Bulletin N° 241


The Fourth of July 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleauges and Friends of CEIMSA,
At the beginning of his radical critique of western thought, The Great Chain of Being, a Study of the History of an Idea, the philosopher Arthur O. Lovejoy quotes Alfred North Whitehead : "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists in a series of footnotes to Plato."  But, adds Lovejoy, "there are two conflicting major strains in Plato and in the Platonic tradition" : In reference to the cleavage between otherworldliness and this-worldliness, Plato and his heirs stood firmly on both sides. The logical contradiction presumably is that a Perfect Being could not create less-than-perfect beings to populate His world, not even as a "perfect joke".

But even after removal in 19th century philosophy of the Christian Godhead at the top of this pyramid, Plato's metaphysical hierarchy was unaltered. It remained a hierarchy characterized by plenitude, continuity, and linear gradation, "in which each discrete item therein" contained, to varying degrees, an approximation to its own imaginary essence.

In the real world, according to Professor Anthony Wilden, the predominant application of such digital thinking has caused much mischief. In fact, according to this author, it is nothing less than an epistemological error embedded in western technology and science to this day, and it represents a real threat to the very existence of our species and its environment.

This contradiction between the otherworldliness of Perfect Omnipotent Good and this-worldliness of essential moral differences is illustrated by Peter Kropotkin in his popular history of The Great French Revolution, where he describes Robespierre taking action on 6 December 1793 to restore the power of the Catholicism in France; he opposed the Cult of Reason and aimed to reestablish the worship of the Supreme Being in French churches.

In what Kropotkin described as Robespierre's "first speech, and a very violent one," at the Jacobin Club in Paris on 21 November 1793, the Jacobin leader railed against the worship of Reason, and the fêtes of Reason that were being organized in the various sections were denounced. He proclaimed at this historic meeting that he saw no harm in the popular belief in a "Great Being watching over oppressed innocence and punishing crime". The "dechristianizers" he denounced as "traitors, as agents of the enemies of France, who wished to repel those foreigners whom the cause of humanity and common interests attracted towards the Republic." (p.526)

The Fête of the Supreme Being was celebrated with great pomp in Paris on 8 June 1794, with Robespierre "posing as the founder of a new State religion, which was to combat atheism."
Celebrated as it was by the wish of the Committee of Public Safety --soon after Chaumette and Gobel,
who had all the sympathies of the masses with them, had been executed for their irreligious opinions by
this committee-- the fête [of the Supreme Being] wore too much the character of a bloody triumph of the
Jacobin government over the advanced spirits among the people and the Commune, to be agreeable to
the people. And by the openly hostile attitude of several members of the Convention towards Robespierre,
during the fête itself, it became the prelude of the 9th Thermidor --the prelude of the grand finale." (p.527)

Thus the revolutionary project of teaching literacy in the widest meaning of the term (i.e. how to decode information embedded in nature and in society) was indefinitely postponed for reasons of "national security."

Nearly one hundred years later, Frederick Nietzsche's triumphal declaration, "God is dead!" changed nothing. Essentialism would remain the hallmark of German culture, with or without the presence of an omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Goodness and Perfection (i.e. God) at the top of the pyramid.

Historically, we can see that such social phenomena as diverse as the French Revolution and the Fascist seizures of power in Italy and Germany both shared a common flaw, the ardent distrust of democracy in the name of order and progress, while others have argued that real progress could only occur at local levels through genuine democratic participation, respecting legitimate social hierarchies based on communication, negotiations, and understanding of the real, as opposed to simply obeying the imaginary and perpetuating superstition and ignorance.

The metaphysics of essentialism remain with us after more than two thousand years, according to Professor Lovejoy. Dr. Wilden, citing Lovejoy's radical analysis, attributes to this western heritage the fact that even the most educated among us are illiterate. We are too often blinded by the notion of an imaginary pyramid of essential relationships, characterized by plenitude, continuity, and linear gradation, a virtual cosmology which inhibits us from gaining access to a deeper understanding of ourselves, by learning to read the meanings of relationships between relationships within society and to recognize the diverse patterns which interconnect society with nature. The German philosopher, Leibniz reflected this centuries-old epistemological error of essentialism, according to Lovejoy, when he wrote to a friend in the last year of his life (1715) :
I have, ever since my youth, been greatly satisfied with the ethics of Plato, and also, in a way,
with his metaphysics; these two, moreover, go together, like mathematics and physics. If someone
should reduce Plato to a system he would render a great service to the human race; and it will be
seen that I have made some slight approximation to this. (cited on p.149)

Anthony Wilden proposes a radical break with this reductionist thinking. Instead of reproducing the imaginary universe of plenitude, continuity, and lineal gradation, which was promoted by such influential philosophers as Leibniz and Spinoza, and instead of reaffirming a virtual digital tyranny (either/or  & true/false logic) as a modus operandi, the author of The Rules are No Game suggests that western mankind has much to learn from the Australian aborigines, whose use of dreamwork (i.e. deriving meaning from their direct contact with reality by coding it at night while they slept) assured their adaptability to their real environment for thousands of years, until the European imperialists arrived and destroyed them. Wilden presents this comparison of the culture of western societies with the extraordinary longevity of aboriginal societies as evidence of the practicality of analog and iconic communications (employing also the logic of both/and & more/less) which, in fact, reflect the complexities of reality at a higher logical level than the predominantly digital communication of our own culture, which, in addition to its exclusiveness and rigidity, is usually nothing more than a unsustainable reflection of the Symbolic and the Imaginary, many times removed from the Real.

The theoretical writings of Lovejoy and Wilden, may offer readers the opportunity to analyze in a new light the information on American institutions and social movements received by CEIMSA over the past few days.

