Think Progress |12-29-2009
Yesterday on Twitter, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for more profiling in light of the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day:
Gingrich then added another tweet, writing, “We need a new policy of systematically going after terrorists that involves explicit profiling and explicit discrimination for behavior.” He also promised more details on an “aggressive strategy” in his next newsletter. As ThinkProgress reported this week, the right wing has used the failed airline bombing to renew its call for ethnic profiling — even though it’s been proven to be ineffective. Radio host Mike Gallagher recently said, “There should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed,” and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) raised the idea of profiling people based on their religions.
In 2003 Donald Rumsfeld estimated a war with Iraq would cost $60 billion. Five years later, the cost of Iraq war operations is over 10 times that figure. So what’s behind the ballooning dollar signs? Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilme’s exhaustedly researched book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict,” breaks down the price tag, from current debts to the unseen costs we’ll pay for years to come.
By Paul Craig Roberts | December 28, 2009
On Christmas eve when Christians were celebrating the Prince of Peace, the New York Times delivered forth a call for war. “There’s only one way to stop Iran,” declared Alan J. Kuperman, and that is “military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.” [There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran, December 23, 2009]
Kuperman is described as the “director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin,” but his Christmas eve call to war relies on disinformation and contradiction, not on objective scholarly analysis.
For example, Kuperman contradicts the unanimous report of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Russian intelligence with his claim that Iran has a nuclear weapon program. Astonishingly, it does not occur to Kuperman that readers might wonder how an academic bureaucrat in Austin, Texas, has better information than these authorities.
Kuperman is so determined to damn President Obama’s plan to have other countries enrich Iran’s uranium for Iran’s nuclear energy program and medical isotopes that Kuperman commits astounding blunders. After claiming that Iran has a “bomb program,” Kuperman claims that “Iran’s uranium contains impurities” and that Ahmadinejad’s threat “to enrich uranium domestically to the 20 percent level . . . is a bluff, because even if Iran could further enrich its impure uranium, it lacks the capacity to fabricate the uranium into fuel elements.”
What was the New York Times op ed editor thinking when he approved Kuperman’s article? Iran, Kuperman writes, needs “90 percent enriched uranium” to have weapons-grade material, but cannot reach 20 percent or even make fuel elements for its nuclear energy. So, how is Iran going to produce a bomb? Yet, Kuperman writes that “we have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”
It could not be made any clearer that, as with the US invasion of Iraq, a military attack on Iran has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. An “Iranian nuke” is just another canard behind which hides an undeclared agenda.
One wonders about Kuperman’s non-proliferation credentials. How does a wanton military attack on a country encourage non-proliferation? Aren’t America’s bullying, threats and acts of war more likely to encourage countries to seek nuclear weapons?
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the United States has wars ongoing in Iraq where the ancient Chaldean Christian community was destroyed—not by Saddam Hussein but by the neoconservatives’ illegal invasion of Iraq—in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Sudan. The US initiated a war, which it lost, between its puppet ruler in the former Soviet province of Georgia and Russia.
The US, the world’s greatest supporter of terrorism, is the main financier of terrorist groups that stage attacks within Iran, and US money succeeded in financing protests against President Ahmadinejad’s re-election and in dividing the ruling Islamic clerics. It was American money, weapons, and diplomatic cover that enabled the Israeli war crimes against the Lebanese people during 2006 and against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during 2008-2009, crimes documented in the Goldstone Report.
Iran has never interfered in US internal affairs, but the US has a long record of interfering in Iranian affairs. In 1953 the US overthrew Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammed Mosaddeq and installed a puppet who tortured Iranians who desired political independence.
Despite this and other American offenses against Iran, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed Iran’s interest to be on friendly terms with the United States, only to be repeatedly rebuffed. The US wants war with Iran in order to expand US world hegemony.
One might expect a non-proliferation expert to take history into account, but Kuperman fails to do so. Kuperman also has nothing to say about Israel’s, India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, none of these countries are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, India, and Pakistan all developed their nuclear weapons in secret, and many experts believe Israel had American help, an act of treason. All three countries have been rewarded by Washington despite their perfidy. Why is Kuperman concerned about Iran, which submits to the IAEA inspections, but is unconcerned with Israel, a country that has never permitted a single inspection?
