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Welcome, swamp monsters! How Bush-era warmonger David Wurmser is helping Trump take down Iran

By Robert Bridge | RT | January 20, 2020

Despite Trump’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ and reduce the US military’s global footprint, a chief architect of the 2003 Iraq War has the ear of the White House on Iran. What could possibly go wrong?

As Donald Trump’s first term dwindles, it appears his new campaign slogan will be “if you can’t beat the swamp, join it.” That much seems evident not only from the Trump administration’s courting of diehard hawks – gung-ho guys like Elliott Abrams and Mike Pompeo – but by the recent news that David Wurmser was offering counsel to John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the White House.

It should be briefly recalled that Wurmser contributed heavily to the report that argued Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. That claim was eventually proven to be ‘bad intelligence,’ but not before a whole lot of damage was done.

Wurmser gets another shot  

According to journalist Eli Lake, Wurmser built the case for “regime disruption” against Iran in a series of memos sent to Bolton in May and June 2019, a period when tensions between Tehran and Washington were peaking in the Persian Gulf. Lake, who says he was privy to the memos thanks to a high-level source, provides a glimpse into Wurmser’s hawkish thought processes, revealing he told Bolton that offensive military action against Iran would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces… which the regime depends for stability and survival.”

On another occasion, after Iran had downed a US drone, Wurmser suggested in a memo (dated June 22) a retaliatory attack “on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies.” Judging by Bolton’s well-known aggressive stance on Iran, however, he probably did not require much convincing from Wurmser to go after Tehran with both guns blazing.

The revelation that Wurmser was feeding Bolton advice sheds a much-needed light – albeit an opaque one – on Trump’s inexplicable decision in early January to “take out” General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. That high-risk move, carried out on the territory of Iraq, prompted Tehran to respond days later with calibrated strikes on two US military bases inside of Iraq. Today, the situation remains volatile as rhetoric between the two sides has replaced – at least for the time being – outright violence.

Now the question: what could have compelled Trump to place any trust in Wurmser, whose resume reads like that of a bull in a china shop? One possibility is that Trump had no idea Wurmser was feeding Bolton and other members of his administration what amounted to yet more regime change shenanigans in the Middle East. This seems plausible considering the contradictory messages the White House was sending immediately following Soleimani’s cold-blooded murder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, claimed the US had specific information on “imminent” Iranian attacks “against American facilities, including American embassies [and] military bases.” Trump, meanwhile, didn’t sound any more confident with regards to the “imminent threat” of an Iranian attack when he told Fox News, “probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.”

Stranger yet, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, perhaps being more forthcoming than is usual for a military man with secrets to protect, admitted “I didn’t see [evidence], with regard to four embassies” being targeted for attack by Iran. Esper eventually came around to saying that he “shared the president’s view” of an imminent attack from Iran.

It seems plausible that the Trump administration could not get its story straight on where the information about Iran and an “imminent attack” had originated, because admitting it had derived from ‘the swamp’ would not have sat well with their voters. That is certainly no small consideration in an election year.

Why court neocons in the first place?

When Trump hired John Bolton as his National Security Advisor in March 2018, he wasn’t just opening the corridors of power to the notorious hawk, as he may have imagined. The US leader opened the door to all of Bolton’s former colleagues and confidants who share Bolton’s dangerous obsession with going to war with Iran. As a side note, it is worth pondering whether Trump was compelled to hire Bolton because he understood he is not at liberty to abandon ‘the swamp’ as it simply wields too much power in Washington.

What is more likely is that Trump overestimated himself, believing that he was smart enough to stay one step ahead of Bolton and his swamp contacts – like the shadowy Washington insider Wurmser, who in 1996 co-authored another report, entitled, ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.’ Drafted specifically for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the paper promoted the idea of preemptive strikes against Iran and Syria.

So why would Trump take on such a risk? Why not bring in some fresh red-blooded conservative policymakers who genuinely want to see US troops extracted from quagmires around the Middle East and North Africa? Why all this talk about ‘draining the swamp’ when the worst of the swamp creatures are awarded such powerful positions? Perhaps Trump imagined that Bolton’s mustachioed scowl would be enough to bring enemies around to the negotiating table – gaining “leverage” before confronting your opponents, as the real estate developer advised in ‘Art of the Deal.’

Whatever the case may be, the US leader seriously underestimates the fact that there are people out there – the John Boltons and David Wurmsers of the world – who are not looking for the ‘deal of the century’. These people have spent their entire careers lobbying for military confrontation and regime change, as General Wesley Clark revealed with the “seven countries in five years” plan. They will pull any trick in the book to get their wars – and all of the lucrative defense contracts that follow.

Although Trump may have squeaked by – so far – without full-blown military confrontation in places like North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, sooner or later he may get a bad roll of the dice. In fact, he may already have gambled wrongly with the warmongers he allowed into his administration, thereby setting Iran and the United States, and possibly the world, on a deadly crash course.  In that case, Trump would have nobody to blame but himself.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | 2 Comments

US, Russia Agree to Begin Expert-Level Engagement on Strategic Security – State Dept.

Sputnik – 16.01.2020

WASHINGTON – US and Russian delegations during their talks in Vienna decided to begin expert-level engagement on issues of strategic security and expand the dialogue beyond a bilateral format, the State Department said in a press release on Thursday.

“The delegations decided to continue the Strategic Security Dialogue and also to begin expert-level engagement on particular topics in the near future”, the release said. “The delegations discussed their respective national strategic policies as a means to reduce misunderstandings and misperceptions on key security issues. The US and Russian delegations discussed nuclear stockpiles and strategy, crisis and arms race stability, and the role and potential future of arms control, including the importance of moving beyond a solely bilateral format”.

