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Iran’s Shadowy Power Grabs in Iraq

by John Reed on January 4, 2012

Iran’s high-profile efforts to bully everyone in the Middle East have been getting a ton of attention this week. However, a group of Texas National Guardsmen recently revealed much more subtle, and potentially more important, ways that Iran could fill the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

It’s not news that Iran’s Quds Force (which translates to Jerusalem Force) waged a proxy war against U.S. troops in Iraq. However, Military.com’s newest member, Mike Hoffman, just filed a piece about how officers of the Texas-based 36th infantry division, one of the last American units to rotate through Iraq, told lawmakers about opportunities for Tehran to wage a soft takeover of weak spots in the Iraqi military and economy:

With the Iranian-backed Shia Dawa party controlling much of Baghdad and southern Iraq, Spurgin’s unit of 700 Guardsmen witnessed the small pieces of economic and political influence affecting the Iraqi government and army.

For example, Army Brig. Gen. William Smith, 36th Infantry’s deputy commander, said he worried the Iraqi army’s shaky logistics system would open up doors for Iranian agents to gain favor inside army operations.

Iraq’s supply chain still works on a paper system that depends on approvals from officers as senior as generals for supplies as basic as tires. That’s in addition to the reality that Iraq has no system in place to deliver supplies to units in the field from the country’s only depots, located at Taji.

So if an Iraqi army unit needs tires for Humvees in Basrah, for example, that unit must travel all the way to Taji to pick them up. Of course, it’s rare for a unit commander to approve such a trip because it shows he’s failed as a leader if his unit needs new tires, Smith explained.

“It’s part of the military culture we’re trying to change over there,” he said.

If soldiers can’t depend on their army to supply them, they must look elsewhere. In many cases, they turn to supplies smuggled over the Iran border.

Those smuggling efforts included the ingredients to build improvised explosive devices. Iran’s special operations unit, known as the Quds Force, trained many of the Iraq militia members who execute the smuggling operations inside Iraq, Spurgin said.

The Texas soldiers didn’t focus solely on advanced military operations out of Iran. In a briefing to a Texas congressional delegation on Capitol Hill, the Guardsmen explained how something as simple as groceries allows Iran’s government to gain power in Iraq.

Iran is flooding Iraq’s markets with goods at much cheaper prices than other imports, leading other countries’ suppliers, in places such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to not bother to sell in Iraq. Those supplies allow Iran to control southern Iraq’s markets and thus its stomachs.

Perhaps most revealing about the threat of Iranian influence inside Iraq is the fact that the Iraqi army is functionally a heavy police force; capable only of fighting terrorists and providing other forms of “internal security” not defending the country’s borders from other militaries, according to Spurgin:

When asked by Conaway if the Iraqis could protect their borders from an external threat such as Iran, he bluntly said no. Spurgin told the congressman the Iraqis could not defend against an invading force.

“Operationally, the Iraqi Army has the ability to provide internal security of their own country, but they’re not ready to defend their country from an external threat,” Spurgin said.

This news combined with other reports describing Iraq on the brink of civil war, paint a picture of a country ripe for a subtle proxy takeover push by an Iran that’s looking for such an opportunity to expand its power and influence. You can bet that the United States will fight this. But, as our military attention shifts toward Asia and we drop our ability to fight two wars at once, it will be interesting to see how we do this.

 

 

 

 

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{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Pyruz January 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I guess you folks aren't aware of Iraq's army commander and military/security delegation recently traveling to Iran to meet with Iran's counterparts, to discuss military, intelligence and security ties, in detail. How to produce a nefarious spin on that taking place?

Or, as for your Humvee/tire anecdote, I suppose you're unaware of how corruption figures into certain aspects of the Iraqi military. If you need a Hollywood reference, check out the the film "Kelly's Heroes" and the character "Crap Game" for a romanticized rendering of such goings on. The film and its romanticized corruption has quite a following here in the U.S.

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SJE January 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

The US had discussions with the Iranians when they invaded Iran and Afghanistan. Iraq SHOULD have discussions with the Iranians, unless they are actively at war with Iran. Pretending that they don't exist (e.g. US-Cuba) doesnt work when your share a long border. Yes, it could be nefarious, but what are we going to do about it? Its the Iraqi's country now.

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Guest January 5, 2012 at 6:16 am

invaded Iraq*

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Oddball January 6, 2012 at 12:28 am

awesome movie – it has me in it.

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dddd January 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Great post.

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SJE January 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

None of this is surprising. At the same time, Iran has often over-reached in Iraq, assuming that it could control events through proxies. Its influence has limits. Many Iraqis, including Iraqi Shia, have no interest in becoming a client state of Iran, especially after they just got rid of the USA. Over-reach by Iran also risks action by the other powers in the region, especially Saudis.

In the end, I'd rather the Iraqis and local power brokers deal with this issue instead of having US, Brits, Aussies etc dying. We gain a lot more by leaving and being seen as the good guys who did a good job and tried to leave the place better than we started. Its messier, but gets the same result for a lot less cost in blood and treasure.

