[Just moving this back to the top for awhile, because it’s got a ton of good information in it, and I didn’t want it to fall into our own ‘Friday News Hole.’ — Melissa]
On September 8, 2002, Scott Ritter addressed the Iraqi Parliament — the first American citizen to do so [all emphasis is mine]:
Thank you Mr President and the members of the Iraqi National Assembly for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. I understand that I appear before you today not only as the first American citizen to address your body, but also as the first non-governmental speaker as well. And I thank you for providing me with this historical opportunity.
As you are well aware, we live in dangerous times with the threat of war looming on the horizon and the harsh reality of life without normalcy stalking your nation and indeed the entire Middle East on a daily basis for well over a decade.
I am here today to discuss this situation with you and share with you my own personal insights and observations as to how this situation might be improved. Before I continue, I would like to offer a word or two about why I am here today and what motivates me to speak before you and the people of Iraq in this manner. For more than twelve years now, I have been involved with issues pertaining to Iraq. First as an officer of the United States Marine Corps participating in combat operations during the Gulf War of 1990-1991. And then, as a UN weapons inspector, a position which I served for nearly seven years from 1991 to 1998, and for the past five years as an advocate of truth in the search for a peaceful resolution to the problems that plague the relations between my country and yours. I appear to you as a private citizen of the United States of America. And while I have a great deal of respect and sympathy for the people of Iraq, I have a greater love for my own country and my people, which is why I am here.
My country seems on the verge of making a historical mistake, one that will forever change the political dynamic which has governed the world since the end of the Second World War; namely, the foundation of international law as set forth in the United Nations Charter, which calls for the peaceful resolution of problems between nations. My government has set forth on a policy of unilateral intervention that runs contrary to the letter and intent of the United Nations Charter.
The consequences of such action are not only dire in terms of their near-term consequences as measured by death, destruction and lost opportunities, but also the long-term global destabilization that will result in the rejection of an international law by the world’s most powerful nation. As someone who counts himself as a fervent patriot and a good citizen of the United States of America, I feel I cannot stand by idly while my country behaves in such a fashion.
My government is making a case for war against Iraq that is built upon the rhetoric of fear and ignorance as opposed to the reality of truth and fact.
We, the people of the United States, are told repeatedly that we face a grave and imminent risk to our national security from a combination of past irresponsible behaviour on the part of Iraq; ongoing efforts by Iraq to reacquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these so-called weapons of mass destruction, which have been banned since 1991 by a Security Council resolution; and Iraq’s status as a state sponsor of terror, specially alleged links between Iraq and the forces of terror that perpetrated the horrific attack against the United States on September 11 of last year.
Let me make myself perfectly clear, if Iraq acts in an aggressive manner against one of its neighbours, launching an unprovoked attack against the territory of a sovereign state and if Iraq continues to possess weapons of mass destruction more than 10 years after the international community banned these weapons or if Iraq was any way involved in the attacks against the United States on September 11 of last year, then I would fully concur with those who said that Iraq is a rogue nation that represents a clear and present risk to international peace and security that must be dealt with harshly. Indeed, I would volunteer my services in such a struggle.
However, the rhetoric of fear that is disseminated by my government and others has not to date been backed up by hard facts that substantiate any allegations that Iraq is today in possession of weapons of mass destruction or has links to terror groups responsible for attacking the United States. Void of such facts all we have is speculation and there is no basis under international law for a nation to go to war against another nation based on speculation alone.
On June 12, 2007, Christopher J. Fettweis, an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College, wrote the following, in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times:
Post-Iraq Traumatic Syndrome
The war is lost. Americans should begin to deal with what that means.
By Christopher J. Fettweis […]
June 12, 2007
LOSING HURTS MORE than winning feels good. This simple maxim applies with equal power to virtually all areas of human interaction: sports, finance, love. And war.
