When reading about Sen. Obama's 'hope and change' message with regards to foreign policy, one comes across the distinct impression that his views are not all that out of line with the policies that previous Presidents have promulgated to ill ends. Consider his view on what is necessary to 'stabilize' Iraq, as seen from an NPR interview of 13 OCT 2007:
But the most important thing that we have to do is initiate the kind of diplomacy that is going to stabilize the situation. And there, Sen. Clinton and I do appear to have a difference, although it's hard to tell. I suggested that we should talk to our enemies and not just our friends, including Iran, including Syria. I got in an argument with Sen. Clinton back in the summer about this, because she suggested that that approach of negotiating without preconditions could be used for propaganda purposes and would be naive.
That is not a new view nor one of great profundity, as it pre-supposes that we have actually stopped talking with Iran and Syria. Sen. Obama becomes naive when he puts forth that we have stopped doing so. On the Syrian front you would, indeed, co-sponsor a bill with Sen. Frist (S.RES.534 passed by voice unanimous consent on18 JUL 2006 [Thomas link may be temporary]) entitled: A resolution condemning Hezbollah and Hamas and their state sponsors and supporting Israel's exercise of its right to self-defense. In the text of that bill that YOU Sen. Obama co-sponsored WITH a Republican it is affirmed the following:
Whereas Israel fully complied with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 (adopted March 19, 1978) by completely withdrawing its forces from Lebanon, as certified by the United Nations Security Council and affirmed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on June 16, 2000, when he said, `Israel has withdrawn from [Lebanon] in full compliance with Security Council Resolution 425.';
Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (adopted September 2, 2004) calls for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces and the dismantlement of all independent militias in Lebanon;
Whereas despite Resolution 1559, the terrorist organization Hezbollah remains active in Lebanon and has amassed thousands of rockets aimed at northern Israel;
Whereas the Government of Lebanon, which includes representatives of Hezbollah, has done little to dismantle Hezbollah forces or to exert its authority and control throughout all geographic regions of Lebanon;
Whereas Hezbollah receives financial, military, and political support from Syria and Iran;
Whereas the United States has enacted several laws, including the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (22 U.S.C. 2151 note) and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note), that call for the imposition of sanctions on Syria and Iran for, among other things, their support for terrorism and terrorist organizations;
You, yourself, back telling our enemies to stop funding terrorism, and, as President, you would be bound to enforce the Sanctions asked for by Congress. And President Bush *affirms* that he abides by and supports these actions by Congress and will carry them out (White House 07 MAY 2008). The National Security Advisor Steve Hadley took questions regarding the Syrian nuclear reactor and the US response, and got this question ( 06 AUG 2006 ):
Q Steve, is the administration now going to talk to Iran and Syria to make this point, and try to have some back-and-forth with them? As you know, many of your critics say you haven't been talking to your enemies, who actually hold the key to this.
MR. HADLEY: Well, in some sense, you know, every time someone like me gets up and talks and says what they've just said, we've sent a message to Syria and Iran. I mean, it's not as if they don't hear what has been said.
Secondly, in terms of both of these countries, there are a number of countries that are sending the same message. That's really been an approach we have had both with respect to Syria and Iran, to try and get the international community and as many countries as we can sending the same message to Syria and Iran.
In terms of Iran, as you know, we are very anxious to enter into a discussion with Iran on their nuclear program. And we have proposed to do so if they will simply do what the international community, what the Europeans, who have been handling the diplomacy with them have called for, what the IAEA Board of Governors have called for, which is to suspend their nuclear enrichment programs.
So we would like very much to be entering into a discussion with Iran on that issue and potentially other issues. But they've got to take a step to show that they are willing to come into compliance with the international community.
Sen. Obama, are you favoring a 'unilateralist' approach or 'cowboy' diplomacy where 'America goes it alone'? Because that is the *exact same* set of charges put against the current Administration with regard to Afghanistan and Iraq, and considering all the allies that we have supporting us in BOTH endeavors, that really is a slight to those who 'look up to the US'. Why are *you* willing to turn your back on the 'international community'?
But don't you worry, those 'Iranian Moderate Clerics' will surely come to your aid just like they did with President Clinton!
Now it is time for the retro-rewind!
The then newly elected President Khatami, on 14 DEC 1997, told us that he would, indeed, seek better relations with the US (via GlobalSecurity.org VOA archives):
PRESIDENT KHATAMI TOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE SUNDAY IN TEHERAN HE WANTS TO HAVE A TALK SOON WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, BUT HE DID NOT SAY WHAT FORM THAT DIALOGUE WOULD TAKE. HE IMPLIED SUCH A DIALOGUE WOULD INCLUDE THE U-S GOVERNMENT, THOUGH HE ACCUSED U-S POLITICIANS OF HAVING FALLEN BEHIND THE TIMES. HE SAID IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD THAT HAS BECOME MULTI-POLAR, THE UNITED STATES STILL IMAGINES IT IS THE SOLE POWER AND IT MUST IMPOSE ITS POWER ON THE WORLD AT ANY COST. MR. KHATAMI IS A MODERATE SHITTE MUSLIM WHO WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT LAST MAY. SINCE THEN HE HAS SOFTENED RELATIONS WITH OTHER ARAB NATIONS, INCLUDING PRO-WESTERN SAUDI ARABIA.
