Bulletin N°561



13 March 2013
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Due to a series of problems with our computer program, we are sending you this abbreviated edition of the CEIMSA Bulletin containing 6 very important items exposing the severe constraints on traditional democratic institutions which are struggling to stay alive in today’s increasingly authoritarian political economy.

Francis Feeley
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego


From Edward S. Herman :
Date:  10 March 2013
Subject: Whither Europe?

The 'Fall of the House of Europe'

From Edward S. Herman:
Date: March 10, 2013
Subject: True, He’s the First Black President But Obama’s the Worst President Ever


Ridenour was famous as maybe the earliest exposer of the Mylai massacre. He makes some telling points here!
ed herman

True, He’s the First Black President
But Obama’s the Worst President Ever
by Ron Ridenour

Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!

We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.

And there he is, murdering even more people in Afghanistan than Bush, backing coups in Latin America, continuing to undermine Iraq, sending drones, mercenaries, saboteurs to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Uganda, Libya and now Syria. He bores deeper into several African countries, rich with oil and minerals, than his white predecessors, Democrats and Republicans. The US is eliminating the few secular governments that there were in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Obama is busier fulfilling total USAmerican world domination than even Bush, Reagan and Nixon.

He is the president for US corporations. With his black Kenyan roots he can walk into Africa’s rich parlors and black “White Houses” and communicate with these butchers better than any of the capitalist class’ earlier presidents, all of them white.  

Obama is worse than them, precisely because he betrays all his black “brothers and sisters” in the US, all except a few rich and opportunistic ones. He was the hope; he would improve their lot, and that of the poor, the working people. But he has done nothing of the sort. Instead, he takes from them to give to the rich, the worst criminals on Wall Street, the war industry, the oil and mineral industries. Virtually all of his economic advisors hail from Wall Street and in many cases were central figures in the enormous economic crimes of the last few years that have stolen hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars from the poor and the middle class. His top militarists, Homeland Security thugs, and CIA killers are some of those that Bush used -- most of them Republicans.

As commander in chief, he has had the national hero Bradley Manning tortured. He seeks to destroy Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange...

For the rest of this article by RON RIDENOUR in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1622


from Consortium News
Date 9 March 2013
Subject: Fraud & Treachery in the highest reaches of the US government.

Shocking New Evidence Reveals Depths of 'Treason' and 'Treachery' of Watergate and Iran-Contra.


Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra


From Edward S. Herman :
Date: 11 March 2013
Subject: Lies and damn lies from the US government.

George Bush sold the war as quick and cheap; it was long and costly. Even now, the US is paying billions to private contractors.

How the US Public was Defrauded by the Hidden $ Cost of the Iraq War and Occupation
by Michael Boyle

March 11, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - "The Guardian" --  When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration estimated that it would cost $50-60bn to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish a functioning government. This estimate was catastrophically wrong: the war in Iraq has cost $823.2bn between 2003 and 2011. Some estimates suggesting that it may eventually cost as much as $3.7tn when factoring in the long-term costs of caring for the wounded and the families of those killed.

The most striking fact about the cost of the war in Iraq has been the extent to which it has been kept "off the books" of the government's ledgers and hidden from the American people. This was done by design. A fundamental assumption of the Bush administration's approach to the war was that it was only politically sustainable if it was portrayed as near-costless to the American public and to key constituencies in Washington. The dirty little secret of the Iraq war – one that both Bush and the war hawks in the Democratic party knew, but would never admit – was that the American people would only support a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein if they could be assured that they would pay almost nothing for it.

The most obvious way in which the true cost of this war was kept hidden was with the use of supplemental appropriations to fund the occupation. By one estimate, 70% of the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 were funded with supplemental or emergency appropriations approved outside the Pentagon's annual budget. These appropriations allowed the Bush administration to shield the Pentagon's budget from the cuts otherwise needed to finance the war, to keep the Pentagon's pet programs intact and to escape the scrutiny that Congress gives to its normal annual regular appropriations.

With the Iraq war treated as an "off the books" expense, the Pentagon was allowed to keep spending on high-end military equipment and cutting-edge technology. In fiscal terms, it was as if the messy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were never happening.

