Category Archives: Iran

John McCain: A Hero? Let’s Take a Closer Look

One of the United State’s sacred cows has shed this mortal coil; we will not take the time to speculate on where his next stop might be. But we are all being bombarded with accolades on the legendary, although mythical, ‘greatness’ of the dearly departed Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain.

We will attempt here to take a more unbiased look at McCain, and see 1) where all this hero worship is coming from, and 2), why it is completely undeserved.

McCain seems to have acquired his legendary ‘greatness’ by being a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five years. His plane was shot down while he was dropping bombs on innocent farmers and their families, in a country that in no way threatened the mighty U.S., and where McCain and the other hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers that were sent to terrorize Vietnam never had any business being. One might say he was a victim of U.S. imperialism, but if so, he was a willing victim. But none of this denotes heroism.

Now let us look behind the myth, at the reality. There are a number of areas worth exploring, but time and space will limit us to just a few.

  • Civil Rights:
    • When Congress was voting to make the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday, then member of the House of Representatives McCain joined 89 of his colleagues in opposing it. The bill passed by a vote of 338 to 90. When he was running for president in 2008, he stated that his position had ‘evolved’, and “We can be slow as well to give greatness its due….” But it does appear that he wasn’t slow to give political expediency its due.
    • In 2008, while the U.S. was being threatened with the possibility of a McCain presidency, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rates released its annual rating of all members of Congress. McCain scored 22%; his opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, scored 100%.
  • Gay Rights:
    • The great hero opposed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, a highly-flawed law but better than what was previously codified.
    • He opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was introduced to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
    • He opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, and supported an initiative in 2006 to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona (the ban failed).
  • Human Rights:
    • He supported Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights (at that time), having killed thousands of Chilean civilians and having incarcerated tens of thousands more, all for political reasons.
    • McCain was considered a ‘great friend’ of Israel, a nation that has violated the basic human rights of the Palestinians in the most unspeakable ways for decades. He was described the same way by officials of the Saudi Arabian government, another nation noted for it abominable human rights violations.
    • He opposed efforts to close the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture center, Guantanamo Bay, thereby endorsing the use of torture.
  • Ethics:
    • This man who is being lauded as a hero was a member of the Keating Five, a scandal in which five U.S. senators were accused of intervening on behalf of Charles Keating, Jr., who was the chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was under investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. When Lincoln collapsed, over 20,000 bond holders lost all or part of their life savings, and the collapse cost the U.S. government $3.4 billion. Keating’s prior political contributions to McCain totalled at least $112,000, not including elaborate trips for McCain and his family that Keating provided at his palatial estate in the Bahamas, flying them there in his private jet. Although McCain was not charged, he was criticized by the investigating committee for using ‘poor judgment’.
    • McCain supported the illegal sale of weapons to U.S.-funded and U.S.-trained terrorist groups seeking the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. The Iran-Contra scandal was a major blot (among others) on the administration of Ronald Reagan.
  • Hypocrisy
    • McCain once referred to the Confederate flag as ‘very offensive’, but later called it a ‘symbol of heritage’.
    • He called Jerry Falwell an ‘agent of intolerance’ in 2000, but gave the 2006 commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University.
    • He first supported an immigration policy that included guest workers and amnesty, but later said that, if elected president, he’d call out the U.S. army to close off the Mexican border.
    • McCain moved from opposing President George Bush’s ‘temporary’ tax cuts for the rich to supporting making them permanent.

We could add McCain’s opposition to health care for all U.S. citizens, and his opposition to net neutrality and a federal minimum wage. And we have him to thank for propelling that national embarssment, Sarah Palin, onto the world stage.

This writer has commented previously on the U.S.’s very successful public relations operation, the one that proclaims the nation to be a beacon of peace and security, a bastion of human rights and the envy of the world. These fairy tales aren’t believed much outside of U.S. borders, but are swallowed, hook, line and sinker, within them. That PR expertise has worked overtime to portray a corrupt, opportunistic official with a history of serial murder and support for the war crimes of others as a ‘hero’.

A quick online search for a definition of ‘hero’ results in this: “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

How much courage does it take to fly over farm fields and drop bombs on defenseless people?

What achievements has McCain accomplished? He has helped prevent citizens from obtaining health care or marrying the person of their choice; he worked to slow the progress of civil rights for people of African descent; he supported nations guilty of the most heinous of war crimes; he enabled the torture of political prisoners.

What ‘noble qualities’ has he demonstrated? He treated himself and his family to lavish vacations in exchange for quashing a federal investigation of his benefactor. He traded in a faithful wife for a younger, more attractive version.

John McCain is dead; his family may have reason to grieve but, from this writer’s perspective, no one else does.

 

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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The Hypocrisy of Trump on Iran

As United States President Donald Trump slowly descends into madness in front of the entire world, he seems determined to destroy Iran in the process. This would keep intact the U.S. government’s age-old policy of destroying countries that dare to defy it in any way, regardless of the toll in human suffering that that causes.

We’ll look at a few of the statements made by Trump and his various minions, and then compare them to that illusive concept that he seems to be completely unaware of: reality.

  • S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas ‘tweeted’ this: “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the courageous Iranian people protesting their corrupt regime.”

Apparently, according to the august Mr. Cotton, standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with people means issuing brutal sanctions that cause untold suffering.

Government officials say that sanctions are benign, that they only target the government.

However, the U.S. has been highly critical of an organization called ‘Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order’ (EIKO). When EIKO was established, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.” By targeting EIKO, the U.S. is intentionally targeting the innocent people of Iran.

In this regard, author David Swanson said this: “The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that’s what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack.” Two points are worth considering here: 1) sanctions hurt the common man and woman more than they do any government, and 2) the Iranian people have a fierce pride in their nation, and will not succumb to U.S. blackmail.

