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December 12, 2019

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https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/putin-blames-poland-world-war-ii/604426/

lovely

... Only hours after the assassination of General Qassem Soleiman, Russia quietly cut off oil supplies to Belarus as economic talks collapsed, a move that went almost entirely unremarked...

And Trump is not a useful idiot ?

Today's news feed:

  • Iran is abandoning whatever remained of the nuclear treaty.
  • The Iraqi Parliament voted 170-0 to require US (and likely other foreign) forces to leave Iraq
  • US troops in the area are putting aside any remaining efforts to counter ISIS so they can focus on protecting themselves

Cui bono? I have no idea, but probably not us. Maybe nobody.

As far as Trump being Putin's "puppet" or "Russia's stooge", I don't really see that. I doubt he would be desirable in those roles, he's too freaking random.

What Trump is, is manipulable. Tell him that folks don't appreciate what a genius he is, and you have his undivided attention and interest.

As far as "what Putin got", compare the position of Russia today relative to 4 years ago. In Europe, the Middle East, anywhere you like.

he's manipulable, yeah. and his own isolationist tendencies directly benefit Russia's (and China's) current expansionism. he doesn't want to compete with them as they branch out into new areas; he's mostly happy to let them do what they want (even when it comes to meddling in US politics).

Putin really couldn't have designed a better ally.

As far as Trump being Putin's "puppet" or "Russia's stooge", I don't really see that. I doubt he would be desirable in those roles, he's too freaking random.

Not sure why they've paid him so much then.

What Putin got in the Mideast so far was a victory in Syria and the maintenance of the Russian allied Assad government. Of course if Assad had fallen then the US would be in the position of supporting a rebel movement whose most effective fighters were jihadists intent on exterminating Alawites. I cited a NYT Sunday Magazine piece about this sometime back. Our policy in Syria under Obama was an incoherent disaster. If Putin has acquired more influence in the Middle East we can blame about 17 years of bipartisan geniuses doing whatever it is they do. Some of them applauded the recent assassination, including warrior scholar David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker.

I don’t think I am strawmanning here at all. Liberals are obsessed with Putin and Russia in ways that are absurd. Yes, Trump is easily manipulated, but where did this obsession about Iran come from? Who pushes it? It’s essentially the same collection of clowns that were saying real men go to Tehran back in the early Bush era. It’s not Putin.. He doesn’t have to whisper into Trump’s ear to do things that will push Iran, China, and Russia together. There are plenty of others doing that.

And obsessing about Russia means this warmongering against Iran got a free pass. Actually, it even got a boost. Back in 2017 only Sanders and Ron Paul voted against a bill imposing sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran. Sanders explicitly said he opposed it because of the Iranian sanctions, which he thought it was part of a push to end the Iran nuclear deal and to bring about war with Iran. That didn’t take a genius to see, but only two senators voted accordingly.


Link about the 2017 bill

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/bernies-vote-on-sanctions-was-about-protecting-the-iran-deal-from-trump_b_597df7f8e4b0da64e879b55e

Not sure why they've paid him so much then.

Money laundering. All the other stuff is just gravy.

if Assad had fallen then the US would be in the position of supporting a rebel movement whose most effective fighters were jihadists intent on exterminating Alawites.

I didn't realize that described the Kurds....

Yes, Trump is easily manipulated, but where did this obsession about Iran come from?

The Iran deal was Obama's biggest foreign policy accomplishment. And Trump is obsessed with Obama. So he will do anything which can be made to look like the opposite of Obama -- without regard to anything else.

Money laundering. All the other stuff is just gravy.

Russia laundered money through the NRA to support Republicans. The support of his Deutsche Bank loans was a direct benefit. Sure, money laundering was a piece of it, but the benefit to him was more precise.

Liberals are obsessed with Putin and Russia in ways that are absurd.

elections schmelections.

Liberals are obsessed with Putin and Russia in ways that are absurd.

