Iran

The Total Collapse

I’m retired, so I get the opportunity to do quite a bit of reading.  One of the newsletter’s I subscribe to is “The Total Collapse.”  I find it offers quite a different perspective on foreign policy events than what we hear on the mainstream media channels (regardless of which one you listen to).  Here’s a list of articles from today’s newsletter:

Check out items 7 and 8.  Now that was a surprise this morning.  I thought we were trying to GET OUT of foreign wars!  If there’s truth in those articles, we could find ourselves in yet another never-ending mid-East conflict.  More specifically, it could be the start of yet another war, this time with IRAN.  Take the time and read those two articles.

2012-11-23: What I’ve been reading

Mexico Officials: Allowing GM Corn Will Devastate Crops

Lisa Garber, News Report: None of us here likely know who Bill Gates truly is at the end of the day. But let’s be frank: at best, he’s yet another one of the billions funding biotech and Big Ag propaganda. Does he truly believe that genetic modification comes without consequences. At worst, however, Gates, Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow simply do not care that farmers across the world commit suicide in the thousands after going bankrupt thanks to overpriced, ineffective GM seeds.

Go Ahead, Talk Religion and Politics at the Table

Robert Jensen, Op-Ed: It’s difficult not to take disagreements about sexual behavior personally, but we can cultivate the ability to consider not just our own choices but the social consequences. For example, on the contentious subject of pornography, instead of immediately defending or condemning the use of sexual material, we can ask: “What stories about sex and intimacy does pornography tell, and what is the effect of those stories?” That opens up the conversation.

Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Corporate Coup

Andrew Gavin Marshall, Investigation: Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. The agreement stipulates that foreign corporations operating in the United States would no longer be subject to domestic U.S. laws regarding protections for the environment, finance or labor rights, and could appeal to an “international tribunal” which would be given the power to overrule American law and impose sanctions on the U.S. for violating the new “rights” of corporations.

Incidents Raise Suspicions on Motive: Killing of Journalists by US Forces a Growing Problem

Dave Lindorff, Op-Ed: The ruthlessness of the slaying of journalists was exposed for all to see when the whistle-blower outfit Wikileaks released the now famous video it obtained from the gunsight camera of a US helicopter, whose crew opened up with machine gun fire on a group of men and two children in a Baghdad square. Two of those killed were cameramen working for Reuters. One of the two was literally hunted down and machine gunned after, already gravely wounded, he tried to crawl away, unarmed, to safety. The crew could be heard laughing as they killed him.

Change? Learn? Compromise? Grow? Not These Republicans

Joe Conason, Op-Ed: Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed any tax increase, especially on "those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,”

Amy Goodman | In Gaza, It’s the Occupation, Stupid

Amy Goodman, Op-Ed: “The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation,” award-winning Israeli journalist Gideon Levy summed up this week. It is that simple. This latest Israeli military assault on the people of Gaza is not an isolated event, but part of a 45-year occupation of the sliver of land wedged between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, where 1.6 million people live under a brutal Israeli blockade that denies them most of the basic necessities of life. Without the unwavering bipartisan support of the United States for the Israeli military, the occupation of Palestine could not exist.

10 Things Progressives Can Be Thankful For

News Report: We’re thankful for the advocates who protected our right to vote. The past few years saw a raft of new voter suppression laws and tactics, but most of the worst laws were blocked at least temporarily by the courts or repealed by lawmakers. The challenge going forward will be to maintain these victories as litigation in several of these cases continues and the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

Jim Hightower | Lord Help Us – Bosses Gone Berserk

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: The sky is falling! The end times are upon us! It’s all over for America! And it’s all because of you execrable voters. This is the wretched wail of a few corporate chieftains who claim to be somewhere between flummoxed and furious that Barack Obama is back in the White House. With his diabolical Obamacare and tax-the-rich attacks on us wealthy job creators, they moan, this president is out to destroy American business. "There’s a tsunami coming," cried one, so we must save ourselves.

Gaza Is A Pawn: Iran Is a Prize

Thomas Magstadt, Op-Ed: “None of the dead was the person the Israeli Defense Force said it was trying to kill when it struck the Dalu family house. It’s not clear that they had anything to do with him.” This is how Amy Davidson writing in the New Yorker describes one incident in the latest war between Israel and Gaza. It is a cliché to call it a tragedy, but what is missing in the reporting and what passes for mainstream “news analysis” is not the tragedy, but the travesty. The story line does not start or end with the status of Gaza or the Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands.

