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26 April 2008

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Marcus

pl: "What is the source of this affinity between Cheney and the Israeli Right?"

It is a power admiration club. Cheney's dream is an Executive with unlimited power. Israel has unlimited (strategic) military power in the Middle East.

Mad Dogs

For those who'd like to read and review the entire Syria Briefing, there is a superb post over at Arms Control Wonk where one of his readers provided the entire text of the Syria Briefing. You'll need a half-hour because it is a long briefing to read.

Makes for a "head-spinning" read as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefers spin their way through facts they "know", facts they "presume", and facts they "wish".

Like David Albright, I found the "fact" that our Intelligence agencies have zero, nada, zilch evidence of any Syrian reprocessing facility rather "curious" (as did apparently more than a few of the questioners at the briefing).

The DNI "assures" all that, yes indeedy, the Syrians must have been building a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium, but the DNI has no idea how and where the Syrians would reprocess that plutonium.

Oh, and again like David Albright, another "fact" that I found "curious". The DNI was unable to say where the Syrian’s could find the uranium to fuel this North Korean-assisted Syrian nuclear reactor. Evidently the DNI has no info on where that necessary uranium might come from.

I thought that was deliberately laid out there that way to fuel (if you’ll pardon the pun *g*) the constant wingnuttia fantasy that Saddam Hussein moved his WMD nuclear stuff to Syria before the war.

I’m confident that Dick Cheney is behind all this "Lookee here! WMD! WMD! WMD!" blathering.

And like Pat, I’m just as sure that Cheney will find some fantastical way to tie it to Iran.

Now that he’s gotten rid of the only miliary impediment to war with Iran in Admiral "Never on my watch!" Fallon, and has promoted his best military mouthpiece, General "Iran did it!" Petraeus to become the head of Centcom, war with Iran is more likely; not less likely.

Fixing the terms for the 2008 election 'cause to Deadeye’s way of thinking, no true patriotic American would ever consider voting for a Democrat when the country is at war.

And "Endless War" is Deadeye’s planned legacy. What a coincidink that the Republican Nominee St. McCain has already trademarked "100 Years of War" as his campaign motto.


PeterE

An attack on Iran would be advantageous from a neoconservative standpoint. All red-blooded Americans will wrap themselves in two or three flags and vote for McCain. Inconvenient issues such as Israeli settlements, or failure to make much progress on the two-state solution will be forgotten in the patriotic uproar, etc.

Montag

It alarms me that we leave the weighty matter of war and peace to such guessperts who think that the way to solve a problem is to enlarge it. Are they thinking that the Great Middle East is nothing but a big game of tic-tac-toe (Afghanistan-Iraq-Iran)? What a Confederacy of Dunces!

Cheney? Well, Shakespeare warned us of the man with "a lean and hungry look," in Julius Caesar, didn't he?

Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music:
Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
That could be mov'd to smile at anything.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves;
And therefore are they very dangerous.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The Syrian Affair, the promotion of General Petraeus, the baiting of the Mahdi militia and gun battles on the high seas are curious if not totally frightening.

Except, the only assured get out of jail card for the Bush Administration is the election of John McCain. A total war and cut off of oil supplies before the election voids his election and is insane.

After November if Barack Obama is President-Elect anything is possible. But, War Drums six months early is weird.

Dana Jones

In looking at the photos of the so-called Syrian reactor, and photos of the NK reactor, I think that they are too similar, in other words, I think that they are of one & the same reactor, the one in NK. In looking at the side-by-side photos of the building, they also are exactly the same. In one of the closeups of the exterior, you can even see bamboo scaffolding, something used in NK, but not likely in Syria. My conclusion, this whole video is a fake using doctored photos from the NK reactor and just stating that it is in Syria. As someone else said, it may have just been Assad's nekked swimming pool. This is a joke. I'm not laughing though, its not funny, especially when the headline in the local news sheet is "U.S.: Force possible in Iran". Iran isn't Iraq after 10 years of bombardment and sanctions, and even though the air force and navy may be able to do then some serious damage, they can do the same back. And they don't even have to hit our military bases, just cause enough serious damage to the Saudi or other oil shipping facilities and our economy is in deep, deep doo-doo.
I would not expect the Iranians to not respond in some way to a US attack on them, which is what looks like is coming. God help us all....

