Putin Wins Big


Blundering Into Iran Time to tell Israel and Saudi Arabia to fight their own wars

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The deluge of recent reporting regarding possible conflict with nuclear armed North Korea has somewhat obscured consideration of the much higher probability that Israel or even Saudi Arabia will take steps that will lead to a war with Iran that will inevitably draw the United States in. Israel is particularly inclined to move aggressively, with potentially serious consequences for the U.S., in the wake of the recent incident involving an alleged Iranian drone and the shooting down of an Israeli aircraft. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been repeatedly warning about the alleged threat along his northern border and has pledged that Israel will not be in any way restrained if there are any hostile moves directed against it. The Israeli Transportation Minister Ysrael Katz has warned that Lebanon will be blasted back into the “stone age.”

There is also considerable anti-Iran rhetoric currently coming from sources in the United States, which might well be designed to prepare the American people for a transition from a cold war type situation to a new hot war involving U.S. forces. The growing hostility towards Iran is coming out of both the Donald Trump Administration and from the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is warning that the “time to act is now” to thwart Iran’s allegedly aggressive regional ambitions while U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley sees a “wake-up” call in the recent shooting incident involving Syria and Israel. The hostility emanating from Washington is increasing in spite of the fact that the developments in the region have little or no impact on vital U.S. national interests, nor is Iran anything like an existential threat to the United States that would mandate sustained military action.

Iran’s alleged desire to stitch together a sphere of influence consisting of an arc of allied nations and proxy forces running from its western borders to the Mediterranean Sea has been frequently cited as justification for a more assertive policy against Tehran, but that concern is certainly greatly exaggerated. Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, is, to be sure, a major regional power but militarily, economically and politically it is highly vulnerable. Its economy is struggling and there is a small but growing protest movement regarding the choices being made for government spending.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is well armed and trained, but much of its “boots on the ground” force consists of militiamen of variable quality. Its Air Force is a “shadow”of what existed under the Shah and is significantly outgunned by its rivals in the Persian Gulf, not to mention Israel. Its navy is only “green water” capable in that it consists largely of smaller vessels responsible for coastal defense supplemented by swarms of Revolutionary Guard speedboats.

When Napoleon had conquered much of continental Europe and was contemplating invading Britain in 1804 it was widely believed that England was helpless before him. But Admiral Earl St Vincent was nonplussed. He said at the time: “I do not say the French can’t come, I only say they can’t come by sea.” In a similar fashion, Iran’s apparent threat to its neighbors is in reality decisively limited by its inability to project power across the water or through the air against other states in the region that have marked superiority in both respects.

And the concern over a possibly developing “Shi’ite land bridge,” also referred to as an “arc” or “crescent,” is likewise overstated for political reasons to make the threat more credible. It ignores the reality that Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all have strong national identities and religiously mixed populations. They are influenced and sometimes more than that by Iran, but they are not puppet states and never will be. Even Lebanon’s Hezbollah, often cited as Iran’s fifth column in that country, is not considered a reliable proxy.

Majority Shi’a Iraq, for example, is generally considered to be very friendly to Iran but it has to deal with considerable Kurdish and Sunni minorities in its governance and in the direction of its foreign policy. It will not do Iran’s bidding on a number of key issues, including its relationship with Washington, and would be unwilling to become a proxy in Tehran’s conflicts with Israel and Saudi Arabia as such a move would be extremely unpopular. Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, the highest-ranking Sunni in the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi government, has, for example, recently called for the demobilization of the Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces or militias that have been fighting ISIS because they “have their own political aspirations, their own [political] agendas. … They are very dangerous to the future of Iraq.”

A seemingly legitimate major concern driving much of the perception of an Iranian threat is the possibility that Tehran will develop a nuclear weapon somewhere down the road. Such a development is quite plausible if only from a defensive point of view as Iran has been repeatedly threatened by nuclear armed Israel and the United States, but the current Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provides the best response to the possible proliferation problem. The U.N. inspections regime is rigorous and Iran is reported to be in compliance with the agreement. If the plan survives the attacks by the White House, there is every reason to believe that Iran will be unable to take the necessary precursor steps leading to a nuclear weapons program while the inspections continue. And it will be further limited in its options after the agreement expires in nine years because it will not be able to accumulate the necessary highly enriched uranium stocks to proceed if it should ever make the political and economic decisions to go ahead with such a program.

