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Is Our CIA Wagging The Iranian Dog?

When the idea of our CIA influencing the present destabilization of Iran was floated in an earlier Oxdown diary, a commenter scoffed that such a notion “wouldn’t pass the giggle test.”

Really? I rub my eyes and can’t see anything else. I can’t fathom that we are not involved covertly in serious, unholy ways with this present crisis. Destabilizing Iran has been such an obsession with the neocons of the U.S. and Israel.

Half of Iran is under the age of 26. Many clearly listened with open hearts to Obama in Cairo as he painted a picture of a peaceful, cooperative, non-xenophobic world. Over 80% of them voted. Hundreds of thousands of them, all ages, have taken to the streets to risk death to assert their will and commitment to a healthier, less corrupt and repressive society. God — Allah — bless them!

This in a country with the formidable Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (of which Ahmadijenad was a member) and with an outgrowth of that Guard, an even more thuggish, paramilitary group called the Basij militia. Witnessing the escalating assaults on the fervent protesters, I can’t help recall the horrific, squelching massacre at Tiananmen Square of the Beijing University Students in 1989. I feel frightened and alarmed for the welfare of these Iranian heroes.

Their sincerity is evident. But, again, this turmoil has been the loud and coveted sustained ambition of the right. And well-funded CIA efforts toward such revolutionary activity have been going on for some time. Will there be a positive reckoning of this Iranian administration with its citizenry, or will advantage be taken by predatory external governments, such as ours.

Paul Craig Roberts alludes to the US “black ops” presently pumping out “disinformation” about the “stolen” Iranian election, itself. He reminds his readers how in May, 2007 Brian Ross and Richard Esposito on ABC quoted intelligence community sources that the CIA had presidential approval to mount destabilizing operations in Iran. That same month the London Telegraph reported on Bush’s plans for a propaganda campaign to “topple the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”

Again during that month, John Bolton told the Telegraph that a U.S. military attack on Iran would be a last option if economic sanctions and attempts to “foment a popular revolution” had failed. In June of 2008, Seymour Hersh wrote his famous New Yorker column on how Bush secretly had asked and received from surprisingly obliging Democrat-majority Congressional representatives $400 million in funding for a major escalation of covert operations in Iran.

Stephen Gowans, speculates darkly on the U.S. militarist agenda:

… when Washington closes Act II of its war on terrorism, and opens Act III: the conquest of Iran’s oil fields, billed once again as the exercise of American military power for high moral purpose.

Robert Stark in the Examiner asserts:

Ahmadinejad’s recent victory over challenger Moussavi is sparking riots in Iran and is being used as an opportunity for Neocons and Israel’s President Netanyahu and his Likud Party to demonize Iran and call for military action against Iran.

In yet another article, Paul Craig Roberts looks deeply at the present dramatic phenomenon and accuses the U.S. citizenry of profound naiveté at not recognizing an American media campaign of disinformation:

The Iranian election protests, essentially by the westernized youth of Tehran who wish to be free of Islamic moral codes, have the hallmarks of orchestration. The protesters are color-coded with green wristbands. Their protest signs are in English and are obviously directed at the western media. Their chants are propagandistic and bear no relation to facts known by every Iranian.

And again, the US media and various experts, whose ambitions depend on government-related careers, are force-feeding the American public the disinformation designed to further isolate and weaken, if not overthrow, the Iranian government.

Until 1978 the US ruled Iran through the Shah. The US intends to again rule Iran through puppets. The only two remaining independent governments in the region are Iran and Syria. If the US doesn’t first bankrupt itself, both countries will fall to US black ops destabilization.

The limitless gullibility of the American people guarantees carte blanche to the US government’s schemes. Americans seemingly cannot put two and two together. They have already forgotten the lies about weapons of mass destruction that have resulted in the destruction of Iraq. They have forgotten Secretary of State Colin Powell’s publicly expressed remorse at the lies he told the UN. Americans blithely accept the conflation of Talliban with al Qaeda and terrorists and the new war that the Obama regime has started in Pakistan, a war that has already produced 2 million refugees.

