Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 06, 2009

Obama Prepares Iran Attack

There are lots of reasons to be concerned over Obama's appointments. Here comes the worst one.

According to the well informed Nelson Report (via Jim Lobe), Dennis Ross will be Special Envoy under Hillary Clinton in charge of negotiations with Iran.

Dennis Ross worked under Paul Wolfowitz during the Reagan administration and later in George H.W. Bush's administration before becoming "Israel's lawyer" in the Clinton administration.

Ross recently signed on to an AEI written report on Iran which recommends (pdf) tougher sanctions and very restricted, time-limited negotiations with Iran. If these fail, and be sure that Ross will take care to let any negotiations fail, it recommends an all-out blockade of Iran and military strikes.

Additionally Richard Haass will become Special Envoy for Israel-Arab affairs. He recently published a report with AIPAC and WINEP tool Martin Indyk which also recommends a blockade of Iran and, after that act of war fails, a military attack.

For a short while there was some hope that the neocon trend was out of business. With these appointments the same ideology, only under a different banner, is back right where it can make the most damage.

Change I can't believe in.

Posted by b on January 6, 2009 at 13:49 UTC | Permalink


And to add to the worries, there is this gem as well in Jim Lobe's site:
Nelson reports that Richard Holbrooke will become and Special Envoy for India and Pakistan.
Peace we can believe in?

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jan 6 2009 14:09 utc | 1

It is change. We will now have the Democrats as apologists and blind supporters of Obama the way we had the Republicans as apologists and blind supporters of Bush. Now that's change I can believe in!

I see it already, the excuses made for Obama not even saying something at least about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He had no problem perking up his opinions on the Mumbai attacks and other international matters in the past month. I think between him and Hillary, they are going to be more pro-Israel than Netanyahu.

Peace we can believe in?, Clueless Joe? Nope. At the very best, more of same. At the worst, well, even worse. I just sit here sometimes shaking my head and wondering: What the hell are they thinking?!!!

Posted by: Ensley | Jan 6 2009 14:32 utc | 2

The conditions that prevented an attack so far really haven't changed. Granted, oil is much cheaper, but its taking a world wide depression to keep it cheap. Now prices of 75-100$/barrel may be enough to seriously hurt. Iraq is quiet at least partially due to Iranian largess.

The Ross appointment is not a sign of war, but a sign of continued antagonism. There will be no Grand Bargain. Sanctions will continue and they will try to intensify them. I don't think Israel can get the war it wants. Its fall back position is to ensure there will be no U.S.-Iran reconciliation or detente.

Dan can explain it much better than I can. Hope he shows up.

Posted by: Lysander | Jan 6 2009 14:44 utc | 3

According to Robert Kaplan, that war has already started.

Israeil want to force trap Obama into their corner even before he walks into WH.Aim is to force Obama to deal with Iran, Hezollah, Hamas together. They would have prefered a Zionist in charge of CIA , but that should not be a bif problem
"I believe that Feinstien although a liberal senator has dual loyalties between the state of Israel and America. Since Israel would like nothing more then a war between the US and Iran she is tempted by some big money donors to find away for this war to occur. We need to be mindful of the fact that some of Feinstien's contributors would love to see a war between Iran and the US to occur. Again, I cannot comprehend why she is upset about having an intelligence chief that would provide a clean break from the last 8 yrs of fraud" from Cheneyindicted

Posted by: | Jan 6 2009 15:15 utc | 4




Objective realities trump personnel - Ross is in no better position to get a war with Iran on - for what, exactly? - than his predecessors.

Whilst I don't imagine that he's going to inject any fresh thinking or act constructively with regards to Iran, I would note that if he is going to be designated as special envoy to Iran, the simple creation of such an office/position is actually a step forward.

The underlying motivation for this is, natch, not to do with Iran-US relations per se - it's the belated recognition that, whilst the US has 150k troops in Iraq, Iran has political influence there, and that the momentum towards an entente cordiale between Baghdad and Teheran is a permanent fixture in the politics of the region. Given this context, and the banker certainty that US "power" in Iraq will diminish as its troops withdraw over the next few years, the US (whilst Iranian influence is durable) irrespective of personnel/administration/party will have to have an open track with Iran to help iron out the kinks. Whether this track has branches that lead to the creeping normalisation of relations is a secondary issue.

