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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


hersh on the sea change in american foreign policy

like the bourbons, we learn nothing and forget nothing. seymour hersh's insight is singularly devastating.

read the whole thing -- the saudi viewpoints are particularly interesting -- but as far as the americans go -- short version:

the bush administration has decided at the highest level -- bush and cheney -- to abandon (at least for now) its fight against sunni radical groups -- like al-qaeda and the sunni insurgents in iraq -- in an effort to mitigate the rise of iranian/shia power, which is seen as the most terrible (and amazingly unintended) consequence of the invasion of iraq.

it has managed to build a coalition of itself, israel and saudi arabia -- both of which view iran as an existential threat. the three have agreed on four points: 1) the security of israel is primary; 2) the saudis would pressure hamas to make peace with fatah and israel; 3) the americans would work directly with sunni governments against shi'ite power; 4) the saudis would help finance american and israeli actions aimed at regime change in syria, both in lebanon and syria itself.

the saudis are financing a secret war using american and israeli covert forces within both iran and lebanon, using special forces, intelligence services and also -- amazingly -- direct financing and arming of sunni salafist radicals with ties to al-qaeda, operating in both countries. this includes factions of the muslim brotherhood.

moreover, the three have drawn plans to strike at iran militarily, with the capability to execute by early spring.

several intelligence, military and diplomatic sources in the article compare the conditions to the american financing of the sunni radicals of the mujahedeen in afghanistan.

but much more disturbing is the financing aspect, which draws profound comparisons to iran-contra. in what is probably the most depressing part of the whole thing for an american, toward the end hersh outlines how the presidency has become capable of circumventing the congressional power of the purse by using foreign client states (like saudi arabia) to finance clandestine wars -- therefore removing any congressional oversight whatsoever of foreign policy, as well as any need to seek american public approval or even to inform the american public at all. the cia is being intentionally kept out of these military operations because of their legal requirement -- established post-iran-contra -- to disclose to congress.

not only that -- but that the billions in "missing" funds in iraq are not missing -- nor have they necessarily been stolen by iraqis -- they have been used to finance american clandestine operations in the mideast and elsewhere.

the resignation of john negroponte from the nsc last year is specifically tied to his uneasiness over this aspect of cheney's management of foreign policy. negroponte was involved in iran-contra.

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