Homeland Security Has Spent $430 Million on Radios Its Employees Don’t Know How to Use

Theodoric Meyer, News Report: Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished. DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

President Obama Reelected – But Where Is the Pathway to Good Jobs?

Amy Dean, Op-Ed: With Barack Obama’s reelection last night, we witnessed the labor movement once again, as in every successful Democratic presidential race in recent decades, saving the president. Its ground troops and financial backing provided the bulwark to shore up Obama’s lead against Romney. By aiding in Obama’s victory, unions helped avert the crisis that the election of Romney/Ryan would have represented—an attack not only on organized labor, but on women’s rights and the whole of the social safety net.

Under the Reading Lamp — 3/12/2012



Physicians in Congress Committing Malpractice on Millions

imageWhat would you think if your physician told you, “Keep smoking because quitting would kill tobacco and health care jobs.” Or, “Don’t take your high blood pressure medicine, you can’t afford it.” And, “Don’t lose weight, no one has proven obesity is bad for you.” That’s exactly the quality of medical advice we are getting from the 18 Republican physicians currently serving in Congress. Some of the most well known are the father and son team of Rep. Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Tom Coburn. Some of the most well known are the father and son team of Rep. Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Tom Coburn. Almost all of these physician/Congressmen have been key soldiers in the Republican war on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling it a “job killer,” pronouncing relevant health science “unproven,” claiming we “can’t afford” their regulations.


Nine States Have Legalized Malpractice Against Women

Prenatal testing during pregnancy is offered with the goal of identifying medical conditions that affect a fetus. Some of these medical conditions can be treated, other times knowing about the diagnosis in advance will affect how or even when the delivery occurs, and sometimes a condition is identified that leads a woman to choose an abortion. Although women in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina might not get to hear all of their medical information. In these standard bearing states for misogyny a doctor is allowed to withhold information that they think could lead to an abortion and not be sued as a result. These are called “wrongful birth laws” and they allow doctors to put their own personal beliefs first, free of legal repercussions


Reid: Republicans Exaggerating Benefits of Keystone XL Pipeline

imgresRepublican claims about the benefits of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are greatly overblown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Sunday.  “It won’t lower the price of oil. Construction won’t be complete for a long, long time,” Reid said during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, referring to the proposed Alberta, Canada, to Texas pipeline. “And under the way it’s constructed now, all the oil would be sold elsewhere. We can’t have that. When I say elsewhere, I mean to some other country.”


Electoral chaos-History repeats? The “house” decides?

In 2012, there will be a 3-way battle for the White House. One of these days the media’s is actually going to share that fact with the rest of the country — but only when the New York Times et all are ready to take us on their journey into uncharted territory. A third party nominating platform will  have ballot access in all 50 states. They will select an Internet nominee through a nominating process. 6 qualified candidates will be ‘drafted” by the public. One lucky politician is going to get “the yellow brick road” to the White House.


The Border Wall: The Last Stand at Making the US a White Gated Community

Mark Karlin, Truthout: “The construction of the ‘barrier’ wall – accompanying large-scale militarization (the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, the military etc.) – is on America’s southern border, and there is meaning in that. Its location is prima facie evidence that the ‘immigration issue’ is really a euphemism for keeping poor brown-skinned people out of the US – as well as creating a ‘practice’ zone for protecting American economic and political interests in Mexico and Central America.”


How Public Sector Layoffs Are Holding Back the Recovery


Heather Boushey, ThinkProgress: “The current economic recovery is going well if one looks at private sector job creation. The pace of private sector job creation is slower than in the recovery from the early 1990s recession … Since early 2009, governments at all levels have shed nearly 700,000 jobs, most of them at the state and local level. Since August of 2008 state and local governments have shed a total of 647,000 workers, of which 64 percent were women workers.”


Canadian Government Targeting Opponents of New Oil Sands Pipeline 

Lisa Song, InsideClimate News: “As US environmental groups renew their battle against the resurrected Keystone XL oil pipeline, their counterparts in Canada are facing a deeper problem – a government campaign to limit their influence over Canada’s Northern Gateway pipeline…. As environmental groups have stepped up their campaigns against the project, key figures in the Harper administration have publicly denounced them as extremists, and a federal finance committee has announced plans to audit all of Canada’s charities.”


Environmental Protection Agency Puts Greenhouse Gas Rules for Oil Refineries on Backburner

Elizabeth McGowan, InsideClimate News: “Election-year politics, $4-a-gallon gasoline and an anti-regulatory fervor on Capitol Hill have aligned to thwart EPA’s vow to issue final carbon emissions standards for oil refineries this year…. The pullback on refineries – combined with an earlier and separate delay on regulating greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants – means EPA has yet to control emissions from a pair of sizable industrial sources.”


