Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A War Even Hawks Don't Want?

Stephanie Condon files this report....

Aside from Iraq (which is a pretty big aside), Iran is the most pressing foreign policy issue the United States currently faces. So Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, recently said at conference hosted by RAND. "My own view is that military conflict is not desirable, and it is absolutely unavoid--." Unavoidable? The audience at the conference--which was entitled "Coping with Iran: Confrontation, Containment or Engagement?"--collectively drew in an anxious breath before Burns corrected himself and said, "avoidable."

What was intriguing was that the foreign policy wonks at the conference were mostly in agreement: preemptive action against Iran in response to its growing nuclear program is a horrible idea. Even the American Enterprise Institute's Danielle Pletka--a hawkette who insists the world's lone superpower will "win" in Iraq and that regime change is the answer in Iran--stayed one step away from advocating the use of preemptive military force in dealing with Iran. "If you're looking to end [Iran's] nuclear program, than most people agree military action is not going to provide an answer," Pletka said. "It may slow it down, but it would have a whole series of consequences." Remember Pletka's AEI was the HQ for neocons who advocated the invasion of Iraq.

With hard-nosed hawks reluctant to urge military action in Iran, one might assume the Bush administration is not heading toward confrontation with Iran. But that's what's happening, according to David Ochmanek, RAND's senior defense analyst. At this conference, Ochmanek displayed a neatly laid-out chart--in case words alone didn't convey his point--and explained that the United States' current policies are leading to a worst-case scenario: a hostile relationship with a nuclear-armed country (though Iran is not expected to be able to build nuclear weapons for a number of years should it want to). Bush administration policies, he said, has not made the difficult road to diplomacy any smoother. They have exacerbated the tensions--as the US military presence in the region grows. "The lack of distrust is pervasive," said Javad Zarif, Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations (who spoke to the conference via phone because his travels within the United States are limited). "We as Iranians should not expect the United States to start trusting Iran" and visa versa.

Zarif, though he represents a repressive regime, had a point. With so much distrust and so much military hardware in each other's vicinity, the stage is sure set for an event (purposeful or not) to trigger a military confrontation between the United States and Iran. What if Iran had seized US naval personnel at sea (instead of British)? And remember Iran Air Flight 655. On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down the civilian aircraft and all 290 passengers and crew members died. The US government claimed the Vincennes had mistakenly identified the Iranian airliner as an attacking military jet. Tehran claimed this had been an intentional attack on a civilian target. But no war happened. The United States never apologized, but eight years later it agreed to pay $6.1 million in compensation for the victims.

Imagine if this sort of event happened today? Ochmanek's message is that a war is likely--unless Washington and Tehran preemptively find a way to cool down relations before anything like this occurs. If they don't, it's possible the hawks may get a war they don't want.

Posted by David Corn at April 4, 2007 04:59 PM


capt said...

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence: Benjamin Franklin

A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read: Mark Twain

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth: Henry D. Thoreau

Where liberty is, there is my country: Benjamin Franklin

And though tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people : Hannah Arendt, from her book The Origins Of Totalitarianism p.128


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

TRH said...

Not all "Hawks" want war and my opinion is that the percentage of "Hawks" that want war are slim to none. Even the most hardcore Airborn Ranger, Navy SEAL or Marine infantryman will tell you they prefer peace to war. But, they will also admit that you do not negotiate from weakness. Hell, even Neil Young said that. If there is bully on the block, you can try to negotiate peace. But if negotiations do not work, you knock the bully down a notch or two. You can't accomplish that if you are weak.

#1 lesson learned about the war in Iraq. The U.S. miliary is an awesome fighting force. We have superior air, sea and ground power and can and will defeat any other military in the world. We cannot, however, remain as a police force with our hands tied behind our back. Either give our forces the funds, equipment and authority to succeed or bring them home. And that means anywhere our troops are stationed in the world.

Welcome home Grant. Thank you for your service to our country.

capt said...

From WMR:

Over a dozen protesters heckled and pelted Karl Rove and his car with rocks, bottles, and other projectiles last night after he spoke to a group of college Republicans at American University in northwest Washington. Campus police intervened so Rove could drive off the campus. There were no arrests. Congratulations to the protesters for a job well done!

capt said...


Main Entry: hawk
Pronunciation: 'hok
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English hauk, from Old English hafoc; akin to Old High German habuh hawk, Russian kobets a falcon

1 : any of numerous diurnal birds of prey belonging to a suborder (Falcones of the order Falconiformes) and including all the smaller members of this group; especially : ACCIPITER

2 : a small board or metal sheet with a handle on the underside used to hold mortar

3 : one who takes a militant attitude and advocates immediate vigorous action; especially : a supporter of a war or warlike policy -- compare DOVE

capt said...