We are reminded daily by our friends and associates at CEIMSA that the mass murders by U.S. government agents in Iraq continue relentlessly. Efforts to put an end to these brutal imperialist tactics demand a deeper understanding of the political economic system which generates such tactics and the environmental context in which the grand strategies associated with these actions are born. The agents paid to carry out these deeds are, indeed, not the causes of these crimes. Understanding of U.S. policy can only come at a higher logical level, and for this reason we invite readers to look for patterns of behavior in the communities where they live and to identify how the destructive relationships in Iraq are reproduced in daily life, generation after generation, inside all the former empires, in America like Europe. . . .

Dr. Bertell Ollman's most recent confrontation at FoxNews in New York City, Bertell Ollman on Hannity & Colmes, is a successful illustration of a confrontation within one illegitimate hierarchy inside the Empire, which is governed by the private profit motive and corporate censorship, and defended by an essentialist metaphysics and a mode of digital exchange with no reference to a gestalt. His efforts to introduce into this narrow field of corporate discourse values such as democracy and free speech are as foreign to U.S. corporate culture as the Code of Hammurabi. The FoxNews broadcasters were able to understand little more than that Ollman had succeeded in getting "free advertising" for democracynow.org. These corporate representatives on the News channel were typically illiterate;  any other meaning embedded in this public call for strengthing democracy in America was entirely inaccessible to them; they were unable to read (to decode) Ollman's radical critique of the role of corporate media in a "democratic" society.

Item A. is a reality check on the continuing massacre of Iraq by U.S. forces, as of July 2006.

Item B. is a Fourth of July proposal to Americans by Howard Zinn, "Put Away the Flags".

Item C., forwarded to us by our research associate Dr. Edward S. Herman, is an essay by Walter Uhler, demanding international accountability for those charged with crimes against humanity.

Item D. is a bitter satire by Israeli writer Benni Zipper, reporting on the American-sponsored murders conducted by the Israeli armed forces, and forwarded to us by our research associate Dr. Elisabeth Chamorand.

Item E., from investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, is an article of "the U.S. military problem with President Bush's Iran policy".

And finally, item F. is a reminder that hope springs eternal in the human breast: Thousands of U.S. soldiers now have demonstrated the courage of their convictions. At great risk, they have become literate, reading the signs and finding good reasons to abandoned their government's imperialist project in Iraq. Please visit the video documentary: "AWOL: GI War Resistance in Canada," by Geoffrey Millard and Sari Gelzer.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal
Grenoble, France


from Information Clearing House :
Date 1 July 2006

Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America's War? As Many As 250,000

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In Bush's War 2537

The War in Iraq Costs : $292,895,446,071
(See the cost in your community)

from Howard Zinn :
Date: 2 July 2006
The Progressive

Put away the flags
by Howard Zinn

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail last year that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

Howard Zinn, a World War II bombardier, is the author of the best-selling "A People's History of the United States" (Perennial Classics, 2003, latest edition). He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org

From: Ed Herman
Subject: Uhler on "Unfit to Lead the World"
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006

Here is a solid piece by Walter Uhler, an ally of mine here in Philadelphia.
Ed Herman


Unfit to Lead the World
by Walter C. Uhler

Appropriately, much has been made of the recent survey conducted by Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress, which found that 84 percent (of the more than 100) of America's top foreign policy experts believed that the United States is not winning the war on terror. Not only do they dispute President Bush's insular and politically self-serving assertion that America is winning that war, they also "see a national security apparatus in disrepair and a government that is failing to protect the public from the next attack." [See "The Terrorism Index," July/August 2006]
"Disrepair" is an understatement. Not only has former domestic policy advisor, John Dilulio, decried the "complete lack of a policy apparatus" within the Bush administration, where "policy analysis is just backfill, to back up a political maneuver," Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, also has complained about policy formulation and implementation by a "cabal."

According to Ron Suskind, writing in his recent book, The One Percent Doctrine, "The policy process, in fact, never changed much. Issues argued, often vociferously, at the level of deputies and principals rarely seemed to go upstairs in their fullest form to the President's desk; and, if they did, it was often after Bush seemed to have already made up his mind based on what was so often cited as his 'instinct' or 'gut.'" [p. 225]

Suskind describes a meeting between Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and President Bush in April 2002 that "could get no traction." Often Bush just "stared blankly" at his Saudi guests. "It was as though Bush never read the packet that they sent over to the White House in preparation for the meeting." And, in fact, he didn't. The packet "had been diverted to Dick Cheney's office. The President never got it, never read it." [pp. 110-111]

Even more potentially harmful was the mysterious deletion of the line from Bush's September 12, 2002 speech to the United Nations, in which he would ask for a new resolution regarding Iraq. "Yet that line - the most important line, one that Cheney and others opposed - was mysteriously missing from the text. Bush noticed the absence, and clumsily improvised this key line midway through his recitation." [pp. 170-171]

From these examples, one might conclude that "abandonment" or "sabotage" of the national security apparatus is a more appropriate term than "disrepair." Nevertheless, the 100 plus foreign policy experts certainly were correct when they specifically faulted the Bush administration for having "a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force." ["The Terrorism Index"]

Taken as a whole, the answers to this survey of foreign policy experts raise new doubts about the very fitness of both America's democratic institutions and their current office holders to perform adequately as the world's leader.

New doubts? Yes, such doubts had troubled the mind of one of America's wisest of "wise men," the late George F. Kennan. Mr. Kennan repeatedly and consistently expressed his conviction that "our political system is in many ways poorly designed for the conduct of the foreign policies of a great power aspiring to world leadership." [Kennan, At a Century's Ending, p. 136]

Specifically, Kennan excoriated the policy distortions caused by the unwarranted intrusions of "particularly aggressive and vociferous minorities or lobbies." [Ibid, p. 135] And although he wrote those words years before America's neoconservatives so egregiously weakened America's national security by successfully beating the drums for war against Iraq, their actions prove his point once again. .

