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October 22, 2021

How Biden's Too-Clever-By-Half Iran Strategy Failed

Last week I remarked on the Iran talks:

The diplomatic talks with Iran will fail only if the Biden administration fails to return to the nuclear deal and does not lift the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration. The sole problem is that Biden wants more concessions from Iran than it had given under the JCPOA agreement.

We now learn that Biden not only wants more concessions from Iran but he also wants to be able to reimpose sanctions even when concessions are given.

Biden wants his cake and eat it too.

Trita Parsi, who has excellent sources on the nuclear deal (JCPOA) issues, writes for Responsible Statecraft:

A crucial turning point in the negotiations occurred earlier in May of this year. The Iranians had insisted on legally binding commitments that the United States would respect its signature and not re-quit the JCPOA, were it to be revived. Though the U.S. team found the Iranian demand understandable, it insisted it could not bind the hands of the next administration, nor guarantee that a future administration hostile to the JCPOA wouldn’t again abandon it.

But according to both Western and Iranian diplomats involved in the negotiations, the Iranians then lowered their demand and requested a commitment that Biden would simply commit to staying within the deal for the rest of his own term, granted that Iran also would remain in compliance. According to these sources, the U.S. negotiation team took the matter back to Washington but to the surprise of Tehran and others, the White House was not ready to make such a commitment, citing legal obstacles. Instead, it offered changes to the negotiating text that fell short of a legal commitment. 

This is something Iran can not agree to. The U.S. would rejoin the nuclear deal and lift some sanctions. Iran would in parallel dismantle the progress in nuclear developments it had made over the last three years and thereby lose its leverage. Biden would then reimpose the sanctions he had lifted to demand a lengthening of the restrictions on Iran's program and more on other issues like Iran's missile program and its support for Syria, Hizbullah and Yemen. This is of course not acceptable and the reason why Iran is currently slow-walking its return to the talks:

Cont. reading: How Biden's Too-Clever-By-Half Iran Strategy Failed

Posted by b at 17:05 UTC | Comments (0)

Putin's Musings On 'Wokeness'

While I mused about 'wokeness' yesterday a smarter and more important man than me discussed it in a wider context. Russia's president Vladimir Putin spoke at the yearly Valdai Discussion Club meeting where he drew parallels between the Bolshevik revolution and what is currently happening in the 'west':

The advocates of so-called ‘social progress’ believe they are introducing humanity to some kind of a new and better consciousness. Godspeed, hoist the flags as we say, go right ahead. The only thing that I want to say now is that their prescriptions are not new at all. It may come as a surprise to some people, but Russia has been there already. After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx and Engels, also said that they would change existing ways and customs and not just political and economic ones, but the very notion of human morality and the foundations of a healthy society. The destruction of age-old values, religion and relations between people, up to and including the total rejection of family (we had that, too), encouragement to inform on loved ones – all this was proclaimed progress and, by the way, was widely supported around the world back then and was quite fashionable, same as today. By the way, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of opinions other than theirs.

This, I believe, should call to mind some of what we are witnessing now. Looking at what is happening in a number of Western countries, we are amazed to see the domestic practices, which we, fortunately, have left, I hope, in the distant past. The fight for equality and against discrimination has turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity, when the works of the great authors of the past – such as Shakespeare – are no longer taught at schools or universities, because their ideas are believed to be backward. The classics are declared backward and ignorant of the importance of gender or race. In Hollywood memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what colour or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Countering acts of racism is a necessary and noble cause, but the new ‘cancel culture’ has turned it into ‘reverse discrimination’ that is, reverse racism. The obsessive emphasis on race is further dividing people, when the real fighters for civil rights dreamed precisely about erasing differences and refusing to divide people by skin colour. I specifically asked my colleagues to find the following quote from Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character.” This is the true value. However, things are turning out differently there. By the way, the absolute majority of Russian people do not think that the colour of a person's skin or their gender is an important matter. Each of us is a human being. This is what matters.

In a number of Western countries, the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria. Look, beware of going where the Bolsheviks once planned to go – not only communalising chickens, but also communalising women. One more step and you will be there.

Zealots of these new approaches even go so far as to want to abolish these concepts altogether. Anyone who dares mention that men and women actually exist, which is a biological fact, risk being ostracised. “Parent number one” and “parent number two,” “'birthing parent” instead of “mother,” and “human milk” replacing “breastmilk” because it might upset the people who are unsure about their own gender. I repeat, this is nothing new; in the 1920s, the so-called Soviet Kulturtraegers also invented some newspeak believing they were creating a new consciousness and changing values that way. And, as I have already said, they made such a mess it still makes one shudder at times.

