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Glenn Greenwald: The Growing Iranian Military Behemoth

Even as the United States threatens to invade Iran, you must always remember: Iranians/Muslims are the violent, aggressive, and warlike ones.

The growing Iranian military behemoth

By Glenn Greenwald

The tranquility of my Saturday morning was disrupted — and that’s putting it mildly — when I read on Glenn Reynolds’ popular right-wing “Instapundit” blog that we can learn important “Lessons About Iran From Hitler.” To know that we have yet another New Hitler in our midst is alarming indeed. Reynolds’ link takes one to an even more jarring warning about the Persian menace, by David Goldman, that extensively compares the fallen Nazi leader to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and argues that because both figures are maniacal monsters presiding over a dying nation, only a full-scale military attack can stop them. ”However much it costs in Iranian blood and well-being, it’s still worth it,” Goldman casually decrees.

Sociopathic calls for aggressive attacks on other nations and cheap invocations of Hitler are not worth commenting on: neocons churn those out reflexively. But what is worth noting is the event Goldman is flagging as proof of Iran’s aggressive intentions: “Iran is planning to double its defense budget even though its currency is collapsing,” he warns. A doubling of its defense budget! Who among us can remain calm in the face of such naked militarism?

That Ahmadinejad claims that Iran will increase its military budget for next year by 127% was widely reported this week. For a variety of reasons relating to Iran’s economic difficulties, that plan is quite infeasible — typical Ahmadinejad blustering — but let’s assume for the moment that it will actually happen. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database, Iran’s total annual military spending is $7 billion; an increase of 127% would take it to $15.8 billion — also known as: less than 2% of total U.S. military spending (which was$698 billion for fiscal year 2010). According to Defense News, Iran’s official military budget for 2011 is actually $12 billion; an increase of 127% would bring it to $27.2 billion, also known as: less than 4% of U.S. military spending. Taking the largest number possible for Iranian military spending (the one provided by Defense News), behold the frightening, Nazi-like military threat Iran poses:

These kinds of scary claims about Iran’s military might have been issuing for years. Back in 2006, Gen. John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command,announced that Iran has the most powerful military in the Middle East, even though Israel has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, as many as 200, while Saudi Arabia annually spends almost $60 billion on its military (more than 5 times Iran’s current spending) or “10% of GDP on defence, more than double the proportion spent by America.” Both of those Iranian rivals (Israel and Saudi Arabia), and many others in that region, are recipients of vast amounts of sophisticated military weaponry from the U.S.  Here is a list of 11 extremely sophisticated weapons that the U.S. — and it alone in the world — possesses. And then there’s the fact that the U.S. basically has Iran completely encircled, as demonstrated by this graph from Juan Cole’s blog, showing U.S. military bases near Iran:

As Cole put it: “Each star is a US base. But just to be clear, Iran is the one that is threatening us.” Indeed: imagine if the blue in that map were the U.S. (rather than Iran), and the large red areas were Mexico and Canada (rather than Iran’s neighbors), and the stars represented Iranian military bases. Then further imagine that Iranian political leaders and media figures routinely told their population that it was the U.S. that was an aggressive, threatening power that had to be stopped: the mocking condemnations of that level of propaganda would be endless. Yet American political officials and commentators feel free to insist, with a straight face, that Iran is an aggressor nation posing a serious threat to the U.S.: such a serious threat, in fact, that war may be necessary to stop it. And there is, tragically, little doubt that if there is an attack on Iran by Israel — with direct U.S. involvement or, more likely, U.S. support and approval — there will be little opposition in either American political party, and even less challenge to the ludicrous claims about the Grave Iranian Threat that will be invoked to justify it.

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  • Believing Atheist

    @ThilLOW IQ aka Mr. Bogus,

    More evidence to refute your diatribe mental-imperialism against Iran

    A statement or an answer to a question can of course be false simply because of a lack of knowledge of the true answer. The claim that Iran’s nuclear program poses an “existential” threat to Israel, however, is false not because those who make the claim lack the knowledge that Iran’s nuclear program does not entail arms production, but because they apparently need to fabricate a pretext for the purposes of destabilization and regime change in that country.

    However, while its nuclear program poses no threat to Israel (or any other country), Iran nonetheless poses a threat of a different nature to the expansionist plans of Israel and its allies in the region. That threat stems from Iran’s national sovereignty, its independence from imperial powers, its unwavering exposition of (and challenge to) the radical Zionist project of “greater Israel,” and its defense of the rights of the Palestinian people to their land and their homes.
    Iran under the Shah was a close ally of Israel, upholding military and diplomatic ties and supplying it with oil. Since the overthrow of the Shah (1979), however, Iran has switched alliances from the oppressor to the oppressed, the Palestinian people. Not that Iran denies the right of the Jewish people to live in the historical Palestine; but it maintains that such co-existence should be based on international laws and conventions: that is, in a united (one) state and under a democratically-elected government based on one person, one vote, with equal rights to all citizens.