Why a man after your own heart,no? Just the sort of man you want to support, isn't it? Unfortunately he didn't really seem to understand what was going on as he continued just a bit further in his press conference:
HE TOLD REPORTERS (SUNDAY) INSTEAD OF SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER WITH THE LANGUAGE OF FORCE, WE SHOULD LEARN TO SPEAK WITH THE LANGUAGE OF REASON.
MR. KHATAMI ALSO DISMISSED EFFORTS TO ESTABLISH PEACE WITH ISRAEL, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS -- RACIST AND EXPANSIONIST. HE SAID ARAB COUNTRIES THAT HAD TRIED POLITICAL DIALOGUE WITH ISRAEL HAD GAINED NOTHING.
THE UNITED STATES SEVERED TIES WITH IRAN IN 1979 AFTER ISLAMIC MILITANTS STORMED THE U-S EMBASSY IN TEHERAN AND TOOK 52 AMERICANS HOSTAGE FOR MORE THAN A YEAR. THE UNITED STATES HAS TRIED TO OSTRACIZE IRAN AND HAS CALLED IT A TOP SPONSOR OF TERRORISM.
Say, would you say, Sen. Obama, that Egypt and Jordan, having made *peace* with Israel have gained nothing? Remember, now, that Khatami was a 'moderate' and President Clinton would try dropping some minor trade sanctions to see if they were reciprocated and Iran would start to recognize its duties not to destabilize other Nations. Doesn't look like they got the message, did they? Taking a look at the press briefing by James P. Rubin at the State Dept on 03 DEC 1999 (via GlobalSecurity.org document cache), we get to see what sort of response the US got and how the US utilizes its various channels to keep in contact with the Iranian regime:
US aim is to have official dialogue about issues of concern, including support for terrorism. US has not received hoped-for responses, on terrorism cooperation or on visas for Iranians to come to the US.
QUESTION: On the subject of terrorism in Saudi Arabia, could you tell us about the attempts by the United States to get Iranian support and help in uncovering who blew up Khobar Towers?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say in that regard, I think it should be understood that our objective here with Iran to have a dialogue is not have a dialogue for dialogue's sake; it's to have a dialogue so that we can engage in a process by which Iranian policies of concern would change, including our concern about Iranian support for terrorist organizations and those who are enemies of the peace process.
We have made clear that the policies changing is the objective. We have not received in our dialogue through - let me rewind that tape. We have had contacts, diplomatic contact, messages, to Iran. There is no secret about that. We don't have the kind of direct dialogue that we have been seeking in order to change those policies of concern.
We have not received from Iran, the government of Iran, the kind of responses that we have been hoping for on a wide range of issues, including on the cooperation we seek in investigating acts of terrorism. That is unfortunate and, generally speaking, the Iranian Government's response to our efforts in that area and also our efforts to try to make it easier for visas to be provided to Iranian Americans or Iranians who want to come to America, we've sought visits that would facilitate that process that many people in Iran want, which is to have an ability to come to the United States.
So on those two issues, cooperation on terrorism and making it easier for visas to be provided for Iranians visiting the United States, the Iranian Government's response has tended to be hide-bound and unimaginative.
So that is the state of play. We still believe that it is in our interest to have a dialogue in which our concerns, primarily terrorism and active opposition to the Middle East peace process can be pursued, but it's a fundamental misunderstanding if there is an impression that we're seeking a dialogue for dialogue's sake.
A few points for the good Sen. Obama to ponder: does he want 'dialogue for the sake of dialogue'? That *is* what that 'hope and change' view has as its basis with a 'fresh face' showing up to hold dialogue with Iran. Even the CLINTONS understood that was not productive with the regime in Tehran. They utilized something known as 'back channel discussions' to remain in contact with the regime via other means. Also note that the Clinton Administration was doing both the 'high' end approach on 'hardball' with terrorist issues and the 'softball' approach with regards to getting Iranian individuals visas to come and visit the US. Both of them *failed*. And who failed them? Was it the Clinton Administration for lack of seeking 'dialogue'?
It was in the hands of Iran and they spoke very nicely of opening up 'dialogue' but the pre-condition of condemning Israel and getting the US to stop supporting Israel meant that it was *not* an offer made on 'reason'.
Now, about that 'stability in the Middle East' part that Sen. Obama seeks to achieve with Iran, during that exact, same press conference the Clinton Administration gave its view on just that topic... again, this is 1999:
QUESTION: Just to go back to Iran for a moment, it seems that you've often described the potential US relationship with Iran in sort of addressing the negatives - support for terrorism, opposition to the Middle East peace process - and I wonder if you have any thought about what value, what positive value, the US might have in relations with Iran?
