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  • Will A Nuclear Deal Bring The U.S. And Iran Together?
    • My wife is Iranian and an American citizen. I have had two extended trips to Iran in recent years, and have been all around the country, from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. (Persepolis is fantastic) As an obvious American, I was received everywhere with courtesy, respect, and civility.

      Iran is changing very fast. It has a large and growing, educated and westernized economic class, more women than men have advanced university degrees as architects, educators, attorneys, and they drive and vote. The young people are huge on the internet, following music and culture from the whole world. Iran has a major underground of artists, intellectuals and literati (what we would call liberals) who are clued into all the latest western movies (via personal satellite connections) and fashions. Saudi Arabia it is not. Also true is that most of its advanced segments are sick and tired of the present theocratic Mullah dominated state.

      There are more Jews in Iran than in any other country in the middle east except for Israel. I visited the temple in Isfahan on a Saturday and spoke to many Iranian Jews. They were perfectly happy with their lives, and legal protections for their businesses. They said their families had been in Persia for maybe two thousand years. They also said that most Jews who left for Israel did so for financial incentives.

      Iran is not our enemy. We have far more interests in common than conflicts.  
      No more wars for Israel.  

  • Iran: What did Khamenei really say about the Lausanne Agreement, and Why?
    • Dear Professor Cole, thank you again for your analysis of the current negotiation. Please keep up your efforts. Look, you don't go to war because a nation has the "capability" to do something they have not done. And if you may dispute that Iran has every legal right under the NPT to a peaceful if robust nuclear research and energy program, please read for yourself Article IV of the NPT. Which makes this issue abundantly clear.

  • Israel - Iran Military Comparison
    • Professor Cole: If you think it useful, perhaps the following is illustrative of the problem.

      L.A Times, "U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb", February 23, 2012:

      link to

      "As U.S. and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: U.S. intelligence agencies don't believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb. A highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007".

      "Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003. The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so. Although Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, U.S. officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior U.S. officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analysis..."

  • Active Nuclear Arsenals and Iran's Absence
    • WaPo 2/11/12: "Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu criticized economic sanctions against Iran as ineffective and warned that any military strike against the country’s nuclear facilities would inflame the region while doing little to curb Iran’s ambitions..."

      “I am telling you, a military strike is a disaster,” Davutoglu told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “It should not be an option.”

      I wish more Americans knew that:

      1. Iran has signed the NPT which grants them in paragraph IV the "inalienable right" to develop nuclear technology for power generation and medical imaging isotopes. It is an easy google, see for yourself. Iran is not going to surrender their legal rights under the treaty.

      2. Iran's nuclear generation and enrichment facilities are currently under the constant inspection of the IAEA including the Qom facility. This inspection includes 24/7 video surveillance.

      3. There is no allegation by the IAEA that ANY enriched uranium has been diverted from its surveillance.

      4. There is no allegation that Iran has enriched any uranium beyond the 20% required for medical imaging isotopes, whereas enrichment to around 95% is required for any weaponization purposes, or that there is any violation of their NPT treaty obligations.

      5. "Might", "could", and "maybe" are not good reasons for another war that would certainly result in vast chaos from Lebanon to Pakistan militarily and politically.

      6. Iran with no nuclear weapons is zero military threat against nuclear superpower Israel.

      7. Israel has not signed the NPT and is in possession of hundreds of nuclear warheads. More importantly, it possesses the most advanced delivery systems in the world including nuclear powered ballistic missile firing submarines. A nation with zero nuclear weapons does not attack one with hundreds.

      8. Even if (a hypothetical) Iran did some day acquire a nuclear weapon (to secure itself from vicarious nuclear attack) it could never use it against Israel because of the intertwined nature of the Palestinian and Israeli populations. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in world Islam is in Jerusalem and they would never risk its destruction.

      9. A war initiated by Israel would spread to our interests in about half an hour. Prices for petroleum would certainly skyrocket to who knows what level, collapsing our fragile economy like a house of cards. Same for the whole world's economy for the same reasons.

