“Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” – TTG


By Jay Solomon, Feb. 5, 2017 7:47 p.m. ET

“WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions.

The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile President Donald Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran – one of Moscow’s most critical allies—in the Middle East, these officials say.

A senior administration official said the White House doesn’t have any illusions about Russia or see Mr. Putin as a “choir boy,” despite further conciliatory statements from Mr. Trump about the Russian leader over the weekend. But the official said that the administration doesn’t view Russia as the same existential threat that the Soviet Union posed to the U.S. during the Cold War and that Mr. Trump was committed to constraining Iran. 

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


What is the goal here, besides continuing to uphold the notion that America is the indispensable nation destined to shape the world to its messianic vision? The only discontinuity from the previous Borg hegemonic policy is the laudable desire for a peaceful and cooperative relationship with Russia. Other than that, there's still a slavish obedience to Likudnik demands. Does the Trump Administration want this better relationship with Russia more than it wants to destroy the Shia Crescent and please Israel?

Trump has much to bargain with. He can end the sanctions targeting Russia and acknowledge a Russian sphere of influence in its near abroad. Would this be enough to entice Putin into abandoning Iran and dismantling the R+6 coalition in Syria? It might be tempting, but I doubt Putin will bite. I think the long game here is the Russian desire to establish a bulwark against the Wahabbi jihadist threat on its southern flank. That bulwark would dissolve with a weakened Iran and Syria and a U.S. backed Saudi Arabia.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough who’s the real champion of the art of the deal.





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121 Responses to “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” – TTG

  1. LondonBob says:

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

  2. Ivan says:

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

  3. FB Ali says:

    “If there’s a wedge to be driven between Russia and Iran, we’re willing to explore that,” the official said.”
    Utter nonsense! Trump can offer the Russians nothing of sufficient value to tempt them to ditch their arrangements with Iran. I do not think what TTG cites is valuable enough to make them change their posture on Iran.
    This also shows the childishness pervading White House policy-making. If the US really wants to defeat the Islamic State (and AQ) it has to ally itself with Iran rather than Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies, who are their main sponsors.
    This also indicates that the Israeli government believes that Iran is a bigger threat to Israel than IS and AQ. This is taking a very short-term view of the situation.

  4. Lars says:

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

  5. robt willmann says:

    Off topic, but somewhat related, is that the subject of a recent post by Harper that Elliott Abrams was being considered to be appointed deputy secretary of state, has surfaced again. It has been reported that Abrams was to meet with Trump today (7 February) about the position, according to a Reuters story–
    The puff pieces promoting Abrams continue–
    The publicity story in the Atlantic claims that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supports Abrams for the job. If Tillerson actually supports Abrams, that would be a disheartening position by Tillerson. The Reuters story says that Tillerson will also attend the meeting with Trump.
    However, Senator Rand Paul (Repub. Kentucky), who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said that he will oppose Abrams for deputy secretary of state–
    Whether this is just maneuvering and massaging and posturing by Trump, or whether he is actually seriously considering Abrams, remains to be seen.
    Steve Bannon — the most intriguing person in the Trump administration — will certainly be involved in the selection process. If he ends up supporting Abrams, that will be another disappointment.

  6. Eric Newhill says:

    FB Ali,
    In your opinion is there no leverage that the Trump administration has over KSA and the Gulfies to cause them to, at least stop support of the jihadis?
    If there was such leverage, perhaps Trump could have his cake and eat it too?

  7. wisedupearly says:

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

  8. robt willmann says:

    The main reason that a wedge will not be driven between Russia and Iran is that Iran recently said it was going to stop using the U.S. dollar in transactions, and Russia and China have been slowly moving away from the dollar to settle trade with other countries and have been setting up an alternative computer system to the SWIFT system in order to route orders between banks in different countries. During the height of the economic sanctions against Iran promoted by the U.S., Iran was getting around them by selling oil and gas in exchange for gold. Russia, China, and some other countries have gotten tired of the financial fraud coming from the U.S., especially since 2007, and are taking steps to remove the U.S. dollar (and U.S. government treasury debt paper) as the “reserve currency” in banks around the world, by starting to settle trade in the money of the countries involved in the transaction, rather than using U.S. dollars to settle trade transactions. It was the Petrodollar agreement with Saudi Arabia in the early 1970’s that established the dollar as the reserve currency in banks around the world and led to its use to settle trade, even when the U.S. was not a party to the trade and it was between two other countries.
    This is not such a big deal as a practical matter about Iran, because it was not using the dollar very much due to the sanctions. But the sanctions and other bellicose kind of language coming from the U.S. toward Iran, which has started up again, will push it closer to Russia and China for economic reasons, and also for its own security.
    One interesting thing, if true, is that Iran’s biggest trading partners are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China–
    Russia and (especially) China have been buying a lot of gold in recent years, which is related to their movement away from using the U.S. dollar. This is very significant.

  9. BraveNewWorld says:

    I have to agree with everyone else. What does a wedge between them look like in practical terms? Stop selling weapons to Iran? Russia has already been following the US written UNSC resolutions. Iran got jerked around for what 5 years on the S-300 deal? Lots of stuff Iran builds in house now and what they don’t they either could or could buy else where.
    Iran will buy more from Russia than the US for as far into the future as I can see. And Putin will be looking at the Iran deal and how the US wants to reneg on that, the way Kadaffi got done after he did a deal, how Sadam turned out, how the White House and Congess row in opposite directions making Trumps word worthless and be thinking thanks but no.
    It isn’t the US and it’s credibility problems that Russia is interested in any way, it is the EU and Trump is doing every thing he can to get them to go in another direction.

    “Does the Trump Administration want this better relationship with Russia more than it wants to destroy the Shia Crescent and please Israel?”
    Nothing will please Israel. It will just allow them to move onto their next demand. Trump told them to hold off on the settlement crap until after they met Feb 15, instead he got punked when the Israelis doubled down with the Regulation Law. if he’s not strong enough to stand up to the Israelis how can Putin trust him?

