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In 2014-2016 Bloomberg (like most other US MSM) consistently use fear mongering about Iran oil that soon will flood the market. And provide only selective quotes from Iran officials and no facts about their industry and fields.

Now they are taking the opposite extreme: that without Iran oil proves might skyrocket.

I do not trust such reporting. Iran probably want and can sell condensate that they already accumulated and were unable to sell. After that we get into pretty much unpredictable situation. They want to get rid of it and there are buyers for it in Japan and elsewhere. With proper discount.

Do they have buyers for their additional oil (if any) at the price they want with no additional discounts (they explicitly stated that there will be no additional discounts). If yes, then how quickly they can rump up the production and their transportation network ? With investments from whom? China? Russia?

If it is so easy to rump up production, why they did not do this in 2010-2013 when prices were much higher and both China and India were buying their oil.

Saudis will not give them their quota in the current circumstances when they already burned so much cash for preserving it and diplomatic relations between countries are broken.

I would love to embrace OFM’s hope that the U.S. will be able to improvise, adapt, and overcome the ever-growing challenges stemming from declining availability of economically extractable resources and the overtaxing of industrial civilization’s by-products’ sinks…but I am afraid that as ‘the economy’ continues to decline due to humanity’s over-extension, increasing numbers of armed demagogues may try to take advantage of the situation.

Steven Mufson noted "Obama’s foreign policy goals get a boost from plunging oil prices" (Washingtonpost, Dec 23, 2015):

Plunging crude oil prices are diverting hundreds of billions of dollars away from the treasure chests of oil-exporting nations, putting some of the United States’ adversaries under greater stress.

After two years of falling prices, the effects have reverberated across the globe, fueling economic discontent in Venezuela, changing Russia’s economic and political calculations, and dampening Iranian leaders’ hopes of a financial windfall when sanctions linked to its nuclear program will be lifted next year.

At a time of tension for U.S. international relations, cheap oil has dovetailed with some of the Obama administration’s foreign policy goals: pressuring Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, undermining the popularity of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and tempering the prospects for Iranian oil revenue. At the same time, it is pouring cash into the hands of consumers, boosting tepid economic recoveries in Europe, Japan and the United States.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/as-crude-oil-prices-plunge-so-do-oil-exporters-revenue-hopes/2015/12/23/ed552372-a900-11e5-8058-480b572b4aae_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_oil-910pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Access to 100 billion previously frozen is nice and will help to upgrade their oil infrastructure "in a long run" as well to by some modern air defense systems. But with that amount of cash in hand why they are so pressed to sell their strategic resource at rock bottom prices? They are better diversified the Saudis and sanctions helped too increase this diversification.

I am wondering why BBC and other MSM are pushing this event so hard in the direction of increasing "oil glut". This this pure colonial greed? During the latest OPEC meeting Iran was one of the countries that was for cutting output, not increasing it.

Iran has already access to growing markets in Asia, especially India and China. As for European market the question that BBC did not eve try to answer is "To whom can they sell their oil without undercutting Saudis?" So why Europe makes any sense at all to them. I would let Saudis to waste their resources as long as then can. Stupidity should be punishable.

Saudis recently even tried to kick out Russia from Polish oil market, by undercutting their price despite the fact that they have a pipeline, so transportation costs are much lower. Their behavior is really strange, as if they to get rid of oil as fast as they can is the primary goal of the new king and his "Margaret Thatcher of Saudi Arabia" neoliberal son, who wants to privatize everything in sight. In was actually the son which got Saudis in Yemen civil war.

I think Iran might be able to sell their condensate to Japan at huge discount, and may be a couple of other Asian countries able to process it, but that's about it.

Before sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2012 (to keep Israel as the top dog in the area) "the top destination for Iran's crude oil exports in the six months between January and June 2011 was China, totaling 22% of Iran's crude oil exports. Japan and India also make up a big proportion, taking 14% and 13% respectively of the total exports of Iran. The European Union imports 18% of Iran's total exports with Italy and Spain taking the largest amounts.

Sri Lanka and Turkey are the most dependent on Iran's crude exports with it accounting for 100% and 51% of total crude imported, respectively. South Africa also takes 25% of its total crude from Iran."

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/feb/06/iran-oil-exports-destination


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Old News ;-)

[Nov 08, 2019] Pompeo attempt in projection

Nov 08, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

james , Nov 8 2019 20:51 utc | 31

who said this today in an official gov't press release?

"Today, Russia – led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden ‒ invades its neighbors and slays political opponents. It suppresses the independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Russian authorities, even as we speak, use police raids and torture against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who are working in opposition to Russian aggression. In Chechnya, anyone considered "undesirable" by the authorities simply disappears.

In China – in China, the Chinese Communist Party is shaping a new vision of authoritarianism, one that the world has not seen for an awfully long time. The Chinese Communist Party uses tactics and methods to suppress its own people that would be horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans. The People's Liberation Army encroaches on the sovereignty of its Chinese neighbors, and the Chinese Communist Party denies travel privileges to critics – even German lawmakers – who condemn its abysmal human rights record. The CCP harasses the families of Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang, who simply sought refuge abroad. We – all of us, everyone in this room – has a duty. We must recognize that free nations are in a competition of values with those unfree nations."

[Sep 18, 2019] Iran is a coherent nation with long history and proved ability to defend itslef even at the cost of enormous sacrifices. One hopes that the Pentagon can understand that any attack on Iran coalition will be met with a coordinated and unreserved response by Iran and all its allies.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Sep 18 2019 2:54 utc | 80

@b - "Iran has thereby plausible deniability when attacks like the recent one on Abquiq happen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means."

I read the Tyler Rogoway WarZone article you linked to, and it was the first time I'd seen the concept that Iran "has built a plausible deniability environment" for itself, but I think Rogoway is missing a serious point. If Iran has such deniability, I don't think this exists by contrivance. I think the truth of the situation has created such plausible deniability, if in fact such a thing even exists, or if such a thing is even desired by Iran or any of its allies.

I would like to offer a more nuanced view of the relationship between Iran and its allies. Specifically regarding your view that Iran's allies are "willing to act on Iran's behalf should the need arise."

I get the impression that it's more a case that all these allies see themselves in the same existential position, and have developed, and are continuing to refine, an "all for one and one for all" approach to the regional security of all the sovereign allies.

Sharmine Narwani explained this very thing in her recent interview with Ross Ashcroft, where she said that if one of the allies is attacked by the US or Israel, all of the allies will join in immediately and without reservation, because for each of them it is the same existential threat:
What's the real plan with Iran?

And the interview you link to by Nader Talebzadeh with IRGC General Amir Ali Hajizadeh concludes with the general's statement that "...in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen; now Muslims are all a coalition standing next to each other".
How likely is the possibility of a military conflict between Iran and the US?

~~

I'm not trying to split hairs here, but it strikes me as important to note that these countries have moved on from being isolated, and are in fact in a coalition, albeit still coalescing. Their militaries have trained together and established joint command centers in recent times.

As the general explained, when the threat of attack by the US seemed imminent - at the time Iran downed the drone - Iran was fully prepared to attack and destroy several US bases. One hopes that the Pentagon can understand that any attack on one of these members of the coalition will be met with a coordinated and unreserved response by all allies.

Given such a geopolitical situation now throughout the region, the concept of Iran's having "plausible deniability" for other countries to act on its behalf seems too narrow a view. And this is why all the fevered discussion about who "owns" the Houthi strike is missing the main strategic point that the whole region "owns" it - and why it is sufficient that the Houthi did in fact act alone, but not alone, because none of these forces is now alone. It is, one gathers, a brotherly coalition that has formed and is becoming yet stronger

So it need not be the case that everything flows from Iran, or revolves around Iran. The whole region is now the steel trap not to step on.

donkeytale , Sep 18 2019 3:16 utc | 81

Grieved @ 80

Excellent point very well stated.

[Sep 18, 2019] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,
re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,
as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel ocupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

Iranophobia goes back to 1979,

Russophobia goes back to at least 1917 if not further, especially in the UK,

Sinophobia for the US reaches back to the mid to late 1800's

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

[Sep 18, 2019] Here is an article that looks at how American voters feel about Donald Trump's approach to Iran

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sally Snyder , Sep 17 2019 19:58 utc | 5

Here is an article that looks at how American voters feel about Donald Trump's approach to Iran:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/07/main-street-america-and-another-war-in.html

Should the warrior who currently inhabits the position of Secretary of State use his influence to persuade Donald Trump to enter what would likely be a very lengthy war of attrition in Iran, it may prove to be a very costly move for the Republican Party in November of 2020 given the level of support for such actions among Main Street Americans.

[Sep 17, 2019] The Costs of Trump's Economic War on Iran Keep Growing by Daniel Larison

Sep 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom Paul Pillar comments on the attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq, and he connects it to the administration's dangerous, failing "maximum pressure" campaign:

Iranian leaders have been explicit in warning that if Iran could not export its oil, then other Persian Gulf producers would not be able to either. Was anyone in the Trump administration listening?

To borrow another formulation from Pompeo's tweet, there is no evidence that in the absence of the administration's economic warfare against Iran, Iran would do anything like attack the Abqaiq facility or have any incentive to conduct such an attack. If Iran did do the attack, then it was a direct and unsurprising result of the administration's policy of unrelenting hostility and of inflicting economic pain with no apparent end.

The Trump administration's economic war on Iran has not achieved anything except to destabilize the region further and impoverish the Iranian people. It is the cause of the current crisis with Iran, and were it not for this economic war we can reasonably assume that there would have been no attacks on tankers, pipelines, and possibly oil facilities in the last few months. As Pillar notes, the administration has shown Iran unrelenting hostility, and they have continued to apply one set of sanctions after another, and then the administration pretends that its own actions have not created the present mess. A smart administration would start lifting sanctions, but then a smart administration would never have imposed them in the first place.

Under no circumstances should the U.S. increase its involvement in Yemen and do more to devastate that country, as this former admiral has suggested that we do in an interview with Foreign Policy . The U.S. should have ended our involvement in the war on Yemen long ago. It is an ongoing disgrace that the administration continues to support and arm the governments that have been destroying and starving Yemen. Our involvement in the war is already unauthorized and illegal, and directly launching attacks alongside the Saudi coalition would make things even worse.

Deescalating tensions with Iran is the only sane way forward, so of course the only thing being seriously considered right now in Washington is a possible attack on Iran. It can't be stressed enough that the U.S. has no justification, legal or otherwise, to launch an attack on Iran. Not only is the U.S. not obliged to come to the defense of Saudi Arabia, but our government is bound by the U.N. Charter that prohibits using force against another state except in self-defense. No one can seriously claim that a U.S. strike on Iran right now would be anything other than an illegal attack in clear violation of international law.

Sid Finster 5 hours ago

The only sane thing MBS can do is to declare defeat and withdraw from Yemen, tout suite .

The problem is that there is no way for him to do so without humiliation. Shame and honor are paramount in Saudi society, and MBS has just gotten a very nasty and very public punch in the nose. Anything less than brutal escalation, and his honor and prestige will be seriously damaged.

The Saudi tyrants are stuck in Yemen so deep, that they have little choice but to keep doubling down.

[Sep 16, 2019] This Wasn't How Trump's War on Iran Was Supposed to Go by David C. Hendrickson

Sep 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The U.S. thought it was cleverly choking the regime, but now it's clear that 'maximum pressure' goes both ways.

• The Saturday attack on Saudi oil facilities, which took 5.7 million barrels of oil per day offline, is the escalation that wasn't supposed to happen. Now that it has happened, we enter perilous new terrain.

America has blamed Iran and hinted at some sort of retaliation . Iran has denied responsibility, while the Houthis gladly take it. There are conflicting reports of where the missiles or drones were launched from, which we will learn more about in the coming days.

In the meantime, Trump is in a tight spot of his own making, with neither escalation nor retrenchment looking to be attractive options.

It is still uncertain when Saudi Aramco can get everything back on line. The attack showed sophistication. Critical nodes were hit. If the facilities are quickly repaired, that lessens the gravity of this event. The Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s showed the resiliency of oil installations, as Iraqi bombers pounded Kharg Island, where Iran exported much of its oil, yet the Iranians managed to keep the exports flowing. This suggests that a war of attrition today would be possible without major disruptions, though the impact of new technologies of attack and resistance makes any guess hazardous.

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If past crises are any indication, a sustained loss of 5.7 million barrels per day, over five percent of world oil consumption, would likely quadruple oil prices. Strategic petroleum reserves can cover this to a certain extent: the U.S. system can pump 4.4 million barrels per day. But it would exhaust its reserves in 150 days at that pace. We do not know whether more strikes will be forthcoming or whether such efforts can be successfully suppressed with airpower or invigorated defenses. All we can say is that the great game has advanced to a new stage.

From the beginning, escalation has seemed the likely consequence of the Trump administration's decision to asphyxiate the Iranian regime by cutting off its ability to export oil. This was a declaration of economic war. That is the polite term, as it is an action every international lawyer on the planet, back in the day when these things mattered, would have called an act of war without any precious qualifiers.

It turns out that there may be some street cred to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's assertion that if Iran isn't allowed to export oil, others will face obstacles too. Tit for tat. Got a quid? Here's a quo. The funny thing is that any significant threat to Saudi capacity creates a pressing need to get Iran's spare capacity onto the world market. As to which side now has more leverage, in a position to squeeze harder, that's a tough question. Putting it nicely, the Iranians can, if their will is stout, impose huge costs on the United States and the world economy. They would only consider that if pressed extremely hard, yet the United States has been pressing them extremely hard for over a year now.

Remember that the purpose of America's economic war on Iran was to force Iran to submit to 12 demands issued by Pharaoh Mike Pompeo in his edict delivered on May 21, 2018. It was really disappointing that Pompeo didn't raise the obvious thirteenth demand and insist that the embargo would not be lifted until an American regent was appointed in Tehran, taking the Islamic Revolution under neoliberal guidance until circumstances changed, after which Iranian democracy would be restored to its former lack of glory. That was implied, to be sure, but we didn't get much straight talk from Mr. Pompeo on that point.

This ultimatum was reminiscent of the demands that the Austro-Hungarians made on the Serbs on a certain date in 1914. Make them as extreme as you can, said the inspired diplomatists looking for war. World reaction was then unfavorable. Winston Churchill, in charge of Britain's navy, called it "the most insolent document of its kind ever devised." The resemblance to Pompeo's ultimatums hardly shows the imminence of a 1914-like crisis today, but there is a certain arrogance to both the U.S. warmongers and Austro-Hungarians. The Austrians got the war they were looking for; the neocons may yet get theirs.

Trump's renunciation of the Iran nuclear deal is mostly about Israel and its perceived security requirements. Not only must Iran not have a single nuclear weapon, it must not have the theoretical capability to produce a weapon, were the Iranians to break from their pledges under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the JCPOA. This imposes a requirement on the Islamic Republic that no other medium-sized power has had to endure. That the Iranians are bearers of an ancient civilization makes the humiliation all the more painful. Those 12 demands were not designed to produce a settlement; they were designed to produce a crisis, as they now have done. Regime change lies back of them -- that or simply the immiseration of another Muslim country.

American policy toward Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has recently been mostly about arms sales. People say all the time that the oil companies are the heavyweights in this drama. In fact, they are secondary. What has driven events in the recent past is the military-industrial complex salivating over the sales of high-priced and high-tech U.S. armaments to sheikdoms with money to burn. The MIC plunderers, like the Hollywood moguls, understand that you simply must have the foreign market to make the big profits. Politicians see such sales as a way of making our own arms purchases remotely affordable and thereby politically palatable. For these reasons, foreign arms sales to reprehensible characters is Washington's go-to move, a win-win for the plutocrats and the praetorians.

The United States acted under no prompting of national interest in so aiding and abetting the Saudi war in Yemen, but its hankering after all those lucrative contracts was just too much temptation. When the flesh is weak, as it seems to be in Washington, burning flesh is not a problem. Trump saw it as a great business deal and had no compunctions about the human fallout in Yemen. The Democrats -- a certain Democrat, especially -- did what was once said of Austrian Queen Maria Theresa after the Partition of Poland in 1772: "She wept, but she took."

The president may have outsmarted himself this time. He got rid of National Security Adviser John Bolton because he didn't like Bolton's across-the-board hawkish recommendations, but he signed on to the very big change in U.S. policy towards Iran that Bolton had recommended. Trump thought he was in control of the escalation. But when you declare your intention to asphyxiate another country, you've committed an act of war. Retaliation from the other side usually follows in some form or fashion. You can then advance to your ruin or retreat in ignominy.

Trump has threatened retaliation, but he surely does not want a big war with Iran. His supporters definitely do not want a war with Iran. Americans in general are opposed to a war with Iran. Mysteriously, however, the U.S. declaration of war on Iran in fact -- though not, of course, in name, heaven forbid -- escaped notice by the commentariat this past year. The swamp's seismograph doesn't record a reading when we violate the rules, but when the other guy does, it's 7.8 on the Richter Scale.

The whole drama, in a nutshell, is just the old-fashioned hubris of the imperial power, issuing its edicts, and genuinely surprised when it encounters resistance, even though such resistance confirms for the wunderkinds their view of the enemy's malevolence.

Is Trump trapped? That is the question of the hour. He faces strong pressure to do something in retaliation, but that something may aggravate the oil shock and imperil his re-election. As he dwells on that possibility, he will probably look for ways to back down. He will try to get out of the trap set by the U.S. economic war on Iran without abandoning the economic war on Iran. But that probably won't work; that was Iran's message over the weekend. Were he to abandon the economic war, however, he would get a ton of flak from both sides of the aisle in Congress. The commentators would scream "appeasement!" In Washington lobby-land, we'd be back to 1938 in a flash.

Does the president have the gumption to resist that tired line? I hope so.

David Hendrickson teaches history at Colorado College and is the author of Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition.

[Sep 16, 2019] The continual plundering and looting of Iranian resources

Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

camfree , 26 minutes ago link

Bibi is desperate for war with Iran to avoid election defeat and prison and Bolton is fired/resigns only to predict "Iranian deception" on the way out the door.

Insurrexion , 33 minutes ago link

Zeroes,

Re: $100/Bl Oil...

Today, Brent climbed as much as 12% towards $70 per barrel and the US crude oil rose 10% to nearly $61. Historically, Brent crude oil reached an all time high of 147.50 in July of 2008. Remember what happened next?

Qui Bono?

Who suffers?

Iraq, Libya, Venezuela and Iran are a mess and cannot produce to make a difference.

This will be the catalyst for the economic downturn.

attah-boy-Luther , 39 minutes ago link

Trumptards locked and loaded....sigh and now this:

https://www.henrymakow.com/2019/09/disgrace-canadas-theft-of-ir.html

So the continual plundering and looting of Iranian resources never ceases to amaze me.

[Sep 10, 2019] With Iran the USA repeating mistakes it made with North Koria

Sep 10, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Sep 9 2019 23:21 utc | 15

G W Bush was responsible for North Korea developing nuclear weapons, the North Koreans did a deal whereby the US would supply several light water reactors and 500,000 tons of oil per year in exchange for NK not pursuing its nuclear program, the US accused the Koreans of cheating [with no proof] and cancelled the agreement, thinking that sanctions and military pressure would force Korea to capitulate. North Korea then decided to go nuclear. That same US mistake is happening again with Iran, US hubris is on full display,but this time Iran has the 'arc of resistance. on its side plus Russia and China. Trump will not go back to the JCPOA it is not in his nature, the only thing we can hope for is a Trump defeat at the next election, and hope an adult wins.

SteveK9 , Sep 9 2019 23:47 utc | 16

Harry Law #15. Harry, have you seen the people running for the Democratic nomination? Hope is not a word I would use. Gabbard at least wants peace, but she will not be allowed to win the nomination (she is too young in any case). And if by some miracle she were to be nominated and win, she would not be allowed to carry out her own goals for peace. She would be defeated or failing that, killed. As would anyone who really went up against the most powerful political party in America, the War Party.

[Sep 09, 2019] Are Iran sanctions effective?

Sep 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

PATRICK COCKBURN: I'm a bit doubtful about it. They have done a certain amount, this offer of a $15 billion credit line, to make up for the loss of Iranian oil revenue It was a French idea originally, but they are asking Iran to step right back into the old nuclear deal, but the Iranians are not likely to do that while they're subject to US sanctions. US sanctions and the sanctioning of European companies or banks that deal with Iran, basically means that Iran is facing an economic siege.

So these are maneuvers. The Iranians want to show they're being kind of moderate. They want to preserve this deal as they do. At the same time, they don't want to look as though they're pushovers, that sanctions are squeezing them to death, and they've got no alternative but to give up. This would be to surrender to what Trump calls the policy of maximum pressure. I think we're a long way from any real agreement on this. It's still escalating. GREG WILPERT: Iran also just recently announced that it is releasing seven of the 23 crew members it is holding of a Swedish-owned, but British-registered tanker that Iran had seized last July. Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized that tanker in retaliation for the British seizing an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar in early July, but the Iranian tanker has now been released. Now, how do you see the situation of these tankers evolving? Could such seizures of oil tankers eventually lead to an escalation and to even war?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Yes, they could. This is sort of a game of chicken. As you said, it started off on the 4th of July when the British rather melodramatically dropped 30 Royal Marine commandos on the deck of this vessel saying, "It was heading for Syria. This had nothing to do with sanctions on Iran, but was a breach of sanctions on Syria imposed by the EU." This never sounded right because it's a peculiar moment for Britain to suddenly put such energy into enforcing EU sanctions, when we all know that Britain is trying to leave the EU at the moment. There's a great political crisis here in Britain about this. This looked as though it was on the initiative of Washington. Then, as was inevitable, the Iranians retaliated against British-flagged vessels in the Gulf. There was an escalation that seems to have died down at the moment.

As I see it, the Iranian policy is to maintain pressure by sort of pinprick attacks. There were some small mines placed on oil tankers of the United Arab Emirates. Then when we had the shooting down of the American drone, a whole series of events to show that they're not frightened, that they can retaliate, but not bring it up to the level of war. That's sort of the way the Iranians often react to this sort of thing, with some covert military measures and to create an atmosphere of crisis, but not bring a war about.

Of course, once you start doing this, it could slip over the edge of the cliff at any moment. The Iranians did a sort of mirror image of the British takeover of their tanker when they took over the British tanker crew, which are just being released, as you mentioned. They dropped 30 commandos on the deck. There was a British Naval vessel not so far away, not far enough to stop this, but let's say that Naval vessel had been closer. Would they have opened fire on a helicopter dropping these 30 Iranian commandos on the boat? That would have brought us – would have been a war, and could have very rapidly escalated. We're always on, as I said, the edge of the cliff in the Gulf with each side sort of daring the other to go further.

PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, it's falling apart by inches, but there's still quite a long way to go on that. I think the one thing that has emerged is that the US, Trump and Iran, don't want war. At one time, the US was calling on – some of its senior officials were calling for a regime change. How far do they really believe this? When Trump decided not to retaliate for the drone being shot down, that shows that he wants to rely on sanctions on this sort of very intense economic siege of Iran, but I don't think the Iranians are going to come running. Once they know there isn't going to be an all-out war, they'll try to sustain these sanctions, and the situation isn't quite as desperate as it looks. Obviously, they're suffering a lot. On the other hand, they're not isolated. China and Russia give them a measure of support.

The EU, rather pathetically, says it's trying to maintain the nuclear deal of 2015, but it's rather underlining the political and military weakness of the EU that they haven't been able to do much about it. Big companies are too frightened of US sanctions against them if they have any relations with Iran. So the Europeans aren't coming well out of it. Obviously, their relations with Trump are pretty frosty. They also probably don't think it's worth a really big crisis between the EU, the European states, and America on this issue, but they are looking pretty feeble at the moment.


Tom Pfotzer , September 8, 2019 at 8:28 am

There's one thing that continues to puzzle me about the sanctions.

My understanding of these sanctions is that they are designed to prevent the Iranians from importing certain goods from Western countries, and prevent export of and payments for Iranian goods to Western countries.

Why are these sanctions effective?

Iran has demonstrated that they can manufacture. They have open trading relations with Russian and China, which gives them access to materials and manufactures they might not be able to source within Iran.

They can trade oil for goods, and that oil can readily be absorbed by China or re-packaged and sold by Russia if it chose to. Both Russia and China are highly motivated to bypass the SWIFT payments system.

Both Russia and China have a roughly analagous situation re: trade with the West, and they have been coping with it for over a decade in the case of Russia, somewhat less for China.

Why isn't Iran re-directing external purchasing toward domestic sources, and using that pressure as a means to build their internal economic capacity?

What am I missing?

ambrit , September 8, 2019 at 10:29 am

My two cents worth.
Alas, this is now a sort of, kind of, globalized economic system. Even prior to the 'Neo-Liberal Dispensation,' the world had international trade in raw materials and some manufactured goods. As a side effect of this, internal national development of all sorts of materials and merchandise languished. Why build an expensive factory or mine to get something when you could buy it cheaper overseas? Where your idea has merit is in 'national security' goods production. The things that make a country 'safe' should be sourced, if at all possible, at home, where supply can be protected and controlled.

The second point I'd like to stress is how that oil is paid for and delivered. If I read aright, most Persian oil is shipped to the end user. Thus, control of the seaways and vessles plying same is crucial. That's why these somewhat symbolic oil tanker 'grabs' are important. This demonstrates to the world at large one's ability to control the trans-shipment of oil, from anywhere, to anywhere. The seizure of the oil transit ships was a message to the entire oil using world: "We can shut down your economy whenever we want." As Lambert sometimes quotes from Frank Herbert: "The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it."

The replacement of the SWIFT system would free the world from American economic thuggery. When oil is finally priced, in significant amounts anyway, in something other than American dollars, then will the world economy begin to regain equitability.

Tom Pfotzer , September 8, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Of course if the option of trade is available, it's in everyone's interest to trade, under the "caparative advantage" principle which underlies the dogma of free trade.

However, there isn't free trade for Iran, China, Russia, N. Korea, etc. So, they have to improvise. Some countries, like China, are re-directing trade inwards. If Google won't license the Android OS to Huawei, for example, Huawei makes their own smart phone OS.

So the question becomes "why hasn't Iran instituted a crash program to build Iran-based companies to enable Iran to substitute Iran-manufactured/sourced products for ones formerly obtained abroad?

Russia and China have both done this very successfully, and there are many economic as well as "security" reasons to do it.

With respect to the "selling oil to end-users .vs. to brokers" the end-user would probably prefer to buy direct from the source, to cut out the middle-man's fee. I don't see how that presents an obstacle to buying Iran's oil.

Lastly, if it's a question of whether or not the oil can be delivered, the rest of the world won't side with the U.S. if we seize cargoes on the high seas. That's what the fiasco with the Grace 1 demonstrated. Furthermore, the sales contract could simply specify that the goods are to be picked up dockside @ Iran, transferring the transport risk to the buyer (e.g. China, for ex). Nobody is going to hijack a Chinese oil freighter.

Please rebut / add your 2c.

Lastly

ambrit , September 8, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Another farthings worth of comment.
For the last point, I see two possibilities. First, the Neocons in Washington may not care what the rest of the world thinks, under the (fallacious) assumption that America IS the world. Second, the 'disruptions' of oil sea transport can be carried out by "arms length" third parties, viz. the recent spate of tanker 'minings' in the Persian Gulf being 'sourced' to dissident elements within the Arab world. So, some "Somali Pirates" would be the obvious choice for 'hijackings' of Chinese flagged tankers, or "Yemeni Pirates," or "Baluch Pirates," etc. etc.
In reference to other points you raise, there is a lag time in the implementation of industrial policy. During WW2, America already had heavy industry available for war production. The lag time was determined by the length of time needed for retooling of those extant factories. When there is no extant heavy industry plant available, the lag time becomes much longer. Having worked in commercial construction during my life, I attest that planning, preparing for, and building industrial capacity, takes years. Iran could well be in the middle of an industrial building phase right now. Add to the usual worries attendant to industrial construction the worry of some outside hostile actor coming over and bombing your shiny new factory back to rubble and you have added a new layer of complexity to the endeavour. Air defense for industrial base has not usually been part of an average country's economic planning regime.
One reason I can think of as to why Russia and China have embarked on an "internalization" program way in advance of, say, Iran's is that the two former State Socialist countries have weathered nearly a centuries worth of hostility, both rhetorical and military, emanating from the West. Their latest 'internalization' programs could be the result of several generations worth of institutional memory residing within the nomenklaturas of the two states.
Iran, on the other hand, has had an up and down relationship with the West.
At one time, a client state of the West, at another, in a fiercely nationalistic confrontation with the West, in both regimes, a trading partner with the West as far as oil goes.
The promise of present day Iran for the world in general is that it is finally trying to forge an independent self-identity. Someone in power in the West must realize that, if Iran slips the leash of the West, then other countries will follow. Nothing less than Western Hegemony is at stake.

drumlin woodchuckles , September 8, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Or if oil is progressively transcended and deleted from more and more of the world's energy portfolio.
That would give those who "don't need oil anymore" some new post-petro freedom of action.

ambrit , September 8, 2019 at 5:57 pm

One area where oil will be needed for the foreseeable future is in the lubrication of moving parts. I have yet to see a true "Buckey Ball" lubricant on the market.

Odysseus , September 8, 2019 at 11:17 pm

+1

jefemt , September 8, 2019 at 9:14 am

Good question. No answers here, but another observation and question:

While I don't endorse it, what about the legitimacy of Nation-states to pursue their best interest, and the implied hubris/ arrogance that counters with actions and policy precluding that autonomy? The Great Game ™?

Cuba blockades. They have done pretty well, despite nearly 70 years of very harsh blockade. Look how much the US has punished the least amongst the Cuban human beings, some for their entire life

Venezuela?

North Korea and Iran aspire to have the ultimate WMD. Why does the US get to have the say? My measuring stick senses that the US hardly holds the moral high ground.

Then, the counter-point that we have never tried in the recent history of man–global cooperation and no more war. The image of our earth floating in space, the big blue marble, akin to a Star Trek enterprise ship, with all of the war-ing beyond-memory enemies all on board. Give every deck and wing some nukes. Avail them with the information on how to conserve and create renewable energy, to grow and put food by, to access clean drinking water, modest but efficient shelter, and access to books, education, and the arts. Awareness of ecology, full life cycle of plants, animals, and man-made products. The experiment that we must ever allow. Sharing.

The whole thing makes my head spin.

synoia , September 8, 2019 at 11:20 am

Iran must import, and to pay fpr imports must export oil.

The US prevents trade by sanctioning any bank who finances trade with Iran in dolllars.

Oregoncharles , September 8, 2019 at 2:13 pm

The big question in my mind is, why does the rest of the world allow that sort of bullying, or more to the point, allow themselves to be vulnerable to it? Somebody's been careless. We now see both Russia and China taking steps to be more autarkic, and even the EU waking up to the danger. It may be they just haven't had time to develop new institutions.

Haydar Khan , September 8, 2019 at 4:26 pm

They are working on it.

https://www.juancole.com/2019/09/defies-investment-troops.html

drumlin woodchuckles , September 8, 2019 at 5:47 pm

The rest-of-the-world could straight-up GIVE Iran the survival-critical things that Iran would otherwise have to import. The rest of the world could do that in return for Iran staying in the agreement till the next American election. This would give everyone time to see if America would elect a pro-deal-ante Democrat to the Presidency.

( This would require the rest of the world to actually be willing to give Iran that kind of c"cold-war-support" aid till the American election. It would also require the IranGov to be willing to stay in the agreement until the American election results shake out. It would need a lot of people to be willing to take a lot of slow long-term chances. Would everyone involved be willing to do that in a harmonized way?)

drumlin woodchuckles , September 8, 2019 at 5:42 pm

The EU LeaderLords have no bravery and no taste for conflict with the TrumpAdmin. Not only will they not lift a fear-quivering finger to save the accords, they will not even buy and donate to Iran the goods and services Iran would need to survive until the next American election.

It is too bad that Rouhani ( and his boss the Supreme Leader Khamenei) cannot have a remote long-distance Vulcan mind-meld with the DemParty nominee-wannabes in this country. Because if they could have such a remote long-distance Vulcan mind-meld, here is what they might well decide. Every DemParty nominee-wannabe would PROMise ( and MEAN IT) to take America right back into the JCPOA if elected, and to rescind every re-sanction that the TrumpAdmin imposed. And Rouhani ( at Supreme Leaders's direction) would agree to keep Iran "in" the JCPOA till the winner of the American Presidential election were announced. Maybe such a remote mind-meld agreement openly and overtly stated might raise the chances of a DemParty victory and lower the chances of an Iran-America war.

[Sep 07, 2019] US Sanctions Are Designed to Kill

Sep 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 05, 2019 at 05:34 PM

http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/us-sanctions-are-designed-to-kill

September 1, 2019

US Sanctions Are Designed to Kill
By Kevin Cashman and Cavan Kharrazian

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently visited the Group of Seven (G7) at the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron, in what was seen as an overture to the Trump administration to negotiate over sanctions that have plagued the Iranian economy. Back in 2018, after months of increasingly hostile rhetoric, the US government withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or "Iran Deal," and imposed a "maximum pressure" campaign that included unilateral, economy-wide sanctions. The Iran Deal was an agreement that provided Iran relief from existing sanctions in exchange for limits on its enrichment of uranium, among other concessions. These sanctions hampered trade between the European Union, whose leaders have sought to salvage the Iran Deal.

When President Trump reimposed sanctions in November 2018, it cut off Iran's oil exports and access to the international financial system. At the time, he announced that Iran could comply with new US demands or face "economic isolation." Additional US sanctions issued since then have specifically targeted a thousand individuals and entities with the goal of reducing Iran's oil revenues to "zero." More recently, Trump said that although "[Iran's] economy is crashing...it's very easy to straighten [it] out or it's very easy for us to make it a lot worse."

And so, according to Trump himself, the United States has the power to solve -- or exacerbate -- Iran's current economic problems. What is left unsaid, including by much of the media, is that sanctions that "crash" the economy are an attack on the country's civilian population and create widespread human misery. Indeed, they appear to be contributing to widespread shortages of medicine and medical equipment, particularly affecting cancer patients. In Venezuela, which is under a similar US sanctions regime, there have been similar effects, with more than 40,000 people estimated to have died from 2017 to 2018 due to the "collective punishment" inflicted on them.

Yet other statements from US administration officials often contend that sanctions have negligible economic or social effects on the general population of Iran. For example, the US State Department's special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, recently denied that US sanctions on Iran affect the availability of medicine and agricultural products. In this argument, Hook divorces the connection between the economic damage caused by sanctions in Iran and the lack of basic necessities like medicine and food, preferring to instead lay blame on the Iranian government, not what the Trump administration calls "targeted" sanctions.

Are the sanctions causing Iran's economic problems, or simply a way to punish individual actors? Answering this question requires an examination of the impact sanctions have on Iran's economy and the mechanisms by which sanctions work -- two important areas of inquiry that seldom receive attention in the US press.

Sanctions are severely impacting Iran's oil production

Looking at Iran's oil sector, which has been directly targeted by the sanctions regime, is a good way to get a sense of how the sanctions have affected the country's economy, which remains dependent on the production and export of oil, according to a number of indicators. For example, around 70 percent of Iran's merchandise exports consists of fuel. Although this dependence on oil production has decreased over the last decade, in large part due to government efforts to diversify the economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in March 2018 (before the announcement of the resumption of US sanctions) that oil revenues accounted for nearly 40 percent of government revenues in fiscal year 2016–17, and projected a similar number for fiscal year 2017–18 (assuming, then, that there would be no new sanctions). Clearly, a large reduction in Iran's oil production would pose significant challenges to its ability to provide services to its people, as well as maintain essential imports including some foreign-produced medicines and other healthcare and life-saving goods.

Unsurprisingly, Iran's oil production moves very much in tandem with the enactment and repeal of broad sanctions over time (see the figure below). US sanctions in 2010 affected investment in Iran's oil infrastructure and prohibited some international transactions. Then, in early 2012, the United States and the European Union banned oil imports from Iran and froze its central bank assets. Shortly thereafter, oil production plummeted and reached its nadir in late 2012. After the Iran Deal was enacted in early 2016 and US and EU sanctions were repealed, Iran's oil production rapidly recovered to 2007 levels. This level of production was maintained until the announcement by the Trump administration in May 2018 that the United States was withdrawing from the Iran Deal. Since May 2018, Iran's oil production has fallen precipitously; it is down by over 40 percent over the last year. Waivers the United States issued to purchasers of Iranian oil have expired over the last few months, eliminating one of the remaining factors that put upward pressure on production.

[Graph]

To get a sense of the size of these impacts, it's useful to compare what they would look like in the US economy. If applied to the United States, they would be comparable to a budget reduction of $521 billion or 16 percent in 2018. However, this would also represent about 85 percent of nonmilitary discretionary spending. While the United States would be able to borrow or create money to fill this deficit, Iran has much less capacity to do either without triggering more economic difficulties.

Broader economic impacts are also visible. The IMF lowered growth projections for Iran due to the "crippling effect of tighter US sanctions" in its July update. Based on this projection, it is estimated that the economy will contract by 9.3 percent in 2019. This is a downward revision from a previous projection in April of a decline of 6.0 percent. (Before the sanctions, the economy was projected to grow by 4.0 percent.) Other indicators also worsened after the reimposition of sanctions: the unemployment rate is estimated to be 25 percent; inflation has risen to 80 percent; and the currency has lost over half its value.

Sanctions are exacerbating social problems

The main mechanism by which oil production has fallen is the same mechanism that prevents Iran from importing food and medicine: Iran cannot find buyers for its oil on the open market, just like it cannot buy food or medicine on the open market. In effect, it is cut off from the US-dominated international financial system.

Uniquely, the United States exerts broad control over international banking transactions. One way is via the SWIFT and CHIPS systems, which handle the vast majority of those transactions. The SWIFT system, which provides a common communication system for banks, is controlled by US banks, which own the majority of the system and have officials on its board. On top of that, despite not being located in the United States, SWIFT makes all of the system's data available to the US government, even if those transactions do not involve the United States. The CHIPS system, which provides communication as well as settlement functions, is governed by US law, has many US banks as owners, and is directly overseen by US authorities. These systems rely on a network of correspondent banks -- which link banks that might not have relationships with one another -- to complete transactions. The apex of the correspondent system is the New York Federal Reserve Bank, under the control of US banking authorities, which also serves as a lender of last resort to other central banks.

A system designed in this way ensures that banks with no relationship with each other still can transact in a common currency (dollars) via a common bank (the New York Fed) in an agreed-upon framework (SWIFT and CHIPS). However, it also means that the United States has disproportionate power over transactions. Formally, the United States government, via the Office of Foreign Assets Control, can prohibit transactions involving Iran to pass through systems and banks in which it has jurisdiction. More informally, the US government can pressure SWIFT, other central banks, correspondent banks, and even specific firms to adopt policies of refusing to do business with Iran. Since these players fear retribution from US authorities (e.g., being sanctioned themselves), they are usually unwilling to take the risk of doing business with Iran unless they have no other business that might involve the United States or financial entities that can be pressured by the United States.

Because the international banking system is designed in this way, US sanctions on the Iranian economy effectively mean that not only can Iran not easily sell oil on the open market, it cannot easily buy food or medicine either, even if the latter are nominally exempt, as Hook says. This is because sanctioned Iranian banks and officials are ultimately involved in these transactions in the same way that they are with oil, often by virtue of the position they hold in the Iranian banking system. It is telling that hours after an October 2018 ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering the United States to "remove any impediments" that affect the importation of medicine, food, and civil aviation products (including impediments to payments and other transfers of funds related to these products), the US withdrew from the treaty that formed the basis of the ruling, instead of complying with it. Unsurprisingly, efforts at importing food and medicine via the technical exemptions that do exist often fail. It appears that the technical exemptions are used more to deflect criticism of sanctions overall than to actually permit the importation of food and medicine.

But on top of these issues, even if food and medicine were, in reality, exempt from the sanctions regime, the "crippling effect" on Iran's economy would impact the Iranians' financial ability to acquire food and medicine anyway. Iran would have fewer resources to devote to domestic food and medicine production, and many fewer resources to import the same products.

Adapting to US sanctions

It is surprisingly difficult to bypass this financial system because it is so entrenched, although it is not impossible. For example, countries might set up a bilateral or multilateral system to carry out transactions in their own currencies and settle accounts in a currency other than the dollar. Iran could negotiate bilateral trades with India: in exchange for oil, Iran would accept rupees, and then use those rupees to purchase Indian products. The downsides are that mechanisms would be needed to support these transactions (i.e., establishing parallel payment and banking functions). In addition, Iran would need to find a use for the rupees it received in exchange for oil, usually by buying Indian goods (this is because it would be difficult to exchange rupees for other currencies on the open market due to the sanctions).

One promising new multilateral mechanism, dubbed INSTEX, would allow trade between EU countries and Iran without relying on direct transfer of funds or the use of the US-dominated financial system. While in its beginning stage it will only deal with humanitarian trade, INSTEX's model could potentially create a new path to buy Iranian oil. It is telling, however, that EU countries set up an entirely different financial mechanism to use for humanitarian trade, rather than risk drawing the ire of the United States by using established channels.

Yet these alternative mechanisms are not immune from US influence either. In recent cases where countries have announced intentions to develop alternative trade arrangements, the United States has applied political pressure to nip them in the bud. This involves overt economic threats as well as rhetoric urging countries like India to refrain from using a "narrow bilateral lens" in economic trade.

In the meantime, Iran is able to sell some oil to countries such as China, Russia, and India; either to pay back debt or because some banks in these countries do not have a significant business that can be impacted by US retaliation. It also has had some success in covertly transferring oil to buyers, but this does not always escape US control. Similarly, Iran is able to maintain imports of some items, like bananas, outside of the established financial system primarily due to the experience and ingenuity of importers, although usually at lower volumes.

It should be clear that the US is uniquely positioned to choke off imports and exports from a targeted country using sanctions, with deep, negative consequences for that country's economy as well as severe constraints on its government's ability to address economic problems.

In Iran's case, US sanctions mean that production of oil -- a vital export -- is in free fall, unemployment is on the rise, and record inflation due to scarce imports has made it harder for everyday Iranians to buy basic goods and access life-saving medicine. Recent reports have detailed harrowing stories of hospitals running out of crucial cancer medicines and patients struggling to afford or even find their prescriptions. As in Venezuela and other targeted countries, US sanctions undoubtedly have a human toll associated with them, which will only grow as time goes on. This human impact is one of the main reasons that experts in international law argue unilateral sanctions are illegal under the United Nations Charter and international human rights law.

While Iran has been exploring alternative ways of exporting and importing goods, it's unclear what more it could do absent relief from sanctions. Even so, US officials will typically place responsibility for the social and economic problems resulting from the sanctions on the Iranian government, as Hook does. But Trump's comments are more revealing. Sanctions only work because they cause suffering in the first place. In effect, the United States is risking -- and sometimes ending -- the lives of thousands of Iranians with the hope that the Iranian government acquiesces to its demands or is replaced by a more compliant government. That the United States could carry out such a strategy in the first place should raise serious questions among concerned US citizens and within the international community, especially among those who respect international law.

[Sep 04, 2019] Israel's Many Wars by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Pat Buchanan continues to be one of the few publicly visible political analysts currently active who dares to tell it like it is when it comes to Israel's power in America. His article last week "Will Israel's War Become America's War" as always gets to the heart of the problem, i.e. that the completely contrived "special relationship" with Israel could easily lead the United States into another totally unnecessary war or even a series of wars in the Middle East.

Pat starts with "President Donald Trump, who canceled a missile strike on Iran after the shoot-down of a U.S. Predator drone to avoid killing Iranians, may not want a war. But the same cannot be said of Bibi Netanyahu." He observes that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing re-election on September 17 th , and though most polls indicate that he will win, the opposition to him is strong based on his personal corruption and his pandering to the country's most extreme right-wing parties. So Bibi is concerned that he might lose and even go to jail and there is nothing like a little war to make a leader look strong and righteous, so he is lashing out at all his neighbors in hopes that one or more of them will be drawn into what would be for Israel, given its massive military superiority, a manageable confrontation.

Buchanan sums up Netanyahu's recent escalation, writing that on "Saturday, Israel launched a night attack on a village south of Damascus to abort what Israel claims was a plot by Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force Sunday, two Israeli drones crashed outside the media offices of Hezbollah in Beirut. Israel then attacked a base camp of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in north Lebanon. Monday, Israel admitted to a strike on Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. And Israel does not deny responsibility for last month's attacks on munitions dumps and bases of pro-Iran militias [also] in Iraq. Israel has also confirmed that, during Syria's civil war, it conducted hundreds of strikes against pro-Iranian militias and ammunition depots to prevent the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon."

So, Israel has staged literally hundreds of attacks against targets in Lebanon, Syria and now Iraq while it is also at the same time shooting scores of unarmed demonstrators inside Gaza every Friday. Netanyahu has also threatened both perennial foe Iran and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. As the Jewish state is not at war with any of those countries it is engaging in war crimes. Both Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force are vowing revenge.

Pat Buchanan goes on to make the case that Netanyahu is willy-nilly pulling the United States into a situation from which there is no exit. Indeed, one might well conclude that the trap has already been sprung as the Trump Administration is reflexively blaming Israel's actions on Iran. The Jewish state's escalation produced a telephone call to Bibi by American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promising that the United States would unconditionally support Israel. Vice President Mike Pence also joined in , boasting of a "great conversation" with Netanyahu and tweeting that "The United State fully supports Israel's right to defend itself from imminent threats. Under President @realDonaldTrump, America will always stand with Israel!"

So, if a war in the Middle East does begin one can count on a number of developments in Washington, all of which favor Netanyahu. As Pompeo and Pence have made clear, the Trump Administration already accepts that whatever Israel does is fully justified and there are even reports that the White House will endorse Israeli annexation of all the illegal settlements on the West Bank at some point either before or immediately after the upcoming Knesset election to help Bibi. And don't look for any dissent from even the most extreme views developing inside the White House or the State Department. The president has completely surrendered to the Israel Lobby while National Security Adviser John Bolton, Pence and Pompeo are all outspoken supporters of war with Iran. And nearly all the important government posts dealing with the Middle East are staffed by Jewish Zionists, to include the president's son-in-law and two Donald Trump lawyers. The most recent addition to that sorry line-up is Peter Berkowitz, who has been appointed head of the Policy Planning Staff at State. Berkowitz studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is co-founder and director of the "Israel Program on Constitutional Government."

And Congress would also be singing the "amen" chorus in support of U.S. intervention to help the country it has ridiculously but nevertheless repeatedly described as America's "best friend and closest ally." The occupied mainstream media would echo that line, as would the millions of Christian Zionists and every one of the more than 600 American Jewish organizations that in one way, shape or form support Israel.

Buchanan warns that the U.S. could find itself in real trouble, particularly given the attacks on Iraq, where Washington still has 5,000 troops, hugely outnumbered by the local pro-Iranian militias. And American aircraft carriers could find themselves vulnerable if they dare to enter the Straits of Hormuz or Persian Gulf, where they would be in range of the Iranian batteries of anti-ship missiles. He concludes that a war for Israel that goes badly could cost Trump the election in 2020, asking " have we ceded to Netanyahu something no nation should ever cede to another, even an ally: the right to take our country into a war of their choosing but not of ours?"

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org .


Bragadocious , says: September 3, 2019 at 1:33 am GMT

The president has completely surrendered to the Israel Lobby while National Security Adviser John Bolton

To be fair, Trump never promised to curb Israeli aggression during his campaign. He promised to back them and that's what he's doing. So this suggestion that "he's letting us all down" is just silly. Now, on other stuff, yeah, you can make a case. And let's be real, if Jeb Bush or Bernie Sanders or Hillary were in office they'd be backing "our ally in the Middle East" too.
Lot , says: September 3, 2019 at 2:00 am GMT
Iran is involved in four different civil wars: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. Yet Jihadi Phil wants to blame Israel for mideast instability!
anon [328] Disclaimer , says: September 3, 2019 at 2:47 am GMT
@Lot Iran was invited by Syrian legit gov. Lebanon was prevented from total rout by Hezbollah from the actions of the evil Zionist .Hezbollah sought and received help to confront evil Zionist. Who ever asked the Jews to show up in ME anywhere in the ME? Who? Yemen is a war that ahs been fought by Houthis . Houthis has been there for centuries They are fighting a war instigated by Israeli vassal Saudi . Iraq has been turned into dust by Jew run USA attack It is slowly coming to life.

Now don't read the script from the middle Start from the beginning . Start from the beginning ad be ready for the end . End will not be written by devious Jewish country .

renfro , says: September 3, 2019 at 3:34 am GMT
Firing Giraldi was the American Conserative's lose.

Consider this article:

Two Cheers for Israel
They're having children and defending their culture without apology. The West could learn a thing or two.

By Scott McConnell
https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/two-cheers-for-israel/

"'But there is an even more important reason to give two cheers for Israel and to think of it, despite its excesses, as exemplary: Israel is nationalist."'

Maybe McConnell is paid to praise Israel or maybe he just your typical simple minded tunnel vision conservative. I gotta say my kind of conservative values, or maybe they should be called traditional values will likely stay the same but what wont stay the same is my voting for any of these conservative stupids.
I'm a registered Independent voter independent because I believed Americans should be independent of 'political parties' and not follow them like sheep, but vote for the closest thing they can get to a candidate of good character, some brains and a sense of fairness for the people. I voted for the actual America first GOP presidents, the elder Bush I and Nixon, otoh I also voted for the Dem America first presidents Kennedy and Carter.

Independent voters like myself make up 37% of registered voters in the US .that makes both the dems and repubs 'minority parties' ..neither of them can win without us.
Independent voters got to be independent because they paid more attention to the big picture and issues in politics overall than the followers of the parties .most of them are more 'traditional', including objecting to US entanglement with foreign nations. .the exact opposite of current GOP conservatism.
So it is absolute nitwittery to try and attract traditional voters by championing Israel as a model for US nationalism. Israel gives nationalism a bad name. It is asking us to step in a pile of steaming cow shit to pattern the US after Israel.

Kirt , says: September 3, 2019 at 4:50 am GMT
A lot of these Israeli provocations are, as noted, Netanyahu electioneering. Hence, they are likely to stop or be diminished (the Gaza border massacres excepted) if Bibi either wins the election and can form a new government or loses and is driven from power with the opposition forming a new government. Worst case scenario is a continuation of the present situation with Bibi unable to form a government and having to fight yet another election. This would result in still further Israeli escalation until finally Iran or Hezbollah retaliates and the US is dragged in. Or he might just formally annex the West Bank and drive out the Palestinians to the applause of Trump and his supporters.

There are other dangers as well, especially the collapse of Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a result of their defeat in Yemen. The US is sending 5,000 troops to SA just in time to defend the House of Saud from a possible overthrow or to fight on behalf of one part of that sociopathic family against another part.

