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23 March 2012


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"Who has the best INTEL on Iranian capabilities and motivations, the US or Israel?"



If the Gentleman from Persia believes it is the US's fault for the current situation in diplomatic realtions, then will he inform us of the Islamic Republic of Iran's proposal to resolve outstanding issues and concerns?

Seems I have missed that one.

Babak Makkinejad

I am tired also of debating people whose chief complaint is that Iran is not governed, domestically, like US or Denmark.

Well, where is this Muslim utopia of excellence in governance and brilliance in law; I want to anchor my sould to it.

Where is it, which Muslim country and at what period of history meets your approval by the standards of adherence to the ideas of representative government and the rule of law?

You and many others keep on focusing on US domestic politics and predicate your understanding on it.

I, however, while cognizant of that, also am looking at the pan-European project of economic warfare against Iran.

You cannot explain that - against multiple changes of governments and personnel.

In Spain, for example, the policy has been pursued under both conservative and socialist governments.

This is a pan-NATO project; no doubt - thought had gone into the structure of the most recent European snactions - they preceeded the Republican campaigns in US.

Ultimately, every country deserves the government that it has, including both US and Iran.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not assign fault to US, but to US and EU leaders and planners who escalated, in my opinion, to strategic nowhere; I suppose they wanted to fully enjoy their asymmetry of power vs. Iran.

I am unaware of any recent Iranian proposals that could help resolve the difference between the two states across the multiple issues of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Persian Gulf, NPT, and Afghanistan.

There might be some give on the NPT-related issues, however.

But even for that we have to wait and see what happens on and after April 13.


Now that we have the Iranian's embargoed into surrender they probably are willing to talk:

Talk about what? The insanity that Dennis Ross is trying to propagate? The Iranians are enriching with gas centrifuges. You cannot make a weapon out of a gas fuel. You need a metal, which knowledgable nuclear experts say takes 15 years to accomplish (gas to metal). The profound idiocy of the Israeli argument is mind-blowing in its rank stupidity (as in low I.Q.).

The only thing to talk about is how dumb the Israelis are in trying to push this argument that the even dumber Americans are falling for . . . courtesy of Fox News, et al.

Talk? Yeah. Da-da-goo-goo.

Babak Makkinejad

One can consider a hypothetical-to-the-extreme situation in which, through an Act of God, a miracle, Israel and Palestinians sign a peace deal that the all Arabs & Muslim states will have no political room to rejects.

Does anyone expect the US-EU project against Iran to have ended then?

Jews and Israel are once again being made escape goats.

If I were a Jew, I would take very strong objection to that.


MRW, this surely isn't my expertise, but doesn't surprise me either. Media and PR or special interests? Ultimately all is about the power to shape perception.

I give you one of the definitions of PR over here, putting it really bluntly:

Public Relations:

Construction of desirable realities

Relying on the findings of constructivism (especially that reality can be determined just as much by fictions than by facts) Merten and Westerbarkey define Public relations as a "process for the construction of desirable realities".

What surprised, it probably shouldn't, to what extend people, or in my case a specific individual, already struggled with this realization in the early 20th century, especially concerning the celebration of war in a feuilleton style. Some things never change.

I should have known of course, since there is also this. Media owners knew this for a very, very long time:
"News is what someone does not want you to print - the rest is advertising,"
Randolph Hearst

David Habakkuk

F.B. Ali,

Thinking back over what I had written about policy-making in Britain, I wondered whether I might have been over-egging the pudding, in my eagerness to disabuse Babak Makkinejad of a propensity to attribute to current Western policy-making a coherence which I do not think it possesses.

But while I might have been more qualified on a few points, I think the situation really is very bad. Particularly worrying is the apparent inability to learn from experience. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we have ended up with strategic disasters as the result of a combination of ludicrous threat inflation, and the confusion of what it would be nice to able to achieve, and what it is realistically possible to expect can be achieved.

And here we are, doing precisely the same in relation to Iran -- deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have put it.

As to what precisely in our political systems has changed, to make us not simply so insouciant about the suffering our policies inflict on others but also about the dangers they create for ourselves, I am still puzzled.