More fundamentally, the Bush administration masked the cost of the war with deficit spending to ensure that the American people would not face up to its costs while President Bush was in office. Despite their recent discovery of outrage over the national debt, the Republicans followed the advice of Vice-President Dick Cheney that "deficits don't matter" and spent freely on domestic programs throughout the Bush years. The Bush administration encouraged the American people to keep spending and "enjoy life", while the government paid for the occupation of Iraq on a credit card they hoped never to have to repay.

Most Americans were not asked to make any sacrifice for the Iraq war, while its real costs were confined to the 1% of the population who fought and died there. As a result, the average American was never forced to confront whether pouring money borrowed from China into the corrupt Iraqi security services was worth it, or whether it made more sense to rebuild infrastructure in Diyala, rather than, say, Philadelphia.

One consequence of the way that the true costs of the Iraq war was hidden from the American people was an explosion of fraud, waste and abuse. The recent final report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) estimates that the US lost to corruption or waste at least $8bn of the $60bn devoted to reconstructing Iraq.

Much of the reconstruction expense had no useful political effect: as Spencer Ackerman has pointed out, Iraqi officials cannot point to a single completed project that the US managed during the course of the occupation. The hundreds of ill thought-out projects and half-baked ideas that marred the American reconstruction effort provides a powerful explanation for why the US campaign for "hearts and minds" never worked, and why Iraq is hardly a pro-American bastion in the Middle East today.

An occupation conducted through under-scrutinized emergency appropriations enabled dozens, if not hundreds, of private companies to act like pigs at the trough – wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous expenses while the insurgency raged around them. These private companies were able to behave so rapaciously because they were so desperately needed by the US government to run the Iraq war without revealing its true cost to the American public.
Another factor that was kept hidden from the American public was the skyrocketing costs of deploying US troops abroad. According to a Congressional Research Service estimate (pdf), the average annual operational cost per US soldier in Iraq was $462,000 between 2005 and 2009. To control costs and avoid imposing a draft, the US resorted to a parallel army of private contractors, numbering 100,000 people or more at the height of the war.

Yet, this policy backfired, as private contractors cost nearly as much and wasted millions – by one estimate, losing $12m a day between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only advantage they had was that they allowed the American people to be lulled into thinking that the Iraq war had cost them nothing.

The extent to which the US hid the costs of the war by relying on private contractors has left a disastrous legacy within Iraq itself. Many of these contractors behaved recklessly; sometimes, they even shot at crowds when they felt trapped or threatened. Thus private military contracting help to turn the population even more against the US and the occupation.
Even after the US withdrawal, Iraq has had to contend with dozens of private security companies, many still under US contract, running operations in contravention of Iraqi law. An estimate in February 2012 revealed there were 109 separate private security companies, with 36,000 men under arms, still operating in Iraq months after the American army had gone home. While US attention has drifted from Iraq, the costs of this reckless war are still being incurred. The American embassy in Baghdad remains a heavily-armed fortress: a relic of the imperial ambitions that the US had in that country.

Through 2012, the US is projected to have spent $17.7bn (pdf) on police training and civilian reconstruction projects in Iraq. This at a time when hundreds of states and towns across the US face harsh budget cuts in essential services and care for their poor and sick.

The Iraq war provides many lessons, but among the most important is that the promise of a cheap and easy war never turns out to be true. The Bush administration sold the American people a bill of goods with Iraq, offering them a short and glorious war while secretly running up a tab that future generations will be left with. Along with Afghanistan, the war in Iraq added $1.4tn to the national debt.

The dishonesty of this approach is due to a fundamental fact about the United States: that while its leaders may have grand international ambitions, most Americans have no appetite for, or interest in, nation-building abroad. This mismatch between our leaders and ourselves means that our politicians will lie to us about running their wars on the cheap while finding ways to pass on the costs to those not yet born. That lesson should be remembered by any American who sees a future president promise, as George Bush did, that such embarking on such a conflict today will "lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren".


From Edward S. Herman :
Date: 6 March 2013
Subject: : Israeli military spray raw sewage at Palestinian homes.

Is there anything these monsters won't do to the untermenschen?
ed herman

Israeli security forces spray raw sewage at Palestinian homes

Apartheid wall

Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with raw sewage as a punishment for organising weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land. Human rights watchdog B'Tselem published a video showing Israel's armoured tanker trucks fitted with "water cannons" which spray the foul fluid at Palestinian protesters.

