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29 May 2015

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rich

Is the US shifting goal posts on Iran deal?

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/05/28/us-shifts-the-goal-post-on-iran-deal/

William R. Cumming

CP! This is an amazingly astute and comprehensive post. Yes, the war-lovers remain in charge. THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD?

William R. Cumming

The Armed Forces of the USA about to be totally ignored because they do NOT love war IMO!

ISL

Thanks very much for for this summary. Taking a bigger, global picture, it looks like many regional actors in the middle east are quite effectively confounding the super power into flailing wildly and ineffectively.

http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2015/05/28/superpower-in-distress/

Reminds me of a pack of hyenas and an isolated elephant (with baby - aka Israel). Only in this case, there are a few other, smaller male elephants in the fog, waiting......

Or non-allegorically, the crisis de jour approach to foreign policy is being overwhelmed.

b

Thanks CP, agree but with this bit:

"to wit: ex-Al-Qaeda, having sworn allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, since re-branded]) and perhaps achieve his fall, and piss off Iran so much as to scuttle the deal. "

These ain't "ex-AlQaeda". In the recent Aljazeerah interview Jabhat al-Nusra head Jolani had the AlQaeda flag on his table and reconfirmed strongly that he keeps to his oath to Zawahiri and takes orders from him.

JAN is as much "ex-AlQaeda" as the perpetrators of 9/11 were "moderate rebels".

Current U.S. policy though, and that of its allies, is to support JAN by nearly all possible means against the Syrian government. This U.S. government aligned media (start with the NYT) will tell you that JAN are now "moderate rebels" and that they are indeed pretty nice and not scary at all. Even ISIS is now lauded for its generous family support and the sponsored honeymoons their fighters can have in Raqqa.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/56445f3cc1ca4f51af716c71d54ed483/fighter-paid-honeymoon-caliphates-heart
We can soon expect that IS will also be called somewhat "moderate" or at least "legitimate" while that the governments of Syria and Iraq are seen as barely existing.

confusedponderer

b,
thanks for the hint, I corrected that in the text.

toto

Great summary of the situation, with a comprehensive take on US-Saudi-Israel shenanigans.

A similar overview of Iranian skullduggery would be a nice complement.


Valissa

The article that MKB linked to at the end of his post is worth reading.

Does Obama Really Want an Agreement with Iran? http://www.lobelog.com/does-obama-really-want-an-agreement-with-iran/

While I have always been a supporter of improved relations with Iran, I have remained skeptical about the reality of that. What little optimism I had is fading fast.

Valissa

Thanks for the link.

Here's an interesting post by George Friedman (the free weekly report) from last month that is clearly attempting to tactfully say something similar to the power elites he serves with STRATFOR. Naturally this comes with plenty of whitewashing regarding how the US accidentally stumbled into being an empire, but one can disregard that as a polite fiction he's using to make a larger point.

Coming to Terms With the American Empire https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/coming-terms-american-empire
"Empire" is a dirty word. Considering the behavior of many empires, that is not unreasonable. But empire is also simply a description of a condition, many times unplanned and rarely intended. It is a condition that arises from a massive imbalance of power. Indeed, the empires created on purpose, such as Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, have rarely lasted. Most empires do not plan to become one. They become one and then realize what they are. Sometimes they do not realize what they are for a long time, and that failure to see reality can have massive consequences.

