant.  Far from “publicly gunning for Israel,” they have also dismissed any intention to militarily attack any nation, Israel included.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading Jurist.

***** 

UPDATE:

January 17, 2013 – Dan Joyner, law professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, has written another critique (a far more measured and professional one, no doubt) at his excellent blog, Arms Control Law.

Joyner’s credentials are impressive; he is the author of books entitledInternational Law and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (2009) and Interpreting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (2011) and co-editedNonproliferation Law as a Special Regime: A Contribution to Fragmentation Theory in International Law (2012). He is also a member of the International Law Association’s Committee on Nuclear Weapons, Non-proliferation and Contemporary International Law.

In his analysis of Paust’s article, Joyner determines that Paust’s conclusion that an Israeli strike on Iran would be legal (given the enumerated contingencies) is not only “not very persuasive,” but also “actually quite dangerous.”

Joyner has previously addressed the legality of an Israeli attack on Iran, as well as the IAEA’s overstepping its legal mandate with regard to the Iranian nuclear program and reference of the Iranian file to the United Nations Security Council.  The later article, written in November 2011, was published on Jurist.

Written FOR

BIBI SOLVES THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS (WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS IN THE US SENATE)

“Building in Jerusalem is not the problem of the world. A nuclear Iran is the problem of the world,” Netanyahu told the senators during the meeting, which took place in his office in Jerusalem.
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Netanyahu and McCain
Flash 90
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“History will not forgive those who do not stop Iran’s nuclear program,” was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s message during a meeting with top U.S. senators on Saturday evening.

The delegation is led by Sen. John McCain of the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees and the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate and also includes Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), and Christian Brose, a senior advisor on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Building in Jerusalem is not the problem of the world. A nuclear Iran is the problem of the world,” Netanyahu told the senators during the meeting, which took place in his office in Jerusalem.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting dealt with the intensification of the sanctions against Iran.

It added that the Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the Republican and Democratic senators for the “unwavering support of Israel in the Senate.”

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Taken FROM

THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AND IRAN ~~ 9 THINGS TO REMEMBER

“There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill”

- John Lennon, Working Class Hero
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What We Won’t Hear in Boca:
Nine Things to Remember During the Iran Section of the Presidential Debate Tonight

By Nima Shirazi


“How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

- George W. Bush, in his 2010 memoir Decision Points
“There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill”
- John Lennon, Working Class Hero

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Yesterday, Politico posted a copy of the predetermined topics of discussion for this evening’s third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, the focus of which will be foreign policy.One of the topics is, naturally, “Red Lines – Israel and Iran.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking this might mean that the two candidates will discuss what sort of limitations – identified by non-negotiable trigger points and definable events – the United States would set on Israeli war crimes, colonization, human rights violations and warmongering, but that would just mean you’re a logical, thinking person who doesn’t pay attention to the world in which we actually live.

No, instead, two grown men vying to be the most powerful person on the planet, will trip all over themselves to prostrate themselves at the altar of Israel fear-mongering, gloating about how much Iranians are suffering because of US-imposed sanctions, cyberattacks, sidewalk executions, covert operations, industrial sabotage, economic hardship and hyperinflation and threatening to launch an unprovoked military attack if Iran doesn’t do as its told by the United States.  These actions are intended, we will hear from President Obama, to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; or, in Romney’s case, to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability - that is, the point at which Iran will have the technical, technological and scientific ability to theoretically begin the process of assembling a single atomic bomb, if the leader of the country were to ever make that decision, which at this point everyone agrees he hasn’t done and probably won’t ever do.

We will hear Romney clam that “Iran is now four years closer to a nuclear weapon” and watch Obama insist that “all options are on the table” when it comes to confronting Iran over its national rights.  We’ll hear that Iran’s nuclear program poses a great – if not the greatest – threat to not only Israel and its neighbors in the region, but to Europe, the United States and the entire world.

So, as you’re watching the show tonight, it might be best to keep some things in mind:

1. Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons.  Iranian officials have consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Brigadier General Martin Dempsey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess, President Barack Obama, his National Security Council, and Vice President Joe Biden have all agreed Iran isn’t actively building nuclear weapons.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and Military Intelligence Director Aviv Kochavi have also said the same thing.

Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continually confirms – that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.” (emphasis added)

2. Iran has never violated its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran is a signatory, and charter member, to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which affirms (not grants, merely acknowledges) the “inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.”

Under the terms of the treaty, non-nuclear weapons states such as Iran are fully entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and must have a safeguards agreement in place with the autonomous IAEA, the “exclusive purpose” of which is the “verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Iran has never been found to have breached its NPT obligations as such a violation could only occur if Iran began “to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.”

With regard to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, Iran – while in the past had been found in non-compliance for its “failure to report” otherwise totally legal activities due to the deliberate policy of obstructionism of the United States – has never been found to have diverted any nuclear material to weaponization.

“Claims of an imminent Iranian nuclear bomb are without foundation,” IAEA spokesman Georges Delcoigne stated on May 9, 1984.  In 1991, then-IAEA Director-General Hans Blix explained that Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear technology was “no cause for concern.”

Twelve years later, in November 2003, the IAEA affirmed that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.” And the following year, after extensive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities were conducted under the auspices of the IAEA’s intrusive Additional Protocol (implemented voluntarily by Iran for two years) the IAEA again concluded that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

In 2007, then-IAEA Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei confirmed, “I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now,” adding, “Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weapons program? No.”

After agreeing on a “Work Plan” to “clarify the outstanding issues” between Iran and the IAEA, by February 2008, ElBaradei was able to report, “We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran’s enrichment programme” and the IAEA continued “to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”

“As long as we are monitoring their facilities, they cannot develop nuclear weapons,” ElBaradei said. “And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight.”

In September 2009, ElBaradei told the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that “the idea that we’ll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn’t supported by the facts as we have seen them so far,” continuing, “Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn’t have an ongoing nuclear weapons program,” adding that “the threat has been hyped.”