It's always worth recalling that Iran is a bipartisan trauma for the US polity - they "killed" Carter politically and came close to "killing" a wide swathe of the Reagan-era republican establishment. Given that the US, institutionally, has an inordinate fondness for holding on to grudges long beyond any reasonable sell-by date, this state of internal paralysis can continue for an awful long time to come.

Posted by: dan | Jan 6 2009 15:38 utc | 5


Politicians will say whatever is required to sell the public on an idea. All feinstien is doing is creating an illusion of conflict to make we the people feel better about the choice.

People need to wake-up to the fact politics is not happening in the realtime, it has been thought-out and planned for a long-time in advance, with the public figures practicing their lines at think-tank meeting all we see is just the opening night of the show...


Posted by: David | Jan 6 2009 15:39 utc | 6

I am going to make a reflection on the ME problems from a religious point of view.
The state of Israel has been created for Jews, we all know that. One of the objections at making Palestinians citizens of Israel is that by that fact the state of Israel would lose its Jewish character. The Jewish character is based on the Bible or viceversa but the effect is the same. Jews believe in the depth or their being that they are a chosen people and that God has promised them the land of Canaan where they are now already but also the dominion from the River to the ends of the earth. That was one of the readings today at mass. On Sunday it was a reading announcing for Jews that the wealth of nations would flow to Zion, in other readings the justice of God spreads out of Zion and so on. For this to be true it is not necessary that anyone other than Jews believe it. It is enough that Jews act as if it were true. This would explain the relentless desire to exist by expanding. Besides there is the ending of Psalm 149 where the People of God see as their highest duty to use double edge swords to punish peoples and put their nobles in chains.

On the other hand the religious mind knows that God has promised to recreate Israel Himself, read Ezekiel. But the USA has undertaken to be the agent for an activity that God has arrogated to Himself. God may be upset with this blasphemous activity of the USA and the calamities that are being visited upon us today may be the particular way God has of punishing our arrogance.
All this is probably very obscure, it should be blamed on my lack of litterary skill but if you reflect upon these matters you will see that they are not demential.

Posted by: jlcg | Jan 6 2009 15:42 utc | 7

I was wondering where Holbooke and Haas would show up.

Perhaps they'll even find a spot for Albright. And if they run out of live bodies from Clinton's time, they can begin digging up all the dead ones.

I basically agree with dan, with the admonition that it is a much longer game, this control of Central Asia thing, and allies can be become enemies and visa versa very quickly as the situation demands. Lots of twists and turns to come. But we are more likely to see Soros coups rather than hot wars for the next year, I believe, though of course I could be wrong.

In somewhat related news:

SYRIAN BOURSE SET TO LAUNCH: The Damascus Securities Exchange has announced that it will start trading operations in securities on Feb 23. The bourse is expected to start with two or three trading sessions each week and with a limited number of listed companies.

I don't know enough to comment cogently about this, but I imagine this could represent a movement towards allowing limited foreign capital penetration of a closed economy, temporarily staving off military threats. Similar to Cuba allowing EU investment.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 6 2009 15:53 utc | 8

it means nothing. an envoy does not frame policy.

Posted by: outsider | Jan 6 2009 15:54 utc | 9

Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of awesome mystical power. We know this because they manage to be invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them.
~ Steve Eley

Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?
~ Arthur C. Clarke

Everyone likes to say Hitler did this and Hitler did that. But the truth is Hitler did very little. He was a world class asshole, but the evil actually done, from the death camps to World War Two, was all done by citizens who were afraid to question if what they were told by their government was the truth or not, and who because they did not want to admit to themselves that they were afraid to question the government, refused to see the truth behind the Reichstag Fire, refused to see the invasion by Poland was a staged fake, and followed Hitler into national disaster.
~ Michael Rivero

Each nation knowing it has the only true religion and the only sane system of government, each despising all the others, each an ass and not suspecting it.
~ Mark Twain

Some quotes from

I thought jlcg would like...