  10. kooshy says:

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

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

  12. LondonBob,
    That’s my point. So far we’ve seen three weeks of neocon thinking and actions.

  13. Castellio says:

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

  14. kooshy says:

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

  15. Ishmael Zechariah says:

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

  16. Eric Newhill says:

    As much as I am a big Trump supporter, I have to admit that there are trends emerging in his FP that don’t look too good to me, for all I know; which isn’t much.
    That said, if we stopped being dicks to Iran, would they, in turn, cease to be a threat to Israel? If the answer is “no”, Can we really stand down and let Israel deal with Iran on its own? Seems to me that would lead to war – maybe Israel makes the first overt strike, but it’s in defense of a bunch of behind the scenes Iranian threats, maybe some not so covert shenanigans involving Hizbullah or other agents. I mean, theoretically, sure, we could do it, USA first, right?, but practically? Even ethically? All bribery, etc aside, could we really stand down? Now factor in the bribery.
    Or maybe I’ve been listening to too much Israeli propaganda and the reality is that without US involvement, Israel and Iran could come to terms?
    The MENA is beyond my understanding, but I keep trying

  17. Jack says:

    TTG, Sir,
    There should be no surprise with Trump’s attitude. During the campaign he ridiculed Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and consistently said he would be tougher. Similarly he said during the campaign that he would have better relationship with Putin. He respects him. Note what he said when Bill O’Reilly did the classic groupthink “Putin the killer” statement.
    I’m actually very impressed with how transparent Trump has been. He’s not doing anything different than what he said during the campaign. I am getting more convinced now that he’s not gonna let Bibi dictate the terms. He may let him believe for some time that he’s snookered him. Note thst Trump spoke the unspeakable during the South Carolina debate. Then he played the gallery with his AIPAC speech. IMO, deep down he is not an Israeli Firster. In time that will become apparent. Since he didn’t say much about the Saudis I really don’t know where he stands.
    I think the Iranians don’t get him. If they provoke him it will turn out bad for them. Does anyone believe that Trump cares if the Hormuz Straits are blocked and Iran fires ballistic missiles into Bahrain. He’ll let the US military go ballistic and turn much of Iran into rubble. They should play him like the Chinese are doing. They are being very astute by sending Jack Ma and the Anbang chairman to talk business deals. Trump is easy to deal with if you play to his ego and get his Manhattan leveraged speculator juices flowing. Being bellicose will not work with him. I think the Chinese have his number.

  18. Eric,
    I hope Trump recognizes Israel as the money pit it is and its Likudnik government as the leaking sewer pipe it is. Guaranteeing the defense of Israel is practical and, I believe, ethical. But I also believe the right policy is to guarantee a cutoff of all funding, as well as military and intelligence cooperation if they undertake any military adventures. Unless they’re truly suicidal, they’ll find some way to live in the region.
    I think the same goes for Europe, especially Eastern Europe and the Baltics. The best thing that could happen to those countries is to be forced into recognizing that Russia is not going anywhere and the sooner they come to some kind of mutually acceptable accommodation with Russia, the better off they will all be. I say that as someone who closely identifies with Lithuania and my family who remains there.

  19. Jack says:

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

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

  21. robt willmann says:

    There were rumors after the coup in Ukraine in 2014 and after Libya was knocked over that the government’s gold in each country was taken. One position is that the gold in Ukraine was removed shortly after the coup and transported to the New York branch of the Not-Federal Reserve Bank in New York City, but of course this has not been officially acknowledged. I have not heard where the Libyan gold may have gone.
    Concerning what I noted above about a computer system being developed to bypass the SWIFT system of routing bank orders, here is an article mentioning it and a link from it–

  22. Freudenschade says:

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

  23. Castellio says:


  24. johnf says:

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

  25. YT says:

    My late Ol’ Man (who lacked formal education) told me the same fable when I was a wee lad – but it was illustrated with chopsticks.
    Nips have a different version.

  26. ToivoS says:

    I would be very disappointed if Trump believes he could drive a wedge between Russia and Iran. He must know that Russian foreign policy has goals that are longer than one or two US presidential terms. Even if the Russians trusted Trump completely they certainly wouldn’t sacrifice their long term relationship with such an important neighbor as Iran upon the whims of US presidential elections.
    However, it would not surprise me if the neocons were stupid enough to think such a tactic was feasible. Perhaps Trump can use their delusions to stop them from undermining his attempts at detente with Russia.

  27. TTG and All,
    One piece of context that may be relevant. Over the past weeks, both Sergei Karaganov and Dmitri Trenin have been arguing that there has been a sea change in Russian identity – essentially, the closing of a three hundred year period which began with the reforms of Peter the Great, in which sophisticated Russians saw the country as existing on the fringes of Western civilisation.
    From an article by Karaganov entitled ‘A Victory of Conservative Realism’, to be published in ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ – a rough equivalent to ‘Foreign Policy’:
    ‘For almost twenty-five years, Russia teetered on the brink of the “Weimar syndrome” – a sense of humiliation and injustice thrust on it by Western policies. But, unlike Germany in the 1930s, Russia escaped being drawn into it; it launched a political fight, held out and ended up the winner. Also, a very promising fundamental change occurred in the minds of the leading part of the Russian ruling elite and the majority of people. Over the past 300 years, geostrategically and culturally they saw themselves and their country as a periphery of Europe. Since 2011-2012, Russia sharply intensified its turn towards the growing economic and political markets of Asia. This coincided in time with the aggravation of the political and ideological confrontation with post-modern Europe which largely forgot its core values and their roots that attracted Russia as well. Russia came to understand that the European Union had entered into a comprehensive crisis with no end anywhere in sight for the time being. Having realized that, Russia mentally turned from a European province into the center of rising Eurasia, into a conservative yet forward-looking Atlantic-Pacific power, which, I hope, will not have any firm global commitments.’
    (See http://karaganov.ru/en/publications/434 .)
    From an article by Trenin entitled ‘Russia’s Post-Soviet Journey’ in ‘Foreign Affairs’ in December:
    ‘When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the hope among those Russians who welcomed its demise was that the newly created Russian Federation would return to Europe. Russia’s victorious liberals and democrats dreamed of a market economy and Western political freedoms, while the bulk of the population longed for well-stocked supermarkets and the post-imperial, post-ideological stability of countries such as Germany and Sweden.
    ‘A quarter-century later, after a tumultuous economic and political transition, Russia has, in fact, moved away from Europe. Russian leaders regard their country as a self-sustained civilization related to Europe yet clearly separate from it. This worldview calls into question not just the legacies of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, both of whom looked at Europe as a model for Russia’s own development, but also much of the Europeanizing Peter the Great’s, as well. The key to understanding this shift lies in the Russian elite’s and Russian public’s experiences with their European counterparts over the last 25 years.’
    (See https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2016-12-25/russias-post-soviet-journey .)
    Both Karaganov and Trenin were ‘institutniki’ of the Gorbachev period – and shared the infatuation with the West they describe.
    This is a total and irreversible sea-change. It is one of a number of developments which make it clear that the notion of a global liberal order underpinned by a unilateral American hegemony is, to be blunt, kaput.

