Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 24, 2019

Trump Seeks 'Coalition Of The Willing' Against Iran

After a somewhat quiet weekend the Trump administration today engaged in another push against Iran.

Today the Treasury Department sanctioned the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also sanctioned Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his office! There will be no more Disney Land visits for them.

There is more to come:

Josh Rogin - @joshrogin - 16:18 utc - 24 Jun 2019

Mnuchin: "The president has instructed me that we will be designating [Iran's foreign minister Javad] Zarif later this week." cc: @JZarif

The Treasury Secretary will designate Javad Zarif as what? A terrorist? Zarif is quite effective in communicating the Iranian standpoint on Twitter and other social media. Those accounts will now be shut down.

The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said today that Iran should respond to U.S. diplomacy with diplomacy. Sanctioning Iran's chief diplomat is probably not the way to get there.

All those who get sanctioned by the U.S. will gain in popularity in Iran. These U.S. measures will only unite the people of Iran and strengthen their resolve.

Iran will respond to this new onslaught by asymmetric means of which it has plenty.

On Saturday Trump said that all he wants is that Iran never gets nuclear weapons. But the State Department wants much more. Hook today said that the U.S. would only lift sanctions if a comprehensive deal is made that includes ballistic missile and human rights issues. Iran can not agree to that. But this is not the first time that Pompeo demanded more than Trump himself. Is it Pompeo, not Trump, who is pressing this expanded version to make any deal impossible?

Brian Hook is by the way a loon who does not even understand the meaning of what he himself says:

laurence norman @laurnorman - 10:53 utc - 24 Jun 2019

US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal with president who had 1 1/2 yr left in office. "They knew what they were getting into...They knew that there was a great possibility that the next president could come in & leave the deal." Note: US elections 17 months away

Those are two good arguments for Iran to never again agree to any deal with the 'non-agreement-capable' United States.

It seems obvious from the above that the Trump administration has no real interest in reasonable negotiations with Iran:

“The administration is not really interested in negotiations now,” said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department official who was involved in negotiations with Iranian officials during the Obama administration. “It wants to give sanctions more time to make the Iranians truly desperate, at which point it hopes the negotiations will be about the terms of surrender.”

That is part of the strategy. But the real issue is deeper:

Max Abrahms @MaxAbrahms - 16:41 utc - 24 Jun 2019

Pro tip: Sanctions against #Iran aren’t to retaliate for the downed drone or to punish tanker attacks or to improve the nuclear deal or to help the Iranian people but to foment revolution against the regime. The strategy is regime change with velvet gloves.

The U.S. now tries to build an international coalition against Iran. Trump invited China and Japan to protect their tankers in the Middle East:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:08 utc - 24 Jun 2019

China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been....
....a dangerous journey. We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world! The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!

One wonders what the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Navy will say when that Chinese carrier group arrives in the Gulf region.

Who else will join this?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran.

Pompeo spoke as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, ..
"We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.

Pompeo was hastily sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Brian Hook is now in Oman and Bolton is in Israel. The U.S. will also pressure Europe and NATO to join a new 'coalition of the willing'. The UK will likely follow any U.S. call as it needs a trade deal to survive after Brexit.

Other countries are best advised to stay out.

Posted by b on June 24, 2019 at 18:05 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Our leaders have gone out of their tiny minds, first Trump confirms our suspicions that the deal he wants must include those legal ballistic missiles, then that nutcase Hunt pledged to stand by the US in the event of conflict with Iran, you could not make it up.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is running against Boris Johnson for the Conservatives’ leadership, has pledged to stand by the US even if its confrontation with Iran leads to a military conflict, according to The Daily Mail.
Trump is such a con man... He said he told Shinzō Abe, before the Japanese prime minister visited Tehran on 12 June: “Send the following message: you can’t have nuclear weapons. And other than that, we can sit down and make a deal. But you cannot have nuclear weapons.”
On further questioning he added the demand that Tehran should not have a ballistic missile programme, and suggested he wanted a tougher inspection regime.
This whole saga is not about nuclear weapons, it is about those conventional ballistic missiles which Iran is manufacturing perfectly legally and changing the equation in the region. These are precision missiles and could turn Tel Aviv and Saudi oil infrastructure into rubble, US/Israel want to make Iran defenseless. It is not going to happen.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 24 2019 18:13 utc | 1

Here is a article that takes a detailed look at Iran's military capabilities:

Once American servicemen start dying for this rather nebulous cause, it will be the reaction of American voters that will ultimately determine the extent and duration of yet another Middle East military, nation re-engineering "adventure".

Posted by: Sally Snyder | Jun 24 2019 18:22 utc | 2

Pompeo is a lying ass.

The US faced empire is the largest state sponsor of terror

The big lie technique works when all levels of communication are controlled. Otherwise it makes you the laughing stock, which Trump will be at the G20 before he leaves

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jun 24 2019 18:25 utc | 3

In dealing with Iran Pompeo & Bolton are following the infantile pattern that Israel uses with Palestinians and Hezbollah: Make them suffer so they turn against their leaders and provoke a regime change
It never worked because the middle easterners do not think like the Jews or Westerners. They are resilient and have little to loose. The more hardship they get from foreign and hostile powers the more they unite and resist. Despite the overwhelming persecution of the Palestinians by Israel and its western allies for 50 years they are still resisting. Iran is not different.
They are under siege for 30 years and still defiant.
Many US presidents and Boltons have passed and disappeared in oblivion after attempting and failing regime changes in the middle east. Trump is not different.

Posted by: Virgile | Jun 24 2019 18:25 utc | 4

Well, the end is most certainly nigh. Figure the US or Israel will resort to using nuclear weapons which will result in Russia and China unleashing theirs. At least we can expect Wash DC to be obliterated. May solve one of our problems.
Expect all nuclear facilities, military bases, and major airports to be targeted. Hopefully, major population centers would be spared but doubt the US will reciprocate so expect all major metropolitan areas to also be targeted.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 24 2019 18:39 utc | 5

Here is the double down on stupid which should have been expected.

Double sanctions, double demands, double threats, double censorship and the assemblage of a fake posse - aka the coalition of the lapdogs.

Who will join the coalition of dumbfuckery? Here are the coalition members from Dubya's Iraqi invasion in 2003:

Of the 48 countries on the list, three contributed troops to the invasion force (the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland). An additional 37 countries provided some number of troops to support military operations after the invasion was complete.