Earlier, Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said in a statement on Twitter that the two sides discussed issues of strategic stability during the talks, which were led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Acting Undersecretary of State Chris Ford.

New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is the last remaining arms control treaty in force between Russia and the United States. Signed in 2010, the pact stipulates that the number of strategic nuclear missiles launchers must be cut by half and limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

Russia has repeatedly stated its readiness to extend the New START without any preconditions, but the US is yet undecided about the extension.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

What’s the Point of NATO If You Are Not Prepared to Use It Against Iran?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 16, 2020

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance commits all members to participate in the defense of any single member that is attacked. An attack on one is an attack on all. Forged in the early stages of the cold war, the alliance originally included most of the leading non-communist states in Western Europe, as well as Turkey. It was intended to deter any attacks orchestrated by the Soviet Union and was defensive in nature.

Currently NATO is an anachronism as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the desire to continue to play soldier on an international stage has granted it a measure of life support. Indeed, the alliance is regularly auditioning for new members. Its latest addition is Montenegro, which has a military consisting of 2,000 men and women, roughly one brigade. If Montenegro should be attacked, the United States is obligated to come to its assistance.

It would all be something like comic opera featuring the Duke of Plaza Toro but for the fact that there are certain things that NATO does that are not really defensive in nature but are rather destabilizing. Having expanded NATO right up to the border with Russia, which the U.S. promised not to do and then reneged, military exercises staged by the alliance currently occur right next to Russian airspace and coastal waters. To support the incursions, the myth that Moscow is expansionistic (while also seeking to destroy what passes for democracy in the West) is constantly cited. According to the current version, Russian President Vladimir Putin is just waiting to resume control over Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and the Baltic States in an effort to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. This has led to demands from the usual suspects in the U.S. Congress that Georgia and Ukraine be admitted into the alliance, which would really create an existential threat for Russia that it would have to respond to. There have also been some suggestions that Israel might join NATO. A war that no one wants either in the Middle East or in Europe could be the result if the expansion plans bear fruit.

Having nothing to do beyond aggravating the Russians, the alliance has gone along with some of the transnational abominations initially created by virtue of the Global War on Terror initiated by the loosely wrapped American president George W. Bush. The NATO alliance currently has 8,000 service members participating in a training mission in Afghanistan and its key member states have also been parts of the various coalitions that Washington has bribed or coerced into being. NATO was also actively involved in the fiasco that turned Libya into a gangster state. It had previously been the most developed nation in Africa. Currently French and British soldiers are part of the Operation Inherent Resolve (don’t you love the names!) in Syria and NATO itself is part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

NATO will now be doing its part to help defend the United States against terrorist attack. Last Wednesday the alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President Donald Trump on the phone in the wake of the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. The killing was apparently carried out using missiles fired by a U.S. Reaper drone and was justified by the U.S. by claiming that Soleimani was a terrorist due to his affiliation with the listed terrorist Quds Force. It was also asserted that Soleimani was planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and would have killed “hundreds” of Americans. Evidence supporting the claims was so flimsy that even some Republicans balked at approving the chain of events.

Nine Iraqis also died in the attack, including the Iraqi General who headed the Kata’Ib Hezbollah Militia, which had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army to fight against the terrorist group ISIS. During the week preceding the execution of Soleimani, the U.S. had staged an air attack that killed 25 Iraqi members of Kata’Ib, the incident that then sparked the rioting at the American Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Bearing in mind that the alleged thwarted terrorist attacks took place seven thousand miles away from the United States, it is hard to make the case that the U.S. was directly threatened requiring a response from NATO under Article 5. No doubt the Mike Pompeo State Department will claim that its Embassy is sovereign territory and therefor part of the United States. It is a bullshit argument, but it will no doubt be made. The White House has already made a similar sovereignty claim vis-à-vis the two U.S. bases in Iraq that were hit by a barrage of a dozen Iranian missiles a day after the killing of Soleimani. Unlike the case of Soleimani and his party, no one was killed by the Iranian attacks, quite possibly a deliberate mis-targeting to avoid an escalation in the conflict.

In spite of the fact that there was no actual threat and no factual basis for a call to arms, last Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone with President Donald Trump “on developments in the Middle East.” A NATO press release stated that the two men discussed “the situation in the region and NATO’s role.”

According to the press release “The President asked the Secretary General for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.” A tweet by White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later confirmed that Trump had “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East.” Prior to the phone call, Trump had announced that he would ask NATO “to become much more involved in the Middle East process.”

As the Trumpean concept of a peace process is total surrender on the part of the targeted parties, be they Palestinians or Iranians, it will be interesting to see just how the new arrangement works. Sending soldiers into unstable places to do unnecessary things as part of a non-existent strategy will not sit well with many Europeans. It should not sit well with Americans either.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Steps Back From the Edge. Neocons Rage Accordingly

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 15, 2020

Trump’s response to the attack on two US military bases showcase a hopeful about face on a dark age agenda which many thought could lead nowhere but World War III in the immediate days following Soleimani’s murder on January 3.

Immediately after the Iranian counter-attacks occurred on Wednesday morning at the same hour of Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s Foreign Minister stated: “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Iran’s retribution was more moderate than many analysts imagined as fore notice was delivered to the Iraqi government 30 minutes before rockets were launched giving American military personnel in the bases ample time to seek shelter.

In Trump’s remarks the following day, the President stated: “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world… ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.”

Although Trump’s speech characterized Iran as a “major supporter of terrorism” and Gen. Soleimani as a “top terrorist”, his assertion that a common interest exists between the USA and Iran in the combat of ISIS is a spectacular break from the neocon agenda. This break is also one of many in a long line of internal struggles emanating from the corridors of American power in the days since Soleimani’s murder. This includes the memo written to the Iraq government by William Seely, commanding general of the Iraq Task Force saying: “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” Seely’s memo created a major crisis amongst the radical war hawks like Mark Esper and Mark Milley who raced to deny the memo’s validity.

