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December 10, 2019

Please Support Moon of Alabama

(This post is currently pinned to the top. Scroll down for fresh content.)

Dear reader, your support is essential to keep this site going.

Moon of Alabama provides news and analysis which other media cover late or not at all. It offers original thought and no-nonsense writing on a nearly daily basis. This site is free of charge and of distracting advertisements. The comments are open and lively. It is the effort of a single person.

While your host lives in slightly better circumstances than Spitzweg's Poor Poet, he is neither rich nor does he indulge in luxuries.

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Your continued interest and your feed back keep me going. But I also need to eat and pay rent. There is no other income I can rely on. Thus every donation to this Poor Poet, be it $5, $50 or $500, is welcome and needed. A recurring contribution or sponsorship would be great.

Transaction costs are smallest when you send cash or a check. You can also use a simple bank-wire transfer. Send email to MoonofA @ aol.com for the necessary details. (They as the same as before.) You can use a credit card or other means when you donate through the PayPal button below.

Thanks you very much!

Bernhard aka b.

Posted by b at 15:16 UTC | Comments (32)

Some Truth About The War On Afghanistan

The Washington Post liberated some 2,000 pages of more than 400 interview transcripts and summaries from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The interviews were with officials and soldiers involved in the war on Afghanistan.

Reading through the three part series on the papers is depressing. The opinions and narrations of the insiders are, as could be expected, devastating:

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

Since 2001 the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on Afghanistan. Most of the money has flown back to 'contractors' in the United States. A significant part, whatever bribes and corruption would generate, was invested by Afghan officials in real estate in Dubai.

In public, U.S. officials insisted they had no tolerance for graft. But in the Lessons Learned interviews, they admitted the U.S. government looked the other way while Afghan power brokers — allies of Washington — plundered with impunity.

Christopher Kolenda, an Army colonel who deployed to Afghanistan several times and advised three U.S. generals in charge of the war, said that the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai had “self-organized into a kleptocracy” by 2006 — and that U.S. officials failed to recognize the lethal threat it posed to their strategy.

Little of the money reached the common people of Afghanistan. Where it did it was wasted on projects that Afghanistan will never be able to sustain. The corruption is one reason why many Afghans tolerate or even favor Taliban rule. (The areas the map shows as 'contested' are in fact Taliban ruled.)


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The war was and is completely unnecessary to begin with:

Cont. reading: Some Truth About The War On Afghanistan

Posted by b at 15:14 UTC | Comments (4)

December 09, 2019

The U.S. Campaign To Weaken Iran's 'Axis Of Resistance' Is Failing

When Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahoo was indicted for several crimes we predicted that he would become more dangerous:

Netanyahoo will fight tooth and nail to gain and keep immunity. He will try to delegitimize the judicative and he will use any available trick to stay in office.

That makes him even more dangerous than he usually is.

He might even decide to do something, like starting a big war, to prevent his removal from power.

Lebanon, Syria and Iran must watch out.

Now the former MI6 agent and diplomat Alastair Crooke detects a new Israeli attempt to instigate a war on Iran:

“This is a historic opportunity”, whispered one of Netanyahu’s insiders into Ben Caspit (a leading Israeli journalist)’s ear this week: ..
...
What sort of history might that be? Why six months? Well, Caspit points up: “Netanyahu’s people, headed by minister Yuval Steinitz clearly state that a widespread war is likely to erupt in the next six months between Iran and its adversaries in the region, including Israel”. And the new Defence Minister, Bennett, threatens Iran on an almost daily basis.

“Perhaps Netanyahu simply needs a war with Iran in order to survive politically,” one of the Blue and White leaders told Caspit: “That is scary and dangerous …” .

