How the Iran Deal Serves America’s Interest In The Middle East

If Iran’s nuclear program were the primary concern of those lamenting the deal that John Kerry and representatives of five major countries concluded with Iran last Tuesday, they would be relatively pleased. Under the agreement, Iran will be stripped of 98 percent of its enriched uranium, all of its plutonium producing capacity, and 2/3 of its centrifuges, and will be placed under the most rigorous inspection regime in the history of nuclear proliferation negotiations. The cartoon image of Iran racing toward the bomb – presented last year by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the United Nations – may not have been reality-based, but if that’s what Israel is worried about, it can relax. Iran will not be racing toward the bomb.
But of course Israel is not pleased at all, and many of its volunteer spokesmen and politicians in the United States are railing against the deal as virtually the worst thing to happen in history. Netanyahu has let no one outdo him in hysteria. Iran is seeking to ‘take over the world,’ he told an Israeli audience last week. (As the leaders of Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain signed onto the agreement, one wonders how they all managed to miss the world takeover threat Netanyahu sees so clearly.)
Netanyahu’s followers in the United States, AIPAC, the Republicans in Congress, and the Iraq War neocons will dutifully suit up and mount a serious effort to scuttle the deal. (AIPAC has ordered staffers to cancel their summer vacations.) But something far different from Iranian centrifuges is at stake. It has never been clear to the U. S. intelligence community (or for that matter to the Israeli one) that Iran wanted a nuclear weapon to begin with, and it is far from obvious what advantages, if any, Iran would accrue if it managed to cobble together one or two nuclear weapons. There really isn’t any evidence that Iran’s leaders want the destruction of their 5,000 year-old Persian civilization, which would be the inevitable consequence of using the supposed bombs that Iran’s leaders have always denied any interest in seeking.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By SCOTT MCCONNELL The American Conservative – July 23, 2015.

All Praise To Barack Obama For Stiffing The War Party – – Peace Is Finally Being Given A Chance

I have rarely found anything President Obama has done to be praiseworthy, and believe his domestic policies of Keynesian borrow and spend and incessant statist intervention in capitalist enterprise to be especially deplorable. But finally he has stood up to the War Party – – and that could mark a decisive turning point in rolling back Washington’s destructive interventionism and imperial pretensions in the Middle East and, indeed, around the world.
The Iranian nuclear agreement is a decisive refutation of the War Party’s hoary claim that Iran is hell-bent upon obtaining nuclear weapons. This deafening but untruthful narrative was long ago debunked by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). These authoritative findings were issued by the nation’s 16 top intelligence agencies in November 2007, and they held that what had possibly been a small-scale Iranian weapons research effort was abandoned in 2003 and never restarted. That NIE verdict has been reiterated several times since then.
Not surprisingly, it was also these NIE findings that stopped cold in its tracks George Bush’s plan to bomb the alleged Iranian nuclear sites in late 2007. In his memoirs the Great Decider admitted that it would have been hard to explain to the American public why he was launching another war to eliminate an alleged Iranian WMD threat when his own intelligence agencies had just concluded it did not even exist!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 17, 2015.

All Praise To Barack Obama – -He’s Giving Peace A Chance

I have rarely found anything President Obama has done to be praiseworthy, and believe his domestic policies of Keynesian borrow and spend and incessant statist intervention in capitalist enterprise to be especially deplorable. But finally he has stood up to the War Party – – and that could mark a decisive turning point in rolling back Washington’s destructive interventionism and imperial pretensions in the Middle East and, indeed, around the world.
The Iranian nuclear agreement is a decisive refutation of the War Party’s hoary claim that Iran is hell-bent upon obtaining nuclear weapons. This deafening but untruthful narrative was long ago debunked by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). That authoritative finding was issued by the nation’s 16 top intelligence agencies in November 2007, and it held that what had possibly been a small-scale Iranian weapons research effort was abandoned in 2003 and never restarted. That NIE verdict has been re-iterated several times since then.
Not surprisingly, it was also this NIE finding that stopped cold in its tracks George Bush’s plan to bomb the alleged Iranian nuclear sites in late 2007. In his memoirs the Great Decider admitted that it would have been hard to explain to the American public why he was launching another war to eliminate an alleged Iranian WMD threat that his own intelligence agencies had just concluded did not even exist!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 16, 2015.

The War Party’s Strategy For Defeating ISIS – – -Bomb More Civilians!