Recent revelations published in the Wall Street Journal demonstrating the incredible back channel discussion set up by Trump through the Swiss embassy in Tehran in the hours after Solemenei’s murder also play into this “movement of sanity” within the USA.

The Paradox of America Resolved

This contradictory behaviour is undoubtedly not so confusing for leading figures among Eurasia’s intelligentsia who are not ignorant to the battle occurring within America between nationalists who genuinely wish to end “the forever wars” in the Middle East vs those Pax Americanists embedded throughout the neoconservative and neo-liberal establishments who would rather burn the earth than abandon their dark age ideology. Trump’s many calls for positive relations with Russia and China over the past 3 years terrify these groups, and this potential US-Russia-China alliance has represented a real threat which today’s London-steered impeachment debacle, and years of Russia-gating has always aimed to derail.

With the impeachment bill now sitting in the republican-dominated Senate, the neocons loyal to the Military Industrial Complex which Trump has so loudly criticized have major leverage on the President and are using it. If you are thinking “why would any republican ruin their careers by supporting a democrat-driven impeachment bill against a republican leader?” then you haven’t realized that the drive for war with Iran (as well as Russia and China) is not a matter of “practical politics” for our later day fanatics of the evangelical pre-millennial garb like John Hagee or Benny Hinn who sincerely believe it is man’s duty to usher in Armageddon and fulfill their twisted view of prophecy. Nor is it an issue for their Israeli counterparts who believe essentially in the same prophecy with the small exception that the Savior’s arrival amidst the fires of war will be occurring for the first time rather than the 2nd. If you are reading this thinking “certainly no one could be so nuts”, then let this televised prayer led by Rev. John Hagee and Benny Hinn cause you to think twice:

Bill Kristol, a leading figure behind the neocon cult and co-author of the dystopian Project for a New American Century Manifesto has already poured tens of millions of dollars into billboards, commercials and lobbying teams gunning for Trump’s impeachment. Kristol tweeted on October 17, 2019 that “If Trump is not impeached and removed, the corruption will get even worse, the White House even more lawless, the violations of norms even more routine. The case for impeachment isn’t merely retrospective; it’s prophylactic. And it isn’t merely just; it’s urgent.”

The most recent commercial promoting Trump’s impeachment which Kristol’s think tank Republicans for the Rule of Law released raised the argument that since republicans supported Nixon’s impeachment in 1973, republicans should impeach Trump today.

This argument obviously overlooks the problem that while Nixon actually appeared to have committed crimes, nothing even approximating illegal activity has occurred in Trump’s case.

Things are not as black and white as many believed until recently. Iran’s recent military exercises with Russia and China have demonstrated clearly in the minds of saner Americans that no war with Iran is possible without taking Russia and China on as well. Putin’s brilliant maneuvers in the Middle East have led to the destruction of the Anglo-American plot to grow radical Islam as a geopolitical tool first against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and then against nation states more generally since the Soviet Union’s collapse. For this reason, Putin’s enemies throughout the neocon world and British intelligence have never forgiven him. Although China has not brought much military might to bear in the Middle East, the Belt and Road Initiative has provided a gateway to a durable peace which cannot be overlooked, as BRI projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and beyond have given the Middle East a new chance for a future.

The question still remains whether or not Trump can continue to move away from the WWIII agenda and into this positive alliance.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 19 Comments

Wallace sounds alarm bell on future UK-US defence ties

Press TV – January 12, 2020

Defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has warned that in future Britain may have to contemplate fighting wars without the United States.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Wallace made the extraordinary claim that the prospect of the United States retreating from a global leadership role under Donald Trump keeps him “awake at night”.

In comments that is bound to raise eyebrows in defence circles around the world, Wallace claimed that the UK needs to “rethink” military assumptions in place since 2010, which have centred on close partnership with US armed forces.

The defence secretary said that the government should use the “upcoming defence review” to purchase new kit to ensure that the British armed forces are less dependent on American air cover and spy planes in future wars.

According to Wallace, the UK is preparing to conduct the “deepest review” of the country’s defence, security and foreign policy since the “end of the Cold War”.

Wallace appears to be worried about Trump’s putative “isolationist” tendencies and its impact on Britain’s military and security posture going forward.

“Over the last year we’ve had the US pull out from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said NATO should take over and do more in the Middle East”, Wallace said.

Wallace’s sweeping prediction will strike many defence analysts as odd, at least in immediate terms, and in view of the fact that the UK has given every indication it is prepared to join the US in conducting military operations against Iran.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

After the Assassination of Soleimani, Can We Just Admit that the United States Has No Morality at All?

By Dr. Robert P. Abele | Global Research | January 10, 2020

Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian military commander, who was assassinated this week by the United States in Baghdad, while he was on a peaceful mission, is just the latest, but perhaps most brazen and alarming, declaration by the United States that it is bound by no law and no moral principles. That is the sign of a morally bankrupt government and a similar culture that would support such actions.

This reflection will examine these two issues: the moral codes and the legal codes that do and necessarily must exist between nations and peoples that the U.S. blithely ignores, most horrendously in the case of the Soleimani assassination. I will assume that we can agree that morality is the condition of legality. If one has no concern for the former, there will be no concern for the latter, except what the law allows one to get away with.

