Avoiding Another Long War

Exaggerated coverage of a dubious report by the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program has spurred a rush toward a new war in the Middle East, but ex-U.S. intelligence officials urge President Obama to resist the pressures and examine the facts.

MEMORANDUM FOR:  The President

FROM:  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT:  Avoiding Another Long War

As professionals with collectively hundreds of years of experience in intelligence, foreign policy, and counterterrorism, we are concerned about the gross misrepresentation of facts being bruited about to persuade you to start another war.

We have watched the militarists represent one Muslim country after another as major threats to U.S. security. In the past, they supported attacks on Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Afghanistan, as well as Israel’s attacks on Syria and Lebanon — nine Muslim countries – and Gaza.

This time, they are using a new IAEA report to assert categorically that Iran is building a nuclear weapon that allegedly poses a major threat to the U.S. Your intelligence and military advisors can certainly clarify what the report really says.

As you know, the IAEA makes regular inspection visits to Iran’s nuclear facilities and has TV cameras monitoring those facilities around the clock. While there is reason to question some of Iran’s actions, the situation is not as clear-cut as some allege.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former IAEA director-general, said recently, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” He is not alone: All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded “with high confidence” in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program as of 2003.

We are seeing a replay of the “Iraq WMD threat.” As Philip Zelikow, Executive Secretary of the 9/11 Commission said, “The ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The unstated threat was the threat against Israel.”

Your military and intelligence experts can also provide information on unpublicized efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program and on the futility of attempting to eliminate that program – which is dispersed and mostly underground – through aerial bombing.

Sen. Joe Lieberman

Defense Secretary [Leon] Panetta and other experts have stated that an air attack would only delay any weapons program for a year or two at most.

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan said that an air force strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid thing,” a view endorsed in principle by two other past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy. Dagan added that “Any strike against [the civilian program] is an illegal act according to international law.”

Dagan pointed out another reality: bombing Iran would lead it to retaliate against Israel through Hezbollah, which has tens of thousands of Grad-type rockets and hundreds of Scuds and other long-range missiles, and through Hamas.

We are already spending as much as the rest of the world combined on National Security and $100 billion per year on a Long War in Afghanistan. The Israel lobby has been beating the drums for us to attack Iran for years, led by people with confused loyalties like Joe Lieberman, who once made the claim that it is unpatriotic for Americans not to support Israel.

Another Long War is not in America’s or Israel’s interests, whatever Israel’s apologists claim. Those are the same people who claim that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said he would “wipe Israel off the map.” Persian specialists have pointed out that the original statement in Persian actually said that Israel would collapse: “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.”

What we have is a situation where Israel’s actions, for example in sending 300,000 settlers into the West Bank and 200,000 settlers into East Jerusalem, are compromising U.S. security by putting us at risk for terrorist retaliation.

We have provided Israel with $100 billion in direct aid since 1975. Since this is fungible, how has funding settlements contributed to our security? You agreed to provide $3 billion in F-35s to Israel in exchange for a 90-day freeze on settlements. What you got was 90 days of stonewalling on the peace process and then more settlers. What more do we owe Israel?

Certainly not a rush to war. We have time to make diplomacy and sanctions work, to persuade Russia and China to make joint cause with us.

James Madison once wrote that “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded.… War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. …No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

We are currently winding down what you labeled a “dumb war;” we should not undertake another dumb war against a country almost three times larger than Iraq, that would set off a major regional war and create generations of jihadis. Such a war, contrary to what some argue, would not make Israel or the U.S. safer.

Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Phil Giraldi, Directorate of Operations, CIA, retired 
Ray McGovern, US Army Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA, retired
Coleen Rowley, former Special Agent and Minneapolis Division Counsel, FBI
Ann Wright, Col., US Army Reserve (ret.), former Foreign Service Officer, Department of State
Tom Maertens, Foreign Service Officer and NSC Director for Non-Proliferation under two presidents

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council
David MacMichael, former history professor and CIA and National Intelligence Council analyst

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35 comments on “Avoiding Another Long War

  1. Pinchas halpern on said:

    Had you been living in Israel, hearing the madman from Tehran openly declare his intention to try to wipe Israel off the map, I guess you would have been slightly more sensitive to the IAEA’s report. Muhammad ElBaradey, Nobel Prize and all, is an open Israel hater and – to put it mildly – untrustworthy in his reports. Fact, immediately upon his leaving his post, the Agency has changed its tune and found new facts that “surprisingly” had not been found during ElBaradey’s tenure.

