Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Obama in Tehran?

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which the United States is a regional power, not a superpower.  A world in which the globe’s mightiest nation, China, invades Mexico and Canada, deposing the leaders of both countries.  A world in which China has also ringed the Americas, from Canada to Central America, with military bases.  A world in which Chinese officials openly brag about conducting covert operations against and within the United States.  A world in which the Chinese launch a sophisticated and crippling cyber attack on America’s nuclear facilities.  A world in which the Chinese send spy drones soaring over the United States and position aircraft carrier battle groups off its shores.  What would Americans think?  How would Washington react?  Perhaps something like Iran’s theocratic leadership today.  After all, Iran has seen the United States invade its neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan, announcecovert operations against itsurround it with military bases, fly drones over it, carry out naval operations off its coast, conduct a gigantic build-up of military forces all around it, and launch acyberwar against it.
Imagine again, in this alternate universe, that China forged military alliances throughout the Americas, pulling Mexico and Canada, as well as Caribbean and Central American nations into its orbit.  Imagine that it started selling advanced military technology to those countries.  How might the U.S. government and its citizens respond? 
It’s a question worth pondering given Washington’s recent actions.  Last month, for instance, the U.S. quietly announced plans to further flood the Middle East with advanced weaponry. According to November notices sent by the Pentagon to Congress, the Department of Defense intends to oversee a $300 million deal with Saudi Arabia for spare parts for Abrams Tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Humvees, and another for $6.7 billion in new advanced aircraft.  Add to this a proposed sale of $9.9 billion in Patriot missiles to Qatar, a $96 million deal with Oman for hundreds of Javelin guided missiles, and more than $1.1 billion in Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles for the United Arab Emirates.  And this was on top of deals struck earlier in the year that include a $63 million sale of Huey II helicopters to Lebanon, $4.2 billion in Patriot missiles for Kuwait, a $3 billion agreement to arm Qatar with advanced Apache attack helicopters, more than $1 billion in upgrades for Abrams tanks belonging to Morocco’s military, and the sale of $428 million worth of radar equipment and tactical vehicles to Iraq.
All this is worth keeping in mind while reading the latest assessment of U.S.-Iranian relations by that peripatetic reporter extraordinaire and TomDispatch regular Pepe Escobar who conjures up a very different alternate reality in which President Obama morphs into President Richard Nixon heading for Beijing, and Washington acts far less bellicose. Nick Turse
Mr. President, Tear Down This Wall 
Washington’s Iranian Future 
By Pepe Escobar
In Election 2012’s theatre-of-the-absurd “foreign policy” debate, Iran came up no less than 47 times. Despite all the fear, loathing, threats, and lies in that billionaire’s circus of a campaign season, Americans were nonetheless offered virtually nothing substantial about Iran, although its (non-existent) WMDs were relentlessly hawked as the top U.S. national security issue. (The world was, however, astonished to learn from candidate Romney that Syria, not the Persian Gulf, was that country’s “route to the sea.”)
Now, with the campaign Sturm und Drang behind us but the threats still around, the question is: Can Obama 2.0 bridge the gap between current U.S. policy (we don't want war, but there will be war if you try to build a bomb) and Persian optics (we don't want a bomb -- the Supreme Leader said so -- and we want a deal, but only if you grant us some measure of respect)? Don’t forget that a soon-to-be-reelected President Obama signaled in October the tiniest of possible openings toward reconciliation while talking about the “pressure” he was applying to that country, when he spoke of “our policy of... potentiallyhaving bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program.”
Tehran won’t, of course, “end” its (legal) nuclear program.  As for that “potentially,” it should be a graphic reminder of how the establishment in Washington loathes even the possibility of bilateral negotiations.