And let’s pause for a moment and consider Cotton’s idea of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ regime. Was it not elected in free and democratic elections? Did the Iranian government not work smoothly with the previous U.S. administration, several other nations and the European Union to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S., under Trump, violated?

If Cotton wants to discuss ‘corrupt’ regimes, he’d be better served to start at home. Did not Trump assume office after losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes? Is not the Trump administration involved in numerous scandals reflecting the president’s own personal corruption, as well as that of several of his appointees? Has not the U.S. government supported terrorist groups in Syria? If Cotton believes that Iran is corrupt and the U.S. isn’t, he has an odd opinion of a ‘corrupt regime, indeed!

  • Trump himself seems to govern by ‘tweet’. On July 24, he ‘tweeted’ the following in response to a ‘tweet’ from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, unlike Trump, was elected with the majority vote: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” (Please note that the upper-case letters are Trump’s, not this writer’s).

Trump is hardly one to be talking about ‘demented words of violence and death’. The U.S. is bombing several countries, continues its brutality in Afghanistan, and is threatening Iran.

And what was it that Rouhani said that was so terribly offensive? Exactly this: Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.” These words seem to invite the U.S. to make its own selection: start a deadly and devastating war with Iran, or reach out in peace for trade and mutual security. Trump, obviously, is far more interested in the former.

  • The U.S.’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, said this: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Let’s look at another country that does things ‘to the negative’ and suffers no consequences. Israel occupies the West Bank of Palestine in violation of international law; it blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law; it targets medics and members of the press, in violation of international law. During its periodic bombing campaigns in Gaza, it targets schools, places of worship, residential neighborhoods and United Nations refugee centers, all in violation of international law. It arrests and holds without charge men, women and children,  all in violation of international law. Why does Israel not “pay a price like few countries have ever before”? Instead, it gets more financial aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. Could the vast amounts of money that pro-Israel lobbies contribute to U.S. government officials possibly be the cause of this?

And should we mention Saudi Arabia? Women are stoned for adultery, and public executions are common. Its human rights record is as bad as Israel’s, and it is run by a crown prince, rather than a democratically-elected leader, but the U.S. says nothing critical of it.

Additionally, the U.S. is backing the terrorist group, Mujahedeed-e-Khalq (MEK). This group is external to Iran, and its stated goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. Perhaps Trump wants to replicate the ‘success’ of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who overthrew the stable government of Iraq, thus causing the deaths of at least a million people (some estimates are much higher), the displacement of at least two million more, and who never cared about the chaos he left behind that remains today. This is what Trump wants for Iran.

With the U.S. violating the internationally-accepted JCPOA, which was endorsed by the United Nations, the country has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Diplomatically, this is a problem for the other nations that are part of the JCPOA, since they all wish to remain in the agreement, but Trump has threatened them with sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran. In Iran, the sanctions damage the economy, which is Trump’s goal; he hopes, naively, that the Iranian people will blame their government, rather than the real culprit – the United States – for these problems.

What is behind Trump’s hostility to Iran? Prior to the signing of the JCPOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress, urging that body to disapprove of the agreement. He is the leader of one of the only two countries on the planet that endorsed Trump’s violation of international law in his withdrawal from the JCPOA (Saudi Arabia was the other country that supported Trump’s decision). Trump has surrounded himself with Zionists: his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law, Jared Kushner; John Bolton, and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to name only a few. These are the people who are in Trump’s inner circle, and whose advice and counsel he seems to take at face value. These are the people who support the concept of Israel as a nation-state for the Jews, which by definition makes it apartheid. These are the people who disdain international law, and want to continue ‘negotiations’ that only buy time for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land. And these are the people who want Israel to have complete hegemony in the Middle East; its main rival is Iran, so in their twisted, Zionist minds, Iran must be destroyed. The amount of suffering that would cause is never factored into their deadly equations.

With a president as unstable and erratic as Trump, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy what he will do next. But hostility toward Iran is one thing if it is just words; any attack on that nation would cause more trouble and problems than Trump can possibly imagine. Iran is a powerful country in its own right, but is also allied with Russia, and any aggression towards Iran will bring the strength of the Russian military into play. This is the Pandora’s box that Trump is threatening to open.

Originally published by The Balkan Post.

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Filed under Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Political Musings, U.S. Politics

Pity the Democrats and Republicans

It is a rare occasion when one can only pity both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) has hitched its rather dilapidated wagon to a racist, sexist, narcissistic man-child of a star who has only the most tenuous grasp on reality. But it is not them we are here to discuss today. It is the Democrats, the Party that, had it been a person, would never have been voted most likely to succeed upon graduation from high school.

Currently, one would think that the Democrats would be poised for great success. Mid-term elections are approaching; the president, Donald Trump, has record-breaking low approval scores, and there is dissatisfaction with him from coast to coast. Now, one might think, is the time for the Democrats to clearly articulate their platform, allowing the populace to know exactly where the party stands, and what it will do to achieve its goals. This might include such popular items as sensible gun-control; recognition of Palestine’s human-rights struggles and Israel’s violations of international law; income equality, gender equality, and an end to institutionalized racism, among other things. These, according to public opinion polls, are topics that resonate with voters who mainly identify as Democratic.