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I recall you stating back when the attack against Syria took place to not read too much into it except an Israeli (re-assertion) of the capability of their air-force.

Now we have the curious fact that one state - US - is supplying information in support of military action by another state - Israel - against a third state - Syria.

And by supplying publicly photographs is not US endangering her (presumed) spying network in Syria?

And of course the Syrians have been so obliging to place their reactor site close to Turkish border and in an isolated area so traffic to and from it can be monitored by satellite.

And where was IAEA in all of this; why did not US blow the whistle on this several years ago and have the inspectors crawl all over it?

And building a reactor and not informing IAEA is not against the NPT rules until nuclear fuel is to be introduced into it; as far as I know.

And why wait until the site is cleared and by which time no physical counter evidence can be supplied by the Syrians?

And one has to assume that N.K and Syria are led by stupid men.

Some thing in all of this does not jive; but may be it is just I.

b

First - a comment on the Syrian "box-on-the Euphrates".

I have extracted the pictures of the "video presentation" here.

Part of my interpretation is here.

Essentially: There is no believable (and not manipulated) connection between:
- the overhead satellite picture
- the on-the-ground exterior pictures
- the on-the ground indoor pictures
- the pictures of a "reactor vessel"
- the (maybe) Korean guy standing next to an (maybe) arab guy.

All these pictures likely differ in time and space. They were collected and montaged to make a story.

In short: the "presentation" is trying to show many datapoints as connected without giving any evidence that there are really connections between them.

It is garbage like Powell's "proof" of Saddam's mobile bio labs.

Some pictures we are shown may well have been made in Dimona.

Syria has no nuke program and the NoKo's program is dubious. They coordinate on missile research - so what.

On the second issue - Cheney's rush to another war.

Colonel, I don't really understand Cheney's push in parallel with the Israelis either but it seems the Israelis are riding the horse (Cheney) here. (Who is really talking to him?)

An interesting issue is Gates in this.

He recently hit the Air Force and Navy for not really taking part in the current fight and the Air Force and Navy will want to answer this maybe by urging for a glorious attack on Iran.

He also urged low ranging Army Folks (Captains mostly) to stand up against their superiors. A call for mutiny if there ever was one.

What does he know to call for such?

The Army will suffer if/when the Air Force and the Navy attack Iran.

Is that what Gates was talking about?

John Howley

Bush seems pretty zoned out, coasting to January. Cheney less so.

If you find the following too reductionist, then by all means layer on addition coats of varnish to suit yourself (political, cultural, geo-strategic, etc.)

Iran has a lot of oil and gas (especially gas) and the International oil companies are starved for good reserves to develop. Shell recently signed a contract with Iran on gas development.

Do a google news search on Shell and Iran. You will see articles about Iran trying to force Shell to commit to more investment (or get out) while U.S. Navy shoots at something in the Gulf.

Our esteemed Colonel is right to be "concerned."

Cheney's view, I think, is hold on, guys, you can get in there AFTER we do regime change, but not before. Halliburton will drill, build pipelines, LNG plants, etc.

But the US/UK is not the only player. Iran's business is going to China, India and Russia.

Situation seems to parallel Saddam before he got liberated. He was starting to sign oil deals and the sanctions were breaking down. Now, no oil deals in Iraq without US signature.

But, as will be quickly pointed out, it is not feasible for the US to occupy Iran. We could make a hell of a mess, tho. Maybe it's not his best move but what else is Dick gonna do? Sit by and watch sanctions droop while everybody else makes money and Ahmadinejad flips us the bird? After January, someone else is at the controls.

As Cheney grows more isolated, he clings more tightly to his Likudnik friends. Alas for Israel/Palestine.

"It's about the future, Mr. Giddes." (We all live in Chinatown now.)

pbrownlee

Well, obviously the uranium will come from Niger (as British intelligence may well have recently learned).

And precisely what is the price of bamboo scaffolding in downtown Damascus this morning?

Where is Juvenal when you need him?