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dddd January 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

What I like about that excerpt is the detail. The guy explains exactly HOW Iranian agents might augment their influence by offering logistical skills that are in high demand. I believe that think tankers and policymakers speak in broad terms that fail to support the given argument. For example, people say Iran getting a nuke would be bad because it would launch a regional nuclear arms race. But they don't say how these other countries would obtain nuclear weapons. This is nice and specific.

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itfunk January 5, 2012 at 6:14 am

Through their illicit nuclear programs that we conveniently ignore. Saudi Arabia for instance has for instance got an option on the Pakistan nuclear bomb in return for funding a lot of it.

But that isn't even the big problem – the problem is that Iran with the bomb would be safe. It would put an end to our dreams of overthrowing the Iranian revolution and cap 50 years of humiliating failures trying.

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Matt January 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

The threat of Iran w/nukes is mutually assured destruction does work on religious zealots willing to die to kill the "Great Satan" and Israel. Not to mention Iran and Iraq have gone to war in the past, and Saddam used WMDs (chemical). Iran may see it as precidence and "return the favor", so to speak.

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Lance January 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Sad day. It seems like when we left South Vietnam in 73 our allies strength declined. I see the same in Iraq with out US forces there Iran will either take over by Iraqi allies in a Islamic revolution OR invaded and take Iraq by force. Bad decision by Washington.

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SJE January 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

But in 2011 we are friends with Vietnam, and have been working with the Vietnamese to contain China for many years now. The Vietnamese people and govt also have positive views of the USA

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crackedlenses January 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

And in 2011 thousands of people have died trying to leave and as for minorities, don't ask; things could be worse, but things could have been better if we had held our end of the bargain….

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SJE January 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I agree that the US failed to protect some of its S. Vietnamese allies, and did not keep its promises. But that is a separate issue: the US geopolitical position in Vietnam is not too bad.

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm

The US failed to support the South Vietnamese after we left, which is why it fell to the North Vietnamese, who were being supported by the Soviets. If we hadn't been too busy with Watergate, we could have saved South Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands lives would have been saved. That was my point…..

Lance January 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

Sorry SJE Vietnam is one of the worst human rights abusers and they oppress there people horribly the US has some relations but I would call it good. Like Iraq no good came form this.

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SJE January 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

Sorry Lance, but there are PLENTY of nasty regimes in the world. Don't forget that it was Vietnam that invaded Cambodia to get rid of the Khmer Rouge and then the US complained and supported the KR's position on international bodies. We didnt exactly cover ourselves in glory, did we?

Nevertheless, the point is about Iraq. Staying in Iraq has very clear costs. Leaving has risks. Looking at Vietnam, I'd take those risks and leave Iraq. As for the humanitarian issues, those can be dealt with through other means, such as asylum for those who helped US forces. Or, are you proposing we invade every country with a human rights problem?

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Longshot January 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

.·…OR invaded and take Iraq by force"… you mean, the same thing the US did about ten years ago?

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blight January 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm

On the plus side, if Iraqi Army units cannot get to Baghdad, then they cannot depose Diem.

Typical of militaries that are built around keeping leaders in power rather than national security. And once we are out, the Iraqi military of today doesn't hold a candle to the war machine Saddam had, export models and steel AT penetrators or not.

Iran practices economic dumping on Iraq: just as we dump our lower-priced goods (which are made in China, of course) on third world countries to destroy their local industries. Now we will see what the consequences are regarding the precedent we set in other countries.

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IronV January 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm

To quote Colin Powell on Iraq… "If you break it, you own it." More prophetic words were never uttered…

Look. We did our bit in Iraq. We should never have gone in there, but we did. And we broke a lot of china in the process. We've done our best to make it right, losing 4500 precious American lives and god knows how many Iraqis in the process.

We have long passed the point of diminishing returns. But whatever the consequences, it's now up to them. We've done our bit and there is no possible justification for the loss of one more American life in that tribal hell hole.

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Longshot January 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Amen

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Stephen Russell January 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Iranians can enter as agents, etc into Iraq Army & set up networks alone for supply & terrorisim, then more strain in the Mid East.

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SJE January 4, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Iranians already do that.

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blackphoenixillustrations January 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm

The lead dude in the picture is missing the pistol grip and trigger mech for his AK. It's the artist in me, can't help but notice.

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free falling January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Sherlock, me thinks you overlooked quite another "detail" uhh… you may even have run into an elephant in your doorframe: Iran's standard assault rifle isn't even the Soviet-designed AK-47 to begin with – never was! It's the German-designed G3 ( = same ancestor, same shape, but straight magazines, not banana-shaped ones like the AK-47s'). Iran even license-builds and exports the G3… As a side note: This also means that the standard calibre of all Iranian infantrymen and -women is 7,62 mm , NOT 5,56 mm.

