The gathering of the knuckledraggers (my people)


I have to be careful in my choice of words with you pilgrims and assorted fellow travelers.   In my narrow world a "knuckledragger" may be heavy handed but is not necessarily without virtue.

I am more and more convinced that Trump and his crew (Kushner, etc.) are not equipped intellectually to comprehend or deal with men for whom some things are not for sale. 

Kushner and his helpers on the Deal of the Century are interested in peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis only because they see, however dimly, that Israel's long term prospects require some sort of  peace.

The peace that they want is visible now.  It is a peace in which there is no Palestinian state and in which the Palestinians accept their permanent status as a subject people at the mercy of their Israeli masters.

As LBJ used to say, "This dog won't hunt."  Some things are not for sale.  The Alamo is not for sale.  Jerusalem is not for sale.  The Iranians say that "the door of diplomacy" is closed forever.  That statement should be taken seriously

The Trumpistas and their friends believe that everything is for sale, but, in fact everything is not for sale.  Is Israel for sale?  No amount of bribe money will cause the despised Palestinians to give up their dream of nationhood.  One would think that Jews would understand that but, evidently their tribalism overcomes everything else in their heads.

Iran will not be brought to its knees with economic sanctions and stupid statements which imply that submission to the will of the "City on a Hill" will make them prosperous and well off.

The knuckledraggers are gathering on both sides in the US/Iran crisis.  War is likely.  pl

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55 Responses to The gathering of the knuckledraggers (my people)

  1. plantman says:

    God help us.

  2. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    In Agricola, Tacitus describes how the vanguished Britons were made “civilized : “…paulatimque discessum ad delenimenta vitiorum, porticus et balinea et conviviorum elegantiam. Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset. .“, translated as “…Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice, the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet. All this in their ignorance, they called civilization, when it was but a part of their slavery.” ( )
    Same offer is now on the table. The response of the Persians will be that of Calgacus.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  3. fredw says:

    “That statement should be taken seriously.” To dispute it you need to come up with a motivation for conducting bargaining with people who don’t keep their bargains. I have no trouble understanding why they might prefer a hostile standoff with both sides up front about the damage their opponents can inflict and the limits of their willingness to accept such damage.
    As an American, I would like to consider this unique in our history. But ask any descendant of an Indian tribe. (No. I am not one.)

  4. Eric Newhill says:

    A meeting of the immovable object and the unstoppable force is definitely on the horizon given current trajectories. The Palestinians’ rejection of the cool rationality of a generous cash offer, with Iran backing that decision, is going to be played up in the West to justify what follows (just analyzing; not advocating).
    I am curious as to what the average Palestinian in the street thinks about all of this. Is it just the more militant factions that reject the deal outright? Or is the rejection more general? Could a moderate faction emerge that splits Palestinian unity? The CIA and State Dept should have assessed this dynamic (if it exists) by now.

  5. Flavius says:

    Your post is spot on point with respect to the personal characters of Trump and his immediate acolytes and the perilous situation our country is in. Trump, Kushner, Kushner’s father were made in a NY/NJ business environment where the prevailing ethic was to offer enough to get to ‘yes’ and pay only so much as you must. It is all that they know. They are incapable of putting themselves in the other person’s place beyond calculating how much money it will take to move him – the Art of the Deal.
    The country, I should say our Government is at loggerheads simultaneously with three cultures, two of them with nuclear capabilities, that our “decision maker” knows little to nothing about and the trajectories are all down, not up; meanwhile political unity in our country, legislatures, courts, executives, media, already stressed, completely sundered on the results of a Presidential election. We won, you lost and if the other side had won, it would be the same, if not worse. Blame it on the Russians; blame it on the Chinese; blame it on Iran, Putin, Assad, Khomeini, who will be the next in line for obliteration! What could possibly go wrong?

