Category Archives: iran

The Encyclodpedia of

Check out a thorough collection of articles about 9/11 via NYMAG‘s Encyclopedia of 9/11.

What Dinh didn’t anticipate was a profound shift in liberalism and, therefore, in the politics of the country. Even with a Democrat now in the White House, the liberalism that protects the right of the individual against the majority—the politics of civil rights and abortion and gay marriage—has diminished, in favor of one that aims to improve the lot of the median man. Obama’s liberalism is for the majority, not against it. This spirit, and the unlikely endurance of the Patriot Act, owes something to the central psychological events of the decade: the vitality and threat of new economic competitors, the social violence initiated by the authors of obscure financial instruments, but first and most of all September 11—each of which evoked a particular feeling, that we were all together, under attack. .::Patriot Act

John McCain Knows Iran…

NOT!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr6Va7PEBg8[/youtube]

McCain criticizes Obama on being willing to talk to Iran’s leaders and in doing so may got some basic facts wrong.

Ayatollah Khomeni is considered the Supreme Leader of the secular state, and McCain knows that most Americans don’t know that or basic history of Iran.

McCain just keeps offering samples of his ineptitude. Isn’t it really sad that this guy is supported by millions of Americans? Millions , ninjas, millions.

This ninja is considering repatriating.

Obliteration!

Hillary Clinton forgot one important factor to consider when she said that she would retaliate on Israel’s behalf should Iran attack them with nuclear weapons: ISRAEL IS A NUCLEAR POWER! They have nukes to take care of themselves. And you better believe they have some sort of First-Strike retaliatory plan.

I wonder what our Pennsylavia ninjas are thinking today when they sneak into the booths… Check back for the results tonight.

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Mehdi Militia Cease-fire Over?

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In Iraq’s southern city of Basra, a critically important location because of it’s proximity to valuable oil and it’s trafficking, it is being reported that “thousands of Iraqi troops [are battling] Shia militias.” This is bad news for everyone. The BBC is reporting that at least 30 people have died, we can assume many more. Apparently, the situation in Basra has instigated altercations throughout the occupied nation, including Sadr City, a neighborhood of Baghdad. There, the militia has ordered the Iraqi army to vacate the vicinity.
Now, I’m trying to make as much sense of this situation as possible with the sources I have available to me, and it appears to be pretty complicated. As I understand it, the Mehdi militia, loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, has been subject to a government crack-down. As a result, the movement has threatened then acted upon a national campaign of civil disobedience in the form of demonstrations and protests. The latest fighting is clearly an escalation of these actions. Ninjas will remember that Sadr’s supporters are currently heeding a call for a six-month cease-fire ordered by al-Sadr.
Different Shia groups are fighting against each other in Basra, as are they fighting government and international forces (though it hasn’t directly been reported that international forces have been involved, air-strikes have been, so that’s got to be either the US or the Brits). The Brits had control of the city until December of ’07, when they turned it over to the local authorities. Now, apparently, these authorities tried to disarm the Mehdi army. Poor decision. The Iraqi government and the U.S. accuse the Mehdi movement of receiving munitions, training, and funds from Iran.
We at the dojo will be keeping a close eye on this situation.

We Don’t EU

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Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he will not engage the EU in dialogue over Iran’s nuclear energy program. The prez said that the only institution Iran will communicate is the IAEA. A few days ago the UN Security Council approved another round of sanctions against Iran which prevents certain people from travel and freezes some foreign assets. Iran claims they are fully complying with the IAEA’s requirements for transparency. If they were, however, I don’t see why the Security Council would have gone ahead with these sanctions. Ahmadinejad said

“I have to stress again we will not have any nuclear negotiation with any individual and organisation outside the framework of the agency”

I wonder how long it will take for this issue to come to a head. Iran doesn’t want to play ball with the international community and the international community is not willing to offer Iran any incentive to do so. It’s clear why Iran wants nukes, but if they were to clearly and honestly rid themselves of the program the economic and social rewards would be more than significant.

Russia Backs UN Sanctions

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Russia has announced that they might support further sanctions against Iran if the Arab nation does not cease it’s use of uranium enrichment centrifuges and water reactors used to create plutonium. As you ninjas know, I hope, Iran is being accused of pursuing these nuclear weapons. Naturally, the international community will go to great lengths to ensure that does not happen.  They have no reason to gain the required materials to build a nuclear weapon for civil(ian) electric purposes.  The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations institution, has said that Iran has recently been more cooperative in providing transparency regarding it’s nuclear program, but they still refuse to cooperate fully. Iran claims they have no nuclear weapons program and there nuclear ambitions are purely civil, meant for electricity. But, I’m thinking, if this is the case there is no need for them to be enriching uruanium and trying to gain plutonium.

