U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, whose relationship with President Obama dates back to Obama’s days in the Senate, made headlines this week with his statement, in an address to Israel’s bar association, that America’s military option against Iran is “not just available,” but “ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” see here. Commenting on these remarks, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today, see here,
“Let me just make clear that Ambassador Shapiro’s comments were designed to reflect completely what the President has said all along, which is that even as we move forward with the P5+1 discussions with Iran and hope that we can settle these issues through diplomacy, that we nonetheless take no option off the table.”
Against these remarks by Ambassador Shapiro and Ms. Nuland, we juxtapose one of the more striking pieces of commentary we have read since last month’s nuclear talks in Istanbul between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 countries—an article from Mehdi Mohammadi, published in Kayhan. Mohammadi has written important and insightful pieces in the past. We provide below an English translation, titled “What Did Not Take Place,” below. For the original text, see here.
Mohammadi’s analysis is especially interesting with regard to the U.S. military option against Iran. In the middle of his analysis, he also makes an arresting factual claim: that President Obama, “in a letter written to Iran this past winter, announced openly that the military option from his country’s perspective is not on the table.”
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
What Did Not Take Place
By Mehdi Mohammadi, domestic political analyst and contributor to Kayhan
A useful way of truly understanding what took place in the Istanbul talks [in April] is to analyze these talks through the lens of “what did not take place.”
From about six months before these negotiations and with the memories of the Istanbul I talks still on the Westerner’s minds, the primary concern of the P5+1 was that of how to force Iran to end its perseverance and to adjust its strategic calculus.
First of all, the most immediate issue for the United States and Israel was to halt Iranian uranium enrichment from progressing any further than where it currently stood. Therefore, a wave of “semi-hard power” operations in the form of cyber attacks, assassinating nuclear scientists, restricting the imports of certain materials and components to Iran, and most important of all, the cutting off what the Americans call the “source of funding” for the nuclear program has been undertaken. However, if we use the criterion of the expansion of installations and the amount of nuclear materials produced by Iran as a measure for the acceleration or deceleration of Iran’s nuclear program, these operations have achieved none of their goals. Scientists have been assassinated, but this affair has only convinced other scientists that they must work harder and take revenge for their martyrs. Cyber attacks were carried out against nuclear facilities but the only result was that not only did Iranian specialists learn defensive technological skills, but they quickly became capable of carrying out widespread cyber attacks in enemy territory. The sanctions prompted Iranian producers to search for new methods and in a short time this lead to self-reliance in certain areas which prior to the sanctions were dependent on imports. The financial resource for Iran’s nuclear program has not been cut off, since the increased oil revenue due to the psychological effect of the sanctions – keep in mind that the oil sanctions neither from Europe nor America have been enacted so far and it is all talk until now — has been much greater than the effect of the tiny amount of reduction Iranian oil exports have experienced.
Therefore, Iran was supposed to enter the Istanbul 2 negotiations with its nuclear program on the verge of bankruptcy. However, Iran entered the negotiations with the Fordo [plant] on the verge of operations, it had produced more than 100 kilos of 20% enriched nuclear materials and a few thousand reserve kilos of 5% enriched uranium, it had loaded the domestically produced fuel into the Tehran reactor and tested it successfully, and the determination of new nuclear sites had been completed and programs for the increase in nuclear production had been announced.
Western “semi-soft power” operations neither stopped nor slowed Iran’s nuclear progress, instead they had only resulted in the deepening, quickening, and immunization of the program and this was the first pillar upon which Iran’s negotiation strategy in Istanbul was founded upon.
Secondly, before the Istanbul talks, all of the West’s efforts went into convincing Iran that if negotiations did not go forward as some of the P5+1 members wished, the military option was firmly on the table. Based on a division of labor between America and Israel, Israel was supposed to threaten Iran with military attacks if it did not relinquish its nuclear program, and America was supposed to back up these threats. The Israeli theory was that if America did not approve of the threats, Iran would not take them as being credible, and the threats would not be taken seriously. However, was it really intended for someone to attack Iran? It has in fact been revealed that such a plan was not in the works from the very beginning.
