American Resistance To Empire

US House Passes Bills To Repeal Open-Ended 2002 AUMF–Authorization to Use Military Force

Lance Cpl. Ryan Volden, assigned to Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) observes nearby vessels from the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), during a transit through the Strait of Hormuz August 12, 2019 (Marine Corps photo/Cpl. Adam Dublinske)

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a pair of bills repealing the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force and preventing taxpayer funding from being used to take military action against Iran without congressional authorization.

The 2002 AUMF — which was first passed to approve the U.S. military’s invasion of Iraq the following year and was used to justify the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January — has overstayed its welcome by allowing presidents to deploy troops around the world without congressional approval, argued Rep. Barbara Lee (D.Calif.), who first introduced the repeal measure.

The vote to repeal the 2002 AUMF serves as call to Congress to get back involved in the process of deciding whether or not the United States goes to war, Lee said, a process she thinks Congress has shirked for nearly 20 years.

“We cannot afford to leave outdated AUMFs on the books indefinitely,” Lee said in a statement after the House approved the bill in a largely party line vote of 236 to 166. “It is past time for Congress to finally do our Constitutional duty and vote on matters of war and peace.”

The vote on Thursday is full circle for Lee, who in 2001 gained national attention for being the only member of Congress to vote no on both the 2002 AUMF and it’s 2001 predecessor that authorized the Global War on Terror.

“It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events—anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit,” Lee later said about her decision. “In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.”

A looming conflict with Iran shows Congress needs to care about declaring war again

Now, 18 years later, Lee and other proponents of repealing the 2002 AUMF — including eleven Republican lawmakers and at least two advocacy groups — hopes this will bring Congress back into the loop.

“Beyond there being no foreign policy reason to keep the 2002 AUMF active, repeal would preserve the proper separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch, no matter who is in office,” wrote Nate Anderson, executive director of the conservative-leaning Concerned Veterans for America, in a letter of support for Lee’s bill on Monday.

Former Army Ranger and member of the conservative Freedom Caucus Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) supported the bill in an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.

“A replacement of the outdated authorizations might include a recognition of our ally Israel, a mechanism to combat terrorism, and a limitation on the temporality of such an authorization,” Biggs wrote. “A new authorization with these criteria would move us away from endless wars that Americans recognize are damaging to the country. Congress can direct us instead to peace and prosperity — if only it would reclaim its power.”

Meanwhile, the second bill, preventing funding from being used to take military action against Iran without congressional authorization, passed 228 to 175, also largely along party lines.

“This Administration’s Iran policy, time and time again, has brought us to the brink of war, risking American security and our constitutional integrity” wrote Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif), who introduced the Iran bill, in a statement announcing its passage on Thursday. “A war with Iran would be a disaster for the entire world.”

Republicans were more hesitant to endorse Khanna’s bill.

“The timing is not right, given that our bases are taking fire from Iran and its proxies,” wrote Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who voted in favor of Lee’s bill, in a statement on Thursday. “Instead of blanketly stating ‘no war’ with Iran, I would welcome a review of the 2001 AUMF in light of current circumstances in Afghanistan and the deaths of those responsible for 9/11, including many of their spawn.”

Both bills now go to the Senate, where they will either be rejected or approved and sent to President Donald Trump for his approval. The White House had previously threatened to block both measures.

Kosher Pimple On Trump’s Ass Denigrates All Palestinian People, In the Name of “Peace”

The first son-in-law has warned Palestinians not to “screw up this opportunity” at peace that he’s so graciously given to them.

Jared Kushner Palestinians Have Never Done Anything Right in Their Sad Pathetic Lives


Last June, more than two years after his father-in-law assigned him the task of bringing peace to the Middle East, Jared Kushner held a big kickoff conference in Bahrain to unveil the economic portion of his plan—and it did not go well. For starters, Palestinian leadership boycotted the entire event, feeling that the plan was missing a few key details, such as, just as some examples, solutions for control of the West Bank and Palestinian statehood. Kushner, ever the real estate agent, gave a speech in which he spoke of transforming the Gaza Strip into a tourist destination, failing to mention Israel and Egypt’s 12-year blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory, in addition to Israel’s 52-year-long occupation of the West Bank, which restricts trade and labor movements. When the Boy Prince of New Jersey touched on politics, it was to offer the savvy take that if everyone just stopped “doing terrorism,” it would “allow for much faster flow of goods and people.”

Not surprisingly, the whole thing was panned by experts, one of whom described Kushner’s plan as “the Monty Python sketch of Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives.” Undeterred, Kushner got on a call with Arab and Israeli reporters and, putting on his salesman cap, explained that his vision was 100% workable if Palestinian leadership would stop being so “hysterical and stupid.”

Was this the greatest way to convince people to get on board? Probably not! Yet, incredibly, Kushner apparently thought it was exactly the right approach, and we know this because on Tuesday, after the White House unveiled its full vision for peace in the Middle East—which calls for no evacuation of settlements, limits Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, and includes no path to statehood beyond the vague mention of a “future State of Palestine”—he repeated it again, except this time he cranked the a-hole from a 12 to a 45.

Appearing on CNN, Kushner told Christiane Amanpour that critics of his plan—of which there are a comically huge number—must “divorce [themselves] from all of the history” and focus on the deal he has outlined for them. And speaking of history, Kushner posited that if this whole thing fails, it’s not going to be because a glorified slumlord somehow didn’t get it right but because Palestinians are morons who don’t know what’s good for them. Sayeth Kushner:

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You have 5 million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity—which, again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities—if they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them. If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent.…


The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question: Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it, and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.

Don’t worry, there’s footage of Kushner making this statement, so it can be played back for all eternity:

Oh, and lest anyone start dredging up that tired argument that maybe a guy who has screwed up nearly every job his father has ever given him or paid for him to land, and who couldn’t obtain a security clearance without his wife begging her dad for it, wasn’t qualified to take on this project in the first place, KNOW THIS:

Also, this:

No further questions.

CIA’s “American Soleimani”, a.k.a., “the Dark Prince,” Reportedly Killed In Afghan Spy Plane Downing

The CIA’s Dark Prince Doesn’t Want War With Iran

According to various intelligence analysts spoken to by, D’Andrea is in favour of dialogue with Iran’s non-IRGC leadership. He is even said to be in favour of talks with Iran’s foremost military leader and the architect of its strategy to create and sustain a ‘crescent of Shia power’ running from Lebanon and Syria through to Iraq and Yemen through asymmetric warfare tactics, the long-serving head of Iran’s al-Quds (‘Jerusalem’) Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian media: CIA agent behind Soleimani killing shot down in Afghanistan

Taliban claims CIA agents were onboard downed plane but won’t verify who

The wreckage of an airplane is seen after a crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan January 27, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Iranian media outlets claim “many CIA” officers were killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan on Monday. The Taliban initially asserted large numbers of Americans were killed, and Russian media and Iranian media then said a senior CIA officer responsible for killing IRGC Gen. Qasem Soleimani was on board. The claim has been greeted with skepticism.

Michael D’Andrea’s name began to appear in Farsi media in the wake of the Soleimani killing when articles at Mehr News and Radio Farda claimed he was involved in planning the US operation. Later, on January 27, his name appeared again in rumors after the plane crash. The US says it only recovered two crew from the downed plane, casting doubt on the extraordinary claims.

There are many who might have an interest in spreading conspiracies about the Taliban downing high-ranking US intelligence officers. Nevertheless, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency ran with the story, quoting Russian sources that said the “assassin of Soleimani was on the plane and [was] killed in the crash.” It claims that D’Andrea “is the most prominent figure in the US CIA in the Middle East. He has been in charge of operations in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.”

The Taliban was quoted as saying it had shot down the plane. Tasnim refers to D’Andrea as “Ayatollah Mike” and “the Prince of Darkness,” relying on old US newspaper clippings. Press TV of Iran has also included the report, claiming top CIA officers were killed and repeating rumors about D’Andrea. But the original reports from the Taliban only spoke of a plane being shot down and some CIA members allegedly being on it. The US says an American E-11A plane was shot down in Ghazni province, around 900 km. from the Iranian border.

Linking its downing to the Soleimani killing would be a major development and appear to show that Iran is active in Afghanistan with the Taliban,a claim that has been made in the past. Iran watches US movements in Afghanistan carefully and has met with the Taliban recently. Iran has also tried to down US drones that stray near Iran’s border.

The US has dropped a record number of bombs on the Taliban in the last year, as it also tried to push it toward the peace table.

Many social media users are interested in the claim that D’Andrea may have been on the plane. One of the first users to report the claim noted that D’Andrea “masterminded the murder of Imad Mughniyeh, former Hezbollah chief of staff, back in 2008.”

However, others have pointed out that while this could be big news, it could be disinformation, or designed merely to create the appearance that Iran had responded to the Soleimani killing. Iran has promised “hard revenge” against the US. Some Iranians on social media who support the regime in Tehran have been celebrating the downing of the plane.

The Taliban spokesman said it is still investigating who was killed on the plane, and it has not confirmed that the top CIA officer was among the dead. Photos placed online show burned bodies of the dead. A website noted a Taliban statement saying it found some documents on the plane, but the corpses of those on board were burned.

He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the CIA officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the US drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians.

Now the official, Michael D’Andrea, has a new job. He is running the CIA’s Iran operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, an appointment that is the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the President took against Iran during his campaign.

D’Andrea’s new role is one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman, the officials said. The agency also recently named a new chief of counterterrorism, who has begun pushing for greater latitude to strike militants.

Iran has been one of the hardest targets for the CIA. The agency has extremely limited access to the country – no US embassy is open to provide diplomatic cover – and Iran’s intelligence services have spent nearly four decades trying to counter US espionage and covert operations.

The challenge to start carrying out President Donald Trump’s views falls to D’Andrea, a chain-smoking convert to Islam, who comes with an outsize reputation and the track record to back it up: Perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening al-Qaida.

“He can run a very aggressive program, but very smartly,” said Robert Eatinger, a former CIA lawyer who was deeply involved in the agency’s drone program.

The CIA declined to comment on D’Andrea’s role, saying it does not discuss the identities or work of clandestine officials. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because D’Andrea remains undercover, as do many senior officials based at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Eatinger did not use his name. The New York Times is naming D’Andrea because his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.

Trump called Iran “the number one terror state” and pledged throughout the campaign to dismantle or revise the landmark deal between Iran and six world powers in which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, centre, has criticised any nuclear deal with Iran.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, centre, has criticised any nuclear deal with Iran.Credit:AP 

The President has not gone through with that threat, and his administration has quietly recertified Iran’s compliance with the deal. But he has invoked his hard line on Iran in other ways. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described the deal as a failure, and Trump has appointed to the National Security Council hawks eager to contain Iran and push regime change, the groundwork for which would most likely be laid through CIA covert action.

In D’Andrea, the director has found a workaholic to be his Iran sentinel. D’Andrea grew up in northern Virginia in a family whose ties to the CIA span two generations. He met his wife, who is Muslim, on a CIA posting overseas, and converted to Islam to marry her, though he is not known to be particularly observant.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, with his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, with his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.Credit:AP 

Asked whether D’Andrea’s appointment was a sign that the CIA planned to take up a more aggressive line toward Iran, Eatinger said, “I don’t think it’s the wrong read.”

D’Andrea’s personal views on Iran are not publicly known. It is also not his job to make policy but to execute it, and he has demonstrated that he is an aggressive operations officer.

In the years after the September 11 attacks, D’Andrea was deeply involved in the detention and interrogation program, which resulted in the torture of a number of prisoners and was condemned in a sweeping Senate report in 2014 as inhumane and ineffective. Only the executive summary of the 6700-page report has been made public; the Trump administration has begun returning copies of the full document to Congress, which is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, raising the prospect that it will never be released.

D’Andrea took over the agency’s Counterterrorism Centre in early 2006 and spent the next nine years directing the hunt for militants around the world.

Operatives under his direction played a pivotal role in 2008 in the killing of Imad Mugniyah, the international operations chief for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group based in Lebanon. Working with the Israelis, the CIA used a car bomb to kill Mugniyah as he walked home in Damascus, where Hezbollah enjoys strong ties with and support from the Syrian government.

At the same time, D’Andrea was ramping up the drone program inside Pakistan. Drones became the preferred counterterrorism tool of President Barack Obama, who personally approved strikes targeting militant leaders.

The New York Times

THE MIGHTY WURLITZER…how the CIA played the simple-minded American people

The Mighty Wurlitzer



A Review by David Edwards

The Mighty Wurlitzer : How The CIA Played America by Hugh

This well researched investigation by Hugh Wilford, published in
2008, reveals the extent of the covert front organisation network,
which the Central Intelligence Agency ran from its inception during
the Cold War.

“… from behind the scenes, the spies exercised complete control
over the recipients of their covert largesse. …”

Dubbed ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’, by its architects and critics alike, the
intended implication by the Agency would have been one reflected in
the above quote. A desired projection into the current time, would be
one of an omniscient CIA and it’s larger apparatus, manipulating and
steering the unwitting American public to its ‘merry’ tune.

However, as Wilford’s book shows, in a ‘group by group’ analysis,
control over the various social, political, and labour movements,
which the CIA funded via various dummy foundations and front
groups, was not an easy task to maintain indefinitely. The Cold War
‘counter-intelligence’ network largely collapsed towards the end of the
1960s, with the Cold War consensus fragmented along ‘racial,
generational, and gender lines.’ It is up to this point where this book
inquires into the CIA’s shady past.

Of course the difficulty in investigating the history and scope of a
network shrouded in secrecy, presents its own distinct set of
problems for any researcher. Wilford himself addresses this issue in
his introduction, and the extensive appendices included in the volume
reinforce the factual basis of his analysis, where many others would
be tempted to wildly speculate on such a topic.

“… It is highly likely that we still do not know the identity of all the
groups that received covert subsidies. … it would be impossible to
discuss in detail between the covers of a single volume every
committee and project that is known to have been CIA
financed. Instead, what I have chosen to do is identify the main
groups within American society that participated in the covert

The groups analysed, and broken down by the author into chapters,
are as follows:

-Writers, Artists, Musicians, Filmmakers
-African Americans

The inspiration for the U.S. use of front organizations in 1948, and
their use for clandestine agitation against the ‘Soviet Threat’ of the
Cold War, took its inspiration from Willi Munzenberg’s ‘Innocents
Clubs’ of the early 1920s to 1940s. These were Trotskyist Socialist
Groups (financed and initiated by Munzenberg), which presented a
united bolshevik front against Fascism and Imperialism. Marxist
intellectuals, united around the exiled figure of Lenin in Zurich, set
about through the use of these front groups in 1917 in leading the
West , and eventually Russia, in a bolshevik led revolution.

“…Munzenberg’s first major assingment was to raise money for
victims of the ghastly famine that swept the Volya region of Russia in
the early 1920s. … Munzenberg’s famine appeal was a propaganda
coup, generating considerable sympathy for the Bolshevik regime,
not least in the United States…
… Out of these early efforts grew the so-called Munzenberg trust, a
vast media empire of newspapers, publishing houses, movie houses,
and theaters which ‘on paper at least,’ stretched from Berlin ‘to Paris
to London to New York to Hollywood to Shaghai to Delhi.’ The
financial profitability of these ventures has probably been
overestimated… but their effectiveness as instruments of propaganda
has not. Particularly successful were Munzenberg’s various ‘front’
groups, committees superficially devoted to some undeniably benign
cause, such as anti-imperialism, peace or anti-fascism, whose real
purpose was to defend and spread the Bolshevik revolution. …
… the front groups would never have got off the ground if they had
not also reflected the particular values and needs of the groups they
represented. …”

In the postwar period of the late 1940s, when the U.S. realised it had
a formidable ideological enemy in Stalin’s U.S.S.R, the world had
cooled into a divided and polarised situation. The Marshall Plan came
into effect in an attempt to rebuild Europe, and prevent any further
spread of communism westward. It was here that the U.S. took
inspiration from Munzenberg’s earlier model, and the Office of
Strategic Services found a new incarnation in the fight against this
new existential threat to U.S. ‘democratic’ interests.

“… The briefly fluid international situation of the immediate postwar
period had frozen into a bipolar world order in which two ideologically
opposed enemies used every means available to them, short of
direct military confrontation, to frustrate the ambitions of the other. It
was against this background of deepening international tension that
the Central Intelligence Agency was conjured into being. …
… American politicians needed to overcome the ‘popular attachment
to the concept of a basic difference between peace and war’ and
‘recognize the realities of international relations.’ … Doing so might
come easier if they realized that they were already engaged in an
overt form of political warfare without knowing it … Covert operations
of whatever kind – ‘clandestine support of ‘friendly’ foreign elements,
‘black’ psychological warfare, and even encouragement of
underground resistance in hostile states’ – were in this sense merely
an extension of existing U.S. government policies. …
… National Security Council directive 10/2, approved on June 18,
1948, superceded NSC 4-A by creating an Office of Special Projects
endowed with powers to conduct ‘any covert activities’ related to
‘propaganda, economic warfare; preventitive direct action, including
sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures;
subversion against hostile states, including assistance to
underground resistance movements, guerillas and refugee liberation
groups, and support of indigenous anticommunist elements in
threatened countries of the free world.’ …”

Many of the propaganda methods used in Europe in the 1950s
bordered on the ridiculous, for example a program involving the
spreading of anticommunist leaflets over the Iron Curtain via
balloons, almost resorted to dispersing extra large condoms marked
as ‘U.S. medium,’ in an attempt to project the perception that
American men were ambitiously well endowed. The ludicrous idea
was shelved in favour of other methods of ideological dissemination.
Another CIA propaganda method, deriving inspiration from the
Munzenberg’s bolshevik networks, was the use of radio. On July 4,
1950, the CIA funded station ‘Radio Free Europe,’ began
broadcasting U.S. propaganda through the airwaves in
Czechoslovakia. It’s success inspired various offshoots, including
‘Radio Liberation’ in Germany, and the now infamous ‘Voice of
America.’ Staffed by emigres recruited to the anticommunist cause,
the CIA funded radio stations agitated resistance against the Soviets,
sometimes leading to tragic consequences, such as the failed
uprising in Hungary in 1956, which turned into a massacre. This had
been due to disinformation, broadcasting the a promise of direct U.S.
military intervention in the country in support of the burgeoning
resistance. The ensuing body count amongst the Hungarians and
Soviet soldiers involved in the subsequent fighting was exceptionally

The use of European emigres and defectors in the anticommunist
cause, was problematic as these groups sought autonomy from
Washington, and wished to avoid direct American influence in their
efforts. All retained their left or right leaning sympathies, ethnic
differences caused increasing friction, and they also talked to
conservative U.S. congressmen. This caused a lot of awkward
inquiries, particularly during the Senator McCarthy ‘Red Scare’ witchhunts
of the 1950s. There was a congressional rejection of the use
of Radio Free Europe to broadcast coded signals (as occurred in
Poland), in favour of more overt propaganda in the form of prowestern
news stories.

Echoing Munzenberg’s own eventual resentment of his ‘innocents
clubs’, the National Committee for a Free Europe and its Office of
Policy Coordination handlers began to resent these emigre networks
and their prejudices against the U.S. hand that fed them. The
networks were also easily infiltrated by communist agents, which
presented a security nightmare of counter-productivity. The idea
became rapidly apparent that the situation needed to be brought
under more direct control of Washington. In January 1951, ‘The
American Committee for Liberation for the Peoples of the U.S.S.R’
was established to handle emigres from the Soviet Union.

“… The trouble was that the Soviet emigres proved no less conflict
ridden than the exiles from the satellite countries. …”

Amongst the emigres there was common ground in the outright
rejection of Stalinism, but the Mensheviks and intellectuals with a leftwing
bias wanted to retain the ideological beliefs of Marxism. This
caused problems amongst emigres with a right-wing bias, and this
polarisation caused obvious partisanship within the larger collective
of organisations, and a distinct lack of unity, except against the
common enemy of bolshevism. There was even flirtation with neofacism
amongst groups such as the National Union of Labor
Solidarists, who gained popularity for a while in the 1950s.

“… Together, these various groups constituted a political powder keg,
with their would-be American patrons poised to light the fuse. …”

Control over the many social groups receiving covert subsidies from
the Agency, seemed tentative at best, yet the Cold War method of
the front group subsidy continued for over a decade via the dummy
foundations and committees.

Non-Governmental Organisations and their use as ‘fronts’ for covert
operations, gave (and still give) a huge amount of potential for
administrative ‘plausible deniability’, in the face of scrutiny. A good
example of this mechanism was the National Committee for a Free
Europe, masquerading as an organisation set up and funded by
private individuals. The reality of the Committee was that it was a
clandestine front, through which covert government subsidies were
channelled to propaganda and destabilisation ventures against
Soviet efforts in Europe, and eventually against these same Soviet
efforts in the developing world.

“… The obvious wealth of the National Committee for a Free Europe
created an urgent need for a cover story. This was provided by the
‘Crusade for Freedom,’ a public fund-raising drive devised by Abbot
Washburn, an ex Office of Strategic Services officer and public
relations expert who was seconded from food conglomerate General
Mills for the purpose. Earlier in the century, the Public Relations
genius Edward L. Bernays had adapted such covert techniques as
the front organization for commercial purposes, creating, for
example, the Tobacco Society for Voice Culture, an apparently
independent group dedicated to promoting the message that smoking
improved people’s singing, on behalf of one of his clients,
Chesterfield cigarettes. During World War 2, the U.S. public relations
industry was pressed into the cause of strengthening civilian morale
through the War Advertising Council (later renamed the Advertising
Council), which encouraged the public to buy war bonds and
conserve war materials. Now, Washburn was being invited to draw
on this tradition of secret salesmanship and government service in
order to ‘sell’ the Cold War to the American public – and, in doing so,
provide a plausible explanation for the large sums of cash sitting in
the coffers of the National Committee for a Free Europe. …”

One could argue that this model of covert influence and agitation
against an ‘ideological enemy’ is still in use today in countries where
U.S. interests such as resources and continued access to them are
at stake.

The functioning of these operations depended greatly on
compartmentalisation, and those in the various groups who were
made aware of the true source of the funding (i.e. the U.S.
government via CIA conduits and its ‘dummy’ foundations) were
sworn to secrecy as they were made ‘witting’ by their CIA
handlers. The ‘unwitting’ members of these groups, usually attracted
to the various causes for anticommunist sentiments, found a deep
sense of betrayal and embarrassment when the cover of the fronts
became inevitably blown. Most radical elements preferred to believe
in some semblance of autonomy from government intervention in
their efforts. Inevitable exposure of the antithesis of their
expectations, deepened the general sense of resentment, paticularly
regarding perceptions of any group’s independence and Western
‘democracy’ as a whole. It must be crushing to realise that one’s
perceived mission has all been in the name of propaganda and
almost childish ideological antagonism.

A much lauded example of the scope of this CIA-led interfering and
manipulation is the witting part played by the great champion of
feminism, Gloria Steinem, in the Independent Research Service.