  28. raven says:

    Yea, we’re always going to turn some country into a parking lot.

  29. turcopolier says:

    This has nothing to do with “faith.” I am waiting to see what he will DO. pl

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Third Rome rises.
    They must have been reading my musing on this forum and taking notice.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think it is Trump who is trying to provoke Iran and not the other way around.
    After all, Revolutionary Guards are not running simulated attacks on US in the Gulf of Mexico and the Iranian Parliament is not discussing designating US Marines as a Terrorist Organization.
    Trump already has scored points, via his posture against Iran, with the Gulfies, the Turks, the Israelis and the Fly-Over-America.
    Iranian leaders will treat his Presidency the way they treated the presidency of Bush II; “nothing to be gained from him, we will wait him out.”

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russians do not need US or EU to recognize their annexation of Crimea. Their strategic aims are neutralization of NATO as well as recapture of Kiev, the birth site of their state.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree, it is laughable and doubly so to publicly discuss it.

  34. kooshy says:

    IMO Recapture of Kiev as another annexation is not going to happen anytime soon. But a regime change back to a new government more favorable and cooperative to Russia is possibility. Russia will eventually need a recognition for “Taking Back her loaned territory to Ukraine”. Currently she has no support for that in any country. IMO only a 3 or 4 way Yalta style conference between Russians, US, China,(EU) to settle a new peace on earth and a new world financial system can bring something like that about.

  35. Dr. Puck says:

    reminder, (via http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/251227-trump-saudi-arabia-should-pay-us)
    Trump called on Riyadh to share its vast wealth with the U.S. in exchange for the alliance between the two nations.
    “They make a billion dollars a day,” he told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    “Saudi Arabia, if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be here,” Trump said. “They wouldn’t exist.”
    “They should pay us,” the billionaire businessman added. “Like it or don’t like it, people have backed Saudi Arabia. What I really mind though is we back it at tremendous expense. We get nothing for it.”
    On the other hand, Tillerson.

    Who is close to Trump’s ear, beyond the most inner circle?
    How close to the center are Derek Harvey, Walid Phares, Michael Flynn, Victoria Coates, Sebastian Gorka? (This is quite a crew!)
    What of the conflation of Iran with fundamentalist jihadism?

  36. Willybilly says:

    The two horrors of all horrors are Elliott Abrams and Walid Phares……

  37. JJackson says:

    IMO one thing not covered in this thread is that Russia has been deliberately building a reputation as a all weather ally in stark contrast to the US. The audience for this are the developing countries who have watched the US use and abandon allies when no-longer required. Even as juicy a prize as recognition of Crimea and cessation of support for the Jihadis in Syria would not adequately counter the loss of reputation with allies, and potential allies, who fear they may be chosen as the next US bet noir.

  38. BraveNewWorld says:

    The world has been chattering about the Israelis gobbling up Palestine for 50 years now and annexing the Golan heights for how long? In the entire time not a single concrete thing has been done about it. I am sure Putin is aware of that.

  39. kooshy says:

    Ambassador Bhadrakumar’ opinion
    Russia, China disagree with Trump on Iran”

  40. Phodges says:

    It is clear from Trumps statements on the capmaign trail they will try to separate Russia from the Russia-China alliance and China -Iran will be tje new boogie man.
    Putin has already explicitly said he

  41. Lars says:

    So do I, but so far I am not reassured that much positive will come out and that is based on what he has already done.

  42. Jackrabbit says:

    Trump aims bellicose statements at both Iran and China. IMO the wedge-driving is to split Russia from SCO.

  43. DH says:

    My spidey sense says now is the time to cash out of the market, but what does that mean practically for the cash I would be holding in savings?

  44. Kooshy says:

    Yes with one difference Israel is protected politically, militarily and financially by the west, yes nothing will happen no one is going to attack Russia but nevertheless they will try and pressure to financially and politicly pressure her. At this stage no side will back out it’s stand on Crimea, Trump can’t exchange Syria or Iran for Crimea.

  45. Lurker says:

    In spite of Trump’s promises to drain the swamp, of neocons and neoliberals, he has been elected to lead an aging hegemon teetering on bankruptcy. On the other side of the world an assertive China challenges the hegemon with an appealing and inclusive “One Belt One Silk Road” beneficial economic development model. The hegemon has tried hard to negate China’s influence in Africa and MENA. The hegemon had partitioned the world assigning responsibilities to its surrogates: NATO, Israel, KSA, Turkey, Japan, Philippines. But Israel could not take Lebanon due to fierce and determined resistance by Hezbollah. Turkey, NATO, Qatar, Jordan, Israel and KSA could not defeat Assad who is being helped by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. KSA is not doing well against Yemen. Someone has to be blamed, Iran is a more convenient target than Russia or even China. Since, the war against Yemen is a surrogate war by the KSA, Gulfies and Israel on behalf of the hegemon. This is still part of the global effort to negate a foothold to China in the Arabian peninsula and to better control access to the Suez canal and the horn of Africa. Incidentally this and other wars on behalf of the hegemon further sales and incremental revenues to the MIC in USA, Canada and UK. But the militarization of the political dispute serves to prevent the al Sauds and the Gulf autocracies from turning towards the OBOSR economic development model. Egypt and Turkey have already turned. Philippines is turning. In spite of his best intentions, Trump cannot escape his fate.

  46. FB Ali says:

    I think it is quite clear that the MSM is not ‘independent’ in any sense. They are all following a certain line, or, as you say, “pushing a particular agenda. This is the one followed by the neocons.
    Eric Newhill,
    You are asking the wrong question. The leverage that exists is the one that Israel (through its US lobby) and Saudi Arabia (through its money) exercise over US policy. I doubt if Trump will be able to change that, even if he wants to (I’m afraid I don’t see the possibility of what TTG hopes might happen).

