Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 20, 2005 - Condoleezza Rice Voices Tough Line on Iran
Posted on 01/20/2005 12:57:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
Condoleezza Rice Voices Tough Line on Iran
Wed Jan 19, 2005 01:48 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice articulated a firm U.S. line against Iran's ruling mullahs, whose nuclear ambitions the Bush administration considers a major threat, in testimony at her Senate confirmation hearings.
In two days of Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings that ended on Wednesday, Rice repeatedly emphasized differences with Tehran's clerical leaders, saying: "It's really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished."
Rice did not rule out an eventual U.S. acceptance of a Europe-Iran nuclear energy technology deal, but did not endorse it.
"At some point Iran has to be held accountable for its unwillingness to live up to its international obligations," she said of the nuclear issue.
Some U.S. sources have said the administration is reviewing its Iran policy, which in Bush's first four years was the subject of intense debate.
Some Republican conservatives advocate a more assertive U.S. policy of support for Iranian reformers, including possibly covert operations.
Rice did not address this, and U.S. policy toward Iran was not a primary focus of senators, who spent more time probing U.S. decision-making on Iraq.
Many experts have urged Bush to negotiate with Iran on the issues that divide the two long-time adversaries, including U.S. claims that Tehran supports Islamic militants, harbors al Qaeda operatives and undermines Mideast peace efforts.
"This is just a regime that has a really very different view of the Middle East and where the world is going than we do" including an "appalling" human rights record, Rice said.
Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island accused Rice of "accentuating and magnifying" U.S. disputes with Iran while seeking common cause with China, another country with whom Washington has many differences.
On Tuesday, Rice reiterated that if Iran does not abandon its nuclear programs, the issue should be sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Washington insists Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons but Tehran says it only wants to produce nuclear energy.
The EU three -- Britain, France and Germany -- negotiated a deal under which Iran agreed to suspend nuclear activities in return for nuclear technology but the administration has been extremely doubtful this will solve the problem.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the committee's senior Democrat, pressed Rice on whether the administration might embrace the EU deal if Iran implemented a verifiable ban on nuclear and missile production.
If the nuclear issue is as critical as Bush suggested, the president should be ready to accept such a deal, he said.
Rice replied: "I think we would have to say that the relationship with Iran has more components than the nuclear side. But let's see how far the Europeans get and take a look at where we are."
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Condoleezza Rice to rein in rogues
January 20, 2005
AMERICA'S next Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday kept attention on Iran's nuclear ambitions and highlighted a fresh list of rogue states needing close US attention.
In her confirmation hearing, Dr Rice echoed President George Bush's "Axis of Evil" list with her own "Outposts of Tyranny".
"In our world there remain outposts of tyranny and America stands with oppressed people on every continent in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe," Dr Rice told a Senate committee considering her nomination to succeed Colin Powell as Secretary of State.
In a tough day of questioning, she declined to hose down growing talk that the US is considering an attack on Iran.
A leading American journalist this week reported that US operatives are already in Iran, scouting potential military targets. The White House has not denied the main claims of the article.
Dr Rice said that Iran's nuclear and weapons programs had to be stopped, preferably through diplomacy.
"We must remain united in insisting that Iran and North Korea abandon their nuclear weapons," she said.
"At some point Iran has to be held accountable for its unwillingness to live up to its international obligations."
In her opening statement Dr Rice made it clear greater efforts should be made to put America's case to the world and listen to the response.
"The time for diplomacy is now," she said.
"Our interaction with the rest of the world must be a conversation, not a monologue."
Among those firing questions was former presidential candidate John Kerry.
Senator Kerry said the US Administration's current policy is "growing the insurgency, not diminishing it".
Dr Rice admitted mistakes had been made in Iraq, but things were not as bad as they seemed.
One senator suggested her loyalty to Mr Bush "overwhelmed your respect for the truth" by knowingly making misleading statements about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism to sell the US invasion.
"Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything," Dr Rice said.
"It is not my nature. It is not my character."
Dr Rice, 50, is almost assured of winning confirmation and will be sworn in as Secretary of State on Friday.
from the January 20, 2005 edition
Forced by 9/11 to leave his critical view of "nation-building" behind, President Bush could easily use his Inaugural Address Thursday to quote Woodrow Wilson, that consummate advocate for US leadership in building up other nations and expanding democracy.
Bush's Democracy Project
In the midst of World War I, just before sending US troops to help free Europe from German expansionism, the 28th president used his second inaugural to make this point about America's place in the world: "We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the 30 months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world." Then he added that all nations are "responsible" for maintaining world peace, including the "political stability of free peoples."
The idea of spreading freedom has waxed and waned in US history. Such an expensive undertaking requires dollars and lives that Americans may not want to give to help others. But President Bush has identified this goal as the main foreign-policy thrust of his second term. He now recognizes that democracy, because of the self-determination it provides, is the best guarantor for peace during a long campaign against Islamic terrorism.
US values that unite
His theme could be an ennobling unifier for Americans, who remain polarized in their politics. In her Senate confirmation hearings this week, Secretary-of-State designate Condoleezza Rice gave a reminder of how the nation can come together when it struggles for its basic values. She spoke of her experience growing up in Birmingham, Ala., during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
"The story of Birmingham's parents and teachers and children is a story of the triumph of universal values over adversity," she stated. These values, she added, "unite Americans of all backgrounds." And indeed, the sacrifice of a Martin Luther King and those of American soldiers liberating others from tyranny do have common cause.
Dr. Rice reminded her Senate questioners that the freedom struggle will take decades (a hint to anyone looking for full democracy in Iraq).
Getting Americans behind Bush's democracy goal may be easy. The difficult issue is how to carry it out, especially in the need to win over allies.
Whether by necessity, or because of a genuine change of heart, the president has finally learned that Washington needs to treat its global partners better. As Rice put it: "Our interaction with the rest of the world must be a conversation, not a monologue."
She plans to put a greater emphasis on diplomacy - more travel for her, and more personal persuasion. Her picks as her top two assistants - the US trade negotiator and the US ambassador to NATO - hint that Washington will be more inclusive of allies and rely more on international institutions.
A good example was the US coordination with Europe during the tense elections in Ukraine late last year. That joint pressure helped Ukraine's democratic protesters overturn a rigged election that would have perpetuated authoritarianism in that strategic country.
Still, the task of creating more new democracies takes more than diplomacy. Trade and military assistance are also useful. The president has yet to signal how proactive he will be to push authoritarian leaders. The neo-conservatives in his administration see aggressive promotion of democracy as essential to protecting the democracies that exist, even to the point of invading nations like Iraq. Bush needs to indicate whether those kinds of controversial choices are still possible.
'Neocon' view still alive
In identifying six "outposts of tyranny" (Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Iran, Belarus, and Zimbabwe), Rice indicates the neoconservative outlook is alive and well (although she specifically said the US has no plan to attack North Korea, while Bush suggested he retains a military option against Iran's nuclear program).