“… It was a sense of an idealistic, dynamic, even noble cause that
Steinem tried to articulate in 1967, when CIA funding of the
Independent Research Service was revealed. Among the many
individuals named in that year of revelations, Steinem was one of the
most forthright in acknowledging her wittingness and explaining the
reasons why she had become involved in a front operation. …
… more distressing for Steinem personally was the ressurection of
the episode within the women’s movement during the 1970s, when
radical feminists who objected to her relatively moderate position in
the sex war seized on it as evidence that she was a secret agent of
the patriarchal power structure. …”

The Committee of Correspondence was a 1950s women’s movement
which was co-opted by the CIA and funded via the Dearborn
Foundation. It’s story, outlined in the book, would further reinforce
those critics of Steinem, as women manipulated by an extension of
patriarchal oppression. This echoes Edward Bernays’ manipulative
use of debutantes to market cigarettes to women in his infamous
‘torches of freedom’ stunt.

Many instances such as this serve to reinforce the growing
perception that many modern ‘grassroots’ movements, such as
radical feminism and other ‘social justice’ groups, have at their heart
the shadow of clandestine funding and covert direction from think
tanks, foundations and intelligence agencies. This would reflect the
potential and continued use of the CIA ‘front,’ to enact desired social
change for globalised corporate hegemony, using unwitting dupes
such as these as the vehicle. Or maybe this perception was the
intention of such covert backing, and its inevitable exposure, to sow
confusion and destroy trust in such movements?

Where the front system really seemed to fall apart was its
involvement with journalists. It was the exposure of the extent of CIA
involvement, within the National Student Association in the U.S.
press, which brought the house of cards crashing down. The closing
chapter of the book deals largely with the sequence of events which
led to such exposures in the 1960s, when the American public began
to realise the extent which they had been played by the Mighty

The student associations were a rife recruiting ground for potential
CIA operatives, with many of the officer class fed into the system
from Ivy League schools. The neoconservative movement, it would
also seem, also had some of its roots in CIA fronted student
activism. The author gives a detailed account of Henry Kissinger’s
pivotal role in the co-opting of student activism by the CIA. There is
no doubt that he was ‘witting’ as to the extent of these operations.

“… it does seem probable that someone of Kissinger’s political
acumen could have dealt as extensively as he did with the CIA
without having some inkling of just whom he was doing business
with. …”

Another neoconservative policy-maker who had an active role in the
CIA student front operation, whose ideas have shaped the current
geopolitical landscape, is Zbigniew Brzezinski. An anecdotal retelling
of his anticommunist hijinks whilst at an international student
conference, gives a hint as to his ‘wittingness’ with regards to CIA
involvement in student affairs.

The use of this ‘front’ system does bear the hallmarks of syndicated
crime. The more the reader discovers in Wilford’s book, the harder it
is not to see this kind of structural metaphor applied to the way the
Agency has gone, and in all likelihood still goes, about its business.

The application of the ‘front’ model, originally intended for use
regarding eastern bloc ’emigres’, evolved far beyond mere
‘intelligence gathering’ and counter-espionage. The chapter on the
‘Cultural Cold War’, gives insight into the Agency’s use of writers,
artists and film-makers to combat Soviet movements in similar
fields. Indeed, the funding and covert encouragement of the
modernist movement in painting, was a direct response to Soviet
officials derogation of American culture as unintellectual. The CIA’s
direct commissioning of an animated version of George Orwell (Eric
Blair)’s ‘Animal Farm’, went far beyond the mere assigning of funds,
as Agency operatives dictated creative decisions, and even rewrote
the ending of the story. It would appear that this adaptation was the
Agency’s only direct film project, but there was, and still continues to
be, involvement and even censorship on the part of the CIA in the
form of ‘advisers’ within the Hollywood system.

This book offers many fascinating insights into the known methods,
which an intelligence agency such as the CIA used, of covert
manipulation of social ‘activism’ during the Cold War. It would be
naive to think that such activities have wholly ceased in our time, but
with the veil of official secrecy it is difficult to have a current and
objective view as to the level of manipulation that affects our
society. It seems counter productive, in what is perceived to be an
open and free society in the West, to have to protect ‘freedom’
through manipulating in secret. This would indicate a more sinister
agenda of social control at work, and it is certainly worth considering
whether it is worth supporting, if these are the methods needed to
propagate it.

“… There is perhaps a lesson to be learned here by those currently
concerned about improving the United States’s image
abroad. Indeed, a number of the issues raised by the history of the
Mighty Wurlitzer are very much alive today, at a time when the CIA
still holds a large stake in areas of American civil society. …
… If anything, these practices have intensified in recent years, with
the ‘war on terror’ recreating the conditions of total mobilization that
prevailed in the first years of the Cold War. …
… The front group also has in recent years undergone a revival of
sorts. Neoconservative intellectuals have employed tactics and
techniques first used on American soil by the old Left during the
1930s, which were then resurrected by a CIA front, the American
Committee for Cultural Freedom, during the 1950s. Ventures such
as the Project for a New American Century prosecute
the neoconservatives’ notion of a ‘global democratic revolution’ in the
Middle East. …
… the fact remains that the front tactic was based on secrecy and
deception, making it all the more problematic when undertaken in a
nation avowedly dedicated to the principles of freedom and
openness. …”

Repeal the Iraq War Authorization

The Case for Repealing, and Not Replacing, the Iraq War Authorization

January 3, 2017: Members of the 115th congress and their familes mingle on the house floor while attending the joint session on the opening day of the session.

It should be a top priority for Congress to correct its historic blunder of passing the buck when it comes to war and peace.

We very recently almost found ourselves in a new war with Iran. As part of its continued response to that crisis, the House of Representatives is planning to vote on repeal of the Iraq war authorization. These two things may seem totally unrelated, but the Trump administration’s reckless Soleimani assassination is actually the perfect example of why Congress can no longer afford to put off repealing — and not replacing — this long-outdated law. Here’s why.

To be clear, the resolution on the chopping block is the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). It was enacted by Congress to approve a disastrous war of choice — invading Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — and has since been used to justify unrelated and unauthorized military activity. Most recently, it was cited by the Trump administration amidst its flurry of contradictory rationales for the Soleimani strike. It’s legally laughable that this authority could cover a drone strike against an Iranian official in 2020, but this episode makes clear a dangerous reality: if the authorization remains on the books, it will continue to be used.

Indeed, the Soleimani assassination was not just a reckless and dangerous escalation, it was the exact outcome that advocates of repeal have long been working to prevent. While this moment rightfully became an opportunity to mobilize against a new war, it must next lead to a long-overdue reckoning. For nearly two decades, Congress has allowed this expansive war authority to remain on the books, ripe for exploitation by a conflict-prone executive. What was once a persistent warning alarm should be now blaring like an emergency siren: repeal of the Iraq war authorization must become a top priority, in order to prevent future similar crises.

Frustratingly, it was barely a month ago that Congress actually had a prime opportunity to do just that. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), on a bipartisan basis, adopted a provision led by Rep. Barbara Lee to do away with the 2002 Iraq authorization. It shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t, controversial. Repeal is also popular among the public. Hundreds of people from all over the country assembled in Washington, D.C. this fall as part of the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s annual gathering in support of repeal. It’s just one example of many. Letters have been sent, phone calls have been made, and events have been organized. But at the last minute, the provision was stripped from the bill.

The recent brush with a new Iran war shows why it’s so important for Congress to act boldly for repeal. This is not an academic exercise or a simple matter of getting paperwork in order. It’s not just process for the sake of process. There are real consequences and real lives at stake. Congress’ power to authorize force, and accountability to the voters for how they wage that authority, is supposed to serve as an extra step between the whims of the executive and potentially deadly results. It’s a matter of a functioning democracy to ensure that that these checks and balances are in place. Indefinite authorizations like the Iraq war AUMF let Congress off the hook and put war on autopilot.

Enough is enough. It should be a top priority for Congress to correct its historic blunder of passing the buck when it comes to war and peace. After all, those who voted for the Iraq war authorization in the first place have been haunted by their choices years later. Consistently, across the ideological spectrum, the Iraq war is widely reviled and politically toxic. So, too, should those who decline to finally repeal that authority fear both the political and human consequences of their continued failure to act.

It’s time for Congress to follow the lead of advocates by not stopping until this authorization, which has caused so much suffering and will continue to do so until it is gone, takes its rightful place in the dustbin of history.

Elizabeth Beavers is an advisor to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest, on issues of militarism and human rights.

US Continues To Manipulate Massive Anti-US Iraqi Demonstrations and Conspirators

Crowds turn out in Iraq for anti-US and anti-Israel protest

Sadr betrays Iraq’s protests and tries to hijack them with his own

Al-Sadr announces halt of resistance against US in Iraq

Iraqi security forces raid protest camps after Sadr supporters withdraw

The mass protests in Iraq and the US drive to recolonize the Middle East



Iraq US troops Feature photo


Enormous Crowds at Iraq’s Million Man March Tell America to Leave for Good

An estimated 2.5 million Iraqis descended on Baghdad to stage a “Million Man March” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of their country.

People from all over Iraq have descended upon its capital Baghdad, heeding the call from influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a “million man march” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of the country. Images from the event show seas of peaceful crowds walking together through the city center. Sayed Sadiq al-Hashemi, the director of the Iraqi Center for Studies, estimated that more than 2.5 million took part in the demonstrations. While there are many divisions in Iraqi society, marchers hope to send a united message against American imperialism.

“Pompeo keeps going on about respecting Iraqi sovereignty. Well Iraqis want you out of their country,” said Lebanese-American journalist Rania Khalek, adding that the recent U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has seriously backfired, leading to a huge show of anti-American sentiment. She also took aim at the media coverage; “Whenever a couple hundred people protest against Iran, it trends on twitter. Yet when hundreds of thousands in Iraq protest against the US? No trending,” she said.

Khalek’s words were prophetic. The march has already concluded, yet coverage in Western media has been sparse, to say the least. A search for “Iraq” into the Google News search engine at 16:00 GMT Friday elicited just two articles in the Western press. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Quick Take released a since-corrected video, incorrectly describing the mass protests as merely “anti-government demonstrations.”

The message of the million man march was impossible to miss: the main stage of the event featured a huge banner with the words “GET OUT AMERICA” printed in giant upper case English letters, while protesters carried signs that featured slogans like “Americans elect moron criminals & the rest of the world suffers destruction,” “Trump is destroying America and the world,” and, perhaps most ominously, “You arrived vertically but will leave horizontally.”


The most comprehensive English language coverage by far was, ironically, from Iranian-government owned channel Press TV, who had live video feeds of the events with round-the-clock coverage and commentary in English. Ironic because last week Google deleted Press TV from its platforms, including YouTube, making it far harder for Western audiences to access it. The media attack on the public’s ability to hear alternative opinions continued as Facebook announced that, because of U.S. sanctions, it was legally compelled to remove all content that contradicted the Trump administration’s position on Soleimani’s assassination or shared an Iranian government perspective. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said. This is particularly problematic as Soleimani was, according to American surveys, “the most popular Iranian public figure” with over 80 percent of the country having a positive or very positive opinion of him. This effectively means that the Trump administration has control over the opinions that the world – and Iranians themselves – see on social media.

Although Soleimani’s assassination on January 3 sparked outrage in Iran, it was also deeply unpopular with Iraqis, who saw it as the latest example of the contempt the U.S. has for their country’s sovereignty. Little known outside the region is that the Soleimani had traveled to Baghdad for peace talks with Saudi Arabia at the behest of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Abdul-Mahdi specifically asked Trump for permission to invite him to his country. Trump acquiesced, then used the opportunity to kill him.

In response, the Iraqi parliament passed a unanimous resolution on January 5 (with many abstentions), calling for the expulsion of all U.S. troops. There are currently an estimated 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq, plus large numbers of mercenary contractors.

The Trump administration, however, has flatly refused to leave. In fact, it is greatly increasing the number of military personnel in the country as it prepares for a possible attack on Iran. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Donald Trump was even more imperious, threatening the entire country with “very big sanctions” as a punishment for telling America to leave.

Iraqis know the consequences of sanctions. American engineered sanctions killed over one million Iraqis during the 1990s, including half a million children, as the country literally starved to death under the economic blockade. The sanctions were labeled “genocidal” by successive U.N. diplomats who were charged with overseeing them. At the time, Secretary of State Madeline Albright brushed off the deaths, stating that they were a price worth paying. As a result of the millions of deaths caused by the sanctions and the 2003 invasion and occupation, the country has an unusually young population: the median age of an Iraqi is just 20 (in the U.S. it is 38). Therefore, most Iraqis have never seen their country free of American troops.

Feature photo | Demonstrators carry placards depicting U.S. President Donald Trump at a protest against the presence of US troops in Iraq on Jan. 24, 2020. Ala’a Al-Marjani | Reuters

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

Iran Fingers Kuwait As Source of Drone That Killed Soleimani, Making Kuwait An American Accomplice

Kuwait Denies Drone Used to Attack Soleimani Flew from its Territories

Farah Elbahrawy and Golnar Motevalli
(Bloomberg) — Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the U.S. drone used to kill a top Iranian general in Baghdad took off from a military base in Kuwait, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guards’ aerospace force.
The Guards had detected activity from the drone and fighter jets near Baghdad airport but didn’t know they were planning to target Qassem Soleimani, according to Hajizadeh. At least four military bases in the Persian Gulf were involved in the Jan. 3 operation, he said, according to the report late Wednesday.

Unidentified, Masked Thugs Murder Another Iranian IRGC Commander

IRGC Commander & “Soleimani Ally” Shot Dead By Masked Assassins On Motorcycle

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 11.17.43 AM

An elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander has been shot dead by masked assailants in front of his house in southwestern Iran. Crucially, he was a mid-range to possibly top commander of the IRGC’s hardline domestic wing, the Basij militia, and a close ally of recently assassinated Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, reports state news IRNA on Wednesday.

The details clearly suggest that it was an assassination — at this point by an unknown entity or group — given two men riding a motorcycle drove by and essentially executed him in the street.

Reuters has described the slain Basij militia commander, Abdolhossein Mojaddami, as “an ally of Qassem Soleimani” — who was himself assassinated by US drone strike on January 3rd.

“IRNA said that Abdolhossein Mojaddami, a Basij commander in the city of Darkhovin in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, was shot on Tuesday in front of his home by two men riding a motorcycle,” Reuters reports based on official Iranian state media quotes. “There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, IRNA said.”

The Associated Press added a few further limited details as follows:

Two gunmen on a motorcycle, armed with an assault rifle and a hunting rifle, ambushed Mojaddami, IRNA reported. Other Iranian media said the gunmen’s faces were covered with masks and that four shots were fired.

During sporadic protests going back to November, when unrest was fiercest inside Iran following a dramatic government gas subsidy cut — which saw economic protests give way to broader anti-regime mass gatherings — hundreds were reported gunned down by Basij militia working in tandem with police.

Tehran authorities defended security services’ use of deadly force, claiming “rioters” were attacking banks, oil facilities, and government buildings.

Interestingly, the Khuzestan region witnessed severe unrest as protesters clashed with police in November, and has since seen sporadic anti-government activity. It’s also considered one of the key oil-producing regions of the country.

Of course, this latest killing also brings up the possibility of a foreign or external intelligence agency operation, though it remains speculation. One likely candidate alleged to enjoy US and Israeli covert backing is Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK), considered by Iran and many other countries as an active terrorist organization. Groups in Iran linked to the MEK have been previously known to be involved in political assassinations.

Essentially a paramilitary cult devoted to overthrowing the Iranian government, the MEK is under the tight control and leadership of the charismatic opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, and is suspected of previously conducting brazen targeted killings of high level Iranian figures, especially nuclear scientists and engineers for years, likely at the bidding of foreign intelligence services. Until

Aftermath–The Iran War After The Soleimani Assassination The Polemicist

Aftermath: The Iran War After The Soleimani Assassination

The Polemicist

Common Dreams/Getty

“Praise be to God, who made our enemies fools.” – Ayatollah Khamenei

The Killing

I’ve been writing and speaking for months about the looming danger of war with Iran, often to considerable skepticism.

In June, in an essay entitled “Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back,” after the U.S. initiated its “maximum pressure” blockade of Iranian oil exports, I pointed out that “Iran considers that it is already at war,” and that the downing of the U.S. drone was a sign that “Iran is calling the U.S. bluff on escalation dominance.”

In an October essay, I pointed out that Trump’s last-minute calling off of the U.S. attack on Iran in June, his demurral again after the Houthi attack on Saudi oil facilities, and his announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria were seen as “catastrophic” and “a big win for Iran” by the Iran hawks in Israel and America whose efforts New York Times (NYT) detailed  in an important article, “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran.” I said, with emphasis, “It always goes to Iran,” and underlined that Trump’s restraint was particularly galling to hard-line zionist Republican Senators, and might have opened a path to impeachment. I cited the reported statement of a “veteran political consultant” that “The price of [Lindsey] Graham’s support… would be an eventual military strike on Iran.”

And in the middle of December, I went way out on a limb, in an essay suggesting a possible relation between preparations for war in Iran and the impeachment process. I pointed out that the strategic balance of forces between Israel and Iran had reached the point where Israel thinks it’s “necessary to take Iran down now,” in “the next six months,” before the Iranian-supported Axis of Resistance accrues even more power. I speculated that the need to have a more reliable and internationally-respected U.S. President fronting a conflict with Iran might be the unseen reason—behind the flimsy Articles of Impeachment—that explains why Pelosi and Schumer “find it so urgent to replace Trump before the election and why they think they can succeed in doing that.”

So, I was the guy chicken-littling about impending war with Iran.

But even I was flabbergasted by what Trump did. Absolutely gobsmacked. Killing Qassem Soleimani, Iranian general, leader of the Quds forces, and the most respected military leader in the Middle East? And Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) unit, Kataib Hezbollah? Did not see that coming. Rage. Fear. Sadness. Anxiety. A few days just to register that it really happened. To see the millions of people bearing witness to it. Yes, that happened.

Then there was the anxious anticipation about the Iranian response, which came surprisingly quickly, and with admirable military and political precision, avoiding a large-scale war in the region, for the moment.

That was the week that was.

But, as the man said: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” And it ain’t over. Recognizing the radical uncertainty of the world we now live in, and recognizing that its future will be determined by actors and actions far away from the American leftist commentariat, here’s what I need to say about the war we are now in.

The first thing, the thing that is so sad and so infuriating and so centrally symptomatic of everything wrong with American political culture, is that, with painfully few exceptions, Americans have no idea of what their government has done. They have no idea who Qassem Soleimani was, what he has accomplished, the web of relationships, action, and respect he has built, what his assassination means and will bring. The last person who has any clue about this, of course, is Donald Trump, who called Soleimani “a total monster.” His act of killing Soleimani is the apotheosis of the abysmal, arrogant ignorance of U.S. political culture.

It’s virtually impossible to explain to Americans because there is no one of comparable stature in the U.S. or in the West today. As Iran cleric Shahab Mohadi said, when talking about what a “proportional response” might be: ”[W]ho should we consider to take out in the context of America? ‘Think about it. Are we supposed to take out Spider-Man and SpongeBob?… ‘All of their heroes are cartoon characters — they’re all fictional.” Trump? Lebanese Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah said what many throughout the world familiar with both of them would agree with: “the shoe of Qassem Soleimani is worth the head of Trump and all American leaders.”

To understand the respect Soleimani has earned, not only in Iran (where his popularity was around 80%) but throughout the region and across political and sectarian lines, you have to know how he led and organized the forces that helped save ChristiansKurds, Yazidis and others from being slaughtered by ISIS, while Barack Obama and John Kerry were still “watching” ISIS advance and using it as a tool to “manage” their war against Assad.

In an informative interview with Aaron Maté, Former Marine Intelligence Officer and weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, explains how Soleimani is honored in Iraq for organizing the resistance that saved Baghdad from being overrun by ISIS—and the same could be said of Syria, Damascus, or Ebril:

He’s a legend in Iran, in Iraq, and in Syria. And anywhere where, frankly speaking, he’s operated, the people he’s worked with view him as one of the greatest leaders, thinkers, most humane men of all time. I know in America we demonize him as a terrorist but the fact is he wasn’t, and neither is Mr. Mohandes.

When ISIS [was] driving down on the city of Baghdad,…the U.S. armed and trained Iraqi Army had literally thrown down their weapons and ran away, and there was nothing standing between ISIS and Baghdad…

[Soleimani] came in from Iran and led the creation of the PMF [Popular Mobilization Forces] as a viable fighting force and then motivated them to confront Isis in ferocious hand-to-hand combat in villages and towns outside of Baghdad, driving Isis back and stabilizing the situation that allowed the United States to come in and get involved in the Isis fight. But if it weren’t for Qassem Soleimani and Mohandes and Kataib Hezbollah, Baghdad might have had the black flag of ISIS flying over it. So the Iraqi people haven’t forgotten who stood up and defended Baghdad from the scourge of ISIS.

So, to understand Soleimani in Western terms, you’d have to evoke someone like World War II Eisenhower (or Marshall Zhukov, but that gets another blank stare from Americans.) Think I’m exaggerating? Take it from the family of the Shah:

Beyond his leadership of the fight against ISIS, you also have to understand Soleimani’s strategic acumen in building the Axis of Resistance—the network of armed local groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as the PMF in Iraq, that Soleimani helped organize and provide with growing military capability. Soleimani meant standing up; he helped people throughout the region stand up to the shit the Americans, Israelis, and Saudis were constantly dumping on them

More apt than Eisenhower and De Gaulle, in world-historical terms, try something like Saladin meets Che. What a tragedy, and travesty, it is that legend-in-his-own-mind Donald Trump killed this man.

(Nasser NasserAP)

Dressed to Kill

But it is not just Trump, and not just the assassination of Soleimani, that we should focus on. These are actors and events within an ongoing conflict with Iran, which was ratcheted up when the U.S. renounced the nuclear deal (JCPOA – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and instituted a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic and financial sanctions on Iran and third countries, designed to drive Iran’s oil exports to zero.

The purpose of this blockade is to create enough social misery to force Iran into compliance, or provoke Iran into military action that would elicit a “justifiable” full-scale, regime-change—actually state-destroying—military attack on the country.

From its inception, Iran has correctly understood this blockade as an act of war, and has rightfully expressed its determination to fight back. Though it does not want a wider war, and has so far carefully calibrated its actions to avoid making it necessary, Iran will fight back however it deems necessary.

The powers-that-be in Iran and the U.S. know they are at war, and that the Soleimani assassination ratcheted that state of war up another significant notch; only Panglossian American pundits think the “w” state is yet to be avoided. Sorry, but the United States drone-bombed an Iranian state official accompanied by an Iraqi state official, in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Prime Minister, on a conflict-resolution mission requested by Donald Trump himself. In anybody’s book, that is an act of war—and extraordinary treachery, even in wartime, the equivalent of shooting someone who came to parley under a white flag.

Indeed, we now know that the assassination of Soleimani was only one of two known assassination attempts against senior Iranian officers that day. There was also an unsuccessful strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, another key commander in Iran’s Quds Force who has been active in Yemen. According to the Washington Post, this marked a “departure for the Pentagon’s mission in Yemen, which has sought to avoid direct involvement” or make “any publicly acknowledged attacks on Houthi or Iranian leaders in Yemen.”