B'Tselem said in a statement that the Israeli forces also targeted all the houses of the village with the sewage. The powerful jet broke windows and caused a great deal of damage in the houses, said the Israeli organisation. "It also causes environmental damage," it pointed out. The non-lethal weapon has been added to the Israelis' armoury for crowd control, said B'Tselem, even though the video shows clearly that it is also used against Palestinian-owned property.
The Israeli military has been looking for an alternative to tear gas canisters for crowd control, claiming that the Palestinians now know how to cope with the gas and its effects.

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" - Archbishop Desmund Tutu

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From Historians Against The War :
Date 12 March 2013
Subject: An up-date on US militarism.

Historians Against the War is posting Frank Brodhead's "Iran War Weekly,' as a helpful resource for our members and friends. Frank earned a PhD in history at Princeton University and has co-authored several books on US foreign policy. He is a scholar and political activist who has worked with peace and social justice movements for many years. In 2010-2011 he produced the “Afghanistan War Weekly,” which was widely used by antiwar groups across the country.

Iran War Weekly
March 12, 2013

Hello All – With one round of negotiations accomplished, analysts and diplomats are assessing February’s talks in Kazakhstan and preparing for a second round in April.  In many quarters, especially among the “P5+1,” there is broad agreement that the February talks were grounds for optimism and that some progress was made.  One reason for optimism was that, until recently, it was widely assumed that Iran would not engage in serious talks until after its presidential election, scheduled for June.  That Iran agreed to talks, and quickly scheduled two more (in March and April), was interpreted by analysts and diplomats as an indication that Iran was “serious” about negotiations. A second reason for optimism is that the P5+1 unexpectedly offered some concessions in its bargaining proposal, withdrawing one of its demands (that Iran close its underground enrichment plant at Fordow).  The several parties will soon hold “technical talks” in Istanbul, presumably to discuss modalities to accomplish things so far on the table; and at their April session in Kazakhstan Iran’s response to the P5+1 will be the main item on the agenda.

Whatever optimism abounds, however, is only in relation to the total failure to make any progress in these negotiations since talks about Iran’s nuclear program resumed a year ago.  Moreover, little was offered by the P5+1 in the way of lifting sanctions, and there is no indication coming from Washington that lifting significant sanctions from Iran will be on the agenda soon.  The most important question, in my view, is whether the United States is willing and – given its domestic politics – capable of achieving a settlement with Iran that would allow Iran to develop its nuclear program and achieve mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle, even under the most stringent IAEA monitoring conditions.  President Obama’s new national security team – centered here in John Kerry and Chuck Hagel – gives no sign of deviating from the well-established line of military threats and economic sanctions.  The US Senate (as noted in articles linked below) appears willing to outsource to Israel the decision of whether or not to declare war against Iran; and the House of Representatives is preparing yet another round of economic sanctions. As in so many areas of policy, it may be that President Obama simply wants to kick the nuclear-Iran can down the road for a while and hope, like Dickens’ Mr. Micawber, “that something will turn up.”

Previous “issues” of the Iran War Weekly are posted at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com.

Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead

Iran Crisis is More Stable Than it Seems
By Nader Mousavizadeh, Financial Times [March 10, 2013]

---- The long-running crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme has met its moment of truth. This is the year when war or peace will break out – or so at least a remarkable global consensus seems to suggest.
Far more likely, however, is a 2013 defined by another period of sustained stalemate, one driven by an unspoken preference on the part of all the key participants for a pragmatic equilibrium that excludes both war and peace. The see-saw of threats and talks, escalation and negotiation continues, inevitably leading to warnings of showdowns. This is mostly all theatre. The reality is that for each of the principal parties, the status quo – Iran isolated diplomatically, crippled economically, boxed in militarily – is preferable to the available alternatives. An all-out war including weeks of strikes on suspected nuclear installations and widespread Iranian retaliation through conventional and unconventional means is, for most, anathema. It is also true, though unacknowledged by the west, that a genuine peace with Tehran is equally unattractive. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/14cf3774-8660-11e2-ad73-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2NG7Z8bbq

