Monday, May 31, 2010

The Damage Israel Has Done to Itself is Irreparable

Israel's incredibly senseless attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian mission to bring supplies to impoverished Gaza is dominating today's news and commentary - incredibly, at least temporarily supplanting the BP oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Some of the most recent reporting and commentary from the US and British press can be found at the NYT, WaPo, and Independent.    Stephen Walt has posted what is IMO one of the most scathing yet cogent commentaries.  Note this extremely important question he raises:
How are we supposed to think about a country that has nuclear weapons, a superb army, an increasingly prosperous economy, and great technological sophistication, yet keeps more than a million people under siege in Gaza, denies political rights to millions more on the West Bank, is committed to expanding settlements there, and whose leaders feel little compunction about using deadly force not merely against well-armed enemies, but also against innocent civilians and international peace activists, while at the same time portraying itself as a blameless victim?   Something has gone terribly wrong with the Zionist dream.
Gone wrong, indeed - but for any who are aware of the "iron wall" policy that has dominated Israel's approach to the Arab world (so richly documented by historian Avi Shlaim in his book,  The Iron Wall) - and the Palestinians most especially - none of what happened today ought to be surprising.  It's completely of a piece with Israel's actions over many years.  Bottom line: if the Arabs resist, pound them into submission.  And if the rest of the world complains, take to heart the maxim of Israel's founding father David Ben Gurion: "It doesn't matter what the goyim say; it matters only what the Jews do."

The Israelis have been skating along quite nicely in recent years, having bludgeoned the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank into cowed submission; playing the everlasting four-corners offense with regard to the "peace process" while putting up ever-larger settlements on Arab land; and counting on its US backers both in Congress and in the pews of Christian Zionist congregations across the Bible Belt and beyond to fend off those calling for Israeli accountability for all the misery they have inflicted.

But this, . . . this is something different.  A convoy bringing humanitarian aid to the prison into which Israel has made Gaza was stopped and boarded 40 miles - 40 MILES! - off the Mediterranean coast by elite Israeli commandos.  This is nothing other than piracy.  Nothing about it can be constrained as a legal act, and if the boarding was indeed resisted - even violently - by those on board, they had every right to do so.  Israel hasn't a legal leg to stand on.

. . . which cries out for Mr. Obama to finally, please, grow a spine; put the diplomatic wood to what has become an insane Israeli foreign policy establishment; and if need be, divest the US of an "ally" that has done nothing but damage the US's standing in the eyes of millions across the planet. 






China Bans Court Evidence Gained Through Torture

Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, John Yoo . . . please nota bene.

IDF Kills At Least 10 Humanitarian Activists as Israel Halts Flotilla Bringing Gaza Aid

As reported in today's NY Times.  Israel, of course, blames the activists, saying that they opened fire; a leader of the Free Gaza Movement rejects that explanation.  The strongest response that Mr. Obama can muster is an expression of "deep regret."  Some are blaming Obama for this crisis - allegedly he's left Israel all by its lonesome to defend itself.

I'm betting that the Israelis were not fired upon, that the Israeli government cooked up an excuse to permit itself to unleash against supporters of pro-Palestinian "terrorists" the kind of crushing disproportionate response that it has relied upon since, essentially, 1948.  In truth, it hardly matters which side fired first.  Whatever moral authority Israel still possessed was hanging by a thread before this incident.  That thread has snapped.



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Military Acts in Mideast Region

One of the rationales noted for this very worrisome decision by our shiny-bright president is to lay the groundwork for a possible US military strike on Iran - although I'll just betcha that our Israeli "allies" will be allowed a peek at the findings.
But some Pentagon officials worry that the expanded role carries risks. The authorized activities could strain relationships with friendly governments like Saudi Arabia or Yemen — which might allow the operations but be loath to acknowledge their cooperation — or incite the anger of hostile nations like Iran and Syria. Many in the military are also concerned that as American troops assume roles far from traditional combat, they would be at risk of being treated as spies if captured and denied the Geneva Convention protections afforded military detainees. . . .
The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive. The Obama administration insists that for the moment, it is committed to penalizing Iran for its nuclear activities only with diplomatic and economic sanctions. Nevertheless, the Pentagon has to draw up detailed war plans to be prepared in advance, in the event that President Obama ever authorizes a strike.