Advocates for even more war in the Middle East apparently have a new strategy for defeating Isis: allow the US military to kill more civilians. If you think I’m exaggerating, just read their deranged and pathological arguments for yourself.
It began in late May when the New York Times reported that both Iraqi and American officials started complaining the US was too worried about killing civilians, suggesting that the Obama administration shouldn’t be worried that indiscriminately killing innocent people might turn the Iraqi population even more against the US than it already is. (Nevermind that it could be considered a war crime.) As the Times’s Eric Schmitt wrote: ‘many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason the Islamic State, also known as Isis or Daesh, has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria.’
US News and World Report’s Paul Shinkman took this to a new extreme this weekin an article entitled ‘Iraqi Civilians Will Die:US Must Get Used to It, Experts Say.’ Shinkman quoted multiple ‘experts’ who were apparently upset the US military was investigating one of its own bombings due to credible reports that civilians were killed. Given the US government took months to admit that they had killed even one civilian in Iraq or Syria, the fact they are willing to investigate it at all should tell you something about its validity. Admitting the US cares about civilian deaths only ‘complicate[s] the war effort,’ he writes. Shinkman ended his piece – after claiming that the firebombing of Dresden and the millions of civilians killed in Vietnam were merely ‘part of the cost of waging warfare’ – by essentially lamenting that US military members are attempting to avoiding collateral deaths:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 4, 2015.

Under Hillary, US Sold $66 Million In Chemical Arms To Clinton Foundation Donors Gassing Their Citizens

As Hillary Clinton’s bid for The White House ramps up, contributions to The Clinton Foundation charities have come under increased scrutiny.
First, a Reuters investigation revealed that contributions from foreign governments had inexplicably disappeared from tax documents starting in 2010, prompting the charity to refile five years worth of returns. The ‘omission’ was characterized as a ‘mistake’ by the foundation’s acting CEO who, in a lengthy blog post, promised that the organization had been careful to avoid conflicts of interest when Clinton was Secretary of State. It later turned out that Clinton may not have kept all of her promises to the Obama administration when it came to avoiding such conflicts.
Further investigative reports from the IBTimes outlined two particularly interesting cases where payments to the Clintons and/or their charities may have influenced policy decisions.
In one case, Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton $200,000 for a speech before lobbying the Clinton-led State Department on Export-Import Bank legislation and on multiple occasions, foreign government donors to the Clinton Foundation were awarded arms deals which, when taken together, were worth more than $150 billion.
Now, the IBTimes is back at it, with a look at the Clinton State Departments’ chemical arms sales to Middle Eastern governments who gave to Clinton family charities. Here’s more via IBTimes:
The Clinton-run State Department’s approval of chemical and biological exports to the Egyptian government increased in volume just as dollars flowed from Mubarak-linked entities into the coffers of Clinton family concerns. A group closely associated with the Mubarak government paid Bill Clinton a $250,000 speaking fee in 2010, less than 4 months before the Egyptian revolution began. In 2012, a firm with an ownership stake in the company that manufactured the tear gas reportedly used by Egyptian security forces against the uprising paid $100,000 to $250,000 for another Bill Clinton speech.
The approval of American chemical weapons sales to Egypt as Mubarak’s associates were stocking Clinton family interests with cash is but one example of a dynamic that prevailed though Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 06/03/2015.

‘Hillary Clinton Sold Her Soul When They Accepted That Money’

Editor’s Note: The trail of lies, corruption, and death that follow this woman could likely circle the moon and back literally. Hillary Clinton had a soul to sell??? That’s news to us.
A day after Bill Clinton feted donors and dignitaries at an extravagant Moroccan feast under a warm Marrakech night sky, a group of local Sahrawi Arabs gathered for tea in a far more humble setting here to share their outrage that Clinton’s family foundation had accepted millions of dollars from a company owned by a government accused of repressing their people.
The four men used to work as miners for a subsidiary of OCP, the state-owned phosphate company that paid more than $1 million to sponsor the lavish outdoor gala and the concurrent two-day meeting of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation headlined by the former U. S. president. Its purpose was to highlight efforts by the foundation, its donors and the Moroccan government to improve the lives of marginalized people in North Africa and the Middle East, and Bill Clinton opened the event by praising OCP, King Mohamed VI and ‘Morocco’s longstanding friendship to my family and to the United States.’

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on May 15th, 2015.