If we're still hoping for elections to bail us out, we might want to consider that Russians helped to elect Donald Trump. Not just by social media (although that was part of it), but by hacking Democratic information with the exact same result as Watergate would have been if it were successful. With a lot of money, too, of course. There is also evidence of their having hacked voter rolls, and even (yes) election results.

Obviously, some on "the left" think that's all a big nothing burger, because they spent the entire 2016 election parroting Putin bots' talking points. Retreating now would be so embarrassing for them: they would have to own their part in this permanent global disaster.

We're f'd. I plan to work for change in my state, vote Democratic locally and nationally, and hope for the best. Who knows - sometimes we're surprised.

Jinx!

Yes, Trump hates Obama, but there are people who have long wanted to topple the Iranian government and Trump is their puppet. If this could be blamed on Putin people would be all over it. Since it is the same people pushing the same warmongering policies they are ignored


“ I didn't realize that described the Kurds.”

As snark that seems pretty weak. My comment doesn’t describe the Kurds , but it describes the people who were allied with the Free Syrian Army. Al Nusrah for one.

Ben Rhodes in his book discusses how he thought it was weird we had Al Nusrah on our terrorism list when we were arming people who fought beside them.

On 2016, I agree the hacking of emails might have swayed the election. It might have swayed it because it revealed embarrassing facts about the Democrats. Personally, I don’t think people should have refrained from voting for Clinton because of that but I also thought Democrats should be honest about their So obviously the face saving thing to do was talk about how Putin was endangering our democracy.

But frankly I am willing to spread blame all around. Lefties too pure to vote for Clinton were wrong. I read some of them. Clinton sucked, but Trump is beyond the normal scale of suckness.. People who make excuses for our war crimes or ignore them are guilty. Trump is a fascist and people who support him should face up to that. This includes members of the Resistance who have in practice done almost nothing to restrain his warmongering towards Iran and in fact helped lay the foundations for Trump’s ability to start a major war all on his own.

Speaking of which, war criminal presidents are nothing new, but I don’t recall one who openly advertised his intent to commit war crimes like Trump does. That ought to clear the bar for high crimes and misdemeanors.

I really would like to see Democrats and the handful of antiwar Republicans speak out very loudly on this. This is way beyond political corruption. It might finally sink in that both parties have made the Presidency an office which amounts to being an elected monarch, someone who can commit war crimes with impunity. It’s all just fun and games when 200,000 Yemeni children starve to death, but nobody knows what the Iranians might do. Maybe, just maybe, people might realize there might really be a rule of law issue here that is a bit more serious than the stuff the Beltway usually worries about stolen emails.

Left out a couple of words up above, but you can probably fill them in.

I’m done for the day.

Take two of an earlier post which I probably only previewed and forgot to post.

Liberals are obsessed with Putin and Russia in ways that are absurd.

Trump isn't Putin's "puppet". That said, Putin appears to occupy more space in Trump's head than is desirable.

Hard to say where the line between "absurd" and "merits attention" lies.

Iran:

There are folks who have been chomping at the bit to go to war with Iran as long as I can remember. Nothing new there.

I have no idea what kind of guy Solemeini is. All I know about him is his reputation as an effective military and strategic leader. I'm sure he's responsible for the deaths of some Americans. I'm sure our military are responsible for the deaths of some Iranians. We - the US and Iran - are at cross purposes and are not friendly.

So it goes, as Vonnegut would say. Po-tee-weet.

As far as I can tell, it's unusual for one country to assassinate the military leader of another country, certainly in the absence of an explicit declaration of war. I'm not sure what the legalities are, but at a minimum it seems like one of those Things That Are Not Done.

Some doors you don't really want to open.

What is the end game here? Where does this lead? What is the strategic objective, and how is it in our, or anybody's, interest?

How does killing Solemeini, at this time, in this way, advance any of it? What risks and downsides does it create?

I'm talking about all of this in more or less transactional terms. There is a whole other dimension to all of this - i.e., the moral weight and peril of warfare mayhem and raining fire down on people's heads, because you can - that I don't even want to get into, because (a) that horse is out of the barn, and (b) I have zero interest in the whole exercise of jousting for the moral high ground. We all have blood on our hands, even if we don't personally pull any triggers.

