Tag Archives: Iran

A Vital Primer on the Push for War in Iran, by Conn Hallinan

Books could be written about what Americans don’t know about Iran, and now one has been written. From Conn Hallinan at antiwar.com:

Americans – including those in the White House – know little about Iran and its history with the United States. A new book wants to change that.

Want another thing to keep you up at night?

Consider a conversation between longtime Middle East reporter Reese Erlich and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman, Jr. on the people currently directing the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran.

Commenting on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s defense of the invasion of Iraq, Freeman says “The neoconservative group think their good ideas were poorly implemented in Iraq,” and that the lesson of the 2003 invasion that killed upwards of 500,000 people and destabilized an entire region is, “If at first you don’t succeed, do the same thing again somewhere else.”

That “somewhere else” is Iran, and Bolton is one of the leading voices calling for confronting the Teheran regime and squeezing Iran through draconian sanctions “until the pips squeak.” Since sanctions are unlikely to have much effect – they didn’t work on North Korea, have had little effect on Russia, and failed to produce regime change in Cuba – the next logical step, Erlich suggests, is a military attack on Iran.

Such an attack would be a leap into darkness, since most Americans – and their government in particular – are virtually clueless about the country we seem bound to go to war with.

Throwing a little light on that darkness is a major reason Erlich wrote the book. For over 18 years he has reported on Iran, talking with important government figures and everyday people and writing articles on the country that increasingly looks to be our next little war.

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What Foreign Threats? by Philip Giraldi

A lot of countries would like the US to fight their wars for them. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

The biggest threats to America come from its “friends”

One of the local Washington television stations was doing a typical early morning honoring our soldiers schtick just before Thanksgiving. In it soldiers stationed far from home were treated to videolinks so they could talk to their families and everyone could nod happily and wish themselves a wonderful holiday. Not really listening, I became interested when I half heard that the soldier being interviewed was spending his Thanksgiving in Ukraine.

It occurred to me that the soldier just might have committed a security faux pas by revealing where he was, but I also recalled that there have been joint military maneuvers as well as some kind of training mission going on in the country, teaching the Ukrainian Army how to use the shiny new sophisticated weapons that the United States was providing it with to defend against “Russian aggression.”

Ukraine is only one part of the world where the Trump Administration has expanded the mission of democracy promotion, only in Kiev the reality is more like faux democracy promotion since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is clearly exploiting a situation that he himself provoked. He envisions setting himself up as a victim of Moscow to aid in his attempts to establish his own power through a security relationship with Washington. That in turn will help his bid for reelection in March 2019 elections, in which his poll numbers are currently running embarrassingly low largely due to the widescale corruption in his government. Poroshenko has already done much to silence the press in his county while the developing crisis with Russia has enabled him to declare martial law in the eastern parts of the country where he is most poorly regarded. If it all works out, he hopes to win the election and subsequently, it is widely believed, he will move to expand his own executive authority.

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The Khashoggi Effect: Erdogan Inverts the Paradigm, whilst Gulf & Allies Sink in Quagmire, by Alastair Crooke

Turkish leader Erdogan is capitalizing on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

It seems that the quartet (US, Israel, UAE and MbS himself, naturally), acting in the cause of ‘exonerating MbS’, think they have got their ‘coup’ with Trump’s “maybe he did, but maybe he didn’t”, exculpation. They are probably quite pleased with themselves. MbS may stay for now, and embarrass everyone at the G20, by ostentatiously trying to shake hands with leaders, in front a phalanx of photographers, as leaders try to dodge the tainted hand. But if MbS does weather the crisis, what it shows more than anything else is how well MbS has succeeded in destroying the al-Saud family as a joint leadership ‘enterprise’, and in undercutting Saudi Arabia’s Islamic credentials. President Trump and Jared Kushner – quite oblivious – colluded in this outcome.

And the outcome: Yes, as Pepe Escobar, lately was being told in Istanbul: “The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity [i.e. l’affaire Khashoggi], to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility, while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan [i.e. with a Muslim Brotherhood – style] framework”. This is heady stuff – maybe the Arab world is not so anxious to welcome back, with open arms, either the Ottomans or the Muslim Brotherhood. But nonetheless, with the Gulf so discredited in terms of its legitimacy, Erdogan is probably right to think that he is pushing at an ‘open door’.

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U.S. Foreign Policy Has No Policy, by Philip Giraldi

Other than it wants to dominate the world, the US foreign policy establishment has no consistent policy. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com via lewrockwell.com:

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to “bitch” status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it, are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the “leader of the free world.”

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Washington’s Erroneous Notion That the Persian Gulf Is an American Lake, by David Stockman

The Middle East and the US both would be much better off if the latter had stayed out of the former. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

Read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

The terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington’s own making; and it is being nurtured by endless US meddling in the region’s politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington’s self-created enemies.

At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.

That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 45 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.

Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil. And usually all they could because almost always they desperately needed the revenue.

For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milked every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain before they were finally driven out. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east.

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The Iranian Albatross the US Has Hung Around Its Own Neck, by Alastair Crooke

President Trump has made a huge mistake placing all his chips on Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman in the Middle East. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

“Mr. Trump, nor anyone else in his administration, has announced any conclusions about how Mr. Khashoggi died, or who bears responsibility for ordering the killing”, a Washington Post editorial fulminates. “Instead, they have pretended to be waiting for the results of a Saudi investigation… the obvious problem with that stance is it assumes that Mohammed bin Salman himself is not at the bottom of the Khashoggi plot — though abundant evidence points to the crown prince. In truth, as the administration surely knows, there is no Saudi investigation — only a cover-up operation that has clumsily tried to disguise itself as an inquiry”.

One aspect to this affair is the US domestic issue. The White House is increasingly perceived – as the Washington Post implies – as engaged in a ‘soft’ cover-up of a cover-up. That is to say, the White House is being viewed as so set on keeping MbS in position as lynchpin to Trump’s entire Middle Eastern strategy that the White House and Mr Bolton will try to turn a Nelsonian ‘blind eye’ – or a ‘selective ear’ – to any audio evidence provided by the Turkish government that seems to implicate MbS.

President Trump is keeping his powder dry. He said: “I’ll have a much stronger opinion on that subject over the next week … I’m forming a very strong opinion.” But caution on his part might be wise: leading Turkish daily, Yeni Safak, which is close to the Turkish government, and which has been covering leaked details of the Khashoggi investigation day by day, has reported that Maher Mutrib, the Saudi intelligence official who led the 15-man assassination team in Ankara, spoke to Badr al-Asaker, the head of the Crown Prince’s private office, four times directly after Khashoggi was killed (if it was Mutrib who said “tell your boss” to MbS’ chef de cabinet, then the implication is clear). This has not been officially confirmed, but it is possible (and likely) that Turkish intelligence has yet further details to trickle out, piecemeal, to discredit the Saudi ‘line’ each time the kingdom tries to ‘draw the line’ under the case. Erdogan is determined to get MbS’ scalp, it seems.

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Two Numbers That Explain Why Trump Won’t Sanction Saudi Arabia, by Thomas Knapp

It all boils down to oil, money, and Iran. From Thomas Knapp at antiwar.com:

“[W]e may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” US president Donald Trump told the nation on November 20, but “[t]he United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

Many find the president’s statement curious indeed given the seeming consensus among the Turkish and US intelligence communities that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But two simple numbers clarify just how much importance successive administrations, including Trump’s, have placed on the US-Saudi relationship.

The first number is the number one.

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