The following month, ElBaradei stated:

“The only time we found Iran in breach of its obligations not to use undeclared nuclear material was when they had experimented in 2003 and 2004 at Kalaye. Those were experiments. And I have been making it very clear that with regard to these alleged studies, we have not seen any use of nuclear material, we have not received any information that Iran has manufactured any part of a nuclear weapon or component. That’s why I say, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype.”

The “alleged studies” ElBaradei referred to are alleged documents supposedly obtained from a mysterious stolen Iranian Laptop of Death, the authenticity of which has long been known to rest somewhere on the spectrum of dubious to fabricated, and which was provided to the IAEA by the United States by way of the MEK by way of the Mossad and has never been made fully available to the IAEA itself, the press, the public or even Iran itself to investigate, authenticate or assess.  In fact, reportedly, the laptop’s “information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.”

Furthermore, a 2007 report from The Los Angeles Times revealed that, according to IAEA officials, “most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran” and confirmed that its inspectors “have found no proof that nuclear material has been diverted for use in weapons.” A senior diplomat at the IAEA was quoted as saying, “Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us has proved to be wrong.”

Despite the appointment of Yukiya Amano, the America’s man in Vienna (and self-declared as “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision”), as IAEA Director-General, the agency has continued to verify Iran’s safeguard commitments.

3. The IAEA safeguards and inspects all nuclear facilities in Iran.

Iran’s nuclear sites, facilities, and centrifuges are all under 24-hour video surveillance by the IAEA, subject to IAEA monitoring and bimonthly inspections, and material seal application.  Though not required or authorized under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, since March 2007 the IAEA has conducted dozens of unannounced and snap inspections of Iran’s facilities.

“There is no truth to media reports claiming that the IAEA was not able to get access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities, IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire affirmed in 2007. “We have not been denied access at any time.”

The IAEA has consistently confirmed – often four times a year for nearly a decade – that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Parchin is not a nuclear facility.  It is a military facility not safeguarded by the IAEA and therefore off-limits legally to its inspectors.  Iran voluntarily allowed two rounds of inspections of Parchin by IAEA personnel in 2005.  No traces of nuclear weapons work were found.

4. Iran, by default, already has “nuclear weapons capability.”

Iran, with its operational enrichment facilities and a functioning power plant, theoretically already has such “capability,” as do at least 140 other countries that “currently have the basic technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons.” Additionally,according to Green Peace, “[o]ver 40 countries have the materials and knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly, a capacity that is referred to as ‘rapid break-out.'”

Nevertheless, Iran has consistently offered curbing and capping their enrichment program, accepting international cooperation, and have actually taken serious scientific and technological steps to reduce their medium-enriched uranium stockpile, thus decreasing the perceived threat of any nascent Iranian “breakout” capacity.
5. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons.  It is not a member of the NPT.
Unlike Iran, which doesn’t have a single nuclear bomb, Israel maintains a massive, undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons. Additionally, Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to do so when repeatedly called upon to do so by the international community.  The hypocrisy is staggering.

In May 2010, the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – including Iran – agreed to “the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.” In response, Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and declared, “As a nonsignatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

The document called upon Pakistan, India, and Israel (the only three states never to have signed to NPT, each of which has a nuclear arsenal unmonitored by the IAEA) to all sign the treaty and abide by its protocols “without further delay and without any preconditions,” and demanded that North Korea (which withdrew from the NPT in 2003) abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.”

Nevertheless, both President Obama and National Security Adviser General James Jones condemned the resolution (which the U.S. signed) as unfairly “singl[ing] out Israel.”  Obama added that the U.S. would “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”  Considering Obama’s alleged determination to address the issue of global nuclear proliferation, this statement and the absence of any high-level U.S. government personnel at the summit speaks volumes.

Early in his presidency, in April 2009, Obama delivered a major speech in Prague about nuclear weapons and proliferation.  In it he declared, “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” shortly thereafter reaffirming that “the United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

While Obama set out parameters to strengthen the NPT, stating his vision that “countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy,” he name-checked both North Korea and Iran, while never once mentioning Israel’s stockpile of hundreds of deliverable nuclear warheads.

In October of that year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize would be “awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” continuing that, “[t]he Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

After Obama convened and presided over a Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010, he gave a press conference in which he noted that “[w]hen the United States improves our own nuclear security and transparency, it encourages others to do the same,” adding, “When the United States fulfills our responsibilities as a nuclear power committed to the NPT, we strengthen our global efforts to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities.”

Scott Wilson of the Washington Post asked Obama whether, in his effort “to bring U.S. policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally” and “eliminate the perception of hypocrisy that some of the world sees toward the United States and its allies,” he would “call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty” and “if not, why wouldn’t other countries see that as an incentive not to sign on to the treaty that you say is important to strengthen?”  Obama replied,

Well, Scott, initially you were talking about U.S. behavior and then suddenly we’re talking about Israel…

And as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program.  What I’m going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT.

So there’s no contradiction there.

This non-answer harkens back to the president’s very first White House press conference in February 2009, when veteran correspondent Helen Thomas asked Obama a painfully simple question: “Mr. President, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

In response, the new commander-in-chief responded, “With respect to nuclear weapons, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everyone will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally.”

Clearly, though a world without nuclear weapons may be a goal of Obama, maintaining Israel’s posture of “nuclear ambiguityappears to be a presidential obligation.

Exactly a week before the Nobel Committee announced Obama as its Peace Prize laureate, it was reported on October 2, 2009 by Eli Lake of the Washington Times that, in May of that year, Obama had “reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections.”  Lake explained, “Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.”

A Senate staffer familiar with the secret agreement told Lake:

What this means is that the president gave commitments that politically he had no choice but to give regarding Israel’s nuclear program. However, it calls into question virtually every part of the president’s nonproliferation agenda.  The president gave Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card.

6. Sanctions are the West’s other weapon of mass destruction.

Tonight, Obama will praise his policy of collective punishment of a civilian population over a nuclear weapons program even he has admitted doesn’t even exist while Romney will call for even more destructive measures to hurt the Iranian people.  Sanctions target Iran’s citizens with the hope of causing enough suffering to instigate regime change.  That won’t happen.  In the meantime, the Iranian people suffer for a crime their government isn’t even committing.

During the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden boasted, “These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period, period.”

