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Freedoms Watch


Anonymous said...

After all the errors the Bush administration committed, like these:

In his continuing effort to bolster support for the Iraq war, President Bush traveled to Reno, Nevada, on August 28 to speak to the annual convention of the American Legion. He emphatically warned of the Iranian threat should the United States withdraw from Iraq. Said the President, "For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country."


The U.S. did not directly intervene, but American jets flew overhead in support of the government security forces. As elsewhere in the south, those Iraqi forces are dominated by the Badr Organization, a militia founded, trained, armed, and financed by Iran. When U.S. forces ousted Saddam's regime from the south in early April 2003, the Badr Organization infiltrated from Iran to fill the void left by the Bush administration's failure to plan for security and governance in post-invasion Iraq.

In the months that followed, the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appointed Badr Organization leaders to key positions in Iraq's American-created army and police. At the same time, L. Paul Bremer's CPA appointed party officials from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) to be governors and serve on governorate councils throughout southern Iraq. SCIRI, recently renamed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), was founded at the Ayatollah Khomeini's direction in Tehran in 1982. The Badr Organization is the militia associated with SCIRI.

In the January 2005 elections, SCIRI became the most important component of Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition. In exchange for not taking the prime minister's slot, SCIRI won the right to name key ministers, including the minister of the interior. From that ministry, SCIRI placed Badr militiamen throughout Iraq's national police.

In short, George W. Bush had from the first facilitated the very event he warned would be a disastrous consequence of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq: the takeover of a large part of the country by an Iranian-backed militia. And while the President contrasts the promise of democracy in Iraq with the tyranny in Iran, there is now substantially more personal freedom in Iran than in southern Iraq.


Of all the unintended consequences of the Iraq war, Iran's strategic victory is the most far-reaching. In establishing the border between the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire in 1639, the Treaty of Qasr-i-Shirin demarcated the boundary between Sunni-ruled lands and Shiite-ruled lands. For eight years of brutal warfare in the 1980s, Iran tried to breach that line but could not. (At the time, the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein precisely because it feared the strategic consequences of an Iraq dominated by Iran's allies.) The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq accomplished what Khomeini's army could not. Today, the Shiite-controlled lands extend to the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain, a Persian Gulf kingdom with a Shiite majority and a Sunni monarch, is most affected by these developments; but so is Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, which is home to most of the kingdom's Shiites. (They may even be a majority in the province but this is unknown as Saudi Arabia has not dared to conduct a census.) The U.S. Navy has its most important Persian Gulf base in Bahrain while most of Saudi Arabia's oil is under the Eastern Province.

America's Iraq quagmire has given new life to Iran's Syrian ally, Bashir Assad. In 2003, the Syrian Baathist regime seemed an anachronism unable to survive the region's political and economic changes. Today, Assad appears firmly in control, having even recovered from the opprobrium of having his regime caught red-handed in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In Lebanon, Hezbollah enjoys greatly enhanced stature for having held off the Israelis in the 2006 war. As Hezbollah's sponsor and source of arms, Iran now has an influence both in the Levant and in the Arab-Israeli conflict that it never before had.

Your gov't had no choice but to accept an antagonist of Israel as Prime Minister:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush’s position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.

“The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure,” Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. “I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”

Face it, the US is putting lipstick on a pig by spinning the "success" of the surge, when such success is actually contingent on the good will of your enemies:

Among several factors leading to the reduced violence, Petraeus pointed to what he called the decision by "a majority . . . of the militia" associated with Sadr to honor a cease-fire.

In striking contrast to the U.S. military's previous wariness -- if not hostility -- toward the young firebrand cleric, Petraeus praised Sadr personally for "working to rid his movement of criminal elements" and making a "pledge of honor" to uphold the cease-fire announced in August. He said the United States is in indirect dialogue with "senior members" of Sadr's organization to maintain the cease-fire.

"The Sadr trend stands for service to the people," and the goal is for Sadr and his followers to become "constructive partners in the way ahead," Petraeus said in an interview with defense reporters traveling with Gates.

