Monday, May 26, 2008

Befehl ist Befehl
The Real Memories of Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day and I have some questions.

Is a day off from work (well, not for me, but for most) an appropriate way to remember the fallen troops of current and past wars? What about those people that our troops killed? What if the troops are engaged in an illegal invasion and occupation and shouldn't be there in the first place? Are we to memorialize any military service, regardless of whether soldiers' actions or the entirety of the military operations were right or wrong? When is a soldier's death not to be hailed as heroic? And when do the deaths of the millions of innocent victims of the US military get their own day of remembrance? When memory of the past fails, how can there be justice in the future?

In a recent article, professor David Model reminds us that

all [US] presidents since World War II have committed horrendous crimes against humanity in order to protect and advance American interests under the guise of liberating people from under the jackboot of brutal dictators or communist subversives, bringing democracy to totalitarian states, improving the lives of those who are suffering and eradicating terrorism.

These are laudable goals reflecting prevailing shibboleths domestically. These goals are an alluring mantle for the real paradigm governing foreign policy which is the pursuit of American interests with total indifference to the consequences to people victimized by American “ideals”.
As a result, people die. People killed by US soldiers. The same soldiers we're supposed to memorialize today. Soldiers who traveled across oceans and over continents to kill people in their own countries, in their own homes, at the behest of politicians and generals.

But if soldiers just follow orders, and we should blame their superiors or their commander-in-chief or the world-at-large for their actions, aren't we then forgetting the words of the Nuremberg Principles that state,
"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."
Along with memories of troops falling in battle, shouldn't we remember those who committed suicide on duty or after they returned home because of the mental and physical damage sustained by being sent to kill? But if war is a trauma of humanity, it is certainly not only soldiers who suffer. And if the defense of superior orders isn't a suitable justification for committing war crimes or plea against prosecution, why do soldiers deserve our tribute at all? Because they fight against their will? Because they do what they can to survive? Because they're in a tight spot? Or because, if they didn't, we'd all be speaking German or Russian or Arabic by now?

Я сомневаюсь относительно этого.

And so today, Memorial Day, are we remembering the lives lost, the lives taken, the lives destroyed by war? And if we are, let's be sure to remember all of them, not just the ones who died wearing an American uniform, because, most likely, their camouflage was just as stained with the blood of innocent civilians as it was with olive drab.


War Immemorial Day

Bill Quigley | Counterpunch | 26 May 2008

Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says: “Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace.” (64 Stat.158).

Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States. The U.S. is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most aggressive. Unless the U.S. dramatically reduces its emphasis on global military action, there will be many, many more families grieving on future Memorial days.

The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the rest of the world combined. China, our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend. The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation in the world.

The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and our territories, according to Chalmers Johnson in his excellent book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC (2007).

The Department of Defense (DOD) reports nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel today. Over a quarter of a million are in other countries from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian employees.
The US has used its armed forces abroad over 230 times according to researchers at the Department of the Navy Historical Center. Their publications list over 60 military efforts outside the U.S. since World War II.

While the focus of most of the Memorial Day activities will be on U.S. military dead, no effort is made to try to identify or remember the military or civilians of other countries who have died in the same actions. For example, the U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties. “We don’t do body counts,” General Tommy Franks said.

Most people know of the deaths in World War I – 116,000 U.S. soldiers killed. But how many in the U.S. know that over 8 million soldiers from other countries and perhaps another 8 million civilians also died during World War II?

By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers were killed. World-wide, at least another 20 million soldiers and civilians died.

The U.S. is not only the largest and most expensive military on the planet but it is also the most active. Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S. military force in the following countries:

1947-1949 Greece. Over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers were sent into Greece to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil war.

1947-1949 Turkey. Over 400 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent into Turkey,

1950-1953 Korea. In the Korean War and other global conflicts 54,246 U.S. service members died.

1957–1975 Vietnam. Over 58,219 U.S. killed.

1958-1984 Lebanon. Sixth Fleet amphibious Marines and U.S. Army troops landed in Beirut during their civil war. Over 3000 U.S. military participated. 268 U.S. military killed in bombing.

1959 Haiti. U.S. troops, Marines and Navy, land in Haiti and joined in support of military dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier against rebels.

1962 Cuba. Naval and Marine forces blockade island.

1964 Panama. U.S. troops stationed there since 1903. U.S. troops used gunfire and tear gas to clear US Canal Zone.

1965-1966 Dominican Republic. U.S. troops land in Dominican Republic during their civil war – eventually 23,000 were stationed in their country.

1969-1975 Cambodia. U.S. and South Vietnam jets dropped more than 539,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia – three times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.

1964-1973 Laos. U.S. flew 580,000 bombing runs over country – more than 2 million tons of bombs dropped – double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany. US dropped more than 80 million cluster bombs on Laos – 10 to 30% did not explode leaving 8 to 24 million scattered across the country. Since the war stopped, two or three Laotians are killed every month by leftover bombs – over 5700 killed since bombing stopped.

1980 Iran. Operation Desert One, 8 U.S. troops die in rescue effort.

1981 Libya. U.S. planes aboard the Nimitz shot down 2 Libyan jets over Gulf of Sidra.

1983 Grenada. U.S. Army and Marines invade, 19 U.S. killed.

1983 Lebanon. Over 1200 Marines deployed into country during their civil war. 241 U.S. service members killed in bombing.

1983-1991 El Salvador. Over 150 US soldiers participate in their civil war as military advisers.

1983 Honduras. Over 1000 troops and National Guard members deployed into Honduras to help the contra fight against Nicaragua.

1986 Libya. U.S. Naval air strikes hit hundreds of targets – airfields, barracks, and defense networks.

1986 Bolivia. U.S. Army troops assist in anti-drug raids on cocaine growers.

1987 Iran. Operation Nimble Archer. U.S. warships shelled two Iranian oil platforms during Iran-Iraq war.

1988 Iran. US naval warship Vincennes in Persian Gulf shoots down Iranian passenger airliner, Airbus A300, killing all 290 people on board. US said it thought it was Iranian military jet.

1989 Libya. U.S. Naval jets shoot down 2 Libyan jets over Mediterranean

1989-1990 Panama. U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy forces invade Panama to arrest President Manuel Noriega on drug charges. U.N. puts civilian death toll at 500.

1989 Philippines. U.S. jets provide air cover to Philippine troops during their civil war.

1991 Gulf War. Over 500,000 U.S. military involved. 700 plus U.S. died.

1992-93 Somalia. Operation Provide Relief, Operation Restore Hope, and Operation Continue Hope. Over 1300 U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces landed in 1992. A force of over 10,000 US was ultimately involved. Over 40 U.S. soldiers killed.

1992-96 Yugoslavia. U.S. Navy joins in naval blockade of Yugoslavia in Adriatic waters.

1993 Bosnia. Operation Deny Flight. U.S. jets patrol no-fly zone, naval ships launch cruise missiles, attack Bosnian Serbs.

1994 Haiti. Operation Uphold Democracy. U.S. led force of 20,000 troops invade to restore president.

1995 Saudi Arabia. U.S. soldier killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia outside US training facility.

1996 Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. service personnel die in blast at Saudi Air Base.