So - stipulated that the moral calculus is FUBAR. WTF was accomplished by killing Solemeini?

If this turns into an actual war it is going to be a total fncking mess. My prayer is that Iran continues to be the adult in the room and doesn't do anything to prompt further military action from us. Because the only sense I can make out of Trump and Pompeo's rhetoric is that they can't wait to blow up more people and stuff.

What a freaking mess.

and now Trump is threatening sanction in Iraq if they ask our troops to leave?

what the fuck is wrong with this guy?

and what the fuck is wrong with his supporters?

Speaking of which, war criminal presidents are nothing new, but I don’t recall one who openly advertised his intent to commit war crimes like Trump does.

I completely agree that Trump's willingness to trumpet his enthusiasm for war crimes, a wide variety of them, is unique. Actually, if someone piunts out to him one he has missed, I wouldn't be surprised if that was sufficient to generate a supportive tweet.

But it occurs to me to wonder: When (if ever) did the US last have a President who wasn't guilty of war crimes? In your opinion, Donald. That is, are we just experiencing an unusual flurry? Or has it always been thus?

As far as I can tell, it's unusual for one country to assassinate the military leader of another country, certainly in the absence of an explicit declaration of war. I'm not sure what the legalities are, but at a minimum it seems like one of those Things That Are Not Done.

Well, if not in violation of US law, it is definitely contrary to Executive Order 12333. Issued by that noted appeaser Ronald Reagan. It's been relaxed slightly for non-state actors engaged in terrorism. But not for government official of countries with which we are not at war. It's a couple of levels beyond Not Done.

What is the strategic objective, and how is it in our, or anybody's, interest?

this is the Ledeen doctrine gone feral after spending 18 years running free in wingnut comment sections:

"Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,"

Trump thinks he's showing the word we mean business - big, tough business.

everyone else thinks he's lost his mind.

I think we should leave Iraq, and Afghanistan and declare sanctions all around. And when Iran uses the surrogate states of the ME to attack Europe we will fight on European soil once again.

Trump is unstable but Iran being the adult in the room is absurd. They have attacked us in various ways to see if they could get this response, from us, their people, the Iraqis, next the Saudis. It is a well crafted provocation short of Trumps instability.

Iran wants an excuse to be a nuclear power, now they have it unless the West stands with us.

In the days leading up to the Iraq war, Iraq played these games. The hawks in Washington have their provocation, the Iranian leaders have theirs. War is an inevitability. The only remaining question is how it is fought.

I think we should leave Iraq, and Afghanistan and declare sanctions all around.

Sanctions on whom? Because, while nationwide sanctions can have an impact on government policy in something resembling a democracy, in a dictatorship or a plutocracy/kleptocracy, you have to sanction individuals. (And a theocracy is even harder.)

"Sanctions", all too often, gets treated like a magic word. But it requires focus to make it accomplish anything.

Not to mention that sanctions pretty much hurt and kill the poor, women, and children and merely inconvenience the people in charge.

But boy do they do wonders for one's sense of moral hazard.

Well, badly constructed sanctions certainly do.

It's possible to craft sanctions that target the right people, and in some cases (e.g., I believe, some Russian oligarchs) we have done so. Unfortunately, the chances that this administration would come up with such are a close order approximation of zero.

I have to say I have massively more sympathy for Donald’s view of things than Marty’s - which I barely understand. What is this war he wants to fight in Europe ?

Meanwhile, with any luck developments like this will reduce the strategic significance of the Middle East.
A potentially workable lithium/sulphur battery architecture:
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/1/eaay2757

At around three to four times the energy density of current batteries, it would obsolete the internal combustion engine very rapidly.

WTF was accomplished by killing Solemeini?

The monarch in the White House had a fit of pique.

They have attacked us in various ways to see if they could get this response

totally unprovoked, right?

