Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Daily Times - Iran eyes Shia victory in Iraq, departure of US troops

Daily Times - Site Edition: "Iran eyes Shia victory in Iraq, departure of US troops

* Arab governments concerned about Shia emancipation
* Diplomat says Americans are looking for an exit strategy

TEHRAN: Iran’s clerical regime has good reason to look forward to Sunday’s Iraqi elections, with fellow Shias across the border expected to cruise to a comfortable win and the polls seen as a key step towards the departure of US forces.

As such, the landmark vote could represent the capping of a foreign policy success for the Islamic republic - even if Iraq’s Shias are far from likely to create a mirror image of the theocracy in Tehran. Since the US invasion, during which Iran declared its “active neutrality”, arch-enemy Saddam Hussein has been ousted at Washington’s expense and at the same time US troops have been sufficiently bogged down to think twice about attacking Iran.

Furthermore, sympathetic Shia Muslims are on the rise and for the first time in decades, Iran looks set to be on speaking terms with authorities in Baghdad. “One has to acknowledge that Iran has played it pretty well in Iraq,” said a senior Tehran-based Western diplomat. “It’s been a cynical but successful operation: let the Americans do the job of ousting Saddam and let them suffer for it.”

“Now Shias close to Iran are likely to win the elections, Arab governments in the region will have a headache and the Americans are looking for an exit strategy,” commented the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Widely tipped as a winner in the polls is Shia political leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and who tops the Unified Iraqi Alliance, a 228-strong candidate list of Shiite parties running in the polls.

Hakim spent two decades in exile in Iran, where he built up SCIRI’s armed wing, the Badr Brigade. While most diplomats and analysts here believe that the popularly-held view that he is a “stooge” of Iran is grossly oversimplified, Hakim does have close contacts with the very highest levels of the Iranian regime. The Unified Iraqi Alliance also includes the Dawa group as well as the Iraqi National Congress of slick secularist Ahmad Chalabi.

Dawa’s head, the current vice president Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was also exiled in Iran, while Chalabi - once a Pentagon and CIA favourite - has since drifted closer to Tehran since falling out of favour with Washington. Iran has also had close dealings with the two main Kurdish groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Massoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal Talabani.

With the Shias poised to reverse decades of rule by Iraq’s Sunni minority, Iran’s main fear was clearly voiced last week by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Two great dangers threaten the Iraqi elections, starting with fraud, at which the Americans are very good,” Khamenei said in hajj address. “The second threat... is a coup and the rise of another dictator,” he added, calling for Iraqis “to remain vigilant in these historic hours”.

Iraq’s Arab Sunnis, and even Arab governments, have been left crying foul.

Interim Iraqi defence minister Hazem Shaalan has described Iran as financing insurgents and being “the most dangerous enemy of Iraq and all Arabs”. According to Shaalan, the Shiite electoral list is simply “Iranian”.

And Interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar has also accused Iran of spending “a lot of money” in Iraq ahead of the polls, while Jordan’s King Abdullah II has accused Shia Iran of trying to influence the polls in a bid to create a Shia-dominated “crescent” extending from Iraq to Lebanon.

Iran has squarely dismissed the allegations, while at the same time pointing out its influence.

“Iran does not have a single soldier in Iraq, and if Iran has a natural influence in whatever country, such an influence does not mean interference,” Iranian Foriegn Minister Kamal Kharazi has said. As for the complaints of Shaalan, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi merely laughed that he is “angry because he is one of the Iraqi officials who will not be staying in power after the elections.” afp"

POLITICS-U.S.: The Neocons and the Holocaust

POLITICS-U.S.: From Holocaust to Hyperpower: "POLITICS-U.S.:
From Holocaust to Hyperpower
Analysis by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (IPS) - The importance of this week's recognition by the United Nations of the Nazi Holocaust lies as much in its relevance to today's international realities as it does to the historical significance of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet forces 60 years ago Thursday.

As noted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other speakers at the memorial's inaugural session Monday, genocide -- as in Rwanda in 1994 and possibly in Darfur, Sudan, today -- has not been confined to the systematic annihilation of some six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Gypsies in Europe.

Of course, the modern-day international human rights movement owes its birth and moral force in many ways to the universal revulsion that followed the discovery of the concentration camps.

But the Nazi Holocaust also lies at the core of the neo-conservative worldview that has animated and given coherence to much of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy that itself is changing the world, albeit not necessarily in ways that either Annan or the international human rights movement would approve.

"For those of us who are involved in foreign and defence policy today, my generation, the defining moment of our history was certainly the Holocaust," former Defence Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle, a central figure in the U.S. neo-conservative network, told BBC as U.S. forces drove toward Iraq two years ago.