  6. TI says:

    I don’t understand how those pushing for war/treating war as an acceptable risk on the American side expect this to play out. Does the US even have sufficient troops for a full-scale invasion of Iran without resorting to a draft, which would be political suicide for anybody proposing it? Or is the idea that a large-scale air campaign would be sufficient to cause the collapse of the current Iranian regime? To be replaced by what – those MEK crazies Bolton likes to pal around with, but who probably have zero support within Iran?
    And then there’s the risk of a general conflagration in the region, since Iran isn’t nearly as isolated as Iraq was in 2003. I suppose Hezbollah in Lebanon would get involved and launch missile attacks on Israel. Syria and Iraq might become battlefields as well. Maybe even Russia could enter the conflict in some way. Taking such risks seems crazy, how could this end well?

  7. ted richard says:

    I am more and more convinced that Trump and his crew (Kushner, etc.) are not equipped intellectually to comprehend or deal with men for whom some things are not for sale.
    in my own life at it concludes pat the things and memories i cherish the most were gotten through love or blood.
    money never figured into anything approaching the value from the other 2.
    so we are ruled by merchants who know not the value or anything as they tabulate its price.

  8. blue peacock says:

    “War is likely. pl”
    Col. Lang
    This post is why every US administration needs you as their advisor.
    The ziocons along with Bibi & MbS have convinced Trump that the Palestinians are for sale. That there are “moderate” factions, meaning factions that will acquiesce to their permanent slavery. If there was a referendum in Palestine on their permanent Bantustan status it would be firmly rejected by a landslide margin. What Trump doesn’t get is that this would require a betrayal of the sacrifices of many generations who have suffered under Israeli occupation. Additionally can they trust Trump to actually get MbS to pony up the dough?
    With the sanctions on Khamenei personally and Iran responding that the door to diplomacy is over, I agree with you that war is a high probability. With that war will be the end of the Trump presidency, as Tucker Carlson notes. I believe Trump misreads not only the situation in the Middle East but also the domestic political environment. Hostilities with Iran which would become a broader ME conflagration will become a lightning rod for domestic opposition to Trump. We may top Hong Kong in the turnout in the streets. It will likely become the top item on the Democrats campaign debates with Bernie’s unequivocal stand against it. This ain’t 2003.

  9. Jack says:

    Peace loving nation? In my lifetime the US has been at war with someone all the time.

  10. Barbara Ann says:

    Golden guillotines all round. In Trumpian terminology it is clear that reaching a “deal” is synonymous with achieving the abject capitulation of your opponent. I cannot even bring myself to comment on Kushner’s abomination. I will instead quote from Alastair Crooke’s piece on it today:
    This is the heart of ‘the deal’. Not just political normalisation for Israel into the region, but the making of economic dependency of the Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians (and possibly – but not so likely – Lebanon) on the US East-Med gas ‘hub’.
    On Iran: Sanctioning their top diplomat is not a good sign. My guess is that among other things they want Zarif’s Twitter account shut down in order to suppress the counter narrative for when hostilities begin. Then again, since the drone shoot down Iran has so far refrained from exerting additional pressure of its own. I pray this means some diplomacy is taking place behind the curtain. It is either that or the calm before the storm. We will surely know soon enough.

  11. Walrus says:

    “It will be a quick sharp, surgical operation with maximum force concentrated in a very small but strategic area. The operation will be successful and complete before the enemy and financial markets even wake up to what we have done.” – with apologies to Gen. Von Moltke the younger, 1914.

  12. Aristophones says:

    I think you are correct about the probability of war Colonel. Trump has put himself in a bind between two extreme factions, and face-saving outs have evaporated. I just hope Khamenei can show patience and wisdom

  13. catherine says:

    ”’I am more and more convinced that Trump and his crew (Kushner, etc.) are not equipped intellectually to comprehend or deal with men for whom some things are not for sale.”
    Well you would be 110% right.
    Here’s the Kushner Plan. It’s a high school desktop glossy brochure for a term paper written in a effort to mimic ‘business speak’.
    It’s pathetic. What went thru my head while reading it was ..’is this a joke’?
    What is even more pathetic is the money offerings are for things that Trump has totally cut off for Palestine already so the plan basically just gives it back. And then there’s the billions that don’t really go to Palestine but go to Egypt and Jordon….a payoff for 2 reasons I guess….one to bribe them to support the plan …another in the case of Jordon to bribe them into agreeing to keep the Palestine refugees so they wont return to Palestine.

