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01 December 2016


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IMO, a carved up territory is not very safe to invest billions in a pipeline that no end user be willing to sign up or finance like in Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. but a carved up territory it is a very good tool for negotiating and getting concessions.


TTG, I totally agree with your notion on the deeper reasons of the US general animosity with regard to Iran or more correctly IRI. But, on the other side also, I have seen even before the revolution, a general feeling of animosity and anger among ordinary and intellectual Iranians toward the American Government the Borg
for the 1953 coup, although from what I have learned Iranians were thankful and in love with US (Truman) after WWII for helping and supporting Iran to get the USSR pull its troops out of Iran. IMO, US will never have a better, stable Friend and an inexpensive low maintenance support, ally in ME other than Iran, only if she could accept and deal with an independent foreign policy Iran which coincidently both countries have many mutual regional and global interests.


Sir, I've been reading your blog for over 10 years and commenting infrequently for most of that time. I particularly enjoy the range and knowledge your committee bring to it.

I'm fully aware of the significant, dominant, influence of the neocons, as I have also read Commentary since the 70's. My response to Walter was intended to point out that financial motivations are significant but not visceral. It likely was a major motivation for Cheney, but for neoconservatives, the survival and protection of Israel is perhaps their major concern. For them, that focus is the "right" thing and no doubt most convince themselves it also is for the United States. Some of my Jewish friends fear, like me, the asymmetrical relationship is unhealthy for both countries but they remain silent in their communities.


Netanyahu cleared the air a few years ago when he made a speech where he said the goal of the sanctions against Iran was to make sure that Israel remained the economic power in the Middle East.

The problem with Netanyahu is it takes American presidents 7 years to figure out what a lying sack of he is.


One more observation I may add to my earlier comment is, that the iranian revolutionary government was able to isolate and implement to her constituency her animosity and hatred is with the American Government, but my last 35 years observation is this same feeling was not done in a same way here in the states, in other words the US ruling system/ Governments never seriously tried to make her constituencies understand that her beef is with the Iranian government/system and not the Iran as a nation a culture and a revolution, IMO that was wrong.


Mark Logan, TTG et al

Until the First Gulf War Israel maintained a semi-secret alliance with Iran. This had begun in the time of the monarchy in Iran and it continued in the time of the Islamic Republic. At that time Israel thought Iraq to be its most dangerous opponent and as is customary with the Israelis they backed the farther potential enemy against the nearer. This alliance persisted during the Iran-Iraq War. It extended to secret grey and black market procurements of materiel for Iran, then under wartime sanctions with regard to arms ales. The alliance extended to exchange of combat intelligence against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. At that time we possessed an Iranian Air Force defector, a colonel, who had been the manager for the relationship. The meetings were held monthly in Switzerland. And, of course, Israel was in the forefront of those influences that caused the inception of the Iran-Contra Affair which in the Iran portion was intended to enable Iran to fight Iraq more effectively. I was the principal witness before the Tower Committee with regard to the effect that the intelligence provided to Iran had on the combat situation in the war. In order to testify effectively I read all existing US government records (including those of the CIA) as to how the Ollie North crew got started on this and the Israelis clearly wanted Iran benefited in a number of ways. All that came to an end after the US and the coalition destroyed Iraq as a military power in the Gulf War. After that the Israelis began to focus on Iran as a country that could conceivably at some point on the future destroy Eretz Israel with a couple of nuclear weapons. As that obsession grew, the memetic propaganda machine became more and more engaged in the process of selling Iran as an utterly evil world menace. Sanction followed sanction, etc. In that context the hatred of these generals and the legions of other faithful group thinkers became inevitable. pl


Go back and read news stories from the first two or so years of the war. The Jihadists would drive across a city behind a massive barge of artillery. Then the SAA would push back behind a barrage of artillery. Rinse repeat. The people running the arty were often new to the experience as they may have just stolen their first artillery piece or just been recruited into the SAA so accuracy wasn't possible even if desired.

As truly shocking as the damage is it is surprising it isn't even worse.



