Links 1/5/2020

A message to Australian Prime Minister Morison:

I spent New Year’s trapped by Australian bushfires that looked like a scene from a warzone Business Insider. Photo essay, takes time for page to build.

Stunning photograph shows bushfire smoke turning the Australian sky into a re-creation of the Aboriginal flag Daily Mail (CL).

On Fires in Australia Ecological Rants (Sub-Boreal).

Forecasted attribution of the human influence on Hurricane Florence Science

Turkish jet company blames rogue employee for Ghosn escape FT

Weekly Economic Release Summary: What Is Consumer Confidence Saying About The Economy In 2020 Econintersect

New York offered to pay part of Amazon workers’ salaries in early HQ2 bid Engadget (KW).

Brexit

Brexit: Johnson to open trade talks with Ursula von der Leyen Guardian

Nigel Farage is planning to host a £100,000 Brexit Celebration Party in Parliament Square to mark the UK’s exit from the EU Daily Mail

Divorces could earn billions for Britain after Brexit The Times

Syraqistan

Far too much noise, far too little signal. Events:

Trump says 52 targets already lined up if Iran retaliates AP

The latest: Iran tweets response to Trump’s threats to target cultural sites Axios

Iraq’s parliament may be about to do President Trump a big fat favor The Atlantic Council

U.S. Official Central to Hawkish Iran Policies Departs NSC Bloomberg. Note the last paragraph.

* * *

Trump’s role:

U.S. Killing of Soleimani Leaves Trump ‘Totally Unpredictable’ Bloomberg. Bringing “not agreement-capable” to new heights.

As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure NYT (Furzy Mouse). “They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.” Dear Lord. “Order anything on the menu. No, not that!

Trump has considered killing Iran’s Soleimani since last summer, sources say McClatchy

Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior Thomas Friedman, NYT. The Moustache of Understanding weighs in.

Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington’s Most Vile Cabal Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

Mar-a-Lago Guests and Israel Had More Prior Knowledge of Strike on Soleimani Than Democratic Leaders Rolling Stone

* * *

Analysis and prediction:

Suleimani’s assassination and the muddled moralism behind it Robert Wright

Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani Craig Murray

Israelis quietly hail Soleimani killing as they brace for retaliation WaPo. I don’t know how quiet the hailing is, when it’s done from WaPo’s front page.

Iranian Revenge Will Be A Dish Best Served Cold Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

How to Avoid Another War in the Middle East Foreign Affairs

Joe Kent: To prevent US-Iran war, we must withdraw from Iraq FOX (!).

How the Pentagon Was Duped by Contractors Using Shell Companies Bloomberg

China?

China replaces top Hong Kong envoy after months of unrest Deutsche Welle

China’s sovereign currency ‘progressing well’, central bank says, but there’s still no launch date South China Morning Post

Novel human virus? Pneumonia cases linked to seafood market in China stir concern Science

The Mekong Delta: an unsettling portrait of coastal collapse FT

India

Retrieving Our Country The Baffler

New Cold War

We Don’t Have Another Europe and We Don’t Have Another Russia Valdai Disciussion Club

Trump’s Push For Lofty Nuclear Treaty Sparks Worry Over Current Deal NPR

Does Russia Really Have Hypersonic Weapons That Are ‘Operational’? The National Interest

2020

Crowded Democratic presidential field sprints toward ‘jump ball’ in crucial Iowa caucuses WaPo

When will Bernie Sanders get the scrutiny that top-tier candidates deserve? Jennifer Rubin, WaPo

Warren announces support for new North American trade pact The Hill. Does anybody know what “lane” Warren is in? I sure don’t.

‘Trump Money’ Is Buying Silence as Unprecedented Payments Go to Farmers Rolling Stone (WC).

Our Famously Free Press

Dribs and drabs of fake news can turn entire society against authority Straits Times. From Singapore.

Violence at Parchman, other Mississippi prisons: What we know Clarion-Ledger

Class Warfare

Lands’ End sued by Delta Air Lines employees who claim uniforms cause health problems Wisconsin State Journal

‘School Lunch Fairy’ Pays off Student Meal Debts in Vt. City NECN. “That anonymous donor is now challenging people in other districts to stand up and do whatever they can to combat hunger or food insecurity where they live.” Reinforcing the important life lesson that schoolchildren eat only when they take on the risk of becoming debt slaves. Such is “charity.”

The Names of 1.8 Million Emancipated Slaves Are Now Searchable in the World’s Largest Genealogical Database, Helping African Americans Find Lost Ancestors Open Culture. Big boost for ADOS.

The Two Myths of the Internet Wired (TH).

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

I have been an otter fan ever since I read Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water as a child (remembering that otters are wild animals, possibly companions, certainly not pets).

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

269 comments

    1. Ramon Zarate

      If Soleimani is the dumbest man in Iran and their most overrated strategist I would say the US is in trouble. they were losing before they murdered him and now he will be replaced by someone less dumb, is that the take away from this article ?

      Reply
      1. richard

        boom, drop mike
        also, good lord tom, did you just blame the iranians for trump tearing up the treaty?
        i think you did
        also “we must never that it is the dysfunction of many Sunni Arab regimes – their lack of freedom, modern education and women’s empowerment – that make them so weak that Iran was able to take them over with proxies”
        if you cross out everything in that sentence beginning with the word “Iran” and replace it with “the U.S. sees them as ideal criminal partners in jacking resources” the whole thing makes a lot more sense

        Reply
        1. richard

          oops, my Friedman quote left out the word “forget”, as in “never forget”
          as in i can never forget Thomas Friedman, because he refuses to go away

          Reply
    2. Jeff

      I’m glad I skimmed that piece all the way to the end (I can’t stand Friedman’s prose) to see the “smoke over New Zealand” conclusion. Classic.

      Reply
    3. Plenue

      I’m going to link to this West Point piece again:

      https://ctc.usma.edu/qassem-soleimani-irans-unique-regional-strategy/

      “In recent years, Iran has projected its power across the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. One of the keys to its success has been a unique strategy of blending militant and state power, built in part on the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The acknowledged principal architect of this policy is Major General Qassem Soleimani, the long-serving head of Iran’s Quds (“Jerusalem”) Force. Without question, Soleimani is the most powerful general in the Middle East today; he is also one of Iran’s most popular living people, and has been repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate.”

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Empire of Laughter and Forgetting.

        In the 1980’s Saddam was our BFF, we armed him to the teeth (maximum ka-ching $$$) as he battled Iran. Estimated 1M dead. But that was pretty cool, we had a guy fighting Iran for us.

        Then: problem problem, Saddam got uppity. 9/11 gave the great excuse to go smash the place up, but apparently nobody thought for 1.5 seconds about who might step in afterwards and fill the resulting vacuum. Surprise surprise: it was Tehran.

        So the Cheney Administration neocon strategy is explicitly responsible for both the greatly expanded macro and micro levels of Iranian success and influence in the region. Got it. Too bad nobody else does.

        Reply
        1. JohnnySacks

          The long term outcome with regards to our presence and influence in the Iraq and Afghanistan is not going to change, the only remaining question is the number of people killed before it happens.

          Reply
    4. D. Fuller

      Trump’s policies – if you can call them that – have failed. Manufacturing isn’t coming back. Tax “cuts” are not except for the few. Republicans turn out to be the biggest dependents on Federal money, even greater than Democratic States. Easy trade wars are not. North Korea still possesses nukes.

      About the only victories Trump has include a Supreme Court pick and stacking the Federal judiciary with incompetent judges. That and he’ll probably win 2020 thanks to Democratic strategists who are Centrists. Most Republicans don’t like Trump. They do like what he has done with the judiciary. A judiciary that can now Constitutionally block Democratic legislation at the State and Federal level.

      Perhaps the most overlooked reason for the strike on Soleimani? Elections are coming.

      Friedman does a wonderful job of mixing fact with delusion, to present a story. If Iran had no allies and no friends? Friedman would be more correct. Instead? He is less correct and more delusional.

      “…their lack of freedom…”, Friedman writes about Sunnis. The hate us for our freedoms… therefore we must drop more bombs.

      Trump and neoliberals of both parties will be dining on caviar while sipping champagne. Meanwhile, Johnny and Jane American from places like Kansas or California or Texas or New York? They’ll be paying for that caviar and champagne as their bodies are returned in caskets. Mommy and Daddy will be burying their children, to pay for American Imperialism. Close casket funerals. Bodies burnt to a crisp.

      It is always that way.

      Reply
  1. Synoia

    It appears Trump’s ME policies are influenced greatly by the potential contribution from supporters of Israel. Which infers Israel’s interests are running the US’ ME policy.

    AKA follow the potential money.

    One suspects Trump plans to leave office with a large positive balance in his presidential election find, as well as later quid pro quo payments, similar to a certain 14 Million dollar ex president’s home.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Dean Baker has hinted that insider trading may have occurred just prior to the assassination. Perhaps this can be pursued and Trump can be imprisoned, for this, at least.

      Separately, Israel had Soleimani in its crosshairs for years but was warned that murdering Soleimani would be too incendiary.

      https://www.geopolitica.ru/en/article/trumps-iran-war-begins

      Also, separately, if Pentagon officials were so “flabbergasted” that Trump chose their most “improbable” option, yet nonetheless complied, what does that say about their willingness to use nukes?

      Reply
      1. Adam Eran

        “Insider trading” hardly covers it. Any time our petroleum overlords want an increase in the price of oil, stirring up some trouble in the Middle East seems to do the trick.

        Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My guess its closer to covering their own butts. They see the reaction and are simply panicking.

        “We didn’t know the President would do the asinine thing we told him to do. Lets not play the blame game.” -the moral cowards at the Pentagon.

        They got caught and are blaming everyone else. Their names should be known. Companies that might hire them for their expertise should be boycotted.

        Its the same outfit of Shinseki who famously whined about how he was lied to by his underlings when he was head of the VA despite the job being an inspection job. He was too lazy to do his job and was more focused on the spectacle. He was the bum who decided every soldier should wear berets.

        Reply
        1. Sol

          “Sure, we came up with the plan and, yes, we swiftly put the plan into action, and yet let me assure you, we are as shocked and baffled as everyone else!”

          Yes, one wonders if they thought this through.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          Their names should be known.

          I agree, but I doubt they ever will be. I think the experience of Wolfowitz and Feith has taught the neocons that it is not profitable to be publicized as a “leader.”

          Reply
        3. FriarTuck

          When I entered the working world, I quickly learned to never propose an option that you can’t live with.

          If you EVER propose an option that you think is “just for show” – ie something to try to make other options look better, you better be prepared for your supervisor to pick that option. Because they will.

          Reply
    2. anon in so cal

      It’s been reported on Twitter that Trump informed Israel before he informed the US Congress.

      Separately, to corroborate someone’s speculation yesterday on this blog that General Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission and was to participate in a meeting in Iraq, there is this:

      “We have learned today from #Iraq Prime Minister AdilAbdl Mahdi how
      @realDonaldTrump uses diplomacy:
      #US asked #Iraq to mediate with #Iran. Iraq PM asks #QassemSoleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer of his mediation, Trump &co assassinate an envoy at the airport.”

      https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213833855754485762?s=20

      “”UNBELIEVABLE! Trump killed Soleimani as he was about to meet the Iraqi PM for mediation:

      “I was supposed to meet Soleimani at the morning the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran” Iraqi PM said.”

      https://twitter.com/tparsi/status/1213842536760041472?s=20

      Reply
  2. bwilli123

    On the recent mis-steps of the Australian prime Minister.

