The NeoCons and the hardline Israelis just won't let up when it comes to trying to manufacture a case for war with Iran. Sadly, Donald Trump has bought into this nonsense along with several members of Congress and many in the media. The latest punch is thrown by a Congressman Pittenger from North Carolina and is delivered by Breitbart:
“Hezbollah is partnering with Latin American drug lords to raise money for terrorist activity. This includes participation in drug trafficking, gun running, and trade-based money laundering,” declared the North Carolina Republican before traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to lead the ninth Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum on Tuesday. “The combination of radical Islamic terrorists and violent drug lords is a serious threat to national security.”. . .
“The nexus between criminal networks and terrorist networks is real, and I will predict it will get more sophisticated,” proclaimed then-DHS Secretary John Kelly in April. . . .
Retired Gen. Kelly, who now serves as U.S. President Trump’s chief of staff, has cautioned that ISIS-affiliate Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are allowing Latin American drug cartels to traffic cocaine into Europe with the help of Hezbollah.
Joseph Humire, an expert on Iranian influence in Latin America and director at the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), told Breitbart News that Latin American cartels are paying Hezbollah a “tax” to move people, narcotics, weapons and other contraband in and out of the Western Hemisphere.
Hezbollah and terrorism. That's the drumbeat. Only one little problem. Hezbollah has been inactive on the terrorist front for many years. But why let facts like that get in the way of good propaganda. It is the message that is important, no matter how deceptive or misleading.
And why obsess about Hezbollah, apart from the fact that it defeated the Israeli Army during Israel's ill-fated 2006 invasion of Lebanon, is the proxy for Iran. If you defeat or hurt Hezbollah you therefore do damage to Iran. Again, truth does not matter. This is all about perception and building public support to justify going to war with Iran. This goes beyond mere containment.
Prior to Pittenger, the last major outburst trying to link Iran to radical Sunni Islam came in early November:
Last month President Donald Trump caused a minor stir in his speech on Iran policy by discussing that regime's connection to al-Qaeda. He said "Iranian proxies" provided training to al-Qaeda operatives involved in the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He said Iran hosted high-level al-Qaeda operatives after the Sept. 11 attacks, including Osama bin Laden's son.
His critics pounced. Former Obama administration Middle East policy coordinator Philip Gordon wrote that the president "stretched the evidence" to portray Iran as a partner of al-Qaeda. Paul Pillar, the former senior intelligence analyst who signed off on the U.S. conclusions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programs, dismissed Trump's claims as based on the fact that some al-Qaeda operatives resided in Iran under house arrest.
It turns out Trump was closer to the mark than his detractors. On Wednesday the CIA released hundreds of thousands of documents captured in the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, al-Qaeda's founder.
Ryan Trapani, a spokesman for the CIA, told me Thursday: "Documents collected during the bin Laden raid, which have been declassified, indicate Iran and al-Qaeda have an agreement to not target each other. The documents indicate bin Laden referred to Iran as the 'main artery' for al-Qaeda to move funds, personnel and communications."
Nice try folks. But more lies and spin. The documents, written in Arabic, have not been read by most pontificating on the content. But those who have taken time to actually read what is there report a quite different story. Gareth Porter, true to his nature as an authentic journalist who actually insists on dealing with original source material, has the real story:
In early November, however, the mainstream media claimed to have its “smoking gun”—a CIA document written by an unidentified Al Qaeda official and released in conjunction with 47,000 never-before-seen documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. . . .
But none of those media reports were based on any careful reading of the document’s contents. The 19-page Arabic-language document, which was translated in full for TAC, doesn’t support the media narrative of new evidence of Iran-Al Qaeda cooperation, either before or after 9/11, at all. It provides no evidence whatsoever of tangible Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it confirms previous evidence that Iranian authorities quickly rounded up those Al Qaeda operatives living in the country when they were able to track them down, and held them in isolation to prevent any further contact with Al Qaeda units outside Iran.
What it shows is that the Al Qaeda operatives were led to believe Iran was friendly to their cause and were quite taken by surprise when their people were arrested in two waves in late 2002. It suggests that Iran had played them, gaining the fighters’ trust while maximizing intelligence regarding Al Qaeda’s presence in Iran.
