Friday, September 19, 2014

The Consistency of Official Iranian Commentary, Part IV:
Javad Zarif and the Detrimental Perception of Nuclear Intentions

In an extensive interview with Jacob Heilbrunn, senior editor at The National Interest, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated Iran's consistent commitment never to build or acquire nuclear weapons. In presenting Iran's categorical rejection of such arms, Zarif explained that Iran had "every reason not to have a nuclear bomb."

He continued:
If you look at Iran’s security environment, in the immediate neighborhood—by the immediate neighborhood I mean the Persian Gulf—we are already, because of the size, geography, resources, human resources, military ability...we are the strongest. By far. Most stable country in the region. So we need to go out of our way to convince our neighbors that we don’t have anything against them. We are engaged in confidence-building measures with them. So, not only do we not need a bomb for our immediate neighborhood, a bomb, or even a perception that we have a bomb, will further deteriorate our position, because immediately, our neighbors will seek security assurances from outside. So what we consider to be a conventional superiority that Iran certainly has in the region, if we try for strategic superiority, we will even lose our conventional superiority.
Not only is Iran not building a nuclear arsenal, Zarif says, but even the mere perception that it might be interested or engaged in such a move would be detrimental to its own security. Zarif added that, even with a small cache of nukes or a latent weapons capability, Iran wouldn't be safer:
In the larger security environment of Iran—that is, against the threat by Israel or the United States—Iran cannot imagine to engage in any type of deterrence, either directly or even through proxy, with these external threats, or extra-regional threats, through a nuclear device, because we cannot compete in that area.
Again, a nuclear bomb will deteriorate our security. And at the end of the day, let me just make one point, that nuclear weapons have not created security for anybody. Just look at what happened to Israel.
Before this becomes breaking news - which, in truth, it probably won't, since rational and reasoned statements by Iranian officials rarely ever make headlines - it should be noted that Zarif himself has been saying the exact same thing for a long time.

This past Spring, Zarif made this point in an article for Foreign Affairs:
Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons and is convinced that such weapons would not enhance its security. Iran does not have the means to engage in nuclear deterrence -- directly or through proxies -- against its adversaries. Furthermore, the Iranian government believes that even a perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is detrimental to the country’s security and to its regional role, since attempts by Iran to gain strategic superiority in the Persian Gulf would inevitably provoke responses that would diminish Iran's conventional military advantage.
Around the same time, he further told Robin Wright that Iran had no intention to build nuclear weapons or even produce weapons-grade enriched uranium. "We do not consider that to be in our interests, or within our security doctrine," he said during an interview for The New Yorker.

In fact, Zarif told Wright the very same thing - verbatim - back on December 7, 2013, in an interview published in TIME:
We have no intention of producing weapons or fissile material programs. We do not consider that to be in our interests or within our security doctrine.
Just days earlier, Zarif told Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, "Iran does not seek nuclear weapons," adding, "We do not believe that nuclear weapons will increase our security. In fact, we believe even the perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is destructive of our security, detrimental to our security." He continued:
We are against nuclear weapons based on religious doctrine, based on strategic consideration, based on ethical considerations and based on political considerations and legal considerations. So for us, nuclear weapons have no place whatsoever in our defense doctrines.
While for decades Iranian officials have stressed unequivocally that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's security doctrine, Zarif's own statements have often included remarks about perception.

In March 2014, the U.S. government funded Voice of America reported that, during a press conference in Tokyo, Zarif "said even the perception that Iran was interested in a nuclear weapons program was detrimental to his nation’s security."

Speaking at the Pugwash disarmament conference in Istanbul on November 1, 2013, Zarif said that Iran would "do everything in our negotiations with the P5+1 to ensure that even the perception that Iran has anything but peaceful intentions for its nuclear program will be removed, because we believe that even the perception that Iran pursues a nuclear weapons program is not only wrong, but dangerous."

Shortly thereafter, he told France 24, "We believe that even the perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is detrimental to our security," and explained to IPS reporter Jasmin Ramsey, "It is in our interest that even the perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons would be removed," adding that Iran "will do anything possible, everything reasonable, to remove those perceptions."

Zarif has been speaking these facts plainly for years before his current stint as foreign minister.

In a monograph published in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of Columbia University's Journal of International Affairs, Zarif - then finishing up his five-year term as the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations - noted:
From a strategic point of view, Iranian leaders realize that nuclear weapons do not provide domestic stability or external security. Nuclear might did not prevent the break up of the Soviet empire, nor has it been a factor in recent conflicts in the Middle East. Iran's policy makers believe that development or possession of nuclear weapons undermine Iranian security. Even the perception that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons negatively impacts Iran's power by decreasing its regional influence and increasing its global vulnerabilities.
Iran does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests in the immediate neighborhood. In fact, to augment Iranian influence in the region, it has been necessary for Iran to win the confidence of its neighbors; an effort that will inevitably suffer from such perceptions.
Nearly a full decade ago, in December 2004, Zarif was interviewed by Charlie Rose. He decried the deliberate and illegal denial of nuclear technology to Iran engineered and enforced by the United States, and explained that "the perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is in and of itself a threat to us. We do not want the rest of the world to perceive Iran as pursuing a nuclear weapon capability."