But no! Horror of horrors! Best, according to the Party leaders, to lay low, and allow dissatisfaction with the Republicans to drive voters into the arms of the Democratic Party. Maintain the status quo, don’t rock the boat, steady as she goes, and adhere to every other tired out cliché that means don’t show any backbone. So what if voters enthusiastically evicted a ten-term, good-old-boy Congress member from New York, in favor of a socialist Democrat! Who cares that a large swath of the Party still feels the deep wounds of betrayal from the Party’s manipulation of delegates to give the 2016 presidential nomination to the candidate who is corporate America incarnate, Hillary Clinton, instead of the (somewhat) more progressive Bernie Sanders! The power brokers, such as they are, in the Democratic Party are not willing to surrender their positions, and are terrified to risk what they have by showing anything related to statesmanship. Those currently in power have been elected and re-elected despite their namby-pamby positions, or non-positions, on the current issues of the day. Why do anything differently now?

Well, we can answer that question, although the people who really need to hear the answer won’t bother to pay any attention. We’ll look at a few factors that one would think would cause the Party that claims to be progressive (you can stop laughing now) to take careful note.

  • Following a long series of mass shootings, high school students in Florida finally said ‘enough’. Several of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre travelled around the country, saying that if the current Congress won’t act, a new Congress must be installed. Millions of people in this age cohort will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2018. Study after study shows that they are overwhelmingly to the left of where the Democratic Party is today. They probably won’t stay home, but they may seek third-party candidates, so they can vote for someone they actually believe in, rather than the slightly lesser of two evils. But if Democrats renew calls for sensible gun control, including the banning of semi-automatic weapons, they may find these new voters flocking to the polls to vote for them.
  • Israeli government officials are having apoplexy over what they correctly see as an increasing disconnect between Jewish-Americans and the racist, apartheid Jewish state of Israel. In the aforementioned 14th Congressional district of New York, twenty-year incumbent Joe Crowley, financed in part by AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been highly critical of Israel. Might not some other candidates want to take a page from her playbook, and speak out for human rights and international law? Or are even those topics too controversial for Democrats to address?
  • Polls indicate that most voters aren’t thrilled with the newly-enacted tax reform (Surprise! Surprise!), which was an early Christmas present to the rich. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan showed how out-of-touch he was after the tax bill became law, when he ‘tweeted’ this: “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for a year.” So while this secretary received a whopping $78.00 annual raise, the richest 1% of the nation’s population receive about 34% of the total benefits from the multi-billion dollar tax reform. A platform by the Democrats to really reform taxes would probably resonate, even with people who are $78.00 richer as a result of the GOP version.
  • Trump and Company are beating the war drums for ‘regime change’ of the democratically-elected government of Iran. Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against the wishes and advice of nearly the entire international community, and his own military advisors. Wouldn’t a plank in the Democratic platform that says that Democrats will work to reinstate U.S. involvement in the JCPOA, and attempt to prevent chaos in yet another Middle Eastern country, possibly have wide appeal? Yes, U.S. citizens, inexplicably, seem to love their wars, but a new breed of voter is on the horizon, and will be pulling levers in voting booths in just three short months. They may be a bit less enthused about sending U.S. soldiers to die for Israel, whose influence was a main factor in Trump’s decision to abandon the JCPOA.
  • The Republicans have made good on their promise to deprive millions of people of health care. Democrats who will unflinchingly condemn those actions, and vow to reinstate the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), or something better, may find unexpected popularity.
  • Young people often graduate from universities and colleges in the U.S. with crippling debt. Even if the free tuition advocated by Ocasio-Cortez and others isn’t possible at present (it is, but this writer doesn’t see the Democratic Party ever going that far), couldn’t interest rates be lowered? Why is it necessary for lenders to make huge profits from the efforts of the next generation to become educated? And couldn’t there be some kind of debt forgiveness program? Even 25% would be a windfall to many people.

These are just a few of the many areas in which the Democrats could differentiate themselves from the Republicans. Will they do it? Will the Party unite, look at not only what the people want, but also what is morally right, and stand up for those principles? When pigs fly. Government officials today (this writer refuses to refer to them as ‘representatives’, since they represent only special interests and anything that will benefit them personally, and not the voting populace) are only concerned with keeping their high-paying jobs with almost unlimited benefits. The idea of public service, working for the greater good, or sacrificing for those who are less fortunate are alien concepts to them.

It is possible that the Democratic Party will take control of one or both houses of Congress as a result of the November elections. If that happens, not much will change. The NRA (National Rifle Association), AIPAC, various military lobbies and others will still be the ones actually in control. The U.S. voters will have participated once again in what government officials proudly and disingenuously point to as a hallmark of U.S. democracy, but what is in reality an exercise in futility. With each election, the names may change, but all the injustice, domestically and internationally, continues.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Palestine, Political Musings, U.S., U.S. Politics, Uncategorized

Presidential Candidates 2020: a Preview of the Democratic Contenders

Apparently, two years out isn’t too early to start speculating on who the hapless Democrats may run for president in 2020. Let’s remember that in the last seven elections, they have only been able to elect two presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), despite only losing the popular vote once (George Bush’s second term, and the legitimacy of that is not something we will explore right now). Whoever they run may in two years may win the popular vote, but still not move into the White House. This is democracy, U.S. style.

So who are the candidates currently on the horizon? Please take a moment to prepare yourselves emotionally, since the picture this writer is about to paint is not a pretty one. In fact, it is downright terrifying.

  • Bernie Sanders. Yes, the darling of whatever remains of the leftist part of the Democratic Party still sees Sanders as the savior. The ‘Bernistas’ received a shot in the arm with the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York’s 14th district primary in June, when the much-feared word ‘socialism’ began its rehabilitation.

What does Bernie have going against him? For one thing, by the time the 2020 election rolls around, he will be 79 years old. Secondly, it will be difficult for some people to forget his enthusiastic endorsement of the woman who cheated him out of the nomination in 2016. It’s not as if there were no other candidates he could have endorsed. Gloria La Riva, who represented the Party for Socialism and Liberation, comes to mind. Her platform was one that anyone of intelligence and compassion would support.

