Friday, November 21, 2008

Talking with Iran

Howard LaFranchi of The Christian Science Monitor mulls over events that are or will be driving the process towards talks with Iran. Preparation and timing are of the essence.
[...] neither close Obama advisers nor Iran experts are expecting a rush to dialogue with Tehran come Jan. 20, for a number of tactical and event-driven reasons:

• The economic crisis will consume much of the new president's attention and is likely to put off major diplomatic initiatives.

• The sinking price of oil is seen as having clipped Iran's wings, raised domestic woes for Tehran, and made negotiations somewhat less urgent.

• And, most important, Iran holds presidential elections in June, leaving the United States wary of doing anything beforehand that might be used by Iran's extremist and anti-Western forces – in particular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – to electoral advantage.

Also interesting is the piece that appeared on Link TV dealing more particularly with President Ahmadinejad, titled Ahmadinejad: Guns N' Roses.

Mennonite Uni's in exchange with Iran

clipped from
AKRON, Pa. – A delegation from six U.S. and Canadian Mennonite universities visited Iran from Oct. 4 to 10 to explore opportunities for academic collaboration with Iranian universities.
Iranian university officials expressed particular interest in academic exchanges related to peace, justice, conflict and religion, according to several members of the delegation.
Sommer said she hopes that such exchanges can contribute to peace between Iran and the U.S. despite high tensions between governments. She noted that many Iranians fear a military attack by the U.S. or its allies, and many Americans would be afraid to travel to Iran.

"There's nothing scary about going there," she said.

The delegation's visit is part of MCC's ongoing work to build relationships between people in Iran and the West.
Iranian educators are particularly interested in fostering future interactions between Iranian and North American students. Part of the rationale is to combat harmful stereotypes between Iran and the West

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Who has money to buy weapons these days? Surprise: Israel!

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Corp, the U.S. maker of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is lobbying Israel, which has largely weathered the global financial crisis and has ample U.S. defense aid, to close a deal for the jet.

Israel is not a full partner-nation in the production of the F-35, but is among U.S. allies slated to have first pick of the radar-evading, multi-purpose planes early next decade. The F-35 could be a key Israeli bulwark against Iran and other enemies.

U.S. officials have predicted a sale to Israel may be clinched early next year. Funding for the jets, which will cost $40 million a piece, would come mainly from U.S. defense grants to Israel, which will total $30 billion between 2007 and 2017.

Israeli officials have quietly voiced reluctance to be rushed into a deal given discussions on how many Israeli technologies could be incorporated on the Lockheed planes, their delivery schedule, and pricing.

Lockheed Chief Executive Robert Stevens, in a visit to Israel on Sunday, said such concerns could be better addressed by finalizing a sale.

"The earlier one can participate in a program, the greater the amount of participation," he told reporters.

A Lockheed source said seven Israeli companies had already been contracted to contribute to the project.

Robert Trice, a Lockheed senior vice president who accompanied Stevens on the trip, said they had urged their Israeli hosts to speed up proceedings on the F-35.

Asked if Lockheed was attracted by the fact that Israel has a large budget available and has managed, so far, to avoid the fiscal crunches of the financial meltdown, Trice said: "Yes."

Stevens said Lockheed's financial prospects looked good thanks to Washington's awareness of ongoing military needs and the fact that the U.S. defense budget has been set through October 2009, with talks under way about the next fiscal year.

"Our business remains competitive, and it's healthy and it's strong," he said.

There might be some creaks in the international coalition of F-35 production partners. An early order by Italy, Trice said, was scrapped as not affordable. And Norway may see domestic political opposition to going through with the F-35, Trice said.

An Israeli defense official said Israel planned to place an order for the plane, anticipating its delivery by 2014. But he said there were also discussions in Israel on alternatives, such as buying more of the mainstay F-16 jets.

