US unveils new helicopter-like surveillance drone

US unveils new helicopter-like surveillance drone

The Press Trust of India – December 30, 2011

The US Army will deploy a newly-developed helicopter-like unmanned drone in Afghanistan with a wide-area surveillance sensor suite that could beam back clearer images of the surrounding terrain. The army said the new Boeing-built A160 Hummingbird promised American soldiers “an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground”.

Beginning in May or June of 2012, the Army will deploy three A160 Hummingbird Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing Unmanned Aerial Systems, or VTOL-UAS, to Afghanistan as part of a Quick Reaction Capability, said Lt. Col. Matthew Munster, product manager, UAS Modernisation.

“These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a way to harness lessons learned and funnel them into a programme of record,” Munster said in a statement.

Army VTOL UAS programme developers and engineers were finishing up some wiring work on the A160 aircraft and performing ground tests with the ARGUS sensor suite.

“The ARGUS sensor suite has never been flown on this platform before so we have to make sure that the integration is complete. We are finishing that up now and adding some different types of antennas. We begin flight testing of the UAS at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, early next year,” Munster said.

The VTOL aircraft will give forward-positioned Army units the ability to deploy a wide-area UAS Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance, or ISR, asset without needing access to a runway.

The CIA currently use Predator and Reaper drones to target militant hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The US is increasingly relying on drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries across the globe, The Washington Post had reported this week.

The Obama administration, in fact, is using a wide variety of these unmanned aerial vehicles to meet its national security interest and successfully strike back at terrorists hiding away from it, the report had said.

Source

Gaza rockets hit Israel after overnight air strikes

AFP – December 29, 2011

Palestinian militants fired two rockets at southern Israel on Thursday, after Israeli warplanes attacked “terror sites” inside the Gaza Strip, the army said.

The first, which landed in an open field on Thursday morning, was claimed by the Popular Resistance Committees in a statement sent to AFP.

A second fell during the afternoon, the military said, reporting no injuries or damage in either case.

Overnight, Israeli warplanes targeted “terror sites” in central and northern Gaza in retaliation after rockets were fired across the border on Wednesday.

“Israeli air force aircraft targeted a terror activity site in the central Gaza Strip, and a terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip,” a military statement said, indicating it was a response after five rockets landed in Israel, none of which caused any damage or injuries.

Palestinian security sources said the air strikes hit a training ground used by Islamic Jihad militants near central Gaza and another training ground northeast of Gaza which belonged to Hamas’s armed wing, causing no casualties.

An earlier series of Israeli strikes overnight Tuesday had killed a Palestinian and wounded about 20 others, as the military struck what it described as “global jihad” targets who were planning cross-border attacks on southern Israel from the Egyptian Sinai.

Late on Wednesday, a senior Israeli officer said the military was preparing for a possible large-scale military campaign in Gaza if the Palestinians did not halt their rocket attacks.

Continues in full at source…

Comment – December 30, 2011

As the correspondent who sent this report pointed out, the one feature that these recurrent rocket attacks from Gaza share is that they hardly ever cause casualties let alone damage.
At best they only seem to provoke an Israeli retaliatory strike. Or is that the intention?
For we know that Mossad operatives have been caught previously masquerading as Palestinian terrorists/freedom fighters. As illustrated in the photo on the right, where a supposed Palestinian fighter forgot to hide his Star of David.
Are undercover Israeli operatives similarly staging these rocket attacks from Gaza in order to justify another incursion into Palestinian territory?
Israeli Defence Force Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned as much earlier this week. Speaking on the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead Gantz said the IDF was preparing for a repeat of the campaign that resulted in the deaths of 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Are these rocket attacks from Gaza part of those preparations?
Are they being staged in order to justify another bloody incursion to kill hundreds more Palestinian civilians?

China, Japan to Back Direct Trade of Currencies

Toru Fojioka – Bloomberg December 26, 2011

Japan and China will promote direct trading of the yen and yuan without using dollars and will encourage the development of a market for companies involved in the exchanges, the Japanese government said.

Japan will also apply to buy Chinese bonds next year, allowing the investment of renminbi that leaves China during the transactions, the Japanese government said in a statement after a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing yesterday. Encouraging direct yen- yuan settlement should reduce currency risks and trading costs, the Japanese and Chinese governments said.

China is Japan’s biggest trading partner with 26.5 trillion yen ($340 billion) in two-way transactions last year, from 9.2 trillion yen a decade earlier. The pacts between the world’s second- and third-largest economies mirror attempts by fund managers to diversify as the two-year-old European debt crisis keeps global financial markets volatile.

“Given the huge size of the trade volume between Asia’s two biggest economies, this agreement is much more significant than any other pacts China has signed with other nations,” said Ren Xianfang, a Beijing-based economist with IHS Global Insight Ltd.

Currency Swap

China also announced a 70 billion yuan ($11 billion) currency swap agreement with Thailand last week as part of a plan outlined in October to promote the use of the yuan in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and establish free trade zones.

Central banks from Thailand to Nigeria plan to start buying yuan assets as slowing global growth has capped interest rates in the U.S. and Europe.

The move by China and Japan to strengthen market cooperation “benefits the ease of trade and investments between the two countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today in Beijing. “It strengthens the region’s ability to protect against risks and deal with challenges.”

The yuan traded in Hong Kong’s offshore market gained 0.5 percent offshore last week and touched 6.3324 per dollar, the strongest level since trading started in July 2010. Its discount to the exchange rate in Shanghai narrowed to 0.1 percent, from a record 1.9 percent on Sept. 23.

Yuan Gains

The yuan gained 0.05 percent in Shanghai to 6.3330 per dollar today and was little changed at 6.3450 in Hong Kong. It strengthened 4.3 percent this year, the best-performing Asian currency excluding the yen. The currency is allowed to trade 0.5 percent on either side of that rate. The yuan is a denomination of the renminbi.

Japan exported 10.8 trillion yen to China in the year through November, and imported 12 trillion yen, according to Ministry of Finance data. The deficit with China widened to 1.2 trillion yen, from 418 billion yen in January-to-November 2010. About 60 percent of the trade transactions are settled in dollars, according to Japan’s Finance Ministry.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Dec. 20 buying of Chinese bonds would help reveal more information about financial markets in China. Noda said in September 2010, when he was finance minister, that Japan should be able to invest in China given that its neighbor buys Japanese debt. Japan holds $1.3 trillion of foreign-currency reserves, the world’s second largest after China’s $3.2 trillion.

Chinese Debt

Investing in Chinese debt has become easier for central banks as issuance of yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong more than tripled to 112 billion yuan ($18 billion) this year and institutions were granted quotas to invest onshore. Japan will start to buy “a small amount” of China’s bonds, a Japanese government official said on condition of anonymity because of the ministry’s policy, without elaborating.

China sold the second-biggest net amount of Japanese debt on record in October as the yen headed for a postwar high against the dollar and benchmark yields approached their lowest levels in a year. It cut Japanese debt by 853 billion yen, Japan’s Ministry of Finance said on Dec. 8.

Separately, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, JGC Corp., Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd., the Export-Import Bank of China and other Chinese companies will establish a $154 million fund to invest in environment-related businesses such as recycling and energy, the Japanese government said.

Source

Courtesy Peter Myers

Stuxnet weapon has at least 4 cousins: researchers

Jim Finkle – Reuters December 30, 2011

The Stuxnet virus that last year damaged Iran’s nuclear program was likely one of at least five cyber weapons developed on a single platform whose roots trace back to 2007, according to new research from Russian computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Security experts widely believe that the United States and Israel were behind Stuxnet, though the two nations have officially declined to comment on the matter.

A Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday declined comment on Kaspersky’s research, which did not address who was behind Stuxnet.

Stuxnet has already been linked to another virus, the Duqu data-stealing trojan, but Kaspersky’s research suggests the cyber weapons program that targeted Iran may be far more sophisticated than previously known.

Kaspersky’s director of global research & analysis, Costin Raiu, told Reuters on Wednesday that his team has gathered evidence that shows the same platform that was used to build Stuxnet and Duqu was also used to create at least three other pieces of malware.

Raiu said the platform is comprised of a group of compatible software modules designed to fit together, each with different functions. Its developers can build new cyber weapons by simply adding and removing modules.

“It’s like a Lego set. You can assemble the components into anything: a robot or a house or a tank,” he said.

Kaspersky named the platform “Tilded” because many of the files in Duqu and Stuxnet have names beginning with the tilde symbol “~” and the letter “d.”

Researchers with Kaspersky have not found any new types of malware built on the Tilded platform, Raiu said, but they are fairly certain that they exist because shared components of Stuxnet and Duqu appear to be searching for their kin.

When a machine becomes infected with Duqu or Stuxnet, the shared components on the platform search for two unique registry keys on the PC linked to Duqu and Stuxnet that are then used to load the main piece of malware onto the computer, he said.

Kaspersky recently discovered new shared components that search for at least three other unique registry keys, which suggests that the developers of Stuxnet and Duqu also built at least three other pieces of malware using the same platform, he added.

Those modules handle tasks including delivering the malware to a PC, installing it, communicating with its operators, stealing data and replicating itself.

Makers of anti-virus software including Kaspersky, U.S. firm Symantec Corp and Japan’s Trend Micro Inc have already incorporated technology into their products to protect computers from getting infected with Stuxnet and Duqu.

Yet it would be relatively easy for the developers of those highly sophisticated viruses to create other weapons that can evade detection by those anti-virus programs by the modules in the Tilded platform, he said.

Kaspersky believes that Tilded traces back to at least 2007 because specific code installed by Duqu was compiled from a device running a Windows operating system on August 31, 2007.

(Reporting By Jim Finkle; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Source

Afghan soldier kills French troops

News Brief – December 29, 2011

In what is becoming a familiar story two French members of the coalition forces in Afghanistan have been shot dead by a soldier in the Afghan National Army.

A statement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the soldier turned his gun on the two Foreign Legionaires Thursday.

Sarkozy offered his condolences to their loved ones.

This year French forces have suffered their heaviest casualties in Afghanistan since the international operation began there in 2001.

