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U.S. is studying military strike options on Iran
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oppenheimer wrote:
Dear Cyrus,

With any luck, we should see the int. community decide to take real action within weeks at the UN, as the draft resolution on sanctions is being debated among parties at this time.

In case of temper tantrums, there's three US Carrier groups in the Persian Gulf vicinity as I write.

As I said in a short essay in 1993 we should not judge Free World Machiavellian politicians by their words but by their hard and difficult choices, actions, and great sacrifices. Due to the fact that I do not have much respect and trust on Machiavellian politicians of Neo Colonialists EU, Russia, China and some of so called US Machiavellian American Politicians who are hiding behind the so called “Realist” platform (CFR Invitation to Ahmadinejad ...) to deceive the public opinion therefore I do not expect any good outcome and actions against Islamic Fascists until I see real results and rotten regime change as minimum. We should not forget that the G8 is partially responsible for helping Islamic Fascists in past 28 years under so called “Realist” platform and so far we have not seen any real support for Regime Change. Unfortunately today “Hypocrisy” is the name of the game for short term gain in the name of National Interest …. and that is why great majority of Americans are loosing interest in politics and don’t have much trust and respect for today politicians. The American founding fathers - George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams … were not Machiavellian and that is why they have been able to create a great foundation and the founding fathers have achieved what our generation can not achieve with far superior power … Why?
Whether we like it or not, Detente With Islamic Fascists Terror Masters is unwritten G8 policy today and for past 28 years. So far we have not seen any clear actions for regime change …..

1993 wrote:
Even if we compare Cyrus the Great with political leaders of our time he still achieves highest rank. One of the key attributes of Cyrus the Great was his fight against cruel rulers while not becoming a blind expansionist.

We would admire Cyrus the Great more when we see domination of Machiaavelli philosophy in our time around this globe. The Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) is notorious for his blunt advice that a ruler interested in maintaining and increasing his power should make use of deceitfulness, cunning, and lies, combined with a ruthless use of force. Machiavelli principal fame rests upon his book "The Prince"(a handbook for dictators). The Prince may be considered a primer of practical advice for a head of state. The basic point of view of the book is that in order to succeed; a prince should ignore moral considerations entirely and depend upon strength and cunning. Machiavelli discussed history and politics in purely human terms, and simply ignored moral consideration. Unfortunately Machiavelli is considered to be one of the principal founders of modern political thought. In chapter 17 of The Prince, Machiavelli discusses whether it is better for a prince to be loved or feared: "The reply is that one ought to be both feared and loved, but...it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting ...for love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purposes, but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails." Often, the most denunciation came from those who practiced what Machiavelli preached- a hypocrisy of which Machiavelli might approve, in principle! Therefore we should not judge politicians by their words but by their hard and difficult choices, actions, and great sacrifices.

Because of all the above reasons and high moral and ethical values Cyrus the Great scored the highest rank among all the greatest world's leaders both in ancient and modern times. Therefore Cyrus the Great may be said to be among the greatest political leaders of all time throughout human history.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:10 am    Post subject: Iran & W - What does the president know, and when ? Reply with quote

Iran & W.
What does the president know, and when did he know it?

October 30, 2006
National Review Online
Michael Ledeen


“We’ve got a lot of issues with Iran,” President Bush told a news conference last week. “The first is whether or not they will help this young democracy succeed,” he said, referring to Iraq. He said the “second issue” was whether Iran would help the Lebanese government, and that the “big issue” was “whether or not Iran will end up with a nuclear weapon.”

The heart sinks. Can anyone — let alone the president — possibly believe that the mullahs might help Iraq succeed? The only “success” they are interested in is the humiliation of America and the domination of Iraq. Can anyone possibly believe that Iran might help the Lebanese government? The only thing they care about is the destruction of that government, the slaughter or domination of the Maronite Christians, and the creation of an Islamic Republic under the thumb of Hizbollah. And finally, how can anyone possibly believe that the “big issue” is whether or not Iran will get nukes? The issue is American lives, now being taken in Iraq and Afghanistan by Iranian weapons, killers, and managers. This is not new; it has been going on for 27 years, and we have yet to respond.

As I warned both before and after the liberation of Iraq, the Iranians and their Syrian allies, fearing their doom if we succeeded in creating a free Iraq, unleashed a terror war against us and the Iraqi people, just as they had done 20 years before in Lebanon. There is abundant evidence, as Bob Woodward tells us in his latest book, State of Denial.

Here are three examples (actually two; the first and third appear to be the same, albeit 60 pages apart):

Pages 414-415: “Some evidence indicated that the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah was training insurgents to build and use the shaped IED’s, at the urging of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. That kind of action was arguably an act of war by Iran against the United States. If we start putting out everything we know about these things, Zelikow felt, the administration might well start a fire it couldn’t put out...”

Page 449: “The components and the training for (the IEDs) had more and more clearly been traced to Iran, one of the most troubling turns in the war.”

Page 474ß: “The radical Revolutionary Guards Corps had asked Hizbollah, the terrorist organization, to conduct some of the training of Iraqis to use the EFPs, according to U.S. Intelligence. If all this were put out publicly, it might start a fire that no one could put out...Second, if it were true, it meant that Iranians were killing American soldiers — an act of war...

It’s not the first time we have had information about Iran’s murder of Americans. Louis Freeh tells us that the same thing happened following the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. On page 18 of Freeh’s My FBI he reports that Saudi Ambassador Bandar told Freeh “we have the goods,” pointing “ineluctably towad Iran.” The culprits were the same as in Iraq: Hezbollah, under direction from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. And then there was a confession from outgoing Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani to Crown Prince Abdullah (at the time, effectively the Saudi king): page 19: “the Khobar attack had been planned and carried out with the knowledge of the Iranian supreme ruler, Ayatollah Khamenei.”

As Freeh puts it, “this had been an act of war against the United States of America.”

Clinton famously failed to respond to Iran’s act of war. Instead, he attempted to achieve a modus vivendi with the mullahs, the kind of negotiated surrender now so fervently proposed by “realists” of the Brent Scowcroft/Richard Haass/James Baker school, supported by Henry Kissinger on his pessimistic days. This sort of appeasement has always encouraged enemies like the Iranian theocrats to intensify their attacks on us and on those of their own people who dare to call for freedom, and so it has proven ever since.

Is it possible that President Bush is not aware of this history? Just barely. Woodward’s account shows that there were at least some policy makers (he cites Zelikow, but there are no doubt others as well) who were very reluctant to pass this information up the line to a president who could be expected to take action after he learned about it. The secretary of State, Colin Powell, was famously unwilling engage the United States involved in support of Iranian dissidents (“We don’t want to get involved in an Iranian family squabble”), and his Deputy, Richard Armitage, actually argued that Iran was a “democracy.” They would not have wanted the president to know that there were daily Iranian acts of war against the United States.

