Thursday, November 14, 2013

Three Decades Of Iran/USA Secret Hostilities!   President Ronald Reagan as The American Hamlet!
Please read David Crist’s The Twilight War.

While the Republican Political Cardinals attempt to canonize  former President Ronald Reagan as a ‘Man For All Seasons’,    I had to step back from the Cathedral of Paeans and reflect.   By chance,  I picked up a book entitled The Twilight War: The Secret History Of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict With Iran by David Crist.    Unbeknown to me,  David Crist is currently the historian for the federal government and a frequent adviser to senior USG civilian/military officials.    He was a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and served one tour in the First Iraq War and two tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
But what really compelled me to write this blog was the incredible amount of information that I had not known about this Crypto-War that the USG has conducted vis a vis Iran.   What was particularly interesting to me were Crist’s descriptions of the contretemps relating to Iran and the furious arguments that senior officials in Reagan’s Administrations had with regard to attacking Iran or supporting the Ayatollah’s enemies.   Yes,  contradictions abounded within the Reagan and subsequent administrations with regard to USA relationships with Iran.
The recent,  inevitable denouement with Iran culminates three decades of endless drama encompassing unique and influential game players on both sides of the chess board.    Although I served in the State Department during the Reagan Administration,   I was certainly not exposed to the intense rivalry among Secretary of Defense,  Caspar Weinberger,   Secretary of State George Shultz, and National Security Advisor,  Robert “Bud” McFarlane.    Admittedly,   I was working with another host of characters—Don Gregg [CIA] ; Fritz Ermath [ CIA]; V. P. George H. W. Bush Sr’s office—on a completely different area of  strategic concern --  the dismantling  of the Soviet Union  through Psychological Warfare.   Interesting that none of the these players were mentioned in Crist's book.   Also worth noting:  although I  developed a strategy paper in which I had to incorporate Ronald Reagan’s negotiating style versus the Soviet leader’s modus operandi,  I was unaware of Crist's observation that "Reagan hated personal confrontations."    In his book,   Crist points out this aspect of Reagan that I had not encountered but I had found quite revealing and foreboding.
Crist then goes onto explain that Reagan was unable to made any effective decisions in terms of US retaliatory actions after the unfortunate tragic death of 241 Marines as well as 58 French paratroopers in the Hezbollah bombing of the US Marine barracks on October 23, 1983.     “For the U.S. Marine Corps,   it was the worst loss of life in a single day since Iwo Jima in 1943.”
The US Marines had been mistakenly sent by Reagan into Lebanon as a ‘Peacekeeping Troops’ interceding between the Israeli/Christian Lebanese and the warring factions of Shia,  Druze,  Syrian, Sunnis.     This indeterminate internecine conflict would not be resolved for another decade or so.    In many ways,  as Crist writes,  this was a “needless death” of our brave Marines;  in part,  thanks to the “incompetency” of our civilian leaders [i.e. Reagan] in the White House and elsewhere in the USG.
  In this book,  Crist forges onward,   as any good Marine would do.    He ventures where no one else has dares to go.   He undertakes the impossible mission of attempting to redefine  the universally accepted definition of  ‘terrorism’  from the perspective of the combatant:   “While Israel and the United States condemned these as acts of terrorism,  in truth the attacks were not terrorism.   The founders of Hezbollah had devised the poor man’s smart bomb and aimed it at their opponent's ill-prepared military.”
Crist adds the following quote to make his judicious point:   “If Hezbollah had GPS-guided bombs dropped from thirty thousand feet,  they would not need martyrs”,  said one Lebanese official with Hezbollah.
I remembered that tragic day and I recall how perplexed I felt as to how that tragedy could have happened,   given the sophisticated intelligence that we had in both the CIA/MI.   Nevertheless, Crist highlights a most telling point that I had completely failed to recognize as both a psychiatrist and State Dept. strategist/tactician.    Crist delineates in a very compelling prose the fact that the USA had become what he called,   a “Hamlet of Nations.”

