Category Archives: Foreign Policy

How Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” Campaign Against Iran Now Works Against Him, by Moon of Alabama

President Trump may be the second president, after Jimmy Carter, to see his reelection hopes dashed by Iran. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

There is no evidence that Iran was behind Friday’s attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

There are many parties in the Middle East and in the United States who are interested in goading the U.S. into a military confrontation with Iran. Most of these parties have the capability to launch clandestine attacks on civilian vessels. That the U.S. government would blame Iran for any such attack is obvious. But even Israeli analysts doubtthat Iran is responsible for the recent incidents. The German government doubts that video the U.S. presented shows anything of significance. Others point at the suspicious timing of the incident.


biggerIsrael is of course the foremost candidate for such a false flag attack. Prime Minister Netanyahoo agitated against Iran for the last 25 years. He multiple times threatened to directly attack the country but would prefer that the U.S. would do so. The Israeli clandestine service Mossad is capable of far reaching operations. Israel’s submarines are known to have operated in the Arab Sea.

The Saudis are under pressure from Houthi forces at their southern borders. The Houthi receive some material support from Iran. If the U.S. would attack Iran, the Saudis would be relieved. The Saudis need oil prices way above the current $60 per barrel to finance their state. Anything that drives up the price, like the tanker attacks, is obviously in their interest. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey demonstrated that the Saudis developed extensive clandestine capabilities and have no qualms to use them.

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US, NATO Consumed by ‘Black Sea Madness’, by Martin Sieff

The US government is in the grips of a delusion that it can operate in and control other countries’ waters in far-flung corners of the globe: the Baltic Sea, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Black Sea. From Marin Sieff at strategic-culture.org:

Whom the gods would destroy, Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, they first make mad. What would Nietzsche make of the current, truly mad US and NATO obsession with charging into the Black Sea? It is a useful thought to ponder.

The Black Sea was far outside NATO’s traditional theater of operations for most of the Alliance’s history. However, Brussels and Washington have been piling up their military assets and visibility in the region like bees at a honey pot – or like a rogue herd of elephants charging off the edge of a cliff.

Yet NATO’s “In Your Face” presence in the Black Sea protects no one. On the contrary, it puts America’s allies in the region at grave risk by escalating tensions and increasing the danger that full scale war could break out by deliberately manufactured incident (Just think the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and or through a random error or clash that escalates out of control.

The US/NATO forward presence in the Black Sea is strategic madness. And it replicates parallel incendiary US exercises in fake macho stupidity against Beijing in the South China Sea: A region from which the Chinese people suffered invasion and societal collapse on a genocidal scale following defeats by Britain and France in the First Opium War (1839-42) and by Imperial Japan in its terrible invasion of summer 1937.

Washington seems equally intent on opening up a third front against Iran with its parallel forward policy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Three simultaneous wars against three major nations, two of which are the largest, most populous in the world and formidably nuclear armed? US grand strategy –insofar as there is one – seems to have national suicide as its only goal.

This is especially bizarre in the Black Sea: Washington’s strongest and most important ally in the region, Turkey is now on the brink of being expelled from NATO because of the Turkish government’s determination to buy Russia’s excellent S-400 air defense system, the best of its kind in the world.

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Did the B-Team Overplay its Hand Against Iran? by Tom Luongo

Like a lot of fights the US picks, the blowback may be hell. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has a term of endearment for Iran’s enemies, “The B-Team.”

The “B-Team” consists of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister (nee Dictator) Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed.

When we look seriously at the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week the basic question that comes to mind is, Cui bono? Who benefits?

And it’s easy to see how the B-Team benefits from this attack and subsequent blaming Iran for it. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran opening up a dialogue on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump the threat of peace was in the air.

And none of the men on the B-Team profit from peace in the Middle East with respect to Iran. Getting Trump to stop hurling lightning bolts from the mountain top the B-Team guided him up would do nothing to help oil prices, which the Saudis and UAE need/want to remain high.

Bin Salman, in particular, cannot afford to see oil prices drop back into the $40’s per barrel. With the world awash in oil and supply tight, even with OPEC production cuts, Bin Salman is currently on very thin ice because of the Saudi Riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar, which he can’t abandon or the U.S. will abandon them.

