Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Still Preparing to Attack Iran: The Neoconservatives in the Obama Era

Still Preparing to Attack Iran: The Neoconservatives in the Obama Era

Tuesday 02 December 2008

by: Robert Dreyfuss,

Commentary by William O. Beeman: Robert Dreyfuss makes it clear that the neoconservatives bent on attacking Iran are not going to give up just because Barak Obama has been elected President. His cynical portrait of Patrick Clawson's strategy to placate the American Public with insincere, empty talks with Iran just to be able to say, "we tried!" before dropping the bombs, shows just how sick organizations such as WINEP and AEI really are in their obsession with Iran. Iran is waiting for the United States to acknowledge its inalienable rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, rights which include the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes. Iranians are proud people, and they will not be treated as a nation less than Pakistan or India, who have been given a pass by the United States on nuclear development, despite frightening violence in their borders. Until the United States stops targeting Iran for exceptional treatment, the Iranians are not going to cooperate with American demands. Notably, they are cooperating fully with the IAEA, whom they respect as a bona fide international agency.

What, exactly, does Barack Obama's mild-mannered choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, former Senator Tom Daschle, have to do with neocons who want to bomb Iran?

A familiar coalition of hawks, hardliners, and neoconservatives expects Barack Obama's proposed talks with Iran to fail - and they're already proposing an escalating set of measures instead. Some are meant to occur alongside any future talks. These include steps to enhance coordination with Israel, tougher sanctions against Iran, and a region-wide military buildup of U.S. strike forces, including the prepositioning of military supplies within striking distance of that country.

Once the future negotiations break down, as they are convinced will happen, they propose that Washington quickly escalate to war-like measures, including a U.S. Navy-enforced embargo on Iranian fuel imports and a blockade of that country's oil exports. Finally, of course, comes the strategic military attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran that so many of them have wanted for so long.

It's tempting to dismiss the hawks now as twice-removed from power: first, figures like John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith were purged from top posts in the Bush administration after 2004; then the election of Barack Obama and the announcement Monday of his centrist, realist-minded team of establishment foreign policy gurus seemed to nail the doors to power shut for the neocons, who have bitterly criticized the president-elect's plans to talk with Iran, withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, and abandon the reckless Global War on Terrorism rhetoric of the Bush era.

"Kinetic Action" Against Iran

When it comes to Iran, however, it's far too early to dismiss the hawks. To be sure, they are now plying their trade from outside the corridors of power, but they have more friends inside the Obama camp than most people realize. Several top advisers to Obama - including Tony Lake, UN Ambassador-designate Susan Rice, Tom Daschle, and Dennis Ross, along with leading Democratic hawks like Richard Holbrooke, close to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden or Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton - have made common cause with war-minded think-tank hawks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and other hardline institutes.

Last spring, Tony Lake and Susan Rice, for example, took part in a WINEP "2008 Presidential Task Force" study which resulted in a report entitled, "Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge." The Institute, part of the Washington-based Israel lobby, was founded in coordination with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and has been vigorously supporting a confrontation with Iran. The task force report, issued in June, was overseen by four WINEP heavyweights: Robert Satloff, WINEP's executive director, Patrick Clawson, its chief Iran analyst, David Makovsky, a senior fellow, and Dennis Ross, an adviser to Obama who is also a WINEP fellow.

Endorsed by both Lake and Rice, the report opted for an alarmist view of Iran's nuclear program and proposed that the next president set up a formal U.S.-Israeli mechanism for coordinating policy toward Iran (including any future need for "preventive military action"). It drew attention to Israeli fears that "the United States may be reconciling itself to the idea of 'living with an Iranian nuclear bomb,'" and it raised the spurious fear that Iran plans to arm terrorist groups with nuclear weapons.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with consultations between the United States and Israel. But the WINEP report is clearly predisposed to the idea that the United States ought to give undue weight to Israel's inflated concerns about Iran. And it ignores or dismisses a number of facts: that Iran has no nuclear weapon, that Iran has not enriched uranium to weapons grade, that Iran may not have the know-how to actually construct a weapon even if, sometime in the future, it does manage to acquire bomb-grade material, and that Iran has no known mechanism for delivering such a weapon.

WINEP is correct that the United States must communicate closely with Israel about Iran. Practically speaking, however, a U.S.-Israeli dialogue over Iran's "nuclear challenge" will have to focus on matters entirely different from those in WINEP's agenda. First, the United States must make it crystal clear to Israel that under no circumstances will it tolerate or support a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran. Second, Washington must make it clear that if Israel were indeed to carry out such an attack, the United States would condemn it, refuse to widen the war by coming to Israel's aid, and suspend all military aid to the Jewish state. And third, Israel must get the message that, even given the extreme and unlikely possibility that the United States deems it necessary to go to war with Iran, there would be no role for Israel.

Just as in the wars against Iraq in 1990-1991 and 2003-2008, the United States hardly needs Israeli aid, which would be both superfluous and inflammatory. Dennis Ross and others at WINEP, however, would strongly disagree that Israel is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Ross, who served as Middle East envoy for George H.W. Bush and then Bill Clinton, was also a key participant in a September 2008 task force chaired by two former senators, Daniel Coats (R.-Ind.) and Chuck Robb (D.-Va.), and led by Michael Makovsky, brother of WINEP's David Makovsky, who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the heyday of the Pentagon neocons from 2002-2006. Robb, incidentally, had already served as the neocons' channel into the 2006 Iraq Study Group, chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton. According to Bob Woodward's latest book, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, it was Robb who insisted that the Baker-Hamilton task force include an option for a "surge" in Iraq.

The report of the Coats-Robb task force - "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development" - went far beyond the WINEP task force report that Lake and Rice signed off on. It concluded that any negotiations with Iran were unlikely to succeed and should, in any case, be short-lived. As the report put the matter, "It must be clear that any U.S.-Iranian talks will not be open-ended, but will be limited to a pre-determined time period so that Tehran does not try to 'run out the clock.'"

Anticipating the failure of the talks, the task force (including Ross) urged "prepositioning military assets," coupled with a "show of force" in the region. This would be followed almost immediately by a blockade of Iranian gasoline imports and oil exports, meant to paralyze Iran's economy, followed by what they call, vaguely, "kinetic action."

That "kinetic action" - a U.S. assault on Iran - should, in fact, be massive, suggested the Coats-Robb report. Besides hitting dozens of sites alleged to be part of Iran's nuclear research program, the attacks would target Iranian air defense and missile sites, communications systems, Revolutionary Guard facilities, key parts of Iran's military-industrial complex, munitions storage facilities, airfields, aircraft facilities, and all of Iran's naval facilities. Eventually, they say, the United States would also have to attack Iran's ground forces, electric power plants and electrical grids, bridges, and "manufacturing plants, including steel, autos, buses, etc."

This is, of course, a hair-raising scenario. Such an attack on a country that had committed no act of war against the United States or any of its allies would cause countless casualties, virtually destroy Iran's economy and infrastructure, and wreak havoc throughout the region. That such a high-level group of luminaries should even propose steps like these - and mean it - can only be described as lunacy. That an important adviser to President-elect Obama would sign on to such a report should be shocking, though it has received next to no attention.

Palling Around With the Neocons

At a November 6 forum at WINEP, Patrick Clawson, the erudite, neoconservative strategist who serves as the organization's deputy director for research, laid out the institute's view of how to talk to Iran in the Obama era. Doing so, he said, is critically important, but only to show the rest of the world that the United States has taken the last step for peace - before, of course, attacking. Then, and only then, will the United States have the legitimacy it needs to launch military action against Iran.

"What we've got to do is to show the world that we're making a big deal of engaging the Iranians," he said, tossing a bone to the new administration. "I'd throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into it." He advocates this approach only because he believes it won't work. "The principal target with these offers [to Iran] is not Iran," he adds. "The principal target of these offers is American public opinion and world public opinion."