  14. Eric Newhill says:

    Playing the devil’s advocate here – fatwas against nuclear weapons aside, Iran has violated nuclear agreements. Ahmadinejad publicly boasted that Iran had enriched to 20% and that he could, and just might, go higher as well as start a second enrichment site. It wasn’t just the US/Israel that were alarmed by that.
    The US is not a uniquely bad actor on the world stage. The US happens to be the biggest actor from a resources standpoint. So all the ankle biters yap bite ankles. That doesn’t make them better. Give them the Big Stick and just see what the world looks like in a few years. It won’t be paradise.

  15. frankie p says:

    And the clincher, in my view: the plan calls for the development of the Palestinian tourism sector. Too rich!
    “Come, global citizens, come visit us in beautiful Palestine! Please make sure to plan your vacation around the annual Israeli mowing of the lawn with high-tech armaments.”

  16. Roger Spenser says:

    Yes, God help us. It has come to only that left to hope for.

  17. Fred says:

    “achieving the abject capitulation of your opponent”
    That doesn’t strike me to be Trump’s objective with respect to North Korea. He would already be much further along without Bolton and company’s interference.

  18. Fred says:

    “Hezbollah in Lebanon would get involved and launch missile attacks on Israel.” What would Nasrallah and the Lebanese gain by that?

  19. Barbara Ann says:

    “Unique and exciting characteristics give the West Bank and Gaza the
    potential to transform into a successful global tourism destination.”
    Did you see the promo video for Gaza? Benny Gantz used it to launch his election campaign against Bibi. I was wondering where to vacation next year.

  20. blue peacock says:

    IMO, this will be an act of solidarity not for any personal gain. Lebanon will suffer immensely. Iran has paid a lot of dues that Nasrallah will not so easily forget. And he has made statements to that effect recently.

  21. rswojo says:

    IDK, a Trump hotel in Gaza would be nice, no?

  22. Johnb says:

    Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, Siri & Abu Musa, four Iranian sovereign islands controlling exit from the Persian Gulg via the Straits of Hormuz. Two have civilian populations and two just military garrisons. How vulnerable would any combination of the four be to a classic Marines assault landing ? They also have a disputed claim of sovereignty from the UAE arising from British Colonial days.

  23. Oscar Peterson says:

    So what if Iran enriched up to 20%? That’s the conventionally accepted boundary between LEU (low-enriched uranium) and HEU (high-enriched uranium.) The point is that Iran deliberately never crossed the boundary into HEU.
    Having looked at a few other of your comments, I observe that you consistently exhibit an cloyingly insinuating style–a sort of faux-naif, implicitly anti-Iran simpering that reeks of disingenuousness, like some itinerant peddler pawing passers by and trying to sell them his schlock at exorbitant prices.
    You say you are playing the devil’s advocate, and I can well believe it. You do indeed give the impression of advocating on behalf of something dark and unwholesome.

  24. eakens says:

    There are easier ways to start a wR

  25. catherine says:

    Evidently they think they can entice Palestine with the money and get them dreaming about it and then in Part 2 slide in the political part of the plan in which Israel will still control everything.
    In addition Israel would no doubt make money off building all of the promised infrastructure since they don’t even allow Palestine to get materials like concrete.
    If the Zionist’s promised land in 1948 had been some US state and they moved in and did the same things they did in Palestine we wouldn’t be having this conversation …..they would all be dead and a Jewish State would be the shortest footnote in the dustbin of history.