1998 Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. cruise missiles fired at pharmaceutical plant thought to be terrorist center.

1998 Afghanistan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. fires 75 cruise missiles on four training camps.

1998 Iraq. Operation Desert Fox. U.S. Naval bombing Iraq from striker jets and cruise missiles after weapons inspectors report Iraqi obstructions.

1999 Yugoslavia. U.S. participates in months of air bombing and cruise missile strikes in Kosovo war.

2000 Yemen. 17 U.S. sailors killed aboard US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole docked in Aden, Yemen.

2001 Macedonia. U.S. military lands troops during their civil war.

2001 to present Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan. 432 U.S. killed in those countries. Another 64 killed in other locations of OEF – Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen. US military does not count deaths of non- US civilians, but estimates of over 8000 Afghan troops killed, over 3500 Afghan civilians killed.

2002 Yemen. U.S. predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda.

2002 Philippines. U.S. sends over 1800 troops and Special Forces in mission with local military.

2003-2004 Colombia. U.S. sends in 800 military to back up Columbian military troops in their civil war.

2003 to present Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom. 4082 U.S. military killed. British medical journal Lancet estimates over 90,000 civilian deaths. Iraq Body Count estimates over 84,000 civilians killed.

2005 Haiti. U.S. troops land in Haiti after elected president forced to leave.

2005 Pakistan. U.S. air strikes inside Pakistan against suspected Al Qaeda, killing mostly civilians.

2007 Somalia. U.S. Air Force gunship attacked suspected Al Qaeda members, U.S. Navy joins in blockade against Islamic rebels.

The U.S. has the most powerful and expensive military force in the world. The U.S. is the biggest arms merchant. And the U.S. has been the most aggressive in world-wide interventions. If Memorial Day in the U.S. is supposed to be about praying for peace, the U.S. has a lot of praying (and changing) to do.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. His email is quigley77(at)


Here are some more Memorial Day articles:

Memorial Day - Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Truthout

Retreating From Hell: A Different Memorial Day - Col. Dan Smith, Counterpunch

No Room on the Wall - John Cory, Truthout

Happy Revisionist History Day! - Sheldon Richman, Free Association

On This Memorial Day - Camillo "Mac" Bica, Truthout

Why Memorial Day is a Double-Whammy For Me - Cindy Sheehan, Counterpunch


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Happy Ethnic Cleansiversary!
Zionism's Continuing Fête Accompli

I have been attempting to compose some sort of post for the past couple weeks about the recent worldwide celebrations in honor of the 60th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence. I have yet to figure out exactly what I wish to say. Nothing seems to sum up how I feel about cheering the birth and life of an ethno-supremacist state that fronts as a true democracy. I have no new relevations to impart, nothing really to say that hasn't already been written about. I am at a loss. What is there to celebrate?

To celebrate Israeli independence is to celebrate racism, terrorism, dehumanization, demonization, mass murder, death squads, ethno-religious supremacy, the expulsion, exile, and dispossession of a native people, the triumph of a 19th Century European imperial and colonial ideology and the exploitation of 3000-year-old mythology, oppression, subjugation, land and property theft, and sixty subsequent years of militarization, territorial expansion, settlement building and annexation barriers, house demolitions, economic strangulation and political disenfranchisement, apartheid-style legal policies and restrictions on movement, institutionalized segregation, the aggressive disdain for basic human rights, and the subversion and neglect of international law, including more than four decades of military occupation.

To celebrate the birth of the state of Israel is to laud the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people in 1947-48. There is no way to separate these two events. The national independence achieved by 20th Century Zionists is synonymous with the disaster (Al-Nakba) of deliberate and systematic ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population, whose land and lives were violently taken from them by the crusading settlers. This disaster is the root cause of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it is solely responsible for the Palestinian refugee crisis, and it is the main obstacle to peace and justice in the Middle East.

To celebrate the "independence" of Israel is to condemn the strive for equality and co-existence. It is to commend collective punishment and deny collective memory. It is to praise Plan Dalet, to hail the Deir Yassin and Tantura massacres, and to legitimize the genocidal and brazen words and actions of Israel's founders, such as its first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who said, "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."

That the state of Israel was created through the most vile of means and for the most ethnocentric of reasons is not controversial. Historians, both Israeli and international, do not question the facts. It is only here in the United States that Israel's founding myths have persisted.

A letter to the Guardian (UK), signed by over one hundred British Jews, explains very clearly why the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation is no cause for festivity, but rather should be that of the recognition of the historical and cultural narrative of "the other," to commemorate the loss and mourning of those to whom a grave injustice has been done and to whom injustices continue, crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and total occupation, that occur in plain sight on a daily basis, to acknowledge the strength, achievement, and unflagging perseverance of a desperate and tormented people, and hopefully to serve as an rallying cry to make right what has, for so long, been wrong.

The letter to the Guardian states,

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.
Again, these facts are not disputed. They are not up for interpretation. They are historical events and not questioned by any experts or authorities, despite Zionist efforts to rewrite, disguise, and twist the facts of the story to serve their racist ideologies, policies, and desires. Israel denies Palestinians the right to return to their land, despite the demands of international law. A 75-year old Palestinian woman is not allowed to visit the village in which she grew up, yet a 19-year-old Jewish girl from Brooklyn is automatically deemed to be a citizen of Israel and can travel anywhere in the "Jewish" state that she pleases, sometimes even for free. What is there to celebrate?

Crimes against humanity should not be celebrated, and yet, Israel and its supporters have been partying like there's no tomorrow (which at this rate, there may not be). Nevertheless, there is a past - a blood-soaked past that needs to be remembered as it really happened. There is a distressing, frustrating, and violent present; a present fraught with injustice, with racism, with vengeance, with occupation. A present in which the resistance to oppression is deemed everything from bigoted boycotts to extremist terrorism and the continuing efforts to alienate and exterminate an entire native population and their descendants is hailed in the false name of security and defense. But Palestinians continue to resist their expected fate as the result of Israeli independence. It is this continued resistance that keeps the Palestinian Nakba an ongoing and unjust situation in the present, rather than a successful, completed, and irreversible catastrophe in the past. As Columbia professor Joseph Massad recently wrote,
" resisting the Nakba, the Palestinians have struck at the heart of the Zionist project that insists that the Nakba be seen as a past event. In resisting Israel, Palestinians have forced the world to witness the Nakba as present action; one that, contrary to Zionist wisdom, is indeed reversible. This is precisely what galls Israel and the Zionist movement. Israel's inability to complete its mission of thoroughly colonizing Palestine, of expelling all Palestinians, of "gathering" all Jews in the world in its colony, keeps it uneasy and keeps its project always in the present continuous.

While Israel has used this situation to project itself as a victim of its own victims who refuse to grant it legitimacy to victimize them, Israel understands not only in its unconscious but also consciously that its project will remain reversible. The cruelty it has shown and continues to show to the Palestinian people is directly proportional to its belief in their ability to overthrow its achievements and reverse its colonial project. The problem for Israel is not in believing and knowing that there is not one single place in its colonial settlement that did not have a former Arab population, but in its realization that there is no place today in its imaginary "Jewish State" that does not still have an Arab population who claims it.