Earlier this year, U.S. military and defense officials said Sadr had been weakened and his organization fragmented since the cleric left for Iran before the start of the boost in U.S. troops, apparently out of fear of being targeted.

"I wouldn't say he has been marginalized," Petraeus said Thursday. "He very much maintains contacts with his leaders and continues to give direction. . . . And there is an effort ongoing to try to get a grip on some of the nefarious actors who are associated with his movement."

Meanwhile, Sadr's rhetoric remains as anti-American as ever. "I speak to the head of evil Bush, go out of our land, we don't need you or your armies, the armies of darkness, your aircrafts, tanks . . . your fake freedom," said a statement issued under Sadr's name two days ago.

The cease-fire has helped U.S. and Iraqi forces target Shiite extremist groups, many of them based in Baghdad's large Shiite enclave of Sadr City, that continue to launch attacks despite the Sadr order. U.S. commanders have long sought to expand the presence of security forces inside Sadr City, which is now effectively controlled by Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army.

Eagle said...

The difference between living with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear Iran is that the Soviet Union was not suicidal; the Soviet Union was not threatening the destruction of another nation or looking for a great catastrophe to preclude the coming of some magical prophet.

It should be no surprise that there are "black" operations to destabilize the Iranian government. There are worse options: US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure.

Statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs: REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES OF U.S. MILITARY ACTION IN IRAN

Iran is fighting a "proxy war" through Shi'a militias against the Iraqi state and United States-led forces in the war-torn nation

From the Iran Freedom Initiative: Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes the single greatest challenge to American objectives in the Middle East, and to long-term success in the Global War on Terror.

The Iraqis do not appreciate the meddling of it's neighbors.

The US military is planning to build its first base near Iraq's border with Iran in order to curb the alleged flow of weapons to Shia militants in Iraq.

You say there is "more personal freedom in Iran"?

Iran Cracks Down on Dissent

Details of Iran Government's Crackdown

Iranian students report crackdown

'Mass purges' at Iran universities

The Iranian government has announced a campaign against rap music

Crackdown in Iran over dress codes

Iran police move into fashion business

Maliki's condemnation of the attacks on Lebanon does not make him an "antagonist of Israel," it means that he, like a lot of people, did not support the military action.

The undeniable success of the surge cannot be attributed to the goodwill of Moqtada al-Sadr, although the cease-fire was certainly positive. "The Sadr trend stands for service to the people," and the goal is for Sadr and his followers to become "constructive partners in the way ahead," Petraeus said in an interview with defense reporters traveling with Gates.

Earlier this year, U.S. military and defense officials said Sadr had been weakened and his organization fragmented since the cleric left for Iran before the start of the boost in U.S. troops, apparently out of fear of being targeted.

Anonymous said...

Don't bet the farm on it. History will show which one of us is correct (I will make periodic visits just to remind you).

You say there is "more personal freedom in Iran"?

I didn't say a thing. I provided documentation to that effect. The author of the report I cited alleged that, and I (obviously) agreed with him. Please don't leave out the crucial part (to suit your agenda). That is very dishonest of you, to say the least. The true (you claim you know what truth is, eh?) statement is "more personal freedom in Iran THAN IN SOUTHERN IRAQ". You say you need more evidence? It has been in the news for quite some time. Bush enabled SCIRI to gain power, now you have Sharia law in southern Iraq. Go figure.

Furthermore, I find your allegations laughable. There is evidence that even Petreus & Co. on the ground are far more advanced in their interpretation of the situation than you yourself are. Again, former Ambassador Peter Galbraith concludes:

The United States cannot now undo President Bush's strategic gift to Iran. But importantly, the most pro-Iranian Shiite political party is the one least hostile to the United States. In the battle now underway between the SIIC and Moqtada al-Sadr for control of southern Iraq and of the central government in Baghdad, the United States and Iran are on the same side. The U.S. has good reason to worry about Iran's activities in Iraq. But contrary to the Bush administration's allegations -- supported by both General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in their recent congressional testimony -- Iran does not oppose Iraq's new political order. In fact, Iran is the major beneficiary of the American-induced changes in Iraq since 2003.