Envy them.

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm

5.56 mm. and 7.62 mm. both kill people rather handily. It's all a matter of personal preference…..

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blight January 6, 2012 at 12:03 am

Correct regarding the G3, but the Iranians do produce AKM clones, a Norinco clone and a 5.56 bullpup.

It's always possible that a variety of these arms are produced for export, or go to the Revolutionary guards or Basij. The AKM has become a symbol of revolutions and unrest the world over anyways (and is part of the symbology of Hezbollah and Mozambique's flag, for example). Even OBL's famous pictures show an AKSU-74 propped up nearby, or OBL firing an AKM.

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J Weich January 5, 2012 at 12:38 am

“Iran’s high-profile efforts to bully everyone in the Middle East…”

There is only one country that bullies everyone in the Middle East and that’s the US, which has consistently done so for 60 years. The one notable exception is Israel, which, on the contrary, is a country that utterly controls US foreign policy in the Middle East.

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IronV January 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Utter, fatuous, simplistic BS…

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Yeah, and Bush caused 9/11 and Cheney is really a space alien and the Tea Party really did spit on Pelosi; I've got some swampland you'll really want to buy……

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

We don't bully Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan or Qatar. They're our…friends.

Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon,watch out!

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Longshot January 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Yeah, all our "friends" has oil! what good and convenient coincidence! …despite Saudi Arabia it´s a great place for terorists.

The others, Watch out!

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blight January 5, 2012 at 10:01 pm

The Wahabbis are no friends of ours, but are kept in check by the Al-Sauds, who like many of the rulers in the Middle East know that longevity comes with keeping up with the west while looking like they are not our syncophants.

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Your argument is total baloney. If we wanted oil, why didn't we just take it when we "occupied" Iraq? Or Kuwait in 1990? Why did we send in the Marines to save 1 million starving Somalis when there was NO OIL there?

The oil theory is utter nonsense.

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Danilo January 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I´m sorry but all you said… it´s true. Just the crude truth.

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Brian Black January 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

America has tried to exercise influence over the colour of governments everywhere; from South America to South East Asia, whether by open war, the supply of arms to insurgents or by exploding cigars. America has done a whole lot worse than smuggle tyres.

It might not be a bad thing if Iran maintains a puppet regime next door. It’s in their long-term interests to have stability in Iraq. And if Iraq does fracture or descend into civil war, can we lay the blame entirely with Iran? There has been ethnic and religious tension built into that country from it’s foundation.

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 12:06 am

No country on the face of this earth, in the history of humanity, has done more to better the condition of humankind than the United States of America. One of the great ironies in the recent Wiki leaks episode is that the leaked documents confirmed we were doing exactly what we said we were doing. The same could hardly be said for the the other countries whose secrets were revealed.

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IronV January 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

If you're looking for "lies" you need to examine your own beliefs…

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Danilo January 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Tell me -please- if they found massive weapons in Iraq or not. It´s not about beliefs, it´s about facts. Did they found weeapons in Iraq or not? No, then it´s was a lie, and a lie to de US people, the allies and the world. A fact.

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

No. It was a mistake. A bad mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. EVERY major country in the world believed Iraq had WMD. Even Russia. Even FRANCE. We were all fooled.

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IronV January 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

You need to look up the definition of "lie." You're simply trying to twist the facts to support your thesis. Bush and his minions really believed they would find WMD. They were wrong. But they believed they were there. And as I pointed out, and you ignore, EVERYONE believed it. And they believed it because IN FACT Saddam had a robust WMD program he had secretly dismantled. And they believed because right up to the time of the invasion, Saddam refused international inspectors to verify or eliminate the presence of WMD.

You deliberately reduce a complicated situation to a simplistic one to support your whacked-out world view.

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Matt January 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Danilo: 1) Iraq did have WMDs (chemical) and had used them in the past agianst the Iranians and the genocide against the Kurds.
2) Saddam did have a nuclear program, thats why he wouldnt allow the UN to inspect his country. Should we have waited until the genocidal madman had aquired nukes before invading?
3) Mistake in Afganistan? The Taliban were supporting Al-Queda, Al-Queda attacked us on 9/11, Al-Queda was operating in the uncivilized/tribal area in Afganistan/Pakistan. Where is the lie?
4) Motive? The whole "war for oil" idea is delusional. The US has more than enough oil to met its needs and if "Big Oil" is powerful enough to start a war, why dont they just lobby liberals to allow drilling in America?
5) Ruins? The US has funded the repair and modernization of Iraq (getting the Iraqi people water, electricity, schools, etc) based on the notion of "nation building". That's so we arent seen as the ones who bomb and leave, but as a nation that removes a strong man and helps repair the nation.

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Doubtom January 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

"IRAN'S SHADOWY POWER GRAB IN IRAQ" Would that be about the same as our power grab in the same area and everywhere else? Just wondering.