At least there's the IAEA:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/world/26iaea.html?ref=world

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ijc1vpkx9LzNcMuozrF8hPTkO37A

"The IAEA chided both Israel and the United States for their handling of the matter.

"It criticized Israel for acting on the allegations and bombing the purported reactor in a raid last September without giving IAEA inspectors an opportunity to investigate.

"IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei also "deplores the fact" that the information was not immediately passed on to the Vienna-based watchdog "in accordance with the guidelines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," the statement said.

"Under the NPT, the agency has a responsibility to verify any proliferation allegations in a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT," the statement said.

"In light of the above, the director general views the unilateral military action by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the non-proliferation regime," it added."

walrus

I think the intentions are obvious.

1. U.S.intention is to "liberate" Iran's southern oilfields and destroy Iran's infrastructure and nuclear programs.

2. Israel's intentions are a "final solution" (and I mean the exact same endlosung pursued by Hitler)to the Palestinian problem and the destruction of syrian and lebanese infrastructure.

My rationale for believeing this is that I suspect that Saudi Arabia is way past oil peak production and that their so called "refusal" to raise oil production is actually an inability to do so.

Cheney is doing his bit as an uber patriot to secure what is left for America.

lina

". . .it is clear to me that many, many people in the USA are not in a position to resist propaganda. . ."PL

It that a euphemistic way of saying they are brain dead? Are they watching too much American Idol? Eating too many chemical preservatives? They got BS-ed into a war that has bankrupted the U.S. economy, decimated the U.S. military, and alienated every ally we ever had, and they can't resist any more propaganda? One would think common sense would tell them not to believe the people who have a track record of lying.


hidebound

the love affair is all one way. It is a classic dependency relationship. Cheney is ouwardly the ballsy CEO but internally he has lost the ability to accept old age. The Israelis are his suppliers -- they are feeding him a steady diet of terrible posibilities, terrible deaths, terrible people. The Israelis are feeding him the line that only he can turn the tide, save the day -- save himself. Asking Dick to give up the Israelis is like asking the ditto heads to give up Rush.

jon

Col., you raise some very pertinent questions about what the Syrians were doing with that building. The photos supplied don't lend much of the aura of a military or nuclear facility.

As for the timing and ulterior purpose of the US briefing, I'm starting to wonder if the actual subject isn't the US elections, with Middle East or Iranian foci a lesser consideration.

McCain's candidacy may well benefit substantially from heightened tensions or a broadening or escalation of violence . Widening the war to Syria or Iran would ratchet up domestic anxiety, and McCain's undisputed military background would help rally many to his side.

I also think the timing helps to push Jimmy Carter's visit out of the news. Wouldn't want any actual diplomatic progress.

Whatever is going on, it does not have improving the situation in the Middle East as its objective.

However, I think that neither the US or Iran is particularly interested in a unified, powerful, or nationalistic Iraq emerging. Both benefit if it is weak, factious, impoverished and dependent.

SubKommander Dred

"What a Confederacy of Dunces!"

Montag;
It's more like a Neo-Confederacy of Dunces...

SubKommander Dred

Tom Griffin

Jim Lobe reckons the signals are not as ominous as they seem:

despite harsher rhetoric against Iran, observers here note that it falls short of the kind of threats that Bush and Cheney were making against Tehran as recently as last fall. Moreover, as recently as a week ago, Mullen reiterated Fallon's exhortations in favour of dialogue with Iran, noting at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, no less: "We've done that in the past with our enemies. We should be able to do that (with Iran) as well."

Indeed, some analysts believe that Petraeus' promotion to Centcom was actually engineered by Gates and Mullen not only because he is likely to enjoy exceptional influence with Bush, but also because, despite his championship by neo-conservative hawks, they consider him a fellow-realist who shares the conviction that war with Iran would be a major strategic error.
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42135

Leila  Abu-Saba

Juan Cole publishes the comments of an informed reader who questions, with interesting intelligence, the reactor story:

http://www.juancole.com/2008/04/more-on-syrian-reactor-bombing-from.html

Scott Ritter on the topic, in the Guardian, hat tip Josh Landis:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/scott_ritter/2008/04/evidencebased_bombing.html

I provide these for your information, not because I am capable of evaluating the merits of these arguments.