For brevity’s sake, let us limit our moral examination to two moral codes: the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and its underpinnings in John Locke’s philosophy. The Declaration says that it is “self-evident” that all people are have equal moral standing, “unalienable rights,” that “among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” To secure these rights is the prupose of government, according to the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson openly admitted to borrowing from the philosopher John Locke to write these words. Locke’s moral concerns were with the freedom of people “to order their actions, possessions, and persons as they think fit,” and with the “state of equality”—i.e., no one has more power than another (i.e., no one has more power over another). Locke stipulated that the “state of liberty…[is] not a state of license”—i.e. no one has the liberty to destroy any other creature beyond what preservation calls for.

The second moral code concerns the morality of war and violence against another country. This is not discussed anymore in the U.S. political arena, and certainly not in the U.S. media. But this does not imply that leaders and media are exempt from moral laws of conduct, even if they choose to ignore them. We should keep them in the public debate arena.

These two principles of morality—one domestically originated, the other internationally—are what keeps governments in check. From the moral realm there are specific issues concerning the use of violence by the State that leaders are called to account for. Especially given current events in the U.S. meddling in the Middle East, we should call them to account for these moral failings.

Just Cause. This refers to an imminent attack by another country on one’s own. Short of this requirement, a just cause is not only lacking, but a military action is not a war. Rather, it is an immoral attack on another nation’s sovereignty. What is the moral cause of Soleimani’s assassination? Our government doesn’t have one. They don’t even appeal to one; they just act as they will. This is the very definition of a “rogue state,” one that has lost the moral authority to be followed by its citizens. By any definition of such a state, it is one that is a threat to the world’s peace. The criteria used to define such a state varies, but it is safe to maintain that any State that ignores or rejects another state’s sovereignty by invasion or assassination of its leaders cannot have a moral standing. Therefore, it cannot claim the assent of its people. Further, those so attacked have a right to fight back, as we now see Iran has done in its missile attack on American installations in Iraq. This “return fire” toward a nation that has attacked them is part of the definition of a “just cause.”

Proper Intention. Intention deals with the principle justifying the goals of contemplated action. As far as we know and can surmise, the only plausible intention of the U.S. in its actions with other nations and with the killing of Soleimani is to exert its own hegemony in the region. This is not a moral principle, and not even a pragmatic one. It is an imperialist one, and thus to be condemned by any moral analysis.

Proper Authority. In the U.S., only Congress can declare war. Further, only Congress can fund war. It has taken responsibility for neither.

Last Resort. War is to be the resort only when all attempts at negotiation have failed. But Trump never negotiated with Iran at all.

Discrimination. Civilians are exempt from military attacks. How many civilians have been killed without discrimination by the war actions of Obama, Trump, and other Presidents?

Proportionality. Proportionality requires that the good that results must outweigh the evils of the war. By all accounts, the results of killing Soleimani are far likelier to be negative than positive.

It takes only a cursory glance to see that the U.S. Congress has long since abdicated its moral and legal role in refusing to take responsibility for its fulfillment of its constitutional mandate to both take back its power declare war, and to control the budget, including the military monies it showers on the Pentagon (both of these mandates and responsibilities are in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. The power to declare war was made even more explicit in the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which specifies that it is the power of the Congress to commit the U.S. to armed conflict, not the power of the President).

This is not just a “Trump issue,” either. We can add that every U.S. President has been a rogue leader in terms of moral values and international law, including Trump’s predecessor, President Obama. Under Obama, drone assassinations, the invasion of Libya, and the little noticed directive to upgrade nuclear weapons to make them not only more tactical (i.e. usable), but to make them radar-proof. Trump’s missile strike on Syria and the assassination of Soleimani simply add to the long history of the immoral actions of the U.S. regarding other countries, such as the overthrow of legitimate governments in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Honduras, Iraq, and support for the Bolivia coup and support of ongoing coup attempt in Venezuela.

From the legal viewpoint, what Trump did in striking Syria with missiles and now in assassinating Soleimani (and what Obama did in his drone assassinations) are war crimes, prohibited by both U.S. law and international law. War crimes, as defined in 18 U.S. Code, §2441, are any breach of the Geneva Conventions, such as intentionally killing or conspiring to kill “one or more persons taking no active part” in a war. Since there was no official war taking place between the U.S. and Iran, and since Soleimani was not in Iraq to make war plans, Trump’s killing is an international war crime of murder.

More specifically in law, the Hague Convention also defines war crimes as including the murder of a non-belligerent. The Hague Convention further includes “Crimes Against Peace” and “Crimes Against Humanity.” The former deals with “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression;” the latter includes “murder.” Importantly, Article 7 states that Heads of State “shall not be considered as exempt from responsibility” for these war crimes.

It does no good to simply state that these are war crimes and then let it go. Action needs to be taken against the war criminals, but that the U.S. media and a large swath of U.S. citizens ignore these concerns is yet another indication of lack of concern in the U.S. for moral and legal codes to which we are all bound in our international relations.

There are many other issues that need only be mentioned here but should be part of the discussion regarding the war criminals in the U.S. government and their domestic enablers. But let us mention only two, just for discussion purposes. First, part of what underlies this lack of morality in U.S. leaders and their willingness to follow international law is their enslavement to capitalist requirements: money in exchange for doing the bidding of the corporation capitalists, such that all the elites—both political leaders and corporate managers—profit. This is most clear in the case of military corporate contracts. Our leaders have co-opted their leadership role and commitment to their citizens for a neoliberal philosophy of individual benefit, leaving such values as equality of all humans and citizen good far behind them.

The other issue just to be mentioned here concerns our militaristic culture and its faux patriotism; for example, the celebration of militarism in sports, and thus as sport, by association of one with the other. For example, not only does the NFL constantly celebrate militarism, but it makes it a part of the game, with officially approved camouflage towels, caps, and uniforms, jets flying overhead, military commercials, etc., and all pasted over with a U.S. flag. Watch how often those militaristic celebrations occur in the NFL playoff culminating in the Super Bowl, and you will have an indication of the culture of militarism that allows people like Trump, Pence, Pompeo, and their predecessors to get away with their crimes.