The recent incident involving the shoot-down of a drone alleged to be of Iranian provenance followed by the downing of an Israeli fighter by a Syrian air defense missile resulted in a sharp response from Tel Aviv, though reportedly mitigated by a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that anything more provocative might inadvertently involve Russia in the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accordingly moderated his response but his government is clearly contemplating a more robust intervention to counter what he calls a developing Iranian presence in Syria. It is important to recall that Netanyahu’s prime objective in Syria and Lebanon is to have both nations in turmoil so they cannot threaten Israel. With that in mind, it is wise to be skeptical about Israeli claims regarding Iranian intentions to build bases and construct missiles in Syria. Those claims made by Israel’s Mossad have not been confirmed by any western intelligence service, not even by America’s totally corrupted and subservient CIA.

Netanyahu is also facing a trial on corruption charges and it would not be wildly off target to suggest that he might welcome a small war to change the narrative, just as Bill Clinton did when he launched cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan to deflect congressional and media criticism of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Unfortunately, if Netanyahu does wind up being charged and going to prison his successor will likely be even more hardline.

It must be understood that the mounting Iran hysteria evident in the U.S. media and as reflected in Beltway groupthink has largely been generated by allies in the region, most notably Saudi Arabia and Israel, who nurture their own aspirations for regional political and military supremacy. There are no actual American vital interests at stake and it is past time to pause and take a step backwards to consider what those interests actually are in a region that has seen nothing but U.S. missteps since 2003. Countering an assumed Iranian threat that is no threat at all and triggering a catastrophic war would be a major mistake that would lead to a breakdown in the current political alignment of the entire Middle East. And it would be costly for the United States. Iran is not militarily formidable, but its ability to fight on the defensive against U.S. Naval and air forces is likely to be considerable, producing high casualty levels on both sides. How would the U.S. public respond if an aircraft carrier were to be sunk by a barrage of Iranian shore-to-ship missiles? And Tehran would also be able to unleash terrorist resources throughout the region, particularly endangering U.S. military and diplomats based there as well as American travelers and businesses. The terror threat might easily extend beyond the Middle East, into Europe and also within the United States while the dollar costs of a major new conflict and its aftermath could also break the bank, literally. Promoting a robust U.S. role in “regime change” for Iran as a viable military option to support objectives largely fabricated by allies would be a phony war fought for bad reasons. It is not commensurate with the threat that the Mullahs actually pose, which is minimal, and is just not worth the price either in dollars or lives.

[This article is an edited and expanded version of a memorandum that I prepared for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity which has been released separately on Consortium News]

Britain Officially Prepares Now for War Against Russia

By Eric Zuesse
Global Research, February 26, 2018

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On Wednesday, February 21st, the UK’s Minister of Defence, Conservative Gavin Williamson, announced that the United Kingdom is changing its fundamental defence strategy from one that’s targeted against non-state terrorists (Al Qaeda, etc.), to one that’s targeted instead against three countries: Russia, China, and North Korea. He acknowledged that a massive increase in military spending will be needed for this, and that “savings” will have to be found in other areas of Government-spending, such as the health services, and in military spending against terrorism.

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The headline in the London Times on February 22nd was “Russia ‘is a bigger threat to our security than terrorists’”. Their Defence Editor, Deborah Haynes. reported:

The threat to Britain from states such as Russia and North Korea is greater than that posed by terrorism, the defence secretary said yesterday, marking a significant shift in security policy.

Gavin Williamson suggested to MPs that more money and a change in the structure of the armed forces would be needed as part of a defence review to meet the challenge of a state-on-state conflict, something that Britain has not had to consider for a generation. …

It is a departure from the national security strategy published in 2015, which listed international terrorism first, and chimes with a decision by the United States last month to declare “strategic competition” from countries such as China and Russia as its top focus instead of counterterrorism. …

He described the Kremlin’s “increased assertiveness”, such as a ten-fold increase in submarine activity in the North Atlantic, a growing Russian presence in the Mediterranean region and their involvement in the war in Syria. “But then you are seeing new nations that are starting to play a greater role in the world, such as China. …

Asked whether Mr Williamson accepted that this would have a knock-on effect for how Britain’s military was structured and its readiness for war, “Yes it does,” Mr Williamson replied.

Just as happened when UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair made his country the U.S. President George W. Bush’s lap-dog in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes her country U.S. President Donald Trump’s lap-dog now in the invasions to come, of North Korea, Russia, and China.

