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Sunday, July 30, 2006

18 days in July 

Former CIA agent Ray Close describes how close the world is to widespread war in the Middle East:
. . . intelligence being produced for the Bush Administration by the Pentagon strongly supports the thesis that Hizballah operations are directly controlled and closely managed from Teheran ... this [is] an exaggerated picture of the real situation [which] contributes to an unhealthy and even dangerous mindset in Washington, leading to potentially serious miscalculations and errors of judgment by President Bush and his closest advisors at this very critical time . . .
Former CIA agent Larry Johnson provides further details:
I am disturbed to learn that this analysis enjoys so much credibility at the senior levels of the USG [United States government]. This is, of course, the point of view being pushed so hard by both the Israelis and the neocons in Washington.
I was equally upset to hear this view repeated unanimously (and identically) by a variety of people on national TV yesterday, coming from Senators McCain, Schumer, George Allen and John Warner as well as official spokespersons from State and the NSC. It was as if they were all reading from the same artfully crafted briefing sheet . . . It is a dangerously one-sided point of view that furthers Israel's long-standing objective of luring the US into a violent confrontation with Iran. The ultimate consequence could be that everyone in the USG --- Democrats as well as Republicans --- from the President on down --- will, by such dangerously oversimplified logic and careless rhetoric, accelerate America's momentum toward:
(1) officially defining and treating Hizballah's actions against Israel just as if they were atrocities by international terrorism aimed directly at the people of the United States, and thereby:
(2) making it almost inevitable that both political parties in the US will talk themselves into a "moral" commitment to aggressively confront those who encourage, support and harbor Hizballah terrorists (i.e. Syria and Iran), and thereby:
(3) making impossible the establishment of any constructive dialogue with either Iran or Syria in which other critical issues, such as Iraq and nuclear proliferation, for example, might be dealt with by means short of violence. In other words, this widely-supported urban legend is rapidly becoming another potentially disastrous conflation of biased intelligence analysis, simplistic political bombast and lunatic fringe right-wing Christianity that could drive us toward another major military confrontation --- whether or not that was really our carefully considered and intelligently reasoned objective.
I do not think I am overstating the danger here. Once momentum starts moving in that direction, we might soon find ourselves in another situation where stubborn pride, as much as anything else, would make it hard for us to modify our rhetoric and admit our inability and that of our Israeli allies to disarm and dismantle the military arm of Hizballah. It's a proxy war right now, but if our surrogates (the Israelis) fail to achieve their objectives, they will attempt very purposefully to broaden the conflict into a much larger one directly involving the United States and Iran.

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