Of course, because it’s known as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the Pentagon wants to avoid “publicly” bloodying its hands in the Saudi war in Yemen. Through two presidential administrations, it has been trying to minimize attention to its indispensable support of, and presence in, Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen with drone strikesspecial forces operations, refueling of aircraft, and intelligence and targeting. It’s such a nasty business that even the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. military involvement in that war, which was vetoed by Trump.

According to the ethic and logic of American exceptionalism, Iran is forbidden from helping the Houthis, but the U.S. is allowed to assassinate their advisors and help the Saudis bomb the crap out of them.

So, the Trump administration is clearly engaged in an organized campaign to take out senior Iranian leaders, part of what it considers a war against Iran. In this war, the Trump administration no longer pretends to give a damn about any fig leaf of law or ethics. Nobody takes seriously the phony “imminence” excuse for killing Soleimani, which even Trump says “doesn’t matter,” or the “bloody hands” justification, which could apply to any military commander. And let’s not forget: Soleimani was “talking about bad stuff.”

The U.S. is demonstrating outright contempt for any framework of respectful international relations, let alone international law. National sovereignty? Democracy? Whatever their elected governments say, we’ll will keep our army in Syria to “take the oil,” and in Iraq to…well, to do whatever the hell we want. “Rules-based international order”? Sure, we make the rules and you follow our orders.

The U.S.’s determination to stay in Iraq, in defiance of the explicit, unequivocal demand of the friendly democratic government that the U.S. itself supposedly invaded the country to install, is particularly significant. It draws the circle nicely. It demonstrates that the Iraq war isn’t over. Because it, and the wars in Libya and Syria, and the war that’s ratcheting up against Iran are all the same war that the U.S. has been waging in the Middle East since 2003. In the end is the beginning, and all that.

We’re now in the endgame of the serial offensive that Wesley Clark described in 2007, starting with Iraq and “finishing off” with Iran. Since the U.S. has attacked, weakened, divided, or destroyed every other un-coopted polity in the region (Iraq, Syria, Libya) that could pose any serious resistance to the predations of U.S. imperialism and Israel colonialism, it has fallen to Iran to be the last and best source of material and military support which allows that resistance to persist.

And Iran has taken up the task, through the work of the Quds Force under leaders like Soleimani and Shahlai, the work of building a new Axis of Resistance with the capacity to resist the dictates of Israel and the U.S. throughout the region. It’s work that is part of a war and will result in casualties among U.S. and U.S.-allied forces and damage to their “interests.”

What the U.S. (and its wards, Israel and Saudi Arabia) fears most is precisely the kind of material, technical, and combat support and training that allows the Houthis to beat back the Saudis and Americans in Yemen, and retaliate with stunningly accurate blows on crucial oil facilities in Saudi Arabia itself. The same kind of help that Soleimani gave to the armed forces of Syria and the PMF in Iraq to prevent those countries from being overrun and torn apart by the U.S. army and its sponsored jihadis, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon to deter Israel from demolishing and dividing that country at will.

It’s that one big “endless” war that’s been waged by every president since 2003, which American politicians and pundits have been scratching their heads and squeezing their brains to figure out how to explain, justify (if it’s their party’s President in charge), denounce (if it’s the other party’s POTUS), or just bemoan as “senseless.” But to the neocons who are driving it and their victims—it makes perfect sense and is understood to have been largely a success. Only the befuddled U.S. media and the deliberately-deceived U.S. public think it’s “senseless,” and remain enmired in the cock-up theory of U.S. foreign policy, which is a blindfold we had better shed before being led to the next very big slaughter.

The one big war makes perfect sense when one understands that the United States has thoroughly internalized Israel’s interests as its own. That this conflation has been successfully driven by a particular neocon faction, and that it is excessive, unnecessary and perhaps disruptive to other effective U.S. imperial possibilities, is demonstrated precisely by the constant plaint from non-neocon, including imperialist, quarters that it’s all so “senseless.”

The result is that the primary object of U.S. policy (its internalized zionist imperative) in this war­ is to enforce that Israel must be able, without any threat of serious retaliation, to carry out any military attack on any country in the region at any time, to seize any territory and resources (especially water) it needs, and, of course, to impose any level of colonial violence against Palestinians—from home demolitions, to siege and sniper killings (Gaza), to de jure as well as de facto apartheid and eventual further mass expulsions, if deems necessary.

That has required, above all, removing—by co-option, regime change, or chaotogenic sectarian warfare and state destruction—any strong central governments that have provided political, diplomatic, financial, material, and military support for the Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonialism. Iran is the last of those, has been growing in strength and influence, and is therefore the next mandatory target.

For all the talk of “Iranian proxies,” I’d say, if anything, that the U.S., with its internalized zionist imperative, is effectively acting as Israel’s proxy.

It’s also important, I think, to clarify the role of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in this policy. KSA is absolutely a very important player in this project, which has been consistent with its interests. But its (and its oil’s) influence on the U.S. is subsidiary to Israel’s, and depends entirely on KSA’s complicity with the Israeli agenda. The U.S. political establishment is not overwhelmingly committed to Saudi/Wahhabi policy imperatives—as a matter, they think, of virtue—as they are to Israeli/Zionist ones. It is inconceivable that a U.S. Vice-President would declare “I am a Wahhabi,” or a U.S. President say “I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die” for Saudi Arabia—with nobody even noticing. The U.S. will turn on a dime against KSA if Israel wants it; the reverse would never happen. We have to confront the primary driver of this policy if we are to defeat it, and too many otherwise superb analysts, like Craig Murray, are mistaken and diversionary, I think, in saying things like the assassination of Soleimani and the drive for war on Iran represent the U.S. “doubling down on its Saudi allegiance.” So, sure, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Batman and Robin.

Iran has quite clearly seen and understood what’s unfolding, and has prepared itself for the finale that is coming its way.

The final offensive against Iran was supposed to follow the definitive destruction of the Syrian Baathist state, but that project was interrupted (though not yet abandoned) by the intervention of Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran—the latter precisely via the work of Soleimani and the Quds Force.

Current radical actions like the two assassination strikes against Iranian Quds Force commanders signal the Trump administration jumping right to the endgame, as that neocon hawks have been “agitating for.” The idea—borrowed, perhaps from Israel’s campaign of assassinating Iranian scientists—is that killing off the key leaders who have supplied and trained the Iranian-allied networks of resistance throughout the region will hobble any strike from those networks if/when the direct attack on Iran comes.

Per Patrick Lawrence, the Soleimani assassination “was neither defensive nor retaliatory: It reflected the planning of the administration’s Iran hawks, who were merely awaiting the right occasion to take their next, most daring step toward dragging the U.S. into war with Iran.” It means that war is on and it will get worse fast.

It is crucial to understand that Iran is not going to passively submit to any such bullying. It will not be scared off by some “bloody nose” strike, followed by chest-thumping from Trump, Netanyahu, or Hillary about how they will “obliterate” Iran. Iran knows all that. It also knows, as I’ve said before, how little damage—especially in terms of casualties—Israel and the U.S. can take. It will strike back. In ways that will be calibrated as much as possible to avoid a larger war, but it will strike back.

Iran’s strike on Ain al-Asad base in Iraq was a case in point. It was preceded by a warning through Iraq that did not specify the target but allowed U.S. personnel in the country to hunker down. It also demonstrated deadly precision and determination, hitting specific buildings where U.S. troops work, and, we now know, causing at least eleven acknowledged casualties.

Those casualties were minor, but you can bet they would have been the excuse for a large-scale attack, if the U.S. had been entirely unafraid of the response. In fact, Trump did launch that attack over the downing of a single unmanned drone—and Pompeo and the neocon crew, including Republican Senators, were ”stunned” that he called it off in literally the last ten minutes. It’s to the eternal shame of what’s called the “left” in this country that we may have Tucker Carlson to thank for Trump’s bouts of restraint.

There Will Be Blood

But this is going to get worse, Pompeo is now threatening Iran’s leaders that “any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response.” Since Iran has ties of some kind with most armed groups in the region and the U.S. decides what “proxy” and “interests” means, that means that any act of resistance to the U.S., Israel, or other “ally” by anybody—including, for example, the Iraqi PMF forces who are likely to retaliate against the U.S. for killing their leader—will be an excuse for attacking Iran. Any anything. Call it an omnibus threat.

The groundwork for a final aggressive push against Iran began back in June, 2017, when, under then-Director Pompeo, the CIA set up a stand-alone Iran Mission Center. That Center replaced a group of “Iran specialists who had no special focus on regime change in Iran,” because “Trump’s people wanted a much more focused and belligerent group.” The purpose of this—as of any—Mission Center was to “elevate” the country as a target and “bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action” against Iran. This one is especially concerned with Iran’s “increased capacity to deliver missile systems” to Hezbollah or the Houthis that could be used against Israel or Saudi Arabia, and Iran’s increased strength among the Shia militia forces in Iraq. The Mission Center is headed by Michael D’Andrea, who is perceived as having an “aggressive stance toward Iran.” D’Andrea, known as “the undertaker” and “Ayatollah Mike,” is himself a convert to Islam, and notorious for his “central role in the agency’s torture and targeted killing programs.”

This was followed in December, 2017, by the signing of a pact with Israel “to take on Iran,” which took place, according to Israeli television, at a “secret” meeting at the White House. This pact was designed to coordinate “steps on the ground” against “Tehran and its proxies.” The biggest threats: “Iran’s ballistic missile program and its efforts to build accurate missile systems in Syria and Lebanon,” and its activity in Syria and support for Hezbollah. The Israelis considered that these secret “dramatic understandings” would have “far greater impact” on Israel than Trump’s more public and notorious recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital.

The Iran Mission Center is a war room. The pact with Israel is a war pact.

The U.S. and Israeli governments are out to “take on” Iran. Their major concerns, repeated everywhere, are Iran’s growing military power, which underlies its growing political influence—specifically its precision ballistic missile and drone capabilities, which it is sharing with its allies throughout the region, and its organization of those armed resistance allies, which is labelled “Iranian aggression.”

These developments must be stopped because they provide Iran and other actors the ability to inflict serious damage on Israel. They create the unacceptable situation where Israel cannot attack anything it wants without fear of retaliation. For some time, Israel has been reluctant to take on Hezbollah in Lebanon, having already been driven back by them once because the Israelis couldn’t take the casualties in the field. Now Israel has to worry about an even more battle-hardened Hezbollah, other well-trained and supplied armed groups, and those damn precision missiles. One cannot overstress how important those are, and how adamant the U.S. and Israel are that Iran get rid of them. As another Revolutionary Guard commander says: “Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides…if only one missile hits the occupied lands, Israeli airports will be filled with people trying to run away from the country.”

This campaign is overseen in the U.S. by the likes of “praying for war with Iran” Christian Zionists Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who together “urged” Trump to approve the killing of Soleimani. Pence, whom the Democrats are trying to make President, is associated with Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which paid for his and his wife’s pilgrimage to Israel in 2014, and is run by lunatic televangelist John Hagee, whom even John McCain couldn’t stomach. Pompeo, characterized as the “brainchild” of the assassination, thinks Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. (Patrick Lawrence argues the not-implausible case that Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper ordered the assassination and stuck Trump with it.) No Zionists are more fanatical than Christian Zionists. These guys are not going to stop.

And Iran is not going to surrender. Iran is no longer afraid of the escalation dominance game. Do not be fooled by peace-loving illusions—propagated mainly now by mealy-mouthed European and Democratic politicians—that Iran will return to what’s described as “unconditional” negotiations, which really means negotiating under the absolutely unacceptable condition of economic blockade, until the U.S. gets what it wants. Not gonna happen. Iran’s absolutely correct condition for any negotiation with the U.S. is that the U.S. return to the JCPOA and lift all sanctions.

Also not gonna happen, though any real peace-loving Democratic candidate would specifically and unequivocally commit to doing just that if elected. The phony peace-loving poodles of Britain, France, and Germany (the EU3) have already cast their lot with the aggressive American policy, triggering a dispute mechanism that will almost certainly result in a “snapback” of full UN sanctions on Iran within 65 days, and destroy the JCPOA once and for all. Because, they, too, know Iran’s nuclear weapons program is a fake issue and have “always searched for ways to put more restrictions on Iran, especially on its ballistic missile program.” Israel can have all the nuclear weapons it wants, but Iran must give up those conventional ballistic missiles. Cannot overstate their importance.

Iran is not going to submit to any of this. The only way Iran is going to part with its ballistic missiles is by using them. The EU3 maneuver will not only end the JCPOA, it may drive Iran out of the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As Moon of Alabama says, the EU3 gambit is “not designed to reach an agreement but to lead to a deeper conflict” and ratchet the war up yet another notch. The Trump administration and its European allies are—as FDR did to Japan—imposing a complete economic blockade that Iran will have to find a way to break out of. It’s deliberately provocative, and makes the outbreak of a regional/world war more likely. Which is its purpose.

This certainly marks the Trump administration as having crossed a war threshold the Obama administration avoided. Credit due to Obama for forging ahead with the JCPOA in the face of fierce resistance from Netanyahu and his Republican and Democratic acolytes, like Chuck Schumer. But that deal itself was built upon false premises and extraordinary conditions and procedures that—as the current actions of the EU3 demonstrate—made it a trap for Iran.

With his Iran policy, as with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, what Trump is doing—and can easily demonstrate—is taking to its logical and deadly conclusion the entire imperialist-zionist conception of the Middle East, which all major U.S. politicians and media have embraced and promulgated over decades, and cannot abandon.

With the Soleimani assassination, Trump both allayed some of the fears of Iran war hawks in Israel and the U.S. about his “reluctance to flex U.S. military muscle” and re-stoked all their fears about his impulsiveness, unreliability, ignorance, and crassness. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, Israel leaders are both “quick to praise” his action and “having a crisis of confidence” over Trump’s ability to “manage” a conflict with Iran—an ambivalence echoed in every U.S. politician’s “Soleimani was a terrorist, but…” statement.

Trump does exactly what the narrative they all promote demands, but he makes it look and sound all thuggish and scary. They want someone whose rhetorical finesse will talk us into war on Iran as a humanitarian and liberating project. But we should be scared and repelled by it. The problem isn’t the discrepancy in Trump between actions and attitudes, but the duplicity in the fundamental imperialist-zionist narrative. There is no “good”—non-thuggish, non-repellent—way to do the catastrophic violence it demands. Too many people discover that only after it’s done.

Trump, in other words, has just started a war that the U.S. political elite constantly brought us to the brink of, and some now seem desperate to avoid, under Trump’s leadership. But not a one will abandon the zionist and American-exceptionalist premises that make it inevitable—about, you know, dictating what weapons which countries can “never” have. Hoisted on their own petard. As are we all.

To be clear: Iran will try its best to avoid all-out war. The U.S. will not. This is the war that, as the NYT reports, “Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for.” It will start, upon some pretext, with a full-scale U.S. air attack on Iran, followed by Iranian and allied attacks on U.S. forces and allies in the region, including Israel, and then an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran—which they think will end it. It is an incomprehensible disaster. And it’s becoming almost impossible to avoid.

The best prospect for stopping it would be for Iran and Russia to enter into a mutual defense treaty right now. But that’s not going to happen. Neither Russia nor China is going to fight for Iran. Why would they? They will sit back and watch the war destroy Iran, Israel, and the United States.

Happy New Year.

The Zionist/Neocon War Beast Is Alive and Well, In Control of Trump’s Brain

David Wurmser and Trump’s Zionist Occupied Brain

a.k.a., Another Day in the Empire – by Kurt Nimmo

It’s antisemitism time. If you criticize Israel and the cadre of chickenhawk neocons steering Donald Trump’s foreign policy, you will be pilloried and exiled to the political wilderness, forever condemned as a white supremacist.

Scratch a little bit beneath the surface and you will discover at the core of this anti-free speech campaign a rabid Zionist, the same Zionist agitators responsible for advocating and organizing the murder of over a million Iraqis.  

It’s no longer permissible to criticize Jewish neocons. The very word “neocon” is considered an antisemitic slur because most of these chickenhawk war criminals are Jewish. It is never mentioned in the NYT or WaPo that the second Iraq mass murder campaign was strictly a Zionist (another word that will get you labeled an antisemite) affair designed to benefit Israel at the expense of the United States. 

Jon Schwarz, writing for The Intercept, tells us something many of us already knew—the forever war neocons are embedded deep within the Trump administration, led by David Wurmser. 

“An influential neoconservative in President George W. Bush’s White House who became a significant force behind the push for war with Iraq in 2003, Wurmser has recently been serving as an informal adviser to the Trump administration, according to new reporting from Bloomberg News. In that capacity, Wurmser helped make the case for the recent drone strike that assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani,” Schwarz writes. 

During the reign of the second dynastic Bush, Wurmser advised Dick Cheney on how best to destroy Iraq and  immiserate millions of people and kill what turned out to be a million and a half Iraqis, the vast majority innocent civilians. 

Wurmer’s inside man in the Trump WH was John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser and one of the most vociferous and hateful non-Jewish individuals within the creative destruction klatch. Bolton’s over the top calls for endless violence, cruelty, and his apparent inability to kowtow to the narcissist Trump resulted in his departure from the administration. 

Bolton may be gone but the Zionist blueprint for undermining Israel’s neighbors and gobbling up as much land and expelling (in addition to torturing and murdering) as many native inhabitants as possible. This is being driven from afar and in secret by David Wurmser and his equally repugnant wife, Meyrav, from the heights of the vile Zionists outfit, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Meyrav helped found the organization. As well, she is the director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the neocon-infested Hudson Institute.

Her husband played a key role in the pro-Zionist formulations at the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. The Wurmsers are rock-ribbed Zionist provocateurs. 

David Wurmser might be considered a guardian of the neocon mission. In 2018, he sent a letter to Newt Gingrich demanding then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson purge all staffers at the State Department not sufficiently loyal to Trump—that is to say, not sufficiently loyal to the neocon cause, which is Israel’s cause. 

He is responsible in large part (along with his wife, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle) for A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, a document prepared for incoming Likud PM Bibi Netanyahu. The document recommends working closely with “Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll back” regional threats (for instance, advocating on behalf of the Palestinians) and using “Israeli proxy forces” based in Lebanon for “striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon.”

If that should “prove insufficient, [Israel should strike] at select targets in Syria proper.” It argues “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria.” This would create a “natural axis” between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq, and Turkey that “would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula,” which “could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.”

The staying power of the neocons—analogous to the grip of a pit bull—is one of the more remarkable political stories of our time. The exit of the neocons during the second term of George W. Bush was viewed by many as a purge from the government of a group of fanatical ideologues doing the work of a foreign government. 

The neocons, of course, didn’t disappear—they slunk back to their think tanks and foundations and conspired with more politically palatable (and more skilled at telling lies) “humanitarian interventionists” in the Obama administration. 

The result was 30,000 dead in Libya, the engineered influx of crazed Wahhabi mercenaries in Syria (over 600,000 Syrians killed thus far) under the direction of the cackling war criminal Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State.

Obama also continued and expanded Bush’s illegal drone murder program and intensified the war against whistleblowers such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Obama redoubled the war on investigative journalism. Despite all this, Democrats consider Obama a saint. 

It has been obvious for many months that Donald Trump is nothing if not an automaton for the Israelis. He routinely fawns over Israeli war criminals and medieval Saudi head-choppers. He has given Israel whatever it wants—billions of dollars a year, recognition through an embassy in contested Jerusalem, a thumbs-up for Israel’s theft of around 700 square miles of land in Syria, encouragement to finally annex the West Bank and squeeze out the Palestinians, considered drugged cockroaches in a bottle by the Zionist settler-racists, and a program aimed at the heart of the Bill of Rights in America to stifle any criticism of this brutal little racist state and its war on Palestinian women and children (along with shooting, killing, and maiming activists, medics, and journalists). 

Of course, Donald Trump is a dupe for fanatical Zionists determined to expel all Arabs and non-Jewish goyim from its half-pint country established on mass graves and the bloody remains of terror attacks (the King David Hotel, Deir Yassin, Lydda, al-Dawayima, Qibya, and many others). 

Trump’s brain is not his own. It is owned by his orthodox Jewish son-in-law and his converted wife. The president’s obsessively self-referential brain is influenced by Sheldon Adelson (he gave Trump over $100 million during the campaign) and his wife Miriam (who wants a “Book of Trump” inserted in the Old Testament), in addition to other Jewish mega-donors, and a groundswell of enthusiastic support among orthodox Jewish voters.

Thus it is hardly a surprise the neocon’s neocon, David Wurmser, is a puppet master driving USG foreign policy in the Middle East. He has the chops, the experience, the appetite for dispossessing and arranging the murder of Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians, and Lebanese. 

Another Day in the Empire

Eventful Days…Drone Ban Over Va. Gun Rally, Richmond…Military GPS Jamming Exercise Over S. E. US


GPS reception may be unavailable or unreliable over a large portion of the southeastern states and the Caribbean during offshore military exercises scheduled between January 16 and 24.

Graphic depicting area of GPS interference testing. Courtesy of the FAA.

Graphic depicting area of GPS interference testing. Courtesy of the FAA.

The FAA has posted a flight advisory for the exercises that will require jamming of GPS signals for periods of several hours each day of the event. Navigation guidance, ADS-B, and other services associated with GPS could be affected for up to 400 nautical miles at Flight Level 400, down to a radius of 180 nm at 50 feet above the ground.

The flight advisory encourages pilots to report any GPS anomalies they encounter. Reports may be submitted using this online form.AOPA reported on a similar event in the southeastern United States in 2019.

AOPA is aware of hundreds of reports of interference to aircraft during events around the country for which notices to airmen were issued, and we consider the risks to GA aircraft highly concerning.

In one example, an aircraft lost navigation capability and did not regain it until after landing. Other reports have highlighted aircraft veering off course and heading toward active military airspace—and the wide range of reports makes it clear that interference affects aircraft differently. In some cases, recovery from signal interference may not occur until well after the aircraft exits the jammed area.

In a January 2019 AOPA survey, more than 64 percent of 1,239 pilots who responded noted concern about the impact of interference on their use of GPS and ADS-B.

AOPA continues to advocate for officials to place more focus on efforts to address the well-documented safety concerns raised by such events.


Dan Namowitz Associate Editor Web has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.


Drones banned over Richmond area during gun-rallies and counter-rallies

NOTAM Number : FDC 0/4707
Issue Date : January 17, 2020 at 1407 UTC
Type : Security
Plain Language text is not available for this NOTAM. The traditional NOTAM text is given below:


Other Information: Top
ARTCC: ZDC – Washington Center
Authority: Title 14 CFR section 99.7

Were 139 US Soldiers Killed In Iranian Airstrikes?




Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at his blog

First, since we have more reliable data about what happened, let me recap a few key points to being:

    1. It is has now become pretty clear that Iran took several steps to make sure that the US would know when and where the strike would happen. Specifically, Iran warned the Iraqi government and the Swiss diplomats who represent US interests in Iran.
    2. Yet, at the same time, Iran issued the strongest threat it could possibly issue: it told the US that *any* counter-strike aimed at Iran would result in a strong Iranian attack on Israel.
    3. The US quite clearly took the decision not to retaliate and to “forget” Trump’s promise to strike at 54 Iranian targets.  I want to stress here that this was the correct decision under these circumstances.
    4. It also appears that the Iranians were able to somehow retrofit some kind of terminal guidance capability on missiles which originally lacked it.
    5. The level or precision of the strikes was absolutely superb and quite amazing.
    6. Trump declared that Iran decided to step down and that the US had prevailed.  This notion is, of course, prima facie ridiculous, but not for folks getting their news from the corporate media.
    7. The Iranians declared that this specific strike was now over, but immediately added that this was only a first measure and that other would follow.