  • Joe Biden. Now there’s a name to bring excitement to any dedicated Democrat. Don’t the words ‘Joe Biden’ conjure up change, dynamism and charisma? Can’t the reader imagine young people throwing themselves enthusiastically behind a ticket led by the former vice president? No, this writer can’t, either. If the party wants to once again shoot itself in the foot, nominating Biden might be just the ticket.

We will also mention that the former vice president will be a few weeks shy of his 78th birthday when some small percent of eligible voters next cast a presidential ballot. This is not to imply that a 78-year-old can’t be energic, sharp as a whip and ready to run the U.S; but that doesn’t describe Biden.

  • Hillary Clinton. You were warned; a terrifying picture was about to unfold to your view. Yes, there are rumors abounding now that Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State, will once again toss her tiara into the ring for another go-round with Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party really wants to commit suicide, surely there are less painful ways of doing so. Clinton lost the election (granted, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes; see note above about U.S-style democracy) to one of the least qualified, most dangerous candidates ever nominated for president, and now she may actually think she has a chance of beating him. The election of Trump was never an endorsement of his policies; his approval rating has rarely gone above 40%, and never above 50%. No, his election was not an endorsement of Trump, but a startling repudiation of Clinton. Her blatant greed, blind ambition, disdain for the poor and less fortunate, her ties to Wall Street and her questionable ethics all led large swaths of the population to vote for the odious Trump.

Why, one might reasonably ask, would the Democrats want to nominate someone who so un-democratically manipulated the delegates in 2016 to wrest the nomination from Bernie Sanders? Does the word ‘democracy’ mean nothing to the Democrats?

On the plus side, of these three potential candidates, Clinton is the most ‘youthful’. She will turn a mere 73 a few weeks before the next election. Does anyone remember a time, perhaps back in the days of George McGovern (only 50 when he ran for president), when the Democrats were the party of the young people? Has that entire age cohort now been dismissed from consideration?

  • Elizabeth Warren. The junior senator from Massachusetts is forever saying she isn’t interested in the presidency. We’ll see. She gets publicity every time Trump notices her, since he insists, in his juvenile way, on calling her ‘Pocahontas’. She did give a very good impression when questioning bankers following the bailout during the administration of Barack Obama, and she certainly put several of Trump’s Cabinet appointees on the hot seat during their appearances before the senate, but none of that has really resulted in very much. All form; no substance. And can one ever forget, in 2014, when Apartheid Israel was bombing Gaza, and she was asked her opinion on the matter, she actually ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after seeing that pro-Israel lobbies donated $115,203.00 to her campaign, she endorsed that genocidal activity. But to give her the minimal credit she may be due, she has been critical of Israeli actions against unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border.

And just to keep things consistent, Warren will be 71 on the next presidential election day.

It is still very early days. No one has actually declared for the nomination yet, and these four, and who knows how many others, may rise like a phoenix, and then flame out, adding to the debris that always litters the campaign trail. This writer, unfortunately, can think of no Democrat whose name he can suggest; being an elected member of the House or Senate in the U.S. automatically means that one has sold one’s soul to the highest corporate or lobby bidder. This is nothing new; as Matthew said in the New Testament, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  Congressional members have shown that their ‘treasure’ is the money they get for their campaigns, and these are not the $5.00 and $10.00 donations that some misguided citizens occasionally send them. During her muddied career, Clinton received $2,473.367 from pro-Israeli lobbies. That’s quite a treasure, and there can be no doubt about where it leads her heart.

What is to be done? Surely, Trump must be prevented from another term in office, but what are, or will be, the alternatives? Probably, on the Democratic side, another old or aging white man or woman who is bought and paid for by corporations and lobby groups.

As mentioned earlier, the world is still more than two years away from the quadrennial circus known as U.S. presidential elections; it is probably about six months away from the first candidates to declare their candidacy. Is it too early for this writer to encourage readers to look to third-party candidates? The futility of voting for the lesser of two evils was brought home to him clearly in 2016, when there didn’t seem to be one. So he found the candidacy of Ms. La Riva, and voted for her.

While the outcome of any U.S. election probably doesn’t impact this writer as much as it does other U.S. citizens (he fled to Canada after the 2004 election; things were that bad then. He can’t imagine how fast he’d have left if he’d still been in the U.S. in 2016!), the leader of a war-mongering, nuclear-armed nation is of concern to everyone on the planet. If enough people take a stand, and say a resounding ‘no’ to both major parties, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a chance for change. The probability is small, but the consequences of not acting are too great.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Iran Hawks Take Aim at Iran’s Charitable Organizations

In May of this year, the United States violated an international agreement made with Russia, China, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran when it withdrew from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The thrust of this agreement, which was certified by the United Nations, regulated Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against that country.

The U.S. had included domestically that the president must certify to Congress every six months that Iran was in compliance, based on the findings of U.N. inspectors. During the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, he advised Congress officially that Iran was in compliance.

During President Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he often maligned the JCPOA, calling it the ‘worst deal ever’ and vowing to withdraw from it. Despite the pleas of the other nations that are a party to the JCPOA, he finally did so, after certifying compliance during the first year of his administration.

It must be noted that Trump didn’t withdraw as a result of any violation of the terms by Iran; U.N. inspectors, and the other nations involved, all agree that Iran is in complete compliance. It is the U.S., not Iran, that has violated the terms of the agreement.

As a result, the U.S. is re-imposing the sanctions that were to have been lifted with the signing of the agreement. On June 6, 2018, a lengthy article by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security, was released, entitled, Protecting America from a Bad Deal: Ending U.S. Participation in the Nuclear Agreement. In it, the writers describe how it was non-binding on the U.S., and ending it was necessary for U.S. national security.