  47. Fool says:

    If you were trying to “drive a wedge” between the Russians and Iran, why would you make it so explicit?
    One possibility is that the administration is pandering to the neocons/izzies. I can’t think of another reason why, in an article in which no administration official was willing to speak on the record, we would be hearing from neocon vanguard Michael Ledeen (whom the reporter doesn’t fail to mention “advised National Security Council Advisor Michael Flynn during the transition and co-wrote a book with him last year”).
    My question is what Ledeen meant by ‘take care’…

  48. Old Microbiologist says:

    Things are in transition. I was shown an article out of Mariopol yesterday where over 10,000 civilians blocked the roads into Mariopol where the Ukrainian Army was about to begin a false flag operation in which they were going to fire 4,000 Grad rockets into the city and blame the rebels. Many of the soldiers were from Mariopol and had phoned their families to warn them and it snowballed from there. If Trump fails to back Ukraine it will be over this year with perhaps a second Maidan coup.
    The problem is that Ukraine is in complete ruins and someone is going to have to pay for the rebuild. There are also a lot of Nazis who have to be dealt with as well. Yesterday the hero Gevie was assassinated using a flame thrower in Donetsk so the Ukrainians are desperate to win the forthcoming battles.
    I will add that the sanctions on Russia have helped Russia financially and hurt the EU terribly. One might think the real goal was to destroy the EU. So, lifting the sanctions are not now desirable to Russia. Keeping the benefits Russia more every day. So, they can’t get French champagne or Roquefort cheese? That pretty much sums up the overall effect. Additionally, the sanctions have pushed Russia into an accelerated time table to become self sufficient and to move completely away from any need to go through US based financial transactions or need to purchase any American or EU goods. Russia was already heading that way but the sanctions moved it to a high priority. It is the German businessmen who will topple Merkel.

  49. Thomas says:

    “I think the Iranians don’t get him. If they provoke him it will turn out bad for them.”
    Maybe they do get him.
    Watching a morning news update there was a report with a film clip of Ali Khamenei giving a lecture to some senior leadership and in a matter of fact tone he raised the point that the US is two faced (fair enough as a political putdown)and can’t be trusted. The follow up was Hassan Rouhani announced also that the nuclear accord could be the basis for a comprehensive understanding. Another Grand Bargain on the table you could say.
    What is more important is what is being said in the private back channels than policy theater produced by MSM. It will just take time before finding what is really being done.

  50. Old Microbiologist says:

    I am in 100% agreement.

  51. turcopolier says:

    How about they are just stupid, ignorant people in way above their capacity to comprehend? pl

  52. turcopolier says:

    Men like him are secretly cunning. Let’s see what he does when some of his followers cause him real trouble. pl

  53. Old Microbiologist says:

    Never going to happen for the reasons the Colonel stated. Those ISIS and most of the rest of the jihadists are mostly from former Soviet central Asian republics and once the war is over in Syria and Iraq they are going to gave to go somewhere. Many came from Europe and the Europeans are finally waking up to the realization these guys will be coming home and will cause no end of trouble. Russia sees the same threat which is why they are there in the first place. Americans seem to forget how many jihadi terrorist attacks Ruaais has endured. So for them this is a real existential threat.
    On the other hand the NATO and EU forces in europe are a joke. I have friends in high places here in EUFOR and they are woefully incapable of any kind of rapid response. In fact the entire military is on leave during the entire month of August. The deployment time is measured in weeks not days. Also, you have to consider how Russia, who had a treaty defined right to keep 25,000 military in Crimea replaced the entire force in one evening in an unplanned spur of the moment operation. Could the US move that many in an unannounced deployment the same day the President asked for it? People fail to appreciate just how dedicated Russians are to defending the homeland and the Russian people. The old quote is: there’s stupid, then real stupid, then invading Russia. One nice thing, the American aggression against Russia has made Putin extremely popular. Even my Russian in-laws who hated Putin support him now and that is saying something.

  54. eakens says:

    Agreed as well. Suppose the US offered up KSA/Qatar to the Russians today, in addition to pulling back off Russia’s borders, all in exchange for Russia backing off on Iran. Even this would be hard to justify for the Russians in light of the position they’d be in the aftermath of such an arrangement.
    Any solution here will require Syria and Iran, and as long as they maintain their relationship, it will be difficult for the US to do anything.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is no back channel, in my opinion.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, cunning but not smart; the Gulfies, Israelis, and Turks have met their match in him.

  57. Jackrabbit says:

    Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West
    Caution: Oilprice.com is widely read and considered a good source for info affecting the global oil industry. But they often adhere closely to main-stream narratives that strain credulity.
    In this case, for example, savvy readers will note the errant description of ISIS as a ‘rouge’ actor that is ‘forcing’ states to act in a certain way. There are many indications that ISIS is supported/guided (directly or indirectly) by states that are part of the ‘Assad must go!’ Coalition such as: US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey.

  58. FB Ali says:

    I think you are quite right.
    I am coming round to the belief that there’s not much to Trump, either – except some native cunning. He, too, seems to be in way over his head.
    I’ve expressed my hopes of him and his people in some pie-in-the-sky comments earlier on various threads. I am regretting them now.

  59. mike says:

    Trump may also want to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group. Or is this just waving a red flag to the hardliners in Tehran to get them to react? Or another floater by AIPAC?

  60. Fool says:

    The US is an “existential threat” to Russia; the jihadis are a royal pain in the ass. (I’m probably punching above my weight class here, but I would also add that during the Chechen wars the weapons, madrassas, special forces training, etc. were ratlined through Georgia, which Andrew Cockburn referred to as “an ideal home away from home for American spooks.”)
    Another thing, the jihadis from the Caucasus / Central Asia are mercenaries. With the many potential holy wars to wage after Syria/Iraq, I imagine the enemy of whoever funds them is at the top of the list. (Let alone the logistical convenience: Iran is hardly even a detour on the road back to Russia.)

  61. ISL says:

    If you have an opinion on Elliot Abrams, you might voice it at:
    I politely suggested a strong business leader to help Rex Tillerson.

  62. Fool says:

    Like FB Ali, I am an optimist and have assumed a method to Trump’s madness, probably mistakenly. That said…didn’t Flynn come out looking pretty sensible in the Hersh piece?

  63. VietnamVet says:

    TTG & All,
    Excellent Post and Comments.
    There was unity in the Obama Administration. Its goal was satisfying the wishes of the Globalists. They were righteous in serving the cause of free movement of money, people and goods while raking in the cash.
    The new group in town are Nationalists. The Israel-Firsters are even more so; thus, the emphasis on Iran. Before there was the Eastern European Oligarch tinged dream of destabilizing Russia, now the White House says let’s make a deal.
    From the other side of the world, it seems Russia is as unlikely to give up Crimea as the USA letting California split off. Russia plays the long game. Islamists are an existential threat to Eurasia. They will point out that Brussels’ Austerity will destroy the Middle Class and will make deals that are in their best interest. Russia will wait to ally the EU-exits into the New Silk Road with themselves, China and Iran. Turkey is on the brink. But, counter currents have pulled Brazil and India away for now.