Kennan also decried the American politician's "tendency, when speaking or acting on matters of foreign policy, to be more concerned for the domestic-political effects of what he is saying or doing than about the actual effects on our relations with other countries." [Ibid] "Freedom fries," anyone?

More significantly, Kennan firmly believed that "our greatest mistakes in national policy seem to occur where the military factor is most involved." [Ibid] Finally, Kennan never retreated from his steadfast belief "in a limitless human capacity for error," [Washington Post March 18, 2005] a belief which clearly informed his views about the need to rid ourselves of nuclear weapons and the need to err on the side of eschewing war.

Kennan lived long enough to presciently repudiate the Bush administration's propaganda about Iraq's ties to al Qaeda, calling them "pathetically unsupportive and unreliable" as early as September 2002. A month later Kennan prophetically warned the Bush administration: "The apparently imminent use of American armed forces to drive Saddam Hussein from power...seems to me well out of proportion to the dangers involved. I have seen no evidence that we have any realistic plans for dealing with the great state of confusion in Iraqian affairs which would presumably follow even after the successful elimination of the dictator." [Jane Mayer, "A Doctrine Passes," The New Yorker, October 14-21, 2002]

Fortunately, this foremost of America's foreign policy "realists" passed away before learning the depths of the folly and immorality of our current leaders, which propelled America's invasion of Iraq. He never learned, as we have from Mr. Suskind, that illegal, immoral preventive war became de facto American policy in late November 2001, when Vice President Cheney asserted: "If there's a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis or finding a preponderance of evidence. It's about our response." [p. 62]

According to Suskind, Cheney's "one percent" doctrine "became the standard of action that would frame events and responses from the administration for years to come." [Ibid]

Simply recall that, by the time Cheney imposed his "one percent" doctrine, President Bush already had authorized "an astonishing expansion of CIA authority," by approving the financing of a "'Worldwide Attack Matrix'...that detailed operations against terrorists in eighty countries." [Suskind, p. 20] Similar Department of Defense special operations would soon follow.

Thus, given the military nature of "our response," simply ask yourself: "How immoral is a doctrine that compels a military response even when 99% of the evidence remains silent or fails to justify it?" And what should we think about an individual who demands such an immoral standard?

Moreover, is it merely a coincidence that the individual, who set the bar so cowardly and dishonorably low, also happens to possess five draft deferments, which allowed him to avoid harm's way during the Vietnam War?

Cheney's cowardly behavior aside, his "one percent" doctrine goes far to explain the behavior of the Bush administration during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. First, it explains why the administration failed to request a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq. (You'll recall that the Senate belatedly requested it, not the Bush administration.)

Second, it explains why the Bush administration ignored five legitimate intelligence reports from the Intelligence Community that argued against any significant ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. After all, the neocon Douglas Feith, through his rogue Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, had already supplied neocon Paul Wolfowitz and, thus, Donald Rumsfeld and Cheney with the shards of undigested and bogus raw intelligence - especially about Mohamed Atta -- that easily met the latter's one percent threshold.

Third, Cheney's "one percent" doctrine explains why, in July 2002, British intelligence could secretly report to Prime Minister Tony Blair: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." [Michael Smith, "June 26, 2006, Testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Pre-War Intelligence Relating to Iraq"]

Fourth, Cheney's "one percent" doctrine explains why the Bush administration had to resort to exaggerations and lies about Iraq, as soon as Op-Eds, such as Brent Scowcroft's "Don't Attack Saddam," compelled a hurried public relations counteroffensive.

Thus, Cheney asserted: "We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." Yet he cherry-picked from contradictory evidence that was approximately seven years old. Why would he say, "We now know?" Moreover, the CIA's Jami Misic asked at the time: "Where is he getting that stuff from?" [Suskind, pp. 168-169]

Thus, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice claimed that Iraq's aluminum tubes could "only" be used in its nuclear weapons program, knowing full well that Energy Department's experts doubted such use. And thus, bogus intelligence about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from Niger - suspected by the CIA of being bogus and already excised from an earlier speech by Bush - found its way into his January 2003 State of Union address.

Unfortunately, as Suskind concludes, Cheney's "one percent" program "released George W. Bush from his area of greatest weakness - the analytical abilities so prized in America's professional class - and freed his decision making to rely on impulse and improvisation to a degree that was without precedent for a modern president. Cheney essentially crafted a platform, an architecture, for Bush to be Bush, while still being President." [p. 308]

Thus far, the Bush administration's perverse "one percent" morality and incompetence have killed 2,500 American soldiers and wounded tens of thousands, have killed between 50,000 and 100,000 Iraqi civilians and, in just the past four months, have displaced another 130,000.

Its perverse morality and incompetence permitted the looting that destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure, caused oil prices to soar, precipitated civil war, elevated Iran's strategic position in the Middle East and earned the United States the hatred of much of the world. Such enormous harm to America's national security brings to mind Paul Miliukov's immortal words: "Is this stupidity or treason?"

Even when one puts aside their horrible handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the evidence is clear: These men are unfit to rule America, let alone lead the world.

One only can guess at what George Kennan would make of the Cheney/Bush "one percent" doctrine. In his absence, I've taken comfort in the recommendations of the highly esteemed military historian, Martin van Creveld:

"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C. sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins." ["Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War," Forward, November 25, 2005.

from Elisabeth Chamorand :
Date: Sun, 02 Jul 2006
Subject: FW: Benni Zipper: the Israeli Jonathan Swift

I am forwarding this piece which was sent to me by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, whom as you will recall was refused funding to participate in CEIMSA's International Colloquium with Jim Hightower in spring 2004.
Here, Israeli journalist Benni Zipper has written a bitter irony in the tradition of Jonathan Swift....

