Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 21, 2019

White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story - He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran

Last night U.S President Trump allegedly pulled back from a military strike against Iran after it had already been ordered.

That is the official story but there are doubts that it is true. The Iranian campaign of "maximum pressure" against Trump's sanctions is still on. But there are first signs that it is successful.

The New York Times headlines: Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back

WASHINGTON — President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

The NYT story blames the hawks in the Trump administration, Bolton, Pompeo and CIA torture queen Gina Haspel, for arguing for a strike. The Pentagon and some congressional leaders are said to have been against it. The NYT report includes this curious paragraph:

Asked about the plans for a strike and the decision to hold back, the White House declined to comment, as did Pentagon officials. No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article.

The Associated Press has a similar story: US prepped for strikes on Iran before approval was withdrawn. The Washington Post and ABCNews also report along the same line. The White House is clearly pushing this version of the story.

But not everyone is buying the claim of a planned attack that was called back. Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar on international conflicts, remarks:

Jeffrey Lewis @ArmsControlWonk - 3:43 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

I don’t buy this. Trump’s team is trying to have it both ways — acting restrained but talking tough. This is pretty much what Nixon did in 1969, too. Why not just admit that sometimes restraint is smart?

The @nytimes ran the same story Nixon in 1969. 🤷‍♂️ Nixon was not going to retaliate but he wanted people to think he almost did — and the Gray Lady obliged. ---> Aides Say Nixon Weighed Swift Korea Reprisal

Elijah Magnier, a journalist with excellent sources in Tehran, also rejects the NYT claim. Pointing to the NYT story he remarks:

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 4:02 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

This is highly inaccurate and Iran "knew" about it yesterday: the US administration whispered this info for Trump to save his face.

I hinted to this info yesterday before it was released this morning by the US media. Iran - sources - rejected the "war-theatre scenario". More details this evening.

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 19:41 UTC - 20 Jun 2019

I have very valuable information on US intel sending a message to the Iranians to agree on a certain scenario to happen.
This and much more information will force me to write an article tomorrow (hopefully) on #Iran and #US crisis.

After the drone shoot down the price of oil jumped 10%. Trump will have noticed that. He was also already warned by Iran that there is no room for talks and that any strike against it would have deadly consequences:

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent.
The second official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision ... However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

The whole storyline of "a strike was ordered but Trump held back and saved the day" might well be fake.

When Trump spoke to the press yesterday afternoon he was already playing down the Iranian downing of a U.S. Global Hawk drone. As we wrote in the update to yesterday's drone story:

Trump just held a press conference in the Oval Office. He seemed to play down (vid) the event. He empathized that the drone was unmanned. He said he had "a big, big feeling" that "someone made a mistake", that "some Iranian general probably made a mistake". That means that he does not accuse the government of Iran of the shoot down, but some lowly grunt who "might have made a mistake."

That statement gives him room to avoid a large retaliation.

A strike in retaliation for the downed drone may have never been on the table. An alternative interpretation is that the U.S. sought agreement for a symbolic 'strike' from Iran. It would hit some empty desert place to allow Trump to save face. Iran would have disagreed with that plan.

But there are also signs that some strike was really in preparation:

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙡 𝘾𝙧𝙖𝙗 @IntelCrab - 3:26 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

Not sure I have an opinion yet on this NYT piece, but I will say one thing...the HF traffic we've seen today is consistent with the assertion that at least SOME sort of strike package was authorized.

Unusual High Frequency radio traffic pointed to strike preparation, says the open source analyst IntelCrab.

There is also a different plausible explanation why an imminent strike might have been called back. From the Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Plant Struck by Missile, Apparently From Yemen
Senior U.S. officials called back to White House after desalination facility in kingdom hit

Senior officials from a range of U.S. government agencies were called back to the White House to meet Wednesday evening, the official said.

“The President has been briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday. “We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies.”

The Houthi, aka Ansar Allah, yesterday hit the Saudi desalination and electricity plant at Al-Shuqaiq near the southern Saudi city Jizan. The Saudis confirmed the strike:

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Ansar Allah, confirmed the attack, saying a hostile projectile that had yet to be identified landed near the Al-Shuqaiq water desalination plant, but caused no casualties or damage. He added that it was another example of the rebels deliberately attacking civilian targets.

This must have come as a shock for the Saudis. Some 75% of the water the Saudis use comes from desalination plants. Their people will die of thirst when those get destroyed. Did the Saudi King call the White House and urge it to call off the strike against Iran because he feared for his water resources? Was this the real reason why the White House called back its advisors and canceled the strike?

The Houthi also launched an large attack on Jizan airport:

Brasco_Aad @Brasco_Aad - 18:17 UTC - 20 Jun 2019

Mass Houthi drone attack on Jizan airport tonight.
Saudi witnesses are reporting significant damage in and around the airport.

Flights to Jizan were delayed after the reported strike.

The recent Houthi hits on Saudi Arabia are notable escalations in their quality and extent. The Houthi have obviously received new weapons. Their actions are part of the Iranian campaign to put "maximum pressure" on Trump. As Abdel Bari Atwan writes:

The US’ Israeli and Gulf allies have been exploiting Trump’s stupidity to try to drag him into a war against Iran on their behalf. The Iranians are trying to impress on him that any such war would incur an exorbitant cost on the US, and also on those allies – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned that any war would not be confined to Iran but set the entire region ablaze.

Even if there is no direct US attack, the Iranians will not simply sit back and wait to be starved into submission by Trump’s embargo and halting of their oil exports. That is another thing the US president does not understand. And he may never understand it until he sees the extent of their retaliation against his country’s forces, warships and bases, and his allies’ cities, airports, and power and desalination plants.

Trump wages an economic war on Iran through sanctions on everything Iran exports or imports. Iran is doing its best to to push back against this by creating incidents that are plausibly deniable but put Trump under maximum pressure. But there are now signs that Trump is finally getting that.

Yesterday evening Tucker Carlson, a FOX News host with a direct line to the White House, had two strong anti-war segments on his show (vid). In the second segment Carlson talks with retired army Colonel Douglas McGregor. Both argue for pulling back on sanctions. This was likely a preplanned exchange (at 9:56 min) designed to give Trump cover for his decision:

Carlson: Is there some good reason to maintain this level of sanctions against Iran? Are we getting something out of that?

McGregor: Well, I think the idea was to destroy the Iranian economy to bring the nation to its knees. That is really not what we should be trying to do at this point. I think the president senses that there is now an opportunity for diplomacy, for a new approach to Iran that could deescalate this set of conditions and produce a positive outcome.

Look, this will ruin our economy if we engage Iran in a war. Iran will have instantly have support from around the world. They will be the victim of this "limited strike" that is being discussed. The limited strike idea is sheer insanity. It will provoke a war. Everyone, China, Russia, India, many European states will come to the aid of Iran. We will end up with a larger coalition of the willing against us, than we have seen in decades.

I think the president has figured this out. He's got good instincts. But he needs to get rid of the warmongers. He needs to throw these geniuses and their limited strikes out of the Oval Office. The last thing the America First agenda needs is a stupid pointless unnecessary war with Iran and he knows that and he needs to act.

[Tucker Carlson agrees]

Trump may well want some diplomatic exchange with Iran. But Iran will not talk to him as long as the sanctions against it are kept in place. It will continue its maximum pressure campaign by creating new incidents that will again increase the price of oil. The easiest way out for Trump is to abolish sanctions against Iran. He at least should issue waivers for China and others to allow them to again buy Iranian oil.

Unless he does so Iran will hit again and again against those who press for war against it. Yesterday it was a U.S. drone and a Saudi desalination plant that were the targets. The next incident could be in some oil facility in the United Arab Emirates or a symbolic strike against Israel.

The ball is still in Trump's court. He has to act further to avoid a larger war.

Posted by b on June 21, 2019 at 9:06 UTC | Permalink

next page »

B can you confirm, your timestamp is that European time? So we know how old any piece of fresh info is. Thanks!