The shooting is the latest in a series of attacks by members of the Afghan national forces against coalition partners that have raised concerns over Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army.

On December 26 a gunman wearing an Afghan Army uniform opened fire on Coatlition Forces at an outpost in Bala Boluk district, about 340 miles (700 kilometers) west of Kabul. Several foreign troops were reported wounded in the shooting.

Earlier in April an Afghan military pilot opened fire on NATO forces at a military compound at North Kabul International Airport. Eight NATO soldiers were killed in the shooting along with one foreign military contractor.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb killed Afghan 10 police officers and wounded another in a district of south-western Helmand province on Thursday. British troops had recently handed over control of the province to Afghan security forces.

The handover was the second phase in a transition that plans to see Afghan forces in control of the entire country by the end of 2014, when the US-led coalition is scheduled to leave.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

The explosion destroyed a police pickup truck as it drove through Zarghun Kalay village in Helmand’s Nad Ali district.

The Iowa Caucus and Iran

Christopher Bollyn – Bollyn.com December 29, 2011

I had always believed, and still believe, that oppressive forces draw much of their strength from their ability to wield their power in secret.
Julian Assange – The Unauthorized Autobiography

Israeli general Amos Yadlin traveled to Chicago in an effort to enlist [Lester] Crown’s help in convincing the administration to attack Iran.
Israel, Big Money and Obama, 20 August 2010

The Crown family supports candidates from both parties, depending on their strategic goal. Susan Crown, for example, who gave at least $12,300 to candidate Obama between 2003 and 2007 is now supporting the Republican Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House.
Chicago’s Elders of Zion and Obama’s War for Profit, October 2011

The Republican caucus in Iowa on January 3 is of great importance because it is the first poll to determine which candidate will challenge Barack Obama for the presidency.  A CNN/Time poll indicates that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are currently the front runners polling about 25 percent each.  Two days earlier Ron Paul was the clear front runner, several points ahead of Romney and Newt Gingrich, who has now fallen further behind.
One of the key issues in the GOP Iowa caucus is the position of the candidates regarding the Zionist war policy against Iran.  Ron Paul is opposed to waging war against Iran while Romney and most of the others are eager armchair warriors against the Islamic Republic of Iran.  With the new U.S. sanctions having brought Iranian threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, the issue is now of the utmost importance as the chances of war are greater than ever. 
Iran has been the subject of a Zionist war strategy for years in the same way that organized Jewry declared war on Germany in the early 1930s, long before the invasion of Poland in 1939.  The punitive sanctions against Iran are war by other methods and unless the United States changes its approach to Iran it will find itself in another major war in the Middle East, one with unforeseeable consequences.

Henry, Lester, and Susan Crown of Chicago. A family of Zionist war profiteers, the Crowns became rich on U.S. defense spending in World War II and have profited on every war since. Click to enlarge

The Crown family of Chicago is one of the key Zionist supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  As a major shareholder of General Dynamics, the Crown family profits from U.S. defense spending and war.  As a leading Zionist family, the Crowns support sanctions and the Israeli warmongering against Iran.  The Crowns have invested in Mitt Romney because he is willing to wage war to please his Zionist supporters.  To push the nation into war to serve a foreign state is treasonous.
Mitt Romney would probably win the caucus if the Republican Party of Iowa were to tally the caucus results using the dodgy Voxeo telephonic tally system used by the Iowa Democrats in 2004 and 2008.  But after having intensively queried the Republican Party of Iowa about how the results will be tallied it seems to me that they will be tallying the results themselves in Des Moines. 
Nicole Sizemore, assistant communications director for the GOP of Iowa, told Bollyn.com that there is no outside contractor involved in the tally and that it will be a “very transparent” poll with multiple observers.  Although Sizemore could not reveal the specifics about how the results would be communicated to headquarters, she confirmed that a complete breakdown of the 1,774 precinct results would be published within 14 days. 
This is good news because it suggests that the results of the January 3 Republican caucus are likely to be more representative, honest, and accurate than the Democratic caucus in 2008 that helped bring the dark horse candidate Barack Obama to power.  In 2004 another dark horse candidate, John Kerry, came from behind to run against George W. Bush.  In both cases, pro-war candidates from the back of the pack won the rigged caucus effectively removing the question of the illegal war policy from the debate.  Let’s hope Ron Paul wins Iowa in a truly honest and transparent caucus on January 3.  We certainly don’t need anymore illegal Zionist wars for profit.
Sources and Recommended Reading:

Bollyn, Christopher, “Chicago’s Elders of Zion and Obama’s War for Profit”, 14 October 2011
http://www.bollyn.com/occupy-dc

“Israel, Big Money and Obama – Mr. Crown and the President”, by Margaret Kimberley, CounterPunch.org, 20 August 2010
http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/08/20/israel-big-money-and-obama/

“No Success in Iraq – Unless You’re a War Profiteer”, by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe, Huffingtonpost.com, 15 December 2011
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-greenwald-and-derrick-crowe/no-success-in-iraq–unles_b_1151171.html 

Source

Ron Paul: Sanctions against Iran are ‘acts of war’

Paul West – Los Angeles Times December 29, 2011

Defending himself against charges of isolationism, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told voters in Iowa on Thursday that western sanctions against Iran are “acts of war” that are likely to lead to an actual war in the Middle East.

Paul, one of the leading contenders to win next week’s Iowa caucuses, said Iran would be justified in responding to the sanctions by blocking the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.  He compared the western sanctions to a hypothetical move by China to block the Gulf of Mexico, which Americans would consider an act of war.

He also said he would not respond militarily to keep the strait open—because he would not consider it an act of war against the U.S.  But if he were president, he would report to Congress on the issue, leaving it up to lawmakers to declare war if they wanted.  

“I think we’re looking for trouble because we put these horrendous sanctions on Iran,” Paul told a midday audience at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa.  He said the Iranians are “planning to be bombed” and understandably would like to have a nuclear weapon, even though there is “no evidence whatsoever” that they have “enriched” uranium.

Apparently alluding to Israel and its nuclear-weapons arsenal, Paul said that “if I were an Iranian, I’d like to have a nuclear weapon, too, because you gain respect from them.”

To approving applause from a crowd of about 125, the Texas congressman said that “we always seem to have to have a country to bash,” linking the current saber-rattling against Iran to previous hawkish rhetoric that led to conflicts in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

“If you want to quiet things down,” he said, referring to Iran, “don’t put sanctions on them” because it’s “just going to cause more trouble.”

He said an Iranian blockade would be the most likely response to tighter sanctions because Iran has “no weapons of mass destruction” and shutting down the strait is “the most” it could do.

“I think the solution” to current tensions with Iran “is to do a lot less a lot sooner and mind our own business and then we would not have this threat of another war,” he said to applause .

