Bipartisan Briefing Focuses
on Cheney's October Surprise
by Carl Osgood
On Oct. 11, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) left the campaign trail to return to Washington to do something which the U.S. Congress has so far refused to do, that is, conduct oversight of Vice President Dick Cheney's planned "October Surprise" attack on Iran. The five witnesses gathered by Kucinich largely agreed that Iran is not a threat, that it is the Bush Administration that is making moves towards war, and that the war danger is aggravated, not by Iran, but by the Administration's own policy. They also agreed that opening a dialogue with Iran is an absolute necessity if we want to avoid a showdown. Lyndon LaRouche, in discussions with EIR staff, noted, however, that many strategic analysts, including those opposed to the Cheney war policy, make a miscalculation when they assess the danger of a near term attack by the United States on Iran; the miscalculation is due to their failure to understand the global financial collapse, and the rapidity with which it is occurring. The oversight briefing called by Kucinich, while sparsely covered in the media, was nonetheless an essential contribution to stopping Cheney's backers in their planned attack.
Significantly, Democrat Kucinich's briefing was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.). Though unable to attend, Paul, in a statement for the oversight briefing, noted the "moral, intellectual, and practical failure" of the interventionist foreign policy of the United States, particularly with respect to Iran (see statement below). He said that the problem with interventionism is primarily one of "unintended consequences," though it is debatable whether or not those consequences are, in fact, always unintended. He concluded by quoting John Quincy Adams, who said that America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy," but is rather "the well wisher to the freedom and independence of all." If America were to behave otherwise, "she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom."
In his opening statement, Kucinich pointed out that as the ranking member on the House National Security, International Relations and Emerging Threats subcommittee, he had set up a classified briefing for members on Iran, but both the Defense Department and the State Department refused to show up. "Their refusal to be accountable is the reason we are here today," he said. The five witnesses were former U.N. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay; retired Col. Sam Gardiner (USAF); Alfred Cumming, a specialist in intelligence and national security affairs at the Congressional Research Service; Dr. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council; and Joseph Cirincione, formerly with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, now senior vice president for national security and international affairs at the Center for American Progress.
Iran Is Not an Imminent Threat
Kay began by describing what is known about the Iranian program, as he understands it. He asserted that the program is, indeed, a nuclear weapons program, as indicated by the fact that the Iranians hid the program from the International Atomic Energy Agency for many years, and that the IAEA discovered that Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan had provided essential design information for weapons to Iran in 1987 or 1988. He made clear, however, that there is a very big difference between having the intent (which the Iranians deny) and having the ability to produce nuclear weapons, which, he argued, the Iranians do not have, and won't have for at least five, and maybe ten years or more. He said that the Iranian program depends heavily on access to foreign assistance and technology, which is a "vital checkpoint" in their program, and the weapons designs they have so far been known to be supplied with, are for first generation devices which are unsuitable for the missiles in their inventory. For these and other reasons "Iran does not and will not pose a nuclear threat to the United States," Kay said.
It's the Iraq Playbook all Over Again
The panel members all noted the similarities between the current drive towards war with Iran and the buildup to the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003. Gardiner outlined what he calls "the seven truths," that is, what the Administration believes about Iran, some of which he says are true, and some are not. These "truths" are:
- Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction;
- Iran is ignoring the international community;
- Iran supports Hezbollah and terrorism;
- Iran is increasingly asserting itself in Iraq;
- The people of Iran want regime change;
- Sanctions are not going to work;
- You cannot negotiate with these people.
"Once you understand the framework within which they approach the problem," he said, "you sort of come to the notion that there aren't many options left except the military option." He noted that the war against Iraq actually started long before the March 2003 invasion, with something called "Operation Southern Focus," a bombing campaign that began in the Summer of 2002, weeks before Congress voted to authorize the use of force. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's guidance to U.S. Central Command was to "keep it below the CNN line." Every air strike was portrayed as simply an act of self-defense by U.S. and British aircraft enforcing the southern no-fly zone.
Gardiner said that the evidence suggests that a similar strategy is under way against Iran. He believes the United States has been in Iran for two years, in the form of special forces. The United States is also training the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group that Saddam Hussein gave refuge to for many years. Gardiner did not address the question of the United States use of nuclear weapons against Iran during the panel discussion, but when asked about it by EIR afterwards, he said, "I think it's part of the plan."