    • Greg Driscoll on said:

      Ah, yes – when one can’t dispute the facts, use ad hominem arguments, good for lawyers trying to win a case, but otherwise intellectually dishonest… What of Israel’s 150 – 200 nuclear weapons…

    • Hillary on said:

      “Had you been living in Israel, hearing the madman from Tehran openly declare his intention to try to wipe Israel off the map”

      Pinchas halpern on January 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      What a typical hasbara response.

      First of all the “wipe Israel off the map” reference was directed at eliminating the Right Wing zionist Israeli Regime from the political landscape , a most sensible objective shared by more Americans than ever.

      Meanwhile Iran lives under a real reign of terror 24/7 from a very public treat of a nuclear attack from Israel.

      As for the IAEA—

      According to a cable released by the Wikileaks in October 2009, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano shared with the US envoy to the agency that he would need to make some concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group] in a bid to appear “fair-minded and independent,” but that he was “solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

      Professor of Tehran University Mr. Mohammad Marandi says “Western countries dominate the board and even at the bureaucratic level, the employees for the most part they’re almost all western or affiliated to the West,” adding

      “If you look at the Wikileaks documents – he [IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano] is very much with the Americans. He has promised Americans that he’ll be working closely with them. So he’s their man in the organization and he effectively owes his job to them”.

    • Keep up the good work and soon USA will be bankrupt, isreal can not blame US of not trying.

      Guest isreal will be protected by a bankrupt state, 310 million to protect 8 million in isreal. American truely poor on math

    • Get some education , your 17th century logic does not resonate any longer . After WW2 / WMD / Ajax / …no body except few.Israeli Taliban’s & arms dealers in the west believe that.#2 Israel Saudi Arabia Jordan Egypt Kuwait are no different in their thinking as far as Iranian government goes , publicly they talk trash but in reality they like Iran the way it is . How else would they be able to suck the blood out of American tax payers “Aid” 5 billion Israel alone…..as for nukes Israel got them & they have used it to dominate the Arabs / region post forced migration from europe . Don’t forget all of this happened after christian Europe decided to expel / gas anyone & everyone that disagreed…WW2 . As for Iran’s government & it’s future Hands off we can decide for ourselves . Persians as a nation did not arrive to 21 century by luck , long before there was a America or Israel we made our contribution to man kind ….the first home the Jews ever had as a matter of fact the only home they ever had was Iran . Be b grateful , it was the Arabs & Moslems in Europe & else where that gave refuge to many Jews while the very people that you kissed up to were slaughtering them.so get a education because even Americans are finally realizing that they are being played with.

    • Do you speak Farsi?
      If not: shut up.

  2. Michael Lange on said:

    Bravo,a courageous and truthful statement of the facts.your letter should be circulated for signatures fromm the general public. Any chance this can be done.

  3. Pingback: Iowa—Middle East mentions in the Middle West – Jewish Telegraphic Agency (blog) | Financial News

  4. Hillary on said:

    “Avoiding Another Long War”

    How about — Avoiding another —- any kind of war — ?

    The goal of these wars was/is the advancement of Zionist hegemony and ridding Israel of Islamic enemies using US Taxpayers blood & treasure.

    In a sane society, neocons would have been executed for high treason for their involvement in the death and maiming of thousands of U.S. citizens under false pretenses, not to mention the trillion dollar price tag.

    Joseph Lieberman was re-elected after he promoted lies for a “war on Iraq”.

    Today U.S. neocons are busy preparing propaganda for “their” war on Iran.

    neocons used 9/11 propaganda successfully with Iraq are using it now with Iran

    Just how purposely dumbed-down and misinformed is the American public ?

    • Americans are willfully ignorant on all fronts.
      And lazy about digging out the truth. A lady called me today wanting to know what bills are being submitted at the state legislature…she thought she didn’t have time to read the 600 bills and I did.

    • They are purposely dumbed down at every stage: upto 6 years olds: addicted to Disney Channeland Barbies; 7-15: mad about Justin Beaber, lady Gaga; 16-22: fanatics about sports; grown-ups: work five days like donkeys, drink at weekends, who cares what is going on around. Intrested in current affairs? Tune to CNN, Fox News, Sky News etc and believe every word that they say. It is our way of life stupid!!

