By Stephen Lendman
Polls show most Israelis and Americans oppose war with Iran. Political leaders pay no attention nor ask why Iran, with or without nuclear weapons, would strike Israel or any other country? Iran hasn’t attacked another nation in over 200 years. It threatens none now. It’s not developing or producing nuclear weapons. Washington, Israeli, and most other world leaders know it.
Iran’s nuclear program is red herring cover. It’s used as pretext to replace an independent state with a subservient pro-Western one. It’s also about furthering Israeli regional dominance.
Paul Ryan is suddenly a household name after becoming Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. Before that, Ryan had only become right-wing leadership material in the last year, based on his proposed national budget that hacks away at the core of many national social programs, including Medicare.No one deserves more credit for Ryan’s rapid rise into stardom than President Obama, who opened heavy political doors for the aspiring Republican vice president, none more weighty than that Pandora’s box of “entitlement reform” — cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs.
Destroying these programs has been on the Republicans agenda forever; however, for decades there has not existed an environment to implement them — political suicide would’ve been the result.
For example, the Republican Eisenhower and Nixon presidencies make the modern Democratic party look like right-wing Republicans: Eisenhower taxed the wealthy at 90 percent; Nixon over 70 percent, both never dared discuss cutting either Social Security or Medicare in public.
Now it seems that anything is possible.
But it was the Obama Administration that started the “yes we can” motto to cutting Social Security and Medicare. Although Bush Jr. had similar ambitions, he froze in the face of massive opposition. Obama has obliterated this opposition, akin to his predator drones dismembering a Pakistani funeral.
Although it’s rarely discussed in the so-called liberal press, Obama has worked to undermine Social Security and Medicare since he became President. His proposed national budget would have made a Republican blush only four years ago, and only looks “progressive” when compared to Ryan’s travesty of a budget. Both demand condemnation. Let the pro-Obama camp debate the “lesser/greater evil inherent in the two budgets” (one could also debate the competing virtues in two piles of feces).
Obama’s budget planned to cut $3 trillion from the national budget in ten years. The New York Times explains:
“The proposal also includes $580 billion in adjustments [cuts] to health and entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid.”
That leaves $260 billion in cuts to other yet-to-be-named social programs.
Social Security has also been on Obama’s chopping block since 2008. For example, Obama had been working with Republicans behind closed doors to work out a so-called “Grand Bargain” deal that aimed to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare. An interesting article in the Washington Post explains:
“…the major elements of a [Grand] bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in [national programs] agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients [cuts by dollar inflation], nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings [cuts] achieved in part by raising the eligibility age. And $800 billion in new taxes.”
After the Grand Bargain failed (barely), Obama came to rely on his prior political creation: the bi-partisan deficit reduction committee, which he tasked to shred the social safety net. To ensure the job was done right he appointed the most right-wing Democrats possible.
The committee created “trigger cuts” which will conveniently go into effect after the November 2012 election, assuming that no new budget deal goes into effect. The cuts will destroy at least $50 billion a year in non-military domestic spending programs, until 2021.
Obama’s drive to cut these cherished programs has been fanatical; it’s safe to say that he’s worked on nothing harder during the last four years of his presidency. It was this carefully crafted environment that nurtured Paul Ryan, who sought to make a name for himself by out right-winging the right-wing Democratic President. Ryan had to aim high and far right, since the President had veered wildly to the right past most of Ryan’s Republican colleagues.
Now Paul Ryan is the subject of a frontal assault from the Democratic Party and its allies; but this is play fighting amongst corporate-bought hypocrites who mostly agree. Working people shouldn’t choose sides in this corporate yelling match, no matter how lesser the evil one side may seem.
Obama is doing his best to lure working people back into his campaign camp by proposing to “tax the rich” to help fund his deficit reduction plan (while still cutting massive social programs!). But Obama made this same promise the last time he campaigned. He then extended the Bush tax cuts, which would have expired by themselves had he not intervened. New election, same promise.
To really tax the rich Obama would have to show a little audacity for once. If Obama actually fought to remove the Bush tax cuts, the richest 1% would see their income taxes raised 3 percentage points, to 38 percent.
