Archive for the 'Foreign Affairs' Category

John Kyl (R-Arizona) Says Regime Change Should be Ultimate U.S Goal in Iran

This past week Iran was once again in the headlines. A Summer of violence inflicted on dissidents by the military and security forces following the Iranian Presidential “election” in June, as well as fears that the Islamic Republic could soon acquire nuclear weapons; have gained the country much attention and has created much concern.

Last week at the United Nations, the country’s “President” faced protests by those denouncing his brutish tactics against Iranian protesters in his own country. His diatribes against Israel and denial of the holocaust caused many to walk out during his speech before the United Nations last week. And intelligence of a subterranean facility connected to the country’s nuclear program; elicited rebukes and renewed talk of International sanctions by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and even Russia to a lesser degree.

Now, as the United States remains mired in two Middle Eastern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (both countries next to Iran), some of the neocons in the United States think maybe two millitary stalemates aren’t enough.

It appears that Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) and outgoing Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) are mulling regime change in Iran. Kyl and Bond who each appeared on Sunday morning political talk shows, aren’t yet urging an all out Iraq-style pre-emptive war just yet, nevertheless he says regime change should be the ultimate objective of the United States in its policy towards Iran.

“What we’re trying to do here eventually is get a regime change,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Get a group of people in there that are more representative of the Iranian people, that we really can talk with in a way that might end up with a good result. I think it’s very difficult to do that with the current leadership and especially the elected president,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

My Pavlovian response to such rhetoric is usually a mix between a roll of the eyes, fear of another military adventure that ends in an outright fiasco, and anger that anyone could be stupid enough to be so cavalier after what we have endured with Iraq. But the so-called election this past Summer (and no Senator Kyl he isn’t the “elected President” of Iran he stole the election at least as far as we can tell) shows that there is a reservoir of suspicion and resentment towards Amadinejad that has gone beyond him and was so audacious as to be aimed even at the Mullahs who hold the real power in the country.

Action should be taken for sure, and as of now it appears that Obama is attempting to adopt the approach similar to that George HW Bush took in 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq; attempting to build legitimacy with the International community specifically within the UN membership to denounce and punish Iran, rather then the bungled neoconservative model of the Iraq war.

As Josh Marshall on TPM points out, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even says that any sort of military action towards Iran would have limited results. After attacking any facilities what is to say that Iran won’t immediately work to rebuild such capabilities? Would we once again be forced to militarily reconstructing the entire sociopolitical framework of a nation where we are viewed with suspicion and whose culture Americans by and large have little familiarity with? Such a move would further destabilize the global economy, driving further up the price of oil. Not all the weapons sites are likely known in Iran since U.S Intelligence in the country is scant at best if existent at all. It sits in a region where its two neighboring countries Iraq and Afghanistan have unstable, inept regimes that are seen as effective by much of their citizenry and are just possibly fragile enough to also be forced from power in reaction.

The international community would likely not stand alongside the United States and Israel in such an attack, and such talk would only cause Iran to expedite the development of a nuclear program and do something that this summer shows Ahmadinejad and the government were never able to do and that is make him legitimate in the eyes of the Iranian people. His tirades and fear mongering would be validated and any opening the U.S may have had with the Iran citizenry could be very well sealed shut if we are perceived as trigger happy. An attack on Iran could turn more of them against us and in the wake of such an attack we could see a flood of Iranians crossing into Iraq armed with a newly formed hatred in their hearts and thousands of U.S soldiers in their sights.

Finally, the government of Ahmadinejad is not the body that really hold the bulk of the decision making power is done by the mullahs and the Grand Ayatollah. In the larger configuration of things Ahmadinejad is a minute component in the more vast system of the Iranian elite.

If we have learned anything from nearly a decade of struggle and Afghanistan and our invasion of Iraq, its that War and regime change are something that is easy to spout off about, but violent, costly, and painstaking to carry out. We are already locked in two wars rebuilding two nations,to enter a third would be the most absurd and tragic of follies.