There nothing new with that one might say. Netanyahoo has for years plotted to instigate a U.S. war on Iran. But there was so far no reason for the U.S. to wage one. War needs a narrative, a story than can be sold to the people who will have to pay for it. Crooke sees a possible one in the recent riots in Iran and elsewhere:

Well, here it is: “For a long time it looked like the spread of Iranian influence across the Middle East was unstoppable. Now, the entire Iran-hegemony enterprise is at risk. Protests have been going on in Iraq and Lebanon for weeks, bringing their economies to a near standstill, and forcing their Iran-approved prime ministers to step down. There’s no end in sight to the protests …”.

And hence, the Israeli push – led by the newly-appointed Defence Minister, Bennet, that now – precisely – is the moment for the US to act against Iran. This is the narrative for war.

So the idea is that the current turmoils in the 'axis of resistance' countries - Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran - has weakened Iran so much that it can be attacked.

But a look at each of those countries shows that it is doubtful that the narrative is true.

Cont. reading: The U.S. Campaign To Weaken Iran's 'Axis Of Resistance' Is Failing

Posted by b at 18:26 UTC | Comments (34)

December 08, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-72

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
Episode 368 – The Douma Hoax: Anatomy of a False Flag - Corbett Report

Tareq Haddad @Tareq_Haddad - 11:25 UTC · Dec 7, 2019
Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

Related:
What really happened in Iran? - Asia Times

Related:
Who holds the Initiative, and who has the Power to mobilise the Street in Iraq? - Elijah Magnier

Related:
Fear and Loathing? The 2020 Election is a Repeat of 1972 - The Sports Geek
The Russians Are Coming! - Daniel Larison, TAC

Related:
How Aramco’s Huge I.P.O. Fell Short of Saudi Prince’s Wish - NYT
American Soldiers Are Not Bodyguards for Saudi Royals - Doug Bandow, TAC
Saudi Arabia - a family holding company, not a friend. - Pat Lang

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-72

Posted by b at 13:35 UTC | Comments (150)

December 06, 2019

Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused

When the Saudi King Salman promoted his son Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) to Defense Minister and then Crown Prince the expectations were high. But three of the major projects Muhammad launched since then soon ran into trouble. Now initiatives are under way to limit the damage he caused. The end of the five year old Saudi war on Yemen is coming into sight. The public offering of the Saudi state owned ARAMCO oil company is finally happening but with a much lower valuation than originally planned. The thirty month spat with Qatar is under repair. 

On August 17 2019 a Yemeni drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil installations proved that the Saudis had lost the war. Moon of Alabama's headline empasized the effect that it would have:

Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen

Today's attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range. [...]
The attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.

A month later another large scale attack disabled half of the Saudi oil output.

The Saudis have since procured additional U.S. military units to provide more air defenses around their oil installations. But U.S. air defenses are not effective against the kind of attacks the Yemenis launched. The Saudis had no choice but to sue for peace.

For several months there have been talks in Oman between Saudi official and Houthi delegations. An preliminary agreement was found but no official announcements were made. That changed today when Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir made a comment that for the first time recognized the Houthi as a legitimate Yemeni entity:

Speaking on the situation in Yemen, al-Jubeir said that there is a possibility of reaching a truce in the country, which could be followed by a settlement.

“Yemen is of particular importance to us, and Iran’s intervention there is devastating. The only solution in Yemen is political, and the Houthis are the ones who started the war, not us.”

“All Yemenis, including the Houthis, have a role in the future of Yemen,” he added.

Today the Saudis also released some 200 prisoners who belonged to the Houthi. They were flown to Yemen's capital Sanaa. The preliminary agreement foresees the forming of a common government by the Houthi and the Saudi controlled former president Hadi.

This is not yet the end of the war. It will take quite some time before a new Yemeni government will evolve as the Saudis still have some unrealistic demands:

Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused

Posted by b at 18:59 UTC | Comments (118)

December 05, 2019

The Delusions Of The Impeachment Witnesses Point To A Larger Problem

During yesterday's impeachment hearing at the House House Judiciary Committee one of the Democrats' witnesses made some rather crazy statements. Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor, first proved to have bought into neo-conservative delusions about the U.S. role in the world:

America is not just 'the last best hope,' as Mr. Jefferies said, but it's also the shining city on a hill. We can't be the shining city on a hill and promote democracy around the world if we're not promoting it here at home.