      10. So if we really want all the hugely negative consequences, just raise your hands now. If not, this had better be prevented or it will be the capper that puts us in the crapper for good.

  • US out of Iraq, but Peace remains Elusive
    • Andreas Moser as above writes: "Supporting Israel is not what fuels tension. The neighboring states not accepting the existence of this state is what causes tension."

      This certainly what Mr. Moser would have us believe, but it is false. Zionism is the central and fundamental cause of America's conflict with militant Islam. And not because some Internet poster thinks or says so:

      From September 14, 2009 Bin Laden audiotape translated: edited: in part:

      "American people: This address to you is a reminder of the causes of 11 (September) and the wars and consequences that followed and the way to settle it once and for all…

      At the beginning, I say that we have made it clear and stated so many times for over two decades that the cause of the quarrel with you is your support for your Israeli allies, who have occupied our land, Palestine. This position of yours, along with some other grievances, is what prompted us to carry out the 11 September events. Had you known the magnitude of our suffering as a result of the injustice of the Jews against us, with the support of your administrations for them, you would have known that both our nations are victims of the policies of the White House, which is in fact a hostage in the hands of pressure groups, especially major corporations and the Israeli lobby.”

      "If you thoroughly consider your situation, you will know that the White House is occupied by pressure groups. You should have made efforts to liberate it rather than fight to liberate Iraq, as Bush claimed. The White House leader, under such circumstances, and regardless of who he is, is like a train driver who cannot but travel on the railways designed by these pressure groups. Otherwise, his way would be blocked and he would fear that his destiny would be like that of former President Kennedy and his brother.”

      "In a nutshell, it is time to free yourselves from fear and intellectual terrorism being practiced against you by the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby. You should put the file of your alliance with the Israelis on the table of discussion. You should ask yourselves the following question so that you can determine your position: Do you like the Israelis' security, sons, and economy more than your security, blood, sons, money, jobs, houses, economy, and reputation? If you choose your security and stopping the wars -- and this has been shown by opinion polls -- then this requires that you act to stop those who are tampering with our security on your end. We are prepared to respond to this option on sound and fair foundations that have been mentioned before.”

      "Once again, if you stop the war, then that is fine. If you choose not to stop the war, then we have no other option but to continue the war of attrition against you on all possible axes, just as we did with the Soviet Union for 10 years until it disintegrated, with the grace of God. Continue the war for as long as you wish. You are fighting a desperate, losing war that is in favor of others. There seems to be no end in sight for this war.”

      From January 24, 2010 Bin Laden audiotape: in part:

      “America will not even dream of security until security becomes a reality in Palestine. It is not fair that you enjoy your lives, while our brothers in Gaza live in hardship. Therefore, our raids against you will continue, Allah willing, as long as your support of the Israelis continues.”

      Unpleasant as the truth may be, we should have the courage to face it squarely. OBL is dead, and that is fine with me. Justice done. But if you do not know or may care to blind yourself to the truth, the war can go on forever. Or until we collapse.

      For my part, I just want America off this bus before it goes over the cliff.

  • Iran Alleges Saudi Plot Story is MEK Sting
    • Interpol has gained information about the second suspect in the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States indicating that he is a key member of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).

      A source told the Mehr news agency on Monday that Interpol has learned that Gholam-Hossein Shakouri, aka Ali Shakouri and Gholam Shakouri, the second suspect in the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, is one of the senior members of the MKO, which is an anti-Iranian terrorist group.

      Shakouri has travelled to numerous countries with many fake identity documents, including forged Iranian passports, and he was last seen in Washington and at Camp Ashraf, where MKO members are based, the source added.

      One of the passports used by Shakouri was issued on November 30, 2006 in Washington with the number K10295631.

      The MKO fled to Iraq in the 1980s, where it enjoyed the support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and set up Camp Ashraf in the eastern province of Diyala, near the Iranian border.

