The Nation magazine is home to a particularly odious group of journalists. The “left” publication speaks on behalf of a privileged layer of the upper middle class, deeply complacent, lacking political principles and more and more integrated into the military and political establishment.
Even by these standards, a column penned by the Nation ’s Robert Dreyfuss January 22, “Brennan at the CIA Might Surprise Us,” stands out. Dreyfuss is no casual commentator. He is the Nation’s chief foreign policy correspondent. The article thus presents the magazine’s more or less official position in defense of John Brennan, nominated by President Barack Obama to head the CIA.
As Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Brennan played the principal role in vastly expanding the administration’s drone assassination program. He oversaw the development of the “disposition matrix” to permanently institutionalize the practice of extrajudicial murder—disposing of human beings—in the name of the “war on terror.”
Before serving under Obama, Brennan was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in the Bush administration, where he was implicated in torture and illegal domestic spying. In sum, this is a man with a great deal of blood on his hands.
This is Obama’s second attempt to nominate Brennan for the top post in America’s spy network. When the president first tried to do so in 2009, the nomination came under criticism from his liberal supporters. Brennan eventually withdrew his nomination.
This time around, there has been much less criticism. The Democratic Party and its milieu have moved even farther to the right over the past four years. Some voices have been raised, however, including from a few liberal commentators cited by Dreyfuss. The Nation responds by offering its services as a lawyer for Brennan and the Obama administration.
“Were you a terrorist or member of Al Qaeda, you wouldn’t want to meet John Brennan in a dark alley,” Dreyfuss begins. “He’s an Irish tough guy, and he doesn’t apologize for wanting to obliterate Al Qaeda. For four years, as Obama’s top adviser on counterterrorism, that’s been his job… Often innocents have died.”
“But Brennan may surprise us.”
In the end, the massacre of thousands of civilians by US drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries is of little concern to Dreyfuss. “Maybe, just maybe, John Brennan won’t be a bad CIA director,” he writes. What, one might ask, is a good CIA director? The notion that the Nation might take a principled stand in opposition to the American government’s chief spying and dirty tricks agency does not cross Dreyfuss’s mind.
The article resorts to lawyerly sophistry. There are “widespread accusations, not necessarily accurate, that he [Brennan] supported torture during the George W. Bush administration.” He “may or may not have objected to the use of waterboarding and other violent techniques.” To claim that he is “a supporter of torture,” is “an accusation without proof.”
Really? Brennan is on record as declaring in 2007, “There has been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the [CIA] has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives.” We must “take every possible measure” against those “determined to destroy our nation,” he declared in another interview given at that time.
As for drones, Dreyfuss goes on, “it’s a mixed bag.” He boasts that “on several occasions, I met and interviewed Brennan.” In these discussions, the Nation assures its readers, Brennan came off as a principled man, even “left,” animated by a belief that “the military is the wrong instrument in fighting terrorism.” He quotes an article in the Washington Post portraying Brennan as guided by a “moral compass” in his selection of drone targets.
Parroting the line of the Obama administration, Dreyfuss insists that Brennan has sought “to limit, not expand, drone warfare.” This can only be taken as an endorsement of the “disposition matrix.”
Dreyfuss refers to claims that Brennan has lied about the impact of the administration’s drone killing, asserting that it has not killed any civilians. However, Dreyfuss observes, “Brennan made clear that he was talking about a specific stretch of time” of about a year—suggesting by implication that the hundreds of people killed during this period all deserved to die. The administration automatically categorizes any adult-aged male it happens to kill as a “terrorist.”
If this defense does not suffice, Dreyfuss has another one prepared. “To be sure,” he writes, “as the White House’s counterterrorism chief and as a spokesman for the administration, Brennan has no choice but to defend the administration’s policy of carrying out a global drone warfare program.” Brennan, after all, was just following orders.
The attitude of Dreyfuss and the Nation magazine toward basic democratic rights is summed up in the comment’s treatment of the administration’s policy of assassinating US citizens. Mention of this violation of fundamental constitutional principles is confined to the final paragraphs, in which Dreyfuss notes that “Senator Ron Wyden says he wants answers about the administration’s legal justification for killing American citizens via drone attacks.”
The confirmation hearings next month, Dreyfuss assures us, “should be seen as an opportunity to get answers to all these questions, on the record.”
This is an obvious fraud. Dreyfuss is well aware that the administration has adamantly refused to make available its pseudo-legal justifications for assassinating American citizens, successfully blocking in court efforts to force it to do so.
Dreyfuss personifies a social layer that, through the mechanism of the Obama administration, has reconciled itself to imperialism, becoming in fact one of the most adamant supporters of American aggression. There is nothing remotely left-wing about these forces. They are capable of supporting and defending any crime.