The list of coalition members provided by the White House included several nations that did not intend to participate in actual military operations. Some of them, such as Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Solomon Islands, did not have standing armies. However, through the Compact of Free Association, citizens of the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia are guaranteed US national status and therefore are allowed to serve in the US military. The members of these island nations have deployed in a combined Pacific force consisting of Guamanian, Hawaiian and Samoan reserve units. They have been deployed twice to Iraq. The government of one country, the Solomon Islands, listed by the White House as a member of the coalition, was apparently unaware of any such membership and promptly denied it.[5] According to a 2010 study, the Federal States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau (and Tonga and the Solomon Islands to a lesser extent) were all economically dependent on economic aid from the United States, and thus had an economic incentive to join the Coalition of the Willing.[6]

In December 2008, University of Illinois Professor Scott Althaus reported that he had learned that the White House was editing and back-dating revisions to the list of countries in the coalition.[7][8] Althaus found that some versions of the list had been entirely removed from the record, and that others contradicted one another, as opposed to the procedure of archiving original documents and supplementing them with later revisions and updates.[3]

By August 2009, all non-U.S./UK coalition members had withdrawn from Iraq.[9] As a result, the Multinational Force – Iraq was renamed and reorganized to United States Forces – Iraq as of January 1, 2010. Thus the Coalition of the Willing came to an official end.

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jun 24 2019 18:44 utc | 6

Thanks to fastfreddy with the Iraq related Coalition of the Willing history

Over on another thread it was noted that today Trump is trying to build another Coalition of the Willing to "protect" the shipping lanes.

My response was
@ Don Bacon and SRB with the comments about the crybaby defense over "protecting" shipping lanes

I think China will tell empire like I tell the guy in front of the Post Office wanting to protect my bicycle while I go in....."Why should I give you money to protect me from you?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jun 24 2019 18:55 utc | 7

100% Gangsterism. The Outlaw US Empire learned it cannot defeat Iran militarily, so it invites other nations to become outlaws too. The G-20's in 4 days. I'll wager Trump leaves before it's over having accomplished nothing other than absorbing abuse from most attendees. And just what will Trump do when this move fails as it will? IMO, he just dealt Sanders a great set of cards. The crowd expecting a repeat of Shock & Awe will grow smaller as they slowly realize the truth of my second sentence. Instead of climbing down the tree, Trump climbs higher onto thinner branches. What's more, Trump opens himself up to being challenged within the Republican Party for POTUS nominee as the Current Oligarchy cannot like this choice.

Here's Zarif's tweet in response:

"realDonaldTrump is 100% right that the US military has no business in the Persian Gulf. Removal of its forces is fully in line with interests of US and the world. But it's now clear that the #B_Team is not concerned with US interests—they despise diplomacy, and thirst for war."

It appears Zarif concedes policy isn't made by Trump. The ignorance displayed in the thread's comments is astounding.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2019 18:57 utc | 8

The only times I can think of when a country switched sides, ie: overthrew their leaders, was when they were caught in a squeeze between two other powers and decided to go with the winner. Example: Italy in 1943. External pressures causing people to overthrow their leaders? Essentially Nada.

Posted by: adrian pols | Jun 24 2019 19:03 utc | 9

So, what happens to derivatives if a shooting war ends up with the Straits closed? Escobar's recent piece on the derivatives implosion that would result from a shooting war suggests that the US/Saudi/Bibi axis is like a boys playing with matches around a can of gasoline or that they believe they have a work-around for the derivatives problem. I would like to know whether the BIS-types are on board with this fiasco or are trying to apply the brakes.

Posted by: Casey | Jun 24 2019 19:08 utc | 10

What happened to the tripartite ( US,RUS, IS) security meeting scheduled for 24 of june in Jerusalem : looks like the russian didnt show up? No news about it anywhere

Posted by: go figure | Jun 24 2019 19:14 utc | 11

"The UK will likely follow any U.S. call as it needs a trade deal to survive after Brexit."

This is Blairite propaganda,'b'.
And quite untrue.
Firstly, the Tories will back US imperialism under all circumstances. They always have done so. Brexit has nothing to do with it.
Secondly, there is no reason why the UK should not be able to leave the EU without creating a commercial crisis. There are plenty of potential trade partnerships in the world, not least of which are Iran, Venezuela and the Sino-Russian bloc.
The reality is that breaking up the European 'Community' is a necessary preliminary not only to escaping Cold War alliances (of which it is one) but to transforming national economies to serve society as a whole. And not merely the capitalist class.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 24 2019 19:15 utc | 12

Madeleine Albright - The deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it for Iraq's non existent WMD's

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 19:15 utc | 13

Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 19:18 utc | 14

Merely a passing though. Is the coming G20 summit and the discussions therein going to be a pivotal point in the changing world order?

Posted by: Beibdnn. | Jun 24 2019 19:19 utc | 15

Thought! Dammit!!!

Posted by: Beibdnn. | Jun 24 2019 19:19 utc | 16

This will be an absolute epic FAIL.
I hope Iran gets to its sabotaging soon and has allies on standby.
Seems the Houthis have been doing a bang up job on the Saudis lately.
Since the American people refuse to overthrow their Zionist occupied gov, maybe Iran will bravely do what we cannot.

Posted by: Kelli | Jun 24 2019 19:23 utc | 17

Bernie Sanders suggested that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.” Bernie you ain’t seen nothing yet, if those slavering imbeciles have anything to do with it. The costs [including long term costs] of the Iraq/Afghan wars [still ongoing] are estimated at 6 Trillion dollars. Here is what just one Trillion dollars looks like
“Yet the nation’s longest and most expensive war is the one that is still going on. In addition to nearly 7,000 troops killed, the 16-year conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost an estimated US$6 trillion due to its prolonged length, rapidly increasing veterans health care and disability costs and interest on war borrowing. On this Memorial Day, we should begin to confront the staggering cost and the challenge of paying for this war”.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 24 2019 19:24 utc | 18

Pompeo says God may have sent Trump to save Israel from Iran -- BBC, 22 March 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is "possible" that President Donald Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network during a high-profile trip to Israel, he said it was his faith that made him believe that.

He also praised US efforts to "make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains".

The comments came on a Jewish holiday celebrating rescue from genocide.

The holiday, Purim, commemorates the biblical rescue of the Jewish people by Queen Esther from the Persians, as the interviewer noted to Mr Pompeo.

What did Pompeo say?

He was asked if "President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace".

"As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible," said Mr Pompeo, a former member of Congress for Kansas and CIA director.