    Not only does Iran expose Israel’s formal gestures of peace negotiations with Palestinians as disingenuous delaying tactics, it also exposes the shameful collaboration of most of the Arab leaders with Israel and its
    imperialist masters in this charade. As this makes Iran’s policy of national sovereignty popular in the Arab-Muslim world, it also earns it the wrath of not only the Israeli and Imperialist powers but also of most of the Arab leaders—hence, the unholy alliance of them all against Iran.

    Israel’s fear of Iran is, therefore, a fear of being exposed for what it is, and what it stands for, that is, fear of the truth, not of Iran’s non-existing nuclear weapons.

    What frightens Israel and its allies most is the example of the Iranian revolution of 1979, and its subsequent national independence from external powers. Contrary to the distorted image of Iran in the West, the country’s resistance to the Zionist-imperialist pressure is quite popular in the Arab/Muslim world. This is clearly reflected in a number of public opinion polls (taken by well-known pollsters of the United States and other Western countries) that consistently rank President Ahmadinejad of Iran (and Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanon’s Hezbollah) above the corrupt and cringing rulers of Arab countries—despite the fact that Iran is neither Arab nor Sunni, as most Arab countries are.
    Not surprisingly, many observers of the recent social upheavals in the Arab/Muslim world, known as the Arab spring, argue that these revolutionary movements may have in subtle and roundabout ways been inspired by the Iranian revolution. Nor is it surprising that, to put an end to these revolutionary upheavals, Israel and its allies have gone all out on a relentless mission to destroy the Iranian example of national sovereignty through policies of destabilization and regime change.

    And more evidence of Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism:

    It is no secret that the state of Israel was created through the expropriation of the Palestinian land by terrorizing and evicting them from their homes—750,000 in the initial 1948 raid alone. Nor is it a secret that Israel has since its creation held to and expanded territory also through terrorism. It is equally clear that militant Zionist leaders of Israel base their future policies of occupation and control on sheer military force and terrorizing strategies—hence, Israel a state of, by and for terrorism.
    In an article titled, “The Israeli Terrorist State and its Mossad Assassins,” the late professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor, and chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights from 1970 until 1990, famously wrote: “There is nothing new in the fact that Israel is a terrorist state, which, almost from its inception, has used its intelligence service (the Mossad) to assassinate people on foreign soil with any violence or terror it considers necessary for its
    Of course, the Palestinian people bear the bulk of the brunt of the Israeli carnage. The policy of violent obliteration of “existential threats,” real or perceived, to the expansionist plans of Israel, however, goes beyond Palestinians and their supporters in the Arab/Muslim world; it also includes targets in other parts of the world, including the United States, Israel’s most generous benefactor and staunchest ally.
    The following is a small sample of instances of Israel’s acts of violence against targets viewed as threats to its existence or interests (there is no chronological or any other type of order in the list provided below).
    • One of the most notorious acts of Israeli terrorism occurred in the immediate aftermath of its surprise invasion of Palestine in 1948, when Jewish forces, members of the LEHI underground (also known as the Stern Gang) assassinated Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, a U.N. appointed mediator. Bernadotte was killed on September 17, 1948, a day after he offered his second mediation plan which, among other things, called for repatriation and compensation for the Palestinian refugees [1].
    • There is also “evidence that in 1991 an Israeli undercover team planned to assassinate a U.S. president. The intended victim was George Herbert Walker Bush.” The plot was planned to be carried out when President Bush “went to Madrid for the opening day of the peace conference to be held that year.” Bush’s sin was that he had attempted to pressure Israel into ending its illegal settlement expansion on confiscated Palestinian land by withholding loan guarantees to Israel until it ended this practice. The planned assassination was not carried out, however, presumably because Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent, who had written a book exposing Israel’s spy agency, had given it away [2].
    • Iranian scientists are not the first to fall prey to Israeli-orchestrated targeted killings. Israel has over the years “assassinated a number of scientists of various nationalities.” For example, “In 1990 a Canadian-American scientist and father of seven, Gerald Bull, was assassinated in Belgium. All indications are that it was an Israeli Mossad hit team that drilled five bullets into the back of his head and neck” [2].
    • In a similarly cold-blooded fashion, a number of US peace activists have in recent years been “intentionally killed, maimed, and injured by Israeli forces, including 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, 21-year-old Brian Avery, 37-year-old Tristan Anderson, 21-year-old Emily Henochowicz, and 21-year-old Furkan Dogan” [2].
    • In 1967, Israeli air and sea forces perpetrated an almost two-hour assault in which they tried to sink a U.S. technical Navy ship (USS Liberty) with a crew of 300. While the attack failed to sink the ship, it succeeded in killing 34 Americans and injuring 174. Analysts have conjured that this was a false-flag operation, intended to blame Egypt for the attack, had the ship gone down and the evidence of Israeli culpability was not discovered [2].
    • In 1954, Israeli secret agents planted explosives in the U.S. diplomatic and “cultural” centers in Cairo and Alexandria in an effort to create animosity between Egypt and the United States by blaming the plot, known as the Lavon Affair, on Egyptians. A premature detonation of one of the devices undid the plot before it could cause horrendous death and destruction. Israel later honored the perpetrator, Marcello Ninio [3].
    • The first known act of deliberately shooting down a civilian airline was carried out by Israel in February 1973. “Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 was a regularly scheduled flight from Tripoli to Cairo via Benghazi. . . . The aircraft was piloted by a mostly French crew . . . under a contractual arrangement between Air France and Libyan Arab Airlines.” On the orders of the then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, the plane was shot down by Israeli fighter jets, killing 107 of its 113 passengers, including the entire French crew [4].
    • Zionist terror did not even spare Jews. In 1940, Menachem Begin’s Irgun Zwei Leumi terrorist gang bombed the ship Patria in Haifa harbor, killing 240 Jewish refugees, so as to put the blame on the British for political gain. And in 1950-1951, Israeli agents were dispatched to Iraq where they tossed hand grenades into the crowded Massauda Shem-Tov synagogue, causing numerous deaths, in order to blame it on the Iraqis and encourage reluctant Iraqi Jews to immigrate to Israel [3].