What about the intelligence community? Are they not obliged to inform the president of Iranian acts of war? Indeed they are, but they, too, were concerned about the president’s muscular foreign policy. I was asked by a high-ranking intelligence officer to “take it easy on Iran,” because, he thought, “things were going along nicely,” and in a decade or so we could expect an Iranian democracy. But if we got engaged, “God only knows what will happen.” I suppose he is now one of the happy thinkers who say that Iran won’t have nukes for another decade or so. Worse yet, in December, 2001, Iranians meeting secretly with American officials in Rome, informed the United States about Iranian plans to kill coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. The information was correct, and the killers were eliminated. But in short order, orders were given to terminate all such contacts with Iranians, even though the Rome meeting had produced life-saving information. I can well believe that the preside nt was never told about the Iranian-sponsored killers.

According to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Bob Woodward had eight hours with the president. Did he ever ask if we were at war with Iran? Given the explosive evidence provided in State of Denial, he certainly should have. But if he did, there is no record of it in his book.

Perhaps the question was not asked for the same reason the policymakers and spooks didn’t want it known that Iran was waging war on us: fear of the consequences. For once you put the Iranian question in that context, it’s really impossible to pretend that our “issues” with the mullahs consist of trying to convince them to help freedom in Iraq and Lebanon, and getting them to cooperate in dismantling their nuclear program. Once you are forced to address the facts, all sorts of “issues” drop into the background.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:46 pm    Post subject: US accuses Syria, Iran of Lebanon plot Reply with quote

US accuses Syria, Iran of Lebanon plot
November 2, 2006 - 9:04AM


The United States has accused Syria, Iran and Hizbollah militants of plotting to topple the Lebanese government and warned them to keep their "hands off."

The United States has held up Lebanon as an example of emerging democracy in the Middle East.

"We are therefore increasingly concerned by mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments, Hizbollah, and their Lebanese allies are preparing plans to topple Lebanon's democratically elected government," White House spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:24 pm    Post subject: Rice warns Iran after missile launches Reply with quote

Rice warns Iran after missile launches

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chided Iran for trying to act "tough" after it fired a new long-range missile for the first time on Thursday, but warned Tehran would "suffer greatly" if it used the weapon in anger.

Iranian forces launched the Shahab-3 ballistic missile as they began 10 days of war games that coincide with US-led efforts to impose UN-mandated sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

"I think they're trying to demonstrate that they're tough," Rice said of the missile test.

"But the Iranians also I think are not unaware that the security environment is one in which if they actually were to do something, Iran would suffer greatly and so I think they probably understand that," she said in a radio interview.

Referring to Iran's refusal to comply with a UN Security Council resolution demanding it abandon suspect nuclear activities, Rice said: "I think the Iranians are a threat and that's why the international community's got to be strong in resisting their ambitions."

She said Thursday's missile test was Iran's way of telling the world "you're not going to keep us from getting a nuclear weapon".

"The world has to say to them, yes, we will," she said.

Rice was speaking amid ongoing negotiations between the US and its big power partners over a package of sanctions designed to force Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Iran insists the program is aimed at providing fuel for nuclear power plants while Washington and others suspect the ultimate aim is to develop atomic weapons.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iran military threatens U.S. troops in region
Thu. 23 Nov 2006
Iran Focus


Tehran, Iran, Nov. 23 – The supreme commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a daring threat to the United States that its troops in the Middle East faced peril if the U.S. showed aggression against the Islamic Republic.

“If the United States was to attack Iran, its 200,000 forces and its 33 bases would be extremely vulnerable. Both America’s policy-makers and military commanders are aware of this”, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi told hard-line Islamists. His comments were reported by the government-run news agency Fars on 21 November.

“The global arena in which we live today is one of uncertainty and distrust. It is a sensitive, determining, and complicated period for the region and the world”, General Safavi said.

He warned that Tehran had the military muscle to impose a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz on Iran’s southern shores.

“Whenever Iran chooses, it can control the Strait of Hormuz, in which 17 millions barrels of oil travel through each day”, Safavi said.

About two-fifths of the world's oil supplies pass through the 50-kilometre-wide entrance to the Persian Gulf.

Earlier this year, the IRGC commander had described the strait as “the economic lifeline” of the West, saying it could be used to put pressure on Iran’s “enemies”.

The IRGC held a series of war-games in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman earlier this month.


Comment: More lip service to insanity....at the Iranian people's expense.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


The whole concept of statements that IRI has a choice to make whether to be a constructive influence or remain as a instigator of destabilization is this:

It is not a statement of appeasement, nor do I believe anyone making such statement (Tony Blair, GW Bush, and others) anticipates the IRI will change its behavior, but rather the point made by voicing the choice they have publicly as well as privately is that it puts the ball publicly in the IRI's court as to who becomes responsible for the peace of the region, or lack of....

It simply and correctly addresses the facts....the regime does have the opportunity (and probably for not much longer) to choose existance, or non existance should they continue stumbling down the path over oblivion's cliff.

Why are they being urged to make the correct choice? Because it will bring about regime change without a shot being fired if the correct path is chosen.

Think for a minute....Would it not be "political suicide" for the IRI to do an about face , desist from its terrorist activities, work as a partner in peace with the West, help stabilize democracies on its borders that directly cause it's own malevolent treatment of its citizens to become publicly more an issue?

No, they are stuck in a corner, painted themselves into it, and trying to play tough to try and paint an exit in the wall they are backed up against.

They would, as a government structure, never survive making the correct choice and walking the path of peace....loosing their political power base in the process....it is one thing to cave under to the will of the international community, but altogether another animal to renounce jihad, apear weak, and suffer the backlash from those who would consider it to be stabbing their twisted version of Islam in the back.

Depending on the choice made, the response the regime gets will come as a matter of "responsibility to protect" as outlined and agreed upon at the 2005 UN summit.

The question is not so much how to avert hostilities from happening, because the regime obviously has a say in the matter, but rather, if and when open war comes, how to make it the shortest war in history, and prevent massive loss of life in the region at the same time.

No one in his right mind could say that the choice should not be put in the regime's lap, publicly, for it correctly and ethicly addresses the regime's false and hypocritical charge that America is the primary instigator of instability in the region.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whether we like it or not, Detente With Islamic Fascists Terror Masters is unwritten G8 policy today and for past 28 years. So far we have not seen any clear actions for regime change …..


