Some notes on Israel – Iran story I’ve been working on for almost a year

(from my personal, unordered, notes.)

the proxy war is well underway – who is minding the store?

Flashback/August 18, 2010

Israel may attack Iran Nuke plant AND enrichment facilities [Jerusalem Post story]

When Russia announced plans to load the fuel “the element of surprise was essentially taken away” from Israeli attack calculations, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told The Jerusalem Post:

“If Israel was right to destroy the Osiraq reactor, is it right to allow this one to continue? You can’t have it both ways.”

  • This is a nonsensical [Bolton] statement, but a telling one:

“We fought Nazi Germany. If we were right to go to war then against Germany we’re right to go to war now in Greenland. If it was right then it’s right now. You can’t have it both ways.”

-A conclusion not dependent on the preceding statements or facts or anything else: for Bolton, justice is always on the side of bombs.


Why is helpless Yemen our “enemy”? Why is Saudi Arabia our ally? Who are we really fighting?

Syria matters…

Did the Syria conflict start with Israel’s 2007 attack (without America’s support) on what they suspected was a nuclear reactor? (And if so, how provable is it?)

-We [military reporters and researchers] all knew that Israel hit Syria in 2007, but until Bolton was a shoe-in to replace McMaster & Israel was sure the Iran deal was dead, they didn’t admit it-

Israel admits bombing suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, warns Iran

(AP; March 20, 2018) Israel for the first time admitted that it bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 and said on Wednesday the strike should be a warning to Iran that it would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

The military released previously classified cockpit footage, photographs and intelligence documents about its Sept. 6, 2007, air strike on the Al-Kubar facility near Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria.

It said the reactor was being constructed with help from North Korea and had been months away from activation. Amos Yadlin, Israel’s military intelligence chief at the time, said on Israel Radio that even with a functioning reactor, it would have taken Syria years to build a nuclear weapon.

The Israeli military described in detail events leading up to the night of Sept 5-6, 2007, in which, it said, eight warplanes, F-16s and F-15s, carried out the mission after taking off from the

Ramon and Hatzerim air bases.

Another: (link)CNN video



Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War

By Ben Hubbard and David M. Halbfinger

April 9, 2018

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel on Monday appeared to have escalated its shadow war in Syria against Iran, with a predawn airstrike against a military base that coordinates Iranian-backed militias, killing four Iranian military advisers.

The dead included a colonel who served as a senior officer in Iran’s drone program, according to Iranian news reports.

The attack on the Syrian air base near the desert town of Palmyra in central Syria drew new attention to a conflict between Iran and Israel that has been steadily increasing in intensity while mostly hidden in the shadows of Syria’s civil war.

As Iran has taken advantage of the war’s chaos to build a substantial military infrastructure, Israel has launched scores of strikes to try to stop it, or at least to slow it down.

As the war in Syria ground on, Iran came to Mr. Assad’s aid, sending seasoned fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party that Iran supports. It later organized an international airlift of militia fighters from a number of countries to bolster Mr. Assad’s military.

Israel now worries that as Mr. Assad’s position becomes more secure, Iran has turned its focus to the military capacity it appears to be building to help it in a future confrontation with Israel.

Israeli leaders frequently threaten to bomb Iran, so having strong military proxies near Israel’s borders gives Iran some protection. If Israel attacks Iran, the thinking goes, it knows it can expect a painful response from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and perhaps from other militias now operating in Syria.

Israel had attacked the T4 base at least once before, in February, after Israel intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone that had penetrated its airspace. Israel said it targeted the command-and-control center Iran had used to launch the drone. Syria’s air defenses shot down one of Israel’s F-16 fighter jets, which crashed inside of Israel.

It was the first Israeli plane lost to enemy fire in decades, and Israel responded with a broad wave of strikes against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

Worried that Iran is using the cover of the war to strengthen its allies in Syria, Israel has repeatedly launched airstrikes on what it believed to be weapons convoys bound for Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill in a monthlong war in 2006 that killed hundreds of people.

The Israeli government never acknowledges individual strikes, and the Syrian government and Hezbollah do not always acknowledge when they have been hit. But last August, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the outgoing commander of the Israeli Air Force, acknowledged that Israel had launched nearly 100 strikes on convoys since 2012.