Israel's last major order of American warplanes was for 102 of the custom-built Lockheed F-16I jets. The last four of that batch are due to arrive in Israel in January, Stevens said.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Louise Ireland and Tova Cohen)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spurned by Bush, Iran again offers talks

Ahmadinejad says offer of talks made to Bush (and spurned by him) is still on the table for the president-elect:

Iranian President Congratulates Obama on Election Win

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written Obama a congratulatory letter following his election win. It’s the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution that an Iranian leader has congratulated the winner of an American presidential election. Obama has pledged to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions. In his letter, Ahmadinejad suggests Iran would be open to talks with the United States in accordance with previous overtures that the Bush administration ignored. Ahmadinejad also writes that he hopes “the unjust actions of the past 60 years will give way to a policy encouraging full rights for all nations, especially the oppressed nations of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Bush snubs Iran breakthrough opportunity

Did Bush fear it would have undermined McCain? Some Iranians read it as indicative of no interest from America in anything but regime change or attack.
clipped from
Bush's final Iran blunder?
By announcing that the United States is no longer interested in opening a consular office in Iran, the George W Bush administration has forfeited a golden opportunity for a timely diplomatic breakthrough with Iran
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
also stated clearly and unambiguously Iran's willingness to consider a "freeze-for-freeze" option on its nuclear program
Iran's new signs of compromise have fallen on deaf ears in the US
Had Bush given a green light to a diplomatic presence in Iran, it would have undermined McCain's foreign policy objectives, benefiting Obama.

But, more than the election concerns, the role and influence of pro-Israel lobbyists deserves consideration
Bush's decision is yet another blunder that ranks with the negative reaction of the White House to an Iranian peace initiative in 2003.
The message that is being read

is that no matter how much interest Iran shows
still prioritizes
regime change or
outright attack on Iran
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Russians: US, Israel to use Georgia for Iran attack

Russia claims intelligence reveals the USA and Israel are exchanging massive military aid for the right to use airfields to bomb Iran.

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Russia's envoy to NATO said that the US plans to use airfields in Georgia for a war on Iran.

Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin said Russian intelligence had obtained information indicating that Washington had launched "active military preparations on Georgia's territory" for an air strike on Iran.

"The reason why Washington values (Georgian President Mikheil) Saakashvili's regime so highly" is that he has given permission to the Pentagon to use its airfields, he said.

Other reports suggested that the Georgian airfields could also be used by Israel for an attack on Iran.
Israel had supplied Georgia with sophisticated Hermes 450 UAV spy drones, multiple rocket launchers and other military equipment that Georgia, as well as modernized Georgia's Soviet-made tanks that were used in the attack against South Ossetia.
Israeli instructors had also helped train Georgia troops.
clipped from

US Plans to Use Georgia for Attacking Iran: Russia's NATO envoy

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Report: US about to strike Iran; Tehran warns of World War III

A major Dutch newspaper reported on Monday that the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD recently pulled all of its operatives out of Iran after learning that an American air strike on Iranian nuclear and missile production facilities is imminent.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that AIVD had previously been conducting a very successful sabotage operation against Iran's production of medium and long-range missiles.

According to the report, AIVD pulled out of Iran after being warned that the country's missile factories would be among the targets hit by unmanned American bombers "within weeks."

Israel's Ma'ariv daily newspaper reported on Friday that Jerusalem had reached a strategic decision to deny Iran nuclear weapons at all costs and by any means.

Responding to the latest reports, the deputy chief of staff of the Iranian military, General Masoud Jazayeri, said on Saturday that any attack on his nation would result in World War III.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

ALETR: US & UK Begin War Games in the Persian Gulf

The US has begun five-day military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, claiming it is preparing for a 'potential confrontation' in the region.

According to a US navy statement issued on Wednesday, the joint war games led by Britain's Royal Navy Commodore Peter Hudson have also brought together vessels from Britain and Bahrain and started Sunday.

Earlier in August, a large armada of US and European naval vessels were reportedly deployed to the Persian Gulf to reinforce the US strike force in the region.

The deployment took place following a military operation, which saw more than a dozen warships from the US, Britain and France conducting war games in the Atlantic Ocean.

The current statement by the Bahrain headquarters of the US 5th Fleet claims that the joint maneuvers are aimed at better protecting coalition ships against vessels 'deemed threatening'.

This comes as the West has intensified its go-to-war rhetoric against Iran.

The US, the UK and Israel are among countries that accuse Tehran of pursuing a military nuclear program and under such pretext have attempted to portray the country as a threat to regional and global security. Washington and Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened to launch military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities should the country continue with its uranium enrichment program. This is while the UN body responsible for monitoring Iranian nuclear activities has confirmed that Tehran enriches uranium-235 to a level of 3.7 percent - a rate consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.