When Rose voiced the conventional establishment wisdom that claims "Iran wants nuclear weapons because it lives in a very dangerous neighborhood" surrounded by Pakistani, Indian and Israeli nukes, and "would like to have them too," Zarif responded this way:
Well, let me explain to you, nuclear weapons -- I mean, possession of nuclear weapons -- requires calculations. You need to -- every country tries to augment its power, and that is a given. But in order to augment your power, you need to reduce your vulnerabilities and increase your influence. From our strategic perspective, acquiring nuclear weapons, seeking nuclear weapons or being perceived to seek nuclear weapons will reduce our influence in our region, because we are already the largest country in the region, we have had to go out of our way in order to create confidence in our neighbors that we do not have any ambitions against them. Trying to acquire nuclear weapons will enhance or exacerbate those concerns in the neighborhood, and therefore it will reduce our influence and will sort of destroy whatever we have done in the past several years in order to build confidence. 
In terms of vulnerabilities, even the perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons will create immense international pressure. At the same time, if you are talking about nuclear deterrence, Iran is not in a position to acquire a nuclear deterrent, because in strategic nuclear calculations Iran does not have the -- cannot compete in that area with our perceived enemies. Therefore, we believe that it does not serve our strategic interests to seek nuclear weapons or to be perceived as seeking nuclear weapons. 
Now, nuclear weapons is one thing. Nuclear technology is another thing. We believe it is our right to acquire nuclear technology. This is a branch of technology that has widespread applications across the board, in areas ranging from agriculture to medicine. And believe me, we are being deprived of nuclear applications in areas from agriculture to medicine.
None of the warmongers in Congress, Israel, think tanks or lobbying groups have ever had any adequate reply to this lucid assessment, resorting only to weak accusations of inherent Iranian duplicity to obfuscate the truth.

Iranian condemnations of nuclear weapons have been consistent for decades. Unfortunately, the stubbornness and imperialism of Iran's antagonists have been similarly consistent.


To read about other examples of consistent Iranian commentary that has shocked our lazy press, click below:

Part I: Are Rouhani's Statements Really a Huge Break from the Past?
Part II: Are Rouhani's Statements Really a Huge Break from the Past?
Part III: On Khamenei's Referendum Rhetoric, Reuters is Wrong


Monday, September 8, 2014

Hillary Clinton's Friends and the Kissinger of Death

Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton (AP Photo)

In Hillary Clinton's predictable, self-serving, overlong, boilerplate review of Henry Kissinger's new book, published last week in the Washington Post, she - well, the communications grunt who actually wrote the review - praises a man who should be serving life in prison for war crimes.

While there is no point addressing the majority of her article, nauseating and noxious as it is, a few things stick out. The first is that Hillary Clinton is friends with a whole lot of absolutely despicable people.

"Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as Secretary of State. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels," Clinton writes in the review, echoing a passage from her own recent pre-presidential campaign manifesto, "Hard Choices."

That book contains myriad references to Clinton's "valued" and "invaluable friends," most of whom are rich, powerful or famous public figures - often all three.

Included among these are war criminals Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. Clinton writes that she and Netanyahu "worked together as partners and friends." Peres, she notes in the book, is an "old friend."

In her role as Secretary of State, Clinton routinely referred to former Israeli Prime Minister and then-current Defense Minister Ehud Barak as her "friend," "old friend," and "longtime friend and colleague." In April 2010, Clinton remarked, "I have known the defense minister for more years than I care to remember. We were both very young, Ehud."

Barak endearingly replied, "Immediately after your bat mitzvah." A hearty chuckle was had by all.

Hillary, Hosni and Shimon

While Netanyahu has, at times, called Clinton "a great friend and a great champion of peace," Clinton and Shimon Peres have even more of a history of mutual admiration. In early March 2009, Clinton met with Peres in Jerusalem, describing him as "my dear and old friend" and thanking him "for the extraordinary example that your life sets, as someone who has devoted yourself to the state of Israel, to its security, and to the cause of peace."

Shimon Peres (born Szymon Perski in 1923 in what is now Belarus) immigrated to Palestine in 1934. He procured weaponry for the Haganah during Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48 and later became the architect of Israel's illicit nuclear weapons program, forging close ties with the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

In November 1974, after visiting the leadership in Pretoria, then-Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres stressed to the Knesset the "vitally important" economic, political and military ties between South Africa and Israel, emphasizing that "this cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it."

Clinton and Peres
Years later, Peres was acting prime minister during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in 1996, including the Qana massacre, in which Israeli warplanes shelled a UN compound sheltering hundreds of displaced civilians, killing 106.

Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton fawned, "I always come away from my times with you both inspired and encouraged to think more deeply and more broadly. And I also am silently challenged by your ceaseless optimism about the future." In earlier remarks, Clinton said to Peres, "You are an inspiration to me personally, as a person who has dedicated your entire adult life to the State of Israel." She extolled her presence in Israel as "truly a visit among friends."

The feelings were mutual. Peres expressed sincere gratitude to "our very dear Hillary" for her "understanding and sympathy and friendship."

When Clinton returned to Israel 18 months later, Peres hailed "her wisdom, her friendship, her carefulness and caring," while she, in turn, gushed that it was "a personal pleasure, privilege, and honor to be here with you."

When the two shared a stage at the Israeli-obsessed Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in June 2012, Hillary called Peres her "longtime friend" whom she "so greatly" admires, while Peres expressed his "personal admiration, which is really tremendous" for Clinton.

Back in Jerusalem the following month, Clinton made sure to "be the first friend to wish [Peres] a very happy birthday," and expressed "such great gratitude how much I appreciate you, our friendship, the work we have done together and the work that we will do together in the future."

A day before Clinton's first official visit to Israel as Secretary of State in 2009, she was in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. In an interview with Al Arabiya, Clinton effectively dismissed the State Department's annual report on Egyptian human rights abuses as constructive criticism amongst chums, and declared, "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."

In this context, her respect, admiration, and friendship with Kissinger makes a lot more sense.

Kissinger's Democratic Values and Love of Legitimacy

In her sad stump speech/review of Kissinger's book, Clinton assures readers that, while they have their differences, she, President Barack Obama, and Kissinger all share the "belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order."

Hillary Clinton's review sheds some light on these supposed "shared values" and the collective view of American imperialism by the politically powerful:
During the Cold War, America's bipartisan commitment to protecting and expanding a community of nations devoted to freedom, market economies and cooperation eventually proved successful for us and the world. Kissinger’s summary of that vision sounds pertinent today: "an inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of governance."

This system, advanced by U.S. military and diplomatic power and our alliances with like-minded nations, helped us defeat fascism and communism and brought enormous benefits to Americans and billions of others. Nonetheless, many people around the world today — especially millions of young people — don't know these success stories, so it becomes our responsibility to show as well as tell what American leadership looks like.
Later, Clinton pointedly notes - in a glowing review of a book by Henry Kissinger, mind you - that "our devotion to human rights and democratic values" are an integral part of what "make[s] us who we are as a nation." Adhering to such values, Kissinger apparently suggests in his newly-published doorstop, is what leads to success.

Neither Clinton nor Kissinger actually believe this, of course. After all, when asked whether "national security is more important than human rights" during a 2007 debate, it was Clinton who eagerly responded, "I agree with that completely. The first obligation of the president of the United States is to protect and defend the United States of America." Clinton was wrong, of course. The president is primarily duty-bound, per the oath of office, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," y'know, that thing with all those rights in it.

Indeed, one would be hard pressed to figure out just how respecting national sovereignty, an abiding commitment to democratic governance, and standing up for human rights fits into the policy prescriptions of either the Nixon/Kissinger or Obama/Clinton administrations.

After all, Kissinger and his team conceived of and promoted the Nixon administration's so-called "Tar Baby Option," the U.S. policy of increasing communication and cooperation with white minority governments in southern Africa, namely Apartheid South Africa and Portuguese colonies, for fear that supporting oppressed, indigenous populations could lead to Marxist socialist revolutions. This policy, the outcome of a Kissinger instigated review, resulted in - among other things - "a redefinition of embargoes on military equipment for Portugal and South Africa," loan guarantees to Portugal of up to $400 million, new agreements "with the Portuguese government on American bases in the Azores" and "covering the sale of South African gold" to the IMF "on terms highly favorable to Pretoria," as well as "a series of abstentions and negative votes at the United Nations on measures condemning apartheid and the white regimes of southern Africa."

And that's some of the nicest stuff Kissinger is responsible for.

As David Corn wrote in Mother Jones, rather than a champion of justice and self-determination, Kissinger is best remembered for engaging "in underhanded and covert diplomacy that led to massacres around the globe, as he pursued his version of foreign policy realism. This is no secret." Corn continues:
  • Chile: Nixon and Kissinger plotted to thwart the democratic election of a socialist president. The eventual outcome: a military coup and a military dictatorship that killed thousands of Chileans.
  • Argentina: Kissinger gave a "green light" to the military junta's dirty war against political opponents that led to the deaths of an estimated 30,000.
  • East Timor: Another "green light" from Kissinger, this one for the Indonesian military dictatorship's bloody invasion of East Timor that yielded up to 200,000 deaths.
  • Cambodia: The secret bombing there during the Nixon phase of the Vietnam War killed between 150,000 and 500,000 civilians.
  • Bangladesh: Kissinger and Nixon turned a blind eye to—arguably, they tacitly approved—Pakistan's genocidal slaughter of 300,000 Bengalis, most of them Hindus.
And there's more. Kissinger's mendacity has been chronicled for years. See Gary Bass' recent and damning book on the Bangladesh tragedy, The Blood Telegram.There's Seymour Hersh's classic, The Price of Power. In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens presented the case against Kissinger in his full polemical style. As secretary of state, Kissinger made common cause with—and encouraged—tyrants who repressed and massacred many. He did not serve the American values of democracy, free expression, and human rights. He shredded them.
Kissinger and Pinochet
According to the National Security Archive at George Washington University, documents declassified a year ago, upon the 40th anniversary of Salvador Allende's overthrow in Chile (the other September 11th), "spotlight Kissinger's role as the principal policy architect of U.S. efforts to oust the Chilean leader, and assist in the consolidation of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile."