I encourage you to take time to read Gareth's piece in its entirety. It is bad enough that we cannot trust most journalists to tell us the truth about what is going on in the world, but we are even worse off when Government agencies, like the CIA, decided to lead the parade of prevaricators rather than tell the citizens of the Republic what is actually going on.
This is the disgrace of Donald Trump. He really is a child. He has no ideological depth nor core. Like a bored dog he simply chases the nearest squirrel. In this case it is Iran. And his decision to isolate Iran at all costs has undermined any hope of a Donald Trump foreign policy.
I count myself among those who hoped that Trump's campaign rhetoric about avoiding foreign military adventures and nation building was sincere. We now know it was a lie. He was simply saying what he thought would resonate among the masses. The situation in Syria highlights the dilemma created by Trump's foreign policy schizophrenia.
We are hanging out in Syria–having deployed a couple of thousand special operations troops and running periodic air strikes, mostly with drones–with no real goal and no clear strategy. We want ISIS dead but there are so few of them left now. We are doing the equivalent of quail hunting with a mini-gun (a mini-gun is an oxymoronic name because the weapon actually spews sheets of lead and is quite deadly). There is absolutely no justification for the level of presence we currently have in Syria to combat ISIS. It’s not required and it’s not necessary. We need a few drones. But that's not what we are doing. Instead we have more than a dozen different task forces, a slew of special operators, a myriad of drone aircraft, and we are dumping buckets of money on the problem that Russia and Hezbollah are handling.
But we can't admit that. Instead, Trump and his team push the fiction that we are the ones killing ISIS while Russia and Iran, along with Hezbollah, are meddling in Syria and preventing peace. But Trump is not a lone voice here. There are scads of Republicans and Democrats who insist it is quite right that we be in Syria and that we need to do more. All is done in the name of killing ISIS, but when you dig beneath the surface of the policy you find that we are enabling some of the radical Islamists (Sunnis that is) that are aligned with ISIS. We are doing this to placate both the Saudis and the Netanyahu wing of the Israeli Government. They fear Iran and are obsessed with thwarting Iran's spreading influence in the region. And to accomplish that goal (which includes clipping the wings of Hezbollah) they have been willing to arm Sunnis Islamists with the goal of eliminating Bashir Assad. Assad, in their eyes, is a proxy for Iran.
Part of the "get-rid-of-Assad" program has entailed arming and funding the Kurds. But we are now backing out on that support because we want to continue with the fiction that we restored democracy to Iraq. We cannot betray the Iraqi Government (which is closely aligned with Iran because of our decision to get rid of Saddam Hussein in the first place) and allow the Kurds to thrive. Therefore we are continuing an elaborate charade–giving lip service support to them but scaling back military support. Apart from not wanting to undermine the government in Baghdad, another motivating and complicating factor in our policy is our desire to not piss off Turkey. We do not want Turkey to pull the plug on our air ops out of Incirlik so, rather than jeopardize that asset we go along with cutting off the Kurds.
You really need to step outside of your American view of the world and look at this situation from the perspective of other nations. Pick you nation. The world simply cannot figure out what the hell the United States is trying to do. We talk tough about isolating and punishing Iran and give tacit support to yapping puppies that now run the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But at the same time we continue to support Qatar, who is accused hypocritically by Saudi Arabia of being a state sponsor of terrorism, and carry out daily coordinations with the Russians who are killing ISIS and helping save Assad's bacon.
The Trump Doctrine can be summarized in a nutshell as follows: we want to isolate Iran and destroy ISIS, yet in our quest to destroy ISIS we must enter into a defacto collaboration with Iran and its key benefactor (Russia). Therefore we are helping Iran in order to destroy ISIS. Oh yeah. One more thing. We have provided weapons and training to Islamic radicals (who we hoped would be able to help defeat Assad in Syria). Bottomline, we have been arming and assisting both sides of the conflict in Syria. That kind of duality, if present in a person, would normally be described as a raging case of schizophrenia or, even worse, multiple personality disorder.
I do not know if Donald Trump is mentally ill. But his foreign policy in the Middle East certainly is crazy.