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  #11  
Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Iran to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization

18th April 2006 20:27

Iran to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization




China, Russia welcome Iran into the fold
By M K Bhadrakumar

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO's decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15.

Speaking in Beijing as recently as January 17, the organization's secretary general Zhang Deguang had been quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying: "Absorbing new member states needs a legal basis, yet the SCO has no rules concerning the issue. Therefore, there is no need for some Western countries to worry whether India, Iran or other countries would become new members."

The SCO, an Intergovernmental organization whose working languages are Chinese and Russian, was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO's change of heart appears set to involve the organization in Iran's nuclear battle and other ongoing regional issues with the United States.

Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion "could make the world more fair". And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia "gas-and-oil arc" by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran's intention to raise the issue of his country's nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.

The timing of the SCO decision appears to be significant. By the end of April the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report to the United Nations Security Council in New York regarding Iran's compliance with the IAEA resolutions and the Security Council's presidential statement, which stresses the importance of Iran "reestablishing full, sustained suspension of uranium-enrichment activities".

The SCO membership is therefore a lifeline for Iran in political and economic terms. The SCO is not a military bloc but is nonetheless a security organization committed to countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. SCO membership would debunk the US propaganda about Iran being part of an "axis of evil".

The SCO secretary general's statement on expansion coincided with several Chinese and Russian commentaries last week voicing disquiet about the US attempts to impose UN sanctions against Iran. Comparison has been drawn with the Iraq War when the US seized on sanctions as a pretext for invading Iraq.

A People's Daily commentary on April 13 read: "The real intention behind the US fueling the Iran issue is to prompt the UN to impose sanctions against Iran, and to pave the way for a regime change in that country. The US's global strategy and its Iran policy emanate out of its decision to use various means, including military means, to change the Iranian regime. This is the US's set target and is at the root of the Iran nuclear issue."

The commentary suggested Washington seeks a regime change in Iran with a view to establishing American hegemony in the Middle East. Gennady Yefstafiyev, a former general in Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, wrote: "The US's long term goals in Iran are obvious: to engineer the downfall of the current regime; to establish control over Iran's oil and gas; and to use its territory as the shortest route for the transportation of hydrocarbons under US control from the regions of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea bypassing Russia and China. This is not to mention Iran's intrinsic military and strategic significance."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "I would not be in a hurry to draw conclusions, because passions are too often being whipped up around Iran's nuclear program ... I would also advise not to whip up passions."

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's nuclear power agency and a former prime minister, said Iran was simply not capable of enriching uranium on an industrial scale. "It has long since been known that Iran has a 'cascade' of only 164 centrifuges, and obtaining low-grade uranium from this 'cascade' was only a matter of time. This did not come as a surprise to us."

Yevgeniy Velikhov, president of Kurchatov Institute, Russia's nuclear research center, told Tier-TASS, "Launching experimental equipment of this type is something any university can do."

By virtue of SCO membership, Iran can partake of the various SCO projects, which in turn means access to technology, increased investment and trade, infrastructure development such as banking, communication, etc. It would also have implications for global energy security.

The SCO was expected to set up a working group of experts ahead of the summit in June with a view to evolving a common "energy strategy" and jointly undertaking pipeline projects, oil exploration and related activities.

A third aspect of the SCO decision to expand its membership involves regional integration processes. Sensing that the SCO was gaining traction, Washington had sought observer status at its summit meeting last June, but was turned down. This rebuff - along with SCO's timeline for a reduced American military presence in Central Asia, the specter of deepening Russia-China cooperation and the setbacks to US diplomacy in Central Asia as a whole - prompted a policy review in Washington.

Following a Central Asian tour in October by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Washington's new regional policy began surfacing. The re-organization of the US State Department's South Asia Bureau (created in August 1992) to include the Central Asian states, projection of US diplomacy in terms of "Greater Central Asia" and the push for observer status with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should be seen in perspective.

US diplomacy is working toward getting Central Asian states to orientate toward South Asia - weaning them away from Russia and China. (Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul has also failed to respond to SCO's overtures but has instead sought full membership in SAARC.)

But US diplomacy is not making appreciable progress in Central Asia. Washington pins hopes on Astana (Kazakhstan) being its pivotal partner in Central Asia. The US seeks an expansion of its physical control over Kazakhstan's oil reserves and formalization of Kazakh oil transportation via Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, apart from carving out a US role in Caspian Sea security.

But Kazakhstan is playing hard to get. President Nurusultan Nazarbayev's visit to Moscow on April 3 reaffirmed his continued dependence on Russian oil pipelines.

