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On Iran: This is What Happens When the World Stays Silent

When the Jews were being slaughtered in the holocaust the world remained silent. Today Iran repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel and attacks ,through its proxy terrorist groups, Jewish and Israeli civilians around the world. If Iran gets the nuclear bomb will the world stay silent again?

To see all the films in the Clarion Project’s Iran short film series visit: http://iran.clarionproject.org/iran_f…

Dems, Republicans and Experts Question Terms of Iran Deal

Politicians and experts from across the political spectrum are calling into question the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran. The two primary issues – verifiability and the possibility of military dimensions (PMD) of the Iranian nuclear program – threaten to derail the agreement.

A report, “Verifying a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran,” written by the former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Olli Henomen, states that for the agreement to be effective in real terms, verifiability must be a function of “unfettered,” “anywhere, anytime” access and not subject to any bureaucratic procedures which would give Iran time to alter the results of any inspections.

The report, signed by 20 foreign policy experts including Democrats and Republicans, criticizes the Obama administration for drawing up an agreement that essentially lets Iran remain a “nuclear threshold state,” specifically noting the fact that the agreement does not resolve any issues having to do with PMD and that sanctions relief will come without any of the above issues being resolved. In addition, the proposed verification provisions fall significantly short, meaning that there is no assurance that Iran’s nuclear program will stay contained within the limitations set out by the agreement.

Other damning reports recently released have come to the same conclusions:

  • A report titled “Necessary Safegurads for a Final Deal with Iran” by Eric Edelman – a career foreign service officer, ambassador and under-secretary of defense for policy — and the president’s former senior adviser Dennis Ross, says “it is uncertain whether the potential monitoring and verification regime adumbrated in the White House factsheet would be remotely sufficient for this task.”
  • Another report titled “Sunsets and Snapbacks: The Asymmetry Between an Expanding Iranian Nuclear Program and Diminishing Western Leverage” by Mark Dubowitz and Annie Fixler questions wisdom of  making an agreement with Iran before the issue of PMD is resolved, thereby giving up any leverage the West may have. In addition, the report makes the case that it is folly to believe that sanctions can realistically be “snapped back” once international companies have invested billions of dollars in Iran.  The report notes that “international sanctions regime took decades to put in place and to have an impact on Iran’s economy and decision making.” Any snap-backs, if possible, will not be felt immediately. Given that the breakout time to create a bomb is estimated at one year, snap-backs offer no real deterrance to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament voted to take away their power to veto of any nuclear agreement drawn up with world powers. In amending their own previous legislation, the lawmakers put the veto power into the hands of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a group made up of ministers and military commanders chosen by Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and headed by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

“Whatever decision the leader takes in this regard, we should obey in parliament,” said speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani . “We should not tie the hands of the leader.”

However, the lawmakers did reject any inspections of the country’s nuclear program that are not “conventional” visits, effectively banning inspection of military sites.

At the same time, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said “at the point where we are, things are not clear [in terms of whether an agreement with Iran] can be reached. There is a need to clarify, make precise and ensure the deal is robust.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is a look inside of a nuclear reactor. Photo: © Reuters.

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President Obama — Please explain how you will prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East?

President Obama, please explain to me how you will prevent a nuclear arms race among the various Muslim countries in the Middle East and elsewhere as your nuclear agreement with Iran will surely cause it?

Hopefully you and your close advisers understand that Iran’s neighbors in the Middle East including Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are already preparing their own nuclear programs as depicted in the below graphic. What do you think will happen if Iran has a “clear path to the bomb”?

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For a larger view click on the image.

A “Good Deal” Needs to Bolt the Door on the Iranians Getting a Nuclear Weapon – Ronen Bergman interviews Gen. David Petraeus (Ynet News)

  • “To accept that Iran’s nuclear ambitions over the years have been exclusively peaceful would require a willing suspension of disbelief….The International Atomic Energy Agency has extensively documented the so-called ‘possible military dimensions’ of the Iranian program, which clearly indicate that – at least until a few years ago – the Iranians were conducting activities whose only rational explanation is that they wanted a nuclear weapons capability.”
  • “History suggests, however, that countries that get to that [nuclear] threshold do not stay there. And regardless, based on everything we know and see about the Iranian government, we cannot allow them to be on the brink of having a nuclear weapon.”
  • “To my mind, a ‘good deal’ needs to bolt the door on the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon. In this respect, certainly large swaths of the program need to be dismantled or at least altered. I don’t know that this requires an end to enrichment, but certainly it would seem to me that there need to be substantial limitations on how much enriched material Iran can possess and the percentage to which they can enrich, as well as restrictions on the research, development, and deployment of new, more sophisticated models of centrifuges.”
  • “An extremely robust inspections program is also necessary – going beyond the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In fact, the inspections regime is, in my mind, the most critical component of a deal.”Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and head of the CIA.

