28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.

Saudis push Syria

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An overt, tangible statement of support for the Syrian uprising (the nearest thing to the “military option” so far) by Saudi Arabia:

Saudi sends military gear to Syria rebels: diplomat
AFP; Mar. 17th, 2012

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday.

“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This is a Saudi initiative to stop the massacres in Syria,” he added, saying that further “details will follow at a later time.”

Arising amidst renewed suggestions of a Turkish military buffer zone for Syrian refugees, this move by the Saudis may be an attempt to catalyze a reluctant NATO into action by demonstrating visible support from the Arab world—a world that NATO has no formal part in.

The statement also comes just hours after a deadly, well-coordinated car bombing in Damascus.

 

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Written by M. James

March 18, 2012 at 4:07 am

Overwhelmed by information

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Fifteen years on, here is a still-influential piece about a global information revolution, and why American culture, and military, are unquestionably dominant. Most striking is Peters’s analysis of global disillusionment with American success.

Most citizens of the globe are not economists; they perceive wealth as inelastic, its possession a zero-sum game. If decadent America (as seen on the screen) is so fabulously rich, it can only be because America has looted one’s own impoverished group or country or region.

Our military power is culturally based. They cannot rival us without becoming us. Wise competitors will not even attempt to defeat us on our terms; rather, they will seek to shift the playing field away from military confrontations or turn to terrorism and nontraditional forms of assault on our national integrity.

The world’s response, Peters thought, would be anger at self and at America. Fifteen years on, this has taken shape in the Middle East through revolution—addressing self—and extensive terrorist networks—addressing both America and self.

As more and more human beings are overwhelmed by information, or dispossessed by the effects of information-based technologies, there will be more violence. Information victims will often see no other resort. As work becomes more cerebral, those who fail to find a place will respond by rejecting reason.

A bold claim, especially when the rejection of reason in the Islamic world is generally attributed to Islam itself.

Written by M. James

March 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Reconsidering Iran’s nuclear ambitions

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A sensible news report on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has finally emerged. From the Los Angeles Times:

As U.S. and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.

A highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

U.S. spy agencies also have not seen evidence of a decision-making structure on nuclear weapons around Khamenei, said David Albright, who heads the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security and is an expert on Iran’s nuclear program.

Albright’s group estimates that with the centrifuges Iran already has, it could enrich uranium to sufficient purity to make a bomb in as little as six months, should it decide to do so.

It is not known precisely what other technical hurdles Iran would have to overcome, but Albright and many other experts believe that if it decides to proceed, the country has the scientific knowledge to design and build a crude working bomb in as little as a year. It would take as long as three years, Albright estimated, for Iran to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

In December 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate judged with “high confidence” that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. It judged with “moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.”

As George Friedman said, very clearly, a month ago (here):

Moreover, while the Iranians may aspire to a deterrent via a viable nuclear weapons capability, we do not believe the Iranians see nuclear weapons as militarily useful. A few such weapons could devastate Israel, but Iran would be annihilated in retaliation. While the Iranians talk aggressively, historically they have acted cautiously. For Iran, nuclear weapons are far more valuable as a notional threat and bargaining chip than as something to be deployed. Indeed, the ideal situation is not quite having a weapon, and therefore not forcing anyone to act against them, but seeming close enough to be taken seriously. They certainly have achieved that.

Written by M. James

February 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Posted in News, Politics

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Whodunit: Revisiting the Roshan assassination

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Once again, I’d like to hark back to a prior post in light of new information on the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. That post, in summary:

Underlying the ramped-up rhetoric, military mobilization, and escalating espionage in Iran is a hidden economic war against Iran’s currency. The implication of this economic war is that the U.S. seeks to avoid military conflict with Iran. In fact, dollarizing Iran—which is what the U.S. is seeking to do with its economic sanctions—would be a hedge against an up-and-coming Iranian oil empire. Israel, unhappy with this prospect, seeks to start a conflict.

And this is what I proposed Israel was doing to foment that conflict:

To push the U.S. into a confrontation with Iran is desirable, if not necessary, for the security of the Israeli state. The assassination if an Iranian scientist—any scientist—is the means to that end. That’s because Iran thinks the death of Roshan can be linked to information gathered by UN investigators (here):

“Iran says as the UN Resolution 1747, adopted against Tehran in March 2007, cited Abbasi’s name as a ‘nuclear scientist,’ the perpetrators were in a position to trace their victim.”

