Friday, March 19, 2010


of course it is Israel that attacks iran.

Remember: even the THREAT OF WAR is illegal,
and must be prosecuted in THE HAGUE world court.

But Israel and USA (VETO champions) are illegal

Mullen wary of Israeli attack on Iran

11/03/2010 06:30:00 AM GMT

By Ray McGovern

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his
mid-February visit to Israel. Ever since, he has been
worrying aloud that Israel might mousetrap the U.S.
into war with Iran.

This is especially worrying, because Mullen has had
considerable experience in putting the brakes on such
Israeli plans in the past. This time, he appears
convinced that the Israeli leaders did not take his
earlier warnings seriously - notwithstanding the
unusually strong language he put into play.

Upon arrival in Jerusalem on Feb. 14, Mullen wasted no
time in making clear why he had come. He insisted
publicly that an attack on Iran would be "a big, big,
big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal
about the unintended consequences."

After his return, at a Pentagon press conference on
Feb. 22, Mullen drove home the same point - with some
of the same language. After reciting the usual
boilerplate about Iran being "on the path to achieve
nuclear weaponization" and about its "desire to
dominate its neighbors," he included this in his
prepared remarks:

"I worry a lot about the unintended consequences of any
sort of military action. For now, the diplomatic and
the economic levers of international power are and
ought to be the levers first pulled. Indeed, I would
hope they are always and consistently pulled. No
strike, however effective, will be, in and of itself,

In answer to a question about the "efficacy" of
military strikes on Iran.s nuclear program, Mullen said
such strikes "would delay it for one to three years."
Underscoring the point, he added that this is what he
meant "about a military strike not being decisive."

Unlike younger generals, such as David Petraeus and
Stanley McChrystal, Adm. Mullen served in the Vietnam
War. It seems likely that this experience prompted his
philosophical aside about the war in Afghanistan:

"I would remind everyone of an essential truth: War is
bloody and uneven. It.s messy and ugly and incredibly
wasteful, but that doesn.t mean it isn.t worth the

Though the immediate context for that remark was
Afghanistan, Mullen has underscored time and again that
war with Iran would be a far larger disaster. Those
with a modicum of familiarity with the military,
strategic and economic equities at stake know he is

* Firing .Fox.

Recall that one of Mullen.s Vietnam veteran
contemporaries, Adm. William "Fox" Fallon was cashiered
as CENTCOM commander in March 2008 for saying things
like war with Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch."

Fallon openly encouraged negotiations with Iran as the
only sensible approach, and harshly criticized the
"constant drum beat" for war.

Fallon.s attitude appears to be shared by the more
politically cautious - and less rhetorically blunt -
Mullen, as the same war-with-Iran drumbeat reaches a
new crescendo today.

Fallon abhorred the thought of being on the receiving
end of an order inspired by the likes of then-Vice
President Dick Cheney and Deputy National Security
Adviser Elliott Abrams to send American troops into
what would surely be - in Mullen.s words - a "bloody,
uneven, messy, ugly and incredibly wasteful" war.

How strong the pressure was within the Bush
administration to attack Iran - or to give Israel "a
green light" to attack Iran - can be read between the
lines in a Feb. 14 exchange between ABC News. "This
Week" host Jonathan Karl and former Vice President

Karl: "How close did the Bush administration come to
taking military action against Iran?"

Cheney: "Some of that I can't talk about, obviously,
still. I'm sure it's still classified. We clearly never
made the decision - we never crossed over that line of
saying, .Now we're going to mount a military operation
to deal with the problem.. ."

Karl: "David Sanger of the New York Times says that the
Israelis came to you - came to the administration in
the final months and asked for certain things,
bunker-buster bombs, air-to-air refueling capability,
over-flight rights, and that basically the
administration dithered, did not give the Israelis a
response. Was that a mistake?"

Cheney: "I can't get into it still. I'm sure a lot of
those discussions are still very sensitive."

Karl: "Let me ask you: Did you advocate a harder line,
including in the military area, in those final months?"

Cheney: "Usually."

Karl: "And with respect to Iran?"

