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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Moral clarity goes down the tubes

I don't know about the rest of you, but I miss the moral clarity of the immediate post-9/11 period when George Bush said "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." He even meant it, although it took him until the following June to realize what it meant with respect to Israel. That's when he made his famous speech calling for 'different leadership' for the 'Palestinians' if they wanted a state reichlet. At this point, the Bush administration seems to have thrown in the towel on the war on terror, and the consequences are reverberating all over this region.

It's bad enough that Russia and China have been protecting Iran's nuclear program in the UN. Not only have they been protecting Iran from military action, but they have even been protecting it from any effective sanctions. A month ago, China Confidential reported that Russia and China regard sanctions against Iran as a 'slippery slope' on the road to armed intervention against Iran's nuclear program. Isn't it amazing what people will do for money? Yes, that's the motive here folks: Iran is a big trading partner for both Russia and China.

But in the Russians' case it has gone a bit further. As was widely reported yesterday, the Russians are selling Iran sophisticated anti-missile systems that are capable of repelling an Israeli or American air assault on the nuclear plants. DEBKAfile reported yesterday:
The first of 29 Tor-M1 systems in the $700m deal have been delivered to Iran by Moscow despite US opposition to their sale of a weapon widely regarded as the most advanced of its kind in the world. Some Iranian and Russian air defense experts say its full deployment at Iran’s nuclear installations will make them virtually invulnerable to American or Israeli attack in the foreseeable future. Therefore, no more than six months remain, until the Russian Tor-M1 systems are in place, for any attempt to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons industry.


The fact that officials in Moscow, albeit unidentified, announced the Tor-M1 missile’s delivery to Iran indicates the Russian president Vladimir Putin has decided to shrug off US objections, including a request put to him in person by President George W. Bush when they talked in Moscow and Hanoi earlier this month.

DEBKAfile adds some information about this super-missile: The first batteries to be delivered come ready with Iranian crews trained at Russian air defense corps facilities. The advantages of the Tor-M1 system are principally its ability to simultaneously destroy two targets traveling at up to 700km/h in any weather by day or night; its powerful, jamming-resistant radar with electronic beam control, and its vertically-launched missiles’ ability to maintain high speed and maneuverability throughout their operation.

According to military experts, the 3D pulse Doppler electronically beam-steered E/F-band surveillance radar feeds to a digital fire control computer range, azimuth, elevation and automatic threat evaluation data on up to 48 targets.

The 10 most dangerous targets are automatically tracked and prioritized for engagement. The maximum radar range is billed as 25 kilometers but may be more. On the lower right side of the tracking radar, which is located at the front of the turret, is an automatic TV tracking system with a range of 20 km that enables the system to work in a heavy ECM environment.
You have to wonder whether the Russians have noticed what's been going on in their own province of Chechneya for the last few years, and whether they appreciate the consequences of Iran exporting its 'Islamic revolution' around the world. What the heck is Putin thinking?

As to the Iranians themselves, they are becoming more meddlesome, waiting to see if someone will try to stop them. When no one does, they get worse. Two weeks ago, Iraq the Model reported on an Iranian-orchestrated kidnapping of Baghdadi's:
The mass abduction that shocked Baghdad yesterday was intended to be a clear message from Tehran-through its surrogates in Baghdad-to anyone who thinks productive dialogue with the Islamic republic over Iraq and Middle East peace is a possible option.

The operation was a show of victory and it was so smooth and perfect that neither the MNF nor the Iraqi military could do a thing to stop it.

And today the show continues with the assassination of the colonel who's in charge of internal investigation in the department of national police, also known as the police commandos, one day after an investigation was ordered.


Iran now considers itself the victor and it will not negotiate for peace but instead will try to impose conditions to accept America's surrender.
From the sounds of yesterday's report on the results of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, Iran is already doing well in trying to impose conditions on America's 'surrender.'

Today, there's another nail hammered by Iran into the coffin of peace for non-Shiites in the Middle East: The New York Times is reporting this morning that Iran is helping the Mahdi army headed by Moktada al-Sadr in Iraq. And they're doing it through Hezbullah:
The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.