Next, I want to share a few interesting photos with you.

First, here is a photo of the base following the strikes sent to me by a friend:

The Saker: "The AngloZionist Empire vs Iran"

Click to see the full-size image

Here is what my friend added: The key idea is really simple and understandable for anybody who has thought about statistics (even in an everyday context). In number terms, it’s almost like rolling a dice and getting a 6 three times in a row, because the probability of rolling a 6 with an ideal dice is 16.67% (and the probability to roll 3 sixes in a row is less than 1%) as opposed to roughly 18% probability for a hit on a building within the map area in the CNN screenshot (if we assume the missiles to be unguided within this area). To be even more precise, the probability for hitting 3 *different* buildings 3 times in a row is actually even slightly lower than 0.62%, as one would have to substract the area being hit from the total area covered by buildings (I ignored that for simplicity). A less than 1% probability for a one-off event like this means that it is really highly UNlikely – to use the British Skripal case expression in its inverted state – to have happened randomly, as we assumed in our hypothesis. Which means that the missiles were, indeed, guided, and guided very accurately, striking targets of less than ~50m size with a high degree of reliability (in this particular area 3/3, in others probably 1/1 as in the runway case, etc). Perhaps, some of them, not covered by the satellite images, missed the target, but it does not substantially change the high degree of accuracy that potential Iranian opponents within reach of these missiles will have to assume from now on.  The people most interested in this were probably the Israelis, as they are probably the main potential target for this type of missile in the case of a future escalation.

Please note that neither my friend nor I are professional imagery analysts and that this is just something my friend shared with me in a private email and which I now want to share with you.

If any professional imagery analyst could either confirm/refute my friend’s conclusions, I would be most grateful.

Next, I want to share with you the following image which shows Iranian IRGC General Ali Amir Hajizadeh reviews results of recent Iranian missile strikes on Ain al-Assad airbase in Iraq during a press conference:

The Saker: "The AngloZionist Empire vs Iran"

Click to see the full-size image

Clearly, the Iranians are very proud of their capability to conduct true precision strikes with an accuracy every bit as good as any Russian and/or US missile.

Finally, check out this image of the Iranian general making a press conference in front of a very interesting row of flags:

The Saker: "The AngloZionist Empire vs Iran"

Click to see the full-size image

These flags include the following: The Iranian flag, the IRGC flag, the flag of IRGC’s Aerospace Force, the flag of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah flag, the flag of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the Palestinian Hamas, the Afghan Liwa Fatemiyoun and the Pakistani Liwa Zainebiyoun

I find this very interesting: when Trump (or any other US politician) makes a solemn pronouncement, he typically has a number of aides, advisors, generals, Congressmen or Senators, etc.  This is supposed the show the determination, resolve and unity of Uncle Shmuel, especially when Uncle Shmuel does something illegal or immoral.

The Iranian show of unity does not show more Iranians, they show the unity of all the forces in the Middle-East who have now officially united and whose goal is clear and very official: kick Uncle Shmuel out of the Middle-East.

You tell me which you find more impressive!

Next, the issue of casualties.  Frankly, and while this is only my best guess, I do not believe the Iranian official casualty figures.  Why?  Well, first the Iranians did not try to maximize casualties (more about that option below), and they informed the US by several back-channels.  But even if they had not, while the performance of the Patriot missile is pretty awful, the US does have a lot of top of the line technical intelligence means which would allow them to first detect the launch of the missiles from Iran and then to calculate their ballistic trajectory.  As far as I know, now I might be wrong here, Iranian missiles do not have terminal maneuvering capability (which is different from terminal guidance).  I can’t image why US commanders could not announce a incoming missile alert and then get all the local personnel into shelters.  Again, I might be missing something, so if any reader can correct me, I would be grateful.

So what happened, really?

Here are a few of my current working hypotheses:

1) BOTH the USA and Iran don’t want a fullscale war.  But for VERY different reasons:

  • The US probably understands that it cannot win a war against Iran
  • The Iranians definitely understand that while the US cannot “win”, it most definitely can kill Iranians by the thousands and inflict immense damage upon the Iranian society

2) What just took place was the single most dangerous moment since 14 April 2018 when Russia and the US came very, very close to a full-scale war.  In the current situation, the US and Iran also came very, very close to a full scale war.  The only reason I rank this latest crisis lower than the April 14th is that in one case we risked a planetary nuclear war whereas in this case we “only” risked a regional war which, by the way, could have seen nukes used by the US and Israel.

3) There STILL is a risk of full-scale war between the US and Iran, however, and barring a major unforeseen event, I will lower it now down from 80% to a much more tolerable 50%.  Why 50%?  Because Israel and the Israel Lobby will continue to push for a US attack on Iran and because while I trust the Iranians to keep their anti-US operations right below the threshold of “plausible deniability”, I cannot be sure that all Iranian allies will show similar restraint.  Finally, the chances of an Israeli false flag as still sky high.

4) I expect anti-US operations to continue and even expand throughout the Middle-East.  I don’t expect that these operations will be executed from Iran and I don’t expect Iranian forces to be involved, at least not officially.  The Iranians know that the US has lost every single counter-insurgency war it was involved in and they know that their best chance is now to engage in all forms of asymmetrical operations.

Finally, I want to spell out what we could call the new Iranian threat.

We have to assume that Iran now has terminal guidance capability on many (most?) of its ballistic and cruise missiles and that they can destroy one specific building amongst many more buildings.  Now, remember the Iranian reply that it had 35 US bases within missile range?  Now imagine this first one:

  • Iran fires 10-12 missile on each and every one of the 35 US bases listed and targets barracks, fuel and ammo dumps, key command posts, etc.  How many casualties do you think that such a strike would result in?

Next, let’s try the same thing with Israel:

  • Iran fires 2-3 missiles but carefully aims them as Israeli air force bases, personnel barracks, industrial sites (including chemical and nuclear sites, not even necessarily military ones! Dimona anybody?), the Knesset or even Bibi’s personal residence.  Can you imagine the panic in Israel?

How about the KSA?

  • Iran fires a large amount of missiles aimed at *truly* crippling the Saudi oil installations, National Guard barracks, airfields, etc.  We already know what the Houthis could do with their very limited resources.  Just imagine what Iran could do to the KSA (or the UAE and Kuwait) if it wanted to!

I think that the bottom line is clear: Iran can inflict unacceptable damage upon any party attacking it.  Furthermore, and unlike having “a few” nukes, Iran has hundreds (or even thousands) of cruise missile and ballistic missiles, and you can bet that they are well distributed and well protected,as shown by this short video released by the IRGC and posted by the FARS news agency:

and that means that a disarming first strike against Iran is not possible.

There are two basic ways to respond to an attack: denial and punishment.  In the first case, you have the means to deny your enemy his attack, this is what happened with the Syrians intercepted almost all the cruise missiles fired by the US.  Punishment is when you cannot prevent an enemy attack, but you do have the means to inflict unacceptable damage in retaliation.

The key notion here is “unacceptable damage”.

What do you think constitutes “unacceptable damage” to the (terminally hedonistic) Israelis?

What do you think would be “unacceptable damage” to the KSA, or the world markets (especially oil)?

What about “unacceptable damage” in terms of losses for CENTCOM?

And, finally, what do you think “unacceptable damage” means to the Iranians?

There is such a huge asymmetry in how the parties to this conflict see “unacceptable damage” that is largely compensates for the asymmetry in force.  Yes, sure, the US+Israel are more powerful than Iran (well, not Israel really, but Israel hiding behind the back of the US forces) but Iran is far more capable of absorbing devastating attacks than either the US or Israel.

Finally, in my last post I offered a definition of what constitutes success or failure for Iran: “anything which makes it easier for the US to remain in the Middle-East is a victory for the Empire and anything which makes it harder for the US to remain in the Middle-East is a victory for the rest of the planet.

At this point my personal opinion is that the way the Iranians conducted their first anti-Empire operation is nothing short of brilliant: they achieved a truly phenomenal result with very little means and, most importantly, without forcing the Empire to counter-attack.

Has the US-Iran war really begun?  Yes, I think so.  In fact, it began in 1979, but now it has reached a qualitatively new level.  The outcome of that war is absolutely evident to me.  The cost, however, is not.

This have relatively cooled down, but that is an illusion and we should most definitely not take our eyes of the situation in the Middle-East: expect the initiation of asymmetrical anti-US operations very soon.





By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

It was not the US decision to fire missiles against the IRGC commander Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani that killed the Iranian officer and his companions in Baghdad. Yes, of course, the order that was given to launch missiles from the two drones (which destroyed the two cars carrying Sardar Soleimani and his companion the Iraqi commander in al-Hashd al-Shaabi Jamal Jaafar Al-Tamimi aka Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes and burned their bodies in the vehicle) came from US command and control. However, the reason President Donald Trump made this decision derives from the weakness of the “axis of resistance”, which has completely retreated from the level of performance that Iran believed it was capable of after decades of work to strengthen this “axis”.

A close companion of Major General Qassim Soleimani, to whom he spoke hours before boarding the plane that took him from Damascus to Baghdad, told me: “The nobleman died. Palestine above all has lost Hajj Qassem (Soleimani). He was the “King” of the Axis of the Resistance and its leader. He was assassinated and this is exactly what he was hoping to reach in this life (Martyrdom). However, this axis will live and will not die. No doubt, the Axis of the Resistance needs to review its policy and regenerate itself to correct its path. This was what Hajj Qassim was complaining about and planning to work on and strategizing about in his last hours. ”

The US struck Iran at the heart of its pride by killing Major General Soleimani. But the “axis of the Resistance” killed him before that. This is how:

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assassinated the deputy head of the Military Council (the highest authority in the Lebanese Hezbollah, which is headed by its Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah), Hajj Imad Mughniyah in Damascus, Syria, Hezbollah could not avenge him until today.

When Trump gave Netanyahu Jerusalem as the “capital of Israel”, the “Axis of the Resistance” did not move except by holding television symposia and conferences verbally rejecting the decision.

When President Trump offered the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to Israel and the “Axis of Resistance” did not react, the US President Donald Trump and his team understood that they were opposed by no effective deterrent. The inaction of the Resistance axis emboldened Trump to do what he wants.


And when Israel bombed hundreds of Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, the “Axis of the Resistance” justified its lack of retaliation by the typical sentence: “We do not want to be dragged along by the timing of the engagement imposed by the enemy,” as a senior official in this axis told me.

In Iraq shortly before his death, Major General Soleimani was complaining about the weakening of the Iraqi ranks within this “Axis of the Resistance”, represented by the Al-Bina’ (Construction) Alliance and other groups close to this alliance like Al-Hikma of Ammar al-Hakim and Haidar al-Abadi, formerly close to Iran, that have gone over to the US side.

In Iraq, Major General Soleimani was very patient and never lost his temper. He was trying to reconcile the Iraqis, both his allies and those who had chosen the US camp and disagreed with him. He used to hug those who shouted at him to lower tensions and continue dialogue to avoid spoiling the meeting. Anyone who raised his voice during discussions soon found that it was Soleimani who calmed everyone down.

Hajj Qassem Soleimani was unable to reach a consensus on the new Prime Minister’s name among those he deemed to be allies in the same coalition. He asked Iraqi leaders to select the names and went through all of these asking questions about the acceptability of these names to the political groups, to the Marjaiya, to protestors in the street and whether the suggested names were not provocative or challenging to the US. Notwithstanding the animosity between Iran and the US, Soleimani encouraged the selection of a personality that would not be boycotted by the US. Soleimani believed the US capable of damaging Iraq and understood the importance of maintaining a good relationship with the US for the stability of the country.

Soleimani was shocked by the dissension among Iraqi Shia and believed that the “axis of resistance” needed a new vision as it was faltering. In the final hours before his death, Major General Soleimani was ruminating on the profound antagonisms between Iraqis of the same camp.

When the Iraqi street began to move against the government, the line rejecting American hegemony was fragmented because it was part of the authority that ruled and governed Iraq. To make matters worse, Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr directed his arrows against his partners in government, as though the street demonstrations did not target him, the politician controlling the largest number of Iraqi deputies, ministers and state officials, who had participated in the government for more than ten years.


Major General Soleimani admonished Moqtada Al-Sadr for his stances, which contributed to undermining the Iraqi ranks because the Sadrist leader did not offer an alternative solution or practical project other than the chaos. Moqtada has his own men, the feared Saraya al-Salam, present in the street.

When US Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on December 28 and informed him of America’s intentions of hitting Iraqi security targets inside Iraq, including the PMU, Soleimani was very disappointed by Abdul-Mahdi’s failure to effectively oppose Esper. Abdul-Mahdi merely told Esper that the proposed US action was dangerous. Soleimani knew that the US would not have hit Iraqi targets had Abdul-Mahdi dared to oppose the US decision. The targeted areas were a common Iranian-Iraqi operational stage to monitor and control ISIS movements on the borders with Syria and Iraq. The US would have reversed its decision had the Iraqi Prime Minister threatened the US with retaliation in the event that Iraqi forces were bombed and killed. After all, the US had no legal right to attack any objective in Iraq without the agreement of the Iraqi government. This decision was the moment when Iraq has lost its sovereignty and the US took control of the country.

This effective US control is another reason why President Trump gave the green light to kill Major General Soleimani. The Iraqi front had demonstrated its weakness and also, it was necessary to select a strong Iraqi leader with the guts to stand to the US arrogance and unlawful actions.


Iran has never controlled Iraq, as most analysts mistakenly believe and speculate. For years, the US has worked hard in the corridors of the Iraqi political leadership lobby for its own interests. The most energetic of its agents was US Presidential envoy Brett McGurk, who clearly realised the difficulties of navigating inside Iraqi leaders’ corridors during the search for a prime minister of Iraq before the appointment of Adel Abdel Mahdi, the selection of President Barham Saleh and other governments in the past. Major General Soleimani and McGurk shared an understanding of these difficulties. Both understood the nature of the Iraqi political quagmire.

Soleimani did not give orders to fire missiles at US bases or attack the US Embassy. If it was in his hands to destroy them with accurate missiles and to remove the entire embassy from its place without repercussions, he would not have hesitated. But the Iraqis have their own opinions, methods, modus operandi and selection of targets and missile calibres; they never relied on Soleimani for such decisions.

Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs was never welcomed by the Marjaiya in Najaf, even if it agreed to receive Soleimani on a few occasions. They clashed over the reelection of Nuri al-Maliki, Soleimani’s preferred candidate, to the point that the Marjaiya wrote a letter making its refusal of al-Maliki explicit. This led to the selection of Abadi as prime minister.

Soleimani’s views contradicted the perception of the Marjaiya, that had to write a clear message, firstly, to reject the re-election of Nori al-Maliki to a third session, despite Soleimani’s insistence.


All of the above is related to the stage that followed the 2011 departure of US forces from Iraq under President Obama. Prior to that, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was the link between the Iraqis and Iran: he had the decision-making power, the vision, the support of various groups, and effectively served as the representative of Soleimani, who did not interfere in the details. These Iraqi groups met with Soleimani often in Iran; Soleimani rarely travelled to Iraq during the period of heavy US military presence.

Soleimani, although he was the leader of the “Axis of the Resistance”, was sometimes called “the king” in some circles because his name evokes Solomon. According to sources within the “Axis of the Resistance”, he “never dictated his own policy but left a margin of movement and decision to all leaders of the axis without exception. Therefore, he was considered the link between this axis and the supreme leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei. Soleimani was able to contact Sayyed Khamenei at any time and directly without mediation. The Leader of the revolution considered Soleimani as his son.

According to sources, in Syria, Soleimani “never hesitated to jump inside a truck, ride an ordinary car, take the first helicopter, or travel on a transport or cargo plane as needed. He did not take any security precautions but used his phone (which he called a companion spy) freely because he believed that when the decision came to assassinate him, he would follow his destiny.  He looked forward to becoming a martyr because he had already lived long.”

Was the leader of the “resistance axis” managing and running it?


Sayyed Ali Khamenei told Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: “You are an Arab and the Arabs accept you more than they accept Iran”. Sayyed Nasrallah directed and managed the axis of Lebanon, Syria and Yemen and had an important role in Iraq. Hajj Soleimani was the liaison between the axis of the resistance and Iran and he was the financial and logistical officer. According to my source, “He was a friend of all leaders and officials of all ranks. He was humble and looked after everyone he had to deal with”.

The “Axis of Resistance” indirectly allowed the killing of Qassem Soleimani. If Israel and the US could know Sayyed Nasrallah’s whereabouts, they would not hesitate a moment to assassinate him. They may be aware: the reaction may be limited to burning flags and holding conferences and manifesting in front of an embassy. Of course, this kind of reaction does not deter President Trump who wants to be re-elected with the support of Israel and US public opinion. He wants to present himself as a warrior and determined leader who loves battle and killing.

Iran invested 40 years building the “Axis of the Resistance”. It cannot remain idle, faced with the assassination of the Leader of this axis. Would a suitable price be the US exit from Iraq and condemnation in the Security Council? Would that, together with withdrawal from the nuclear deal, be enough for Iran to avenge its General? Will the ensuing battle be confined to the Iraqi stage? Will it be used for the victory of certain Iraqi political players?

The assassination of its leader represents the supreme test for the Axis of Resistance. All sides, friend and foe, are awaiting its response.

Proofread by  C.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

6 IDF or USAF F-35s Were Reportedly On Iran’s Border at Time of Ukrainian Jet Shoot-Down

6 F-35 jets were reportedly on Iran’s borders at time of plane crash: Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Acting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a press conference, in Moscow, Russia, on January 17, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Acting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there is unverified information that at least six American F-35 jets were “in the Iranian border area” at the time when Iran accidentally downed Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 last week.

“This information has yet to be verified, but I’d like to underline the edginess that always accompanies such situations,” he said on Friday.

Lavrov stressed that it was important to understand the context of the incident, which occurred as Iran was on very high alert after retaliating against Washington’s assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

“There is information that the Iranians were expecting another attack from the United States after the strike but did not know what form it might take,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister added that he was not trying to excuse anyone for the incident.

On January 8, the Ukrainian plane crashed minutes after take-off near the capital, Tehran, while en route to Kiev. The incident led to the death of all of the 176 people on board, most of whom were Iranians.

Iran initially attributed the crash to technical failure but ultimately announced that the plane had been brought down by a missile fired due to “human error” after conducting further investigations.

‘Very serious red flag’

Speaking on Friday, the Russian foreign minister also said that the tragic downing of the Ukrainian plane served as a “very serious red flag” that signaled a need to “start working on de-escalation and not on constant threats.”

“An increase in tensions between Iran and the US will not help settle any single crisis in the region, if only because the tensions will be increasing,” he said.

Lavrov added that Washington’s “unprecedented” assassination of Soleimani “undermined and put into question all imaginable norms of international law.”

According to Iraqi officials, Soleimani had been invited to Iraq as a formal guest of the Iraqi government when he was targeted by a US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport.

It’s not just Trump supporters–Belief In Our Political System Is A Shared Psychosis

It’s not just Trump supporters: Politics is a pile of shared psychoses


Dr. Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist affiliated with Yale University, posits a “‘shared psychosis’ among just about all of Donald Trump’s followers.”

Her claim came in the context of a discussion of Alan Dershowitz’s use of the word “perfect” to describe his sex life, mirroring Trump’s use of that word regarding a well-known phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Dershowitz has complained to Yale about the claim. He considers it an ethical violation of psychiatrists’ duty not to diagnose conditions absent personal examinations.

This particular version of the claim has a pretty thin basis, but it’s not incorrect. The big problem with it is that it’s too narrow. Donald Trump isn’t some lone Typhoid Mary of “shared psychosis,” nor are his supporters its only victims. Politics as we know it is made up almost entirely of shared psychoses.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines “psychosis” as “conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. … Symptoms of psychosis include delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). Other symptoms include incoherent or nonsense speech, and behavior that is inappropriate for the situation.”

If that doesn’t sound like the daily grind of American politics to you, you haven’t been paying attention to Trump’s Twitter timeline, the Democratic Party’s presidential primary debates, or Congress’s perpetual bickering.

The primary delusion of politics is the notion that someone out there is more qualified to run your life, or at least your neighbor’s life, than you or your neighbor. In the advanced stages of the psychosis, the victim becomes convinced that he or she IS that someone and decides to seek political office.

By any measure, the psychosis is pandemic. In the U.S., more than 45 percent — at a bare minimum, the entire adult population minus the half who don’t vote and the tiny percentage who vote Libertarian — clearly suffer from it.

To make a bad situation worse, the American political system is set up to ensure that the most delusional patients get put in charge of running the asylum.

While I’m a partisan Libertarian, I have my doubts that we can vote our way out of this epidemic by electing my fellow partisans to office and having them re-jigger the system to stop spreading the contagion and exacerbating its symptoms.

Perhaps we should consider adding clozapine to the water supply.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

The battle of ‘resistance’ vs ‘revolution’ in the Middle East

The battle of ‘resistance’ vs ‘revolution’ in the Middle East

The clash between the ‘resistance’ and ‘revolutionary’ movements will define the Middle East in the future.

Protesters celebrate after a structure representing a fist was erected to replace a previous one that was burnt at Martyrs' Square in Beirut on November 22, 2019 [Reuters/Andres Martinez Casares]
Protesters celebrate after a structure representing a fist was erected to replace a previous one that was burnt at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut on November 22, 2019 [Reuters/Andres Martinez Casares]

The events surrounding the US assassination of Iranian Quds Force leader Major General Qassem Soleimani brought to the surface the two main ideological forces that now battle each other across the Middle East – the anti-imperial “resistance” of Iran and its Arab allies, and the freedom “revolution” of domestic protesters in the same lands.

The first was reflected in the massive funeral processions in Arab and Iranian cities for Soleimani and his colleagues that were far bigger than the usual state-organised propaganda protests. Such outpourings of grief and anger in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and pockets elsewhere signify the central political dynamic – “resistance” in their view – which drives Iran and its allies, and shapes many regional developments.

After a brief pause – from the shock of the assassinations, respect for the dead, widespread anti-American anger, fear of wider conflict, much rain, and Tehran’s admission of its error in downing the Ukrainian civilian airliner – the second key regional dynamic reared its head again: popular demonstrations for freedom and democratic pluralism resumed across the same lands (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon), where large crowds wept for Soleimani and vowed to stand up to the US and its allies.

These two forces now battle to define the identity and policies of the Middle East for decades to come. “Resistance” (moqawama) is how many Arabs and Iranians fight back against the US, Israel and their conservative Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “Revolution” (thawra) for democratic freedoms, social justice, and pluralism that exploded in Arab countries and Iran since the 2010-11 uprisings is how determined ordinary citizens seek to remove the autocratic, incompetent or corrupt governments they blame for their deteriorating living conditions and denied rights.