Cheney: "Well, I made public statements to the effect
that I felt very strongly that we had to have the
military option, that it had to be on the table, that
it had to be a meaningful option, and that we might
well have to resort to military force in order to deal
with the threat that Iran represented. . [But] we never
got to the point where the President had to make a
decision one way or the other."

* Renewed pressures

Clearly, those pressures have not disappeared during
the first 13 months of the Obama administration. Today,
it appears that Mullen has replaced Fallon as the
principal military obstacle to exercising the war
option against Iran.

From his recent demeanor, as well as his many
statements since he became the country.s most senior
officer, it is apparent that Mullen does not believe
that a "preventive war" against Iran would be worth the
horrendous cost.

Washington rhetoric, echoed by the many stenographers
of the Fawning Corporate Media over the past eight
years, has brought a veneer of respectability to the
international crime of aggressive war, as long as done
or sanctioned by the United States.

With nodding approval from the FCM, Bush and Cheney
sold the notion that such attacks can be justified to
"prevent" some future hypothetical threat to the United
States or its allies, the supposed rationale for
invading Iraq in 2003.

Clearly, the Obama administration has not fully backed
away from such thinking.

While in Qatar on Feb. 14, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton expressed concern over what she called
"accumulating evidence" of an Iranian attempt to pursue
a nuclear weapon, not because it "directly threaten[s]
the United States, but [because] it directly threatens
a lot of our friends" - read Israel.

Mullen, for his part, seems acutely aware that the
Constitution he has sworn to defend makes no provision
for the kind of war he might be sucked into to defend
Israel. When he studied at the Naval Academy, his
professors apparently were still teaching that the
Constitution.s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2)
establishes that treaties ratified by the Senate become
the "supreme law of the land."

It would be, pure and simple, a flagrant violation of a
supreme law of the land, the Senate-ratified United
Nations Charter, for the United States to join in an
unprovoked assault on Iran without the approval of the
UN Security Council, which surely would not go along.

Adm. Mullen also appears to be one of the few Americans
aware that there is no mutual defense treaty between
the United States and Israel and, thus, the U.S. has no
legal obligation to jump to Israel.s defense if it
ignites war with Iran.

Now you may scoff. "Everyone knows," you will say, that
political realities in America dictate that the U.S.
military must defend Israel no matter who started a

Still, there was a time - after the 1967 Israeli-Arab
war when Israel first occupied the Palestinian
territories - that the U.S. did take soundings
regarding the possibility of a mutual defense treaty,
in the expectation that this might introduce more calm
into the area by giving the Israelis a greater sense of

But the Israelis turned the overture down cold. Such
treaties, you see, require internationally recognized
boundaries and Israel did not want any part of parting
with the territories it had just seized militarily.

Besides, mutual defense treaties usually impose on both
parties an obligation to inform the other if one
decides to attack a third country. Israel wanted no
part of that either.

This virtually unknown background helps to explain why
the lack of a treaty of mutual defense is more than a
picayune academic point.

* Why is Mullen worried?

Yet, if Adm. Mullen is an old hand at reining in the
Israelis, why is he so visibly worried at present? He.s
had experience in reading the riot act to the Israelis.
So what could be so different now?

Last time, in mid-2008, Cheney and Abrams were arguing
for an aggressive military posture toward Iran but lost
the argument to Mullen and his senior commanders, who -
in the final days of the Bush administration - won the
backing of President Bush.

When former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed intent on
starting hostilities with Iran before Bush and Cheney
left office, Bush ordered Adm. Mullen to Israel to tell
the Israelis, in no uncertain terms, don.t do it.
Mullen gladly rose to the occasion; actually, he outdid

With Bush.s full support, Mullen told the Israelis to
disabuse themselves of the notion that US military
support would be knee-jerk automatic if Israel somehow
provoked open hostilities with Iran.

We also learned from the Israeli press that Mullen went
so far as to warn the Israelis not to even think about
another incident at sea like the Israeli attack on the
USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, which left 34 American
crew killed and more than 170 wounded.

Never before had a senior U.S. official braced Israel
so blatantly about the Liberty incident, which was
covered up unconscionably by Lyndon B. Johnson.s
administration, the Congress, and by the Navy itself.