De : "Jim Abourezk" <hungryjim@sio.midco.net>
Date : Sun, 2 Jul 2006 11:59:10 -0500
Objet : Fw: Benni Zipper: the Israeli Jonathan Swift

Lets admit right away: We are bad. Very, very bad.

by Benni Zipper

Conclusion: The artillery shells that turned seven vacationers who ate corn on the cob at the Gaza beach to pieces of bleeding flesh fell from the sky and were not launched by the IDF. I came to that conclusion without waiting for any decision of a Commission of Inquiry because, simply, the IDF is such a humane and considerate army, and not cruel like the terrorist Palestinians damned their name and memory, that its not possible that it would do such a
thing. The Palestinians are capable of anything and what the Commission of Inquiry must check is whether the mother of the family who died in such an
extreme manner, did not pretend to be dead and whether this whole show on the part of the girl who ran like a mad woman on the sand was not just a
year-end play of the theater club of her school. After all we already experienced such things coming from them, when they staged funerals. Today one can stage anything or carry out tricks through the computer and convince the entire world that this is the whole truth.

Another conclusion. (I reached it yesterday after watching Amir Peretz in a direct broadcast from the Southern Command Headquarters): It is entirely possible that the man who spoke yesterday on TV was not the real Amir Peretz but rather an actor from Beit Tzvi who impersonates him perfectly and
parrots what he needs to parrot in cases of such calamities, all this in order to enable to real Peretz to devote, at least on the weekend, quality time with his family members who love him and who miss him so during weekdays.

To me it was clear that this was not the real Peretz because he, continuously, repeated the same identical three sentences as a response to any question that was not asked of him. He , once again, said that the IDF avoids the use of many means at its disposal in order not to hurt civilians. Also, that he personally thinks that it is not right to hurt civilians. We could see that the moustache of  this actor pretending to be Peretz was pasted. I¹m telling you. Ask the Military Reporter, Carmela Menashe who was the closest to him from the side whether what I am saying is not correct.

And another conclusion, and this time completely seriously: I stopped believing, a long time ago, that there is someone who is more right or less right in this entire story about the conflict. All this sanctimoniousness piety of ours simply does not work on anybody except ourselves. So, as the first step, lets stop relying so much on the formalistics of IDF investigating committees and instead admit that we are bad, very, very bad and that our lack of intention to do bad things does not cancel the fact that we commit bad and repeatedly so, all day long. It stems mainly from the fact that our means of destruction are not toys but rather are designed to process human flesh: to kill, disintegrate and grind exactly like these tools do when they belong to others, and when we use these means of destruction they necessarily do their job.

After we admit that we are bad, very, very bad, we will discover suddenly that from a badness point of view we have an enormous advantage over our bad
neighbors. The advantage of our badness over their badness is that our badness is sophisticated and theirs - primitive. We always mean not to kill, but we still kill. While they mean to kill, these idiots, and they don¹t even hide their intention. Their badness comes from their guts and our badness comes from the brain.

The problem is that because of the Holocaust and all that, we are not capable of believing, even in our most cynical dreams, that there is a Jewish soldier who is capable of killing just for the sake of killing. The problems that rises out of all this is that every time that someone gets killed just like that we find some rationalization for it as if it was not just like that. It just doesn¹t enter our heads that among our people there are persons without conscience or with an underdeveloped conscience compared to the typical Jewish merciful norm, who can do bad or stupid things just like that. We nurtured this great illusion and now we are eating it and by doing so cause ourselves to be self righteously uppity so much so that no one believes anymore in the sincerity of our intentions even when they are sincere. Lets admit: It is a fact that we do bad indeed. It doesn¹t matter whether the circumstances forced us to be bad. The fact is that we are bad.

There is another thing that should finally be admitted: We are equally bad on the Left as on the Right, enough with the illusions. Fact: A Leftist Minister of Defense acts exactly like a Rightist Minister of Defense and there is no difference between Left or Right, and that the entire election were in fact Bull-Shit supreme, and conversely, Amir Peretz, at the bottom of his heart is even proud that he does not fall behind in his performance from previous Ministers of Defense and that he is lacing into the Palestinians as they deserve, and by doing so lifts the morale of the blood thirsty from among our people. This is good in order for Labor to be strengthened and return to full time ruling when the day will come.

Final conclusion, but one that should remain among us: Its actually not bad at all that this family got killed on the beach in Gaza. With its death it bequeathed life to the Labor party and its leader, who now can present himself as a man - man, both compassionate and rigid when necessary, in the
best Israeli tradition of shooting and weeping. Please admit it, isn¹t he cute, this Amir Peretz when he is acting as the principled man of the people? More power to you, Peretz. Shoot and then weep. We love you, you are proving slowly that you deserve us, that you are as bad as necessary, bad but with a moral backing as needed. Such clean badness, that thinks that you can take off the badness like a dirty shirt and throw into the laundry and the machine will clean it. Not like the Palestinians, who as you saw, are dirty, they eat with their hands, in the sand, without a minimal hygiene and then they are surprised that they die.

From Seymour Hersh :
Date 2 July 2006
New Yorker

Last Stand
The military’s problem with the President’s Iran policy.
by Seymour M. Hersh

On May 31st, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced what appeared to be a major change in U.S. foreign policy. The Bush Administration, she said, would be willing to join Russia, China, and its European allies in direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program. There was a condition, however: the negotiations would not begin until, as the President put it in a June 19th speech at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, “the Iranian regime fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.” Iran, which has insisted on its right to enrich uranium, was being asked to concede the main point of the negotiations before they started. The question was whether the Administration expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork for future military action. In his speech, Bush also talked about “freedom for the Iranian people,” and he added, “Iran’s leaders have a clear choice.” There was an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategic Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the President’s direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran.

Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.

A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. “The target array in Iran is huge, but it’s amorphous,” a high-ranking general told me. “The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?” The high-ranking general added that the military’s experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to Iran. “We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq,” he said.

“There is a war about the war going on inside the building,” a Pentagon consultant said. “If we go, we have to find something.”

In President Bush’s June speech, he accused Iran of pursuing a secret weapons program along with its civilian nuclear-research program (which it is allowed, with limits, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). The senior officers in the Pentagon do not dispute the President’s contention that Iran intends to eventually build a bomb, but they are frustrated by the intelligence gaps. A former senior intelligence official told me that people in the Pentagon were asking, “What’s the evidence? We’ve got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys”­the Iranians­“have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing? We’re coming up with jack shit.”

A senior military official told me, “Even if we knew where the Iranian enriched uranium was­and we don’t­we don’t know where world opinion would stand. The issue is whether it’s a clear and present danger. If you’re a military planner, you try to weigh options. What is the capability of the Iranian response, and the likelihood of a punitive response­like cutting off oil shipments? What would that cost us?” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior aides “really think they can do this on the cheap, and they underestimate the capability of the adversary,” he said.

In 1986, Congress authorized the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to act as the “principal military adviser” to the President. In this case, I was told, the current chairman, Marine General Peter Pace, has gone further in his advice to the White House by addressing the consequences of an attack on Iran. “Here’s the military telling the President what he can’t do politically”­raising concerns about rising oil prices, for example­the former senior intelligence official said. “The J.C.S. chairman going to the President with an economic argument­what’s going on here?” (General Pace and the White House declined to comment. The Defense Department responded to a detailed request for comment by saying that the Administration was “working diligently” on a diplomatic solution and that it could not comment on classified matters.)

A retired four-star general, who ran a major command, said, “The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don’t want to be condemned by history. They want to be able to say, ‘We stood up.’ ”

The military leadership is also raising tactical arguments against the proposal for bombing Iran, many of which are related to the consequences for Iraq. According to retired Army Major General William Nash, who was commanding general of the First Armored Division, served in Iraq and Bosnia, and worked for the United Nations in Kosovo, attacking Iran would heighten the risks to American and coalition forces inside Iraq. “What if one hundred thousand Iranian volunteers came across the border?” Nash asked. “If we bomb Iran, they cannot retaliate militarily by air­only on the ground or by sea, and only in Iraq or the Gulf. A military planner cannot discount that possibility, and he cannot make an ideological assumption that the Iranians wouldn’t do it. We’re not talking about victory or defeat­only about what damage Iran could do to our interests.” Nash, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Their first possible response would be to send forces into Iraq. And, since the Iraqi Army has limited capacity, it means that the coalition forces would have to engage them.”

The Americans serving as advisers to the Iraqi police and military may be at special risk, Nash added, since an American bombing “would be seen not only as an attack on Shiites but as an attack on all Muslims. Throughout the Middle East, it would likely be seen as another example of American imperialism. It would probably cause the war to spread.”

In contrast, some conservatives are arguing that America’s position in Iraq would improve if Iran chose to retaliate there, according to a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon’s civilian leaders, because Iranian interference would divide the Shiites into pro- and anti-Iranian camps, and unify the Kurds and the Sunnis. The Iran hawks in the White House and the State Department, including Elliott Abrams and Michael Doran, both of whom are National Security Council advisers on the Middle East, also have an answer for those who believe that the bombing of Iran would put American soldiers in Iraq at risk, the consultant said. He described the counterargument this way: “Yes, there will be Americans under attack, but they are under attack now.”

Iran’s geography would also complicate an air war. The senior military official said that, when it came to air strikes, “this is not Iraq,” which is fairly flat, except in the northeast. “Much of Iran is akin to Afghanistan in terms of topography and flight mapping­a pretty tough target,” the military official said. Over rugged terrain, planes have to come in closer, and “Iran has a lot of mature air-defense systems and networks,” he said. “Global operations are always risky, and if we go down that road we have to be prepared to follow up with ground troops.”

The U.S. Navy has a separate set of concerns. Iran has more than seven hundred undeclared dock and port facilities along its Persian Gulf coast. The small ports, known as “invisible piers,” were constructed two decades ago by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to accommodate small private boats used for smuggling. (The Guards relied on smuggling to finance their activities and enrich themselves.) The ports, an Iran expert who advises the U.S. government told me, provide “the infrastructure to enable the Guards to go after American aircraft carriers with suicide water bombers”­small vessels loaded with high explosives. He said that the Iranians have conducted exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel linking the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and then on to the Indian Ocean. The strait is regularly traversed by oil tankers, in which a thousand small Iranian boats simulated attacks on American ships. “That would be the hardest problem we’d face in the water: a thousand small targets weaving in and out among our ships.”

America’s allies in the Gulf also believe that an attack on Iran would endanger them, and many American military planners agree. “Iran can do a lot of things­all asymmetrical,” a Pentagon adviser on counter-insurgency told me. “They have agents all over the Gulf, and the ability to strike at will.” In May, according to a well-informed oil-industry expert, the Emir of Qatar made a private visit to Tehran to discuss security in the Gulf after the Iraq war. He sought some words of non-aggression from the Iranian leadership. Instead, the Iranians suggested that Qatar, which is the site of the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, would be its first target in the event of an American attack. Qatar is a leading exporter of gas and currently operates several major offshore oil platforms, all of which would be extremely vulnerable. (Nasser bin Hamad M. al-Khalifa, Qatar’s ambassador to Washington, denied that any threats were issued during the Emir’s meetings in Tehran. He told me that it was “a very nice visit.”)