Last year, there was a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released. This report sad that Tehran halted it’s nuclear weapons program in 2003, but this does not mean they don’t have aspirations to get nukes someday.

Iran, what?

Remember Iran? That country next to Iraq that is enriching uranium and is supposed to be the “Pest to the West” (term hereby copyrighted by MNP)?  It seems that the last major news we’ve seen concerning the clericly run state was back when an NIE (an intelligence report) was released siting that Iran had halted their nuclear weapons development as far back as 2003. Well, they’re back this month, making the front page of the Economist, and American Conservatives are shaking. Stanley Kurtz’s piece from the National Review claims:

Yet, as the truth about the NIE report emerges from decidedly non-neocon sources like The Economist, it’s increasingly clear that the real NIE story is actually a Republican warning come true. Dovish intelligence analysts eager to discredit the administration and tie its hands have not only distorted and betrayed the truth about Iran, they have undercut and infuriated the very European diplomats America’s doves look to for approval and assistance. The NIE lied. Europe’s peacemakers cried. Seizing on this story could bring national security back into the heart of this election campaign — and for all the right reasons.

First and foremost: “the truth” about the report isn’t coming from souces like the Economist being able to analyze it. Now, I’m not going to say that Iran definitely isn’t trying to build nukes-I mean, as recent as yesterday Iran was making international news after the launch of a rocket/long range missle apparatus which would greatly assist their efforts to drop a nuke if they should ever procure one-however, do I think that even if Iran did, somehow, get their hands on a nuke they would turn around and blow us up immediately because they’re just those type of people? My ninjas, please! Of course not. They may be a proud people, but not so much that they’d ensure their destruction to stick it to us. Would it be a security threat, yeah. Would the proper way to deal with that situation be to antagonize them and push them closer to a forging a strong relationship with someone like China (I say this because in the future they might benefit from one another’s relationship with the US)? My ninjas please! Of course not.

So, why is Kurtz arguing for Iran’s importance as an election issue? He doesn’t look like a tough-guy…:

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Because he believes that Iran can get their hands on a nuke in the next four years, and if the military option to engage Iran is off the table for now than he fears the international community has given Iran the green light to take this initiative.  Listen, just becuase we are not eagerly awaiting a time when we can strike Iran for being a punk doesn’t mean we’re playing nice. It’s their move now, and you bet your bottom dollar they understand the international community will not at all tolerate their being a nuclear power. And should that even come to fruition, it won’t be a secret, we’ll know. Right? Neither Obama nor Hillary is willing to comprimise American security for a shot at diplomacy with Iran.

David Broder is the man.

David Broder

Note: from now on I am going to try and post after every David Broder opinion column from the Washington Post. You should all read it anyways because the man is good.

Case and point: Today’s article (12/5) highlights the most important events of the international community according to how they might affect the U.S. Broder tells us that things are different than they were two weeks ago. Now, his near perky article must have been a result from this weeks BIG STORY: the NIE report on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Anywho, he got me thinking about how much I want a Democrat in the White House, AND a Democrat controlled Congress. This would be the ill na na, ninjas. Actually … f*ck that, I just don’t want Giulliani or Romney-Bushified chuckle heads. If the Reps cared about themselves they would rally around McCain with Huckabee as the VP. Huckabee is ill because he’s the Republican I could see stabbing the neo-cons right in the heart and letting the blood drip all over him. Interesting guy.

The point is, ninjas, change is on the horizon. If you live in a swing-State, I plead with you: don’t vote for an asshole. Take the time to listen to how these candidates talk, what they talk about, their demeanor, their grace or lack their off … In all sincerity, I think Hillary Clinton should get the nod.

Ninjas, the war on terror needs to end. Because it’s not really a war on terror, this government seems to be all too pleased to feed this fire.

Getting harder and harder

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Times are tough, my ninjas … at least for GDubz, who just can’t get anything to come together for him. Yesterday came a release, the National Intelligence Estimate, which is a report from all of intelligence from all 16 of the departments of intelligence we have: the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, etc. etc. etc.

Now, this report claims that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons development in 2003. President Bush has said that he did not know about this information prior to last week. Whaaaaaaaaat? My Ninja, Please. Bush is trying to claim that though there was new information which surfaced as early as July, he wasn’t told what this new information was until he was briefed on this report last week. I can probably say that he isn’t smart enough to know that he’s insulting our intelligence.

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Now us hopeful bleeding hearts (or just practical folk) upon hearing this thought that this might just be reason enough for the Bush team to take the possibility of an air strike on Iran off the table. However, according to Bush’s response the the report, nothing has changed.

For those of you silly enough to think Giulliani is a solid choice in 2008, this is the statement from his Middle East policy man, Norman Podhoretz, essentially claiming the intelligence community is purposefully doing Iran a favor. [Ed: Podhoretz, a known idiot]

Inconceivable!