"....for the times, they are a changin...."
-Bob Dylan

Don't look now Cyrus, but I think neo-colonialism is history......nor is it easy to spot termites eating the house from the inside out....but it is patheticly obvious that the IRI cannot survive economicly without outside investment, and saying in effect.." Let them eat yellowcake.".. to those that haven't been paid in months....well, we all know what happened to Marie Antionette....


Japan freezes $10 billion Iran loans on nuclear row
Wed. 22 Nov 2006
By Andy Critchlow and Will McSheehy

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Japan, the world's second-largest oil importer after the U.S., halted its $10 billion financing of projects in Iran until the country complies with demands to halt its nuclear program, an official said.

"New projects, no thanks," Fumio Hoshi, senior executive director of state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation, told reporters today. Lending will cease until "we have a good outcome from the negotiations between Iran, the Europeans and the U.S."

Inpex Holding Inc. Japan's biggest oil explorer, on Oct. 6 said it relinquished control of Iran's Azagedan oilfield project after a dispute with the country's oil ministry. Iran may give China and Russia access to the Azadegan field in return for support at the United Nations, which is consider sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

The Islamic Republic, which holds the world's second- largest oil stocks after Saudi Arabia, has refused to end its uranium enrichment program, prompting the U.S. and some European nations to seek the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.

The U.S. suspects the Iranian drive to produce enriched uranium is a precursor to building a nuclear bomb, in contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory.

Iran Needs Yen

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government needs Japanese investment to help it boost oil output to 4.6 million barrels a day by 2010.

"If the Japanese funding stops, I think the Iranians will have to prioritize their projects by completing those say 80 percent through and delaying those at an early stage," Manouchehr Takin, senior analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies, said in a phone interview from London today.

An official at Iran's Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, declined to comment or be named when called today in Tehran. Noboru Tezuka, Inpex's managing director for Iran, declined to be interviewed today in Dubai.

Japan needs the $2.5 billion Azadegan project to help meet a goal of getting 40 percent of oil imports from assets it controls. Asia's biggest oil importer got 13.8 percent of its crude from Iran in 2005, making the Middle East nation Japan's third-biggest source of crude.

Japan Bank, the overseas lender for the Japanese government, has currently more than $10 billion committed to nine projects in Iran, mainly in the petrochemicals and gas industries, he said. Japan Bank for International Cooperation has about $18 billion of bonds outstanding.

Swiss Banks Say No More

The U.S., which already imposes sanctions on Tehran, wants the UN Security Council to punish Iran for refusing to abide by an Aug. 31 deadline to suspend uranium enrichment by imposing an economic embargo.

Credit Suisse Group and UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest banks, said in January they wouldn't seek new business in Iran after reviewing the country's risk situation.

UBS went further than Credit Suisse, saying it would close all its accounts held by individuals and companies resident in Iran, and shut down its trade-financing business in the country.

Total SA, ENI SpA and Statoil ASA are among international oil companies to have completed projects in Iran even though their U.S. competitors are prohibited from working there.

BP Plc is avoiding doing business in the Islamic Republic for fear of retribution from the U.S. which forbids oil companies from investing directly in Iran. BP's Chief Executive Lord Browne last year described doing business in Iran as "offensive."
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

President Bush Discusses NATO Alliance During Visit to Latvia
Grand Hall
Latvia University
Riga, Latvia


4:30 P.M. (Local)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Labdien! (Applause.) Madam President, thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your leadership, and thank you for your friendship. Mr. Speaker; Mr. Prime Minister; Senator Sessions from the great state of Alabama, who is with us; Mark Leland, my friend from a long period of time. I want to thank the Rector of this important university. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your warm welcome. I'm delighted to be back in Riga.

I appreciate the Latvian Transatlantic Organization, the Commission of Strategic Analysis, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States for organizing this important conference. This is my third visit to the Baltics as the President of the United States, and it's my second visit to this beautiful city. I just can't stay away. I'm thrilled and honored to be back here, and I bring the greetings and good wishes of the American people.

Not far from where we meet today stands Riga's Freedom Monument. It was erected in 1935, during this country's brief period of independence between the two world wars. During the dark years of Soviet occupation, the simple act of laying flowers at the foot of this monument was considered a crime by Communist authorities. In 1989, the monument was the scene of one of the most remarkable protests in the history of freedom. Hundreds of thousands of people stood together and formed a human chain that stretched nearly 400 miles across the Baltics -- from Tallinn in the north, through downtown Riga, and into the heart of Vilnius. By joining hands, the people of this region showed their unity and their determination to live in freedom -- and it made clear to the Soviet authorities that the Baltic peoples would accept nothing less than complete independence.

It took more years of struggle, but today the Baltic nations have taken their rightful place in the community of free nations, and Latvia is a host for an important NATO Summit -- the first time our Alliance has met in one of the "captive nations" annexed by the Soviet Union. This is a proud day for the people of Latvia, and all the Baltic states -- and on behalf of the American people, I thank you for your hospitality, your friendship, and the courage you are showing in the NATO Alliance.

As members of NATO, you are a vital part of the most effective multilateral organization in the world, and the most important military alliance in history. As NATO allies, you will never again stand alone in defense of your freedom and you'll never be occupied by a foreign power.

Each of the Baltic countries is meeting its obligations to strengthen NATO by bringing new energy and vitality and clarity of purpose to the Alliance. Your love of liberty has made NATO stronger -- and with your help, our Alliance is rising to meet the great challenges and responsibilities of this young century, by making NATO the world's most effective united force for freedom.

One of the great responsibilities of this Alliance is to strengthen and expand the circle of freedom here in Europe. In the nearly six decades since NATO's founding, Europe has experienced an unprecedented expansion of liberty. A continent that was once divided by an ugly wall is now united in freedom. Yet the work of uniting Europe is not fully complete. Many nations that threw off the shackles of tyranny are still working to build the free institutions that are the foundation of successful democracies. NATO is encouraging these nations on the path to reform -- and as governments make hard decisions for their people, they will be welcomed into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic community.

After I took office in 2001, I declared that the United States believes in NATO membership for all of Europe's democracies that seek it -- and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings. The following year in Prague, we invited seven nations to join our Alliance -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Here in Riga, allies will make clear that the door to NATO membership remains open, and at our next summit in 2008, we hope to issue additional invitations to nations that are ready for membership.