  64. turcopolier says:

    You folks on the left are making a yuge mistake abut Trump and the Republicans. You obviously hope to degrade his popularity with the public using your claque in the media. Once you get there you then hope to have the Republican controlled congress impeach and convict him. You are searching desperately every day for possible offenses. What a grandiose fantasy! Do you really think that the “marbleless” McCain and his office wife will lead you? Your claque intends to contend every appointment requiring senate confirmation? You haven’t won any of these cases yet. Do you not think that you will look useless and futile in your efforts eventually. That is not a good place “to be” politically. And what do you think will happen if you run Elizabeth Warren in 2020? What do you think? Wise up and move toward the center and then run at every level as tribunes of the people rather than in imitation of HC (the arch identity politician) who said today that “the future is female.” This is a sexist thing to say. There is only so much traction available to the faculty cocktail part crowd and the Salonists. Try hanging out with ordinary Americans. Ask Sanders about it. He more or less understands it. pl

  65. You say – “I’ve expressed my hopes of him (Trump) and his people in some pie-in-the-sky comments earlier on various threads. I am regretting them now.”
    Last year the Colonel was kind enough to include a comment from me in which I said about the American election that the American voter faced “an uncertain and unspecified future under Trump or more of the same under Mrs Clinton”. We knew all about that sort of choice over here because we’d just faced it with Brexit. Not that difficult a choice, looking back on it. Better to chance a re-shuffle than play on with a losing hand.
    I reckon those of us here who chanced it remain happy with the choice we made. It’s still an uncertain and unspecified future, that’s for sure, but it still has incomparably more potential than the inevitable drift toward failure we faced before.
    The disillusion, the pettiness, and the mistakes, will no doubt come in profusion for you also as the Trump presidency gets under way. Brexit had no face of course, so we didn’t see what you’re now seeing with Trump as every man and his dog seeks to cut the ground away from under his feet. I believe though that that sense of high purpose that was so evident in the response of so many Americans to Trump’s candidacy is still there; and surely, however short you fall at the start, you’ve escaped that hopeless “more of the same” that you’d otherwise have got. It looks as if your Mr Trump will see to that.

  66. mike says:

    Colonel —
    Lefties? I’m a lefty, but do not want the man impeached. If he was impeached Pence in the WH would be a thousand times worse. Most lefties I know feel the same way. We wish him well in any attempt he makes at re-establishing American industry. And we hope to hold him to his campaign promises to keep Medicare and Social Security as they are. But in any case we (or I) do not trust him. I believe that Trump’s own party is using him and will doublecross him at the earliest opportunity that he gives them.

  67. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    The USA’s rapacious response to the collapse of the Soviet Union is shaping up to have been a world-historic strategic blunder. Thank you, Wall Street.

  68. kooshy says:

    Sir with due respect, IMO that other choice wouldn’t have been any better . I still like the 50% chance of change, with the flip of coin in the air vs. the 100% knowing what would have come with HRC.

  69. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    I, too, was prepared to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. Those doubts, however, are piling up.

  70. Marcus says:

    Agree with the core of your sage advice Pat. And Sanders is a good icon of populism.
    Also agree that the shrill protestation of nominees is counterproductive. But I do believe in the need of exploration of these nominees’ beliefs. Seems cynical to nominate someone to the EPA that has made a career of suing the agency. What is the extent of his belief in unraveling EPA law? How much are we willing to sacrifice as far as water and air safety for monetary gain? The praise of transparency in this Adminstration has merit. Let’s have as much transparency as we can get.

  71. Cortes says:

    An interesting piece by Alexander Mercouris at The Duran suggests the Russian Airforce may be returning to Hamadan in Iran:
    If true, difficult to reconcile such a move as evidence of readiness to allow a wedge to be inserted into the Iranian-Russian relationship easily.

  72. Kooshy says:

    Is hard to understand if US gives up (support) for KSA and Qatar ( IMO, Israel and Jordan will also fall) to Russians, why there would be an strategic need for US to have (contain) Iran. IMO part of the curent reason for US need to contain Iran’ rise is to protect her dectatoril clients in region, once US gives up these client states where is the need to contain Iran. In long run protecting and safeguarding Iran as a client is more expansive then that of the client gulf states. Having Iran at your side as an stratgic friend is less expensive then both other scenarios. That’s what Russia is doing right now to protect and increase her influence in region, and that’s why Russia will not trade or go for that deal.

  73. ann says:

    Trump and Bannon look like heavy drinkers. Puffy skin and watery eyes. They watch a lot of TV to see “how they are doing” in the polls. They will be their own demise.
    There is no left, left. Sorry, Colonel, they went silently into that good night.

  74. LJ says:

    I no longer have any idea what the center is and who embodies it. McCain and Hillary used to be labeled as centrists. John Kerry? To me, the center is the Borg, and Trump is trying to blow it up.
    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

  75. MRW says:

    Colonel [Inconsequential whether you publish this or not],
    This is OT: Based on your extensive expensive with the Houthis and Yemen, would be vitally interested in what you think of Trump’s recent raid on Yemen? Was it what this guy says? http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-scale-of-trumps-yemen-botch.html

  76. FB Ali says:

    As a Canadian, I am not directly affected by what Trump does in the US. I view events there as an outside observer – but a very interested, and even involved, one, considering the huge role that the USA plays in shaping world trends and events.
    I fully agree that Hillary Clinton would have been a disaster for both the US and the world (as kooshy says). That is why I rooted for Trump during the elections.
    I guess I had too many expectations of Trump — hence my present disappointment. However, I have no doubt that Hillary would have been much worse. Trump as President is far, far better than her (Sanders would probably have been the best out of the lot).

  77. Fred D. says:

    Come on, seriously? He’s been in office not even 3 weeks and you’re already making an assessment of his presidency?? I think his moves will turn out to be brilliancies while you might see them as blunders now. Even this EO mess was a move to get the ball rolling ASAP up to the Supreme Court to set precedent for EO’s to come. You don’t become a multi-billionaire in a very complicated business in a very demanding city without thinking through a million things simultaneously. They say he plays 5-D chess and he takes special delight in misdirection and confounding opponents. Give him at least 6 months before making an early assessment.

