Thursday, June 22, 2006

Iran: it almost (and should have) turned out like this

Front paged at ePluribus Media

It was recently reported that Iran made a substantial offer to the US back in 2003 with respect to its nuclear program which was rebuffed by Bu$hCo. But that incredibly stupid move by Bush was only one of a large number of purposeful and calculated acts of stubbornness and arrogance taken by him (many at the urging of Cheney and Rumsfeld) with respect to Iran.

But, what if you knew that Iran made serious overtures to the US right after 9/11 with respect to its nuclear program, where to bomb in Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda members were likely to be hiding, and offering intelligence.

And what if you also knew that Iran offered, at least once, if not more, to (and had already) crack down on Al Qaeda members it knew were in Iran? Or that the proposals offered changes to Iran's official position with respect to Israel? Or that Iran would agree to far stricter nuclear inspections and monitoring? Or that they would not intervene in Iraq after the US invaded?

Well, it all could have turned out that way.

An article by historian Gareth Porter in the June 2006 American Prospect, (which was so nicely given out at YKos) is chock full of details portraying what could have been with respect to US/Iran relations, as well as their nuclear ambitions, the invasion of Iraq, the hunt for Al Qaeda and who knows what else. It cites sources such as Flynt Leverett, who is a CIA analyst who worked as a counter-terrorism expert at the State Department, Powell's former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson and others who were involved in the negotiation process.

It details how Iran reached out, initially after 9/11, and was blown off, essentially because Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of the neocons had their sights set on taking over the entire Middle East. It talks about how Iran reached out again in late 2002 as well as in 2003 (which has recently been reported), only to either not even be acknowledged or consciously blown off. Of course, it is of little surprise as to how much this has been ignored here in the US. For example, we have this:

The September 11 attacks created an entirely new strategic context for engagement with Iran. The evening of 9-11, Flynt Leverett, a career CIA analyst who was then at the State Department as a counter-terrorism expert, and a small group of officials met with Powell. It was the beginning of work on a diplomatic strategy in support of the U.S. effort to destroy the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda network it had harbored. The main aim was to gain the cooperation of states that were considered sponsors of terrorism.

"The United States was about to mount a global war on terrorism with complete legitimacy from the United Nations," recalls Leverett, "and these states didn't want to get on the downside of it." Within weeks, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan all approached the United States through various channels to offer their help in the fight against al-Qaeda. "The Iranians said we don't like al-Qaeda any better than you, and we have assets in Afghanistan that could be useful," Leverett recalls.

Pretty shocking that Iran, Syria, Lybia and Sudan ALL reached out to the US in the real war on terrorism. Even more shocking is how much Iran offered to help in Afghanistan - from the outset.

As America began preparing for the military operation in Afghanistan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ryan Crocker held a series of secret meetings with Iranian officials in Geneva. In those meetings, Iran offered search-and-rescue help, humanitarian assistance, and even advice on which targets to bomb in Afghanistan, according to one former administration official. The Iranians, who had been working for years with the main anti-Taliban coalition, the Northern Alliance, also advised the Americans about how to negotiate the major ethnic and political fault lines in the country.

The Iranian-U.S. strategic rapprochement continued to gain momentum in November and December 2001.


"The Bonn Conference would not have been successful without [Iran's] cooperation," he (Leverett) says. "They had real contacts with the players on the ground in Afghanistan, and they proposed to use that influence in continuing coordination with the United States."

Read that bold part again. Search-and-rescue help, humanitarian assistance, and advice on what to target. Not to mention intelligence influence and advice on the best way to work with the different ethnic groups.

And all of this was blown off by the neocons, led by Feith, two of his staffers (one of which was called "insane" by Israeli generals), Rumsfeld and Cheney. Thus, negotiations were called off. Can you imagine how Afghanistan would be if we took Iran up on their offer, regardless of what they were asking for in return (remember, this is right after 9/11 and Iran was not yet a member of the "Axis of Evil"). I bet Afghanistan wouldn't be like it is now.