Meanwhile, Washington's relations with Tashkent (Uzbekistan) remain in a state of deep chill. The US attempt to "isolate" President Islam Karimov is not working. (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting Tashkent on April 25.) Again, Tajikistan relies heavily on Russia's support. In Kyrgyzstan, despite covert US attempts to create dissensions within the regime, President Burmanbek Bakiyev's alliance with Prime Minister Felix Kulov (which enjoys Russia's backing) is holding.

The Central Asians have also displayed a lack of interest in the idea of "Greater Central Asia". This became apparent during the conference sponsored by Washington recently in Kabul focusing on the theme.

The SCO's enlargement move, in this regional context, would frustrate the entire US strategy. Ironically, the SCO would be expanding into South Asia and the Gulf region, while "bypassing" Afghanistan.

This at a time when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is stepping up its presence in Afghanistan. (General James L Jones, supreme allied commander Europe, said recently that NATO would assume control of Afghanistan by August.)

So far NATO has ignored SCO. But NATO contingents in Afghanistan would shortly be "surrounded" by SCO member countries. NATO would face a dilemma.

If it recognizes that SCO has a habitation and a name (in Central Asia, South Asia and the Gulf), then, what about NATO's claim as the sole viable global security arbiter in the 21st century? NATO would then be hard-pressed to explain the raison d'etre of its expansion into the territories of the former Soviet Union.

M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including India's ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001).
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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19th April 2006 8:39

Iran 'ready for war', but seeks peace; Russia, China huddle on eve of talks


MOSCOW (AFX) - Iran's top envoy to Russia said Monday his country is prepared for war if attacked over its nuclear program but is making a "maximum effort" to end the impasse over that program through peaceful negotiation, news agencies reported.

"One way to avert war is to be prepared for any war," Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

"Iran continues to make a maximum effort so that no war will happen in this region," Ansari said. But he added that "Iran has been, is and will be prepared" for armed conflict if it comes to that.

"We hope that the Iranian issue will be resolved by way of negotiation," the agencies quoted him as saying.

The remarks came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Cui Tiankai, china's assistant foreign minister, on the eve of multilateral talks here on the nuclear standoff with Iran.

Yesterday Iranian television reported that the Chinese diplomat had held talks with Iran's Supreme National Security Council chief Ali Larijani and nuclear negotiator Javad Vaidi.

The Lavrov-Cui meeting came as officials from the five UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- and from Germany prepared to meet Tuesday to discuss how to proceed on the Iran standoff.

Russia and China, both of which have extensive commercial interests in Iran, have resisted US-led calls for tough action against Iran to compel the Islamic republic to suspend key parts of its nuclear program and have sought to coordinate their diplomacy in the issue.

The US has accused Iran of trying secretly to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.

Tehran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is for strictly civilian purposes, and Larijani said today that the clerical regime would press on with uranium enrichment work despite mounting international pressure to freeze its nuclear activities.

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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Could this be the latest Bogeyman?

19th April 2006 19:21

Could this be the latest Bogeyman?


Iran group seeks UK Muslims for attacks in Israel
- By AFP



London, April 19: A hardline Iranian group is seeking Muslims in Britain to launch suicide attacks against Israel because their British passports will enable them to enter the country with relative ease, a spokesman told the Guardian newspaper in comments published on Wednesday.

Mohammad Samadi of the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, said the group’s first target was Israel. "For us that is the battlefield," he told the British newspaper barely one day after the latest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv killed nine civilians.

"All the Jews are targets, whether military or civilian. It’s our land and they are in the wrong place. It’s their duty to pay attention to safety (sic) of their own families," Mr Samadi said.

The Iranian group claims to be independent, but the Guardian said it had backing from Iran’s regime. The committee says it has already recruited 52,000 people, 30 per cent of whom are women. Asked how Iranian and other Muslim volunteers would gain entry to Israel, Mr Samadi noted the case of two British Muslims, Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Sharif, who attacked a bar in Tel Aviv in 2003.
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Last edited by sardarzada11; Friday, April 21, 2006 at 01:42 AM.
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Bush won't rule out nuclear strike on Iran

18th April 2006 206
Bush won't rule out nuclear strike on Iran

Bush won't rule out nuclear strike on Iran
By Edmund Blair, Tue Apr 18, 11:36 AM ET

President Bush refused on Tuesday to rule out nuclear strikes against Iran if diplomacy fails to curb the Islamic Republic's atomic ambitions.