"I am confident that the Lord is at work here," he added.


Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 19:26 utc | 19

I continue to believe this is all theater, with DJT continuing his role as "carnival barker".

I just can't believe the elites will sacrifice the world's economy with a wider war, but then, I've always heard, the big rollers make money whether the market is up, or down.

Is that feasible? Maybe we'll see.

At this point, I could really care less.

Posted by: ben | Jun 24 2019 19:30 utc | 20

thanks Bernard.... especially good reporting / analysis on all of this the past week or two.

I expect no good to come of any of this sanction bs.

we all know that the Saudi arabian and UAE militaries are next to useless without the US, so that's a real coalition of the reckless and worthless for ya.... I expect that kiss ass trudeau and Canada are already on board..... I doubt if any europeans except the colonialist Brits will take that poisoned bait

zero hedge reports today that military build up in that area continues:

".....The US Navy confirmed early Monday that more military ships have arrived in the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf and Middle East waters. Though not pinpointing their exact location, the additional deployment which comes in the wake of last week's US drone shoot down by Iran, that saw Washington coming very close to launching major strikes in response, is described in Navy statements as including a major amphibious assault ship and two support vessels....

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jun 24 2019 19:31 utc | 21

Israel Lobbyist - We Need a False Flag to Start War with Iran!

Patrick Clawson of the influential neo-con Washington Institute for Near East Studies OPENLY suggests that the US should provoke Iran into taking the first shot.Israel Lobbyist suggests False Flag attack to start war with Iran. Just like 911 in New York causing the deaths of American civilians and soldiers, a million dead Iraqis and for what?

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 19:38 utc | 22

Good write b,,, but psychopaths never listen to reason.... They'll take us to war... for sure!

Posted by: ken | Jun 24 2019 19:39 utc | 23

Favorite lie Trump willing to meet w/no pre-conditions

100 Pinocchio's. He even says that he wants to negotiate about Iran's so-called nuclear weapons program. If the premise of the talks is that Iran has to abandon the JCPOA then how is this not a precondition?

Nothing left to sanction, what's next?

You will know that war is certain when the U.S. forbids Iranian tankers from leaving port (a blockade) so that they cannot even sell oil to China. Iran will rightly call this an act of war and declare that stopping a single tanker will result in them firing on a U.S. naval ship. The morons in the U.S. MSM will bleat and call this Iranian aggression even though it is the U.S. that is blocking the sacred right of 'international shipping'. The number one excuse we use to send our navy to the shores of China and Iran.

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Jun 24 2019 19:39 utc | 24

USA elected POTUS isolates Iran from access to the monopoly powered corporations of the west, and from its banking services, but are the the governed Americans isolating themselves from the USA..? Seems so.. to me.
Many Americans I have talked to no longer desire to vote or to take part in activities the USA is doing.
conducting government in secret and spying on everyone is taking its toll.

A more serious issue is raised at this link.. be interested to hear with the bar flies have to say about this?

Posted by: snake | Jun 24 2019 19:45 utc | 25

go figure @11--

A news search using Nikolay Patrushev turns up numerous items about the first of the three day meeting.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2019 19:46 utc | 26

India sends 2 ships.

The Indian Navy is sending two warships to the Gulf of Oman to protect the country's shipping in the wake of a series of attacks on tankers there in the past six weeks.

The guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai and the patrol vessel INS Sunayna "have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to undertake maritime security operations," an Indian Navy statement said.
Surveillance aircraft are also being dispatched in what India is calling Operation Sankalp.
India announced the operation Friday, one day after Iran said it shot down a US spy drone over the Gulf of Oman.


Posted by: fastfreddy | Jun 24 2019 19:52 utc | 27

Survival of the Richest

The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind

Douglas Rushkoff, Jul 5, 2018

Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”

I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR. The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.

After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.


Posted by: John Doe | Jun 24 2019 19:58 utc | 28

Countries that get their crude oil via the shipping routes in the Middle East should protect their own ships along the lanes, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday, as tensions between the United States and Iran continue to simmer.

Trump seems genuine in his ignorance.

What could possibly go wrong with this masterful idea?

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jun 24 2019 20:00 utc | 29

@29 It's a brilliant plan. Fill the whole gulf with foreign naval vessels to keep the oil tankers safe. The US navy will be on hand of course in case anything goes wrong.

Posted by: dh | Jun 24 2019 20:10 utc | 30

That was some mighty fine sarcasm.
Just wondering: Is this level of incompetence in government and diplomacy fairly normal or is this a bit unusual?
Attention Please: All those with vested interest in the outcome of war on Iran, please report to Straight, bring your own boat.
Pardon me, but, do you have any Grey Poupon?

Posted by: jared | Jun 24 2019 20:11 utc | 31

For those nitpickers who like to correct B on minor errors of American language usage, you may be interested in how Americans butcher the language:

"Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:08 utc - 24 Jun 2019
China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise."

You should be able to find a least four grammar errors and four factual errors in just this one sentence. Happy hunting...

Posted by: Krollchem | Jun 24 2019 20:11 utc | 32

Yes this would be a great open door for Russia and China to send fleets to the area, this supposedly being a multi-polar world, after all.

Posted by: paull | Jun 24 2019 20:13 utc | 33

Levity is a requirement in life. Here's some:

"John Bolton Urges War Against The Sun After Uncovering Evidence It Has Nuclear Capabilities!"

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2019 20:16 utc | 34

US sending missiles near Russia borders may repeat Cuban missile crisis: Russian deputy FM

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says the US deployment of short or mid-range land-based missile systems in Eastern Europe and close to Russia’s borders could trigger a dangerous standoff akin to the Cuban missile crisis, which occurred in the darkest moments of the Cold War.

“If it really comes to deploying such systems on land, the situation will not just become complicated, it will escalate to the maximum level”, Ryabkov told legislators on Monday.

The White House has reportedly been mulling deploying such missiles to Eastern Europe to further beef up its military there.

If Washington passes ahead with its plan, “we can end up in a missile crisis not just similar to the one we had in the 1980s, but to the Cuban Missile Crisis [in 1962],” he further warned, commenting on the collapse of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).


Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 20:18 utc | 35

I can see what would be the legal rational for seizure of assets.
Iran should pursue this in court(s)?
Let the record show the reality.