Posted by: Anon2 | Jun 21 2019 9:13 utc | 1

There's something odd going on here. What the abandoned strike will recall is the failed attempt under Carter to rescue the American hostages at the embassy in Tehran, where the attempt was abandoned after a crash at an isolated airstip in the desert. So today's story is negative for the credibility of US military policy - another US attempt to attack Iran fails. I can't see why the US puts out this story voluntarily

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 21 2019 9:24 utc | 2

Tucker Carlson is the second most powerful person in America. He may have prevented WW lll.

Posted by: Paul b | Jun 21 2019 9:40 utc | 3

Some key points from the New York Times article this morning: Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back (via MSN, no paywall)

Neocons want war, the Pentagon hesitates:

Mr. Trump’s national security advisers split about whether to respond militarily. Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.

Democrats oppose war.

Congressional Democrats emerged from the president’s classified briefing in the Situation Room and urged Mr. Trump to de-escalate the situation. They called on the president to seek congressional authorization before taking any military action.

Iran makes a convincing argument that the American drone was in Iranian airspace. (I am surprised that the New York Times published this.)

Iran’s government fiercely disputed the president’s characterization, insisting that the American drone had strayed into Iranian airspace. Iran released GPS coordinates that put the drone eight miles off the country’s coast, inside the 12 nautical miles from the shore that Iran claims as its territorial waters.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a letter to the Security Council that the drone ignored repeated radio warnings before it was downed. He said that Tehran “does not seek war” but “is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air.”

Actually there is no international airspace between Oman and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz (as pointed out by MofA yesterday). The strait is an international waterway, but this freedom of navigation does not extend into the air. Likewise Russian warships are free to pass the Danish and the Turkish without needing or asking anyone for permission. Russian bombers cannot fly through the straits without Danish or Turkish permission.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jun 21 2019 9:43 utc | 4

Centcom publicly says that the drone "had not violated Iranian airspace at any time".
That tweet shows a flight path different to the one published by Iran.

The coordinates given by Iranian FM Javad Zarif were well inside the 12 mile limit (I measured about 8 nm from the Iranian coast on Google Earth)

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 21 2019 9:46 utc | 5

I would tend to think that the key aim of this Trump-approved leak is, more than anything else, to put the spotlight on Pompeo and Bolton as dangerous warmongers. This way, he will have the support of a majority of the country if he ever has the guts to fire them - and he, amazingly, appears as the adult in the room, as opposed to the fools he's surrounded himself with. Of course, my reasoning assumes that whole thing is for national public consumption and there isn't much thought about the international impact and interpretation of such a leak.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jun 21 2019 9:58 utc | 6

Iran immediately claimed responsibility for downing the drone. Does that put an end to the theory that they were engaged in a campaign of stealth attacks?

If Iran/Iran proxies weren't engaged in such a campaign, then who was?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 10:04 utc | 7

Iran was able to track the Global Hawk drone throughout it's flight.

Question: Where was the Global Hawk when the shipping was being attacked? Were they tracking any other drones when ships were attacked?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 10:05 utc | 8

Iran’s Carefully Coded Message
The recent strikes make clear that Iran’s enemies won’t be able to bypass it in the Persian Gulf.

Did Iran Just Invite a U.S. Attack?
“This country will not stand for it,” Trump says after drone shootdown.

Trump Is Playing Iran’s Game of Drones
Contrary to popular belief, drones aren’t further destabilizing global conflicts—they’re creating a way for leaders to de-escalate crises.

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 21 2019 10:09 utc | 9

After the drone shoot down the price of oil jumped 10%. Trump will have noticed that.

Except it only jumped 6%. Still way off its April highs.
If the oil price is telling us anything is that there is much too much of it lieing around for the market to get scared easily.

Generally b has convinced me that Iran have the upper hand in all of this and know it. although when push comes to shove Europe will be solidly pro-US.

Posted by: Michael Droy | Jun 21 2019 10:12 utc | 10

Isn't it part of the toolkit to strike empty desert and lift sanctions at the same time, and give the other party the option to choose which one to emphasize?

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jun 21 2019 10:12 utc | 11

How the Situation Room meeting on Iran has ended:

Posted by: John Smith | Jun 21 2019 10:13 utc | 12

Iran is showing drone debris it has collect. A lot of latest hightech and no doubt secret snooping gear on that drone. US would have been planning hitting the Iranians picking up the interesting bits.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jun 21 2019 10:17 utc | 13

Fascinating play by Trump but I am still gonna paint MAGA on some old red hat and hang a yellow ribbon around it. Just to manifest the ignorance and stupidity of the Trump administration. I will place it in the banana grove where the monkeys play.

If the Houthis can take out some of the sea water supply lines to Saudi oilfields that could really dent the production.

No wonder they tried to get their crooked little mate Guaido to oust Maduro in Venezuela, they wanted oil security on the cheap as yankees do. The B team will now push for a fast finale to the struggle in Libya so they can get a second oil stream on line from a new 'ally' and well away from Saudi Arabia and the conflict zone. Methinks there wont be too much friendship coming from Libya anytime soon though.

The Trump has been played, the oil price is up and will stay up and no one trusts the USA any more least of all Iran!! Look what happened to the last deal they made with EU and USA. Meanwhile there are a few alienated groups throughout the world who have learned that oil tankers are vulnerable and can be assured that 'the market' will drive the success of every hit by ten to one. Nothing like having the market on your side.

Message to next President in 2020: try diplomacy and be nice to others (especially don't listen to snake whispers) and things might go easy on you for your first term.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jun 21 2019 10:18 utc | 14

The timing of these events is very important.

Am I correct that USA was seeking an agreement with Iran to accept a bombing AFTER the shipping attacks but BEFORE the downing of the Global Hawk?

If so, then Trump's statement that someone in Iran made a mistake makes sense. They thought they made Iran an offer it could not refuse: accept a limited bombing to avoid a much larger bombing.

And Iran's statement after the downing of the Global Hawk (essentially: now they have our answer) makes more sense also.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 10:19 utc | 15

Anyone who has drinking into the late evening in British or Irish pubs has seen this little bit of theatre played out a hundred times, at least. Boring!

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jun 21 2019 10:26 utc | 16

And now... introducing the curious case of a Philadelphia Oil refinery 'accident'.

A bridge too far, or the ultimate deniable FU to Trump?

Posted by: EtTuBrute | Jun 21 2019 10:58 utc | 17

i'm thinking Trump's an imbecile, but not a psychopath, and thus the dyslexia emanating from Washington. point being that anything he gets right is for all the wrong reasons.

but he's certainly surrounded by psychopaths whose, being psychopaths, biggest fear is that of losing control. and that's exactly what's happening, the mask is slipping. compulsive pathological lying, manipulation and deception will of course ensue, in reams, and they'll never capitulate, but their exposure is strangely ingratiating.

psychopaths only relinquish power when it is pried from their cold, dead hands

Posted by: john | Jun 21 2019 11:01 utc | 18

"No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article."

That sentence also struck me as .... odd.... when I first read it.

The NYTimes is sending an important message with that sentence. Something they can't spell out, but important nonetheless.

No idea what it is, but it's something.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jun 21 2019 11:02 utc | 19

IMO, limited bombing of Iran would've set a precedent for more and more bombing of Iran. The attacks on shipping set up the excuse to demand that Iran accede to such an arrangement.

It seems very likely that Israel was behind the attacks on shipping and that the chickenhawks knew this but the Pentagon didn't. The Pentagon would almost certainly have had to have been informed if the CIA had done the deed.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 11:07 utc | 20

If Iran had waited for the first US SEAD operation before escalating, it would have been too late to prevent war, as it is the Iranians most likely have already escalated but they've given Washington the option to plausibly deny that there has been escalation.

There is enough ambiguity about the attacks on the tankers for Washington to "investigate" a bit further and blame it on ISIS, Al Qaeda, MeK, etc.

That the drones transponder was switched off shortly after takeoff and remained off allows Washington to "investigate" a bit further and report that following a technical fault the drone had gone off course and entered Iranian airspace. Another problem for Washington with the drone is that if the drone was intentionally in Iranian airspace it was on a hostile mission which would be casus belli for the Iranians to get it on with the US but the Iranians are far too polite to do that.

