- Sign Up
JFP 6/23: Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 23 June 2010 - 7:35pm
Just Foreign Policy News
June 23, 2010
Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall
On April 13, 2002, an event occurred in Venezuela which was as world-historical for South America as the fall of the Berlin Wall was for Eastern Europe: a U.S.-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela collapsed. The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President Chavez was world-historical for South America because it sent a powerful new signal about the limits of the ability of the United States to thwart popular democracy in the region. Following the reversal of the U.S.-backed coup, a succession of presidents were elected across South America promising to reverse the disastrous economic policies promoted by Washington. The story of this dramatic transformation has been largely untold in the United States. But on Friday, Oliver Stone's new documentary, "South of the Border" opens in New York.
Media Matters mp3: Bob McChesney talks with co-writer and JFP President Mark Weisbrot about "South of the Border"
Is "South of the Border" coming to your town?
Tom Andrews: 3 Things You Missed in Rolling Stone's McChrystal Profile
Michael Hastings' piece is about more than an adolescent general. It was about the disconnect between how the administration portrays the war in public and the reality of how the war is actually being waged. Here are three points in the Rolling Stone article that contradict what the White House has presented about the war in Afghanistan: instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further; McChrystal's Chief of Operations described the war as unwinnable; if Americans knew what was going on, the war would become even less popular.
97 House Members are on the McGovern bill
97 Reps. have co-sponsored the McGovern bill, calling for a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, four short of our goal of 101. Is your Representative among them?
If not, ask your Rep. to co-sponsor:
Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial support allows us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and to create opportunities for Americans to advocate for U.S. policies that are more just.
1) President Obama accepted the resignation of Gen. McChrystal as the commander of the war in Afghanistan, McClatchy reports. The president turned to Gen. Petraeus to command the war. Obama stressed that the change of command didn't mean a change in policy.
2) Six NATO soldiers were killed in attacks in Afghanistan Wednesday, bringing to 75 the number of foreign troops who have died in Afghanistan this month, AFP reports. The deaths made it nearly certain June would be the worst month for NATO casualties since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.
3) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's national security adviser said the push for Palestinian statehood has weakened Israel's standing in the world, the Washington Post reports. Uzi Arad described the Palestinians as "major actors in the delegitimization of Israel" and questioned Israel's decision to back talks on Palestinian statehood. Arad also argued that new U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran are inadequate to thwart its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary, he said.
4) Defying a warning from Washington, Pakistan's prime minister promised to go ahead with a plan to import natural gas from Iran, even if the U.S. levies additional sanctions against Iran, AP reports. Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan would reconsider the deal if it violated U.N. sanctions, but the country was "not bound to follow" unilateral U.S. measures.
5) Lebanon says it will hold Israel responsible for any attack against blockade-busting aid ships planning to sail to Gaza in coming days, AP reports.
6) Iran said it would send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza, AP reports. Iran's state television reported that an Iranian ship called "Infants of Gaza" would sail Sunday for Gaza carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists. Egypt said it would not prevent the Iranian ship from passing through the Suez Canal. International Mideast envoy Tony Blair told Gaza businesspeople and civic leaders he expected the amount of goods entering Gaza to nearly triple within weeks. Gazans say they need far more than that. Blair expressed concern about whether Israel would allow exports, largely banned under the blockade. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told AP: "Exports will be expanded further down the road." Blair's audience was skeptical of Israel's promises, and some told the envoy consumer goods weren't the answer to Gaza's problems. "We are not in need of more ketchup or mayonnaise," said civic leader Amjad Shawa. "We need our freedom."
7) Fourteen suspected Taliban prisoners have been released in Afghanistan after their cases were reviewed as part of the plan approved by the peace jirga, Reuters reports. Twelve prisoners were freed from U.S. detention in Bagram. Hundreds of suspected militant prisoners without access to lawyers or other rights have been languishing in jails run by foreign and Afghan forces for years. There are around 1,000 prisoners being held at foreign military detention centers in Afghanistan, more than 800 of those at Bagram.
