AlterPolitics New Post

After The Iraq Debacle, It Would Be Negligent For Americans Not To Watch Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech

by on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm EDT in Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, WikiLeaks, World

Shaking Hands: Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, special envoy of Pres. Ronald Reagan (Baghdad – Dec. 20, ’83)

One reason why the most powerful interests succeed in pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people is because the masses rarely if ever take the time to read or view the raw information available to them. Instead they rely on others’ interpretations. 

Everyone is guilty of this to different degrees. People’s lives are hectic, there are only so many hours in a given day. So the masses look for quick summaries, 30-minute news programs covering dozens of different news briefs that can be measured in seconds. Fast food news consumption for those on the go.

But in doing so, they become dependent upon these same powerful interests, not only to inform them about what they need to know, but how to think about these issues.

When the interests of both the public and the powerful coincide, then the public can often glean an accurate, though often ‘Cliffs Notes’-level of comprehension on any given issue. But when the public interest conflicts with the interests of the powerful on an issue, then the establishment is well positioned to massage the message and misinform, or to drop its coverage entirely, thereby ensuring the public remains uninformed.

This helps to ensure the masses vote and cheerlead against their own best interests, and in ways that further enrich the powerful. The public ends up supporting wars they later learn were unnecessary, unlawful, costly, and resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, often including members of their own families. 

A majority of Americans knew close to nothing about Saddam Hussein after Sept. 11, 2001, at a time when the Bush Administration began its propaganda campaign to mislead the country into a war with Iraq. This made the Neocons’ job very easy. By repeating talking points laced with demagoguery and fear mongering, the Bush Administration convinced a major majority of Americans that this dictator was so evil, so dangerous, so irrational, that his accelerating ‘nuclear weapons program’ made him an ‘imminent threat’ to American security.

One of the most oft-repeated phrases the Neocons used to help demonize Saddam as a monster was “he gassed his own people.”

George W. Bush on Oct. 11, 2001 (one month after 9-11):

“There’s no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he’s been developing weapons of mass destruction. … And so we’re watching him very carefully. We’re watching him carefully.”

The gassing allegation was true. Saddam DID gas the Kurds on 40-some different occasions. His largest gassing was against the Kurdish town of Halabja in March of 1988, resulting in the deaths of 5,000 people. But what George W. Bush didn’t want you to know, and could rely on the establishment media not to tell you, was that this gassing took place back when Saddam was an ally and aid recipient of the United States, during the Administration of his father, George H.W. Bush.

Samantha Power, in her Pulitzer Prize winning book, “A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide,” revealed that not only was the Bush Administration well aware of the gassing of the Kurds, they refused to even condemn it. Despite knowing definitively that Saddam was responsible, as declassified documents now reveal, the State Department went as far as to suggest that perhaps Iran was involved on some level in the gassing.

Does this fact make Saddam any less evil? Of course not. But had the public at large realized that Bush and his fellow Neocons were capitalizing on incidents that occurred nearly 15 years earlier — incidents that happened when Saddam was cozy with Bush’s own father and some of these same Neocons, and with their full knowledge — it might have led the public to question why these Neocons suddenly ‘saw the light’ on Saddam’s monstrosity. And that might have taken some of the air out of the ‘imminent threat’ bubble. 

And now Americans are being sold that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new Adolph Hitler. This week, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly (99 votes to 1) passed a new non-binding resolution, proclaiming war to be a viable option should the Iranians gain the capability for a nuke — even if they have no intentions of creating one. The knowledge, in itself, has now been pronounced grounds for war. 

Now, you might not like Ahmadinejad, you might even find his views on any number of subjects repugnant, or his abuse of political dissidents criminal, but he is NO Adolph Hitler, NOR Saddam Hussein.

The Washington establishment is terrified that you too might draw this same conclusion. Because if Israel were to launch an attack on Iran, the U.S. would undoubtedly be dragged into war. And none of our politicians have the guts to ward Israel off by threatening repercussions (e.g. aid cuts, no more U.S.-vetoes to shield Israel from accountability at the U.N. Security Council, etc.). And no one in the mainstream media has the courage to address this unprecedented ‘tail wags dog’ dynamic.

So instead, they ALL demagogue the Iranian President, embellish his words, make comparisons to Hitler, as if to make his ‘irrationality’ and ‘evilness’ a type of conventional wisdom that must remain unchallenged, especially during prime time.

