« What "Carrots" Have Been Offered to Iran? | Main | Maliki's Last Chance (almost) »

10 August 2007

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

J

Colonel,

if we as a nation can ever throw off the monkey [a.k.a. israel] that is clinging on our back dictating our nation's foreign policy in the region, we just might be able to come up with that everybody can live with.

Mad Dogs

"You have far too much faith in the idea of historical purposefulness. Most s--t just happens."

This be TRUTH!

Junya and Deadeye, under the spell of incantations from Kristol, Podhoretz, et al, would have it be different, but just as we've seen with the Iraq war, tis likely that as they continue to bellicosely "stir the pot" regarding Iran, they'll be much surprised again by the resulting foul, inedible stew.

Cold War Zoomie

"The Reagan Administration had no idea what the end of the war might be, but many were inclined to see it go on indefinitely."

To many of us, continuing a course of action without any idea where it may lead seems outright stupid.

But after a few years I'm sure the Iran-Iraq war's influence in the region had become pretty clear to our analysts. So I can see a certain logic in maintaining the status quo - it had become the devil we know.

Then these knuckleheads had to come along who thought managing a power vacuum would be a cakewalk.

Ugh.

geos

Col. Lang says:

Who am I to make a judgment about the Iran-Iraq War? Interesting. Check my CV and WIKI entry. I was the man responsible for making that judgment for the Defense Department.

I don't doubt your authority on the subject; you sounded like you spoke from authority. I was interested to know why it was your judgement that Iran could not prevail...

I think one of the great ironies of our current political times is the way that the radical party in U.S. politics is universally described as "conservative." Sometimes recklessness is a form of policy, especially for revolutionaries...

taters

From Wiki -
According to retired Colonel Walter Lang, senior defense intelligence officer for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency at the time, "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" to Reagan and his aides, because they "were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq_War#Iraq.27s_armament_and_support

chimneyswift

dws-

I absolutely think so. That's part of the great loss of this whole thing.

Obviously engagement with Iran of almost any sort would have been more productive than this.

If we simply offered to work together we would have some basis in the future to respond to subsequent events from.

Also, from the beginning it made sense to work alongside Iran against the Taliban in Afghanistan, so it's not like there's no good ideas.

My point is that a world power that wasn't thinking in terms of "we boss you around or else" would have jumped at that opportunity. You get tons of operational intelligence (with likely greater capacity to mask your/our own communications) and rid the envirionment of a long term strategic thorn in the side.

Another big problem is related to time-scale perception, patience, and frank willingness to think past one's own death.

From what I've been able to learn, most of the wierd power cults in this country are death cults of one sort or another, and sometimes I think it limits the ability of the members to plan. Ironic really.

So that I'm not misunderstood, that's the political problem. I don't think this is true of the current Military Commanders. I am proud of the American Military's record in developing organizational structures and cultres that foster non-power mad perspectives.

But getting back to topic, the Taliban are still there, the Iranians are still there. They've already been handed all the intel on our ways they could possibly want because of incredibly poor mission selsction, but we can still learn about them and work towards common goals.

This would create a long term situation where we are closer to Iran, and Saudi Arabia would have to adjust. We are still the biggest player on the block, we just need to accept the use of long term lerverage rather than relying on abject deferral or collusion in extremist plutocratic oppression, which is the other alternative, and in a very complicated fashion feeds the market we as Ameicans shop in every day.

So of course it's not simple, we can and should cooperate with Iran when considering the geo-strategic situation, but it might complicate "our" economic position at home as well as abroad.

W. Patrick Lang

taters

Quite. They thought Iraq was in grave danger long after the worst had passed. The were encouraged by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis in thinking that. pl

W. Patrick Lang

geos

It appeared to all the expert people in my agency that Iran lacked the strength to make a decisive end of Iraq. pl

eaken

It seems we'll have to respectfully disagree on the extent of US involvement in the Iran-Iraq War but what I am ultimately getting at is how is what we did any different than Iran's relationship with Hezbollah?

taters

Sir,
Thank you for your response. The Iran-Iraq war bears some striking similarities to WW1 and in the Gulf War it seemed that Iraq waged a WW2 type war.
As for the US arming Iraq, you capsulized everything I've ever read on subject.
I thought it was commom knowledge that the biological stuff came from private concerns in the US.

I thought this was interesting, regarding the Tomcat...