Lest this brief reflection sounds too abstract to be of practical value, one of the important points here is that what the United States government is willing to do to citizens of a foreign land, and innocent citizens from another country (including immigrants trying to come to the U.S.), they are willing to do to anyone, its own citizens included.

If we want to live in peace, we must stand strong against the brazen immoralities and illegalities of U.S. Presidents and their compliant and complicit Congresses, starting now; starting with standing against Trump’s assassinations and wars, and maintaining a commitment to stand against any presidential war crimes in the future, by Democrats or by Republicans. If we don’t stand now, the same crimes may well be visited upon us in the near future.

***

Dr. Robert Abele is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area. He is the author of four books: A User’s Guide to the USA PATRIOT Act (2005); The Anatomy of a Deception: A Logical and Ethical Analysis of the Decision to Invade Iraq (2009); Democracy Gone: A Chronicle of the Last Chapters of the Great American Democratic Experiment (2009), and eleven chapters for the International Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Global Justice. He and has written numerous articles and done interviews on politics and U.S. government foreign and domestic policies.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 3 Comments

Tel Aviv calls for Gulf States to unite with Israel against Iran

MEMO | January 11, 2020

Former Israeli communication minister, Ayoob Kara, has called for the Gulf States to form a security and economic “union” with Israel, to stand against Iran at all levels, Shehab News Agency reported on Friday.

Kara, who is very close to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, posted on Twitter that the goal of this “union” is to be a “strong front in the face of Iranian evil.”

The tweet came after the Iranian declaration that Iran would turn its hostile arms against Haifa and Dubai. In his tweet, Kara announces: “It is time that the States of the Arab Gulf come together with Israel in a security and economic union to stand against Iran’s threats in the Middle East.”

 

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

US destroyer crossed course of Russian Navy ship in Arabian Sea, Defense Ministry says

Russian Defense Ministry: Unprofessional actions by US destroyer crew “are an intentional violation of international regulations of safety of navigation”

TASS | January 11, 2020

MOSCOW – The US destroyer crossed traffic lane of the Russian Navy ship in the Arabian Sea, as the American crew was acting unprofessionally, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The Defense Ministry pointed out that the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea defines that “when two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way.”

“Therefore, on January 9, 2020 the US Navy destroyer, which was on the left from the traffic lane of the Russian Navy ship sailing ahead, grossly violated the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea, by maneuvering to cross its course,” the Defense Ministry said.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, unprofessional actions by the US destroyer crew “are an intentional violation of international regulations of safety of navigation.”

Along with this, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the US Fifth Fleet’s statement that a Russian Navy ship “aggressively approached” USS Farragut is not true.

“A widely publicized statement by representatives of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet that a Russian Navy ship allegedly ‘aggressively approached’ USS Farragut destroyer in the Arabian Sea is not true,” the statement said.

The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that “the crew of a Russian naval ship acted professionally making a maneuver which made it possible to prevent collision with the intruder ship.” The fact was filmed by onboard cameras of the US Navy Fifth Fleet’s destroyer posted on Twitter, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Earlier, the US Fifth Fleet released a statement accusing the Russian warship of “aggressively approaching” USS Farragut. Footage showing the Ivan Hurs, a Russian Project 18280-class intelligence-gathering vessel, was attached to the post.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Maximum Failure: Trump’s Convulsive North Korea Strategy Can’t Bring Kim to the Table

By Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter – Libertarian Institute – January 9, 2020

Through a combination of myopic diplomacy and disastrous personnel picks, President Donald Trump has wasted a chance to fundamentally remake US relations with North Korea, throwing away a “Nixon goes to China” moment in exchange for a confused “maximum pressure” campaign that’s delivered the same failures of previous administrations. Having missed Pyongyang’s year-end deadline to revive stalled talks, the defects of Trump’s North Korea strategy are on full display.

Ditching Detente

On the campaign trail in 2016, then-candidate Trump took unusually dovish stances on North Korea for a Republican nominee. From openly considering whether to withdraw some of the 30,000 American troops stationed in South Korea, to even inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for an unprecedented visit to the US, Trump at the very least appeared willing to talk – “an overture that would upend three decades of American diplomacy,” the Times told us.

Even after Trump took office, there were early plans for informal talks with North Korean officials, but the trend would soon die. The meetings were abruptly called off, and the president’s first Defense Secretary, James Mattis, was dispatched to Seoul to assure that no troop withdrawal would take place. Trump’s flirtation with detente was only momentary, but it panicked Washington zealots committed to endless hostility with North Korea, some of whom ended up with jobs in the new administration.

So began months of “fire and fury,” which saw the two sides trading threats, the Pentagon carrying out its regular joint war games with South Korea – rehearsing an invasion of the North – and Pyongyang responding with a variety of weapons tests. Casting aside the friendlier tack put forward on the campaign trail, Trump embarked on a “maximum pressure” campaign, leveraging sanctions and tough rhetoric to push North Korea to bow to the American diktat, disarm and effectively surrender.

Freeze for Freeze

While the corporate press was focused on the war of words between Trump and Kim, however, a true believer in Korean peace was elected president in South Korea: Moon Jae-in. The new leader would serve as a counterweight to the hawks in Trump’s ear, making for a convulsive US policy which shifted erratically between open hostility and willingness to talk.

Despite the rising tension at the time, President Moon led a successful effort to see the two Koreas compete under the same flag in the 2018 Winter Olympics, a significant step away from Trump’s tweets of “war and annihilation,” and one which was at least tacitly accepted by Washington.