Source

Blitzgrieg der Wunderbar, Together we Are

Smoking Mirrors – December 29, 2011

Dog Poet Transmitting…….
May your noses always be cold and wet.
I want to talk about the weather today; the weather, real and manufactured, weathermen and Rosewood seeds by any other name getting you high. I want to wonder about the wonder and publicly wonder about some people we should wonder about, like the several fellows mentioned here. I’m no fan of Peter Schiff and don’t for a minute doubt anything this, no holds barred, reporter has to say. Peter Schiff’s whole vibe, tells me he wasn’t even separated at birth from arch neon-con fascistic, Chucky Schumer, who plays the character from “Child’s Play” in real life. The article tells the truth about life in America for anyone who isn’t ‘chosen’.
I wonder about Ron Paul and… please don’t jump on me for wondering but… I’ve been wondering ever since he raised all that money last time and broke a lot of hearts, by dropping out when he should have at least stayed the course and used all that hard earned people’s money to make his platform known to a wider audience at the time. I wonder at things he says that aren’t necessary to say at the moment, which causes things like this to get said. Some of these things do not make points relevant to general public concern and it is either a case of being unaware of what that is or of having people in the background controlling policy and statements. I’m getting that uncomfortable ‘stalking horse’ vibe, like I got with Mr. Bought and Sold, John Kerry.
Watching Mossad Crime Boss, Rahm Emanuel light a 900 (well, maybe it was a little smaller) foot menorah across the street from The White House where no Christian crosses can be displayed, is nothing more than a “Fuck you gentile America, we own your ass”. Tell me how it is not?
The whole world is sitting on a powder keg, beside which stand grinning, Satanic Zionists, who have concocted a brutally transparent lie about Iran and nuclear weapons. This is the country that finagled missiles for their own defense from our catamite. BD, S&M sex slave country and then sold them, or tried to, to the Chinese. This is the country that did even worse, with their dual national spy, Jonathan Pollard. These are the kinds of things you hear from the people he was spying for, as reasons for him to be released. A part of the argument for letting him out is that nothing really bad happened (bullshit) from what he did. You know, like when someone gets on an airplane with a bomb in their shoes, or their underwear but nothing happens because the same people who want Pollard released and were behind the shoe bomb and underwear bomb didn’t want anything to happen, except to give cause for present day TSA (Tits, Slits and Asses). I carry a bomb in my pants everywhere I go, except I don’t wear underwear; I prefer to use toilet paper instead. When I go to the sauna or something similar, people are always pointing and saying, “That’s the bomb”, so I suppose I’ll be in trouble too, if they ever check.
The problems with the economy goes directly to the bankers who are also, to a very high percentage, represented by these same people at the highest and most pervasive levels. That’s inarguable, though it won’t stop people trying. Meanwhile, all the lies concerning all of the things mentioned, are also created and controlled by these same people. Consider the enormity and implications of all of this. It is staggering! We know it is true but often do not connect all the permutations and associations that relate to the entirety of this global phenomenon.
I suppose since it is time to start singing that James Taylor song about down south, the reader might wonder why I got on this particular jag this morning. It’s just what came up and started talking. My preference was to write something deep and meaningful (grin), that ‘might’ bring a rising resonance into the central chakra, instead, I’m at the Proctology department over at Visible General. I wouldn’t mind being General Visible, if The Supreme Personality were in the chariot, though I prefer Starfleet Commander, usually; seemed like the time for a digression and maybe break up the flow just for a moment. Every now and then you have to step off the path and climb that small hill, so you can sit there for a moment and watch the path go by. I’m reminded of the Steven Crane poem, The Wayfarer. This is why Lord Shiva sits alone and is not welcome at weddings and most celebrations. That’s the cost of truth. Is it worth it, you ask? That’s a personal consideration that everyone makes for themselves and, trust me, one way or another, you have to make that decision and… one day after another, we all do.
Israel was created for the sole purpose of the things it is employed at. I’m pretty sure the cosmos has a plan in respect of that, or so I’ve been told. We need to be aware of what is taking place around us, as well as making it a visceral reality in our minds that appearances are a lie, or more properly, a blind and then we have to consider what we are capable of, in relation to anything and let that be a guide to what we engage in for maximum efficiency and minimum frustration. Remember The Serenity prayer and Footprints in the Sand, which has a bizarre facet, as you will see when you visit the link.
As most of us are aware, war looms in March, unless they want to alter the game plan, for one reason or another. Some of you may be unaware of a key feature concerning Israel and the US, in relation to the war making macrame that has knotted together the coalition of the willing and the duped, by way of deception. It’s hot and heavy breathing, while seeking Armageddon, beneath the dashboard light; “What’s it gonna be boy”? Why do I feel so much optimism? This rattles around in my head on a regular basis. Why do I feel like everyone on the planet, either has one of those things on their head from that film “The Frighteners” or some other codeword or sign? I feel like two men standing in a field, being schizophrenic …and glad that I am actually only one of them.
Yeah, a lot of people are selling ‘wolf tickets’. I used to hear all about them in prison and we all run into them here and there; at a poker table it’s called something else and some of us get by, by doing that as a routine. Sooner or later you get called on it. I want to point out that Iran possesses certain armaments and other things that have not been reported on and that is what makes the situation so dicey and why they are even still around.
The purpose of demonstration, has two main components, in the movie now playing and it is critical, personally, to each of us, which of these applies to us. On the one hand, it is just that’ a series of events devised to show you what happens, when certain things happen. On the other hand, it is about awakening qualities of being that can only emerge under certain conditions; well, you can get them other ways by simply seeking and practicing them but that is usually the province of singular souls. Most of the time we are put into situations that force them to appear. It’s generally preferable to be working at acquisition beforehand.
The lack of these qualities is why the majority of bloggers dance around the truth. Sometimes, that is because of the profit motive and sometimes it is out of fear, but if the majority of us were to start calling it out on a regular basis, it would be much more effective than the Occupy movement and impossible to contain or control. We need to get our 60’s outfits on and carry on the timeless tradition of kindred souls, in alliance for the greater good. If we shake the internet, the world will vibrate like a tuning fork. In a certain way, the internet is like the ether upon which the elements operate. Please make this ideal go viral my friends. Please declare and dissertate upon what is common knowledge for all of us. Follow the courageous lead of Mike Stathis. Let us raise the level, the intensity and the courage of the discourse. Call it out folks, if you can’t or won’t, please note the reasons already given. United we stand, divided we fall; strength in numbers, unity of purpose, blitzkrieg der wunderbar! If we raise our voices and state what is, changes in tactics will have to be made. They are getting away with what they are getting away with, precisely because we do so little collectively with what we have. We are the power. We are the spokespeople for the 99%. Let theme have their megaphones. We will be the bullhorns. Gore the ox with paradox, gliding on the lake. Honk! Honk! Reprobate!
Are the things I stated not true? They are true. They cannot be denied and far more is also true. Look what happened to Russia. Do you want that to be you? Truth does not need argument or alibi. Truth need only be proclaimed. Use humor. Use satire. Use what you have. Is this in poor taste? Is it in poor taste compared to using Palestinians for target practice? Is it in poor taste, compared to emptying a clip into a ten year old girl, ‘confirming the kill’ and then walking away free? Is it in poor taste compared to Rachel Corrie? Is it in poor taste in comparison to the flotilla action? Is it in poor taste, compared to thousands of other examples of poor taste and psychopathic mendacity? Is it in poor taste compared to the millions dead and displaced in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere? Is it? Is it? They were behind all of this, as they are now behind the push for World War 3; these invented people who seek to replace the real people that they call invented.
How does this not come around to you sooner or later? Think about it. Think hard. It is on your doorstep.

His Rachel Corrie Moment (In Memory of Asma al-Mughayr).

the cross-hairs fix
across the rooftops

wind from the south-
….five knots

and leading
across the space where birds
have flown

but now
in the cold Ashka-Nazi eye

the young girls form
moves in laughing dance

arms gathering the laundry
she dreams
and surely she must hope
of a world and a life beyond today

as finger tightens
upon trigger…

when it came
the explosion was

of such a force that…

he came too

like Romeo’s ghost upon
the imagination’s palanquin of night

the bearers of the darkness
they toiled
underneath the thrust

of bullet and finger touching
the silenced heart

and
blood like a fountain
sprayed upon the sheets…

….some secret code
that she read as
she fell dying to the roof

this…

his Rachel Corrie moment come
round at last.

End Transmission.

I’ll try to get a radio show together for this weekend.

Source

Gaza: IDF Chief Benny Gantz Warns Of Major Military Offensive

Paul Vale – Huffington Post UK December 29, 2011

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is preparing to launch another major military offensive against Gaza, according to a senior military commander.

Speaking on Army Radio, Benny Gantz, the IDF’s chief of staff, said that military action would come “sooner or later”. It was Gantz’s first major interview since he assumed the post in February.

Tuesday’s announcement was made on the three-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, which marked the start of the 2008/09 Gaza War.

The biggest military campaign of recent years in the region, the conflict resulted in the death of 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

According to Gantz, that operation, which lasted three-weeks, “achieved deterrence”, however the officer added that there was “no escape” from conducting another “serious operation”.

“I believe that the State of Israel cannot continue to live under the active threat of Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Speaking to Haaretz, the head of the IDF’s southern Brigade, said: “We are preparing and in fact are ready for another campaign, which will be varied and different, to renew our deterrence, if we are called on to restore full quiet to the communities.

Shortly after Gantz’s broadcast, the IDF launched two airstrikes on Gaza. The Guardian reported that one person had been killed and 10 injured. Later, and IDF spokesperson said the strikes had targeted “terrorist squads”

On Thursday, the IDF official Twitter feed reported that four rockets had been fired overnight from Gaza into Israel.

According to Haaretz, the rockets did not explode and there were no reported injuries or damage.

Hamas declared a ceasefire after the 2009 war, however independent military groups within Gaza occasionally take unilateral action, firing rockets into Israel.

Hamas has tried to distance itself from the attacks, however the Israeli government has said it holds Hamas – as the government – responsible for all military strikes emanating from Gaza.

Source

Iranian Navy no match for US battle group – Russian military official

Russia Today – December 29, 2011

According to a high-ranking Russian naval official, the combat potential of a US naval group that has entered the Strait of Hormuz is more powerful than the Iranian Navy and coastal forces in the region.

“The Iranian Navy’s combat resources are incomparable with the potential of the US aircraft carrier group that has entered the Strait of Hormuz and are incapable of opposing it. No, certainly no,” Deputy Navy Commander Adm. Ivan Kapitanets told Interfax on Thursday.

The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and escort ships have entered the area of an Iranian naval exercise east of the Strait of Hormuz.

Kapitanets said the US naval force would “smash” the Iranian coastal installations.

“The Iranian Navy is coastal and can protect the country’s interests in the coastal waters. As for the Americans, they have full-scale oceanic naval forces,” the Russian naval commander said. “Therefore, there can be no comparison here. An aircraft carrier with its deck fighters and escort ships can smash Iranian coastal installations and surface ships.”

The Iranian naval commander disagrees.

Seyyed Mahmoud Musavi, the Iranian Navy’s deputy commander for operations, said that the Iranian Navy was ready to confront foreign naval groups that could enter the area of its military exercises, where it is holding maneuvers.

Despite the tense situation and militant rhetoric on both sides, Kapitanets believes both sides will show restraint.

“The US’s actions are certainly provocative, but the matter is unlikely to go as far as direct military confrontation,” he said. “Certainly, the situation in the region is very complicated, but it is unlikely to grow into military actions.”

The Iranians say the exercises are within the norms of international law and should be respected.

“We are ready to confront the violators who disregard the security perimeters set for the drills in line with international law,” Musavi said.

Robert Bridge, RT

Source

Iran Has Shot Video of US Aircraft Carrier

Nasser Karimi – Associated Press December 29, 2011

An Iranian surveillance plane has shot video and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier during Iran’s ongoing navy drill near a strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The report did not provide details and it was unclear what information the Iranian military could gleam from such footage. But the announcement is an indication Iran is seeking to cast its navy as having a powerful role in the region’s waters.

IRNA quoted Iran’s navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying the action shows that Iran has “control over the moves by foreign forces” in the area where Tehran is holding a 10-day military exercise.

“An Iranian vessel and surveillance plane have tracked, filmed and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier as it was entering the Gulf of Oman from the Persian Gulf,” Sayyari said.

He added that the “foreign fleet will be warned by Iranian forces if it enters the area of the drill.”

State TV showed what appeared to be the reported video, but it was not possible to make out the details of the carrier because the footage was filmed from far away.

The Iranian exercise is taking place in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz — the passageway for one-sixth of the world’s oil supply.

Beyond it lie vast bodies of water, including the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet is also active in the area, as are warships of several other countries that patrol for pirates there.

Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Fleet, said the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay headed out from the Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, after a visit to Dubai’s Jebel Ali port.

She described the passage through the strait as “a pre-planned, routine transit” for the carrier, which is providing air support from the north Arabian Sea to troops in Afghanistan.

Rebarich did not directly address Iranian claims of possessing the reported footage but said the 5th Fleet’s “interaction with the regular Iranian Navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, well known, routine and professional.”

Thursday’s report follows U.S. warnings over Iranian threats to choke off traffic through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington imposes sanctions targeting Iran’s crude exports. On Wednesday, Rebarich said the Navy was “always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”

Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard rejected the warning.

