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November 25, 2020

Israel Is (Again) Pushing For War On Iran

There is a campaign to push U.S. president Donald Trump into attacking Iran before he leaves his office. It is likely that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahoo, with the help of Secretary of State Mike Pompous, is the brain behind it.

The campaign started on November 16 with a New York Times piece which claimed that Trump had asked for options to bomb Iran:

President Trump asked senior advisers in an Oval Office meeting on Thursday whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. The meeting occurred a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in the country’s stockpile of nuclear material, four current and former U.S. officials said on Monday.

A range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike. The advisers — including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — warned that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

It is unlikely that Trump will want to ruin his legacy by launching another war in the Middle East. He will want to run again for president in 2024. 'America first', avoiding wars that are of no value for the U.S., was and is one of his major selling points.

There is precedence for such an Israeli campaign. Back in 2008 Netanyahoo had also tried to push the outgoing Bush administration towards a war on Iran:

During the last days of the Bush administration in 2008, Israeli officials, concerned that the incoming Obama administration would seek to block it from striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, sought bunker-busting bombs, bombers and intelligence assistance from the United States for an Israeli-led strike.

Vice President Dick Cheney later wrote in his memoir that he supported the idea. President George W. Bush did not, ...

While Israel has the capabilities to attack Iran it would never dare to do so without explicit U.S. backing.

Mike Pompous, the Cheney in the current attempt to drag the U.S. along, also wants to run for president - if not in 2024 then later. He is 56 years old and can wait a few more years. He is currently trying to catch the Evangelical vote and Zionist campaign support by pleasing Israel as much as possible:

Cont. reading: Israel Is (Again) Pushing For War On Iran

Posted by b at 18:08 UTC | Comments (54)

November 24, 2020

Another Look At Joe Biden's Foreign Policy Team

The choices the incoming president Joe Biden has made so far are not great at all. The people he so far selected are staunch interventionists who will want to continue the wars they have started during their previous time in office.

Tony Blinken will become Secretary of State. (It was probably thought to be too hard to get Senate confirmation for the similar bad Susan Rice.) In 2013 the Washington Post described his high flying pedigree:

Blinken is deputy national security adviser to President Obama, who has also invoked the Holocaust as his administration wrestles, often painfully, with how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. One of the government’s key players in drafting Syria policy, the 51-year-old Blinken has Clinton administration credentials and deep ties to Vice President Biden and the foreign policy and national security establishment in Washington. He has drawn attention in Situation Room photos, including the iconic one during the May 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound, for his stylishly wavy salt-and-pepper hair. But what sets him apart from the other intellectual powerhouses in the inner sanctum is a life story that reads like a Jewish high-society screenplay that the onetime aspiring film producer may have once dreamed of making. There’s his father, a giant in venture capital; his mother, the arts patron; and his stepfather, who survived the Holocaust to become of one of the most influential lawyers on the global stage. It is a bildungsroman for young Blinken — playing in a Parisian jazz band, debating politics with statesmen — with a supporting cast of characters that includes, among others, Leonard Bernstein, John Lennon, Mark Rothko, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Abel Ferrara and Christo.

The man is a war mongering psycho:

Blinken surprised some in the Situation Room by breaking with Biden to support military action in Libya, administration officials said, and he advocated for American action in Syria after Obama’s reelection. These sources said that Blinken was less enthusiastic than Biden about Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for a strike in Syria, but is now — perhaps out of necessity — onboard and a backer of diplomatic negotiations with Russia. While less of an ideologue than Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (a job for which he was considered), he not surprisingly shares her belief that global powers such as the United States have a “responsibility to protect” against atrocities.

He has since shown no remorse about those foreign policy failures:

Cont. reading: Another Look At Joe Biden's Foreign Policy Team

Posted by b at 16:32 UTC | Comments (162)

November 23, 2020

Pandemic Freedom

On Thursday the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving. That will cause an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and in the number of deaths.

The states could have intervened but did little to prevent this from happening. The politicians are reluctant to act because the U.S. public at large follows an ideology that is incompatible with a pandemic.

The CDC warns of Thanksgiving celebrations:

As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.

Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.

In my view that warning is not strong enough.

There should be more draconian measures and restrictions of freedom to prevent higher Covid-19 casualties.

In October Canada already celebrated its version of Thanksgiving. The result was a notable acceleration of the pandemic.


Source: George Rutherford, UCSF - bigger

More can be done and more should be done to prevent this from happening in the United States.

But there are people who argue even against stronger warnings:

Cont. reading: Pandemic Freedom

Posted by b at 16:57 UTC | Comments (317)

November 22, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-92

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.” <

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-92

Posted by b at 14:37 UTC | Comments (132)

November 20, 2020

How 'Western' Media Select Their Foreign Correspondents

Did you ever wonder why 'western' mainstream media get stories about Russia and other foreign countries so wrong?

It is simple. They hire the most brainwashed, biased and cynical writers they can get for the job. Those who are corrupt enough to tell any lie required to support the world view of their editors and media owners.

They are quite upfront about it.