The lesson the Israelis took away from the Liberty
incident was that they could get away with murder,
literally, and walk free because of political realities
in the United States. Never again, said Mullen. He
could not have raised a more neuralgic issue.

So, again, what.s different about today? How to account
for Mullen.s decision to keep expressing his worries
about "unintended consequences"?
I believe the admiral fears that things are about to
spin out of control. Whether there will be war does not
depend on Mullen - or even Obama. It depends on Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And Mullen does well
to be worried.

* Netanyahu.s impression of Obama

It is altogether likely that Netanyahu has concluded
that Barack Obama is - in the vernacular - a wuss. Why,
for example, does the President keep sending an endless
procession of the most senior U.S. officials to Tel
Aviv to plead with their Israeli counterparts: Please,
pretty please, don.t start a war with Iran.

Loose-cannon Vice President Joe Biden arrives on
Monday, hopefully with clearer instructions than when
he blithely told ABC on July 4, 2009, that Israel is a
"sovereign nation" and thus "entitled" to launch a
military strike against Iran, adding that Washington
would make no effort to dissuade the Israeli

Will Biden manage to keep his foot out of his mouth
this time, or will his nearly four decades of
experience in the U.S. Senate - learning how to
position himself politically in regards to Israel -
again reassert itself?

It is a safe bet that Netanyahu is wryly amused at such
obsequious buffoonery. But his impression of Obama.s
backbone - or lack thereof - is key.

The Israeli Prime Minister must be drawing some lessons
from Obama.s aversion to leveraging the $3 billion a
year the U.S. gives to Israel. Why doesn.t he simply
pick up the phone and warn me himself, Netanyahu might
be asking himself.

Is Obama so deathly afraid of the powerful Likud Lobby
that he cannot bring himself to call me? Is the
President afraid his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel,
might listen in and leak it to neoconservative pundits
like the Washington Post.s Dana Milbank?

Netanyahu has had ample time to size up the President.
Their initial encounter in May 2009 reminded me very
much of the disastrous meeting in Vienna between
another young American president and Nikita Khrushchev
in early June 1961.

The Soviets took the measure of President John Kennedy,
and a result was the Cuban missile crisis which brought
the world as close as it has ever come, before or
since, to nuclear destruction.

The Israeli Prime Minister has found it possible to
thumb his nose at Obama.s repeated pleas for a halt in
illegal construction of Israeli settlements in the
occupied territories - without consequence. Moreover,
Netanyahu has watched Obama cave in time after time -
on domestic, as well as international issues.

Netanyahu styles himself as sitting in the catbird.s
seat of the relationship, largely because of the Likud
Lobby.s unparalleled influence with U.S. lawmakers and
opinion makers - not to mention the entrée the Israelis
enjoy to the chief executive himself by having one of
their staunchest allies, Rahm Emanuel, in position as
White House chief of staff. In the intelligence
business, we might call that an "agent of influence."

Emanuel.s father, Benjamin Emanuel, was born in
Jerusalem and served in the Irgun, the pre-independence
Zionist guerrilla organization. During the 1991 Persian
Gulf War, Rahm Emanuel, then in his early 30s, traveled
to Israel as a civilian volunteer to work with the
Israeli Defense Forces. He served in one of the IDF.s
northern bases.

* Mullen.s worries

So, Netanyahu is supremely confident of the solidity of
his position with the movers and shakers in Congress,
Washington opinion makers, and even within the Obama
administration, and he gives off signs of being
singularly underwhelmed by the President.

These factors enhance the possibility Netanyahu will
opt for the kind of provocation that would confront
Obama with a Hobson.s choice of either joining an
Israeli attack on Iran or facing dire political
consequences at home.

And so Mullen continues to worry - not only about
"unintended consequences," but about what might be
accurately described as intended consequences, as well.
The most immediate of these could involve
mouse-trapping Obama into committing U.S. forces to war
provoked with Iran.