Gardiner also argued that the Bush Administration has probably backed off from an attack on Iran before Election Day. He said that over the last three weeks, Bush Administration statements about Iran have dropped off, and the mine countermeasure ships that had received prepare-to-deploy orders had not yet departed their home port, meaning they now could not get to the Persian Gulf before Election Day. However, drawing such a conclusion from such an indication attributes to Cheney's backers rationality that they do not have. Their calculations are driven by the speed of the financial collapse, not military considerations.
Cirincione began his opening remarks by declaring that the Bush Administration is "following the Iraq playbook." He noted that the Administration is arguing a false choice between appeasement and war; they're exaggerating the threat; they're undermining negotiations, whose failure they then use as an argument for the military option; they promote an optimistic assessment about the results of military strikes; there are Iranian dissidents whispering the same scenarios into the ears of the Administration, that Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were doing in 2002; and the neo-con press, including the Weekly Standard and the National Review, have cover stories arguing for war.
The Danger of a Global War
While the panel members may not have a full understanding of the forces behind Cheney and Rumsfeld's war drive, they clearly understand what a U.S. strike on Iran would mean. "If you like the war in Iraq," Cirincione said, "wait until you see the war in Iran. This will be something we have not seen in a generation. This will be a massive, global war." He added that the Iranians "have a half-dozen asymmetrical responses that will cause havoc for U.S. forces in Iraq, for our ally Israel, and for our economy." And yet, outside of the efforts of a handful of members, there is no debate in Congress as to whether such an attack is worth the risk, and whether it would even accomplish the supposed objective.
Cirincione's comments came after Kucinich had turned the discussion towards the consequences of a U.S. strike on Iran, noting that the Iraqi cleric Moqtada al Sadr has already stated that he would order his militia to attack U.S. troops in Iraq if the U.S. hits Iran. Gardiner also noted that al-Sadr controls the Facilities Protection Service, which guards the oil pipeline infrastructure in Iraq, and which would be "destroyed very quickly." He also reported that the Iranians have moved missiles into firing areas that they used during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, which brings their missiles within range of U.S. troops in Iraq.
But looming behind these likely consequences is the backfire potential inside Iran, itself. Dr. Parsi blew apart the neo-con fantasies about regime change in Iran by pointing out what happened after Iraq invaded Iran in 1980. "In 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini was in the midst of a vicious political struggle for the future of the Iranian revolution," he said, "He had not consolidated his power, not yet." But then Saddam Hussein launched his invasion. "In spite of their differences, Iranians rallied around the flag. They united. Within weeks, more than 100,000 volunteers rushed to the front lines to fight the invaders. In fact, according to many experts, Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic survived not in spite of, but because of the Iraqi attack." The same thing would likely happen in the event of a U.S. attack, he said, and the nuclear program would be accelerated, not stopped. He also said that Iranians in the United States have no love for the regime in Tehran, but they're also watching what's happening in Iraq and they feel "no envy" for what's happening there.
The panelists all agreed that the alternative to war is dialogue and negotiation, which the Bush Administration has not engaged in. "The hardest thing for me personally to understand," Kay said, "is the continued refusal to talk directly to countries like North Korea and Iran.... I fundamentally believe that the failure to engage in direct discussions is what is at heart wrong with this process." Cirincione added that what Iran really needs is security assurances, and the United States has to be prepared to offer them. In addition to dialogue with Iran, Congress should also do its job. Cirincione said that there has to be a realistic threat assessment done by the intelligence community, it should be made public, and Congress should hold hearings on it, to include dissenting views.
Financier Interests Behind the War Drive
These assessments all assume that the drive for war originates from within the neo-cons inside the Bush Administration. In a statement issued on Oct. 9, Lyndon LaRouche clarified that "The war-drive comes from the Anglo-Dutch Liberal international financier faction. There are shadings of differences among elements of the international financier forces behind the war-drive, but the war-drive comes as much from within Europe itself as the U.S.A. This is the same faction as the Winston Churchill faction behind the Truman war-drive of April-May 1945 onward.
"The John Train case, as we have documented it, is the primary source of this threat to civilization. The neo-cons are merely the low-level lackeys of the Anglo-Dutch-synarchist alliance of financiers in the Venetian tradition and in the ghost of Prince Rainier of the neo-Nazi Monte Carlo lodge which includes the case of Henry Kissinger.
" 'Neo-con faction,' is therefore a serious error of strategic estimate of the nature of the European Anglo-Dutch Liberal core of what is being reflected in the U.S.A."