[Marxism] counterpunch highlights Negroponte's doubts about attacking Iran

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Apr 26 03:00:45 MDT 2006

Except for the fact that I don't see anything secret about the "cabal"
as compared with the CIA or other institutions, I think this analysis of
the bourgeois politics is interesting.  I tend to read Negroponte's
comments the same way: an expression of hesitation if not protest
against the plan to carry out a 100 percent American suicide bombing of

Of course, any terrorist responses to the bombing can then be used to
justify turning the bombing of all installations related to nuclear
projects including "intellectual capacity" (in other words, the whole
country) into a pretext for the following drive to occupy the country.
That's why the hints that Iran is allegedly seeking suicide bombers to
protest an attack on their country does not disturb the administration.



Wilkerson Fingers the Neo-Cons on Iran

"The Secret Cabal Got What It Wanted: No Negotiations."


It was May 2003. President Bush had declared “Mission Accomplished” in
Iraq. The State Department, which had been unenthusiastic about that
war, was not inclined to provoke another with Iran and indeed had been
calling for diplomatic engagement with the reform-minded Khatami regime.
That regime for its part asked the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to forward
to the United States a request for talks. These would address U.S.
concerns about its nuclear program, as well as the lifting of sanctions
and normalization of relations. 

Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage were
inclined to accept the offer. Vice President Cheney, soon to declare,
“We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it,” was not. Nor was
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and his Office of
Special Plans. Indeed, Cheney and his neoconservatives had the State
Department rebuke the Swiss intermediary as they began to ratchet up the
tension level between the countries to its present near-breaking point. 

This is the extraordinary narrative provided in large part by a highly
reliable source, Powell’s former chief of staff, General Lawrence
Wilkerson. He minces no words. ”The secret cabal got what it wanted: no
negotiations with Tehran,” he told Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service
last month. “As with many of these issues of national security
decision-making, there are no fingerprints. But I would guess Dick
Cheney with the blessing of George W Bush [is responsible].” 

Feith, who quietly vacated his office in August 2005 after the war for
which he’d tirelessly campaigned had been exposed as one based on lies,
hired neocon ideologue and Iran-Contra principal Michael Ledeen to work
for the OSP in 2002. A longtime friend of fellow Iran-Contra plotter
Manucher Ghorbanifar, Ledeen had met with the Iranian arms dealer
several times from December 2001 to June 2002. These contacts, opposed
by the CIA which has long distrusted Ghorbanifar, are thought to have
some relation to the forged Niger uranium documents used to bolster the
case for the attack on Iraq. 

But Ledeen states that his business with Ghorbanifar related to Iran,
not Iraq. Ledeen, as an American Enterprise Institute scholar and
journalist for the neocon National Review, has repeatedly called for an
immediate U.S. attack on Iran. Meanwhile Ghorbanifar has been returned
to the U.S. government payroll, working with the Vice President’s Office
and the Defense Department. He’s assigned among other things to provide
intelligence on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. 

Ghorbanifar and one of his associates are thought to be the source of
much of the information in the book Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret
Information that Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America...
and How the CIA has Ignored it written by his friend Congressman Curt
Weldon and published last year. It declares that Iran is hiding Osama
bin Laden, preparing terrorist attacks on the U.S., has a crash program
to build nuclear weapons and is the chief sponsor of the insurgency in
Iraq. Shades of Ahmad Chalabi!

This is all so déjà vu. At least for all with eyes to see. The rejection
of the Iranian proposal in 2003 reminds me of the Iraqi peace proposals
made to the Bush administration from December 2002 to March 2003. 

