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Movers and Shakers of U.S. Foreign Policy

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

11/14/06 "ICH" --- - The Milken Institute is situated in the heart of Santa Monica, Southern California. This ‘publicly supported independent economic think tank’ which has received a landmark multi-year grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles to help the ‘independent’ research of Milken realize its goal of establishing Israel as one of the top 10 countries in terms of quality of life and GDP per capita , was hosting author and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Max Boot on November 9th. He was launching his new book “War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History – 1500 to Today”. My interest in attending was to hear his strategy on Iran.

As a person who is considered to be one of the top 500 most influential people in the making of US foreign policy, it came as a jolt to hear him redefine America’s national interest and find myself having to re-learn the definition of ‘enemy’. What was alarming was that with the exception of a couple of Iranian friends, the crowd did not find his remarks contentious.

The mesmerized audience was happy to accept that an ‘enemy’ was anyone who fought back when his/her country was invaded. Using 21st century terminology ‘Jihadist’, he was referring to the 1859 invasion of Sudan by the British and the ease with which the crazy ‘jihadist Mahdi’ and his followers were gunned down without any fear of repercussion that the enemy, the terrorist Sudanese, would follow the good guys who had gone to Sudan to invade the country, back to England. Of course, these days with open borders this posed a problem. The same theory applied to the Algiers, according to Max, it was so easy back then to kill the ‘enemy’ without fear of ‘enemy Jihadists’ retaliating. I was left with a clear picture of an enemy – one who resisted occupation of his/her country.

Max Boot was talking about Iraq, but I believe he had Israel at heart and he was moving on to Iran.

Obviously he was pleased with the sectarian violence and the civil war in Iraq. Having admitted that he was totally oblivious of the Iranian culture, he was endorsing using the terrorist group Mojahedeen-e-Khalg (MEK) currently being trained in Iraq to break up Iran in a similar fashion in order to weaken the central government. He proudly shared his knowledge that Iran was only 51% Persian and the remainder 49% despised being under the Persian dominance. A bold statement for a man who pleads ignorance about Iranian culture! Grinning ear to ear, he had come up with the magic solution to stop Iran’s nuclear program and prevent it from giving weapons to the insurgents in Iraq.

Having sat through his talk and a host of irrelevant questions, finally the microphone found its way to me.

I told him that maybe the book had prevented him from keeping current, but according to BBC on line , the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction auditor has reported that KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton is arming the insurgents and not Iran. More than 14,000 weapons supplied by Halliburton destined for the Iraqi government found their way to the insurgent groups after Pentagon lost track of them!
The look of impatience and annoyance crept to his cheeky face; he was anticipating more insolence from my corner..

I reminded him that America had lost over 3000 lives fighting a ‘war on terror’, it had spent over $3 trillion dollars (I did not even mention the poor Iraqis), and here he was suggesting that we co-opt a group listed on the State Department’s foreign terrorist organization (FTO), when in fact we had been down that road in the past when we helped arm the Mujahedeen and train Osama ben Ladin. The consequences of that little venture came back to haunt us on 9/11. Why would he even contemplate putting America’s credibility on line, and make the possibility of another 9/11 feasible.

I was also curious to know why he defined the ‘jihadist, terrorist enemy’ as someone who wanted to defend his country – I was confused on that one. I wandered if Islam was a factor - even in 1859.

I suppose I should not have asked such a dumb question from such a smart man. After all, he is in Washington and I am in Salt Lake City. His beautifully articulated response, as if rehearsed often times before, was that the fascist Stalin was an ally of the US during World War II, so even if ‘we detest the MEK, we should use them to forward our national interest’.

I am not a history scholar, but I had read that the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 prompted the United States to see the Soviet Union as an embattled country being overrun by fascist forces, and this attitude was further reinforced in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. They joined forces to fight their enemies in spite of difference in ideology. The MEK terrorist group who have killed Americans are the enemy, not only in the context of having taken American lives, but in the broader sense of America’s ‘war on terror’.
He also said the mistake we made in Afghanistan was to leave too quickly. Puzzled, I thought does he intend for the US to go into Iran after the MEK and stay there – colonize or what? I never got the microphone back to ask these disturbing questions, nor did he explain what he meant about ‘jihadist, terrorist enemy’ – I suppose if America sent the MEK to Iran and nationalist Iranians fought them, which every single Iranian would, man, woman, child, young and old, they would all be labeled ‘jihadist, terrorists’ – what an irony to call a nationalist a terrorist for fighting terrorists!

Max Boot confidently announced that ‘it is in our national interest’ to disintegrate Iran and start a war using the MEK. He is not without influence. Already the co-founder and President (Technology) of Google search engine, Sergey Brin, has complied with his wishes. Iran’s map has been redrawn on the world’s number one search engine . But as he admitted, he is ignorant of the Iranian culture. They are livid and will not let this rest.

In the forum at the Milken Institute, attended by rich folks ready to write checks in praise of his clever ideas and ideals, an audience of 99% Jewry, whose national interest was Max referring to?

He did speak of America’s failure in the Iraq war, but did it serve Israel? With the disintegration of the threat from Iraq, over 650,000 dead Iraqis, the United States illegal invasion, its use of torture, the violation of the Geneva Conventions, and the world’s focus on the war there, more than any other time Israel seems to have a carte blanche to massacre its neighbors and expand its illegal occupation of Gaza.
Having convinced America to attack and destroy Iraq, ‘independent’ institutions that serve Israel’s interests, are now persuading the White House to destroy Iran, with no regard for the country that has stood staunchly behind Israel – America itself. America has repeatedly put its moral credibility and its national interest on line for Israel, thanks to Milken and similar think tanks, persuaded by influential people like Max Boot. And the people of Middle East pay the price.

Without a doubt, in the very near future, Americans will wake up with a jolt and realize that they have paid the heftiest price of all. Their White House can no longer make a decision without Israel’s blessing. They will recognize that gone with the lives of their sons and daughters, is their reputation, and they have become a nation both morally and fiscally bankrupt only to enable the growth of an unstoppable fiend in the Middle East. Armed with nuclear weapons backed by American policy makers, the ugly face of this fiend may well turn on the US if the next veto is denied, or if peace in the Middle East is chosen over another bloody and senseless war. That will be the real Armageddon.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France, Australia and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and she is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies concentrating in Political Science. She has done extensive research on US foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program.

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