While Mitt Romney will surely scold the president for “not supporting” the so-called Iranian opposition following the election in 2009 (even though no dissident leader or group asked for “help” from the U.S.; quite the contrary), we won’t hear that Iranians across the political spectrum uniformly oppose sanctions and wholly support their country’s indigenous nuclear energy program.

Just today, AFP reports, “Some six million patients in Iran are affected by Western economic sanctions as import of medicine is becoming increasingly difficult” because restrictions on Iran’s banking sector “severely” curtail “the import of drugs and pharmaceutical devices for treatment of complex illnesses.”

As sanctions mount and more are promised, thought should be given to the lethal effects of a decade of similarly draconian measures on Iraq following the Gulf War.

In 1995, The New York Times reported, “As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council.”  When, the following year, Leslie Stahl interviewed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes about these tragic and genocidal effects of brutal economic U.S. sanctions against Iraq and asked, “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Nonplussed, Albright immediately replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Despite the uninformed lip-service both candidates pay to caring about the welfare of the Iranian people, there is no doubt both Obama and Romney believe the current sanctions on Iran are also worth it.

“In many ways, the sanctions on the Iraqi people were worse than the war because the economy was taken back decades and the health service deteriorated massively,” Carne Ross, former British Foreign Office diplomat and the UK’s Iraq expert at the United Nations Security Council, has said.

But deliberately causing a humanitarian disaster that destroys the lives of an entire civilian population isn’t an alternative to war.  It is one.

7. Attacking Iran is not only immoral, it is uncontrovertibly illegal.

Any military campaign against Iran would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

As journalist Marsha Cohen pointed out earlier this year, a 2009 study produced for theCenter for International and Strategic Studies briefly addressed “the human and environmental human catastrophe that would result just from an attack on the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr,” and determined:

Any strike on the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.

A devastating new analysis on “The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities” has determined “it is highly likely that the casualty rate at the physical sites will be close to 100 percent” and continues:

Assuming an average two-shift operation, between 3,500 and 5,500 people would be present at the time of the strikes, most of whom would be killed or injured as a result of the physical and thermal impact of the blasts. If one were to include casualties at other targets, one could extrapolate to other facilities, in which case the total number of people killed and injured could exceed 10,000.

David Isenberg, in a Time article on the report, writes that “attacks at Isfahan and Natanz would release existing stocks of fluorine and fluorine compounds which would turn into hydrofluoric acid — a highly-reactive agent that, when inhaled, would make people ‘drown in their lungs.’ Fluorine gases are more corrosive and toxic than the chlorine gas used in World War I. Once airborne, at lethal concentrations, these toxic plumes could kill virtually all life forms in their path.”

He adds:

Aside from the fluorine, the uranium hexafluoride itself also poses dire consequences. The report estimates that if only 5% of 371 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride produced at the Isfahan facility becomes airborne during or after an attack, the toxic plumes could travel five miles with the Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) level of 25 milligrams per cubic liter spreading over 13 square miles:

With prevailing wind directions and speeds at 9.4 miles/hour moving towards the city, in about one hour, this plume could expose some of the 240,000 residents in Isfahan municipality’s eastern districts, particularly districts 4 and 6. At a 20% release, the IDLH plume will travel 9 miles covering 41 square miles and could expose some of the 352,000 residents, mainly in districts 13, 4, and 6, as well as residents in the region north of district 4. If we assume a conservative casualty rate of 5 to 20% among these populations, we can expect casualties in the range of 12,000-70,000 people. [emphasis in original]

Not only would such an attack by unconscionable for moral reasons, an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities, military installments and civilian infrastructure would in no be considered legal.

All so-called “preemptive” military attacks are illegal and explicitly forbidden by Chapter I, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter. The Charter also makes clear that it recognizes the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations,” (Chapter VII, Article 51), which undoubtedly rules out any and all “preemptive,” “precautionary,” “anticipatory self-defense,” or “preventative” military actions of one State against another.

Moreover, following World War II, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg described the willful initiation of a “war of aggression” as “the supreme international crime,” a defining tenet of current international law.

“Preemptive self-defense is clearly unlawful under international law,” law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell wrote in 2002.  In her extensive analysis, “The Myth of Preemptive Self-Defense,” O’Connell explains, “The right of self-defense is limited to the right to use force to repel an attack in progress, to prevent future enemy attacks following an initial attack, or to reverse the consequences of an enemy attack, such as ending an occupation” and also points out that “the United States as a government has consistently supported the prohibition on such preemptive use of force.”

O’Connell continues, “the reality is that the United States has no right to use force to prevent possible, as distinct from actual, armed attacks. The further reality is that the United States does not advance its security or its moral standing in the world by doing so.” Throughout her paper, O’Connell stresses that all nations are bound by these same rules.

“There is no self-appointed right to attack another state because of fear that the state is making plans or developing weapons usable in a hypothetical campaign,” she states, elaborating that “a state may not take military action against another state when an attack is only a hypothetical possibility, and not yet in progress—even in the case of weapons of mass destruction” since even “possession of such weapons without more does not amount to an armed attack.”

Also, the simple act of attacking any nation’s nuclear facilities is in itself unquestionably illegal.

On September 21, 1990, the IAEA General Conference adopted a resolution during its 332nd plenary meeting which addressed “measures to strengthen international co-operations in matters relating to nuclear safety and radiological protection.”

The resolution specifically and unconditionally called for the “Prohibition of all armed attacks against nuclear installations devoted to peaceful purposes whether under construction or in operation.”

The resolution refers to an earlier IAEA document which maintains that “any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Statute of the Agency” and that warns that “an armed attack on a nuclear installation could result in radioactive releases with grave consequences within and beyond the boundaries of the State which has been attacked.”

Furthermore, the resolution “[r]ecognizes that attacks or threats of attack on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes could jeopardize the development of nuclear energy; [c]onsiders that the safeguards system of the Agency is a reliable means of verifying the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; [r]ecognizes that an armed attack or a threat of armed attack on a safeguarded nuclear facility, in operation or under construction, would create a situation in which the United Nations Security Council would have to act immediately in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter; [and e]ncourages all Member States to be ready to provide – if requested – immediate peaceful assistance in accordance with international law to any State whose safeguarded nuclear facilities have been subjected to an armed attack.”