Iran, which says its nuclear program is purely peaceful, told world powers it would pursue atomic technology, whatever they decide at a meeting in Moscow later in the day.

Bush said in Washington he would discuss Iran's nuclear activities with China's President Hu Jintao this week and avoided ruling out nuclear retaliation if diplomatic efforts fail.

Asked if options included planning for a nuclear strike, Bush replied: "All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so."

Speculation about a U.S. attack has mounted since a report in New Yorker magazine said this month that Washington was mulling the option of using tactical nuclear weapons to knock out Iran's subterranean nuclear sites.

The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking atom bombs, was expected to push for targeted sanctions against Tehran when it meets the U.N. Security Council's other permanent members -- Britain, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany in Moscow.

Russia and China oppose sanctions and the use of force.

Deputy foreign ministers from the six nations are meeting ahead of an end-April deadline for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report on whether Iran is complying with U.N. demands that it halt uranium enrichment.

"I recommend that they do not make hasty decisions, be prudent and study their path in the past. Any time they have pressured Iran they have got adverse results," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

"Whatever the result of this meeting might be, Iran will not abandon its rights (to nuclear technology)," he added later.

Iran defied U.N. demands by declaring last week it had enriched uranium to a level used in power stations and was aiming for industrial-scale production, ratcheting up tensions and sending oil prices to record highs above $72 a barrel.

The United States, which already enforces its own sweeping sanctions on Iran, wants the Security Council to be ready to take strong diplomatic action, including so-called targeted measures such as a freeze on assets and visa curbs.

Washington says it does not want to embargo Iran's oil and gas industries to avoid creating hardship for the Iranian people. Iran is the world's fourth-biggest oil exporter.

CHINA, RUSSIA OPPOSE SANCTIONS

China, which sent an envoy to Iran on Friday to try to defuse the standoff, repeated a call for a negotiated solution.

"We hope all sides will maintain restraint and flexibility," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing.

Russia restated its opposition to punitive action. "We are convinced that neither the sanctions route nor the use of force route will lead to a solution of this problem," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Israel's Jerusalem Post the United States probably could not destroy Iran's nuclear program but could attempt to set it back by strikes as a last resort.

"I think the only justifiable use of military power would be an attempt to deter the development of their nuclear program if we felt there was no other way to do it," he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at an annual military parade, said the army was ready to defend the nation.

"It will cut off the hands of any aggressors and will make any aggressor regret it," Ahmadinejad declared.

In Kuwait, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said he doubted the Americans would use force. "It is unlikely that they would enter into such a perilous situation from which they cannot come out."

Iran says it will not drop its right to enrich uranium for peaceful use but that it will work with the IAEA.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog says it has been unable to verify that Iran's nuclear program is purely civilian, but has found no hard proof of efforts to build atomic weapons.

IAEA inspectors are due in Iran on Friday to visit nuclear sites, including one at Natanz where Iran says it has enriched uranium to 3.5 percent, the level used in nuclear power plants.

IRNA news agency said Olli Heinonen, ElBaradei's deputy for safeguards issues, would lead the team. One diplomat said his presence suggested Iran might provide some missing information.

Experts say it would take Iran years to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb from its current 164 centrifuges. But Iran says it will to install 3,000 centrifuges, which could make enough material for a warhead in one year.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran, Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow, Mark Heinrich in Vienna)
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Russia rejects US call to quit Iran power plant

20th April 2006 20:15
Russia rejects US call to quit Iran power plant

20 April 2006


MOSCOW - Russia on Thursday rejected a request from the United States for its engineers to halt work on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station.


Russia’s state atomic energy agency is contracted to help Iran build the $1 billion reactor. A senior US official said on Wednesday that a Russian withdrawal would help persuade Iran to abandon a separate uranium enrichment programme.

“Every country has the right to decide for itself with whom and in what way it cooperates with other states,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a comment posted on the official web site www.mid.ru.

Only the United Nations Security Council has the power to require a state to halt cooperation and the UN body has never made any such ruling on Bushehr, Kamynin said.

The Bushehr power station is being built in compliance with all international rules and under the supervision of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, he said.

Washington and other major powers believe the uranium Iran is enriching, mainly at a research site in Natanz, could be used to build a nuclear bomb.

Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, US Undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns said: “We believe that it would be appropriate for some countries to stop cooperation with Iran on civilian nuclear issues, including Bushehr.”