The Coats-Robb report, Meeting the Challenge," was written by one of the hardest of Washington's neoconservative hardliners, Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. Rubin, who spent most of the years since 9/11 either working for AEI or, before and during the war in Iraq, for the Wolfowitz-Feith team at the Pentagon, recently penned a report for the Institute entitled: "Can A Nuclear Iran Be Deterred or Contained?" Not surprisingly, he believes the answer to be a resounding "no," although he does suggest that any effort to contain a nuclear Iran would certainly require permanent U.S. bases spread widely in the region, including in Iraq:

"If U.S. forces are to contain the Islamic Republic, they will require basing not only in GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries, but also in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Without a sizeable regional presence, the Pentagon will not be able to maintain the predeployed resources and equipment necessary to contain Iran, and Washington will signal its lack of commitment to every ally in the region. Because containment is as much psychological as physical, basing will be its backbone."

The Coats-Robb report was issued by a little-known group called the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). That organization, too, turns out to be interwoven with WINEP, not least because its foreign policy director is Michael Makovsky. Perhaps the most troubling participant in the Bipartisan Policy Center is Barack Obama's éminence grise and one of his most important advisers during the campaign, Tom Daschle, who is slated to be his secretary of health and human services. So far, Daschle has not repudiated BPC's provocative report.

Ross, along with Richard Holbrooke, recently made appearances amid another collection of superhawks who came together to found a new organization, United Against Nuclear Iran. UANI is led by Mark Wallace, the husband of Nicole Wallace, a key member of Senator John McCain's campaign team. Among UANI's leadership team are Ross and Holbrooke, along with such hardliners as Jim Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Fouad Ajami, the Arab-American scholar who is a principal theorist on Middle East policy for the neoconservative movement.

UANI is primarily a propaganda outfit. Its mission, it says, is to "inform the public about the nature of the Iranian regime, including its desire and intent to possess nuclear weapons, as well as Iran's role as a state sponsor of global terrorism, and a major violator of human rights at home and abroad" and to "heighten awareness nationally and internationally about the danger that a nuclear-armed Iran poses to the region and the world."

Barack Obama has, of course, repeatedly declared his intention to embark on a different path by opening talks with Iran. He's insisted that diplomacy, not military action, will be at the core of his approach to Tehran. During the election campaign, however, he also stated no less repeatedly that he will not take the threat of military action "off the table."

Organizations like WINEP, AIPAC, AEI, BPC, and UANI see it as their mission to push the United States toward a showdown with Iran. Don't sell them short. Those who believe that such a confrontation would be inconceivable under President Obama ought to ask Tony Lake, Susan Rice, Dennis Ross, Tom Daschle, and Richard Holbrooke whether they agree - and, if so, why they're still palling around with neoconservative hardliners.


Robert Dreyfuss, an independent journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, is a contributing editor at The Nation magazine, whose website hosts his The Dreyfuss Report, and has written frequently for Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the Washington Monthly. He is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Joint experts' statement on Iran' recommends sweeping changes to US policy

'Joint experts' statement on Iran' recommends sweeping changes to US policy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Commentary by William O. Beeman: This represents a consensus by all credible experts dealing with Iran. I fully subscribe to these remarks.


Editor's note: The following is a declaration put out by the American Foreign Policy Project, a group of top experts from across the political spectrum who work together to come up with policy ideas on the major foreign affairs issues facing the United States.

Despite recent glimmers of diplomacy, the United States and Iran remain locked in a cycle of threats and defiance that destabilizes the Middle East and weakens US national security.

Today, Iran and the United States are unable to coordinate campaigns against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, their common enemies. Iran is either withholding help or acting to thwart US interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Gaza. Within Iran, a looming sense of external threat has empowered hard-liners and given them both motive and pretext to curb civil liberties and further restrict democracy. On the nuclear front, Iran continues to enrich uranium in spite of binding UN resolutions, backed by economic sanctions, calling for it to suspend enrichment.

US efforts to manage Iran through isolation, threats and sanctions have been tried intermittently for more than two decades. In that time they have not solved any major problem in US-Iran relations, and have made most of them worse. Faced with the manifest failure of past efforts to isolate or economically coerce Iran, some now advocate escalation of sanctions or even military attack. But dispassionate analysis shows that an attack would almost certainly backfire, wasting lives, fomenting extremism and damaging the long-term security interests of both the US and Israel. And long experience has shown that prospects for successfully coercing Iran through achievable economic sanctions are remote at best.

Fortunately, we are not forced to choose between a coercive strategy that has clearly failed and a military option that has very little chance of success. There is another way, one far more likely to succeed: Open the door to direct, unconditional and comprehensive negotiations at the senior diplomatic level where personal contacts can be developed, intentions tested, and possibilities explored on both sides. Adopt policies to facilitate unofficial contacts between scholars, professionals, religious leaders, lawmakers and ordinary citizens. Paradoxical as it may seem amid all the heated media rhetoric, sustained engagement is far more likely to strengthen United States national security at this stage than either escalation to war or continued efforts to threaten, intimidate or coerce Iran.

Here are five key steps the United States should take to implement an effective diplomatic strategy with Iran:

1. Replace calls for regime change with a long-term strategy

Threats are not cowing Iran and the current regime in Tehran is not in imminent peril. But few leaders will negotiate in good faith with a government they think is trying to subvert them, and that perception may well be the single greatest barrier under US control to meaningful dialogue with Iran. The United States needs to stop the provocations and take a long-term view with this regime, as it did with the Soviet Union and China. We might begin by facilitating broad-ranging people-to-people contacts, opening a US interest section in Tehran, and promoting cultural exchanges.

2. Support human rights through effective, international means

While the United States is rightly concerned with Iran's worsening record of human rights violations, the best way to address that concern is through supporting recognized international efforts. Iranian human rights and democracy advocates confirm that American political interference masquerading as "democracy promotion" is harming, not helping, the cause of democracy in Iran.

3. Allow Iran a place at the table - alongside other key states - in shaping the future of Iraq, Afghanistan and the region.

This was the recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group with regard to Iraq. It may be counter-intuitive in today's political climate - but it is sound policy. Iran has a long-term interest in the stability of its neighbors. Moreover, the United States and Iran support the same government in Iraq and face common enemies (the Taliban and Al-Qaeda) in Afghanistan. Iran has shown it can be a valuable ally when included as a partner, and a troublesome thorn when not. Offering Iran a place at the table cannot assure cooperation, but it will greatly increase the likelihood of cooperation by giving Iran something it highly values that it can lose by non-cooperation. The United States might start by appointing a special envoy with broad authority to deal comprehensively and constructively with Iran (as opposed to trading accusations) and explore its willingness to work with the United States on issues of common concern.

4. Address the nuclear issue within the context of a broader US-Iran opening

Nothing is gained by imposing peremptory preconditions on dialogue. The United States should take an active leadership role in ongoing multilateral talks to resolve the nuclear impasse in the context of wide-ranging dialogue with Iran. Negotiators should give the nuclear talks a reasonable deadline, and retain the threat of tougher sanctions if negotiations fail. They should also, however, offer the credible prospect of security assurances and specific, tangible benefits such as the easing of US sanctions in response to positive policy shifts in Iran. Active US involvement may not cure all, but it certainly will change the equation, particularly if it is part of a broader opening.

5. Re-energize the Arab-Israeli peace process and act as an honest broker in that process

Israel's security lies in making peace with its neighbors. Any US moves towards mediating the Arab-Israeli crisis in a balanced way would ease tensions in the region, and would be positively received as a step forward for peace. As a practical matter, however, experience has shown that any long-term solution to Israel's problems with the Palestinians and Lebanon probably will require dealing, directly or indirectly, with Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran supports these organizations, and thus has influence with them. If properly managed, a US rapprochement with Iran, even an opening of talks, could help in dealing with Arab-Israeli issues, benefiting Israel as well as its neighbors.

Long-standing diplomatic practice makes clear that talking directly to a foreign government in no way signals approval of the government, its policies or its actions. Indeed, there are numerous instances in our history when clear-eyed US diplomacy with regimes we deemed objectionable - e.g., Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Libya and Iran itself (cooperating in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban after 9/11) - produced positive results in difficult situations.

