The Legacy of Obama’s Presidency (Ezekiel 17)

Contradictions Abound At Obama’s Final Nuclear Security Summit – Analysis

US President Barack Obama speaks at United Nations
US President Barack Obama speaks at United Nations. Photo Credit: Screenshot from White House video.
 
By K.N. Pandita

In his Prague speech of 2009, President Obama touched on an important subject for the first time. He talked about security against nuclear terror, meaning the need to nuclear arsenals against falling into the hands of non-state actors. A year later, the first meeting of stakeholders (NSS) numbering no fewer than 53, was held in Washington to deliberate and gradually inch towards a consensus formula of how nuclear arsenals could be safeguarded.

The fourth and perhaps final meeting of the NSS, to which India and Pakistan have also been invited, is to be held in Washington at the end of March. President Putin of Russia has declined to participate.
India and Pakistan, two nuclear countries in South Asia, count fairly well in the deliberations and in the decision likely to come out of the final round of talks.

In a news briefing in Washington in October 2015, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhury disclosed for the first time that his country had made low-yield tactical nuclear weapons “for use in the event of a sudden attack by its larger neighbor.”

Two days later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with President Obama. Reports suggest that they talked about Pakistan’s nuclear program, Afghanistan, and militant groups such as the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba – both banned organizations in the U.S.

Quoting Pervez Hoodhbhoy, a nuclear physicist and independent security analyst based in Lahore, BBC reported in a news commentary on October 21, 2015: “The fact that Pakistan was making small tactical nuclear weapons was clear to the world from the day Pakistan started its missile program. It meant that Pakistan had developed low-yield nuclear warheads to be delivered by those missiles at short ranges in a battlefield having localized impact, unlike big bombs designed to destroy cities.”
Experts say that the 2011 testing of a nuclear-capable Nasr missile by Pakistan, with a 60 kilometers range, was an indication that Pakistan was building an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons for use in a theater of war.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based expert on defense and security issues, suspects that Pakistan may have designed even smaller nuclear weapons, capable of being shot from a specially-designed gun.
Objectively speaking, battlefield weapons could be more dangerous than larger weapons because in the event of a conflict, they will need to be spread out, deployed at multiple locations closer to the targets, and would need to be fired at short notice. BBC also made the cryptic remark that “evidently, Pakistan has acquired this technology from China and it is not possible to block that pipeline.”
The question is whether nuclear command and control procedures will always be adequately ensured for all the missile units deployed across the theatre?

In addition to this concern, should not Western powers and the U.S. in particular take note of the fact that Pakistan developed these weapons despite nuclear-related international sanctions in force since 1998, after it carried out its first nuclear test?

How then is the U.S. reacting to this situation in the context of NSS program? Let us put it succinctly. Speaking during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Special Representative for Af-Pak, Richard Olson said that Obama administration shares the concerns of lawmakers particularly about the development of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. “We are concerned most by the pace and scope of Pakistan’s missile program, including its pursuit of nuclear systems,” he said.

Replying to a question from Congressman Brian Higgins, Olson said that the U.S. was concerned a conventional conflict in Southwest Asia could escalate to include nuclear weapons as well as the increased security challenges that accompany growing stockpiles. He said the U.S. had a very active dialogue at the highest levels with the Pakistanis in which US concerns were stated.
US official circles assert they have urged Pakistan to restrain her nuclear weapons and missile development, which might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability.
On this basis, US lawmakers have asked their government to be tough on Islamabad “as it does not seem to be sincere in improving ties with India and has accelerated the pace of arsenals’ production.”
According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Pakistan could have 350 nuclear warheads in the next decade, becoming the world’s third biggest nuclear power, outpacing India, France, China, and the UK. Expressing himself forcefully on the subject, Higgins said, “We have to call them (Pakistan) out on this double game they have been playing, not this year, not last year, not five years, but for the past 15 years…. Pakistan, let’s be truthful about this, plays a double game. They are our military partner, but they are the protector and the patron of our enemies. US aid to Pakistan, economic and military, has averaged $2 billion a year.”

Attendees of the Nuclear Security Summit, particularly the United States, must be aware that Pakistan with its 189 million population – many of them Islamic extremists – has nuclear weapons. To have Islamic extremists with nuclear weapons is a primary goal of al-Qaeda and it would be a major victory for them and the outgrowth of al-Qaeda namely the Islamic State, avers Higgins.
Covering the strategic dialogue between the high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Adviser for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, with their American counterpart in Washington, the Webdesk reported on 9 March that “Sartaj Aziz insisted that Islamabad would not accept any unilateral curb on its program. Any reduction must also apply to India and it must address the conventional imbalance between the two countries.” He pointed out that Pakistan did not have the resources to match India’s ever-increasing arsenal of conventional weapons and was forced to depend on non-conventional means to defend it.” Another important statement which Aziz made on that day was that Pakistan was hosting some Taliban leaders…

It is clear that Pakistan has decided to use nuclear option in case of war with India and that it is not ruling out the possibility of hosting the Taliban for whatever purposes.

What then should be the foremost agenda of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on 31 March? Obviously, it should be a detailed review of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the backdrop of how Islamabad tries to justify its relentless effort to increase its nuclear stockpile, including limited tactical nuclear weapon.

