Tag Archives: Iran

The Trump Administration’s Human Rights Confidence Game: Targeting Adversaries, Excusing Allies, by Doug Bandow

The Trump administration wields human rights as a cudgel; there’s no genuine concern for anyone’s human rights. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Promoting human rights is a central tenet of US foreign policy. Sometimes. In practice, Washington is most enthusiastic about defending life, liberty, and happiness where America has the least clout. And American policymakers most often remain silent when allied governments, whom the US could most influence, are detaining, torturing, and murdering opponents.

The Trump administration has taken this approach to an extreme, losing all credibility on the issue. For President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo human rights are a weapon to be used against adversaries. When friends are the abusers, the issue is quietly and speedily dismissed, never to be mentioned again.

Last week Pompeo presented the conclusions of his Commission on Unalienable Rights at the United Nations, attempting to shape the definition of human rights. The US was joined by 56 other nations in affirming that “Certain principle are so fundamental as to apply to all human beings, everywhere, at all times.”

It was a grand gesture. However, few robust liberal democracies that respect human rights joined Pompeo. Indeed, 46 of the supporting countries were rated not free or partly free by the group Freedom House: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Gambia, Gabonese Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Niger, North Macedonia, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

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A Peace Deal Like No Other, by Philip Giraldi

President Trump and Mike Pompeo are trying to set up an Israeli/Arab alliance against Iran. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Much ado about nothing, but Act 2 is coming up

It is odd that the White House is gloating over its claimed peace agreement in the Middle East at the same time as one of the signatories is bombing Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. It all suggests that peace in the region will exclude designated enemies and the friends of those enemies, since the ties among the three parties – Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – is transparently in part an offensive alliance directed against Iran and its friends, to include Syria and Lebanon. A significant amount of the horse trading that preceded the gala signing ceremony in the White House involved who would get what advanced American weapons down the road. The UAE wants F-35 fighter bombers while Israel is already asking for $8 billion for more top-level weapons from the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative edge” over its new found friends.

For the more sagacious readers who chose to ignore what took place, a short recap is in order. Last Tuesday President Trump hosted a White House signing ceremony during which Israel established formal ties with the two Arab states. The agreement was dubbed the Abraham Accord because it purports to build on the foundation provided by the fraternity, as one might put it, of the three Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More specifically, it created the mechanism for diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties between Israel and the two Arab countries. It should be observed that both the UAE and Bahrain are close to being client states of the U.S. Bahrain is in fact the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet that operates in the region and it also hosts headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Both countries have long had de facto semi-secret relations with Israel on security issues and Israelis have been able to travel to them as long as they do not do so on an Israeli passport. And they both also know that the road to improving already good relations with Washington passes through Israel.

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When it comes to Iran, how many failures is enough for Pompeo? by Muhammad Sahimi

Mike Pompeo has done nothing but embarrass himself. From Muhammad Sahimi at responsiblestatecraft.org:

For many years Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has worked to bring Iran to heel, if not to destroy the Islamic Republic altogether. He would presumably prefer to accomplish those ends through economic and political warfare, but it is unlikely he would object to military attacks if that is what it takes. As a Congressman from Kansas as early as 2014, he was urging Washington to attack Tehran’s nuclear facilities, noting it would take “under 2,000 sorties,” or bombings, to do the job. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces,” he said.

Pompeo is an ideologue rather than a diplomat. His urge to confront Iran appears to be motivated by his Christian Zionism and support for Israel, as well as, as some believe, his own presidential ambitions. Adding to these factors are no doubt his views about American exceptionalism that require such countries as Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and Iraq to bow to U.S. demands for their own good, all of which creates a mixture dangerous to world peace, and to the Middle East, in particular.

As CIA Director Pompeo released the agency’s documents taken from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, but gave advanced copies to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a well-funded, stridently pro-Israel lobby and think tank that opposed the JCPOA and has long promoted waging economic warfare against Iran. Pompeo had presumably hoped that FDD would uncover evidence linking Iran directly to al-Qaeda — much as the George W. Bush’s administration struggled to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda nearly 20 years ago — so that the 2002 Authorization for use of Military Force in the so-called war on terror could be invoked against Iran. The FDD obliged and published a report. But the evidence for such a link that it adduced from the documents was so weak that it was almost entirely ignored by lawmakers and major media alike.

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Maintaining Pretence Over Reality: ‘Simply Put, the Iranians Outfoxed the U.S. Defence Systems’, by Alastair Crooke

The neocons inside and outside the Trump Administration can talk all they want about waging war against Iran, but supported by the Chinese and Russians, Iran would be a tough, perhaps impossible, nut to crack. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

So it never was then a ‘peace agreement’ between Israel and the UAE. It was ‘normalisation’ for the purposes of mounting a military alliance against Iran. Pompeo suggested so, this weekend. He said that the UAE and Israel have agreed to form a security and military alliance against Iran to ‘protect’ U.S. interests and the Middle East. This agreement and any that might follow means that there will be an Israeli military and security military presence in the Gulf, and a joint Israeli-UAE intelligence base on Socotra Island in the Red Sea basin overlooking the Bab al-Mandab Strait. According to Pompeo, this agreement will transform the conflict in the Middle East from being Arab-Israeli, to Arab-Iranian, and perhaps Arab-Turkish later on.