Many constraints will hinder an aggressive approach. Rice pointed to increasing authoritarianism in Russia, but the reality is that the US relies on Moscow as an ally in the war on terrorism. And won't the unresolved situation in Iraq continue to eat up time, focus, and dollars?
The most immediate need for US support of democracy is in creating a Palestinian state. That would do more to spawn Middle East democracies than the effort in Iraq. Rice should make an Israeli-Palestinian peace pact her top priority.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Democrats Support Bushs Iran Policy
By Joshua Frank
By now you have probably heard about the Bush Administrations secret plan to attack Iran and how US Special Forces units have been operating in the country for some time. Seymour Hersh, the maverick journalist for the New Yorker, broke the story earlier this week.
The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least temporarily derail, Irans ability to go nuclear. But there are other, equally purposeful, motives at work, writes Hersh. The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership.
It is a scathing indictment. The Bush Administration, which has avoided going through Congress to initiate its covert operations, is conducting this potential invasion much differently than the Iraq incursion. The reasons may be political in nature. The US public, or at least those who opposed the Iraq war, made it somewhat difficult for Bush to instigate war against Saddam Husseins regime.
Gathering in the streets, and later on Capitol Hill, they forced a public discussion, carefully scrutinizing Bushs motives. Now that many of Bushs claims about Iraqs WMD program and ties to Al Qaeda have been disproven (though Bush might beg to differ), Bush and company may be struggling to garner sufficient support to justify waging another war with an already strained military.
But the Bush administration may not have to worry about the opposition for round two. While Hersh surmises that opposition to Bushs Iran invasion could be carried out with Israeli special operatives, political opposition may never reach the doorsteps of Congress. After all, the Democrats have long agreed that Iran must be dealt with militarily.
Recently, the Democratic Partys rising progressive star Barack Obama said he would favor surgical missile strikes against Iran.
As Obama told the Chicago Tribune on September 26, 2004, [T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point ... if any, are we going to take military action?
He added, [L]aunching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in given the ongoing war in Iraq. On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if violent Islamic extremists were to take over.
Senator John Kerry echoed this sentiment on May 29, 2004, when he told the Washington Post that the Bush Administration has not been tough on the [Iran] issue which is the issue of nuclear weaponry, and again just like I said with North Korea, you have to keep your eye on the target.
Even DNC chair hopeful Howard Dean, allegedly the liberal arm of the Democratic Party, concurs Bush has not been tough enough on Iran. The Forward quotes Dean as saying, The United States has to ... take a much harder line on Iran and Saudi Arabia because theyre funding terrorism.
In fact, while campaigning for president, Dean argued that President Bush had been far too soft on Iran. In a March appearance on CBS Face The Nation, Dean even went so far as to say that [President Bush] is beholden to the Saudis and the Iranians.
Foreign Policy expert Stephen Zunes wrote of the Democrats platform in Foreign Policy in Focus on August 12, 2004:One possible target for American forces under a Kerry administration is Iran. The platform implies an American right to such military intervention by stating that a nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable risk to us and our allies. No concern is expressed, however, about the already-existing nuclear arsenals of Irans neighbor Pakistan or of nearby Israel. Iran has called for a nuclear-free zone in the region, which the Democrats appear to reject, apparently because it would require Americas regional allies to get rid of their nuclear arsenals as well. The Democrats, like the Republicans, believe that instead of pushing for multilateral and verifiable arms control treaties, the United States can effectively impose a kind of nuclear apartheid, unilaterally determining which countries can have nuclear weapons and which countries cannot.
So are we really supposed to believe the Democrats will ever offer up any significant opposition to Bushs military dabbling in Iran?
Not unless by opposition to you mean support for.
Thursday 20th January, 2005
Iran snaps back at U.S. veiled threatsBig News Network.com
Thursday 20th January, 2005(UPI)
Iran brushed aside veiled U.S. threats to attack its nuclear facilities as a psychological war of intimidation and political pressures.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Asafi was quoted by the Iranian News Agency, IRNA, as saying Wednesday that Iran, backed by its people and great military capabilities will respond firmly to any erroneous action although we consider such threats as a psychological war of intimidation and political pressures.
He said the U.S. administration got involved in many crises as a result of the policies and acts of the extremist neo-conservatives, and the only way to correct that situation is through reviewing and reconsidering its wrong policies.
U.S. President George Bush said in an interview of CBS television that Washington hopes to settle Iran's controversial nuclear case through diplomacy, but he did not rule out other choices if Iran insisted on keeping secret its nuclear activities.
IRAN LAUNCHED HUNT OPERATIONS TO FIND US COMMANDOS
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005
PARIS 20 Jan. (IPS) Iranian authorities have launched a massive, but discrete operation aimed at finding and arresting possible American commandos that an American investigative journalist said are now operating inside Iran.
Though officials continued on Wednesday to issue strong, but unconvincing and incoherent warnings against the report, but Iran Press Service has learned from informed sources that the report is taken very seriously.
The authorities dismissed the report as a psychological warfare and absurdly baseless.
The report, signed by prize-winner, investigative journalist Seymon Hirsh and published in the New Yorker magazine says US commandos have been operating inside Iran, selecting nuclear and other sensitive military sites for possible air strikes with the help of Pakistan.
The authorities dismissed the report as a psychological warfare and absurdly baseless.
"American commandos are not able to enter Iran so easily to spy. It would simplistic to accept such an idea", said Ali Aqa Mohammadi, Head of the Foreign Propaganda Department of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
"We know our borders", he added, ridiculing the report that says the commandos had been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 to search out potential targets for attack -- something the magazine said could come as early as mid-2005.
According to Mr. Hirsh, the journalist who, among other investigative articles since the Vietnam war, revealed the abuses on Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in the Baghdads notorious Abou Qorayeb prison, the operations are part of a world-wide campaign against terrorism waged by the Bush Administration and aimed at eradicating terrorism before his present mandate ends.
Contrary to Mr. Aqamohammadis statement, Iranian borders with all its neighbours, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two countries where the Americans have huge military presence, are difficult to control, as seen by the flow of smugglers that operates in the region, the source pointed out on condition of anonymity.
However, while Pakistan has denied any involvement in the reported operations and the Pentagon has said the article was "riddled with errors", President George W. Bush told the NBC that he could not rule out military action against the Islamic Republic if the United States and the Europeans failed to persuade the Iranian ruling ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear energy programme.
For her part, the new US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirmed that the Islamic Republic, like Cuba, Zimbabwe, Belarus or North Korea will continue to remain under pressures by the United States and urged united world action to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Reiterating that Washington would continue actions to bring the case of Iranian nuclear activities before the United Nations Security Council to consider possible economic sanctions, she told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that if the Iranians do not show that they're going to live up to their international obligations then we shall refer them to the Security Council".
In a response, Hamid Reza Asefi, the Iranian deputy Foreign Affairs Minister said Iran viewed recent comments by U.S. officials as "a psychological campaign and political pressure" and urged Ms. Rice to review Washington's misguided foreign policy approach towards Iran and the rest of the world.
