Monday, November 20, 2006

Does Gates pick mean accepting a nuclear Iran?

Does Gates pick mean accepting a nuclear Iran?
Posted: November 9, 2006 by Jerome Corsi

President Bush's decision to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with Robert M. Gates signals to experienced Iran observers that the Bush White House is about to shift direction once again in Iranian foreign policy, moving back to the type of "constructive engagement" strategy that typified the failed Clinton administration policy toward Iran as originated by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
The nomination also suggests stronger Council on Foreign Relations influence on White House thinking than previously recognized.
What is the evidence for these conclusions? In 2004, Gates co-chaired, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Council on Foreign Relations task force report entitled, "Iran: Time for a New Approach." Brzezinski was best known for his role as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. The main point of the Gates- Brzezinski task force was to advocate a policy of "limited or selective engagement with the current Iranian government."
(Column continues below)
The language of the Gates- Brzezinski task force could easily have been drawn directly from the foreign policy of Carter as advised by Brzezinski, Clinton under Madame Albright's tutelage, or even Richard Nixon as counseled by Henry Kissinger. Consider the following:
A political dialogue with Iran should not be deferred until such a time as the deep differences over Iranian nuclear ambitions and its invidious involvement with regional conflicts have been resolved. Rather, the process of selective political engagement itself represents a potentially effective path for addressing those differences. Just as the United States maintains a constructive relationship with China (and earlier did so with the Soviet Union) while strongly opposing certain aspects of its internal and international policies, Washington should approach Iran with a readiness to explore areas of common interests, while continuing to contest objectionable policies.
The expected result of the constructive engagement would be to bring Iran into a constructive international dialogue designed to resolve differences. Again, here is the language from the task force report:
Ultimately, any real rapprochement with Tehran can only occur in the context of meaningful progress on the most urgent U.S. concerns surrounding nuclear weapons, terrorism and regional stability.
Instead of arriving at the type of "grand bargain" with Iran that John Kerry pressed during his failed 2004 presidential campaign, the Gates-Brzezinski CFR task force called for "selectively engaging Iran on issues where U.S. and Iranian interests converge."
The growing CFR influence on the Bush foreign policy is consistent with the growing influence of Kissinger on the Bush White House. Kissinger is a CFR luminary who the administration now acknowledges has been a recent frequent guest at the White House for private talks with the president. Another CFR notable, James Baker III, is now heading Bush's Iraq Study Team.
With the appointment of Condoleezza Rice, a James Baker protégé, to be secretary of state at the start of Bush's second term, the administration changed policy to support negotiations with Iran to be led by the EU-3 of France, Germany and the UK, together with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Two years later, those negotiations have predictably stalled in the U.N. Security Council where permanent members Russia and China, both allies of Iran, have blocked any meaningful sanctions.
That Iran under President Ahmadinejad has resumed uranium enrichment in open defiance of the EU-3, the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council should be abundant evidence that negotiations with Tehran will not succeed, unless the negotiations are premised on accepting Iran's asserted right "to pursue the full fuel cycle," which translates to accepting continued uranium enrichment by Iran on Iranian soil.
Despite the failure of these negotiations, the Bush administration appears to be preparing for direct talks with Iran, designed to implement the strategy of constructive engagement.
Notable on the Gates-Brzezinski CFR task force was Frank Carlucci, the former secretary of defense in the Reagan administration who went on to be a founding principal of the Carlyle Group. Financial ties between the Carlyle Group and both George H. W. Bush and Kissinger Associates serve as further backdrop for the interlacing relationships about to play out in the anticipated foreign policy shift the Bush administration is contemplating with regards to Iran.
The appointment of Gates signals an end to any possibility of utilizing a strategy of engineering regime change within Iran, following the path President Reagan utilized to bring down the Soviet Union.
Despite President Bush signing the Iran Freedom Support Act in September 2006, the State Department still has refused to make regime change the official U.S. policy toward Iran.
The State Department also continues to sit upon the millions of dollars Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., have inserted into legislation for the State Department to disburse to non-governmental organizations dedicated to supporting democracy movements within Iran.
Today, the White House disclosed that consideration of the Gates nomination was seriously considered last weekend, giving context to reports coming out of Iran that talks with the U.S. would be considered.
Responding to reports that U.S. and Iraqi officials have suggested U.S.-Iranian talks might take place on regional developments, Iran's foreign minister spokesman, Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, told reporters Monday that "if we receive any formal offer in this regard, we will consider it."
Experienced Iran observers such as Amir Taheri have long counseled that negotiating with the Ahmadinejad regime is unlikely to produce anticipated favorable results. Rejecting a central tenet of the Gates-Brzezinski CFR task force report, Taheri argues that Ahmadinejad's presidency reflects a second phase of the Iranian revolution in which the Shiite regime anticipates regional dominance.
Taheri notes that Iran under Ahmadinejad has continued to finance and re-arm both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza. Writing in the November 2006 issue of Commentary, Taheri makes a strong argument that internal divisions in Iran could even today be exploited by the type of regime change efforts the Reagan administration applied to topple the Soviet Union.
While the Bush administration is likely to resist the conclusion, a shift of policy to engage in direct talks with Iran probably signals a Bush administration acceptance of Iran's continued progress toward nuclear weapons. Iran is unlikely to accept talks with the United States on any other basis than a "no conditions" acceptance of Tehran's current uranium enrichment program at Natanz.