That the Nakba remains unfinished is precisely because Palestinians refuse to let it transform them into mankubin. [The Arabic term mankubin is explained earlier in Massad's piece thusly: "English does not help much in translating mankubin, unless we can stretch the language a bit and call Palestinians a catastrophe-d or disaster-ed people."] What we are witnessing at this year's commemorations, then, is not only one more year of the Nakba but also one more year of resisting it. Those who counsel the Palestinians to accept the Nakba know that to accept the Nakba is to allow it to continue unfettered. Palestinians know better. The only way to end the Nakba, Palestinians insist, is to continue to resist it.
With this in mind, perhaps there can still be a hopeful future that sees human rights honored and justice done. Now wouldn't that be something to celebrate?


Remembering 1948
and Looking to the Future

Ali Abunimah | The Electronic Intifada | 13 May 2008

Twenty-six-year-old Jamila Merhi was forced from her family's home in Akbara village near Safad, Palestine in 1948. Now, 86, she lives in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon and still holds onto a copy of her family's deed for their land in Palestine. (Matthew Cassel)
This month Israel marks the 60th anniversary of its founding. But amidst the festivities including visits by international celebrities and politicians there is deep unease -- Israel has skeletons in its closet that it has tried hard to hide, and anxieties about an uncertain future which make many Israelis question whether the state will celebrate an 80th birthday.

Official Israel remains in complete denial that the birth it celebrates is inextricably linked with the near destruction of the vibrant Palestinian culture and society that had existed until then. It's not an unfamiliar dilemma for settler states. The United States, where I live, has found that even the passage of centuries cannot absolve a nation from confronting the crimes committed at its founding.

As the noted Israeli historian and staunch Zionist Benny Morris put it in 2004, "a Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them." He went on, "there are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing."

But if one is not prepared to openly justify ethnic cleansing, there's only two real options: to deny history and take comfort in an airbrushed story that paints Israelis as brave, divinely inspired pioneers in a desert devoid of indigenous people and beset by external enemies, or to own up to the consequences and support the enormous redress needed to bring justice and peace.

Just before Israel's founding, Palestinians of all religions made up two thirds of the settled population of historic Palestine, while Jewish immigrants, recently arrived from Europe, made up most of the rest.

Among those uprooted was my mother, then nine years old. Now living in Amman, she remembers a happy childhood in her native Jerusalem neighborhood of Lifta. My grandfather owned several buildings and many of his tenants were Jews, including the family who rented the downstairs apartment in their house.

Early in 1948 -- before any Arab states' armies got involved -- she and her entire family, indeed all the inhabitants of several neighboring West Jerusalem areas, were forced out by Zionist militias. On 7 February that year, Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion told members of his party, "From your entry into Jerusalem, through Lifta-Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, through King George Street and Mea Shearim -- there are no strangers [i.e. Arabs]. One hundred percent Jews." So it was that the Palestinians became "strangers" in the land of their birth.

Since that time millions of refugees and their descendants who lost their homes, farms, groves, livestock, factories, stores, tools, automobiles, bank accounts, art work, insurance policies, furniture and every other possession have lived in exile, many in squalid refugee camps maintained by Israel and Arab states. Over 80 percent of the Palestinians now besieged and starved in the Gaza Strip are refugees from towns now in Israel. But what Palestinians could never be forced to part with -- and this we do celebrate -- is our attachment to our homeland and the determination to see justice done.

Palestinians all over the world are commemorating the start of our ongoing tragedy, but we are also looking forward. We are at an important turning point, where two things are happening at once. First, despite ritual declarations of international support, the prospect of a two-state solution has all but disappeared as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are caged into walled reservations by growing Israeli settlements and settler-only roads -- a situation that resembles the bantustans of apartheid South Africa.

Second, despite Israel's efforts to keep Palestinians in check, the Palestinian population living under Israeli rule is about to exceed the five million Israeli Jews. Today there are 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and another 1.5 million Palestinians who are nominally citizens of Israel. Sometimes called "Israeli Arabs," Palestinians in Israel are increasingly restive about their second class status in a Jewish state that regards them as a hostile fifth column. While Palestinians in Israel call for equal rights in a state of all its citizens, some Israeli Jewish politicians threaten them with expulsion to the West Bank, Gaza Strip or beyond.

Official projections show that by 2025, Palestinians, due to their much higher birth rate, will exceed Israeli Jews in the country by two million and though few in the international community have woken up to this reality, a surgical separation between these populations is impossible.

Israeli leaders understand what they are up against; Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last November: "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."

This struggle has already begun as more and more Palestinians, recognizing that statehood is unrealistic, debate and adopt the one-state solution, offering Israelis and Palestinians equal rights in the land they share. Last year, I was part of a group of Palestinians, Israelis and others who published the "One State Declaration." Inspired partly by South Africa's Freedom Charter, we set out principles for a common future in a single democratic state. Most Israelis, unsurprisingly, recoil at comparisons with apartheid South Africa. The good news for them is that the end of apartheid did not bring about the disaster many feared. Rather, it was a new dawn for all the people of the country.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006). A version of this essay was originally published by The Sydney Morning Herald.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

MOTHER'S DAY, 138 Years Later...

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

In 1870, five years after the carnage and destruction of the American Civil War and during the rising bloodshed of the Franco-Prussian War, Julia Ward Howe (the well-known poet, abolitionist, pacifist, social activist, and, ironically, author of the now-bastardized unofficial theme song of the GOP, The Battle Hymn of the Republic) penned the now-all-but-forgotten Mother's Day Proclamation. This proclamation speaks to all the world's mothers, the givers of life, bestowers of morality, and implores them to teach the principles of peace to their children.

Clearly, we can learn the tragic consequence of bad parenting by looking at the maternal personage of current predatoresident and crusader-in-chief, George W. Bush. Barbara Bush is responsible for the Marie Antoinettesque utterance on September 5, 2005 at the Houston Astrodome, regarding the recently evacuated victims of Hurricane Katrina:

"What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this - this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
Working very well for them, eh? Indeed. But let's not forget the real gem in Babs' quote bank, that she blurted out on ABC's Good Morning America, back in 2003:
"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or that or what do you suppose? It's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
These disgusting, arrogant words were spoken on March 18, 2003, exactly one day before Barbara Bush's son began dropping 2,000-pound GBU-27 Bunker Busters and Tomahawk cruise missiles onto innocent, Iraqi civilians at Dora Farms, thereby signaling the illegal invasion of Iraq, which officially followed the next day. With that very first salvo, supposedly planned to eliminate much of the Hussein family (including Saddam himself), American forces murdered fifteen civilians, nine of whom were women, as well as one child. The situation has not since improved.

Barbara Bush, former first lady and mother to a murderer, once said (to Hillary Clinton, no less), "If they quote you, make damn sure they heard you." Well, don't worry, Barbie, we heard you. We certainly heard you.

Mother's Day, in its truest form, is not the Hallmark holiday of today but rather a day for peace and justice, for compassion and unity, for mercy and humanity. Julia Ward Howe called upon women to come together to commemorate their fallen sons and daughters and to find "the means whereby the great human family can live together in peace..." in a world without weapons and warfare.