Not to mention some truly monstrous things when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. That is, the teachers actually impose on them a choice we all supposedly have. They do so while shutting the parents out of the process and forcing the child to make decisions that can upend their entire life. They do not even bother to consult with child psychologists – is a child at this age even capable of making a decision of this kind? Calling a spade a spade, this verges on a crime against humanity, and it is being done in the name and under the banner of progress.

Well, if someone likes this, let them do it. I have already mentioned that, in shaping our approaches, we will be guided by a healthy conservatism. ...

Putin's speech was much longer and touched on many other issue. I recommend to read it in full.

Posted by b at 15:20 UTC | Comments (15)

October 21, 2021

Some Musings On 'Wokeness'

For some time I have been trying to get my head around 'wokeness'. It seems to be a typically 'liberal' U.S. phenomenon that has not (yet) been picked up elsewhere. I find it to be an illiberal doctrine that attempts to prescribe how one has to think and talk about certain issues.

What the 'issues of the day' are one has to be 'woke' about seems to change every few weeks. Before the last U.S. election it was 'bend your knee' and 'defund the police' which predictably ended with higher police budgets as soon as the liberals had won the elections.

Currently some U.S. media are enraged about Dave Chappelle, a standup comedian who made jokes about people during a Netflix special. I had guessed that is something one should expect from a comedian. But some of Chappelle jokes were about transgender people which is somehow supposed to be bad. (Why?) At least that is the point the people who now want to cancel his show are trying to make.

I am bit suspicious about this reason as during his show Chappelle also made a good point about UFOs and how many thousand years ago people flew off from this planet to another one. They screwed it up over there and then decided to come back to now make a claim on this one. Chappelle calls them 'space Jews' (video).

What a wonderful aphorism for Zionism. I had a hearty laugh when he made that joke though the audience in the studio seemed awfully quiet.

Now a handful of Netflix workers publicly demand to cancel Chappelle's show allegedly because he made jokes about transgender people and, more generally, about the fuss some of them make. But I wonder what is really happening behind the scenes with this. Who is really pulling the strings here? Who really wants to cancel Chappelle? Space Jews?

A more serious danger of 'wokeness' and 'cancel culture' is its invasion of science:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology invited the geophysicist Dorian Abbot to give a prestigious public lecture this autumn. He seemed a natural choice, a scientific star who studies climate change and whether planets in distant solar systems might harbor atmospheres conducive to life.

Then a swell of angry resistance arose. Some faculty members and graduate students argued that Dr. Abbot, a professor at the University of Chicago, had created harm by speaking out against aspects of affirmative action and diversity programs. In videos and opinion pieces, Dr. Abbot, who is white, has asserted that such programs treat “people as members of a group rather than as individuals, repeating the mistake that made possible the atrocities of the 20th century.” He said that he favored a diverse pool of applicants selected on merit.

He said that his planned lecture at M.I.T. would have made no mention of his views on affirmative action. But his opponents in the sciences argued he represented an “infuriating,” “inappropriate” and oppressive choice.

On Sept. 30, M.I.T. reversed course.

M.I.T. canceled a scientific lecture because the lecturer has opinions on other issues. What has happened to academic freedom of speech?

They canceled a lecture because some nitwits are hyping the 'woke' issue of affirmative action. These people are willing to accept less than the best qualified scientists because the lesser qualified person may have certain not science related attributes. Well folks - I agree with Dr. Abbot. That's not how academia is supposed or can work.

Luckily Princeton jumped in and Dr. Abbot's lecture will be held there.

The craziness behind of all of this is exposed further down in the NYT's reporting of the issue:

Phoebe A. Cohen is a geosciences professor and department chair at Williams College and one of many who expressed anger on Twitter at M.I.T.’s decision to invite Dr. Abbot to speak, given that he has spoken against affirmative action in the past. Dr. Cohen agreed that Dr. Abbot’s views reflect a broad current in American society. Ideally, she said, a university should not invite speakers who do not share its values on diversity and affirmative action.
What, she was asked, of the effect on academic debate? Should the academy serve as a bastion of unfettered speech?

“This idea of intellectual debate and rigor as the pinnacle of intellectualism comes from a world in which white men dominated,” she replied.