“The U.S. is not in a position” to affect Iran’s decisions, Salami told the semi-official Fars news agency Thursday. “Iran does not ask permission to implement its own defensive strategies.”

Associated Press Writer Adam Schreck contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Source

An accelerating covert war with Iran: Could it spiral into military action?

Howard LaFranchi – Christian Science Monitor December 28, 2011

When a sophisticated American spy drone went missing a month ago and fell into the Iranian military‘s hands, what had been whispered speculation at the end of the Bush administration became an all-but-officially acknowledged conclusion: The United States, along with a few key allies, is involved in an accelerating covert war with Iran.

It’s an example of what some are calling “21st-century warfare,” given the deployment of cyberworms instead of soldiers and mysterious explosions at key military installations instead of aerial bombardment.

The overarching goal is to slow, if not reverse, Iran’s apparent progress toward developing a nuclear bomb – something international diplomacy and a series of economic sanctions have not been able to accomplish. The measures also appear designed to put off the need for a military attack to stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.

The US, Israel, and Britain are thought to be involved in this unacknowledged war. While many actions go unclaimed, the intensification is occurring as the Obama administration signals a hardening stance toward Tehran.

An on again, off again war for 30 years

“We’ve been intermittently fighting a cold war with Iran for three decades, and the covert aspect of it has increased substantially in the last few years,” says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “Both President Bush and President Obama seemed to calculate that covert means can be effective in delaying Iran’s nuclear progress, and at a fraction of the political and economic costs of a military attack.”

Yet as incidents in an intensifying cold war multiply, with Iran appearing to ratchet up its response, more experts and former intelligence officers who specialize in Iran are cautioning that a spiraling tit-for-tat covert war risks becoming a hot conflict.

“I’m skeptical about any meaningful impact these kinds of actions have, except perhaps the significant effect of making the people involved more hard-line and determined than they were before,” says Matthew Bunn, a nuclear proliferation expert at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in Cambridge, Mass. “It’s hard to see how this kind of covert activity is really going to change anything, except for the worse.”

Add to the mix the rising political temperature in the US, with Republican presidential candidates trying to outdo one another on how much tougher they would be on Iran than Mr. Obama. Some Iran analysts warn of increased opportunities for “miscalculations” that could result in a potentially costly showdown.

“The kinds of covert actions we’re seeing now are all double-edged swords,” says Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the At­lantic Council’s South Asia Center in Wash­ington, “because if something goes wrong you could be in an overt war situation.”

With the administration under political pressure and sounding increasingly hawkish about Iran, she adds, “The trick will now be getting to November without a war.”

Tensions with Iran heightened this week, although not because of covert activity. Rather, the US is close to enacting sanctions that would target Iran’s oil revenue – and Iran has responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a sixth of the world’s oil flows. However, the US has a plan to keep the strait open, according to a New York Times report.

In recent months, tensions have also heightened with a string of mysterious and unclaimed activities in Iran. The recent drone incident was the latest of those activities.

Other incidents have included the use of computer worms to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, including the Stuxnet virus that in 2010 was thought to have destroyed more than a thousand of Iran’s uranium-enriching centrifuges by causing them to spin out of control. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, and in November explosions ripped through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps‘ ballistic missile base near Tehran. Seventeen people were killed, including one of the IRGC’s top officers in the missile development program.

In October, the Obama administration accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, an alleged plot that some Iran analysts see as an Iranian effort to hit back. The storming of Britain’s Embassy in Tehran in late November and a December explosion outside Britain’s Embassy in Bahrain may be other signals of Iran’s intention to respond to covert fire.

Yet if the covert activity is designed to slow Iran’s nuclear progress, many doubt it will work. As damaging as Stuxnet may have been, it did not curtail Iran’s enrichment activity permanently, experts say. And Iran is thought to have many more nuclear scientists and missile designers than Western intelligence services could ever eliminate.

“These programs involve dozens and hundreds of people, so taking out five or 10 is not going to do that much,” says Mr. Bunn of Harvard. “If some clandestine force had taken out Gen. [Leslie] Groves in the Manhattan Project, would they have found some other hard-charging officer to lead the project and deliver the bomb? Probably.”

On the other hand, covert action like assassinations can slow a regime’s progress toward its aims, Bunn says – for example, by sowing doubt about who within a program may be working for “the other side.”

Does Iran seek confrontation with West?

Some point to Israel’s bombing of Iraq‘s Osirak reactor in 1981 as evidence that covert activity does not necessarily provide a means of avoiding military action – and may even make it more likely. Iraqi nuclear scientists had been targeted by unknown assailants (assumed to be Israeli operatives), but that did not prevent the airstrike. Research in the years since the attack has largely concluded that while the strike destroyed Osirak, it also prompted Saddam Hussein to push his weapons programs farther underground.

Iran might even welcome a military confrontation with the West – especially one that strikes its nuclear installations, a source of much national pride. “There is a legitimate concern that Iran may seek to provoke a military conflagration,” says Mr. Sadjadpour at the Carnegie Endowment, “in order to try and mend its internal political fissures, both between political elites and between the society and the regime.”

But even some Israeli military experts say that bombing Iran’s nuclear installations would at best only put off its race for the bomb – and might harden its determination to build a weapon it claims it isn’t developing.

As Sadjadpour says, “If Iran continues to put all of its political will and vast economic resources behind its nuclear weapons capability, or a nuclear weapon itself, we can at best delay them.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

Source

U.S. warns Iran against closing Hormuz oil route

USA Today – December 28, 2011

The U.S. warned Iran Wednesday that it will not tolerate any disruption of naval traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran’s navy chief said the Islamic Republic is capable of closing the vital oil route if the West imposes new sanctions targeting Tehran’s oil exports.

Iran’s Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told state-run Press TV that closing the strait, which is the only sea outlet for the crucial oil fields in and around the Persian Gulf, “is very easy” for his country’s naval forces.

It was the second such warning by Iran in two days, reflecting Tehran’s concern that the West is about to impose new sanctions that could hit the country’s biggest source of revenue, its oil sector. On Tuesday, Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened to close the strait if the West imposes such sanctions.

In response, the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet’s spokeswoman warned that any disruption at the strait “will not be tolerated.”

The spokeswoman, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, said the U.S. Navy is “always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”

With concern growing over a possible drop-off in Iranian oil supplies if sanctions are imposed, a senior Saudi oil official said Gulf Arab nations are ready to offset any loss of Iranian crude.

That reassurance led to a drop in world oil prices. In New York, benchmark crude fell 77 cents to $100.57 a barrel in morning trading. Brent crude fell 82 cents to $108.45 a barrel in London.

Western nations are growing increasingly impatient with Iran over its nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies have accused Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its program is geared toward generating electricity and producing medical radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.

The U.S. Congress has passed a bill banning dealings with the Iran Central Bank, and President Obama has said he will sign it despite his misgivings. Critics warn it could impose hardships on U.S. allies and drive up oil prices.

The bill could impose penalties on foreign firms that do business with Iran’s central bank. European and Asian nations import Iranian oil and use its central bank for the transactions.

Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, with an output of about 4 million barrels of oil a day. It relies on oil exports for about 80 percent of its public revenues.

Iran has adopted an aggressive military posture in recent months in response to increasing threats from the U.S. and Israel that they may take military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

The navy is in the midst of a 10-day drill in international waters near the strategic oil route. The exercises began Saturday and involve submarines, missile drills, torpedoes and drones. The war games cover a 1,250-mile (2,000-kilometer) stretch of sea off the Strait of Hormuz, northern parts of the Indian Ocean and into the Gulf of Aden near the entrance to the Red Sea as a show of strength and could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels in the area.

Iranian media are describing how Iran could move to close the strait, saying the country would use a combination of warships, submarines, speed boats, anti-ship cruise missiles, torpedoes, surface-to-sea missiles and drones to stop ships from sailing through the narrow waterway.

Iran’s navy claims it has sonar-evading submarines designed for shallow waters of the Persian Gulf, enabling it to hit passing enemy vessels.

A closure of the strait could temporarily cut off some oil supplies and force shippers to take longer, more expensive routes that would drive oil prices higher. It also potentially opens the door for a military confrontation that would further rattle global oil markets.

Iran claimed a victory this month when it captured an American surveillance drone almost intact. It went public with its possession of the RQ-170 Sentinel to trumpet the downing as a feat of Iran’s military in a complicated technological and intelligence battle with the U.S.

American officials have said that U.S. intelligence assessments indicate the drone malfunctioned.

Source

The Obama Nation: Even More Debt And Even More Store Closings

The Economic Collapse – December 28, 2011

Well, it is time to raise the debt ceiling again.  Right now we are about to hit the current limit of $15.194 trillion and the Obama administration is going to ask that it be raised by another 1.2 trillion dollars.  Unfortunately, Congress has already promised not to stand in the way, and so soon the debt limit will be raised to a staggering $16.394 trillion.  Considering how much debt we have already placed on the backs of future generations, what is another 1.2 trillion dollars?  After all, if we are going to sell our children and our grandchildren into debt slavery, we might as well go all the way, right?  Such is the thinking in “the Obama Nation”.  During “the Obama Nation”, the federal government has already accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.  Of course the Bush administration was nearly as bad at piling up government debt.  Between Bush and Obama (with a big helping hand from the Federal Reserve), they have done a pretty good job of wiping out the financial future of the United States.  If there are future generations of Americans, they will look back and curse those that did this to them.  It is absolutely immoral to steal trillions of dollars from future generations.  Unfortunately, there are very, very few members of Congress that are even objecting to this madness.

Today, more debt just seems to be the answer to everything.  The truth is that debt is not just a government problem.  We are a nation that is addicted to debt.

As of October, total consumer credit in the United States had increased for 12 of the past 13 months.  We simply have not learned the lessons of the past and we are making the same mistakes all over again.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and this false prosperity that we are enjoying is simply not sustainable.

But even in the midst of this false prosperity we are seeing a huge number of store closings.

For example, it was just announced that Sears has decided to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores.

