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Posted by wmmbb in Middle East.

The Eastern Mediterranean appears to becoming a political flashpoint, if the report is correct that NATO and Russia deploying increasing numbers of naval ships. The Russians have clear strategic interests at stake.

The Debka File in a exclusive report:

NATO, which proclaims non-involvement in the Syrian conflict, and Russia, which vows to block foreign military action against the Assad regime, are both moving large naval forces into the eastern Mediterranean opposite Syrian shores.
A flotilla of at least 11 Russian warships has been detached from Caspian Sea, Black Sea and North Sea fleet bases and is on its way to the Syrian coast for a maneuver; NATO has consigned its rapid response Maritime Group 2 to the same stretch of sea – where also five Israeli warships are deployed. The Western alliance has also increased surveillance flights over the Mediterranean from the Geilenkirchen air base in Germany.
This rush of military movements is explained officially by the big air-and-sea exercise launched by Syria Sunday, July 8, to simulate outside aggression. It follows Iran’s practice of continuous military drills for repelling mock Western or Israel attacks.
The exercise began with a barrage of dozens of surface-to-sea missiles simulating naval and shore defense against approaching enemy craft and landing forces.
At about the same time, Iran embarked on a big air-cum-missile defense exercise in the south to fight off potential aggression from the direction of the Gulf of Oman and the Gulf of Aden, where US air force units are clustered.

The claim is then made that:

High-ranking Saudi princes associated with their national military and intelligence agencies frankly confided to Arab and Western officials on recent visits to Riyadh that the US and, possibly Israel too, are on the verge of war on Iran. “It is already decided,” they say. The only question still open is the date, which could be before or after the US presidential election on November 6.

So if true is both lunatic and very dangerous.

Syria may not be a major power, but it too has been displaying its naval potential:

The Cuban Missile Crisis is the analogy that comes to mind.


The activity in the East Mediterranean appears to be related to increasing US aggression in the Persian Gulf. When does the US respect the sovereignty of other countries. When do any military place a premium on peace, or forego the use of violence for other methods?



1. John Mark - July 24, 2012

I think your comment that the decision by the US to attack Iran is lunatic is bordering on being offensive. I simply do not accept that all the thinking that has gone into such a decision by brains certainly brighter than mine is lunatic.

To use your word lunatic, I think that it is lunatic not to try to prevent the Samson Option being triggered by Israel. If Iran can be stopped from provoking Israel and from being responsible for Israel being attacked by all the surrounding enemies, then the world might avoid the Samson Option.

If the Samson Option looks likely to be triggered, then I guess the nuclear nations of the world will have to destroy the political command and control centre which would give the order to release the Jericho ICBMs to many, many cities around the world. And that means attacking Jerusalem, does it not?

wmmbb - July 24, 2012

Thanks for commenting John.

The Samson Option sounds like the current Israeli Government, or perhaps they are not that mad (there are puns there somewhere). By contrast, although I don’t find anything attractive about the current Iranian Government,eg. public hangings, we should bear in mind as least two considerations.

Firstly, the coup of 1953, the imposition of the Shah dictatorship and oil politics, and then the counter-revolution organized around religion. There would be other examples, including European ones. Perhaps Poland might be such an example during Communist rule.

Secondly, Iran has been remarkably restrained in the face of gross provocation, allegedly by Israel in the murder of at least one nuclear scientist. One might also mention the breach of airspace by US drones, one of which was successfully captured, and presumably re-engineered. Although Iran does not have the satellite navigational control capacity, it may still be checkmate.What business is it of the US Navy to patrol the Persian Gulf?

The issue that seems to bother Israel is the allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons under the guise of its’ nuclear energy program. We should address the issue of hypocrisy. Israel is not a member of IATA, and its’ nuclear facilities are not subject to international inspection. You may recall the intelligence report during the Bush reign which argued that Iran was not a threat. Israel needs to throw up a smokescreen to divert attention from its’ dispossession and cruel treatment of the indigenous Palestinians.

I don’t particularly like military judgements and calculations especially when many people might be killed or their lives and well being otherwise destroyed as they would be in the supreme war crime of a military attack. Of course, a nuclear attack would be lunatic and diabolical, regardless of people targeted. Hence the reference to “mad”. That is factual rather than offensive.

Depra Chopra and Ken Robinson consider The Illusion of Attacking Iran. There is a case to be made that the assessment is ideologically rather than militarily framed. President Obama, especially during the election season, is politically motivated. Given that conventional wisdom holds that US presidential candidates have to demonstrate “toughness”, that represents the current danger. Violence leads inevitably to the escalation of violence or to its reinforcement. A world based on threats and violence is not one based on justice and peace, and not one conducive to the development and expression of democracy. One should note that Iran does hold elections and has institutions of representative government.