A retired American diplomat, who has experience in the Gulf, confirmed that the Qatari government is “very scared of what America will do” in Iran, and “scared to death” about what Iran would do in response. Iran’s message to the oil-producing Gulf states, the retired diplomat said, has been that it will respond, and “you are on the wrong side of history.”

In late April, the military leadership, headed by General Pace, achieved a major victory when the White House dropped its insistence that the plan for a bombing campaign include the possible use of a nuclear device to destroy Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. The huge complex includes large underground facilities built into seventy-five-foot-deep holes in the ground and designed to hold as many as fifty thousand centrifuges. “Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “And Pace stood up to them. Then the world came back: ‘O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable.’ ” At the time, a number of retired officers, including two Army major generals who served in Iraq, Paul Eaton and Charles Swannack, Jr., had begun speaking out against the Administration’s handling of the Iraq war. This period is known to many in the Pentagon as “the April Revolution.”

“An event like this doesn’t get papered over very quickly,” the former official added. “The bad feelings over the nuclear option are still felt. The civilian hierarchy feels extraordinarily betrayed by the brass, and the brass feel they were tricked into it”­the nuclear planning­“by being asked to provide all options in the planning papers.”

Sam Gardiner, a military analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from the Air Force as a colonel, said that Rumsfeld’s second-guessing and micromanagement were a fundamental problem. “Plans are more and more being directed and run by civilians from the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Gardiner said. “It causes a lot of tensions. I’m hearing that the military is increasingly upset about not being taken seriously by Rumsfeld and his staff.”

Gardiner went on, “The consequence is that, for Iran and other missions, Rumsfeld will be pushed more and more in the direction of special operations, where he has direct authority and does not have to put up with the objections of the Chiefs.” Since taking office in 2001, Rumsfeld has been engaged in a running dispute with many senior commanders over his plans to transform the military, and his belief that future wars will be fought, and won, with airpower and Special Forces. That combination worked, at first, in Afghanistan, but the growing stalemate there, and in Iraq, has created a rift, especially inside the Army. The senior military official said, “The policymakers are in love with Special Ops­the guys on camels.”

The discord over Iran can, in part, be ascribed to Rumsfeld’s testy relationship with the generals. They see him as high-handed and unwilling to accept responsibility for what has gone wrong in Iraq. A former Bush Administration official described a recent meeting between Rumsfeld and four-star generals and admirals at a military commanders’ conference, on a base outside Washington, that, he was told, went badly. The commanders later told General Pace that “they didn’t come here to be lectured by the Defense Secretary. They wanted to tell Rumsfeld what their concerns were.” A few of the officers attended a subsequent meeting between Pace and Rumsfeld, and were unhappy, the former official said, when “Pace did not repeat any of their complaints. There was disappointment about Pace.” The retired four-star general also described the commanders’ conference as “very fractious.” He added, “We’ve got twenty-five hundred dead, people running all over the world doing stupid things, and officers outside the Beltway asking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ”

Pace’s supporters say that he is in a difficult position, given Rumsfeld’s penchant for viewing generals who disagree with him as disloyal. “It’s a very narrow line between being responsive and effective and being outspoken and ineffective,” the former senior intelligence official said.

But Rumsfeld is not alone in the Administration where Iran is concerned; he is closely allied with Dick Cheney, and, the Pentagon consultant said, “the President generally defers to the Vice-President on all these issues,” such as dealing with the specifics of a bombing campaign if diplomacy fails. “He feels that Cheney has an informational advantage. Cheney is not a renegade. He represents the conventional wisdom in all of this. He appeals to the strategic-bombing lobby in the Air Force­who think that carpet bombing is the solution to all problems.”

Bombing may not work against Natanz, let alone against the rest of Iran’s nuclear program. The possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons gained support in the Administration because of the belief that it was the only way to insure the destruction of Natanz’s buried laboratories. When that option proved to be politically untenable (a nuclear warhead would, among other things, vent fatal radiation for miles), the Air Force came up with a new bombing plan, using advanced guidance systems to deliver a series of large bunker-busters­conventional bombs filled with high explosives­on the same target, in swift succession. The Air Force argued that the impact would generate sufficient concussive force to accomplish what a tactical nuclear warhead would achieve, but without provoking an outcry over what would be the first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict since Nagasaki.

The new bombing concept has provoked controversy among Pentagon planners and outside experts. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago who has taught at the Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, told me, “We always have a few new toys, new gimmicks, and rarely do these new tricks lead to a phenomenal breakthrough. The dilemma is that Natanz is a very large underground area, and even if the roof came down we won’t be able to get a good estimate of the bomb damage without people on the ground. We don’t even know where it goes underground, and we won’t have much confidence in assessing what we’ve actually done. Absent capturing an Iranian nuclear scientist and documents, it’s impossible to set back the program for sure.”

One complicating aspect of the multiple-hit tactic, the Pentagon consultant told me, is “the liquefaction problem”­the fact that the soil would lose its consistency owing to the enormous heat generated by the impact of the first bomb. “It will be like bombing water, with its currents and eddies. The bombs would likely be diverted.” Intelligence has also shown that for the past two years the Iranians have been shifting their most sensitive nuclear-related materials and production facilities, moving some into urban areas, in anticipation of a bombing raid.

“The Air Force is hawking it to the other services,” the former senior intelligence official said. “They’re all excited by it, but they’re being terribly criticized for it.” The main problem, he said, is that the other services do not believe the tactic will work. “The Navy says, ‘It’s not our plan.’ The Marines are against it­they know they’re going to be the guys on the ground if things go south.”

