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US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack

Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter, Washington

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

The Iranian paradox: to gain victory the West must first concede defeat “There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.

The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair that it would not “be right to take military action against Iran”.

Iran ignored a United Nations deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment programme last week. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that his country “will not withdraw from its nuclear stances even one single step”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran could soon produce enough enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs a year, although Tehran claims its programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.

Nicholas Burns, the top US negotiator, is to meet British, French, German, Chinese and Russian officials in London tomorrow to discuss additional penalties against Iran. But UN diplomats cautioned that further measures would take weeks to agree and would be mild at best.

A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week, doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned: “The US will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or US troops come under direct attack.”

But General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.

Pace’s view was backed up by British intelligence officials who said the extent of the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”.

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

“He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said. “It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.”

Mann fears the administration is seeking to provoke Iran into a reaction that could be used as an excuse for an attack. A British official said the US navy was well aware of the risks of confrontation and was being “seriously careful” in the Gulf.

The US air force is regarded as being more willing to attack Iran. General Michael Moseley, the head of the air force, cited Iran as the main likely target for American aircraft at a military conference earlier this month.

According to a report in The New Yorker magazine, the Pentagon has already set up a working group to plan airstrikes on Iran. The panel initially focused on destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been instructed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.

However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war.

Britain is concerned that its own troops in Iraq might be drawn into any American conflict with Iran, regardless of whether the government takes part in the attack.

One retired general who participated in the “generals’ revolt” against Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war said he hoped his former colleagues would resign in the event of an order to attack. “We don’t want to take another initiative unless we’ve really thought through the consequences of our strategy,” he warned.

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February 19, 2007

by Oleg Shchedrov

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's military is capable of firing missiles at Poland and the Czech Republic if they agreed to host a U.S. missile shield, Russia's Strategic Forces commander said, but added it was for the Kremlin to decide.

President Vladimir Putin has described Washington's plans to deploy elements of its Missile Defense System in the two central European states as a threat to Russia's national security which would damage the strategic balance of forces on the continent.

"So far we have seen nothing being done, only intentions being talked about," General Nikolai Solovtsov told a news conference on Monday.

"But should the Polish and Czech governments decide (to host the U.S. missile shield), the strategic missile forces will be capable of having these installations as their targets if a relevant political decision were made," he added.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai, responding to the general's comments, said in a statement: "The days of talk of targeting NATO territory or vice versa are long past us. This kind of extreme language is out of date and uncalled for."

In early 1990s, post-Soviet Russia announced its missiles were no longer targeted at NATO countries. Analysts said then the announcement, which could not be independently verified, was a purely symbolic gesture ending the Cold War hostility.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have soured since NATO's expansion eastward and the announcement of the U.S. missile plans.

Russia distrusts U.S. assurances the European missile shield is meant to avert possible attacks from countries such as Iran or North Korea and says it believes it is the real target.

In a speech this month which smacked of the Cold War to Western ears, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington of seeking to impose its will on the world.

Putin later said his speech at a security conference in Munich was intended to flag Russia's independent foreign policy rather than to revive confrontation with the West.

Solovtsov said Russia's resurgent military industrial complex was strong enough to produce a new generation of missiles, which could penetrate the U.S. missile umbrella.

He said massive investment in the military industrial complex under Putin made possible the creation of new weapons to match the U.S. project.

“Missile producers- that is around 500 enterprises- will be capable to meet any tasks in the next few years," he said.

Solovtsov said missile factories could produce in few years a new supersonic missile invisible to the U.S. missile shield or restart production of intermediate range missiles, if Moscow decided to quit a 1987 pact with Washington banning them.

"Russia is ready for any scenario now," he said, reiterating several times during the news conference that the military would only follow decisions by politicians.

Solovtsov rejected suggestions that the row over the U.S. missiles in Europe could restart an expensive arms race.

"During the Cold War we competed by boosting the number of missiles, launching pads," Solovtsov said.

"I do not think we will go again along this path. We can now solve the task through quality of weapons, rather than through their quantity."

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United States concerned at military build up in China

China National News

Sunday 4th March, 2007

(Luis Ramirez )

The United States is calling on China to be more transparent on its military buildup.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte made the call in Beijing Sunday after Chinese officials announced they plan to boost their military spending by nearly 18 percent to $45 billion this year.

Negroponte met with Chinese officials as part of a three-nation Asian tour that began Friday in Japan. On the agenda have been discussions on ensuring that North Korea meets an upcoming deadline on declaring its nuclear activities as it agreed to do in negotiations last month.