First They Came for the Spies

Why is the Wall Street Journal in favor of espionage?

The title of Dorothy Rabinowitz's Wall Street Journal screed defending two accused spies, "First They Came for the Jews," telegraphs the strategy apologists for Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman will be using when the two AIPAC officials' trial on charges of espionage, scheduled for June 4, finally begins. It is also a smear so outrageous it almost defies belief. What that headline communicates is the warped conception that the U.S. government, in prosecuting two prominent lobbyists on behalf of Israel for handing over sensitive classified information to Israeli officials, is the equivalent of the Nazi regime. What's next – the WSJ editorially attacking "Bushitler"?

Rosen, long the spark plug of AIPAC's very effective lobbying efforts, and Weissman, AIPAC's Iran specialist, are charged with espionage on Israel's behalf: here is the indictment. It shows that Rosen and Weissman weren't just "ordinary citizens," as Rabinowitz characterizes them, or even just high-powered lobbyists, acting, as is their right, to influence government policy. They were the leaders of a spy ring that was in the business of gathering classified information from their sources inside the U.S. government and feeding it to Israeli officials – a business that attracted the attention of the FBI's counterintelligence unit way back in 1999, when, according to the indictment:

"Rosen had a conversation with Foreign Official 1 (FO-1) and told FO-1 that he (Rosen) had 'picked up alt extremely sensitive piece of intelligence' which Rosen described as codeword protected intelligence. Rosen then disclosed to FO-1 national defense information concerning terrorist activities in Central Asia."

At the same time, Rosen also got his hot little hands on a "secret FBI, classified FBI report" – in Rosen's own secretly-recorded words – about the Khobar Towers terrorist attack, which he claimed he had received from U.S. government officials. Rosen also fed favored media outlets with the fruits of his labors, leaking the Khobar Towers intelligence to a friendly reporter. Rosen, in short, had been the object of the FBI's attention for some time, and that presumably included the organization he worked for and did so much to build up as one of the most powerful – and feared – lobbies in Washington.


*****end of clip*****

Some interesting stuff.


capt said...

War Brings out the Worst in Everyone

Seventy female U.S. soldiers have now been killed fighting in Iraq, and at least 450 have been wounded. This comes as no surprise since over 160,000 female soldiers have served in the Middle East and Afghanistan since the war began. But in addition to dodging bullets and IEDs, some female soldiers have had to watch out for a danger they weren’t expecting—sexual assaults by male soldiers. Says Helen Benedict in a Salon piece last month:

I have talked to more than 20 female veterans of the Iraq war in the past few months, interviewing them for up to 10 hours each for a book I am writing on the topic, and every one of them said the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection.

War brings out the worst in men. War brings out the worst in women. War brings out the worst in everyone. Bring the troops home now.


*****end of clip*****

Hardly shocking as I bet the "travel in pairs" advice is sound advice here in the states too.


capt said...

Obama rivals Clinton in fundraising

Democrat Barack Obama raked in $US25 million ($A30.79 million) for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party's inevitable nominee.

The eye-popping figure was the latest evidence that Obama, a political newcomer who has served just two years in the Senate, has emerged as the most powerful new force in presidential politics this year.

It also reinforced his status as a significant threat to Clinton, who'd hoped her own $US26 million ($A32.02 million) first quarter fundraising total would begin to squeeze her rivals out of contention.

While Clinton has honed a vast national fundraising network through two Senate campaigns and her husband Bill Clinton's eight years as president, Obama launched his bid for the White House with a relatively small donor base concentrated largely in Illinois, his home state.

But his early opposition to the Iraq war and voter excitement over his quest to be the first black president quickly fueled a powerful fundraising machine.


*****end of clip*****

As long as we continue to handicap the race base on dollars raised we will end up with basically the same politicians in office. I can't imagine what it will take to change it.


micki said...

I've personally known military officers who are the most hawkish of HAWKS who look on war as a sure-fire guarantee of more rapid promotion.

Disgusting. Selfish. But true.

Plenty of hawks want war.

Robert S said...

"Hoax" revives famed 1970s literary lie on film
By Mary Milliken

Apr 4, 2007 — LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes famously broke his silence in the 1970s to denounce a fake autobiography, a yarn he considered more wild and imaginative than any script he had ever seen in Hollywood.

"I only wish I were still in the movie business," he said at the time.