      Over 3,000 MKO members are currently residing at the camp. In addition, the group has sent elements to Iran on spying and terrorist missions.

      The MKO is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community and has committed numerous terrorist acts against both Iranians and Iraqis.

      Iran has repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to expel the group, but the US has been putting pressure on the Iraqi government to block the expulsion.

      Earlier in the day, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said that the prime suspect in the alleged plot, Mansour Arbabsiar, who is also a cousin of Shakouri, had received forged identity documents from the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

      On October 11, the US Justice Department accused Iran of plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, with help from a man suspected of being a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

      Tehran says the media hype created by Washington is an attempt to deflect international attention from the anti-corruption and anti-corporatism protests currently rocking the country.

      Iran's envoy to the UN, Mohammad Khazaei, has filed a complaint against the US for what he called the “evil plot.”

      Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has described the US accusation as an immature scenario and says US officials will ultimately be forced to apologize.

  • Wagging the Dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart
    • This sounds much more like an elaborate and professional Mossad set-up than an Iranian plot. Cui Bono? (What POSSIBLE good interest of Iran would be served by a bomb assassination of the Saudi ambassador in DC? Whose interests would be advanced? Who propagates for war with Iran?) But that point aside...

      According to Rasool Nafisi, an Iranian-American scholar who studies the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, rogue elements of the Revolutionary Guards Quds force conceivably might have concocted the plot without top-level approval, perhaps to prevent rapprochement between Iran and the U.S.

      So why play into their hands and let them succeed even though the plot itself failed? The absolute last thing this country needs is to be played into a new and most catastrophic war with Iran. We love to invoke international law when it serves our purposes, and totally ignore it when it suits us.

      Where was international law when we overthrew the Iranian democracy in 1953 via CIA operation Ajax? (from which devolves all our problems with Iran)

      Where was international law when we supported Saddam’s eight-year war with Iran, including the use of chemical weapons, and Rumsfield went to Iraq to shake his hand?

      Where was international law when in 1988 a US cruiser shot down an Iranian Airbus in the Persian Gulf, in Iranian national waters, killing 290 civilians?

      The absolute last thing we need is another catastrophic war with Iran. Sure, we can blast them and create vast chaos, but chaos is one enemy no amount of bombing can cure. How does the slamming shut of the Straights of Hormuz sound to you, through which passes about half of all the petroleum exports of the whole world? Small boat actions and various missile strikes could do that very easily.

      I argue we should not let the Quds force succeed (if they were not being set-up that is) even though their plot failed. Sounds reasonable to me.

  • Biden: US Could be in Afghanistan Past 2014; Bombing Shakes Capital
    • In Afghanistan we are fighting what is called a “Protracted War” in military theory. If you may not know what this refers to, google “On Protracted War” and read just a bit. But if this is too much trouble, here is a hint. It is the antithesis of what may be called a war of quick decision, where combat results in any particular battle are important.

      Politics are the core element of the conflict, and perseverance. Mao tse-Dung (who wrote "On Protracted War") believed the theory that "weapons decide everything” constituted a mechanical approach to the question of war and is a subjective and one-sided view in instance of irregular and asymmetric conflicts, especially on the Asian mainland.

      He saw not only weapons and the strength of armies, but also people. Weapons are an important factor in a Protracted War, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive.

      The enemy attacks, we withdraw. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy withdraws, we pursue.

      And as for the Pashtun (most of whom reside east of the phony Durand Line in Pakistan, where outside of occasional Predator drone strikes with Hellfire missiles they largely have a strategic sanctuary) the more we kill, the more they hate our guts.

      And so it is in Afghanistan. To be sure, there are many differences between China in the 1930’s, or Vietnam, and the Afghanistan conflict today, but it is the similarities that will be of consequence.

      Logistically, it is a battle at the end of the world (landlocked central Asia) that is estimated in direct costs alone to be about one million dollars per man in country per year, and where a single gallon of gasoline, at delivery to one of the FOBs in Afghanistan, costs about $400 per single gallon! All borrowed and added to our deficits, because no American would agree to pay war taxes to cover this massive expense.