Sean , says: September 3, 2019 at 5:43 am GMT

"President Donald Trump, who canceled a missile strike on Iran after the shoot-down of a U.S. Predator drone to avoid killing Iranians, may not want a war. But the same cannot be said of Bibi Netanyahu." He observes that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing re-election on September 17th, and though most polls indicate that he will win, the opposition to him is strong based on his personal corruption and his pandering to the country's most extreme right-wing parties. So Bibi is concerned that he might lose and even go to jail and there is nothing like a little war to make a leader look strong and righteous, so he is lashing out at all his neighbors in hopes that one or more of them will be drawn into what would be for Israel, given its massive military superiority, a manageable confrontation.

It's a good analysis, but a little different to the subjugation of US interests to Israeli ones that is normally talked about inasmuch Netanyahu personal advantage is the key factor. I don't think many people in Israel would approve of Netanyahu doing something so obvious as getting Israel into an inconclusive war just before an election. Especially as the war is one that might bring the US in but would be unlikely to motive the US to destroy the Iranian regime, wiche had time to make their facilities (nuclear) too duplicated and dispersed for airstrikes to work.

The Palestinians are the ones Israelis are happy to get tough with, even the supposedly leftist Ehud Barak has said the Palestinians of Gaza must be deterred more. Talk of war with Iran is just that, it really is, unless they do something stupid.

For Israel, getting the US to totally crush Iran would be great, but that will require America to be provoked by Iran, which is something they are loath to do. Iran is not going to fight a war they cannot possibly hope to win if they can help it, and they have said there will not be one. I don't think Bolton is any influence on Trump, and Pompeo is a never-Trumper turned Trump boot licker rather that a force in the administration in his own right.

He concludes that a war for Israel that goes badly could cost Trump the election in 2020, asking " have we ceded to Netanyahu something no nation should ever cede to another, even an ally: the right to take our country into a war of their choosing but not of ours?"

Trump never loses sight of his own self interest. A war before the Israeli election is not going to help Trump win reelection, and he did say recently he was open to talks with Iran, which left a distraught Netanyahu unsuccessfully trying to get through to Trump and gave Ehud Barack one of his few opportunities to criticise the utility for Israel of Netanyahu's relationship with Trump.

Sean O'Farrell , says: September 3, 2019 at 6:01 am GMT
@Biff The U.S. military should more aptly be called the Israeli Foreign Legion.

[Sep 02, 2019] CounterPunch

Notable quotes:
"... As for the Israelis, they don't want the man who thinks he might be "King of Israel" talking to the Hitlerite Persians. They suddenly sprayed Iran's local Middle East proxies with drone-fired rockets – in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – just in case the wretched, financially broken and inflation-doomed Iranians were tempted to chat to the crackpot in the White House. But the Israelis wasted their ammunition. Rouhani is not mad. America has to drop its sanctions against Iran if Trump wants to talk, he said. ..."
"... And when Rouhani made it clear that he was not interested in "photo-ops" – an obvious allusion to the pictures of Trump and Little Rocket Man – what did the po-faced Washington Post ..."
"... Indeed, had Ahmadinejad's further political ambitions not been firmly crushed by his country's "supreme leader", Ayatollah Khamenei, we might just have witnessed a meeting between two of the world's leading political nutcases. Ahmadinejad, it may be recalled, was the Iranian who claimed that a holy cloud was suspended over his head for 20 minutes when he addressed the United Nations in New York. Now that is a phenomenon which Trump may also have experienced – although at least he had the good sense not to tell us of it. ..."
"... In the first eight months after Rouhani became president in 2013, the Iranian state hanged at least 537 people. In January of 2014, he had, according to a report in the Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat ..."
"... When the shah of Iran wanted to acquire nuclear technology in 1974, according to documents in the US National Security Archive, he said that Iran had an "inalienable right" to the nuclear cycle and that it would not accept obligations "dictated by the nuclear-have nations". ..."
"... In theory, what Macron is trying to do, if Le Monde ..."
"... But what Macron is really doing – which is what almost every EU leader is doing – is trying to preserve the peace of the Middle East long enough for the Americans to elect a serious, intelligent, boring and moderately honest political leader to replace the mentally unbalanced and very dangerous current holder of the highest office in the US. ..."
"... Robert Fisk writes for the Independent , where this column originally appeared. ..."
Sep 02, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

September 2, 2019 The Crazed, Rogue Leader is in Washington Not Tehran by Robert Fisk

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

History in the Middle East is unkind to us westerners. Just when we thought we were the good guys and the Iranians were the bad guys, here comes the ghostly, hopeless possibility of a Trump-Rouhani summit to remind us that the apparent lunatic is the US president and the rational, sane leader who is supposed to talk to him is the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran . All these shenanigans are fantasy, of course – like the "imminent" war between America and Iran – of which more later.

As for the Israelis, they don't want the man who thinks he might be "King of Israel" talking to the Hitlerite Persians. They suddenly sprayed Iran's local Middle East proxies with drone-fired rockets – in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – just in case the wretched, financially broken and inflation-doomed Iranians were tempted to chat to the crackpot in the White House. But the Israelis wasted their ammunition. Rouhani is not mad. America has to drop its sanctions against Iran if Trump wants to talk, he said.

It still amazes me that we have to take all this stuff at face value. No sooner had Trump waffled on about Rouhani being "the great negotiator" than we saw all the White House correspondents dutifully taking this nonsense down in their notebooks – as if the American president was presidential, as if the old dream-bag was real, as if what he was saying had the slightest bearing on reality.

And when Rouhani made it clear that he was not interested in "photo-ops" – an obvious allusion to the pictures of Trump and Little Rocket Man – what did the po-faced Washington Post tell us in its subsequent report? Why, that Rouhani had "dashed hopes of a potential meeting with his US counterpart". Ye Gods! What "hopes" do they still have in their homegrown crackpot president after these two and a half years of his threats and lies and racism? Have they learned nothing?

It's as if – for the American media – Trump is unhinged in Washington but a Kissinger the moment he lands in Biarritz (or London or Riyadh or Panmunjom or a Scottish golf course, or perhaps, one day, Greenland). And Rouhani – who may be a "great negotiator" but is also a very ruthless man – is therefore supposed to play the role of Iran's previous president, the raving, crazed, Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Indeed, had Ahmadinejad's further political ambitions not been firmly crushed by his country's "supreme leader", Ayatollah Khamenei, we might just have witnessed a meeting between two of the world's leading political nutcases. Ahmadinejad, it may be recalled, was the Iranian who claimed that a holy cloud was suspended over his head for 20 minutes when he addressed the United Nations in New York. Now that is a phenomenon which Trump may also have experienced – although at least he had the good sense not to tell us of it.

Ahmadinejad, you may also remember, was the president whose claim to have won the 2009 presidential elections brought millions of protestors onto the streets of Iranian cities until they were brutalised and imprisoned into submission. His cheeky smile, chipmunk eyes and Spanish armada beard could not persuade Iranians that the "alternative facts" of his presidential victory were real.

Everyone knew that Ahmadinejad would never be given a finger on any nuclear button – many doubted if he knew the difference between nuclear physics and electricity – but he provided at the time a hate figure to rival Gaddafi or any other of the ravers of the Middle East.

But now Trump wears Ahmadinejad's international mantle of insanity and the Iranian presidential seat is today held by a far more pragmatic individual. For let's not be romantic about Hassan Rouhani . Back in 1999, when he was a humble deputy chief of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Rouhani condemned pro-democracy demonstrators as " muhareb " and " mofsad " (corrupt on earth) – opponents of the Islamic Republic, whose punishment would be death.

In the first eight months after Rouhani became president in 2013, the Iranian state hanged at least 537 people. In January of 2014, he had, according to a report in the Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat , visited Ahwaz to deal with "a number of sensitive files" left untouched by Ahmadinejad. These included Hashem Shaabani and Hadi Rashedi – both human rights activists in the minority Arab community in southwest Iran – who had been condemned to death for "waging war on God", "spreading corruption on earth" and "questioning the principle of velayat-e faqih" (guardianship of the jurist).

Shaabani's poetry, in both Persian and Arabic, was famous; he was a founder of an institute which encouraged Arabic literature and culture among Iranians. Rouhani signed off on the executions; Shaabani and Rashedi were hanged in a still-unidentified prison.

But it is Rouhani's negotiating skill which has apparently impressed Trump, who also has little time for minorities. And when you recall that one of Trump's Republican predecessors in the White House, Ronald Reagan, arranged for the Israelis to deliver missiles to Iran in 1985 in return for the release of US hostages in Beirut, you can see why Trump might think it strange that Rouhani would turn down a meeting with him. After all, during the Iran-Contra affair the then Iranian speaker of parliament, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was deeply involved in the enterprise.

But even if Rouhani was fool enough to flirt with Trump's offer – which he was not – his fate would have been similar to the poet Shaabani's if he had dared to talk to the US president without the full restoration of the nuclear treaty.

It doesn't take much spreading of "corruption on earth" in Iran – let alone disavowing the views of the Supreme Leader Khamanei – to catapult a learned cleric into prison. Having learned from his foreign minister in Biarritz what the American deal was supposed to be, Rouhani wisely did not touch it. The US had broken the nuclear treaty and reimposed sanctions – so Trump would have to rejoin the treaty signatories and lift sanctions for any hope of a meeting with the president of the Islamic Republic.

Of course, the Iranians will no more go to war with America than America will go to war with Iran. We all know that – except for those who blast us all with "brink-of-war" scenarios in the Gulf. We've been through Iranian ship-minings in 1987 without declarations of war. Besides, what's so new about an Iran insisting on its "sovereign" right to peaceful nuclear power?

When the shah of Iran wanted to acquire nuclear technology in 1974, according to documents in the US National Security Archive, he said that Iran had an "inalienable right" to the nuclear cycle and that it would not accept obligations "dictated by the nuclear-have nations".

Which is pretty much what Iran did accept in the nuclear agreement which Trump tore up on behalf of the United States. And I still have a clipping from The Times of November 1972, in which my then colleague David Housego was reporting from Tehran that the shah had declared that Iran's defensive frontiers extended beyond the Persian Gulf into the Indian Ocean!

In five years, the shah calculated, his arms build-up would make Iran the largest military power in the Middle East. The shah ruled with torture and executions, was crazed about the dangers of communism, and power-mad to the extent of celebrating his empire's rule in 1971 with what he called "the biggest party on earth" in the ruins of Persepolis. How Trump would love to have been there.

Well, Macron may be able to turn himself into the "Great G7 Intermediary", although all others who have tangled with Iran have been brought low by the experience. Think poor old Jimmy Carter, destroyed by the hostage-takers at the US embassy in Tehran. Think Reagan, almost brought low by Irangate. Think Colonel Oliver North. Or envoy Robert McFarlane. Or Terry Waite. Or Barack Obama, for that matter, his Iranian policy torn up by Trump.

In theory, what Macron is trying to do, if Le Monde has got it right, is persuade Trump to allow Iran's principal petroleum importers to continue buying oil from the Islamic Republic. This includes Turkey, China, Japan, India and South Korea. In return, Iran would itself return to the original nuclear agreement. That's the message Macron sent back to Tehran with Iran's foreign minister, who airbussed into Biarritz for his briefest of meetings with the French president.

But what Macron is really doing – which is what almost every EU leader is doing – is trying to preserve the peace of the Middle East long enough for the Americans to elect a serious, intelligent, boring and moderately honest political leader to replace the mentally unbalanced and very dangerous current holder of the highest office in the US.

Well, good luck to the Americans. For at present, they are confronting not the lunatic rogue state which Messers Bolton and Pompeo have nightmared up for Trump, but a nation governed by bravely defiant, ruthless, and – yes – devious men. For Iranians understand America far better than Americans will ever understand Iran.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent , where this column originally appeared.

[Aug 28, 2019] Iranian foreign minister tells Euronews about his discussion with Macron

Aug 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

FSD , Aug 26 2019 19:14 utc | 128

Will Trump's intimations about meeting with Rouhani win the footrace? His competitor? Israel's determination to get the Mideast theater of WW3 started in earnest. Racking up two declarations of war in as many days (Lebanon and Iraq) ain't too shabby a head-start. The game is to deprive Trump of the initiative. The Israelis are smelling capitulation and a fresh outbreak of post-JCPOA yakking. The time is now. Trump had better get with the program. He still has a chance to look like Presidential Instigator. Failing that, he'll just have to be dragged in unceremoniously and then scramble post facto to look like Instigator. It's a PR dilemma. His military's already there, poised for action. This may be the first war to launch right over the head -and better judgement- of JCS Head Dunsford himself. False flag momentum is a funny thing. The time couldn't be riper for war to get a jump on cooler heads.

After all, War has its own thoughts on the matter and will only let human beings dither for so long before taking the helm and asserting its own predilections:

"Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came." --Lincoln Second Inagural


karlof1 , Aug 26 2019 20:36 utc | 133

Magnier on Nuttyahoo's escalating provocations encapsulates the most recent series of events, although he doesn't attempt to link the actions to the upcoming elections. Hezbollah threatened direct retaliation against Occupied Palestine; Iraq chose to blame the Outlaw US Empire; Syria remained silent; the G-7 said nothing. The recent proposal by Iran to refurbish one pipeline and build another to Syria's coastline would certainly become a Zionist target. So, for the project to have the proper security, Occupied Palestine needs to be liberated. Nasrallah isn't known as a bluffer, while Nuttyahoo's prone to be too aggressive. Do the Zionists see the current situation as possibly the final time they have some sort of an advantage as Magnier seems to imply and attack since they know the Outlaw US Empire won't?
Sasha , Aug 26 2019 22:05 utc | 141
Iranian foreign minister tells Euronews about his discussion with Macron.

Sets the record straight...

Vasco da Gama , Aug 26 2019 23:02 utc | 143
@141

Iran for Multilateralism and Rule of Law, trusting themselves to abide by JCPOA, even if, as defined as failing, an invitation to Europeans to decide not be tempted by the US to remove themselves from their only future, and an appeal to the US to honour the responsibility of their veto sit on the UNSC where the lengthiest document was signed.

...

Good link Sasha.

[Aug 22, 2019] Chaotic Unpredictable Iran Vows Oil Routes Won't Be Safe If It Can't Export

Aug 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The White House policy of taking Iranian oil exports to "zero" still has a long way to go, thanks in no small part to China , and also despite Pompeo touting this week that US sanctions have removed nearly 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from global markets.

US frustration was evident upon the release of the Adrian Darya 1, with Gibraltar resisting Washington pressures to hand over the Iranian vessel, given as its en route to Greece, American officials are now warning that they will sanction anyone who touches the tanker .

Seizing on Washington's frustration as part of its own "counter-pressure" campaign of recent weeks, Iran has again stated if it can't export its own oil, it will make waterways unsafe and "unpredictable" for anyone else to to so .

[Aug 18, 2019] US Bullies Its Way Into Dispute, Moves to Seize Iranian Tanker by Barbara Boland

Notable quotes:
"... "Designed to provoke Tehran: Just as #Iran-UK-#Gibraltar were set to have #Grace1 tanker released today, #Trump admin moves in to spoil the effort. Will become another source of tension in Europe-US relations over Iran policy," Ellie Geranmayeh, Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted . ..."
"... As TAC previously reported , the legal rationale for detaining the Iranian vessel and its crew is questionable, because Iran is not a member of the European Union and thus can not violate EU sanctions. ..."
"... "The UK had no legal right to enforce those sanctions," writes Gareth Porter, and the seizure "was a blatant violation of the clearly defined global rules that govern the passage of merchant ships through international straits." ..."
Aug 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

British Gibraltar ordered the ship's release to ease tensions. Washington wasn't having any of it.

A ship approaches supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019. – Iran demanded on July 5, 2019 that Britain immediately release an oil tanker it has detained in Gibraltar, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States. Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite eleventh hour efforts on the part of the U.S. to detain the Grace 1 Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy in July, the vessel was released Thursday. Gibraltar's Chief Minister said he had accepted a pledge from Iran that if the tanker was released, it would not be taken to Syria.

The Grace 1 was seized last month by the British Royal Navy for alleged European Union sanctions violations. The British claimed that Iran was using the tanker to ship oil to Syria.

Before the last minute U.S. legal action, authorities in Gibraltar had announced they would release the Grace 1 and drop legal actions against the ship's captain and crew in order to ease tensions.

The U.S. application was scheduled to be heard later on Thursday by the Gibraltar Supreme Court. The U.S. Department of Justice sought to extend the detention of the oil tanker, but the Gibraltar Supreme Court later dropped the detention order, essentially moving evaluation of the U.S. request to another government agency for consideration, according to CBS. In the mean time, the tanker is free to leave.

The U.S. filing seems to confirm reports that the U.S. urged the British detention of the Iranian ship in July.

" Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism -- including depriving cancer patients of medicine -- the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas," tweeted Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. "This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin's contempt for the law."

After the British decision to detain the Grace 1 in July, Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions with Tehran have escalated since the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and resumed economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Without citing specific evidence, the U.S. has blamed Iran for recent attacks on other oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

"Designed to provoke Tehran: Just as #Iran-UK-#Gibraltar were set to have #Grace1 tanker released today, #Trump admin moves in to spoil the effort. Will become another source of tension in Europe-US relations over Iran policy," Ellie Geranmayeh, Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted .

As TAC previously reported , the legal rationale for detaining the Iranian vessel and its crew is questionable, because Iran is not a member of the European Union and thus can not violate EU sanctions.

"The UK had no legal right to enforce those sanctions," writes Gareth Porter, and the seizure "was a blatant violation of the clearly defined global rules that govern the passage of merchant ships through international straits."

It is unclear whether UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will support Washington's maximum pressure campaign against Iran. But the American decision to pursue its case in Gibraltar's courts may indicate that Britain is unwilling to further escalate tensions with the Islamic Republic.

Barbara Boland is 's foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

[Aug 18, 2019] The Destruction Is the Point [ of Trump policy toward Iran] by Daniel Larison

How current prices correlate with Pompeo statement that "We have taken over 95 percent of the crude oil that was being shipped by Iran all around the world, and we have taken it off the market." ? Something really strange is happening here.
Notable quotes:
"... Given these statements, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Pompeo is not being entirely honest when he claims the maximum pressure campaign is succeeding. Rather than leveling with the American people and making an argument about why the administration is persisting with the policy in spite of the lack of progress, he has chosen to deceive the public in order to defend a dangerous policy. ..."
"... Pompeo has made a habit of deceiving the public as Secretary of State on a range of issues from Yemen to North Korea, but for the most part he has been allowed to get away with that. ..."
"... When Pompeo has been asked for proof that the sanctions are "working," he cannot point to any positive change in the Iranian government's behavior, and instead he boasts about the harm that has been done to Iran's economy and its people: ..."
"... We have taken over 95 percent of the crude oil that was being shipped by Iran all around the world, and we have taken it off the market. ..."
"... Pompeo is deception, lies, absolute dishonesty. But of course that is the mark of the trump regime in general terms. ..."
Aug 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Nicholas Miller has delivered a devastating response to Pompeo's pitiful propaganda op-ed from earlier this month:

Given these statements, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Pompeo is not being entirely honest when he claims the maximum pressure campaign is succeeding. Rather than leveling with the American people and making an argument about why the administration is persisting with the policy in spite of the lack of progress, he has chosen to deceive the public in order to defend a dangerous policy.

Pompeo has made a habit of deceiving the public as Secretary of State on a range of issues from Yemen to North Korea, but for the most part he has been allowed to get away with that. He probably thinks that there is no price to be paid for constantly lying and misrepresenting things to the public and Congress, and so he keeps doing it.

The more important reason why Pompeo keeps deceiving the public is that he is also eager to please the president, and so he has to keep claiming success for failing policies because reports of success are what the president wants to hear. When Pompeo's ridiculous op-ed came out last week, one of the common questions that many people asked was, "Who is the audience for this?" The point these people were making was that the "argument" in the op-ed was so facile and nonsensical that it can't possibly have been intended to persuade anyone, so the purpose of it had to be to placate Trump and reassure him that the policy "works."

Miller does an outstanding job picking apart Pompeo's various claims and using Pompeo's previous contradictory claims against him, and he shows that the Secretary's defense of "maximum pressure" is a joke to any minimally informed person. But as far as Pompeo is concerned, all that matters is that Trump sticks with the policy. When Pompeo has been asked for proof that the sanctions are "working," he cannot point to any positive change in the Iranian government's behavior, and instead he boasts about the harm that has been done to Iran's economy and its people:

I remember, David – I'm sure no one in this room, but many here in Washington said that American sanctions alone won't work. Well, they've worked. We have taken over 95 percent of the crude oil that was being shipped by Iran all around the world, and we have taken it off the market.

Miller addressed Pompeo's use of economic damage as proof of the policy's success this way:

Using economic damage to gauge the success of sanctions is like using body counts to measure success in counter-insurgency -- it's an indicator that your policy is having an effect, but does not necessarily imply you're any closer to achieving strategic objectives.

For a hard-liner like Pompeo, continuing with a destructive and bankrupt policy is a matter of ideology and an expression of hostility towards the targeted country. It doesn't matter to hard-liners if the policy actually achieves anything as long as it does damage, and so they take pride in the damage that they cause without any concern for the consequences for the U.S. and Iran. Rational critics of this policy rightfully object that this is just aimless destruction, but the destruction is the point of the policy.


Sid Finster 3 days ago

The current administration, like its predecessors, is not merely incompetent, it is actively malicious.
Zsuzsi Kruska Sid Finster 3 days ago
It only appears incompetent until you discover who benefits, and it isn't the majority of Americans. Who has benefited so far? The Plutocrats, oligarchs, Israel, Saudi, MIC, Big Oil, Big Rx, immigration related services. This is just a partial list, but guess who it doesn't include?
maninthewilderness Sid Finster 3 days ago
Perhaps it's a precondition for being the administration.
Littleredtop 3 days ago
Any nation that allows "freedom of speech" has made the assumption that either everyone is honest or everyone is smart enough to know bull sh !t when they hear it.
Taras77 3 days ago
Pompeo is deception, lies, absolute dishonesty. But of course that is the mark of the trump regime in general terms.

[Aug 07, 2019] Why Should Iran Be Cherished and Defended by Andre Vltchek

It's mostly about the control of Mid East oil and Israel status in the region ...
And despite all those positive things mentioned bellow Iran is still a theocratic state. It is definitely not Saudi Arabia but still..
Notable quotes:
"... Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the "Very high human development", defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand. ..."
"... Trump is President of the US. He is responsible for the actions of the US in foreign affairs. Trump is a willing sycophant of the Deep State. ..."
"... Yet another article, pointing out that there is no reason for the US to attack Iran. Yes, there is. Iran is an enemy of Israel (although with the US behind them, there isn’t much they can actually do), and Israel wants Iran destroyed. The influence of Israel in American politics is enormous. THAT is the reason. Please stop the head-scratching over why oh why the US would want to destroy Israel. Everyone knows why. ..."
"... Iran’s real “crime” is twofold: 1) It sells oil in denomiations other than the US dollar; and 2) If allowed its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it would be producing vast amounts of low cost molybdenum and/or technetium which are used in medical testing, which would cut into the lucrative US market. ..."
"... There is some truth to claims about Iran’s belligerence…the Russians aren’t thrilled about everything they’re doing in Syria, which includes Shia colonizing in regions they’ve seized, which is a sign of attempting to entrench their agenda in that suffering country…and hence the continuing Israeli attacks, which nobody appreciates… ..."
"... In Iran, sources confirm that “…Russia offered to sell one million barrels daily for Iran, and to replace the European financial system with another if needed. ..."
"... There is also the issue of the illegality of Trump tearing up the deal…which was adopted [unanimously] by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231… ..."
"... The US signed that resolution…and let us remember that UNSC resolutions are INTERNATIONAL LAW…they are LEGALLY BINDING on all UN member states… ..."
"... So the US is breaking international law…the sanctions are illegal also, since only the UNSC had the legal authority to impose sanctions… ..."
"... The US’ disregard for the supreme international legal order…along with Israel similarly flouting UNSC resolutions for 50 years to pull out of the occupied territories…is simply unacceptable… ..."
Aug 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only 'crime' is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don't want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were of course never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as "socialism with Iranian characteristics". Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the "Very high human development", defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi'a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: "What is the reason for this terrible scenario?"

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran -- it all goes one step further. It's a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

[First published by NEO -- New Eastern Outlook]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are ...


Jonny C , says: July 28, 2019 at 6:16 pm GMT

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal.

Certainly war with Iran is not because Trump wants to humiliate Obama. There is very serious pressure on Trump to go to war with Iran, and that pressure comes from sources including Sheldon Adelson, Netanyahu, John Bolton, and elements within the military industrial complex and oil industries both of which would be able to capitalize on such a misadventure. It is very possibly Trump’s misgivings about a war with Iran (in spite of the idiotic rhetoric) that is keeping the US from attacking Iran.

While I agree with your sentiment in this article, it is unfortunate to make over-simplifications that cheerlead a false narrative that one person is to blame for a complex problem that spans party lines and presidencies. It was much to Obama’s credit to enter into the agreement with Iran, and the opposition to doing so obviously runs much deeper than Trump’s desire to make Obama look bad.

Thomm , says: July 28, 2019 at 7:01 pm GMT
One thing that everyone on UR agrees on is that there is absolutely no benefit for America to attack Iran.

Iran is the most overrated threat ever. The MI-complex has spent 40 years pushing a narrative so that they can profit from a large war.

Jonny C , says: July 28, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
@Andre Vltchek Yes, you can’t say everything in every piece that you write, and for expediency there is simplification. You can get away with it by saying “among other things, Trump’s desire to humiliate Obama may lead us into a devastating war.” But the way you wrote it certainly insinuates that it is in fact Trump and his personal psychopathy driving the country towards war. In that, I think you are mistaken. The jury is not out on this one yet, and Trump’s resistance to war with Iran is a thread of hope keeping it from happening. I am not trying to split hairs. It is important because there is a tendency to focus on the face in the white house and not on the forces that are behind the mischief. It also probably gets more likes among a broader audience who want to blame Trump or Obama when they are more like two leaves being blown by a strong wind than the leader of the free world or any other nonsensical title given to the president. Take it for a slight literary critique and not for any disagreement with the overall sentiment or quality of the article.
anonymous [251] • Disclaimer , says: July 28, 2019 at 10:51 pm GMT
@Birchleg

It was at that point I knew this wasn’t an intellectually honest essay. You don’t even need to go back six months to see what a peaceful little lamb Iran is, as it attacked merchant ships in the Straight of Hormuz. Perhaps your intended audience is ignorant to facts, but Iran is, by no means, a country of innocent intent.

What would USA do if Iranian or any other non-friendly nation surrounded USA, including sending heavily armed ships into its harbors?

This Could Be Part Of The Reason Iran Is So Darn Defensive
Robert Johnson Jan. 3, 2012, 9:38 AM
Facebook Icon The letter F.
https://www.businessinsider.com/iran-surrounded-by-us-military-bases-2011-12

This map from Democratic Underground puts a star on every U.S. military base in the region, and aside from the Caspian area to the North, American forces pretty much have Tehran surrounded (via Informed Comment).

[Non-violent resistance is not necessarily futile, but a feint]: We cannot delude ourselves.
People ask, What about nonviolent, peaceful forms of resistance? And you know, the answer is, There is no such thing as nonviolence.
Nonviolence is a form of disruption and only works if you are facing those who are constrained in their use of violence, or works best if you can use your enemy’s violence against them.

Take for example, Dr. Martin Luther King . . . [he learned from Gandhi and others that] nonviolence is a mechanism of goading your opponent into being violent.
Once they become violent, you can call on your friends to be even more violent against them. And he knew he could goad the sheriff into behaving violently and stupidly, and then the FBI would descend on them.
You know, we always want to delude ourselves that war is not the answer. It would be good if that were true, but unfortunately it is very often the key answer, the only answer. https://www.c-span.org/video/?323264-1/the-worth-war&start=599

USA is being deliberately provocative, goading Iran to throw the first punch, whereupon USA will “descend on them.”

It’s not the first time USA & its allies have used the tactic.

The Alarmist , says: July 29, 2019 at 9:11 am GMT
I dunno … If the West was going to attack, it should have happened several weeks ago, if not earlier. Do you think Trump’s stand-down of an attack allegedly in progress was to save a couple hundred Iranian lives, or might it make more sense that it became clear a couple hundreds or thousands of coalition lives were at serious risk? The leadership knows this will be far messier than Iraq if it goes kinetic, and they would prefer to continue to starve Iran into submission while making a lot of noise about the ‘evil and suicidal death-cult’ regime in Tehran.
peter mcloughlin , says: July 29, 2019 at 9:34 am GMT
Andre Vltchek gives a passionate defence of Iran, and the reasons for not attacking it. I agree there are ‘doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.’ If the US, and its allies, were to destabilize Iran to such an extent as to threaten regime change China and Russia would have to intervene. The world should avoid war on Iran, even if it is for selfish reasons. All the indications point to world war.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
Anon [363] • Disclaimer , says: July 29, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
@anonymous Because the JIDF/Zionist has the modus operandi of falsifying consensus. Large numbers of seemingly reasonable people all pushing the same view point has the unconscious effect of making an unwary reader adopt that same viewpoint. Of course, they’re hoping you dont go trawling through their comment history or else the whole thing blows up.
Realist , says: July 29, 2019 at 10:32 am GMT
@Jonny C

While I agree with your sentiment in this article, it is unfortunate to make over-simplifications that cheerlead a false narrative that one person is to blame for a complex problem that spans party lines and presidencies.

Trump is President of the US. He is responsible for the actions of the US in foreign affairs. Trump is a willing sycophant of the Deep State.

Realist , says: July 29, 2019 at 10:36 am GMT
@anonymous

People need to realize that it’s been a RedBlue puppet show of the same empire since – for purposes of Iran – 1953. Blaming one politician as opposed to the other plays right into the hands of those who want to run the world from Washington.

The past can not be changed. Trump is responsible for the here and now.

SteveK9 , says: July 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm GMT
Yet another article, pointing out that there is no reason for the US to attack Iran. Yes, there is. Iran is an enemy of Israel (although with the US behind them, there isn’t much they can actually do), and Israel wants Iran destroyed. The influence of Israel in American politics is enormous. THAT is the reason. Please stop the head-scratching over why oh why the US would want to destroy Israel. Everyone knows why.
Curmudgeon , says: July 29, 2019 at 6:24 pm GMT
The Iran never attacked anyone narrative has long been a favourite. What is buried somewhere in cyberspace, is an article written over 20 years ago about the causes of the Iraq – Iran war. The article laid out several instances of Iranian revolutionaries attacking several Iraqi border towns. It also pointed out that Iraq’s original invasion into Iran stopped about 8 miles into Iran, apparently understanding that it was never going to defeat Iran territorially. The article also stated that Iraq was egged on by the US to attack, in hopes to dislodge the new regime. However, it was the Shah who attacked Iraq in the 70s over the Shat al Arab waterway. The subsequent peace agreement settled the issue. https://www.nytimes.com/1975/03/07/archives/iraq-and-iran-sign-accord-to-settle-border-conflicts-iraq-and-iran.html

One reason given by Iraq for its invasion of Iran, post revolution, was that it viewed the border attacks by Iranian revolutionaries, as a refutation of the treaty.

Iran’s real “crime” is twofold:
1) It sells oil in denomiations other than the US dollar; and
2) If allowed its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it would be producing vast amounts of low cost molybdenum and/or technetium which are used in medical testing, which would cut into the lucrative US market.

Brabantian , says: July 29, 2019 at 7:39 pm GMT
The USA-Israel-Nato menaces to Iran are criminal horseshite BUT –

Iran is horrifyingly brutal toward its own citizens, one of the most savage of all countries in per capita executions of its own people, sometimes hanging 100 people or so in a month, typically done by slow-torture hanging, often in groups of 6 or 8 people in public squares.

It seems that usually, Iran does not even try to break the neck of its hanging victims with a long drop, which can induce a merciful coma before the victim dies, typically some 15 minutes to an hour later. As is often observed in Iran, smaller people such as women typically die more slowly, their lighter weight leading to a longer period of torturous choking.

And Iran has a bunch of other Islamic barbarisms … Iran burying women alive up to their necks, only their veiled heads above the ground, and stoning them to death; the floggings and amputations, sometimes the victim marked for death is flogged bloody before being hanged from a crane etc

But André Vltchek thinks Iran is a great place …

Iran is also a bizarre social experiment in extreme social dysfunctionality, with the ‘temporary marriage’ provision in Shia religious practice that is essentially legalised prostitution. Not only can Iranians have 4 wives as the Sunnis do, one of those can be a ‘wife for the weekend’, legally, provided you go to the imam to be officially ‘married’ … you can then divorce Monday morning, e.g., by saying the word ‘talaq’ 3 times. Iranian women sometimes advertise themselves as ‘temporary wives’ (not ‘prostitutes’ of course!) for a small marital ‘gift’ of € 60 or so.

Between temporary marriage, and Iran’s practice of educating its women – often ‘bad’ for Muslim fertility – Iran’s birth rate has collapsed even more than in much of Europe.

A great shame the US CIA overthrew the secular socialist Iranian government in 1953. May the Iranian people be soon free of both Western-Israeli menace, and their own mad mullahs.

peterAUS , says: July 29, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT
@Brabantian Good comment.

Have to say this was new to me:

…‘temporary marriage’ provision in Shia religious practice that is essentially legalised prostitution. Not only can Iranians have 4 wives as the Sunnis do, one of those can be a ‘wife for the weekend’, legally, provided you go to the imam to be officially ‘married’ … you can then divorce Monday morning, e.g., by saying the word ‘talaq’ 3 times. Iranian women sometimes advertise themselves as ‘temporary wives’ (not ‘prostitutes’ of course!) for a small marital ‘gift’ of € 60 or so.

May the Iranian people be soon free of both Western-Israeli menace, and their own mad mullahs.

Well, the price for the later is the former, apparently.

renfro , says: July 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm GMT
@Jonny C

Yes, you can’t say everything in every piece that you write, and for expediency there is simplification. You can get away with it by saying “among other things, Trump’s desire to humiliate Obama may lead us into a devastating war.” But the way you wrote it certainly insinuates that it is in fact Trump and his personal psychopathy driving the country towards war. In that, I think you are mistaken.

I don’t see it that way…..Vltchek has been around unz for a while…..so it would not be wrong for him to assume most of unz knows the real forces behind Trump and the Iran war push.

... ... ...

FB , says: • Website July 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm GMT
@Brabantian You come off sounding like a Soros acolyte by parroting ‘human rights porn’ that is largely fabricated bullshit…and disseminated by the usual NGO suspects and their MSM partners…

That’s not to say there is no merit to your basic beef…Iran is a theocracy…religious fanaticism has been a curse on humanity over the ages…religion in general really…

Iran does execute a lot of people…Vltchek is overly enthusiastic about Iran…I would say probably because he sympathizes a lot with their essentially ‘socialist’ approach [as do I]…but Iran is no angel…

But then who is…?…US cops gun down 1,000 people a year…

Also some mitigating facts to consider…a lot of the criminals Iran executes are drug traffickers…Afghanistan next-door is heroin central…run by the CIA with help from their ISIS private army…

This is nothing new…the deep state of empire has been running the global drug racket for a couple of centuries now…and using it as a geopolitical weapon against perceived ‘enemies’…going back to the opium wars that were used by the British to ‘crack open’ China…and today aimed against Russia, Central Asia and Iran…not to mention ‘neutralizing’ large swaths of the domestic population by turning them into drug zombies…

Iran’s drug laws are not nearly as draconian as in other jurisdictions in the Muslim world…capital punishment goes only for those caught with over 30 grams of hard drugs like heroin…which is far bigger than user amounts…the death sentence is not applied for first offenders, or even for repeat offenders of 30 to 100 grams…so really it is the hardcore traffickers that are getting offed…I have no problem with that…[neither do leaders like the Philippines’ Duterte who is much less tolerant than Iran…]

There is some truth to claims about Iran’s belligerence…the Russians aren’t thrilled about everything they’re doing in Syria, which includes Shia colonizing in regions they’ve seized, which is a sign of attempting to entrench their agenda in that suffering country…and hence the continuing Israeli attacks, which nobody appreciates…

They are also spurning Russian offers of help…

In Iran, sources confirm that “…Russia offered to sell one million barrels daily for Iran, and to replace the European financial system with another if needed.

Iran has refused…why…?

[Probably because they resent Russia for pressuring them to reign in their activities in Syria…it just shows the all or nothing mentality of religious fanatics…]

All in all it is crazy to think that religious zealotry can lead to anything good…it never has…

But there is a bigger principle here… it’s their country…

Nobody gives us the right to tell them how to live their lives…certainly compared to Saudi Barbaria and the other gulf theocracies…not to mention serial criminal Israel…nobody has good cause to be pointing fingers at Iran…

There is also the issue of the illegality of Trump tearing up the deal…which was adopted [unanimously] by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231…

The US signed that resolution…and let us remember that UNSC resolutions are INTERNATIONAL LAW…they are LEGALLY BINDING on all UN member states…

So the US is breaking international law…the sanctions are illegal also, since only the UNSC had the legal authority to impose sanctions…

The US’ disregard for the supreme international legal order…along with Israel similarly flouting UNSC resolutions for 50 years to pull out of the occupied territories…is simply unacceptable…

So let’s not lose sight of the ball…this has nothing to do with Iran’s domestic behavior…and everything to do with serial criminal USA…

Fool's Paradise , says: July 30, 2019 at 8:33 pm GMT
@SteveK9 Yes, SteveK9, but you meant, of course, to say “why oh why the US would want to destroy Iran”–not Israel. Israel has been trying to maneuver Uncle Sam into a shooting war with Iran for a decade or more. Israel’s American neocons have succeeded in getting America to destroy Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran is the last country standing in the way of Israel’s total dominance of the Middle East. No Israel, no war, it’s as simple as that.
Commentator Mike , says: August 3, 2019 at 3:31 pm GMT
@Brabantian Standard muslim stuff. It’s their country so up to them what they do. But Iran was cooperating with Al Qaida in Bosnia in the 1990s chopping heads of Christians and atheists. In fact they were aligned with USA and NATO there but now US is using that involvement against them as proof of “terrorism” activity.

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-guard-s-general-says-they-were-in-bosnia-disguised-as-aid-workers/29886373.html

And here’s Andre praising them. It was well known that they were supplying weapons disguised as humanitarian aid but US and NATO did nothing to stop them at the time.

Talha , says: August 3, 2019 at 4:45 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike There was an embargo on any weapons getting through to Bosnia at the time. The Bosnians were massively outgunned by the Serbs that had possession of almost all the serious hardware after the break up of Yugoslavia. The Muslim world was not about to let this discrepancy go unanswered.

AQ at that stage was still mostly the “foreign legion” global defense initiative that was the initial vision of Shaykh Abdullah Azzam so it’s not surprising the Iranians were cooperating with them at the time. It would later progressively warp into the terrorism outfit over time in the 90’s especially with the African embassy bombings.

Peace.

peterAUS , says: August 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike Maybe you could take a look at what is going on there as we speak.
As European, you could do it. Americans and the rest of colonists can’t.

Let’s just say there is a significant Iranian presence in Bosnia.

Serbs and Croats in the region won’t be displeased should the regime in Tehran get smashed into pieces. Really small pieces.

Make of that what you will.

Commentator Mike , says: August 4, 2019 at 7:09 am GMT
@peterAUS PeterAUS,

The problem with the Balkans is that there is so much hatred and animosity between the various white ethnicities, because of historical reasons, that they have a blind spot for the much greater danger posed to them all by the massive demographic changes taking place in the world. And if that kind of intra-white hatred were to spread to the rest of Europe it will be even harder to salvage anything of the white European sovereignty.

Actually one can work even within those hatreds unless they’re given a chance to flare up, and obviously certain forces work on doing just that, as we have seen in Ukraine. Oh yes, and the Muslims aren’t helping much to bring peace about in that region.

Commentator Mike , says: August 4, 2019 at 8:41 am GMT

Go eat Iranian food.

Thanks but no thanks. Since Supreme Commander Al Baghdadi ordered muslims to get us by any and every means I strictly avoid eating anywhere muslims work, cook, or serve, despite liking their food. Didn’t you hear of the three Albanian Kosovars who were arrested in Italy plotting a bombing campaign? They worked as waiters in Venice, Italy’s tourist hub. I pity those tourists who went through their restaurant before the Kosovars decided to move onto bigger actions. And he did mention poison, whatever, even spitting.

peterAUS , says: August 4, 2019 at 7:08 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike True.

Especially:

The problem with the Balkans is that there is so much hatred and animosity between the various white ethnicities, because of historical reasons, that they have a blind spot for the much greater danger posed to them all by the massive demographic changes taking place in the world.

As for this:

And if that kind of intra-white hatred were to spread to the rest of Europe it will be even harder to salvage anything of the white European sovereignty.

Smart observation.

[Aug 03, 2019] Looks like the> US withdrawal from the JCPOA with Iran might have been co-ordinated with the western European signatories

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ghost Ship , Aug 3 2019 10:55 utc | 72

BTW, it has become very clear to me that the US withdrawal from the JCPOA with Iran was co-ordinated with the western European signatories (France, United Kingdom, Germany and EU) so that "maximum pressure" can be maintained on Iran while F/UK/DE/EU do nothing to honour their commitments at the same time making it appear that it's Iran in breach rather than the US/F/UK/DE/EU. Iran is aware of this and taking action to ensure its preservation . War is coming and F/UY/DE/EU will be involved on the side of the Great Satan.

[Aug 03, 2019] Gareth Porter on John Bolton's Role in the Iranian Tanker Crisis The Scott Horton Show

Jul 30, 2019 | scotthorton.org

Scott interviews Gareth Porter about John Bolton's most recent efforts to raise tensions with Iran. He and Scott speculate about Iran's ability to disrupt international trade in the region by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, and the likelihood that they would do so given the risks of inciting more serious conflict as a result.

Discussed on the show:

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on the national security state, and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter and listen to Gareth's previous appearances on the Scott Horton Show.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Kesslyn Runs , by Charles Featherstone; NoDev NoOps NoIT , by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State , by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com ; Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom ; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott ; and LibertyStickers.com .

Donate to the show through Patreon , PayPal , or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

[Aug 02, 2019] 1952: Mosaddeq Nationalization of Iran's Oil Industry Leads to Coup

Aug 02, 2019 | www.unz.com

James N. Kennett , says: August 1, 2019 at 12:41 am GMT

@lysias

I wonder how Eisenhower was persuaded to permit the 1953 coup in Iran.

The British wanted to preserve BP's oil concessions in Iran, but MI6 was not powerful enough to stage a coup without help from the CIA. So the Brits pretended that Mosaddegh leaned towards the Soviets, and the Americans pretended to believe them.

After the coup, the Shah's government transferred the majority of BP's rights to American oil companies. It would have been much better for the Brits if they had done a deal with Mosaddegh.

renfro , says: August 2, 2019 at 5:29 am GMT
@James N. Kennett 1952: Mosaddeq Nationalization of Iran's Oil Industry Leads to Coup

Time Magazine's Man of the Year cover for 1951. Mohammad Mosaddeq
]
Iranian President Mohammad Mosaddeq moves to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in order to ensure that more oil profits remain in Iran. His efforts to democratize Iran had already earned him being named Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1951. After he nationalizes it, Mosaddeq realizes that Britain may want to overthrow his government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country.

Britain finds itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives out of his office, stating that "We don't overthrow governments; the United States has never done this before, and we're not going to start now."

After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mosaddeq are produced. The British intelligence operative who presents the idea to the Eisenhower administration later will write in his memoirs, "If I ask the Americans to overthrow Mosaddeq in order to rescue a British oil company, they are not going to respond. This is not an argument that's going to cut much mustard in Washington. I've got to have a different argument. I'm going to tell the Americans that Mosaddeq is leading Iran towards Communism." This argument wins over the Eisenhower administration, who promptly decides to organize a coup in Iran (see August 19, 1953). [Stephen Kinzer, 7/29/2003]

Entity Tags: Dwight Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Mosaddeq

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, US-Iran (1952-1953)

[Jul 31, 2019] Craig Murray worked on the laws of the sea. He calls the British heist of an Iran tanker illegal

Jul 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Petri Krohn , Jul 28 2019 19:46 utc | 2

Other issues:

Craig Murray worked on the laws of the sea. He calls the British heist of an Iran tanker illegal:
Tanker Seizures and the Threat to the Global Economy from Resurgent Imperialism

We still do not know how, when and where the Iranian tanker was captured. There are two mutually exclusive narratives.

1) Grace 1 "freely navigated into UK territorial waters" as Jeremy Hunt claims.

2) The capture of Grace 1 was ordered by the US long before Grace 1 entered the Strait. Panama revoked the ship's registration and Gibraltar changed its sanction laws.

Would the US know weeks in advance that Grace 1 is about to stop in Gibraltar? On the other hand, If Grace 1 had known that its registration had been revoked, would it not have avoided British waters.

I suspect Grace 1 was captured out on the Atlantic, days before the news was made public. The Royal Marines would then reprogram the automatic identification system (AIS) to show Gibraltar as the destination. We still have not heard from the crew. What is their story?

Thanks for the link to Craig Murray 's article. I have been collecting sources and analysis on the tanker seizures here .

Jen , Jul 28 2019 23:08 utc | 8

Petri Krohn @ 2:

If you know which shipping company owns a certain cargo ship or tanker, you can usually look up that company's database and find the ship's scheduled voyage. This is crucial knowledge because usually cargo ships will be carrying several lots of cargo to be offloaded at ports along the way, and new cargo taken on at the same time, so importers and exporters need to know exactly when the ship docks at X place and when it leaves. It would be very easy for the UK or the US to know in advance when the Grace 1 docks at Gibraltar; they only need to know who owns the tanker, find the owner's website and look up the schedules of all the owner's ships.

See here an example of how a company can choose a ship and a schedule that fits in with its import / export schedules. Another example here.

In fact the Grace 1 tanker might not have been the specific target; as long as there was a ship purportedly carrying Iranian oil passing through the Straits of Gibraltar, it would have been fair game. So all the British would have needed to know is which tanker or tankers from the Middle East would have been scheduled to dock in at Gibraltar and they get that information from the relevant port authorities.

[Jul 29, 2019] Tehran Urges China To Buy More Iranian Oil As It Feasts On Saudi Crude

Notable quotes:
"... China's crude shipments from Iran totaled 855,638 tons last month, which averages to 208,205 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 254,016 bpd in May, according figures from the General Administration of Customs, cited in a recent Reuters report . ..."
"... Iran's Vice President Jahangiri made the appeal to Beijing and "friendly" countries to up their Iranian crude purchases in statements Monday. "Even though we are aware that friendly countries such as China are facing some restrictions, we expect them to be more active in buying Iranian oil ," Jahangiri reportedly told visiting senior Chinese diplomat Song Tao. He said this while also on Monday issuing a statement saying Iran stood ready to "confront" American aggression in the region and that multilateralism must be upheld. ..."
Jul 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Following China's crude imports from Iran plunging this summer, sinking almost 60% in June compared to a year earlier - which corresponded to Washington shutting down the waiver program in May - leaders in Tehran are urging China to buy more Iranian oil .

China's crude shipments from Iran totaled 855,638 tons last month, which averages to 208,205 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 254,016 bpd in May, according figures from the General Administration of Customs, cited in a recent Reuters report .

Iran's Vice President Jahangiri made the appeal to Beijing and "friendly" countries to up their Iranian crude purchases in statements Monday. "Even though we are aware that friendly countries such as China are facing some restrictions, we expect them to be more active in buying Iranian oil ," Jahangiri reportedly told visiting senior Chinese diplomat Song Tao. He said this while also on Monday issuing a statement saying Iran stood ready to "confront" American aggression in the region and that multilateralism must be upheld.

"The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to protect multilateralism and confront American hegemony," Jahangiri said , according to the IRIB news agency.

He added that Iran's recent move to breach uranium enrichment caps could be reversed should other parties return to upholding their side of the nuclear agreement.

Simultaneously, China's oil purchases from Iran's rival Saudi Arabia have soared to record volume , totaling 1.89 million barrels a day last month, according to numbers cited in Bloomberg . "Shipments from the OPEC producer made up almost a fifth of its total oil purchases in June and was 64% higher than the previous month," while at the same time "Imports from Iran fell to the lowest since May 2010," according to Bloomberg .

Meanwhile, in a crucial development related to Iran's trying to weather the severe US-led sanctions storm, a long anticipated plan for gasoline export has begun with an inaugural shipment to neighboring Afghanistan.

State media reported the following on Monday :

The Fars news agency said on Monday that a first consignment of export gasoline will start trading in Iran's Energy Exchange (IRENEX) later this week .

It said some 10,000 tons of gasoline with octane number of 91 will be available for sale to Afghanistan through IRENEX on Wednesday, adding that the trade will take place both in the Iranian rial and in major international currencies.

Iran's refining capacity has grown significantly over the past years as the country slashed fuel imports while also coping with increased domestic demand.

Officials have expressed hope that Iraq along with Afghanistan, as well as Caspian Sea countries would become main destinations for gasoline export.


Noob678 , 10 minutes ago link

India totally stop buying Iranian oil despite being an ally to Iran. China is still buying regardless of US sanction against their companies and CEOs.

cashback , 11 minutes ago link

A country knocking on the doors of other countries to be able to sell it's product to sustain it's economy and support it's population all the while "civilized, humane, peaceful, and law abiding" people in the west enjoying their lives at the expense of the very same people who they insult for not being able to stole the way they did, arguing and trying to convince everyone else how Mullah's are oppressing their people while they're trying to help.

Welcome to the civilized world.

schroedingersrat , 4 minutes ago link

We were never civilized outside the west's borders. The west pillages, murders, enslaves and plunders since the beginning of civilisation.

KekistanisUnite , 15 minutes ago link

China will buy more Iranian oil and so will Russia. They will have the last word whilst the US empire will be the laughing stock of the world (well it already is).

earthling1 , 26 minutes ago link

China and Russia will support Iran up to and including WW3.

Iran is a crucial link in the OBOR/New Silk Road, which in turn MUST succeed for the survival of all three nations.

If Iran falls victim to the global cabal, war is certain and Putin has already stated: if there is no mother Russia, there will be no world.

But don't worry friends, it will all be over with quicker than an asteroid out of nowhere.

None of us will ever see the end coming. Nothing to see or do here. Move along, be happy.

Blue2B , 28 minutes ago link

Cruelty and Stupidity are the hallmarks of moves this century.

"What's Iran to do? It seems straightforward. Respond in kind but no more than in kind to aggression on Iran's interests, make sure the craven Trumpists and allies realize Iran isn't kidding about shutting down resource shipments through the Persian Gulf and the destruction of the vast petroleum infrastructure in the Persian Gulf if Iran is attacked militarily, and above all remain cool headed and patient. The US empire is beginning to implode."

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/148138/Cruelty-and-stupidity-are-the-hallmarks-of-US-moves-this-century

Sofa King , 31 minutes ago link

OK so last week there was millions of barrels of Iranian oil sitting in storage tanks in China but has not officially changed hands because of sanctions. Today imports from Iran to China have plunged. Do you not see the correlation? It was in your own ******* article. Do you even read some of the **** you publish?