After many years of mutual hostility, no one should expect that engaging Iran will be easy. It may prove impossible. But past policies have not worked, and what has been largely missing from US policy for most of the past three decades is a sustained commitment to real diplomacy with Iran. The time has come to see what true diplomacy can accomplish.

Annex: Basic Misconceptions about Iran

US policies towards Iran have failed to achieve their objectives. A key reason for their failure is that they are rooted in fundamental misconceptions about Iran. This annex addresses eight key misconceptions that have driven US policy in the wrong direction.

Myth # 1. President Ahmadinejad calls the shots on nuclear and foreign policy.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has grabbed the world's attention with his inflammatory and sometimes offensive statements. But he does not call the shots on Iran's nuclear and foreign policy. The ultimate decision-maker is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the commander-in-chief of Iran's forces. Despite his frequently hostile rhetoric aimed at Israel and the West, Khamenei's track record reveals a cautious decision-maker who acts after consulting advisors holding a range of views, including views sharply critical of Ahmadinejad. That said, it is clear that US policies and rhetoric have bolstered hard-liners in Iran, just as Ahmadinejad's confrontational rhetoric has bolstered hard-liners here.

Myth # 2. The political system of the Islamic Republic is frail and ripe for regime change.

In fact, there is currently no significant support within Iran for extra-constitutional regime change. Yes, there is popular dissatisfaction, but Iranians also recall the aftermath of their own revolution in 1979: lawlessness, mass executions, and the emigration of over half a million people, followed by a costly war. They have seen the outcome of US-sponsored regime change in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They want no part of it. Regime change may come to Iran, but it would be folly to bet on it happening soon.

Myth # 3. The Iranian leadership's religious beliefs render them undeterrable.

The recent history of Iran makes crystal clear that national self-preservation and regional influence - not some quest for martyrdom in the service of Islam - is Iran's main foreign policy goal. For example:

l In the 1990s, Iran chose a closer relationship with Russia over support for rebellious Chechen Muslims.

l Iran actively supported and helped to finance the US invasion of Afghanistan.

l Iran has ceased its efforts to export the Islamic revolution to other Persian Gulf states, in favor of developing good relations with the governments of those states.

l During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran took the pragmatic step of developing secret ties and trading arms with Israel, even as Iran and Israel denounced each other in public.

Myth # 4. Iran's current leadership is implacably opposed to the United States.

Iran will not accept preconditions for dialogue with the United States, any more than the United States would accept preconditions for talking to Iran. But Iran is clearly open to broad-ranging dialogue with the United States. In fact, it has made multiple peace overtures that the United States has rebuffed. Right after 9/11, Iran worked with the United States to get rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan, including paying for the Afghan troops serving under US command. Iran helped establish the US-backed government and then contributed more than $750 million to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Iran expressed interest in a broader dialogue in 2002 and 2003. Instead, it was labeled part of an "axis of evil."

In 2005, reform-minded President Khatami was replaced by the hardliner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the same Supreme Leader who authorized earlier overtures is still in office today and he acknowledged, as recently as January 2008, that "the day that relations with America prove beneficial for the Iranian nation, I will be the first one to approve of that." All this does not prove that Iran will bargain in good faith with us. But it does disprove the claim that we know for sure they will not.

Myth # 5. Iran has declared its intention to attack Israel in order to "wipe Israel off the map."

This claim is based largely on a speech by President Ahmadinejad on Oct. 26, 2005, quoting a remark by Ayatollah Khomeini made decades ago: "This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be wiped off/eliminated from the pages of history/our times." Both before and since, Ahmadinejad has made numerous other, offensive, insulting and threatening remarks about Israel and other nations - most notably his indefensible denial of the Holocaust.

However, he has been criticized within Iran for these remarks. Supreme Leader Khamenei himself has "clarified" that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country" and specifically that Iran will not attack Israel unless Iran is attacked first. Ahmadinejad also has made clear, or been forced to clarify, that he was referring to regime change through demographics (giving the Palestinians a vote in a unitary state), not war.

What we know is that Ahmadinejad's recent statements do not appear to have materially altered Iran's long-standing policy - which, for decades, has been to deny the legitimacy of Israel; to arm and aid groups opposing Israel in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank; but also, to promise to accept any deal with Israel that the Palestinians accept.

Myth # 6. US-sponsored "democracy promotion" can help bring about true democracy in Iran.

Instead of fostering democratic elements inside Iran, US-backed "democracy promotion" has provided an excuse to stifle them. That is why champions of human rights and democracy in Iran agree with the dissident who said, "The best thing the Americans can do for democracy in Iran is not to support it."

Myth # 7. Iran is clearly and firmly committed to developing nuclear weapons.

If Iraq teaches anything, it is the need to be both rigorous and honest when confronted with ambiguous evidence about WMDs. Yet once again we find proponents of conflict over-stating their case, this time by claiming that Iran has declared an intention to acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, Iranian leaders have consistently denied any such intention and even said that such weapons are "against Islam."

The issue is not what Iran is saying, but what it is doing, and here the facts are murky. We know that Iran is openly enriching uranium and learning to do it more efficiently, but claims this is only for peaceful use. There are detailed but disputed allegations that Iran secretly worked on nuclear weapons design before Ahmadinejad came to power, concerns that such work continues, and certainty that Iran is not cooperating fully with efforts to resolve the allegations. We also know that Iran has said it will negotiate on its enrichment program - without preconditions - and submit to intrusive inspections as part of a final deal. Past negotiations between Iran and a group of three European countries plus China and Russia have not gone anywhere, but the United States, Iran's chief nemesis, has not been active in those talks.

The facts viewed as a whole give cause for deep concern, but they are not unambiguous and in fact support a variety of interpretations: that Iran views enrichment chiefly as a source of national pride (akin to our moon landing); that Iran is advancing towards weapons capability but sees this as a bargaining chip to use in broader negotiations with the United States; that Iran is intent on achieving the capability to build a weapon on short notice as a deterrent to feared US or Israeli attack; or that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons to support aggressive goals. The only effective way to illuminate - and constructively alter - Iran's intentions is through skillful and careful diplomacy. History shows that sanctions alone are unlikely to succeed, and a strategy limited to escalating threats or attacking Iran is likely to backfire - creating or hardening a resolve to acquire nuclear weapons while inciting a backlash against us throughout the region.

Myth # 8. Iran and the United States have no basis for dialogue.

Those who favored refusing Iran's offers of dialogue in 2002 and 2003 - when they thought the US position so strong there was no need to talk - now assert that our position is so weak we cannot afford to talk. Wrong in both cases. Iran is eager for an end to sanctions and isolation, and needs access to world-class technology to bring new supplies of oil and gas online. Both countries share an interest in stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, which border Iran. Both support the Maliki government in Iraq, and face common enemies (the Taliban and Al-Qaeda) in Afghanistan. Both countries share the goal of combating narco-trafficking in the region. These opportunities exist, and the two governments have pursued them very occasionally in the past, but they have mostly been obscured in the belligerent rhetoric from both sides.

About the signatories: who they are and what they've done

l Ali Banuazizi

Professor of Political Science and Director, Islamic Civilization and Societies Program, Boston College. Dr. Banuazizi is the Past President of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and of the International Society for Iranian Studies. He served as the Editor of the Journal of Iranian Studies from 1968 to 1982. A leading expert on Iran and the Middle East Politics, he was a member of the Council of Foreign Relations' Task Force on Public Diplomacy.

l Mehrzad Boroujerdi

Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Founding Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program. Dr. Boroujerdi is the author of "Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism" (1996). His articles have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and more than a dozen edited books and Persian-language journals. He is the general editor of the "Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East" series published by Syracuse University Press and served for seven years (2000 to 2007) as the book review editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies. He is currently engaged in a major study of the current and next generation of political leaders in Iran.

l Juan R.I. Cole

Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Juan Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu, and has lived in various places in the Muslim world for extended periods of time. He also brings three decades of experience in studying and writing about contemporary Islamic movements and the relationship of the West and the Muslim world. His most recent book, "Engaging the Muslim World," will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in March 2009. He has a regular column at, and is a frequent guest commentator on national radio and television news shows.

l Ambassador James F. Dobbins.

