The anti-Iran, anti-Syria US Washington, DC district court of the absurd illegally ordered both countries to pay $178.5 million in damages to the family of an Israeli infant killed in a 2014 vehicular incident.
Israel calls wars of aggression, lethal shootings of Palestinians, and other barbarous acts self-defense. It considers legitimate resistance against brutal occupation harshness terrorism – a knee-jerk response to all incidents, Palestinians automatically guilty by accusation.
The family in question has dual Israeli-American citizenship. Their three-month-old infant was killed when Palestinian Abdel Rahman Shaludi’s vehicle struck people at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill light-rail station in October 2014.
Israel accused him of ties with Hamas, illegally called a terrorist organization. It’s Palestine’s legally elected government.
Parents of the deceased child sued in the US district court, awarded a default judgment, the entire procedure a sham, a scheme to denigrate and punish Iran and Syria illegally.
Attorneys for the plaintiff claimed both countries support Hamas, their legal right if true. Based on this flawed judgment, the court ruled against them – an unjust decision Tehran and Damascus denounced, intending to pay nothing, now now, not ever, nor should they.
In March 2016, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari denounced a US court ruling against the Islamic Republic for the US state-sponsored false flag 9/11 attack, assessing it $10.5 billion in damages to family members of individuals killed, as well as to insurers for costs incurred.
At the time, Ansari minced no words calling the ruling “ridiculous and absurd to the point that it makes a mockery of the principle of justice while further tarnishes the US judiciary’s reputation.”
The new ruling against Iran and Syria is just as spurious, offensive, and illegal. Neither country has had anything to do with incidents in Israel or America. Claiming otherwise is a despicable fabrication.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | January 12, 2017
The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power.
The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard.
What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed – man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is a great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance.
What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America’s establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure.
Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now.
Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “nonsense.” But a second wave now laps up with an equally unsupported claim that the Russians have a compromising dossier on Donald Trump, an attempt to plant the idea that Russia will have direct influence over Trump’s policies. This malicious effort at “poisoning the well” for a political successor, brings to mind the time, some years back, when the ugliest of clutch of Israeli settlers, those who swaggered around Gaza behind barbed wire enclosed-compounds, full of attitude and always toting light machine guns while under the malevolent guard of Israeli soldiers, decided to leave their hopeless situation. They quite literally poisoned the water wells they had used before strutting away. I cannot imagine a much shabbier act. But here is Obama and his appointees doing much the same thing, effectively hacking away at what little democracy America has left out of sheer maliciousness.
I don’t mean to say that such gross lying began with Obama. The wizard’s control booth for smoke and lights and thundering sounds was not invented by him. There was nothing but eight years of lies from the weird triumvirate presidency of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush and from the corrupt and often-inept Clinton government. Lies are what big countries or organizations do when their activities will not stand up to public scrutiny. When countries secretly play dirty tricks, when they kill, and when they apply mafia-like pressure on allies and international organizations to do as they are told, they simply lie about all of it, always. Such activity has characterized America for a very long time. How can it be otherwise when you try to control the planet?
It’s just that eight years ago, we had some reason to believe Obama would be different, at least a little different, but he is not. He is just as shabby, murderous, and deceitful as his immediate predecessors, sometimes even more so. He has been at war somewhere every single day of his eight years. He has bombed seven countries. In his last year alone, he is said to have dropped over 26,000 bombs. Literally hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Peace Prize winner with the big boyish smile. I’ve often asked myself what it is that motivates Obama, and I don’t know. Sometimes he seems to fit the well-known pattern of the charming, smiling psychopath who secretly likes to kill.
Sometimes he just seems weak and, yes, cowardly, someone who has allowed the brass and big suits around those conference tables to run roughshod over him, leaving him with nothing but the pretense of authority. This could explain what is a remarkable sense of arrogance observed at times when he is around outsiders as a kind of psychological reflex to his living in his job under constant bullying. After all, Bush’s whole presidency was a pretense: he pretended to be president, and Cheney and Rumsfeld – the precise quality of men who, had they lived in 1930s’ Germany would have been seen happily “working towards the Führer” as they used to say – deferentially allowed him to do so as they ran everything. Bush was the first president to prove America doesn’t even need a president except to sign documents, much like the formal requirement for a witness’s signature on a legal document.
We know, too, that Bush was as close to a moron as ever held the office, because we watched his insipid face and listened to his inability to articulate a clear sentence for eight years. Sometimes, we do see glimmers of something similar from Obama, statements and behaviors that would not be expected from someone of forceful intelligence – the unsupported Russian hacking accusations being one, but also such matters as his foolish public dismissal of Russia, the only country which can literally obliterate the United States, as a great power – only with Obama we don’t see Bush’s Alfred E. Neuman look, we see a serious, stiff mien and a tone and posture of arrogance. A well-practiced cover-up behavior for inadequacies?
I don’t know, and it really does not matter. He has been a terrible president in every important respect, but he maintains a fair number of supporters who I guess are impressed with the big boyish smile, although that is seen far less often now, the baritone voice, and perhaps the sheer, unprecedented fact of a black man standing in his position. There’s no accounting for taste or popularity, as we see in every corner of contemporary celebrity culture, and American politics absolutely has an important element of celebrity culture, just as it loves to use celebrities as endorsements. Think of the last days of Hillary Clinton’s tired campaign when she had, yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z appearing in Ohio. It is hard to imagine what political or economic or social information that pair of pop celebrities had to offer voters, and it was reported by some that they were quietly paid millions for some minutes of effort to help swing the state with razzle-dazzle. After all, this was the Hillary Campaign, a glorious travelling circus that is estimated to have burned through $1.2 billion.
Many do expect something different from Trump, and we can hope their expectations are well-founded. His entire path to the presidency does show some unorthodox attitudes and methods – unorthodox, that is, by the claustrophobic standards and practices of that center of world empire, Washington, not unorthodox in some wider sense – and they show a very tough and driven man. It is simply a fact that anyone missing the last quality cannot function effectively as President in 21st-century America. The general environment in Washington, without the least exaggeration, may be compared to the proverbial snake pit or to scenes from the last days of Roman Empire.
That is why, for example, Bernie Sanders is such a hopeless hope. The man conducted an impressive crusade, displaying considerable skills, yet he just folded in the end, leaving his enthusiastic followers in limbo and giving up to Hillary Clinton who represented almost everything he opposed and who stood before him as someone who had just clearly cheated him out of the nomination through a whole range of cheats, ploys and gimmicks. Yet, he just accepted her and even did some campaigning for her.
Such a personality offers zero promise in face-to-faces with Pentagon generals, CIA Big Suits, mega-corporation presidents, and some foreign leaders who are closer to Mafiosi than politicians. What do you expect out of a little place like Vermont? It’s lovely. I’ve spent time there. But it resembles a great deal something from a backlot set for “Lassie Come Home” or “Anne of Green Gables.” I know, I know, Bernie originally came from hard-bitten New York, but the operative word there is “came.” Whatever his reasons for seeking bucolic, low-stress bliss, they do not make him material for presiding over Washington’s Chamber of Horrors.
Many Americans themselves, including both liberals and conservatives, are well aware of the dishonesty of their government, if only in a vague sense, but they know the task of doing anything about it is just too overwhelming and difficult to consider. After all, peasants on a 17th century estate hardly dared dream of changing the “natural order” in which they lived. And ordinary Americans work extremely hard to raise their families, and a great many of them do not work at all. They do not command great resources for all the costs and activities of a crusade. The general human condition in Western countries has not changed quite so much as some like to imagine over a few centuries of enlightenment and progress. A huge number of Americans count only for brief moments when their ballots are sought with sound-bites and vacuous ads. Afterwards, the establishment goes on just as before, ignoring them and getting back to the business of lying.
The papers people read – and, thanks to the spreading, corrosive effects of American imperialism, I include other Western countries, not just the United States – and the broadcasts to which they listen are uniform in discouraging any truly fresh way of looking at things and in suppressing the hope that arrangements can be much different. They universally avoid telling the truth where government prefers that they don’t. The idea of independent and principled journalism is something you only find in brochures for journalism schools or in Hollywood films.
The two major American political parties – together forming a duopoly of political power little different in overall its effect from the kind of monopoly power American authorities like to disparage in other, “less free” places – certainly do not provide much room for fresh voices or new initiatives. Over long periods, they can actually be quite stifling, much like high officials in a church concerning accepted truth and doctrine. The parties are totally dominated by money – money that can only come in the volumes required for marketing, advertising, polls, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, facilities of every kind, publicity, and travel expenses from extremely wealthy people and special interests who are not the least interested in any significant change to a very cozy and comfortable situation.