Today, Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania are all participating in NATO's Membership Action Plan, and the United States supports their aspirations to join the Atlantic Alliance. Georgia is seeking NATO membership, as well, and as it continues on the path of reform, we will continue to support Georgia's desire to become a NATO ally. We are also supporting the leaders of Ukraine, as they work to curb corruption, promote the rule of law, and serve the cause of peace. Our position is clear: As democracy takes hold in Ukraine and its leaders pursue vital reforms, NATO membership will be open to the Ukrainian people if they choose it.

We're also working with Russia through the NATO-Russia Council. We recognize that Russia is a vital and important country, and that it's in our interests to increase our cooperation with Russia in areas such as countering terrorism, and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. By building ties between Russia and this Alliance, we will strengthen our common security and we will advance the cause of peace.

As we help the new democracies of Europe join the institutions of Europe, we must not forget those who still languish in tyranny. Just across the border from here lies the nation of Belarus -- a place where peaceful protesters are beaten and opposition leaders are "disappeared" by the agents of a cruel regime. The existence of such oppression in our midst offends the conscience of Europe, and it offends the conscience of America. We have a message for the people of Belarus: The vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace includes you -- and we stand with you in your struggle for freedom.

Another great responsibility of this Alliance is to transform for new challenges. When NATO was formed in 1949, its principal mission was to protect Europe from a Soviet tank invasion. Today, the Soviet threat is gone. And under the able leadership of the Secretary General, NATO is transforming from a static alliance focused on the defense of Europe, into an expedentiary* [sic] alliance ready to deploy outside of Europe in the defense of freedom. This is a vital mission.

Over the past six years, we've taken decisive action to transform our capabilities in the Alliance. We created a new NATO transformation command, to ensure that our Alliance is always preparing for the threats of the future. We created a new NATO battalion to counter the threats of enemies armed with weapons of mass destruction. We created a new NATO Response Force, to ensure that our Alliance can deploy rapidly and effectively.

Here in Riga, we're taking new steps to build on this progress. At this summit, we will launch a NATO Special Operations Forces Initiative that will strengthen the ability of special operations personnel from NATO nations to work together on the battlefield. We will announce a new Strategic Airlift Initiative that will ensure that participating NATO members have a dedicated fleet of C-17 aircraft at their disposal. We will launch the Riga Global Partnership Initiative that will allow NATO to conduct joint training and joint exercises and common defense planning with nations like Japan and Australia -- countries that share NATO's values and want to work with our Alliance in the cause of peace. We will launch a new NATO Training Cooperation Initiative that will allow military forces in the Middle East to receive NATO training in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation and peace support operations. And as we take these steps, every NATO nation must take the defensive -- must make the defensive investments necessary to give NATO the capabilities it needs, so that our Alliance is ready for any challenge that may emerge in the decades to come.

The most basic responsibility of this Alliance is to defend our people against the threats of a new century. We're in a long struggle against terrorists and extremists who follow a hateful ideology and seek to establish a totalitarian empire from Spain to Indonesia. We fight against the extremists who desire safe havens and are willing to kill innocents anywhere to achieve their objectives.

NATO has recognized this threat. And three years ago, NATO took an unprecedented step when it sent allied forces to defend a young democracy more than 3,000 miles from Europe. Since taking command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO has expanded it from a small force that was operating only in Kabul into a robust force that conducts security operations in all of Afghanistan. NATO is helping to train the Afghan National Army. The Alliance is operating 25 Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are helping the central government extend its reach into distant regions of that country. At this moment, all 26 NATO allies, and 11 partner nations are contributing forces to NATO's mission in Afghanistan. They're serving with courage and they are doing the vital work necessary to help this young democracy secure the peace.

We saw the effectiveness of NATO forces this summer, when NATO took charge of security operations in Southern Afghanistan from the United States. The Taliban radicals who are trying to pull down Afghanistan's democracy and regain power saw the transfer from American to NATO control as a window of opportunity to test the will of the Alliance. So the Taliban massed a large fighting force near Kandahar to face the NATO troops head on. It was a mistake. Together with the Afghan National Army, NATO forces from Canada and Denmark and the Netherlands and Britain and Australia and the United States engaged the enemy -- with operational support from Romanian, Portuguese, and Estonian forces. According to NATO commanders, allied forces fought bravely and inflicted great damage on the Taliban.

General David Richards, the British commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, puts it this way: "There were doubts about NATO and our ability to conduct demanding security operations. There are no questions about our ability now. We've killed many hundreds of Taliban, and it has removed any doubt in anybody's mind that NATO can do what we were sent here to do."

Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, and drug traffickers and criminal elements and local warlords remain active and committed to destroying democracy in Afghanistan. Defeating them will require the full commitment of our Alliance. For NATO to succeed, its commanders on the ground must have the resources and flexibility they need to do their jobs. The Alliance was founded on a clear principle: an attack on one is an attack on all. That principle holds true whether the attack is on our home soil, or on our forces deployed on a NATO mission abroad. Today Afghanistan is NATO's most important military operation, and by standing together in Afghanistan, we'll protect our people, defend our freedom, and send a clear message to the extremists the forces of freedom and decency will prevail.

Every ally can take pride in the transformation that NATO is making possible for the people of Afghanistan. Because of our efforts, Afghanistan has gone from a totalitarian nightmare to a free nation, with an elected president, a democratic constitution, and brave soldiers and police fighting for their country.

Over 4.6 million Afghan refugees have come home. It's one of the largest return movements in history. The Afghan economy has tripled in size over the past five years. About two million girls are now in school, compared to zero under the Taliban -- and 85 women were elected or appointed to the Afghan National Assembly. A nation that was once a terrorist sanctuary has been transformed into an ally in the war on terror, led by a brave President, Hamid Karzai. Our work in Afghanistan is bringing freedom to the Afghan people, it is bringing security to the Euro-Atlantic community, and it's bringing pride to the NATO Alliance.

NATO allies are also making vital contributions to the struggle for freedom in Iraq. At this moment, a dozen NATO allies, including every one of the Baltic nations, are contributing forces to the coalition in Iraq. And 18 NATO countries plus Ukraine are contributing forces to the NATO Training Mission that is helping develop the next generation of leaders for the Iraqi Security Forces. To date, NATO has trained nearly 3,000 Iraqi personnel, including nearly 2,000 officers and civilian defense officials trained inside Iraq, plus an additional 800 Iraqis trained outside the country. NATO has also helped Iraqis stand up a new military academy near Baghdad, so Iraqis can develop their own military leaders in the years to come. And NATO has contributed $128 million in military equipment to the Iraqi military, including 77 Hungarian T-72 battle tanks. By helping to equip the Iraqi Security Forces and train the next group of Iraqi military leaders, NATO is helping the Iraqi people in the difficult work of securing their country and their freedom.