Here is what he had delineated most forcefully in the book:
“….in the end,   REAGAN became the AMERICAN HAMLET. [my emphasis].    The debate over responding to terrorist attacks continued week after week in the White House…”
“A shortsighted Israeli policy and American Cold War naivete opened the door for Iran in Lebanon.    Israel’s myopic obsession with destroying the Palestinian resistance spawned a far more dangerous enemy,   while an American government equally fixated with the Soviet influence in the Middle East had led to misguided meddling in a Lebanese quarrel that Washington barely understood.    In the process,   Hezbollah’s success had emboldened Iran on the value of terrorism and the poor man’s precision weapon—the truck bomb---as instruments for successfully beating a superpower.” 
  Sound familiar?
  Déjà vu, all over again!!!
Let us remember that anytime a Republican praises Reagan,   lest he/she pause for a moment to understand that by omission of historical fact,   he/she may have committed the greatest of all commissions—lying to the American public for personal gain
Stop praising the wrong guys!   it will continue to lead to a destructive foreign policy in the Middle East.
We have had too many Hamlets in both the purviews of  'too precipitous action'  [Iraq/Afghanistan]  and inaction.
Whatever pew of the church of politics you might kneel in,  be it Democrat,  Republican,  Tea Party,  or whatever,   please don’t forget to learn about our history toward Iran
If nothing else,  spend a few minutes a day and take the time to read,  David Crist’s book,  The Twilight War.

Semper Fei!!!


  1. Dr Steve, Do you know anything about this horrific story of US Air Force veteran Robin Temple who has been put through severe HELL plus some, she went into hospital for a simple ovariectomy that went wrong in January 2007. If you go on youtube and search for 'Melissa Pontello' a video will come with the headline 'Nov 8, 201' that video reveals this lady's horrific story!

    1. Ronald Reagan was decisive in areas where there was no risk involved - Grenada and the 1986 raid in Libya.

      The problem he had with Lebanon was that there was no consensus among his advisors and the attack on the Marines and the US Embassy showed that not only did HE not understand what was going on but none of his advisors did either.

      I don't think of Reagan as a "Hamlet" in that situation. I think it's clear that like Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs that he had to realize that none of his people knew what they claimed, and that the best course was to "tread lightly" [as Walter White would say].

      Except for Bush II in his first term all Presidents since WWII have been risk averse, and as Bill Kaufmann told me, "they tend to wade into the waters very slowly first with one two and then two toes and so forth because they don't know where it all might end."

      I blame Reagan for not understanding the realities of Central America, Afghanistan, etc., and Director Casey is to blame for that. But Reagan was using common sense regarding Lebanon at that stage.

      The truth is he had the guts to turn tail and leave. Most people prefer to stay around when it's not wise because their buddies are dead on the field.

      Reagan cut his losses and left.

    2. Ovary removal = Oophorectomy. But not to worry hey hey, when I first heard the word Emeritus as a kid, i thought someone had inflammation of the Emer. Ouch! ; )

  2. Dr. P,
    Anyone with the title "USG HISTORIAN" is suspect. There are 3 sides to every story.
    Here is one that unfortunately is far more believable:
    Brave New World or The twilight zone---

  3. Perhaps Col. Crist would like to write about the FRAUD perpetrated on the american citizens & the world--Iran is irelevant compared to this:


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  6. Bravo DC and SP for comparing the Grand Chessboard totalitarian technetronic Skynet era with the human tragedy of Hamlet

    As a former Cornell Medical Human Ecology employee in Finance and White House Fellowship applicant when NSA BMc was on psychmeds from extreme RR WH cognitive dissonance, I gently suggested endless war and welfare expansion were economic risks to National Security

    33 years later the USDebtClock shows $17+T Fed Debt and $127 T unfunded liabilities 9 times the size of the US Economy

    Add in $234 T US Bank Derivatives and debts are 24 times the GDP

    Even with 100% taxes or a functional Congress, it is clear these debts will not be repaid within the lifetimes of most Baby Boomers, unless the scale, scope and size of US Government is redefined according to Constitutional Powers

    The question is, under present dysfunctional Bloods and Crips regimes, if the US debt can even be serviced without default or more severe inflation (9% real) and unemployment (37% real), currently adding up to a record Misery Index of 46%

    I still count myself fortunate to have Persian and Indian friends whose ancestors invented Architecture, Chess and government, explored the human mind in depth, wrote Classics and Poetry in Sanskrit and repelled Alexander the Great before the USA was a colony

    1. India, Pakistan and Iran are some of the most fucked-up places you'd ever wanna find. Enough of this western-bashing praise for these third world mongrels.