The answer is that the Israel Lobby, the US military-security complex, and the “Christian” Zionists have succeeded in demonizing Iran. Every real expert knows that an Iranian nuclear weapon would have no function other than deterring an attack on Iran. Ever since the US lost its monopoly on nuclear weapons, after using them offensively and pointlessly against a defeated Japan, nuclear weapons have served no purpose other than deterrence.
The US has no conflicting economic interests with Iran. Iran is simply a supplier of oil, an important one. A US attack on Iran, such as the one advocated by Kuperman, would most likely shut down oil flows to the West through the Strait of Hormuz. This might benefit refiners, who sell gasoline to the West and could charge enormous prices, but no one else would benefit.
Adding to the war cry are congregations of fake Christians. A great number of them, organized by someone’s money under the banner, “Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-free Iran,” has written to Congress demanding sanctions against Iran that amount to an act of war. The roll call includes the “Christian” Zionist John Hagee, who, according to reports, denigrates Jesus Christ and preaches to his illiterate congregation that it is God’s will for Americans to fight and die for Israel, the oppressor of the Palestinian people.
Among the signatories of the “Christians” demanding an act of war against Iran, are Dr. Pat Robertson, president of Christian Broadcasting Network, Nixon-era criminal Chuck Colson, and Richard Land, president of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention. Obviously, for southern Baptists ethics means murdering Islamists, and religious liberty excludes everyone but “Christian” Zionists.
It is a simple matter for an educated person to make fools of these morons who profess to be Christians. However, these morons have vast constituencies numbering in the tens of millions of Americans. There are, in fact, more of them than there are intelligent, informed, moral, and real Christian Americans.
The votes of the morons will prevail.
In the second decade of the 21st century, America’s Zionist wars against Islam will expand. America’s wars in behalf of Israel’s territorial expansion will complete the bankruptcy of America. The Treasury’s bonds to finance the US government’s enormous deficits will lack for buyers. Therefore, the bonds will be monetized by the Federal Reserve. The result will be rising rates of inflation. The inflation will destroy the dollar as world reserve currency, and the US will no longer be able to pay for its imports. Shortages will appear, including food and gasoline, and “Superpower America” will find itself pressed to the wall as a third world country unable to pay its debts.
America has been brought low, both morally and economically, by its obeisance to the Israel Lobby. Even Jimmy Carter, a former President of the United States and Governor of Georgia recently had to apologize to the Israel Lobby for his honest criticisms of Israel’s inhumane treatment of the occupied Palestinians in order for his grandson to be able to run for a seat in the Georgia state senate.
This should tell the macho super-power American tough guys who really runs “their” country.
International Solidarity Movement – December 28, 2009
The Israeli army erected a giant earth mound across a crucial agricultural road in the northern West Bank village of Madama this week. The road block severely limits hundreds of farmers’ access to their lands, making transport by vehicle all but impossible. The intentional crippling of the village’s chief economy comes as settler violence continues unabated in the region.
Four Israeli military jeeps and one Caterpillar bulldozer entered the village on Wednesday night to construct the road block. The targeted dirt road cuts directly underneath the speedy settler road leading west from Yitzhar settlement, where a tunnel was constructed to allow the road’s continuation to farmers’ land. The bulldozer quickly moved massive mounds of earth across the road underneath the bridge, entirely blocking it and removing the possibility of access to cars and tractors by village farmers.
ISM activists visited Madama to witness families clambering over the earth mound on foot and herding, with great difficulty, donkeys and flocks of sheep and goats across the blockage. The prevention of tractor access is critical now especially, as Palestine enters its wet season and land must be ploughed to become fertile for the new year. Approximately 500 of Madama’s farmers hold land on the other side of the road block, whose economic livelihood is severely threatened by this senseless impediment.
The road overhead, linking Israeli settlers effortlessly with their homes and work outside the settlements, cuts deeply through Madama’s land, as it has done since it was built 10 years ago. Two homes, belonging to Yasser Taher’s family, are now isolated on the other side of the highway, marking them as prime targets for settler and military harassment, leaving children traumatised and inevitably forcing the majority of the family to move to a safer home within Madama.
Madama resident Abed Al-Aziz Zeiyada became the latest victim in an endless series of settler incursions as he drove his taxi home on Friday night. Settlers of Yitzhar settlement, waiting on the side of the road, hurled rocks at his car and destroyed the windscreen. When Zeiyada reached Huwara, now without a windscreen in his car, he was stopped by Israeli forces at a flying checkpoint. Showing them the unmistakeable damage, Zeiyada was refused assistance by Israeli soldiers. He returned to Madama and paid a 700 shekel bill for the window to be fixed the next day.