    • FU you antisemitic bitch

  5. Pingback: VIPS Memo to Obama: Avoid Another Long War « Antiwar.com Blog

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  7. javad vojdani on said:

    It is realy a true article but as one comments mentioned it is unfortunatelly goes to a deaf ear and the American people are lazy that will not search the truth.As the matter of fact Mr obama knows about the reality of Iranian nuclear program but the fact is that the American people want to work therefore a war is urgently needed in the price of millions of dead.Will the American people come to their senses?I dought as long as they watch CNN ,Fox news or read all jews newspaper in the United States.

  8. Procivic on said:

    By putting Israel first Joe Lieberman betrayed the U.S. the minute he took the oath as a senator.

  9. Pingback: Coleen Rowley> VIPS Memo to Obama: Avoid Another Long War « WAMMToday

  10. Karen Romero on said:

    Once again, I thank you Robert Parry! Thank you for putting pictures on Consortiumnews.com
    By doing so, reading your website is more like reading a newspaper. That is without all the propaganda!
    For those of you that do not know Louise Hay, she is a very wonderful human being on our planet who coined the phrase…read the information, take what sounds right to you, and discard the rest. I am of course paraphrasing her very profound and true words. What does this have to do with this article.
    Well, I will tell you readers what it has to do with this article. You will note their is a photo of Joseph Lieberman who thinks anyone who disagrees with him is antisemetic. After reading this article I decided to take the beautiful Louise Hay’s advise. I printed the article and carefully, oh so carefully excised the photo of Lieberman from the article and threw the photo in the proper recepticle.
    Happy New Year Consortium readers!

    Truly,
    Karen Romero

  11. “As you know, the IAEA makes regular inspection visits to Iran’s nuclear facilities and has TV cameras monitoring those facilities around the clock. While there is reason to question some of Iran’s actions, the situation is not as clear-cut as some allege.”
    My guess is that the Iranians would like to develop a nuclear program similar to Japan’s capabilities that would enable to divert it for military purposes in short delay should Tehran be really threatened beyond the current rhetoric coming from Washington-London-Tel Aviv axis, not to mention the given reality that Iran is geographically encircled by the US bases.

    A nuclear program just within the limits of the NPT, making it legal and which dismisses all accusations that Iran’s intention is solely designed for weapons use.

  12. The neocons would have us run scared over a nuclear Iran (despite the best intel), but we faced the USSR for decades, a far more potent foe, armed to the teeth with nukes, and with the capacity to deliver them. No war broke out. Iran, even if they had nukes, is hardly in the same league with the old USSR. Paranoia over Iran is silly. And no, Iran is not going to attack Israel unless Israel provokes it. If they do, I don’t think Obama has the courage to “make this perfectly clear” to Israel that they made their bed, now it is theirs to lie in, but he ought to do this—BEFORE something does happen. And, of course, if any of the Repubs become president after 2012 (except Ron Paul), we will surely be in yet another war. We are going the way of Rome, overextended, hollowing out our economy, and these guys are oblivious.

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  17. Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream

    by Alan M. Dershowitz
    January 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    For the first time since the end of World War II, classic anti-Semitic tropes—”the Jews” control the world and are to blame for everything that goes wrong, including the financial crisis; “The Jews killed Christian children in order to use the blood to bake Matzo; the Holocaust never happened—are becoming acceptable and legitimate subjects for academic and political discussion. To understand why these absurd and reprehensible views, once reserved for the racist fringes of academia and politics, are now moving closer to the mainstream, consider the attitudes of two men, one an academic, the other a politician, toward those who express or endorse such bigotry. The academic is Professor Brian Leiter. The politician is Ron Paul.

    You’ve probably never heard of Leiter. He’s a relatively obscure professor of jurisprudence, who is trying to elevate his profile by publishing a gossipy blog about law school professors. He is a colleague of John Mearsheimer, a prominent and world famous professor at the University of Chicago.