John Mark - July 25, 2012

I am impressed to have received a reply and a full one at that. One so often waits in hope for an editor’s response, so thanks.

I see the issue of hypocrisy by Israel and Iran, pretending or otherwise to produce nuclear weapons, as having absolutely no linkage. Whilst I accept the hypocrisy of Israel and agree that someone somewhere should have a crack at addressing it, the terror of Israel remains the same, namely the belief, developed deliberately by Iran, that Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons to do away with Israel.

I don’t think that I like military judgments and calculations either but, whether or not you and I dislike them along with many others, they will be made. One of the main priorities of national governments is to defend the people in its nation. As a result, plans to defend the nation are inevitable and they will include military judgments and calculations, whether you and I like them or not.

It is a reality we all have to live with that the human race has been killing itself in wars and battles ever since the first day dawned. It is in the DNA of humans to make war especially for their own cultural or religious group. Nothing under the sun has changed.

I don’t find the adjective “lunatic” helpful or informative. If Iran gives out the message that it is developing nuclear weapons whilst threatening to take out the State of Israel, then it is real politics for Israel to attack Iran and use, if the developments are deeply hidden, nuclear weapons such as neutron bombs. It seems to me meaningless to describe real politics or the continuation of politics by military means as “lunatic”.

Human beings have always had their ideologies and, often, they have defended them by going to war, such as the protestants and catholics in the 30 years war of 1618. Iran’s wish to remove Israel from Palestine is ideological; Israel’s belief in some divine right to be there and to remain there is ideological. When two ideologies impose a threat to one or both sides, then military means replace talking.

Human nature has never allowed a non-violent world to exist. Maybe, Satan is in charge after all! A world based on justice and peace is your ideology but not Iran’s, who believe that maximum destruction will, in fact, facilitate the coming of the 13th Mahdi. My ideology no longer includes democracy, for example, because it is inevitably self-defeated by debt.

2. wmmbb - July 25, 2012

John, you raise a fundamental issue in relation to nonviolence as to whether it is antithetical to human nature and whether it is a relevant option.

There is much to be said on this subject, including as you suggest in relation to democratic institutions are embedded in power, domination and privilege. I agree that ideology can be a delusion of the mind, and perhaps often is. I am not sure that we are wholly determined by a DNA, although the colour of our eyes might be, or the amygdala, more generally those areas of the brain described as “the reptilian brain”.

I would prefer to believe that we can act in accordance with our distinctly human and advanced frontal lobe processing centres. Foresight and compassion are remarkably advanced skills. I say that as a person who sometimes displays a compassion deficit, but luckily I have people around me who can correct me.

I would argue that we as human beings have the potential individually and collectively for peace and justice. But I would agree we have to be careful about the systems we create to serve those purposes. The Gandhian point about means being ends in the making is relevant.

Violence is the counsel of fear and despair. With respect to issues related to nuclear weapons and the crisis of the biosphere as well, we constructively live together or we destroy the liveability of the planet.

John Mark - July 26, 2012

I think that violence can also be the counsel of pride and hope. Let me give you two examples. I have just watched Henry V by de Vere (aka Shakespeare) and it is clear that Henry’s decision to go to war against France produced enormous pride and great hope, not only amongst the king and his courtiers, but also amongst the people of England.

There was no international need to attack France, but an internal domestic one to stop Henry diverting much of the church’s income to his own coffers. It succeeded since he became preoccupied with the war against France, and died of dysentery shortly after his victory at Agincourt.

The second example is more up to date and involves, who else, but Hitler. I have recently finished reading Hitler: Nemesis and it is clear to me that the whole of the German population was filled with national pride and hope as, firstly, Austria was annexed, secondly Czechoslovakia was invaded, and thirdly as Poland was destroyed. Fourthly, I might add, they were pleased with the assault on the Soviet Union until about August 1941 when it was clear that Germany could not defeat such a large country – ever.

The German people loved Hitler, his dreams of a glorious German future, and they had pride and hope that the “sadly necessary” violence required would raise Germany to be the dominant power in the world.

I agree that human nature has the potential for peace and justice, both individually and collectively. However, human nature also has the potential for violence and injustice. The frontal lobe processing centres can go either way.

So what makes human nature and especially the frontal lobes go this way and not that or that way and not this. Henry’s church had a selfish reason to prevent financial loss, and Hitler’s Germany had a reason to be a proud race of people once again. They had been humiliated by the war and by Versailles and impoverished by hyperinflation.

However, I wonder whether there isn’t a malign force in existence capable of influencing the frontal cortex of enough important people in a nation to go for violence and not for peace. I speculate!

wmmbb - July 26, 2012

Quick reply until I can give more thought to your cases, which are interesting and point to an extraordinary phenomenon.

