More on the Iran Propaganda Meme by Publius Tacitus


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.”. . .

As its funding sources dry up and its so-called caliphate shrinks, a desperate ISIS is reportedly resorting to drug trafficking to fund its terrorist activities.

“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.


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65 Responses to More on the Iran Propaganda Meme by Publius Tacitus

  1. b says:

    “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.”
    It wasn’t Trump who started arming and assisting “both sides” (both anti-Syrian sides I would say) in Syria. It was Obama who started this. He and his mentor (and Saudi agent?) Brennan. Trump shut down parts of the CIA operation and now it is the military which is doing the dirty work – rescuing ISIS from the R6+1.
    It is the same with most policies that Trump is now pursuing. Shipping out illegal immigrants? Pampering the rich and the banks? Obama has done way more in those directions than Trump had time to so.
    Don’t get blinded by the perceived personalities. Look at the factual programs and outcome.

  2. Roy G says:

    Well said, PT. AFAIR, the only link of Hizbullah to ‘international terrorism’ was the putative attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Given the Israeli proclivity to engage in lawfare and their well known desire to control the narrative, is there any truth to that claim? Are there legitimate instances of Hizbullah engaging in any such activities outside of Lebanon and Syria?

  3. ToivoS says:

    I find tacitus a useful source of information. But this statement jumped out to me: Paul Pillar, the former senior intelligence analyst who signed off on the U.S. conclusions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programs
    This is news to me. The links in the article do not make it clear what Pillar’s role in this was.

  4. Tel says:

    “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.”

    What’s wrong with traditional duplicity?

    “I do not know if Donald Trump is mentally ill. But his foreign policy in the Middle East certainly is crazy.”

    I don’t think Trump cares too much what happens in the Middle East, his whole policy is “Make America Great Again” and if there’s some temporary economic boost selling weapons to both sides in a conflict, that’s good for America, isn’t it? Make sure neither side wins and next year they will be back asking for more weapons.
    Russia does the same. So do the Europeans.

  5. Lemur says:

    Turning Imperial policy within a 12 month period is next to impossible. Trump is one guy. But let’s take a look at hostile actions vs hostile rhetoric.
    Trump has had multiple chances to escalate with Iran.
    Where was the US response when Shia forces attacked Iraqi Kurdistan?
    Where was the US endorsement of the Saudi-Israelia demarche in Lebanon?
    Where was the US response to the emergence of the so-called Shia corridor along the Western Euphrates?
    Where was the Zio-hawk content in the deal hashed out with Russia pertaining to southern Syria?
    We’ve seen magic glowing orbs, fiery speeches to the UN, praying at that wall in Israel, threats on the Iran deal; but nothing where the rubber hits the road. In fact, if you look for the stories, you find the opposite:
    – Trump is negotiating with Turkey about distancing the US from the YPG in Syria.
    – There are allegations Trump is fed up with Bibi’s reluctance to compromise on the Palestinian issue
    – There is evidence of a reasonable and understanding relationship between Putin and Trump.
    – There are the reports of Israel sending high echelon security delegation to Washington to whine about Russia and Iran, and receiving nothing more than a lunch from McMaster.
    – Trump cancelled the CIA training program in Syria.
    The reality is that Trump has an entrenched pro-Israel pro-Saudi institutional culture to deal with, a large swathe of his base that still think the Israel-US relationship is the greatest thing since sliced bread (go read Conservative Tree House comments). And since Americans don’t really care all that much about foreign policy, there’s a pattern of compromising on that in exchange for wins on the domestic front. Nonetheless, Trump has been a far more even handed and cautious President so far *in practice* than anybody since Reagan (who likewise talked a big game and enacted cautious policy)

  6. Kutte says:

    Whilst you are writing from the comfort of your armchair, Donald Trump is surrounded by a dozen thugs with drawn knives. He is the President and has much power, but also many, many restrictions. If Trump did all the clever things you are suggesting he would be toast by now. I still think he knows what he is doing and will (hopefully) stitch up all the obnoxious people you are describing so accurately.

  7. Dr. Puck says:

    “Trump has been a far more even handed and cautious President so far *in practice* than anybody since Reagan.”
    Iran-Contra was cautious? The proxy wars in Central America and Africa were cautious? The marines killed and wounded in one fell swoop in Lebanon were not an aspect of the ‘practice?’
    “wins on the domestic front”
    Such as endorsing a full-on supply-side oligarchy with Goldman-Sachs seated at the table?
    (slaps head)

  8. elev8 says:

    “Nonetheless, Trump has been a far more even handed and cautious President so far *in practice* than anybody since Reagan (who likewise talked a big game and enacted cautious policy)” (Lemur)
    True. I don’t think there will be any kind of massive new war under Trump. That could only happen if the players interested in starting one substantially upped their game – i.e., their trickery and deceit – to levels beyond what they have proven themselves to be capable of so far.
    (So some risk remains, as it always does).