BTW, the threats of imminent attacks on Iran most likely came in a off-the-record "briefing" from Bolton and Pompeo while Trump was asleep/tweeting. Then the adult in that weird menage a trois got involved and sanity prevailed. Trump has everything he needs to "resign" Bolton and Pompeo but as always it's best to have them inside the tent..........

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jun 21 2019 11:08 utc | 21

It is amazing that wars are threatened or started not after investigations and/or through the UNSC, rather on knee jerk reactions from politicians who are under pressure to 'do something, anything' we have seen this with the Skripal saga and other issues, Gadaffi's soldiers fed Viagra before a battle etc, even to the extent of accusing competitors Russia and China of nefarious activities [mostly without proof] both of whom could destroy their accusers with the flick of a switch. That's where we are today, no International law, just leaders listening to megalomaniac advisors and radio show stars and watching their poll numbers as barometers on whether to potentially start WW3.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 21 2019 11:09 utc | 22

Follow-up @20

The cozy relationship between US neocons/Deep State and Israel is nothing new, but I think the Trump Administration has taken it to new heights depths.

I wrote of at MoA of my suspicions that Israel's Christmas Eve attack on Damascus airport was coordinated with Trump's announcement of a "pull out" from Syria which was made 11 days before (if I recall correctly).

Alt-media speculated that Israel's attack was an attempt to get SAA to down a civilian airliner just as it had previously gotten SAA to down a Russian spy plane. The super high-profile of Trump's announced "pull out" from Syria (which strangely prompted the resignation of Gen. Mattis) is all the more curious when one realizes that if SAA had downed a civilian airliner, Trump almost certainly would've reversed his "pull out" decision and probably would've done much more: added lots more troops and/or bombed Syria (again). The American people and US allies would've supported Trump in light of what appeared to his peaceful intentions.

As everyone now knows, Trump's oh-so-ardent Syrian "pull out" order was slowly walked back as Bolton and others worried about a Turkish attack on the Kurds.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 11:10 utc | 23

Yeah, Right @19

There are potential political repercussions to what Trump did (poorly thought-out order to attack Iran, push-back from Pentagon, etc.)

For that reason, it's notable that no one at the WH objected to the story that was fed to NYTimes.

<> <> <> <> <> <>

Did Trump just lose the 2020 election?

Democrats should focus on the dumbass decision to attack but they'll probably focus on Trump's HEROIC!! decision to rescind the attack instead. Because the Empire is a bipartisan project.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 11:30 utc | 24

Contrary to popular belief, drones aren’t further destabilizing global conflicts—they’re creating a way for leaders to de-escalate crises.

Posted by: John Smith #9

Yeah sure, only they have a few more dimensions that cause grave concern. But in this case its a bit like a drone for a drone isn't it. The belligerents drone an oil tanker and try to blame Iran. Iran slams a drone and blames the USA and admits it dropped it because a: it was spying on their lands, b: it was in their territory, c: it was yet another statement of who has power and reach in the Gulf.

Trump is f#cked as they say in these parts. Consider that a dirt cheap little toy plane can take the oil price hostage especially when the market goes ballistic jittery about risk and future contracts. That is what I would call arming the enemy. Try and sell that excuse to the USA motorists.

Russia will be laughing all the way to the bank with more oil dollars. That is the bank that Russia owns and not some Wall street casino bank.

Maybe that moron $hillary Clinton was right, Trump and his knuckle dragging belligerents are beholden to Putin.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jun 21 2019 11:36 utc | 25

US Drone without IFF (so only visible on primary radar without identification), without filing a flight plan, without radio communication with the ATC authority of the Iran FIR (Flight Information Region) in violation of all ICAO rules.

The exceptional nation in action....

Posted by: JR | Jun 21 2019 11:42 utc | 26

Iran has stated clearly that it shot down the drone only after it flew into Iranian territorial waters. There was, however, an interesting comment from a senior Iranian official about where an aircraft could be to be considered to be intruding:

"Speaking in Russia, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani stressed that the country would exercise all its efforts to defend its aerial, maritime and land borders.

"Our FIR (flight information region) is actually our red line. No matter whose plane trespasses into our FIR, we have always given and will give a harsh response to intruders," he said."

The FIR is the area that Iranian air-traffic control is responsible for monitoring. It extends further out than the borders of the territorial waters which are 12 miles from land.

So it looks like Iran has set even tougher rules of engagement for any aircraft that the USA might want to send in future.

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 21 2019 11:56 utc | 27

The FIR is actually literally a red line in the map posted by Javad Zarif in his tweet, if I understand it correctly

Posted by: Brendan | Jun 21 2019 12:00 utc | 28

Laguerre 2 - the stage is now maximum restraint and effort at co-operation, which Iran will be expected to respect. That means one more act against US (or false flag by US) and strikes will occur. Not comparable to hostage crisis, here US is projecting being reasonable, even if you read that as being weak.

10 - global economy is slow even with oil at current price, not to do with volume, which is all taken . If you take away volume and up prices then global econ will tank, it would be financial mayhem. Weaker countries would pay most dearly in real terms , US would readjust with own supply. Very bad scenario, talking about global upheaval, national upheavals.

To add to the difficulty of understanding what is occuring, the rest of the world has to try to figure if there is some kind of power struggle in US, if the president is properly informed. Maybe this is the US side of plausible deniability being used symmetrically wrt the Iranian. Don't be fooled, the pressure is extreme for both sides now, this is not just a show. I do not see a path to resolution, that one be found.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 21 2019 12:04 utc | 29

This might be the reason why it has been stopped...

Posted by: Laladge | Jun 21 2019 12:08 utc | 30

When cats want to fight they first do a short preliminary fake fight. Comparison. If it shows the forces arevery different and fight result is but predestined - they skip it.

When pre-medieval armies came together they often sent two champions to fight. If one champion shown his skills or equipment overwhelmingly better, then perhaps all-armies skirmish could be skipped.

When Trump sent "new smart missiles" to Syria, he called Putin's bluff about quality of Russian AA/AD. And Putin was calling Trump's bluff.

I am thinking, if thete were indeed some "plans" leaked to Iran and requirement that Iran "followed the script", could it be that very checking, again?
USA bluffs they will dispatch modern stealth bombers and destroy Iran.
Iran bluffs about taking any bombers out of the sky.
How to check it? Call both bluffs in a controlled limited experiment. USA dispatches a secure vehicle tuned to avoid air defense, Iran tries to attack it. By the experiment result both Tehran and Washington adjust their war plans.

Posted by: Arioch | Jun 21 2019 12:10 utc | 31

Speaking of psychopaths, DC is full of them and FOX loves them.
Today's talking points on Network news:
Fox/CNN host and Neocon Goon:
'Trump exercised caution and prudence but a limited military strike in response to Iran shooting down a drone in international air space is warranted'.
'But if we don't respond doesn't that risk making us look weak and invite even more aggression?'
'Exactly which is why a limited military strike is warranted like we did in Syria, such as attacking the missile battery that attacked our drone which was in international air space'.

I've heard this at least three times this morning, it's like listening to a Commissar.
1. It has not occurred to these goons that Iran might not accept their punishment like a petulant schoolboy and they might respond with an actual strike of their own and not throwing a stick of dynamite in Lebanon.

2. We do not need to react to the downing of a drone like it was Pearl Harbor. It doesn't make us look strong, we look like babies. The Russians din't react when one of their pilots was murdered by the Turks, does anyone call the Russians weak? Oh, and we rubbed their noses in it.

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Jun 21 2019 12:11 utc | 32

Appears Trump is playing role of the moderate in the administration.
Using military as prop in re-election scheme.
The situation has not changed for Iran, they are cornered and cut-off from revenue.
Economic sanctions against third party are act of (or leading to) war.
They are justified in doing what they need to do.
Best option: Price of oil.
The other "developed" nations cower as U.S. picks-off the vulnerable.
Will be their turn in time, as needed.

Posted by: jared | Jun 21 2019 12:12 utc | 33

And there’s more more more to the story
What you so often read
Isn’t always so

“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said on Friday, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.