The objectives of the American and Israeli military threat project were twofold:
First, the analytical consensus for the Israelis and Americans was that Iran would only cease its nuclear program when it felt that the pressure on its program was morphing into a threat to the existence of the Islamic Republic. The result of this Israeli presumption was that in order for Iran to cease its nuclear program, Iran must foresee the threat to its own existence, which is not possible unless Iran feels that the West is willing to even go as far as militarily attacking Iran in order to prevent its nuclearization. The reason that Barack Obama stated in his speech at the last AIPAC conference that his government’s policies in regards to Iran was not one of containment or prevention but rather intended to stopping Iran’s nuclear program, was precisely to send the message to Iran that America saw the risks associated with military confrontation with Iran as being less than that of the risks associated with Iran’s nuclearization. In sum, Israel wanted America to explicitly announce that all options, especially the military one, were on the table and to make the criterion for the use of such options very clear to Iran.
Second, the Israelis believe that the world would not accept the tightening of sanctions against Iran unless it felt that resisting against these sanctions may lead to the ignition of a new war in the region. The threat of attack, in essence, is a tool to force countries such as members of the European Union to tighten sanctions, and thus the analysis of some Western strategists is completely accurate that the most extreme option America and Israel can take against Iran is sanctions. The evaluation is that an attack is basically not one of the possible options, it is strictly a tool through which to make effective the sanctions option, a tool which they imagine furthers the effects of sanctions on Iran and also forces various countries to take the enforcement of sanctions more seriously.
Very well, so what has become the fate of this grand project of psychological warfare, and have the Westerners been able to bake any bread out of this oven they have built for the Istanbul talks? The fate of this project to create a credible military threat is truly quite full of lessons. At the beginning the Americans accepted the argument that if Iran sees a credible military threat on the table — and from America, not Israel — it will have a reason to back down. Therefore, American officials began threatening Iran by stating that their military capability for confronting Iran’s nuclear facilities is sufficient, that their plans for attack were almost complete and that no option has been excluded. However, astonishingly, the effects of this rhetoric were not at all what America had envisioned nor what Israel had predicted.
First of all, Iran quickly responded and conducted special military operations which demonstrated that not only could it defend itself against any attack, but if necessary, that it could carry out preventive operations before the enemy takes action and at a stage when threats are still being made. Subsequently, the Americans saw that their activities which were intended to keep tensions with Iran at a controlled level, could quickly slip out of hand and at any moment there was a possibility that a self-confident Iran could move America towards a deadly, albeit unwanted, conflict. The reason why Barack Obama, in a letter written to Iran this past winter, announced openly that the military option from his country’s perspective is not on the table, was exactly because the Americans saw that Iran was not afraid but in fact was preparing for war!
Secondly, the repeated threats against Iran drove up the price of oil (and as a result Iran’s revenues) sharply, doubling the stagnation of the the half-alive world economy, and with the unprecedented rise in gasoline prices, brought about serious domestic political problems for America and European countries. Indeed, the Americans felt that this ridiculous rhetoric is producing an opposite effect, it has not actually harmed Iran but instead it might at any moment bring about their own downfall and it was for this reason that Barack Obama stated visibly this past Isfand month (March) that whomever talks of attacking Iran are nonsensical fools who are lying to the American people about the potential cost of such an act.
The delectable result is this: while the project for creating a “credible military threat” was meant to make Iran scared and passive, it has unexpectedly and in a short time revealed the secret that the biggest opponent of this option is the American government itself, meaning the same government which was supposed to make the threats seem credible by putting on a show! Not only was the military threat without credit, but it was taken off the table not by the Iranians but by the Americans with unprecedented clearness, and the American representatives came to Istanbul knowing that the threats of attacking Iran were regarded by Iran as nothing but a bad joke and it was for this reason that neither the Americans nor the other members of the P5+1 even came close to expressing such threats [during negotiations].
Up until this point I have only discussed two of the factors which were supposed to occur at Istanbul but did not. There are at least three other factors which can be discussed but there is not enough opportunity to do so at this point. When these three factors are discussed properly and the arguments as to why these factors that the Americans wanted did not come into being are reviewed, then can it be clearly understood why the P5+1 participated in the Istanbul II talks from a weak position.