It is important to note that while Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, it has however been a member of the IAEA since 1957 and therefore such a resolution is just as binding upon Israel as it is upon all other member states.

The illegality of any Israeli or American attack on Iran is clear.  It would not only be a war crime in the truest sense of the term as articulated by the Nuremberg Tribunal, but it would also constitute a grave crime against humanity due to the inevitable and unavoidable cost of human lives and suffering such an attack would cause.  That both Israel and the United States are naturally aware of such consequences would make any attack all the more despicable and its crimes deliberate.

8. This is really about maintaining unchallenged American and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

The scariest thing for proponents of American empire and Israeli impunity is the prospect of the U.S. and Israel not being able to invade, occupy, overthrow bomb, blockade and murder at will.  Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out that the real fear over the Iranian program is that “Iranian nuclear weapons would prevent the US from attacking Iran at will, and that is what is intolerable.”

In his December 2011 call for the United States to soon launch an unprovoked attack on Iran, Matthew Kroenig wrote in Foreign Affairs that a “nuclear-armed Iran would immediately limit U.S. freedom of action in the Middle East. With atomic power behind it, Iran could threaten any U.S. political or military initiative in the Middle East with nuclear war, forcing Washington to think twice before acting in the region.”

The same month, hawkish American Enterprise Institute maven Danielle Pletka admitted, “The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it. It’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it.”

Yet even the mere “breakout capacity” is what worries Israel the most.  Writing in Asia Times this past summer, Richard Javad Heydarian explained that “the Iranian nuclear issue is fundamentally about the balance of power in West Asia. Israel is essentially concerned with the emergence of a ‘virtual’ – possessing a ‘break-out’ capacity to develop a warhead on a short notice – nuclear-armed state in Tehran, eliminate Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly. This would undermine Israel’s four decades of strategic impunity to shape the regional environment to its own liking,” adding, “Thus, it is crucial for Israel to prevent any Iran-West diplomatic compromise, which will give Tehran a free hand to enhance its regional influence and maintain a robust nuclear infrastructure.”

9. What we won’t hear.

The reason we’ll be subjected to a quarter-hour of Obama and Romney talking about our unbreakable, sacrosanct, unique special bond and unflinching commitment to Israel’s security, how the United States will never allow Iran to threaten our “number one ally in the region,” how bumblingbipolar used-car salesman are deployed by an evil regime to assassinate our best friends’ ambassadors and how Iranian leaders threaten Israel with genocidal destruction, is because, that way, we won’t hear the words “Palestinian human rights,” “Israeli war crimes,” “apartheid,” “occupation,” “Gaza,” “colonial settlements,” “African migrants in internment camps,” or “ethnic cleansing.”

Get it?

Mission accomplished.

Written FOR

ARE WE HOSTAGES TO HOLLYWOOD’S HISTORY?

Argo‘s Asinine Auteur and his American Audience:
Are We Hostages to Hollywood History?

*

By Nima Shirazi

Student demonstration, Washington, D.C., November 9, 1979

(Marion S. Trikosko)


Ben Affleck’s new film, Argo, hit theaters today.  It tells the tale of six American diplomats who, having escaped the besieged Embassy in Tehran in late 1979 and taken shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, were successfully smuggled out of Iran in a daring Hollywood-produced CIA operation under the guise of being a Canadian film crew.

From the movie trailer, one can tell a great many things.  The story is fascinating, the plot suspenseful and action-packed.  Yet there are worrying signs that the events depicted will present a rather decontextualized and myopic perspective of Iranian actions in the wake of their revolution.

“The actions of Iran have shocked the civilized world,” President Jimmy Carterdeclared two weeks after the embassy’s occupation during a November 28, 1979 press conference.  This was coming from the leader of the nation whose operatives orchestrated a coup d’etat 26 years earlier to overthrow the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the crime of nationalizing his country’s oil industry and which funded and supported the brutal Pahlavi dictatorship for the next quarter century. Civilized, indeed.

A video of Carter speaking those very words opens Argo‘s trailer which is replete with sinister music, angry bearded mobs, clenched fists pumping the air, sounds of gunfire, glaring portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini and plenty of hand-wringing, hapless, innocent Americans and the concerned, humanitarian heroes of Tinsel Town and the Central Intelligence Agency who saved them.

The mastermind behind the clandestine mission featured in the film is CIA operative Tony Mendez, portrayed by Affleck himself.  In a short clip of the movie shown on The Daily Show, Mendez is described as an “exfil[tration] spec[ialist]” who “got a lot of the Shah’s people out after the fall.”  What a hero.

The issue is not that hostage-taking is legitimate or moral or that amazing true stories shouldn’t be made into big budget movies.  It’s not and they should be.  The issue here is context.  Without it, Manichean views of the world – with good guys and bad guys neatly identified – continue to prevail.  At a time of especially heightened tension between Iran, the United States, and now Canada, films likeArgo – with its narrative of American victimhood and Middle Eastern rage – certainly do favors.

I have not seen this film.  I could be wrong about all this.  Argo may very well include a nuanced and sophisticated exploration of the causes behind the Iranian Revolution and U.S. government decisions leading up to the hostage crisis, but then again, it might not.

In an interview at the Toronto Film Festival, Affleck said, “While the [action portrayed in the] movie is 30 years old, it really is still relevant.  Both in the sense that it’s about the unintended consequences of revolution and in the sense that we’re dealing with the exact same issues now than we were then.”

Earlier this week, Affleck joined blowhard ignoramus Bill O’Reilly on Fox News to discuss the film.  In describing Argo, Affleck said, “You know, it was such a great story. For one thing, it’s a thriller. It’s actually comedy with the Hollywood satire. It’s a complicated CIA movie, it’s a political movie. And it’s all true.”

In a thrillingly complicated comical twist, about thirty seconds later, the star of Surviving Christmas and Reindeer Games contradicted himself completely: “To me, I made a movie that my friends who are Democrats and my friends who are Republicans can both watch. It’s not a political movie.”

