A Third War: The Threat of War With Iran, Hammer Forum
10/16/08 — Former CIA officer Robert Baer makes the case that the US has unwittingly made Iran an emerging superpower. Dr. Trita Parsi argues that allowing Iran to use enriched uranium for fuel under the strict guidelines of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty puts the US in a strong position against nuclear weaponization and avoids engaging in a third war in the Middle East.
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About the Participants:
Baer’s books See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil were the basis for the 2005 Academy Award winning Warner Brothers motion picture Syriana. The film’s character Bob Barnes (played by George Clooney) is loosely based on Baer. For this role, Clooney won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. To better resemble Baer, Clooney gained weight. When Baer learned of this, he was inspired to get back into shape. For the past two years, Robert Baer has worked closely with the director Kevin Toolis and Many Rivers Films, a Channel 4 production company in the UK, and presented four authoritative documentary series, Cult of the Suicide Bomber I, The Cult of the Suicide Bomber II and Cult of the Suicide Bomber III on the origins of suicide bombing. Cult of the Suicide Bomber I was nominated for an Emmy in 2006. In 2008 Baer presented Car Bomb – a film history about the weapon.
During his twenty-year CIA career, Baer has publicly acknowledged field assignments in Madras and New Delhi, India; in Beirut, Lebanon; in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; in Morocco, and in Salah al-Din in Iraqi Kurdistan. During the mid-1990s Baer was sent to Iraq with the mission of organizing opposition to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein but was recalled, and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for allegedly conspiring to assassinate the Iraqi leader. While in Salah al-Din, Baer unsuccessfully urged the Clinton administration to back an internal Iraqi attempt to overthrow Hussein (organized by a group of Sunni military officers, the Iraqi National Congress‘ Ahmad Chalabi, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan‘s Jalal Talabani) in March 1995 with covert CIA assistance. Baer quit the Agency in 1997 and received the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal on March 11, 1998. Baer wrote the book See No Evil documenting his experiences while working for the Agency.
Baer offers an analysis of the Middle East through the lens of his experiences as a CIA operative. His political outlook does not hew exclusively to either conservative or liberal viewpoints. Through his years as a clandestine officer, he gained a very thorough knowledge of the Middle East, Arab world and former Republics of the Soviet Union. He speaks Arabic fluently. Over the years, Baer has become a strong advocate of the Agency’s need to increase Human Intelligence (HUMINT) through the recruitment of agents.
In 2002 in his autobiography See No Evil, he says on page 200 that he joked with Charles (Tiny) McKee that he ought to be careful or the terrorists would get him. This is said to have happened six months before the Lockerbie bombing. Unfortunately, the chapter is entitled 12, August 1988, Beirut, Lebanon, only four months before Lockerbie and nearly two months after the downing of Iran Air Flight 655. Baer long a supporter of the theory that the PFLP GC brought down the Maid of the Seas, has recently begun to promote the theory that Iran was behind the bombing.
In 2004, he told a reporter of the British political weekly New Statesman, regarding the way the CIA deals with terrorism suspects, “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt.” In 2008 in an interview with Gideon Levy he described himself as having been chief bomber for the CIA.
Baer was interviewed in the Robert Greenwald documentary Uncovered: The War on Iraq. He was also one of the main participants in the 2009 documentary film Lockerbie revisited by Dutch film director Gideon Levy.
SYRIANA BREAKS IRANIAN STEREOTYPES BY DARIUS KADIVAR
Trita Parsi is founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian politics, and the balance of power in the Middle East. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Treacherous Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D. He founded NIAC to provide a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-Americans could participate in American civic life. NIAC is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.
Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.
Parsi studied for his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to his PhD, he holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS. He is currently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.
He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi’s articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. See Official Website
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