“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 onboard, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do [shoot down] it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”

Posted by: Kasraniawaran | Jun 21 2019 12:21 utc | 34

I don't know enough to say of one is better than the other except that ICAO FIRWORLD only requires allowing ICAO to run flash while JR's link (which does seem "improved" in the web 2.0 sense i.e. worse) requires giving permission to a whole slew of entities including several US ones (both government and commercial including CIA-Google) in order to function so I would rather avoid that. The dataset as far as FIR is concerned is at least for now identical (2015 "rules" seem to be the latest).

And of course the US military will ignore ICAO because of the C for Civilian. Same reason why they're so good at getting hit by tankers.

It's been too long since I've said "fuck the US" so: fuck the US! :D

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jun 21 2019 12:21 utc | 35

If it is about FIR then perhaps it is international obligation fo Iran to keep the zone clear from any flying objects not in contact with ATC?

Posted by: Arioch | Jun 21 2019 12:33 utc | 36

@Harry Law, 22

This war has been thouroughly planned for some years now.
They are just waiting, looking for plausible cause and opportunity.
If you have not been following the thread:
U.S. is trying to provoke Iran by threatening, infringing, isolating and starving.
Same as Syria, Russia, Venezuela and now Iran and then China (the list grows).

Posted by: jared | Jun 21 2019 12:41 utc | 37

Yeah Right - 19
My take is that NYT now openly admits that they don't run some stories because the US administration orders them to stay quiet. That this has slipped could be a hint that there are a few people there that aren't happy to be a mere propaganda tool for the establishment or for the government.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jun 21 2019 12:44 utc | 38

Iran immediately claimed responsibility for downing the drone. Does that put an end to the theory that they were engaged in a campaign of stealth attacks? If Iran/Iran proxies weren't engaged in such a campaign, then who was?
by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21, 2019 6:04:43 AM | 7 <= now mister jackrabbit that is a 64 dollar question.. ?

I would suggest to look at some private oil companies.. they can hire all of the so called security forces they want to..
Don't for get the little bombing that took place the other day, as an example of what I mean, protecting privately owned oil interest in Burjesia is of no value to the masses of the governed in America?
Burjesia, also houses the headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA. <==Rocket lands at oil hub.. injures 3 now do you suppose one of these fat cats set up to bomb one of the other fat cats in the oil business?

Not for a minute do I think Trump called off the strike against Iran, Trump may not be able to campaign money until he destroys Iran. telling people he backed off.. and letting WaPo and NYT and others spin the yarn is a Trumpy kind of thing.. its a Trumpy deception special.. have you noticed the MO? He has done it before several times.

Posted by: snake | Jun 21 2019 12:44 utc | 39

"Iran refrained from targeting US plane with 35 on board flying beside downed drone – commander"

Seems like cards will be placed on the table one at the time.

Posted by: Acolyte | Jun 21 2019 12:54 utc | 40

The stand down orders are coming quicker. Probably time to try some diplomacy.
I think Russia displayed it's military dominance over the US when it stopped the US attack on Syria on April 13, 2018. I think this was paradigm shifting.
I think they are serious though about limiting future damage done by the US.

I think there was a good reason that Mattis came out less than an hour after the attack started and said 'ok we're done'

Also, I think the financial worries are overblown. I think the world would be much better off being less dependent on the USD. These worries help feed financial institution welfare.

Posted by: financial matters | Apr 18, 2018

Posted by: financial matters | Feb 9, 2019 2:49:52 PM | 168

Posted by: financial matters | Jun 21 2019 13:00 utc | 41

it could just as easily be theatre (borrowing from Cuba crisis):
1. B-team ostentatious overeager thrust for war.
2. leader holds it all back just in time.
3. leader (to audience) .. i held them back this time. If only Iran would see sense and submit.

- repeat as necessary

Posted by: mijj | Jun 21 2019 13:02 utc | 42

One thing is clear, the Iranians need to get the US to lift those economic sanctions, they cannot afford to wait until millions of their own people are starving to death. Previously the US imposed such sanctions on Iraq causing the deaths of 500,00 children, Sec of State Madeline Albright said later that these deaths 'were a price worth paying'. So Iran must do something. The weakest links are the Saudi/UAE warmongers who are trying to get the US to attack Iran. They were instrumental in arming the head choppers in Syria by supplying tow missiles and other ordinance, plus the economic means to support Islamic state, [with US approval] therefore it is logical for the Iranians to support the Houthis in their war with 'the weakest links' It will be difficult but Iran must give the Houthis everything they need. If the US can arm proxy fighters in Syria, then Iran should do the same for Yemen against the Saudis. [All with plausible deniability of course.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 21 2019 13:07 utc | 43

@21 Ghost Ship

BTW, the threats of imminent attacks on Iran most likely came in a off-the-record "briefing" from Bolton and Pompeo while Trump was asleep/tweeting. Then the adult in that weird menage a trois got involved and sanity prevailed. Trump has everything he needs to "resign" Bolton and Pompeo but as always it's best to have them inside the tent..........

That's ridiculous! Trump is a rabid Zionist. He's doing Adelson's bidding. If he's keeping them there, it's not because it's best like keeping enemies closer. He's a freakin' Zionist; they're all thick as THEIVES. Quit that bullshet already!


Iran doesn't need to renegotiate SQUAT. Iran is in the driver's seat. Trump is an IDIOT LOSER. He needs to restore the JCPOA Iran deal, or go to hell! He needs to be defeated in 2020, or thrown out of office! IMPEACH THE BASTARD ALREADY, Pelosi, or RESIGN!

Posted by: Circe | Jun 21 2019 13:09 utc | 44

@34 Kas
"“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 onboard, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do [shoot down] it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”

Interesting is the fact that the war mongers seem to have no problem using their own fodder for bait.

An ability that I doubt most Lefty's would use.

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 13:19 utc | 45

Trump, via RT:

"On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not....

Donald J. Trump

....proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!"

A typical Trumpian melange of lies, delusions, traces of common sense, and functional prudence.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jun 21 2019 13:22 utc | 46

Now when they say the drone was flying at 60,000 feet , was the P8 also flying that high? Could the rocket have hit the P8 by accident?

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 13:24 utc | 47

Whether Generalissimo Bone Spur and President Chief Kaiser of the USA, His Imperial Majesty Donald Trump, actually called for a stand down of any attack on Iran for the shooting down of a surveillance UAV, or he suddenly realized that such an act would touch off another unneeded war, is at this point in time a matter of some debate. What is clear however is that his Imperial Majesty must clean out his current foreign policy and national defense staff (Bolton, Pompeo, Haspel etc.) before another crisis develops. Otherwise the neocons that currently inhabit the Oval Office chicken hawk coop will be back at fomenting another crisis, which might actually give them the war they so dearly want. His Imperial Majesty appointed them and he can fire them.

Posted by: GeorgeV | Jun 21 2019 13:25 utc | 48

All this narrative fits Trump's modus operandi and his fake Alpha male persona.

Hire B-team actors whom he can fire at will, and for effect, as required to maintain the facade of 'dominance.' Let the dogs loose and then yank on their chains at the last minute. The master's voice etc.

His problem is: it only works in TV Reality Show land -- and only for a limited time between business-as-usual advertising.

He, and his cast of zio-policy diplomatic zombies have a much harder time when it comes to the real world and real national boundaries that resist and are likely to fight back.

Trump and US MIC is dangerous of course. But Trump has enough rat cunning to know when he's cornered. All he's done here with this alleged last minute "call back" is test prove his chain of command is working. (...or is it?)

Posted by: imo | Jun 21 2019 13:36 utc | 49

George V---
As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who the president has or who he is. Seems the US is perpetually seeking war or at the very least threatening war. War on drugs, war on poverty war on disinfo war, trade wars , unending list of WAR, WAR, WAR.

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 13:39 utc | 50

So from the NYT: "Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries."

That is the strangest thing: targets are mentioned, which would normally be a severe disclosure in times of 'war'.
What's up here?