The dominance of the Clintons in the Democratic Party through their money connections has been an arrangement to defend the status quo. It was a clever construction. The Clintons got to be center stage, play-acting as liberals and agents of change, in exchange for the kind of money which absolutely guaranteed that they never for a moment could forgot that they were just playing parts, not really doing anything of consequence. Bill Clinton’s record as President is interchangeable, remarkably so, with what might have been expected from a traditional Republican. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State made her promise for the future, if anything, far more extreme in the same direction, and especially when it came to serving special interests and waging bloody war. The woman wore $11,000 Armani suits regularly and commanded $300,000 a pop plus expenses and comforts (right down to a standard demand for a certain bottled water to be supplied) for a long series of tedious speeches on America’s military given to investment bankers, and she made private jokes about people dying, as we know she said of Julian Assange, “Couldn’t we just drone him or something?” Or there was her appalling joke about the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, a man who had been a good leader to his people, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, ha!”
The Democratic Party, given its distant past, especially the now all-but-forgotten legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, is the one from which an outsider viewing America, with no close knowledge of it, might reasonably have expected to find some prospect for change. But that seems a naïve hope if you understand who are the interests keeping the wheels of the organization turning.
The Democratic Party has become completely an establishment party, and one that literally morphed into the War Party along the way. Today, it offers a menu of the lightest possible offerings of social interest – the political equivalent of a platter of Ladies’ Tearoom sandwiches and dainties served by waiters in white gloves – just to differentiate itself from the Republicans and to make Americans of any degree of genuine liberal sentiment feel a little more comfortable. Since there aren’t a great number of the latter left in America by all appearances, the offerings can indeed be extremely modest.
Of course, these menu offerings consist of suggestions, attitudes, and slogans, not hard proposals for change, real change, in anything. The Democrats’ recent history of political behavior much resembles what mega-corporations do when they stick an image of a pink bow on their product packaging for a while and run a few, likely tax-deductible, ads promising purchasers that they will be helping in the fight against breast cancer by buying the brand. Imagine a package of Marlboros with a pink bow printed on it, and you get the picture.
Nothing better represents this modern Democratic leitmotif than Hillary Clinton’s long record of sound-bite concerns on many topics accompanied by a record of no actual effort spent on doing anything beyond getting elected. She started her last campaign saying every woman who is a rape victim deserved to be believed – something surely many young women and sympathetic men found re-assuring – yet she herself had dismissed privately, out-of-hand, for years a platoon of women pointing to her own predatory husband with the same charge.
Again, her displeasure with the Electoral College – echoed recently after her defeat – was first declared back in 2000, when George Bush won with a popular minority, but there is no record of her doing any work towards amending that outdated and anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, as during her eight years as a Senator. No, that would be a huge task to undertake, and political rewards are greater for sound-bites than they are for actual slogging hard work on anything most people do not even understand. Captains on the bridge with their gold braid and brass buttons on immaculate uniforms get noticed, not the sweating engineers actually running the ship down in the boiler room.
Make no mistake, the Democrats are bedrock establishment today, a party defending mostly backward views of the world and of American society. They are nothing more than the political Coke to the Republican’s Pepsi, or vice versa. And all the endorsements and advertising in the world do not change the reality of two sugary, dyed, fizzy drinks, indistinguishable in taste to many. Eight years of Obama – a man whose first campaign saw him sometimes wearing sandals and eschewing a totemic, imperialistic American flag pin on his lapel and intoning to cheering crowds, “Yes, we can” – proved that beyond all doubt.
Political figures like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein are pretty close to irrelevant in the steaming boiler room of real American politics. Ideas are virtually never an issue in American elections. Neither is improving government’s service to citizens, from education to healthcare. Neither is the proper financing and budgeting of government. Neither is a reduction to insane military and security spending. How can it be otherwise in this “pounding fist” of an imperial society? All such American politicians tend to remind one of some naïve political science professor lecturing a rapt first-year audience of undergraduates excited about being out of high school and entering “the real world.”
This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like the Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.
Barack Obama is not one of those marginal American politicians, having gained the leadership of one of the two great parties, and yet in eight years he changed almost nothing worth changing. Whether the plight of whistleblowers in America or the third-world conditions prevailing in American cities where many of his fellow black people survive in squalor. He did nothing to reform a financial system that gave the world a collapse from which it still has not recovered. He did virtually nothing about the nation’s rotting schools or rotting infrastructure. He whined about guns but never acted in a serious way on the huge problem of police who shoot people dead on the nation’s streets, more than 1,100 of them last year alone
Yet he signed, time after time, record legislation for squandering money on the military and Big Intelligence. Under his command, the Pentagon literally burned pallet-load shipments of cash on bad programs such as the failed F-35 fighter, a new super-aircraft carrier that doesn’t work, a new type of littoral combat ship that doesn’t work, and a new Zumwalt-class destroyer that has proven an embarrassment. And there are the hugely expensive and highly intrusive NSA Supercomputer Data Centers. This is not a record of which to be proud, and it is about as far from liberal or progressive as you can go.
And, of course, this “liberal,” as so many insist still on calling him, ended by killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on “kill lists,” placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.
If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin’s Gulag or Hitler’s concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA’s basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.
Obama has told more lies than anyone could possibly count while conducting so much killing and destruction, and he has done so unblinkingly. If you have ever noticed, government officials doing shameful and illegal things do tend to lie about what it is they are doing. And when Obama wasn’t telling lies, he made secrecy and lack of transparency hallmarks of his administration. He is said to feel very harshly towards whistle-blowers and leakers. He ends his grubby term of office with baseless, self-serving public accusations comparable in every way to those of Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s.
McCarthy, a Republican, was also someone the establishment quietly supported for a time. He served their purposes, until he started weaving dangerously on the road, much like a drunken driver. He departed from the accepted script and began hurling accusations everywhere, and not just accusations about “commies” in the State Department, a place the establishment of the time hated. He came to relish accusing some targets of being sexual perverts, and he attacked new target after new target, threatening the ability of government even to function. For those who don’t know, J. Edgar Hoover, perpetual director of the FBI and an early supporter of McCarthy, was gay and a cross-dresser in private.
Of course, the establishment doesn’t have to worry about the embarrassing excesses of Obama and pompous appointees like James Clapper, as they finally did about those of McCarthy, because this pair of vicious clowns faithfully did just as they were supposed to do, and they are now headed for the exit doors. But they do have to worry about Trump, a man who already has expressed intelligent skepticism over the offerings of Big Intelligence as well as intelligent skepticism about the shameful and immense waste of the Pentagon. Importantly, he has asked why the entire Mideast is on fire and why Russia should be viewed as an enemy. And that is why the likes of Obama and Clapper have taken on a last-minute, rearguard destructive operation on behalf of those fearful of change.
It is certain that Joseph McCarthy’s rise to power could not have happened without important silent support, and his fall, after pretty much disgracing himself, allowed members of the establishment to congratulate themselves in public over protecting America from such demagoguery. All of this, from beginning to end, was complete hypocrisy, the very kind of hypocrisy we have screaming at us today from Washington. A similar claque of powerful people today congratulates themselves on efforts to interfere with the proper and peaceful transition of power to a man they’ve arbitrarily labelled a demagogue.
America’s mainline press has supported the claque by painting Trump as a dangerous demagogue, and I think it is largely over their resentment for his literally hi-jacking a very tired, almost worn-out, Republican Party – which resembled a becalmed antique sailing ship going nowhere – and promising to power it off in new directions. Of course, those loyal to the Clinton-Obama War Party greedily join in the accusations against Trump, seemingly completely innocent or even unaware of behavior ranging from insider plots to steal Hillary’s nomination from a contender to killing a third of a million people in Syria and who knows how many in Libya.
Also, they literally hate the prospect that the War Party, which they have faithfully supported for years, may be crumbling. And, who knows, even the possible further prospect of its demise after recent events revealed it to the public as a mafia-like operation with little respect for democratic process or principles of any kind? Stranger things in politics have happened, and political parties are no more guaranteed eternal life than the crowds at American revival meetings who raise their arms in child-like fantasy towards some huckster-preacher banging the Bible at the podium.
You must always remember, America’s press, which loves to congratulate itself regularly on its journalistic principles, is a mature and in some ways declining industry which is owned, through consolidations, by a very small number of corporate interests who completely support the Neocon Wars and a highly aggressive American foreign policy which puts American corporate interests first, everywhere, and reduces foreign governments, such as those in Europe or Japan, to American satrapies. The dominant views of America’s establishment are not enlightened, not democratic, not open-minded. They are “me-first” and keep competitors abroad under your thumb.
The subject of the Neocon Wars raises the related issue of the Israel Lobby’s influence in American politics. These destructive wars and an associated hyper-aggressive American foreign policy reflect this influence. The term “Neocon” refers to a coterie of influential people in Washington over the last fifteen years or so, people who have openly advocated for a highly aggressive policy of asserting American global dominance, always including a subsidiary aim, expressed with the euphemism, “the birth of a new Middle East.” Eliminating any independent-mindedness in the countries of the Mideast and assuring Israel’s complete imperialistic dominance over the region are the primary goals of the wars and interventions which have cost about two million lives and immense destruction over the Bush-Obama era. The extent of much of this holocaust is allowed to remain hidden from the public by our obliging corporate press, and efforts at explaining the causes has been a great throbbing engine for the production of lies.