  9. Huh? Hezbollah is moving drugs for the Latin American cartel? A few paragraphs down ISIS is identified the culprit. What’s going on?
    Hezbollah and ISIS are mortal enemies. Hezzbeloh is Shia, backed by Iran. ISIS is a Suni-extremist group backed by Saudi Arabia.

  10. Peter AU says:

    “I do not know if Donald Trump is mentally ill. But his foreign policy in the Middle East certainly is crazy.”
    After the recent play in Saudi Arabia, I bought the book “The art of the deal” written or first published in 1987.
    Chapter two “Elements of the deal” is interesting to compare what he is doing now.
    A couple of paragraphs from the 1987 Trump…
    “One of the keys to thinking big is total focus. I think of it almost as a controlled neurosis, which is a quality I’ve noticed in many highly successful entrepreneurs. They’re obsessive, they’re driven, they’re single minded and sometimes they’re almost maniacal, but it is all channeled into their work. Where other people are paralyzed by neurosis, the people I’m talking about are actually helped by it.
    I don’t say this trait leads to a happier life, or a better life, but it’s great when it comes to getting what you want. This is particularly true in New York real estate, where you are dealing with some of the sharpest, toughest, and most vicious people in the world. I happen to love to go up against these guys, and I love to beat them.”
    Although I haven’t read right through the book as most chapters seem to be about various deals, from what I have read, much of what he wrote back then seems to fit what he is doing now.

  11. anobserver says:

    “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”
    This statement rings a bell. I seem to remember that, several years ago, a similarly preposterous accusation was spread against Hezbollah, which was supposedly setting up lucrative networks in cahoot with local drug traffickers and smuggling rings in the region of the triple border Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil.
    Anybody remembers that one?

  12. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    He can’t “make America great again” as that phrase is generally understood unless he confronts the FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate) and he is too much of a creature of that sector to do so.

  13. LeaNder says:

    Yes, has been on my mind too. But shouldn’t it really be 1992 and 1994? Iran & Hisbollah as main suspects?
    It surfaced post “Mission Accomplished”, amidst the push ‘further please: let’s first take Syria and then Iran’. Even the drug trafficking ‘cum’ terrorism’ angle may not be completely new. If I recall correctly it surfaced in some type of combination in Lebanon. Never knew if one could trust it. And definitively did not seriously study matters. And in that context there always already were these assumed Iran links versus Hezbollah.
    Random pick concerning the vague combination of drugs, terrorism Hezbollah/Iran, Lebanon would be Lockerbie. Random pick Guardian:

  14. blue peacock says:

    Publius Tacitus
    Duplicity among the highest levels of our government seems to have been going on for a long time. And it seems that the average American has faced a lot of duplicitous propaganda from their government for decades.
    In watching the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary I learned that JFK harbored private beliefs that involvement in Vietnam did not serve US national interests yet he ordered US soldiers as advisors into Vietnam primarily because he did not want to be attacked as weak on communism by his political opponents. Lyndon Johnson was even more cynical. So, one could say the Vietnam war escalation was a Democrat project, but the coastal liberal partisans will never acknowledge they have blood on their hands. They keep doubling down on their PCness however, notwithstanding Harvey Weinstein and predatory Hollywood as the anti-thesis of their PC ideology!
    In more recent decades it has been a bi-partisan affair, where under the guise of R2P and other “humanitarian” interventions, our government has destabilized many regions in the world and in particular the middle east. From Clinton to W to Obama, their administrations have obfuscated, and even lied as they have created chaos across that region. Unlike them, Trump has not yet launched any new war and at least his rhetoric at times acknowledges the colossal waste in resources in our military interventions and the need for better relations with Russia. Which recent American president even had any rational rhetoric, let alone actions?

  15. Christian Chuba says:

    We are taking all of the credit for defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq while ignoring the productive role of Iran, the PMU, the Iraqi govt, Assad’s forces, and Hezbollah. This is not just a matter of fairness, but a matter of perceiving reality correctly and avoiding messing things up again as we are prone to do. If our version of reality is correct then how will we explain why our efforts in Afghanistan continue to fail? Had we chosen to embrace reality there, we would do as Iran and Russia are doing and not equate the Taliban with ISIS and Al Qaeda.
    Regarding reality, has anyone else noticed that Al Qaeda in Syria has disappeared from our narrative?
    The party line in the U.S. MSM is, ‘the physical Caliphate has been destroyed but now we have to deal with the online version of ISIS and their local affiliates’. I wonder if and when the presence of Al Qaeda will be recognized again in N. Syria. The really nauseating thing for me to watch will be how the MSM will just pick up the ball and go with the latest govt narrative as if this collective amnesia never occurred.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iranian officials are very clear that they have won.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree, specially Finance.

  18. I read it too. My takeaway is that he is patient, that he sees things that others do not and when he moves, he does quickly and decisively. I also do not start with the assumption, as most of the nincompoops in the MSM do, that he is an idiot. He obviously is not. I also believe that we should watch what he does and not what he says — much of what he says is cover and prestidigitation.