Posted by: bjd | Jun 21 2019 13:43 utc | 51

@50 -- indeed. A cultural thing. Or, perhaps more correctly, the lack of culture (in the real sense of the word) in the US context resulting in the military (industrial-congressional) complex needing to fill that social niche. There are also numerous trade agreements that specify any number of conditions that apply ... except when, you guessed it, war is on the table. War on whatever du jour. Boy Bush pulled that trick back in post-9/11 days. It's been working just fine ever since.

Posted by: imo | Jun 21 2019 13:47 utc | 52

I cannot see any way that the current irrational sanctions against Iran by the US can be rolled back. All US administrations are full of hubris and in love with their own imagined gloriously supreme power. The only way they can be rolled back is if Iran offers some face-saving excuse, which they can't do. They have nothing else to give (Pompeo's 'conditions for international re-alignment' were essentially a demand for surrender and 'regime' change, probably authored by Maniac Walrus Bolton).

Sanctions were never justified in the first place. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has submitted to extra-ordinary inspections by the IAEA for decades. And gets ticks on the boxes. Anyone that thinks Iran is trying to 'build the bomb' probably believes unicorns live in the White House (the American one), and that Saddam blew up the Twin Towers.

Compare the western attitudes towards Iran, and those towards India and Pakistan. Neither of which have signed up to the NPT. Not a single whimper from western governments or their MSM propaganda channels, when those countries developed an arsenal of nuclear WMD's.

Posted by: Ant. | Jun 21 2019 13:48 utc | 53

My guess on what happened with Trump was the same MO as in Syria, he has a temper tantrum ("kill them all, even the Russians" as was rumored) and he was informed of the possible fallout from such an attack.
Trump will attack, just not yet. There is some new toy they want to try out. Shock and Awe style.

Posted by: Sorghum | Jun 21 2019 13:50 utc | 54

----OT--- In other news

"Escobar: Brazilgate Is Turning Into Russiagate 2.0"

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 14:03 utc | 55

@ arby 55

It looks like Bolonosario really is the SA Trump: installed by the bankers to loot the system even more in their favor.

Posted by: Sorghum | Jun 21 2019 14:15 utc | 56

While everybody is entertained with the drone and events in the Persian Gulf, as it susally goes lately, a coup d´etat is in the works in Georgia, against the moderate, not so russophobic as the US/UK need, recently elected government who wants to restore mutual beneficcial relations with its neighbors..

So far the President of Georgian Parliament have resigned, on the outcome of events last night when in the middle of an Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy with the participation of a Russian representative.

As the available videos illustrate, this is the same crowd on rollpay we are used to witness in the Maidan, on jeans bermudas and t-shirts or bare chest, wearing police helmets and shields, with both, the US and Ukrainian flags waving in the sides and amongst the crowd of "protestors".
It is also reported that the handlers were all English speakers....

Most of injured resulting, according to Georgian Health Ministry, belong to police members.

Posted by: Sasha | Jun 21 2019 14:23 utc | 57

While Trump, in full election campaign is selling that he ordered to stop the strike once he knew 150 people were going to die, what is true is that they were Iranians who refrained from targeting US plane with 35 on board flying beside downed drone....

Obviously The Donald, as a counterpunch, wants to capitalize on, his clearly absent, compassion ( as it is shown by his harsh economic sanctions against Iran as a result of which much more than 150 people will surely die, and the Yemen war in which the UASF under his command is decimating yemeni population at the sacle of genocide already recognized even by the UN..)

Posted by: Sasha | Jun 21 2019 14:32 utc | 58

The fact that the transponder was turned off is important because it essentially confirms that the drone was intended to “stray” into Iranian airspace from the get-go. Basically, it would ensure that Teheran would be certain this was a military aircraft (a civilian aircraft doesn’t just turn its transponder on and off at a whim), and would make it much more difficult for any civilian radars in the area to be able to confirm the exact position of the drone, such that it would always be a case of arguing whose military radar telemetry was truthful. It was intended to be at least targeted, further proven by the P8 shadowing it to pinpoint Iranian radar/launch sites. The whole operation was almost certainly to bait the Iranians into at least an attempted shoot down, while laying all the groundwork for a very limited and targeted (but mainly, face saving) response from Trump.

If you look at Korea and Syria, and even Trump’s prior business dealings, it is pretty clear his “art of the deal” is to let your opponent commit themselves, then act crazy and reckless and use every dirty trick to put the opponent in a bind, then try to make a new deal more favorable to himself. The limited strike stuff worked in Syria because Russia encouraged Syria to look at the long game, and that they were really turning the corner and getting the upper hand, so “taking” a harmless strike or two would not change that, whereas goading the US into a more serious campaign could indeed be pretty devastating for Syria at that time. Trump obviously loved that deal, and after deeming that he’d maximized the PR from it, even wanted to get out of Syria before anyone noticed he hadn’t really changed anything or defeated anyone. Unfortunately his financiers instructed him that he needed to stay, and he wasn’t strong enough to challenge them.

But with Iran, it’s different. The status quo is unacceptable to them, and they know they hold the world’s economy by its oily balls. The US has already gone too far, and Iran sees nothing in it for them to accept a “limited” strike to allow Trump to save face. To the contrary, that would only serve to solidify the status quo, which Iran cannot do. The PomBolSkal faction most likely ordered the latest tanker operation, but one charge fell off prior to detonation, the ships didn’t explode and sink, and the hurried efforts to manufacture “evidence” that Iran did it was so amateurish it made the Skripal business look professional. They likely ordered the drone bait operation, too, thinking they could once again play Trump into believing he could respond with a limited “Syria style” strike and look like a hero, all the while privately knowing and intending that massive escalation would be inevitable and they would finally get the war against Iran they really wanted.

Trump, though, had military school upbringing, and has shown a fair amount of respect for the military. During his campaign he surrounded himself with military figures, and his financiers permitted it as they (rightly) assumed it would increase his chances of getting elected, but quickly caused them to be replaced with their kindred spirits in PomBolSkal as soon as they could so their agenda could proceed. In this case, a major war with Iran was the goal, but in spite of Bolton and Pompeo, in particular, working hard to isolate Trump from input by the Pentagon, I have a feeling that after the faction cajoled Trump into ordering a strike, the Pentagon said enough is enough and got word to Trump in no uncertain terms that the outcome was not going to be like Syria, but was going to directly and quickly result in a massive escalation for which Trump would get the blame. I would suggest that’s when Trump ordered the strike to stand down, and why some loyal to him or the Pentagon told the news media to put that story out there, unabridged, laying the groundwork for Trump to can his “advisors.” Pompeo has been clearly blamed for the failure of progress in Korea, Bolton was blamed for the Venezuela fiasco, and Haskal was caught lying to trump about the Skripal affair. Trump is an opportunist and definitely does not like being embarrassed, and may use this as leverage to move those demons on out. One can only hope.

Posted by: J Swift | Jun 21 2019 14:32 utc | 59

Fantastic reporting, b.

Posted by: @Mechoed | Jun 21 2019 14:34 utc | 60

In the small minded world that is bureaucracy, limited attack on military attach would have made sense.
Suspect outside intervention by rational parties.

Posted by: jared | Jun 21 2019 14:36 utc | 61

On EU and wider thoughts

textuploader dot com/1dpfg

I won't reply to any comments on that, probably will not read any either, it is just a view, might make sense of something to someone.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 21 2019 14:51 utc | 62

Iran Crisis: Have We Learned Nothing From the Iraq War?

Calls for military action against Iran grew louder this week in response to the Trump administration’s claims that the Islamic Republic was responsible for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Many analysts and politicians, both in the U.S. and abroad, expressed skepticism of those claims. But the U.S. media appears to be falling into a familiar pattern, providing a sympathetic platform for the administration without fundamentally questioning its premises. What can we learn from the last push for a war in the Middle East 17 years ago? Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell during the run-up to the Iraq War, joins Mehdi Hasan to discuss the lessons of recent history.

Posted by: Zanon | Jun 21 2019 14:57 utc | 63

@46 Robert Snefjella

Cross out traces of common sense, and leave in functional prudence. Trump could care less about Iranian lives.