Posted by: David | Jan 6 2009 16:02 utc | 10

I don't know why the hell America spent beaucoups of time and money conducting a presidential election between Obama and McCain when there never was, nor ever will be, a dime's worth of difference between these two so-called "opposing" candidates!

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 6 2009 16:15 utc | 11


Elections stimulate the economy.


Posted by: David | Jan 6 2009 16:33 utc | 12


With all due respect, I believe that your Church is treading the fine line between ignorance and anti-semitism. Let me explain.

First off, there is a huge difference between Judaism and Zionism.

Judaism is a religious faith. There are many sects, a number of which have beliefs which contradict with other sects. It is virtually impossible to make blanket statements about what Jews believe, as for any specific belief one could probably find a sect which doesn't believe in it. (To a lesser extent, the same could be said about Catholicism, which runs the gamut of beliefs from Papal Infallibility to Liberation Theology and the Catholic Worker.)

Zionism is a political movement to control the land of Israel. Up until the Holocaust, most Jews and Rabbis were not pro-Zionist; the great trauma changed that. There are still significant, and growing, percentages of Jews who are either not Zionists, or are completely apathetic to the issue.

Here is a website which explains this: Jews Not Zionists

This page explains Jewish resistance to Zionism.

It is important that people distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, as they are not the same.

To make matters even more complicated, there are sects such as Reconstructionist Judaism (which I am most closely aligned with) which see Judaism in almost anthropological terms as no more, no less, than an progressively evolving civilization. (I, like Gandhi's famous quote, am having a problem with the civilization part these days.) These Jews understand that the Old Testament was written by man -- principally two writers, but with significant additions by five or so more others. There are also Jewish atheists, and Jews who do not follow the Old Testament but include it as part of their tradition.

Now to your quotes:

"Jews believe in the depth or their being that they are a chosen people and that God has promised them the land of Canaan where they are now already but also the dominion from the River to the ends of the earth."

The belief in being God's chosen people can be interpreted in many ways. Many Jews believe that they are chosen as part of a two-way covenant to follow the laws of Old Testament. No more, no less. Not that they are in any way better than other people. Likewise, many Jews belive that, if they are meant to get that land, it will come from God when the time is right, not from Israeli military incursions. And many Jews believe nothing of the sort of either of these two statements.

On Sunday it was a reading announcing for Jews that the wealth of nations would flow to Zion, in other readings the justice of God spreads out of Zion and so on. For this to be true it is not necessary that anyone other than Jews believe it. It is enough that Jews act as if it were true. This would explain the relentless desire to exist by expanding.

The continued expansion of Israel is a political program undertaken by a largely secular ruling class descended from the secular Zionists who founded the State. The religious who do believe this are largely cannon fodder, or sanctimonious window dressing.

I have never heard any emphasis on these lines in religious services. It sounds pretty new-agey, like something out of the mouth of a cult-Kabbalist like Madonna.

Historically, there really was, and still is, a very small wealthy financier class created by European injunctions in the middle ages. Contraposed to this, the vast majority of Jews, mainly gathered in Eastern Europe, were very poor and highly discriminated against. Books like "The Death of an American Jewish Community" tell modern versions of the tale of the betrayal of the working class by the financiers of their own faith: all very similar to the financial changes occurring today.

As we know on this blog, wealth can only concentrate by the organized application of structural violence to others. Clearly, most Jews are instinctively opposed to this, even if they do not understand the processes by which this transpires as wel as we do.

Besides there is the ending of Psalm 149 where the People of God see as their highest duty to use double edge swords to punish peoples and put their nobles in chains.
Sounds like Imperialism. Easy to see in modern days. No, all Jews are not Imperialists.

