The day after the NIE nuclear explosion

Yesterday the nuclear standoff with Iran finally culminated in a nuclear explosion; yet one that didn't occur in a remote testing ground in the Alborz Mountains but right in Washington DC. The findings of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran should leave no stone standing in American politics: the President of the United was again caught red handed lying to the entire nation and the international community about the WMD program of a Middle Eastern regime, trying to construct a case for war on fraudulent allegations and by being forced to make the NIE public against his will was exposed as no longer in control of his own administration.

While the American public understandably is sighing with relief, the world is left speechless and flabbergasted. Not only did George Bush take America's closest allies and all major powers for fools, but the ridiculous spin the administration is audaciously trying to give this diplomatic fallout - which European governments are forced to comply with for the time being for not being exposed the naïve halfwits they are - will not be forgotten. Realistically, this NIE, thank goodness, should render war with Iran virtually impossible and new sanctions at the UN heading for obscurity until George Bush leaves office. The repercussions of this bombshell will keep analysts, pundits, and bloggers occupied for months and, in the worst case, may leave this administration almost as internationally isolated as if it had attacked Iran.

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Moment of truth on Iran postponed, not abandoned

Those political pundits not on the run all day to rate Hillary Clinton's performance at last Thursday's Democratic debate found ample diversion in downgrading the odds for a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Although such a Kentucky Derby-like approach may seem cynical when talking about a cataclysmic showdown, one can't deny these reappraisals to appear well grounded in a fundamental change of sentiment and rhetoric in both, Washington and Tehran. To Dick Cheney's and Joe Lieberman's clear dismay, in a snapshot, war with Iran has become less likely. Until March next year.

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New tunes and shifting transatlantic fronts on Iran

When asked by The Financial Times to comment on the Bush administration's recent 24/7 no-holds-barred saber rattling, Admiral William Fallon, head of CENTCOM, made clear that an attack on Iran was not "in the offing."

"Getting Iranian behavior to change and finding ways to get them to come to their senses and do that is the real objective. Attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice in my book ... None of this is helped by the continuing stories that just keep going around and around and around that any day now there will be another war which is just not where we want to go ... It astounds me that so many pundits and others are spending so much time yakking about this topic."

Well, I'd say the admiral should take his astonishment to Number One Observatory Circle; I'm sure he can have himself informed there. Yet Admiral Fallon is no third-row analyst tasked to take sunk pawns from the board when the O-10s are playing Battleships with the SecNav. His valuation carries weight. The more so as it ties in with other prominent brass-hats declaring against Dick Cheney's pet project, and President Bush himself striking up shawm sounds with regard to Iran when talking to Germany's Angela Merkel this weekend. Leaves one to wonder what to make of this sudden change of tune.

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The coming confrontation with Iran in fiction

This week, two political novels about the looming confrontation with Iran hit bookstores: Vince Flynn's Protect and Defend and my The Writing on the Wall. For the first time in recent American literary history two political novels dealing with exactly the same subject, yet advancing two world views that couldn't be more different, are directly competing against each other. While next year's presidential race between the current front runners appears to regress into a duel between moderates and ultra-Republicans pandering to the same constituency, this dispute about foreign policy and the future of "the war on terror" held on the stage of fiction truly sets research and facts based scenarios against 'Mission Accomplished'-like pipe dreams. And while one shouldn't delude himself about this contest being already decided long before it begun in terms of sales figures, in bookstores, at least, customers are given the clear choice American voters are denied.

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Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November
The warmongering, treason, and plot,
I know of no reason why the Bush treason
Should ever be forgot.

No, this fifth of November, President Bush won't sneak into the cellars of Congress to blow the House and Senate up (why should he, with them doing his bidding like a collective Sancho Panza for a modern Don Quixote chasing windmills with cruise missiles?). There are other reasons for this fifth of November not being forgotten. When President Bush meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan on this day, not only the future of Turkey's policy towards Northern Iraq and the PKK but also the course for war with Iran will be decided on. November 5, 2007, may not culminate in a firework but carry destruction through the diplomatic backdoor and entail future conflagration of historic dimensions. Guy Fawkes heroically failed to set the British Parliament afire, but if George Bush succeeds in talking the Turkish Prime Minister into accepting a deal, he may set the whole Middle East afire.

