This Week in Elder News: 28 June 2008
Crabby Old Lady's Computer Complaints

The Drums of War

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Funny how time flies by when you're not watching (or even when you are). Four months ago, Laurie Pawlik-Keinlin interviewed me, among others, for a story in Woman's Day about aging. You can see the slide show beginning here.]

category_bug_politics.gif This story has been sitting in my "maybe file" for several weeks. I probably would have ignored it as questionable political chatter except for a direct quote from a leader in a volatile region of the world and that the White House has been ominously silent about what appears to me to be more than the “hint” some reporters have labeled it.

When I took several hours on Sunday to see if there has been any additional reporting about it, the consequences – more dead soldiers and innocents, more billions of U.S. dollars unavailable for needs at home, possible nuclear disaster – became alarming.

I first read the quote in a story by Chris Hedges published at truthdig on 8 June. Ray McGovern repeated it in an AlterNet story on 20 June which was reprinted the same day at Information Clearing House. Apparently, it was first reported on 5 June, by Israel National News. Others, including al Jazeera, have reported it based on Hedges’ story, and Bill Ingram, in his blog on Senator Barack Obama’s official campaign site mentioned it without comment.

But I haven’t been able to locate the quote in any mainstream press including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.

The quotation in question is a statement to reporters by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert following his 90-minute meeting at the White House with President Bush on 4 June. [Emphasis in all quotes below has been added]

“We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than I had entered with] regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem.

“George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.

What is alarming, in addition to Olmert's certainty, is that with fewer than seven months remaining in President Bush's term of office, there is not time for the complicated diplomatic negotiations necessary to resolve such an issue with countries as formidably and historically opposed to one another as Iran and Israel.

On the same day, following the meeting between the president and prime minister, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley fumphed his way through a question at a White House press briefing with familiar blather and no substance.

Q: Has the Prime Minister urged the President to take military action against Iran before leaving office?
MR. HADLEY: Obviously Iran is a subject that comes up all the time, and I think one of the things that you've seen over the last six months, or saw, and I think you saw it on the President's two trips to the Middle East, is increasing concern about Iran and the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran could pose to stability and - in the Middle East, and to the cause of, quite frankly, freedom, democracy, and fighting against terror.

It is a problem that people are increasingly concerned about. And I think the formula that we have all discussed is we need to increase pressure on Iran - and that can take various forms - and at the same time, offer Iran an opportunity, if it is willing, to suspend, come to a negotiation, and enter into and accept the offer that has been tendered to it that would result in a lot of benefits for the people of Iran. And that's where we are.

It is a diplomatic strategy. As the President has said many times, all options are on the table. But the focus of the efforts of the international community and the United States is on trying to achieve that diplomatic strategy.

Further information, published in the Israel National News story, but not in the U.S. publications mentioned above, is this:

“Olmert, in a speech earlier this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy forum, said that the Iranian threat ‘must be stopped by all possible means.’ He said sanctions are ‘only an initial step’ and that there is ‘no doubt as to the urgent need for more drastic and robust measures.’"

Then there was this report on 25 June in the Irish Independent (one must search far afield sometimes to find out what’s going on), headlined “Speculation Grows of Raid on Iran's Nuclear Sites”:

“The head of America's armed forces will make a hastily arranged visit to Israel this week, fuelling speculation about a possible Washington-sanctioned Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear programme.

“Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, will use a rest day during a tour of Europe to meet Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, his Israeli opposite number, with the Iranian nuclear question at the top of the agenda...

“Israel would require tacit US military approval for an attack on Iran, because America controls the Iraqi airspace through which Israeli jets would likely pass if they mounted an assault.”

And on Saturday, an Indymedia story headlined, “More Signs of Israeli-US Preparations for Attacking Iran”, added this information:

“The visit by US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen to Israel yesterday is one more indication that the two countries are actively discussing a military strike on Iran.

"Mullen’s trip followed news that the Israeli air force carried out a major exercise earlier this month involving 100 fighter jets, backed by midair fuel tankers and rescue helicopters, flying some 1,500 kilometres [932 miles] westward over the Mediterranean Sea, roughly the same distance as eastward from Israel to Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

It's hard to believe Mr. Hadley's "diplomatic strategy" is "on the table" when chief military officers are meeting in person in the wake of recent war games.

Last Friday, syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan offered this opinion:

“William Kristol of The Weekly Standard said Sunday [22 June] a U.S. attack on Iran after the election is more likely should Barack Obama win. Presumably, Bush would trust John McCain to keep Iran nuclear free.

“Yet, to start a third war in the Middle East against a nation three times as large as Iraq, and leave it to a new president to fight, would be a daylight hijacking of the congressional war power and a criminally irresponsible act. For Congress alone has the power to authorize war.

“Yet Israel is even today pushing Bush into a pre-emptive war with a naked threat to attack Iran itself should Bush refuse the cup.”

Does it bother anyone else that this information is found in independent U.S. and international media with hardly a word outside Pat Buchanan’s (!) column in the mainstream press and cable news that most Americans use. Shouldn't a president, at this stage in developments, be laying his case before Congress and the people? And shouldn't drums of a new war be front-page news everywhere?

As a reminder, here again is Prime Minister Olmert’s statement. It is doubtful Mr Olmert would have been made it without White House approval and it has not been denied by the White House:

“We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than I had entered with] regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem.

“George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.”

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Darlene Costner tells a funny tale of grandfatherly ineptitude in Grandpa Redux.]