I miss Marla...**** was straight when she was around.

hola dos cola , 5 minutes ago link

See what you mean re: Marla. Nowadays most articles get published on the merit of fitting an agenda, beyond that content seems irrelevant. And I'm not sure 'Tyler' even knows there is an active comment section, if you see what I mean.

The Chinese have planned for (and thus probably will achieve) a SPR holding 90 days of oil. They are past 60, maybe already past 70 these days.

... ~not good~...

Real Estate Guru , 32 minutes ago link

Let's take a look at what is happening around the world....

China is in trouble.

Iran is in trouble.

Venezuela is in trouble.

The UK, France, etc is beat up for past mistakes.

Mexico is in trouble.

... ... ...

Deep Snorkeler , 34 minutes ago link

The Globe is Forming Trading Blocs Against Us

petrodollar privilege is under attack

American export goods are shunned

our friends pretend to like us

Trump's sanctions and trade wars are backfiring

America is obese and rotting

datbedank , 32 minutes ago link

Petrodollar is dead, get with the times!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-03/how-petrodollar-quietly-died-and-nobody-noticed

Oil consumption is flat thanks to engine improvements. The turd world (Russia included) is nervous because their oil welfare is going to come to an end.

Deep Snorkeler , 30 minutes ago link

As an American, I feel embarrassed to walk the Champs Elysee.

He–Mene Mox Mox , 35 minutes ago link

It would be pretty tough for the U.S. to enforce any sanctions, if China agreed to buy more oil from Iran. And there is no way the U.S. can stop them, once the Belt and Road system is completed through the Middle East region. And since China has already lined up 152 countries to cooperate in the BRI, it is extremely difficult for the U.S. to deny them a shot at improving their economies, especially when it comes to the subject of Iran.

Edward Morbius , 39 minutes ago link

The "King of Debt" is also the "King of Tariffs (taxes)".

The "stable genius" is now going to to put tariffs on French wine. Epic jackassery.

frankthecrank , 42 minutes ago link

So much for the "China and Russia will save Iran" crowd's desperate assertions. Russia does not want VZ or Iranian crude on the market as it will push oil prices even lower. As I said, there will be no WW3 over Iran. There will be no grand assemblage of minor states over Iran. Iran is on its own.

[Jul 21, 2019] Trump, election and GB provocation against Iran tanker

The key problem for Trump is reaction of China and Russia... If Russia supports Iran the USA attack onIran might well be the second Vietnam and KSA will probably seize to exit.
Notable quotes:
"... The bottom-line is this -- if Trump launches military strikes against Iranian military targets it is very likely he will ignite a series of events that will escalate beyond his control, expose him as a paper tiger full of empty bellicose threats and risk a war with other countries, including Russia and China. ..."
"... The "War" class in Washington and the media are exhorting tough action and doing all within their power to portray Iran as an imminent threat to the West. The mantra, "the must be stopped," is being repeated ad nauseam in all of the media echo changers. President Trump, regrettably, is ignorant of military history and devoid of strategic intelligence when it comes to employing military force. He reminds me of Lyndon Johnson during the early stages of the Vietnam War -- i.e., being exhorted to take action, increase forces and not back down rather than lose face on the international front. ..."
"... it is more likely the Brits intended this as a provocation, in coordination with some members of Trump's team, that would bait the Iranians to respond in similar fashion. Iran has taken the bait and given the Brits what Iran sees as a dose of its own medicine. ..."
"... There is a dangerous delusion within the Trump National Security team. They believe we are so dominant that Iran will not dare fight us. I prefer to rely on the sage counsel of Colonel Patrick Lang -- the Iranians are not afraid to fight us and, if backed into a corner, will do so. ..."
"... The tanker is too big to use the Suez canal and too big to discharge oil in a Syrian port. It was possibly going to a Mediterranean port, but Iran will not back-down to the UK. ..."
"... As the Saudi's appear to be losing their war with Yemen, the UAE has announced that they are not desirous of being in the middle of any US-Iran conflict. Qatar is doing a huge nat gas deal with Iran. ..."
"... A 50% reduction in oil & LNG output for greater than 3 months would crush already weakening Asian economies who are the manufactured products supply chain for most of the world and in particular the US. Will voters in Ohio, Wisconsin & Michigan cheer Trump's military strikes on Teheran when prices at Walmart double? ..."
"... I have no faith in Donald Trump when it comes to Israeli's interests. Embassy moved to Jerusalem check, Golan Heights check. Deal of the Century by his Anti-Christ Son-In-Law check. Not sure if that is a joke or not. ..."
"... "Trump's advisers have a demented obsession with Iran. They've been spoiling for a fight with Iran for decades. They have no idea how destructive it would be. It would make Iraq look like a tea party." ..."
"... Yes. A demented obsession that is not in US interests. Is it really in Saudi and Israeli interests when they may be hurt too? ..."
"... The same idiots running the show seem to believe that American oil and gas fracking makes it impervious to the loss of Middle Eastern oil (in fact, a secret motivation might be to save American frackers economically), but they forget that oil is a fungible commodity and always flows to the highest bidder. They could try of ban oil exports, but the Europe and Japan's economies would be utterly toast as there would be virtually no oil available to them, especially if Russia backed Iran and cut them off. ..."
"... Rather than blaming this on the media, neocons or the Pentagon, put the blame where it lies - with President Trump. Trump campaigned on tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement which he did once he was elected. The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran which are meant to inflict serious hardship on the Iranian people. Trump hired Bolton and Pompeo - both hawks from previous administrations. Trump is attempting to enforce the sanctions. Is there anyone else to blame but Trump? ..."
"... The use of the golden rule suggests problems with your logic. Would we sit still, for example, if Russia and/or China started fostering guerrilla movements in South America? Of course not. We would actively intervene in support of what we see as our local security imperatives. That appears to me to be all Iran is doing in its region. ..."
"... If the Gulf oilfields in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are heavily rocketed and put out of commission along with tanker loading docks and pipeline infrastructure, there won't be any oil to ship out of the Gulf anyway. ..."
"... The primary damage from a war with Iran will be economic. Oil flowing through the Staits will come to a halt and that will hit China, Japan and the rest of Asia very hard and their buying power will decrease significantly hurting our exports. Even though the U.S is self-sufficient in oil if oil prices hit $100+ on the world market look for the U.S. oil companies to increase their prices to approach the world price driving gas prices into the $5.00+/gallon range. Trump will undoubtably prohibit U.S oil exports but the damage to the economies world wide will still negatively impact the U.S. ..."
"... Post Scriptum: Signs of a dying paradigm as the western elite have gone into total sclerotic mode. Dangerous as a rabid dog. ..."
Jul 21, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Donald Trump appears to be on the verge of doing what the "Never Trumpers" could not--destroy his Presidency and make re-election impossible. It all boils down to whether or not he decides to launch military strikes on Iran. The bottom-line is this -- if Trump launches military strikes against Iranian military targets it is very likely he will ignite a series of events that will escalate beyond his control, expose him as a paper tiger full of empty bellicose threats and risk a war with other countries, including Russia and China.

The "War" class in Washington and the media are exhorting tough action and doing all within their power to portray Iran as an imminent threat to the West. The mantra, "the must be stopped," is being repeated ad nauseam in all of the media echo changers. President Trump, regrettably, is ignorant of military history and devoid of strategic intelligence when it comes to employing military force. He reminds me of Lyndon Johnson during the early stages of the Vietnam War -- i.e., being exhorted to take action, increase forces and not back down rather than lose face on the international front.

The media is busy pushing the lie that Iran launched an unprovoked "attack" on a British flagged ship. They ignore the British action two weeks ago, when the British Navy seized an Iranian flagged tanker heading to Syria. Britain justifies its action as just keeping the sanction regime in place. But it is more likely the Brits intended this as a provocation, in coordination with some members of Trump's team, that would bait the Iranians to respond in similar fashion. Iran has taken the bait and given the Brits what Iran sees as a dose of its own medicine.

There is a dangerous delusion within the Trump National Security team. They believe we are so dominant that Iran will not dare fight us. I prefer to rely on the sage counsel of Colonel Patrick Lang -- the Iranians are not afraid to fight us and, if backed into a corner, will do so.

I see at least four possible scenarios for this current situation. If you can think of others please add in the comments section.

... ... ...


Fred ,

"two weeks ago, when the British Navy seized an Iranian flagged tanker"

Via Associated Press:

Royal Marines took part in the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker by Gibraltar, a British overseas territory off the southern coast of Spain. Officials there initially said the July 4 seizure happened on orders from the U.S." .......

It gets even better than on orders from the U.S.
"Britain has said it would release the vessel, which was carrying more than 2 million barrels of Iranian crude, if Iran could prove it was not breaching EU sanctions"

We are supposed to believe that Syria is importing oil on ships which sail through the Straights of Gibraltar rather than getting oil from, say, Russia! or going from Iran (it is Iranian oil, so they say) through the Suez Canal? What did they do, sail around the continent of Africa to stage this?

So the brilliant minds at GCHQ that brought us Christopher Steele and the dossier have decided that they really, really, need to get rid of the Orange Man and they don't care how many Iranian or American lives it takes. I wonder just how many people the man not in the news, Jeffrey Epstein, had the dirty goods on and just which government was behind his operation.

Стивен said in reply to Fred ... ,
The tanker is too big to use the Suez canal and too big to discharge oil in a Syrian port. It was possibly going to a Mediterranean port, but Iran will not back-down to the UK.
Fred -> Стивен... ,
Stephen,

Thanks for the comment. I did a bit more research. It seems strange to me that Iran would use a ship to large for the canal to make such a shipment to Syria, if indeed that was where it was heading.

The Twisted Genius , 20 July 2019 at 08:10 PM
Larry, your intel about the JCS not advising caution is most disheartening. I wouldn't be surprised if the warmongers surrounding Trump are also telling him that his rally attending base is all for taking it to the raghead terrorists. That may not be far off. Sure those who support Trump for his professed aversion to adventurism will be appalled at war with Iran, but his more rabid base may follow him anywhere. Trump has no ideological need for war, but he does have a psychological need for adoration. That's not a good situation.
blue peacock said in reply to The Twisted Genius ... , 21 July 2019 at 10:09 AM
"...his rally attending base is all for taking it to the raghead terrorists.."

TTG

I have seen private surveys commissioned by a deep pocketed hedge fund of working class folks in the mid-west & the south. When the consequences of a military confrontation with Iran are described the overwhelming majority oppose it.

Larry is spot on. Trump will lose his re-election bid if he kowtows to Bibi & MbS. The short-term financial & economic effects would crush his base and the half-life of jingoism after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, & Syria will be rather short. Trump will be blamed by the "right" for cocking up teaching Iran a lesson and demonized by the "left "for getting us into another ME quagmire.

J -> The Twisted Genius ... , 21 July 2019 at 10:09 AM
How does one wake POTUS Trump to the reality that his NEOCONS and Israel Firsters in his Cabinet will destroy his Presidency if he doesn't jettison them out the door.
eakens , 20 July 2019 at 10:22 PM
There is an effort underway to undermine Israeli influence in the US, and I think the calculus might be to use the exact thing Israelis want most (war with Iran) to do that. I think the resurrection of the Epstein case is also part of that effort. Thus, war with Iran is inevitable.
Artemesia said in reply to eakens... , 21 July 2019 at 07:41 AM
"There is an effort underway to undermine Israeli influence in the US"

Is it an organized effort? Where do I sign up?

Rick Wiles heads TruNews, a Christian evangelical network. He's been outspoken in his criticism of zionism, calls out Christian zionists, and deplores that "the US has been taken over by zionists." To be sure, ADL has labeled Wiles an "antisemite." If TruNews survives, it may be part of game-changing.

Only from TruNews did I learn about HR1837, US-Israel united cyber command, "an alliance to direct energy space weapons"
https://www.trunews.com/stream/united-zionist-cyber-command-congress-forges-us-israel-alliance-in-direct-energy-space-weapons

"The Squad" mouthing rhetoric is weak tea to counteract Israeli's deep penetration of US military and other key institutions.

Petrel , 20 July 2019 at 11:00 PM
"From what I am hearing from knowledgeable sources [is that] no one on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at DOD are advising caution."

We should probably ignore the notion that the Joint Chiefs are bullish about a war with Iran -- the situation in the area is terrible for us and the Joint Chiefs know it.

For example, Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan have military understandings with Iran and the former is now installing advanced S-400 Russian missiles to defend itself from us. Furthermore, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbajian and Armenia will not allow transit of war materiel or aircraft en-route to Iran. So how does the US project anything into that country?

Then again, US Central Command is located in Iran friendly Quatar, which merely hosts us and could require us to leave. How come? Wouldn't you know it, Quatar is developing a massive gas reserve with Iran in the Gulf, is now very, very friendly with big-brother Turkey and presently negotiating with Russia for S-400 missiles -- clearly against us.

Well, what about our Navy?

Alas, recent improvements in missiles have rendered our deep water Navy a liability -- not that the narrow Persian Gulf / Sea of Oman is deep in any case. (President Trump learned about our Navy's vulnerability to missile attack last year as the Pentagon quickly pulled our three carrier group force from Korea and parked those impressive ships on the south coast of Australia! )

Then there is Iran's near east client / ally Hezbollah, which has made clear that any bombing of Iran, a huge country, would trigger heavy missile attack on postage-stamp Israel.

The Neocons may have managed to silence public Pentagon doubts, but President Trump is clearly attempting to avoid military adventures. "No, the Iran downed drone was old and not that expensive." "The UK captured an Iranian tanker and the Iranians have reciprocated. The two should sit down and work the situation out."

JamesT , 20 July 2019 at 11:00 PM
I believe that Iran is going to want to avoid war if they can. Their program of adding precision guidance to Hezbollah missiles in Lebanon means that the longer they postpone war, the better for them. If they get to a point where they have 10,000 precision guided missiles in Lebanon then the next Israel-Lebanon war will force Israel into a humiliating defeat.

Eighty percent of Israel's water comes from water desalination plants - and then there are electricity generation plants, sewage treatment plants, and numerous other infrastructure targets that can be hit. Israeli civilians are soft and will cry uncle as soon as their air conditioning cuts out.

The neocons know that time is not on their side.

Castellio said in reply to JamesT ... , 21 July 2019 at 12:30 AM
It's your last line which is the most worrying.

Why not, then, have the Americans initiate the deed now... destroy Iran and Lebanon, and then, with France, the UK, Germany, Canada et al. spend billions to rebuild Israel, with the Palestinians being sent to Jordan (if not worse).

Israel has gambled on a broader war several times in the past, and they believe (despite the fiasco in Lebanon) that each was a win.

What do you do, when "time is not on your side?".

smoke , 20 July 2019 at 11:37 PM
When did this group, leading the charge overseas in D.C. for the past 20 years, once get it right, as far as assumptions and expectations of military necessities or outcomes? I am beginning to think this creating a greater danger out of a lesser mess is a feature, not a defect. If so, why? To what end? Or is the policy process that broken?
Fred -> smoke... , 20 July 2019 at 11:37 PM
Smoke,

Saddam ain't around any more, neither is Muammar Gaddafi. The neocons take those as great victories since the sacred state of Israel is safe from those two.

ted richard , 21 July 2019 at 06:50 AM
imo a war with iran is theatre and will not take place.

should iran be attacked imo you can kiss the UAE goodbye as well as most if not all of the Saudi oil infrastructre along the gulf. i would also expect a massive direct bombardment of israeli cities and other important targets from hezbollah starting with the massive ammonia storage system in haifa whose destruction would annihilate that entire region. all of useful israel is in the middle to upper third of the country closest to lebanon and easy reach for all of hezbollahs missiles.

the persian gulf upon the start of the war becomes the hotel california for any warship within. none would likely escape. and the coup de gra for iran is whether they have the ballistic missile reach and or can gain access to russian long range bombers fitted with kalibr or better cruise missiles able to smash diego garcia absolutely critical american relaestate in the indian ocean.

trump imo is not crazy and can read a map as well as anyone with help from his REAL pentagon military professionals.

we have not even gotten to what happens to all those oil and interest rate derivatives far out of the money right now in somewhat normal times. if war starts they go from notional to real fast and the western financial system implodes even with a force majeure declaration

my vote is no war.

Error404 , 21 July 2019 at 07:46 AM
An Iran war would indeed most probably kill off Trump's chance of re-election. The almost inevitable spike in the price of oil which it would bring about would have two implications:

1/ ROTW xUS manufacturing is already in recession, with services close to joining it in many countries. The US is clearly slowing down and appears headed on the same course. The global economy is in no shape to withstand even a relatively short-lived surge in oil prices.

2/ There is no knowing what lurks out there in the oil derivatives market, but the banking system - particularly the European banking system - is far too fragile to sustain another bout of counterparty risk aversion along the lines of 2007/08. (And amongst the trillions of gross derivatives exposure, one has to wonder just how many US and other banks are sitting across from Deutsche Bank oil positions and happily netting off the counterparty risk.)

Regretably, from my side of the Atlantic the US looks like a traditional imperial power, addicted to war and conquest and with a significant proportion of the population fetishizing (probably not a real verb) all things military. Whether Trump can be truly damaged by extending the 'forever war' to Iran depends very much on how it goes - and I doubt he has the knowledge required to think through all the plausible scenarios. We can be a lot more confident that carrying the blame for an unnecessary recession into the election campaign has a solid chance of sinking him.

Fred -> Error404... , 21 July 2019 at 11:00 AM
Error404,

Just what good has the past two decades of "war and conquest" done for America, whether flyover country, Jussie Smollett's "Maga Country" section of Chicago or the homeless encampments of Seattle, LA or Portland?

CK , 21 July 2019 at 09:59 AM
As the Saudi's appear to be losing their war with Yemen, the UAE has announced that they are not desirous of being in the middle of any US-Iran conflict. Qatar is doing a huge nat gas deal with Iran.

Bolton is heading to Japan to "mediate" the current economic disagreements between Japan and S. Korea.
Pompeo is declaring that the Iranian Ballistic Missile program is suddenly on the table. It would appear that the whole Iranian atomic bomb thing was smoke and mirrors and hasbara.

There is a deal available, preparation for making the deal will involve political kabuki, grand posturing, the beating of drums without rhythm and the flooding of the Old American Infotainment outlets with much wailing and whining about "the only democracy in the MENA."

A deal will eventuate that allows both the USA and Iran to move on, about a week before the 2020 presidential election. Or maybe not.

blue peacock , 21 July 2019 at 10:23 AM
I have a question for those of you well versed with Iranian military capability. What are the capabilities of Iranian ballistic missiles in terms of range, precision and payload lethality?

As Col. Lang has noted in the transition to war, before the US Navy gets its ducks in a row, that is the window of opportunity that Iran has to strike back. What damage could they inflict on oil & gas infrastructure including LNG, port & pipelines across UAE, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

A 50% reduction in oil & LNG output for greater than 3 months would crush already weakening Asian economies who are the manufactured products supply chain for most of the world and in particular the US. Will voters in Ohio, Wisconsin & Michigan cheer Trump's military strikes on Teheran when prices at Walmart double?

blue peacock , 21 July 2019 at 10:53 AM
All

As Larry notes "..President Trump, regrettably, is ignorant of military history and devoid of strategic intelligence when it comes to employing military force.." , but I believe he has good political instincts and as his Reality TV/Twitter presidency shows he has an excellent sense of how it plays both in the MSM and social media. He must know that while the "shock & awe" and "boom-boom" videos may give him an instant boost the stock market that he has rested his presidency on may not soar but in fact plummet. And he can't blame Jay Powell for that.

He must also instinctually know that November 2020 is a year away and a lot can go wrong as it is economically and in financial markets since he's been harping at the Fed to lower rates in supposedly the best economy evah. Uncertainty spikes volatility and the credit markets are already stressed particularly in offshore eurodollar funding which is an order of magnitude larger than mortgage credit markets were in 2007.

Maybe Rand Paul is his counter to the ziocon fifth column? I don't think he's that foolish to pull the trigger on Iran and sink his presidency when the Deep State & NeverTrumpers are out for his blood. He must know he'll lose immunity from legal jeopardy when he's no longer POTUS.

walrus -> blue peacock... , 21 July 2019 at 04:00 PM
As Col. Lang has repeatedly observed, the decisions to go to war do not necessarily follow economic, nor domestic political logic. It is therefore better to speculate on the players state of mind rather than looking at the aforesaid rational drivers like economics and votes.

Who knows what is being whispered in Trumps ear?

Noregs gard , 21 July 2019 at 10:57 AM
http://resistancenewsunfiltered.blogspot.com/
here you will find many of Nasrallah`s speeches and tv appearances with english subtitles..
Harlan Easley , 21 July 2019 at 11:46 AM
I have no faith in Donald Trump when it comes to Israeli's interests. Embassy moved to Jerusalem check, Golan Heights check. Deal of the Century by his Anti-Christ Son-In-Law check. Not sure if that is a joke or not.

Israeli wants Iran destroyed and their ability to pressure US Presidents to do their bidding all the way back to President Truman is 100% success. Trump so cravenly promotes the Zionist interest that I see no reason he will not pursue regime change in Iran to its logical conclusion.

The plan is ultimately Greater Israeli and the leaders of Iran are well aware of this.

Many comments say that Israeli will be badly damaged by any regional war. Why do you believe Israeli is just going to take the blows? Analysis is not advocacy as Col. Lang says.

My fear is the ultimate weapons of mass destruction are introduced into the Middle East.

Jack , 21 July 2019 at 11:48 AM
"Trump's advisers have a demented obsession with Iran. They've been spoiling for a fight with Iran for decades. They have no idea how destructive it would be. It would make Iraq look like a tea party."

@Tom_Slater_ on Sky https://t.co/A50M6bghj8


https://twitter.com/spikedonline/status/1152926344466063360?s=19

Yes. A demented obsession that is not in US interests. Is it really in Saudi and Israeli interests when they may be hurt too?

Flavius , 21 July 2019 at 12:01 PM
Option 1 - Diplomatic solution: The UK will do what it must do, ie what the US allows it to do. The GB Imperial project is no more and the UK is riding along somewhere in the wake of the Imperial City. Whatever influence it exerts on power there is by flattery or deception (Steele dossier.) Trump slapped the UK Ambassador out of Washington as if he were a fly. Moreover, the UK alone carries no stick to wield against Iran. Iran is no Falklands.

Options 2 thru 4 - some degree of military attack on Iran: as you point out, the return on investment for any kind of attack on Iran is highly unpredictable. It depends entirely on how Iran chooses to respond and whether it decides to roll the dice, go all in, and endure the onslaught, and inflict what damage it can where it can, which it very well may. Does anyone in Washington have an intel based fix on Iran's intentions when attacked? I doubt it.

Not a single intervention in the last 18 years, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya resulted in the anticipated outcome. Do they have rear view mirrors in Washington?

My weakly held expectation, especially now with the passing of a few days, is that Washington will decide to temporize and tell the UK to accept the humiliation, in effect kicking the can down the road. Everyone will know it is only doing what it has been told to do.

Of course they will announce more face saving sanctions. The Donald will hope that he will be able to gut it out to 2020 without having to make a decision that could blow him up, and likely would - but who knows? Iran will hope to gut it out to 2020 and in the interim pray to God that some Democrat floats back down to earth with some issues, like the Donald once espoused, that will be used to beat the Donald and send him and his family back to the upper East Side.

With the escalation game fully in play, it's going to be a close call.

GeneO , 21 July 2019 at 01:06 PM
LJ -

I find it a bit hard to believe that leaders like Dunford, Selva, Milley, Richardson, and the others on the Joint Chiefs are not advising caution. Milley, the next Chairman, for sure has advised caution at his recent Senate hearing. Dunford has only pushed for an international coalition Task Force to guard ships transiting the Strait. Selva and Richardson appear to be more worried about China.

Let us all hope that your knowledgeable sources are wrong.

The real danger is if Fred Fleitz gets to be DNI. If that happens be prepared for another scam like the Office of Special Plans a la Wolfowicz and Feith. Probably Bolton and/or PomPom already have one hiding in the basement ready to go.

GeneO , 21 July 2019 at 01:48 PM
Iran's FM Zarif made a peaceful impression during Fareed Zakaria's interview. But all the headlines focus on his one statement: "Start a war with Iran and we will end it" . Although those were NOT his words, what he said was "We will never start a war,...But we will defend ourselves, and anybody who starts a war with Iran will not be the one who ends it."

The question is whether he speaks for the hardliners.

Karl Kolchak , 21 July 2019 at 03:12 PM
You forgot to mention what will happen to the world economy if the Strait of Hormuz is closed to all shipping by Iranian missiles an mines. Stock marks would collapse and a deep recession if not depression would ensue quickly.

The same idiots running the show seem to believe that American oil and gas fracking makes it impervious to the loss of Middle Eastern oil (in fact, a secret motivation might be to save American frackers economically), but they forget that oil is a fungible commodity and always flows to the highest bidder. They could try of ban oil exports, but the Europe and Japan's economies would be utterly toast as there would be virtually no oil available to them, especially if Russia backed Iran and cut them off.

turcopolier , 21 July 2019 at 03:29 PM
Karl Kolchak

the strait would not stay closed long, ut there would be considerable economic damage while it is.

Tom Wonacott , 21 July 2019 at 03:36 PM
Rather than blaming this on the media, neocons or the Pentagon, put the blame where it lies - with President Trump. Trump campaigned on tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement which he did once he was elected. The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran which are meant to inflict serious hardship on the Iranian people. Trump hired Bolton and Pompeo - both hawks from previous administrations. Trump is attempting to enforce the sanctions. Is there anyone else to blame but Trump?

The scenario proposed by Moon of Alabama seems to be coming to fruition as an Iranian strategy to counter the sanctions - imposing hardships on the world economy by attacking western and Arab interests in the Middle East, but stopping short of a provocation which will require a military response ( https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/06/iran-decided-to-put-maximum-pressure-on-trump-here-is-how-it-will-do-it.html). Iran is not going to go quietly into the night.

Iran is also not entirely innocent in the affairs of the Middle East. Israel believes with some evidence that Iran is building forward bases in Syria - an unacceptable condition for Israel considering the thousands of missiles owned by Hezbollah and the ballistic missile testing by Iran. Iran is also supplying weapons directly to Hezbollah (as they always have). In addition, Iran is supplying weapons and (likely) ballistic missile technology to the Houthis. The Houthis have used ballistic missiles to attack the Saudis. Yemen is on the border of Saudi Arabia - and a (Shia) Houthi government is unacceptable to the Saudis. The Trump administration tore up the nuclear agreement because of the destabilizing political agenda of Iran (to US interests).

Trump campaigned on a more isolationist foreign policy so option 1 is still the most likely possibility for the moment (IMO).

walrus -> Tom Wonacott... , 21 July 2019 at 04:12 PM
The use of the golden rule suggests problems with your logic. Would we sit still, for example, if Russia and/or China started fostering guerrilla movements in South America? Of course not. We would actively intervene in support of what we see as our local security imperatives. That appears to me to be all Iran is doing in its region.
ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to Tom Wonacott... , 21 July 2019 at 06:57 PM
Your third paragraph is a stretch. Iran's actions that you describe are realistic (in the strategic sense of the word) responses to Israel's overt hostility, overwhelming superiority in air power and its possession of scores of nuclear weapons.
Antoinetta III , 21 July 2019 at 05:54 PM
I'm wondering if in case of war, Iran would need to "close the Gulf" at all.

If the Gulf oilfields in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are heavily rocketed and put out of commission along with tanker loading docks and pipeline infrastructure, there won't be any oil to ship out of the Gulf anyway.

Except Iran's own oil, of course.

Antoinetta III

jdledell , 21 July 2019 at 06:25 PM
The primary damage from a war with Iran will be economic. Oil flowing through the Staits will come to a halt and that will hit China, Japan and the rest of Asia very hard and their buying power will decrease significantly hurting our exports. Even though the U.S is self-sufficient in oil if oil prices hit $100+ on the world market look for the U.S. oil companies to increase their prices to approach the world price driving gas prices into the $5.00+/gallon range. Trump will undoubtably prohibit U.S oil exports but the damage to the economies world wide will still negatively impact the U.S.

Insurance on oil vessels will become almost impossible to get. The U.S will have to indemnify ship owners and I suspect many will not trust the U.S. to come through with the money for claims. Trump has a history of this and thus many ships will stay in port.

A war with Iran will not be won or lost militarily, but economically. Iran is 4 times the size of Iraq and has 3 times the population and I simply do not think we can successfully occupy the country. That being the case, I don't think the U.S can permanently prevent sabatoge in the Staits - meaning an oil induced recession will linger world wide for many years.

In a word - SNAFU

falcemartello , 21 July 2019 at 08:41 PM
UNO: increased false flag incident instigated by the anglo-zionist

DUE:Increased takfiri movements in Idlib and provocatiev attacks InnAleppo ,Hama Dara and Dier Ezurr as the Syrian Arab Army is consolidating around Northern Hama and Around Idlib .

TRE: More tanker siezures by the Nato cohorts and portraying Iran as breachoing the JCPCOA treaty. Nevr mentioning the breach of contract from the western alliance from Pax-Americana and its Western European vassals

Quattro Russia and China will be either utilised as middle men or further labelled as agressors and Iranian?Syrian?Yemeni apologist.

Post Scriptum: Signs of a dying paradigm as the western elite have gone into total sclerotic mode. Dangerous as a rabid dog.

[Jul 21, 2019] As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak -- Strategic Culture

Jul 21, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Last week it was all fire and brimstone. The US was threatening more sanctions on Iran, the Brits were seizing oil tankers and Iran was violating the JCPOA.

This week things look different all of a sudden. An oil tanker goes dark while passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the story fails to get any real traction and the US allows Iranian Foreign Minister, recently sanctioned, to do his job at the United Nations.

Trump then holds a cabinet meeting where he reiterates that "We're not looking for regime change. We want them out of Yemen."

I thought National Security Advisor John Bolton said the US would apply pressure until "the pips squeak."

Where the pips are squeaking is on the Arabian Peninsula, not across the Persian Gulf in Bandar Abbas. Specifically, I'm talking about the United Arab Emirates. The UAE sent a delegation to Tehran recently that coincided with its partial withdrawal of troops from Yemen.

That meeting, according to Elijah Magnier , focused on Emirates realizing they are in the middle of this conflict, up to their skyscrapers.

"The UAE would like to avoid seeing their country transformed into a battlefield between the US and Iran in case of war, particularly if Trump is re-elected. The Emirates officials noted that the US did not respond to Iran's retaliation in the Gulf and in particularly when the US drone was downed. This indicates that Iran is prepared for confrontation and will implement its explicit menace, to hit any country from which the US carries out their attacks on Iran. We want to be out of all this ", an Emirates official told his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.

Iran promised to talk to the Yemeni officials to avoid hitting targets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as long as the UAE pulls out its forces from the Yemen and stops this useless war. Saudi Crown Prime Mohammad Bin Salman is finding himself without his main Emirates ally, caught in a war that is unwinnable for the Saudi regime. The Yemeni Houthis have taken the initiative, hitting several Saudi strategic targets. Saudi Arabia has no realistic objectives and seems to have lost the appetite to continue the war in Yemen.

So, with the Houthis successfully striking major targets inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE abruptly pulling forces out, the war in Yemen has reached a critical juncture. Remember, the Republican-controlled Senate approved a bill withdrawing support for the war back in March, which the White House had to veto in support of its fading hopes for its Israeli/Palestinian deal pushed by Jared Kushner.

But things have changed significantly since then as that deal has been indefinitely postponed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a second election this fall after he failed to secure a stable coalition.

After that there was the failed economic conference in Bahrain in June where Kushner revealed the economic part of the plan to a half-empty room where only the backers of the plan showed any real support.

And that's the important part of this story, because it was Kushner's plan which was the impetus for all of this insane anti-Iran belligerence in the first place. Uniting the Gulf states around a security pact leveraging the U.S/Israeli/Saudi alliance was part of what was supposed to pressure the Palestinians to the bargaining table.

By placing maximum economic sanctions on both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran while continuing to foment chaos in Syria was supposed to force Israel's enemies to fold under the pressure which would, in turn, see the Palestinians surrender to the will of Kushner and Bibi.

The problem is, it didn't work. And now Trump is left holding the bag on this idiotic policy which culminated in an obvious provocation when Iran shot down a $220 million Global Hawk surveillance drone, nearly sparking a wider war.

But what it did was expose the US and not Iran as the cause of the current problems.

Since then Trump finally had to stand up and be the grown-up in the room, such as he is, and put an end to this madness.

The UAE understood the potential for Iran's asymmetric response to US belligerence. The Saudis cannot win the war in Yemen that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began. The fallout from this war has been to push Qatar out of the orbit of the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, cutting deals with Iran over developing the massive North Pars gas field and pipelines to Europe.

And now the UAE has realized it is facing an existential threat to its future in any confrontation between Iran and the US

What's telling is that Trump is making Yemen the issue to negotiate down rather than Iran's nuclear ambitions. Because it was never about the nuclear program. It was always about Iran's ballistic missile program.

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have us believe that for the first time Iran's missile program is on the negotiating table. I have no idea if that's actually true, but it's a dead giveaway that it's what the US is after.

The main reason why Trump and Netanyahu are so angry about the JCPOA is the mutual outsourcing of the nuclear ballistic missile program by Iran and North Korea. North Korea was working on the warhead while Iran worked on the ballistic missile.

Trump tweeted about this nearly two years ago, confirming this link. I wrote about it when he did this. Nearly everything I said about North Korea in the blog post is now applicable to Iran. This was why he hated the JCPOA, it didn't actually stop the development of Iran and North Korea into nuclear states.

But tearing up the deal was the wrong approach to solving the problem. Stop pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons to the region, as Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pointed out recently, is the problem . By doing this he took both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping off his side of the table.

Now he stands isolated with only the provocateurs – Israel, the U.K., Saudi Arabia – trying to goad him forward into doing something he doesn't want to do. And all of those provocations that have occurred in the past month have failed to move either Trump or the Iranians. They've learned patience, possibly from Putin. Call it geopolitical rope-a-dope, if you will.

I said last month that the key to solving Iran's nuclear ambitions was solving the relationship with North Korea. Trump, smartly, went there, doing what only he could do , talk with DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-Un and reiterate his sincere desire to end proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He can get Iran to the table but he's going to have to give up something. So, now framing the negotiations with Iran around their demands we stop arming the Saudis is politically feasible.

Trump can't, at this point, back down directly with Iran. Yemen is deeply unpopular here and ending our support of it would be a boon to Trump politically. Trading that for some sanctions relief would be a good first step to solving the mess he's in and build some trust.

Firing John Bolton, which looks more likely every day, would be another.

He's already turning a blind eye to Iranian exports to China, and presumably, other places. I think the Brits are acting independently trying to create havoc and burnish Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's resume as Prime Minister against Boris Johnson. That's why they hijacked the oil tanker.

But all the little distractions are nothing but poison pills to keep from discussing the real issues. Trump just cut through all that. So did Iran. Let's hope they stay focused.

[Jul 20, 2019] On Iran, Why Not Rand

Notable quotes:
"... Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign policy analyst, a columnist at ..."
"... , and a frequent contributor to ..."
"... That TAC columnists continue to hold out hope that Trump will revert to his 2016 form astounds me. ..."
"... It's like watching Obama cultists convince themselves that The Real Obama®, the hopey changey guy from 2008, will finally put in an appearance, even as he betrays them over and over again. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

If there is any direct communication between American and Iranian officials, it is hidden from public view. All of this has made Senator Rand Paul's initiative to open dialogue with Tehran urgent, necessary, and prudent.

According to a July 17 story in Politico , Paul recently pitched himself to President Trump as a possible presidential emissary to the Iranians -- someone who could sit down with Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and begin a conversation on the issues that have nearly resulted in military conflict. Trump apparently accepted Paul's pitch while the two were on the golf course last weekend. His decision, while not yet confirmed by the White House, suggests that Trump is slowly beginning to recognize the deficiencies of the maximum pressure policy that National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and outside counsels like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Mark Dubowitz have peddled for years. Far from forcing Tehran's surrender, economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation have yielded more Iranian aggression. Iran is now a wounded animal backed into a corner, ready to fight rather than submit. The chances of a clash have increased substantially.

In a town filled with tough talkers who see foreign policy as an extension of domestic politics, Rand Paul is one of those strange creatures who is willing to throw himself in front of a bus for the sake of preventing a war. His foes (of which there are many, from Bill Kristol and Lindsey Graham to Marco Rubio and Liz Cheney) use the lazy isolationist epitaph to paint him as a gadfly on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But at his core, Paul is neither a gadfly nor an isolationist. The junior senator from Kentucky is a non-interventionist who has the audacity to search for diplomatic solutions before doing what most of his colleagues on Capitol Hill would have long preferred -- involuntarily reaching for more punitive options.

This isn't the first time Paul has tried to create space for dialogue with a U.S. adversary. Last year, when so much as talking to a Russian was universally frowned upon by the political class, Paul flew to Moscow and delivered a letter on behalf of President Trump to Russian parliamentarians. A month later, he introduced an amendment that would have lifted travel restrictions on Russian lawmakers if Moscow did the same for their American counterparts. The amendment was a small and reasonable gesture that removed largely symbolic sanctions in order to encourage Americans and Russians to familiarize themselves with each other. It was lambasted in committee and killed .

Paul's latest initiative with Iran could run into the same brick wall. The fact that the arrangement was leaked to the media is an indication that somebody in the Trump administration is totally opposed to the idea and wants to bury any potential conversations with the Iranians before they begin. One can almost picture John Bolton, holed up in the White House basement, hearing the news and frantically ordering his minions on the National Security Council to expose it in the press.

There are also practical questions that need to be answered. With Zarif only in New York for another few days, does Paul have the time for a one-on-one meeting? Would the Iranians be interested in meeting with the senator, even if he does have the president's ear? Or is Khamenei, still seething over the administration's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and watching his government's oil exports disappear, dead set on banning any contact with the Americans for as long as Trump remains in the Oval Office?

It's Not Too Late for Trump to Ignore Bolton and Get Iran Right Is America Ready for John Bolton's War With Iran?

Organizing a backchannel with the Iranians could be difficult, in large measure because it will be fought tooth-and-nail by the usual suspects. But Rand Paul's potential role as an envoy should be pursued. After all, it isn't like the hawks have such a great track record.

Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign policy analyst, a columnist at Reuters , and a frequent contributor to The American Conservative.


Sid Finster2 days ago • edited

That TAC columnists continue to hold out hope that Trump will revert to his 2016 form astounds me.

It's like watching Obama cultists convince themselves that The Real Obama®, the hopey changey guy from 2008, will finally put in an appearance, even as he betrays them over and over again.

Sid Finster2 days ago • edited
That TAC columnists continue to hold out hope that Trump will revert to his 2016 form astounds me.

It's like watching Obama cultists convince themselves that The Real Obama®, the hopey changey guy from 2008, will finally put in an appearance, even as he betrays them over and over again.

dbriz Sid Finster2 days ago
Your pessimism is certainly warranted and frequently seconded by Larison and others at TAC. Agreed. But, what choice do we have but to encourage proposals like this one and recognize that Trump, as infuriatingly inconsistent as he has been, needs to be encouraged when he does something sensible.

Rand at least seems to have his ear, no small feat.

Sid Finster dbriz2 days ago
I am not saying that such moves, if they come to pass, should not be encouraged.

But let's see if anything comes of it, or if the Boltons, Pompeos and Haspels of this world make sure that Rand fails and then chant "But we have to go to war because we tried so hard we tried everything ZOMG war war war!"

bbkingfish2 days ago
The best reason I can think of to choose to send someone other than Rand Paul to negotiate with Iran is that Paul was NOT one of the seven WPP senators who didn't sign Tom Cotton's odious open letter to Iran trying to put the kibosh on the Obama nuke deal with Iran.

Maybe try Corker, or Alexander or Murkowski...someone whom the Iranians might have some reason to trust.

I seriously doubt that Rand Paul has a whit more credibility in Tehran than Trump does, and why would he?. I can't think of a single reason why Iran should trust him.

Fayez Abedaziz2 days ago
Good and very to the point made in this article about the hawks, these neo-cons, these war lovers, not having a good track record.
They have a record of death and destruction and they could care less about people suffering.
Just why do they want America to continue attacking and threaten and make war on numerous nations?
Why...
Sid Finster Fayez Abedaziza day ago
Because most Americans have the memory and attention span of a mosquito.

[Jul 20, 2019] ... Not the men we thought we were ... - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Jul 20, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

EEngineer , 13 May 2019 at 11:45 AM

I see the parallels, but not that one. I think the neocons hope to force the Iranians into making that "all-in" call though. Perhaps as the neocons see it, such a strike would magically rally the American populous to the war they so desire. Imperial conquest performed as a defensive reflex. So they needle nearly everyone in the hopes of triggering a replay of the WW2 saga which has taken on a mythical good vs evil aura in the US. Ironically, I would say it is the neocons who think they need to start a war with the Iranians so that they can be the men they think they are. The only thing still holding them back is the passive-aggressive need to make it look like someone, anyone, else started it so they can play the victim card once the body bags start coming home.
Ed Lindgren , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
USN CDR A. H. McCollum was the man who conceived the so-called "Eight Action Plan" which he outlined in his Oct 7, 1940 memo. This was his proposal for the U.S. and Britain to initiate actions which would essentially force Japan into making a decision to wage war against the United States.

The key elements of the plan, as outlined in McCollum's memo, include the following:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

Not too terribly different from the squeeze currently being placed on Iran by the team of Pompeo/Boton.

The text of the McCollum memo can be found here:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/McCollum_memorandum


turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:09 PM
Lindgren

Was this plan approved by Roosevelt? the embargoes had been in effect for some time by then.

Ed Lindgren said in reply to turcopolier ... , 13 May 2019 at 05:40 PM
COL Lang -

The journalist Robert Stinnett in his now 20 year old book 'Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor' made the case that FDR was aware of McCollum's memorandum. I have not read Stinnett's book, but historians apparently doubted the veracity of Stinnett's thesis regarding FDR's knowledge of the McCollum memo.

You are correct that initial embargoes of essential defense materials went to effect under the Export Control Act during the summer of 1940. Additional items were added to the list of embargoed materials subsequent to October 1940, following the drafting of the McCollum memo.

Fred -> Ed Lindgren... , 14 May 2019 at 08:29 AM
So no FOR did not approve of that plan, but some guy wrote a book 20 years ago, one you didn't read. That's quite helpful in evaluating current war mongering over Iran today.
ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to Ed Lindgren... , 20 July 2019 at 07:33 AM
I read Day of Deceit a month ago and found Stinnett's analysis and sourcing quite convincing. He demolishes the standard narrative that the attack was a total tactical surprise and to a large extent a strategic one as well. Admiral Yamamoto's orders to maintain radio silence were honored very much in the breach, one of the worst offenders being the at-sea mission commander himself, Admiral Nagumo. Many individual ship captains continued reporting their positions at specified times of the day, as was their peacetime practice. This enabled the US, British and Dutch signals monitoring stations, which were sharing information in spite of the fact that the US was not yet a combatant, to triangulate and track the Japanese mission fleet from its assembly point near the Kurile Islands eastward to their launch position several hundred miles north of Oahu. Stinnett assembles a strong circumstantial case asserting this information was available to the intelligence circles in Washington DC and in the US radio detection/cryptanalysis stations at Corregidor, the Aleutian Islands, and Station H on Oahu itself, practically within sight of Admiral Kimmel's office, but it never made it to the admiral himself or to General Short. He got much of the supporting information through the FOIA process, but some of the most damning documents he cited he found by walking into various historical archive sites outside of the DC area and simply asking to see what they had. He makes the point that many of the documents he cites never saw the light of day during any of the three formal investigations of the affair: in the months immediately after the attack; shortly after the end of the war; and half a century later in the early 1990s. What he is unable to cite are documents that concretely connect the president, Admiral Stark the CNO, or General Marshall the Army Chief of Staff with knowledge of the available intelligence. Those known to have existed which might have been smoking guns that he sought via the FOIA were either still highly classified or were "unable to be found." However the circumstantial case that they must have known and been on board, in some cases reluctantly, is strong. For example, it is known that the McCollum memo gained the attention of FDR himself soon after it was published, and the White House chief usher's log documents that the commander had several meetings with the president. McCollum, a USNA graduate, had spent much of his childhood in Japan as the child of Christian missionaries and was almost natively fluent in the language as well as deeply steeped in the culture.
Willy B said in reply to turcopolier ... , 20 July 2019 at 11:29 AM
Col,

I don't know if it came from the McCollum memo or not, but at the ABC-1 meetings in early 1941, the British delegation proposed that the US take over the defense of Singapore from the Royal Navy, a proposal that was rejected by the American delegation.

The minutes of the ABC-1 meetings were published by the British National Archives some years ago and I have it somewhere on my hard drive but I couldn't give you a link. As I recall, it was interesting to see the American side rejecting the Singapore and other schemes to get the US to defend British colonial territories.

blue peacock , 13 May 2019 at 12:21 PM
Col. Lang

It would seem that the best strategic option for Iran is to lay low and absorb the economic squeeze. The Chinese are unlikely to support the oil sanctions, so they'll be able to continue to sell them until the US navy starts to interdict their tankers. But oil is fungible.....

It would also seem that their best military strategy is a defensive one. Obtaining the best air defense systems and significant medium-range missiles with high payload capacity and accuracy. At the very least they'll be able to give a black-eye while going down.

Of course the question is how the Ayatollah controls his fire breathing, martyrdom loving hawks who bristle at their treatment by the US, Israel & the Saudis. My sense is Bibi will get more itchy than the Ayatollah to take advantage of his perception of complete control of Trump.

EEngineer said in reply to blue peacock... , 13 May 2019 at 01:01 PM
I've wondered if the Chinese will use their own tankers to pick up Iranian oil or re-flag Iranian ones with Chinese colors as the US did for Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's.

I can see the neocons wanting open conflict with Iran, but I don't know if they would risk war with China.

John Minehan said in reply to blue peacock... , 19 July 2019 at 05:14 PM
I'm not sure how much control Iran has of its proxies (the Houthi rebels, Hezbollah, the Shia Militias in Iraq, etc.). That strikes me as a reason fo both the US/Britain AND Iran to go carefully and slowly.
turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:23 PM
BP Merely logical
Tidewater said in reply to turcopolier ... , 13 May 2019 at 04:15 PM
Sir,

Nice map, I assume it can't be considered a chart. Maps make me think. Anyway, when I heard about the four tankers at Fujairah damaged by "sabotage" I took a look up at Qeshm island in front of Bandar Abbas (it looks to me like a shark) and wondered how far it was down to Fujairah. I get about 140 nautical miles.

I know that there are hardened sub-pens on the land side of Queshm Island probably out to the western end. Recently I have read comments speculating what the Iranian class of mini- or midget subs would be useful for. One learns that one use would be to deliver a sea-mine; another to launch the one torpedo it can carry; and another would be as a transport for naval commandos, or swimmers trained in demolition and mine warfare.

Then I remembered something. I took a look at the last place down on the right side of the map on the Iranian mangrove shore, Trask, once an old fishing port. Trask is also where the pipeline down from the CIS countries will end, and a large refinery, manufacturing, and shipping complex is planned. Since 2008, Trask has been developed for a number of military uses. First as a naval base which berths fast motor patrol boats of the kind that can launch missiles like the Qader, a sea-skimmer carrying a warhead of 200 kilos which can reach out to 186 miles; also as a drone base, complete with a rail launcher which could indicate proficiency in big stay-aloft reconnaisance drones, soon enough to be weaponized, if not already. Significantly, it is also a base for littoral-class submarines, which would include mini-subs design based on the North Korean Yono class, submarines that would be similar to the one that is thought to have sunk the ROKS Cheonan in 2011 with a torpedo. Travelling at nine or ten knots, the Iranian model of the Yono, the Ghadir, could make the crossing to Fujairah in about twelve hours. That's a distance of 127 miles or so.
It looks to me as if the stern location of the tanker the news videos show would not have been hit unless the ship backed into a mine. And it doesn't look like the kind of damage a naval mine would do. A naval mine would have made an enormous ten or twenty foot cavernous dent in that stern, at the least. What it looks like to me was that a swimmer or swimmers placed a sticky explosive or satchel charge. (?) I think it is meant as a warning. 'We can get you any time..."

There's another message. Fujairah and also the ports of Salalah, Sohar, and Duqm, in Oman, have been billing themselves as "the Gateway to the Arabian Gulf." (For that historical and scholarly insult alone they should pay.) Fujairah is the only one of the UAE that is on the eastern side of the Musandam Peninsula. It has been advertised as the emirate that would not be involved in a Gulf war. Out of range. Think again me buckaroos.

The United States has just signed an agreement in late March with Oman which allows US naval and air forces to use the new state- of-the art port facilities and airport at Duqm, down in the middle of the Oman coast, and also Salalah. Sultan Qaboos, a very impressive leader, one of the best, who happens to be gay (but the father of his country), balances carefully between the various powers he must deal with. Iran is already there in Oman and has the right to establish companies and to store materiel there, and to ship cargoes. Just as Iran does in Qatar, where two hundred trucks come across from Bushire every day and have since June 2017 since Trump the Brain gave the OK to Mohammed Bin Salman to lay siege to Qatar. Consider this: "Sohar Freezone has options for leasing pre-built warehouses and commercial offices, as well as 100% foreign ownership...and a One-Stop-Shop for all relevant permits and clearances." (From Overview--SOHAR Port and Freezone.) As to how you get this cargo to points south, that is an interesting question...

Russia will come in if push comes to shove. Russia will not countenance the idea of an America naval and drone base on the Caspian, which is what will happen if Iran is bombed flat. Russia will second pilots to the Iranians and will send bombers like the Tu-95 Bear or the Backfire capable of carrying the KH-101 which will carry Iranian markings etc. These bombers, with enormous range, could wreck havoc on Diego Garcia, and could destroy a carrier group.

The Iranians show us now that they were the ones who invented the game of chess. Trump can look at China, and then he can look at Fujairah, and he can see the American economy going down... The Iranian move is worthy of a grand master...

Tidewater said in reply to Tidewater... , 13 May 2019 at 04:56 PM
Tidewater to Tidewater,

Ouch. The place is called Jask.

ancientarcher said in reply to Tidewater... , 14 May 2019 at 06:08 AM
Great comment!
I think transferring a Tu-95 bomber will be a bit too much since the Iranians don't have much of an air force. But missiles will do the job anyways, so why bother with planes. You don't need to hit Diego Garcia, Israel is close enough. So is Al Udeid. Plus there will be attacks on all US bases spread across Iraq and I suspect Syria. There is no shortage of targets for sure for the Iranians, it this leads to war.
By the way, Chess was invented in India not ancient Persia. So was the numeral system which is now called Arabic numerals (the Arabs have been trying to give their names to stuff which is not theirs for a long time now) including the decimal system and negative numbers.
Tidewater said in reply to ancientarcher... , 14 May 2019 at 05:00 PM
Thank you for your comment. You remind me that I have a group of expensive, unread books about that part of the world. I may never read them, the way things are going.