“It’s the bomber mentality,” the Pentagon consultant said. “The Air Force is saying, ‘We’ve got it covered, we can hit all the distributed targets.’ ” The Air Force arsenal includes a cluster bomb that can deploy scores of small bomblets with individual guidance systems to home in on specific targets. The weapons were deployed in Kosovo and during the early stages of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the Air Force is claiming that the same techniques can be used with larger bombs, allowing them to be targeted from twenty-five thousand feet against a multitude of widely dispersed targets. “The Chiefs all know that ‘shock and awe’ is dead on arrival,” the Pentagon consultant said. “All except the Air Force.”

“Rumsfeld and Cheney are the pushers on this­they don’t want to repeat the mistake of doing too little,” the government consultant with ties to Pentagon civilians told me. “The lesson they took from Iraq is that there should have been more troops on the ground”­an impossibility in Iran, because of the overextension of American forces in Iraq­“so the air war in Iran will be one of overwhelming force.”

Many of the Bush Administration’s supporters view the abrupt change in negotiating policy as a deft move that won public plaudits and obscured the fact that Washington had no other good options. “The United States has done what its international partners have asked it to do,” said Patrick Clawson, who is an expert on Iran and the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank. “The ball is now in their court­for both the Iranians and the Europeans.” Bush’s goal, Clawson said, was to assuage his allies, as well as Russia and China, whose votes, or abstentions, in the United Nations would be needed if the talks broke down and the U.S. decided to seek Security Council sanctions or a U.N. resolution that allowed for the use of force against Iran.

“If Iran refuses to re-start negotiations, it will also be difficult for Russia and China to reject a U.N. call for International Atomic Energy Agency inspections,” Clawson said. “And the longer we go without accelerated I.A.E.A. access, the more important the issue of Iran’s hidden facilities will become.” The drawback to the new American position, Clawson added, was that “the Iranians might take Bush’s agreeing to join the talks as a sign that their hard line has worked.”

Clawson acknowledged that intelligence on Iran’s nuclear-weapons progress was limited. “There was a time when we had reasonable confidence in what we knew,” he said. “We could say, ‘There’s less time than we think,’ or, ‘It’s going more slowly.’ Take your choice. Lack of information is a problem, but we know they’ve made rapid progress with their centrifuges.” (The most recent American intelligence estimate is that Iran could build a warhead sometime between 2010 and 2015.)

Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council aide for the Bush Administration, told me, “The only reason Bush and Cheney relented about talking to Iran was because they were within weeks of a diplomatic meltdown in the United Nations. Russia and China were going to stiff us”­that is, prevent the passage of a U.N. resolution. Leverett, a project director at the New America Foundation, added that the White House’s proposal, despite offering trade and economic incentives for Iran, has not “resolved any of the fundamental contradictions of U.S. policy.” The precondition for the talks, he said­an open-ended halt to all Iranian enrichment activity­“amounts to the President wanting a guarantee that they’ll surrender before he talks to them. Iran cannot accept long-term constraints on its fuel-cycle activity as part of a settlement without a security guarantee”­for example, some form of mutual non-aggression pact with the United States.

Leverett told me that, without a change in U.S. policy, the balance of power in the negotiations will shift to Russia. “Russia sees Iran as a beachhead against American interests in the Middle East, and they’re playing a very sophisticated game,” he said. “Russia is quite comfortable with Iran having nuclear fuel cycles that would be monitored, and they’ll support the Iranian position”­in part, because it gives them the opportunity to sell billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear fuel and materials to Tehran. “They believe they can manage their long- and short-term interests with Iran, and still manage the security interests,” Leverett said. China, which, like Russia, has veto power on the Security Council, was motivated in part by its growing need for oil, he said. “They don’t want punitive measures, such as sanctions, on energy producers, and they don’t want to see the U.S. take a unilateral stance on a state that matters to them.” But, he said, “they’re happy to let Russia take the lead in this.” (China, a major purchaser of Iranian oil, is negotiating a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran for the purchase of liquefied natural gas over a period of twenty-five years.) As for the Bush Administration, he added, “unless there’s a shift, it’s only a question of when its policy falls apart.”

It’s not clear whether the Administration will be able to keep the Europeans in accord with American policy if the talks break down. Morton Abramowitz, a former head of State Department intelligence, who was one of the founders of the International Crisis Group, said, “The world is different than it was three years ago, and while the Europeans want good relations with us, they will not go to war with Iran unless they know that an exhaustive negotiating effort was made by Bush. There’s just too much involved, like the price of oil. There will be great pressure put on the Europeans, but I don’t think they’ll roll over and support a war.”

The Europeans, like the generals at the Pentagon, are concerned about the quality of intelligence. A senior European intelligence official said that while “there was every reason to assume” that the Iranians were working on a bomb, there wasn’t enough evidence to exclude the possibility that they were bluffing, and hadn’t moved beyond a civilian research program. The intelligence official was not optimistic about the current negotiations. “It’s a mess, and I don’t see any possibility, at the moment, of solving the problem,” he said. “The only thing to do is contain it. The question is, What is the redline? Is it when you master the nuclear fuel cycle? Or is it just about building a bomb?” Every country had a different criterion, he said. One worry he had was that, in addition to its security concerns, the Bush Administration was driven by its interest in “democratizing” the region. “The United States is on a mission,” he said.

A European diplomat told me that his government would be willing to discuss Iran’s security concerns­a dialogue he said Iran offered Washington three years ago. The diplomat added that “no one wants to be faced with the alternative if the negotiations don’t succeed: either accept the bomb or bomb them. That’s why our goal is to keep the pressure on, and see what Iran’s answer will be.”

A second European diplomat, speaking of the Iranians, said, “Their tactic is going to be to stall and appear reasonable­to say, ‘Yes, but . . .’ We know what’s going on, and the timeline we’re under. The Iranians have repeatedly been in violation of I.A.E.A. safeguards and have given us years of coverup and deception. The international community does not want them to have a bomb, and if we let them continue to enrich that’s throwing in the towel­giving up before we talk.” The diplomat went on, “It would be a mistake to predict an inevitable failure of our strategy. Iran is a regime that is primarily concerned with its own survival, and if its existence is threatened it would do whatever it needed to do­including backing down.”