Part of what is I think so puzzling is brought out by the comment by Sir Michael Howard which 'walrus' quoted. Discussing the background to the outbreak of war in 1914, Howard observed that Wilhelm II 'in his person embodied three qualities that can be said to have characterized the contemporary German ruling elite: archaic militarism, vaulting ambition, and neurotic insecurity.'

It used to be a common assumption in both Britain and the United States -- and it was I think one that both Churchill and Roosevelt shared -- that the problem with Germany had quite precisely to do with the predominance of 'archaic' elements.

It was the political power of the Prussian Junkers, and the way that their values shaped those of post-1871 Germany as a whole, which was held to be the root cause of German 'militarism'. The underlying assumption was that, in a properly 'modern' world, such 'militarism' had no place.

Given the highly problematic position of Israel, it is not so surprising that, as 'walrus' noted, Howard's description of Wilhelm II could be applied to Netanyahu. What is baffling is that it could very easily be applied to Dick Cheney, and to a substantial section of the political elite in the contemporary United States -- which is supposedly the archetype of 'modernity', and enjoys a highly favourable strategic environment.

Moreover, with only slight qualification, Howard's description could be applied to Tony Blair, which is particularly ironical as his whole career has been constructed on a self-presentation as a 'moderniser'.

It is difficult here to separate out structural causes from the element of fluke. That Britain should have ended up being ruled for a decade by a Prime Minister with Tony Blair's peculiar combination of arrogance and wilful ignorance about foreign affairs -- exemplified by the fact that as late as 2006 he appears not to have known who Mossadeq was -- is partly just bad luck.

(On the hair-raising extent of Blair's ignorance, see http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2011/09/iran-blair-tony-afghanistan )

In fairness, there have been signs of Cameron moving towards more reasonable positions on Israel/Palestine. What however has been deeply depressing is that the familiar semi-covert alliance of American and British neoconservatives with absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere has been wheeling back into action in relation to Syria, as well as Iran.

While I certainly would not swallow everything which the former MI6 officer Alastair Crooke and his partner Aisling Byrne write uncritically, when I followed the link in Crooke's Guardian article of last November to the article in 'Foreign Policy' about harnessing Prince Bandar, I did not come away feeling reassured.

(See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/04/syria-iran-great-game )

When it comes to the notion that one can make use of Sunni jihadists without risking serious 'blowback', deja vu all over again is not an appealling prospect.

But in any case, it seems to me that the prospects of the kinds of strategies being pursued towards Syria and Iran producing good outcomes are poor. Moreover, the disregard for potentially negative outcomes for themselves in Western policymaking has become breathtaking.

Yesterday 'Forbes' noted how following the exclusion of Iranian banks from the SWIFT system, 'India has been told to cooperate or suffer the consequences implying tacitly that payments network sanctions are a real possibility.'

(See http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/03/27/the-payments-network-as-economic-weapon/ )

This kind of coercive economic diplomacy, applied to India of all countries, creates massive incentives for governments to move away from the use of the dollar as a global reserve currency. If the rational self-interest of Wall Street institutions dictated American foreign policy, it simply would not happen.

(See http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/03/27/the-payments-network-as-economic-weapon/ )

So a discussion on the relationship between such developments and the decline of 'good governance' in the United States and Britain would certainly appear to be timely.


MRW, related to what David discussed under trauma, I would like to add this:

Can somebody get the neocons and their hawkish liberal brothers to switch their minds from constantly reminding us of 1938, with the accompanying theme of new Hitlers & Arab antisemitism, back to 1914. After all that's were it all started. But maybe it's too late already.

I started last year to dive deeper into the late 19 early 20th century history of Germany and Austria, with special attention on the self-hating Jews. The following is from an exhibition catalog about Karl Kraus. If I ever knew Austria annexed Bosnia only in 1909, I forgot till then. Nothing new under the stars not even the use of falsified documents. The Niger paper style tricks can't be used again. Or maybe they can. People forget.