    “Morrison’s political authority has fallen away more quickly than anyone could have imagined even a fortnight ago, and is unlikely ever to be quite the same again. The giant-killer and performer of miracles of May 2019 is no more. Instead, we have a prime minister whose inability to respond to the bushfire crisis has resulted in widespread national loathing, international ridicule and sharp questions about his capacity for national leadership.”

    https://insidestory.org.au/the-summer-that-scott-morrisons-leadership-broke/

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Morrison really has been shockingly inept in handling this. Don’t take a vacation while your country is burning down (and that was just the start. He somehow worked his way down even lower from that already low point). This should have been stupidly easy, ‘smile and kiss babies for the camera’ type stuff. This is seriously not hard. It’s PR 101 stuff.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        People in New Zealand two thousand kilometers away were ringing the emergency phone line yesterday as the skies were turning orange. Turns out to be the smoke blowing across to there from the bushfires here-

        https://www.sbs.com.au/news/spike-in-emergency-calls-to-nz-police-as-australian-bushfire-smoke-blankets-auckland

        Hasn’t stopped them from sending New Zealand firefighters, troops and military gear over here to help fight the fires. We owe them a debt too-

        https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/06/new-zealand-sends-troops-to-help-with-australian-bushfires-as-pacific-nations-offer-support

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “Does Russia Really Have Hypersonic Weapons That Are ‘Operational’?”

    Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Hey – I have an idea. Let’s attack Moscow and find out.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      I’ll save you the trouble… they do. And likely lots more, along the 3/1/18 speech. Those whose business it is to know, do know.

      Reply
    2. John

      It certainly was casting doubt, blowing smoke, stroking its chin, and seeming wise, but it was based on nothing. Is there a reason that this piece and its many predecessors from many sources are supposed to be believable?

      Reply
      1. jsn

        There is always money and media for the empire’s narrative, or to kick dust over competing ones.

        This is probably the only reliable job left in the MSM.

        Reply
  4. DFTBS

    With regards to all the speculation on Iran’s preferred mode of “revenge”. I would expect the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons post-haste. Such a move will give the dual benefit of obliterating the US/IS strategic position; as well as preventing US escalation following Iran’s retaliation for the assassination.

    That US “strategists” and propagandists (one and the same?) will likely read the preparatory lull as a sign of Iranian weakness and heap praise on Trump. Shows how degraded US strategic thought is.

    For Americans, the worst outcome of successful Iranian retaliation isn’t the death of US personnel abroad. But the impact this will have on the home front. I don’t adhere to “petro-dollar” theory. But neutered US military capability will hasten the fall of the US central bank propped “sanction-dollar”. Without force to direct global capital flows back to US; we have less than piles of green paper, we just have bits and digits in computers.

    Reply
    1. timbers

      I don’t agree with the many saying Iran has lots of options. Any conventional response by Iran can be met a thousand fold by the US. Iran’s biggest blunder by far was NOT acquiring nuclear weapons & systems to deliver them. It’s 2nd biggest blunder was not getting nuclear weapons ASAP. It’s 3rd biggest blunder is still not having nuclear weapons. Let’s hope for the sake of peace Iran doesn’t make a 4th blunder. Immediately, Iran should request nuclear umbrella protection from Russia. She won’t do it but it’s worth a try. It’s been obvious for decades now those running out govt in Washington will stop at nothing, NOTHING, to do whatever they want. Anyone not army themselves is making a big mistake.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        NK bought nukes ‘off the shelf’ and it wasn’t as if they could afford them, unlike say Iran.

        I’d guess they have a large enough arsenal already, but how to best deploy w/o being destroyed?

        Reply
      2. DFTBS

        Agreed, I do think they’ll remedy their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd blunders in that order. It’s the only thing they can do, in light of Trump regime’s desire for escalation.

        Reply
      3. voteforno6

        What options does the U.S. have? It’s questionable that the U.S. has the capability to engage in a sustained conflict with Iran. Air strikes? What is the state of Iran’s air defense systems? If they’ve purchased systems from Russia, they might be in much better shape than, say, Iraq was in 2003. Also, if the U.S. escalated significantly, how would other countries in the region respond?

        It seems like both countries may be boxed in here. We’ll probably see both countries engage in tit-for-tat, because that’s all they have the capability to do.

        Reply
        1. Dftbs

          It seems to me that for better or worse the US has all the options. Whereas Iran is extremely limited.

          In conflict you need to deny your enemy their goals. Through its actions the US has demonstrated that it’s goal is to escalate the situation to a war. This may cost the US in lives and treasure. But when I’m recent history has that determined or limited US actions.

          Anything Iran does, even actions taken in its name will allow US to start a war. It has to wait until it can deter the US in order to take action.

          Reply
          1. John k

            Iran will set all saudi oil fields on fire if attacked, plus maybe Kuwait’s and Emirates. Nothing like the Yemeni pin pricks. Plus maybe blocking the straits by other means. We of course will not touch Iran’s or Iraq’s, but war will anyway stop all gulf exports.
            The loss of so much oil exports will bring new record prices, maybe 300, good for the oil patches eg russia but tanking most economies. And the price pulse will be immediate… recession will not help trumps reelection. And trump will own it.
            OTOH, such a massive miscalculation will help the dems…
            And war with Iran will not be the short thing we did with Iraq.

            Reply
          2. Bill Carson

            It seems to me that Iran has felt that its back was against the wall for some time, and has been trying to goad the Trump and the U.S. into attempting an invasion. Ultimately, the U.S. would achieve financial ruin, and Iran would survive. It might be the best option for long-term “peace” in the Middle East, the end of American hegemony, and neoliberalism. I’m finding it very hard to keep my schadenfreude in check here.

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              Really? The Iranian government has been “trying to goad the Trump and the US into an invasion?” Which would be preceded by Shock and Awe on a Brobdingnagian scale, very possibly including those “dial-a-yield” nukes that have made nuking a much more attractive Option for the Battlespace Managers in their swivel ergonomic chairs… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B61_nuclear_bomb

              Sure does not seem to me that the Iranians are like the drunken dopes in the bars that dare the thug to take the first swing…

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                The trouble is, Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz. Even a short interruption in Persian Gulf oil deliveries will cause a major disruption in the world economy.
                Though somewhat different, the actions of a Turkish naval officer in mining the Straits of the Dardanelles during WW-1 helped scuttle the Allied master plan against Turkey. The result was a deadly stalemate that was eventually given up by the Allies. Turkey stayed in the War until the end. Thus, a junior officer saved the Ottoman Empire during early World War One. Similar junior officers can do the same for Iran at the Strait of Hormuz. Plus, mines are a lot more sophisticated today. Closing the Strait of Hormuz would be pure asymmetrical warfare.
                See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_operations_in_the_Dardanelles_campaign

                Reply
                1. Roland

                  Closing Hormuz hurts neutrals much more than USA. What good does it do Iran to hurt China, Japan, or Korea?

                  If anything, that would line the developed countries behind USA “for world stability,” even if they all thought USA was to blame.

                  BTW although the Ottoman Empire fought much better than their opponents expected, the Great War was an unmitigated and irretrievable catastrophe for the Turks, and for all their subject peoples. Do you really think an Iranian today would find much solace in that example?

                  Reply
                  1. ambrit

                    Yes. Simply because it was, and still is an example of a ‘patriot’ doing something useful for the Homeland. Do not underestimate the power of genuine patriotism.
                    Also, how does the Ottoman Empire equate with the Turks as a people? One was a tottering jumble of decadent elites, while the other became a vibrant nation. A literate and well read Iranian would see such an eventuality as a means to a revival.

                    Reply
              2. Bill Carson

                Three examples that Iran has been trying to lure the USA in: the shooting down the drone in June; Iran attacking two oil tankers in June; and attack on Saudi Arabian oil refineries in September. Now, any or all of these might have been false flag operations, but they also might not have been.

                America can bomb Iran, but it cannot defeat Iran in Iran. (See, for example, Afghanistan. See also, Red Dawn (1984)) And MMT notwithstanding, the USA cannot afford another war that will be four times as expensive as Iraq. The American public will not stand for it. Iran knows this, and desires to either call America’s bluff or draw them into a protracted and expensive battle which Iran figures will be coming eventually anyway.

                Let’s not forget, btw, that Iran is a proxy for China and Russia, as is Venezuela.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  The American public might not “stand for it,” but the elites presently running America have shown absolutely no concern for the desires of the American people.
                  As for provocations, well, remember that Iranian civilian airliner the American warship shot down over the Persian Gulf? Remember Stuxnet? You get the picture.

                  Reply
                2. Gaianne

                  The drone was an American military aircraft being flown without permission in Iranian airspace–so the Iranians certainly had the right to shoot it down. The Americans would certainly shoot down a foreign and hostile drone if it were, say, flying up Chesapeake Bay in the US.

                  So they had the right, but what was the point?

                  The point was to show that the Iranians control their own airspace up to 80,000 feet, to show that American stealth measures don’t count for much, and to show that they have discrimination and fire control:

                  They shot down the drone at 80,000 feet while passing over the manned US spyplane at 38,000 feet also flying in Iranian airspace, because the could, and because they wanted to.

                  Americans talk a lot about ‘sending messages”. Well, that was an Iranian message, Next time there will be none: The Iranians will simply do what they choose to do.

                  Some 30-odd US intelligence agents are still alive today because Iran is not, in fact, seeking war.

                  –Gaianne

                  Reply
      4. John Merryman

        I suspect Trump’s election campaign will be conducted from behind bullet proof glass and that his major donors might not want to fly their Gulfstreams into any airport that doesn’t have significant perimeter security.
        Would we attack to avenge say, Sheldon Adelson?

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Absolute wrong ‘target.’ The Head of State is also a major psychological ‘talisman’ of the nation. Make a martyr of Trump? Heaven forfend! Also, I’d imagine that the Mullahs over in Iran understand well the uses to which martyrs can be put.
            Just spitballing here, but a suitable asymmetric target for Iranian “revenge” would be something like the Israeli atomic plant at Dimona.
            Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_Peres_Negev_Nuclear_Research_Center

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Which might spread nuclear waste/fallout around the land of once ( and future?) Palestine. Would that make Palestinians happy?

              Reply
      5. rd

        Killing Soleimani means no real negotiations with North Korea on nuclear weapons. This is further proof to Kim that giving up nuclear weapons would be the height of insanity. It will also accelerate Iran’s resolve to get nuclear weapons.

        So there may be “negotiations” over the next handful of years for political theater, but it is just going to be lips moving. There will be no binding resolutions of meaning. Even if there were, the other parties would be just as likely to break their word because the US doesn’t follow international rules and the counter-parties will probably not trust the US to stand behind its agreements.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘giving up nuclear weapons would be the height of insanity.’

          Yeah, I think that you worded it perfectly. Kim would be checking that his dead-man’s switch is still working right about now.

          Reply
      6. fdr-fan

        Yup. I’m hoping and praying that Russia ships a few hundred nuke missiles to Persia, but so far Russia seems to be publicly uninterested in this latest event.

        Persia should have resumed its nuke-building program instantly when Trump was elected. Trump’s absolute obedience to Israel was never mysterious.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The thought is nice, but letting nukes lose in the Middle East is the last thing Russia wishes for. They still remember the time Castro almost had the Russians use the missiles in Cuba against America during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

          Reply
      7. kgw

        Russia has said , repeatedly, that any nuclear weapon attack on its allies will be considered an attack on Russia, and will be met with a counter-attack.

        Reply
          1. Gaianne

            “Is Iran an umbrella ally of Russia now?”

            Nobody knows.

            (“Do you feel lucky, punk?”)

            Yeah, probably Iran is. At minimum, Russia can not afford for Iran to be defeated, and will act accordingly.

            –Gaianne

            Reply
      8. Plenue

        I’m not sure why they need nukes. What would nukes do for them that they can’t already do? They can already reduce every US garrison within (at least) a thousand kilometers to rubble, claim to be able to even hit Tel Aviv. and can certainly set Saudi Arabia on fire if they need to. They can also very likely reliably sink at least one US carrier strike group in the Gulf, if push comes to shove. I think they already have plenty of strategic deterrence.

        Maybe some of our leadership thinks that ‘they don’t have the bomb; we can take them!’, but if so, those people are sorely mistaken.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Remember that a fundamental tenet of MAD is that the players both have to be actually, verifiably insane and willing to destroy the whole world rather than letting the Other Side “win.” This episode sure seems to be a strong demonstration of the insanity on Our Side.