Below is Howe's magnificent Mother's Day Proclamation. Read it twice and then again and then promise to teach your children to respect human life, all human life, regardless of nationality, political allegiance, religious beliefs, skin color, gender, or sexual orientation. And, oh yeah, last time I checked, you can't respect human life and human rights if you're occupying another country and its people.


Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

- Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, 1870


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bush and Bushehr: Dumb Beat To 'War'
Who Are The Real Nuclear Terrorists?

Is this year's mega-blockbuster going to be the new Indiana Jones movie, or will it instead be a third illegal attack and invasion of a Middle Eastern country? Let's hope it's the former, though many signs and foreign policy experts point to the latter. In the past few weeks, even, there has been a striking up-tick in US government propaganda demonizing Iran and promoting unsubstantiated claims of both a phantom nuclear menace and the training of Iraqi "extremists" (has the term insurgent already lost its sexiness?). The recent accusations levied against Iran (in the hopes of turning public opinion in favor of another unprovoked act of aggression on an innocent, sovereign nation) include escalating rhetoric regarding Iran's role in aiding Iraqi militia groups and the repeated falsehoods regarding Iran's totally legal nuclear program.

Within the span of a single week, genocide candidate Hillary Clinton threatened to "obliterate" the entire country of Iran in response to a ludicrous question regarding a hypothetical, "unprovoked" Iranian nuclear attack on Israel within the next ten years, a cargo ship called Westward Venture and carrying US military hardware fired "warning" shots at Iranian speed boats in the Persian Gulf (sound familiar?), and a second U.S. aircraft carrier was positioned in the Gulf. The addition of the warship was described by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates not as an escalation, but rather as a "reminder" to Iran.

It would seem that the US is doing its best to instigate some sort of Iranian conflict, what with unjust UN Security Council sanctions against Iran for refusing to stop doing something it has every legal right to continue doing, surrounding Iran with US troops, a growing armada, and military bases, and, most recently, a secret authorization by George W. Bush to widen covert operations against Iran. Andrew Cockburn, a regular contributor to Counterpunch, reports,

Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, "unprecedented in its scope."

Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat.

Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran. Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime.

All this costs money, which in turn must be authorized by Congress, or at least a by few witting members of the intelligence committees. That has not proved a problem. An initial outlay of $300 million to finance implementation of the finding has been swiftly approved with bipartisan support, apparently regardless of the unpopularity of the current war and the perilous condition of the U.S. economy.
Even just yesterday, the propaganda continued to spew forth from the pages of the New York Times, penned by none other than "journalist" Michael R. Gordon (creative writing buddy of Bush administration hack Judith Miller and co-author of most of the Times' nonsense reporting regarding Iraq's WMDs in 2002. Yup, all those lies and he's still at it!) and claiming that members of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been training Iraqi fighters near Iran's capital city of Tehran. Juan Cole, in response to this story, writes today, "I am suspicious of this story not because it is necessarily untrue (how would I know?) but because it shares with typical Bush administration propaganda the 'gotcha' technique in which questions of proportionality, significance and causality do not arise." Essentially, for my part, given Gordon's dubious past, anything he writes should be considered laughable fiction and used to sop up cat vomit at the absolute earliest convenience.

So, at this point, the legitimacy of a US assault on Iran rests upon two equally absurd allegations, as previously mentioned: Iran's training of Iraqi militias and its Israel-threatening nuclear weapons program. Unfortunately for the US (and Israel), both of these claims are baseless and founded only on manipulating the general public and furthering the US/Israeli policies of political and military intimidation, territorial expansion, and imperial hegemony...though bald-faced lies haven't seemed to deter their war policies before.

Two weeks ago, CIA director Michael Hayden, while speaking at Kansas State University, actually said, "It is my opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq." This is a very serious allegation and supposedly founded in proof that Iran has provided money and weaponry to Iraqi fighters. An Associated Press report elaborates,
U.S. military officials have said its evidence that Iran is aiding Iraqi militias includes caches of weapons that have date stamps showing they were produced in Iran this year. The weapons include mortars, rockets, small arms, roadside bombs and armor-piercing explosives - known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs - that troops have discovered in recent months, according to another senior military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the evidence has not yet been made public.

According to one official, plans for U.S. officials to publicly present the evidence of Iranian support for the militias have been delayed to give the Iraqis time to speak directly to Tehran about the problem.
Numerous reports last week cited claims from US officials speaking on behalf of the Iraqi government, which they say is "tired of the Iranians meddling in Iraq." An L.A. Times report reveals that Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that Iraq is subject to the "increasingly lethal and malign influence" of the Iranian government, a viewpoint shared and promoted by the top US commander in Iraq and commander-elect of CentCom, General David Petraeus. (Quick question: what type of influence does the American occupation have in Iraq? As Paul Craig Roberts reminds us, "It is the US, not Iran, that is responsible for as many as one million dead Iraqis and four million displaced Iraqis, the 'collateral damage' of a 'cakewalk war' now into its sixth year?")

Mullen, during a news conference in late April, stated that the Pentagon is indeed planning and preparing for, what he called, "potential military courses of action" against Iran. The Joint Chief continued that, while a third Middle East engagement in seven years would be "extremely stressing" on the already over-extended US military, "it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability." He then went on to contradict Hayden's comments by admitting that there is "no smoking gun which could prove that the highest leadership [of Iran] is involved in [Iraqi militia attacks]."

Earlier that week, in a speech at West Point, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spouted the oft-repeated lie that Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons," continuing that a military conflict with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."

Despite all of this ever-so-menacing and scrotum-swinging rhetoric from top American officials and military brass, Admiral Mullen has since backtracked a bit from his previous statements by saying yesterday, during an interview in Jerusalem, that "I actually am very hopeful that we don't get into a position where we have to get into a conflict [with Iran]," adding, "It would be a very significant challenge for the United States right now to get into a third conflict in that part of the world." So, basically, it's not that they don't want to bomb Iran, it's that they don't think they could get away with it easily. How reassuring.

But, wait, what actually happened when the Iraqi delegation went to Iran to address the issues of Iranian "influence" in Iraq?

Maybe the headline from a McClatchy Newspapers article on Sunday is a good indication: Iraq backs off allegations that Iran is behind violence.

The report says,
The Iraqi Government seemed to distance itself from U.S. accusations towards Iran Sunday saying it would not be forced into conflict with its Shiite neighbor. And Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordered the formation of a committee to look into foreign intervention in Iraq.


The government spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh, told reporters Sunday that a committee was formed to find "tangible information" about foreign intervention, specifically Iran's role in Iraq rather than "information based on speculation."
CBS News reports that when al-Dabbagh was asked about US reports alleging that recently made and Iranian-supplied rockets were seized in a raid against militias in Iraq, he replied simply, "There is no conclusive evidence."

This should be good news. But we all know that the US propaganda machine has never actually needed evidence to justify bellicose rhetoric or subsequent illegal military actions. The grim specter of "terrorism" and "nuclear weapons" tends to be enough to scare the unthinking and misinformed American public into believing this is a world of good guys and bad guys. As Vali Nasr, Middle East expert at Tufts University, said recently, "The threshold for demonization of Iran is fairly low. The public would readily believe the worst about Iran."