Report: F-14 parts still sold

02:16 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Staff and Wire Services

The Pentagon sold more than a thousand aircraft parts that could be used on F-14 fighter jets -- a plane flown only by Iran -- after announcing it had halted sales of such surplus, government investigators say.

A report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the Defense Department had improved security in its surplus program to prevent improper sales of sensitive items.

But investigators found that roughly 1,400 parts that could be used on F-14 "Tomcat" fighter jets were sold to the public in February. That came after the Pentagon announced it had suspended sales of all parts that could be used on the Tomcat while it reviewed security concerns.

Iran, trying to maintain its F-14s, is aggressively seeking components from the retired U.S. Tomcat fleet.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_webf-14.1e284ac.html

Clifford Kiracofe

Reemphasizing Col. Lang's point on "state interests," it seems to me that both the US and Iran indeed have common interests in some key areas that should be a basis for diplomatic negotiations.

I would point out that US relations with Persia were first considered by Washington back in the 1830s and 1840s. We had some missionaries out there (NOT seeking to convert Muslims but rather working with local Christians/Armenians, etc.) who developed considerable geographic and area expertise.

The Persians put forward the idea of a treaty relationship with the US in 1850. This was communicated to our mission at Constantinople by Persian representatives. On October 9, 1851 a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation was signed but complications arose delaying such a treaty until 1856.

Useful historical background on British-Iranian relations is provided in Edward Ingram, Britain's Persian Connection 1798-1829 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992).

As far as our current foreign policy: "garbage in-garbage out" referencing Condi and the Neocons.

W. Patrick Lang

eaken

Perhaps not very much.

On the subject of US involvement in the Iran-Iraq War I don't understand what your evidentiary basis is for disagreeing. My basis is simple. I am a primary source on this matter. pl

Eaken

WPL,

Would you say we didn't have the leverage to stop US weapons from going to Iran either?

Would you say that the US didn't have the policy of protecting Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi Arabian ships during the war while having no such policy for protecting Iranian ships?

Perhaps I don't possess a smoking gun, but I certainly don't differentiate between explicit and implicit support if the intent is the same. Perhaps that is where we disagree.

Regardless, thanks for making this discussion possible.

Montag

Let's not forget that the U.S. Navy fought an undeclared war against Iran as part of the Iraq-Iran War. Or do you think that U.S. warships make a habit of blowing civilian airliners out of the sky? Of course the worst U.S. casualities of this conflict were the 37 fatalities aboard the U.S.S. Stark in 1987 from an Iraqi missile--a reminder that when you leap into a snakepit you'd best watch out for snakes.

David W

Chimneyswift, further answers to your earlier question: The 'October Suprise' and Iran-Contra were definitely 'out of the box' thinking. From Wikipedia:


October 1980, Iranian Embassy Hostages. In October, 1980, preceding elections in United States on November 4, 1980, Ronald Reagan's election campaign manager William Casey, Laurence Silberman and George Herbert Walker Bush went to Paris, France and held a series of meetings with Iranian officials from October 15 to October 20, 1980 to discuss the fate of the 52 remaining hostages taken from the US embassy building in Tehran, Iran on November 4, 1979. Iranian officials agreed not to release the hostages prior to election day on November 4, 1980 in exchange for a shipment of F-4 aircraft tires and spare parts supplied to Iran from Israel between October 21 and October 23, 1980 in contravention of the Unites States' boycott and the Trading with the Enemy Act. The 52 hostages were finally released after 444 days in captivity on the same day, at the same hour, that Ronald Reagan was sworn into office on January 20, 1981. The United States Congress eventually held hearings in 1991 led by Lee Hamilton on the matter, which were underreported in the media and widely considered to be a whitewash, and in which "no credible evidence" was found "linking Reagan's team to the delay of the hostages' release". [1]


The Iran-Contra Affair (also Irangate), was a political scandal occurring in 1987 as a result of earlier events during the Reagan administration in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy, and illegally used the profits to continue funding rebels, the Contras, in Nicaragua.[1] Large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan administration officials.[2][3] The affair is still shrouded in secrecy. After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred.[4] A week later, however, on November 13, Reagan returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages.[5]


The affair links quite disparate matters: on one hand were the arms sales to Iran, and on the other, funding of Contra militants in Nicaragua. Direct funding of the Nicaraguan rebels had been made illegal through the Boland Amendment. The affair emerged when a Lebanese newspaper reported that the U.S. sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages by Hezbollah. E-mails sent by Oliver North to John Poindexter support this.[6] However, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. claims that the reason was to establish links with elements of the military in Iran. It is also noteworthy that the Contras did not receive all of their finances from arms sales, but also through drug trafficking of which the US was found to be aware.[7]

Both appear to be 'creative,' if only in the Machiavellian sense. I'd be interested in more discussion on how these events have shaped the US relationship with Iran, given that contemporary discussions of our recent history in the region tend to ignore these events.