          Reply
      9. Yves Smith

        First, you are making assumptions. You have no idea what deals Iran has with Russia and China. Russia would want them kept mum until necessary. Iran is a much more powerful and independent player than Syria and preserving independence of operation up to a point is extremely valuable to both parties.

        And it appears that Iran is already under Russia’s nuclear shield. VietnamVet says below, admittedly unsourced:

        Russia has said that it will respond if Iran is attacked with nuclear weapons.

        Second, you forget that Iran signed a treaty. I am too lazy to look it up. But they did it under the Shah when Iran was a good US toady.

        Your rant conveniently ignores a LOT of relevant history.

        That was its original sin. But if it had repudiated it unilaterally, I can guarantee it would have had everyone against them, in particular Europe. Europe still very much wants to and to a degree does trade with Iran even with the sanctions now. The pariah treatment would have started earlier and would have been even more absolute.

        Shorter on #2: Iran had only bad options, which you fail to acknowledge, and the choices it made were less bad.

        Third, as Lambert and I speculated privately and I volunteered a few hours ago in comments, it would be a rational play for Iran to repudiate the JCPOA. It just did.

        Fourth, Iran has tons of countermoves, as attested by a clearly panicked US sending message though friendly diplomats (Qatar and Switzerland, I think one other was rumored) to limit itself to proportional retaliation. That means the US is begging Iran to only whack one US general.

        For instance, Iran could hit targets in Qatar (biggest US base in the ME is there) or Saudi Arabia. No one in the US outside the lunatic fringe is going to want to go to war over Qatar or Saudi Arabia.

        Per another line of thought in Lambert’s links (Scott Ritter?), Iran could stop its crackdown on ISIS in US controlled territories, leading to more US bodybags and bad headlines. Fun!

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          You have no idea what deals Iran has with Russia and China.
          I absolutely agree with you there. We do know that these three have been edging closer in recent years, including conducting joint naval drills, and, I think, setting up banking, payment and trading systems outside the reach of the US and its sanctions.
          Russia and China have been relatively quiet with regard to the latest US attacks. I for one do not take that as meaning they’re ignoring them; quite the opposite.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t see any reason to think that the Iranians are close to developing useable nuclear weapons – unless they’ve used their North Korean contacts. I think they’ve concluded quite firmly that its not really an option for them, not least because if they do, then the Saudi’s and Gulf States will get bombs from Pakistan, assuming they haven’t already. They would also be under great pressure from Russia and China not to go in that direction.

      The Iranians are more boxed in than it seems, because while they can cause havoc in the Gulf, that also hurts China, India and Europe, so could lead to them being even more isolated. They need to balance a lot of strategic issues. I think its pretty clear that their only clear way of harming the US is in Iraq. If Trump is smart, he’d realise this and get US soldiers out of there quickly, declaring victory on the way out. But we know he’s not that smart.

      Reply
      1. Dftbs

        Agree, they are extremely boxed in. Getting nukes won’t be easy for them. I don’t think the concern is Sunni proliferation, but Russian and Chinese disfavor. That said, their ONLY move is to get nuclear weapons. They can’t do anything until they climb that hill.

        Also agree Trump could come out a “winner by leaving. But doubt that will happen.

        Reply
      2. The Historian

        “The Iranians are more boxed in than it seems……”

        Did you read Scott Ritter’s article?

        “Getting the Iraqi Parliament to formally reject the U.S. military presence on Iraqi soil has long been a strategic objective of Iran. As such, Iran would be best served by avoiding direct conflict with the US, and letting events take their expected course.
        If Iraq votes to expel American forces, the Trump administration will be tied up trying to cope with how to manage that new reality. ”

        Well, that has just happened.
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/world/middleeast/iran-general-soleimani-iraq.html

        Reply
        1. Dftbs

          Moving forward under the healthy assumption that no commentators theory is writ-in-stone fact, including our own. I think the notion that Iran will play the grownup, take the advantage that a 3rd US-Iraq war confers on them (because it seems hard to believe that the US will heed Iraq’s new request to leave)is hopeful. Too hopeful, because it assumes that the US is playing as a “grownup”.

          I’d like to think Trump would, as suggested by PK above, leave and declare victory. But up to this point, escalation into war seems to be the US goal. I’d imagine more US provocation is over the near horizon. Barring a direct strike on Iranian soil, Iran is best served by being patient until it develops the ability to strike back and deter further aggression.

          I don’t disagree with Ritter that the assassination has made the US presence in Iraq unsustainable and that this is long term good for Iran. But Ritter should’ve long ago been disavowed if the notion of international legal norms. The US can’t be expelled by legal writ, only force. And confrontation is just what the US wants. Not Americans. But the Trump regime.

          Iran is limited in its actions because presently they have to assume any retaliation will bring about US escalation. But in the long run they have to retaliate, for the ayatollahs it’s better to fight them
          In Baghdad then I’m Tehran.

          Reply
          1. John

            Perhaps one of those hyper-devious and diabolical Iranians has a plan no one has thought of and for which there is no counter. Can’t rule it out.

            Suppose Iran went quiet. Suppose Iran ceased all actions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. Suppose Iran ceased mentioning the US and shunned, politely, any contact. Then what?

            Reply
            1. Dftbs

              Would be a great (Non) response by Iran; but I think they are operating under the assumption that the US regime is driving for war.

              A lot of the analysis, post assassination, assumes that the US doesn’t want escalation. That Iran can just let the stupidity of the Trump regime play out. It seems to me that analysis suffers from an Orientalist vein: that we are civilized and rational and our adversary isn’t. Thats always been a lie, but Trump has typed it in bold and underlined it.

              Finally, you can ignore someone at the bar; up until they point they break a beer bottle and start stabbing you with it.

              Reply
          2. polecat

            “But the Trump regime.”

            All with the gracious nodding by a moarrr-than-compliantly-grifting COOgress, by passing the NDAA $$$assist – Not to leave the Yay! votin bi-team Red$ off the hook, but passage of reauthorization was left(HA!) to the majority, of which were the insider-trading, avarice-$$$piling Blues! But They’re All, almost to a one .. of the RB-sided coin, just f#cking with us … you DO see that, Dftbs .. dont’ you?

            Reply
        2. rd

          Parliament voted for the US to leave. But it is non-binding and has to be agreed to and implemented by the Iraqi government that is currently leaderless. So it will probably be a while before it would be enforced, if it is. But it is still a significant political defeat for the US. I would use “humiliating” but I don’t think the US government is mentally capable of understanding humiliation.

          The US has two “non-war” zones that are becoming increasingly difficult to have effective access to (Afghanistan and Syria/Iraq) for anything but bombing missions. The US likes to trumpet its precision bombing capabilities but the key thing that modern warfare since the 1930s has shown is that air superiority and strategic bombing does not win wars. You need to have boots on the ground. The boots on the ground need the support of the population unless you are willing to put the entire population into a brutal police state. Air superiority allows you to defeat conventional armies but does not necessarily win against asymmetrical warfare.

          Reply
          1. Lee

            There’s the parliament and then there’s the street. I doubt that even Trump will let the troops be put in the position of having to massacre Iraqi civilians. It’s not 5th avenue after all.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The Greek god of satire and mockery was Momus. America says it wants to bring freedom and democracy and the world tolerates untold destruction toward that lofty goal. Egypt topples their totally corrupt leader and holds elections: they pick The Muslim Brotherhood. America says Um No we weren’t talking about *that kind* of democracy and re-installs the military dictatorship.

              Now Iraq installs a Parliament and votes for the Americans to leave. Momus has a big belly laugh.

              Reply
              1. xkeyscored

                The US has more or less given up spouting its freedom and democracy crap. The recent attacks were justified with talk about retaliation and preventing attacks by Iran and “its proxies.” The US has now decided its troops are in Iraq not to bring freedom or democracy, nor to fight ISIS, but purely to defend the occupation.

                Reply
          2. Polar Socialist

            It was the government that asked for the resolution. They can’t act without parlament’s decision.
            The government has already started implementing the resolution.

            Reply
          3. Plenue

            I think the legal impact of the vote is largely meaningless. What matters is that the will of the Iraqi people, or at least a very significant portion of it, has been declared. The minutiae of legal procedure and formal implementation is irrelevant. The US can either start withdrawing willingly now, or the next step is that the militias start employing their weapons. Every American in Iraq is now a potential target.

            Iraq told us to leave. And they will make us leave, whether through formal government procedure or other means.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              A couple of days ago I saw a suggestion somewhere that the U.S. intends to implement a coup d’etat. Therefore they don’t have to worry about withdrawing, because soon the government of Iraq will be controlled from the White House. Perhaps the CIA was assuring Trump that they have that well in hand, same as Venezuela. We currently have about 5,000 “advisers” in Iraq. I believe the Pentagon has ordered another 3,000 from the 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to Iraq. Let’s say they can get it up to 15,000 fairly soon. I remember the build-up to deploying combat troops to Vietnam. Even with federalization of the National Guard and deployment of the Reserves, it took two years and constructing the port at Cam Ranh Bay, and nearly destroyed the Army. No good can come from this.

              Reply
        3. timbers

          “Well, that has just happened….” – Saw that piece of news.

          Unfortunately, the US has lots of options in response. Putting on my Mr Blob hat, here are some response options the US has that I sadly think are too plausible:

          1). Washington/Israel/SA resume and ramp up their funding and support for Suni terrorists/mercenaries in Iraq who don’t like the Shia majority (what will they be called this time? – TNIIIHCIWCSMS – (The New And Improved Iranian ISIS Head Choppers of Innocent Woman & Children Who are Sexist Male Chauvinists?) and blows up a bunch of stuff and kill some Shia’s in Iraq.

          2). Trump declares not only will US troops remain in Iraq, but he is sending more to “fight Iranian Terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”.

          Same movie we’ve seen before.

          Reply
        4. Oh

          Trump’s ego won’t allow him to pull the troops out and leave. I don’t believe for a moment that he was sincere about pulling out troops. Besides, an exit at this time will be seen as cowadly by the war mongering population (MIC and the right wing nuts).

          Reply
      3. Jeremy Grimm

        The U.S. keeps a lot of its petroleum ‘eggs’ in the Saudi basket. Iran could strike at the U.S. indirectly using conventional even relatively crude means. The Middle East is target rich and the complexity of the conflicts the U.S. has fostered there could even serve to obscure that Iran sourced the attack if they should so choose. I believe well designed attacks on an unstable player like Saudi could hurt the U.S. without doing too much harm to China, India and Europe. The U.S. belligerence undermines arguments for Iranian restraint in Saudi to avoid larger conflict with the U.S. The U.S. seems intent on initiating a conflict.

        “In conflict you need to deny your enemy their goals.” — Dftbs above. If you cannot deny your enemy their goals you can always make those goals more expensive and more difficult.

        Reply
        1. Dftbs

          I agree about US regional vulnerability. I think what I was trying to say is that the US goal is to be at war. What comes after…well despite a not so stellar record in conflict over the last century. The US assumes it will win that war.

          Iran may be able to harm what we’ve always thought to be US strategic interests in the region. But The Trump Regime’s actions over the last week should lead us to the conclusion that maybe the US has no strategic interest in the region other than continued confrontation.

          While this sounds crazy, through central bank intervention and coercion through sanctions, the US has been spared the effects of wasting blood and treasure through nearly a generation of war.

          For other historical empires, war was expensive, for the 21st century US it is a GDP stimulus.

          Until Iran can reverse those assumptions, they have to limit their response. After they can reverse or break those assumptions…that will be the US geopolitical Minsky moment.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Open war with Iran would close the Strait and crash the world economy. That’s a very pricey strategic move. If we assume Big Business is really running the country, would they knowingly crash the economy?

            I suspect this war will be fought mostly by proxy, assassinations, and hackers – I just saw a report that, some years ago, Iran hacked Adelson’s casinos and cost him $40 million – serious money, even for Adelson. I’m sure they could do worse – NC has repeatedly documented how fragile IT really is.