Defeat in war damages societies quite out of proportion to what a rational calculation of cost would predict. The United States absorbed the loss in Vietnam quite easily on paper, for example, but the societal effects of defeat linger to this day. The Afghanistan debacle was an underrated contributor to Soviet malaise in the 1980s and a factor in perestroika, glasnost and eventually the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Defeats can have unintended, seemingly inexplicable consequences.
And as any sports fan can tell you, the only thing that feels worse than a loss is an upset. An upset demands explanation and requires that responsible parties be punished.
The endgame in Iraq is now clear, in outline if not detail, and it appears that the heavily favored United States will be upset. Once support for a war is lost, it is gone for good; there is no example of a modern democracy having changed its mind once it turned against a war. So we ought to start coming to grips with the meaning of losing in Iraq.
The consequences for the national psyche are likely to be profound, throwing American politics into a downward spiral of bitter recriminations the likes of which it has not seen in a generation. It will be a wedge that politicians will exploit for their benefit, proving yet again that politics is the eternal enemy of strategy. The Vietnam syndrome divided this country for decades; the Iraq syndrome will be no different.
The battle for interpretation has already begun, with fingers of blame pointed in all directions in hastily written memoirs. The war’s supporters have staked out their position quite clearly: Attacking Iraq was strategically sound but operationally flawed. Key decisions on troop levels, de-Baathification, the disbanding of the Iraqi army and the like doomed what otherwise would have been a glorious war.
The American people seem to understand, however — and historians will certainly agree — that the war itself was a catastrophic mistake. It was a faulty grand strategy, not poor implementation. The Bush administration was operating under an international political illusion, one that is further discredited with every car bombing of a crowded Baghdad marketplace and every Iraqi doctor who packs up his family and flees his country.
The only significant question still hanging is whether Iraq will turn out to have been the biggest strategic mistake in U.S. history. Vietnam was a much greater moral disaster, of course, and led to far more death and destruction. But, just as the war’s critics predicted in the 1960s, Vietnam turned out to be strategically irrelevant. Saigon fell, but no dominoes followed; the balance of Cold War power did not change.
Iraq has the potential to be far worse. One of the oft-expressed worst-case scenarios for Iraq — a repeat of Lebanon in the 1980s — may no longer be within reach. Lebanon’s simmering civil war eventually burned itself out and left a coherent, albeit weak, state in its ashes. Iraq could soon more closely resemble Somalia in the 1990s, an utterly collapsed, uncontrollable, lawless, failed state that destabilizes the most vital region in the world.
This is not a “We told you so” piece. It’s a “Here we go again” piece. On Sunday, Joe Lieberman aligned himself squarely with the Cheney pro-war faction in the White House by calling for the U.S. to bomb Iran:
“I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said. “And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”
The U.S. accuses Iran of fostering terrorism and Tehran’s nuclear ambitions have brought about international reproach.
Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 who now represents Connecticut as an independent, spoke of Iranians’ role in the continued violence in Iraq.
“We’ve said so publicly that the Iranians have a base in Iran at which they are training Iraqis who are coming in and killing Americans. By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers,” Lieberman said. “Well, we can tell them we want them to stop that. But if there’s any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can’t just talk to them.”
He added, “If they don’t play by the rules, we’ve got to use our force, and to me, that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they’re doing.”
It’s tempting to get caught up in the arrogance and hypocrisy of Lieberman’s words — “they don’t play by the rules”; “living according to the international rule of law.” What’s truly terrifying to me, though, is that more than four years after the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq began, anyone could still believe that “stopping them from doing what they’re doing” is a simple matter of sending a few bombers to strike terrorist training camps (which despite what Lieberman and Cheney say, we don’t have any hard evidence actually exist); or that “stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons development” can be accomplished by “a single Tomahawk (targeted at one of the power transmission towers) [that will] shutdown the enrichment centrifuges,” as one of the military whiz kids at Blue Crab Boulevard tells us.