However, deeper study on the scenario throws up a contradiction in the words and practice of the U.S. The joint statement issued by Kerry and Sartaj after the conclusion of strategic dialogue belies the stated intentions of the U.S. The joint statement is a long eulogy on the “achievements” of Pakistan in meeting the challenge of the terrorists in the northern part of the country. John Kerry had full-throated praises and encomiums for the Pakistani Army fighting the “terrorists” in Pakistan’s north, but not a single word or hint about the terrorist engines on Pakistani soil working against India and Afghanistan. Proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and induction of tactical nuclear weapons in that arsenal did not figure in their joint statement.

Newsdesk of February 29, 2016 referred to a transcript released in Washington showing Secretary Kerry arguing in two congressional hearings that “the U.S. has been working really hard” to advance a rapprochement between Islamabad and India. In one statement he indirectly confirmed media reports that the U.S. was quietly encouraging the two prime ministers to hold bilateral talks.

How he looks at the stand-off between India and Pakistan, is reflected in his statement that Pakistan has deployed 150,000 to 180,000 troops along the Pak-Afghan border, and in case of a conflict with India Pakistan would have to redeploy the bulk of its forces on her eastern front. Thus what Kerry actually wants Pakistan to do is to fight against the Al Qaeda and Taliban outfits on her western front and keep the so-called non-state actors active on her eastern front against India.

The Webdesk of March 9 said that unlike it did with Iran, the U.S. does not want Pakistan to shut down its nuclear program. But it does want Islamabad to reduce the size of its arsenal.

During a testimony in the Senate where the bill against the sale of 8 F-16 to Pakistan was defeated by 71 to 24 votes, Secretary Kerry passionately defended the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying that the U.S. is committed to boosting Pakistan’s strategic capabilities in its war against terrorists.
In other words, Kerry means to say that only the Taliban and Al Qaeda outfits who are fighting against Pakistan in KP region are the terrorists Pakistan should fight against and the scores of other terrorist groups in Pakistan are outside the pale of terrorism. The Mumbai attacks and the recent attack on Pathankot airbase are no terrorist activities for him.

The sale of the F-16s aside, the Obama administration in February 2015 asked Congress to provide more than $1 billion in aid to Pakistan, including a six-fold increase in foreign military financing. The budget proposal described Pakistan as a “strategically important nation” and the proposed US assistance “will strengthen its military in the fight against extremism [and] increase the safety of nuclear installations”

This lays bare the doublespeak of the U.S. on the much trumpeted Nuclear Security Summit, to which President Obama has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate.

All this notwithstanding, BBC said in its commentary of 9 March that there are suggestions that the U.S. may offer Pakistan membership in the Nuclear Supplies Group, with legitimate access to available research and technology, in return for some curbs on fissile material production and its missile program. Sartaj Aziz already reacted this by saying that Pakistan will not accept any unilateral curbs unless same are applied to India.

This article was published at Geopolitical Monitor.com

Politics as usual from Obama (Ezekiel 17)

Updated: Jan 6, 2016 – 1:00 AM
North Korea said it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer to improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said late Tuesday that the U.S. is monitoring the situation “in close coordination with our regional partners.”
“While we cannot confirm these claims at this time, we condemn any violation of UN Security Council resolutions and again call on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and commitments,” he said,
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and, until today has done so twice since, Price said, “but we have consistently made clear that we will not accept it as a nuclear state.”
“We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea,” he said, “and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.”

White House Tries To Discredit Schumer (Ezekiel 17)

  

Schumer points to White House in leak of Iran vote position

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Produce
Updated 6:25 PM ET, Tue August 11, 2015

Washington (CNN)New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the lone Senate Democrat to publicly come out against the Iran deal, suggested Tuesday that the White House deliberately leaked his decision to oppose the agreement Thursday night before he had a chance to explain his “no” vote to colleagues.
“I told the president the day before and I don’t think he leaked it, but maybe somebody in the White House did, maybe somebody else did. I’m not pointing fingers,” Schumer told reporters after a speech at New York University on Tuesday.

The White House has denied being behind the media leak.

Schumer’s comments are the latest salvo between the New York senator and a White House at odds on a centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Former Obama aides and progressive outside groups have harshly attacked Schumer since his position became public and have questioned whether he’s fit to be the next Senate Democratic leader.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, threw cold water on this idea Tuesday, telling The Hill that he still supported Schumer. So far, no senators have come out against him as the next Senate Democratic leader.

Schumer was long thought to oppose the deal, but the timing of his statement of opposition — ahead of Congress’s summer recess, when members are expected to come under intense lobbying from both sides, rather than closer to the vote when revealing his position would be less influential — has particularly distressed the White House.

Congress will hold a vote on the Iran deal in September. While the White House is confident that they have enough votes to sustain an expected presidential veto should Congress reject the deal, they are counting every body.

Schumer raised the issue of a possible White House leak himself Tuesday in response to a question about the timing of his lengthy post on Medium that outlined his concerns about the deal. The leak of his decision came out in the middle of the Republican presidential debate last Thursday night, presumably when it would receive less attention, and the Medium piece appeared soon after.
The New York Democrat said he planned to publish the piece the day after the GOP debate, but his hand was forced by the leak.