The war in Europe is the outcome of a nuclear Iran continuing its expansion. It is a heavily armed modern jihadist state. The second guy in their government is responsible for managing their terrorist network. It is an organizational statement.

Once more, every administration in the last 50 years had a policy of limiting Iran. We have fought their proxies in multiple places and only used sanctions on them. They have intentionally provoked Trump into retaliation .

They have intentionally provoked Trump into retaliation .

Trump had nothing to do with it?

amazing.

Once more, every administration in the last 50 years had a policy of limiting Iran.

Yes indeed, and the last administration even (along with the rest of the P5+1 and the EU) signed a treaty preventing their acquisition of nuclear weapons for 15 years. The European powers have been frantically trying to keep this treaty in operation ever since Trump was elected, and ignorantly charged in trying to undo one of Obama's significant achievements.

The war in Europe is the outcome of a nuclear Iran continuing its expansion.

See comment above.

when Iran uses the surrogate states of the ME to attack Europe

????

I can only read Marty's 10:08 PM comment as an explanation of Iran's successful manipulation of Rump.

Unless this assassination is part of a larger strategic plan. *tries not to laugh*

To clarify, I don't think Iran wanted this specific thing to happen. I just think Marty's comment reads as though Iran is getting a bunch of stuff they've always wanted because of Rump's impulsiveness, after they've been poking at him.

it was pretty amazing to watch Solemeini go from "guy nobody's heard of" to "WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS TERRORIST EVER" in the span of 36 hours.

and the quick return of "DEMS WANT THE TERRORISTS TO WIN" has been like sticking my head in a big bowl of 2004.

Reportedly (and who knows if this is true), Soleimani was travelling to respond to a Saudi peace overture...
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7854971/Soleimani-Iraq-discuss-escalating-tensions-Saudis-killed-PM-says.html

It has a certain amount of credibility, as Soleimani was the same guy who tried for rapprochement with the US ahead of the Iraq invasion in 2003 (the 'axis of evil' speech put paid to that, of course, and it still seems to be Republican orthodoxy that Iran was implicated in 9/11, despite all evidence to the contrary).

Marty has been imbibing the Kool Aid.

Some links which I will post one at a time. The first two are intended to show that there are so called serious people who supported the assassination. Trump is an idiot, but there is and continues to be a constituency in the foreign policy community for endless war.

(Incidentally, Crocker leaves out the fact that US warships were shelling factions in Lebanon before the truck bombings in 1983. His historical retrospective is one sided.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/opinion/suleimani-iran-trump.html

Next is David Petraeus. He clearly wanted payback. This indirectly support the theory that Trump was egged on in part by people who want payback against Iran.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/03/petraeus-on-qassem-suleimani-killing-says-trump-helped-reestablish-deterrence/

Next is a couple of twitter threads from someone I had never heard of, but he seems to have lots of connections in the government. They aren’t happy with Trump. These people should go on the record.

https://twitter.com/rezamarashi/status/1214031176001703937

Once more, every administration in the last 50 years had a policy of limiting Iran. We have fought their proxies in multiple places and only used sanctions on them.

This betrays an astounding ignorance of the history of the region.

Second thread from the same guy. He has a two part theory about Trump’s motives. First is wj’s theory that it is a desire to undo everything Obama did. Second is the idea that Trump is surrounded by people who want patbalk against Iran.

https://twitter.com/rezamarashi/status/1213282205868290049

Payback. Not pat back. Trying to figure out what patback is. My subconscious should know.

Anyway, I actually have to do some real life things.

That first Reza thread I linked for some reason takes you to the middle of tge tweet storm when you click on it. You will want to scroll up.

Okay, real life and all that.

The war in Europe is the outcome of a nuclear Iran continuing its expansion.

Iran has generally been working to various Shia minorities around the Middle East. They haven't been trying to expand, except for their influence in those places.

Europe doesn't really have a significant Shia population. So it's hard to see why Iran would be particularly active there. In Iraq? Certainly. In the southern Arabian Peninsula? Likewise. In Lebanon, Syria, etc.? Sure. But Europe? Just can't see it.