Former Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Representative to the Afghan opposition in the wake of September 11, 2001. For over three decades, Ambassador Dobbins has served both Republican and Democratic administrations in diplomatic roles around the world, often in times of crisis. Immediately after September 11, 2001, he served as the Bush administration's Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Representative to the Afghan opposition, interacting successfully with the Iranians in a cooperative effort to topple the Taliban and promote the emergence of a friendly and democratic government in Kabul. His many other high-level posts include service as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe; Special Assistant to the President for the Western Hemisphere; Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for the Balkans; Ambassador to the European Community; and the Clinton Administration's Special Envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

l Rola el-Husseini.

Assistant Professor, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. Rola el-Husseini specializes in Lebanon and Shi'a political thought. She is finishing a book on elite politics in postwar Lebanon, along with a comparative study of the impact of Iran on Iraqi and Lebanese Shi'a political thought. At the Bush School, she teaches courses on Middle East Politics, Political Islam, and Authoritarianism in the Arab World.

l Farideh Farhi

Independent Researcher and Affiliate Graduate Faculty at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. Farideh Farhi is the author of "States and Urban-Based Revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua" along with numerous articles and book chapters on contemporary Iranian politics and foreign policy. She also authored the Asia Society's report on Iran's 2001 elections; the International Crisis Group's report on the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran; and, a soon to be published World Bank study, "Contested Governance and the Need for Reform: The Case of the Islamic Republic of Iran." She has taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Hawai'i; University of Tehran and Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. Her research sponsors include the United States Institute of Peace, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where she was recently a Public Policy Scholar. She travels widely and lectures regularly on Iranian politics and foreign relations at research institutions in Washington, D.C. and around the country.

l Geoffrey E. Forden

Research Associate in MIT's Program on Science, Technology and Society. Geoffrey Forden is among America's foremost experts on how proliferators acquire the know-how and industrial infrastructure to produce weapons of mass destruction. In 2002-2003, Dr. Forden served as the first Chief of Multidiscipline Analysis Section for UNMOVIC, the UN agency responsible for verifying and monitoring the dismantlement of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He has also served as a strategic weapons analyst in the National Security Division of the Congressional Budget Office.

l Hadi Ghaemi

Coordinator, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Hadi Ghaemi is the coordinator of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and an internationally recognized expert on the situation of human rights in Iran. Ghaemi's reports and writings have focused international attention on the Iranian government's repression of free speech and persecution of civil society activists. He works closely with human rights defenders inside Iran to document and report on human rights violations. In 2003, he received a research and writing grant from the MacArthur Foundation. He served as the Iran and UAE researcher for Human Rights Watch until 2007. Ghaemi received his Ph.D. in physics from Boston University in 1994, and he was on the faculty at the City University of New York until 2000.

l Philip Giraldi

Former CIA Counter-terrorism Specialist. Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain, where he was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992. As a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues he has appeared often on radio and TV, including "Good Morning America," "60 Minutes," MSNBC, NPR, BBC World News, FOX News, Polish National Television, Croatian National Television, al-Jazeera, and al-Arabiya. Currently, he is President of San Marco International, a consulting firm that specializes in international security management and risk assessment, and also a partner in Cannistraro Associates, a security consultancy located in McLean, Virginia.

l Farhad Kazemi

Professor of Politics and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University. As a leading scholar on issues of the Middle East, Dr. Kazemi is a member of the Advisory Group for Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World, appointed in 2003. He is also President of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, former President of the Society for Iranian Studies, and a leading member of such organizations as the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Atlantic Council.

l Stephen Kinzer

Author and award-winning foreign correspondent. Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents - primarily for the New York Times, where he worked for more than 20 years. He is the author of numerous books and articles focusing on Iran and the Middle East, including "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror" and "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." He now teaches journalism and political science at Northwestern University, contributes articles to the New York Review of Books and other periodicals, and writes a world affairs column for The Guardian.

l Ambassador William G. Miller

Senior Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Ambassador (ret.) William Green Miller has been a Senior Advisor for Search for Common Ground's US-Iran Program since 1998. The former US Ambassador to Ukraine (1993-1998) served six years in Iran as an FSO and fourteen years on Capitol Hill as staff director for three Senate committees. He served as President of the American Committee on US-Soviet relations and the International Foundation. Formerly an Associate Dean and professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Ambassador Miller is presently a Senior Policy Fellow the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

l Emile A. Nakhleh

Retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer and Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA. During his fifteen years of service at the CIA, Dr. Emile A. Nakhleh held a variety of key positions, including Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the Directorate of Intelligence and Chief of the Regional Analysis Unit in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis. Dr. Nakhleh was a founding member of the Senior Analytic Service and chaired the first SAS Council. He was awarded several senior intelligence commendation medals, including the Intelligence Commendation Medal (1997), the William Langer Award (2004), the Director's Medal (2004), and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal (2006). His research has focused on political Islam in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world as well as on political and educational reform, regime stability, and governance in the greater Middle East.

l Augustus Richard Norton

Professor of International Relations and Anthropology at Boston University. A. Richard Norton served as an advisor to the Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission), and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His research experience in the Middle East spans near three decades, including residences in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon. His current research interests include inter-sectarian relations in the Middle East, reformist Muslim thought, and strategies of political reform and opposition in authoritarian states. In the 1990s he headed a widely-cited three-year project funded by the Ford Foundation that examined the state-society relations in the Middle East and the question of civil society in the region. He is also a co-founder of the Boston Forum on the Middle East and the Conference Group on the Middle East.

l Richard Parker

Founder and Executive Director, American Foreign Policy Project; Professor, University of Connecticut School of Law. Dr. Parker is a professor at University of Connecticut School of Law and Founder and Executive Director of the new American Foreign Policy Project (AFPP). AFPP convenes large teams of top experts to collaboratively develop sound policy on the toughest national security and foreign policy issues of the day. It translates these policies into effective messages in ready-to-use talking point format, and then disseminates these messages to leaders, key influencers and the public through a variety of channels - briefings, traditional media, blogs, and a unique, highly-searchable website, Dr. Parker has served as Assistant General Counsel in the Office of the United States Trade Representative and Special Counsel to the Deputy Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency. He holds a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, a JD from Yale Law School, and a DPhil in International Relations from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

l Trita Parsi

Award-winning author; President, National Iranian-American Council. Trita Parsi is the author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States," which won the 2008 Silver Medal Recipient of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award. Fluent in Persian/Farsi, Dr. Parsi is regularly consulted by Western, Middle Eastern and Asian governments on Middle East affairs, and he is a co-founder and current President of the National Iranian American Council, a non-partisan, non-profit organization promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic life. His articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the numerous newspapers and magazines and he is a frequent commentor on radio and television news shows. He has also worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, serving in the Security Council handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and the General Assembly's Third Committee addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq. Dr. Parsi was born in Iran and grew up in Sweden.

l Ambassador Thomas Pickering

Vice-Chairman, Hills & Company; Former US Ambassador to the UN, Russia, Israel and other nations. Ambassador Pickering has had a career spanning five decades as a US diplomat, serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Jordan and El Salvador. He also served on assignments in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the US Foreign Service. He has held numerous other positions at the State Department, including Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Secretaries Rogers and Kissinger and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans, Environmental and Scientific Affairs. He is currently Vice-chairman of Hills & Company, an international consulting firm providing advice to US businesses on investment, trade, and risk assessment issues abroad, particularly in emerging market economies. He is based in Washington, DC.

l Barnett R. Rubin

Director of Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University; Former Special Advisor to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan. Barnett Rubin has written numerous books and articles on conflict prevention, state formation, and human rights. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Affairs, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. In late 2001, he served as Special Advisor to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan during the negotiations that produced the Bonn Agreement, and he also advised the United Nations on the drafting of the constitution of Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Compact, and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. He has served as the Director of the Center for Preventive Action, and Director, Peace and Conflict Studies, at the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the Director of the Center for the Study of Central Asia at Columbia University. Currently, he is Director of Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University, where he directs the program on the Reconstruction of Afghanistan.