  26. Eric Newhill says:

    If you had been around here long enough you would know that I have a low opinion of the Iranian revolution and of Islam in general. I have been open about that and Col Lang told me to knock it off. So I did.
    I do not think that Iran should have nuclear weapons and I do not think that they can be trusted to not attempt to build one some day. When the Iranian govt boasts that it has achieved 20% (a few short nonlinear steps from 90%) and that it can go higher and will if it chooses to, then that is an irresponsible braggadocio given the threats that Ahmadinejad was making to wipe out Israel around the same time.
    That said I have long been clear that, in my opinion, the US should not become involved in costly and likely-unwinnable foreign wars. If you’re implying I’m a neocon of some sort, you couldn’t be more wrong. I would prefer that the US largely isolate and let the noble savages kill each other to their hearts’ delight.
    My comment to FredW was more about his naïve Rousseau-like belief in the nobility of the inhabitants of the exotic corners of the world and the uniquely sinister nature of the white man and America.

  27. Thirdeye says:

    Here’s a suggestion if you want to find out if it’s just more militant factions not impressed by the Kushner “plan” for Palestine. Find one, just one, independent voice who thinks that it’s a workable plan offered in good faith.
    I’m gonna offer you a million bucks right now. See how generous I am?

  28. Les Priest says:

    We seem to be back to the moto of the Roman Empire: ‘Oderint dum metutant’

  29. Walrus says:

    How vulnerable are President Trumps re-election prospects to an aircraft load of flag draped Marine coffins?

  30. See the comment by catherine. The “plan” is pure gaslighting, a sham through and through. The document itself is more like a theatrical prop than anything produced by actual professsionals.
    If you were to look past the plan’s central omission – that the two giant impediments to a productive Palestinian economy are the occupation and blockade – there is no “generous cash offer.” It’s just another neoliberal bait-and-switch: the presumptive $50 bil outlay would flow directly into the pockets of cronies and clients of MbS et al, and whatever entity succeeds the PA would be stuck with the bill – crushing debt for decades to come. As for the “Palestinian on the street,” his future prospects would be about the same as that of South Asian laborers in UAE and Qatar.
    In any event, the whole thing is just a PR stunt, a sort of threadbare figleaf under which Israel can seize, and eventually annex, more land.

  31. joanna says:

    Or is the idea that a large-scale air campaign would be sufficient to cause the collapse of the current Iranian regime?
    irony alert: There must have been a lot of thought and updates circling the Rumsfeld Doctrine. I assume there are still quite a lot of closely neocon aligned truly America First aligned volcanoes around.
    And didn’t Trump promise to update atomic weapons? That might be helpful not least considering the updates on efficiency since Oppenheimer.

  32. Philippe Truze says:

    “.. dum metuant” : the can hate me as long as the fear me”.

  33. joanna says:

    OP, did he really describe himself as devil’s advocate?
    I loved the explanation of someone that felt like a friend, although I only met him online and in private exchanges.
    He offered the explanation that originally “the devil” was in fact the printers apprentice that sometimes was a bit careless.

  34. joanna says:

    If you had been around here long enough you would know that I have a low opinion of the Iranian revolution and of Islam in general. I have been open about that and Col Lang told me to knock it off.
    You didn’t exactly draw my attention on that topic. Although it feels you should have, had it ever been urgently on your mind. More on your expertise on the Obama Health legislation, as expert from within the private for profit field.

  35. PRC90 says:

    One factor to consider, the element of time aside, is the limit to Assad’s willingness for Syria to be used as a staging area for Iranian support for Hezbollah once the Shia militia’s services are no longer required in northern Syria.
    The Iranian presence is blocking what I believe is Assad’s intention for some rapprochement with Israel, while attracting the obligatory Israeli strikes on Iranian and Hez assets within Syrian territory.
    Russia similarly has no interest in an Iranian presence in Syria.
    What would be the effect of this on the Israel/Hez/Palestinian(various) contest and on the willingness of Israel to go to war with Iran whenever the US is ready ? What would be the effect within the Iranian leadership group of the loss of their raison d’être ?
    I would suggest that madness and blood, the usual solutions, will feature prominently as various parties scramble for some advantage, with ‘deals’ being rare.
    When ? Trump will hope it is not in an election year.

  36. Charlie Wilson says:

    I would prefer that the US largely isolate and let sinister cosmopolitans kill each other to OUR hearts delight.