Posted by: jared | Jun 24 2019 20:20 utc | 36

Oh look, Iran can bring down a UAV from 60,000 feet with one shot from a home grown missile system which they seem to have plenty of. They also seem to have loads of well armed friends. Our people at home don't like body bags. We need cannon fodder so that someone you don't like can get re-elected. Our country (well three billionaires and a few war contractors actually) needs you. Please apply now. It will be messy for you but as Madeleine says, "It will be worth it" (For us).

Posted by: corkie | Jun 24 2019 20:23 utc | 37

China import 92% of its oil through the straight and you tell me only now? Time to have the straight closed, that's will help tremendously in the commercial war. No petrols, no goods. Why on earth did Trump hold the strike. That was a wonderfull occasion, or there was too much US troops on site that would have given Iran no chance to effectively close the straight ? Please, send ASAP the Lincoln conquer the Fidji !! and be sure she brings along ALL the vessels, who knows, the sagaie may be sharp. Cut & slash the US air force presence, cost cutting oblige. That is the smart polictical way to do it.

Posted by: murgen23 | Jun 24 2019 20:24 utc | 38

The alleged genocidal plot in the Book of Esther whose failure Purim celebrates is almost certainly fictional. Still, Netanyahu uses it as an excuse for hostility towards Iran. For things that allegedly were prevented from happening some 2500 years ago.

Even though there is no doubt that it was Cyrus and the Persians who released the Israelites from their Babylonian Captivity.

Posted by: lysias | Jun 24 2019 20:26 utc | 39

PCR has pretty good assessment, adding to Bertold's.

Posted by: jared | Jun 24 2019 20:27 utc | 40

international tanker protection force

Brian Hook, the US special envoy on Iran, said he had been holding extensive talks with US allies in the wake of the Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, when two vessels were damaged by explosions. He believed a global coalition to protect shipping was required.
“There have been too many attacks. We could have had an environmental disaster and extensive loss of life due to reckless Iranian provocations,” he said.
Hook said the G20 summit this week in Japan would be a good forum for discussions. As many as 17 countries had been adversely effected by the recent tanker attacks either directly or through crew, insurance or contracts, he said, and an international force might isolate Iran diplomatically as well as make it more perilous for Tehran or its surrogates to mount further attacks.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 20:31 utc | 41

@Krollchem - I think most of the comments for b are an attempt to help him and make the articles better for posterity.

In any case, Donald Trump is a very low bar to set if you're going to accuse one of my fellow Americans of butchering our own native language. ;-)

Posted by: KC | Jun 24 2019 20:32 utc | 42

American way of diplomacy: impose sanction on Iran Foreign Minister, at the same time requesting negotiation with him

Posted by: Arta | Jun 24 2019 20:32 utc | 43

thanks b and to many of the commenters as well.. if i can summarize -

"anyone who disagrees with us is a terrorist" USA propaganda doctrine 101....(Those accounts will now be shut down.)

"The Iran request for USA is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!"

coalition of the willing = "Pompeo was hastily sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Brian Hook is now in Oman and Bolton is in Israel."

if you were an honest person or nation, would you want to join in that coalition of the willing??

Posted by: james | Jun 24 2019 20:34 utc | 44

@32 I think B's English is just fine. I certainly couldn't run a blog as popular as his is in German.

Posted by: johnph | Jun 24 2019 20:35 utc | 45

Meanwhile, Brent crude price dropped just a bit while futures remain steady in the low $60s. So no panic was induced by Trump's idiocy. Gold however jumped over $20 again to just under $1420 as China continues to dump T-Bills and buy gold. It may seem like a Mexican Standoff, but it looks pretty one-sided to me.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2019 20:36 utc | 46

Iranian Escalation Options?

The US decided not to put itself in the role of drawing first blood, which was (relatively) smart. The US is further provoking Iran "peaceful" with these absurd terrorist designation to eliminate senior Iranian leaders from Twitter. So the ball is back in Iran's court to put Trump back in check.

One problem for Iran is that now that everyone is starting to accept the theory that Iran has had to change its strategy and begin to pursue gradual escalation as counter-pressure, it now becomes harder to actually bring off that gradual escalation with deniability, because any unexplained attack on anything will be more plausibly pinned on Iran.

I'm not sure who attacked the tankers. It could have been a false flag, but I tend to think Iran was involved (though to be clear, the US and Israel are absolutely responsible for the overall state of affairs regardless of what happened with the tankers.) In any case, a false flag option to frame Iran now becomes more attractive given events of the last two weeks, so that's also a potential problem for Iran.

How should Iran escalate going forward? The breaching of the enrichment ceiling is probably the next event. Iran can escalate peacefully through a sequence of steps to quit JCPOA. Or it can escalate with violence--symbolic violence as with the tankers or something more substantial. But any targeting of tankers, especially if crew are hurt or killed, is problematic, especially given that deniability will only get harder.
Something explicitly Saudi would be best.

Targeting Saudi or UAE oil infrastructure is possible, but that will be hard (and risky) if deniability is a goal.

Developing a confrontation with the US is less likely to isolate Iran than hitting an "innocent" tanker and would probably do the trick of driving down traffic and driving up oil prices, but how to get the US to fire the first shot, if possible? That's what allegedly almost happened in response to the drone shutdown, which would have been as favorable an escalation as Iran could hope for.

The other problem for Iran, as has been noted, is that both the consumers and producers who are generally well disposed toward Iran will be hurt and might be driven towards the US at some point--China, of course, but also Iraq.

I would think that gradual steps out of JCPOA accompanied by statements of regret that Iran is being forced to do it--especially if they can still retain a Chinese and/or Russian veto while doing so--would be best. If they have the opportunity for another drone shoot down or something similar, that would be good, but the US may well be careful to avoid presenting such occasions. Perhaps Houthi missiles on Abqaiq or some other truly critical Saudi infrastructure or an attack on US forces in Syria, Afghanistan or Djibouti which would both be more deniable than in Iraq. If Iran possesses submersible attack drones of any kind, they would be a very useful tool--much better than manned vessels or mines.

It's a tricky business. Any other realistic options?

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2019 20:41 utc | 47

In fact b uses American jargon frequently which no foreigner should have ever heard, much less use, but he does.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 20:42 utc | 48

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24, 2019 3:46:09 PM | 26

go figure @11--

A news search using Nikolay Patrushev turns up numerous items about the first of the three day meeting.

John Bolton:

Met w/ my Russian counterpart Nikolay Patrushev in Jerusalem today. We and our teams covered Ukraine, arms control, Venezuela, and other issues. Looking forward to historic trilateral meeting tomorrow on Middle East regional security with our Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 24 2019 20:43 utc | 49

Iran is holding defiantly and the USA seems to have exhausted the objects of sanctions. Now they throw sanctions at anything that moves, like a desperate trigger happy GI. Trump contradicts Pompeo who contradicts Bolton who contradicts Trump
This looks to me more like panic than anything else.

Posted by: Virgile | Jun 24 2019 20:43 utc | 50

Trump is not a Strait shooter.

Never has been one in his life.

His swamp is full of Israeli agents, Kushner, Bolton, Pompous, Hook, Adelson, who prefer Israel over the USA.

Posted by: Kristan hinton | Jun 24 2019 20:44 utc | 51

@Kristan Hinton #52

"Trump is not a Strait shooter."

Nice Hormuz pun.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2019 20:48 utc | 52


Whenever you see the word, trilateral, you know the common man is going to get screwed.

Same as "bipartisan". You know, like the Patriot Act and the Bankster Bailouts - bipartisan.

If both houses of congress think its a good idea, the commons are getting screwed hard.

Posted by: Kristan hinton | Jun 24 2019 20:49 utc | 53

According to the US, Iran has two choices: “They can either start coming to the negotiating table or they can watch their economy continue to crumble.” . .Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran

But of course Iran does have choices.

@ OP-48
"it now becomes harder to actually bring off that gradual escalation with deniability"

So I like this strategy:
> demand that X barrels be allowed per month (from Pepe) or get Strait mining
> announced mining of the Strait if the demand is not met

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 20:51 utc | 54

"US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal with president who had 1 1/2 yr left in office. "They knew what they were getting into...They knew that there was a great possibility that the next president could come in & leave the deal."

The JCPOA was not a unilateral deal between USA and Iran, it was a multilateral deal negotiated through the United Nations Security Council. Hook's reference to "they" is more accurately attributed to the UNSC. It's quite apparent that Hook does not realize or understand what exactly he is saying - more evidence that the Americans representing the current administration are both ignorant and incompetent.

Posted by: jayc | Jun 24 2019 20:51 utc | 55

@Oscar Peterson
As I said here before, Iran's medium-term (2 to 5 years) doesn't look to be military escalation. They have announced this really clearly. At the military level their goal was to deter from any attack and again it looks like it has been done successfully. The main dynamism in their new approach is in the diplomatic-political front and this will start pressure-cooking right at the appropriate time to create havoc.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 20:54 utc | 56

How bad is it getting in Iran?
I value Laguerre's views because he actually goes there, which US reporter won't do.
But the head US anti-Iran thug Brian Hook has a view also, from a gleeful presser last month:

Brian Hook: Hi thanks very much. Thanks for having me on. Good to be with you. I’ll make a couple opening remarks here and then happy to take questions. Our maximum pressure campaign is working by nearly every measure the Iranian regime and its proxies are weaker today than when the president took office over two years ago.

And let me give you some statistics. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah went on TV in March and said that public support was needed to sustain their operations. Hamas has enacted austerity plans to deal with the lack of funds from Iran. Iran’s Shia militia groups have been told by Iran that their bankroll will dwindle and they have to find new sources of revenue. The Assad regime today faces a fuel shortage crisis because we have cut off the 1 to 3 million barrels per month that was once supplied by Iran. Iran’s cyber command is also short on cash.

We have also seen Iran’s military spending be cut dramatically. During the time of the Iran nuclear deal when the United States was a participant, Iran’s military spending peaked. Since we have exited the deal Iran’s military spending for the budget that they released in March was cut by 28 percent and that includes a 17 percent cut in the IRGC Quds force operations.

Iran’s economy is in recession and our oil sanctions once they are fully in effect and we have put in place a policy of zero imports for Iranian crude oil. Our oil sanctions will deny the regime 50 billion dollars in revenue that is 40 percent of its annual budget and we are closing the doors to Iran sanctions evasion to cover these losses. One of the ways we’ve done that is by working with other countries that issue flags to tankers around the world including Iran. We have been successful in stripping 80 Iranian tankers of the maritime flags that they need to sail.

We’ve done 26 rounds of sanctions almost 1000 people over the last two years being outside of the deal has put us in a much stronger position to really deny the regime revenue. We are making Iran’s foreign policy much harder to execute and we’re making it prohibitively expensive. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 20:58 utc | 57

@44 arta... bingo! exactly!

must be tough juggling between creating a coalition of the willing with the lima group on venezuala and another one on iran... how about one on north korea too, or maybe they don't need that...

the usa likes to mask their 'uncooperative' nature under this concept of 'coalition'...

Posted by: james | Jun 24 2019 21:01 utc | 58

Team Trump is trying to make Iran react publicly to show itself as a 'rogue' nation that needs to be dealt with.
Trump does not like endless wars.
Guardian has it Trumps low yield Tritan missiles will have operational capacity at end of September.

Union of concerned scientist has more information on the program.

National interest has this..
"“The modifications to a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to provide a low-yield option and the pursuit of a modern nuclear-armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile will provide additional diversity in platforms, range and survivability, and a valuable hedge against future nuclear “break-out” scenarios,” Pentagon spokesperson Johnny Michael told Warrior Maven."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jun 24 2019 21:01 utc | 59


Agreed. I do not know of any American who has Bernard's understanding of geopolitics and current affairs.

Posted by: Krollchem | Jun 24 2019 21:02 utc | 60

@DB #56

> demand that X barrels be allowed per month (from Pepe) or get Strait mining
> announced mining of the Strait if the demand is not met

Yes, but I think any mining would would best be done in response to some sort of violent action from the US and should be announced as directed against the USN. A mix of real and dummy mines would probably maximize the bang for the buck. Underwater attack drones would be a huge asset. I have no idea if Iran has any, as they are really still being developed by big navies.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2019 21:05 utc | 61

@ jayc 57
US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal
Yes they did, and now they regret it.
In 2013 Ali Khamenei said: "Certainly, we are pessimistic about the Americans. We do not trust them. We consider the government of the United States of America as an unreliable, arrogant, illogical, and trespassing government,"

The JCPOA was not a unilateral deal between USA and Iran, it was a multilateral deal
That's correct de jure, but not de facto. The US all by itself is leading the current attack on Iran, despite what the other members might think. Iran has not gotten any significant support from other JCPOA participants.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:10 utc | 62

@ATH #58

"Iran's medium-term (2 to 5 years) doesn't look to be military escalation."

I guess the question if whether Iran can afford to have much of a medium-term view at this point given the short-term effects of the sanctions?

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2019 21:12 utc | 63


It is clear for everyone that Iran was not behind the tankers attack.
1) American video evidence was fake, fabricated, they could not produce sequences before the event and after the event.
2) American military services is on auction in Persian Gulf: " ...So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation"
it means:
My sales man and agent are in Suadia Barbaria and Oman for sales, please contact them for price ASAP.

3) Fortunately MoA and Elijah theory was not true.

Posted by: Arata | Jun 24 2019 21:14 utc | 64

The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook...

Brian Hook is a "special" envoy in the sense that the "Special Olympics" are special.

Posted by: Ort | Jun 24 2019 21:16 utc | 65

@ OP 64
mining would would best be done in response to some sort of violent action from the US
Well a virtual naval blockade, as the US is doing, is not violent but it sure hurts a lot of innocent people in a country that hasn't done a damned thing to the perpetrators (despite claims).
Iran has done mining before, has better mines now, they say even selective, and I think that's how they should go if their demands for some oil trade (again, from Pepe Escobar, not my idea) are not met.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:17 utc | 66

@68 Ort

Good one. Although Brian Hook is an insult to special olympians and humanity in general.

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 24 2019 21:22 utc | 67

@Oscar Peterson
All signs indicates that Iran is able to sell at least 1B baril per day, after sanction, and will sustain the time-schedule. Unless a physical embargo, the minimum needed to sustain goes out.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 21:23 utc | 68

@ Arata 67
It is clear for everyone that Iran was not behind the tankers attack.
Brian Hook's ready-to-go move (at my 42 above) to gather "an international force [which] might isolate Iran diplomatically" sort of swings the blame needle a bit toward a US false flag on the tanker attacks.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:24 utc | 69

@ATH 71
All signs indicates that Iran is able to sell at least 1B baril per day
What signs?
Hook: "We have put in place a policy of zero imports for Iranian crude oil."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:28 utc | 70

Is this new orwellian term - 'proactive deterrence'

"...Pompeo and the U.S. Navy is building a “Sentinel” program for “proactive deterrence”"

WaPo has more on the program. looks like its a program to provide doctored up photographic evidence of Iranian wrong doing.
WaPo "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday began recruiting allies to help outfit tankers and other ships in the Persian Gulf region with cameras that can monitor and corroborate threats from Iran."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jun 24 2019 21:29 utc | 71

Iranian shallow water fishermen are collecting unexpected items

Posted by: Yonatan | Jun 24 2019 21:32 utc | 72

@Don Bacon
Is your quote from Hook entirely accurate? It clearly means that there is no "zero export" policy put in place.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 21:35 utc | 73

Oscar Peterson 48
Re China siding with the US if gulf oil is cut. If China have read Trumps global energy dominance strategy, they will know it is aimed at them. Trumps attacks on Venezuela and Iran are twofold.
One reason is Israel - both Iran and Venezuela are anti Israel, and the second it energy dominance -both countries have large reserves of no US controlled oil reserves. Energy - oil and gas are China's Achilles heel. They must be imported from somewhere and China being the would No1 importer of oil, it is something that cannot be substituted by Russia overnight and possibly not even in the longer term..

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jun 24 2019 21:41 utc | 74

@ ATH 76
The quote from Hook is in my 59 above.
The US is forbidding any country to import Iran oil.
So where are your "signs?" Do they exist?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:48 utc | 75

@Don Bacon
The sign you are looking for is in your own quote: the only way the Administration can forbid Iran exporting oil is by physical embargo, e.g. war. If US is not forbidding exports you can be sure that Iran is selling oil, maybe not in the open but surely through intermediaries.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 21:53 utc | 76

The only times I can think of when a country switched sides, ie: overthrew their leaders, was when they were caught in a squeeze between two other powers and decided to go with the winner. Example: Italy in 1943. External pressures causing people to overthrow their leaders? Essentially Nada.

Posted by: adrian pols | Jun 24, 2019 3:03:57 PM | 9

Rest assured, adrian pols, that people who live and breath international relations and reside in think tanks that devise policy are also aware of human nature 101.

The obvious conclusion -- attention Pft -- is that they want to prop up the Mullah Regime that they themselves have propped up for 40 years.

As an aside, dear 'b', the questions to ask are:

- Iran was producing 6 million barrels per day in the 70s. Will Iranians ever be 'permitted' to fully exploit their resources again?

- How much discount will China and the rest of "sanctions busters" get when buying Iranian oil?

- How does one get a nation such as Iran to think selling their allotted output (6 mb/d is 'verboten') at rates that resemble ye old British Empire era rates is OK or even a cause for declaring "victory"?

- Why is it that everybody, including the CIA and NYTimes and other paid propagandists, dump on the late Shahanah of Iranians?

Posted by: Realist | Jun 24 2019 21:53 utc | 77

I continue to believe this is all theater, with DJT continuing his role as "carnival barker".

I just can't believe the elites will sacrifice the world's economy with a wider war, but then, I've always heard, the big rollers make money whether the market is up, or down.

Is that feasible? Maybe we'll see.

At this point, I could really care less.

Same! Well, until the nukes new technology fly...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 24 2019 21:54 utc | 78

President Trump has signed an Executive Order today imposing sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran and the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran.
> Further, the order allows the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on officials appointed to their position by the Supreme Leader.
>These sanctions will deny Iran’s leadership access to financial resources, blocking them from using the United States financial system or accessing any assets in the United States.

from the Washington Examiner

Announced on Monday, the sanctions target Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps financial activities and Khamenei's funding of the inner sanctum. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin added that new sanctions later this week will target Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Still, it is the personal nature of the sanctions on Khamenei that will unleash the hard-liners' greatest wrath. To the hard-liners, Khamenei isn't just Iran's top leader, he is the literal incarnation of the Islamic Republic's ordained mission: the "miracle of God" (the translation of "Ayatollah" from Arabic) and service of Allah's moral will on Earth. These sanctions will thus be construed as an American attack on the regime's existence. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24 2019 21:58 utc | 79

The favored policy in Iran currently is to decrease the reliance on crude oil revenues. This looks like a good policy both from financial and environmental perspective.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 22:00 utc | 80

Don Bacon #65
"The US all by itself is leading the current attack on Iran, despite what the other members might think. Iran has not gotten any significant support from other JCPOA participants."

The American's bluff was called way back in Obama's first term when Turkey and Brazil proposed a plan which would settle concerns over Iran's nuclear centrifuges. Sec State Clinton shut that down quickly, confirming the nuclear concerns were merely a pretext for a regime-change policy. That established, the overriding interest, internationally, became preventing a shooting war involving US and Iran -to which the negotiating of the JCPOA played a strong role. The Russians and Chinese were criticized for supporting this process, including the UNSC directed sanctions. But the process strengthened multilateral cooperation and highlighted the obvious downsides of a self-avowed hegemonic power. By rejecting the JCPOA, the Americans rejected the UN and international law/agreements for the second time in 15 short years. The overriding concern remains to expose the negative consequences of a hegemonic entity while avoiding, to the extent possible, an actual shooting war.

Posted by: jayc | Jun 24 2019 22:01 utc | 81

Answer the questions. It that the Supreme Daddy "guiding" the "infirm and undiscerning Iranians" 40 fucking years to figure that out?

Further question to ass:

- Why did the Mullah Regime expend national treasure on a quixotic pursuit of Enrichment which inevitably and predictably resulted in that shameful JCPOA agreement for the Iranian nation, instead of developing Iranian Petrochemical industry? An Army needs gasoline, you know ...

Why is it that CIA and NYTimes and Mullahs in Iran and Wikipedia and everybody except history books

Posted by: Realist | Jun 24 2019 22:07 utc | 82

On the surface, it appears the dying empire must finally grab everything, no matter how historically untouchable, in last ditch claim on total power.

Of course this is bad on every level, it's immoral, unethical, illegal, doomed to fail, and doomed to hasten failure of the entire enterprise.

I'm dreaming here, but the best plan is to fade slowly into the night and put on the make up tomorrow.

But anyway, the fully doomed and immoral path has a bright side for the MIC--it's a lock on anyone who would try to shut it down. We will continue to do stupid things so we must continue to do stupid things.

Posted by: Charles Peterson | Jun 24 2019 22:13 utc | 83

I don't know who this Realist represent but I can tell one thing, he's surely not here to have a good debate and/or exchange of information.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 22:13 utc | 84

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24, 2019 4:58:26 PM | 59

Just to add on my recent visit to Iran. They are nearly western, much more so than neighbouring Arab countries. But there are curiosities which keep them apart, like the hijri solar calendar, which puts them in 1398, and the 1st of the year on 21st March. Impossible to calculate the western date without mechanical aid.

Most that I met were anti-regime. but then they were middle class. It's not the middle class which is voting for the regime. Rather it is a populist regime, like Trump's.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 24 2019 22:21 utc | 85

Frankly Trump's position is being reduced to a pile of cr*p. Who cares about the new sanctions? Khamenei may be newly sanctioned, but will it make a difference to his life?

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 24 2019 22:31 utc | 86

ATH, ad hom is so boring. Let's stick to the facts.

Another question:

- Since anybody with half a brain can use the outsourced DoD surveillance platforms to search for the so called Mujahedeen'e Khalgh aka MEK aka [insert latest obfuscating moniker here] and read all about their sordid history as a terrorist organization cum cult cum Bolton the Dolt's favorite Iranians and the answer to the Mullah Regime, then how is it possible that the powers that claim to seek the removal of their Mullah Regime in Iran push that evil cult publicly for Iranians to see? Is it any wonder that the Iranian nation terrorized by the bone breaking ideologues of the Mullah Regime now confesses to not seek revolution but "just reforms".

Posted by: Realist | Jun 24 2019 22:32 utc | 87

@19 js

As a follower of Christ, and seasoned "fruit inspector"* I can confidently state the there is more godly wisdom & compassion for humanity displayed by Iran, Russia, Iraq, Syria & Palestine than ALL of the West & especially not by the likes of Pompeo, Pence, Robertson, etc

* "By their fruits you shall know them" NOT by words alone

Posted by: xLemming | Jun 24 2019 22:37 utc | 88

I didn't attack you, I just said you don't look to be interested in debate and dialogue in the forum. You sound like a dedicated political activist though.
But, in case you are looking at real debate regarding the question you asked: my understanding is that any power struggle need tools to advance its goals and in this particular situation it looks like MEK is used like a dispensable one. Now, is the calculation behind this choice accurate ? this is really out for debate.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 22:52 utc | 89

@48 op

This may be totally naive, but how about this... Iran gets a couple nukes from somewhere, ie. NK, Russia, Pakistan, India, Walmart... and announce it & put an end to this drawn out dance... and force Israel, US, etc to come to terms with it. This is a war after all, and Iran has been bullied long enough (as have we all)

Posted by: xLemming | Jun 24 2019 22:58 utc | 90

Laguerre @ 88:

I admit I have never been to Iran though I've met people who have visited the country as tourists. I have done some reading on the country's history.

Being an Islamic theocracy, the fact that Iran uses the hijri calendar is no surprise. The calendar is actually a lunar calendar of 12 months that is at least a week or a fortnight shorter than the Gregorian calendar we normally use. (This explains why every year Ramadan starts earlier than it did the previous year.) 21st March on the other hand is Nowruz (Persian New Year) which among other things celebrates the spring equinox and is an inheritance from pre-Islamic Persia.

I have read some information about the bonyads (charitable foundations) owned / managed by the IRGC and other government organisations. These trusts (non-profit so they are exempt from taxation) invest huge amounts in Iran's industries. Just the other day I was commenting at another blog about a senior military guy in the Iranian armed forces, General Hossein Salami, who works with a huge IRGC-associated engineering firm that controls over 800 firms and employs over 25,000 mostly technical and engineering staff. The income that bonyads obtain from a firm like Salami's firm and others, which in Western countries would be considered "profit", is distributed among IRGC members (or members of the other government agencies that run them) in the form of subsidies for education up to and including college / university level, healthcare and other social services.

My understanding is that most people who are members of the IRGC come from working class families and especially families who lost breadwinners or other men of draft age during the Iraq-Iran war (1980 - 1988).

Middle class and upper middle class layers would be the hardest hit by US sanctions on Iran (they are the ones importing and buying overseas goods, and have the most contacts with the Iranian diaspora) and won't have the protection of subsidies provided by bonyads or other government organisations.

Posted by: Jen | Jun 24 2019 23:12 utc | 91

@ATH 87

By his writings, Realist is more likely an Iranian and a monarchist, yearning for the old days. Old days had its good and bad. The same questions he asks, why mullahs this and that, he should ask the same of the late Shah. It applies to both. As for his assertion about the nuclear program under this government, those were all the Shah’s ideas and he wanted to be a nuclear power more than the mullahs.

Considering how many opportunities the late Shah squandered to take care of the masses, in many ways he is no different than the mullahs, otherwise he would still be there. The same fate is awaiting the mullahs eventually when the dust settles.

I do believe the Shah had the interest of the country at heart but he was pushing too many things, too fast and wanted to be a western country in the ME without regards for level of education of the masses of the time and their religious sensibilities. Those and a super corrupt family.

That eventually was his downfall along with, more importantly, not wanting to renew the consortium contract.

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 24 2019 23:22 utc | 92


John Bolton has just announced that he is recognizing Juan Guaido as the legitimate, interim president of Iran.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jun 24 2019 23:40 utc | 93

@Uncle Jon

Thanks for your explanations, although it brings more questions into my mind than answers. Like, how can one assert that the Shah had the interest of the country in heart, not the ones of his own dynasty and his early benefactors. He after all owned his power to the British and Americans and those where the ones that essentially gave the strategic direction of the country. Be it the White Revolution driving the internal affairs with all its ill-advised implementations, the creation of a moribund CENTO as a bulwark against the Soviet flank or putting the idea of "Gendarme of the Gulf" in the southern warm seas in his head. My opinion is more like the Shah was a servant of higher interests, not having a real sense of what ultimate state power is and because of this maybe getting carried away and pseudo-revolting against its masters at the end of his reign when the flow of oil money make him think invincible.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 24 2019 23:47 utc | 94

I have to say I find this talk of "the mullahs" disturbing.

I never see any collateral to demonstrate that the religious layer of Iran is actually harmful to the people in any way. And on the contrary, everything I read about how the religious layer is part of the governing system and the culture and welfare of the nation seems pretty reasonable to me.

I keep coming back to the thought that this is after all the religion of the people of this country. It is the particular way in which they approach the sacredness of the universe. I'm not persuaded that it's more intelligent to regard the universe as being not-sacred.

To accept the benignity of religious people in positions of power and influence within a state, you have to accept the positive aspects of religion, as well as the negative aspects. This is where a lot of potential acceptance fails, of course.


We keep hearing that it is the middle and upper classes that are disaffected with the government (although typically the term "regime" is used). But in this cold-hearted, neoliberal economic wasteland, surely the fact that the poor and the unprivileged are in support of their government is not a study in "populism" but rather a study in successful socialist principles at work?

And the link provided in the previous thread regarding Iran's leadership in the war on drugs stated that over 8,000 Iranian police have died fighting the flow of opium from Afghanistan. The position of the US in this trade is clear to everyone, and the reason to sanction Iran - precisely to shackle the Iranian interdiction of the drug flow - is also clear.

Iran strikes me very much as being like Cuba, in that its good works that yield no profit are greater than any that come from the western nations. Ir almost seems that only a socialist, revolutionary nation has freed itself from the shackles of greed enough to pursue actions purely from moral concern.

I like Khamenei. I envy a country that has a moral anchor such as he, a force that acts not as its captain but as its pilot.


No particular point to make. Just some words in support of devotion to the sacred, and the moral strength to live a life, and direct a country, along moral lines, rather than criminal.

Posted by: Grieved | Jun 24 2019 23:59 utc | 95

yearning for the old days. Old days had its good and bad.

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 24, 2019 7:22:28 PM | 95

Uncle Joon, I am not "yearning" for yesterday.

I am very forward looking. Because, as you note, I am Iranian and nourished by the wisdom of Iranians from prior generations, stretching back thousands of years. You literally have no idea ..

And I find these past 40 years that the spectacle of the Mullah Regime is un-Iranian in its ideas, speech, and activities. It reminds of the gang that has taken over America leading it down a path clearly ending in (at best) its diminishment.


Since you ask nicely, NYTimes, Guardian, NPR, ("fressshhhh aaaiiir" -- lol. get it?), etc. could trivially demolish the Mullah Regime with effective propaganda but instead they float such over the top crap (designed to be unpacked as "absurdities" and "injustices" and "lies" by fellows such as 'b' and the audience in Iran).


I have another question:

- Is it "wisdom" and "following the Imams of Shia" to have mobs chant "death to this" and "death to that" for 40 years? Even Wikipedia has accounts of Imams addressing this very topic of "how to interact with enemies".

And no, it did not involve acting like double digit iq morons.

Posted by: Realist | Jun 25 2019 0:11 utc | 96

@| 95

The Shah came to power with USA + UK coup on 1953, he lacked legitimacy, that was his main problem, he was not an indepdendt legimtimate ruler.

Understanding Iran revolution and the long historical march is too complicated. On the surface and apperance it seems on political, ideoligical/ theoligical levels, but the movement is deeply in cultural and social level. Otherwise it would not be able to survive, resist and grow for 40 years. It may take another 40-50 years the movement bear fruits.

Posted by: Arata | Jun 25 2019 0:12 utc | 97

@ATH 97

The Shah was a tragic figure in many ways. You are correct about being the servant of his masters until he outgrew that and started having Persian Empire ambitions. Perhaps too soon for the politics of the era. The west of the 1970’s preferred a King Hussein of Jordan. Quiet, unpretentious and cooperative.

The Shah was a super intelligent, extremely well informed and well-read, and a great debater. No journalist was a match for him, not even the crass and arrogant Mike Wallace. But inherently, he was a weak man with a character that did not match his ambitions. That weakness did not allow him to follow through with his plans and he had great plans for his country.

Having said that, IMHO, the Seven Sisters’ decision to remove him, and him capitulating so easy, was one the biggest mistakes in modern geopolitics. Look what has happened since then. Furthermore, Dynasties and kings are in Persian DNA. I often laugh at the talk of democracy in Iran, as you cannot have 4-5 Iranians sit together and agree to disagree. One idea always has to come on top and the rest be damned.

Obviously, there are so many other factors and it would a lengthy discussion best to have over a nice Cuban cigar and a single Malt.

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 25 2019 0:14 utc | 98

The latest sanctions are virtually nothing. What's the point? To make nothing look like you are doing something. I have almost perfected that myself at work.

Posted by: dltravers | Jun 25 2019 0:15 utc | 99

Not to in any way absolve Trump, but as long as Bolton and Pompeo are on the scene there will be blood. Bolton in particular should be in jail for crimes against humanity. He is a madman. Scary times.

Posted by: Qualtrough | Jun 25 2019 0:15 utc | 100

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