Even though he was the one to aim the blame at the White House, Schumer appeared to downplay the episode Tuesday, saying, “Things always leak in Washington. So I don’t begrudge anybody for doing it.”
And he also minimized the split with the President. “The President and I had a very serious discussion about it,” he said. “We like each other, respect each other, work together on 95% of the issues.”

The President’s allies, though, are taking the breach seriously. David Plouffe, a former senior official in the Obama White House, continued the Democrat-on-Democrat war against Schumer late on Monday when he tweeted out a link to a story quoting Schumer urging the administration to try to negotiate a better deal.

“Mitch McConnell will have a field day with this kind of naïveté. We will miss Harry Reid,” Plouffe tweeted.

The current Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, announced his retirement in March and Schumer quickly locked up commitments from fellow Democrats to ascend to his post in January 2017.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, however, denied the White House had any part in the leak at a press briefing Friday.

An administration source also told CNN on Tuesday that they learned about Schumer’s opposition from sources on Capitol Hill before the senator informed them, implying several people knew of his position and raising the specter that others had leaked the information.

Schumer said fellow Democrats understand where he stands and aren’t telling him they won’t back him because of it.

Schumer said Tuesday that he plans to try to “persuade” undecided Democrats to help him block the deal but insisted he wasn’t twisting any arms on what he called “a vote of conscience.”

“Certainly I’m going to try and persuade my colleagues that my viewpoint is right. But anyone who thinks you can force somebody to vote with you in the Senate doesn’t understand the Senate.”

Missouri Democratic Rep. Claire McCaskill told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric that Schumer is “one of my best friends” and said she spoke with him since he announced his opposition to the deal, but that he didn’t lean on her vote against it.

McCaskill added that Schumer “checked in” with her and that “he understands that this is a tough call.”

Schumer said any effort to engage in “some kind of horse-trading” in return for a vote on the agreement would be “counterproductive.”
 

Meanwhile, in Israel opponents of the deal were also trying their hand at persuasion.

On the heels of a visit by Democrat members of Congress, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hosted a delegation of 36 House Republicans on Tuesday. The group was led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a vocal critic of the Iran deal.

“We fear that the agreement with Iran is a first step in the legitimization of Iran’s policies and strategies, and only acts to further destabilize a chaotic region,” Rivlin told the lawmakers.

Another Bush Lie: The Surge (Rev 13:18)

  

Jihad, the Failed ‘Surge,’ and the Abandonment of Iraq’s Non-Muslim Minorities

Don’t just blame Obama’s Iraq withdrawal. Even post-“Surge,” support for the slaughter of “infidels” was as strong as ever.

by Andrew G. Bostom
May 29, 2015 – 8:18 am

General Daniel P. Bolger’s Why We Lost — A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is a sobering read. Bolger went from a one- to a three-star general in Iraq and then Afghanistan, and once commanded 20,000 troops in Baghdad. He served eight years in these war zones, between 2005 to 2013. Bolger characterized (on p. 256) the much ballyhooed 2007 Iraq “surge,” at its tactical conclusion, thusly:

The casualty and hostile attack rates went down in the fall of 2007, never again to rise to their previous heights, at least during the remaining years of the American campaign. But the fighting never stopped either. It lingered, a third of the previous rate, but that was no comfort to those who fell, killed or wounded, or to their families. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, unrepentant Sunni rejectionists, surly Sadrists [Shiite followers of Muqtada al-Sadr], and Iranian handlers all kept their pieces on the board. As long as the occupiers remained, there would be attacks. As long as Iraq was Iraq, violence remained part of the picture.

Gen. Bolger elaborated on these sentiments in a November 2014 op-ed, while exploding the standard mythical trope about how the alleged “decisively victorious” troop surge — with irony, repeatedly dubbed “fragile and reversible” by its putative architect, General Petraeus — was “squandered” by the Obama administration’s policies:

Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story.

The surge in Iraq did not “win” anything. It bought time. It allowed us to kill some more bad guys and feel better about ourselves. But in the end, shackled to a corrupt, sectarian government in Baghdad and hobbled by our fellow Americans’ unwillingness to commit to a fight lasting decades, the surge just forestalled today’s stalemate. Like a handful of aspirin gobbled by a fevered patient, the surge cooled the symptoms. But the underlying disease didn’t go away. The remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq and the Sunni insurgents we battled for more than eight years simply re-emerged this year as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

With sad predictability, one never sees General Bolger on Fox News, nor is it likely he will be advising any of the burgeoning group of Republican contestants for the 2016 presidential nomination. But there are a litany of even more important topics for discussion regarding the ongoing sectarian Iraq morass that are never broached by either Fox News or the Republican presidential hopefuls.
When President George W. Bush announced the “surge” in 2007, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.”

Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically. Before the surge wound down in June 2008 — but at the height of its alleged “success” — a March 2008 poll from Iraq found that 42% of Iraqis labeled attacks on U.S. forces acceptable, and only 4% believed that U.S. forces were responsible for the transient decline in violence.

