Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Treason: the Republicans' "Can't Lose" Foreign Policy Strategy

All last fall and this spring, the Republican party lambasted Obama for not doing anything to Iran.  All the Republican candidates except Ron Paul promised war with Iran.  Romney became so hysterical he said, in apocalyptic fashion: "If Obama is re-elected, Iran WILL have nuclear weapons."  None of the media called them out on this purple prose.  Yet, every single one of them believed Obama was doing something on Iran.  Something covert he couldn't talk about.  How can I be so sure?

The U.S. has been dropping hints for ten years that it has operations in Iran.  In 2004, when Bush was president,  the US "leaked" that we had ground operatives in Iran, leading to speculation there would be an invasion.   That year the US Army did a war game targeting a country called "Nair" ("Iran" with the letters rearranged, see link).

There was no call for an investigation of leaks by Congress then.
In 2006, there was further sabre rattling.  In 2011, Iran had a setback to its nuclear program (see above link).

In 2009, with Obama a new president, democracy demonstrations broke out in Iran, a resistance movement that lasted three years.  The whole world, but particularly Russia, thought the US was behind it.

In 2010,  while Obama was president, a computer virus set back Iran's nuclear program two years. The US and Israel were the only suspects.

In February 2011, Iran admitted a problem causing the shutdown of a newly completed nuclear plant.

In November, 2011, Iran claimed it caught a number of CIA spies in Lebanon and Iran.

This was trumpeted as a huge failure for US foreign policy, a major administration setback.  A couple weeks later, it turned out that was a response to a huge success for covert operations: a missile testing site in Iran exploded just three weeks earlier, a huge act of sabotage which Iran thought had been accomplished by the CIA.

That story got very limited attention.

In other words, if the Republican candidates for president were having their staff read the news, they knew that the Obama administration had been conducting extensive covert operations in Iran.  So why accuse the president of doing nothing?  Simple: they know the public isn't hearing or seeing or remembering these stories.

If the president does not respond, he looks weak.  If he says he is doing something, he blows a covert operation.  And if the operation is blown by others, the Republicans can claim he leaked it even though Bush used to do it as a matter of policy. .

The last case has now happened, Russian programmers have found something that links the Iran viruses to a previous cyberwar weapon,  and the Republicans in Congress and the Romney campaign, fearing Obama will look strong and competent, and unable so far to generate "momentum,"  are trying to see if they can pin  a leak on anybody in the Obama administration and therefore say it is the PRESIDENT who damaged national security, not their lying.  Indeed, after Attorney General Holder sent two US attorneys to investigate, the Republicans called for him to resign and appoint a special prosecutor.

Now remember what has happened here. The Republicans know that Iran has seen multiple attacks to its politics, nuclear program, and military. They know Iran believes the CIA is responsible.  But they accuse the president of doing nothing on Iran so he will look weak.  If he doesn't respond, and he didn't, they look like they are more concerned with US security than he is.  If he does respond, then he has blown covert operations.  And if somebody else leaks it, the Republicans can claim Obama leaked it and start an open ended witch hunt.

It's all very deceptive, but is it treason?  After all, by accusing him of doing nothing, they are providing him cover.  By threatening war, aren't they scaring Iran and causing it to negotiate with Obama? The answer is no.  First of all, their intent is to goad the President into revealing America's covert operations. If Iran can get such an admission, their case improves dramatically and foreign support for action in Iran falls to zero.
Indeed, they can blame anything that happens in their country on the CIA, and lead other countries to wonder what the CIA is doing on their territory.  Second, by threatening war, the GOP could raise the benefit to Iran of supporting terrorism against the US and even give it a large incentive for a first strike. But a more likely scenario is that whether or not Obama rises to the bait, Iran starts to see US rhetoric as part of domestic political gamesmanship and discounts any and all threats the US may want to make.  And that, dear readers, is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. In 1944, the Republicans were keen to expose FDR for leading Japan to war, since a US newspaper had admitted we had broken Japanese codes.  General Marshall  met with the Republican candidate and begged him to lay off because the Japanese would change their codes and set back the war effort.  He didn't believe it, but he did back off.  Can anyone imagine Romney or any other Republican "backing off" in that way today?

Of course you can't.  Can you even imagine them engaging in a serious discussion of the direction, theories, and overall plan of foreign policy? Of course not.  It's merely a gotcha game to them.

They have not stopped at treason. The Republicans are not a political party any longer, but a racketeering influenced corruption organization within the meaning of the federal statute, and are actively working to sabotage the economy and American foreign policy for private gain.

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