It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is under indictment for violating US sanctions on Iran along with three others, had been released from the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in Brooklyn and has completely disappeared. The FBI has stated that Mr. Zarrab is still in their custody but …
Nov 18 2017
The Russian Connection: Flynn, Russia and Turkey
Nov 29 2013
The Agreement with Iran: How the US Finally Got There
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
The agreement reached early Sunday morning in Switzerland with Iran over its nuclear program is nothing short of historic. It will expand inspections of nuclear sites and loosen some of the sanctions, worth some $7 billion to Iran. It also signals a shift in American foreign relations from military might to diplomacy, something that candidate Barack Obama had said he was going to do.
(T)he flurry of diplomatic activity reflects the definitive end of the post-Sept. 11 world, dominated by two major wars and a battle against Islamic terrorism that drew the United States into Afghanistan and still keeps its Predator drones flying over Pakistan and Yemen.
But it also reflects a broader scaling-back of the use of American muscle, not least in the Middle East, as well as a willingness to deal with foreign governments as they are rather than to push for new leaders that better embody American values. “Regime change,” in Iran or even Syria, is out; cutting deals with former adversaries is in.
For Mr. Obama, the shift to diplomacy fulfills a campaign pledge from 2008 that he would stretch out a hand to America’s enemies and speak to any foreign leader without preconditions. But it will also subject him to considerable political risks, as the protests about the Iran deal from Capitol Hill and allies in the Middle East attest.
“We’re testing diplomacy; we’re not resorting immediately to military conflict,” Mr. Obama said, defending the Iran deal on Monday in San Francisco. “Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically,” he said earlier that day, “but it’s not the right thing for our security.”
The deal has been the reactions have been hailed by many as good move for the region and the world but it has it’s critics on both sides of the political aisle.
University of Michigan Mideast scholar Juan Cole argues on his blog, Informed Comment, that “the decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled” by the deal. Unsurprisingly, congressional Iran hawks on both sides of the aisle aren’t pleased, according to Bernie Becker at The Hill. Critics accuse the administration of “capitulation,” which The Daily Beast‘s Peter Beinhart says is a gross misreading of history. Siobhan Gorman reports for The Wall Street Journal that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has indicated that Congress may try to impose even more sanctions, which the White House calls a path to war. [..]
Saeed Kamali Dehghan reports for The Guardian that the Iranian public appears to be very happy about the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is outraged by the deal, but Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg writes in The American Prospect that his reaction says more about him than the deal itself. And at 972 Magazine, Larry Derfner notes that the Israeli security community is a lot more optimistic about the deal than the country’s elected officials. The BBC taps its extensive network of reporters to bring mixed reactions from around the region. And Mark Landler reports for The New York Times that the deal could “open the door” to diplomatic solutions of other regional issues.
As Juan Cole points in his article at Informed Consent, the agreement is actually an agreement to negotiate and build confidence between all the parties for the hard bargaining to come. It also is a good history of how we got from post 9/11 to now.
In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.
The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. A majority of Democratic representatives in the lower house of Congress voted against the idea of going to war. The Iraq War, trumped up on false pretenses and mainly to protect the militant right wing in Israel from having a credible military rival in the region and to put Iraqi petroleum on the market to weaken Saudi Arabia, cost the United States nearly 5000 troops, hundreds more Veterans working as contractors, and probably $3 or $4 trillion- money we do not have since our economy has collapsed and hasn’t recovered except for wealthy stockholders. Perhaps George W. Bush could paint for us some dollars so that we can remember what they used to look like when we had them in our pockets instead of his billionaire friends (many of them war profiteers) having them in theirs. [..]
The irony is that in early 2003, the reformist Iranian government of then-President Mohammad Khatami had sent over to the US a wide-ranging proposal for peace. After all, Baathist Iraq was Iran’s deadliest enemy. It had invaded Iran in 1980 and fought an 8-year aggressive war in hopes of taking Iranian territory and stealing its oil resources. Now the US was about to overthrow Iran’s nemesis. Wouldn’t it make sense for Washington and Tehran to ally? Khatami put everything on the table, even an end to hostilities with Israel.
The Neoconservatives threw the Iranian proposal in the trash heap and mobilized to make sure there was no rapprochement with Iran. David Frum, Bush’s speech-writer, consulted with eminence grise Richard Perle (then on a Pentagon oversight board) and Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby (vice presidential felon Richard Bruce Cheney’s chief of staff), and they had already inserted into Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech the phrase the “axis of evil,” grouping Iran with Iraq and North Korea. Iran had had sympathy demonstrations for the US after 9/11, and, being a Shiite power, feared and hated al-Qaeda (Sunni extremists) as much as Washington did. But the Neoconservatives did not want a US-Iran alliance against al-Qaeda or against Saddam Hussein. Being diplomatic serial killers, they saw Iran rather as their next victim.