"The United States has fallen into an abyss of several crises as a result of the wrong attitude of its hard line neo-conservatives. There is no way out unless it reviews and corrects its past mistakes", he said, adding, "We recommend the new secretary of state reviews the false and failed policies of the United States and avoid making the same mistakes," Asefi said.
"We are not afraid of foreign enemies' threats and sanctions, since they know well that throughout its Islamic and ancient history, Iran has been no place for adventurism, Head of the influential Expediency Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a possible future Iranian president told the state news agency IRNA on Tuesday.
He was immediately echoed by the Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani, saying that Iran has acquired a strong military capability and will deter any attacks against it.
Iran did not fear the United States. We can say we have developed a might that no country can attack us because they do not have accurate information about our military capabilities", he added.
We are not afraid of foreign enemies' threats and sanctions.
But military experts say Iranian armys equipments, including its air force, are aged and lack modern weapons.
Iran is far less modern military power than it was under the former Monarchy regime or compared to the time of war with Iraq, wrote Mr. Anthony Cordesman in a long report on the situation of present Irans armed forces.
Most of Irans military equipment is old and or second rate and most ot them are worn, he added.
But while Mr. Aqamohammadi was accusing Washington to wage the anti-Iranian campaign in order to influence forthcoming elections in neighbouring Iraq to its liking, Mr. Asefi said Washington was determined "not to help and encourage the constructive nuclear negotiations between Iran and the EU".
On 15 November 2004, Iran and the so-called European troika, namely Britain, France and Germany reached a consensus to provide Tehran with some nuclear technologies for civilian purposes against Iran suspending its nuclear activities, mostly enriching uranium.
The Board of Governors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency that is investigating Irans controversial atomic programmes endorsed the Paris agreement at its last and stormy meeting.
But according to Mr. Hirsh, American hawks are hoping that the talks between Tehran and the Europeans would eventually fail to give positive result and are banking on a reversal of the Troikas position soon.
"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I won't ever take any option off the table", Mr. Bush told NBC. ENDS IRAN US NUKE 20105
Iran media scorn New Yorker story
Iranian media commentators are refusing to take seriously a claim in the American news magazine The New Yorker that US special forces are operating in Iran targeting military sites as a prelude to a possible military strike.
The report by the journalist Seymour Hersh is viewed as a part of a campaign of psychological warfare against Tehran, and is also seen as reflecting a split within US security circles.
"Although America is the biggest enemy of Iran...this [report] is bombast and a big lie," says the conservative daily Siyasat-e-Ruz.
"Certain groups in Iran and America have launched a campaign of psychological warfare to show the economic and military presence of America in the country in order to deprive Iranians from their power of electoral manoeuvre in the next election."
Iranians are due to vote in an election for a new president later this year.
America cannot invade Iran like Iraq and Afghanistan, since American strategists know that there is an unbreakable link between the people and the political system
Another conservative daily, Resalat, also believes the report is part of "the massive negative propaganda of imperialist media against the Islamic Republic of Iran".
"America cannot invade Iran like Iraq and Afghanistan, since American strategists know that there is an unbreakable link between the people and the political system," it warns.
"The secret of the Islamic Republic's success against enemy plots and threats is the fact that the people are always present to defend the achievements of the Islamic Revolution."
The reformist Shargh quotes analysts as saying the Hersh report "proves that the CIA and Pentagon are at loggerheads and that the information in the report was leaked by the CIA".
Linking the story to the efforts by EU countries to get Tehran to curtail its nuclear activities, Shargh warns them that "they cannot expect any guarantee from Iran in mutual confidence-building if they cannot guarantee that their pledges are supported or at least respected by the US".
An Iranian radio commentator believes that the new US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will find it hard to up the ante against Tehran, despite what he described as her "hostile" remarks before the Senate Foreign Policy Committee.
"Besides supporting the Europeans' talks with Iran, Rice could offer no alternative...This is the reason for the Americans' decision not to oppose the European initiative to maintain talks and constructive interaction with Iran. America has no other tool at its disposal to deal with Iran," the commentator continues.
Noting that Ms Rice spoke of Washington's desire "to mend its strained relations with the rest of the world", the commentator concludes: "Contrary to her harsh slogans against Iran, in practice she may be compelled to adjust America's hostile policies against our country."
BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.
Survey: Americans oppose Iran invasionBy Anwar Iqbal
UPI South Asian Affairs Analyst
Published January 19, 2005
WASHINGTON -- A major new national opinion survey of 1,608 American voters released this week shows that only 42 percent would support the U.S. invasion of Iran to stop its nuclear program.
Nearly half -- 47 percent -- of U.S. voters would oppose such a move and 11 percent are unsure.
The survey was conducted by the Washington-based Opinion Research Corporation for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Results For America, which is a project of the Civil Society Institute.
The survey comes amid media reports that the United States was contemplating military actions against Iran's nuclear sites.
President George Bush told NBC News on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran if that country was not forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons program.
"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table, if Iran continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program," said Bush.
Iran denies it has been trying to make nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is geared solely to producing electricity.
The survey shows that less than one in 10 American voters -- 7 percent -- think that the primary focus of American foreign policy and security should be on the "democracy building" that is now the major thrust of U.S. efforts in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Civil Society Institute President Pam Solo said: "The Iraq experience clearly has been a sobering one for Americans. Voters are embracing a 'new realism' in foreign policy and security matters that puts more emphasis on safer U.S. borders, intelligence gathering, diplomatic initiatives, multinational interventions when necessary and greater energy efficiency in order to decrease America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil."
The survey also shows that voters want to de-emphasize current strategies such as nation building, unilateral military invasions and the direct or indirect use of torture. The American public seems ready for an open, honest and democratic debate on the best course of action.
Keeping in mind how the war in Iraq has gone so far, voters were asked if they are now more or less likely to support a greater emphasis by the U.S. on diplomacy and multi-nation military action versus a 'go it alone' approach. A clear majority of 64 percent are now much or somewhat more likely to support diplomacy and multi-nation action. Interestingly, there was no difference on this question between Bush and Kerry voters.
The ORC survey of 1,608 voters was conducted Dec. 2-6, 2004 and found that voters strongly support the following foreign policy initiatives:
-- America's highest foreign and military policy priority should be close to home -- "defense of U.S. borders and homeland security" was selected by a plurality of 43 percent of voters versus considerably smaller groups identifying their top priority as "democracy building" in other nations (7 percent) or "going it alone" on military interventions (6 percent).
-- 64 percent support a greater emphasis on diplomacy and multi-national military action than is currently the case in the U.S.
-- 81 percent agree that it matters whether people around the world respect our country and that the U.S. needs the rest of the world on its side to effectively fight terrorism.