MR. RUBIN: We believe Iran is an important country. It is located in a very important area. Our two peoples have a long and friendly history prior to the most recent developments in the late '70s and throughout the '80s, and we believe that Iran is located in a part of the world that's important to us.
We believe that the people of Iran would benefit from increasing interaction with the people of the United States. We believe the people of the United States would benefit from the interaction of the long and proud culture of Persia and Iran, and there is much to be gained on both sides, but we do have problems. Those problems are real. Some of them have even increased recently, and I've spoken to that.
So pending a decision by the government of Iran to move to address those issues in a direct dialogue, we believe it's appropriate to facilitate and promote a dialogue of the peoples of the United States and Iran in an analogous way to that proposed by President Khatami of a dialogue of civilizations. We welcome that. We support that. We want that to go forward. We think it brings great benefit to both of our peoples.
We think a relationship that could overcome major problems if we could get Iran to stop supporting the opponents of the Middle East peace process, we think that it would make the Middle East a much more stable place, and that would be good for everybody. We think that if we could make progress on stopping Iran's support for those groups that engage in terrorist activities, that would make the world a safer place, and that would be very important.
Beyond that, the potential for a more normal relationship was put out there and put forward by Secretary Albright in a speech in New York - I think it was a year and a half ago - but it's very hard to discuss the fruits of that normal relationship at a time when we can't even get Iran to see the wisdom in talking about the problems that we think exist.
Yes, even the Clinton Administration couldn't get Khatami or Iran to see the light of 'reason'. They, instead, put forward the 'cultural' approach and were rebuffed on that, too. Apparently no one has ignored the Iranian People, save their very own government, which is the problem there. Considering that Sen. Obama should *know* all of this, then why is it that he puts such stock on 'dialogue' when one partner refuses to show up in the *least* ways? Also, there wasn't a US presence in Iraq, then, so the destabilizing of the Middle East by the Iranian regime pre-dates that by quite a lot.
Now it is time for the retro-rewind by going back to the *previous* Administration, that of Bush-41 and getting his view on Iran from a 25 MAY 1990 interview excerpt (via GlobalSecurity.org archives) he did with French television:
Q: What would you fear most today, Mr. President, communism or the growing of Muslim fundamentalism?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I haven't thought about that in terms of priorities. Communism is on the wane, it's on the way out. In our hemisphere, there's only one left, and that's Castro. And I don't know what he believes because he -- but he darn sure can't be excited about the way things are going for good, old communists; going down the drain. And so -- and I think when you see people have a free choice, nobody's speaking up, hey, I want to have a communist government. It just isn't happening. And so I don't fear communism at all.
I don't like that ideology and so I worry about that. But in terms of Muslim fundamentalism, the real extremes there, I am concerned about that. We lived through a terrible time in Iran. We still have difficulties there. But I'm hopeful some day we can have better relations. Because I think Mr. Rafsanjani is showing a sense of reasonableness in some areas that perhaps his predecessor didn't feel he could show, or didn't feel like showing.
So I worry about this problem.
Yes, Rafsanjani would be yet another 'moderate' in Iran that would lead to NO changes in its stance. But President Bush did have 'hope and change' on his mind, make no mistake about it! But that hope about change would prove very short lived as a press release of 19 JUL 1990 by Congressmen would show (Source: GlobalSecurity.org archives):
Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Mervyn M. Dymally, (D- Compton, CA) announced that he and 161 of his colleagues have written to the president of Iran's National Council of Resistance, Mr. Massoud Rajavi, extending their "profound sympathies" to him about the assassination of his brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi, noting that they share his view that "decisiveness is required to confront Tehran's medieval dictatorship."
The 162 Representatives cited the Tehran-sponsored terrorist assassination on April 24, 1990, of Dr. Kazem Rajavi, whom they called "a great advocate of human rights, who had dedicated his life to the establishment of democracy in his homeland." The Congressmen expressed their support for the democratic resistance in Iran saying, "We ask you, as the Leader of the Iranian Resistance, to assure your countrymen that we support their peaceful and democratic aims."
The letter signed by 100 Democrats and 62 Republicans, says that "Dr. Rajavi's assassination is but-more proof of Tehran's continuing insistence to use terrorism as the principal and indispensable pillar of its foreign policy," and emphasizes that the Representatives share Mr. Rajavi's view that "any negligence or flexibility vis-a-vis the crimes of this regime only encourages it to export terrorism."
"One year after the death of Khomeini, the Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani has proven that he is as immoderate as Khomeini, by continuing the repressive and terrorist policies of his mentor," said Congressman Dymally.
"The internal oppression also has continued despite the visit to Tehran by the United Nations' Special Representative," Reynaldo Galindo Pohl stated the letter. Congressman Dymally described Galindo Pohl's report, as "whitewash and a disgrace for the United Nations" and considered it "a green light" to the Iran regime to carry out such crimes as the one in Geneva.