In many ways, Washington politics is still stuck in that neoconservative world.
MSNBC’s All In host Chris Hayes discusses the agreement with several guests Iranian-American journalist and author, Hooman Majd, Ambassador Christopher Hill and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY).
In another segment, Chris and his guest Matt Duss, Middle East policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, discuss how diplomacy with Iran is just the latest blow to the neoconservatives.
When George W. Bush was appointed as president in 2001, there was a moderate government in Iran. If it had not been for the Supreme Court, this would have been resolved 10 years ago and so many would not have needlessly died.
Feb 01 2010
China to Clinton: Smell the glove!
The U.S. still wants to declare war on Iran, or short of that, exact barbaric and debilitating sanctions on its people in the hopes of causing unrest and ultimately regime change, but China has no interests in that game:
Clinton had warned China it would come under a “lot of pressure” to recognize the threat from Iran’s nuclear program and to join international calls for further sanctions. She said pressure would come as Washington and other powers “move away from the engagement track, which has not produced the results that some had hoped for, and move towards the pressure and sanctions track” to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Tehran insists are for peaceful purposes.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said of the US’s US$6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan that Washington should “truly respect China’s core interests and major concerns, and immediately rescind the mistaken decision to sell arms to Taiwan, and stop selling arms to Taiwan to avoid damaging broader China-US relations”.
According to the official China Daily:
“From now on, the US shall not expect cooperation from China on a wide range of major regional and international issues. If you don’t care about our interests, why should we care about yours?”
In other words, Smell the glove!
In the mockumentary, the original cover, according to recording company representative Bobbi Fleckmann, featured “a greased, naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck and a leash, and a man’s arm extended out…holding on to the leash and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it.” The production company, Polymer Records, ultimately refused to release the cover because of pressure from retailers such as Sears and Kmart and gave the album a solid black cover instead. Upon learning of the concerns of Polymer, David St. Hubbins said, “You know, if we were serious and we said, ‘Yes, she should be forced to smell the glove,’ then you’d have a point, but it’s all a joke.” Bandmate Nigel Tufnel replied, “It is and it isn’t. She should be made to smell it, but…” which David clarified with the statement, “But not, you know, over and over.”
So much for being Number One.
What an embarrassment.
Update via Pluto: Chinese military going worldwide. Absolutely precious!
May 08 2008
Disaster in Burma: Poetry, pleas, and inept politicians
The death toll and suffering in Burma continues to rise in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis (Urdu for daffodil). The situation is dire.
Aid has barely trickled into one of the world’s most isolated and impoverished countries, although experts feared it would be too little to cope with the aftermath of Nargis, which left up to 100,000 feared dead and one million homeless.
Witnesses saw little evidence of a relief effort under way in the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta region.
“We’ll starve to death, if nothing is sent to us,” said Zaw Win, a 32-year-old fisherman who waded through floating corpses to find a boat for the two-hour journey to Bogalay, a town where the government said 10,000 people were killed.
“We need food, water, clothes and shelter,” he told a Reuters reporter.
Apr 29 2008
Sanctioning Iran: Foreign Policy 101
Philip Agee died on 9 January of this year in Havana, Cuba. He was 72.
Agee joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1957 and worked as a case officer in several Latin American countries. He later claimed: “My eyes began to open little by little down there as I began to realize more and more that all of the things that I and my colleagues were doing in the CIA had one goal which was that we were supporting the traditional power structures in Latin America. These power structures had been in place for centuries, wherein a relative few families were able to control the wealth and income and power of the state and the economy, to the exclusion of the majority of the population in many countries. The only glue that kept this system together was political repression. I was involved in this. Eventually I decided I didn’t want anything more to do with that.”
Agee resigned in 1969. His book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, was an instant best-seller and was eventually published in over thirty languages. An Agee interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now is available here.
One very important term often used by our government, military and corporate leaders is one which is almost never clealy defined. It hints at noble ideals. As a naive schoolboy in the ’50s or as an indoctrinated enlisted Marine in the late ’60s concepts such as spreading freedom and democracy, and freeing the world of injustice might have come to mind. The term is “US strategic interests”, or simply “our national interests”.