So what is Iran doing about all this?

In response to the recent allegations that murdering American troops is Iranian state policy, Tina Susman reports that,
Iran, meanwhile, dismissed the latest accusations as "ridiculously false" in a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. "It is not the first time that the international community is witness to the United States' baseless allegations," it said, referring to Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
They're not wrong and the world knows it. The Iranian people certainly know it, though concerns about a potential US attack have waned of late. Iran has attempted to clarify all outstanding questions regarding its nuclear energy program, has agreed to accept and observe the Additional Protocol, and has offered to cooperate fully with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in an agreement that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called a "milestone" and "a positive step." Naturally, this kind of stuff doesn't sell newspapers or TV ads in the United States and so it's not mentioned by the media here...nor do Iranian allegations that the US is funding the actions of rebels on the Iraq/Iran border. We also don't hear about the secret talks held between the US and Iran over Iran's nuclear program or that Iran is willing to discuss its nuclear energy program with any country who wishes to engage them. As reported in RIA Novosti on 23 April 2008, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "The Iranian nation has always believed in fair negotiations to resolve the [nuclear] issue, based on respect for the rights of other nations. It makes no difference with whom we conduct such negotiations," and continuing, "Peaceful nuclear energy belongs to all nations." These sentiments were echoed Sunday by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stated, "We will continue with our path with power and we will not allow the arrogant ones to step on the right of this nation." I guess it's only the bad guys who talk about peace and rights these days.

Iran is subject to a staggering double standard when it comes to the expected intrusive inspections of their nuclear program. Still, Iran has not refused to accept such inspections (as sensational headlines would have you believe), it only asks that all nuclear nations are treated equally. Reuters reports,
Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh asked why developing nations should accept intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency inspections as a condition for obtaining nuclear know-how when nuclear arms powers could unilaterally curb IAEA checks of their facilities.

Soltanieh accused industrialized powers of enshrining "nuclear apartheid" by imposing harsher export controls for developing states within the NPT while secretly helping non-NPT state Israel build a nuclear arsenal.

"This double standard cannot be sustained and no additional measure in strengthening (IAEA) safeguards can be accepted by non-nuclear weapons parties unless these serious constraints and discrimination are removed," he said.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are planning to offer Iran an incentive package (supposedly containing economic benefits and opportunities) in exchange for an immediate halt to Iran's nuclear activities, as they have offered in the past. Iran has and will reject these overtures as they are empty gestures by six of the world's strongest powers. And by empty gestures, I mean bullshit bribery dressed up as positive diplomacy. Positing a potential end result of open negotiations as a precondition for those very talks is quite devious and, unfortunately, the American public still doesn't see through the thinly veiled nonsense of it all. Iranians, however, are not fooled by the circular argument of Western powers.

"Regarding the incentives package ... we believe the path adopted in the past should not be continued. They should act based on realities and international regulations. Talks should be held based on respecting nations' rights," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said recently. But, of course, this isn't reported widely (if at all) by our press here.

In addition to the other stuff we don't hear about from the American mainstream media, Iran has "launched an ambitious initiative aimed at preventing war, based on a comprehensive package of economic, political and security measures on a vast regional plane. The package includes proposals to settle remaining questions related to Iran's nuclear energy program, but is not limited to that," according to an extensive and fascinating report by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach of Global Research.

What else doesn't make it to the American airwaves or press, you ask? How about the release last Friday of Russian equipment for Iran's first nuclear power plant that was being held at the border of Azerbaijan for over a month. The Associated Press reports that the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee "halted the cargo of heat-isolating equipment headed for the Bushehr plant on March 29, demanding more information from Russia about the nature of the material. Azerbaijani officials said they feared the equipment could violate United Nations sanctions. The Russian state-run company building Bushehr, OAO Atomstroiexport, accused Azerbaijan of deliberately obstructing the cargo." The report continues to explain that the US and other Western powers have "criticized Russia in the past for building Bushehr" but reveals that the Bush Administration has recently "softened its position after Iran agreed to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia to ensure it does not extract plutonium from it that could be used to make atomic bombs."
The United States and its Western allies also agreed to drop any reference to Bushehr in the sanctions resolutions passed by the U.N. Security Council as a result of Russian pressure.

Russia says the plant's contract is in line with all international agreements aimed at preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.
Why don't we hear this stuff? Maybe because, if we did, it would severely hurt the war cause, what with all the "legal" arguments and reasonable "diplomacy" that actually goes on out of sight of the pandering media.

What we do hear about, however, is that Iran has halted any new talks with the US regarding the future of Iraq. What we hear less about, though, is why. Reuters' Hossein Jaseb, reveals that Iran has "dismissed any prospect of new talks with the United States on Iraq, accusing U.S.-led forces on Monday of a "massacre" of the Iraqi people." The report quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini, "Right now, what we observe in Iraq is a massacre of the Iraqi nation by the occupying forces...Concerning this situation, talks with America will have no results and will be meaningless."

Let us all take a minute to remember, as Hosseini reminds us, that Iraq (just like Afghanistan) is occupied by US troops. Let us also take a minute to remember, as Paul Craig Roberts reminds us, that "unlike the US and Israel, Iran is neither occupying any other country’s territory nor threatening to invade another country. Nevertheless, propaganda against Iran is spouting from US and Israeli mouths at an increasing rate. Lie after lie rolls off the tongues of leaders of the 'two great democracies.'" And yet, Iran is accused of "interfering" in the affairs of a sovereign state? Curious. Ridiculous.

And yet, the absurd charade continues...and not only by American politicians, pundits, and military officials. Anti-Iranian rhetoric is a popular past-time for the Israeli administration (and press) as well. Early this week and reported by Ha'aretz, Israeli President Shimon Peres "compared the Iranian nuclear threat to Hitler's Germany."
"I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran," he said regarding Tehran's nuclear program.

Addressing a press conference of foreign journalists, Peres said that "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly."

Israel and Western nations accuse Iran of covertly seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

"[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and the combination of nuclear weapons in the hands of a deranged extremist religious leader is a nightmare for the world," Peres went on to say.

"In a way it's more complicated than in the time of the Nazis," he said. "Hitler didn't have a nuclear bomb."

The president also said that Iran is a global terror center which "trains and finances generations of killers and terrorists."
These false sentiments were shared by Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Eliezer Shkedy on CBS' 60 Minutes last week. During the shameless and nauseatingly aggrandizing report, Shkedy repeated the claims that Iran is an existential threat to Israel and that Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. Once again, Paul Craig Roberts sets the record straight, stating, "There are better candidates for the role than Ahmadinejad. Gen. Shkedi [sic] himself sounds like Hitler blaming Poland for the outbreak of the second world war. Ahmadinejad has attacked no country, whereas Israel repeatedly invades its neighbors and continues 40-year occupations of Syrian and Palestinian territory."