On June 22, 1990, the Swiss Police issued a report saying that Iranian government agencies had directly planned and carried out the murder of Dr. Kazem Rajavi. The report stated that the assassination team carried Iranian government service passports -- "all issued on the same date" -- and flew between Tehran and Geneva on Iran Air.
Tehran felt that reaching out and assassinating supporters overseas was a good idea, and Dr. Rajavi was neither the first nor the last to be killed for the regime's goals. And do note the 'helpfulness' of the 'international community', here! Apparently use of terrorism to destabilize the region and enforce its clerical view extends far beyond the borders of Iran, Sen. Obama. The 'hope & change' has been seen many times before in Iran and we have yet to see a damned thing result from hoped for change. Instead we get assassinations, attacks on sovereign States and destabilization with a goal of spreading Iranian influence and power.
The Clinton Administration tried to use *that* to its advantage, believe it or not! The place that it tried that was Bosnia, and I took a pretty long, hard look at that failed policy awhile back. From that lets take a look at a DEMOCRAT who criticized it when Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) asked the State Dept. for its views and got them in a letter from Barbara Larkin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs dated 20 MAY 1996, which he had put into the Congressional Record: June 11, 1996 (Extensions), DOCID:cr11jn96-22, THIRD-COUNTRY ARMS DELIVERIES TO BOSNIA AND CROATIA, an excerpt follows:
The political and military dynamic in Bosnia changed in March 1994. In that month, as a result of active U.S. mediation by our Special Envoy, Ambassador Charles Redman, the leaders of Bosnia, Croatia, and the Bosnian Croat community signed agreements ending their military conflict and setting up a bi-communal Federation between Bonsia's Muslims and ethnic Croats. The newly born Federation immediately received strong U.S. diplomatic support, and deservedly so; its founding principles reflected pluralistic Western values and the cease-fire it engendered helped free up government forces to defend their country against the Serbs and, over time, altered the military balance.
When President Tudjman of Croatia approached Ambassador Galbraith in Zagreb in April 1994 to elicit U.S. views on allowing third-country arms shipments to Bosnia via Croatia, we determined that a negative response could have led to the collapse of the Federation and a new deterioration of the Bosnian Government's military position. Instead, we decided that the best course was neither to object to nor approve of arms transfers to Bosnia through Croatia. This was consistent with our practice in the preceding months not to take active steps to prevent third-country arms shipments. At the same time, we did not believe it would have been appropriate to endorse actions contrary to UN Security Council resolutions. Thus we told Ambassador Galbraith to state that he had "no instructions" on the matter.
Our decision eventually bore fruit. By sustaining the Federation and eroding the Serbs' military advantage, it paved the way for the American diplomacy, backed by NATO air power, that produced the peace agreement at Dayton. Our decision allowed us both to observe our legal obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 713 and to promote the achievement of peace.
How did the Administration assess the implications of such a policy change on international adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 713 and U.S. efforts to get friends and allies to stop trade, economic dealings, and investment ties with Iran?
Iran's entry into the Bosnian conflict occurred long before the April 1994 decision. Iranian efforts to gain influence in Bosnia date back to the 1980s. They gained momentum in 1991-92, in the early stages of the war, when the international community proved unable to confront Serb aggression. During this period, despite the UN arms embargo, Iran established itself as Bosnia's principal arms supplier and dispatched hundreds of Revolutionary Guard and other personnel to assist in training Bosnian Government forces. Iranian military aid was part of a multi-pronged campaign of support that also included intelligence cooperation along with economic and humanitarian assistance. We have no evidence that Iran's presence in Bosnia increased significantly after April 1994. It is also worth noting that, through the Dayton Accords and subsequent diplomacy, we have reduced Iranian military influence in Bosnia to its lowest levels in years.
The April 1994 decision had no discernable impact on U.S. efforts to gain international support for the use of economic pressure to alter Iran's objectionable behavior, including its support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Prior to 1994, our Allies had generally been unresponsive to our requests that they not provide Iran with economic benefits such as new official credits and loan guarantees. In the past year, however, following the President's decision to impose a trade and investment embargo against Iran, most European countries have substantially reduced the pace and volume of economic activity with Iran. We continue to urge European governments to join our efforts to pressure Iran economically. Based on our ongoing consultations, including the April 19 meeting in Rome of the U.S.-EU-Canada Working Group on Iran, we have concluded that the April 1994 decision has not significantly affected our Iran diplomacy.
Did the United States have discussions regarding these deliveries only with the Croatian and Bosnian authorities, or did the United States also have discussions directly with third countries supplying or financing these arms deliveries?
The United States had no communications with Iran regarding arms for Bosnia, nor are we aware of any occasion on which U.S. officials, in any discussions with other countries, requested them to transfer arms to Bosnia or Croatia.
What countries besides Iran were involved in the financing and delivery of arms to Bosnia? Were Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt involved?