A bit of advice to you: Try to track down writings by people that are well connected with reality instead of some fantasy that can only exist on your game-boy console. In fact, I'll do you a big favor and provide a snippet of one:

Summary: The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.
….A U.S. containment strategy that assumes broad Arab solidarity is unsound in theory.

For close to half a century, the Arab world saw Iraq's military as its bulwark in the Persian Gulf. Having dismantled that force in 2003, the United States is now the only power present in the Gulf that can contain Iran militarily. Shouldering that responsibility effectively would mean maintaining large numbers of troops in the region indefinitely. But given the anti-American sentiment pervading all of the Gulf today, none of the states in the region (except for Kuwait) could countenance the redeployment of a substantial number of U.S. forces in their territory. Thus, Washington would have to rely on weaker regional actors to contain a rising Iran, which is the largest country in the Persian Gulf in terms of size, population, and economy. Even major arms sales to the Gulf states could not change this reality.

Washington's reliance on reviving the Middle East peace process as the linchpin of its strategy to contain Iran is also problematic. Bush administration officials are assuming that resumed diplomacy between Israel and its neighbors will assuage the Arab street, rally Arab governments behind the United States, and lay the groundwork for a united Arab-Israeli front against Iran. But this hope disregards the fact that in their current state, Palestinian and Israeli politics will not support the types of compromises necessary for a credible breakthrough. Both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are too weak to press their constituencies toward the painful concessions that a viable peace compact would require. The expectations of Arab leaders far exceed those of Israel and the United States: while they have been openly demanding final-status negotiations, Secretary Rice has been talking only about creating momentum toward peace.

Even if the peace process can be successfully relaunched, the notion that Arabs see the rise of Iran as a bigger problem than the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict is misplaced. After years of enmity, the Arab masses and Arab opinion-makers continue to perceive Israel as a more acute threat. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad understands this well: he has been raising the heat on the Palestinian issue precisely because he wants to make headway among the Arab people and understands that they do not share the anti-Iranian sentiment of their governments. Along with his inflammatory denunciations of Israel and Tehran's assistance to Hamas and Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad's embrace of an Arab cause has garnered him ample support among the rank and file. In fact, Tehran enjoys significant soft power in the Middle East today. Washington assumes that its proposals regarding the Arab-Israeli peace process will redirect everyone's worries toward Iran; Tehran believes that current efforts will not satiate Arab demands. A careful reading of the region's mood reveals that Iran is on firmer ground than the United States.

Indeed, it is not the Palestinian issue that will decide the balance of power in the Middle East but the fate of the failing states of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, where Iranian influence has found ample room to expand. The Palestinian issue remains important to Israel's security, stability in the Levant, and the United States' image and prestige. It is also a catalyst for regional rivalries. But the Palestinian issue is not the original cause of those regional contests, nor will it decide their outcome. For all its worrying about Iran's growing power, Washington has failed to appreciate that the center of gravity in the Middle East has indeed shifted from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. It is now more likely that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf would bring peace and stability to the Levant than the other way around….

The last time the United States rallied the Arab world to contain Iran, in the 1980s, Americans ended up with a radicalized Sunni political culture that eventually yielded al Qaeda. The results may be as bad this time around: a containment policy will only help erect Sunni extremism as an ideological barrier to Shiite Iran, much as Saudi Arabia's rivalry with Iran in the 1980s played out in South Asia and much as radical Salafis mobilized to offset Hezbollah's soaring popularity after the Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006. During the Cold War, confronting communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy. Containing Iran today would mean promoting Sunni extremism — a self-defeating proposition for Washington….

But envisioning that a grand U.S.-Arab-Israeli alliance can contain Iran will sink Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon into greater chaos; inflame Islamic radicalism; and commit the United States to a lengthy and costly presence in the Middle East.


