Added: July 16, 2008
Added: July 16, 2008
(So now everything is ready to attack Iran – The Infinite Unknown)
(WASHINGTON) – The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to promote Gen. David Petraeus to become the top commander in the Middle East.
Senators on the panel also agreed by voice vote that Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno should receive a fourth star and replace Petraeus as chief commander in Iraq.
The committee action paves the way for a favorable vote on the nominations by the Senate.
Last year, Petraeus helped to tame growing opposition to the Iraq war in Congress by providing measured assessments of progress and warning that an exodus of U.S. troops would result in chaos. In the meantime, he advocated a buildup of some 30,000 troops in Baghdad and other hotspots, which eventually proved vital in tamping down violence.
WASHINGTON – Pentagon officials firmly opposed a proposal by Vice President Dick Cheney last summer for airstrikes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) bases by insisting that the administration would have to make clear decisions about how far the United States would go in escalating the conflict with Iran, according to a former George W Bush administration official.
J Scott Carpenter, who was then deputy assistant secretary of state in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, recalled in an interview that senior Defense Department (DoD) officials and the Joint Chiefs used the escalation issue as the main argument against the Cheney proposal.
McClatchy newspapers reported last August that Cheney had proposal several weeks earlier “launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iran”, citing two officials involved in Iran policy.
According to Carpenter, who is now at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, a strongly pro-Israel think-tank, Pentagon officials argued that no decision should be made about the limited airstrike on Iran without a thorough discussion of the sequence of events that would follow an Iranian retaliation for such an attack. Carpenter said the DoD officials insisted that the Bush administration had to make “a policy decision about how far the administration would go – what would happen after the Iranians would go after our folks”.
Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.
The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.
No, that’s not a typo. The outgoing US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan says it would require 400,000 troops to secure that country.
ISAF Commander McNeill has said himself that according to the current counterterrorism doctrine, it would take 400,000 troops to pacify Afghanistan in the long term. But the reality is that he has only 47,000 soldiers under his command, together with another 18,000 troops fighting at their sides as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and possibly another 75,000 reasonably well-trained soldiers in the Afghan army by the end of the year. All told, there is still a shortfall of 260,000 men.
Gen Dan McNeill is one of the straight-shooters of the US military, he says what he means and says it when it needs said. Four hundred thousand troops. As opposed to the less than 200,000 sent to Iraq for the Surge.
Worse, it costs the U. S. three times to maintain a soldier in Afghanistan that it costs it to maintain a soldier in Iraq. Consequently, the U. S.’s maintaining a force of 400,000 in Afghanistan would cost us nearly ten times what we’re spending in Iraq right now.
But as Brandon Freidman points out today, the alternative – what is happening right now – is that the US is losing on the central front of the poorly named “War On Terror”.
Related video: The Energy Non-Crisis by Lindsay Williams
The U.S. Congress continues to show an incredible amount of ignorance on the oil issue. This week, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the high price of oil and called out a group of oil company executives to testify. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to sue OPEC over the high oil price. All of this grandstanding by our so called elected officials is going to do nothing to resolve the high oil price. This is a case of the U.S. Congress misdirecting the blame of the high oil price on OPEC and the major oil companies when they are really only minor players in this game. Threatening to sue OPEC is an incredibly stupid move because that could very well have the reverse effect and cause OPEC to respond to this threat by reducing the amount of oil they decide to pump. The two major reasons for the high oil price involve the Federal Reserve devaluing the U.S. Dollar through their monetary policies as well as the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On top of this, it is clear that the Bush administration is looking for any excuse possible to bomb Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has even stated that a naval blockade of Iran is an option that should be put out on the table. With the devaluation of the U.S. Dollar and a potential expansion of war in an area where a tremendous amount of oil is drilled, it is no wonder why the oil price has skyrocketed as high as $135 a barrel. This makes the actions of the U.S. Congress entirely insane and intellectually bankrupt. Expect oil prices in the long term to move much higher.
Since oil is priced in U.S. Dollar denominated terms and the monetary unit of the U.S. Dollar continues to be devalued by the Federal Reserve’s ability to create as many U.S. Dollars as they like, it isn’t a real mystery as to why the oil price is so high. Instead of suing OPEC, the U.S. House of Representatives should be suing the Federal Reserve for fraud. The Coin Act of 1792 states that U.S. Mint employees who are caught debasing the nation’s coinage would be subject to the penalty of death. The Federal Reserve is engaging in the intentional debasement of the nation’s currency which is fundamentally no different and in fact worse than employees of the U.S. Mint debasing the nation’s coinage. Instead of debasing the physical coinage, bankers can simply type digits into a computer to devalue the nation’s currency. Maybe the death penalty should be explored for some of the central bankers that have engaged in these practices.
The U.S. Congress is also helping to contribute to the high oil price with their ridiculous policies. They have funded the illegal and unconstitutional occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. The U.S. Senate just passed another war funding bill which will give the executive branch another $165 Billion to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. By continuing the military occupation of these countries it makes an attack on Iran all the more likely and contributes to greater uncertainty in the oil producing region.
General David Patreaus the current commander in Iraq is on the path to being confirmed as the new CENTCOM commander which means he will be in charge of all U.S. military operations in the Middle East. Assuming he gets confirmed, the chances of a strike on Iran will be all the more likely. Admiral William Fallon the former CENTCOM commander resigned from the position due to the perception that he was refusing to play ball with the Bush administration’s agenda on Iran.