Peter Kornbluh, director of the archive's Chile Documentation Project, stated, "These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger's singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile."

Yet in her review, Clinton writes:
For an international order to take hold and last, Kissinger argues, it must relate "power to legitimacy." To that end, Kissinger, the famous realist, sounds surprisingly idealistic. Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.
What Clinton doesn't mention is that Kissinger despised legitimate popular governments, as they too often undermined American domination and exploitation.

Despite prior covert U.S. operations to derail Allende's inauguration in November 1970, Kissinger sent a memorandum to President Nixon warning of "the insidious model effect" of his democratic election. In fact, he was convinced that the "consolidation of Allende in power in Chile... would pose some very serious threats to our interests and position in the hemisphere" and that "a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on -- and even precedent value for -- other parts of the world" that could "significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it."

He was particularly frustrated that "Allende was elected legally" and "has legitimacy in the eyes of Chileans and most of the world; there is nothing we can do to deny him that legitimacy of claim he does not have it." Furthermore, Kissinger lamented, "We are strongly on record in support of self-determination and respect for free election," adding that Nixon himself was "firmly on record for non-intervention in the internal affairs of this hemisphere."

"It would thereby be very costly for us to act in ways that appear to violate those principles, and Latin Americans and others in the world will view our policy as a test of the credibility of our rhetoric," he wrote.

Kissinger immediately outlined a strategy to topple the Allende government.

Following the successful coup and Pinochet's installation as Chile's dictator, Kissinger maintained that "however unpleasant they act, this government is better for us than Allende was." He ignored appeals to address the severe human rights abuses in Chile, telling Pinochet himself, "In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here. We want to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende."

Thus when Nixon complained that "liberal" press was giving him "crap" about the coup, Kissinger was indignant. "In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes," he said.

Kissinger knew this would strike a chord with his audience of one. Nixon was Vice President when Eisenhower authorized the 1953 CIA-organized coup that overthrew popular Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the crime of nationalizing the nation's oil industry and not buckling to British and American diktat. The coup consolidated U.S.-backed dictatorial power under the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who ruled Iran for the next quarter century.

"By restoring the Shah to power," Nixon recalled years later, "it meant that the United States had a friend in Iran, a very strong friend, and for 25 years Iran played a role as a peace-keeper in the Persian Gulf area."

Always valuing imperial interests over democratic and humanitarian values, Nixon made an official pilgrimage to visit the Shah in Iran shortly after the coup. Fifteen years later, as president, Nixon provided weapons systems and military assistance to Iran on a massive scale, effectively bankrolling the Shah's prospective $20 billion military build-up. Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds at the time called the arms transfers "the most rapid buildup of military power under peacetime conditions of any nation in the history of the world."

Kissinger himself mused, "[W]e adopted a policy which provides, in effect, that we will accede to any of the Shah’s requests for arms purchases from us (other than some sophisticated advanced technology armaments and with the very important exception, of course, of any nuclear weapons capability)."

In a private meeting with Kissinger on July 27, 1973 at Blair House, the Shah confirmed as much. "I have a friend in the U. S. that is ready to provide anything I need - short of atomic weapons and they are not an issue," he said during a conversation about acquiring American fighter jets, tanks, and battleships and agreeing to arm Pakistan against India.

Kissinger and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

The Nixon White House - and Kissinger in particular - maintained very close relations with the Shah, in turn gaining a dutiful puppet in the region. This was especially beneficial during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, when Arab members of the petroleum exporting consortium "cut production and stopped oil shipments to the United States and other countries that were backing Israel in the Yom Kippur War." With the Shah in power, Iran continued production and export to the United States and its allies, including apartheid South Africa, throughout the embargo and was rewarded handsomely by reaping the windfall of the oil shock.

When the Iranian Revolution finally forced the Shah to flee Iran, it was Kissinger and a cohort of such "influential friends" as Chase Manhattan Bank's David Rockefeller, former statesman and World Bank president John McCloy, and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who intensively lobbied the Carter administration to eventually admit the Shah to the United States. Carter's reluctant acquiescence was the main catalyst for the November 4, 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

A month after the seizure of the embassy, Kissinger gave an interview to People Magazine. He had already visited the Shah twice since his arrival. He also insisted that Iranians had no legitimate reason to resent American foreign policy. Admitting that the Shah was "certainly authoritarian," Kissinger praised his "reforming government" for its professed economic, education, environmental, and medical advances.