We have provided classified documents which address this question to the Senate Intelligence Committee and we will provide these same materials to appropriate Congressional committees that request them.
If there was a change of policy, why was there a change of policy, and who was informed of it? Was Congress informed, were Allies informed, and were all appropriate officials of the United States informed about a change in policy that affected stated, public policy? If not, why not?
In order to succeed, the thrust of our diplomatic activity both before and after April 1994--adhering to our obligations under UN resolutions, maintaining the cohesion of the Western Alliance, while not taking action to prevent the Bosnians from receiving weapons--required great discretion. That is why the Administration kept the April 1994 discussions with the Croatian government closely held within its own ranks.
It should be noted, however, that the Congressional leadership and relevant committees were made aware of the existence of Iranian arms shipments both from Administration-provided intelligence briefings and press reports. Furthermore, the U.S. decision not to object to such shipments was not inconsistent with the will of Congress as expressed in a June 1994 vote in the House of Representatives to lift the arms embargo unilaterally. In October 1994, the full Congress voted to cut off funds for U.S. enforcement of the arms embargo. No exception for Iranian arms was contained in the legislation, nor was any such exception proposed during the debate.
There you have a lovely 'change' in reading of Congressional language in the 'hope' things would work out well. Don't mind the civil war that followed. Mind you the 'hope' was that if we gave Iran some free-play in Bosnia it would 'change' its attitude towards the US and give us some 'Arab street cred'. It did neither of those things. So we now have the following Administrations looking to 'hope & change' and not getting it: Bush (41), Clinton, Bush (43).
It's retro-rewind time!
Now, as Sen. Obama put President Reagan up as a modicum of how a leader for 'hope & change' can act, lets take a look at HIM with regards to Iran. And if you are a Democrat you will try to play this up while playing down Clinton, but that no longer washes... what we are seeing is something else that I talked about, which is 'Realism in Foreign Policy' and how that made the world a worse place, not a better one. Part of the insanity that went on during the Reagan Administration involved the putative 'personal outreach' to Khomeini by Reagan, himself. What did he do? He sent Khomeini a CAKE! (Source: The story behind Reagan's dealings with the mullahs by George J. Church, Time Magazine, 17 NOV 1986) This was part of a much larger initiative that would become Iran/Contra and Arms for Hostages:
The tale sounded really too bizarre to be believed. The U.S. conniving at arms shipments to Iran? Sending a secret mission to palaver with the mullahs? Trying to keep the whole thing from Congress and most of the U.S. Government? And all over Iran, of all places! The country that held Americans hostage for 444 days beginning in 1979, the land whose fanatical leader, Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, has never ceased to denounce America as the "Great Satan," the state widely suspected to this very day of fomenting terrorist attacks against Americans.
Yet there is no question that it happened. Initially in the perhaps illusory hope of gaining influence with a post-Khomeini government in Iran, but eventually also as an inducement for Iranian help in winning freedom for U.S. hostages held by Muslim zealots in Lebanon, the Reagan Administration approved clandestine shipments of military equipment -- ammunition, spare parts for tanks and jet fighters -- to Iran through Israel.
As long as the deep secret was kept -- even from most of the U.S. intelligence community -- the maneuver in one sense worked. Iran apparently leaned on Lebanese terrorists to set free three American hostages, the latest of whom, David Jacobsen, flew home to the U.S. last week for a Rose Garden meeting with Ronald Reagan. But once the broad outlines of the incredible story became known, the consequences were dire. The Administration appeared to have violated at least the spirit, and possibly the letter, of a long succession of U.S. laws that are intended to stop any arms transfers, direct ( or indirect, to Iran. Washington looked to be sabotaging its own efforts to organize a worldwide embargo against arms sales to Iran, and hypocritically flouting its incessant admonitions to friends and allies not to negotiate with terrorists for the release of their captives.
Now isn't that right up the 'hope & change' alley?
The entire 'neat idea' brain fart by North/Hakim/Secord would put one of the most dangerous representatives of one of the oldest drug dealing families from Syria right in the laps of the 'emerging market' for illegal narcotics and terrorism in South America: Monzer al-Kassar. To refresh the memories of those who are willing to forget this problem during the Reagan Administration, let me pull up a bit from Chapter 8 of the Walsh Report on Iran/Contra:
Phases V-VII of the Contra Arms Sales (March-June 1986)
Between February 27 and May 23, 1986, the Enterprise paid Defex Portugal about $860,000 for contra weapons. Weapons were delivered to Central America in March, April and May in three shipments. CSF books show profit distributions between April and June, numbered Phases V through VII, totaling $550,471. In addition, there was an unnumbered distribution of $37,277 on June 20, 1986, resulting from the Phase VII shipment.
