20/01/2011 - 00:00

I’ll take good old-fashioned research any day

20/01/2011 - 00:00


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Very little of what’s been released by WikiLeaks is ground-breaking, so what’s all the fuss about?

I’ll take good old-fashioned research any day

AFTER just two days of reading the pre-Christmas saturation coverage of WikiLeaks-driven articles, State Scene resolved not to look at another of these over-rated private diplomatic communications.

The reason for lowering the shutters was that so little reported was news.

Anyone following international issues relatively assiduously, by which I mean keeping abreast of press reports and politics journals, wouldn’t have been surprised by virtually all the WikiLeaks-derived stories.

Some may say that’s being overly critical, that I’m minimising the activities of Julian Assange (“that micro-megalomaniac”, as one columnist dubbed him), who claims to have 200,000-plus American diplomatic memos.

Not so.

Rather than taking my word, let’s demonstrate this point.

The Monday December 13 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald carried an article by Philip Dorling, headlined, ‘Intelligence chiefs fear nuclear war between Israel and Tehran’.

Dorling, a defence correspondent and author, is currently a visiting fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Like Kevin Rudd, he joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and, about 15 years ago, moved over to the ALP, not as a candidate like Mr Rudd, but as adviser to then foreign affairs spokesman, Laurie Brereton.

Dorling knows something about leaks, having had his home searched in September 2000 by Federal Police seeking documents.

What did Dorling’s pre-Christmas WikiLeaks report say?

“Australian intelligence agencies fear that Israel might launch military strikes against Iran and that Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities could draw the US and Australia into a potential nuclear war in the Middle East,” he wrote.

“The warnings about the dangers of nuclear conflict in the Middle East are given in a secret US embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to The Sydney Morning Herald.

“‘The Australian intelligence community’s leading concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions centre on understanding the time frame of a possible weapons capability, and working with the United States to prevent Israel from independently launching uncoordinated military strikes against Iran’,” the US Embassy in Canberra reported to Washington in March last year.

And so on.

It all looks like really dramatic insider super-snoop stuff.

But on closer inspection there’s nothing that anyone keeping half an open eye upon the coming next stage of the present undeclared Iran-Israel war could not have learned from open sources.

And here I’m even referring to myself, and I’ve never claimed to be an expert on the Middle East, just an interested distant observer.

Let’s now confirm that claim.

In May 2010, I was invited to a lunch in Perth with visiting Israeli political scientist Efraim Inbar of the Tel Aviv-based Bergin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.

Professor Inbar is a straight-shooting no-nonsense individual, so I immediately liked him.

His expertise is Islamist jihardism plus Turkish and Iranian Middle Eastern and broader aspirations.

At the end of our lunchtime meeting I concluded basically his position was that, should Iran ever overstep the line in its longstanding existential threats against Israel, it could expect a formidable first strike from which it’s unlikely to ever recover.

State Scene didn’t, therefore, need to read stolen WikiLeaks documents to work this out.

Soon after, the account of my interview with Professor Inbar appeared in the Council for the National Interest’s journal, National Observer.

It’s on the web: ‘The Consequences of America’s Declining power in the Middle East’, National Observer, Australia, No. 83, June-August 2010.

Here are some extracts.

“Middle Eastern leaders, especially in Israel, Turkey, Iran and Egypt, but also in other Arab states, have concluded that America’s President Barack Obama is a weak man who has indicated that he’s withdrawing American power from the region. Obama is viewed as a man who delivers nice speeches but lacks muscle,” I wrote.

“Professor Inbar said all Arab states, including especially Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, feared Iran and its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies ensconced on Israel’s northern and southern borders respectively.

“Clearly this Iranian sphere of influence — which extends beyond the entire Persian Gulf to the shores of the Mediterranean — makes Iran the obvious emerging imperial contender for the region.

“In the Middle East everyone is afraid of everybody; it is not only Israelis who fear.

“Having nuclear weapons means Teheran will scare everybody in the region.

“The international community has allowed them to get away with it for over 10 years.

“Their missiles will be able to reach parts of Europe. Iran is also the hub of exporting terrorism.”

Professor Inbar added that if Israeli airmen were ever asked to strike Iran there already were volunteers – men prepared to fly missions they know could be their last.

But subsequent investigation by State Scene convinced me Israel will probably not need to launch a Kamikaze nuclear or other type of strike using Saudi Arabian airspace to thwart Iranian colonial aspirations covered by nuclear threats.

Mutually assured destruction is fast approaching the Middle East.

Israel has the finest and best trained Middle Eastern submarine fleet, and it’s nuclear armed.

Little is said about this crack maritime unit.

During 2010, Iran installed powerful radars into Syria to closely monitor Israeli air movements. And Israel bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, probably bought from North Korea with Iranian complicity.

However, what WikiLeaks didn’t tell us was that Israel last year redeployed three of its five Dolphin-class submarines in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, waters adjacent Iran.

Egypt, which like Saudi Arabia, fears Iran, let these submarines pass through the Suez Canal.

“All three German-built submarines — the Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have previously patrolled in the gulf, but are now expected to be assigned to waters off Iran as a permanent station.” I wrote.

“Each carries nuclear-tipped Cruise Missiles.’’

If these vessels of the deep are ever simultaneously stationed off Iran, Israel’s strike power would be devastating.

“Each submarine is armed with six 553mm torpedo tubes that are capable of launching sub-Harpoon missiles,” I continued.

“Furthermore, four of the torpedo tubes aboard each of these submarines were recently enlarged and it is believed this means they are now equipped to launch nuclear-tipped Popeye Turbo cruise missiles (a variant of the Popeye/AGM-142 Have Nap standoff missile) that have a 1,500-kilometre range.

“The decision to put submarines on permanent station off Iran means Israel can launch a devastating counter-attack should any future strike be launched against it from Syria, Gaza or southern Lebanon.

According to London’s Sunday Times (May 30), the Israeli submarine flotilla’s commander, identified only as ‘Colonel O’, said: ‘We are an underwater assault force. We’re operating deep and far, very far, from our borders’.

Israeli intelligence often uses the British press to warn enemies of the consequences of any belligerent act.

“Ballistic missiles developed by Iran, and in the possession of Syria and Hezbollah, could be used to hit strategic sites within Israel, which include air bases and missile-launchers,” the Sunday Times report said.

“What remains to be seen is how Tehran’s fundamentalists, with their irrational views about global cataclysms, will respond to an Israeli threat of retaliation hanging over them.”

Need one go on?

And I discovered all this months before any WikiLeaks release.

Virtually all other issues can be similarly investigated.



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