Tag Archives: Iran

Russia-gate’s Fatally Flawed Logic, by Robert Parry

Having taken away Trump’s negotiating ability with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, Congress has left him only one option: belicosity. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: By pushing the Russia-gate “scandal” and neutering President Trump’s ability to conduct diplomacy, Democrats and Congress have encouraged his war-making side on North Korea, writes Robert Parry.

There was always a logical flaw in pushing Russia-gate as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s defeat – besides the fact that it was based on a dubious “assessment” by a small team of “hand-picked” U.S. intelligence analysts. The flaw was that it poked the thin-skinned Donald Trump over one of his few inclinations toward diplomacy.

President Trump delivers his brief speech to the nation explaining his decision to launch a missile strike against Syria on April 6, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

We’re now seeing the results play out in a very dangerous way in Trump’s bluster about North Korea, which was included in an aggressive economic sanctions bill – along with Russia and Iran – that Congress passed nearly unanimously, without a single Democratic no vote.

Democrats and Official Washington’s dominant neocons celebrated the bill as a vote of no-confidence in Trump’s presidency but it only constrained him in possible peacemaking, not war-making.

The legislation, which Trump signed under protest, escalated tensions with those three countries while limiting Trump’s power over lifting sanctions. After signing the bill into law, Trump denounced the bill as “seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

As his “signing statements” made clear, Trump felt belittled by the congressional action. His response has been to ratchet up bellicose rhetoric about North Korea, bluster appearing to be his natural default position when under pressure.

Remember, in April, as the Russia-gate hysteria mounted, Trump changed the subject, briefly, by rushing to judgment on an alleged chemical-weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, and firing off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military base.

He immediately won acclaim from Official Washington, although Hillary Clinton and other hawks argued that he should have gone further with a much larger U.S. invasion of Syria, i.e., establishing a “no-fly zone” even if that risked nuclear war with Russia.

What Trump learned from that experience is that even when he is going off half-cocked, he is rewarded for taking the military option. (More careful analysis of the Khan Sheikhoun evidence later raised serious doubts that the Syrian military was responsible.)

To continue reading: Russia-gate’s Fatally Flawed Logic

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Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate for More Wars, by Robert Parry

If you’ve been looking for a catalogue of recent neoconservative depredations, here it is. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: The enactment of new sanctions against Russia and Iran – with the support of nearly all Democrats and Republicans in Congress – shows how the warmongering neocons again have come out on top, reports Robert Parry.

A savvy Washington observer once told me that the political reality about the neoconservatives is that they alone couldn’t win you a single precinct in the United States. But both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance.

A scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” in which the bomber pilot (played by actor Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb to its target in the Soviet Union.

Part of the reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media – as op-ed writers and TV commentators – and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not favored.

Since the neocons’ emergence as big-time foreign policy players in the Reagan administration, they also have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, receiving a steady flow of money often through U.S. government-funded grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and through donations from military contractors to hawkish neocon think tanks.

But neocons’ most astonishing success over the past year may have been how they have pulled liberals and even some progressives into the neocon strategies for war and more war, largely by exploiting the Left’s disgust with President Trump.

People who would normally favor international cooperation toward peaceful resolution of conflicts have joined the neocons in ratcheting up global tensions and making progress toward peace far more difficult.

The provocative “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea while tying President Trump’s hands in removing those penalties, passed the Congress without a single Democrat voting no.

The only dissenting votes came from three Republican House members – Justin Amash of Michigan, Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky – and from Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate.

To continue reading: Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate for More Wars

 

Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don, by Fred Reed

This is one of Fred Reed’s best, on the fallibility of war planners and their plans. From Reed at theburningplatform.com:

Why do those inadequate little men in Washington and New York dream of new wars? Because the empire is near a tipping point.

Washington must either either start a war in Korea, or gets faced down by the North, its carriers ignored, its bombers “sending signals” and making “shows of force” without result. For the empire this is a loss of face and credibility, and an example to others that America can be challenged.

Iran has not caved to Washington’s threats and sanctions and clearly isn’t going to. Another strategic loss, a big one, unless–the hawks seem to think–remedied by a war. Iran wants to trade with Europe and Europe likes the idea. Worse, Iran is becoming a vital part of China’s aim to integrate Europe and Asia economically. To the empire this smells of death. The frightened grow desperate.

