Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blog cruising for war news

Bob Dreyfuss maintains a blog that he sometimes updates regularly (like the last week or so) and sometimes doesn't use for a while.

When he does use it, he comes up with interesting - and sometimes disturbing - stuff. This one qualifies on both accounts:
Musharraf next "regime change" target? 03/26/07. If the US really is looking to promote a coup in Pakistan to replaces its current leader, we should all remember this is a risky operation. And that the US record on covert operations to replace regimes deemed unfriendly is not an impressive one, especially when we look at long-term results, as John Prados documents extensively in Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (2006).

Khalilzad's bogus talks with Iraq's resistance 03/26/07, Dreyfuss talks about the lack of seriousness on the part of the Cheney-Bush administration about a negotiated solution in Iraq.

Juan Cole in a
blog entry for 03/27/07, links to the blog of Craig Murray, a former British diplomat, who has become a public critic of Western policies in central Asia.

Murray calls for Iran to release the captured British soldiers. But he also questions the Blair government's claims about the incident. At present (
03/27/07), he writes, "both the British and Iranian governments are now acting like idiots".

He adds a very important observation: "The boundary between Iran and Iraq in the northern Persian Gulf has never been fixed." And he writes:

Until a boundary is agreed, you could only be certain that the personnel were in Iraqi territorial waters if they were within twelve miles of the coast and, at the same time, more than twelve miles from any island, spit, bar or sandbank claimed by Iran (or Kuwait).

That is very hard to judge as the British government refuse to give out the coordinates where the men were captured. If they really are utterly certain, I find that incomprehensible. Everyone knows the Gulf is teeming with British vessels and personnel, so the position of units a few days ago can hardly be valuable intelligence.

... The Iranians had a right to detain the men if they were in seas legitimately claimed as territorial by Iran. Indeed, it is arguable that if a government makes a claim of sovereignty it rather has to enforce it, possession being nine parts of international law. But now the Iranian government is being very foolish, and itself acting illegally, by not releasing the men having made its point. (my emphasis)
Cole also calls attention to this post of Murray's in which he discusses a BBC report on a study done by British government scientists at the request of the Prime Minister's office on the Lancet report that estimated Iraq deaths due to the war (wars) there as numbering 600,000 or more. The government scientists found that the methodology on the Lancet study was sound, and if anything leaned to the conservative side in its estimates.

And in
this post of 03/26/07, Murray asks a relevant question. The official story was that the captured British marines were inspecting the ships to detect attempted evasion of taxes on cars. He writes:

For the Royal Navy to be interdicting shipping within the twelve mile limit of territorial seas in a region they know full well is subject to maritime boundary dispute, is unneccessarily provocative. This is especially true as apparently they were not looking for weapons but for smuggled vehicles attempting to evade car duty. What has the evasion of Iranian or Iraqi taxes go to do with the Royal Navy? The ridiculous illogic of the Blair mess gets us further into trouble. (my emphasis)
As a publication of the Truman National Security Project put it earlier this month (Congress to White House: Don’t Attack Iran 03/09/07):

There are two possible scenarios for a military confrontation [between the United States and Iran]. The first would be a calculated strike on Iran's nuclear program by the United States, a possibility that has seemed more real since President Bush ordered an additional carrier strike group to the region. The second is an escalation from the status quo. Since the U.S. is now actively targeting Iranians within Iraq, and since we have limited diplomatic channels to Iran, an incident within Iraq could rapidly escalate into a broader military confrontation, or serve as a Gulf of Tonkin type pretext for war.
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