Comments

Yesterday I ran across this story by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker:
http://tinyurl.com/43bpf2
(I'm sorry, I don't know how to make that clickable). I trust Hersh's reporting; I've always found him to know what he's talking about—unfortunately, in this case.

What is *wrong* with these people?

Thank you for your digging to find out the truth!

I, too, have been disturbed by the drum-beating in Israel and Bush's sly doublespeak. In view of his arrogation of power to this point, I live in fear that he will once again act unilaterally and underhandedly either to bless an Israeli attack upon Iran or to send in US warplanes himself.

The result of either would almost certainly be a step toward World War III. The Mideast is a tinderbox just waiting for that kind of spark. It would quickly escalate from Israel against Iran, to Arab against Jew, to Muslim against Christian, to the taking of sides internationally to protect oil and territorial interests.

All I can see that we can do is to pray that Olmert is drummed out of office by his corruption charge before he has a chance to press that big red button. As for Bush, who knows what he is thinking in his hermetically sealed White House? If he takes it into his bony head to bypass Congress once again and attack Iran, there is little I can see we can do to stop him.

But that doesn't mean we can only sit here trembling, waiting for the fecal matter to hit the ventilating device. Maybe if we make enough of a stink with our Congressmen, they will take some action to scotch Bush's saber-rattling. It might cause him to delay long enough to get him out of office before he seals his fate as the worst president in the history of our dear country.

Yes, it troubles me deeply. And the Democrats just go along with it, too. I keep thinking... surely there's SOMETHING they know that we don't; otherwise they would NEVER support these actions. Evidently I'm naive.

I agree, anita, what is WRONG with these people?!?!?

Nikki, I used to think they knew something we didn't, but I'm beginning to believe that it's the lust for power instead—and that they'll do whatever it takes to keep the power they have, and maybe get more. Or maybe it's a case of what will be disclosed if they don't go along—there's all that eavesdropping/wiretapping, after all.
Possibly my tinfoil hat is just a bit too tight. . . but I'm afraid that's not it.

Yes, it disturbs me greatly. There was an article on Huffington this week-end about covert actions already underway in Iran as a preparation for further military actions.

This is why it has been criminal also that 'our' (using 'our' loosely) Congress has not acted to impeach Bush. They have all the evidence they could possibly need to know he and his people lied to get us into the war with Iraq. By not doing it, saying there isn't enough time, they have left him free to do exactly this and he's just the kind of inhumane person to do it. If Bush was fighting an impeachment, he might be less able. Worse is that by them ignoring his administration's criminality, he could pardon them all before he leaves office. This is a ruthless bunch. Nothing is beyond them.

Another possibility (and don't call me paranoid as if something is possible, it's not paranoia) is that he hopes to start a war that he can't finish in order to declare martial law (the act is in place). In a time of emergency he can order a cancellation of elections. Congress has gone along with his imperial presidency so far, would they really have any power to stop that kind of thing?

If the Bush people believe McCain will win, they won't be so tempted by either action given McCain will carry on what they;ve been doing, but if it is Obama, who knows what they would do. Nothing has been beneath them so far.

Months ago I wrote my Senator asking her to please co-sign the articles for impeachment for Bush and Cheney. She usually sends a boiler plate letter right back explaining her position, but this time she was strangely silent. It scares the h--- out of me. I told her that bombing Iran was a distinct possibility if nothing was done.

It's still all about oil.

Here's a clickable link to the New Yorker article.

And here's a link to a current article in New York Review of Books. It's shorter and more accessible than many of their pieces.

I do, once again, feel that my country is sitting on the edge of a precipice and that I am watching helplessly as conniving fools prepare to push us over. But we must try every way we can to stop them.

Ronni, I have been hearing this for the last ten months or so on various sites I visit. Eric Alterman on his altercation blog on Media Matters has featured it several times. So have bloggers at TPM Cafe and Americablog. One summed up the drum beat for war by quoting someone, and I forget who, in the Bush Administration saying (just after the campaign in Iraq started) that Baghdad was fine but "real men want to go to Tehran.' It scares the hell out of me and I am more frightened to think that on this issue we don't seem to have a real opposition party to question this administrations policies.

I am chilled by the thought of another Middle East war.

Found a couple of great articles, links:

.

And this information at Revolution.


Oops.

The Coming Catastrophe
by David DeBatto at Global Research

...and the beat goes on. Scares the very you-know-what outta me as to the possibilities of even more war and what this administration is capable of doing.

I can't imagine another war in the Middle East, but, then again, I couldn't imagine the one that we're in now. Anything is possible with this gang and that's what's so scary..

We can't fight the two we have going now. A third would destroy the military. And they know that.

Get the lunatics out of office. The "Plan for the New American Century" needs to be dead and buried. And I won't feel safe until all the neocons are gone as well.

Months ago, prior to the Iowa Caucuses, I heard a former ambassador on public radio talking about the Middle East. I called in, asking his estimation about the chances that Bush and gang would attack Iran--his answer: one in three they would orchestrate a reason to attack before the end of this administration. Listening to Seymour Hersh yesterday on public radio, I was sickened by the notion our "leaders" would unleash more war and destruction on the world. I believe this is the work of evil people doing evil on the world. I am frustrated and furious that calm heads seem unable to be heard and by the lack of courage they have in the face of this inexorable march to more war! This means more letters to the Iowa delegation--and others, as well.

This is insanity...

I can't believe no one has assassinated like half of the Bush administration yet. Why is the rest of the world letting the US get away with this?

Why haven't we impeached Bush and Cheney???

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