The language used by Pompeo is significant in another way. Trump is proud of having taken Jerusalem ‘off the table’ (in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians). He says he has taken the Golan and the Jordan valley ‘off the table, too’. Pompeo’s formulation of the conflict transformation he believes he has just engineered says something else too: It is that the Palestinian issue is ‘off the table’ as well. It is now all about Iran (in Trump’s optic). The Palestinians are to stew in their own juices.

Well, Pompeo perhaps was speaking loosely when he designates it now an Arab-Iranian conflict. It is (at least for now), the UAE alone that has put itself on the Front Line. The Qatari-owned Al Quds al-Arabi scathingly noted that “in this alleged alliance against Iran … were the unwanted were to happen, and [a larger] war break out against Iran, the Emirates will be on the receiving end of the blows – and will be the biggest loser.”

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Where Will All These War Games Lead? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Sometimes pretends wars become real ones. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

In northeast Syria last week, a U.S. military vehicle collided with a Russian armored vehicle, injuring four American soldiers.

Both the Americans and Russians blame each other for failing to follow established rules of the road. Had an American been killed, we could have had a crisis on our hands.

Query: With the ISIS caliphate dead and buried, why are 500 U.S. troops still in Syria a year after Donald Trump said we would be pulling them out? What are they doing there to justify risking a clash with Russian troops who are in Syria as the invited allies of the Damascus regime of Bashar Assad, whether we approve of his regime or not?

Nor was this the only U.S.-Russian faceoff last week.

Over the Black Sea, two Russian military jets swept past the nose of an American B-52, one of the bombers on which the airborne leg of our strategic deterrent depends. The Russian Su-27s flew so close to the B-52 that their afterburners shook the eight-engine bomber.

What was a nuclear-capable B-52 doing over the Black Sea, which is to Russia what the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are to us?

That B-52 overflight of the Black Sea was part of an exercise in which six U.S. B-52s overflew all 30 NATO nations in one day — from the U.S. and Canada to Spain and the Balkans and to the eastern Baltic Sea — in a military exercise to test Russian air defenses.

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It’s Time for a Geopolitical Reset, by José Niño

The US government, by trying to stop the evolution of a more multipolar world order, may actually be hastening that evolution. From José Niño at mises.org:

Foreign policy seems to have been placed on the back burner in the Trump era. Domestic issues, generic outrage politics, and the present covid-19 pandemic have sucked the oxygen out of American political discourse.

The fact that the media opts to cover more sensationalist material does not make foreign policy a trivial matter. If anything, the lack of foreign policy coverage reveals the dilapidated state of contemporary political debate. When the Fourth Estate does bother to broach foreign policy it does so for the most hysterical reasons.

The ongoing Russian hysteria is the embodiment of the media’s infantile coverage of foreign policy. Although the Cold War has been over for decades, pundits on both the left and right remain convinced that Russia—a country of nearly 145 million and with an economic output smaller than Canada’s—is hell-bent on reenacting its past Cold War aspirations.

Iran has always been on neoconservatives’ minds as well. Suffering from the trauma of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, neoconservatives and their establishment liberal counterparts have spent decades slapping on sanctions and trying to push for regime change in Iran. Earlier this year, the neoconservative bloodthirst was partially quenched after the US government assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport. In a surprising display of restraint, the Trump administration has not escalated any further in Iran and potentially thrust America into another disastrous intervention. Had Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush been at the helm, God knows where the US would find itself.

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Let’s Talk U.S. Foreign Policy: It Is the Root Cause of Many Evils, by Philip Giraldi

For those who love bipartisanship, US foreign policy has been a bipartisan disaster. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

As the United States sinks deeper into a multi-faceted global crisis that no politician seems able or even willing to address, one hears more and more often demands for radical change in who runs the country and to what end. Of course, Donald J. Trump offered such a dramatic shift in priorities four years ago, but he has been unable to deliver due to his own inability to execute and the ill-conceived machinations of those whom he has chosen as advisers. The Democrats for their part are offering little beyond a repeat of their 2016 pander to grievance groups in an effort to cobble together an unassailable majority based on buying off the party’s various constituencies.

But there is one area where change could come dramatically if either party were actually motivated to do something that would truly benefit the American people, and that is in the area of foreign and national security policy where the president has considerable power to set priorities and redirect both the State and Defense Departments. Unfortunately, foreign and national security policy is almost never discussed during the presidential campaigns and this time would already appear to be no exception. That means that the one thing that is a constant amidst all the smoke and mirrors is the continued bellicosity of both parties on the world stage.