“In a regional war scenario, Israel will deal mainly with Lebanon and Syria while the U.S. and Britain will deal mainly with Iran.  The help of Turkey and NATO will definitely be needed by Israel, America, and Britain in such a war. Ankara and NATO will also be involved in both fronts. 
NATO has already built a presence on the western borders of Syria and Lebanon and inside Afghanistan on the eastern borders of Iran with forward positions. Israeli officials such as Shaul Mofaz have also stated, in no uncertain terms, that if they launch an attack on Iran, the U.S. and NATO will come to the aid of Tel Aviv.”
Israel, Syria, and Lebanon Prepare the “Home Fronts”
The Levant could be the starting point of a major international conflict with global ramifications and which could quickly spin out of control. Such a conflict could even involve the use of Israeli or American nuclear weapons against Iran and Syria. Syria has additionally declared that it is preparing for an inevitable war with Israel despite the fact that it believes that the chances of a war in 2008 are slim. (They are not slim at all. – The Infinite Unknown)
The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.
Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.
However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force.
“If the situation in Basra goes back to what it was like before, America is likely to blame Iran and carry out a surgical strike on a militant training camp across the border in Khuzestan,” said one source, referring to a frontier province.
They acknowledged Iran was unlikely to cease involvement in Iraq and that, however limited a US attack might be, the fighting could escalate.
WASHINGTON — U.S. commanders in Iraq have ordered an unprecedented number of airstrikes by unmanned airplanes in April to kill insurgents in urban combat and to limit their ability to launch rockets at American forces, military records show.
The 11 attacks by Predators — nearly double the previous high for one month — were conducted as the Pentagon has intensified efforts to increase the use of drones, which play an increasingly vital role for gathering intelligence and launching attacks in Iraq. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates prodded the Air Force to do more to rush drones to the war zone.
The increase in Predator attacks coincided with a spike in fighting in Baghdad’s slum of Sadr City and in the city of Basra, where the Iraqi government mounted an offensive to root out militias there.
Commanders are expected to rely more on unmanned systems as 30,000 U.S. troops sent last year are withdrawn. The military has dozens of Predators in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all it operates 5,000 drones, 25 times more than it had in 2001.
“The Predator teams have just been doing unbelievable work down there (in Basra) and in Baghdad as well,” Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, said in a statement last week.
Contrary to some claims that the Bush administration will allow diplomacy to handle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a leading member of America’s Jewish community tells Newsmax that a military strike is not only on the table – but likely.
“Israel is preparing for heavy casualties,” the source said, suggesting that although Israel will not take part in the strike, it is expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution.
“Look at Dick Cheney’s recent trip through the Middle East as preparation for the U.S. attack,” the source said.
Cheney’s hastily arranged 9-day visit to the region, which began on March 16, included stops in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories.
Tensions in the region have been rising.
While Israel was conducting the largest homefront military exercises in its history last week, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Tehran about expected attacks on the Jewish state.
“An Iranian attack will prompt a severe reaction from Israel, which will destroy the Iranian nation,” he said.
He predicted that in a future war, “hundreds of missiles will rain on Israel,” but added that Iran “is definitely aware of our strength.”
Ron Paul lays out some tough questions, and only asks for an immediate response to one of them. The question was whether President Bush could bomb Iran without the approval of Congress. However, Petraeus avoids answering, even though surely a Four-Star General should know whether it is legal to bomb a country without the approval of Congress or not.
A secret draft agreement is being drawn up to allow United States forces to remain in Iraq indefinitely, it has been reported.
The document, which was written a month ago and is and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the United Nations mandate for coalition troops, including British forces, to remain in Iraq, which expires at the end of the year.
The draft authorisation would allow for the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security”.
It does not set a time limit, but describes the arrangement as temporary and points out that the US does not want “permanent bases or a permanent military presence” in the country. It also states that the US does not seek to use Iraq as a base to launch operations against other states.
The draft agreement is unlikely to emerge unscathed from political scrutiny in Baghdad or Washington. There appears little appetite in the US for a drawn-out occupation of Iraq. In Baghdad, both Shia and Sunni political groups opposed to the American presence are likely to oppose the agreement in its draft form.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a vocal critic of the occupation, said yesterday that he would consider disbanding his powerful Mahdi army – but only after consulting the ayatollahs, or religious leaders.
Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said that if the militia, which has battled American and government forces in Basra and Baghdad for the past two weeks, was not disbanded its political wing would be barred from provincial elections.
“They no longer have a right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mahdi army,” said Mr Maliki.
Sadr said he would consult religious figures, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the moderate Shia leader who is revered as a “source of emulation”.
By putting the fate of his powerful militia in the hands of the religious hierarchy, the cleric appears to be gambling that he will establish his credentials as a figure capable of unifying Iraq’s majority Shia community under his leadership.
However, Sadr said ayatollahs in the Iranian city of Qom, home to his spiritual mentor Grand Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri, a known hard-liner, would also have a say.
The cleric’s supporters will tomorrow attempt to mount a “million-strong” march in Baghdad to mark the fifth anniversary of the city’s fall. It will follow a report on Iraq to the US Congress in Washington by General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the ambassador to Baghdad.
By Damien McElroy
Last Updated: 2:10am BST 09/04/2008