Tomorrow, I'm going to travel to Jordan where I will meet with the Prime Minister of Iraq. We will discuss the situation on the ground in his country, our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi Security Forces, and the responsibility of other nations in the region to support the security and stability of Iraq. We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.

The battles in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a struggle between moderation and extremism that is unfolding across the broader Middle East. Our enemy follows a hateful ideology that rejects fundamental freedoms like the freedom to speak, to assemble, or to worship God in the way you see fit. It opposes the rights for women. Their goal is to overthrow governments and to impose their totalitarian rule on millions. They have a strategy to achieve these aims. They seek to convince America and our allies that we cannot defeat them, and that our only hope is to withdraw and abandon an entire region to their domination. The war on terror we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. And in this struggle, we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.

We see this struggle in Lebanon, where last week gunmen assassinated that country's Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel, a prominent leader of the movement that secured Lebanon's independence last year. His murder showed once again the viciousness of those who are trying to destabilize Lebanon's young democracy. We see this struggle in Syria, where the regime allows Iranian weapons to pass through its territory into Lebanon, and provides weapons and political support to Hezbollah. We see this struggle in Iran, where a reactionary regime subjugates its proud people, arrests free trade union leaders, and uses Iran's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue nuclear weapons. We see this struggle in the Palestinian Territories, where extremists are working to stop moderate leaders from making progress toward the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

In each of these places, extremists are using terror to stop the spread of freedom. Some are Shia extremists, others are Sunni extremists -- but they represent different faces of the same threat. And if they succeed in undermining fragile democracies, and drive the forces of freedom out of the region, they will have an open field to pursue their goals. Each strain of violent Islamic radicalism would be emboldened in its efforts to gain control of states and establish new safe havens. The extremists would use oil resources to fuel their radical agenda, and to punish industrialized nations, and pursue weapons of mass destruction. Armed with nuclear weapons, they could blackmail the free world, spread their ideologies of hate, and raise a mortal threat to Europe, America, and the entire civilized world.

If we allow the extremists to do this, then 50 years from now history will look back on our time with unforgiving clarity, and demand to know why we did not act. Our Alliance has a responsibility to act. We must lift up and support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the broader Middle East. We must bring hope to millions by strengthening young democracies from Kabul to Baghdad, to Beirut. And we must advance freedom as the great alternative to tyranny and terror.

I know some in my country, and some here in Europe, are pessimistic about the prospects of democracy and peace in the Middle East. Some doubt whether the people of that region are ready for freedom, or want it badly enough, or have the courage to overcome the forces of totalitarian extremism. I understand these doubts, but I do not share them. I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe that the people of the Middle East want their liberty. I'm impressed by the courage I see in the people across the region who are fighting for their liberty.

We see this courage in the eight million Afghans who defied terrorist threats and went to the polls to choose their leaders. We see this courage in the nearly 12 million Iraqis who refused to let the car bombers and assassins stop them from voting for the free future of their country. We see this courage in the more than one million Lebanese who voted for a free and sovereign government to rule their land. And we see this courage in citizens from Damascus to Tehran, who, like the citizens of Riga before them, keep the flame of liberty burning deep within their hearts, knowing that one day its light will shine throughout their nations.

There was a time, not so long ago, when many doubted that liberty could succeed in Europe. Here in the Baltics, many can still recall the early years of the Cold War, when freedom's victory was not so obvious or assured. In 1944, the Soviet Red Army reoccupied Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, plunging this region into nearly five decades of communist rule. In 1947, communist forces were threatening Greece and Turkey, the reconstruction of Germany was faltering, and mass starvation was setting in across Europe. In 1948, Czechoslovakia fell to communism, France and Italy were threatened by the same fate, and Berlin was blockaded on the orders of Josef Stalin. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon -- and weeks later, communist forces took control in China. And in the summer of 1950, seven North Korean divisions poured across the border into South Korea, marking the start of the first direct military clash of the Cold War. All of this took place in the six years following World War II.

Yet today, six decades later, the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is no more, and the NATO Alliance is meeting in the capital of a free Latvia. Europe no longer produces armed ideologies that threaten other nations with aggression and conquest and occupation. And a continent that was for generations a source of instability and global war has become a source of stability and peace. Freedom in Europe has brought peace to Europe, and freedom has brought the power to bring peace to the broader Middle East.

Soon after I took office, I spoke to students at Warsaw University. I told them America had learned the lessons of history. I said, "No more Munichs, and no more Yaltas." I was speaking at the time about Europe, but the lessons of Yalta apply equally across the world. The question facing our nations today is this: Will we turn the fate of millions over to totalitarian extremists, and allow the enemy to impose their hateful ideology across the Middle East? Or will we stand with the forces of freedom in that part of the world, and defend the moderate majority who want a future of peace?

My country has made its choice, and so has the NATO Alliance. We refuse to give in to a pessimism that consigns millions across the Middle East to endless oppression. We understand that, ultimately, the only path to lasting peace is through the rise of lasting free societies.

Here in the Baltic region, many understand that freedom is universal and worth the struggle. During the second world war, a young girl here in Riga escaped with her family from the advancing Red Army. She fled westward, moving first to a refugee camp in Germany, and then later to Morocco, where she and her family settled for five-and-a-half years. Spending her teenage years in a Muslim nation, this Latvian girl came to understand a fundamental truth about humanity: Moms and dads in the Muslim world want the same things for their children as moms and dads here in Riga -- a future of peace, a chance to live in freedom, and the opportunity to build a better life.

Today, that Latvian girl is the leader of a free country -- the Iron Lady of the Baltics, the President of Latvia. (Applause.) And the lessons she learned growing up in Casablanca guide her as she leads her nation in this world. Here is how she put it earlier this year, in an address to a joint meeting of the United States Congress: "We know the value of freedom and feel compassion for those who are still deprived of it. Every nation on Earth is entitled to freedom," your President said. She said, "We must share the dream that some day there won't be a tyranny left anywhere in the world. We must work for this future, all of us, large and small, together."

Like your President, I believe this dream is within reach, and through the NATO Alliance, nations large and small are working together to achieve it.

We thank the people of Latvia for your contributions to NATO, and for the powerful example you set for liberty. I appreciate your hospitality at this summit. America is proud to call you friends and allies in the cause of peace and freedom. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 4:57 P.M. (Local)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bolton: Future of Mideast 'may well be decided' in days


The World Tribune reported that the Bush administration is facing a foreign policy crisis in Lebanon where the Iran-backed Hizbullah and Syria threaten to topple the weakened democratic government in Beirut. An excerpt:

"The future of the Middle East, certainly the future of Lebanon may well be decided in the next several days," U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton ...
The full text:
The Bush administration is facing a foreign policy crisis in Lebanon where the Iran-backed Hizbullah and Syria threaten to topple the weakened democratic government in Beirut.
"The future of the Middle East, certainly the future of Lebanon may well be decided in the next several days," U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton told BBC radio. "A successful re-emergence of democracy there is being directly challenged by the terrorist Hizbullah and those who support them, Syria, Iran and others."