Here is evidence in form of a New York Times job description for a foreign correspondent position in Moscow:

Russia Correspondent

Job Description

Vladimir Putin’s Russia remains one of the biggest stories in the world.

It sends out hit squads armed with nerve agents against its enemies, most recently the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. It has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony in the West to tarnish its democratic systems, while promoting its faux version of democracy. It has deployed private military contractors around the globe to secretly spread its influence. At home, its hospitals are filling up fast with Covid patients as its president hides out in his villa.

If that sounds like a place you want to cover, then we have good news: We will have an opening for a new correspondent as Andy Higgins takes over as our next Eastern Europe Bureau Chief early next year.


bigger

To be allowed to write for the Times one must see the Russian Federation as a country that is ruled by just one man.

One must be a fervent believer in MI6 produced Novichok hogwash. One must also believe in Russiagate and in the multiple idiocies it produced even after all of them have been debunked.

One must know that vote counts in Russia are always wrong while U.S. vote counting is the most reliable ever. Russian private military contractors (which one must know to be evil men) are 'secretly deployed' to wherever the editors claim them to be. Russia's hospitals are of course always much worse than ours.

Even when it is easy to check that Vladimir Putin (the most evil man ever) is at work in the Kremlin the job will require one to claim that he is hiding in a villa.

Most people writing for the Times will actually not believe the above nonsense. But the description is not for a position that requires one to weigh and report the facts. It is for a job that requires one to lie. That the Times lists all the recent nonsense about Russia right at the top of the job description makes it clear that only people who support those past lies will be considered adequate to tell future lies about Russia.

No honest unbiased person will want such a job. But as it comes with social prestige, a good paycheck and a probably nice flat in Moscow the New York Times will surely find a number of people who are willing to sell their souls to take it.

Interestingly the job advertisement does not list Russian language capabilities as a requirement. It only says that 'Fluency in Russian is preferred'. 

'Western' mainstream media are filled with such biased, cynical and self-censoring correspondents who have little if any knowledge of the country they are reporting from. It is therefore not astonishing that 'western' populations as well as their politicians have often no knowledge of what is really happening in the world.

 

h/t Bryan MacDonald

Posted by b at 19:06 UTC | Comments (170)

November 19, 2020

The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Recent headlines on Afghanistan:

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third one into intensifying the war.

Consider:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!
4:05 PM · Aug 21, 2012
Barack Obama @BarackObama
VP Biden on Afghanistan: "We are leaving in 2014. Period."
4:05am · 12 Oct 2012
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!
9:59 PM · Jan 14, 2013
Barack Obama @BarackObama
President Obama: "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
3:58am · 13 Feb 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.
8:10 PM · Mar 1, 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!
1:28 AM · Oct 8, 2020

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Cont. reading: The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Posted by b at 18:55 UTC | Comments (126)

November 18, 2020

How Not To Challenge China

The headline of a recent Bloomberg column by one Tyler Cowen is:

Covid Is Increasing America’s Lead Over China.

Its remarkable only for its fervent nationalistic delusion.

This paragraph stands out:

There is one other factor that people are loathe to discuss (with one exception). Yes, the U.S. has botched its response to Covid-19. At the same time, its experience shows that America as a nation can in fact tolerate casualties, too many in fact. It had long been standard Chinese doctrine that Americans are “soft” and unwilling to take on much risk. If you were a Chinese war game planner, might you now reconsider that assumption?

This comes at the same day as a similar delusional State Department policy planning paper sees the light.

The Elements of the China Challenge (pdf)

Axios calls it a "Kennan-style paper". In 1946 George Kennan, then Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States to the USSR, wrote his 'Long Telegram' that defined U.S. Cold War policy towards the Soviet Union for the next decades:

Kennan described dealing with Soviet Communism as "undoubtedly greatest task our diplomacy has ever faced and probably greatest it will ever have to face". In the first two sections, he posited concepts that became the foundation of American Cold War policy:
  • The Soviets perceived themselves at perpetual war with capitalism;
  • The Soviets viewed left-wing, but non-communist, groups in other countries as an even worse enemy of itself than the capitalist ones;
  • The Soviets would use controllable Marxists in the capitalist world as allies;
  • Soviet aggression was fundamentally not aligned with the views of the Russian people or with economic reality, but rooted in historic Russian nationalism and neurosis;
  • The Soviet government's structure inhibited objective or accurate pictures of internal and external reality.

Kennan later said that his paper was misunderstood and that the hostile containment policies that were based on it were wrong and self defeating.

But the China paper which the State Department published is not comparable to the 'Long Telegram'. It is a propaganda piece that reflects the naive views of the outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompous.

Pompous' premise is that the Chinese people hate the Communist Party of China that runs the country and that China is not a democracy. But that is not what the people of China believe:

Cont. reading: How Not To Challenge China

Posted by b at 19:30 UTC | Comments (154)

Open Thread 2020-91

News & views ...

Posted by b at 18:12 UTC | Comments (151)

November 17, 2020

Joe Biden's Foreign Policy Team

As this blog is often concerned with U.S. foreign policy and the damage it causes, a look at Biden's foreign policy team seems adequate.

In short - it is awful.