As such, Iran will be compelled to disallow future UN investigation for its scientists’ safety. Allowing further monitoring, for all Iran knows, will result in a meticulous terror operation against its scientists—Israel will merely search for scientists’ names in UN reports and target them for assassination. But if Iran denies UN observers’ access, as Israel hopes, the U.S. will be forced to intervene on the grounds of nuclear non-proliferation. Problem solved.

In a recent NBC report, “U.S. officials” laid blame, once and for all, on Israel—clearly wanting to have nothing to do with the methods of the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan or the reasoning behind it. This, I think (taken in tandem with initial U.S. reaction, including the impromptu cancelation of the “Austere Challenge 12” wargames with Israel) seals the deal on whodunit:

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describes what Iranian leaders believe is a close relationship between Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.

“The relation is very intricate and close,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, speaking of the MEK and Israel.  “They (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information.  And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”

Moreover, he said, the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, is training MEK members in Israel on the use of motorcycles and small bombs.

So I’d like to stress this once again: If there is anyone who wants a war, it’s not the U.S. and it’s not Iran—it’s Israel.

Written by M. James

February 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hedging against a new Iran

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Underlying the ramped-up rhetoric, military mobilization, and escalating espionage in Iran is a hidden economic war against Iran’s currency. The implication of this economic war is that the U.S. seeks to avoid military conflict with Iran. In fact, dollarizing Iran—which is what the U.S. is seeking to do with its economic sanctions—would be a hedge against an up-and-coming Iranian oil empire. Israel, unhappy with this prospect, seeks to start a conflict.

Iran’s nuclear program has received a lot of attention in the last few weeks. While this attention may accompany legitimate concerns—and this may be an appropriate time to voice such concerns—careful observers should be uneasy about the apparent convenience of focusing on the “Axis of Evil” at this time. With (1) an Iraq devoid of American police and (2) a stubborn Syrian regime that feels an increasing affinity toward Iran, Iran stands to gain a lot (see my previous post, “Why Syria?”). And if Iran stands to gain, then Saudi Arabia (and its oil hegemony), the United States (and its reliance on Saudi oil hegemony), and Israel (and its mere existence) have a lot to be afraid of.

The headlines of the past few weeks have, of course, demonstrated this fear. But there is one news item in particular that I’d like to point out, just as an example of the absurdity of the rhetoric. For some, it may be déjà vu, though it isn’t being reported that way:

Iran starts enriching uranium to 20 pct – IAEA

In summary: “The International Atomic Energy Agency officially confirmed that Iran has started enriching uranium to the 20-percent level…”

But this same headline can be traced back to at least February of 2010, almost two blissful years ago. Here’s one from May 17th, 2010:

Iran says will continue 20 percent enrichment

Notice the word “continue.” This is nothing new. Credibility is all but lost when old news becomes, when reprinted, a sign of “further escalation” (read: casus belli):

“This is a further escalation of their ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Public subterfuge.

Cold War
As ZeroHedge artfully phrases it (here): “The geopolitical foreplay is getting ridiculous. At this point it is quite obvious that virtually everyone involved in the US-Israel-Iran hate triangle is just itching for someone else to pull the trigger.” And reading about the overt espionage, public subterfuge, and military muscle-flexing going on between the US and Iran, it may very well seem that itchy trigger fingers abound.

But while there are, quite clearly, warmongers in our midst, I don’t think it’s quite fair to characterize the standoff between Iran and the United States so simply. That’s because neither side really wants a war. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M. James

January 19, 2012 at 2:03 am

Posted in News, Politics

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Aslan sütü

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Bearable served cold.

Turkey’s hate-it-or-love-it national drink, rakı, is going global.

Global alcohol giant Diageo, which owns Turkey’s Mey İçki, is preparing to globally distribute its local alcoholic drink rakı brand Yeni Rakı in January 2012.

Diageo’s European President Andrew Morgan said with Yeni Rakı they will compete in a brand new arena. The aniseed-based rakı is a new segment for Diageo. They plan to launch Yeni Rakı in Germany followed by the U.S., Russia and Turkey’s neighboring countries, reported Hürriyet.

I don’t see this catching on in the U.S.

Written by M. James

December 10, 2011 at 3:29 am

Posted in Culture, News, Turkey

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