WORLD WAR III
The War in Georgia was designed to escalate tensions between NATO and Russia, using the region as a means to create a wider conflict. However, Russia’s decision to end the combat operations quickly worked to its benefit and had the effect of diminishing the international tensions. The issue of NATO membership for Georgia is very important, because had it been a NATO member, the Russian attack on Georgia would have been viewed as an attack on all NATO members. The war in Afghanistan was launched by NATO on the premises of ‘an attack against one is an attack against all.’
It also was significant that there was a large pipeline deal in the works, with Georgia sitting in a key strategic position. Georgia lies between Russia and Turkey, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and above Iran and Iraq. The significance of Georgia as a strategic outpost cannot be underestimated. This is true, particularly when it comes to pipelines.
The Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline, the second largest pipeline in the world, travels from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to Ceyhan, a Mediterranean port city in Turkey. This pipeline creates a route that bypasses both Iran and Russia, to bring Caspian Basin oil resources “to the United States, Israel and Western European markets.” The US company Bechtel, was the main contractor for construction, procurement and engineering, while British Petroleum (BP), is the leading shareholder in the project. Israel gets much of its oil via Turkey through the BTC pipeline route, which likely played a large part in Israel’s support for Georgia in the conflict, as a continual standoff between the West and the East (Russia/China) takes place for control of the world’s resources.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder, with David Rockefeller, of the Trilateral Commission, and Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser who played a key role in the creation of the Afghan Mujahideen, which became known as Al-Qaeda, wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine at the outbreak of the Russia-Georgia conflict. Brzezinski, being a Cold War kingpin of geopolitical strategy, naturally blamed Russia for the conflict. However, he also revealed the true nature of the conflict.
He started by blaming Russia’s “invasion of Georgia” on its “imperial aims.” Brzezinski blamed much of this on the “intense nationalistic mood that now permeates Russia’s political elite.” Brzezinski went on to explain Georgia’s strategic significance; stating that, “an independent Georgia is critical to the international flow of oil,” since the BTC pipeline “provides the West access to the energy resources of central Asia.” Brzezinski warned Russia of being “ostracized internationally,” in particular its business elite, calling them “vulnerable” because “Russia’s powerful oligarchs have hundreds of billions of dollars in Western bank accounts,” which would be subject to a possible “freezing” by the West in the event of a “Cold War-style standoff.” Brzezinski’s op-ed essentially amounted to geopolitical extortion.
Regime Change in Iran
There was, for many years, a split in the administration of George W. Bush in regards to US policy towards Iran. On the one hand, there was the hardliner neoconservative element, led by Dick Cheney, with Rumsfeld in the Pentagon; who were long pushing for a military confrontation with Iran. On the other hand, there was Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, who was pushing for a more diplomatic, or “soft” approach to Iran.
In February of 2006, Condoleezza Rice introduced a new Iran strategy to the Senate, “emphasizing the tools of so-called soft diplomacy. She called for ramping up funding to assist pro-democracy groups, public diplomacy initiatives, and cultural and education fellowships, in addition to expanding U.S.-funded radio, television, and Internet and satellite-based broadcasting, which are increasingly popular among younger Iranians.” She added that, “we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their country.” There were three main facets to the program: “Expanding independent radio and television”; “Funding pro-democracy groups,” which “would lift bans on U.S. financing of Iran-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, human rights groups, and opposition candidates”; and “Boosting cultural and education fellowships and exchanges,” which “would help pay Iranian students and scholars to enroll in U.S. universities.”
This marked a significant change in U.S. foreign policy with Iran, which would have the effect of making Iran’s domestic situation “more intense,” or as one expert put it, “this is the thing that can undo this regime.” Another expert stated that if the strategy failed, “we will have wasted the money, but worse than that, helped discredit legitimate opposition groups as traitors who receive money from the enemy to undermine Iran ‘s national interest.”
In March of 2006, the Iraq Study Group was assembled as a group of high level diplomats and strategic elites to reexamine US policy toward Iraq, and more broadly, to Iran as well. It proposed a softer stance towards Iran, and one of its members, Robert Gates, former CIA director, left the Group in November of 2006 to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Cheney had fought to keep his ally in the Pentagon, but had failed in not only that, but also in preventing Robert Gates from being his replacement.
In February of 2006, the Guardian reported that the Bush administration received “a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government,” and quoted Secretary Rice as saying, “we will work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy in their country.” The “US is to increase funds to Iranian non-governmental bodies that promote democracy, human rights and trade unionism,” which started in 2005 for the first time since 1980, and that, “the US would seek to help build new dissident networks.”