Burns also repeated Washington’s view that Moscow should cancel the planned sale of Tor tactical surface-to-air missiles to the Iranian military. Moscow and Teheran say they are for defensive purposes only.

The Russian foreign ministry statement did not mention the missile sales.
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post U.S. backup plan: invade iran by land, air, water strikes

16th April 2006 18:29
U.S. backup plan: invade iran by land, air, water strikes

- By Maxim Kniazkov


Washington, April 16: The United States began planning a full-scale military campaign against Iran that involves missile strikes, a land invasion and a naval operation to establish control over the Strait of Hormuz even before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, a former US intelligence analyst disclosed on Sunday.

William Arkin, who served as the US Army’s top intelligence mind on West Berlin in the 1970s and accurately predicted US military operations against Iraq, said the plan is known in military circles as Tirannt, an acronym for "Theatre Iran Near Term."

It includes a scenario for a land invasion led by the US Marine Corps, a detailed analysis of the Iranian missile force and a global strike plan against any Iranian weapons of mass destruction, Mr Arkin wrote in the Washington Post. US and British planners have already conducted a Caspian Sea war game as part of these preparations, the scholar said.

"According to military sources close to the planning process, this task was given to Army General John Abizaid, now commander of Centcom, in 2002," Arkin wrote, referring to the Florida-based US central command. But preparations under Tirannt began in earnest in May 2003 and never stopped, he said. The plan has since been updated using information collected in Iraq. Air Force planners have modelled attacks against Iranian air defences, while Navy planners have evaluated coastal targets and drawn up scenarios for keeping control of the Strait of Hormuz.

A follow-on Tirannt analysis, which began in October 2003, calculated the results of different scenarios to provide options to commanders, Mr Arkin wrote. The Marines, meanwhile, have come up with their own document called Concept of Operations that explores the possibility of moving forces from ship to shore without establishing a beachhead first. "Though the marine corps enemy is described only as a deeply religious revolutionary country named Karona, it is — with its Revolutionary Guards, WMD and oil wealth — unmistakably meant to be Iran," Mr Arkin said.

Various scenarios involving Iran’s missile force have also been examined in another study, initiated in 2004 and known as BMD-I, which is short for "Ballistic Missile Defence — Iran", Mr Arkin said. In June 2004, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld alerted the US Strategic Command in Omaha to be prepared to implement CONPLAN 8022, a global strike plan that includes Iran. "The new task force mostly worries that if it were called upon to deliver ‘prompt’ global strikes against certain targets in Iran under some emergency circumstances, the President might have to be told that the only option is a nuclear one," Mr Arkin said. The US military has been involved in contingency planning against Iran since at least the presidency of Jimmy Carter, who undertook a failed commando operation to rescue US hostages in Tehran in 1980.

Following the 1996 bombing of an apartment building used by the US Air Force in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, which was reportedly traced to Iranian agents, the administration of then-President Bill Clinton considered a bombing campaign, according to Richard Clarke and Steven Simon, who held at the time high-level counterterrorism positions at the national security council.

"But after long debate, the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favourably for the US," the two experts wrote in Sunday’s New York Times. (AFP)
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Iranian official in Washington for ... who knows?

18th April 2006 16:41
Iranian official in Washington for ... who knows?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US State Department confirmed a senior official from arch-US nemesis Iran was in Washington but would not say how he got into the country or what he was doing here.

Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Mohammad Nahavandian was in town but added, "He's not here for meetings with US government officials to my knowledge; certainly not with members of the State Department."

McCormack said Nahavandian had not been issued a visa but was in the United States legally. He did not elaborate but said only, "There are a variety of other ways for an individual to arrive in the country."

The Washington foray by Nahavandian, described as an economic aide to Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, was first reported 10 days ago by Britain's Financial Times newspaper.

The rare sighting of a senior Iranian official in Washington comes at a moment when Iran's showdown with the West over its suspected nuclear weapons activities was nearing a climax.

Iran has announced plans to speed its research into uranium enrichment while the United States and its allies are pushing for UN sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The Financial Times quoted an Iranian adviser as saying Nahavandian had come here to discuss the possibility of wide-ranging direct talks between the two countries, which have not had diplomatic relations for a quarter-century.

The United States has authorized its ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, to hold direct discussions with the Iranians about Iraq but nothing else.
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Old Friday, April 21, 2006
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Post Behind the Military Revolt

17th April 2006 15:21
Behind the Military Revolt

Behind the Military Revolt
By Richard Holbrooke
Sunday, April 16, 2006; B07

The calls by a growing number of recently retired generals for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have created the most serious public confrontation between the military and an administration since President Harry S. Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. In that epic drama, Truman was unquestionably correct -- MacArthur, the commanding general in Korea and a towering World War II hero, publicly challenged Truman's authority and had to be removed. Most Americans rightly revere the principle that was at stake: civilian control over the military. But this situation is quite different.