    2. "33 years later the USDebtClock shows $17+T Fed Debt"

      The National Debt is the record of all currency created by the US FEDERAL Government since 1791 minus the amount of US currency destroyed (taxes). It is not what we owe. It is what we OWN.

      The US government is the only entity worldwide that is legally allowed to issue US dollars. The federal government is the ISSUER OF THE CURRENCY.

      I could quote paragraphs here, but if you're really interested in understanding this, read the recent book, "Freedom from National Debt" written by Frank N Newman and published in April 2013. It’s 87 pages. Newman was former Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury, and knows what he's talking about, unlike Jack Lew and President Sparky, who are impoverishing the country.

      The National Debt--or Debt Held by the Public, or Public Debt, take your pick--is in the accounts of pension funds, individual bank accounts, corporate bank accounts, state governments, trust funds, local governments, university endowments, and your grandma's savings bond. In other words, in the bank accounts of the USERS OF THE CURRENCY. (And when I say currency, I mean the unit of account: the $US dollar. So that includes coins, Federal Reserve Notes or dollars, and US Treasuries.)

      If we get rid of the National Debt, no one in this country will have a penny to their name. There will be no money.

      And don’t you think that if this really were a problem, someone would have sounded the alarm when it was $3T? Or $1.5T? Or $6T?

      Thea reason why the federal government calls money ‘debt’ is because they use double-entry accounting and the name is an accounting artifact. It is NOT debt as you and I know it, because we are users of the currency. We are on the other side of the aisle. For us, state governments, local governments, businesses, and households, debt is something we owe a bank, have to pay interest on, and provide collateral for. The federal government has no such restrictions; it is not income-restrained; it creates the currency. Where else could it come from?

  7. Richard Charles, regarding the debt. It looks bad and it is, but what can be created, can also be extinguished. That may be what happens down the road.

    If the Fed can get the usual suspects of the sugar high without a crash, there could be a softer landing than many state.

    But somebody will take an adjustment.

  8. A different take on the beginnings of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

    Iran and the Shah: What Really Happened

    Excerpt from the article:

    "Houchang Nahavandi, one of the Shah’s ministers and closest advisers, reveals in his book The Last Shah of Iran: 'We now know that the idea of deposing the Shah was broached continually, from the mid-seventies on, in the National Security Council in Washington, by Henry Kissinger, whom the Shah thought of as a firm friend.'"

    Writes Nahavandi:

    "George Ball — that guru of American diplomacy and prominento of certain think-tanks and pressure groups — once paid a long visit to Teheran, where, interestingly, the National Broadcasting Authority placed an office at his disposal. Once installed there, he played host to all the best-known dissidents and gave them encouragement. After he returned to Washington, he made public statements, hostile and insulting to the Sovereign."

    And: "Suddenly, the Shah noted, the U.S. media found him 'a despot, an oppressor, a tyrant.' Kennedy denounced him for running 'one of the most violent regimes in the history of mankind.'"

    Perhaps, somebody should write a book about that... Oh, already been done... and then a movie, but it didn't get full support from the Pentagon, as being suitable for psychological warfare, either to boost morale or show off capability and reveal the inevitable attraction and moral rightness of "our system".

    Amazing how good a book can be if it gets the correct specs:

    Be that as it may, the real history makes the failure to get an agreement even more tragic.

    The Iran of today has been pushed and pulled by a meddling and then controlling U. S. A. for a long time, starting in '53, if not earlier.

    "For Western TV cameras, protestors in Teheran carried empty coffins, or coffins seized from genuine funerals, proclaiming these were “victims of SAVAK.” This deception — later admitted by the revolutionaries — was necessary because they had no actual martyrs to parade. Another tactic: demonstrators splashed themselves with mercurochrome, claiming SAVAK had bloodied them."

    "The Western media cooperated. When Carter visited Iran at the end of 1977, the press reported that his departure to Teheran International Airport had been through empty streets, because the city was “all locked up and emptied of people, by order of the SAVAK.” What the media didn’t mention: Carter chose to depart at 6 a.m., when the streets were naturally empty."

    A modern, peaceful Iran trading with its neighbors amid constructive diplomacy and healthy cultural & intellectual exchanges was within reach then and it can be today.

    1. Nahavandi, from The Last Shah of Iran, writes:

      "The alternation of parties does not change the diplomatic orientation of the United States that much. The process of toppling the Shah had been envisaged and initiated in 1974, under a certain Republican administration.... Numerous, published documents and studies bear witness to the fact, even if it was not until the beginning of the Carter administration that the decision was made to take concerted action by evoking problems related to human rights."