Instead of focusing on restoring a former balance of power, the United States would be wise to aim for regional integration and foster a new framework in which all the relevant powers would have a stake in a stable status quo. The Bush administration is correct to sense that a truculent Iran poses serious challenges to U.S. concerns, but containing Iran through military deployment and antagonistic alliances simply is not a tenable strategy. Iran is not, despite common depictions, a messianic power determined to overturn the regional order in the name of Islamic militancy; it is an unexceptionally opportunistic state seeking to assert predominance in its immediate neighborhood. Thus, the task at hand for Washington is to create a situation in which Iran will find benefit in limiting its ambitions and in abiding by international norms.

Dialogue, compromise, and commerce, as difficult as they may be, are convincing means. An acknowledgment by the U.S. government that Tehran does indeed have legitimate interests and concerns in Iraq could get the two governments finally to realize that they have similar objectives: both want to preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq and prevent the civil war there from engulfing the Middle East. Resuming diplomatic and economic relations between Iran and the United States, as well as collaborating on Iraq, could also be the precursor of an eventual arrangement subjecting Iran's nuclear program to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If Iran enjoyed favorable security and commercial ties with the United States and was at ease in its region, it might restrain its nuclear ambitions.

In short, the writing is on the wall everywhere. Whether you want to believe it or not is not my problem. It is yours. Whether you wish to heed it or not, however, is of little consequence to the way things are going.

Merry Christmas :-)

Eagle said...

It is one thing to post articles from (Tom Engelhardt created and runs the website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow). The Nation Institute states that "the Institute promotes progressive values on a variety of media platforms."

Progressive values? Enough said.

"Try to track down writings by people that are well connected with reality instead of some fantasy" - I tend to give more weight to the top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus than to former US Ambassador to Croatia Peter W. Galbraith. But to his credit: "In the late 1980s, Galbraith helped expose Saddam Hussein's murderous "al-anfal" campaign against the Iraqi Kurds. He documented Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Kurdish villagers and the depopulation of rural Kurdistan in reports published by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His work on the Kurdish issue led the US Senate to pass comprehensive sanctions on Iraq in 1988."

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. That is why I included the Foreign Affairs article. ...And for more evidence of a move of the US administration towards the abovementioned FA article "viewpoint":

Both conservative and liberal pundits see the {NIE] report as so weakening the White House that the U.S. may have no option but to more aggressively seek direct talks with Iran. Even some U.S. diplomats are seizing on the hope that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could use the intelligence report to open up talks with the West...

In addition to the report on Iran, Washington's sudden opening to Syria and President Bashar Assad has also stunned many diplomats and foreign-policy analysts. For most of the past six years, the White House viewed Damascus as among its most intractable foes in the Middle East...

In recent weeks, though, the U.S. has displayed a growing willingness to talk with Syrian leaders. Damascus's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad addressed the Annapolis peace summit last month, just weeks after it was uncertain that the State Department would even invite the Syrians. And U.S. officials say they are considering backing a Russian initiative to promote direct peace talks between the Syrians and the Israelis.

Stay tuned...

Anonymous said...

Ummm, by the way, what I just got finished quoting was from the Wall Street Journal, which is not quite your "Institute of progressive values on a variety of media platforms".

Eagle said...

World powers set to discuss Iran sanctions Tuesday
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World powers will hold talks on Tuesday over finalizing the text of a third U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran which could be voted on in the coming weeks, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday.

Draft U.N. Resolution on Iran Calls for Sanctions
A draft United Nations resolution on Iran circulating among the world's major powers calls for new sanctions against the elite Quds Force and a top Iranian bank as well as "restraint" and "vigilance" on the supply, sale or transfer of all arms to Iran, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

The draft, to be discussed tomorrow by political experts from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, recommends freezing the assets of entities and individuals suspected of engaging in nuclear proliferation and weapons delivery systems or violating two earlier U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions, the sources said. It also calls for a travel ban -- prohibiting entry or transit in all U.N. member countries -- for many of the same people.

Anonymous said...

This is the conclusion raised at the "strategic dialogue" conference which took place last week in New York under the auspices of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel and the American Council on Foreign Relations. Although all participants presented their personal opinions, one got the impression they were expressing the accepted establishment views of their countries.