"The war would be a tolerable tribunal, if it wasn't the continuation of a crime." The aphorism from the collection of "Night" written in 1915, reminds us how this to this day is put to test.

... When the Foreign Ministry of the Austrian empire in 1909 Wanted to give it's annexation of Bosnia the resemblance of reasonablness through falsified documents in the public, the historian Heinrich Friedjung published in the "Free New Press" all the good reasons for the annexation. His conclusions subsequently led to the war of 1914, even though his suppositions by then had been demonstrated to be wrong.


Testing comments on Chrome.



It seems to me elements of hubris and delusion developed, particularly with elimination of the restraint provided by the threat of Soviet intervention.

I recall in the lead up to the Iraq invasion the regular talking point of being greeted as liberators. Cheney's "it's do-able" response to Prince Faisal. No thought whatsoever about the post-invasion civil administration. The extent of propaganda from Condi's "mushroom clouds" to Colin Powell's UN farce and all the planted media stories. The vindictiveness towards Gen. Shinseki and Joe Wilson. It seems to me that there is something beyond "archaic militarism, vaulting ambition and neurotic insecurity".

I am more in tune with the financial world and what I notice is that the current political system in both the west and east are seemingly incapacitated to address the deep structural instabilities. In the US, the simplest example is the unsustainable growth rate in healthcare costs. Take federal government expenditures on healthcare - it has grown from around $55 billion in 1980 to $800 billion in 2011 - a 9% CAGR; which if continued at the same rate of the past 30 years would double in 8 years to $1,600 billion. The total receipts of the federal government today is around $2,600 billion. If the historical empirical evidence of the Reinhart & Rogoff study pans out prospectively, we can only expect subdued economic growth due to the elevated federal debt load. So, in a good scenario federal expenditures on healthcare would likely be 50% of federal receipts in 2019 - something that just cannot happen - unless defense and other transfer payments are slashed dramatically. Now, lets take the case of Japan, a homogenous society with a culture quite different to the west. Since the bursting of their financial bubble in late 1989, their property and equity markets have declined some 70% over the past 2 decades. Their government has followed neo-keynesian policies and has "stimulated" their economy to the tune of government debt/GDP now in excess of 200%. Even greater than Greece! Yet, their nominal GDP has not grown in years and now with a declining population are showing early signs of a lack of international competitiveness. Their political system was unable to address head-on the insolvency of their banking system when their financial bubble collapsed. They too just kicked the can down the road. Next, let's look at China, the growth story of the past 2 decades, where vast amounts of capital have been misallocated in dubious fixed investments with low to no return. When the 2008 western financial crisis hit, China's political system had an opportunity to address these misallocations, instead they inflated it further with a credit expansion of over $1 trillion in a $4.5 trillion economy in 2008. Consequently, the problem is now even larger.

It seems to me that worldwide even with different political systems and cultural environments we are all proceeding with ad hoc responses to deep structural issues, trying to sustain the unsustainable in the hope that magically these structural instabilities will just go away.


Babak, if it is in fact the old scapegoat scenario, what does this celebration signify? And what do think in means that Obama's demand the settlement expansion stops is completely of the US table by now?


Israeli campaign worked

Op-ed: Western oil embargo imposed on Iran can be credited to Israel’s strike threats

It certainly looks as though the Israeli campaign launched during the previous fall, where rumors of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran were disseminated, secured its objectives. Western statesmen clung to this campaign and utilized it in order to impose on Iran the devastating sanctions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded two years ago already.

Babak Makkinejad

US-EU leaders hid behind Jews, Israel, AIPAC etc.

Jews have become escape-goats; yet again.

Again, assume a situation that there is no war in Palestine between Arabs and Israelis; does anyone seriously believe that US-EU confrontation with Iran would not have existed?

I do feel sorry for Israelis and Jews, they have become the alibi of the US and EU leaders for their brain-damaged Iran policy.