Commodore Hudson stated that the war games dubbed 'Goalkeeper' are intended for practicing skills such as 'locating and tracking' vessels in the Persian Gulf and 'handling command and control' operations during a potential confrontation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Declaration of War

Markets have been watching every move of President Bush and the Israeli government to decipher whether war with Iran is in the making. Few expected, however, that the equivalent of a green light for war would come from our Democratic-controlled Congress. That is what Congress is preparing to do through a resolution calling for a de facto naval blockade in the Persian Gulf to prohibit Iran from importing refined petroleum products.

The last time the United States imposed a blockade on another country was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy labeled the move "quarantine" because he understood a blockade to be universally regarded as an act of war. Yet, a blockade is exactly what many politicians are considering in Washington and elsewhere.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly suggested the idea to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a recent meeting, and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain alluded to the same during his speech at the America Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington. With hardly a word of opposition, Congress is poised to pass a resolution calling on the president to enact such a blockade, possibly as early as next week. This is a de facto capitulation of the legislative body to the Bush administration.

If they choose to pass this resolution, Congress will make a bad situation worse not only for the American economy, but also for stability in Middle East.

Among factors contributing to short-term oil prices are supply and demand, market speculation and the value of the dollar. Risk of a natural or political catastrophe jeopardizes the production and flow of oil which also plays a major role in the price Americans will have to pay at the pump.

Take, for example, the market´s reaction to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz´s statement last month that an attack on Iran's nuclear sites may be "unavoidable." That statement has been blamed for the largest single-day rise in the price of oil in history - $11 a barrel.

For each instance of tough talk, money is grabbed directly out of the pockets of American taxpayers and sent to oil-producing states - including, of course, Iran.

A declaration from Congress calling on the president to take such drastic action before direct diplomacy even begins would likely fuel even greater uncertainty in the oil sector.

And, why shouldn't it? The Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is the strategic chokepoint for nearly 40 percent of the world's oil exports. By recommending a naval blockade in the Persian Gulf, Congress could likely be responsible for oil prices approaching $200 a barrel, which translates to nearly $7.50 a gallon of gas.

Even more significant is the impact such a move would have on the region´s stability. The mere mention of another war in the Middle East sets nerves on edge, and blockading Iran would create a tinderbox where even a small incident could erupt into a conflagration. To say nothing of the fact that a blockade is a prima facie act of war under international law.

Proponents of the naval blockade resolution argue that sanctions and diplomacy have failed, and that the naval blockade is the next step short of war.

They are wrong on both counts: Proper diplomacy - direct talks between the U.S. and Iran - has neither failed nor succeeded, because it has yet to be tried. And the blockade is not a step short of war; it is war. It virtually guarantees military confrontation causing unnecessary casualties on both sides.

The solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program will be found not by creating a situation that ensures military confrontation, but through direct diplomacy.

Negotiations are the only way for the international community to guarantee that Iran maintains its nuclear program for civilian use while also preventing another disastrous war that will undoubtedly further destabilize the Middle East.

Time is not neutral in this equation. Nor is it on the side of America or Iran. Time is on the side of war. This scenario, as disastrous as it sounds, assumes that bullying Iran will cause Tehran to stop enrichment altogether. The likely scenario, however - and according to keen observers - is that it is a preamble to war.

For each day that passes without dialogue, the world is brought closer to another war in the Middle East - paid first by Americans at the gas pumps, and eventually, American lives and treasure.

Cyrus Bina, distinguished research professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, is the author of "The Economics of the Oil Crisis.

Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College.

This op-ed was first printed by Washington Times, July 5, 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

US Says Exercise by Israel Seemed Directed at Iran

WASHINGTON - Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.0620 01 1

0620 01 1

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. A spokesman for the Israeli military would say only that the country’s air force “regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.”

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

H. CON. RES. 362 -Calling For The Naval Blockade of Iran

H.Con.Res. 362, new resolution introduced on May 22, 2008 by Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN), is raising controversy in Washington and across the country. There is a particular clause that some many fear is tantamount to declaring that the President should pursue a naval blockade against Iran, which would be an act of war.

The bill was introduced just prior to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Meeting and urging co-sponsorship is one of AIPAC's central legislative asks. They are currently circulating a letter in support of H.Con.Res. 362 and the Senate companion, S.Res. 580.