l Gary G. Sick

Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University SIPA's Middle East Institute; Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at SIPA. Professor Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick is a Captain (Ret.) in the US Navy, with service in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. He was the deputy director for International Affairs at the Ford Foundation from 1982 to 1987, where he was responsible for programs relating to US foreign policy. He is also a member of the board (emeritus) of Human Rights Watch in New York and the chairman of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch/Middle East.

l John Tirman

Executive Director & Principal Research Scientist, Center for International Studies, MIT. Tirman is the author or co-author and editor of ten books on international affairs and US foreign policy, including "Terror, Insurgency, and States" (2007), "The Maze of Fear: Security & Migration After 9/1" (2004) and "By the Crusader's Sword: The Human Toll of American Wars" (forthcoming). His articles on Iran have appeared in a wide variety of periodicals, including the Boston Globe, Strategic Insights, and AlterNet, as well as reports published by MIT. He has organized projects on Iran, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and MIT, as well as a major historical research effort on the history of the US-Iran relationship in partnership with the National Security Archive and Brown University's Watson Institute.

l James Walsh

Research Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Walsh's research and writings focus on international security, and in particular, topics involving weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. He has testified before the United States Senate on the issue of nuclear terrorism as well as on Iran's nuclear program. He has also chaired the Harvard University International Working Group on Radiological Terrorism. Among his current projects are two series of dialogues on nuclear issues, one with representatives from North Korea and one with leading figures in Iran. He has appeared frequently in the media as an expert on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism issues, including more than 300 appearances on CNN. His most recent publications include a chapter on Iran's nuclear program in "Terrorist Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation: Strategies for Overlapping Dangers" and a chapter on nuclear weapons in "A Muslim-Christian Study and Action Guide to the Nuclear Weapons Danger." He has also published "Learning from Past Success: The NPT and the Future of Non-proliferation" for the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by Hans Blix (2006).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama's Iranian Opening--William O. Beeman (New America Media)

Obama’s Iranian Opening

New America Media, News Analysis, William O. Beeman, Posted: Nov 12, 2008
Editor’s note: Diplomacy between the United States and Iran has been at a standstill. President-elect Barack Obama has a great opportunity to end the cold war between the two nations. NAM contributing writer William O. Beeman is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

President-elect Barack Obama has a serious opening to improving relations with Iran, if he knows how to exercise it. Unfortunately, his transition advisory team is weak on Middle East affairs, and almost non-existent on Iran. This leaves the president-elect prey to the same forces that have tried to sabotage progress on rapprochement with Iran during the Bush administration.

Paradoxically the Bush administration in its last days is flirting with a thaw on Iranian relations. They have been giving serious consideration to establishing a real United States Interests Section in Tehran. Iranians have had an Interests Section in Washington for decades. By contrast, the Swiss Embassy has represented U.S. interests with Swiss personnel.

The difficulty facing Obama is that U.S.-Iranian relations have fallen into the general question of Israel’s difficulty with the Palestinian community. This line has been promulgated by Israel, and also by American lobbyists for Israel, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Any move toward rapprochement with Iran is now seen as anti-Israel. In his appearance before AIPAC during the campaign, President-elect Obama vowed to protect Israel, putting him at odds with an earlier pledge to talk to Iran “without preconditions.”

In fact, Iran poses no danger to Israel, a fact acknowledged by outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as Kadima Party leader and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who said as much in private talks reported by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in October 2007.

Obama’s successful election has created an unprecedented positive climate in Iran toward the United States. This is based not only on the substantive hope for change, but also on the person of Barack Hussein Obama. Symbolism matters. President-elect Obama’s middle name, which was used to induce suspicion among the American public by Republicans during the presidential campaign, is pure gold in Iran. Imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammad, is the central religious figure in Shi’ism. His martyrdom in the 7th Century is the centerpiece in religious observance in Iran. Moreover, there are prophetic rumors flying in Iran of a new “dark” leader coming from the West to bring reform and salvation.

Merely talking to Iran would not pose a problem. Iran’s detractors, however, object strenuously to going to the conference table without making Iran pay a price up front.

It is important to clarify what the portmanteau concept "without preconditions" really refers to. Every time the Bush administration has professed its willingness to talk to Iran, it has made it a precondition that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. Iran did this unilaterally in 2003, and – guess what – the Bush administration still wouldn't talk to them, having utterly rebuffed the famous proposal sent to them via the Swiss embassy.

The call for Iranian suspension of uranium enrichment was clearly stated in Security Council Resolution 1696 not as an end in itself, but as a confidence-building measure to assure Iran's non-violation of Article IV of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), while asserting Iran's "inalienable right" (NPT preamble) to peaceful nuclear development, including uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. Because there has never been any proof of an Iranian nuclear arms program, and the U.S. NIE report of 2007 asserted that Iran had no nuclear arms program, the resolution is effectively moot. Moreover it is not "international law" as the Bush administration has asserted. For this reason the precondition that Iran cease uranium enrichment before the United States would talk to it is anathema to Iran. It is tantamount to de facto deprivation of what Iranians see as their inalienable right under the NPT.

If the Obama administration would drop this sole precondition—there has never been any other— Iran's nuclear program could still be on the table for discussion, and Iran-U.S. relations would move forward.

William O. Beeman is president of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association, and has conducted research in Iran for more than 30 years. The second edition of his book, "The 'Great Satan' vs. the 'Mad Mullahs': How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other," has been published by the University of Chicago Press.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Brown Daily Herald: Brown, Military's Research Connections Up for Debate: Broad Range of Faculty Stances

Brown, military's research connections up for debate
Broad range of faculty stances

Alex Roehrkasse

Issue date: 11/10/08 Section: Campus News

A Human Terrain System soldier conducting interviews in Afghanistan. Brown professors have both participated in and criticized the program.
Media Credit: File Photo
A Human Terrain System soldier conducting interviews in Afghanistan. Brown professors have both participated in and criticized the program.

The question of the military's support for university research has been a sticking point in ethical discourse among academics at least since World War II. Then, researchers in the physical sciences engaged in intense debates over the ethical implications of their work in developing the atomic bomb.

Now, with the recent inception of a handful of new military programs for research funding and the growth of available military research money despite dwindling financial awards from other government agencies, the debate has once again flared up. As both participants in and critics of military-supported research programs, some Brown faculty have placed themselves at the center of this debate.

On the one hand, Professor of Anthropology Catherine Lutz has been an outspoken opponent of the military's efforts to draw from university expertise, having published extensively on the subject. On the other hand, former Watson Institute fellow Michael Bhatia '99, who was killed this May while participating in a military research program in Afghanistan, was a strong supporter of such efforts. Another perspective on the merits and pitfalls of such collaboration is held by Brown researchers in the physical sciences, who have been less present in public debates on the ethics of military work but have received approximately $8.6 million - six percent of Brown's research budget - in fiscal year 2008 from the Department of Defense, according to University records.

An anthropological quandary
The most noticeable upsurge in the discourse on the ethics of collaboration with the military has been among anthropologists. With two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has been exploring new ways to bring ethnographers into the fold of security research and operations.

As early as 2003, the Department of Defense began hiring anthropologists to find ways to ameliorate U.S. troops' unfamiliarity with Iraqi culture and society. With a substantial monetary infusion into the program in 2007, the Human Terrain System began to reach out more broadly to American academics willing to be embedded with combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through the program, participating scholars who do research in these places have the opportunity to conduct their work with the protection of U.S. security forces. In exchange, these specialists help soldiers navigate unfamiliar and uncertain terrain, serving as linguistic and cultural liaisons.

"The use of social science is necessary to and legitimate in military operations," the program's Web site states.

The Human Terrain System program sparked an intense and ongoing debate within the anthropological discipline. Many anthropologists took issue with the dangers of sharing their specialized knowledge with an organization that could endanger the people they study.

"Anthropologists are in an absolutely unique position," said William Beeman, adjunct professor of anthropology. "We're the people who really know the situation on the ground. We know the languages. We know the culture. So you really walk a fine line deciding to what degree you're going to advise people."