  37. fredw says:

    I don’t see that I said anything that would imply that the Iranian elite are nice or honorable people. They are not, for whatever that is worth. Any such interpretation is projection on your part. Their moral qualities have nothing to do with the argument I made. Ours do, in that we have established that we don’t keep our bargains. Whatever our virtues might be (and I still believe them to be considerable) that specific moral failing is what is relevant here.

  38. Norbert M Salamon says:

    It appears that noon has made any reference to “polite green men” teaching some Iranians the intricacies of “surplus misplaced” Russian manufactured EW equipment, radar systems etc.
    Nor have any reference made to a clear statement in Jerusalem that Iran is an ALLY of Russia and connecting this statement of Mr. Putin’s words that attacking Russia or her allies is forbidding [except if you want to pay the price].

  39. Barbara Ann says:

    But what if Suleimani turns out to be a Themistocles and The Gulf his Salamis? It will not be the Persians lamenting is the aggressor is defeated this time.

  40. Eric Newhill says:

    Administrations change. New admins might see the world totally differently than previous ones. Foreign powers change too. Sometimes, even if they don’t change, new facts are revealed that alter the US’ relationship with them; including agreements.
    If Trump makes an agreement with a foreign power, should no democrat who might get elected in the future ever be able to undo that agreement?
    Should we be sticking with agreements made by George Washington?
    Yes, I can see where the ever shifting nature of foreign policy is frustrating to other countries. They frustrate us with their changing foreign policy too (like the Iranian revolution). I guess this is job security for State Dept, CIA, etc.
    I don’t think it’s a “moral” failing as you put it. It’s a feature of our system of governance and of the nature of life, in which nothing is permanent.

  41. fredw says:

    “The US is not a uniquely bad actor on the world stage.”
    I never claimed that we are. Only that we have recently very publicly, with enormous fanfare, established that we don’t feel bound by our bargains. Whether you like the JPCOA or not, it is understandable that the Iranians consider that they a have a signed contract that the US has chosen to ignore. We pretty much publicized our decision that way. The fact that it was negotiated by Obama rather than Trump is irrelevant. It was done by the United States government. And confirmed. With compliance verified by the relevant parties.

  42. Fred says:

    JPCOA is not a treaty ratified by the US Senate. What advice were they giving during that negotiation?

  43. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Barbara Ann,
    I am past the age for indulging in magical thinking. If the full might of the USA goes against Iran, Iran will lose. However, I honor them for fighting rather than capitulating. Knowing that there are still those for whom death with honor means more than slavery with money feels good. Calgacus was described as one such. Zahreddine and Mozgovoi belonged to this group. So does Suleimani, Nasrallah and, AFAIK, Shoigu, Lavrov and Putin. Quite a few of the pilgrims on this site are of the honorable tribe of knuckledraggers. As the good Colonel says, the actions of such are incomprehensible to those for whom all is for sale at the right price. Rationality is based on the fundamental set of ethics, not vice-versa.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  44. dilbert dogbert says:

    Yes, come yourself. The situation is to serious to send your child.

  45. dilbert dogbert says:

    The peace proposal is interesting. To me it is a proposal for the inmates of the prison to be paid to stay there.

  46. PRC90 says:

    The Russian relationship with Tehran may not include sending men to die for them. It will certainly give them an edge in dealing (that word) with the Iranians re the matter of an Assad invitation to leave Syria, and any invitation for Iran to join BRICS and/or SCO.

  47. PRC90 says:

    All of this brinkmanship has an interesting second-order effect, being the lack of Brit media time available for adverse public commentary and opining against Boris Johnson, Trump’s English friend, and his methodical shaggy-dog climb to the top.
    EO, what do you think ?

  48. Walrus says:

    As a general rule, foreign treaties are binding on states and not revoked lightly except in the most serious of circumstances. Why, to behave otherwise might get your country labeled as “not agreement capable”, Oh wait!
    The Nation states of this planet exist in a huge web of treaties that make our civilisation possible and indeed some would go back, at least in principle, to George Washington.
    New treaties are regularly made to cover new technologies and developments, for example AI, global legal entity identifiers, etc., etc.