Zanzibar, can you explain to an economical nitwit, what exactly Goldberg is trying to propagate in this context:


Netanyahu Sees Strike on Iran’s Nukes as Worth the Risk

First, they [Israelis] believe that there is still some time before Iran enters the “zone of immunity,” in which its nuclear sites are so hardened or spread so widely that a strike would be ineffective. And second, because Iran has not yet approached the zone of immunity, Israeli leaders believe they can still pay heed to Obama’s request to hold off. (Ultimately, they will make their own decision about a strike, but they believe they should heed the wishes of Israel’s most important ally while they can.)

When Israeli leaders conclude that Iran (IATBXOIL) has reached the threshold of the zone of immunity, there’s a strong likelihood they will act.

Iran Oil and Gas Exports,IATBXOIL:IND Link:


David Habakkuk


As I understand it, Karl Kraus -- to whom you referred in your previous comment -- thought that part of the background to the outbreak of war in 1914 was the effects of cliche-ridden journalism on the capacity to imagine.

The habit of talking and thinking in sentimental cliche seems common enough among contemporary politicians and journalists. I have doubts as to whether the European leaders who have succumbed to Netanyahu's blackmail can really imagine where all this might lead.

And I have no doubt whatsoever that Goldberg is simply incapable of imagining the possibility that a war with Iran which goes badly could have seriously negative effects for the very favourable position Jews have enjoyed in the United States over the past decades.

Contrary to what Babak Makkinejad appears to think, however, I am not saying this because I view the prospect of a revival of anti-Semitism with equanimity, still less enthusiasm. This is the precise reverse of the truth. There are few things I would like to see less.

Incidentally, I came across Karl Kraus through the writings of one of two Jews I knew who made it over here in 1939, Joseph Peter Stern, to whom I referred in an earlier comment.

He was a scholar of modern German literature, but also wrote a notable essay entitled The Fuhrer and the People. The 1990 edition, which includes an interesting preface to a samizdat edition for his Czech fellow-countrymen, can be obtained for 0.01p on Amazon, and is well worth it.

Checking with Google recently, I discovered that during the war Stern served with 311 Squadron, the Czech bomber squadron in the RAF. The two missing fingers on the hand curling around his pipe were, I now learn, the result of being shot down while on an anti-submarine patrol over the Bay of Biscay.

Although my German is not good enough to make much sense of Kraus in the original, his satires on 'civilian militarists' made an impression.

And indeed, when I first came across Richard Perle -- when we had him on a satellite link from Washington on a programme I produced, back in 1986 -- he reminded me of some monstrous apparition out of Kraus' play 'The Last Days of Mankind'.


Babak, you managed to get me into a state of utter confusion and heightened fears that Pat has been correct all along.

Strictly during the urge and drive for war against Iraq that scenario has been on my mind a lot. Do you believe that the 2000 years of Jewish victimhood is a reality not partly a post Holocaust construction?

I noticed you don't respect Obama, but this strictly is nothing new, Michael Brenner among others had harsh words for him too. But do you honestly believe the scenario Goldberg paints with Netanyahu and Obama--or a good cop / bad cop team-- are in fact close allies working towards the same ends? No troubles between them?

You realize, I would need to completely distrust my impressions over the last couple of years to embrace your reality? Or is this a rather naive assumption, and not even necessary to understand Netanyahu, since in fact understands what Europe and the US want to get what he wants himself, a free hand on the land of the Palestinians in Gaza and the WB? In other words that Israel acts straightforward and that Europe and the US as of old always hide their real intentions?

Babak Makkinejad

In regards to Mr. Obama, I believe him to have been a good president for the United States. His election also has been seminal event for the United States as it ended the claim that a Black man (or a non-European) could not get a fair deal there.

But I also believe that his policies in the Middle East are continuation of Mr. Bush's.

I think the only recent positive development has been his very late de facto acknowledgement that war (with Iran) is not cheap and directly confirming many of the assertions of the Iranian leaders.

I understand that the post-Holocaust construction in Europe and in North America has led to a Cult of Shoah; that only Jews are entitled to have any religion or religious feelings.

But I do not believe in those constructs.

I must say that I find your phrase “my reality” amusing. I still have to visit to toilet occasionally, even in my reality.