According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to "pass like a hot knife through butter" before the end of June on what is called suspension -- meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate. It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is noncontroversial. As of June 18, the bill already has 169 co-sponsors. If and when the bill is voted on suspension, there will be a roll call vote and AIPAC will use how members voted on the resolution in the lead up to the elections.

When Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Vice-President Cheney, and then against President Bush, one of his key accusations was that the Bush Administration has tried to lead the United States into war with Iran. So you might have thought that Members of Congress who signed on to the impeachment crusade shared Rep. Kucinich’s critique of U.S. saber-rattling towards Iran.

If you thought that, you might want to think again. The evidence is, shall we say, mixed. Representative Robert Wexler, who has made support of impeachment a signature issue, has signed on to a House resolution promoted by AIPAC that appears to endorse a naval blockade of Iran. A naval blockade would, of course, be an act of war. If not sanctioned by the UN Security Council - and there is no reason to believe that it would be - it would be a war crime. The resolution makes no mention of seeking Security Council approval.
As well as AIPAC the American Jewish Committee is working to get this resolution passed but they do not mention the part that would enable a Naval Blockade, they call it an urgent effort—economic, political, and diplomatic—to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

If it were just that it would not have this key part buried in the penultimate paragraph of the resolution -
(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program; and
Just Foreign Policy have a form to write to your representative (if a citizen of the American Empire) and wake them up to this and ask them not to support the resolution. Click Here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sen. Obama, please re-think your position on Iran

Face the absence of evidence of nuclear weapons, and call out Sen. McCain for following the WMD scare George Bush followed with Iraq.
Iran stopped researching nuclear weapons in 2003.
The U.S. intelligence community knows this.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency knows this.
The international community knows this.
If Iran researched nuclear weapons in secret until March 2004 as documents allege, the IAEA will investigate the matter with due diligence.
And if Iran is caught red-handed, she will comply with the IAEA processes accordingly.

In the meantime, as the Democratic nominee for U.S. president, Obama must change his tune from that of his Republican adversary Sen. John McCain on this issue.

Obama must say that McCain is lying about Iran just like the Bush administration lied about Iraq.
Neither Republican has any proof either Middle Eastern country has nuclear weapons.
Iran is smarter than to launch a nuclear strike on Israel anyway because the Jewish state would retaliate with her own secret nuclear arsenal.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

The Biggest Mistake of the 21st Century

From Der Spiegel........

Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran

The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran's nuclear facilities -- without the Americans, if necessary -- is beginning to take shape.


The one question over which Israel's various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.

The hawks, on the other hand, believe time is running out. They stress that there is now a "favorable window of opportunity" that will close with the US presidential election in November, and that Israel can only depend on American support for as long as current US President George W. Bush is still in charge in Washington. They are convinced that the country cannot truly depend on any of the candidates to succeed Bush in office. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, has already said that he favors direct negotiations with Tehran. And even if Republican John McCain wins the race, politicians in Jerusalem do not expect him to be ordering an attack as his first official act -- despite his performance, at a campaign appearance last year, of the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann" with the lyrics: "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."


And no one knows better than Israeli leadership itself just how much power lies in the mere belief that a country has nuclear weapons. After all, Israel itself has used this as a deterrent for the past 40 years. It is believed that an estimated 100 to 200 nuclear warheads have been produced at the Dimona reactor in the Negev Desert. Israeli historian Benny Morris, who is not normally considered a hardliner, recently suggested using the weapons: "If the issue is whether Israel or Iran should perish, then Iran should perish."

I find this to be an extremely unstable situation, and would urge everyone to click on the link, and read the entire story.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

War back on table?

The threat of war with Iran has been on and off so many times that one does not know what to believe anymore. Lately, it has seemed that the no-war camp has won. Not any more!
[...] here's the latest story from McClatchy's Washington Bureau, the people who got the Iraq story right before Shock and Awe hit the fan in 2003. And what they have to report is not encouraging [...] - More

Related material:
Cheney winning the inside battles again
An Israeli minister's dual loyalty ... to Iran?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jimmy Carter: Make peace with Iran

A startling idea! Imagine, trying to make peace with a nation before going to war against it!