We are grateful to Mohammad Sagha, a senior in political science and economics at DePaul University for this translation.
TEHRAN — Iranian lawmakers issued a statement on Sunday asking the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1) to respect Iran’s nuclear rights in the upcoming nuclear talks.
“We warn the P5+1 to respect the rights of the Iranian nation, act on the basis of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which is an internationally accepted norm,” the statement was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
The lawmakers urged the world powers to act “free from the Zionists’ (Israeli) pressures and change the policy of confrontation with the Islamic Republic to a policy of interaction, ” read the statement. … Full article
For being a good little spokesman for the globalist thieves, Bono gets another payoff that maybe could make him the richest musician on the planet.
Not much new here. Just another example of social engineering to get us to support the rape of Africa…..all for the children of course. Bono is now shilling for Monsanto and friends and partners with Hillary and Obama. He works the crowd and shows us how selling out is profitable.
Google is making a big change to how it displays results in its dominant search engine. It is rolling out a new feature called the Knowledge Graph which breaks from the traditional practice of matching keywords with webpages.
According to an article on Blog Tips about Google’s Knowledge Graph, immediate answers or “facts” from pre-selected sources like the CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, and the World Bank will be provided in search results along side the organic results:
Instead of using the typical search strength of a particular answer, this new feature will draw ‘facts’ from places like Wikipedia for historical information, CIA World Factbook for geopolitical answers, the World Bank for economic facts, Freebase for information about people and other predetermined sources.
This move by Google seems eerily similar to Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in that search results, or “answers and facts”, will no longer be gathered based on the algorithmic popularity of content, but rather selected by Google.
Sure, most would argue that Wikipedia does a pretty good job through its open-source format to nail down basic facts. However, the CIA and the World Bank are organizations with agendas sometimes counter to the truth, and making them the authority on facts gives them tremendous power to shape public knowledge.
Google also explains how it will collect data on you using the Knowledge Graph:
Google-owned Freebase will also be used in the Google Knowledge Graph. Freebase is a massive database, which according to Singularity Hub already “has data on over 24 million people, places, and things.”
Google then combines its Freebase with Metaweb algorithms to connect everything and everyone. For the purposes of improving searches, this may be wonderful, but it’s the exact type of software that can easily build and organize a profile on all Internet users.
Watch how they’re already connecting your data points below:
So besides relying on the CIA and the World Bank to force feed Internet users “facts”, they will also construct and display how each person appears in these new searches.
An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.
The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.
The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mark Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”
The bill’s supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.
Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.
“Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,” says Michael Shank, Vice President at the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington D.C. “That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators – who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous.”
“I just don’t want to see something this significant – whatever the pros and cons – go through without anyone noticing,” says one source on the Hill, who is disturbed by the law. According to this source, the law would allow “U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population.”
The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”
According to this official, “senior public affairs” officers within the Department of Defense want to “get rid” of Smith-Mundt and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.
The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.
In an apparent retaliation to the USA Today investigation, the two reporters working on the story appear to have been targeted by Pentagon contractors, who created fake Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in an attempt to discredit them.
(In fact, a second amendment to the authorization bill — in reaction to the USA Today report — seeks cuts to the Pentagon’s propaganda budget overseas, while this amendment will make it easier for the propaganda to spread at home.)
The evaporation of Smith-Mundt and other provisions to safeguard U.S. citizens against government propaganda campaigns is part of a larger trend within the diplomatic and military establishment.
In December, the Pentagon used software to monitor the Twitter debate over Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing; another program being developed by the Pentagon would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets; and, last year, General William Caldwell, deployed an information operations team under his command that had been trained in psychological operations to influence visiting American politicians to Kabul.
The upshot, at times, is the Department of Defense using the same tools on U.S. citizens as on a hostile, foreign, population.
A U.S. Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis, noted recently in his scathing 84-page unclassified report on Afghanistan that there remains a strong desire within the defense establishment “to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to “protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will,” he wrote, quoting a well-regarded general.