Mr. President, Tear Down This Wall
Let’s start with the obvious but important: on entering the Oval Office in January 2009, President Obama inherited a seemingly impregnable three-decade-long “Wall of Mistrust” in Iran-U.S. relations. To his credit, that March he directly addressed all Iranians in a message for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, calling for an “engagement that is honed and grounded in mutual respect.” He even quoted the thirteenth century Persian poet Sa’adi: “The children of Adam are limbs of one body, which God created from one essence.”
And yet, from the start he was crippled by a set of Washington misconceptions as old as that wall, and by a bipartisan consensus for an aggressive strategy toward Iran that emerged in the George W. Bush years when Congress ponied up $400 million for a set of “covert operations” meant to destabilize that country, including cross-border operations by special forces teams. All of this was already based on the dangers of “the Iranian bomb.”
A September 2008 report by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, was typical in assuming a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran as a fact.  It was drafted by Michael Rubin from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, the same AEI that had unashamedly promoted the disastrous 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Several future Obama advisers “unanimously approved” the report, including Dennis Ross, former senator Charles Robb, future Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Anthony Lake, future U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, and Richard Clarke. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate by all U.S. intelligence agencies stating that Iran had ended any nuclear weapons program in 2003 was bluntly dismissed.
Mirroring the Bush administration’s “all options are on the table” approach (including cyberwar), the report proposed -- what else? -- a military surge in the Persian Gulf, targeting “not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response.” In fact, such a surge would indeed begin before George W. Bush left office and only increase in scope in the Obama years.
The crucial point is this: as tens of millions of U.S. voters were choosing Barack Obama in 2008, in part because he was promising to end the war in Iraq, a powerful cross-section of Washington elites was drafting an aggressive blueprint for a future U.S. strategy in the region that stretched from North Africa to Central Asia and that the Pentagon was then still calling the “arc of instability.” And the key plank in this strategy was a program to create the conditions for a military strike against Iran.
With an Obama 2.0 administration soon to be in place, the time to solve the immensely complex Iranian nuclear drama is now. But as Columbia University’s Gary Sick, a key White House adviser on Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the Tehran hostage crisis of 1979-1981, has suggested, nothing will be accomplished if Washington does not start thinking beyond its ever-toughening sanctions program, now practically set in stone as “politically untouchable.”
Sick has proposed a sound path, which means that it has no hope of being adopted in Washington.  It would involve private bilateral discussions by credible negotiators for both sides based on a mutually agreed-upon agenda. These would be followed by full-blown negotiations under the existing P5+1 framework (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain -- plus Germany).
Considering the frantic post-2009 seesawing of sanctions, threats, cyber attacksmilitary surges, and colossal mutual incomprehension, no one in his right mind would expect a pattern of “mutual respect” to emerge easily out of Washington’s “dual track” approach.
It took Ambassador Hossein Mousavian, research scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and spokesperson for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005, to finally explain it all last August in a single sentence: "The history of Iran's nuclear program suggests that the West is inadvertently pushing Iran toward nuclear weapons." Chas Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, agrees,suggesting in a recent speech that Iran now “seems to be reenacting Israel’s clandestine weapons development program of five decades ago, developing capabilities to build and deliver nuclear weapons while denying that it intends actually to do any such thing.”
What makes these developments even more absurd is that a solution to all this madness exists.  As I’ve written elsewhere, to satisfy the concerns of the West regarding Iran's 20% stockpile of enriched uranium,
“a mutually acceptable solution for the long term would entail a ‘zero stockpile.’ Under this approach, a joint committee of the P5+1 and Iran would quantify the domestic needs of Iran for use of 20% enriched uranium, and any quantity beyond that amount would be sold in the international market or immediately converted back to an enrichment level of 3.5%. This would ensure that Iran does not possess excess 20% enriched uranium forever, satisfying the international concerns that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. It would be a face-saving solution for all parties as it would recognize Iran's right to enrichment and would help to negate concerns that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.”
Time to Hit the New Silk Road(s)
The current U.S. strategy is not exactly a raging success.  Economist Djavad Salehi-Esfahani has explained how Tehran’s theocratic rulers continue to successfully manage the worst effects of the sanctions and a national currency in free fall by using the country’s immense oil and natural gas wealth to subsidize essential imports.  Which brings us to the bedrock question of this -- or possibly any other -- moment: Will Obama 2.0 finally admit that Washington doesn’t need regime change in Tehran to improve its relationship with that country?
Only with such an admission (to itself, if not the world) are real negotiations leading to a Wall of Mistrust-blasting deal possible.  This would undoubtedly include a genuine d├ętente, an acceptance of Iran’s lawful pursuit of a peaceful nuclear program, guarantees that the result would not be a covert weapons project, and a turning away from the possibility of a devastating war in the Persian Gulf and the oil heartlands of the Greater Middle East.  
Theoretically, it could also include something else: an Obama “Nixon in China” moment, a dramatic journey or gesture by the U.S. president to decisively break the deadlock.  Yet as long as a barrage of furiously misinformed anti-Iran hawks in Washington, in lockstep with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government, deploy a relentless PR offensiveburning with incendiary rhetoric, “red lines,” deadlines, and preemptive sabotage of the P5+1 negotiations, such a moment, such a gesture, will remain the faintest of dreams.