Welcome to the 1% Recovery

Mike Konczal, New Deal 2.0: “As the one percent reap 93 percent of the income gains from the recovery, we’re rapidly returning to pre-New Deal levels of inequality … It’s important to remember that a series of choices were made during the New Deal to react to runaway inequality, including changes to progressive taxation, financial regulation, monetary policy, labor unionization, and the provisioning of public goods and guaranteed social insurance. A battle will be fought over the next decade on all these fronts.”


A Field of Hawks

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post Writers Group: “Unless Ron Paul somehow wins the nomination, it looks as if a vote for the Republican presidential candidate this fall will be a vote for war with Iran. No other conclusion can be drawn from parsing the candidates’ public remarks. Paul, of course, is basically an isolationist who believes it is none of our business if Iran wants to build nuclear weapons…. But Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do.”


A Sex Ed 101 Curriculum for Conservatives

Recent national kerfuffles over abortion and contraception access bring up many important questions: Should employers retain control over your wages and benefits after they sign them over to you? Is contraception, a service used by 99 percent of American women, really so controversial? How much state regulation should there be over women’s most private decisions? But amidst all those questions is one overarching one: Do conservatives need a crash course in sex ed?


Julie Gillard’s Rise Marks the Triumph of Machine Politics Over Feminism

John Pilger, Truthout: “In 1963, a senior Australian government official, A.R. Taysom, deliberated on the wisdom of deploying women as trade representatives. ‘Such an appointee would not stay young and attractive forever [because] a spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battle-axe with the passing years [whereas] a man usually mellows.’ On International Women’s Day on March 8, such primitive views were worth recalling; but what has happened to modern feminism? Why is it so bereft of its political, indeed socialist roots that any woman who ‘achieves’ within an immoral system is to be admired?”


Busted for Busting Out at Bank of America

Medea Benjamin, Op-Ed: The women in the cell were proud of us for standing up to the banks; so were some of the police. “They were arrested for protesting against foreclosures at Bank of America,” one of the policemen told a policewoman while I was being fingerprinted. “I’m with you there,” she said. “Those bankers are thieves. They take government money to bail them out but then they refuse to lend money to black women like me. I lost my house because I couldn’t get a bank loan, even though I have a good, steady job.”


Jim Hightower | Attack of the Billionaires

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers at the posh Renaissance Esmeralda golf resort in California’s Palm Springs desert in early February, the confabulees were mobilizing and monetizing what Charles Koch called the “mother of all wars.” That would be their self-proclaimed war to enthrone their ilk over workers, consumers, the environment, and democracy itself.”


Catholicism is Not the Tea Party at Prayer

E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed: “The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church’s legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama? And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the Tea Party at prayer?”


Efficiency Standards to Save Americans More Than $1 Trillion by 2035

Stephen Lacey, News Analysis: Assuming that 11 new standards being considered for computer equipment, electric motors, fans, and pumps get established, the U.S. could see a 14% reduction in annual electricity use by 2035 compared with current projections. According to the ACEEE report, assuming household appliances are updated every 15 years through 2040, the average American household could save 180 megawatt-hours of electricity and over 200,000 gallons of water. Translated into understandable figures: Roughly $30,000.


Tom Engelhardt | The 0% Doctrine

Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against this country and a new war doctrine to go with it. He would, he insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable of targeting the United States. That should have been news.”

Iran: War Drums Beating

Tuesday 7 February 2012, by Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis

Landing signal officers guide a jet onto the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the North Arabian Sea, January 4, 2012. Iran’s military sharpened its tone toward the United States with a blunt warning that the American aircraft carrier, which left the Persian Gulf through the strategic Strait of Hormuz last week, should not return. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

Retired Republican House and Senate staffer Mike Lofgren spoke with Truthout in Washington, DC, this fall. Lofgren’s first commentary for Truthout, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult,” went viral, drawing over 1.2 million page views.

For most of my three-decade career handling national security budgets in Congress, Iran was two or three years away from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The idea of an Islamic bomb exerts a peculiar fascination on American political culture and shines a searchlight on how the gross dysfunctionality of American politics emerges synergistically from the individual dysfunctions of its component parts: the military-industrial complex; oil addiction; the power of foreign-based lobbies; the apocalyptic fixation on the holy land by millions of fundamentalist Americans; US elected officials’ neurotic need to show toughness, especially in an election year. The rational calculus of nuclear deterrence, which had guided US policy during the cold war, and which the US government still applies to plainly despotic and bellicose nuclear states like North Korea, has gone out the window with respect to Iran.