First, it is clear that the retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning period for the war in Iraq, made this clear in an extraordinary, at times emotional, article in Time magazine this past week when he said he was writing "with the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership." He went on to "challenge those still in uniform . . . to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak."

These generals are not newly minted doves or covert Democrats. (In fact, one of the main reasons this public explosion did not happen earlier was probably concern by the generals that they would seem to be taking sides in domestic politics.) They are career men, each with more than 30 years in service, who swore after Vietnam that, as Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs, "when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons." Yet, as Newbold admits, it happened again. In the public comments of the retired generals one can hear a faint sense of guilt that, having been taught as young officers that the Vietnam-era generals failed to stand up to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson, they did the same thing.

Second, it is also clear that the target is not just Rumsfeld. Newbold hints at this; others are more explicit in private. But the only two people in the government higher than the secretary of defense are the president and vice president. They cannot be fired, of course, and the unspoken military code normally precludes direct public attacks on the commander in chief when troops are under fire. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course: In addition to MacArthur, there was Gen. George McClellan vs. Lincoln; and on a lesser note, Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, who was fired for attacking President Jimmy Carter over Korea policy. But such challenges are rare enough to be memorable, and none of these solo rebellions metastasized into a group, a movement that can fairly be described as a revolt.)

This has put President Bush and his administration in a hellish position at a time when security in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be deteriorating. If Bush yields to the generals' revolt, he will appear to have caved in to pressure from what Rumsfeld disingenuously describes as "two or three retired generals out of thousands." But if he keeps Rumsfeld, he risks more resignations -- perhaps soon -- from generals who heed Newbold's stunning call that as officers they took an oath to the Constitution and should now speak out on behalf of the troops in harm's way and to save the institution that he feels is in danger of falling back into the disarray of the post-Vietnam era.

Facing this dilemma, Bush's first reaction was exactly what anyone who knows him would have expected: He issued strong affirmations of "full support" for Rumsfeld, even going out of his way to refer to the secretary of defense as "Don" several times in his statements. (This was in marked contrast to his tepid comments on the future of his other embattled Cabinet officer, Treasury Secretary John Snow. Washington got the point.)

In the end, the case for changing the secretary of defense seems to me to be overwhelming. I do not reach this conclusion simply because of past mistakes, simply because "someone must be held accountable." Many people besides Rumsfeld were deeply involved in the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them remain in power, and some are in uniform.

The major reason the nation needs a new defense secretary is far more urgent. Put simply, the failed strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be fixed as long as Rumsfeld remains at the epicenter of the chain of command. Rumsfeld's famous "long screwdriver," with which he sometimes micromanages policy, now thwarts the top-to-bottom reexamination of strategy that is absolutely essential in both war zones. Lyndon Johnson understood this in 1968 when he eased another micromanaging secretary of defense, McNamara, out of the Pentagon and replaced him with Clark M. Clifford. Within weeks, Clifford had revisited every aspect of policy and begun the long, painful process of unwinding the commitment. Today, those decisions are still the subject of intense dispute, and there are many differences between the two situations. But one thing was clear then and is clear today: Unless the secretary of defense is replaced, the policy will not and cannot change.

That first White House reaction will not be the end of the story. If more angry generals emerge -- and they will -- if some of them are on active duty, as seems probable; if the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan does not turn around (and there is little reason to think it will, alas), then this storm will continue until finally it consumes not only Donald Rumsfeld. The only question is: Will it come so late that there is no longer any hope of salvaging something in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, writes a monthly column for The Post.
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Post Congressman Dennis Kucinich Demands Answers From Administration About US Troops In Ir

15th April 2006 19:23
Congressman Dennis Kucinich Demands Answers From Administration About US Troops In Iran

WASHINGTON - April 14 - Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), Ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, sent the following letter to President George W. Bush today about the presence of US troops in Iran:

Dear President Bush:

Recently, it has been reported that U.S. troops are conducting military operations in Iran. If true, it appears that you have already made the decision to commit U.S. military forces to a unilateral conflict with Iran, even before direct or indirect negotiations with the government of Iran had been attempted, without UN support and without authorization from the U.S. Congress.