            Hmmm – might want to make sure you have non-electronic access to your money, if you have savings. I better look into that. Sigh.

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              “Open war with Iran would close the Strait and crash the world economy. That’s a very pricey strategic move. If we assume Big Business is really running the country, would they knowingly crash the economy?”

              This assumes the ball is in the US’s court. As far as Iran is concerned we are already in a state of open war. What happens next depends on them and if they can keep a cool head and respond with something relatively subtle and reasonably deniable. Because from what I can tell there are a lot of Iranians who are hella angry right now, and may not be restrained. DC knows this, hence all the panicked appeals to Iran ‘deescalating’.

              Also, Rouhani and his moderates are done politically. He championed dialogue and negotiation, and all he got for it was Trump deep-sixing the nuke deal, more sanctions, and now their greatest general openly murdered. More militant voices are going to be firmly on the accent in Iran going forward.

              Reply
              1. John

                That also assumes that big business is rational and actually in touch with the real world and not the world as they would have it.

                Reply
          2. Bill Carson

            The U.S. hasn’t won a war in 75 years, and despite the heroic myths it is even arguable that the U.S. was not the deciding factor in the outcome of WWII, but rather the last man standing.

            The question then becomes, how can we learn a lesson when we aren’t taught true history?

            Reply
          3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Agree that unlimited CB money printing is the only way we have possibly been able to fund Total Everywhere War.

            But collapse the “sanctions dollar”? Don’t think so. In favor of which alternative global currency?

            More likely the chickens of the Fed pretending time preference is not a thing, as interest rates grind higher, come home to roost. A pretty small uptick will make it quite difficult indeed to keep the lights on the the U.S. But even then: where are you gonna go? The euro (negative rates already)? The yen (much more red ink than the USD)?

            Reply
            1. Dftbs

              Collapsing the sanction-dollar may be wishful thinking. But as the carrot the dollar provided is nearly gone in our age of asset bubbles, civil forfeiture and no rule of law; the stick is the only thing keeping everyone in line.

              If the Iranians demonstrate there is no stick, but a twig. The purchasing power of the dollar will take a sudden hit as demand for USD to recycle back into the US will drop.

              We have already crossed the Rubicon of monetizing the debt; and negative rates in our vassal states are meant to drive capital flows back to US. There aren’t many more tricks up the central bankers’ sleeves to maintain capital flows towards the US. I can see a “market” determined interest rate environment arise, Fed funds be damned. The impact of this shock would be a sudden and drastic drop in upper-middle class American lifestyle. Have you ever wondered why quinoa is more expensive for residents Peru than New York?

              I don’t propose a solution or alternative; but would point out that it’s wrong to assume one global currency regime would be replaced by another.

              Rather, I brought it up as a risk which US strategic planners can’t begin to conceive. You have to remember these are people whose understanding of the world economy doesn’t go beyond S&P price movements.

              Reply
        2. Procopius

          Obscuring the source of any attack will not matter. Any attack by any independent agency will be called an attack by Iran. There was no evidence (presented, anyway) that the attack that killed the interpreter was conducted by Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is a part (officially) of the Iraqi military establishment. The protest at the embassy was friends, relatives, and supporters of the 25 Kata’ib Hezbollah members killed by American air strikes. These are Iraqi people, but the Blob insists on talking about Iranian actions. “The Iranians are attacking our embassy, ” says Trump. I think that this is meant to distract from the impeachment and also from Bibi’s pending trial, but it’s been obvious for years that the Blob has decided on war with Iran and, while it may be delayed, it will happen.

          Reply
      4. neo-realist

        They can also potentially harm the U.S. via the slow drip of targeted assassinations of American diplomats and personnel, and, maybe as things start to escalate, at worst, attacks against our citizens abroad (I’m not cheering for this sort of thing). As far as nukes, the Iranians have been ramping up the program bit by bit for the last few months. While other nations may get bombs as a result and other potential allies may frown upon their choice to acquire nukes, to the Iranians, in my view, it’s a matter of pride and honor for them to ramp up all means of defense in the face of attacks upon their national icons as well as unrelenting economic sanctions with no end in sight, even at the risk of getting severely wacked by the U.S. Besides, I also believe that the Iranians know that we as a nation (excepting NC posters) are not psychologically prepared for the blowback upon ordinary Americans, abroad, and possibly in the homeland.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Assassinations would be a precise tit-for-tat, so if I were an American official or military officer, I’d be watching my back. It’s also hard to guard against and easy to disown.

          At the same time, I also agree with Userfract, below, that revenge will come first in Iraq, esp. since Iraq has its own outrage. Next time, the “demonstrators” at the Embassy will not be unarmed.

          Reply
        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I think U.S. military officers would be a more likely target than U.S. diplomats and personnel. It is my impression that U.S. diplomats and their personnel barely qualify as figureheads. If they are working diplomacy they are doing a great job of keeping it secret.

          Reply
    3. Userfract

      I expect that their revenge will come in the form of having Iraq kick out US troops. Then the Shia militias in Iraq will take power in a coup, grant independence to the Kurds, and then establish an Iran-Iraq-Kurdistan alliance. The Kurds were already aligned with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, and they certainly can’t count on the US for protection. Flipping Iraq from a US client state to an Iranian protectorate would definitely poke the US in the eye, and provided that the whole thing unfolded within Iraq’s domestic politics after a US departure the US would have a pretty weak justification to intervene.

      Reply
      1. Karla

        Thank you Joe Biden for voting to remove the “evil dictator Saddam…”
        Oh, and while we are at it, your and Pelosi’s support to remove Qaddafi, allowing ISIS to rule there and Turkey to invade.

        Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        The position 5000 troops in Iraq is untenable. The US killed the Iraqi Shiite militia leader who reports directly to the Prime Minister at the Baghdad Airport. This is way beyond the Saudi Crown Prince killing a journalist in his consulate. There is no way that the Iraqis will allow the Americans to remain. If Americans stay in country there will be another unwinnable war of occupation before being forced to leave.

        The Trump Administration really doesn’t know what it is doing. The Iranians have built a non-nuclear mutually assured destruction deterrence. The September drone attack documents that if Iran is attacked, they will destroy Aramco’s oil facilities. The basic problem is both sides must recognize it. Russia has said that it will respond if Iran is attacked with nuclear weapons. Past leaders understood the risks of nuclear war. Donald Trump not so. His “mad man” foreign policy isn’t an act. Donald Trump is the “Godfather” gone to the mattresses. He likely will be the last elected US President. The Democrat’s schemes to keep the wars going forever for the profiteers has also been trashed.

        Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        key quote from that wiki:
        “After the war game was restarted, its participants were forced to follow a script drafted to ensure a Blue Force victory”

        ludicrous.
        and instructive.
        and totally unsurprising(waves flag with zero zeal or fervor)

        i think that a resounding defeat is what the usa!usa!usa! needs the most.
        sans bernie on the ballot in november, I might even vote trump(!!!)…
        because i’m weary of loathing my country…
        and a reset to sanity/morality/ethics seems rather impossible with the current gang in charge.
        so lets have the end of empire and a retrenchment….even a balkinisation, if necessary(which it probably is).
        lets end the dollar as reserve, and “soft power”(us domination of global economics), and all the rest of our hegemonic assholery.
        lets get the stupidest, vilest morons at the helm and actively help it all fall down. just run the carrier into the rocks off the coast of persia.
        the sooner Nemesis comes calling to end the hubris, the sooner we can get the Burning Times over with.
        “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”-JFK—–but in this case, those who have proven themselves useless and actively harmful for humanity in general, but who won’t get the hell out of the way…should be forced to.
        did anyone really think that a course correction of the magnitude necessary was going to be allowed to happen peacefully and rationally and compassionately?
        i don’t even feel like eating the rich any more…just frelling compost them and feed the trees.

        —-
        i’m admittedly gloomy, today….wife was in hospital for 4 days(infection, got close to febrile neurtopenia/sepsis–averted), I’ve driven 700 miles since new years day, slept in the car, and on a chair…took 4 hours to get discharged…and the cvs guy said: 1. in spite of no other customers and 3 pharmacists sitting there on their fones,it would take an hour to put 7 pills in a bottle, 2. they didn’t take medicaid and 3. we’d hafta pay the “cash price”(punishing the poor)…
        all this while trump does the bidding of unknown spooks and mandarins, and NPR can’t find an antiwar interviewee(“fight them over there” etc)

        and I’m almost out of weed.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          As they say, “If you aren’t cynical, you aren’t paying attention.”

          Wow – so glad your wife overcame the infection. Wondered where you were. Best wishes to both of you. And you should get some sleep.

          We always appreciate your contributions here.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          I don’t know how you can keep doing it, Amf. Just make sure to get decent meals and sleep when you can so you can be in better condition to help your wife. As for that hospital – b*******!

          Reply
        3. ambrit

          With you all the way about that “cash price” bu—–t. We saw something similar this past week.
          I see more and more people embracing the “a curse on both your houses (of Congress)” theme.
          We are now ruled by “Greed,” and it’s sibling, “Stupid.”
          When Nemesis comes a calling….
          Hear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNA4MDc9U50

          Reply
        4. Procopius

          I saw an interview somewhere with one of the officers who were in charge of conducting that war game. He said that the “game” cost many millions of dollars and over a year of preparation, and was intended (needed) to “prove” that certain doctrines and hardware (then not even designed) were war winners, and showing that they were not was impermissible. He also said that while they needed to make the Blue Forces win, they privately took some of the lessons to heart. Ya think so?

          Reply
        5. Janie

          I’m so sorry to read of this setback but glad she is discharged. You’ve had more than your share of trouble. Here’s wishing you and yours better times in the new year.

          Reply
    4. inode_buddha

      Without force to direct global capital flows back to US; we have less than piles of green paper, we just have bits and digits in computers.

      Without electricity, you won’t even have that. True wealth is always tied to the land, and labor.

      Reply
      1. Dftbs

        Yes, ultimately the US position is more untenable than US strategic “planners” think. Their analysis is corrupted by years of consuming their own propaganda.

        Iran could likely break these false assumptions with their present military capabilities. But they would do this at the risk of millions of their citizens; and the existence of their government.

        They would be better served to first develop a deterrent. Their subsequent retaliation would be met by US inability to escalate, lest they risk some actual “skin”.

        IMHO this inability for the US to retaliate would break the underlying assumptions that hold up the “sanction dollar” regime.

        This would hurt the US home front more than a war fought “over there” ever could.

        Reply
    5. russell1200

      They are capable of shutting down the Straights of Hormuz to commercial traffic right now by mining. And within being within range of large numbers of land based cruise missiles/drones, can likely do a lot of damage to anyone trying to clear them in any sort of hurried fashion.

      If I am reading these charts right, 1/5th of the worlds oil goes through the Straights, with very limited means to bypass them.

      https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39932

      Reply
    6. Synoia

      I’d suggest that Iran find some very expensive US Lawyers and file a RICO suit against Trump and his subordinates.

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        RICO meets the Bethlehem Doctrine. Thanks for Craig Murray today on this “doctrine”. Amazing stuff. But, but, n order to fight extrajudicial assassinations you have to have power – in the usual form, that is, violence. It’s all very Alice in Bethlehem. One thing the Bethlehem Doctrine is telling us now is just how important oil is, even as it declines. Netanyahu just signed an oil deal with Greece and Cyprus (leaving out Turkey which is interesting). The Israelis are looking at knocking South Stream out of the water I’d bet. What that has to do with Soleimani isn’t entirely clear – except that it all has to do with oil. Strange evolution as this doctrine was construed to establish protection for the nation of Israel. Just a tiny little strip of dirt always in a fist fight with its closest genetic cousins. So now I think Craig Murray is a treasure. Glad he is a regular.

        Reply
    7. Polar Socialist

      At least so far Iranians have considered that their religion forbids them from having weapons of mass destruction.
      The current supreme leader Khamenei has a fatwa against developing, acquiring or using nuclear weapons specifically.