Europe's biggest objection to a nuclear Iran, it seems to me, is that it leads rapidly to a nuclear Saudi Arabia. And the Saudis actually could be seen as an expansionist, jihadist even, state.

"In your opinion, if anyone around the world wants to take their revenge on the assassination of Soleimani and intends to do it proportionately in the way they suggest — that we take one of theirs now that they've got one of ours — who should we consider to take out in the context of America?

"Think about it. Are we supposed to take out Spider-Man and SpongeBob? They don't have any heroes. We have a country in front of us with a large population and a large landmass, but it doesn't have any heroes. All of their heroes are cartoon characters — they're all fictional."

-- Iranian cleric, Shahab Moradi

i'm all for having Trump and Iran settle this whole thing with snarky comments.

They better not f**king touch SpongeBob!!!

Iran is a predominantly Shia nation surrounded mostly by predominantly Sunni nations. It's neighbors and near neighbors include Russia, Pakistan, India, and Israel, all nuclear powers.

Iran's democratically elected government was overthrown with the assistance and direction of the US and UK, and was replaced by the Shah, who during his tenure as dictator imprisoned, killed, and tortured thousands of his political opponents.

Iran and Iraq fought an 8-year war, in which somewhere between 100K and 300K Iranian soldiers were killed. The Iraqi effort was supported by the US, Russia, and various other Western nations. The famous photograph of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein comes from that time, and we famously supplied Saddam with the chemical weapons that were later the pretext for our 2003 invasion. Those weapons were used against Iran.

I'm not raising any of this to defend Iran, its foreign policies, or its behavior in the Middle East or elsewhere. Nations have interests, they pursue those interests, and often do so by killing people. It's probably the least attractive thing about human beings. But Iran is not, in any way, unique in that.

I'm sorry for the friends of Crocker's that he buried. I'm sorry for Petraeus' frustration in trying to make something like a success of our War On Terror invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm sorry for all of the people Solemeini had a hand in killing.

But there was nothing special about Solemeini in any of that, other than his apparent competence.

There are a number of constituencies in the US whose fondest dream is going to war with Iran. Their motivations range from revenge to a desire to usher in the apocalypse. As far as I can tell, none of those people seem to care much about all of the people that will be killed in the process of making their dream come true.

An actual, straight-up, direct military engagement with Iran will not be a simple matter. It's big - about four times the size of Iraq - has an inconveniently mountainous geography, and has been making defensive plans for exactly this scenario for decades, i.e., about as long as people here have been talking about attacking them. We've been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years now, and in Iraq for almost 17, without making a particular success out of either. Iran would likely be an order of magnitude more challenging.

What I really hope is that Iran refrains from doing the natural thing, which would be to ratchet up the escalation another notch. Because there are not many steps left between where we are now, and total fucking war.

As far as Trump goes, all of the reasons Donald mentions for why Trump is doing the things he is doing make sense. And there are probably another dozen boneheaded bullshit motivations to add to it, all of which come down to Trump's vulnerability to what he thinks other people are thinking or saying about him.

The most dangerous thing about Trump is how pathetically weak and insecure he is.

Now he's upset that Iran is further backing out of the 2015 nuclear deal. (So am I, actually, but I did nothing to cause that.)

"i'm all for having Trump and Iran settle this whole thing with snarky comments."

Hell NO! They can stay OFF of my turf, thankyouverymuch. Trump is incompetent in that department (and so very many others), anyhow.

Now, if they want to settle it with hand-grenades at 2 paces, that would be fine.

As far as I can tell, none of those people seem to care much about all of the people that will be killed in the process of making their dream come true.

Not quite none. There is Trump (and I don't think he is entirely alone), for whom all those deaths are a plus. Because they make this pathetically insecure and weak PoS feel strong and macho.

WRS.

Yup, WRS, as so often.

An actual, straight-up, direct military engagement with Iran will not be a simple matter.

Nukes.

Conservatives have always wanted to go their since MacArthur.

It's their ultimate wet dream.

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