"Not everybody who attacks us is doing so because we supplied a just grievance," he said, adding that "it must be made clear that challenging the U.S. is not for free. There has to be some penalty for opposing us and some reward for being friendly. Unless we can reestablish that balance, this trend will continue."

Regarding his belief that the United States was indebted to its former quisling, Kissinger told People, "I have held the position all along that the Shah was a friend of the U.S. for 37 years. Every President, starting with Truman, lauded the Shah's friendship and his modernizing tendencies and spoke of the gratitude we owed him." Such a partner deserved "private humanitarian asylum," Kissinger said. "In light of the Shah's help to our nation, I felt a duty to help."

Despite all this, Hillary Clinton, in her review of "World Order," maintains that "Kissinger's analyses of the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are particularly valuable."

Atomic Drop

While writing about Kissinger's diplomatic philosophies and policy prescriptions, Clinton manages to repeatedly praise herself for her own work as Secretary of State, including what she terms taking "decisive action on challenges such as Iran's nuclear program."
This "decisive action" actually consisted of issuing threats, ultimatums, and imposing "crippling" sanctions upon a country over its refusal to abandon its inalienable right to a domestic nuclear energy program. It wasn't until she left the administration that the current negotiations got underway.

Yet bringing up such a topic in an article about Henry Kissinger is itself ironic, as Iran may never have established a nuclear program to begin with were it not for him.

In 1975, during his tenure as Gerald Ford's Secretary of State, "Kissinger signed and circulated National Security Decision Memorandum 292, titled 'U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation,' which laid out the administration's negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment projected to bring U.S. corporations more than $6 billion in revenue," reported the Washington Post's Danfa Linzer in 2005.

The strategy paper, Linzer wrote, "commended Iran's decision to build a massive nuclear energy industry," and argued that Iran needed to "prepare against the time -- about 15 years in the future -- when Iranian oil production is expected to decline sharply."

Working alongside other Ford administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, Kissinger engaged in "intense efforts to supply Iran with U.S. nuclear technology" and even "tried to accommodate Iranian demands for plutonium reprocessing." A directive signed by Ford in 1976 offered access to "a complete 'nuclear fuel cycle' -- reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis."

When asked by Linzer about the potential consequences and hypocrisy of such a deal in light of more recent punitive and preventive policies, Kissinger shrugged. "I don't think the issue of proliferation came up," he said, eventually adding, "They were an allied country, and this was a commercial transaction. We didn't address the question of them one day moving toward nuclear weapons."

Diplomatic Double Standards

In mid-1969, as Nixon's National Security Adviser, Kissinger outlined what would soon become official American policy regarding Israel's clandestine nuclear arsenal. Once Israeli nuclear capability came to light in Washington - outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refused to sign - the Nixon administration attempted to devise a strategy to deal with it.

A National Security Study delivered to Kissinger in May 1969 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Rodger Davies noted, "Israel has committed to us that it will not be 'the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area', but there are grounds for believing that Israel does not construe production of a weapon to constitute 'introduction.'" It further stated:
If the possession of nuclear weapons offered an ultimate deterrent for Israel we would perhaps be prepared to conclude that, whatever other disadvantages this development might have, its contribution to Israel's security, especially with the prospect of continuing Arab hostility, was in the US interest.

Israel wants nuclear weapons, as was both explicit and implicit in our conversations with Rabin, for two reasons: first, to deter the Arabs from striking Israel, and second, if deterrence fails and Israel were about to be overrun, to destroy the Arabs in a nuclear Armageddon.
In a July 19, 1969 memo to the president, Kissinger introduced a new policy option, writing that "while we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact."

Golda Meir, Richard Nixon, and Kissinger

Despite the efforts of Nixon officials to place curbs on the program, they eventually "withdrew step after step from an ambitious plan to block Israeli nuclearization, until they finally acceded, in internal correspondence – the content of the conversation between Nixon and Meir is still classified – to recognition of Israel as a threshold nuclear state," wrote Amir Oren recently in Ha'aretz, basing his report on newly-declassified documents.
The Nixon advisers concluded that, all things considered, "we cannot force the Israelis to destroy design data and components, much less the technical knowledge in people’s minds, nor the existing talent for rapid improvisation." Thus, Davies wrote in July, two months before the Nixon-Meir meeting, the lesser evil would be to agree for Israel to "retain its 'technical option'" to produce nuclear weapons.
"If the Israelis show a disposition to meet us on the nuclear issue but are adamant on the Jericho missiles, we can drop back to a position of insisting on non-deployment of missiles and an undertaking by the Israelis to keep any further production secret," Davies added.
Such "nuclear ambiguity" has been both official Israeli and U.S. policy ever since President Richard Nixon met with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in September 1969. Accordingly, Nixon formally suspended all American inspection of and visitation to Israel's Dimona nuclear plant in 1970 and ceased demands that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

When President Obama first met with Netanyahu in May 2009, he confirmed the continuity of the secret agreement, a stance one Senate staffer reportedly described as "call[ing] into question virtually every part of the president's nonproliferation agenda" by giving "Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card."

