Tag Archives: France

EU Launches Rebellion Against Trump’s Iran Sanctions, Bans European Companies From Complying, by Tyler Durden

If this sticks, it would mark a rare show of spunk by the EU in its relations with the US. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Following our discussion of Europe’s angry response to Trump’s unilateral Iran sanctions, in which European Union budget commissioner, Guenther Oettinger made it clear that Europe will not be viewed as a vassal state of the US, stating that “Trump despises weaklings. If we back down step by step, if we acquiesce, if we become a kind of junior partner of the US then we are lost”, moments ago Reuters reported that the European Commission is set to launch tomorrow the process of activating a law that bans European companies from complying with U.S. sanctions against Iran and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

“As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 1030,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

Speaking at news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Bulgaria, Juncker added that he “also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation will Iran.”

Europe’s hardline position will infuriate Trump, as Brussels effectively nullifying US sanctions will prompt a violent outburst from Trump, who needs Europe on his side for US sanctions of Iran to have any chance of succeeding.

Perhaps sensing what is coming, French President Emmanuel Macron took a slightly softer tone, and said that the French defense of Iran nuclear accord is based on concerns about security and stability, not commerce, and that the deal should be supplemented and it is necessary to continue negotiations, including on missile program.

The French president said that “the European Union decided to preserve the nuclear deal and defend EU companies” adding that “our main interest in Iran is not in trade, but in ensuring stability in the region, at the same time, we will not become an ally of Iran against the US.

To continue reading: EU Launches Rebellion Against Trump’s Iran Sanctions, Bans European Companies From Complying

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A Yuge Mistake, by Robert Gore

Trump didn’t think this one through.

What does President Trump hope to accomplish by withdrawing the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal? Does he want to go to war? Does he want to renegotiate the deal? Is he hoping sanctions stir so much unrest in Iran that its citizens overthrow the government?

Regardless of Trump’s goals, the withdrawal decision rests on a series of tactical errors and mistaken assumptions. He is overestimating US strength and underestimating that of its adversaries. His strategy has far too many moving parts. The risk that one or more fail is much higher than he apparently believes.

Trump may think he understands the Middle East and that he can trust his allies there. He’s wrong on both counts. The Middle East is a welter of ancient enmities and alliances, tribalism, sectarian strife, greed, duplicity, and intrigue (it’s not all that different from Washington) that nobody fully comprehends. Things are almost never as they appear. One categorical statement can be made: you put your own interests first or you don’t survive.

Saudi Arabia, the other Sunni Gulf states, and Israel have formed an alliance of convenience against their common enemy, Shiite Islam. Saudi Arabia is Sunni, Iran is Shiite, and the two countries have historically been the most powerful in the Middle East, vying for influence and dominance.

The alliance dreams of replacing the governments of Shiite Iran, Iraq, and Syria (Shiites are a minority in Syria, but Bashar al-Assad is Alawite, a Shiite sect) with Sunni satrapies. Next best is chaos and terror in those countries to keep them weak. The Sunnis, with the tacit support of Israel, bankrolled al Qaeda and ISIS to further their goals of chaos and regime change in Syria and Iraq

The United States has been duped into the alliance. There are no good reasons for the US to become involved in the Middle East’s toxic internecine rivalries. Israel can take care of itself, the US has its own oil, and even if it didn’t, the petro-states have to sell theirs to someone.

The US government has never articulated a coherent rationale for its Middle Eastern involvement, because there is none. It has sown the discord and destruction the Sunnis and Israel desire, enriched US defense and intelligence contractors, and fueled neoconservative pipe dreams of a “stable” (i.e. US-dominated) Middle East, all at a huge cost in blood, money, moral standing, destabilizing refugee flows, and terrorist blowback.

Nothing screams “duped” like Trump citing Benjamin Netanyahu in his Iran Nuclear Agreement withdrawal speech. Netanyahu lied in 2003 when he swore Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and assured the world a US invasion would be the best thing that ever happened to the Middle East. Netanyahu got what he wanted—Saddam Hussein deposed and Iraq subjugated at no cost to Israel. The US got stuck with the tab, which it’s still paying. After his Iraq whopper, Netanyahu should be held in the same regard as the boy who cried wolf. The rest of the world does, ignoring Netanyahu’s “evidence.” Much of it was old news, and Mossad is a proficient document fabricator. As for the US, fool me once….