So what happens next? Is all the rhetorical acrobatics just part of the same old political game? Or is a US (or Israeli) attack on Iran this summer not only a mere possibility, but rather a likely probability? Is former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter right when he confidently suggests that "the United States is planning right now, as we speak, a military strike against Iran." He elaborated, on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman,
"[Senior US military officials and politicians] speak of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command as being a rogue organization within the Iranian government that provides this support [to so-called Iraqi "special groups"]. The United States Senate, through the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, has pretty much given a target list blessing to the US military by passing a resolution that labels the Revolutionary Guard Command as a terrorist organization. And the Bush administration, of course, is engaged in a global war on terror backed by two congressional war powers resolutions.

We take a look at the military buildup, we take a look at the rhetoric, we take a look at the diplomatic posturing, and I would say that it’s a virtual guarantee that there will be a limited aerial strike against Iran in the not-so-distant future, that focuses on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command. And if this situation spins further out of control, you would see these aerial strikes expanding to include Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and some significant command and control targets."
Let's all hope, for humanity, legality, and morality's sake, that Ritter is wrong. But, chances are, he's not.


Twenty Reasons against Sanctions and
Military Intervention in Iran

(source: CASMII)

Click [here] to download this paper in PDF format.

[Last Updated January 2008]


Five years into the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq and its consequent catastrophe for Iraqi people, peace loving people throughout the world are appalled by the current Iran-US standoff and its resemblance to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The hawks, headed by Dick Cheney in Washington, are now shamelessly calling for a military attack on Iran. The same Israeli lobby which pushed for the invasion of Iraq is now pushing for a military attack on Iran. The same distortions which were attempted to dupe the western public opinion for the invasion of Iraq, are now used to pave the way for another illegal pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran. As in the case of Iraq, the UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran, extricated through massive US pressure, are meant to provide a veneer of legitimacy for such an attack.

Contrary to the myth created by the western media, it is the US and its European allies which are defying the international community, in that they have rejected negotiations without pre-conditions. They show their lack of good faith by demanding that Iran concede the main point of negotiations, namely, suspension of enrichment of uranium which is Iran's legitimate right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, before the negotiations actually start.

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions.

Here, we debunk the main unfounded accusations, lies and distortions by the US and Israel and their allies while highlighting the main reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention against Iran.


1. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran. The US and its allies pressure Iran to prove that it is not hiding a nuclear weapons programme. This demand is logically impossible to satisfy and serves to make diplomacy fail in order to force regime change. Numerous intrusive and snap visits by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, totalling more than 2,700 person-hours of inspection, have failed to produce a shred of evidence for a weapons programme in Iran. Traces of highly enriched uranium found at Natanz in 2004, were determined by the IAEA to have come with imported centrifuges.

In July 2007, IAEA and Iran agreed on a work plan with defined modalities and timetable to clarify all issues of concerns in relation to Iran's nuclear programme. On 27 th August 2007 IAEA announced that “The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.” The Agreement also cleared Iran's plutonium experiments, which the Cheney Camp had accused of being evidence of Iran's weaponisation programme.

Dr Mohammad El-Baradei, the IAEA Director General, said on 7 th September 2007, “For the last few years we have been told by the Security Council, by the board, we have to clarify the outstanding issues in Iran because these outstanding issues are the ones that have led to the lack of confidence, the crisis,” “We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponisation of their programme.”

Two years earlier, in June 2005, Bruno Pellaud, former IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, was asked by Swissinfo if Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb. He replied: "My impression is not. My view is based on the fact that Iran took a major gamble in December 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had had a military programme they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this Additional Protocol. They did not have to."

2. Iran's need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran's population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed over twenty nuclear reactors. With Iran's population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country.

3. The "crisis" over Iran's nuclear programme lacks the urgency claimed by Washington. Weapons grade uranium must be enriched at least to 85%. A 2005 CIA report determined that it could take Iran 10 years to achieve this level of enrichment. Many independent nuclear experts have stated that Iran would face formidable technical obstacles if it tried to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5% purity required for electricity generation. According to Dr Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group, because of contamination of Iranian uranium with heavy metals, Iran cannot possibly enrich beyond even 20% without support from Russia or China. IAEA director, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, too, reiterated in October 2007 that “I don't see Iran, today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I've seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, it's still three to eight years away from that.”

4. Iran has met its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran voluntarily accepted and enforced safeguards stricter than IAEA's Additional Protocol until February 2006, when Iran's nuclear file was reported, under the pressure from the US , to the Security Council. (The US, by contrast, has neither signed nor implemented the Additional Protocol, and Israel has refused to sign the NPT.)

Iran's earlier concealment of its nuclear programme took place in the context of the US-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam. Not only the U.S., Germany, and the UK were complicit in the sale of chemical weapons to Saddam which were used against Iranian soldiers and civilians but Israel's destruction of Iraq 's Osirak reactor in 1981 was treated with total impunity. Iranian leaders then concluded from these gross injustices that international laws are only “ink on paper.”

But the most direct reasons for Iran's concealment were the American trade embargo on Iran and Washington's organized and persistent campaign to stop civilian nuclear technology from reaching Iran from any source. For example, in 1995 Germany offered to let Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) finish Iran's Bushehr reactor, but withdrew its proposal under US pressure. The following year, China cancelled its contract to build a nuclear enrichment facility in Isfahan for the same reason. Thus Washington systematically violated, with impunity, Article IV of the NPT, which allows “signatories the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Nevertheless, Iran's decision not to declare all of its nuclear installations did not violate its NPT obligations. According to David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, who first provided satellite imagery and analysis in December 2002, under the safeguards agreement in force at the time, "Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it."

5. Iran has given unprecedented concessions on its nuclear programme. Unlike North Korea, Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT. Besides accepting snap inspections under Additional Protocol until February 2006, Iran has invited Western companies to develop Iran's civilian nuclear programme. Such joint ventures would create the best assurance that the enriched uranium would not be diverted to a weapons programme. Such concessions are very rare in the world, but the U.S. and its allies have refused Iran's offer.

6. Enrichment of uranium for a civilian nuclear programme is Iran's inalienable right. Every member of the NPT has the right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear programme and is entitled to full technical assistance.

But with the US as the back seat driver and in violation of their assistance obligations, France , Germany , and the UK insisted throughout the three years of negotiations that Tehran forfeit its right, in return for incentives of little value. Some European diplomats admitted to Asia Times Online on 7th September 2005, that the package offered by the EU-3 was “an empty box of chocolates.” But “there is nothing else we can offer,” the diplomats went on to say, “The Americans simply wouldn't let us.”

7. The Western alliance has not tried true diplomacy and relies instead on threats. Iran refuses to suspend its enrichment of uranium before bilateral negotiations begin, as demanded by the White House, because it suspects Washington will stall with endless doubts regarding verification of suspension.


8. The UN resolutions against Iran , in contrast to the treatment of the US allies, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel, smack of double standards. For example, in the year 2000, South Korea enriched 200 milligrams of uranium to near-weapons grade (up to 77%), but was not referred to the UN Security Council.

India has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections and has developed an atomic arsenal, but receives nuclear assistance from the US in violation of the NPT. More bizarrely, India has a seat on the governing board of IAEA and, under US pressure, voted to refer Iran as a violator to the UN Security Council. Another non-signatory, Pakistan, clandestinely developed nuclear weapons but is supported by the US as a “war on terror” ally.

