See this page for links to articles on OpEdNEws that articulate both sides on the issues in the middle east. It is the goal of OpEdNews to air opinions from both sides to stretch the envelope of discussion and communication. Hate statements are not accepted. Discussions of issues and new ideas for solutions are encouraged. .The Crime of Lebanon and Palestine - Are Iran and Syria Next?: Part II - by Stephen Lendman
On July 26, Aljazeerah reported a story headlined - "Israeli invasion of Lebanon planned by neocons in June (2006)." It was done at a June 17 and 18 meeting at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado at which former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud Knesset member Natan Sharansky met with US Vice President Dick Cheney. The purpose was to discuss the planned and impending Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invasions of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Cheney was thoroughly briefed and approved the coming assaults - before Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier on June 25 or Hezbollah's capturing of two others in an exchange first reported as occurring in Israel and now believed to have happened inside Lebanon after IDF forces illegally entered the country.
Aljazeerah also reported that after the Colorado AEI conference Natan Sharansky met with the right wing Heritage Foundation in Washington and then attended a June 29 seminar at Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia sponsored by the Middle East Forum led by US Israeli hawk Daniel Pipes. Sharansky appeared there with Republican Senator Rick Santorum who on July 20 was hawkishly advocating war against Syria, Iran, and "Islamo-fascism" in an inflamatory speech at the National Press Club attended by a cheering section of supporters composed of members of the neocon Israel Project, on whose Board Santorum serves along with Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss and Virginia Republican Representative Tom Davis.
Aljazeerah reported further that in a published interview in the Spanish newspaper ABC on July 23, Syrian Information Minister Moshen Bilal warned Israel that his country would enter the Lebanon conflict if Israel launched a major incursion into the country. He said: "If Israel makes a land entry into Lebanon, they can get to within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of Damascus. What will we do? Stand by with our arms folded? Absolutely not. Without any doubt Syria will intervene in the conflict." Bilal said his country wanted above all a ceasefire "as soon as possible" combined with a prisoner exchange and explained he was working with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos with whom he had met in Madrid. Bilal also criticized the US saying it was "unjustifiable (that) the superpower is not working for a rapid ceasefire." He rejected claims by Washington that
Syria had armed Hezbollah (which contradicted an earlier admission by the Syrian defense minister that his country did supply some arms to Hezbollah), saying it offered "moral support" but not financing for "any resistance."
The Aljazeerah report also cited the work of former intelligence officer and now author/writer James Bamford who wrote about "going after Syria (and then Iran) in accordance with the 'A Clean Break' war for Israel agenda" in his book A Pretext for War published in 2004 which concentrated on the abuse of the US's intelligence agencies to invent reasons to attack Iraq. If Bamford is right, Syria may soon be drawn into this conflict, and if so, will Iran be next?
Iran may indeed be next (and Syria too) according to UK political scientist, human rights activist and writer Nafeez Ahmed in an article published in OpEd News on July 23 titled: "UK Govt Sources Confirm War With Iran Is On." In it, Ahmed writes: "In the last few days, I learned from a credible and informed source that a former senior Labour government Minister, who continues to be well-connected to British military and security officials, confirms that Britain and the United States 'will go to war with Iran before the end of the year.' "
Ahmed goes on to say that in similar fashion to the lead-up to the March, 2003 Iraq invasion, current war plans may change and the scheduled time for it be begin may be postponed. But he quoted Vice President Dick Cheney in an MSNBC interview over a year ago saying Iran is "right at the top of the list (of) rogue states (and) Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel (so) Israel might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards." What the Vice President claimed the Iranians said was false (the Iranian president was deliberately misquoted), and he neglected to mention the immediate mass death and destruction that would result from this "act," and the resulting calamity from destroying commercial nuclear reactor and facilities sites that would spread devastating irremediable toxic radiation over a vast area making those territories uninhabitable forever and eventually killing an unknown number of people living there from the cancers and other diseases they will eventually contract from the deadly contamination.
Ahmed goes on to discount the possibility of Israel taking the lead in an assault against Iran saying it prefers to be a "regional proxy force in a US-led campaign." And he reports that writer Seymour Hersh quotes a former high-level US intelligence official saying that despite the increasing disaster in Iraq, overall "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah-we've got four years, and we want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism." Hersh has been on and off in what his sources are telling him about the likelihood of war with Iran so it may be uncertain what conclusion he now has as of this article's publication. But whatever it is, it's clear it can change in an instant as things in the Middle East are so fluid.
Nafeez's article also reported an analysis of the Monterey Institute for International Studies on the likely consequences of a war against Iran in which, if it happens, the US said it would use "bunker-buster mini-nukes." The language is deceptive as these are powerful nuclear bombs. The Institute painted the dire possibility that an extended conflict with Iran could catastrophically spin out of control with irreversible consequences for the global political economy. It would affect energy security, relations with other nations like China and Russia concerned about their own access to energy supplies in the region, and the US "dollar-economy" that would be under pressure, greatly harmed and even potentially threatened with collapse.
If this scenario is possible, why then would US, UK, Israeli, and other Western leaders who see what's going on, be willing to take the risk? Ahmed states what a growing number of knowledgeable observers now believe - that the Western, mainly US, so-called neoliberal imperial freewheeling "free-market" model is failing and may collapse short of a desperate "Hail Mary" military solution to try to save it even though the chance for success at best would be uncertain and in some views unlikely. And if it fails, the result may be an unimaginable social, political and economic calamity.
The fate of the corrupted neoliberal model may be what's now at stake. That model is already unraveling in Latin America where Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is proving his alternate Bolivarian participatory democracy is overwhelmingly popular and working. It's based on a government serving the people by providing essential social services, especially to the poor and desperate ones most in need of it. Chavez's success has made him a symbol of hope and a hero in the region and beyond, it's allowed his form of governance to spread to Bolivia, and there's every reason to imagine and hope it will continue spreading unstoppably because people in other Latin countries are beginning to fight for it. It's all greatly alarmed the ruling authority in Washington that views Chavez as the threat it most fears, even above Iran - a powerful good example that will spread unless the US acts forcibly to stop it, which clearly is its plan.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.