Link below:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/world/middleeast/syria-russia-israel-air-base.html

Foreign Policy: One Million Refugees

Half of Europe’s asylum seekers in the last two years were still awaiting word on whether they could stay at the end of 2016.

via Study: About One Million Refugees Left in Limbo in Europe Through 2016 — Foreign Policy

I am not a spy

 “Charlie Wilson’s War”

“I am not a spy”

Five words I never, ever thought I would have cause to say.

Sometimes I think in metadata.

No one like me can help it. And just in metadata terms, I cross-hatch at a whole lot of points that necessarily place me in a fairly narrow pool. But I don’t need to assume, because  last summer I was made aware that I am “selected.”

It almost sounds flattering. Instead, it makes me concerned that my friends and allies around the world might get hurt or compromised by their proximity to me. It makes me afraid to communicate with them because I know that could put them at risk, and these are courageous people who have already put themselves at risk and don’t need me adding to it.

Even though I am not a spy.

It’s hard to believe that only a year and a half has passed since I was asked to review an enormous amount of Putin media – stretching back to his Munich speech nearly a decade ago – causing me to became extraordinarily concerned at how intently “we” were ignoring Russia and Putin. The media never mentioned Russia. No one did, except for the occasional jab at him shirtless on horseback or his repugnant repression and aggression toward gays and women.

And until I spent that month or so watching and listening to Putin so much that I couldn’t turn his voice off in my head even as I went to sleep, I hadn’t noticed that we were ignoring him. Because you don’t notice that. And now, for anyone without that  “X” of demarcation in place and time, I understand that me simply stating the opinion that we were ignoring him and Russia probably carries little weight. And for me to go one step farther and say that it was purposeful must seem quite thin, indeed.

However, there is no way for anyone, even an American with no knowledge of Russia or Putin, to take even a small sampling of Putin over the last decade, translated into English – as much of it is – and not be fully convinced that to not cover Putin as anything but a caricatured villain could be nothing but purposeful. Because he has been making a case to the world at large during that time, and it is a damning one, because it is true.

Let me repeat that. The case that Putin has been making in any and every forum possible, is damning. And it is damning because

 it is true.

So when Russia, who I understood we were fighting in proxy-wars across the Middle East – as, of course, did every Russian and Middle East scholar – finally came rushing back into the headlines in the way that it did, it was scary.

Most Russia experts were both dismissive and concerned about the sudden turn and propagandist tone of the media following the election. For anyone still harboring even a shred of trust in our supposed “news” outlets before the Democratic primaries, after them, we had no doubts about just how venal and untrustworthy our sources of “news” were. They proved it with their shameful and duplicitous “coverage” of the election. They were not, and have not been actual “news” for a long time.

And as they now continuously – and rightly, by the way – point out in referring to Donald Trump, once you’ve lost your credibility, it’s a bitch to get it back.

With hindsight, I recently decided to go back and watch some of the coverage I was too disgusted to watch before, beginning around the time of the inauguration, and it wasn’t just bias and anger on my part that made it seem so over-the-top propagandistic.

It really was bad. The only reason that it appears better now is that they aren’t forcing a story, they’re covering a story. Sort of, at least. Of course, they’re ignoring really important things and fanning flames that need not be fanned, but nonetheless, there is “there” there.

But even that requires some context. From the start both media and politicians alike acted with a ridiculous amount of self-righteousness for a country that has been overthrowing leaders, rigging elections and staging bloody coups since at least the mid-20th century. But of course, one need not go back that far. Our fingerprints are all over the death and destruction in the Middle East. We overthrew Saddam Hussein because we wanted to.

Which leads me back to where I started.

First, a disclaimer. Although I think the demonization of Russia for succeeding in doing what we do all the time in other countries is hypocritical bullshit, that does not translate, in any way, to Americans helping, approving of, or having knowledge of any foreign government or non-foreign actor seeking to act in any way contrary to the best interests of our country and its institutions, fucked up though they may be. And I have no doubt at this point, from my own sources and the overwhelming barrage of public evidence, that that is exactly what happened in this case. 

So, we are through ignoring Putin, but appear more determined than ever not to understand the situation, and understanding the situation is vital. 