    Read the entire article at your own leisure.

  • Believing Atheist

    @ThilLOW IQ aka Mr. Bogus,

    Furthermore, Thillow IQ aka Mr. Bogus I want you to read this from Juan Cole:

    Iran is permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that began being signed in the late 1960s to enrich uranium for peaceful uses such as fueling reactors, but the United States and the UN Security Council have attempted to unilaterally abrogate that right in the case of Iran. Israel is not signatory to the NPT, and has gone for broke to produce some 400 nuclear warheads. To the extent that Iraq wanted a nuclear weapon, it was impelled by competition with Israel; i.e., the Israeli bomb kicked off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Because of the reflection fallacy, the Israelis cannot imagine that Iran is not trying to do what they themselves did. But there is no good evidence for an Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the medical reactor does not point to one!
    CNN had P.J. Crowley, the former State Department spokesman on, to explain that Russia and France had offered to supply the LEU needed to run the medical reactor. He did not say why Iran should not make its own fuel, since that is perfectly legal under the NPT.
    Ahmadinejad took the occasion to complain about the “hegemonic powers”:
    “They built atomic bombs, they built chemical weapons, and today, using their domination of centers of power, both in the arena of economics and politics, they have imposed a modern and complex system of plunder on the world.
    In this way, the wealth of nations is systematically plundered and transferred into the pocket of the oppressors of the world. In my view, even more treacherous and more odious than this is their attitude toward science.
    It is their approach toward the progress of nations. They monopolize science. They monopolize technologies that originated from that science. Science has to be at the service of the international community…
    Look at this very nuclear science; first of all they equated nuclear science to the technology of the bomb. Whenever you mention nuclear science it immediately conjures up the image of a bomb in your mind. Nuclear science and technology are quite useful to humanity and in various aspects of human life.
    One of these is radio medicine. Another is radio isotopes which find applications in industry, agriculture, and medicine or generating clean power that is very cheap. It can lead to the speedy progress of nations and provide them with welfare and health and security.
    Nevertheless, they (the West) equate all this to the nuclear bomb. At first glance, you might think that this is not very important. Of course, it is; when it is equated to the bomb many of the regulations related to security and constraints and monopoly creating laws are formulated. They impose various restrictions which you are witness to, that after 70-80 years it is only seven or eight nations that enjoy the benefit of nuclear power. The rest of the nations are deprived of it.
    Any nation that dares to develop this science and technology is faced with pressures and sanctions on top of insults and much hullaballoo.
    In my view, the biggest assault that they made on humanity was the assault on science. Look at what they have done in the arena of Iran’s nuclear episode. How much noise did they make?
    How much bad conduct they showed and how impolite they were toward the nation of Iran.
    They tried to prevent the progress of the nation of Iran. They launched resolutions and sanctions against us and applied political pressure and launched propaganda against Iran but all to no avail.”
    Ahmadinejad highlights the paternalistic attitude of the West toward the nations of the global South, and the constrictions placed on new countries learning to close the fuel cycle (which the NPT permits them to do).
    Ironically, Rick Santorum made similar comments, but in the reverse:
    “”You have a president who’s not interested in science. He’s interested in politics. Instead of doing something that is in the best interest of creating energy security for our country and economic growth, he plays petty politics and partisan politics and special interest politics…”
    Like Ahmadinejad, Santorum puts a high value on energy independence. For him, it lies in the environmentally ruinous Canadian shale oil pipeline that President Obama nixed. For Ahmadinejad, Iran’s energy independence lies in nuclear energy.
    For Santorum, the sinister force that is preventing the US from having “science” and being energy independent is Barack Obama, who is beholden to hegemonic special interests.
    For Ahmadinejad, the sinister force that prevents Iran from having science and being energy independent is the United States.
    Both are conspiracy theorists, and both fail to put their finger on the real path to energy independence and cheap energy, which is renewables like solar and wind.
    To sum up, medical nuclear reactor at Isfahan likely not a danger to the people of North Dakota.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Thillo aka Mr. Bogus,