I would never underestimate anti-Semitism in Europe. That is why I doubt very much that EU leaders have been moving against Iran for the love of Jews or Israel. They are, as you say, hiding their intentions; in my opinion.

For arguing otherwise one would be suggesting that the enhancement of Iranian power after the destruction of the Ba’athist state in Iraq and the near departure of NATO from Afghanistan have very little bearing on US-EU policy choices.

Look, I asked earlier from everyone on this forum to please supply their guess as to the contribution of Jews, AIPAC, Israel, and assorted fellow-travelers to the coercive US-EU diplomacy against Iran.

Nobody has volunteered any guesses – not even “100%”.

Please post yours.


David, I didn't notice this. No Rachkovsky and/or Golovinskij can't have been involved in the matter; I made a slight mistake above. Already at the time of the Bern trials Boris Nicolaevskij, the Russian historian working both for the plaintiffs in Bern and later for Norman Cohn, knew this, but remained silent. It would have harmed the strategy at the time, to stop the distribution in Switzerland.

I am fan of Michael Hagemeister ever since I encountered his work on the Protocols. He is working towards a biography of Sergej Nilus, who published the Protocols as an appendix to his book from 1905 on. There is even more myth surrounding him.

His site at Basel University is still online,
download two of the files they contain the basics. The site is in German but some of the essays marked red are in English and can be downloaded as pdf.files.


Russian Emigrés in the Bern Trial of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (1933-1935)

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - Between Histroy (typo) and Fiction

Charles I

there is enthusiasm, and then there is Faith

Charles I

They currently comprise a significant force in the current Canadian government, and they are very very well connected, schooled and supported by their international cohort.



I did not see any economic arguments in Goldberg's note.

The below linked WSJ article provides a viewpoint on Iranian crude exports.




My laymans guess is, US domestic politics - 70% and creating some doubt in Bibi's mind that the US may not save his bacon if he strikes - 30%. As far as UK and EU, my guess is follow the American lead - 100%. France could run an independent line if Hollande wins the presidency.

You had mentioned about Spain. You think Spain can have a ME policy independent and contrary to the US and EU? Spain is in a depression in employment terms currently - 25% headline and 50% youth unemployment. I am sure the politicians there are just trying to keep a lid on it all.


David, I wasn't aware of the second page of the comments till yesterday, thus a little late. The book you mention immediately drew my attention when you mentioned Stern.

Kraus isn't so easy to read for us Germans either. If you want to understand all his allusions, you need a solid knowledge of the historical and local context, but also knowledge about the people, news and affairs he writes about.

Fascinating man, whose work perfectly mirrors the time, as well as the struggle as artist and Jew with the ideologies around him. What makes him a simply antisemite in some people's eyes, is that he objected just as much with "the 8neo)liberal Jewish press", he surely overdid occasionally, as with its crude antisemitic counterpart, which he mainly ridiculed.

But Kraus the "antisemite" is only an easy judgement in hindsight. My next close up journey will be his reactions to the Dreyfuss affair. But with this in mind: ww.georgewhyte.org/publication.html
it admittedly feels, his reactions couldn't have been different, considering he was an assimilationist. When I read George Whytes book I often wondered, if the fact that Dreyfuss was not only a Jew but also an Alsatian could have provided the ideal profile. There was after all a real spy the Germans had recruited. Misjudgments based on secret and constructed evidence after all can't only happen to someone who is Jewish. Kraus surely will be a longer journey for me, my artistic anchor while lookin at the times from his perspective.

There is much talk about his silence when the Nazis gained power, but he in fact wrote that words failed him. He simply had no tools of cultural critique or satire that he considered fit to handle the problem. It was beyond ridicule, he was terrified.

I have troubles with the preview option with both Nightly and Firefox, while with Chrome the preview option doesn't work. I wonder if this is only my system. I'll find out.


Thanks Zanzibar, so he only relies on the theorem: try out the money sources. But the way he squeezes in IATBXOIL still doesn't make sense.