The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity under rules set by his agency, and discussed Iran’s role in response to questions from a reporter.
Now the Times notes that this could help those in the Bush administration who don't want to 'engage' Iran and Syria - and that could well be true. But until and unless the US is willing to militarily engage Iran, that's just a recipe for continuing standoff and casualties in Iraq.

What does this all have to do with Israel? Plenty. Israel is being lined up to be the sacrificial lamb for American policy in Iraq. The return of Brent Scowcroft to a position of power is one indication of that. You see Scowcroft is the behind-the-scenes mover of the Iraq Study Group, and the Iraq Study Group is really about sacrificing Israel to get the US out of its mess in Iraq:
DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed on November 24 that the brain behind this new strategy belongs to Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to three Republican presidents, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George Bush Sr. He is emerging as the live wire behind the latest US foreign policy departures and the pivotal figure behind the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group.

This panel - which submits its final report to Congress on Dec. 10 - recommends an international conference on Iraq attended by leaders from Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and the main Muslim nations. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington sources, such a conference would spend more time on the Palestinian-Israeli issue than on Iraq. The group’s leaders predict that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other Arab participants will demand “progress on the Israel-Palestinian track” before letting the conference get down to brass tacks on Iraq.

To lay the groundwork, therefore, Washington will have to give the international community free rein to squeeze Israel for far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians - and not only the Palestinians, if Syria is to be engaged.

This would require a diametric reversal of George Bush’s previous warm attitude towards “our friend and ally” Israel, possibly even a reversion to the iciness directed against the Shamir government in the early 1990s by the elder Bush, whom James Baker served as secretary of state and Scowcroft as national security adviser.

Earlier this month, Scowcroft, as chairman of the American-Turkish Friendship League, visited Ankara for an appeal to Turkish leaders to persuade the Syrian ruler Bashar Asad to cooperate on Iraq.

His mindset was revealed in an interview he gave the Turkish Daily News of Nov. 9, 2006:

I think we need to embed Iraq in a larger regional solution, and that to me goes back to the Palestinian issue. I think this would put us back on the offensive psychologically and even make Iraq easier to manage.”

Scowcroft then linked this viewpoint to the notion of an international conference, saying: “But I don’t think this will start with some kind of a conference because everyone will come with their preset speeches and everything will freeze again. But I think that there will be some quiet consultations in the region. I believe the Arab states in the region are eager for such a conversation. Israel may not be eager, but Israel is in bad shape right now.”

Scowcroft was therefore the first American strategic thinker to say out loud what DEBKAfile has been reporting since early August, that George Bush and his key advisers have diagnosed Israel as coming out of the Lebanon War weakened and with its strategic situation impaired.

The cards in Washington are therefore stacked against Israel these days. An unfortunate combination has emerged of a president who regards the Jewish state as strategically weak and a brace of key US advisers on the administration’s new Iraqi policy who are drawn from the most anti-Israeli US administrations of the past. The Olmert government, however forthcoming, must brace itself for a period of intensive American pressure to cede ever more assets to curry favor with the Arabs.
And we all know that Olmert is all too ready to give the country away - even without American encouragement.

Maybe that's why there doesn't seem to be any urgency to deal with Iran: the policymakers think Israel's fate will be sealed long before Iran's nuclear program goes on line.

By the way, read the entire article from this morning's Times. What the Mahdi army has been taught is not pretty.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


I first noticed this troubling trend the day when Gates was nominated to be Secretary of Defense. While the Democrats cheered, I weeped.

Rumsfeld out, Iran-Contra In

Mr. gates believes the US should have comprehensive talks with Iran

Things are looking bad for Israel.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Actually, the one thing I have to note is that however bad it is for Israel at the moment, it is not hopeless.

I believe it has reached the level of hopelessness in Iraq, and near hopelessness in Lebanon. (for the good, decent, and humane people, I mean)


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