      Reply
    8. Ignim Brites

      Seems like Iran/Iraq are likely to consider inviting Russia to set up a base with air capability in Iraq. Seemed to work for Iran in Syria.

      Reply
  5. Livius Drusus

    Re: The Two Myths of the Internet

    The article makes a good point which is that there is more to politics than activism, something I think the left often forgets. Sure, you can use social media to organize a big anti-Trump rally, just like Trump supporters can for their side. But as the author points out, politics requires deliberation and there is no technological replacement for solid political institutions, which either don’t exist or are totally in thrall to elites.

    I don’t think that the internet is useful in combating elite capture. Online politics is even more elitist than old fashioned ward-style politics. For example, Twitter is not very representative of America as a whole as the heaviest users tend to be younger, better educated, more affluent and more likely to vote for the Democrats.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/twitter-is-not-america/587770/

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90339526/study-confirms-twitter-is-not-real-life

    This is exactly why the online left keeps getting surprised by Trump, Brexit, European populists, Bolsonaro and most recently Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat. They forget that not everyone is “extremely online” and that their social media echo chambers don’t reflect the real world. Granted, you can say the same for some people on the right as well but I think the populist right has a better grip on street-level opinion in the West these days. That is not an endorsement of the populist right, just a comment on how the right seems to “get” the prevailing mood in the West today.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      +infinity (now shrink that into 280 characters).

      Twitter/social media has turned millions into clickbait dopamine-addicts. And the online Left may not be patient zero, I say they’re patient 2.

      Now get off my lawn!

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      I sort of agree. The internet isn’t even that effective a propaganda device (that would be television). It’s supreme importance is as an information device–a tether to reality in a world increasingly wedded to unreality. It’s quite common to see newspaper or television reporters assert things that could be debunked in a couple of minutes using a search engine.

      The problem is that the general public gets their information from the elites and the outlets that they control. And the only thing that will break that control is reality, the thing described (although not of course always) by internet sources. Trump may be unwittingly dishing up heaping doses of that reality as we speak.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Millions of people, including myself, no longer get most their news from American television, in favor of the internet, and I think that trend will only continue. Whether or not the ‘net is an effective propaganda device remains to be seen, but since there are billions of eyeballs online, the internet will be used for that purpose.

        Reply
        1. Oh

          Lordkoos,

          There are too many competing sites for those eyeballs and people will gravitate towards those that confirm their bias.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Not so fast now. The burgeoning ‘media self censorship’ movement is reducing those online outlets even as we type. The extremes are “where it’s at” in social and political movements. Those areas are where ‘real’ change originates. Reduce and eliminate those sites, and you doom society to fellahin-dom.

            Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Lol thx now i have that Lee Corso quote stuck in my head (co host ofCollege Football Gameday on ESPN).

              Reply
        2. polecat

          Bu bu but Chief $upreme JUST-US ‘the ‘ACA’ is for Your own good, So Buy it and Like It, you Dumb mope!’ Roberts complained recently that the Intertoobs where nothing but ‘faux-news’ … and apparently was harshing his buzz !

          What’s an Authoritarian to Doooooooo !!!!!!!!

          Reply
    3. Ted

      Re: Two Myths of the Internet

      Missing here is the by now rapid fall off in internet social media usage. Sure people have accounts, but do they ever use them. And by now the novelty of finding out what your fellow classmates of the Class of ‘85 are up to has also worn off. The pattern of the rise and decline of cultural artifacts is well known in archaeology, where the presence of a style or artifact rises, peaks, and fall over time producing a “battleship curve”.

      Along with the likely rapid fall off of interest in and use of digital media is the associated infatuation with “social movements” and “activism”. Sure, people get out and shake their fists along with like-minded others on a nice Saturday morning, but the practical, real-world effect is zero. They wake up on Sunday to the same horror show that was playing Friday evening. Turns out making things better is hard work and requires sustained face-to-face collaboration (not Facebook posts).

      Reply
    4. Stephen V

      Perhaps a return to the old school localism of this fellow old fart is in order:
      medium.com/@stangoff.
      Can organizing toward community food independence ever go out of style?

      Reply
      1. Appleseed

        I forget who said it, “internet is a great tool, but a horrible addiction” (or words to that effect) so I appreciate the article’s call for a healthy dose of skepticism. A recent link to an Intercept piece on the Sanders campaign gives fascinating and detailed insight into what a healthy combination of “boots on the ground” and digital tools might look like in building a grassroots political movement. Saw Bernie on C-Span the other night and he said his volunteers were committed to knocking on 500,000 doors in Iowa in January. While he didn’t mention it specifically, there will no doubt be some data capture involved. So, do we trust him i.e., his campaign staff, to safeguard that data and only use it in service to the greater good of growing a coalition? Or is the nature of data capture immune to notions of privacy and seduced by monetization that Bernie’s strategy is a pipe dream?

        Reply
    5. Oh

      In the US,Twitter and Facebook are used for “I’m holier than thou” and “I know more than you”. This won’t help in any organized opposition.

      Reply
  6. GramSci

    The “Bethlehem Doctrine”, appearing as it did in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, reads like so much casuistry for Stand Your Ground.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Casuistry is clever by definition. This is just stupid and thuggish.
      Now they’ll be wanting a doctrine that justifies bombing a country’s cultural heritage.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Of course it’s absurd. The problem is that it has been used by both parties since Obama used it as well. The real question in all this is whether the public is ready to stomach a major war with Iran given that the mutual assured destruction in this case will be to the world economy.

        I think not. As bad as the MSM currently is, surely even they aren’t that reckless and Brian Williams will have to put away his toy soldiers. Hope that’s true.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I will probably be for others, much later, to note how we threw away habeus corpus, declared that corporations are people, and decided there is no longer any such thing as privacy. Toss in stuff like civil asset forfeiture and the only thing left is to quote Joni Mitchell:

          “Don’t it always seem to go, when you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…”

          Reply
  7. notabanktoadie

    Such is “charity.” lambert

    One of very many reasons we should all be in favor of economic justice is that it greatly reduces the need for charity.

    And, imco, the following are in order of importance to the God of the Bible:

    He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you but
    to do justice,
    to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?
    Micah 6:8 [bold added]

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Pity would be no more,
      If we did not make somebody Poor:
      And Mercy no more could be,
      If all were as happy as we….
      —–William Blake, The Human Abstract

      Reply
    2. zephyrum

      “I can conceive of no greater mistake, more disastrous in the end to religion if not society, than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice.”
      — William Jewett Tucker

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
        –Deuteronomy 15:11 (emphasis added)
        Full disclosure: I am not a follower of an Abrahamic religion.

        Reply
        1. notabanktoadie

          Contrast that with:

          However, there will be no poor among you, since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 15:4-5 [bold added]

          and it becomes apparent that, at least as far as fellow citizens are concerned, that “There will always be poor people in the land” (and what Jesus said about the existence of poverty) is an INDICTMENT (of disobedience wrt economic justice), not a statement on the inevitably of poverty, no matter what.

          Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    Scotty from Marketing can’t seem to do anything right. He announced the military being sent in and announced it in what seemed like a political party ad with its own jingle but didn’t bother to tell those in charge of fighting the fires in New South Wales or Victoria. Even the military officers seconded to them knew nothing of this. That proceeded to blow up in his face.
    It has come out that the government refused to take advantage of the fleets of firefighting planes in storage in the northern hemisphere during the winter there by leasing them during our fire season. This is happening now and $30 million will be spent each year to do so. But it then came came out that a few months ago Scotty spent $250 million on re-furbishing a Jetstar Airbus A330 for himself and which he named “Shark One” to fly around the world with-

    https://www.msn.com/g00/en-au/news/australia/inside-shark-one-scott-morrisons-new-dollar250million-plane-is-revealed-after-a-commercial-jetstar-airbus-a330-is-transformed-into-a-100-seater-tanker-for-the-prime-minister/ar-AAH1PYT

    Of course for a lot of people, it is too little too late (Warning – graphic film clip)-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh6JCg62tJ0

    Still more reinforcements are being sent from the US and Canada-

    https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/technology/us-canadian-firefighters-will-help-local-efforts-in-bushfire-crisis/news-story/b3682d095caacf22de608e1fb123a9d9

    I should mention. A firefighter complained about a forest going up full of fire loading material. He said that it was owned by an electricity mob and was there to get carbon credits with. Make of that what you will.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Could you draw a parallel between Scotty from Marketing and PG & E?

      Both had been warned of the hazard of how they were going about not doing things to prepare for the eventuality of major wildfires, the latter deciding that turning off the power was the answer, whereas the former has largely squandered whatever political power he had in a series of never-ending gaffes and photo & video ops gone horribly wrong.

      To me, the firefighter that refused to shake the PM’s hand and then walked away in disgust, was one of the most effective silent individual protests in talking truth to power i’ve ever seen.

      Reply
  9. JohnnyGL

    https://twitter.com/davidsirota/status/1212833258863415296

    This is a good line of attack from Sirota, but i worry the sanders team has left it too late for it to be effective. Should have rolled it out before last debate.

    I think there’s one in jan, so maybe there’s still time.

    Also, very happy to see sanders and ro khanna teaming up to push legislation to stop the march to war. That is what effective opposition looks like. Simultaneously, it forces the other dems to take a stand on something….which they hate doing…they like obfuscating and putting caveats and considerations on every opinion.

    Make them take a yes/no vote! Well done!

    Reply
  10. Baby Gerald

    Re: Does Russia Really Have Hypersonic Weapons That Are ‘Operational’?

    It’s really hard to get the point of this article aside from, perhaps, ‘get ready for a new kind arms race to suck away more of your country’s capital’. The author, David Axe starts off by equivocating about whether hypersonic weapons are something to be worried about or not. He makes the excellent point that nuclear armed countries, despite claims otherwise, don’t even have reliable defenses against regular ICBMs, leading instead to the Mutually Assured Destruction strategy as the only logical countermeasure. So hypersonic glide weapons that are overly complicated are technically unnecessary from the point of view as an ICBM replacement. Then he quotes Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, saying that the US “response would be our deterrent force, which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat.”

    So then we get to the idea that these weapons aren’t replacements for ICBMs but change the game for short or intermediate-range ‘theater’ or ‘regional’ combat. To which I’m sure Putin would reply, ‘Well, duh!’ But my response to the author would be to ask what sort of defense we have against conventional short-range weapons at the moment anyway, let alone those that go mach 5+ and zigzag into their targets. Aside from chaff, jamming, or some sort of physical screen, there’s little one can do against an attack from a basic surface-to-surface shoulder-fired missile or even a drone strike.

    Not to worry, though, our author assures us. Getting to the point of the headline, he then tells us that Russia [and China, too!] might claim to have these weapons but it’s all a bluff, dropping this quote from a David Larter column in Defense News from November 2019: “The catch is that none of this stuff works yet. I want to emphasize that all of what we’re talking about here are prototypes.”

    To which I would reply that maybe the bluff is the point. As if we’re not spending more than the next seven or eight countries combined, adding a new generation of weapons to this might be the proverbial straw that breaks the back of the American empire. It’s almost like a crafty 2020 update to the Reagan SDI strategy of the ’80s, which many neocons erroneously credit for ruining the Soviet economy and thus triggering the dissolution of that system and the triumph of democracy and the free market, blah blah blah. Not only does the US have to keep building the weapons it is currently, it now has to add in the R&D for this new generation of weaponry which it might already be working on, but puts it in a perpetual position of playing catch-up with its two largest geopolitical rivals.

    If anyone has made it through all this, I’d love to hear other commenters’ thoughts on this topic.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      All Russia needs is just 1 or 2 working prototypes, then throw in traditional ICBMs and Russia has guaranteed 2nd strike retaliation capabilities against US elites in DC and/or NYC—-something I would want if I was the leader of Russia (or China) given a bipartisan US tradition of first strikes.

      And heck, the Deplorables (along w/many on the Left) will celebrate if NYC and DC turn into 2 craters.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        And heck, the Deplorables (along w/many on the Left) will celebrate if NYC and DC turn into 2 craters.