On February 19 Saddam’s regime indicated to Washington through
intermediaries that in exchange for a U.S. promise not to attack it
would (1) cooperate in fighting terrorism; (2) give “full support” for
any U.S. plan “in the Arab-Israeli peace process; (3) give “first
priority [to the U.S.] as it relates to Iraq oil, mining rights;” (4)
cooperate with US strategic interests in the region; and (5) allow
“direct US involvement on the ground in disarming Iraq.” The
highest-ranking U.S. official directly involved in the discussion was
the chairman of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon, Richard Perle.
The “Prince of Darkness” (as the neocon is sometimes known) regarded
Iraqi pleas for a deal as “all non-starters because they all involved
Saddam staying in power.” The neocons wanted regime change and they got
it. Now they want it in Iran. 

Why settle for a diplomatic resolution of issues between the U.S. and
Iran when you can defeat “evil”?

In 2002, Cheney and Rice spoke authoritatively about Iraq’s attempts to
import aluminum tubes “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs,
centrifuge programs” citing intelligence reported by Judith Miller in
the New York Times.

Nowadays the press reports about a laptop computer stolen by an Iranian
citizen in 2004 with designs “for a small-scale facility to produce
uranium gas, the construction of which would give Iran a secret stock
that could be enriched for fuel or for bombs” and “drawings on modifying
Iran's ballistic missiles in ways that might accommodate a nuclear

In 2002, unbeknownst to the public, the U.S. intelligence community was
divided, with many in the CIA skeptical of the neocons’ claims. In 2006,
that community---even though purged in Cheney’s effort to scapegoat the
CIA for “flawed” (as opposed to faked) intelligence---is still probably

With that assumption I read the comments of U.S. intelligence chief John
Negroponte to the National Press Club on April 20. “The developments in
Iran,” he declared, “clearly they’re troublesome. By the same token, our
assessment at the moment is that even though we believe that Iran is
determined to acquire or obtain a nuclear weapon, that we believe that
it is still many years off before they are likely to have enough fissile
material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into
the next decade. So I think it’s important that this issue be kept in

Negroponte’s career highlight before acquiring his present Homeland
Security post was his ambassadorship in Honduras from 1981 to 1985.
During that time (which too few Americans remember) he supervised the
training of Nicaraguan Contras and covered up vicious human rights
abuses. I wouldn’t suggest that he’s personally opposed to a brutal
illegal attack on Iran sometime soon. I don’t know. But by urging that
the nuclear issue “be kept in perspective” he may reflect a concern
within the “intelligence community” that once again the disinformation
apparatus is proceeding unchecked. The neocons may disparage the
“reality-based community” in favor of their Nazi-like penchant to create
their own alternative reality

But there are professional analysts who still highly valuate things like
facts and reality and perspective. So maybe we see here again some
conflict within the administration---between those merely morally
compromised by their very involvement in such a regime (and inclined to
say, “Hey wait, let’s try to be honest here”) and those who lie though
their teeth---without any moral qualms---to obtain their
world-transforming objectives.

Of course, the Iran attack advocates aren’t saying that Iran’s 45
minutes away from nuking New York. They’re saying that it has a secret
nuclear weapons program (despite IAEA claims that there is no evidence
for one), and that the program must be terminated (at some unspecified
point) before Iran builds its first nuke. Those acquainted with the
science estimate that Iran is anywhere from three to 15 years away from
constructing a nuclear weapon if it so desires. The neocons would like
us to imagine the mullahs producing nukes sooner rather than later,
because they’re hell-bent on regime change in Iran while their man is in
office and want to sell their attack as justifiably preemptive---as an
attack to defend the American people. 

The power structure is obviously divided on the Iran issue, if not as
deeply as one might hope. Democratic Party leaders have indeed competed
with the Bush administration to embrace a hard line on Iran. The
president’s recent visit to the Hoover Institution to talk with foreign
policy wonks who favor an attack suggests the plan’s still on track. But
recently there’s been a trend towards advocating negotiations. I would
just suggest those doing so note that such negotiations might have begun
three years ago----had Cheney and his neocon acolytes (still dangerously
occupying key positions) not sabotaged any diplomatic initiatives
standing in the way of their imperial ambitions. 

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct
Professor of Comparative Religion. He can be reached at:
gleupp at granite.tufts.edu 

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