Jimmy Carter calls for US to make friends with Iran after 27 years

"What happens if, in three years time, Iran has a nuclear weapon," Mr Carter asked. "I'm not sure that is going to happen, but if it does, what do we do? They are rational people like all of us in this room. Do they want to commit suicide? I would guess not. So what we have to do is talk with them now and say to them we want to be their friends.
Twenty-five years ago we cut off trading with Iran. We've got to resume trading to show Iran we are friends."
Mr Carter also criticised President George Bush, saying it was a "serious mistake and terrible departure" from the actions of previous US presidents not to engage with countries with which they differed. "The president of the administration in Washington is the first one to have ever done this and I think we close off ourselves from any sort of rational accommodation of the views of other parties in order to reach out on major goals,"
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McCain Gaffe Alert: Iran again

Sen. McCain invents 20 years of negotiations between the United States and Tehran, apparently unaware of the snubs dealt by the Bush Administration when Iran has tried to talk.

It is looking increasingly like John McCain really knows nothing about Iran, despite wanting to bomb them.

Yesterday, in his big non-proliferation speech, McCain took his gaffes to a new level. He actually invented 20 years of negotiations between the United States and Tehran. In his speech, McCain said:

"Today, some people seem to think they've discovered a brand new cause, something no one before them ever thought of. Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades."
Max Bergmann points out: The stated policy of the United States since April 7, 1980 has been that we don't talk to the Iranians.

Taken with his other many gaffes on Iran (repeated Sunni/Shia screw up, the use of Khamenei and Ahmajinedad interchangeably)
such confusion should sound alarm bells
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Ahmadinejad's hold on power "slipping badly"

More pragmatic speaker elected; likely to look for agreement with the West:
clipped from

Are Ahmadinejad's Days Numbered?

Ali Larijani projected a presidential bearing as he accepted his election as speaker of Iran's parliament on Wednesday — a vote that boded ill for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Larijani, a high-profile arch-rival of the President, addressed global themes in his address to the opening session of the Majlis
While Iran's insistence on its right to enrich uranium unites all major factions in the country, Larijani represents a more pragmatic approach to handling the issue, aimed at finding agreement with the West and avoiding confrontation.
makes two things clear: President Ahmadinejad's hold on power is slipping badly, and next year's Iranian presidential election race is now wide open
Prominent politicians and clerical figures have begun distancing themselves from Ahmadinejad and rallying around Larijani
Ahmadinejad has alienated many in his own conservative camp with an arrogant personal style and erratic economic and foreign policies
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Bush Manifests the Zionist Vision

Israel: Bush means business on Iran nukes
Haaretz, By Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan

Israel is fully satisfied with the results of the visit of George W. Bush, including policy on Iran's nuclear program, senior officials in Jerusalem said yesterday.

"In talks with the president of the United States during his visit it was made clear that Bush's statements on the subject of Iran's nuclear program are fully backed in practice," a senior official said.

The president's attitude on Iran was well known in Israel, and the expectation had been that he would use forceful language against Tehran, both during talks with Israeli officials and in his address to the Knesset, not only on the nuclear question but on Iran's role in the region.

During meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, more data was presented to back the desire for a reassessment of an American intelligence report which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

One Israeli source said that it is hoped that the new information would influence the administration's stance on Iran's nuclear program.

The source said that Olmert will discuss the subject during his visit to Washington in two weeks.

President Bush addressed the Knesset yesterday, promising unflinching U.S. support. "Citizens of Israel, Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you," he said. Bush added that calls for negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are akin to the efforts to appease Hitler before World War II.

The president opened his speech by saying in Hebrew: "Happy Independence Day." His address focused on the alliance between the U.S. and Israel.

"Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you," Bush said.

"You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on America to stand at its side."

He noted that Israel's Declaration of Independence "was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses, and David - a homeland for the chosen people in Eretz Yisrael."

The president also presented his vision of Israel in the next 60 years. "Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people."

His address was interrupted no less than 14 times by loud applause.

"America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," the president said.

Bush accused Ahmadinejad of seeking to return the Middle East to the Middle Ages by calling for the destruction of Israel.

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," he said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

After the speech made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Knesset in March, it was hard to expect a more pro-Zionist speech. But as a former Knesset speaker, MK Reuven Rivlin, put it yesterday, "I wish our leaders would make speeches like this." Rivlin described Bush as "manifesting the Zionist vision."

Contrary to the applause Bush received for his address, the speech by Prime Minister Olmert was less popular and stirred considerable controversy.