These fictions, put into a slick presentation, do not change the fact that they are fictions. An international agreement entered into by the United States, as represented by the president, is binding. If this was a bad deal, it was only so for Iran, since the U.S. was not bound to remove the sanctions it issued, despite what the deal said. So while the other nations involved were honest and direct, the U.S., as is its custom, was not.

In proposing additional sanctions, this document once again singles out the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO). In establishing this organization, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.”

Well, is it any wonder that a society that has an ever-increasing poor population would resent another society that seeks to help the poor? By sanctioning the EIKO, the U.S. will only succeed in doing what it does best: hurting innocent people.

The rationale behind this seems to be that if things get bad enough in Iran due to U.S. sanctions, the people of Iran will rise up against their own government. This underestimates the Iranian people; again, such behavior is typical for U.S. government officials. It is, and will continue to be, clear to the people of Iran that it is not their government that is causing them problems; rather, it is the same government that supported the brutal regime of the Shah until a popular movement overthrew him.

One paragraph from the U.S. document mentioned above is instructive:

“Regular briefings by Treasury Department officials to review potential sanctions targets, including companies owned or controlled by the IRGC and Iran’s defense industry (which represent 20 percent of the total market capitalization of the Tehran Stock Exchange) and the supreme leader’s $200-billion business conglomerate, including EIKO and the bonyads (charitable trusts) where the mullahs store their money.”

Apparently, the U.S., which is so concerned about its national security that it spends more on its military than the next eight countries combined, and which is currently bombing seven countries, and attempting to destabilize at least three others, wants to deprive Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798 (yes that is 220 years ago), of its means of defense. The IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a highly-respected military organization responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation from outside forces.

Additionally, without any supporting evidence, the article states that Iran’s Supreme Leader has a “$200 billion dollar business conglomerate”, and states that the EIKO is part of it! The EIKO is an independent charitable organization.

Finally, in just this one short paragraph, the writers say that the mullahs store their money in charitable trusts. Would not these writers perhaps want to look a little closer to home, to see the way former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, use their ‘charitable organization’ for their own purposes?

A resent ‘tweet’ by one Mark Dubowitz reads the following:

Mark Dubowitz

@mdubowitz
It’s delusional to believe there’s legitimate business with regime & its instrumentalities including Iranian financial sector, other strategic sectors dominated by the IRGC, EIKO, foundations & other malign actors. CBI governor used his central bank to finance QF!

Mark Fitzpatrick

@FitzpatrickIISS
The effort is to erase the difference between legitimate and corrupt business links, and to make all business with #Iran illegal. Economic warfare, in other words. https://twitter.com/mdubowitz/status/1000058822768189443 …

But where is his evidence? Couldn’t one say, in reference to the U.S., that “it’s delusional to believe” there’s any legitimate reason for bombing seven countries, caging children, prevented Muslims from travelling to the U.S., and a myriad of other activities? Isn’t it ‘delusional’ to spend more on the military than that of the next eight countries combined? Is there a ‘legitimate’ reason to have nearly 1,000 military bases across the globe, including several surrounding Iran?

The U.S. will continue to malign Iran and its democratically-elected government, despite the fact that the U.S. is an oligarchy, so far removed from being a democracy that it’s farcical to refer to it as such. It will attempt to destabilize Iran through interference in its internal workings; fortunately, the IRGC is strong, and will defeat such attempts. The U.S. may even invade Iran at Israel’s insistence, regardless of the disaster that that would be for Israel, the U.S. and much of the world.

But for now, the mighty U.S., a world power with declining international influence, will attempt to strong-arm its allies to mirror its own actions, and violate the JCPOA. Thus far, those allies are not in agreement, and are encouraging continued and expanded trade with Iran. For the good of Iran and the world, it is hoped that they, and not the U.S., prevail.

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What’s Wrong With the United States?

Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.

The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.

Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.

The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.

Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!

Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.

When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.

And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.

While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.

Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie

‘Damascus Time’ is an exceptional story that takes place in current, war-ravaged Syria. A humanitarian flight, taking besieged people from the city of Palmyra to Damascus, piloted by an Iranian father and son, is hijacked by ISIS prisoners on board. What follows is a tragic story, demonstrating the barbaric cruelty of ISIS, and that organization’s equally barbaric perversion of Islam.

Although there are terrifying scenes of the carnage of war sprinkled throughout the movie, they help to set the scene, but the story is far more than a war story; it has many levels that are extremely timely today. The sometimes complicated relationship between fathers and sons, the deeply-felt need to respond to the call of duty, and the concept of sacrificing for the greater good are all interwoven in this story.

The viewer sees the fanaticism of ISIS members, who believe they are sent by God to establish a society molded after their perverse interpretation of Islam. Their irrationality is on full display throughout much of the movie.

The fear that innocent people suffer in any war is realistically portrayed, far beyond the sanitized versions that are so often a product of Hollywood. Blood, violent death and desperation all bring the viewer into the reality of war, to the extent possible for someone not directly involved.

Above all, the heroism that is sometimes demonstrated when ordinary people answer the call to accomplish extraordinary things is a defining feature of this movie.

Evidence today is far more than sufficient to indicate that the United States has supported ISIS in various parts of the world. Its motivation in doing so seems to be ultimately to protect Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, which is currently threatened by Iran’s growing power and influence.

While any individual or small group may take any religion and twist its teaching to serve some perverse goal – witness how the Christian ‘right’ glorifies money and war, and condemns such ‘evils’ as health care  – without someone financing them, they will remain a small minority without power or influence. However, backed by the wealth of the U.S., any group can become powerful, as is witnessed by the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria. Yet with the assistance of Iran and Russia, ISIS is losing ground in Syria, even as the U.S. bombs that nation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that was more likely done by U.S. – financed ISIS than the Syrian government.