China sub stalked U.S. fleet-US Gov't Allows Chinese tours of US Military Facilities

at Washington Times

A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected, The Washington Times has learned. The surprise encounter highlights China's continuing efforts to prepare for a future conflict with the U.S., despite Pentagon efforts to try to boost relations with Beijing's communist-ruled military. The submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships also is an embarrassment to the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China aimed at improving relations between the two nations' militaries. Disclosure of the incident comes as Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, is making his first visit to China. The four-star admiral was scheduled to meet senior Chinese military leaders during the weeklong visit, which began over the weekend. According to the defense officials, the Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk undetected and surfaced within five miles of the carrier Oct. 26. The surfaced submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight by one of the carrier group's planes. The Kitty Hawk battle group includes an attack submarine and anti-submarine helicopters that are charged with protecting the warships from submarine attack. According to the officials, the submarine is equipped with Russian-made wake-homing torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles. The Kitty Hawk and several other warships were deployed in ocean waters near Okinawa at the time, as part of a routine fall deployment program. The officials said Chinese submarines rarely have operated in deep water far from Chinese shores or shadowed U.S. vessels. A Pacific Command spokesman declined to comment on the incident, saying details were classified. Pentagon spokesmen also declined to comment. The incident is a setback for the aggressive U.S.-China military exchange program being promoted by Adm. Fallon, who has made several visits to China in recent months in an attempt to develop closer ties. However, critics of the program in the Pentagon say China has not reciprocated and continues to deny U.S. military visitors access to key facilities, including a Beijing command center.

In contrast, Chinese military visitors have been invited to military exercises and sensitive U.S. facilities. Additionally, military intelligence officials said Adm. Fallon has restricted U.S. intelligence-gathering activities against China, fearing that disclosure of the activities would upset relations with Beijing. The restrictions are hindering efforts to know more about China's military buildup, the officials said. "This is a harbinger of a stronger Chinese reaction to America's military presence in East Asia," said Richard Fisher, a Chinese military specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, who called the submarine incident alarming. "Given the long range of new Chinese sub-launched anti-ship missiles and those purchased from Russia, this incident is very serious," he said. "It will likely happen again, only because Chinese submarine captains of 40 to 50 new modern submarines entering their navy will want to test their mettle against the 7th Fleet." Pentagon intelligence officials say China's military buildup in recent years has produced large numbers of submarines and surface ships, seeking to control larger portions of international waters in Asia, a move U.S. officials fear could restrict the flow of oil from the Middle East to Asia in the future. Between 2002 and last year, China built 14 new submarines, including new Song-class vessels and several other types, both diesel- and nuclear-powered. Since 1996, when the United States dispatched two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan in a show of force, Beijing also has bought and built weapons designed specifically to attack U.S. aircraft carriers and other warships. "The Chinese have made it clear that they understand the importance of the submarine in any kind of offensive or defensive strategy to deal with a military conflict," an intelligence official said recently. In late 2004, China dispatched a Han-class submarine to waters near Guam, Taiwan and Japan. Japan's military went on emergency alert after the submarine surfaced in Japanese waters. Beijing apologized for the incursion. The Pentagon's latest annual report on Chinese military power stated that China is investing heavily in weapons designed "to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific." It could not be learned whether the U.S. government lodged a protest with China's government over the incident or otherwise raised the matter in official channels.