The two forces had coexisted in separate spheres for years, but they now openly clash head-on in Iran, Iraq, Syria and in Lebanon, as “resistance” troops try to beat down “revolutionary” protests by force.

“Resistance”, the oldest of the two forces, since the 1980s has defined the policies of Iran and its Arab strategic partners, notably Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Ansarullah (Houthis), People’s Mobilisation Forces (PMFs) in Iraq and Syria, and other smaller groups. Nonviolent mainstream Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood also “resist” Western and Israeli political and cultural threats to Arab-Islamic societies, as do nationalist and progressive groups across the region that share this wide tent.

Since soon after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has defined and implemented the core resistance strategy by building political and technical military capabilities among its Arab allies. This allows it to conduct operations throughout the Middle East via its Arab partners and allies, who pester, fight or deter their common foes in neighbouring lands, before the battle reaches Iran itself.

They all use Iran’s asymmetrical warfare toolkit – including missiles, cyber capabilities, attack drones and communications/surveillance systems – to confront Israel (Hamas and Hezbollah) or conservative Arabs like Saudi Arabia and the UAE (the Houthis). General Soleimani’s main mission was to develop this network of Iran’s Arab allies.

Arab critics, however, see this as Tehran’s hegemonic export of its Islamic revolution in order to weave a web of capable puppets under its control. Soleimani was able to foster so many Arab allies because many Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Yemenis and Palestinians had suffered badly from American, Israeli and conservative Arab policies of war and occupation; they were so weak and vulnerable that they willingly joined the Iranian-led, Islamist-driven movement as a self-preservation move.

The self-proclaimed “resistance axis” ethos is to defy foreign threats and refuse to bow to American and Israeli demands, even at the cost of war or debilitating sanctions. Yet, Iran’s nuclear deal with the US, UK, Germany, France, China and Russia, and Hezbollah’s indirect agreements and ceasefires with Israel show the resistance powers’ willingness to engage their foes politically, but only based on equal respect for the rights of all sides.

Historians will determine whether “resistance” has been a heroic anti-imperial success or a naive fantasy. Its advocates say it evicted Israel from South Lebanon and Gaza, achieved strategic deterrence between Hezbollah and Israel, compelled the United States and its partners to agree to the nuclear deal, allowed Iran to survive severe sanctions, saved the Assad government in Syria, beat back the ISIL threat, and now may be pushing the US out of Iraq.

Critics say these gains have come at a brutal cost to Arabs and Iranians, leaving entire countries in economic and environmental collapse, in top-heavy autocracies that constrain liberties and human rights, and brutalise those who protest peacefully. Some also fear that the resistance culture promises them only a future of perpetual warfare and economic distress.

The “revolutionary” protests underway have rocked the region in the past decade. They have been led by a young generation which has borne the brunt of economic mismanagement and the increasing authoritarianism of what they see as a corrupt political elite more concerned with self-enrichment than the wellbeing of its people. This generation has decided to rebel against regimes they view as largely illegitimate and propped up by outside forces, which due to their incompetence are unable to provide for the basic needs of their citizens.

Millions have taken to the streets, defying violent crackdowns, and demanding reforms or total changes in governing systems. Arab and Iranian protesters want to have a say in government policies to protect civil rights and pursue social justice, and to end the existing crony capitalist systems that have ravaged the middle class and spawned large-scale poverty and marginalisation.

In doing so, some of these protest movements have come head-to-head with regimes supported by the US, Israel and its conservative Arab allies and others with regimes backed by Iran and its proxies. In the first case, they have been slandered as Islamists and extremists; in the second as US and Israeli collaborators.

But many revolutionary protesters have been explicit about their opposition not only against inept and unjust rule at home, but also foreign interference from both the US and Iran. This sentiment was captured in a statement released on January 11 by protesting Iranian students at Amir Kabir (Polytechnic) University in Tehran, which said: “The only way out of our current predicament is the simultaneous rejection of both domestic despotism and imperial arrogance. We need a politics that doesn’t merely claim security, freedom, and equality for a select group or class, but that understands these rights as inalienable and for all people.”

As the full universe of “resistance” unfurls at this historic moment across the Middle East, the banner that Islamists and Arab nationalists had claimed exclusively for their battle against American, Israeli and conservative Arab threats has now been joined by a homegrown domestic “resistance” by Arab and Iranian citizens who confront their own governments and demand freedom, equality and dignity.

Arab and Iranian ruling elites and their own citizens now openly fight and resist each other, seeking to define their countries’ identities and policies. This is probably the most consequential ideological battle in the Middle East since its state system was established a century ago.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


The Israelization of US foreign policy

The Israelization of US foreign policy

The foreign policy of the US during the three years of the Donald Trump administration has undergone a slow change. It has gradually departed from international norms and carried out clear violations of the legal and ethical standards the country had previously championed. While some of these changes can be clearly identified as pro-Israel in the Middle East conflict, other policies that have no direct relation with Israel appear to have adopted both the style and the justifications that Tel Aviv has often used to defend its actions that are contrary to international laws and norms.

The Trump administration began by flouting international resolutions that specifically called on UN member states not to move their embassies to Jerusalem until a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been found. That December 2018 decision was in direct violation of the 1980 UN Security Council resolution 478, which called on all members not to recognize Israel’s unilateral  annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and asked members with missions in Jerusalem “to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city.” Washington adopted the Israeli justification by claiming that its move was merely recognition of the reality on the ground.

Furthermore, US officials, including Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, went on a public campaign calling on all UN member states to follow America’s act, in violation of the UN Security Council resolution.

America’s Israelization continued by its abrupt refusal to accept that the Palestinian territories are “occupied” — again in violation of UN resolutions and decisions by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Trump administration followed that by giving legitimacy to illegal Israeli settlements built in occupied territories in violation of the Geneva Convention.

The process of Israelization, however, was not limited to Palestine, but also included other occupied territories. The US’ decision to recognize Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights violated, for the first time, an international post-Second World War understanding that it is unacceptable to acquire land by war. This mistaken precedent clears the way for countries throughout the world to potentially start settling their differences with their neighbors through military aggression, rather than negotiations and the rule of law.

All these actions that mimic what Israel does in the region are done without any backing from the UN.

Daoud Kuttab

Perhaps the US’ most recent violation of international humanitarian law was the decision to assassinate an Iranian official on sovereign Iraqi land, which was followed up by threats to bomb 52 historic and cultural sites in Iran — another clear war crime according to international law.
In all these acts, the Trump administration has repeated a number of often-used Israeli justifications, which range from accepting the reality on the ground to insisting an action was a pre-emptive defensive move in order to counter undeclared possible future threats.

All these actions that mimic what Israel does in the region are done without any backing from the UN or its important Security Council. As has been the case with Israel, actions without international backing turn the region into a jungle, where might is right.

The Israelis have for decades been allowed by the international community, including the US, to flout the rule of law and international norms. What is new in the past three years is that Washington has not only departed from its previous public denunciations of clear Israeli violations, but has adopted the Israeli policy itself and used it to justify its own actions in various parts of the world.

The outcome of such a change is not limited to the US or the Middle East. It provides a green light to military powers throughout the world to resolve their problems with their opponents using unrestricted military power. This was made clear by a headline in an Indian newspaper, which called for an assassination campaign against Pakistani military officers it considers supportive of terrorism using America’s (and by extension Israel’s) policy that the ends justify the means.

After the end of the Second World War, the civilized the world met and agreed on a set of understandings that were aimed at avoiding the use of military action to resolve disputes between countries and peoples. America, the home of the UN and the UN Security Council, was seen for years as the most important protector and defender of this basic international understanding. However, recent years have shown that not only is Israel being given a pass on its violations of international laws and understandings, but its actions have become a model for demagogic leaders in America, India, the Philippines and other countries, which prefer to flex their military might to solve their problems. These violations must not be allowed to become the norm around the world; otherwise we will be paving the way for another global catastrophe.

  • Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Twitter: @daoudkuttab 

7 Out of 8 Katyushka Rockets Hit Balad Joint Air Base In Iraq Hours Ago

7 bombs struck an Iraqi joint military base housing US soldiers, wounding 4

balad air base
A U.S. Air Force honor guard shooting party practices before a ceremony marking Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 at Joint Base Balad, north of Baghdad, Iraq. 
Maya Alleruzzo/AP


At least four Iraqi soldiers were wounded on Sunday in a rocket attack on the Balad airbase in northern Iraq, according to Reuters.

The outlet reported that the Iraqi military said in a statement that the base, which also houses US personnel, was targeted by eight Katyusha rockets that were fired from about 50 miles (80 km) north of Baghdad. According to the report, seven of those rockets hit the base’s runway.

No casualties among the US forces were reported, according to Reuters, and the military statement did not identify who was behind the attack.

The injuries come just days after an attack on two military bases in Iraq that house US forces that were launched by Iran as tensions between the countries escalated following the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the high-profile head of Iran’s elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in an airstrike on January 2 at Baghdad’s international airport in accordance with orders from President Donald Trump.

The strike immediately triggered security concerns for US entities in the region as Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for Americans.

The Pentagon said in a statement after it completed the fatal airstrike that it had targeted Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” as the White House emphasized that the strike was ordered as a measure to increase security and peace.

U.S. Legal Defense of the Soleimani Strike at the United Nations–failure to communicate

On January 8, 2020, the United States reported to the United Nations Security Council that it had taken measures in the exercise of its inherent right of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. These measures “include” the January 2 drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of a branch of Iran’s armed forces, as well as several members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, formally part of Iraq’s armed forces. The U.S. letter is legally flawed in many respects. I will try to identify its main flaws. No doubt, I will overlook some.

Before discussing what the letter says, let me mention what it does not say. The letter does not say, let alone try to establish, that an armed attack by Iran against the United States was ongoing or imminent. It does not say, let alone try to establish, that the U.S. strike was necessary or proportionate to achieve a legitimate defensive aim. The letter does not say, let alone try to establish, that the use of armed force against Iraq—on Iraq’s territory, killing members of Iraq’s armed forces, without Iraq’s consent—was consistent with Iraq’s rights under international law. These silences speak volumes.

Instead, the letter says

These actions were in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months[1] by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias[2] on U.S. forces and interests in the Middle East region, in order to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks[3] against the United States or U.S. interests, and to degrade the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force-supported militias’ ability to conduct attacks[4].

Almost every assertion in this paragraph involves a legal or factual error.

[1] “in response to an escalating series of armed attacks over recent months”

International law prohibits the use of armed force except to repel an ongoing armed attack or (perhaps) to halt an imminent armed attack. The phrase “escalating series of armed attacks” essentially concedes that the U.S. was not facing one ongoing armed attack that was, if you will, arriving in waves. Since the incidents occurred “over recent months,” including two incidents last summer, perhaps this concession was unavoidable. In any event, the letter treats each incident as a discrete armed attack. The phrase “in response to” suggests what the letter’s factual narrative confirms: that the last incident in this series was over when the U.S. decided to strike. Since the letter does not allege that further attacks were imminent, this dooms the United States’ legal case.

Put another way, an ongoing series of attacks is not an ongoing attack or an imminent attack. If one attack is clearly over, then the legal “clock” resets. If no further attack is imminent, then there is nothing to lawfully defend against. This is the time for negotiation, Security Council intervention, and military preparation. This is not the time for armed force.

Some readers may find existing law overly restrictive. If one State repeatedly attacks another, the victim State may be unsure whether or when another attack may come and unsure what measures are necessary to prevent it. Since this uncertainty is created by the unlawful actions of the aggressor State, some readers may think the legal requirements of self-defense—certainty, imminence, necessity, proportionality—should be interpreted broadly, in favor of the victim State and against the aggressor State. We need not settle this normative question here, because the U.S. strike occurred in a third State—Iraq. The letter does not allege that Iraq is responsible for any unlawful attack or other unlawful action that might forfeit or otherwise compromise its legal rights. Accordingly, only clear evidence of an ongoing or imminent armed attack by Iran could justify the use of armed force in Iraq.

In fact, none of the incidents described trigger a legal right to use armed force against Iran.

The “threat to the amphibious ship USS BOXER on July 18, 2019, while the ship was conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian unmanned aerial system,” was just that—a threat, not an armed attack.

The “armed attack on June 19, 2019, by an Iranian surface-to-air missile on an unmanned U.S. Navy MQ-4 surveillance aircraft on a routine surveillance mission monitoring the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace” was not an armed attack. Following the International Court of Justice, “it will be necessary to distinguish the most grave forms of the use of force (those constituting an armed attack) from other less grave forms.”

The United States has long held an opposing view: that any use of armed force constitutes an armed attack. The U.S. view is an extreme outlier and wrong. The U.N. Charter uses different terms—use of force, armed attack—and these terms carry different meanings. If shooting at a drone (that Iran alleges unlawfully crossed into its territory) triggered the United States’ right of self-defense, then such a minor incident might justify deadly and destructive strikes to defend the drone. Indeed, under the prevailing view of proportionate self-defense, the United States would be permitted to use as much force as necessary to defend the drone, even if that means lethal strikes against command and control centers deep inside Iran. This result, like the U.S. view that entails it, is absurd.

The letter alleges that Iran is responsible for “attacks on commercial vessels off the port of Fujairah and in the Gulf of Oman that threaten freedom of navigation and the security of international commerce, and missile and unmanned aircraft attacks on the territory of Saudi Arabia.” Even assuming Iranian responsibility, none of the countries concerned have requested the United States to use force on their behalf. These incidents contribute nothing to a U.S. claim of self-defense, either individual or collective. The letter claims that these actions “endangered international peace and security.” Maintaining international peace and security is the responsibility of the Security Council, not a legal basis for unilateral armed force.

The letter states that “Qods Force-backed militia groups in Iraq, including Kata’ib Hizballah, have conducted a series of indirect fire attacks targeting bases where U.S. forces in Iraq are located. On December 27, 2019, one such attack resulted in the death of a U.S. Government contractor and injury to four U.S. servicemembers . . . .” These incidents would likely justify “on-the-spot reactions” by U.S. forces under fire. These incidents would not justify the use of force against Iran, for reasons described below.

Finally, the letter states that “Kata’ib Hizballah and other Qods Force-backed militias then participated in an attack on the United States Embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019, which resulted in significant damage to Embassy property.” This incident also lacked the military character and gravity to constitute an armed attack. But let us turn to a deeper and broader problem.

[2] “by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias”

Only armed attacks attributable to Iran could trigger the U.S. right of self-defense against Iran. Attacks by militias are not attributable to Iran based solely on Iran’s “support” for them. Attacks by militias are attributable to Iran only if those attacks are conducted on Iran’s instructions or under Iran’s direction or effective control. (For more on this, see Oona Hathaway, “Bolton’s Stated Predicate for War With Iran Doesn’t Work.”) Again, following the International Court of Justice, “assistance to rebels in the form of the provision of weapons or logistical or other support” does not constitute an armed attack. The letter does not allege that Iran instructed, directed, or controlled any of the militia actions described, let alone prove it.

The letter identifies one armed attack by Iran, namely Iran’s January 7 reprisal, taken in response to the U.S. strike on January 2. No more needs to be said about that.

[3] “in order to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks”

Armed reprisals are prohibited under international law (see herehere, and here). This passage essentially admits that the U.S. strike was a reprisal, responding to past incidents in order to deter (possible though not imminent) future incidents. This is not a legal defense. This is a confession.

[4] “to degrade [Iran and Iran-supported] militias’ ability to conduct attacks”

To repeat, the U.S. may use armed force against Iran only to halt or repel armed attacks attributable to Iran. It follows that the U.S. may not use armed force against Iran to degrade the abilities of militias that Iran merely supports but whose operations Iran does not instruct, direct, or control. Since the letter does not allege that armed attacks by Iran were imminent, there was no legal basis for using armed force to degrade Iran’s ability to conduct attacks itself.


The U.S. letter fails on every level. It fails to attribute past armed attacks to Iran, fails to allege imminent future armed attacks by Iran, and essentially admits that the U.S. strike was an unlawful reprisal rather than lawful self-defense. (The same kind of unlawful reprisal that Iran undertook with its subsequent ballistic missile attack.)

On the same day that the United States reported that it exercised its right of self-defense against Iran, Iran reported that it exercised its right of self-defense against the United States. Iran’s letter was also legally flawed in many respects (see here). Among other things, Iran’s letter closed by claiming to respect “the independence, unity, sovereignty, and political independence” of Iraq, on whose territory Iran used armed force without consent. Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. But at least Iran paid that small price. The U.S. didn’t even bother.

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images


The Militarization of Everything

The Militarization of Everything

The expanding cultural authority of the armed forces is a problem for U.S. democracy, writes William J. Astore.

By William J. Astore

When Americans think of militarism, they may imagine jackbooted soldiers goose-stepping through the streets as flag-waving crowds exult; or, like our president, they may think of enormous parades featuring troops and missiles and tanks, with warplanes soaring overhead. Or nationalist dictators wearing military uniforms encrusted with medals, ribbons, and badges like so many barnacles on a sinking ship of state. (Was President Donald Trump only joking recently when he said he’d like to award himself a Medal of Honor?) And what they may also think is: that’s not us. That’s not America. After all, Lady Liberty used to welcome newcomers with a torch, not an AR-15. We don’t wall ourselves in while bombing others in distant parts of the world, right?

But militarism is more than thuggish dictators, predatory weaponry, and steely-eyed troops. There are softer forms of it that are no less significant than the “hard” ones. In fact, in a self-avowed democracy like the United States, such softer forms are often more effective because they seem so much less insidious, so much less dangerous. Even in the heartland of Trump’s famed base, most Americans continue to reject nakedly bellicose displays like phalanxes of tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue.

But who can object to celebrating “hometown heroes” in uniform, as happens regularly at sports events of every sort in 21st-century America? Or polite and smiling military recruiters in schools? Or gung-ho war movies like the latest version of “Midway,” timed for Veterans Day weekend 2019 and marking America’s 1942 naval victory over Japan, when we were not only the good guys but the underdogs?

Recruiter with an attendee of the Military Exploration Workshop at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, March 21, 2017. (DoD/Benjamin Pryer)

What do I mean by softer forms of militarism? I’m a football fan, so one recent Sunday afternoon found me watching an NFL game on CBS. People deplore violence in such games, and rightly so, given the number of injuries among the players, notably concussions that debilitate lives. But what about violent commercials during the game? In that one afternoon, I noted repetitive commercials for “SEAL Team,” “SWAT,” and “FBI,” all CBS shows from this quietly militarized American moment of ours. In other words, I was exposed to lots of guns, explosions, fisticuffs, and the like, but more than anything I was given glimpses of hard men (and a woman or two) in uniform who have the very answers we need and, like the Pentagon-supplied police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, are armed to the teeth. (“Models with guns,” my wife calls them.)

Got a situation in Nowhere-stan? Send in the Navy SEALs. Got a murderer on the loose? Send in the SWAT team. With their superior weaponry and can-do spirit, Special Forces of every sort are sure to win the day (except, of course, when they don’t, as in America’s current series of never-ending wars in distant lands).

And it hardly ends with those three shows. Consider, for example, this century’s update of “Magnum P.I.,” a CBS show featuring a kickass private investigator. In the original “Magnum P.I.” that I watched as a teenager, Tom Selleck played the character with an easy charm. Magnum’s military background in Vietnam was acknowledged but not hyped. Unsurprisingly, today’s Magnum is proudly billed as an ex-Navy SEAL.

Cop and military shows are nothing new on American TV, but never have I seen so many of them, new and old, and so well-armed. On CBS alone you can add to the mix “Hawaii Five-O” (yet more models with guns updated and up-armed from my youthful years), the three “NCIS” (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) shows, and “Blue Bloods” (ironically starring a more grizzled and less charming Tom Selleck) — and who knows what I haven’t noticed? While today’s cop/military shows feature far more diversity with respect to gender, ethnicity, and race compared to hoary classics like “Dragnet,” they also feature far more gunplay and other forms of bloody violence.

Look, as a veteran, I have nothing against realistic shows on the military. Coming from a family of first responders — I count four firefighters and two police officers in my immediate family — I loved shows like “Adam-12” and “Emergency!” in my youth. What I’m against is the strange militarization of everything, including, for instance, the idea, distinctly of our moment, that first responders need their very own version of the American flag to mark their service. Perhaps you’ve seen those thin blue line flags, sometimes augmented with a red line for firefighters. As a military veteran, my gut tells me that there should only be one American flag and it should be good enough for all Americans. Think of the proliferation of flags as another soft type of up-armoring (this time of patriotism).

Speaking of which, whatever happened to “Dragnet’s” Sergeant Joe Friday, on the beat, serving his fellow citizens, and pursuing law enforcement as a calling? He didn’t need a thin blue line battle flag. And in the rare times when he wielded a gun, it was .38 Special. Today’s version of Joe looks a lot more like G.I. Joe, decked out in body armor and carrying an assault rifle as he exits a tank-like vehicle, maybe even a surplus MRAP from America’s failed imperial wars.

U.S. Marines assist in the filming “SEAL Team” on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 14, 2019. Camp Pendleton has been used as a filming site by a number of shows and movies in order to replicate the realism of the  military services. (U.S. Marine Corps/Joseph Prado)

Militarism in the USA

Besides TV shows, movies, and commercials, there are many signs of the increasing embrace of militarized values and attitudes in this country. The result: the acceptance of a military in places where it shouldn’t be, one that’s over-celebrated, over-hyped, and given far too much money and cultural authority, while becoming virtually immune to serious criticism.

Let me offer just nine signs of this that would have been so much less conceivable when I was a young boy watching reruns of “Dragnet”:

  1. Roughly two-thirds of the federal government’s discretionary budget for 2020 will, unbelievably enough, be devoted to the Pentagon and related military functions, with each year’s “defense” budget coming ever closer to a trillion dollars. Such colossal sums are rarely debated in Congress; indeed, they enjoy wide bipartisan support.
  2. The U.S. military remains the most trusted institution in our society, so say 74 percent of Americans surveyed in a Gallup poll. No other institution even comes close, certainly not the presidency (37 percent) or Congress (which recently rose to a monumental 25 percent on an impeachment high). Yet that same military has produced disasters or quagmires in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and elsewhere. Various “surges” have repeatedly failed. The Pentagon itself can’t even pass an audit. Why so much trust?
  3. A state of permanent war is considered America’s new normal. Wars are now automatically treated as multi-generational with little concern for how permawar might degrade our democracy. Anti-war protesters are rare enough to be lone voices crying in the wilderness.
  4. America’s generals continue to be treated, without the slightest irony, as “the adults in the room.” Sages like former Secretary of Defense James Mattis (cited glowingly in the recent debate among 12 Democratic presidential hopefuls) will save America from unskilled and tempestuous politicians like one Donald J. Trump. In the 2016 presidential race, it seemed that neither candidate could run without being endorsed by a screaming general (Michael Flynn for Trump; John Allen for Clinton).
  5. General James Mattis on MSNBC. (Screen shot)

    The media routinely embraces retired U.S. military officers and uses them as talking heads to explain and promote military action to the American people. Simultaneously, when the military goes to war, civilian journalists are “embedded” within those forces and so are dependent on them in every way. The result tends to be a cheerleading media that supports the military in the name of patriotism — as well as higher ratings and corporate profits.