‘Damascus Time’ shows what it is that the U.S. has wrought. Innocent men, women and children are suffering and dying because of the U.S.’s bizarre geopolitical goals, and there seems to be no end in sight to U.S. financing of such terrorism.

This viewer was quickly drawn in to the movie, caring about the main characters, wanting and hoping for the best for them. The rivalries between different factions of ISIS, and the unspeakable cruelty common to all of them, was brought home for him repeatedly throughout the move.

Yet it was the main character, the Iranian pilot, that drew him in most of all; a devoted husband and father-to-be, dedicated to his wife but also to assisting the suffering people in Syria, Ali could be the gentleman next door who finds himself in a unique but extremely risky position, unable to turn his back on people who needed him.

It is hoped that in the United States, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will recognize the astounding greatness of this movie, and give it its highest honor, the Academy Award for Best Picture.  That, of course, will depend on how the political wind is blowing when the nominees are selected, but this is a movie that will stay with this viewer for a long time. He hopes that it will be widely viewed, especially within the United States.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Palestine and Other Arab Nations

            With the demonstrations that began on Land Day ongoing, and Israel continuing its brutal, illegal, inhumane repression of the Palestinians, much of the world remains silent. Even other mainly Muslim, Arab countries seem to look the other way, as another Arab country suffers at the hands of its Zionist oppressor.

This tragic and criminal situation was addressed recently by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. He stated that “One grave danger, which is threatening the world of Islam today, is undermining the important issue of Palestine and consigning it to oblivion”.

Why is this? Why is the brutal, decades-long, criminal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity a threat to the world of Islam?

People and nations need to know their enemies, and Zionism has demonstrated itself to be the enemy of Islam. As the Ayatollah said: “An Islamic country has been completely occupied, not a small strip of land, city or village, but an entire country!” Not only is it occupied, but the people of Palestine are oppressed unlike any others, and have been for generations.

Where is the international outrage from these Arab countries, as the Land Day demonstrations have been disrupted by Israel, wherein at least 18 innocent, unarmed Palestinians have been killed? Palestinians are demonstrating on their own land (we will assume, for the sake of discussion, that Israel has some international legitimacy), not in Israel. Yet Zionist-entity terrorists murder them, and drop tear-gas on peaceful protestors, who are simply demanding rights guaranteed to them by international law.

But Arab nations are mostly, although not completely, silent. Most of them, to again quote the Ayatollah, “… behave, speak and act, in ways that culminate with the issue of Palestine being ignored and consigned to oblivion”. If the Zionist entity is allowed to so victimize Palestine, will it stop there? Or will Syria and Iraq be next? Will Turkey be safe?

Saudi Arabia may believe itself to be safe because of its support of the Zionist regime. Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks disparagingly of Palestine, Iran and even the Ayatollah, while it praises Israel. Yet Israel, aligned so closely with the United States, cannot be trusted any more than the violent, brutal, terrorist regime of the U.S. can be trusted. Israel has set its sights on dominating the Middle East, and any current rapprochement with Saudi Arabia will only be temporary.

In his recent speech, the Ayatollah also said that “Palestine is the primary issue of the Islamic world”. If Palestine is allowed to be occupied out of existence, the rest of the Islamic world is not safe. Israeli government officials and spokespeople are forever proclaiming that any opposition to Israel or its racist, apartheid policies is a threat to its very existence. Yet, for decades, it has been stealing Palestinian land, bulldozing Palestinian homes to make room for the construction of Israel-only residences, stealing Palestinian natural resources, and killing innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. It is Palestine’s existence that is under threat, not Israel’s.

The actions of U.S. President Donald Trump should also alarm the leaders of all Arab, mostly Muslim nations. He has attempted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and that may be the most benign of his hateful and hate-filled actions. In opposition to international law, and the consensus of the international community, he has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision has been condemned around the world, in the seats of nearly all the governments of the world except that of Israel.

The U.S. government gives Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than it gives to all other nations combined. This, while schools in the U.S. are crumbling, the infrastructure is failing, one major city has been without clean water for at least three years, and at least 20% of its own population lives in poverty. It’s partiality to Israel should alarm other nations in the Middle East.

Additionally, Trump is expected to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development (not that such an agreement was ever needed; Iran’s spokespeople have always said that their nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, unlike the nuclear development programs of the U.S. and Israel). In exchange for signing the agreement, unjust sanctions issued against Iran were lifted. Now, again in defiance of the international community, Trump is threatening to withdraw from this agreement.

Trump’s hostility to Arab nations, and to Islam, is on full display. The U.S. is bombing several, mostly-Islamic nations. Those nations being so victimized are well aware of U.S. violence and evil, as that nation’s bombs kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly ‘non-combatants’. Other nations, not currently feeling the deadly impact of U.S. bombs, must understand the potential peril to themselves, as they witness all that the U.S. currently perpetrates.

The cause of Palestine is the human rights issue of this generation. Around the world, the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement grows in strength, even as the U.S. and other nations attempt to ban it (in the U.S., such a ban violates the U.S. Constitution). It is long past time for other Arab nations to follow the lead of Iran in supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people. They must look to Palestine as an example of their own future. They can control that future by assisting the Palestinian people in shedding the oppressive hand of occupation, and becoming, once again, a free and prosperous nation. If they ignore Palestine, than a future of war, occupation and genocide awaits them, all at the hands of Israel and the U.S. The choice is there; the time to act is now.