Why Did Ayatollah Khamenei Come to the Table? – Ben Cohen interviews Michael Ledeen

Ladeen: It’s conventional wisdom that Iran came to the negotiating table because of sanctions. I’m not sure that’s correct. It may well be that Iran came to the negotiating table because President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif convinced the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, that if they went to the table, they would get everything they wanted from President Obama. Because, they said, America’s will has been broken, and the Americans are prepared to make endless concessions just to keep talking.

I’m not convinced that there’s going to be a deal with Iran. Khamenei doesn’t want to deal with U.S., he wants to destroy us. He says that every week – sometimes every day. So why should he make a deal when he’s getting everything from us now without a deal?

You have the moderate Arab countries who are, all of a sudden, talking to Israel, working out joint plans and contingencies with Israel. What can they do? If Iran is going nuclear – and there’s not a leader in the Middle East who doesn’t believe that Iran is going nuclear – then they have to defend themselves. And if America isn’t available, who is?

Dr. Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the U.S. National Security Council, Department of State, and Department of Defense, is a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Fathom-BICOM)

From Russia with Love: A Nuclear Suppository for Obama

The ballistic missile with Obama’s name on it, paraded in the streets of Moscow last Monday, was only an imitation – but the sentiment was genuine.

Looking like a gigantic allegorical suppository for the American president, the green twelve-foot rocket emblazoned with the hammer and sickle over a red star brought up Cold War memories of real intercontinental missiles the Soviet government would parade in Red Square as a vague threat to its enemies. There was no vagueness this time: in large print letters, the message on the rocket said, “To be delivered to Obama in person.”

Russian missile for Obama from Rashkin

The occasion was the Day of the Defenders of the Motherland – a big annual celebration of the creation of the Red Army in 1918 by Leon Trotsky. To be sure, Trotsky’s name had not been attached to this holiday ever since his removal from power and assassination by Stalin. Additionally, the country has since changed its name, borders, ideology, the system of government, and renamed the very holiday in question.

Still, the holiday spirit runs strong, along with patriotic rallies, propaganda posters, and nationally televised bombastic military-themed concerts puffed up by a full roster of Kremlin-approved celebrities.

It’s also dubbed Men’s Day, as all Russian men and boys receive greetings and gifts from women and girls – a rather manipulative hetero-normative reminder that all male citizens belong in the army.

unnamed (18)In a way, this mirrors Women’s Day on March 8th – another originally communist holiday that comes twelve days later, when women and girls receive greetings and gifts from men and boys, as men volunteer to help around the house and do women’s work in the kitchen – which may also be seen as a hetero-normative reminder of a woman’s place on all other days of the year.

This year Ukraine officially canceled the celebration of Russia’s military holiday, belatedly joining other ex-Soviet republics that had suffered the wrath of the Red Army. In contrast, Vladimir Putin’s government has boosted the celebration even further, making February 23rd an official day off and using it to crank up the already excessive Russian patriotism.

With full support of the government-controlled media, national chauvinism is now spilling over the state borders, as gangs of armed “patriots” flock to eastern Ukraine, eager to show the uppity ukrops their place in Pax Russiana. Jingoism dominates Russia’s online forums and social media, as well as the streets and city squares, with rallies that support Putin, military adventurism, and Pax Russiana, while at the same time trashing everything non-Russian, especially America and Gayrope (a new Russian slur deriving from “gay” + “Europe.”) The stunt with the Obama-targeted missile is merely a small piece in the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle called Russia.

According to the Levada Center, a Moscow-based independent polling organization, America is seen negatively today by 74% of the Russian population (60% also have a negative view of Europe), and 69% believe the United States is a hostile nation. At the same time, after the break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s, only 10% of Russians viewed the U.S. negatively. What happened?

The Levada Center has registered four waves of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment in Russia – in 1999 (the war in Serbia), in 2003 (the war in Iraq), in 2008 (the war in Georgia), and in 2014 (the war in Ukraine), with today’s wave being the strongest in the last 20 years. Sociologists also believe that Russia’s public opinion is shaped largely by the government-run media, with more than one half of the respondents admitting they couldn’t form opinions independently.

Russian most popular politicians

It would be fair to say that every such wave of anti-Americanism in Russia (and to some extent around the world) has been orchestrated and paid for by the Kremlin’s powerful propaganda machine, which deploys two parallel narratives – one for the foreigners and one for domestic use. The domestic narrative is always a variation of the same formula: “Once again, the Motherland is under attack from American imperialism. The West has always hated Russia. Out of sheer hatred they want to humiliate us and push Russia out of its traditional spheres of influence. To survive, our nation must unite around a strong leader and his party.” The leader is, of course, Vladimir Putin; the party is United Russia.