To Perle, who like many neo-conservatives is Jewish (although most U.S. Jews are not neo-conservatives), the Holocaust is irrefutable proof of the existence of "evil" -- a word that recurs frequently in their discourse. World events are viewed as a perpetual battle between, as one of their heroes Reinhold Niebuhr called it, "the children of light" and the "children of darkness".

In the last century, "totalitarianism", whether of the right or the left, was the evil. But, as noted by the highest-ranking neo-conservative in the Bush administration in a talk late last year, evil never dies and now takes the form of what some call "Islamo-fascism".

"The thing that hasn't changed, unfortunately, is that there still is evil in the world," said Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. "It is a fascist totalitarianism not fundamentally different from the way it was in the last century -- no more God-fearing than (the Nazis and communists) were."

Significantly, the White House chose Wolfowitz -- rather than a top State Department official -- to speak as the U.S. representative to the Holocaust ceremony at the United Nations Monday.

Wolfowitz, a close friend and colleague of Perle since 1969 when they both arrived in Washington, did not mention that all members of the family his father left behind in his native Poland in the 1920s died in the Holocaust.

A similar fate befell the family of the father of the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas Feith. Dalck Feith, a leading Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist, managed to survive the Holocaust, which, however, took the lives of both his parents, four sisters, and three brothers.

These men, key players in the Bush administration's foreign policy for the last three and a half years, obviously do not see the Holocaust -- and the notion of "evil" in international affairs -- as a relic of history.

For neo-conservatives, the fact that the United States played a decisive role in the defeat of the evils of Nazism, fascism, and communism in the last century offers compelling, if not conclusive, evidence of its redemptive, beneficial, and "exceptional" mission in world affairs. It justifies the idea that its freedom to act should not be constrained by multilateral organisations or even international law if evil is abroad.

International politics, then -- conceived as a battleground between good and evil --presents a moral challenge for neo-conservatives that transcends simple legalisms, as expressed on the eve of the war with Iraq by commentator Charles Krauthammer.

"By what moral calculus does an American intervention to liberate 25 million people forfeit moral legitimacy because it lacks the blessing of the butchers of Tienanmen Square or the cynics of the Quai d'Orsay?" he asked in reference to the argument by some that Washington should not go to war with the U.N. Security Council's approval.

For neo-conservatives, the 1930's -- the period that, in their view, created the conditions for the Holocaust to take place -- offer the major lessons for preventing such a catastrophe in the future.

First, the rise of Adolf Hitler, in their view, within Germany resulted from the moral weakness of the Weimar Republic, particularly the failure of democrats and liberals to defend it against extremists of the right and left.

Their humanism, relativism, and secularism gave rise to a nihilistic spirit in the general population that ultimately made it receptive to the Nazi appeal. Thus, while neo-conservatives extol liberal democratic ideals in their rhetoric, they spend much of their time trying to discredit liberals.

A similar phenomenon -- albeit on the international level -- also helped bring on the Holocaust. Like liberals in Weimar, the "liberal democracies" of pre-war France and Britain failed to confront German re-armament and expansion and instead pursued a policy of "appeasement".

This is a serious charge in the neo-conservative lexicon and one wielded without fail by neo-conservatives whenever any political figure or foreign ally suggests compromise or negotiations with perceived enemies, be they Nicaragua in the 1980s, Serbia in the 1990s, or Iran or South Korea today.

A corollary of the "appeasement" lesson is the necessity at all times of having overwhelming military power against any possible challenger. While "soft power", such as economic pressure, cultural influence, etc., has its uses, ultimately, according to the neo-conservatives, it's "hard power" that counts in international affairs.

Indeed, just as the failure of France and Britain to arm quickly in the face of Hitler's challenges actually emboldened him to become more aggressive, "the main threat arises not from the United States' being too powerful, but from its being perceived abroad as weak...", wrote Frank Gaffney, another Perle chum who heads the Centre for Security Policy (CSP) here.

The final lesson derived from the 1930s is the overriding necessity of keeping the United States, which is seen as the greatest force for good in international relations, engaged with the rest of the world and preventing it from taking what yet another Perle colleague and DPB member, Kenneth Adelman, calls the "default option" of U.S. foreign policy: isolationism. Washington's disengagement from Europe in the 1930s, in their view, also contributed to the rise of Hitler.

For neo-conservatives, the most effective way to avoid a return to isolationism is to identify enemies that may pose future threats against which public opinion can be rallied, as they tried to do in early 2001 against China, when a U.S. spy plane was forced down and its crew held on Hainan Island, and then against "Islamofascism" after 9/11.

A former neo-conservative, the late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once cited this tendency as the reason he broke with the movement in the 1980s.