“The Defense Department can’t be caught flat-footed,” said one Pentagon official with knowledge of General Petraeus’s order.

I imagine that the Iranians now have even less excuse to be caught flat-footed themselves.



Monday, May 24, 2010

The impact of Russia's outreach to Syria

Lebanon's Daily Star has published an essay by Syrian minister Bouthaina Shaaban that, besides highlighting the US's huge military support to Israel and hypocrisy in essentially ignoring West Bank settlers' torching and desecration of Palestinian mosques, also spotlights the impact of an emerging development in Middle Eastern geopolitics: Russia's re-entry -
the meeting Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, held with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal angered the Apartheid leaders of Israel who rejected a call from Medvedev and Turkish President Abdullah Gul for Hamas’ participation in the peace process raising the question whether Russia is taking a position “in support of Islam” (see Yedioth Ahronoth, 13 May 2010: “Russia moving closer to Hizbullah too”). This interpretation implies an accusation to anyone who believes in the right of the Palestinian people to freedom of supporting Islam and Hizbullah, i.e. terrorism. This misleading campaign against Islam and Muslims aims at diverting attention from Israel’s crimes in Palestine and the crimes committed against civilians in Iraq and still being committed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If a country the size of Russia has taken this courageous decision to stress the importance of the unity of the Palestinian people for achieving just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, this means there is a fundamental change which has started to emerge. It means that the dark epoch of blind Western support to Israeli crimes is almost over and that some sense is returning to the world conscience.

Russia’s offer to provide Syria with peaceful nuclear energy and signing an agreement with Turkey to build nuclear reactors means that intimidation and blackmail are no longer effective. Putting Israel’s nuclear capacity on the agenda of the IAEA meeting next June means that the world is really fed up with the arrogance of a criminal occupying force hostile to peace and a violator of international law. It is an indication that the process towards achieving real international justice and giving a fair deal to the Palestinian people has started slowly but surely.







JR's Picks for 24 May 2010

Israelis' ideal state: A country without criticism - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News - www.haaretz.com - edit  42 seconds ago
Let us imagine the dream-country of most Israelis - without criticism,
neither from within nor from without. It speaks in one voice and is
eternally united, with devotion and cohesion; all-Jewish, that goes
without saying.
Agence Global - Article - www.agenceglobal.com - edit  30 minutes ago
Patrick Seale - The Consequences of Iran’s Nuclear Deal



Israel's navy will have its work cut out | Al Jazeera Blogs - blogs.aljazeera.net - edit  47 minutes ago
Good luck to them, and Godspeed!



Iraq at the crossroads, three months on | Al Jazeera Blogs - blogs.aljazeera.net - edit  50 minutes ago

Asia Times Online :: Central Asian News and current affairs, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan - www.atimes.com - edit  55 minutes ago
Russian visas in mix for Turkey's nuclear plant
Israel's complicity in apartheid crimes undermines its attack on Goldstone | Gary Younge | Comment - www.guardian.co.uk - edit  1 hour ago
Excellent piece that takes on Israel's hypocrisy in slamming Richard Goldstone: Gary Younge: To rubbish the former judge's report on Gaza, Israel has
dredged up his record in South Africa

Daily brief: Taliban attack Kandahar air field | The AfPak Channel - afpak.foreignpolicy.com - edit  1 hour ago

Afghanistan: Night raid by U.S. elicits outrage, satisfaction - latimes.com - www.latimes.com - edit  1 hour ago
An Afghan family says innocent people were killed, but the U.S.
military expresses certainty that those who died in the early hours of
May 14 were insurgents, including a Taliban commander.
Pakistan tribal region no simple target - latimes.com - www.latimes.com - edit  1 hour ago
The U.S. is pushing Pakistan to mount an offensive in North Waziristan,
where the suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing reportedly
trained. But the changing lineup of militant organizations there will
make the task of uprooting militancy doubly hard, experts say.
Spat over Iran may further strain relations between allies U.S., Turkey - www.washingtonpost.com - edit  1 hour ago
JERUSALEM -- President Obama said last year that the United States and
Turkey must "work together to overcome the challenges of our time."
This month, the allies couldn't have been more out of sync.
 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Ayatollah Sistani speaks re Iraq's new government

From the start of the US adventure in Iraq, the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the single most influential Shii religious authority in Iraq, has been a stalwart advocate of Iraq's national unity,  Now the WaPo reports that he has assured Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiyya party that received the most votes in the March elections, that no group will be excluded from the new government.