Back to the original question: what does Trump hope to accomplish? Even if Trump were as stupid and crazy as his most demented critics claim (he’s not, not by a long shot), he wouldn’t be so stupid and crazy as to actually want to go to war with Iran. After the inglorious succession of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, you don’t attack a nation that is larger, more populated, more economically advanced, and a tougher military challenge than any of those prior targets. You especially don’t attack when that nation’s big brothers are Russia and China.

Trump’s bluffing. He’s trying to give the bluff more credibility by embracing figures who may be just stupid and crazy enough to want a war with Iran: Netanyahu, Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Trump’s largest campaign contributor, Sheldon Adelson (who once said Iran should be nuked). Iran, Russia, and China will call his bluff.

Iran has huge oil and natural gas reserves and China is the world’s largest importer. As part of the de-dollarization offensive against the reserve currency, Russia and Iran accept payment for their oil in yuan. Iran is a geographic and commercial linchpin of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Russia and China are involved in Iranian development and infrastructure projects and sells arms to the Iranian military. They will not sit still for a US war and regime change operation directed at their ally.

There are three main objections to the Iran nuclear deal. Obama’s sleight of hand in getting the deal—which is not a treaty—through Congress still rankle. The deal’s 10 and 15-year sunset clauses makes it a moratorium on nuclear development, not a permanent ban. And the inspection provisions do not allow for inspections of certain military facilities where Iran could be surreptitiously developing a bomb.

The procedural objections are valid, but do not impinge on the tactical merits of Trump’s withdrawal. If Iran considers itself no longer bound by the deal, withdrawal brings forward the sunset clause to the date of the withdrawal. That means Iran could restart its nuclear program today and, if Netanyahu’s warnings are correct, have a bomb in a year or two. Iran would also kick out the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, so the JCPOA signatories would lose even the “imperfect” inspection and monitoring capabilities they had under the agreement.

Trump would only risk bringing the objectionable sunset dates forward and losing the JCPOAs inspection and monitoring capabilities if he thought he could win a “better,” more stringent deal through renewed sanctions, threats of war, upheaval within Iran, and renegotiation. It’s a variation on his North Korea strategy, which may produce some sort of breakthrough agreement with that nation.

However, Trump’s negotiating position is weaker than Obama’s when the JCPOA was signed. The US has lost the war in Syria against the same alliance it would go up against in Iran. Sanctions have become the US’s main non-military weapon. Germany, France, and Great Britain may fall in line, but they’ll be hurt economically if they do. If they don’t, sanctions won’t work.

There’s no chance Russia and China will observe them. With Turkey, which helped Iran evade the last round of sanctions, they will help it evade the new ones. China will buy Iran’s oil and natural gas, providing it with yuan and perhaps gold reserves outside the US-dominated global payments system. The BRI will go on, building links from Iran to the rest of Eurasia. Iran is not North Korea, and with the support of its big brothers has far more ability to stand up to Trump.

Whether or not any of the other JCPOA signatories implement sanctions, they probably will not support a more stringent agreement. It would be a classic case of rewarding what they regard as Trump’s bad behavior. The Europeans are annoyed and Russia and China certainly won’t play ball.

If Trump doesn’t get his new agreement, there are yawning downsides. Iran may continue to abide by the JCPOA if sanctions are evaded or rejected by the Europeans. There would then be no willingness among the signatories to renegotiate and no need to do so. Trump will have done nothing but hasten the world’s transition from US unipolar dominance and humiliate himself.

Or Iran may kick out the inspectors and try to build a bomb, the outcome Trump thought he was preventing. He would then have to decide whether to wage a war that could draw in the world’s major powers and engulf the Middle East.

Trump is overplaying a weak hand. There’s no 4D chess here; he just hasn’t thought this one through. His gesture pleases Israel, Saudi Arabia, and neoconservatives back home, but it will be Trump and the United States, not his “friends,” who will bear the cost of failure.

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Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2, by David Stockman

David Stockman presents the real history of World War I, and how it set the stage for the rest of the 20th Century and the first 18 years of the 21st. From Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com, via antiwar.com:

Read Part 1

The rise of the murderous Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes during the 1930s and the resulting conflagration of World War II is held to be, correctly, the defining event of the 20th century. But that truism only begs the real question.