8) President Karzai's office said the UN has agreed to remove Taliban members who renounce ties to al Qaeda from a U.N. blacklist on a "gradual" basis, Reuters reports. At least five of those named on the 137-name list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners. A statement summarizing the peace jirga had urged the Afghan government and foreign powers to "take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed from the consolidated blacklist."
9) Some analysts fear the aggressive rhetoric between Israel and Iran could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, the Christian Science Monitor reports. "The real fear is that someone will get carried away by his own rhetoric and fear-mongering," says Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Israel's overall political shift to the right means comments such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent statement that Iran currently "does not pose an existential threat" are increasingly rare. "When you have that kind of political environment, you are leaving yourself no space to find another solution," says Trita Parsi. "You may very well end up in a situation where you are propelled to act, even though you understand it is an unwise action, but [do so] for political reasons."
10) Observers say Iran has already done much to deflect the impact of new U.S. sanctions, the Washington Post reports. Iran has over the past four years reduced its dependence on foreign imports of refined oil products from 40 percent of its domestic needs to just under 30 percent, according to analysts. The government is seeking to reduce that figure further by expanding its capacity to refine its own oil, experimenting with alternative fuels and cutting consumption by eliminating subsidies on gasoline.
11) A retired police major was deposed by the Colombian attorney general's office after he accused President Uribe's brother of having led a right-wing paramilitary group in the early 1990s, the Washington Post reports. Juan Carlos Meneses, the former police official, told the Post in May that Santiago Uribe had led an illegal militia in the town of Yarumal that killed guerrilla sympathizers and suspected rebels. Officials in the attorney general's office said Meneses's declaration would be evaluated to determine if a long-dormant case against Uribe could be reopened.
1) Obama fires Gen. McChrystal, installs Gen. Petraeus
Margaret Talev and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers, Wed, Jun. 23, 2010
Washington - President Barack Obama on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the commander of the war in Afghanistan. "It is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.
The president turned to Army Gen. David Petraeus to command the war. Petraeus, who led the Iraq war in 2007 and 2008, is now the head of the U.S. Central Command, which handles military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. Obama stressed that the change of command didn't mean a change in policy, noting that Petraeus was a supporter of the counterinsurgency strategy that McChrystal recommended and the president adopted last year.
2) NATO troop deaths in Afghanistan approach grim record
AFP, June 23, 2010
Kabul - Six NATO soldiers were killed in attacks in Afghanistan on Wednesday, alliance forces said, bringing to 75 the number of foreign troops who have died in the troubled nation this month.
The deaths of one British marine and five other soldiers, whose nationalities were not released, made it nearly certain June would be the worst month for NATO casualties since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.
The British marine was killed in a small arms fire in Helmand province, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan, the UK defence ministry said in statement.
Four other soldiers died in homemade bomb attacks - two in the south, one in the east and one in the west - while one soldier died in an accident on patrol in western Afghanistan NATO announced in Kabul.
The deadliest month for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the nine-year war occurred in August last year, when 77 soldiers were killed.
So far 295 NATO troops have died this year, according to AFP tallies based on the independent icasualties.org website.
3) Adviser to Israel's Netanyahu questions Mideast peace effort, new Iran sanctions
Janine Zacharia, Washington Post, Wednesday, June 23, 2010; A06
Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's national security adviser said Tuesday that the push for Palestinian statehood has weakened Israel's standing in the world, and he suggested that the outlook is bleak for U.S.-mediated negotiations in the region.
Uzi Arad, central in the crafting of Israel's stance on the Palestinians and on Iran's nuclear program, also argued that new U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran are inadequate to thwart its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary, he said.
Arad's comments, made to a gathering in Jerusalem of the Jewish Agency, a body that promotes Jewish immigration to Israel, illustrated the challenges President Obama faces in laying the groundwork for peace talks, as well as reassuring an increasingly impatient Israel that the United States can stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Obama is to meet with Netanyahu in Washington on July 6.
"The creation of a Palestinian state remains the choice of many," Arad said. "But in the process, have you failed to notice that the more we lend legitimacy to a Palestinian state, the more it comes at the expense of our own?"