The Clinton Doctrine

Clinton's affinity for Kissinger is nothing new. In December 2009, Jon Meacham conducted a joint interview with the two of them for Newsweek, during which Clinton praised Kissinger: "Henry's the expert on theory and doctrine," she said.

Hillary Clinton's review of Henry Kissinger's book provides her and her public relations team an opportunity to set the stage for what seems like another inevitable run for president. It affirms her fealty to American imperialism and hegemony, her reliance on the advice of predecessors, colleagues and friends with demonstrably more appalling records than her own, and her firm commitment to continue the failed and dangerous policies of past administrations, all the while retaining the same sanctimony, self-righteousness, and entitlement that got her where she is today.

The review is already paying dividends as intended.

"I know Hillary as a person," Kissinger told NPR's Scott Simon the other day. "And as a personal friend, I would say yes, she'd be a good president." Though perhaps conflicted as a lifelong Republican as to whom he would vote for come 2016, Kissinger nevertheless confirmed, "Yes, I'd be comfortable with her as the president."

That alone should cost her the primary.

From voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq to her consistently hawkish defense of Israeli war crimes and constant bellicosity on Iran to her personal role in the Obama administration's expansion of the American surveillance state and drone program, and now hailing Henry Kissinger as a gritty, truth-telling idealist, the question remains: is there anything about Hillary Clinton that isn't absolutely terrible?



September 10, 2014 - Peter Hart of the vital media watchdog FAIR has a phenomenal piece up today about Kissinger's recent round of public appearances and interviews. It should be read in its entirety three times in a row and then shared with everyone you know:

And Now, a Word From Henry Kissinger…


Friday, September 5, 2014

Dilanian's Dizzying Defense & Dissemination of Disinformation:
My Own Discussion with the 'CIA's Mop-Up Man'

On Wednesday afternoon, The Intercept's Ken Silverstein dropped a bombshell:
A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
That reporter is Ken Dilanian, who has since joined Associated Press as an intelligence reporter.

A swath of emails from the first half of 2012, released to The Intercept in response to a FOIA request, show that Dilanian maintained a particularly obsequious relationship with the media relations team over at the Central Intelligence Agency, the clandestine U.S. government service he was hired to cover for the paper.

Dilanian, dubbed "the CIA's Mop-Up Man" by The Intercept, went beyond the usual role of mainstream media stenographer of government talking points. According to Silverstein - and overwhelmingly corroborated by the content of the published documents - Dilanian "enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA's reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times."

Silverstein continues:
"I'm working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys," Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be "reassuring to the public" about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, "does this look better?" In another, he directly asks the flack: "You wouldn't put out disinformation on this, would you?"
Another example of Dilanian's shameful sycophancy is found in an email he sent to his contact at the CIA Office of Public Affairs on April 11, 2012. In the message, Dilanian passes along a 10-day-old dispatch from the Yemen Times, reporting on a U.S. drone strike in Azzan, a town in the country's eastern Shabwa province. Five people were killed in the strike, one of whom was immediately identified as 60-year-old civilian, Mohamed Saleh al Suna. Six children were also injured by shrapnel from the bombing while playing soccer.

Even though Reuters had already reported on the attack on March 30, 2012 - the day it occurred - Dilanian attempted to get confirmation on the strike and reported casualties from his buddies at the CIA. "This one sounds like you guys," he wrote, adding, "Do you agree that a civilian was killed?"

Far from acting as a venerable "Fourth Estate" check on the excesses state power, Dilanian clearly revels in his access to the upper echelons of the security and surveillance establishment, eager to laundering their lies and whitewash their war crimes.

While Dilanian's "closely collaborative" and "deferential relationship" with the CIA, as Silverstein puts it, is shameful, unprofessional, and does a great disservice to what should be the adversarial, critical, and challenging role the press should have vis-à-vis the government, it certainly comes as no surprise.

At least to me.

A month before the first of Dilanian's emails released to The Intercept was written, I engaged in a brief online correspondence with him.

On February 23, 2012, Ken Dilanian wrote a refreshingly solid piece on the U.S. government's view of the Iranian nuclear program, noting that there was still no evidence Iran is actually building a nuclear bomb nor actively pursuing the means to do so.

Nevertheless, the article contained a slight error regarding Dilanian's shorthand description of Iran's declared and safeguarded enrichment site at Fordow, which he wrote was a "clandestine underground facility" that had been "discovered" by "Western intelligence agencies."

Since the piece was otherwise generally good, I thought Dilanian would be receptive to a minor bit of fact-checking and decided to get in touch, using my nice voice.

What happened next was bizarre. The defensive posture immediately on display by Dilanian - someone with an important role at a large American newspaper - was revealing, and illuminating. No amount of reasoned explanation or fact-based rationale would do - he deflected, doubled-down, fumed, fulminated, and then, as the short-lived conversation continued, became increasingly insulting and juvenile.