-- 86 percent feel it is important for the U.S. administration to pursue a fuel efficiency target of 40 miles per gallon, in part in order to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
-- 65 percent favor the U.S. taking a leadership role to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, voters strongly oppose the following foreign policy actions or initiatives:
-- Strong majorities of American voters believe that a number of current policies leave the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including: acting alone without international support (71 percent); and U.S. involvement in Iraq (71 percent).
-- Two-thirds oppose a long-term occupation of Afghanistan or Iraq;
-- 81 percent think access to Middle Eastern oil plays a role in U.S. foreign policy and about half think the U.S. policy of keeping oil prices down (thus increasing U.S. dependence on it) is not in their best interests.
-- A strong majority oppose the use of torture in other countries (66 percent) or by this country (75 percent) even to crackdown on terrorists.
-- Over half (54 percent) do not support the U.S. extending its "unquestioning" support to Israel if doing so undercuts U.S. interests.
The ORC survey found U.S. voters roughly split on the following issues: the wisdom of the Iraq invasion; invading Iran or North Korea to stop nuclear proliferation; continuing to support undemocratic regimes that are US allies; the likelihood of Iraq becoming a stable democracy; and keeping a military presence in the Arabian peninsula for security reasons despite religious objections of the Saudi population.
The survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of 2,090 adults 18 years old or older residing in private households in the continental United States.
Respondents were screened for voting in the 2004 presidential election. These findings are based on the 1,608 respondents who say they voted.
The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the entire sample. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins, the surveyors said.
Iran hardliners threaten to kill exile TV man19 Jan 2005 16:13:18 GMTSource: Reuters
TEHRAN, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A hardline Iranian religious group threatened on Wednesday to carry out suicide attacks on a UK-based Iranian exile TV presenter, saying his broadcasts were inflammatory and insulted Islamic values.
Mojtaba Bigdeli, the spokesman of Iran's Hizbollah group, said the British government must ban the satellite channel run by Iranian exiles within 30 days or face the consequences.
"After one month, our commandos will carry out suicide attacks in London against the shameless presenter of the channel," Bigdeli told Reuters by telephone.
He said his group was independent of Lebanon's Hizbollah, which analysts say receives training and financing from Iran.
Farsi language Ma-TV presenter Manouchehr Fouladvand's comments, mocking the Prophet Muhammad and Islam's holy book the Koran, have spurred several hardline commentators in Iran to demand his death.
"He has crossed our red lines by insulting our prophet and Islamic values," Bigdeli said.
British embassy officials in Tehran were not immediately available for comment. Previously they had criticised Fouladvand's views while defending his right to free speech.
Bigdeli said Hizbollah had the green light from some top clerics to kill the presenter. "This is Hizbollah's view and we have discussed it with some clerics," he said. "We are sure that they will approve it."
Late last year, Iran's Interior Ministry said such groups could operate only "as long as their ideas are limited to theory."
Asked if any of the group's commandos had carried out similar attacks abroad in the past, Bigdeli said: "We have never had any operations abroad."
Ma-TV is one of several Persian-language satellite stations popular among Iranians in the Islamic republic.
1/19/2005: Iran's Leaders Call for Martyrdom and Jihad
Irans Leader Calls for Shahada and Warns Against the Enemies of the Culture of Jihad
In a message to the 8th Congress on Martyred Students, Irans Leader Ali Khamenei said:
The enemies of Iran tried to humiliate and diminish the value of martyrdom [shahada] and the culture of Jihad in the eyes of the youth, particularly students... Shahada means the giving of ones greatest material asset for an ideal, the revival and fertilization of which are for the good of humanity. This is one of the most beautiful human values, and when this ideal is pleasing to Allah as well and is the aspiration of all Allahs messengers this value is the supreme human virtue, and cannot be measured by any material criterion. Acceptance of this [ideal] is the same wondrous element that gives those fighting Jihad for the path of truth the strength to overcome any scheme of the front of hostility.
Khamenei urged students to continue to promote the culture of Jihad and martyrdom among themselves as a source of national strength and a characteristic of pure worship... When we encounter the name of a student who committed martyrdom we are confident that the acceptance of martyrdom and of the Jihad that led to this martyrdom stemmed from [the martyrs] self-awareness and clear desire, and this intensifies the value of the act. Sanctify and praise your exalted martyrs and place your trust in the help and support of Allah. 
Iranian Revolutionary Guards General: We Must Train Forces Ready to Commit Martyrdom; Iran Is the Third Largest Power in the Region in Ballistic Missile Production
The official Iranian news agency MEHR quoted a senior Revolutionary Guards officer, General Shabani, in charge of Irans Security Forces Staff and Command College, who spoke at a memorial service for the martyrs from the University of Qom.
General Shabani said: Iran is the third [largest] power in the region in the field of ballistic missile production, following China and Russia.
In celebration of the eighth anniversary in memory of the martyrs from the University of Qom, General Shabani praised the exalted status of the Islamic revolutions martyrs, saying: As the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] said, The martyrs are the quintessence of our strength. Therefore, we must educate and train forces ready to commit martyrdom attacks in order to counter the enemy.
In the event of a war with the U.S. we must fight them asymmetrically. As of now, we have manufactured weapons systems and we have attained nuclear capabilities. What has caused the U.S. great concern is the fact that the Iranian young [generation] attained this technology by themselves.
General Shabani stressed the need to always be prepared for the enemys moves, and said: Through its plans, the U.S. is trying to generate a change in the behavior of Irans high-ranking officials, and it is aware that it will not succeed [in doing so] through a military offensive. If the enemy wants to put Iran in danger, we will leave [the enemy] with no security whatsoever.
Iran's Rafsanjani to stand in elections
Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Jan 19 (IranMania) The Head of Irans State Expediency Council, and former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafasanjani, officially expressed readiness to stand in the upcoming presidential elections saying: whenever necessary, I will volunteer for serving this nation with great honor.
According to Irans Fars News Agency, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressing political and press circles in Kermanshah, western Iran noted:
Due to my belief in certain holy ideals I seek an opportunity to give the elite of the countrys management cream a chance to bloom their talents, capable men and women alike.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became president in August of 1989 and again in 1993 to the same post.
A prominent reformist lawyer, Mohsen Rahami said on Saturday, Jan 16, rumours that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will run in the election, is one reason behind the lack of consensus within the rightist and leftist factions, given the fact that his revolutionary and management background make him the best choice.
"Most parties such as the Islamic Coalition Party, the Association of Combatant Clergy, the Islamic Labor Party, the Executive of Construction Party, etc, would not hesitate to support Rafsanjani as soon as the veteran politician officially announces his candidacy officially," Rahami, also secretary of the Islamic Association of University Lecturers, added. Until that happens, the lawyer said, the struggle to agree on a candidate will continue for some time.
A key member of Executives of Construction Party (ECP) Hossein Marashi announced Thursday, Jan 13, veteran politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has finally made a decision and will run in the ninth presidential elections, ending months of speculations and uncertainties surrounding his candidacy.
Ayatollah revives the death fatwa on Salman Rushdie
A FATWA against the author Salman Rushdie was reaffirmed by Irans spiritual leader last night in a message to Muslim pilgrims.