The Undelivered Shipment and Distribution (July-September 1986)
In July 1986, the Enterprise paid Defex (Portugal) $2.6 million and $500,000 to another dealer, Monzer Al Kassar, for contra weapons. In late July, a shipment of arms left Portugal for Central America aboard the recently acquired Enterprise freighter, the Erria.8 According to Thomas Parlow, the Erria's Danish shipping agent, the freighter was carrying arms picked up in Poland and Portugal.9
8 Clines, Hakim and William Haskell, an associate of North, traveled to Copenhagen in April 1986 to purchase for approximately $320,000 the Erria, which the Enterprise had leased a year earlier for a weapons shipment to the contras. The ship was purchased by the Enterprise in the name of Dolmy Business Inc., a Panamanian shell company. Thomas Parlow became the Erria's Danish shipping agent. According to Parlow, Hakim would telephone Parlow to direct movement of the ship, and Parlow would communicate those directions to the ship's captain. (Parlow, FBI 302, 3/5/87, pp. 2-3.)
9 Ibid., p. 3.
As the Erria was nearing Bermuda, Parlow, acting on instructions from Hakim, ordered it to slow its speed and await further instructions. Clines then directed the ship to work its way slowly back to Portugal.10 When it arrived in Portugal it could not obtain permission to enter the port. In this mid- to late-August 1986 period, Secord ordered Clines to try to sell the cargo or dump it at sea, according to Parlow. The vessel headed for Spain, where it remained anchored for two weeks.
10 The ship apparently was ordered back to Europe because it was to be used in an impending U.S.-Israeli venture involving Iran.
As the Erria made its circuitous journey, the CIA through a series of commercial entities arranged to buy the weapons aboard. According to CIA officials, they did not learn the identity of either the owner of the ship or its cargo until January 1987, when a newspaper article named the Secord-Hakim Enterprise as the owner of the ship and the weapons.
The CIA paid $2.1 million for the arms shipment, including shipping and handling costs.11 According to the private arms dealer who bought the arms for the CIA, he paid $1.6 million for the weapons. Of that, the Enterprise received $1.2 million, and the remainder went to Parlow or Defex, who worked together to re-sell the weapons.
Yes, the money amounts aren't all that much in the arms business, but the *contacts* necessary to swing that entire shipment and keep contacts open with Iran puts Monzer al-Kassar in close proximity to the up and coming Carlos Menem and they would become intertwined in ways that we still cannot figure out, save for the trail of corpses behind them. That man would not only show up in Iran/Contra, but in the *other* big story coming up during that era and be cited as a player in the BCCI report:
4. BCCI's relationships with convicted Iraqi arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker Monzer Al-Kassar, and other major arms dealers. Sarkenalian was a principal seller of arms to Iraq. Monzer Al-Kassar has been implicated in terrorist bombings in connection with terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Other arms dealers, including some who provided machine guns and trained Medellin cartel death squads, also used BCCI. Tracing their assets through the bank would likely lead to important information concerning international terrorist and arms trafficker networks.
5. The use of BCCI by central figures in arms sales to Iran during the 1980's. The late Cyrus Hashemi, a key figure in allegations concerning an alleged deal involving the return of U.S. hostages from Iran in 1980, banked at BCCI London. His records have been withheld from disclosure to the Subcommittee by a British judge. Their release might aid in reaching judgments concerning Hashemi's activities in 1980, with the CIA under President Carter and allegedly with William Casey.
6. BCCI's activities with the Central Bank of Syria and with the Foreign Trade Mission of the Soviet Union in London. BCCI was used by both the Syrian and Soviet governments in the period in which each was involved in supporting activities hostile to the United States. Obtaining the records of those financial transactions would be critical to understanding what the Soviet Union under Brezhnev, Chernenko, and Andropov was doing in the West; and might document the nature and extent of Syria's support for international terrorism.
Yes, within the Top 5 of 'things that really need to be done' from that report! And do note his already existing ties to terrorist organizations elsewhere. The grand part of this is that Monzer al-Kassar is a SYRIAN. Beautiful, is it not? 'Hope & Change' applied to BOTH Iran and Syria via the Iran/Contra scandal? You can't get much more 'hope & change'-ful than trying to negotiate arms shipments for hostage releases via organized crime that supports narcotics trafficking and terrorism on a global scale. You could probably find out how Saddam felt about that, being that there was the Iran-Iraq war going on at the time, from your friend and cousin Saddam Hussein, Nadhmi Auchi. Really with Auchi's connections in organized crime, money laundering and terrorism, you can start a whole new style of 'hope & change' and bypass some of the intermediaries that would plague the Reagan Administration: might as well start out with corruption at the top, no?
And none of this *dealing* would help when the US went in to try and 'stabilize' a small part of the Middle East known as Lebanon. Sen. Obama has, apparently, forgotten that the last time the US made a big, bold and limited venture with the French to help put a lid on things and get Iran and Syria to the 'stabilization' concept, we would end up with our Beirut Embassy being bombed, our Marine Barracks being bombed along with the French camp, and then, after we had skedaddled leaving American blood in Lebanon, our Embassy was bombed *again* in a 'stay out and we mean it' sort of affair. It was their lovely child called Hezbollah under the guidance of Imad Mugniyah who accomplished that, and would later team up with al-Kassar in Argentina for some slaughter there, too. Thank heavens that beast is finally dead, not that we did anything to get him, mind you.