1) paragraph: Zone of immunity = process of harding nuclear sites.
2) zone of immunity will be reached in spite of the sanctions and embargo? Iran = IATBXOIL:IND

I still find this confusing. But maybe that is Goldberg's point.

The equation reminds me of the many racist statements one encountered on the "net" under Bush43's reign, all from the hawkishly pro-Israel crowd:
these damned sand niggers/camel drivers for shear luck/fortune sit on the world's oil reserves

Why the worlds? Surely if "the world" buys it than it is theirs, not before.

David Habakkuk


In fact, the famous statement about having nothing to say about Hitler 'mir fallt zu Hitler nichts ein' -- comes at the start of polemic of more than three hundred pages, which unfortunately is way behind my competence in German even to attempt to read.

My German is however up to making sense of the poem he wrote at the same time:

Man frage nicht, was all dir Zeit ich machte./Ich bleibe stumm;/ und sage nicht, warum./Und still gibt es, da dir Erde krachte./Kein Wort, das traf;/man spricht nur aus dem Schlaf./Und traumt von einer Sonne, welche lachte./Es geht vorbei;/nacher war's einerlei./Das Word entschlief, as jene Welt erwachte.


Babak, if you feel "your reality" is somehow insulting, I appologize. I am not want to judge to what extend, but obviously your reality somehow differs from mine; although I am completely on your side concerning Mossadeq.

Mind you, I am with you also that "the lobby" couldn't be effective without catering to other power players' desires, or use the same core Western political/power tool-box: Machiavelli as everbody else in the West. The looby only happens to stick out it's head more prominently, than other forces. Israel or then Sharon, and AIPAC lobbied for force against Iran, together with neocons and their media since the AIPAC congress in 2005. At least that was the time it became part of my reality.

Google: AIPAC sponsored bills Iran

AIPAC: legislative agenda

I am using the numbers you rely on in your argument when people seem to exaggerate the power of Mossad. Can Mossad be more effective than the well-funded services of the US? I somehow doubt. But it surely is active.

The ideology-production of the "clash of cultures", not the original text, relies to a vast extend on hawkishly pro-Israel ideologues, mainly Jewish but not only, thinktanks, institutions and scholars. It feels the politicization of schorlaryship started in the 80s, but it was not part of "my reality" at the time, I simply wasn't aware of it.

Below is only the latest scholarly production in the field, in it's extreme the "pan-Muslim conspiracy". This is part of what I wrote yesterday, trying to open a window for you into "my changing reality" during the last decade, but decided your question would need more reflection and time to distinguish and formulate; and ultimately to condense meaningfully. This is at the center of my interests.

The pan-Muslim conspiracy

The hardly hidden Arabo- or Muslimophobia, I was completely unaware of before, was more and more developed, into an exquisite conspiracy scenario, a pan-Muslim threat to the West, an imminent threat off a Muslim takeover of the West. And you are right, the network has European supporters too that not only coined e.g.: Londonistan, Europistan but I am deviating. ... In Germany part of it are the "anti-Germans"... Some of them pushed for legal ground to make Anti-Israel="New Antisemitism" and thus illegal and finable in the EU. I do not doubt that there is sometimes a relation, but ...

If you look closer into the sponsorship of these often scholarly attempts at perception management, who do you find?

see e.g. Jim Lobe's articles on the network behind the creation and distribution of Obsession

listen to or read the "scholar" Robert Wistrich, I haven't read it yet admittedly, and I don't want to imply either that all is scholarship is dubious.

You Tube: Jihad and the Spread of Islamism - Robert Wistrich

Robert Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, Random House, 2010

It would take much longer to carefully reflect and answer your question. There obviously are fields that attract me more than others, as suggested above in my maybe too spontaneous "meme" allusion. Even in me reading it partly produces the reaction--Algeria was frightening to watch from far decades ago, but I don't have up to date knowledge about it--what if it is true?

What is really confusing, is that we have two conspiracy theories facing each other, with the Muslim/Islamist threat--the latter surely exists, but rarely is treated in a non-simplistic fashion--on one side of the power struggle. Is it any wonder while struggling with it "the mirror" was on my mind quite often.

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