The U.S. dilemma is whether or not to provide up to $200 million in military aid to Lebanon over the next year.

Officials said the State Department intends to determine the stability of the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora before the aid is sent to Beirut, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the assassination of Trade Minister Pierre Gemayel and the resulting unrest could lead to a delay in U.S. weapons to Lebanon.

"The nightmare is that we help build a military that is taken over by Hizbullah or Syria," an official said.

On Saturday, the Siniora government approved a proposed international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. The decision came amid warnings by Hizbullah of massive protests.

Under the administration plan, the United States would provide at least 300 Humvee combat vehicles to the Lebanese Army over the next few months. Officials said this could be followed by additional U.S. military surplus to Lebanon, including air defense systems and air platforms.

So far, the administration has focused on training Lebanese military officers and demining southern Lebanon in the wake of the Israel-Hizbullah war. Officials said Washington has helped remove about 50,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance in Lebanon, or about half of the estimated total.

"There's a major problem with unexploded ordnance on the ground and our efforts to help remove that are also proceeding very rapidly," U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Randall Tobias said on Nov. 15. "At the time I was there, the estimate was that we had removed or assisted in the removal of about 50,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance."

Officials said the administration has allocated $250 million for humanitarian and reconstruction in wake of the war, which ended on Aug. 14. They said about $100 million has been sent to Lebanon as a first step until a donor conference in Paris in January 2007.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:44 am    Post subject: Compulsive Appeasement Reply with quote

sosiran97 wrote:

Compulsive Appeasement

Ms. Sepahpour-Ulrich is so eager to appease the clerical regime of Iran that

she puts innocent Iranian people in danger of more pain and suffering

Ms. Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich:

In response to your Blind ambition published on www.iranian.com and your baseless accusation against Mr. Pahlavi for pleading with warmongers, I must say that I admire you for having found yourself a better writer. However, it appears that you lack a fair and sound judgment perhaps needing an assistance to help you read Mr. Pahlavi’s writing once more and to understand it more clearly.

When Mr. Pahlavi stated:

“[T]errorism is like an octopus whose weakness is the eyes –in Tehran . [I]f the U.S. wants to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran.”

He is correct that the eye of the terrorism (the regime of Iran ) resides in Tehran and to kill such octopus is through its eyes. However, to suggest that by this statement he meant for Iran to be bombed or attacked, is another clever type of disinformation that you and your colleagues at CASMII like to spread against opposition groups.

Millions of Iranians know that Mr. Pahlavi and all true opposition members are against military intervention and against bombing of Iran as we advocate Iran ’s integrity but fight the Iranian regime. However, there are several ways to kill the octopus, of which one is for Iranians to unite and with the moral support of world community to eradicate the beast from Iran .

For the majority of the readers, it is no longer a secret that you and your colleagues at CASMII are very much against opposition groups to unite as we know pro-Mullah lobbyists entities like NIAC and AIC are also against the opposition groups to receive any moral or financial support from the world community while AIC is hypocritically receiving financial support from foreign companies. Did you say “Ambition and Betrayal”?!

In addition to the above, it is also a public knowledge that NIAC and CASMII enjoy the same Treasurer, namely Mr. Alex Patico. We are also not that ignorant that the founder of CASMII is Mr. Abbas Edalat who is the so-called professor at Sharif University in Tehran at the same University that Abbas Maleki is attending. Abbas Maleki was also the Deputy Minister of Rafsanjani for his entire 8-year term. There was also news that President of U.S. Branch of CASMII, Rostam Pourzal, attended a Forum in Portland Oregon in which Abbas Maleki was also scheduled to attend but at the last moment changed his plan (possibly due to Iranians protesting against his visit). Would you say all this networking and connections are not by design and Abbas Edalat of CASMII and Abbas Maleki were not in touch to plan this trip or was simply another accident?!

It is not a secret either how individuals like you oppose the two major rivals of the Iranian regime, namely the MEK and Monarchists. In fact if Iran, god forbid, is ever attacked, it is solely due to the supporters of the Mullah regime who have tirelessly worked outside and inside Iran not to allow Iranian opposition groups to unite. If Iran is ever attacked, I will hold responsible all the pro-mullah entities and individuals for such dire tragedy.

You said it all when you stated:

“All the Iranians in exile and indeed those within her boarders who fight for Iran ’s integrity, do so not because their ideology is compatible with the regime’s (although indeed some may be), but because they are patriots.”

Did you say patriots? Ms. Sepahpour-Ulrich, unlike you, not only all patriotic Iranians proudly wave the ancient "Lion & Sun" flag of Iran, they will not pause for a moment in their quest for toppling the regime whose leaders are wrapping Palestinian rags around their neck. You see, you cleverly avoided admitting that countless exiles are fighting the Iranian regime and instead used the phrase “fight for Iran ’s integrity”. Would I be correct that you are one of those exiles outside Iran whose ideology is compatible with the Mullah regime? Frankly, it is not that peculiar to come to this conclusion when one reads the last paragraph of your past article stating:

“However, in its 25 years of inception, the Islamic Republic has not betrayed Iran”

Islamic Republic never betrayed Iran?! Were you missing a competent writer when you wrote that article, was it simply a bad advisor or was an order from the above? In the first paragraph of the same article you wrote:

“...better a monkey than the Shah’ or as they literally said: “a dog would be better than the Shah.”. The 1979 revolution saw their wish fulfilled as it chased many Iranians into exile along with the Shah”

I agree that in 1979 dogs and monkeys replaced the Shah but I'm baffled how, as an exiled, you could still support the same dogs and monkeys! If you called those who supported the shah as “his cronies” can we also call you a crony of the Terrorist regime of Iran and if Shah had torture Iranians by SAVAK isn't the Dog and Monkey regime of Mullahs torturing Iranians by VEVAK in factor of thousand ?

Although I’m neither a Monarchist nor an advocate of MEK, it was indeed very educational but not surprising to see your name next to other mullah appeasers in an article called: Iran's Foreign Agents of Disinformation: More About VEVAK.

Let’s hope Iranian.com is unbiased and democratic enough by valuing the right of pen equally and to allow this response to also be published.


