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January 12, 2007

Will We Create A Pretext For War With Iran?

Steve Clemons writes:

Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.

It's worth keeping several things in mind when you read this. First, this is exactly how the ground was laid for the attack on Iraq—beginning more than a year before the full-scale invasion. Second, the planning for Iraq included a (never-instituted) scheme to create a pretext for war if Saddam didn't supply a reason on his own.

This is from Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:

DB/Anabasis was the code name for an extensive covert operations plan that had been drawn up by the CIA to destabilize and ultimately topple the regime of Saddam Hussein...

Over an intense forty-five day period beginning in late 2001, [two CIA operatives] cooked up an audacious plan, unlike anything Langley had seen in years...

Anabasis was no-holds-barred covert action. It called for installing a small army of paramilitary CIA officers on the ground inside Iraq; for elaborate schemes to penetrate Saddam's regime; recruiting disgruntled military officers with buckets of cash; for feeing the regime disformation...for disrupting the regime's finances...for sabotage that included blowing up railroad lines...It also envisioned staging a phony incident that could be used to start a war. A small group of Iraqi exiles would be flown into Iraq by helicopter to seize an isolated military base near the Saudi border. They then would take to the airwaves and announce a coup was under way. If Saddam responded by flying troops south, his aircraft would be shot down by U.S. fighter planes patrolling the no-fly zones established by UN edict after the first Persian Gulf War. A clash of this sort could be used to initiate a full-scale war.

On February 16, 2002, President Bush signed covert findings authorizing the various elements of Anabasis. The leaders of the congressional intelligence committees—including Porter Goss, a Republican, and Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat—were briefed.

"The idea was to create an incident in which Saddam lashes out" [said CIA operative John McGuire]. If all went as planned, "you'd have a premise for war: we've been invited in."

Remember furthermore that Bush contemplated more schemes to create a pretext for war at an early 2003 summit with Blair:

During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times....

Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire...

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

Thus, it's by no means crazy to suspect something very similar may be going on right now in regard to Iran and/or Syria. Gosh, it sure would be nice if some reporters or members of Congress could look into this.

Posted at January 12, 2007 01:10 AM | TrackBack

Look into this? Why, color me skeptical -

"The leaders of the congressional intelligence committees—including Porter Goss, a Republican, and Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat—were briefed."

- but I think congress is in on this. As for reporters looking into this, I remember a post right here on atinyrevolution that spoke of the media working in conjunction with covert government agencies to ensure government/corporate secrecy and no public interference. In fact, it was written by you, Mr. Schwartz:

When I read stuff like this it makes me realize that we - the unwashed masses - have no idea how the world works. Why didn't Senator Graham try to subvert George's madness? Senator Graham knew what kind of a person Bush was, what kind of an ensamble Bush ran with... They worked backroom deals together. Graham knew what was up. This Iraq venture was/is business as usual. There will be no investigation by reporters or otherwise. Everyone involved was complicit. They weren't duped. They weren't stooges. Democrats and the media are everybit as to blame for this as republicans.

Posted by: A different matt at January 12, 2007 03:13 AM

Sorry: Mr. Schwarz, not "Schwartz." I totally meant to double check that before posting.

My apologies.

Posted by: A different matt at January 12, 2007 03:15 AM

remember the Maine!

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at January 12, 2007 04:18 AM

The tendrils of corporate control and greed are now so intertwined with the government that it has been nothing less than a revolution within the government by the government. It has become obvious that the democrats are broken reeds and are far too busy drooling over the prospect of having their palms greased by their corporate masters to bother about the wishes of their constituents. I would love to be shown that I am wrong here. And that would seem to leave us to what ever fate Mr. Bush has in store for us including an invasion of Iran and Syria leading to a nuclear holocaust. It is kind of ironic that we survived the cold war only to be annihilated by the oil companies. On the upside there is no need to go to the expense and time of making a will because there will no one left to leave your earthly belongings to.

Posted by: rob payne at January 12, 2007 04:43 AM

"remember the Maine!"
And the Alamo. And the Lusitania. And Pearl Harbor. And the Maddox and the Turner Joy. And the Kuwaiti incubators. And the 100,000 dead Kosovars. And Saddam's human wood chippers.

Posted by: Lloyd at January 12, 2007 06:36 AM

rob payne is correct, but how to chop off those intertwined tendrils?
Congress is a joke. Listening to them on NPR yesterday I was overcome by the weariness you feel after sitting through an academic or Rotary Club meting--one cliche after another, bloated Civics class phrases, commencement rhetoric, dull, dreary, meaningless drivel.
March on the Pentagon in March. OK, but betcha those contractors in Iraq aren't worried. The tendrils are firmly in place and only a major disaster could spring them loose. Who's going to inflict that on the Superpower? We're in the process of doing it to ourselves, but nothing better is likely to take the place of what we got. As an army, a population performs what it's been trained to do. Show me the money and the way to the nearest DVD store, or we'll die. (Sorry, Brecht) Maybe the latter.

Posted by: donescobar at January 12, 2007 08:32 AM


Remember the "Battle"
And the Boycott and the Vineyard and Tibbletint. And the Cage, and the Wrothmire and the Worthington. And something I like to call Pendelton's Razor Effect!
(Other's call it Helpersize's Plug Effect -but they are ridiculous!)

Posted by: Kentmistire Marshallmacktongribe at January 12, 2007 08:34 AM

Anyone seriously interested in exploring the labyrinths of the CIA cave would be well advised to read that wonderful book, "Four Hands", by the gifted Mexican author Paco Ignacio Taibo II. As in 2. St. Martin's Press, I seem to recall. Having read "Four Hands" will surely lead to a leisurely perusal of "Passing Through".