I want to stress that Russia and Iran have already worked out the diplomatic agreements which allow Russia to have based bombers at Hamadan, from which attacks were made on Isis in Syria. In other words, Russia knows the way. The question is, is Russia going to stand by and do nothing while the United States bombs Iran back to the stone ages, as it did in North Korea during the Korean conflict? I find that hard to believe. I assume that at some point Russia will, as Russia has previously done in other conflicts, or places, such as in Yemen, in the 1970s and early 80's, assign pilots, and transfer planes ostensibly to the control of the Iranian military.

Diego Garcia is an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is a critical anchorage for prepositioning supply ships for any land operations, such as the invasion of Iraq; it is also a support facility, where submarines and other ships can get repairs. It is also an airbase, where B-2 bombers might be assembling as I write, though given everything else that is NOT happening, I assume that is doubtful. Speaking in a general way, the distance from the Persian Gulf, Muscat, or Bahrain, say, to Diego Garcia, is about 2600 or 2700 miles.

If Russia seconded a squadron of bombers such as the TU-22M3 (NATO reporting name Backfire C) under the aegis of Iran, and based them out of Bandar Abbas, Iran will have gotten a lot of reach out into the Indian Ocean, since the Backfire has a combat radius of about 1300-1500 miles.
The missile it will be carrying would be the standard Russian cruise missile--it is not hypersonic-- but it is a sea-skimmer, with a range of about 1550 miles. This is the KH-101/102 (nuclear). It seems certain to me that the Backfire can get the KH-101 (Raduga) missile out there; as can the Blackjack and the Bear. The mission of four or five bombers delivering each about eight missiles could be to sink some of those prepositioning ships; and to wreck the drone base/the airfield, and certain warehouse facilities. There is another thing such an attack could do. Diego Garcia has more than ample rainfall. As things stand today, it has never had a better fresh water supply system. Pipes and water storage, all has been greatly improved. Fresh water for two to three thousand support personnel and base activities is not a problem. I don't think Diego Garcia even needs to have a desalination system. There is one thing, though. Diego Garcia is built on a series of coral reefs, the one stacked on the other in geologic history as ocean levels rose 300 feet from 13,000 years ago. The coral beneath the island is permeated with salt water. The fresh water aquifers of the atoll sit on top of the salt water in what are called "lenses". These lenses hold an enormous amount of water kept stable and tappable by isostatic pressure, I am guessing. If an attack were made by JDAM missiles in areas determined from studies of the island to have these lense aqufiers, and if the missiles went deep into them before exploding, then I think the entire fresh water structure of the island could be ruined. The lenses would be penetrated and ruined. Salt water would permeate, mix and spread through the aquifer. It would become like Basra Governate, which now has an evil polluted salt brine aquifer where once it had fresh water. (And which means that there is already considerable migration from southern Iraq into Kurdish areas around Irbil, to the north.)

eaken , 13 May 2019 at 01:29 PM
Iran should publicly invite Trump to Tehran without his posse.
Artemesia said in reply to eaken... , 14 May 2019 at 03:26 PM
Iran should arrange with Italy for a meeting in Rome with Putin, Xi Jinping, and Trump. The Donald could take the role of Churchill in that meeting, who got an inkling that he was the odd-man out.
Six months later, Mark Clark went to Rome alone rather than execute the British - American pincer plan.

Historian Andrew Buchanan argues that Clark was ordered to take that action by FDR himself in a meeting with Clark at Bernard Baruch's plantation in North Carolina https://www.c-span.org/video/?322137-1/discussion-us-engagement-italy-world-war-ii US forces in control of Rome shut out all diplomats, including Churchill's representatives, from the diplomacy that then took place that determined Italy's future; USA became, effectively, in charge of Mediterranean and trade routes to Levant and North Africa.

Israel and its US lobbies, Jewish & Christian, have GOT to be reined in, or the American empire is on its way to the dustbin of history.

Tidewater said in reply to Artemesia... , 15 May 2019 at 03:40 PM
That historian Andrew Buchanan does not know that Bernard Baruch's plantation was off of Winyah Bay on Waccamaw Neck across from Georgetown, SOUTH Carolina, is, in my view, a red flag about his scholarship. The plantation, Hobcaw Barony, was for FDR, in 1944, a month-long retreat which made it, in effect, the southern White House. Buchanan obviously doesn't know anything at all about southerners in FDR's administration and the New Deal. I cannot help but wonder if Buchanan has ever looked at the papers of James Francis Byrnes, which are held at the University of South Carolina. My guess is that Byrnes might have made some comment about significant matters which happened at Hobcaw, including the visit of General Clark. Shrewd, devious Byrnes is a fascinating figure. (His handiwork is the Santee-Cooper hydroelectric project which you get a glimpse of on I-95 as you drive over lake Marion there, created by damming the Santee. It provided electricity for the whole depression hit state of South Carolina.) Byrnes knew them all, including Stalin. Also, it ought to be noted that Buchanan himself says that there is not a shred of evidence that at Hobcaw FDR personally ordered Mark Clark to disobey the clear orders of Field Marshall Alexander and break away from what could have been a decisive victory and instead go into Rome. It ought to be noted as well that Buchanan's argument that by putting into power the more left-wing politician Ivanoe Bonomi instead of the British backed General Pietro Badoglio, it meant that the communist partisans in northern Italy therefore accepted the new government and willingly laid down their arms, whereas under Badoglio and the King they might not have. I don't think they had a choice; and I wonder if they actually didn't maintain a clandestine arsenal thereafter. They were by no means ready to quit. A quick look at Wikipedia tells us that it was Churchill's government that persuaded Bonomi, who came in in June and was ready to quit by November, to stay on. He did so. The communists were a powerful force in Italy all the way up almost into the 1980s--it was the Red Brigade which kidnapped and murdered Aldo Moro, for example. Further, as a reaction , to the communist threat, there is the whole question of "strategic tension" which gave Italy the "years of lead"-- years of terror bombings by the right, such as the Bologna train station bombing, the bombing of the passenger plane which fell off of Ustica, and the whole mysterious thing that was Gladio. Michael Scammel in 'Koestler', his biography of the writer Arthur Koestler, gives an account of the near hysteria in western Europe in 1948 after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia. "The coup fulfilled Koestler's direst predictions and worst fears: there was no room for a third force in Europe anymore--not, at least, in countries where the Communists were strong. In France, rife with rumors of a coup of its own and convulsed by increasingly violent strikes, he found a populace growing more jittery by the day. Malraux talked darkly of a plot to foment civil war and publicly threatened "a reorganization of the Resistance" to oppose communism. Charles "Chip" Bohlen, the new American ambassador, talked wildly about dropping an atom bomb on Baku, and newspapers were full of the threat of a new world conflict." (Page 311.) Koestler, when he left Europe for the United States, actually believed that Europe was going to go communist. That Europe was a lost cause.

This is not to say that I am disagreement with what you are saying overall. I find Andrew Buchanan someone new and interesting. Very provocative. Perhaps he overreaches. Don't know enough, really, to make the call. Thank you for the introduction to him. Hobcaw Barony is now a large natural preserve for environmental, oceanographic and coastal studies. Remarkable story about how the foundation was created, mostly by Baruch's daughter, who must have worked a lifetime on it. Sixteen thousand acres on a neck of land that has the Atlantic ocean on one side and marshes and Winyah Bay on the other. It's worth a visit.

ted richard , 13 May 2019 at 01:37 PM
if the true goal of the neocons is war, provoked upon iran then any naval battle group which includes a usa carrier sent into the persian gulf is the match the neocons are looking for once they decide to ''remember the maine'' to it sending it to the bottom, then use that false flag as their pretext.

if its obvious to me wouldn't you suppose its obvious to the pentagon?

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:39 PM
An apt comparison, no doubt, to "The Day of Deceit."

Then there is the high probability that, even if Iran shows restraint and plays the long game, a provocation in the manner of "Assad gasses his own people" will be arranged for them.

Even so, time is not on the side of the US Entity. How much longer can the Fed's fraudulent T-bill scheme keep running? My sense is that they wouldn't be weaponizing the dollar if they had other actual weapons to hand.

Jack , 13 May 2019 at 01:58 PM
Sir

What real choices do the Iranians have? It would be foolish on their part to launch any kind of military action.

LA Sox Fan -> Jack... , 19 July 2019 at 06:43 PM
While some may think military action from Iran is foolish, a slow death from sanctions isn't going to be something Iran chooses either.
catherine , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM

No sooner 'warned' then done. Who did it?

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.
The reports come as the US warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as the US is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to counter what it called "threats from Tehran".

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/saudi-oil-tankers-sabotaged-ships-uae-coast-190513055332524.html

ancientarcher , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM
Exceptionally good argument. I would also posit that the element of religious belief makes the argument even more potent.
I can't help but think back to more recent instances where the neocons were basically daring the other party to do something - anything. Ukraine in 2014 and Syria later on, come to mind. They had been waiting for the Russians to send in their troops to Ukraine after which they could have totally choked the economy. They also waited for mistakes from Assad, which he wisely avoided.
Similarly, Iran will be wise to avoid reacting in any way to these provocations. Since these provocations are meant to provoke a reaction, if the Iranians bite their lips and hold their hands, they would do more to hurt the neocons than by reacting blindly as the situation and their nature perhaps goads them towards.
D , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
I humbly suggest you watch this series. Unfortunately, I don't know Persian so I can't help with translation. I watched these series with my sister in law who is a Persian Jew with an excellent command of Farsi; the videos are pretty informative.

https://youtu.be/LUHY17zF-9g?t=789

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LersWbaymTM
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUHY17zF-9g
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abODp1BeuAg
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePDXnAe_zm4
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNboW6WcC3U

Rocketrepreneur , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
Pat,
I share your concern, but for the neocons I fear that they see that backing Iran into a position where it has nothing to lose with a war is a feature, not a bug.
~Jon
walrus , 13 May 2019 at 03:43 PM
Time is not on America's side

In my opinion, the critical element is the forthcoming deployment of advanced Russian and Chinese systems such as the Sarmat heavy ICBM, scheduled I think for 2021, new submarines, etc., etc. and I am not even talking about joint Russo/sino developments.

As Col. Lang/Gingrich explained, we are talking economics here. But unlike Japan, the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Chinese and associated economies under the stimulus of OBOR are only going to get stronger if left to themselves. The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities, fielding a million man Army and supporting allies like Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Poland, etc. without beggaring its population.

To put that another way, the American economic marvel of military production came off a low base with millions of underemployed work hungry people available as a result of the depression. I don't think those conditions obtain today.

Hence the Washington logic of picking off the weakest of the Axis - Iran, right now.

Fred -> walrus ... , 13 May 2019 at 07:51 PM
You mean a million H1B visa holders and 20 million illegal immigrants aren't our strength? Who knew! Maybe we should outsource more manufacturing to China, that'll teach the bastards to mess with us!
ISL said in reply to walrus ... , 19 July 2019 at 07:46 PM
Good points, I would correct:

The "American Political class," rather than the US economy - solutions are available and affordable, but not within the current US political and economic and legal and hence power structures.

FIRE take up too much of the US economy and the best and brightest and has bought the political class hook, line and Epstein.

LJ , 13 May 2019 at 04:09 PM
The chances of war diminished?

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/05/13/from-karbala-to-al-fujairah-an-act-of-sabotage-may-end-prospects-of-a-summer-war-in-the-middle-east/

Eliot said in reply to LJ... , 13 May 2019 at 08:14 PM
LJ

"the chances of war..."

Those damn fools.

This makes war more likely.

- Eliot

Eliot , 13 May 2019 at 04:30 PM
Walrus,

"The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities"

I was in Russia for the first time last summer. I loved it, but I was surprised by how poor they are. Our debt load aside, they have do have more limited resources.

Sylvia 1 said in reply to Eliot ... , 14 May 2019 at 10:35 AM
I would love to know more about what you mean about Russian poverty. I was there last September and will return again. I would not say the same.
rho , 13 May 2019 at 04:48 PM
I think the key difference is that Japan was isolated on its continent when it made the decision to go to war. (only being allied with Nazi Germany and Italy, which were so far away that the alliance made little difference to Japan's economic situation in 1941)

Going to war must appear more attractive when you have your back against the wall than when you have regional allies who are still willing to support you politically and economically in a meaningful way.

E Publius , 13 May 2019 at 05:17 PM
I have to admit Colonel that this post reminded me of an April 29th profile in the New Yorker of John Bolton. Several days ago after reading the lengthy New Yorker piece I realized how slowly but surely, the Trump admin has been consistently heading toward outright madness with the gradual departure of people like Tillerson, J. Kelly, and Mattis from the office. It was mentioned in the piece how Gen. Mattis thwarted multiple outright crazy attempts by McMaster (who is now at FDD shilling for the "Long War" strategy; once a neocon, always a neocon), Bolton and Mira Ricardel aimed at declaring war against Iran. Now that there are a few key vacant positions in the administration such as the UN Ambs, Homeland Sec, a few at the State Dep, and most importantly at the Pentagon, shouldn't these vacancies act as major restraining factor against war or the Trump admin "is" stupid enough to go full war mode regardless? IMO some things still just do not add up. just wondering...
Christian J Chuba , 13 May 2019 at 07:06 PM
Just curious about something. I hear news stories that we are sending the Lincoln inside the Persian Gulf. That seems like it would negate a lot of our advantage if we actually did fight Iran. It would be in range of every anti-ship missile they have as well as most of their navy which is designed specifically for the Gulf and not much of a blue water navy. Why wouldn't we keep it just outside the Gulf in the open water where our carrier and escorts would seemingly have a bigger advantage?

I don't want a fight and I'm not pretending that I understand naval tactics, but this just seems a bit odd to me.

VietnamVet , 14 May 2019 at 01:16 AM
Colonel,

The damage was above the water line and a slash as if perhaps a missile but did not penetrate the oil bunkers. It does not look like a limpet mine. There are no reports of airplanes or ships but is described as sabotage. It is unlikely to be a false flag. Media reporting has been muted. Simply that it is being investigated. But as pointed out here before there is no stockpiling of supplies needed for an invasion of Iran by a million-man army. Inside the Persian Gulf is the last place the Commander of the Carrier Group wants to be if war breaks out. My guess is that the sabotage to four tankers was a signal of what the Revolutionary Guards could do if they really wanted to and as a counter to ultra-mad man U.S. diplomacy and sanctions. Lloyd's of London must raise their insurance rates. This will raise oil prices at the same time as prices rise due to Mid-West flooding, China's African Swine Fever outbreak, and the imposing of a 25% tariff on Chinese imports. All sorts of bad things are happening at once. Rather than 2003's misleading Shock and Awe propaganda, the 2019 Iranian war drums indicate total incompetence.

Eric Newhill , 14 May 2019 at 09:25 AM
The Imperial Japanese believed that Americans were soft and that US troops would crumble when faced with the mighty spirit of Bushido. They were ultimately banking on that mistaken conclusion. I don't think the Iranians have any such delusions.

I don't see how Iran can do anything more than make some trouble that is minor in the big scheme of things - and which will dig their hole deeper - and then lose.

I don't approve of what is being done, but I think the current Iranian regime could be destroyed if the neocons have their way; albeit with US casualties and great material and financial expense. I don't like how US troops and sailors may be used as bait by the neocons.

Eric Newhill said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 14 May 2019 at 10:12 AM
I should add that to my mind the real question is what would follow in the wake of war. Would the Iranians be happy to be free of the Islamic Revolutionary govt? Or would they go on for generations with wounded pride that demands revenge, like the Palestinians? I think the latter. In which case war/regime change solves nothing. I'm willing to bet the neocons, as usual, have their own delusions about flowers, candy, purple thumbs, smiling faces and freedom.
John Minehan said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 19 July 2019 at 08:26 PM
They had a front row seat for OIF and what came after. I suspect they have a good feeling for our capability and weaknesses . . . whether they can exploit that or not, might be the issue.
turcopolier , 14 May 2019 at 10:03 AM
Eric Newhill - IMO you are underestimating how much damage Iran could do to the fleet in a transition to war situation before the US Navy got its ducks in line and crushed them. As for the illusion about US willingness to fight, all our opponents have believed the same thing before the house fell on them.
Eric Newhill said in reply to turcopolier ... , 14 May 2019 at 10:17 AM
Sir,
Oh, I understand what Iran could do. As you know, it has been war gamed and the US Navy gets hit pretty hard.

But Iran still loses. Each hit the US Navy takes, strengthens the resolve to crush Iran that much harder.

Again, I am in no way approving of what I think may happen. I have been told by someone I know well in the DIA that we are doing to war with Iran sooner or later. The first time I was told this was when Obama was still in office. Then I was told that the election of Trump has changed nothing. Make what you will of that.

blue peacock said in reply to turcopolier ... , 20 July 2019 at 01:58 AM
Col. Lang

"in a transition to war situation before the US Navy got its ducks in line and crushed them" what damage could Iranian ballistic missiles do to UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia? Could they devastate oil & gas, LNG, port and pipeline infrastructure sufficiently that it would take a year to re-build back to full capacity?

It seems it would be a lose-lose proposition for everyone including Trump's re-election prospects. I have seen private surveys of working class people in the mid-west and the south who by an overwhelming majority oppose a war with Iran when informed about some of the potential consequences.

turcopolier , 14 May 2019 at 11:12 AM
Eric Newhill

People in the information parts of the USIC do not know what the US government may do, but they all have opinions.

turcopolier , 14 May 2019 at 11:13 AM
Eric Newhill

We won the Pacific War as well but if you were entombed alive in the bowels of USS Arizona that did nit mean much to you.

Eric Newhill , 19 July 2019 at 05:26 PM
Well, Sir, unfortunately I think you called this one spot on.

IMO, if there's going to be war, then the Europeans and Brits should fight it. Their the ones most impacted (though I recognize that everyone in the global markets will feel the pain resulting from a closure of the straight).

Of course none of them will step up on their own and the US will have to do this. Still holding out hope that some kind of negotiation is possible, but becoming skeptical. The Iranians want to prove they are the men they thought they were. Still, maybe a good deal will satisfy that need.

LA Sox Fan -> Eric Newhill... , 19 July 2019 at 06:58 PM
The Bolton/neoconservative plan of starting a war with Iran is working perfectly. In a tit for tat action, Iran has captured one or more U.K. tankers. My hopes for avoiding a completely unnecessary war with Iran, one we have a fair chance of losing, are becoming slimmer and slimmer.
Walrus said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 19 July 2019 at 10:34 PM
Eric, I'm in Europe right now and I don't think any Europeans are prepared in the slightest to support a war with Iran. For starters, if Iran did not surrender instantaneously, an oil shortage will collapse the European and Chinese economies and that is only one of the minor, first order effects.

The question of "not being the men they thought they were" cuts both ways. Does the European union want to see war with Iran? No. Do the Europeans want to see Britain, egged on by the Neocons, take "a hard line" with Iran? No. Do the Europeans want to aid and abet the U. S. in fighting a war with Iran through NATO? No. Do they want to be "saved from Iran " by the U.S. galloping all over hemisphere as in 1944? No.

So do you really want to see NATO and American relationships with Europe, Russia and China, India and the rest of the world put under severe stress in a @#@# waving contest between Trump and the Mullahs? At the behest of Israel? Because that is what you are going to get.

Then there is the prospect of the Chinese and Russians retaliating, and I don't even want to go there.

The Mullahs have ruined the weekend for the leaders of each and every major nation. What will be happening this weekend in every capital is a series of committee meetings asking the same questions; What should our response to Iran be? What should our response to possible American action be? What is the likely effect of war with Iran on our energy supplies? What is the likely effect of war with Iran on our own security? What is the likely effect of war with Iran on our economy? Public servants will be working late into the night to answer these questions. The only thing for sure is that the price of gold is going to skyrocket when markets open and that a lot of troops are going to get warning orders about notice to move monday morning.

This is the same type of situation that started WW1. ....... So we decide to give those pesky Iranian Mullahs a good whupping because they had it coming. Should be easy, after all they are just more sand niggers, right? All of a sudden Russia drops an air defence regiment into Tehran, We lose aircraft. China let's North Korea off the leash and at the same time issues an ultimatum to Taiwan. Suddenly we are taking losses, have three war theatres going at the same time. What happens then?

I suppose you think nothing is going to affect the continental U.S., so who cares?


Charles Michael -> Eric Newhill... , 20 July 2019 at 08:19 AM
Eric newhill,

There I must disagree:
Nethanyaou is again in election campaign same goes for President Trump; IMHO no war for the newt 6 months and probably never.

A deal is possible ? maybe
but it should encompass the Syrian issue from where all this Iranian crisis is actually born-again.
For example Iran could agree to withdraw its troops from Syria if USA and partners did the same as Trump was considering.
This move would surely have some effect on the YPG position, thus on Turkey's activism along its frontier with Syria (Afrin being not included).


Entering in negociations for a JCPOA bis will not be acceptable for Iran if sanctions (some at least) are not lifted. My educated guess is that is precisely what's going on.

turcopolier , 19 July 2019 at 05:43 PM
JM

IMO the Houthis, the Hizbullah and Hamas are not proxies of Iran. They are allies.

John Minehan said in reply to turcopolier ... , 19 July 2019 at 08:19 PM
Much better choice of words than mine. Thus they are a significant wild card here, I would guess.
Harlan Easley , 19 July 2019 at 06:10 PM
When I read the Iranians captured a British Oil tanker it immediately reminded me of this article.
GeneO , 19 July 2019 at 06:18 PM
pl -

I was hoping yesterdays Zarif/Rand Paul discussion would lead to a ratcheting down of tensions. But the hardliners on both sides would hate to have that happen and will attempt to wreck any détente.

Did Zarif offer the idea of allowing more intrusive inspections of its nuclear program before or after his meeting with Paul? In any case some unnamed US officials said it was a non-starter. Probably the unnamed ones were the Mousetache-of-Idiocy and his minions?

Never should have cancelled JCPOA. Why should we have to do Israel/KSA/UAE's dirty work?

Timothy Hagios , 19 July 2019 at 07:50 PM
One recalls the immortal words of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "Absolutely no one could have predicted this."
ambrit , 19 July 2019 at 11:12 PM
Sir;
Isn't the "wild card" here the Israelis?
I can imagine an Iranian government, or perhaps the IRGC in a 'bitter ender' phase targeting Israel proper before they collapse. As the fate of Gerald Ball indicates, the Israelis are understandably paranoid about their regional competitors.
Christian Chuba , 19 July 2019 at 11:34 PM
Iranian grain ships stuck in Brazil due to U.S. sanctions
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-brazil-iran-sanctions/iran-grain-ships-stuck-in-brazil-without-fuel-due-to-u-s-sanctions-idUKKCN1UD2QM

We are now engaging in cartoon villainy in terms of trying to squeeze Iran into a tiny box. Iran cannot transact in dollars so they are reduced to bartering with Brazil for corn. Oops, even their urea export is sanctioned but that doesn't matter because we won't let Brazil sell them fuel oil to ship corn back to their home port. This is flat out evil.

Jim Ticehurst , 20 July 2019 at 12:04 AM
I wondering if the former Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejah ...2005 to 2013 and His "Apocalyptic Shiites" were put in the background...with disinformation about His falling out of Favor....So Iran could play strategic games with the P5+1 agreement IN 2015 especially with President Obama..
SysATI , 20 July 2019 at 12:06 AM
Eric Newhill

"But Iran still loses. Each hit the US Navy takes, strengthens the resolve to crush Iran that much harder."

Cm'on man... wake up and open your eyes...

The US hasn't won any war since... Eternity...
Do I have to remind you what happens in Afghanistan, in Irak or more recently in Syria ?

Well Iran is FIVE times bigger than Syria and is not a divided multicultural/multi-religious country. Do you think that anything you do could change the fact that those 80 something millions people will survive and will ALL be behind their leaders whoever he might be ?

If I was Iranian and even if the leader of the country was Adolf Hitler or some fanatic religious Abu Satanist al Muslim, I would still be behind him if my country was attacked by some foreign bully. My guess is that 99% of the Iranians think the same way....

Forget about allies like Hamas, Hezbollah or Houtis or even China and Russia.
Iran exists since 7000 BC and you really think that the new kid in the block with a couple hundred years of existence would be able to take it out ?
Given your history of military victories ???!!! Don't make me laugh...

Even if you naively believe that, do you think about the consequences of such a war ? Not on Iran, OK, you might level part of the country, but then what ?

Israel would most probably cease to exist. But so as the middle eastern Arab monarchies and most the world's oil industry, which we all depend on...

Which means that the whole planet will suffer for years to come...

If I can't feed my kids because my country can't get enough oil thanks to some nutcase in WDC guess how I'll feel about the US ?

Most of the world already hate you for a reason. If you want to be not just hated but treated like enemies where ever you go, go ahead, bomb Iran, start a war, have the whole world crumble...

And for what ???
Just "because you can" is not a valid answer...

"IMO, if there's going to be war, then the Europeans and Brits should fight it... Of course none of them will step up on their own and the US will have to do this."

Will HAVE TO do this ???!!!

Who the hell is forcing you not to mind your own business ?

Has Iran attacked the US ? Or Britain ? Or Europe ?
Or anyone else in the past several hundreds of years ?
No...


But.... Does the US oil industry would like the oil prices to go up ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in DC want to make more money by selling more weapons ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in Wahabistan hate the Shias and want to get rid of them ? YES !!!
Do the crazies in Israel want to get rid of a powerful neighbor ? YES !!!
Do even some crazies in the US want Israel to go in flames so that Jesus comes back ?

Unfortunately yes...

turcopolier , 20 July 2019 at 11:29 AM
Charles Michael
You are not correct. The Israelis have a deep psychopatholgy about Iranian ballistic missiles and a possible nuclear weapon that might - might exist someday. That has nothing to do with Syria.
David Habakkuk , 20 July 2019 at 01:29 PM
All,

I think the comment by 'Elliot' back in May reflects assumptions which are very deep-seated in the West, are questionable, and if wrong, could prove extraordinarily dangerous. So an extended response seems appropriate.

Of course the Russians have far more limited resources than the United States. What is important is to understand the implications of that fact for their strategic thinking.

On this I would strongly recommend two pieces at the top of the 'Russia' page on the 'World Hot Spots' section of the 'Army Military Press' site.

(See https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Special-Topics/World-Hot-Spots/Russia/ )

The first is a translation of a 2017 article from the journal of the 'Academy of Military Science', entitled 'Color Revolutions in Russia', by A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov.

Among other things, this illustrates very well the rather central fact that Russian military strategists are very well aware that one of the things that wrecked the Soviet Union was the attempt to maintain permanent preparedness for a prolonged global war with a power possessing an enormously greater military-industrial potential.

As to the implications for contingency planning for war, these are spelt out in a piece, also published in 207, by the invaluable Major Charles K. Bartles of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, entitled 'Recommendations for Intelligence Staffs Concerning Russian New Generation Warfare.'

At the risk of glossing his meaning overmuch, what is involved is a kind of 'higher synthesis' of the ideas of two figures who were on opposing sides of the arguments of the 'Twenties of the last century, Georgiy Isserson, the pioneering theorist of 'deep operations', and Aleksandr Svechin, who cautioned against an exclusive focus of the 'Napoleonic' strand in Clausewitz.

Both are quoted by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General Valery Gerasimov, in his crucial and much misunderstood address to the Academy of Military Science in February 2013, reproduced on the same page as the articles to which I have referred.

What Svechin was saying, in essence, was that an attentive reader of Clausewitz would realise that 'toujours la'audace' should be replaced as a motto by 'l'audace at the right place and time'.

It was crucial to be able to judge when an offensive approach was absolutely the right choice, and caution suicidal, and when the promise of a decisive victory was a snare and a delusion, and defensive and attritional responses appropriate.

(This argument crops up in many contexts: the 'Tabouleh Line' strategy adopted by Hizbullah, which Colonel Lang discussed in posts during and following the 2006 Lebanon War, and also that advocated by James Longstreet at Gettysburg, are classic examples of what Svechin would have seen as circumstances where a sound 'defensive' strategy was the key to victory.)

As regards contemporary Russian thinking, an implication is that one of things they have been trying to create is the ability, in appropriate situations, to use characteristics of 'deep operations' – surprise, speed, shock – in support of clearly limited objectives.

The kind of possibility involved was alluded to in the conversation between the 'Security Adviser' and the 'American Soldier' – seemingly involved on the ground in the 'deconfliction' process – which accompanied Seymour Hersh's June 2017 article in 'Die Welt' on the Khan Sheikhoun sarin incident the previous April, and the U.S. air strikes that resulted.

(See https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905618/We-got-a-fuckin-problem.html )

A key exchange:

'SA: There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran. What the people around Trump do not understand is that the Russians are not a paper tiger and that they have more robust military capability than we do.

'AS: I don't know what the Russians are going to do. They might hang back and let the Syrians defend their own borders, or they might provide some sort of tepid support, or they might blow us the fuck out of the airspace and back into Iraq. I honestly don't know what to expect right now. I feel like anything is possible. The russian air defense system is capable of taking out our TLAMs. this is a big fucking deal...we are still all systems go...'

And that brings one to another critical strand in the approach of contemporary Russian strategic thinkers.

Not simply for war-fighting, but, critically, for 'deterring' the United States from escalating if the Russians do successfully achieve limited objectives, they have been concentrating on 'asymetric' involving focused investment in specific technologies.

So, Bartles explains that the Russian Ground Forces are 'significantly ahead' of the U.S. Army in electronic warfare, key objectives being to disrupt the demonstrated American capability for precision strikes, and also exploit the latent vulnerabilities involved in the dependence of so much equipment on GPS. (As an Army man, he does not discuss the interesting question of naval and air applications.)

And crucially, there has been a focus on developing a very wide range of missiles which 'missile defence' technologies are not going to be able to counter effectively in any forseeable future, and which have steadily increasing range, accuracy and lethality. One central purpose of this, which Gerasimov has spelt out in later addresses to the Academy of Military Science, also available on the page to which I have linked, is to provide non-nuclear 'deterrence' options.

It is, of course, always difficult to be clear as to what is, or is not, hype in claims made for new weapons systems. That said, it is I think at least worth reading some contributions by the Brussels-based American analyst Gilbert Doctorow.

In February, he produced a piece entitled 'The INF Treaty is dead: will the arms race be won this time by the most agile or by the biggest wallet?', and another, headlined 'The Kremlin's Military Posture Re-considered: strategic military parity with the U.S. or absolute military superiority over the U.S.'

(See https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2019/02/05/the-inf-treaty-is-dead-will-the-arms-race-be-won-this-time-by-the-most-agile-or-by-the-biggest-wallet/ ; https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2019/02/24/the-kremlins-military-posture-re-considered-strategic-military-parity-with-the-u-s-or-absolute-military-superiority-over-the-u-s/ .)

Certainly, a good many assertions Doctorow made merit being taken with a pinch of salt, if not a great deal more. However, before one empties the full salt-cellar over them, a few observations are worth making.

How much salt should be applied to Shoigu's assertion that the cost of the systems being developed is hundreds of times less than that of the systems being developed by the United States against Russia I cannot say.

Some questions are however worth putting. It would be interesting to be clearer than I am as to how relevant, or irrelevant, is the fact that for a long time now Russian universities have, frankly, wiped the floor with their Western counterparts in international programming competitions is one.

Another relevant range of issues relates to how expensive the 'software' component of the relevant weaponry actually produced, once it is developed. A third relates to that of how far the new missiles, with their greater range, can be effectively deployed, either by updating old platforms – like Soviet-era bombers – or by creating relatively low cost-ones.

And then of course one comes to the question of how the technical military issues interact with the 'geopolitics' involved. In recent years, a range of different Russian analysts have been claiming, in essence, that the 'Petrine' era of Russian history is over. Three examples, from Dmitri Trenin, Sergei Karaganov, and Vladislav Surkov, can be found at

https://carnegie.ru/2016/12/25/russia-s-post-soviet-journey-pub-66569 ; https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/pubcol/We-Have-Used-Up-the-European-Treasure-Trove-19769 ; https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/book/The-Loneliness-of-the-Half-Breed-19575 .

If, as Trenin argued back in 2016, Russia has moved from aspiring to become part of a 'Greater Europe' to seeing itself as a central part of a 'Greater Eurasia', then this has implications for how it should react to the asymetry which was central to Soviet views of INF in the 'Eighties.'

Put simply, INF in Europe can pose a 'decapitation' threat to Russia, while Russian INF do not do so to the United States.

At that time, the deployment of cruise and Pershing II helped to encourage a burgeoning awareness among important sections of the 'security intelligentsia' in Moscow of the extent to which their own security policies – of which the SS-20 deployment was just one of many examples – had created suspicion, fear and antagonism.

The conclusion – classically expressed in Georgiy Arbatov's joke about the terrible thing that Gorbachev was going to do to the United States, deprive it of an enemy – turned out hopelessly naive. The liquidation of the existing Soviet security posture did not lead to any lesssening of Western antagonism.

In his second piece, Doctorow has an interesting discussion of views expressed by Yakov Kedmi, the sometime 'refusenik' who became a pivotal figure in organising Russian Jewish emigration to Israel, and is now a regular guest on Russian television. And he writes:

'Perhaps Kedmi's most interesting and relevant observation is on the novelty of the Russian response to the whole challenge of American encirclement. He noted that for the past 200 or more years the United States considered itself secure from enemies given the protection of the oceans. However, in the new Russian military threat, the oceans will now become the most vulnerable point in American defenses, from which the decapitating strike can come.'

Putting the point another way. Potentially at least, the 'Greater Eurasia' as Trenin describes it includes the Western European countries – indeed, it appears to include Ireland. It is, obviously, enormously in the interest of the Russians to include these, in that doing so both makes it possible to isolate the 'Anglo-Saxons', and also to provide a counterweight to Chinese preponderance.

To do so however – and at this point I am moving towards my own speculations, rather than simply relying upon better-informed observers – requires a complicated balancing act.

On the one hand, the West Europeans – above all the Germans – have to be persuaded that if they persist in following with the 'Russia delenda est' agendas of traditional 'Anglo' Russophobes, and 'revanchists' from the 'borderlands', they should not think this is going to be cost-free.

But on the other, the promise has to be implied that, if they 'see sense' and realise that their future is with a 'Greater Eurasia', without their needing to 'remilitarise' in any serious way, then they will not be threatened militarily.

This balancing act, ironically, makes it absolutely imperative for the Russians not to threaten the Baltics – particularly given their historical links to Germany.

By the same token, it provides a particularly cogent reason for threatening to respond to new American IMF deployments in Europe with ones that target the United States.

[Jul 20, 2019] The UK's Dubious Role in the New Tanker War With Iran naked capitalism

Jul 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F07%2Fthe-uks-dubious-role-in-the-new-tanker-war-with-iran.html

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Iran has also said that it will not only follow graded response to the sanctions, including possible exiting from the JCPOA, but also reconsider its participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a thinly veiled threat to follow in North Korea's footsteps. It is clear that Iran will fight the status quo arising out of Trump's maximum pressure policies in various ways, and not allow itself to be economically strangulated.

The UK's position has now become very dubious. Why did it seize Iran's supertanker Grace 1 in the Gibraltarwaters? Four of Grace 1 's officers, including the ship's captain, all Indians, have been charged in a Gibraltar court and are now out on bail.

In a new twist on this issue, we now know that Gibraltar changed its law underpinning the seizure just one day before it occurred . This adds weight to reports in Spain quoting government sources that the UK carried out the seizing of the tanker under U.S.instructions.

The argument that Grace 1 was carrying crude oil to Syria's Baniyas refinery, and so was violating European sanctions on Syria, sounds weak on various counts.The Gibraltar court's order mentions EU Regulation 36/2012 on sanctions on Syria as the basis for action against Grace 1 . Oil exports from Syria to the EU have been banned, but not oil imports to Syria under EU regulations. Also, imports to the Baniyas refinery are banned for machinery and equipment , not oil.

More important: In international trade, do countries through which transit takes place have the right to impose their laws on the merchandise in transit? For example, can pharmaceutical products from India, which arein consonance with Indian and the receiving country's laws, be seized in transit in Europe if they violate the EU's patent laws? Such seizures have happened , creating a trade dispute between India and the EU. The EU finally agreed not to seize such goods in transit. So can the EU extend its sanctions to goods in transit through its waters? Assuming the crude was indeed for Syria -- which Iran has denied -- do EU sanctions apply when transiting through Gibraltar waters? In short, was the UK imposing EU sanctions on Syria -- or U.S.sanctions on Iran?

There has also been another incident involving Iran and the UK in the developing Tanker War 2. This makes the UK's role even more suspect. Iran has denied the UK's story of its empty tanker Heritage being blocked by Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf. The U.S., which first broke the story, claimed it was five Iranian boats that tried to seize a British tanker. The UK authorities claimed that it was three Iranian boats that were impeding the tanker's journey, which were driven off by a British warship. The Iranians deny that any such incident took place. No video or satellite image of the incident has been made public, though a U.S.aircraft reportedly took video footage of the incident. In his Twitter feed, BBC's Defense Correspondent Jonathan Beale condemned the failure of the British government to release images of the incident: "UK MOD say they will NOT be releasing any imagery from incident in Gulf when @HMS_MONTROSE confronted #Iran IRGC boats. Shame as far as I'm concerned."

What remains unexplained is why the empty UK tanker switched off its transponder before the alleged incident for about 24 hours, particularly in the period when it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz -- or why an empty tanker was accompanied by a British warship. Was the UK baiting Iran by manufacturing a maritime incident in the Gulf?

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said on Twitter that after a phone call with Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, he offered to release the tanker Grace 1 on the condition that it will not send the oil to Syria. This still begs the question of the UK's locus in deciding the destination of Iranian oil -- or why Iran should accept EU sanctions.

[Jul 18, 2019] The more "effective" the sanctions, the closer to war

Jul 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

elkern , Jul 17 2019 16:08 utc | 31

Trailer Trash is exactly right about brittle supply chains. To "maximize Shareholder value" (the Prime Directive from Wall Street), corporations are maximizing (not optimizing) efficiency, at the expense of long-term priorities.

Summer Diaz is sorta right about what I might describe as US cultural/political obesity, but I don't look forward to living here after the shit hits the fan. There are lotsa crazy bastards with guns. We'll see real race war, starvation, all 4 Horsemen.

Re questions about Israel's fate in Marandi's scenario: I think it's smart that he/they don't talk about retaliation against Israel. Everybody knows that Iran has the ability to really hurt Israel (sans Nukes, they probably can't obliterate it); but this threat is much better left unsaid, just hanging in the air. Threatening Israel would be bad PR, decreasing chances that EU, Russia, & China can talk the US back from the brink of WWIII. And making sure Israel knows they're in danger - without bragging about it - gets (non-crazy) Zionists in USA to help prevent all-out war!

It's OK for Iran to talk about the threat to KSA, UAE, etc, because everybody hates them anyway, and cutting off the world's energy supply is their Doomsday Bomb. They need to remind the world that if the US attacks Iran, everybody loses.


karlof1 , Jul 17 2019 16:23 utc | 32

Three main antagonists have aimed at post-revolution Iran: The Outlaw US Empire, Occupied Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, the latter being the most recent and vulnerable, while the first two have already waged varying degrees of war with the Empire's Economic War having existed for 40+ years. The Levant's former Colonial powers--Turkey, France, UK--are feeble, and in Turkey's case is allied with Iran while being spurned by NATO and EU. Lurking in the background are Russia and China's designs for Eurasian Integration which only the Outlaw US Empire seeks to prevent as such integration benefits Saudi Arabia, Occupied Palestine, France and UK. Thus the only entity that might benefit from non-hybrid war with Iran is the Outlaw US Empire--Occupied Palestine's interests actually lie with becoming part of an Integrated Eurasia not in trying to impede it. And the same goes for the other nations occupying the Arabian Peninsula--but they all need to come to their senses by deeply examining their actual long term interests as Qatar seems to have done in its rapprochement with Iran.

But, just how would a non-hybrid conflict with Iran benefit the Outlaw US Empire if it consumes its regional allies? Would it bring more riches or create greater debt atop the human cost? Most analysts have pointed to the Empire's vulnerability upon the trashing of the current global economic structure. Indeed, the only visible benefit might accrue from slowing Eurasian Integration. Then there's the highly negative result to the Empire's global credibility which is already scrapping rock bottom and the likely end of Dollar Hegemony and the Free Lunch it's lived on for the past 70+ years. But what about the fulfillment of the Christian Rapture Myth? Sorry, but there should be no need to answer that fantastical, magical, thinking. Not a very good balance sheet is it as liabilities seem to vastly outweigh assets. Unfortunately, such logic is ignored by ideologues drunk on magical thinking. And these results don't take into consideration an escalation into global nuclear conflict that's in nobody's interest.

But as noted, Trump's up a tree and keeps climbing higher onto ever thinner, more precarious branches. Iran offered him a chance to climb down if he removes illegal sanctions and returns to JCPOA, which Pompeo promptly replied to with a lie that Iran would negotiate on its ballistic missiles, thus giving the overall goal away.

So, Trump can't/won't climb down and non-hybrid conflict would do great damage to Outlaw US Empire interests, which is where we were at July's beginning.

goldhoarder , Jul 17 2019 16:41 utc | 33
Iran will respond to a limited military strike with a massive and disproportionate counterstrike targeting both the aggressor and its enablers.
Which will be the green light for an even more violent & disproportionate counterstrike on Iran. Make no mistake - there are plenty of gung-ho Washington & Tel Aviv power brokers who want to trash Iran. And they will do it, given the chance. The above scenario is precisely what the war gods are hoping for.

I don't know about that. The US and Israel would really be opening up a can of worms. Any over reaction by the USA and Israel gives Russia, India, and China a precedent to follow. China might it easy to settle their difficulties with Taiwan. Kiev might go up in a mushroom cloud. The USA isn't the only country in the world with problems. If they don't play by the rules it just leads to more rule breakers.

arata , Jul 17 2019 16:47 utc | 34
An Alternate Scenario
There is a saying in Persian language called "Namad Maali" translates as "feltman massag", it means slow killing.
This proverb is very often used in contemporary Persian language but most of the people do not know the actual origin of the proverb.
There is an interesting legend behind it. Holagu Khan, a Mongol ruler, the grandson of Chengiz Khan conquered Baghdad on year 1258, and captured the Caliph Al-Mo'tasam, the last Caliph of Abbasid dynasty. Holagu decided to execute the Caliph and finish the 500 years Muslim caliphate.
Many statesmen begged him to hold on. They told him that the caliph is legitimate successor of prophet Mohammad. Caliphate is the pillar of the world, if you remove this pillar there will be sun eclipse, thunder storm and total darkness. Holagu, with his shamanistic believes fearing sky revenge was yielding, but he consulted his prime minister a Persian mullah, Nasir al-Din Tusi. Nasir told him do not worry, these are total nonsense, all of our great Shai twelve imams were direct descendants of prophet Mohammad, they were inherently innocent, while Abbasid are not direct descendants of prophet. See that our imams, eleven out of twelve, were martyred, there was no sun eclipse, no thunder storm, no darkness of the world.
Holagu was bold enough to carry out the execution. Other statesmen brought forward a group of astrologists who searched through their horoscopes and studied signs of stars and concluded that all the signs are catastrophic, if a drop of caliph's blood drops on earth, there will be a devastating thunder storm, rain of bloods pours down from sky and end of world ...
Holagu consulted Nasi again. Nasir being a great humorist, told him not worry, we can devise a pretty easy solution for your peace of mind, send the caliph to hot bath of feltman workshop, order to be wrapped in felt, they will give him a hot water bath with soap, they will roll him slowly over and over, as they are crafting a felt, his life will be ended peacefully in massage, without a drop of blood, meanwhile I will assign one of my intelligent apprentice who is familiar with sky ways ( Nasir was a great mathematician and Astronomer, he founded a famous observatory, he was inventor of trigonometry), to sit on the roof top of the feltman workshop, he will monitor any changes on sky if there is a minor change, he will signal to the feltman to release the caliph.
President Vladimir Khan has been giving warnings to Ayatollah do not burn JCPOA, do not close Strait of Hurmoz. Ayatollah is telling him do not worry we are giving a feltman massage. Just tell Xi khan do not lean his back against the wall street pillar, clean up your hands from future fund casino, the pillars are collapsing slowly.



jason , Jul 17 2019 17:13 utc | 35
the US and its allies are bluffing. don't get caught up in wars and rumors of it. the only way it was going to happen was if syria and iraq fell and both of them didn't.

when it didn't. they resort back to the usual MO, look busy.

OutOfThinAir , Jul 17 2019 17:31 utc | 36
A reminder from Iran that they can hit back.

Hopefully folks who can influence power have been reading the Guns of August.

Possible miscalculations are everywhere and the parties are no strangers to false flags and proxy actors.

So I'm crossing my fingers for strong back channel communications.

I'm not expecting outright major war. Perhaps a skirmish or two, but a negotiated deal is still the most likely outcome.

c1ue , Jul 17 2019 17:56 utc | 37
@C I eh? #14
I don't see China as the same situation as Russia.
The Russians who have largely supported Putin despite economic ill-effects from sanctions are, at best, 1 generation removed from 1991-1996 post-Soviet collapse privation. They remember the bad times and how to get through them.
The mainland Chinese today are 2 generation removed from the famines in the 50s and 60s, and furthermore there is a largely generational break due to the Cultural Revolution.
I don't see China collapsing, but I also don't see the mainstream population taking a oil-starvation induced economic collapse well at all, because the deal is social repression if the economy and standards of living continue to improve.
The difference is French cheese and EU fruits and vegetables - luxury goods vs. oil = energy = everything.
Uncle Jon , Jul 17 2019 17:57 utc | 38
There seems to be misconception about Kuwait, in particular.

Kuwaitis are fed up with the Saudis and are more Iranophile than anything. They see who is a true regional power.

Recently, I happen to be invited to a diplomatic function, welcoming a new Kuwaiti ambassador (Not in US). There were several businessmen associates of the new ambassador at that function. In an impromptu conversation, they professed their love for anything Iranian or Persian, from culture and history to food and the people, and their disdain for the Saudis and their ruling family.

In fact, one of them, much to my shock, uttered the circulating rumor that the ruling family in SA are actually Jews. He said everyone in the region knows about this open secret but afraid to talk about. That was a revelation for me coming from a Kuwaiti since I never did pay attention to those rumors.

I think in the event of a regional conflict, Kuwait will be spared by Iran. What would happen to the ruling family will be another story.

james , Jul 17 2019 18:04 utc | 39
thanks Seyed Mohammad Marandi.. i agree with your headline...

the usa is not agreement friendly.. everything is on their terms only... they rip up contracts when a new president doesn't like it, and make endless demands of others under threat, just like bullies do. they sanction countries and don't mind killing, starving and subjecting people in faraway lands to their ongoing and desperate means of domination.. nothing about the usa is friendly... they spend all their money on the military not just because it works so well for wall st and the corporations but because they think they can continue to bully everyone and anyone indefinitely.. they get support from the obvious suspects and all the other colonies of the usa - europe, canada and etc - turn a type of blind eye to it all, fearful they might be next if they step out of line.. thus, all these chattel countries fail in line with the usa regime sanctions...

basically, the prognosis isn't good.. none of the colonies are capable of speaking up to the usa regime, largely because they lack strong leadership and independence of thought in all this... we continue to slip towards ww3 and at present all the observing countries sit on their hands waiting for the next shoe to drop.. that is where we are at present with regard the ramp up to war on iran...

Harry Law , Jul 17 2019 21:24 utc | 60
The Gulf states know they would be in the front lines in any conflict, Saudi and UAE infrastructure destruction would mean Kings, Princes and Emir's scurrying from their destroyed countries because of their inability to sell oil and feed their people, as one Iranian General said.. the US bases in the region are not threats, "they are targets". Its true Iran has an army of 500,000, they also have millions of military aged men who would form militias and have the reputation of taking their shrouds with them into battle.
I think a major miscalculation by Trump, initiating this kind of scenario is unlikely, those other whack jobs Pence, Pompeo and Bolton are a cause for concern, just hear this nutcase Lindsey Graham threatening the Europeans....
"The United States should sanction "to the ground" European countries that continue to trade with Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal and refuse to join America's pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic, says top Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
"I will tell the Europeans, 'If you want to side with the Iranians, be my guest, but you won't use an American bank or do business with the American economy,'" Graham said".
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/16/601067/US-Graham-Trump-Iran-JCPOA-EU-sanction-to-ground
William Herschel , Jul 17 2019 21:39 utc | 61
Punitive sanctions against nations with a powerful military establishment have an incredibly poor track record. Germany after WWI. Japan prior to Pearl Harbor. And one might add Russia today. The more "effective" the sanctions, the closer to war.

But, of course, military planners in the U.S. and Israel have already picked out the targets for nuclear strikes during the very first wave of attacks on Iran. It will be nuclear first, ask questions later. Heil Trump has already said he will use nuclear weapons: "obliterate". But will even that work? I doubt it. Iran must expect nuclear attacks in the first wave. Yes, their urban populations will be destroyed, but their military? I doubt it.

Formerly T-Bear , Jul 17 2019 21:54 utc | 62
@ Harry Law | Jul 17 2019 21:24 utc | 60

The folks who now are called Iranian once fought the most militaristic society ever - the Spartans. There is likely a memory of that conflict still, and the lessons learned. They face a military that no longer remembers Vietnam or its lessons. Sanctions are an act of war, not military war but war against another who have been made into enemies nonetheless. Be mightily careful who you make your enemy, one sage reminds that you become like them. Look at those the U.S. has made enemy: Hitler and National Socialism; Mussolini and Fascism; Stalin and State Authoritarianism; Franco and Military Repression; and the list continues substantially, and then look at the U.S. in a distortion free mirror and what does one see?

Maracatu , Jul 17 2019 22:00 utc | 63
Taking into consideration the novel Rand Paul intervention, the likely way forward is this, and I'm sure it is what Putin (the master negotiator) has in mind: Trump blundered badly by throwing out the JCPOA, but he needs a way out that allows him to save face and even turn it into a partial "win". On the world stage (ie. for the public) it needs to look like Trump accedes to reinstate the JCPOA IN EXCHANGE for Iran withdrawing from Syria! This will not only save the nuclear deal, thereby reducing tensions, but it will force Israel to back down and shut up. Israel can't complain and Trump can sell it as an achievement of his, "without having to go to war". The US, of course will have to give Iran, Syria and Russia something in exchange: Iran and Russia ultimately bolstered their forces in Syria in order to save Assad. All things considered, Assad has won the war, so the reason for the bolstered Iranian and Russian presence no longer applies. What the US must agree to is to suspend its efforts to overthrow Assad (which Trump has been trying to do via the withdrawal of US troops in northern Syria), thereby returning the country to the status quo ante. The wild card in all of this, however, is Turkey's presence in Syria. Perhaps China can lend a helping hand on that issue?
Yeah, Right , Jul 17 2019 22:14 utc | 64
@35 "when it didn't. they resort back to the usual MO, look busy."

I agree with that comment, though I will add that for this Administration "looking busy" has a Keystone Cops look about it.

