(The better informed everybody becomes the greater the chance that war can be prevented and propaganda can not distort reality. With a couple of clicks you can do your part by simply forwarding this to others.)
Are we serious about talking with Tehran?
By Stephen M. Walt
For the life of me, I can't figure out what the Obama administration is thinking about Iran. And I can't tell if the administration is more confused than I am.
But here's why I'm confused. I can see why the P5 +1 would like Iran to agree to these demands, just as I'd like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to each write me billion dollar checks. But I don't expect either of them to do this, yet the U.S and its allies seem to think this deal-breaking demand is a reasonable opening bid. In fact, their position sounds like a complete non-starter to me, and seems more likely to derail negotiations than advance them.
So here's why I'm puzzled. If you're the Obama administration, the last thing you want is a war. Certainly not before November, and maybe not ever. But if that's the case, then the obvious course of action is to get the diplomatic track rolling and make a genuine effort to see if an acceptable deal can be had.
So why start with an opening demand that Iran was virtually certain to reject?
It is possible, I suppose, that there's something more subtle going on here. Maybe the real P5+1 position will be a bit more reasonable, and these news stories will be forgotten. Maybe Iran's leaders are feeling the heat, and will be more forthcoming than I suspect. Maybe there's a tacit U.S.-Israeli deal reflected here, where they've agree not to launch a war and we've agreed to put forward a very tough line that leaves options open for the future. Maybe the demand to close Fordow is just a bargaining chip, and we will in fact get a deal on the 20 percent enriched uranium.
A lot of maybes. But from where I sit today, our approach looks like a good way to sabotage the negotiations before they start. What good does that do anyone?
Hostages in Iran
By Paul Pillar
The Western message to Tehran seems pretty clear: we might be willing to tolerate some sort of Iranian nuclear program, but only one consisting of facilities that would suffer significant damage if we, or the Israelis, later decide to bomb it. In other words, we insist on holding Iranian nuclear facilities hostage to armed attack. Not the sort of formula that inspires trust among Iranian leaders and gives them much incentive to move toward an agreement.
The Iranians have good reason for doubts. There is ample reason for them to believe—a belief reinforced by the experience of Qaddafi in Libya—that ultimately the main Western interest is in regime change. In the near term, they also have reason to wonder whether, if they start making significant concessions, they will see any significant lessening of the sanctions. (There is no mention of that in the Times story.) And although the Obama administration does want a deal, demands that can easily be interpreted either as deal breakers or as having been selected with a military attack in mind tend to raise questions about that, too. Relieving such doubts ought to be a major objective of the United States and its P5+1 partners in planning their approach toward the talks.
The Obama administration has placed high stakes on negotiations with Iran. In dealing with the immediate problem of an Israeli government with an itchy trigger finger, the administration has signed on to the Israeli position of an Iranian nuclear weapon being unacceptable. The United States ought to place heavy emphasis on negotiations with Iran in any case. There is still ample unexplored negotiating space for reaching an agreement with Tehran. But given the stakes, the administration cannot afford to risk messing up the process by focusing on demands that seem to have more to do with simplifying the task of Israeli military targeteers than they do with anything else.
Exiled son of shah of Iran calls for Israel's help
"The best thing you can do for the regime is to tell that, 'We are going to attack you,' or in fact attack you," he said. "You will be giving Khamenei and all his clique, when they have no answers anymore to the country's ills, the greatest gift of all by doing that. That is just crazy. That just doesn't make sense."
Pahlavi called the current Iranian regime "fanatic," but said real Iranians would appreciate Israeli assistance rather than a strike against the nuclear sites, which he said could lead to all-out war in the region.
"Who in this planet doesn't know that there is a military option, but are there other options?" he said.
"The best option is to utilize the best army in the world in place ready to strike, which is the Iranian people themselves. And if you don't help that, God help us all."
(The part about Israeli's helping the Iranian people to bring about regime change? Sorry, but that is not going to work at all Mr. Pahlavi, and you would know why if you had been able to spend some of your adult life in Iran.)
( What Iranians need more than anything else is to gain a clear understanding of how democracy works, and how to bring it about, plus what "rule of law" means and how to implement it. In addition the Iranian people need a secure way to communicate with each other and be able to use this communication system to organize, plan, and make decisions through the democratic process so as to create a good future for Iran.)
Data Mining You: How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World
By Tom Engelhardt
James Bamford, National Security Agency (NSA, ) wrote a piece for Wired on a super-secret, $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center the NSA is building in Bluffdale, Utah. Focused on data mining and code-breaking and five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, it is expected to house information beyond compare, “including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails -- parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”
The NSA, adds Bamford, “has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.”
You might wonder: What is this basilica of chaos that calls itself the U.S. Intelligence Community? Bamford describes whistleblower William Binney, a former senior NSA crypto-mathematician “largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network,” as holding “his thumb and forefinger close together” and saying, “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”
Its urge is to data mine and decode the planet in an eternal search for enemies who are imagined to lurk everywhere, ready to strike at any moment.
The system that they are constructing (or that, perhaps, is constructing them) has no more to do with democracy or an American republic or the Constitution than it does with a Soviet-style state. Think of it as a phenomenon for which we have no name.
(Yes, folks, every keystroke that you have made on Iranian.com is now stored digitally on some storage device in some cavernous building along with every word you have spoken while calling Iran, and of course the contents of your emails and text messages. Doesn't that make you feel just wonderful to be living in the Land of The Free?)
(Time to go re-read Orwell's "1984"......)
Fear of Iran Shutters Major University Offerings in Dubai
By Jason Ditz
Why Iran nuclear talks will fail...again.
By Cyrus Safdari
While I'm munching on my lunch, let me explain why the most recent nuclear talks with Iran are doomed to failure. There is a pattern here that just can't be ignored, of the US deliberately raising the bar, moving goalposts, and imposing demandst that it knows will be rejected by Iran. The point, you see, is not to actually engage Iran in any sort of substantive dialog, but to give the US an opportunity to say "Hey we tried diplomacy and the Iranians ruined it." So, as usuall, we have the US imposing demands on Iran even before any negotiations start, with no prospect that the US can ever provide anything in return as a quid-pro-quo. In fact, as I had explained before, the Obama administration is simply not ABLE to give anything back to Iran since US sanctions are imposed mainly by Congress, and Congress isn't about to lift any sanctions in return for Iranian agreements to give up any part of their nuclear program.
So, there will be some dickering in the media as usual but eventually the negotiations will fail and the US/Israeli will naturally blame Iran...
Same old , same old.
The funny thing here is how some analysts - including Trita Parsi -- have started to blame all this on Iran, due to Khamenei's supposed refusal to compromise. Parsi goes as far as to suggest that Iran is trying to impose terms of capitulation on the US which is simply ridiculous -- is it Iran that is demanding that the US give up a sovereign legal right? No. It is also particularly interesting since Trita himself wrote about the 2003 comprehensive peace offer that Iran offered but was spurned by Washington. Nevermind the other repeated Iranian nuclear compromise offers which were made since then that were consistently ignored. Even former IAEA director Elbaradei noted this:
“They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change – by any means necessary.
And nothing's changed. So don't hold your breath, these talks will also "fail". The entire nuclear issue is, after all, just a pretext.
Check out Cyrus's blog at:
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