        Does my having experienced a little frisson of delight upon reading the above make me a bad person?

        If my thought dreams could be seen
        They’d put my head in a guillotine.

        —Bob Dylan

        Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Didn’t AT & T have contracts to do with nuclear weaponry? And that their motto was “reach out and touch someone”?

              Reply
      2. bob

        This is unreal. Why would china need missles? They could put *whatever they want* into a shipping container.

        The worst part of these half-assed provocations are the legions of “game theory” dorks who come out of the basements of the world in order to descend into the bunkers. After they pick their wives, of course-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzddAYYDZkk

        Reply
    2. DFTBS

      Yes the article in the National Interest has no value in its question or its conclusion. It misses the point of Russian advances. The strategic benefit of hypersonic weapons for the Russians is lost on myopic US MIC “thinkers”. The Russians don’t intend to lead US down another arms race, rather they intend hypersonic weapons to eliminate the need for them to “keep up” with US plans for SDI and other shannanigans by re-introducing MAD to US strategic thought. A concept which US advocates for first strike capability had swept under the rug.

      Russia, and its government, despite what we think of it, operates under the golden rule of government. Legitimacy through the advancement of their populations’ well being. That is not to say all governments do so, but governments that fail to do this don’t often survive. The Russians have seen the result of arms race and are using hypersonic weapons to make the concept obsolete. The US is the only government in history that has so far defied this rule, perhaps not for long. Plunging headlong into a new arms race will likely hasten the application of this rule.

      Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      The whole point of weapons like this are to persuade your adversary not to try anything stupid. The notion of weapons intended to deter, not to be used, been around for a long time, but the atom bomb changed things from ‘we can destroy your army and humiliate you’ to ‘we can destroy everything’.

      Boomer nuclear submarines were supposed to be the ultimate deterrent, but it seems the Dr. Strangeloves still think that there could be some way of neutralising them. The point of a hypersonic weapon should be to persuade any opponents to just give up on thinking that only a massive counter nuclear attack is a deterrent. No doubt in 2 or 3 decades someone will decide that its possible to intercept these too, and the game will start again.

      I would guess its highly unlikely that the Russians are confident that they’d work, as they don’t seem to have done more than a few live tests, and it may not be possible to do a ‘real’ test as it would mean firing outside the boundaries of Russia. But the doubt created is enough.

      The great problem as I see it with hypersonic weapons is that unlike ICBM’s, they may have conventional uses too. If they are accurate enough, they could be used to knock out command posts and aircraft carriers by kinetic energy alone. This means that it increases the possibility of a conventional conflict going nuclear because an opponent doesn’t know whether those missiles coming its way are nuclear or not, and deciding to retaliate first just in case.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        If they are accurate enough

        That’s the nugget that has my attention. Modern infrastructure is marvelously vulnerable to disruption. My first thought is key substations on the power grid, with equipment that takes years to replace, but the failure nodes are abundant on all sides.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        Yeah, this has puzzled me since Obama approved the trillion dollar plan to “upgrade” and “modernize” the arsenal. Apparently there are still people in the highest policy positions who think you can use a “tactical” or “miniaturized” nuclear weapon without triggering the whole launch sequence. Insane. These are the people who have influence with the guy who has authority to use the launch codes or order assassinations. Changing the subject slightly, the doctrine asserted by Obama, that the President has authority to order the death of anyone, any time, anywhere in the world, without process or oversight or law, based on accusation, was used on a foreign national this time, but that can’t last. I don’t think I’m going to live to see it (pretty old already), but one day it’s going to be routine for Presidents to murder their political opponents.

        Reply
    4. bwilli123

      “..The ( Russian) Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it demonstrated the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle to a team of U.S. inspectors this week as part of transparency measures under the New Start nuclear arms treaty with the U.S. It said the new weapon will be put on combat duty in December….”

      https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2019/11/27/russia-shows-hypersonic-weapon-to-us-inspectors/

      Of course it would be just like those tricky Russians with their history of Potemkin Villages to try to fool the Inspectors with some colored lights, and smoke and mirrors.

      Reply
      1. rd

        Nobody should underestimate the effectiveness of Russian armament technology. They have a history of innovative, rugged, effective designs. Two early ones were the T-34 tank (the most influential tank design of WW II) and AK-47 automatic rifle, which is still in wide use.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Also as important, in many ways better design criteria (implicit in your “rugged” but I think it needs emphasis).

          My fave is US military planes pretty much have to land on airstrips, necessitating many expensive US airbases.

          Russian planes are designed to be able to land and take off in fields.

          Reply
    5. Kurtismayfield

      The fact that we are even having this conversation tell us all about our confidence in the US behaving rationally. MAD theory should keep the idea of any nuclear country attacking another as being alone to suicide, but the US has become so aggressive that we have to consider this happening.

      Reply
    6. Jos Oskam

      I might be too stupid to understand all the intricacies of nuke delivery. To me it seems that all a foreign power needs to do is buy a number of old vans or trucks, put serious nukes with remote-control receivers in them, and park or store them somewhere close to strategic targets.
      Heck, if those foreign boogeymen were serious, they could even build or buy houses here and there and put them nukes in the cellars, ready to be used.
      When things get serious they wouldn’t need any ICBM’s or hypersonic missiles since the bombs would already be in place, ready to be detonated by remote command.

      What am I missing here?

      Reply
      1. Baby Gerald

        Thanks to everyone here in this thread for expanding and improving upon my original ruminations. Great points made by all. I’m particularly inclined toward your reasoning, DFTBS, when you modify the arms race argument I proposed with a more overt MAD-plus strategy instead. That seems to make more sense. The side benefit of cost overruns on a massive defense budget is not as great when almost nobody ever asks ‘how are we gonna pay for it?’

        PlutoniumKun adroitly points out one point my original post neglected mention- the conventional warhead option. The author does mention that it might make more sense to tip these with conventional warheads or even no warhead at all. Not sure how ground forces or installations can withstand that sort of onslaught. From what it looks like, just one of these smashing into something at that velocity would unleash absurd amounts of destructive energy. A border screen is what I’m thinking, and you don’t even need to factor the high cost of processing the uranium or plutonium in the production estimates.

        As regards bob’s query as to the interest of China to have weapons of this type, I’d guess that my response would be ‘why wouldn’t they?’ Have you seen what’s going on in Hong Kong or the sudden intensity of stories about Uyghur internments lately? And how most of those articles are vague on facts and heavily slanted against the Chinese position, if not ahistoric as to why China would want to waste the time and resources ‘re-educating’ so many millions, as is their claim. We can’t even give our citizens free public college for 2 years, yet the Chinese are happy to house and train millions on the government’s largesse. Otherwise it looks like China is just trying to outdo us again to win the prisoners-per-capita contest. And who knows how much of this tech the Chinese (or the Russian’s for that matter) had gleaned from espionage sources. But I digress.

        Thanks bwilli123 for doing the legwork and sharing that link. Russia’s all like ‘look what I got!’ And while I thought mach 5 was their top speed, this article mentions a speed of mach 27. That’s just incomprehensibly fast. And it’s hard to deny a demonstration observed by actual US officials, unless of course the US officials are bald-faced liars and call it a rigged demo as you suggest they might. They should have intimate acquaintance with those rigged demonstrations vis-a-vis their SDI program.

        As someone who was in college when the USSR fell apart, the optimism I felt at the sudden break in the pace of cold war proliferation and escalation seems so ridiculously pipe-dreamy a quarter century hence.

        Reply
        1. bob

          “I’d guess that my response would be ‘why wouldn’t they?’”

          Are you a committee? Get back to me when you’re sure what your response would be.

          Reply
      1. BobW

        What kind of camo will the Space Force wear? Even sailors on ships wear camo now… silly idea. Leftover wizard gowns from Harry Potter movies, maybe?

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Trump’s Push For Lofty Nuclear Treaty Sparks Worry Over Current Deal”

    There will be no renewal of the New START treaty and Trump will pull out of it for sure. Negotiations for a new treaty would be almost as complicated as the Brexit negotiations and that is just between Russia and the US. To have a new one that will for the first time include another nuclear power – China – would take years even if China agreed. But that treaty ends February 5, 2021. At any rate, who would trust a treaty signed by Trump? And who can say that Congress would even approve it. Nope – that treaty is a dead duck.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      At any rate, who would trust a treaty signed by Trump?

      Should that be: At any rate, who would trust Trump to honor any treaty?

      The US appears to be the most likely to abrogate treaties, but I have no data to support that assertion.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Wasn’t that treaty negotiated by Obama? If so, given Tump’s visceral hatred of Obama, it’s dead already.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        Indeed, who would trust America to honor any treaty or agreement made by any president past or future? George W. Bush ignored the Geneva Convention, Barak H. Obama ignored the International Convention Against Torture (investigation of plausible accusations are mandatory), and Trump not only refused to follow the JCPOA, he imposed brutal sanctions on the Iranian people. He’s now threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq!!!

        Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Looks like the Iraqis didn’t fall for the oh so well meaning advice from the Atlantic Council piece in today’s links –

        The biggest favor the Iraqi Parliament can do for US President Donald J. Trump right now is to vote to evict the United States from Iraq. The US president has been clear on his preference for drawing down the US presence in the region rather than beefing it up. Right now, he is asking his advisers why the United States should stay in Iraq, where the two stated missions are to train the Iraqi Security Forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.

        That article really gets my hackles up. These people are delusional. The beginning of the piece –

        Iran believed that accelerating their disengagement from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and gradually escalating attacks on US allies, interests, and forces would force the US president to roll back some degree of sanctions.

        So the US breaking the deal unilaterally equates to Iran accelerating their disengagement!?!? These are supposedly the US’ best and brightest, insulting everyone’s intelligence?!?

        Reply
          1. Mel

            Parallel here with the psychological concept of the Double-Bind, elucidated by Gregory Bateson. The subject, or victim, is given two choices. Picking choice A, they lose; picking choice B they also lose. Bateson said that the only healthy choice is to stop playing the game. Also here with these official communiqués and positions. You have to keep open for yourself the possibility that the reason you don’t understand them is that they do NOT make sense.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              This suggests that the people making the statements and taking the positions are not right in the head. At the least, it suggest that they can doublethink themselves into disaster. Wonderful thought. It is one thing if the person is without power, influence, or any real choice, but it is another when those with the most power insist on creating and following through on bad choices.

              Reply
        1. Plenue

          I was going to link that very Atlantic Council article, but happy to see it had already ended up in the daily Links post.

          I kind of love it, actually. It epitomizes so much about how both utterly delusional and stupid our ‘elites’ are. That Thomas Friedman is a moron goes without saying, but these brain-geniuses who work for Think Tanks™ are every bit as stupid and insane.

          Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      Not praising or excusing Trump—-but as a political gawker this is fascinating—–

      as Trump has a shot of threading the proverbial needle by having a US withdrawal from Iraq and claiming (short-term) victory over Iran with the assassination.

      just saying

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The problem of course is that if they leave with the Iraqis pushing them out, it won’t look good at all for him, even for his anti-intervention supporters. If he is smart, he’d use the opportunity to arrange for a ‘declare victory and get the hell out’ operation. But I don’t think he is that surefooted.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I don’t know that it matters, as Americans are fairly tuned out as far as our misadventures overseas go.

          I’d wager 90% of us couldn’t place it on a map that only had delineated borders of all the countries in the world, and maybe 10% of the 90% would place Iraq in Mexico, yeah that’s how dumb we are when it comes to the geography of war.

          But, if a serviceman should come home from a tour of duty in a ‘stanbox to his unsuspecting family state-side, and there’s video of the surprise encounter, we’ll eat it up.

          Reply
        2. Louis Fyne

          you are correct. but Trump has been inoculated from any criticism from prestige media or think tank pundits that will resonate ‘normies’ due to years of bad faith reporting/punditry.