To wit, were these nightmarish scourges always latent just below the surface of global civilization – waiting to erupt whenever good people and nations fell asleep at the switch, as per the standard critique of the British pacifism and US isolationism that flourished during the late 1930s?

Or were they the equivalent of the 1,000-year flood – a development so unlikely, aberrant and unrepeatable as to merely define a horrid but one-off chapter of history, not the ordinary and probable unfolding of affairs among the nations?

We contend that the answer depends upon whether your start with April 2, 1917, when America discarded its historic republican policy of nonintervention and joined the bloody fray on the old continent’s Western Front, or December 7, 1941, when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor allegedly awoke America from its isolationist slumber and called it to global leadership of the so-called American Century.

Needless to say, the Deep State’s ideology of the Indispensable Nation and its projects of Empire are rooted in the Pearl Harbor narrative. That is, the claim that global affairs go to hell in a hand basket when virtuous nations let down their guard or acquiesce to even modest acts of regional aggression.

The now faded verities of republican nonintervention, by contrast, properly finger Woodrow Wilson’s perfidious declaration of War on Germany as the event that changed the ordinary course of history, and paved the way for the 1,000-year aberration of Hitler and Stalin which ultimately ensued.

Not surprisingly, the official historical narratives of the Empire glorify America’s rising to duty in World War II and after, but merely describe the events of 1917-1919 as some sort of preliminary coming of age.

As a consequence, the rich, history-defining essence of what happened during those eventful years has been lost in the fog of battles, the miserable casualty statistics of war, the tales of prolonged diplomatic wrangling at Versailles and the blame-game for the failed Senate ratification of Wilson’s League of Nations thereafter.

To continue reading: Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2

Is France Really an Ally of the United States? by Guy Millière

France becomes more Islamic by the day. From Guy Millière at gatestoneinstitute.com:

  • No-go zones are growing rapidly in the suburbs of all of France’s main cities. Shanty towns built by illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East have sprung up in parts of Marseilles and Paris in the last few years. Islamization is everywhere. In hundreds of mosques, imams deliver fiery anti-Western speeches. Churches are vandalized. The number of rapes is rapidly increasing. Groups of veiled women roam the streets and insult the “immodest”, unveiled, women.
  • Macron’s most important project since he was elected has been the creation of new Islamic institutions destined to adapt France to Islam — not to adapt Islam to France. Many more mosques will be built, financed with taxpayer money; departments of Islamic culture will open in universities, and imam training centers created.
  • Macron’s main advisor on this subject is Hakim El Karoui, the author of a book (“Islam, a French Religion”) explaining that Islam is now the main religion in the country; that prejudices of non-Muslims are the source of most troubles, and that helping Muslims to have access to more important positions in French society is of the utmost urgency.
  • Sadly, it will also be difficult for President Macron, Prime Minister May and Chancellor Merkel to hide that they are appeasers of Islam and the weak commanders of countries they are allowing to decay.

During his recent State visit in Washington, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of the “long friendship” between France and the United States, and tried to present himself as a reliable ally. His statements, essentially empty words, should be taken with extreme caution.

Today in France, repeated strikes in the public transportation systems degradeeconomic activity and create an atmosphere of permanent unrest. Riots are frequent and every protest now ends with dozens of cars burned and many shops ransacked. Terrorist attacks continue to take place: 250 people killed in the last six years, more than in any other European country. No-go zones are growing rapidly in the suburbs of all main cities. Shanty towns built by illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East have sprung up in parts of Marseilles and Paris in the last few years. Islamization is everywhere. In hundreds of mosques, imams delivery fiery anti-Western speeches. Churches are vandalized. The number of rapes is rapidly increasing. Groups of veiled women roam the streets and insult the “immodest”, unveiled, women. Jews by the thousand hideor flee the country.

To continue reading: Is France Really an Ally of the United States?

Trump: Prisoner of the War Party? by Patrick J. Buchanan

As Obama was held hostage to George W. Bush’s wars, Trump may be held hostage to Bush’s and Obama’s wars. All these wars are the brainchildren of the war party. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay.”

Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday, adding, “We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”

Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian civil war “for the long term”?

If so, who made that fateful decision for this republic?

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Sunday there would be no drawdown of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, until three objectives were reached. We must fully defeat ISIS, ensure chemical weapons would not again be used by Bashar Assad and maintain the ability to watch Iran.

Translation: Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria. We are going deeper in. Trump’s commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is “inoperative.”