British officials anxiously played down comments after Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Muslims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam, according to the Iranian media.
His words came during a lengthy tirade against Western and Zionist capitalists and the US-led War on Terror.
However, senior British officials swiftly made plain last night that the Iranian Government, which had disassociated itself from the fatwa in 1998, had not changed its position.They pointed out that because the fatwa was issued in February 1989 by Irans revolutionary founder and Khameneis predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, who had since died, it would always remain in existence.
They insisted that the move did not presage a further deterioration in the already tense relations with Iran over its nuclear programme. This should not be taken as a new development, one said.
The Foreign Office said: The key thing from our point of view is that the Iranian Government formally withdrew their support for the fatwa on Salman Rushdie in 1998 which is when Britain and Iran formally upgraded their relationship to the level of ambassador. A senior official said: The original fatwa was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini shortly before he died. It can only be rescinded by the man who issued it or a higher authority so in practice it will hold indefinitely.
Almost every time that the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, gives a sermon he mentions Salman Rushdie in these terms and denounces him as a man who has insulted the name of the Prophet and who can therefore be killed. Its just the standard rhetoric.
The crucial thing is that the fatwa is no longer endorsed by the Iranian Government because before 1998 what we had was effectively a state-sponsored death sentence.
Ayatollah Khamenei said in his message: They talk about respect towards all religions, but they support such a mahdour al-damm mortad as Salman Rushdie. In Sharia, or Islamic law, mortad is a reference to someone who has committed apostasy by leaving Islam while mahdour al-damm is a term applying to someone whose blood may be shed with impunity.
The fatwa, or religious edict, calling for Rushdies execution was issued because of alleged blasphemy and apostasy in his novel The Satanic Verses.
When speaking, as he was in this case, in his capacity as a spiritual leader rather than a leader in matters of state Ayatollah Khameneis tone tends to be rhetorical.
Analysts in Iran played down the remark, suspecting that Ayatollah Khamenei was referring to the fatwa against Rushdie in a historical context and was not calling for it to be implemented now. This isnt shocking its nothing new, one Tehran-based analyst said.
Under the reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who was elected in 1997, Irans leadership has distanced itself from the order to kill Rushdie, who was born in Bombay to a Muslim family.
In 1998 Kamal Kharazi, the Iranian Foreign Minister, promised his British counterpart, Robin Cook, that Iran would do nothing to implement the fatwa, despite a $2.8 million bounty placed on Rushdies head by a foundation in Iran.
Scotland Yards Special Branch, responsible for protecting Rushdie, was not prepared to discuss the comments but officers are certain to study the text carefully and consult experts at the Foreign Office on the seriousness of the threat.
If necessary they will alert the author and police in New York, where he now lives.
An American in ParisBy THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: January 20, 2005
Watching George Bush's second inaugural from a bistro in Paris is like watching the Red Sox win the World Series from a sports bar in New York City. Odds are that someone around you is celebrating - I mean, someone, somewhere in Europe must be happy about this - but it's not obvious.
Why are Europeans so blue over George Bush's re-election? Because Europe is the world's biggest "blue state." This whole region is a rhapsody in blue. These days, even the small group of anti-anti-Americans in the European Union is uncomfortable being associated with Mr. Bush. There are Euro-conservatives, but, aside from, maybe, the ruling party in Italy, there is nothing here that quite corresponds to the anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-tax, anti-national-health-care, anti-Kyoto, openly religious, pro-Iraq-war Bush Republican Party.
If you took all three major parties in Britain - Labor, Liberals and Conservatives - "their views on God, guns, gays, the death penalty, national health care and the environment would all fit somewhere inside the Democratic Party," said James Rubin, the Clinton State Department spokesman, who works in London. "That's why I get along with all three parties here. They're all Democrats!"
While officially every European government is welcoming the inauguration of President Bush, the prevailing mood on the continent (if I may engage in a ridiculously sweeping generalization!) still seems to be one of shock and awe that Americans actually re-elected this man.
Before Mr. Bush's re-election, the prevailing attitude in Europe was definitely: "We're not anti-American. We're anti-Bush." But now that the American people have voted to re-elect Mr. Bush, Europe has a problem maintaining this distinction. The logic of the Europeans' position is that they should now be anti-American, not just anti-Bush, but most Europeans don't seem to want to go there. They know America is more complex. So there is a vague hope in the air that when Mr. Bush visits Europe next month, he'll come bearing an olive branch that will enable both sides to at least pretend to hold this loveless marriage together for the sake of the kids.
"Europeans were convinced that Kerry had won on election night and were telling themselves that they knew all along that Americans were not all that bad - and then suddenly, as the truth emerged, there was a feeling of slow resignation: 'Oh well, we've been dreaming,' " said Dominique Moisi, one of France's top foreign policy analysts. "In fact, real America is moving away from us. We don't share the same values. ... In France it was a very emotional issue. It was as if Americans were voting for the president of France as much as for president of the United States."
That sense that America is now so powerful that it influences everyone else's politics more than their own governments - so everyone wants to vote in our elections - is something you hear more and more these days.
Elizabeth Angell, a 23-year-old American studying at Oxford, told me that a Pakistani friend at school had asked her if he could just watch her fill out her absentee ballot for the U.S. election. "He said to me, 'It's the closest thing I am going to get to voting. ... I wish I could vote in your election because your government affects my daily life more than my own.' "
The one concrete result of the U.S. election will probably be to reinforce Europe's focus on its own efforts to build a United States of Europe, and to further play down the trans-Atlantic alliance. "When it comes to emotions, the re-election of Bush has reinforced the feeling of alienation between Europe and the U.S.," Mr. Moisi said. "It is not that we are so much against America, it is that we cannot understand the evolution of that country. ... This election has weakened the concept of 'the West.' "
Funnily enough, the one country on this side of the ocean that would have elected Mr. Bush is not in Europe, but the Middle East: it's Iran, where many young people apparently hunger for Mr. Bush to remove their despotic leaders, the way he did in Iraq.
An Oxford student who had just returned from research in Iran told me that young Iranians were "loving anything their government hates," such as Mr. Bush, "and hating anything their government loves." Tehran is festooned in "Down With America" graffiti, the student said, but when he tried to take pictures of it, the Iranian students he was with urged him not to. They said it was just put there by their government and was not how most Iranians felt.
Iran, he said, is the ultimate "red state." Go figure.
Iranian author faces death when deported from Australia
SYDNEYAFP- An Iranian artist and democracy campaigner facing deportation from Australia as an illegal immigrant is likely to be killed if he is returned to his native country, a refugee advocacy group claimed on Wednesday.
The group, Project SafeCom, said Ardeshir Gholipour, who has been in Australian detention centres for almost five years, attempted suicide after learning his bid for a humanitarian visa had been refused by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.
SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit said Gholipour was taken to hospital last Friday after overdosing on sleeping tablets at the Baxter detention centre in South Australia, but had since been returned to Baxter.