          A Trumpian message of: “We killed the Iranian top dog and bomb ’em back to the Stone Age if there’s any more trouble. Let’s pack up, go home and let them sort it out.” will resonate.

          just saying

          Reply
          1. TroyIA

            Another point that will resonate is I can almost guarantee the same people who have spent the last few days shouting that Trump is irrational and leading us to WW3 will do a 180 turn and criticize him for not escalating and instead removing troops from Iraq.

            Reply
          2. jsn

            I agree with you as far as this goes, but Trump’s only apparent consistency to date abroad has been his, no better way to put it, subservience to Netanyahu.

            The West Point Mob are all AIPAC cool aid kids who suffer from relying on politicized, ideological CIA/State information flows. One can only hope someone who’s feet occasionally touch the ground has a word with them. Bibi likely gets a get out of jail free card if the US runs a Korea style war on Iran.

            Within the imperial information bubble, the US still appears to hold all the cards and our decision makers all appear to have a psychotic indifference to risks of unintended consequences.

            Reply
          3. nippersdad

            The coordinated response to which will be that Trump is just covering his butt with the usual bluster and lies he is so well known for. He got thrown out of Iraq for perpetrating war crimes upon both the peoples of Iraq and Iran. He cannot prove that it was an Iran backed militia that attacked the base that the contractor was killed at; it could just as easily been ISIS that did the deed. The unprovoked killing of dozens of Iraqi affiliated militiamen five hundred miles away and the subsequent killing of a general operating under Iraqi diplomatic immunity are defacto war crimes that they have admitted to.

            The UN should have a field day when they tie this in with his having done the bidding of the usual suspects by coordinating his actions with Israel and SA while leaving everyone else out of the loop. He has already been accused of using the US military as mercenary adjuncts to foreign state policies, and this will just make the case more compelling. I would love to see Sanders run an ad on how Trump has rented out our military to the highest bidder………”Death before Saudi Arabia’s dishonor” doesn’t sound like a campaign message that will resonate with his base to me.

            Not to mention that the only real means of access to the theater in Syria is through Iraq. The actual message conveyed will be that Trump tucked his tail and ran in the face of a Middle East that has finally tired of his antics, and the Europeans, Russians and Chinese won’t lift finger to alter that view much, if at all. Pompeo is already complaining that they don’t have his back. Loss of face will be an inevitability for someone with the kind of thin skin that will not take it well. I foresee Trump tantrums in our future.

            That seems the most likely option, but really all Iran needs to do is pull back on its’ support for fighting ISIS and let the US take the blame for an increasingly grim quagmire that we no longer have the access to ameliorate, and then Iran swoops in to save the day. Either way, Iran wins.

            Reply
        1. Karla

          ” implemented immediately “

          So does that mean U.S. Troops are out 24 hours after the legally elected Prime Minister signs the bill that he authored?

          Imagine, there were no invasion,
          I know you can,
          Saddam in his palaces,
          The only man,
          Imagine our resources spent at home,
          You may call me a dreamer,
          But I’m not alone…

          Reply
  12. Off The Street

    Lambert,
    Here is an article by Edward Luttwak in the London Review of Books from 1994 about his view on the economic and societal dislocations of NAFTA. His warnings largely went unheeded at the time, and now the results are all too evident.

    Updating an old saying: Sin in haste, repent at leisure, if at all.

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      You’re right, this prophetic piece could be republished today with minimal editing, although Prof. Luttwak doesn’t really pursue the ‘fascism’ angle in the title enough (1990s clickbait?)

      The early Nineties recession was quite a sharp one at all levels; a lot of life plans got dramatically changed, my own included.

      Luttwak is a favorite of mine; I anchored much of my college thesis around his reelpolitik classic, “Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire”, which considered the question of how the Empire was able to police and defend its huge frontiers for so long with a relatively modest number of legions, plus auxiliaries.

      This led Luttwak to the core thesis that every chess player also understands: that military (and political) power is actually greatest when it has not yet been unleashed. Once it is committed, it is not only spent but its limitations become apparent. Ergo, pick your fights with great care, and win those decisively.

      P.S. I biked by those very otters (as well as a good sized monitor lizard) last weekend along the Kallang River, SG. The former are cute but also quite aggressive, like raccoons.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        “This led Luttwak to the core thesis that every chess player also understands: that military (and political) power is actually greatest when it has not yet been unleashed. Once it is committed, it is not only spent but its limitations become apparent. Ergo, pick your fights with great care, and win those decisively.”

        Exactly my thoughts… Once the power has been fully unleashed – and is, thus, fully visible and perceived by others – it may be (and will be) challenged. Once it is challenged – and has to be defended – the empire has lost. (Mind you, perhaps not right away, but the fix is in.)
        (Though small consolation for us, living. The transition time is the most painful one.)

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          i think once they bombed hiroshima and nagasaki that increased their political power a great deal. perhaps it was a unique historical context, but i just don’t see this as a very useful principle.
          it may be useful in analyzing how the u.s. conducts foreign policy because it is incompetent, and this in itself encourages retaliation.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            You aren’t the first to raise that good point, but had the atom bomb never existed, America would still have bestrode the postwar world like a colossus.

            While on the surface visibly proving out an unknown technology is ‘power enhancing’, on the other hand the act of unleashing it gives the enemy time to devise – or believe he has devised – counters, or to copy the innovation and thereby level the playing field. So the unleashing had better be good: that’s what Rumsfeld alluded to with ‘Shock and Awe’ (although he misapplied the principle, as that had already occurred in Gulf War 1).

            Now as you note, the Bomb is an extreme case, and credible ‘counters’ when you are end of war Japan are pretty hard to dream up. However, I can readily imagine the hardcore bushido militarists, given time, implementing forced evacuation of cities and industrial production in caves (as the Germans resorted to for the V2), as well as rushing deployment of chemical and bio ‘deterrent’ weapons they already knew of.

            That’s a counterargument I’ve seen to the humanitarian argument that the Bomb should have been “demoed” on a small island offshore Japan instead of wiping out cities. Such a demo could have been hidden from the Emperor, and given the fanatics time to dream up ‘counters’ and suppress or murder pro-peace advocates (the militarists tried that anyway). At that point, the risk is that even hitting numerous cities might not trigger surrender.

            That’s the concept, fwiw. These principles aren’t universal solvents, and political science… isn’t really.

            Reply
    2. flora

      Great link. Good description of the workings of unfettered capitalism’s ongoing third industrial revolution. Article is still true today except the jobs and job security destruction has gotten worse. The gig economy hadn’t yet been named when Luttwak wrote this. Deaths from despair, from social and financial dislocation, hadn’t started showing up in the statistical life expectancy charts. Those things would take another 25 years to appear. Thanks.

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    I don’t think that Trump had a plan of what to do after this murder. First he tried to make a deal by convincing Iran not doing payback in exchange for lifting economic sanctions (which could be re-imposed overnight later). Nope. He then tried to send ‘friendly’ countries to help make some sort of deal but they were told politely to go pound sand. Now he is threatening Iran, including its cultural sites, saying-

    “….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)”

    Of course they could have sent back their own message-

    “….targeted 53 American sites (representing 1953 when Iranian democracy was taken by America many years ago)”

    Pompeo was saying that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were onboard with Trump (as is ISIS who are now celebrating) but the Europeans are backing away from this type of crazy. Europe will not send any military ships to be part of a US squadron now. He complained “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well. We’re trying to get Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.” Yeah, by killing their people because that always works. The US will be on its own with this one-

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/04/mike-pompeo-european-response-to-suleimani-killing

    The US position has collapsed in Iraq, all American civilians are bailing, training has been stopped and all US troops are hunkering down. As Judith mentioned above, today the Iraqi Parliament has decided that enough is enough. Those thousands of troops heading to the middle east right now are irrelevant. Not unless the US wants to fight and occupy Iraq for a second time. I can’t see that happening in a campaign year for Trump. But he did boast of sending ‘brand new beautiful equipment’ Iran’s way.

    Meanwhile, in totally unrelated news, ‘Islamist group Al-Shabaab attacks military base in Kenya that houses US & local troops’-

    https://www.rt.com/news/477492-al-shabaab-attack-kenya/

    Begun it has.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Max Blumenthal put it well on Jimmy Dore’s show – its entirely possible that Trump made the decision while eating a Happy Meal watching Fox News. ‘Kill an Iranian bad guy? Sure! Go ahead!’. The depths of his ignorance are profound, and the lunatics he’s surrounded by himself are even more dangerous, because they are stupid vicious people convinced of their own genius.

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I heard the President wanted to land on an aircraft carrier with a large banner across the superstructure that proclaimed after the assassination:

          Omission Accomplished

          Reply
      1. Kurtismayfield

        Belittling your political opponents like this does one thing.. it makes you underestimate them. This is so not constructive at all, and to continue to do this is just more signs that Blumenthal and the like are not taking politics seriously.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        Well except various inside sources who have no reason to ‘fess up, save this must be known by so many people that they are trying to get in front of it, told the NYT that whacking Soleimani was presented to Trump as an option and then they defend it with “Oh yeah, we always tell Presidents the crazypants ideas too, better to steer them to the ones we prefer.” As if it wasn’t well recognized by now that Trump almost reflexively does the most outlandish thing possible?

        Reply
      1. The Kev Rev

        Since when did Saudi Wahabis ever care if Americans ever got killed? At best they regard Americans as the paid help.

        Reply
    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)

      Rebranding this as Hostage Crisis 2.0 is the most disheartening sign for me yet that we’re watching checkers versus chess players. Then there’s all the serious people who really think the Iranian youth are just waiting for a chance to enjoy Blue Jeans, Coca Cola, and Rock and Roll. I’m trying to think of any other empires that were this delusional about facts on the ground in the end days.

      Any news from our derivatives markets? I’m thinking I should relax with some lateral worrying.

      Reply
    3. flora

      My first thought was wth was he thinking (was he thinking)?
      My second thought was remembering some bbc miniseries from years ago (can’t remember the name now, sorry) about a British PM the UK intel services wanted ousted for some reason or other.

      Said PM was popular, so the intel guys hatched a plan. They got the PM to OK bombing a foreign military truck in some far off spot that was supposed to be carrying bad guys in a UK controlled area. PM kept asking intel ‘are you sure?’ , ‘are you sure the truck is in our area, not over the demarkation line in their area, which would be a huge mistake to bomb in their area?’ Oh, yeah, said all intel chiefs (with sidelong glances at each other). They pushed PM to pull the trigger now, now, now. And…. guess what… the truck was not in the UK control area, it was outside the control area. oops. Suddenly intel is saying ‘oh my g, you’ve made a horrible mistake, PM. You’ve made a horrible, terrible mistake. Our allies will never trust you now. You really should step down now. You must step down. ‘

      I don’t think our intel guys are clever enough to come up with a plot device like that. This sure looks like life imitating art, at least on the surface.

      Reply
    4. wilroncanada

      All he has to the, The Rev Kev, is to blame that on Iran too. As far as most Americans know, Kenya is another Arab state , a neighbour again to Iran. Most US politicos, including E Warren, will assume that if the US bombs a few black people, he is torching Iranian stooges.

      Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          “US Congress heard to ask ‘We have US soldiers in Kenya as well?’” Unbelievable, but I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            That last bit was me mocking how when four US soldiers were killed in Niger back in October of 2017, leading US lawmakers admitted that they had no idea they were even in Niger.

            It seems the Pentagon does not always let on where US troops are serving in the same way that the Pentagon gets to decide if lawmakers are allowed to visit places like Iraq or not.

            Reply
            1. xkeyscored

              Oh, I see.
              Still, I’d apply just the same comment to lawmakers’ ignorance of US troops in Niger. I knew about it, and it’s not remotely connected to my day job. If they can’t be bothered to find out what US troops are up to and where, choosing instead to take the Pentagon as their sole source of information, they’re worse than useless, way worse. But I think we knew that already.

              Reply
  14. james wordsworth

    There is an excellent BBC documentary from early this year on Suleimani (available on BBC iplayer for those that have access). In it we find out that after 9/11 Suleimani offered to help the US against Bin Laden and in Afghanistan (per Ryan Crocker a USA diplomat). Negotiations were going well until Bush came out with his Axis of Evil speech. Looking back a massive massive miscalculation by Bush and his ilk. The US had at its fingertips the ability to work with Iran and avoid the whole Iraq mess, but no … stupidity won.