    Several months ago Mearsheimer enthusiastically endorsed a book, really a pamphlet, that included all the classic anti-Semitic tropes. It was entitled “The Wandering Who” and written by Gilad Atzmon, a British version of David Duke, who plays the saxophone and has no academic connections. Atzmon writes that we must take “very seriously” the claim that “the Jewish people are trying to control the world.” He calls the recent credit crunch “the Zio punch.” He says “the Holocaust narrative” doesn’t make “historical sense” and expresses doubt that Auschwitz was a death camp. He invites students to accept the “accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood.”

    Books and pamphlets of this sort are written every day by obscure anti-Semites and published by disreputable presses that specialize in this kind of garbage. No one ever takes notice, except for neo-Nazis around the world who welcome any additions to the literature of hate.

    What is remarkable about the publication of this hateful piece of anti-Semitic trash, is that it was enthusiastically endorsed by two prominent American professors, John Mearsheimer and Richard Falk, who urged readers, including students, to read, “reflect upon” and “discuss widely” the themes of Atzmon’s book. Never before has any such book received the imprimatur of such established academics.

    I was not shocked by these endorsements, because I knew that both of these academics had previously crossed “red lines,” separating legitimate criticism of Israel from subtle anti-Semitism. Mearsheimer has accused American Jews of dual loyalty, and Falk has repeatedly compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Both were so enthusiastic about Atzmon’s anti-Zionism—he has written that Israel is “worse” than the Nazis—that they were prepared to give him a pass on his classic “blood libel” anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. No great surprise there.

    What was surprising—indeed shocking—was the fact that Mearsheimer’s relatively apolitical colleague, Brian Leiter, rushed to Mearsheimer’s defense. Without bothering even to read Atzmon’s book, Leiter pronounced that Atzmon’s “positions [do not mark him] as an anti-Semite [but rather as] cosmopolitan.” Leiter also certified that Atzmon “does not deny the Holocaust or the gas chambers.” Had Leiter read the book, he could not have made either statement.

    Atzmon himself credits “a man who…was an anti-Semite” for “many of [his] insights” and calls himself a “self-hating Jew” who has contempt for “the Jew in me.” If that’s not an admission of anti-Semitism, rather than “cosmopolitanism,” I don’t know what is. As far as the Holocaust is concerned, Atzmon asserts that it is not “an historical narrative.” And as to the gas chambers, he doubts that the “Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Berkanau.”

    Leiter went so far as to condemn those who dared to criticize Mearsheimer for endorsing Atzmon’s book, calling their criticism “hysterical” and not “advance[ing] honest intellectual discourse.” And he defended Mearsheimer’s endorsement as “straight forward.”

    The Brian Leiters of the world are an important part of the reason why anti-Semitic tropes are creeping back to legitimacy in academia. His knee-jerk defense of an admitted Jew hater—who, according to Leiter is not a despicable anti-Semite but an acceptable “cosmopolitan”—contributes to the legitimization of anti-Semitism.

    The same can be said of Ron Paul, who everyone has heard of. Paul has, according to The New York Times, refused to “disavow” the “support” of “white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy.” (These “anti-Zionists” believe that “Zionists”—Jews—control the world, were responsible for the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building, and caused the economic downturn, because “most of the leaders involved in the federal and international banking system are Jews.”) He allowed his “Ron Paul survival report” to espouse David Duke type racism and anti-Semitism for years during the 1990s, claiming he was unaware that they were being promoted under his name. Edward H. Crane, the founder of the libertarian CATO Institute, has said, “I wish Ron would condemn those fringe things that float around” his campaign, but he refuses to reject the support of these anti-Semites who form a significant part of his base. The New York Times has criticized Paul for his failure to “convincingly repudiate racist remarks that were published under his name for years—or the enthusiastic support he is getting from racist groups,” including those that espouse “anti-Semitism and far right paranoia.”

    Even now, Paul continues to accept contributions from Holocaust deniers, from those who blame the Jews for everything and from other bigots, thus lending some degree of legitimacy to their hateful views.

    When Nazi anti-Semitism began to achieve mainstream legitimacy in Germany and Austria in the 1930′s, it was not because Hitler, Goebbels and Goering were espousing it. Their repulsive views had been known for years. It was because non Nazis—especially prominent academics, politicians and artists—were refusing to condemn anti-Semitism and those who espoused it.

    It has been said that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Leiter and Paul may or may not be good men, but they are guilty of more than merely doing nothing. They are, by their actions, helping to legitimate the oldest of bigotries. Shame on them!