And even such an elusive “Obama in Tehran” moment would hardly be the end of the story.  It would be more like a salutary twist in the big picture. To understand why, you need to grasp just how crucial Iran’s geopolitical positioning is.  After all, in energy and other terms that country is the ultimate crossroads of Eurasia, and so the pivot of the world.  Strategically, it straddles the supply lines for a sizeable part of the globe’s oil and gas reserves and is a privileged hub for the distribution of energy to South Asia, Europe, and East Asia at a moment when both China and India are emerging as potential great powers of the twenty-first century.
The urge to control that reality lies at the heart of Washington’s policy in the region, not an Iranian “threat” that pales as soon as the defense spending of the two countries is compared.  After all, the U.S. spends nearly a $1 trillion on “defense” annually; Iran, a maximum of $12 billion -- less, that is, than the United Arab Emirates, and only 20% of the total defense expenditures of the six Persian Gulf monarchies grouped in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Moreover, the Iranian nuclear “threat” would disappear for good if Obama 2.0 ever decided to push for making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. Iran and the GCC have endorsed the idea in the past. Israel -- a de facto (if never officially acknowledged) nuclear power with an arsenal of up to 300 warheads-- has rejected it.
Yet the big picture goes way beyond the strategic gaming of the U.S. and Israel about Iran’s possible future arsenal. Its position at the ultimate Southwest Asian strategic crossroads will determine much about the future New Great Game in Eurasia -- especially whose version of a modern Silk Road will prevail on the great energy chessboard I call Pipelineistan.
I’ve argued for years that all these intertwined developments must be analyzed together, including Washington’s announced Asian military “pivot” (aka “rebalancing”).  That strategy, unveiled in early 2012 by President Obama, was supposed to refocus Washington’s attention away from its two disastrous wars in the Greater Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region with a special focus on containing China. Once again, Iran happens to lie right at the heart of that new policy, given how much of its oil and natural gas heads east to China over waters patrolled by the U.S. Navy.
In other words, it hardly matters that Iran is a rickety regional power run by aging theocrats with an only modestly impressive military.  The relationship between Obama 2.0 and Iran is guaranteed to involve the nuclear question, but also (whether acknowledged or not) the global flow of energy across Pipelineistan, and Washington’s future relations with China and the rest of Asia. It will also involve Beijing’s concerted movements to prop up the yuan in relation to the dollar and, at the same time, accelerate the death of the petrodollar.  Finally, behind all of the above lies the question of who will dominate Eurasia’s twenty-first century energy version of the old Silk Road.
At the 2012 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in Tehran, India, Iran, and Afghanistan pushed for the creation of what might be called a new southern Silk Road -- really a network of roads, railways, and major ports that would connect Iran and its energy wealth ever more closely to Central and South Asia. For Delhi (as for Beijing), getting closer to both Afghanistan and especially Iran is considered crucial to its Eurasian strategy, no matter how much Washington may disapprove.
India is betting on the port of Chabahar in Iran, China on the port of Gwadar in Pakistan (and of course a gas pipeline from there to Iran) as key transshipment hubs linking Central Asia and the Gulf. Both ports will be key pawns inPipelineistan’s New Great Game, which is quickly slipping from Washington’s control.  In both cases, despite its drive to isolate Iran, there is little the Obama administration can do to prevent these and other instances of closer Eurasian integration.
Washington’s grand strategy for a “Greater Central Asia” under its control once centered on Afghanistan and India.  Its disastrous Afghan War has, however, blown a hole through its plans; so, too, has its obsession with creating energy routes that bypass Iran (and Russia), which looks increasingly irrational to much of the rest of Eurasia.  The only version of a Silk Road that the Obama administration has been able to devise has been war-related: theNorthern Distribution Network, a logistical marathon of routes crisscrossing Central Asia for bringing military supplies into Afghanistan without relying fully on an increasingly unreliable Pakistan.
Needless to say, in the long term, Moscow will do anything to prevent a U.S./NATO presence in Central Asia. As with Moscow, so with Beijing, which regards Central Asia as a strategic rearguard area when it comes to its energy supply and a place for economic expansion as well.  The two will coordinate their policies aimed at leaving Washington in the lurch through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. That’s also how Beijing plans to channel its solution for eternally war-torn Afghanistan and so secure its long-term investments in mineral and energy exploitation. Ultimately, both Russia and China want post-2014 Afghanistan to be stabilized by the United Nations.
The ancient Silk Road was humanity’s first globalization highway centered on trade.  Now, China in particular is pushing for its own ambitious version of a new Silk Road focused on tapping into energy -- oil and natural gas -- from Myanmar to Iran and Russia.  It would, in the end, link no less than 17 countries via more than 8,000 kilometers of high-speed rail (on top of the 8,000 kilometers already built inside China). For Washington, this means one thing: an evolving Tehran-Beijing axis bent on ensuring that the U.S. strategic target of isolating Iran and forcing regime change on that country will be ever just out of reach.   
Obama in Tehran?
So what remains of the initial Obama drive to reach out to Iran with an “engagement that is honed and grounded in mutual respect”? Not much, it seems.
Blame it -- once again -- on the Pentagon, for which Iran will remain a number one “threat,” a necessary enemy.  Blame it on a bipartisan elite in Washington, supported by ranks of pundits and think tanks, who won’t let go of enmity against Iran and fear campaigns about its bomb.  And blame it on an Israel still determined to force the U.S. into an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that it desires.  In the meantime, the U.S. military build-up in the Persian Gulf, already at staggering levels, goes on.
Somebody, it seems, has yet to break the news to Washington: we are in an increasingly multipolar world in which Eurasian powers Russia and China, and regional power Iran, simply won’t subscribe to its scenarios. When it comes to the New Silk Road(s) linking South Asia, Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and China, whatever Washington’s dreams may be, they will be shaped and constructed by Eurasian powers, not by the United States.
As for an Obama 2.0 “Nixon in China” moment transplanted to Tehran?  Stranger things have happened on this planet.  But under the present circumstances, don’t hold your breath.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for al-Jazeera and the Russian network RT, and a TomDispatch regular. His latest book is Obama Does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.  Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.
Copyright 2012 Pepe Escobar