Capturing is not stealing. First, I think the level of damage is exaggerated and where it is bad it is concentrated and heavily photographed by the press. Syria is a "muffled zone" in which propaganda operations including those of the Western press have a great opportunity to create mental images of destruction to suit their purpose. The same thing is true of the numbers thrown around. I have on occasion challenged the numbers to WINEP and ISW people at meetings. They are unable to defend them since almost all of the come from SOHR in London. The man who runs that just pulls them out of his a-s after talking to a lot of his "sources" in the region. This is equivalent to the way Allen Pinkerton made intelligence estimates for McClellan. Lastly, the pre-CW Syrian Army was not very skilled. Like the Egyptian Army they were mostly an internal security force. They had a lot of poorly maintained East Bloc equipment but couldn't do much with it. They are now quite different. Clausewitz was right. war itself is the best teacher if you survive. pl



He said the dominant power in the ME, not the dominant economic power. Israel has virtually no trade with the surrounding countries. Being the dominant economic power is a meaningless concept for them. Having Haifa and Tel Aviv destroyed is their obsession. pl



IMO Cheney's supposed greed is much exaggerated. He was/is as big a neocon as the others. pl

Babak Makkinejad

This guy, the New York Times columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof, a Jew, travels to Iran, is showered by the hospitality of Iranians, and when back in New York City, he writes another columns clamoring for more sanctions against Iran, especially wishing for pain inflicted on the Iranian people, "with apologies to Iranian people", he wrote.

He reminded me of how a Palestinian described Moshe Dyan; "He is a gentleman. He slaps you in the face and then bends down, picks up your kafiyyah, and hands it to you."


Trump Chooses an Outspoken Ex-Marine to Lead Defense http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-chooses-an-outspoken-ex-marine-to-lead-defense/ar-AAl2169
After retiring from the military, General Mattis told Congress that the administration’s “policy of disengagement in the Middle East” had contributed to the rise of extremism in the region. The United States, he told lawmakers in 2015, needs to “come out from our reactive crouch and take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.”

But in some important policy areas, General Mattis differs from Mr. Trump, who last week began filling the top ranks of his national security team with hard-liners. General Mattis believes, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s conciliatory statements toward Russia are ill informed. General Mattis views with alarm Moscow’s expansionist or bellicose policies in Syria, Ukraine and the Baltics. And he has told the president-elect that torture does not work.

Despite his tough stance on Iran, General Mattis also thinks that tearing up the Iran nuclear deal would hurt the United States, and he favors working closely with allies to strictly enforce its terms.

So Gen Mattis wants to be tough on Iran, tough on Russia (unlike Trump), and doesn't think the US has been proactive enough in the Middle East. How is this "good for morale"? Other than the fact that Mattis is not a fan of torture?

Sadly I'm starting to think Patrick Cockburn may be correct in his assessment...
Trump's Team Will Start New Wars in the Middle East http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/trumps-team-will-start-new-wars-in-the-middle-east/
In theory, Trump is a non-interventionist; opposed to US military involvement in the Middle East and North Africa, he wants to bring the war in Syria to an end. But he has simultaneously opposed the agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme and criticised Barack Obama for pulling the last US troops out of Iraq in 2011 (though in fact this was under an agreement signed by George W Bush).

But Bush and Obama were both non-interventionists when first elected – until the course of events, and the enthusiasm of the Washington foreign policy establishment for foreign military ventures, changed all that.

The US army and air force is today heavily engaged in Iraq and Syria and that is not going to end with Obama’s departure.

Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take for Trump to be fully assimilated into the Borg?

The Twisted Genius


I forgot about that Israeli-Iranian relationship. Strange days.

My first experience with our intransigence on Iran was in 1989. I was in a SMU developing a Barzani. The target was Iran. This lead couldn't grasp this. His problem was with Saddam's regime, not Iran. The SMU was fanatically focused on Iran as was Delta and JSOC at that time. There were quite a few veterans of Desert One and supporting operations around at that time. The SMU was also incensed about the loss of a member on Pan Am 103. Many held Iran responsible even if it was just on the emotional level.

Green Zone Café

Colonel, TTG,

Generals like Votel, Flynn, and Mattis have more recent reasons than the 1982 Beirut bombings to have a grudge against Iran. Iran trained and equipped Iraqi militias like Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq who were doing some nasty stuff to US forces as the 00's went on. AAH in particular was considered an agent of the IRGC, and General Suleiman's forces were active in Iraq. In general, there was a great improvement in the accuracy of indirect fire from Iranian training from 2006 on, and the introduction of shaped-charge penetrating IEDs. There was also the assassination campaign by the "Special Groups" against Iraqi employees of the US mission and Iraqi government officials friendly to US, and things like the raid on the Karbala government office which killed five US soldiers from 4/25 ABCT and the kidnapping and killing of USAID contractors from the Ministry of Finance in 2007.

Given the threat that the US posed to Iran, and the aggressive rhetoric about Iran from officials and pundits close to Bush, it made sense for Iran to degrade the US in Iraq. I never took it personally that they were trying to kill me with regular indirect fire. It made sense from their point of view. I did wonder why the US tolerated it at the time, though: it seemed like some kind of punishment was deserved. Maybe there was some covert punishment ,because the outrageous stuff that happened in 2007-08 tapered off.