I suspect in the case of Agincourt, the English did not expect to win so convincingly against the French Cavalry. The long bow gave them a strategic advantage. So perhaps there was jubilation in England, but I am guessing that they then settled in a for long grinding and expensive war in which gains had to be defended.

The enthusiasm that people march off to war, even as in the case of the Germans early rapid gains are made. The consequences of warfare cast a long shadow, particularly on the people who participate in them, whether they are on the winning or losing side.

To kill people requires physical distance or dehumanization, and that requires conditioning with propaganda playing its’ role. The consequences are long term, and are systemic.
There is no celebration among the victims of the atomic bombings in Japan or those affected by Agent Orange in S E Asia.

Nonviolence is a sustainable, life enhancing practice and not ephemeral. It is authentic, not fabricated or manipulated.

3. John Mark - July 26, 2012

Does “until I can give more thought to your cases” mean “I’m bowing out of this conversation”?

I’ve tried to respond to all, or most, of your statements of belief but I’m not sure that you have reciprocated. Just repeated what you have said earlier, to which I had already replied.

Your unwillingness to modify your beliefs and to do so in public is, in my opinion, a form of violence. To ignore my arguments and not to acknowledge where you might have less valuable beliefs is a violence, which, sadly, I am used to.

If we are violent in holding on to our beliefs against reasoned argument, then we will be violent in our conduct as a nation in defending those cherished and unalterable beliefs.

I think that you have shown that violence is sustainable, not ephemeral, authentic, not fabricated or manipulated but constructed into human nature.

wmmbb - July 27, 2012

No, John, it meant I had to go to sleep. I had a few things to do today, which I got done. I went to see an old man who was my neighbour who was in hospital. First he did not recognize me – I did not for a moment see that as violence. After awhile he did recognize who I was. He moved today to a repatriation rehabilitation hospital (Ernie was not a Second World War combatant, a factor that may have helped his longevity).

We have referred to ideology, which you describe as “cherished and unalterable beliefs (and sometimes assumptions, known and unknown). I try to be evidence based, and I think case studies are a good idea. It is useful to identify what works over the long term. The idea of creating peace with justice is important.

I will give you a reference, which may be of interest. If you like come back with your critique, and I will copy that into a post (using your historical references) from which we can open up a wider conversation. Michael Nagler is Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley. Here he is in conversation with Kanchan Gokhale.

4. John Mark - July 27, 2012

Alzheimer’s is violent, isn’t it? Violent to the human being rather than by. It cares not a whit for his dignity (to use Professor Nagler’s alternative to violence). The father of my new son-in-law has just undergone an eight hour abdominal operation on account of bowel cancer. The metastasing of cancer is violent.

I was caused more violent pain from a heart attack than I have ever experienced from a human being or, I guess, am likely to. For the body to block its own coronary arteries or to allow extrinsic material to do so is violence to the human self contained in that body.

The most grotesque violence by the body on itself that I know of is that, after the body is dead, the intestinal bacteria, once benign and life-giving, spread throughout the body to decompose it and to bloat it with putrefaction. I suppose I shrink at this form of bodily violence because I know that, even now as I write, there are millions upon millions of bugs in my gut, which will devour me once I am dead. Ugh!

The idea of creating peace with justice is important – because it is utopian! How much peace constitutes what you call “peace”? How do we assess the quality of the justice to show that it comes up to a standard demanded by “justice”. And the more we raise the bar for justice, the more we go deeper and deeper into debt in the democracies of the world.

Thank you for your invitation to offer up a critique of Professor Nagler’s audio, which I have just started to listen to, although domestically interrupted as often! It will take me a few days into next week to provide this, but I would like to do so.

When you say post it for wider conversation, will that be on this your website or elsewhere?

wmmbb - July 27, 2012

John, I was going to post it here, if that is OK with you. Wider in the sense that others can read and respond if they chose. Also it would be taken up by Blogotariat, which is an Australian aggregator.

The widely held view is that nonviolence is neither feasible or practical. That proposition is worth investigating. If we get off topic, in a distinct post it is easier to see where our comments are coming from.

No hurry, take your time. There is a lot to consider. The way to go I thought was post here as a comment with your title, and then I would create a separate post under your name. I also thought I could add the existing comments here.

wmmbb - August 22, 2012

I am hoping you are still on my case John. It is very instructive to be challenged, and it my understanding. Michael Nagler’s, Spirit and Science in the Vedanta is worth fuller “consideration” – I will go outside and look at the stars immediately. Looking at the word, without going to a dictionary , means something like “(to look”? with the stars).

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