He effectively admitted to being a sounding board for anonymous government spooks and berated anyone who doesn't have Pentagon and CIA officials on speed-dial as being ignorant and agenda-driven, citing a "conspiracy" I never suggested existed.

The best part, perhaps, was when he wrote, "[T]here are checks and balances, including Congressional oversight, journalistic scrutiny and whistleblowers from within – all of which insures, I would argue, that US officials do not often get away with elaborate lies..."

My guess is that there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who might beg to differ with his particularly sunny assessment if they weren't already dead.

At another point, Dilanian insisted to me that "U.S. government officials are not in the habit of elaborate disinformation campaigns," and then later, after I challenged the official narrative on something, writes, "but it's so easy for you to sit in Brooklyn, having no contact whatsoever with anyone senior from the government's national security apparatus, and having no real idea of how that apparatus works, and us[ing] phrases like 'a narrative emerges.'"

With the new revelations published by The Intercept, we now know, even more than before and beyond a shadow of doubt, who's actually responsible for foisting particular narratives upon the unwitting public.

But, hey, if only I sent fawning emails from Washington D.C. to my pals across the Potomac in Langley, maybe I'd have some clue as to what really going on. Thanks Ken, for setting me straight.

Below is our email exchange in full (the only editing made have been the standardization of the spelling of "Fordow" and the removal of Dilanian's mobile phone number):

From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 1:55 AM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

Mr. Dilanian,

I'm writing to thank you for the important piece, "U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb," in the L.A. Times today. It contains a lot of vital information that is not reported on nearly often enough in the mainstream press. Those who follow this issue closely, like myself, have been writing about this information for a long time, so reading it in the L.A. Times is a huge boost to getting the truth out.

I do question, however, your decision to include the following sentence: "In 2009, Western intelligence agencies discovered a clandestine underground facility called Fordow, near the city of Qom..."

In fact, the Fordow plant was not really "discovered" by "Western intelligence agencies"; rather, it was announced by Iran to the IAEA on September 21, 2009. Barack Obama's sensationalist press conference, alongside Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh, during which supposedly "revealed" the existence of the Fordow facility to the world, occurred on September 25, 2009, four days after Iran itself told the IAEA about the plant, which was subsequently described as “a hole in a mountain” and “nothing to be worried about” by then-IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei.

In advance of Obama's supposed revelation, IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire told reporters, "I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country."

Obama even acknowledged this fact in his speech, noting, "Earlier this week, the Iranian government presented a letter to the IAEA that made reference to a new enrichment facility...", though he deliberately omitted the inconvenient fact that Iran is only legally obligated to inform the IAEA of new facilities within 180 days of the introduction of nuclear material thereby making his own accusation of Iran's alleged intransigence deliberately deceiving.

Unfortunately, your report also fails to acknowledge the essential fact that IAEA spokesman Gill Tudor has confirmed: “All nuclear material in the [Fordow] facility remains under the agency’s containment and surveillance.”

In such an otherwise excellent report, it is frustrating to see the "secret Fordow facility" meme still repeated.

Considering your attention to the Iranian nuclear issue and constant dis- and misinformation, speculation and propaganda regarding Iran's capabilities and intentions, I think you might be interested in this piece of mine from December 2010, which has subsequently been updated over 51 times with new predictions since its original publication: The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran's Nuclear Program

Nima Shirazi
Brooklyn, NY

From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 9:35 AM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

Mr. Shirazi, thanks for your comment. I believe you are flat wrong about Fordow. Iran declared it only after Iran discovered that Western intelligence agencies knew about it. I did get the date wrong – the U.S. actually discovered it years before, and announced it only after Iran’s preemptive letter. See:


Ken Dilanian
National Security Correspondent
Los Angeles Times
O:(202) 824 8328
Twitter: @KenDilanianLAT

From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:12 AM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

Thanks for replying so quickly, Ken.

That Iran was merely reacting to a Western discovery and hoping to pre-empt its publicity is precisely the narrative that has been wholeheartedly accepted by the press without any hint of scrutiny or shred of evidence. First off, how would Iran find out that Obama was going to hold a press conference announcing the "discovery" of the site with enough time to decide to "preemptively" draft a letter to the IAEA? - a declaration, it should be pointed out, that took place well before the 180 days before nuclear material was introduced to the site as mandated by Iran's ratified Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Actually, Iran announced the site about a year and a half before it technically and legally had to. I suppose, though, it is possible that Iranian agents had access to Rahm Emanuel's google calendar.

It's silly to rehash what has been addressed already, but I think IPS journalist Gareth Porter's recent article on this very subject in instructive (forgive me for quoting at length):

The Clinton and Hague statements [that Fordo was "covert" and "clandestine" before revealed to the world by the West] recalled a briefing for reporters during the Pittsburgh G20 summit meeting Sep. 25, 2009, at which a "senior administration official" asserted that Iran had informed the IAEA about the Fordow site in a Sep. 21 letter only after it had "learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised".