The message of the American participants in the meeting was clear: Neither the U.S. nor Israel has a military option against Iran. Bombing the nuclear facilities would cause oil prices to skyrocket and would only strengthen the extremists in Tehran. In their view, Iran would respond by hitting the American soldiers stationed in Iraq and the oil facilities in the Gulf, and would begin terrorist operations in America. The year 2008 is already lost, they believe, and one should wait quietly for the end of President Bush's term of office since he conditions dialogue with the Iranians on delaying their nuclear plans. Whoever comes after Bush, certainly if he is a Democrat, will throw these conditions into the trash and will strive for a quick dialogue with Iran.

Is Giuliani reading the same tea-leaves?

In one of the few questions dealing with policy matters, Giuliani, asked about his position vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear weapons program, made clear he had no intention to attack Iran if elected president. "Of course we don’t want to use the military option," Giuliani said, but quickly added, "It would be dangerous; it would be risky."


Gary Sick made the following interesting observations before the NIE was released:

Over the past several weeks, there has been a quiet process of apparent concessions and small gestures of approval between the United States and Iran in Iraq. General Petraeus told the Wall Street Journal that Iran "made promises at the highest levels of the Iranian government to the highest levels of the Iraqi government. These were unequivocal pledges to stop the funding, training, arming and directing of militia extremists in Iraq. It will be hugely significant to see if that's the case." Only a few weeks earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had noted that the discovery and use of improvised explosive devices (IED) of suspected Iranian origin in Iraq had declined, along with the general decline of violence associated with the U.S. military surge and new counter-insurgency tactics.
In between these two announcements, the U.S. military released nine Iranians who had been arrested and held for many months. Even more unusual was the fact that the release of these men, now officially labeled of "no continued intelligence value," had been reviewed only a few months earlier and rejected. Stranger still, they were identified as members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its special intelligence division, the Qods Brigade, which had just been officially designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Shortly thereafter, the Iraqi government announced that a fourth round of direct talks between the United States and Iran would take place in the near future.

Alea iacta est!

Eagle said...

Opinions pieces by Aluf Benn of Haartz really don't mean much. He has a habit of being wrong.

Dialogue with Iran is certainly preferable than more painful options.

Bush demands Iran explain nuke program

Iran threatens Mid-East, US says

On Rudy Giuliani's interview with Tim Russert... you should understand that Tim Russert is a notorious liberal, blindly opposed to any Republican. Anyhow, I think you misinterpreted Giuliani's response:

"Of course we don’t want to use the military option," Giuliani said, but quickly added, "It would be dangerous; it would be risky."

"But I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power," Giuliani explained. "We should utilize sanctions. We should utilize as much pressure as we’re capable of. But the fact that that is there, that military option is there -- not taken off the table -- ultimately increases the pressure, doesn’t it?"

Anonymous said...

Oh what fun you are!!!, saying:

Opinions pieces by Aluf Benn of Haartz really don't mean much. He has a habit of being wrong.

If I had the time to waste (quite frankly, you're not worth it), I would go back over what you yourself have claimed point for point in this blog over the past months, pointing out innumerable examples of your "predictions" going awry. What the US says is one thing. What occurs in reality is another (Remember Cheney's "last throes?" LOL!!! - Actually, I think it is the Bush Adm. that is currently in it's last throes). It should be obvious to all except the most blind that the US is not going to attack Iran. The most they will do is try to put sanctions in place. Will the Russians even go along with sanctions? doubtful. Will the Chinese go along with it? unlikely! Welcome to the new world where the US doesn't tell everyone else what to do.

Eagle said...

[Most embarrassing column?] Aluf Benn endorses Nasrallah days before attack

If I had the time to waste (quite frankly, you're not worth it), I would go back over what you yourself have claimed point for point in this blog over the past months, pointing out innumerable examples of your "predictions" going awry.

The problem is, you will not be able to point out anything at all.

But your alternative viewpoint is welcome, and especially welcome is any real information you may be able to provide.