It is curious that the world already confronts over 100 Islamic bombs: those possessed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is even more curious that Pakistan may have had a maximum of 30 to 50 such weapons at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country, which resulted in a shotgun marriage between Washington and Islamabad. A decade of partnership with the United States netted Pakistan about $20 billion in aid money and at least 50 more nuclear devices; anyone who knows anything about the fungibility of money will conclude that the United States partially funded Pakistan’s nuclear buildup, knowingly or not. Pakistan’s government has also been credibly linked to sponsorship of terrorist organizations that have operated outside its territory. But Iran, we are told, is different. A window is closing, and it is closing not in two years, but in six months. And we had better leap through it before it is too late.

See also: “Have the Super-Rich Seceded From the United States?

See also: “‘I Know How to Beat Republicans’: Interview With Former GOP Staffer Mike Lofgren

In the past, I have been skeptical about imminent war, e.g., in 2003-06, when the neoconservative chicken hawks around President Bush were crowing about how “real men want to go to Teheran,” meaning somebody else’s husband or son should suit up and invade Iran. At the same time, Seymour Hersh was churning out articles in The New Yorker about the possibility of an attack on Iran. After about the third article, I began discounting the possibility of war. But present circumstances have a different quality. During this presidential campaign season, there is, on the GOP side, the most toxic warmongering political dynamic imaginable: one that makes Bush look like a pacifist in retrospect. President Obama for his part is trying to triangulate à la Bill Clinton among the GOP, a Democratic base that is mostly antiwar but politically ineffectual, Israel, the military-industrial complex and his polling numbers. Obama may feel he can slide through the next nine months with ever-tightening sanctions and a strategy of tension short of war, but the government of Israel is attempting to force the pace with increasingly hyperbolic predictions. It is also evidently manipulating Congress (e.g., the director of Mossad meeting with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee last week). Whether it is sources in Tel Aviv, sources in Washington, or both, that are feeding Iran stories to the US news media is unclear. Whoever they may be, they are playing much of the press – The Washington Post and CBS News are standout examples – like a Stradivarius. In Pentagon-speak, this is known as “prepping the psychological battlefield.”

No historical analogy is remotely close to being perfect, but in terms of the psychology of the actors, this circumstance bears a passing resemblance to the July Crisis of 1914 and the blank check Berlin issued to its client in Vienna. Germany (per Bismarck’s previous statecraft) was a sated, status quo world power that would gain nothing by war, regardless of what its neurotic and impetuous kaiser thought. Its weaker client, Austria, was always fretting about its relative demographic decline amid a hostile Slavic sea – does that sound familiar? Accordingly, it was constantly egging on Berlin about the “Slavic menace” that was around (and within) Austria’s borders. The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo was like the Iranian nuclear program – a red line that the Slavic (read: “Iranian”) menace had crossed. Something “had” to be done, and Berlin gave its client a blank check to issue an ultimatum so extreme as to force war, a “preventive” war, the scope of which snowballed because of an unbroken chain of miscalculations into the First World War.

Fast forward to the present: we have the roiling instability of the Middle East because of the Arab spring (see: Egypt); an unreliable Shiite-run US client state in Iraq; a borderline civil war in Syria; and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice baiting and hectoring two world powers, China and Russia, over their Syria policy.(1) And finally, the US and Iran are reprising the Gulf of Tonkin in the Strait of Hormuz. All these factors compose a brew potentially so toxic that one would think it would give even the most belligerent chicken hawk pause before quaffing it.

Washington’s political class is apparently counting on the short memory of the electorate: it is barely a month and a half since we withdrew the last combat forces from Iraq, and already we have incessant agitation over Iran. America’s Iraq adventure took seven years, cost 4,500 US military deaths(2) and sent a trillion dollars down the drain. And that one was going to be a cakewalk, remember?

Footnotes:

1. Regardless of how heinous the Syrian government’s behavior is, it is not obvious that the United States will better secure the future cooperation of two permanent UN Security Council members by having its ambassador publicly saying these two powers’ votes “disgusted” her. For that matter, how eager will Russia and China be to pull America’s chestnuts out of the fire if our brinkmanship over Iran gets us into unforeseen difficulties?

2. Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths are unreliable, but are likely well over 100,000. They are here reduced to a footnote because civilian deaths do not seriously enter into American political calculations as to the feasibility of a war.

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