  78. chantose says:

    Dr. Puck
    As Steve Bannon appears to have the official position as Senior Whisperer, it may be best to consider Bannon’s own strategic views, then consider at what point and in what guise Bannon would bring other’s views to Trump’s ear.
    Here is yesterday’s NYT on Bannon’s apparent intent to unite Christendom to continue the 1,000 year fight with Islam:
    Transcript and audio of Bannon at the Vatican:
    Certainly Mike Flynn seems to share some of Mr Bannon’s fervor, and Sebastian Gorka would serve his purposes well.
    I wonder if Bannon’s vision of a crucial civilizational contest is a thing to stir men’s souls, at least among some Catholics and evangelicals? Does anyone in the committee think it might have legs in these circles, or even beyond?

  79. fanto says:

    ann and Others,
    disappointments here and there, but the exchange with O’Reilly IMHO, was a moment of true greatness in the way Pres. Trump replied to O’Reilly’s statement – “Putin is a killer” – it took courage to say what he said. And it seems to me that the average American (I am not, so I am just guessing)deep down his/her heart knows that Trump said some inconvenient truth. One does not need to invoke any recent figures in the US, but the attempts to assassinate Castro, or going back further (the farther back, the ‘safer’ for a person like me trying to debate American history!) back in the 19th Century – the crimes against American Indians – would be enough to counterpoint the patriotic mantra. I think – this exchange was a true teaching moment by the President.

  80. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Colonel, it is an oxymoron to speak of the Democratic Party of 2017 as “leftist.’ No party can be described as ‘leftist’ unless it advocates for the economic interests of average working people and the poor. The Democratic Party began ramping down from doing that during the Reagan administration. Since the inauguration of President Bill Clinton twenty four years ago it has been perpetrating increasingly blatant fraud in this regard on the grass roots base it inherited from the New Deal days. Obama’s campaign in 2008 was especially egregious in this regard. Since the early 1990s the party has been owned by Wall Street first and foremost. Even during Congresses when the party controlled both houses, the leaderships almost always found just enough Democratic votes to pass the financial industry’s highest priority legislation. They did this by playing a game descriptively called “Revolving Hero, Revolving Villain.” The so-called ‘identity politics’ the party has adopted over the past quarter century has been an attempt to find a glue that would hold together the legacy New Deal coalition that the party inherited in the late 20th century, but it hasn’t worked. At least not well enough to dominate the political scene as it did from the 1930s well into the 1970s.

  81. turcopolier says:

    ex-pfc chuck
    OK, the leftist faction in the Democratic Party. pl

  82. Babak Makkinejad says:

    He has thrown a few choice rhetorical words against Iran as bones to the Gulfies, Israelis, and Turks – and they are lapping it up; enormously pleased with themselves.
    His executive actions on immigration and Muslim ban are enormously popular with the US electorate.
    One can look at the soaring rhetoric of Obama in Cairo; what was that all about.
    Iranians must be secretly quite pleased with him as well, he has not done anything against Iran, unlike Obama who pirated 2 billion dollars of Iran funds, and he has already undercut West-friendly Iranians all over the world (including within Iran).
    The non-existent reaction from the Sunni World to Muslim Ban must be considered another bonus: “See, I told you. They (US, EU, Sunni Muslims) they all want to destroy us – no doubt about it. If we do not fight in Syria, we will be killed and our namus sold into slavery.”

  83. turcopolier says:

    You don’t want him impeached? Well then you should tell your lefty friends that. pl

  84. turcopolier says:

    By all reports Trump does not drink. pl

  85. BraveNewWorld says:

    I am way to the left and I know I can’t speak for every one you were addressing. But I would say, just because the left wing of the MSM is shovelling it, doesn’t mean that the people are actually buying it. I probably hit the skip button on Trump stories just as often as you do. Thanks to SST and other sites like it the bulk of people here know the MSM is full of it. Whether they are reporting on the left or the right.
    Please also keep in mind it has been a very long time since there was no brake on a political party in the US. I’m not quite sure how far back you have to go but I can’t remember any thing like it in my life time. That makes people far more nevous than they would be if say the Democrats held the senate. Having said that the Democratic leadership is still as tone deaf as can be.
    As for 2020. Who in their right mind would want to run in 2020? Both sides are going to try to destroy any one running on the other side. If not with the truth then with lies. Some thing Americans need to think about is how to make running for the job palatable again? Both sides failed that job in 2016.

  86. ann says:

    I agree with you, this was an important statement by Trump. And no one else, no one, ever says anything this important or honest about U.S. foreign policy. We can hope the average American recognizes his remark as important.
    He is a “shoot from the hip” kind of personality, so I don’t know if he was being courageous or just telling it like it is, consequences be damned in his comment to O’Reilly.

  87. turcopolier says:

    The objective was AQAP, not Houthi (northern tribesmen). To criticize the CinC of the US Armed forces for a botched 50 man raid is just inane. He should never have been asked his opinion. The operation should have been executed within the operating authorities of JSOC. I an sorry for the dead sailor , his comrades and his family but this was a minor incident in a long war. Was the raid a failure? That depends on what they got.

  88. turcopolier says:

    Trump told O’Reilly that Putin is a killer and that impresses you? Do you think he does not watch TV news? pl

  89. kooshy says:

    Yes that is correct, an Iranian friend who went to American community high school in Tehran, his father was head of Shah’s Air force and never been in Iran since 1978, graduate of Pen state, i saw his picture in LAX last weekend protesting Trump travel ban. That;s LA folks imagine how people Iran are welcoming this. For Iran this was manna from heaven. Ayatollah Khamenie said we should thank Mr. Trump.

  90. mike says:

    Colonel –
    The few old lefties I talk with subscribe to the theory that we now have a three party divide in Washington DC: Trump, Republicans and Democrats. There is currently a coalition between Trump and the Republicans. But how stable is that coalition?
    It is strong now because Trump is giving the right wing in Congress their dream cabinet. But how long will it last? He will cut them out in a heartbeat if they cross him. So why would we want him impeached? Trump at least promises Democratic values to his base, many of which are disaffected Democrats. For whether or not he means it or whether it was just a ploy to get elected, we will have to wait and see. In any case he is better than Pence. We are just hoping he does not get us in another war.
    By the way, Bernie is a lefty also.

  91. ann says:

    I thought Trump replied to O’Reilly, that we, meaning the U.S. has also killed people. That is not something addressed in media.
    Which I find an honest assessment by Trump.
    I think T.V. news is a poor source of knowledge especially for the decisions a President makes.
    And I appreciate the information on Trump not being known as a drinker. He does not look healthy to me, so I made a bad assumption.