- Brennan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The US Senate is set to consider new economic sanctions against Iran that would include the blacklisting and blocking the assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
The new sanctions, among other economic features, would blacklist the IRIB and its president, block all the IRIB assets and prevent others from doing business with it.
The proposed sanction that would hit the IRIB is another attempt by the West to silence Iranian media. In a flagrant violation of the freedom of speech, two satellite providers Eutelsat SA and Intelsat SA stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels in October, citing pressure by the European Union.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) also took all Iranian channels off air in East Asia under pressure from the US.
The new sanctions to be considered by the US Senate could also target transactions for goods and services with Iran’s energy, oil, port, shipping and ship-building sectors. They would also target trade with Iran in graphite and precious metals.
The bans would also ban insurance or reinsurance providers from trading with Iran in energy, shipping and ship-building sectors, as well as with designated persons and entities.
Foreign banks that handle transactions for Iranian persons that have been designated by the United States could also be targeted by the proposed embargoes.
US lawmakers say the fresh move is part of measures aimed at pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear energy program.
The proposal could be put into vote by the Senate as early as Thursday. It would be included in the annual defense policy bill and must be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives before it could become law.
US President Barack Obama will finally sign the sanctions into law after they are approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Over the false allegation, Washington and the European Union have imposed illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran refutes the allegations and argues that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
- U.S. Senate Approves New Sanctions On Iran (rferl.org)
- Senate Approves Amendment That Would Add More Iran Sanctions – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
Zionist Jews are the biggest donors that finance the US presidential election campaign of both the Democratic President Barack Obama as well as his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
The leading declared financier of US election campaigns in 2012 is casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who has so far donated $34.2 million to Republican Political Action Committees that support Romney’s publicity bid to win enough votes to move to the White House, the Associated Press reported Friday.
A staunch supporter of Israel, says the report, “he also is a contributor to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent $920,000 since 2002 backing bills aimed at pressuring Iran and enhancing US security cooperation with Israel.”
In Israel, meanwhile, Adelson owns the widely circulated, pro-Benjamin Netanyahu free daily paper Israel Hayom.
Worth an estimated $25 billion, Adelson oversees the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which runs casino and resort interests in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Pennsylvania, and Sands China Ltd., a bunch of casinos operating in China’s Macau territory.
According to the report, the wealthy Jewish donors and others are financing this year’s US presidential election, on track to cost a whopping $2 billion, with funding of individual Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as independent, “super” political action committees working on the campaigns’ behalf.
In exchange for their financial support, these pro-Israeli donors can gain major influence, says the report. They are often invited to state dinners at the White House and other events with the US president.
These financiers may also be consulted on policy making, particularly if it impacts their financial interests. And the ranks of ambassadors, advisory panels, and other government jobs traditionally are filled with those who have made generous donations during the election campaign, the report adds.
The largest donor to Democratic Political Action Committees that support Obama’s reelection campaign is Hollywood film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has so far given nearly $2.6 million for the cause.
Other major Jewish donors that support Democratic organizations and Obama’s reelection bid are: Irwin Jacobs, founder and ex-chairman of Qualcomm, contributing $2.122 million so far; Fred Eychaner, founder of newspaper publisher Newsweb Corp, contributing $2.07 million so far; Jon Stryker, a Michigan Philanthropist, contributing $2.07 so far; and Steve Mostyn, a Houston attorney, who has so far contributed just over $2 million.
Other big Jewish donors that gave huge sums of money to Republican organization and Mitt Romney’s election campaign are: Bob Perry, a Houston real estate tycoon who has so far given $17.3 million; Harold Simmons, owner of a Dallas-based Contran Corp. who has so far given $16.5 million; Robert Rowling, head of Dallas-based TRT Holdings who has so far donated $4.1 million, and Industrialist William Koch, so far donating $4 million.
A guarantee of support for a strike against Iran overlooks the lessons of the First World War
Israel’s attempt to steer American foreign policy has been nowhere more evident than in the sustained campaign to move the United States in the direction of war with Iran, a war that serves no American interest unless one believes that Tehran is willing to spend billions of dollars to develop a nuclear weapon only to hand off the result to a terrorist group.
The most recent overtures by the Israeli government have pushed the United States to make a declaration that negotiations with Iran have failed and will not be continued. For Israel, this is a necessary first step towards an American military intervention, as failed negotiations mean there is no way out of the impasse but by war, if the Iranians do not unilaterally concede on every disputed point.