As things now seem to stand, that new government will be formed (though God knows when; probably not for months) by the leaders of a predominantly Shii coalition comprising the two largest Shii blocs - current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law and the Iraq National Alliance.  Sistani's pronouncements have huge influence within both of those groups and among Iraq's Shii in general.  That Sistani seems to be calling (at least as reported by Allawi) for Iraqiyya, which drew much of its electoral support from Sunni voters, to be included in the new government may be an important new development.  On the other hand, inclusion may be be equivalent to exercising any degree of effective power within that government.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Major powers have new deal fo Iran sanctions?

So report both the NYT and the WaPo.  No details - I wonder if Ms. Clinton hasn't scrambled to pull something together simply to regain the initiative from Iran-Turkey-Brazil. And I don't think that Lula and Erdogan are going to appreciate being one-upped. These days, the US is taking a bit of a risk in dissing Turkey. Or, is Hillary signaling to Erdogan: if you don't play ball on my team, you can forget about my support for your EU entry. (As if the Europeans are going to go for that anyway.)

Clueless in Kabul

The evidence is mounting that the US is close to clueless in Afghanistan - and that Mr. Obama - nothwithstanding the high hopes and best wishes with which so many of us launched his presidency -  is pouring soldiers and marines into a vortex that swirls only faster the longer the US presence there is prolonged.

  • Today, a major suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 18 people, including 6 NATO soldiers - 5 of them American.  Despite supposedly tight security in the national capital, the bomber was able to drive a van packed with more than 3/4 ton of explosives into rush hour traffic, close to the parliament building.  The NY Times Dexter Filkins has a report filled with graphic, stomach-turning detail: 

  • The blast sent a fireball billowing into the air, set cars aflame and blew bodies apart. Limbs and entrails flew hundreds of feet, littering yards and walls and streets. The survivors, many of them women and children, some of them missing limbs, lay in the road moaning and calling for help.In a passenger bus, an Afghan woman lay dead in her seat, cut in half; with her baby still squirming in her arms. Fifty yards away, a man’s head lay on the hood of a truck.
  • A recent Pentagon report makes it clear that the US project in Afghanistan is going very poorly - and as Slate's Fred Kaplan points out, "the full report is a hair-raiser. The news is almost all bad; and the few bits of good news turn out, on close inspection, to be extremely misleading."
  • The "victory" in Marja a few months ago has vanished into thin air.  The Taliban have reasserted themselves there, and there's really not much the US can do about it.
  • And other hands-on projects that the Marines have taken on have largely blown up in their faces, or even exacerbated tensions among the Afghan tribes upon whom the US hoped to build an effective resistance to the Taliban - a la the much touted Sunni Awakening that so many US think-tank warriors assert as the chief reason why the US was "successful" in Iraq.

As it now stands, the US effort in Afghanistan is going nowhere, and fast.  The Obama team hitched its wagon to two ideas that, with typical US "can-do" bravado, it was sure it could make work:
  • a strong central, "national" government at Kabul, led by our hand-picked hero, Hamid Karzai.  But Karzai is as corrupt as the next guy; he kept himself in power via major shenanigans during the 2009 election; he doggedly stands by his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is the de facto ruler of Kandahar and a major drug lord.  And . . . there never has been a truly strong central government in Afghanistan.  It runs completely counter to the political-social-cultural norm in the region.  That the US can't get its head around that is pathetic.
  • our ability to work with local tribal groups - to buy their love by giving them money for local infrastructure projects, and to rally their martial virtues against the "Taliban."  Again, the results there have been mixed, sometimes awful - with much of whatever good results that might have been achieved subsequently undercut by the US's Special Forces' infamous night raids, which all too often have "wasted" innocent locals.