Arad described the Palestinians as "major actors in the delegitimization of Israel" and questioned Israel's decision to back talks on Palestinian statehood. "In trying to make peace" via the indirect U.S.-led talks, "we are embracing an adversary who is conducting a very effective battle against us internationally," he said, though he added that Israel still aspires to peace with the Palestinians and Syria.
4) Pakistani PM ignores US warning on Iran gas deal, AP, June 23, 2010
Sebastian Abbot, Associated Press, Tuesday, June 22, 2010; 10:36 PM
Islamabad - Defying a warning from Washington, Pakistan's prime minister promised to go ahead with a plan to import natural gas from Iran, even if the U.S. levies additional sanctions against the Mideast country.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's comments Tuesday came two days after the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, cautioned Pakistan not to "overcommit" itself to the deal because it could run afoul of new sanctions against Iran being finalized by Congress.
The deal has been a constant source of tension between the two countries, with Pakistan arguing it is vital to its ability to cope with an energy crisis, and the U.S. stressing it would undercut international pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
Gilani said Pakistan would reconsider the deal if it violated U.N. sanctions, but the country was "not bound to follow" unilateral U.S. measures. He said media reports that quoted him as saying Pakistan would heed Holbrooke's warning were incorrect.
Pakistan and Iran finalized the gas deal earlier this month. Under the contract, Iran will export 760 million cubic feet (21.5 million cubic meters) of gas per day to Pakistan through a new pipeline beginning in 2014. The construction of the pipeline is estimated to cost some $7 billion.
While U.S. officials have expressed opposition to the deal, Washington acknowledges that Pakistan faces a severe energy crisis and has made aid to the energy sector one if its top development priorities. Electricity shortages in Pakistan cause rolling blackouts that affect businesses and intensify suffering during the hot summer months.
U.S. opposition to the gas deal has also been tempered by Washington's reliance on Pakistani cooperation to fight al-Qaida and Taliban militants staging attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
5) Lebanon warns Israel against attacking ships
AP, Wed Jun 23, 8:34 am ET
Beirut - Lebanon says it will hold Israel responsible for any attack against blockade-busting aid ships planning to sail to Gaza in coming days.
Two ships carrying aid are planning to make the trip to Gaza. Lebanese authorities have so far granted one of them permission to sail first to Cyprus and not directly to Gaza because Lebanon and Israel are technically at war.
A Lebanese official says Lebanon has sent a letter to the U.N. holding Israel responsible for any attack on the ships and that it cannot stop ships from leaving its ports if they comply with its law.
6) Iran to send blockade-busting ship to Gaza,
Amy Teibel, AP, June 22, 2010
Jerusalem - Iran said Tuesday it would send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza, fueling concern in Israel, where commandos were training for another possible confrontation at sea.
Israel warned archenemy Iran to drop the plan. The Iranian announcement came days after Israel eased its three-year-old blockade of Gaza under international pressure following its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last month.
Egypt had joined Israel in blockading Gaza, but it opened its land crossing with the territory indefinitely after the May raid to let thousands of Palestinians through. Egyptian transportation official Mohammad Abdelwahab suggested his country was ready to back off the naval blockade as well.
He said Egypt would not prevent the Iranian ship from passing through the Suez Canal, a strategic passageway that connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea that Gaza borders. "As long as the ship is not at war with Egypt and doesn't pollute the air, water or land, then it will be allowed to cross," Abdelwahab said.
Iran's state television reported that an Iranian ship called "Infants of Gaza" would sail Sunday for Gaza carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists.
International Mideast envoy Tony Blair has been at the forefront of global efforts to ease the Israeli blockade, and on Tuesday, he told Gaza businesspeople and civic leaders that he expected the amount of goods entering Gaza to nearly triple within weeks. Gazans say they need far more than that.
Israel has agreed in principle to reopen land crossings so more cargo can move through, and limited quantities of construction materials will be allowed in, he said. But it wasn't clear how freely Palestinians would be able to move in and out of their territory, he added. "Some of this will be resolved satisfactorily, and some of this will be a struggle, frankly," Blair told the group by video link from Jerusalem.