In other words, in these imbeciles’ video game fantasy world, the bombs are dropped, the training camps and nuclear weapons plants are destroyed, and that’s it. Iran does not retaliate in any way. There are no unforeseen or unpleasant or maybe even disastrous consequences. The training camps are gone, and Iran no longer supplies weapons to Iraqis who are fighting U.S. troops. The centrifuges are destroyed and Iraq no longer has nuclear weapons or the capacity to make them. All is calm, all is bright.
Now here is reality, from the Times Online:
IRAN has threatened to launch a missile blitz against the Gulf states and plunge the entire Middle East into war if America attacks its nuclear facilities.
Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a senior defence adviser to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that Gulf states providing the US with military cooperation would be the key targets of a barrage of ballistic missiles.
Shamkhani told the US journal Defense News that missiles would be launched not only at US military bases but also at strategic targets such as oil refineries and power stations.
Qatar, Bahrain and Oman all host important US bases and British forces are based in all three countries. Any Iranian attack would be bound to draw in the other Gulf Cooperation Council states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The attacks on Arab states would be in addition to airstrikes on Israel, which have been threatened repeatedly. An Iranian foreign ministry official said: “The objective would be to overwhelm US missile defence systems with dozens and maybe hundreds of missiles fired simultaneously at specific
Iran will have plenty of help from Syria:
During most of last week, two high-ranking Iranian delegations spent time in Damascus. One was composed of generals who held talks with Syrian leaders on coordinated preparations for a Middle East war in the coming months.
At the Iranian end, a similar high-ranking Syrian military delegation called in at Iranian army and Revolutionary Guards headquarters to tighten operational coordination between them at the command level, as well as inspecting the Iranian arsenal. The Syrian general staff will draw up a list of items it is short of for a possible military confrontation with Israel this summer.
Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s three days of talks in Damascus at the end of May further consolidated the strategic partnership between the two governments under the mutual defense pact they signed a year ago.
Their deliberations produced concurrence on the following issues:
1. Expanded economic cooperation, i.e. an enlarged Iranian aid package for Syria including monetary assistance and an extra 5 million tons of oil gratis per annum on top of the one million already guaranteed.
Syrian president Bashar Assad drove a hard bargain: He demanded a larger slice of economic aid as the price for entering into strategic cooperation with Iran for the coming war.
2. The Assad government agreed not to take any military – or other steps with military connotations – without prior notice to Tehran and its assent. This clause applies equally to activating the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas’ Damascus headquarters.
3. Reciprocal visits by Syrian and Iranian generals and political officials will be stepped up.
4. In Iraq, Iran and Syria agreed to jointly intensify their terrorist operations against US and British troops.
Iran and Syria decided to join forces as a direct result of reports that the U.S. and Israel have joined forces to attack them before Bush leaves office:
The regime heads in Tehran are basing their common front with Damascus on intelligence reports whereby the US and Israel have drawn up plans for coordinated military action against Iran, Syria and Hizballah in the summer.
According to this hypothesis, Iranian leaders foresee the next UN Security Council in New York at the end of June or early July ending with an American announcement that the sanctions against Tehran are inadequate because Russia and China has toned them down. Therefore, the military option is the only one left on the table. The ayatollahs have concluded that US president George W. Bush is determined to bow out of office on the high note of a glittering military success against Iran to eclipse his failures in Iraq.
They believe he will not risk the lives of more Americans by mounting a ground operation, but rather unleash a broad missile assault that will wipe out Iran’s nuclear facilities and seriously cripple its economic infrastructure.
According to the Iranian scenario, the timeline for hostilities has already been fixed between Washington and Jerusalem – and so has the plan of action. The US will strike Iran first, after which Israel will use the opportunity to go for Syria, targeting its air force, missile bases and deployments, as well as Hizballah’s missile and weapons stocks which Iran replenished this year.