Tortured Iranian Prisoner Kills Himself

Though the situation in the past month or two has been eclipsed by other events, the graphic video above (H/T:Andrew Sullivan) as an ireport for CNN, shows the bloodied father in the aftermath of his young son’s suicide who upon being released from prison leaped off a bridge to his death. Apparently the deceased had been jailed for participating in post-election protests and well in prison had endured rape and torture at the hands of his captors.


Free Maziar Bahari

Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, I heard about Newsweek Iranian correspondent Maziar Bahari , who has been held prisoner by the government in Iran, in the wake of the intensity and disputes of that country’s Presidential election.

In the past he his coverage has been praised by the Iranian government who has given him clearance to do his job. But since June 21, he has been held by the government, who has alleged he presented coverage aimed at undermining the government in a plot to remove the government there from power.

By all accounts, he sounds like a journalist who reported objectively and is now being held (and even forced to give a false confession) all because he was merely reporting the facts and doing his job.

Sign this petition that action be taken to free Maziar Bahari now.


Neocons Froth at the Release of Journalists from North Korea

The top story today was no doubt the return of former U.S President Bill Clinton and recently freed journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who had been imprisoned in North Korea since earlier this March, when according to reports they had accidentally crossed from China into North Korean territory. Subsequently they were given a “trial” in North Korea and sentenced to twelve years imprisonment in a forced labor camp.

But on what is said to have been a “private” mission former U.S President Bill Clinton went over to the totalitarian country and was able to get the two journalists pardoned, returning them to the shores of America and the arms of relieved families and a grateful nation. In exchange for what? A few photographs with a despot.

To tell the truth I was surprised that this much was able to be accomplished over a forty-eight hour period; especially since the names and incident as unjust as it is had faded from the headlines. Obviously this was planned beforehand, but nonetheless the aim of this mission by the ex-President obviously was to come home with these two hostages and that was accomplished.

But despite achieving that objective many on the far right and the neocons bemoan that it is negotiating with terrorists and horrible regimes. That we should not be engaging in dialogue much less posing for photos with them. Ex-acting U.S Ambassador to the UN and noted neoconservative John Bolton says this was merely rewarding bad behavior and possibly emboldening our enemies. Sean Hannity, the whitehouses ambassador to the radio waves during the Bush/Cheney administration echoed that sentiment. Most have the decency and logic to at least preference their condemnations with “I am glad the girls are home”. But ex-Clinton aide and neoconservative Dick Morris says the girls she be punished for what they did. They should remain stashed away in the tombal prisons of this Stalinist nation, toiling day and night for having accidentally stumbled into North Korean territory.

(H/T: Crooks and Liars)-

Carlson: How are we supposed to get the girls home, though, Dick? And I only have 30 seconds. How are we supposed to get them home?

Morris: I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe they don’t come home. Maybe they go to North Korea and live with the consequences of their decision to go there.

So much for that spreading of democracy across the world that Dick and the other neoconservatives were so hopped on back in the Bush/Cheney administration.

But aside from the post-rational reasoning of this clown, what is their alternative? So what if Kim Jung Ill has two or three photos of him with Bill Clinton? Kim Jung Ill has scant if any credibility anywhere in the world and is noted as despot. In doing this we as America show that we care about our people, which is more then can be said about the leader of North Korea? And does this really put us in a worse spot then before? What, now that a former president sat down with a dictator we can’t shake our fists and talk about how much we want to bomb North Korea? How much we condemn their nuclear program and their atrocious human rights record? Please somebody tell me how sitting with a former U.S president can be seen as essentially surrendering to North Korea? We got two of our citizens back whose only crime was getting lost and being from our great land, and from what we can tell now all it took was a few photos? I might be insane but a few photos seems like a minor price for the world’s most powerful country to pay for two of its citizens.