Iran and the United States—What Really Matters to Middle Eastern Publics?
By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett Huffington Post March 8, 2013
[FB – Here the Leveretts comment on James Zogy’s new book, Looking at Iran:  How 20 Arab and Muslim Nations View Iran and Its Policies.]
---- While Zogby highlights data from his 2012 survey showing that a majority of respondents now think that Iran’s nuclear program “makes the region less secure” and that there should be a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, he fails to put regional attitudes about Iran’s nuclear activities in a comparative context.  If he had, he might well have gotten results like those obtained by the University of Maryland’s annual Arab Public Opinion Surveys, showing that, by orders of magnitude, Arabs identify Israel and the United States as much bigger threats to them than Iran.  He might also have gotten results like those obtained by Arab researchers, showing that support for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East is driven by concern over Israel’s nuclear arsenal and that, until Israel foreswears nuclear weapons, regional publics think other countries have the right to pursue them, too. http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/13160

World Powers Must Cut a Deal with Iran Before it's too Late
By Yousaf Butt / March 6, 2013
---- For the first time in several years, some sparks of hope flew in negotiations between the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – and Iran over its nuclear program. Whether these sparks are quickly extinguished or grow into a self-sustaining flame of ongoing cooperation depends delicately on decisions the world powers make in the coming weeks. Another round of formal negotiations are scheduled for April. To build trust, a small – but important – deal that addresses just the very top concerns of both sides should be attempted first. Less important factors should be shelved for later discussions. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0306/World-powers-must-cut-a-deal-with-Iran-before-it-s-too-late

Tehran Mulls Almaty II amid Hopes for More Give and Take
By Farideh Farhi, Inter Press Service [March 10, 2013]
---- The meeting between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) that took place in late February in Almaty, Kazakhstan was described as positive and even a “turning point” by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili. This positive reception has set the stage for the meeting of lower-level representatives from the two sides in Istanbul this coming week to iron out technical details for a second high-level meeting Apr. 5 and 6 back in Almaty. Irrespective of what the results of the next meetings will turn out to be, two aspects of the February Almaty agreements are worth noting. First was the decision by Iran to agree to quick follow-up meetings, a development that appears to have genuinely surprised Iran’s great-power interlocutors. Having been led to believe that the upcoming June presidential elections will lead to particularly contentious times in Tehran, the common wisdom had it that Iran would shy away from direct and substantive negotiations until after the vote.The decision in favour of quick meetings constituted a clear signal that the nuclear talks are considered a vital interest of the state and are thus not to be affected by Iran’s intense intra-elite political competition.
A second related message has been conveyed by the complete lack of commentary on the part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding what happened in Almaty. If anyone had any doubts that the office of the current president no longer has any input into the discussion of how Tehran will handle its side of the nuclear negotiations, Almaty should have put them to rest. http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/03/tehran-mulls-almaty-ii-amid-hopes-for-more-give-and-take/

Did Somebody Blink? : The P5+1 Meeting with Iran
By Sasan Fayazmanesh, Counterpunch [March 7, 2013]
---- Essentially we’re now in a vicious cycle. In order to calm the Israelis down and get them to back away from their intense interest in taking care of the [Iranian nuclear] program militarily, we are ratcheting up sanctions that essentially are aimed at Iran’s economic jugular. We are doing that on the theory that the more pressure we put on them, the more we bring their economy to its knees, the more likely the Iranians are to cry uncle, to blink, to say, OK, we’ll negotiate meaningful curbs on our nuclear program. . . And unless somebody blinks, I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a confrontation. It seems that after many years of this “three-way game of chicken” somebody finally blinked; and that somebody was not Iran. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/07/the-p51-meeting-with-iran/

Iranian Views on the Kazakhstan Meetings
Khamenei Downplays Progress in Nuclear Talks
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [March 7, 2013]
---- Iranian officials have been cheering the progress from last week’s talks, declaring them a “turning point” in years of negotiations with the P5+1. Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seems considerably less optimistic. “The Westerners did not do any substantial work that could be interpreted as concessions,” Khamenei said in comments broadcast on Iranian state media, adding “they minimally admitted part of the rights of the Iranian nation, only.” Khamenei did say that the talks would continue, saying only that he will “judge the intentions of the West in the next talks,” likely the scheduled side talks in Istanbul or next month’s talks in Kazakhstan. As Supreme Leader Khamenei has the final say on any nuclear deal, though his pessimism may reflect similarly pessimistic comments from US officials, who have insisted that no deal is close and that time is “running out,” but they stand in stark contrast to Iran’s top diplomats, who seem convinced something can be worked out. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/03/07/khamenei-downplays-progress-in-nuclear-talks/

