Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Russia Says US Policy Toward Iran May Spark 'Clash Of Civilizations'

Further to previous posts about Operation BITE (a US "sneak attack" against Iran, reportedly scheduled for 4AM-4PM on April 6th), Larisa Alexandrovna is not buying it:
I want to address a report going around of a Russian general's allegations that the US is planning an air attack on Iran this April 6. I have gotten a large amount of emails about this article [by Webster Tarpley at OpEd News], in which a high ranking Russian general describes a US code-named ops called "Operation Bite."

While I find it highly likely that the US led six year covert war on Iran is likely about to spill over into prime-time, I have not been able to verify the claims made in that article. I have spent the last few days speaking to folks and no one finds this credible, and all for the same reasons. Moreover, no one has heard the April 6 date stated and no one finds the [allotted] time of 12 hours doable. Finally, everyone found the use of a single word for the ops - "Bite" rather suspect. The military rarely uses single word op names, but especially so under this administration who prefers long, sweeping patriotic sentiments such as Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) and Operation Copper Green (rendition and detainment).

Or as one of my journalist friends said: "Operation Eradicate Tyranny" is far more their style. I tend to agree with this sentiment.

So while I do not claim to be right here, I did want to express my skepticism and to answer the horde of emails coming at me about this article. In the end, anything is possible of course.
I don't claim to be right either, and it's gratifying to see Larisa saying the same thing. We both just take what we've learned recently, add it to what we already knew, throw in a bit of analytic thought (or a lot, in her case) and maybe a joke or two (bad jokes, in my case), but in a situation like this, who can say they know anything for sure?

OK, ok, I've visited some wingnut sites lately where they're all dead-certain of everything they say, but I'm talking about reasonable people now. Nobody knows.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that this is the sort of information that should get passed along. So I'll keep watching for reports from Russia and Iran and elsewhere (since we've already seen that our own media are worthless), and we can look at these news items together and evaluate them just like we always do, in light of what we already know (and in my case with a bad joke every now and then)... (And I wish I could do more, but this is it, so let's use it the best we can!)

Having said all that:

If "Operation Bite" is a Pentagon code-name, it could be an acronym. They like acronyms. It could stand something like for "Bomb Iran, Tyranny Evaporates". Pretty close to "Operation Eradicate Tyranny" and also symbolic of the type of attack described here: One big chomp! Ka-Blam!!! Shock and Awe for 12 hours only.

I disagree about whether it's doable. We've got so many planes. They can all do one or more sortie(s) in that 12-hour period. They wouldn't want to use 'em all, but they might think about using most of 'em. Put together a really short target list, hit those targets as hard as possible for the 12 hours, and dare the Iranians to do anything about it.

As Larisa says, the covert war has been going on for six years. Lately Larisa and others have been writing about Americans sponsoring terrorist raids into Iran. They keep daring the Iranians to do something about it -- anything to serve as a pretext. So far the Iranians have been soaking it all up, not even reporting on it in their state media. So the maybe the Americans are getting bolder. In the run-up to the Iraq war they were running an extensive bombing campaign before the "war" officially "started", just hoping a bomber would be shot down so they would have a "reason" to start the war "for real".

Maybe they're thinking about doing something similar here. Who knows?

On the other hand, it could be that Larisa has it right (that wouldn't be the first time!) and we should look for alternative explanations to make sense of the article in question.

A wingnut blogger might tend to criticize Webster Tarpley, the "tin-foil hatter" who just coincidentally happens to have developed a conceptual model that makes perfect sense of 9/11. But surely Tarpley didn't plant those French-language articles in the Russian press.

Now, it could be a Russian psy-op, with a name something like "Bogus Information, Tell Everybody", designed to get bloggers blogging and anti-war folks calling and writing and mobilizing. Perhaps the date and time are made up. Perhaps the vague mumblings of "war imminent" was not enough to rouse the sleeping anti-war American giant, and the Russians are trying to get the American people to do something before all hell breaks loose.

(Side note: If this is the case, am I being used by the Russians? And if so, how do I feel about it?)

Or maybe it's a left blogosphere psy-op and the name stands for "Bush Is The Enemy". Who knows? I don't.

Now here's a bit of more recent news which Larisa will probably find much easier to confirm or deny. Again this is from RIA Novosti:

Moscow warns U.S. Iran policy may spark "clash of civilizations"
MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow urges the United States to avoid escalating tensions around Iran over its nuclear program as it could lead to a "clash of civilizations," the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Washington has been pushing for tougher international sanctions against Iran, which it suspects of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution Saturday introducing further sanctions on Iran.

"The international community should not risk escalating the situation around Iran and should wait for the U.S. to make a good-faith effort to normalize relations with Tehran," the Foreign Ministry said in a foreign policy review signed by the president.

The Russian ministry said the Iran crisis could have devastating consequences for relations between "civilizations," and then the U.S. would have to prove it is not preparing for a "clash of civilizations" by building up "Fortress America," separated from the rest of the world by two oceans and strict border controls.

The term "clash of civilizations" is part of a theory that people of different cultures and religions will be involved in a post-Cold War conflict. Samuel P. Huntington popularized and expanded the term in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order in 1996.
So clearly Putin knows what he is talking about ... and he's talking to the Americans in their language.
The Russian ministry said the U.S. was capable of reaching a compromise with Iran, and cited a visit by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to the U.S. in August.

"The trip of former Iranian President Khatami to the U.S. in August showed that dialogue between civilizations could become a useful channel for the Americans to establish contacts with Tehran," said the ministry review ordered by President Vladimir Putin in June.

Khatami was the most senior Iranian official to visit the U.S. outside the UN framework in more than two decades after the Islamic Revolution and the embassy hostage crisis in Iran.
But the US has not seemed interested in peace. The US has seemed mostly interested in oil.
Unlike the U.S., Russia, which is building a nuclear power plant in southern Iran, has opposed any tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Russian authorities have also been seriously alarmed by U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe to prevent possible strikes from Iran or North Korea.

In his outspoken address to the Munich security conference in February, President Putin said the U.S. missile defense plans could trigger a new arms race, and accused the U.S. of ignoring international law and imposing its own rules on other countries.

"We are seeing an increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law," Putin said, adding that Russia would amend its military strategy in response.
Even if Operation Bite is a psy-op, we certainly are seeing "an increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law", and the Russians have every right -- indeed an obligation -- to amend their strategy accordingly.

That doesn't solve our problem, nor that of the Iranians, but if Tarpley is correct and the Russians are trying to avoid WWIII, then it would be most prudent of us to help them. Would it not?


[see also]

March 19:
(French) L'Iran serait attaqué début avril (experts militaires russes)
(machine translation): Iran would be tackled at the beginning of April (Russian military experts)

March 21:
(French) Le Pentagone va attaquer des cibles militaires iraniennes (expert russe)
(machine translation): The Pentagon will attack Iranian military targets (Russian expert)

March 27:
(English) Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border