W. Patrick Lang

eaken

There is no doubt that the US sided with the Arabs in that war. This was caused by a fear that the new Islamic Republic of Iran might defeat Iraq and eventually occupy the south side of the Gulf. Whether or not this fear was really justified is another matter as I have discussed previously. The Saudis, Kuwaitis and other gulfies all insisted that the US do all it could for the Iraqis.

The issue in this discussion has not been (for me) if the US sided with Iraq, but rather what specifically did we do to act on that and was it really necessary. pl

W. Patrick Lang

eaken

In this context the Iran-Contra Affair looks even more bizarre. pl

Walrus

I think that the Bush and NeoCons have actually proved my Monopolar Manichean World View theory.

The world is definitely made up only from evil.

The good occurs only because the Devil screws things up so often.

(Sorry, couldn't resist;))

Mo

For all the accusations of US military support for Iraq, the greatest irony of that war is that it was Iran who depended on US manufactured weapons. At the time, the US (though hateful of Iran) did not I believe see the Iranians as the military threat that the Russians and the Gulf states saw which is why so many Warsaw pact weapons went to Iraq.

The policy of US neutrality on the issue probably changed a few years into the war once it was noticed that the more advanced, better maintained weaponry of Iraq was achieving nothing on the battlefield. Even then though, the US support was more diplomatic than material. Restoration of diplomatic ties, isolating Iran and blocking UN resolutions against Iraqi use of chemical weapons.

The general support grew during the war, with absolute disregard for Saddams internal politics, as the abilities of the Iranians became more and more apparent. There was never any need for the US to play its hand and provide military support as the rest of the world was happy to oblige; This also allowed the US to avoid claims of hypocrisy as it was blocking sales of chemicals to Iraq.

The big question though is, why only 2 years after the end of the war, did the US decide that it was Iraq and not Iran that needed attacking?

Clifford Kiracofe

David W,

I served on the US Senate Staff during the 1980s and was involved in investigations of the Iran-Contra issue.

What I can say is that three aspects of the affair should be kept in mind when considering the Bush Administration's policy:

1.The Neocon network played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair. We see the same players today such as Elliot Abrams who runs our Middle East policy from his NSC slot. Remember that George Shultz brought Abrams into the State Department and Bush, Sr. pardoned him. George Shultz brought the Neocon network into the Bush W campaign org ("Vulcans") and administration with the approval of Bush, Sr. Cheney was co-chair, with Shultz, of the W campaign.

2.The Israelis were the primary force behind the scheme and the Neocon network a primary interface to them. There was deep penetration of the White House staff/NSC not to mention DOD. Mike Ledeen had close ties to the Vice President's office (VP Bush, Sr. that is).

3. There is an Appendix, entered into the record by some Republicans to the official Senate report, in which an attempt is made to make a legal argument that the Executive can do what it wants despite Congress. It is a very thin and false piece of legal "reasoning" as anyone reading it today will see. This annex concept of Executive power is the underlying legal concept for the present "Unitary Executive Theory" propounded by VP Cheney and his legal advisors like Addington (who worked the Annex I just mentioned).

During the 1980s, I used to see my father's old friend Congressman Bob McClory (R-Ill), 1908-1988, who as a key member of the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon for abuse of power. I would think Bob would vote the same way today with respect to Bush.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Contra_Affair
http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/publications/irancontra/irancon.html

W. Patrick Lang

Mo

US Support for the Iraqis wa always quite ambiguous. There were numrous factions within the USG representing real or imagined interests. Pro-Iranians, zionists, anti-Soviets (neocons) who were against the alignment with the Gulf Arabs and Iraq. As soon as the perceived threat from Iran "disappeared" in the UN cease fire, these factions all demanded distancing from Iraq. It went downhill from there. pl

Will

Did the Lebanese Shiites from Jebel Amel (South Lebanon) convert 16th century Iran to the Shia Faith?