Prof. James Petras accuses the media of unprofessionalism in presenting their unsubstantiated assertion of fraud and offers a far reaching analysis of the voting population, proving that Ahmadinejad may well have won his landslide.

The Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations of opposition supporters, ignoring and downplaying the huge turnout for Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of the competing demonstrations – the fact that the incumbent candidate was drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant, artisan and public employee sectors while the bulk of the opposition demonstrators was drawn from the upper and middle class students, business and professional class.


The only group, which consistently favored Mousavi, was the university students and graduates, business owners and the upper middle class. The ‘youth vote’, which the Western media praised as ‘pro-reformist’, was a clear minority of less than 30% but came from a highly privileged, vocal and largely English speaking group with a monopoly on the Western media. Their overwhelming presence in the Western news reports created what has been referred to as the ‘North Tehran Syndrome’, for the comfortable upper class enclave from which many of these students come. While they may be articulate, well dressed and fluent in English, they were soundly out-voted in the secrecy of the ballot box.

In general, Ahmadinejad did very well in the oil and chemical producing provinces. This may have be a reflection of the oil workers’ opposition to the ‘reformist’ program, which included proposals to ‘privatize’ public enterprises. Likewise, the incumbent did very well along the border provinces because of his emphasis on strengthening national security from US and Israeli threats in light of an escalation of US-sponsored cross-border terrorist attacks from Pakistan and Israeli-backed incursions from Iraqi Kurdistan, which have killed scores of Iranian citizens. Sponsorship and massive funding of the groups behind these attacks is an official policy of the US from the Bush Administration, which has not been repudiated by President Obama; in fact it has escalated in the lead-up to the elections.

What Western commentators and their Iranian protégés have ignored is the powerful impact which the devastating US wars and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan had on Iranian public opinion: Ahmadinejad’s strong position on defense matters contrasted with the pro-Western and weak defense posture of many of the campaign propagandists of the opposition.

The great majority of voters for the incumbent probably felt that national security interests, the integrity of the country and the social welfare system, with all of its faults and excesses, could be better defended and improved with Ahmadinejad than with upper-class technocrats supported by Western-oriented privileged youth who prize individual life styles over community values and solidarity.

The demography of voting reveals a real class polarization pitting high income, free market oriented, capitalist individualists against working class, low income, community based supporters of a ‘moral economy’ in which usury and profiteering are limited by religious precepts. The open attacks by opposition economists of the government welfare spending, easy credit and heavy subsidies of basic food staples did little to ingratiate them with the majority of Iranians benefiting from those programs. The state was seen as the protector and benefactor of the poor workers against the ‘market’, which represented wealth, power, privilege and corruption. The Opposition’s attack on the regime’s ‘intransigent’ foreign policy and positions ‘alienating’ the West only resonated with the liberal university students and import-export business groups. To many Iranians, the regime’s military buildup was seen as having prevented a US or Israeli attack.

As for the reformist candidate, Mousavi, Reza Fiyouzat reveals a troubling history:

Mir-Hossein Mousavi, currently a member of the ‘reformist’ camp in Iran, was the prime minister (when the post existed) from 1981 to 1989. Back then he was a member of the ‘left wing’ due to his advocacy for a state run economy. Nowadays, he has changed indeed and supports all manner of privatization (as do all ‘reformers’).

Mousavi’s premiership coincided with the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), during which his economic management carried the country through very rough times. Among other innovations, he introduced the coupon system that made sure everybody received the minimum ration of needed nutrients during those hard times.

Mousavi’s premiership also coincided with the bloodiest period of post-revolutionary internal violence against the people in Iran. Not only was the country engulfed in a World War I-type of high-fatality military conflict for eight years (which required active-to-the-point-of-forceful recruiting of people to send to the fronts), the new regime was also going through its consolidation; a period that has historically included eradication of internal opponents. During this period, thousands of dissidents were jailed, tortured and executed in summary executions after phony ‘trials’.

