Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wes Clark and VoteVets Start

On 20 February 2007, Wes Clark and launched Stop Iran According to the new site:

"All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq. Yet President Bush’s saber rattling gives the US little additional leverage to engage and dissuade Iran, and, more than likely, simply accelerates a dangerous slide into war. The United States can do better than this."

On the campaign site, they have a petition which individuals can send to President Bush. It reads:

"I demand that you stop the rush to war with Iran. I urge you to use every option available to defuse tensions with Iran -- diplomatic, political, and economic -- before even considering military force. Military force must be viewed as the last resort -- not the first option. War is not the answer."

Sen. Sanders Introduces Iran Resolution

On February 15, 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S.Con.Res. 13 to prevent expansion of the war into Iran. According to a press release from the Senator's office:

"Now there are reports that the President may be considering expanding this tragic war into Iran. The President has no constitutional authority to make war on Iran without Congressional approval, nor has he historical precedent. I offer today a resolution "expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress." The resolution sets forth the Constitutional grant of authority to Congress for declaring war and funding any war, it cites Federalist paper number 69 on the intention of the drafters of the Constitution, and it cites Presidents Washington and Jefferson on the power reserved to Congress to authorize war. "

The resolution itself mirrors H.Con.Res. 33, introduced by Rep. Peter Defazio on January 16, 2007 with 18 other co-sponsors, including Rep. Jack Murtha.

New Compilation of Information on US-Iran Confrontation

The Project on Defense Alternatives has just completed a compilation of web links to full-text articles, reports, and background information on the US-Iran confrontation:
Confronting Iran: Critical perspectives on the current crisis, its origins, and implications

Friday, February 09, 2007

Images of Tehran

These are images of Tehran you don't see everyday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Warning: Shameless Self Promotion

What do you know, here is an interesting piece published today, by none other than, It's entitled "Iran, Let's Talk, not Attack," and you can find it by clicking here. Straight to the punchline:

"Instead of provoking a military confrontation, the United States should engage Iran in constructive dialogue without preconditions. Such a dialogue could begin by identifying issues on which critical U.S. and Iranian interests converge...

"There are legitimate concerns about the regime in Iran, particularly its human rights violations. But Iran is not a monolithic society and any struggle for reform must come from within the country itself. While Iranians themselves are angry about the declining economic situation, censorship and human rights abuses, they believe these are domestic concerns and should be addressed by Iranians, not foreign military intervention. Even in the last few weeks there has been a dramatic shift in top-end policy in Iran, including election victories by moderates and reformers, and the Supreme Council giving the green light for members of the Majlis to publicly criticize President Ahmadinejad.

"It's time to put aside the spin and sit down and talk. We can't bomb a country simply because we don't like it. Doing so would be recklessly shortsighted and only strengthen the hand of hardliners in Iran. In addition to the Iraq Study Group, there have been other bi-partisan commissions and study groups, including a 2004 working group established under the Council on Foreign Relations and co-chaired by Robert Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski; and a 2001 Atlantic Council of the United States Working Group, co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton, James Schlesinger and Brent Scowcroft, which have called for various forms of dialogue and engagement with Iran. Even if the administrations won't talk, we can pursue parliament-to-parliament and people-to-people exchanges in the near term.

If we want to see a change in Iran's behavior, we must pursue courageous diplomatic leadership to establish a serious sustained dialogue. Only then can we truly gauge Iran's intentions to deal with issues of concern to the United States, from settling outstanding questions regarding its nuclear program to helping stabilize Iraq. "

Iraq-Iran Situation Analogous to China-Vietnam

In a floor speech on 6 February 2007, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) made an analogy between Iraq-Iran today to Vietnam-China. In Vietnam US forces killed 1.4 million enemy combatants but finally had to abandon a military-only policy. In his speech, Sen. Webb re-defines “supporting the troops” by broadening the context to include non-military action.

"...I would cite an important historical referent. In 1971, China , like Iran today, was considered a rogue nation. China in those days was already a nuclear power. It had an American war on its borders, in Vietnam , a war that it was actively assisting. We, the United States , took the initiative, aggressively opening China through diplomatic energy, and over time helped to bring China into the international community. We should not be afraid of taking similar actions with Iran , and also with Syria.