There was a great missed opportunity when Iran worked with the US in Afghanistan and offered to reset relations in 2002. This was recounted by James Dobbins and Flynt and Hilary Leverett.

Who knows how those generals see it?


Re: 7 yrs: I don't think this has been accomplished yet.



"How is this "good for morale"?" IMO the team he has put together will either not last long or they will assimilate Trump. pl

Sam Peralta

Col. Lang

Trump's first year in office will be very interesting. He's going to have to learn how to navigate the shark infested waters of DC. He's a complete outsider to the machinations among all the politicos and the very powerful K Street lobbyist machine. I believe he recognizes that to get started he needs the people who have worked the system.

IMO, you have characterized him very well in your earlier comments that his businessman instincts make him very transactional. I look at the whole Carrier episode as perfectly fitting in that mold. So, one can see him threatening, then backing off and then working some kind of deal with the various participants. My sense of what I have seen of him on the campaign trail is that he doesn't like to be distracted with complicated policy. He is in his most natural element working deals and selling. I think that while all those who he has selected for various cabinet positions think they may have his ear and can snow him, he is going to rely on his kids and his son-in-law Jared for the real advise. I also believe he'll fire a few people along the way just to keep his team on their toes and not get too big for their britches. We'll see soon enough how all this pans out. I think the first year will seem rather rocky with the media continuing to play gotcha with him and faking outrage so easily.


Sir, Perhaps so. Cheney certainly echoed the more extreme neocon positions. I'm quite grateful George W. Bush ignored Cheney's, fairly public, bleating to bomb Iran near the end of his term in office.


"...and killed non-believers are just collateral damage"

I would be very, very surprised if any Jihadist were to see killed non-believers as "damage".


I think Trump is just representative of a Borg "modernist faction" which successfully staged a coup against the old guard of rancid neocons.

robt willmann

News of an event against the development of peace in the Middle East happened on what is now yesterday, 1 December 2016, when the U.S. Senate passed the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives had passed on 15 November 2016. The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, Public Law 104-172, was to expire automatically by its sunset provision on 31 December 2016--

"Section 13. Effective Date; Sunset.
(a) Effective Date.-This Act shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 5, 1996].
(b) Sunset.-This Act shall cease to be effective on December 31, 2016."

The statement of policy in the original sanctions law is--

"Section. 3. Declaration of Policy.
The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to deny Iran the ability to support acts of international terrorism and to fund the development and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them by limiting the development of Iran's ability to explore for, extract, refine, or transport by pipeline petroleum resources of Iran."

The vote in the House was 419 in favor, 1 against, and 14 not voting. The only member with any guts who voted against it was Thomas Massie (Repub. Kentucky)--



The vote in the Senate was 99 in favor, 0 against, and 1 not voting (Bernie Sanders)--


The very short law extending the sanctions for another 10 years to 31 December 2026 is here--


President Obama can veto it, but it obviously passed by a veto-proof margin.

Now that Donald Trump said today that he is going to announce on Monday that he will appoint retired Marine Corps General James "Mad Dog" Mattis to be the new secretary of defense, the circle around Trump with a pre-existing condition against Iran continues to be formed. This enhances the danger that the advisors may -- as Col. Lang mentioned above -- assimilate Trump.

Keep in mind that China imports a lot of oil and gas from Iran.


Its worth remembering that American politicians might take buckets of Israeli money and swear to do all sorts things to their donors, but when, say, at the time of the Iranian nuclear deal vote, it comes to actually voting against the interests of their own country, they don't do it. The Republicans largely did, the Democrats largely didn't. These days, with the Democrats as the out-of-office War Party, it would probably be the other way round.

Words are cheap, actions matter.


not one of the BBC broadcasts, but ....


sound is not so good. it can be improved by fiddling the speaker controls. On windows system clicking the voice cancellation option improves it a lot. Also clicked Omnisound and speaker equalization.


historical genesis, Alliance of the Periphery:



Peter Reichard

That is the 64 thousand dollar question, will the mercurial Trump with his good people skills and BS detector keep replacing cabinet ministers until he finds those who agree with his gut instincts or will he, ill informed as he is be coopted by his advisers through the information they filter to him? I fear the latter will be true. The best thing about the man is his attitude towards Russia especially in regard to the current situation in Syria, the worst his attitude towards the Islamic Republic. He seems to be putting together an Iran war cabinet, a dangerous development. 2017 will be interesting.

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