This baby step is more of a distraction than a solution. Some progressives act as if this promise of Obama’s — which means absolutely nothing — would be the greatest achievement for working people since civil rights.
In reality, a much greater demand for increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations is needed. Labor and community groups need to independently put forward their own demands to tax the rich and corporations to prevent ALL cuts to social programs. Otherwise, the “solutions” offered by the Democrats will continue to be aligned with the Republicans, at the expense of working people, and the inequalities in wealth will continue to grow. Labor and community groups have been quiet about the coming post-election austerity “trigger” budget cuts to social programs in an effort to give Obama much needed political cover. Instead, these groups would serve their members better by uniting in massive mobilizations nationally to demand “no cuts” to social programs.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Waging full-scale war on Syria and/or Iran is madness. War with either country is all lose, no gain, and potential catastrophic consequences if things spin out of control. Warmongers push ahead with plans anyway.
Israel will be gravely affected if they’re implement. Why else would most Israelis oppose war and Netanyahu for threatening it. Last spring, hundreds marched in Tel Aviv against it. They chanted anti-Netanyahu slogans and railed against AIPAC.
They never went away. Expect them back. They’re joined by many others. On August 16, Haaretz headlined “Hundreds of Israelis petition IDF pilots: Refuse orders to bomb Iran, saying:
Tel Aviv law professors Menachem Mautner and Chaim Gans joined them. Petition language calls attacking Iran a “highly mistaken gamble.”
Besides fundamental legal issues, at best it will delay, not destroy, Iran’s nuclear program. Doing so also exacts “an exorbitant price.”
Petition language said “No.”
“Certainly, this is not a simple option. It involves profound professional and moral dilemmas, and carries the risk of losing a career which is important to you and also the possibility of being prosecuted.”
“Nevertheless, it is your duty to consider most carefully and seriously the possibility that by saying the little word ‘No,’ you will be rendering an important and vital service to the State of Israel and all who live here. This service would be infinitely more important than blind obedience to this particular order.”
The petition also explained that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities involves irradiating large areas. Doing so harms civilians. “Israel as a country, as well as those carrying out the bombing might be charged with war crimes.”
Professor Gans explained why he signed the petition, saying:
“It is clear that the consequences of (war on Iran) would be destructive in every possible way.”
Haaretz said Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and senior Israeli “health establishment” doctors wrote Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They oppose war. They expressed fears of unavoidable catastrophic consequences.
They said “(w)e will be the ones you will seek out to heal and put together what you have broken. We call on you: Don’t break. First do no harm.”
On August 16, Israeli Ynet News headlined “Flurry of petitions against strike on Iran,” saying:
Resistance to war appears growing. Twenty IDF reserve officers wrote Netanyahu. They expressed concerns like others. Imminent dangers focus minds on what’s not previously considered.
Hopefully it’s a good sign. It better be in dealing with sociopaths impersonating leaders. Netanyahu and Barak are two of the worst. No one’s safe with them in charge.
On August 15, Richard Silverstein wrote about “Bibi’s Secret War Plan.” He published “an important leaked Israeli government document.” A “trusted source” sent it. He’s a “former Israeli government minister.” He got it from an IDF officer.
He sent it because he and his source oppose war. He revealed it to expose Israeli leadership plans “to take Israel to war.” His “mission” is to prevent it. He said no Israeli official denied the authenticity of what he revealed.
His source said he normally wouldn’t leak this type document. “These are not normal times,” he explained. “I’m afraid Bibi and Barak are dead serious.”
Silverstein calls them a “two-headed warrior.” Monster would be more appropriate. Virtually no “senior (Israeli) military or intelligence officer wants this war.” It’s unlikely current officials wrote the leaked material.
“It feels more likely it came from….national security advisor Yaakov Amidror, a former general, settler true-believer, and Bibi confidant.” Barak acolytes perhaps also were involved.
Material was prepared for Netanyahu’s eight-member security cabinet. They stand “4-3″ against war. Bibi’s pitching recalcitrant ministers. He’s manipulating them to go along. His argument is that Israel can wage “a pure technology war” with few Israeli casualties.
