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Progress Toward Peace in 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain

It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year as we look back we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.

A US attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Middle Eastern war. Public pressure was so strong that President Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack.
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Ron Paul Rewind: Ignore The Calls For Sacrifice...Cut The Empire!

On December 12, 2007, six years ago today, Dr. Paul was a participant at the Iowa Republican Presidential debate. He was asked the following questions:

1) “What sacrifices would you ask Americans to make for debt reduction?”

2) “Realistically, what do you believe you could accomplish in your first year as President?”

Dr. Paul goes straight for the U.S. military empire in both of his responses. You can watch them below, or read the transcript after the video:
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Israel Aims to Sabotage the Geneva Agreement with Iran

Netanyahu Abdullah

Israel is stepping up its efforts to sabotage the agreements reached in Geneva on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. On December 1 the head of the Israeli military intelligence agency AMAN, Amos Yadlin, and former CIA director Michael Hayden simultaneously and in unison, although in different parts of the world, stated that Iran has already crossed the nuclear threshold and is ready to “build several nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks.” In their opinion, requirements for the further denuclearization of Iran should be made significantly stricter.

American congressmen and senators close to AIPAC, which lobbies for the interests of Israel in the U.S., have prepared a package of sanctions against Iran which they propose to put into effect immediately if the agreements between the IRI and the P5+1 are not being fulfilled. Furthermore, several pro-Israel congressmen are prepared to introduce bills to both houses of the U.S. Congress in the near future urging the tightening of existing sanctions against Iran.

A real uprising against the closing of the “Iranian dossier” is brewing in Congress. Both Republicans and Democrats are criticizing Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. For the first time, the administration has come up against the joint efforts of the two most powerful foreign policy lobbies in the U.S. - the pro-Israel lobby and the pro-Arab lobby. The latter is no less active in the U.S. than the former, and is headed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. The Gulf lobby differs from the better-known Israel lobby in that it spends dozens of times more money on its PR campaigns than Israel…
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You Cannot Negotiate With Iran?

You cannot negotiate with Iran. That is what they told us for years. The Iranian leadership is too fanatical, they are not rational actors, they are “not like us.” One US official even recently said that deception is part of the Iranian DNA. But just over a week ago negotiations between the five permanent UN Security Council Members plus Germany and the Iranians produced an historic agreement that may be first step toward a new era in US relations with the Middle East.

As Middle East expert Eric Margolis pointed out this week, for Iran’s major concessions it will only receive “$7 billion – of its own money, which has been frozen abroad by US-led sanctions.” That sounds like quite a bit of compromise for such a “fanatical” country.
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Iran Gets Short End Of The Nuclear Deal

Iran Surrounded

After all the gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts and tearing of hair coming from Israel and its American supporters, you’d think last week’s nuclear deal in Geneva has opened the way for Iran to become a mighty nuclear weapons power.

Nonsense. Coolly examined, Tehran came off with the short end of the stick at the so-called P5 + 1 big power talks in Geneva. Here’s why:

Bowing to intolerable sanctions and economic warfare from the US, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment to only 5% (over 80% is needed to make a nuclear weapon). This low level is sufficiently only for power generation. Iran is to stop enriching to 20%, the level needed for medical isotopes.

Iran further agreed to halt construction of its Arak heavy water reactor that could eventually produce plutonium, a key nuclear weapons fuel. Tehran agreed not to build any new nuclear facilities, including next generation centrifuges, and grant daily access to UN nuclear inspectors at its top-secret Nantaz and Fordow plants. It will provide design plans for its Arak reactor.
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P5+1 Talks With Iran Headed For Failure?

Yesterday, while taping a discussion of the latest round of P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran on Russia Today’s CrossTalk that was broadcast today (see here or, on You Tube, here), Flynt said:

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not particularly optimistic about a deal being reached this week. I don’t think that there’s been a lot of progress on the issues that kept agreement from being reached the last time the parties Obama Iranconvened in Geneva. There’s the issue of Iran’s nuclear rights, and how they get acknowledged or not acknowledged in an interim agreement. There is disagreement about how to handle, during an interim deal, this heavy water reactor facility at Arak which the Iranians are building. There are still disagreements about the disposition of Iran’s stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium.

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Obama Сhanges Direction in the Middle East

Obama Talks Rouhani

The politics of the Middle East are undergoing a period of great turbulence emanating out of the changes in direction of the regional policies pursued by the United States. When the ship makes a turnaround, it has to be over an arc, and it is now possible to discern the reset of the compass.

This is primarily being felt in the Obama administration’s rethink on the Syrian conflict and its decision to constructively engage with Iran. Neither is an afterthought, but rather they took time to mature…

To take Syria first, Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York needs no introduction as an influential voice in the US foreign policy establishment. His views on the Syrian conflict will always merit attention – especially when aired through the Voice of America.
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Understanding Media Propaganda About Recent Talks Over Iran’s Nuclear Program

Irangeneva

There are a couple points worth noting about recent reporting on the recent talks between the U.S. and its Western allies and Iran over its nuclear program.

1) The first is that the media effectively accepts the U.S. government’s framework that Iran’s rights derive from Washington, D.C. Here’s the New York Times this week:
As Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from other world powers sought to work out an interim agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian government’s insistence on formal recognition of its “right” to enrich uranium emerged as a major obstacle, diplomats said Sunday…. Iran has asserted repeatedly that it has the right to enrich uranium, a necessary step in producing nuclear fuel both for power plants and, at a much higher level, for weapons…. The Obama administration is prepared to allow Iran to enrich uranium to the low level of 3.5 percent as part of an interim agreement, as long as Iran agreed to other constraints on its nuclear activity. But the administration is not prepared to acknowledge at this point that Iran has a “right” to enrich…. “The United States does not believe there is an inherent right to enrichment, and we have said that repeatedly to Iran,” a senior administration official said before the latest round of talks in Geneva.
The Times uncritically parrots the government position, leaving readers with the impression that Iran’s claim lacks any basis. Naturally, there’s not one word in the article about the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party. How can this be? How can the Times report about the issue of Iran’s right to enrich uranium and the U.S.’s rejection of that right without presenting readers with a discussion of what the NPT has to say about it?
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The Iran Question – What Next?

Rouhanip5 1

It is only natural if there is a sense of deja vu over the inconclusive end to the P5+1 and Iran talks in Geneva over the weekend – and of course its photo finish dripping with high drama. The United States-Iran standoff has edged tantalizingly close to resolution many a time in the past in its three decades of history but only to remain on track. 

This time around, however, there could be a qualitative difference, although the templates of an adversarial relationship hardened through decades cannot be made to shift easily, even with the best of intentions. 

The first thing, of course, is to comprehend what really happened in Geneva to dash the high hopes that were aroused. Different interpretations are available, but most accounts agree that France was at its epicenter. The French motives in apparently throwing the wrench at the wheel need to be understood. The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius publically implied that Israel’s concerns were not adequately reflected in the interim agreement that the US, EU and the Iranian diplomats worked out. But beyond that, an impression has also gained ground that France was actually bidding to please Saudi Arabia and the other petrodollar-rich Gulf Arab regimes while ingratiating itself with Israel…
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