@42 mijj

It's way more fake and chickenshit than Cuba crisis scenario. Trump needed to save face so they're pretending he ordered strikes before he took them back. It's what I wrote yesterday. Trump is a chickenhawk.

So Trump added more sanctions. More hurt coming USA way.

Posted by: Circe | Jun 21 2019 14:57 utc | 64


"#Honduras 🇭🇳 Police announces to the media that it's joining the fight against the #US-backed regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez."

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 14:58 utc | 65

Pomp, Haskel or Bolton - we should see one of them fired soon. Trump would surely benefit politically from the disposal of any one of these cretins. And it fits the theme of the Trump television show AND Trumps natural inclination to avoid blame and to tar others with (sh)it.

If there is no shake up in the cabinet, then we will know that Trump is not "The Decider".

Is Lindsey Graham Cracker toning down his warmongering rhetoric?

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jun 21 2019 14:59 utc | 66

Roger A Evans US needs to remove ALL ISLAMIC people. There was a 1952 US law not to allow Islamics in. In the early 1990s it was dropped, sad! Need to get all the US military back to the US and load up ALL the 3.5 million Islam/Muslims back where they came from !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I passed this on FB

Posted by: Roger A Evans | Jun 21 2019 15:00 utc | 67

Inteesting, While the US is starting fires all over the place, lots of other ones they thought they had under control are flaming up.

Posted by: arby | Jun 21 2019 15:01 utc | 68

It should be noted that a somewhat higher oil price is no longer a clear negative for the US economy and may, in fact, by positive.
In the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s - oil prices rising would decrease US economic activity because most of the oil was imported.
Today, that is no longer true.
While higher oil prices costs consumers more, as before, today shale oil extraction means higher oil prices also translates into higher revenues for US businesses instead of cash being sent abroad. More jobs, more equipment orders, more shipping internally, etc.
The US had a multi-decade record low in oil imports in February - 175,000 barrels per day net imports (October 2018 through March 2019, excepting February, averaged a bit over 1M bpd) vs. roughly 20.5M bpd consumption.
To compare: US net imports in January 1981 averaged 6.27M bpd vs. roughly 16.5M bpd consumed per day.
So every $1 increase in oil price translates to $7B injected into domestic US oil industry, in turn converts some significant multiplier of US GDP to offset the potential reduction in consumer disposable income spend in areas excluding oil/gasoline costs. Arguably shale oil has a higher multiplier because it requires so much more exploration, drilling, transport and technology than "conventional" very large deposit oil.
In contrast, imported oil has pretty much no multiplier - a little for banks and international shipping, but not much.
This is what I mean when I say that the US is the least affected by a potential interruption in Persian Gulf oil, and potentially could positively benefit.

Posted by: c1ue | Jun 21 2019 15:03 utc | 69

@Roger A Evans #67
Wow, discriminate much?
Muslims are not all the same, nor are all Muslims radical Salafists.

Posted by: c1ue | Jun 21 2019 15:06 utc | 70

"The easiest way out for Trump is to abolish sanctions against Iran. He at least should issue waivers for China and others to allow them to again buy Iranian oil."

Yes, but that's not actually easy, and it's very unlikely Trump will do it. Remember how even Obama was kept on the defensive by our warmongering MSM wailing about the violation of his supposed "red lines?"

And Trump is much less disposed to change course when events have proved him wrong.

I'd say the likelihood of some short of shooting war/conflict is well over 50%.

Trump wants to avoid war if possible but won't eat all the words he's spoken in the last two years. Adelson, Bolton et al probably want war, though how they want that war to unfold is another question. Iran is trying to thread the needle. It needs enough conflict to create more energy havoc. Some sort of shooting beyond drones will probably be required for that.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 21 2019 15:11 utc | 71

NYT:Trump Stopped Strike on Iran Because It Was ‘Not Proportionate’

Still, there remained doubt inside the United States government over whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, this one flown by a military aircrew, did violate Iranian airspace at some point, according to a senior administration official. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike — which could under international norms be viewed as an act of war.

Posted by: Zack | Jun 21 2019 15:14 utc | 72

Two links to cassad items (in Russian but can be machine translated via Chrome):
This link contains photos of debris from drone (unfortunately, the skematic of drone flight path is incomplete)

This link portrays a sample of Hellfire missile damage (I am absolutely not certain as to whether it is a valid comparison but here it is FWIW):

Obviously,this blog is Russian "biased" but I have found that his information is generally accurate and he comes up with some current info, photos, videos, which I have not found elsewhere on a very timely basis.

Posted by: Thomas | Jun 21 2019 15:17 utc | 73

The US over played its card, this time with very little global support, thus Iran is clearly out performing the US on the total pressure strategy, the situation can go either way, still, but Iran has positioned itself in a stronger position to de escalate this new US mess. I still believe the US and its criminal allies in the ME will try to bomb Iran's allies in the region either in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or Lebanon.

Posted by: Canthama | Jun 21 2019 15:23 utc | 74

Trump: "We were cocked & loaded"

Only Trump doesn't know that the actual phrase is "locked and loaded" (or occasionally "locked and cocked.")

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 21 2019 15:26 utc | 75

One US Admin bleeds into the next in a seamless effort to increase chaos, war, coups, income disparity, environmental destruction, resource depletion...declining living standards for the masses and concentration of wealth for the one percent.

In 2009, Obama, H Clinton, and Lanny Davis facilitated the coup in Honduras, ousting socialist Zelaya and installing the current, criminal right wing government.

The austerity imposed upon the commons is evidently quite unbearable.

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jun 21 2019 15:26 utc | 76

arby @55 - yes a very interesting (in a sickening way) piece. And it only increased my apprehension about what exactly the US imperialists are up to with what appear to be simultaneous prods at the BRI, Eurasian partnerships, and BRICS association.

Iran is an important node in the BRI. Yes, Israel and Saudia want it destroyed, albeit for differing reasons and the US hates the Iranians for not having wanted to continue under their chosen dictatorship. But the US and its ruling corporate-capitalist-imperialist MIC elites want to maintain world dominance by hook and by crook and China's BRI and their growing friendly relations with Russia, creating the Mackinder no no, a Eurasian multilateral relationship of comity, trade and peace does not serve the US hegemon's intentions at all. So it is necessary to undermine it where it is, or appears to be, breakable, disruptable.

The troubles in Hong Kong over the extradition bill (which NPR and the Beeb continue to depict as only being between HK and China, ignoring that it is also with Taiwan). Keep the Chinese on edge politically, deepening the distrust in their relations with HK. Meanwhile also constantly prick and prod China with naval vessels (US, UK, FR) and air force planes "demonstrating" their force majuere well beyond their own countries' shores.

Remove Brazil from BRICS - one way or another - and reduce its ability to produce soybeans for the Chinese market. Thereby introducing another potential wedge between China and Russia.

Posted by: AnneR | Jun 21 2019 15:28 utc | 77

@ JS 59
Yes, on the transponder .. .and here's some more on that.

One key detail on the RQ-4 is that its transponder was turned off, in violation of international law, and at variance with all the other "interceptions" over international waters that we often read about.

The fact that the transponder was turned off is important because it essentially confirms that the drone was "stealth" flying where it should not be, over Iran territory. They knew it was wrong, but did it anyhow ignorantly believing that Iran couldn't do anything about it.

The US reaction to the shoot-down is telling. First, it was: "in international airspace" and then, correct that, it became “operating at high-altitude approximately 34 kilometers from the nearest point of land on the Iranian coast.” That presumably means the slant distance from the RQ-4 at 60,000 feet to Iran's coast, which if believed puts the aircraft very close to Iran's twelve-mile limit (as b said).

So looking at these statements it seems quite probable that General X who approved that flight believed that the waters of the narrow Strait of Hormuz were international waters, which they are (mostly) not, but territorial waters belong to Iran and Oman. But he didn't know that, so transponder ON would work there. But the flight planning obviously included going beyond "international waters" and violating Iranian airspace, and while they would be at 60,000 feet where Iran couldn't touch them why advertise their presence.