The poll also indicated that 63% (total) maintained that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq was actually worsening (26%), or had not improved (37%) the security situation.

In July 2008, both Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie sought a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. As Gen. Bolger’s lucid account reminds us, the November 17, 2008 Bush administration “Agreement Between the United States and the Republic of Iraq on the Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq” made requisite the full U.S. withdrawal by December 31, 2011, and an interim removal of American units from city and village localities by June 20, 2009.

Furthermore, this same Bush administration-negotiated SOFA (status of forces agreement) with our “Iraqi allies,” per Article 27, paragraph 4 (“Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.”) prohibited the U.S. from attacking, for example, Iranian nuclear production facilities or improvised explosive device factories from Iraqi bases and airspace.

A cursory, incomplete tally of murderous sectarian Sunni-Shiite car bombings in Iraq for the four years after the surge — June 2008 through June 2012 – reveals at least 65 attacks leaving 2000 dead and two- to threefold that number injured, many seriously. More importantly, then Iraqi President Talabani attended an Orwellian counter-terrorism conference in Tehran (June 25–26, 2011), just six months before the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Our Iraqi “ally” failed to object to the conference agitprop of their Iranian hosts “defining” the United States and Israel as the primary sources of global terrorism. Further:

In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, [Iran’s Supreme Theocrat Leader] Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. pres­ence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance.

On August 14, 2007, when the surging U.S. had 166,000 troops on the ground in Iraq — not the mere one-fifth (or one-tenth) residual numbers pined for by those who insist the failure to secure a 2011 status of forces agreement with the al-Maliki regime sealed the undoing of Iraq’s “stability” — 796 Yazidis were slaughtered and another 1562 wounded in one day during four gruesomely synchronized jihadist bombings. (See here and here, and here for U.S. Army confirmation of the death toll.) Veteran Middle East journalist Tom Gross provided this characterization of the events:

[T]wo tons of explosives detonated in four coordinated explosions in the northern Iraqi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera on August 14, 2007, the target was Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic and religious minority. 796 people died and over 1,500 were wounded as a fireball led to the collapse of mud and stone buildings on families trapped inside; many were then burned alive.

The endless critiques of Obama administration policy failures in Iraq last summer (see Krauthammer on Fox News; Hegseth in National Review Online) revealed a glaring lacuna in honest, self-critical discourse by omitting all discussion of the “mid-surge” Yazidi catastrophe. Such warped analyses were pathognomonic of a broader, much more disturbing ethical and intellectual travesty: ongoing attempts by mainstream conservatives to rationalize their uninformed, witless adherence to the utopian “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine”-inspired “Islamic democracy” fiasco in Iraq.

The successful post-World War II paradigm of neutralizing Japan’s bellicose, religio-political creed of Shintoism has been turned on its head with regard to Islam and the theocratic Islamic legal code Sharia, which is imbued with jihad and completely antithetical to modern human rights constructs.

Despite the proven, concrete success of the post-World War II reforms in Japan, past intellectual honesty on Shinto was replaced by craven, politically correct ignorance on Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, as championed by a callow American pseudo-scholastic apologist for Islam’s Sharia, who evangelized for “Islamic Democracy,” Sharia-compliant Iraqi and Afghan constitutions were crafted (and of course extolled by this same “scholar,” here and here).

Born of willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of the Petraeus “COIN” theory, a see-no-jihad, see-no-Islam military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.

Once A Bush Always A Bush, Once A Beast Always A Beast (Rev 13:10)

  

Jeb Bush Re-Writes the History of the Iraq War

1 day ago | Updated 1 day ago
Joseph A. Palermo Professor, historian, author

Nothing illustrates better the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican war hawks who call themselves presidential candidates than their attempts to whitewash the history of how this nation went to war in Iraq.

John Ellis “Jeb” Bush stood by his brother’s side while he demolished a nation of 28 million people in the heart of the Arab world he knew nothing about. Out on the stump, Jeb and other GOP candidates try to shift responsibility for the worst U.S. foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam War from George W. to President Barack Obama.

Jeb and Co. claim that everything was fine in Iraq until Obama failed to keep George W.’s ill-conceived war of aggression running on full throttle. They pretend the 2007 “surge” in Iraq of about 10,000 American soldiers had all but “won” the war and the rise of ISIL/ISIS is Obama’s fault. They skip over the pesky fact that it was George W. who negotiated the U.S. troop withdrawal with the Nouri al Maliki regime. (Bush announced the deal at a memorable press conference with Maliki when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at the Leader of the Free World.)

Jeb and Co. also love pointing out that Hillary Rodham Clinton and other big name Democrats voted in favor of the congressional resolution granting W. carte blanche to go to war. But they leave out the fact that just about everybody on the left in America had denounced the war before it began, and that 133 Democrats in the House and 23 Democrats in the Senate voted against Bush’s war.

They also airbrush out of the historical record that one of their conservative heroes, Pope John Paul II (the Polish Pope who stood up to the Communists) emphatically opposed Bush’s war, as did the Arab League, the Islamic Conference, the U.S.’s Sunni allies in the region (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), the Organization of African Unity, Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Nations, and 15 million people who marched worldwide on February 15, 2003.