That administration claim was quickly accepted by major media outlets without any investigation of the facts. That story line is so deeply entrenched in media consciousness that even before Clinton's remarks, Reuters and Associated Press had published reports from their Vienna correspondents that repeated the official Obama administration line that Iran had revealed the Fordow site only after Western intelligence had discovered it.

But the administration never offered the slightest evidence to support that assertion, and there is one major reason for doubting it: the United States did not inform the IAEA about any nuclear facility at Fordow until three days after Iran's Sep. 21, 2009 formal letter notifying the IAEA of the Fordow enrichment facility, because it couldn't be certain that it was a nuclear site.

Mohammed ElBaradei, then director general of the IAEA, reveals in his 2011 memoir that Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, informed him Sep. 24 about U.S. intelligence on the Fordow site – three days after the Iranian letter had been received.

An irritated ElBaradei demanded to know why he had not been told before the Iranian letter.

Einhorn responded that the United States "had not been sure of the nature of the facility", ElBaradei wrote.

The administration's claim that Iran announced the site because it believed U.S. intelligence had "identified it" was also belied by a set of questions and answers issued by the Obama administration on the same day as the press briefing. The answer it provided to the question, "Why did the Iranians decide to reveal this facility at this time," was "We do not know."

Greg Thielmann, who was a top official in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research until 2003 and was on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the 2009 episode, told IPS the evidence for the claim that Iran believed the site had been discovered was "all circumstantial".

Analysts were suspicious of the Iranian letter to the IAEA, Thielmann said, because, "it had the appearance of something put together hurriedly."

But there is an alternative explanation: the decision to reveal the existence of a second prospective enrichment site – this one built into the side of a mountain – appears to have reflected the need to strengthen Iran's hand in a meeting with the "P5 + 1" group of state led by the United States that was only 10 days away.

The Iranian announcement that it would participate in the meeting on Sep. 14, 2009 came on the same day that the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, warned against an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The idea that Iran was planning to enrich uranium secretly at Fordow assumes that the Iranians were not aware that U.S. intelligence had been carrying out aerial surveillance of the site for years. That is hardly credible in light of the fact that the Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK), the armed opposition group with links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, had drawn attention to the Fordow site in a December 2005 press conference – well before it had been selected for a second enrichment plant.
Anyway, whether you roll your eyes or not about this minor point of contention, my opinion, or Porter's conclusions, I do thank you again for your LAT piece and look forward to reading more from you in the future.


From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:32 AM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

Nima, the problem with intelligence reporting is there is often no way to independently confirm what your sources are telling you. You just have to rely on triangulating the information, on your years of experience dealing with certain people, and on the fact that—while you may find this hard to believe—U.S. government officials are not in the habit of elaborate disinformation campaigns. Not to say it never happens, of course, but it’s just not typically the way it works. I am confident in the New York Times reporting on this, which was based on multiple sources from within the U.S. intelligence community. What seems to be the case is that the US, France and Britain thought they knew what was there, but were not 100% certain until Iran admitted it, which may be why they didn’t send a letter to the IAEA. Just like the CIA wasn’t certain bin Laden was in Abbottabad until they ID’d his body. It is, of course, easy to say there isn’t a “shred of evidence” to support what anonymous US intelligence sources are claiming. That is true for just about any story about secret intelligence. But there are checks and balances, including Congressional oversight, journalistic scrutiny and whistleblowers from within – all of which insures, I would argue, that US officials do not often get away with elaborate lies of the kind you are suggesting they perpetrating here. Ken

From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 2:49 PM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

I don't think it's particularly elaborate or dastardly for U.S. officials to establish a particular narrative regarding alleged Iranian intransigence and malfeasance. This one is actually quite simple - Iran legally places a new facility under full IAEA Safeguards in line with its obligations and, as a result, undercuts a big, fancy announcement by the president. So, in response, a narrative emerges that Iran did this deliberately because they had been "found out." And the press repeats that story until it becomes established, unquestioned fact.

Pretty simple, really.

Anyway, no need to bicker about this. I'm glad to hear you have such confidence in the honesty of our government officials and think that they "do not often get away with elaborate lies."


From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 2:58 PM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment

but it’s so easy for you to sit in Brooklyn, having no contact whatsoever with anyone senior from the government’s national security apparatus, and having no real idea of how that apparatus works, and uses phrases like “a narrative emerges.”; what you are saying there is that multiple people from multiple government agencies conspired in a big lie. you can’t make the accusation and then hide behind euphemisms. and what I’m saying is, we live in a democracy, it doesn’t (usually) work like that. not that people are so righteous, but that it’s impossible to orchestrate a conspiracy like that. there are 16 intel agencies, and a lot of other people with access to this sort of information, including liberal democrats and conservative republicans. even if obama and his advisers wanted to lie about something like this, some malcontent somewhere would talk.

I chose not to carry the conversation further. After all, I had plenty of more sitting to do in Brooklyn, far far away from all those truth-tellers in the CIA press office.