The symbolic victory of the Olympic games created momentum for Trump’s first summit with Pyongyang – the first ever meeting between an American and North Korean leader – held in Singapore in June 2018.

The meeting was in many ways a success, resulting in a joint statement vowing to continue dialogue on a number of issues, though the North Koreans made it clear from the outset that they would only discuss denuclearization in exchange for trust-building measures from Washington, namely sanctions relief and a security guarantee.

While the summit didn’t result in full rapprochement, it wasn’t all for naught. The North Koreans returned the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War and dismantled a missile engine facility, important small steps toward a truce. Around the same time, a ‘freeze for freeze’ status was adopted, in which Washington would halt its military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a freeze on nuclear and missile tests in the North. Moon, meanwhile, was allowed a freer hand to improve inter-Korean relations.

The Libya Model

A countervailing force would soon challenge Moon’s drive for peace. Hired on as National Security Adviser (NSA) a few months prior to the Singapore Summit, infamous mad bomber and Iraq war devotee John Bolton was instrumental in keeping Trump from making good on his campaign rhetoric, doing his best to ensure US North Korea policy remained sufficiently bloodthirsty.

Bolton is despised in North Korea. He played a role in destroying the Agreed Framework – a Clinton era nuclear agreement later wrecked by the Bush administration – and has openly called for a “preemptive” attack on the Hermit Kingdom. Not long before landing the job as NSA, he penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal making the “legal case” for a first strike.

Weeks ahead of the Singapore summit, Bolton would also invoke Libya as the model for North Korean disarmament. Pyongyang could only take that as a moral threat, all too aware of the grisly fate of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who gave up his rudimentary nuclear weapons program and was later murdered in US-led regime change plot.

By the time Singapore rolled around, however, Trump decided he could deal with Kim after all and the hawkish NSA was sidelined at the meeting, where he was seen sulking and sour-faced as diplomacy between Trump and Kim hit its peak – but it wouldn’t be Bolton’s final act.

Hawks Triumph in Hanoi

In the leadup to the next US-North Korean summit set for Hanoi in February 2019, a divide in the Trump administration deepened as hawks – led by Bolton – continued to push for the “Libya model.” Ignoring the North’s long-held position that its weapons are solely meant to deter an American invasion, Bolton pushed for rapid denuclearization as a condition for any further dialogue (the standard American poison pill), insisting Kim dismantle the country’s entire program in the space of a year. The demand set “absurd expectations” and amounted to a “deliberate attempt to sabotage all talks with North Korea,” observed Daniel Larison of the American Conservative magazine.

Despite the hawks’ push, there was a glimmer of hope that Hanoi could build on the progress of Singapore. US envoy Stephen Biegun had been put in charge of the talks at this stage, who advocated a step-by-step trust-building process that would see the US cautiously trade sanctions relief for a slow dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

The hope was short-lived. In what may have been the highlight of Bolton’s tenure on Trump’s national security team, he would steal the show in Hanoi, persuading the president to scrap Biegun’s more reasonable proposal in exchange for an offer Kim couldn’t possibly accept, once again demanding disarmament before Washington would make a single concession.

As expected, Kim rejected the “deal” outright, the summit abruptly ended and the nascent peace process cooled. The economic war against North Korea – which never ceased throughout the negotiations – marched on, prompting a few small retaliatory missile tests unrelated to Pyongyang’s nuclear program. While Trump downplayed the importance of the tests, it was a clear sign the ‘bad cop’ approach was doomed to fail.

Kim’s Deadline 

With crippling sanctions continuing to grind down the North Korean economy and populace, and the post-Hanoi peace process stagnated, Kim issued an end-of-year deadline last April to revive the talks. The ultimatum called on the US to come to the table before the end of the year, or else Pyongyang would scrap all progress made since the 2018 Olympic Games, including any freeze for freeze commitments it agreed to during that time.

Seeing the bleak prospects for talks, President Moon soon traveled to Washington to plead with his American counterpart and was once again able to grease the wheels of stalled diplomacy. Less than two months after the visit, Trump would send an unprecedented tweet inviting Kim to a historic meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the physical embodiment of the intractable Korean conflict.

TRUMP TWEET – https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1144740178948493314?lang=en

Moon’s hard-fought efforts appeared to finally pay off in the summer of 2019, when all three leaders – Trump, Moon and Kim – met for the first time.

The meeting produced mostly symbolic progress – including Trump becoming the first US president to cross the DMZ into North Korea proper –  but it did end with an agreement to form teams for continued talks. Importantly, the American team would again be led by Beigun, not Bolton or Mike Pompeo, the bellicose secretary of state.

Biegun again looked to take a more flexible approach to negotiations, this time proposing a nuclear freeze deal in exchange for sanctions relief. Better yet, the renewed drive for dialogue occurred as Bolton’s influence seemed to be waning in the White House – he was exiled to Mongolia for a meeting during the DMZ-crossing – with expectations that he would soon get the pink slip.

Making Regress

While the DMZ meeting and Biegun’s new proposal appeared to put things back on track, a major obstacle was fast approaching: joint US-South Korean wargames set for August 2019, which the North had long complained were threatening and unnecessarily provocative. Though the US insisted the drills had been scaled down and were purely defensive, Pyongyang denounced them as a breach of the freeze for freeze status established in 2018, reacting with a series of short-range missile tests.

Rumors about a new round of talks swirled throughout the fall of 2019, but the North Koreans had grown increasingly doubtful of the Americans’ good faith, insisting there would only be another meeting if Washington fundamentally changed its attitude. As November rolled by with no new offer, Kim began referring to a “gift” he might send to the US for Christmas, a vague but ominous threat picked up and amplified in the establishment press.