As usual, instead of taking on all the data points to make my case, I will choose just one big, bold target that most Americans actually know about, at least in passing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin: Speech on Crimea

Address_by_President_of_the_Russian_Federation_2014

Кры́мская речь Влади́мира Пу́тина
Crimean speech of Vladimir Putin
March 18, 2014

I remember him making this speech live, and I remember it so well because I happened to be online when it began streaming – in Russian with no translation – and remember my ex demanding to know what the hell Putin was saying, and demanding it of me. 

(He had a PoliSci degree from Boston College with a focus on Russia. Yeah, totally useless, I know. Nevertheless, I guess it explains why we were both too riveted to leave it and go in search of the same speech, live, with a proper translator.)

So that’s how I ended up frantically attempting to translate a speech by Putin that the U.S. would “cover,” but not really. Because the meat of the speech was directed right at America. 

The whole point, really, of the speech – which can be read in full at a million sites by anyone –

was an indictment of America.

It was Putin, saying

“Who in the hell are you, America, to condemn us for this?”

(I don’t think we have an answer for that. If we have one, I’ve yet to hear it.)

Putin went down a laundry list of American wrongs. American arrogance. American aggression. And unlike some other times in history, he didn’t need to make any of them up. He didn’t need to inflate the facts. The facts were damning enough on their own.

So, now, with a few years having passed, and with our wondrous and free internet of information, surely all this is easily found by just going to Wikipedia, right?

No, not really. This is as close as the English Wikipedia article comes:

Putin condemned the West’s reaction to the events in the Crimea and sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian politicians. Russian President expressed gratitude to the people of China, praised the restraint of India. Appealed to the U.S. freedom-loving people, stressing that freedom of the Crimean population is the same value. Referring to the fact that not all allies sympathized with Germany in 1989, it merged with the German Democratic Republic, Putin said that while the USSR supported the Germans sincere desire for national unity. The President expressed confidence that German citizens support the aspirations of the Russian world to restore the unity of ‘Crimea will remain Russian and Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. It will be home to the representatives of all the peoples living there. But he will never Bandera‘.

Putin assured that Russia will not seek confrontation with the West and the East, and stressed that Russia and Ukraine — are one people. Ukraine will continue to live millions of Russian citizens, which means that Russia will always defend their interests.

Putin’s speech lasted 45 minutes. During the speech, Putin used the term “natsional-predateli” (“national-traitors”) which is a calque from the German term Nationalverräter.[6][7][8] The refusal to accept the new Ukrainian government he explained in the unlawful events on Euromaidan: Groups “wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and pogroms. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.” Nevertheless, he expressed appreciation to those protesting peacefully against corruption, inefficient state management and poverty.

So, as a non-Russia hating, radical, subversive hacker whose formal education was in Chemistry, speaks the wrong languages, thinks Israel commits war crimes and that America does as well, is embedded in the center of the proving grounds of the Military Industrial Complex and whose entire life was spent under the tutelage of a father that essentially made the Surveillance State possible, I just want to say, for the record:

I am not a spy.

YouTube: Vladimir Putin’s Speech on the annexation of Crimea

Translated speech, starting part way into the “fuck you, America” section, because it’s pretty much all “fuck you, America.” I just trimmed off some of the windup.

MOOC Mania

 

I have become a certified MOOC freak. There are several different platforms for MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses – such as edX and Coursera, and happily many others are available on YouTube. (Many are available through those platforms as well as on YouTube.)

I prefer the edX platform if I use one. I have never gotten a certificate or worried about that at all, so I ride free, just for the joy of cramming my ever-curious mind.

What’s so amazing is that anyone at all can, for free, peek in at some of the most elite and incredible classes being taught today.

Harvard’s most popular course, Justice,” for instance, taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is a class everyone should at least check out. I am big on “archived” courses, because they are always “self-paced,” but Justice actually just began again for real, so check it out.

Here’s the little course intro video and text below:

Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.

Other favorites of mine are Boston University’s War for the Greater Middle East taught by the amazing Andrew Bacevich – archived now at edX – and all three of the foremost Lincoln/Civil War Historian’s – (Dr. Eric Foner’s) – courses on Civil War and Reconstruction from Columbia University.

Jump in!