They omit these facts because they don’t support the idea that “everybody got it wrong.”
Although it has been dropped down a memory hole, the Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002 pretty much confirms that the Bush administration deliberately lied the nation into war. The top secret minutes of a summer meeting of the highest-ranking intelligence officials in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government shows that George W. had already decided to go to war using whatever garbage about Iraqiweapons of mass destruction” his administration could manufacture. One paragraph stands out:

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” [Italics added]

The sentence — “there was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action” — has turned out to be one of the biggest understatements in the history of American military interventions.

Then there was the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson scandal whereby Karl Rove and Dick Cheney decided to out Ambassador Wilson’s wife as a secret CIA operative working on international nuclear issues.

This cynical ploy was retribution for Wilson’s op-ed in the New York Times, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” that exposed the Bush administration’s lies about the Iraqi government seeking “yellow cake” uranium from Niger.

The exotic sounding “yellow cake” line was the scariest part of President Bush’s doom-laden State of the Union Address of January 2003, which he later blamed on “bad intelligence.”

Then there was the aluminum tubes fiasco whereby the Bush administration, with an assist from the ever-eager Judith Miller of the New York Times, hyped a shipment of tubes going to Iraq as only suitable for nuclear applications.

It took United Nations weapons experts about 30 seconds to determine that the tubes were not machine tooled for any nuclear program but were for some kind of mortar or simpler use (the tubes were nowhere near the calibrations needed in nuclear research).

Yet the Bush people pumped up the volume on the aluminum tube story. President Bush conjured up terrifying images of “mushroom clouds” and Saddam’s “nuclear mujahideen.”

And that might be the worst aspect of the whole sordid story: A U.S. president cynically exploited the American people’s genuine fear and trepidation of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington to launch an illegal and ill-conceived war of aggression.

In a speech in Cincinnati Ohio on October 7, 2002, while aggressively campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates as the Commander-in-Chief, Bush elaborated on the Iraqi “nuclear threat”:

“The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his ‘nuclear mujahedeen’ — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

When the fantastic “aluminum tube” story was juxtaposed with the false report of “yellow cake” from Niger, it enabled Condi Rice, Bush and other like-minded souls to scare the hell out of the American people (and the Congress) with the vivid image of “a smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

In reality, over 20 years earlier, the Israelis had eliminated any potential Iraqi nuclear threat when they blew to bits the French built Osirak nuclear reactor, the only one Iraq ever had. And during the 1991 Gulf War, the United States finished the job when it pulverized Iraq’s infrastructure.

Throughout the 1990s, the United States and Great Britain imposed no-fly zones on the northern and southern parts of Iraq where bombing Iraq became “routine,” along with crippling economic sanctions that killed an estimated half million Iraqi children. Secretary of State Madeliene Albright famously said that the loss of innocent life due to the harsh sanctions imposed on Iraq was “worth it.”

President Bush even went so far as to tell the world that the Iraqis might position “floating platforms” off the coast of the United States where they could station Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) capable of spraying chemical or biological agents on U.S. cities on the East Coast. This preposterous claim was in response to the questions that arose after Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003 U.N. presentation (which he has since renounced) where he made a big deal out of UAVs in Iraq that might emit chemical or biological agents.

The only problem was that the range for these fearsome UAVs was not even close to being a “threat” to the United States. Foreign journalists asked Bush: How can these Iraqi UAVs attack the United States when their range was measured in hundreds of kilometers? You can see Bush’s “floating platform” answer in the superb documentary Leading to War (2008).

Somehow, like something out of a Rambo movie, those cunning Iraqis were going to figure out a way to evade the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and then outmaneuver the Air Force and U.S. air defenses to deploy UAVs to spray Americans with chemical and biological agents as they walked to Starbucks in Manhattan.

Remember, the Bush people, including White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (who became a commentator for corporate media), Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (now a Jeb Bush adviser), and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were not saying they believed there “was a chance” there “might be” WMDs in Iraq. They were spoon-feeding the public exact figures: numbers of barrels of chemical agent, numbers of potential chemical and biological warheads, numbers of caches of prohibited weapons.

Dick Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, “There is no doubt” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. This assertion led the U.N.’s top weapons inspector, Hans Blix, to ask publicly how they could have 100 percent certainty that the WMDs exist, yet zero percent knowledge of where the weapons were located?

In the fall of 2002, Judith Miller’s stenographic reportage for the New York Times gave plausibility to the bogus claim that the location of Iraq’s WMD stockpile could be discovered using anonymous sources connected to the Bush administration (including the Iranian spy Ahmed Chalabi and the self-promoting flim-flam artist Ibn al Sheikh al-Libi who had the suitable nickname: “curve ball”). A self-perpetuating media loop was created whereby Dick Cheney on the Sunday talk shows cited the New York Times after Miller anonymously published bullshit from Cheney’s own bogus sources.

The Big Lie that effortlessly leaves the lips of all the 2016 Republican presidential candidates is that the war was the result of an “intelligence failure.” But if George W. felt burned by bad intelligence that cost the country so dearly, why would he give CIA Director George “slam dunk” Tenet the Medal of Freedom?

