Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Obama and Gaza

This is what Obama wrote about the Israeli wall break in Egypt to the Ambassador:

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condenm the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

This is what I wrote to Obama:

Senator Obama,

I have supported you for some time well before your meteoric rise to the public eye. After embracing your stance on reducing nuclear weapons proliferation (including the US and other countries that have been previously exempt) and your ideas on peaceful resolution to conflicts, I was disappointed to read the letter you wrote to Ambassador Khalilzad. Although I too condemn the violence committed against Israel, I cannot believe that you would choose to ignore the greater humanitarian crisis in Gaza. No matter what the acting government has committed or sanctioned, an entire people cannot and should not be contained arbitrarily within a cage. I would have thought a candidate of your persuasion would have long ago decried the escalation tactics used both by Palestine and Israel, and like Reagan, condemned the walls that separate them.

How can you as a Christian condone walling up people and allowing no access from the outside? How can you as a humanitarian allow people to be treated like a herd of cattle? How can you as a candidate for the United States reject the principle of unlawful imprisonment in Guantanamo and accept this imprisonment? Is it really any surprise that the wall is coming down by brute force? What alternative do the people of Gaza have?

As a front runner for the president, I ask that you publically deplore this situation and demand that Israel allows some level of freedom in and out of the Gaza strip. Surely, that is more "common sense" than what you have proposed to the ambassador. And I think it would be a better way to display your "concern" for "Palestinian families."


Joshua Hester
Concerned U.S. Citizen

Whether you agree with me or not, please write to Senator Obama if you have a chance.

Thanks for being involved. Pass this onto anyone who is remotely interested.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Democrats or Republicans, neither is interested in establishing a lasting peace in Iraq.

From Keith Olbermann yesterday :

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning... is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult... hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”

That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.
Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening?
See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

  • Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats... have failed us.
    They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
  • Mr. Bush and his government... have failed us.
    They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
    That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
    We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq...
The people have been ahead of the media....
Ahead of the government...
Ahead of the politicians...
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics... is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Letter to the President

Dear President Bush:

As a proud citizen of the United States of America and humble follower of Jesus Christ, I ask, in your capacity as chief executive of the federal government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, that you close Camp Delta and Camp Echo in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prosecute all offenders to the fullest extent of our civil law, and negotiate releases for all detainees who cannot be so charged. All international citizens remaining uncharged or innocent should be re-integrated into their country of origin or if not, returned to their country of capture.

As another Republican war leader once appealed to his country, I, too, wish to address “the better angels of our nature.” For Jesus said, “[W]hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40) As Christians, we are led by example to feed the hungry, offer drink to the thirsty, give clothes to the stranger and visit those sick and in prison. As a citizen and believer, I cannot understand the need for detainment facilities operating outside of the United States and its laws, nor the meaning behind violating the rights of these detainees protected by both the United States and its allies.

As you have so often asserted, “We're a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws.” We ask other countries to define democracy by the standards we set. We laud our system of check and balances, habeas corpus, and freedom of speech. We demonstrate our distaste for tyranny, no matter where it is found in the world. For in these beliefs, we echo the soul of our ancestors:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Despite these ideals, we detain at least four hundred people in Cuba, including sixty who were captured as children. Of these detainees, over two hundred may never face a trial, held indefinitely without charge. At least 38 prisoners are held by the CIA as “ghost detainees” and many covert intelligence camps exist throughout the world, outside of our justice system. This does not include the detainment camps in Iraq where countless Sunnis and Shiites have been tortured and killed at the hands of militias whose funds and weapons we supply.

In over five years, only one detainee has ever been convicted. Entering a plea agreement, Australian David Hicks received only a nine-month sentence. Unlike Australia, many countries who once clamored for release of their citizens now refuse to accept them back. No doubt the world fears that if these people were not terrorists before, they have now become so. The CIA has confirmed this reality.

We all must agree that the need for security is great, but surely, the part is not greater than the whole. As the events of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 have proven, the spirit of the United States cannot be crushed by tragedy. The spirit of the United States is defined by the defense of liberty and justice, not by the avoidance of these ideals. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” You have echoed the same sentiment:

The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.

Although our past may be riddled with low points, we are a country held to high aspirations. Through our missteps and scandals, we remain and should continue to remain committed to a global community united in peace. The undefined detainment of suspects does not hold the world to an example we wish them to follow. When we imprison without domestic or global jurisprudence, how can we emphasize law and order? When we claim that international law does not apply, how can we condemn the isolation and arrogance of other nations? The moral justification seems hypocritical and disingenuous.