The punishment theme runs through all religions. As an adherent of Alice Miller, I am greatly opposed to such punishment.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 6 2009 16:59 utc | 13

@cythia #11:

Why do we vote? We vote so that we think we are free. Apparently it seems to work.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 6 2009 17:20 utc | 14

Speaking of Arthur C. Clarke, let's hope the neocons don't gain backing from creationists, otherwise Clarke's fictionalized tale entitled "The Hammer of God" may indeed turn into a piece of nonfiction. But instead of creationist-backed neocons sabotaging a scientific mission to destroy an asteroid bound for Earth, claiming that death by this asteroid is God's Will, they'll be sabotaging a secular mission to prevent a full-blown war from erupting in the Middle East, claiming that death by this war is God's Will.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 6 2009 17:59 utc | 15

If quoting a thousand year old book of fairy tales as justification for wanton slaughter isn't demented, I'd like to know what is.

Posted by: Jim T. | Jan 7 2009 12:24 utc | 16

I think your missing the irony, JT.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 7 2009 14:14 utc | 17

JT is right,

I think he's saying that anyone who is using their form of a bible to justify killing is a sick, anti-social, psychopathic freak of the worst sort.

Here is a question; Imagine that the world is able to bring the instigators of all the institutional violence since 9/11 to trial and a guilty verdict is handed down. What should we do with the bastards?

I like the idea of re-opening alcatraz island or maybe someplace colder and even more isolated as a permanent settlement for these freaks...

One avenue of justice I wouldn't support is execution...State-sponsored executions are a bad idea and is part of what has brought us to this current violent future. I don't have a problem with a crazed crowd, full of blood-lust and righteous anger, busting down the doors of the jail to yank a bastard out to string-up. Right or wrong, it is a momentary lapse of reason that can be examined impartially later and justice served.

But when the state does it, methodically and with a "legal" process, it opens up a can of worms that won't catch fish.

The argument I'd heard that made me realize the death penalty is an awful rule of law is that the state shouldn't be allowed to have the power of death over it's citizens. This gives the state more power than the citizens it is supposed to protect. Once the state has been shown to "legally" be able to decide who lives and who dies, it then becomes a simple process to then define what infraction will receive warrant death.

It isn't too hard for a state to justify mass-murdering, like israel is doing in Gaza, once the law is on the books.


Posted by: David | Jan 7 2009 14:59 utc | 18

Sorry if I can't appreciate any irony, but I'm not good at such implications. Religion is the oldest money-making scam in the history of mankind. Someone who uses religion to justify ANY killing, state-sponsored or otherwise, is a lunatic and needs to be locked up in a cage for a long time. On the other hand the wrath of a grieving father or husband or wife or brother is pretty easy to understand. So I'm in total agreement with Dave, but not the author of #7.

I think it was Thomas Jefferson (but I may be mistaken) who asked, "Who is more moral, the religious man who does what is right because he fears God's judgment or the atheist who does what is right because it's the right thing to do?"

Posted by: Jim T. | Jan 7 2009 17:10 utc | 19

An even wider role for Dennis Ross.

Ross will be a sort of Middle East “czar”. Here it is, as quoted in the Report: ...

Posted by: b | Jan 8 2009 9:14 utc | 20

Also :: From the FT, 8 jan 09:


Mr Ross, who previously served as the US envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is set to take a wider role as Hillary Clinton’s top adviser for the Middle East as a whole (...) Ross had “accepted an invitation to join the Obama administration as ambassador-at-large” in a job “designed especially for him,” covering a range of issues from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Iran. (...)

-- Of Note -->

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a news organisation, reported this week that Mr Ross told a meeting at a synagogue this week that if Hamas had ”the capability to rearm” the current conflict would serve as “just a prelude” to the next round.

The agency reported that Mr Ross said achieving an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would now be harder than the previous attempt with which he was involved in 2000, partly because the Israeli public did not believe such an agreement was possible.

However people close to Mr Ross maintain he was volunteering more of a description of Israeli thinking than an analysis of the US position on the conflict.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jan 8 2009 11:24 utc | 21

Asked Arjun to Lord Krishna, "Oh Lord, you could have brought peace to the land, but instead you led me into battle against my brothers. Why?" To this, Krishna responded, "I did not lead you into anything. I created a condition into which both sides would ultimately annihilate each other without the blame going on me. I spoke my words, you heard, but the decision to go to war was your's alone. Thus, only you are responsible."

Posted by: Maneesh | Jan 20 2009 18:32 utc | 22

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