Category Archives: Geopolitics

Sanctions Bill: An Ode to Hypocrisy, Groupthink, Smugness, and Cronyism, by Justin Raimondo

Congress enshrines a state of permanent US hostility towards Russia, Iran, and North Korea. From Justin Raimondo at antwar.com:

The Republican-controlled Congress couldn’t get it together on healthcare, infrastructure, immigration, or much of anything else, but, hey, they got together with the Democrats on a Russia sanctions bill: the “Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Act.” If you read the text, the proportion of moral preening, rheotorical rodomontade, and blustering bloviation is unusually high, even for a bill with Lindsey Graham’s and John McCain’s imprint all over it. That it also manages to violate the terms of the Iran deal is an extra added bonus.

The meat of the bill involves tying the President’s hands when it comes to actions intended to “significantly alter US foreign policy with regard to the Russia Federation” – with the explicit understanding that the default policy is implacable hostility. Under the terms of this bill, no action designed to improve relations with the Russians  is permitted. In order to take such actions, the President must first submit a proposal to the appropriate congressional committee, in both houses of Congress, which must then approve (or, more likely, disapprove) it.

This bill is, in effect, a de facto declaration of war – cold war, to be more precise. This is the Congress of the United States putting the nation – and the Russians – on notice that Cold War II has begun.

The bill is filled with self-justifying polemics, asserting that Russians have delayed or obstructed the Minsk agreements, when in reality it is the government of Ukraine which has refused to implement its part of the agreement by failing to hold local elections in eastern Ukraine, refusing to reform the constitution to comply with the Minsk accord, and continuing to bomb, strafe, and murder its own people in that region.

To continue reading: Sanctions Bill: An Ode to Hypocrisy, Groupthink, Smugness, and Cronyism

 

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Moscow, Baghdad Sign Huge Arms Deal, by Peter Korzun

Looks like Iraq is not going to be the Middle East’s shining star of democracy nor a reliable US satrapy. It’s lining up with Iran and Russia. From Peter Korzun at strategic-culture.org:

It was reported on July 20 that Russia and Iraq have struck a deal on supplying a large batch of T-90 tanks. Vladimir Kozhin, the Russian president’s aide for military technical cooperation, confirmed the agreement but declined to provide details, saying only «the number of tanks is substantial». Russian military analyst Ruslan Pukhov told Russian newspaper Izvestia that the deal might cover deliveries of several hundred T-90 tanks, and that the contract may exceed $1 billion.

The T-90 is among the best-selling tanks in the world. Hundreds of vehicles have been sold to India, Algeria, Azerbaijan and other countries. A small number of tanks has been delivered to Syria to reinforce the military’s capabilities of combatting Islamic State (IS). Kuwait, Vietnam and Egypt are considering the option of purchasing T-90s.

Known for its firepower, enhanced protection and mobility, the T-90 features a smoothbore 2A46M 125mm main gun that can fire both armor-piercing shells and anti-tank missiles and the 1A45T fire-control system. Standard protective measures include sophisticated armor, ensuring all-round protection of the crew and critical systems, including Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor and active infrared jammers to defend the T-90 from inbound rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and other projectiles.

During the battle for Aleppo, Syria, a T-90 was hit by US-made BGM-71 TOW missile. The direct impact caused no damage

The agreement to purchase the tanks was also confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The T-90s will reinforce the Iraqi M1A1 Abrams fleet damaged in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants. The decision to buy the Russian tanks was prompted by the successful performance of T-90s in Syria. During the battle for Aleppo, Syria, a T-90 was hit by US-made BGM-71 TOW missile. The direct impact caused no damage. For comparison, in October last year, an M1 Abrams was hit by a 9M133 Kornet anti-tank missile at the Qurayyah crossroads south of Mosul. The missile rammed into the turret from behind to make the ammunition compartment explode.

To continue reading: Moscow, Baghdad Sign Huge Arms Deal

 

Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’, by Tim Arango

The US invasion of Iraq only succeeded in making Iraq safe for the Iranians. From there, Iran has extended its influence into Syria and Lebanon. From Tim Arango at nytimes.com, a long but excellent piece documenting Iran’s influence in Iraq:

BAGHDAD — Walk into almost any market in Iraq and the shelves are filled with goods from Iran — milk, yogurt, chicken. Turn on the television and channel after channel broadcasts programs sympathetic to Iran.