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Skyfall, starring David Petraeus By Pepe Escobar

Skyfall, starring David Petraeus
By Pepe Escobar 

My name is Petraeus. David Petraeus. Move over, Bond, with your Skyfall; this is the real deal, a certified political/national security blockbuster to end them all. 

This is how Hollywood would market it; "He had the nation's highest security clearance. But above all he was an embedded lady killer." 

Now for the casting. Daniel Craig could easily play The General, although The General would rather teleguide a Hellfire than an 

Aston Martin, and wear a "fruit salad" (as in myriad decorations) instead of a killer Tom Ford suit. Demi Moore - sultry as ever - could play "Paula". Assorted Iraqis and Afghans would play "collateral damage". 

Meanwhile, murky does not even begin to describe alleged reality - as in the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, retired Gen David Petraeus, resigning over a bedroom farce only two days after President Barack Obama is re-elected, amid crossfire accusations raging for weeks regarding what the CIA was exactly doing in Libya, that godforsaken land liberated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and now ruled by a bunch of militias. 

As whodunits go, this plot is going nowhere. Nobody knows why this blockbuster was leaked last Friday - by the way only one day after President Obama himself had learned about it (on the other hand attorney general Eric Holder of The Fast and the Furiousfame knew about it since "late summer", according to the proverbial anonymous, "US officials"). 