Jabal Amel

"Jabal Amel's scholars are credited with converting the Safavids in Persia to mainstream Jaafari Shi'a Islam during the sixteenth century. By the invitation of Abbas the Great, Sheikh Ameli and his family moved to Isfahan to establish religious schools and train Persian scholars in Twelver Shiism. They became spectacularly successful and left a lasting influence in Shiism stretching to the present day. Over the centuries, Jabal Amel has produced a long line of heroes and scholars, who travelled wide and far to preach Jaafari Islamic doctrines, such as Shahid al-Awwal, Shahid al-Thani, Sheikh Hurr al-Amili, Sheikh Muhsin al-Amin, the renowned scientist Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah, the late Sheikh Ragheb Harb, the late Sayyed 'Abbas al-Musawi, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mughniyeh, Imam Musa al-Sadr, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, Nabih Berri, and respected Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

Furthermore, Shi'a scholars from Jabal Amel have always had a strong intellectual presence in the religious universities of Iraq and many other places in the Islamic world, where many seek the guidance of Jabal Amel's Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. "

Homer

Clifford Kiracofe: 1.The Neocon network played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair.

Yes, and the al-Dawa party, which is exactly the same as the al-Dawa party of PM al-Maliki, also played a central role too in the Iran-Contra affair.

Rem.: In 1983, members from al-Dawa suicide bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait.

Eventually, these members were imprisoned and became known as the Kuwait 17.

Then, in order to secure the release of the Kuwait 17, Hizbollah, an ally of Al-Dawa, nabbed 30 hostages.

See:

SHULTZ SEES LINK BETWEEN BEIRUT, KUWAIT ATTACKS OFFICIALS IDENTIFY MAN WHO DROVE TRUCK BOMB, The Miami Herald, December 14, 1983

Secretary of State George Shultz said Tuesday that there "quite likely" was a link between the U.S. Embassy bombing in Kuwait and attacks on American facilities in Lebanon. He warned of possible retaliation.

(snip)

The sources said the investigators matched the prints on the fingers with those on file with Kuwaiti authorities and tentatively identified the assailant as Raed Mukbil, an Iraqi automobile mechanic who lived in Kuwait and was a member of Hezb Al Dawa, a fundamentalist Iraqi Shiite Moslem group based in Iran.

Beirut Bombers Seen Front for Iranian-Supported Shiite Faction, The Washington Post, January 4, 1984

The terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. Marine compound and the French military headquarters here may be a front for an exiled Iraqi Shiite opposition party based in Iran, in the view of a number of Arab and western diplomatic sources.

Authorities in Kuwait say their questioning of suspects in the recent bombing there of the U.S. and French embassies indicates a clear link between Islamic Jihad, a shadowy group that says it carried out the Beirut attacks, and Al Dawa Islamiyah, the main source of resistance to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Al Dawa (The Call) has been outlawed in Iraq, where it wants to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state to replace the secular Baath Socialist government of Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Moslem.

It draws its strength from the large Shiite population in southern Iraq. Thousands of its most militant members were expelled to Iran in 1980 before the outbreak of the Iranian-Iraqi war and joined Al Dawa there. But it also has a large following in Lebanon among Iraqi exiles and sympathetic Lebanese Shiites.

While Al Dawa operates out of Tehran, it is not clear whether its activities abroad are under direct Iranian control or merely have Iran's tacit acceptance.

THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR: AN UNSOLVED CASE, WaPo Sept 6, 1987

The reference was to 17 Shiite extremists held in Kuwait in connection with 1983 bombings of the American and French embassies that killed six and injured 80. Most of the 17 belonged to Dawa, an Iranian-backed fundamentalist group. From the time the first American hostage was seized in Beirut in 1984, the Hezbollah in Lebanon had repeatedly insisted on the Shiites' release as a condition for freeing Americans. Some of the 17 are reportedly relatives of some of the kidnapers in Beirut.

eaken

WPL,

It seems that one million plus lives later and decades after the Iran-Iraq war, some of the same fears that brought Iraq to attack Iran still exist: fear of Shiite uprising, fear of Iran's dominance of the south, boundary disputes. Now we are in the driver's seat and my fear is that implicit support in the eighties might evolve into explicit actions now on the backs of AIPAC and those others toeing the market.

....and if there is something we indeed agree on it is the bizarreness level of Iran-Contra.

W. Patrick Lang

eaken

Iraqi fears caused Saddam to invade Iran? I am not so sure that it wasn't just a desire to dstroy the mullah's government and a desire for the oil of Khuzistan.

Fear of an uprising in the South? they did not act like that and the army and guard were full of Shia and a lot in high positions. pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

April 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    
Blog powered by Typepad