"They wished for a military posture approaching mobilisation; they would create or invent whatever crises were required to bring this about", he wrote.

And thus Perle, in his 2004 book, "An End to Evil", pulled no punches in laying out the stakes in the current "war on terrorism".

"For us, terrorism remains the great evil of our time, and the war against this evil, our generation's great cause. ... There is no middle way for Americans: it is victory or holocaust". (END/2005)"

JTA NEWS - Damage Control: Malcolm Hoenlein Spins the AIPAC Spy Scandal

JTA NEWS: "Whatever is behind AIPAC probe,
investigation raises specters of past
By Malcolm Hoenlein

NEW YORK, Jan. 4 (JTA) — There have been hundreds, even thousands, of articles in the American press regarding an FBI investigation involving the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
While the reports imply or assert various charges, none in fact has been lodged, despite an investigation that has lasted more than a year. While information has dribbled out, it’s still hard to discern exactly what wrong allegedly has been committed that would justify such a highly publicized case.

Leaders and members of the Jewish community are confident that there is no substance to the allegations, yet their level of concern is increasing. Why?

To fully understand the reaction and emotions evoked we would need to engage in a lengthy sociological, historical and even psychological analysis of the American Jewish community.

I think it’s safe to say that American Jews are among the most patriotic and loyal of American citizens. Certainly this is true of those who are the targets of this investigation.

As a community we respect the authority of government and support the rule of law. But historical realities have loaded on us a lot of baggage so that when a Jew is charged, particularly in such sensitive areas, it is seen as a communal, not just a personal, matter.

When there are doubts about the motivation behind such actions, it raises other specters that have dark roots in our past. In recent months there have been repeated stories about the “neocons” — often a code word for Jews — or widespread canards placing the onus on Jews for everything from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to the war in Iraq.

The implicit references to “dual loyalty” cannot be overlooked, especially when reliable studies show that a significant percentage of Americans still believe this baseless and bigoted idea.

American Jews care about Israel and advocate proudly in support of the special U.S.-Israel relationship. So do many other Americans with historical or ethnic ties to other homelands overseas.

The effectiveness of that Jewish advocacy has raised resentment, jealousy and wild mythologies. These are among the factors that set the context for the reaction to the AIPAC investigation.

There are many questions as to why, after such a long period, there have only been selected leaks, and why — after AIPAC cooperated fully — it was necessary for seven FBI agents to stage a raid for information that was voluntarily offered, with CNN waiting at the door as they departed.

In fact, the root of the concern harks back to Leslie Stahl’s original, breathless report on CBS’ nationwide broadcast on Aug. 27, 2004, a Friday night.

That initial account asserted that espionage was involved and that a Pentagon “mole” was working with AIPAC. The CBS Web site carried a headline, “The FBI Believes It Has ‘Solid’ Evidence That The Suspected Mole Supplied Israel With Classified Materials That Included Secret White House Policies And Deliberations On Iran.”

In the following days the story kept changing — to the alleged transfer of secret documents, to the mishandling of classified information, to ever lesser charges. Some immediately likened it to the Pollard affair, while others saw it as part of the administration’s internal turf battles.

There were many questions regarding CBS’ behavior, the timing of the release — three days before the Republican Convention — and the lead investigator’s earlier dealings with Jewish employees at the CIA.

There were no official statements from administration sources. Some members of Congress shied away from comment, while many called for investigations of the probe.

Jewish organizations, confident of AIPAC’s assurances that there was no substance to the charges, rallied to its support. So did members of AIPAC, in public and private ways.

They were bolstered by the appearances of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at a major AIPAC event in October, as well as the revelation that President Bush chose to address AIPAC’s annual conference a few months earlier, despite the investigation that was already underway.

But damage was done, and the Pat Buchanans of the world rushed to take advantage of it. Buchanan said on a national television show, “We need to investigate whether there is a nest of Pollardites in the Pentagon who have been transmitting American secrets through AIPAC, the Israel lobby, over to…the Israel Embassy, to be transferred to” Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

He went on to refer to reports about people in the office of Douglas Feith, an undersecretary of defense.

These comments were repudiated by one of Buchanan’s fellow panelists, former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich. But another panelist, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chose not to respond even when asked by the program’s host.

While speculation continues about the true motivations behind the investigation — whether it’s an attempt to take advantage of a sting operation to bring AIPAC down or force it to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or merely is the result of bungled effort — it clearly has crossed the line of the acceptable.

The latest revelations by investigative journalist Edwin Black and others suggest that agents took advantage of a scared, lower-level, non-Jewish Defense Department employee to set up AIPAC and others, including former Pentagon official Richard Perle and CBS News producer Adam Ciralsky.