This drone shoot-down is one example of the need for the Pentagon to make a needed transition from beating up on third world countries, without fear of advanced weaponry, to the systems needed to fight a peer or near-peer adversary. The idea that any aircraft can be put up there at 60,000 feet with no transponders activated, in or near national airspace during full alerts, and survive, no longer applies. Maybe in Afghanistan but not in Iran. Plus Iran used an indigenous SAM system and not its S-300 to do it! It's a real wake-up call, or should be.

So a little "shock and awe" lesson to the US courtesy of Iran, which probably affected the later decision to cancel any payback, at least for now. Bottom line: Iran is not the usual toothless patsy; it has a formidable military ready to act to prevent the economic strangulation of their country.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 21 2019 15:29 utc | 78

@Don Bacon #78

"Iran is not the usual toothless patsy; it has a formidable military ready to act to prevent the economic strangulation of their country."

Yeah, it's fascinating how Iranian levels of cognition and culture and, therefore, fundamental technological capability are so substantially above anything you find in the Arab world.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 21 2019 15:40 utc | 79

Wouldn't blocking the straits of Hormuz be good to protect the planet from Climate Change. Stop China and India from getting all that oil.

Posted by: NicoleGuman20505 | Jun 21 2019 15:42 utc | 80

Wouldn't blocking the straits of Hormuz be good to protect the planet from Climate Change. Stop China and India from getting all that oil.

Posted by: NicoleGuzman20505 | Jun 21 2019 15:44 utc | 81

Interesting that there does not appear to be any polling to gauge support for war against Iran. Guess the MSM thought that polls showing massive popular opposition would detract from the anti-Iran campaign.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 21 2019 15:52 utc | 82


Good read Don Bacon

Posted by: Full Spectrum Domino | Jun 21 2019 15:52 utc | 83

Campaign of stealth attacks? Iran's "escalation dominance"?

1) The fact is the ONLY act that we know that Iran actually performed is shooting down the drone. They immediately accepted responsibility. No stealthy silence.

It was the US that sought to escalate after the attacks on shipping (by bombing Iran). IMO Iran's downing of the drone was an example of "escalation dominance", instead it effectively but a stop to any further escalation.

2) And it seems highly likely that USA/Trump attempted to get Iran to accept a limited, harmless bombing or missile attack based solely on:

>> cooked up evidence that Iran was responsible for the attacks on shipping;

>> Trump's peaceful intent as shown by the "let's talk" message delivered by Japan's Prime Minister;

>> Trump's prior Syrian attacks whose ineffectiveness demonstrated that Iran had no reason to fear a strike because Trump's belligerence is just necessary political showmanship.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 15:58 utc | 84

correction @83: ... downing of the drone was NOT an example of "escalation dominance" ...

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 21 2019 16:01 utc | 85

Saw the NY Times item republished in my local rag and had a chuckle. Escobar's points are very important and need to be read if initially missed. The refinery explosion and fire's timing in Philadelphia is intriguing. It handles @350,000bbls/day making mostly gasoline and jet fuel that won't be easily replaced. The public admission by Iran that it had another target--and could discern what it was--also should alarm more than a few. The nature of Iran's topography gives it a commanding view for its electronic systems stretching far to the West and can likely monitor everything from sea to 100,000 ft+ altitude--and--it uses band widths capable of unmasking/painting stealth tech: Iran has all-seeing eyes at least to its West and South.

The most important Item I've read so far this morning is this report on the Ufa, Russia Security Conference that was attended by both Iranian and Outlaw US Empire officials. The entire article requires reading, but this is the most relevant excerpt that has some links in the original I won't duplicate:

"Given current global events, the most significant attendees in Ufa are a senior US National Security Council member and the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani. As of now, the only official news comes from Ali Shamkhani’s words concerning the possibility of mediation with the US and the possibility of Iran acquiring weapons systems to fend off US threats. Shamkhani stated:

"'We currently face demonstrative threats. Nevertheless, when it comes to air defense of our country, we consider using the foreign potential in addition to our domestic capacities… Mediation is out of question in the current situation. The United States has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, it has flouted its obligations and it has introduced illegal sanctions against Iran. The United States should return to the starting point and correct its own mistakes. This process needs no mediation.'

"'This [gradually boosting of uranium enrichment and heavy water production beyond the levels outlined in the JCPOA] is a serious decision of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and we will continue doing it step by step until JCPOA violators move toward agreement and return to fulfilling their obligations. [If JCPOA participants do not comply with the deal, Iran will be reducing its commitments] step by step within legal mechanisms that the JCPOA envisions.'"

It was noted by b that the Outlaw US Empire faces a growing international coalition against its actions, which results from sentiments made at the rather many recent international conferences that have already occurred in June that will be topped by G-20 in 8 days. That admission along with the stark mostly unreported economic realities of any armed conflict in the Gulf region is what restrains the war mongers. The Money Power and the Current Oligarchy won't allow war is what I see. And that makes this Friday morning pleasant despite the fog.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 21 2019 16:01 utc | 86

@Don Bacon #78
The transponder being off may well be a violation of air vehicle norms, but stealth is a lot less clear.
For one thing, there is no mention whatsoever of the MQ4 being a stealth vehicle.
The primary benefit of turning off the transponder is identification. Unless the drone is truly stealthy, it would be visible on radar, pretty much the moment it took off (and apparently the Iranians were tracking from takeoff).
The entire ME is so small that a single S400 installation covers most of it - the whole region is lousy with radars from each of the various nations (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria etc) and extra-territorial powers with bases (US, China, Russia).
I'd also note that it is common Western air strategy to fly vehicles near/into adversary airspace in order to get them to turn on, which in turn permits identification and classification for potential later operations. I've seen a list somewhere of the 2 dozen or so manned flights which were shot down engaging in these types of endeavors with the Soviet Union.

Posted by: c1ue | Jun 21 2019 16:02 utc | 87

Posted by: Anon | Jun 21, 2019 8:04:55 AM | 29 (boring that it's yet another Anon, who can't be bothered to distinguish himself all from the other thousands of Anons)

the stage is now maximum restraint and effort at co-operation, which Iran will be expected to respect. That means one more act against US (or false flag by US) and strikes will occur. Not comparable to hostage crisis, here US is projecting being reasonable, even if you read that as being weak.
It's not me who reading the US as weak. It will be the attitude of the Iranians, who haven't forgotten the US failure in 1980 (April 24, 1980), as opposed to the US public for whom it is so many crises ago that they've forgotten. And the Iranians are right. Trump hesitated, as every previous attempt to launch a strike on Iran has finished finally in a stand-down. The risks are just too great (for what the US public is prepared to accept). And we've just seen it happen again. They might be able to screw themselves up to go through with it, and accept the losses and stalemate that will come, but it will do no good at all for Trump's re-election chances.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 21 2019 16:05 utc | 88

Let this admin be warning to those inclined to vote for BoJo.
Yes, it can actually get worse.

Dumpster Fire Presidency.

(But still - At least he's not Hillary, I think.)

Posted by: jared | Jun 21 2019 16:10 utc | 89

Off topic but, I did a search and scanned a few MSM articles on the death of Mohamed Morsi to see if those that did mention this would try and smear Egypt's first elected President in some underhanded way. Found this gem in the New Yorker Magazine:
"Like other Brotherhood leaders, Morsi praised the values of democracy and freedom to members of the foreign press, but, in front of other audiences, he had a history of more troubling statements. He referred to Israel’s citizens as “killers and vampires,” and he declared that neither a woman nor a non-Muslim should be allowed to serve as Egypt’s President. As an engineer, his specialty was precision metal surfaces, but he claimed that planes alone could not have brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11. “Something must have happened from the inside,” Morsi said. For anybody attuned to Egyptian conspiracy theories, Morsi’s coded comment pointed to an obvious culprit: the Jews."

Incredible, if you don't believe the most basic laws of physics can bend or change on some occasions to fit a narrative than now that's code for anti-semitism. Even an engineer has to pretend that sky scrapers can blow up into a dust cloud in 10 seconds leaving a smoldering hole in the ground from being struck by a plane, lest he wants to be a ridiculed in his obituary as a racist.