Blair also expressed concern about whether Israel would allow exports, largely banned under the blockade. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told The Associated Press: "Exports will be expanded further down the road."
Blair's audience was skeptical of Israel's promises, and some told the envoy that consumer goods weren't the answer to Gaza's problems. "We are not in need of more ketchup or mayonnaise," said civic leader Amjad Shawa. "We need our freedom."
7) Taliban suspects released after Afghan jirga deal
Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters, Mon Jun 21
Kabul - Fourteen suspected Taliban prisoners have been released in Afghanistan after their cases were reviewed as part of a peace deal that seeks to win over insurgent foot soldiers, an official said on Monday.
Twelve prisoners were freed from U.S. detention in Bagram while two would-be suicide bombers were released from Afghan custody, said deputy attorney general Fazl Ahmad Faqiryar.
The decision to review the cases came after a "jirga," or gathering, of Afghan tribal leaders and other notables earlier this month approved a plan by President Hamid Karzai to seek a peace deal with moderate elements of the Taliban, who have waged an insurgency since being overthrown in 2001.
Among other things, the plan called for the cases of all prisoners in Afghan jails, including Taliban suspects, to be re-examined, with allegations that many were imprisoned on false charges or by flimsy evidence.
"The releases are in pursuance of the implementation of the peace jirga's resolution," Faqiryar told Reuters. "Twelve were freed from Bagram and the other two from the interior ministry."
He said those released from Bagram had been captured separately across the country while the other two - one a Pakistani and both aged under 18 - were suicide bombers who surrendered before carrying out their mission.
Hundreds of suspected militant prisoners without access to lawyers or other rights, have been languishing in jails run by foreign and Afghan forces for years.
While Karzai's order to review prisoners' cases, based on the jirga's proposals, only referred to the roughly 15,000 detainees in Afghan jails, the U.S. military has said the review would also apply to U.S. military prisons.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul last week, the deputy commander for U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan, Brigadier General Mark Martins, said 25 prisoners at the U.S. Bagram prison would be released "soon" in coordination with Karzai's new committee set up to review detainees' cases.
Since January, 114 prisoners have been released from Bagram under a new system, detention review boards, set up by Washington last year allowing detainees' hearings to contest their detention and military "personal representatives" who are not lawyers.
However, in a marked shift in U.S. detention policy after years of international criticism, the U.S. military allowed the first Afghan detainees at Bagram to stand trial before an Afghan judge and with Afghan defense lawyers.
There are around 1,000 prisoners being held at foreign military detention centers in Afghanistan, more than 800 of those at Bagram, north of the capital.
8) U.N. to remove Taliban from blacklist: Karzai
Hamid Shalizi, Reuters Tue Jun 22, 9:26 am ET
Kabul - The United Nations has agreed to remove Taliban members who renounce ties to al Qaeda from a U.N. blacklist on a "gradual" basis, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said on Tuesday.
Senior diplomats from the 15-nation U.N. Security Council were in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, following a call for a review of the names of Taliban figures on its sanction list at a peace conference in Kabul earlier this month. "The president asked the U.N. delegates to remove Taliban members from their blacklist and the delegates agreed to do so gradually and provided the members had no links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups," Karzai's palace said in a statement.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 freezes assets and limits travel of senior figures linked to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, but recent Afghan efforts to engage some insurgents in diplomacy have raised doubts about who should be on the list.
At least five of those named on the 137-name list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan held a three day peace "jirga," or conference, in a bid to find a national consensus on ways to end a violent insurgency that has dragged on for almost nine years.
A statement summarizing the June 2-4 meeting of 1,600 tribal and religious leaders in Kabul urged the Afghan government and foreign powers to "take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed from the consolidated blacklist."
9) Why Iran vs. Israel rhetoric could escalate into war
Iran and Israel traded verbal barbs this week, with a former Israeli intelligence chief calling for a preemptive military strike against Iran. Analysts worry that both sides could get carried away and find themselves at war.
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 2010
Tel Aviv, Israel; and Istanbul, Turkey - The Israeli drumbeat for a military strike against Iran's nuclear program grew louder this week as former intelligence chief Shabtai Shavit said the Jewish state must not "sit idly and wait until the enemy comes to attack you."