When President Ahmadinejad gave a speech at the U.N. yesterday, the U.S. delegation boycotted it, thereby sending a loud and clear message to the nation that this leader is so despicable, so evil, so threatening, that they wouldn’t dare attend.

Despite President Obama’s apparent reluctance for war, the American war drums continue to bang loudly. Each week, the threat of an Israeli attack gets heightened and PM Netanyahu continues to meddle in the U.S. Presidential Elections, blatantly trying to entrap the U.S. President into committing to war.

All Americans owe it to themselves to watch Ahmadinejad’s U.N. speech. Watch it and decide for yourselves whether the Iranian President is the depraved lunatic you’ve been told; whether his words make him such an ‘imminent threat’ to the United States, that hundreds of thousands more innocent lives are worth losing, trillions more dollars are worth spending (err borrowing); that it is worth having our gas prices tripled, and our economy ransacked.

Spare yourselves the establishment’s caricature of Ahmadinejad and just watch him for yourself:

YouTube Preview Image

TRANSCRIPT (at mid-page)

VIDEO: WINEP’s Director of Research: U.S. Needs A False Flag to Start A War With Iran

by on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 1:24 am EDT in Iran, Middle East, Politics, War On Terror, World

Many of the notables who served in the Bush Administration and played key roles in misleading the United States into war with Iraq have passed through the corridors of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). In fact, the think-tank serves as an incubator for the hawkish Neoconservative ideology. 

Here is how Harvard professor of Int’l Affairs Steven M. Walt describes the think-tank: 

[WINEP] is a key organization in the Israel lobby. It was founded in 1985 by three individuals: Larry and Barbi Weinberg, who had formerly been the president and vice-president of AIPAC; and Martin Indyk, who was previously deputy director for research there. These founders understood that AIPAC’s efforts would be enhanced if there was a separate, seemingly “objective” research organization to provide consistently “pro-Israel” analysis and commentary, while AIPAC concentrated on more direct lobbying activities. Although WINEP claims that it provides a “balanced and realistic perspective” on Middle East issue, anyone who spends a few hours examining its website and reading its publications will realize this is not the case.

In fact, WINEP is funded and led by individuals who are deeply committed to defending the special relationship, and promoting policies in Washington that they believe will benefit Israel. Its board of advisors is populated with prominent advocates for Israel such as Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Mortimer Zuckerman, and there’s no one on this board who is remotely critical of Israel or inclined to favor any other country in the “Near East.”

Former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg was literally “in the room” when WINEP was founded. Here he describes its birth:

I was in the room when AIPAC decided to establish WINEP.

It was Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act, although charges were subsequently dropped) who cleverly came up with the idea for an AIPAC controlled think-tank that would disseminate the AIPAC line but in a way that would disguise its connections.

There was no question that WINEP was to be AIPAC’s cutout. It was funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located one door away, down the hall, from AIPAC Headquarters (No more. It has its own digs).

It would also hire all kinds of people not identified with Israel as cover and would encourage them to write whatever they liked on matters not related to Israel. “Say what you want on Morocco, kid.” But on Israel, never deviate more than a degree or two.

So, it probably shouldn’t have come as TOO big a shock when this video became circulated on Twitter tonight, showing the depths the Neoconservatives are prepared to plunge to get their war against Iran.

Here is a video of WINEP’s Director of Research Patrick Clawson, telling a gathering in the group’s conference room that the United States should find a ‘false flag’ to get into war with Iran. 

WATCH:

YouTube Preview Image

TRANSCRIPT:

I frankly find that crisis initiation is really tough. And it’s very hard for me to see how the United States President can get us into war with Iran. Which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming that the traditional way that America gets into war is what would be best for U.S. interests.

Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into World War II, as David mentioned, you may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people think Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War I, you may recall we had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam, you may recall we had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn’t go to war with Spain until the USS Maine exploded. And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the Federal Army until Fort Sumter was attacked which is why he ordered the commander of Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolineans had said would cause an attack.

So if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war. One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. 

I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down, some day one of them might not come up, who would know why? We could do a variety of things if we wish to to increase the pressure. I’m not advocating that, but I’m just suggesting that this is not an either or proposition, you know it’s just sanctions have to succeed or it’s other things.

We are in the games of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier. 

President Obama’s Appearance on 60 Minutes: The Good And The Bad

by on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm EDT in Economy, Election 2012, Middle East, Politics

President Obama and Governor Romney both appeared on 60 Minutes last night in what is being billed as an indirect debate between the two candidates. They interviewed separately, but both used it as an opportunity to level some attacks at one another and to defend themselves against the other’s talking points.