The press in the U.S. and its allied countries (such as UK) might have a difficult time persuading their populations that expanding military expenditures in order to conquer Russia, China, North Korea, and — as U.S. President Trump wants also to include — Iran (but he’ll probably use America’s ally Israel for that part of the operation), could be difficult, because, for example, on the same day, February 22nd, Gallup reported that by a margin of 59% to 37%, Americans disapprove of Trump on the issue of “Relations with Russia,” and back on 23 March 2017, Public Integrity headlined “The public favors cutting defense spending, not adding billions more, new survey finds” and reported:

President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 isn’t following public sentiment, a new survey finds.

The survey, by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), found that while Trump has proposed a $54 billion boost to federal spending for the military, a majority of Americans prefer a cut of $41 billion. While Trump has proposed a $2.8 billion increase for homeland security, a majority of Americans favor a $2 billion cut. …

Trump’s proposals were at odds with the preferences of both Republicans and Democrats. …

A majority of GOP respondents said they wished to keep the so-called “base” or main defense budget at the current level, although they favored cutting $5 billion in spending from a budget for “overseas contingency operations,” specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq. …

Those results, in turn, were strikingly similar to the conclusions of a 2012 survey by the Center for Public Integrity, PPC, and the Stimson Center, a nonprofit policy study group in Washington, D.C. When respondents were asked in that survey what they would do with Obama’s base defense budget, the majority favored cutting it by at least $65 billion, from $562 billion down to $497 billion. …

The situation is likely to be even more difficult in UK, where according to Gallup’s polling in 2017, as reported in their “Rating World Leaders: 2018”, residents in UK who were asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?” answered 63% “Disapprove,” and 33% “Approve,” and the net approval (-30%) had declined 26% from the prior President Obama’s rating (-4%), in 2016. 

Consequently, in order for the leaders to do this, there will need to be a total divorce from even the claim of being ‘democracies’, because, on such a momentous decision as to whether or not there should be a Third World War (and if so, whether Iran should be a target in it), going against the overwhelming public opinion wouldn’t be possible except in what is effectively a dictatorship (such as the U.S. has been scientifically proven to be). So: actually achieving this will be a stretch, but at least in the United States — a proven dictatorship — it’s possible.

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Whereas the press, both in the U.S. and UK, willingly pumped the lies of the Government, that according to the IAEA Saddam Hussein was only six months away from having nuclear weapons, they might not do it this time against actual nuclearly armed nations, because there probably aren’t yet, and won’t soon be, enough billionaires’ bunkers deep underground — such as here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here — to protect them from even the nuclear blasts, much less anything at all to protect anyone at all from the resulting nuclear winter and global famine. So, perhaps, greed will finally meet its limit: sheer self-preservation. It’s one thing when a foreign country, such as Iraq — or Libya, or Syria, or Yemen — is destroyed, but quite another matter when the world itself will be. The degree of insanity that the military-industrial complex is now assuming to exist amongst the general public, might simply not be there, at all. Finally, Western governments’ weapons-manufacturing firms might need to face the steep declines in their stock-values that all of them so richly deserve, and that’s been held off already for decades too long — since at least 1991, when the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance all ended, and all that’s left available as bogeymen who must be killed in order to ‘save the world’, is: Russia, China, North Korea — and maybe (if the Sauds and Israel are to have their way), Iran.

It’s not yet clear just when — if ever — the ‘democratic’ countries in The West (the U.S. and its allies, the billionaires there) will reach the limit of their imperial greed. But if the world is their limit, then there is no limit at all, because the world itself will end, before this limit is reached. And, now, it’s not only Donald Trump who is leading the way there, but Theresa May has joined his luxurious march, toward global oblivion.


The Debate – Situation in Syria(THEY BLAME RUSSIA AND IRAN MUST SEE)There is uproar over Syria’s attacks on Eastern Ghouta. Al-Qaeda linked terrorists that currently control that region have refused to come to a deal with the gov’t over allowing in aid & medical evacuations, while in fact blocking civilians from leaving the area altogether. Added to the above, these very terrorists continue to attack Damascus & its surrounding areas, as they have for so long. Yet, there is no balanced conversation about this at the UN, which puts all blame on Syria, Russia while giving terrorists & their supporters carte blanche. Join me Waqar Rizvi, as we discuss Eastern Ghouta tonight.