Iran and P5+1: Outlook of 2nd Meeting in Almaty
An interview with Hassan Beheshtipour, Iran Review [March 6, 2013]
---- After three rounds of fruitless talks and a subsequent eight-month interregnum, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton met in the Kazakh city of Almaty on February 26-27, 2013, to try their chance one more time. Although none of the two parties have revealed the details of the negotiations after the talks were over, their positive comments have led most analysts to be optimistic about the results of negotiations between Tehran and the P5+1 group – comprising the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany. Iranian Diplomacy has reviewed this issue in the following interview with the analyst of international issues, Hassan Beheshtipour.http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-and-P5-1-Outlook-of-2nd-Meeting-in-Almaty.htm

The IAEA Talks
US, Canadian Envoys Storm Out of IAEA After Iran Criticizes Israel
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [March 6, 2013]
---- After railing against Iran’s “commitment to deception and defiance” of US demands, newly appointed US Ambassador to the IAEA Joseph Macmanus stormed out of the meeting in anger, along with Canadian and Australian counterparts, during Iranian envoy Ali Soltanieh’s comments. The record of the closed-door meeting was not made public, but Soltanieh reported referred to an Israeli policy of “genocide” during his comments, at which time the envoys got up and left in unison. In comments after the meeting, Soltanieh reiterated Iran’s opposition to IAEA demands for access to military sites without any relation to their nuclear program, and complained that the bureaucrats in Vienna have been trying to micromanage the IAEA’s operations in Iran, instead of letting the inspectors and negotiators on the ground actually have the authority to make deals. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/03/06/us-canadian-envoys-storm-out-of-iaea-after-iran-criticizes-israel/

A Back Door to War
By Kate Gould, Friends Committee on National Legislation [March 7, 2013]
---- As of this writing, nearly half the Senate has signed on to what has been called the "Back Door to War" resolution, since it calls for the U.S. to pledge military support for a potential Israeli attack on Iran. This bipartisan resolution (S. Res. 65) introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Robert Menendez (NJ) signals a green light for a U.S.-aided Israeli war that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned could “prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.” Senator Graham admitted that this move in Congress is designed to lay the groundwork for legislation that would commit the U.S. to launch a war against Iran. In an interview with the Washington Post, Sen. Graham highlighted how this resolution will be a stepping stone to a binding authorization for U.S. military force against Iran. http://fcnl.org/blog/2c/a_back_door_to_war/

More on this – Matthew Duss, “A Blank Check for Israel? Bad Idea.” The America Prospect [March 6, 2013] https://prospect.org/article/blank-check-israel-bad-idea

Iran's Khamenei Seen Tightening His Grip in Vote to Replace Ahmadinejad
By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Reuters [March 6, 2013]
---- The presidential campaign season in Iran this year started with a warning. During a visit to the holy city of Qom in mid-January, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a packed crowd that both internal and external enemies may try to undermine the vote. "Those who may offer general advice about the elections - and it could be out of compassion - that the elections should be like this or that, should take care not to further the goal of the enemy," Khamenei said.  That warning was followed by a series of rare public lashings and executions in cities across Iran. And in late January, a dozen journalists were arrested for allegedly being part of a network aiming to destabilize the country. The last time Iranians voted for president in 2009, the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to massive street protests, put down by force in the most tumultuous period of internal unrest the 34-year-old Islamic Republic has seen. This time, the authorities are expected to take no chances. Moussavi and Karroubi have been under house arrest for two years, and no candidate is expected to take up their reformist banner. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/06/us-iran-elections-campaign-insight-idUSBRE9251GA20130306