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The Armenian Genocide resolution beyond the dumbness/evilness of George Bush

With an overwhelming 507-19 vote the Turkish parliament yesterday gave Prime Minister Erdogan carte blanche to invade Northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK insurgents that in the worst case could lead to a massive ground invasion and permanent establishment of a Turkish occupied zone in Iraq. While Turkish, American and European security analysts agree on Turkey not yet having crossed the line to dare to openly defy Washington, the explosive situation at the Turkish-Iraqi border and the waywardness of Turkey's domestic politics could lead to an escalation anytime.

The Turkish parliamentary vote also has to be seen as a deliberate response to the House Foreign Relations Committee passing a resolution officially declaring the mass murder of Armenians in 1915-17 a genocide. No one should be surprised about even such a delicate issue immediately being misappropriated in the U.S. presidential campaign and for clobbering President Bush. While the latter per se is almost always a reasonable thing to do, the for ever and ever progressive dogma of "I don't know Bush's position on this, but I condemn it," at least requires to be questioned in this particular context.

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This Lady is for turning

In response to Edward Heath's economic flip-flopping - in more demure Britain termed "U-turn" - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher coined one of her most famous phrases: "You turn [U-turn] if you want to; the Lady's not for turning". If in no other issue, in steadfastness, the first female American President in waiting ought to emulate the first female British Prime Minister. For when it comes to Iran, this (American) Lady is very much for turning.

It seems as if at least the blogsphere has cast her final verdict on Hillary flip-flopping on Iran faster than Mitt Romney on abortion, and Timothy Garton Ash wrote a fictitious op-ed in The Guardian already last year about the repercussions of a President Hillary Clinton attacking Iran in March 2009. But hold on, aren't we doing Hillary injustice? Didn't Hillary join Jim Webb in co-sponsoring an amendment that would effectively check on the president's war powers? True, but she did that just a couple of days after distinguishing herself as the only Democratic frontrunner to support the bellicose Kyl-Lieberman Amendment.

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Why Iran is no North Korea

With Iraq - as usual - casting a damp over this historic breakthrough, the Bush administration just scored their greatest diplomatic victory to date: North Korea pledged to close down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and to make its entire nuclear program public by December 31. One is tempted to detect an almost poetic justice in this war-president being denied to properly celebrate and mendaciously claim the first giant step toward a pacification of the Korean peninsula for himself by his cronies - also as usual - having turned carpetbaggers in Iraq. Yet it wouldn't be George Bush, if he were not to misuse this triumph of cautious diplomacy over dull saber rattling for beating the war drum on Iran.

On paper the North Korean deal may perfectly serve as a model of how to break the nuclear stalemate with Iran. On second thought, though, all deliberations in this direction quickly turn out to be nothing but pipe dreams. Iran is no North Korea. It may sound cliché, but the prime reason why Chris Hill doubtlessly would fail to pull off a similar stunt with Tehran as he did with Pyonyang is: oil - also as usual.

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Progressive grassroots to shape their own foreign policy III

Yesterday night we came within a whisker of the Senate de facto declaring war on Iran. If it were not for the courageous leadership of Senators Jim Webb and Dick Durbin, notorious Vice-presidential henchmen and self-appointed armchair generals Senators Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl could very likely have pulled off the stunt to commit the Senate to regime change in Iran and cater the Vice with more preemptive obedience than he could have ever asked for. With such a Congressional carte blanche, a trump to lead whenever suitable, the path to war would have been irreversibly trodden, its apologists afterwards being able to refer to full Congressional support for their warmongering.

And progressive America? Corporate media, rather debating the MoveOn.org charade or  reporting on the hot air and empty rhetoric oozed at the UN, fulfilled their role to inform the American public in an exemplary manner, our presidential hopefuls in the Senate remained as low-key as official Beijing on the peoples power displayed in the streets of Myanmar, and the standard bearers of the progressive netroots, except for a few individual bloggers and the impressive coverage at ThinkProgress and Iran Nuclear Watch, seemed to have traded activism for Sleeping Beauty-mode. What a pathetic display!

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The unmasking power of the freedom of speech and dialogue

The genuine truth in the old adage, "the pen is mightier than the sword", the cognition that the (written) word has had a greater influence on human history than warfare, coined in variations by titans of their times, such as Euripides, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, would not have required Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Caroline Glick for confirmation. Yet both, the Iranian President with his at times almost touching to watch, helpless efforts to clear himself against Columbia's unrelenting students, and the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post with her completely overdone, all-out, short of calling Columbia's President Lee Bollinger one of Hitler's "willing executioners" tirade of hate, not only asserted that proverb, but involuntarily demonstrated the unmasking power of the freedom of speech and dialogue.

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