  6. America’s foreign aid is increasingly military aid. Consider, for instance, the current controversy over the aid to Ukraine that Trump blocked before his infamous phone call, which was, of course, partially about weaponry. This should serve to remind us that the United States has become the world’s foremost merchant of death, selling far more weapons globally than any other country. Again, there is no real debate here about the morality of profiting from such massive sales, whether abroad ($55.4 billion in arms sales for this fiscal year alone, says the Defense Security Cooperation Agency) or at home (a staggering 150 million new guns produced in the USA since 1986, the vast majority remaining in American hands).
  7. In that context, consider the militarization of the weaponry in those very hands, from .50 caliber sniper rifles to various military-style assault rifles. Roughly 15 million AR-15s are currently owned by ordinary Americans. We’re talking about a gun designed for battlefield-style rapid shooting and maximum damage against humans. In the 1970s, when I was a teenager, the hunters in my family had bolt-action rifles for deer hunting, shotguns for birds, and pistols for home defense and plinking. No one had a military-style assault rifle because no one needed one or even wanted one. Now, worried suburbanites buy them, thinking they’re getting their “man card” back by toting such a weapon of mass destruction.
  8. Paradoxically, even as Americans slaughter each other and themselves in large numbers via mass shootings and suicides (nearly 40,000 gun deaths in 2017 alone), they largely ignore Washington’s overseas wars and the continued bombing of numerous countries. But ignorance is not bliss. By tacitly giving the military a blank check, issued in the name of securing the homeland, Americans embrace that military, however loosely, and its misuse of violence across significant parts of the planet. Should it be any surprise that a country that kills so wantonly overseas over such a prolonged period would also experience mass shootings and other forms of violence at home?
  9. Even as Americans “support our troops” and celebrate them as “heroes,” the military itself has taken on a new “warrior ethos” that would once — in the age of a draft army — have been contrary to this country’s citizen-soldier tradition, especially as articulated and exhibited by the “greatest generation” during World War II.
Die-in demonstration in February 2018 organized by Teens For Gun Reform in wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Lorie Shaull via Flickr)

Die-in demonstration in February 2018 organized by Teens For Gun Reform in wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Lorie Shaull via Flickr)

What these nine items add up to is a paradigm shift as well as a change in the zeitgeist. The U.S. military is no longer a tool that a democracy funds and uses reluctantly.  It’s become an alleged force for good, a virtuous entity, a band of brothers (and sisters), America’s foremost missionaries overseas and most lovable and admired heroes at home. This embrace of the military is precisely what I would call soft militarism. Jackbooted troops may not be marching in our streets, but they increasingly seem to be marching unopposed through — and occupying — our minds.

The Decay of Democracy

As Americans embrace the military, less violent policy options are downplayed or disregarded. Consider the State Department, America’s diplomatic corps, now a tiny, increasingly defunded branch of the Pentagon led by Mike Pompeo (celebrated by Trump as a tremendous leader because he did well at West Point). Consider Trump as well, who’s been labeled an isolationist, and his stunning inability to truly withdraw troops or end wars. In Syria, U.S. troops were recently redeployed, not withdrawn, not from the region anyway, even as more troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia. In Afghanistan, Trump sent a few thousand more troops in 2017, his own modest version of a mini-surge and they’re still there, even as peace negotiations with the Taliban have been abandoned. That decision, in turn, led to a new surge (a “near record high”) in U.S. bombing in that country in September, naturally in the name of advancing peace. The result: yet higher levels of civilian deaths.

How did the U.S. increasingly come to reject diplomacy and democracy for militarism and proto-autocracy? Partly, I think, because of the absence of a military draft. Precisely because military service is voluntary, it can be valorized. It can be elevated as a calling that’s uniquely heroic and sacrificial. Even though most troops are drawn from the working class and volunteer for diverse reasons, their motivations and their imperfections can be ignored as politicians praise them to the rooftops. Related to this is the Rambo-like cult of the warrior and warrior ethos, now celebrated as something desirable in America. Such an ethos fits seamlessly with America’s generational wars. Unlike conflicted draftees, warriors exist solely to wage war. They are less likely to have the questioning attitude of the citizen-soldier.

Don’t get me wrong: reviving the draft isn’t the solution; reviving democracy is. We need the active involvement of informed citizens, especially resistance to endless wars and budget-busting spending on American weapons of mass destruction. The true cost of our previously soft (now possibly hardening) militarism isn’t seen only in this country’s quickening march toward a militarized authoritarianism. It can also be measured in the dead and wounded from our wars, including the dead, wounded, and displaced in distant lands. It can be seen as well in the rise of increasingly well-armed, self-avowed nationalists domestically who promise solutions via walls and weapons and “good guys” with guns. (“Shoot them in the legs,” Trump is alleged to have said about immigrants crossing America’s southern border illegally.)

Democracy shouldn’t be about celebrating overlords in uniform. A now-widely accepted belief is that America is more divided, more partisan than ever, approaching perhaps a new civil war, as echoed in the rhetoric of our current president. Small wonder that inflammatory rhetoric is thriving and the list of this country’s enemies lengthening when Americans themselves have so softly yet fervently embraced militarism.

With apologies to the great Roberta Flack, America is killing itself softly with war songs.

A retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history, William J. Astore is a TomDispatch regular. His personal blog is Bracing Views.”

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Brit Press Reports Iraqi PM Claim That Trump Set-Up Soleimani For the Kill

The reason Qassem Soleimani was in Baghdad shows how complex the Iran crisis is

The commander is said to have been in Iraq to discuss moves to ease tensions between Tehran and Saudi Arabia – something that will have been of interest to Washington

As part of the incendiary and escalating crisis surrounding the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, there has come an explanation of why the Iranian commander was actually in Baghdad when he was targeted by a US missile strike.

Iraq’s prime minister revealed that he was due to be meeting the Iranian commander to discuss moves being made to ease the confrontation between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia – the crux of so much of strife in the Middle East and beyond.

Adil Abdul-Mahdi was quite clear: “I was supposed to meet him in the morning the day he was killed, he came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered from the Saudis to Iran.”

The prime minister also disclosed that Donald Trump had called him to ask him to mediate following the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad. According to Iraqi officials contact was made with a number of militias as well as figures in Tehran. The siege of the embassy was lifted and the US president personally thanked Abdul-Mahdi for his help.

There was nothing to suggest to the Iraqis that it was unsafe for Soleimani to travel to Baghdad – quite the contrary. This suggests that Trump helped lure the Iranian commander to a place where he could be killed. It is possible that the president was unaware of the crucial role that Soleimani was playing in the attempted rapprochement with the Saudis. Or that he knew but did not care.

One may even say that it is not in the interest of a president who puts so much emphasis on American arms exports, and whose first official trip after coming to office was a weapons-selling trip to Saudi Arabia – during which he railed against Iran – to have peace break out between the Iranians and the kingdom. But that would be far too cynical a thought.

Abdul-Mahdi spoke of his disappointment that while Trump was expressing his gratitude over the mediation, he was also simultaneously planning an attack on Soleimani. That attack took place not long after the telephone call from the president.

There is also the possibility that the US military planners knew nothing about the conversations between Trump and Abdul-Mahdi, and took out Soleimani when the opportunity presented itself.

There may be credence to this, if one follows the narrative which is emerging from defence and intelligence officials in Washington: that the assassination option presented to Trump was bound to be refused, as it had been by his predecessors in the White House. And that there was a desperate scramble to track down Soleimani when, much to their shock, Trump ordered the hit.

The existence of the talks between the Saudi and the Iranians and, more importantly, the threat of impending violence, has meant reaction in Riyadh at the killing has been markedly muted.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not a stranger to sabre rattling, has sent his younger brother, deputy defence minister Khalid bin Salman, to Washington to urge restraint.

The very real risk of the region becoming an arena for conflict has led to rare cooperation in the stand-off between the Saudi-led Gulf block and Qatar, whose foreign minister was dispatched to Tehran with a similar appeal for calm.

In Tehran, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to discuss “measures to maintain the security and stability of the region,” the state-run Qatar News Agency reported. While in the UAE the foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, called for “rational engagement”, tweeting: “wisdom and balance must prevail.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weeps at Soleimani prayers

As well as being in danger of getting caught in the crossfire of a war between the US and Iran, the Arab states in the region are vulnerable to Tehran’s allied militias – in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. There is concern whether the US, after unleashing a wave of missiles, would do anything when retribution is taken on its partner countries.

The Saudis learned only too clearly last summer that one cannot always depend on American commitment, when drone and missile attacks on oil-processing facilities in the kingdom halved oil production. Trump directly blamed Iran for the attacks but there was no American military response, just as there has not been to the many attacks on the kingdom from the Houthis in Yemen.

In the light of all this Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi political sociologist, pointed out: “Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf countries are just quiet. They don’t want to antagonise the Iranians, because the situation in the region is so delicate, so divided, so sensitive, that you don’t want to stir it up further.”

Robert Emerson, a British security analyst, said that it was clear why caution was prevailing. “You don’t know whether Trump will just light the blue touchpaper and then just disappear,” he said. “The Arab states are right to be wary. The talk about Iran and Saudi negotiations is intriguing, further details should be emerging.’’

The Trump administration continues to insist that Soleimani was killed because he was about to launch an imminent terror campaign, without providing any evidence for the assertion. There is increasing scepticism about the claim and the questions are not going to go away. There are too many memories of Saddam Hussein and his non-existent WMD arsenal. The repercussions from the assassination in Baghdad will continue for a very long time.

Neoconservatism – Fascist Zionism–(written as Bush threatened war with Iran, 2007)

[For those of you who don’t remember why “Neoconservatism” is a dirty word, or those who refuse to remember previous fights against fighting “wars for Israel.”]

Neoconservatism – Fascist Zionism

By Peter Chamberlin

We are about to start a conflict extending from Lebanon to Iran, to eliminate Israel’s enemies. Don’t we owe it to those who are about to die at our hands to learn whether Israel planned these wars for us? Is the government correct, that Iran is really fomenting these wars, or are they just being blamed for them, because of successful Israeli false flag operations, which were designed to pull the US into destroying all of Israel’s threatening neighbors? If the answer is the latter, then how far did Israeli covert efforts go in to forcing us into solving their wars? Would that mean that the Israelis were the invisible element in the 9/11 demolition? Or could it be that there was a dedicated hardcore Zionist-American faction, which undertook the dirty treasonous act on Israel’s behalf? Were the neocon plotters, specifically, the “Wolfowitz cabal,” responsible for this “false flag” terror attack?

There is a lot of information floating around on the web about Mossad involvement in covert terrorist elements in these hot spots (many of them blamed on associates of Al Qaida). The Mossad has even been linked to death squads in Iraq and in Kurdestan, in apparent efforts to ignite religious civil strife and interstate conflict within Muslim populations. Is Israel behind the “Al Qaida-linked” terrorists who are igniting the Lebanese conflict, or are these really the efforts of the American/Saudi “Welch group?”

We know that Hamas is a creation of Mossad, creating it to one day foment a Palestinian civil war, in order to eliminate prospects of a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Today we see this same policy playing-out in a reversal strategy, where Israel turns against its creation, Hamas, to support the remnants of its former adversary, the PLO. Did this long-term Israeli strategy to ignite intra-Islamic civil wars extend beyond the occupied Palestinian territories?

Reports circulate of Mossad involvement in the training and arming of anti-Shiite warriors in Iraq and Kurdestan, to launch terrorist attacks in Iran. Most of these reports have extended from Seymour Hersh’s research in his expose’ on American sponsoring of those terrorists in “The Redirection.”

Was Hersh’s expose’ of the operation a part of the operation, intended to warn as well as to agitate the American and Iranian people? If there really is an Israeli plot to psychologically manipulate the American government into untenable situations, meant to force war upon us, then are not the American people also targets of this PSY-ops?

Is the ongoing standoff between America and Iran that is taking place over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, really because “the two countries accuse each other of creating strife in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories,” or because of Israeli PSY-ops programs to make them believe that this is true? Is it coincidence that America and Iran are at each other’s throats in these countries, even though they share many of the same goals in them? In Iraq, they both support the Maliki government’s efforts to stabilize Iraq, but not if Iraqi security means helping their adversary. Or has Israel maneuvered both America and Iran into this fight over the things they agree upon?

The only evidence on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program comes from the terrorist organization, Mujahadeen-e-Khalq.  Mossad is deeply involved with MEK, training them in Iraq, to attack targets inside of Iran. According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the “evidence” on Iran’s nuclear program (given by the MEK) actually came from the Mossad, to be passed to the MEK by neocon Michael Ledeen.

Ledeen is a hardcore Zionist with a long history with Israel. He has been implicated in other incidents of falsifying intelligence to ignite wars (Niger yellow cake forged documents and an associate of Ahmed Chalabi). He was a key player in the Iran/contra incident, and was a student of fascism in Italy, where he acquired his beliefs for his book “Universal Fascism” (fascism with the anti-Semitic components removed). Ledeen’s links to Italian fascism extended to his association with the “strategy of tension” and the creative use of terrorism and false flag-type operations (Operation Gladio to use fear to manipulate public opinion, in order to achieve their fascist dominated world.

Ledeen is the one hardcore Zionist/fascist who appears to link the neocon conspiracy to the secret government rogue network associated with the Iran/contra conspirators. Ledeen’s connections with these Italian fascist false flag operations and the Iran/contra secret government group makes him a prime candidate as one of the principle organizers of the 9/11 parallel attack operation. Ledeen, along with Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle, had been named by former Sec. Defense Caspar Weinberger as part of the “X Committee,” which was under investigation for allegedly passing top secret intelligence to Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Ledeen’s Zionist/fascist views had been shaped by George Mosse, “a German Jewish emigré, who had been on good terms with such Nazi leaders as Joseph Goebbels and Herman Goering… who would become Ledeen’s teacher at the University of Wisconsin, taught that…Western countries had been suffocated and could only be revived through Fascism or Nazism…” in their noble mission to dominate the world for its own good. Their concept of the strategic “noble lie” became a cornerstone of the Bush neocon political philosophy and the disinformation policies that flowed from it.

Wolfowitz and most of the neocons learned from Leo Strauss, who was a German Jew in the early Hitler era and a “protégé and enthusiastic promoter of the ideas of two leading intellectual figures of the Nazi Party: existentialist philosopher…Martin Heidegger; and Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, who wrote the legal opinion justifying Adolf Hitler’s February-March 1933 post-Reichstag Fire dictatorial putsch.”

Like Mosse, Strauss was a hardcore believer in a fascist form of Zionism.

Between Ledeen and the Wolfowitz cabal, radical Zionism gave birth to an American form of fascism, which was dedicated completely to the darkest tenets of the global Zionist conspiracy, to dominate the world using every means possible. This group of conspirators were followers of radical Zionist Zeev Jabotinsky and were closely associated with his legacy, the Betar organization. According to Jabotinsky,

“Betar signifies a generation that dedicates its life to the sole idea of a Jewish State, without recognizing any other ideals… Our aim is to make Betar such a world organism which, at a sign from the center, will be able simultaneously to move tens of thousands of hands in the cities of all countries… to make Eretz Yisrael the leading state of the civilized world, a country the customs and laws of which are to be followed by the whole universe.”–Jabotinsky’s IRON WALL doctrine

is the basis for the militant Israeli policies of terrorizing the Palestinians, in order to break their will to resist, teaching them the brutal lesson that resistance against the IDF is futile. Once the Palestinians learn the hopelessness of their situation, he theorized, they would accede to Israeli demands, based on the false hope of not being pushed out of Palestine altogether.

The evidence appears to confirm that on Sept. 11 there were two terror attacks, disguised as one. The Israeli secret services, or the neocon cabal directing the secret CIA rogue group, sandwiched secondary attacks and explosives into al Qaida’s operations in New York. The timing of the attacks was coordinated with intel made possible by the neocon network, using knowledge gained from Ali Mohamed connections. The separate attack upon the Pentagon was probably all the work of the parallel operation. The unknown is the extent of the neocon penetration into the Israeli government, or their involvement in the Israeli end of the plot to use the terror attacks to Israeli/neocon advantage. One thing we do know, is that the testimony of the infamous “dancing Israelis” of 9/11 revealed that there were Israelis who knew precisely when the attack was going to take place – “our purpose was to document the event.”

Further evidence shows that the Naval Operations Center in the Pentagon, that took a direct hit on 9/11, was the central location of all the material associated with the Jonathan Pollard Israeli spy ring, which had implicated the X Committee suspects. Does this further implicate Israel, or the neocon plotters, or both? Because of the involvement of the Wolfowitz cabal (through the Office of Special Plans disinformation operation) and the Ledeen connection to Ahmed Chalabi and the fabricated Niger yellow cake documents (in addition to Ledeen’s implication in the Operation Gladio terror campaign) the complicity of the neocon plotters in fabricating the evidence used to justify the Iraq war can no longer be in doubt. The weight of the circumstantial evidence and the gravity of the crimes that they are accused of, demands further investigation by the Justice Dept.

Further investigations will likely prove that the neocon objective (in addition to their Zionist ambitions) in engineering the Iraq war and the implications of their potential involvement in the attacks that started the war on terrorism, was to create the condition of perpetual war that would justify the destruction of democracy and the creation of the American fascist state. “Mistakes” in the Iraq war were most likely made intentionally, to establish a state of constructive chaos there, regardless of the cost in American and Iraqi lives. This is treason at its worst. Everyone associated with these intentional mistakes must be made to answer in American courts for treason, stemming from the murder of American soldiers.

If Israeli participation in the attacks is proven, then they would be obviously guilty of acts of war against the United States of America.

Angry Jews Assault Pittsburgh Protesters Against More Wars For Israel

[SEE: Over a hundred take part in anti-war protest in Pittsburgh before fight breaks out]

A peaceful anti-war protest was interrupted in Pittsburgh on Saturday when Zionists assaulted fellow anti-war protesters for daring to criticize Israel and wealthy American Jews for their role in instigating war with Iran.

The scuffle was heavily covered in the local media, and reported nationally. The Twitter video below of the standoff has received over 1 million views at the time of this writing.

On Saturday, over one hundred activists assembled in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, in front of the Cathedral of Learning, to protest the United States’ assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, demanding America not start another war. A small contingent carried signs calling out the role of Zionists in America and abroad for pushing incessant wars in the Middle-East which benefit nobody but Israel.

The confrontation was provoked by signs the anti-Zionists held which read “Zionists Lie – Americans Die” and “Deport Kushner,” with caricatures of the notoriously corrupt Zionist oligarch, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, worth $27 billion. and Jared Kushner, Trump’s Zionist son-in-law who is given free rein to push pro-Israel foreign policy in the Trump administration.

Adelson has contributed $10s of millions to Trump’s election campaigns in 2016 and 2020, and is by far Trump’s single largest financial backer. It is widely known that Adelson dictates to Trump what policies he must follow in the Middle East, and that John Bolton was installed at Adelson’s insistence. Adelson has financed Bolton’s career since the Iraq war. Bolton is known in Washington as ‘Adelson’s boy’.

Sheldon Adelson – sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words

Comments on the tweet of the signs tended to sympathize with the anti-Zionists, with many agreeing with the obvious truth that Israel and Jewish financial ‘donations’ to American politicians are behind the Middle East wars.

One anti-Zionist protester recorded the scene as their signs were ripped from their hands and torn apart, before being surrounded and physically pushed out by the mob as it chanted: “Nazis out!”

The demonstrators criticizing Israel were shoved off the square. Cameramen from local TV affiliates filmed it all, but the footage was not included in the evening broadcasts.
One of the Jewish demonstrators who assaulted the anti-Zionists

At no point during the confrontation did the anti-Zionists display any act of aggression or violence.

Here is a TV report from a local Pittsburgh station.

The Right-Wing Pro-Israel, Evangelical Agenda has Taken Over Trump’s Middle East Policy

The Right-Wing Pro-Israel, Evangelical Agenda has Taken Over Trump’s Middle East Policy

Until recently, President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policy was centered on taking steps related to fulfilling campaign promises and strengthening his standing domestically with his evangelical base.

Chief among these steps was his decision to pull out of the nuclear accord with Iran, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and at the same time announcing moving the American embassy to Jerusalem). Trump also signed a presidential proclamation recognizing “Israeli sovereignty” over the Golan Heights.

All of this has changed, however, with the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Qassem Soleimani and the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mehdi Al-Muhandis.

By deciding to carry out this assassination operation, Trump has brought his pro-Israel policy to an entirely new, and dangerous level.

Targeting the IRGC and PMF: An Israeli policy

It is worth remembering that Israel set the precedent for carrying out lethal operations in Iraq by targeting elements of the IRGC and the PMF.

Israel began these operations last year, with the first taking place on July 19 near the Iraqi town of Amerli. Iranian media later reported that senior IRGC commander Abu Alfazl Sarabian had died in the attack.

Another Israeli attack on August 25 led to the death of a senior PMF commander in the Iraqi town of Al-Qaim near the border with Syria, while 21 PMF members were killed in an Israeli operation near the city of Hit in Iraq’s Anbar province on September 20.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even admitted that Israel was behind these attacks.

“We are working against Iranian consolidation in Iraq as well [as in Syria]” remarked Netanyahu on August 22.

Trump administration officials adopt the Israel line of demonizing Iran

The Israeli fingerprints on U.S. policy could also be seen in the apparent stances taken by U.S. officials following the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis.

According to the New York Times, Trump administration officials have compared the assassination of Soleimani to the killing of former ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Such a comparison is no doubt to Israel’s liking.

Not only has Israel long sought to equate the IRGC and its allies, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi PMF, with terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS, it has even described the latter groups as being the lesser of the two evils.

According to sources in Washington, one of the most common complaints made by visiting Israeli officials over the past years was that the U.S. was focusing too much on fighting Sunni Jihadist groups (al-Qaida, ISIS, etc.) and not enough on fighting Iran and its network of allies.

Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren referred to this dynamic in an interview with the Jerusalem Post back in September 2013, where he summed up the Israeli policy regarding Syria. “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted (President) Bashar Assad to go” he stated, further adding; “we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t back by Iran (al-Qaida affiliates) to the bad guys who were backed by Iran”.

For his part, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon referred to an “axis of evil‘ comprising Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.

Yaalon made those remarks during a meeting with former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey in August 2013, underscoring that this “axis of evil” must not emerge victorious in Syria.

Israel may have found in the Trump administration the perfect ally when it comes to the demonization of Iran and the groups it supports.

Hard-core evangelicals like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have a strong ideological affinity for Israel and its anti-Iranian agenda.

During a Senate hearing last April, Pompeo repeated the long-debunked claim that Iran and al-Qaida have cooperated for years. “There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaida. Period, full stop,” Pompeo asserted.

Pence, meanwhile, has even gone so far as to claim that Soleimani was involved with 9/11. Following the assassination, Pence tweeted that Soleimani had “assisted in the clandestine travel of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.”

American troops in danger as a result of the Israeli evangelical agenda

With the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandes, Israel and its Christian evangelical allies in Washington appear to have succeeded more than any time before in steering Trump’s foreign policy. Their success, however, may have placed U.S. troops in the region in grave danger.