As a supporter of the Civil Rights movement, I am sure you will remember the civil disobedience model implemented by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Incarcerated for twelve days, he wrote the famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, where he justified the movement as a struggle of “moral law or the law of God” over what is “morally wrong and awful.” His example followed that of Mahatma Gandhi, whose fasting in prison both broke the back of oppression and calmed the angry spirit of his people. They were neither the first, nor surely the last that we should honor and respect as defenders of freedom and justice.

When I read of the hunger strikes in Guantanamo Bay, I was dismayed at how soon this history is forgotten. We answered their refusal to eat, not with the dignity every individual deserves, but with feeding tubes forced down their throats. Some tubes went so deep as to draw blood and puncture lungs. General Bantz Craddock even joked that at least hunger strikers got to choose the color of their feeding tube and the flavor of lozenge. Stripped of all rights as citizens or lawful enemy combatants, we extend the travesty further and deny them to be human beings.

As a member of the community of life, I know you must appreciate the value of life no matter how seemingly insignificant. Life cannot be curtailed or made forfeit by a whim, but only under due process of the law. Having overthrown the yoke of British oppression, our Founders intended the Bill of Rights as a safeguard against oppression, by protecting individuals from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and ensuring that those arrested are “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” Without lawful trials and just treatment of our enemies, how can our system of justice overcome the wanton violence of terrorism? If we define terrorism as unjust violence against innocent individuals, then should we not determine each detainee’s guilt or risk becoming terrorists ourselves?

For what claims can we make for freedom and justice if Guantanamo Bay remains as a log in our eye? If we are to combat terrorism and injustice, we must do so with the spirit and breadth of our laws or risk the legacy we leave to coming generations. It is when we are most desperate that we do the most astounding and terrible things. A breeding ground that generates desperation can only engender separation and hostility. If we are to fight against lawlessness, then should we not do it with the full force of the law? If we do not protect the rights of all people, there will be no difference between the innocent and the guilty. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

I ask that you, as a man of faith and endowed with great power, will shut down the bases in Guantanamo Bay, and the extralegal system associated with them, to demonstrate to your people and the rest of world the ideals upon which our country is founded. This powerful gesture would echo in the halls of history for generations to come, and you would remain a leader of freedom and justice in troubled times.



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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another World is Possible

The Peace Surge in Washington

“I have talked to those in power, of both parties. I tell them there is another way to achieve global security. Not through hatred and war, but through love and compassion.”

“Do you know what they say?”

“Be realistic, Michael.”

“Do you know what I say?”

“Screw realism!”

Although Rabbi Michael Lerner’s words lacked the eloquence of the UCC Justice and Peace slogan (“Imagine – Another world is possible”), they hushed the hundreds in the Lutheran Church of the Reformation and left us gaping at their simplicity and sincerity. After a Buddhist meditation from Bhante Suhita Dharma and the rousing processional Siyahamba (“We are marching in the light of God”), Rabbi Lerner’s sermon lifted us beyond that day and challenged us to transform the world. After all, do we not believe in a God of transformation, that through God anything is possible?

On the heels of that epiphany, we were to turn to someone we did not know and answer the following:

“What experience or image or text has made you believe that a world of love and generosity is possible?”

Yes, I cheated and looked ahead in the leaflet, breaking that unwritten rule of worship. Even so, I could not find an answer. All that came to mind were visions of hatred: ecstatic Janjaweed pursuing Darfurian women and children as they attempted to draw water, the smoldering remains of a once-bustling Baghdad market after an IED explosion, the nude bodies of tortured detainees piled like trash in Abu Ghraib, and the wild eyes of a kidnapped contractor as harsh, indiscernible voices barked commands. When the moment came, I could do nothing, but turn to my left and exclaim there has to be a better way to treat each other.

* * *

On the same weekend that Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a Des Moines high school with no mention of the Iraq War and Republican Senator from Virginia John Warner admitted guilt for allowing a troop surge in Vietnam, over half a million protestors rallied on the Washington Mall. As the Capital Police corralled us to the sidewalks and helicopters circled overhead, we were shouting, “This is what democracy looks like!” Considering the diversity of people assembled, this chant was especially apt.