Much of the progress made in Singapore and at the DMZ had effectively been reversed, leaving the US and North Korea close to where they began when Trump took office, returning to a familiar pattern of threats, military drills and missile tests.

A New Path

It was clear by December that the US and North Korea would not resume serious talks by Kim’s deadline. With Trump – and Washington – fully absorbed in endless impeachment drama, there was simply no time, leaving many to nervously speculate about what kind of “Christmas gift” Kim might have in store.

Jolly St. Kim didn’t even bother to deliver a lump of coal for his Christmas surprise, however, and the day came and went quietly, despite widespread press predictions of a major nuclear weapons test. In the week between Christmas and the New Year, Kim spent four days meeting with his inner circle, thinking long and hard about how to respond to Trump’s failure to meet his deadline.

With none of the theatrics anticipated in the US media, Kim soberly unveiled his “new way” for the new year, resigning himself to an immovable status quo in Washington:

“The present situation warning of long confrontation with the US urgently requires us to make it a fait accompli that we have to live under the sanctions by the hostile forces in the future,” Kim said, according to the KCNA.

Though still holding out for the possibility for a return to the freeze for freeze status, North Korea would no longer actively pursue peace talks. Kim had finally given up.

While the United States and North Korea have not yet returned to the height of enmity reached during Trump’s first year in office, it’s clear the strategy of “maximum pressure” has accomplished less than nothing, utterly failing to bring Kim to the table for a comprehensive peace deal, nor even a smaller preliminary one. Far from abandoning its arsenal, Pyongyang is now more confident than ever in its need for a nuclear deterrent – talking appears to get them nowhere. President Moon may now be the best hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula, but with forces in Washington arrayed against him, even he may not be up to the task.

January 10, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 18 Comments

US interventionist presence in region has to end as soon as possible: Iran defense chief

Press TV – January 10, 2020

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami says Washington’s “interventionist presence” in the region has to end as soon as possible for a de-escalation to take place after recent US provocations.

“Achieving de-escalation, stabilization and security in the region requires the immediate end of Washington’s occupation and interventionist presence,” Hatami said in a phone call with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Thursday.

The talks between the two defense chiefs came after Tokyo announced last month that it has sought to send a warship and a number of patrol aircraft to the Middle East region in order to ensure security amid heightening tensions.

Tokyo receives nearly 90 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East.

Speaking on Thursday, Hatami said “those who seek to assist in de-escalation and achieving regional stability have to remind the Americans, which are a source of regional insecurity, to leave the region.”

The Iranian defense chief added that Iran, being the largest country with an access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has always fulfilled its role in ensuring security in regional waterways.

Hatami’s call for the expulsion of US forces comes a week after Washington assassinated the Middle East’s most prominent anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Speaking to his Japanese counterpart, Hatami called on independent countries to condemn Washington’s “state terrorism”.

He described Soleimani’s assassination as an unprecedented and major crime where a foreign government has acted to kill a senior Iranian military officer in another country.

Speaking on his part, Kono stressed that Japan’s military deployment in the region seeks to ensure regional peace and that it does not intend to take part in a so-called US-led Persian Gulf coalition, which commenced its operations last November.

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, Kono also gave out orders for the Japanese military deployments to begin on Friday.

Earlier last year, Washington called for the formation of the maritime coalition in response to a series of mysterious explosions targeting vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

US officials were quick to blame Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence.

Iran has roundly rejected the accusations, describing the attacks as being part of “false flag operations” seeking to pressure Iran.

Following the tensions, Japan, which has sought to maintain positive ties with both Tehran and Washington, has stressed that it has opted to form its own maritime operation rather than join the US-led mission.

According to The Japan Times, the Japanese operation will operate in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden east of Saudi Arabia and will exclude the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf due to Iran’s concerns regarding the presence of the US-led initiative.

January 10, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 8 Comments

Iran’s Strikes Against the U.S. Demonstrate the Unipolar System Is Truly Over

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 9, 2020

When U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, he certainly had not expected that Iran would respond in the way it did by bombarding two U.S. military bases in Iraqi territory. It is likely that his advisers had convinced him that no country in the world had the courage to attack the U.S. so blatantly as no one else had since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The Iranians did of course, as was expected by those who understand the ideology of the Islamic Republic that has a deeply ingrained martyrdom complex that stretches back to 680AD when Imam Ali Ibn al-Husayn was killed in Karbala, Iraq.

Trump has claimed that there were no American casualties while Iran has claimed there were at least 80. With the Erbil and Ain al-Assad bases bombarded and several U.S. aircraft, drones and helicopters destroyed, it is unlikely that there were no U.S. casualties – however there is no way in knowing at this time whether there were 80. We can expect Washington to keep the true number of casualties a secret, in complete opposition to Iran who openly celebrate their martyrs.

The Ain al-Assad military base is the largest and most equipped U.S. base in the region, and one of a few U.S. special bases around the world, at the size of about half of Lebanon. The fact that the Americans have deployed their most sophisticated radar systems in Iraq, many of which have been destroyed, demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the Patriot missile defense system. This was despite U.S. forces in the region being put on high alert. This will only be in Russia’s favor as it continues to offer the S-400 system to potential buyers.

Not only did the attack on the Ain al-Assad military base expose the ineffectiveness of the Patriot system, Iran also targeted the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan. This base was a center to try and encourage the Iraqi Kurds to rebel against the central government in order to put pressure on the central Iraqi government. The attack on the Erbil base was a warning that even a U.S. withdrawal into Kurdistan does not make them  safe.