      Reason is a weak sister compared to raw and inflamed emotions. I have a favorite quote on this from Edward Gibbon. He wrote: (appropriately from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire): It is well known that, while reason embraces a cold mediocrity, our passions hurry us with rapid violence over the space, which lies between the most opposite extremes.

  • Enormous Truck Bomb Kills 6 US Troops in Afghanistan as Constitutional Crisis Looms
    • I think Karzai smarter than do many. Cunning actually. He well knows there is no military solution in Afghanistan. He knows that the more houses we smash into in the middle of the night, the more the killing and devastation, the worse the eventual outcome. And if he stays around too long, his life is in jeopardy and all the money in Dubai useless to him if he ends up assassinated.

      I think Karzai is preparing a two pronged strategy, for himself of course. Let's see how right this prognostication turns out to be.

      1) I think Karzai is getting ready to "retire" if you will, to resign his office and go to Dubai where his accounts are shall we say, in very good order.

      He will blame the Americans and really unleash his criticisms at such time. He will gain his personal safety and enhance his credibility with the nationalist factions of the Pashtun.

      2) With his safety (and financial status secure) and his credibility enhanced, he is not removed from the political fray, far from it. His position is vastly enhanced to be the kingmaker in the eventual outcome, whatever that may be. And it may be as "king" in an overt way, since that is the only structure that has ever worked for long in Afghanistan.

      What most American never really focus on, is the fact that the Pashtun are primarily nationalist in central dynamics, with Islam as the veneer. (Just like in Vietnam, where nationalism was also the driving force to re-unify their country, and with in that case Communism as the veneer.)

      Most Pashtun reside east of the Durand Line, that is in Pakistan. Being as it is essentially impossible and infeasible to ever seal the border, they maintain a strategic reserve that is fundamental in most ultimately successful insurgencies in the nature of a Peoples War.

      The Pakistanis know this too. That is why they are fundamentally conflicted on this war, and play both sides. On the one hand, they have taken significant military suppression campaigns against the anti-Pakistani Taliban (Pashtun) but refuse to do anything really important against the anti-ISAF Taliban forces in the FATA which are headquartered in Quetta.

      Quetta, the main city of Pakistani Baluchistan, is a natural fort, surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. We are informed that most of the Taliban high command is centered there, safe from Predator drone strikes with their Hellfire missiles.

      So cut and paste this one, and let's see if this internet prognosticator turns out to be correct.

      With much thanks again to Professor Cole.

  • Wikileaks on Israel, Iraq and the Iranian Specter
    • From Wikileaks reports:

      "...King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly asked the United States to "cut off the head of the snake"- presumably meaning to attack Iran's nuclear program - while there was still time".

      Well yeah, I guess he would like to see a new war, one of whose most immediate CONSEQUENCES would be for the price of a barrel of oil to shoot from today's price of about $80 to who knows what, say around $300? I can see how that would serve his interests.

      But surely not ours. That would implode our stuttering economy like a house of cards. Not to mention the entire world economy. How does the thought of gas at around $6 to $9 per gallon strike you? How does the thought of the massive drain on our finances to buy the roughly half of our total consumption from foreign suppliers strike you? Is this not even worth a casual thought?

      A new war against Iran would have calamitous CONSEQUENCES military, geopolitical and economic so horrible, one can hardly overstate them. Chaos from Beirut to Pakistan. It is easy to start the bombing, but whey they strike back, it is hard to stop. And chaos is one foe that no amount of bombing can quell.

      And not even to mention that we currently have two ongoing quagmire wars with no end in sight.

      We stood down the Soviet Union. Iran can not even be compared to them and the real threat it presented. The notion that Iran would strike say Poland or Hungary in some missile strike is ludicrous. The only thing more ludicrous is the allegation that Iran, a nation with zero nuclear weapons, would attack Israel, a nation with hundreds of same and the most advanced delivery systems.

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