The Iranian regime’s calculations about its survival also depend on internal political factors. The nuclear program is popular with the Iranian people, including those­the young and the secular­who are most hostile to the religious leadership. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, has effectively used the program to rally the nation behind him, and against Washington. Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics have said that they believe Bush’s goal is not to prevent them from building a bomb but to drive them out of office.

Several current and former officials I spoke to expressed doubt that President Bush would settle for a negotiated resolution of the nuclear crisis. A former high-level Pentagon civilian official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the government, said that Bush remains confident in his military decisions. The President and others in the Administration often invoke Winston Churchill, both privately and in public, as an example of a politician who, in his own time, was punished in the polls but was rewarded by history for rejecting appeasement. In one speech, Bush said, Churchill “seemed like a Texan to me. He wasn’t afraid of public-opinion polls. . . . He charged ahead, and the world is better for it.”

The Israelis have insisted for years that Iran has a clandestine program to build a bomb, and will do so as soon as it can. Israeli officials have emphasized that their “redline” is the moment Iran masters the nuclear fuel cycle, acquiring the technical ability to produce weapons-grade uranium. “Iran managed to surprise everyone in terms of the enrichment capability,” one diplomat familiar with the Israeli position told me, referring to Iran’s announcement, this spring, that it had successfully enriched uranium to the 3.6-per-cent level needed to fuel a nuclear-power reactor. The Israelis believe that Iran must be stopped as soon as possible, because, once it is able to enrich uranium for fuel, the next step­enriching it to the ninety-per-cent level needed for a nuclear bomb­is merely a mechanical process.

Israeli intelligence, however, has also failed to provide specific evidence about secret sites in Iran, according to current and former military and intelligence officials. In May, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Washington and, addressing a joint session of Congress, said that Iran “stands on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons” that would pose “an existential threat” to Israel. Olmert noted that Ahmadinejad had questioned the reality of the Holocaust, and he added, “It is not Israel’s threat alone. It is a threat to all those committed to stability in the Middle East and to the well-being of the world at large.” But at a secret intelligence exchange that took place at the Pentagon during the visit, the Pentagon consultant said, “what the Israelis provided fell way short” of what would be needed to publicly justify preventive action.

The issue of what to do, and when, seems far from resolved inside the Israeli government. Martin Indyk, a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who is now the director of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, told me, “Israel would like to see diplomacy succeed, but they’re worried that in the meantime Iran will cross a threshold of nuclear know-how­and they’re worried about an American military attack not working. They assume they’ll be struck first in retaliation by Iran.” Indyk added, “At the end of the day, the United States can live with Iranian, Pakistani, and Indian nuclear bombs­but for Israel there’s no Mutual Assured Destruction. If they have to live with an Iranian bomb, there will be a great deal of anxiety in Israel, and a lot of tension between Israel and Iran, and between Israel and the U.S.”

Iran has not, so far, officially answered President Bush’s proposal. But its initial response has been dismissive. In a June 22nd interview with the Guardian, Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, rejected Washington’s demand that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment before talks could begin. “If they want to put this prerequisite, why are we negotiating at all?” Larijani said. “We should put aside the sanctions and give up all this talk about regime change.” He characterized the American offer as a “sermon,” and insisted that Iran was not building a bomb. “We don’t want the bomb,” he said. Ahmadinejad has said that Iran would make a formal counterproposal by August 22nd, but last week Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, declared, on state radio, “Negotiation with the United States has no benefits for us.”

Despite the tough rhetoric, Iran would be reluctant to reject a dialogue with the United States, according to Giandomenico Picco, who, as a representative of the United Nations, helped to negotiate the ceasefire that ended the Iran-Iraq War, in 1988. “If you engage a superpower, you feel you are a superpower,” Picco told me. “And now the haggling in the Persian bazaar begins. We are negotiating over a carpet”­the suspected weapons program­“that we’re not sure exists, and that we don’t want to exist. And if at the end there never was a carpet it’ll be the negotiation of the century.”

If the talks do break down, and the Administration decides on military action, the generals will, of course, follow their orders; the American military remains loyal to the concept of civilian control. But some officers have been pushing for what they call the “middle way,” which the Pentagon consultant described as “a mix of options that require a number of Special Forces teams and air cover to protect them to send into Iran to grab the evidence so the world will know what Iran is doing.” He added that, unlike Rumsfeld, he and others who support this approach were under no illusion that it could bring about regime change. The goal, he said, was to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the I.A.E.A., said in a speech this spring that his agency believed there was still time for diplomacy to achieve that goal. “We should have learned some lessons from Iraq,” ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said. “We should have learned that we should be very careful about assessing our intelligence. . . . We should have learned that we should try to exhaust every possible diplomatic means to solve the problem before thinking of any other enforcement measures.”

He went on, “When you push a country into a corner, you are always giving the driver’s seat to the hard-liners. . . . If Iran were to move out of the nonproliferation regime altogether, if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon program, we clearly will have a much, much more serious problem.”

from Truthout :
Date 1 July 2006

The Department of Defense has recently reported that 8,000 members of the US military are listed as AWOL. Currently 24 war resisters are known to be in Canada trying to establish citizenship, with an estimated several hundred more living there underground. Truthout's Sari Gelzer and Geoffrey Millard report from Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario, to bring you coverage of Peace Has No Borders, an event that brought US attention to political refugees in Canada. Geoffrey Millard interviews war resisters about their decision to refuse deployment to Iraq and seek asylum in Canada.

AWOL: GI War Resistance in Canada
by Geoffrey Millard and Sari Gelzer

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3
Grenoble, France