In a speech commemorating the death of Soleimani and Al-Muhandes, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah warned that retaliation would be aimed at U.S. military assets.

In remarks which brought back the memories of the 1983 attacks on the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Nasrallah suggested that the U.S. military presence in the region would become a target for suicide bombers.

“The suicide attackers who forced the Americans to leave our region in the past are still here today and in far greater numbers,” Nasrallah asserted.

A State of War Exists Between the US and Humanity

A State of War Exists Between the US and Humanity

by Stephen Lendman

There’s no ambiguity about what’s going on globally.

Washington’s geopolitical agenda is all about seeking dominance over other countries, their resources and populations worldwide — by whatever it takes to achieve its aims, notably by brute force and other hostile actions.

The Trump regime’s assassination of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi deputy PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (connected to the country’s military) were the latest examples of its state’s sponsored terrorism on the world stage.

Since Harry Truman’s aggression on North Korea in the early 1950s, a state of war has existed between the US and humanity.

It’s been ongoing endlessly since that time, smashing one nation after another by naked aggression, color revolutions, old-fashioned coups, economic terrorism, targeted assassinations, and other hostile actions.

No nation in world history caused more harm to more people over a longer duration than the US — a hegemonic menace, masquerading as democratic, a notion it tolerates nowhere, especially not at home.

Today is the most perilous time in world history, the risk of another global conflict real — potentially with nuclear weapons able to kill us all if used in enough numbers.

Most Americans are mindless of the greatest threat in their lifetimes because establishment media treat them like mushrooms — keeping them well-watered and in the dark.

Trump is a geopolitical know-nothing, a billionaire businessman/reality TV president — aware only about what his extremist handlers tell him, along with Fox News propaganda, his favorite TV station.

His regime’s assassination of Iranian and Iraqi military commanders is symptomatic of a nation off-the-rails, threatening everyone everywhere by its hegemonic rage.

He’s not the issue. If not him, someone else in charge would pursue the same agenda — dirty business as usual no matter who in the US serves in high office — in the White House, Congress, the bureaucracy and judicial branch.

That’s America’s disturbing state — today more threatening to humanity than earlier, at home and abroad.

Its criminal class is bipartisan, both warrior wings of its one-party state as menacing to humanity as the other.

In the wake of Trump regime assassinations, acts of war on Iran and Iraq, events are fast-moving.

On Sunday during an emergency session, Iraqi parliamentarians voted to expel US occupying and coalition forces, demanding it supported by Prime Minister Mahdi.

Two major parliamentary factions strongly backed the measure — the Fatah Alliance and prominent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr-led Sairoon.

Press TV reported that MPs “cit(ed) Articles 59 and 109 of the (Iraqi) Constitution” — expulsion “in line with their national and regulatory responsibilities as representatives to safeguard the security and sovereignty of Iraq.” 

US forces were allowed back in the country to combat the scourge of ISIS — created and supported by Washington.

In late 2017, military operations against their jihadists were concluded. Iraqi parliamentarians and ruling authorities want US occupation of the country ended.

According to adopted legislation, Baghdad is required to file a formal complaint with the UN Security Council against US aggression on its territory.

Fatah Alliance head/Badr Organization secretary general Hadi al-Ameri called for expelling US forces from the country, saying the following:

“We will defeat Americans and drive them out, as we did earlier in the face of Daesh (ISIS).” 

“We will expel Americans right before Iraqis’ eyes as they will be frustrated and humiliated.”

“We will press ahead with this struggle. We don’t have any option but to fully restore Iraq’s sovereignty.”

Time and again, Trump tweets and otherwise comments before he thinks.

On Sunday following Iraqi MPs voting for the expulsion of US forces, he said the following:

“We’re not leaving (Iraq) unless they pay us back for” what the US spent in the country — to smash it and massacre its people for decades, he failed to explain, adding:

“If they do ask us to leave…(w)e will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.”

Iraq is US-occupied territory, threatening its sovereignty, population, and the region.

As long as US forces remain anywhere in the Middle East, and Washington continues supplying billions of dollars worth of heavy weapons to its belligerent nations, regional peace, stability and security will remain unattainable.

Ahead of Sunday’s vote by Iraqi parliamentarians, the Trump regime tried and failed to stop it.

Ongoing turmoil in the country with US dirty hands behind it makes it uncertain what’s coming next.

Pentagon forces will likely be forced out of Iraq, when and under what circumstances uncertain. It could be a long time coming or sooner. It’s too early to know either way.

Assassinating widely respected Iranian and Iraqi military commanders was a colossal Trump regime blunder.

It elevated them to martyr status, making them more prominent in death than alive, arousing the people of both countries, uniting them against the US hegemonic menace.

Only Cassandra was good at predicting future events. What’s ahead remains unknown for mere mortals like myself.

If past is prologue, most likely things will be more dismal than already, at home and abroad.

Endless US wars of aggression against nonbelligerent countries may continue in our lifetimes, new ones launched, hordes of newly recruited US terrorist foot soldier replacing eliminated ones.

Forever wars are the new normal, ones launched by the US post-9/11 continuing with no near-term prospect for resolution.

Along with Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Donbass (Ukraine), Occupied Palestine, and Iraq, Iran is in the eye of the storm.

Will the Trump regime attack Islamic Republic territory in the new year? 

Will it risk the mother of all post-9/11 wars by going this far, boiling over the region more greatly than already, risking blockage of regional oil supplies to world markets — severe global recession conditions to follow if this happens and it’s protracted.

If Trump regime hardliners unleash greater Middle East fire and fury than already by attacking Iranian territory, global war could follow.

I believe US hot war with Iran is unlikely because of its potentially catastrophic consequences if launched.

At the same time, with hardliners in charge of US geopolitical policymaking in both right wings of its war party, the unthinkable is ominously possible.

VISIT MY WEBSITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

As Obama was boosting al-Qaeda and ISIS Soleimani was containing them

As Obama was boosting al-Qaeda and ISIS Soleimani was containing them

Soleimani did far more for the safety of Americans than Bush, Obama or Trump ever did

In the wake of the Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general Soleimani I’m seeing a lot of Trump drones who think they’re making a profound observation by pointing out that Trump’s actions have supposedly led to the Democrats defending a “terrorist” or a “mass murderer” or something in that vein.

It’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in months.

If only the Democrats were defending Soleimani because the man richly deserved it. Next to Bush, Obama and Trump, Soleimani was a downright American hero. Not just a greater and better man them (admittedly that’s a low bar to clear), but a better servant of America’s true national interest (admittedly that’s another very low bar).

Soleimani started his career at Quds by fighting the Taliban years before the US got involved in that fight:

Soleimani and the Quds Force first came into prominence in 1998, after the Taliban murdered hundreds of Afghan Shi’a and nine Iranians (eight diplomats and a journalist) following the capture of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif.

While senior Iranian military leadership advocated a massive punitive expedition into western Afghanistan, Soleimani advised a more constrained response, with his Quds Force providing training and material support to the Northern Alliance, an umbrella group of forces opposed to the Taliban. Soleimani personally directed this effort, transforming the Northern Alliance into an effective fighting force.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US used the Northern Alliance to establish a foothold in Afghanistan and eventually drive the Taliban from power. Soleimani played a major role behind the scenes helping make the US-Northern Alliance partnership viable, including providing operational and intelligence support.

The US-Iranian cooperation was short-lived; President Bush’s designation of Iran as being part of “an Axis of Evil” caused Iran to terminate its cooperation with the Americans.

So at a time when Bill Clinton was busy declining opportunities provided to him by the CIA to take out bin Laden (who by this time had already carried out the US Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings which killed over 200) and the Taliban were being backed by America’s then-favorite sons the Pakistanis, the Saudis and the Qataris, Soleimani was already fighting them.

Then in 2011, the US started a diplomatic, economic and media war against Syria and coupled it by dumping weapons and dollars on Islamists who shared trenches with al-Qaeda and (until 2013) ISIS. Nearly 50 percent of the fighters were foreign, many of them fresh arrivals from Libya where they had fought on the NATO-backed rebel side.

When this US-Saudi-Turkish assault on the Syrian state and support for Sunni jihad inevitably resulted in the meteoric rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria (from which the latter then swept western Iraq), Iran was the first in 2013 to recognize the danger and to react to contain it. Soleimani was the man who led a complex Iranian intervention, which stopped the Qaeda-ISIS onslaught and saved Syria’s secular, nationalist government.

It wasn’t until a year later that the US recognizing its mistake joined the fight, but only against ISIS which had spread from Syria to Iraq. As far as al-Qaeda was concerned it was still being de facto boosted by US largesse towards its junior partners in the rebel jihadi coalition.

Realizing they couldn’t do it all on their own Iranians proposed to the Russians they join the fight, against al-Qaeda and ISIS alike. Soleimani was part of these efforts, and part of the Iranian delegation that traveled to Russia to give the pitch. As a result in 2015 Russia joined the fight as well, a year after the Americans, and two years after the Iranians.

Where the Iranian involvement had saved Damascus and created a stalemate the added Russian involvement allowed Syria to regain the initiative and slowly push back against the still partly-US aided jihad.

In Iraq where the US was not pursuing regime change, Russian involvement was not necessary. Instead, Iraq regained the initiative and finally destroyed ISIS with the help of the US and Iran. The US contributed more firepower, particularly the air and artillery cover in the final stages, but the role of Iran and Soleimani was just as important, particularly organisationally and early on. When the corrupt and poorly led Iraqi regular army melted away, giving up major cities without a fight, Soleimani helped the much more motivated Popular Mobilisation Forces militias get going and take over.

Between the 1998-2002 fight against the Taliban and the 2013-2020 fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Soleimani’s main concern was the US presence in neighboring Iraq. With Bush declaring Iran a part of “Axis of Evil” and the neocons drunk on war declaring that “boys go to Baghdad, but real men go to Tehran” who could blame him?

The US now officially blames Iran, and thus Soleimani, for the deaths of 600 of the nearly 4,600 US soldiers killed occupying or invading Iraq. The number is utter nonsense. It is arrived at by tallying up all US soldiers who were killed in clashes with any of the Shia Iraqi resistance groups.

However, the vast, overwhelming majority of the Shia Iraqi fighting against the US was done by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army which was Shia Islamist but also anti-Iranian Iraqi nationalist. Indeed in time, the relentless US pressure on Sadr would drive him into a tactical reconciliation with the Iranians, but by this point the Mahdi Army had also become a lot less active in the struggle against the US, directing most of its energies to Iraqi infighting.

In reality, the truly pro-Iranian factions, the Badr and Dawa groups which Iran had nurtured during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war, were all too willing to work with the Americans. In fact, it is Badr and Dawa that the US installed in Baghdad and who then fought with Americans against the Sunni resistance that was as much against US occupation as against the new Shia supremacy.

Did Iran at the time play a double game? Did it, on the one hand, welcome the US installing its Badr and Dawa proteges in Baghdad, but on the other, also helped Shia and Sunni groups hone their bomb-making skills, so as to ensure Americans lost enough blood to understand how costly a similar Iran occupation would be? Sure it did. But how much of a difference Iran made shouldn’t be overstated.

At the time, particularly around 2006-2007, Iran was blamed for every single roadside bomb attack in which a shaped charge was used. Bush and the neocons wanted Americans to believe these shaped charges, every single one, were being assembled in Iran and then smuggled into Iraq. This was total nonsense. Iraq was awash with weapons, and by this time with expert bomb-makers.

If anything Iran’s Quds would not have been doing the risky but needless work of smuggling in ready-made bombs, but instead would have spread manuals and perhaps some in-person training on how to make them with materials already in Iraq. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Iraqi bomb-makers owed their skills to Saddam’s army and Sunni jihadist literature, not Iran.

Did Soleimani, to defend his country, contribute to the deaths of some American soldiers? Undoubtedly yes, so did Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and countless other good patriots.

However, it is the Saudis, who saw the Iraq war as a larger Shia-Sunni conflict, who with their bankrolling* of the Sunni insurgency against the pro-Iranian Badr and Dawa contributed to the deaths of infinitely more American soldiers, yet they are in good graces in Washington. Now just as much as when they were actually financing Iraqi IEDs.

Indirectly Bush is likewise responsible for the deaths of many more American soldiers by throwing them into aggressive and immoral neocon wars of the Empire. (And then not even cracking down on the Saudis to cut off the funds to the Sunni insurgency to help protect them, but scapegoating Iran, which was doing far less, instead.)

Even with some help to the 2003-2011 anti-American struggle in Iraq taken into account, Soleimani did far more to fight America’s enemies than to aid them, which is more than could be said of Bush, Obama and Trump.

*This was done through private donations but which were fully tolerated by the state. Additionally, it is notable that the Saudis tended to disproportionately back the very worst parts of the Sunni insurgency.

Iran Fires 15 Ballistic Missiles Towards US Positions In Iraq, Without Shedding Blood

Iran’s strikes seem intended to avoid US deaths. Here’s why that might be the case

The timing. The target. The threats of heavy retaliation already “locked and loaded,” as President Trump would have had it.
Yet Wednesday morning’s missile strikes against al-Asad airbase and Erbil airport — both of which play host to US troops — were clearly not an act designed to kill the most Americans possible.
Iran will have known that the troops are normally asleep in the early hours of the morning. Choosing to attack then likely minimized the number of personnel roaming around the base who could be killed or injured.
It will also have known the US has a strong air defense system that would have been on high alert. Tehran should have a grasp of how well its missiles would fare against such technology.
The missile attacks don’t make sense if Tehran’s goal was to really hurt US troops in large numbers — as some had been pledging to do.
They do make sense, however, as the execution of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s order to strike back openly, military-to-military, in response to the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
Khamenei’s instruction was confusing when first reported, given that the US would be bound to prevail in a straightforward military conflict. Was the Supreme Leader ordering an empty show of force?
Wednesday’s strikes sent a message that Iran would violate US red lines and engage in direct warfare, but they killed nobody.
The only thing wounded might be Iranian military pride that a moment they had so heavily trumpeted drew no blood from their adversary.

Three possible explanations

The dust is still settling, and even at the best of times Iran’s motivations can be opaque, but there are three possible explanations for the action.
First, that Khamenei, Iran’s octogenarian Supreme Leader, is out of touch with what his military can achieve and overestimated the effectiveness of the strikes, which then failed.
Such a miscalculation would be surprising, given his reported involvement in and knowledge of Iranian military affairs.
Second, that moderation won out, and this largely empty signal — hitting military targets in the dead of night with a small number of missiles — provides the off-ramp both sides might ultimately have been looking for.
This would be logical, given that neither Tehran nor Washington has much to gain from a prolonged fight.
Third, it might be a bid by Iran to lull the US into a false sense of security — that Iran is militarily weak and has done its worst — while an asymmetrical and nastier response is plotted.
That would require a lot of strategic acumen from a government split between hardline and moderate wings, and would mean Tehran was relatively certain no Americans would be hurt in this missile attack.
It is possible Iran allowed a warning to be passed to the US. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s office said it was given verbal notification from Tehran just before the attack happened. It’s hard to see how the US would not learn of that somehow.

Risk of further action

If the attacks in Iraq are indeed the full scope of Iran’s response, they carry another risk: That the Trump administration thinks its ramshackle performance over the past week has paid off, and Iran has been vanquished.
This would risk further irrational action from Washington, perhaps not just against Iran but also other enemies. It would also make Iran look weak, which might embolden Tehran’s other regional adversaries.
Much will hinge on Donald Trump’s mood as he awakes. On what Fox News says. And on whether he feels slighted by Iran’s rhetoric.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has sent the clear message that Iran does not want war. It is notable that his moderate English-speaking voice has been heard clearly throughout this volatile morning, at a time when moderation might be considered to have taken a back seat.
Trump may just take that off-ramp. Tehran and Washington have one thing in common: Their lack of appetite for a prolonged, open conflict with the other. Iran has a weak economy and internal dissent. Trump wants re-election and not another episode of “sand and death.”
Iran has made its loud, public and fiery retort to the startlingly open killing of the country’s top commander. Its allies can read into this courage, and even choose to believe the false Iranian claims of US casualties.
This may be it, or — more likely — it may herald a slower-brewed retaliation against other, softer targets, by proxies or covert forces — the retaliation most analysts were expecting.
But this is not a reason to be cheerful. Yes, both sides may have steered deliberately away from a long and messy conflict. Yet they have also both learned they can attack each other directly.
They have both done things that were perhaps unthinkable a week ago. That is not good news. The tone of this morning may be de-escalatory. But the US and Iran had to get to a much darker place than they’ve seen in decades to choose calm.

Did Trump Murder Gen. Soleimani Now, To Distract American People From Impeachment Process?

Trump wags the hippopotamus

President Trump meets French President Emmanuel Macron at Winfield House on Dec. 3, 2019, in London. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Any ordinary president can wag the dog, but President Trump wags the Best and Biggest dog.

He wags the Bernese Mountain Dog!



The idea of launching military action to distract from domestic political troubles has been a thing at least since the 1997 film “Wag the Dog” (as in, the tail wagging the dog) gave it a name. Republicans accused President Bill Clinton of it in 1998 when he ordered airstrikes against Sudan and Iraq as impeachment loomed. Trump alleged (wrongly) that President Barack Obama would “start a war with Iran” before the 2012 election.

But now, Trump, on the eve of his impeachment trial in the Senate, has assassinated one of Iran’s top generals, the first action of its kind by the United States since World War II. And the president is using the self-created crisis as justification to shut down impeachment.

“Congress & the President should not be wasting their time and energy on a continuation of the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax when we have so many important matters pending,” he tweeted later.

In other words: They can’t hold my impeachment trial because I’m busy fighting the war I just started.

It’s easy to see why Trump would like to derail a Senate trial. More damning emails about his Ukraine contretemps dribbled out during the holidays and, now, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, one of the officials the White House ordered not to cooperate with investigators, says he’s willing to testify in a Senate trial.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Jan. 6 said Republicans would be “participating in a cover up” if they do not vote to subpoena witnesses. (U.S. Senate)

But Trump’s war-making isn’t a reason to call off the trial. In fact, Trump’s actions against Iran repeated some of the very behaviors that got him impeached in the first place.

Once again, he overrode congressional powers, refusing to inform lawmakers before the strike and mocking the War Powers Resolution by saying he’d alert lawmakers to his military actions.

Once again, he ignored the law, repeatedly threatening illegal strikes against Iranian cultural sites and warning he might launch a “disproportionate” attack against Iran.

Once again, he spurned warnings and advice from experts within the government, this time apparently ordering the strike because he got mad while watching TV. His order reportedly stunned the Pentagon.

It’s only natural that Trump repeats those behaviors. Republicans made it clear during the impeachment fight that they condone such abuses. Why wouldn’t he see what else he could get away with?

Trump’s assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has, at least for the moment, shifted attention from the Senate trial. Before the attack, pro-impeachment activists had scheduled a protest inside the Hart Senate Office Building for Monday, but only 45 demonstrators showed up for the event, nearly equaled by the 20 journalists and 15 police officers who greeted them. Though wearing “Remove Trump” and “Trump is Guilty” T-shirts, they were about as disruptive as a tour group.

To a point, it does. Back in 1998, when Clinton launched far less dramatic military strikes, Republicans accused him of dog-wagging. (“The timing and the policy are subject to question,” then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said.) But the Republicans argued then that the military action made it even more necessary to continue with impeachment proceedings. “As those troops are engaged now, defending . . . the Constitution of this nation, they have a right to know that the work of the nation goes forward,” then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey said.

Now, Trump has lit the Middle East on fire, with only a halfhearted attempt to justify the sudden urgency (“This president waited three years. I mean, we’ve had Soleimani in our sights for just as long as we’ve been here,” Trump strategist Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday). Thousands of U.S. troops are hurriedly deploying to the region, Iraq is demanding that U.S. troops leave the country, and Iran is threatening retaliation and renewing its nuclear ambitions.

Iraqi Parliament Votes To Expel US Forces For Recent US Aggression…Trump Refuses Until Iraq Pays US For Destroying It

Iraq votes to expel U.S. troops after Iran Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s killing

‘Pay us back’: Trump says troops will not leave airbase unless Iraq compensates US

Opinion: Iraq’s vote to expel U.S. troops is Iran’s true victory

U.S. troops training Iraqi soldiers.

Iraq’s move to oust U.S. troops would be deeply damaging to American and regional security interests and benefit Iran enormously.
(Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP/Getty Images)

Without firing a shot, Iran appears to have executed a devastating revenge attack against the United States for the killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani. Using Iraq’s democratic process, Iranian-influenced members of parliament on Sunday voted to expel American soldiers from Iraq. With that, Iran may have effectively won the battle of influence in Iraq.

This strategic coup de grace was delivered not by rockets or suicide vests, but by legitimate votes in a democracy built by the United States.

Assuming the Iraqi prime minister signs this nonbinding bill into law — there is some chance he may not — American troops would have to be withdrawn. The Strategic Framework Agreement that established the basis for U.S. military presence in Iraq is unequivocal: “The temporary presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is at the full request and invitation of the sovereign Government of Iraq and with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq.” Iraqis are very likely to think that the United States violated Iraqi sovereignty in the drone attack in Baghdad that killed Suleimani and others, including Iraqi citizens, however nefarious they may have been.

The impacts could be far-reaching and damaging to American strategic interests. No troops on the ground, and ostensibly no aircraft overhead, will mean American forces will lose visibility of — and the ability to strike directly — Islamic State targets in Iraq. It is possible the entire Combined Joint Task Force command currently leading the fight against Islamic State might have to be relocated from Baghdad. Operations in Syria that are heavily dependent on support from Iraq would be severely weakened. Large coalition bases would have to be closed, leaving European allies and contractors with little choice but to also withdraw from Iraq.

Unless Iraqis also fully reject Iranian presence (an unlikely event), the United States would have to consider Iraq effectively lost to Iran. The so-called Shiite crescent stretching from Iran through Iraq to the Levant has been brought closer to reality. If Iran can maintain its foothold in Iraq, it now has won its land bridge across the crescent.

If American soldiers are ejected, the Iraqi security forces will lose their most capable and beneficent ally. Iraqis prosecuting the ongoing counterinsurgency against Islamic State would be in serious trouble. American advisors who have provided logistics and medical support would disappear. The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service, which has long been dependent on American support, would be cut loose to fend for itself.

In all likelihood the multibillion-dollar U.S. Counter-ISIL Train and Equip Fund, the primary source of funding for Iraq’s security forces, would come to a halt as the Americans distributing the equipment are kicked out of the country. American aid to Iraqi civilians suffering from the recent war could very well dry up.

How did we get here? Did the U.S. walk into an Iranian strategic trap?

Perhaps, but if so, it is in part because the United States has been without a focused long-term strategy in Iraq for years. The Strategic Framework Agreement established in 2008 was shaky from the start.

There are two practical options left for the United States in Iraq. President Trump can take this expulsion as an opportunity to reduce America’s involvement in overseas conflicts. Iraq could be effectively dumped into Iranian hands with the hopes that they would make a mess of it and, in turn, be expelled by increasingly frustrated Iraqis. This would seem to be a strategy of hope, and hope is not a strategy.