China shows no signs of backing down in the South China Sea. For Washington, it is either war now, when thinks it might win, or be overshadowed as China grows.

Russia has irrevocably gotten the Crimea, is quietly absorbing part of the Ukraine, and looks as if its side is going to win in Syria. Three humiliating setbacks for the empire. Loss of control of the Mideast would be a strategic disaster for Washington.

Continued control of Europe is absolutely vital. European governments have groveled but now even they grow restless with Washington’s sanction against Russia, and European businessmen want more trade eastward. Growing trade with Asia threatens to loosen Europe’s shackles. Washington cannot allow this.

When you have militarily stupid politicians listening to pathologically confident soldiers, trouble is likely. All of these people might reflect how seldom wars turn out as those starting them expect. Wars are always going to be quick and easy. Generals not infrequently advise against a war but, once it begins, they bark in unison. They seldom know what they are getting into. Note:

The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas. Wrong, by four years and some 650,000 dead.

Germans thought that World War I would be be a quick war of movement, over in a few weeks. Wrong by four years and fantastic slaughter, and was an entirely unexpected trench war of attrition ending in unconditional surrender. Not in the Powerpoint presentation.

To continue reading: Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don

 

Assumption of US Dominance Has ended; Imperial Decline is Looming, by Danielle Ryan

US dominance has had a good run since the end of World War II, but it was a mistake to think it was going to last forever. From Danielle Ryan at geopolitics.co:

For spending too much on the military industrial complex, and in deliberately sowing conflicts worldwide by directly training and funding terrorist groups, in order to sustain the industry that only feeds on wars, the US economy has suffered immensely and has never recovered, since the 1960s.

There’s a limit to just how much pain and suffering the world can take, and at least three countries are offering a challenge to the imperial ambition of the Crown, that has a concordat with the US Corporatocracy, and its war machinery.

Iran, China, and Russia are challenging the US in the seas and skies. It’s a symptom of America’s declining global influence.

In his new book about the decline of US global power, historian Alfred McCoy writes, that faced with a fading superpower, incapable of paying its bills, other powers will begin to “provocatively challenge US dominion” in the seas and skies.

This is happening already with what appears to be increasing regularity, although perhaps “provocative” is not the right adjective to describe it.

The American military has been the chief provocateur in the seas and skies for decades, entering foreign airspace and territorial waters with impunity, expecting no retaliation. Now, powers like China, Iran and Russia are more actively challenging the US’s unchecked behavior.

In January, Iran detained ten American sailors overnight after two US Navy boats entered Iranian territorial waters. American exceptionalists were dismayed at Iran’s apparent show of disregard for US power, many blaming the incident on Obama’s “weakness.”

In May, US officials accused Beijing of an “unsafe intercept” when Chinese planes buzzed an American spy plane flying off the coast of China. Later that month, two US nuke ‘sniffer’ aircraft were intercepted by Chinese planes in the East China Sea. In July, Chinese jets again drove off an American spy plane flying over the Yellow Sea. Just last week, a US ship fired warning shots at an Iranian boat in the Persian Gulf after the craft approached within 150 yards and ignored American warnings to stay away.

To continue reading: Assumption of US Dominance Has ended; Imperial Decline is Looming

The New Russian Sanctions Bill Is Washington’s Monument To Its Criminality, by Paul Craig Roberts

Clearly the greatest threat facing the US, indeed the entire planet, is that relations might improve between the US and Russia. So says the hot air in search of a brain known as the US Congress. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

The Congress of the United States by almost unanimous votes in both House and Senate has made it clear that Congress had rather destroy the President of the United States and to increase the risk of nuclear war than to avoid conflict with Russia by normalizing relations. The vote on the new sanctions makes it pointless for President Trump to veto the bill, because it passed both houses by far more than the two-thirds vote required to over-ride the president’s veto. The only thing Trump can achieve with a veto is to prove the false charge that he is in league with Vladimir Putin

The new sanctions bill forecloses the possibility of reducing the rising tensions between the two major nuclear powers. It also shows that whatever interest Congress has, if any, in reducing the threat of war and in avoiding a break with Europe over the sanctions, Congress has a much greater interest in continuing to collect campaign contributions from the powerful and rich military/security complex and in playing to the growing hatred of Russia that is encouraged by the US media.