Beeman said he has done extensive consulting with the Department of Defense and other government agencies, and called the idea that social science researchers can and should abstain completely from military work both "unreasonable" and "unethical."

Last year, the American Anthropological Association denounced the program on the grounds that researchers could not obtain informed consent from their subjects in a combat environment and could endanger them by providing information to the military. The association also formed a commission to reevaluate the ethics of anthropologists' engagement with the military and intelligence communities.

"We do not recommend non-engagement, but instead emphasize differences in kinds of engagement and accompanying ethical considerations," the commission said in its November 2007 report.

In September, the association approved amendments to its code of ethics.

"In relation with his or her own government, host governments, or sponsors of research, an anthropologist should be honest and candid. Anthropologists must not compromise their professional responsibilities and ethics and should not agree to conditions which inappropriately change the purpose, focus or intended outcomes of their research," the revision stated.

Brown faculty enter the debate
At Brown, debates about the Human Terrain System took a more solemn turn after Bhatia's death in May. Bhatia was a graduate student at Oxford in the department of politics and international relations. He had been preparing a dissertation on combatant motives of the Mujahideen, a militant group in Afghanistan.

"The program has a real chance of reducing both the Afghan and American lives lost, as well as ensuring that the US/NATO/(International Security Assistance Force) strategy becomes better attuned to the population's concerns, views, criticisms and interests and better supports the Government of Afghanistan," Bhatia wrote about the Human Terrain System in November 2007.

The American Anthropological Association is now undertaking a much more sweeping revision to its ethics guidelines to be concluded in late 2010. Those revisions will have to tackle not only the question of the Human Terrain System program, but also a host of other issues revolving around the rising amount of proprietary research being conducted by anthropologists, Beeman said. Beeman participated in the last major revision to the anthropological association's code of ethics in the late nineties.

Beeman, a Middle East expert who has briefed both military personnel and policy makers, recalled being contacted by Army representatives for consultation before the invasion of Iraq. He said he told them the United States shouldn't do it.

"They say 'Well, that doesn't help us much because we're about to.' Then you say 'All right, look. I'll come and talk to you and I'll tell you why you shouldn't do it.' I can't refuse those sorts of invitations because it wouldn't be ethical," Beeman recounted. "We can't pass up those opportunities if we're serious academics."

The newest military program to draw on the expertise of social scientists in academia is the Minerva Initiative, a $50 million program announced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in April. The initiative aims to channel military funds toward research on issues such as terrorist organization and ideologies, Chinese military technology and the strategic impact of cultural and religious change in the Islamic world. The first round of grants is expected to be announced this year.

"This is the first significant effort in 30 or 40 years to engage social sciences on a large scale by the Department of Defense," said Thomas Mahnken, a deputy assistant defense secretary for policy planning, according to a Washington Post article published Aug. 3.

"There was an effort during (the Vietnam era) that ended up being ill-conceived and burned bridges on both sides, and, unfortunately, these attitudes have persisted," Mahnken told the Post. "This effort is about rebuilding those bridges."

Like the Human Terrain System, the Minerva Initiative - named after the virgin Roman goddess of both wisdom and warriors - has sparked a new wave of controversy within the anthropological discipline.

In a guest editorial titled "Selling Ourselves?" featured in the most recent edition of the journal Anthropology Today, Professor of Anthropology Catherine Lutz argued that the program will distract the research of anthropologists, who should avoid military funding.

"(The Minerva Initiative) represents an important attempt to garner ideological acceptance among anthropologists for doing military research," Lutz wrote in the editorial. "This money could shape and distort our field in significant ways, as has happened with other disciplines that have been the recipients of Pentagon largesse."

The journal edition that featured the editorial was devoted to a discussion of a number of different ways in which anthropologists and the military have recently come into contact and often collaboration.

"The military as a funding source often portrays itself as an un-self-interested or a national interest centered organization, but in fact has institutional interests in getting certain kinds of research results," Lutz said.

Less concern in physical sciences
In contrast to anthropologists' sharp sensitivity to the ethical quandaries of military collaboration, researchers in other disciplines do not seem to have the same degree of concern. Beemen said that political scientists have a long tradition of collaborating in intelligence and security efforts. He added that political scientists frequently contest anthropologists' objections to such work - and even question their patriotism.

In the physical sciences, academics also seem to be more comfortable doing research with the military. This may be due to the generally detached and often exclusively financial relationship that most science researchers have with military agencies, as most military grants to universities are for elementary research that may or may not underpin future developments in military laboratories or in the private sector. On the other hand, it could be the result of the Department of Defense's strong - in certain fields almost ubiquitous - presence as a source of significant and reliable funding.

"The most successful groups in my area have military funding," said Pascal Van Hentenryck, a professor of computer science whose research focuses on optimization - a field he said the military had been funding for at least 60 years - which includes designing emergency response systems. He and other science researchers and administrators interviewed by The Herald all echoed the idea that at least in some fields, the military was a necessary source of funding for scientific research.

Public debates on the ethics of research in Van Hentenryck's field are not common, he said. But Van Hentenryck recalled ethical debates in computer science from his days as a graduate student, when he and his colleagues contemplated among themselves whether or not cooperative decisions to refrain from developing missile systems would halt their development.

Van Hentenryck said that his graduate students frequently raise the same questions, and that a responsive instructor should answer them.

He also stressed the fact that his research, like that of most other scientists, is useful in myriad fields, not just military matters, and that university researchers usually have little idea about how their ideas are eventually put into practice.

Vice President for Research Clyde Briant said that there is no ethical discourse about the sources of research funding at the university level, and that such debates would be personal ones among professors.

He said that professors at Brown tend to exhibit a high demand for knowledge about military funding opportunities, especially as other federal funding resources dry up.

Brown's principal criteria for accepting research funding are that research can be neither proprietary - there can be no restrictions on publication rights - nor classified, according to Briant.

Director of Government Affairs and Community Relations Tim Leshan lobbies on behalf of Brown with the Department of Defense to ensure that policy makers in Washington know about the University's research capabilities and that Brown professors are aware of the military funding available to them.

"While funding at the (National Institutes of Health) and the (National Science Foundation) has not kept up with inflation in the last five years," Leshan said, "Department of Defense research funding has grown."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Former Officials Say Iran Helped on Al-Qaeda (AP);_ylt=AiiymPbtqjCtDDCupADcFJ4LewgF#

Former officials say Iran helped on al-Qaida

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

Tuesday 7 October 2008, 6:23 PM ET

Commentary by William O. Beeman:
One of the ways that the Bush administration has tried to make a case for attacking Iran is to identify it as "the chief state sponsor of terrorism." As part of this campaign, the Bush administration has tried ruthlessly to tie Iran to the tragedy of September 11, 2001. One way is to claim that Iran is supporting Al-Qaeda. This makes no sense, since Al-Qaeda is dominated by extremist Salafi Muslims who, in their most severe pronouncements call for the killing of Shi'a Muslims as blasphemers. This article shows that the Bush accusations about the connections to Al-Qaeda are lies. Barry Schweid is a veteran AP reporter with impeccable credentials.

In an effort to help the United States counter al-Qaida after the 9/11 attack, Iran rounded up hundreds of Arabs who had crossed the border from Afghanistan, expelled many of them and made copies of nearly 300 of their passports, a former Bush administration official said Tuesday.

The copies were sent to Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, who passed them on to the United States, while U.S. interrogators were given a chance by Iran to question some of the detainees, Hillary Mann Leverett said in an Associated Press interview.

Leverett, who said she negotiated with Iran for the Bush administration in the 2001-3 period, said Iran sought a broader relationship with the United States. "They thought they had been helpful on al-Qaida, and they were," she said.

For one thing, she said, suspected al-Qaida operatives were not given sanctuary in Iran.

Some administration officials took the view, however, that Iran had not acknowledged all likely al-Qaida members nor provided access to them, Leverett said.

Many of the expelled Arabs were deported to Saudi Arabia and to other Arab and Muslim countries, even though Iran had poor relations with the Saudi monarchy and some other countries in the region, Leverett said.