The fact that Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio can say with a straight face that W. and Cheney and Rummy and Condi were innocent dupes of an “intelligence failure,” and that the corporate media will blandly repeat these lies, points to a deeper failure in our political discourse.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress that came to power in 2009 failed to give the country any in-depth investigation into all aspects of the Iraq War. In the U.K., although it might not have amounted to much, at least Tony Blair and Foreign Minister Jack Snow were forced to squirm a little bit in front of a committee investigating their role in lying the British people into war; they had to testify before some independent body at least. On this side of the pond nothing happened but P.R. and spin and amnesia that is setting us up for the next disaster.

In 2002, the arch-terrorist leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was an unknown Jordanian jihadist wannabe who came on the scene too late to see any real action in Afghanistan. Few militants in Iraq or anywhere else ever heard of Zarqawi until Secretary of State Colin Powell built him up into a big shot during his February 5, 2003 indictment of the Iraqi government at the U.N.
As the Italian terrorism expert, Loretta Napoleoni, reported in her 2005 book, Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation, by mentioning Zarqawi by name as a “threat” in his most important address to the world Secretary Powell bestowed upon him a street credibility among jihadists he never had before. President Bush’s famous “Bring ’em on!” line was in response to those who claimed the U.S. military had become bogged down in Iraq and the war had turned the country into a magnet for jihadists to fight the Americans.

The 2016 Republican presidential candidates never tire of telling us how terrible Saddam Hussein was. Yes, Saddam was a despot but at least his regime was secular and had arisen from the organic ethnic and sectarian politics of Iraq. There was no sectarian war going on in Iraq until the U.S. invasion and occupation created the social, economic, and political conditions for it.

Lest we forget, in the 1980s, the U.S. allied itself with the Sunni Baathists in Iraq in their war against Iran. And some of America’s closest allies in the region, such as the theocracy in Saudi Arabia, Egypt under Mubarak, and Bahrain (where the U.S. Navy has the Fifth Fleet), all have abysmal human rights records.

There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invaded and sparked an insurgency. The rise of ISIL/ISIS was a direct consequence of the U.S. toppling the government and disfranchising the traditional Sunni technocratic class. The Sunnis in Anbar Province and elsewhere in Iraq will never accept Shia rule in Baghdad. And the Shia majority in Iraq and the Iranians are equally determined never to lose power.

This broiling civil and sectarian conflict has the potential to go on for decades and unleash a wider war. At this sad juncture, it looks like Iraq’s disfranchised Sunnis (in a tactical alliance with ISIL/ISIS) will continue to carve out territory until they can shoot their way back into power. (If that day ever comes.) The most likely scenario in Iraq going forward is a multi-sided civil and sectarian war similar to those in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, which is unlikely to be extinguished before it unleashes an even bigger conflagration.

In 2016, given the ongoing U.S.-created catastrophe in Iraq, it’s unbelievable that anyone named “Bush” could be seen as a viable presidential contender. While people in Iraq suffer as a result of misguided and criminal U.S. policies, the American people, facing a $5 billion election in 2016, are hearing presidential candidates put forth the most pathetic apologetics, spin, and lies as they try to whitewash the whole thing.

For 70 years, historians have tried to figure out how World War II-era leaders, diplomats, business and foreign policy elites could allow that kind of carnage to be unleashed upon the world. Today we might be closer to answering that question.

The Deal That Will Never Happen (Ezekiel 17)

 Beyond the Iran Nuclear Deal

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
MAY 9, 2015

President Obama’s meeting with Arab leaders this week is an opportunity to reassure the deeply skeptical Gulf states that America’s engagement and probable nuclear deal with Iran is not a threat but an opportunity for regional stability.

Iran is a Shiite nation; the Gulf states are majority Sunni, and the closer Iran and the big powers get to a deal (the self-imposed deadline is June 30) the more anxious the Sunni leaders have become. On this score, Mr. Obama can offer a convincing response: an Iran restrained by a strong and verifiable nuclear agreement is a lot less threatening than an unfettered Iran.

But there is another aspect to the deal that has unsettled Gulf leaders. In exchange for limitations on its nuclear program, Iran will be freed from economic sanctions, thus unleashing billions of dollars in frozen assets and new foreign investments. The Gulf states fear this could strengthen Iran’s influence in the region and give it more resources to support militant groups like Hezbollah and continue its meddling in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, where, with Russia, it is a major enabler of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

They also worry that the United States, eager to end three decades of hostility with Iran, can no longer be counted on to guarantee their security. Here Mr. Obama’s answer is a bit more complicated. He is expected to make more explicit the security assurances, but he should flatly reject any idea of a formal pact similar to that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that some Arab leaders have pressed for. The United States must be extremely cautious about being dragged into Middle East conflicts.

Getting the balance right won’t be easy. It is one thing for Mr. Obama to say the United States will defend Saudi Arabia against an invasion by Iran. But what would America’s responsibility be if Iran uses proxies to stir trouble in Saudi Arabia, which is a more plausible scenario? There should be a clear understanding that America will not defend any of these regimes against their domestic political opponents.

The United States has already sold billions of dollars in weapons to the Gulf states and held scores of joint military exercises. More aid, and more joint exercises, lie ahead. The most important step now is to integrate the Gulf nations’ military systems so they can better defend themselves.