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at January 12, 2007 09:26 AM

Jesus Christ, Jon. How do you keep track of all this shit?

Three bombs went off in the Arabic minority section of Southern Iran yesterday. I know they did, but can't find a link to the story because I can't speak Farsi or Arabic. Yet.

Posted by: MarcLord at January 12, 2007 09:48 AM

i wish you coulda include a brief mention of the "Gleiwtiz incident"

... On the night of August 31, 1939 a small group of German operatives led by Naujocks seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a message in Polish that urged the Poles living in Silesia to strike against Germans. The Germans' goal was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of anti-German Polish saboteurs...

~ theDdoubleSstandard

Posted by: theDdoubleSstandard at January 12, 2007 02:15 PM

And the answer is:

We dont need no stinking pretext!

Posted by: donescobar at January 12, 2007 03:03 PM

Dammit. You people are depressing.

Isn't there an upside to this? Can't the glass be half full for once?

This needs to be scooped by Stewart/Colbert. Perhaps the bombshell that Colbert is going to reveal during his network swap next week.

Posted by: Ted at January 12, 2007 04:44 PM

Yeah. It's too bad the Daily Show and the Colbert Report wasn't on in August, 1939.

Posted by: Lloyd at January 12, 2007 06:36 PM


Try singing "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" from Monty Python's "The Life of Brian."
Inspiring, uplifting, a gas.

Posted by: donescobar at January 12, 2007 08:13 PM

Those CIA types must love sticking it to GWB. One of the possible references for "Anabasis" is the book by Xenophon about how a foreign army (Greek mercenaries) got stuck in Mesopotomia after getting involved in a Persian civil war, and how the army fought its way home through Asia Minor. (See )

But then the CIA was wrong about the fall of the USSR, etc.

Posted by: Douglas at January 13, 2007 12:33 AM

The original Greek expedition in Xenophon's Anabasis - an invasion of Iran - was a failure.

Posted by: KH at January 14, 2007 07:28 PM


Allow me to disagree with your assessment.

In the version of Anabasis that I have read (via ), Cyrus (younger brother of the Persian king, Artaxerxes) led an army from Asia Minor (now Turkey) along with Greek mercenaries on the pretext that the Persian satrap (Tissaphernes) was planning to attack their home cities (book I). Cyrus' real intent was to overthrow his brother and install himself as king.

Cyrus was killed at the battle of Cunaxa (north of Babylon) after his army had won the battle. (Book VIII).

So Cyrus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as it were.

Cyrus' army was stuck near Babylon surrounded by Persians. Then the fun started.

Posted by: Douglas at January 15, 2007 05:12 AM

Will the administration try to create a pretext for the invasion of Iran?

Is the pope catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods?

Posted by: Geeno at January 15, 2007 09:00 AM

Why create a pretext?

In a country of brainwash retards for whom History is Hollywood blockbuster propaganda, what need is to make a "pretext"?

Looking back a few years ago, was it really that hard to sell Afghanistan or Iraq? Was it hard to sell Serbia? Vietnam?

All they need is a week of "zomgterroristsislamofascistsnukesgiuzz" on all TV, Radio, Web and Printed Press and you all jump the wagon.

Since the invasion of Iraq has any of you DONE anything - part from blogging and retarded dubaya jokes - to prove the people in AmeriKKKa AREN'T legitimate targets for a retaliation?

If it's all Bush/Cheney/Shit's fault, how come it's still rolling in the "beacon of DEMOCRACY"? Looking back in retrospect of your history and warfare, was there any time when the people actually put the brakes in? Vietnam? Yeah, great win for the hippies! The glorious anti-war movement of the 60s... Tell that to the millions of vietnamese melted with Napalm and Agent Orange. Tell that to all the babies born every single year with horrible mutations caused by Agent Orange... What can I say... Hippies stopped the war, and it only took some Half-Jewish-Holocaust amount of asians to do it. Wonder how many arabas and muslims will it take, in fractions of Jewish-Holocaust to stop this one, or the next one...

You are pathological. The only way to stop you is to show you all what WAR means. Not CNN and FOX propaganda, not bullshit Hollywood special effects or blogosphere revolutionaries, but hard real war. Like an actual attack on your country. Have a couple of cities leveled and THEN we'll see how much you gun totting rednecks like war and give a fuck about it.

Posted by: at January 16, 2007 05:33 AM


A bit wide of the topic, but I watched a special on Cyrus a week or so ago. In it, it stated that he was an admired ruler, and that even the Jewish population looked up to him, and that in the Torah, it labels him "The Messiah" (actually, they used the Hebrew word for Messiah, which I can't recall now).

Interesting historical tidbit to chew on.

Posted by: farang at January 17, 2007 09:40 AM


I think you are confusing Cyrus the Great (559 BC — 529 BC) (see ) with Cyrus the Younger (died 401 BC) (see ).

The former was most likely the subject of the TV series you saw, whereas the latter is the usurper of Xenophon's Anabasis.

The usurpation of Cyrus the Younger could be another sting behind the choice of the word "Anabasis" especially in light of GWB ascension to the Presidency.

This is a nice detour while we wait to "[h]ave a couple of cities leveled and THEN we'll see how much you gun totting rednecks like war and give a fuck about it."

Posted by: Douglas at January 18, 2007 03:24 AM