A new building goes up? It is likely that the cement and bricks came from Iran. And when bored young Iraqi men take pills to get high, the illicit drugs are likely to have been smuggled across the porous Iranian border.

And that’s not even the half of it.

Across the country, Iranian-sponsored militias are hard at work establishing a corridor to move men and guns to proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon. And in the halls of power in Baghdad, even the most senior Iraqi cabinet officials have been blessed, or bounced out, by Iran’s leadership.

When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.

In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.

To continue reading: Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’

Our Options in Korea: Only One Is Lawful and Peaceful, by Paul W. Lovinger

Negotiation may not be the perfect option in Korea, but it’s better than any of the others. From Paul W. Lovinger at antiwar.com:

Peace talks follow a war. Why not hold those talks first and skip the war?

Donald Trump, who boasts of his art of the deal, said on May 1 he would be honored to meet with North Korea’s leader.

Now he accuses the North of “very, very dangerous behavior,” contemplating “pretty severe things” as the military provides “options.” And the top U.S. general in South Korea, Vincent Brooks, warns he can commence war at any time.

What changed? Moon Jae-in won election as South Korean president in May, upon promising better relations with Pyongyang. On July 4 the North announced its launch of a long-range missile. Is our military more worried about the North attacking America or about peace displacing us from Korea?

Military’s “options” probably don’t include a peaceful solution. But it’s the only sure way to avoid disaster. The 1950–53 Korean war killed millions – without nuclear weapons.

If Trump still believes in his deal-making skills, let him go to Pyongyang, a la Nixon to Beijing.

He’ll be welcomed.

The Tokyo-based paper Chosun Sinbo, known as a Pyongyang mouthpiece, says “avoiding armed conflict and seeking ways to find a clue to settle it via diplomatic negotiations have become a pressing issue that the international community can no longer turn away from.”

Talks with North Korea could achieve compromise, as in past years. Both sides might halt displays of force: Northern missile tests and US-South Korean military exercises. North Korea might possibly suspend its weapons development, as we end sanctions and deliver food.

Don’t expect Northern dictator Kim Jong-un to destroy nukes overnight. He needs them, not to attack, which means suicide, but to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qadaffi. Kim distrusts a nation that overthrew governments in Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Panama and seeks Syrian regime change.

Besides, what moral authority remains after A-bombing civilians and making thousands of huger bombs? Trump reaffirmed Obama’s plan for a trillion-dollar program to “modernize” our nuclear weapons and their delivery system (violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and – like North Korea – boycotted the UN proceedings for a nuclear-abolition treaty.

To continue reading: Our Options in Korea: Only One Is Lawful and Peaceful

Could Trump End the Syrian War? by Eric Margolis

As Eric Margolis notes, the US has no real business being in Syria, no strategic interests. However, if Trump actually ends the Syrian war, there’ll be hell to pay with the Deep State, which will not realize its cherished goal of deposing Assad. From Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled. So far, they have been disappointed. But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel.

President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria’s jihadist rebels that have fuelled the bloody six-year conflict. Washington, and its allies Britain and France, have persistently denied arming Syria’s jihadist rebels fighting to bring down the Russian and Iranian-backed government of President Bashar Assad.

Former President George W. Bush actively considered invading Syria around 2008 in collusion with Israel. But the Israelis then pointed out that there were no Western-friendly groups to replace Assad, only extreme militant Sunni Muslim groups. Even the usually reckless Bush called off the invasion of Syria.

By contrast, Barack Obama gave a green light to the CIA to arm, train and logistically support anti-Assad jihadist rebels in Syria. Arms poured in from Lebanon and, later, Turkey, paid for by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Small numbers of US, British and French advisors went to Syria to teach the jihadists how to use mortars, explosives, and anti-tank weapons. The media’s claim that the fighting in Syria was due to a spontaneous popular uprising was false. The repressive Assad government was widely unpopular but the uprising was another CIA ‘color-style’ operation.

The object of this operation was to overthrow President Assad and his Shiite-leaning regime, which was supported by Iran, a bogeyman to all the US-backed feudal Arab oil monarchies. Syria was also to be punished because it refused Washington’s demands to sever ties with Iran and accept US tutelage.