By the logic of these critics we shouldn’t have gotten our Navy men back on the USS Pueblo in 1968, when it was captured by North Korea, and in order to get them back to the security and haven of our land we had to apologize for having one of our submarines off their shores. Or that during World War II we should have risked losing the war, and not formed an alliance with one of the twentieth century’s most detestable tyrants Josef Stalin, because that involved us not only meeting and talking with him, but allying ourselves with him to exploit the weakness of our common enemy during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, which ended up loosening the once iron grip Hitler and the Nazis had in the Eastern European theater. Yeah, what a mistake that was. Or how about during the Cuban missile crisis, when in order to avert a nuclear holocaust we ended up gasp negotiating with the Soviet Union to stave off nuclear Armageddon.

Or how about 1972 when Richard Nixon, a Republican and at the time ally of many conservatives (such as Pat Buchanan) traveled to China and ended up opening relations with the communist nation, to exploit the divides between China and their communist rival the Soviet Union which ultimately was a crucial element in ending the cold war?

But the best comparison I heard was on the Political Animal, where reference is made to Michael Crowley who quipped After all, “even the right’s cherished embodiment of American machismo, Ronald Reagan, was willing to trade arms for hostages.” , referencing Reagan’s arms for hostages deal in the 1980s, where Reagan actually sold U.S weapons to Iran, enemies of the United States, in order to secure the release of American hostages. But hey at least he didn’t pose for a photo with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Just once I would like to hear someone bring up the arms for hostages deal when conservative commentators begin maligning this latest move by Clinton. I wonder if Dick Morris would then reply by saying that the hostages in the 1980s should have had to live with consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?


Iranian Wrap-Up: 7/31/09

Sorry for the lack of posts, especially regarding Iran. Been running around preoccupied with a lot of other matters this week, and unfortunately unlike bloggers who do so professionally or have a multitude of contributors.

One Iranian prison has been shut down earlier this week and 140 demonstrators released from prison, but both protester and government remain equally steadfast. Despite the Supreme Leader forcing Mahmoud Amadinejad to withdraw his choice for an Iranian Vice Presidential post because of comments that said Iranians and Israelis could be friends (talk about a mecca moment in Iranian politics), Ahmadinejad is adamantly denies there is a fissure between the leadership of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayidd Ali Khomeni and Ahmadinejad, saying the Supreme leader is like a father to him. Can we say covering ass? Obviously there are rifts here, after all unlike the Supreme leader Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy is in question and he has much less power and his name is on the ballot every four years.

And over a month since the death of Neda Soltani who was gunned down by a stray bullet from security forces cracking down on protesters in the streets, and about a week following the global day of action last Saturday against the repressive conduct of the Iranian government and their Janissary’s who won’t stop defaming her even in death. When masses of people emerged yesterday at her grave site in silent protest, security forces were unleashed on the protesters and blocked opposition leader Mir Houssain Mousavi and other political leaders sympathetic to the dissidents from visiting Neda’s grave.

Here by the way are some words by Neda’s boyfriend of three months, describing his girlfriend who was slain by the government.

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Caspian Makan 37, boyfriend of Neda 27 (Q&A conducted 24 June 2009)

Neda was a very happy girl, she was, how can I put it, a simple person, innocent, sweet. She was the sort of girl that when we went somewhere together, everyone liked her, people were drawn to her. She was very kind with people, she had a really sweet personality, very sweet, innocent and open. People were drawn to her.

She was not at all into politics nor was she a protestor or part of this ‘green wave’ movement. She didn’t support any of the candidates. She just wanted democracy and a little freedom, a little freedom in a logical reasonable way, that was what she wanted — just the basic rights of the Iranian people which this regime wants to take away from them.

We knew each for just three months. It was not long enough…


Global Day of Action Against Iranian Regime

Today in nations around the globe, including various cities across the United States there have been activities and protests to mark an international day of action against the Iranian regime, for its voting irregularities in the June Presidential election and the subsequent harsh and inhuman treatment of dissidents and Iranians across the spectrum.

Some protesters are demanding a new election, to rectify the lopsided results of the June election, all are calling for the release of dissidents and political prisoners from the bowels of Iranian prisons.