  19. Eric Newhill says:

    Peter and Patrick,
    Agree 100%. I also read Art of the Deal when I first began to consider voting for Trump. Trump may come off as a little odd in some public appearances and utterances or incurious or clumsy upon occasion, but I am convinced that he is an extremely intelligent person; the 4D chess player that his fans claim he is. IMO, Some of the aspects that others criticize are indeed a smoke screen to confuse and/or cause his opponents to let their guard down.

  20. turcopolier says:

    Blowtorch Bob
    PT argued in the post that it is stupid and in error for anyone to say that Hizbullah and ISIS are in the drug business together. That is his point. pl

  21. Roy G says:

    Thanks Leander. I see the same innuendo and self-referencing / self-interested sources at work. Particularly interesting are the ‘Hizbullah t-shirt’ supposedly found at the Lockerbie crash site (foreshadowing the 9/11 passports and other such ‘finds’), and the criminal Natanyahu appearing at ceremonies held at the Argentinian bombing sites on September 11, 2017. Too clever by half, yet I worry about the corrosive effect of the engineered narrative on the truth.

  22. It’s interesting if not too surprising to see how many Trump supporters continue to insist that he either 1) has some master game plan to “drain the swamp”, or 2) is trying but too weak and too constrained to do anything.
    Guess who had the same appearance for nine years? Obama.
    Anyone remember “Change We Can Believe In?” How’d that work out for you?
    I had Obama pegged as “Bush Lite” long before Stephen Walt termed him that. I termed Obama that during his first Presidential campaign based on statements in his platform and statements he made to the New York Times about putting a gasoline embargo on Iran.
    I was right. Everyone else was wrong. But it’s amazing how many people – even “antiwar” types like Gareth Porter and Ray McGovern – continued to carry Obama’s water for nine years. They constantly tried to explain away Obama’s actions by declaring that he was “conflicted” about them. Even after he deliberately lied to the Presidents of Turkey and Brazil over the 2010 Iran deal they were trying to get (and did get, despite Obama’s reneging on it.)
    A few fools – actually, most of the fools who voted for Trump – thought that a few comments about “making nice with Russia” was enough to make him some sort of right-wing version of “Change You Can Believe In.”
    Anyone with a brain saw Trump as a no-nothing blowhard during his campaign. His only reasons for running for President were: 1) ego; and 2) he knows he will make billions in business deals after he leaves office.
    Trump hasn’t escalated against Iran? Oh, yes, he has. He has upped the rhetoric, he has refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the Nuclear Deal, and most importantly, he has upped sanctions on Hizballah in Lebanon.
    You want to know why we aren’t at war with Iran NOW? Two reasons: Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and Vladimir Putin in Syria. People should get on the knees and beg forgiveness from those two leaders for preventing a total Mid-East meltdown – so far.
    Trump has absolutely nothing to do with it. Quite the opposite.
    Trump is weak? As the Colonel has explicitly said, Trump could fire most of these morons who are “undermining” him in a heartbeat and take whatever heat that generates. A great President would do that. All we’ve seen from Trump is he throws almost literally ALL of his actual supporters under the bus.
    Stop thinking Trump has some master plan to save us all. Obama didn’t and neither does Trump. It’s delusional. All Trump wants to do is fake being “Presidential” until he can leave office and make some real money, meanwhile tweeting aggressive blowhard nonsense to the fools who think that sort of behavior represents a “strong President.”
    Trump will start a war with Iran because he thinks Iran is a weak nation he can “pick up and throw against the wall” – as someone once said – so he can look like a “war President”. And his family members are working for Israel. Trump is indeed a businessman. He knows from that experience that you don’t cross rich Jews in America.
    Trump may well start a war with North Korea because his cronies and handlers see six to ten trillion dollars worth of undeveloped resources they’d like to get their hands on and he has zero clue as to the potential devastating consequences for the people of Korea – nor does he care – let alone the potential consequences vis-a-vis China.
    If Trump does anything right with Russia – which so far he has not, aside from his (allegedly) “fruitful” talks with Putin – it will be for the same reason Obama made the Iran Nuclear Deal – to have at least one foreign policy “success” to offset the rest of the foreign policy disasters Obama created during his nine years – while knowing that “success” would be undermined in the very next Administration.
    Obama assumed Clinton would start a war with Iran. Instead, we got Trump. “Meet the new boss; Same as the old boss.” Anyone who thinks this dynamic is going to change in this country is on crack.

