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07 February 2017

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LondonBob

Just neocon wishful thinking, will go the same way as tearing up the nuclear deal.

Ivan

The Chinese will step in to protect Iran. That will enable to extend their physical influence from Pakistan - their all weather friend - to the Persian Gulf. The Indians have to extend their support if only to counter China, aside from the obligations they have towards Iran for giving India access to Iranian oil on concessionary terms. The Iranians will gain in any contest of wills.

FB Ali

“If there’s a wedge to be driven between Russia and Iran, we’re willing to explore that,” the official said.”

Utter nonsense! Trump can offer the Russians nothing of sufficient value to tempt them to ditch their arrangements with Iran. I do not think what TTG cites is valuable enough to make them change their posture on Iran.

This also shows the childishness pervading White House policy-making. If the US really wants to defeat the Islamic State (and AQ) it has to ally itself with Iran rather than Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies, who are their main sponsors.

This also indicates that the Israeli government believes that Iran is a bigger threat to Israel than IS and AQ. This is taking a very short-term view of the situation.

Lars

You have more faith in Mr. Trump's ability to formulate an effective and comprehensive policy than I do.

robt willmann

Off topic, but somewhat related, is that the subject of a recent post by Harper that Elliott Abrams was being considered to be appointed deputy secretary of state, has surfaced again. It has been reported that Abrams was to meet with Trump today (7 February) about the position, according to a Reuters story--

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-abrams-idUSKBN15M06Y?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews

The puff pieces promoting Abrams continue--

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/trumps-neocon-elliott-abrams/515784/

The publicity story in the Atlantic claims that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supports Abrams for the job. If Tillerson actually supports Abrams, that would be a disheartening position by Tillerson. The Reuters story says that Tillerson will also attend the meeting with Trump.

However, Senator Rand Paul (Repub. Kentucky), who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said that he will oppose Abrams for deputy secretary of state--

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/rand-paul-elliot-abrams-state-department-trump/index.html

http://rare.us/rare-politics/rand-paul-do-not-let-elliott-abrams-anywhere-near-the-state-department/

Whether this is just maneuvering and massaging and posturing by Trump, or whether he is actually seriously considering Abrams, remains to be seen.

Steve Bannon -- the most intriguing person in the Trump administration -- will certainly be involved in the selection process. If he ends up supporting Abrams, that will be another disappointment.

Eric Newhill

FB Ali,
In your opinion is there no leverage that the Trump administration has over KSA and the Gulfies to cause them to, at least stop support of the jihadis?

If there was such leverage, perhaps Trump could have his cake and eat it too?

wisedupearly

I believe that it has always been the Israeli policy to foster Islamic fundamentalism and to destroy any form of social democracy and broad-based economic democracy in Arab countries. Counter-intuitive? The latter in particular, as any "modern" Arab economic power is seen by the Israelis as directly threatening its own companies (economic interests). The success of these companies is needed to offset the fall in support provided by overseas Jews.
As to social democracy, i.e. moderate secular tolerant Islam, the very cohesion of Israel now appears to depend not on any benefit or appeal of Judaism but rather on the violent existential threat provided by fundamentalist Islam.

robt willmann

The main reason that a wedge will not be driven between Russia and Iran is that Iran recently said it was going to stop using the U.S. dollar in transactions, and Russia and China have been slowly moving away from the dollar to settle trade with other countries and have been setting up an alternative computer system to the SWIFT system in order to route orders between banks in different countries. During the height of the economic sanctions against Iran promoted by the U.S., Iran was getting around them by selling oil and gas in exchange for gold. Russia, China, and some other countries have gotten tired of the financial fraud coming from the U.S., especially since 2007, and are taking steps to remove the U.S. dollar (and U.S. government treasury debt paper) as the "reserve currency" in banks around the world, by starting to settle trade in the money of the countries involved in the transaction, rather than using U.S. dollars to settle trade transactions. It was the Petrodollar agreement with Saudi Arabia in the early 1970's that established the dollar as the reserve currency in banks around the world and led to its use to settle trade, even when the U.S. was not a party to the trade and it was between two other countries.