Nobody knows what the Federal Bureau of Investigation was planning to do before all hell broke loose - considering that its four-month investigation had unearthed that Petraeus and his lover, West Point graduate, fitness fanatic, adoring biographer Paula Broadwell, had not breached national security. 

Or maybe they had. For starters, The General - possessor of the nation's highest national security clearance - was using a mere G-mail account to talk dirty to Paula, using what The Washington Post gleefully described as "a tactic of terrorists who are rightly wary of espionage". And when it was leaked that the FBI found no "major security breaches", this means there WAS a security breach. 

My guy
The bedroom farce elements are enough to have Moliere rolling in his tombe. The whole thing started when Floridian Jill Kelley complained about receiving harassing emails from Paula, the adoring co-author (with Washington Post journalist Vernon Loeb) of the full-access biography All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, published in January. Paula and Petraeus had been getting down to the nitty-gritty since November 2011, two months after Obama appointed him as head of the CIA. Talk about an embedded biographer. 

So Paula must have thought she was in a sexy quadrangle, not triangle. She obviously didn't know much about Jill Kelley - the third woman in the farce - the other three sides being Paula and Petraeus' wife, the now "furious" Holly. The Tampa Bay Times described The General as a grandfather to Kelley's family. 

Kelley also happened to be a critical player; a "social liaison" to the Pentagon's supreme, shadowy, counterterrorism/killing machine, the Fort Bragg-based Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). It's crucial to know that it was the JSOC that allegedly led the CIA and the Pentagon into what had happened during the attack against the US consulate in Benghazi in which ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. 

None of this obviously mattered to Paula; in the harassing emails that culminated in this bombshell, she bluntly ordered Kelley to "stay away from my guy". 

As for "my guy", he has multiple questions to answer. First of all; why did the CIA tell the White House that the Benghazi drama was provoked by that stupid "Prophet Muhammad" YouTube video - and not an attack coordinated by previously NATO-enabled Salafi-jihadis? 

And then, no less important; why did The General not decide to commit his public seppuku over two weeks ago, when FBI agents talked to him in person about the investigation? Was it his paramount reason the desire not to bomb the Obama administration and practically hand the election over to the Republican Party? Or maybe he was hoping the whole thing would simply be covered up, like a Pashtun wedding party obliterated by a Hellfire missile? 

According to The New York Times, the whole thing blew over in late October after an "unidentified" FBI employee - now identified as sending photos of his shirtless torso to Jill Kelley - spilled the beans to Congress Republicans all the way to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Nobody knows what was this FBI's informer agenda. 

In a nutshell, the FBI didn't manage to keep the investigation secret. Cantor, according to the Times, had a serious meeting with FBI director Robert Mueller III on Halloween; then nobody knows what happened till Election Day, November 6, when the FBI went by the book and told James Clapper Jr, the Director of National Intelligence, about the bedroom farce. To say that Mueller and Cantor also have a few questions to answer is the understatement of the year. 

With US corporate media now totally berserk, the master narrative remains that The Samurai General did the honorable thing by resigning. It all goes back to good ol' American Puritanism. You can be a killing machine, responsible for the death of untold numbers of civilians. But don't you dare betraying your devoted wife. 

The General may be thinking he chose the wrong profession. What an unforgiving environment; James Bond gets to wear fabulous suits, drinks countless martinis, drives an Aston Martin, shoots every bad guy in sight and beds every foxy lady in the universe. 

The failed warrior 
David Petraeus was more of a PR genius than a samurai to begin with. His cinematic model would be Captain Willard as played by Martin Sheen in Coppola's Apocalypse Now; the warrior intellectual. Petraeus, who for quite a while actively positioned himself as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, was clever enough to sell to US public opinion - and gullible mainstream media - the notion that he was a winner in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These are two monumental fallacies. 

The revolving door ethos in Washington - in this case between the Pentagon and the CIA - reached new heights of absurdity when Petraeus, who adapted his counterinsurgency tactics from Iraq to Afghanistan, as in take, clear, hold and build, was put in charge, as CIA director, of analyzing ... the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. The Taliban must be laughing all across the Hind Kush about Petraeus's counterinsurgency "success" - which, by the way, he imposed, along with other Pentagon generals, on Obama in late 2009. 