Overshadowing Negroponte's stop in Beijing was China's announcement that it plans to boost its defense budget by 17.8 percent this year. The U.S. official voiced Washington's concern over what he said is China's lack of transparency as it upgrades its military.

'It is not so much the budget and the increases, as much as it is understanding those questions better through dialogue and transparency,' he said.

Negroponte said more discussions are needed between Pentagon officials and Chinese military authorities.

'We would like to see those intensified so that we can have a better grasp of what exactly the Chinese have in mind,' added Negroponte.

China has pointed hundreds of missiles at democratically ruled Taiwan, which the Communist government in Beijing claims as part of its territory. Washington has expressed concern over China's threats to reunite Taiwan by force if necessary.

China on Sunday warned the United States not to allow a deal to sell missiles to Taiwan, saying Washington should not signal support for those on the island who want formal independence.

Negroponte said the provision of defensive weapons to Taiwan is consistent with Washington's accords with China.

The Deputy Secretary of State later heads to South Korea, where discussions are expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear issue.

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Walter Reed Is a Second Hell for Injured Vets

By Brady van Engelen, HuffingtonPost.com.

I served in Iraq and survived being shot in the head.

I came back to Walter Reed and survived a different kind of hell.

The Washington Post's articles exposing the conditions of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has prompted much media attention. The attention is refreshing for those of us who have long been appalled by this neglect and betrayal by the government.

After I was shot, I was no longer of any use to the U.S. Military, and they made that very apparent. The conditions I witnessed during my eight months at Walter Reed, when I lived in Building 38, which is comparable to the now-infamous Building 18, made it clear that the care I had been guaranteed in return for my sacrifice was an empty promise.

Our wars have been void of any political accountability and -- as usual -- media attention has not prompted any meaningful political action. It has been announced that there will be "investigations" into conditions at Walter Reed. This is insulting. Anything short of calling for the immediate resignation of those responsible for this care is insulting.

I am tired of our President, his Cabinet, and Members of Congress ducking accountability and proposing hollow legislation that does nothing to affect the status quo.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced that it was up to those who "work on the other side of the river" to get the bottom of the mess at Walter Reed -- Excuse me? I served in Iraq at the orders of the President -- my Commander in Chief. I will not sit by and allow our President and his Press Secretary to punt responsibility over to the Pentagon when the pressure begins to mount. It is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief to ensure that we are properly cared for before we fight, as we fight, and when we come home.

Walter Reed has been the quintessential campaign stop/photo-op for countless elected officials since the start of our most wars. They have already seen this first hand and have chosen to ignore it.

Congress also needs a reality check. The solutions offered to date have been nothing more than hollow, quick fixes.

The system we have in place is broken.

We cannot fix this system by simply throwing money at it. Instead, we need to completely overhaul the existing, antiquated programs that ignore the specific needs of our newest generation of veterans.

A system designed for World War II veterans or a 19-year-old GI can never be sufficiently adequate or comprehensive to meet the needs of a 33-year-old guardsman or any of the 16,000 single mothers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are extremely violent, and it is certain that more of us will return home with irrevocable physical and mental injuries.

Less 0.5% of the US population has served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- we represent too small a portion of the US population to fight for change alone. The American public needs to step up. They have indicated their discontent for the war in Iraq and now it's time for them to make clear their disgust with the way America treats service members.

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The Bush Administration has systematically removed US Attorneys

In recent weeks, a series of news stories have emerged that paint a disturbing picture: the Bush Administration has systematically removed US Attorneys who were leading corruption investigations into public officials. And it's happened in as many as eight or nine cases.

Write to your Senators and Representative to demand that Congress get to the bottom of this story and insulate US Attorneys from political interference.

Among other tasks, United States Attorneys are responsible for investigating and prosecuting elected officials for public corruption. As you can imagine, these investigations are at once politically-charged and critical to holding government accountable. But in recent months, the Bush Administration has replaced US Attorneys like Carol Lam of San Diego, who put Duke Cunningham behind bars.

Take action now to prevent these firings from continuing. Write to Congress to ensure that US Attorneys can do their jobs to root out corruption, regardless of partisan politics.

Hearings start today in Congress to get to the bottom of these stories. Former US Attorneys from all over the country have been subpoenaed. It is critical that Congress hear from you that continued political interference won't be tolerated.

Thanks,

David Donnelly National Campaigns Director

P.S. To learn more, read through TPM Muckraker’s extensive coverage of this developing story.

P.P.S. Help us keep up our work to hold Congress accountable with a donation today!

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