Residents of Madama always have one eye fixed on the settlements that loom over the village; Bracha to the north, and Yitzhar to the south. Yitzhar alone is built on 1000 dunums of Madama’s land, including all of its water wells. Villagers are forced to spend vast amounts of their income on water, a 90-litre tank costing a crippling 125 shekels.
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Israeli settler on Tuesday shot and injured a Palestinian shepherd near the settlement of Bat Ayin, north of the city of Hebron, a witness and the Israeli military said.
The settlement is built on lands that were confiscated from Palestinian villages of Al-Jab’a, Safa, and Surif.
Ahmad Shakarna, a taxi driver who witnessed the shooting, told Ma’an that Nabil Ibrahim Abdul Majid, in his thirties from Al-Jab’a, and a Bedouin man who lives in the same village, were herding their sheep in the fields near the village.
A settler from Bat Ayn approached them and ordered them to leave claiming the land belonged to the settlement, Shakarna said. When the shepherds tried to explain that the land belongs to their village, and that the settler in fact was the intruder, a heated argument began, he said. According to Shakarna, the settler then took out a handgun and shot Abdul Majid in the shoulder.
Shakarna added that large numbers of Israeli troops and border police immediately arrived and took the injured Palestinian for interrogation.
An Israeli military spokesman said that based on an initial inquiry, an argument broke out between a civilian security officer and two Palestinians.
“During the argument a bullet discharged from his [the security guard’s] weapon, hitting and lightly wounding one of them.”
He added that the wounded man received first aid in the field and was taken to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Israeli media reported a different account, saying that the security coordinator of the settlement claimed the Palestinians attempted to steal his weapon before he fired gunshots into the air while they fled.
The website of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported a Palestinian shepherd was found injured not far from the area mentioned by the security coordinator.
Shakarna, the eyewitness said this report was completely false. The military spokesman said it was “possible,” but stressed that the incident was under police investigation.
Beit Ayn, which houses 3,500 settlers, has been known in the past as a base for extremists. Three men from the settlement were jailed in 2002 for attempting to bomb a Palestinian girls’ school in Jerusalem and plotting attacks on other targets.
Bat Ayin’s settlers also prohibit Palestinians from entering the settlement, even those with Israeli IDs.
Tensions with settlers were already high in the West Bank after several incidents of settler violence in the Nablus area. On Monday night medics reported that settlers caused a bus to overturn by pelting it with stones, injuring five people.
Haji Farid, a lawmaker from the Kapisa province – “every time an American soldier gets killed, they bomb an entire village. The president should determine to whom this country belongs.”
By Habib Rahman Sherzai |RAWA | December 29, 2009
Four civilians have reportedly been killed and eight others wounded in a fresh air strike by foreign forces in northern Baghlan province, residents alleged on Tuesday.
The overnight attack took place in Kohna Qala area of Baghlan-i-Markazi district, residents told Pajhwok Afghan News. The fresh air raid came about three days after 10 civilians were killed during military operations in eastern Kunar province.
The Saturday air strike in Kunar drew condemnation from the lawmakers on Monday who walked out of the session and later a parliamentary delegation met President Hamid Karzai to show their resentment. Karzai ordered a serious probe into the attack that killed ten people including eight school children in Badeel area in Narang district.
In the last night air raid, the dead included a father and his three sons, who were killed while running to escape the bombardment, a teacher at the Jamiat Aburjaee High School in the area, Karim Safi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
A student of the school, Karim Javed, said that the air raid also left many people wounded including a student of his school.
Head of the district hospital, Abdul Qahir Qanit, said they had received eight injured people delivered to the hospital with a woman and a child in a critical condition.
However, provincial police chief Kabir Andarabi said the aircrafts targeted Taliban. He claimed the attack killed eight Taliban fighters and injured seven others. The dead bodies of two slain militants were still lying on the ground at the site, he said.
The war in Afghanistan is becoming deadlier, killing 10 percent more civilians during the first 10 months of 2009 compared to the previous period last year, according to UN figures.
UNAMA said that 468 deaths were caused by pro-government forces, including NATO and US-led forces, and 166 by “other actors.