Olmert promised that when there is a peace agreement it "will be approved by a large majority in the Knesset and it will be supported by the vast majority of the Israeli public."

Two MKs from the National Union, Zvi Hendel and Uri Ariel, left the plenum in protest, complaining that the event was "used to promote a political agenda that is opposed by most of the Israeli public."

Hendel issued a statement calling on Olmert "to learn from the president of the United States what Zionism is."

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called out during Olmert's speech, "in your dreams."

He later proposed that Bush should replace Olmert.

Throughout the exchanges amount the rival Israeli politicians, President Bush appeared to be enjoying himself. When Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik finished her speech, he offered his hand in a "give me five" kind of move.

Olmert diverged from his speech and said that "we will bring before the Knesset an agreement that is based on the vision of two states for two peoples. This agreement will be approved by a large majority in the Knesset and the entire nation."

On Iran, Olmert said that "the seriousness of the threat demands that no means be discounted." However, he made it clear that "a uniform international political and economic front against Iran is currently in place, and tougher and more effective sanctions are a necessary stage, even if it is not the final stage, on the right way to block the Iranian threat."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What does Hillary's Win in West Virginia reflect?

Demographics of West Virginia (csv)

White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*

2000 (total population) 96.01% 3.49% 0.59% 0.66% 0.05%

2000 (Hispanic only) 0.63% 0.04% 0.02% 0.01% 0.01%

2005 (total population) 95.99% 3.56% 0.56% 0.69% 0.05%

2005 (Hispanic only) 0.80% 0.04% 0.02% 0.01% 0.01%

Growth 2000–05 (total population) 0.46% 2.49% -3.96% 5.57% -2.80%

Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) 0.28% 2.30% -4.24% 5.96% -0.52%

Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 27.74% 21.51% 5.56% -20.22% -16.67%

* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

I'd say RACISM!

They told us, shoot them all, because if they let one person attack you, then they are not innocent.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Human Shield Movement to Iran: 10,000 Westerners pledge to stop Bush!


The Human Shield Movement to Iran today claimed its 10,000th pledge volunteer and warned President Bush that any attempt at military intervention against Iran would be met by a massive mobilization of human shields.

The human shield movement to Iran has been mobilizing for over three years now using online mechanisms such as Pledge Bank to secure volunteers willing to travel to Iran to position themselves around civilian infrastructure sites in order to try and prevent what they believe would be a catastrophic and unjustified attack. Whilst it is expected that most missiles will be directed at military installations the human shields are concerned that sites in the Iranian capital will also be targeted. Today Steven Morris from Birmingham was the 10,000th person to pledge himself as human shield volunteer. Volunteers from 22 countries have already pledged themselves to the mission and are currently in the latter stages of preparation in order to be ready to travel to Iran "at very short notice".

Steven Morris, the 10,000th pledge member of the movement said today

"I am fully committed to going to Iran to try and stop an attack on Iran. I demonstrated against the Iraq war and it made no difference. Having ten thousand Westerners will make the war-mongers think twice before they attack Iran. I do not support the Ahmadinejad regime but if we ignore international law and start bombing a sovereign nation that has not deviated from its obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and offers no direct threat to any nation, the world will be an much more dangerous place."

A spokesperson for the movement, David Tyler said today;

"Travelling to Iran as human shields is the 'last resort' but it seems that an attack on Iran is not just a real possibility but an imminent reality. The military and political maneuvers all seem to point to one thing, The unproven allegations that Iran is arming insurgents in Iran, the labeling of the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists, the increased military spending, the build up of forces on the Iranian borders and the unverified and unverifiable claims about Iran's nuclear weapons program have left us in little doubt that time is running out. Traditional methods of protest are ineffective in the face of the neo-Con determination to implement their global vision.

We now have our 10,000th pledge member and whilst we recognize that many of these people will not be able to actually travel to Tehran, many have already arranged Iranian visas and are ready to travel to Iran at short notice. None of the shields want to die but all are unwilling to sit by and wait for politicians to launch another disastrous war in their name. It is up to each and every one of us to do everything in our power to prevent a dangerously misguided foreign policy. Many people cannot join the movement because of commitments to family and dependents but it is incumbent on all of us to do something to our opposition to war which will once again be carried out in our name."

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