His “sleight of hand” omits a certain Iranian counterattack. Silverstein calls what Netanyahu and Barak have in mind a “product of the Israeli dream factory.”
It manufactures threats and clean strategies to address them. It never produces what’s promised. Mission accomplished may be catastrophic. This genie can’t be rebottled if unleashed.
Silverstein translated from the original Hebrew. Key portions are as follows:
“The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders.”
“The internet, telephones, radio and television, communications satellites, and fiber optic cables leading to and from critical installations—including underground missile bases at Khorramabad and Isfahan—will be taken out of action.“
“The electrical grid throughout Iran will be paralyzed and transformer stations will absorb severe damage from carbon fiber munitions which are finer than a human hair, causing electrical short circuits whose repair requires their complete removal.”
“This would be a Sisyphean task in light of cluster munitions which would be dropped, some time-delayed and some remote-activated through the use of a satellite signal.”
“A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran. 300km ballistic missiles would be launched from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf.”
“The missiles would not be armed with unconventional warheads [WMD], but rather with high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets.”
“The missiles will strike their targets—some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak–which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium—and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexaflouride. Others would explode under-ground, as at the Fordo facility.”
“A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, and the residences of senior personnel in the nuclear and missile development apparatus. Intelligence gathered over years will be utilized to completely decapitate Iran’s professional and command ranks in these fields.”
”After the first wave of attacks, which will be timed to the second, the “Blue and White” radar satellite, whose systems enable us to perform an evaluation of the level of damage done to the various targets, will pass over Iran.”
“Only after rapidly decrypting the satellite’s data, will the information be transferred directly to war planes making their way covertly toward Iran.”
”These IAF planes will be armed with electronic warfare gear previously unknown to the wider public, not even revealed to our U.S. ally. This equipment will render Israeli aircraft invisible.”
”Those Israeli war planes which participate in the attack will damage a short-list of targets which require further assault.”
“Among the targets approved for attack—Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more.”
Despite a detailed battle plan, USC Chemical Engineering Professor Muhammad Sahimi explained flaws. Current Iranian Revolutionary Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari addressed what he called the over-centralization of command and control.
He divided Iran into 31 districts. Each operates independently. To succeed, Israel would have to destroy or disable all. Doing so seems unlikely, especially before Tehran can respond defensively.
If Israel strikes, Netanyahu’s waging the last war. Iranian generals learned from Saddam’s mistakes. Even with “new tricks” up his sleeve, Netanyahu doesn’t know his adversary, its defenses, its structure, and overall preparedness to hit back hard. Attacking Iran assures no winners.
A Final Comment
On August 15, The New York Times suggested a window of opportunity exists to avoid war. Uzi Dayan was quoted. He formerly served as IDF deputy chief of staff. He’s Moshe Dayan’s nephew. He said:
“This window is closing, but if the United States would be much clearer and stronger about the sanctions on one hand and about what can happen if Iran won’t make a U-turn – there is not a lot of time, but there is still time to make a difference.”
On August 13, Dayan met with Netanyahu and Barak privately. They discussed current security issues. Iran was topic one. A media blitz awakened Israelis to the impending danger. They responded by opposing war.
Dayan thinks Netanyahu/Barak saber rattling has a purpose. It’s pushing Obama to do more. It’s about imposing more punishing sanctions than now in place. The only way is by creating a likely military option.
Both Israeli officials also want Washington leading an eventual attack. They’re uncertain how successful Israel can be alone. America’s might could make the difference. No matter that war with Iran assures no winners.
Dayan added that Netanyahu and Barak will choose war “only if they feel that there is no other way. They will do it only as the last, last thing, but then they will be pretty determined about it.”
Once again, The Times suppressed what readers most need to know. It bears repeating. Iran has no nuclear weapons program. It threatens no one. Attacking nonbelligerent states violates fundamental international law.
Nations doing so stand guilty of war crimes. If large numbers of civilians are harmed, add crimes against humanity. If numbers run into the millions or close to it, genocide charges are warranted.
Responsible journalists would explain and condemn what they tacitly or overtly support. Failure makes them complicit in crimes too grave to ignore.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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