Israel is a close ally of Washington, even though it has hundreds of clandestine nuclear weapons, has dismissed numerous UN resolutions and has refused to sign the NPT or open any of its nuclear plants to inspections.

The US itself is the most serious violator of the NPT. The only country to have ever used nuclear bombs in war, the US has refused to reduce its nuclear arsenal, in violation of Article VI of NPT. The US is also in breach of the Treaty because it is developing new generations of nuclear warheads for use against non-nuclear adversaries. Moreover, Washington has deployed hundreds of such tactical nuclear weapons all around the world in violation of Articles I and II of the NPT.

9. Iran has not threatened Israel or attacked another country. The track records of the US, Israel, the UK and France are very different. These so called “democracies” have a bloody history of invading other countries. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has declared repeatedly that Iran will not attack or threaten any country. He has also issued a fatwa against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear weapons as sacrilegious. Iran has been a consistent supporter of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East.

The comments of Iran's President Ahmadinejad against Israel have been repeated by some of Iran's leaders since 1979 and constitute no practical threat. The statement attributed to him that “Israel should be wiped off the map” is a distortion of the truth and has been determined by a number of Farsi linguists, amongst them, Professor Juan Cole, to be a mistranslation. What he actually said was that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Ahmadinejad has made clear that he envisions regime change in Israel through internal decay, similar to the demise of the Soviet Union. Iranian leaders have said consistently for two decades that they will accept a two-state solution in Palestine if a majority of Palestinians favour that option.

This is in sharp contrast to the explicit threats by Israeli and the US leaders against Iran, including aid to separatist movements to disintegrate and wipe Iran off the map, as reported by Seymour Hersh and Reese Erlich. There is considerable evidence of clandestine operations by the US, British and Israeli agents who are arming, training and funding terrorist entities such as Jundollah in Baluchistan, Arab separatists in Khuzestan, and PJAK in Kurdistan. These concrete attempts at disintegration of Iran, as well as the 100 million dollars congressional funding for ‘democracy' promotion in Iran, constitute aggression and are interference in Iran's domestic affairs and Iranian people's rights of sovereignty. They violate the bilateral Algiers Accord of 1981, in which Washington renounced any such actions in the future.

Furthermore, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, former UN ambassador, John Bolton, Senator Lieberman, as well as presidential candidates Guilliani, Romney and McCain are openly advocating and pushing for pre-emptive military attack on Iran. The French President, Sarkouzy, and his Foreign Minister, Kouchner, the new recruits to the Neo Cons camp, have added their voice to this chorus for war. British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, too has not ruled out the pre-emptive military option against Iran.

Iran is no match for Israel, whose security and military needs are all but guaranteed by the US. Iran is surrounded on all sides by the US Navy and American bases.

Iran has not invaded or threatened any country for two and a half centuries. The only war the Islamic Republic fought was the one imposed by Saddam's army, which invaded Iran with the backing of the US and its allies. When Iraq used chemical weapons, supplied by the West, against Iranian troops, Iran did not retaliate in kind. When Afghanistan's Taliban regime murdered eight Iranian diplomats in 1996 and remained unapologetic, Iran did not respond militarily.

10. The US “democratization” programme for Iran is a hoax. Although violations of human rights and democratic freedoms do occur too often in Iran, the country has the most pluralistic system in a region dominated by undemocratic client states of the US. It is sheer hypocrisy for the US, which turns a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses by its allies, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, and Egypt, to misrepresent its agenda in Iran as a “democratization” programme. Washington's pretensions ring especially hollow when one remembers that in 1953 Iran's nascent democracy under Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq was overthrown by the CIA, which restored a hated military dictatorship for the benefit of American oil conglomerates.


11. There are no legal bases for Iran's referral to the UN Security Council. Since there is no evidence that Iran is even contemplating to weaponize its nuclear programme, no grounds exist for this sidelining of the IAEA.

Michael Spies of the New York-based Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy has clarified the issue: "Under the Statute (Art. 12(C)) and the Safeguards Agreement, the Board may only refer Iran to the Security Council if it finds that, based on the report from the Director General, it cannot be assured that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for non-peaceful purpose. In the past, findings of `non-assurance' have only come in the face of a history of active and ongoing non-cooperation with IAEA safeguards. The pursuit of nuclear activities in itself, which is specifically recognized as a sovereign right, and which remain safeguarded, could not legally or logically equate to uncertainty regarding diversion."

The IAEA director, Dr ElBaradei, has in fact consistently confirmed that there has been no diversion of safeguarded nuclear material in Iran. He has asserted unambiguously in his interview with New York Times on 7 September 2007 that in Iran “we have not come to see any undeclared activities...We have not seen any weaponisation of their programme, nor have we received any information to that effect.” He has also repeatedly urged skeptics in Western capitals to help the IAEA by sharing any possible proof in their possession of suspicious nuclear activity in Iran.

The IAEA-Iran work plan of August 2007 has reconfirmed this. It has stated that all declared nuclear activirties in Iran have been verified to be for peaceful purposes. It has also cleared Iran of its plutonium experiments which had been regarded as a smoking gun by the US.

Dr ElBaradei has nevertheless said, under pressure from Washington, that he cannot rule out the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in the country. However, according to the IAEA's Safeguards Implementation Report for 2005 (issued on 15 June 2006), 45 other countries, including 14 European countries, in particular Germany, are in this same category as Iran.

Moreover, according to the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, certifying non-diversion of nuclear material to military purposes for any given country takes an average of six years of inspections and verification by the IAEA. In the case of Iran, these investigations have been going on for only about four years now.

Iran's file, therefore, must be returned to the jurisdiction of the IAEA and the rules of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US and its allies violated the rules by exerting massive pressure on the IAEA to report Iran without any legitimacy to the UN Security Council. For example, David Mulford, the US Ambassador to India, warned the Government of India in January 2006 that there would be no US-India nuclear deal if India did not vote against Iran at the IAEA. On February 15th 2007, Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, admitted publicly that the US coerced India to vote against Iran. Clearly, reporting Iran to the UN Security Council and the subsequent adoption of the Resolutions 1696 and 1737 have been carried out with US coercion and have thus no legitimacy at all.

The IAEA report on the outcome of the “work plan” between Iran and the IAEA released on 15/11/07 has confirmed that "Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions and provide (needed) clarifications and amplifications." The report has stated that Iran had made “substantial progress” towards clarifying outstanding questions about its nuclear programs, that "The agency has been able to conclude that answers provided on the declared past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs are consistent with its findings” and that “We will however continue to seek corroboration and to verify the completeness of Iran's declarations.” It has also confirmed repeatedly in various parts of the document that, in relation to all issues of ambiguity such as past black market procurement and concealment, Iran's statements are consistent with the information independently available to the agency.