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Danilo January 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Doubtom, can you put that question in other words? i´m not sure of it´s meaning. I have limitations in english and i´m interested in the real meaning of your words

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 12:09 am

What power grab is that? We LEFT Iraq. We're on our way out of Afghanistan. Why didn't we just stay and drain them of their resources if your thesis is correct?

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Muhammad January 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

such a crap!

Of course Iran exports food and other materials to Iraq. They have been neighbors for centuries. Iran have imported dates from Iraq and exported lemons to them.

and regarding the long period of boycott against Iraq and invading all of its factories and industries; you think what material can be produced there?

with all Saudi terrorist in that country, blowing up homes and workshops?

Quds Force don’t need to smuggle anything. Iran have many free trade zones in the border with Iraqi Kurdistan and Basrah provinces.

Of course Quds Force has a long time presence in Iraq!

They were fighting Saddam before you do, dear Gen, when you idiot criminals sold chemical materials to Saddam.

They are Iraqi Shiite and Sunni soldiers and refugees organized and supported by Sepah to fight against the criminal dictator, Saddam; when Saddam used chemical weapons against Iraqi and Iranian people in a same way, and you supported him in UN.

And of course Iran has influence in Iraq. many of Iranian high-rank clerics have studied in Iraq, fled from Saddam to Iran, and still have followers there. previous Head of the Judiciary of Iran, was an Iraqi refugee.

Ayatollah Sistani is an Iraqi high-rank Shiite leader who has millions of followers in Iran. tomb of 4 of highly regarded religious leaders of Muslims and Imams of Shiite, which are sons of Muslims prophet are in Iraq and millions of Iranians visit them each year.

so many ties exist between to countries, for centuries.

Is trading of yogurt from Iran to Iraq really a treat to US benefits? fuck those benefits! what do you do here with your benefits?

was supporting Saddam to produce chemical weapons and using it against us, one of your benefits too?

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blight January 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

I don't think the United States cares about the lemon/orange trade. Whatever it takes to bring the Iraqi nation revenue is good stuff, though if Iraq starts exporting oil to Iranian refineries people might sit up and go "Oh no!"

Looking up the Quds Force, it seems they helped out the Kurds to fight Saddam. During the Reagan years, this was A Bad Thing. But after 1991, this was A Good Thing. They allegedly also helped out the Northern Alliance, which would also be A Good Thing. However, this was the '90s, during which Iran wasn't Such A Bad Guy. I don't think the United States minded Rasafjani or Khatami being in charge; but much of our bad blood began when Iran decided to change directions and supported Ahmadinejad.

Sistani was sidelined in '04-'05 by Sadr when Sadr's men killed al-Khoei.

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Muhammad January 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Thanks God Quds Force and Sepah policies have not changed like US policies.

Anyway, Ahmadinejad was not in charge when Iran suddenly became A Very Bad Guy. It was Khatami, and hey, the nuclear program info had still not been leaked, and Iran had co-operated with NATO in Iraq and Afghanistan. And mind you, The Supreme Leader, Khamenei signs international policies, and his policies has not changed as much as American’s.

Sistani wasn’t sidelined in Iraq, If you know how Ayatollah’s do their management. He has millions of followers in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, …. During the US occupation of Iraq, Young Sheites supported Muqtada and some extremists in Iran appreciated his movement. But, that doesn’t mean Sadr sidelined Sistani.
and Mr. Khoei died while Saddam was in charge.

Some fools here say Iran is behind 70% of terrorism activities in Iraq, while US is in charge there. How could that be possible and most of the victims are Sheits, and hundreds of Iranians have been killed in Karballa and Najaf?

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Robert Fritts January 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Maybe we should consider that this was going to happen from day 1. There is a substantial reason the area is called the Persian Gulf. Thousands of years of being part of the Persian empire. A 100 years of Iraqi or Saudi history will never change that. The people accept that. All of our speculating on what will happen if Iran become dominant in the area is Bull Pucky. Iran will be the dominant force in the gulf area eventually. We can't stop it nor should we try. Do the Iranians need a nuke program for weapons? No. There are over 40 assembled Nuke weapons missing from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kahzakstan. In 1997 rumors of 4 Chinese nukes(4.5Mtons) misplaced and never recovered. I have no doubt our friendly allies in Pakistan will gladly sell a 100Kton class weapon at a severe discount. Every Barrel of American oil produced moves us closer to the day when this is not even a problem.

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robert fritts January 6, 2012 at 11:44 pm

The Neocons have been out of power for quite a while. This is hysteria is lead by peace loving anti-war liberals. Ike was right back then and right today. The first strike to end threats to the USA would be a kill only missions on the corporate headquarters of Lock-Mart, BAE, Boeing and Raytheon.

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Mirror Man July 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

nice, fancy renting me a small text link or banner ad on the top of the page??

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Uranium238 January 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Apparently those in our government don't frequent that website. They would have gotten the clue a long time ago about this and taken it more seriously.