The case already has taken a toll. Jews working in government have told of the pressure they feel and of unpleasant experiences. Those who seek to spread venomous anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views have found temporary camouflage. AIPAC has been forced to divert resources and time from its ongoing work — and all before a single charge has been brought.

We do not want to cover up; if there was wrongdoing, let it be exposed. We are confident that there was none, and that the allegations will prove false.

We want to see a conclusion to this case and not see it “hang out there” as did “Agent X,” the “mole” and other past charges against Israel, which were without foundation but were never repudiated. Periodically they re-emerge from the mouths and pens of the haters.

Neither AIPAC nor the Jewish community will be cowed into silence or in any way lessen our commitment to working on behalf of the interests of the United States and its democratic ally, Israel.

The American people identify with Israel based on common values and world views, and no fabricated charges or allegations can undermine these fundamental bonds or commitments.

I hope that the vindication — and perhaps the apology — will be as visible as the charges. But past experience shows that’s unlikely.

(Malcolm Hoenlein is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. A shorter version of this article appeared in Ha’aretz.)"

Top Pentagon Policy Aide To Quit "[Feith was] getting a reputation around here as the dumbest (expletive) guy on the planet."

"Top Pentagon Policy Aide To Quit

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2005
"[Feith was] getting a reputation around here as the dumbest (expletive) guy on the planet."
Army Gen. Tommy Franks, in his autobiography, "American Soldier"

(AP) Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top policy adviser said Wednesday he has informed Rumsfeld that he will leave his Pentagon position sometime this summer.

Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy and a driving force behind the Bush administration's strategy for fighting the global war on terror, said in an interview that he decided it was time he devoted more time to his family. He has four children.

"I informed the secretary that I plan to leave in the summer," he said.

He offered no specific resignation date and stressed that he was leaving on his own terms.

Feith would be the highest-ranking Pentagon official to leave the administration. The No. 2 official, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, said recently he plans to remain.

Rumsfeld told reporters on Capitol Hill that he had wanted Feith to stay longer and is sorry to lose him.

"I'm hopeful he will stay until we are able to find an appropriate successor," Rumsfeld said. In a brief written statement issued later, Rumsfeld called Feith creative, well-organized and energetic.

"He has earned the respect of civilian and military leaders across the government," Rumsfeld wrote.

Feith, 51, began working with Rumsfeld in March 2001 and was confirmed by the Senate four months later. As Rumsfeld's top policy adviser he manages an organization of about 1,500 people and represents the Pentagon in interagency forums where national security policy is made.

Feith has stirred considerable controversy during his four years at the Pentagon. He oversaw the Office of Special Plans, which critics said fed policy-makers uncorroborated prewar intelligence on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, especially involving purported ties with the al Qaeda terror network.

Army Gen. Tommy Franks, the retired commander of U.S. Central Command, raised eyebrows in Washington when he took a verbal shot at Feith in his autobiography, "American Soldier." Franks, who wrote the war plans for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, wrote that Feith was "getting a reputation around here as the dumbest (expletive) guy on the planet."

Franks wrote that while Feith, a lawyer schooled at Harvard and Georgetown, had academic credentials and was personally likable, he posed "off-the-wall questions without relevance to problems."

Larry Di Rita, the chief spokesman for Rumsfeld, said Wednesday that Feith is respected by military commanders. He noted that after Feith made a policy presentation Wednesday to a group of senior commanders, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, delivered a glowing tribute to Feith and thanked him for his contributions over the past four years.

In the AP interview, Feith said he was not sure what he will do after leaving the Pentagon. He said he intends to remain in Washington, where he has lived since the 1970s. He said he was especially proud of his contributions to improving the relationship between the Pentagon's civilian policy-makers, the combat commanders and the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Many people have said it is now better than it has ever been," Feith said.

One of the senior officers with whom Feith has worked most closely over the past two years is Army Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, director of strategic policy and plans for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a telephone interview Wednesday evening, Sharp said Feith insisted on a new, more effective approach to developing policy options for Rumsfeld and Myers. Rather than have the civilian and military staffs work separately on issues, they have closely coordinated at the lowest levels so that recommended solutions could be agreed on before the issue reached Rumsfeld for a decision.

"I have found him to be a person who wants and seeks military advice," Sharp said. "I'm going to miss him. The relationship he has established between OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) and the Joint Staff is just a model."

It is Feith's second stint at the Pentagon. He was a special counsel to Richard Perle when Perle was an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. Before that he was a Middle East specialist at the National Security Council at the White House in 1981-82.

Feith has spearheaded a number of major policy initiatives during his four years at the Pentagon. Among them is a plan to reposition American troops around the world, including a partial withdrawal of troops from South Korea and Germany. He also led a review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy."