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Building up pretexts

  1. Dec 25, 2006 #1
    Americans have detained several senior Iranian military officials in Iraq. What's interesting about this is less what they had in their possession when captured (U.S. won't say) or what threat they were suspected off (won't speculate), but more that the executive branch was surprisingly quick to announce possible evidence of Iranian involvement in Shia militas. Especially from an administration that "doesn't like to speculate".

    U.S. Is Detaining Iranians Caught in Raids in Iraq

    This is different from most of Rach3's political threads; rather than sticking closely to the journalists' analysis (NYT here), I'm presenting my own inferrence of how this story is meaningful.


    My understanding is thus: it's been generally suspected that Iranianians may be assisting with Shia milita in Iraq; some suggest the Iranian government is involved in this (they certainly have motivation to be.) The language of the spoksepeople, saying rather strongly that Iranian officials are linked to milita attacks (though not producing evidence yet), reflects an ongoing position of the administration to find a smoking gun, or failing at least discredit, the Iranian regime, to justify military action.

    So what I'm getting out of this is not that Ahmadinejad is working in Iran (and Lebanon, both of which do seem probable to me), but even more significantly, the U.S. administration is working on a new front to justify an Iranian attack. Since they haven't presented any evidence yet, it reminds me uncomfortably of the pre-Iraq war tactics, when they were shifting from human rights in Iraq to mobile bioweapons labs to undestroyed chemical weapons to attempts to purchase uranium ore; the decision was already made, they just needed a reason.

    What do you think of my perceptions? I've got another worry; does the shift from stopping uranium enrichment to stopping Iraq involvment, suggest a shift from a tactical strike on a nuclear facility, to attempts at regime change? It's speculative but rather suggestive. :frown:
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2006 #2
    I think my hypothesis can make some soon-testable predictions, which I'll state for the record:

    -So far the administration itself has been silent; but we would see Bush and Rice making public speeches in a few days, decrying an Iranian support of violence

    -We could see attempts to inflate (or even, distort?) the impact of Iranian involvment; rhetoric suggesting "the Iraqi civil war is entirely the fault of Iran"

    -High-level meetings with Blair or Putin, perhaps trying to garner support for further U.N. sanctions/condemnations
  4. Dec 25, 2006 #3
    Oops, I overlooked a choice quote from the NYT article!

  5. Dec 25, 2006 #4
    And here's a small example of the presumption of Iranian guilt before finding evidence:

  6. Dec 25, 2006 #5
    It is interesting to note that the subject of Iranian military intervention has popped in and out of headlines over the past 18+ months:

    MSNBC article

    The NYT even covered the issue in a piece relatively recently.

    This information leads me to the opposite conclusion you have reached, Rach3. I am struck by the lack of executive rhetoric on this issue. I see a high press coverage to sabre-rattling ratio; i.e. the Bush administration has been very measured in its words, especially compared with the media and "officials speaking on condition of anonymity." There have been allegations, most notably by Bush here. These allegations do not seem to have been translated into policy, however, as Iran's nuclear program appears to be of more concern to Bush. I don't recall a proposal to punish Iran for weapons smuggling. Rather, that level of diplomacy seems to have been reached with the nuclear crisis.

    Ironically, now might be the appropriate time for Bush to confront Iran on this issue. If General Hayden's statements (NYT article) are to be believed, the U.S. has probably amassed an impressive record of such activity over the past two years or so. Such an archive would be a solid foundation upon which to build a case against Iran.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2006
  7. Dec 25, 2006 #6
  8. Dec 25, 2006 #7


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    Bush has moved a carrier and its support group to the Persian Gulf and there is a second group on its way. He appears to be intent on destabilizing the ME even further, to enrich his buddies in the oil industry, and I would not be surprised to see air strikes in Iran very soon on even the thinnest of pretexts. The Saudis have told Bush that if the US marginalizes the Sunnis (as the Baker plan recommends) that they will provide financial support to the Sunnis, throwing more fuel on the fire in Iraq.

    Now that the UN Security Council has issued a resolution regarding Iran's uranium enrichment program, the Bushies have a tiny bit of cover that they will exploit relentlessly to support their goal of regime change (the nice way to say "overthrow of a foreign government"). If a foreign government tried to invade the US, or bomb us into submission, or overthrow our government, the US people would be outraged and (hopefully) rise in our common defense. Should we expect less of Iraqis or Iranians? We are in a tough spot in Iraq. By dismantling the Iraqi army and banning Sunnis from positions of authority, the Bushies created a power vacuum and an imbalance in governance that were certain to destabilize the country. After a few years in which the opposing forces have built up their bases of support, supply and communications, our troops are fighting battles of attrition with no well-defined plan of attack or indeed no well-defined enemy. We need to leave the ME militarily and engage in some diplomacy. The Bush administration is not acting in the interest of the US citizenry, nor has it since day one. They are posing and spouting jingoistic phrases in order to create divisions amongst the idiots and ideologues on the home front while single-mindedly looting the wealth of our country and enriching oil companies and military contractors (some of which are both).
  9. Dec 25, 2006 #8
    Yonoz - yes that's all well known, the question is whether the Iranian regime itself is involved (as opposed to renegade fighters acting on their own orders.) Since Iran's involvement in Lebanon and Iraq is secretive (naturally), it's quite hard to get solid evidence tying the agents to their government - this is the first time the U.S. claims to have such evidence. I doubt they passed up any opportunity before.

  10. Dec 25, 2006 #9
    It's amazing, one term of GWB foreign policy and I'm almost nostalgic for the Middle East of the 90's.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2006
  11. Dec 25, 2006 #10


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    Go here, and review some of the past shows. I'm not sure which day it was, but it was probably last Wednesday or Thursday when they replayed Scott Ritter's discussion with Seymour Hirsch about the middle east. Ritter has been quite militant in the past and has advocated for actions that I am adamantly opposed to, but you need to hear his assessment of the situation in the ME and his analysis of the role of Israeli lobby in the shaping of US foreign policy.

  12. Dec 25, 2006 #11
    That's because there's a lot more useful things you can do with enemy agents than parade them in front of the media.
  13. Dec 25, 2006 #12


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    If I recall correctly the statements made by Hayden during what I think was an Armed Services Committee hearing, he was clear in saying that there's tons of documented evidence for the involvement of Iranian fighters and munitions smugglers in Iraq, but no evidence to show that the Iranian government was involved in any way.

    Do you have a link to the NYT article?
  14. Dec 25, 2006 #13


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    Please take the time to watch or listen to the December 21st airing of Democracy Now, featuring former soldier/spook/weapons inspector Scott Ritter. This interview was taped some time ago and unfortunately it appears that Ritter was right...

  15. Dec 25, 2006 #14
    It was interesting to see Ritter explain the lack of footnotes...
  16. Dec 25, 2006 #15


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    Source of Additional Troops for Iraq Unclear
    Apparently the number of 'qualified' recruits is down, so the US military has 'lowered' the standards, which includes those with criminal records. :rolleyes: Perhaps one-sixth of military personnel have questionable backgrounds - which could endanger the other 5/6th's.

    Army's 3rd Infantry Faces Another Hitch in Iraq
    How Will the Military Add Tens of Thousands of People?
    Maybe mandatory military service? Seems fair - except Cheney and others seemed to avoid it, and Bush got a cush state-side position in the Air National Guard, while others were forced to go.
  17. Dec 25, 2006 #16
    The link was buried in a hotlinked word. Here is the raw url:


    Turbo-1, to a centrist, Democracy Now! is as much on the fringe as Rush Limbaugh is. If Democracy Now!'s programming is centered with respect to your views, it doesn't mean it's a "centrist" or objective news source.
  18. Dec 25, 2006 #17


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    If you want to know what's going on, you have to take your information from as many sources as possible and look for links, commonality, etc. The CIA and the NSA do this every day all day long. Scott Ritter is not some left-wing nut job, and he was allowed to express his informed opinion. Rush Limbaugh would never have allowed that on his show. Amy Goodman often has Israeli and Palestinian representatives offering opposing views - something that we can't get on the national media, nor on right-wing talk shows. I do not think that her show is centrist, but it does offer viewpoints that are not readily available elsewhere.
  19. Dec 26, 2006 #18
    Thanks for that interview, it was very thought-provoking. Ritter seems to have a better than average insight on the situation. He did make several errors - some minor, like calling Hamas a wing of the PLO. However it's quite clear he commits the same sins he preaches against. I don't see what his beef with Amos Gilad is about - there have been criticisms of Gilad by persons within the Israeli intelligence community but none that have anything to do with Ritter's claim of abandonment of fact-based analysis. This is the first time I've heard such claim. Military Intelligence still maintains the concept of "Ipcha Mistabra", what Ritter called "Doubting Thomas" - a body whose sole purpose is to challenge analysis products and offer alternatives. It's also important to note that MI is not the only element of the Israeli Intelligence Community and there are numerous occasions on which different intelligence bodies offer contradicting analysis. As a matter of fact, during the past week the Mossad and MI presented the Knesset's Foreign Relations and Security Commission opposing views on Syria's intent as to the peace process - MI says they are sincere while the Mossad claims they are paying lip-service. Furthermore Gilad was only chief of the research section within MI. This means that even if Ritter is correct Gilad's influence was too limited to have the extensive effects Ritter claims.
    Ritter also notes he'd do the same if he were Israeli, and agrees that a nuclear capable Iran is an existential threat to Israel, yet in his opinion Israel's policy is wrong. He does not offer an alternative policy. The facts remain as follows: a religious, oil-rich state, with proven support of terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets all around the globe, whose leaders make comments that at best can be described as hateful and at worst can be described as plain-out threats, is covertly & clandestinely developing technology that could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community, and refuses effective international inspections of its sites. Ritter is qualified as an analyst, and as such his criticism of policy-making is no better than any other well-informed individual. Contrary to Ritter, I do not believe Iran is demanded to prove that something doesn't exist - it is not up to Iran to prove it. They are demanded to allow full international inspections of specific sites.
    As a former analyst Ritter should also know that Scenario Planning produces several key scenarios that are taken into account when forming policy. It's quite obvious that in this case policy makers will be presented with scenarios that include a "bluff" by Iran. They have to weigh the risks of each scenario being the correct one if action is taken based on an incorrect scenario. In this case, an existential threat to Israel - a view with which Ritter agrees - should make the decision quite simple. The risks of forming an incorrect policy on the basis of the "bluff" scenario are greater than those of other incorrect policies.
    Ritter makes another, preposterous claim - that Israel has lumped the Palestinians, Hizbullah and Iran together to stall the Palestinian process. Nothing could be more absurd - if they were indeed lumped together then Israel would face more international pressure to solve the Palestinian issue quickly as a nuclear capable Iran constitutes a threat to many other countries, including European ones with much leverage on Israel. The identical claim is made by Israelis with regards to anti-Israeli elements in the west.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2006
  20. Dec 26, 2006 #19
    The URL of that edition of Democracy Now! again:


    Here is my timeline of that piece (the parts where Ritter is speaking):

    0-42 minutes: Ritter presents his opinions in a respectable manner
    42-45 minutes: Ritter is teetering on the precipice of political rant
    45+ minutes: Ritter takes a nosedive into political ranting and half-baked analysis

    (watch the timer as you listen)

    He assumes that the American public will support war in Iran because it wants a victory under its belt after Iraq. (Beginning at 48:31 in the audio file found here):
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2006
  21. Dec 26, 2006 #20
    And there is also Ritter's "friendship" with Israel (Beginning at 22:53):
    I doubt that Ritter is anti-Semitic, but he is not showing how good a friend he is. Rather, he is showing how well he can patronize the Israelis.

    We saw this before when Ahmadinejad appealed to Americans' vanity in his letter.

    Ritter cannot fathom why the Israelis don't realize that he is trying to help them. If only the Israelis would open their minds to the "assistance" that Ritter is trying to provide. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2006
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