Putting On The Dog At Camp David – – Obama’s Shameful Pandering To The Persian Gulf Plutotarchs

Defying escalating rhetoric that Iran is ‘gobbling up the Middle East,’ President Barack Obama told the New York Times recently that ‘the biggest threat’ to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states may not come from Iran, but ‘from dissatisfaction inside their own countries.’
Yet, displaying how deeply mired in Washington hype his administration remains, Obama has called on GCC leaders to parade with him at Camp David this week as if Iran is their biggest threat.
Saudi King Salman has refused to join in this spectacle, underscoring that, in foreign policy, friendship and interest should not be conflated. Obama, by contrast, studiously overlooks this reality that, today, U. S. and Saudi interests on a number of key issues not only diverge, but conflict.
By refusing to deal with GCC states on the basis of interest, rather than friendship, Obama actually helps some of them continue pursuing policies deeply damaging to U. S. interests.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on May 15, 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s Yemen Propaganda Masks Deep Fissures Among Its So-Called Allies

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, bereft of resources, fractured by tribal divisions and religious sectarianism, and plagued by civil war.
And yet this small country tucked into the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula is shattering old alliances and spurring new and surprising ones. As Saudi Arabia continues its air assault on Yemen’s Houthi insurgents, supporters and opponents of the Riyadh monarchy are reconfiguring the political landscape in a way that’s unlikely to vanish once the fighting is over.
The Saudi version of the war is that Shiite Iran is trying to take over Sunni Yemen using proxies – the Houthis – to threaten the Kingdom’s southern border and assert control over the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait into the Red Sea. The Iranians claim they have no control over the Houthis and no designs on the Strait. They maintain that the war is an internal matter for the Yemenis to resolve.
Source: Yemen’s War Is Redrawing the Middle East’s Fault Lines by Conn Hallinan – Antiwar.com
The Saudis have constructed what at first glance seems a formidable coalition consisting of the Arab League, the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Turkey, and the United States. Except that the ‘coalition’ isn’t as solid as it looks – in fact, it’s more interesting for whom it doesn’t include than whom it does.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on May 13, 2015.

Stocks Vertical, Economy Flat, Outlook Fraught

Just before noon stocks went vertical, but why not. The HFT machines were cranking for all time highs and, in fact, hit the ultimate jackpot. Namely, they pushed the NASDAQ above the vertiginous height (5132) it achieved back in March 2000 at the peak of the dotcom frenzy:

By contrast, a few hours earlier Caterpillar – -a true bell weather of the global economic predicament – -posted results which were most definitely horizontal.
Notwithstanding the usual ‘beat’ on its manipulated ex-items number, the results were miserable. Total industrial sales were down by three-quarters of a billion dollars or 6% from prior year and the internals were worse.
To wit, sales in the Asia-Pacific region were off by 13% and were down by 12% in its Europe, Latin American and the Middle East region. Within product categories the implications were even more ominous. While its resource/mining equipment shipments were down 9% over prior year and construction machinery sales were off by 7%, sales in its single largest segment – – oilfield, power and transportation – -were flat with Q1 2014. But that’s only because its dealers and customers are just commencing what will be a huge cutback in purchases owing to the global oil industry collapse.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by David Stockman ‘ April 23, 2015.

Washington’s Immense Incoherence: Close Air Support For Iran’s Clients At Tikrit, Death From The Sky In Aden

The U. S. is running around in circles in the Middle East, patching together coalitions here, acquiring strange bedfellows there, and in location after location trying to figure out who the enemy of its enemy actually is. The result is just what you’d expect: chaos further undermining whatever’s left of the nations whose frailty birthed the jihadism America is trying to squash.
And in a classic tale of unintended consequences, just about every time Washington has committed another blunder in the Middle East, Iran has stepped in to take advantage. Consider that country the rising power in the region and credit American clumsiness for the new Iranian ascendancy.
Today’s News – and Some History
The U. S. recently concluded air strikes in support of the Iraqi militias that Iran favors as they took back the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS). At the same time, Washington began supplying intelligence and aerial refueling on demand for a Saudi bombing campaign against the militias Iran favors in Yemen. Iran continues to advise and assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Washington would still like to depose and, as part of its Syrian strategy, continues to supply and direct Hezbollah in Lebanon, a group the U. S. considers a terror outfit.
Meanwhile, the U. S. has successfully negotiated the outlines of an agreement with Iran in which progress on severely constricting its nuclear program would be traded for an eventual lifting of sanctions and the granting of diplomatic recognition. This is sure to further bolster Tehran’s status as a regional power, while weakening long-time American allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 12, 2015.