I mean, let's be real here: Norman Schwarzkopf did not make a single move against Iraq until he had well over 500,000 GI's at his command, and Tommy Franks was not willing to restart the Crash Boom Bang until he had built up his army to just shy of 500,000 soldiers.

And Iraq then was nowhere near as formidable as Iran is now.

Where are the troop buildups? Where is the CENTCOM army?
Nowhere. And no sign of it happening.

There is a real possibility that Bolton might get his way and start his dinky little war, only to find that the USA loses a great big war before he even manages to get out of bed.

CENTCOM is not ready for war, nowhere close to it, and for that reason alone Iran is correct to tell the USA that if Trump launches a "limited strike" then their response will be "it's on, baby".

Beibdnn. , Jul 17 2019 22:51 utc | 67
@ William Herschel 61. If the U.S. or anyone else uses any type of Nuclear weapons against Iran, a declared ally of Russia, it will result in an immediate and full scale Nuclear retaliation. This is a recent statement made by Vladimir Putin. Pompeo, Bolton et all are well aware of this. The U.S. might talk of using tactical nukes but despite their Hubris, even the most pro war in the Pentagon know what the results of that type of planned anihilation will have on the U.S. mainland. People like Lindsey Graham are merely empty vessels making a lot of noise.
karlof1 , Jul 17 2019 23:14 utc | 69
Why would Iran allow any Western nation to save face through negotiations or otherwise? Khamenei yesterday tweeted several statements that were later posted to his website:

"At this meeting, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran stressed that Western governments' arrogant behavior is the main obstacle in establishing ties and maintained: Western governments' major vice is their arrogance. If they face a weak government, their arrogance will be effective. But if that country knows the truth about them and resists, the Western governments will be defeated.

"Referring to problems rising between Iran and the European partners of the JCPOA, Ayatollah Khamenei said: Now, in the matters between us and the Europeans, the problems persist, because of their arrogance.

"The Leader of the Islamic Revolution highlighted Iran's commitment to the JCPOA -- also known as the Iran Deal -- and criticized European dignitaries of the deal for breaching it, saying: As stated by our Foreign Minister, who works hard, Europe has had eleven commitments, none of which it has met. The Foreign Minister, despite his diplomatic considerations, is clearly stating that. But what did we do? We acted based on our commitments, and even beyond that.

"Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that Iran continued to stay within the JCPOA despite the fact that the EU partners of the JCPOA as well as the British government violated the international plan of action and yet demanded Iran to stay with its promises: Now that we have started to reduce our commitments, they step forward. They are very insolent, and they have not abided by their eleven commitments. We have just started to reduce some of our commitments, and this process will surely continue."

The hypothetical suggestion Zarif made in his interview with NBC News was just that--hypothetical--as it had to spell out again for the apparently illiterate, deaf or both SoS Pompeo and BigLie Media presstitutes.

In his arrogance, Trump climbed up the tree he's now stuck within; and as I've pointed out again and again, Iran isn't going to help him in his climb down--they'll be no face saving for the arrogant Western nations. I mean, how clear can the Iranians make that?! They quite well understand the very real interests at stake I put forth in my comment @32. And the Turks on their own have upped the stakes with Erdogan assuring :

"that his country is prepared to leave NATO during a meeting with Russian Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

"'I met twice with Turkish President Recep Erdogan and he told me personally that Turkey was willing to withdraw from NATO,' Zhirinovsky wrote."

Trump seems desperate for a way to climb down from his tree. Controversial Kentucky Senator Rand Paul apparently volunteered his services as an emissary to Iran , which Trump okayed but Paul's office is being mum about. As noted, Iran isn't going to talk unless tangible, visible concessions are made prior to any talks occurring--concessions Zarif and Rouhani have already stated as the minimum required: Ending all illegal sanctions and return to JCPOA.

Uncle Jon , Jul 17 2019 23:38 utc | 72
@karlof1 69

Iran just announced that they would be open to talk about ballistic missiles when US stops selling arms in the Middle East.

You have to hand it to the Iranians. In the one-up-manship game, they are a formidable opponent. Obviously, there is less than zero chance that would ever happen, but they are super smart in driving the message of US arrogance home. I am happy to see they don't take any shit from the Empire.

Master negotiators at work.

[Jul 17, 2019] Oil Is Driving the Iran Crisis by Michael T. Klare

Highly recommended!
Washington's aggression is part of a decades-long quest to control the spigot in the Persian Gulf.
Notable quotes:
"... As it happens, the world economy -- of which the United States is the leading beneficiary (despite President Trump's self-destructive trade wars) -- relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country's nuclear supremacy. ..."
"... True, Washington fought wars in the Middle East when the American economy was still deeply vulnerable to any disruption in the flow of imported oil. In 1990, this was the key reason President George H.W. Bush gave for his decision to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait after Saddam Hussein's invasion of that land. "Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence," he told a nationwide TV audience. ..."
"... All told, 33.6 percent of world energy consumption last year was made up of oil, 27.2 percent of coal (itself a global disgrace), 23.9 percent of natural gas, 6.8 percent of hydro-electricity, 4.4 percent of nuclear power, and a mere 4 percent of renewables. ..."
"... Concluding that the increased demand for oil in Asia, in particular, will outweigh reduced demand elsewhere, the IEA calculated in its 2017 World Energy Outlook that oil will remain the world's dominant source of energy in 2040, accounting for an estimated 27.5 percent of total global energy consumption. That will indeed be a smaller share than in 2018, but because global energy consumption as a whole is expected to grow substantially during those decades, net oil production could still rise -- from an estimated 100 million barrels a day in 2018 to about 105 million barrels in 2040. ..."
"... More dramatic yet is the growing centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to the global flow of petroleum. In 2000, that region accounted for only 28 percent of world consumption; in 2040, its share is expected to stand at 44 percent, thanks to the growth of China, India, and other Asian countries, whose newly affluent consumers are already buying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other oil-powered products. ..."
"... To lend muscle to what would soon be dubbed the "Carter Doctrine," the president created a new US military organization, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), and obtained basing facilities for it in the Gulf region. Ronald Reagan, who succeeded Carter as president in 1981, made the RDJTF into a full-scale "geographic combatant command," dubbed Central Command, or CENTCOM, which continues to be tasked with ensuring American access to the Gulf today (as well as overseeing the country's never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East). ..."
"... When ordering US forces into combat in the Gulf, American presidents have always insisted that they were acting in the interests of the entire West. In advocating for the "reflagging" mission of 1987, for instance, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued (as he would later recall in his memoir Fighting for Peace ), "The main thing was for us to protect the right of innocent, nonbelligerent and extremely important commerce to move freely in international open waters -- and, by our offering protection, to avoid conceding the mission to the Soviets." Though rarely so openly acknowledged, the same principle has undergirded Washington's strategy in the region ever since: The United States alone must be the ultimate guarantor of unimpeded oil commerce in the Persian Gulf. ..."
"... Look closely and you can find this principle lurking in every fundamental statement of US policy related to that region and among the Washington elite more generally. My own personal favorite, when it comes to pithiness, is a sentence in a report on the geopolitics of energy issued in 2000 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies , a Washington-based think tank well-populated with former government officials (several of whom contributed to the report): "As the world's only superpower, [the United States] must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to [the] worldwide energy supply." You can't get much more explicit than that. ..."
"... As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the "free flow of commerce" (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct US military action. Yes, Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership's malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | thenation.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com .

It's always the oil. While President Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent UN report about the prince's role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support "Sentinel." The aim of that administration plan: to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.

Both Trump and Pompeo insisted that their efforts were driven by concern over Iranian misbehavior in the region and the need to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. Neither, however, mentioned one inconvenient three-letter word -- O-I-L -- that lay behind their Iranian maneuvering (as it has impelled every other American incursion in the Middle East since World War II).

Now, it's true that the United States no longer relies on imported petroleum for a large share of its energy needs. Thanks to the fracking revolution , the country now gets the bulk of its oil -- approximately 75 percent -- from domestic sources. (In 2008, that share had been closer to 35 percent.) Key allies in NATO and rivals like China, however, continue to depend on Middle Eastern oil for a significant proportion of their energy needs.

As it happens, the world economy -- of which the United States is the leading beneficiary (despite President Trump's self-destructive trade wars) -- relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country's nuclear supremacy.

This logic was spelled out clearly by President Barack Obama in a September 2013 address to the UN General Assembly in which he declared that "the United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests" in the Middle East. He then pointed out that, while the United States was steadily reducing its reliance on imported oil, "the world still depends on the region's energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy."

Accordingly, he concluded, "We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world." To some Americans, that dictum -- and its continued embrace by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo -- may seem anachronistic. True, Washington fought wars in the Middle East when the American economy was still deeply vulnerable to any disruption in the flow of imported oil. In 1990, this was the key reason President George H.W. Bush gave for his decision to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait after Saddam Hussein's invasion of that land. "Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence," he told a nationwide TV audience.

But talk of oil soon disappeared from his comments about what became Washington's first (but hardly last) Gulf War after his statement provoked widespread public outrage . ("No Blood for Oil" became a widely used protest sign then.) His son, the second President Bush, never even mentioned that three-letter word when announcing his 2003 invasion of Iraq. Yet, as Obama's UN speech made clear, oil remained, and still remains, at the center of US foreign policy. A quick review of global energy trends helps explain why this has continued to be so.

THE WORLD'S UNDIMINISHED RELIANCE ON PETROLEUM

Despite all that's been said about climate change and oil's role in causing it -- and about the enormous progress being made in bringing solar and wind power online -- we remain trapped in a remarkably oil-dependent world. To grasp this reality, all you have to do is read the most recent edition of oil giant BP's "Statistical Review of World Energy," published this June. In 2018, according to that report, oil still accounted for by far the largest share of world energy consumption, as it has every year for decades. All told, 33.6 percent of world energy consumption last year was made up of oil, 27.2 percent of coal (itself a global disgrace), 23.9 percent of natural gas, 6.8 percent of hydro-electricity, 4.4 percent of nuclear power, and a mere 4 percent of renewables.

Most energy analysts believe that the global reliance on petroleum as a share of world energy use will decline in the coming decades, as more governments impose restrictions on carbon emissions and as consumers, especially in the developed world, switch from oil-powered to electric vehicles. But such declines are unlikely to prevail in every region of the globe and total oil consumption may not even decline. According to projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its " New Policies Scenario " (which assumes significant but not drastic government efforts to curb carbon emissions globally), Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are likely to experience a substantially increased demand for petroleum in the years to come, which, grimly enough, means global oil consumption will continue to rise.

Concluding that the increased demand for oil in Asia, in particular, will outweigh reduced demand elsewhere, the IEA calculated in its 2017 World Energy Outlook that oil will remain the world's dominant source of energy in 2040, accounting for an estimated 27.5 percent of total global energy consumption. That will indeed be a smaller share than in 2018, but because global energy consumption as a whole is expected to grow substantially during those decades, net oil production could still rise -- from an estimated 100 million barrels a day in 2018 to about 105 million barrels in 2040.

Of course, no one, including the IEA's experts, can be sure how future extreme manifestations of global warming like the severe heat waves recently tormenting Europe and South Asia could change such projections. It's possible that growing public outrage could lead to far tougher restrictions on carbon emissions between now and 2040. Unexpected developments in the field of alternative energy production could also play a role in changing those projections. In other words, oil's continuing dominance could still be curbed in ways that are now unpredictable.

In the meantime, from a geopolitical perspective, a profound shift is taking place in the worldwide demand for petroleum. In 2000, according to the IEA, older industrialized nations -- most of them members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -- accounted for about two-thirds of global oil consumption; only about a third went to countries in the developing world. By 2040, the IEA's experts believe that ratio will be reversed, with the OECD consuming about one-third of the world's oil and non-OECD nations the rest.

More dramatic yet is the growing centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to the global flow of petroleum. In 2000, that region accounted for only 28 percent of world consumption; in 2040, its share is expected to stand at 44 percent, thanks to the growth of China, India, and other Asian countries, whose newly affluent consumers are already buying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other oil-powered products.

Where will Asia get its oil? Among energy experts, there is little doubt on this matter. Lacking significant reserves of their own, the major Asian consumers will turn to the one place with sufficient capacity to satisfy their rising needs: the Persian Gulf. According to BP, in 2018, Japan already obtained 87 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, India 64 percent, and China 44 percent. Most analysts assume these percentages will only grow in the years to come, as production in other areas declines.

This will, in turn, lend even greater strategic importance to the Persian Gulf region, which now possesses more than 60 percent of the world's untapped petroleum reserves, and to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway through which approximately one-third of the world's seaborne oil passes daily. Bordered by Iran, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, the Strait is perhaps the most significant -- and contested -- geostrategic location on the planet today.

CONTROLLING THE SPIGOT

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the same year that militant Shiite fundamentalists overthrew the US-backed Shah of Iran, US policy-makers concluded that America's access to Gulf oil supplies was at risk and a US military presence was needed to guarantee such access. As President Jimmy Carter would say in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980,

The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two thirds of the world's exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world's oil must flow. Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

To lend muscle to what would soon be dubbed the "Carter Doctrine," the president created a new US military organization, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), and obtained basing facilities for it in the Gulf region. Ronald Reagan, who succeeded Carter as president in 1981, made the RDJTF into a full-scale "geographic combatant command," dubbed Central Command, or CENTCOM, which continues to be tasked with ensuring American access to the Gulf today (as well as overseeing the country's never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East).

Reagan was the first president to activate the Carter Doctrine in 1987 when he ordered Navy warships to escort Kuwaiti tankers, " reflagged " with the stars and stripes, as they traveled through the Strait of Hormuz. From time to time, such vessels had been coming under fire from Iranian gunboats, part of an ongoing " Tanker War ," itself part of the Iran-Iraq War of those years. The Iranian attacks on those tankers were meant to punish Sunni Arab countries for backing Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein in that conflict. The American response, dubbed Operation Earnest Will , offered an early model of what Secretary of State Pompeo is seeking to establish today with his Sentinel program.

Operation Earnest Will was followed two years later by a massive implementation of the Carter Doctrine, President Bush's 1990 decision to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Although he spoke of the need to protect US access to Persian Gulf oil fields, it was evident that ensuring a safe flow of oil imports wasn't the only motive for such military involvement. Equally important then (and far more so now): the geopolitical advantage controlling the world's major oil spigot gave Washington.

When ordering US forces into combat in the Gulf, American presidents have always insisted that they were acting in the interests of the entire West. In advocating for the "reflagging" mission of 1987, for instance, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued (as he would later recall in his memoir Fighting for Peace ), "The main thing was for us to protect the right of innocent, nonbelligerent and extremely important commerce to move freely in international open waters -- and, by our offering protection, to avoid conceding the mission to the Soviets." Though rarely so openly acknowledged, the same principle has undergirded Washington's strategy in the region ever since: The United States alone must be the ultimate guarantor of unimpeded oil commerce in the Persian Gulf.

Look closely and you can find this principle lurking in every fundamental statement of US policy related to that region and among the Washington elite more generally. My own personal favorite, when it comes to pithiness, is a sentence in a report on the geopolitics of energy issued in 2000 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies , a Washington-based think tank well-populated with former government officials (several of whom contributed to the report): "As the world's only superpower, [the United States] must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to [the] worldwide energy supply." You can't get much more explicit than that.

Of course, along with this "special responsibility" comes a geopolitical advantage: By providing this service, the United States cements its status as the world's sole superpower and places every other oil-importing nation -- and the world at large -- in a condition of dependence on its continued performance of this vital function.

Originally, the key dependents in this strategic equation were Europe and Japan, which, in return for assured access to Middle Eastern oil, were expected to subordinate themselves to Washington. Remember, for example, how they helped pay for Bush the elder's Iraq War (dubbed Operation Desert Storm). Today, however, many of those countries, deeply concerned with the effects of climate change, are seeking to lessen oil's role in their national fuel mixes. As a result, in 2019, the countries potentially most at the mercy of Washington when it comes to access to Gulf oil are economically fast-expanding China and India, whose oil needs are only likely to grow. That, in turn, will further enhance the geopolitical advantage Washington enjoyed as long as it remains the principal guardian of the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. How it may seek to exploit this advantage remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that all parties involved, including the Chinese, are well aware of this asymmetric equation, which could give the phrase "trade war" a far deeper and more ominous meaning.

THE IRANIAN CHALLENGE AND THE SPECTER OF WAR

From Washington's perspective, the principal challenger to America's privileged status in the Gulf is Iran. By reason of geography, that country possesses a potentially commanding position along the northern Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the Reagan administration learned in 1987–88 when it threatened American oil dominance there. About this reality President Reagan couldn't have been clearer. "Mark this point well: The use of the sea lanes of the Persian Gulf will not be dictated by the Iranians," he declared in 1987 -- and Washington's approach to the situation has never changed.

In more recent times, in response to US and Israeli threats to bomb their nuclear facilities or, as the Trump administration has done, impose economic sanctions on their country, the Iranians have threatened on numerous occasions to block the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic, squeeze global energy supplies, and precipitate an international crisis. In 2011, for example, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that should the West impose sanctions on Iranian oil, "not even one drop of oil can flow through the Strait of Hormuz." In response, US officials have vowed ever since to let no such thing happen, just as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did in response to Rahimi at that time. "We have made very clear," he said , "that the United States will not tolerate blocking of the Strait of Hormuz." That, he added, was a "red line for us."

It remains so today. Hence, the present ongoing crisis in the Gulf, with fierce US sanctions on Iranian oil sales and threatening Iranian gestures toward the regional oil flow in response. "We will make the enemy understand that either everyone can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one," said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, in July 2018. And attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz on June 13 could conceivably have been an expression of just that policy, if -- as claimed by the United States -- they were indeed carried out by members of the Revolutionary Guards. Any future attacks are only likely to spur US military action against Iran in accordance with the Carter Doctrine. As Pentagon spokesperson Bill Urban put it in response to Jafari's statement, "We stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows."

As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the "free flow of commerce" (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct US military action. Yes, Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership's malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost.

If the United States goes to war with Iran, you are unlikely to hear the word "oil" uttered by top Trump administration officials, but make no mistake: That three-letter word lies at the root of the present crisis, not to speak of the world's long-term fate.

Michael T. Klare The Nation 's defense correspondent, is professor emeritus of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College and senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, DC. His newest book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change , will be published this fall.

[Jul 09, 2019] The real issue is the control of Iranian oil by the USA and EU

Notable quotes:
"... It is the Iranian (upper/middle class) exiles who hate and detest the revolutionary regime, because the regime has deprived them of the right to rule, that they thought was their hereditary ..."
"... But the Gulf States don't give a fig about that. They are concerned about the simple renaissance of Iranian power, which might deprive the Sunni potentates of their own position. ..."
"... Yes, it is precisely Iran's success that threatens the Gulf Autocrats, Israel, and Uncle Sugar, each for slightly different reasons, or perhaps the same reasons in different amounts. ..."
Jul 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Laguerre , Jul 8 2019 16:29 utc | 14

re Don 7

Crooke points out, correctly I believe, that the real issue is not nuclear, or the oft-repeated foolish "largest state sponsor of terrorism," it is the revolutionary basis of Iran's success in the Middle East, besting the Gulf dictators.
That bit about the revolution, I don't agree with. It's more the Iranian renaissance that the Gulf States fear.

Two separate aspects need to be distinguished:

1) It is the Iranian (upper/middle class) exiles who hate and detest the revolutionary regime, because the regime has deprived them of the right to rule, that they thought was their hereditary right. Even within Iran, upper/middle class people I met had the same attitude - a kind of hurt that they weren't running the country. The regime is of course populist.

2) But the Gulf States don't give a fig about that. They are concerned about the simple renaissance of Iranian power, which might deprive the Sunni potentates of their own position. The classic case is of course Bahrain, where the "king" is Sunni, and the vast mass of the population Shi'a, and they're kept down by force, supported by the guns of the US 5th fleet. But the case of Saudi is much more serious, because it's so much bigger, and every single oil well is sitting under the feet of the Shi'a, and there are none anywhere else, certainly not in the Saudi homeland of Najd, which is real camel-herder territory (to which we can expect the Saudi princes to return, if ever the poor suffering Shi'a ever manage a successful revolt).

I think Crooke confused the two issues a bit.

Bemildred , Jul 8 2019 16:43 utc | 16

Yes, it is precisely Iran's success that threatens the Gulf Autocrats, Israel, and Uncle Sugar, each for slightly different reasons, or perhaps the same reasons in different amounts.

Those being: it's Shiia, it's populist, and it was indeed a political revolution. And for all of them it represents a viable alternative to the way they wanted things to be. Now, I think, it's too late. Many will take note of what they have done and how, it will be studied.

[Jul 09, 2019] Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi has demanded an immediate release of an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British government, Fars reported.

Jul 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , Jul 8 2019 17:16 utc | 23

@ UJ 21

As b mentioned, stay tuned for a major op. against the British East India Company.

from the Tehran Times:

TEHRAN – Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi has demanded an immediate release of an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British government, Fars reported.

"It seems that the British and Europeans are well aware of the Islamic Republic's reach and potential , and accordingly, it is to their own benefit that they immediately release this oil tanker, otherwise they should await the ramifications of their action," Raisi said on Monday.

[Jul 06, 2019] Why is Iran such a high priority for US elite? Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is at present no other powerful leadership group that is so adamantly unwilling to compromise with the U.S. The potential loss of U.S. control over Middle East oil being at the root of it. ..."
"... The Saudis et al have it, and Israel is a forward operating base for protecting it. The Saudi royal family rightly fear an Iran-inspired popular uprising against them and Israel fears the loss of lands granted to them by their invisible friend as related in a popular fairy tale. ..."
"... Iran is a relatively large country with a semi independent foreign policy and banking,/ financial system, and they want to control their own resources independent of western dictates about opening up their system to the neo liberal system. ..."
"... Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then. ..."
"... Iran was after WW2 a client state of both the US and the UK, the latter installing the Shah as a ruler. Iran was important for the US and the UK through its oil resources and its border with the USSR. ..."
"... Iran is still a major player when it comes to oil, but contrary to the Shah years quite hostile to the aspirations of Israel to become the “western” power in the middle east. ..."
"... The enmity clearest showed up when Israel and the USA supplied Saddam Hussein with intelligence and Germany and France with the capability to produce chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war. ..."
"... America essentially followed the old British approach towards Iran: keep it semi-alive so that it can put up enough resistance to the USSR until America’s more important and intrinsic interests, such as those in the Persian Gulf, were safeguarded. But Washington never wanted to turn Iran into a strong ally that one day might be capable of challenging America. ..."
"... By changing the international balance of power and removing the risk of Soviet penetration, the USSR’s fall eliminated Iran’s value to the United States even as a buffer state. In fact, the fundamental shift to a US approach based on the principle of no compromise, can be traced to 1987, when Gorbachev’s reforms began. ..."
"... Since then, the United States has refused to accept any solution to the Iran problem that has not involved the country’s absolute capitulation. ..."
"... For instance, in 2003, Iran offered to put all the outstanding issues between the two countries on the table for negotiations, but the US refused. ..."
"... Because Iran refuses to be a second-class citizen in its own neighborhood. Theirs is an ancient culture whose legacy to the world is enormous, their history is the stuff of legend, and they are the geopolitical power player in the region, not to mention the most powerful Shia Muslim nation. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Joe Well, July 5, 2019 at 11:47 am

>>US President Donald Trump’s ruthless use of the centrality of his country’s financial system and the dollar to force economic partners to abide by his unilateral sanctions on Iran has forced the world to recognise the political price of asymmetric economic interdependence.

Why is Iran such a high priority for so many US elites?

Lee, July 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Just spit-balling here: The Iranian leadership, with good cause, wants to diminish or eliminate the U.S. grip on the region and this subversive, potentially destabilizing sentiment resonates among the citizenry of various Middle Eastern countries.

There is at present no other powerful leadership group that is so adamantly unwilling to compromise with the U.S. The potential loss of U.S. control over Middle East oil being at the root of it.

The Saudis et al have it, and Israel is a forward operating base for protecting it. The Saudi royal family rightly fear an Iran-inspired popular uprising against them and Israel fears the loss of lands granted to them by their invisible friend as related in a popular fairy tale.

This is hardly definitive and I’m sure others could elaborate.

workingclasshero, July 5, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Iran is a relatively large country with a semi independent foreign policy and banking,/ financial system, and they want to control their own resources independent of western dictates about opening up their system to the neo liberal system.

I’m sure this is obvious to most people at this kind of web site and is overly simplistic but i sense sometimes some people are shocked about the conflict with Iran and don’t get that basic dynamic of this conflict.

Underdog Revolutions, July 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then.

US elites never forgave them for it. Same reason they hate and punish Cuba, another country that poses no threat to anyone but its own citizens.

Peter Moritz, July 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Why is Iran such a high priority for so many US elites?

Iran was after WW2 a client state of both the US and the UK, the latter installing the Shah as a ruler. Iran was important for the US and the UK through its oil resources and its border with the USSR.

Mossadegh, by nationalising the oil supply until, played against the status and he was overthrown in a MI/CIA sponsored coup in 1953, leaving the Shah as the sole ruler in Iran till the revolution of 1979 when Iran came under theocratic rule and basically diminished the power the US had throughout the years of the Shah’s rule.

The US was also shown to be quite powerless -- short of an invasion -- to deal with the hostage crisis in the US embassy, which was finally after more than a year resolved with the help of Canada.

Iran is still a major player when it comes to oil, but contrary to the Shah years quite hostile to the aspirations of Israel to become the “western” power in the middle east.

The enmity clearest showed up when Israel and the USA supplied Saddam Hussein with intelligence and Germany and France with the capability to produce chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war.

Here is a more in-depth look:

https://lobelog.com/the-real-causes-of-americas-troubled-relations-with-iran/

This U.S. approach towards Iran has been the result of its lack of an intrinsic interest in the country. The same was true of Britain. The late Sir Denis Right, the UK’s ambassador to Iran in the 1960s, put it best by writing that Britain never considered Iran of sufficient value to colonize it. But it found Iran useful as a buffer against the competing great power, the Russian Empire. Thus, British policy towards Iran was to keep it moribund but not dead, at least not as long as the Russian threat persisted.

America essentially followed the old British approach towards Iran: keep it semi-alive so that it can put up enough resistance to the USSR until America’s more important and intrinsic interests, such as those in the Persian Gulf, were safeguarded. But Washington never wanted to turn Iran into a strong ally that one day might be capable of challenging America.

By changing the international balance of power and removing the risk of Soviet penetration, the USSR’s fall eliminated Iran’s value to the United States even as a buffer state. In fact, the fundamental shift to a US approach based on the principle of no compromise, can be traced to 1987, when Gorbachev’s reforms began.

Since then, the United States has refused to accept any solution to the Iran problem that has not involved the country’s absolute capitulation.

For instance, in 2003, Iran offered to put all the outstanding issues between the two countries on the table for negotiations, but the US refused.

ChiGal in Carolina, July 5, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Because Iran refuses to be a second-class citizen in its own neighborhood. Theirs is an ancient culture whose legacy to the world is enormous, their history is the stuff of legend, and they are the geopolitical power player in the region, not to mention the most powerful Shia Muslim nation.

[Jul 06, 2019] Ilargi: Memo to the US The Winds Are Shifting

Notable quotes:
"... Yes. It's piracy. USA a Pirate Nation. UK a useful part of the gang. ..."
"... I mean, empires have always been expansionist, violently expansionist. I mean, this is bad, but the empire is the empire. What bothers me is the lying. The filthy unbelievable lies emanating from the likes of Hillaria Terroristica and Pompeus Maximus and even from Obama the Salesman emperor, Emperor Tex Bush the second, and our current Carnival Barker Emperor Trumpius the Rube Caller. Let alone the generals lying thru their teeth. ..."
"... There should have a new slogan for this international cabal -- "Strength through Chaos". To be precise, OUR strength through THEIR chaos. ..."
"... You could safely leave out anywhere in the Americas, I think, after reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman . Less bombs, same benevolent results. The US/Mexican Border comes to mind, filled with refugees from Guatemala and Honduras. ..."
"... I very much agree with Illargi on this. Nothing good can come from the "heroic" seizure of the tanker. Mission accomplished: we are more idiotic every passing day. ..."
"... The purpose, and effect, of empire is theft. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on July 5, 2019 by Yves Smith

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

How do you define terror? Perhaps, because of the way the term has evolved in the English language, one wouldn't call the west 'terrorists' per se, but 'we' are certainly spreading terror and terrorizing very large groups of people. Yeah, bring on the tanks and parade them around town. Add a marching band that plays some war tunes.

The 'official' storyline : at the request of the US, Gibraltar police and UK marines have seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar. The super-tanker, 1000 feet (330 meters) long, carrying 2 million barrels, had stopped there after sailing all around the Cape of Good Hope instead of taking the Suez canal on its way, ostensibly, from Iran to Syria.

And, according to the storyline as presented to and in the western press, because the EU still has sanctions on Iran, the British seized the ship. Another little detail I really appreciate is that Spain's acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said Madrid was looking into the seizure and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty since Spain does not recognize the waters around Gibraltar as British.

That Borrell guy is the newly picked EU foreign policy czar, and according to some sources he's supportive of Iran and critical of Israel. Them's the webs we weave. He's certainly in favor of Palestinian statehood. But we're wandering

Why did the tanker take that giant detour along the African coastline? Because potential problems were anticipated in the Suez canal. But also: why dock in Gibraltar? Because no problems were anticipated there. However, the US had been following the ship all along, and set this up.

A trap, a set-up, give it a name. I would think this is about Iran, not about sanctions on Syria; that's just a convenient excuse. Moreover, as people have been pointing out, there have been countless arms deliveries to Syrian rebels in the past years (yes, that's illegal) which were not seized.

The sanctions on Syria were always aimed at one goal: getting rid of Assad. That purpose failed either miserably or spectacularly, depending on your point of view. It did achieve one thing though, and if I were you I wouldn't be too sure this was not the goal all along.

That is, out of a pre-war population of 22 million, the United Nations in 2016 identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance; over 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria. About half a million are estimated to have died, the same number as in Iraq.

And Assad is still there and probably stronger than ever. But it doesn't even matter whether the US/UK/EU regime change efforts are successful or not, and I have no doubt they've always known this. Their aim is to create chaos as a war tactic, and kill as many people as they can. How do you define terror, terrorism? However you define it, 'we' are spreading it.

That grossly failed attempt to depose Assad has left Europe with a refugee problem it may never be able to control. And the only reason there is such a problem is that Europe, in particular Britain and France, along with the US, tried to bomb these people's homelands out of existence. Because their leaders didn't want to conform to "our standards", i.e. have our oil companies seize and control their supplies.

But while you weren't looking some things changed, irreversibly so. The US and Europe are no longer the undisputed and overwhelming global military power they once were. Russia has become a target they cannot even consider attacking anymore, because their armies, assembled in NATO, wouldn't stand a chance.

China is not yet at the 'might' level of Russia, but US and NATO are in no position to attack a country of 1.4 billion people either. Their military prominence ended around the turn of the century/millennium, and they're not going to get it back. Better make peace fast.

So what we've seen for a few decades now is proxy wars. In which Russia in particular has been reluctant to engage but decisive when it does. Moscow didn't want to let Assad go, and so they made sure he stayed. Syria is Russia's one single stronghold in the Middle East, and deemed indispensable.

Meanwhile, as over half of Syrians, some 11 million people, have been forced to flee their homes, with millions of them traumatized by war, 'we' elect to seize a tanker allegedly headed for a refinery in the country, so we can make sure all those people have no oil or less oil for a while longer.

So the refugees that do have the courage and will to return will find it that much harder to rebuild their homes and towns, and will tell those still abroad not to join them. At the same time Assad is doing fine, he may be the target of the sanctions but he doesn't suffer from them, his people do.

Yes, let's parade some tanks around town. And let's praise the heroic UK marines who seized an utterly defenseless oil tanker manned by a bunch of dirt-poor Philippinos. Yay! There is probably some profound irony that explains why Trump and Bolton and Pompeo want a military parade at the very moment the US military must concede defeat in all theaters but the propaganda one.

Still there it is. The only people the US, the west, can still credibly threaten, are defenseless civilians, women, children. The leaders of nations are out of reach. Maduro, Assad, let alone Putin or Xi.

Happy 4th of July. Not sure how independent you yourself are, but I can see a few people who did achieve independence from western terror. Just not the poor, the ones that count. But don't look at the tanks, look at the wind instead. The winds are shifting.


Clive , July 5, 2019 at 4:32 am

The EU has been a sticking plaster and a shot of Novocain at the open wound that is Gibraltar. Without that stabilising influence, that plaster is about to be ripped off and a slash of neat peroxide is about to be poured onto it.

Watch for more -- unpleasant -- developments coming soon on this one.

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2019 at 5:44 am

I wondered about that myself. There could be an unspoken message now out that the UK gets to say who gets to use the Straits of Gibraltar. I am sure that the Spanish would see no problem with that. One thing is sure. That is a few more countries that the UK has completely antagonized now which will come back to bite it post-Brexit.

Colonel Smithers , July 5, 2019 at 6:20 am

Thank you and well said, Gentlemen, Clive, the Reverend and the author, and to Yves for sharing.

The winds are indeed shifting, but as long as defeat is not obvious in the propaganda theatre, that's all that matters.

The NC community, especially Anonymous 2, David and Harry, have often written about the calibre of civil servants in the Treasury with regard to Brexit, it's the same with the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Middle East experts, often termed "Arabists", have left, often forced out for ideological reasons. They would have cautioned against such adventures. The newer and younger breed of Foreign Office officials, e.g. the co-author of the dodgy / sexed up (WMD) dossier Matthew Rycroft, and some veterans like John Scarlet, now retired and consulting with former Tory MP James Arbuthnott (whose wife "presided" over Assange's recent hearing), are far more ideological (neo con) and willing to blur the boundaries between impartial advice and enabling what politicians want. There are few, if any regional, specialists at the Foreign Office any more.

Sadly, it's the same with the officer corps, more ideological, enablers and less, if at all, cognizant of the strategic implications of such actions.

As the above happens, HMG becomes more and more dependent on advice from the likes of US neo con think tanks, especially the Henry Jackson Society. Unlike at the Treasury and Bank of England, so far, no such neo cons and neo liberals have been imported from the former colonies by the Foreign Office.

As both Clive and the Reverend conclude, watch out for more unpleasant developments things that come back to bite the UK.

PlutoniumKun , July 5, 2019 at 9:23 am

Maybe there is something else behind it, but it does seem to be a very clumsy operation – its annoyed a lot of important people (not least in Spain) at just the time when this isn't needed for the UK. I wonder if the neocon element in Whitehall is using the interregnum in power to seek to bind the UK even more firmly to the US post Brexit.

Alex Cox , July 5, 2019 at 1:56 pm

"Russia has become a target they cannot even consider attacking anymore, because their armies, assembled in NATO, wouldn't stand a chance."

I am not sure the current crop of politicians and bureaucrats in the UK (or the US) know this.

As the Colonel observes, people with specialist knowledge are being replaced with ideologically-motivated enablers. And the Pentagon and its NATO assets stress their ability to wage a "limited" nuclear war

animalogic , July 6, 2019 at 6:11 am

"China is not yet at the 'might' level of Russia, but US and NATO are in no position to attack a country of 1.4 billion people either."

Indeed. And I would suggest China's "might level" is very close to not only Russia's but the US's. Just as a for instance: the PLAN (Peoples' Liberation Army Navy) has instituted probably the largest ship building program in history. All its newer vessels are equal to or (significantly?) better than comparable US types.

JBird4049 , July 6, 2019 at 8:17 pm

All this war talk about just how fabulously strong, or not, this and that polity is annoyingly ignorant; let's look at the reality that China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, would all be facing strong food shortages without any harvest failures. With even moderate shortfalls, add in the rest of the world as countries start scrambling for food to stockpile even those who are completely self sufficient. The United States has destroyed it industrial base so much that it cannot provide all the parts, tools, white goods, clothing, etc that it needs just to function daily. I have not checked Russia's economy, but I suspect that like the UK, or any European country it needs other countries to survive.

One of the reasons that the British almost lost World War One, that Germany did, and the nations that used to be the Austro-Hungarian Empire did so poorly after that war was the breaking up of all those trade connections. Everyone was gung-ho on war or independence, but no-one has made any plans whatsoever on to run their economy(ies) after the first few years of war or peace. And no, sticking it all on the Germans did not work either.

skippy , July 5, 2019 at 6:58 am

I'm starting to get that last election feeling where previous sorts went a bit curious when confronted with the choices and the past went poof . strangest thing[s]

cnchal , July 5, 2019 at 5:38 am

Peace though procurement malpractice. The current batch of military hardware is so much garbage that when the President wants to use the "superb" pieces of crap (F35 and the new boats are prime examples) a general will have to become the sacrificial lamb and give the president the news that this stuff is for show only.

Bill Smith , July 5, 2019 at 6:15 am

The Israelis claim to like the F-35 and to have used it in Syria to attack Syrian Air Defense installations after the Syrian Air Defense installations fired at their other manned aircraft.

That's something of an endorsement of it's capabilities. How much I don't know.

PlutoniumKun , July 5, 2019 at 9:04 am

It has been claimed that an F-35 was damaged beyond repair on one attack . I don't know if anyone has got to bottom of these claims. It does seem a bit hard to accept that a bird strike could have led to the scrapping of an entire airframe.

I think the issue of Israeli use of US aircraft is complex – the US seems to have pressurised Israel to drop its own aircraft, the Lavi , and it may well have been that giving Israel priority with the F-35 was part of the quid quo pro over that. For many countries, choosing the F-35 seems to owe more to politics than defence considerations.

jrkrideau , July 6, 2019 at 6:39 pm

I have, for some time, been of the opinion that one of the (relatively minor) reasons that Turkey went with the S-400's is that it gets them out of the F-35 contract without legal financial penalties. I bet the reports of the Turkish crews training in the US have been scathing.

I have wondered if the Saab JAS 39 Gripen or the Su-57 might be good contenders.

I think it was RT that reported the other day that Russia is planning on starting full production of the Su-57 in 2020. Given that it was speculated that production of the Su-57 was too expensive with the Russian Federation as the only customer, I wonder who might be interested. China? Renewed Indian interest? Turkey ?

Personally, I think we in Canada should ask Sukho to submit a bid for our fighter replacement program.

drumlin woodchuckles , July 5, 2019 at 6:29 pm

Israelis may have been instructed to say that as a favor in return for all the aid.

cnchal , July 6, 2019 at 6:37 am

> But this time I thought how awful it would be to hear those monsters and know they were loaded with missiles and there was no safe place to hide.

Around here there is a boat race where the military flies jets for show and quite a few years ago, on a Saturday,while I was tinkering in the garage, this one pilot, and he or she must have been having a grand old time, really put on a show. For half an hour to an hour the neighborhood was subjected to the most thunderous roar, it made my skin crawl and hair stand up, and I started thinking about and getting a tiny taste of the terror people that are actual targets of this machine get.

On Sunday, there was no "air" show. So many people bitched and complained about Saturday the military or show organizers called it off. Phone calls to stop the jets does not work in the middle east, however.

Synoia , July 6, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Drones appear effective. They certainly were at Gatwick.

Sharkleberry Fin , July 5, 2019 at 6:33 am

Am I supposed to feel sorry for the sanction-busting war profiteers losing their illicit cargo? Or am I supposed to feel sorry for Assad not being able to top off the gas tank on his human rights violating war wagon?

Nobody's cool with the jingoism coming from the White House. But if the tanks come out for only just this one very special episode of the Apprentice, the people of earth have dodged a very obnoxious golden BB.

pjay , July 5, 2019 at 7:24 am

" war profiteers." " human rights violating war wagon " Hmm. Those phrases call certain images and actors to mind. Iran? Syria? No, that's not it

timbers , July 5, 2019 at 8:09 am

You're supposed to feel sorry for millions America killed in Syria and many other nations, and the tens of millions she displaced from their homes.

According to the U.N., Nobel Peace prize winning Obama caused the greatest refugee crisis since WW2 with all the browned skinned nations he bombed until America ran out of bombs and then he made more and bombed again – Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Ukraine who have I missed there so many .

Said another way, The War on Terror IS terrorism.

About 10 years I started to realize the U.S. is an Evil Empire, a force for evil in the world.

Happy 4th.

And may the bombing continue until there is peace. There are so many countries this great nation has not yet bombed. Maybe we're just getting warmed up.

timbers , July 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Google "UN says greatest refugee crisis since world war" and you'll annual reports starting about 2014 till about 2017 – the Apex of the Obama wars – each year replacing the previous year as all time records as humanitarian disasters.

Carolinian , July 5, 2019 at 8:39 am

Interesting word "illicit" meaning "outside the law." So exactly what law gives the Americans and their faithful poodles the authority to do this?

Gibraltar was once the playground of the Barbary Pirates so it is an appropriate venue for the hegemon to engage in a little piracy of its own. But Ilargi may be right that the winds are shifting and bullies will get their comeuppance.

divadab , July 5, 2019 at 10:57 am

Yes. It's piracy. USA a Pirate Nation. UK a useful part of the gang.

I mean, empires have always been expansionist, violently expansionist. I mean, this is bad, but the empire is the empire. What bothers me is the lying. The filthy unbelievable lies emanating from the likes of Hillaria Terroristica and Pompeus Maximus and even from Obama the Salesman emperor, Emperor Tex Bush the second, and our current Carnival Barker Emperor Trumpius the Rube Caller. Let alone the generals lying thru their teeth.

It makes the whole enterprise ridiculous – no one but the stupidest and most brainwashed believes the filthy liars. Terrible that our ruling class are traitors to the country – because why lie unless you have no respect for those ruled? Lie to the stupid cattle – let them repeat the lies and laugh at their stupidity.

Carolinian , July 5, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The Iranians are calling it piracy and now claim the right to seize any British oil tanker in their waters. Perhaps they have passed "sanctions" against the Brits or the EU.

I'm thinking of passing some sanctions myself under my sovereign powers and seizing some stuff. Hey why not? EU says it's ok.

Oh , July 5, 2019 at 8:48 am

Sanctions are for OUR profiteers, not their. We impose them so that our corporations and profiteers can benefit from higher blackmark prices. When others cut into the profit it will not be tolerated.

skippy , July 5, 2019 at 7:16 am

I think the glass jaw is appropriate, long time PR machinations are finding it harder to peddle, considering the outcomes, hence the need for rather vulgar public displays of military Sergeant Major marching up and down the field too imbue greatness on the unwashed by proxy whilst swirling down the gurgler.

This is made even more surreal by grandiose gestures of minuscule proportions magnified way beyond their scope in the big scheme of things sans a modern news cycle.

For some ridiculous reason I keep envisioning all the new data on shipwrecks during the east indies company era and the findings .. silly me

Stephen Haust , July 5, 2019 at 7:32 am

I still don't understand why so many "commentators" have to try discussing
important topics without considering basic facts.

There are classes of ships called, for instance, Panamax or now specifically Suezmax.
These are the largest vessels that can transit said canals. The Panama Canal has locks
of a specific size and therefore there is a hard limit. Suezmax is a bit harder to define
because, without locks, it can vary some.

But there is a maximum and at just a first glance this vessel is at least near it.

"Why did the tanker take that giant detour along the African coastline? Because
potential problems were anticipated in the Suez canal." Well, yes. But which problems.
There seem to be many, starting with the fact that the Grace 1 is under the Iranian
flag. But besides that, it is not at all unusual for a vessel of that size to sail around the
Cape. There are many reasons. I, myself, have made a longer passage in a smaller
vessel – 13100 nautical miles from Kharg Island in Iran to New Brunswick
(Irving refinery). Around the Cape. Nobody was particularly surprised.

Reminiscent of all those US "journalists" piling on to an Aeroflot flight to Havana in
search of Edward Snowden. They, and the world, were certain he was aboard, until
the craft flew over downtown Miami.

Synoia , July 5, 2019 at 10:24 am

Cargos are sold and resold in transit, and thus destinatipns change.

I once was on a Tanker destined for Houston. The voyage then became a trip to the Persian Gulf.

Stephen Haust , July 5, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Yes, that would be unusual but according to the articles of engagement
it could happen.

More relevant though is that there are lots of reasons for
a loaded tanker to take an indirect route not necessarily having
much to do with the ownership of the cargo. The "tanker trackers"
don't seem to be unduly surprised by the itinerary. Happens every
day.

Incidentally, I was once on a tanker sailing from Providence, RI
with orders to "steam due south until you hear from us". That could
have led to some interesting results. In the event, however, we
ended up in India after a change in engagements. The return leg
of that voyage was the 13100 mile passage I mentioned earlier.
Another time I thought I was going somewhere in the Caribbean and
ended up on a circumnavigation. Hey, it's normal. Let's not get too
excited about somebody who wants to go around the Cape instead
of risking Suez.

By the way, my experiences all occurred under the US flag so why
try to find some strange dirt on the Iranians when they are only
doing what everybody else does.

Stephen Haust , July 5, 2019 at 7:38 am

Well, maybe Panamanian flag. But please, folks, can't we just "engage
brain before operating mouth".

Amusingly here CNN has outpaced NC in the field of journalistic accuracy.
They went and asked somebody who might know a little.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/04/uk/tanker-syria-gibraltar-intl-gbr/index.html

Awww! Them sneaky bastards.

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2019 at 10:30 am

I don't think that you get it. The US seized a North Korean ship a few weeks back and now the US had the UK seize an Iranian ship on 'suspicions'. Do you really want to see an international situation for trade where ships can be seized as political pawns and sold? Or maybe airplanes as well? The big insurance companies certainly want to know. The Iranians are saying that they now have the right to seize a British ship in retaliation. Will the Brits sell that captured ship? Will they sell the oil aboard or take it back to the UK for their own use? Do we really want to see a widespread return to Prize Laws again?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prize_(law)

a different chris , July 5, 2019 at 7:52 am

Can we give you some sort of award for admitting you made a mistake with your first post, and then admonishing us to "engage brain before operating mouth" ?

I mean that is a classic.

sierra7 , July 5, 2019 at 5:22 pm

"Game of Thrones" LOL!! The more time changes the more it stays the same!
It's "piracy" if "they" do it to us (or our co-conspirators); it's "legal sanctions" if we do "it" to "them".

What a farcical, lying, two-faced world we live in!

Mike , July 5, 2019 at 8:44 am

There should have a new slogan for this international cabal -- "Strength through Chaos". To be precise, OUR strength through THEIR chaos.

Has this been the "plan" for this period since the end of World War Two? Even if it is not a "conspiracy", but rather a "concatenation of interests", what difference does this terminology make to those suffering the boot heel?

JCC , July 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm

You could safely leave out anywhere in the Americas, I think, after reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman . Less bombs, same benevolent results. The US/Mexican Border comes to mind, filled with refugees from Guatemala and Honduras.

Neither the Reagan Years (and those years before) nor the Obama Years have been a picnic for many that live anywhere in CA (other than possibly CR and Panama). Not that most of those running those countries are in any way innocent, particularly those that we funneled arms and money to.

ex-PFC Chuck , July 5, 2019 at 11:36 am

". . but for the most part, the U.S. was fairly benevolent and . .

I suggest you read yesterday's post entitled, " Michael Hudson Discusses the IMF and World Bank: Partners In Backwardness ." That may lead to your rethinking the excerpt quoted above.

John Merryman. , July 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

The term, "ugly Americans" is fairly old.

Synoia , July 5, 2019 at 10:30 am

Cargos are sold and resold in transit, and thus destinatipns change.

I once was on a Tanker destined for Houston. The voyage then became a trip to the Persian Gulf.

Ignacio , July 5, 2019 at 11:08 am

I very much agree with Illargi on this. Nothing good can come from the "heroic" seizure of the tanker. Mission accomplished: we are more idiotic every passing day.

rjs , July 5, 2019 at 1:44 pm

re: Why did the tanker take that giant detour along the African coastline?

in case anyone else has not yet noted it, super tankers, VLCCs that can carry as much as 2 million barrels, cannot get through the Suez canal, which is limited to oil tankers in the aptly named "Suezmax" class, less than half that size

Tim , July 5, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Yeah this is not a well educated writer. Contradicts his own story at one point, and no the US can't afford to get into a major war,but that does mean they lose either, the other side would still lose more.

Tyronius , July 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm

The winds change are blowing, indeed. Is that the fog of war on the horizon, or the smokestacks of progress? Neither is good for the environment but as they say, fight one battle at a time.

America's War On Terror has long since become the War OF Terrorism and it's good to see the rest of the world has not only caught on but is doing something about it. Great Britain went quietly and prospered. Will America do the same or will it struggle against the inevitable? I suspect a bit of both. We do love to kill poor innocent brown people, after all. It's what we're best at.

Time to find another line of work. Surely we can find something more productive to do?

RBHoughton , July 5, 2019 at 9:32 pm

The war on terror is a war on non-combatants. Its western terrorists, spooks and soldiers, against Asian terrorists, Muslims.The other form of terrorism against non-combatants is nuclear war – that's when the military attacks civilian targets like we did in WWII in Hamburg and Dresden and Tokyo but using more destructive ordinance.

Can we say, in light of the regular failures of our initiatives overseas, that we the people are expecting something that is not intended. We imagine war is fought to achieve unconditional surrender and bring the humiliated enemy to our feet begging for life but perhaps these attacks in the Middle East and North Africa are not for a military victory at all but to take away the natural resources of those countries, using the fog of war to conceal our purpose?

Oregoncharles , July 6, 2019 at 12:20 am

The purpose, and effect, of empire is theft.

Eclair , July 6, 2019 at 6:44 am

Putting that on my approved list of bumper stickers. Or, maybe sticking it on the bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

[Jul 06, 2019] >China calls Trump's bluff; Trump blinks on sanctions threat - caucus99percent

Jul 06, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

China calls Trump's bluff; Trump blinks on sanctions threat

span ed by gjohnsit on Fri, 07/05/2019 - 4:37pm

Trump made it perfectly clear: No one will buy Iranian oil and still do business with America. That includes China .

Two Trump administration officials said on Friday that neither a wind-down period nor a short-term waiver on China's oil purchases from Iran are being contemplated after Washington surprised Iran's customers on Monday by demanding they halt the purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.
The administration has been clear to China, Iran's top oil consumer, about no additional waivers to the sanctions after the ones granted last November, one of the senior officials said.

No additional waivers. No wind-down period.
It's clear and final.

Do you know who else is clear and final? China .

China is buying Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions and providing what Tehran hopes will be a financial lifeline for the country's buckling economy.

Although Beijing customs data show crude purchases from Iran are down month-on-month, China is still importing Tehran's oil despite US measures designed to cut exports to "zero".

Last week the Chinese received their first delivery of an Iranian oil cargo since the Trump administration in May scrapped exemptions on Iranian sanctions.

So Trump is a big, tough, strongman. So what do you think he's going to do when he's challenged?
He's going to fold .