 

 

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Iraq, Syria and Another False Flag

It seems impossible to under-estimate the ignorance and gullibility of the United States populace. Was is such a long time ago that the U.S. government was scaring the life out of the citizenry by saying that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’, thus putting every man, woman and child in the U.S. in grave, mortal danger? What was the result of that lie? The U.S. invaded Iraq; about 4,000 U.S. soldiers died, along with at least a million Iraqis. Another 30,000 U.S. soldiers were injured, and millions of Iraqis became refugees, either in Iraq or neighboring countries. Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed, and today, fifteen years after the invasion, the Iraqi people continue to suffer because of it.

And what of those horrifying ‘weapons of mass destruction’? Well, it turns out, there weren’t any.

Now, one might say that this was just a tragic error in U.S. intelligence, although even for government officials, dismissing that much death and destruction as an “Oops! Sorry!” is a bit much. Yet United Nations’ weapons inspectors were gaining unprecedented access to any site in Iraq that they wanted; they were combing the country and finding nothing. Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s leader at the time, swore up, down and sideways that his country had no such weapons. But the mighty U.S. knew better, and so it brought death and destruction to Iraq, for no reason at all.

Well, at least no reason related to U.S. ‘national security’. But there was oil there that the U.S. coveted, and once the country was destroyed, U.S. companies stood to make a fortune in rebuilding it. Haliburton, founded by Dick Cheney, who just happened to be vice president when Iraq was invaded, made billions upon billions of dollars as a result. And thirteen years after the invasion, the ever-practical Hillary Clinton, while running for president, said that “It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.” Add to that the fact that any Middle Eastern countries in chaos helped strengthen apartheid Israel, the lobbies of which U.S. elected officials bow down to, so that was, at the very least, an added bonus, if not a prime reason for the invasion.

And now the great orange U.S. leader, President Donald Trump, is threating another Middle Eastern country, this time Syria. He, along with the leaders of England and France, want to punish the government of Syria for a chemical attack that Syrian leaders, and the United Nations, say Syria didn’t commit. England’s Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for restraint, and wants to await the evidence, and he is condemned as a traitor for wanting to adhere to due process. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is seen as complicit in the attack, but he, too denies Syrian government involvement, and wants to see the incident investigated. It is also worth noting that, after Trump bombed Syria following another such attack, even his military spokesman said there was no evidence the Syrian government was behind it.

But in the U.S., Congress is united in demanding action, and there seems to be little resistance coming from the populace, not that that makes any difference to the oligarchs anyway.

Does it take a particularly insightful reader to see some parallels here? This writer thinks not. Another false flag is being hoisted up the pole, and U.S. citizens are rallying around it.

To whom does it make sense that the Syrian government, with the U.S. just looking for some excuse to bomb it, and while it is continually freeing areas of its nation from U.S.-supported terrorists, would commit war crimes against its own people?

If the Syrian government isn’t behind the recent chemical attack, who, we must ask, is?

Let’s look at the usual suspects, of which there is actually only one. The U.S. has been supporting terrorists in Syria for years, and seeks the overthrow of that government, as it sought the overthrow of Iraq fifteen years ago. And, as with Iraq, there need be no plan for the governance of Syria; a Syria in chaos is better, in the U.S. view, than a peaceful Syria aligned with Iran. So by arranging a chemical attack on Syrian people, Trump, filled with righteous indignation, can bomb that nation.

Is there any benefit to apartheid Israel in all this? One must remember that Jared Kushner, another close advisor to Trump, and his son-in-law to boot, who seems to have disappeared from the radar these last few weeks, has close ties to illegal settlements, and is a personal friend of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. And Syria is closely allied with Iran, Israel’s most bitter enemy, which is assisting the government of Syria in ridding itself of U.S.-backed terrorists. Iran is growing in power and influence in the Middle East, and Netanyahu cannot countenance any threat to Israel hegemony in that part of the world. So some reason to attack Syria, any reason, even a completely fabricated one, will do just fine for the U.S.

Is it possible that some cooler heads surrounding Trump might prevail? When pigs fly. His new National Security Advisor, the unhinged and unstable John Bolton, has described himself as ‘not much of a carrot guy’, indicating that he prefers the use of the stick. That apparently means that he would rather use bombs than diplomacy. He disdains international law, saying it is designed to constrain U.S. power (he might actually be right there; anything that can be done to constrain U.S. power is beneficial to the world).

Trump needs to tread cautiously, however, although he probably won’t. Russia and Iran will not take kindly to any U.S. attack on Syria, and there are rumours that such an action would also displease the government of China. While Trump may consider each of these countries an enemy to the U.S., he will be much better served by tiptoeing around them, rather than provoking them. But Trump never tiptoes, and he always provokes. The consequences of doing so this time around could be cataclysmic.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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IRAN THREATENS ISRAELI HEGEMONY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The United States’ corporate-owned and thereby government-controlled media does not provide much coverage of the situation in Syria. For the U.S. government, an informed populace is a dangerous populace, so the media tells the people who and what to care about: the Olympics Games, of course, are worthy of countless hours of coverage, as is reporting on the investigation into the possibility that Russia worked with the campaign of Donald Trump to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Russia has been a popular enemy of the U.S. for decades, so this is merely a new chapter in an old but much-liked story. But U.S-caused sufferings in Syria, or Palestine, or Yemen, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, etc., etc., are not for the U.S. citizenry to concern itself with.

For years, the U.S. supported outside agitators to fight the legitimate government of Basher Al-Assad, thereby causing untold suffering for the innocent people of Syria. A year ago, the U.S. intensified its bombing of Syria to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people, a charge that was not proven then, and has been completely debunked since. Even the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the disgraceful Jim Mattis, admitted in January that there was no evidence linking Assad to the use of chemical weapons.

