The Anti-Empire Report
Another peace scare. Boy, that was close. The US intelligence community's new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) -- "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" -- makes a point of saying up front (in bold type): "This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons." The report goes on to state: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program ."
Isn't that good news, that Iran isn't about to attack the United States or Israel with nuclear weapons? Surely everyone is thrilled that the horror and suffering that such an attack -- not to mention an American or Israeli retaliation or pre-emptive attack -- would bring to this sad old world. Here are some of the happy reactions from American leaders:
Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the NIE's conclusion that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
National Security Adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said: The report "tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates "argued forcefully at a Persian Gulf security conference ... that U.S. intelligence indicates Iran could restart its secret nuclear weapons program 'at any time' and remains a major threat to the region."
John R. Bolton, President Bush's former ambassador to the United Nations and pit bull of the neo-conservatives, dismissed the report with: "I've never based my view on this week's intelligence."
And Bush himself added: "Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The NIE says that Iran had a hidden -- a covert nuclear weapons program. That's what it said. What's to say they couldn't start another covert nuclear weapons program? ... Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, 'Okay, why don't we just stop worrying about it?' Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously. My opinion hasn't changed."
Hmmm. Well, maybe the reaction was more positive in Israel. Here's a report from Uri Avnery, a leading Israeli columnist: "The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage. ... Shouldn't we be overjoyed? Shouldn't the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets? After all, we have been saved! ... Lo and behold -- no bomb and no any-minute-now. The wicked Ahmadinejad can threaten us as much as he wants -- he just has not got the means to harm us. Isn't that a reason for celebration? So why does this feel like a national disaster?"
We have to keep this in mind -- America, like Israel, cherishes its enemies. Without enemies, the United States appears to be a nation without moral purpose and direction. The various managers of the National Security State need enemies to protect their jobs, to justify their swollen budgets, to aggrandize their work, to give themselves a mission, to send truckloads of taxpayer money to the corporations for whom the managers will go to work after leaving government service. And they understand the need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is US Col. Dennis Long, speaking in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War, when he was director of "total armor force readiness" at Fort Knox:
For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We won't have his playbook, we won't know where the stadium is, or how many guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence of your organization and your systems.
In any event, all of the above is completely irrelevant if Iran has no intention of attacking the United States or Israel, even if they currently possessed a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. As I've asked before: What possible reason would Iran have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?
The crime of GWS: Governing while socialist In Chile, during the 1964 presidential election campaign, in which Salvador Allende, a Marxist, was running against two other major candidates much to his right, one radio spot featured the sound of a machine gun, followed by a woman's cry: "They have killed my child -- the communists." The announcer then added in impassioned tones: "Communism offers only blood and pain. For this not to happen in Chile, we must elect Eduardo Frei president." Frei was the candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, the majority of whose campaign costs were underwritten by the CIA according to the US Senate. One anti-Allende campaign poster which appeared in the thousands showed children with a hammer and sickle stamped on their foreheads.
The scare campaign played up to the fact that women in Chile, as elsewhere in Latin America, are traditionally more religious than men, more susceptible to being alarmed by the specter of "godless, atheist communism".
Allende lost. He won the men's vote by 67,000 over Frei (in Chile men and women vote separately), but amongst the women Frei came out ahead by 469,000 ... testimony, once again, to the remarkable ease with which the minds of the masses of people can be manipulated, in any and all societies.
In Venezuela, during the recent campaign concerning the constitutional reforms put forth by Hugo Chávez, the opposition played to the same emotional themes of motherhood and "communist" oppression. (Quite possibly because of the same CIA advice.) "I voted for Chávez for President, but not now. Because they told me that if the reform passes, they're going to take my son, because he will belong to the state," said a woman, Gladys Castro, interviewed in Venezuela before the December 2 vote which rejected the reforms; this according to a report of Venezuelanalysis.com, an English-language news service published by Americans in Caracas. "Gladys is not the only one to believe the false rumors she's heard," the report added. "Thousands of Venezuelans, many of them Chávez supporters, have bought the exaggerations and lies about Venezuela's Constitutional Reform that have been circulating across the country for months. Just a few weeks ago, however, the disinformation campaign ratcheted up various notches as opposition groups and anti-reform coalitions placed large ads in major Venezuelan papers. The most scandalous was ... (a) two-page spread in the country's largest circulation newspaper, Últimas Noticias, which claimed about the Constitutional Reform: 'If you are a Mother, YOU LOSE! Because you will lose your house, your family and your children. Children will belong to the state'." This particular ad was placed by a Venezuelan business organization, Cámara Industrial de Carabobo, which has among its members dozens of subsidiaries of the largest US corporations operating in Venezuela.
Chávez lost the December 2 vote (in part, I believe, because of his unrelenting bravado, which turned off any number of his supporters) but he's still a marked man in Washington, which can not stomach the prospect of five more years of the man and his policies. It's not because the United States is looking to grab Venezuela's oil. It's because Chávez is completely independent of Washington and has used his oil wealth to become a powerful force in Latin America, inspiring and aiding other independent-minded governments in the region, like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, as well as carrying on close relations with the likes of China, Russia, and Iran. The man does not show proper understanding that he's living in the Yankee's back yard; indeed, in the Yankee's world. The Yankee empire grew to its present size and power precisely because it did not tolerate men like Salvador Allende and Hugo Chávez and their quaint socialist customs. Despite their best efforts, the CIA was unable to prevent Allende from becoming Chile's president in 1970. When subsequent parliamentary elections made it apparent to the Agency and their Chilean conservative allies that they would not be able to oust the left from power legally, they instigated a successful military coup, in 1973.
Here for the record is a brief summary of Washington's charming history in relation to such men, their foreign ideas, and their dubious governments since the end of World War Two:
Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected; successful a majority of the time.
Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries.
Helped to suppress dozens of populist/nationalist movements.
Although Chávez has spoken publicly about his being assassinated, and his government has several times uncovered what they perceived to be planned assassination attempts, from both domestic and foreign sources, the Venezuelan president has continued to take repeated flights and attend numerous conferences and meetings all over the world, exposing himself and his airplane again and again. The cases of Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, military leader of Panama, should perhaps be considered. Both were reformers who refused to allow their countries to become client states of Washington or American corporations. Both were firm supporters of the radical Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua; both banned an American missionary group, the Summer Institute of Linguistics -- long suspected of CIA ties -- because of suspicious political behavior; both died in mysterious plane disasters during the Reagan administration in 1981, Torrijos' plane exploding in mid-air. Torrijos had earlier been marked for assassination by Richard Nixon.
Who would have thought? Bush has been vindicated. We're making progress in Iraq! The "surge" is working, we're told. Never mind that the war is totally and perfectly illegal. Not to mention totally and perfectly, even exquisitely, immoral. It's making progress. That's a good thing, is it not? Meanwhile, the al Qaeda types have greatly increased their number all over the Middle East and South Asia, so their surge is making progress too. Good for them. And speaking of progress in the War on Terror, is anyone progressing faster and better than the Taliban?
The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided -- a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who's keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. (Real Americans don't do Arab body counts.) A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration's claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: "The U.S. military's claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends." The article then continued in the same critical vein.
To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead or in exile abroad or in bursting American and Iraqi pri