Two recent op-eds have elaborated the argument, promoting the necessity of convincing the Israelis that the United States is absolutely serious about using military force against Iran if the Iranians seek to retain any capacity to enrich uranium. One might note in passing that this new red line, sometimes also called the abstract “capability” to create a nuclear weapon, has been achieved by moving the goal posts back considerably. At one time Iran was threatened with a military response if it actually acquired a nuclear weapon (which is still the official position of the Obama administration), but earlier benchmarks within that policy saying that enrichment should not exceed 20 percent or that the enrichment should not take place on Iranian soil have been abandoned in favor of what now amounts to zero tolerance. Those who note that Iran, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is under IAEA inspection, has a clear legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes have been ignored in favor of those who believe that Iran is somehow a special case.
On August 17, the Washington Post and The New York Times featured op-eds explaining why the United States must do more to convince Israel not to attack Iran this year. Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence who is believed to be close to the country’s political leadership, argued in the Post that Obama must basically convince the Israelis that he will use force against Iran if sanctions do not convince the country’s leadership to abandon enrichment of nuclear fuel. Over at the Times, Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. diplomat who has been described as Israel’s lawyer, made pretty much the same arguments. Both advocated giving Israel refueling tankers and special munitions that would enable an attack on Iran to be more effective, thereby widening the window of opportunity for sanctions to work, in light of Israeli arguments that hardened Iranian sites might soon be invulnerable to attack. Ross advocates giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively a blank check, asking him what he will need to attack Iran and granting the Israeli government commitments for a full range of U.S. military support. Both Yadlin and Ross argue that it is necessary to create the conditions for Israel to delay a possible attack until 2013. As Yadlin puts it, “if the United States wants Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time, Israelis must know that they will not be left high and dry if these options fail.”
Assuming that Ross and Yadlin are speaking for the Israeli government, which is almost certainly the case, Israel is essentially demanding a commitment from Washington to attack Iran unless the issue of Iran’s ability to enrich uranium is resolved through negotiation or through Iranian surrender of that right. In return, Israel will not attack Iran before the American election. So in effect, Washington would be promising to fight a war later if Israel does not start one now.
Israel knows it cannot successfully attack Iran unilaterally and must have the United States along to do the heavy lifting. It also knows that the threat to attack Iran before the election is a powerful weapon, with neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama welcoming such a potentially game-changing diversion from their debate on the economy and jobs.
Critics like Arnaud de Borchgrave have correctly noted that many former generals and intelligence officers in the United States and Israel have, in fact, decided that the basic premise is wrong. Iran does not pose a threat that could not be contained even if it does some day make the political decision to obtain a crude nuclear device. Launching a new war in the Middle East to prevent it from doing so would create “mayhem” throughout the region, guarantee a breakdown in Egypt-Israel relations, and create a perfect breeding ground for the civil war in Syria to spill out and lead to turmoil among all of its neighbors. American ships in the Persian Gulf would be attacked, unrest in Bahrain would turn to revolution, and the Palestinians would stage a new intifada. Israel would be bombarded from Lebanon and from Iran. Gas prices would soar, economic recovery would stall worldwide, and European nations now struggling to deal with unprecedented unemployment levels would watch the eurozone collapse before the rage of hundreds of thousands protesters in the streets. Americans would again become the targets of international terrorism.
And there is another serious objection to going along with the Israeli government’s thinking. Israel is by its own volition not an ally of the United States in any technical sense because alliances are troublesome things that require rules of engagement and reciprocity, limiting the partners’ ability to act independently. If Israel obtains a virtual commitment from the United States to go to war in 2013, it would mean enjoying the benefits of having a powerful patron to do its fighting without any obligation in return, beyond delaying unilateral military action until a more suitable time. A guarantee from Washington for Israel’s security which still permits unilateral action by Netanyahu is all too reminiscent of the entangling arrangements that led to World War I. The fact that the murder of an Austrian Archduke in the Balkans led to a world war that killed tens of millions was due to promises not unlike what Israel is demanding today.
If the United States commits to unconditional support for an Israeli attack on Iran, it will be a surrender of one of the defining attributes of national sovereignty: the power to choose when and where to go to war. Amos Yadlin suggests at one point that President Obama go to Congress and get approval in advance to take military action “to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a military nuclear capability.” Such a pre-approval for war certainly raises constitutional issues, but it also creates a virtual casus belli because Iran already has the “capability” to enrich uranium for potential military uses. A guarantee precludes any consideration that the United States might actually have an overriding national interest to avoid a war. It denies that the United States should be able to exercise complete sovereignty over the issue of Iran, and it also freezes the status quo, as if new ways of looking at the problem of the Iranian nuclear program could not evolve over the next few months.
Washington should make no commitment to anyone about what it will do vis-à-vis Iran in 2013 no matter what inducements are offered. As the 19th-century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston put it, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” Let America’s actual interests dictate U.S. foreign policy.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.
- Peace is War: How Israel Induces America into War with Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)