  23. outthere says:

    this was one of Gareth Porter’s best ever articles
    he did a lot of research over many years
    Hezbollah Didn’t Do Argentine Bombing (updated)
    1979 Views January 22, 2008 8 Comments
    Bush’s Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up
    this article originally ran in the Nation, reprinted here:
    Interview with Gareth Porter
    Gareth Porter’s Investigation into the AMIA Bombing in Buenos Aires

  24. outthere says:

    original article in the Nation
    Bush’s Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up
    The Bush Administration cites a 1994 bombing in Argentina to tar Iran as a sponsor of global terror. But a fresh probe finds no evidence of an Iran connection.
    By Gareth Porter
    January 19, 2008

  25. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Whipping up support amongst an ignorant American public by accusing official enemies of ‘drug dealing’ (The Venezuelan government has been so accused lately. In the 1930s, it was crazed Mexicans and Negroes. IIRC, the Sandanista government was also accused of moving blow for the Columbian cartels who somehow were being protected by the FARC (dubious, but then that’s a war where clean hands are pretty hard to find.)
    When the CIA dabbles in moving narcotics, the media at first screams in denial, but later on calls it sad and unfortunate and buries the issue.

  26. Christian Chuba says:

    Regarding the lack of escalation with Iran, Trump (and the Neocons) are fitting the profile of a bully.
    When the schoolyard bully wants to show his mettle, they don’t go after the varsity football player, they go after the small kid with the glasses.
    1. He bombed the Syrian airfield because he knows that Assad dares not retaliate.
    2. He gives weapons to the Saudis and diplomatic cover in Yemen because well, the Yemenis are the weakest of the countries said to be Iranian allies. If Iran is guilty of shipping advanced missiles all over the place why not blockade Iran? (rhetorical question, Iran has submarines, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and even supercavitating torpedoes)
    3. He decertifies the JCPOA and sends out Haley to lie about Iran and lobbies our vassals, oops, I meant valued partners in the EU to add more sanctions against Iran because of their ballistic missile program, the ballistic missiles that keeps Iran from being attacked. Iran and Hezbollah would be crazy to give up the one weapon that offers their only practical deterrence. Economic strangulation is the next best thing.
    He is being as aggressive as possible given the situation without risking our assets.

  27. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Even the feckless Obama was quick to seize on Putin’s offer to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in order to defang the drumbeat for war that was picking up in those days after Assad was accused by the Borg of ‘gassing his own people’. I see in a write up in a recent NY Review of Books that this proven fraud is still used as a bedrock truth in respectable western reportage.

  28. outthere says:

    I read a lot of comment about personalities of leaders on this blog. Consider this comment from Bacevich:
    If I understand Professor Langguth’s letter, he is insisting on the primacy of personalities in politics. Dean Rusk was a “rigid anticommunist” and Walt Rostow an “unyielding hawk,” and that’s all you need to know. Attach the right label to people and you can tell the story just the way you like it. Seen from this perspective, Vietnam becomes an argument over alternative versions of “the Best and the Brightest.”
    In Perils of Dominance Gareth Porter offers us a different angle of vision. He suggests that power–perceived and misperceived–rather than personalities might explain how we blundered into that war. For those willing to countenance a version of politics that looks beyond good guys and bad guys, I recommend it.
    By the way, on Clark Clifford: In 1968 President Johnson was in a deep fix and was desperately looking for a way out. Johnson hired Clifford not because he was a “staunch supporter of the war” but because he was a fixer. Sometimes a single label won’t suffice.

  29. outthere says:

    Thierry Meyssan analyzes the Argentina bombings.
    Remember there were 2 bombings, the Israeli embassy in 1992 and the AIMA in 1994. Read the whole linked story for more details
    The investigating judge Alfredo Horacio Bisordi has testified under oath, behind closed doors, before a parliamentary commission of enquiry concerning the the first terrorist attack. Voltaire Network has been able to obtain a transcription of this hearing.
    According to Bisordi, police commissioner Meni Battaglia lead the enquiry
    into the embassy bombing. He was seconded, in an unofficial capacity, by an unidentified Green Beret from the US embassy and by the head of security at the Israeli Embassy, Ronnie Gornie, both of whom supposedly had long experience investigating this type of terrorist attack in the Middle-East. At the advice of these “experts”, the commissioner immediately adopted the Islamic hypothesis of a car bombing and claimed to have found the scatterd remains of the engine of a Ford 100.
    It was not possible to establish the exact casualty list of the bombings
    since it turned out that the list of accredited Israeli diplomats didn’t
    correspond to that of the actual embassy personnel and this anomaly couldn’t be explained. Commissioner Battaglia opposed Judge Bisordi’s wish to hold autopsies claiming that this would provide no new evidence. The judge insisting, the Chief Rabbi of Argentina in turn voiced his opposition claiming that, for the Jews, this would be a profanation of the dead. There was no autopsy.
    The judge questioned two aspects of the case : why wait until the embassy was empty before attacking when a a hundred Jewish dignitaries were about to be received at the embassy with great ceremony? And why use a suicide bomber when a car bomb would have been sufficient.
    Showing more and more skepticism about the version that was being imposed on him, he was visited by the director of the secret services(SIDE), Dr. Gerardo Conte who was under instructions to make him see reason.
    Ever more suspicious, the judge burst unexpectedly into the police
    commissariat during the interrogation of a key witness : a taxi driver who claimed to have taken a group of Muslims to the airport just before the explosion. They allegedly told him that it was necessary to get out of the area quickly before it turned into an inferno. The judge himself questioned the witness who believed he was dealing with someone as accommadating as the police. The taxi driver refused to give his identity and described himself as a loyal Israeli. He claimed to be a colonel in the Israeli Army and to have fought in the Six Day War.
    The second enquiry reveals some equally edifying details such as an “Israeli police officer” who makes himself quite at home in Argentinian police stations and prisons, questions people outwith normal procedures and brings pressure to bear on witnesses. Asked to explain himself before an Argentinian court, he has disappeared. The Isreali government, after denying his existence, finally admitted he was one of their employees but refused to allow him to testify.
    The supreme court met in private sessionto examine various espects of the conduct of the case. It formally accepted scientific findings which
    established that, contrary to that which had been originally claimed, there were no car bombs driven by suicide bombers, but that, rather, the explosives had been placed in the buildings themselves, both the embassy and the AMIA.
    Everything that had been claimed about the vehicles and their drivers was therefore deemed to be false. The day after this session, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires deplored these conclusions and accused the Supreme Court of anti-semitism.
    A lot more independence and perseverance will be required by the Argentinian judicial authorites to elucidate completely this case.In the meantime, let’s focus on certain aspects of the affair.
    It is strange that 12 years are needed to establish that the explosives were in the building and that it was not a suicide car bomb. I would observe in passing that in the ongoing enquiry into the assassination of the Lebanese president Rafic Hariri, the hypothesis of car bomb which was taken as given by the UN special envoy Detlev Mehlis, is only a working hypothesis according to his successor.
    For 14 years, numerous Western experts have based their work on terrorism on an interpretation of the Buenos Aires attacks which has turned out to be false.
    It is lamentable to be able to assert that all the enquiries into the
    terrorist attacks imputed to Muslims are inconclusive , whether it is a case of Buenos Aires, New York, Casablanca, Madrid or London. Although that doesn’t prevent the neo-conservative governments and their “experts” from drawing sweeping conclusions.
    The US has a habit of modifying retrospectively the perpetrators of
    terrorist attacks against themselves according to their real or imagined
    adversary of the moment. Now they are rewriting the history of other
    peoples’ terrorist attacks.
    Finally, it is advisable to be vigilant with regard to warmongers who want to evoke the Buenos Aires attacks in order to categorize some or other group or government as “terrorist” and call for their eradication.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I wonder why those bombings in Argentina have been a matter of discussion – beyond academic – for US, EU countries, Canada, etc. It ought to be a matter to Argentina and Israel only.

  31. Anna says:

    From Unz Review:
    “Saudi Arabia has long established de facto linkages with Israel, despite their superficial religious differences, based on their intense racist tribalism and common opposition to independent Iran and secular, nationalist Arab states…
    Saudi Arabia and Israel play the key roles in anchoring the ‘arc of reaction and terror’ in the Middle East. Both foment wars, finance terrorism and spread ethno-religious fragmentation leading to millions of refugees…
    Saudi Arabia’s ‘Crown Prince MBS’ competes with Israel’s Netanyahu in concocting the most outrageous warmongering slander against Iran, preparing the world for global conflagration.”
    Is there a way to make the approaching conflagration local, so that it would consume these two arsonists only, while leaving the rest of humanity unharmed?

  32. Steve G says:

    “Six to ten trillion in undeveloped resources”
    Are you referring to North Korea and if
    so where and what are they?

  33. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    I would be very interested in your view on Patrick Armstrong’s comment at 2:42 PM on 26 Nov.
    The reason I ask is that I have great respect for both your opinion and that of Patrick Armstrong’s. And, they seem to differ on this subject.

  34. Jeff Kerber says:

    Agree. Good points. All of the commentators here at SST were convinced that if Hillary won the election that the U.S. military would go all out and bomb the SAA and help the AQ/IS jihadis overthrow Assad. And Hillary was prepared to declare a NFZ in Syria and shoot down Russian planes. If Hillary won there was a very good chance those of us living in the NE Acela corridor would now be carbonized silhouettes by now.
    I believe what Trump said during the election. His off-the-cuff realist comments about the ME and foreign policy can’t be faked, IMO. Given the globalist neocon forces arrayed against him, Trump is having to do a lot of bluffing, doublespeak, and game-playing to mitigate the forces pushing him into disastrous conflicts. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have playing this complicated game than a guy like Trump, who has extremely rare ability to play multi-dimensional chess and who has ungodly levels of confidence and fortitude in sticking with his instincts.

  35. JohnB says:

    According to this article by Mark Perry:
    It looks like the US has twin track approach to ME policy one by the Tillerson and the other by Kushner. Only can win out!