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Seven Reasons To Be Highly Skeptical Of The Gulf Of Oman Incident, by Caitlin Johnstone

Most of the reasons boil down to the obvious fact: the US government lies all the time. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

In a move that surprised exactly zero people, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has wasted no time scrambling to blame Iran for damage done to two sea vessels in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, citing exactly zero evidence.

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told the press in a statement.

“The United States will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability. And we call upon all nations threatened by Iran’s provocative acts to join us in that endeavor,” Pompeo concluded before hastily shambling off, taking exactly zero questions.

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Is The US Preparing For War With Russia? by Leonard Savin

Good news, the US has all its ducks in line for a war with Russia. From Leonard Savin at orientalreview.org:

The RAND Corporation recently published a document entitled Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options. The study is the collective effort of experienced diplomats, including former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and US Ambassador to the European Union James Dobbins; a professor (Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, National Defence University) and military intelligence branched lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, Raphael Cohen; and seven other RAND researchers who specialise in international relations, the military industry, intelligence, politics, and technology.

It is a practical recommendation for how the US can use Russia’s weakness and vulnerability to further limit its political and economic potential.

It is also a kind of summary of a much more extensive monograph of some 300-odd pages entitled Extending Russia. Competing from Advantageous Ground by the same authors.

So what, exactly, are these influential political analysts suggesting to the American establishment?

Their full spectrum of operations is divided into four sections – economic, geopolitical, ideological and informational, and military measures. It is clear that the experts approached the development of their strategy rationally by measuring the potential costs for the US itself.

The economic section consists of four options that Russia has already been directly affected by in previous years. The first of these is expanding the production and export of US energy resources, which would affect global prices and therefore limit Russia’s profits. The second is strengthening sanctions, where the involvement of other countries in such a process is seen as essential. Next is helping Europe find new gas suppliers, including for LNG supplies. And, finally, encouraging migration from Russia to other countries, especially with regard to skilled workers and educated young people. It is assumed that the first three options would be the most beneficial to the US, although imposing deeper sanctions could bring certain risks.

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Demolition Derby in The Gulf, by Eric Margolis

Iran’s true crime isn’t that it hasn’t toed the US line since the revolution in 1979. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Who is attacking oil tankers in the Gulf between Oman and Iran?  So far, the answer is still a mystery.  The US, of course, accuses Iran.  Iran says it’s the US or its local allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Magnetic mines are blamed for the damage, though there have been claims of torpedo use.  Last month, four moored tankers were slightly damaged, though none seriously.  This time the attacks were more damaging but apparently not lethal.

A few cynics have even suggested Israel may be behind the tanker attack in order to provoke war between Iran and the United States – a key Israeli goal.  Or maybe it’s the Saudis whose goal is similar.  The Gulf is an ideal venue for false flag attacks.

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Trump Thinks US Oil Is His Strength When It’s His Achilles’ Heel, by Tom Luongo

It’s hard to call shale oil a US strength when so much of it is produced at a loss and funded by borrowed money. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:

Headlines abound about the massive surge in US shale oil production. The energy independence-cheering punditocracy hail this as a great victory. This includes President Trump.

And it would be if this surge in production was built on financially stable ground. But it isn’t. The fracking industry continues to bleed massive amounts of cash. As I pointed out in an article earlier this week, when accounting for this inconvenient truth much of the U.S’s return to dominance in the energy space is a lot of hot air.

Nick Cunningham’s article at Oilprice.com tells the tale.

Heading into 2019, the industry promised to stake out a renewed focus on capital discipline and shareholder returns. But that vow is now in danger of becoming yet another in a long line of unmet goals.

“Another quarter, another gusher of red ink,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, along with the Sightline Institute, wrote in a joint report on the first quarter earnings of the shale industry.

The report studied 29 North American shale companies and found a combined $2.5 billion in negative free cash flow in the first quarter. That was a deterioration from the $2.1 billion in negative cash flow from the fourth quarter of 2018. “This dismal cash flow performance came despite a 16 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in capital expenditures,” the report’s authors concluded.

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