  92. pl,
    Nobody cared that Trump agreed with O’Reilly calling Putin is a killer. What damned near everyone got excited about was Trump saying, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” I found it refreshingly candid.

  93. MRW says:

    Thanks, Colonel.
    When you write “The operation should have been executed within the operating authorities of JSOC,” do you mean that it wasn’t? Or did you mean “would have been?” Thx.

  94. ann,
    Trump doesn’t drink. His appearance may be due to long term use of a Propecia-like drug to prevent hair loss as well as suffering from long term rosacea. That probably accounts for his former use of that weird looking orange makeup. His present appearance is much improved from a year ago.

  95. MRW says:

    Autocorrect typo. Should read “extensive experience.” Autocorrect drives me nutz sometimes.

  96. MRW,
    The target was the head of AQAP. That should have been a pre-approved target for JSOC. I would also think entry into Yemen would be pre-approved as standing orders made under the Obama administration. The purpose of these pre-approvals would be to take advantage of fleeting opportunities. Maybe this wasn’t the case.

  97. kooshy says:

    IMO this is correct and a good analysis of DNC, the DNC’s turn to right circa 80s was due to DLC they effectively turned the DNC away from her traditional base, that just recently Trump won their support and got elected.

  98. kooshy says:

    I think Mr. Habakkuk has it right, Russia just like Zbig figured out strategically is more effective, easier and cheaper to be a Heartland eurasian country then european one. I believe Russian are finally accepting that they will never be considered a european country by the european barons.

  99. kooshy says:

    My Prediction is that there will be no significant relation between the Iran and America for next few generations. In meantime the US administrations will do everything they can to make the relation between the highly successful Iranian American community and Iran and Iranians in Iran as difficult as it can be. That
    has been the trajectory ever since the revolution.

  100. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The question is “Why Trump?” or “Blair ?” or “Sarkozy ?”
    Cannot these representative systems nurture and promote any one superior.
    Angela Merkel comes from the East Germany.

  101. eakens says:

    Russia needs Iran, as much as Iran needs Russia, and Syria needs Iran and Russia, and Russia and Iran need Syria. They are the proverbial tripod, and I think they all know it.

  102. Ingolf says:

    Excellent articles, David, particularly Karaganov’s. Thanks.

  103. Sam Peralta says:

    Gen. Barry McCaffery foaming at the mouth at the heretical statement of the truth by Trump.
    Retired US Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey slammed President Donald Trump’s defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, calling it “the most anti-American statement ever made by the president of the United States.”
    The Borg wants to hoodwink the American people every which way they can. Duplicity is their stock in trade. When President Trump speaks the truth about US actions, he is speaking the unspeakable. All this does is further solidifies his support among those that voted for him. They know what is going on in general. They know the doublespeak of McCain & Hillary and their ilk.

  104. Tim B. says:

    The media in this country isn’t leftist. It’s antipopulist. They hated Sanders and lied about him as much as they lied about Trump during the election. Now, they focus on Trump.
    This country needs to enact policies that help working people, not the 1% and Wall Street. Anyone who thought for one moment that Hillary was going to be different from Obama in enacting such policies wasn’t thinking clearly. Hillary was awful and Trump’s a con artist. I voted for Jill Stein, but if you held a gun to my head and made me chose between Trump and Hillary, I’d have voted Trump. So don’t think the left was entirely for Hillary. We weren’t.

  105. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    Very well said!
    The Democrats and their media mouthpieces are really making a fool of themselves. They are even losing folks who voted for the Borg Queen with their utter silliness. After going after Trump in every which way during the campaign and losing big time they should have changed their tactics. But no, the same losing game plan and making a big stink that the electoral college should change their vote to Hill because California gave her a huge margin. Should they learn from that? No.
    What I find fascinating is that there is no self-reflection on their part on why they continue to fail. On why they rigged their primary to select a loser candidate. On why under their Dear Leader they lost so many state houses and legislatures.
    They wont back someone who really gets what’s going on in America and the world but will back Ms. Warren (Ms. 3% Native American) who is just another shrill theatrical joke. Well, what happens when she goes down in flames in her senate re-election campaign.
    In my conversations with people I see even those that voted for Hillary getting tired of their antics. And the Trump voters like him even more because he comes across as fighting these pompous dolts that dominate news broadcasts.

  106. Sam Peralta says:

    Spot on.
    Trump’s response to Bill O’Reilly that we are not so innocent to the classic talking point of our Borg media that so & so is a thug, butcher, etc is in itself well worth the price of admission. The truth! And look how everyone is having conniptions. The truth is “unAmerican” according to esteemed Borgists like Barry McCaffery. What a hoot!!
    Those that voted for Trump love it that he’s driving these bozos absolutely insane.

  107. Old Microbiologist says:

    No question about the US being an existential threat. That probably applies to more than half the countries in the world. Trump has been a disappointment to me in not reversing the trend. But, a Ron Paul he is not. I wish he were but he is obviously not going to do anything to stop the American hegemonic drive.mon the other hand we are fighting in 7 countries and have 3 very large trouble spots (of our own making) with China, North Korea and Russia. Our military which has been very ineffective for the past 70 years, arguably because of political interference, cannot fight 3 major wars and Russia knows that. An alliance of Russia, China, and Iran would be an enormous problem. What I hope to see is a backing away from this insane buildup in the Baltics and to back away rapidly rom Ukraine. You also have Serbia cooking along and Romania as well. Big political changes are afoot and if France elects LePenn and Germany gets a populist in charge things will change rapidly. The American age is now over and when the world turns away from the dollar there is nothing to support the debt and our economy will collapse. The stupidest part of that is we caused this to happen. If you add in all the pissed off nations in central and South America you have a huge festering foreign policy debacle. Most countries realize fully that the US has become a monster and an out of control one at that. There was a lot of sympathy after 9/11 but it has been pissed away since through dumb ass wars and attempts to destabilize nations.

  108. raven says:

    How about, I want him to not do stuff that is impeachable.