James F. Dobbins, the Bush administration's chief negotiator on Afghanistan in late 2001, said that Iran was "comprehensively helpful" in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in working to overthrow the Taliban and collaborating with the United States in installing the Karzai government in Kabul.

Iranian diplomats made clear at the time they were looking for broader cooperation with the United States, but the Bush administration was not interested, the author of "After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan," said in a separate interview.

The Bush administration has acknowledged contacts with Iran over the years even while denouncing Iran as part of an "axis of evil" and declining to consider a resumption of diplomatic relations.

"It isn't something that is talked about," Leverett said in describing Iran's role during a forum at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy institute.

Leverett and her husband, Flynt Leverett, a former career CIA analyst and a former National Security Council official, jointly proposed the next U.S. president seek a "grand bargain" with Iran to settle all major outstanding differences.

"The next president needs to reorient U.S. policy toward Iran as fundamentally as President Nixon did with China in the 1970s," Flynt Leverett said.

Among the provisions: The United States would clarify that it is not seeking change in the nature of the Iranian regime but rather in its policies, while Iran would agree to "certain limits" on its nuclear program.

Iran considers most of its neighbors as enemies. Among its incentives for improving U.S. relations is that they feel that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would be less provocative, the Leveretts said.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tim Wise--This is your nation on White Privilege

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Sep 13, 2008

By Tim Wise

Tim Wise's ZSpace Page / Zspace.

Commentary by William O. Beeman: The United States has made considerable progress in recent decades to combat racism, but latent racism is still rampant. (From his biography on his website): Author Tim Wise is the Director of the newly-formed Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) in Nashville, Tennessee. He lectures across the country about the need to combat institutional racism, gender bias, and the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. Wise has been called a "leftist extremist" by David Duke, "deceptively Aryan-looking" by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and "the Uncle Tom of the white race," by right-wing author, Dinesh D` Souza. Whatever else can be said about him, his ability to make the right kind of enemies seems unquestioned.

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S.Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office -- since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s -- while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do -- like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor -- and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college -- you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department ofDefense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise, who lives in Tennessee, is the author of "White Like Me" (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of "Speaking Treason Fluently", publishing this month, also by Soft Skull. For review copies or interview requests, please reply to

Friday, September 19, 2008

Iran's Conundrum


Iran's Conundrum
Published: September 19, 2008

Commentary by William O. Beeman: The world is caught in distress over economics, but the danger of an armed attack on Iran continues. As Cesar Celala accurately points out, Iran poses no real danger to either the United States or Israel, but is itself under siege. Unfortunately Iran has become the universal bogeyman for American politicians in this election year--a matter that favors political extremists such as the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is relentless in its call for action against Iran. The likely new Israeli prime minister, Tzipi Livni, is more moderate than her predecessors, having last year confided in private talks that Iran was not an existential danger to Israel. In the course of the campaign for leadership of the Kadima Party, she became more hawkish in her public statements. Iranian presidential elections take place in 2009. With the leaders of the United States, Iran and Israel changing, a new day could dawn on Middle East relations, if only the world can survive the Bush/Cheney presidency.

The pressures for both the U.S. and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities have received an additional impetus from two recent House and Senate resolutions. According to William O. Beeman, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, there is tremendous danger in two almost identical resolutions in the House and Senate calling upon U.S. President George W. Bush to "immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities."

While the House resolution calls for "stringent inspection requirements," the Senate resolution calls for an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran, which lacks the facilities to process it itself. To achieve both goals would require a naval blockade, in itself an act of war. As Professor Beeman states, days before both resolution were introduced, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) issued a memo outlining the measures that should be taken to increase pressure on Iran in a language that mirrors both resolutions.

Russian government sources acknowledge that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already approved the sale of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran. This only adds fuel to an already dangerous situation, since these missiles could greatly improve Iranian defenses against air strikes aimed at the country's strategically important sites, including its nuclear facilities.

One of the main alleged reasons for attacking Iran is that it threatens Israel's survival. However, neither Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor Iran's leadership ignore that any Iranian attack on Israel would exact not only massive retaliation from Israel itself but also from the U.S. Such a massive counterattack would provoke huge losses in human lives and it would devastate Iran's infrastructure and its weapons' facilities, a fact that Iran's leaders cannot ignore. Are we to believe that their thinking is as sinister and irresponsible as to face those risks that threaten their country's own existence?

In addition, Thomas Fingar, a top U.S. government intelligence analyst, confirmed recently that Iran's work on the "weaponization portion" of its nuclear development program was in effect suspended in 2003, as indicated by the National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007.

As aggressive as President Ahmadinejad is in his pronouncements against Israel, he is not the deciding voice in Iran. Scott Ritter, the United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq has pointed out, "Ahmadinejad does not make foreign policy decisions on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the sole purview of the 'Supreme Leader,' the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In 2003 Khamenei initiated a diplomatic outreach to the United States inclusive of an offer to recognize Israel's right to exist. This initiative was rejected by the United States."

Ahmadinejad's irresponsible personal statements are no justification for the tremendous consequences of an attack on Iran. After all, irresponsible statements are not the unique domain of Iranians. President Bush labeling Iran part of an "axis of evil" is just one of many ugly -- and unnecessary -- characterizations of that country. Almost no week passes by without some unwarranted threat to Iran from a U.S. politician.

Recently, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, when informed that U.S. exports to Iran had grown more than tenfold during President Bush's years in office, including $158 million worth of cigarettes, commented, "Maybe that's a way of killing them." Although he was quick to add that he was joking, this is not a comment one would expect from a presidential candidate at a time of high tensions with that country.

And Barack Obama, not to be upstaged by Senator McCain, recently declared when asked about Iran's possession of nuclear weapons, "It's sufficient to say I would not take military action off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States' interests."

The U.S. claim that Iran is a danger to its security and to the security of the world doesn't hold under scrutiny. The Iranian government states that it is the U.S., not them, that has acted aggressively, and point not only to the U.S. supporting Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war but to the U.S. actions to subvert democracy in their country. In 1953, the CIA engineered a coup d'etat that overthrew the government of one of Iran's greatest leaders, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, after he nationalized Iran's oil industry. As Ghasem Ebrahimian, an Iranian filmmaker told me recently in New York, "We Iranians are tired of war. We went through a terrible, unnecessary, wearing war with Iraq and the only thing we want is to live in peace with everybody."

Iran is now a country under siege, and it is reacting as such. It is surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to the east, Russia to the north, Israel to the west and the U.S. in the Persian Gulf. This is not a situation that brings them a sense of security. The Bush administration has so far refused to offer Iran the possibility of improved relations or to provide that country with the security guarantees that Iran demands.

Although the initial talks with Iran intended to make Iran halt its nuclear program have ended in a stalemate, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said relations with the U.S. could be restored in the future. Rather than persisting on an antagonistic behavior, the U.S. should start to defuse tensions with that country, at a time when the world is desperate for peace and security.


Dr. Cesar Chelala, a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award, is the foreign correspondent for Middle East Times International (Australia.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Congress is about to Pour Lighter Fluid on Iran--annotated and footnoted

Congress may Resolve America into a War with Iran
(Retitled: Congress is about to Pour Lighter Fluid on Iran)

Note: This article was published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on September 4, 2008. Documentation for the article was not published with the original article. I provide it here for readers who wish a more complete justification for the argument in the original article.

William O. Beeman

The U.S. Congress may inadvertently lay the foundations for war against Iran when it reconvenes in Washington in early September.

Two essentially identical non-binding resolutions, House Concurrent Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580 call upon President Bush to “immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities.”

The House Resolution has more than 200 co-sponsors, including Minnesota Representatives Bachman, Kline and Ramstad. The Senate Resolution has more than 30 co-sponsors, including both Minnesota Senators Coleman and Klobuchar.

The methods for increased pressure differ slightly in the two resolutions. The House Resolution calls for “stringent inspection requirements” of all goods entering or leaving Iran. The Senate Resolution does not call for the inspection of all goods, but joins the House resolution in calling for an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran, which lacks the refining capacity to meet its need for gasoline. Achieving either goal would require a naval blockade—a de-facto act of war on the part of the United States, though paradoxically both resolutions explicitly exclude authorization for military action.