Greg333

Juan Cole's comments are interesting. The search for an answer as to why the US is again exaggerating threats could go on forever. Here is an old link some may find enlightening and/or amusing.
http://ratiocinatonsofasavageheart.blogspot.com/2007/09/strange-case-of-israeli-attack-on-syria.html

arbogast

Propaganda:

I talked to an attorney I know very, very well. And for whom I have the utmost respect.

He said the following to me:

1) We invaded Iraq because they would not allow inspectors to verify the absence of weapons of mass destruction.

2) The reason for continuing the war is that it has succeeded in preventing any terrorist attacks since 9/11.

3) If there were more terrorist attacks on US soil that would be a reason for more war, not less.

He also questioned my patriotism for being anything except completely in agreement with him, and please note: I never disagreed with him, I just didn't instantaneously emphatically support what he said.

Footnote: to what extent is the current saber-rattling an effort to convince the Middle East that there is still a saber to rattle?

jamzo

the overwhelming majority of people get their information about what is going on in the world from tv

a visually-anchored news item of 20 seconds is powerful

a picture of purported nuclear reactor associated with the words north korea and syria is enough to make an impression on the mind of the viewer that is hard to influence later

while "sound-bite" is the term, the power is in the visual of the person speaking the words


the adminstration would not use photo-proof after the UN-Powell event if it did not work so well

i wonder about the pause between the bombing in syria by the israelis and the photo event

zanzibar

"I have been traveling a lot lately in my own country and it is clear to me that many, many people in the USA are not in a position to resist propaganda spread in the MSM and by people like Mullen and Gates."

PL, in your opinion why do you think our fellow countrymen are so easily susceptible to propaganda when our history as a nation is based on skepticism of authority?

I believe this is the crux of the problem why our society is in trouble. In the financial realm our government is taking unprecedented actions thereby relinquishing our enormous advantage of borrowing in our own currency. I now feel that unless we have immediate course corrections which I feel in todays climate is highly unlikely the US dollar will no longer be the reserve currency of the world in my lifetime. The implications of which are likely to be very very large for our rather unprepared society.

J_B_V

Isn't cheney one of those 'second temple' nut jobs that believe there must be established a 'greater israel' in order for the rapture to begin?

I am a bit more optimistic about the potential of American citizens resistance to another war. It would not only come from the left but also the increasingly anxious 'nativist' right - see PBuchanan, et al.

Bobo

Cheney/Bush are living in a different time, one where Oil was King. They broke Iraq and cannot put it back together. Now they are aiming for a fracas in Iran due to its flippancy and desire for Nuclear Weapons. The question becomes what are we going to do with Iran should we take it? Our world brethern will not standby on this one. This question needs to be put front and center by our congressional leaders and the MSM.

We are moving into a period where Food will be King. Food Riots are breaking out in 2nd and 3rd world nations. Some countries are reducing their exports of Rice. This will bring difficult times ahead. Any housewife in America already knows that costs are way out of line. Wait till they cannot get some basic staples, propaganda will go out the door as they demand some answers from our leaders.

Green Zone Cafe

One recent bit of news which made me sit up and notice is the recent change of command of the 5th Fleet Carrier Battle Group while on station in the Gulf.

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&subsection=Qatar+News&month=April2008&file=Local_News2008042131946.xml

The outgoing commander, RADM Gormley, was two months short of a two year tour. The incoming commander, RADM Mark Fox, has spent the last year in the Palace "green room" in Baghdad, on "strategic communications," including coordinating message with friendly bloggers and yes, Fox News.

EZSmirkzz

I think we need to understand American gullibility, which is predicated on a desire to have an opinion that they can explain easily, hence the good v evil dichotomy. It works on domestic as well as foreign policy.

That's why you're excluded from TV as well, because you ask simple, direct questions about these things, which highlight the nuances and subtleties of those issues.

So long as the storyline remains on the emotional, and not the intellectual, analytical level then the people are easily manipulated by their own need for a self assured grasp of the situation.

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