Here are some of the things that struck me about Obama’s performance:

1. The Good

The President subtly distinguished U.S. interests from Israels’:

The President cleverly addressed Steve Kroft’s question regarding Israel PM Netanyahu’s blatant attempts to force the U.S. into war with Iran. Kroft asked him about the pressure being leveled at him during the U.S. elections (a time when a sitting President is most likely to placate deep-pocketed special interest groups). Obama appropriately recast the issue to the interests of the American people.

Although this tact might seem logical and obvious to most Americans — A U.S. President putting U.S. interests above those of a foreign government’s — anyone who follows the Israel / Palestine issue closely, knows this is practically unheard of in Washington, and actually constitutes bravery:

Kroft: How much pressure have you been getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu to make up your mind to use military force in Iran?

Obama: Well, look, I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race.

Kroft: You’re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?

Obama:When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.

Later in the interview, Kroft brought up Romney’s assertion that Obama was weak on national defense and foreign policy, saying that he “needed to be more aggressive on Iran, he hadn’t done enough to support the revolt in Syria, and that our ‘friends’ don’t know where we stand, and our enemies think we’re weak.” To which Obama replied:

Well, let’s see what I’ve done since I came into office. I said I’d end the war in Iraq, I did. I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda. They’ve been decimated… That we’d go after Bin Laden, he’s gone. So, I’ve executed on my foreign policy, and it’s one the American people agree with. So, if Governor Romney is suggesting we should start another war, he should say so.

Essentially, Obama is turning Romney’s pro-Israel hawkishness around on him, by reminding Americans that war is too important an issue to be championing for mere political expediency. That committing the United States to another unnecessary war in the Middle East, once again driven by fear mongering, would hold severe repercussions for U.S. interests.

2. The Bad

The President was unapologetic about his overarching Neoliberal policies. In fact he bragged about them:

Kroft told Obama that Romney has framed him as someone who doesn’t have a clue about the economy. That he doesn’t understand “that private enterprise is the engine of growth in this country, and that’s what creates jobs, not big government.” And that Obama is “crushing economic freedom with taxes, regulations, and high-cost health care.” Instead of taking issue with Romney’s Neoliberal ideology, he rejected Romney’s depiction of him as someone unkind to Neoliberal values. 

Despite all the debt created by George W. Bush’s deep tax cuts, at a time we were engaged in two costly wars, Obama highlighted that he himself has been the true tax-cutter:

Taxes are lower on families than they’ve been probably in the last 50 years. So, I haven’t raised taxes, I have cut taxes for middle class families by an average of $3,600 for a typical family.

And after all the calamity in our economy created by Bush’s deregulatory policies, Obama still touted his own non-regulatory record as more brazen than Bush’s, as if that is something to be proud of:

When it comes to regulations, I issued fewer regulations than my predecessor George W. Bush did during that same period in office. So it’s hard to say I over-regulated.

When Kroft asked him how he will get obstructionist Republicans to agree to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Obama used it as an opportunity to tout his austerity credentials, and the Grand Bargain he plans once reelected:

Ultimately the American people agree with me. The only way to bring down our deficit is in a balanced way. So, keep in mind, I’ve agreed with the Republicans, and we’ve already cut a trillion dollars of spending. And I’ve told them I’m prepared to do additional spending cuts, and do some entitlement reform. 

But what I’ve said is, you can’t ask me to make student loans higher for kids who need it, or ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, or throw people off of healthcare, and not ask somebody like me or Mr. Romney to do anything. Not ask us to do a single dime’s worth of sacrifice?

Parse that again carefully. He doesn’t promise that young Americans WILL NOT be asked to pay more for student loans, or that seniors WILL NOT be asked to pay more for Medicare. He states you can’t ask these people to suffer even more, unless you also ask the wealthy, like him and Romney, to pay more in taxes.

This is a very significant point. He is willing to cut a Grand Bargain that will further harm those least capable of contributing financially, IF ONLY Republicans will agree that the rich need to toss a bit more tip money into the till. Because to Obama and the rest of the elite establishment this “shared sacrifice” between the “haves” and “have-nothing-to-spares” somehow constitutes a “balanced approach.”