...I have been deliberately speaking of the United States as an empire, knowing that this term is jarring. Those who call the United States an empire usually mean that it is in some sense evil. Others will call it anything else if they can. But it is helpful to face the reality the United States is in. It is always useful to be honest, particularly with yourself. But more important, if the United States thinks of itself as an empire, then it will begin to learn the lessons of imperial power. Nothing is more harmful than an empire using its power carelessly.

turcopolier

valissa

I am so old that "empire" does not have a jarring effect on me. My immediate family served for long periods of time in the pre-war2 US empire in the Caribbean, Pacific Ocean area, China, the Philippines, etc. My father was 14 years in PI, two uncles were for decades Asiatic Fleet sailors. I could go on. In spite of all the fashionable BS these days my belief is that our 'empire" did far more good than bad. The shame is that after WW2 the US bought into the ideological basis for one worldism with the corollary that we should run the one word. Pride before the fall. pl

Valissa

PL, thanks for your thoughts. I have often thought that much like the ancient Romans fought for the glory of their empire with much pride, that US soldiers would feel something similar, the caveat possibly being as long as they felt the empire they served was something worth serving. Later phases of empires tend to be less inspiring.

Although I was not so interested in history when I was young as I am now, what I was interested in was the ancient empires as forces of civilization. I found them fascinating. I admit that I once participated in a "past life regression" and much to my surprise "discovered" (via my unconscious imagination?) that I had been a Roman soldier, some sort of mid-level officer or commander and that I had enjoyed that. This was shocking to me as at the time I was a hardcore liberal peacenik... LOL... but yet it somehow felt right to me as well. This younger self would never have guessed that later in life I'd enjoy hanging out with retired soldiers and spooks, so maybe there was something to that ;)

Reflecting on your comment on "one worldism" ties in to a personal observation that the US has been acting more like a "world monarch" rather than merely being an empire. I think the US gov't foreign policy could be much improved by acknowledging the label of empire and figuring out what kind of empire it wants to be, how best to use and focus it's power, and what it's responsibilities should be in this rapidly changing geopolitical world.

Babak Makkinejad

There are people and countries that wish to be part of the US Empire - such as Costa Rica, UK, India, and Germany.

And there are others that do not; Cuba, North Korea, Iran.

Israelites, Parthian-Sassanidd Confederacy, and the barbaric Germanic tribes did not wish to be part of Roman Empire and resisted - some with more success than the others.

One has to know when to hold them and when to fold them; in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

BP indicated in the previous thread that economic warfare against ISIS is not waged; ostensibly for humanitarian reasons which I do not credit as EU had no qualms about pushing 20 million into poverty in Iran.

Am I missing something here?

Jose

CP - Are you saying the United States is the defender of Zionism and Wahhabism at the same time? LOL

Valissa

Just came across this "game changer" (/snark) in the Ukraine. Saakashvili to the rescue? LOL.. Talk about 'News of the Weird'

Ex-Georgia President to Lead Ukraine’s Odessa Region http://www.newsweek.com/ex-georgia-president-lead-ukraines-odessa-region-337523
Mikhail Saakashvili, a former president of Georgia who has been working with Ukraine’s president as a nonstaff adviser since February, will be appointed as leader of the country’s Odessa region, multiple sources confirm. … He's not the only former Georgian official employed by the Ukrainian government: Alexander Kvitashvili, who was the Georgian minister of health care during Saakashvili's second term, is Ukraine’s health minister, and Gia Getsadze, who also worked in the Saakashvili administration, is now a deputy minister of justice in Ukraine.

An article from a couple of weeks ago... please note that McCain declined the position.

McCain Appointed to Ukraine “Reform Advisory Team” Headed by Fugitive Georgian Leader Saakashvili http://www.globalresearch.ca/mccain-appointed-to-ukraine-reform-advisory-team-headed-by-fugitive-georgian-leader-saakashvili/5449619
The list of members included in the advisory group mostly includes current and former European politicians. Among them are the German member of the European Parliament and the current Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok, Sweden’s former Prime and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Slovakia Mikulas Dzurinda, and Lithuania’s former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

To quote Yale scholar David Bromwich "It almost looks as if a cell of the State Department assumed the management of Ukraine policy and the president was helpless to alter their design." http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/american-scholar-scolds-obama-letting-neo-cons-run-wild-ukraine/ri7283

confusedponderer

Jose,
pretty much, except it isn't so much Wahhabis but Salafists and Tafkiris. Slightly different flavour.