In one ominous event, at the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war, in the summer of 1988, according to human rights organizations in and outside Iran, between two and five thousand political prisoners were summarily executed. Among the executed were some who had served their sentences, or could qualify for early release. But, in a deliberate move to ‘clean up’ the political prisons, the government (headed partly by Mousavi) pushed for rushed executions of thousands of these prisoners.

We know of the callous exploitation and betrayal of the citizens of Iraq by the Bush administration. What of Barack Obama and his remarkable and apparent spiritual inspiration to many earnest Iranian reformists. I can’t help wondering, while these heroic Iranians are risking their lives to force their government “to unclench its fist” — Obama’s own eloquent metaphor — will our President extend a trustworthy hand back to them? Will their human rights and security not be sacrificed for military and economic corporate self-aggrandizement, especially in lieu of those precious oil fields, alluded to above by Gowans.

As their long distance honeymoon with our charismatic new President begins, a despairing number of us progressives are ending our honeymoon with him due to many disappointments. Escalation of the Mid-East war he had promised to wrap up. Escalation of civilian casualties. Lack of accountability for crimes of torture. No reinstatement of the right of habeas corpus. Little transparency re the military and financial sectors. Continuation of a toxic codependency with Israel and collusion in its human rights atrocities. Disproportionate compensation and protection of Wall Street financiers at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. Etc.

Teo Ballve accuses Obama of “whitewashing the history of U.S. foreign policy” in two major speeches within the past month.”

At the National Archives on May 21, Obama claimed, "From Europe to the Pacific, we’ve been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law." And in Cairo, Egypt, just two weeks later, Obama said, "America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. … America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election."

These assertions ring entirely hollow in Latin America, where the reverse is true: Washington propped up tyrannical leaders and bankrolled murderous armies. Under the iron fist of these U.S.-backed regimes, the region’s torture chambers rang with the cries of innocent victims.


In Central America, where civil wars broke out, the destruction was even greater. The CIA and the Pentagon worked with death squads in the name of U.S. national security. In El Salvador, where Washington spent $6 billion trying to defeat rebels, 75,000 lost their lives.

Today, Washington still disregards human rights abuses in its military alliances. Colombia’s army is drenched in scandal over its execution of 1,600 innocent civilians, who were later claimed as rebels killed in combat. The United Nations has called political murder at the hands of the army "widespread and systematic." Nevertheless, Obama’s first foreign appropriations budget has slated $270 million in military aid to Colombia.

Winslow Wheeler in “Counterpunch” tallies a worrisome military spending plan with the apparent intentions of Obama. He entitles his article, “How Obama Will Outspend Reagan on Defense, The Pentagon Spigot is Wide Open”:

Not counting money projected for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the presidentially approved budget plan would continue increasing the Pentagon’s budget: by another $8.1 billion in 2011 (up 1.5 percent), another $9 billion in 2012 (up 1.6 percent), and $10.4 billion in 2013 (up1.8 percent), and so on all the way out to 2019.

If we add in the costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon budget for the current fiscal year – 2009 – exceeds any year since the end of World War II, including the spending peaks for the Korean and Vietnam wars. President Obama’s plan is to increase that lead. Obama also will outspend Ronald Reagan on defense. Obama plans to spend $2.47 trillion on the Pentagon for the years 2010 to 2013. If he makes it into a second term, he plans to spend an other $2.58 trillion for the years 2014 to 2017. Put together for the eight years, 2010 to 2017, Obama plans to spend $5.05 trillion. In his first four years, Reagan spent, in inflation-adjusted dollars, $2.1 trillion. In his second four years, he spent $2.11 trillion, for an eight-year total of $4.21 trillion. Obama will out-spend Reagan in his first four years by $369 billion. Over eight years, Obama will exceed Reagan by $840 billion.


Breathlessly, some will protest that we must wait for the results of the QDR and the big changes everyone knows are needed. However, based on Obama’s performance on national security issues so far, it clearly is not going to happen. With his decisions on Afghanistan, extra-judicial military com mission trials of suspected terrorists, the public release of recorded prisoner abuse and other matters, Obama has already shown he has no stomach for major departures from conventional wisdom and the "moderate" – i.e., politically safe – thing to do on questions of national defense.