But what is the long-term sense of assuring total dominance by eight million people, many of them immigrants, over hundreds of millions of others with centuries of history in the region? Eight million people who have no relationship or common history or culture and views with the great masses over which they are to dominate? An essentially European, urban people who share only a religion – and many of them not even that since Israel has a high proportion of non-believers – with the ancient Hebrews who once lived there? Even that number of eight million is deceptive since it includes over a million Arabs who are accidentally, and not with full equality, technical citizens of Israel.
These terrible Neocon Wars are, in addition, largely responsible for two devastating developments in our time. The first is huge movements of terrified refugees into Europe, millions of them, causing immense difficulties and putting great stress on the very foundations of the EU.
The second is the phenomenon we call international terror, which in fact is a side effect of the Neocon Wars. A huge amount of weaponry has been scattered around in the region by supporters of the American policy. Then, large numbers of mercenaries and rootless, violent people have been deliberately recruited, paid, and supplied to assist in carrying out America’s policy, as in Libya and Syria. Finally, there are large numbers of angry young men now who seek revenge for what has been done to their homes and families. It is a witches’ brew our press deliberately confuses by calling it international terror while constantly promoting the idea of Arabs and Muslims being undependable, unstable, and backward people, a concept welcomed and supported by the residents of the American crusader fortress we call Israel. The entire effort has been a guaranteed formula for instability and human misery.
In reality, what we call international terror is largely the “blowback” of American policies which themselves amount to state terror. Israel, of course, finds comfort in headlines in the West about “international terror” since the fear of that notion helps Americans and Europeans feel a bit more bonded to the fears Israel has always felt in its position as a colony planted by violence in an alien region. Many Israelis undoubtedly feel about their millions of neighbors much the way the Old South’s planters used to feel about the large number of inhabitants in the slave quarters as they went to bed each night with pistols and daggers kept under their pillows. Fear of rebellion was constant and worked like a poisonous substance in the Old South society, even though there was only one rebellion, a small one too, that ever happened. That endless unease explains why Old South society was well known for its inclination to violence, as in the infamous “code of the Old South.” Doesn’t Israel have much the same reputation?
America’s assistance and policies keep a garrison state not only going but growing, growing through the regular seizure of their neighbors’ property, a terrible practice which successive American governments fear addressing. Why? I think the Israel Lobby’s extremely well-organized efforts in American politics explain that. Support Israel, almost unconditionally, and you will receive large campaign donations and positive press coverage (remembering, it is a much-consolidated American press owned by quite a small number of companies). Criticize Israel and your opponents will get the donations and you will get negative press coverage. This has been an on-going pattern since the days when Harry Truman first agreed to recognize Israel, against his private best judgment, at a time when he felt vulnerable because his own re-election was quite uncertain.
While in the short term this massive bloodshed and destruction may be reassuring for Israel, having pretty much everything around it flattened, over the long term I do not see how this can be anything but destabilizing.
Destabilizing just as is the $38 billion, ten-year military-assistance agreement Obama just extended to Israel, a country perfectly able to pay for its own defense. This amount vastly exceeds what the United States gives any other country, even far larger ones in far greater economic need. The amount represents an increase of more than a quarter over the previous decade’s assistance agreement. And Obama gave it without a single condition imposed on Israel at a time when Israel’s government is constantly violating laws, rights, and international norms and agreements. I can’t think of any other place on earth where it is regarded as just fine suddenly to march out and seize someone else’s farms or homes. You cannot build a sound future society for yourself that way, quite apart from the injustice and misery inflicted on others.
Yet, the press often gives the impression that Obama is no friend to Israel. It is well-known that Obama and Netanyahu personally dislike each other intensely, and Netanyahu has gone out of his way to demean or embarrass Obama several times. So, does the immense size of this military-assistance agreement reflect the influence of the Israel Lobby? I think it does, and it all points again to Obama’s total inability in office to fight for anything worth fighting for, such as conditions at least placed on a criminal government being handed a vast fortune, something approaching $500 each year for each citizen of Israel, almost a national basic personal income, if you will, supplied by America.
It is often asserted that the term “Israel Lobby” indicates prejudice, but saying that is just a form of reverse-prejudice, another version of the worn-threadbare accusation that if you criticize Israel, you are, ipso-facto, anti-Semitic. Indeed, this false idea has become as common as rain, and Israel has made considerable diplomatic efforts through the years, with some success, in Europe and in North America to have criticism of Israel criminalized in one fashion or another.
Two distinguished American scholars – John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government – wrote a serious book on the subject of the Israel Lobby, establishing the fact and of its existence beyond question. Others, too, have contributed to understanding the phenomenon.
And we also see, from time to time, events which bring the reality forcefully home. Israeli diplomats in London were just caught on video discussing bringing down British MPs regarded as unfriendly to Israel. Well, talk about direct interference in the internal affairs and elections of others! Newt Gingrich, when last running for his party’s presidential nomination, went around making speeches about how there really was no such thing as a Palestinian after receiving the best part of $20 million dollars in campaign donations from a very wealthy and avid supporter of Israel. Freshmen American Congressmen after an election are routinely “offered” – I put that in quotes because it is not an offer to be declined without political consequences – paid holidays to Israel for indoctrination. Recently, the New York Times confirmed the discovery that all of its stories concerning Israel are routinely passed by the official Israeli Censor before being published. Hillary’s most massive contributors over the years are members in good standing of the Lobby.
One of the most predictable and bordering-on-absurd regular happenings in Washington around this subject is Senator Lindsey Graham suddenly leaping to his feet at any mention of Israel which has even a hint of less-than-fulsome praise or at any proposal to give a less-than-lordly hand-out and going into paroxysms. I’ve asked myself why that would be. Why should Senator Graham, who represents Baptists in South Carolina, choose the role of political pit bull on guard for Israel? Why should he care so intensely and constantly about Israel? Well, I spent a short time reading about him and looking at photos, and I couldn’t help being struck by the distinct possibility of Senator Graham’s being gay.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, unless you happen to represent South Carolina, surely one of the more backward and least tolerant states in the Union. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Senator Graham was caught, years ago, in a “honey trap” by Mossad, and he has been given to understand that compromising photos exist. Today, he is a tireless defender of all things Israeli. It is hard to explain such sustained motivation otherwise. Exactly the same kind of thing happened to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover early in his career. The Mafia is said to have had compromising photos of him and a male lover, and that old bull dog-faced lawman eventually became notorious for not pursuing the Mafia, allowing it decades of comfortable growth after the repeal of Prohibition.
He always chased instead almost non-existent Communists, keeping the Communist party of America’s ranks packed with undercover FBI Agents and its coffers filled with their expensed donations so that it kept the appearance of something formidable when it wasn’t and served to justify constant FBI budget increases. It might be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” approach to spying, much like the CIA’s approach to its annual Soviet estimates during the Cold War. The estimates were always wildly inflated, and the CIA always got the budget increases it sought. Security service empires have a way of growing exponentially regardless of the threat level. They share with the military the almost magical ability to be always discovering dire new needs for their services.
The whole set of matters concerning Israel forms a huge indigestible mass at the very center of American politics. Clearly, it is better in every way to halt the Neocon wars. Clearly, also, it is better to force Israel to make peace and define its still undefined borders by accepting the status quo of 1967. Clearly, it is better to have a stable, peaceful region with good long-term relations with the United states. But, these things are easier said than done, and precisely because of the Israel Lobby which always defends Israel, even when it pursues destructive policies and goals, as it so frequently does.
A lot of people hope Trump will halt the stupid wars, and a lot of people, recognizing his political history of being an upstart without a lifetime’s obligations to the usual political crowd, think he may be in a good position to do something important in the Mideast. There is ambiguity here though, owing to some references about moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a non-starter for peace, if ever there was one, but the references are also quite possibly a deal-maker lure, for there can be little doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both Israel and Palestine in the end.
At least, ending the wars is the sine qua non of anything to be called progress. It is also part of a needed de-escalation in America’s current hyper-aggressive global posture. If you want a better domestic economy, there are few better places to start than paring back the unbelievable waste of great masses of ships and planes and tanks rumbling around everywhere and creating nothing of economic value. Nothing is more wasteful and destructive than maintaining such a military establishment. No one better knows how to waste money than the military with its every movement of a truck or plane costing immensely more than the same act in the civilian economy and none of the movements producing any worthwhile good or service. And the nonsense of keeping Europe and Russia as near-enemies rather than flourishing economic partners only impoverishes everyone.