Gholipour, an author for democracy movements in Iran, arrived in Australia in March 2000 and was initially held at the Port Hedland detention centre in Western Australia.
Smit said Gholipour had been imprisoned for 21 months from 1987 at the notorious Evin Prison in northern Teheran for distributing pamphlets on behalf of the Iran Freedom Movement, and also wrote articles for the Left Union for Democracy in Iran.
He had participated in student demonstrations in Iran in July 1999 and subsequently fled the country in fear of his life.
Mr Gholipour should have immediately gained asylum and protection when he arrived in Australia five years ago, Smit said.
Instead, and solely because he had the audacity to arrive on Australian shores unannounced and uninvited, Australia detained him.
Now, through departmental blindness and stupidity, Amanda Vanstone has announced and informed him that he is to start packing his bags because she intends to deport him -- either willingly or forcibly.
Mr Gholipour, if deported, certainly awaits reprisals, if not immediate killing, by the Mullahs for his eloquent work as a writer for the democracy movement in Iran.
A spokesman for Vanstone declined to comment about Gholipour saying: We dont comment on individual cases.
2005 Thursday 20 January
Espionage by any other name
By Tony Blankley
This week in the New Yorker magazine Seymour Hersh wrote the following words: "The administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran ... Much of the focus is on accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical and missile sites ... [The] American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts ... The American task force ... has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations ... The task force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices."
18 United States Code section 794, subsection (b) prohibits anyone "in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy [from publishing] any information with respect to the movement, numbers, or disposition of any of the Armed Forces ... of the United States... or supposed plans or conduct of any ... military operations ... or any other information relating to the public defense, which might be useful to the enemy ... [this crime is punishable] by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life."
Subsection (a) of that statute prohibits anyone "with ... reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates ... to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly, any information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life."
I am not an expert on these federal code sections, but a common-sense reading of their language would suggest, at the least, that federal prosecutors should review the information disclosed by Mr. Hersh to determine whether or not his conduct falls within the proscribed conduct of the statute.
In the fairly recent past, at least one journalist writing for Jane's Publications has been successfully prosecuted under the statute, freedom of speech and the press not being a defense to espionage. Remember, in the famous Pentagon Papers case, the issue was prior restraint. Could the government stop a newspaper from publishing government secrets relating not to current operations, but to prior planning? The answer then was no. But in the current matter of Mr. Hersh and the New Yorker, they have been free to publish the article. The question is whether or not any legal consequences attach to that decision.
I was shocked when I read Mr. Hersh's article. Note the tenses he uses to describe American military action: "The American commando task force ... is now working," "has been conducting secret reconnaissance." In other words, Mr. Hersh is revealing to all the world, including the Iranian government, that our commandos are currently behind enemy lines in Iran on a dangerous and vital military assignment.
Moreover, he helps the enemy by writing that our commandos have been "penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan." That considerably reduces the areas the Iranian military and counterintelligence forces have to search and monitor to try to catch our brave commandos.
Furthermore, Mr. Hersh informs the world that our commandos are working with certain Pakistani scientists who had previously worked with Iranian scientists. Such information might further assist the Iranian security forces in their investigations. After all, there can't be that many Iranian nuclear scientists who worked with the few Pakistani nuclear scientists in the past. Mr. Hersh has virtually given Iranian intelligence the names (if not the addresses) of the Pakistani scientists who are working with our forces from their jumping-off places in Pakistan.
Finally Mr. Hersh helpfully writes that our commandos have been working with local Iranian agents to plant detection devices around known or suspected nuclear plants. This gives the enemy insights into our commandos' specific method of operation and alerts Iranian intelligence to be looking for local Iranians as well as Americans.
Not a bad day's work for yet another patriotic American journalist.
Almost as appalling as the potentially lethal effect (if not, necessarily, the intent) of the Hersh article, is the quietude that greeted the damaging implications of the article's publication.
Whether or not the article meets the technical legal requirements for violation of the Espionage Act, I have seen no articles or public comments expressing concern at the revelation of such vital military secrets of an ongoing secret military operation. Keep in mind, the Pentagon has not denied the story; it has merely said that some of the facts are inaccurate.
That is a classic Washington non-denial denial.
And this is not just any military operation. The purpose of this operation is to protect the world from a possible nuclear attack once the fanatical Iranian Islamist regime gets its hands on a nuclear bomb. They already have missiles capable of reaching London, Paris, Berlin and Tel Aviv. They are already the world's leading terrorist-supporting state. And our military's effort to prepare to deal with this extraordinary danger is exposed to the world while the operation is ongoing.
But not a peep of concern can be heard. Apparently this is considered just journalistic business as usual. The Washington political class is suffering from a bad case of creeping normalcy. We are getting ever more used to ever more egregious government leaks of military secrets. What's the big deal? Maybe I am an alarmist. Or maybe we are sleepwalking toward the abyss.
2005 Thursday 20 January
HAS IRAN DECIDED TO MANUFACTURE ATOMIC WARHEADS
by Amir Taheri
In 20 years the world will be divided into two types of nations: A few would be regarded as first class. The majority will be second class. The key condition for a first class nation is to master the awesome force of nuclear power. We are determined to be among the first class nations."
This was the heart of a speech made by the late Shah of Iran in June 1956 as he inaugurated Iran's first nuclear reactor at Amir-Abad, west of Tehran. Donated by the United States, the small reactor made Iran the first country in the Middle East to enter the era of nuclear sciences.
The Shah's complicated strategy put the emphasis on the peaceful uses of nuclear power while leaving the door open for developing nuclear weapons. The Shah did not realise his dream of making Iran a nuclear power in 20 years' time. And by 1979 he was dying in exile.
Nevertheless, by the time Iran experienced the Khomeinist revolution, it already had a substantial nuclear infrastructure.
The last annual conference of Iranian nuclear scientists and technologists, held in Tehran in 1977, attracted almost 3,000 people who, over a five-day period, were presented with over 100 high quality papers.
At that time the general belief was that Iran had the scientific and industrial base needed to develop atomic bombs.
The Shah wanted Iran to be in a position to manufacture atomic bombs in a short period. At the same time he was determined that Iran should not actually do so until and unless an emergency dictated it."
In 1973 Iran approved a 10-year programme under which 20 nuclear power stations were to be built to provide almost half of the electricity it needed. Work on the first nuclear station, located in the Bushehr Peninsula on the Arabian Gulf, started two years later.
And in 1978 preliminary work on a second nuclear power station at Dar-Khuwayyen, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, got under way. German, French and Canadian companies were involved in the two projects.
At the same time Iran had created the Eurodif Company, with France, Spain and Gabon, for the purpose of mining uranium in Gabon and preparing it for use in nuclear power stations.
The Shah's policy was reflected in the campaign that Iran launched in favour of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) which was signed by 11 countries, including Iran, in 1970.
Almost at the same time Iran proposed the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea basin, but found little support.