During the first wave of post-Soviet xenophobia and anti-Americanism in December of 1999, Putin conveniently upgraded his position from Russian prime minister to Russian president. It is hardly a coincidence that now, during the fourth and strongest anti-American wave, Putin’s approval rating has risen to an astronomical 86%. The survey was taken on February 23rd, the same day the Russia-to-Obama rocket was spotted in the streets of Moscow.

Russian missile for Obama from Rashkin

A sign at a pro-Putin rally in Moscow showing America and Europe as two rats biting at Ukraine, and Russia as a cute red squirrel. The caption says, “Time for rodent control?”

This only means that about the same number of Russians also share a paranoid obsession with Ukraine, honestly believing that Vladimir Putin is fighting an epic and noble battle against the American aggression launched by the CIA through its Ukrainian proxies.

A similar narrative existed during Russia’s invasion into Georgia in 2008, when the Russian media referred to the Georgian president Saakashvili as America’s puppet.

In the days of the Maidan protests in Kiev last year, a number of protesters had been taken away and beaten by national security, which at the time was largely run by Russia’s FSB. Between the beatings, the interrogators demanded a “volunteer confession” that the protests had been organized by American agents and paid for in dollars. No such “confessions” had been obtained.

From the start of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Russian media cooperated with the Russian intelligence in trying to find evidence of American presence in the war zone. All they have found was a broken foreign-made rifle, a damaged Hummer vehicle, and a two-second video footage of a British anti-land-mine activist in Mariupol, whom the Russian media described as an American cutthroat mercenary.

In the absence of facts, fakes will do. The government media, with the assistance of an army of paid online activists have launched a slew of rumors, conspiracy theories, and internet fakes – for example, presenting footage from Iraq as coming from Ukraine, or publishing wild-eyed “eyewitness accounts,” the latest of which included an apocalyptic story of drunken American Negroes dancing on top of Ukrainian tanks while pointing guns at terrified civilians. A separatist warlord once posted a “humorous” story online about how one dark night he saw an “American Negro” jumping out of a burning Ukrainian tank and immediately taking off his clothes, hoping that his black skin would help him to blend with the night.

Barack Obama receives a similar race-baiting treatment, with many online cartoons and posters mocking his race and portraying him as a monkey. On Obama’s birthday last year some “patriotic” Muscovites unveiled a large street banner picturing the U.S. President as “three wise monkeys.” Later that evening, the wall of the U.S. embassy in Moscow became a screen for a crude animated laser show picturing Obama eating a banana.

anti-Obama sign in Moscow

In this context, a missile for Obama in the middle of a patriotic rally hardly raised any eyebrows. A bigger problem is the fact that this agitprop rocket was conceived and signed by a Valery Rashkin (pronounced as “Rushkin”), a notoriously belligerent member of the Russian parliament and the leader of the Moscow branch of the Communist Party. The picture shows him proudly pumping his fist in front of his art project. Putin’s policies to restore the USSR obviously make this communist leader a happy camper.

A week earlier Rashkin fell under a new round of EU sanctions for promoting war in Ukraine, along with nineteen individuals and nine organizations whose assets held in EU countries have now been frozen, accompanied by an EU-wide travel ban. In total, Brussels has already sanctioned 151 individuals and 37 companies in Russia and eastern Ukraine.

Russian missile for Obama from RashkinThe new blacklist caused an overwrought reaction in the Duma, which quickly became the subject of ridicule in social media. The indignant head of the education commission Nikonov (United Russia) took the floor to defend his communist colleague by saying, “If they (in Europe) are all Charlie, then we are all… Rashkin!”

The following day, the Russian-speaking Internet was filled with “Je suis Rashkin” Internet memes, Tweets, and spoofs.

Rashkin himself responded to the sanctions by saying that in WWII his father entered Berlin without any sanctions and he was hoping that history would sort it out like it did in 1945. Standing next to his rocket, the leader of Moscow communists explained his stunt as follows: “Someone today is conspiring against my Motherland. I am the son of my father, I wanted to send a present. This present doesn’t abide by any sanctions either. It will fly wherever the Motherland wishes it to fly.”

A crowd of communists, several thousand strong, carried red flags, portraits of Soviet leaders, and the Obama-designated rocket through Moscow streets to Revolution Square, where they held a planned rally with Rashkin as a speaker. “The United States is causing destruction, violence, and bloodshed all over the world. We must stop these rapists and murderers, we must fight to defend the sovereignty of our great nation,” said the member of the Russian parliament and head of the commission on ethnic policies.

The next speaker was Gennady Zyuganov, head of Russia’s Communist Party, claiming that the West doesn’t want Russia to be strong and powerful and that they only “need our resources, our talent, and our land. That is why they have imposed their sanctions and continue to choke us any way they can. That is why they have unleashed the bloody war in Ukraine, directed by the CIA, unscrupulous diplomats, outright Nazis, Banderites, and corrupt oligarchs.”