All Praise To The Iranian Nuclear Framework – – It Finally Exposes The War Party’s Big Lie

The Iranian framework agreement is an astonishingly good deal, and has the potential to become a historic game-changer. As Robert Parry astutely observed, its about much more than sheaving the threat that Iran will get the bomb:
The April 2 framework agreement with Iran represents more than just a diplomatic deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It marks a crossroad that offers a possible path for the American Republic to regain its footing and turn away from endless war.
The saliency of that observation lies in the fact that there is virtually nothing in the substance of the deal for the War Party to attack. So what they are doing is desperately hurtling the Iranian axis-of-evil narrative at the agreement, claiming that the regime is so untrustworthy, diabolical and existentially dangerous that no product of mere diplomacy is valid. The Iranians are by axiom hell-bent on evil and no mere ‘scrap of paper’ will stop them.
But therein dwells the game-changing opportunity. To defeat the deal, the War Party will have to defend its three-decade long campaign of exaggerations, distortions and bellicose animosity toward the Iranian state. But that is impossible because the axis-of-evil narrative was never remotely true. Indeed, if the truth be told the War Party has never been required to defend its spurious propaganda thanks in large part to a lazy, gullible mainstream press that has been as negligent on the Iranian evil empire meme as they were on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
As will be demonstrated below, the evil Iran narrative rests on repetition and political bombast, not historical fact. Iran was turned into a pariah state not owing to its own deeds and actions, but because it served the domestic political needs of the War Party. That is, Bibi Netanyahu’s Israeli branch used it to win elections by mobilizing the right-wing and religious extremists against an external peril; and Washington’s neo-cons used it to rescue the Pentagon’s war machine and the military industrial complex after the cold war ended its reason for being.
So while the whole axis-of-evil narrative is bogus, the War Party is repairing to it in flat-out hysterical tones because it has nowhere else to go. Indeed, it did not take long for a shrill demagogue like GOP Senator Mark Kirk to play the Hitler card:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by David Stockman – April 6, 2015.

The Iran Framework – – -An Astonishingly Good Deal

When Aaron Stein was studying nuclear non-proliferation at Middlebury College’s Monterey graduate program, the students would sometimes construct what they thought would be the best possible nuclear inspection and monitoring regimes.
Years later, Stein is now a Middle East and nuclear proliferation expert with the Royal United Services Institute. And he says the Iran nuclear framework agreement, announced on Thursday, look an awful lot like those ideal hypotheticals he’d put together in grad school.
‘When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,’ he said. ‘We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.
‘If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal,’ Stein concluded.
The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.
Like many observers, I doubted in recent months that Iran and world powers would ever reach this stage; the setbacks and delays had simply been too many. Now, here we are, and the terms are far better than expected. There are a number of details still to be worked out, including one very big unresolved issue that could potentially sink everything. This is not over. But if this framework does indeed become a full nuclear deal in July, it would be a huge success and a great deal.
Iran gives up the bulk of its nuclear program in these terms The framework deal requires Iran to surrender some crucial components of its nuclear program, in part or even in whole. Here are the highlights:
Iran will give up about 14,000 of its 20,000 centrifuges. Iran will give up all but its most rudimentary, outdated centrifuges: its first-generation IR-1s, knockoffs of 1970s European models, are all it gets to keep. It will not be allowed to build or develop newer models. Iran will give up 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it will hold on to only 300 kilograms of its 10,000-kilogram stockpile in its current form. Iran will destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak, and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. It will ship out all spent nuclear fuel. Iran would simply not have much of its nuclear program left after all this.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 6, 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower – – The Pointless Hubris Of A Decadent Tyranny

I waited until April 2 because this is no joke. Behold the proposed new Kingdom Tower for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – at one full kilometer in height, about twice the size of New York’s new Freedom Tower. The Kingdom Tower comprises 252 floors of mixed market apartments, hotel rooms, and offices. It is an axiom that imperial societies build their greatest monuments just before they collapse, so consider this a portent for the oil empire of Saudi Arabia. There will always be an Arabia – well something will occupy that desolate region – but it may not be the private domain of the Saud clan much longer, especially as war breaks out across the Middle East and Persia.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on April 2, 2015.

Just Say ‘No’ to the AUMF!