  109. turcopolier says:

    You would prefer that he not be impeached? pl

  110. Vic says:

    If we want to play “wedge politics” to weaken rivals in the region, lets go for the biggest one. We could play off the Sunni against the Shia. It is already happening through proxies, but America largely ignores it.
    The heck with standing back and just watching, lets stoke that fire. War is good business. We can sell lots of expensive arms to each side (cooperate with the Russians in this). In return we can get cheap oil as they compete with each other to capture market share. We flood the region with weapons and they flood the world with oil.
    It probably will not break out into a direct conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s can’t fight to save their lives. Their military is an over payed over equipped joke that can not even beat Yemeni tribesmen on their own border. The Saudi’s as is their custom will hire mercenaries to do their killing for them. The Iranian military is a potential threat to the ayatollahs and is kept in a continuous state of incompetence. They will use co religious proxies.
    I have no problem with perpetual war in the middle east as long as America is NOT involved. Young American soldiers should not be doing what Arab men should be doing for themselves. Let them fight each other, we need to stay out! We have no vital national interest in the middle east.

  111. Eric Newhill says:

    Agreed. Very refreshing. It’s a businessman’s attitude as opposed to a moralizing phony politician.
    Most Americans like killers and they like winners. Our entertainment is all shoot ’em up all the time. The “Sapranos” was a popular HBO series. Americans were actually routing for a psychopathic mob boss. They even cheered for him in the episode wherein he killed his old friend and fellow mobster, who had become an informant “rat”. Americans cheered for Dillinger and Jesse James. They loved the “American Sniper”. It’s deep in our psyche. AS long as Putin isn’t killing us and it appears that the killing is to bring about law, order, and justice – “frontier” as it might be – most Americans don’t care. In fact they respect the will to “get things done” no matter what it takes.
    A lot of media and pols just don’t get it and are stuck up on some high horse preaching down like a bunch of annoying school marms. Worse, they’re cynical and hypocritical about it. With one short sentence (lot of killers), Trump exposed all of that to the light of day and connected to the American psyche.

  112. kooshy says:

    IMO this a good summery analysis of the current game plan between Iran and Trump administration’ Iran policy.
    Trump Plays Cat and Mouse with Iran

  113. Swerv21 says:

    Hear hear! I talk to my more liberal coastal friends about this all the time and they still don’t get it. They will keep losing until they do.

  114. David,
    Your comments are, as usual, well-stated. I’d like to contribute a few points from my perspective as an observer of the events and developments of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama period. It seems to me that, prior to the Sochi Olympics and the coup d’état in Kiev, Russia was moving steadily toward economic integration with the nations of the E.U. Not through membership (yet), but as a result of increasing business and cultural ties. It also occurs to me that such developments would have been anathema to the proponents of American hegemony, hence the support of the Maidan movement and the coup. At that point, in 2014, Russia probably came to the conclusion that the encirclement by NATO and probability that Ukraine, along with The Crimea and the navy base at Sevastopol, would be pulled into the NATO alliance would be a strategic disaster. Events since have supported the notion that the U.S. has never intended to allow Russia to move, even informally, into a close relationship with Europe and Russia has re-oriented her strategic goals. As you wrote, a long term sea-change.

  115. Kooshy says:

    “Let them fight each other, we need to stay out! We have no vital national interest in the middle east.”
    Really? Not even Israel, if so why then let them fight each other, since US has no vital interests there she should leave, may be if you leave they wouldn’t or stop fighting each other. Did you think about that. This is not serious plan, rather laughable.

  116. Thomas says:

    In statecraft there is always a back channel, whether it is used properly or not is a reflection on the civil authority at the time.

  117. Dr. Puck says:

    The “Clash of Civilizations” boiled down to a Manichean duel strikes me as ‘neoconism’ taken to its inevitable utopian, and eliminativist, conclusion.
    I’m reminded it is only for the hardiest researcher to go down any of the several rabbit holes that are fundamentally wed to ‘winner takes all’ moral dualism. This includes the prophetic, end times, masonic, alien conspiracy, neomonarchist, or, alt-right, expressions of this brand of moralism–via blogs, and youtube.
    Have any of these gained a handhold in the executive branch?

  118. MRW says:

    In fact they respect the will to “get things done” no matter what it takes.
    You’re right. Long history of that. The term “outlaw” (as devised in the 1800s…could have been earlier, but I don’t think so) meant someone acting outside the laws of the country (‘country of laws’) that Americans had agreed as a society to accept as the social contract of its citizenry. You were free to do it, but it meant you accepted the consequences. And no citizen could be charged for dispensing with one. To keep the guy alive in order to receive justice at the hands of the lawman or lawmen pursuing him, they offered rewards.

  119. Keith Harbaugh says:

    TTG, I agree with you. In (hopeful) support,
    it might be of interest to compare
    the rationale for the U.S. commitment to the defense of West Germany during the Cold War
    to that, such as it is,
    for the U.S. to commit to freezing status quo boundaries of the countries on Russia’s border.
    In the 1970s, after its involvement in Vietnam,
    the U.S. Army was heavily focused on enabling V Corps to defend the Fulda Gap from a hypothetical assault by the tank armies of the GSFG.
    This was not considered to be an easy task; the threat was considered formidable.
    Why did the U.S. make such an expensive commitment to the defense of West Germany?
    The reason that was given to me (I forget exactly how) was that
    if the USSR gained control over West Germany,
    it would mean that the genius (hard to deny) of the German people in science, technology, and industry would or could be put to use against the U.S.
    I.e., we wanted the West Germans as our allies, not our enemies, because of their war-fighting and war-supporting abilities.
    The thought of George Orwell’s “Eurasia” (in his 1984) being realized sent shivers down the spines of U.S. geopolitical strategists.
    Okay, so why on earth is the U.S. extending the same commitments to the various nations having a border contiguous to Russia
    as it made to the West Germans?
    The geopolitical significance just is nowhere near the same.
    It seems shocking, and tragic, to me that
    the current media/academic/“think tank” “elite” has been totally unwilling to publicize this distinction.
    Quite the opposite.
    Take a look at the rationale that at least one opinion leader, Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, offers:

    If [Trump] betrays what has been solid Western support for Ukraine,
    NATO leaders, starting with Germany’s Angela Merkel,
    will be undermined and offended.

    Too bad! That’s an extremely weak rationale for preventing better U.S./Russia relations, in my opinion.

  120. Thirdeye says:

    That jumped out at me too. I wonder how much of that has to do with anticipated use of Tu-22 M3 heavy bombers over Syria for the foreseeable future or maybe a signal of vital interest in Iran.

  121. Thirdeye says:

    IMO the Democrats’ embrace of identity politics to replace labor politics in the 1970s was what blew up the New Deal coalition. The Democrats are going to keep sinking until the limo libs get booted.

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