Iran is not the only threat the Gulf states face, or even the main one. As Mr. Obama told The Times’s Thomas Friedman, there are internal threats — “populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances.” Few people see democracy taking root in the region anytime soon, but the political systems have to be made more inclusive, including for Islamists.

There is one other important point Mr. Obama can make: Iran is too often discussed as a force to be contained. Iran’s history certainly does not inspire confidence. But as Ellen Laipson, president of The Stimson Center, a think tank, has argued, the nuclear deal should be seen as “a great moment of opportunity” for the Arabs (with Israel’s tacit agreement) to embark on new regional ventures with Iran on energy, climate change, water scarcity and arms control.

If the nuclear deal is completed, the administration would try to encourage Iran to play a more constructive role in Syria. Many are skeptical that this will produce results, but testing the possibility of expanded cooperation beyond the nuclear deal is certainly worth the effort.

The Real Choices Are War Now Or War Later (Eze 17)

 False choices about Iran

Over the last six years, President Obama has become a master at selling his policies by using a rhetorical device known as the false choice. Recently, however, sources normally friendly to the president have been commenting on this technique. After a speech at the Military Academy last year, for example, The Atlantic published an article titled “Obama at West Point: A Foreign Policy of False Choices.”
A more recent use of false choice involves the administration’s negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear program. The president has stated in many ways that the only two options available are to accept whatever deal he reaches with the Iranians or war.
That approach conveniently overlooks a number of other possibilities ranging from tougher negotiating, harsher sanctions, covert actions of various types, the threat of war and military action short of all-out war.
There have been three air attacks on nuclear reactors. Ironically, the first such attack was launched by the Iranians, who are now so worried about an attack on their own nuclear facilities. In 1980, the Iranian Air Force attacked an Iraqi reactor under construction near Baghdad. The attack did relatively little damage. Less than a year later, the Israeli Air Force completed the job.
In 2007, the Israelis repeated their success by destroying a nuclear facility being built in Syria with support from both Iran and North Korea. Initially the Syrians denied the existence of such a facility, a claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency accepted. Later investigations caused the IAEA to reevaluate its assessment, and Syria’s dictator eventually admitted its existence.
The Israeli attacks generated much outrage, but no war, probably because no one in the region wanted either to take on the Israelis or let the Iraqis or Syrians develop nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, the Iranians hid their construction efforts from the IAEA long enough to harden their most important facilities, making them more difficult, but not impossible, to destroy by air attack.
When Iraq was developing its weapons programs, a number of mysterious events occurred. Nuclear scientists were killed and explosions destroyed vital materials and equipment in European sites before they could reach Iraq. Nuclear scientists in Iran have also been assassinated, and a major cascade of centrifuges needed to enrich uranium was destroyed when a computer virus caused the centrifuges to spin out of control.
Opponents of military and covert operations claim that such measures don’t significantly set back a nation’s efforts to build nuclear weapons and only increase their determination to do so. Note, however, that neither Iraq nor Syria has nuclear weapons today. The attacks delayed their nuclear programs long enough for other events to end those efforts.
Threat of military action alone might deter Iran, but the threat would have to be credible. Unfortunately, President Obama’s failure to carry out his “redline” threat to Syria not to employ chemical weapons has weakened the credibility of any future threats he might make.
Finally there is diplomacy. Diplomacy only works in cases where a nation genuinely has no ambition to be a nuclear weapons state, a condition not likely to be shared by Iran. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine inherited the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. Ukraine gave up that arsenal in return for a 2009 agreement by Russia, the United States and Great Britain that guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russia’s uncontested invasion of Ukraine will undoubtedly undermine confidence in future nuclear disarmament diplomacy.
Anything else is simply another example of a false choice.
 Col. Theodore L. Gatchel (USMC, ret.), a monthly contributor, is a military historian and a professor emeritus of joint military operations. The views here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Marine Corps or the Department of Defense.

Iran Will Keep Their Uranium For The End (Rev 15:2)

uranium-enrichment

White House: Negotiators still working on Iran’s enriched uranium

BY: Brian Hughes March 30, 2015 | 12:02 pm
The White House Monday hit back at the suggestion that Iran had agreed to and then backed out of a deal to send its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad, saying the issue could still be overcome ahead of the Tuesday deadline for talks.
“The idea that there had been an agreement that Iran had backed away from in the last 24 hours is not true,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One, as President Obama traveled to Boston for an event honoring the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
In terms of what’s going to happen with that stockpile, that is something our negotiators are working through, but it’s not accurate to say there had been an agreement that was then backtracked. As we’ve said all along, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”
Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi told reporters late Sunday that his country would not send its stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia for storage, which had been sought by P5+1 nations to keep Iran at least a year away from being able to develop a nuclear weapon.
Negotiators insist the Iranian position is not a deal breaker but concede that a number of issues remain with the Tuesday deadline swiftly approaching.
Critics, however, say the development is proof that Iran can’t be trusted to live up to terms of an agreement keeping it from building a nuclear weapon.
Schultz reiterated Monday that Obama would indeed walk away from the deal if the framework did not meet his conditions.