This is not such a big deal as a practical matter about Iran, because it was not using the dollar very much due to the sanctions. But the sanctions and other bellicose kind of language coming from the U.S. toward Iran, which has started up again, will push it closer to Russia and China for economic reasons, and also for its own security.

One interesting thing, if true, is that Iran's biggest trading partners are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China--

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2017/02/breaking-iran-to-drop-us-dollar-in.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/iran-is-ditching-the-dollar-in-foreign-trade-2015-1

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-stop-using-us-dollar-currency-donald-trump-muslim-ban-immigration-refugee-iraq-syria-libya-a7556846.html

Russia and (especially) China have been buying a lot of gold in recent years, which is related to their movement away from using the U.S. dollar. This is very significant.

BraveNewWorld

I have to agree with everyone else. What does a wedge between them look like in practical terms? Stop selling weapons to Iran? Russia has already been following the US written UNSC resolutions. Iran got jerked around for what 5 years on the S-300 deal? Lots of stuff Iran builds in house now and what they don't they either could or could buy else where.

Iran will buy more from Russia than the US for as far into the future as I can see. And Putin will be looking at the Iran deal and how the US wants to reneg on that, the way Kadaffi got done after he did a deal, how Sadam turned out, how the White House and Congess row in opposite directions making Trumps word worthless and be thinking thanks but no.

It isn't the US and it's credibility problems that Russia is interested in any way, it is the EU and Trump is doing every thing he can to get them to go in another direction.
--
"Does the Trump Administration want this better relationship with Russia more than it wants to destroy the Shia Crescent and please Israel?"

Nothing will please Israel. It will just allow them to move onto their next demand. Trump told them to hold off on the settlement crap until after they met Feb 15, instead he got punked when the Israelis doubled down with the Regulation Law. if he's not strong enough to stand up to the Israelis how can Putin trust him?

kooshy

The biggest incentive Russia can think of is recognition of Crimea’ Annexation by US and her NATO allies, would or could US and her EU allies do that, I don’t think so, IMO no other incentive will replace that for Russia to breakup her anti US’ hegemony alliance with Iran and China. Iranian media is not taking this serious at least for now.

The Twisted Genius

Eric,

The Trump Administration could stop all military and intelligence cooperation with the KSA and start to normalize relations with Iran. We don't have to be their friends, just stop being dicks to them. So far this administration has done just the opposite. But, as I said before, it's still early. Trump could realize this is a lousy deal and change course, if he has the will to ignore the ideologues he surrounded himself with.

The Twisted Genius

LondonBob,

That's my point. So far we've seen three weeks of neocon thinking and actions.

Castellio

I'm curios, RW, if there are any facts you know of regarding any transfer of location of Libyan and Ukrainian gold reserves?

kooshy

"if he has the will to ignore "

TTG, with the kind of greatness ego president Trump has, that will be a big if. Like he insist Mexico must pay for the wall (The wall to contain himself out of the money her illegally entered citizens send back home by working odd jobs here)

Ishmael Zechariah

TTG,
From what I knew of Soviet education, I am sure his elementary school teacher made Vladimir Putin read the classic Aesop fable "The Father and His Sons".
(http://www.aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?2&TheFatherandHisSons )
It would surprise me very much if the Russians will permit any unbundling of their alliances at this time. I would be just as surprised if Donald Trump does not know this fable, all "statements" by "officials" notwithstanding.
BTW, Do you think La Clinton would have said anything like the Trump statement about the "innocence of the USA"?
Ishmael Zechariah

Eric Newhill

TTG,
As much as I am a big Trump supporter, I have to admit that there are trends emerging in his FP that don't look too good to me, for all I know; which isn't much.

That said, if we stopped being dicks to Iran, would they, in turn, cease to be a threat to Israel? If the answer is "no", Can we really stand down and let Israel deal with Iran on its own? Seems to me that would lead to war - maybe Israel makes the first overt strike, but it's in defense of a bunch of behind the scenes Iranian threats, maybe some not so covert shenanigans involving Hizbullah or other agents. I mean, theoretically, sure, we could do it, USA first, right?, but practically? Even ethically? All bribery, etc aside, could we really stand down? Now factor in the bribery.