But according to three U.S. officials, the department's Iran czar, Brian Hook, and his team of negotiators have discussed granting China a waiver to a 2012 law intended to kneecap the Iranian oil industry. The alternative is allowing China, which recently welcomed a shipment of approximately a million barrels of Iranian oil, openly to defy U.S. sanctions.
...
The 2012 Iran Freedom and Counterproliferation Act targeted the Iranian shipping, shipbuilding and energy sectors, requiring states or companies that wish to import Iranian oil and conduct business with the U.S. to obtain waivers from the U.S. government. A separate law targeted purchases, rather than imports of that oil.

Officials say the State Department is discussing an arrangement that would allow China to import Iranian oil as payment in kind for sizable investments of the Chinese oil company Sinopec in an Iranian oil field -- and administration officials have offered to issue a waiver for the payback oil in official correspondence between the State Department and Sinopec, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The waiver is merely a face-saving measure. China is going to continue to defy the sanctions one way or another.
And if China gets a waiver then India will too.
As it stands, India has halted buying Iranian oil, but that has just pushed them into buying more Russian oil .

[Jul 05, 2019] Who are the arsonists of the petrol tankers in the Gulf, by Manlio Dinucci

Notable quotes:
"... The control of the energy corridors is of capital importance. By accusing Iran of attempting to " interrupt the flow of oil through the Straights of Hormuz ", Mike Pompeo announced that " the United States will defend freedom of navigation ". In other words, he has announced that the United States want to gain military control of this key area for energy supplies, including for Europe, by preventing above all the transit of Iranian oil (to which Italy and other European countries cannot in any case enjoy free access because of the US embargo). ..."
"... Natural gas might also have arrived directly in Italy from Russia, and from there be distributed to other European countries with notable economical advantages, via the South Stream route through the Black Sea. But the pipeline, already in an advanced stage of construction, was blocked in 2014 by the pressure of the United States and European Union itself, with heavy prejudice for Italy. ..."
"... In fact it was the reproduction of North Stream which continued, making Germany the centre of triage for Russian gas.. Then, on the basis of the " USA/EU strategic cooperation in the energy field " agreement stipulated in July 2018, US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU tripled. The triage centre was in Poland, from which was distributed the " Freedom Gas " which also arrived in Ukraine. ..."
"... Washington's objective is strategic – to hurt Russia by replacing Russian gas in Europe with US gas ..."
"... So what does Matteo Salvini have to say about all that? When he arrived in the " greatest democracy in the Western world ", he proudly declared - " I am part of a government which in Europe is no longer satisfied with breadcrumbs " ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.voltairenet.org

Manlio Dinucci invites us to take a step back. He replaces the sabotage of these petrol tankers, for which Washington accuses Teheran, in the context of the global energy policy of the United States. By doing so, he demonstrates that, contrary to appearances, Mike Pompeo is not targeting Iran, but Europe.

While the United States prepared a new escalation of tension in the Middle East by accusing Iran of attacking petrol tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Italian vice-Prime Minister Matteo Salvini met with one of the artisans of this strategy in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, assuring him that " Italy wants to regain its place as the major partner on the European continent of the greatest Western democracy ". Thereby he has allied Italy with the operation launched by Washington.

The " Gulf of Oman affair " , a casus belli against Iran, is a carbon copy of the " Gulf of Tonkin affair " of 4 August 1964, itself used as a casus belli to bomb North Vietnam, which was accused of having attacked a US torpedo boat (an accusation which was later proved to be false).

Today, a video released by Washington shows the crew of an alleged Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the hull of a petrol tanker in order to conceal its origin (because the mine would allegedly have borne the inscription " Made in Iran ").

With this " proof " - a veritable insult to our intelligence - Washington is attempting to camouflage the goal of the operation. It is part of the strategy aimed at controlling the world reserves of oil and natural gas and their energy corridors [ 1 ]. It is no coincidence that Iran and Iraq are in US crosshairs. Their total oil reserves are greater than those of Saudi Arabia, and five times greater than those of the United States. Iranian reserves of natural gas are approximately 2.5 times those of the USA. Venezuela finds itself targeted by the USA for the same reason, since it is the country which owns the greatest oil reserves in the world.

The control of the energy corridors is of capital importance. By accusing Iran of attempting to " interrupt the flow of oil through the Straights of Hormuz ", Mike Pompeo announced that " the United States will defend freedom of navigation ". In other words, he has announced that the United States want to gain military control of this key area for energy supplies, including for Europe, by preventing above all the transit of Iranian oil (to which Italy and other European countries cannot in any case enjoy free access because of the US embargo).

Low-cost Iranian natural gas might also have reached Europe by way of a pipeline crossing Iraq and Syria. But the project, launched in 2011, was destroyed by the USA/NATO operation to demolish the Syrian state.

Natural gas might also have arrived directly in Italy from Russia, and from there be distributed to other European countries with notable economical advantages, via the South Stream route through the Black Sea. But the pipeline, already in an advanced stage of construction, was blocked in 2014 by the pressure of the United States and European Union itself, with heavy prejudice for Italy.

In fact it was the reproduction of North Stream which continued, making Germany the centre of triage for Russian gas.. Then, on the basis of the " USA/EU strategic cooperation in the energy field " agreement stipulated in July 2018, US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU tripled. The triage centre was in Poland, from which was distributed the " Freedom Gas " which also arrived in Ukraine.

Washington's objective is strategic – to hurt Russia by replacing Russian gas in Europe with US gas. But we have no guarantees, neither on the price, nor on the time-scale for US gas extracted from the bituminous shale by the technique known as fracking (hydraulic fracturation), which is disastrous for the environment.

So what does Matteo Salvini have to say about all that? When he arrived in the " greatest democracy in the Western world ", he proudly declared - " I am part of a government which in Europe is no longer satisfied with breadcrumbs ". Manlio Dinucci

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Source
Il Manifesto (Italy)

[Jul 04, 2019] Daesh oil vs Iran oil

Jul 04, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jul 4 2019 18:20 utc | 29

SyrianaAnalysis founder Kevork Almassian spins the tanker arrest thusly:

"While #ISIS was stealing the Syrian oil & selling it to #Turkey, the so-called #US led coalition (#UK included) against Daesh wasn't interested in stopping the theft of #Syria's oil.

"But today the UK stopped an oil tanker delivering energy to the Syrian people."

Quite witty, IMO. Note the EU-3 all supported the terrorist invasion of Syria, the destruction of Libya, and NATO's accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism.

Pompeo's new slogan: Terrorism daily baby!


james , Jul 4 2019 17:10 utc | 11

Spain's caretaker Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the British targeted the tanker on a request from the US. He added that Spain, which considers the waters off Gibraltar as its own, was assessing the implications of the operation.

Iran has reportedly acknowledged ownership of the cargo. Its foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to protest the "unlawful seizure of the Iranian tanker," according to the IRNA news agency.

According to Reuters, the MT Grace 1 has been used by Iran in the past to ship crude to Singapore and China in defiance of unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran by the US. The current trip allegedly started in Iran's port of Bandar Assalyeh, thought the papers state that the crude was loaded in the Iraqi port of Basra.

In seizing the tanker under the pretext of sanctions on Syria, the EU seems to be at least partially siding with Washington, which is trying to cripple the Iranian economy through harsh economic sanctions. The pressure campaign was escalated after the US broke its commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

"Maybe the EU was trying to show that it was siding with the Americans, playing its part in anti-Iranian policy? We know that the Trump administration has been critical of the European countries," Ali Rizk, a Middle East-based journalist and writer, told RT.

"And it's likely a demonstration against Syria. It all helps an ongoing plan of parting Syria with its allies."

https://www.rt.com/news/463379-iran-crude-tanker-gibraltar/

Ant. , Jul 4 2019 17:13 utc | 12

@1 Allegedly(?), this oil tanker sailed from Basra in Iraq (not Iran) and remarkably went around Africa rather than sail through the Suez, and further it allegedly also turned it's transponder off(?)... as usual, we'll have to wait for real facts to emerge. It's still quite unusual to intercept an oil tanker so blatantly when much more nefarious shipments are going on.

Seems to me certain western governments do whatever they want, and no longer care about international legalities.

gzon , Jul 4 2019 17:28 utc | 18

Grace1 tanker was being tracked for a long time

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-sanctions-oil-exclusive/exclusive-how-iran-fuel-oil-exports-beat-u-s-sanctions-in-tanker-odyssey-to-asia-idUSKCN1R10G9

is from three months ago.

She is now Panama flagged (presumably) Russian owned

IMO number 9116412
Name of the ship GRACE 1
Type of ship CRUDE OIL TANKER
MMSI 355271000
Gross tonnage 156880 tons
DWT 273769 tons
Year of build 1997
Builder HYUNDAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES - ULSAN, SOUTH KOREA
Flag PANAMA
Class society LLOYD'S SHIPPING REGISTER
Manager & owner RUSSIAN TITAN SHIPPING LINES - DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Former names MERIDIAN LION until 2013 Mar
OVERSEAS MERIDIAN until 2011 Jun
MERIDIAN LION until 2006 Feb

The reason for holding the ship is given as breaking EU sanctions on Syria. Not JCPOA related (in principle).

Here is a short but incomplete primer on Gibraltar territorial waters. The even more extreme Spanish view is that only the port is Gibraltarian, or simply that Gibraltar is Spanish.

https://www.quora.com/As-Gibraltar-is-surrounded-by-Spanish-waters-can-Spain-block-any-ship-coming-from-or-to-Gibraltar


gzon , Jul 4 2019 17:48 utc | 23

Just to note Grace1 is anchored off the south east of Gibraltar, within the 3 mile Gibraltar limit now, I don't know if she was stopped inside that zone, or why she would venture into that 3 mile zone. In short it will be important to know what position she was when boarded, the only info I have is that she veered hard to port into the Gibraltar 3 mile limit, but am not sure if before or after being boarded. The Spanish government has said it tolerates Gibraltar "acting in its waters" in this case because the action was based on EU sanctions.

[Jul 01, 2019] On Friday, Russia signalled its commitment to secure Iran's oil and banking sectors, should the EU's INSTEX clearing mechanism not be working effectively by July 7

Jul 01, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Trump's Iran Policy Dangerously Flawed Assumptions, With No Plan 'B' by Alastair Crooke

Ultimately, Trump will find himself in a corner in which he never wished to find himself: It may already be too late. He is there.

Professor Russell-Mead tells us "that the key to the president's Iran policy is that his nose for power [and Trump is a keen judge of power, R-M insists] is telling him Iran is weaker, and the US stronger than the foreign-policy establishment believes What Mr. Trump wants is a deal with Iran that matches his sense of the relative power of the two countries " (emphasis added).

"At the level of public diplomacy, [Trump] is engaging in his standard mix of dazzle and spin[turning American politics into the Donald Trump Show, with the country and the world fixated on his every move, speculating feverishly about what will come next, R-M suggests] And at the level of power politics he is steadily and consistently tightening the screws on Iran: arming its neighbors and assuring them of his support, tightening sanctions, and raising the psychological pressure on the regime.

"Mr. Trump well understands the constraints under which his Iran policy is working. Launching a new Middle East war could wreck his presidency. But if Iran starts the war, that's another matter. A clear Iranian attack on American or even Israeli targets could unite Mr. Trump's Jacksonian base like the attack on Pearl Harbor united America's Jacksonians to fight Imperial Japan."

Russell-Mead's analysis probably has it right. But there is more to it than that: Trump's approach is based on some further underlying key assumptions: Firstly, that, with the Iranian economy tanking, and inflation soaring (Trump repeats this unfounded assertion frequently), the Iranian revolutionary system will either implode, or approach Washington, on its knees, asking for a new nuclear deal.

Two: Trump can afford to wait out this impending implosion, and just lever up the economic pressures in the meanwhile. Three: Trump claims that a war with Iran would be short: "I'm not talking boots on the ground," he said . "I'm just saying if something would happen, it wouldn't last very long". And four: Trump said, (and appears to believe), that he wouldn't need an "exit strategy" in the event of a war with Iran, which suggests that he may really think that the war would be limited to a brief air campaign, and then it would be over.

What to say? Well, only that all of these assumptions are almost certainly wrong – and, as Daniel Larison in The American Conservative notes , "if the US president thinks that a war with Iran "wouldn't last very long," he is probably going to be more willing to start it. Iran hawks are already predictably emphasizing that attacking Iran wouldn't be like Iraq or Afghanistan, and they are saying that in part to overcome Trump's apparent reservations about getting bogged down in a protracted conflict". Iran indeed would not be like Afghanistan or Iraq, but in an entirely different way to that claimed by the hawks.

Well, Iran will not be imploding economically: On Friday, Russia signalled its commitment to secure Iran's oil and banking sectors, should the EU's INSTEX clearing mechanism not be working effectively by 7 July (when Iran's window to Europe on this issue closes). Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that Moscow is ready to help Iran export its crude and ease restrictions on its banking system should Europe fail to make INSTEX a viable mechanism. China too, has stated that "normal energy dealings" with Tehran are in accordance with law, and should be respected. The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran said this week that Iran has "climbed past the peak of sanctions. Our oil exports are on the rise", Hemmati said .

If the 'implosion hypothesis' is flawed, so too is the claim that Iran will come begging for a new nuclear deal from Mr Trump. Here, by way of illustration, is the (Iranian) account of what the Supreme Leader said to Prime Minister Abe:

"During the meeting with Abe Shinzo (on 13 June), the latter told Ayatollah Khamenei that "I would like to give you a message from the President of the United States".

"Ayatollah Khamenei responded by pointing to the US ingenuity and untrustworthiness, and argued, "We do not doubt your [Abe's] sincerity and goodwill. However, regarding what you mentioned about the President of the US, I do not consider Trump as a person worth exchanging any message with and I have no answer for him, nor will I respond to him in the future ."

"[But] what I am going to say, is said to you as the Japanese Prime Minister, and because we consider Japan a friend of ours

"Ayatollah Khamenei noting Shinzo's assertion that the US intends to prevent Iran's production of nuclear weapons said, "We are opposed to the nuclear weapons and my religious Fatwa bans production of nuclear weapons; but you should know that if we intended to produce nuclear weapons, the US could do nothing; and its non-permission [would] not be any obstacle."

"The Supreme leader, in response to the message that "the United States is not after regime change in Iran", insisted that "Our problem with the United States is not about regime change. Because even if they intend to pursue that, they won't be able to achieve it When Trump says that he is not after regime change, it is a lie. For, if he could do so, he would. However, he is not capable of it."

"Ayatollah Khamenei similarly referred to the Japanese prime minister's remarks regarding the United States' request to negotiate with Iran about the nuclear issue, and said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran negotiated for 5 to 6 years with the United States and the Europeans -- the P 5+1 -- which led to an agreement. But the United States disregarded and breached this definite agreement. So, does common sense permit negotiations with a state that has thrown away everything that was agreed upon?"

"He pointed to the forty years of hostility that the US has showed to the Iranian nation and its continued hostility, and said, "We believe that our problems will not be solved by negotiating with the US, and no free nation would ever accept negotiations under pressure."

And 'pressures' are precisely what the US is adding: i.e. increasing pressures, rather than easing them – which stands probably as the sine qua non to resuming negotiations with Iran. But then Trump holds to the view that America is entitled – by virtue of its greater power – to negotiate with others only when the counterparties are under 'maximum pressure'. Plainly, he has not been briefed well on the Iranian history of stoically enduring far worse and violent cataclysms. Nor, that Iranians can draw on a stratum of spiritual resilience from the narrative of Imam Hussein at times of crisis.

How so? The notion of an 'Iran on the cusp of collapse' is a meme being peddled by various disgruntled Iranian exiles, and by the MEK, as well as by prominent hawks in the US. But equally – and importantly, given Trump's own family predilections – this narrative of 'just one push' and the Iranian Revolution 'is over' is being constantly urged by Netanyahu. (Other Israelis are not so happy at their PM's open and avid support for Trump's policy on Iran – recalling how Israel (and Netanyahu) were accused of having pushed for the 2003 Iraq war).

So. If the assumption that Iran will either collapse, or capitulate under economic pressure, is false; and that the presumption that 'no exit strategy' is required, because Iran is weak and the US is militarily strong (implying that a short, quick air strike would settle matters) – is similarly flawed, where then are we headed?

If these underlying assumptions continue to pass without serious challenge, then, as time passes, Iran will neither have imploded, nor capitulated, as presaged; but rather, it will have continued to send calibrated, incrementally ascending 'messages' to demonstrating the potential costs of pursuing such a policy – with the pain being experienced principally by those US allies who continually advocate for harsh US 'measures' against Iran.

Ultimately, Trump will find himself in a corner in which he never wished to find himself: It may already be too late. He is there. Either having to react militarily to Iranian 'messages', with all the potential for asymmetric Iranian counterstrikes and ratchetting escalation: A prospect from which instinctively he recoils, because he fears this route of indecisive military tit-for-tat may not play out well for him in terms of the 2020 elections. And even could risk his Presidency.

Or, a humiliating, concessionary journey of return into a process closely mirroring the (despised) JCPOA – whatever be its new name: And hope to call the defeat as 'victory'.

Quite possibly, President Putin may have it in mind to lay out some of this prospective landscape when he met with Trump at Osaka. We probably won't be told. We'll never know.

[Jun 30, 2019] Aggressive US Lies and Misleads to Justify War on Iran by William Boardman

Notable quotes:
"... The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests. ..."
"... Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown. ..."
"... Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began: ..."
"... He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. ..."
"... Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. ..."
"... There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack ..."
"... Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise: ..."
"... The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

-- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcement , June 13, 2013

The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests.

Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown.

First, what actually happened, as best we can tell five days later? In the early morning of June 13, two unrelated tankers were heading south out of the Strait of Hormuz, sailing in open water in the Gulf of Oman, roughly 20 miles off the south coast of Iran. The tankers were most likely outside Iran's territorial waters, but within Iran's contiguous zone as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea . At different times, some 30 miles apart, the two tankers were attacked by weapons unknown, launched by parties unknown, for reasons unknown. The first reported distress call was 6:12 a.m. local time. No one has yet claimed responsibility for either attack. The crew of each tanker abandoned ship soon after the explosions and were rescued by ships in the area, including Iranian naval vessels, who took the Front Altair crew to an Iranian port.

Even this much was not certain in the early afternoon of June 13 when Mike Pompeo came to the lectern at the State Department to deliver his verdict:

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.

Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began:

This assessment is based on intelligence .

He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. After intelligence, Pompeo continued:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used .

Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. He went on:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation

The "level of expertise needed" to carry out these attacks on a pair of sitting duck tankers does not appear to be that great. Yes, the Iranian military probably has the expertise, as do the militaries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, or others with a stake in provoking a crisis in the region. And those who lack the expertise still have the money with which to hire expert surrogates. The number of credible suspects, known and unknown, with an interest in doing harm to Iran is easily in double figures. Leading any serious list should be the US. That's perfectly logical, so Pompeo tried to divert attention from the obvious:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping .

There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack. The one example was the May 12, 2019, attack on four ships at anchor in the deep water port of Fujairah. Even the multinational investigation organized by the UAE could not determine who did it. The UAE reported to the UN Security Council that the perpetrator was likely some unnamed "state actor." The logical suspects and their surrogates are the same as those for the most recent attack.

Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

The whole proxy group thing is redundant, covered by "the level of expertise needed" mentioned earlier. Pompeo doesn't name any proxy group here, he doesn't explain how he could know there's no proxy group that could carry out such an attack, and he just throws word garbage at the wall and hopes something sticks that will make you believe – no evidence necessary – that Iran is evil beyond redemption:

Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.

The attacks in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all been provoked by the US and its allies. The US has long been a clear threat to international peace and security, except when the US was actually trashing peace and security, as it did in Iraq, as it seems to want to do in Iran. There is, indeed, "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension," but it's a campaign by the US. The current phase began when the Trump administration pulled out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran. The US wages economic warfare on Iran even though Iran continues to abide by the Trump-trashed treaty. All the other signatories and inspectors confirm that Iran has abided by the agreement. But Iran is approaching a point of violation, which it has been warning about for some time. The other signatories allow the US to bully them into enforcing US sanctions at their own cost against a country in compliance with its promises. China, Russia, France, GB, Germany, and the EU are all craven in the face of US threats. That's what the US wants from Iran.

Lately, Trump and Pompeo and their ilk have been whining about not wanting war and claiming they want to negotiate, while doing nothing to make negotiation more possible. Iran has observed US actions and has rejected negotiating with an imperial power with a decades-long record of bad faith. Lacking any serious act of good faith by the US, does Iran have any other rational choice? Pompeo makes absolutely clear just how irrational, how dishonest, how implacable and untrustworthy the US is when he accuses Iran of:

40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

This is Big Lie country. Forty years ago, the Iranians committed their original sin – they overthrew one of the world's most brutal dictatorships, imposed on them by the US. Then they took Americans hostage, and the US has been playing the victim ever since, out of all proportion to reality or justice. But the Pompeos of this world still milk it for all it's worth. What about "unprovoked aggression," who does that? The US list is long and criminal, including its support of Saddam Hussein's war of aggression against Iran. Iran's list of "unprovoked aggressions" is pretty much zero, unless you go back to the Persian Empire. No wonder Pompeo took no question on his statement. The Big Lie is supposed to be enough.

The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification. Democrats should have objected forcefully and continuously long since. Democrats in the House should have put peace with Iran on the table as soon as they came into the majority. They should do it now. Democratic presidential candidates should join Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren in forthrightly opposing war with Iran. Leading a huge public outcry may not keep the president from lying us into war with Iran any more than it kept the president from lying us into war with Iraq. But an absence of outcry will just make it easier for this rogue nation to commit a whole new set of war crimes.

Intellectually, the case for normal relations with Iran is easy. There is literally no good reason to maintain hostility, not even the possibility, remote as it is, of an Iranian nuclear weapon (especially now that Trump is helping the Saudis go nuclear). But politically, the case for normal relations with Iran is hard, especially because forty years of propaganda demonizing Iran has deep roots. To make a sane case on Iran takes real courage: one has to speak truth to a nation that believes its lies to itself.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News . Read other articles by William .

[Jun 29, 2019] Have You Heard Of The CIA s Iran Mission Center by Vijay Prashad

Notable quotes:
"... To head the Iran Mission Center, the CIA appointed Michael D'Andrea. D'Andrea was central to the post-9/11 interrogation program, and he ran the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Assassinations and torture were central to his approach. ..."
"... What is germane to his post at the Iran Mission Center is that D'Andrea is close to the Gulf Arabs, a former CIA analyst told me. The Gulf Arabs have been pushing hard for action against Iran, a view shared by D'Andrea and parts of his team. For his hard-nosed attitude toward Iran, D'Andrea is known -- ironically -- as "Ayatollah Mike." ..."
"... D'Andrea and people like Bolton are part of an ecosystem of men who have a visceral hatred for Iran and who are close to the worldview of the Saudi royal family . These are men who are reckless with violence, willing to do anything if it means provoking a war against Iran. Nothing should be put past them. ..."
"... D'Andrea's twin outside the White House is Thomas Kaplan, the billionaire who set up two groups that are blindingly for regime change in Iran. The two groups are United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and Counter Extremism Project. There is nothing subtle here. These groups -- and Kaplan himself -- promote an agenda of great disparagement of Muslims in general and of Iran in particular. ..."
"... It is fitting that Kaplan's anti-Iran groups bring together the CIA and money. The head of UANI is Mark Wallace, who is the chief executive of Kaplan's Tigris Financial Group, a financial firm with investments -- which it admits -- would benefit from "instability in the Middle East." Working with UANI and the Counter Extremism Project is Norman Roule, a former national intelligence manager for Iran in the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ..."
"... These men -- Kaplan and Bolton, D'Andrea and Shihabi -- are eager to use the full force of the U.S. military to further the dangerous goals of the Gulf Arab royals (of both Saudi Arabia and of the UAE). When Pompeo walked before cameras, he carried their water for them. These are men on a mission. They want war against Iran. ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Vijay Prashad via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

In 2017, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created a special unit -- the Iran Mission Center -- to focus attention on the U.S. plans against Iran . The initiative for this unit came from CIA director John Brennan, who left his post as the Trump administration came into office. Brennan believed that the CIA needed to focus attention on what the United States sees as problem areas -- North Korea and Iran, for instance. This predated the Trump administration.

Brennan's successor -- Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director for just over a year (until he was appointed U.S. Secretary of State) -- continued this policy. The CIA's Iran-related activity had been conducted in the Iran Operations Division (Persia House). This was a section with Iran specialists who built up knowledge about political and economic developments inside Iran and in the Iranian diaspora.

It bothered the hawks in Washington -- as one official told me -- that Persia House was filled with Iran specialists who had no special focus on regime change in Iran. Some of them, due to their long concentration on Iran, had developed sensitivity to the country.

Trump's people wanted a much more focused and belligerent group that would provide the kind of intelligence that tickled the fancy of his National Security Adviser John Bolton .

To head the Iran Mission Center, the CIA appointed Michael D'Andrea. D'Andrea was central to the post-9/11 interrogation program, and he ran the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Assassinations and torture were central to his approach.

It was D'Andrea who expanded the CIA's drone strike program, in particular the signature strike. The signature strike is a particularly controversial instrument. The CIA was given the allowance to kill anyone who fit a certain profile -- a man of a certain age, for instance, with a phone that had been used to call someone on a list. The dark arts of the CIA are precisely those of D'Andrea.

What is germane to his post at the Iran Mission Center is that D'Andrea is close to the Gulf Arabs, a former CIA analyst told me. The Gulf Arabs have been pushing hard for action against Iran, a view shared by D'Andrea and parts of his team. For his hard-nosed attitude toward Iran, D'Andrea is known -- ironically -- as "Ayatollah Mike."

D'Andrea and people like Bolton are part of an ecosystem of men who have a visceral hatred for Iran and who are close to the worldview of the Saudi royal family . These are men who are reckless with violence, willing to do anything if it means provoking a war against Iran. Nothing should be put past them.

The initiative for this unit came from CIA director John Brennan, who left his post as the Trump administration came into office. Getty Image.

D'Andrea and the hawks edged out several Iran experts from the Iran Mission Center, people like Margaret Stromecki -- who had been head of analysis. Others who want to offer an alternative to the Pompeo-Bolton view of things either have also moved on or remain silent. There is no space in the Trump administration, a former official told me, for dissent on the Iran policy.

Saudi Arabia's War

D'Andrea's twin outside the White House is Thomas Kaplan, the billionaire who set up two groups that are blindingly for regime change in Iran. The two groups are United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and Counter Extremism Project. There is nothing subtle here. These groups -- and Kaplan himself -- promote an agenda of great disparagement of Muslims in general and of Iran in particular.

Kaplan blamed Iran for the creation of ISIS, for it was Iran -- Kaplan said -- that "used a terrible Sunni movement" to expand its reach from "Persia to the Mediterranean." Such absurdity followed from a fundamental misreading of Shia concepts such as taqiya, which means prudence and not -- as Kaplan and others argue -- deceit. Kaplan, bizarrely, shares more with ISIS than Iran does with that group -- since both Kaplan and ISIS are driven by their hatred of those who follow the Shia traditions of Islam.

It is fitting that Kaplan's anti-Iran groups bring together the CIA and money. The head of UANI is Mark Wallace, who is the chief executive of Kaplan's Tigris Financial Group, a financial firm with investments -- which it admits -- would benefit from "instability in the Middle East." Working with UANI and the Counter Extremism Project is Norman Roule, a former national intelligence manager for Iran in the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Roule has offered his support to the efforts of the Arabia Foundation, run by Ali Shihabi -- a man with close links to the Saudi monarchy. The Arabia Foundation was set up to do more effective public relations work for the Saudis than the Saudi diplomats are capable of doing. Shihabi is the son of one of Saudi Arabia's most well-regarded diplomats, Samir al-Shihabi, who played an important role as Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Pakistan during the war that created al-Qaeda.

These men -- Kaplan and Bolton, D'Andrea and Shihabi -- are eager to use the full force of the U.S. military to further the dangerous goals of the Gulf Arab royals (of both Saudi Arabia and of the UAE). When Pompeo walked before cameras, he carried their water for them. These are men on a mission. They want war against Iran.

Evidence, reason. None of this is important to them. They will not stop until the U.S. bombers deposit their deadly payload on Tehran and Qom, Isfahan and Shiraz. They will do anything to make that our terrible reality.

This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

[Jun 29, 2019] EU Busts Iran Sanctions. Dollar No Longer Reserve for Oil Trades caucus99percent

Notable quotes:
"... India pays Iran for oil in gold. Europe would be smart to convert to the Yuan/gold convertible bond as a trading currency to use with Iran, and hold reserves in that. It's redeemable for gold at many settlement banks around the world. It was designed as a trading currency to use outside the SWIFT system. All the groundwork was painstakingly laid just for this purpose. ..."
"... Food for oil. What an insult. Europe wants it both ways. They should grow up and start leading the world instead of hiding behind Uncle Sams petticoat. ..."
"... Iran's main demand in talks aimed at saving its nuclear deal is to be able to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord a year ago, an Iranian official said on Thursday. ... ..."
"... Trump is a bull in a china shop. Someone will have to pick up the pieces and it won't be the one percent. YOU and I are expendable. ..."
"... Iran's main demand in talks aimed at saving its nuclear deal is to be able to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord a year ago, an Iranian official said on Thursday. ... ..."
"... Senior officials from Iran and the deal's remaining parties will meet in Vienna on Friday with the aim of saving the agreement. But with European powers limited in their ability to shield Iran's economy from U.S. sanctions it is unclear what they can do to provide the large economic windfall Tehran wants. ..."
Jun 28, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

leveymg on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 4:41pm In a surprise move, the EU special purpose vehicle for trade with Iran (INSTEX) exercised its first trade today. The body was set up to facilitate exports of Iranian oil without U.S. dollars, avoiding a sanctions regime imposed unilaterally by the U.S.

Instex is now operational despite U.S. threats to European banks and officials of reprisal sanctions if they violated Iran sanctions.

Bloomberg had reported on May 7 the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, issued a warning letter that Instex and anyone associated with it could be barred from the U.S. financial system if it goes into effect.

In defiance of U.S. pressure, Instex was set up by EU diplomats in January as a means to prevent total collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The first official trades occurred today, in the shadow of the Group of 20 Summit meeting. https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/eu-claims-iran-deal-held-togethe...

A senior EU diplomat has said the first transactions were being made by a special purpose vehicle for trade with Iran at a meeting of the remaining members of the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna.

Friday's meeting in Vienna featured "constructive discussions," Helga Schmid, the head of the EU diplomatic service said, confirming the entity, named Instex, was making its first transactions.

"INSTEX now operational, first transactions being processed and more EU Members States to join. Good progress on Arak and Fordow [fuel enrichment] projects," she posted.

The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (Instex) is designed to facilitate trade of essential goods, such as food and medicine, mainly from the EU to Iran. A Chinese official said Beijing was open to using the facility.

The platform has been set up in France, with a German managing director in a coordinated European effort to counterbalance the US economic power displayed by its sanctions policy.

President Donald Trump last year pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.

According to today's report:

As the talks kicked off on Friday, seven EU nations expressed support for Instex and the JCPOA, asking Iran "to abide by and fully respect the terms and provisions of the nuclear agreement".

"We are working with France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as with the European External Action Service and the European Commission, to establish channels to facilitate legitimate trade and financial operations with Iran, one of the foremost of these initiatives being the establishment of Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges," read the statement from Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Whether the declaration of support and first tranche of transactions will be enough to keep Iran committed to the 2015 nuclear deal is still in question.

leveymg on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 6:07pm
Here's more on how INSTEX works free from Dollar exchange

@Linda Wood

While major US media have so far ignored the story (anyone here surprised?), Deutsch Weldt (DW) confirms the report that INSTEX started operations today. https://www.dw.com/en/eu-mechanism-for-trade-with-iran-now-operational/a...

A linked background article explains how the special exchange will bypass U.S. sanctions and the U.S. currency controls over oil exports to Europe: https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-eu-taking-a-stand-through-legal-trading-wi...

Crucial for INSTEX's success will be whether participating states also develop mechanisms for European companies and their employees that protect them from the expected American sanctions and compensate for any damages incurred. The legislative instrument for this exists: The EU's blocking statute. It just needs to be updated to meet the new requirements.

Read more: US welcomes German firms' compliance on Iran sanctions

International transactions independent of the dollar

The knowledge and experience gained in the process could later be transferred to other areas, such as European initiatives in international monetary transactions. This expertise could then come in handy for establishing payment channels independent of the American financial system and the dollar, which the US also uses as a lever in its sanctions policy.

Two pieces of good news in two days, Tulsi Gabbard winning acknowledgement and respect in the debate, and this encouraging sign from Europe. A person could almost get used to thinking common sense is gaining ground. Thank you, leveymg, for posting this.

wendy davis on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 6:36pm
thanks for bringing

this news. earlier today (yesterday?) i'd grabbed this link at RT.com that includes this baffling part toward the end, with zero citation, i'll add:

"However, the EU's efforts to set up the long-promised payment channel have not satisfied Tehran. Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Moussavi called INSTEX a " faux thing of no practical use ," according to Iranian media.

He later said that if this turns out to be the case, the Islamic Republic will not accept it and may change its commitments under the nuclear deal that Brussels is trying to hold on to."

i do remember tehran had complained earlier (as the EU dithered) that it wasn't operational, and when it was so, it would mainly be for medicines and...food (?)

leveymg on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 9:50pm
If this is another Oil for Food thing, it's a nonstarter.

@wendy davis

Right now, it's unclear which way this is going to go. If Europe bows to American power, again, it will turn out very badly for everyone. Iraq times ten.

this news. earlier today (yesterday?) i'd grabbed this link at RT.com that includes this baffling part toward the end, with zero citation, i'll add:

"However, the EU's efforts to set up the long-promised payment channel have not satisfied Tehran. Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Moussavi called INSTEX a " faux thing of no practical use ," according to Iranian media.

He later said that if this turns out to be the case, the Islamic Republic will not accept it and may change its commitments under the nuclear deal that Brussels is trying to hold on to."

i do remember tehran had complained earlier (as the EU dithered) that it wasn't operational, and when it was so, it would mainly be for medicines and...food (?)

Pluto's Republic on Sat, 06/29/2019 - 2:25am
India has been trading with Iran

@wendy davis

...just fine. India pays Iran for oil in gold. Europe would be smart to convert to the Yuan/gold convertible bond as a trading currency to use with Iran, and hold reserves in that. It's redeemable for gold at many settlement banks around the world. It was designed as a trading currency to use outside the SWIFT system. All the groundwork was painstakingly laid just for this purpose.

Food for oil. What an insult. Europe wants it both ways. They should grow up and start leading the world instead of hiding behind Uncle Sams petticoat.

[edited to correct]

this news. earlier today (yesterday?) i'd grabbed this link at RT.com that includes this baffling part toward the end, with zero citation, i'll add:

"However, the EU's efforts to set up the long-promised payment channel have not satisfied Tehran. Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Moussavi called INSTEX a " faux thing of no practical use ," according to Iranian media.

He later said that if this turns out to be the case, the Islamic Republic will not accept it and may change its commitments under the nuclear deal that Brussels is trying to hold on to."

i do remember tehran had complained earlier (as the EU dithered) that it wasn't operational, and when it was so, it would mainly be for medicines and...food (?)

joe shikspack on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 9:20pm
this is excellent news ...

i'll throw in this bit that i read today which i think might make this a breakthrough:

'We only want to sell our oil,' Iran official says before nuclear talks

Iran's main demand in talks aimed at saving its nuclear deal is to be able to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord a year ago, an Iranian official said on Thursday. ...

Senior officials from Iran and the deal's remaining parties will meet in Vienna on Friday with the aim of saving the agreement. But with European powers limited in their ability to shield Iran's economy from U.S. sanctions it is unclear what they can do to provide the large economic windfall Tehran wants.

"What is our demand? Our demand is to be able to sell our oil and get the money back. And this is in fact the minimum of our benefit from the deal," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "We are not asking Europeans to invest in Iran... We only want to sell our oil."

The Voice In th... on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 10:15pm
Be careful what you wish for.

@joe shikspack
Doing all oil business in dollars is the only thing holding up the dollar.

Trump is a bull in a china shop. Someone will have to pick up the pieces and it won't be the one percent. YOU and I are expendable.

i'll throw in this bit that i read today which i think might make this a breakthrough:

'We only want to sell our oil,' Iran official says before nuclear talks

Iran's main demand in talks aimed at saving its nuclear deal is to be able to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord a year ago, an Iranian official said on Thursday. ...

Senior officials from Iran and the deal's remaining parties will meet in Vienna on Friday with the aim of saving the agreement. But with European powers limited in their ability to shield Iran's economy from U.S. sanctions it is unclear what they can do to provide the large economic windfall Tehran wants.

"What is our demand? Our demand is to be able to sell our oil and get the money back. And this is in fact the minimum of our benefit from the deal," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "We are not asking Europeans to invest in Iran... We only want to sell our oil."

[Jun 27, 2019] US sanctions against Iran amount to an act of war

Jun 27, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Scott Randall21 hours ago • edited

"...as Stratfor, put it, "Trump, fearing a much bigger escalation, got cold feet."

One is reminded of the scene from Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), a General in the Joint Chiefs comments disparagingly about Kennedy for keeping his finger "on the chicken switch" with regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Lyndon Johnson in the White House with Henry Cabot Lodge in 1963 declares: "Gentlemen, I want you to know I'm not going to let Vietnam go the way China did. I'm personally committed. I'm not going to take one soldier out of there 'til they know we mean business in Asia (he pauses) You just get me elected, and I'll give you your damned war ."

animalogica day ago
Another question exists: should the US resist the allure of military action against Iran, what can Iran do?
US sanctions against Iran amount to an act of war. Iran can bust sanctions up to some point -- but for how long? Will Iran suffer half a million dead children & elderly people as Iraq did in the 90's ? SHOULD Iran have to suffer such a criminally imposed loss of life?
Where is the way out of this insanity?
Iran won't negotiate with the US for the very good reason that the US clearly wants to sterilize Iranian sovereignty (ie the US won't accept ANY Iranian missiles -- that is, Iran has no right to self defense).
Sad to say, Trump does not need to launch military action against Iran, merely continue to economically terrorise Iran until it has NO choice but to initiate military action against its tormentors.
Ahson3 days ago
Trump being a demented fool that he is now says this:

https://www.presstv.com/Det...

This shows the deep divisions within the imperialist elites on what to do about Iran. They don't have a real plan. Just making it up as they go along.

Ahson3 days ago
The war on Iran will continue till kingdom come, until it falls. Its clear as day that both Russia and China back their Iranian allies against US provocations. China hasn't flinched under US threats to embargo Iranian crude, and continues to purchase it, and Russia has an oil swap agreement with Iran, where it buys Iranian oil and sells it as Russian on the international market. This must be a severe irritation to the imperialists in Washington and London as it renders their Iran sanctions regime practically toothless.

https://www.tasnimnews.com/...

Nobody should be surprised when the next US provocation unfolds, yet again taking us to the brink of disaster.

Ahson3 days ago • edited
Iranian fishermen are finding parts of the CIA drone exposing the lie that the drone was in 'international airspace':

https://www.presstv.com/Det...

Ahson3 days ago • edited
The imperialists are not backing down in their quest for subduing Iran. Seems like the idea here is to put as many large ships in harms way as possible....and provoke Iran to attack one of these......This will ensure the probability of miscalculation and/ or accidents becomes almost unavoidable. There must be regime change in Tehran, on the road to Beijing and Moscow:

https://sputniknews.com/mil...

John Upton • 3 days ago
Iran has every right to defend itself from US imperialisms constant violence, as is the case with China and Russia. It is also pleasing to see the almighty war machine get a bloody nose.

But we should never lose sight of the fact that it is always the working class that suffers the most in terms of death, injuries and destitution.
End all wars!
End production for profit and the Nation state upon which it is built!

John Upton • 3 days ago
America's history demonstrates that loss of (foreign) life is of little concern to those in power.
The Manhattan Project was established, and mightily financed because of reasonably well established fears that Nazi Germany was on track to build its own A-bombs.
With the defeat of Germany that fear was gone. Nevertheless, knowing full well that Imperial Japan had no such program, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vapourised. A clear demonstration that they, atomic weapons, WMD, worked and a warning to the Soviet Union that it too could be annihilated.
Robert Oppenheimer and others refused to take part in building an H-bomb for class and humane reasons. This fell on Truman's deaf ears.
American Imperialism is indifferent to death and destruction of billions.
As WSWS has stated, Trumps announcement that the loss of 150 Iranian lives is the the reason he pulled backs so much bilge.
FireintheHead3 days ago • edited
Trump is in a catch 22. When push has come to shove , he simply cannot sell another war to the US working class, and he knows it , and he's been well and truly spooked by the Iranian response.

All the US garbage of itself as ''victim'', all the 'good cop bad cop' routines are wearing thin. Nobody is buying it anymore , especially from a gangster.

Perhaps a predicted massive spike in global temperatures will clear out the collective cobwebs further.

Gracchus3 days ago
Good point about the possibility of Iran sinking a carrier. The Chinese have developed advanced anti-ship weapons that, if the results of a RAND corporation war game can be believed, will be able to neutralize carriers. This highlights the fact that, whatever the salesmen of advanced weaponry might say, it will not win wars alone. All of the smart weapons in the world have not ended the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan in the favour of American imperialism.

We can see an historical precedent in the British development of the dreadnought, the modern battleship, in the arms race that preceded WWI. Dreadnoughts were supposed to be the decisive super weapons of the day, but the British and German battle fleets remained in their moorings for most of the war for fear that these expensive ships would fall prey to torpedos. The sinking of the HMS Formidable in 1915 is a case in point. The only major engagement between dreadnoughts was at Jutland and it was inconclusive.

For all of the contemporary bluster about super weapons and the fetishism of smart bombs and cyber weapons, they will not decisively win a war alone. As in the world wars of the last century, the bourgeoisie will be forced to mobilize society for a war. This will mean bringing the working class - against its will - into the maelstrom.

Gracchus3 days ago • edited
Yet again the WSWS demonstrates the incredible foresight and clarity of Marxist analysis. I would like to extend my thanks to Comrade Andre and the editors of the WSWS for their indefatigable efforts to impart Marxist consciousness to the masses. For all of the naysayers who have attacked the WSWS as "sectarian" or as not involved in "practical work," need we point to anything other than the WSWSs explanation of the connection between eruption of American imperialism and the decline of the productive forces of that nation state? That analysis has placed the WSWS in the position of being better prepared politically for the consequences of war than the imperialists, as the latest farce in the Middle East demonstrates.

A quote from Trotsky will further emphasize my point:

"We will not concede this banner to the masters of falsehood! If our generation happens to be too weak to establish Socialism over the earth, we will hand the spotless banner down to our children. The struggle which is in the offing transcends by far the importance of individuals, factions and parties. It is the struggle for the future of all mankind."

The spotless banner is in good hands.

Robert Seaborne Gracchus3 days ago
thank you Gracchus,
for your inspiring comment, I couldn't agree more with it.
dmorista3 days ago • edited
The official story, as usual, is a bunch of hooey. Trump wouldn't bat an eye over the death of 150 Iranians. In addition to the worries about losing an aircraft carrier: the military high command probably let him know that the much vaunted, and outlandishly expensive, force of F-35s, will quickly lose its effectiveness if exposed to probing by the high tech radars the Russians have developed, and that are used in conjunction with at least the S-400 antiaircraft and antimissile defense system. So the question is, if the stealth advantage of the F-35 is only good for a limited time, is this particular geostrategic confrontation worth using up that particular asset??

Then there is the whole question of whether the Iranians would close the Straits of Hormuz in response to a major air raid on their nuclear facilities; this leads to some much more important issues. Despite the blathering about "international waters" and "freedom of navigation" the facts are that the Straits of Hormuz are only 21 miles wide. So all the water in them is either in Iranian territory to the north or Omani to the south. They would be entirely within their rights, as elucidated in the International Law of the Sea, to close the straits after some sort of military strike against them (for what that is worth, which is something at least as far as public opinion outside of the U.S. is concerned). The Iranians have stated that if and when they close the straits they will announce it publicly, no subterfuge or secret operations will be involved.

Since nearly 30% of the World's oil moves through those straits cutting them off will cause an immediate spike in oil prices. Prices of $100 - $300 a barrel would be reached within a few days. If the Straits of Hormuz were closed for a longer period we could easily see prices rise to $1,000 a barrel according to Goldman Sachs projections (see Escobar article cited below). Anything over $150 a barrel would trigger an economic, industrial, and financial crisis of immense proportions around the world. The financial and speculative house of cards, that the ruling classes of the U.S.-led Finance Capital Bloc depends on for their dominance of world capital and markets, would likely come tumbling down. The amount of derivatives that are swirling about the planet and that are traded and created constantly is estimated to be from $1.2 - $2.5 Quadrillion. That's right from $1,200 - $2,500 Trillion or $1,200,000 - $2,500,000 Billion {remember Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, who once said "a billion here and a billion there and first thing you know, You're talking BIG MONEY!!} (See "World Derivatives Market Estimated As Big As $1.2 Quadrillion Notional, as Banks Fight Efforts to Rein It In", March 26, 2013, Yves Smith, "Naked Capitalism", at < https://www.nakedcapitalism... >, and "Iran Goes for 'Maximum Counter-pressure' ", June 21, 2019, Pepe Escobar, "Strategic Culture Foundation", at < https://www.strategic-cultu... >, and "Global Derivatives: $1.5 Quadrillion Time Bomb", Aug 24, 2015, Stephen Lendman, Global Research, at
< https://www.globalresearch.... >). Just like during the 2007 - 2008 crisis the various elements of shadow banking, and speculation would collapse. Remember that total world production of and trade in actual products is only about about $70 - $80 Trillion, or perhaps less than 1/31st the size of the Global Derivatives markets.

All the world's elite capitalists, be they Western or Asian or from elsewhere, maintain homes in numerous places. One reason for this is so they have somewhere to go, if they need to flee from environmental and/or socioeconomic disaster and the resultant chaos in their primary place of residence. As we move ever deeper into this extremely severe and ongoing Crisis of Capitalism, these issues will continue to become more acute.

So we can rest assured that; in addition to the crazed war-mongers Bolton and Pompeo (and their supporters and backers) whispering in Trump's ear to "go ahead and attack the Iranians"; and in addition to the somewhat more sober counsel of General Dunford and other members of the top military command; that titans of finance capital were undoubtedly on the phone warning "Bone-Spur Don" that his digs in Manhattan and Florida might not be entirely safe if the worst were to happen in response to a military strike. The absurd story of Don worrying about 150 Iranians is so ludicrous that it did not even pass the smell test with the corporate controlled media for very long.

Irandle dmorista2 days ago
Oil reached $147 a barrel in 2007-08. That caused the so-called Great Recession.

As WSWS has pointed out there are few if any US options left but war.

Charlotte Ruse3 days ago
"Thirty years of endless war have created a veritable cult of militarism within the American ruling elite, whose guiding assumption seems to be that wars can be waged without drastic global consequences, including for the United States itself."

The military/security surveillance state is a trillion dollar enterprise that instigates conflicts to expand its profits. Militarism works hand-in-hand with the neoliberal corporatists who deploy the military to secure natural resources, wage slaves, and geostrategic hegemony. It should be noted, that the US imperialist agenda left unhindered after the dissolution of the Soviet Union only intensified.

However, in order for the US ruling class to achieve the "ultimate goal" of unilateral hegemony in the Middle East the military must confront Iran a powerful sizable country with economic and political ties to China and Russia. This is the dilemma confronting the warmongering psychopaths
who are influenced by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

A significant military attack against Iran will NOT go unanswered and if the Iranian Military destroys a US warship and kills hundreds of sailors it would unleash another major war in the Middle East igniting the entire region and possibly leading to a world war.

What should traumatize the US population and awaken them from their hypnotic warmongering stupur created by propaganda proliferated on FOX, MSNBC, and CNN is that the United States came within minutes of launching a war whose military consequences it had NOT seriously examined.

John Hudson3 days ago
There's a rumour going around that in preparation for the strike the US launched a massive cyber attack on Iran's air defence - and failed.
Ahson John Hudson3 days ago
Its no rumor:

https://sputniknews.com/mid...

Sebouh803 days ago
In light of these dangerous events it is obvious that a faction of the American ruling class circles including Trump were not prepared to face the consequences of a strike against Iran. That is precisely why Trump aborted the mission last Friday. Just yesterday Trump himself admitted for the first time that if it was up to John Bolton then we would be fighting the whole world. Today Pompeo has been sent to Middle East to broaden his alliance with Gulf Monarchical regimes most notably Saudi Arabia and UAE. It is aimed to prepare the ground for possible confrontation with Iran.
kurumba Sebouh802 days ago
Trump's comment re Bolton that the US "would fight the whole world" sums up what the US is really about. Take it from me, The US hates virtually every country save one: Israel. Illegal US Sanctions regimes now extend to almost 50% of the world's population. The US does not even like the advanced countries such as Europe and Japan. They tolerate them because of diplomatic support and large investment and trade ties. Outside that they have no affinity or connection. Until we all realise the true nature of The US and its exclusive cultural mindset [NFL, NBA, MLB etc etc], populations will merely continue to enable the US to attack and sanction everybody and anyone of their demented choosing. The tragedy is that if the other countries became united and were committed to ending this US terror by eg dumping the US Dollar as international reserve currency and sanctioning all US corporations, the US would face severe turmoil and its reign of endless terror brought to a sudden end.
Popart 20153 days ago • edited
"The strikes were called off at the last moment, amid deep divisions at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon over the consequences -- military, diplomatic and political -- of what would likely be the single most dangerous and reckless action of the entire Trump presidency."

I believe things simple didn't go as planned as an airplane was threatened to be taken down. Bolton was in Israel after that to most likely assure Netanyahu that a new attack would be conducted, Bolton Warned Iran Not to 'Mistake U.S. Prudence and Discretion for Weakness'...

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Ahson3 days ago • edited
There needs to be a correction in the article on the older Raad system not having been used but instead the newer, 'Third of Khordad' system which brought down the MQ-4C Triton. Pictures/ Info on the Third of Khordad reveals that it is in effect an Iranian version of the Soviet Buk-M2 of the MH-17 downing fame which the western backed Kiev junta used from its hand me down Soviet weapons arsenal, to shoot down the ill fated Malaysian Airliner over the Ukraine. The system also is stark evidence of the close defense relationship between the Russians and the Iranians, confirming the suspicions in the west that whatever weaponry Putin transfers to Syria or Iraq is by default also available to Iran.
Andy Niklaus3 days ago
Great Perspective again to build antiwar movement in the global workingclass!
Ahson3 days ago • edited
Not to be outdone by his failure to bring Iran to its knees, Trump ordered a massive cyber attack on Iran's missile batteries and its command and control centers after rescinding the military order to physically attack Iran for downing the drone. The Iranians today announced the failure of this desperate US cyber attack:

https://www.presstv.com/Det...

This is in addition to the CIA placing an agent within the Iranian oil ministry for conducting sabotage. She has been arrested and faces the death penalty for espionage:

https://www.tasnimnews.com/...