It's hard to fault the on-the-ground Marines and soldiers, who've been handed a strategic lemon and are struggling to tactically make lemonade from it.  But their efforts, their misery, their sacrifice have produced nothing that can be unambiguously identified as potentially lasting progress - nor do they have any justifiable hope of doing so.

But the "solution", I fear, will likely be the one that Tom Engelhardt recently spotlighted: prolongation  and escalation of the US involvement.  Despite his "Surge," Team Obama is faced now with losing Afghanistan - not that it truly was ever his to win in the first place.  And with elections upcoming, he can't allow himself to be saddled with that.

Update: Joe Klein likewise sees no way ahead - and he just returned from Afghanistan only a few days ago.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Turkey and Brazil negotiate uranium shipment deal with Tehran

The deal calls for Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms, or 2,640 pounds of low enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, after one year, Iran would have the right to receive about 265 pounds of material enriched to 20 percent from Russia and France.

 The Israelis, of course, are whining that Iran is "manipulating" Turkey (and, I suppose, Brazil, which helped to make the deal).  No surprise; Netanyahu needs that Iranian "existential threat" of a "second Holocaust" to deflect attention from the Gaza blockade, construction in Jerusalem, and the racism of the West Bank outpost "settlers."


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iraq vote recount: No change

That the now concluded recount of votes cast in the Baghdad area has produced no major change truly ends nothing in re the continuing post-election crisis.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya party, which drew tremendous support from Iraq's previously dominant minority - the Sunni Arabs -  won the most votes, but the two largest Shii blocs (one of them headed by the current prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki) have ganged up against Iraqiya and will likely form the next government, which will ensure Shii dominance.

Mr. Allawi - and think-tanker Kenneth Pollack, one of the cheerleaders-in-chief for the idiotic invasion of Iraq - now says that there is a real danger of civil war.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Failing Counterinsurgency Strategy in Afghanistan

A report accessed by Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent (and red-flagged by Joe Klein at Time) suggests that US/NATO prospects in Kandahar are not especially promising.

An obviously flawed - and many experts will say, failing - strategy, to serve which our leaders keep sending in Marines and soldiers to be chewed up.  The appearance of Sebastian  Junger's new book, War describing the harrowing  (much too mild a description, actually) experiences of US soldiers posted to (and recently evacuated from) Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, is likely to be a much-needed wake-up call to an American public who, without the consciousness raiser of  universal military conscription, are content to ignore the whole thing.

When will the American public get its collective head around the fact that not all of America's wars can be scripted to end like World War II (a la the very popular - and well-made) current HBO series The Pacific?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Obama's Dog and Pony Show in DC: Public Diplomacy parties on, but outside the halls . . .

The NY Times reports on the "glittering" reception on tap for Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai this evening. The real "money quotes" - from Brian Katulis - appear toward the bottom:
“the fundamental issues remain the same. We have not articulated what our endgame in Afghanistan is. What exactly are we asking Karzai to do?”
This kind of dog-and-pony show, IMO, smacks of desperation.  Obama's people have no handle on what's happening in Afghanistan, on how the country really works (see this report from yesterday's WaPo about how the US military there blundered into a warring tribes mess); the Afghan police remain infested with corruption - and the Obama "Surge" is running out of time, if he indeed intends on sticking to his July 2011 start-departure timetable.

Meanwhile, the trust gap between the US and Pakistan widens . . . and the US continues to try to solve its problems there and in Afghanistan by sending drones to blow away "militants."

And the  Iraq that the US left confused, trashed, and impoverished, with millions of its people displaced, comes ever closer to a new tipping point into violence.

Meanwhile, this evening Afghan ministers will party on with US generals and officials, feasting on the finest champagne and caviar, even as the Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis whose lives have been trashed by the effects of the US's overseas adventures will be struggling to secure food and shelter.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Postpone withdrawal from Iraq?