Once upon a time, Sears was the dominant force in the retail industry, but those days are long gone.  Sears stock has declined more than 45 percent so far this year, and many are wondering how long the company is going to be able to survive.

And there have been other high profile store closings announced during this holiday season as well.  A while back it was announced that all Syms stores and all Filene’s Basement stores will be closing.

Will we all eventually be relegated to shopping only at Wal-Mart?

In the middle of this “economic recovery” that Obama keeps talking about a staggering number of retail stores are closing up shop.  The following is a list of store closings in 2011 that I recently found.  The first number represents the total number of stores being closed for each chain….

405 Blockbuster

633 Borders

200 GameStop

189 Gap

160 f.y.e.

117 Anchor Blue

117 Foot Locker

100 Talbot’s

71 A.J. Wright

69 Metropark

63 Friendly’s

60 Rite Aid

52 Destination Maternity

50 Abercrombie & Fitch

50 Hot Topic

45 Big Lots

45 Family Dollar

43 Select Comfort

43 Sonic Drive-In

35 Denny’s

32 Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Inc. (SuperFresh, Pathmark Super Market)

30 Ultimate Electronics

28 Dominos

25 Superfresh (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company)

20 Lowe’s

Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse next year.  One consulting firm is projecting that there will be more than 5,000 store closings in 2012.

The United States is piling up unprecedented amounts of new debt at a time when our economy is dying and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing.

All over America right now, poverty is absolutely exploding.  Millions of people that never dreamed that they would have to reach out for help now find that they have no other options.  The following comes from a recent article in the Fiscal Times….

For years, the food pantry in Crystal Lake, Ill., a bedroom community 50 miles west of Chicago, has catered to the suburban areas’ poor, homeless and unemployed. But Cate Williams, the head of the pantry, has noticed a striking change in the makeup of the needy in the past year or two. Some families that once pulled down six-figure incomes and drove flashy cars are now turning to the pantry for help. A few of them donated food and money to the pantry before their luck soured, according to Williams.

“People will shyly say to me, ‘You know, I used to give money and food to you guys. Now I need your help,’” Williams told The Fiscal Times last week. “Most of the folks we see now are people who never took a handout before. They were comfortable, able to feed themselves, to keep gas in the car, and keep a nice roof over their head.”

But not everyone will ask for help nicely.  As the economic numbers continue to get worse, desperate Americans will lash out in wild and unpredictable ways.

The following is from a local NBC station down in Texas.  In the days to come, this type of report will become quite common….

A 19-year-old Houston-area man says he was beaten and a friend was slashed in the face as a group of men robbed him of his new pair of expensive Air Jordan shoes.

We will also see more mass protests and more mass riots as the months and years roll along.  This country is going to become increasingly unstable.

Check out this video of a massive brawl that erupted inside Mall of America the other day.  Soon scenes such as this will become so common that they will not even be newsworthy anymore.

In response, many Americans will get sick and tired of waiting for the police to protect them and will take matters into their own hands.

In fact, we are already starting to see this.  For example, just the other day a store clerk down in North Carolina knocked a would-be robber out cold and then forced him to clean up his own blood after he woke up.

There are millions of Americans out there that are not going to put up with a whole lot of nonsense.  When desperate criminals try to rob from their homes or businesses it might not end well for the criminals.

Of course it would be much nicer if the federal government would do some things to actually fix the economy and avoid some the problems that are looming on the horizon.

Ah, but that would interrupt their vacations.  Right now, the U.S. House of Representatives is on vacation until mid-January.

If you can believe it, Congress does not work for most of the year.  Normally they are scheduled to be in session for about a third of all the days on the calendar.

And Obama is certainly taking it easy.  He is enjoying yet another vacation.  As I wrote about yesterday, it has been estimated that the Obama Hawaiian vacation this year will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.

Yes, it is tough being the head of the Obama Nation.

Sadly, a lot of Americans still have faith in these jokers.

According to a Gallup poll that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by far and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by far.  If you can believe it, Barack Obama has held the top spot for men for four years in a row, and Hillary Clinton has held the top spot for women for ten years in a row.

When are we going to learn?

Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Well, the American people keep sending corrupt politicians such as Bush and Obama to the White House and they keep expecting things to get better.

It just isn’t going to happen.

If we stay on the current path that we are on, there will be a lot more store closings, the economy will continue to crumble and government debt will continue to skyrocket.

Minor changes are not going to cut it.  We need massive changes on a fundamental level.

Unfortunately, neither political party is offering massive changes.  The Republicans and the Democrats just keep offering the same tired solutions and they keep promising that they can “fix things” if we will just send more of them to Washington.

Hopefully the American people will wake up and see through these lies because time is running out.

Source

‘US, Israel discuss ‘triggers’ for Iran attack’

Rebecca Anna Stoil – Jerusalem Post January 29, 2011

Media reports on Wednesday suggested the Obama administration had developed red lines for determining when to strike militarily against Iran.

American news site The Daily Beast reported that in recent weeks, Washington had taken steps to reassure Israel “that the administration had its own ‘red lines’ that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally.

According to the website, remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this month that were perceived as tough on Israel triggered pressure on the Obama administration to clarify its stance on such military action.

The article also cited multiple US military sources claiming that “analysts attached to the Office of the Secretary of Defense are often revising estimates trying to predict what events in Iran would trigger Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to authorize a military attack on the country’s nuclear infrastructure.”

Most important, the report claimed, the upswing in high-level talks between Washington and Jerusalem in the past month has “prompted new conversations between the United States and Israel over what the triggers… would be to justify a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Complicating the dialogue, the report said, is that the countries fundamentally disagree on whether Iran is currently engaging in weaponization, or whether such production has remained frozen since 2003.

In response to inquiries by The Jerusalem Post, Pentagon spokesman George Little reiterated that “Secretary Panetta believes that diplomatic and economic pressure must be brought to bear against Iran to make it clear that the international community will not accept an Iran that possesses a nuclear weapon.”

Little also reiterated the administration’s position that “all options are on the table,” but added that “the military option remains a last resort.”

One of America’s “red-lines” became clearer on Wednesday, when the US responded sternly to Iranian threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow opening of the Persian Gulf through which much of the world’s oil supplies pass.

The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet circulated an e-mail saying, “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”

Source

Preparing to Attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons: “No Option can be taken off the Table.”

by Michel Chossudovsky – December 26, 2011

“When a US sponsored nuclear war becomes an “instrument of peace”, condoned and accepted by the World’s institutions and the highest authority, including the United Nations, there is no turning back: human society has indelibly been precipitated headlong onto the path of self-destruction.” (Towards a World War III Scenario, Global Research, May 2011)

The World is at a Dangerous Crossroads. America’s is on a War Path.
World War III is no longer an abstract concept
The US and its allies are preparing to launch a nuclear war directed against Iran with devastating consequences.
This military adventure in the real sense of the word threatens the future of humanity.
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.
The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.
War pretexts and “justifications” abound.  Iran is heralded as a threat to Israel and the World. 
The war on Iran has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than eight years. In recent developments, a renewed set of threats and accusations directed against Tehran have been launched.
A “war of stealth” has already commenced. Mossad intelligence operatives are on the ground. Covert paramilitary formations are being launched inside Iran, CIA drones are being deployed.
Meanwhile, Washington. London, Brussels and Tel Aviv have launched specific destabilizing initiatives to choke Iran diplomatically, financially and economically”.
A stepped up economic sanctions regime has been formulated by the US Congress:
“a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington in favor of strangling the Iranian economy.”  The latter consists in implementing “an amendment to the 2012 defence authorisation bill, designed to “collapse the Iranian economy”… by making it virtually impossible for Tehran to sell its oil.” (Tom Burghardt, Target Iran: Washington’s Countdown to War, Global Research, December 2011).
This new wave of diplomatic hype coupled with the threat of economic sanctions has also contributed to triggering an aura of uncertainty in the market for crude oil, with potentially devastating consequences on the global economy.
Meanwhile, the corporate media has embarked on a renewed propaganda stint pertaining to Iran’s alleged nuclear program, pointing  to “activities related to possible weaponization.”
In recent developments, barely acknowledged by the US media, President Barack Obama met privately (December 16), behind closed doors with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The meeting was held in the outskirts of Washington DC at the Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor, Maryland under the auspices of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Barack meets Barak, Barack Obama and Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak December 16, 2011 at the URJ Biennal Plenary, Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor (White House photo)

The importance of this timely private meeting under URJ auspices cannot be underestimated. Reports suggest that the Barack O / E. Barak meeting centered largely on the issue of a US-Israeli attack on Iran.
Writing in Haaretz, Israeli political analyst Amir Oren described the Barack-Barak meeting as a potential “Green Light” to Israel to launch an all out war on Iran:
“Is it possible that the half-hour meeting last Friday at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, between U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will be remembered in Israel’s history as the moment at which Barack O. gave the green light to E. Barak — for better or for worse — to attack Iran?… Can this be seen as a sort of flashback to the talk between Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Washington in May 1982, that gave rise to the (mistaken) Israeli impression that there was an understanding with the United States over going to war in Lebanon… ” No sign U.S. has given Israel green light to strike Iran – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
Following this private meeting, Obama addressed the Biennial Plenary of the Union for Reform Judaism, reassuring his audience that “cooperation between our militaries [and intelligence] has never been stronger.” 
Obama underscored that Iran is a “threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world … And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear: We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons….And that’s why … we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced…. And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.” (Transcript of President Obama Union for Reform Judaism Speech Video Dec. 16. 2011: Address at URJ Biennial, 71st General Assembly , emphasis added).

Towards a “Coordinated” US-Israeli Attack on Iran?