"Since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of preemption and not of retaliation," Mr. Shavit told a conference at the hawkish Bar Ilan University on Monday.
Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran have long been arch-foes. But these enemies have grown in their ignorance, misperceptions, and demonization of each other - and have thereby dangerously raised the risk of escalation to direct conflict, analysts say. That has raised jitters in Washington, with Israel's closest ally warning against a unilateral attack that would inevitably draw in US forces already overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The real fear is that someone will get carried away by his own rhetoric and fear-mongering," says Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "But if you are going to get anything out of this, you have to make the impression that this [first-strike] is not impossible. You can't take the option off the table. Why should you?"
Israel's overall political shift to the right means comments such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent statement that Iran currently "does not pose an existential threat" are increasingly rare.
"When you have that kind of political environment, you are leaving yourself no space to find another solution," says Trita Parsi, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. "You may very well end up in a situation where you are propelled to act, even though you understand it is an unwise action, but [do so] for political reasons."
Haggai Ram, an Iran specialist at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, agrees. "Being a historian, I know how things get out of control, how all of a sudden there is a dynamic you can't control and you find yourself in a war," says Dr. Ram. "The rhetoric from both sides, because it is so intensive, and involves so many emotions ... can just become reality."
A number of Israeli experts on Iran reckon the actual threat from Tehran is limited - even non-existent - "but nobody ever listens to them; you don't see them in the headlines," says Dr. Van Creveld. "Most Israelis - because they are really afraid, or as a matter of policy - reinforce each others' fears."
Those fears have been near the top of Israel's strategic calculations for many years, and often rank higher than ongoing conflict with Palestinians, and the Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. Top Israeli officials say that Iran's nuclear program - which Tehran says is for peaceful energy production - presents an "existential" threat.
The result is skewed calculations, analysts say, that could inadvertently lead to war. "Since the mid-1990s, there has been a policy of seeking to portray Iran as a very significant threat to the region and the world, partly to motivate the West - particularly the US - to take a hard line against Iran," says Dr. Parsi.
"A lot of people in Israel who had dealings with Iran in the 1980s, and obviously extensively in the 1970s, who know the country quite well, are less and less in the bureaucracy," says Parsi, author of The Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States. "That distance between actual understanding, and the [Iran-threat] talking points that were used externally ... creates a very dangerous situation for Israel, because it turns the threat from Iran into a self-fulfilling prophecy."
But Ram points out that the hard-line rhetoric goes in both directions. "It's two-dimensional: one side always provokes the other side, and vice versa; it's a dialogue," says the historian, author of Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession. "So when [Iran's President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad says he would wish the death of the 'Zionist occupying regime,' it is in essence not different from when [Israeli President Shimon] Peres or another Israeli functionary says that we should bring an end to the Iranian regime."
Reuven Pedatzur, head of a strategic dialogue center at Netanya Academic College, analyzed seven options for Israel at an Iran seminar last week. "Most of them are bad, and one which is less bad - and eventually we will have to adopt it - is open nuclear deterrence," says Mr. Pedatzur, a long-time critic of missile defense, saying it is "irrelevant" in the case of a nuclear attack.
Israel should declare its own nuclear arsenal, and spell out the "rules of the game" to Iran, says Pedatzur. "The main rule would be ... 'You should know what will happen if we detect one missile going westward from Iran. We are not going to wait to see whether it's [nuclear], automatically we are going to launch our missiles and destroy Qom, Tehran, Tabriz, Esfahan, and so on.'" If that were clear, Pedatzur believes Tehran would be deterred. "I don't see any Iranian national interest that justifies destroying Iran, just for killing 200,000 Zionists," he says.
Van Creveld has also argued for such nuclear deterrence. In 1997, he told the Monitor that "when Mao and Stalin acquired nuclear weapons, they calmed down," and that if Iran were to ever acquire nuclear weapons "the effect will be the same" because "war ceases to be fun. It becomes suicide."