      The more things change, the more they stay the same:

      "Assad has abused human rights, he must go."

      Obama, Clinton, Panetta, take your pick, parroted by the media.

      Boy, this gets old.

      There is a better way.

      Mutually beneficial for all.

    2. Echoes of the 'Arab Spring' with professionally organized protesters.

      Contrived... the pulling of strings on a marionette:

      "Although the media depicted demonstrations as “spontaneous uprisings,” professional revolutionaries organized them. Some Iranian students were caught up in it. Here the Shah’s generosity backfired. As du Berrier pointed out:

      In his desperate need of men capable of handling the sophisticated equipment he was bringing in, the Shah had sent over a hundred thousand students abroad.... Those educated in France and America return indoctrinated by leftist professors and eager to serve as links between comrades abroad and the Communist Party at home."

      All the tactics are on display over thirty years ago.

      The same false protest used to justify Mohammad Mosaddegh's ouster.

      Per Wikipedia: "On 19 August, a pro-Shah mob paid by the CIA, marched on Mosaddegh's residence. According to the CIA's declassified documents and records, some of the most feared mobsters in Tehran were hired by the CIA to stage pro-Shah riots on 19 August. Other CIA-paid men were brought into Tehran in buses and trucks, and took over the streets of the city. Between 300 and 800 people were killed because of the conflict."

      Now they (Saudi, US, Israel) hire "Islamic" mercenaries on the black market. Or organize well meaning, but naïve, youth to block & parade in the public square.

      U. S. foreign policy.

  9. Could this be possible, Shamus Cooke reports of Obama:

    "And now suddenly Obama is acting uncharacteristically rational. He’s agitating for peace among his anti-Syria coalition of close regional allies, namely Turkey and the Gulf Monarchy Sunni Islam dictatorships (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc.). Obama is pressuring them to stop sending money, arms, and Sunni Islamic extremist fighters into Syria to topple Assad, so that peace can be pursued instead, a 180 degree shift in strategy. This has already seemed to have had an effect with Qatar and Turkey."

    Let's hope so, but as the article further notes, it could be a feint, on a chessboard, leading to Iran, regional war, even world war.

    Cooke closes: "Only this kind of consistency is capable of ensuring a temporary peace with Iran and Syria, and anything less will prove that Obama is implicitly pursuing the path of war by other means."

    President Obama would be wise to turn down the temperature on the Middle East pressure cooker; it is in the vital national security interest of the United States, that he do so.

    Shamus Cooke's piece on the Middle East:

    Are Obama’s Middle East Peace Talks Sincere?

  10. One caveat with the piece:

    Cooke wrote: "If Obama is serious about peace talks...[he will end up]...condemning Israel in front of the world stage if it continues to act provocatively..."

    Not going to happen. The statements the Obama administration is currently making regarding Israeli policies is about as strong as you're going to get.

    And that may be strong enough with a good faith purpose of "turning down the temperature" without imperiling Israeli peace & security.

    The Israelis need to take a time out from this full court pressure, and look in the direction of peace, thinking how they can benefit from peace.

    And realize war leads to Pyrrhic victory.

  11. Dateline November 23, 2013

    Iran, world powers reach historic interim nuclear agreement

    Iran and world powers sign preliminary agreement freezing parts of Iran's nuclear program in return for some initial easing of economic sanctions.

    This preliminary, interim agreement is to be followed up with a permanent treaty with verification provisions and benchmark provisions for peaceful nuclear research & development.

    Let's hope it holds up.

  12. Dr. Pieczenik,

    Read Victor Ostrovsky's version of what happened in Lebanon. He was there, and if I remember correctly, he was involved. (Ostrovsky was Mossad then.)

  13. Dimitry Khalezov mentioned several bombings which were nuked. I think he may have included the Beirut bombing as one of them.

  14. The shrill rejections are coming fast & furious. Not surprising.

    A couple of things. What most of the rejectionists want is the Israeli position: Complete dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear program with zero enrichment capability.

    But this is a ultimatum, not a pre-negotiation position. As one writer put it, Israel's position is an ultimatum where only a capitulation & surrender is acceptable.

    But Iran won't capitulate & surrender, so if Iran won't surrender, then the only response which backs up the ultimatum would be war.