  36. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    My understanding of DJT is a work in progress, but at present IMO he has constructed an artificial persona for himself that reflects the “Art of the Deal” man that he thinks he ought to be. I watched the Farid Zakariya special yesterday as to how he was elected. Zakariya is a pretentious twit but this was interesting in its display of DJT in his own words and pictures over the last 35 years. The Trump of that long ago time was a different seeming man. He spoke English well and in complete sentences. He was calm and courteous. Gradually, over the decades, he became the menacing brutish lout that he seems now. Zakariya’s conclusion is that DJT is a deeply insecure man who was never accepted by the Manhattan establishment and who in retaliation and self-protection transformed himself into a parody of Joe Sixpack, the Everyman at heart of his base as it is called. His son has called him the blue collar billionaire. I think that is the desired effect. With that tool he successfully convinced scorned ordinary Americans that he was one of them and would stand up for them against the people that both he and they detested. There is nothing stupid about him at all. IMO he sees himself as a modern version of a Byzantine emperor balancing the needs of the pleb supporters with the need to play off his crowd of potential rivals in the Congress and his own house against each other. IMO he has his own policy ideas and he works on these on a personal basis with people he sees as analogs to the negotiating partners he has known most of his life. I would not want to work for him. i have worked for people like him and he will shop you in a minute if he comes to think of you as a threat to his power and image. pl

  37. EEngineer says:

    “shop you in a minute”? Did you mean “shoot”?

  38. turcopolier says:

    No. I watch too much British television. It means – sell you out. There ae no real immunity from this. Kushner is only partially fire proof because of Ivanka. pl

  39. Fred says:

    “Meet the new boss; Same as the old boss.”
    I really like the pro-immigration statnce Trump has. Those repeated appeals to the Supreme Court after the 9th Circuit stayed his executive orders, why that was just so much window dressing.
    “All Trump wants to do is fake being “Presidential” until he can leave office and make some real money,…”
    Maybe he should make a few deals with the open borders globalists. How many billions would Soros or Bezos shell out to get him to sell out? It has to be tough on his ego to know he’s only just a billionaire. Why he’s almost a peasant. If only he had started as an Arkansas lawyer or a Chicago community organizer, why then nobody would question his finances.

  40. outthere says:

    superb LONG article by Erix Zeusse, goes back to 1996 Khobar Towers bombing which saudis tried to blame on Iran but was actually the work of Osama; analyzes Hersh and Gareth Porter reports, Bush2, Clinton, FBI refusal to accept thousands of pages of Saudi documents showing their terrorism, etc
    must read all, too much to quote or restate
    Here’s why the US spreads falsehoods about Iran
    Iran is not sponsoring terrorism, but the US has vested interests in perpetuating lies on the matter.
    by Eric Zuesse Eric Zuesse
    November 27, 2017

  41. outthere says:

    PAUL JAY: But, what I’m getting at, or I guess what I’m asking, in terms of targeting Iran, which I do not think this administration has given up on, far from it, the Saudis I think are aggressive as anything. In fact, a lot of this purge, and I’m not sure enough has been made of this, but the purge of these various princes by the new crown prince in Saudi Arabia, some of that seems to have been princes who were opposed to this very anti-Iranian policy of the crown prince.
    LARRY WILKERSON: Yes, opposed to the split with Qatar, which was in my view utterly stupid, strategically inept, breaking up the GCC that way.
    PAUL JAY: It’s all about getting ready for an even more aggressive stance towards Iran. What I’m saying is, I’m not so sure Russia will mitigate that aggression towards Iran.
    LARRY WILKERSON: I’m not sure Russia will be willing to step into that one, because I think that would be propitious for Putin to stand on the sidelines and watch the United States, mainly because of Israel and its commitment to Israel, and to a certain extent Saudi Arabia, get sucked into it. That’s exactly my expectation, that we are going to, as one headline had it the other day, be the Saudis’ proxy. The Saudis are going to fight Tehran to the last dead American, and the Israelis of course will fight Hezbollah to the last dead American. They’ll do a little bit better of the fighting, but that’s the way it will be. The Saudis are utterly incompetent at military operations. You’re seeing that in Yemen. They drop their bombs from so high altitude because their pilots are scared to death of getting hit by antiaircraft fire that the bombs go everywhere, schools, hospitals, churches. It is going to be, if it is going to be, an extremely brutal war.
    Iran will respond probably asymmetrically. They will not exchange hardware with Saudi Arabia. They will send the Quds Force, now highly trained and highly capable, into the oil-producing regions of Saudi Arabia, where Shia mostly work, and they will stoke those Shia, and the kingdom, and Mohammad bin Salman, this consolidating of power crown prince will suddenly have a rebellion on his hands. This could really get bad. It can go bad really fast.
    PAUL JAY: We’re in a very dangerous moment in various places in the world. Just to add-
    LARRY WILKERSON: Paul, we’re exactly as you just characterized it, and what we have in Washington is a bunch of amateurs with no experience. I include Rex Tillerson in that. That is not what you want on your team when you’re in this kind of situation.
    PAUL JAY: And, a very divided Washington. I’m reading reports, I don’t know how credible they are because obviously I’m not so sure of the websites I’ve been seeing them, but apparently a real split between the Pentagon and sections of the CIA, which apparently don’t buy this policy of maintenance of the Assad era, or what should I say, accepting Assad is going to stay in power. There’s sections of the CIA that are continuing to fund and arm anti-Assad Islamic forces in Syria, and that the Pentagon is seriously at odds with these people in the CIA. Have you heard this?
    LARRY WILKERSON: I haven’t. My question there as always, and has been recently, does the president know about this? Does McMaster know about this? Is this happening beneath their watch, as it did with Ronald Reagan with the Contras and Sandinistas in South America, Honduras and Nicaragua? Ronald Reagan did not know everything that Bill Casey and his minions were doing, including Bob Gates. There were things going on between the president’s watch, if you will. Who cares what the reason was, dotage, or inattention, or whatever? That happens from time to time with the CIA. When you get these internecine bureaucratic battles beneath it, it gets even worse. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, because I have seen it before in the historical record, in the archives, in testimony. It’s there.