    Also I forgot to quote the South Africa-Israel collaboration and provide the pg number in the magazine.

    “Although I was not directly involved in planning or carrying out the operation, I learned unofficially that the flash was produced by an Israeli-South African test code-named Operation Phoenix. The explosion was clean and was not supposed to be detected. But they were not as smart as they thought, and the weather changed – so the Americans were able to pick it up.”

    It is on p. 37 I believe but I am not sure. I will have to recheck.


    “Dieter Gerhardt, a senior commander in the South African Navy said that Israel agreed in 1974 to arm eight Jericho II missiles with “special warheads” for South Africa. And, David Albright reported in 1994 that in 1977 South Africa traded 50 metric tons of yellowcake uranium for 30 grams of Israeli tritium, a radioactive isotope used as a component in triggering thermonuclear weapons.”

  • Believing Atheist

    A few other observations. Bogus claims that he stands behind the Samson option.

    Now if Israel can use the Samson option as deterrence, why does Israel have an exclusive right to have nuclear weapons as deterrence? Other countries in the ME can use the same logic and state that well we also need nuclear bombs as deterrence from Israeli aggression or US imperialism

    Second, this magazine of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists details how Israel and South Africa collaborated together to build nuclear bombs.

    Btw, when I said Israel should reap what it has sowed in no way am I condoning terrorist attacks by Hamas. Hamas needs to stop attacking innocent Jews, majority of whom are for the two-state solution and are working towards a peace-process. All I am suggesting is that Israel take some responsibility in its creation of Hamas and recognize that Hamas is a democratically elected government and recognize the Fatah-Hamas pact and simply say well since we are the ones who started this whole fiasco we have no right to criticize it. Hence, Israel should honor Palestinians self-determinism and simply leave from the occupied territories.

    In my opinion Hamas is a disgusting entity and one has to read the Hamas Charter to know that it is an anti-semitic entity so I don’t like some Muslims and liberals supporting Hamas.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Thillo aka Mr. Bogus,

    In the section called “Arab regimes flipflop on Hamas” it is shown how the Arabs and the Iranians backed Hamas whenever it suited them therefor contributing to his growing popularity and in the section called “As peace falters Hamas influence rises” it is shown how the right side of the Israeli political map (mainly the Likud) is benefiting from Hamas’ violence in order to bring the peace process to a grinding halt.

    That does not negate this quote:

    “Hamas is considered one of Israel’s greatest threats, but the Islamic terrorist organization found its beginnings in the misguided Israeli effort to encourage the rise of a religious alternative that would undermine the popularity of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasir Arafat.”

    So Israel is like Victor Frankenstein, it created a monster that has come back to bit it in the ass. It must reap what it has sowed.

    Furthermore, Iran should not be held responsible for the empowering of Hamas. That credit goes to Israel, as URI AVNERY states : “If Islamist movements come to power all over the region, they should express their debt of gratitude to their bete noire, Israel.”

    The above article also states that Israel also empowered Hezbollah.

    Those 3 are a classic Stockholm syndrome case study. If they think that it was justified to hold them in detention for more than 2 years just because there’s hostility between the US and Iran and they were caught in the middle of it than we’re dealing with 3 useful idiots.
    That’s simply armchair psychology. Unless you’re a psychologist nothing qualifies you to determine who has Stockholm syndrome.
    I don’t know who Noah Schachtman is and what qualifies him to be an expert on Iranian weapons but 2008 (when this article was written) was a long time ago and Iran is still involved in Iraq and not in a good way.
    If you don’t believe Noah at least believe U.S. experts:
    “A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin.
    When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all.”
    So if the U.S. and the US. puppet Iraq have a habit of lying and fabricating evidence against Iran, pattern of practice dictates that it can do so again. The US has zero credibility when it comes to Iran.

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