The presence of U.S. troops in Iran constitutes a hostile act against that country. At a time when diplomacy is urgently needed, it escalates an international crisis. It undermines any attempt to negotiate with the government of Iran. And it will undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts at the U.N.

Furthermore, it places U.S. troops occupying neighboring Iraq in greater danger. The achievement of stability and a transition to Iraqi security control will be compromised, reversing any progress that has been cited by the Administration.

It would be hard to believe that such an imprudent decision had been taken, but for the number and variety of sources confirming it. In the last week, the national media have reported that you have in fact commenced a military operation in Iran. Today, retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner related on CNN that the Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, reported to him that the Iranians have captured dissident forces who have confessed to working with U.S. troops in Iran. Earlier in the week, Seymour Hersh reported that a U.S. source had told him that U.S. marines were operating in the Baluchi, Azeri and Kurdish regions of Iran.

Any military deployment to Iran would constitute an urgent matter of national significance. I urge you to report immediately to Congress on all activities involving American forces in Iran. I look forward to a prompt response.

Sincerely,
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
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Post Iran issues stark military warning to United States

15th April 2006 17:13
Iran issues stark military warning to United States

Iran said it could defeat any American military action over its controversial nuclear drive, in one of the Islamic regime's boldest challenges yet to the United States.

"You can start a war but it won't be you who finishes it," said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards and among the regime's most powerful figures.

"The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable. I would advise them not to commit such a strategic error," he told reporters on the sidelines of a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran.

The United States accuses Iran of using an atomic energy drive as a mask for weapons development. Last weekend US news reports said President George W. Bush's administration was refining plans for preventive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"I would advise them to first get out of their quagmire in Iraq before getting into an even bigger one," General Safavi said with a grin.

"We have American forces in the region under total surveillance. For the past two years, we have been ready for any scenario, whether sanctions or an attack."

Iran announced this week it had successfully enriched uranium to make nuclear fuel, despite a UN Security Council demand for the sensitive work to be halted by April 28.

The Islamic regime says it only wants to generate atomic energy, but enrichment can be extended to make the fissile core of a nuclear warhead -- something the United States is convinced that "axis of evil" member Iran wants to acquire.

At a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Janati simply branded the US as a "decaying power" lacking the "stamina" to block Iran's ambitions.

And hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP that a US push for tough United Nations sanctions was of "no importance."

"She is free to say whatever she wants," the president replied when asked to respond to comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighting part of the UN charter that provides for sanctions backed up by the threat of military action.

"We give no importance to her comments," he said with a broad smile.

On Thursday, Rice said that faced with Iran's intransigence, the United States "will look at the full range of options available to the United Nations."

"There is no doubt that Iran continues to defy the will of the international community," Rice said, after Iran also dismissed a personal appeal from the UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief must give a report at the end of April on Iranian compliance with the Security Council demand. In Tehran he said that after three years of investigations Iran's activities were "still hazy and not very clear."

Although the United States has been prodding the council to take a tough stand against the Islamic republic, including possible sanctions, it has run into opposition from veto-wielding members Russia and China.

Representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany are to meet in Moscow Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

In seeking to deter international action, Iran has been playing up its oil wealth, its military might in strategic Gulf waters and its influence across the region -- such as in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

At the Tehran conference, Iran continued to thumb its nose at the United States and Israel.

"The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat," Ahmadinejad told the gathering of regime officials, visiting Palestinian militant leaders and foreign sympathizers.

"Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated," said Ahmadinejad, whose regime does not recognise Israel and who drew international condemnation last year when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map."

Unfazed by his critics, the hardliner went on to repeat his controversial stance on the Holocaust.

"If there is serious doubt over the Holocaust, there is no doubt over the catastrophe and Holocaust being faced by the Palestinians," said the president, who had previously dismissed as a "myth" the killing of an estimated six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II.

"I tell the governments who support Zionism to ... let the migrants (Jews) return to their countries of origin. If you think you owe them something, give them some of your land," he said.

Iran's turbaned supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also accused the United States of seeking to place the entire region under Israeli control.

"The plots by the American government against Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon aimed at governing the Middle East with the control of the Zionist regime will not succeed," Khamenei said.

There was no immediate reaction from Washington, but French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy severely condemned Ahmadinejad for his latest remarks on Israel.

"As I have had occasion to do before, when the Iranian president made similar statements, I condemn these inacceptable remarks in the strongest possible terms," Douste-Blazy said in a statement.

"Israel's right to exist and the reality of the Holocaust should not be disputed," he added.
plz pray,
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