The Republicans are apparently eager to “democratize” Latin America while the Democrats in particular are wedded to the “foreign interference” angle to explain their loss in 2016, with Hillary Clinton predictably advising in her Democratic National Convention speech that the public should “Vote to make sure we — not a foreign adversary — choose our president.” Indeed, the tendency to create and then demonize “foreign conspiracies” is generally supported by the establishment and its parasitical media, since it enables the billionaire oligarchs who really run the country to grow fatter while also avoiding any blame for the declining fortunes of most of the American people.

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To Capture and Subdue: America’s Theft of Syrian Oil Has Very Little To Do With Money, by Steven Chovanec

There have been times in Syria when American government armed and supported  groups have fought each other. One of those groups has been al Qaeda, the same group that supposedly flew planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. To date, Syria has been the US military and intelligence services’ most bizarre engagement. From Steven Chovanec at mintpressnews.com:

Years of US support to Al-Qaeda and ISIS and efforts to effect regime change in the country have culminated in the theft of Syria’s oil, but is that really America’s coup de gras in Syria?

Near the end of July, one of the most important recent developments in U.S. foreign policy was quietly disclosed during a U.S. Senate hearing. Not surprisingly, hardly anybody talked about it and most are still completely unaware that it happened.

Answering questions from Senator Lindsey Graham, Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed that the State Department had awarded an American company, Delta Crescent Energy, with a contract to begin extracting oil in northeast Syria. The area is nominally controlled by the Kurds, yet their military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was formed under U.S. auspices and relies on an American military presence to secure its territory. That military presence will now be charged with protecting an American firm from the government of the country that it is operating within.

Delta Crescent Energy, run by the CEO of a private mercenary firm, has inked a deal with Kurdish rebels to “steal” oil in Syria.

Pompeo confirmed that the plans for implanting the firm into the U.S.-held territory are “now in implementation” and that they could potentially be “very powerful.” This is quite a momentous event given its nature as a blatant example of neocolonial extraction, or, as Stephen Kinzer puts it writing for the Boston Globe, “This is a vivid throwback to earlier imperial eras, when conquerors felt free to loot the resources of any territory they could capture and subdue.”

Indeed, the history of how the U.S. came to be in a position to “capture and subdue” these resources is a sordid, yet informative tale that by itself arguably even rivals other such colonial adventures.

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America’s 30-Year War Against Iraq: Bring the Troops Home, by Doug Bandow

Nobody can satisfactorily explain why the US military is still in Iraq. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Three decades ago Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. It was no contest. Hussein was vastly more ruthless than Kuwait’s emir. Iraq’s military was significantly larger than Kuwait’s armed forces. Hussein declared his conquest to be Iraq’s 19th province.

However, President George H.W. Bush decided that Iraq’s aggression would not stand. The following February the U.S. forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Rather than return home, the Pentagon left bases and troops strewn about the Middle East. Through the Bush and Clinton administrations American forces maintained two no-fly zones in Iraq, launched regular bombing raids to punish Baghdad for failing to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors and committing other alleged offenses, embargoed Iraq’s oil, and funded opposition groups in a push for regime change. At a time of nominal peace the US averaged a bombing raid a week on Iraq.

President George W Bush continued Washington’s unofficial war against Iraq, before deciding to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade the country and oust Hussein. Starting in March 2003, he speedily ousted Hussein. Unfortunately, Bush also triggered a bitter, bloody sectarian war and created al-Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into the Islamic State. Iraqis and Americans are still fighting Islamist extremists, with no end in sight. Only now US forces also are primed to battle Iran, whose influence in Iraq was dramatically multiplied when Washington removed the secular Sunni Saddam Hussein from command of the majority Shia country.

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More Fallout from Iran/China Deal: India Loses Farzad-B, by Tom Luongo

India is caught in the middle between the US and the Eurasian axis of China, Russia, and Iran. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

he carnage for following President Trump’s lead on ending the JCPOA continues for India.

From SputnikNews last week comes this note about the Farzad-B oil and gas field and Iran.

Close on the heels of breaking the Chabahar-Zahedan rail project agreement, Iran appears set to deny India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), exploration and production rights for the key Farzad B gas field.

The granting  of rights to OVL was already delayed with New Delhi moving slowly on the issue, but came to a complete standstill after the 2018 imposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Now that threat looks to be a reality.

Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency quoted India’s External Affairs Ministry (EAM) as saying on Thursday Tehran would develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf region “on its own” and might engage India “appropriately at a later stage”.

Translation: “Stop stalling for Trump’s sake and make good on your promises or the project goes to China.”

Because that’s where this leads in light of the announced mega-deal between Iran and China worth a reported $400 billion.

I wrote last week I thought India has lost its way on the New Silk Road. Losing the contract to build the railway it pushed for to bypass Pakistan and assert independence from China’s OBOR plans should have been a clear enough signal.

But apparently it wasn’t.

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