The response from the US/Israel and their allies has been immediately negative, accusing Iran of “selective cooperation” with the IAEA. Shaul Mofaz, Israel's deputy prime minister, called for the sacking of Dr ElBaradei over the IAEA's recent report on Iran. The US is pressing with the demand for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment, which is Iran's inalienable right as a signatory to the NPT. Probably under direct pressure from the US and its allies, trying to discredit the successful collaboration of Iran with the IAEA, the report has at the same time pointed to the agency's “diminishing knowledge” about Iran's current nuclear programme. Such a situation, as Dr ElBaradei later asserted in his speech to the Governors' Board of the IAEA in November 2007, is true of (over forty) countries that do not enforce the additional protocol. In the case of Iran, which is singled out among these countries by the west for political reasons, the US and its European allies bear the direct responsibility for this situation. As previously pointed out, they coerced the Governors Board of the IAEA to report Iran's file to the UN in 2005 and early 2006, which prompted Iran to suspend its voluntary enforcement of the Additional Protocol and to resume enrichment of uranium.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, issued on December 3, refutes the US and Israeli accusations that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme. The statement vindicates Iran's claim that the decision by the Governors Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report its nuclear file to the UN Security Council in February 2006 and the subsequent Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran lack legitimacy.

The NIE report had been held for nearly one year in an effort by Vice President Cheney's office to force the intelligence community to remove some of the dissenting judgments on Iran's nuclear program.

Representing the views of 16 US intelligence agencies, the NIE on Iran sharply reverses its 2005 version that claimed Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The report assesses that Iran's alleged military nuclear work ended in 2003, but fails to provide any evidence that such activity ever existed. If proof for this assessment had been found, it was the obligation of the US to provide it to the IAEA for on-the-ground verification.

A senior IAEA official was quoted by the IHT on December 4: "despite repeated smear campaigns, the IAEA has stood its ground and concluded time and again that 'there was no evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons program in Iran.'"

While the IAA and Iran are collaborating to resolve the final components of the outstanding issues on the Iranain nuclear programme by March 2008, the US and its European allies have pushed for a third round of the UN sanctions against Iran when according to its own intelligence Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme.


12. Dr ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, has said that more sanctions are counterproductive. Economic sanctions on Iran will harm the people of Iran, as they were devastating to Iraqis, resulting in the death of at least 500,000 children. Sanctions would not however bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. Instead, any kind of sanctions, including the so-called "targeted" or "smart" sanctions, are viewed by the Iranian people as the West's punishment for Iran's scientific progress (uranium enrichment for reactor fuel). As sanctions tighten, nationalist fervour will strengthen the resolve of Iranians to defend the country's civilian nuclear programme.

13. Sanctions are not better than war; they can be exploited as a diplomatic veneer and a provocative prelude to military attack, as they were in Iraq. Thus, countries which support sanctions against Iran are only falling into the US trap in aiding the war drive on Iran.


14. A US attack on Iran is imminent. The end of George Bush's presidency in 2009 could be a serious set back for the NeoCons' hegemonic dreams to control the energy resources in the region. He is unlikely to leave office bearing the legacy of failures in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly leaving Iran a stronger player in the region. Thus the likelihood of military attack on Iran before Bush leaves office is a reality. Washington insiders have told security analysts that preparations for military attack have been made and are ready for execution.

Since January, in addition to the nuclear issue, the US has also focused its propaganda to falsely implicate Iran in the violence and failures of US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iran-US bilateral dialogue this summer was derailed amidst accusations that Iran aided the killing of American soldiers by providing sophisticated weapons and training to Afghan and Iraqi fighters. As in the nuclear case, Washington has provided no proof.

British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, admitted in an interview with the Financial Times on 8th July 07 that there was “No Evidence” of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq. Likewise, the British Defence Minister, Des Browne, in August 07 maintained categorically that “No Evidence” existed of Iranian government's complicity or instigation in supplying weapons to Iraqi militias. The Washington Post, too, reported from Iraq that hundreds of British troops combing southern Iraq for sign of Iranian weapons have come up empty-handed. Furthermore, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Al-Maleki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, have stated Iran's positive role in providing whatever limited stability there is in both these countries. Nevertheless, George Bush's speech on 28th August, authorizing the American military to “confront Tehran's murderous activities,” and the deployment of British troops to the Iranian border to guard against Iran's “proxy war” in Iraq, signaled a systematic building towards a casus belli for another illegal pre-emptive war. The Kyle-Lieberman Amendment to the Defence Authorisation Bill, too, accused Iran of killing American servicemen in Iraq and nearly authorized the military to take all necessary action to combat Iran .

A third focus in the US war drive has now been launched by branding Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. This unprecedented move in US foreign policy and international relations is the proclaimed basis for imposing the toughest sanctions ever on Iranian banks, companies and individuals.

These new measures represent a massive escalation in the US war drive, they are a prelude to a military attack on Iran and provide the legal pretext for the US military to wage war on Iran without the prior approval of the US Congress.


15. Foreign state interference in Iran violates the UN charter. According to Seymour Hersch, the US is running covert operations in Iran to foment unrest and ethnic conflict for the purpose of regime change. Unmanned US drones have also entered into Iranian air space to spy over Iranian military installations and to map Iranian radar systems. These actions violate the UN Charter's guarantee of the right of self-determination for all nations.

The Bush Administration has also confirmed, in the 2006 US National Security Strategy, its long term policy for pre-emptive military action against Washington 's rivals. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, supported this policy in his 21st March 2006 foreign policy speech, and his successor Gordon Brown has not rejected the pre-emptive use of military force against Iran. However, unprovoked strikes are illegal under international law. To remove this obstacle, John Reid, the then British Secretary of Defence, in his speech on 3rd April 2006 to the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, proposed a change in international law on pre-emptive military action.

16. Reports of nuclear attack scenarios against Iran can serve to raise the public's tolerance for an act of aggression with conventional military means. People of conscience and sanity must not only condemn even contemplation of a nuclear attack, but also denounce any conventional attack.


17. Bombing cannot end Iran's nuclear programme. Since Iran already has the expertise to enrich uranium up to the 3.5% grade for a fuel cycle, no degree of bombing will halt Iran's civilian nuclear programme. On the contrary, the resulting mass casualties and destruction would strengthen the voices that argue Iran, like North Korea, should build a nuclear deterrent.

18. An attack on Iran will unite Iranians against the US and its allies. A great majority of the public in Iran support the country's right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. This has been confirmed by all opinion polls conducted in the country, including polls taken by Western institutions. Therefore, a bombing campaign will not lead to an uprising by the Iranian people for regime change as envisaged by the US. Rather, it would ignite nationalist feelings in the country and unite the population, including most of the government's critics, against the West.

19. A nuclear attack on Iran would fuel a new nuclear arms race and ruin the NPT. Any military intervention against Iran will lead to a regional catastrophe and expanded terrorism. Senator McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, who has himself advocated the use of force on Iran, has predicted that an attack against Iran will lead to Armageddon. American or Israeli aggression on Iran, coming on the heels of the Iraq disaster, would inflame the grievance and outrage of Muslims worldwide and help jihadi extremists with their recruitment campaign. The region wide conflagration resulting from an Israel/US attack on Iran would dwarf the Iraq catastrophe.

20. The cause of democracy in Iran will suffer gravely if the country is attacked. President Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric severely undermined the reformist movement in Iran at a time when the country's president promoted Dialogue Among Civilizations. Bush's hostile posture strengthened the hands of Iranian hardliners and contributed to the reformist movement's electoral defeat in 2005. That setback would be dwarfed by the consequences of a military assault on the country.

Copyright 2008, CASMII