Affleck also spent much of his time praising the U.S. intelligence and foreign service agents, including those who actively worked against the popular revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi monarchy. “[T]his is really a tribute to the folks and our clan that’s in services, and diplomats in the foreign service who are risking their lives over there, tragically seeing examples of that very recently. And folks who are — what they give up to serve us and to serve our country.”  He added, “I’ve been to the CIA. I met General David Petraeus. These are extraordinary honorable people at the CIA. Make no mistake about it.”

O’Reilly summed it up: “This is a Valentine from Ben Affleck to the Intelligence Community,” he declared.

Affleck also demonstrated a dizzying fealty to alarmist misinformation over the Iranian nuclear program.  If the “Islamist regime,” he warned, “got a bomb, I think everybody thinks that would be trouble.”  Affleck then proceeded to opine that “Israel is not entirely capable of whacking them to the extent in which they need to be whacked.”  Read that again.

He continued, “And I wouldn’t outsource U.S. foreign policy to any other government…However, we have to have a line beyond which we say this is not acceptable in Iran.”  It didn’t take much for O’Reilly to draw out what his Fox News audience most wanted to hear.  “I wouldn’t oppose military action,” Affleck obliged.

Considering its filmmaker’s perspective, there’s a good chance Argo may not present a particularly erudite understanding of the events of Autumn 1979, despite the fact that the film itself opens with a quick review of Iranian history and the revolution.

With this in mind, there is some vital context that might – I repeat, might – be missing from Argo which every theatergoer should know in order to better contextualize what they’ll be watching this weekend:

Tyranny and Terror Under the Shah, Bankrolled by the U.S.

Jimmy Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Tehran 1977


For most Americans, the history of Iranian-U.S. relations began on November 4, 1979, the day revolutionary students seized control of the American Embassy in Tehran.  According to the American narrative, one November morning – out of the blue – some crazy Iranian fanatics seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of innocent Americans hostage for 444 days because they were mean and hated Americans for no reason.

Here’s some of what’s missing:

The United States of America backed, armed and supported the tyrannical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, for more than 25 years,

As late as 1977, President Jimmy Carter, speaking at a New Years Eve state dinner, called the Shah’s Iran “an island of stability” in an otherwise turbulent Middle East. Carter said this at a time when in Iran, under the Shah, “dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, in part by the use of torture in the dungeons of SAVAK, the [American and Israeli-trained] secret police,” Time magazine reported, adding:

The depth of its commitment to the Shah apparently blinded Washington to the growing discontent. U.S. policymakers wanted to believe that their investment was buying stability and friendship; they trusted what they heard from the monarch, who dismissed all opposition as ‘the blah-blahs of armchair critics.’

Such commitment to the belief in the Shah’s “stability” and inevitable longevity was evidenced in many U.S. intelligence assessments at the time.   For example, as Jeffrey T. Richelson recalls in Wizards of Langley: “A sixty-page CIA study completed in August 1977, Iran in the 1980s, had asserted that ‘there will be no radical change in Iranian political behavior in the near future’ and that ‘the Shah will be an active participant in the Iranian life well into the 1980s.’

Another CIA report from mid-1978 and entitled “Iran After the Shah”, affirmed that “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a ‘prerevolutionary’ situation.”

As Time pointed out in its January 7, 1980 report:

Even after the revolution began, U.S. officials were convinced that ‘there is no alternative to the Shah.’ Carter took time out from the Camp David summit in September 1978 to phone the Iranian monarch and assure him of Washington’s continued support.

Popular street demonstrations against the Shah’s rule became frequent throughout Iran in 1978 (as was the killing of protesters by government forces) and, eventually, many cities were placed under martial law. During a peaceful demonstration in Tehran on September 8, 1978, government security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing and wounding hundreds.

Nevertheless, that very month, the U.S. State Department expressed its confidence that the Shah would retain his control over Iran, though perhaps without “the same position of unquestioned authority he formerly enjoyed.”

At the same time that nationwide strikes spread throughout bazaars, banks, the oil and gas industry, newspapers, customs and post offices, mining and transportation sectors, as well as most universities and high schools, an “Intelligence Assessment” released by the Defense Intelligence Agency declared that the Shah “is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years.”

On October 27, 1978, as the revolution surged, the CIA issued another report, this one suggesting that “the political situation [in Iran] is unlikely to be clarified at least until late next year when the Shah, the Cabinet, and the new parliament that is scheduled to be elected in June begin to interact on the political scene.”

Just a few months later, in the face of a massive popular uprising representing the end of millennia of monarchy in Iran, the Shah and his wife Farah fled Iran in early 1979, never to return. They flew to Egypt, where they received a warm welcome by Anwar Sadat.

Following the Shah’s departure, the transitional Iranian government immediately cut ties with two countries: Apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel, both nations founded on the violent dispossession, forced displacement, and institutionalized discrimination against an indigenous population.

Despite the leading role it had played in propping up the Shah’s dictatorship for so long, Iran did not break off relations with the United States in the hopes of ushering in a new diplomatic relationship based on mutual respect.

Catalyzing the Crisis

Jimmy Carter, April 25, 1980 (AP)


Later that year, in October 1979, the Shah sought medical treatment in the United States for his worsening cancer, the interim government of Iran warned the U.S. against admitting the Shah as it wished for the deposed dictator to face trial and justice in Iran for his crimes against the Iranian people.  When asked whether it would be problematic if the Shah’s young children to enter the United States for schooling, Iran’s secular Prime Minister, Mehdi Barzargan, responded that such would not create any difficulties, but still “reiterated his warning about the dangers of admitting the shah himself.”

President Carter had to make a decision and asked the advice of his closest advisers.  “He went around the room, and most of us said, ‘Let him in.'” recalls Vice President Walter Mondale. “And he said, ‘And if [the Iranians] take our employees in our embassy hostage, then what would be your advice?’ And the room just fell dead. No one had an answer to that. Turns out, we never did.”

It is rumored, however, that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Undersecretary of State David Newsom all tried to hedge their bets and prevent the Shah’s admission to the U.S. in the hopes that it would help mend relations with the new transitional government in Tehran.