The War Party that Trump routed in the primaries is capturing and crafting his foreign policy. Monday’s Wall Street Journal editorial page fairly blossomed with war plans:

“The better U.S. strategy is to … turn Syria into the Ayatollah’s Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran began to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war or even contemplate a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.”

Apparently, we are to bleed Syria, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran until they cannot stand the pain and submit to subdividing Syria the way we want.

But suppose that, as in our Civil War of 1861-1865, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949, Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Shiite militia allies go all out to win and reunite the nation.

Suppose they choose to fight to consolidate the victory they have won after seven years of civil war. Where do we find the troops to take back the territory our rebels lost? Or do we just bomb mercilessly?

To continue reading: Trump: Prisoner of the War Party?

US Builds Coalition for Imminent War With Syria, by Jason Ditz

Those nations that are willing to ignore the complete absence of any evidence that Syria gassed its enemies and are also willing to stifle any kind of impartial investigation are joining the US in a coalition of the insane. From Jason Ditz at theantimedia.org:

President Trump is in the process of building a new coalition of allies to participate in a multi-nation “strike force” attack on the Syrian government. This talk of coalition action reflects the rapid escalation of plans for war with Syria since US officials embraced Saturday’s allegations of a chemical weapons strike.

Officials said as early as Sunday that the claimed Saturday attack would lead to a US military strike, and President Trump indicated this would happen “very soon.” Instead of a one-off strike, as with last April’s tomahawk missile bombardment of Syria, the US seems to be envisioning starting a whole new war over it.

This new US-led war in Syria doubtless suits much of the administration just fine. After all, this time last week US officials were trying to talk President Trump out of ending US military involvement in Syria. Now, they seem to have a pretext for an open-ended conflict.

This does make starting the war something of a scramble, despite officials still presenting themselves as not wholly decided. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been invited to investigate the allegations, and with no concrete evidence the Saturday attack even took place, such a finding by the watchdog could easily derail the war. That, of course, means US officials are going to want to get it started before the OPCW has a chance to do anything.

They won’t have to worry about a direct UN Security Council investigation, however, as the US and their allies rejected a Russian resolution calling for such an inquiry. This was seen as retaliation for Russia rejecting a resolution that would just blame Syria for it without a proper inquiry.

This raises the risk of the US coalition getting into a conflict with Russia. Already, Russia has warned of consequences if the US attacks Syria over the allegation. President Trump has not only indicated Syria will “pay the price,” but that Russia is going to have to pay as well. If that happens, the war quickly expands from regional to global.

To continue reading: US Builds Coalition for Imminent War With Syria

In France, Free-Speech Is On Trial, by Robbie Travers

Great Britain is not the only country in Europe muzzling critics of Islamic immigration and crime. From Robbie Travers at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Is the real, secret, goal of the French state to have no one who disagrees with it speak out?
  • Marine Le Pen did not suggest that all Muslims are terrorists. She did not suggest that anyone should use violence against Muslims. She did not even suggest that French people should take action against Islam.
  • Marine Le Pen should not be prosecuted for alerting the French to the dangers of an organisation that still threatens to invade their capital and murder their children.

“Free speech can’t just apply to those you agree with,” the editor of Spiked Online, Brendan O’Neill, once said. Politically correct speech does not need protecting. The United States’ First Amendment exists precisely to protect the minority from the majority and to protect unpopular opinions from those who would silence them.

On March 2, French prosecutors decided that Marine Le Pen should be prosecuted for drawing attention on Twitter to the atrocities committed by Islamic State. They apparently decided that Le Pen’s message, even if factually correct, should not be heard.

Le Pen’s “crime,” the prosecutors allege, is that in a series of tweets, she posteddisturbing images of victims of Islamic State, thereby exposing the crimes against humanity that group have been committing in the Levant.

Presumably, these were potential dangers about which she thought the public should be aware. They included the beheading of the British journalist, James Foley, who was repeatedly beaten, starved, and waterboarded before his throat was slit.

Other tweets documented a Jordanian fighter pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, in a cage, being burned alive, and a tank crushing a Syrian army soldier. These crimes, however, are those of Islamic State, not Marine Le Pen.

Her most objectionable crime, apparently, was to have distributed a picture of Foley’s decapitated corpse with the tweet, “Daesh is THIS!”

To continue reading: In France, Free-Speech Is On Trial