Posted by: Jason | Jun 21 2019 16:18 utc | 90

Iran said that parts from the drone fell to its territorium. If that is true, it is a proof, that the flight path which USA CENTCOM gave, is untrue. Because the drone was coming from the south and after the missile hit and explosion the parts from the drone are going more north and away from Iran's territorium.

Posted by: Mikael Kallavuo | Jun 21 2019 16:19 utc | 91

Well it looks like Elijah Magnier has finally written the piece he was hinting at releasing yesterday. Here it is:

Iran is pushing US President Donald Trump to the edge of the abyss, raising the level of tensions to new heights in the Middle East. After the sabotage of four tankers at al-Fujairah and the attack on the Aramco pipeline a month ago, and last week’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC – now categorized by the USA as a terrorist body) yesterday shot down a US Navy drone, sending two clear messages. The first message is that Iran is ready for an all-out war, no matter what the consequences. The second message is that Iran is aware that the US President has cornered himself; the embarrassing attack came a week after Trump launched his electoral campaign.

According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.


Moreover, Iran has established a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East. Iran’s allies have increased their level of readiness and alert to the highest level; they will participate in the war from the moment it begins if necessary. According to sources, Iran’s allies will not hesitate to open fire against an already agreed on bank of objectives in a perfectly organised, orchestrated, synchronised and graduated response, anticipating a war that may last many months.

Sources confirmed that, in case of war, Iran aims to stop the flow of oil from the Middle East completely, not by targeting tankers but by hitting the sources of oil in every single Middle Eastern country, whether these countries are considered allies or enemies. The objective will be to cease all oil exports from the Middle East to the rest of the world.


Iran’s economy is under attack by Trump’s embargo on Iranian oil exports. Trump refuses to lift the embargo and wants to negotiate first. Trump, unlike Israel and the hawks in his administration, is trying to avoid a shooting war. Netanyahu has reiteratedhis desire for war with Iran—a war that the US will fight–and is meeting with his Arab allies to help bring it about. As Ha’aretz described Netanyahu’s Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line.

Posted by: jsb | Jun 21 2019 16:20 utc | 92

Generally b has convinced me that Iran have the upper hand in all of this and know it. although when push comes to shove Europe will be solidly pro-US.

Posted by: Michael Droy | Jun 21, 2019 6:12:11 AM | 10

Me: I am not so sure. I do not recall USA having such a bad case for such a risky war. Everything started from withdrawal from a treaty supported by western Europe (not entire Europe, mind you, the "rest" will surely not be pro-US) and China, Korea, Japan and India. Now this withdrawal escalated into severe sanctions that other countries joined under duress.

It should be noted that a somewhat higher oil price is no longer a clear negative for the US economy and may, in fact, by positive. Posted by: c1ue | Jun 21, 2019 11:03:39 AM | 69

Me: oil patch in Texas, Lousiana etc. may benefit, but most states are dominated by consumers who can afford to pay more for gasoline or heating oil but do not like increases caused by their politicians.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 21 2019 16:22 utc | 93

Here are the pictures purportedly showing the downed US drone.

The Top US False-Flag Ops Against Iran Debunked

Posted by: jsb | Jun 21 2019 16:26 utc | 94

Remove Brazil from BRICS - one way or another - and reduce its ability to produce soybeans for the Chinese market. Thereby introducing another potential wedge between China and Russia.

Posted by: AnneR | Jun 21, 2019 11:28:47 AM | 77

I seriously doubt it. Soybean exporters are wealthy farmers and agro business, plus Brazil and Argentina cannot treat export revenue as cavalierly as USA. Simple arithmetic: if you lock out China from import markets, exporters will truly suffer EVERYWHERE, and in Brazil + Argentina they have a clout.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 21 2019 16:28 utc | 95

Jim Stone has offered that an American air operation was attempting to locate Iranian submarines when the drone was shot down. The Iranians have pointed out that they chose not to destroy the accompanying manned aircraft.

From Stone: "[The drone] did cross into Iranian airspace, as proven by the fact that Iran got the debris and not the Navy, which went after it immediately. Iran beat them to it and the Navy could do nothing to prevent the Iranians to from picking up the pieces, a reality of it landing on Iranian turf. Iran shot down the drone to force the anti-submarine aircraft to leave their airspace without killing any Americans. This beyond proves that Iran not only can target American stealth, they can target it selectively and not hit a nearby aircraft. That's BAD NEWS for the U.S.
What is even WORSE news is that Iran did it at 4 AM, which means night attacks won't be beneficial against Iran."

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jun 21 2019 16:32 utc | 96

How about the drone was up there to record the shootdown of the P8, and the sneaky Iranians screwed everything up by shooting down the drone instead (but maybe the P8 got a good recording of the shootdown of the drone.) Anyway, that sounds more like the planning for this sort of incident I would expect from our spooks.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jun 21 2019 16:33 utc | 97

About the time the Shaw left Iran I was at a party and said something silly. An Iranian expat was there and softly remarked that if I knew more about it I would speak differently.

The chatter I read here is subject to the same consideration.

The Big Picture is that the Empire requires Iran to submit, and she will not.

This is a singularity, wherein Morality meets the Logic of Empire.
Withal, it is war that results. This is imperative, regardless of the details or the date.

Posted by: Walter | Jun 21 2019 16:36 utc | 98

This is a Machine translation of an important announcement in an Iranian Telegram channel called "@syriankhabar". They actually warned the spycraft 4 times before shooting it down:

"In the first hours of the morning of Thursday, a US terrorist aircraft spy plane violated Iran's territory and airspace without warning. It violated international rules, so it was targetted by the airspace defense of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. We managed to collect parts of the aircraft near the coast of Iran.

🔸 The American Airborne Surveillance (MQ-4C) flew from the Emirates Diphne Base, near Abu Dhabi, and moved on by shutting down the active systems and equipment that identifies each aircraft. The aircraft moved to the east with complete secrecy from the Strait of Hormuz, then returned to the west after a few hours, and the Army's air defense station again warned the plane 10 minutes before firing.

The head of the airspace of the Revolutionary Guard said, pointing out that the plane was transmitting warnings to its station: "Those who are in control of the aircraft have heard warnings but did not pay attention to it. Because the plane entered Iran's national territory, the airspace of the army it was destroyed.

The United States lost one of the most expensive and most advanced spy planes. The parts of this aircraft are the document of the US aggression to our homeland, which, of course, does not occur for the first time, and we have the most extensive collection of American drone weapons. These are signs of American disregard for international regulations.

🔸 American officials claimed the plane had not arrived in Iran territory, the issue is not a matter between the two neighboring countries, but the issue is between Iran and our enemies. The aircraft is not a conventional aircraft owned by a neighboring country that had taken a wrong route. The aircraft was a spy plane and is actually the world's most advanced spy plane. What reaction would they have if we were doing such a reciprocal action and flying near the beaches of Washington? We did our duty. National security and the defense of the Iranian nation and the territorial integrity of our country are our red lines.

Two hours later, at 2:55 am on Monday, two warnings were given to the aircraft and three hours later, at 3:55, and it finally got hit at 4:05 am on Thursday morning. In fact, the air defense of the army warned the plane four times but the spy plane did not pay attention to the warnings. Of course, another spy plane was flying near the plane, with 35 crew members, and we could hit it, and that was our right, but we only hit the drones.

In previous days, we warned an MQ-9 American aircraft entering our homeland, which they did not pay attention, So this is the result of their own doing."

Posted by: Nick | Jun 21 2019 16:37 utc | 99

If the US had targeted Iranian forces in response to the UAV shutdown, it would have played right into Iranian hands, so perhaps even Bolton hesitated to go forward with it.

A strike would have put the US in the position of having started the true shooting war and allowed Iran to respond in such a way as to really impede tanker traffic. That's where Iran needs to go and that's that path it needs the US to provide it to get there.

The question now is what the US will do when Iran breaks the enrichment ceiling in a week or so. Iran will likely publicize it highly in order to put Trump back into the no-win decision window.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 21 2019 16:52 utc | 100

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