Putin tried to kill my friend, claims Russian billionaire

at UK Telegraph, multiple authors

Friends of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian defector, told The Sunday Telegraph last night of their horror at seeing him in hospital after he was poisoned.

Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian billionaire who has known Mr Litvinenko for 10 years, accused President Vladimir Putin of being behind the attack.
Mr Berezovsky, who visited his friend in hospital on Friday, said: "I couldn't believe it because he looked 10 years older than the last time I saw him and that was only a couple of weeks ago. He has lost all his hair and is completely bald."
Mr Berezovsky has no doubts that his friend was targeted by agents on behalf of Mr Putin.
"I know people in Britain find it difficult to believe that someone who is a leader of a G8 country and someone who struts across the world stage as a democrat could order something like this to be done," he said. "But people need to understand he is a bandit."
Scotland Yard is investigating how Mr Litvinenko, a former colonel in the Russian secret service and a fierce critic of Mr Putin, was poisoned. The 50-year-old, who used to work for the Federal Security Bureau (FSB, the former KGB), is feared to be the latest victim of the Russian government.
Mr Litvinenko is believed to have been targeted when he met a female journalist at Itsu, a Japanese restaurant in Piccadilly, London. She claimed to have information on the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, 48, the outspoken journalist who was shot dead at her Moscow apartment last month. Mr Litvinenko is thought to have been poisoned with thallium, a colourless and odourless liquid that is used to kill rats.
The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that he was examined in hospital by Professor John Henry, a British toxicologist who two years ago was one of the first to confirm that Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian president, had been poisoned during the election campaign. After being poisoned, Mr Yushchenko's face blistered violently.
Mr Litvinenko, who defected six years ago and became a British citizen last month, fell ill soon after meeting his contact on November 1 and has been transferred from one London hospital to another.
His friends believe the woman he met may have been a genuine contact. However, they suspect opponents discovered the venue for their meeting and slipped the poison into his food or drink before or during his meal.
A friend said: "Alexander cannot be certain he was poisoned in the restaurant but that is the most likely scenario." There is no suggestion that Itsu or its staff are involved.
The poisoning of Mr Litvinenko has echoes of the killing of Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian defector, who was poisoned by a pellet inserted into his leg from the tip of an umbrella in London in 1978.
A respected source in Moscow said: "The Russian government consider Litvinenko to be an enemy and a traitor. He is a critic of the president and has questioned whether the Chechens were really behind the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999 which killed 300 people." The bombings were blamed on Chechen rebels, prompting Mr Putin to order an assault on the Chechen capital, Grozny, which left thousands dead.
Mr Litvinenko came to prominence at a press conference in Moscow in 1998. Flanked by colleagues who concealed their identities with balaclavas, he claimed that the KGB had been ordered to assassinate Mr Berezovsky, who had helped in Mr Putin's rise to power.
In 2002, during his absence, Mr Litvinenko was convicted of abuse of office and given a suspended sentence of three and a half years.
Russians who speak out against Mr Putin's administration – especially journalists – fear for their lives. When Ms Politkovskaya was gunned down in the lift of her apartment block in Moscow last month, she was the 13th journalist to be murdered. She ran a relentless campaign exposing corruption in the army and its brutal reign in Chechnya.
Since her assassination, the Committee to Protect Journalists has disclosed that Russia has become the third most dangerous place in the world to work: only in Iraq and Algeria have more reporters been murdered. What is perhaps more chilling is that not one of the 13 murders of journalists has been solved.
When Mr Putin came to power he declared: "Our press is free and forever will be." The honeymoon did not last. Instead of following a path to democracy, Mr Putin, a former head of the KGB, has reasserted the centralised Kremlin control of the Soviet era.