Hell, even after Bush's "genius" speech labeling them as part of the Axis of Evil Iran still reached out to the US, and was still cooperating with the US against Al Qaeda:

Bush's axis-of-evil speech was followed by public charges and press leaks from the administration that Iran was deliberately "harboring" al-Qaeda cadres who had fled from Afghanistan. In fact, the Iranians had made a serious effort to cooperate with Washington on al-Qaeda, according to Leverett. When the administration requested that the Iranian government send more guards to the Afghan border to intercept al-Qaeda cadres, Iran did so. And when Washington asked Iran to look out for specific al-Qaeda leaders who had entered Iran, Iran put a hold on their visas.

Iran wasn't stupid either. They knew that Bu$hCo would likely turn their greedy eyes and wallets towards them once they invaded and "conquered" Iraq. So they did what any smart threatened country would do - they made another offer which helped both the US and Iran:

In early 2003, the Iranians believed they had three new sources of bargaining leverage with Washington: the huge potential influence in a post-Saddam Iraq of the Iranian-trained and anti-American Iraqi Shiite political parties and military organizations in exile in Iran; the Bush administration's growing concern about Iran's nuclear program; and the U.S. desire to interrogate the al-Qaeda leaders Iran had captured in 2002.

As the United States was beginning its military occupation of Iraq in April, the Iranians were at work on a bold and concrete proposal to negotiate with the United States on the full range of issues in the U.S.-Iran conflict. Iran's then-ambassador to France, Sadegh Kharrazi, the nephew of then-Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, drafted the document, which was approved by the highest authorities in the Iranian system, including the Supreme National Security Council and Supreme Leader Khamenei himself, according to a letter accompanying the document from the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, Tim Guldimann, who served as an intermediary. Parsi says senior Iranian national security officials confirmed in interviews in August 2004 that Khamenei was "directly involved in the document."

In this proposal were concessions with respect to exchanging information, having the US crack down on certain terrorist groups against the Iran regime, tighter controls by the IAEA over their nuclear program and the potential for them to recognize Israel, and to help control Hamas, Jihad and Hizbollah. In exchange for all of these concessions and more, Iran's requests included that the US end its hostile behavior and to recognize Iran's security interests in the region.

So what do the Bushies do to this? Ignore it, trash those who wanted to pursue a diplomatic (and quite possibly realistic) solution, make up lies and inflame the situation:

The outcome of discussion among the principals -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell -- was that State was instructed to ignore the proposal and to reprimand Guldimann for having passed it on.


But on May 12, 2003, a terrorist bombing in Ryadh killed eight Americans and 26 Saudis. Rumsfeld and Feith seized the occasion to regain the initiative on Iran. Three days later, Rumsfeld declared, "We know there are senior al-Qaeda in Iran ... presumably not an ungoverned area."


But in fact U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iranian government was intentionally allowing al-Qaeda to remain on Iranian soil. Contrary to Rumsfeld's disingenuous statement, U.S. intelligence did not conclude that the government knew where the al-Qaeda members from Afghanistan were located in Iran. "The Iran experts agreed that, even if al-Qaeda had come in and out of Iran, it didn't mean the Iranian government was complicit," recalls Wilkerson. "There were parts of Iran where the government would not know what was going on."

And that was that. Enter Baron von Mustache at the United Nations and we are where we are now. Iran still wants to talk. Bush and the neocons still pretend that Iran doesn't want to talk. Then they lie or throw out some nonsense to the press, who eats it up and blindly repeats it.

So here we are. And just think of how things could have been, nay, should have been had this administration actually had the US national security's interests in mind after 9/11.

And since the grand neoconservative plan doesn't call for diplomacy or really protecting anything but their own wallets, we have a half-ass job in Afghanistan, with the country in worse shape then it was before we bombed them back to the stone age. And we have this disgusting mess in Iraq that ruined our credibility and good will with the rest of the world. And we have chest thumping and threats against the very country that could have been one of the biggest assets and potential ally in the true war against worldwide terrorism.

But we were THISCLOSE to having things be oh so different. And the reasons behind the decisions to go down the path we are now on were reached and calculated deliberately to inflame conflict and perpetuate war, destruction and countless numbers of needless deaths. All for the personal gain of a select few very powerful and dangerous men.

That is pure evil. And criminal.

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