  42. Eric Newhill says:

    Interesting to read about Comey and Mueller being involved in the Bin Laden/Iran bait and switch.
    It is corruption like that that makes me think that they must either thoroughly corrupt or kill Trump now that he has access to all kinds of state secrets. There must be a tremendous fear of what he might publicly reveal, especially when he leaves office. I suspect that, for now, Trump is aware of the danger and is playing at being corruptible at times and using the secrets as leverage over people at other times (something that would not be appreciated in the least).

  43. LeaNder says:

    Maybe he should make a few deals with the open borders globalists.
    Fred, should I suppose this is ironical? Trump isn’t an ‘open borders’ globalist? If it is all about America First, why would he want to possess a golf course in Scotland? Dubai, Indonesia? And strictly how many Deplorables use his golf premises in the US?
    yes, let’s leave out Soros, as the center of evil, I am vaguely undecided about him. …
    But yes, interesting that Bezos has replaced Gates, who seems to struggle to close up with regular/constant business returns e.g. with Google?
    But concerning Bezos. Never mind they may occasionally sell web-space to the wrong type of customers, in hindsight that is,
    never mind they, as others, used Luxembourg as a safe tax haven, may not pay their employees as much as they should, they were always a highly reliable and highly customer friendly business partner for me. In other words, they have earned my trust over the decades, from the moment my foreign language department lady retired shortly before the bookshop closed its branch/shop close to me. And yes, they quite efficiently expanded beyond books.
    Nutshell: That lady, the one that retired, could get me US books in two weeks at most. Meaning if the books had to be ordered from the publisher directly.
    I vaguely recall I once before Amazon was around, a long time ago, asked a friend on visit from the US over here to bring the next two volumes of a trilogy by a US scholar. She replied, she had been told it would take four weeks for her to pick them up in Seattle. That was even longer then it was at the time for me here in Germany. Of course I have no idea if she was the wrong person to ask. But I doubt.
    Has there been a bestseller bias on the US book market before Amazon opened shop, I ask you?

  44. rjj says:

    Hack: Suggest dialing down the Shrill and the Histrionic from 11 (eleven) to between 2 and 3. They interfere with the Passionate Intensity.

  45. Beige Barbaria says:

    The former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke, explicitly stated on US television that the United States had retaliated against Iran for Khobar Towers bombing; “We did something very nasty to them and told them not to do that again.” – if my memory serves.

  46. Beige Barbaria says:

    ” let’s leave out Soros, as the center of evil,”, indeed!
    We do not wish to be dislodged from that august position by a mere armature.

  47. jpb says:

    DJT is experienced dealing with rich powerful Jews who dominate the New York real estate business.
    Is is possible DJT is using Kushner to play the Israeli’s, rather than the other way around?

  48. turcopolier says:

    Beige Barbara
    That was along time ago. Trump’s motto is”what have you done for me today?” pl

  49. turcopolier says:

    I think it is likely. pl

  50. Anna says:

    Moral relativism:
    “The covert relationship that Israel has with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states is no longer a secret. It is clear that the Saudi-Israeli unity regarding their common enemy, Iran and Hezbollah, will grow even stronger from now on as their relationship is taking a more overt character. This alliance will try to change the regional balance of power to Iran’s disadvantage. But what remains unclear is if these two criminal states will, despite their unsuccessful adventures in Yemen and Lebanon respectively have taught them any lesson at all? I remain doubtful as arrogance and impulse rules the day in Riaydh and Tel Aviv.”
    These spoiled brats, sanctimonious to the extreme, need a good lesson. For now they hide behind the US might.

  51. turcopolier says:

    i AM NOT PT. Can you get that through your thick head? He wrote his piece, not me. Get it now? pl

  52. turcopolier says:

    Since you are not capable of doing anything but post other people’ thought in order to argue with me, I will no longer post ANY of your materiel. pl

  53. FB Ali says:

    Thank you for that comprehensive and illuminating view in response to my query.

