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October 01, 2009

Have we learned from Iraq after all?

These are the answers to Sunday's matching quiz:
1. B; 2. C; 3. D; 4. A

Click HERE to see the background and discussion below.

Now, for a nightmare headline--that is if you are a U.S. or Israeli reactionary who was hoping the "September surprise" enrichment plant "revelations" would leverage a more damaging attack on the Iranian population:

Iran agrees to open up uranium enrichment plant to inspection
Provisional deal offers hope of defusing crisis
Julian Borger in Geneva |, Thursday 1 October 2009 20.39 BST
Iran agreed in principle today to export much of its stock of enriched uranium for processing and to open its newly-revealed enrichment plant to UN inspections within a fortnight.

The agreements, struck at negotiations in Geneva with six major powers, represented the most significant progress in talks with Tehran in over three years, and offered hope that the nuclear crisis could be defused, at least temporarily.

Western officials cautioned that the preliminary agreements could unravel in negotiations over the details. But if the deals were completed, it would push back the looming threat of further sanctions and possible military action.
Of course this news reads a little different from U.S.-based sources: "Obama: Iran Must Follow Through on Nuke Promises."

Maybe this does make Obama look a bit more rational and able to manage disparate global interests than the Republicans, especially last year's losers, as Rachel Maddow pointed out HERE. Maybe Obama is playing a clever game to defuse the more bloodthirsty elements occupying Washington and Jerusalem.

But somehow I don't think the threat of U.S.-approved violence against the Iranian people is over. It appears the Iranians have played a card the Americans did not expect they would--the agreed to outsource uranium enrichment. This was a proposal floated as early as the 2004 presidential campaign by the Democrats. I've written about this before, back when John Edwards still was a viable candidate:
On the essential aspects of "militarism and oil-driven expansionism," it seems to me quite clear that calls to "negotiate" with Iran ring hollow. Walking a tightrope while recognizing that very few in America, especially in Democratic primaries, are particularly in a mood to jump into a bigger war, Edwards appeared to be conciliatory in a recent interview with Ezra Klein of The American Prospect. The trouble is, there is really no aspect of US imperial policy in the Middle East that possibly could be conceded in a negotiation with Iran, and Edwards failed to offer such.

In that Klein interview, Edwards explains what America would ?give? Iran. They would be allowed to have a nuclear fuel cycle, controlled by Washington. Presumably Iran would be also be allowed to pay its oh-so-?hard? oil $ in exchange for these benefits brought to it by the elite technocratic contracting entities in the multinational Nuclear Suppliers Group. Also, Iran would get economic "help," presumably from a dose of neoliberal medicine. If I were Iranian, that deal would be totally a non-starter.
I may have been proven wrong here. I hope so, if it means that an attack on Iran and the counter measures Iran would almost certainly take do not happen. But unfortunately I'm not quite ready to believe the forces lined up against Iran are going to stand down just yet.

Background and discussion
  1. Dr. Khadir Hamza, April 1999. Hamza supposedly was "bomb maker" for Saddam Hussein before defecting in 1994. But the information supplied by Hamza was treated in standard news reporting (through the latter 1990s right up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq) with none of the skepticism it should have been. Alexander Cockburn explained in Counterpunch, November 2002:
    Cockburn: However, not everyone takes Hamza at his own estimation as "Saddam's bombmaker." In his forceful debunking of the Iraqi threat, former senior weapon inspector Scott Ritter states flatly in "War on Iraq," that Hamza "wasn't a designer and he certainly wasn't head of the program.... [He] is not who he says he is." David Albright, a Washington-based expert on nuclear proliferation who helped give Hamza initial credibility, recently claimed that Hamza exaggerated his own importance in the Iraqi program and recycled information he had picked up from the press, including specious revelations about biological and chemical weapons, as his own firsthand knowledge. Despite such reservations, Hamza still finds a respectful hearing among journalists and Congress, despite the lack of confirmation from other sources. It is telling that, while the United States detected a North Korean uranium enrichment program in its early stages, the administration has been unable, despite huge effort, to uncover hard evidence -- which it would quite certainly broadcast -- of any similar Iraqi activity.

    Ritter, meanwhile, a hero among the hawks, is now vilified, when he is not ignored, because of his assertions, backed up by detailed information from his days as a star weapon inspector, that the former U.N. inspection effort effectively destroyed all Hussein's weapons of mass destruction as well as his means for constructing them. The very fact of Ritter's relative obscurity nowadays, compared to people with more palatable messages, such as Hamza, points to the lack of any real debate on the official justifications for the proposed invasion.

  2. David Albright and Robert Kelley, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 1995. The proper title of their article was "Has Iraq come clean at last?." It included a discussion of the debriefing of the late Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and the most celebrated of the Iraqi defectors of the mid 1990s. There is a lot of technical detail in the piece, very worthwhile. It is explained throughout that Iraq's nuclear suppliers were western countries. It's also pretty clear that Iraq was not trying to build a bomb in the 1990s. But the tendency was that this kind of information was seized upon with a "can't take any chances" zeal. (By the time Cheney came back in in 2001, that got leveraged into war and occupation.)

    Just this past Friday, Albright comes on the PBS News Hour with this little piece of "come clean" or else:
    Well, it's going to be very hard. But, you know, one hopes that the intelligence information is truly solid. And then, if Iran does not cooperate with the inspectors, they're going to be in a far worse political position.

    Because it's one thing for the world, the international community, other nations to look and decide, is Iran going to build nuclear weapons in the future? They're much less interested in that. But they're always very concerned if a country refuses to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to do their job when it concerns a facility that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

    And so if Iran doesn't come clean with this facility by letting the inspectors in, I think it's going to face a very hard time fighting off sanctions.

  3. Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, on Meet the Press, March 16, 2003, the same day we held THIS FORUM in Bangor. The Dark Lord would not hear our pleas. I guess not much more needs to be said.

  4. President George H. W. Bush, at a news conference mainly about termination of sanctions against South Africa on July 10, 1991.


Greenwald some interesting remarks on Friday concerning the double standard that allows Israel to keep an openly secret nuclear arsenal:

Posted by The Owl on October 06, 2009 at 14:55
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