Whoa. What a catastrophic non-answer. That woman is supposed to do science?

How would science happen if we stop to use intellectual debate and rigor? What shall decide the veracity of a theory, the rightness of a formula or the correctness of a scientific fact? The height, color or gender of the person who utters it? The emotions of those who hear of it?

Where is this supposed to end?

Posted by b at 18:03 UTC | Comments (146)

October 20, 2021

Open Thread 2021-81

I've got nothing ...

Posted by b at 17:54 UTC | Comments (157)

October 19, 2021

More Brain Death At NATO

Two years ago France President Macron diagnosed NATO's 'brain death':

"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of Nato," Mr Macron told the London-based newspaper.

He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the US to defend the alliance, established at the start of the Cold War to bolster Western European and North American security.

Since then NATO's condition has further deteriorated.

The second biggest army under NATO command, Turkey's, is now hostile to the U.S. which continues to support PKK terrorists who are fighting against the Turkish state. Since the 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan Turkey had leaned towards Russia. It has bought Russian air defense systems which enables it to defend itself against NATO attacks. The relations with the U.S. and with NATO have since further declined.

Macron's diagnose came when the U.S. pulled some forces out of Syria. The NATO allies had not been informed about the move. This year's U.S. retreat from Afghanistan was likewise not communicated before its announcement even as NATO had an official mission in Afghanistan. Getting ignored by the U.S. does not create the trust needed for an enduring military partnership.

Then came the new AUKUS alliance which put the U.S. focus on China while screwing France out of a huge submarine contract with Australia.

When U.S. President Biden called Macron to apologize for the insult Macron gained a statement of U.S. support for an independent European army:

The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO.

The folks at NATO's headquarter in Brussels will have read that with deep fears. A separate European Union army, which France has long promoted, will inevitably diminish NATO's role.

Cont. reading: More Brain Death At NATO

Posted by b at 17:31 UTC | Comments (107)

October 18, 2021

The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One

On Saturday the Financial Times published a sensational piece on alleged Chinese testing of a new weapon system:

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile
Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took US intelligence by surprise

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.

Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.

The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation.

“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.

That fourth person must be part of the U.S. 'intelligence' community which is know for its lack thereof. Or some know nothing political editor:

Cont. reading: The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One

Posted by b at 15:41 UTC | Comments (71)

October 17, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-080

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-080

Posted by b at 14:34 UTC | Comments (166)

October 15, 2021

EU Faces Migrant Backlash After Sanctioning Belarus

In June 2020 Moon of Alabama reported of a planned color revolution in Belarus. During the election in August 2020 the predicted color revolution attempt indeed happened and we predicted that it would fail. By August 15 it was clear that Belarus had found an agreement with Russia that would destroy the color revolution attempt and remove any danger from the country. Ten days later the NATO lobby Atlantic Council acknowledged that the color revolution attempt had failed and bemoaned that it had been too peaceful.

The 'west' was outraged about its failure to bring President Lukashenko down. It sanctioned the country but soon things settled down. The exiled opposition tried to keep unrest in Belarus going but had no success. No new sanctions would be imposed if nothing else happened.

In May 2021 a mysterious bomb threat against a Ryanair plane flying over Belarus necessitated the emergency landing of the plane in Minsk. When the passengers left the plane and passed through passport control two of them were found to have arrest warrants open against them. They were both lower level actors within the exile opposition.

The exiled opposition and 'western' media falsely claimed that Belarus had hijacked the plane. That was certainly not the case. Belarus handled the bomb threat against the plane by the book and it was the Ryanair pilot who had decided to land in Minsk after he had talked with his airline.

The 'west' ignored that reality and went with the fake 'state sponsored hijacking' story the exiled opposition tried to sell. It raised further sanction against Belarus. It told its airlines to stop flying over Belarus and it prohibited Belavia, the state owned airline of Belarus, from landing in 'western' cities even though Belavia was in no way involved in the Ryanair case.

That was bad news for Belavia and for the many people working for it:

Cont. reading: EU Faces Migrant Backlash After Sanctioning Belarus

Posted by b at 18:21 UTC | Comments (76)

October 14, 2021

Thoughts On Three Issues - Putin On Europe's Gas Crisis, Iran Talks, Lebanon Shooting

Natural gas prices in Europe exploded last week after reports of too low inventory of natural gas for the upcoming winter. Claims were made that Russia had caused the price increase. But even the BBC finds that this is not the case:

Russia's own gas storage is also down.