  54. Just about everything tech industry countries need…some 200 mineral varieties.
    North Korea is sitting on a stockpile of minerals worth trillions
    Mining in North Korea

  55. As for whether Trump is escalating against Iran, consider this:
    Trump Administration Plays Media Like Fiddle on Iran/HBO Hacking Story
    IOW, Trump hates it when they use the alleged Russia hack against him, but he’s happy to use some random Iranian hacker to justify upping sanctions on Iran.

  56. I think you’re right about the “partially fire proof”.
    Ivanka tells a story about how she was riding in her car one day listening to her father being interviewed on the radio. At one point he was asked whether he would fire her if she didn’t perform. Trump said he’d fire her “like a dog.”
    Both annoyed and amused, Ivanka phoned Trump and said, “Did you have to say, ‘like a dog’?”
    So Kushner – in the immortal words of Governor Lepetomane – better “watch his ass.”

  57. Peter AU says:

    That is interesting on the way he changed, or developed a persona.
    In his book, he believes one of the secrets of success is the ability to deliver a product the targeted buyer wants and is happy with. He cites several people for there ability to deliver what the buy wants and one of these, although he personally did not like the movies, was Sylvester Stallone and the movies Rocky and Rambo. Stallone delivered what the audience wanted.
    A persona loosely based on the fictional characters as they sold well in the US?

  58. Richardstevenhack – I don’t like the servant-of-Israel side of American politics either, any more that I like it in my own country. Let the Israeli politicians look after their county, if they can summon up the wit for it, and let our politicians look after ours.
    So we’re agreed on that. But have you reflected that much of the American electorate, and I think all the media, is knee-jerk pro-Israel and that means that any politician who isn’t doesn’t get elected? It’s not much good going for the politicians on that one.
    And what about all this:-
    “Anyone with a brain saw Trump as a no-nothing blowhard during his campaign.”
    Very bright, quick on his feet, good policies, warm personality. Looked like he could be a bit of a bastard at times, which seeing what he’s up against may not be that much of a drawback. It’d be nice if you could’ve found a plaster saint to run for President but barring that I reckon you’ve been lucky. Very lucky, looking at the rest of ’em.
    ” All Trump wants to do is fake being “Presidential” until he can leave office and make some real money,…”
    He told you that, did he?
    Mr Hack, no offence but I think you’re being picky. Send him over here if you don’t want him. Quite a treat it would be, someone alive amongst the living dead of Westminster.

  59. TonyL says:

    Thank you PT and Col Lang.
    It is great to read your assessment of DJT.

  60. Jeff Kerber says:

    Colonel, don’t ban me for saying this, but I think you’re a lot like Trump. You both have good instincts about how things will play out, you have zero tolerance for pretentious BS, and y-u have a lot of confidence in your take on things.
    I met Trump personally, one-on-one, for 20 minutes around 8 years ago. He was one of the sharpest, most impressive, and nicest guys I’ve ever met. And I’ve had personal contact with a lot of high-profile people: the four-star heads of CJCS and USSTRATCOM, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary, members of Congress, famous Hollywood actors, CEO’s of major corporations, etc. As my wife is my witness, I found Trump orders of magnitude more impressive than any of the others I’ve met. When I changed careers around 7 years ago I read everything I could which written by or on Trump and tried to emulate his style as much as possible. It served me well.
    My point is, don’t believe what you read and hear about Trump.

  61. jpb says:

    IMO…one of DJT’s underestimated assets is the financial failure of his real estate business in the early nineties. I don’t trust a man, until I see how he reacts to existential threat. DJT recovered financial and personally from the darkness, giving him a deep psychological balance from knowing both success and failure.
    Brad Thomas, a Forbes REIT analyst, wrote ‘The Trump Factor’ exploring his business empire. Brad Thomas said his real estate equity is about 6 billion dollars, without valuing the management and brand empire. DJT’s business is probably worth about 10 billion dollars. I read the book about a year ago and recommend it for specialists.
    I do not think he ‘shops people’ except for incompetence, treachery, or the end of relationship utility. His self worth is probably not
    threatened by personality alone, but by threat to his creation or goal. He is reputed to have an IQ in the 150 range, which gives him the brain power to understand systems and master strategy at a high level. This ability is unusual combined with high energy and real world competence. I will stop here, before I appear to be a fan boy.

  62. Larry M. says:

    Sid finster
    regarding Hizbullah and Turkey, there is the complication that there existed, IIRC, a local Turkish Hizbullah som ten or fifteen years back. It did carry out at least one terrorist attack, but was a Sunni fundamentalist organization that had nothing to do with the Lebanese Hizbullah. ASFIK, Turkish Hizbullah has long been defunct.

  63. LeaNder says:

    We do not wish to be dislodged from that august position by a mere armature.
    double edged sword, BM

  64. iktay says:

    I would laughing hard right now if I wasn’t crying.

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