Leader of Russia’s communists Gennady Zyuganov is not only a long-serving member of the Russian parliament (since 1993), but he is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (since 1996). Additionally, in 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012 he was a candidate in Russian presidential elections and came in second every time. Zyuganov and Rashkin exemplify the pre-approved pool of candidates in Putin’s Russia circa 2015.

Rashkin - Red Army hat

To be fair, the Kremlin’s political technologists are hard at work trying to misrepresent the reality of Russia’s pool of candidates by manufacturing and promoting political opposition which it can control, while marginalizing the independents. As a result, the only “viable” opposition leaders in Russia are the Soviet-style communist Zyuganov (4% of the vote) and the psychotic nationalist Zhirinovsky (5% of the vote). Both are grotesque scarecrows; compared to them Putin looks like a knight in shining armor to most Russians and appears a lesser of two evils in the eyes of the West.

After the fall of the USSR Russia had a real chance to develop a civil society, modernize its economy, and join the family of Western nations as an equal. Instead, as many independent Russian analysts believe, Vladimir Putin has squandered that chance, choosing to control the population by cultivating fear and hostility towards the outside world as a means to shift the blame for Russia’s continued problems and to divert attention from his and his circle’s abuse of power.

Russian most popular politicians

If a president’s goal is to become a national hero but he can’t do it by improving his country, Plan B is to create the appearance of heroics by means of media manipulations and byzantine political technologies. The latter worked for Putin: according to a survey conducted early February by Public Opinion Foundation, 72% of Russians would have voted for Putin today, with only 5% distrusting their president. The annexation of the Crimea only added to his popularity. Analysts believe the current crisis may actually be a boon for Putin, as the average Russian is likely thinking, “If he could pull off getting us the Crimea, he’ll find a way out of this crisis as well.”

On the international arena, Plan B means dragging the rest of the world down to his level by sabotaging other economies and stirring political turmoil abroad, making Russia look stable and prosperous in comparison.

Russian Aryan mythologyBy choosing Plan B, Putin has pushed the Russian society thousands of years back, into the age of mythology with its hierarchy of gods, heroes, and monsters. In compliance with the state-approved zeitgeist, Russia’s cultural elites are filling the post-communist void in their souls with ancient Slavic mythology and “Aryan” pseudoscience, submerging into the depths of imaginary history, resurrecting forgotten words, notions, and meanings, and defining Russia as the Third Rome.

In other words, they are doing pretty much everything the cultural elites in Hitler’s Germany did when they tried to resurrect the pre-Christian Aryan mythology and lifestyle, defining themselves as the Third Empire, better known to us as the Third Reich.

The parallels in cultural attitudes are striking – and yet, in the mythological hierarchy of today’s “Third Rome,” the Third Reich was populated by monsters. According to the same mythology, the monsters have now reappeared in Ukraine, and Pax Russiana is once again standing up to the noble task of stomping them out. As a bonus, this view allows the participants to re-enact the mythologized heroics of the Great Patriotic War, better known to us as WWII. The circus pleases the plebs, and lowering vodka prices also helps.

A decade of mind-boggling oil revenues may have made Putin look like an invincible superhero, but easy petrodollars have also bloated his ego and made him detached from reality. The rest of the nation simply jumped on the presidential bandwagon. Now that the oil prices have dropped by half, Russia is back to square one: a poor and paranoid outcast, with crumbling currency, junk credit rating, and residual delusions of grandeur.

Superhero Putin is now asking his citizens to “sit tight for a couple of years, it’ll get better,” while his sidekick, prime minister Medvedev, threatens the world with a terrible “boom” and “ka-pow.” The sidekick’s sidekick, deputy prime minister Shuvalov, follows suit by declaring that for Putin’s sake Russians will be happy to eat less and live in the dark.

Quite fittingly, Putin has begun to exchange regular friendly messages with Kim Jong Un. North Korea’s dictator is expected to visit Moscow on May 9th to attend the Victory Day military parade in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. Both must be looking forward to comparing notes on how to maintain a long and productive career as an international outcast. The Russian media is already producing stories claiming that life in North Korea is not as bad as Western imperialists would want us to believe. Whether Russia is ready for the Ten Principles of Juche remains to be seen, but latest opinion polls indicate that Russia’s positive view of the authoritarian China has grown as high as 77%.

According to a running joke among his critics, Putin has turned Russia into a Burkina Faso with nuclear rockets. And if you’re a member of the Russian parliament, you can even have a personal rocket, or at least a cargo-cult imitation thereof, or perhaps a rocket-shaped voodoo doll, on which you can write the name of your true enemy: Barack Obama.

Russian most popular politicians

EDITORS NOTE: This column was first published in FrontPage Magazine, now with added illustrations. The featured photo is courtesy of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation – KPRF.ru