In April of 2006, the Financial Times reported that, “The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran,” as “Democracy promotion is a rubric to get the Europeans behind a more robust policy without calling it regime change.” Christian Science Monitor reported that the goal of the strategy was “regime change from within,” in the form of “a pro-democracy revolution.”
In July of 2007, it was reported that the White House had “shifted back in favour of military action,” at the insistence of Cheney. Josh Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, said in May of 2007, that US strategy consisted of three options: the first was economic sanctions, the second was regime change, and the third was military action. Bolton elaborated that, “we’ve got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like, because that’s the circumstance most likely for an Iranian government to decide that it’s safer not to pursue nuclear weapons than to continue to do so. And if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force.” Ultimately, the aim would be “to foment a popular revolution.”
In September of 2007, it was reported that the Bush administration was pushing the US on the warpath with Iran, as “Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran.” It was even reported that Secretary Rice was “prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.” It was reported that Rice and Cheney were working together to present a more unified front, finding a middle ground between Rice’s soft diplomacy, and Cheney’s preference to use “bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons” against Iran.
That same year, in 2007, the United States launched covert operations against Iran. ABC broke the story, reporting that, “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government.” The President signed an order “that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.” The approval of these covert operations marked a temporary move away from pursuing overt military action.
As the Telegraph reported in May of 2007, “Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” As part of the plan, “the CIA [has] the right to collect intelligence on home soil, an area that is usually the preserve of the FBI, from the many Iranian exiles and emigrés within the US,” as “Iranians in America have links with their families at home, and they are a good two-way source of information.” Further, “The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.”
“Soft” power became the favoured policy for promoting regime change in Iran. David Denehy, a senior adviser to the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was “charged with overseeing the distribution of millions of dollars to advance the cause of a more democratic Iran.” He was responsible for disbursing the $75 million that Ms. Rice asked the Senate for in February of 2006. The appropriations included “$36.1 million into existing television and radio programs beaming into Iran,” and “$10 million would pay for public diplomacy and exchange programs, including helping Iranians who hope to study in America,” and “$20 million would support the efforts of civil-society groups — media, legal and human rights nongovernmental organizations — both outside and inside Iran.” The administration was requesting an additional $75 million for 2008.
In 2008, award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker that in late 2007, Congress approved “a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources.” While the Cheney hard-liners in the Bush administration were long pushing for a direct military confrontation with Iran, the military had to be reigned in from being controlled by the neo-conservatives. Robert Gates, a former CIA director, had replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, and while still saber rattling Iran, had to take a more strategic position, as many military leaders in the Pentagon felt “that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue.”
The covert operations that were approved ran at a cost of approximately $400 million dollars, and “are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.” The operations were to be expanded under both the CIA and JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command). The focus was “on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” of which a major facet was “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Hersh elaborated:
Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?” One possible consequence of these operations would be a violent Iranian crackdown on one of the dissident groups, which could give the Bush Administration a reason to intervene.
Included in the strategy was to use ethnic tensions to undermine the government; however, this strategy is flawed. Unlike Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iraq, Iran is a much older country, “like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” This turned out to be an important point in regards to the elections in the summer of 2009.
Hiroshima atomic bombing survivors receive emergency treatment by military medics, on August 6, 1945. (AP Photo) #
A badly burned nuclear bomb victim lies in quarantine on the island of Ninoshima in Hiroshima, Japan, 9,000 meters from the hypocenter on August 7, 1945, one day after the bombing by the United States. (AP Photo/The Association of the Photographers of the Atomic Bomb Destruction of Hiroshima, Yotsugi Kawahara) #
A Japanese soldier walks through a completely leveled area of Hiroshima in September of 1945. (NARA) #
"Fat Man" was dropped from the B-29 bomber Bockscar, detonating at 11:02 AM, at an altitude of about 1,650 feet (500 m) above Nagasaki. An estimated 39,000 people were killed outright by the bombing a further 25,000 were injured. (USAF) #
This picture made shortly after the August 9, 1945 atomic bombing, shows workers carrying away debris in a devastated area of Nagasaki, Japan. This picture obtained by the U.S. Army from files of Domei, the official Japanese news agency, was the first ground view of the nuclear destruction in Nagasaki. (AP Photo) #
The only recognizable structure remaining is a ruined Roman Catholic Cathedral in background on a destroyed hill, in Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. (NARA) #
Dr. Nagai, medical instructor and x-ray specialist at Nagasaki Hospital, a victim of atomic radiation caused by the nuclear bombing. A few days after this photo was made, Dr. Nagai passed away. (USAF) #
People walk through the charred ruins of Nagasaki, shortly after an atomic bomb destroyed much of the city. The explosion generated heat estimated at 3,900 degrees Celsius (4,200 K, 7,000 °F). (USAF)