The historian believes that deterrence can work in a country where some have argued that Iran is irrational, and can't be deterred. He says former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked him whether "we [Israelis] had not taken this too far, to the point where it was doing more harm than good," by "frightening ourselves." Nuclear deterrence "has worked elsewhere in every single place around the world," says Van Creveld. "So why not in the Middle East?"
10) Iran is ready for planned U.S. sanctions on fuel, analysts say
Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch, Washington Post, June 23, 2010; 3:09 PM
Tehran - As Congress prepares to target Iran's vital fuel imports as part of its most far-reaching sanctions package yet, observers say the Tehran government has already done much to deflect the impact of the new U.S. measures.
Under the pressure of earlier Western sanctions, Iran has over the past four years reduced its dependence on foreign imports of refined oil products from about 40 percent of its domestic needs to just under 30 percent, according to analysts. The government is seeking to reduce that figure further by expanding its capacity to refine its own oil, experimenting with alternative fuels and cutting consumption by gradually eliminating subsidies on gasoline.
In the past six months, thanks to an elaborate rationing system, domestic gasoline consumption has dropped by nearly 20 percent, official statistics show. At the same time, Iran has boosted the supply available for everyday needs and also built up its strategic reserves by buying refined oil products from countries such as India, Turkmenistan and the Netherlands. Government budgets show it has spent more than $10 billion on such purchases since 2008.
"I think it's kind of a fool's errand to try go after them by restricting their flow of imported gasoline," said Flynt Leverett, a former White House expert on the Middle East at the New America Foundation. "Other companies have stepped into the breach; the Chinese have stepped up their shipments of gasoline to Iran. There is a whole network of companies in the gulf that are prepared to trade refined products to Iran."
At the annual Tehran oil fair in May, hundreds of foreign firms from Europe, Asia and South America were on hand. Oil executives and analysts at the fair said that that companies with links to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps had taken the place of Western companies forced out of Iran by existing sanctions. Chinese representatives said sanctions had greatly expanded their business opportunities in the Islamic republic.
"I am puzzled as to why we might think of using embargoes of petroleum products to Iran - first of all, because they wouldn't work," Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie told a panel at Columbia University in November.
Fariborz Ghadar, an expert on Iranian trade at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that the new restrictions would have little impact on Iran's ability to import fuel but would provide political cover for the government to lift subsidies on Iranian gas. He also cautioned that fuel sanctions may hit ordinary Iranians hardest, an outcome that would undercut the Obama administration's assertion that it wants to punish only the regime.
"Someone will refine it. Someone will smuggle it in," said Ghadar, a former who served as an export minister under the shah. "I just don't think these sanctions on petroleum will work, and even if they did work, they would be counterproductive. The Iranians would blame the suffering on the Americans."
11) Exiled police major gives deposition on Colombian militia
Juan Forero, Washington Post, Tuesday, June 22, 2010; 7:17 PM
Bogota, Colombia - A retired police major who is in exile in Argentina was deposed Tuesday by the Colombian attorney general's office after he accused President Álvaro Uribe's brother of having led a right-wing paramilitary group in the early 1990s.
A high-ranking prosecutor, Hernando Castañeda, traveled to Buenos Aires and took a three-hour deposition from Juan Carlos Meneses, the former police official. Meneses told The Washington Post in May, when he was living in Venezuela, that Santiago Uribe had led an illegal militia in the town of Yarumal that killed guerrilla sympathizers and suspected rebels.
Officials in the attorney general's office said Meneses's declaration would be evaluated in Bogota to determine if a long-dormant case against Uribe could be reopened.
Meneses, who was commander of the Yarumal police force in 1994, had publicly recounted how he and Uribe planned killings. Briefly jailed but not convicted, Meneses said he fled Colombia in October after associates in the security services warned him he would soon be killed for knowing too much. He went to Venezuela but has also been in Argentina, where he has met with the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
Santiago Uribe has denied the accusations, though he said in a May interview that he expected the case to be reopened on the basis of the new allegations. The Colombian government has vigorously defended the president's brother, accusing Meneses of being paid by a drug-trafficking outfit to make the claims.
Just Foreign Policy
Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.