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IronV January 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Really? They're developing nuclear weapons, ballistic missile technology, are the world's biggest exporter of terrorism… and WE'RE provoking THEM?

Well I guess they better resist the provocation, eh Sparky?

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l_veda January 5, 2012 at 2:20 am

that is what u told ppl when u invaded Iraq rite? nuke,ballistic, terrorism nest…
same old story…. does the war make u any safer back in US, or u the one that terrorizing other states…

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justsaying January 5, 2012 at 11:54 am

Secondly, I don't recall there being any Iranian terrorist attacks against America, so I don't see any evidence of provocation, only delusional neocon paranoia.

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Belesari January 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

Um you do know that Saddam did infact have those things right?
WMD:
He had yellow cake uranium which is pretty much the block to getting a bomb….he had tons of it we took it out afterwards.
He was just finishing building a Massive chemical weapons factory just as we invaded…you know chemical weapons which can kill entire cities. You know like he used to kill 50,000 of his own people with.

He had scudes and other missiles that…follow a ballistic path to a target and are ballistic missiles……..you know like he fired at Iran, Israel and everyone else.

And he supported terrorism and had several training camps in his country as well as donating money and arms to terrorist groups.

So…….where were we wrong.

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justsaying January 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

>world's biggest exporter of terrorism
Citation Needed

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

South Korea is a flourishing nation and a leading participant in the world economy. North Korea is a frozen wasteland run by a crazy dictator. Which side would you want to live in?…..

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Uh, they've been supporting terror operations against our troops; this is like saying the Soviet Union wasn't a threat to the world because really, they haven't invaded anyone or attacked US soil. History repeats itself…..

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belesari January 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Um you dont count the hundreds of shia militia backed terrorist attacks to US troops in Iraq and afghainistan using weapons made in Iran, training and tactics taught to the insurgents by the iranian guard.

Of course then there is hezbollah which killed a whole bunch of marines in lebannon…………..should we keep going?

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Robert Fritts January 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm

The Neocons have been out of power for quite a while. This is hysteria is lead by peace loving anti-war liberals. Ike was right back then and right today. The first strike to end threats to the USA would be a kill only missions on the corporate headquarters of Lock-Mart, BAE, Boeing and Raytheon.

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm

You know, if we had had our way in Iran, it would have been a much better place than it is now. Whether you like it or not, we actually have something good to offer, and sometimes the best way to get a nation's attention is to bomb the stuffing out of them (read: Japan)……

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free falling January 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Are you completely senile? For half a century after the Second World War, Japan became the biggest economic RIVAL to the U.S.A. AND to all of Europe combined, and now you claim responsibility for this 100 % Japanese feat (almost "proudly" so) by crediting your two nuclear bombs with it???! What next: Trying to find a similar America-centric "excuse" for China's rise as an economic Super-Power, too?!

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm
blight January 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Considering that Bush II put Iran on the Axis of Evil, and then proceeded to invade Iraq, what do you expect Iran to do? Nothing?

Trusting the US to not harm you after putting you on a shitlist is as silly as Diem trusting the US to have his back. When you see signs that someone might be gunning you, you probably shouldn't trust them to not stab you in the back at first opportunity.

It seems deliciously ironic that Iran depended on Israel for American hardware to maintain its own Shah-era American equipment; along with Israel helping to deliver American hardware to Tehran as part of Iran Contra…and Iran pays forward by funding Hezbollah. And more likely than not, sends those same TOW missiles or their reverse-engineered cousins to Hezbollah.

Can't say I wouldn't be infuriated at Reagan for directly aiding "terrorists" myself. However, he has a presidential library as his reward. Ollie North and Poindexter have their own rewards for enabling an Axis of Evil member.

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Why yes. We supported the corrupt oppressive KMT, without with the Chinese Communist Party might never have gotten off the ground. We should be proud of ourselves.

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Indeed. It might go back to the "do nothing" mentality that is the typical product of secret-police states: stepping out of line and showing initiative marks you for the firing squad. It's a reflex that will take decades to repair.

That said, the American military has an imperfect track record restructing foreign militaries. The RVN was similarly dependent on the United States for logistics and maintenance support in the field, saying nothing about the obvious dependence on spare parts, POL and munitions.

Our focus during the COIN phase was an Iraqi Army capable of supporting American units in the field. The understanding was that American units would coordinate their own logistics, and thus they've been dependent on our ability to supply them in the field. We assumed we'd be there forever, so we never considered or cared about the need to stand up a working supply system. With the early departure insisted on by Nouri, he will be stuck with a static army with limited ability to defend the border. If it weren't for the United States forces still hanging out in the Gult; Iran could roll over the NIA in a heartbeat.

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 12:12 am

You are utterly incorrect. Saddam Hussein made the CHOICE to respond to the INTERNATIONAL sanctions by spending his country's resources on weapons and the military. To suggest we "forced" him to do it is disingenuous and wholly inaccurate.