There were gray-haired bongo drummers haunted by Vietnam ghosts and street entrepreneurs selling “Washington Peace March” shirts (where the date seemed conspicuously scrawled as if by magic marker). There were college students affiliated with the College Democrats, Democratic Society and Communist Youth Movement alongside US Army veterans, some having served in Iraq and at least one in active duty. There were Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Quakers, Presbyterians and of course Congregationalists. There were women from Code Pink screaming “Pull out!” and worker union chapters passing out “Impeach Bush” cards. There were teachers and children with signs reading “Less war; more education” and an angry Red Hat Society, some wheel-bound while others used canes. There were people carrying hastily scrawled messages on simple cardboard signs and one group with an elaborate white fabric structure in the shape of spine that read “Congress, get a backbone!” There were peace insignias and “Department of Peace” posters as well as signs that read “New Orleans, our Baghdad.” There were rally speakers of all kinds, from famous actors to legislators, from religious leaders to grass-root organizers.

I waited for over an hour to move five feet as we surged in both directions toward the capital. It took another half an hour before I could discern where the street was, feeling lost in the hundreds of thousands of bodies. It was at that moment that I realized the root of the despair and loneliness that brought me here. When I was alone, I felt insignificant. But when united with others, we seemed able to overcome anything. We were members in the Body of Christ that day. We were Church.

As if to punctuate the realization, I joined my voice as a large group belted out “This little light of mine.”

For more information on the Georgia Peace Movement in Atlanta, visit

For more information on UCC Social Justice, visit

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Good for them

Law students left in protest at recent Attourney general talk

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's lies, it's lies and it's more lies!

The Countdown to War with Iran 
by Mike Whitney,
January 15, 2006

Iran must defend itself if it is attacked by the United States or Israel.

Defending one’s country against unprovoked aggression is sanctioned under international law and is a requirement of true leadership. We would expect no different if either the United States or Israel was attacked.
The Sharon and Bush administrations have done an admirable job of poisoning public opinion against Iran, interpreting President Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel and the Holocaust as a potential danger to Israel’s welfare. But such statements, however offensive, are commonplace in the Middle East and cannot be construed as a credible threat.
In fact, Iran has not demonstrated any territorial ambitions nor is it involved in the occupation of any foreign country as is true of both the United States and Israel.


More Lies About Iran 
by Mike Whitney,
January 15, 2006

There’s been a lot of rubbish written about Iran’s “removing the seals” from its uranium enrichment equipment.

The fearmongering Western media have exploited the expression for all it’s worth. Even those who are normally skeptical of the Bush propaganda machine are taken aback by this ominous sounding phrase.

What gibberish!

How else does one make nuclear fuel for electric power plants if the fuel-producing mechanism is under lock and key?

The fear-engendering description provided in the news would have the reader believe that “diabolical” Iranians are ripping off the seals with crowbars so they can quickly assemble their secret nuclear stockpile to bomb Tel Aviv.

This is the worse type of demagoguery.

The fuel that is produced from these uranium enrichment reactors DOES NOT PRODUCE WEAPONS-GRADE MATERIAL. That requires thousands of centrifuges which Iran does not have.


Iran should not be attacked because such an act would be based on lies, lies, lies...

What's your reason Iran shouldn't be attacked? Join and tell us.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I'm sure there's no reason to worry...

US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?

Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Published on Saturday, December 31, 2005 by Der Spiegel
It's hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006.

German diplomats began speaking of the prospect two years ago -- long before the Bush administration decided to give the European Union more time to convince Iran to abandon its ambitions, or at the very least put its civilian nuclear program under international controls. But the growing likelihood of the military option is back in the headlines in Germany thanks to a slew of stories that have run in the national media here over the holidays.

The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.

According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

DDP also reported that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed in recent weeks of Washington's military plans. The countries, apparently, were told that air strikes were a "possible option," but they were given no specific timeframe for the operations.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel also cited NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington's western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Of course, Bush has publicly stated for months that he would not take the possibility of a military strike off the table. What's new here, however, is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.

Links to al-Qaida?

According to DDP, during his trip to Turkey, CIA chief Goss reportedly handed over three dossiers to Turkish security officials that purportedly contained evidence that Tehran is cooperating with Islamic terror network al-Qaida. A further dossier is said to contain information about the current status of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Sources in German security circles told the DDP reporter that Goss had ensured Ankara that the Turkish government would be informed of any possible air strikes against Iran a few hours before they happened. The Turkish government has also been given the "green light" to strike camps of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iran on the day in question.

The DDP report attributes the possible escalation to the recent anti-Semitic rants by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose belligerent verbal attacks on Israel (he described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map") have strengthened the view of the American government that, in the case of the nuclear dispute, there's little likelihood Tehran will back down and that the mullahs are just attempting to buy time by continuing talks with the Europeans.

The German wire service also quotes a high-ranking German military official saying: "I would be very surprised if the Americans, in the mid-term, didn't take advantage of the opportunity delivered by Tehran. The Americans have to attack Iran before the country can develop nuclear weapons. After that would be too late."