This reckless and irresponsible action by the US Congress makes completely clear that Washington has intentionally chosen conflict with Russia as the main element of US foreign policy. Perhaps now the Russian government will abandon its cherished illusion that an accommodition with Washington can be reached. As I have written on many occasions, the only way Russia can achieve accommodation with Washington is to surrender and accept American hegemony. Any further resistance of the Russian government to this obvious fact would indicate dangerous delusion on the part of the Russian leadership.

The fig leaf Congress chose for its violation of diplomatic protocols and international law is the disproven allegation of Russian interference in behalf of Trump in the US presidential election. An organization of former US intelligence officers recently announced that forensic investigation has been made of the alleged Russian computer hacking, and the conclusion is that there was no hack; there was an internal leak, and the leak was copied onto a device and Russian “fingerprints” were added. There is no forensic evidence whatsoever that shows any indication of Russian hacking. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/24/conspiracy-remove-trump-presidency-paul-craig-roberts/

To continue reading: The New Russian Sanctions Bill Is Washington’s Monument To Its Criminality

Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syria War? by Ramzy Baroud

On present course, Israel is not going to get the Syrian regime change for which it’s always hoped. From Ramzy Baroud at antiwar.com:

Israel, which has played a precarious role in the Syrian war since 2011, is furious to learn that the future of the conflict is not to its liking.

The six-year-old Syria war is moving to a new stage, perhaps its final. The Syrian regime is consolidating its control over most of the populated centers, while ISIS is losing ground fast – and everywhere.

Areas evacuated by the rapidly disintegrated militant group are up for grabs. There are many hotly contested regions sought over by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and its allies, on the one hand, and the various anti-Assad opposition groups and their supporters, on the other.

With ISIS largely vanquished in Iraq – at an extremely high death toll of 40,000 people in Mosul alone – warring parties there are moving west. Shia militias, emboldened by the Iraq victory, have been pushing westward as far as the Iraq-Syria border, converging with forces loyal to the Syrian government on the other side.

Concurrently, first steps at a permanent ceasefire are bearing fruit, compared to many failed attempts in the past.

Following a ceasefire agreement between the United States and Russia on July 7 at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, three provinces in southwestern Syria – bordering Jordan and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – are now relatively quiet. The agreement is likely to be extended elsewhere.

The Israeli government has made it clear to the US that it is displeased with the agreement, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been leading strong efforts to undermine the ceasefire.

Netanyahu’s worst fears are, perhaps, actualizing: a solution in Syria that would allow for a permanent Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the country.

In the early phases of the war, such a possibility seemed remote; the constantly changing fortunes in Syria’s brutal combat made the discussion altogether irrelevant.

But things have now changed.

To continue reading: Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syria War?

 

Moscow Warns Of “Painful Response” To US Sanctions; EU Ready To Retaliate In “A Matter Of Days”, by Tyler D

A History of Sanctions Which Have Achieved Their Objectives would be a very thin book. Nevertheless, Congress would like to slap still more sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and make it virtually impossible for Trump to relax or eliminate those sanctions in the interests of promoting better relations with those nations. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Following yesterday’s almost unanimous House vote to pass new sanctions against Russia, on Wednesday Moscow threatened to retaliate, saying that – as expected the action has made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump  administration’s goal of improved relations, and vowed to retaliate to the latest sanctions which Russia views as senseless and destructive according to its deputy foreign minister said.

As described yesterday, the bill passed by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday , boosted sanctions against Russia just 3 weeks after Trump and Putin held their first official meeting. The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, requires Trump to seek congressional approval before easing sanctions imposed under the Obama administration for “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential elections and its support for separatists in Ukraine. So far Trump has not definitively stated if he will support the bill with the White House sending mixed signals whether Trump will sign it.

The bill seeks to impose new economic sanctions against North Korea, Iran, and Russia, and received overwhelming support from US legislators. Moscow is being targeted for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies and which has not been backed by convincing public evidence. Russia’s foreign ministry expects the bill to become law, which would inevitably prompt Moscow to retaliate, Ryabkov warned.

“What is happening defies common sense. The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying any potential for normalizing relations with Russia,” Sergey Ryabkov told the media on Wednesday, referring to an act adopted earlier by the US House of Representatives.

“We told them dozens of times that such actions would not be left without a response. I believe the signal went through even though present-day Washington tends to listen to and hear from no one but itself,” Ryabkov added.

To continue reading: Moscow Warns Of “Painful Response” To US Sanctions; EU Ready To Retaliate In “A Matter Of Days”