The deep State in the US will not stop trying to subdue Iran until it capitulates. Iran must fall to Washington in order for the US to effectively counter and sabotage both Putin's Eurasian Integration and president Xi's BRI projects.

imaduwa3 days ago
Trump's alterration at this moment can be due to Iran's internal coherence against American imperialism. With santions being reinforced, one can anticipate more and more impovershment and quality of life geting lower unabated to the point that the basis for internal coherence gets eroded substantially. We saw working class uprisings in Iran recently and leadership accused imperialist as rabble-rousers to find a way out.That is why we need building SEP/IYSSE in Iran to hatch revolutionary force in Iran for Iran to join the peer in the rest of the world. Morsi in Egypt was overthrown by Sisi with the backing of US imperialism headed by Obama at that time. So is the imperialism and it will continue to work to weaken Iran as a force successfully confronting imperialism in the middle east currently. Let us therefore empower international working class to empower it to overthrow imperialism on one hand and Stalinism on the other hand. Russia too depend largely on its arms sale to maintain its economy. But human needs, not wepons, but basic needs including clean environment. Long live the socialist revolution in Iran and internationally. Death to imperialism. Thank you comrade Andre Damon.
jet1685 • 3 days ago
"The strikes were called off at the last moment, amid deep divisions at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon over the consequences -- military, diplomatic and political -- of what would likely be the single most dangerous and reckless action of the entire Trump presidency."
Economically it would be Armageddon. Although some think America does not rely on Mideast oil, the world economy does and America is a part of that despite what nationalists dream. Bolton is making threats from Israel and clearly some believe they stand to gain from war but militarily too it would be Armageddon. The Pentagon would answer the sinking of a carrier by nuking Iran to preserve American "credibility" i.e. fear. China and Russia would have to react, China at least to keep its oil supplied. India pushed against China could add more mushroom clouds not to mention Pakistan. Israel itself with Tel Aviv bombarded from Lebanon and maybe invaded unable to stop this might nuke Lebanon and maybe Tehran if any of it remains and Damascus besides. Just as ww1 started because military train timetables had to be followed there are nukewar plans in Washington, Moscow, and Beijing that won't take long. So world workers need to start our plan before others begin. Preemptive general strikes, antiwar and socialist revolutionary agitation and propaganda within imperialist rank and files and human blockades of war material networks should happen at an early date like now. Now also WikiLeaks should put out whatever it hasn't while people exist to read it. The rich are determined to kill Assange anyway and full wartime censorship is not far off.
erroll jet16853 days ago • edited
Some people have speculated that if the U.S. does attack Iran then Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia's oil fields which will then send oil prices skyrocketing to $130 dollars a barrel. The article also notes that:

"While Trump's foreign policy team -- headed by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- 'unanimously' supported the attack, General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'cautioned about the possible repercussions of a strike, warning that it could endanger American forces,' the Times wrote."

Apparently the good general cannot get too worked up at the sight of thousands and thousands of Iranian children, women, and old men who would be slaughtered and grievously wounded by U.S. bombs and the water supply which would be contaminated when those bombs would land at a nuclear power plant. But these horrific actions by the United States are of no consequence because, as Madeline Albright observed on a television a few decades ago, the deaths of a half million Iraqi children by the U.S. was worth it. It would appear that the lives of foreigners are of little consequence to those who are in power. Threatening to start a war against another country for the most specious of reasons is simply another reason why a malignant narcissist like Trump needs to be removed from office as quickly as possible. Or perhaps Trump believes that the best way to improve his low poll numbers is to start dropping 500 lb. bombs on a country which does not in any remote way pose a threat to the United States.

"Almost all propaganda is designed to create fear. Heads of governments and their officials know that a frightened people is easier to govern, will forfeit rights it would otherwise defend, is less likely to demand a better life, and will agree to millions and millions being spent on 'Defense'."-John Boynton Priestly [1894-1984], English writer

"Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god."-Jean Rostand [1894-1977], French philosopher and biologist

лидия3 days ago
When a FOX-news man is the most sane voice in USA foreign policy (regarding aggression against Iran and Venezuela) - it is the real madness!
лидия3 days ago
After Hezballah had booted Zionist colonizers out of Lebanon, Zionist apartheid had lost its image of "invincibility".
Now even ghetto Gaza is fighting back.
Irandle3 days ago
Spies? What is that in reference to?
Gerry Murphy Irandle3 days ago • edited
The CIA payrolled press whores like CNN's Christiane Amanpour for example a prime warmonger and there are countless others embedded in every western media source.
Ahson Gerry Murphy3 days ago
Ironically, Amanpour is Iranian background, an avowed revolution hater and a devoted Iranian Pahlavi monarchist. She's on the record for saying that she wants to see the Shah's exiled son back on the throne in Iran, serving US imperialism for the 'benefit of the Iranian nation'.
The Top-Hatted Commie3 days ago
The sinking of an aircraft carrier, especially one as well known as the USS Lincoln, would have been one of the biggest PR disasters for both Trump and the military. It probably would have sparked demands from the people to know how, despite pouring trillions of dollars into the mouths of greedy defense contractors for decades, a supposedly inferior military could so easily take down one of our ships.
piet The Top-Hatted Commie3 days ago
Khrushchev once said of the Sverdlov class cruisers built in the early 1950's that their only practical purpose was as targets for anti ship missile training because of how outdated they where considering they where armed with guns.

Maybe the anti-ship missile now stands at the point where it can make carriers obsolete similar to how the battleship was made obsolete by the carrier.

Robert Buell Jr piet3 days ago
There are some who argue that surface navies became obsolete in the 1950's with the advent of long range missiles. For many years now, China has been helping to build up Iranian area defences...

https://www.mei.edu/publica...

Ahson The Top-Hatted Commie3 days ago • edited
Cold war weapons are unsuitable for countering Iran's asymmetric warfare doctrine. A dozen or two highly advanced US warships are no match for a thousand missile boats and thousands of Iranian anti-ship missiles in the narrow confines of the shallow gulf.
Corwin Haught3 days ago • edited
Minutes or hours, or Trump never signed on to them, as the accounts from different US media outlets and Trump have differed at several points. Fog of war indeed.

[Jun 27, 2019] Dem candidates has roundly criticized Trump for his approach to Iran. Many of the leading candidates said last week's military confrontation spawned from a crisis of the president's own making, precipitated by his withdrawal from that landmark accord.

That's good line of attack on Trump. People do not want yet another war and they are against overinflated military expenditures. and Trump essentially behaves like a rabid subservant to Israel neocon in those area. So he might share the Hillary destiny in 2020
Jun 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Don Bacon , Jun 27, 2019 12:15:59 AM | 106
The Dem debaters want the failed JCPOA back, except one wants a more punitive one. So it's Obama/Trump redux with all of them, worthless people. We're less safe with Iranians . . .under the bed!

McClatchy

Klobuchar said that Trump's strategy on Iran had "made us less safe," after debate moderators took note of increased military tensions in the Strait of Hormuz last week. Washington has accused Iran of targeting shipping vessels, and Tehran acknowledged it shot down an unmanned U.S. drone on Thursday, nearly prompting Trump to order a retaliatory military strike. The 2015 nuclear deal "was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment," Klobuchar stated, characterizing the agreement's "sunset periods" – caps on Iran's enrichment and stockpiling of fissile material set to expire five to 10 years from the next inauguration– as a potential point of renegotiation.

The Democratic field has roundly criticized Trump for his approach to Iran. Many of the leading candidates said last week's military confrontation spawned from a crisis of the president's own making, precipitated by his withdrawal from that landmark accord.

But up until now, the Democratic candidates have not specified how they would salvage a deal that continues to fray – and that may collapse completely under the weight of steadily broadening U.S. sanctions by the time a new president could be sworn in.

Few Democrats had thus far hedged over adopting the agreement entirely should they win the presidency even if the deal survives that long. Leading candidates have characterized the nuclear agreement as "imperfect" and in need of "strengthening," suggesting subtle distinctions within the field over the potential conditions of U.S. re-entry into a pact. . . here


I've got a deal for them to salvage, get off your GD pedestals and say hello to the real world! . . .There, I feel better now.

[Jun 27, 2019] Short US-Iran war 'an illusion', Zarif tells Trump USA News Al Jazeera

Jun 27, 2019 | www.aljazeera.com

Iran's foreign minister has dismissed US President Donald Trump 's claim that a war between their countries would be short-lived, as Washington sought NATO's help to build an anti-Tehran coalition.

"'Short war' with Iran is an illusion," Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Thursday, a day after Trump said he did not want a war with Iran but warned that if fighting did break out, it "wouldn't last very long".

Tehran has accused the United States of "economic terrorism" and "psychological warfare" over the Trump administration's application of punishing sanctions after the US president last year unilaterally withdrew Washington from an historic nuclear deal with world powers. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

In his Twitter post, Zarif said the reimposed and tightened US sanctions "aren't an alternative to war - they are war".

[Jun 27, 2019] Iran Hawks Want to Create an Even Bigger Crisis by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Iran hawks want to force Iran out of the deal to give them a pretext for conflict. These waivers are their latest target because without them other governments may be leery of cooperating on the nuclear projects that give Iran an incentive to remain in the deal. Iran has very few reasons to remain in the deal at this point, and canceling the waivers would likely be the last straw. This is what Bolton and his allies have been working towards all along. When the waivers came up for renewal this spring, the administration extended them, but now there is a real danger that they won't do that again. The last time this came up, Jarrett Blanc explained why extending the waivers is the obviously correct thing to do: ..."
"... Canceling the waivers would be another escalation by the Trump administration, and it would almost certainly prompt Iranian countermoves to further reduce or end their compliance with the deal. The Iran hawks in the administration may think they want a bigger crisis with Iran, but they may not like it when they get one. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Politico reports that the most rabid Iran hawks in the Senate and inside the administration are pushing to cancel the remaining waivers that enable international cooperation on civilian nuclear projects in Iran. Their explicit goal is to destroy the last pieces of the deal that the U.S. hasn't directly attacked yet.

The report has some interesting details, but the framing of the debate is awful:

Proponents of the nuclear deal have argued that the international nuclear projects facilitated by the waivers help give the U.S. greater visibility and intelligence into Iranian activities; critics say they give an international stamp of approval to Iran's illicit activities.

This is a great example of how ostensibly "neutral" reporting favors the side acting and arguing in bad faith. What "illicit activities" are supported by these waivers? There aren't any. The report makes it sound as if there are two equally valid, competing positions, but one of them is completely false. The hawks' objections to them have nothing to do with opposition to "illicit activities" and everything to do with their hatred for the deal. The activities that the waivers facilitate are endorsed by the JCPOA and a U.N. Security Council resolution.

They cannot be illicit because they are entirely consistent with Iran's obligations and international law. The U.S. has been providing these waivers up until now because of the obvious nonproliferation benefits that everyone derives from the deal, and the people that want to end the waivers are doing so because they don't care about nonproliferation.

Iran hawks want to force Iran out of the deal to give them a pretext for conflict. These waivers are their latest target because without them other governments may be leery of cooperating on the nuclear projects that give Iran an incentive to remain in the deal. Iran has very few reasons to remain in the deal at this point, and canceling the waivers would likely be the last straw. This is what Bolton and his allies have been working towards all along. When the waivers came up for renewal this spring, the administration extended them, but now there is a real danger that they won't do that again. The last time this came up, Jarrett Blanc explained why extending the waivers is the obviously correct thing to do:

Failing to renew the waivers would be indefensible. The fact that there is even an internal debate is illuminating: At least some Trump advisors want a crisis with Iran, and the sooner the better.

Withdrawing waivers for civil nuclear cooperation may sound less aggressive than steps like the overhyped Guard Corps designation, but it is one of the most dangerous steps the administration has left, threatening the international nuclear cooperation that is Iran's only remaining practical benefit from the deal.

Canceling the waivers would be another escalation by the Trump administration, and it would almost certainly prompt Iranian countermoves to further reduce or end their compliance with the deal. The Iran hawks in the administration may think they want a bigger crisis with Iran, but they may not like it when they get one.

[Jun 27, 2019] Iranian viewpoit in MoA blog

Jun 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Capt. Abdul Hassan , Jun 26, 2019 8:10:38 PM | 79

You Americans are for the most part cluelss.

Very few Americans have any realisation at all (certainly non that I have spoken to below the rank of Army Colonel or Navy Captain anyway) that a war with Iran will leave 100s of thousands if not millions of Americans dead, many capital ships at the bottom of the Gulf and the Med (think hard about how that will happen in the Med), and the US a broken 3rd world nation, if the states even stay together to maintain a 'US'.

You need to realise that the middle east (to include Cyprus and Turkey) will be cut off to you. No resupply, no support, no evac. There will be no troops left in the middle east to bring home after a few days of fighting exhaust all ammp and supplies and all positions are then overun or destroyed.

Every last troop in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan will be wiped out, and there will be no way at all of deploying any more troops (think why).

The shock to the weak American Psyche will be amplified by assymetrical spec ops / gorrilla warefare in every US city.

To begin with there will be gas station fires and power line cuts in every US town and city, followed by bridge collpases, interstate highway failures, railroad failures and then destruction, food and medical warehouse fires, forest fires, container port sabotage, cell phone and radio tower destruction, water mains destruction, sewage mains destruction, and of course contamination of water reservoirs - all of which are very simple and easy assymetrical attacks that can be rolled out nationwide by only by a few hundred well trained individuals (already well embedded).

Add these simple WW2 partisan style acts to other acts of sabotage against fire, ambulance, and police infrastruture (again, all very simple and easy assymetrical attacks) and the worst elements of your own society will continue and further amplify the conflageration.

The cities will implode and feed upon themselves, and when the carnage reaches a platau, or simply a stage that invites escalation, then the next phase begins - think MANPADS at every airport to bring down all relief flights and national guard units, ATGMs and HMG against military and police units, snipers against any opertunistic target - anywhere at any time.

There are further steps which I wont describe lest it give certain people ideas, but in the space of just 2 weeks the entire US could brought to its knees and made to realise that every nation on the earth, except the us, hates war and tries to avoid it.

If the US people think they can nuke Iran, kill millions more muslims, and then go back to watching the ball game they should think again.

The Iranians (and Russians and Chinese too) have been planning for a war with the US for decades.

The Iranians know full well that their cities will be nuked, but the Iranians believe the US is the embodyment of Satan (and they have lots of evidence to suggest this is indeed true) so they will fight without regard to life, to pain and to massive losses.

They, and there allies will utterly wipe out ever last US military unit in the middle east and bring the Continental US to its knees in ways few can yet imagine.

Yes, Iran will be glass, but the US will be ashes, or at least no longer a us - as much a victim of its own complexity and ignorance as any missiles or explosives used by Iranian spec ops.

A war with Iran will be the last war the US ever fights. It may 'win' but at what cost.


Don Bacon , Jun 26, 2019 9:34:15 PM | 86

@ Capt. Abdul Hassan 76
Thank you for that, very insighful, perhaps a little over the top, but right on.
Sunny Runny Burger , Jun 27, 2019 10:59:29 AM | 139
Don Bacon I think you're right and in addition the amendment won't matter because the exceptions are so encompassing nearly anything goes.

I'm going to crosspost the scenario (all I posted was the scenario, not the stuff afterwards):

1. US false flags in Iranian vicinity.
2. US military deaths due to provoked Iranian action.
3. US limited strikes.
4. US false flag Iranian dirty bomb in US city using surplus enriched material bought from Iran.
5. US submits evidence of Iranian nuclear attack in UNSC.
6. US attacks Iran using nuclear weapons.

A few (?) didn't buy 1 but the US got stuck on 2 so far and might get stuck on 3 as well.

How can one make 4 fail except to talk about it so people have a chance to think of it as a possibility when it happens?

5 is for "perception" and narrative, it doesn't matter if the UNSC doesn't agree with what the US says or the entire world ridicules the US or if the entire world starts marching like they "magically" and "spontaneously" did before the Iraq war (what was that about? Controlled opposition galore?).

Russia and China are repeatedly telling the US (and everybody else) what 6 will mean.

[Jun 27, 2019] No One Believes the President's War Claims Anymore

Notable quotes:
"... The possibility that the United States might be committing an act of war under false pretenses apparently did little to discourage the president's principal foreign policy advisers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, from pushing a military response. Tehran's action was presented as raw aggression, an act of war that deserved retaliation. ..."
"... The president apparently complained to a close associate, "These people want to push us into a war, and it's so disgusting." According to The Wall Street Journal , he further opined, "We don't need any more wars." He's right. But then why has Trump chosen to surround himself with advisers apparently so at variance with his views? ..."
"... Iran is preparing to breach the limits established by the agreement because Washington repudiated it . It is evident that the president doesn't understand the JCPOA or the nuclear issue more generally. ..."
"... Moreover, though he is focused on nuclear issues, his appointees have been demanding far more of Tehran, forestalling negotiations. For instance, last year, Pompeo ordered Iran to abandon its independent foreign policy and dismantle its missile deterrent, while accepting Saudi and American domination of the region. ..."
"... Pompeo's demands look a bit like the ultimatum to Serbia in June 1914 after a nationalist backed by Serbian military intelligence assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Austrians set only 10, rather than 12, requirements, but they also were intended to be rejected. Vienna explained to its ally Germany that "the possibility of its acceptance is practically excluded." ..."
"... They were living out what Hermann Goering, on trial at Nuremberg, described in a private conversation to an American officer: "voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." Tragically, he's probably right. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

Iran predictably claimed that the drone was within its airspace. American officials asserted that it was in international airspace. Reported by The New York Times :

"a senior Trump administration official said there was concern inside the United States government about whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike."

The point is worth repeating. The military was prepared to blast away when it wasn't even certain whether America was in the right. The episode brings to mind the 1988 shootdown of an Iranian airliner in the Persian Gulf by the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes . Initially the U.S. Navy justified its action, making a series of false claims about Iran Air Flight 655, which carried 290 passengers and crew members. Eventually Washington did admit that it had made a horrific mistake, though the Vincennes captain was later decorated.

The possibility that the United States might be committing an act of war under false pretenses apparently did little to discourage the president's principal foreign policy advisers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, from pushing a military response. Tehran's action was presented as raw aggression, an act of war that deserved retaliation.

The president apparently complained to a close associate, "These people want to push us into a war, and it's so disgusting." According to The Wall Street Journal , he further opined, "We don't need any more wars." He's right. But then why has Trump chosen to surround himself with advisers apparently so at variance with his views?

Presumably the president believes that he can control his war-happy subordinates, using them as he sees fit. However, his overweening hubris ignores their power to set the agenda and influence his choices. Consider the basic question of objectives regarding Iran. Trump now says all he wants to do is keep nukes out of Tehran's hands: "Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon," he intoned after halting the proposed reprisal, adding that "restraint" has its limits. But the nuclear accord was drafted to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapon. Iran is preparing to breach the limits established by the agreement because Washington repudiated it . It is evident that the president doesn't understand the JCPOA or the nuclear issue more generally.

Moreover, though he is focused on nuclear issues, his appointees have been demanding far more of Tehran, forestalling negotiations. For instance, last year, Pompeo ordered Iran to abandon its independent foreign policy and dismantle its missile deterrent, while accepting Saudi and American domination of the region.

These mandates were an obvious non-starter -- what sovereign nation voluntarily accepts puppet status? In fact, Pompeo admitted that he didn't expect Iran to surrender, but instead hoped for a popular revolution. In recently stating that the administration would negotiate without preconditions, he added that Washington expected Iran to act like "a normal nation," meaning behaving just as he'd demanded last year. (Notably, there was no offer for America to act like a normal country.)

Sanctions: Trump's Cruel Substitute for an Actual Iran Policy A Century Later, the Versailles Treaty Still Haunts Our World

Pompeo's demands look a bit like the ultimatum to Serbia in June 1914 after a nationalist backed by Serbian military intelligence assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Austrians set only 10, rather than 12, requirements, but they also were intended to be rejected. Vienna explained to its ally Germany that "the possibility of its acceptance is practically excluded."

Once it became evident that no one would willingly back down and conflict was likely, Germany's Kaiser and Russia's Tsar tried to halt the rush to war. However, they found themselves hemmed in by the war plans created by their nominal subordinates. With Austria-Hungary mobilizing against Serbia, Russia had to act to protect the latter. Germany then faced a two-front war. Thus, to aid its ally in Vienna, the Germans had to mobilize quickly in an attempt to defeat France before Russia could put its massive army into the field. No one had sufficient time for diplomacy.

However, cousins Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas did engage in a last minute "Willy-Nicky" exchange of telegrams. Wilhelm warned Nicholas that general Russian mobilization would require Germany to act, with war the result. In response, the tsar switched from general to partial mobilization. But he was soon besieged by his top officials who insisted that the entire army had to be called up.

Understanding that general mobilization meant war, the tsar observed: "Think of the responsibility you are asking me to take! Think of the thousands and thousands of men who will be sent to their deaths." But he gave in, approving mobilization on the evening of July 30. Nicholas's concern was warranted. More than 1.7 million Russian soldiers, along with hundreds of thousands of civilians, died in the conflict. The ensuing Russian Civil War was even more deadly, indeed far more so for noncombatants, among them the tsar and his family.

Kaiser Wilhelm was equally at the mercy of the "France-first" Schlieffen Plan. To wait would be to invite destruction between the French and Russians, so he approved German mobilization on August 1. He predicted the war would lead to "endless misery," and so it did. In 1918, he was forced to abdicate and he lived out his life in exile.

Pompeo, Bolton, and like-minded officials tried and failed to force another war last week. Next time they may succeed in leaving the president with no practical choice but the one they favor. In which case he will find himself starting the very conflict that he had declared against.

Ongoing administration machinations -- exacerbated by the opportunity to manipulate a president -- offer an important reminder as to the Founders' wisdom. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention made clear their intention to break with monarchical practice, minimizing the president's authority. Congress was assigned the powers to raise armies, decide on the rules of war, issue letters of marque and reprisal, and ratify treaties. Most importantly, the legislative branch alone could declare war.

As commander-in-chief, the president could defend against attack, but he could not even order a retaliatory strike without congressional authority. Wrote James Madison to Thomas Jefferson: "The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature." Delegate James Wilson insisted that the Constitution was intended to "guard against" being hurried into war: "It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress, for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large."

Most important, placing the war power with Congress ensured that the people would be heard. Of course, even that is not enough today. Presidents have adeptly concocted "evidence" and misled the public, such as during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

They were living out what Hermann Goering, on trial at Nuremberg, described in a private conversation to an American officer: "voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." Tragically, he's probably right.

However, the Iraq debacle has resulted in greater skepticism of presidential claims. The Trump administration's unsupported judgment that Iran was behind attacks on oil tankers was greeted at home and abroad with a demand for more evidence. People were conscious of having been repeatedly played by Washington and did not want a repeat. Many found the U.S. government no more trustworthy than Iranian authorities, a humbling equivalence. And given the doubts apparently voiced by Pentagon officials out of public view, such skepticism was well-founded.

Last week, Donald Trump declared, "I want to get out of these endless wars." Unlike his predecessors, the president apparently recognizes the temptation to sacrifice lives for political gain. However, alone he will find it nearly impossible to face down the bipartisan War Party. The best way to get out of endless wars is to not get in them in the first place. And that requires changing personnel and respecting the constitutional limits established by the nation's Founders.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire


Kent 8 hours ago

Unfortunately, the President is attempting to walk a tight-rope between peace and the most prominent funders of the GOP. Sheldon Adelson and his ilk are bent on the destruction of any nation that stands in the way of Israeli expansion. And of course military contractors need constant growth in tax-payer funding to support their margins and shareholder value. Hence the blustering to appease the aforementioned and keep the bribes flowing, while backing down to appease the base.

It would of course be in the interests of the base to oppose the bribe-taking to begin with, but I assume that must be beyond their intellectual capacity. Or perhaps they're simply in favor of it for ideological reasons.

Adriana Pena 14 hours ago
Please stop this "czar good, ministers bad" narrative when discussing Trump standing up to the war party.

Trump hired Bolton
Trump hired Pompeo
Trump made the torturer Gina the head of the CIA

For someone who does not want war, he managed to put war lovers in sensitive posts.

John Michener 15 hours ago
We might as well be honest about it. All politicians over simplify, shade the truth, and occasionally lie. But Trump's falsehoods are so continuous and extensive that there is no reason to believe anything he says - everything needs to be validated against external authorities - which is why he is so intent on tearing down all authorities that could contradict him.
Clyde Schechter 15 hours ago
This is another in the long line of stories we are reading here (and in other places) that Trump really doesn't want to get involved in a war but is being manipulated by Bolton, Pompeo and the national security apparatus. Sorry, but I don't buy it.

Trump hired Bolton and Pompeo. Even somebody as apparently dimwitted as Trump could not possibly have failed to notice that they were warmongers. Indeed, Bolton is probably the most extreme warmonger around: he has an extensive public record of advocating war with Iran for about two decades now. I cannot believe that even Trump was unaware of this. And even if he was, why hasn't he fired them? He doesn't need anybody's permission to do that. Let's get real: Trump is every bit the warmonger as the people he hires. His statements to the contrary are just more additions to his endless string of lies.

What's more, he has another way to avoid being cornered into starting a war. All he has to do in that circumstance is acknowledge that the constitution doesn't grant him that authority and toss the decision making to Congerss, where it legally belongs. But he has done nothing that suggests he acknowledges that constitutional delegation of authority--even though it could provide him a way out if he felt he needed one.

So, no. I don't believe for a minute that Trump wants to avoid war. Actions speak louder than words, especially Trump's words.

JJ 17 hours ago
You're falling for the "official" report that he called off the attack merely because 150 lives were at stake? Since when did he all of a sudden grow a conscious after the inexcusable defense he gave for our irresponsible military and intelligence ventures? He even bypasses Congress itself by his illegal presidential will to give weapons to the SAUDIS. The tyrannical, radical, scourge of humanity tribal savages turned psychopathic oligarchs that is the House of Saud.

Let's be perfectly honest with ourselves, Tucker Carson (a f*cking tv show host of all people) convinced a US president to not commit to another illegal war. Not because lives were at stake, heavens no. It's because going into a disastrous war with Iran would gauruntee his chances of not getting re-elected.

The American government is a living parody with no hope of redemption.

HenionJD 9 hours ago
The President's almost daily outpouring of gibberish gives one little confidence that the notion of 'the truth' holds any importance for him or his crew. Who needs historical precedents to establish a feeling of mistrust when even the simplest statements from the White House are so often needlessly loaded with misapprehensions, distortions and out right BS?
EliteCommInc. 15 hours ago
" He's right. But then why has Trump chosen to surround himself with advisers apparently so at variance with his views?"

I get this, position. You present an incredibly tough front as you press an entirely different goal. The problem is that the president has presented a very tough front himself. So when it appears to to actually be tough, he comes across as "not so much". It even provides opportunity to grand him fearful. In the scenario that I think is being played out or made to appear to play out --- the good cop, the reasonable cop has to sound reasonable all the time. He has to claim to be holding back the forces of evil that threaten to consume the target. But the president has been leading the way as "bad cop" so in the mind the targets, there are no good cops.

But in my view, all of this hoollla baaaloooey about Iran is a distraction to the real threat

the border. And the only common ground to be had is to enforce the law. That is why I think the president is weak. For all of the tough talk --- he folded -- again on immigration. Pretending to get concessions that is by agreement already expected from Mexico is the such naked weakness that launching hypersonic missiles obliterating Tehran would just give him sandals.

Uhhhh, no. I don't regret my vote. And and I still want the wall built and the laws enforced and the sovereignty of the US respected by guests and citizens alike,.

[Jun 27, 2019] Aggressive US Lies and Misleads to Justify War on Iran by William Boardman

Notable quotes:
"... Lately, Trump and Pompeo and their ilk have been whining about not wanting war and claiming they want to negotiate, while doing nothing to make negotiation more possible. Iran has observed US actions and has rejected negotiating with an imperial power with a decades-long record of bad faith. Lacking any serious act of good faith by the US, does Iran have any other rational choice? Pompeo makes absolutely clear just how irrational, how dishonest, how implacable and untrustworthy the US is when he accuses Iran of ..."
"... The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification. Democrats should have objected forcefully and continuously long since. Democrats in the House should have put peace with Iran on the table as soon as they came into the majority. They should do it now. Democratic presidential candidates should join Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren in forthrightly opposing war with Iran ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

-- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcement , June 13, 2013

The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests.

Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown.

First, what actually happened, as best we can tell five days later? In the early morning of June 13, two unrelated tankers were heading south out of the Strait of Hormuz, sailing in open water in the Gulf of Oman, roughly 20 miles off the south coast of Iran. The tankers were most likely outside Iran's territorial waters, but within Iran's contiguous zone as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea . At different times, some 30 miles apart, the two tankers were attacked by weapons unknown, launched by parties unknown, for reasons unknown. The first reported distress call was 6:12 a.m. local time. No one has yet claimed responsibility for either attack. The crew of each tanker abandoned ship soon after the explosions and were rescued by ships in the area, including Iranian naval vessels, who took the Front Altair crew to an Iranian port.

Even this much was not certain in the early afternoon of June 13 when Mike Pompeo came to the lectern at the State Department to deliver his verdict:

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.

Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began:

This assessment is based on intelligence .

He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. After intelligence, Pompeo continued:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used .

Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. He went on:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation

The "level of expertise needed" to carry out these attacks on a pair of sitting duck tankers does not appear to be that great. Yes, the Iranian military probably has the expertise, as do the militaries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, or others with a stake in provoking a crisis in the region. And those who lack the expertise still have the money with which to hire expert surrogates. The number of credible suspects, known and unknown, with an interest in doing harm to Iran is easily in double figures. Leading any serious list should be the US. That's perfectly logical, so Pompeo tried to divert attention from the obvious:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping .

There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack. The one example was the May 12, 2019, attack on four ships at anchor in the deep water port of Fujairah. Even the multinational investigation organized by the UAE could not determine who did it. The UAE reported to the UN Security Council that the perpetrator was likely some unnamed "state actor." The logical suspects and their surrogates are the same as those for the most recent attack.

Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

The whole proxy group thing is redundant, covered by "the level of expertise needed" mentioned earlier. Pompeo doesn't name any proxy group here, he doesn't explain how he could know there's no proxy group that could carry out such an attack, and he just throws word garbage at the wall and hopes something sticks that will make you believe – no evidence necessary – that Iran is evil beyond redemption:

Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.

The attacks in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all been provoked by the US and its allies. The US has long been a clear threat to international peace and security, except when the US was actually trashing peace and security, as it did in Iraq, as it seems to want to do in Iran. There is, indeed, "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension," but it's a campaign by the US. The current phase began when the Trump administration pulled out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran. The US wages economic warfare on Iran even though Iran continues to abide by the Trump-trashed treaty. All the other signatories and inspectors confirm that Iran has abided by the agreement. But Iran is approaching a point of violation, which it has been warning about for some time. The other signatories allow the US to bully them into enforcing US sanctions at their own cost against a country in compliance with its promises. China, Russia, France, GB, Germany, and the EU are all craven in the face of US threats. That's what the US wants from Iran.

Lately, Trump and Pompeo and their ilk have been whining about not wanting war and claiming they want to negotiate, while doing nothing to make negotiation more possible. Iran has observed US actions and has rejected negotiating with an imperial power with a decades-long record of bad faith. Lacking any serious act of good faith by the US, does Iran have any other rational choice? Pompeo makes absolutely clear just how irrational, how dishonest, how implacable and untrustworthy the US is when he accuses Iran of:

40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

This is Big Lie country. Forty years ago, the Iranians committed their original sin – they overthrew one of the world's most brutal dictatorships, imposed on them by the US. Then they took Americans hostage, and the US has been playing the victim ever since, out of all proportion to reality or justice. But the Pompeos of this world still milk it for all it's worth. What about "unprovoked aggression," who does that? The US list is long and criminal, including its support of Saddam Hussein's war of aggression against Iran. Iran's list of "unprovoked aggressions" is pretty much zero, unless you go back to the Persian Empire. No wonder Pompeo took no question on his statement. The Big Lie is supposed to be enough.

The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification. Democrats should have objected forcefully and continuously long since. Democrats in the House should have put peace with Iran on the table as soon as they came into the majority. They should do it now. Democratic presidential candidates should join Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren in forthrightly opposing war with Iran. Leading a huge public outcry may not keep the president from lying us into war with Iran any more than it kept the president from lying us into war with Iraq. But an absence of outcry will just make it easier for this rogue nation to commit a whole new set of war crimes.

Intellectually, the case for normal relations with Iran is easy. There is literally no good reason to maintain hostility, not even the possibility, remote as it is, of an Iranian nuclear weapon (especially now that Trump is helping the Saudis go nuclear). But politically, the case for normal relations with Iran is hard, especially because forty years of propaganda demonizing Iran has deep roots. To make a sane case on Iran takes real courage: one has to speak truth to a nation that believes its lies to itself.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News . Read other articles by William .

[Jun 27, 2019] Who are the arsonists of the petrol tankers in the Gulf by Manlio Dinucci

Notable quotes:
"... The control of the energy corridors is of capital importance. By accusing Iran of attempting to " interrupt the flow of oil through the Straights of Hormuz ", Mike Pompeo announced that " the United States will defend freedom of navigation ". In other words, he has announced that the United States want to gain military control of this key area for energy supplies, including for Europe, by preventing above all the transit of Iranian oil (to which Italy and other European countries cannot in any case enjoy free access because of the US embargo). ..."
"... Natural gas might also have arrived directly in Italy from Russia, and from there be distributed to other European countries with notable economical advantages, via the South Stream route through the Black Sea. But the pipeline, already in an advanced stage of construction, was blocked in 2014 by the pressure of the United States and European Union itself, with heavy prejudice for Italy. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.voltairenet.org

While the United States prepared a new escalation of tension in the Middle East by accusing Iran of attacking petrol tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Italian vice-Prime Minister Matteo Salvini met with one of the artisans of this strategy in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, assuring him that " Italy wants to regain its place as the major partner on the European continent of the greatest Western democracy ". Thereby he has allied Italy with the operation launched by Washington.

The " Gulf of Oman affair " , a casus belli against Iran, is a carbon copy of the " Gulf of Tonkin affair " of 4 August 1964, itself used as a casus belli to bomb North Vietnam, which was accused of having attacked a US torpedo boat (an accusation which was later proved to be false).

Today, a video released by Washington shows the crew of an alleged Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the hull of a petrol tanker in order to conceal its origin (because the mine would allegedly have borne the inscription " Made in Iran ").

With this " proof " - a veritable insult to our intelligence - Washington is attempting to camouflage the goal of the operation. It is part of the strategy aimed at controlling the world reserves of oil and natural gas and their energy corridors [ 1 ]. It is no coincidence if Iran and Iraq are in US crosshairs. Their total oil reserves are greater than those of Saudi Arabia, and five times greater than those of the United States. Iranian reserves of natural gas are approximately 2.5 times those of the USA. Venezuela finds itself targeted by the USA for the same reason, since it is the country which owns the greatest oil reserves in the world.

The control of the energy corridors is of capital importance. By accusing Iran of attempting to " interrupt the flow of oil through the Straights of Hormuz ", Mike Pompeo announced that " the United States will defend freedom of navigation ". In other words, he has announced that the United States want to gain military control of this key area for energy supplies, including for Europe, by preventing above all the transit of Iranian oil (to which Italy and other European countries cannot in any case enjoy free access because of the US embargo).

Low-cost Iranian natural gas might also have reached Europe by way of a pipeline crossing Iraq and Syria. But the project, launched in 2011, was destroyed by the USA/NATO operation to demolish the Syrian state.

Natural gas might also have arrived directly in Italy from Russia, and from there be distributed to other European countries with notable economical advantages, via the South Stream route through the Black Sea. But the pipeline, already in an advanced stage of construction, was blocked in 2014 by the pressure of the United States and European Union itself, with heavy prejudice for Italy.

In fact it was the reproduction of North Stream which continued, making Germany the centre of triage for Russian gas.. Then, on the basis of the " USA/EU strategic cooperation in the energy field " agreement stipulated in July 2018, US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU tripled. The triage centre was in Poland, from which was distributed the " Freedom Gas " which also arrived in Ukraine.

Washington's objective is strategic – to hurt Russia by replacing Russian gas in Europe with US gas. But we have no guarantees, neither on the price, nor on the time-scale for US gas extracted from the bituminous shale by the technique known as fracking (hydraulic fracturation), which is disastrous for the environment.

So what does Matteo Salvini have to say about all that? When he arrived in the " greatest democracy in the Western world ", he proudly declared - " I am part of a government which in Europe is no longer satisfied with breadcrumbs ".

[Jun 27, 2019] Immediate spike in oil prices and derivatives market after attack in Iran can unpredictable consequences for the US and world economy

Notable quotes:
"... Despite the blathering about "international waters" and "freedom of navigation" the facts are that the Straits of Hormuz are only 21 miles wide. So all the water in them is either in Iranian territory to the north or Omani to the south. They would be entirely within their rights, as elucidated in the International Law of the Sea, to close the straits after some sort of military strike against them (for what that is worth, which is something at least as far as public opinion outside of the U.S. is concerned). The Iranians have stated that if and when they close the straits they will announce it publicly, no subterfuge or secret operations will be involved. ..."
"... Anything over $150 a barrel would trigger an economic, industrial, and financial crisis of immense proportions around the world ..."
"... The amount of derivatives that are swirling about the planet and that are traded and created constantly is estimated to be from $1.2 - $2.5 Quadrillion. That's right from $1,200 - $2,500 Trillion or $1,200,000 - $2,500,000 Billion {remember Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, who once said "a billion here and a billion there and first thing you know, You're talking BIG MONEY!!} ..."
"... Just like during the 2007 - 2008 crisis the various elements of shadow banking, and speculation would collapse. Remember that total world production of and trade in actual products is only about about $70 - $80 Trillion, or perhaps less than 1/31st the size of the Global Derivatives markets. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.wsws.org

dmorista3 days ago • edited

The official story, as usual, is a bunch of hooey. Trump wouldn't bat an eye over the death of 150 Iranians. In addition to the worries about losing an aircraft carrier: the military high command probably let him know that the much vaunted, and outlandishly expensive, force of F-35s, will quickly lose its effectiveness if exposed to probing by the high tech radars the Russians have developed, and that are used in conjunction with at least the S-400 antiaircraft and antimissile defense system.

So the question is, if the stealth advantage of the F-35 is only good for a limited time, is this particular geostrategic confrontation worth using up that particular asset??

Then there is the whole question of whether the Iranians would close the Straits of Hormuz in response to a major air raid on their nuclear facilities; this leads to some much more important issues.

Despite the blathering about "international waters" and "freedom of navigation" the facts are that the Straits of Hormuz are only 21 miles wide. So all the water in them is either in Iranian territory to the north or Omani to the south. They would be entirely within their rights, as elucidated in the International Law of the Sea, to close the straits after some sort of military strike against them (for what that is worth, which is something at least as far as public opinion outside of the U.S. is concerned). The Iranians have stated that if and when they close the straits they will announce it publicly, no subterfuge or secret operations will be involved.

Since nearly 30% of the World's oil moves through those straits cutting them off will cause an immediate spike in oil prices. Prices of $100 - $300 a barrel would be reached within a few days. If the Straits of Hormuz were closed for a longer period we could easily see prices rise to $1,000 a barrel according to Goldman Sachs projections (see Escobar article cited below).

Anything over $150 a barrel would trigger an economic, industrial, and financial crisis of immense proportions around the world . The financial and speculative house of cards, that the ruling classes of the U.S.-led Finance Capital Bloc depends on for their dominance of world capital and markets, would likely come tumbling down.

The amount of derivatives that are swirling about the planet and that are traded and created constantly is estimated to be from $1.2 - $2.5 Quadrillion. That's right from $1,200 - $2,500 Trillion or $1,200,000 - $2,500,000 Billion {remember Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, who once said "a billion here and a billion there and first thing you know, You're talking BIG MONEY!!} (See "World Derivatives Market Estimated As Big As $1.2 Quadrillion Notional, as Banks Fight Efforts to Rein It In", March 26, 2013, Yves Smith, "Naked Capitalism", at < https://www.nakedcapitalism... >, and "Iran Goes for 'Maximum Counter-pressure' ", June 21, 2019, Pepe Escobar, "Strategic Culture Foundation", at < https://www.strategic-cultu... >, and "Global Derivatives: $1.5 Quadrillion Time Bomb", Aug 24, 2015, Stephen Lendman, Global Research, at < https://www.globalresearch.... >).

Just like during the 2007 - 2008 crisis the various elements of shadow banking, and speculation would collapse. Remember that total world production of and trade in actual products is only about about $70 - $80 Trillion, or perhaps less than 1/31st the size of the Global Derivatives markets.

All the world's elite capitalists, be they Western or Asian or from elsewhere, maintain homes in numerous places. One reason for this is so they have somewhere to go, if they need to flee from environmental and/or socioeconomic disaster and the resultant chaos in their primary place of residence. As we move ever deeper into this extremely severe and ongoing Crisis of Capitalism, these issues will continue to become more acute.

So we can rest assured that; in addition to the crazed war-mongers Bolton and Pompeo (and their supporters and backers) whispering in Trump's ear to "go ahead and attack the Iranians"; and in addition to the somewhat more sober counsel of General Dunford and other members of the top military command; that titans of finance capital were undoubtedly on the phone warning "Bone-Spur Don" that his digs in Manhattan and Florida might not be entirely safe if the worst were to happen in response to a military strike. The absurd story of Don worrying about 150 Iranians is so ludicrous that it did not even pass the smell test with the corporate controlled media for very long.

Irandle dmorista2 days ago
Oil reached $147 a barrel in 2007-08. That caused the so-called Great Recession.

As WSWS has pointed out there are few if any US options left but war.

[Jun 27, 2019] The West's Trumped-Up Hatred of Iran Serves The Zionist Dream of a Greater Israel Dominating the Middle East by Stuart Littlewood

Notable quotes:
"... Any US attack on Iran in these circumstances could be a violation of the United Nations Charter, which only allows the use of military force in self-defense after an armed attack or with Security Council approval. ..."
"... UN Security Council resolution 487 of 1981 called on Israel "urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards". Israel has been allowed to ignore it for nearly 40 years. In 2009, the IAEA called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, open its nuclear facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Israel still refuses to join or allow inspections. ..."
"... When the CIA-engineered coup toppled Dr. Mossadeq, reinstated the Shah and his secret police, and let the American oil companies in, it was the final straw for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission. What should have been a sharp lesson for Western meddlers became a festering sore. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | ahtribune.com

Any US attack on Iran in these circumstances could be a violation of the United Nations Charter, which only allows the use of military force in self-defense after an armed attack or with Security Council approval.

Let's remind ourselves of earlier US aggression and dishonesty during the Iran-Iraq war, as recorded in Wikipedia:

In the course of escorts by the US Navy, the cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew on board. The American government claimed that Vincennes was in international waters at the time (which was later proven to be untrue), that the Airbus A300 had been mistaken for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat, and that Vincennes feared that she was under attack. The Iranians maintain that Vincennes was in their own waters, and that the passenger jet was turning away and increasing altitude after take-off. US Admiral William J. Crowe later admitted on Nightline that Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters when it launched the missiles. At the time of the attack, Admiral Crowe claimed that the Iranian plane did not identify itself and sent no response to warning signals he had sent. In 1996, the United States expressed their regret for the event and the civilian deaths it caused.

Trump now wants to impose further crippling sanctions on Iran and her people while the UK's Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison has just been to Tehran calling for "urgent de-escalation" and cheekily criticising Iran's "regional conduct" and its threat to stop complying with the nuclear deal, which the US recklessly abandoned but the UK remains committed to.

Good news about Murrison, though. A medical man, he voted against the Iraq war but as a Navy reservist was called up to do a 6 month tour of duty there. Perhaps Murrison should go see Trump and ask:

Trump meanwhile has signed an executive order targeting Iran's leadership with hard-hitting new sanctions supposedly needed to deny their development of nuclear weapons. "Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon," Trump has decreed. He added: "We will continue to increased pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its asperations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fuelling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts...." Achingly funny. Who else could all that apply to, I wonder? Exactly. The Bully-Boy-in-chief himself and his best buddies in Tel Aviv.

Sowing the seeds of hatred

We have conveniently short memories when it comes to our abominable conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran's fledgling democracy and reinstated a cruel dictator, the Shah. This eventually brought about the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and created the deep distrust between Iran and the West. Is it not shameful that the present Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn't the Foreign Office now focus on exerting influence through trade and co-operation?

The Iranian regime, like many others, may not be entirely to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq's democracy 65 years ago. Besides, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why are we allowing ourselves to be driven by America's mindless hatred?

When new recruits join British Petroleum (BP) they are fed romantic tales about how the company came into being. William Knox D'Arcy, a Devon man, studied law and made a fortune from the Mount Morgan gold-mining operations in 1880s Australia. Returning to England he agreed to fund a search for oil and minerals in Persia and began negotiations with the Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar in 1901. A sixty year concession gave D'Arcy the oil rights to the entire country except for five provinces in the north. The Persian government would receive 16% of the oil company's annual profits.

Mozzafar ad-Din was naive in business matters and unprepared for kingship when the time came. He borrowed heavily from the Russians and in order to pay off the debt he signed away control of many Persian industries and markets to foreigners. The deal D'Arcy cut was too sharp by far and would eventually lead to trouble.

He sent an exploration team headed by geologist George B Reynolds. In 1903 a company was formed and D'Arcy had to spend much of his fortune to cover the costs. Further financial support came from Glasgow-based Burmah Oil in return for a large share of the stock.

Drilling in southern Persia at Shardin continued until 1907 when the search was switched to Masjid-i-Souleiman. By 1908 D'Arcy was almost bankrupt. Reynolds received a last-chance instruction: "Drill to 1,600 feet and give up". On 26 May at 1,180 feet he struck oil.

It was indeed a triumph of guts and determination. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was soon up and running and in 1911 completed a pipeline from the oilfield to its new refinery at Abadan. But the company was in trouble again by 1914. The golden age of motoring hadn't yet arrived and the industrial oil markets were sewn up by American and European interests. The sulphurous stench of the Persian oil, even after refining, ruled it out for domestic use, so D'Arcy had a marketing problem.

Luckily Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was an enthusiast for oil and wanted to convert the British fleet from coal especially now that a reliable oil source was secured. He famously told Parliament: "Look out upon the wide expanse of the oil regions of the world!" Only the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company, he said, could protect British interests. His resolution passed and the British Government took a major shareholding in the company just in time, for World War One began a few weeks later.

During the war the British government seized the assets of a German company calling itself British Petroleum for the purpose of marketing its products in Britain. Anglo-Persian acquired the assets from the Public Trustee complete with a ready-made distribution network and an abundance of depots, railway tank wagons, road vehicles, barges and so forth. This enabled Anglo-Persian to rapidly expand sales in petroleum-hungry Britain and Europe after the war.

In the inter-war years Anglo-Persian profited handsomely from paying the Iranians a miserly 16%, and an increasingly angry Persia tried to renegotiate terms. Getting nowhere, they cancelled the D'Arcy agreement and the matter ended up at the Court of International Justice at The Hague. A new agreement in 1933 provided Anglo-Persian with a fresh 60-year concession but on a smaller area. The terms were an improvement for the Persians but still didn't amount to a square deal.

In 1935 Iran formally replaced Persia as the country's official name internationally and Anglo-Persian changed to Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. By 1950 Abadan was the biggest oil refinery in the world and Britain, with its 51% holding, had affectively colonised part of southern Iran.

Iran's small share of the profits became a big issue and so did the treatment of its oil workers. 6,000 withdrew their labour in 1946 and the strike was violently put down with 200 dead or injured. In 1951 Anglo-Iranian declared £40 million profit after tax but handed Iran only £7 million. Meanwhile Arabian American Oil was sharing profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis. Calls for nationalisation were mounting.

As a result of the Persian Constitutional Revolution the first Majlis (parliament) was established in 1906 and the country became a constitutional monarchy with high hopes. By mid-century Iran not unreasonably wanted economic and political independence and an end to poverty. In March 1951 its Majlis and Senate voted to nationalise Anglo-Iranian, which had controlled Iran's oil industry since 1913 under terms disadvantageous to Iran. Respected social reformer Dr Mohammad Mossadeq was named prime minister the following month by a 79 to 12 majority. On 1 May Mossadeq carried out his government's wishes, cancelling Anglo-Iranian's oil concession due to expire in 1993 and expropriating its assets.

His explanation, given in a speech in June 1951 (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran , p. 525), ran as follows...

"Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.

"The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provides that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention "

For this he would eventually be removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for 3 years then put under house arrest until his death.

Britain, with regime change in mind, orchestrated a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil, froze Iran's sterling assets and threatened legal action against anyone purchasing oil produced in the formerly British-controlled refineries. It even considered invading. The Iranian economy was soon in ruins.... sounds familiar, doesn't it? Attempts by the Shah to replace Mossadeq failed and he returned with more power, but his coalition was slowly crumbling under the hardships imposed by the British blockade.

At first America was reluctant to join Britain's destructive game but Churchill let it be known that Mossadeq was turning communist and pushing Iran into Russia's arms at a time when Cold War anxiety was high. It was enough to bring America's new president, Eisenhower, on board and plotting with Britain to bring Mossadeq down.

Chief of the CIA's Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt Jr, arrived to play the leading role in an ugly game of provocation, mayhem and deception. An elaborate campaign of disinformation began, and the Shah signed two decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the CIA's choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as prime minister. These decrees were written as dictated by Donald Wilbur the CIA architect of the plan

The Shah fled to Rome. When it was judged safe to do so he returned on 22 August 1953. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason by the Shah's military court. He remarked

"My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran's oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world's greatest empire With God's blessing and the will of the people, I fought this savage and dreadful system of international espionage and colonialism.

"I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests ."

His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or executed. Zahedi's new government soon reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium to restore the flow of Iranian oil, awarding the US and Great Britain the lion's share - 40% going to Anglo-Iranian. The consortium agreed to split profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but, tricky as ever, refused to open its books to Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit on the board.

A grateful US massively funded the Shah's government, including his army and secret police force, SAVAK. Anglo-Iranian changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954. Mossadeq died on 5 March 1967.

Apologise? Hell no Let's demonise Iran!

But the West's fun came to an abrupt halt with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and a great British enterprise that started heroically and turned nasty ended in tears.

The US is still hated today for reimposing the Shah and his thugs and demolishing the Iranians' democratic system of government, which the Revolution unfortunately didn't restore. The US is widely known by Iranians as Big Satan and its regional handmaiden Israel rejoices in the name Little Satan . Britain, as the instigator and junior partner in the sordid affair, is similarly despised.

Moreover, Iran harbours great resentment at the way the West, especially the US, helped Iraq develop its armed forces and chemical weapons arsenal, and how the international community failed to punish Iraq for its use of those weapons against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. The US, and eventually Britain, leaned strongly towards Saddam in that conflict and the alliance enabled Saddam to more easily acquire or develop forbidden chemical and biological weapons. At least 100,000 Iranians fell victim to them.

