Bush’s Last Hurrah? Record Arms Sales, War in Pakistan and More Threats to Iran

While Fundilicious Palin has been soaking up the airwaves, the Bush team has been ever so busy with their Going Out of Business sales: big deals for friendly arms merchants, a war in Pakistan – and at best upping the pressure, at worst preparing an attack on Iran. Fun times, eh?

Let’s start with Iran. Over the past several years many of us have worried about an attack on Iran. We don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf, but we also better not ignore the signs – whether they point towards imminent war or a more subtle but no less disastrous direction.

After all, George Bush has – according to Seymour Hersch

on more than one occasion vowed not to leave the White House with Iran’s nuclear program still intact.

Several recent news stories are worrisome. From Asia Times Online, 9/13/08:

The United States government has imposed new sanctions on Iran, this time targeting its shipping industry, by blacklisting the main shipping line and 18 subsidiaries, accusing the maritime carrier of being engaged in contraband nuclear material, a charge vehemently denied by Iran.

While the economic impact of the measures against Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) will be minimal … this latest US initiative against Iran sends a strong signal about the US’s intention to escalate pressure on Iran, even unilaterally if need be.

Haaretz, 9/14/08:

Despite reservations in Washington regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran, the American administration will supply Israel with sophisticated weapons for heavily fortified targets, the U.S. administration announced…

The Pentagon’s announcement, which came on Friday, said the U.S. will provide Israel with 1,000 units of Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39) – a special weapon developed for penetrating fortified facilities located deep underground.

The $77 million shipment, which includes launchers and appurtenances, will allow the IAF to hit many more bunkers than currently possible. Although each bomb weighs 113 kilograms, its penetration capabilities equal those of a one ton bomb, according to professional literature.

(Note that just a week ago, Pat Lang was hoping that the refusal at that point of the US to agree to Israeli demands – including their request for these bombs, suggested that the saner heads in the military had won over the Cheney cabal – does the new sale point to approval of the other Israeli demands?)

And for some of us, most worrying of all, a report from the Jersusalem Post on 9/1/08:

The Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, has called off an operation aimed at infiltrating and sabotaging Iran’s weapons industry due to an assessment that a US attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is imminent, according to a report in the country’s De Telegraaf newspaper on Friday.

The report claimed that the Dutch operation had been "extremely successful," and had been stopped because the US military was planning to hit targets that were "connected with the Dutch espionage action."

The impending air-strike on Iran was to be carried out by unmanned aircraft "within weeks," the report claimed, quoting "well placed" sources.

While Jpost notes it cannot confirm this report, De Telegraaf is a very reputable Dutch paper not given to wild hunches. Whether this report is a warning to Iran or an actual intelligence leak, Kaveh L Afrasiabi in the Asia Times Online rightly notes:

The outgoing George W Bush administration is slowly but surely taking strident actions that will effectively tie the hands of the next US president, particularly if that happens to be Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama, who in the past has expressed an interest in direct dialogue with Tehran.

Should the new sanctions prove as catalysts for more aggressive US actions against Iran in international waters or the Persian Gulf, as called for by some members of US Congress seeking the interdiction of Iranian cargo ships, then by the time Bush’s successor takes over at the Oval Office next January, the climate in US-Iran hostility may have degenerated to such depths that it would take a monumental effort to undo what appears to be Bush’s last hurrah.

While George is turning up the heat on Iran, he’s also authorized attacks on Pakistan – a move that Bernard at Moon of Alabama reminds us is:

This is an open declaration of war against Pakistan.

The commander of Pakistan’s armed forces understood that and promises to fight back:

"The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost and no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan," [Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani] said.

That grave sentence is the last one in the AP report.

Have the people of the United States understood what Bush is doing here?

He just started a war with a nuclear armed nation of some 170 million people….

General Kayani just announced layed down a marker: "The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost."

It is time for people to understand what "all cost" includes. People may be more familiar with the term "all options are on the table." That is, what I think, Kayani meant.

While Bush is apparently determined to leave a legacy worthy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, he’s also making sure his friends at the major arms merchants get a final goody bag in case a President Obama is less willing to line their pockets:

NEW YORK: The Bush administration is pushing through a wide range of foreign weapons deals in a bid to rearm Iraq and Afghanistan and contain North Korea and Iran, The New York Times reported.

The deals range from tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and warships, the Times said in its Sunday editions. The weapons and other military equipment foreign sales have totaled more than $32 billion in 2008, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

While the focus has been on the Middle East, sales extend to northern Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Canada, the Times said.

"This is not about being gunrunners," the Times quoted Bruce Lemkin, the Air Force deputy undersecretary who has coordinated many of the largest sales, as saying. "This is about building a more secure world."

Gosh, I feel more secure already.

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