In 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini, who had seized power in Tehran, cancelled the nuclear programme after describing it as "a satanic plot against Islam". When Khomeini died in 1989, Tehran's new "strongman", Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, instantly revived the nuclear programme.
Iranian scientists who had been imprisoned were released and set to work. Some of those who had fled to exile were tempted back with promises of new challenges.
Back on rails
By 1992 Iran's nuclear programme was back on rails. But this time its priority was military. The task of completing the Bushehr station, which had been partly damaged in Iraqi air raids during the war, was given to a Russian consortium but plans for Dar Khuwayyen were shelved.
It looked as if the Islamic Republic did not want nuclear energy; it wanted nuclear weapons.
The Israeli raid on Iraq's Osirak reactor and the Iraqi raid on Bushehr had taught the mullahs a lesson. Iran's nuclear programme would not be concentrated in one place and thus vulnerable to air attacks.
Over the past decade the Iranian nuclear puzzle has emerged as 22 pieces representing localities spread over six provinces. These include facilities at Kelardasht, close to the Caspian Sea, Tehran, Arak, Natanz, Isfahan, Yazd, and Kerman.
As a signatory of the NPT Iran is not allowed to develop weapons' grade enriched uranium. But inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that supervises compliance with the NPT have already found traces of such uranium in some instruments found in Iranian laboratories.
Iran's explanation is that the instruments were bought second hand from Kazakhstan and Pakistan and may well have been contaminated in those countries.
The IAEA, however, is puzzled over Iran's decision to build a heavy water plant in Arak to produce plutonium. Since Iran has no nuclear power station that uses plutonium, the suspicion is that it is producing the material for military use.
Last year the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany led a joint mission to Tehran and signed an agreement under which Iran agreed not to enrich weapons grade uranium. In August, however, Iran announced that it had resumed its enrichment programme.
In September the IAEA gave Iran until November 27 to "come clean", which means stop all military aspects of its nuclear programme or face sanctions through the United Nations.
"One thing is certain," says Akbar Etemad, the man who headed the Iranian nuclear programme for 10 years, "Iran has the scientific capability to make nuclear weapons".
The question, therefore, is not whether Iran can, but whether Iran has decided to, manufacture atomic warheads. There is mounting evidence that the decision has been taken.
What is labelled "The National Islamic Defence Doctrine" clearly states that Iran must be in a position to make use of "all types of weaponry".
Approved in 1996 the "doctrine" is based on two imperatives: the use of Iran's demographic advantage in long wars that might claim high casualties, and the deployment of medium and long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear, chemical and biological warheads.
Iran, of course, has the option of withdrawing from the NPT, and acquire as many nuclear weapons as it wants. But withdrawing from the NPT would deprive Iran of access to large segments of nuclear technology as well as the equipment and materiel needed.
"The Iranians cannot have it both ways," says IAEA director Mohammad El Baradei. "They cannot benefit from the advantages of the IAEA without abiding by its rule."
The European initiative, however, is designed to avoid that issue. This is why, regardless of what new form of diplomatic fudge the Europeans will come up with, their attempt at stopping the mullahs from going nuclear has already failed.
What is surprising in all this is the almost stoic attitude of the Bush administration on what is likely to be the biggest threat to Middle East stability in the decade to come.
Bush is in sync with his people and the neo-cons
By Amir Taheri, Special to Gulf News With inaugural festivities marking the start of his second term over, US President George W. Bush would have to shift into working gear amid conflicting expectations. For the past few weeks Washington, in its eldritch post-election mood, has been buzzing with speculation about what Bush might do in his second term.
Some say he will tone down his radicalism and try to govern from the centre. Their argument is that Bush would be thinking about his place in history which, in the case of American presidents, could mean doing nothing to ruffle any feathers. To back that argument they point to the composition of Bush's new Cabinet, especially his foreign policy and national security teams, which appear designed to offer a softened image.
The new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was never regarded as a neo-con, and the new National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley has always been seen as a cautious operator. Robert Zoellick, the man chosen as Rice's deputy, has won plaudits from the Europeans as a moderate while Nicholas Burns, who will be Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, is identified as a multilateralist.
The State Department's most senior neo-con, John Bolton, has been shown the door and replaced by Robert Joseph, a cautious operator. More importantly, Bush did not promote Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the best strategic brain of the neo-conservatives. Many in Washington believe that Wolfowitz and his boss Donald Rumsfeld will be out soon after the creation of an elected government in Baghdad.
All this, however, rests on the assumption that Bush is a closet centrist who was "manipulated" by the neo-conservatives whom he needed to get elected and then to govern during his troubled first term. There is little evidence to support that assumption.
My reading is that Bush is a dynamic political leader both by temperament and conviction, and that he was the key inspiration for the so-called neo-conservative agenda rather than its unwitting salesman. I cannot imagine George W. spending the next four years sucking his thumbs in the White House in the hope of winning brownies from his enemies. A do-nothing W is, of course, the best hope that the Democrats have for a return to power in 2008. The question, therefore, is not whether Bush will play the wallflower in the next four years but whether or not he will be able to mobilise enough political support to introduce and implement a new radical agenda.
Bush secured his second term with the largest number of votes any US president has ever won. But the 60 million votes that he received do not appear to have been translated into an active support base.
This has created a situation that can only be described as paradoxical. A majority of Americans seem to like and admire Bush but are not prepared to endorse his policies. A poll conducted on the eve of the inauguration showed that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that Bush is "strong, intelligent and likeable". But a majority also oppose every one of his policies, ranging from Iraq to the economy and pensions reform. In other words they gave him their votes but are not prepared to give him their support.
In recent visits to Washington and New York I was surprised at the number of people who insisted that Bush was the right choice for America in 2004 but who then proceeded to describe his policies as either wrong or dangerous.
Those who believe that Bush was somehow manipulated by the neo-cons forget one fact: in the past decade or so the United States as a whole has shifted to the right. Although Bill Clinton held the presidency for eight years, at no point did he represent the real mood of the Americans. Clinton won his first term with 43 per cent of the votes and his second with just 49 per cent.
On the eve of the inauguration, Bush has received an avalanche of advice, mostly from his opponents. Some suggest that he recast himself as John Kerry, the defeated Democrat nominee in last November's election. One idea is that, once there is a new elected government in Baghdad, Bush should declare victory and withdraw from Iraq. Another suggestion is that he should abandon his plans to reform pensions and welfare systems, leaving his successors to defuse that ticking bomb.
End of the spectrum
At the other end of the spectrum, some are urging Bush to embark on adventures that cannot generate the level of public support without which no policy can succeed in a democracy.
The president should ignore such advice. Bush is the only American president in a long time, perhaps since Harry Truman, who has, by accident or design, understood the wonders that a judicious use of American power can achieve. Such use of power, however, also involves an understanding of its limits.