Which means of course that Israel has killed any possibility of peace negotiations with Syria — and apparently that is the way Israel wants it:
Considering the climate in Damascus and Tehran and their active pursuit of preparations for imminent attack, it is not surprising that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert received no reply to the note he sent to Assad proposing peace talks and offering the Golan as an incentive. Assad was not inclined to take the Israeli prime minister seriously. According to DEBKAfile’s sources in Jerusalem, Olmert did not really expect him to. The offer was more in the nature of clearing the decks ahead of Olmert’s White House visit later this month.
As disastrous as the consequences of the Iraq war have been, the consequences of war with Iran could easily be worse. Unlike Iraq in March 2003, Iran has friends and allies all over the globe — Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq itself thanks to Washington’s helpful regime change, possibly Afghanistan and Pakistan, and about half a dozen countries in Latin America.
Ahmadinejad has been assiduously courting his friends to the south of us, for many months now. He met with Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, among other leaders, during his tour of Latin America in January — and Ortega made an official visit to Iran a few days ago:
Iran’s leaders on Sunday held talks with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, emphasising a shared distrust of the United States as Tehran seeks to bolster ties with US critics in Latin America.
Ortega, a Cold War foe of the United States, was welcomed personally at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an unusual step indicating the increasingly warm ties between the two nations.
Ahmadinejad visited Managua in January shortly before Ortega’s swearing-in as president, and the two leaders announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies in their respective capitals.
“We will work together to put in place a world order based on peace and justice,” Ahmadinejad told reporters at the airport, reprising one of his favourite themes.
Ortega is the former Marxist leader of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front that ousted US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and battled US-financed Contra rebels throughout the 1980s.
He spoke of “big political and ideological differences” with the United States and called on Washington to act with mutual respect.
“I am here to reinforce the links with Iran,” said Ortega. …
Ortega later held talks with Iran’s undisputed number one, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who told the Nicaraguan president that “the United States is the most hated government in the world.”
“In recent years in Latin America anti-US governments have taken power and in every country in the Islamic world if there is an election the ones who are most anti-American will win,” said Khamenei, according to the ISNA agency.
Shunned by Western countries for its defiance in the nuclear standoff, Iran has been working to cultivate ties with leftist critics of the United States who have swept to power in Latin America in recent years.
Ahmadinejad has developed an especially strong relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whom he has hailed as an “ideological brother.”
Venezuela has given Iran unstinting support in the standoff over its atomic programme.
Tehran has also boosted ties with other countries which have frosty ties with Washington, notably Belarus whose President Alexander Lukashenko has been condemned by the European Union for rights violations.
Newsweek International pointed out back in February that Washington is worried about the influence of Hizbollah in Latin America:
When Iran’s firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, chose to visit three Latin American capitals earlier this month, there’s little doubt he meant his trip to irritate the Great Satan to the north. Sure enough, it had just that effect; “Iran’s track record does not suggest it wishes to play a constructive role in the hemisphere,” said Eric Watnik, a U.S. State Department spokesman. But U.S. officials are worried about more than just Tehran’s diplomacy these days. They fear that Iran might one day help its terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, set up shop throughout the United States’ backyard. Indeed, Latin America could be emerging as a quiet new front in the war on terror. So far, however, most regional governments remain unmoved by Washington’s requests that they clamp down, and the controversy could further damage some already fragile relationships.
I’m sure those governments will be much more receptive to “Washington’s requests that they clamp down” if Bush launches an aggressive, preemptive attack against Iran without having made any serious attempt at finding a diplomatic solution.
At the same time that the U.S. edges closer and closer to war with a third country in the Middle East, Pres. Bush seems determined to reignite the Cold War — something Melissa wrote about here. In the AP article linked from Melissa’s post, Terence Hunt writes:
President Bush on Tuesday accused Russia of backsliding on democratic reforms but promised President Vladmir Putin he has nothing to fear from a U.S. missile defense shield in Europe. “The Cold War is over,” Bush insisted.