To continue reading: Could Trump End the Syrian War?

 

A Coup in the House of Saud? by Pepe Escobar

You rarely get the straight story on anything in which the CIA is involved, but the recent switch in the line of succession in the Saudi Arabian monarchy may well have been a “white coup.” From Pepe Escobar at lewrockwell.com:

What has been an open secret across the Arab world is not a secret anymore even in the US: What happened last month in the deep recesses of the House of Saud with the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, aka MBS, was in fact a white coup.

Nearly a month ago, as I’ve written elsewhere, a top Middle East source close to the House of Saud told me: “The CIA is very displeased with the firing of [former Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Nayef. Mohammad bin Salman is regarded as sponsoring terrorism. In April 2014 the entire royal families of the UAE and Saudi Arabia were to be ousted by the US over terrorism. A compromise was worked out that Nayef would take over running the kingdom to stop it.”

The source also referred to an insistent narrative then pervading selected Middle East geopolitical circles, according to which US intel, “indirectly”, had stopped another coup against the young Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, orchestrated by Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with help from Blackwater/Academi’s Eric Prince’s army of mercenaries in the United Arab Emirates. Zayed, crucially, happens to be MBS’s mentor.

But instead of a coup in Doha, what happened was actually a coup in Riyadh. According to the source, “the CIA blocked the coup in Qatar and the Saudis reacted by dumping the CIA-selected Mohammed bin Nayef, who was to be the next king. The Saudis are scared. The monarchy is in trouble, as the CIA can move the army in Saudi Arabia against the king. This was a defensive move by MBS.”

Now, almost a month later, confirmation of the white coup/regime change in Riyadh has been splashed on the front page of The New York Times, attributed mainly to the proverbial “current and former United States officials”.

That, in essence, is code for the US deep state, and confirms how the Central Intelligence Agency is extremely annoyed by the ouster of Nayef, a trusted partner and former counterterrorism czar. The CIA on the other hand simply does not trust arrogant, inexperienced and hubristic MBS.

To continue reading: A Coup in the House of Saud?

 

 

Dismantling McCain’s Disastrous Legacy Should Now Be Trump’s Top Priority, by Tom Luongo

John McCain has been the stalwart of a foreign policy that has been nothing but disastrous for the US. From Tom Luongo at lewrockwell.com:

It is hard to estimate how much influence over U.S. domestic and foreign policy John McCain had. With his illness upgraded to a glioblastoma in his head, the likelihood of his return to a policy position is unlikely.

As I predicted earlier this week, the severity of McCain’s health problems will inevitably usher in a major power shuffle in Washington.

The Arizona senator’s absence creates a unique opportunity for President Trump to alter the course of our foreign and domestic policy. From Iraq to Libya, Syria to Afghanistan and right up to Russia’s borders in Ukraine, McCain’s bloody paw prints are all over more than a decade of American foreign policy blunders.

Most of these foreign policy nightmares have served, directly or indirectly, to weaken Russia’s western and southern flanks and prevent Eurasian integration. And of all the excrement that has exited McCain’s mouth, his hatred for Russia has always seemed most sincere. Everything else is politically fungible.

His irrational hatred of Russia made him the perfect vessel for neoconservative policy. It allowed him, without irony, to share the stage with Nazi-sympathizers in Ukraine or rub elbows with Salafist head-chopping radicals in Syria while ensuring a steady flow of taxpayer money to these animals.

McCain’s Hate Talk Express to Hell

With him gone the driving force is gone as well. Many who stood with McCain on these issues did so because Washington is the ultimate ‘go along to get along’ kind of place. And few, if any, in the Senate have his drive to continue the work. Notice how quiet Lindsay Graham has been the last couple of weeks.

Many will see the writing on the wall and kiss the ring of President Trump to avoid a primary challenge in the spring.

And some will see this as a great opportunity to retire now that the status quo has shifted. Don’t forget that Diane Feinstein, McCain’s Democrat doppleganger is retiring in 2018. Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer are gone. The generation of U.S. legislators that brought us this madness are being put out to pasture. Nancy Pelosi is in trouble as House Minority Leader.

Do you really think many Democrats and RINOs have the will to fight now that their GOP Trojan Horse is on chemo?

To continue reading: Dismantling McCain’s Disastrous Legacy Should Now Be Trump’s Top Priority