It was expected by most commentators that Iran’s retaliation for the martyrdom of Soleimani would be in the form of utilizing its regional paramilitary allies on U.S. positions. By directly attacking U.S. forces brazenly and openly, Tehran has demonstrated that the U.S. are not safe in any part of the region. However, Iran had no choice but to retaliate as not doing so would demonstrate the country’s leadership only had empty rhetoric in defending itself. The U.S. would certainly be more inclined to carry out further attacks against Iran and its allies if Tehran did not respond.

If there is a war going on in Iraq between the U.S. and Iran, it probably will not be limited to one country and will engulf the whole region, and potentially, across the world. Washington cannot be counted on to abide by international laws and regulations. The countries in the region, particularly the Gulf States, should also bear in mind that the presence of U.S. bases on their land will not only fail to provide security, but will also endanger their national security as all states who assist the U.S. in any aggression against Iran will become legitimate targets, as Tehran has already warned.

Rather, the murder of Soleimani has only united Iranians, including those who have been protesting across the country since November, blaming the government for the increased fuel prices and difficult economic situation, ignoring the crippling U.S. enforced sanctions. The major demands of the Iranian people are now for the expulsion of the U.S. military from the region, something that the Islamic Republic’s leadership has loudly and clearly demanded as well.

Since Iran has made its first response to the U.S. so directly, Trump for now is refusing to respond militarily and will impose greater sanctions against Iran. However, Iran has already made the demand that the U.S. withdraw from the region. To achieve this without directly provoking Trump again, Iran is likely to employ the militias it backs in Syria and Iraq to target U.S. military installations. With any Israeli involvement in this war effort, Iran can use Hezbollah and various Palestinian militias to pressure the Jewish state internally and externally.

Therefore, since Iran has already promised to expel the U.S. from the region, the next phase of the anti-U.S. war effort will be asymmetrical warfare by Iran. If Iran engages in asymmetrical warfare, the return of dead and wounded American soldiers will severely hamper Trump’s re-election campaign this year as he originally ran on the ticket of criticizing wars in West Asia when he was competing for the presidency against Hillary Clinton years earlier. The Iranian leadership are now in control of the future of the West Asia and have demonstrated they are willing to retaliate against the U.S. who is seeking to maintain the unipolar hegemonic world order that emerged with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Iran has once again shown that the 21st century is not one of unipolarity that Washington hopes to maintain, but rather multipolar with several strong middle and Great Powers.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Operation Kayfabe: How Trump and Iran avoided war while both claiming victory

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | January 8, 2020

For a moment there, as missiles were flying, it looked like a US-Iran war was inevitable. Then, just as suddenly, both sides walked away. What happened? The key to figuring it out might just lie in professional wrestling.

Last night, Iran launched two volleys of missiles at two bases in Iraq that house US troops and equipment, calling it revenge for the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. US President Donald Trump called him a “terrorist” and a “monster,” but Iranians considered him a beloved war hero, and there was no way the IRGC could let his death go unavenged.

Trump, however, threatened to strike 52 targets in Iran – the same as the number of US embassy staff taken hostage after the 1979 revolution – if any “Americans or American assets” were harmed. Throughout Tuesday, the US president kept oddly quiet on Twitter, choosing only to amplify the anti-Iran messaging of the most hawkish senators, and let the Pentagon and State Department chiefs take the lead in saying there will be no withdrawal from Iraq. It seemed like any Iranian action would guarantee a war.

Democrats, media talking heads and antiwar activists alike were absolutely convinced that Trump was getting into a war with Iran. Everything pointed to it. Any hope that the situation could de-escalate seemed like wishful thinking. Some Hollywood celebs were even pleading with Tehran “please do not kill us,” and asking the Iranian government to hold out till November so Trump can be voted out of office.

So when the US president walked up to the White House podium and addressed the nation on Wednesday – only to announce that his response will be more sanctions and calling for greater NATO involvement, rather than unleash the might of the US military – a lot of people were were left confused, to say the least.

That’s because the American chattering classes forgot what in retrospect seems like a very important detail from Trump’s biography: before he ran for president, before he had a hit reality TV show… he was a superstar of professional wrestling. That’s not surprising, because they believe themselves too elite and too educated for that lowbrow form of entertainment – but Trump’s base does not.

Unlike the internationally known sport, professional wrestling is a specifically North American form of performance art, in which everything is staged but everyone pretends it is real and true. There is even a specific term for maintaining this pretense before the general public: kayfabe.

What if Trump’s threats of bombing Iranian heritage sites or refusing to withdraw from Iraq – even though he campaigned on doing just that – were all part of kayfabe, an act intended to gull the gullible into believing it was all real? Moreover, what if Iran was in on the act and chose to launch the missiles at largely empty warehouses, while giving Americans ample warning via the Iraqis ahead of time, so as to avoid any deaths?

It sounds unbelievable, right? Yet there is no denying that it is precisely how events played themselves out.

Speaking on Wednesday, Trump used standard rhetoric about Iran to bury two very important points that pundits largely missed. One is that the US is now energy independent and therefore far less vulnerable to events in the Middle East than in the 1970s, during the Arab Oil Embargo or the Iran hostage crisis. The other was his direct repudiation of the ‘Albright doctrine’ of US interventionism established in the 1990s with a glib remark.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean that we have to use it,” Trump declared.

Those two things, I am fairly confident, were not kayfabe. Expect both to be largely ignored by the chattering classes, though, as they focus on who “caved” first and slowly get back to routine.

What matters at this moment is that the war that seemed inevitable did not actually happen. The IRGC got to tell the Iranian people that their brave soldiers avenged “martyr Soleimani” by smiting the “Great Satan.” Trump got to tell the American people that, since no lives were lost, he could shrug it off as insignificant and walk away. Both of them ended up looking triumphant, while their hysterical critics and doomsayers ended up looking like fools. And let’s remember, in politics and pro wrestling alike, perception is everything.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment