Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 19, 2019

Why Iran Needs To Talk With The Taliban

The Trump administration is preparing a public argument for war on Iran. The Washington Times has some 'senior administration officials' claiming that Iran is allied with al-Qaeda and thus could and should be attacked:

Iran-al Qaeda alliance may provide legal rationale for U.S. military strikes

Iran is providing high-level al Qaeda operatives with a clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money and weapons across the Middle East, according to Trump administration officials who warn that the long-elusive, complex relationship between two avowed enemies of America has evolved into an unacceptable global security threat.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in the days after the 9/11 attacks provided the legal framework for President George W. Bush to order U.S. military action against the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. The law has underpinned the U.S. counterterrorism campaign and has largely gone unchanged for the past 17 years through three presidential administrations.

Congressional and legal sources say the law may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies should President Trump decide that Tehran poses a looming threat to the U.S. or Israel and that economic sanctions are not strong enough to neutralize the threat.

That Iran is colluding with al-Qaeda, which it actively fights in Syria and Iraq, is obviously nonsense. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan some families of al-Qaeda fighters fled to Iran where they were put under house arrest. They were and still are hostages Iran uses to prevent al-Qaeda attacks against its country. The Washington Times admits this:

One captured 2007 document, apparently written by an al Qaeda operative, concluded that, in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of neighboring Iraq, “Iranian authorities decided to keep our brothers as a bargaining chip.”

At the recent conferences in Warsaw and Munich the Trump administration failed to gain any European support for its anti-Iran strategy. Iraq has likewise rejected all U.S. attempts to position it against Iran. If the U.S. wants to attack Iran it will need to go it alone. Its 'allies' west of the Persian Gulf will give financial support but are not a serious military force. What they can do though is to ramp up terrorism against Iran.

The former Indian ambassador M. K. Bhadrakumar suspects that the U.S. is trying to envelope Iran from the east to establish land routes that can be used for such purposes. The plan includes Pakistan and even the Afghan Taliban:

[T]oday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Israel’s covert allies in West Asia. They are joined at the hips in the project to overthrow the Iranian regime. We may expect that the Af-Pak could become a major theatre from where their covert operations would be launched with the help of Pakistan under the watch and protection of the US to destabilise Iran. Tehran has repeatedly alleged that the two Arab states are working in tandem with the US and Israel.

After last Tuesday’s fedayeen attack in Iran’s southeastern region of Sistan-Baluchistan bordering Pakistan (in which 27 Iranian troops were killed in circumstances eerily similar to what happened in Pulwama), top Iranian generals have openly alleged the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Unsurprisingly, Saudis and the Emiratis who are bankrolling the Pakistani economy, have come to call the shots in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Tehran is expecting turbulent times.
[W]e have an explosive mix today, such as we have never come across before in our region and which no one could have foreseen previously — except, indeed, the astute mind of Hamid Karzai — whereby the Taliban leadership has come under immense Pakistani pressure to eschew its “Afghan-ness” and accede to the US wish list on an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan (which is also backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Israel.)

Bhadrakumar points to several recent incidents that suggest that such a plan is indeed in the making. He urges the Indian government to renew its alliance with Iran to counter such acts.

The Taliban will not like any plan that leaves foreign forces in their country. Removing all foreign forces from Afghanistan has always been their foremost aim. Yesterday the Taliban negotiators were supposed to meet their U.S. counterparts in Islamabad where they would also have talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and probably with Khan's current guest, Clown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. They canceled the talks on short notice. They may want to avoid additional pressure to submit to the U.S. plans of keeping some troops on Afghan ground.

Iran is also in talks with the Taliban. It may be able to offer them an alternative to the support they get from Pakistan. The U.S. has left the Afghan government in Kabul out of its talks with the Taliban while Iran kept it fully informed. Kabul may also prefer Iranian help in mediating an end of the long conflict.

Securing its eastern flank will be a high priority for Iran. A bid to change the allegiance of the Taliban from Pakistan to Iran may be the best way to achieve that.

Posted by b on February 19, 2019 at 18:24 UTC | Permalink

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@ b4real whom I referred to as bevin....sorry

I am at session number 197 in my neurofeedback path and it has my ADD symptoms quite prevalent at times......but I am close to healing from a traumatic brain injury which is "impossible" so I am ok with some "noise in the system" during the process.

Sorry again for the mental lapse and thanks for your response which reads to me like we are more aligned in our thoughts than lets go out there and convince the rest of the zombies that social change is in our best interest......I do think collapse may be imminent and private finance may be exposed for the social sickness it represents.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 23 2019 16:55 utc | 101

donkeytale @ 98

Correction. Obama was a State Senator from Illinois running for the US Senate when he gained the speaking slot at the 2004 Dem Convention.

Posted by: donkeytale | Feb 23 2019 17:04 utc | 102


Obama is Mr. Inclusive(tm). He embodied inclusivity. And he used this as a cover to advance establishment interests at home and abroad.

"No drama obama" deliberately constrained his own power as he pretended that reaching "across the isle" had merit. Obamabots (DNC operatives?) dutifully praised his efforts, which progressives quickly saw as 11-dimensional chess bullshit.

Obama did nothing to hold intelligence agencies accountable, conducted covert wars for regime change, and bragged of his drone prowess.

Ultimately, he made a mockery of inclusiveness.

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Trump used a populist platform shrewdly.
Nice try. You deftly ignore that he was practically handed that platform by his being the ONLY populist among the 19 contenders.

Obama was not a populist at all, did not run as a populist and can only be considered an outsider because of his ethnicity.
Inclusivity is naturally populist because fairness is inherently popular.

Obama was thought to be an "outsider" because he was young, black, and had (supposedly) progressive ideals.

For instance, Obama, a US Senator from Illinois, obtained a coveted speaking slot at the 2004 Dem Convention where he was introduced as a rising star largely on his anti-Iraq war stance. This promotion by the party insiders also makes him an insider by definition.
Most people don't follow politics closely enough to understand such clues just as they don't understand how access journalism taints their news.

Hilliary began the 2008 campaign with the super delegate votes. However as soon as Obama began to turn his superiour retail political skills (just as Trump would also do ...
Once again, you're trying to iron the sheets to eliminate any Deep State wrinkle. A populist has to prove him/herself by defeating the establishment. A faux populist, by definition (because they are actually part of the establishment) gets help to do this.

Obama's "base" was much too broad to be defined as "populist." ... as that term applies historically in the US... the recession actually hit late in the campaign and economic populism was not truly a part of Obama's campaign at all. His deal was more on the fairness and meritocratic side, a message of inclusion.
Obama's wide appeal across groups is actually sign of his populism. As you noted, it's a populism based on inclusivity, not on representing the interests of a homongenous group.

You're definition of populist is flawed. A "populist" simply takes positions that appeal to a large group of voters. Obama's inclusive message and generally progressive positioning did just that. And, among his positions, was economic fairness because despite the booming economy, many were struggling.

... maybe butthurt lefties fell for mere slogans to their later chagrin.
Wrong. Not mere slogans. Michel Obama acknowledged Obama's failure to deliver on his progressive agenda when, at the 2012 Democratic Convention, she tried to excuse that failure by saying: "change takes time".

And for the butthurt lefties who all went home and sat on their hands after Obama won....congratulations for becoming inactivists. That's not on Obama. That's on the butthurt lefties themselves.
Trump's base has reacted in much the same way to his betrayals that Obama's did. And 'Trumptards' (like "trust the plan" Qanon) have acted like Obamabots in pushing the 11-dimensional chess angle.

Where you sit is where you stand tribalist activism is promoted by the duopoly to divide us.

Bernie is much more representative of populism than Obama....
Bernie is also a faux populist. He acted as a sheepdog for Hillary - refusing to talk about character issues or her emails, and he would not refute her claim to have never changed her vote for money with the well-known and irrefutable example of her having done so (Elizabeth Warren proved that Hillary had changed her position on the bankruptcy bill for money from the Credit Card industry). And he refused offers to lead a progressive Movement that was separate from the Democratic Party.

Now, this washed-up failed populist returns for 2020 as a spoiler: taking votes from other progressives so that the Centrist wins (again).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23 2019 20:36 utc | 103

Once Obama's inclusivity 'con' had run its course, he was free to tell us that he "believes in American Exceptionalism with every fiber of my being".

Until Trump was (s)elected, the possible Deep State connections behind the faux populist Presidents were not given much thought. But the manipulations in the 2016 election are too blatant and too numerous to dismiss. And with that knowledge, we can revisit disturbing facts about Obama. Like his grandfather's service in OSS/CIA and his mother's likely work for CIA as well.

Matt Stoller's excellent description of Obama in June 2012 (many progressives had "woken up" by 2011) almost seems naive in light of the real possibility that he was selected by the Deep State: The Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked:

Obama is the ultimate cynic, a dishonest, highly reactionary social and corporate ladder climbing con artist. Obama is the guy who calls a female reporter “sweety”, who plays poker with the guys, and who thinks that his senior advisor’s decision to cash out after making a “modest” salary of $172,000 at the White House is just natural. He’s the guy who used the rationale that he’s a father of two girls as to why he doesn’t want young women to have access to Plan B. He was in favor of gay marriage in 1996, flip flopped for political reasons, and then pretended to change his mind as a matter of conscience. He runs on populism with a worse record than George W. Bush on income inequality. His narcissism, and the post-modern ironic sense of self-awareness of how his narrative is put together and tended, is his defining character trait. It’s not just that he’s a liar. Lyndon Johnson was a liar, but LBJ lied us into a war in Vietnam as well as a war on poverty. FDR lied all the time, for good and ill. Obama’s entire edifice is based on lying almost entirely to help sustain his image, with almost no interest in sound policy-making. Obama understands the threat of climate change, but like the exceptional con artist he is, what happens to others he does not know, or what happens in the future, is irrelevant to him. He understands banking, and war, and women’s issues, and corruption and Citizens United. Like a great con artist, he has studied his mark, the American voter, and specifically the Democratic voter, and he undersands which buttons to push.

Many criticize Obama, with the idea that he doesn’t understand, and if only he understood, he would change his mind. This is part of his false narrative of hope and change. But Obama reads Paul Krugman – he studied the left intensely and spent years as a community organizer. He understands his opposition, those crying out for justice against the powerful, and finds them laughable, finds in them weakness at best, a punchline at worst. He reads his left-wing opponents so he can absorb the talking points, and rebut them. Some think that Obama can be appealed to around the better angels of nature, that he’s naturally with “the left” but must be gently praised. But again, this is more of the false hope and change narrative. Obama understands Saul Alinsky. He gets left-wing ideas. But he hates the left, with the passion of any bully towards his victims. To him, they are chumps, weak, pathetic, losers. They are such pathetic losers, in fact, that they will believe anything he tells them. And Obama has no better nature, he is what he’s done in office, someone who murders children with drone strikes and then jokes about it to his rich friends.

Yves wrote about this narrative a few weeks ago, when she pointed out his career in the Illinois state Senate was based on working for billionaire developers to destroy poor neighborhoods. Few really gets who he is, at his core, and almost no one is willing to publicly point it out. There are some who went to law school with him, who saw his enormous grasping social climbing tendencies, his eager corporate good old boy persona, his narcissistic calculations. But they are drowned out by the institutional left-wing voices, the fanboy reporters, the sycophantic labor leaders, the slavishly worshipful foundations, and the voters who cannot hear any alternative to the hope and change they know and love. The only mainstream narrative challenging hope and change is the stupid right-wing storyline that he’s a Kenyan Muslim socialist. That’s just racist idiocy. But there are those on the right who understand Obama’s narcissism, and they may just make that their electoral narrative.

Think about this problem in a slightly different way. It’s been three years. Why hasn’t been there a great iconic impersonator of Barack Obama, like Tina Fey and Sarah Palin or Will Ferrell (or James Adomian) and George W. Bush? A comic impersonator reveals something about the core of an individual. The people imitating Obama seem to think that he’s far more left-wing and principled beneath the surface, that if he let out who he really was, how really angry he is at the Republicans, that’s the parody they hit. It falls flat, because it’s not true to who he is. The truth is that he’s a narcissistic sociopath dressed up as a cool corporate brand. The real Obama parody is an Obama who wears an Air Force One fleece over an Obama t-shirt, who says to a reporter “Now hang on, let me finish, speaking slowly and avoiding your question, which is, by the way excellent.” He’s President, and if you’re upset with him, don’t worry, look at that beautiful photo of Obama smiling and pointing.

This alternative narrative is a hard truth to hear, because it carries with it an implicit rejection of American exceptionalism. Yes, American institutions are no better, and in many ways are more malignant, than those of many other countries. Yes, our political leaders, our press, our military leadership, operate in service to sociopathic aims. Yes, our freedoms are often an illusion, unless you fit a very narrow criteria. Yes, our banks are run to rob us, yes, our CIA spies on us, and yes, our government is fundamentally anti-democratic. Yes, our President is a con artist, and yes, nearly every reporter who writes about him participates in this set of lies, because of careerism, social financial reasons, or a simple lack of competence or imagination.

There's more at the link - don't miss the first few paragraphs discussing Obama's sense of humor.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23 2019 23:09 utc | 104

JR - Your opinions are duly noted and most interesting. If they were substantiated by any facts you would be onto something, or at least an honest interpretation of facts. Unfortunately, your premise is flawed from the get-go by a misunderstanding of populism. Curiously, your definition of populism is the same flawed one Obama used in 2016 to characterise himself instead of Trump as populist.

Obama's wide appeal across groups is actually sign of his populism. As you noted, it's a populism based on inclusivity, not on representing the interests of a homongenous group.

You're definition of populist is flawed. A "populist" simply takes positions that appeal to a large group of voters. Obama's inclusive message and generally progressive positioning did just that. And, among his positions, was economic fairness because despite the booming economy, many were struggling.

First, I noted Obama was for inclusion, I did not note Obama's was "a populism based on inclusivity." False statement on your part. To say inclusiveness is popular therefore it represents populism is 180 degrees opposite the definition of the political term populism, or more accurately, political populism as it has developed historically in the US.

Populism is anti-inclusive, the rallying of the resentful "little guys" who believe themselves rejected by society against the "bigshots" who rejected their labour in favour of cheaper, darker skinned foreigners and "others". The origin of populism hails from the south and is rooted in agrarian culture and the use of slavery by the landowners "bigshots" which made the white farmhand "little guy" an anachronism of the time.

The little white guy couldn't and can't bear the truth of his ineffectual position versus the dark skinned "other" and of course he identifies racially with the white "bigshot" hence the ability of the "populist" leader to scapegoat the dark skinned other and provide a faux sense of community and false hope. The little white guy now can positively identify with his populist "saviour" who of course is a white "bigshot." In this sense, JR, all populism is "faux," since the hopes are false and the solutions presented to the little guy are lies.

That's why populism never works out in reality. See also, "Brexit" for instance. (substitute Muslims for slaves). Or Nazi Germany (substitute Juden for slaves).

Slaves took jobs from the little white guys. Slaves were stronger, bigger, thought to be more sexually potent.

The bigshots ruined the little guy's chances for success by inserting darker, foreign, more physically capable "thugs, thieves, murderers, rapists of the little guys women". These "other" worked the little guys' jobs for less money.

This is the essence of Amerikkkan populism since Andrew Jackson. Replace slaves with "Mexicans" and you now have updated populism to the 21st Century. Obama isn't a populist by any stretch, he's one of the bigshots (Harvard Law, Columbia undergrad, Wall Street Darling...and worse he is not even white!!!) and he inserted Mexicans into the land, and before him it was the business Republicans who called loudly and longly for open borders. Rick Perry and George W. Bush for instance, two exemplars.

Trump's faux populism rails against both Obama and the business inflected traditional GOP too, while his true self implements standard GOP dogma which undercuts his own base, such as tax cuts for the rich, elimination of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, tariffs which in fact further reduce blue collar jobs doemstically.

To infer Trump was handed the populist whom, when? How? to miss Trump's one brilliance. True, it is probably the only the one-off accidental brilliance of the Kennedy assassin or a Twin Towers hijacker, and it is momentary and fleeting, for Trump is clearly an idiot in most senses of the term.

An idiot savant (projection alert) I would say. If he is smart, then he is gangster smart.

We agree that neither Obama nor Trump delivered on their promises. However, this similarity alone doesn't make Obama a populist.

Posted by: donkeytale | Feb 24 2019 13:55 utc | 106

As I stated in a comment or two above, I am not arguing with you that Obama "failed" in many aspects of his presidency. Most Presidents do fail in many aspects of their presidencies.

Bernie the Sheepdog will also fail in many aspects of his presidency. Is he a faux populist? Maybe. At least his faux populism aims higher, at the wealthy, Wall Street and corporations.

He also has "won" by injecting elements of leftist discourse back into the equation. A discourse leading to policies such as Medicare for All, living wage, green new deal, higher taxes on the wealthy, which have become mainstream on the Demotardic side.

You are too obsessed with the great man theory IMHO.

Of course you will deny this. Lol. But, prima facie dude, your rhetoric notwithstanding. History is a process not simply a personal journey of a few "great men."

Posted by: donkeytale | Feb 24 2019 14:12 utc | 107

Chomsky on Sanders gets it. Note: "Media hostility" towards Sanders also includes "social media hostility" now emanating from JR among others. Lol

The most remarkable feature of the 2016 campaign was not the election of a billionaire, with a huge amount of funding particularly in the crucial final stages of the campaign, and with enormous media support (Fox News, virtually an organ of the right wing of the Republican Party, and talk radio, with an enormous audience, long ago taken over by far right businesses).

The most remarkable feature was the Sanders’ campaign, breaking with well over a century of American political history in which the election is predictable with remarkable precision, this is true for Congress as well, by the simple variable of campaign spending.

Sanders was almost unknown, was dismissed or ridiculed by the media, had no funding from the corporate system or private wealth, and even used the word “socialism”, a scare word in the US, unlike in other societies. In fact, his “socialist” policies wouldn’t have surprised President Eisenhower, an old-fashioned conservative, but with the shift of the political spectrum to the right in the neoliberal years, they seemed revolutionary – except to the general public, which largely supports the policies, so regular polls show, often by large margins.

He might very well have won the Democratic nomination had it not been for machinations of the Obama-Clinton party managers.

He emerged as the most popular political figure in the country. The offshoots of his campaign, combining with others, are becoming a significant force, despite media hostility and strong opposition from the centers of economic power, which are usually decisive in determining electoral outcomes and policy formation, as demonstrated by extensive work in academic political science.

The real question is whether the US can become a functioning democracy, which approaches the familiar slogans: “of, by, and for the people”. The same questions can be asked in Europe.

Posted by: donkeytale | Feb 24 2019 14:27 utc | 108


Great man obsession sounds like an attempt to pigeonhole and dismiss. "Of course you will deny this. Lol."

Your quoting of Chomsky was incomplete. He goes on to say:

Functioning democracy erodes as a natural effect of the concentration of economic power, which translates at once to political power by familiar means, but also for deeper and more principled reasons. The doctrinal pretense is that the transfer of decision-making from the public sector to the “market” contributes to individual freedom, but the reality is different....

These policies are dedicated to making sure that society no longer exists, Margaret Thatcher’s famous description of the world she perceived -- or, more accurately, hoped to create: one where there is no society, only individuals. This was Thatcher’s unwitting paraphrase of Marx’s bitter condemnation of repression in France, which left society as a “sack of potatoes,” an amorphous mass that cannot function. In the contemporary case, the tyrant is not an autocratic ruler -- in the West, at least -- but concentrations of private power.

This is consistent with your comment @79: "The conspiracy is in the institutions."

So I reject your "obsession" smear because what I write is entirely consistent with the oligarchical concentration of power that has occurred over the last 40 years - which we seem to agree upon. Where you tend to disagree with me, however, is when I point to the leadership of the institutions that are choking whatever democracy and dignity remains. (And yes, Sanders is part of those institutions - he is "independent" in name only.)

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Chomsky is also wrong. The most remarkable feature of the 2016 campaign was that Hillary faced two old friends. And by disrespecting one so completely, she knowingly (I contend) helped the other to win.

Obama had also done well by soliciting small donations (though too much was made of that at the time so as to obfuscate Obama's institutional support). Sanders campaign was remarkable due to the DEPTH of support it received. I think that surprised Sanders, Hillary, and the Democratic establishment. It was that amazing turnout for Sanders that made disrespecting Sanders at the convention into a red letter event. No candidate that wanted the Presidency as much as Hillary did (to make history as the first women President), would have treated her friend so badly.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 24 2019 17:00 utc | 109

Iran will be in the crosshairs of the owners of the USG, until they also 'own' Iran.

Posted by: nightstalker | Feb 25 2019 6:57 utc | 110

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