A Human Rights Activist, a member of SOSIRAN and an advocate for a secular system of government for Iran similar to America

P.S. This is being copied to many friends throughout America , Europe and Iran
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oppie's method of "Engagement" :

You'll find my reply to Mullah's men there....
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:37 pm    Post subject: The Man Who'll Lead the Surge Reply with quote

The Man Who'll Lead the Surge

Tuesday, Jan. 09, 2007 By SALLY B. DONNELLY AND DOUGLAS


WALLER/WASHINGTON Admiral William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh in July, 2006.
Tang Chhin Sothy /AFP / GettyArticle ToolsPrintEmail It was early May 2005, and alarm bells in Washington's media echo chamber were ringing. A leaked Pentagon report had warned that the strain of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could crimp the Defense Department's ability to respond quickly to other conflicts, and pundits were fretting that China and North Korea could exploit the vulnerability. But flying through Asia in his Air Force Boeing 737, Admiral William Fallon, the man who had taken over the U.S. Pacific Command just two months earlier, wasn't ruffled. His command — with 300,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — still outclassed the force Beijing was building up, he insisted. And together with a growing South Korean army, it could quickly overpower any kind of attack by Pyongyang's army. "I'm not losing too much sleep right now," the admiral told TIME, which accompanied him on the trip.

That kind of calm confidence, seasoned by nearly 40 years in the Navy, has made quite an impression on Fallon's bosses — particularly President George W. Bush, who's looking for a steady military hand to help him turn around the mess in Iraq. This week Bush will announce he wants "Fox" Fallon ("Fox" comes from his call sign as a Naval aviator) to replace Gen. John Abizaid as head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Iraq war and the entire volatile Middle East.

Fallon may be widely respected, but within military circles, his selection is controversial. The top Central Command job has always gone to an Army or Marine general for the simple reason that their ground forces would typically bear the brunt of any war in the theater. A bombadier-navigator in Vietnam, Fallon, 62, has no operational experience commanding ground troops or battling the kind of insurgency that grips Iraq or is growing in Afghanistan. "To put in a naval aviator without any command combat experience is like putting a baseball coach in to run the offense in the Super Bowl," grumbles a retired Marine general.

Why did Bush reach over several layers of experienced veterans to pick Fallon? Some critics think he was looking for a senior statesman in uniform, and Fallon certainly fits the bill, both abroad and at home. In Washington, he has developed good contacts with lawmakers from both parties, which may prove critical, as congressional Democrats are now vowing to fight any Administration plan to send more U.S. forces into Iraq as part of a so-called surge. He's "one of America's best strategists," enthuses Ike Skelton, the new Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. But one Marine general who knows the region says it actually makes some sense to put a naval officer in charge. If the U.S. begins redeploying forces outside of Iraq as a part of a drawdown it will increasingly have to use naval vessels, not large land bases, for stationing them.

More importantly, Fallon has gained the President's trust. Fallon hosted a small dinner at his Hawaii headquarters for Bush, who was on his way back from Vietnam last month, and the two men spoke about a range of issues in the Pacific theater. In particular, Pentagon sources say, they agreed that engaging with China was crucial to U.S. interests —a view that Fallon often found being challenged by his former boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

If Fallon was a surprise, few were taken aback by the news that Army Lieut. General David Petraeus will take over Gen. George Casey's job as the on-scene commander in Iraq. Petraeus served in Iraq twice, has a Ph.D in international relations, and comes loaded with the optimism the job requires, not to mention support for the surge option Bush favors. Some Marine officers were pulling for one of their own: Lt. Gen. James Mattis, one of the military's most seasoned combat veterans (he led the complex but successful invasion into Afghanistan and then took the 1st Marine Division on the march to Baghdad). The Marines have not held a senior position in CENTCOM or Iraq since before the start of the war and many of them privately blame poor Army leadership for the war's failures.

Petraeus — whom critics call "King David" for his often sophisticated self-promotion skills — will be in charge of day-to-day fighting in Iraq, while Fallon will oversee the entire Middle East and Southwest Asia, which are under CENTCOM's purview. The admiral will also be tasked with trying to convince Middle Eastern countries to lend the U.S. a hand in redeveloping Iraq's flagging economy.

The Pentagon's four-stars who serve as overseas combatant commanders are as much diplomats as warriors, and Fallon has proven to be a particularly deft one. After a Navy submarine struck the Japanese fishing boat Ehime Maru in 2001, killing nine aboard the vessel, Bush dispatched the admiral to Tokyo to deliver the U.S. apology to the government and an angry Japanese public. As Vice Chief of Naval Operations in 2002-2003 he impressed Rumsfeld, who was notorious for bullying his flag officers. When Fallon had to fill in for his boss at service chiefs meetings with Rumsfeld, he took advantage of the fact that he was the junior officer in the group and thus the last called on to speak. It gave him the chance to see how Rummy grilled the other chiefs so he could quickly rearrange his presentation to please the defense secretary. "What Fallon really brings that matters is the proven capability to operate at the regional strategic level and to work and foster relationships," says retired Adm. Stephen Pietropaoili, who's now executive director of the Navy League, an advocacy group for the sea service.

From his headquarters on Oahu, Fallon hasn't been shy about flexing U.S. diplomacy the past two years. Despite wariness of Pentagon hawks, he has pressed to improve relations with Beijing, for example, organizing a joint naval exercise last fall with the Chinese navy. Fallon believes diplomacy is as important a weapon as all the ships, planes and soldiers he commands. Some of that broader view "comes with old age," Fallon told TIME in 2005. Bush now hopes that kind of thinking from the admiral in Asia can help rescue a troubled war in a very different part of the world.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eyeing Iran

January 06, 2007
The New York Post
Ralph Peters


Word that Adm. William Fallon will move laterally from our Pacific Command to take charge of Central Command - responsible for the Middle East - while two ground wars rage in the region baffled the media.

Why put a swabbie in charge of grunt operations?

There's a one-word answer: Iran .

Assigning a Navy aviator and combat veteran to oversee our military operations in the Persian Gulf makes perfect sense when seen as a preparatory step for striking Iran 's nuclear-weapons facilities - if that becomes necessary.

While the Air Force would deliver the heaviest tonnage of ordnance in a campaign to frustrate Tehran 's quest for nukes, the toughest strategic missions would fall to our Navy. Iran would seek to retaliate asymmetrically by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz - and trying to hit oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.

Only the U.S. Navy - hopefully, with Royal Navy and Aussie vessels underway beside us - could keep the oil flowing to a thirsty world.

In short, the toughest side of an offensive operation against Iran would be the defensive aspects - requiring virtually every air and sea capability we could muster. (Incidentally, an additional U.S. carrier battle group is now headed for the Gulf; Britain and Australia are also strengthening their naval forces in the region.)