    But say Iran did capitulate & surrender, for sake of argument, isn't it apparent you would be left with a dangerous and sullen Iran with plenty of other avenues for mischief?

    An agreement after capitulation (without any military action) would not be a stable agreement and subject to secret breakout the whole time it was in force. It would make Iran more dangerous than it is today.

    A consideration for policy makers is that the current posture (pre-agreement) is that Iran is being driven deeper into the Russian and Chinese orbit.

    Iran for historical border and sovereignty issues vis-à-vis Russia has reasons for not wanting to be completely in the Russian orbit, not does Iran want to be in any "Chinese orbit".

    Iran wants to be an independent, nation-state actor in the region. A successful agreement allows Iran to be independent from Russia and China.

    A westward facing Iran, confident and independent is better than an Iran backed into the willing arms of Russia and China.

    Russia is playing the influence game: Take Syria as an example. Syria was closer to Russia than any other country, but had also worked to maintain an independent stance from Russia as well as the West, despite getting its military equipment from Russia.

    It's the case of the dog who didn't bark. (Cont.)

    1. Addition and/or correction: Many would say Iran is/was closer to Syria than Russia. Really? Who was able to save Syria from a U. S. bombing campaign?

      Who has a military sea port on the coast of Syria?

      Russia's only military sea port on the whole Mediterranean Sea.

      Who supplies the weapons to Syria? I bet mostly Russian. Yes, I'll throw in some Iranian weapons , too.

      And the tide has turned away from the mercenaries on the ground.

      Time to tell Saudi to turn off the tap, if it already has, then time to turn up the diplomatic communication, so as to turn off the tap.

  15. (Cont.)

    Saudi Arabia was passing weapons into Syria, everybody knew that including the Russians who sit on the United Nations Security Council. Russia could have brought the matter up at the security council, as this act is a flagrant violation of international law, but Russia did not, they remained silent in the face of their putative client state being flooded with weapons and mercenaries.


    Possibly because Russia was willing to gamble that Syria would be forced deeper into their loving arms for the sake of survival, then Syria would be that much more within the Russian orbit of influence.

    The Syrian policy was a complete debacle from a U. S. vantage point, as Syria not only maintains its current government, but that government is driven away from the West and into the Russian sphere of influence.

    The same thing can be avoided regarding Iran. Iran's young people are open to the West, thus, with a peaceful diplomatic relationship with western powers, over time Iran would drift further towards the West, as those well disposed young people move into society with positions of power & influence over time.

    It is in the United State's interest to see an Iran which is independent from Russia and China. Iran wants to maintain independence from Russia and likely is wary of Chinese domination, too.

    So, we have what is known in diplomacy as a convergence of interests between the U. S. and Iran, both want to see Iran as a mature, peaceful, trading nation, which is independent of Russia and China. (The longstanding, unstated U. S. diplomatic goal of a dependent Iran is not going to happen. Better to facilitate the proud independence of Iran who then responds to normalized diplomacy and understands and responds to nuanced diplomatic signals.

    Iran wants to be a responsible nation-state in the community of nations, but as an independent actor, is that such a hard thing to understand and work with over time.

    Doesn't the U. S. and the West have enough confidence in their ability to offer things of value to Iran via a workman-like economic relationship at equal arms-length negotiation, that over time Iran will work with the West where Iranian interests and U. S. interests converge?

    Does the U. S. want to drive Iran further into the Russian sphere of influence? Does the U. S. want to alienate the young people of Iran over time and lose that strategic advantage over Russian influence, which apparently offers little in the way of attractiveness to young Iranians?

    The Americans who support Israel, but who put American interests first, need to consider the long-term consequences.

    And, interestingly, if Israel could put down the war drums long enough, they might realize (as some Israeli military have) that a stable Iran actually benefits Israel in the long run.

    Now, I know this is a long-shot, but if the Palestinian issue could be resolved, with Iran having a native Jewish population (loyal to Iran, not Israel), then Israel might have their own economic relationship with Iran which would be highly beneficial to Israeli business interests.

    Israel wants to crush Iran, but that is simply unrealistic, better to gain a positive influence on Iran than to push for the diplomatic surrender of Iran which will only breed continued bad relations and a possibly revengeful Iran bent on getting even.

    Netanyahu and his clique along with Israeli Firsters in the U. S. are hurting the long-term interests of the state of Israel.