Thus argues neocon commentator Max Boot in today's LA Times, at least in so many words.  To quote him:
It would be a tragedy if, after having spent hundreds of billions of dollars and sacrificed thousands of lives, the U.S. were to lose the endgame in Iraq. Yet that could very well happen unless senior administration officials — including the president himself — get more engaged in the process and show more flexibility in implementing the troop drawdown.
I hope Obama's not paying him too much heed.  Bush's little war stupidly forced the Iraqis to a reckoning for which they were not prepared - one that, some might argue, the Iraqis were set up for as soon as Messrs. Sykes and Picot did their little number on the Ottoman Arab heartland back in 1916.  But keeping US troops in Iraq any longer than the pull-out date agreed upon by Messrs. Bush and al-Maliki will not, in the end, prevent that reckoning.  Rather, it would do even more damage to both countries.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Where is Iraq Headed?

From all indications, in the aftermath of the recent elections Iraq is now headed for trouble - big trouble.  If the recently agreed coalition between Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance holds together (and it's not entirely certain that it can, especially if Mr. al-Maliki insists on keeping his job as prime minister), then the Iraqi government is going to be dominated by Shii religious parties that (a) have very close ties with Iran and (b) will be turning to the uppermost Shii religious leadership in Najaf (the marjayah, headed by the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) as ultimate arbiter of political disputes.

Shut out from real political power at this point are the Sunni Arab minority, who until the 2003 US invasion and deposing of Saddam Hussein had dominated Iraq's politics ever since the creation of the modern state of Iraq in 1921.  Their potential exclusion comes despite the possibility that Iraqiya, the political bloc most Sunnis supported in the election and led by the secular nationalist  Shii, and former prime minister,  Ayad Allawi - may have received the most votes of any political party.  A recount of the Baghdad vote - which Maliki demanded in the aftermath of the election, hoping to stave off defeat - is under way.  Allegations of fraud in both the initial ballot and the recount are already out there, which suggests that the results of the recount are not going to settle anything and will likely serve to complicate the issue even further.

Mr. Allawi, meanwhile, insists that the new Shii coalition was engineered by Iran (and whatever their actual role on that score, the Iranian leadership in Tehran are undoubtedly happy), which in his eyes de-legitimizes them.  And Allawi also insists that as the winner, he and his party have the right to form the next government. 

Bottom line: Iraq's Sunnis are angry, they feel cheated, and they're not going to buy into another Shii-dominated government.  Joe Klein in his Time blog feels that civil war is not imminent (and Juan Cole has been saying the same thing), and it's surely apparent that most Iraqis are fed up with the violence of their recent history.  But there's no sign that disenfranchised Sunnis are simply going to roll over and go politically dormant.

Big losers, again: the US, which (as the Center for American Progress' Iraq War Ledger shows) has plowed hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of snuffed-out or ruined lives of its military into an effort that has left Iraq devastated and has, more than anything, promoted the regional rise of a country that the US has long viewed as its greatest competitor and threat in the region: Iran.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reidar Visser: the Clock Is Turned Back to 2005 in Iraq

Posted to his enormously useful blog "Iraq and Gulf Analysis," Reidar Visser comments on the news that the two largest Shii blocs in Iraq - Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law and the Iraq National Alliance (which includes both the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq and the Sadrist trend of Muqtada al-Sadr) - have evidently combined to form a coalition that - with expected alliances with Kurdish parties - will likely permit them to form the next government.

The Winners:
  • Iraq's Arab Shia, whose domination of the Iraqi government seems set to continue
  • Iran, which has very close links to both of the larger Shii parties.

The Losers:
  • the Sunni Arabs, who had largely aligned themselves with secular Shii Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya list
  • secularists and centrists in Iraq's political demography, who will now be faced with a ruling coalition dominated by Shii religious conservatives
  • quite likely, the United States.