    Then there is a the part where the Kurds in Erbil facing Isis with no weapons called up Suleimani and he said give me a list of what you need. In two days the Kurds were fully armed, while the US was still dithering.It was Suleimani that drove the fight against Isis.

    We do not live in a black and white world. Trump has unleashed a potential disaster akin to Bush. I expect Iran’s reaction to be epic.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s only a miscalculation from the rationale interests of the nation-state. Cheney likely wanted to destroy evidence of KBR violating sanctions and Shrub was a nutter with his Gog and Magog delusions. Rumsfeld wanted fodder for the evening news remembering 41’s collapse after he didn’t have ready footage of blowing stuff up.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Let’s not forget Chertoff, aka “$keletor”… for pushing his X-ray emitters, to the glowing ‘benefit of the mopes’ (I mean, who needs dirty bombs anyway .. right ??)… nudged on, wink wink … with the help of the notion of the cuddly blanket wrapper known as “Uberland Security” … which the DemsCons wholeheartedly lapped up, like dogs to vomit !

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The comical evil nature of the Shrub administration is so staggering one actually forgets from time to time. I feel like people refuse to believe it because they lacked a Volcano Secret Base with their heads carved into the cone because there is no difference between the Shrub Administration and Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom (besides the relative intelligence of the Legion of Doom).

          The worst part is Rumsfeld was upfront with his reasons for Iraq.

          Reply
    2. james wordsworth

      Excellent article on Suleimani: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/09/30/the-shadow-commander?verso=true

      In the chaotic days after the attacks of September 11th, Ryan Crocker, then a senior State Department official, flew discreetly to Geneva to meet a group of Iranian diplomats. “I’d fly out on a Friday and then back on Sunday, so nobody in the office knew where I’d been,” Crocker told me. “We’d stay up all night in those meetings.” It seemed clear to Crocker that the Iranians were answering to Suleimani, whom they referred to as “Haji Qassem,” and that they were eager to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban.

      The negotiator told Crocker that, at great political risk, Suleimani had been contemplating a complete reëvaluation of the United States, saying, “Maybe it’s time to rethink our relationship with the Americans.” The Axis of Evil speech brought the meetings to an end. Reformers inside the government, who had advocated a rapprochement with the United States, were put on the defensive. Recalling that time, Crocker shook his head. “We were just that close,” he said. “One word in one speech changed history.”

      Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Frum has already stated how he would like to visit anext Iran free from the supreme religious council, so yeah…these people don’t have any kind of morality or self reflection.

            Reply
      1. Plenue

        Reading the whole article, I came to a sudden realization, completely obvious and self-evident in hindsight, that US foreign policy over the last twenty years has been to attempt to fight Sunni extremism, while providing constant diplomatic cover for its Gulf State ‘allies’ who are the primary sources of that extremism. All the while shunning or making an enemy of the Shia who are enemies of Sunni terrorism, up to and including those same Gulf States.

        What a different world we might be living in if we had reestablished ties and cooperation with Iran and stopped coddling the countries that serve as a factory for the terrorists we keep attempting to eliminate.

        Why is it treated as common sense that the Persian oil state should be our enemy, while the Arab oil state that caused 9/11 should be our ally? Why couldn’t we have reversed that? The oil is going to be sold and we’re going to buy it regardless.

        Reply
    3. kiwi

      Epic in what way? Killing people? The oil trade?

      How many years (decades may be a better way to put it) has the opposition over there been chanting ‘death to America’ and what impact has that chant/emotion had on the US?

      I don’t recall how many US (and allies) lives have been lost in battles, and the destructiveness seems to affect the populations over there much more – since they are stuck in the middle of it all.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        911 was epic in its own way. the u.s. is brewing up worldwide opposition. the us has not won a real war since ww2. i don’t want to find out what epic will mean in this context, but i guess we all will.

        Reply
            1. Bill Carson

              Yes, and I guess you could say we did a pretty good job of bombing whole cities in Germany and Japan (even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki), but in terms of the human cost, while 418,500 Americans were killed in WWII (both military and civilian), 20 times as many Germans were killed, 50 times as many Chinese were killed, and 57 times as many Russians were killed.

              When the dust cleared, Americans represented only 0.7% of the lives lost in the war.

              Reply
      2. Plenue

        “How many years (decades may be a better way to put it) has the opposition over there been chanting ‘death to America’”

        Gee, wonder why they might hate the US. It sure is a big mystery…

        “what impact has that chant/emotion had on the US?”

        None. Most Americans can’t even find Iran on a map.

        Reply
    4. Geo

      “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.”
      – Bin Laden in 2004 speaking about how it’s “easy to provoke and bait” America and keep us “embroiled in the swamps of Iraq.”

      My guess is this will be Iran’s model for countering America as well… Just hand us more rope to hang ourselves.

      https://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/01/binladen.tape/

      Reply
    5. Yves Smith

      Wow, I didn’t know it was Suleimani post 9/11.

      I was hardly into this sort of thing then but I can confirm your account based on stuff I saw contemporaneously. Stratfor, which now and I assume then has among other things Israeli intel sources, was writing almost daily about “the coming US/Iran alliance” by virtue of how helpful Iran was being with post 9/11 intel. And yes, that Axis of Evil speech blindsided them and put an end to that.

      Reply
  15. Jeremy Grimm

    So much fire and smoke on the right-hand over Suleimani — makes me wonder what might the left-hand be doing under the table?

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      I just listened to a report on Iran’s capability to undertake cyber attacks and one of the scenarios of the discussion was about hacking the electrical grid of a major American city and what that would look like. There’s lots to worry about here.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        A crazy thought — the situation opens opportunity to other players besides Iran to launch cyberattacks, and escape being held responsible while casting suspicion on Iran. The beauty of a cyberattack is that it’s initial origin and the perpetrator can be very difficult — near impossible — to identify.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          A certain Mediterranean (choke) democracy (choke) has long since demonstrated (and sold, too, to others around the globe) its proficiency at cyberwarfare. And also at nesting its operatives in the bosom of our very own Homeland. And training police in the fine arts of population control.

          Reply
  16. Oregoncharles

    “Iranian Revenge Will Be A Dish Best Served Cold”
    The trouble with this analysis, though it makes sense, is that there is more than one aggrieved party – Iraq, as well as Iran. Iraq’s response has already started, with Parliament’s vote to evict the US forces. There will be more; for one, Kataib Hesbollah has been attacked directly and repeatedly, so will respond. I noted that the demonstrators at the embassy, though many wore uniforms, were not armed, so their occupation was mainly for show. But Kataib is a military force under attack; how long will they hold back? I suspect we’ll find out how good a fortress that embassy really is. And I hope there aren’t any isolated detachments of Americans out chasing ISIS – they now have more enemies than one.

    Pompeo was making harrumphing noises about the eviction notice, so things might get nasty very quickly. I don’t think the US forces in Iraq are anywhere near strong enough to fend off a mass attack. Trump may have restarted the Iraq War. And all the Iranians have to do is stand by and smile.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Yes, the media is very deliberately framing everything as ‘Iran, Iran, Iran’. But we just straight up murdered dozens of Iraqi soldiers, including multiple high officials, and pissed all over their sovereignty. Iraq has agency in all of this, and the media or DC saying anything they do is just Iranian manipulation isn’t going to change that.

      When US soldiers and government officials in Iraq start getting killed (and the attacks have already started), most likely that will be a predominately homegrown Iraqi gig, though Iran will certainly not disprove.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        The fact that it is being done by Iraqis will make no difference. The crowd at the embassy was Iraqi prople protesting the killing by American airstrikes of 25 Iraqi people. Trump called them Iranians. Whether he actually doesn’t know the difference or is just trying to convince the American public that it really is Iran attacking us, he’s lying. He will continue to lie and so will Pompeo and all the mainstream media. The decision has already been taken to invade Iran and the Blob is not going to allow anything to stop it.

        Reply
  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    I wonder if the More Humane Economy post might be a good place to permit comments. Would the hi-valu comments sure to appear there be enough to outway the hi-antivalu troll-trash which would also appear?

    It would seem to be a perfect place for thoughts on how ” more humane economy actualisers” could actualize stubs of a more humane economy for building out from.

    And perhaps the phrase ” humane economy” could be crammed into the one word “humaneconomy”?
    To be contrasted with the “anti-humaneconomy”?

    Reply
  18. Synoia


    Trump has no interest in seeking wise counsel, so influential senators must force him to listen to it, to stop his rush to war with Iran. https://t.co/niCxVZ8YYh

    — New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) January 5, 2020

    Reread the above. Where is this wise counsel to be found? With the apparatchiks who want to impeach Trump because he didn’t want to go to war in Ukraine? Where, exactly?

    There are none because the Israel lobby wants a war with their existential enemy, Iran.

    Ignoring that Iran is a nation with a historical propensity to trade and bargain (negotiate a good deal). It has been a few thousand years since the Assyrians and Persians went about conquering.

    I personally suspect their change of heart had much to do with the silk road trade.

    Traders to Persian Emperor: The wives prefer trade, too many dead sons! Stop truing to conquer Greece, and let’s sell them silk and china (pottery)……

    Reply
  19. anon in so cal

    Bernie Sanders email:

    “Two new polls came out this morning showing Bernie tied for first in Iowa, and with a slight lead in New Hampshire.

    CBS has it all tied up in Iowa: 23% for Bernie, 23% for Biden, 23% for Buttigieg. And in New Hampshire, it’s Bernie at 27%, Biden at 25%, and Warren at 18%.”

    Reply
  20. Plenue

    >When will Bernie Sanders get the scrutiny that top-tier candidates deserve? Jennifer Rubin, WaPo

    Commenting on this in the hopes that it doesn’t get completely drowned out by all the Iraq news.

    The article reads to me like the author (or at least whoever told her to write it; Rubin herself might not care) is scared shitless by Sanders. They’re having to admit he’s a real candidate now, and are desperate for someone, anyone to ‘vett’ him into the ground. “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome senator?”

    Sorry lady, but Sanders has been saying the same things for about 50 years. And his policy record shows he walks his talk. You’re not going to get far trying to attack him as a hypocrite.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I see this as setting the stage for a “Big Lie” campaign against Sanders. I mean BIG
      lie, as in something like Sanders being a ‘sleeper’ agent of the old KGB.
      More and more I feel that Bezos is ‘channeling’ the spirit of W R Hearst. “You supply the tweets. I’ll supply the war.”

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        Clearly the KGB itself became the biggest sleeper agent of all. Surely even now it slumbers somewhere, waiting to emerge and eat us all.

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The problem is the “big lie” is already out there. These people are so out of touch they actually believe the “Bernie Sanders is an anti-Semite” lie works or expect people to be horrified by how Sanders said something nice about Castro once.

        Reply
        1. Hepativore

          I mentioned this before months ago, but what would stop the DNC from impeaching Sanders if he does win the election? The DNC might try and cook up some theory that Sanders is in league with Putin and Trump or some other idiotic charge. The problem is that I think there would be a very good chance of the hypothetical impeachment succeeding, as Republicans would also be very eager to dispose of an avowed “socialist” like Sanders. Because Sanders has ruffled so many feathers among the donor class, I would not be surprised if there was a successful bipartisan effort to impeach and remove Sanders from office.

          This would be an unlikely scenario, but the DNC is not going to let the chance for some good, old-fashioned, Russia-baiting pass them by and Sanders is public enemy number one to them.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Nothinpg just voters, but despite the 10% class, the bulk of reliable Team Blue voters believe their candidates are simply swindled by the GOP. Attacking Sanders like that would produce unholy hell. Standing with Republicans…there is a reason they don’t trumpet their MIC spending anymore.

            Also it wouldn’t be the DNC, it’s basically an arm of the Democratic President. All those people will be out of work.

            Reply

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