Like everything this administration does, President Obama’s proposed draft for the authorization of military force (AUMF) is a purely political document, starting with its conception. After all, US forces are already in Iraq – 3,000 of them – ‘advising’ Iraqi and Kurdish troops. Now, suddenly, the White House sends this latest AUMF to Congress, which raises an issue: if the AUMF fails to pass, will US forces pick up and leave? To ask the question is to answer it: of course not.
The President made this clear enough in his message accompanying the draft AUMF text, which notes ‘US military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria,’ and goes on to aver that ‘existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions.’
Shorter Obama: I don’t need you guys, but I’m asking anyway.
But why bother? It’s all about politics. Yes, I know – shocking, isn’t it? I mean, there’s gambling going on in this casino!
The President is paving the way for his successor, who he hopes will be oneHillary Rodham Clinton, and whose foreign policy principles are a bit more openly hawkish than his own. Before she assumes office, he wants Congress’s signature on a blank check for whatever price she is willing to pay for continued US hegemony in the Middle East – while still paying lip service to the idea of a ‘limited’ war.
This is something the smarter breed of criminals do all the time: prepare an alibi in advance and spread the responsibility far and wide. It is also in line with the first principle of a libertarian theory of foreign affairs, what I call ‘libertarian realism’: the idea that foreign policy is merely domestic politics extended beyond our borders. Whatever overseas policies our fearless leaders in Washington choose to pursue are concerned exclusively with the task of perpetuating and expanding their own power and prestige on the home front. Obama’s AUMF is a classic example of this principle in action.
A close reading of the text underscores its brazenly political character, which is revealed in all its inglorious ambiguity in the very first phrase, defining the purpose of the legislation:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Justin Raimondo ‘ February 13, 2015.

Origins Of Today’s Middle East Cauldron: Machinations Of British & French Imperialists During WWI

By Sheldon Richmond at the Future Of Freedom Foundation
The wall-to-wall coverage of the disintegration of Iraq ought to carry this credit: ‘This bloodshed was made possible by the generosity of British and French imperialists.’
The stomach-wrenching violence in Iraq – not to mention the horrendous civil war in Syria, the chronic unrest in Palestine/Israel, and problems elsewhere in the Middle East – are direct consequences of the imperialist acts of the British and French governments at the end of World War I, the history-altering catastrophe that began 100 years ago.
The story has been told many times. The government of Great Britain wanted to disrupt the Ottoman Empire’s ability to help Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Great War. So the British dispatched personnel, most famously T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’), to persuade the Arab leaders to revolt against the Turks, in return for which they would gain their independence in (roughly) the Levant (what today is Israel/Palestine, Jordan, and Syria), Mesopotamia (Iraq), and the Arabian Peninsula. The Arab leadership agreed and proceeded to obstruct the Turks’ war efforts.
In the 1915-16 correspondence between the British High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, and Arab leader Hussein bin Ali, McMahon acknowledged Hussein’s demand for independence in most of the Levant (Palestine included) and the Arabian peninsula:
Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca [Hussein].

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 27, 2014.

The U.S. Veteran Fighting ISIS in Syria is Obviously a Propaganda Shill

Last month I reported on a member of a Dutch biker gang who went to the Middle East to fight against ISIS. Truth be told, there are numerous foreign volunteers who are heading towards Iraq and Syria from all over the world, and the U. S. is no exception. Recently, Radio Free Europe interviewed a United States Army veteran Jordan Matson, who left his life in Wisconsin to help the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.
‘For over a year, people were being slaughtered by ISIS,’ the 28-year-old Sturtevant, Wisconsin, native told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq (RFI), using another acronym for IS.
‘Anyone who didn’t conform to their way of life could either convert, be killed, or get driven off their land. So when Mosul fell and IS drove all the Christians and minorities from the town or killed them, I thought that enough was enough and I decided to come here to fight,’ Matson said via Skype.
For two months, Matson has fought in northeastern Syria alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). He said he decided to join the Kurdish militia after searching the Internet for a way to fight IS.
‘I found that the YPG was the only force in the area that would let Christians and Muslims live in peace together so I decided to join them,’ he said.
Personally, I think it’s admirable that someone would volunteer their time and skills to put down those vile thugs. Many of us have seen the footage of their atrocities and read the grisly news reports of their exploits. No sane person would doubt that ISIS is a scourge against Christians and Muslims alike, and that they must be stopped if we want even any kind of peace for the Middle East.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on November 5th, 2014.