In recent weeks, the US media tabloids have been literally plastered  with “no options off the table” statements by Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Panetta intimated, however, “that Israel should not consider unilateral action against Iran” while stressing “that any military operation against Iran by Israel must be coordinated with the United States and have its backing”. (Panetta’s December 2 statement at the Saban Center quoted in U.S. Defense Secretary: Iran could get nuclear bomb within a year – Haaretz, December 11, 2011, emphasis added)

The Threat of Nuclear War against Iran

The “no options off the table” statement intimates that the US not only envisages an attack on Iran but that this attack could include the use of tactical bunker buster  nuclear weapons with an explosive capacity between one third and six times a Hiroshima bomb. In a cruel irony, these “humanitarian” “peace-making” nuclear bombs “Made in America” – which according to “scientific opinion” on contract to the Pentagon are “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”— are contemplated to be used against Iran in retaliation for its nonexistent nuclear weapons program.
While Iran has no nuclear weapons, what is rarely acknowledged is that five (officially) “non-nuclear States” including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey have US made tactical nuclear weapons deployed under national command in their respective military bases. This nuclear arsenal is slated to be used against Iran.   
The stockpiling and deployment of tactical B61 in these five “non-nuclear states” are intended for targets in the Middle East. In accordance with  “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs would be launched  “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” (quoted in National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005, emphasis added) 
While these “undeclared nuclear states” casually accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, without documentary evidence, they themselves have capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads, which are targeted at Iran, Syria and Russia. (See  Michel Chossudovsky, Europe’s Five “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States” , Global Research, February 12, 2010)

Israel’s Nukes are Pointed at Iran. Joint US-Israel “Coordination” of Nuclear Weapons Deployment

Israel rather than Iran is a threat to global security.
Israel possesses 100-200 strategic nuclear warheads, which are fully deployed against Iran.
Already in 2003, Washington and Tel Aviv confirmed that they were collaborating in “the deployment of US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Israel’s fleet of Dolphin-class submarines.” (The Observer, 12 October 2003).
According to Russian general Leonid Ivashov: 

The Israeli military and political circles had been making statements on the possibility of nuclear and missile strikes on Iran openly since October, 2006, when the idea was immediately supported by G. Bush. Currently [2007] it is touted in the form of a “necessity” of nuclear strikes. The public is taught to believe that there is nothing monstrous about such a possibility and that, on the contrary, a nuclear strike is quite feasible. Allegedly, there is no other way to “stop” Iran. (General Leonid Ivashov, Iran Must Get Ready to Repel a Nuclear Attack, Global Research, January 2007 emphasis added)

It is worth noting that at the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”. 
In the above context, political analyst and historian Michael Carmichael has pointed to the integration and coordination of military decision-making between the US and Israel pertaining to the deployment of nuclear weapons: 
“Rather than a direct American nuclear strike against Iran’s hard targets, Israel has been given the assignment of launching a coordinated cluster of nuclear strikes aimed at targets that are the nuclear installations in the Iranian cities: Natanz, Isfahan and Arak. (Michael Carmichael, Global Research, January 2007)

“No Options off the Table”: What Does it Mean in the Context of Military Planning? Integration of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons Systems

The rules and guidelines of the US Military governing the use of nuclear weapons have been “liberalized” (i.e. “deregulated” in relation to those prevailing during the Cold War era). The decision to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iran no longer depends on the Commander in Chief, namely president Barack Obama. It is strictly a military decision. The new doctrine states that Command, Control, and Coordination (CCC) regarding the use of nuclear weapons should be “flexible”, allowing geographic combat commanders to decide if and when to use of nuclear weapons: 
Known in official Washington, as “Joint Publication 3-12″, the new nuclear doctrine (Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations , (DJNO) (March 2005)) calls for “integrating conventional and nuclear attacks” under a unified and “integrated” Command and Control (C2).
It largely describes war planning as a management decision-making process, where military and strategic objectives are to be achieved, through a mix of instruments, with little concern for the resulting loss of human life.
What this means is that if an attack on Iran is launched, tactical nuclear weapons will be an integral part of the weapons arsenal.  
From a military decision-making standpoint, “no options off the table” means that the Military will apply “the most efficient use of force”. In this context, nuclear and conventional weapons are part of what the Pentagon calls “the tool box”, from which military commanders can pick and choose the instruments that they require in accordance with “evolving circumstances” in the “war theater”. (See Michel Chossudovsky, Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust? Global Research, February 22, 2006  

“Once a decision to launch a military operation is taken (e.g. aerial strikes on Iran),  theater commanders have a degree of latitude. What this signifies in practice is once the presidential decision is taken, USSTRATCOM in liaison with theater commanders can decide on the targeting and type of weaponry to be used.  Stockpiled tactical nuclear weapons are now considered to be an integral part of the battlefield arsenal. In other words, nukes have become “part of the tool box”, used in conventional war theaters. Michel Chossudovsky, Targeting Iran, Is the US Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust, Global Research, February 2006, emphasis added)

The Integration of Conventional and Nuclear Warfare. CONPLAN 8022

Of utmost relevance to the planned attack on Iran, US military documents point towards the integration of conventional and nuclear weapons and the use of nukes on a pre-emptive basis in the conventional war theater.
This proposed “integration” of conventional and nuclear weapons systems was first formulated in 2003 under CONPLAN 8022. The latter is described as “a concept plan for the quick use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy–pre-emptively, if necessary–“time-urgent targets” anywhere in the world [including Iran].”  (See Michel Chossudovsky, US, NATO and Israel Deploy Nukes directed against Iran, Global Research, September 27, 2007). Coordinated by US Strategic Command, CONPLAN became operational in early 2004. (Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists).
CONPLAN opens up a military Pandora’s box. It blurs the dividing line between conventional and nuclear weapons. It opens the door for the preemptive use of nukes “anywhere in the World”

The Absence of Public Awareness

The “international community” has endorsed an attack on Iran in the name of World Peace. 
“Making the World safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.
While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result  from a  Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, including nukes, until it occurs and becomes a reality.  
The corporate media is involved in deliberately blocking news coverage concerning these war preparations. The war on Iran and the dangers of escalation are not considered “front page news.” The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.
Iran does not constitute a nuclear threat.
The threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel military alliance which contemplates – under the CONPLAN framework – the use of thermonuclear weapons against a non nuclear state.
In the words of General Ivashov, “The public is taught to believe that there is nothing monstrous about such a possibility”. Nuclear weapons are “part of tool box”.

An attack on Iran would have devastating consequences, It would unleash an all out regional war from the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia, potentially leading humanity into a World War III Scenario.
The Obama Administration constitutes a nuclear threat.  
NATO constitutes a nuclear threat
Five European “non-nuclear states” (Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey) with tactical nuclear weapons deployed under national command, to be used against Iran constitute a nuclear threat.
The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not only constitutes a nuclear threat, but also a threat to the security of people of Israel, who are misled regarding the implications of an US-Israeli attack on Iran.
The complacency of Western public opinion – including segments of the US anti-war movement – is disturbing. No concern has been expressed at the political level as to the likely consequences of  a US-NATO-Israel attack on Iran, using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.
Such an action would result in “the unthinkable”: a nuclear holocaust over a large part of the Middle East.
It should be noted that a nuclear nightmare would occur even if nuclear weapons were not used. The bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities using conventional weapons would contribute to unleashing a Chernobyl-Fukushima type disaster with extensive radioactive fallout.

Related article  Israel Cannot Wage a War against Iran without a “Green Light” from the US Preparing for a Confrontation with Iran: Beefing Up Israel’s Missile Defense

– by Michel Chossudovsky

Transcript (Excerpts)

“I want to welcome Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (Applause.) The cooperation between our militaries has never been stronger, and I want to thank Ehud for his leadership and his lifelong commitment to Israel’s security and the quest for a just and lasting peace. (Applause.)Another grave concern -– and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world -– is Iran’s nuclear program. And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear: We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced. We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it. And we’re going to keep up the pressure. (Applause.) And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table. We have been clear.

We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most. In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely. (Applause.) Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze. (Applause.)

On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel. And we will continue to do so. (Applause.) That’s what friends and allies do for each other. So don’t let anybody else tell a different story. We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts.” (Applause.)

Transcript at President Obama Union for Reform Judaism Speech Video Dec. 16. 2011: Address at URJ Biennial, 71st General Assembly

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Iran Navy chief Says Closing Gulf ‘Really Easy”

Parisa Hafezi  – Reuters December 28, 2011

Closing off the Gulf to oil tankers will be “easier than drinking a glass of water” for Iran if the Islamic state deems it necessary, state television reported on Wednesday, ratcheting up fears over the world’s most important oil chokepoint.

“Closing the Strait of Hormuz for Iran’s armed forces is really easy … or as Iranians say it will be easier than drinking a glass of water,” Iran’s navy chief Habibollah Sayyari told Iran’s English language Press TV.

“But right now, we don’t need to shut it as we have the Sea ofOman under control and we can control the transit,” said Sayyari, who is leading 10 days of exercises in the Strait.

Tension has increased between Iran and the West after EU foreign ministers decided three weeks ago to tighten sanctions on the world’s No. 5 crude exporter over what the U.N. nuclear watchdog says is an attempt to design an atomic bomb, but left open the idea of an embargo on Iranian oil.

Iran, which says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, warned on Tuesday it would stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if sanctions were imposed on its crude exports.

The announcement over the possible closure of the only access channel for eight U.S.-aligned, Gulf Arab states to foreign markets, pushed up international oil prices on Tuesday although they slipped back on Wednesday in thin trade and as the market dismissed it as rhetoric.

“The threat by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz supported the oil market yesterday, but the effect is fading today as it will probably be empty threats as they cannot stop the flow for a longer period due to the amount of U.S. hardware in the area,” said Thorbjoern bak Jensen, an oil analyst with Global Risk Management.

“WILL NOT YIELD”

The Strait of Hormuz is “the world’s most important oil chokepoint,” according to theU.S. Department of Energy.

TheState Department said there was an “element of bluster” in the threat, but underscored that the United States, whose warships patrol in the area, would support the free flow of oil.

It was not immediately clear what Sayyari meant by controlling the Sea of Oman, but the Iranian navy has been developing its presence in international waters since 2010 for counter-piracy operations and also to show off its naval power.

Iran’s international isolation over its defiant nuclear stance is hurting the country’s oil-dependent economy, but Iranian officials has shown no sign of willingness to compromise.

Iran dismisses the impact of these penalties, saying trade and other measures imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the U.S.-backed shah have made the country stronger.