And for those fond of saying that "everything is on the
table," be advised that this would go in spades in this

Very little seems outlandish these days. Remember
Seymour Hersh.s report about Cheney.s office conjuring
up plots as to how best to trigger a war with Iran?
Hersh said:

"The one that interested me [Hersh] the most was why
don.t we build - we in our shipyard - build four or
five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy
Seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of
our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a

In other words, another Tonkin Gulf incident, like the
one that President Johnson used to justify a massive
escalation in Vietnam.

Only a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin in the Strait of
Hormuz could be even more problematic, given the
waterway's vital role as a supply route for oil tankers
necessary for maintaining the world.s economy.

The navigable part of the Strait of Hormuz is narrow,
and things often go bump in the night without trying.
For example:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - On the evening of
Jan. 8, 2007, a US nuclear-powered submarine collided
with a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz,
through which 40 percent of the world's oil supplies
travel, officials said. The collision between the USS
Newport News and the Japanese-flagged motor vessel
Mogamigawa occurred at approximately 10:15 in the
evening (local time) in the Strait of Hormuz while the
submarine was transiting submerged.

AP, March 20, 2009: "The USS Hartford nuclear submarine
and the amphibious USS New Orleans collided in the
waters between Iran and the Arabian peninsula today.
Fifteen sailors were slightly injured aboard the
Hartford.the New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank,
spilling 25,000 gallons of diesel..The ships were on
routine security patrols in a busy shipping route."

Think back also to the bizarre accounts of the incident
involving swarming Iranian boats and U.S. naval ships
in the Strait of Hormuz on Jan. 6, 2008.

* Preventing preventive war

The Persian Gulf would be an ideal locale for Israel to
mount a provocation eliciting Iranian retaliation that
could, in turn, lead to a full-scale Israeli attack on
Iran.s nuclear-related sites.

Painfully aware of that possible scenario, Adm. Mullen
noted at a July 2, 2008, press conference, that
military-to-military dialogue could "add to a better
understanding" between the U.S. and Iran.

If Mullen.s worries are to be taken as genuine (and I
believe they are), it would behoove him to resurrect
that idea and formally propose such dialogue to the
He is the U.S. government.s senior military officer and
should not let himself be stymied by neoconservative
partisans more interested in regime change in Tehran
than in working out a modus vivendi and reduction of

The following two modest proposals could go a long way
toward avoiding an armed confrontation with Iran -
whether accidental, or provoked by those who may
actually wish to precipitate hostilities and involve
the U.S.

1 - Establish a direct communications link between top
military officials in Washington and Tehran, in order
to reduce the danger of accident, miscalculation or
covert attack.

2 - Launch immediate negotiations by top Iranian and
American naval officers to conclude an incidents-at-sea

A communications link has historically proven its merit
during times of high tension. The Cuban missile crisis
of 1962 underscored the need for instantaneous
communications at senior levels, and a "hot line"
between Washington and Moscow was established the
following year.

That direct link played a crucial role, for example, in
preventing the spread of war in the Middle East during
the Six-Day War in early June 1967.

Another useful precedent is the "Incidents-at-Sea"
agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, signed
in Moscow in May 1972. That period was another time of
considerable tension between the two countries,
including several inadvertent naval encounters that
could well have escalated. The agreement sharply
reduced the likelihood of such incidents.

I believe it would be difficult for American and
Iranian leaders alike to oppose measures that make such
good sense. Press reports show that top U.S. commanders
in the Persian Gulf have favored such steps. And, as
indicated above, Adm. Mullen has already appealed for
military-to-military dialogue.

In the present circumstances, it has become
increasingly urgent to discuss seriously how the United
States and Iran might avoid a conflict started by
accident, miscalculation or provocation. Neither the
U.S. nor Iran can afford to allow an avoidable incident
at sea to spin out of control.

With a modicum of mutual trust, these common-sense
actions might be able to win wide and prompt acceptance
by leaders in both countries.

-- Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the
publishing ministry of the Church of the Saviour in
inner-city Washington. He was in Moscow in 1972 during
President Richard Nixon.s first visit to Russia, when
the US-Soviet Incidents-at-Sea agreement was signed
together with several key arms control agreements. A
27-year veteran analyst at the CIA, he is co-founder of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Source: Middle East Online

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posted by u2r2h at 3:52 PM


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