But it is not sound economic thinking or a sensible approach to world affairs which has governed America’s use of its military for years. It is indulgent, uncaring pride, the arrogance of a wealthy establishment which does what it does simply because it can. It is a formidable barrier against progress which is not going to just fade away. And Trump’s political base, while clearly excluding Neocons, does include the belly-over-the-belt types who, perhaps unthinkingly, like to see Old Glory waving everywhere. So, there is a big set of difficulties for him to work through, and it is not at all clear how he can do so.
The establishment’s waste and arrogance and paying-no-attention to ordinary people really are what motivated a lot of Americans to vote for Trump, especially when the other choice was the very embodiment of those arrogant qualities, annoyingly and patronizingly taking a moment, here and there, to nibble a piece of fried chicken with the folks in some obscure diner. Good photo-op. Americans very much feel they have a national government which behaves more as an occupying power than as a legitimate institution to serve them. And the fact that it spends so much time and money and credibility on trying to control the planet does have a tendency to influence its resources and its very attitudes at home. After all, they are occupied with earth-shattering matters abroad, and you, well, you just don’t count in the scheme of things.
But politics never provides complete change, as some naïve political thinkers like to believe. America remains a huge imperial power essentially run by wealthy people for the interests of wealthy people, and that is not going to change any time soon, but that does not preclude some changes in the way things have been conducted because not all wealthy people see their interests as being identical, and wealthy people making decisions do sometimes make very bad ones. Never mind how the Pentagon and CIA, under Obama and Bush, have stomped their heels into the necks of countless thousands of innocents and wrecked whole societies, just look on the home front at the shabby way corporate giants can behave.
We have Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and turning it into a more complete propaganda factory than ever, publishing, for example, a scurrilous, libelous list of Internet sites said to be under Russian influence, a list obtained from an “anonymous source” which almost certainly just happen to reside in Langley, Virginia. We have Facebook’s shuffling, t-shirted multi-billionaire appointing himself American Guru of Truth and Fakery in the News. This from the founder of one of the most fake-filled sites on the Internet, notorious previously for fake reader “likes” which affect advertising rates, but, more importantly, an outfit which ceaselessly censors and spies on its users, sucking information from them like a Dyson whirlwind vacuum cleaner to sell to marketers and send along to the security services. Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik (formerly, RIA Novosti, The Voice of Russia ), an informative and entertaining site I have checked for years, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site. This from the company that started years ago with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm. And look at the way Microsoft introduced Windows 10, including violations of fundamental conventions on the Internet such as a pop-up “install” box whose “dismiss command” did precisely the opposite when the “x” was selected, or the way another giant, Apple, has treated some of its customers, including things like “bricking” their costly phones if any effort is made to change or repair anything.
It is simply about the arrogance of power, a phrase the late Senator Fulbright wrote years ago to describe America’s murderous and pointless crusade in Vietnam.
Politics can shake-up a few institutions which need shaking-up, expose a few rotten actors and send them packing, turn around a few dangerous policy paths, and it can grant the people at large a sense of some new possibilities. Sometimes, and this may be one of those times. But the fanatical wing of Trump supporters, especially those on the “alt-right” are almost certain to be disappointed when he does not re-create America the way “accepting Christ” is supposed to re-create a sinner.
Trump seems a man of enough independent-mindedness and independent wealth and seasoned toughness of personality to withstand the assaults he will face from the establishment in Washington. Actually, I shouldn’t say “will” because he is facing waves of them before he even takes the oath, and he is doing admirably well at handling them. There is a claque of very rich and influential people who are not going to disappear into the woodwork despite losing control now. However, he is himself a rich man with a rich man’s interests, and he is not likely to lose his sense of direction in a wave of patriotic fervor which some Americans confuse with religion. He will have done as much as any candidate could if he ends the killing and the mindless interference in the affairs of others and creates some programs which bring jobs to large numbers of now-hopeless Americans. He actually does have a chance at genuine political greatness, but I would not bet the farm on it.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says Muslim nations should close their ranks in the face of Israeli attempts to take advantage of rifts in the Islamic world and the terror threats facing the Middle East.
Hariri made the remarks in a meeting with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, in Beirut on Saturday.
He said divisions in the Muslim world, including those among Palestinian factions, besides the terror activities in the region serve the interests of the Israeli regime, urging Muslims to set aside their rifts and focus, instead, on common goals.
Cooperation among Muslim countries can turn the Islamic world into “a large economic hub” and consequently upgrade its status, the premier added.
Hariri further underlined his resolve to reinforce relations between Tehran and Beirut in all areas, especially in economy and trade, calling for measures to remove the obstacles to the expansion of bilateral ties.
In turn, Boroujerdi described his meeting with the Lebanese prime minister as “constructive and positive,” saying they discussed the restoration of security to the region, Lebanon’s National News Agency quoted him as saying.
He further emphasized that the two countries have a common position on the political settlement of the Syria crisis.
“There is no doubt that stability and security in Syria reflect positively on security and stability in Lebanon, in Iran and the region in general. We agreed that the shameful and heinous acts carried out by terrorist Takfiri extremist groups are not related to the Islamic religion in any way,” the senior Iranian lawmaker said.
Touching on the issue of bilateral ties, Boroujerdi said Iran is ready “to build on the bright, positive and constructive political circumstances that have arisen in Lebanon.”
Hariri became prime minister last December, after the Lebanese parliament elected Michel Aoun as president, ending a 29-month-long political stalemate in the country.
Given the tendency for Jewish radicals to carry the day, it is worth describing the most radical Zionist fringe as it exists now. It is common among radical Zionists to project a much larger Israel that reflects God’s covenant with Abraham. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, maintained that the area of the Jewish state stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”110 This reflects God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15: 18–20 and Joshua 1 3–4: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” The flexibility of the ultimate aims of Zionism can also be seen by Ben-Gurion’s comment in 1936 that
The acceptance of partition [of the Palestinian Mandate] does not commit us to renounce Transjordan [i.e., the modern state of Jordan]; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.111
Ben-Gurion’s vision of “the boundaries of Zionist aspirations” included southern Lebanon, southern Syria, all of Jordan, and the Sinai.112 (After conquering the Sinai in 1956, Ben-Gurion announced to the Knesset that “Our army did not infringe on Egyptian territory… Our operations were restricted to the Sinai Peninsula alone.”113 Or consider Golda Meir’s statement that the borders of Israel “are where Jews live, not where there is a line on the map.”114
These views are common among the more extreme Zionists today— especially the fundamentalists and the settler movement—notably Gush Emunim—who now set the tone in Israel. A prominent rabbi associated with these movements stated: “We must live in this land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer [the land].”115 Indeed, in the opinion of Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, “It is not unreasonable to assume that Gush Emunim, if it possessed the power and control, would use nuclear weapons in warfare to attempt to achieve its purpose.”116 This image of a “Greater Israel” is also much on the minds of activists in the Muslim world. For example, in a 1998 interview Osama bin Laden stated,
[W]e know at least one reason behind the symbolic participation of the Western forces [in Saudi Arabia] and that is to support the Jewish and Zionist plans for expansion of what is called the Great Israel…. Their presence has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews in Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab Peninsula which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel.117
To recap: A century ago Zionism was a minority movement within Diaspora Judaism, with the dominant assimilationist Jews in the West opposing it at least partly because Zionism raised the old dual loyalty issue, which has been a potent source of anti-Semitism throughout the ages. The vast majority of Jews eventually became Zionists, to the point that now not only are Diaspora Jews Zionists, they are indispensable supporters of the most fanatic elements within Israel. Within Israel, the radicals have also won the day, and the state has evolved to the point where the influence of moderates in the tradition of Moshe Sharett is a distant memory. The fanatics keep pushing the envelope, forcing other Jews to either go along with their agenda or to simply cease being part of the Jewish community. Not long ago it was common to talk to American Jews who would say they support Israel but deplore the settlements. Now such talk among Jews is an anachronism, because support for Israel demands support for the settlements. The only refuge for such talk is the increasingly isolated Jewish critics of Israel, such as Israel Shamir118 and, to a much lesser extent, Michael Lerner’s Tikkun.119 [or sites like Mondoweiss]. The trajectory of Zionism has soared from its being a minority within a minority to its dominating the U.S. Congress, the executive branch, and the entire U.S. foreign policy apparatus.And because the Israeli occupation and large-scale settlement of the West Bank unleashed a wave of terrorist-style violence against Israel, Jews perceive Israel as under threat. [In Netanyahu’s critique of the UN Security Council resolution, he emphasized Palestinan terrorism as the main reason preventing a two-state solution.] As with any committed group, Jewish commitment increases in times of perceived threat to the community. The typical response of Diaspora Jews to the recent violence has not been to renounce Jewish identity but to strongly support the Sharon government and rationalize its actions. This has been typical of Jewish history in general. For example, during the 1967 and 1973 wars there were huge upsurges of support for Israel and strengthened Jewish identity among American Jews: Arthur Hertzberg, a prominent Zionist, wrote that “the immediate reaction of American Jewry to the crisis was far more intense and widespread than anyone could have foreseen. Many Jews would never have believed that grave danger to Israel could dominate their thoughts and emotions to the exclusion of everything else.”120 The same thing is happening now. The typical response to Israel’s current situation is for Jews to identify even more strongly with Israel and to exclude Jews who criticize Israel or support Palestinian claims in any way.
This “rallying around the flag” in times of crisis fits well with the psychology of ethnocentrism: When under attack, groups become more unified and more conscious of boundaries, and have a greater tendency to form negative stereotypes of the outgroup. This has happened throughout Jewish history.121
Several commentators have noted the void on the Jewish left as the conflict with the Palestinians has escalated under the Sharon government. As noted above, surveys in the 1980s routinely found that half of U.S. Jews opposed settlements on the West Bank and favored a Palestinian state.122 Such sentiments have declined precipitously in the current climate:
At a progressive synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Rolando Matalo was torn between his longtime support for Palestinian human rights and his support for an Israel under siege. “There is a definite void on the left,” said Matalo…. Many American Jewish leaders say Israel’s current state of emergency—and growing signs of anti-Semitism around the world—have unified the faithful here in a way not seen since the 1967 and 1973 wars…. These feelings shift back and forth, but right now they’re tilting toward tribalism.123
Note that the author of this article, Josh Getlin, portrays Israel as being “under siege,” even though Israel is the occupying power and has killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis.
“I don’t recall a time in modern history when Jews have felt so vulnerable,” said Rabbi Martin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles…. This week, the center will be mailing out 600,000 “call to action” brochures that say “Israel is fighting for her life” and urge American Jews to contact government leaders and media organizations worldwide…. Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said debate over the West Bank invasion and the attack on the Palestinian Jenin refugee camp is overshadowed by “a strong sense that Israel needs us, that the world Jewry needs us, that this is our wake-up call.” He said he has been overwhelmed in recent weeks by numerous calls from members of synagogues asking what they can do to help or where they can send a check…. “I have American friends who might have been moderate before on the issue of negotiating peace, but now they think: ‘Our whole survival is at stake, so let’s just destroy them all,’” said Victor Nye, a Brooklyn, N.Y., businessman who describes himself as a passionate supporter of Israel.
In this atmosphere, Jews who dissent are seen as traitors, and liberal Jews have a great deal of anxiety that they will be ostracized from the Jewish community for criticizing Israel.124 This phenomenon is not new. During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post criticized the Begin government and was inundated with protests from Jews. “Here dissent becomes treason—and treason not to a state or even an ideal (Zionism), but to a people. There is tremendous pressure for conformity, to show a united front and to adopt the view that what is best for Israel is something only the government there can know.”125 During the same period, Nat Hentoff noted in the Village Voice, “I know staff workers for the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress who agonize about their failure to speak out, even on their own time, against Israeli injustice. They don’t, because they figure they’ll get fired if they do.”126
Reflecting the fact that Jews who advocate peace with the Palestinians are on the defensive, funding has dried up for causes associated with criticism of Israel. The following is a note posted on the website of Tikkun by its editor, Michael Lerner:
TIKKUN Magazine is in trouble—because we have continued to insist on the rights of the Palestinian people to full self-determination. For years we’ve called for an end to the Occupation and dismantling of the Israeli settlements. We’ve called on the Palestinian people to follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Gandhi—and we’ve critiqued terrorism against Israel, and insisted on Israel’s right to security. But we’ve also critiqued Israel’s house demolitions, torture, and grabbing of land. For years, we had much support. But since Intifada II began this past September, many Jews have stopped supporting us—and we’ve lost subscribers and donors. Would you consider helping us out?”127
Another sign that Jews who are “soft” on Israel are being pushed out of the Jewish community is an article by Philip Weiss.128 The refusal of liberal American Jews to make an independent stand has left the American left helpless. American liberalism has always drawn strength from Jews. They are among the largest contributors to the Democratic Party; they have brought a special perspective to any number of social-justice questions, from the advancement of blacks and women to free speech. They fostered multiculturalism…. The Holocaust continues to be the baseline reference for Jews when thinking about their relationship to the world, and the Palestinians. A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from a friend of a friend in Israel about the latest bus-bombing. “They’re going to kill us all,” was the headline. (No matter that Israel has one of largest armies in the world, and that many more Palestinians have died than Israelis). Once, when I suggested to a liberal journalist friend that Americans had a right to discuss issues involving Jewish success in the American power structure—just as we examined the WASP culture of the establishment a generation ago—he said, “Well, we know where that conversation ends up: in the ovens of Auschwitz.”
Because of Jewish ethnocentrism and group commitment, stories of Jews being killed are seen as the portending of another Holocaust and the extinction of the Jewish people rather than a response to a savage occupation—a clear instance of moral particularism writ large.
The same thing is happening in Canada….
This is the third day of the year, and perhaps you would like to do some journalistic investigation. Get a microphone. Go to any major city in America or any city around where you live. Ask a number of people about how many civilians died in Iraq alone last year.
Certainly you will not get an answer that is close to the exact number precisely because virtually no major news outlet gives a flip about innocent people dying in the Middle East. And if those major news outlets put out some figures, they will never go into the real issues because that will implicate the Khazarian Mafia and their marionettes.
According to some accounts, at least 9,148 civilians and 6,430 personnel lost their precious lives in Iraq. Last month, 3, 174 civilians died right before the new year started. Who cares about those people?
Well, certainly not the oligarchs. Certainly not the Neoconservatives. Certainly not the major news outlets. And obviously not political whores and puppets like Ann Coulter. “For my young readers,” Coulter declared, “The Middle East has been a hellhole for a thousand years and will continue to be a hellhole for the next thousand years.”
Coulter seems to have magical powers. She seems to know what the future will look like in the next thousand years. But she chould never see herself as an accomplice in bringing about a “hellhole” in the Middle East. And if you think that people like Coulter is not intellectually suicidal, then think again.
Coulter believes that the war in Iraq was a “a magnificently successful war.” But what about sodomy in places like Abu Ghraib? Don’t worry. Coulter already has an answer for you.
“I suffered more just listening to the endless repetition of those Abu Ghraib stories than the actual inmates ever did,” sniffs Coulter indignantly. But she was just warming up. She has said elsewhere:
“Sorry we have to use your country, Iraqis, but you let Saddam come to power, and we are going to instill democracy in your country.”
As you know, Coulter is delusional here. No serious person with an ounce of brain cells working together can say that the Iraq war was a success. Military historian and former Colonel Andrew Bacevich, whose son died in Iraq, writes,
“Apart from a handful of deluded neoconservatives, no one believes that the United States accomplished its objectives in Iraq, unless the main objective was to commit mayhem, apply a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, and then declare the patient stable while hastily leaving the scene of the crime.
The fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacted a huge price from the U.S. military—especially the army and the Marines. More than 6,700 soldiers have been killed so far in those two conflicts, and over fifty thousand have been wounded in action, about 22 percent with traumatic brain injuries.
“Furthermore, as always happens in war, many of the combatants are psychological casualties, as they return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported in the fall of 2012 that more than 247,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been diagnosed with PTSD. Many of those soldiers have served multiple combat tours.
“It is hardly surprising that the suicide rate in the U.S. military increased by 80 percent from 2002 to 2009, while the civilian rate increased only 15 percent. And in 2009, veterans of Iraq were twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical American.
“On top of all that, returning war veterans are roughly four times more likely to face family-related problems like divorce, domestic violence and child abuse than those who stayed out of harm’s way.
“In 2011, the year the Iraq War ended, one out of every five active duty soldiers was on antidepressants, sedatives, or other prescription drugs. The incidence of spousal abuse spiked, as did the divorce rate among military couples. Debilitating combat stress reached epidemic proportions. So did brain injuries. Soldier suicides skyrocketed.”
There is more to this Middle East issue here. CNN reported last week that “New Year’s holiday threats prompt more security.” But what about precious Arabs and Muslims? We want to protect our children and love ones in America, but the Muslims deserve to die?
Oh, a slip of the pen here. I just realized that they are all terrorists and not a single one of them is innocent. As Gilad Sharon would have us believe, Muslims, particularly “the residents of Gaza,” are not “innocent” at all.
In 2015, Brown University reported that 200,000 civilians lost their precious lives in Iraq. Last year, 1,500 children lost their lives within six months alone in Afghanistan. Imagine the uproar among the Neoconservative establishment if Muslims ended up killing just 50 American children in one year.
You see, New World Order agents aspire to turn the Middle East into ashes for Israel. But every step they take inexorably leads them to their own destruction. If Donald Trump again wants to be a successful president, he needs to put a stop to perpetual killings in the Middle East. Mothers and fathers are exhausted about seeing their precious sons and daughters’ dreams shattered by an essentially diabolical enterprise.
 Ann Coulter, Never Trust a Liberal Over 3-Especially a Republican (Washington: Regnery, 2013), 3.
 Ann Coulter, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans (New York: Random House, 2007), 2.
 Quoted in George Gurley, “Tea With Miss Coulter,” New York Observer, October 2, 2007.
 Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed their Soldiers and Their Country (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 94, 105.
 Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, “New Year’s holiday threats prompt more security,” CNN, December 30, 2016.
 Jack Moore, “Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties and Child Deaths Hit Record High in 2016,” Newsweek, July 25, 2016.
An Argentine federal appeals court will order the reopening of a probe that accuses former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish center in 1994, state news agency Telam said on Thursday.
Two years earlier the prosecutor who initially made the accusation, Alberto Nisman, was found shot dead in the bathroom of his Buenos Aires apartment. Nisman had said Fernandez worked behind the scenes to clear Iran and normalize relations to clinch a grains-for-oil deal with Tehran.
Nisman’s death rocked Argentina, with some trying to pin the blame on the government of Fernandez, whose late husband President Nestor Kirchner ordered the investigation into the AMIA bombing. However, courts have repeatedly dismissed the allegations of an official conspiracy.
Fernandez’s government said Nisman’s murder was perpetrated by rogue agents from the defunct Secretariat of Intelligence — a holdover from Argentina’s Dirty War era — which was dissolved immediately after his death, but a report by Reuters revealed that President Mauricio Macri’s government wants to revive the infamous agency, sparking fears of a return to authoritarian rule and open class warfare in the country.
Iran has repeatedly denied any link to the bombing, and an Argentine judge in February 2015 dismissed Nisman’s accusations as baseless. A review panel later agreed, finding insufficient evidence to formally investigate the president.
Still, a delegation of Argentine Jewish associations pushed Macri to reopen the case, citing new evidence.
Fernandez has faced numerous criminal charges since leaving office a year ago. Earlier this week, she was indicted on corruption charges arising from allegations she skimmed money intended for public works projects, which her supporters say are being launched used to prevent Fernandez from running for office in the future.
The tail will be wagging the dog under Donald Trump
While the presidential campaign was still in progress it was possible to think that there might be some positive change in America’s broken foreign policy. Hillary Clinton was clearly the candidate of Washington Establishment hawkishness, while Donald Trump was declaring his disinclination for democracy and nation building overseas as well as promoting détente with Russia. Those of us who considered the foreign policy debacle to be the most dangerous issue confronting the country, particularly as it was also fueling domestic tyranny, tended to vote on the basis of that one issue in favor of Trump.
On December 1st in Cincinnati, president-elect Donald Trump made some interesting comments about his post-electoral foreign policy plans. There were a lot of good things in it, including his citing of $6 trillion “wasted” in Mideast fights when “our goal is stability not chaos.” And as for dealing with real enemies, he promised to “partner with any national that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism…” He called it a “new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past” adding that “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks.”
Regarding the apparent inability of governments to thoroughly check out new immigrants prior to letting them inside the country, demonstrated most recently in Nice, Ohio and Berlin, Trump described how “People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East — we have no idea who they are, where they come from what they are thinking and we are going to stop that dead cold. … These are stupid refugee programs created by stupid politicians.” Exaggerated? For sure, but he has a point, and it all is part and parcel of a foreign policy that serves no actual interest for people who already live in the United States.
But, as so often with Trump, there was also the flip side. On the looney fringe of the foreign and national security policy agenda, the president-elect oddly believes that “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” So to reduce the number of nukes we have to create more of them and put them in more places. Pouring gasoline on a raging fire would be an appropriate analogy and it certainly leads to questions regarding who is advising The Donald with this kind of nonsense.
Trump has promised to “put America first,” but there is inevitably a spanner in the works. Now, with the New Year only six days away and the presidential inauguration coming less than three weeks after that, it is possible to discern that the new foreign policy will, more than under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, be driven in significant part by Israeli interests.
At least Obama had the good sense to despise Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that will not be true of the White House after January 20th. Trump’s very first telephone conversation with a foreign head of government after being elected was with Netanyahu and during the campaign, he promised to invite Bibi to the White House immediately after the inauguration. The new president’s first naming of an Ambassador-designate to a foreign nation was of his good friend and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to Israel. Friedman had headed Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee and is a notable hard liner who supports the Israeli settler movement, an extreme right-wing political entity that is nominally opposed by existing U.S. government policy as both illegal and damaging to Washington’s interests. Beyond that, Friedman rejects creation of a Palestinian state and supports Israel’s actual annexation of the West Bank.
U.S. Ambassadors are supposed to support American interests but Friedman would actually be representing and endorsing a particularly noxious version of Israeli fascism as the new normal in the relationship with Washington. Friedman describes Jerusalem as “the holy capital of the Jewish people and only the Jewish people.” Trump is already taking steps to move the U.S. Embassy there, making the American government unique in having its chief diplomatic mission in the legally disputed city. The move will also serve as a recruiting poster for groups like ISIS and will inflame opinion against the U.S. among friendly Arab states in the region. There is no possible gain and much to lose for the United States and for American citizens in making the move, but it satisfies Israeli hardliners and zealots like Friedman.
The Trump team’s animosity towards Iran is also part of the broader Israeli agenda. Iran does not threaten the United States and is a military midget compared either to nuclear armed Israel or the U.S. Yet is has been singled out as the enemy du jour in the Middle East even though it has invaded no one since the seventeenth century. Israel would like to have the United States do the heavy lifting to destroy Iran as a regional power. If Washington were to attempt to do so it would be a catastrophe for all parties involved but that has not stopped hardliners from demanding unrelenting military pressure on Tehran.
Donald Trump is not even president yet but he advised Barack Obama to exercise the U.S. veto for the resolution condemning Israeli settlements that was voted on at the United Nations Security Council on Friday, explaining that “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”
This is a straight Israeli line that might even have been written by Netanyahu himself. Or by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which fumed “AIPAC is deeply disturbed by the failure of the Obama Administration to exercise its veto to prevent a destructive, one-sided, anti-Israel resolution from being enacted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In the past, this administration and past administrations have rejected this type of biased resolution since it undermines prospects for peace. It is particularly regrettable, in his last month in office, that the president has taken an action at odds with the bipartisan consensus in Congress and America’s long history of standing with Israel at the United Nations.”
Ah yes, the fabled negotiations for a two state solution, regularly employed to enable Israelis to do nothing while expanding their theft of Arab land and one wonders how Trump would define what is “fair to the Palestinians?” So we are already well into Trump’s adoption of the “always the victim argument” that the Israelis have so cleverly exploited with U.S. politicians and the media.
Not content with advising Obama, Trump also reportedly took the Palestinian issue one step further by directly pressuring the sponsoring Egyptians to postpone any submission of the resolution. Expecting to have a friendly president in the White House after January 20th, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi complied on Thursday but the motion was reintroduced by New Zealand, Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia on the following day. The resolution passed with 14 yes votes and a courageous U.S. abstention after Obama finally, after eight long years, developed a backbone. But unfortunately, Trump’s interventions suggest that nothing critical of Israel will be allowed to emerge from the U.N. during his term of office. Referring to the U.N. vote, he said that “things will be different after January 20th.”
The United Nations resolution produced an immediate reaction from Israeli Firsters in Congress and the media, led by Senator Chuck Schumer and the Washington Post. The Post featured a lead editorial entitled The Obama Administration fires a dangerous parting shot and an op-ed The United States just made Middle East peace harder by no less a redoubtable American hero than Eliot Abrams. Look in vain for any suggestion of what might be construed as an actual U.S. interest in either piece. It is all about Israel, as it always is.
The problem with Israel and its friends is that they are never satisfied and never leave the rest of us Americans alone, pushing constantly at what is essentially an open door. They have treated the United States like a doormat, spying on us more than any ostensibly friendly nation while pocketing our $38 billion donation to their expanding state without so much as a thank you. They are shameless. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer has been all over American television sputtering his rage over the United Nations settlements vote. On CNN he revealed that Israel has “clear evidence” that President Obama was “behind” the resolution and he announced his intention to share the information with Donald Trump. Every American should be outraged by Israel’s contempt for us and our institutions. One has to wonder if the mainstream media will take a rest from their pillorying of Russia to cover the story.
For many years now, Israel has sought to make the American people complicit in its own crimes while also encouraging our country’s feckless and corrupt leadership to provide their government with political cover and even go to war on its behalf. This has got to stop and, for a moment, it looked like Trump might be the man to end it when he promised to be even-handed in negotiating between the Arabs and Israelis. That was before he promised to be the best friend Israel would ever have.
Israel’s quarrels don’t stay in Israel and they are not limited to the foreign policy realm. I have already discussed the pending Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bipartisan effort by Congress to penalize and even potentially criminalize any criticism of Israel by equating it to anti-Semitism. Whether Israel itself wants to consider itself a democracy is up to Netanyahu and Israeli voters but the denial of basic free speech rights to Americans in deference to Israeli perceptions should be considered to be completely outrageous.
And there’s more. Israel’s government funded lawfare organization Shurat HaDin has long been using American courts to punish Palestinians and Iranians, obtaining punitive damages linked to allegations regarding terrorist incidents that have taken place in Israel. Now Shurat HaDin is using our courts to go after American companies that do business with countries like Iran.
Last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran included an end to restraints on the Islamic Republic’s ability to engage in normal banking and commercial activity. As a high priority, Iran has sought to replace some of its aging infrastructure, to include its passenger aircraft fleet. Seattle based Boeing has sought to sell to Iran Air 80 airplanes at a cost of more than $16 billion and has worked with the U.S. government to meet all licensing and technology transfer requirements. The civilian-use planes are not in any way configurable for military purposes, but Shurat HaDin on December 16th sought to block the sale at a federal court in Illinois, demanding a lien against Boeing for the monies alleged to be due to the claimed victims of Iranian sponsored terrorism. Boeing, meanwhile, has stated that the Iran Air order “support(s) tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.”
So an agency of the Israeli government is taking steps to stop an American company from doing something that is perfectly legal under U.S. law even though it will cost thousands of jobs here at home. It is a prime example of how much Israel truly cares about the United States and its people. And even more pathetic, the Israel Lobby owned U.S. Congress has predictably bowed down and kissed Netanyahu’s ring on the issue, passing a bill in November that seeks to block Treasury Department licenses to permit the financing of the airplane deal.
The New Year and the arrival of an administration with fresh ideas would provide a great opportunity for the United States to finally distance itself from a toxic Israel, but, unfortunately, it seems that everything is actually moving in the opposite direction. Don’t be too surprised if we see a shooting war with Iran before the year is out as well as a shiny new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem (to be built on land stolen from Palestinians, incidentally). Trump might think he is ushering in a new era of American policy based on American interests but it is beginning to look a lot like same-old same-old but even worse, and Benjamin Netanyahu will be very much in the driver’s seat.
A senior Iranian diplomat emphasizes the need for a peaceful settlement of regional issues, saying warfare in the Middle East only benefits Israel through undermining the resources of regional nations.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaber Ansari made the remarks during a meeting with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday.
“The solution to the region’s crises is not a military one. Not only doesn’t war lead to resolution of complications, but it will result in the erosion of the regional countries’ competencies, and has [hence] no winner other than the Zionist regime [of Israel],” the Iranian official asserted.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Ansari also said the cure to the existent confrontations among the region’s political movements only lies in “serious dialog.”
Ansari described his talks with Hariri as “very favorable and constructive,” saying regional affairs as well as the expansion of Tehran-Beirut ties were discussed in the meeting.
The Iranian official further praised Lebanon’s positive role in the region as well as its “effective and proactive resistance against the Zionist regime’s occupation, expansionism and aggrandizement” over the past two decades.
The Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah is credited with defending the country against two wars launched by Israel, in 2000 and 2006. It has also been successfully helping the Syrian army fight Saudi-backed Takfiri militants in order to prevent the Syrian conflict from spilling over to Lebanon.
Hariri likewise said political solutions need the participation of domestic factions and the recognition of their views.
“If it were not for empathy and understanding among all Lebanese sides and political movements, we would not be witnessing their agreement and election of General Michel Aoun as president, the formation of a government, and the introduction of cabinet ministers,” he said.
On October 31, Lebanese legislators elected Aoun as president, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum. The Maronite Christian founder of the Free Patriotic Movement succeeded Michel Sleiman.
On Sunday, the country announced forming a new 30-minister cabinet led by Hariri. The government brought together the country’s whole political spectrum except for the Christian Phalangist party, which did not accept the portfolio it had been offered.
Ansari congratulated the Lebanese premier on the inauguration of the national unity government.
The Iranian official is to meet with other senior Lebanese political officials on Friday.
He arrived in Lebanon via Syria, where he had met separately with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Prime Minister Imad Khamis and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
A report published by The Century Foundation (TCF), a US-based policy think tank, helps shed light on the inner workings of the small northern city of Idlib, Syria.
Idlib is to US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Jabhat Al Nusra (also known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or Al Qaeda in Syria) as the eastern Syrian city of Al Raqqa is to the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (IS).
It is also home to a wide range of other militant groups cooperating with the terrorist organization, as well as a myriad of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) funded and directed by the US, Europe, Turkey and the Gulf states.
And while great hope resides within statements of US, European and Gulf state politicians, echoed across their respective media platforms for this city’s possible role as an alternative “capital” for an alternative “government,” opposed to the current Syrian nation-state, TCF’s report dumps a cold bucket of water on what was but a spark, not even a flame of hope.
The “Opposition” Exists Solely Through the Support of Foreign Interests
The report titled, “Keeping the Lights On in Rebel Idlib,” describes a city so dangerous and dysfunctional, the authors of the report could not even venture there to conduct their interviews, which were instead conducted remotely from the other side of the Turkish-Syrian border.
The report even admits that the “provincial council” meant to replace the Syrian government remained based in Turkey for years and still maintains an office there today.
The report states:
In Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, residents have established local governance bodies that provide needed services and simultaneously pose a political challenge to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. No overarching authority has replaced the state after it was forced from Idlib. Islamist and jihadist armed groups hold power at the local level, and have developed relatively sophisticated service coordination bodies. Yet ultimate decision-making power has typically sat with donor organizations outside the country.
The report points out that armed groups compete not only for influence within Idlib, but also for access to the constant stream of resources foreign donor organizations provide. The report admits that this foreign aid (dominated by USAID) sustains Idlib’s occupiers, who themselves lack the ability to unify the city, fund any of their activities, let alone challenge the Syrian state.
The report also admits that initially the Syrian government was able to protect Idlib’s urban centers, and that they only fell after the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey was taken over. This suggests that an influx of weapons, supplies and fighters over the border from Turkey, with Turkish and other state-sponsors’ backing, helped turn the tide against Syrian forces, not the momentum of the “uprising” itself.
Idlib province is now one of the few regions in the country that still has an unsecured border with Turkey, making it no surprise that Idlib remains one of the few areas still left beyond the Syrian government’s control. The report also admits terrorist organizations (Ahrar al-Sham and Al Nusra) dominate this remaining region, contrary to US and European rhetoric.
Dysfunction in Idlib Mirrors Failed Intervention in Libya, Afghanistan
The TCF report explores the various facets of dysfunction plaguing Idlib including corruption, nepotism and interference from armed groups. The crippling dependency on foreign aid and the constant infighting is not only the shape of things to come nationwide should the Syrian government ever be toppled, but it is also a reflection of Libya post US-NATO intervention, or even US-occupied Afghanistan.
With contractors interested only in getting paid, and local groups being consumed with infighting, Idlib provides the latest example of failed US-European “nation building.”
Idlib a Failed City, Would Preside Over a Failed Nation
The report refers to Idlib as a “microcosm of the war.” It states:
Idlib’s governance and service sector has been, in many ways, a microcosm of the Syrian war and Idlib’s fractious rebel scene. As with the province’s armed opposition, an existing tendency towards localism and disparate, uncoordinated streams of external support have resulted in a service sector that is discombobulated and fractious.
Even if the US and its allies believed it was politically possible to announce Idlib as an alternative “capital” to Damascus, Idlib in reality could never serve such a role. Between its small size, the fact that it is transparently dominated by armed terrorists and completely dependent on foreign aid means that Idlib cannot even administer itself, nor the province it resides in, let alone the entire country. Any nation subjected to “rule” from the failed city of Idlib, would without doubt be a failed nation.
All Idlib could ever be used for is the illusion of viable opposition. The city and province’s administration is as artificial as the armed conflict its current state of dysfunction resulted from. Both city and provincial administration depends entirely on foreign support that is interested only in the overthrow of Damascus, not Idlib’s peace and prosperity.
Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, once the war is over and regime change accomplished, contractors will seek to make as much money “nation building” as possible, interested more in returning home to spend their new fortunes than leaving behind a functioning and “free” nation state.
The report concludes with the question of whether or not the Syrian government could reassert itself in Idlib. The Syrian government possesses absolutely everything the current “administrators” of Idlib lack, namely unity, ability and resources. Just as is happening across Aleppo, when areas are finally returned back to Syrian control and the supply of foreign aid, weapons and support is removed, so too is the illusion of opposition.
During a visit to Tehran, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has expressed satisfaction with Iran’s commitment to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.
