Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Place yer bets! 

Justin Raimondo says Next Stop: Syria
This administration will stop at nothing - nothing! - to advance its Middle Eastern agenda, and that agenda consists of a single simple word: conquest. Anyone who really believes that Hurricane Katrina will divert this administration and the neocon cabal that has seized control of our foreign policy from pursuing their dreams of Empire is a fool. A new conflict will divert attention away from the incompetence surrounding the response to Katrina: the devastation and Bush's clueless efforts to ameliorate it will only encourage the White House to leave us with a lasting legacy of fresh horrors in the Middle East. Why are we in Iraq? All the better to go after Syria, then Iran. Saudi Arabia, too, is 'on the table' - and the feast has just begun.

Earlier, the betting seemed to be that Iran would be next, but the US isn't getting much traction right now on making Iran into the world's enemy du jour -- this Washington Post story says the US has created a powerpoint -- a powerpoint, for crying out loud! -- which unnamed US "presenters" have been shopping around the UN. The goal is to get the International Atomoc Energy Agency next week to as the Security Council for sanctions -- which the IAEA probably won't do anyway, but which Security Council certainly won't do because look how burned they got over Iraq -- fool me twice don't fool me again.
But anyway, the Bolton folks are trying -- very trying:
. . . titled "A History of Concealment and Deception," (the powerpoint) has been presented to diplomats from more than a dozen countries. Several diplomats said the presentation, intended to win allies for increasing pressure on the Iranian government, dismisses ambiguities in the evidence about Iran's intentions and omits alternative explanations under debate among intelligence analysts.
Sounds like a typical Bolton project, doesn't it - clumsy and clueless and assuming that everyone else is stupid. The story continues:
. . . Several diplomats said the slide show reminded them of the flawed presentation on Iraq's weapons programs made by then-secretary of state Colin L. Powell to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. "I don't think they'll lose any support, but it isn't going to win anyone either," said one European diplomat who attended the recent briefing and whose country backs the U.S. position on Iran . . . Robert G. Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, acknowledged last week that despite European support, the Bush administration has traveled a tough road in persuading others that Iran should face consequences for a nuclear program it built in secret. "There's a great deal of resistance . . . on the part of many governments who don't seem to place, quite frankly, nonproliferation and Iran, a nuclear-armed Iran, at the top of their priority list," he told a congressional panel last week.
Gee, maybe somebody should tell them that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. Then they'll take it seriously, I'm sure.
At the end of the story, the WP provides some more information about the powerpoint which just makes it sound increasingly pathetic:
With little new information from the [IAEA] probe, the Bush administration put together its own presentation of Iran's program for diplomats in Vienna who are weighing whether to report Iran to the Security Council. The presentation has not been vetted through standard U.S. intelligence channels because it does not include secret material. One U.S. official involved in the briefing said the intelligence community had nothing to do with the presentation and "probably would have disavowed some of it because it draws conclusions that aren't strictly supported by the facts." The presentation, conducted in a conference room at the U.S. mission in Vienna, includes a pictorial comparison of Iranian facilities and missiles with photos of similar-looking items in North Korea and Pakistan, according to a copy of the slides handed out to diplomats. Pakistan largely supplied Iran with its nuclear infrastructure but, as a key U.S. ally, it is identified in the presentation only as "another country." Corey Hinderstein, a nuclear analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security, said the presence of a weapons program could not be established through such comparisons. She noted that North Korea's missile wasn't designed for nuclear weapons so comparing it to an Iranian missile that also wasn't designed to carry a nuclear payload "doesn't make sense."

And the article also notes that Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf "refused to speculate on whether Iran, whose program was secretly aided by Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, had been designed for weapons production. But he said he feels confident Iran's aims are now peaceful and there was no need for Security Council action." So all in all, the Bolton program of demonizing Iran isn't going anywhere, so maybe Raimondo is correct and Syria is next up.

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