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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 863

Letter from America: The War Party is Alive and Kicking - 1

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Habib_Siddiqui.jpgIf you thought that with the defeat of the Republicans in the last U.S. presidential election you had seen the last of the War Party, you are wrong. They are alive and kicking, and have been so for quite some time. They have been behind all the hoopla about Iran’s so-called nuclear program so that the USA government can again be pushed to open up a new front against Iran.

As I have noted earlier, there is a powerful group of Zionists inside the USA and many western countries that identifies itself as a vanguard of the rogue state of Israel. Events like the AIPAC annual conference allow them to mingle and solidify their ties to Israel.

Because of the overwhelming power of this ‘Israeli Lobby’ it is also a much sought after event by many politicians, especially those who are running in the next election. They obviously don’t want to embrace the fate of either former 11-term congressman Paul Findley or 6-term congresswoman Cindy McKinney. President Obama’s attendance this year shows that the uneasy thought of being targeted has not escaped his mind either, let alone the power of AIPAC. After all, outside Obama, I am not aware of any U.S. president ever speaking in front of the AIPAC!

But before Obama could declare in that event that “I have Israel’s back” in its escalating confrontation with Iran, pro-Israel figures like the evangelical Christian leader Gary L. Bauer (who is also active in the group Christians United for Israel) and the Jewish neo-conservative commentator William Kristol were pushing for more. In a 30-minute video, the group that the two men lead, the Emergency Committee for Israel, mocked Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security” and attacked his record on Iran as weak. With Israeli leaders warning of an existential threat from Iran and openly discussing the possibility of attacking her nuclear facilities, pro-Israel groups have been frantically beating up the drums of a war for the Obama administration and the Congress to comply with.

Among those advocating a more aggressive approach toward Iran are prominent Republicans in Congress, like Mr. Cantor (rumored to become Mitt Romney’s running mate in the presidential election) and Senator John McCain of Arizona, and the party’s presidential candidates (outside Congressman Dr. Ron Paul).

Many of these pro-Israelis are also part of what is commonly known as the war party that is tied up with the military industrial complex. In her newly released book – Drift - Rachel Maddow of the MSNBC argues that the American nation has drifted away from its founding ideals and has become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails. To understand how we've arrived at such a dangerous place, she discusses from the Vietnam War to today's war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe.

Back in 1792, President Thomas Jefferson wrote, "One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep an unnecessary soldier." As Maddow showed neither Jefferson nor the other founding fath¬ers could ever have envisioned the modern national security state, with its tens of thousands of "privateers"; its bloated Department of Homeland Security; its rust¬ing nuclear weapons, ill-maintained and difficult to dismantle; and its strange fascination with an unproven counterinsurgency doctrine. And add to that list the pre-emptive strikes in what is always touted as a self-defensive measure – shoot and kill first before asking questions! It is perception that counts and not evidence proving contrary to our war-mongering impudent claims.

So, just as with Iraq during Bush Jr.’s presidency, under Obama nothing truly has changed with administration’s character when it comes to its perception about Iran and her so-called controversial nuclear program. Like the Ahmed Chalabis of Iraq we have the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group to excite our warmongers to justify a covert and overt war with Iran.

Recently, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has trained operatives from MEK at a secret site in Nevada. Writing in The New Yorker, Hersh reports JSOC began training the MEK in 2005 even though the group has been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. The training included intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics. Last month, NBC reported that members of the MEK have been involved in the assassinations of five Iranian nuclear scientists. It is believed that the Obama administration and Netanyahu government have provided the material support for such murders.

And then there is the Jundallah, a terrorist organization, based in Iranian Balochistan, which has been linked to, and taken credit for, numerous acts of terror, kidnapping and the smuggling of narcotics. It has been fighting a proxy war against Iran on behalf of the CIA. Iranian authorities and several other sources such as the ABC News, Daily Telegraph, and journalist Seymour Hersh have also reported that Jundullah, like the MEK, has received support from the United States against the government of Iran.

What is even more disturbing is that some former Washington officials, e.g., Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani, Francis Townsend, Louis Freeh, Hugh Shelton, John Bolton, have been vocally advocating on MEK’s behalf, often in exchange for large payments. As Jeremiah Goulka recently noted in the salon.com, given the cacophony of saber-rattling over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program – which the U.S. intelligence community generally believes was shut down in 2003 – and the risk, however low, of actually getting prosecuted for “material support of terrorism,” it is important to examine why anyone would promote a designated terrorist organization. These officials were paid to speak on the MEK’s behalf, up to $30,000 per speech.

Tom Ridge, the former governor of the state of Pennsylvania and Homeland Secretary during Bush Jr. era, has his own security consultancy (Ridge Global, LLC) and lobbying firm (Ridge Policy Group). He chairs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s national security task force and sits on the boards of at least one military contractor (TechRadium, Inc.) and one company (Geospatial Corporation) that serves the oil and gas industry. Townsend chairs an industry association for intelligence contractors (the Intelligence and National Security Alliance) and is the head of lobbying for a holding company (MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.) that owns the military contractor AM General. Giuliani, the ex-mayor of New York City, has a security consulting firm (Giuliani Partners) and is a partner in a law firm with prominent oil and gas and lobbying practices (Bracewell & Giuliani). He used to own a private equity fund that teamed up with Bear Stearns to invest in security companies. Louis Freeh, the 5th director of the FBI, has a security and investigations consulting firm (Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC) and a law firm (Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP), where he represents, among other clients, a Saudi prince in a bribery investigation involving an arms deal.

Shelton has served on the boards of directors of several military contractors, such as L-3 Communications, CACI International, Inc., and Protective Products of America, Inc. Bolton, Mukasey, Rendell, and Dean are affiliated with major law firms whose clients include not just standard military contractors but many other more mundane corporations, that benefit from military largesse. (Bolton served as Bush’s representative at the UN; he is also affiliated with several pro-war think tanks.)

It is no brainer that for people in the national/homeland security business, war with Iran would be a cash cow. They and their clients stand to benefit handsomely. Just stoking fears of war can get money flowing, from studies to retrofitting naval vessels. As Goulka noted, “Bombing would be better ... But full-on war, that’s the mother lode. An invasion followed by an Iraq-style lingering occupation and reconstruction would open up hundreds of billions and possibly even trillions of taxpayer dollars for the grabbing.”

It is quite obvious that the War Party is winning. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear last Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would resume in mid-April. With speculation over a possible U.S. or Israel military attack adding urgency to the next round of discussions in Istanbul set for April 13, Clinton said Iran's “window of opportunity” for a peaceful resolution “will not remain open forever.”

She also expressed doubt about whether Iran has any intention of negotiating a solution that satisfies the U.S., Israel and other countries that believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

This kind of loose war talks is rather disconcerting given the fact that both American and Israeli intelligence say that Iran has neither started to build a nuclear weapon nor even decided to do so in the future. Both also regard the Iranian government as a “rational actor.”

To be continued

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