“Iran has been committed to its obligations and this is an important matter,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Director General Yukiya Amano said on Sunday at a joint press conference with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
The nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, Britain, Russia, France and China plus Germany — last year in Vienna.
The IAEA is tasked with monitoring the technical implementation of the nuclear deal.
Since January, when the JCPOA took effect, the agency has confirmed Iran’s compliance in several reports.
“We are satisfied with the trend of the JCPOA’s implementation, and hope for this trend to continue,” added Amano, who is in Tehran on a one-day visit at the invitation of Salehi.
Concerning his meeting with Salehi, he said the two had discussed a range of issues, including heavywater, enriched uranium, Iran’s uranium stockpiles as well as research and development in the field of nuclear energy.
Among other topics in the talks was a recent order by President Hassan Rouhani to the AEOI to plan work on nuclear propulsion devices to be used in sea transport, Amano added.
The Iranian chief executive issued the decree in response to the recent violation of the multilateral nuclear deal by the United States. The US Congress recently voted to extend Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), Washington’s sanctions law against Iran, for another 10 years. This is while Iran had all its nuclear-related sanctions removed on the back of the JCPOA.
Salehi, in turn, said he had addressed cooperation with the IAEA on the JCPOA’s implementation.
He urged the IAEA to “act as an impartial international authority, whose reports do not reflect leverage or influence peddling by any party,” the Iranian official asserted, thanking the agency for “acting in such a manner so far” in its reports on the JCPOA’s implementation.
He said the two had addressed the presidential decree and how to implement it as well as Tehran’s obligations under the IAEA’s Nuclear Safeguards Agreement during the JCPOA’s implementation process.
Salehi also touched on Washington’s extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, saying Tehran “is ready to take whatever proportionate measure upon the decision of the Iranian establishment’s authorities.”
Later in the day, Amano sat down for talks with the Iranian president, who likewise called on the agency to produce impartial and technical reports on Iran.
“We expect that this international institution perform its responsibility in the area of technical cooperation, the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology, and nuclear trade, too,” President Rouhani said.
He said the JCPOA’s sustainability hinged on compliance by all parties, and added, “The Islamic Republic will honor its commitments as long as other parties honor theirs.”
Rouhani said some recent measures by the US, including the extension of the ISA, contravened the nuclear agreement. “The course the United States has taken vis-à-vis Iran will lead to the reduction of international confidence in the US government,” he said.
Amano, for his part, reiterated that Iran had lived up to its contractual obligations since the accord’s implementation. “The JCPOA was a big achievement, whose implementation the IAEA will support with all its might.”
You need to remember the names Chuck Schumer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel. These are all blood-pouring-from-the-fangs Zionists, and, not coincidentally, recently in charge of the people who run as Democrats in national American politics. They have consistently picked extreme right-wing candidates to run, so right-wing that they are not acceptable to most Democrat voters. If these ridiculous candidates win, they vote as ‘blue dogs’, mostly with the Republicans. If they lose, which recently has been the trend, a Republican is elected. The Zionists don’t care. Their only criterion of electoral success is if a hard-line Zionist ends up elected. The result of years of this treason has been the apotheosis of the Republican Party, and too many Wars For The Jews to count, with the accompanying impoverishment of the country.
Hillary was picked by the ‘donors’ – code for Jewish billionaire ‘one issue guys’ – as the candidate who would most reliably support extreme Zionist goals, including expansion of the Zionist Empire across the Middle East employing more Wars For The Jews and general Yinon state-splitting techniques. Russia is perceived as the only real impediment to extreme Zionism, as the kind of terrorist states which are to be constructed through Yinon techniques are correctly perceived by the Russians as an existential threat. Thus, Hillary’s main job was to tie up Russian actions by rapidly increasing cold war tensions leading to WWIII and, hopefully, regime change in Russia replacing Putin with Zionist stooges.
I pause to note that no ‘respectable’ person can possibly notice any of this, let alone write it, as utterly obvious as it is.
These . . . contradictions . . . in the Democrats have now led to electoral disaster. The problem is that there can be no fault in the institutional structure of the party as that would lead to reforms which would upset the Zionist apple-cart. Scapegoats must be found outside of the party. The FBI, ‘fake news’, and, of course, Putin’s personal disruption of the American political system by providing accurate information to American voters. ‘Fake news’ is the information provided largely by the social media which the Jewish billionaires have not yet been able to stifle. Of course, the Jewish billionaires own most of the American mainstream media, and are hemorrhaging money largely because the obvious truths provided by the social media are driving out the obvious lies provided by the mainstream media. People have noticed that their lives are wrecked largely as a result of political decisions based on these lies. Thus Trump. I note that Trump’s win with much less money spent has broken the Jewish billionaire model that elections must be won by funneling political donations – aka bribes – to media outlets owned by Jewish billionaires.
You may say that such an explanation is simplistic, not to mention ‘anti-Semitic’, but it explains everything, the collapse of the Democratic Party, the odd inability to acknowledge that there might be a problem so something might be done to fix it (remember everything is fine because of ‘demographics’), the specific nature of the scapegoats provided in lieu of taking responsibility, and the general collapse of the United States, and the destruction of the lives of so many of its citizens, under the weight of so many Wars For The Jews with no conceivable American imperial advantage.
A major development in Russia-Iran relations, which merits close attention in New Delhi, has been that a preliminary agreement has been reached in Tehran two days ago to replace the US dollar with local currencies in the bilateral trade. The symbolism here is important against the backdrop of the recurring speculation that the new US president Donald Trump may tighten sanctions against Iran. A reasonable explanation for the decision to use the local currencies by Moscow and Tehran is that the two sides are insulating the dynamics of their strategic partnership from being buffeted by US’ unfriendly policies toward Iran.
Put differently, any improvement of ties for Moscow with the US in the coming period will be sequestered from the dynamics of the Russian-Iran partnership, no matter the Trump Administration’s policies toward Iran. Broadly speaking, albeit with some caveats, Beijing also has signaled a similar approach to Sino-Iranian ties.
Clearly, therefore, the revival of a containment strategy against Iran by Washington on the pattern of what the Obama administration managed to put together may never again be possible to resurrect so long as Tehran remains committed to the implementation of the nuclear deal of July last year. New Delhi should draw appropriate conclusions in regard of the future projection of India-Iran economic cooperation. This is one thing.
Secondly, again on Tuesday, Russia and Iran also took a great leap forward in energy cooperation. Several major tie-ups have been announced, signifying that the Russian energy companies are re-entering the Iranian oil sector in a big way ahead of western competitors, following the announcement of new policies by Tehran to encourage foreign collaboration.
An interesting dimension to this, from the Indian perspective, will be that Russia’s Gazprom has shown renewed interest in getting involved in the Iran-India subsea gas pipeline project. Gazprom’s deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev has been quoted as saying that “we (Russia) can develop Iran’s liquefied gas projects, get involved in Iran-India subsea gas pipeline as well as some upstream sectors like exploration, gas production”. Indeed, the National Iranian Gas Export Company has been negotiating to lay a $4.5-billion worth undersea gas pipeline from the Iranian coast via the Oman Sea to Gujarat.
India is a key market for Iran as it plans to increase gas exports from the current level of 10 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) to 60-80 bcm/y by 2021. Turkey is at present Iran’s only customer. Iran also has a half-finished liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, which needs a $8-11 billion investment to produce 10.4 million tons per year (14 bcm/y) of LNG. This is apart from building a string of several mini-LNG plants with about 150,000 tons per year of capacity. Gazprom is the most likely foreign partner in this field.
Besides, Gazprom is also interested in developing Iran’s underground gas storage (UGS) facilities, which is important for Iran to realise its plans to emerge as a major gas exporter in the future. Iran plans to increase its gas output from the current 750 mcm/d to 1,250 mcm/d by 2021. Gazprom has very good experience in this sphere, owning 22 UGS facilities at 26 gas storages in Russia itself, apart from having such facilities in Europe.
Another area of interest to India will be that Iran and Russia also inked a $1.6 billion agreement on Tuesday to build a 1,400 megawatt gas-fired power plant in the southern Hormozgan Province close to the giant South Pars gas field, which shares 60 percent of Iran’s gas production. Of course, India’s ONGC Videsh has been negotiating partnership in the development of Farzad-B as field in the South Pars.
Without doubt, Russia’s looming presence in Iran’s energy sector has profound implications for India’s energy security. The prospects are definitely there for India-Iran-Russia collaboration in the oil and gas sector and affiliated activities whereby Russian technology and collaboration become useful for India to tap Iran’s vast energy resources. Given the excellent ties India enjoys with Iran and Russia being a time-tested friend, New Delhi should optimize the window of opportunity here. It is important to note as well that Russia is keen to induct Iran as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Read a Bloomberg dispatch on Russia’s burgeoning Iran ties in the energy sector – Gazprom signs oil deals with Iran as Russians return in force.