Speaking of which, the reason al-Kassar was going to Argentina, beyond opening up a heroin for cocaine swap between criminal enterprises, and flooding Europe with cocaine, was to get advanced missile technology and a nuclear reactor from Menem. Took a bit of nudging from the US to nix that, but we wound up with some of the worse expansion of organized crime, narcotics organizations, money laundering, arms dealing and terrorism the world had ever seen. One man really can make a difference!
Now its time to do the retro-rewind again!
Why, damn, we are back at the guy who helped to *cause* all these problems, President Jimmy Carter. I have traced this back before, but we might as well start at where 'hope & change' started: with laxness and malaise. But before *that* lets look at some of the folks advising Sen. Obama and the rest of the candidates at that time on foreign policy. You see one of the problems in the 'hope & change' category is the maladroitness of one of your advisors, Zbigniew Brzezinski. In an article from Policy Review at the Hoover Institution, we have Mark Bowden reviewing a book put out by Atlantic Monthly Press ( DEC 2006-JAN 2007 Policy Review) we get to see just how Mr. ZB looked at Iran, and you just might want to think a moment about a man who wanted to back the Shah of Iran 'to the hilt' and guaranteed that, while Secretary of State Cyrus Vance wanted to come to terms with Iran. That was all part of the series of events that led to the first US Embassy break-in in Iran ( FEB 1979) and the second break-in and hostage taking on 04 NOV 1979. Mr. ZB would want to back the Shah 'to the hilt' unless Iran was willing to come over to the US side of the Cold War, in which case he was more than ready to dump the Shah. When Henry Kissinger and Nelson Rockefeller were able to persuade the Carter Administration to take in the ailing Shah, *then* we got the hostage taking. In other words, the Carter Administration was dealing different cards with Mr. ZB and Cyrus Vance, each of whom assumed that Iran was going to be a 'rational state actor' just like all the other Nations on the planet. But Khomeini had his own 'hope & change' that wanted nothing to do with 'Great Power Politics' and was all for overthrowing absolutely everything in the aim of getting a Global Islamic State.
Apparently Mr. ZB couldn't grasp that and tried to appease Iran by putting forward a 'Green Belt' of Islamic States between the US and USSR. He was hoping that Iran would form up a league of 'moderate muslim' states to confront the USSR! Of course Iraq, France and a few other countries had told us just how radical Khomeini *was* and that his idea of a 'Green Belt' was a one-way, Caliphate-only affair. Somewhere near the end of his term, President Carter finally had the dawning light appear to him, in the form of an election not going so well for him, that he was being dealt with in bad faith by Iran and that they were playing *political games* to wound his Administration and get him out of power. His response to all of this was to sit in the Rose Garden, go 'tut-tut' and do very little. Of course he did try a rescue attempt, but since the US Armed Forces still had not rebuilt nor recovered morale since Vietnam, that operation was an advanced CF of the worst kind.
Say, what was that about you wanting to cut advanced weapons systems and training, Sen. Obama? Sound like the Jimmy Carter prescription for disaster to me...
But then I was in the US during that part of the Cold War. I didn't get to be a Kansan-Hawaiin that would spend time in Indonesia and lead a cushioned life insulated from the concept that a sudden nuclear decision in the Kremlin would give me a permanent bad hair day that was terminal. Nor did I get to go through an Ivy League school to rack up tons of debt nor a lovely multi-hundreds of thousands a year job with which to pay it off, all the time garnering lofty ideas of racial separation and how bad the US was and that we deserved everything we got. The feeling with Carter was, at least from my neck of the woods, that he should do something to storm in there and get our people freed just as was done during the Spanish Civil War and other times when US Citizens in government employment overseas were taken hostage by hostiles. I was utterly appalled by President Reagan actually *dealing* with such barbaric characters, and seeking to pay them off, which is something the US has assiduously tried to avoid since President Jefferson not wanting to spend one cent for tribute but millions for defense of our citizens. When those practicing Private War upon the high seas endangered US commerce, President Jackson sent the first US vessel to circumnavigate the planet: the frigate USS Potomac.
When we *stopped* defending our citizens who had joined our government on the CIVIL SIDE or who were engaged in normal commerce and fully protected under the Law of Nations from unjust attacks, then things started to go very, very wrong.
But then you wouldn't recognize that as justice, but 'imperialism' that standing up for your fellow citizen and ensuring he is safe from the depredation of those practicing Private War. No, you want to talk with those seeking to dismantle Nations so that they may rule the planet to their own petty desires. Apparently we have tried talking with them, beseeching with them to act in a civilized manner, to show any hint of understanding of reason and reciprocity amongst Nations. Some of your fellow Congresscrittes have been making regular pilgrimages to Syria, for years now, and we have no let-up in the Syrian stance on things. Here is what came of Congressman Rahall's trip:
Damascus, Syria -- The Middle East peace process "is a process that must succeed, and that is our position, that we want to see that process succeed," Congressman Nick J. Rahall (Democrat, West Virginia) said at an on-the-record press briefing here January 7.