Similarly, we can expect Obama’s first QDR Pentagon exercise to land on safe territory, certainly not on the stormy seas of actual reductions – or the uncharted waters of real and meaningful Pentagon reform.

The spigot is pretty much stuck where it is. It would take real change for it to be otherwise.

Will Iran survive and prosper from this present remarkable and dangerous reckoning? Or will it be the next victim state to be shocked and awed by the “war machines” of foreign predators offering their faux help. Iraq used to have the highest standard of living in all the Middle East before our “help.” In Obama’s first 100 days there are 2 million refugees in Pakistan. The Obama administration has induced with money and pressure that fragile government to catalyze a civil war among its fiercely loyal tribes.

Stephen Gowans in his compelling piece, “To Rid the World of Bogeymen” addresses the horrors of US militarism.

As to the world being a better place for the exercise of US military might, there’s the not inconsequential matter of millions dead in Indochina, thousands blasted away in Yugoslavia, and 5,000 bombed to death in Afghanistan. Ultimately, however, it depends on who you’re talking about. It surely isn’t a better place for the dead, nor those who have been permanently disabled, nor those who have subsequently suffered and died from cancers caused by the rich environmental devastation and widespread broadcast of carcinogens the exercise of US military might inevitably brings. Nor the thousands upon thousands in Iraq who have died from diphtheria, pertusis and other assorted waterborne illnesses, after the Pentagon deliberately destroyed Iraq’s water treatment facilities during the Persian Gulf War, all in defiance of the Geneva Conventions; and nor for the monsters whose births owe much to the use of teratogens, the defoliants used in Vietnam and depleted uranium used in Iraq; nor the limbless children blown to bits by bomblets from unexploded cluster bombs; and nor the American veterans who have died slow, painful deaths, from such mysterious illnesses as Gulf War syndrome, which the Pentagon poohs-poohs as a myth.

But for Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and a long string of military contractors, whose profits swell with each pool of blood spilled, the world has indeed become a better place. So, too, has it improved for shareholders and executives whose opportunities to exploit new resources, new markets, and new areas of low-wage labor abroad, have been enlarged, courtesy of the Pentagon. And for political Washington, that sits atop a rapidly expanding empire, how could the exercise of US military power be seen as anything but the world becoming a better place?

Gowans goes on to take the very words preached by President Bush to Iraq and apply them as a formula for peace for the United States. It makes for an exciting read:

Take, for example, the prescription for peace George W. Bush delivered to Iraq:

"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.

"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and others — again as required by Security Council resolutions.

And on and on. These are good recommendations. But rearrange the words, and redirect the focus, and Bush’s prescription becomes a credible plan for America, too; a plan America should embrace. Borrowing from writer David McGowan, this is what Bush should have said, in addition to what he said about Iraq:

We want peace. We will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.

We want peace. We will immediately end all support for terrorism, including that practised by the KLA, and by anti-Cuban terrorists, and act to suppress terrorism, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

We want peace. We will accept liability for losses resulting from the saturation bombing of Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, accept responsibility for the devastating environmental damage inflicted on these countries, remove all unexploded cluster bomblets, decontaminate all areas where depleted uranium weaponry was used.

We want peace. We will immediately end the shipment of armaments and weapons of mass destruction to other countries, beginning with Israel, Turkey and Colombia.

We want peace. We will immediately reorient our national security strategy to the protection of the homeland, and not to the conquest of new markets, new resources, and new areas of low wage labor abroad. The United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will become what they were intended to be: defensive forces, to deter and repel attacks on the homeland. They will no longer be the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for the banks, big oil, and Silicon Valley’s technologies.

By taking these steps, we will signal a new openness and accountability, and a new commitment to an international order based on co-operation, the rule of law, and peace, not on conquest, domination and enlarging the interests of the wealthiest.

We are committed to the view that a materially secure existence can be secured for all in the world; that all the world’s people are entitled to education, health care, adequate shelter, adequate clothing, and adequate nutrition, and that securing these things is well within our collective means. This, we believe, is the surest way to secure a lasting peace.

We want peace.

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