  49. Johnb says:

    True enough, it was the arrival of the Boxer ARG that prompted me to think what would be achievable should an order be given.

  50. Barbara Ann says:

    I echo your sentiments 100%, though military planners would always be wise to allow for the possibility of magical thinking of the kind demonstrated by Lt. Gen. Van Riper as recently as 2002.
    I am no knuckledragger, but I greatly admire men for whom death comes before dishonor. People who do not/cannot deserve our contempt. If it comes to it I don’t doubt that many of the very people tasked with the destruction of the Iranian forces will feel the same way, but do their duty nevertheless.
    And yes the US can crush Iran, but at what cost? If the neocons are able to drag America into another such transparent war of choice, I think the consequences could be analogous to those for the British in the aftermath of Suez. Would the First Republic survive such a victory?

  51. Eric Newhill says:

    The Treaty Clause is part of Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution that empowers the President of the United States to propose and chiefly negotiate agreements between the United States and other countries, which, upon receiving the advice and consent of a two-thirds supermajority vote of the United States Senate, become binding with the force of federal law. – Wiki
    If congress was doing its job, Trump could not alter what Obama did.

  52. fredw says:

    Uh, yeah. You don’t seem to understand the concept of “treaty”.

  53. fredw says:

    JPCOA in fact does not seem to be technically a “treaty”. That does not affect its status as a “bargain”. It was in fact approved by congress.
    “Under U.S. law, the JCPOA is a non-binding political commitment.[147][148] According to the U.S. State Department, it specifically is not an executive agreement or a treaty.[149] There are widespread incorrect reports that it is an executive agreement.[150][151] In contrast to treaties, which require two-thirds of the Senate to consent to ratification, political commitments require no congressional approval, and are not legally binding as a matter of domestic law (although in some cases they may be binding on the U.S. as a matter of international law).[150][f]
    On 22 May 2015, President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 into law;[g] this legislation passed by the Senate in a 98-1 vote and the House in a 400-25 vote, and was approved by President Obama on 22 May 2015.[159] Under the Act, once a nuclear agreement was negotiated with Iran, Congress had sixty days in which it could pass a resolution of approval, a resolution of disapproval, or do nothing.[160] The Act also included additional time beyond the sixty days for the president to veto a resolution and for Congress to take a vote on whether to override or sustain the veto.[161] Republicans could only defeat the deal if they mustered the two-thirds of both houses of Congress needed to override an expected veto by Obama of any resolution of disapproval.[160][162]
    On 19 July 2015, the State Department officially transmitted to Congress the JCPOA, its annexes, and related materials.[163] These documents included the Unclassified Verification Assessment Report on the JCPOA and the Intelligence Community’s Classified Annex to the Verification Assessment Report.[163] The sixty-day review period began the next day, 20 July,[163][164][160] and ended 17 September.[165] Senator Ted Cruz introduced a resolution seeking a delay in the review period, arguing that the sixty-day congressional review under the Act should not begin until the Senate obtains a copy of all bilateral Iran-IAEA documents. This resolution did not pass.[166][167] Ultimately, a resolution of disapproval was brought to the Senate floor, but failed. A resolution of approval was brought to the House floor, but it, too, failed. As a result, the agreement went into effect following congressional review period.[168]”

  54. Norbert M Salamon says:

    The main value of Iran vis–vis Russian Federation in the present US/Iran conflict is that Iran keeps the Jihadists far from the Caspian Sea, the underbelly. Anyone who presumes that Russia will allow Regime change and or destruction of Iran must have overdosed on Kool Aid.
    What is between Syria/ Hezbollah / Iran was discussed in Jerusalem by the head of the Russian Security Council with Mr. Bolton et al, and is not pertinent to Russia’s concern of Caspian Sea area’s security. This position regarding this area is very similar to the matter of Crimea and possible US/NATO control thereof sans reunification with Russia./

  55. fasteddiez says:

    Abu Musa has had their defenses built up for a long time. Also, if the Iranians knew they were in a real war, the amphibs, which would have to be inside the Persian Gulf, would already have had a welcoming committee of anti ship missiles.

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