Adeline Van Houtte, a Europe analyst at the Economist's Intelligence Unit, says: "Currently, the Russian domestic gas market remains tight, with output already near its peak and winter is looming... limiting gas export capacity."

There are several other factors affecting the situation in Europe, such as:

  • cold weather at the start of 2021 depleting stocks
  • rising prices in spring and summer put traders off buying to sell later in the year
  • limited supply from Norway because of maintenance issues
  • reduction in other energy sources such as wind power
  • growing demand for gas elsewhere in the world

The 'liberalization' of European gas markets by the EU has also led to more speculation. It was one of the many mistakes made in European energy policy.

Yesterday Russia's president Vladimir Putin held a remarkable speech about energy supply to Europe and pointed out some of its weaknesses:

Over the past 10 years, the share of renewable energy sources in the European energy balance has skyrocketed, which, on the face of it, appears to be a good thing – and they are now playing a significant and noticeable part. What can you say? It is a good thing any way you look at it.

However, this sector is notorious for erratic power generation. It requires large reserve capacities. In the event of major generation failures, primarily due to bad weather, this reserve is simply not large enough to cover the demand.

This is exactly what happened this year, when, due to a decrease in wind farm generation, there was a shortage of electricity on the European market. Prices soared, which triggered a spike in natural gas prices on the spot market.

Importantly, gas consumption is seasonal. Its reserves are traditionally replenished in the summer to meet the winter demand. However, this year, even after a cold winter in Europe, many countries chose not to do so, relying on spot gas supplies and the “invisible hand” of the market, but a spike in demand has sent prices even higher.

To reiterate, the rise in natural gas prices in Europe stemmed from shortages of electricity, not the other way around. There is no need to lay the blame on other people, which is what some of our partners are trying to do. Occasionally, you get stunned by what is being said on this account, as if these people do not know the numbers – I will say more about this later – as if they do not see the reality and are just covering up their own mistakes. Systemic flaws have been gradually introduced in European energy over the past decade, which led to a major market crisis in Europe.

As a reminder, when nuclear and natural gas-based generation were the leading energy sources, there were no such crises, and there were no grounds for them.

Europe, especially as it wants to change its road traffic from hydrocarbon to electric driven, will need more basic electric generation capacity. The only 'green' way to achieve that in sufficient size is by nuclear energy.


The Biden administrations finally recognizes that its 'Iran policy is failing.

Blinken says US is prepared to turn to 'other options' if nuclear diplomacy with Iran fails

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if diplomatic talks with Iran fail, the United States "is prepared to turn to other options" to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran does not want to obtain nuclear weapons.

The diplomatic talks with Iran will fail only if the Biden administration fails to return to the nuclear deal and does not lift the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration. The sole problem is that Biden wants more concessions from Iran than it had given under the JCPOA agreement.

It is funny then to hear Blinken talk of 'other options' when everyone knows that the U.S. does not have any. Any U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear installations will invite a strong military response. A war with Iran would destroy Israel and whatever is left of the U.S. position in the Middle East. Obama had recognized that. Trump had recognized that. It is high time for Biden to recognize that too and to act accordingly.


This morning followers of Hizbullah and Amal in Lebanon protested against a judge who is tasked with investigating last years enormous explosion in Beirut's harbor. The judge seems to steer the investigation against Hizbullah even as other groups were responsible for the ammonium nitrate storage that has caused the disaster.

During this mornings demonstration snipers from the fascist Lebanese Forces militia opened fire on the protesters. Six were killed and several were wounded. All of them were Shia followers of Amal and Hizbullah. But reading 'western' media, here the Guardian, you would not learn that this was a very one-sided affair:

Five people have died in armed clashes that broke out in Beirut during a protest demanding an end to a judicial investigation into last year’s massive blast in the city’s port.

The Lebanese interior ministry confirmed the deaths, and gunfire reportedly wounded more than a dozen other people. The deployment of soldiers failed to stem the violence, which took on a sectarian tone. The fighting happened near a civil war-era frontline in which militias from Maronite Christian and Shia Muslim blocs have previously clashed.

The assault on the protesters happen just as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is visiting Lebanon. Given her direct involvement in the 2014 Maidan coup which also saw sniper fire against protesters it seems unlikely that this is just a coincidence.

Posted by b at 16:10 UTC | Comments (171)

October 13, 2021

Open Thread 2021-79

News & views ...

Posted by b at 16:00 UTC | Comments (158)