Rahall, who is leading a congressional delegation to the Middle East that includes Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California) and Maurice Hinchey (Democrat, New York), said "Our mission is to build upon the strong relationships we have with the Syrian people, both on a personal basis and the bilateral relationships that exist between the Syrian and the American government. We hope to use our dialogue while in the country to open up the peace process once again."
Noting that this was his first visit to the region, Congressman Rohrabacher said he believes the people of the region are "heartsick for peace" and that "there is an opportunity today to further the cause of peace and to come, at last, to an understanding among the parties here in the region that will lead to a lasting peace."
"There have been a number of examples recently of a ... new fresh wind blowing across this part of the world," Congressman Hinchey said. "There are opportunities to sweep away some of the mistakes of the past, particularly the last two decades. And we hope that this opportunity will be taken advantage of and that we can move forward in a more positive way, both my country, your country, the other countries of this region...."
That trip was in 1998. Notice the 'new fresh wind' and all of that? Lots of 'hope & change' there and everyone was ready to 'make nice' after a couple of decades of having Israel being attacked, the triple bombings in Beirut against the US... yes, lets just sweep that all under the rug now! As for the most recent trip let see what Rep. Joe Pitts had to say on this:
"Dialogue is not a sign of weakness," Pitts said after returning home Wednesday. "It's a sign of strength."
"The first thing we said was … to appeal to the Syrian government to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq with (explosives) and killing our soldiers in Iraq," Pitts said. The Republicans also talked about stopping Syrian support of Hamas and Hezbollah and Syrian involvement in Lebanon, he said.
"He denied that there were terrorists that they knew about going through their country," Pitts said. "(The Syrians) said if you have evidence, give it to us, and we'll act on it.
"They were interested in diplomacy. They want respect. Basically, they feel we have talked down to them, and we don't treat them with civility and as an equal." (Thank you to the Lancaster Online for this 05 APR 2007 report!)
Why, Sen. Obama, aren't you stealing someone else's 'hope & change' ideas? All they want is a some respect and civility for breaking their agreements on WMD creation and proliferation of technology. A mere *nothing* to someone ready for all this 'hope & change' stuff, no?
The last man who went to talk to and appease a tyrant was Neville Chamberlain and our media lauded him as seen in this American Radio Account:
Now we know that Neville Chamberlain, who is a Realist and masterful man, has made up his mind that the time has come to give up attempts at ideal solutions to the European problems, such as through the League of Nations. To deal with facts, as he found them, and the two outstanding facts were the two dictators, Hitler and Moussolini. Both had grievances that had to be recognized and it's possible were right. Before Europe would turn over in bed and most dream comfortably. And Chamberlain told his Cabinet that he was going to settle this and on a Realist basis.Ah, such a great idea giving up attempts at 'ideal solutions' and just working with dictators and tyrants who have grievances and giving them what they want. Half-a-loaf and all that! Of course you dare not isolate a tyrant and dictator... why, that is just something that is far too civilized to even consider, as Arthur Henderson points out:
But to cut off relations with an aggressor may often invite retaliation by armed action, and this would, in its turn, make necessary some form of collective self-defence by the loyal members of the League.Yes, if you don't talk to dictators they just might get a bit irate and do something to you! Can't have that now, can we? Arthur Henderson died in 1935 before the outcomes of what that sort of mental attitude did to the world by the policies it created. Policies that sound something like this:
Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively. In seeking to influence the behavior of both countries, the United States has disincentives and incentives available. Iran should stem the flow of arms and training to Iraq, respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and use its influence over Iraqi Shia groups to encourage national reconciliation. The issue of Iran’s nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Syria should control its border with Iraq to stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.
Why, are you sure that Iran and Syria just haven't resorted to 'collective self-defense'? Wouldn't that be the lovely excuse to deploy about whey they feel so aggrieved in the world, Sen. Obama? That is, of course, from the Iraq Study Group report, page 7. Which was so enlightened and 'bi-partisan' that it recommends seeking to ask States that are exporting terrorism to destabilize a neighbor if they might, pretty please, think about not doing that? Unfortunately for the very high minded 'Realists' they cannot seem to deal with irrational leaders of Nations, which puts them in a bind when they run across same.
How about you, Sen. Obama? Just how do you deal with irrational world leaders that are in charge of Nations seeking to export terror, destruction and seek to dominate more and more of our globe? Because, somehow, as seeing the US as the *problem* in the world and wanting us to start disarming in the face of those seeking genocide and domination, I just don't see that attitude as coming to a good end. But that is history for you! Where the 'ideal solution' of wanting leaders of Nations to act in a responsible manner with other Nations just isn't 'Realistic'.
And not doing so is suicidal.