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Once the United Nations repelled the foreign invaders from South Korea, they didn't really need a perpetual garrison force to keep the borders safe. The lion's share of the UN forces were able to pull out just fine, as were the American troops deployed to Korea with no ill effects. It's not like a division-plus is going to Chuck-Norris a massive North Korean attack without the ROKA.

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blight January 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

We'll just turn the other way, like we threw the Hmong under the bus in Laos and ignored Myanmar (now Burma) and ignored Zimbabwe (not our problem anyways).

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Belesari January 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

OK look Iran basicly supports 60-70% of the islamist terrorist out there. Your trying to do the moral equivalency game. Its not a game this a group of people who brutaly rape and murder their own people constantly and THEN transport those same tactics and beliefs to the rest of the world.

This is a Nation run by people who have STATED over and over their ultimate goal is genocide.

This is not the Soviet Union or Imperial Japan or the Vietnamese. This is a group of people who will hold to no oaths, no values other than what they choose who see absolute brutality as the ways of governance. REASON worked with the Russians it wont work with them.

Certain american administrations have fucked over Israel then cry foul when they make the decissions to protect themselves. America and europe have the advantage of being large and easily defendable israel has anything but that so it does what it has to to avoid slavery and annhilation. Now if we were saints it would be different……but we aren't.

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Belesari January 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm

The biggest mistake made post invasion was the banning of bath party officals. This banned basicly ANYONE who was in government. If you wanted to do anything you had to be a bath party member.

So then the state department says…….no more…..

So then only the shia basicly can get power and the nation fell apart. THAT was the defining moment.

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SJE January 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Good point. But does staying in Iraq continue a culture of dependency?

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crackedlenses January 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

And as it turned out, we managed to pick the lesser of two evils; or maybe we should have just told China to mind its own @#$%^ and left them to the Japanese…..

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SJE January 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I see your point. Thanks for clarifying.

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blight January 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm

A division-plus isn't a serious deterrent force. Putting units in the ROK with nuclear weapons (similar to how we nuclearized the border between the FRG and the GDR, which was a more serious deterrent than any number of troops on the border).

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blight January 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Which would only have aided the rise of communism even more. Just as communism in Vietnam got a foothold as part of a anti-Japanese resistance movement, the same would happen in Vietnam.

I imagine regardless of who we supported, the KMT was doomed.

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blight January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

I'm not sure if keeping all Baath members in power would've been a wise move either. At the time, we weren't able to tell a Fedayeen Saddam member from a Baath party technocrat. So we purged them all, in a move that probably did Saddam proud. Combined with his armed populace program that would've done any militia movement proud, they prolonged the resistance for quite a while.

Engaging the Baath would have been the right move, but properly identifying the "right guys" would've put them on the horns of a dilemna: fellow Baath members might ostracize them for selling out to foreigners, and Dawa and Iranians would assassinate them for representing the old Baath. I bet one way or another, many Baath party members would've tried to leave the country, especially when the body parts started appearing in the street.

If we'd figured out a way to engage Arab peacekeepers, we might've had a mild chance of averting massive bloodshed. However, the thought of Syrian "peacekeepers" in Baghdad quietly passing out artillery shells to the insurgents gives me the shivers.

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blight January 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

Indeed it does, but there's a line between throwing the bird out of the nest before it's ready to fly, and when it's ready to fly. The NIA wasn't ready to fly. In an emergency, I have no doubt the Iraqis could scrape together a fighting force of ex-Baath Army guys, but equipping them from the leftover scrap of Saddam's military and a puny quantity of imported American hardware would be insufficient to repel any invasion.

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blight January 6, 2012 at 12:19 am

Al Qaida was the majority terrorist faction for some time, and might even still be, depending on the numbers. We lack adequate numbers for Iran's foreign aid support, but it's been a given since Vietnam that any counterinsurgency *depends* on nation-state support to be viable, and that for many groups Iran plays that role.

Are the Dawa Party and the al-Sadr movements, both acknoweldged Iranian pawns, terror movements? Sadr's men killed a cleric in 2004 (or was it 2005?) and sidelined al-Sistani with the Mahdi Army, which then fought American forces until they backed off. Al-Quds trained un-named groups in the deployment of IEDs, but I've never seen hard data saying which groups they were actively training. If they consorted with Al Qaida in Iraq or other member of Mujahideen Shura Council, then they are supporting a terrorist group by proxy. Iran supports Hezbollah, which is a declared terrorist organization by the United States and foreign countries, but is cloaked in the arm of a domestic political organization.

Going back to the definition of a terrorist organization, which Muslim groups are "terrorist", and which ones have Iranian support?

Hezbollah's military arm definitely receives military hardware from Iran, and to repel an Israeli attack means a fair amount of hardware is involved. This is no inexpensive 9/11.

