Following the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, Tom Regan’s Terrorism and Security Briefing for the Christian Science Monitor became a must-read for anyone who wanted a daily general analysis of counterterrorism/counterinsurgency developments around the world. Unfortunately, Regan no longer compiles the briefing. But, late last week, he quietly emerged from an undisclosed location to pen this must-read take on the ongoing post-election turmoil in Iran.
Regan notes that the West may be projecting its own collective desire for transformative political reform in the region onto a murky, still-fluid situation that is not quite the widespread democratic uprising that the mainstream media and Western political establishment would have us believe:
…I strongly believe that what are seeing in Iran is something like a reality based TV show. It’s based on a real incident, but it’s still being shaped by the show’s writers and director (ie, the western media) to be the most interesting to a Western audience. We’re only seeing the bits of tape that conform to what the western media ([which] represent us) want the story to be. It’s real but it’s not reality.
First, this is most definitely NOT a national revolution. This is a protest largely based, as I said, in northern Tehran, the more affluent and prosperous area of the city where most of the universities are located as are (surprised) the hotels where most western journalists stay. As Time’s Joe Klein (who just got back from Tehran) noted in an interview on CNN yesterday, there is no protest at all in southern Tehran, the largest part of the city where the poor and less-educated live. This is Ahmadinejad ’s base. And there is almost no protest at all in rural areas. The regime is firmly in command in most of the country, and the more repressive elements like the Revolutionary Guard have yet to really make their presence felt.
You know, this beginning to sound like Beijing 20 years ago.
Now, there is always the chance that a revolt driven by a relatively small number of the country’s population will succeed in overthrowing the country’s regime. Especially in Iran, where one revolution has already done that. But that was a revolt approved by the large majority of the people against a hated despot. This is not the same situation. If there is hatred of Ahmedinejad it comes no where near close to the hatred felt for the Shah. It’s just not going to happen.
The Likud and Kadima parties intensified their attacks against each other on Sunday after the cease-fire took effect in the Gaza Strip, formally ending Operation Cast Lead and restarting the election campaign.
The first polls taken after the cease-fire took effect indicated that the Right in general and the Likud in particular had been helped by the war.
A Channel 2/Ma’agar Mohot poll predicted that the Right-Center bloc would win 65 seats and the Left-Center bloc 55. A Channel 10/Dialog poll put the divide at 64-56. The first poll predicted a 31-23 Likud victory over Kadima, while the latter said Likud would win 29-26.
The Channel 2 poll found that 36 percent of Israelis wanted Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to become prime minister, 21% preferred Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and 14% Labor chairman Ehud Barak.
In an effort to build on its lead, the Likud announced Sunday night that it would begin a new campaign under the slogan, “Netanyahu: Strong on security, strong on the economy.” The party will make a decision in upcoming days about whether to also renew its negative campaign with the slogan “Tzipi Livni: Out of her league.”
On a visit to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Netanyahu was careful to offer veiled criticism of the cease-fire while extolling the virtues of the IDF.
“We have a strong people and a strong military that dealt a harsh blow to the Hamas, but unfortunately the work is still not done,” Netanyahu said. “The Hamas still controls Gaza and will still try to smuggle weapons into Gaza via the Philadelphi Corridor. We cannot show weakness against Hamas and its Iranian supporters. We need a strong, unwavering, persistent hand until the threat is eliminated.”
Elsewhere: Eyal Press, blogging at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ pad, on the “generational rift” in the US that was exposed by the War in Gaza between “the likes of Alan Dershowitz and William Kristol” and “a growing circle of young Jewish bloggers: Spencer Ackerman, Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, Dana Goldstein.”
The Foreign Ministry has created a special task force to prepare for the aftermath of the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza operation. The team will submit proposals for two of the army’s main concerns – Iran and Hamas taking control of Gaza’s postwar reconstruction, and the harm the offensive might cause to Israel’s image abroad.
One of the task force’s missions is to draft recommendations for the Strip’s rehabilitation. The ministry hopes to avoid a situation similar to the one in southern Lebanon after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There, Iran sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah to transfer to families whose homes had been destroyed, burnishing the militant group’s reputation among the population.
The goal is to allow the Palestinian Authority, as well as Arab and international entities, to lead reconstruction efforts and funding, taking credit for Gaza’s rehabilitation in place of Hamas or Iran.
The task force will also be charged with repairing damage to Israel’s image abroad as a result of the Gaza operation. The working assumption is that Israel has suffered a blow to its image in the West in the wake of heavy civilian casualties in the Strip.
Israeli officials believe after the fighting stops and foreign journalists are allowed entry into the territory that negative sentiment toward Israel will only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges.
Yes, Bob, thistotally proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that ordinary peoplearen’t actually dying in Gaza (shorter Lawhawk: “the chest compressions were produced on a computer in a Times New Roman typestyle that would not have been available in a war zone”). Israel is (reluctantly!) using top sekrit SMRT ordinance that only explodes upon hitting Teh Bad Guyz. Any evidence to the contrary should by default be dismissed as fauxtography mass-produced in Hamas’ secret underground lair (and people wonder why Israel continues to bar the international press from entering the strip…).
Fuck’s sake, it really is 2006 all over again–only the burning stupid engulfing Greater Wingnuttia is now a raging inferno. They deserve to have their simplistic bizarro-worldview clumsily affirmed by Joe the War Correspondent.
Israel’s military operation in Gaza is aimed primarily at forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup. But it has another goal as well: to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.
“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking of the weekly government meeting that he attended.
Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.
“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.”
The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.
A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air [Saturday], and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully’s strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.
Related: Rabbi Michael Lerner says the best way to “destroy Hamas” is for Israel to “rebuild Gaza and the West Bank with a massive Marshall Plan type enterprise—adopt our Strategy of Generosity and renounce the strategy of domination.”
Number three with a bullet for (at least) the seventh time. Sheesh–being promoted to Al Qaeda’s 3rd in command is like wearing a red shirt on the original Star Trek. But, in an interesting plot twist, the usual unnamed Western officials seem to have since revised Al-Libi’s stature to “”not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders” — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri” (CNN) and “”in the top half dozen figures in Al Qaeda”” (The LA Times)–which means that the real 3rd-from-the-top may still be on the lam.
It’s back and lazier than ever! Alas, this (long belated) edition will have to be the slackest motherfucker ever, since yours truly just got called into work early. Mea culpa–sometimes meatworld obligations have to trump blogging.
(h/t Dave @ The Beav, who also provides a transcript of Olbermann’s incindiary commentary)
The 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy says point-blank that “we face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”
And its discussion of this challenge is not limited to the issues of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
“As important as are these nuclear issues, the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran,” the document states. “The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom. The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.”
The United States won’t be able to attain that goal while Ahmedinejad is in power, and beyond that, while the mullahs are in power.
In essence, the National Security Strategy commits the United States to regime change in Iran.
And Congress, thanks to that resolution Hillary Clinton signed on to, has already designated Iran as an enemy at war with the United States, since it states that Iran is waging a “proxy war” against our forces in Iraq.
It very well may be that the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon convinced the propaganda peddlers in the White House that they can’t make the sale on Iran’s nuclear threat. Instead, they’ll hype—in fact, they’re already hyping—Iran’s role in Iraq.
I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
Finally, check out this must-read Tomgram from Dilip Hiro (h/t verbana-19) on how the USian empire, as Tom Engelhardt puts it in his as-per-usual link-laden introduction, “now finds itself on the losing end of an ever more humiliating zero-sum game with a relatively minor power.”