Other provisions call for an economic embargo of banking operations, with the House resolution adding a prohibition of international movement on the part of Iranian officials.

Both resolutions have begun to cause alarm throughout the United States, and have caused several Representatives to withdraw their co-sponsorship of the bill. Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) summed up the concerns in an article for the Huffington Post, “It is clear that despite carefully worded language in H. Con. Res. 362 that ‘nothing in this resolution should be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran’ that many Americans across the country continue to express real concerns that sections of this resolution will be interpreted by President Bush as ‘a green light’ to use force against Iran.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), according to the Jewish Daily Forward offered a representative from the antiwar group Peace Action on July 5 an apology: “I regret the fact that I did not read this resolution more carefully.” He further told The Valley Advocate (Northampton, MA): ’ "I'm all for stricter sanctions against Iran, but the blockade part goes too far. I'm going to call the sponsors and tell them I'm changing my vote."

Both Wexler and Frank are are assuming some risk, because they are opposing the powerful American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which had a strong hand in the drafting of both resolutions. Just days before the resolutions were introduced in the House and the Senate AIPAC issued a memo outlining what should be done to put more pressure on Iran. The language of the memo mirrors the language of the resolutions . The introduction of the resolutions also conveniently coincided with AIPAC’s Annual Policy conference during which they had more than 7,000 people on the hill to lobby. Their top legislative priority was for co-sponsorship of the resolutions. AIPAC is careful to avoid direct calls for military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, but makes no secret that it would support such an action by the United States or Israel.

The most unfortunate aspect of the two resolutions is that they contain numerous outright falsehoods, misinformation and alarmist exaggeration about Iran and its nuclear development program. Of the 23 clauses in the Senate Resolution, only five present incontrovertible statements of fact . The many legislators who have signed on as co-sponsors, having subscribed to this false information, could be attacked by the Bush administration if they oppose a later request for military attack, as happened in the Iraq invasion.

Sadly, these resolutions make it clear that the battle to stop a war with Iran is not over.

William O. Beeman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, and is President of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Assocation. He has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 30 years. His most recent book is The “Great Satan” vs. the “Mad Mullahs”: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other. (Chicago, 2008).


5., also
6. See appendix 1 below
7. see appendix 2 below

Appendix 1
AIPAC Authorship of H. Con. Res 362 and Sen. Res. 580

AIPAC will say they do not write legislation, but just days before the resolutions were introduced, they issued a memo ( outlining what should be done to put more pressure on Iran (comparison below). The introduction of the resolutions also conveniently coincided with AIPAC’s Annual Policy conference during which they had 7,000+ people on the hill to lobby and their top legislative ask was for co-sponsorship of the resolutions (available on their website). In addition, the response from Gary Ackerman and Mike Pence to accusations on the blockade issue in a “Dear Colleague” letter were identical to AIPAC talking points posted on their website.

AIPAC has declared that they will use the votes on this resolution on their elections scorecard, which may be why so many members have signed onto it.

AIPAC memo
The United States should sanction the Central Bank of Iran for its involvement in the funding of terrorism and the financing of Iran's proliferation activities.

H.Con.Res 362/Senate Resolution 580
Congress urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on - the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian bank engaged in proliferation activities or the support of terrorist groups;

AIPAC memo

The United States should impose sanctions on companies that have invested more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), originally passed in 1996.

H.Con.Res 362/Senate Resolution 580

Congress urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on - energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the Iranian petroleum or natural gas sector in any given year since the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996.

AIPAC memo

The United States also should use existing authority to sanction foreign entities that continue to do business with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ...

H.Con.Res 362/Senate Resolution 580

Congress urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on - all companies which continue to do business with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

William O. Beeman

Appendix 2
Senate Resolution 580—Inaccuracies in the Document

Preambular Clauses

1. Wholly False

a. Iran had a covert nuclear program for 20 years (it was not covert, and was started by the United States 30 years ago)
b. The IAEA has confirmed Iranian covert nuclear activities. (The IAEA has cleared Iran of all required inspections, and affirmed Iran’s compliance)
c. Iran could have enough Highly Enriched Uranium to make a nuclear weapon by 2009. (The NIE did not say this, and Iran can not possibly have enough HEU by 2009 to make a weapon. Even if they did it would take years to actually develop such a weapon.
d. Iran has missiles that can reach parts of Europe. (Only true if you count Southern Russia as “part of Europe.” Iran has nothing that could reach Central or Western Europe.)
e. Iran has repeatedly called for the elimination of Israel. (No such calls have ever been issued. This is a blatant lie).
f. Iran has refused offers of negotiation (Iran has repeatedly stated its willingness to negotiate, provided there are no preconditions).
g. Developing weapons is outpacing economic sanctions (it is impossible to know what this means, and it is therefore false).

2. Arguable

a. Allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons is a grave threat to international security (only discussable if Iran is proven to have a weapons program. The statement applies to any non-nuclear weapons nation, not just Iran).
b. Allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability will upset the balance of power in the Middle East (it is impossible to know what this means, unless the point is that the U.S. and Israel would no longer be completely dominant).
c. Iran could share its nuclear weapons capability with terrorists (So could Pakistan and India, and they already have proven weapons. Iran does not have a proven weapons program, and the capacity to develop such weapons is years away).
d. Iran having a nuclear weapon would undermine the nuclear nonproliferation regime. (This goes without saying, but Iran does not have a proven weapons program. The United States failure to reduce its nuclear arsenal in direct violation of the NPT is far more dangerous.)
e. Arab states would follow suit if Iran had a weapon. (Actually, Arab states are far more likely to get weapons technology from Pakistan, especially now that Musharraf has resigned).
f. If Iran had weapons, nuclear proliferation would increase (assumes that Iran has a weapons program).
g. The government of Iran has advocated that the United States withdraw from the Middle East (as has every other state in the region except Israel).
h. Iran has used its banking system including the Central Bank of Iran to support its proliferation efforts (what proliferation efforts? Iran operates entirely legally under the NPT. The Iranian Central Bank is going to have something to do with all economic activity in Iran, since it regulates Iran’s currency)
i. The Treasury Department has designated 4 banks as proliferators. (Without proof or justification. This was a mere assertion of Treasury. The Treasury regularly violates its own laws regarding Iran, including illegal restrictions on artistic and scholarly exchange).

3. Legal Iranian Actions

a. Iran continues to expand the number of centrifuges (It is legal for them to do so—they would need 50,000 to have enough uranium to run a Light Water Reactor, which they don’t have. They have 6,000 at present, and those don’t work well).
b. Iran has 6,000 centrifuges (see above)

4. True statements

a. Iran is signatory to the NPT
b. Iran is bound to declare its nuclear activity to the IAEA (which it so far has done to the IAEA’s satisfaction)
c. The Security Council passed three binding resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment. (True, but the suspension of uranium enrichment was designated as a “confidence building” measure designed to assure that Iran was not building nuclear weapons in violation of Section IV of the NPT. The NIE in the United States declared that Iran has no weapons program, rendering the suspension of the legal enrichment of uranium unnecessary.
d. P5+1 nations have offered to negotiate with Iran (and Iran has agreed providing there are no preconditions)
e. Iran imports 40% of its refined petroleum products

Operative Clauses

1. Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is a matter of high importance to U.S. security and must be dealt with urgently (this has been stated already by the executive branch. Getting Congress to agree to this is redundant, but it can be used by the executive to justify an attack at a later date).
2. Urges the president to impose sanctions (all these sanctions have already been enacted, or can be enacted without Congressional urging)
3. Urges the president to increase pressure on Iran (this is already being done with the exception of banning refined petroleum products imports to Iran—an absolutely impractical and inoperative measure).
4. Asserts that nothing in this resolution authorizes force against Iran (however, all of the false and misleading preambular clauses are a set up for later approaches to Congress for the use of force—a classic slippery slope).

-William O. Beeman