Susan Rice of Benghazi fame, National Security Advisor under Obama, is said to become Secretary of State.

Michele Flournoy, co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), will become Secretary of Defense. Flournoy is a hawk. CNAS is financed by donations from the who-is-who of the military industrial complex. She also co-founded WestExec Advisors, a consultancy that pulls strings to help companies to win Pentagon contracts.

Also at WestExec Advisors was Tony Blinken who is set to become the National Security Advisor. He was National Security Advisor for then Vice President Biden, Deputy National Security Advisor for Obama and Deputy Secretary of State.

All three, together with Joe Biden, promoted the 2003 war on Iraq and supported the wars the Obama administration launched or continued against some seven countries.

They will continue to wage those wars and will probably add a few new ones.

Biden has said that he will re-instate the nuclear agreement with Iran but with 'amendments'. A realistic analysis shows that Iran is likely to reject any modification of the original deal:

The Biden administration will face the harsh reality that the amendments to the JCPOA that it needs to make its return to the agreement politically viable are unacceptable to Iran. The new US administration will more than likely find itself in a situation in which sanctions, including those on oil exports, must be maintained in an effort to pressure Iran to yield to US demands to modify the JCPOA.

There will be much pressure from the liberal hawks to finish the war they had launched against Syria by again intensifying it. Trump had ended the CIA's Jihadi supply program. The Biden team may well reintroduce such a scheme.

Susan Rice has criticized Trump's Doha deal with the Taliban. Under a Biden administration U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan are therefore likely to again increase.

One possible change may come in the U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen. The Democrats dislike Mohammad bin Salman and may try to use the Yemen issue to push him out of his Crown Prince position.

Biden and his team have supported the coup attempt in Venezuela. They only criticized it for not being done right and will probably come up with their own bloody 'solution'.

After four years of Russiagate nonsense, which Susan Rice had helped to launch, it is impossible to again 'reset' the relations with Russia. Biden could immediately agree to renew the New START treaty which limits strategic nuclear weapons but it is more likely that he will want to add, like with Iran's nuclear deal, certain 'amendments' which will be hard to negotiate. Under Biden the Ukraine may be pushed into another war against its eastern citizens. Belarus will remain on the 'regime change' target list.

Asia is the place where Biden's policies may be less confrontational than Trump's:

China would heave a big sigh of relief if Biden picks Rice as his secretary of state. Beijing knows her well, as she had a hands-on role in remoulding the relationship from engagement to selective competition, which could well be the post-Trump China policies.

For the Indian audience, which is obsessive about Biden’s China policy, I would recommend the following YouTube on Rice’s oral history where she narrates her experience as NSA on how the US and China could effectively coordinate despite their strategic rivalry and how China actually helped America battle Ebola.

Interestingly, the recording was made in April this year amidst the “Wuhan virus” pandemic in the US and Trump’s trade and tech war with China. Simply put, Rice highlighted a productive relationship with Beijing while probably sharing the more Sino-skeptic sentiment of many of America’s foreign policy experts and lawmakers.

All together the Biden/Harris regime will be a continuation of the Obama regime. It's foreign policies will have awful consequences for a lot of people on this planet.

Domestically Biden/Harris will revive all the bad feelings that led to the election of Donald Trump. The demographics of the election show no sign of a permanent majority for Democrats.

It is therefore highly probable that Trump, or a more competent and thereby more dangerous populist republican, will again win in 2024.

Posted by b at 18:16 UTC | Comments (264)

November 16, 2020

The Great Revenge - How Tony Fauci F*cked Donald Trump

In January 2017 the CIA claimed that Russia had kompromat on Trump. Trump shot back at the CIA. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then warned the incoming president:

"You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you," Schumer, a New York Democrat, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this."

As the years after the warning passed by it proved to have been valid. The CIA 'whistle blowers' put a great effort into sabotaging Trump's presidency. But they were largely unsuccessful.

The CIA failed to sabotaged Trump's reelection. It was the health community, including parts of Trump's administration, which did that.

Trump had especially angered Dr. Fauci, the well known infectious-disease expert and member of the government's coronavirus taskforce. Fauci's advise had been ignored and efforts were made to hold him back from making public pronouncements.

On November 1, two days before the election, Fauci gave a widely distributed interview to the Washington Post:

President Trump’s repeated assertions the United States is “rounding the turn” on the novel coronavirus have increasingly alarmed the government's top health experts, who say the country is heading into a long and potentially deadly winter with an unprepared government unwilling to make tough choices.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, said in a wide-ranging interview late Friday. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Fauci's interview was not the first intervention he made. In October two leading vaccine companies were ready to announce the success of their vaccine trials. But with at least the knowledge of Fauci and the Federal Drug Administration both companies deviated from their clinical protocols to intentionally move their success announcement to a date after the election.

During the summer Trump had been hopeful that a vaccine against the Covid-19 disease could be announced before the election. It would have been proof that his strategy to (not) fight the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic had at least one success. The announcement of a vaccine was part of President Trump's planned 'October surprises' to win the election.

Cont. reading: The Great Revenge - How Tony Fauci F*cked Donald Trump

Posted by b at 19:54 UTC | Comments (173)