As people in Bolivia and elsewhere can attest the United States does not promote democracy. It promotes rightwing regimes and rogue capitalism. The U.S. is itself not a democracy but a functional oligarchy as a major Harvard study found:

Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

But worse than Karlan's pseudo-patriotic propaganda claptrap were her remarks on the Ukraine and Russia:

This is not just about our national interests to protect elections or make sure Ukraine stays strong and fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here, but it's in our national interest to promote democracy worldwide.

That was not an joke. From the video it certainly seems that the woman believes that nonsense.


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For one the Ukraine is not fighting "the Russians". The Kiev government is fighting against east-Ukrainians who disagree with the Nazi controlled regime which the U.S. installed after it instigated the unconstitutional Maidan coup. Russia supplies the east-Ukrainians and there were a few Russian volunteers fighting on their side but no Russian military units entered the Ukraine.

But aside from that how can anyone truly believe that the Ukraine "fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here"?

Is Russia on the verge of invading the United States? Where? How? And most importantly: What for?

How would that be in Russia's interest?

One must be seriously disturbed to believe such nonsense. How can it be that Karlan is teaching at an academic level when she has such delusions?

And how is it in U.S. interest to give the Ukraine U.S. taxpayer money to buy U.S. weapons? The sole motive behind that idea was greed and corruption, not national interest:

[U.S. special envoy to Ukraine] Volker started his job at the State Department in 2017 in an unusual part-time arrangement that allowed him to continue consulting at BGR, a powerful lobbying firm that represents Ukraine and the U.S.-based defense firm Raytheon. During his tenure, Volker advocated for the United States to send Raytheon-manufactured antitank Javelin missiles to Ukraine — a decision that made Raytheon millions of dollars.

The missiles are useless in the conflict. They are kept near the western border of Ukraine under U.S. control. The U.S. fears that Russia would hit back elsewhere should the Javelin reach the frontline in the east and get used against the east-Ukrainians. That Trump shortly held back on some of the money that would have allowed the Ukrainians to buy more of those missiles thus surely made no difference.

To claim that it hurt U.S. national interests is nonsense.

It is really no wonder that U.S. foreign policy continuously produces chaos when its practitioners get taught by people like Karlan. In the Middle East as well as elsewhere Russian foreign policy runs circles around U.S. attempts to control the outcome. One reason it can do that is the serious lack of knowledge and realism in U.S. foreign policy thinking. It is itself the outcome of an educational crisis. U.S. 'political science' studies implement a mindset that is unable to objectively recognize the facts and fails to respond to them with realistic concepts.

The Democrats are doing themselves no favor by producing delusional and partisan witnesses who repeat Reaganesque claptrap. They only prove that the whole affair is just an unserious show trial.

In the meantime Trump is eliminating food stamps for some 700,000 recipients and the Democrats are doing nothing about it. Their majority in the House could have used the time it spent on the impeachment circus to prevent that and other obscenities.

Do the Democrats really believe that their voters will not notice this?

Posted by b at 15:40 UTC | Comments (215)

December 04, 2019

The Times' Middle East Columnist Fails On Basic Facts

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present the Middle East columnist of the 'paper of record', Tom Friedman:

    Iran Is Crushing Freedom One Country at a Time


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Having covered the Middle East my entire adult life, I’m seeing some trends emerging there that I’ve never seen before.
...
The Iranian ayatollahs even had to largely shut down their own internet to prevent the domestic rebellion from spreading. Ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002, Iran has never wanted to see a stable, multisectarian, secular democracy emerge in Baghdad, because then Iranian Shiites would be asking why Iraqi Shiites get to live freely and they don’t.

