Tuesday, 17 January 2012
When is a terrorist not a terrorist – and war with Iran or not?
When is a terrorist not a terrorist – and war with Iran or not? By Alan Hart 16 January 2012 Alan Hart views the USA’s traditional tolerance of Israeli terrorist activities – and abuse of the alliance with the US – and wonders whether this tolerance will extend to providing cover for an Israeli attack on Iran, even if this is not endorsed by Washington. The longer and complete form of the first question in the headline is – “When is a terrorist not a terrorist in the eyes of the Obama administration (not to mention all of its predecessors) and the governments of the Western world?” Answer: When he or she is an Israeli Mossad agent or asset. Israeli agents recruit terrorists In the case of the assassination of Iranian scientists, the Mossad’s assets are almost certainly members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), also known as the Peoples’ Mujahedin of Iran, which is committed to overthrowing the regime of the ruling mullahs. Many of its activists are based in Iraqi Kurdistan where Mossad has a substantial presence. It does the training there, selects the targets in Iran and provides the bombs and other weapons, and MKO members do the actual killing. It’s reasonable to presume that Mossad is more comfortable operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan with Iranian MKO assets than it was when its own agents were posing as CIA officers to recruit members of Jundallah, a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization, to carry out assassinations and attacks on installations and facilities in Iran. Some of the essence of that Israeli false flag operation has been revealed by Mark Perry in an article for Foreign Policy. His report is based on information he acquired about memos buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services which were written in the last years of President George “Dubya” Bush’s administration, plus conversations he had with two currently serving US intelligence officials and four retired intelligence officers who worked for the CIA or monitored Israeli intelligence operations from senior positions inside the US government. “It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with. Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn about what we thought.” US intelligence official According to Perry’s sources, one of whom has seen the memos, the Mossad agents who were posing as CIA agents to recruit Jundallah operatives had American passports and were “flush” with American dollars. The memos tell the story of an investigation which debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah. The investigation apparently showed that the US “had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah”. The memos also gave details of CIA field reports on Mossad’s recruitment of Jundallah operatives, mainly in London and “under the nose of US intelligence officials”. One rule for Israel, another for the rest of the world Perry’s sources confessed to being “stunned by the brazenness of Mossad’s efforts.” And one of them said: “It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with. Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn about what we thought.” I take issue with the first part of that statement. What is really amazing is not what Mossad and almost of Israel’s political and military leaders think they can get away with, but what they know they can get away with because of the Zionist lobby’s control of Congress on all matters relating to policy for the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel. And that in turn is why, generally speaking, Israel’s leaders don’t give a damn about what American administrations think. They come and go but the Zionist lobby’s control of Congress is a permanent fixture. (In private conversation with General Moshe Dayan when he was Israel’s defence minister, I once summed up Israel’s unspeakable but implicit message to the governments of the world in the following way. “We know we shouldn’t have done this but we’ve done it because we also know there’s nothing you can do about it.” Dayan didn’t comment but the look on his face said something like, “You’re right but I’m not going to say so.”) Though Israel doesn’t usually comment on reports about Mossad’s activities, a senior government spokesman described Perry’s account of Mossad agents posing as CIA agents as “absolute nonsense”. As I was reading the denial I used a Jimmy Carter expression – “BS” (Bull Shit). “These are shameful acts by a shameful Israeli government exploiting Iranian terrorists for their own ends. I find it disgusting that Israel can get away with such acts with impunity.” Richard Silverstein, US journalist After the latest assassination of an Iranian scientist, Rick Santorum, the right-wing religious joker in the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls, said this: “On occasions scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing.” A different view was offered by Jewish American journalist Richard Silverstein. For his weblog Tikun Olam he wrote this: “These are shameful acts by a shameful Israeli government exploiting Iranian terrorists for their own ends. I find it disgusting that Israel can get away with such acts with impunity.” Disgusting it certainly is but there’s no mystery about why Israel can commit crimes, including acts of naked state terrorism, without fear of being called and held to account for them by the UN Security Council. When after the 1967 war it refused to label the Zionist state as the aggressor and require it to withdraw from the newly occupied Arab lands without conditions, it effectively created, at the insistence of the US, two sets of rules for the behaviour of nations: one set for all the nations of the world minus Israel and the other exclusively for Israel. That was the birth of the double standard which is the cancer at the heart of Western foreign policy. Now let’s pause for a moment to imagine what the response would have been if Iranian agents or assets had assassinated an Israeli scientist (just one) in the Zionist state. Led by America, Western governments would have bellowed their condemnation of the terrorism and pledged full support for all efforts to hunt the terrorists down and bring them to justice. And they would, of course, have blamed the government of Iran even if there was not one shred of evidence of its authorization. The assassination of an Israeli scientist might even have tipped the Washington decision-making balance in favour of the mad men who want the US either to attack Iran or give Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the green light to go, with or without nuclear tipped, bunker-busting bombs. And Israel? How would it have responded? With or without a green light from President Barack Obama it almost certainly would have bombed selected targets in Iran, even if doing so was likely to set the region on fire and do vast damage to Western interests in the region and the whole Muslim world. (As I note in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, in the chapter headed “The Liberty Affair – Pure Murder on a Great Day”, the lesson of the cold-blooded Israeli attack on the American spy ship was that there is nothing the Zionist state might not do, to its friends as well as its enemies, in order to get its own way.) Now, at the risk of inviting a charge from some and perhaps many readers that I am naive in the extreme, I have to say I am inclined to the view that the Obama administration was telling the truth when it strongly denied any American complicity in the latest Israeli/MKO assassination. The New York Times put it this way: The assassination drew an unusually strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department, which disavowed any American complicity... “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to expand the denial beyond Wednesday’s killing, categorically denying any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran. The New York Times report then quoted Mrs Clinton as saying this: We believe that there has to be an understanding between Iran, its neighbours and the international community that finds a way forward for it to end its provocative behaviour, end its search for nuclear weapons and rejoin the international community, That in my opinion is code for something very like: “This administration is not completely mad. We know that an attack on Iran could have catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. Despite the mounting and awesome pressure we are under from Netanyahu and those who peddle his propaganda here in America, we know that the nuclear problem with Iran must be solved by jaw-jaw and not war-war.” How catastrophic the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran could be for the region and the world has been put into words by Philip Giraldi, currently the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer. The scenario he presents under the headline "What war with Iran might look like" takes us all the way to World War III. So, I believe New York Times reporter Scott Shane was on the right track when he wrote that the statements by US officials appeared to reflect serious concern about the (Israeli/MKO) assassinations of Iranian scientists because they could “backfire” and make Iran’s leaders less willing to talk. And, I add, more willing to give in to those forces in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards in particular, who might well be saying that Iran must possess nuclear weapons for deterrence. “At executive level it [the Obama administration] is, I think, in a state of something close to total panic about what to do to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran if Netanyahu is not bluffing.” My guess is that US officials are also concerned by the possibility that more assassinations could provoke an Iranian response which would give Israel the pretext to attack. (It’s by no means impossible that the main purpose of the assassinations is to provoke an Iranian response to give Israel the pretext for an attack.) That brings me to my own speculation about what is really going on behind closed doors in the Obama administration. At executive level it is, I think, in a state of something close to total panic about what to do to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran if Netanyahu is not bluffing. My reading of Obama’s latest turn of the sanctions screw on Iran is that it’s his way of not only putting more pressure on the ruling mullahs. It’s also his way of saying to Netanyahu something like: “Give me more time to solve the Iranian nuclear problem by all means other than war.” Obama needs more time not only to try to get serious and substantive talks with Iran going but also to establish beyond any doubt whether Israeli threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities are a bluff (to put pressure on the US) or not. In an article for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz under the headline "Israel and US at odds over timetables and red lines for Iran", Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel wrote: Do [Israeli Defence Minister Ehud] Barak and Netanyahu really intend to attack on their own, or is Israel only trying to prod the West into more decisive action? That is the million-dollar question. It has been discussed intermittently for the past three years and it seems that Washington does not have a satisfactory answer to it. In a few days time General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is scheduled to arrive in Israel for talks with Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz and other senior Israeli defence and intelligence officials. “My guess is that whatever he may say in public after his meetings, [Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin] Dempsey will tell the Israelis in private that if they go to war with Iran they will be on their own.” Dempsey knows that when US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta met with Netanyahu and Barak last November, they refused to give him a commitment that Israel would not attack Iran without informing America of its intention to do so. If I am right about the panic in the Obama administration, my guess is that Dempsey will try to obtain the commitment Panetta failed to get. What if Dempsey does not succeed? My guess is that whatever he may say in public after his meetings, Dempsey will tell the Israelis in private that if they go to war with Iran they will be on their own. The US, I can almost hear him saying, will not become engaged except to defend its own national interests if and as necessary “because the American people, most of them, are tired of war”. He could add “and we don’t have the money to pay for it”. An interesting question for the coming days is something like this: what if Dempsey returns to Washington without being able to give behind-closed-doors assurance that Israel (despite what it might continue to say to the contrary in public for propaganda purposes) will not go it alone with an attack Iran? In theory there is a card President Obama could play. He could put Israel on public notice that if it attacked Iran and if as a consequence America’s own bests interests were harmed, the US would have to rethink its relationship with the “Jewish state”. A statement to that effect would imply that the days of America’s unconditional support for Israel right or wrong could be coming to an end. But that’s not a statement Obama could make this side of November’s presidential election. So, if Netanyahu is not bluffing, and if he was determined to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before November’s election, there’s nothing Obama could do to stop him, even knowing that the end game could be, as Giraldi speculated, World War III. My own view has always been that Netanyahu is bluffing to the extent that even he is not crazy enough to order an Israeli attack on Iran without a green light from the US and American cover and participation. I hope I am right. If I am it could be that General Dempsey will return to Washington with the news Obama wants and needs: that without a green light from the US, Israel will not bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.