In favor of admission, on the other hand, were National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chase Bank chairman David Rockefeller, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former World Bank president John J. McCloy, who had served as Assistant Secretary of War during World War II and U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, who were collectively dubbed “influential friends of the Shah” by Brzezinski himself.  Apparently, Brzezinski personally “felt strongly that at stake were [the United State’s] traditional commitment to asylum and our loyalty to a friend. To compromise those principles would be to pay an extraordinarily high price not only in terms of self-esteem but also in our standing among our allies….”

In response to such lobbying by the Shah’s good buddies, President Carter acquiesced to the Shah’s demands on October 21, 1979.  The very next day, Pahlavi and his family arrived in New York City on October 22, 1979 aboard Rockefeller’s private jet.

Reporting in The New York Times in May 1981 following the Shah’s death and state funeral in Egypt, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman wrote that, from this decision “flowed a chain of events that dramatically reshaped recent American history and led, all too inevitably, to the 444 days of the hostage crisis.”

Henry Precht, the senior Iranian task-force officer at the State Department, who was then in Iran, is quoted in Altman’s article as saying that “the initial reaction of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Iranians was ”exceptionally controlled.” Precht added, however, “But one had the feeling that the Iranians, always suspicious, now sensed that they had indeed been duped and that the Shah had come to the United States not for medical treatment but to set up counterrevolutionary headquarters.”  In response, Altman reveals, a group of Iranian students met “in a small mountain village above Teheran to determine what action they would take to vent their fury at the Shah’s admission to the United States.”

Following the seizure of the Embassy and the taking of hostages, a reporter asked Carter why he had reversed his previous position and permitted the Shah to enter the U.S. when “medical treatment was available elsewhere [and] you had been warned by our chargé that the Americans might be endangered in Tehran.”  Carterreplied that he has made “the right decision” and had “no regrets about it nor apologies to make.”  He said:

“The decision that I made, personally and without pressure from anyone, to carry out the principles of our country, to provide for the means of giving the Shah necessary medical assistance to save his life, was proper.”

Carter’s humanitarian mission to save Iranian lives was apparently limited to that of a single corrupt despot, a puppet dictator that served Washington’s hegemonic designs in the Middle East for decades.  The lives of Iranian civilians who suffered under the Shah’s rule and American largesse, however, had not been considered worth saving.

Decades of Torture and Repression

Iranian student demonstration in Tehran, December 15, 1979

(Mohammad Sayad/AP)


The Shah’s Organisation of Intelligence and National Security, known by its Farsi acronym SAVAK, acted as the dictator’s personal secret police force, was tasked with suppressing dissent and opposition to the monarchy.  Created in 1957 with the help of American and Israeli intelligence agents, the SAVAK grew in size and brutality and, as journalist Marsha Cohen points out, included “thousands of informers, censorship, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and widespread torture and assassination of political opponents. A censorship office monitored journalists, academics and writers, and kept a watchful eye on students. The penalty for possession of forbidden books included interrogation, torture and long term imprisonment.”

In 1976, according to Amnesty International, the Shah’s Iran had the “highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.”  The report concluded, “No country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran.”  The number of political prisoners detained at any given point was reportedly “anything between 25,000 and 100,000.”

The same year, renowned Iranian poet and author Reza Baraheni wrote in New York Review of Books, “The CIA re-created the monarchy, built up the SAVAK and trained all its prominent members, and stood by the Shah and his secret police as their powerful ally. Iran became the police state it is now.”

He continued:

Thousands of men and women have been summarily executed during the last twenty-three years. More than 300,000 people have been in and out of prison during the last nineteen years of the existence of SAVAK; an average of 1,500 people are arrested every month. In one instance alone, American-trained counterinsurgency troops of the Iranian Army and SAVAK killed more than 6,000 people on June 5, 1963.

In another article, Baraheni wrote that “[c]orruption is so widespread that threats of jailing, even shooting, cannot solve the problem, because at the heart of corruption are the Shah himself and the royal family.”

The Associated Press also ran a story about the abusive, and sometimes lethal, treatment of prisoners by the SAVAK as reported by the Red Cross, which had gained access to “5,000 inmates in 37 jails and prisons” over three separate visits to Iran between March 1977 and February 1978.

Both the United States and Israel played a large role in the SAVAK’s activities.  As Robert Fisk points out in his book The Great War For Civilisation, “A permanent secret US mission was attached to Savak headquarters.”

Jesse Leaf, a former high-level CIA analyst in Iran until his resignation in 1973,revealed years later “that the CIA sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK” in seminars that “were based on German torture techniques from World War II.”  While no Americans admitted to witnessing torture, Leaf recalled “seeing and being told of people who were there seeing the rooms and being told of torture. And I know that the torture rooms were toured and it was all paid for by the USA.”  When asked why none of the American agents protested such brutality, Leaf explained, “Why should we protest? We were on their side, remember?”

“Methods of interrogation” often used by SAVAK, writes Fisk, “included – apart from the conventional electric wires attached to genitals, beating on the soles of feet and nail extraction—rape and ‘cooking,’ the latter a self-explanatory form of suffering in which the victim was strapped to a bed of wire that was then electrified to become a red-hot toaster…They recorded that the inmates had been beaten, burned with cigarettes and chemicals, tortured with electrodes, raped, sodomised with bottles and boiling eggs.   Interrogators forced electric cables into the uterus of female prisoners.  The Red Cross report named 124 prisoners who had died under torture.”

According to Iranian scholar R.K. Ramazani, “Mossad was totally identified with the Shah’s CIA-created SAVAK. This was the principal instrument of the regime’s repressive measures, which included  physically punishing religious and secular political dissidents by electric shock, tearing out of fingernails and toenails, rape, and genital torture.”

The Mossad connection was confirmed earlier this year by CBS News’ Dan Raviv and Israeli journalist Yossi Melman in their book Spies Against Armageddon, in which they reveal, “Israeli intelligence trained Savak, the Shah’s brutal secret police and espionage service. As part of the compensation, the Shah allowed the Mossad to operate on his soil as a base for recruiting agents in Iraq and other countries. Iran even provided documentation to enhance the Israelis’ cover stories.”


In early January 1980, an Associated Press report noted that the “Iranian militants…holding some 50 Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran…say they will not release them until Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is returned to Iran to stand trial on charges of corruption and other crimes – including the reported torture.”  The article continued, “The Iranian government has demanded an international hearing of its grievances against the shah and his former government.”

When asked about these demands by the press, President Carter replied:

I don’t know of any international forum within which charges have ever been brought against a deposed leader who has left his country. There have been instances of changing governments down through the centuries in history, and I don’t know of any instance where such a leader, who left his country after his government fell, has been tried in an international court or in an international forum…

But as I said earlier, I don’t think there’s any forum that will listen to the Iranians make any sort of claim, justified or not, as long as they hold against their will and abuse the hostages, in complete contravention to every international law and every precept or every commitment or principle of humankind.

Within three weeks of the Embassy takeover, about a dozen women and African-Americans were released by the Iranian students in what Khomeini called an act ofsolidarity with oppressed minority groups in the U.S.  Later, a sick hostage was also released. None of the hostages were killed.

Open Hands and Iron Fists

The remaining 52 American hostages were released upon the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, in accordance with the Algiers Accord, an agreement signed by both Iran and the United States.

Shortly after the hostage-taking, President Carter imposed sanctions upon Iranand had frozen billions of dollars of Iranian government assets in an act that one U.S. official described as “economic and political warfare.” The Accord assured Iran that all assets would be returned; to date, the U.S. has never complied with this agreement.

The Accord also affirms, as its primary point, that the “United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

Since then, not only did the U.S. government renege on this promise two years later when it again imposed sanctions on Iran, it has continued to violate the agreement through relentless and inhumane economic warfaredronesurveillancecovert operationssupport for Iranian terrorist groups, and cyberattacks, not to mention the sporadic murder of Iranian civilians.

In March 2009, President Obama delivered a Nowruz message to Iranians and their government in which he declared that his new “administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community” and affirmed that the “process will not be advanced by threats.” Just nine days before this message, however, Obama had announced the extension of economic sanctions on Iran imposed by President Clinton in March 1995 and were set to expire.

Subsequently, Obama has imposed ever more brutal sanctions on the Iranianpeopleincreased arms sales to Iran’s Middle East neighbors, substantially built-upAmerica’s own armaments and warship presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Oceanexpanded covert operations in the region (and in Iran specifically), and hasconsistently maintained the aggressive posture that “all options are on the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran, code for the willingness of the American executive to commit the supreme international crime of launching a voluntary war.

Nevertheless, this weekend, moviegoers will be treated to a full dose of Western diplomats running scared from angry Middle Eastern mobs, unwitting victims of seemingly irrational rage. Even though Argo‘s audience will obviously be rooting for the daring rescue to succeed, it’s still essential to understand what all those Iranians might have been so upset about.

Written FOR

GUNTER GRASS DOES IT AGAIN! ~~ LAUDS VANUNU AS A ‘ROLE MODEL’

 Image by Bendib
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Germany’s Gunter Grass defends Vanunu in new poem


Nobel laureate praises Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed Israeli nuke program, as “hero” because exposed the truth to the public.
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Gunter Grass

PHOTO: REUTERS

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Gunter Grass, the Nobel Prize laureate in literature who is barred from entering Israel because of his anti-Israel writings and membership in the Nazi Waffen SS, launched a second poetic attack on Israel by praising atomic spy Mordechai Vanunu.

In a new book of poems titled Eintagsfliegen, which was released on Saturday in Germany, Grass terms Vanunu, a former worker at the Dimona nuclear facility, a “hero” for his decision to transfer secret information to England’s Sunday Times in 1986. An Israeli court later convicted Vanunu of espionage and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

In the poem titled “Hero of our days,” Grass praises him as a “model” because “he helped to bring the truth” to the public.

The Nobel laureate garnered fierce criticism from Israel, as well as from German politicians and many journalists, for another poem published last April titled “What must be said.” In it he blamed Israel for endangering world peace and accused the Jewish state of seeking to obliterate Iran.

Severe sanctions were placed on Vanunu after his 2004 release from prison. In their new book Spies Against Armageddon, Israeli journalist Yossi Melman and CBS News correspondent Dan Raviv write that “Shin Bet and Malmab [the director of security for Israel’s defense community] claimed that he continued to be a security risk because of the knowledge in his head. Thus, they insisted that he banned from leaving Israel and his movements were restricted.”

German media blanketed Saturday’s coverage of Grass’s new attack on Israel. The television station n-tv wrote on its website “Grass attacks Israel again,” and the daily Die Weltwrote on its own website “Grass provokes Israel with new book of poems.”

In his new poem, Grass writes about Vanunu’s upbringing in Beersheba as the son of a rabbi, who “pursued the study of the Torah’s rules and then decided to convert to Christianity.” He depicts Vanunu as being in the same predicament as the biblical Joseph and how his brothers tossed him into a cistern.

TOONS TO BRIGHTEN YOUR WEEKEND

Bibi’s visit to the UN as seen by Carlos Latuff …
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And the ‘Red Line’ as seen by Bendib …
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Here’s the speech that inspired the above works …
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NETANYAHU: THEN AND NOW

The beast then …
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The beast now …
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That Was Now, This Is Then: Netanyahu Edition

Nima Shirazi 

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“Would I counsel, necessarily, a preemptive strike on Iran? I’m not sure. I would be very careful about that.”

- Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

Journalist Jim Lobe has done a tremendous service to those of us who follow the warmongering propaganda of American and Israeli officials over the Iranian nuclear program.  This week, Lobe reminded us of the testimony then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on September 12, 2002 in which he marshaled nearly every hackneyed talking point about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorists and the benefits of regime change in an effort to push the United States to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

Six months later, he got his wish.

While Lobe has already masterfully laid out the ignorant assumptions, egregious lies, hysterical hasbara, and shameful bellicosity of Netanyahu’s performance, it should also be noted that, when it comes to trying to bully the United States into setting “red lines” or even perhaps initiating a war of aggression, thereby committing once again – in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal – “the supreme international crime,” Netanyahu has stuck to the same script for a decade now.

Of course, as we all know, then it was Iraq and now it is Iran.  In his frenzied and frustrated warmongering efforts, Netanyahu has apparently forgotten to come up with some new zingers, instead hoping that what worked for him in 2002 would work again in 2012 (spoiler: it won’t).