Bush Completed The Prophecy Of Revelation 13:1-10

This Declassified CIA Report Shows the Shaky Case for the Iraq War

Fri Mar. 20, 2015 1:31 PM EDT
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The United States began its invasion of Iraq 12 years ago. Yesterday, a previously classified Central Intelligence Agency report containing supposed proof of the country’s weapons of mass destruction was published by Jason Leopold of Vice News. Put together nine months before the start of the war, the National Intelligence Estimate spells out what the CIA knew about Iraq’s ability to produce biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. It would become the backbone of the Bush administration’s mistaken assertions that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and posed a direct threat to the post-9/11 world.

The report is rife with what now are obvious red flags that the Bush White House oversold the case for war. It asserts that Iraq had an active chemical weapons program at one point, though it admits that the CIA had found no evidence of the program’s continuation. It repeatedly includes caveats like “credible evidence is limited.” It gives little space to the doubts of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which found the CIA’s findings on Iraq’s nuclear program unconvincing and “at best ambiguous.”

This isn’t the first time the report’s been released in full: A version was made public in 2004, but nearly all the text was redacted. Last year, transparency advocate John Greenwald successfully petitioned the CIA for a more complete version. Greenwald shared the document with Leopold.

Dark Days Ahead For The White House (Ezekiel 17)

G.O.P. Senators’ Letter to Iran About Nuclear Deal Angers White House
White House Storm
By PETER BAKERMARCH 9, 2015

WASHINGTON — The fractious debate over a possible nuclear deal with Iran escalated on Monday as 47 Republican senators warned Iran about making an agreement with President Obama, and the White House accused them of undercutting foreign policy.

In a rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations, the Republicans signed an open letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” declaring that any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
The letter appeared aimed at unraveling a framework agreement even as negotiators grew close to reaching it. Mr. Obama, working with leaders of five other world powers, argues that the pact would be the best way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. But critics from both parties say that such a deal would be a dangerous charade that would leave Iran with the opportunity to eventually build weapons that could be used against Israel or other foes.

While the possible agreement has drawn bipartisan criticism, the letter, signed only by Republicans, underscored the increasingly party-line flavor of the clash. Just last week, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel the platform of a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the developing deal, and Senate Republicans briefly tried to advance legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit it to Congress, alienating Democratic allies.

The letter came as Secretary of State John Kerry’s office announced that he would return to Switzerland on Sunday in hopes of completing the framework agreement before an end-of-March deadline. Under the terms being discussed, Iran would pare back its nuclear program enough so that it would be unable to produce enough fuel for a bomb in less than a year if it tried to break out of the agreement. The pact would last at least 10 years; in exchange the world powers would lift sanctions.
Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”

A senior American official said the letter probably would not stop an agreement from being reached, but could make it harder to blame Iran if the talks fail. “The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the negotiations.

The White House and congressional Democrats expressed outrage, calling the letter an unprecedented violation of the tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge. Republicans said that by styling it as an “open letter,” it was akin to a statement, not an overt intervention in the talks.

“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “It’s an unusual coalition.”

Other Democrats were sharper. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, called it “just the latest in an ongoing strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.” Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada, the Democratic minority leader, said the “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”

The letter, drafted by Senator Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas, and signed by all but seven members of the Senate Republican majority, warned Iran that a deal with Mr. Obama might not stick. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” said the letter, whose existence was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

Mr. Cotton said he drafted the letter because Iran’s leaders might not understand America’s constitutional system. He also said the terms of the emerging deal were dangerous because they would not be permanent and would leave Iran with nuclear infrastructure. He noted that four Republican senators who may run for president signed his letter and added that he tried without success to get Democrats to sign.

“The only thing unprecedented is an American president negotiating a nuclear deal with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism without submitting it to Congress,” he said on CNN.
The letter revived an old debate about what role Congress should have in diplomacy.

Jim Wright, the Democratic House speaker during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was accused of interfering when he met with opposing leaders in Nicaragua’s contra war. Three House Democrats went to Iraq in 2002 before President George W. Bush’s invasion to try to head off war. And Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, went to Syria in 2007 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad against the wishes of the Bush administration, which was trying to isolate him.

An agreement with Iran would not require immediate congressional action because Mr. Obama has the power to lift sanctions he imposed under his executive authority and to suspend others imposed by Congress. But permanently lifting those imposed by Congress, as Iran has sought, would eventually require a vote.

Rather than wait, Republicans, joined by several Democrats, drafted legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit the agreement to Congress. But when Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, moved to advance that legislation for a vote, Democrats who support it balked at taking action before the talks with Iran concluded. Mr. McConnell backed off, but the bill may be revived if a deal is reached.

Among the Republicans who declined to sign Mr. Cotton’s letter was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who has been working with Democrats on Iran legislation. “We’ve got a bipartisan effort that’s underway that has a chance of being successful, and while I understand all kinds of people want to weigh in,” he said, he concluded that it would not “be helpful in that effort for me to be involved in it.”

Some Democrats, like Representative Brad Sherman of California, said the letter and other moves risked making it a party-line issue, in which case it would be impossible to muster a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto. “The number of Democrats not willing to follow the president’s lead is reduced when it becomes a personal or political issue,” he said.