During a public speech in Iran’s western province of Ilam on Wednesday,President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad implied Tehran had no intention of changing course.

“We will not yield to pressure to abandon our rights … The Iranian nation will not withdraw from its right (to nuclear technology) even one iota because of the pressures,” said Ahmadinejad, whose firm nuclear stance has stoked many ordinary Iranians’ sense of national dignity.

Some Iranian oil officials admitted have that foreign sanctions were hurting the key energy sector that was in desperate need of foreign investment.

Though four rounds of the U.N. sanctions do not forbid the purchase of Iranian oil, many international oil firms and trading companies have stopped trading with Iran.

“SHOWING TEETH”

So far, big trade partners of Tehran – Russia and China -have blocked a ban on Iran’s oil exports at theUnited Nations.

Iran’s arch-foes Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action if diplomacy and sanctions fail to rein in Iran’s nuclear work.

The presence of U.S. naval forces in the Gulf to secure a free passage for oil has increased concerns over a possible military conflict if Iran tries to block the waterway.

Analysts say Tehran could retaliate against any military strike by launching hit-and-run attacks in the Gulf and by closing the Strait of Hormuz.

About 40 percent of all traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic waterway.

An Iranian analyst who declined to be named said the leadership could not reach a compromise with the West over its nuclear activities as it “would harm its prestige among its core supporters.”

“Iranian officials are showing their teeth to prevent a military strike,” said the analyst.

“Closing off the Strait of Hormuz will harm Iran’s economy that will be very dangerous for the establishment ahead of the parliamentary vote.”

Iran will hold its parliamentary election in March, the first litmus test of the clerical establishment’s popularity since the 2009 disputed presidential vote, that the opposition says was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

The vote was followed by eight months of anti-government street protests and created a deepening political rift among the hardline rulers.

With the opposition leaders under house arrest since February and the main reformist political parties banned since the vote, Iranian hardline rulers are concerned a low turnout would question the establishment’s legitimacy.

Frustration is simmering among lower- and middle-class Iranians over Ahmadinejad’s economic policies. Prices of most consumer goods have risen substantially and many Iranians struggle to make ends meet.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Heavenly Wine and Purpose of Demonstration

Visible Origami – December 28, 2011

Dog Poet Transmitting…….
May your noses always be cold and wet.
I’ve been receiving cautions here and there about this and that, related to my comings and goings and I am not unappreciative, though some of the admonitory giftings, seem a little woo woo by more than half. This provokes me to speak on the matter. Every moment we are in is possibly our last and the reality of where and when and how is not in our hands, to the exclusion of reckless behavior on some accounts and even then, that’s not necessarily fatal; that’s just asking for a demonstration and that demonstration depends of the whim of the demonstrator.
A lot of people talk about faith in God. They talk about the existence of God. They speculate, postulate and theorize. People talk about what God is or is not and what God does or does not permit or approve of. Nothing is real, everything is permitted… for a time, for the purpose of demonstration. I don’t just believe there is a God. I know there is a God. That is an important distinction. Visceral is very different from intellectual. The Divine is all powerful. The divine lives in everything; the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. The Divine exists, differently aspected in everything and can move from unconsciousness to dream to self consciousness to full awakening in the space of a breath and certainly less; “I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham”.
There is absolutely no limit to the power of The Divine, none whatsoever. There is nothing that The Divine cannot accomplish in you but your fear stands in the way. Fear is the parent of uncertainty and also the father of much that is evil. One of the truisms that I take as gospel is that Fear and Love displace each other. Neither can exist in the presence of the other and… God is Love. Think about what this implies. Let us say that you have powerful enemies (insert the 23rd Psalm). The Divine lives in these enemies. They have no life, no existence, except that it is granted to them by The Divine. This means that they can do nothing to harm you, unless they are allowed to. Nothing can touch you except what is permitted to, for the purpose of demonstration. Much of this is dependent on your fear; “that which we have feared has come upon us”. The use of demonstration is a process by which The Divine increases your faith, according to The Divine’s own mysterious reasons.
Certain dangers attend everyone, no matter WHERE they are. Many a powerful person has been taught the lessons of depending upon a fortress or a fortune, or an army or an armada. What happens is not dependent on who your enemies are but on whether you please The Divine. That is Job One. Who do you spend your time seeking to please? There is a VERY IMPORTANT lesson to be gained here; very important. I am less than nothing and I know this. I serve, I breathe, I move at the pleasure of The Divine and NO ONE ELSE. I owe no one anything, except insofar as I am inspired to feel it and that inspiration comes from The Divine.
Many new age types like to paint angels as soft loving creatures, that hover around their atmosphere, spilling astral roses and whatnot, like they were some kind of traveling sachet dispenser. I suppose many of the lesser assistants of the seraphim and cherubim may have qualities of this kind and certainly Nature spirits do, if they can be encouraged to appear, due to an excess of virtue in the person they present themselves to. However, real angels, especially the big guns, are fearsome beyond description and their mere approach is sure to send most people into a trembling, bowel evacuating state of terror. Anyone who thinks differently hasn’t had the pleasure, or otherwise. People who presume to be channeling archangels cause me some degree of mirth.
Their counterparts from the infernal regions are also indescribable …and serious fools seek to court their favor or command them. Do they have the slightest idea what they are dealing with? No. Yet a friend of God can shoo them away like a house-cat. One of the purposes of life on this planet is to make war on Heaven. That is the intent of the inspiration in the minds of men and women who think themselves powerful and who, in their arrogance, rise to the bait. Eventually, Heaven accommodates them. It is no coincidence that so many movies of this sort are being made at this time. As my invisible friend never tires of telling me, “You haven’t seen anything yet”, along with, “You have no idea”.
Another purpose of life on this planet, is for any and all to realize their destiny and to awaken, by virtue of the conditions that surround them and by contemplation upon these things, until inspiration grants them understanding. Some of you are looking for work. You would be glad of an opportunity to serve. You may be sure there are opportunities in abundance. However, many people mistake what being in the service of The Divine implies. They overlook the simple duties and those things calling out for their attention all around them in every day. Most true heroes are unsung ‘here’ and those that are, are for the purpose of demonstration. They are there to be seen as evidence of potential, as an example of what can be.
Being afraid of enemies and dangerous possibilities is a foolish thing. Your life hangs in the balance every moment and inexorably approaches the moment in which it will be claimed, one way or another or… well, there are quite a few or’s… Consider this truth, if you are older and have been here for a time. Consider how quickly your life went by. It seems like no time at all on occasion, even while the very moment you are in, can appear to drag on forever. Points are being made to us all the time. We just don’t pay attention. Why don’t we pay attention? It isn’t what we want to hear. It interferes with what we want to do otherwise; like we have a clue what is best for us. We don’t. I’m including myself here, by the way, I always do. If you should catch me railing about something at any of the blogs, I’m talking to myself as well. Don’t imagine that I am not.
The Divine put me through the grinder. It was done for a VERY GOOD REASON. I engaged in things and behaved certain ways that mystified the Hell out of me. Later I was told I had no choice. It’s something to keep in mind. I was told, some little while ago that good and evil no longer applied. The only thing that applied was what The Divine wanted to occur. Good and evil is for those who have not met The Divine. This does not mean, anything goes. Some people who get to a certain place think it does mean that and we’ve seen a recent example of that. What it means is that good and evil isn’t what we think it is and certainly not what society dictates. All kinds of rules cease to apply once one has come closer to the one who makes the rules in the first place.
Some people have been a bit aghast at my leaving my beloved consort and my faithful companion Poncho, not realizing that over the last several years I have been away for up to six months in Italy by myself,, except for Poncho. Both legs of my presently intended journey are less than time previously spent away. Some are aghast at what they may consider my cavalier manner concerning my relationship here, without realizing that it is mutual. We get put into situations and relationships that reflect the degree of our progress. That is the reason I am in a position where no constraints are put on my behavior whatsoever. This does not mean there are no constraints on my behavior. If I were alone in every sense I would still be constrained by my own true intentions and the intentions directed upon me. True freedom is to be aligned, without the desire for choice, with the will of the one who knows me better than I ever will and who, it is my fervent prayer will replace me, with all due haste; constantly changing is constantly dying into that which you are changing into, until less and less of what you thought you were transforms into who you are.
It is better to realize that you will lose everything, before you lose everything, than when you do. In truth you lose nothing of value. All that you had of value in anyone or anything was the same presence in everyone and everything. What do I aspire to most? I aspire to be drunk and ripped out of my mind on The Ineffable. This is an actual condition, demonstrated by certain Sufi dervishes and ecstatics of every stripe and denomination. This is that wine of Bacchus and Dionysus, as surely as it is the wine of Jesus. It’s a real thing. It is part of the meaning of changing water into wine.
My chief responsibility is to seek The Divine, not to concern myself with the usual concerns of life, which are taken care of in any case, simply as a side effect of the primary responsibility. This is everyone’s chief responsibility and the best way to manage your other concerns. It looks risky. What’s risky is taking these responsibilities on yourself. What is risky is not having the necessary faith; “faith is ‘the substance’ of things unseen”.
If you want something you go to the source where it is acquired. If everything can be gained from a single source, it stands to reason that that is where you go. People say they tried that but it didn’t work. They didn’t try hard enough or long enough and when it invariably does show up, they have moved on. You have to be rooted in certitude. You have to be certain. If you’re not certain, neither is the universe. It is a mirror, after all. Looking into the mirror and speaking to The Ineffable is not a foolish practice.
Observe life. Look around you. Study it. Look deeply. What is it that people are doing and what does it result in? Where does it end? Study yourself. What are you doing? What follows? You are for the purpose of demonstration but.. what is the purpose of the demonstration?
End Transmission…….

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Why attacking Iran is still a bad idea

Stephen M. Walt – Foreign Policy December 27, 2011

Background:  Matthew Kroenig has written a provocative article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, advocating a preventive war against Iran’s nuclear facilities.  I criticized his arguments in a previous post, and Kroenig offered this defense in response.  Here is my rejoinder.