People often compare George W. with Reagan. But there is a big difference. Reagan was, in a sense, swimming against the tide of American opinion. He had to fight for democracy in a dozen countries from South Korea to Nicaragua through covert operations and in the teeth of opposition from the US Congress and media.
Bush has the historic advantage of being in sync with his people. He should stick to his message of freedom as the surest guarantor of America's national security. He should also communicate that message more forcefully.
Rather than trying to sit on his laurels he should come up with a new agenda of radical reforms based on a judicious use of America's powers both at home and abroad. His slogan should be: the best is yet to come.
Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of ten books on the Middle East and Islam and he is a member of Benador Associates.
2005 Thursday 20 January
Rafsanjani's captivating confessions
Iran Press News
In a recent interview with the Islamic regime's own official newspaper, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the ex-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1989-1997) and chief cleptocrat of the regime, declared that Khatami never had any intention of reforming anything from the very beginning. He added: "Look back at 7 years ago when all the declarations of Reform started; look and see what, if anything has changed."
Rafsanjani continued: "One day, Mr. Khatami and I had an audience with His Leadership (Khamenei); the subject of reforms came up. Mr. Khatami stated that he had never actually spoken of reforms per se and that in fact he did his best to impliment "The Third Strategem" which in fact was the de facto blueprint created by the command's assembly (grand Ayatollahs appointed by the supreme leader).
Rafsanjani went on to confess that there is absolutely no difference between the various factions of the regime and that it is all nothing more than rhetoric, euphemisms and knowing how to play with words! He affirmed that what the so-called Reformists have been pitching ideas that ten, fifteen years ago hardliners had already begun considering. "For example, "he said, "the people who took over the U.S. Embassy used to have very specific discussions about how they were interested in pursuing various liberal movements; at that time, those people were among Leftists. Now, those very same leftists are taking a conservative stance."
1/17/2005 Clip No. 496
"Zahra's Blue Eyes" - Episode 6: A Good Jew Helps Zahra, Before He is Murdered
The following are excerpts from episode 6 of the Iranian antisemitic series Zahra's Blue Eyes that was aired on Sahar 1 TV on January 17, 2005. The series is dubbed into Arabic:
Grandfather: Get up, my dear.
Israeli Soldier: Come on, get down.
Israeli [Daniel]: Who are you? My God, who are you? What are you doing here? You're wounded, you need help. Give me your hand, give me your hand.
Girl: There you go, Zahra.
Zahra: Thank you.
Daniel: It's almost over.
Girl: Eat the candy, Zahra.
Zahra: Thank you. I've already had a lot.
Daniel: Eat the candy, dear. You may feel at home, don't be shy.
Grandfather: I Thank you very much. You've been very good to us. We have a long way ahead of us. To be honest, I don't want to cause you any trouble.
Daniel: You are our guests. I don't think you can leave the house in your condition. Here. We don't mind if you stay here as long as you like.
Grandfather: No, no, no. Thank you. You are truly a follower of Moses. May God reward you.
John: Get up, you-- I'm talking to you! Where are you? What is this Palestinian doing here? Don't you know they are our sworn enemies?
Daniel's wife: This man is our guest. He is wounded.
John: They are definitely terrorists. You've made a terrible mistake.
Daniel's wife: No, it's not like you think. Daniel!
Grandfather: Why are you behaving this way? They found us by chance. I swear to God they are innocent. I will leave now.
John: Shut up!
Daniel's wife: Daniel, Daniel! John is fighting with Abd Al-Rahman. Quick! He's in the house.
Daniel: He was discovered? How? OK.
Daniel's wife: Nothing has happened. Nothing. Come, don't be afraid.
Daniel: What's all this commotion? What's going on here? Don't you know our guest is in bad condition?
John: Don't you know that harboring an enemy is a crime?
Daniel: An enemy? By what logic is helping a bleeding old man considered a crime? Is who is not a Jew our enemy?
John: You Ethiopian Jews are not pure Jews! A pure Jew only helps Jews.
Daniel: A pure Jew... A pure Jew. With these promises and slogans they brought us here from our homeland. And here, every day we hear only promises, and slogans and lies. You are treating us like slaves.
John: May God curse the Ethiopian Jews.
Daniel: May God curse, you oppressors, who treat people like slaves.
John: I'll show you!
Grandfather: I swear to God I didn't mean to cause you any trouble. As God is my witness. This place is no longer safe for you. I want to help you.
John: Where is your commander? I've found an old Palestinian and a girl around here.
Israeli Soldier: Tell the commander immediately that the old man and his granddaughter are hiding with one of the Ethiopian Jews. Quickly! Faster!
John: Tell me, where have you hidden him?
Daniel's wife: Daniel!
Grandfather: No, don't be afraid. My granddaughter and I need you help. Help us. The soldiers...The soldiers are chasing us. I want to get away from here. I will give you as much money as you want. Anything you want, I will give you. Here. here. This is for you.
Zahra: What's wrong, Grandpa?
Grandfather: Nothing, my dear. Don't be afraid, don't be afraid.
Israeli soldier: Move.
Zahra: Grandpa! Grandpa!
Grandfather: What do you want from me? Let me go. Let go of me, you oppressor! You have no conscience! At least let me say goodbye to her.
Yizhak Cohen: Let him go!
Grandfather: Let me say goodbye to her. Don't cry, my dear. You must be brave. Don't be scared, my dear.
Zahra: I don't want to leave you, Grandpa.
Grandfather: I don't want to leave you either.
Zahra: Where do they want to take you?
Grandfather: I don't know. Don't worry. We will meet again, my dear.
Grandfather: In heaven. There they can't keep me away from you.
Zahra: Do you promise?
Grandfather: I promise, my dear. Don't cry, my dear.
Israeli soldier: Get up! Get up, come on.
Israeli soldier: Go to hell. Come, you! Come. Sit here.
Grandfather: What are you waiting for? They have obviously raised you for this kind of work.
Colonel: We have plenty of time. Don't think you will get away from me easily. I have a lot of work to do with you.
Zahra: I want my grandpa. If you don't bring him to me now, I will never sleep.
I want my grandpa. You hurt my grandpa. I want my grandpa. You hit him and I hate you. You lied to me.
Yizhak Cohen: Calm down.
Zahra: I want my grandpa.
Yizhak Cohen: Calm down, my dear. Calm down.
Yizhak Cohen: Calm down. Shut up, shut up. Shut up or I'll finish you off. Calm down. Calm down.
Colonel: Why did you escape?
Grandfather: Why shouldn't I escape?
Colonel: True. You were going to spread a contagious disease among the poor people, among our people.
Colonel: The contagious disease has already spread. You are an incurable plague throughout this land.
I won't allow you to touch her. You are killers! You are savages! I ask you, for God's sake, to let the girl go. Take your hands off her!
Yizhak Cohen: For me, finishing you off is a simple thing. Don't push your luck with me.
Grandfather: Curses on you, you bastards, you lowlifes!
Yizhak Cohen: You stupid, silly old man. All of you, without exception, should be annihilated. You are primitive people who cannot be reformed.