Here are some of his greatest hits.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“[I]t is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’tfeverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, April 18, 2012:

“Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weaponsto achieve that goal.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“How imminent is it [the threat from Iraq]? Look, do you want to wait and find out?  The answer is no.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 11, 2012

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ and I say, ‘Wait for what, wait until when?’…The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

“[Iraq] happens to be one of the two – now, as we know, one of the three – regimes that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“And for me, the issue is, as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a brutal regime in Tehran that isracing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, March 5, 2012:

“For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Every indication we have is that he [Saddam] is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. We know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:  

“There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and isworking and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever.”

During a March 7, 2012 interview on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Netayahu about the case for illegally attacking Iran in light of what the world now knows about the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.  “Do you have any doubt they [Iran] have a nuclear weapons program?,” Van Susteren wondered.  The Israeli Prime Minister replied: “I think there is no question.”

Van Susteren continued, “[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

The response from Netanyahu was immediate.  It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years earlier.  He told Van Susteren:

“First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

Over the past decade, Israel has made great strides in recycling.  In regurgitating his jingoistic talking points from a decade ago urging an illegal military assault on yet another Middle Eastern nation, there is no question Netanyahu is leading that charge.

Written FOR

SURVIVORS OF HIROSHIMA BOMBING WARN ISRAEL AGAINST WAR

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“When one considers an atom bomb, one thinks only of the mushroom,” says Sharon Dolev, founder and director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, who is hosting Miaki and three other survivors. “People don’t discuss the days and years that follow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted them to come here, to create a discourse that doesn’t exist in Israel. We talk about Iran, but don’t really pause to consider the consequences.”
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Remembering Hiroshima: Four survivors bring message to the Middle East

Nobuo Miaki arrived in Israel with three other survivors to warn against the horror of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons, whether Iranian or Israeli.

By Oz Rosenberg
Hiroshima survivors visiting in Israel last week.
Hiroshima survivors visiting in Israel last week.
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On the morning of August 6th, 1945, Nobuo Miaki, a thin 16-year-old was on the tram on the way to meet his mother on the other side of Hiroshima. It was eight o’clock, when suddenly a powerful flash hit the crowded tram. He later understood that this was the first of two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. Sixty-seven years later, he is still haunted by that morning. This week, Miaki arrived in Israel with three other survivors to warn against the horror of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons, whether Iranian or Israeli.

“Within a second the tram was filled by a blue, blinding flash,” Miaki recalled this week in Jerusalem. “I understood something terrible happened, but I thought it was a short circuit. Fortunately, I was standing next to the exit and I jumped out without thinking.”

A second later there was an explosion and all the glass windows crashed on the people inside. “Many people were hurt, but I was relatively unscathed,” Miaki recalls. “I shut my eyes, and then found it hard to open them due to the dust and dirt. I asked myself if I’m dead or alive. Only when the dust settled down I managed to open my eyes and see the terrible destruction around me.”

Miaki ran all the way to the house where his mother was, and the sights he encountered on the way are still with him: “People whose skin was dripping off their bodies, horrendous burns, and since people didn’t want their arms to be glued to their bodies they raised them up. Everyone seemed inhuman, like aliens or ghosts, all walking and shouting, ‘I’m hot, I’m in pain.’ Everyone was looking for water.”

When he reached the house he found one of the neighbors trying to save his mother from the ruins. She was alive but her back was broken. “Only then did I raise my head. I suddenly noticed there weren’t any houses left. Everything was destroyed. I could see a clear view of the distant mountains.” People started screaming around him that a huge fire was rapidly approaching from the center of the city. “I hauled my mother on my back and started running. A military truck with seriously wounded people went by. My mother didn’t suffer severe burns, because she was protected by the walls, but they took her with them on account of her broken back. I was alone again.”

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Miaki then went to the Hiroshima River to wash himself. “It was full of corpses,” he recalls. “They probably tried to cool themselves but fell in and drowned.” In the following days many of his friends and relatives died as there was no one left to take care of them. “The hospitals burned down, and the doctors were killed. There were no medicines, and even if there were, there was no one left to hand them out.”

Throughout the years many other friends and relatives died, most of them due to sicknesses, mainly cancer, caused by the radiation. In the 1980s Miaki decided to join the group of the bombs’ survivors – Hibakusha, in Japanese – and dedicate his life to raising world consciousness about the horrors of nuclear weapons.

“When Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be forgotten, history will repeat itself,” he says. “Since 1945 the world was close to a nuclear war several times, but it didn’t happen. We believe we have some part in that. Antiwar campaigns can help prevent another nuclear war.”

“When one considers an atom bomb, one thinks only of the mushroom,” says Sharon Dolev, founder and director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, who is hosting Miaki and three other survivors. “People don’t discuss the days and years that follow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted them to come here, to create a discourse that doesn’t exist in Israel. We talk about Iran, but don’t really pause to consider the consequences.”

Japan now has a new nuclear headache, North Korea. “Honestly, as to Iran and Israel I was unaware of the issue until I came here,” says Nobuko Sugino, 68, “but Iran is presented in a negative light, in a similar way to how the Japanese media depict North Korea.”

North Korea, as opposed to Iran, already has nuclear weapons, since 2005. Miaki doesn’t believe Japan will be attacked by nuclear weapons, and points out that since there are so many nuclear power plants in Japan that could serve as targets, “a regular bomb would have more of less the same effect.”

The Japanese constitution forbids the state to produce nuclear weapons, “but we’re also against nuclear power plants,” says Miaki. “The public is increasingly opposed to the plants, especially since the Fukushima disaster a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, the politicians have an interest not to phase out the plants, because they help foster political tension that benefits them.”

Miaki and his friends continued on their journey in the Middle East, but it seems that as the years pass, their mission becomes more difficult. The Hiroshima survivors – 220,000 according to official data – understand that they must lower their expectations regarding full nuclear disarmament. Like Holocaust survivors, with whom they met last week, they must fight forgetfulness first. “Most Japanese have never experienced war,” says Miaki. “That’s wonderful, but it also causes indifference.”

 

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