Meanwhile, a gun-battle broke out between police and militants after the latter attacked their checkpost in Shar-i-Qadeem area of the Baghlan-i-Markazi district, police spokesman, Javed Basharat, said.
One fighter was killed and another three injured in the clash that also left three policemen wounded, he added.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the fighters killed eight policemen and wounded as many during the firefight. Acknowledging the killing of their one fighter in the clash, Mujahid said the fighters also abducted one cop.
Editor’s note: This project is yet another reason why the once proposed TAPI pipeline is now a dead letter. The transport of Central Asian gas across Afghanistan is simply not an imperative behind the ongoing occupation.
Press TV – December 29, 2009
Iran and Turkmenistan are to be connected by a second gas pipeline during a visit by the Iranian president to the central Asian state next week.
“The new pipeline could raise the volume of Turkmenistan’s exported gas to Iran up to 14 billion cubic meters annually,” Iran’s Ambassador to Ashgabat, Mohammad-Reza Forqani, told Iran’s Mehr News Agency on Tuesday.
He added that the 65 km gas pipeline has been completed in only four months, thus being considered as one of the world’s fastest gas projects.
The new pipeline will pump natural gas from the Dovletabat gas field in southeastern Turkmenistan, which has so far only been transferred to Russia.
Iranian contractors are to carry out the project.
Bilateral trade between Iran and Turkmenistan reached $1.7 billion in 2007, over $1.4 billion of which consisted of Iranian exports to Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan announced in July 2009 that Ashgabat and Tehran have agreed to significantly expand Turkmen gas exports to Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to visit Turkmenistan on 5th and 6th January 2010 to inaugurate the Turkmenistan-Iran gas pipeline.
The Atrak-Gorgan railway worth around $650 million is another project to be launched in the presence of the Iranian president during the visit.
Iran’s Oil Transportation Company announced in September that it was ready to transfer gas from Turkmenistan to Iraq and the UAE.
“The nationwide gas network is now connected to neighboring countries from six locales,” the managing director of the company, Reza Almasi said.
Tehran and Ashgabat signed an agreement in February 2009, which would allow Iran to develop the Yolatan gas field in Turkmenistan and import a portion of the extracted gas annually.
Earlier in November, Turkmenistan said it has completed the construction of a gas pipeline to Iran that will help Ashgabat reduce its reliance on Russian-owned export routes.
Will Use ‘Every Element of National Power’
By Jason Ditz, December 28, 2009
Taking time out from his Hawaii vacation to comment on last Friday’s lap bombing on a Detroit bound airliner, President Barack Obama vowed an “accelerated offensive” against militants in Yemen.
The president said he would not rest and would commit “every element of national power” to the new mission of attacking those speculatively accused of some vague complicity in the failed bombing.
Several Congressmen are already chomping at the bit to use the lap bomber as a justification for a war in Yemen, and the Yemeni government, which would presumably be further aided in its assorted civil wars by the US, eagerly declared that the attacker had been to Yemen.
With the scent of terrorism in the air, President Obama will likely be able to parlay the lap bomber into a justification for anything and everything he might want. Officials are already talking of scrapping plans to close Guantanamo Bay over it, and America’s role in the attempted assassination of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last week can now readily be justified on speculation that the bomber’s alleged al-Qaeda links can be combined with Awlaki’s alleged al-Qaeda links to form alleged links between the two.
Of course, the Awlaki assassination bid and the US attacks on Yemen have been going on since before a Nigerian set his lap on fire on an airplane, and we’re only now starting to get the full extent of the war in Yemen the Obama Administration is already covertly fighting. The failed bombing is just a nice Christmas present for the president, giving him easy cover for the assorted wars he is already fighting and further wars he might plan to start in the future.
The continuous hovering of America’s heavy bomber aircraft, B-52 – capable of carrying nuclear and conventional weapons – has caused panic among residents of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.
The Nation quoted sources as saying that B-52 warplanes and US drones have been hovering over Waziristan and Kurram Agency for the last several weeks.
The US Air Combat Command’s B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions.
Capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet, the B-52 can perform air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.
During Desert Storm, B-52s delivered 40 per cent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces.
It is highly effective when used for ocean surveillance. Two B-52s, in two hours, can monitor 364,000 square kilometres of ocean surface.
All B-52s are equipped with an electro-optical viewing system to augment the targeting, battle assessment, flight safety and terrain-avoidance system, thus further improving its combat ability and low-level flight capability. (ANI)