Thirty-five years later comes "The Hoax," the film the late Hughes never made about the roguish author Clifford Irving and the great literary fib he perpetrated. It opens in the United States on Friday.

Directed by Swedish Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom and starring Richard Gere as Irving, "The Hoax" traces the amazing string of lies that duped the cosmopolitan New York publishing world and made Irving the talk of the town, both before and after his bust by the real Howard Hughes.

"I remember it quite clearly," said Gere. "It was on the cover of Time magazine and it was news constantly. It was a big deal, bigger than anything else."

Based on Irving's book of the same name, the film begins with the struggling writer convincing his editor that he has met Hughes and the recluse has asked him to pen his memoirs.

With the help of a sidekick writer played by Alfred Molina and a sacrificing Swedish wife portrayed by Oscar-winning Marcia Gay Harden, Irving travels the country to dredge up exclusive information from people who had worked for Hughes.

Every time his publishers begin to have doubts about the veracity of Hughes' participation, Irving ups the ante and delivers more, like fake recordings and handwriting that experts say are bona fide.


Gere relished the challenges that Irving faced and learned to speak like Hughes by listening to original recordings. The actor famed for his gray locks and good looks dons a prosthetic nose and bushy brown hair to play his philandering character, who betrays his wife, friends and publishers.

"Like kids caught in a lie, you have to come up with an even bigger lie to cover the small lie," said Gere.



It was weird the other day, as I somehow caught Diane Sawyer interviewing Richard Gere about this movie on ABC's Good Morning America, and there were the two of them smiling and chatting up the movie as Ms. Sawyer inquired about the cosmetic prosthesis Mr. Gere wore on his nose to look like Clifford Irving, and everything was going along just fine as these interviews always do, until Mr. Gere casually mentioned that Vietnam (the background to the Howard Hughes - Nixon back story of Hoax) and Iraq were similar in that they were both conflicts that we were lied into. Diane Sawyer goes silent. Mr. Gere says, "you're not going there." Ms. Sawyer says, "No." Mr. Gere, "Why not?" "I want to have a serious political discussion with you." Ms. Sawyer, "We will set it up and tape it." Mr. Gere, "But you will never air it." Ms. Sawyer agrees, laughing...

capt said...

As Bush prevaricates, Cheney Hides... [VIDEO]

A (moving) picture is worth 10 thousand words...

This is my favorite cameraman of all time. As Bush oozes his way through an attempt to make it look like he's not vetoing the troops' funding (more extensive video with Feingold on Olbermann HERE), Cheney hides in the bushes. Really, really far away...


capt said...

In general "hawks" don't bug me half as much as the chicken-hawks.

The "chicken" part on video above as Cheney hides in the bushes.


capt said...

Feingold on Bush: It's incredible that he's vetoing funds he wants... [VIDEO]

On Olbermann, the Dem rips Bush's conference.

"The president is beyond stubborn," "detached from reality," and the best one: "Unless we've shifted into a monarchy," the Congress is doing a legitimate job with this bill and that the president is the one vetoing the funds for the troops. Their responsibility is oversight, the power of the purse, and not just a body of suggesters.

Senator Feingold, who's been pushing a timeline for nearly two years, relays the thoughts of 7 out of 10 Americans that the War on Iraq ought to end. He then proceeds to lay out the plan that he and Harry Reid have in store for doing so...


*****end of clip*****

" not just a body of suggesters"

Heck, as a "body" they have done very little suggesting. We would not be in the mess we are if they were doing their part as a co-equal branch of government with the clear constitutional mandate of oversight and control of spending.


Robert S said...

In 1968, Col. George S. Patton III sent out Christmas cards of dismembered Viet Cong soldiers stacked neatly in a pile, inscribed with the words "From Colonel and Mrs. George S. Patton III--Peace on Earth."


So much for hawks.

capt said...

New Thread

Robert S said...

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV
By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributors
Wednesday 04 April 2007

It's become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King's death, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."

The remarkable thing about these reviews of King's life is that several years - his last years - are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling segregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.


It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or [the right] to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" - including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall US foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 - a year to the day before he was murdered - King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." (Full text/audio here.)

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the US was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the US was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 - and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington - engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be - until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" - appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

How familiar that sounds today, nearly 40 years after King's efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an assassin's bullet.

In 2007, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and most in Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. They fund foreign wars with "alacrity and generosity," while being miserly in dispensing funds for education and health care and environmental cleanup.

And those priorities are largely unquestioned by mainstream media. No surprise that they tell us so little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life.