Petraeus is a product of the Pentagon. He could never, by himself, get rid of the inbuilt logic of Endless War, established by Republican strategists of what French political scientist Alain Joxe has characterized as "war neoliberalism". 

Iraq and Afghanistan were pure manifestations of "war neoliberalism". Petraeus's "surge" in Iraq was a sham. When he arrived with his suitcases full of cash to convince Sunni guerrillas to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, and not American soldiers, the real surge was already being accomplished; this was the surge led by the Iraqi Interior Ministry and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which had practically succeeded in the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and surrounding areas, reverting the population balance to the benefit of Shi'ites. As for the Sunni guerrillas, at least they could pocket American money while biding their time to continue their fight against a Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad. 

Obama's foreign policy team certainly thought that Petraeus counterinsurgency mumbo-jumbo would allow Iraq - and later Afghanistan - at least some sort of what could be dubbed inter-communitarian democracy, saving American face in terms of a troop exit that would not replicate the last helicopter leaving a Saigon roof in 1975. 

But the fact is Petraeus did not win any hearts and minds in either Iraq or Afghanistan; his take, clear, hold and build tactics ultimately led to nowhere in both cases - and we're not even talking about serious instances of torture, extrajudicial killings, illegal detentions and widespread shadow war. His "mini-surge" could only have had a shot at succeeding in Afghanistan (and that's quite a stretch) if it was not mini; if he had had access to hundreds of thousands of troops - something politically unacceptable in the US. 

Then there's Benghazi. What may have really happened is that the US consulate in Benghazi was a sort of CIA safe house/spy house - thus under Petraeus responsibility, not the State Dept. This neatly dovetails with "Paula" casually saying, at the University of Denver on October 26, that "prisoners" were being held at the consulate (the CIA vehemently denied it, so there must be a degree of truth to it). 

That the consulate was attacked by Salafi-jihadis is out of the question. The State Department may have been the fall guys - while Petraeus/CIA got away with their incompetence. Well, until the bedroom farce exploded. 

It remains to be seen whether anyone in Washington will dare asking the pertinent questions. It remains to be seen whether Petraeus's relentless, hyper-counterproductive (not to mention collateral damage-laden) drone wars will be reevaluated. It remains to be seen whether Obama 2.0 will decide to practice diplomacy - and not shadow war - in the intersection between Central and South Asia. 

The inestimable Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, suggests Obama should stop listening to " faux experts - the neocon specialists at Brookings, AEI and elsewhere" and instead go for "genuine experts like former national intelligence officer for the Near East Paul Pillar, former State Department chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, and military historian and practitioner Andrew Bacevich (Lt Col, USA, ret). These are straight-shooters; they have no interest in 'long wars'; they will tell you the truth; all you need to do is listen." 

Forget about straight shooters. The Acting CIA Director is now Michael Morell, a puppet of counter-terrorism czar John Brennan. As for The General, what a sorry exit; he gets no fancy car, no martinis, no Tom Ford killer suit, he doesn't save the world. And in the end he doesn't even get the girl. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why Did CIA Director Petraeus Resign? Why Was the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Murdered?

Why Did CIA Director Petraeus Resign? Why Was the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Murdered?


The Deeper Questions Behind the Ambassador’s Murder … and the CIA Boss’ Sudden Resignation

While the GOP is attacking (and Dems defending) the Obama administration in connection with the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, there is a deeper story.
Sure, it is stunning that the State Department never requested backup or that people such as Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer allege that President Obama personally watched in real time the attacks as they occurred via video feeds from drones flying over the Benghazi consulate.
But these claims only can be assessed – and the whole confusing mess only makes sense – if the deeper underlying story is first exposed.