Iran was doing /something/ in Iraq, but it's distributed between economic, political and military aims. Not all of it can be "terrorist" in nature, but the clandestine work of Al-Quds is undoubtedly terrorist related. But if it's clandestine, it must be small, or at least, hard to qualify.

We're not sure how deep their tendrils are into Afghanistan, for example. Is Herat a hotbed for Iranian interests? If so, would we risk have Shinbad airbase within missile range of our potential adversary?

The lion's share of Iran's support is probably tied up in propping up Hezbollah. I imagine it isn't very expensive to send freighters of small arms to 'em. And bear in mind, that Syria used to, and might still also be jointly contributing to Hezbollah.

By the way, a number of Israeli PM's have tried their hand at peacemaking. Rabin for example, and he was shot dead for the trouble. And Ehud Barak. And Sharon. And perhaps Netanyahu. And to the outsider, not a ton of change came out of it. Abbas is trying for statehood-it remains to be seen if that is going to change anything.

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crackedlenses January 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Neither China nor Vietnam had to fall. It was our belief that the rise of Communism was inevitable that enable the Communists to rise to power. It was Reagen's belief that we could stop Communist expansion that enabled us to win the Cold War…..

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crackedlenses January 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

The Norks know they can overrun our troops currently stationed on the border. It's the prospect of us showing up on the peninsula in full force, similar to the first war, that is supposed to deter them….

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I don't know where your from, but except for a few loons, we don't buy the secret massive conspiracy nonsense around here. No there's no shadow government, no big, powerful families doing secret, evil things. And no "unseen hands" that manipulate the helpless people. That sounds like middle east islamic craziness…

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IronV January 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Muhammed. We went to war with Saddam TWICE. I would say that vastly outweighs any failure to act before that. In the meantime, what did YOU do to bring down Saddam?

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IronV January 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Citation? Are you effing joking? There is NO QUESTION, not the slightest shred of doubt that those murderous loons are BY FAR the single biggest exporter of terrorism and sheer, bloody murder on the planet. The most casual research will confirm that in minutes. Hell, look what they do to their OWN PEOPLE on a casual basis. "Hmmm. Shall we HANG or STONE the adulterer whore… decisions, decisions…"

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IronV January 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm

You simply have a lot of your facts wrong. Not surprising given the sources you cite.

Iran replaced one dictator, the shah, with another brand of dictator, even more evil–A religious lunatic.

Iraq is of course free to forge ties and alliances with anyone they chose. It makes perfect sense to trade with a neighbor. But that neighbor is also a snake. A religious theocracy with an agenda that is its own and not in the interests of the Iraqi people.

That is, not if they want to maintain their freedom…

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Danilo. January 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Where i´m from it´s not your bussines, this is a blog, to share different points of views and respect all opinions, and may be learn something or think deeper about some topic.
I didn´t use such thing like a "shadow government", and evil thing, and "middle east islamic craziness". You´re teasing me.
I speak about the B. family, with a lot of related an no related bussines whom the war would be very advantageous, and distract the internal problems too. I was clear.
But you despise the opinion of others if different from yours, just because you think you have with your knowledge of truth and reason. I think this blog is a good opportunity to rethink some things and/or learn something. Good luck!

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IronV January 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm

No. I don't despise opinions contrary to mine. I despise loony conspiracy theories. The idea the "B" family or any other family or corporation or person manipulated world events to reap profit. That is frankly insane. Completely crazy.

The world is just not that simple. It is enormous. It is complex. And events cannot be explained by simplistic fantasies.

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IronV January 17, 2012 at 12:39 am

Your rhetoric belies your prejudices. Exactly how is your opening statement "the preferred lie is to say that US are the good guys…" supposed to foster an objective, rational, discussion?

I reject your assertions as flatly delusional. The idea that the Operation Desert Storm was fomented to "redistribute Middle East resources…" is nonsensical. And of course, that never happened.

If you REALLY want to build a better world, you'll subscribe to and promote republican, constitutional and SECULAR governments, where the Rule of Law is enforced with integrity.

Unfortunately, the first thing Islamists do with their new-found freedom form dictators is to embrace just another form of tyranny. Where freedom of speech, equal protection under the law, and freedom of religion are despised and violently oppressed.

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IronV January 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Peace. Peace in a world where religion is a personal choice and not a government mandate. Peace in a world where the Rule of Law is honored. Peace in a world where the sovereignty of the individual is the highest priority…

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IronV January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

The United States NEVER supplied chemical or biological weapons to Saddam. PERIOD. That is a another whacked out fantasy. Completely insane.

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Danilo January 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

ok, not trying to convince anyone, but to exchange views and maybe learn something. I'm just going to leave one of the many articles and news that someone fairly well informed and open mind can find easily. Words fail, and this is not to argue. Only to read and meditate, if you want-can bring you something, or not, and just hold the position.