The defense bill passed the House Friday afternoon.
News report circa 1988:
Beating the Palestinians #1
Beating the Palestinians #2
Beating the Palestinians #3
Israel Declines to Study Rabin Tie to Beatings
Israel’s Parliament decided today not to investigate charges that former Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin [later Prime Minister] ordered soldiers to break the bones of Arab militants at the beginning of the Palestinian uprising…
…..Soldiers testifying at Colonel Meir’s trial said Mr. Rabin and other senior commanders told them privately that beatings should be used to punish Arabs known to be troublemakers.
…a company commander under Colonel Meir, testified in April that he was told by Colonel Meir to ”break the arms and legs” of Arabs ”because the detention camps are full.” Full story
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently issued its weekly report on Israeli violations in the occupied territory for the period between 9- 15 of May, revealing that Israeli soldiers shot at least 370 Palestinians during the Nakba commemoration, and continued their violations in the West bank and the Gaza Strip.
The report indicated that the number of Palestinians injured by Israeli fire since the beginning of this year has reached 1,339, adding that the rate of injuries is 69 a week, comparing to 28 a week last year.
Most of the injuries took place when the soldiers attacked Nakba protests on May 15, especially the protests that were held near the Qalandia terminal, north of Jerusalem, and the Ofer prison terminal near Ramallah.
OCHA further stated that Israel demolished seven Palestinian buildings under the claim that they were built without construction permits.
It said that 27 Palestinians were also injured during a weekly protest against Israeli restrictions preventing Palestinian farmers from reaching their lands near the Qadumim settlement, built on lands that belong to residents of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank.
OCHA also said that Israeli settlers carried out several attacks against the residents and their lands, leading to several injuries while Israeli settlers cut more than 430 trees, including at least 280 olive trees near Nablus, Salfit and Bethlehem.
The Office said that Israeli settlers cut at least 3,070 trees since the beginning of 2012 (most of them are olive trees), and injured 50 residents.
As for the destruction of property, OCHA stated that, during the reported period, Israel demolished seven Palestinian-owned livelihood structures affecting 40 Palestinians. The buildings are in Burqa in the Nablus district, Al-Jalama near Jenin, and Husan near Bethlehem, in addition to the destruction of a water cistern and the foundations of a house under construction in Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem; Israel also issued demolition orders against Palestinian houses in Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to OCHA, Israel demolished 285 Palestinian buildings displacing 477 Palestinians, which is a %25 increase comparing structures demolished in 2011.
Israeli soldiers also shot and wounded more than eight Palestinians near the border with Israel, in the Gaza Strip during the reported week. The residents were treated for the effects to teargas inhalation when the soldiers targeted them for “approaching the security fence”; the residents were working in their own lands.
OCHA said that 29 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip and 155 were injured since the beginning of this year.
The Israeli Navy also continued its restrictions and attacks against Palestinian fishermen, as Israel continued to limit the fishing area allotted to Gaza fishermen for only three nautical miles. During the period of this weekly report, the Navy detained fishermen and confiscated their boats; the fishermen were released but the fishing boats remained with Israel.
Fuel shortages and power outages in Gaza continued to hinder the lives of 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza, while the Gaza Power Plant is only producing 25 megawatts of the needed 80 megawatts.
Fuel smuggling into Gaza via siege-busting tunnels this week was less that %15 of the 800,000 – one million liters of diesel and benzene that used to enter Gaza regularly each day prior the onset of fuel crisis in 2011.
The Palestinian Fishermen Syndicate said that the number of fishing trips conducted in recent months witnessed a sharp decrease (less than four trips a month for each fishing boat) compared to 15 trips a month.
It is worth mentioning that more than 65,000 Palestinians depend on fishing as their only source of livelihood in the Gaza Strip but are suffering due to increased Israeli restrictions. In April, Gaza fishermen fished 99.6 Tons.
Please follow the link for the comprehensive report issued by OCHA in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
- Jewish settlers stealing Palestinian water springs: UN (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 7 casualties in Israeli artillery shelling east of Gaza (alethonews.wordpress.com)