Why is the US a loser in this scenario?
  • because Iran will, for sure, have huge influence in Iraq's political affairs.  (Of course, even if Iraqiya were to have led the government, the Iranian weren't going to simply slink sulking away
  • because Iraq's Sunni Arabs will be very angry to have come so close to having an effective voice in Baghdad, only to see it snatched away.  Tensions are going to increase, with attendant violence; and pressure will mount on the US to delay its withdrawal to keep Iraq from spiraling downward more steeply.  More blood and treasure spent, with no happy ending really in sight
  • because the US's Sunni allies in the region (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan - those marvelous regional paragons of democracy and human rights) are going to resent the continuation of Shii sectarian domination in Iraq, and the concomitant strengthening of Iran.
Mr. Obama is going to be saddled with this, and the Republicans will be ready to play the "who lost Iraq" card for all it's worth.  I wrote long ago that Obama was going to be unfairly tarred to the mess Bush created - but I'd hoped then that I was wrong.


Another horrible cost of Mr. Bush's fiasco

Remember him?  George W. Bush?  Now living happily and quietly and undisturbed (and with no regrets about launching his war, so he says) in Texas, writing his memoirs (to make him more millions), even as his wife is raking in millions that would never have come her way if she hadn't married Boy George.

I have an idea for the two of them.  Why not donate all the millions from your book sales (and the advances they surely received) to the emotional-trauma units whose inmates - put there by Mr. Bush's adventure - are spotlighted in this AP report?

And I have an idea for my fellow citizens: PAY ATTENTION!!  Pay attention to these poor people of Iraq, who deserved none of the misery the US brought them.  And please, can we dispense with any neocon/Wall Street Journal-style chirping about the wonderful new democracy that Mr. Bush brought them?  As Sarah Palin might ask, "How's that workin' out for ya'?" Well, it's in limbo, barely functioning; it's mired in sectarian division and personal animosities; there's no solution in sight; and al-Qaeda and sectarian militias are waiting in the wings to swoop into the vacuum.)

And PAY ATTENTION to Iran!  Even as I'm sitting here, think-tank geniuses, AIPAC lobbyists, and Likudniks wherever they are are whispering "Bomb bomb Iran" into the ears of voting Congressmen on Capitol Hill and members of the oh-so-tough-talking Mrs. Clinton's State Department. 

Our imperial escapades bring costs to a lot more people than "the troops."  Or perhaps I should say, the US has racked up some humongous IOU's in the minds of thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine . . . and the list can be lengthened.  Perhaps the recently apprehended suspect in the Times Square bombing attempt was trying to collect.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rep. Israel wants Ahmadinejad arrested?!

Fox News reports that New York congressman Stephen Israel wants Iranian pres. Ahmadinejad arrested on "incitement to genocide" charges.  Why?  Because of his alleged calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Problem is - as Juan Cole and others have noted - the man called for no such thing.  A proper translation of what he said (a couple of years back - and he was quoting the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) was that the Zionist regime would eventually disappear from the pages of history - as well it likely will, as will the United States, in the centuries to come.  But a state or regime "disappearing" is hardly the same thing as "wiping from the map" said state, or (as Rep. Israel - and Mr. Netanyahu and his ilk would have us believe) eradicating its people. 

I'm as appalled and disgusted by Mr. Ahmadinejad's vile rejection of the reality of the Holocaust as is anyone.  But it's inexcusable that Israel + Netanyahu keep invoking the Ahmadinejad = Hitler, Iranian bomb = second Holocaust trope.  Absolutely nothing good comes from it; it brings us all closer to another catastrophic war; and it does great disservice and disrespect to those millions of Jewish lives Hitler's regime snuffed out.  Rep. Israel ought to be ashamed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

US and Russia to propose ban on WMD in Middle East

This, according to a report by Julian Borger in today's Guardian.  Perhaps a ploy to defuse any upcoming histrionics from Mr. Ahmadinejad at this week's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference?  Or to persuade the Egyptian delegation from hammering on Israel's undeclared arsenal?  The US is reportedly also going to divulge the exact size of its own nuclear arsenal.  Perhaps a ploy to get the Iranians to "come clean"?

I cannot imagine Mr. Netanyahu - he of the everlasting Iranian existential threat - ever, ever seeing any upside in Israel being pressured to either divulge, or eliminate, its arsenal.

And I'm puzzled that I've seen no other report on this development.



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