Or maybe I've been listening to too much Israeli propaganda and the reality is that without US involvement, Israel and Iran could come to terms?

The MENA is beyond my understanding, but I keep trying

Jack

TTG, Sir,

There should be no surprise with Trump's attitude. During the campaign he ridiculed Obama's nuclear deal with Iran and consistently said he would be tougher. Similarly he said during the campaign that he would have better relationship with Putin. He respects him. Note what he said when Bill O'Reilly did the classic groupthink "Putin the killer" statement.

I'm actually very impressed with how transparent Trump has been. He's not doing anything different than what he said during the campaign. I am getting more convinced now that he's not gonna let Bibi dictate the terms. He may let him believe for some time that he's snookered him. Note thst Trump spoke the unspeakable during the South Carolina debate. Then he played the gallery with his AIPAC speech. IMO, deep down he is not an Israeli Firster. In time that will become apparent. Since he didn't say much about the Saudis I really don't know where he stands.

I think the Iranians don't get him. If they provoke him it will turn out bad for them. Does anyone believe that Trump cares if the Hormuz Straits are blocked and Iran fires ballistic missiles into Bahrain. He'll let the US military go ballistic and turn much of Iran into rubble. They should play him like the Chinese are doing. They are being very astute by sending Jack Ma and the Anbang chairman to talk business deals. Trump is easy to deal with if you play to his ego and get his Manhattan leveraged speculator juices flowing. Being bellicose will not work with him. I think the Chinese have his number.

The Twisted Genius

Eric,

I hope Trump recognizes Israel as the money pit it is and its Likudnik government as the leaking sewer pipe it is. Guaranteeing the defense of Israel is practical and, I believe, ethical. But I also believe the right policy is to guarantee a cutoff of all funding, as well as military and intelligence cooperation if they undertake any military adventures. Unless they're truly suicidal, they'll find some way to live in the region.

I think the same goes for Europe, especially Eastern Europe and the Baltics. The best thing that could happen to those countries is to be forced into recognizing that Russia is not going anywhere and the sooner they come to some kind of mutually acceptable accommodation with Russia, the better off they will all be. I say that as someone who closely identifies with Lithuania and my family who remains there.

Jack

Robt

The Russians and the Chinese have been hoovering as much gold bullion as they can. They're no dummies. They understand that it is only a matter of time when this massive global debt will have to get reconciled. The US is actually in a much better situation than the Chinese and Japanese. The Europeans are in a precarious situation where the Euro could unravel as the centrifugal political forces are in ascendance. As I have noted before the central banks have been growing their balance sheets immensely to continue to inflate the debt. Global credit market debt is significantly higher than before the 2008 credit crisis. Political instability is rising. IMO, China, Japan and Europe are one spark away from loss of confidence leading to panic reduction in financial exposure. Keep track of the bond and currency markets.

The Twisted Genius

Ishmael Zechariah,

I found Trump's comments about American innocence to be refreshingly candid and realistic. Given Trump's abrasive style, I didn't find it offensive at all. I don't know of any other politician who could have gotten away with saying that.

robt willmann

Castellio,

There were rumors after the coup in Ukraine in 2014 and after Libya was knocked over that the government's gold in each country was taken. One position is that the gold in Ukraine was removed shortly after the coup and transported to the New York branch of the Not-Federal Reserve Bank in New York City, but of course this has not been officially acknowledged. I have not heard where the Libyan gold may have gone.

Concerning what I noted above about a computer system being developed to bypass the SWIFT system of routing bank orders, here is an article mentioning it and a link from it--

http://www.thedailyeconomist.com/2017/02/long-time-us-vassal-state-japan-to.html

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/Japanese-regional-banks-to-join-yuan-payment-network

Freudenschade

TTG,

And of course the best way to start such a deep plan is to begin by leaking it.

Castellio

Thanks!

johnf

It is in the neo-con WSJ which makes me suspicious its propaganda.
Like, I hope and pray, all the bandwagoning of Elliot Abrams.

YT

Coincidence?

My late Ol' Man (who lacked formal education) told me the same fable when I was a wee lad - but it was illustrated with chopsticks.

Nips have a different version.

http://gethiroshima.com/features/the-legend-of-the-three-arrows/

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