Despite the wave of recent reports, it's naturally difficult to assess whether the United States has any concrete plans to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. In a January 2005 report in the New Yorker, US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that clandestine American commando groups had already infiltrated Iran in order to mark potential military targets.

At the time, the Bush administration did not dispute Hersh's reporting -- it merely sought to minimize its impact. In Washington, word circulated that the article was filled with "inaccurate statements." But no one rejected the core reporting behind the article. Bush himself explicitly stated he would not rule out the "option of war."

How great is the threat?

So is the region now on the verge of a military strike or even a war? In Berlin, the issue is largely being played down. During his inaugural visit with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington last week, the possibility of a US air strike against Iran "hadn't been an issue," for new German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, a Defense Ministry spokesman told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

But the string of visits by high-profile US politicians to Turkey and surrounding reports are drawing new attention to the issue. In recent weeks, the number of American and NATO security officials heading to Ankara has increased dramatically. Within a matter of only days, the FBI chief, then the CIA chief and, most recently, NATO General Secretary Jaap De Hoop Scheffer visited the Turkish capital. During her visit to Europe earlier this month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also traveled to Turkey after a stopover in Berlin.

Leading the chorus of speculation are Turkish newspapers, which have also sought to connect these visits to plans for an attack on Iran. But so far none of the speculation has been based on hard facts. Writing about the meeting between Porter Goss and Tayyip Erdogan, the left-nationalist newspaper Cumhuriyet wrote: "Now It's Iran's Turn." But the paper didn't offer any evidence to corroborate the claims.

Instead, the paper noted that the meeting between the CIA chief and Erdogan lasted longer than an hour -- an unusual amount of time, especially considering Goss had previously met with the head of Turkey's intelligence service, the MIT. The Turkish media concluded that the meetings must have dealt with a very serious matter -- but they failed to uncover exactly what it was. Most media speculated that Erdogan and Goss might have discussed a common initiative against the PKK in northern Iraq. It's possible that Goss demanded secret Turkish intelligence on Iran in exchange. Regardless what the prospects are for a strike, there's little chance a US air strike against Iran would be launched from its military base in the Turkish city of Incirlik, but it is conceivable that the United States would inform Turkey prior to any strike.

Skepticism in Ankara

Until now the government in Ankara has viewed US military activities in the region at best with skepticism and at worst with open condemnation. At the beginning of 2003, Ankara even attempted to prevent an American ground offensive in northern Iraq against the Saddam regime. A still-irritated Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly blamed military problems in Iraq on the fact that this second front was missing.

Two weeks ago, Yasar Buyukanit, the commander of the Turkish army and probable future chief of staff of the country's armed forces, flew to Washington. After the visit he made a statement that relations between the Turkish army and the American army were once again on an excellent footing. Buyukanit's warm and fuzzy words, contrasted greatly with his past statements that if the United States and the Kurds in northern Iraq proved incapable of containing the PKK in the Kurd-dominated northern part of the country and preventing it from attacking Turkey, Buyukanit would march into northern Iraq himself.

At the same time, Ankara has little incentive to show a friendly face to Tehran -- Turkish-Iranian relations have long been icy. For years now, Tehran has criticized Turkey for maintaining good relations with Israel and even cooperating with the Israeli army. Yet despite those ties to Israel, Ahmadinejad's recent anti-Israeli outbursts were reported far less extensively in Turkey than in Europe.

Still, Erdogan has been demonstrably friendly towards Israel recently -- as evidenced by Erdogan's recent phone call to Ariel Sharon, congratulating the prime minister on his recent recovery from heart surgery. In the past, relations between Erdogan and Sharon have been reserved, but recently the two have grown closer. Nevertheless, Turkey's government has distanced itself from Sharon's threats to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon on his own if nobody else steps up to the task.

The Turkish government has also repeatedly stated that it opposes military action against both Iran and Syria. The key political motivation here is that -- at least when it comes to the Kurdish question -- Turkey, Syria and Iran all agree on one thing: they are opposed to the creation of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. But if the United States moves forward with an attack against Iran, Turkey will have no choice but to jump on board -- either as an active or passive partner.

It's a scenario that has Erdogan and his military in a state of deep unease. After all, even experts in the West are skeptical of whether a military intervention against nuclear installations in Iran could succeed. The more likely scenario is that an attack aiming to stop Iran's nuclear program could instead simply bolster support for Ahmadinejad in the region.

© 2005 Der Spiegel


Why should we not attack Iran?
Because it's utterly wrong.

Join so_many_reasons and give your reason why we should not attack Iran.