Matthew Kroenig’s defense of his Foreign Affairs article calling for launching a preventive war against Iran does little to strengthen his case.  He provides no additional evidence to explain why war is necessary; nor does he remedy the gaps and inconsistencies in his original analysis.  Given that he’s now had two swings at the same pitch, one may safely conclude that there is no good case for attacking Iran.

It is clear from the beginning of Kroenig’s response that he misunderstood the central point of my critique.  I accused him of employing the “classic blueprint” for justifying a preventive war, whereby one exaggerates the dangers of inaction, overstates the benefits of war, and understates the costs and risks of employing force.  Kroenig responds by pointing out that “any decision to use force rests on the judgment that the costs of not using force outweigh the costs of using force,” and he seems to think that this was the feature of his analysis to which I objected.  Not so: my objection was to the one-sided way in which he conducted his assessment. 

As I noted in my original post, Kroenig assumes that Iran’s leaders are firmly committed to obtaining a nuclear weapon (as opposed to a latent capability), even though U.S. intelligence agencies still reject this conclusion.  He provides no hard evidence demonstrating that the 2007 and 2011 National Intelligence Estimates on Iran are wrong.  Furthermore, he assumes that a nuclear-armed Iran would unleash a series of fearsome consequences, even though we have no theory that explains how Iran could use its nuclear weapons for offensive purposes, and no examples of other nuclear-armed states doing so successfully in the past.  He also assumes that rejecting the war option will force the United States to maintain a costly and dangerous “containment and deterrence regime” for decades.  In short, when considering the “no-war” scenario, he consistently employs worst-case analysis. 

When making the case for how a war against Iran will succeed, however, he switches to “best-case” assumptions about the short-term consequences, the dangers of escalation, and the long-term benefits, even though each of his forecasts is wide open to challenge.  My point was not that Kroenig failed to discuss the costs and benefits of using or not using force; it was that if he had adopted a similar standard on both sides of the equation, his conclusion that war was the “least bad” option would fall apart.

Kroenig’s piece in Foreign Affairs is entitled “Time to Attack Iran.” However, he says in his response to me that he doesn’t think “Washington should immediately launch a bolt-from-the-blue attack.”  Indeed, he now appears to concede that Iran might not be developing nuclear weapons and that we should wait to see if it takes certain measures (expels inspectors, enriches uranium to weapons grade levels, installs advanced centrifuges, etc.) before unleashing the dogs of war.  But these arguments contradict both his title and his original argument, which is that preventive war is the least bad option and now is the time to do it.  We are thus left wondering: is Iran developing nuclear weapons or not ?  And if Kroenig isn’t sure, is it really “Time to Attack?” 

Kroenig tells us that “in the coming months, it is possible, even likely, that a U.S. President will be forced to make a gut-wrenching choice” between containment or military action (my emphasis), and he recommends we “begin building global support for (military action) in advance.”  As I’ve noted before, the danger here is that if you keep repeating that preventive war against Iran is necessary, people gradually become comfortable with the idea and assume that it is going to occur eventually.  In fact, if we beat the war drums for months but don’t attack, you can be confident that people like Kroenig will then arguethat U.S. credibility is on the line and we have to strike, lest those dangerous Iranians conclude we are paper tigers.

As in his original article, Kroenig’s image of Iran is simplistic and contradictory. He portrays it as a highly capable and dangerously ambitious power, whose support for terrorism and proxy groups is supposedly restrained only by “fear of U.S. or Israeli retaliation.”  But he never describes Iran’s actual capabilities (which are quite modest) or explains why the threat it poses to vital U.S. interests is grave enough to warrant rolling the iron dice of war.  Nor does he discuss Iranian threat perceptions, internal politics, or foreign policy strategy (including how its policies have evolved over time), or consider the possibility that some of its activities (including its support for some extremist groups) are an asymmetric response to past U.S. efforts to isolate and marginalize it.   Instead, his portrait of Iran is conveniently contradictory: as Paul Pillar puts it, for Kroenig “the same regime that if not attacked can be expected to do all sorts of highly aggressive things . . . turns into a calm paragon of caution, respectful of U.S. ‘redlines’ once the United States starts waging war against it.”  If “knowing one’s enemy” is a prerequisite for going to war, Kroenig has a lot of work to do.

Kroenig also misunderstands my comment about the possibility that an Iranian bomb might prompt others countries in the region to go nuclear. Contrary to what he writes, I did not say “we should not worry that Iran’s proliferation will cause other states in the region to acquire nuclear weapons.”  Rather, my point was that if there were proliferation beyond Iran, it would give other states in the neighborhood the ability to deter Iran and make it impossible for Tehran to wield the coercive leverage that Kroenig (not me) thinks it would gain by building a bomb.  To be clear: I think it would be better if Iran and its neighbors stayed on this side of the nuclear threshold.  But unlike Kroenig, I’m not prepared to panic and start a major war at the possibility that they won’t.

I remain baffled by Kroenig’s belief that crossing the nuclear threshold would give Iran a credible capacity to push the United States around by making nuclear threats.  He repeats his claim that a “nuclear-armed Iran could threaten nuclear war in response to any U.S. initiative in the Middle East,” but he fails to explain why such actions would work.  Iran’s leaders could make whatever threats they wished, of course, but the salient question is whether we would have to take those threats seriously.  Does Kroenig think Iran could veto a new U.S. initiative to mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace, or to organize a new regional peace conference, by threatening to rain warheads down upon us?  Does he believe Iran could credibly threaten to attack us if we wanted to conduct a military exercise with a key regional ally, or if the Pentagon decided to redeploy forces somewhere in the area, or if Washington launched a new initiative to promote democracy and human rights in the region? 

I repeat my original point: if it would be that easy for a nuclear-armed Iran to coerce the United States into doing things it does not want to do, then why haven’t other nuclear powers been able to do that to us in the past?  By Kroenig’s logic, the Soviet Union should have had a field day pushing us around during the Cold War.  But that did not happen; in fact, the Soviets never even tried to use their huge nuclear arsenal to coerce us.  The reason, of course, is that Soviet threats would not have been credible because any attempt to carry them out would have led to national suicide.  The same logic applies to Iran.  We know it, and so do they, which is why this familiar bogeyman should not be taken seriously.

Kroenig’s claim that failure to strike soon will force the United States to invest vast sums on a “containment and deterrence regime” is equally unconvincing.  He says “when the United States has imposed deterrence regimes in the past we have dedicated great economic, military, and political resources to the task.”  Yes, but that was because the United States was seeking to contain and deter theUSSR, a major power rival with substantial industrial capacity, a large andpowerful mass army, some significant allies, and (eventually) a vast nuclear arsenal of its own.  Iran is a minor power by comparison, and will never be in the same league as the Soviet Union was.

Even more importantly, Kroenig seems to have forgotten that the United States already has a significant military presence in the Gulf region, and additional forces allocated to intervening there when necessary.  These forces, and the security ties that they support, long predate Iran’s nuclear program, and given Iran’s modest conventional capabilities, they provide the necessary ingredients for a successful containment regime for the foreseeable future. I might add that Kroenig never identifies the exorbitant additional measures that he believes would be necessary if we fail to strike soon. In short, even if Iran does get nuclear weapons someday, there is little need to augment our existing force structure or alter our alliance relationships in any meaningful way.  And by the way: the fact that a few unnamed Washington think tanks are in favor of “massive increases in our commitments to the region” doesn’t mean that this is a sound idea, because think tanks inside the Beltway often propose dubious ideas, as we learned in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Kroenig actually goes so far as to make the foolish argument that “opponents of a bombing campaign are not proponents of peace, but rather by default they are advocates of a multibillion dollar, decades-long U.S. commitment to the security of the Middle East.”  (Readers with good memories will recall that this same argument was used to explain why we could not contain SaddamHussein in perpetuity, but had to overthrow him instead).  But this charge makes sense only if you believe that attacking Iran would lead us to end our “decades-long U.S. commitment to the security of the Middle East.”  Does Kroenig think whacking Iran would enable the United States to withdraw completely from the region, terminate our security partnerships with Israel, Jordan, and assorted Persian Gulf states, and disband the Rapid Deployment Force?  I doubt it.  Moreover, if we do attack Iran, we could easily find ourselves in a protracted conflict that would make the Middle East a more dangerous and unstable region.  This would neither be good for the United States nor enable us to reduce our security commitments there.

The bottom line is that the United States is going to remain committed to defending its interests in the Persian Gulf–whether we go to war with Iran or not–and the price tag for doing so is likely to be roughly similar whether Iran has nuclear weapons or not.  It is therefore disingenuous for Kroenig to suggest that the opponents of war are advocating a costly long-term commitment to the region but the proponents of preventive war are trying to save money and reduce our defense burdens. 

Kroenig says he is surprised by my charge that he glossed over the risks of a military campaign.  In response, he says that he “fully engaged” with the many negative consequences of an attack and “proposed a mitigation strategy” for each one.  But identifying downsides and “proposing” some mitigating countermeasures is insufficient: one has to explain in considerable detail how they would work and think seriously about the various ways that this best case might go wrong.

Let’s assume, however, that all goes according to plan and we knock out virtually all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.  As Kroenig acknowledges in his Foreign Affairs article, even a completely successful war would not end Iran’s capability to build nuclear weapons once and for all.  We would merely have bought ourselves a few years, because the Iranians–who would probably be mad as hornets–would surely set out to build nuclear weapons in a secure location to deter the United States from attacking their homeland again. All of this is to say that we cannot prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons if it wants them badly enough, and attacking them in the immediate future is likely to make them want those weapons even more.  Nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent, after all, which is why Israel, the United States, and several other countries have nuclear arsenals today and no intention of getting rid of them anytime soon.

Finally, it is striking that Kroenig’s response does not engage the legal or moral implications that I raised in my original critique.  It appears that he remains untroubled by the fact that many innocent people will die and many more will be wounded if the United States follows his advice to launch a major bombing campaign against Iran. He seems equally at ease with the idea that the United States would be launching an unprovoked war of aggression, which would be in clear violation of international law.  And still people wonder: “why do they hate us?” 

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Israeli President: We are buying up Manhattan, Hungary, Romania and Poland