The bottom line of all of this is that this Administration and its supporters must understand the realities that are causing us, as a Congress, to finally say enough is enough. That the time has come for a new approach. That the answer in Iraq , and to our fight against international terrorism, and to our diminished posture around the world, is for us to show not only our prowess on the battlefield but also our leadership in the diplomatic arena. That indeed we have an obligation to the men and women who have served so selflessly on our behalf, to match their proficiency and their loyalties with the kind of thoughtful leadership that will bring this effort to a proper conclusion. "

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Congressman Gary Ackerman Calls for Revised Iran Policy

At a Foreign Affairs hearing on 31 January 2007, Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) talked about the need for a revised US policy on Iran. Here is an excerpt of his statement:

"While the White House intones that “all options are on the table,” the military facts of life argue otherwise. Our armed forces, especially our Army and Marine Corps, are operating on the edge of their capacity. While the Air Force and Navy remain capable of conducting a robust conventional bombing campaign, I remain skeptical that they would be able to strike all the key components of Iran’s nuclear program. Many facilities are extremely well-protected, some are buried, others are hardened, and some have all of these features. More troubling, based on recent history, I think prudence demands that we assume there are both facilities we have not yet identified and facilities we have misidentified. Moreover, we have scarcely considered the full nature and extent of Iran’s presence in Iraq, and what capabilities it has to make mischief in other parts of the Middle East, or the rest of the globe.

"Although our military options are dismal, the Bush Administration seems intent on charging full-speed ahead towards confrontation. If we had a credible diplomatic alternative we were pushing the Iranians toward, such gambling might make sense. Without a diplomatic backstop, however, it is merely reckless.

Without question, face-to-face dialogue with the Iranians would be difficult, unpleasant, and likely to fail. However, if there are no talks, a negotiated resolution of either the Iranian nuclear problem, or the instability and violence in Iraq is essentially impossible. I would add here that this administration’s incessant practice of subcontracting to other countries the most vital questions of our national security represents one of the most egregious and shameful failures in the history of American foreign policy."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

US Burned Its Own Offering to Iran

I heard something very interesting today. Col. Larry Wilkerson, Flynt Leverett and others have all published information about Iran's May 2003 offer (the one Gareth Porter called a "Burnt Offering").

I heard a slightly modified version of what really happened from an Iranian today at an off-the-record event. According the source, the Americans had actually sent an unofficial offer to the Iranians in April 2003 and the Iranians thought it was a serious effort. The Iranians perceived that such an offer meant that the US was ready to deal with Iranian objectives as well as US objectives. So, the Iranians simply modified the US offer to include everything they wanted on the table.

There are several significant observations about this (in addition, of course, to the obvious, which is that we've been led to believe this was always an Iranian initiative). First, if the US sent the original offer in April and Iran responded in May, that was a pretty quick turn around. It also means that the US was the one to ask Iran to take decisive action against terrorists; help the US stabilize Iraq; undergo a sweeping reorientation of policy towards Israel and acceptance of a two-states approach; stop any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) and action on Hizbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon; and resolve nuclear disputes, among other key issues. And, more importantly, the Iranians agreed that all these issues were acceptable to bring to the table and negotiate.

In exchange, Iran modified the US offer and asked the US to help pursue anti-Iranian terrorists (e.g. Mujihedeen e Khalq); recognize Iran’s legitimate interests in Iraq; end US hostile behavior and rectify Iran in the US, including removal from the “axis of evil” and the “terrorism list”; lift sanctions and take steps to normalize relations with Iran; and recognize Iran’s legitimate security interests in the region.

Hardliners in the Bush adminitration then dismissed this counter offer, thus renegging on what the Iranians perceived as a serious effort to develop mutual respect between the two countries.

This will only prejudice future serious US efforts. A viable strategy will have to take into account this added challenge. This is just one more example of the cyclical mistrust between the two countries that damages opportunities for progress.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Military Leaders Urge Blair to Pursue Diplomacy with Iran

Special thanks to General Gard for helping coordinate signatures on this letter and to General Hoar and Vice Admiral Shanahan for signing. We worked with Gemma Mortensen at Crisis Action UK, who is coordinating Iran efforts in the UK. On February 5, 2007, they are launching a new report entitled, "Time to Talk."

Below is the original letter published today and running as a wire in at least 32 articles around the world, including this one.

Dear Sir:

As former US military leaders, we strongly caution against the use of military force against Iran. An attack on Iran would have disasterous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions. The current crisis must be resolved through diplomacy,

A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran would serve the interests of the US and the UK and potentially could enhance regional and international security. The British government has a vital role to play in securing a renewed diplomatic push and making it clear that it will oppose any recourse to military force. The Bush administration should engage immediately in direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions. There is time available to talk, we must ensure that we use it.


Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.); Former military assistant to the Secretary of Defense; president, National Defense University. Currently Senior Military Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

General Joseph P. Hoar, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.); Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command

Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Director of the Center for Defense Information and currently Chairman, Military Advisory Committee, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Iraq NIE could be out tomorrow

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced, along with others, H.R. 770, a new resolution on Iran on January 31, 2007. It is a resolution stating that it is the policy of the US not to enter into a preemptive war with Iran and no fund appropriated to any US agency can be used for the purpose of carrying out covert action to cause regime change in Iran or carry out any military action against Iran in the abscence of an imminent threat.

Also, I heard on 31 January that the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq could be released on February 2, 2007. This could explain why "the Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence, U.S. officials said."