A Forgotten Anniversary: Iran’s First Revolution and Constitution
Amir-Hussein Firouz Radjy, Open Democracy [March 8, 2013]
---- Too often the history of Iran is reduced to a string of despotisms interrupted by moments of fanatical violence and foreign intervention. With the New Year came and passed the forgotten anniversary of a seminal event in Iranian and Asian history: the anniversary of Iran’s first revolution and Asia’s oldest parliament, whose centenary came and passed some years ago without a murmur.  Remembering that event today would do much to elucidate Iran’s present situation, as well as the vexed relations of Iranians with both their government and the outside world. The zero hour was late on the night of December 30, 1906, when the dying emperor of Iran, Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, signed into law the country’s first constitution, launching a brave experiment in liberal and parliamentary government.  http://www.opendemocracy.net/print/71409

We Have Prepared a Military Option for Iran, US general Says
By Aaron Kalman March 5, 2013, 11:15 pm
---- Sanctions are not preventing Iran’s nuclear progress, the US Army commander in the Middle East told Congress on Tuesday, adding that he had prepared a military option. A simple “No, sir” was General James Mattis’s response when asked whether “the current diplomatic and economic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear capability” were working. “I think we have to continue sanctions, but have other options ready,” said Mattis, of the Central Command, to the Armed Services Committee during an official hearing.  “Between economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and encouragement of behavior that does not cost them such a degree of political support that they end up losing power, there may yet be a way to bring them to their senses,” the general stated. http://www.timesofisrael.com/sanction-on-iran-arent-working-top-us-general-says/

Also on Mattis’ Testimony - Aaron Kalman, “‘If Iran reaches critical point in nuke drive, Israel will attack,’Times of Israel [March 6, 2013] http://www.timesofisrael.com/if-iran-reaches-critical-point-in-nuke-drive-israel-will-attack/

Innocent Iranians Off the Agenda in Almaty
By Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi, Huffington Post [March 6, 2013]
---- As a new round of talks between permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran came to a close, both sides expressed cautious optimism on the road ahead. Despite this positive momentum to start 2013, by no means was the agenda in Almaty comprehensive. Both sides should be held accountable for a glaring omission during the talks: failing to address the medical supply shortages caused by sanctions and exacerbated by Iranian government mismanagement.
Innocent people are deprived of access to vital medicine as a result of the shortage, with some even paying the ultimate price -- even though they are neither responsible for or have influence over Tehran's nuclear policies. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reza-marashi/iran-sanctions_b_2817955.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Sanctions Benefit Iran’s Rich and Powerful
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran March 8, 2013
---- Private business owners in Iran say international sanctions over the country’s nuclear power programme are fuelling a rentier economy that benefits company owners with links to powerful officials while private companies and ordinary people suffer. David S. Cohen, the US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence who oversees the sanctions regime, said last month that sanctions were meant to “intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime”. Instead, many Iranians say the opposite is happening. The banking and oil sanctions imposed by the US and EU have led to a dramatic fall in the Iranian rial, which has dropped by about 60 per cent since January last year, and led to the creation of a multiple currency system, which is exploited by those with links to the political elite. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ae8c8308-80d9-11e2-9fae-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2NLJ6fSt1

The Iran-Pakistan Pipeline
Will the US Block an Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline?
By Jen Alic, Christian Science Monitor [March 5, 2013]
---- On 11 March, Pakistani officials braved the “international community” by announcing that “groundbreaking” work on the 780-kilometer pipeline would begin on the Pakistani side of the border, marking the start of construction by an Iranian-Pakistani consortium. The Pakistani portion of the pipeline will cost around $1.5 billion. This is the key here because the 900-kilometer Iranian portion of the pipeline is already nearing completion. The pipeline will go ahead largely because Pakistan’s energy crisis dictates that it must. And even US sanctions won’t prevent it, and threats emanating from Washington (largely through the US mainstream media) are only working to increase already volatile anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0305/Will-the-US-block-an-Iran-Pakistan-gas-pipeline

More on the pipeline – From Reuters, “Pakistan Starts Work on Iranian Gasline Opposed by U.S.”  [March 11, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/03/11/world/middleeast/11reuters-iran-pakistan-gas.html?ref=world; and Juan Cole, “Pakistan, Iran Defy US Sanctions to Inaugurate Gas Pipeline,” Informed Comment [March 12, 2013]  http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/sanctions-inaugurate-pipeline.html

The Last Thing Syrians Need is More Arms Going to Either Side
By Charles Glass, The Guardian, [March 4 2013]
---- Russia and Iran are providing weapons and ammunition to Syria's President Assad, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar deliver arms through Turkey to his opponents. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has just announced that the US is increasing its non-lethal assistance to the rebels by a further $60m. Britain is asking the EU to lift its embargo on arms sales to the opposition. None of this seems designed to end a conflict that, for a moment, seemed to be heading hesitantly towards negotiation. … Rather than lift the US-European arms embargo on lethal aid, as Britain proposes, why not ask the Russians and Iranians to join it? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/04/syrians-arms-embargo-ask-russia-iran/print

Also useful/interesting – Kurt Pelda, “Aleppo at War: Everyday Life in the Death Zone,” Der Spiegel [Germany] [March 2013] http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/civil-war-makes-life-a-struggle-in-aleppo-in-northern-syria-a-887265.html; Robert Fisk, “Alawite History Reveals The Complexities Of Syria That West Does Not Understand,” The Independent [UK] [March 6, 2013] http://www.zcommunications.org/alawite-history-reveals-the-complexities-of-syria-that-west-does-not-understand-by-robert-fisk; and Juan Cole, “Humanitarian Catastrophe in Syria: Why don’t We Hear More, Do More?” Informed Comment [March 10, 2013] http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/humanitarian-catastrophe-syria.html

West Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan
By Julian Borger and Nick Hopkins, The Guardian [March 8, 2013]
---- Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad's fall. Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the US, but involves British and French instructors. British officials have made it clear that they believe new EU rules have now given the UK the green light to start providing military training for rebel fighters with the aim of containing the spread of chaos and extremism in areas outside the Syrian regime's control.
According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected. … For western and Saudi backers of the opposition, Jordan has become a preferable option through which to channel aid than Turkey. Ankara has been criticised for allowing extremist groups, such as the al-Nusra Front, become dominant on the northern front while it focused on what it sees as the growing threat of Kurdish secessionism.

Also on Jordan – Jason Ditz, “US Troops Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan,” Antiwar.com [March 10, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/03/10/report-us-troops-training-syrian-rebels-in-jordan/

(Video) What is Hezbollah's role in Syria?
From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [March 4, 2013]

(Video) Syria: Military gains and diplomatic pains?
From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [March 10, 2013]

To members and friends of Historians Against the War:
Can you help us with publicizing the April 5-7 "New Faces of War" conference in Baltimore, sponsored by HAW?  The attachment to this message is a flyer for the conference.  We would be grateful for any way in which you could aid in its circulation, either by forwarding it or by printing and posting it.  As you can tell from the conference website (http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013), there is an impressive lineup of speakers and panels.  Thanks for any help in getting the word around.
Jim O’Brien

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"Well Done, Brother Herb Shapiro"
By Staughton Lynd, History News Network, posted March 4

"Lessons from the British Empire"
By Jordan Michael Smith, The National Interest, posted February 28

"Boots on Campus: Yale Flap Highlights Militarization of Academic"
By Kelly B. Vlahos, AntiWar.com, posted February 26

"Sequestering American Exceptionalism"
By Roger Peace, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted February 27
The author teaches history at Tallahassee Community College

"Review of Nick Turse's 'Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam'"
By Alfred W. McCoy,
History News Network, posted February 25
The author teaches history at the University of Wisconsin

"'I Begged Them to Stop': Waterboarding Americans and the Redefinition of Torture"
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, posted February 24

"Abrahamian's 'The Coup': Shah of Shahs on the Peacock Throne"
By Ron Jacobs, The Rag Blog, posted February 20
Review of historians Ervand Abrahamian's new book on the 1953 coup in Iran

"The Latin American Exception: How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth"
By Greg Grandin, TomDispatch.com, posted February 18
The author teaches history at New York University

"Confronting the Ugly Truth about America's Dirty War in Vietnam"
By William J. Astore, History News Network, posted February 11
The author, a retired Air Force officer, teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology

"Avoiding Defeat: 'The Endgame' and 'My Share of the Task'"
By Andrew J. Bacevich, New York Times Book Review, posted February 8
The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University

Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Thanks to Rusti Eisenberg and Rosalyn Baxandall for suggesting articles included in the above list.