The other option would be to quickly renegotiate American military presence in Iraq. If the United States could maintain an advisor position, it might be able hold on to its combined counter-Islamic State headquarters and continue funding the training and equipment. All of these things are in Iraq’s interest and they could be renegotiated if American diplomats were empowered to do so.

A reset in United States-Iraqi relations and a renegotiation of the Strategic Framework Agreement was needed before the current crisis. If U.S. policymakers and diplomats can settle on a long-term strategy for Iraq, a deal might be reached that could benefit both sides. This would help blunt Iran’s victory, reinforce Iraqi sovereignty and normalize relations that have been anything but normal for far too long.

Ben Connable is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corp. and a retired Marine Corps intelligence and Middle East Foreign Area officer.

Bi-Partisan Support For Murder and State Terrorism

Has anyone bothered to ask the American people if they want to go to war against Iran, or enter into World War III?

The press is building-up a national pep rally in support of Trump’s drone murder of Iranian and Iraqi government officials, intent on building a wave of popular hysteria and pseudo-patriotism behind Trump’s war for Israel and against American interests.  There are no mainstream media sources which challenge the “bi-partisan support” for another war of aggression…all you hear is the sound of cheerleaders taunting Iran, with sneers that “he had it coming”, “why had it taken so long? ”

Trump ordered “a hit” upon a competing Mafia Don, and quite honestly, he is so proud of the killing that I don’t know whether to puke or defecate upon his orange visage.


Trump warns Iran: US has targeted ’52 Iranian sites’ and will ‘hit very fast and very hard’ if needed

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” Trump wrote Saturday, explicitly laying out that the U.S. will act if Iran retaliates.

American Airstrike in Baghdad Is a War Crime – An Illegal Act of War


The decision to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the second most powerful leader in Iran, is a declaration of war against the whole of Iran.

Mealy mouthed mainstream media coverage and official Foreign Office statements like that of Dominic Rabb are pathetic and puerile in the face of an unmistakable war crime, an act of war by one nation against another without United Nations discussion, debate or support. It is yet another example of United States unrestrained lawlessness and brutal bullying on the international stage. Donald Trump has sanctioned a war crime and every bulletin should call out this calculated Drone strike as the illegal act of war it is.

Like the obedient puppet of the US we have become over the last fifty years the UK’s Foreign Office statement was an exercise in smoke and mirrors cover up of yet another US war crime with a limp and lame set of words most probably dictated directly from Washington:

“We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.”

US Act of War Should Be Condemned by International Community

Without an iota of international authority, discussion or attempted consensus the US President Trump ordered the killing of a hugely popular Iranian General and an Iraqi military leader in Iraq. While travelling in vehicles near to Baghdad airport these individuals were blown to smithereens by a deadly airstrike and instead of international condemnation of this act of terrorism, a war crime, we have the Western media and their political stooges refusing to condemn the US while calling for restraint from Iran. What utter cowardice and hypocrisy!

No wonder the world is in such a mess when one nation is permitted to act as it pleases and ignore all international rules and conventions regarding the sovereignty of other nations, while other nations are held to account on a wholly different basis.

Imagine the international condemnation if Syria had assassinated an Israeli General on Saudi soil or Iran had eliminated a member of the Saudi royal family during a visit to Qatar? Tensions do exist between Syria and Israel, and Iran and Saudi Arabia but unilateral action by either country to take out representatives of their opponents while on another country’s soil would bring down a cascade of condemnation and calls for international sanctions and coordinated retaliation.

Yet the US carries out just such an act of unilateral warfare and Western governments and the mainstream media shirk from condemnation and instead deflect attention to Iran and their alleged involvement in incidents across the Middle East which remain contentious and subject to fierce debate.

Iraq and Iran Have Been Attacked and Insulted by an Airstrike

The response of the Iraqi military to this airstrike is instructive. They condemned the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi paramilitary leader who died alongside Qasem Soleimani.

They said it was a clear breach of the US mandate in Iraq, according to a report by Reuters.

“The Joint Operations Command mourns the hero martyr … who was martyred last night in a cowardly and treacherous attack carried out by American aircraft near Baghdad international airport,” it said in a statement.

“We affirm that what happened is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a clear breach by the American forces of their mandate which is exclusively to fight Islamic State and provide advice and assistance to Iraqi security forces”.

In one deadly strike the US has taken out recognised military figures of two other sovereign nations on the soil of one of those nations. The US is not in a state of war with either of those nations but is supposed to be working alongside the fledgling Iraqi regime to help in a rebuilding exercise after its 2003 led invasion destroyed it and bombed its infrastructure to smithereens.

The US was an aggressor against Iraq in 2003 when it executed an illegal, bloody and brutal “shock and awe” missile assault and ground invasion which claimed in excess of one million civilian lives. Its role seventeen years later is supposed to be in aiding reconstruction. Yet as the Iraqi military statement above says clearly they have acted in a manner which flagrantly violates the sovereignty of Iraq.

If any other country carried out such an action they would be roundly accused of committing war crimes and made an international pariah. But not in the warped, corrupted and distorted world of US hegemony.

US Plan to Take out Seven Countries in Five Years Was Real

This latest act of US aggression should jolt everyone to recall the words of retired 4-star US General, Wesley Clark, who was at the helm as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in 1999 when the West chose to obliterate Yugoslavia under the auspices of humanitarian aims which now stands exposed as a flag of deceit and convenience. Speaking candidly in a 2007 interview with Democracy Now!  the General gave a rare insight into US strategic thinking and exposed the ‘rogue nation’ status which other western nations continually try to cover up. His words are worth quoting at length. Remember this is a former US General speaking, not an easily dismissed conspiracy theorist or academic of history with no hands-on experience of US military actions. This is a guy who sat round the top tables of government in Washington:

About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”.

Confirmation that US are Biggest Rogue Nation in the World

Not only this interview confirms that the decision to invade Iraq had nothing to do with links to Al Qaeda or weapons of mass destruction; it shows that the US does not merely respond to perceived threats to its interests and power across the Middle East and other regions of the world – they strategically plan their actions years in advance and implement those plans ruthlessly with the aid of pliable and billionaire controlled media who can always be counted upon to do the necessary whitewashing of events and create the convenient narratives to justify war crimes that were hatched and construed years in advance.

The US is the single biggest threat to peace and security across the planet. Their insatiable demand for power, control and cheap access to everyone else’s economic resources, primarily oil, explains its consistent military presence in the Middle East and interference in the affairs of other countries. The rogue military strike in Iraq by the US is not an exception to the rule of US engagement across the world – it is the norm, the confirmation of the rule.

Large scale ‘boots on the ground’ type engagements like Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq are conventional wars with official declarations, or at least congressional authorisations for the ‘use of military force,’ but the reality of US imposed hegemony is the undeclared wars which deliver similar results in relation to instilling fear of the US and projecting power to facilitate large scale resource grabs.

A major academic study in 2013 attempted a more realistic definition of war in order to establish the real extent of US involvement across the world. Consider the definition of war put forth by Linda Bilmes (Harvard Kennedy School) and Michael Intriligator (UCLA), who defined war in their 2013 paper as:

conflicts where the US is launching extensive military incursions, including drone attacks, but that are not officially ‘declared.'”

By that definition, the United States is at war in at least six places right now: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

Then consider the rare and rather clumsy revelation of truth by Trump in relation to US presence and involvement in Syria:

“Donald Trump has insisted that the US military presence in Syria is “only for the oil”, contradicting his own officials who have insisted that the remaining forces were there to fight Isis”.

US Militarily Secretly Active in 134 Countries across the World

The US military involvement in the manner described above is not the only form of involvement. Increasing Special Operations is how the US ensures governments close to their interests or willing to do their bidding get into power or stay in power. Extensive research now reveals that the US is actually militarily involved in 70% of the world’s nations through active and aggressive Special Operations in 134 separate countries:

“In the waning days of the Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed in about sixty countries around the world. By 2010, that number had swelled to seventy-five, according to Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post. In 2011, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told Tom Dispatch that the total would reach 120. Today, that figure has risen higher still.

In 2013, elite US forces were deployed in 134 countries around the globe, according to Major Matthew Robert Bockholt of SOCOM Public Affairs. This 123 percent increase during the Obama years demonstrates how, in addition to conventional wars and a CIA drone campaign, public diplomacy and extensive electronic spying, the US has engaged in still another significant and growing form of overseas power projection. Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences”.

US Should be blamed for Consequences of their Attack

This illegal, secret, brutal, bloody and deadly deployment of US power across the globe is what should be put into focus by the most recent example of US war crimes in Iraq last night.

Iran and Iraq have been the victims of US attacks on their government officials which constitute acts of war. Iran in particular has been left no option but to retaliate. It is one of the oldest nation states in the Middle East. It is a proud and patriotic nation. Its dignity and prestige has been undermined by the killing of its second in command so retaliation is inevitable. It is a case of when and how not if?

An ugly and bloody conflagration of incidents could now develop into a full scale war. The mainstream media won’t highlight them or expose them but free thinkers across the world must point the finger of blame firmly and without fear at Donald Trump and the US for whatever now ensues in response to their illegal act of war.

Trump’s Second Anti-Iranian Aggression Strikes Iraqi Medical Convoy In Baghdad

[SEE:  Trump Assassination of Iraqi and Iranian Govt. Officials An Obvious Act of “US STATE TERRORISM”]

An airstrike in Iraq hit a convoy of Iranian-backed paramilitary forces, PMF says

(CNN)A convoy including Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces was hit by an airstrike early Saturday in north Baghdad, killing and wounding several, according to the PMF.

“The initial report indicates that the strike targeted a convoy belonging to the medical units for the Popular Mobilization Forces, near Taji Stadium in Baghdad,” the PMF said in a statement.
Iraqi state news also reported a strike against the paramilitary forces.
The action comes a day after an airstrike ordered by US President Donald Trump killed a top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, at a Baghdad airport.
It is not yet known who carried out the reported airstrike on Saturday.
Trump said Friday that Soleimani was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans. Iran called it state terrorism and an unlawful criminal act.
The move marks a major escalation in regional tensions that have pitted Tehran against Washington and its allies in the Middle East, raising the specter of further regional destabilization. The strike, condemned by Iran and its allies as an “assassination,” has been met with concern by European officials and the United Nations, who have called for de-escalation.

Propaganda Versus Reality In the Terror War

Terrorism: Propaganda Versus Reality

There is hardly an accusation more damning in American political discourse than to be declared a “sponsor of terrorism.” We are used to certain countries, primarily Iran, being labeled by government officials and media outlets as state sponsors of terrorism. In the case of Iran, this claim is certainly true. But Sun columnist Michael Johns ’20, echoing a statement by former President George W. Bush, takes this accusation to the extreme by claiming that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The recent historical record, however, shows that this is far from true: It is the United States that routinely tops the list of rogue states with little regard for international law and diplomatic norms.

To make such an accusation against a country merits an investigation into its veracity. Johns references Iranian support for violent non-governmental actors such as the Lebanese militant-political party Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias in Iraq, as well as its ties to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as proof that Iran reigns world champion of terrorism. In analyzing Johns’ and Bush’s accusation, it will be helpful to consider some of the most extensive instances of international terrorism since the 1979 Iranian Revolution brought about Iran’s current regime.

First, we turn to the ongoing Yemeni Civil War, the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to international observers. The suffering is far from limited to traditional wartime deaths, which number at just under 100,000 so far. Some 85,000 children under the age of five died of starvation as of November 2018, a result of a famine caused by a military blockade of Yemen. It is unlikely that this famine and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians via airstrikes will come to an end soon, as the state-terrorist perpetrator’s principal military ally has blocked all efforts to end its patronage of the regime committing these crimes.

But the perpetrator of these atrocities is not the Iranian-backed Houthi Movement, and Iran is not the unrepentant enabler: The perpetrator is Saudi Arabia, and its patron is the U.S. Executive Branch. Saudi Arabia regularly commits the same types of outrageous human rights violations against its own citizens for which Johns rightly condemns Iran. We can therefore conclude not only that Iranian support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen is not an example of Iran’s alleged supremacy in the realm of international terrorism, but that a closer look at the reality of the war in Yemen paints a radically different picture of who is sponsoring “terrorism” in the country.

Johns’ next example of Iranian terror is the regime’s support for Hezbollah, a Lebanese political-military faction that emerged as an armed Shi’a-Islamist opposition to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1980s. Hezbollah is best remembered in the U.S. for perpetrating bombings against Israeli-allied and American targets in Lebanon during the country’s civil war. Iran has been a consistent ally of Hezbollah since its founding.

Perhaps the most extensive example of state-sponsored terrorism contemporary to the emergence of Hezbollah is that of the Contra War in Nicaragua. The Contras were a collection of paramilitary organizations and mercenaries receiving funding, intelligence, training, and arms from the CIA for most of the 1980s. They systematically killed civilians and attacked public spaces in order to bring the popular Nicaraguan government to its knees, a tactic that an honest observer might refer to as “terrorism.” Contra fighters routinely committed the types of gruesome executions we tend to associate with ISIS. In 1986, the World Court ruled that the Reagan Administration had violated international law in aiding the Contras, and Nicaragua continues to seek billions in reparations. By 1990, the Contra-led assault on Nicaragua had claimed over 30,000 lives — an example of terror contemporary to the first phase of Hezbollah terror in Lebanon, but on a much larger scale. Atrocities of larger magnitude were carried out at the same time in El Salvador and Guatemala, perpetrated by U.S.-backed military dictatorships rather than rouge rebel armies, all part of a strategy of financing groups violently opposed to political reform in Central America.

With so many examples of U.S.-backed terrorist groups and murderous regimes contemporary to each instance of Iranian sponsorship of terror, you begin to wonder how Johns and so many other American commentators have managed to present the narrative that Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world. The U.S. government does have a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes only Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. All are authoritarian regimes that brutalize their own populations. But curiously absent from the list are the chief U.S.-backed human rights abusing states of our time, such as Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States, Egypt, Israel, Colombia and the Philippines, to name a few.

It is therefore revealed what is meant by “terrorism” in the vernacular of many American government officials and political commentators: “Terrorism” is a term which categorically excludes any state, paramilitary or rebel army that commits acts of politically-motivated violence so long as it is allied (or directed by) the U.S. If we want to “reign in Iran’s brutal regime” with any sense of moral high ground, then perhaps it is time to have an honest discussion about state-sponsored violence in the world and reject the blinding, hyper-nationalist ideology that refuses to recognize terrorism as such unless it is committed by an official enemy.

Jacob Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in applied mathematics at Cornell University. He can be reached at Mapping Utopia runs every other Tuesday this semester.

Trump Assassination of Iraqi and Iranian Govt. Officials An Obvious Act of “US STATE TERRORISM”

Iran summons Swiss envoy, condemns US ‘state terrorism’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

File photo showing Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

Iran has summoned the Swiss charge d’affaires, whose country represents US interests in Iran, over Washington’s assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, decrying the attack as a “blatant instance of state terrorism”.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Friday that the Swiss envoy was notified of Tehran’s “strong protest”.

“He was told that Washington’s move is a blatant instance of state terrorism and the US regime is responsible for all its consequences,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, the IRGC confirmed that Major General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, had been assassinated in US airstrikes in Baghdad.

Look For Open War With Iran After Trump Assassinates Top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were killed in US airstrikes in the Iraqi capital Baghdad early on Friday.

Iran Leader vows ‘harsh revenge’ following assassination of Gen. Soleimani

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei speaks to IRGC Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in this file photo.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says those who assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani must await a harsh revenge.

In a statement on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei said the “cruelest people on earth” assassinated the “honorable” commander who “courageously fought for years against the evils and bandits of the world.”

His demise will not stop his mission, but the criminals who have the blood of General Soleimani and other martyrs of the Thursday night attack on their hands must await a harsh revenge, the Leader added.

“Martyr Soleimani is an international figure of the Resistance, and all the devotees of Resistance are now his avengers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“All the friends and foes must know that the path of Jihad of the Resistance will continue with double motivation, and a definite victory awaits those who fight in this auspicious path,” the Leader said.

“The demise of our selfless and dear general is bitter, but the continued fight and achievement of the final victory will make life bitterer for the murderers and criminals,” he added.

In his statement, the Leader also offered condolences to the Iranian nation and General Soleimani’s family, and declared three days of national mourning.

Later in the day, the IRGC spokesman General Ramezan Sharif warned that the US’ “momentary pleasure” after assassinating General Soleimani will be short-lived, and will soon turn into lamentation.

He also said the IRGC is going to open a new chapter from now on and the front of resistance is going to set out a new starting point.

‘Iran more determined now’

Following the Leader’s remarks, President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the attack, and said the US assassination will make Iran and other free nations more determined to stand against Washington.

“The martyrdom of the great commander of Islam and Iran, and the courageous commander of the Quds Force, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, along with some of his companions especially the great fighter Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, by the aggressive and criminal US broke the heart of the entire nation of Iran and regional nations,” President Rouhani said in a Friday statement.

The assassination “doubled the determination of the great nation of Iran and other free nations to stand against and resist the excessive demands of the US and to defend the Islamic values,” he added.

“There is no doubt that this cowardly and evil move is another sign of the US’ desperation, inability and failure in the region, and the hatred felt by the regional nations toward this criminal regime,” Rouhani noted.

“The great nation of Iran and other free nations of the region will take revenge for this heinous crime against the criminal US,” he warned.

Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also vowed that revenge will be taken against all those behind the assassination.

“Undoubtedly, this heinous crime which is a strong proof of the evil nature of the Big Satan, the arrogant US and it’s all-out support for terrorism in the region and Iraq, will be responded to in a crushing way,” the defense minister warned.

Earlier, former commander of the IRGC Major General Mohsen Rezaei also vowed a harsh revenge against the perpetrators.

Details of the attack

Speaking to Iran’s state TV, the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi explained that the US’ missile attacks hit two cars transferring General Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and 10 companions and bodyguards from Baghdad Airport to the city at 1 am (local time).

According to Masjedi, all the passengers have been killed, and arrangements are being made for their return to the Islamic Republic of Iran.


After US Drone Strikes, Iranian Supporters Attack US Embassy In Baghdad, Providing Pretext For Next Trump Airstrike

U.S. soldiers fire tear gas towards protesters who broke into the U.S. Embassy compound, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire.

Iraq protesters break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Angered by deadly airstrikes targeting an Iran-backed militia, dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area in one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent memory.

American guards fired tear gas, and palls of smoke rose over the embassy grounds.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the main embassy building. A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley deliver a statement on Iraq and Syria on Sunday at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Fla.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra
Iran-backed Iraqi militia vows revenge to U.S. strikes

There were no reports of casualties. The State Department said all American personnel were safe, and there were no plans to evacuate the embassy.

The breach followed U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The U.S. military said the strikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the U.S. blamed on the militia.

President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the embassy breach and called on Iraq to protect the diplomatic mission.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” he tweeted from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

By early evening, the protesters had retreated from the embassy compound butset up several tents outside where they said they intended to stage a sit-in. Dozens of yellow flags belonging to Iran-backed Shiite militias fluttered atop the reception area and were plastered along the embassy’s concrete wall along with anti-U.S. graffiti. American Apache helicopters flew overhead and dropped flares over the area.

Trump, who is spending the holiday week at his Florida home, is in “close touch” and receiving regular updates from his national security team, said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. She echoed the sentiment contained in Trump’s tweet earlier Tuesday.

“As the president said, Iran is orchestrating this attack, and they will be held fully responsible,” Grisham said in an emailed statement. “It will be the president’s choice how and when we respond to their escalation.”

The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S. influence in the region and American troops in Iraq, and also weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.

Iraq has long struggled to balance its ties with the U.S. and Iran, both allies of the Iraqi government. But the government’s angry reaction to the U.S. airstrikes and its apparent decision not to prevent the protesters from reaching the embassy signaled a sharp deterioration of U.S.-Iraq relations.

Iraqi security forces made no effort to stop the protesters as they marched to the heavily fortified Green Zone after a funeral for those killed in the airstrikes. The demonstrators were allowed to pass through a security checkpoint leading to the area.

The marchers, many of them in militia uniforms, shouted “Down, down USA!” and “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” outside the compound, hurling water and stones over its walls. The mob set fire to three trailers used by security guards along the wall. AP journalists saw some try to scale the walls.

Others then smashed the gates used by cars to enter, and dozens pushed into the compound. The protesters stopped in a corridor after about 5 meters (16 feet), and were only about 200 meters away from the main building. Half a dozen U.S. soldiers were seen on the roof of the main building, their guns were pointed at the protesters.

The protesters raised yellow militia flags and taunted the embassy’s security staff, which remained behind glass windows in the gates’ reception area. They hung a poster on the wall declaring “America is an aggressor” and sprayed graffiti on the wall and windows reading, “Closed in the name of the resistance.”

“This is a victory in retaliation to the American airstrike. This is the initial retaliation, God willing, there will be more,” said Mahmoud, a fighter with the Imam Ali Brigades who was carrying a black bag filled with electricity cables that he said he took from the reception area.

A video obtained by the AP showed militiamen trashing the reception area and taking away paperwork.

The embassy, on its Facebook page, urged American citizens not to approach the compound and “to review their personal security and emergency preparedness.”

An Iraqi employee at the embassy told the AP that the embassy’s security team had evacuated some local staff from a rear gate while others left by helicopters and the rest remained inside “safe” areas within the embassy. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak to journalists.

Multiple officials told the AP that the U.S. ambassador was traveling outside Iraq before the attack on the compound.

Some commanders of militia factions loyal to Iran joined the protesters outside the embassy in a strikingly bold move. Among them was Qais al-Khizali, the head of one of the most powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq who is on a U.S. terror list, and Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the state-sanctioned paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, the umbrella group for the Iran-backed militias.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for Kataeb Hezbollah, said the protesters had no intention of storming the embassy. He told the AP that the sit-in will continue “until American troops leave Iraq and the embassy is closed.”

Yassine al-Yasseri, Iraq’s interior minister, also appeared outside the embassy at one point and walked around to inspect the scene. He told the AP that the prime minister had warned the U.S. that strikes on the Shiite militiamen would have serious consequences.

“This is one of the implications,” al-Yasseri said. “This is a problem and is embarrassing to the government.”

Hours after the violence erupted, seven armored vehicles with about 30 Iraqi soldiers arrived near the embassy, deploying near the embassy walls but not close to the breached area. There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon and the State Department.

The U.S. airstrikes — the largest targeting an Iraqi state-sanctioned militia in recent years — and the subsequent calls by the militia for retaliation, represent a new escalation in the proxy war between the U.S. and Iran playing out in the Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday’s strikes send the message that the United States will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

The U.S. attack also outraged the Iraqi government, which said it will reconsider its relationship with the U.S.-led coalition — the first time it has said it will do so since an agreement was struck to keep some U.S. troops in the country. It called the attack a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty.

In a partly televised meeting Monday, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Cabinet members that he had tried to stop the U.S. operation “but there was insistence” from American officials. He declared three days of mourning for those killed in the U.S. strikes, starting Tuesday.

The U.S. military said “precision defensive strikes” were conducted against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq and Syria. The group, which is a separate force from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Many of them are supported by Iran.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in West Palm Beach, Fla., Samya Kullab in New York and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.