Not only did Adm. Fallon command a carrier air wing during Operation Desert Storm, he also did shore duty at a joint headquarters in Saudi Arabia . He knows the complexity and treacherousness of the Middle East first-hand.

Strengthening his qualifications, numerous blue-water assignments and his duties at PACOM schooled him on the intricacies of the greater Indian Ocean - the key strategic region for the 21st-century and the one that would be affected immediately by a U.S. conflict with Iran .
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:04 am    Post subject: On Course for Iran Reply with quote

On Course for Iran

January 16, 2007
Council on Foreign Relations
Michael Moran


Nearly a week since President Bush’s vow to “surge” U.S. forces into Baghdad, a surge of a different kind got underway in the direction of Iran. The carrier Stennis (NYT) and its battle group will join the USS Eisenhower and its escorts in the Arabian Sea by early February. Britain, too, has added naval forces (The Australian).

Bush’s otherwise Iraq-centric speech included explicit threats directed at Iran and Syria, accusing them of “allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory” and vowing to “destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” Asked for clarifications, administration officials say nothing is imminent, but nothing is ruled out, either. Is the administration planning to, as one op-ed writer put it, “exit Iraq through Iran?” (BosGlobe) Last week’s detention by U.S. forces of six alleged Iranian gunrunners (AP) at Tehran’s consulate in Irbil angered not only Tehran but the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which appears eager to cultivate good relations with Iran (LAT).

Still, ambiguity remains the byword. All Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would really tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week on the topic is that nothing is off the table. Her appearance included a telling exchange with Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), the panel’s chairman, in which Biden asserted the 2002 congressional authorization for war with Iraq would not cover (Haaretz) expanding the war to Iran. “I just want to set that marker,” Biden added. Not surprisingly, Rice declined to commit to that analysis.

More recently, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who counseled in favor of a more open diplomatic approach to Iran before joining the administration, told reporters during a visit to Brussels Monday he now views Iran’s recent behavior “in a very negative way” (WashTimes). Another official previously skeptical of Iran’s alleged support for violence in Iraq, CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden, recently told Congress intelligence he has seen changed his mind, giving him “the zeal of a convert” (NYT) on the issue.

At the very least, the latest policy shift in Washington forecloses on independent recommendations that Iran and Syria be engaged diplomatically. That idea, promoted most recently by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, rests on the hope that talks and incentives could play on mutual interests in stabilizing Iraq. Gates agreed with that premise in 2004 when he cochaired a CFR Independent Task Force on Iran. CFR President Richard N. Haass reiterated it this summer in a CFR.org interview.

Despite some UN Security Council action, efforts to curb Iran and Syria through multilateral pressure have been limited, with Tehran defying demands that it desist from enriching uranium, and Syria continuing to stymie (Daily Star) the investigation into its role in the death of former Lebanese President Rafik Hariri. A more unilateral approach now looms. Earlier this week, Washington imposed sanctions (FT) on an Iranian bank.

A wide range of experts at a day-long symposium on Iran last spring agreed with the assertions of CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon, a terrorism expert and former senior director for transnational threats at the National Security Council: “The moment the first U.S. warheads detonate over an Iranian nuclear installation, the United States will be at war (WashPost) with the Islamic Republic."

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:58 pm    Post subject: Gates: Iranians `overplaying their hand' Reply with quote

Gates: Iranians `overplaying their hand'

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer


The Iranians are "overplaying their hand" on the world stage in a belief that setbacks in Iraq have weakened the United States, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Gates said he had told the leaders of U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar that the Iranians "believe they have the United States at some disadvantage because of the situation in Iraq."

However, the Iranians are going too far, he said he told the allies, and "one of the consequences of that is that they have raised real concerns on the part of a number of countries in the region and beyond about their intentions."

Many of the Gulf nations are worried about a rising Iranian influence — a concern made more acute by the prospect for a further slide toward civil war in Iraq and its uncertain consequences for the United States.

With regard to U.S. failure thus far to achieve stability in Iraq, Gates said, "I think that our difficulties have given them (the Iranians) a tactical opportunity in the short term, but the United States is a very powerful country."

On his second overseas trip since replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld as Pentagon chief, Gates visited the headquarters of Central Command's naval staff, which is located here with the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Then he flew to Qatar for a meeting with that tiny Gulf state's top leader, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Afterward, he visited an air base from which Central Command's air staff plans, runs and monitors air operations throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Under ground rules imposed by U.S. officials, reporters traveling with Gates were prohibited from identifying the base or the country in which it is located.

Gates also met with Gen. John Abizaid, the head of Central Command, whose forward headquarters is in Qatar. Abizaid is due to retire in March; Adm. William Fallon has been nominated to replace him.

Together, Gates' visits to the naval and air components of Central Command provided an overview of how those elements of U.S. warfighting are conducted in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. He was taken inside a high-tech air operations center at the base where officers watching large screens can track U.S. aircraft in the region in real time and monitor live video feeds from U.S. surveillance aircraft.

Asked about the prospects for military conflict with Iran, whose nuclear program is seen by the Bush administration as a growing threat to U.S. interests, Gates said, "There are many courses of action available that do not involve an open conflict with Iran — there's no need for that."

Gates said that although he had publicly advocated negotiating with Iran as recently as 2004, he now advises against that.

"Right at this moment, there's really nothing the Iranians want from us," he said. "And so, in any negotiation right now we would be the supplicant," asking Iran to stop doing such things as enriching uranium for its nuclear program.

"We need some leverage, it seems to me, before we engage with the Iranians," Gates added. "And I think at some point engagement probably makes sense."

Until the Iranians are persuaded that, despite being bogged down in Iraq, "the United States is in fact a formidable adversary, there's not much advantage for us in engaging with them," he said.

That assessment may explain, at least in part, the decision announced last week to send a second U.S. aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf region, along with a Patriot missile battalion capable of shooting down shorter-range ballistic missiles of the type Iran has in its arsenal.

In Bahrain, a British Royal Navy officer who is the No. 2 commander for coalition naval forces in the Central Command area of responsibility told reporters that the exact role and missions of the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis, which is due to arrive in the Gulf area next month, have not yet been worked out.

British Commodore Keith Winstanley said the Stennis deployment should not be seen entirely as a move aimed at Iran, but he added, "I'm sure there's a message there for Iran."

He said Iranian naval operations have not changed in any significant way since Bush announced the extra carrier deployment, and Winstanley said at-sea contacts with the Iranian navy have been "extremely cordial."
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