I wish I could have participated, unfortunately I just heard about these demonstrations last night and the nearest event in Massachusetts is in Boston. But just the same I and I think it is safe to say the plurality of Americans and people around the globe who believe in peace, egalitarianism, justice, and freedom; at least march with those protesters(especially those in Iran who are in many cases literally risking their lives)to voice their opposition and chart their own course in the vast sea of destiny.

LONDON (AP) — Protesters across the world called on Iran Saturday to end its clampdown on opposition activists, demanding the release of hundreds rounded up during demonstrations against the country’s disputed election.

Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International backed a global day of action, with protests planned in more than 80 cities.

The protesters want Iranian authorities to release what they say are hundreds, or even thousands, of people detained during protests that followed the presidential election last month that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Inside Iran, as well, Iranian police and pro-government militia attacked and scattered hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Tehran in response to the global demonstrations of solidarity, witnesses said.

Demonstrators in Vanak and Mirdamad districts chanted “death to the dictator” and “we want our vote back” before they were attacked and beaten by police Saturday. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Interestingly the internal politics, even amongst the established order is fissured to some degree. Even amongst Mahmoud Amadinejad and the conservative ayatollahs composing the “Supreme Leader” Sayyid Ali Khameni are divided. Ahmadinejad had mulled choosing an Iranian Vice President who allegedly made some positive remarks aboutIsrael(or ones that weren’t threatening to Israel anyway). Apparently the established order didn’t like that too much, and after digging in his heals; Ahmadinejad finally capitulated and will not choose that candidate to serve as the top Iranian Vice President.

Some musings are traveling around that Ahmadinejad, long a fervent conservative ally of the Ayatollah’s and to their strict doctrine; was seeking a more conciliatory cabinet. Some may wonder why Ahmadinejad, someone who has been such a hardliner would seek to placate these factions? Well the answer is simple; despite the elections that have been rigged in his favor Ahmadinejad is still a politician. Ever few years he is up for re-election again, and even if the process is completely fixed in his favor his authority could be diminished in others ways and order completely disrupted. The Supreme Leader on the other hand is not up for election and his linked by the system to Shia Islam. He unlike Ahmadinejad who is accountable to the Ayatollah’s and to some degree the people; the Supreme leader who has the true power of state resting in his palms and no end to his term is accountable to nobody.

Ahmadinejad may be reckless, but he is not totally stupid. He is well aware that if he doesn’t sway or ameliorate the outrage in some at least slightly conciliatory way; if not at least cosmetically; the unrest and opposition towards him will blossom further; either forcing him from power or severely chocking any policies or actions his administration may want to take. In short the difference between the two is the old adage by Lord Acton that “absolute power, corrupts absolutely”.


Audit Suggests U.S cut Embassy Staff, Costs at Embassy in Iraq

The Iraq war since 2003 has many have argued not only been a devastating loss of U.S soldiers and civilians for motives that are at best questionable, but also an endeavor rife with financial waste and corporate cronyism.

An article in the Washington Post an audit now suggests that there be cuts in the U.S embassy staffing in Iraq, that has cost $700 million to construct, consisting of 21 buildings and is the largest U.S embassy in the world with an astounding 1,873 employees. Yeah, and the Iraqi people are supposed to believe we have no long term ambitions in Iraq. Some would say that if the message an occupying power wants to send is self sufficiency and independence, building a wasteful and almost obscenely mascadonic embassy might not exactly be the most credible way. And as with much of what the Bush/Cheney administration did, it was a free for all for contractors.

For more than five years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the embassy was housed in Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace inside the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad. In the Bush administration, the audit said, normal staffing limits were not imposed, and cost “did not seem to be a factor.”

Construction on a new embassy compound began in 2005 — 21 buildings on 104 highly secured acres, costing more than $700 million.

Seriously, we have $700 million wasted on this palace and that is not counting the annual costs required to operate the embassy. We should sell it back to the Iraqi people, and use some of the money to build a much more humble and smaller embassy.That is if we truly do have no ambitions to indefinitely occupy the country.