Many Syrian Terrorists Come from Libya

The U.S. supported opposition which overthrew Libya’s Gadaffi was largely comprised of Al Qaeda terrorists.
According to a 2007 report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s center, the Libyan city of Benghazi was one of Al Qaeda’s main headquarters – and bases for sending Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq – prior to the overthrow of Gaddafi:
WestPoint 1 LibyaAQvsAS Why Did CIA Director Petraeus Suddenly Resign ... And Why Was the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Murdered?
Al Qaeda is now largely in control of Libya.  Indeed, Al Qaeda flags were flown over the Benghazi courthouse once Gaddafi was toppled.
(Incidentally, Gaddafi was on the verge of invading Benghazi in 2011, 4 years after the West Point report cited Benghazi as a hotbed of Al Qaeda terrorists. Gaddafi claimed – rightly it turns out – that Benghazi was an Al Qaeda stronghold and a main source of the Libyan rebellion.  But NATO planes stopped him, and protected Benghazi.)
CNN, the Telegraph,  the Washington Times, and many other mainstream sources confirm that Al Qaeda terrorists from Libya have since flooded into Syria to fight the Assad regime.
Mainstream sources also confirm that the Syrian opposition is largely comprised of Al Qaeda terrorists.  See thisthisthisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this.
The U.S. has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006. The post-Gaddafi Libyan government is also itself a top funder and arms supplier of the Syrian opposition.

The Real Story At Benghazi

This brings us to the murder of ambassador Stevens and the sudden resignation of CIA boss David Petraeus.
The Wall Street JournalTelegraph and other sources confirm that the US consulate in Benghazi was mainly being used for a secret CIA operation.
They say that the State Department presence in Benghazi “provided diplomatic cover” for the previously hidden CIA mission.
Business Insider reports that Stevens may have been linked with Syrian terrorists:
There’s growing evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.
In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens’ life.
In November 2011 The Telegraph reported that Belhadj, acting as head of the Tripoli Military Council, “met with Free Syrian Army [FSA] leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey” in an effort by the new Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing insurgency in Syria.
Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria … has docked in Turkey.” The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot downSyrian helicopters and fighter jets.
The ship’s captain was ”a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.
That means that Ambassador Stevens had only one person—Belhadj—between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.
Furthermore, we know that jihadists are the best fighters in the Syrian opposition, but where did they come from?
Last week The Telegraph reported that a FSA commander called them “Libyans” when he explained that the FSA doesn’t “want these extremist people here.”
And if the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens’ primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.
Furthermore there was a CIA post in Benghazi, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. consulate, used as “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” … and that its security features “were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died.”
And we know that the CIA has been funneling weapons to the rebels in southern Turkey. The question is whether the CIA has been involved in handing out the heavy weapons from Libya.
In other words, ambassador Stevens may have been a key player in deploying Libyan terrorists and arms to fight the Syrian government.
Other sources also claim that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was mainly being used as a CIA operation to ship fighters and arms to Syria.
Many have speculated that – if normal security measures weren’t taken to protect the Benghazi consulate or to rescue ambassador Stevens – it was  because the CIA was trying to keep an extremely low profile to protect its cover of being a normal State Department operation.

Why Did CIA Chief David Petraeus Suddenly Resign?

CIA boss David Petraeus suddenly resigned, admitting to an affair.  This could be the real explanation, given that affairs of high-level intelligence chiefs could compromise national security.
But the timing of Petraeus’ resignation becomes more interesting once one learns that that he was scheduled to testify under oath next week before power House and Senate committees regarding the Benghazi consulate.
Many speculate that it wasn’t an affair – but the desire to avoid testifying on Benghazi – which was the real reason for Petraeus’ sudden resignation.

The Big Picture

Whatever the scope of the CIA’s operation in Benghazi – and whatever the real reason for the resignation of the CIA chief – the key is our historical and ongoing foreign policy.
For decades, the U.S. has backed terrorists for geopolitical ends.
The U.S. government has been consistently planning regime change in Syria and Libya for 20 years, and dreamed of regime change – using false flag terror – for 50 years.
Obama has simply re-packaged Bush and the Neocons’ “war on terror” as a series of humanitarian wars.
And the U.S. and its allies will do anything to topple Iran … and is systematically attempting to pull the legs out from Iran’s allies as a way to isolate and weaken that country.
Americans should ask ourselves if that’s what we want …