Kroft pointed out that the housing crisis led to Obama bailing the banks out, and yet he decided that very few homeowners should be helped with mortgage-relief. Obama responded by touching on a few things he did do, but mostly distinguished his “modest” approach from Romney’s approach:

[…] We still have a long ways to go, but this is in contrast to Governor Romney’s proposal. When asked about what we should be doing with the housing market, [Romney] said, “Just let it bomb out.” That’s a quote. So, he was opposed to even the modest proposals we put into place.

So, instead of flogging his predecessor and Governor Romney for their irresponsible ideological beliefs, Obama attempted to out-‘W’ them, as if Bush’s Neoliberal economic policies were something to strive for, if not to exceed. In making the points above, Obama gives us a glimpse into his true economic compass, which deeply contradicts the policy platform he ran on in 2008.

Yes, his appointments of Neoliberal Wall Streeters and the policies he championed since he was elected have already confirmed that candidate Obama was a fraud, but it is interesting to see him four years later honestly aligning his rhetoric with his preferred policies.

The long-term damage done in propagating these sorts of pro-Neoliberal messages to the American public — that laissez-faire, non-regulatory, no-tax, pro-austerity policies are credible, responsible and commendable — only works to lend legitimacy to these long-failed policies, which now lie at the heart of our nation’s deep structural economic problems. 

Who knows, before long, in order to prove his pro-business mettle, Obama might even begin to boast about his NAFTA-like trade deals (the kinds he panned as a candidate in 2008), and how they’ll help U.S. corporations be more competitive, by encouraging them to lay off Americans and outsource their operations to low labor-cost countries. 

WATCH:

Would A Nuclear Iran Bring Stability To The Middle East?

by on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm EDT in Iran, Middle East, World

Kenneth Waltz, from the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, recently wrote a piece in Foreign Affairs entitled “Why Iran Should Get The Bomb,” in which he contends that “power begs to be balanced” — that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb would actually restore stability to the Middle East. Waltz’s is a viewpoint largely […]

Clinton To Iran: We Have No Proof You Are Pursuing WMDs, So Prove You Are Not Intending To

by on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm EDT in Iran, Middle East, World

Despite all intelligence agencies (in the U.S. and in Israel) reconfirming the assessment that “Iran hasn’t yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon and has not reconstituted a clandestine nuclear weapons program,” which the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) expressed, with “high confidence,” had been abandoned in 2003, the world is nonetheless punishing (boycotting) Iran, as if it […]

VIDEO: Green Party Pres. Candidate Jill Stein Discusses Iran And The State Of The Democratic Party

by on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm EDT in Election 2012, Politics

The Green Party Presidential Candidate, Jill Stein, appeared yesterday on The Real News Network, where she explained to Senior Editor Paul Jay why she chose NOT to run as a Democrat. In addition, she revealed how her position on Iran differs from President Obama’s, and then she delved into the details of her Green New Deal, […]

VIDEO Debate: Rashid Khalidi VS Jonathan Tobin: Attacking Iran, AIPAC, Israel-Palestine & Obama

by on Monday, March 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm EDT in Iran, Middle East, Politics, World

Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the annual policy conference of the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC. In his speech, he attempted to walk a fine line between reassuring the group of his ‘sacrosanct’ commitment to both Israel’s security and ethnic identity as a ‘Jewish state,’ and yet tamp down on its insistence that the United States bomb […]

New IAEA Report To Be Harsh On Iran, But WikiLeaks Doc Exposes IAEA Dir. General Subservience To U.S. On Iran Nuclear Program

by on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm EDT in Iran, WikiLeaks, World

On March 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will release a follow-up report on Iran’s nuclear program, and it is expected to be even harsher than its November 2011 report — which ultimately led to the current international sanctions and oil embargo against Iran. The upcoming follow-up report from the IAEA will apparently include […]

Mossad Frames The C.I.A. For Terrorist Attacks In Iran, As Israel Drags The U.S. Into War

by on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm EDT in Iran, Middle East, World

Despite what has been described as a full-court press by the Obama Administration to convince Israel not to attack Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. is now in fact preparing for such an attack. The Administration fears a range of possible Iranian reprisals directed at American targets, including “assaults by pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq against the […]

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki To President Obama: GET OUT!

by on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 12:19 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Iraq, Politics, World

Progressives and Libertarians alike have felt largely ignored by the Obama administration regarding their calls for immediate troop withdrawals.  It now appears there is some hope on the horizon.  Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki just stated to the Wall Street Journal that he wants U.S. troops out by the end of 2011.  Period.  No ifs, […]