Revealed: 17 British firms armed Saddam with his weapons
Sunday Herald, 23 February 2003

"Seventeen British companies who supplied Iraq with nuclear, biological, chemical, rocket and conventional weapons technology are to be investigated and could face prosecution following a Sunday Herald investigation. One of the companies is Inter national Military Services, a part of the Ministry of Defence, which sold rocket technology to Iraq. The companies were named by Iraq in a 12,000 page dossier submitted to the UN in December. The Security Council agreed to US requests to censor 8000 pages — including sections naming western businesses which aided Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme. The five permanent members of the security council — Britain, France, Russia, America and China — are named as allowing companies to sell weapons technology to Iraq. The dossier claims 24 US firms sold Iraq weapons. Hewlett-Packard sold nuclear and rocket technology; Dupont sold nuclear technology, and Eastman Kodak sold rocket capabilities. The dossier also says some '50 subsidiaries of foreign enterprises conducted their arms business with Iraq from the US'. It claims the US ministries of defence, energy, trade and agriculture, and the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, supplied Iraq with WMD technology…. The Department of Trade and Industry said details on export licences, including information on weapons sold to Iraq, was unavailable…..A spokesman for the MoD's International Military Services said he could not comment as no staff from 1991 were on the payroll and no documents from then existed… Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, said: 'The evidence of British armament companies, with central government support, arming the Butcher of Baghdad lays to rest the moral garbage spewed from the British government. It exposes the fact that Britain, along with America, France and Russia, armed Saddam to the teeth while he was butchering his own people' …."

Article: "Revealed: 17 British firms armed Saddam with his weapons"
Sunday Herald, 23 February 2003

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IronV January 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Absolute transparent fraud. Laughable nonsense.

1) Hewlett Packard has no "nuclear" or rocket technology
2) Kodak has no "rocket technology"

People can "claim" anything they want. That doesn't make it true. And this stuff is a pathetic joke, invented by idiots who aren't familiar with the companies they're discussing.

Seriously. You BELIEVE this craziness? Seriously?

And in any event, what individual companies do, on their own and illegally, has nothing whatsoever to do with the US government or its policies.

This is just more of the very popular middle east motif that "Unseen hands" make stuff happen. Secret forces and organizations far beyond our understanding. What a bunch of BULL!!

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Danilo January 18, 2012 at 10:09 pm

You know? no man so blind as those who will not see.
At least when I say something I explain why I believe in that. if you read the rest of the thoughts and the answers I have given in this blog, you'll see what I mean basis. I simply closes and say no to everything without substantiating what I say.
And I suspect (very clear) that for more reasons that follow, and cite newspaper articles, editorials and information from around the world, you simply continue to deny without foundation, using words absolute, strict, and burlesque.
Much more information in the world that gives me my government, is in my eyes close and open.
Nice to meet you, anyway. I enjoyed our little talks on major issues.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Iraq got their biological weapons from the American Type Culture Collection. You can't get certain strains of bacillus anthracis without government approval.

Then again, there are the scary strains that aren't even in the ATCC and hide out in Fort Detrick.

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Danilo January 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm

"I believe," James Madison warned in a speech to the Virginia Convention on June 16, 1788, "there are more cases of deprivation of liberty of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, which violent and sudden usurpations. "

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IronV January 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

No. You have a religious belief in this craziness. But the evidence you cite is easily refutable. E.G. Hewlett Packard doesn't have a Rocket Division. You have an agenda and you seek to support that agenda–even with the flimsiest evidence. You have a world view that is a function of what I suspect is Arab paranoia reflected in the "unseen hands control us" theory. I don't… It's that simple.

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IronV January 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm

This is preposterous. Absolutely crazy talk and you have not one shred, iota of evidence to support it. But you believe it anyway. Your opinions are not derived from critical thinking, they're derived from religious belief.

No. Saddam Hussein did not get his WMD from Fort Detrick. That is flat out NUTS.

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IronV January 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm

You are correct: I reject your assertions and your evidence as complete, fatuous nonsense.

You say the US has "disappointed you" based upon the results of your "research." Your research is amateurish, deeply and irrevocably flawed. You assert that you have the "true" information. That is of course, ridiculous.

Learned? From those morons at Wikileaks? What I learned was the we were doing exactly what we said we were doing around the world. Other countries were embarrassed by their duplicity revealed in Wikileaks, not ours.

"Important things they never tell us…" Well, there you go with with the conspiracy theory-unseen hands garbage. OF COURSE they don't "tell us" what's in top secret diplomatic cables. How they hell could they conduct sensitive negotiations if the did?

You have an agenda and seek to support it through the any shred of flimsy or fraudulent evidence.

The USA has done more to lift the quality of life for all humankind than any country in history. By far.

I stand by that emminently provable, demonstrable proposition.

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blight January 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I recognize that the name of the url is pretty blatantly biased. However, one can write the ATCC and get a rebuttal. Do it.

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blight January 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

The original ATCC for B. anthracis was ATCC 14578, which is now discontinued. The type strain is definitely not the Ames strain.

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Blake October 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm

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