Russia is not our enemy,” Bush emphasized as relations between Washington and Moscow fell deeper into an icy chill with Putin’s threat to retarget rockets at Europe.
In a swift turn of events, China joined Russia in criticizing the U.S. anti-missile system. Then, Bush faulted both Russia and China for their troubled records on democracy.
The accusations and finger pointing created a tense atmosphere for the annual summit of leaders of the world’s most prosperous nations, beginning Wednesday in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Germany. Even before the missile shield dispute, the three-day meeting faced disagreements on issues ranging from global warming to aid for Africa.
U.S.-Russia relations are arguably worse than they have been at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with bitter differences across a range of issues. White House officials say they have been surprised by the depth of Putin’s anger over the missile defense plan.
“Surprised?” Yeah, right. Not surprised enough to take it seriously, apparently — even after Putin retaliated by releasing a shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran:
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 304 disclosed on June 8 that the week before the G8 opened in Germany, Moscow released the long-withheld nuclear fuel for Iran’s atomic reactor in Bushehr. It was delivered 24 hours before Israel launched its new military imaging satellite Ofeq-7, bringing forward the Iranian threat to Israel, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources. One immediate result has been the stiffening of Tehran’s negative posture, sparking what nuclear watchdog director Mohammed ElBaradei called Monday, June 11, a confrontation that needs to be urgently defused.
As DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported, special nuclear containers were loaded on a train in the yard of the manufacturers JSC Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant on June 2-3. They contained two types of nuclear fuel, WER-440 and WER-1000.
The special train then headed out of Novosibirsk to Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, 2,000 km away. There, the containers awaited loading aboard a Russian ship destined for Bandar Anzili, the Iranian military port on the Caspian shore. According to our Iranian sources, a fleet of Iranian trucks was waiting at the other end outside Bandar Anzili port to transport the nuclear fuel and drive it slowly and carefully to Bushehr, a distance of 850km, arriving June 10 or 11.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly went on to report that Putin never promised Bush that Russia would deny Iran the nuclear fuel for its Bushehr reactor in perpetuity, as some administration circles in Washington have claimed in the last two years. He did assure Washington, mainly in conversations with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that he would postpone delivery as long as he could, despite Moscow’s contractual commitments to Tehran.
The Bush administration’s plan to deploy missiles in East Europe made the Russian president mad enough to set this assurance aside.
This comes on top of Putin’s threat to aim Russia’s (potentially nuclear) missile systems at European targets in what the Globe and Mail called “a threat not uttered since the Cold War.” It’s in addition to Putin’s announcement that he was suspending Russia’s participation in a key arms control treaty, as well as the news that Iran and North Korea have clinched a deal to supply Iran with long-range ballistic missiles that will “triple [Iran’s] long-range missile arsenal and upgrade its range and quality.”
Recall what Mohamed el-Baradei said earlier this month in a BBC radio documentary:
Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described those wanting to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities as “new crazies”.
After Iraq, Dr ElBaradei said he did not want to see “another war”.
He made his comments in an interview for a two part BBC Radio 4 documentary broadcast on 31 May and 7 June.
This is not the first time that Dr ElBaradei has spoken out against the possibility of using force against Iran, but it is perhaps his strongest warning to date.
Tehran is still refusing to bow to demands from the UN Security Council to halt its uranium enrichment programme, which the United States fears would give it access to material for a bomb.
Dr ElBaradei said a nuclear-armed Iran would be terrible but the jury was still out as to whether the country even wanted nuclear weapons.
But he said you could not “bomb knowledge”, and he was scathing towards those who still favoured air strikes after the experience of intervention in Iraq.
“I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis innocent civilians are dying,” he said.
“I have no brief other than to make sure we don’t go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.'”
Asked who the “new crazies” were he replied: “Those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.”
I hope I’m wrong, but I very much fear that something really bad is going to happen.