But a lack of U.S. press coverage should not be confused with inaction in Syria. The fighting continues, with Assad’s forces, assisted by Russia and Iran, taking back more of the country from the foreign-supported ‘rebels’. The situation is complex, and we will attempt to make sense of it.

The major players are Syria, Russia, Iran, Lebanon (specifically Hezbollah) and the apartheid Zionist regime of Israel. The U.S. is still a player, but its influence has been reduced. Anywhere that U.S. political and military influence is reduced in the world can only be a good thing.

There is little that happens in the world that Israel doesn’t consider an ‘existential threat’. This includes everything from a sixteen-year-old girl slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier/terrorist, to Iran’s support for the government of Syria. So Israel requires a safe buffer zone, either annexing lands of other countries (Israel is expert in land theft), or assuring that nations friendly to it control the areas closest to it. Unfortunately for Israel, the number of its friendly nations is constantly shrinking, so in the context of this discussion, only the U.S. and Saudi Arabia fall into that disreputable category.

With Syria growing stronger, and relying more and more on Iran, Israel is once again raising the specter of an ‘existential threat’. “Israeli officialdom sees great risk with Iran building a seaport, airport, permanent military bases or high-precision missile factories, which would enable precise attacks on key Israeli facilities.”[1]

Does not the Iranian government have a responsibility to protect its own citizens? Iran is surrounded by forty U.S. military bases, yet one doesn’t hear members of the Iranian government screaming about existential threats. It, like every other government in the world, the opinions of Israel and the U.S. notwithstanding, is free to form alliances with other countries, trade with them, and establish military partnerships for mutual defense and protection. That Iran wishes to establish a presence in Syria is only different from the U.S. establishing a military presence in countless countries around the world in that Iran will not exploit the people of the host country in doing so.

As the situation is currently progressing, Iran’s influence will extend from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon. This threatens Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, a condition for which the U.S. has paid dearly in billions upon billions of tax dollars, as well as in destroying its mythical reputation as a beacon of peace, freedom and democracy.

Israel is also very concerned about Lebanon, specifically the powerful Hezbollah. Here the ‘existential threat’ is on its northern border, and any conflict between the two nations will have disastrous consequences for both. Add to the current strength of Hezbollah the power of Iran, and the Israeli government has more than adequate reason to think twice before starting a war with either nation.

Russia remains almost neutral; it has diplomatic relations with both Israel and its archenemy, Iran. Therefore, it is seen by some as being able to serve the function of peace broker, working some inexplicable magic to bring stability to the region, and prevent a wider war which would be disastrous for everyone.

Some recent articles in ‘The Crisis’ include puzzling comments that seem to reflect the U.S. perspective of denying self-determination to the people of Syria.

One article states that Russia should broker an agreement between Israel and Iran that would remain in effect “pending a deal on the country’s (Syria’s) future”.[2]

Who, other than the Syrian people, should be charged with making such a deal? Why would this be the responsibility of any outside entity?

The writer of that article also asks this question: “…will the regime make good on its vow to retake the whole country, including the south west?”.  One must ask: why would it not? Foreign-sponsored rebels have caused havoc and suffering throughout Syria for years, taking possession of various part of the country. Syria, with assistance from Russia and Iran, has taken back most of the country. Why would it not “make good on its vow to retake the whole country” from those who have stolen parts of it, killed and terrorized its people, and deprived them of self-government?

Another statement regarding some fantastic deal to be arranged by Russia is equally puzzling: “The best currently anticipated outcome would be a deal whereby Iran and its partners forego building major military infrastructure, including but not only in Syria’s south west, but retain significant influence in the country through other means”.[3] This indicates that Iran will give up something, but get nothing in return; the article doesn’t suggest what apartheid Israel might surrender in exchange for this deal.

On January 9 of this year, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made this most amazing statement:  “We support a free and democratic Lebanon, free of the influence of others. And we know that the Lebanese Hezbollah is influenced by Iran. This influence we think is unhelpful for Lebanon’s long-term future”.[4] This is a puzzling statement from a U.S. politician. Between November 29, 2010 and November 28, 2016, pro-Israel lobbies donated at least $14,169,515.00 to U.S. senators. Between November 29, 2014 and November 28, 2016, those same lobbies contributed $5,863,292.00 to U.S. members of the House of Representatives. Tillerson’s hypocrisy is astounding. One might slightly reword his statement to make it accurate: “We support a free and democratic United States, free of the influence of others. And we know that the U.S. government is influenced by Israel. This influence we think is unhelpful for the U.S.’s long-term future”.

Israel, the Middle East’s major troublemaker, continues to deal with its own internal problems, increasing its official racism by deporting African refugees, maintaining its brutal occupation of Palestine, and now awaiting a decision on whether or not its murderous Prime Minister will be indicted for a variety of crimes, as has been recommended by the authorities that have been investigating him. While a new war would distract the racist Israelis from these issues, the downside of such a war would probably be too costly for Israel to bear.

The best case scenario for the Middle East seems to be the one that is currently happening: decreased influence of the U.S; increasing power and influence of Iran; the Syrian government finally overcoming the outside forces that have been terrorizing the country, and Russia supporting both Syria and Iran. It is hoped that the chaos that plagues Israel, all of its own making, will be sufficient to prevent that nation from igniting the tinderbox that is the Middle East, and that with Iran and Russia growing in power and influence, the entire area can achieve a greater level of peace than it has known in decades.

 

[1] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[2] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[3] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[4] https://www.timesofisrael.com/tillerson-hezbollahs-role-in-lebanese-politics-needs-to-be-recognized/

 

Originally published in the American Herald Tribune.

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