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For the record. The invasion of Iraq began on March 19 2003, not in 2002. Friedman should know that. He and his paper were major pro-war propagandists in the run up to it.

During the first three years of the war Friedman went on to predict 14 times that 'success' in Iraq would come within the "next six months", a period now known as a Friedman unit.

If the New York Times and its main Middle East columnist can not even get that date right what else do they get wrong?

A cursory read of Friedman's anti-Iranian column suggests that the answer is "everything".

 

Posted by b at 13:34 UTC | Comments (111)

December 03, 2019

Cleanup On Aisle 5

ABC News @ABC - 14:57 UTC - 3 Dec 2019

Asked if the U.S. supports Iranian protesters, Pres. Trump says, "I don't want to comment on that, but the answer's no. But I don't want to comment on that." abcn.ws/2K0BLjq

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CLEANUP ON AISLE 5! CLEANUP ON AISLE 5!
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Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 15:33 UTC - 3 Dec 2019

The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration, and always will!

Posted by b at 16:05 UTC | Comments (112)

December 02, 2019

As The OPCW Is Accused Of False Reporting U.S. Propaganda Jumps To Its Help

An international organization published two false reports and got caught in the act. But as the false reports are in the U.S. interests a U.S. sponsored propaganda organization is send out to muddle the issue. As that effort comes under fire the New York Times jumps in to give the cover-up effort some extra help.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) manufactured a pretext for war by suppressing its own scientists' research:

OPCW emails and documents were leaked and whistleblowers came forward to speak with journalists and international lawyers. Veteran journalist Jonathan Steele, who has spoken with the whistleblowers, wrote an excellent piece on the issues. In the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens picked up the issue and moved it forward.

Under U.S. pressure the OPCW management modified or suppressed the findings of its own scientists to make it look as if the Syrian government had been responsible for the alleged chemical incident in April 2018 in Douma.

The public attention to the OPCW's fakery lead to the questioning of other assertions the OPCW had previously made. With the OPCW under fire someone had to come to its help.

To save the propaganda value of the OPCW reports the U.S. financed Bellingcat propaganda organization jumped in to save the OPCW's bacon. Bellingcat founder "suck my balls" Elliot Higgins claimed that the OPCW reports satisfied the concerns the OPCW scientist had voiced.

That assertion is now further propagated by a New York Times piece which, under the pretense of reporting about open source analysis, boosts Bellingcat and its defense of the OPCW:

Cont. reading: As The OPCW Is Accused Of False Reporting U.S. Propaganda Jumps To Its Help

Posted by b at 16:43 UTC | Comments (94)

December 01, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-71

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
John Barnett on Why He Won’t Fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Corporate Crime Reporter
NTSB recommends Boeing redesign and retrofit engine casing on thousands of 737s - Seattle Times
Problems Pile Up for Boeing as 737 Max Delays Continue - New York Times

>Meanwhile, Congress, following a hearing last month where it grilled Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, is planning to hold a hearing next month at which it expects F.A.A. officials to testify about whether there are other problems with the Max that Boeing hasn’t yet addressed.<

There are at least three issues where the 737 MAX does not conform to current or even older regulation:
- A turbine disk rupture could cut the unprotected rudder cables.
- The manual trim can not be moved at higher speeds to correct stabilizer position problems.
- The cockpit misses an integrated crew alert system (EICAS) and can confuse the pilots with a multitude of dubious alarms.

Related:
House Democrat walks back remark favoring censure over impeachment - The Hill
House Intelligence Committee to review impeachment investigation report Monday - The Hill
Democrats have a better choice than impeachment - CNN

Related:
U.S. Dems’ dangerous demagoguing on Russia - Helena Cobban - Just World News

Related:
PETER HITCHENS: My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal - Mail on Sunday

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-71

Posted by b at 15:16 UTC | Comments (227)