This is how John King writing in 2003 summed it up

"The United States used methods both legal and illegal to help build Saddam's army into the most powerful army in the Mideast outside of Israel. The US supplied chemical and biological agents and technology to Iraq when it knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranians. The US supplied the materials and technology for these weapons of mass destruction to Iraq at a time when it was know that Saddam was using this technology to kill his Kurdish citizens. The United States supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. The United States blocked UN censure of Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The United States did not act alone in this effort. The Soviet Union was the largest weapons supplier, but England, France and Germany were also involved in the shipment of arms and technology."

While Iranian casualties were at their highest as a result of US chemical and biological war crimes Trump was busy acquiring the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump Castle , his Taj-Mahal casino, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and was refitting his super-yacht Trump Princess . What does he know, understand or care about Iran?

On the British side Foreign Secretary Jaremy Hunt was messing about at Oxford University; and the front-runner to fill our Prime Minister vacancy, Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary, was similarly at Oxford carousing with fellow Old Etonians at the Bullingdon Club. What do they know or care?

Which brings us to today Why are we hearing nonstop sabre-rattling against Iran when we should be extending the hand of reconciliation and friendship? And why are these clueless leaders demonising Iran instead of righting the wrongs? Because the political establishment is still smarting. And they are the new-generation imperialists, the political spawn of those Dr Mossadeq and many others struggled against. They haven't learned from the past, and they won't lift their eyes to a better future.

It's so depressing.

Economic sanctions: are they moral, or even legal?

The US and UK have led the charge on oil sanctions and other measures to make life hell for Iranians. But are they on safe legal ground?

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in a statement on 26 November 2011, said they were deeply concerned about the threats against Iran by Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Referring to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IADL stated that those threats were unacceptable and dangerous not only for all the region but for the whole of humanity, and that Article 2.4 of the UN Charter forbids not only use of force but also the threat of force in international relations. The right of defence does not include pre-emptive strikes.

The IADL also pointed out that while Israel was quick to denounce the possible possession of nuclear weapons by others, it had illegally possessed nuclear weapons for many years. The danger to world peace was so great as to require the global eradication of all nuclear weapons, and to immediately declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone and a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, as required by UN Security Council resolution 687.

Furthermore, Article 33 states that "the parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means..." Economic 'terror' tactics such as the vicious sanctions deployed by the US, UK and their allies – and the similar measures used by Britain and America in the 1950s to bring down the government of Dr Mossadeq and reinstate the Shah – are simply not part of the approved toolkit.

Remember the context

UN Security Council resolution 487 of 1981 called on Israel "urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards". Israel has been allowed to ignore it for nearly 40 years. In 2009, the IAEA called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, open its nuclear facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Israel still refuses to join or allow inspections.

The Zionist regime is reckoned by some to have up to 400 nuclear warheads at its disposal. It is the only state in the region that is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran is). It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. As regards biological and chemical weapons, Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In early 2012 the US intelligence community was saying that Iran hadn't got an active nuclear weapons programme, and Israeli intelligence agreed. The Director of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, reported: "We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons..."

So the continual focus on Iran has been a deliberate distraction. We repaid Iranian co-operation in D'Arcy's oil venture with corporate greed and diplomatic double-cross. America and Britain are still smarting from the time when Iran democratically elected Dr. Mossadeq, who sensibly nationalized her vast oil resources. Up till then the grasping British were raking in far more profit from Iranian oil than the Iranians themselves.

Back in the 1920s the US State Department had described the oil deposits in the Middle East as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history". Ever since, its designs on Iraq and Iran have been plain to see and it is still ready to pounce on every opportunity.

When the CIA-engineered coup toppled Dr. Mossadeq, reinstated the Shah and his secret police, and let the American oil companies in, it was the final straw for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission. What should have been a sharp lesson for Western meddlers became a festering sore.

The quest for the energy prize is not over. But it is no longer just about oil. Zionist stooges in controlling positions in the West's corridors of power are pledged to ensure Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East and continues to dominate the region militarily. And they are willing to spill Christian blood and spend Christian treasure in that cause.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton, recipient of the Defender of Israel Award last year and the Guardian of Zion Award the year before, is one such super-stooge. His stupefying remark: "No-one has granted Iran a hunting licence in the Middle East" typifies the arrogance of his ilk.

Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF. Various sales and marketing management positions in manufacturing, oil and electronics. Senior associate with several industrial marketing consultancies. Graduate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MInstM). BA Hons Psychology, University of Exeter.

[Jun 26, 2019] VIPS Memo to the President Is Pompeo's Iran Agenda the Same As Yours Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... UPDATED: VIPS says its direct experience with Mike Pompeo leaves them with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to the President and the nation. ..."
"... As for Pompeo himself, there is no sign he followed up by pursuing Binney's stark observation with anyone, including his own CIA cyber sleuths. Pompeo had been around intelligence long enough to realize the risks entailed in asking intrusive questions of intelligence officers -- in this case, subordinates in the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which was created by CIA Director John Brennan in 2015. ..."
"... CIA malware and hacking tools are built by the Engineering Development Group, part of that relatively new Directorate. (It is a safe guess that offensive cybertool specialists from that Directorate were among those involved in the reported placing of "implants" or software code into the Russian grid, about which The New York Times claims you were not informed.) ..."
"... The question is whose agenda Pompeo was pursuing -- yours or his own. Binney had the impression Pompeo was simply going through the motions -- and disingenuously, at that. If he "really wanted to know about Russian hacking," he would have acquainted himself with the conclusions that VIPS, with Binney in the lead, had reached in mid-2017, and which apparently caught your eye. ..."
"... For the Steering Groups of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity: ..."
Jun 21, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

UPDATED: VIPS says its direct experience with Mike Pompeo leaves them with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to the President and the nation.

DATE: June 21, 2019

MEMORANDUM FOR : The President.

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Is Pompeo's Iran Agenda the Same As Yours?

A fter the close call yesterday when you called off the planned military strike on Iran, we remain concerned that you are about to be mousetrapped into war with Iran. You have said you do not want such a war (no sane person would), and our comments below are based on that premise. There are troubling signs that Secretary Pompeo is not likely to jettison his more warlike approach, More importantly, we know from personal experience with Pompeo's dismissive attitude to instructions from you that his agenda can deviate from yours on issues of major consequence.

Pompeo's behavior betrays a strong desire to resort to military action -- perhaps even without your approval -- to Iranian provocations (real or imagined), with no discernible strategic goal other than to advance the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He is a neophyte compared to his anti-Iran partner John Bolton, whose dilettante approach to interpreting intelligence, strong advocacy of the misbegotten war on Iraq (and continued pride in his role in promoting it), and fierce pursuit of his own aggressive agenda are a matter of a decades-long record. You may not be fully aware of our experience with Pompeo, who has now taken the lead on Iran.

That experience leaves us with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to you and the country, including the contentious issue of alleged Russian hacking into the DNC. The sketchy "evidence" behind that story has now crumbled, thanks to some unusual candor from the Department of Justice. We refer to the extraordinary revelation in a recent Department of Justice court filing that former FBI Director James Comey never required a final forensic report from the DNC-hired cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike.

Comey, of course, has admitted to the fact that, amid accusations from the late Sen. John McCain and others that the Russians had committed "an act of war," the FBI did not follow best practices and insist on direct access to the DNC computers, preferring to rely on CrowdStrike reporting. What was not known until the DOJ revelation is that CrowdStrike never gave Comey a final report on its forensic findings regarding alleged "Russian hacking." Mainstream media have suppressed this story so far; we reported it several days ago.

The point here is that Pompeo could have exposed the lies about Russian hacking of the DNC, had he done what you asked him to do almost two years ago when he was director of the CIA.

In our Memorandum to you of July 24, 2017 entitled "Was the 'Russian Hack' an Inside Job?," we suggested:

"You may wish to ask CIA Director Mike Pompeo what he knows about this.["This" being the evidence-deprived allegation that "a shadowy entity with the moniker 'Guccifer 2.0' hacked the DNC on behalf of Russian intelligence and gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks ."] Our own lengthy intelligence community experience suggests that it is possible that neither former CIA Director John Brennan, nor the cyber-warriors who worked for him, have been completely candid with their new director regarding how this all went down."

Three months later, Director Pompeo invited William Binney, one of VIPS' two former NSA technical directors (and a co-author of our July 24, 2017 Memorandum), to CIA headquarters to discuss our findings. Pompeo began an hour-long meeting with Binney on October 24, 2017 by explaining the genesis of the unusual invitation: "You are here because the President told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk to you."

But Did Pompeo 'Really Want to Know'?

Apparently not. Binney, a widely respected, plain-spoken scientist with more than three decades of experience at NSA , began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. As we explained in our most recent Memorandum to you, Pompeo reacted with disbelief and -- now get this -- tried to put the burden on Binney to pursue the matter with the FBI and NSA.

As for Pompeo himself, there is no sign he followed up by pursuing Binney's stark observation with anyone, including his own CIA cyber sleuths. Pompeo had been around intelligence long enough to realize the risks entailed in asking intrusive questions of intelligence officers -- in this case, subordinates in the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which was created by CIA Director John Brennan in 2015.

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by the Engineering Development Group, part of that relatively new Directorate. (It is a safe guess that offensive cybertool specialists from that Directorate were among those involved in the reported placing of "implants" or software code into the Russian grid, about which The New York Times claims you were not informed.)

If Pompeo failed to report back to you on the conversation you instructed him to have with Binney, you might ask him about it now (even though the flimsy evidence of Russia hacking the DNC has now evaporated, with Binney vindicated). There were two note-takers present at the October 24, 2017 meeting at CIA headquarters. There is also a good chance the session was also recorded. You might ask Pompeo about that.

Whose Agenda?

The question is whose agenda Pompeo was pursuing -- yours or his own. Binney had the impression Pompeo was simply going through the motions -- and disingenuously, at that. If he "really wanted to know about Russian hacking," he would have acquainted himself with the conclusions that VIPS, with Binney in the lead, had reached in mid-2017, and which apparently caught your eye.

Had he pursued the matter seriously with Binney, we might not have had to wait until the Justice Department itself put nails in the coffin of Russiagate, CrowdStrike, and Comey. In sum, Pompeo could have prevented two additional years of "everyone knows that the Russians hacked into the DNC." Why did he not?

Pompeo is said to be a bright fellow -- Bolton, too–with impeccable academic credentials. The history of the past six decades , though, shows that an Ivy League pedigree can spell disaster in affairs of state. Think, for example, of President Lyndon Johnson's national security adviser, former Harvard Dean McGeorge Bundy, for example, who sold the Tonkin Gulf Resolution to Congress to authorize the Vietnam war based on what he knew was a lie. Millions dead.

Bundy was to LBJ as John Bolton is to you, and it is a bit tiresome watching Bolton brandish his Yale senior ring at every podium. Think, too, of Princeton's own Donald Rumsfeld concocting and pushing the fraud about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to "justify" war on Iraq, assuring us all the while that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Millions dead.

Rumsfeld's dictum is anathema to William Binney, who has shown uncommon patience answering a thousand evidence-free "What if's" over the past three years. Binney's shtick? The principles of physics, applied mathematics, and the scientific method. He is widely recognized for his uncanny ability to use these to excellent advantage in separating the chaff from wheat. No Ivy pedigree wanted or needed.

Binney describes himself as a "country boy" from western Pennsylvania. He studied at Penn State and became a world renowned mathematician/cryptologist as well as a technical director at NSA. Binney's accomplishments are featured in a documentary on YouTube, "A Good American." You may wish to talk to him person-to-person.

Cooked Intelligence

Some of us served as long ago as the Vietnam War. We are painfully aware of how Gen. William Westmoreland and other top military officers lied about the "progress" the Army was making, and succeeded in forcing their superiors in Washington to suppress our conclusions as all-source analysts that the war was a fool's errand and one we would inevitably lose. Millions dead.

Four decades later, on February 5, 2003, six weeks before the attack on Iraq, we warned President Bush that there was no reliable intelligence to justify war on Iraq.

Five years later, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, releasing the bipartisan conclusions of the committee's investigation, said this :

" In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."

Intelligence on the Middle East has still been spotty -- and sometimes "fixed" for political purposes. Four years ago, a U.S. congressional report said Central Command painted too rosy a picture of the fight against Islamic State in 2014 and 2015 compared with the reality on the ground and grimmer assessments by other analysts.

Intelligence analysts at CENTCOM claimed their commanders imposed a "false narrative" on analysts, intentionally rewrote and suppressed intelligence products, and engaged in "delay tactics" to undermine intelligence provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency. In July 2015, fifty CENTCOM analysts signed a complaint to the Pentagon's Inspector General that their intelligence reports were being manipulated by their superiors. The CENTCOM analysts were joined by intelligence analysts working for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

We offer this as a caution. As difficult as this is for us to say, the intelligence you get from CENTCOM should not be accepted reflexively as gospel truth, especially in periods of high tension. The experience of the Tonkin Gulf alone should give us caution. Unclear and misinterpreted intelligence can be as much a problem as politicization in key conflict areas.

Frequent problems with intelligence and Cheney-style hyperbole help explain why CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon in early 2007 blurted out that "an attack on Iran " will not happen on my watch," as Bush kept sending additional carrier groups into the Persian Gulf. Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, warned at the time that some Bush advisers secretly wanted an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," she told Newsweek. Deja vu. A National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 concluded unanimously that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed such work.

We believe your final decision yesterday was the right one -- given the so-called "fog of war" and against the background of a long list of intelligence mistakes, not to mention "cooking" shenanigans. We seldom quote media commentators, but we think Tucker Carlson had it right yesterday evening: "The very people -- in some cases, literally the same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago -- are demanding a new war -- this one with Iran. Carlson described you as "skeptical." We believe ample skepticism is warranted.

We are at your disposal, should you wish to discuss any of this with us.

For the Steering Groups of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

[Jun 26, 2019] Pompeo is a MIC lobbyist, not a diplomat

Highly recommended!
Pretty harsh evaluation of Pompeo by usually very polite Chinese newspaper. And what is true that in no way Pompeo is a diplomat. He is a lobbyist for MIC, no more no less. Kind of Madeline Albright of different sex.
As Chinese journalist observed "Diplomacy is governed by international conventions, which require all countries to observe basic norms. Pompeo behaves like a gangster. He is abandoning the traditional US major-power diplomacy and defying the gentle style of diplomats. "
Notable quotes:
"... Chinese people will remember Pompeo as a representative who breaks the bottom line of US diplomatic ethics. Letting such a person dominate US diplomacy will unsettle the world and put global peace at risk. ..."
"... Pompeo also has turned the US State Department into a strategic headquarters used to antagonize the international community. By provoking conflict between countries who have unique differences, Pompeo has done nothing but threaten for world peace. ..."
"... Additionally, Pompeo is arguably the most active lobbyist and by all standards, a bully who coerces US allies to block Huawei. He has also spared no effort in criticizing China's policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. ..."
"... Pompeo's background reveals military and intelligence capabilities. While serving in the US House of Representatives, he initiated multiple foreign conflicts. Confrontation seems to be his preferred weapon of choice and the only option when engaging with anyone. Only when confronted with China, Russia, and Iran, can he see his true self. He feels such aggressive behaviour is necessary to prove his personal value. ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | www.globaltimes.cn

Chinese people will remember Pompeo as a representative who breaks the bottom line of US diplomatic ethics. Letting such a person dominate US diplomacy will unsettle the world and put global peace at risk.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to be a politically troublesome figure in the global arena. Washington stands at a critical juncture as it redesigns the national strategy blueprint within a Cold War framework. The highest-ranking US diplomat has single-handedly activated an outdated mindset, smashing it to the point of climax.

Known as an extreme hardliner at the White House, Pompeo has redefined the traditional understanding of the chief diplomat's role among the world's major powers with his signature reckless behaviour.

Pompeo also has turned the US State Department into a strategic headquarters used to antagonize the international community. By provoking conflict between countries who have unique differences, Pompeo has done nothing but threaten for world peace.

During his visits to other nations, Pompeo has bad-mouthed and tried to suppress China, Russia, and Iran. His offensive remarks on China have destroyed the past China-US diplomatic language that was enjoyed for decades, preferring to use negligent words from his personal arsenal.

Additionally, Pompeo is arguably the most active lobbyist and by all standards, a bully who coerces US allies to block Huawei. He has also spared no effort in criticizing China's policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

His outspoken opinions on the recent events in Hong Kong was more of a Rubicon River crossing than someone was just merely speaking their mind. Rather than adhere to a big power game like his predecessors, Pompeo has transformed himself into anti-China flag on two legs.

The US relationship between China , Russia, and Iran will determine the future course of international relations. The condition of each relationship serves as a wind vane indicating stability or turbulence worldwide.

Pompeo is not only disrupting China, Russia, and Iran but also damaging the interests of other countries. His words and actions have jinxed the very notion of 21st-century peace.

It is understandable how the US could feel threatened, due to the pattern shift among world powers. However, Pompeo's goal has nothing to do with enhancing trust or easing concerns expressed by other countries. Instead, he wants to turn US insecurity into a form of visible hatred and increase hostility worldwide. He has consistently influenced stable international conditions to the point of deterioration.

"Make America Great Again" is not a one-man show. The notion, which is nothing more than an illiterate slogan, will never materialize and connect with the harmony enjoyed elsewhere throughout the world.

In the past decades, the US has engaged in too many wars and conflicts, while also issuing sanctions against foreign countries which were later drained of their national strength.

Pompeo has continued to push the US toward the flames of confrontation when dealing with major foreign powers. He has not helped Trump achieve earlier campaign promises, and on the contrary, he is making it difficult for the US president to keep them.

Pompeo's background reveals military and intelligence capabilities. While serving in the US House of Representatives, he initiated multiple foreign conflicts. Confrontation seems to be his preferred weapon of choice and the only option when engaging with anyone. Only when confronted with China, Russia, and Iran, can he see his true self. He feels such aggressive behaviour is necessary to prove his personal value.

Judging from the US and its Cold War reboot strategy, Pompeo has roamed too far outside of the perimeter and has officially lost his way. The US government has labelled China as its "strategic competitor." Meanwhile, Pompeo has ignited hostility from China.

Pompeo's words are by no means an accurate consensus of the US public who also want to enjoy a harmonious existence. By making volatile claims against China look reasonable, Pompeo has turned himself into a cheerleader of hatred, who uses slander and vitriol for pompoms.

Having a secretary of state of this calibre is a tragedy of US politics and the sorrow of international politics. The world needs to be exposed to the damage Pompeo has brought to humankind's peaceful existence. His destructive power should not be tolerated because of his title. He has repeatedly crushed diplomacy's constructive role while ignoring opportunities to ease international conflicts. He is a stain upon the professional honour of diplomacy. The global diplomatic community should detest his actions and join together in a crusade against him.

This article originally appeared on the Global Times website.

[Jun 26, 2019] Cost of potential US war with Iran $250 oil another Afghanistan

Notable quotes:
"... Should such a war really happen, the stakes would be very high, so there is every reason to assume that Iran's missiles would not only be equipped with conventional high explosive fragmentation warheads, but would also carry toxic agents and dirty bombs. ..."
"... even a handful of Tehran's missiles reaching critical infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region would be enough to cause devastation. ..."
"... On top of that, there are more questions than answers regarding the reliability of the antimissile and air defense systems that the Persian Gulf monarchies deployed to defend their hydrocarbon terminals and other oil and gas infrastructure. ..."
"... To solve the problem of Iran once and for all, the US would need to mount a large-scale ground operation, with the US Army invading the country. America would have to wipe out both regular Iranian forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, unseat the current leadership of Iran, and have a military presence in every major city for the next 10 to 15 years, keeping tight control over the entire country at the same time. ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | www.rt.com

Iran's downing of a US military surveillance drone last week predictably led to another flare-up in tense relations between Tehran and Washington. What could be the implications of a potential conflict between the two nations? Right after the Global Hawk UAV was shot down, the New York Times reported that US President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran, but then changed his mind.

Let's start by saying that the decision to launch a military operation against Iran (which is what this is really about), including the specific time and place, would have to be taken by a very small group of top US political and military officials. At such meetings, no leaks could possibly occur by definition.

Now, let's take a look at some of the details. The difference between a 'strike' and an 'operation' is quite significant, at the very least in terms of duration, and forces and equipment involved. It would be nice to know if the NYT actually meant a single airstrike or an entire air operation.

Also on rt.com US lapdog Jeremy Hunt prepping British public for war with Iran, just in case Trump asks

Amusingly enough, the publication reported that the strikes were scheduled for early morning to minimize the potential death toll among the Iranian military and civilians. It's worth pointing out that the US has never cared about the number of victims either among the military personnel or the civilian population of its adversaries.

Moreover, the purpose of any military conflict is to do as much damage to your enemy as possible in terms of personnel, military hardware and other equipment. This is how the goals of any armed conflict are achieved. Of course, it would be best if civilian losses are kept to a minimum, but for the US it's more of a secondary rather than a primary objective.

The US Navy and Air Force traditionally strike before dawn with one purpose alone – to avoid the antiaircraft artillery (both small and medium-caliber), as well as a number of air defense systems with optical tracking, firing at them. Besides, a strike in the dark hours of the day affects the morale of the enemy personnel.

Here we need to understand that Iran would instantly retaliate, and Tehran has no small capabilities for that. In other words, it would be a full-scale war. For the US, it wouldn't end with one surgical airstrike without consequences, like in Syria. And the US seems to have a very vague idea on what a military victory over Iran would look like.

Also on rt.com US will not 'stumble into' war with Iran by mistake. If it happens, it will be by design

There is no doubt that a prolonged air campaign by the US will greatly undermine Iran's military and economic potential and reduce the country to the likes of Afghanistan, completely destroying its hydrocarbon production and exports industries.

To say how long such a campaign could last would be too much of a wild guess, but we have the examples of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when airstrikes lasted for 38 days, and Yugoslavia in 1991 when the bombing continued for 78 days. So, theoretically, the US could bomb Iran for, say, 100 days, wrecking the country's economy and infrastructure step by step.

However, the price the US would have to pay for starting such a military conflict may turn out to be too high.

For instance, Iran can respond to US aggression by launching intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles to target oil and gas fields and terminals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE.

Should such a war really happen, the stakes would be very high, so there is every reason to assume that Iran's missiles would not only be equipped with conventional high explosive fragmentation warheads, but would also carry toxic agents and dirty bombs.

Firstly, it should be pointed out that even though the capabilities of US intelligence agencies are almost limitless, quite a few Iranian missile launching sites remain undiscovered. Secondly, US air defense systems in the Persian Gulf, no matter how effective, would not shoot down every last Iranian missile. And even a handful of Tehran's missiles reaching critical infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region would be enough to cause devastation.

On top of that, there are more questions than answers regarding the reliability of the antimissile and air defense systems that the Persian Gulf monarchies deployed to defend their hydrocarbon terminals and other oil and gas infrastructure.

Also on rt.com $300 oil? US war with Iran spells catastrophe for global economy, expert tells RT

If such a scenario came true, that would bring inconceivable chaos to the global economy and would immediately drive up oil prices to $200-250 per barrel – and that's the lowest estimate. It is these implications that are most likely keeping the US from attacking Iran.

To solve the problem of Iran once and for all, the US would need to mount a large-scale ground operation, with the US Army invading the country. America would have to wipe out both regular Iranian forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, unseat the current leadership of Iran, and have a military presence in every major city for the next 10 to 15 years, keeping tight control over the entire country at the same time.

For the record, the US failed to do that even in Afghanistan, which is several times smaller than Iran in terms of both territory and population. And almost 18 years of fighting later, the US has achieved next to nothing.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[Jun 26, 2019] Lawrence Wilkerson Trump Is Deepening the 'Economic War' Against Iran naked capitalism

Jun 26, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

GREG WILPERT It's not clear what impact these new sanctions will have on Iran, but the sanctions that have already been imposed since the US withdrew from the JCPOA last year have had a serious effect on Iran's economy. According to oil industry analysts, Iranian oil exports have dropped from 2.5 million barrels per day in April 2013, to about 300,000 barrels per day currently. The latest sanctions come on the heels of heightened tensions. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Then later that week, Iran downed an expensive US drone over the same strait saying that it had entered Iranian airspace. President Trump later revealed that the US was about to retaliate over the weekend with an airstrike against Iran, but Trump changed his mind in the last minute and launched a cyber-attack against Iranian military facilities instead. Joining me now to discuss the latest in the confrontation between the US and Iran is Colonel Larry Wilkerson. He is former Chief of staff to the Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. Thanks for joining us again, Larry.

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON Good to be with you.

GREG WILPERT So let's start with the sanctions. As I said, it's far from clear whether these latest sanctions mean anything, but the earlier sanctions are certainly having an effect on Iran, shrinking its economy and causing shortages. Now Trump argued that he called off the airstrike on Iran because he had been told that up to 150 people could have been killed, and that this would have been a disproportionate response to shooting down their drone, but there are reports that Iranians are having trouble accessing lifesaving medicines, such as for cancer treatment. Now, what do you make of this rationale for calling off the airstrike but then at the same time intensifying sanctions?

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON There is no question that the sanctions we have on Iran -- and for that matter on North Korea, and on Venezuela, perhaps even still do on Venezuela -- constitute economic warfare. That's the reality that the world doesn't seem to want to address because the United States is so powerful and that their economies and financial networks are so wrapped up with us. That said, it's not like -- And the crassness of the United States with regard to these sanctions was about saved by none other than Madeleine Albright best when she was confronted with a number of Iraqi children who were dying as a result of the sanctions we had on Saddam Hussein. And she simply said, well I thought it was worth it. Worth it -- to kill all those children? The sanctions regimes we execute though, are a little bit more sophisticated, a little bit more well-aimed, more precisely aimed these days.

I was very much associated with the ones on North Korea, ones on Iraq, the way we tried to smarten them up and so forth. The ones on Iran I think are having a very meaningful impact in terms of cutting down on Iran's ability to do everything that it does, including as you pointed out to sell oil. But that said, if Saddam Hussein could evade the sanctions that were on him to the extent that we now know he did, and we know from past experience how well the Kims evaded sanctions in North Korea and invented ways to get around them -- criminal activity like counterfeiting American hundred-dollar bills, for example. And other things that I know about sanctions, I would say the Iranians would be able to survive these no matter how tight we think we've made them. By and large, the Iranian government -- the Majlis, the judiciary, the Ayatollahs, the Guardian Council, the IRGC, the Quds Force -- they don't care about the Iranian people. That's one thing we ought to say more often and more frequently because it's true.

Corruption is so rife in Iran and all sanctions do is increase the money in the hands of those who are corrupt, like the IRGC and the Quds Force. So despite all these statistics and everything -- Look at oil, for example. ISIS, we now know, survived quite richly off its oil sales and we know that Turkey was behind most of the facilitation of those oil sales. The same thing is going to happen with Iran, so official statistics are really meaningless. That said, the sanctions are biting, but I don't think they're ever going to bite to the extent that someone's going to come forward like our Mr. Zarif and say, okay John. Okay Mike. Okay Donald. We're ready to talk. It is just not gonna happen.

Ashburn , June 26, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Even a so-called "surgical strike" on targets within Iran risks the Iranians closing the straight of Hormuz and blocking all oil shipments– somewhere between 20%- 30% or world's oil exports. World oil prices would skyrocket and the entire world's economy would be in chaos. Trillion$ in derivatives would instantly be at risk. There is no way the US military, or the Saudis can prevent this. I believe this is the real reason Trump supposedly cancelled the planned retaliatory strike for Iran's shoot-down of our drone.

Iran knows that sanctions on Iraq during the 90's killed over 500,000 Iraqi children. Even though Col. Wilkerson says Iran's leadership doesn't care about its people, they certainly care more than the US does and won't be willing to sit on their hands and watch this happen. They will resist with force if necessary and make the US and its subservient allies pay the price.

[Jun 25, 2019] If the reports are true then Trump made an offer to the Iranians: let me bomb a few token sites - heck, I'll even let you nominate them - and then I'll declare victory and we can sit down and talk.

Notable quotes:
"... If the reports are true then Trump made an offer to the Iranians: let me bomb a few token sites - heck, I'll even let you nominate them - and then I'll declare victory and we can sit down and talk. ..."
"... Nope, said the Iranians. If you launch even a token attack then we will reply with everything we have got, and so will Hezbollah and so will Syria. Your call, Donald. ..."
"... That's the reality, apparently. One spark from Trump and the entire region goes up in flames. ..."
Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yeah, Right , Jun 25, 2019 6:17:41 AM | 156

@154 Hopkins

"how long before Iran realizes it will lose and calls on all of its asymmetric regional forces to attack in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Straits of Hormuz"

Oh, about 12 hours, there or thereabouts. That is Iran's "Trump card". If the reports are true then Trump made an offer to the Iranians: let me bomb a few token sites - heck, I'll even let you nominate them - and then I'll declare victory and we can sit down and talk.

Nope, said the Iranians. If you launch even a token attack then we will reply with everything we have got, and so will Hezbollah and so will Syria. Your call, Donald.

That's the reality, apparently. One spark from Trump and the entire region goes up in flames.

[Jun 25, 2019] Trump may be in too deep to avoid war with Iran by Patrick Cockburn

Notable quotes:
"... But if a ground war is ruled out, then Iran is engaged in the sort of limited conflict in which it has long experience. A senior Iraqi official once said to me that the Iranians "have a PhD" in this type of part political, part military warfare. They are tactics that have worked well for Tehran in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria over the past 40 years. The Iranians have many pressure points against the US, and above all against its Saudi and Emirati allies in the Gulf. ..."
"... Saddam Hussein sought to throttle Iran's oil exports and Iran tried to do the same to Iraq. The US and its allies weighed in openly on Saddam Hussein's side – an episode swiftly forgotten by them after the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait in 1990. From 1987 on, re-registered Kuwaiti tankers were being escorted through the Gulf by US warships. There were US airstrikes against Iranian ships and shore facilities, culminating in the accidental but very avoidable shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner with 290 passengers on board by the USS Vincennes in 1988. Iran was forced to sue for peace in its war with Iraq. ..."
Jun 25, 2019 | www.unz.com

But the dilemma for Trump is at a deeper level. His sanctions against Iran, reimposed after he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, are devastating the Iranian economy. The US Treasury is a more lethal international power than the Pentagon. The EU and other countries have stuck with the deal, but they have in practice come to tolerate the economic blockade of Iran.

Iran was left with no choice but to escalate the conflict. It wants to make sure that the US, the European and Asian powers, and US regional allies Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, feel some pain. Tehran never expected much from the EU states, which are still signed up to the 2015 nuclear deal, and has found its low expectations are being fulfilled.

A fundamental misunderstanding of the US-Iran confrontation is shared by many commentators. It may seem self-evident that the US has an interest in using its vast military superiority over Iran to get what it wants. But after the failure of the US ground forces to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, no US leader can start a land war in the Middle East without endangering their political survival at home.

Trump took this lesson to heart long before he became president. He is a genuine isolationist in the American tradition. The Democrats and much of the US media have portrayed Trump as a warmonger, though he has yet to start a war. His national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo issue bloodcurdling threats against Iran, but Trump evidently views such bellicose rhetoric as simply one more way of ramping up the pressure on Iran.

But if a ground war is ruled out, then Iran is engaged in the sort of limited conflict in which it has long experience. A senior Iraqi official once said to me that the Iranians "have a PhD" in this type of part political, part military warfare. They are tactics that have worked well for Tehran in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria over the past 40 years. The Iranians have many pressure points against the US, and above all against its Saudi and Emirati allies in the Gulf.

The Iranians could overplay their hand: Trump is an isolationist, but he is also a populist national leader who claims in his first campaign rallies for the next presidential election to "have made America great again". Such boasts make it difficult to not retaliate against Iran, a country he has demonised as the source of all the troubles in the Middle East.

One US military option looks superficially attractive but conceals many pitfalls. This is to try to carry out operations along the lines of the limited military conflict between the US and Iran called the "tanker war". This was part of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and the US came out the winner.

Saddam Hussein sought to throttle Iran's oil exports and Iran tried to do the same to Iraq. The US and its allies weighed in openly on Saddam Hussein's side – an episode swiftly forgotten by them after the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait in 1990. From 1987 on, re-registered Kuwaiti tankers were being escorted through the Gulf by US warships. There were US airstrikes against Iranian ships and shore facilities, culminating in the accidental but very avoidable shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner with 290 passengers on board by the USS Vincennes in 1988. Iran was forced to sue for peace in its war with Iraq.

Some retired American generals speak about staging a repeat of the tanker war today but circumstances have changed. Iran's main opponent in 1988 was Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Iran was well on its way to losing the war, in which there was only one front


Pat Kittle , says: June 24, 2019 at 2:01 am GMT

Patrick Cockburn:

Patrick Clawson tells us whose really calling the shots for war with Iran:

-- ( https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=israel+lobby+submarine+patrick+clawson&view=detail&mid=4881C02C42F22ED6F6164881C02C42F22ED6F616&FORM=VIRE ]

(Hint: It's not Saudi Arabia & the UAE.)

Cheers!
-- Patrick Kittle

Carlton Meyer , says: Website June 24, 2019 at 4:32 am GMT
"Trump took this lesson to heart long before he became president. He is a genuine isolationist in the American tradition."

Mr. Cockburn does not understand the meaning of isolationist. Trump has been pro-empire since the day he took office.

I have better stuff in my blog:

June 22, 2019 – Iran

People familiar with US military history know what just happened off Iran. American aircraft and drones have violated Iranian airspace every week for years, either by accident or because American officers like to screw with them, especially when lots of high-level American officials want war with Iran. Complaints were filed and ignored, so the Iranians shot one down. Note there is no international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. Half belongs to Iran and the other to UAE and Oman. It is an international waterway, so all ships have the right to transit, but aircraft require permission from one of these nations.

The American people are clueless about this stuff since most only know what our warmongering media tells them, as Jimmy Dore explains in this video. I was shocked and pleased that President Trump saw through this ruse and bravely did nothing. If we bomb Iran they will hit back, maybe openly with a missile barrage, or covertly using Shia militias in Iraq, Bahrain, and Afghanistan. The USA has tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors all over the Arab world. I'm sure local teams have spent years scouting targets and preparing to attack after a green light from Tehran. Trump wisely cancelled this chaos, at least until after his reelection.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MYhvOgN707k?feature=oembed

Robert Dolan , says: June 24, 2019 at 5:26 am GMT
"National security?"

Whose national security?

Iran is no threat to the United States.

We have no right to impose a "regime change" on Iran, no matter how much Israel
wants us to do so.

Israel should fight its' own wars.

We've had enough

Ma Laoshi , says: June 24, 2019 at 9:14 am GMT
"He is a genuine isolationist" Oh please; Mr. Cockburn, you're old enough to have heard of projection. There is nothing genuine about Trump's public persona, except for his greed and egotism. He's a world-class grifter and charlatan–i.e., still not to be underestimated. His calculation will probably be "Can I get re-elected without jumping into the breach? Then that's fine too. If the polls look awful, I'll roll the dice and be a War-Time President like Dubya."

At least, Mr. Cockburn understands that the "crippling sanctions" (the way Americans are always proud of those show that they're just knee-capping mafiosi) are leaving Iran no choice but to fight back. So the decision may not be in Donald's hands; he may be smarter than his media caricature, and yet not as smart as he thought.

Sally Snyder , says: June 24, 2019 at 11:53 am GMT
Here is a article that takes a detailed look at Iran's military capabilities:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/06/irans-military-strength-2019-edition.html

Once American servicemen start dying for this rather nebulous cause, it will be the reaction of American voters that will ultimately determine the extent and duration of yet another Middle East military, nation re-engineering "adventure".

EliteCommInc. , says: June 24, 2019 at 4:32 pm GMT
"Note there is no international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. Half belongs to Iran and the other to UAE and Oman. It is an international waterway, so all ships have the right to transit, but aircraft require permission from one of these nations."

You might want to examine the UNCLOS agreement. It's created some sticky issues in the South China Seas and in the straight in question, Iran and Oman are leaning very heavily on that the policy. In their view it is for use exclusively for noncombatant enterprise as part of their claim as territorial waters, they have a say in its use.

[Jun 25, 2019] Should Iran acquire nuclear bomb as a self-defense against attack of the USA

Jun 25, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Dr. Ip , June 24, 2019 at 03:53

Pakistan is nuclear, pal.
Israel is nuclear, pal.
India is nuclear, pal.
North Korea is nuclear, pal.
Nobody attacks their territory these days, pal.
But Iran chose a long time ago not to go nuclear, pal.
The American Mullahs want their oil money back and so have issued yet another fatwah through their Supreme Leader.

KiwiAntz , June 24, 2019 at 04:08

Old Geezer are you familiar with the term"Mutual Assured Destruction"? Any Nuclear attack will be met with a Nuclear response by the Country attacked! This isn't 1945 where America could nuke Japan & get away with it? It's 2019 & alot of Nations have the Nukes to deter US Nuclear attacks? That's MAD in a nutshell!

Zhu , June 24, 2019 at 06:03

Who says Iran is going nuclear, Gezzer? If he usual liars.

AnneR , June 24, 2019 at 09:31

So *what* if the Iranians developed nuclear weapons? (Not that they are going to – as they have stated over and over again. But then they are not as bloodthirsty as Anglo-Americans always seem to be.)

Frankly, if they had done so, the US-IS-UK would be a lot less eager to bomb their country into smithereens – all for the benefit of their more westerly neighbor (the middle country above). NK understands this. Unfortunately, Qaddafi didn't.

And again – I repeat: which nation state is it that *has* used such weapons: twice? Only one. (Not to mention that same country's eager use of depleted uranium – far from its shores, of course – in bullets and shells.) Charming.

heathroi , June 24, 2019 at 09:45

is that you, John?

Steve in DC , June 24, 2019 at 09:47

Iran should go nuclear. The US doesn't f#%* with countries that have the bomb. The sooner Iran can thwart Washington the better off the world will be. Washington will have to get another hobbyhorse.

Tick Tock , June 24, 2019 at 11:45

How many generations has your family been inbreeding? Was it part of the US Guvment plan to create the race of morons? Without a doubt it has been a success in making you, make Forrest Gump look like an Einstein. Keep posting at least it might keep you off the streets.

Ol' Hippy , June 24, 2019 at 11:58

They won't need to. All they have to do is barricade the Strait of Hormuz and collapse the world economy that relies on oil from the Gulf States. Never mentioned in the corporate(MSM) media circles that want war. The ensuing depression would be like no other, ever.

Paul Merrell , June 24, 2019 at 12:36

@ Old Geezer:

My friend, you've been getting too much of your news from Israel-influenced mainstream media. Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program since 2003 (if it had one even then, which is doubtful). That is the consensus position of all U.S. intelligence agencies, Mossad, and several european intelligence agencies. See the reference links in my article at https://relativelyfreepress.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-question-about-ron-wydens-intelligence.html

Moreover, as Don Bacon summarizes, Iran doesn't need nukes to hold the U.S. at bay.

Finally, Iran's unquestionable ability to close all shipping of oil through the Hormuz Strait (30 percent of the world's supply) means that Iran has the ability to bring the western economic system to its knees. Who needs nukes?

DH Fabian , June 24, 2019 at 13:08

Are China and Russia nuclear-armed countries, in a world that has largely come to see the US as an unpredictable and dictatorial threat? Possibly too great of a threat to allow it to continue?

Linda Furr , June 24, 2019 at 13:12

Who's the 'they'? US officials have already talked of nuclear attacks on areas of Iran. The great 'democracy' of USA just ain't so. Its criminal psychopathy comes straight from Israel – against most Americans' desires. Washington DC is sick.

[Jun 25, 2019] Not to in any way absolve Trump, but as long as Bolton and Pompeo are on the scene there will be blood

Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Qualtrough , Jun 24, 2019 8:15:58 PM | 104

Not to in any way absolve Trump, but as long as Bolton and Pompeo are on the scene there will be blood. Bolton in particular should be in jail for crimes against humanity. He is a madman. Scary times.

[Jun 25, 2019] Netanyahu's Iran Dilemma: Getting Trump to Act Without Putting Israel on the Front Line.

Jun 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Don Bacon , Jun 23, 2019 10:37:20 AM | 4

Oscar Peterson , Jun 23, 2019 10:13:46 AM | 2

This recent 19 May piece from Ha'aretz documents precisely the manipulation of American policy by Israeli charlatans and their agents of influence in the US. The title says it all just by itself: "Netanyahu's Iran Dilemma: Getting Trump to Act Without Putting Israel on the Front Line." It goes on to assess that:
"In this conflict, Israel is hoping to have its cake and eat it too. Ever since Trump was elected president two and a half years ago, Netanyahu has been urging him to take a more aggressive line toward Iran, in order to force it to make additional concessions on its nuclear program and disrupt its support for militant organizations.

"Trump acceded to this urging a year ago when he withdrew America from the nuclear agreement with Iran. That was followed by tighter sanctions on Iran, as well as publication of a plan by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo detailing 12 steps Tehran must take to satisfy Washington.

"But Israel isn't interested in being part of the front. That is why Jerusalem has issued so few official statements on the Iranian issue, and why Netanyahu has urged ministers to be cautious in what they say."

I'd say that passage captures the situation perfectly, and it just goes to show that when you want to know about what chicanery Israel and its lobby are up to in the US, you have to go and look at what Israelis are saying when they aren't particularly careful about who's observing. That sort of truth is sanitized from any MSM accounts in the US.

@ OP 2
Israel is an important part of Middle East US policy decisions but not the only part, and not the most important one. Going back to the Carter Doctrine, and before, the US has intended to be the top dog in the Middle East but instead, through its mistakes, has become second fiddle to Iran. The US and its allies have tens of thousands of troops with tons of military gear in the area and are still losing influence, replaced by Iran and its Shia Crescent. That must be reversed!

Lochearn , Jun 23, 2019 11:16:37 AM | 11

In Danielle Ryan’s article in RT's Op-ed “US will not ‘stumble into’ war with Iran by mistake. If it happens, it will be by design” she notes the prevalence of “strange terminology” used by mainstream media to describe how the US gets into wars. I have added to her list and checked that all have been used in the current US-Iran scenario. The US is in danger of being: “dragged into, sucked into, sliding into, stumbling into, slouching towards, lured into, bumbling into, blundering into and sleepwalking into” war with Iran.

Who are they trying to kid when they have already declared economic war on Iran, asphyxiating the Iranian economy, knowing full well that Iran has to respond.

John Bolton “sleepwalking” into war with Iran? He’ll be wide awake and so excited he’ll probably have to relieve himself.

NemesisCalling , Jun 23, 2019 11:23:57 AM | 12 Oscar Peterson , Jun 23, 2019 11:25:56 AM | 13
@Don Bacon #4
"Israel is an important part of Middle East US policy decisions but not the only part, and not the most important one. Going back to the Carter Doctrine, and before, the US has intended to be the top dog in the Middle East but instead, through its mistakes, has become second fiddle to Iran. The US and its allies have tens of thousands of troops with tons of military gear in the area and are still losing influence, replaced by Iran and its Shia Crescent. That must be reversed!"

Have to disagree with a good deal of this.

Israel's strategic preferences have indeed become the most important single influence on US Middle East policy. Up to a certain point in the past, that was not true, but it is now. The Carter Doctrine has, in effect, been undermined by the distortions that the ever-growing power of pro-Israel political Jewry in the US in both its neoconservative and Likudnik expressions are able to impose on our policy.

Neither big oil, nor Saudi Arabia, nor anything that could objectively be called US strategic considerations wields anything like the heft of political Jewry. And even metastasizing Christian Zionism is only an ideological adjunct to Zionism proper, primarily a function of the cultural damage stemming from Jewry's march through the institutions since WW II.

That said, I must also disagree that Iran has become "the top dog" in the Middle East. They are nowhere close, though, with their cultural and technological attainments, backed by oil and gas deposits, their long-term strategic position has a lot of promise. A "top dog" would not be in Iran's current underdog position vis-a-vis Israel and its US golem and having to fight back with the stratagems we are currently seeing.

The Shia crescent is essentially a myth, and Iran's ability to exercise dominating influence on Shia Arabs is largely a function of the hostility of Sunni Arabs to the Shia Arab empowerment of recent years. Yes, the US is losing influence, but that is mostly a function of our own policy dysfunction induced by dual-loyalist political Jewry and the Israel-Über-Alles strategic preferences it imposes.

ATH , Jun 23, 2019 11:34:04 AM | 14
@Don Bacon
That clarifies.
I do agree that Israel is one of the 2 important factors in US calculation in south-west Asia, the other being strategic leverage over big-league competitors. And, it is true that US military presence in the Persian Gulf has been the Carter doctrine's making - although one might argue the doctrine itself was created to fill the vacuum created with the departure of the British and the subsequent independence given to the southern Sheikhdoms. The issue with the current US strategy in the region is that it defies the reality with such an obstinance that it completely undermines its own goals. The origin of this obstinance is well known to everyone.
NJDuke , Jun 23, 2019 11:45:09 AM | 18 Don Bacon , Jun 23, 2019 11:52:24 AM | 19
Israel or no, failure is not an option for the US in the Middle East, especially Syria which was Hillary's Job-One during her SecState tenure.
AP, Dec 14, 2011--
US: Assad's Syria a 'dead man walking'
The State Department official, Frederic Hof, told Congress on Wednesday that Assad's repression may allow him to hang on to power but only for a short time. And, he urged the Syrian opposition to prepare for the day when it takes control of the state in order to prevent chaos and sectarian conflict.
"Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of dead man walking," said Hof, the State Department's pointman on Syria, which he said was turning into "Pyongyang in the Levant," a reference to the North Korean capital. He said it was difficult to determine how much time Assad has left in power but stressed "I do not see this regime surviving.". . . here

And Syria is only the most important US target country in the ME, the Iraq challenge still exists, Lebanon is important (receives some US military aid) and of course the old bugaboo Iran has become more vital than ever. Iran has a heavy political influence in Iraq and Syria, and that highway from Tehran to Beirut is a problem especially considering Iran ally (and "terrorist") Hezbollah. So. . .that's why 50,000+ US troops, an air force, and the Navy's Fifth fleet are there.

The main point is that the US world hegemon has to be strong everywhere, especially in Asia, and if it's forced out of anywhere it would set a bad example, going back to 'losing China.'

Oscar Peterson , Jun 23, 2019 11:55:55 AM | 20
@ATH #14
"The issue with the current US strategy in the region is that it defies the reality with such an obstinance that it completely undermines its own goals. The origin of this obstinance is well known to everyone."

Yes, I think that's the issue exactly, and Israel is at the heart of it all. We are undermining our own goals (and scoring own goals.) Your point here captures the current bottom line of US "strategy" in the region.

Don Bacon , Jun 23, 2019 12:01:08 PM | 21
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses." . ."I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.". . .General Smedley Butler, USMC, two Congressional Medals of Honor, veteran of wars in Central America, Europe and China
Don Bacon , Jun 23, 2019 12:19:00 PM | 25
Is Israel responsible for the US enmity toward North Korea? the bombing of Libya and Somalia? Eighteen years in Afghanistan?
No. In the US, to quote Randolph Bourne (1918), war is the health of the state.
. . .With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.
Oscar Peterson , Jun 23, 2019 12:54:22 PM | 36

@Don Bacon #25

"Is Israel responsible for the US enmity toward North Korea? the bombing of Libya and Somalia? Eighteen years in Afghanistan?"

First, I did not claim that every move the US makes is Israel-induced. I said that Israel is at the heart of our overall strategic dysfunction in the Middle East. Libya and Somalia are peripheral, and Afghanistan is not truly in the region at all.

But let's be clear that the rise of both al Quaeda and, as a follow-on, the Islamic State have been greatly facilitated by the resentment generated by the imposition of Jewish state on the region at the expense of the local Arabs. Both bin Laden and Zawahiri have mentioned the Zionist conquest and its wars as formative experiences.

And the rise of IS was a direct result of the US invasion of Iraq, itself induced by the overlapping strains of Jewish neoconservatism and Likudnik hyper-Zionism. The overthrow of Saddam created the political and strategic space for IS to emerge and thrive, and the concerted attempt to overthrow Assad--another Israeli strategic preference--weakened the Syrian state so much that it permitted the establishment of a "caliphate" which then invaded Iraq. This expanding dynamic played a role in Libya as well.

With regard to Saudi Arabia, we have to ask why the US put its weight behind the replacement of Muhammed bin Naif (MbN) with Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) when almost all the USG wanted to tell Salman that we preferred staying with the known and trusted MbN. Almost certainly, Trump's ignorant support of MbS originated with the pro-Israel Jews who dominate his thinking. MbS has been a bonanza for Israel but a disaster for us (and the region.)

And with regard to Afghanistan, the denuding of that theater to resource the Iraq-Iran-Syria invasion/regime change scheme demanded by Israel and its operatives in the US had a definitively negative outcome on US policy in Afghanistan from which, it is now clear, it will never recover.

In East Asia, the negative impact of US Israel-centric Middle East policy can be seen as well. The neocon/Likudnik-induced morass of Iraq into which we marched distracted us from the Asia-Pacific and particularly China's move into the South China Sea, which might have been deterred, if we weren't expending the overwhelming majority of our energy, attention and resources in the Middle East.

And since you bring up North Korea, the Israeli influence on US policy there is certainly secondary but definitely not zero. Israel and its lobby seek an ultra-hard line on any US negotiations with North Korea because they see it as an extension of Iran policy, so in their view, any concession to North Korea is a bad example for Iran. This contributes to impeding any possible negotiated solution to the complex of issues on the Korean Peninsula.

It is truly amazing how far the insidious reach of Israel, its nefarious lobby and the "Is-it-good-for-the-Jews?" obsessions of political Jewry extends into US foreign policy. Our current strategy is, as ATH noted, self-undermining. There really is no historical precedent for it.

jared , Jun 23, 2019 1:24:50 PM | 45
Regarding blatant/outsized influence of israel. Appears they are being treated as 51st state.
Kristan hinton , Jun 23, 2019 12:32:50 PM | 27
Consider that Israel and the USA are one entity.

After all, this is what our elected, alleged representatives posit when they state collectively, in unison, loudly, repeatedly, on their knees, that "the USA maintains an irrevocable bond with Israel".

That statement should bring the condescension and the wrath of the USA public.

For what reason would the USA maintain an "irrevocable bond" with ANY other nation?

Regardless of the fact that ISrael is an apartheid state by its own definition as "The Jewish State of ISrael".

Don Wiscacho , Jun 23, 2019 1:44:16 PM | 51

Don Bacon @41
Oscar Peterson @46

You both have valid points, but I've always believed it's the dog that wags its tail. Sure, if it was simply Palestine, one could expect different nuances of US policy. But any qualitative difference? I don't see it.
The US would still back undemocractic strong men who would treat American interests as paramount in return for US backing of their regime and turning a blind eye to their enrichment at the expense of the general population. The US would be hellbent against any pan-Arab nationalism or anything resembling socialism or sovereignty.
The proof? Well take a look at how the US treats the rest of the world.
The US and Israel have overlapping interests as it relates to the Middle East with the added a