That is what the US military is speaking about when they say 'Air cover for Al Qaeda in Syria' when the starry eyed R2Pers and neo-libs speak of 'no fly zones'.

That is also why the Whitehouse insists with a straight face to only arm the moderate opposition. They do that in order to placate the many in DC who haven't gotten the joke yet and apparently still believe that the majority Syrian opposition is secretly secular and only flies those black flags for show, because back in they day their photogenic NGO empowerd anglophiles twittered so nicely from their sponsored smartphones.

There is an inherent and pronounced absurdity in this.

With Israel treating Al Qaeda guys, they aren't any better. They gloss over their idiocy by swaggering solemnly on 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. That obviously worked splendidly for them when they aided Hamas to weaken Fatah. But Israelis, US congressmen, supporters and donors love that kind of wanking.

The Jihadis are Israel's mortal enemy. They just didn't get it yet, or if they did, they believe they can handle them behind, shall we say, an Iron Wall, while the headchoppers beyond decimate Israel's old enemies - the Syrians, Lebanese etc pp.

While they do that the headchoppers will be consolidating power, and there is little reason to assume that they, given their obcessing about apostates and dhimmis, bear fond feelings for Jews as equals, never mind sacred real estate.

That is to say that there is a day after tomorrow. Ah, but that is distant future! Israel sure will make up something. Surely, the next mortal enemy will perpetuate US and European support! They have made 'damsel in distress' a business model.

This utter mess is the result of the US being nominally allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia, sharing the interests of neither country while having limited leverage over both whiley they have chosen to go on rampages that do not respect the interests of their patron.

confusedponderer

Valissa,
IMO that's just the usual neo-con nepotism- and group-think-machine at work. They are gathering the likeminded to get the policy recommendation they want, with the label 'non-partisan' and 'international'.

David Habakkuk

CP

'They have made ''damsel in distress'' a business model.'

Ah yes, but there comes a time when 'damsel in distress' begins to look more like 'get my kids out of the orphanage' – to use a pithy phrase of East End origin.

confusedponderer

Further down the road an external enemy like ISIS controlling Syria, Lebanon and Jordan could for someone as demonstrably nutty and tribal as the Netanyahoo be seen as an opportunity:

The Palestinians - why not let ISIS deal with them?

A threat from ISIS or something like it at the border could be the pretext for expulsion Israel is searching for - with the enemy inside and outside, Israel has to defend too long a front, the expulsion of Palestinians would be a 'Frontbegradigung', usually a euphemism for withdrawal, here for expansion.

With all of Palestine under Israeli control, and without Palestinians, Israel would only need to defend a much shorter border, without having to fend off the enemy from within, too - a strategic necessity given poor little Israel's limited means!

All that, of course, presumes that Israel feels able to handle ISIS or any of their neighbours, and I think they do see it that way.

Their behaviour is not that of someone pushed against a wall, fending for his life, but of someone who knows he can choose when and whom to engage from a position of comfort provided by superior military force, facing much weaker enemies.

One only speaks of 'mowing the grass' when one sees the enemy as something to cut down to size - i.e. decimate - as seen fit.

How many aircraft has Israel lost bombing Syria or Lebanon over the last decade? What again was the rough 'exchange ratio' between Israel and her enemies? 1:10?

150:1700 Lebanon 2006
13:1417 in Cast Lead 2008/2009
6:120 in Pillar of Defence 2012
73:2100 Protective Edge 2014

If not for that embarassing episode in 2006, and the unexpected strong resistance in Gaza, Israel has operated with near impunity.

In their pursuit of regional hegemony at the expense of their neighbours, they don't get that with ISIS and their ilk in their immediate neighbourhood it will become plenty less luxurious.

But hey, at least Assad won't be able to demand the Golan back. Well, perhaps Al Baghdadi will?

William R. Cumming

Agree with your fine comment!

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