The White House seems to have a default position whenever it’s asked about Iran, which is to claim that it’s “pursuing the diplomatic track,” or something to that effect. Every time I hear it, I start waiting for some reporter to stand up and tell Dana Perino, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” On Tuesday, the claim that we’re using diplomacy was buttressed by the point that Bush is meeting with the leaders of France and Germany next week. Can’t help but notice, though, how that’s not meeting with Iran.

See, it’s a funny thing about diplomacy. It requires intricate, obscure techniques, like talking to the other country. Not labeling their military a supporter of terrorists and freezing their assets. Not warning third parties that inaction will lead to Armageddon. If they were serious about this, they’d be proposing high-level talks at a nice resort on the French Riviera next month. That way, best case, they solve the differences between the two nations; worst case, they spent a week in Nice. Not much downside there. Beyond that, it’s not like it would lose Bush any political support. He’s already more than established his “tough-on-terror” credentials. To go ubergeek for a moment and use the post’s second obscure quote: “There is an old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China.” Same deal here. Of course, it’s so logical and so potentially worthwhile that it’s totally guaranteed that Bush won’t do it.

Instead, they’ll stick to what they’ve been doing: letting Cheney ramp up the rhetoric while Secretary Rice tells the Iranians that she’d be glad to talk to them about their nuclear program, just as soon as they agree to give up their nuclear program. Take a moment to digest the logic behind that one.

Oddly enough, it’s not an attitude limited to foreign policy. Check out the first set of answers regarding the Mukasey nomination here (video from TPM):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPpCbwBgecw[/youtube]

See, Senate Democrats who are worried that Michael Mukasey might be a radical authoritarian who’s OK with letting the President waive Congressional law, ignore judicial orders, and allow American agents to torture prisoners? Just give him the keys to the Justice Department! Then you’ll have all the answers you want when you ask him to testify again. Or, possibly, when the Deputy AG arrives on the steps of the Capitol to inform you that your services are no longer necessary and the Executive Branch will take it from here.

Back from a baseball break

Sorry for the recent lack of posts, had to take the weekend off to watch the Red Sox finish their World Series sweep. (My condolences to the Rockies and their fans. They had one hell of a run, they’ll definitely get another shot in the next few years.)

With the baseball season in the books, time to get back to politics. I promised y’all more stuff on Iran, and I do like to keep to that sort of promise. So let’s head in and get to the bottom of what may well be our third war in six years. We’ll start with a bit of historical background.

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Any understanding of US-Iran relations needs to start with this guy. Mohammed Mossadegh, prime minister of Iran in the early 50′s, led his country on a number of reforms, most notably and controversially the nationalization of the oil industry, until then controlled by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The Brits, amazingly enough, were annoyed by the loss of their oil, and asked the United States to take action. The CIA, in their inimitable way, put money into the right hands, and a military coup d’etat swept Mossadegh out of power in favor of the Shah.
This move proved fairly unpopular among the Iranian people, and thus the Shah maintained his power through the grand traditions of torture, repression, and secret police. He was supported in these endeavors, both financially and militarily, by the United States, who saw him as a valuable ally against Soviet expansion. Decades of oppression finally bubbled over in the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic government, and the seizing of the American Embassy in Tehran. Relations between the two countries entered a rather tense phase, with Iran supporting various anti-American terrorist causes (most notably Hezbollah) and the US supporting pretty much anyone who opposed the Ayatollah. For example, this guy, who you may recognize from his many appearances on South Park:

Saddam Hussein

Tensions eased a bit in the mid-90′s, largely due to a more moderate tone from the Iranian government toward the West and a generally receptive administration in the United States. After 9/11, Iran offered some cooperation (how much is still a matter of argument, there’s an excellent set of opinions here) against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Then, of course, we had the 2002 State of the Union and the “Axis of Evil” designation, followed by the invasion of Iraq. The hardliners within the Iranian government saw both (not unreasonably) as hostile moves, and used the opportunity to reassert control, purging the moderates and taking every opportunity to condemn American aggression.

And so here we sit, with Iran’s president giving bellicose speeches across the globe and our Congress declaring part of Iran’s military a terrorist organization. We’ve got prominent foreign policy analysts claiming that Iranians “have terrorism in their DNA.” It’s beginning to look very much as though the question of the United States attacking Iran is one of “when,” not “if.”

President Bush has apparently said on several occasions that he doesn’t want to leave Iran’s nuclear program as an unresolved issue after he leaves office. Yes, that’s right. A $9 trillion national debt, a still-flooded New Orleans, a collapsing healthcare system, and 130,000 troops in Iraq can be left to the next guy, but Iran we’ve gotta bomb tomorrow. And if you think Congress will stop him, you haven’t been paying much attention. For one thing, the new Democratic majority has been, shall we say, less than assertive in standing up to the President on matters of war.

For another, this is an Administration that has repeatedly made it clear that it feels Congress has absolutely no authority over the Presidency where war is concerned. Dick Cheney has said publicly that the first President Bush would have had the authority to invade Iraq in 1991 even if Congress had voted against it. Even better, remember that little resolution I mentioned earlier, which laid the groundwork for the President to declare part of Iran’s military a “supporter of terrorism”? Consider it in the context of the Sept. 14th, 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” effectively declaring the “War on Terror” underway. If part of Iran’s military is a terrorist group, then (according to these blokes) the President has the right to attack it without Congressional permission. And if the rest of Iran’s military counterattacks, then they’re supporting terrorists, and we get to go after them, too.

I wish I could say that this is a fluke, that if Congress can just find its spine for the next year or so and run out the clock on the Bushies, we’ll avoid a war. I’m more than a bit worried, though. Take a look at this debate, from Talking Points Memo:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-0E6ka8k54[/youtube]

The dude who doesn’t seem to understand the difference between Nazi Germany and, as Paul Krugman put it, “a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut” is Norman Podhoretz, who in addition to being the dean of Washington’s neoconservative dingbats, is the chief foreign policy advisor to Rudy Giuliani, the GOP frontrunner for 2008. With that reassuring thought, I’m off to bed. With any luck I’ll have something cheerier for you tomorrow.

PBS does Iran

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I’m in the midst of watching Frontline, which tonight focuses on the growing tensions between the United States and Iran. I’m continually amazed by the level of access and analysis they bring to their topics, and tonight’s is no exception. They’ve managed to get interviews with top American officials, as well as prominent members of the Iranian parliament. The whole piece is now online at their website, I highly recommend that you watch it.

One thing that struck me as especially staggering was a document known as the “grand bargain.” Soon after the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. received a document, apparently from moderates within the Iranian government, proposing negotiations over a set of basic issues. They asked that the U.S. stop trying to overthrow their regime, take Iran off the “Axis of Evil,” and agree to a set of security arrangements. In return, the Iranians would aid the U.S. in stabilizing Iraq, abandon all attempts to build nuclear weapons, and cease aid to terrorist groups in Lebanon and Palestine. The Bush Administration dismissed it without even bothering to reply.
Now, clearly there was serious disagreement as to how serious the offer was, the actual ability of the writers to follow through on it, and so forth, but how do you not pursue that? Worst case, it’s bullshit, in which case we’ve lost nothing. Best case, we put an end to 27 years of hostility and gain an incredibly valuable strategic partner in the Middle East. This is Diplomacy 101. Hell, it’s Art of War 101, winning your objectives without spilling blood.

I’m definitely going to have more to say on this later, but the combination of 3 am and detailed discussion of U.S.-Iranian relations rarely ends well. Come back tomorrow for politricks’ take on the events that got us where we are now.

A few quick hits

The Federal Communications Commission is considering rewriting the rules on media ownership. Current rules state that a single company can’t own a TV or radio station and a newspaper within the same media market. The chairman of the FCC, not wanting to unduly burden billionaire media moguls in their ongoing quest for world domination, wants to get rid of this rule. And it makes sense, really. Without all that pesky regulatory work taking up their time, the FCC can get back to its real job: making sure no one can say “fuck” on television.

Fun new controversy on the Iraq front… Remember this guy?

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Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, US Army (ret.) was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq from mid-2003 to mid-2004. He’s recently emerged from his retirement to level a bit of criticism at the Administration’s policies in that particular quagmire. Now, the irony of that I could comment upon, but I’ll let Jon Stewart cover that (go watch it, Daily Show’s always worth the trip, especially when they don’t even try to resist the filthy play on a political figure’s name).

What is really interesting is the dilemma it brings to light (which Fred Kaplan covers brilliantly here): when is it acceptable, in a constitutional republic, for generals to question civilian leaders? On the one hand, I really do hope that if Bush orders a strike on Iran, that the Joint Chiefs do everything they possibly can to dissuade him. On the other, I don’t much care for the precedent of military commanders overruling civilian authority. Admittedly, this is the sort of thing that’s less of a problem when the civilian leadership isn’t delusional.

Speaking of which, the only President we’ve got is actively discussing World War III, which is always reassuring. The thing that’s most frightening about the quote is that he wasn’t addressing his comment to Iran, but to Russia, the other country on Earth with several thousand nuclear weapons. I don’t really think he’s envisioning a war against Russia over Iran, but still, this sort of belligerent commentary seems… oh, I don’t know, foolish? Anyone with a better adjective, go ahead and suggest it.